Understanding Karbala


This text is basically a collection of articles published in different periodicals over the years and a radio speech, but they were arranged by the author himself in this present book form and published originally in Urdu.

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كربلا شناسي First Edition: 1385 - 1427 - 2006 Second Reprint: 1386 - 1428 - 2007 ISBN: 978-964-438-829-3
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Translator’s Foreword

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Praise is due to Allah Whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so.1

By the Grace of the Almighty, the English translation of Karbala’ Shinasi is in your hands.

The late author, Allamah Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi (q.s.) in yet another of his masterpieces has skillfully analyzed and explained the different aspects of the Karbala’ Tragedy.

It is basically a collection of articles published in different periodicals over the years and a radio speech. But they were arranged by the author himself in this present book form and published in Urdu. It was much appreciated by the community in India and Pakistan and had been reprinted a number of times.

We are all aware of the malicious propaganda of the enemies of Islam and humanity to target the Muharram ceremonies and the conspiracy to belittle the Great Sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s). This book is a refutation of all objections raised in this connection.

The author, in his typical style has refuted all the allegations in a scholarly manner but at the same time made the text readable and interesting even for laymen.

Translation of Urdu and Persian terms is given in brackets and frequently used terms are also defined in the “Glossary of Islamic Terms” at the end of the book for readers not familiar with Islamic terminology.


Sayyid Athar Husayn S.H.Rizvi
Al-Qalam Translators & Writers Bureau
Email: sayedathar@hotmail.com

  • 1. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 1

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of this book was published in 1982. Since long all the copies are exhausted but there is still public demand for this book. Hence the second edition is being published in 1989 with further corrections and additions.

An article titled, “Who were the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s)” is added in this edition. It was first published in the Muharram issue of Sarfaraz Journal (Urdu) of 1954/1974.

The typographical mistakes remaining in the first edition have been corrected. May Allah not allow more mistakes to remain in it.

Although to remain free of errors is only for the infallibles.

My first writing on “Karbala’ Shinasi” (Understanding Karbala’) was a short article that I had written on the aim of Martyrdom and it was most probably published in the Muharram issue of Sarfaraz Journal of 1946. If before going to the press we are able to locate that article, it would also be included in this book. Otherwise, Insha Allah1 it would be reserved for the next edition. And there is no Tawfeeq2 except from Allah.

Humble Servant: Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi
3 Rabi-at-Thani 1409 AH/14th November 1988

  • 1. If Allah wills
  • 2. Divine opportunity

Preface to the First Edition

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. And blessings and salutations upon His best creature, Muhammad and his Purified Progeny.

The present book is based on my articles on the various aspects of the Karbala’ Tragedy. Most of these articles were written by me before relocating to Africa, and were published in the periodicals of India and Pakistan. When the Bilal Muslim Mission was established in Africa, it became necessary to translate religious literature into English. An important link of this chain is the Bi-monthly “The Light.”

I had also to write articles for the “As Serat” Journal of Muhammadi Trust, London, on occasions related to Imam Husayn (a.s). Afterwards many of these articles were translated into Urdu and published in Urdu Magazines. These articles are also included in this collection.

The most respected Hujjatul Islam Maulana Sayyid Ahmad ‘Ali Abidi is among those contemporary scholars who, keeping in mind the needs of the present age, are performing unequalled services in the field of religious propagation. The respected friend is one of the founders of Noor-e-Islam Organization and the main driving force behind it. This organization publishes books on important religious subjects. It has also started correspondence course in Urdu in co-operation with Dar Rah Haqq, Qom and Usool-e-Deen Organization, Qom.

This honorable friend had requested me to give a book of mine that can be published from Noor-e-Islam. This collection is being published as per this request.

The articles are arranged in such a manner that continuity of topics is maintained. It is hoped that their study would illuminate the various historical, religious and philosophical aspects of the tragedy of Karbala’, and the readers would be able to understand, to a great extent, this supreme sacrifice.

I had no idea that collecting old articles is such a tedious job. I am thankful to the editors of Al-Jawwad (Benaras), Al-Waez (Lucknow), Sarfaraz (Lucknow) and Razakar (Lahore) for providing me copies of the articles from their archives; otherwise this collection would have been incomplete. May Allah reward them with a good reward.

If this collection is liked by the literate people, the future editions will also include articles on other topics, Insha Allah.

Was Salaam
Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi
13 Rajab al-Murajjab 1401 AH

How Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s) saved Islam from Destruction

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.

