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Karbala – A Barometer for Truth and Falsehood

Allah the Almighty informs in the Holy Quran

Surely, We have guided him (the man) to the right path. Now (after this he may follow the path and) be grateful or he may ignore it and follow the disbelief.

(Surah Insaan:3)

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Allah has bestowed intellect on man through which he distinguishes   between good and evil. When he follows the right path, he attains the heights of excellence so much so that his character reflects the traits and attributes of infallible Imams (a.s.). On the contrary, when he chooses evil, then despite his status, his supposed intelligence and knowledge, he plummets to the depth of disgrace.

It is the exceptional dimension of the incident of Karbala, where men with myriad characters and attributes are seen at one place. Those who chose to follow the path of Imam, they possessed sublime attributes of noble men, while those who opposed him, their personalities exposed the obnoxious traits of repulsive characters. Let us analyze the two kinds of men in relation to Karbala in detail:

Qais bin Musahhar Saidawi

Qais belonged to the clan of Saidawi which is an offshoot of the tribe of Bani Asad. He was the fourth martyr to sacrifice his life for Imam (a.s.) prior to the climax of Karbala. Among Banu Said, Qais was known to be a brave and honourable man who was fiercely loyal to Ahle Bait (a.s.).

After the death of Muawiyah, a group of Shias from Kufa had written letters to Imam Husain (a.s.). One of the dispatches was sent through Qais. He along with Baldur Rahman bin Abdullah Irjee left Kufa and met Imam Husain (a.s.) in Makkah.

His Sacrifice

In response to the letters, Imam Husain (a.s.) summoned Hazrat Muslim (r.a) and sent him to Kufa. Hazrat Muslim (r.a) and Qais reached Kufa together. Hazrat Muslim (r.a) was moved at the overwhelming eagerness of the residents of Kufa to pay allegiance to Imam Husain (a.s.), he immediately asked Qais to return to Imam Husain (a.s.) and inform him about the sentiments of Kufis. Qais was accompanied by Aabis Shakeri and his slave Shauzab. Hazrat Muslim (r.a) had written the letter to Imam Husain (a.s.) 27 days before his martyrdom.

Qais delivered the letter and subsequently embarked on a journey to Kufa with Imam (a.s.). En route, at a place called Hajiz in the region of Batan Ramah, Imam Husain (a.s.) wrote a missive to Hazrat Muslim (a.r), addressing the Kufan Shiites and handed it over Qais.

In the meanwhile, Ibn Ziyad deployed several contingents of his army under the leadership of Haseen bin Numaiyra (may Allah curse him). Haseen posted his men from Khafaan to Qaadisiyah and from Qatfatanah to Talae. Qais took a break from his journey and halted at Qadisiyah, where he was arrested by Haseen.

Even before Haseens men could frisk him and retrieve the message of Imam (a.s.) and discover the names of the loyalists of Imam (a.s.), Qais tore the missive into pieces and according to some narratives swallowed them.

Qais Courage in the Court of Ibn Ziyad

Qais was produced in front of Ibn Ziyad, who questioned him rudely in the following manner:

Ibne Ziyad: Where is the letter of Husain

Qais: I destroyed it

Ibne Ziyad: Why did you do it

Qais: So that you may not know the contents of the letter.

Ibne-Ziyad: Who all were addressed in the letter

Qais : Why should I disclose their names to you

Furious at Qais determined defiance, Ibne Ziyad ordered Qais to abuse Imam Husain (a.s.) from the pulpit. As people gathered around the pulpit, Qais began his address.

He praised Allah and invoked divine blessings on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.) and said :

O People! Husain bin Ali (a.s.) is the best representative of Allah. He is the son of Fatema (a.s.), the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). I have come to deliver his message to you all. I left him at the place of Hajiz so that you all can respond to his call.

Soon after this Qais cursed Ibn Ziyad and his father and eulogized Imam Ali (a.s.).

Qais Martyrdom

Ibn Ziyad was stunned at Qais unabated temerity. Ibn Ziyad gave instructions that Qais should be taken on the roof of the palace, his hands should be tied behind his back and hurled to the ground. Qais was taken to the highest point in the palace; his wrists were tied at the back and thrown off. As Qais landed on the ground, his bones were badly crushed. As he was still writhing in agony and excruciating pain, Abdur Rehman bin Umaiyr pounced on him and beheaded him.

Imam Husain (a.s.) lauds Qais Exemplary Character

Imam (a.s.) heard the news of Qais martyrdom at a place called Azibul Haijanaat. His eyes welled up and he said :

Some of these have lived their lives, while others are waiting.

May Allah make Paradise as our destination and shower His mercy on us and assemble us at the spot which will please Him.

Qais extraordinary courage and gallantry and his unstinted loyalty and dedication to Imam (a.s.) is unparalleled in the annals of history that he defied Ibn Ziyad in the open court and refused to disclose the secret of Imam (a.s.). Qais not only protected the supporters of Imam (a.s.) but also cursed Ibn Ziyad and praised Ahle Bait (a.s.) from the pulpit. Qais was fully aware and conscious that this act may result in his death but he remained undeterred and undaunted in execution of his responsibility and duty towards Imam (a.s.).

