In the words of the companions of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) and the Taabe'en the love and affection for Imam Husain (AS) found in the hearts of the first century of Hijri Muslims was unprecedented. This was because of the extraordinary favors, affection, courtesy and kindness which were expressed by Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) on Imam Husain (AS). Also, those traditions which the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) said in the excellence of the King of Martyrs were popular among the Muslims. These were discussed in the gatherings of the believers. The masses as well as the lords, without exception were aware about it.
After the martyrdom of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), a great tragedy befell the Muslims. In this darkness, the only light the believers could see was of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (AS), Fatema Zahra (p.b.u.h)and her two sons, the leaders of the youth of Paradise - Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (AS). They were the only hopes left. Hence, these illustrious personalities became the focus of the love and respect of the Muslims.
But as we all know that Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) did not live much after the death of her father, the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h). Within ninety days, she expired to join her father in the next world. She was relieved from the difficulties of this world and entered the neighborhood of Allah's Mercy. After her death, Ameerul Momineen Ali (AS) and his two sons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (AS) became the centre of attention of the Muslims.
It was not possible for all those who had genuine love for Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) to keep their hearts void of their love. They were the souvenirs of their grand-father (p.b.u.h). Respecting them was equal to respecting the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h). It will not be an exaggeration to state that the presence of these two gave the city of Medina the same spiritual status which was enjoyed by it during the life of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).
When they used to pass the streets of Medina or go to the Prophet's mosque or any other gathering it seemed as if the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) himself had arrived. A special form of zeal and enthusiasm was found in the hearts of the people. They would feel as if the era of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) had returned. Their spirituality and dedication penetrated the depths of the people's hearts. Those who did not have the opportunity of visiting the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) used to express happiness and pride at being favored with the opportunity of visiting his most evident souvenirs.
People sat in their gatherings and quenched their spiritual thirst through their wise conversations. Apart from the hypocrites, none was found in the Muslim world in the east or the west whose heart was void of their love. On the contrary, some hypocrites and enemies of Ahle Bait (AS) expressed their devotion to deceive the masses for their own political advancement. The love of Hazrat Hasnain (AS) was to such an extent that some people believed that they were being loved more than their father Hazrat Ali (AS).
The governor of Syria, Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan, used to hold meetings in the capital of Syria, Damascus to prepare grounds for the allegiance of Yazid. Anyone who made the blunder of speaking the truth was immediately declared an apostate. Of the people present in the meeting were those who did not abstain from flattery and false praise, the sole aim being to gain proximity to the rulers and the rich.
But in one such gathering Akhnaf bin Qais displayed great courage. He stressed that Muawiya should remain on his truce with Imam Hasan (AS) vis-à-vis selection of his successor. He also admonished Muawiya to respect the feelings and desires of the Muslim masses. Akhnaf clearly mentioned the love and devotion of the people of Iraq towards Ameerul Momineen Ali (AS) and his sons, Hasnain (AS) and said: "O Muawiya, remember that you will not have any excuse or argument in front of Allah, the Almighty if you give preference to Yazid over Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS). Though you are fully aware of their illustrious personalities and lofty aims and ideals."
During his speech, Akhnaf thundered, "By Allah, the people of Iraq love Hasnain (AS) even more than their father Ameerul Momineen Ali (AS)." (Al Hasan wal Husain Sebtaa Rasulillah, pg. 49-50).
Probably, this was the reason that some special companions of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) like Ammar, Qais bin Saad Ansari, etc. who had seen the era of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) and were witness to the devotion of Ameerul Momineen and his spirit of sacrifice, loved Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) more than Ali (AS) himself. This was based on the fact that they were the children of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) and the beloved of Janabe Zahra (SA).
Uqqad says that "Imam Husain (AS) lived for 57 years. Among his enemies and those who bore grudge or malice against him, were those who did not abstain from lie and falsehood. But nobody could dare to find a defect in him or deny his virtues. So much so that when Muawiya received his condemning letter and thought of giving a rebellious reply, he and his advisors did not know how to respond.
