Imam HUSSAIN’S Revoloution: An Analytical Review


This survey of the unique revolution of Imam Hussain (p.b.u.h.) is analytical

in essence. The purpose of this essay is to give a qualitative rather than

quantitative account. It has dealt with the causes, policy and results of this

eternal revolution. This is done in the hope of unveiling the startling aspects

of the revolution’s message, which is often neglected in its traditional


In being confronted with this event, many questions need to be answered. First,

why did this revolution take place? What were its implications and procedures?

And what were its conclusive results? The answers may provide a guiding light on

which people would formulate their judgments. Although the following account is

only a person’s viewpoint which is not necessarily the complete answer.

Nevertheless, it is based on the most popular and trustworthy authorities on the


The answers of the above questions are by no means easy, because they involve

analysis of the prevailing conditions before and after the revolution. Indeed

comprehensive answers would require volumes in order that one may be satisfied.

Not to mention the stormy and turbulent events of the time, which add

substantial difficulties in the way of objective research work.

To understand Imam Hussain’s personality and the collective culture of the

society, a summary of Islam’s view of life is necessary.

The Islamic Message

Islam is a philosophy of life. It gives reasons and a set purpose for living.

Furthermore, it defines the best ways to secure progress and happiness. This is

done by elevating the spiritual side and satisfying the material needs of


Islam considers man as a viceroy of God on earth. This status is a fine one, but

it is also critical for the requirements must be satisfied. Thus, he is in an

envied position, and consequently his acts and behavior are expected to conform

with the high level he is occupying. The Islamic concepts and laws are

inseparable parts of the Islamic ideology. They are the practical expression of

Islam in society and life in general. These concepts and laws are essentially

concerned with harmonizing people’s relationships among themselves, with other

beings, and above all with the Creator.

The basic Islamic outlook to this life is that of an introductory course. This

worldly life is viewed as a prelude to another eternal life. Therefore, this

world is a preparatory stage for people in order to attain the spiritual level,

which permits them to enter Paradise. The other side of the picture is the

horror of Hell for people who misuse the powers at their disposal. Hence,

success and failure are not measured with this worldly or materialistic

supremacy. The Islamic measure differs from materialistic standard by accounting

for the life hereafter. The satisfaction of God is the sublime aim, which

surpasses all other inclinations and wishes. This is by no account neglecting

materialistic supremacy, but putting it in its rightful place. It is with the

satisfaction of God that Muslims seek materialistic supremacy.

Who is Imam Hussain (as)?

Imam Hussain’s life and status in the Islamic history are formidable. Indeed, it

is not of obscurity but because of the vitality and the significance of his

contributions. The following account is only a very brief record of his


He was one of two sons of Imam Ali and Fatimah, the daughter of the Holy Prophet

(p.b.u.t.). His father, Imam Ali, needs no introduction. The least known of him

as to be acknowledged by the far and near and by his foes and admirers. He was

openly declared by the Prophet as the Commander of the faithful’s. Needless to

mention his knowledge, bravery, steadfastness, brotherhood to the Prophet,

justice and piety.

Fatimah was the dearest daughter to her father (p.b.u.t.). Al-Turmudhi narrated

through Usamah ibn Zaid that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, “The dearest member of

my family to me is Fatimah”. She was declared by the Prophet as the master of

all women in the whole world. She and her husband were members of the family who

were signified for their qualities and roles. They are examples of interest to

Muslims, men and women. Their role was an extension of the Prophet’s role in the

sense of leading the great cultural transformation from the darkness of an

infidel’s culture to the brightness of heavenly light.

Historians recorded the birth of Imam Hussain as an exciting event for the

Muslims at Madina and especially to the Prophet of God. He was even concerned

with the name given to his grandson, ‘Hussain’. And the news flared up in the

sky, the Muslims congratulated each other for the new child whom the Prophet

considered as his own son. Thus the Prophet once declared, “Hussain is of myself

and I am of Hussain. O, God be pleased with those who please Hussain”. This

statement was not accidental or the result of emotional strains as it is wrongly

claimed sometimes.

This declaration came from a responsible wise leader, the Prophet of God who

would never commit a mistake during the performance of his Prophetic task. He

was delivering the Islamic Message and informing people of those who will act as

springs and guardians for this Message in the future. Emotions and sentiments

are not loose in a Muslim’s life, but are controlled by Islamic concepts and

ideals. There is always a criterion for like and dislike which evolves from the

deeply rooted Islamic concepts.

Although Abu Lahab was the Uncle of the Prophet, his infidelity made him cursed

till the Day of Judgment. The Prophet of God made another statement, which

leaves no doubt of Imam Hasan’s and Imam Hussain’s role. He (p.b.u.h.) said, “Hasan

and Hussain are the masters of youth in Paradise”. This was presented as a

credential to the Muslim nation in order to hold firm to their leaders.

At a certain time the Muslims at Madina felt the Islamic Message’s glory and

good results. So that they intended to reward the Prophet for his effort in

guiding them. The gift they presented to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was some gold,

which they had collected. The Prophets answer came in the following verses,

which were revealed during this incident. “Say: ‘No reward do I ask of you for

this except being kind to those of kin” (23/42).

