“No battle in the modern and past history of mankind has earned more sympathy and admiration as well as provided more lessons than the martyrdom of Hussain in the battle of Karbala.”
These are the words of Christian author Antoine Bara whose book “Hussain in Christian Ideology” had evoked both praise and provocation after its publication. Especially his remarks that Jesus Christ had predicted about appearance of Imam Hussain had dropped a bombshell in the Christian world and Bara had defended his contention in these words:
“Before I explain what it means I would like to confirm that the Bible mentions Prophet Muhammad (saww) as well as Imam Hussein (as). This prophesies come in the context of talking about the one true religion which, in my view, is Islam. Christ (as) spoke of the appearance of Imam Hussein (as) in the gospel of John by saying: “But now I go My way to Him that sent Me, and none of you asketh Me, `Whither goest Thou?’ But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment” (John, 16:5-8).Some Christians have explained the word ‘Comforter’ as the Holy Spirit. But having researched its meaning, I do not think this meaning applies to it at all. So, I looked at the other two explanations; that this is either referring to Prophet Muhammad (saww) or referring to Imam Hussein (as). After more research, I realized that Christ (as) could not have sent a prophet like himself but it was possible that he sent a martyr to humanity which means that it is definitely Imam Hussein (as) who is being referred to in the above quote from the Bible”.
Bara was not much aware of about Imam Hussain and Karbala. However, he used to visit Great Islamic Scholar Imam Al-Shirazi in Kuwait with his friend Azhar Al Khafagi in 70s.. Upon coming to know that Bara had prepared some notes on Imam Hussain, Al-Shirazi suggested him to write a book based on these notes. The idea fermented in his mind. He collected the notes but even after preliminary research, he did not intend to write the book. But he felt a special moral inspiration that pushed him to continue researching, editing and writing.
In an interview, he himself reveals “In the beginning, I did not know about the brutal incident of Karbala…… This is because during our education, this incident was referred to without any detail. When I met Imam Al-Shirazi , he gave me some books about Imam I read these books and discovered they contained a unique heroic story. I was also surprised that such a story did not generate much interest from Muslim scholars. This motivated me to note down remarks about this revolution and the character of Imam Hussain.”
While working on the book, Bara tried to find answers to questions related to the revolution and character of Imam Hussain. He took more than five years to finish his task. Bara sent the manuscript to Al-Shirazi who appreciated the book and asked for its immediate publication. Al Shirazi wrote introduction of the book. With the help of Mr. Baqir Khureibit, Editor of ‘Sawt Al-Khaleej’ magazine where Bara worked, the book was published. It evoked instant reactions. Imamis and pro-Ahle-Bait Muslims considered it to be the best written on Imam Hussain but some Christians objected on the ground “he is Christian, how can he be a supporter of the Prophet’s family? In Beirut, a Muslim writer published a book and tried to prove that Karbala was only a historic incident and Imam Hussain ‘struggled’ for power. On the other hand, a doctoral thesis was written on the book and submitted to a Lebanese university. A Pakistani Scholar Mushtaq Ahmad from Lahore University sought permission to translate the book into Urdu.. An Iraqi doctor, Ridha Rasheed wanted to translate the book into Austrian and Russian. All got consent without any clause of royalty, for Bara his work was an interpretation of a special feeling he developed for Imam during his scholarly research.
He remarks “In the beginning, writing the book had a scholarly purpose but as I got deeper and expanded on the historicity of the topic, a feeling of the greatness of Imam Hussein grew in me. This character sacrificed himself for religion and principles and to preserve Muslims from deviating from the path of Islam to ensure the continuity of the message and passing it over from one generation to the other. Had he not sacrificed himself in this highly emotional way, this strong effect on people could not have been felt. The proof is what happened when the prisoners of war returned to Damascus; Sunnis, Shia and Christians threw stones at the soldiers because they were emotionally affected. The same also happened in Homs where people beat up the soldiers and deprived them of water because they deprived the pure family of the Prophet of water.”
He further adds “Indeed human principles were generated by the Ashura revolution. This is what pushed me to continue writing the book. The effort only gave me fatigue and troubles without any benefits except for the blessing of Imam. By blessing I mean the fact that the book was printed more than twenty times, only three of them by me…. I do not consider the book to be my personal property. It belongs to all humanity.”Bara never mentions Imam without saying peace be upon him after his name. Bara maintains that Imam Hussein is not exclusive to Imamis or Muslims but belongs to the whole world because he is the “conscience of religions”.( References available on request)
Imam Hussain(a.s) in the Bible:
New Testament Peshitta (the Aramaic Bible) mentions Imam Hussain(a.s) by name in a few places, such as Luke 11:21-22, Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:7. Jesus, John the Baptist and Simon (Peter) pbut had spoken plainly about Imam Hussain(a.s). The Psalm chapter 19, talks about a man from Hashemite moving toward Kufa. It mentions that this event is not hidden from mê-ḥam-mā-ṯōw (Muhammad). In addition, David(pbuh) mourned for the calamity of Ashura; as he mentions it in Psalm 25:17[p 218-220 ref.]. Nevertheless, the name is lost in the translations, as usual. In all cases, the name is translated to “great”, “greater”, “holy one”, and so on.
