Tasua, day of making a choice between paradise or perfidy
Tasua services are held a day before the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and the third Imam of the Shia Muslims.
Millions of black-clad mourners attend ceremonies across Iran as well as Iraq, Pakistan, Azerbaijan Republic, Lebanon and also in Europe, America and Africa for mourning processions.
Tasua is one of the most crucial days in history. It is the day preceding the world’s most heartrending tragedy, i.e. Ashura or the 10th of Muharram on which Imam Hussein (AS) attained immortal martyrdom with his sons, brothers, nephews, and loyal companions, on the plain of Karbala, Iraq, beside the Euphrates River.
He was martyred in a state of acute thirst, since the cowardly enemies had blocked all access to the river. Tasua is thus the day on which the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny), granted respite to both friends and foes, to contemplate on the wisdom of their actions – whether good or bad – before choosing the final path either of paradise or perfidy.
On the 9th of Muharram the Imam held parleys with Omar ibn Sa’d, the Commander of the Umayyad forces sent against him. He asked him the reason for the hostility but did not receive any convincing answers from that weak and cowardly person, who made several lame excuses, saying that he feared for his own life if he disobeyed the libertine Yazid’s tyrannical governor of Iraq, Obaidollah ibn Ziyad. When Imam Hussein (AS) invited him towards virtues and felicities with the tidings of paradise in afterlife, the short-sighted Ibn Sa’d said the Umayyad caliph had promised to reward him with the governorship of Rey in Iran for doing their bidding. After a lengthy discussion which had no effect on Ibn Sa’d, the Imam got up saying: “You are not destined to taste even a single grain of the wheat of Rey.”
When night approached, Imam Hussein (AS) assembled his small band of faithful followers in his encampment and delivered a moving sermon which has been quoted by the theologian Shaikh Mufid, the historian Tabari, and others. Accordingly, when the Imam finished his speech and he insisted that they should leave him to avoid trouble, his brothers, sons, nephews, and companions, led by his valiant brother Abbas (AS), all said with one voice: "Should we go away to live after you? We pray to Allah that the time may not come when you may be killed and we may remain alive."
Then the Imam turned to the descendants of his uncle Aqil and said: "O children of Aqeel! It is sufficient that (your brother) Muslim has been killed (in Kufa). You are now free to go away". They replied: "Praise be to Allah! If we leave our chief and the best of our cousins and go away and do not fight along with him with arrows, spears and swords, and do not know how he and his friends have fared with the enemy, what will the people say? By Allah we shall do no such thing. We shall sacrifice our life and property in the path of Allah by rendering assistance to you, and shall fight along with you so that we may also acquire the honour of martyrdom. What a shame to live the life which is without you!"
Then the aged companion Moslem bin Awsaja stood up and said: "If we withdraw our support from you and leave you alone what excuse shall we put forward before Allah (on the Day of Resurrection)? By Allah, I shall not go away and shall never leave you. I shall thrust my spear in the chest of your enemies and shall quench the thirst of my sword with their blood as far as possible. And when there are no weapons left in my hand to fight with, I shall shower stones upon them. By Allah we shall not leave you, so that Allah may see that in the absence of His Prophet we have honored the rights of his (grand)son. By Allah, even if I come to know that I shall be killed and then burnt in fire and shall be brought to life again and eventually my ashes will be scattered in the air, and I die and become alive in this way seventy times, even then I shall not leave you."
When the speech of Moslim bin Awsaja came to an end, Zuhayr bin Qayn Bajali stood up. He was the same man, who was at one time an opponent of the Ahl al-Bayt, had remained away from the Imam on the route to Iraq, and did not wish to meet him. Allah, however, willed that Zuhayr should meet martyrdom in His path in the company of Imam Hussein (AS) so that he might be honored forever and his good and glorious name should illuminate the history of the tragedy of Ashura.
Thus, on Tasua, Imam Hussein (AS), in his brief speech gave a significant lesson to his sister to be prepared for the heartrending events of the following day, that is, Ashura, in order to acquire the courage for the equally tragic aftermath of the tragedy.