One very important dimension of the Institution of Karbala overlooked by so many of us is its spiritual dimension.
Scholars of gnosis (‘irfaan) however have contemplated over this dimension and narrated so much for us to learn and benefit.
In order to make us closer to tangibly perceive the inner dimension of the Karbala event, perhaps the most eloquent revelation is that of Hadhrat Zaynab (‘a), the daughter of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) when asked by Ibn Ziyad how Allah dealt with her brother (Husayn ('a)) and family.
It is narrated that when this was asked, she said: Maa ra’aytu illa jameela (“I did not vision save beauty”). O Zaynab (‘a), when we narrate the tragedy of Karbala nothing but sorrow develops and increases in our hearts.
What other version of Karbala do you have? What beauty is this that whereas you were able to comprehend, most of the narrators of the tragic incident were in oblivion? It is here when we come to realize that beyond this material realm of plurality and conflict (tazaahum), is a realm of unity, harmony, love and beauty which can only be perceived by those who are spiritually united with that realm.
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn al-Tehrani in his Spirit Immaterial (Ruhe Mujarrad) quotes his mentor in ‘irfaan (Divine gnosis), Sayyid Haddad al-Musawi to have said:
“Ashura is a day of which if only a fraction were to be unveiled for the spiritual wayfarers and ardent lovers, it would keep them in a state of bewilderment out of extreme ecstasy until the end of their lives, and they would fall into the state of prostration until the judgment day, out of gratitude to Allah.” (http://www.maarefislam.com/).
Here is Zaynab (‘a) with a lofty spirit, and here is Karbala with all the different calamities. Whereas others beheld what apparently transpired, her penetrating vision tore the veils of this transient realm and apprehended the kernel which according to her was nothing save beauty.
She was of a personality who would tangibly understand and experience the prophetic tradition “Paradise is under the shadows of swords” (Al-jannatu tahta zilaal al-suyoof). She had complete realization of her father’s statement “calamities are bestowals of Allah” (Al-masaa’ibu minhun min Allah”)…
by Sh. Muhammad Khalfan