عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن سيف بن عميرة، عن عبد الملك بن أعين، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: أنزل الله تعالى النصر على الحسين عليه السلام حتى كان [ ما ] بين السماء والارض ثم خير: النصر، أو لقاء الله، فاختار لقاء الله تعالى.
Imam al-Baqir said: Allah تعالى sent support for al-Husayn عليه السلام until it filled that which was between the heaven and the Earth. Then he was left to choose: victory, or meeting Allah. So he chose to meet with Allah تعالى.
Who is Hussain?
I will tell you who he's not. He's not Mahatma Ghandi, he's not Nelson Mandela, he's not Malcolm X. Husayn is Husayn, and I feel that we are misunderstanding the purpose and the meaning of his sacrifice.
There are many good, noble people in our history who rose up to fight for rights - Zayd and Nafs az-Zakiyya would be prime examples - but Imam al-Husayn did not stand up to fight for human rights. He did not even fight to gain the Caliphate. The hadiths make clear that Husayn knew exactly what would happen: he and his loved ones were going to die. Allah even gave him the option on the battlefield, saying, I will destroy your enemies if you so choose. However, Husayn chose to meet Allah instead. Had the fight been about human rights, then Husayn would've chosen to destroy his enemies and establish his government. But, he knew that sacrifice was his calling.
There is no doubt that Imam al-Husayn's (as) movement was one based on justice. Amr bil ma`roof was the foundation of his decision, and Karbala' was a cosmic battle between good and evil, the Imam of Guidance and the Imam of Disbelief, the Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt and the Shi`a of the devil. But we know that all ma`sumeen did amr bil ma`roof, and even Husayn's predecessors rose up and were martyred.
Had he been fighting for rights, then it begs the question: what differentiates Husayn from Zayd if they were both martyrs of the exact same circumstance? What makes the death of Husayn so pivotal when those better than him were also martyred? Modern society has been separated from the anthropology of sacrifice. Those who understand the symbols of sacrifice will better understand the meaning of Husayn's movement. Those who do not understand Shii Imamology will instead see the Imam as a Guevara or a William Wallace figure, who was killed at the beginning of his social justice mission.
We're living in a time where Husayn's movement has become "everyday" and "everywhere" while the classical Shi`a truthfully said that "no day is like your day". The difference between the two is that the former demotes Husayn's sacrifice to everyday struggle, while the latter emphasizes the magnitude of the day. Our job as Muslims is to properly analyze and understand what happened and why it happened, which requires a thorough investigation of the hadith literature on this topic.
The sacrifice starts with Isma`il. The Quran says regarding Ibrahim, "And we have ransomed him with a great sacrifice” (37:107) The Ahlul Bayt confirm that it was indeed Isma`il that was chosen for sacrifice, and that he was replaced with a ram. But one authentic narration by Imam ar-Rida [a] identifies that the real sacrifice here was Husayn, who replaced Isma`il and Ibrahim lamented over this. Husayn was dearer to Ibrahim than his own son was, because Husayn would be the grandson of the greatest Messenger and the Master of the Youth of Paradise. After passing this test, Allah made Ibrahim an Imam, and gave the divine covenant to him and his family. This link between sacrifice and covenant is an important one.
