“9th of Rabi al-Awwal is the day of Eid. It is our greatest Eid and the Eid of our followers.” (As narrated to Ahmad ibn Is-haq al-Qummi by Imam Muhammad al-Hadi (A)
With heavy hearts, we take this opportunity to bid farewell to the Martyrs of Karbala as the Ayyam-e-Aza come to an end. We will have to wait for another year to witness and experience maajlis, matam, Ashura, Arbaeen, mourning, and azadari at this scale. As we remove the black cloth from the walls, we salute the Martyrs of Karbala and declare that we are with you, we are with you, surely we are against your enemies. We will endeavour to perform your Ziyarat, and will endeavour to shed tears in your remembrance every Thursday night. Furthermore, we will strive to apply the principles you stood for in our daily lives; the foremost of which is dedication and loyalty to the Imam of the Time (A).
Ahmad ibn Is-haq al-Qummi was a great companion of Imam Hassan al-Askari (A). On the 9thRabi al-Awal, Muhammad Hamadani and Yahya Baghdadi came to visit him and were informed that Ahmad was busy performing Ghusl for that day. When they inquired what the Ghusl was about, they were told that Ahmad had heard from Imam Muhammad al-Hadi (A), who said: “9thof Rabee’ al-Awwal is the day of Eid. It is our greatest Eid and the Eid of our followers.”
After performing his Ghusl Ahmad ibn Is’haq said to the two visiting men: “I have performed Ghusl because today is the Eid of 9th Rabi al-Awwal. I visited Imam Hassan al-Askary (A) on this day and noticed that his ring was shinning. The people of his household wore new clothes and had applied perfume. When I asked the reason, Imam (A) said, ‘Today is 9th Rabee’ al-Awwal. It is the day of Eid for us and for our follower.”
Narrators of history suggest four historic events which mark the day of 9th Rabi ul-Awal as significant. Firstly, historians are of the opinion that the Holy Prophet (SAW) was born on the 9th Rabi al-Awal. There are two other opinions: 12th Rabi al-Awal and 17th Rabi al-Awal respectively. For the Shia’hs, the most popular narration is the one which states that the Holy Prophet (SAW) was born on the 17th Rabi al-Awal 570 AD.
Whatever the case, its date does not make a big difference. Ayatullah Ruhullah Musawwi al-Khumaini (RA) had declared the week between 9th and 17th Rabi al-Awal as Usboo’ al-Wahda meaning “the week of unity amongst Muslims.” Muslims all over the world are urged to get together and celebrate the birth of the Holy Prophet (SAW) for the whole week.
Secondly, it is noted that the Prophet of Islam himself was seen smiling and ‘celebrating’ on this day while in the presence of Imams Ali, Hassan and Hussain (A) and said, “It is on this day that Allah will destroy your enemies and the enemies of your grandfather and it is on this day when Allah will accept the actions of your Shi’a and those who love you. This is the day when the words of Allah came true where He said (in the Qur‘an): ‘So those are the houses fallen down because they were unjust.’ (27:52) And this is the day when the Pharaoh (Firawn) of the time of the Ahlul Bayt was destroyed ...”
Thirdly, 9th of Rabi al-Awal is also known as Eid-e-Zahra meaning the festival of Fatima al-Zahra (A), because 3 to 4 years after the tragedy of Karbala, it was on this day that joy and happiness was restored in the family of Ahlul-Bayt (A). From the tragedy of Karbala in 61 A.H. till this day, the family members of the Holy Prophet (SAW) had continuously mourned and grieved the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (A).
Then Mukhtar bin ‘Ubaydullah al-Thaqafi, together with Ebrahim bin Malik al-Ashtar and others rose to avenge the blood of Imam al-Husayn (A). They arrested every killer of Karbala and executed them. Finally, Mukhtar arrested ‘Umar ibn Sa’d (commander-in-chief of Yazid’s army at Karbala) and ‘Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad (governor of Yazid in Kufa). He beheaded them and sent their heads to Imam Sajjad (A) in Medina. These two heads reached the Imam (A) on 9th Rabi al-Awal and on seeing them, Imam (A) went into prostration and said, “I thank Allah who kept me alive to this day so that I could see the heads of the tyrants who killed my father.” He then instructed the members of his family to remove the clothes of mourning, adorn themselves and celebrate the day with joy and happiness.
Lastly, 9th Rabi al-Awal is the first day of the Imamate of our Living Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (ATF) – a day of rejoicing and celebration.
It is true that an Imam is an Imam from birth but every Imam assumed the official role of his Imamate after the death of the previous Imam. The reason why we celebrate, in particular, the Imamate of our Living Imam (ATF) is to perhaps remind ourselves of his presence and about our responsibilities towards him. Imam Hassan al-Askari (A) passed away on 8th Rabi al-Awal 260 A.H. and our 12th Imam (ATF) assumed his Imamate formally at a young age of 5 years on 9th Rabi al-Awal 260 A.H.