AI-Kashaaf narrated that when this verse was revealed, people asked the Prophet

“O Prophet of God, who are these of kin which this verse makes their respect

obligatory upon us?” The Prophet answered, “They are Ali, Fatimah, and their two

sons”. However, this did not imply disrespect for other Muslims, companions or

the rest of kin to him.

Looking objectively at the message of the verse it will indicate first of all

reluctance to accept material reward. If a reward was not suitable then it

cannot be restricted to material only. Hence, the verse was indicating respect

to some specific people, not because they are his relatives as such. But the

real reason behind this respect was to safeguard the Islamic Message. The role

they assumed to play in the Islamic history required such respect in order to

enable them to perform their task.

Al-Hakim narrated through Abu Saaid Al-Khidri that the Prophet said, “He who

dislikes us, we the family, God will place him in Hell”. This implies those who

dislike Islamic conduct and life.

Jabir narrated that the Prophet in his speech after performing the last

pilgrimage, said, “O people I am leaving the book of God and my family (Itrah)

for guidance. If you hold fast to them, surely you will never go astray”. This

Hadith was narrated through some twenty different sources of trusted chains of

narrators. Muslim in his Sahih quoted some of them.

Another striking Hadith obtained through Abu Dhar where he quoted the Prophet

saying, “O people, let my family act as a head of a body of you, and as eyes of

a head among you”.

The last few Hadiths are impressive in many respects. First they were narrated

by different sources of different inclinations which add to them extra weight.

Secondly the same content of all indicates the consistency of the event.

Imam Hussain as already stated, was one member of the family of the Prophet. He

was brought up in the Prophetic guidance where he received the direct concern of

the Prophet. The ideal atmosphere where he had grown up with his grandfather,

father, mother and elder brother was the highest level ever attained.

Thus he acquired wisdom, generosity, bravery, and piety. He occupied outstanding

posts during his father’s reign in the Islamic State. During the terror and

corruption which swept the Muslim World at the hands of the Umayads, he was the

sole hope of the Muslims to restore the establishment of the Islamic laws which

would bring them prosperity, peace and happiness of the two worlds. He never

failed the Muslims, but acted as expected of a great ideological leader and

discharged his duty to the best.

Who is Yazid?

Yazid was the son of Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan, from the family of Umayyah, one of

Quraish’s families. Abu Sufyan was acting as the chief adversary in the

infidel’s campaign against Islam. Muawiya’s mother, Hind, ate the liver of Hamza,

the Uncle of the Prophet because of her burning hatred and beast hood. Muawiya

too was an active opponent to Islam. Indeed, Abu Sufyan’s family was performing

the strategic, financial and boosting morale in the infidel’s campaign against

the Muslims. Their efforts, wealth and diplomacy were of great burden on

preventing the spread of Islam among Arab tribes.

Time had lapsed and Mecca was suddenly besieged with enormous forces of the

Muslims. The unbelievers at Mecca were struck with seeing the Muslim fighters

who had caught them unprepared. Thus, the infidels had no choice but to abandon

their arrogance, which had prevented them from accepting God’s sovereignty.

During this incident, historians recorded some peculiar stories about Abu

Safyan’s family. However, there is one thing certain that they accepted Islam

unwillingly, and they were treated in a special way for that. For instance, they

were given extra donations in order to gain their hearts towards Islam. But

whether this generosity had any influence to produce a change in their

materialistic thinking is a different matter. Indeed subsequent events revealed

no change in their way of thinking and life.

Yazid was brought up in a family whose atmosphere was electrified with emotions

of its dead who fought Islam. Besides seeing those Muslims who killed them

receiving full honor and respect by the whole society. Not to mention the wasted

wealth, injured pride and stripped privileges of their family. However, Yazid

had some unique qualities in the adverse sense. He was known as a playboy during

his youth. Historians recorded him being drunk, committing adultery and in

general leading a very corrupt life. Some even quoted Yazid saying, “The family

of Hashim staged a play to get a Kingdom. Actually there was neither news from

God nor a revelation”. Even if we discarded this extreme, there is no escape

from facing the rest of his shameful deeds and horrifying crimes. Not to mention

his illegal claim to rule the Muslim World, or misusing Muslim’s money, or

intrusion upon people’s dignity and lives.

Origins of Deviation

How did Muawiya ascend the ruling stage, and even dare claiming the succession

of the Prophet? What happened to the Muslim World to be silent at the assumption

of power by an ignoble person like Yazid? Indeed, it is astonishing to witness

the indifference and irresponsibility shown by the vast majority of Muslims.

Islamic values and ideals were as if totally alien to the society. What has

happened to the dynamic forces, which had awakened the world? The Prophet’s

voice had not yet died away regarding the responsibility of Muslims. He once

said, “He who sees a cruel governor, violating God’s laws, breaking His

Covenant, acting in contract to the Tradition of the Prophet, doing mischief and

intruding upon people’s rights, then does not try to change that governor

through action or speech, God has promised him a suitable place in Hell”.

We all may wonder over the causes of deviation, which led to this deplorable

situation. We know for sure that Islam is a perfect and practical religion.

Islam is no doubt assured of guiding the Muslims to a stable and prosperous

life. However, the question of deficiency in the Islamic Massage, or the way it

was conducted by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has no place. Therefore, the only

possible errors are confined to the subsequent status of the Muslims, their

handling of affairs, and their conformity to the Islamic laws; besides the

natural obstacles encountered in the sequence of events.

