How Karbala Teaches Us to Fulfill Our Purpose

In our previous meditation, we discussed how we are teleological beings who are all striving to achieve eudaimonia, which is where we are aligned and living to the highest version of our self. In Islam, we see how this is Nafsul-Muthmainnah, where we are living in a way that is pleasing to Allah (SWT) and, consequently, we are reassured and pleased to Allah (SWT) and, consequently, also with our self.

In order to live to the highest version of our self, we must first know what the highest version of our self is. In philosophy, this is called Euthymia, where we both know our purpose and are living according to this purpose.

It is narrated that when Jibraeel (AS) came to Rasulullah (SAW) to tell him that Imam Hussain (AS) would be martyred in the land of Karbala, Rasulullah (SAW) was upset. Jibraeel (AS) reassured Rasulullah (SAW) by saying that Allah (SWT) has created a high rank in Jannah that Imam Hussain (AS) can only achieve through his shahadat.

From this narration, we see the importance of knowing our purpose. Imam Hussain (AS) was an Imam (AS) and, consequently, knew what his fate would be. Imam Hussain (AS) knew from a young age that he would be martyred in Karbala and that his purpose was to save Islam. Therefore, Imam Hussain (AS) had and lived with Euthymia.

The Day of Ashura is a day of great sadness for us but, more importantly, it is a day of great introspection. It is the day in which we remember the sacrifice of our Imam (AS) and of those who sacrificed themselves for our Imam (AS) and it is a day in which we reflect upon our own Euthymia, which is to serve our Imam (AS) truthfully and loyally so that through His (AS) pleasure, we gain Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

More importantly, in serving our Imam (AS) we must question how much we are giving the Imam of our time (AS) and how much we are giving in service to Allah (SWT). We may think that we are giving 2.5% zakat or observing our salaat and saum and that is satisfactory to Allah (SWT), the one who has given us everything. When we relate this to what Imam Hussain (AS) gave in the name of Allah (SWT), the sacrifices that he made and the way he served Allah (SWT), we see how little we truly give.

Indeed, our live to our purpose, our Euthymia, is to serve our Imam (AS) and to serve Allah (SWT). We often hear the phrase ‘Live like Ali (AS) and die like Hussain (AS).’ When we reflect upon the latter, what does it mean to die like Hussain (AS)? We will not face a battle like Karbala nor will we be asked to make the sacrifice that Imam Hussain (AS) made. However, when we do die, we can do so in a way in which we have given as much as we can in service to our Imam (AS) and to Allah (SWT). We can die knowing that we have lived with Euthymia.

With this Day of Ashura, our cycle of meditations reaches a beautiful conclusion through a perfect completion. By remembering the death of Imam Hussain (AS) and his family and companions, we are also reminded that we too will die, and that life is short. It is this shortness of life that makes it valuable and it is the valuableness of life that makes the most valuable aspect of our life even more valuable, our faith, our religion, Islam, and our relationship with Allah (SWT), from whom we came from and to whom we will return, the one whom Imam (AS) died so heroically in order to protect his true message for us to benefit from today.

May Allah (SWT) give us all the wisdom and understanding to live with Euthymia and to fulfill our purpose of serving our Imam (AS) and, through this, serving Allah (SWT) in the best way that we can. May we die knowing that we have lived our life doing so and have given us much of this valuable life to that which is most valuable to us. Aamin.

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