94 - في عيون الأخبار حدثنا عبد الواحد بن محمد بن عبدوس النيشابوري العطار بنيشابور في شعبان سنة اثنين وخمسين وثلاثمأة، قال: حدثنا محمد بن علي ابن قتيبة النيشابوري عن الفضل بن شاذان قال: سمعت الرضا عليه السلام يقول: لما أمر الله تعالى إبراهيم عليه السلام ان يذبح مكان ابنه إسماعيل الكبش الذي أنزل عليه، تمنى إبراهيم عليه السلام أن يكون قد ذبح ابنه إسماعيل بيده وأنه لم يؤمر بذبح الكبش مكانه ليرجع إلى قلبه ما يرجع إلى قلب الوالد الذي يذبح أعز ولده بيده فيستحق بذلك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، فأوحى الله عز وجل إليه: يا إبراهيم من أحب خلقي إليك؟قال: يا رب ما خلقت خلقا هو أحب إلى من حبيبك محمد صلى الله عليه وآله، فأوحى الله عز وجل: يا إبراهيم هو أحب إليك أو نفسك؟قال: بل هو أحب إلى من نفسي، قال: فولده أحب إليك أو ولدك؟قال: بل ولده، قال: فذبح ولده ظلما على يدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبك أو ذبح ولدك بيدك في طاعتي؟قال: يا رب بل ذبحه على أيدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبي قال: يا إبراهيم ان طايفة تزعم أنها من أمة محمد صلى الله عليه وآله ستقتل الحسين عليه السلام ابنه من بعده ظلما وعدوانا كما يذبح الكبش، ويستوجبون بذلك سخطي، فجزع إبراهيم عليه السلام لذلك فتوجع قلبه وأقبل يبكى، فأوحى الله تعالى إليه: يا إبراهيم قد فديت جزعك على ابنك إسماعيل لو ذبحته بيدك بجزعك على الحسين وقتله، وأوجبت لك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، وذلك قول الله عز وجل وفديناه بذبح عظيم ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم.
“When Allah ordered Abraham [a] to slaughter the ram that was brought to him in the place of Ishmael, Abraham [a] had hoped to have slaughtered Ishmael by his hand rather than being ordered to slaughter the ram in his place. This was so that he may regain the feeling in his heart that a father’s heart feels when he slaughters the dearest of his sons by his hand. He wanted to attain the highest of levels from the people of good deeds upon this calamity. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, who is the most beloved of My creation to you?” Abraham said, “O Lord, you have not created a creation who is more beloved to me than your beloved Muhammad .” So Allahrevealed, “O Abraham, is he more beloved to you, or yourself?” Abraham said, “Of course, he is more beloved to me than my own self.” Allah said, “So is his son more beloved to you, or your son?” Abraham said, “His son, of course.” Allah said, “So [what is more painful to your heart:] his son being slaughtered oppressively upon the hands of his enemies, or the slaughtering of your son by your hand in obedience to me?” Abraham said, “O Lord, his slaughter upon the hands of his enemies is more painful to my heart.” Allah said, “O Abraham, a faction that alleges that it is from the Nation of Muhammad will kill his son al-Husayn [a] after him oppressively and with aggression, just as a ram is slaughtered. And by that, my wrath upon them will become obligatory.” So Abraham lamented over that. His heart was pained by that, and he began to weep. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, I have ransomed your lamentation upon the slaughtering of your son Ishmael with your lamentation upon Husayn And so the highest of levels from the people of good deeds has become obligatory for you for this calamity."
The Prophet calls himself the son of the two offerings, because both his father Abdullah and his forefather Isma`il had survived their respective sacrificial moments. The Prophet's position as a descendant of two offerings boosts his status as a prophet and a recipient of the divine covenant.
حَدَّثَنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ الحُسَيْن القَطَّانُ قالَ أَخْبَرنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَعِيدُ الكُوفِي قالَعَلِيِّ بن الحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِىِّ بْنِ الفَضّال، عَنْ أَبيهِ قالَ سَأَلْت أَبَاالحَسَن عَلِىِّ بْنِ مُوسَى الرِّضا عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ، عَن مَعْنى قول النَّبِي صلي اللَّه وَآلِهِ أَنَا ابْنُ الذّبيحين قَالَ يَعْنِي إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْخَلِيلِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ
“I asked Abul Hasan Ali b. Musa ar-Rida [a] about the meaning of the statement made by the Prophet (s), ‘I am the son of the two offerings.’ Imam ar-Rida [a] said, ‘That means that the Prophet (s) was the descendant of both Ishmael, the son of Abraham - the friend of God (s) and Abdullah - the son of Abdul Muttalib.
