The late respected Allamah Bahrul Uloom narrated, Once, I was travelling to Samarrah. Along the way, a question arose suddenly in my mind that are the sins of those who shed tears upon Imam Hussain (as) forgiven or not?
No sooner had this question come to my mind that I saw a horse rider coming towards me. He came close to me and after offering his salutations, he said, O respected Sayyed! What are you thinking about? If it is a religious question, then do narrate it. Perhaps I can offer you a solution.
I replied, I was thinking how Allah, the Merciful and Generous, has ordained a reward for the visitors of Imam Hussain (as) that for those who walk to his (as) shrine, in exchange of each step, Allah writes for them the reward of a Hajj and Umrah in their book of deeds. And as for those who cry upon his difficulties, in exchange for each tear, Allah forgives their large and small sins.
The horse rider said, Don’t be surprised by this. Let me narrate for you an example which will solve your dilemma.
He continued, One day, a king left for hunting along with his courtiers. During this hunt, the king was separated from his courtiers such that they were both unable to reach each other. He tried his best to make contact with his companions, but was unsuccessful. He was tired and so weakened that even walking was difficult for him. Hungry and thirsty, he just did not know what to do. Suddenly he saw a tent in the distance and started walking towards it.
An old woman stayed in the tent along with her son. Her only worldly possession was a goat with whose milk she was able to eke out a living. When the king arrived at her door step, she did not recognise him. Nevertheless, she was hospitable to him. She sacrificed her goat and fed its meat to the king as she did not have anything else to offer to him. The king ate to his fill and stayed there for the night. The next morning the king graciously took her leave and was soon reunited with his companions. Thereafter, he narrated the previous night’s episode to his companions and then asked them –
If I wish to reward this lady and her son, then what is an appropriate compensation for their service?
One of the courtiers stood up and said, O king! You can pay her back by granting her 100 sheep. Another courtier proffered, you can grant her 100 sheep and 100 gold coins. A third suggested that the king gift her a particular piece of land.
The king said, whatever I grant her, it will fall short of the favour she has conferred upon me. If I grant her complete control over my kingdom, it will equal what she has done for me. This is because she gave up all she had for me. Therefore if I wish to compensate her fully, it is only correct that I give up everything I have in her favour.
After this, the horse rider said, O Bahrul Uloom! Whatever Imam Hussain (as) had at his disposal – his wealth and possessions, his family and friends, his brother, his sisters and even himself (as), he gave it all up in the way of Allah. (It is not possible that the Divine will grant His divinity to the Imam (as)). Therefore if Allah rewards the visitors and mourners of Imam Hussain (as) in this manner, then you should not be astonished for this is an ordinary task and very easy for Him (Undoubtedly, this is Allah whose award is without any limit, whose bounty is all encompassing and whose generosity is beyond compare such that none can estimate its extent)
Saying this, the horse rider kept silent which drew my attention to him, but I realised that he was not there! For a moment, I was stunned. Then my mind guided me that the horse rider was none other than Imam Mahdi (as). I searched for him in the nearby area and up to the distance I could see, I looked for him, but I could not get the chance of meeting him (as). A wave of regret and remorse arose in my heart on the loss of this opportunity.
Lessons from the incident
As per the words of Hazrat Ameerul Momeneen Ali (as), whether an Imam (as) is present before the people or in occultation, he always guides the people. This aspect comes out in the above incident more clearly than the sun.
The incident establishes that Imam Mahdi (as) is the true successor of Imam Hussain (as). This is because the Allamah had not narrated this incident to any person. In fact it was a question which arose in his mind only. No one apart from Allah, His Messenger (sawa) and His Imam are aware what is in the hearts and minds of people.
Imam Mahdi (as) himself says, – If you seek guidance, you will get it. Whatever are your (legitimate) desires, you will reach them.
If we adhere to religion and pay attention to the fulfilment of our duties towards it, then such questions will not misguide us. Rather they will aid towards increasing our recognition and guidance as was in this incident.
As far as possible, we should try to go for the Ziyarat of the Holy Imams (as), especially Imam Hussain (as) for surely this is an act which is the cause of pleasure of Allah, His Messenger (sawa) and the Imams (as). It will also open the doors for our success in this world and the hereafter. In this visits as well, we should seek Imam Mahdi (as) for these are those sacred places which are frequented by him and it is possible that we may get an opportunity to meet him.