The Negative Character – Qazi Shuraih (May Allah curse him)

The followers of evil are actually personification of evil even if they are apparently wise and erudite men. Such sections of learned men had sold off their learning and writings for worldly gains to the followers of evil. It has been the misfortune of the Islamic nation that such people have always been active. The actions and behavior of such men have far reaching reverberations on the history of Islam. Lets analyze one such character from history.

Shuraih bin Haaris al-Kindi belonged to the tribe of Qais bin Ashath. Shuraih was an extremely clever man. His hold on literature, knowledge and poetry was so profound that his statements were regarded as the last word on the subjects. He was a teenager during the times of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but could not meet or see him, yet his name was included among the venerable companions.

Qazi Shuraih: Before Karbala

The second caliph appointed him as the governor of Kufa and continued in the position till the regime of Yazeed. Shuraih remained a judge for 60 years. When due to an act of impropriety, Ziyad Ibn Abeeh, who was miles ahead of Shuraih in cunningness, transferred him out of Kufa to Basra, but had to reinstate him after a year.

When Ibn Ziyad landed in Kufa so that he can forcibly extract allegiance for Yazeed, he clearly instructed Qazi Shuraih to punish the partisans of Imam Husain (a.s.) to such an extent that they should not be left with any option but to desert Imam (a.s.). Shuraih took the instructions so seriously that he crossed all limits in unleashing the inhuman punishment on the people.

Its the same Shuraih who had only a few days ago supported Hazrat Muslim (r.a) and gave shelter to his sons Mohammad and Ibrahim in his own house. But the turn of events made him change in such a way that he asked his son Asad to escort the boys to a place outside Kufa so that he may attain proximity to Ibn Ziyad. Though, if he wished he could have provided amnesty to these orphans through any of his servants. But greed and avarice blinded Qazi Shuraih and lust for power and self corrupted him in every manner.

Qazis Treachery

When Ibn Ziyad heard that Janab Hani Ibn Urwah (r.a) had given shelter to Hazrat Muslim (r.a), he killed him. When the tribesmen of Janab Hani (r.a) heard of this they were enraged. Umar bin Hajjaj, who was father-in- law of Hani, along with 4000 men from Bani Mazaj besieged the palace of Ibn Ziyad. Since there were only a handful of soldiers in the palace, Ibn Ziyad began trembling with fear. He immediately sought help from Shuraih. The Qazi climbed on the rooftop of the palace and in his extreme sugar-coated diplomatic tone, he addressed the crowd and tried to reassure them that Hani has not been ill treated. In fact, none can even dare to glare at Hani, the Qazi said:

The reassurance caused a rift among the crowd. While some disbelieved him outright, others got carried away by his judicial stature and his white flowing beard. The confused crowed soon dispersed thereafter.

The Wicked Verdict on the Killing of Imam Husain (a.s.)

This verdict shook the very foundation of history and opened a door of injustice and oppression against the Ahle Bait (a.s.). In fact, the opposition to Azaadari in the contemporary world and the edicts against them essentially bear the same tone and justification that Qazi Shuraih used in his shamelessly biased opinion against Imam Husain (a.s.).

The ruling indicates a lot of scheming and plotting. In fact, it reeks of conspiracy against Imam Husain (a.s.).

Before issuing the verdict, Shuraih had advised Ibn Ziyad that if he wants to pre-empt any rebellion or other repercussions of the massacre of Karbala, he should ensure that all the scholars, learned men, chieftains, influential elders, scholars of Quran and Hadith should assemble and unanimously sign a covenant. The covenant should clearly state that everyone has to pay allegiance to Yazeed (may Allah curse him) and whoever refuses to pay allegiance to him would be regarded as a rebel and must be executed. The reason for such a covenant would be that all the learned men and intellectuals had agreed to pay allegiance to Yazeed and this would become the basis for any verdict that is issued subsequent to the killing.

Signatures were being extracted from all the supposed scholars and influential men. People became signatories to it either through bribe or for fear of death. Qazi Shuraih too signed the memorandum. It was the same document that was flaunted by Umar bin Saad to his army and later Yazeed and his supporters took refuge in it.

Qazis Fate

Times changed again. This time the accursed Qazi could not control the circumstances. His shrewd manipulations and evil tactics were of no avail to him. Janab Mukhtar (r.a) rose in rebellion and had begun the hunt for each and every man who participated or contributed to the killing of Imam Husain (a.s.).

Qazi Shuraih, known to be one of the main conspirators, was also in the hit list of Janab Mukhtar (r.a). Janab Mukhtars (r.a) men cornered him in the basement of his house and dispatched him to hell.

We earnestly pray to Allah the Almighty to help us in developing the character and traits of Qais Ibn Musahhar (r.a) and expedite the reappearance of His last vicegerent who will avenge the killing of Imam Husain (a.s.) in its real sense and purge the world from the likes of Qazi Shuraih. Aameen!