One of the important lessons that we can learn from Ashura, is to stand against injustice and to advocate the universal rights of every human being regardless of their religion, social status and background. This is surely illustrated, when we look at the Christians who were involved in Ashura.
One might wonder why these personalities wanted to participate in Ashura and support Imam Hussein (Islamic figure) on the 10th of Muharram. What did these personalities see in Imam Hussein (as) and how were they inspired and touched by Imam Hussein’s (as) mission? Why did these great personalities get involved in this event and choose to sacrifice their life to advocate the message and mission of Imam Hussein (as).
Well, let us start by considering the Christians who participated in Ashura. We refer to Wahab ibn Abdullah Al-Kalbi (وهب ابن عبد الله جناب الكلبي) and John ibn Huwai (جون ابن حوي).
In the following section, we will illustrate how and why Wahab ibn Abdullah Al-Kalbi decided to join Imam Hussain (as) along with his mother and wife. In the next article, we will shed light on John ibn Huwai and his role in Ashura.
The narrators described that when Imam Hussein (as) and his companions were heading towards Karbala and reached the Talabia desert (الصحراء التعلبيه) they saw a poor old woman residing within a tent. Meanwhile her young son Wahab and his wife were out searching for water due to the drought.
After having a conversation with the woman, Imam Hussein (as) removed a rock and let the water from the underlying spring flow out from the ground. The sight of water overwhelmed the woman and she gave her sincere gratitude to Imam Hussein (as).
Before Wahab and his wife came back from their search for water, Imam Hussein (as) and his companions had already left their tent and were on their way towards Karbala. Later, Wahab’s mother told Wahab and his wife about her meeting with Imam Hussein (as) and described to them how he miraculously made the water flow out from beneath a rock. Wahab then informed his mother about seeing Imam Hussein (as) in his dream the night before. Wahab told his mother that he felt his dream was a message from God, the Almighty and Merciful. He told his mother and wife that he wanted to meet Imam Hussein (as) and so the three of them began their journey towards Karbala to join Imam Hussein (as).
Unfortunately, the narrations about the conversations between Imam Hussein (as) and Wahab are sparse, therefore we don’t have enough information on why this young and brave gentleman, along with his family, choose to sacrifice their being to support Imam Hussein (as).
One might consider what convinced Wahab and his family to support Imam Hussein’s side and why would they defend the Imam despite it costing them their lives. What might be some similarities between prophet Isa (PBUH)/(Jesus) and Imam Hussein (as) may have triggered the desire in Wahab and his family to get to know Imam Hussein?
The spring of water might be the first thing that attracted Wahab and his family to follow Imam Hussein (as). They knew that this miracle was a proof and a sign that Imam Hussein (as) was an extraordinary person with a strong relation to God, the Almighty and Merciful.
This miracle, preceded by the dream, may have reminded them about the miracles performed by prophet Isa (pbuh)/Jesus. For instance, the miraculous appearance of the spring of water is one of the miracles performed by prophet Isa (pbuh)/(Jesus), while his mother the virgin Mariam (Mary) delivered him in a desert with no water and food, where God the Almighty and Merciful instructed the water to flow out below her feet and blessed her food through changing the dry tree into a date palm. Prophet Isa (pbuh) who is well known for his ability to create miracles and the most prominent ones are: being born from a virgin, healing people who suffered from diseases like blindness and paralysis, which means that both prophet Isa (pbuh) and Imam Hussein (as) were capable of performing miracles.
Imam Hussein’s (as) mother is Lady Fatima and prophet Isa (pbuh) is the son of Lady Maryam (Mary). Therefore, both are born by one of the 4 Great Ladies of paradise. In other words, they have both sacrificed themselves for the sake of humanity.
In both cases, the increasing number of friends and followers induced by prophet Isa (pbuh) and Imam Hussein (as) during their time created fear among the governments of their time. In the case of Prophet Isa (pbuh), they decided to crucify prophet Isa (pbuh) and within six to seven centuries later, the government of the time slaughtered Imam Hussein (as). However, the main difference here is that God, the Almighty and Merciful chose to conceal prophet Isa (pbuh) from his enemies, therefore they ended up crucifying someone else by mistake. Sadly, in the case of Imam Hussein (as), they brutally murdered him, his family and his beloved companions for standing against tyrant rulers.
Prophet Isa (pbuh)/Jesus didn’t use the tactic of fear to spread his mission nor did he use sword in his struggle to establish equality among the citizens. Neither did Imam Hussein (as) travel towards Karbala to initiate a war. That is proven by the fact that he was travelling with his companions and family members including women and children, one of whom was a 6 months old boy. If Imam Hussein’s main goal was to start a war, then why did he bring his family with him? Since a person that is going to war will never bring family members, especially not an innocent baby with him/her.
The initiative behind travelling to Karbala with his family and companions was due to the thousands of letters sent to him by oppressed individuals asking him to help them obtain their rights under the tyrant ruler of their area. Imam Hussein (as) travelled with the intention to try to fulfil their deprived basic needs.
It is possible that Wahab saw in Imam Hussein (as) what he saw in Prophet Isa (pbuh)/Jesus.
As both were dedicated to fighting for equal rights and justice for every human being, regardless of their differences. Furthermore, they were both willing to sacrifice their own lives to secure justice for mankind, and who doesn’t love a person who sacrificed their life to secure the basic rights of humanity. Both personalities are known for their bravery and their strength to repel embracing beliefs against human rights and justice. Imam Hussein (as) and Prophet Isa (pbuh) support a mission to eliminate poverty and none of them were in possession of evilness. Also, both were severely oppressed but ultimately they won each hardship and struggle, and proved to humanity that you can win any battle without an army. They taught mankind how to raise their voices against corruption and tyrant leaders. Ashura is therefore not an event limited to one group of people or religion, rather it’s for the whole of humanity to help us all build immunity against tyranny and disunity.
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