The Hajj itself is a ritual centred around sacrifice. It recounts the story of Ibrahim and Isma`il everywhere. Pilgrims shave their heads, which is an important symbol of sacrifice. To shave your head for someone is to pledge allegiance to that person - you are giving them your head and your neck. When the Prophet took the bay`a of his companions at the Tree of Ridwan, the companions needed to shave their heads to complete the bay`a. Likewise, after the death of the Prophet, Imam Ali asked the companions to shave their heads to express their loyalty to him, but very few did so. The Hajj ends with the sacrifice of life of an animal. These are all important symbols that we belong fully to God, and that our lives are in His hand. Animal sacrifice is a sacrifice of your own ego and your lower, animalistic self. At the end of Hajj, you come out sinless, which is a rebirth after the sacrifice.
حدثني ابي رحمه الله، عن سعد بن عبد الله، عن احمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن محمد بن سنان، عن الحسين بن مختار، عن زيد الشحام، عن ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: زيارة الحسين (عليه السلام) تعدل عشرين حجة وأفضل من عشرين حجة (2).
Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "Visitation of al-Husayn [a] is equal to twenty Hajj. Rather, it is more than twenty Hajj."
Even the salat has sacrificial symbology in ruku`. Imam `Ali in `Ilal ash-Shara'i` says that the ruku` is gesture where one offers his neck to Allah, saying, "O Allah, I believe in Your Oneness even if my neck is struck." تأويله آمنت بوحدانيتك ، و لو ضربت عنقي
Now let's go to Husayn. Sacrificial animals are marked at birth. Likewise, in one hadith, the Imam was marked for sacrifice the day Sayyida Fatima gave birth to him. In return, the Prophet says, Allah will make the Imams from his progeny. Again, we see the relationship between sacrifice and covenant: even though Imam al-Hasan was of a higher status, the Imams would come from Husayn's progeny due to his sacrifice.
حدثنا محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل رضي الله عنه قال : حدثنا عبد الله بن جعفرالحميري قال : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى قال : حدثنا الحسن بن محبوب ، عن علي بن رئاب قال : قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام : لما أن حملت ( 2 ) فاطمة عليها السلام بالحسين عليه السلام قال لها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إن الله عز وجل قد وهب لك غلاما اسمه الحسين ، تقتله أمتي ، قالت : فلا حاجة لي فيه ، فقال : إن الله عز وجل قد وعدني فيه عدة ، قالت : وما وعدك ؟ قال : وعدني أن يجعل الإمامة من بعده في ولده ، فقالت : رضيت .
Imam as-Sadiq said: When Fatima عليها السلام became pregnant with al-Husayn عليه السلام, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said to her: Allah عز وجل has gifted a male to you whose name is al-Husayn. He will be killed by my Umma. She said: I do not need it. He said: Allah عز وجل has made a promise to me regarding him. She said: And what did He promise you? He said: He promised me that He will cause the Imamate after me to come from his loins. So she said: I am pleased.
The colour red is also associated with blood sacrifice, and the Prophet receives red mud from Karbala to symbolize the inevitable killing of Husayn. Other narrations describe Imam al-Husayn with a red cloak. In Judaism, a red ribbon was tied around a ram for sacrifice on Yom Kippur. As for Yom Kippur, it is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Hebrew Calendar, while Ashura is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Muslim calendar. The Jewish Yom Kippur is called the Day of Atonement, and the High Priest would make a sacrifice at the Temple, and select the Passover lamb. There is some disagreement on the exact date of Ashura. Abu Baseer says in an authentic tradition that it took place on a Saturday ( قال: أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يخرج القائم عليه السلام يوم السبب يوم عاشورا يوم الذي قتل فيه الحسين عليه السلام ). This was also the position of Shaykh al-Saduq and Shaykh al-Mufeed. But the 10th of Muharram does not take place on a Saturday in 61 AH, which is the generally accepted year of the event. It does, however, take place on Saturday in 62 AH, and according to the historian Hisham al-Kalbi, this is the real year that Ashura took place. If this is true, then Ashura took place on the exact same day as Yom Kippur and on the Sabbath that year. This makes for some spectacular sacrificial parallels between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Imams constantly compared the death of Husayn to that of a ram, because the two are voluntary sacrifices to God by beheading. ( إن كنت باكيا لشئ، فابك للحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب (عليه السلام)، فإنه ذبح كما يذبح الكبش )
Sacrifices are often performed by initiates of an order. Likewise, Husayn was beheaded by Shimr, who had previously been a Shi`i who fought alongside Imam `Ali.
