Since the last 10 years, Maulana Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi is involved in religious propagation in East Africa. In that region writing in Urdu is of no avail. Due to this the respected Maulana has devoted all his attention to writing in English and Swahili languages. The English bi-monthly, “Light” and Swahili bi-monthly “Sauti ya Bilal” have been published without a break since the last 10 years and the Maulana has written hardly anything in Urdu. The present article was also published in September 1966 issue of the Light Magazine.
The relationship between religion and rulership is very delicate. Until the time rulers are content to follow the religion, it is all right. But when their aspirations exceed the limits and they aspire to also control religion and keep it under their subjugation, it is the beginning of strife and destruction. This is the time when the Genghis Khan gets the sword of religion in his hand. In such an event, it is only religion that has to bear the loss. For example the acceptance of Christian religion by Emperor Constantine was more harmful to Christianity than open opposition of the previous irreligious kings.
Islam did not remain heedless of this peril and it had provided the cure right from the beginning. No Muslim had the right to make any kind of changes or distortions in the Islamic law. In an Islamic government there is nothing as “Law-making committee.” The Almighty Allah, alone is the supreme authority and the sole lawmaker, Whose laws have been conveyed to us through Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). These laws are final and complete. They have solution of every imaginable problem and every possible condition. And if some problem requires elucidation or interpretation only those appointed for this by the Almighty are eligible to discharge this duty. These are the holy Imams, specified by Allah Almighty. They are infallible and they have been appointed by Allah through His Prophet.
Because Islam continued to give a disciplined way of life and progressed during the lifetime of the Prophet and because all the departments of this Islamic state functioned under the divine guidance of the Holy Prophet, it was suitable, rather utmost necessary that after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) the reins of the kingdom should remain in the hands of those impeccable Imams who were the divine representatives after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), and who were appointed by Almighty Allah. This method would have saved Islam from distortion and would have established it on a firm foundation forever.
In this way Islam would have remained free from the claws of materialist proud rulers and it would have remained pure of the emotional ups and downs of the kings and Emirs and their unwarranted zeal and nuances.
This was the reason that the Holy Messenger declared, on the basis of the specific directions of the Almighty, that after him there would be twelve Imams, and he also informed that, “Of whosoever I am the master, this ‘Ali is also his master.” This step was taken so that Islamic Shariah may not be sacrificed at the altar of political intrigues.
However, some people, whose aspirations did not discriminate lawfulness and illegality, did not like this, and they deemed it such that rulership should not remain in the hands of ‘Ali and his successors. In this way Islam was forever deprived of the security that was bestowed upon it by Allah.
As a result Islam became a target of all those ills that had befallen the previous religions.
It is very painful to write on this subject. However, if we are able to survey the past without any bias and bigotry it would be a very firm step for benefit of our future guidance. I have heard people expressing astonishment that how could a person like Yazid acquire the rulership of Islamic dominions? What created a favorable atmosphere for such an eventuality? Nothing in this world happens without a cause.
Those who were flowing in the current of the events may not have realized the importance of each and every incident, but when we consider those events today we can place each and every incident in a proper perspective. And our judgment would be more correct than the judgment of those who had practically acted in that drama.
The root cause of every calamity of the early history of Islam as we have stated above, was that Islam was deprived of the guidance of ‘Ali and the Imams after him. This in itself was a great calamity. In addition to this those caliphs who occupied the seat of rulership derived full benefit of their temporal authority and they imposed the view on the public that religious leadership is subservient to temporal authority.
And whosoever succeeds in acquiring temporal authority (in whichever way) he would be considered a lawful caliph and religious guide. He also (as history witnessed) had the power to make changes and abrogations in the Islamic Shariah. Due to this wrong notion people considered every act of the rulers as the criterion of religion. As a result of which there began decadence in following the Islamic law and Shariat.
This decadence began soon after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Those who got the political power did not waste a moment in making it absolute and permanent. Therefore naturally the laws of economy and justice were modified in such a way that they should serve the purpose.
