Hurr, who chose to be free

by Aqeela Naqvi

light is breaking its way through gentle night
with the reddened tones of a blood sunrise
through the tents of Hussain on Ashura
a morning breeze in deep sorrow sighs

those who have just spent the night in prayer
prepare now to face the battle call
bidding farewell to the ones that they love
their words, La ila ha illallah

on the other side of the desert plain
an enemy is preparing now for war
amongst them is seated a man named Hurr
a different battle waging at his core

what is this he is hearing around him?
what is this he has heard the soldiers say?
who is this they are planning to kill –
planning now the murder of al-Hussain?

as if Hurr has summoned him with his thoughts
Hussain on the horizon makes this call:
Is there none to defend the Ahlulbayt,
none who would help us in the name of Allah?

suddenly, Hurr’s body begins to shake,
it was he who brought Hussain to this land
the Commander halting the path to Kufa
instead turning them toward these sands

it was Hurr who brought them to Karbala
O Hurr, what horror is it that you’ve done?
when Hussain arrived he had touched the sands
as if already knowing what was to come

Hussain’s call is like the quake of the earth
dividing the world clean into two sides
before him is the drop of jagged cliffs
behind him, the beauty of al-Hussain’s eyes

before him is the terror of crashing waves
fires angrily before his eyes brew
yet behind him lies the ship of Hussain
the promise to carry him safely through

there is a truth he had not seen before
but now he cannot shake it from his mind
it is up to him to make a choice:
sweet pain of sight, or comfort staying blind?

will he ignore the call of al-Hussain,
choosing instead to fight on the enemy’s side?
knowing that this side’s army is much larger
knowing on this side, he will not yet die?

or will Hurr cross to the side of the truth
his life’s course changed in a single breath
even though Hussain’s ranks are much smaller
even though he would be choosing certain death?

what he was not able to see for years
is now a truth that pierces him with light
a life lived in mountain’s shadows is not life
after having seen from atop their heights

the victory of this world that is Yazeed’s
is short as the space between night and dawn
but true victory belongs to al-Hussain
in God’s pleasure, living forever, on and on

Hurr cries out to the sky, I stand between
Heaven and Hell, and Hell I have spurned
by God, I will choose nothing but Heaven
even if I’m cut to pieces or if I am burned

Hurr mounts his horse and rides out to Hussain
hands on his head like a prisoner newly set free
with each step, his heart is pleading this call
my master Hussain, somehow forgive me…

when he reaches Hussain it is as if
Hussain’s been waiting for him all this while
when Hurr had not yet known what he could be
Hussain showed him with a single smile

when Hurr had thought that all that was written
was desire and darkness in his fate
Hussain showed him how to seek out his light
by choosing to walk with the Ahlulbayt

Hussain says, I forgive you, may God accept
Hurr’s life is changed with a single repent,
and around him begins to fill the air
the sweetest aroma of heaven’s scent

Hurr would gladly get down from his horse
to kiss the burning plains of Karbala
but he is eager to defend the Imam of his time
his life for the life of Aba Abdillah

the next time he will dismount from this horse
it will be only to take his final breath
when once he had feared death’s seeking of him
now with faith and courage, he seeks out death

Hurr looks bravely across the battlefield
the vision of an eagle in his gaze
arrows begin to fall, strong like the rain,
he meets them strengthened with God’s praise

soldiers he had stood with moments before
he meets like a rising tide amidst the fray
from whom he now differs like day from night
for upon seeing truth, he did not look away

when his body becomes covered in wounds
he falls upon the ground and this he cries
peace be upon you my master Hussain,
my last farewell to you beneath these skies…

Hussain kneels beside the body of Hurr,
who had been with him for less than a day –
but who was a true companion of his soul
in his sacrifice, this lesson would stay:

at the start of Hurr’s day, he was just a man
but at the end, he was martyred, a friend of God
life’s candle can quiver with the person you’ve been
…or it can blaze with the person you truly are

at some point in our lives we will all stand
in the place Hurr stood on that fateful day
will we choose to give into the darkness?
or will we choose to keep it at bay?

will we choose to raise above our heads men
as the gods we worship through our desires
or will we choose to bow our heads before
the One God worthy of calling Higher

when the snarl of man tells us that we’re weak
will we feel his words – arrows in the heart?
or will faith in Allah free us from all pain
even if they come to tear our flesh apart?

Hussain says, you are indeed free, O Hurr
as the name your mother upon you has blessed
like the eagle that chose to soar past its cage
free in this world, and free in the next

the skies lower their heads in deep regard
as the soul of Hurr, the free, leaves Karbala
his success: a soul journeying from Hussain…
to the welcoming arms of al-Mustafa

it is as if the grounds of Karbala shake
as they call out to mankind with this voice
O you who seek God, know the journey to Him
is traversed in the span of a single choice

Imam Hussain gently wipes away blood
from the slopes of Hurr’s glimmering face
with just one choice, a man like Hadhrat Hurr
became worthy of this beautiful grace

and in this moment it seems as if
Hussain wishes for the centuries to see
if we wish to walk amongst his ranks
amongst them we must simply choose to be

perhaps our bodies could not be there
perhaps we could not stand there on that day
but Hussain’s army was not just one of flesh
it was of spirits, weaving through the fray

when it comes to Hussain, time falls away
the centuries shrink themselves down in awe
if in each day we choose to live like Ashura
if in each land, we choose to see Karbala

if we stand on the plains of our life
and see the branching of a noble tree

the purest roots of the Prophet of God
the guardians of religion, the deepest sea

if comes before us, the Imam of our time,
eagles in cages, and before us, the key

asking if we’ll choose to fight the war to
conquer the self, or if we will choose to flee,

if in the desert of our souls, we’ll choose to defend
Hussain, wounded, falling to his knees,

in that moment, we must choose to be brave, like Hurr,

brave enough to choose to be free.

 

“You are Hurr – the free one – as your mother named you;
you are free in this world as well as in the next world.”
-Imam Hussain (a)-

please accept my salaams, now, and forever,
O Hurr, Free man amongst the free.