Husayn journeyed to Karbala by cutting his own Hajj short. He left the Hijaz before performing the ritual sacrifice of Hajj. Perhaps he would become that sacrifice himself? He left the holy land and was sacrificed in Karbala, another holy and consecrated land. The narrations say that the best observance of the Day of `Arafat is in Karbala.
أبي عن سعد عن النهدي عن علي بن أسباط يرفعه إلى أبي عبد الله (ع) قال إن الله تبارك و تعالى يبدأ بالنظر إلى زوار قبر الحسين بن علي ع عشية عرفة قال قلت قبل نظره إلى أهل الموقف قال نعم قلت و كيف ذاك قال لأن في أولئك أولاد زنا و ليس في هؤلاء أولاد زنا
Imam as-Sadiq [a] said: Allah looks at the visitors of the grave of al-Hussain b. Ali (as) the night of `Arafah." The narrator asked: "Before those in '`rafah?" The Imam (as) replied: "Yes." The narrator continued asking: "And how is that?" The Imam (as) said: "It is because there are sons of fornication (awlad al-zina) in the people of 'Arafah, but there are none in these (meaning the ones in Karbala)."
From these clues and many others, it is clear to me that Husayn is the true lamb of God, who sacrificed himself on behalf of his Shi`a to receive the covenant and blessing of God. Husayn was the one volunteered to give his head so that the world may have Imams. Our crying, mourning, and visitation is an act of association of Husayn so that we may be recipients of the fruit of his sacrifice. Karbala would become the connection between the celestial world and this one.
عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : أيّما مؤمنٍ دَمَعَتْ عيناه لِقَتلِ الحسين عليه السلام دَمْعَةً حتّى تَسيل على خَدِّه بَوَّأه الله بها غُرفاً في الجنّة يَسكنها أحقاباً.
Imam al-Baqir said: Any believer whose eyes shed tears for the murder of al-Husayn till they roll (down) his cheek, Allah will make him dwell in rooms of Paradise where he will there for long ages.
The early Shi`a of Iraq certainly understood these symbols, because they were coming from cultures and religions where the anthropology of sacrifice were well known. Our world is far removed from this anthropology, and so our connection to Husayn has been through social justice. The problem is that this is purely a horizontal understanding of Karbala, and not a theologically vertical one. It is not as consistent with the sources, and it makes the Imam into a political reformer rather than the Great Sacrifice.
Both Imam ar-Rida and Imam al-Mahdi did takfeer of those who denied that Husayn had died. There were some who believed that Husayn was raised up the same way Jesus was raised up. However, this would constitute kufr, because Husayn's sacrifice was the very foundation of the Abrahamic and Muhammadan covenants.
يا بن رسول الله وفيهم قوم يزعمون أن الحسين بن علي عليهما السلام لم يقتل وانه ألقى شبهه على حنظلة بن أسعد الشامي، وانع رفع إلى السماء كما رفع عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام ويحتجون بهذه الآية.
ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا فقال: كذبوا عليهم غضب الله ولعنته وكفروا بتكذيبهم لنبي الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم في اخباره بان الحسين عليه السلام سيقتل، والله لقد قتل الحسين وقتل من كان خيرا من الحسين أمير المؤمنين والحسن بن علي عليهم السلام، وما منا الا مقتول، وانى والله لمقتول بالسم باغتيال من يغتالني أعرف ذلك بعهد معهود إلى من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم أخبره به جبرئيل عليه السلام عن رب العالمين عز وجل، واما قوله عز وجل: (ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا) فإنه يقول: لن يجعل الله لهم على أنبيائه عليهم السلام سبيلا من طريق الحجة.