Here I just scrutiny the Gospel of Luke[11:21-22] and martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) foretold by Jesus(pbuh). For more information about what John the Baptist and Simon(pbut) have said about Imam Hussain(a.s), please refer to the reference book(p 256-261).
Jesus (pbuh), according to the Gospel of Luke, is explaining that Hussain(a.s) who possess all the pureness, will be brutally attacked and martyred. His belongings will be looted and his body will be cut in pieces. However, the translators have interpreted the entire statement irrelevant to the actual meaning of the verse. This has become more noticeable by translating the word “Hussain” to “ stronger”. In the Peshitta Gospel of Luke, Hussain is written (ḥasīn). (See the figure below)
Luke [11:21, 22]
New Living Translation
For when a strong man like Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe–until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.
Verse 21 is highly suspicious. The NLT had to add “Satan” to come up with a relevantly meaningful statement. However, translating the verse without adding Satan brings a different picture to the scene. Verse 22 has also changed according to the sense of the translator. Below is the rendered translation of the verses.
21 For when Hussain is armed, guarding his house, his possessions are safe
22 Indeed he who is Hussain shall endure, all the pureness belongs to him, all his armor will be taken, he is confident, his belongings and body to be cut in pieces.
ḥasīn is the cognate of an Arabic word that means “beautiful”. This is indeed حسین / حسن Hasan / Hussain. They were the sons of Imam Ali(a.s).
Below is a picture of the Gospel of Luke [11:21-32] in Aramaic.Note the word ḥasīn in verse 22.[Image location: University of Bonn, Germany at [http://digitale- sammlungen.ulb.uni-bonn.de/image/view/47451w=1000]]
The event of Karbala in the Bible:
Verses 6 to 10 of Jeremiah 46, demonstrate a conflict between Nile-like powers of devilish-Pharoahic people and God’s chosen man who is going to be a sacrifice near Euphrates:
6 “The swift cannot flee nor the strong escape. In the north by the River Euphrates they stumble and fall. 7 “Who is this that rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters? 8 Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.’ 9 Charge, you horses! Drive furiously, you charioteers! March on, you warriors—men of Cusha and Put who carry shields, men of Lydia who draw the bow. 10 But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty— a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood. For the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will offer sacrifice in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.
the statement In the (land of) north by the River Euphrates, in verses 6 and 10, is a clear reference to a location known even today by the very same name, the River Euphrates. The statement is unequivocal and firm. This is a prophecy about an event near the River Euphrates not Palestine, nor Egypt or Ethiopia. The verse 8 confirms the metaphoric use of Egypt:
8 Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.’
Historically speaking, the only known event near the River Euphrates where God has offered a sacrifice is the event of Karbala.
This chapter of Jeremiah has changed the way many believers of the Bible used to think. Former Pastor Sachini Strecthen is one of them. As mentioned earlier, she converted to Islam and led her entire family and some of her Church members to Shi’ite Islam.
The day of Ashura in the Bible
Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, first month of Islamic Calendar, is the day the tyrant army of Yazid martyred Imam Hussain(a.s) and his companions. In Jewish tradition, this day is also The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippor (Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11). It is the holiest day in Jewish history, which is 10th of Tishreia (the seventh month in Jewish calendar). That is the day of mourning and repentance.
Today it is no more the same as it was in traditional Hebrew history. Unlike today’s Jewish ceremonies, the Day of Atonement was no festive event. It was a day of national mourning and repentance. This was a special Sabbath day celebration, which meant that no work could be done (Lev. 23:26-32). Anyone who did not observe this Sabbath was to be cut off from his people (Lev. 23:29), which is a euphemism for being put to death.
Beyond this, it was a day when the people were to “humble their souls” (cf. Lev. 16:31; 23:27; Num. 29:7), which, according to many, included fasting. This would thus be the only religious holiday that was characterized by mourning, fasting, and repentance.
In Islamic traditions, Noah’s Ark landed this day. According to traditions gathered by Al-Biruni, on this day God took compassion on Adam(pbuh); Moses (pbuh) was saved from Pharaoh and Abraham (pbuh) from the fire of Nebuchadnezzar; Jacob (pbuh) regained his eyesight; Joseph(pbuh) was drawn out of the ditch; Solomon(pbuh) was invested with the royal power;and the punishment was taken away from the people of Jonah(pbuh);
Besides the aforementioned events, there are a few numerical symbols about Ashura. For example the Bible directs people to take a lamb for sacrifice on the 10th of Tishrei, the Day of Atonement, it is in Exodus 12:3. (Note the numbers 12 and 3) Imam Hussain is the 3rd of 12 Shi’ite Imams. Also month of Tishrei, although is the 7th month now, used to be the starting month in the ancient Hebrew calendar. It was coherent with Muharam, the first month of Arabic calendar.
Are all these codes and messages of the Bible about Karbala accidental or perhaps the divine hand is being over them? No intellectual mind will accept these facts as accidental coincidents.