Adapted from: http://freespace.virgin.net/yahayyo.yaqayyum/Articals/Artical3.htm
The struggle between justice and oppression and the clash between truth and falsehood is as old as human existence on earth. When the rights of helpless and suppressed people are usurped, only a few devoted persons are prepared to stand by the truth to raise their voice against tyranny. All the Prophets and Apostles of Allah fall into the category of divine leaders sent for the guidance of mankind.
Almighty God chose and appointed under His prerogative, great Prophets and Messengers like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all) to lead mankind towards the Right Path. History bears testimony to the fact that none of the Prophets were supported by the majority at the inception. They had the support of only the devoted and faithful minority. Yet, they were triumphant due to the sacrifice and hardships that the minority of their followers were able to sustain with them. The message they left is that the Right can never be subdued by the Might. The Might vanishes but the Right survives. Imam Hussain emulated the footsteps of the great Prophets of God and has left indelible mark in the history. His struggle against the injustices and oppression will never be forgotten.
Imam Hussain was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, the greatest personality to have treaded on this earth. He was the son of Ali, the brave and selfless soldier who never fled from fighting in the Way of God for serving the Cause of God. He was the son of Fatima, the lady who stood against the tides of time for demanding her rights. He was raised in the house of piety and purity. He possessed the heart of his father, which could not be moulded with fear and attraction of worldly power. He inherited the apostolic qualities from his grandfather, the final Messenger of God. He upheld the message and values of the divine leaders by refusing to pay oath of allegiance to one of the most ruthless tyrants in human history - Yazid the son of Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan. The result was that Imam Hussain and his small number of followers, with their ladies, children and infants, were besieged by the mighty forces of Umayyad empire in the year 61H (680 AD) on the desert of Karbala in Iraq, and were massacred after being deprived of food and water. The tragedy of Karbala is remembered since the last fourteen centuries and commemorated by the followers of the holy Prophet Muhammad and his blessed household. His martyrdom provides an impetus to the communities of the world who fight for human rights. Imam Hussain fought the evil not with the worldly might, but with the spiritual strength. His mutilated body remained unburied on the desert of Karbala for several days. He survives in the hearts and minds of millions around the world. His enemies have not been able even to protect their own remembrance and burial places, despite the strength of an empire at their disposal. Whereas, his shrine is one of the most popular in the world for visitations (ziyaraat).
Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) made his decision clear to the rulers of the time that he was not prepared to surrender to the reign of terror. He said, "I am prepared for being martyred along with my companions and for my women and children being made captives in the path of enjoining good and forbidding evil (amr bil ma'aroof wa nahi anil munkar)." To face the mighty army of the Umayyad empire with a small band of steadfast followers, was a task of great courage, bravery and commitment for the human cause. The consequences of the struggle was foretold by him in the following words, "Even if we are defeated, predominance and victory is ours; the truth is victorious in all circumstances, whether it wins or loses." Imam Hussain's love for the Almighty Creator, the Cherisher and Sustainer of mankind and all creatures, is expressed in his memorable supplication on the day of Ashura when the tragedy of Karbala took place. He prayed: "O Lord! I depend on you in every affliction and am hopeful of Your blessings in every hardship. In every difficulty with which I am faced, You are my only remedy and refuge."
Even when Imam Hussain had fallen on the battlefield of Karbala, with hundreds of wounds on his body, and with the mutilated bodies of his companions and children around him, he did not stop invoking God. His last supplication before he was beheaded by the brutal enemies was : "O All-Merciful Lord of the Universe! Accept the humble sacrifice of your Hussain. Hussain has submitted in Your way all that You had given him. If this son of Your Prophet had anything more, he would have submitted that also to You; but O Lord, forgive the sinners among the faithful, O Merciful One." Imam Hussain preferred to die a graceful death rather than live a life of disgrace with the oppressors. He followed the footsteps of the Prophets by not allowing superb human values and virtues to be subjugated under the treachery of despotic rulers of the time.
Imam Hussain was khalifa-tullah on earth. He was the trustee of the knowledge granted by Allah (swt) to His chosen servants. His testamentary succession to the lineage of the Imamate of Ahl-ul-Bait (the progeny of the Prophet) did not depend on any consensus whatsoever from the Muslim ummah. He was the guardian of the religion of God by Divine Grace, which appeared in the form of Prophetic guidance, or in the form of the guidance of awsiya (successors of the Prophet). In both the cases, the divinely appointed leaders had and have the authority of judging over the affairs of the ummah in accordance to the revealed Book and Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet. This is exactly what Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him) did when he became the ruler. Had the people of Kufa abided by their covenant and pledge made to Imam Hussain, he would have fulfilled his obligation of reviving the just rule of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali (peace be upon them). He would not and could not have abandoned the oppressed Muslim community in its time of calamity. For him, the only alternative to establishing the rule of Divine Law was the Sacrifice for the immortal cause. The Cause for which Imam Hussain fought, regardless of the consequences, is very much alive. Therefore, his memory would not fade with the passage of time. His message and principles act as irreconcilable barriers between righteousness and evil. From the viewpoint of the ummah, the only other alternative to supporting the cause of Imam Hussain was self-affliction with the vicious rule of the progeny of Abu Sufyan, the progeny of Marwan and their types.
Imam Hussain's message invites the world communities towards peace and mutual respect. Whereas, his adversaries are adamant on a policy of terror, fanaticism and intolerance. Imam Hussain is the torchbearer of struggle for the rights of the deprived communities.