A man said to Imam ar-Rida [a], "O son of the Messenger of Allah! There is a community that claims that al-Husayn b. `Ali [a] was not killed, but rather, his likeness was placed upon Hanthala b. As`ad ash-Shami, and that he was raised to the heavens just as Jesus the son of Mary [a] was raised. And they use this verse to support it, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141)" The Imam replied, "They have lied. The anger and the curse of Allah is upon them. They have disbelieved because they have belied the Prophet's saying that al-Husayn [a] will be killed. By Allah, al-Husayn was killed, just as those better than al-Husayn were killed, such as the Commander of the Faithful and al-Hasan b. `Ali. There is not one from us except that he is killed. I, by Allah, will be killed with poison by the assassins of he who will assassinate me. I know this because of a covenant entrusted to me from the Messenger of Allah . He was informed of it by Gabriel [a] from the Lord of the Worlds. As for His saying, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141), He is saying: Allah will not give them a way over His prophets [a] from the path of the Proof."
Remember that many of our major narrators come from these Judaeo-Christian backgrounds: Zurara, `Ali b. Mahzayar, Yunus b. `Abd ar-Rahman, Abdullah b. Ja`far al-Himyari, al-Bazanti, `Ali b. Asbat, most of the Ansar (Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri, Jabir b. Abdullah, etc.) 2 of the martyrs of Karbala: John and Abu Wahab al-Kalbi, were Christians. There were things these people recognized in Husayn and in Shiism that we have unfortunately lost.
Imam al-Husayn knew that he and his companions would die, and he even chose this. Allah gave him the option to defeat the empire, but he knew that it was not the time.
محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن ابن محبوب، عن ابن رئاب، عن ضريس الكناسي قال: سمعت أبا جعفر عليه السلام يقول - وعنده اناس من أصحابه -: عجبت من قوم يتولونا ويجعلونا أئمة ويصفون أن طاعتنا مفترضة عليهم كطاعة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ثم يكسرون حجتهم ويخصمون أنفسهم بضعف قلوبهم، فينقصونا حقنا ويعيبون ذلك على من أعطاه الله برهان حق معرفتنا والتسليم لامرنا، أترون أن الله تبارك وتعالى افترض طاعة أوليائه على عباده، ثم يخفي عنهم أخبار السماوات والارض ويقطع عنهم مواد العلم فيما يرد عليهم مما فيه قوام دينهم؟! فقال له حمران: جعلت فداك أرأيت ما كان من أمر قيام علي بن أبي طالب والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام وخروجهم وقيامهم بدين الله عز ذكره، وما اصيبوا من قتل الطواغيت إياهم والظفر بهم حتى قتلوا وغلبوا؟ فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا حمران إن الله تبارك وتعالى قد كان قدر ذلك عليهم وقضاه وأمضاه وحتمه على سبيل الاختيار ثم أجراه فبتقدم علم إليهم من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله قام علي والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام، وبعلم صمت من صمت منا، ولو أنهم يا حمران حيث نزل بهم ما نزل بهم ما نزل من أمر الله عز وجل وإظهار الطواغيت عليهم سألوا الله عزوجل أن يدفع عنهم ذلك وألحوا عليه في طلب إزالة ملك الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم إذا لاجابهم ودفع ذلك عنهم، ثم كان انقضاء مدة الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم أسرع من سلك منظوم انقطع فتبدد، وما كان ذلك الذي أصابهم يا حمران لذنب اقترفوه ولا لعقوبة معصية خالفوا الله فيها ولكن لمنازل وكرامة من الله، أراد أن يبلغوها، فلا تذهبن بك المذاهب فيهم.
