Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, marks the Birth Anniversary of Imam Hassan al-Askari (p)
Imam Hassan al-Askari (p) is reported to have said, “Any honorable person that abandons the truth becomes humiliated, and any humiliated person that acquires it [the truth], becomes honorable.”1
We understand from the narration of our beloved eleventh Imam, Hassan al-Askari (p), that what a pivotal position truth plays in our lives. It debases, lowers, and humiliates those who leave it, even if they were previously respected, honorable people. It elevates those who may have been previously debased to a higher, respectable status if they recognize, acknowledge, and adhere to the truth. It is essential and imperative that we recognize the truth and act upon it so that we can be among those who have pleased God by doing right and not be among the debased people who have abandoned the truth.
There are many examples throughout history that give us a clear idea about the fate of those who were of a high status, yet through abandoning truth and the right way, lost their position and became debased in the eyes of God, the angels, and all of humanity.
The book, God’s Emissaries: Adam to Jesus, mentions one individual, by the name of Iblis, who had earned a place among the angels for his unwavering devotion to God and for his exceptional perseverance in worshiping God. God raised Iblis to the heavens where he worshipped alongside the angels.2
What happens next, we can best see in the Holy Quran where God says, “We created and shaped you, then told the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam. All the angels obeyed except Satan, who did not. God asked, ‘What made you disobey Me?’ Satan replied, ‘I am better than Adam, for You have created me out of fire and Adam out of clay.’ The Lord ordered Satan to get out (of the garden) saying, ‘This is no place for you to be proud. Get out of this place, for you are worthless.’ Satan asked the Lord to give him respite (keep him alive) until the Day of Resurrection. The Lord told him, ‘We will grant you this respite.’” (7:11-15)
Iblis, or Satan as we know him today, asked God for respite as well as some other requests. “As Adam (p) witnessed this exchange between his creator and his newfound archenemy, he felt despondent. He felt God had empowered his enemy over him and his progeny, and he wondered how they would be able to serve God against such odds. When he asked God why he had done this, God answered, ‘[It is] because of an act of his that I feel obliged to [compensate].’ Adam (pbuh) asked, ‘What act was it?’ God replied, ‘He prayed a single prayer that lasted 4000 years.’”3
Look what a distinguished rank Iblis had where he reached the status of angels. He prayed a single prayer that lasted 4,000 years, whereas some of us may sometimes experience laziness in offering our morning prayer that lasts only a few minutes. The lesson we find in this is, that even though he had attained such a lofty status in God’s eyes, he lost all of this by rebelling against God and abandoning the right path of truth and obedience to the Creator. We should be careful, when the path of doing what is right or wrong is in front of us, that we choose what is pleasing to God. We should make good decisions for our hereafter and hold on to the path of truth at all costs, so we do not render all our good deeds in vain due to an act of disobedience against God. Therefore, we implore God multiple times a day to guide us to the straight path every time we recite the first chapter of the Holy Quran in our five obligatory prayers, and we are instructed to continuously ask for His forgiveness.
This was just one of many examples of how someone who was in an elevated position with a respected status lost it all and became debased due to abandoning the truth. We also have examples of someone who was in a low position, but attained a high status due to adhering to the truth.
A perfect example of someone who was in a bad position who became respected and honorable due to his upholding the truth was Hurr ibn Yazid al-Riyahi (May God be pleased with him). He was previously the commander in the army of the enemies of Imam Hussain (p). He held Imam Hussain (p) in Karbala until the rest of the armies arrived. He was responsible for holding him there and for his being surrounded by enemy forces. What could be worse than putting the grandson of the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) in a trap that would cause his death?
After coming to the realization of the true intentions of Yazid and contemplating the rights and status of Imam Hussain (p), Hurr found himself presented with a choice which would be pivotal for his life and his hereafter. He could take part in the murder of Imam Hussain (p) and receive lavish rewards from Yazid, but how could he face Sayyida Fatimah (p) on the day of Judgment knowing that he killed her son? The second choice was to go defend the grandson of the Prophet (pbuh&hp).
Hurr then started to slowly approach [the camp of] Imam Hussain (p). Muhajir ibn Ows inquired, “Do you want to attack?” But Hurr kept silent and started trembling. Muhajir became worried and said to him, “If they ask me about the strongest person in Kufah, I would not think twice to answer it is you. What is this that I see of you?”
Hurr replied, “I am debating within myself choosing between Paradise and the Hell fire, and by God, I will not choose anything over Paradise, even if I was [killed and] burnt.”
He then kicked his horse [and rode] towards Imam Hussain (p), pointing his spear towards the ground [and] keeping his head down out of shame from the progeny of the Messenger of God (pbuh&hp) because of what he caused them in pain, bringing them to this place without food or water. He called aloud, “O God! I am repenting to you to forgive me. I frightened the hearts of your chosen creation, and the children of your Prophet. O Aba Abd Allah! I am repenting, so do I have a chance for forgiveness?”
Imam Hussain (p) replied, “Yes, God forgives you.”
He was so pleased to hear the Imam (p) and became certain of the eternal life, and the everlasting blessing. He then told Imam Husain (p), “When I left Kufah, I heard a call saying, ‘Hurr! Prepare for paradise.’ So, I said to myself, ‘Woe to Hurr! He is told to prepare for paradise when he is heading to fight the son of the daughter of the Messenger of God.’”
Imam Hussain (p) then told him, “You have made the right decision.”4
We can only hope and pray that we gain the high position that a person like Hurr achieved when the Imam (p) told him that he was forgiven and that he made the right decision. Let us take a lesson from this, that no matter how debased we may be or what wretched a position we find ourselves, that there is hope for redemption and a chance for us to earn the pleasure of God and the favor of our Imam (p) by choosing the right decision and upholding the truth.
1. Shaykh al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p. 362.
2. Shaykh Rizwan Arastu, God’s Emissaries: Adam to Jesus, p. 30.
3. Shaykh Rizwan Arastu, God’s Emissaries: Adam to Jesus, p. 35.
4. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Zahraa al-Ka’bi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn, p. 28.