SHAFAQNA – It is often that Muslims have argued Yazid’s claim to the caliphate, implying blame on the person of Imam Hussain … It is likely such attempt to redact History, and deny AhlulBayt’s legitimate claim on the Islamic community stems from a desire to absolve oneself of blame.
Allow me to put the matter differently – Why is it that groups of Muslims find it easier to side against the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad, while they cry outrage if any criticism comes to the companions?
Why is it that they feel distance in between the House and Islam when the prophet himself held his kin closest of all? If we in fact ambition to follow in the tradition of the prophet, then we have to assume that whatever actions he committed during his lifetime were all an expression of faith, and should as such be emulated, repeated and remembered. If it is love, respect, and compassion the prophet felt towards his house, why should we act any differently?
Is it not contrary to the tradition of the prophet but to deny those he loved, and those he raised among others so that, we, his ummah, his people, could follow in guidance?
If Yazid was a heretic in that he broke away from the Sunna of the prophet by raising his sword against AhlulBayt, how many since have carried his tradition by denying the truth of Ashura?
Who was Yazid but the forefather of a long line of bigot tyrant … the world has known many since him, and there will be many before we draw our last. It is how we stand against tyranny which will define our quality and decide our camp.
Will be of those who answer their Imam when most have deserted him, or will we be of those who betray and turn away?
Do not think for a second that Victory was not with our Imam on the 10th Day, do not think he was alone when his soul left his chest. Was it not his father, the first Imam of Islam and Custodian of the Word who said: “Our dead are alive.”
There are victories which are not of this world and which cannot be measured in gold or honour. There are such men too, who belong not here but to God for their station is much too lofty.
It is infamy Yazid bought himself when he spilled the blood of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad … it is our very breath which will remain with Imam Hussain, and forever cry his name. Who will care for the wicked and the treacherous?
When Yazid succeeded to his father, the governors of Medina, Mecca, Kufa and Basra were Walid ibn Utba ibn Abu Sufyan, Amr ibn Sa’id, Nuaman ibn Bashir and Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad respectively.
To secure his caliphate – which caliphate should have returned to Imam Hussain according to the treaty Mu’awiyah obtained from Imam Hassan – Yazid decided to coerce several personalities into pledging allegiance to his rule, before announcing the death of his father. The ruse was as crude as it was motivated by greed and arrogance.
Keen to bend all Muslims to his will Yazid decided to first obtain allegiance from Imam Hussain, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Umar, who had not acknowledged him heir-apparent during Mu’awiyah’s reign.
Yazid wrote a letter to Walid ibn Utba, the governor of Medina, informing him of his plan. He warned that all three dignitaries would have to absolutely pledge, and that no excuses would be tolerated.
To accomplish this task Walid then called Marwan ibn Hakam for consultation, ignoring their previous strained relations. Marwan said: “Summon them immediately, and ask them to take the oath of allegiance to Yazid. If they agree to take the oath well and good otherwise execute them before they come to know about the death of Mu’awiyah, because, if they learn about his death, each one of them will become a claimant for caliphate and refuse to obey, excepting Abdullah bin Umar, who need not be feared, because he is not the type of man, who may rise or oppose”.
Walid sent Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Uthman to Imam Hussain and Abdullah ibn Zubayr. He found both of them in the mosque and conveyed to them Walid’s message. They said to him: “You may go back and we too shall meet Walid soon” Then the Imam said to Abdullah: “I think Mu’awiyah is dead and the object of this untimely call is that we should take the oath of allegiance to Yazid”.
Imam Hussain then summoned a group of his men and told them to arm themselves. He warned: “Walid has called me just now, and I think that he will propose something which I may not accept. In that event I cannot trust him. You should, therefore, come with me and when I enter his house you should stay at the door and as soon as you hear me speaking aloud enter the house to prevent him from doing me any harm “.
The Imam went to meet Walid and saw that Marwan was also there. Walid informed him of the death of Mu’awiyah and also conveyed to him Yazid’s demand of allegiance. The Imam said: “I will certainly not be contented with my taking the oath secretly and would like that I should take it in the presence of the people”. Walid replied: “Yes”.
Thereupon the Imam said: “Then you should wait till tomorrow so that I may arrive at a decision in the matter”. Walid said: “All right. You may go now and come tomorrow along with the people to take the oath of allegiance”.
Marwan said: “I swear by Allah that if Hussain ibn Ali leaves this place without taking the oath of allegiance it will no longer be possible for you to lay hands on him without bloodshed. You should, therefore, detain him till he takes the oath and in the event of his refusing to do so, you should chop off his head. On hearing the words of Marwan the Imam got up from his place and said: “Is it you, who will kill me or Walid? By Allah you have told a lie and become a sinner”.
