بسم الله وحده والصلاة والسلام على محمد وآله بعده
What I am going to say is unconventional and may not be well received by some but I know no other way but to say what I believe when invited to talk.
I am not out to antagonize, insult or upset but I want to let those who are willing to listen realize that the roads to the Lord are as many as His creation.
I base what I say on the Qur’an and my interpretation of that text, and my interpretation, I believe, is as good as any.
I shall be reciting verses from the Qur’an in Arabic as I should, but would follow that recitation with as good an English interpretation as is possible.
To talk about Justice and martyrdom from and Islamic perspective takes me to Qur’anic text on the creation of Adam and disobedience of the Devil. There are several references to the event in different chapters of the Qur’an.
To begin with, Allah is God’s name in Arabic and he is called in our part of the world with that name by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sabeans, etc..
I shall recite mainly the verses in Chapter 7.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ
And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated.
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ
[ Allah ] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Iblees] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.”
قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ
[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.
قَالَ أَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
[Iblees] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”
قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ
[Allah] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.”
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
[Iblees] said, “By what you had tempted me, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path.
ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].”
قَالَ اخْرُجْ مِنْهَا مَذْءُومًا مَّدْحُورًا ۖ لَّمَن تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
[Allah] said, “Get out of Paradise, reproached and expelled. Whoever follows you among them – I will surely fill Hell with you, all together.”
In Chapter 39 of the Qur’an, Allah imposes a restriction on Iblees’ freedom but it is only limited to those few faithful!
It seems apparent from the above verses that Allah granted Iblees perpetual life from the day of his disobedience until a specific Day and a free hand on Earth.
Iblees asked permission to tempt Allah’s creation and Allah granted him that right.
By accepting that, we are bound to accept that such an arrangement is at the heart of Allah’s plan for Earth (not The Heavens) and the creation on Earth. In fact it means that Allah has ordained from the beginning of creation that Justice will not prevail on Earth so long as Iblees has a free hand. The only time when Justice will prevail is when Iblees’ reprieve finishes on a day unknown to us because Allah does not tell us in the Qur’an when that is.
It follows that Earth will be in the hand of Ibless and his decedents. The only short times during the history of man when darkness does not prevail on Earth is during the short eras of his Messengers and Prophets, which are like short pulses of light in the dark history of time.
I shall take two leaves from that history to show what I mean, namely that of Jesus and Hussein in relevant to both Justice and Martyrdom.
Jesus (PBUH) is a unique figure in the Qur’an and many Muslims do not really appreciate that reality.
The essence of Jesus in Qur’an is like no other entity. Qur’an says in Chapter 59:
إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he is.
It is important to consider the above verse.
Allah tells us that Jesus was not born as a decedent of Adam as we all are. He is a new creation on his own. As he has no decedents of his own then he remains a single creation of one single being. That is a case the like of which is not repeated in the Qur’an and which makes Jesus stand out as a unique manifestation.
Jesus is described in the Qur’an as having manifested so many Divine characteristics some of which even the Bible does not acknowledge. He spoke on first day of his birth; brought the dead back to life (this is in the Bible: Lazarus)!, created a bird of clay and gave it life; cured leprosy, made the blind see, all in addition to what the Bible tells about him.
Yet when it came to his crucifixion, he submitted and showed no divine capability. My brethren Christians have an explanation which I do not accept. They argue it was Allah’s design to send his only son to suffer for our sin and save us.
The Qur’an tells the crucifixion as follows:
وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ ۚ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا بَل رَّفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.
Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.
I accept the Qur’anic version which is not the general perception among Muslims who seem to simply claim that Jesus was not crucified. But that is not the incident as told in the Qur’an. There was a crucifixion and the perpetrators of the crime and onlookers saw what appeared like Jesus being put on the Cross. So far there is no difference between the Christian belief and the Qur’anic version.
The difference lies in the Qur’an stating that what happened is that Jesus body and soul ascended to Heavens and the flesh put on the Cross was that of a body made by Allah who had the look of Jesus but was not in essence Jesus.
I will leave the explanation of why I believe this version until I finish the incident of the martyrdom of Hussein (PBUH)
The story of Hussein is not Qur’anic because the Book tells us explicitly about what had happened before. However, there is enough historical evidence to support the essence of what happened on that sad day on the 10 Muharrem AH 61.