The method of equal distribution of Sadaqah,1 Zakat2 and war booty was given up and a fixed amount as pension was awarded to the companions of the Prophet. This pension varied from two Dinars to a thousand Dinars. In this way, tongues were sealed of those who could have supported the opposition group.3
On the other hand, steps were taken to weaken the economic condition of those from whom there was chance of danger. That is why clear disobedience was committed of the Islamic laws of inheritance and gifts in the case of Fatima Zahra, who was the daughter of the Holy Prophet and wife of ‘Ali.
The land of Fadak gifted by the Holy Prophet to his daughter was confiscated illegally. The first caliph claimed thus while Fadak was in the possession of Fatima. Thus the first caliph was a plaintiff. According to universal law the burden of proof was on the caliph and not on Fatima. Instead Fatima was asked to provide witnesses to prove her right. She presented witnesses but they rejected them on the pretext that they had personal interest in the property.
The caliph presented a solitary tradition, which was against the clear commandments of Qur’an and whose veracity could not be established by any companion at that time. In spite of this the verdict was based on this tradition. Also since in this case the caliph was himself the plaintiff, legally and ethically he was not eligible to hear the case. But he did preside over the case. He delivered a verdict and declared that his claim was valid. In this way, through this extraordinary case, a new form was given to the Islamic Shariah and the rule of justice.4
Here it would not be out of place to mention that during that same period a companion of the Prophet, Jabir Ibn Abdullah claimed that the Messenger of God had promised him some things. This claim of his was accepted without calling for proof and witnesses. Due to this policy, Fatima and her family members were even deprived of her personal heritage while those supported by the government managed to pile up huge wealth and properties.7
A few examples of such machinations will suffice here:
When Abdur Rahman bin Auf (who was favored by all the first three caliphs) died, he left besides other things, four widows. Every widow was entitled to receive 1/32 of the inheritance according to the Shariah. One of them was also in the waiting period (Iddah) of a revocable divorce. That is why she was compelled to accept less than what was her legal right. (This is another example of subverting the Islamic law). Thus she received less than 1/32 part. In spite of this she was given a hundred thousand in cash.
Talha bin Ubaidullah (another favored one of the government) had a fixed income of 2000 Dinars besides other incomes. When he died he left behind 2200000 Dirhams and 2000000 Dinars in cash. Apart from this he had unspecified property worth millions.
At the time of his death, Zubair bin Awwam left 50000 Dinars, 1000 horses and hundreds of bonded servants.8
The Islamic emphasis against hoarding of wealth was disregarded. A new society was brought into shape in the Islamic world, which was exactly opposed to Islam in nature and character. However, the people considered it to be in consonance with Islam only because it was established by those who were considered to be the interpreters of Islam.
The most harmful feature for Islam was the resurgence of the Umayyads and their return to a position of power. They were the same Umayyads who were sworn enemies of Islam. This also materialized under the patronage of the caliphs. During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah, the Umayyads waged battle after battle against Islam, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan.
At last their power was destroyed in 8 A.H. when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) conquered Mecca without any bloodshed or armed conflict. Now, since no other option remained, they changed their tactics. That is, now they donned the garb of Islam. However, Islam never reached their hearts and the blood of infidelity continued to flow in their veins. The Holy Qur’an has referred to them at least on six occasions, and in every place they are denounced in the most humiliating manner. In the view of Qur’an, these people are “the accursed tree or family.”9
Here it is worth quoting a tradition of Abdur Rahman bin Auf. He inquired from the second caliph regarding the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
“Fight for Allah as is worthy of fighting.”
The second caliph replied, “It shall be applicable to the time when the Banu Umayyah shall be the rulers and the Bani Mughaira shall be their ministers. At that time it would be the duty of Muslims to fight against them with all their might.”10
How astonishing was the miracle of human psychology! Who could believe that the same caliph who knew that it would be the duty of every Muslim to perform Jihad for the sake of Allah against the Banu Umayyah, should himself appoint them to the governorship of Syria (Shaam)? And that he should fashion the plot of the drama of Shura in such a way that an Umayyad becomes the absolute ruler of Muslims in the form of the third caliph! More surprising than this is that it is the same Abdur Rahman bin Auf who played a very important role in the appointment of the third caliph.
