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Why is the uprising of Ashura different from all the uprisings and movements of the world?

God, the Exalted, is an insightful critic. The work of Imam Hussain (a.s.) is a work in which there is not even a slight hint of impurity. Hence, you see this quality achievement has lasted to this day and will last forever.

The Center of Mosque Studies - We need to read between the lines, and carefully ponder over the life story of Hussain ibn-Ali (a.s.). Many have risen up in the world; they have had a leader, and they were also killed. Among them, numerous were children of the prophets and Imams (a.s.). However, Imam Hussain (a.s.) was unique. The event of Karbala was extraordinary. The martyrs of Karbala have a special position. Why? The answer is to be searched in the nature of the event, which gives a lesson to us all, including and maybe, in particular, to you, dear [disabled] war veterans.
One characteristic of the event is that Imam Hussain's movement was solely and truly for the sake of God, the religion and rectifying the society of Muslims. This first feature is very important. Imam Hussain (a.s.) stated: "I did not rise up [leaving my homeland] out of self-interest, for the sake of seeking pleasure, corruption or oppression;”—that is, it was not for swaggering, selling himself, desiring something for himself, or a pretentious spectacle. There was not even a bit of oppression or corruption in this movement. “I rise up only for the sake of rectification of the nation of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah."-This is an extremely important point. The Arabic word used which means 'only' indicates that there is no other intention that can contaminate the pure intention and the sun-like mind of Imam Hussain (a.s.). When addressing the first Muslims of the early years of Islam, the Holy Quran states: "Do not be like those who marched out boastfully to show off their strength to people and hinder people from the way of God {Quran; 8:47}.” Here, Imam Hussain (a.s.) says: “I did not rise up out of self-interest or for the sake of seeking pleasure.”
These are two different manners, two different behaviors. The Quran reads: "Do not be like those who marched out boastfully”, arrogantly, and selfishly. It means that this kind of behavior lacks the purity of intentions. That is, in the movement of the corrupt approach, it is only self-centeredness that matters. “To show off”: This kind of a person adorns himself, rides an expensive horse, wears pieces of jewellery, recites arrogant chants, and comes out. Toward where? Toward the battlefield. The battlefield is where this person and many like him will die. Such a person rises up in this manner. There is nothing but arrogance in him.
This is one way [of coming out]. On the other side, the best example is Hussain Ibn Ali (AS) who is pure from any form of selfishness and is not after self-interest or personal, familial, or communitarian gains. This is the first characteristic of the movement of Hussain Ibn Ali (AS). The more selfless one is, the more value does he gain in what he does. The more one moves away from the peak of selflessness, the closer they get to the peak of selfishness, egotism, self-interest, personal and seeking familial gain and such which is a whole other spectrum. Between that pure selflessness and pure selfishness, there is a vast field. Going from one side of it to the other decreases the value of our work. It becomes less fruitful, and also less durable. This is an outcome of the matter. The more defective the product, the sooner it decays. If it is pure, it will never go bad. Giving you a physical example, a piece of 100% pure gold never decays. Nor does it rust. But the more copper, iron, and other cheaper elements are added to the alloy, the more it becomes prone to decay and destruction. This is a general rule.
This applies to what is tangible. But when it comes to spirituality, these equations are far more discerning. We do not understand it because of our materialistic and ordinary vision. Nonetheless, men of vision and understanding perceive. The Critic in this matter, the Goldsmith and the Jeweler, is God the Almighty. And for sure, the Critic sees well. If there is an ounce of impurity in our work, its value would diminish accordingly, and God would reduce its lasting effect.
God, the Exalted, is an insightful critic. The work of Imam Hussain (a.s.) is a work in which there is not even a slight hint of impurity. Hence, you see this quality achievement has lasted to this day and will last forever. Who could believe that after these people were killed in that desert far from their homes, while their bodies were buried there; with so much propaganda spread against them; all killed in such a heartless manner; their hometown of Medina put on fire even after their martyrdom (the story of Harra, which happened the next year); -- this rose garden was devastated, and the petals of roses were all thrusted, yet, later anyone would feel the aroma of the rosewater from this garden? According to which rule of nature, a petal of that rose garden can last so long in the nature? However, you view, the more time passes by, the more the aroma of that rose garden spreads. There are some people who do not believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the grandfather of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and that he follows in his path; yet, they believe in Imam Hussain (a.s.)! Some do not believe in his father, Ali (a.s.), yet, they believe in Imam Hussain (a.s.)! They do not believe in God—the God Imam Hussain worshipped, yet, before Imam Hussain (a.s.), they are humble and respectful! This is the outgrowth of Imam Hussain’s purity.

Imam Khamenei, January 16, 1994
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