Ideal Islamic State

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.

Why Islam became a target of destruction

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.

Decadence of Islam

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

Khums5 money, which was the right of Fatima, was also denied. Though it was the right given to her family by the Holy Qur’an.6

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 Rise of the Umayyads

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) wanted to save Islam

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) stepped forward to help

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).

Religion is separated from leadership

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.

Evil deeds of Muawiyah

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.

Beliefs and acts of Yazid

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:

Qiyamat (Day of Judgment)

“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.”

Wine and Worship

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.

Plunder of Medina

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.”

Siege of Mecca

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).

Calamities of Imam Husayn (a.s)

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) Gave The Final Shape To The Separation Of Imamate And Rulership

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.

  • 1. Alms
  • 2. Poor Tax
  • 3. Sharh Nahjul Balagha (Ibne Abil Hadid Mutazali), Vol. 1 , Pg. 133, Rauzatul Ahbab, Vol. 1, Pg. 410 and Vol. 2, Pg. 25
  • 4. Futhuhul Bayan, al-Balazari, Pg. 42-43, Tarikh Khamis, Vol. 2, Tarikh Kamil of Ibne Athir, Vol. 2, Pg. 85, Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 3, Pg. 95-98, Sirah Ibne Hisham, Vol. 3, Pg. 408, Kitabul Imamah wal Siyasah, Ibn Qutaybah, Wafa al-Wafa, Vol. 2, Chapter 6, Marijun Nubuwwah, Rauzatul Auf Saheli, Vol. 2, Pg. 247, Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 4, Pg. 177, Habibus Sayr, Part 1, Pg. 58, Insanul Uyoon, Vol. 3, Pg. 400, Balaghatun Nisa, (Sermons of Fatima Zahra).
  • 5. 20 percent tax
  • 6. Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 3, Pg. 129-135, Musnad Ahmad Hanbal, Vol. 1, Pg. 4, Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli Nomani, Vol. 2, Pg. 117.
  • 7. Sahih Bukhari, Book of Khums, Sahih Muslim, Tabaqat Ibne Sa’ad.
  • 8. Al-Istiab, Ibne Abde Barr, Vol. 2, Pg. 560, Vol. 1, Pg. 208 and 215, Politics in Islam, Khuda Bakhsh Khan, Pg. 151, Muruj az-Zahab, Masudi, Vol. 2, Pg. 222
  • 9. Tafsir Durre Manthur Suyuti (Surah 17) Vol. 4, Pg. 191, and other books of Qur’anic exegesis and traditions. Also refer to the chapter, “Bani Umayyah in the view of Qur’an.”
  • 10. Tafsir Durre Manthur Suyuti Vol. 4, Pg. 371
  • 11. Refer to my book of Islamic History
  • 12. Al-Istiab, Vol. 4, Pg. 76-77, Tarikh Abul Fida, Vol. 2, Pg. 61
  • 13. Muruz az-Zahab, Vol. 2, Pg. 223, Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 6, Pg. 90, Tadkeratul Khawaasul Ummah, Pg. 134, Fathul Bari, Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Pg. 141, Rauzatul Manazir, (published with Murujuz Zahab, Pg. 209).
  • 14. Al-Istiab, Pg. 393, Al-Isabah fi Marifatus Sahaba, Vol. 2, Pg. 316-317, Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 3, Pg. 30
  • 15. Al-Isabah published with Al-Istiab, Vol. 3, Pg. 632, Lubabun Nuqool
  • 16. Tafsir Nishapuri, Vol. 21, Pg. 72, Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 5, Pg. 178, Tafsir Malimut Tanzil, Baghavi, Pg. 702, Tafsir Kashaf, Zamakhshari, Tarikhul Khulafa, Suyuti, Pg. 105, Tarikh Kamil, Ibne Athir, Vol. 3, Pg. 40, Tadkeratul Khawaasul Ummah Pg. 117, Sharh Fiqh Akbar, Pg. 92, Muruj az-Zahab, Vol. 1, Pg. 303, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, Pg. 72
  • 17. Tarikhul Khulafa, Suyuti, Pg. 105, Tarikh Kamil, Ibne Athir, Vol. 3, Pg. 40, Spirit of Islam, Sayyid Amir ‘Ali, Pg. 417-437
  • 18. Refer to Nahjul Balagha and its various commentaries
  • 19. Nahjul Balagha, Al-Istiab (Published with Al-Isabah) Vol. 3, Pg. 47, Tarikh Tamaddun Islami, Vol. 4, Pg. 37
  • 20. The infidels of Quraish used to refer to the Prophet with this derogatory title and Muawiyah is also using this epithet
  • 21. Caller of Azan
  • 22. Prayer is better than sleeping
  • 23. Call for Prayer
  • 24. Prayer is the best of deeds
  • 25. Here I am, O Lord. Here I am.