The Bani Umayyads remained absolutely silent in the last period of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). However, after the passing away of the Messenger they got an opportunity to flex their muscles. Abu Sufyan first of all, called upon His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), but he refused to have any sort of cooperation from this well-known foe of Islam. After that Abu Sufyan went to the first caliph. If he had also rebuffed the offer of Abu Sufyan like ‘Ali (a.s) there would not have been any problem. But under the advice of the second caliph, he was given the offer of Syria. At that time Abu Sufyan had already reached old age, so his son Yazid was sent with an army to Syria and after the conquest of Syria he was appointed as the governor of the province.
Then after the demise of Yazid, his brother, Muawiyah succeeded to the governorship of Syria.11
How strange are the changing circumstances in politics! Who could have anticipated that the same Bani Umayyads who during the lifetime of the Messenger had continued to use all their power for the destruction of Islam should one day become the absolute authority of the Islamic kingdom? They could not harm Islam in any way when they resorted to open enmity against it.
However, through internal conspiracy they nearly destroyed Islam. After the second caliph, Uthman became the third caliph. When people gave allegiance at the hands of Uthman, Abu Sufyan came to him and gave the following advice, “O sons of Umayyah! Now that you have obtained this kingdom, play with it like a child plays with a ball. And pass it among your family from one to another. Because this kingdom is a reality. As for Paradise and Hell, we don’t know whether they exist or not.”12
We do not know the response of the caliph to this statement but History indeed witnesses that this advice was put into effect in the best way possible.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had banished Hakam bin Aas and his son, Marwan from Medina. He was the uncle of the third caliph and Marwan was his son-in-law. Therefore he ignored the command of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Not only did he recall Marwan to Medina but also appointed him as his absolute vizier. Not only the Khums money of Africa (which amounted to millions) was entrusted to him, but Fadak was also gifted to him. (We have already mentioned Khums and Fadak in the foregone pages).13
Abdullah bin Abi Sarh was a relative of the caliph. On the day of the conquest of Mecca the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had issued orders that he must be put to death even if he is found in the Holy Ka’ba. However, despite this fact, Uthman sheltered him in his house and obtained pardon for him after much petitioning. In the reign of Uthman, such a person was appointed as the governor of Egypt.14
Walid bin Uqbah was a cousin of the caliph. The Holy Qur’an refers to him as ‘transgressor’.15
He was a drunkard and a man of very bad character. But he was appointed as the governor of Kufa. One day he came to the Mosque intoxicated and began to lead the Morning Prayer. Instead of the prescribed two units he recited four. Then on top of that he turned to the people and asked, “If you like I can make you recite some more units.”16
Not only the above three persons, everyone connected with the Banu Umayyah obtained an influential post.17 These people utilized their power and position to weaken the Islamic society, to distort the Islamic ethics, to dishonor the principles and laws of Islam, to ridicule the worship acts and in other words to destroy each and everything related to Islam.
Within a period of less than 25 years after the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w), the standard of Islamic leadership became the lowest in the long history of the religions of the world. Generally, the Muslims instead of being the slaves of the Almighty became the servants of gold and silver (riches and wealth). The third caliph was murdered not because he was making the Bani Umayyads richer and richer and in this process distorting the principles of equitable distribution of wealth in Islam.
And also not because he was making his kinsmen masters of the Muslim people, while in the view of the Qur’an they were from the accursed (family) tree. Rather it was due to the fact that all this was not liked by other great people of the Islamic world whom the caliph had ignored. They were of the view that they should also be accorded the opportunity to amass wealth. They would not have opposed the Bani Umayyads if they had also been allowed some share in that wealth.
