I could not, in good conscience, let this day pass without acknowledging it and doing my part to tell you about the great personality that was Imam Hussain. On this day, the Day of Ashura, Imam Hussain, along with 72 companions and his family, were brutally killed in the Battle of Karbala. Rather than lose your interest with the usual historical facts, I have decided to speak about my most important take-away from the tragedy of Karbala. This is extremely personal and my only attempt at explaining this, but I feel compelled to share it. You will need to read this and this to give you the proper context.
My first memory of learning about the story of Abu Fadhil Abbas was when I was nine years old. Back then, I was in a class with other girls my age learning about the Battle of Karbala in an age-appropriate way. I remember feeling connected with Abu Fadhil because he didn’t have the use of his arms before he died, just like how I didn’t have the ability to use my legs in a typical way. From that day on, he’s had a special place in my heart (and he always will). Although my circumstances paled (and still do) in comparison to his, he was the first Islamic figure I felt I could relate to, and that was a powerful feeling because it strengthened my faith in a way I can’t explain. My love for Abbas only grew over the years, and this connection evolved into me relating to his anguish over not bringing back water to the camp of Imam Hussain (as). I know the feeling of wishing with everything you have to be able to something and having your body fail you. Recently, I have noticed another evolution of this connection that I feel so strongly. I like to think of Abbas as special because he had a different goal on the Day of Ashura. He didn’t die fighting against the army of Yazid like the rest of the Hashemites (his family), although he asked many times for the permission to do so. His brother, Imam Hussain (as), did not give him permission because he knew Abbas’ destiny was to die in his attempt to bring back water to the camp. In the same way, I go through phases where I wish I could walk like everyone else and not have to deal with my disability. However, I have realized that this is my destiny, and that may be because I have something special to do in this life–just like Abbas’ special mission. I also take comfort in knowing Abbas’ reward for his valiant efforts. There is a narration (unfortunately I do not have a source for it) stating that Abbas was granted wings by Allah (God) as a reward for his sacrifice. Of course, I am undeserving of any rewards of this type and I am definitely not expecting anything similar, but this narration gives me hope that all my struggles as a disabled person in this life will be worth it in the end. Abbas also has a special status of being “Bab-ul-Hawaaij” – The Door to Fulfilling People’s Needs – and it is common practice to ask for him to intercede for you in fulfilling a need. On a wider scale, I feel proud that Abbas is recognized for the brave, strong, loyal, caring, (the adjectives go on…) hero that he was. He is, and always will be, a hero—not just for Muslims but for all of humanity.
Peace be upon you oh Abbas, Qamir Bani Hashim (the Moon of the Hashemites).