This topic is so large that it cannot be dealt with in this short review.

Nevertheless, it is inevitable to have a few glances at it. It is well known

that the Islamic State extended its borders to vast areas embracing huge

populations. The short time of conquest made its cultural assimilation near to

impossible. Besides the language difficulties and primitive means of

communications and propagation. Many Arab tribes had even fought against Islam

after the Prophet’s departure to the next world, who were under the political

influence of Islam.

It is needless to say that any real and thorough cultural transformation needs

time as a basic factor. A complete transition from one culture to another might

require generations before the new culture is firmly established. The second

factor in determining any cultural change is the presence of the ideological

leadership. The kind of leadership, which has a deep insight into the message

and potentially ready to sacrifice for its success. Naturally, the ideological

leader is expected to conform by the message’s orders otherwise, the aim of his

presence would not be realized.

It is indeed eye-catching in Islamic history the many incidents and Hadiths

which encourage Muslims to follow and proclaim the leadership of Imam Ali after

the Prophet. For instance, in Tafseer Abi Ishaq Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim

Al-Nisabouri Al-Thaalabi who died in 337 A.H. gave a commentary on the following


“Your guardians are God, His Prophet, and the believers who pray and give alms

while prostrate to God. Regarding those who disobey God, His Prophet and the

believers, the party of God are the victors ” (5:58,59) He quoted Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari

stating, “I heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) With these ears or would be deaf, and

saw him with these eyes or would be blind;” the Prophet once said, “Ali is the

leader of the best believers, and the killer of unbelievers, victor who supports

him, and weak who doesn’t ” Abu Dhar added, One day we were praying with the

Prophet, a beggar had entered the mosque.

The beggar was requesting people for help but none helped him except Imam Ali.

While Imam Ali was offering his prayer, he donated his silver ring by pointing

his finger to the poor man and the latter took it filled with joy. After this

incident the Prophet prayed humbly to God and said, “O God, my brother Moses

asked You, O my God, expand my breast; ease my task for me; and remove the

impediment from my speech, so that they may understand what I say; and give me a

Minister from my family, Aaron, my brother; add to-my strength through him, and

make him share my task, that we celebrate thy praise without stint, and remember

thee without stint.

And You answered: ‘Granted is thy prayer, O Moses’. “O God I am your servant and

Prophet. Expand my breast; ease my task; and give me a Minister from my family,

Ali, my brother; add to my strength through him, and make him share my task”.

Abu Dhar concluded: “By, God, as soon as the Prophet completed his prayer the

trustworthy Gabriel came with the following verses: “Your guardians are God, His

Prophet and the believers who pray and give alms while prostrate to God . . .!”

(5:58, 59). Ibn Sinan narrated this incident in Sahih AI Bukhari. Ibn Abbas

narrated this story in Asbab Al-Nizol by Imam Wahidi. All interpreters of Kanz

AI-Umaal held the same opinion of the cause of the revelation of this verse.

On different occasions, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told Imam Ali, “You are to me as

Aaron was to Moses, but there is not Prophet after me”. The consistency of

narrations leave no room for doubt that Imam Ali was chosen by God and His

Prophet to be the ideological leader after the Prophet’s departure. A noteworthy

point is the number and variety of people who confirmed the authenticity of

these stories. Perhaps the most outstanding occasion, which sank into people’s

memories, is the Prophet’s speech during his last pilgrimage. In a large

congregation of Muslims he declared, “He whoever I am his master, Ali is his

master too. O God assist whoever supports him and disgrace those who have enmity

towards him”. Indeed, these are only a few quotations, which Imam Ali had from

God and the Prophet.

Hence it can be safely concluded that Imam Ali’s exclusion from his assigned

duty marked the first major mistake. The inevitable consequences were a slow

deviation, which ended up in a turbulent stream of events, which no one was able

to exercise control over.

Abu Bakr’s reign lasted two years or so, which was an eventful epoch. The

dangers besieging the Muslims were so great that the very existence of the

Muslim community was put between two brackets. But that danger was eliminated by

the many sacrifices of Muslims in lives and substance.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab was appointed by Abu Bakr as the Caliph, and the former

ruled for ten years. His reign is particularly important because of the vast

changes and events, which took place during his time. The conquest of vast areas

brought enormous wealth to the Muslims. But the way this wealth was handled had

created complex problems, which forced Umar to admit their grave consequences.

Indeed, he tried to reform the laws but it was too late to act for he was


Umar ibn Al-Khattab was the first person in charge of Muslim affairs to start

uneven donation of rations among Muslims. He used to prefer some people to

others for various reasons, which generated social classes and sparked off

enmities and rifts in the Muslim society. The laws were not in conformity with

the Tradition of the Prophet or even with Abu Bakr’s procedure. Umar was sad

when he saw the unrest and rifts in the Muslim community and declared, “I was

informed that people have distinct gatherings. When two sit together they talk

of the different groupings and separate entities. By God that is harmful to your

religion, honor and unity”. Realizing the causes of this social phenomenon he

added, “I used to allure people in order to gain their goodwill by preferring

some to others. But if I lived this year, the distribution of wealth will be

even among all people as the Prophet and Abu Bakr used to do.”

A rather serious measure taken by the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab was his

appointment of six nominees to the Caliphate post. This, it is believed had

induced a desire in every one of the nominees to ascend one day to this powerful

and honorable position. Thus it was a matter of time for everyone and they were

engaged in preparing the ground for their ascent.

