To Imam Hussain,
If you have not known up to this point in your life, that Allah Almighty has gifted your father with an eccentrically ethereal token of imagination, then now you are about to, son.
Your father, as it so happens – and it so happens rather blissfully – has been an author of a handful of letters and write-ups which he has written for some ‘pearls’ that have clammed upon the transient waves along his ocean of a life. Cruel if you may want to call your father you may, as these very write-ups have made these very ‘pearls’ shed a tear or few upon reading what your father had written (words pierce, son, you see… you will see) – and it was somewhere along the lines of what you are about to read. In no particular order, these were written for Zeenat, who was a beloved friend that upturned your father’s life completely; a letter was written for Faryal, who has been a sentinel, a protector, a guarding beacon house, a close friend; another letter was written for dear Miss Fareeha, who has been one of the loveliest teacher your father has ever had (he is smiling even now as he recalls all this); plenty was written for Farayha, some Dumbo. You must have – given how deeply observant and an engrossed reader you are (like your father) – possibly found two patterns: one revealing that your father is far from a misogynist, son, but don’t consider him a pervert in any case for dedicating all wordy declarations for solely ladies in his life; secondly, you find that most of these pearls’ names follow with an ‘F-A-R’ at their start. It is a rather unusual pattern your father has spent living with, but it is what it is, son. And as it so happens, my current employer and teacher too follows the latter pattern – his name is Farooq -, and he has grown upon me too. Consider it a possibility that a letter will be written for him too whence we part ways (though, it is possible that your father might not be able to move him to tears because, you know, men are not as touchy-feely). The point of this narration is that, within your resilient father has been sizzling and broiling a pulsating desire to compose a letter for you too, Imam Hussain. Yes, yes, it is already realized that your father’s letter to you will disrupt his ‘dedication pattern’ inside out, but your father is a whimsical man. Trust this, and also that your father is one weird a man too. Very.
Maybe somewhere along the shifting saccades you might have taken note that your father sounds like an ancient man. Haha, it is not so, believe this – he is merely a quarter of a century old as of now -. He is quarter child, quarter mythical, quarter ordinary, and only quarter ancient. A 20 year old universe, who has, at this age, when you are far from existence my child, fantasized about you with you and you in his reveries, poking and probing constantly to the point that your father sometimes transits between the undulations of thrill and sentimentality. This is ecstasy son, and admittedly rather befuddling too, that you have become your father’s prayer. How glorious you are, how chivalrous, how ethereal, like a sudden epiphany, Imam Hussain.
Enough about him now, though. Your father heartily apologises for being soporific, son. Let’s start about you; your name. Is your name not sheer beauty? heavenly? You have been named Imam Hussain, as it must have been regularly discussed with your father, after Imam Hussain (RA) bin Ali (RA) ibn Abu Talib (RA), mother Fatima (RA) bint e Muhammad (SAW). One of the two glorious grandsons of Allah’s beloved, Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – who is the reason of this universe’s existence. Imam Hussain (RA) lives inside the hearts of every true believer, son. Millenias away from where my words will end, reverent praises will begin for these Men of Allah. So expect not this from your father that he has ever done an atom’s worth of justice whenever he recalled for you, the might of Allah’s men. Just because your father’s heart pumped, and still pumps, with the love for the sacrifices laid down at Karbala – that one eternal prostration before Allah, that resilience towards honour, and that honour in standing rock-footed before fleets upon fleets of bloodhounds… for righteousness – by the family of our beloved Prophet SAW – whose earned thirst never has been curbed with more gratification compared to any other, for the goblet of Kausar was offered by Allah’s Beloved SAW to his grandson Imam Hussain (AS) and the family of Hussain (AS) in Paradise (what a sight, by Allah, would that have been) – thereby your father named you Imam Hussain. Imam Hussain, your parents take an oath that they will do their best in nurturing you in the best of light (this is both a foresight for now and a promise). And you promise that whenever you see your name, read your name, write your name, listen to your name – or do anything decent with your name given the advanced technology/ies there are available at your age and generation – you will be reminded of Imam Hussain (RA). You will be the symbol of courage, of truth, of honour, of resilience for what you rightfully stand for; of piety, of grace, or reverence. That is your father’s plan to see you as. You will be a dream come true, Imam Hussain.