His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) always endeavored to make the people realize what a terrible mistake they had committed by accepting others as their religious leaders. This mode of action was not for any selfish gain but for the sake of Islam which by being usurped by incapable characters was being necessarily becoming distorted. When after the second caliph, ‘Ali (a.s) was offered the post of caliphate subject to the condition that he would continue the practice of the former caliphs, he rejected the offer immediately. Because accepting this condition would have implied his approval to the illegal caliphates of the former caliphs.
After the third caliph when people petitioned him to accept the caliphate he agreed only with the condition that he would re-establish the Islam of the Prophet’s time. He thought that he would have the opportunity to purify Islam from the innovations that had crept into it and distorted the pristine principles of faith.18
However the justice and equity of His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) tasted bitter to the transformed Muslim leaders. They had become accustomed to preferential treatment. And they disliked that anybody should change the unjust system. If it were not true, what was the reason that Talha, Zubair and Ayesha raised the banner of revolt against His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s)? While during his brief reign he only tried to establish the system that existed in the Prophet’s lifetime.
The view of the Muslims regarding the social principle had undergone such a change that they could not bear these corrective measures that he, ‘Ali (a.s) had taken to reestablish them.19
Battle after battle was waged against him. And ultimately he was martyred in the Kufa mosque while he was praying. And in this way the Muslims lost the sole opportunity through which their society could have been reestablished on the ethical, social and economical justice of the Islamic principles.
Imam Hasan (a.s) (who was the divine representative after the martyrdom of his respected father), realized that the ailment of the Muslims has reached such a stage that no hope of cure remained. Dishonesty had become their faith, treason was their loyalty, and wealth their sole beloved and selfish gain their only aim. Now it was almost impossible that a divine government could be established among them.
Now the most important question before Imam Hasan (a.s) was how Islamic principles could be safeguarded? The former rulers had changed the faith in the superior authority of the Prophet into faith in the supreme authority of the rulers. They had gained from this wrong belief and departed from the world, but they left behind Islam fraught with utter confusion and perplexity. To allow this wrong notion to continue was the greatest danger to Islam. Now, when it was no more possible to establish a divine government, the only option was to tell the people that worldly rulership and religious leadership were not same but different things. And that the responsibility of the defense of religion and its leadership is entrusted by Allah. It is not rulership, that is bestowed by people. The aim was that people should realize that religion is not tied to a crown and throne (kingship).
After His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), only Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s) could perform this function. They were having innumerable merits, not from the people and army but from the Almighty Allah. According to the statement of the Holy Qur’an, both of them were sons of the Messenger. Love and affection towards them was obligatory on the Muslims. They were purified of all defects and no error was possible from them. They were the chiefs of the youths of Paradise. Their obedience was incumbent upon the people because they were Imams, whether they be sitting or standing; that is whether they make peace or war.
The gist of the matter is that their authority was absolute in every circumstance, because their Imamate was not based on political power. Therefore, depending on the exigency they could reject rulership and also oppose the rulership of that time.
That is why the beloved sons of ‘Ali and Fatima (a.s), with the absolute authority bestowed on them by Allah and the Messenger, chose such a way that the religion was forever emancipated from the terrible clutches of the despotic rulers. Firstly, Imam Hasan (a.s) abandoned political power and showed that his religious position and post was not needful of and dependent on temporal rulership.
The greatest benefit of this step of Imam Hasan (a.s) was that the point of view of the Muslim community regarding the connection between rulership and religious rulership began to undergo a change, as would become clear later on. Muawiyah tried his best to change many principles of Islam but he failed in his endeavor. If the same changes and innovations had taken place during the time of the first three caliphs, the Muslim community would have accepted them as they accepted some other innovations.
However, now Imam Hasan (a.s) had entered the picture. And this wrong notion was destroyed that religion is the handiwork of rulership. That is why Muawiyah could not succeed much. Rather, today there are even some Sunni people who are not prepared to accept him as a caliph.
