Importance of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) Ziyarat and Levels of the Hereafter – 1
In the 1422 A.H. Muharram issue of Al Muntazar, in the article titled, ‘The visitor of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine – From the Intention of Ziyarat till his return to his native’, we have already mentioned the innumerable merits of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) Ziyarat. Continuing in the same vein, we shall now proceed to appreciate the exalted status of the visitors of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine on the Day of Judgment. Perhaps, some skeptics may doubt that how can a few moments of visitation of Imam’s (a.s.) shrine make the visitor deserve such astonishing rewards.
One reason for such misgivings regarding the amazing merits of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) merits could stem from the fact that we are materialistic in our approach and look at everything from the narrow, worldly perspective.
Indeed in the perspective of Islamic teachings, such doubts and uncertainties will never arise.
Islamic beliefs are tightly entwined with each other with the result that one belief will lead to deliverance provided the believer (momin) also believes in other beliefs related to it. For instance, belief in Tauheed will prove beneficial only if the believer also testifies in the Day of Judgment. Belief in the Day of Judgment will serve its purpose only if one believes in Prophethood. Belief in Prophethood will be advantageous only if the believer acknowledges Imamat, which in turn will reap a reward only if it is supported with belief in Adl (Divine Justice).
Therefore, if a person firmly believes in Tauheed and thinks that it is sufficient for his deliverance and perfection of faith and to this end rejects Prophethood and the Day of Judgment, then he is mistaken. A necessary condition of the belief in Tauheed is that the believer acknowledges all aspects related to Allah and testifies in them. When Allah has repeatedly and vigorously stressed the appointment of the Day of Judgment, then to discard this belief is tantamount to denying Allah’s Warning and Promise and one who denies this has in fact, refuted Allah Himself and his belief in Tauheed is of no consequence.
Similarly, we believe that Allah has raised Prophets (a.s.) for man’s guidance. As a measure of their truthfulness, Allah aided them with clear arguments and miracles. Divine Prophets (a.s.), in order to support their claim of Prophethood and establish the divine link, advanced irrefutable proofs, overwhelming arguments and evidence that were more manifest than the afternoon sun. Under these circumstances, rejecting them is tantamount to rejecting Allah, the One who raised them.
What we can grasp from the above is that belief in the Day of Judgment is a necessary condition for belief in Tauheed. Likewise, belief in Prophethood is a necessary pre-requisite for belief in Tauheed and the Day of Judgment. Similarly, belief in Imamat and Adl is a must for establishing Tauheed, the Day of Judgment and Prophethood. A firm conviction in all these beliefs collectively is a necessary precondition for the acceptance of each individual belief.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), while enumerating the merits of Zakaat elaborated, ‘If one does not pay Zakaat, he has not observed the divine command of Namaz. His Namaz will be folded like an old piece of cloth is folded and it will be thrown on his face. Then it will be said to him, ‘O Allah’s
servant, without paying Zakaat, what do you expect from your Namaz?’
When the companions heard this, they observed, ‘Indeed that servant’s condition is so wretched and pathetic!’
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) retorted, ‘Should I not inform you about someone who is more wretched than him?’
The companions replied in the affirmative.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘A person participated in Jehad and fought most valiantly and finally died. The fairies of Paradise were informed of his martyrdom, the custodians of Paradise learnt of his soul’s departure and ascension. The angels on the earth are informed of the imminent descent of the custodians of Paradise and the fairies. However, no one turns up. The angels of the earth surrounding the corpse are waiting fervently and finally ask each other, ‘What happened, where are the fairies? Where are the custodians of Paradise ?’ A voice addresses them from the seven heavens above, ‘O angels raise your eyes towards the heavens!’
The angels will lift their heads towards the heavens. They will see that the person’s belief in Tauheed and Prophethood, his actions like Namaz, Zakaat, charity and other virtuous actions were made to halt below the skies. The skies resembled a huge assembly. In every direction – north, south, east and west, there were only angels. The angels who had recorded that person’s deeds and the angels who present the deeds were inquiring as to why the doors of Paradise had not been thrown open to accept the martyr’s deeds. Then Allah commands and the doors are opened. Then it is announced, ‘O angels, if you can enter, then enter by all means.’ However, try as they might, the angels could not lift the actions in order to enter the skies.
The angels confess, ‘We do not possess the capacity to lift these deeds.’ A voice from Allah’s side declares, ‘O angels, you cannot lift these actions to enter the skies. In order for these actions to pass through the skies and occupy a place in Paradise , there must be a channel of mediation for them.’ The angels inquire, ‘O Allah, what is that channel of mediation?’