No no, this is already established that there are no restricted pathways predestined for you by any mortal. This, you know, and you always should. You will not be beaten if you do not pray all five prayers, fast all 30 days; or, you know, ogle at pretty girls every once in a while. There is no indexed timeline of your life, because you will try music, you will love it; you will read all sorts of literature (even the genres which you shouldn’t), you will come to be infatuated with a lady, interpreting or misinterpreting that as love; you will tease your siblings, given that you have some (Inshallah 😉 ), you will have rowdy friends, and late night parties, and arguments with your parents; you will undergo bouts of lost temper, taste the bitterness of failure/s, have vulgar outbursts of laughter at inappropriate moments, spend lonely nights depressed under a wet blanket, heartily desire, pray, and wish that your grandmother or some of your aunt, or some other relative stops being clingy and riddling you with questions of sorts all; you will have girl friends and might have girlfriends, you will have crazy and unforeseen moments and you will end up finding yourself where you never would have imagined you will find yourself, you will obscenely scream, shrill and hoot when your favorite sports team wins or scores (a goal, a six, a basket, anything), you will cuss out loudly with friends, you will prank your teachers, you will shrug off beggars, you might catch up vices which your parents would have prayed that you must have never caught. You will be flawed, Imam Hussain, but there will be a limit to your flaws. You will gulp mistakes and lessons will stick between the walls of your throat which you will have to eject out. You will travel at the speed of life and you will observe what it is like to be a human being. You will be bad, son, but this faith is somehow engrossed within your father’s heart that your goodness will always overshadow your flaws. You will be in love with the world and then the world will break you, quite wonderfully, and you will be a singing, shining mosaic, glued together with love, that would have just become as deep a part of you as your bones and flesh. Because your father has undergone the wild side of this life too, therefore all of the above wilderness he sees you doing too some day; he promotes for you the same rowdy pattern in your life. You may go through the similar patterns in your life from Eminem, to Khaled Hosseini to Game of Thrones to Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp, to whatever is popular in your era, it is absolutely fine. It will be amazing, trust this. But, you will never undermine or taint or let anyone else taint what is at the core of you, and that is Islam: Allah, Rasool-Allah SAW, The Holy Quran, Anbia-e-Karam AS, Sahaba of the Prophet (RA), Ahl-al-bayt, and all the followers of Haqq and of righteousness and of divinity, and love/respect for the mankind – and that includes all people, son, good and bad. This will be at the core of you, Imam Hussain, like a source code is of any computer program. You will be your parents’ Sadqa-e-Jariah.
All things said, there is no compromise on one part, son. Listen carefully here, no compromise on one part, Imam Hussain… That you will be a lion. That you will have to be a lion when it comes to you standing beside or before injustice or cruelty or falsehood. You will do what the best of the Men did. You will cut yourself off from your neighbour if they are the one standing before you in your way, with your best friend if he does so, your sibling, even your father if he goes rabid (God forbid), but you will do so. You will face them then if it comes to that, you will fight them then if they lead you to that. You will be a lion son, you will then have to recall Ibn-e-Haider then son. You will. You will recall or look up what Rasool-Allah SAW would have done, what Siddique-e-Akbar (RA) would have done, what Farooq-e-Azam (RA) would have done, what Usman-e-Ghani (RA) would have done, what Abu Turab, Asadullah (RA) himself would have done. These are the Mightiest of the mightiest, Truest of the truest, most Faithful of the most faithful, most Chivalrous of the most chivalrous, most Generous of the most generous of men, Imam Hussain. Are you listening closely, son? You must, for your supports in this life will tumble soon. Your life itself will wrap upon itself soon enough, son. Even your father right now is imagining that he merely used to be 4 a week ago, that only yesterday, he used to be among friends that he could call friends which no longer remain in his life. The point is that your options will run out, my dear mansion of stars. At that point then, you will refer to the best of men to guide you through, and you will ask of the best of and the only Lord of all kingdoms and dominions that there are; Allah. The only one who Ever was, Always will be. I know that I have inculcated this within you again and again; it is this constant reinforcement that we live upon, do we not?
Alright now, let’s lighten the mood up slightly. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR UNCLES AND AUNTS? Isn’t uncle Emad the most hilarious person that ever lived? (meh, hyperbole) and isn’t he also the single-most lamest person you have ever encountered? My God, that man is your father’s love, Imam Hussain. If your father could say that he has a soulmate, it is he, Emad. You should see him, uh, of course you have, Inshallah, but you should see him now, he is … beyond words. Your father rarely goes at a loss for words, son, trust this, but when it comes to Emad, and basically to your father’s family and faith, his prejudices run deep. That is just how your father is, weirdo-type. An absolutely bizarre-weirdo. Though, a unique one – a rare one -; a one of a kind.