It is all part of the Divine Will that both the apparent killing of Jesus and Hussein took place so that the belief of the true believers is strengthened
ولكن لِّيَقْضِيَ اللَّهُ أَمْرًا كَانَ مَفْعُولًا لِّيَهْلِكَ مَنْ هَلَكَ عَن بَيِّنَةٍ وَيَحْيَىٰ مَنْ حَيَّ عَن بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَسَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
But [it was] so that Allah might accomplish a matter already destined – that those who perished [through disbelief] would perish upon evidence and those who lived [in faith] would live upon evidence; and indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Did not Jesus and Hussein know what was awaiting them? I have no doubt in my mind as to what the answer is. Jesus who told the people of Palestine that:
وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.
Ought to have known what was going to happen to him.
If Hussein had no divine message to his fate, then he ought to have heeded his grandfather (PBUH) who told him repeatedly that he was going to be killed in Kerbala.
Could not Jesus and Hussein have reversed the awaiting fate? Indeed, Yes.
Both Jesus and Hussein had enough divinity to allow them to rely on one verse in Qur’an to do so.
وَلَوْ أَنَّ قُرْآنًا سُيِّرَتْ بِهِ الْجِبَالُ أَوْ قُطِّعَتْ بِهِ الْأَرْضُ أَوْ كُلِّمَ بِهِ الْمَوْتَىٰ ۗ بَل لِّلَّهِ الْأَمْرُ جَمِيعًا ۗ
And if there was but this Qur’an by which the mountains would be removed or the earth would be broken apart or the dead would be made to speak, but to Allah belongs the affair entirely.
If either of them did not know how to invoke that power in the Qur’an then neither of them is worthy of the Divinity in him. But I believe that both had it.
If Jesus wanted with one sign from his finger he would have turned only Jerusalem but the whole Roman Empire into waste. A man who raises the dead is certainly capable of such an act!
If Hussein wanted he would have had the five thousand Angles who fought with his father and grandfather in the Battle of Badr uprooting Yezid’s army from Kebrala up to Damascus.
So why did neither Jesus nor Hussein attempt to show such Divine power when it was needed?
The reason is in the Divine design for Earth as Allah Willed when HE made Adam and allowed Ibless to disobey.
It is so elegantly explained by a narrative attributed to Hussein’s father during the years of fighting Mua’wyiah, Yzazid’s father.
He is reported to have said once that: “If I wanted I would have run across the desert from Kufa to Damascus; entered Mua’yiah’s palace; kicked him with my small feet and knocked off his throne.
بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُّكْرَمُونَ لَا يَسْبِقُونَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ وَهُم بِأَمْرِهِ يَعْمَلُونَ
Rather, they are [but] honored servants. They cannot precede Him in word, and they act by His command.”
Allah had wanted events to be as they happened.
I come to my concluding remarks which do not fit well with both Christian and Shi’s theology.
I believe that neither Jesus nor Hussein suffered in any way.
It is impossible for me to accept that while Allah is the absolute Justice, yet accept that He would punish an innocent member of His creation. If that be the case, then there is no Justice and we should never endeavour to ask for it.
As I do not subscribe to the concept of inherited sin in Christianity and that of arbitrary irrational Will as Muslims believe, then I cannot accept that Allah would inflict such horrific pain and suffering on two of His greatest creations in Jesus and Hussein!
I am sorry that I would disappoint many people when I say that my grandfather Hussein was not killed in Kerbala by one insignificant soldier in the Devil’s army.
No my friends, Hussein did not have his heart severed just as much as Jesus was not nailed to the Cross. If my Muslim brothers are willing to accept that Jesus was not crucified, then it should be very plausible for them to accept that the same Allah who could not allow Jesus to undergo such suffering could not have allowed Hussein to suffer such a fate.
In both case it was done by Allah making a similar person take the punishment and pain and not Jesus or Hussein.
Hussein’s body and soul ascended to Heavens on 10 Muharrem AH 61 just as the body and soul of Jesus ascended to Heavens on Good Friday 7 April 30 or thereabout.
The incapability coming from the omnipotent is a manifestation of absolute capability!
Lecture delivered at Abrar House London on 19 October 2016