It is a measure of the nobility of his death that before many know much about the life of Hussain they know about the way he died.
By now you have perhaps come to know about the events surrounding the death of Hussain. You may have heard about his stand against oppression and injustice, you may have learnt of how he, and his band of 72 men, stood against an army of 30,000 after being denied water for three days and nights. Perhaps you heard about his forbearance whilst his 6 month old son was struck with an arrow, or his patience after his nephews were slaughtered and his endurance on seeing the arms of his beloved brother severed. But if Hussain’s death is a lesson by which we can live our lives, his life is no less of a lesson.
As I sit here pondering about which of the stories of this great man I can narrate to you, one stands out to me. After one particular battle Hussain saw a member of the enemy’s army – who had fought his father, Ali, in battle – with roped tied around his wrists. The man called out to him, “Hussain, I ask you to please remove this rope from around my wrists as it is making me nervous.”
Hussain went to his father, the commander of his army, and said to him, “I know that you would never tie a rope around a man’s wrists that would cause him any pain, but a member of the opposition has told me that the rope around his wrists is causing him a degree of nervousness, do you allow me to remove this rope?” His father granted him permission but enquired why Hussain wished to bestow this favour upon this man. Hussain replied, “When a person asks something of me, how can I possibly refuse? I cannot bear to disappoint the one who asks something of me.” He then proceeded to untie the man’s wrists.
The poignancy of this story lies in the fact that the very man whose discomfort Hussain eased on that day would deny Hussain even a single drop of water as he lay dying on the scorching sands of Karbala and would instead sit on his chest as he severed his head. He would then go on to slap Hussain’s young daughter as she cried for her father.
Stories of Hussain’s kindness to everyone, friend or enemy, no longer shock me; after all, what else would I expect from a man whose father, after being stabbed, said of his attacker, “Give him something to drink, he looks thirsty, feed him what you feed me, give him shelter like you give me shelter.”
Kindness is an that any human being is capable of but in our world it is so easy to forget to bestow acts of compassion on those around us – usually not because people don’t have good hearts but because our lives are so busy that sometimes we may forget to be kind. Hussain once told a companion, “Every human being is entitled to kindness for kindness is like the rain which does not choose where to fall, but falls upon every land.” This, I think, is exactly what kindness should be, something we bestow upon everyone and anyone.