Now we should turn our attention towards Damascus. It was the time when Muawiyah was the accepted ruler of the Muslim populace. Not through selection or nomination but through force and armed conflict. We have already seen the atmosphere preceding it that every un-Islamic imagination or method was accepted as a part of Islam. The only condition was that the ruler in power must present it.
Muawiyah tried by all means to take advantage of this view. The power of money reached to the zenith. Poison, sword and gold were made use of to the optimum level to achieve the unjust aims of the tyrannical rulers. It became very common to kill the opponents, to martyr the opposite party by poison and treason, to imprison those whose loyalty was doubtful and to burn down their houses and property. Imam Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (a.s) was martyred through poison. Hujr bin Adi and his companions were accorded security in the name of God but martyred in the most cruel manner. Malik Ibn Ashtar was martyred through poison.
Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr (son of the first caliph) was put inside a donkey’s skin and burnt to death. Ayesha (daughter of the first caliph and the wife of the Prophet) was killed by being pushed into a trench, which was later filled up with lime and she was left to perish in that hole. Khalid bin Walid’s (whom the Sunnis call the sword of Allah) son, was killed by poison. Amr bin Hamaq, the respectable companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was killed in an atrocious manner.
We have already discussed the beliefs of Abu Sufyan, and Muawiyah was not better than his father.
It is worth narrating the report of the trusted governor of Muawiyah here. Once he was having a conversation with Muawiyah. During the talk, Muawiyah said, “Why should I do good to the people? Even if I do good how can I hope that I would be remembered with a good name? See, a person from Bani Teem (that is the first caliph) ruled over the people, and did many great things for them. But when he died his name also died with him.
Today people refer to him only as “Abu Bakr” and that’s all. After that came a person from Bani Adi (that is the second caliph) and he ruled with absolute authority for ten years. But his name also ended with him. And now people refer to him most of the time as “Umar”, and that’s all. But look at Ibn Abi Kabasha.20 His name is called out five times every day and the Muezzin21 screams from every mosque, “I witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Now after his success what else remains to be done and what good deed could be remembered?
Except for this open insult of the Messenger and Azan what else could be expected from an offspring of Abu Sufyan? In addition to political intrigue, misappropriation of trusts, dishonesty, barbarity and murder, he also tried to change the method of worship.
Examples of innovations are also found in the previous regimes. Caliph number two added: “As-Salaato Khairum min an-Nawm”22 in the Morning Azan.23 He also removed “Hayya Alaa Khairil Amal”24 from the Azan. He started conducting Tarawih prayers in congregation. Caliph number three added one more Azan before the Friday Prayer. And he also started the custom of sermon before the Eid Prayers.
He initiated the ritual of performing full prayer while on a journey though it was an established practice to recite two units instead of four during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). But Muawiyah went most ahead of his predecessors. He omitted the recitation of Bismillah (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.) from the chapters of Qur’an recited in the ritual prayers. Similar was the case with the utterance of ‘Allaho Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) before every action in prayer. He stopped this custom.
He recited the sermon of the Friday Prayer in seated position on the pulpit. When he was going to confront His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), the caliph of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) he ordered his soldiers to recite the Friday Prayer on Wednesday itself. It is needless to say that people acted upon his instructions. During the Hajj, instead of jogging between the Safa and Marwah mountains, he rode on a horse. Even though no excuse existed for him to do so. He removed the “talbiyah” (Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik25) from the rituals of Hajj.
However the most significant of these innovations is the joining of hands during Prayer. There are many historical proofs that show that it was only Muawiyah who had started this custom. Imam Malik (the founder of the Maliki sect) has commanded his followers to keep their hands open and straight during prayers. (As the Shias do). And he stated its reason was that the people of Medina used to keep their hands loose in prayers and the people of Medina had seen the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) praying.
Hence the method of the people of Medina must indeed be based on the emulation of the Messenger. Imam Malik died in 179 AH. In addition to his logic, we have the traditional reports of Abdullah bin Zubair, Ibn Sireen and other scholars of Islamic jurisprudence that prove that at least until the 2nd century of the Hijrah Calendar, the people of Medina did not join their hands during Prayer.