Uthman ibn Affan was chosen by Abdul Rahman ibn Auf to be the next Caliph, after

being turned down by Imam Ali. Imam Ali refused to accept the Caliphate post

because Abdul Rahman ibn Auf put a condition, which meant retaining the status

quo and preventing any radical change. The vast majority of Muslims resented

Uthman’s policies. His monetary policy was the focus point of resentment,

because he donated large amounts of money to his relatives while the rest of the

people were left empty handed ( Muroj Al-dhahab 2/241 by Al-Masaudi Al-Ansab and

Al-Ashraf [5/25, 28,48,52] by Al-Baladhiri). Indeed, the governors who were

assisting in administering the country had neither ability nor piety. It is

believed that they were appointed because they were of kin to him.

For instance, Al-Waleed ibn Aqabah ibn Abi Muaeet was appointed to govern Kofah.

Al-Waleed was reputed to be a drunkard and people were very dissatisfied with

his behavior. People’s pressure was tremendous that Uthman had to yield and

finally replaced him by another one. The new governor was Saaid ibn Al-As who

had the famous statement “Iraq is Quraish’s garden, we take or leave of it

whatever we like” (Muroj Al-dhahab 2/346 by Al-Masaudi). Muawiya was governing

Damascus and Jordan during the reign of Umar, Uthman added to his state Hams,

Palestine, and Jazera. Egypt’s governor was Abdullah ibn Abi Sirah. All the

previous governors are Uthman’s relatives.

The most striking feature of this bunch of rulers was their contempt for

people’s rights and dignity. They simply looked at the whole Muslim country as

their private property, as it is shown in Al-Waleed’s statement.

Moreover the principal treasury at Madina was not utilized in its rightful ways.

Many Muslims like the treasurer’s trust, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dhar and similar

distinguished companions objected strongly against Uthman’s monetary policies.

Uthman’s reply to those people was, “We take from the treasury whatever we want

in spite of some people’s objections”.

These policies were not only foreign to Islamic conduct and ideals but caused

tremendous sufferings and hardships to the majority of Muslims. Responsible

Muslims played their role in warning Uthman against these deviations but their

advice was in vain. Thus, the situation reached its danger point one day and

exploded which resulted in Uthman’s murder. This act of violence as I believe

could have been avoided by using some peaceful method.

The chaotic conditions and the deterioration of the Muslims material and social

status forced them to rethink their past, present and future. Perhaps it was

like a film passing in their minds, reminding them of events which were

connected with their presence. It is normally the last incident and last speech,

which remain alive in people’s memories. Indeed, it was the Prophet’s famous

speech in Khum during his last pilgrimage, which was recalled. Muslims

remembered that significant event where there were more than one hundred

thousand Muslims present and the Prophet went briefing the Islamic message to

them. In the middle of that anxious crowd, listening carefully to every word

i.e. (p.b.u.h.) uttered, and watching every sign he made. The Prophet took Ali

ibn Talib’s hand and raised it while saying “O, people whoever I am his master,

then Ali is his master too. O, God, assist those who support him and disgrace

those who do not”.

Thus the Muslims found their way out suddenly after the cloud of events

disappeared. They hurriedly went to Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) calling him to perform

his assigned duty. But the abnormal situations existing at the time did not make

his task easy. Indeed, the very acceptance of his duty during such situations

was not healthy. Imam Ali’s reply to the Muslims was negative. He (p.b.u.h.)

said, “Leave me aside and seek someone else”. We are heading at a subject which

has many facets and various colors, neither the hearts would rise to, nor the

minds would be firm upon. The horizons are black and gloomy while reason is


You should know that my acceptance means what I know will be applied and obeyed.

I shall not conform to one’s ideas or listen to others rapprochement. On the

other hand, leaving me aside means I am one of you, listening and conforming to

whom you have appointed for your affairs. “I am better a minister than commander

for you”. In this speech, perhaps, he (p.b.u.h.) wanted to gauge people’s

interests and determination. Moreover, he showed his disinterest for power and

ruling if that means an aim by itself. But the vast majority of Muslims were

determined to see the Prophet’s words and will implemented. They left no choice

to Imam Ali but to accept his rightful role of being the ideological leader to

the Muslim community.

Imam Ali’s Reform

The major problems, which were confronted at the time, were the existence of a

corrupt and incompetent administration, unjust social privileges, and wide

financial gap between the rich and the poor. Thus, Imam Ali’s reforms covered

these three major fields.

1. Administration: All previous governors were instantly expelled from their

posts. And the following people were put in charge, Uthman ibn Haneef for Basrah,

Sahl ibn Haneef for Syria, Qais ibn Saad ibn Ubadah for Egypt, and Mousa Al-Ashari

for Kofah. It is noteworthy that all the mentioned governors were not from

Quraish tribe. This was bitterly taken by Quraish who were accustomed to rule

and get the lion share of money and authority. It is not out of place to mention

that the new governors were not only known for their piety and good conduct, but

possessed sound administrative abilities. However, it must be taken into account

that the conditions in which they were operating and the unstable situation of

that period gave them no chance to manifest fully their talents. But, still the

marks, which they left in the society, were so deep that they survived and

remembered for generations.

