Imam Husain (AS) is much more than a celebrity

The writer, Sameer Murad Kermalli (Nairobi, Kenya) is a graphic designer, photographer and has been involved in leadership and community service positions.



t is sad that Husain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam is treated as a celebrity. A

celebrity for a Muslim sect that unfortunately instead of taking the essence of what was Husain’s

life, his struggle, and his sacrifice have turned everything into ritualistic forms, bound by cultural

norms and traditions

The celebrity status of the grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (saw) for the Muslims

varies depending on which Islamic sect it is. Husain (as) is revered as the grandson of the

Prophet, the son of the daughter of the Prophet Fatima and the son of a brave warrior and

cousin of the Prophet, Ali; by all. However, depending on who documented events, the author

glorified what they wanted. Whatever trickled down over the centuries, became history.

The Holy Prophet repeatedly said that he was but a man like the others, the only difference was

that he was sent to bring a message of the Lord. He spoke what was asked of him, and the core

message from the Lord was the same that was brought by all the Prophets before him; do not

attach partners to the Lord, He is the creator of the worlds, enjoin in good and refrain from evil.

When he passed, he said there are two weighty things that I leave behind for the Muslim

community, the Qur’an, a book of guidance, and the people of my family.

Having lived and learned from him, the people of the Prophet’s family and the young grandson,

Husain would have the demeanor and mannerisms that would be those seen and adhered to

from the Prophet of God. The family of the Holy Prophet would therefore be the visual guides for

the people of the community, watching and learning from those who were closest to the Holy

Prophet and emulated him throughout his and their lives.

Ask any Muslim and sometimes just anyone and yes there is a possibility they have heard the

names of the Prophet’s family, due to their knowledge, the respect they gave and hence received,

their devotion to the people and foremost their grasp and total submission to the Lord. Their

passion for the Lord made them unpopular, for they followed the path of righteousness and could

not stand to see the community of the Holy Prophet reverting back to their pagan ways and

forgetting the messages that were communicated by the Prophet and written clearly in the


Unethical power hungry rulers brought unrest and instability within the communities. The family

of the Prophet were being marginalized and treated badly, only because they were against

these leaders. Holy Prophet’s cousin Ali, his daughter Fatima and his grandsons were terrorised,

murdered, poisoned, and martyred in a very short span of time following the Holy Prophet’s


A very key historic event connected to Husain is the battle of Kerbala, just 50 years after the

death of the Holy Prophet. He and his companions were martyred by the despotic ruler of the

time, Yazid the son of Muawiya. The reason was simply that Yazid had strayed away from the Islam of the Prophet and Husain realized that what took his grandfather 23 years to do will be in

vain, lost forever, to the detriment of a community of Muslims the Holy Prophet had managed to

impart the message to. Yazid hence saw Husain as a rebel, a threat to his ways that were

against the grain of submitting to the Lord, the ways of Nimrod and the Pharaoh almost. Husain’s

aim was only to reform the religion, to go back to the religion like it was at the time of the

Prophet and the teachings and messages within the Qur’an. He did not come out to be a

celebrity, he came out to be a beacon of righteousness.

Generations down the line, Husain is still remembered, for he gave his life and his companions

sacrificed their lives for the mission of Husain, for they believed in the objective of the mission.

Alas, over the years, the essence of what should be Husain and his mission, what would make

him more than a celebrity, has gotten lost. What remains are rituals and forms without the

essence of reform to the religion of his grandfather and father. Muslims are still at arms against

one another, despite following the same Prophet and reading the same Qur’an. Muslims look at

each other and claim that the other is an infidel and will go to hell; not at all different from the

battle of Kerbala, the army that fought Husain at Kerbala, who called Husain a rebel and

claimed that his prayer would not be accepted by the Lord.

Husain is not a celebrity and never should be, he should be the guide towards a struggle

towards righteousness, a struggle towards total submission, a struggle that was for his Lord.

Anyone who understands this changes this learning to action, they will then live like Husain and

die like Husain. A hero emulated does not need celebrity status and will never become obsolete,

their legacy will live forever.

More from this writer

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