“And We Ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice”

His Eminence, Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) was already appointed at the post of Messengership. He already donned the mantle of “divine friendship” (Khalil), and seeking the vastness of his skirt the Beneficent Lord had bestowed him with the pearls of merits and virtues. Today again, providence wants to grant him a significant position but to achieve this status he has to pass a strange test. He sees a dream for two consecutive nights that he is slaughtering his one and only son in the path of God. The scene of the third day is described in the following words of the Holy Qur’an:

And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.1

This conversation clearly shows how steadfast these father and sons were and how particular they were in obeying the command of Allah. The Holy Qur’an is informing us that:

So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, and We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim! You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good:2

Ibrahim (a.s) opened his eyes. My God! What is this? Ismail is standing away from him and smiling; and in his place a ram is lying slaughtered. Ibrahim (a.s) was perplexed. He though, “If I had seen my son rolling in the dust and blood, and had been patient in obeying the command of Allah, how great my status would have been in the court of Allah. It is a pity that I could not scale those heights. May be this sacrifice is not worthy of acceptance in the courts of the Almighty Lord and that is why it has been neglected.” At that time the Holy Qur’an only tells us that the statement of Almighty Allah supported him:

Most surely this is a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice.3

In many commentaries of Qur’an the “great sacrifice” is said to denote that same ram which was slaughtered in lieu of His Eminence, Ismail (a.s).4 In the Shia commentary, Tafsir Safi a tradition of Tafsir Qummi is also quoted on this topic: When Ibrahim (a.s) decided to slaughter Ismail (a.s), the Almighty Allah made a beautiful ram its ransom. It used to graze in Paradise since the last forty years prior to this and it was not born of a female; the Almighty had created it with His intention. All the animals that shall be slaughtered in Mina shall all be ransom of Ismail. In this commentary many narrations on this topic are quoted, however the Late Maulana Farman ‘Ali (t.s.) has remarked under the translation of this verse that: “Though commentators have construed a fat ram of Paradise by “the great sacrifice” this is absolutely against reason, because even though it be of Paradise and no matter how fattened it may be, in comparison to a prophet it cannot be ‘great’. In my view “the great sacrifice” could not be anything other than the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). That is why the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to say: Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.”5

The respected Maulana has differed with the commentators in his writings and with all due respect and reverence I also beg to differ with the Maulana. No proof is required of the fact that the apparent explanation of the Qur’anic verse is different from their hidden interpretation. It is an established fact accepted by all sects of Islam that the Qur’an is revealed with seven letters or seven layers of meanings. Thus it is reported from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari:

I asked the interpretation of some verse from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) and he informed me of it. Then I asked him about it again and he gave me a different reply. So I told him: May I be sacrificed on you. Before this day you had given a different reply to this question. He replied: O Jabir! There is an interior of the Qur’an and an interior of the interior. And it has an exterior and an exterior of the exterior. O Jabir! Nothing is beyond the intellects of the people more than the exegesis of Qur’an. Because for most of the verses the beginning portion is about one thing and the last portion is about something else while apparently the statement seems continuous and connected and different meanings are construed from it.” Have you noted how clearly the Holy Imam (a.s) has explained that there are multiple meanings of the Qur’an. And if one believes in the apparent meaning it does not mean that one is denying the inner interpretation. And neither does it mean that one who believes in the inner meaning should reject the apparent explanation. That is why Imam ‘Ali Reza (a.s) told one of his companions, “Do not become like those who deny the apparent meanings of Qur’an.” After this preface, I beg to state that when traditions have explained the “great sacrifice” to also denote the ram that was slaughtered in lieu of Ismail there is no reason that we should deny this apparent explanation only because the esoteric interpretation says that the “great sacrifice” denotes the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). This denial cannot be justified because on the basis of traditions and principles of faith we are obliged to have faith and believe in both equally. The Maulana himself had acted on the principle a little before the captioned verse. Thus under the explanation of the verse:

…surely I have seen in a dream that…6

He writes its interpretation:

A voice came, ‘You passed your test. Right now just offer the sacrifice of this heavenly ram and We have ransomed it with a great sacrifice.’ Please note the underlined words on page 718 of the translation. Though even I agree that of all the arguments that are presented to prove the greatness of this ram not even one is valid and acceptable and none proves the greatness of the ram over Ismail (a.s). For example let us see the following justifications:

1 – Some people say that since the ram was slaughtered, it became great. But I cannot as yet understand how merely being slaughtered endowed it with greatness.