2. Protection of Rights: The rights of Muslims whether social or financial were

carefully observed and protected. Thus Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) declared “O people, I

have the same rights and obligation as the rest of you” Therefore, he cut the

way of every intruder who wanted to exploit his position or kinship or religious

reputation. Imam Ali again stated, “It should be known that whoever is an

immigrant (Muhajir) or a supporter (from Ansar) who accompanied the Prophet (p.b.u.h.),

and think he is better than others for his companionship, then his goodness will

be rewarded by God in the Hereafter. Every person who believes in God and His

Prophet is entitled to the same rights and obligations. Money belongs to God,

which must be divided equally among people. No-one will get a greater share than

others, those pious people would get their reward in the Hereafter”.

3. Fiscal and Monetary Policy: The extravagant monetary policy of Uthman which

accumulated the wealth among his relatives and associates, had seriously

imbalanced the society. However, Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) had to take some drastic

measures against the existing unnatural imbalance in the society. Thus he warned

all people, “I shall follow the Prophet’s Tradition and execute whatever he had

commanded, hence, every gift which Uthman gave, or God’s money which he donated

will be returned to the treasury. Nothing will cancel its belonging to the

treasury even if it was married with, or distributed in the wide country.

Justice must be implemented. If someone feels hard to accept justice then

injustice is harder to accept”.

Moreover, he condemned prodigals who run after the pleasures of this life only

while disguising in religious masks. In this respect Imam Ali said, “There are

some people whom life has absorbed completely. They have built many houses, made

rivers, rode beautiful horses, and took to themselves slave women, which brought

disgrace upon them. Whenever I prevent them from indulging in bad deeds and give

them no more than their rights, they turn angry and object furiously. They say,

“Ali ibn Abi Talib has prevented us our rights”.

However these new policies irritated the Quraishite. They no longer enjoyed

their garden of Iraq and the rest of the Muslim country. Even what they have

already gained was endangered of restoration to the Muslims treasury. Therefore,

Imam All’s policies were aiming at stripping them completely of their social

privileges, financial status and authority. Quraish was not pleased with the new

regime and worked continuously to hinder the stabilization of the new authority.

Dissents and wars were launched successively shaking the whole State,

economically, socially, politically and morally. Meanwhile, the poles of Quraish

who were campaigning against Imam Ali’s rule, realized that they were fighting

Islam again. It was not Imam Ali as a person they were fighting, but it was the

ideals and policies, which he (p.b.u.h.) had advocated. Thus the Umayyads who

accepted Islam under various conditions but belief found that their

materialistic thinking cannot reconcile with Islamic values. Hence, they decided

to distort Islamic values and ideals, since opposing Islam openly was fatal, as

they had experienced previously. So Muawiya had ordered the formation of a

committee to fabricate Hadiths and distort the interpretation of Quran.

Five years had lapsed which were full of violent events. The camel’s war in

Basrah, Siffin war against Muawiya, Nahrawan war against Khawarij, and many

other campaigns, which were continuously on the move. Thus the opposition was

able to feed unrest practically in every part of the Islamic State, which shook

the authority of the new administration.

Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) was murdered at Kofah mosque, and Muawiya was given access

to rule the whole country. The circumstances in which Muawiya assumed power will

be discussed later.

Muawiya’s Reign

The following points are the main features of his rule:

1. Authority: Muawiya assumed authority by sheer force. He did not hide this

fact and put it plainly in his address at Kofah. He said, “O people of Kofah, do

you think I fought you to establish prayers or giving alms (Zakat) or perform

pilgrimage?” He continued, “I know you pray, pay alms, and perform pilgrimage.

Indeed, I fought you in order to command you with contempt, and God has given me

that against your wishes. You must be certain that whoever has killed any of us,

and then he will be killed. And the contract between us of amnesty is under

these feet of mine”.

2. Terrorism: Muawiya’s rule was terror in the whole Muslim land. This terrorism

was spread by sending many convoys in various regions of the country. It was

narrated that Muawiya summoned Sufyan ibn Auf Al-Ghamidi, one of his army

commanders, and said, “This Army is under your command, proceed along the river

Euphrates till Heet. Any resistance in the way should be crushed, and then

invade Anbar. After that penetrate deep into Madaain. O Sufyan, these invasions

will frighten the Iraqis and please those who like us. Such campaigns would

attract frightened people to our side. Kill whoever having different opinions

from ours, loot their villages and demolish their houses. Indeed, the War

against money is similar to killing but is more painful to their hearts”.

Another commander, Basar ibn Artat, was summoned and ordered to proceed towards

Hijaz and Yemen. Muawiya instructed him, “Proceed to Madina and expel its

people, Meanwhile, people in the way who are not from our camp should be

terrorized. When you enter Madina, let it appear as if you are going to kill

them. Make it appear that your aim is to exterminate them. Then pardon them.

Terrorize the people around Mecca and Madina and scatter them”.

3. Islamic Concepts and Laws: During Muawiya’s reign even basic human rights

were denied to people. No one is free to express his opinion. Spies were

employed to terrorize people, besides the army and police who spared no

opportunity to crush people and silence their voices. There are some documents,

which reveal Muawiya’s instructions to his governors. For instance, the

following letter was addressed to all judges. “Do not accept the witness of

Ali’s followers or his descendents in courts”. Another letter stated “If you

have evidence that some person likes Ali and his family, then omit his name from

the rations of Zakat”. Another letter continued, “Punish whoever is suspected to

follow Ali and bring his house down”. Such was the situation of Muawiya’s rule.