A man said to Imam al-Baqir [a], "May I be your sacrifice! Have you deliberated regarding what occurred from the rising of `Ali b. Abi Talib, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn? They came out and rose up for the religion of Allah; how much they suffered from their deaths at the hands of the tyrants – they were defeated, murdered and overpowered." So Abu Ja`far al-Baqir [a] said: "Allah had destined that for them; decreed it, approved it, and necessitated it – it was beyond choice. It thus occurred and the knowledge of it had come to them from the Messenger of Allah. `Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn rose whilst knowing [the consequences]. By its knowledge, there were those of us who remained silent. Had they, whilst facing what Allah made them face and suffer defeat at the hands of the tyrants, asked Allah to remove their suffering and implored Him to destroy the kingdom of the tyrants, He would have answered their prayers and granted it for them – then, the decree would have removed the tyrants and their kingdom would end faster than the dispersal of threaded beads under pressure. That which they endured was not because of a sin they committed or a punishment for opposing Allah, rather, it was a deliverance and a bounty from Allah, who wished for them to attain it. Do not allow them (i.e. the people) to take you away from the [correct] path."
وحدَّثني أبي ـ رحمه الله ـ وجماعة مشايخي ، عن سعد بن عبدالله ، عن عليِّ بن إسماعيل بن عيسى ؛ ومحمّد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطّاب ، عن محمّد بن عَمرو بن سعيد الزّيّات ، عن عبدالله بن بُكير ، عن زُرارة ، عن ابي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : كتب الحسين بن عليِّ مِن مكّة إلى محمّد بن عليٍّ : بِسم الله الرَّحمن الرَّحيم ؛ مِن الحسين بن عليٍّ إلى محمَّد بن عليٍّ ومَن قَبِلَه مِن بني هاشم ؛ أمّا بعد فإنَّ مَنْ لَحِقَ بي اسْتُشْهِد ، ومَنْ لَم يَلْحَقْ بي لم يُدرِكِ الفَتْح ؛ والسَّلام
When he was in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn [a] wrote to his brother Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya. He said the following: "In the name of Allah the Beneficient the Merciful: From al-Husayn b. Ali to Muhammad b. Ali and those who are with him from the Children of Hashim [in Medina]. Verily, one who joins me will be martyred, and one who does not join me will not attain the Victory. Peace."
وعنه، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن أبي حمزة الثمالي قال: قلت لابي جعفر عليه السلام: إن عليا عليه السلام كان يقول: " إلى السبعين بلاء " وكان يقول: " بعد البلاء رخاء " وقد مضت السبعون ولم نر رخاء !. فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا ثابت إن الله تعالى كان وقت هذا الامر في السبعين، فلما قتل الحسين عليه السلام إشتد غضب الله على أهل الارض، فأخره إلى أربعين ومائة سنة، فحدثناكم فأذعتم الحديث، وكشفتم قناع السر، فأخره الله ولم يجعل له بعد ذلك عندنا وقتا، و * (يمحو الله ما يشاء ويثبت وعنده أم الكتاب) *. قال أبو حمزة: وقلت ذلك لابي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: قد كان ذاك.
And from him from al-Hasan b. Mahbub from Abu Hamza ath-Thumali.
He said: I said to Abu Ja`far عليه السلام: `Ali عليه السلام used to say, “Tribulations till 70 AH”, and he used to say, “after the tribulations is prosperity”, and yet 70 AH has passed and we have not seen prosperity! So Abu Ja`far عليه السلام said: O Thabit, Allah تعالى had set a time for this affair in 70 AH, but when al-Husayn عليه السلام was killed, Allah’s anger with the people of the Earth intensified. So He delayed it till 140 AH, and we narrated to you [regarding it] and you publicized the narration, so the secret was disclosed. Allah thereafter has not set any time for it that we know of. And, “Allah erases what He wills and establishes [what He wills]; and with Him is the Original Book” (13:39).
We all know the story of the Prophet Salih, and Karbala' is an inner dimension of that story. Like many stories of the Qur'an, this one has parallels with that of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt. Salih was the Arab prophet to Thamud, just as Muhammad was the Arab prophet to his people. The people of Thamud idolaters worshiping a rock/mountain, and the Meccans were worshiping idols in the Ka`ba. As a sign, Salih brought a beautiful pregnant she-camel out of this rock. Likewise, Husayn accompanied the Prophet, and he was beautiful ("husayn" means "endeared beauty"). Salih ordered the good treatment of the she-camel, and the Prophet ordered the good treatment of Ahl al-Bayt. The she-camel provided milk (and ancient symbol for eternal life), and Husayn provided the deen. The camel was prevented from drinking the water of Thamud, and Husayn was prevented from water. The camel was struck and killed by the worst person of Thamud, and Husayn was struck and killed by the worst person of the Umma. The camel was survived by an offspring, and Husayn was survived by an offspring. Both the camel and Husayn were a blessing and a sign to the community, and the community neglected their rights and killed them.