How is it possible to find fault with the greatness, majesty and infallibility of Imam Husain (AS)? Muawiya expressed his helplessness thus, "I could make false allegations against Ali, but I do not understand as to what accusations I should make against these two? (Here, the allegation against Ali (AS) was the conspiracy to murder the third caliph, Usman Ibne Affaan. Although, history itself exposed this fact that the co-conspirators in the killing of Usman were Muawiya, Talha, Zubair, etc.) (Abu Ash-Shohadaa, pg. 73)
After the martyrdom of Imam Hasan (AS), the love of the people for his younger brother, Imam Husain (AS) increased. It would not be an exaggeration to state that their hearts were filled with nothing but affection for him. Ibn Katheer writes, "When Imam Husain (AS) and Zubair entered Mecca and resided there, people regularly presented themselves in the service of Imam Husain (AS). They never separated themselves from him. One group after another approached him. They sat around him and listened to him very carefully.” (Samwul Ma'ani Fee Samwizzaat, pg. 139)
Among all the companions of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), Ibne Abbas is remembered with great respect. He was called as the "Light of the Nation". He was from the clan of Bani Hashim and cousin of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). He was senior in age to Imam Husain (AS). He is among those who head the list of the narrators of the traditions of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).
The first and second Caliph respected him during their rule. The latter is known to be even taking his counsel. During the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali (AS), he was considered among his senior companions and students. Inspite of all his magnificence, the famous Sunni historian Ibne Saad in his book Tabaqaatul Kubra writes, "Ibne Abbas would catch hold of the reins of the ride of Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), till they would climb on it and said, They are the children of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).'" (Tazkeratul Khawas of Sibt ibne Jauzi, pg. 445)
Giving due consideration to the magnificence and grandeur of Imam Husain (AS), the second Caliph Umar Ibne Khattab said, "Whatever honor which we have received and you can see, is first from Allah and then due to you." (Al Isaabah, Vol. 1, pg. 333; As'aafur Raaghebeen, pg.183)
The son of the second Caliph Abdullah Ibne Umar was sitting near the shade of Kaaba. On seeing Imam Husain (AS), he said "At this moment, he is the most beloved and the most respected person for the dwellers of the sky from among the residents of the earth." (Al Isaabah, vol. l, pg. 33)
During the life-time of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), the first Caliph, Abu Bakr was in the habit of carrying Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (AS) on his shoulders. (Maqtal-e-Khwarazmi, pg.93)
Relating the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS) in Masjidul Haraam, Abdullah Ibn Zubair said, "Husain gave preference to death with dignity over life with disgrace. May Allah shower His Mercy upon him and curse his enemies. May divine curse befall on the one who issued the order of his murder. By Allah, Husain fasted a lot and performed the midnight prayers regularly.
He deserved the proximity he enjoyed with Allah's Messenger. By Allah, none is a greater sinner than the one who recites the Quran as music. Instead of crying due to the fear of Allah, he sings, drinks wine during the days and indulges in playful and vain things in the nights. He is engrossed in hunting and plays with the monkeys instead of invoking the Almighty (all these are indicators towards the evil person of Yazid Ibne Muawiya). Soon they will be deviated. Know that the curse of Allah is on the oppressors." (Tazkeratul Khawaas, pg.288)
Anas Ibne Maalik says that when the holy head of Imam Husain (AS) was placed in a tray and presented to Ibne Ziyaad, he showed utter disrespect by kicking it and criticized the elegance and beauty of Imam (AS). Anas said, "He was most similar in looks to the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)." (Saheeh Bukhari, Kitabul Manaqib)
The pen will break in the process of writing the excellence of Imam (AS). I do not possess the strength to write more but there remains only one question. "If the hearts of the people were full of love for Imam Husain (AS) and the companions of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) and Taab'een and when they were fully aware of the excellence of Imam Husain (AS), then why did the tragedy of Karbala occur at all ? On the day of Aashoora, the oppressed Imam (AS) demanded to know his offence.
The tyrants did not have any answer except that it was due to the malice which they bore against his father. These were the tyrants whose ancestors and fathers were transferred to hell in the war of Badr, Ohad, Khandaq, Khyber, Hunain etc. by the sword of the master of universe, Ali (AS). Now they had the opportunity to take revenge and the veil of hypocrisy was finally unmasked. When Imam-e-Zamana (AS) reappears, he will destroy all these edifices of oppression and tyranny. O Allah! Annihilate all those who were involved in the killing of Imam Husain (AS) as well as those who are satisfied with it. Aameen.