On the other hand Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad Hanbal (who were educated in Iraq and Syria where the influence of Banu Umayyah was more) have advised their followers to join their hands. And more interesting is the verdict of Imam Shafei (who initially lived in Mecca and Medina and later resided in Iraq and Egypt), who says that both options are permitted in Prayers.
Some proofs of innovation in Prayer are also found through two companions of the Prophet. Anas bin Malik (an aged companion of the Prophet) went to Damascus. He wept incessantly on whatever he witnessed there. He said, I don’t see anything among you that I had witnessed in the time of the Prophet except this prayer and that is also transmogrified.
Another companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), Abu Darda said, “I don’t find anything here in accordance with the religious law, except that they perform the ritual prayers in congregation. Apart from this, everything has been abandoned.” When His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) was engaged in battle against Muawiyah, he said, “We are fighting them so that the prayer may be established anew.”
Here it would be most appropriate to mention that when His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) led the prayers in his caliphate, people became joyous and automatically exclaimed, “This is how the Prophet prayed. We have witnessed this prayer after a long time.” Among those who expressed such views are the notable names of Umar bin Hussayn, Abu Musa Ashari and Abu Huraira.
Muawiyah was the first person in Islam who not only took usury in trade, but he also made it permissible according to religious law. He openly indulged in wine, singing, music and dance, while all these things are clearly prohibited in Islam.
He initiated the cursing of the Prophet’s cousin and his caliph, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), and this shameful practice continued among the Muslims until the end of the first century of the Hijrah. Here it is necessary to remind that His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) is the one, love and respect towards whom is made obligatory on all Muslims through the command of the Qur’an and the instructions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Love for ‘Ali is love for the Messenger, and enmity towards ‘Ali is construed as enmity towards the Prophet. Peace and harmony with ‘Ali (a.s) is peace and harmony with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). And discord with him is same as discord with the Prophet. Also, cursing ‘Ali (a.s) is like cursing the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).
Openly opposing the established principles of Qur’an and Islam, Muawiyah announced in the Friday sermon that all the income of the Islamic kingdom was his personal property and to distribute it among the Muslims or not rested upon his personal discretion. If he likes he may give something from it to whomsoever he likes, but if he does not, no one had any right to question him because it was his personal property.
These examples clearly show that Muawiyah not only tried to change the worship acts, he endeavored to make changes in every field of the Islamic law. If he was not able to succeed it was only because of the divine diplomacy of Imam Hasan (a.s).
Let me also mention that the diplomacy of Imam Hasan (a.s) also proved successful in the fact that through it, it became sufficiently easy to distinguish between a true believer and a hypocrite. During the lifetime of the respected father of Imam Hasan (a.s), in the last four years, all Muslims used to consider him as the ruler of the Muslim dominions. Among them were some who believed him to have been divinely appointed and the majority considered him to be the consensual caliph. The faith did not have any benefit from this milling crowd of people harboring different views as circumstances have shown clearly. The treaty of Imam Hasan (a.s) with Muawiyah removed all the misconceptions and only those true believers remained with Imam Hasan (a.s) whose faith could not change with the changing political scenario.
If one studies this much history of Muawiyah one would begin to wonder if more destruction of Islam was possible. But to say this would be premature because the curtain had not yet risen on the last act of this drama. The worst of Muawiyah’s plots was appointing his son, Yazid as his successor. He tried all means to make his plan successful, through bribes as well as intimidation. By intrigue and by deception, by poisoning and by blatant murder.
A few years after this evil nomination, the ruler of Muslims, who called himself the Prophet’s successor, departed from the world with the crucifix around his neck. Now Yazid was the absolute ruler of complete Islamic territories that spread upto Azerbaijan in the east to Yemen in the south and to Egypt in the west and Iran in the east.
What was the character of this so-called caliph of the Prophet?
He was such that he openly denied the messengership of the Messenger (s.a.w). He made his beliefs clear in the following couplets:
“Banu Hashim (the Prophet and his family) has played a game to obtain temporal power.