Historians who were recording these waves of terror described them as

unprecedented in history. People were so frightened that they did not mind being

called atheists, thieves, but not followers of Imam Ali.

Another facet of Muawiya’s rule was the discrimination between Arabs and

non-Arabs. It is an established fact that non-Arabs during Muawiya’s reign were

treated as third class citizens. Although they embraced Islam but still had to

pay Kharaj and Jizyah! Non-Arab soldiers in the state armies used to fight for

bare subsistence level. Once a dispute between an Arab and a non-Arab was

presented to a court. The Judge was Abdullah ibn Amir. During the procedure, the

non-Arab sadly remarked to his opponent. “May God does not multiply people of

your kind” (meaning Arabs). The Arab answered him light heartedly. “O God,

increase their population among us”(meaning non-Arabs). People who were present

asked the Arab in a state of bewilderment “How do you pray for their increase

while he prays for your decease?” The Arab answered, “Yes indeed, they clean our

streets, make shoes for our animals, and weave our clothes”.

Perhaps the most dangerous mischief, which Muawiya had embarked upon, was the

fabrication of Hadiths. When he was facing Imam Ali (p.b.u.h) as an adversary,

he found his case a hopeless one. His past was dark and shameful, while that of

Imam Ali was glorious and shining. In order to sustain his campaign and boast

his followers, Muawiya had to attract some weak character companions, and

employed them to fabricate Hadiths. Naturally, his aim was to boast his

campaign, challenge adversaries, and legalize his claim to rule. Muawiya’s order

was not to let any Hadith or incident in favor of Imam Ali but to fabricate a

similar one and attribute it to Uthman, Umar and Abu Bakr. The second phase of

this psychological warfare was to put Hadiths in Muawiya’s favor. The third

phase was to silence people and keep them calm at what he did whether in

wronging Muslims or his violation of Islamic laws.

This trend of fabrication of Hadiths, was constituting a grave danger to the

integrity of Islam. Hadith is considered as the second source of Islamic

legislation after Quran. Therefore, it was very important to divert this danger.

The exposition of this trend to the Muslims at large was very vital. This was

done by disgracing those who embarked upon this terrible mischief and nurtured

it. Thus, Imam Hussain’s revolution as I can see it.

Few samples of the fabricated Hadiths are the following. Through Abu Hurairah,

the Prophet said “God has trusted three for his revelation: myself, Jabriel and

Muawiya “. I wonder what God was doing for the revelation when Muawiya was part

of the infidel’s camp. Again, Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet had given

Muawiya an arrow and told him “Take this arrow until we meet in Paradise”. What

a lucky arrow to enter Paradise. Abdullah ibn Umar claimed that the Prophet said

“You will see greed after me, and things which you would disagree with” People

asked “O Prophet of God, then what do you order us?” The Prophet said, “Do the

governor’s right and ask God for yours”. Another fabricated Hadith said to be

narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar “Endure what you do not like of your governors,

because if you separate from the group (Jamaa) one foot and then died, you would

have died as an unbeliever”.

These fabricated Hadiths are not only principally contradicting the Quran and

other verified Hadiths but are calling Muslims to be slaves of their rulers.

This was exactly what the Ummayad’s were aiming at.

4. Appointing Yazid: Muawiya was not ruling as an individual, but was

representing a way of thinking different in nature from that of Islam. However,

he was not content to leave the ruling stage without making sure that it was

properly looked after. His pragmatic and materialistic mind drove him to prepare

the crowning of his son, Yazid. Although he made many promises that he would not

contemplate installing Yazid. The conditions at the time were not suitable

because still there were Muslims who were politically conscious and wanted to

see the restoration of Islamic laws and values. Hence, Muawiya had a difficult

job to perform before leaving this world. Indeed, he tried his best far buying

allegiance to his son of Army commanders, chiefs of tribes and distinguished

personalities. But, his efforts failed with many, and he left general

instructions of the way to deal with them.

Imam Hasan’s Policy

Wars and internal strife during five long years caused tremendous strain among

people. Imam Ali’s speeches at Kofah were manifesting this phenomenon clearly;

People were tired of wars, because they were worn out economically. The murder

of Imam Ali was disastrous in the political sense. Imam Ali and Muawiya

symbolized the apparent dispute between the two parties. The murder of Imam Ali

(p.b.u.h.) gave Muawiya a stronger hand in the political field, since his

opponent had disappeared from the stage.

Although Imam Hasan assumed power after his father, his authority was not

established. Thus, some Iraqi tribes defected to Muawiya’s camp when the latter

promised them high donations and animated their hopes of success and good

reward. However the scene in Kofah was hopeless, the majority of people were

longing for peace. They did not realize at the time the price of peace they were

wishing. Nevertheless the political scene required nothing but wise manipulation

and patience. The Iraqis and the rest of the Muslim World seemed to be in need

of direct experience with the Umayyad rule. Imam Hasan (p.b.u.h.) gave them this

chance in order to polarize them permanently against the Umayyads. Besides, in

such conditions, the most daring, Islamically conscious would get killed. Imam

Hasan wanted to spare such people from being killed and utilize them for a

greater task.