Then he departed and reached his house along with his men. Marwan said to Walid: “Now that you have not accepted my advice I swear by Allah that you will not be able to lay your hands on him again”. Walid said: “Marwan! What are you saying? You have suggested to me something that must spoil my faith. By Allah, even if the entire wealth of the world is placed at my disposal I will never kill Hussain ibn Ali. Should I kill him if he declines to take the oath of allegiance to Yazid? By Allah I believe that whoever sheds the blood of Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet, shall be very unlucky and helpless before Allah on the Day of Judgment”. Marwan who did not like Walid’s words said to him: “It is all right if you think so”.
On the following day which was Saturday the 28th of Rajab 60 A.H. Walid sent for the Imam again so that he might take the oath of allegiance from him. The Imam, however, told his messenger to tell him to wait for that night, so that he might take a decision by the following day. During the same night Imam Hussain left Medina along with his wives, brothers and nephews and most of the members of his family, and proceeded on his journey to Mecca, remembering the words of Prophet Musa, son of Imram:
“So he left the city afraid and cautious saying: Lord! Protect me against the unjust people.” (Surah al-Qasas, 28:21)
When it was said to Imam Hussain that it would have been better if he had adopted a deviated path so that the enemies might not have been able to lay hands on him he replied: “By Allah I shall not go by a deviated path. Let that which Allah wills happen”. Eventually he arrived in Mecca on Friday night after the 3rd of Shaban. Remembering the story of Prophet Musa, he said:
“When he started his journey to Midian he said, “Perhaps my Lord will show me the right path ‘.” (Surah al-Qasas, 28:22)
The pilgrims used to visit the Imam in Mecca. While in Mecca Imam Hussain benefited from a privilege position. There where his grand-father and father’s voices echoed loudest, none would have dared raise a hand or even deny AhlulBayt.
News of the death of Mu’awiyah began to spread throughout Iraq … so did news of Imam Hussain and Abdullah bin Zubayr’s refusal of Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah.
Imam Hussain’s supporters gathered in Iraq … there Sulayman ibn Surd addressed the assembly, warning of pending perils. He noted: “Mu’awiyah has departed from the world and Hussain ibn Ali has declined his allegiance to Yazid, and has gone to Mecca. You are the supporters of Hussain as well as of his father Ali. If you think that you are ready to assist him and to fight against his enemy and can lay down your lives for his sake, you should inform him of your readiness through a letter. In case, however, you are scared that you will show slackness and will abstain from rendering him assistance, you should not deceive him by claiming unduly to be his supporters and devotees”.
Sulayman ibn Surd understood how fickle people could be should they come to feel fear, or pending demise. As it happens his fears were well-founded … It is one thing to pledge loyalty, it is another to fulfil one’s pledge of loyalty.
Sulayman went on: “Even now you should judge the result in your minds and visualize the situation which is bound to arise and then decide whether you can make him hopeful of your assistance and invite him to Iraq with perfect confidence and final determination.
It should not be that today, when your sentiments are roused, you should be writing letters, making covenants and taking oaths and pull the son of the Prophet of Allah from Allah’s sanctuary to Iraq, but tomorrow when the enemy surrounds him and compels him either to take the oath of allegiance or lose his head you should desert him and forget the promises made by you”.
The distinguished supporters replied with one voice: “We are prepared to perform jihad and make sacrifices and shall lay down our lives for the sake of our Imam”. Thereupon Sulayman said: “In that case you should write a letter to the Imam”.
They, therefore, wrote a letter/It read:“In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
This letter is being written by Sulayman ibn Surd, Musayyab ibn Najbah, Rafa ibn Shaddad Bajali, Habib ibn Mazahir and other Muslims and faithful supporters of Husain bin Ali residing in Kufa. They write to Hussain ibn Ali: Peace be upon you. We join you in praising the Almighty Allah except whom there is no god. Praised be Allah Who has destroyed your oppressive and spiteful enemy, the man who prevailed over this nation, assumed unlawfully the reins of government, usurped the public treasury and became the ruler of the Muslims without their consent. He then killed the pious persons and spared the bad ones and placed the property of Allah at the disposal of the oppressors and the rich. May Allah deprive him of His blessings as He deprived the people of Thamud.
At present we, the Iraqis, do not have any leader and Imam. Hence, we request you to proceed to us. Maybe the Almighty Allah may draw us together on truth through you. We have nothing to do with Nau’man ibn Bashir in the matter of Friday and Eid prayers. He is alone in the governor’s House. If we come to know that you have left to join us we shall turn him out and shall, God willing, pursue him up to Syria”.
They sent this letter through Abdullah ibn Suba Hamdani and Abdullah ibn Wal and instructed them to leave for Mecca immediately. They reached the Imam in Mecca on the l0th of Ramadan, 60 A.H. and delivered the letter to him.
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna