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Imam Husayn's (a.s.) Revolution

Blog Post 54

August 10, 2022

The following was compiled by Sister Laila Hasib for a Central Madrassa Workshop at the Jaffari Islamic Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 2, 2012.

Imam Husayn Oppression

(1) A revolution means a drastic change in one’s life or the collective life of people.

Imam Husayn (a.s.) proclaimed the reason for his revolution by saying: “Indeed, I did not revolt joyfully, arrogantly, to be an oppressor or a corrupted one. Rather, I revolted to persuade the reformation of the Islamic Ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet.” (The Revolution of Imam Husayn)


Imam Husayn (a.s.) never ceased calling people to strive for the Islamic ideals of social justice and government and to wage war against deviation from Islamic conduct. In his speech at Karbala, Imam Husayn (a.s.) quoted the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.): “He who sees a cruel governor violating Allah’s law, breaking his covenant, acting in contrast to the tradition of the Prophet, mischievous and suppressing people, and he does not try to change that ruler by action or speech, indeed Allah has promised him an appropriate place in Hell.” (Who is Imam Husain (AS)?)

He also said: “O people! Those Umayyads have pledged allegiance to the devil and left Allah’s obedience. They have spread corruption, suspended the application of Islamic laws, and taken to themselves Muslim’s wealth, besides forbidding what is permitted and allowing what is forbidden.” (Who is Imam Husain (AS)?)

Imam Husayn (a.s.) was advocating a drastic change in the social set-up, the economic and political structures, and refining Islamic concepts from foreign ideas, which had crept into Muslims’ minds and thoughts. He wanted to change the life of Muslims to be in conformity with Islamic laws and ideals. (Imam Hussain’s Revolution: An Analytical Review)

(2) It was a revolution which the principles and laws of Islam demanded to be undertaken for the purpose of warning the Ummah of the evil situation which it was in and making it improve.

Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) revolution represented the eternal human dialectic between good and evil, between nobility and baseness, between political expediency and moral idealism, between the tribal ethos and the rational conscience which aspires to the formation of an integrated Ummah, between mercenary man and a man of principle. (The Revolution of al-Husayn: It’s Impact on the Consciousness of Muslim Society)

Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) message as he fought for justice and freedom is universal and should not be confined to Muslims only. It is a message that magnifies the vision of all free people and nations. Imam Husayn (a.s.) teaches the free and conscientious people of our world how to reject a life girded with humiliation and tyrannical rule. He most powerfully rejected a life of humiliation when he said: “I have to choose between sacrificing my life and yielding to a life of humiliation, but it is impossible for us to accept a life of humiliation.” Imam Husayn (a.s.) pioneered the path of sacrifice and taught us how to sacrifice ourselves for dignity. He demonstrated to us that a nation who fears an oppressor will not live a dignified life. (Imam Husayn and the Renewal of Islam)

(3) Imam Khomeini, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “With the advent of the month of Muharram, valour, resistance, bravery and sacrifice also begins.

"This is the month in which blood dominated over sword. This is the month in which the power of truth defeated falsehood forever and placed a seal on the forehead of oppressors and devilish governments. A month which has shown the path of victory to every historic generation by raising itself on the spearhead. A month which the history of superpowers defeated by words of truth was written. A month in which the leader of Muslims, the Lord of Martyrs, has shown us the path of resistance against tyrants. A path where the lovers of freedom, those desiring resolutions and righteous confronters with their firm feet and closed fists should dominate the satanic tanks, army and weapons, thereby destroying falsehood by the words of truth.” (Ashura in the Vision of Imam Khomeini)

When Imam Khomeini looked at the situation in his era, he felt that even today the battle of Islam versus Islam and religion versus religion is ongoing. An adulterated Islam is presented today to the simple-minded Muslims and to simple-minded scholars to isolate them from true Islam. The Imam called this Islam the Islam of America which was made and promoted against Original Islam and today its glimpses are clearly seen in the majority of Islamic nations. The delivery of this duty is obligatory in all circumstances. Imam Khomeini always mentioned this verse of the Holy Qur’an: “Allah only exhorts you that whether you are one or two, you have to rise in all situations.” (Ashura in the Vision of Imam Khomeini)

(4) Imam Khomeini narrates from Abu Makhnaf that at the camping station of Baiza when the army of Hur stopped Imam Husayn (a.s), he delivered a sermon in which after praising Allah, he said: “O People! The Holy Prophet has said: ‘Anyone who witnesses a tyrant emperor who is declaring the forbidden things of Allah as permissible, breaking the covenants of Allah, opposing the customs of the Messenger, and ruling amongst people with sins and enmity, then anyone who does not oppose him by his words and actions it will become obligatory on Allah to include this silent person with the tyrants on the Day of Judgment’.”(Ashura in the Vision of Imam Khomeini)

Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) revolutionary movement based on Shi’ism, against foreign domination, internal deceit, the power of the feudal lords and large capitalists, arose in arms for the salvation of the enslaved nation and the deprived masses under the banner of justice and the culture of martyrdom. (Red Shi’ism)

We are in the last revolutionary wave of Shi’ism, Red Shi’ism - the flame of the spirit of revolution, freedom-seeking, justice, leaning towards the people and fighting relentlessly against oppression, ignorance and poverty. (Red Shi’ism)


The following is the instructions for the group work which was conducted at the workshop.

