Imam Khamenei

Imam Hussain's (pbuh) Mubahala: Sacrificing his dearest ones to rise up on the path of God

The following are excerpts from a Dars-Kharij-Fiqh Lecture, delivered on the eve of Muharram on March 12, 2002, which are published for the first time.

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds; and may peace and greetings be upon our Master, the Prophet Muhammad, and his Infallible Household; and may God’s curse be upon all their enemies.

Muharram is before us. One of the important aspects of Muharram is the commemoration of a unique part of history. It is not unique only in terms of its tragedy and sorrow - which, of course, it is - but it is also unique in terms of its epic and the emergence of human greatness, the greatness of the people of truth. If you look at Imam Hussain’s situation, you will see that his movement and uprising with such characteristics was unique. We have had many uprisings, but this uprising with these characteristics is unique. [The situation was such that] the domination of falsehood was increasing day by day with all of its cruelty and impudence. Enjoining good and forbidding evil was not possible at all. The environment was so full of fear that those who used to enjoin good and forbid evil were trying to not become exposed to a situation where enjoining good and forbidding evil was necessary, even bold and audacious people.

For example, Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, who was a bold man, a very audacious man, even he was trying to avoid coming face to face with the caliphate. The situation was this difficult. Someone like Abdullah bin Ja'far, who was Amir al-Mu'minin’s nephew and the son-in-law and the husband of Lady Zainab, was trying to avoid even coming close to the caliphate, because nothing else could even be imagined. A person like Abdullah bin Abbas became isolated from society, it was as if he had gone into seclusion and sat in a corner. People who were eloquent, fluent speakers, prominent figures, important personages of the Bani Hashim and Quraysh, and famous young people from the early years of Islam - each of whom had an honorable history - did not dare to take any noticeable action, let alone ordinary people. This was true not only in the Levant, but even in Medina itself. Then, compare the situation in Medina with other places that did not enjoy the same centrality. There was an unbelievable environment of oppression.

Imam Hussain’s uprising in such a situation was to break this domination. Imam Hussain's movement was aimed at breaking this domination, but not with the intention of seeking power, "I did not move with wicked, wrong, unjust, or corrupt intentions." (1) He did not rise like others who rise up, move, strike, and kill. He did not want to take power. Rather, he wished to enjoin good and forbid evil.

Two outcomes were possible for him. One was that he would win, and the other was that he would be killed. Considering the tragic situation that could be imagined for him, even without the Imam's special knowledge… Well, it was clear; they would show no consideration for him. In such a situation, Imam Hussain did the same thing that the Holy Prophet did with the Christians, which is referred to in the verses of Mubahala in the Holy Qur'an. These days we are close to the days of Mubahala. That is, he brought his children, his female family members, and himself into the field. That is, he took his dearest wealth and all his possessions to defend the truth and to rise up on the path of God.

And then he waited. This patience of Imam Hussain is very important. I once gave a detailed speech about Imam Hussain's patience, but now there is not enough time for this discussion. We cannot understand what patience means. The real meaning of patience becomes clear in its real place. Many people from among the respected elders, the narrators of hadith, prominent figures, respected people, wise men, caring and somewhat caring individuals, kept coming to Imam Hussain and saying, "Sir, in doing this, you are engaging in a useless action, hurting yourself and the Household of the Prophet, and humiliating the people of truth." They were saying such things. From the beginning, when Imam Hussain was planning on leaving Mecca, and some people found out about this, these various ethical obstacles began to emerge in front of Imam Hussain. This continued up until the night before Ashura.

It is [very difficult] to have patience in the face of such events. In the same speech that I mentioned, I said that Imam Khomeini (may God be pleased with him) waited in the same way, and his patience was similar. There were many who told Imam Khomeini, "Sir, we are losing these young people. They are being killed in this way. The country is being ruined." During the revolutionary movement, some were telling him that he was causing the best young people to get killed. Being patient in the face of these clumsy sympathies is a great task, a very great task. It requires much strength. He waited. Patience is not just in the face of physical pressures and sufferings. [Look at] these pressures that are brought in the form of prudence and caution, [where some say,] "Sir, you are acting imprudently." To be patient in the face of these and not give up the path that is clear and which leads to growth, this is the great and beautiful patience that Imam Hussain (a.s.) had.

And then, his companions [are killed] one by one in that horrible situation. This is like someone whose body is cut up into pieces little by little. It was like this for Imam Hussain on the day of Ashura. It was not like a bomb that fell and killed some people. No, every one of his companions who was killed, every one of the members of his household who was killed, it was as if a part of the Imam's blessed body was cut off. And the Imam was patient during each of these events, one by one. He sipped at patience drop by drop. This movement was this great. And the result was clear. As a result, those values that Imam Hussain wanted to remain in the world, remained: the Qur'an, the name of Islam, the values of Islam, the traditions of the Prophet, and in a more limited and important way, Shi’ism, which is the school of the Household of the Prophet, all remained.

If Imam Hussain had not acted in this way, the situation would have been different, and all of Islam would have been destroyed. It would have been destroyed in the same way that during the fifty or sixty years after the demise of the Prophet, Islam had changed to the point where they could kill the dearest member of the family of the Prophet. Well, [the situation] had changed significantly. I have already explained this matter in detail one time. The Islamic world had reached the point where they could openly kill or take captive Imam Hussain, Lady Zainab al-Kobra, the children of the Prophet, and the dearest family of the Prophet. The situation must have changed significantly. And afterwards, in a short time, it could have gotten even worse and Islam could have been completely eliminated. In fact, Imam Hussain acted like a huge stake that held down the tent [of Islam], which a storm was uprooting. He kept it with his blood. Well, this is the greatest epic in the history of Islam, even the greatest epic throughout all of history. This must be preserved. This must be kept alive. This should be used for solving all the affairs of the Muslims wherever they are in history.


  • Ashura
  • AshuraUprising
  • Imam Hussain
  • Muharram
  • Patience
  • Truth