Hussain story is the archetype that reminds us of the importance of standing up to injustice and tyranny. In every land and time, for every nation and race, Hussain’s story provides inspiration and encouragement for people: to become aware of oppression and to take steps, however small, to speak and act against it. Are Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King’s stories only relevant to Hindus and Christians respectively?
In his own words, Hussain justified his actions by attributing them to a desire to reform the nation: to encourage the community to goodness and to stand up to falsehood.
The stand of Hussain against the forces of Yazid is timeless because in every generation there exists oppressors and the oppressed. A study of his life and example inspires and reminds an individual of the need to become involved in the stand against oppression wherever it exists.
The rulers of the time attempted to dismiss Hussain’s stand as a failed attempt by a rebel to gain power for himself and they began a systematic and abiding propaganda campaign to spread this message. This was but a ploy to mask the uncomfortable truths that became apparent due to the manner in which they murdered him and his small group of comrades and family.
To explain their callous behaviour they created the myth that Hussain’s real reason for making a stand was that he was seeking to become the Caliph himself.
The measure of success and failure is best made through the long lens of time. Yazid ruled for just three years, and today is a vilified and reviled figure. History shows that the true victor was undoubtedly Hussain, who is forever remembered for his stand for justice and truth.
The Existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard put it best when he said: ‘The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins.’