The task, which the purity of Islam depended upon, and the existence of Islamic

ideals and practices in the society. Those people were entrusted with the

propagation of Islamic concepts, unveiling the un-Islamic character of the

Umayyads and expose their deviation to the society.

Thus Imam Hasan’s answer to Hijr ibn Uday Al-Kindi came “I found people wishing

to reconcile and disliked war. I did not want to go through something, which

they disliked. I reconciled especially for the sake of our followers to be

spared from being killed. However, I have only postponed the war, and God has a

surprise every day”.

It is noteworthy that Imam Hasan’s move was politically sound. He actually

scored many points against Muawiya in that incident. First, he showed his keen

concern for Muslim’s lives and well being. Secondly, he displayed his integrity

and disinterest in power if that meant an aim as such. Thirdly, he respected the

contract while Muawiya broke it as soon as it was signed. Fourthly, the very

conduct of Muawiya’s ruling and his clique exposed the seriousness of his danger

and put people in continuous struggle against his power. Thus, Muawiya’s

religious mask was stripped off, and at least, responsible people had no doubt

about his real character. Therefore the danger of his deeds was partly


Yazid’s Claim

Muawiya was busy preparing the instalment of Yazid as his heir in ruling the

Muslim world. In writing to Imam Hussain he found no pleasant answer to his

demands. Thus, Muawiya reminded his son to beware of Imam Hussain. Yazid took

his father’s advice and promptly wrote to his governor at Madina, Al-Waleed ibn

Atabah to secure recognition from Imam Hussain. But Al-Waleed’s efforts were in

vain. Imam Hussain’s reply was definite and direct. He said “We the family of

the Prophet, the essence of the message and the visiting place of angles . . .

While Yazid is a corrupt, drunkard, murderer and fostering his sins. A person

like me cannot obey a person like him”.

His father arranged Yazid’s ascent to power. Thus all the power at his disposal

was transferred to Yazid. And the latter used every means to obtain submission

for his unholy policies of oppression and aggression. Therefore, Yazid had no

legal right whatsoever in his claims and demands. On the contrary, he was

responsible for many illegal deeds, which demand scorn and required punishment.

The Revolution’s Motives

The motives for revolution were numerous. Some were direct grievances of the

general people while others were ideological. The following were the most


1. There were many defects and drawbacks but the most urgent one was the attempt

to distort Islamic concepts and ideals. This aspect was of extreme importance

and preoccupied the minds of responsible Muslims at the time. The fabrication of

Hadith was all too common, which had a poisonous effect on the lives of Muslims.

This, was giving the Umayyads for a while a free hand to carry out their inhuman

deeds and policies. The mask of religion, which they used to hide their

un-Islamic conduct, was extremely dangerous. In the long run, this could have

changed Islamic concepts of ruling and inverted social ideals. Thus, stripping

off this mask and exposing the true Umayyad’s picture was of utmost necessity.

2. The State’s structure was built on an un-Islamic basis. Quraish was born to

rule, Arabs were second-class citizens, and non-Arabs constituted the base of

the society’s pyramid. That was the general social picture of the Muslim world

under the Umayyads dynasty. Freedom of thought and expression were denied, when

one dared to express an opinion contrary to that of the Umayyad’s, prison became

his home, his property was robbed, and even his life was at stake.

3. The Umayyads considered the Muslim world to be their own property. The alms (Zakat)

and other Islamic dues were collected, but no one knows or can question where

that money went. Large gifts and donations were given to few cruel governors and

tribal chiefs in order to secure their allegiance. Large sums of money were

wastefully spent on racing, gambling, winemaking, and buying slave women to

entertain high-class people in power. Hence, the majority of Muslims were left

near starvation level while the ruling group all enjoyed the social and material


4. The Muslims had apparently got used to the un-Islamic rule of the Umayyads as

time passed by. Their resistance slackened and some people began adjusting

themselves to the new conditions. Hence, the revolutionary spirit of Islam began

to disappear gradually from Muslim’s lives and thoughts. Therefore, a new

stimulant to their souls was necessary to activate their lives and try to

restore, Islamic conduct to the society.

The Revolution’s Procedure

Imam Hussain made no doubt of his intentions to fight the regime of the Umayyads.

The speeches he delivered at Mecca were consistent. Besides, the will which he

entrusted to his brother Mohammad ibn Al-Hanafia who remained at Madina. That

will, in fact, was a formal declaration of the revolution. He (p.b.u.h.). Wrote,

“I am not campaigning for unwillingness to accept righteousness, or having

intent to do mischief and suppress people. Indeed, I have decided to reform my

grandfather’s nation. I want to enjoin what is right and forbid dishonor. People

who accept my call for being right, and then God is the Master of righteous

people. Those who reject my call, and then I shall be steadfast till God passes

His Judgment. Indeed, God is the best Judge”.

During his travels to Karbala, he never ceased calling people to strive for the

Islamic ideals of social justice and government, and to wage war against

deviation from Islamic conduct. In his speech (p.b.u.h.) at Karbala, he quoted

the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saying “He who sees a cruel governor violating Gods law,

breaking his covenant, acting in contrast to the Tradition of the Prophet,

mischievous and suppressing people, then he does not try to change that ruler by

action or speech; indeed God has promised with an appropriate place in Hell”. “O

people those Umayyads have pledged allegiance to the Devil and left God’s

obedience. They have spread corruption, suspended the application of Islamic

laws, and taken to themselves Muslim’s wealth. Besides forbidding what is

permitted and allowing what is forbidden.”