Allah informs, ‘The channel for these deeds is the love (Wilayat) and attachment of My Prophet’s brother – Ali (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.). This is the only factor that will enable the deeds to negotiate their path towards Paradise .’
After being enlightened with this information, the angels once again cast a glance at the person’s deeds. However, they do not see the love for Ali (a.s.) and his infallible children (a.s.). Likewise, they could not locate the enmity with the enemies of the Imams (a.s.). Then Allah commands the angels, ‘Take these actions away and deposit them in the capitals of My Kingdoms. The ones worthy of them will take them away and will deposit them with the rightful owners.
The angels carry the actions to the neighboring region. Then Allah’s voice thunders, ‘O Flames of Hell, take these deeds and hurl them in Hell. This is because the owner of these deeds has not presented his deeds through the channel of the love of Ali (a.s.) and his infallible children (a.s.). The angels take these deeds away. These very deeds become a source of tribulation and calamity for that person because they were devoid of the all-important element of love of Ali (a.s.) and his pure progeny (a.s.).
Then these actions shall call out to the hostility towards Ali (a.s.) and attachment towards his enemies. Allah shall make a black, horrific form akin to a crow and eagle, dominant over these deeds. This black and ugly form shall spit fire and destroy all his deeds. Only his affection for Ali’s (a.s.) enemies and his rejection of Ali’s (a.s.) mastership shall remain which shall consign him to the most despicable portion of Hell. All his (good) actions shall be destroyed while his evil actions shall increase manifold.
This is the position of the one who shall suffer more indignities and disgrace than the one who forsakes Zakaat.’
(Tafseer-e-Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.),pg. 76-79, Mustadrak al-Wasaael vol. 1, pg. 163, tradition 40)
There are several traditions of this nature explicitly outlining the futility of one’s beliefs and actions devoid of love and affection for the infallible Ahle Bait (a.s.) and unaccompanied with the enmity and hostility towards their enemies. Far from granting access to Paradise , such actions and beliefs will drive the person to the depths of Hell. The visitation of shrines of the infallible Imams (a.s.), particularly Imam Husain (a.s.) is a tremendous demonstration of this love and affection. Since love and attachment are most critical, the importance of visitation increases manifold since it is the best proof and evidence for it. Visitation strikes a chord between the Imam (a.s.) and the visitor that takes root in the latter’s heart. It is not just an emotional bonding like one has with one’s father or mother. Rather it is a bonding rooted in recognition that the Imam (a.s.) is Allah’s special representative on earth upon His creatures, obedience and submission to whom is mandatory by divine commandment. Apart from man, every atom on this earth is obedient and submissive to the Imams (a.s.) in line with the divine decree. Man in his ignorance and haughtiness dealt with the Imams (a.s.) most ruthlessly and killed them mercilessly with brute force and animal predisposition.
The oppression on the divine representative is in reality atrocity committed against Allah Himself and stark violation of His explicit commands. Visitation of the oppressed Imam’s (a.s.) shrine is an expression of one’s heartfelt sympathy with him and an explicit action signaling hostility and hatred for his oppressors. Visitation is a gesture that not only shows one’s affection for Imam’s (a.s.) personality but also highlights one’s satisfaction with Imam’s (a.s.) religion, his way of life and his excellent morals. Likewise, the visitation serves as a manifest expression of hostility and dissociation from Imam’s (a.s.) enemies, their beliefs, ideologies, actions and disgraceful traits. Let us see the glorious merits and exalted station of the visitor of Imam’s (a.s.) shrine on the Day of Resurrection. We need to note that all that has been outlined in traditions by the infallible leaders (a.s.) is addressed to us, who possess defective intellects and limited powers of comprehension. These traditions only give us a glimpse of what awaits the visitors of Imam (a.s.) on the Day of Resurrection. Their real station planned by Allah, the Almighty, is beyond our faculties of comprehension and is known only to Allah Himself and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Now that we can appreciate the importance of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) visitation, let us try to decipher the splendid station of Imam’s (a.s.) visitor on the Day of Judgment. Obviously this can only be illustrated by the one who sees the world and the hereafter alike. In other words, the hereafter is as evident for him as somebody sitting in front of him. We have already highlighted in last year’s edition that the visitor’s honor and distinction is enhanced the moment he intends going for visitation. Generally, one does not tend to remember a solitary meeting with anyone much intensity and fervor. However, it is the majestic station of the pure and infallible members of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) that a solitary visitation at their shrine not only remains etched in memory for a long time but also serves to solve one’s problems of the world.
