One of the important matters regarding the movement of Imam Hussain (PBUH) which has been discussed over and over among the intellectuals as well as ordinary people is the question that “Was Imam Hussain (PBUH) defeated or did he achieve victory in Karbala?” At the surface level, the incident came to an end with the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his loyal companions on the evening of Ashura, and the army of Yazid chanted, celebrated, and blew their trumpets as signs of victory. Considering this situation could we consider Imam Hussain (PBUH) as the victorious party?
In any ideology, the differentiation between truth and falsehood is essential. According to the Holy Quran, the universe is based on truth, and Islam considers truth to be everlasting. On the other hand, although Islam does not deny the existence of falsehood, it considers falsehood to be temporary and impermanent.
The originality, permanence, victory, and establishment of truth are mentioned in the Holy Quran in different wordings. For example, in the last verses of Chapter 37, Allah (SWT) says,” And certainly Our word (Our definite promise) has already gone forth in respect of Our servants, the messengers, [which is] Most surely they shall be the assisted ones, And most surely Our forces shall be the victorious ones (1)”.
Does the Holy Quran refer to a military victory? Does it mean that a Prophet or his followers, a truthful man, a friend of Allah, or an Imam are always victorious over their opponents? This is definitely not true, because the Holy Quran itself has narrated the unjustly murder of Prophets in numerous occasions (2).
Although we often witness military battles, not all the conflicts have a military component. Conflicts may be in the form of political, social, etc. In fact, some conflicts may be ideological, in which a party who has a specific ideological view wants to eliminate the barriers to its propagation, or to find a way to preach its own view in the world.
Based on that, what Holy Quran refers to as the victory of the Prophets is definitely not a military victory, rather the victory of the armies of Allah (SWT) and people of truth in the ideological conflict. Therefore, if we say that the Prophets and party of Allah are always victorious, it does not necessarily refer to a military victory.
For example, if we look at the battle between Imam Hussain (PBUH) and the army of Yazid and Ibn Zyiad from the military point of view, Imam Hussain (PBUH) was defeated and the other party achieved victory; however, if we consider the reality of the matter, this was an ideological conflict. In fact, the party of Yazid consisted of those who wanted to eradicate the Islamic thoughts whereas Imam Hussain (PBUH) rose to revive the Islamic thoughts. Therefore, in order to recognize the victorious party, we need to see if whereas Imam Hussain (PBUH) achieved his goal or not. Was he successful in reviving his ideology in the world?
To answer this question, we need to study the history at different stages in time. If we look the ancient history as well as the contemporary era, we realize that Imam Hussain (PBUH) was able to achieve his goal. This movement has been achieving a new victory ever single day for over thirteen hundred years. In other words, the incident of Ashura is alive every year.
Although the children of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) were murdered in the most brutal way in Karbala, and although his family were taken as captives and the Umayyads claimed victory, it did not take long until the eternal promise of Allah (SWT) was fulfilled; eventually, the caravan of the captives returned to Karbala while the left no dignity for the oppressors; the truth became so manifested that even today, Imam Hussain is the symbol of truth, perseverance in the way of truth, and enlightenment for all the freeman and those seeking justice in the world.
Throughout history, the truth and falsehood have always been in conflict, but as mentioned before, the Holy Quran has promised the ultimate victory of truth over falsehood; therefore, it advises people to be faithful, not to be grieved, and to be certain that they will be victorious (3); it orders them not to fear the small number of themselves against the large number of the enemies and all the wealth they have gathered; it asks them not to fear the weapons and the power of the enemies; it orders them to be equipped with faith and truthfulness, and to be true believers, for verily this would lead to their victory. This reality was manifested in its absolute form in the incident of Karbala.
As such, the meaning of the slogan of “Every day is Ashura” is that there is a battle against oppression and falsehood every day, and truth and justice is revived every day. This is indeed a victory; is there a victory more valuable than this? People such as Yazid and Ibn Zyiad go, but people such as Hussain and Abbas and Zainab (PBUT) stay… Indeed those oppressors die but these truthful ones are everlasting and eternal.
(The above is a slection taken from “Truth and Falsehood”, by Martyr Murtada Mutahhari (with some changes and additions))
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon the Arba’een of the martyrdom of the light of guidance and the arc of rescue, the third master of the Shiites, Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his loyal companions.
1. The Holy Quran, (37:171-173)
2. “Surely (as for) those who disbelieve in the communications of Allah and slay the prophets unjustly and slay those among men who enjoin justice, announce to them a painful chastisement.” (The Holy Quran, 3:21)
3. “And be not infirm, and be not grieving, and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers” (The Holy Quran, 3:139)