Imam Hussain’s speeches were aiming directly at stripping the religious mask of

the Umayyad’s regime. He was, introducing himself to people and explaining his

message to the nation. Indeed, the personality of Imam Hussain and his religious

reputation was beyond question or doubt. Therefore, no wonder of carrying such a

great task while many distinguished people were not ready to raise a finger.

Any objective study of this great revolution will show that something unique

about its procedure and results. The leader predicts his own death before even

setting a foot in the march! But, he goes on carrying out all necessary

preparations for his campaign. Imam Hussain’s address to the people at Mecca was

this: “O people, as if my body be cut to pieces by spears and wolves between Al-Nawawees

and Karbala. … There is no question of the day, which was already written.

God’s satisfaction is our aim, we the family of the Prophet”.

The way Imam Hussain and his Companions fought was a glorious record of bravery

and nobility. They were only seventy fighting men against thousands of the

Umayyad’s Army. Even with this imbalance of fighting power, the Umayyad’s Army

used the most vicious and ignoble methods in fighting this tiny camp. The

Umayyad’s Army went to the extent of preventing them drinking water and kept

them for three days tortured in the burning heat of the desert. But, the firm

faith of Imam Hussain and his followers in their cause was never shaken. Thus

they set an ever-shining torch of Jihad against deviation from Islamic conduct

and smashed the myth of the Umayyads of keeping allegiance to deviated regimes.

The Revolution’s Results

What had Imam Hussain’s revolution meant in history? Some people, who are not

familiar with its motives, innocently inquire about its results. Others have

even questioned its wisdom that striking at a mighty force like the Umayyad’s

was fatal. Although the revolution’s motives were already discussed, but a brief

review of the changes in the Muslim World after Imam Hussain’s revolution is

appropriate at this stage.

1. Murdering Imam Hussain (p.b.u.h.) the grandson of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was

a great shock to the whole Muslim world. This is not to mention the way he was

murdered or the treatment given to his family who had the highest esteem and

respect of all Muslims. Consequently, all Muslims dissociated themselves from

the Umayyad’s deeds and policies. Indeed, who want to share in the certain curse

upon those who murdered the family of the Prophet? Thus, this revolution had

done the task of unveiling the Umayyad’s un-Islamic character to the general

public and left no doubt in any person’s heart about the Umayyad’s substance.

Therefore, the concepts, which the Umayyad’s were propagating in order to

distort the ideals of Islam, found no listening ear any longer. Hence, diverting

the Umayyad’s mischief of changing Islamic concepts and ideals.

2. Imam Hussain’s revolution set a lively example as to the duty of Muslims in

such conditions. It had deeply penetrated people’s hearts, and produced great

pains for not doing their Islamic duty. This feeling, which pained people all

the time transformed into repentance and then to an open revolt against the

Umayyad’s regime. Thus, the revolution provided the stimulant to move their

spirit and set it in a dynamic movement. Indeed, the Islamic movement was put to

a new gear throughout the rest of the Islamic history. A series of revolutions

manifesting Imam Hussain’s revolutionary spirit and reforms emerged at

successive intervals. Tawabeen’s revolution took place immediately after

Karbala’s tragedy.

Another revolution at Madina was aiming at doing away with the Umayyads deviated

regime. Al-Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi filed another revolution, which stormed the

Umayyad’s regime in Iraq. He was able to punish all principal collaborators in

the campaign against Imam Hussain in Iraq. Mitraf ibn AI-Mughira’s revolution

against Hajjaj and Abdul Malik was another result. However, there were a chain

of revolutions in all parts of the Muslim world which eventually had done away

with the Umayyad’s regime. Imam Hussain’s revolution was the principal slogan of

the revolutionaries against the Umayyad’s.

The Abasides came and soon their conduct was exposed as not that which the

family of the Prophet were advocating. They realized that the revolution results

were stolen and before they could do anything, the main personalities, which

carried the revolt through, were treacherously eliminated by murder, poison and


The attempts to restore Islamic conduct were never ceased throughout Islamic

history. Bitter experiences and intermittent material failures are natural

results of struggle. Most important is the triumph of the Islamic spirit against

intimidation and attempts to obscure its shining face and glory. A ceaseless

revolution in Muslim lives is a reality, which the enemies of Islam failed to

extinguish. The secret key of this blessed revolution lies in the firm faith in

God. The unshakable conviction, which puts material supremacy and gain in an

inferior position to God’s satisfaction. Imam Hussain demonstrated these ideals

when the Muslims were in need of such an example most.

The revolution of Imam Hussain was not solely for changing a government. If it

was so, then it would be wrong to call it a revolution. Imam Hussain was

advocating a drastic change in the social set up, the economic and political

structures, and refining Islamic concepts from foreign ideas, which had crept

into Muslim’s minds and thoughts. In other words, Imam Hussain wanted to change

the life of Muslims to be in conformity with Islamic laws and ideals. Indeed,

this explains one main reason for why Imam Hussain was let down by the tribes of

Kofa after being promised support, and his call was ignored by the rest of the

Muslim world. Hence, a revolution means a drastic change in one’s life or the

collective life when applied to a large scale.

Source: Al-Hassanain Network

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