حدثني محمد بن الحسين الاشناني قال : حدثنا عباد بن يعقوب قال : أخبرنا مورع بن سويد بن قيس قال : حدثنا من شهد الحسين ، قال : كان معه ابنه الصغير
فجاء سهم فوقع في نحره ، قال : فجعل الحسين يأخذ الدم من نحره ولبته فيرمى به إلى السماء فما يرجع منه شئ ، ويقول : اللهم لا يكون اهون عليك من فصيل ( ناقة صالح)
Imam al-Husayn [a] was with his young son when an arrow struck his neck. So Husayn took the blood of his neck and his chest and threw it in the air, and none of it returned. He said, "O Allah, do not allow this to be less significant to You than the she-camel of Salih [a]."
Allah does not need anything from us - He does not need our salat, zakat, or a`mal. The religion's a`mal are all human expressions to approach the Divine. Sacrifice is a religious expression that is rooted in Islam - it is in the stories of the prophets (Habil and Qabil's offerings, Isma`il's sacrifice and Eid al-Adha, the Baqara, in the bay`a of Ridwan) in the salat, in the Hajj, and elsewhere. It is a demonstration of full submission and full adherence to Allah's will. Sacrifice is done to achieve God's favour and His proximity. The Imams were always addressed with "may I be your sacrifice" or "may my mother and father be sacrificed for you" because true allegiance is only when you are ready to put your life on the line. From this post, we see the connection between the sacrifice and the covenant (mithaq/`ahd): Ibrahim and his righteous descendants become Imams only due to his sacrifice, which was rooted in Husayn taking the place of Isma`il. Even the Prophet's own prophethood was preceded by two offerings to Allah. So, the Prophet marked Husayn for sacrifice at birth, and in return, Allah made the Imams from his progeny - I believe there is an association between these two things, because there is always a connection between (1) sacrifice, and (2) covenants/oaths/allegiances. The Hajj is only complete with an animal sacrifice, after which we are reborn with no sins. These symbols are all over the Husayni literature.
Husayn knew and willingly chose to meet his Lord on the 10th of Muharram, because a "political" islah and takeover of the Caliphate was not his mission. Imam `Ali and Imam al-Hasan were Caliphs, but their enemies prevented them from rectifying the Islamic Umma. Husayn's mission was to exemplify Islam in his fight - the full submission to the will of Allah. It was an expression of uplifting divine justice and personal responsibility at any cost. But it was also the ultimate act by which we could have the Imamate. Our mourning of him is our expression of associating ourselves with him (walaya), so that we may be counted among the covenant of Ahl al-Bayt. Once we become Muslims, and submit to our duties, and develop a ma`rifa of Allah through His Imams, and form a strong relationship with them, crying is a strong personal way to demonstrate kinship and love to Husayn. The hadiths promise that even one small tear for the Imam will result in a forgiveness of our sins, and one true visitation of our Imam will result in many Hajj. Considering the connections between Hajj and Husayn, the sacrificial and covenant dimensions here should be obvious.
Husayn's movement had two legs: justice and sacrifice. If you cut one out of the narrative, the entire narrative falls. What highlights Husayn's movement is his act of sacrifice, which undergirds the Imamate of Ibrahim (as) and his family. Husayn, in his sacrifice, fulfilled the inner meaning of Hajj, which is full subservience and selflessness towards Almighty God Allah. Again and again, the hadiths present the parallels between Hajj and Imam al-Husayn, whose visitation equals many Hajj, because he is the epicentre of Hajj.
And Allah knows best.