Pangs of Death
It is narrated that death pangs can be very torturous. The agony at the time of death can be compared to a silk cloth being pulled against a thorny bush thereby shredding each thread of the cloth. On the one hand, the dying person experiences the pangs of death, and on the other hand there is remorse on separation from relatives and friends. However, for the visitor (of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine), these difficult stages are made easy and comfortable via the intercession of the Imams (a.s.).
One who wants to get respite from the difficulties of death and hopes for ease and tranquility instead, must visit Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine as much as possible because visiting Imam (a.s.) is like visiting, the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.).
(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat of Ibn Qoolwayh (r.a.), pg. 150, Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 101 pg. 77)
Janabe Zahra (s.a.) greets the Visitor
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) relates,
‘Janabe Fatema binte Mohammad (s.a.) calls upon the one who visits Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine. She seeks forgiveness for his sins and his sins are forgiven.’
(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat pg. 118)
When the Ones who are served by the angels (i.e. Ahle Bait (a.s.)) go to the visitors and seek forgiveness for their sins, then it is indeed good fortune for the latter and an honor without any parallel.
Imam Husain (a.s.) visits the Visitor
Ali b. Mohammad narrates, ‘I used to visit Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine every month. But, as I grew older, my weakness got the better of me and I missed performing the visitation in one month. After some days, I set out on foot for another visitation. I reached the shrine in a few days. I recited the namaz and fell asleep. I saw Imam Husain (a.s.) in a dream. Imam (a.s.) had just left his shrine. He addressed me – You were virtuous and affectionate towards me. Why did you turn oppressive? I replied – I have grown old and weak and yet, have come in your presence. There is a tradition narrated from you, I wish to hear it from you. Imam (a.s.) asked, “Which tradition?”
I replied, “It is narrated from you that the one who has visited me in his lifetime, then after his death, I will visit his grave. Imam (a.s.) affirmed, “Yes I will. Even if he is in Hell, I will rescue him from it.’
(Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 101, pg. 16)
Acclaimed Shiite scholars have explained that this visitation could be at the time of (the visitor’s) death, while he is being laid to rest in the grave.
In the grave, man will experience unprecedented loneliness. He will be akin to a stranger in an alien land. Various types of dangers, the likes of which he had only heard before, will confront him. Terror and dread will surround him. No one is going to visit the inhabitant of the grave. Even if one does visit, he will come at a distance, recite Surah Fateha and depart. The closest and dearest of relatives will not accompany the deceased inside the grave. But the one who has visited Imam Husain (a.s.) will be fortunate enough to have Imam (a.s.) visit him in his grave. After Imam (a.s.) pays him a visit, he will feel no grief and terror. Indeed after Imam (a.s.) says
“Peace be on you”, no difficulty shall remain and there is no comfort that he shall not experience.
After being informed of the noble and blissful consequence of Imam’s (a.s.) visitation, only the unwise will dare to show negligence and forsake urgency and perseverance in this regard.
Safety from Squeeze in the Grave
If someone pinches us even playfully or if our finger is caught in the door wedge, our pain and agony can be intense. The signs of the wound can last for a long time highlighting our discomfort. During the squeeze in the grave, the walls of the grave converge to crush the corpse in the grave.
We can well imagine the condition of the corpse. We know that we will die one day. For a moment, let us try to imagine that we are dead and the walls of the grave are crushing us and squeezing our ribs into each other. A simple attempt to imagine this scenario is enough to freeze us, then what about the actual squeezing! The visitation of Imam’s (a.s.) shrine comes to our rescue even at this difficult stage and salvages us from its perils.
Imam Mohammad Baqer (a.s.) relates,
‘If people knew the significance and merit of visiting the sacred shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.), they would have died with enthusiasm for visiting it and their breaths would have stopped with its craving.’
The narrator inquired, ‘What is the reward for visiting the sacred shrine?’
Imam (a.s.) informed,
‘One who visits the shrine with zeal, Allah will recompense him with the reward of 1,000 accepted Hajj, 1,000 Umrah, 1,000 martyrs like the martyrs of Badr, 1,000 fasting ones, 1,000 accepted charities, freeing 1,000
slaves to earn divine pleasure. He will be secure from difficulties and calamities for the entire year, the least of which is Satan. Allah will station an angel on his front, back, left and right who will safeguard him. If he expires in that year, angels of mercy will participate in his shrouding and burial. They will seek divine forgiveness for his sins. They beseech Allah to pardon his transgressions till the time they accompany his bier to the grave.His grave is made wide and expansive for him till the eye can see. Allah grants him security from the squeezing of the grave. The presence of Munkar and Nakeer does not instil fear in him. A door of Paradise opens up for him inside his grave. His list of deeds is presented to him in his right hand. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be blessed with a brilliance with which the East and the West shall be illumined. An announcer will announce, “This is the one who visited Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine with zeal and eagerness. After that on the Day of Resurrection, there shall be none but he would wish – If only I had also visited Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine.”