One of the ways which we can strive to be amongst the companions of our Imam is to follow the responsibilities which rest upon us, including the recitation of Dua al-Ahd (the Pledge) every morning in which we proclaim: “O’ Allah, truly I renew on the dawn of this day and all the days of the remainder of my life my pledge, covenant and allegiance to him, as my obligation, which I shall neither contravene, nor neglect … O’ Allah include me among his helpers, defenders, those fulfilling his wishes and commands, his defenders, the fore-runners to carry out his intentions and those to be martyred in his presence … O’ Allah: make him the refuge for Your oppressed servants; a helper for him who has no other helper besides You; the reviver of the commandments of Your book which have been neglected; the strengthener of the sciences in Your religion, and the traditions of Your Prophet. May Allah’s blessing be upon him and his progeny.”
Bibi Sakina was the youngest daughter of Imaam Husayn. She was a vivacious child, full of love and happiness. Everyone loved Sakina. She was also a very religious girl. She enjoyed reading the Holy Quraan and never missed her prayers. From the age of two she took great care to make sure that her head and face were properly covered when in public.
Sakina was Imaam Husayn's most beloved child. Our Imaam was often heard to say, “A house without Sakina would not be worth living in!” She always had a sweet and cheerful smile and a very friendly nature. Other children sought her company as much as the grown ups did. She was very generous and always shared whatever she had with others.
There was a special bond between Hazrat Abbas and Sakina. He loved her more than he did his own children. If Sakina requested for anything, Abbas would not rest until he satisfied her request. There was nothing that Abbas would not do to make Sakina happy.
During the journey from Madina to Mecca and then Mecca to Karbala’, Abbas was often seen riding up to the mehmil in which Sakina sat to make sure that she had everything she wanted. Sakina loved her uncle just as much. While in Madina she would, several times a day, visit the house in which Hazrat Abbas lived with his family and his mother, Ummul Baneen.
Like any other four-five year old when Sakina went to bed at night she wanted to spend some time with her father. Imaam Husayn would tell her stories of the prophets and of the battles fought by her grand-father Ali. She would rest her head on her father's chest and Husayn would not move from her until she fell asleep. When from the second of Muharram the armies of Yazid began to gather at Karbala’, Husayn said to his sister Zainab, “The time has come for you to get Sakina used to going to sleep without my being there!” Sakina would follow her father at night and Husayn had to gently take her to Zainab or Rubaab.
At Karbala’ when from the seventh Muharram water became scarce Sakina shared whatever little water she had with other children. When soon there was no water at all, the thirsty children would look at Sakina hopefully, and because she could not help them she would have tears in her eyes. Sakina's lips were parched with thirst.
On the Ashura day, she gave her Mashk to Hazrat Abbas. He went to get water for her. The children gathered round Sakina with their little cups, knowing that as soon as Hazrat Abbas brought any water, Sakina would first make sure that they had some before taking any herself. When Sakina saw Imaam Husayn bringing the blood drenched 'alam she knew that her uncle Abbas had been killed. From that day on Sakina never complained of thirst.
Then came the time when the earth shook and Sakina became an orphan! But even then she always thought of the others first. She would console her mother on the death of Ali Asghar and when she saw any other lady or child weeping Sakina would put her little arms around her.
Yes Sakina never again asked anyone for water. Bibi Zainab would persuade her to take a few sips, but she herself would never ask for water or complain of thirst!!!!
From the time when Imaam Husayn fell in the battle field, Sakina forgot to smile! Kufa saw her as a sombre little girl lost in thought. Quite often she would sit up at night. When asked if she wanted anything, she would say, “I just heard a baby cry? Is it Asghar? He must be calling out for me!”
Knowing that her weeping upset her mother, Sakina would cry silently and quickly wipe away her tears! In the prison in Shaam she would stare at the flock of birds flying to their nests at sunset and innocently ask Bibi Zainab, “Will Sakina be going home like those birds flying to their homes?”
Then one dreadful night Sakina went to bed on the cold floor of the prison. For a long time she stared into the darkness! The time for the morning prayers came. Sakina was still lying with her eyes wide open. Her mother called out: “Wake up, Sakina! Wake up, it is time for prayers, my child!” There was only the painful silence! Our fourth Imaam walked up to where Sakina lay. He put his hand on her forehead. It was cold! He put his hand near the mouth and the nose. Sakina had stopped breathing. In between sobs Imaam Zain ul 'Abideen said: “inna lil-Lahi wa inna ilay-hi raja’uun.”
How was Sakina buried? Zainab held the still child as Imaam Zain ul 'Abideen dug a grave in the cell. As the grave was being filled up after the burial the mother let out a scream! How could anyone console Bibi Rubaab? What could they say? They huddled around her, and the prison walls began to shake with the cry: “ya Sakina, ya madhloomah!!” Bibi Rubaab put her cheek on Sakina's grave and cried out: “Speak to me, Sakina! Only a word, my child! Speak to me!!”
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