The fact is that neither an angel came to them nor any revelation descended.”
Intoxicated in this wrong belief, he considers that the tussle between Islam and disbelief to be a battle between two clans and is overjoyed that he has succeeded in taking revenge from the progeny of the Prophet on behalf of his ancestors.
“If only my ancestors who died in Badr had been alive and seen how their opponents (Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet) were suppressed, they would have screamed in joy: O Yazid! May your hands never tire! We have killed their leader and in this way took revenge of Badr. And I won’t be eligible to be called the descendant of the fighters of the Ditch (Khandaq) if I had failed to take revenge from Muhammad and his relatives.”
This much is sufficient to learn about his true beliefs. Let us now see what he says regarding other pillars of Islamic faith:
“O my beloved! (Do not be sure of reunion after death) Because whatever you have heard of life after death is mere fiction which makes one heedless of the joys of this real world.”
Your God has not said that Hell is for those who drink. Rather He has said that it is for those who pray.”
Against the background of his misguided notions it is also necessary that we study his evil feats.
In addition to the tragedy of Karbala’ he committed so many atrocities in the history of humanity that each alone is sufficient to make him forever deserving to be cursed.
Here we shall present only two examples of his evil feats in which he was not successful but his aim became very much obvious. It was at the time when he was the heir apparent of Muawiyah.
First of all he wanted to marry Ayesha, the widow of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). At that time the age of Ayesha was more than fifty years. This desire only proves that all he wanted was to insult the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and Holy Qur’an, because the Holy Qur’an has prohibited the Muslims to marry the wives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). Thus Yazid also intended to insult the Muslims who considered the wives of the Prophet as the mothers of the believers.
Yazid had to give up the desire at the behest of his father, who was a cunning diplomat, and he knew that this blatant act would cause the loss of all opportunities of Yazid of ever becoming the Caliph.
Secondly he tried to drink wine on the roof of the House of God, that is the Holy Ka’ba. On this occasion also he was restrained by his friends and advisers.
After gaining caliphate he began to openly ridicule the Islamic worship acts (as we have stated before). He dressed up dogs and monkeys in the attire of scholars and religious leaders. Chess and playing with bears was his favorite pastime. He used to spend all his time everywhere in drinking wine without any hesitation whatsoever. He had no respect for any woman. So much so that even the ladies among his blood relation, like the mother, sisters, paternal aunts, nieces and daughters were like other women for him.
Yazid ordered attack on Medina and the holy town of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was freely plundered. Three hundred virgins (along with other ladies) became the target of their lusts. Three hundred reciters of the Holy Qur’an and seven hundred companions of the Messenger were martyred mercilessly. The Holy mosque of the Prophet remained shut for many days and Yazid’s forces utilized it as a stable for their mounts, and dogs took shelter in it.
Even the holy pulpit of the Messenger did not remain safe from filth. At last the commander of the forces compelled the people of Medina to pay allegiance to Yazid in the following words: “We are the slaves of Yazid. And it is upto him whether he restores our freedom or sells us in the slave market.” Those who wanted to pledge allegiance for Yazid upon the condition that he would follow the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet were put to death. Here it would not be importunate to state that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has said:
“Whoever terrifies the people of Medina shall be under divine curse forever.”
After this, under orders from Yazid, the army departed for Mecca and these people laid siege to the Holy City of God. This army could not enter the town so they used catapults and by this method rained stones and burning logs of wood on the Ka’ba. Kiswa, that is the cloth covering of the Ka’ba was burned down and a part of the Holy Ka’ba collapsed.
In this way we have reached such a time when everything connected to Islam, from the roots of religion to the sanctified worship acts, from family life to social system all were under attack and were being destroyed.
Through whom? Through Yazid who was supposed to be the protector and defender.
And the most important matter was that some of those innovations would indeed have been considered Islamic and made a part of Islam. Because since the last fifty years people had become accustomed to accept all that the ruler does as the true criteria of Islam. Today no sign would have remained of Islam if Imam Hasan (a.s) had not put a stop to this tendency and if Imam Husayn (a.s) had not openly opposed the reigning king (that is Yazid).