(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat, pg. 143, Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 101 pg. 18)
The above tradition is indeed incredible and an invaluable treasure for the visitors of Imam Husain (a.s.). Along with security from the squeezing of grave, the visitor is also assured of protection from Munkir and Nakeer. Munkir and Nakeer are called thus for the awe and terror they infuse in the corpse.
The place of resurrection shall be illumined with his light
In the tradition mentioned earlier, we find the description of the visitor’s brilliance. Indeed with his radiance, the east and west will be lit up. Moreover, a special angel on the land of resurrection will introduce the visitors to the onlookers and this will leave such an impact on them, that all shall wish that they had visited Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine. And why should this be surprising? After all, Janabe Jaun (r.a.) was bestowed a special illumination by Imam (a.s.) in Karbala, which illumined the entire battlefield. For, Imam (a.s.) is the centre of divine illumination and brilliance, the one who is associated with him, is also gifted a portion of this light.
The Shade of the Standard of Hamd
Allah has blessed the immaculate Ahle Bait (a.s.) with innumerable distinctions and merits that have no parallel. One of these merits includes the Standard of Hamd. This Standard unfurls 70 times and each round of the flag is more expansive than the Sun and Moon. Allah conferred this Standard
to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who shall entrust it to his standard-bearer -Ameerul Momeneen Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.). All the Prophets (a.s.) and successors (a.s.) shall be below the shade of this Standard.
(Haqq al-Yaqeen by Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) pg. 450)
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) relates,
‘On the Day of Resurrection, the announcer shall cry out, “Where are the visitors of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine?” A multitude of people shall come forth, whose count shall only be possible for Allah. They shall be asked, ‘What did you seek by visiting Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine?’ They shall reply, ‘We have visited it out of love for Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and affection for Imam Ali (a.s.) and Janabe Zahra (s.a.). We sought forgiveness (for our sins) by seeking mediation through the oppression and tribulations that they were made to undergo.’ They will be told, ‘Mohammad (s.a.w.a.), Ali (a.s.), Fatema (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) are over here. Join them as you share their status with them.’ The multitude of visitors shall gather under the shade of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Standard. The Standard shall be upheld by Imam Ali (a.s.). The visitors shall lead the Standard, rather they shall surround the Standard from all sides and march towards Paradise .’
(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat pg. 141, Behaar al-Anwaar by Allamah Majlisi (r.a.), vol. 101 pg. 21)
Indeed the status of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) visitors is awesome. They shall gather below the very Standard that is the gathering place of all Prophets (a.s.) and successors (a.s.) and shall share the exalted station of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Handshake with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) and the Prophets (a.s.) Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) urged Muawiya b. Wahab,’O Muawiya! Never abandon Imam Husain’s (a.s.) visitation out of fear. Don’t you want to be amongst those with whom the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) will shake hands?’
0(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat, pg. 118)
In another tradition Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) informs, ‘If someone performs one namaz behind Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine, he will meet Allah on the Day of Resurrection while everything around him will be immersed in his brilliance. Allah will honor and revere the visitor of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine. He will not permit the Hell-Fire to touch him. The visitor’s station is (not less than) Hauz-e-Kausar. Ameerul Momeneen Ali (a.s.), while he is stationed at the Hauz, will shake hands with him and quench his thirst with the water of Kausar.’
(Kaamil al-Ziaaraat, pg. 123, Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 101 pg. 78)
Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) relates, ‘One who wishes to shake hands with 1,24,000 Prophets (a.s.) must visit Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine on 15th Shabaan. Angels and the souls of Prophets (a.s.) seek divine permission to visit Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine and will be granted the same. Indeed, fortunate are those who shake hands with the Prophets (a.s.) and with whom the Prophets (a.s.) shake hands. Among the Prophets (a.s.) are the five esteemed Apostles (Ulul Azm) – Hazrat Nuh (a.s.), Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), Hazrat Eesa (a.s.) and Hazrat Mohammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.).’
Shaking hands with Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is a blissful experience for a believer, even if it is in a dream. If it ever happens, the believer will consider himself most fortunate and privileged. Then what about those people who will find themselves being approached by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) and the Prophets (a.s.) for shaking hands?