islam, Uncategorized

Husayn Ibn Ali – The Spirituality of Karbala

At certain moments a Truth appears and it shines in the darkness. That Truth shines like a beacon of light and from it, comes a new insight into religion, spiritual living and a new unfoldment of God. This Truth comes as a moment of time yet is timeless, like a burning flame.

As soon as a Truth appears, like a glowing light in the darkness, material living and different opinions work to get rid of it. In the case of Jesus Christ (on whom be peace) the growing darkness of human thinking immediately tried to put it out by killing him, not realising that Truth is eternal, a glimpse of heaven and as a result cannot be extinguished by killing the person demonstrating it. For it is Eternal – God with us.

For  Truth to be accepted it usually comes through one of the main great religions because people can relate to it that way as it is recognisable as a pure version of what was there before. It breaks dogmas, the views of intellectual scholars and restores spirituality where perhaps a previous message has been reduced to academia and where people have lost their way.

After that Truth has been proclaimed, it is almost immediately watered down –  people then try to interact with it in different ways, they cling to human words about it, they visit tombs where the person may have lived and died, they try to connect humanly with the torch bearer, instead of embracing the Truth which the person proclaimed, they rarely demonstrate it. The fact that these messengers died showed that they were not Truth in themselves, but carriers of Truth, and of course it means these people had a special message to proclaim but they did not wish to be worshipped. A better way to see them is with fingers pointing upwards away from their humanity and into higher eternal heights.

When Husayn (on whom be peace) refused to acknowledge Yazid, leading to his death at Karbala – we have to ask the question what was really happening there.

We do know that Muhammed (upon whom be blessings and peace) said  “He who loves me and loves these two, their father and their mother, will be with me at my place on the Day of Resurrection.”[19] and that “Husayn is of me and I am of him. Allah loves those who love Husayn. Husayn is a grandson among grandsons.”

Amongst Sufis, it has been noted that Muhammed (upon whom be blessings and peace)  was created from the Light of Allah (God) and the above verse implies that Husayn´s humanity has a special place in world history. That may well be true, however his message for humanity does not end with his human life, the message he brought exists in eternity, daily blessing humanity.

Let us consider though the spiritual metaphor for Husayn. We know already that Muhammed can be interpretated as “Light” in terms of a metaphor. So if Allah (SWT) loves those who love Husayn, we may be able to see him as a metaphor of Reflection. His role therefore to reflect the Light that is his Grandfather, the Light of God.It is a generally held concept that  the feminine represents a higher concept of God presumeably because of motherhood and as such it is no surprise then that Fatima´s sense of purity and trust in God would produce Husayn.  

Why do we need a metaphor? Because we want to see the message in a pure form, without personality worship. We want to understand the core Truth being demonstrated.

Human concepts of love, truth,  Light or in this case Reflection are subject to human insecurities. A concept of love without spirituality does not last and often turns to hate for it is nothing more than our brains trying to “love”. Our reflection in a mirror may be hated or loved, but reflecting God’s qualities is quite something else.  It is always better to allign these things with God who is reflecting all things good. Husayn clearly was able to reflect and see more of that good than most people at that time.

In order to understand Husayn, we must always begin with God and understand His all-inclusiveness. A true reflection is the perfect likeness the object it is reflecting. In this case, it was Husayn.

What are you reflecting today?

On a material existence, the body of Husayn, his daily habits, his life were in themselves purity, goodness and compassion, we see these as holy but we cannot leave it at that point. We must reach higher. His light he reflects shines into humanity, but on all other planes of existence as well. Not because of Husayn, but because of the Light itself. We can then, visit his tomb and read about his personality, but we are called to see that Light not only on earth but in all dimensions or reality, so we should look for it in Prayer, in Fasting, in Almsgiving and ensuring we also reflect that Light as he did. THat means seeing qualities of Allah (swt) in all of those we meet.

Nothing and no person can quench the reflection of that Light, in fact death could not even do it.  This is because the Light is timeless, eternal and ever present with us. There are those however who seek to lower our beliefs so we are unable to see that Light in our lives and we must be aware of that at all times.

Husayn came to show us the way – not to do the work for us. We must be ever ready to do our own work in reflecting, just as he did.