Group Work (28 minutes)

Explain what the students will do and the final product. Students will be divided into groups of four.  They will share a news article and an article about Imam Husayn (a.s.). They will then analyze a question and share their answer with the whole class.

Explain that each group should quickly choose a leader, secretary, reader and time-keeper. The leader is responsible for keeping the group on task, leading the discussions without dominating and sharing information to the whole class. The secretary should take brief notes on the discussions. The reader is responsible for reading the news article to the group. The time-keeper is responsible for making sure time limits are adhered to. Divide the class into groups of four. (1 minute)

Pass out one news article to each group. (See the examples of the news article used in the workshop below.)  If possible, use the newspaper article itself rather than a synopsis of it. The reader will take two minutes to read the article to the group. (2 minutes)

Pass out the article, “Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) Revolution,” to each group. (This is the above article that begins this blog post.) The leader should assign each group member a number. Each member should silently read the section of the article corresponding to their number and be prepared to share the main points to the whole group. The reading should take about two minutes and the sharing of the main points should take about five minutes. This is a form of jigsaw. (8 minutes)

Bring the whole class back together. Mention the gist of all the news articles to the class. Explain that they will be given a question. This question should be discussed by each group. The groups should be prepared to give a short synopsis of their answer to the class. The discussion should take about five minutes. This is a form of buzz. Provide the analysis question. (3 minutes)

Read out and give the students the question (It can be written on the board and/or distributed to each group on paper.): Using the news articles on the recent atrocities in the world and the article on “Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) Revolution,” what are our responsibilities today? (5 minutes)

Bring the whole class back together and have each group share their answers. (5 minutes)

Bring the group work to a close by briefly highlighting the pertinent points shared by the groups and relating it to the curriculum content. (2 minutes)

Examples of News Articles Used in the Workshop

On November 27, 2012, 14 Shia Muslims were killed and dozens injured by car bombs during Ashura processions in Baghdad, Iraq.

On November 27, 2012, Egyptians protested against president Mohamed Mursi in several cities, including Cairo. At least two people have been killed and hundreds injured in the protests.

On November 22, 2012, four bomb attacks in Pakistan killed at least 31 people and at least 100 were wounded, including children, journalists, soldiers and policemen, as Shias gathered for Muharram.

On November 20, 2012, the Toronto Star reported that the Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School in Thornhill, Ontario, a Jewish private elementary school, was forced to remove a book from its curriculum due to hateful material in it against Muslims.

On November 14, 2012, Israel killed Ahmed al-Jaabari, Hamas’s military chief, in an air strike. The Israelis then began shelling Ghazzah from land, air and sea.

On November 18, 2012, a bomb destroyed a passenger mini-bus in Nairobi, Kenya, killing seven people and injuring 24 others.

The US has been using drones to attack and kill people since June 2004. Since 2008, more than 300 drone strikes have been launched. Since the first drone attack, between 3,000 and 4,533 civilians have been killed in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In Pakistan, the main victims have been women.

On October 21, 2012, Ayatullah Khamenei, in his Hajj message, spoke about the Hajj’s invitation for spiritual and material upliftment, brotherhood, equality, piety, education and salvation. It is a battlefront for the struggle against Satan and false deities.

On September 11, 2012, a blasphemous and filthy movie about Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was shown on Egypt’s Salafi television, evoking immediate reaction in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, where the US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Demonstrations were held in 20 countries, including the US, Britain and Canada. Toronto held the hugest rally in North America on September 22, with between 5,000-7,000 people, outside the US consulate. After the movie was shown, insulting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) were published in a French weekly newspaper. In September, the UK’s television channel 4 broadcast a documentary that claimed there is little evidence about the origin of Islam or the life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). Earlier in 2012, American soldiers burned copies of the Qur’an and urinated on dead Afghans.

In 2010, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor, declared September 11, “Burn the Koran Day.” In 2005-2006, blasphemous cartoons were published in Denmark. In 2003, American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba desecrated copies of the Qur’an and flushed them down toilets. Salman Rushdie published his hateful book, the “Satanic Verses,” in 1988.

In August 2012, Rohingya Muslims became the target of genocide in Burma by Buddhists. Over 1,000 Muslims were killed, 1,200 plus are missing and more than 100,000 have been displaced due to rape, arson and killing. 1,336 homes and more than 20 masajid belonging to the Rohingya Muslims were burnt to ashes. Every one of the more than 500 mosques in Arakan were taken over by the security forces and shut down.

On June 17, 2012, Tyler Stewart, 18 years old, was walking home after midnight behind Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, Ontario, when he was brutally struck in the head with a metal extendo baton and left for dead on the road.



Who is Imam Husain (AS)?

Imam Hussain’s Revolution: An Analytical Review. 2011. Al-Hassanain Network and Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission.

Ashura in the vision of Imam Khomeini (r.a). (no longer on the internet)

Leghaei, Mansour. The Revolution of Imam Husayn.

Shams al-Din, Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi. The Revolution of al-Husayn [a]: Its Impact on the Consciousness of Muslim Society. Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 1985.

Shariati, Dr. Ali. Red Shi'ism.

Imam Husayn and the Renewal of Islam. 2018. (no longer on the internet)