Neither anyone possessed such courage nor anyone had such love for Islam and neither did so much responsibility rest on anyone regarding Islam as it rested on Imam Husayn (a.s). Husayn was the son of the daughter of the Prophet. He was the beloved son of ‘Ali and Fatima and the younger brother of Imam Hasan (a.s). He was the heir and successor to all of them. Islam was the religion that his grandfather had brought and established. Since the beginning this family was a staunch defender of Islam. The members of this family could offer any sacrifice for Islam. And many a times they sacrificed everything they possessed for Islam and even gave up their life and lives of their beloved ones. Imam Husayn (a.s) was used to sacrificing everything for the sake of Islam. He found Islam in peril and he rose up for its defense. He also saw that it was the best opportunity to present an effective and final sacrifice for Islam. So that it maybe forever safe from danger. Therefore he came to Karbala’ along with some of his selected relatives and companions who did not exceed 150 persons including women and children. The whole world knows what happened at Karbala’. And how Imam Husayn (a.s) and his companions and relatives (including a six-month infant) tasted the cup of martyrdom on the 10th of Muharram 61 AH. How they bore the torture of thirst and hunger from the seventh to the tenth of Muharram. How their tents were burned down and how their household possessions plundered. How their ladies and ailing son and little children were made captives. And how they were presented in the courts of Ibn Ziyad and Yazid in Kufa and Damascus. How they underwent the tortures of imprisonment for a full year. How they were released after that. All know these facts and therefore I need not go into the details here.
Imam Husayn (a.s) was martyred and Yazid apparently seemed victorious; but only apparently. Actually it was Husayn (a.s) who emerged a victor and he wrote the story of his success on the sands of Karbala’ with his blood. There were many aspects of this success of his. However, I intend to discuss only one aspect over here. As we have seen before, Yazid was the absolute ruler of the Islamic kingdom. And according to the principles established by the previous three caliphs, each of his action was supposed to have been considered as the standard and criteria of religion.
Imam Husayn (a.s) had no such political certificate. But he was the only one who could confront Yazid (the reigning king) and not be called a rebel, because he possessed every certificate from God and the Prophet that his elder brother Imam Hasan (a.s) had received. And the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that: ‘Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn,’ had clarified that every action of Husayn was same as that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).
Therefore when people learnt about the tragedy of Karbala’ they could not in any way believe that Husayn (a.s) would have been in the wrong. Because to say that Husayn was on the wrong was same as saying that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) was on the wrong (God forbid), that is why Yazid (l.a.) became the target of cursing in the whole Islamic world.
In this way the task of separating religion and politics that was started during the time of Imam Hasan (a.s) reached completion at the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) and it was the link of the same chain. The peace treaty of Imam Hasan (a.s) and the battle of Imam Husayn (a.s) are complimentary to each other and it is not possible to understand them in isolation from each other.
It is mentioned in traditions that the upper portion of Imam Hasan’s (a.s) body and the lower portion of Imam Husayn’s (a.s) resembled that of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Perhaps the Almighty Allah wanted to make it a sign that in order to understand the true and correct religion of the Prophet, it is necessary to study the life of both the grandsons together. The two brothers together saved Islam from the willful deeds of the rulers.
Imam Husayn (a.s) turned the stream of the opinion of the people in the right direction. After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) political power did not denote religious authority. After Karbala’ the status of ruling kings did not remain such that their act should become a law of Islam. Anyone could become a king through nomination or consensus. Anyone could occupy the throne by force and compulsion. However becoming the ruler of people was something else and being a religious leader is different. The former is appointed by the people and the latter by Almighty God. Imam Husayn (a.s) at last opened the eyes of the Islamic world forever.
Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s) saved Islam from the slavery of rulers and in this way saved it from decadence and destruction. And the names of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s) shall also remain attached to Islam forever.