2 – Sometimes it is explained that its greatness is due to the fact that Allah accepted it in lieu of the son of Ibrahim. But this argument clearly shows that its greatness was based on the fact that it became ransom of Ismail. Therefore it could not be superior to Ismail.

3 – It is also stated as a cause that since it was sent by the Almighty God that is why it became great. Now the question is that if you are asked who is greater, a ram sent by God or a Prophet sent by God, whom would you select?

4 – The same question is applicable to those who say that it was the ram of Habeel, which was alive in Paradise and it was sent at that time to be the ransom of Ismail.

5 – It is a very significant thing to state that it had grazed in Paradise for years and was fattened a great deal, therefore it was “great.” If the aim of sacrifice is that the flesh and blood is used by God for Himself then indeed the huge ram is “great” in comparison of Ismail (a.s). But is not so, rather:

There does not reach Allah their flesh nor their blood, but to Him is acceptable the guarding (against evil) on your part…7

The Almighty Allah only sees sincerity and piety; thus indeed the sacrifice of the one and only son had much more sincerity and piety than slaughtering a ram. And a son who was born after 90 years of prayers and was the justification of the words: “We give you the good news of a boy…”8 and also the bearer of the effulgence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). The gist of the matter is that as far as the superiority of Ismail to the ram is concerned I am in perfect agreement with the honorable Maulana. Even though it be a ram of Paradise and however fat it may be, but its superiority to prophets is impossible. Let us however examine this matter from another angle. Is it not possible that in tradition where the ram is said to be “great sacrifice” there is no issue of its comparison with His Eminence, Ismail (a.s)? And this comparison is only the product of our imagination? Is it necessary to construe that it only means “greater than Ismail”? Can it not be construed that it denotes “great in itself” or “greater than other animals”? Would it be against eloquence? The fact is that no trace of comparison with His Eminence, Ismail (a.s) is found in the traditions. Rather they are content to just state the greatness of the ram itself and they inform us that the ram was born without the medium of parents by the command of God and grazed in Paradise for forty years and the Almighty Allah had created it only to save the life of Ismail (a.s). In this regard it possesses a superiority over all animals and that is why it is called “great.” This was the apparent explanation and the inner exegesis indeed says that it refers to the great martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). Allamah Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali has also confessed this in his translation and commentary of this verse. I am not quoting his writing for the sake of brevity. In the same way whatever Maulana Farman ‘Ali has written about this matter has already been quoted by us above. Even our Zakireen9, when they see that the “great sacrifice” refers to the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) they become needless of more contemplation and instantly translate that: We have made the sacrifice of Husayn as the ransom of Ismail and on the basis of this translation they construct their whole speech (Majlis). They discover such corners of virtues and calamities that even the stoniest heart could not, but be affected by it. Though only this much is correct in this translation that the great sacrifice denotes the sacrifice of Husayn (a.s). The first objection that applies to this translation is that a ransom is always of lesser value and significance than the ransomed object/person. It does not befit the people of reason that they sacrifice a thing of more value to save something of lesser value. And here the sacrifice is said to be ransomed by the “great sacrifice” or in his words Imam Husayn (a.s) is taken as ransom of Ismail, which is not in any way acceptable because the Infallible Imams (a.s) are universally believed to be superior to all prophets except the Last Prophet (s.a.w). Therefore the translation is absolutely wrong. The reply given to this objection is that at that time Ismail (a.s) carried in his loins the seeds of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and Lady Fatima Zahra (a.s) and also all the Infallible Imams among whom Imam Husayn (a.s) was also included and were Ismail slaughtered at that time, it would have destroyed the seeds of all the Imams. Therefore Imam Husayn (a.s) did not become only the ransom of Ismail (a.s), but he became the ransom of this whole chain of whom he was also a part, and there is nothing wrong according to reason if a part is sacrificed for the whole. The statement of Maulana Farman ‘Ali in the margins that: That is why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to remark that ‘Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn’ also most probably denotes the same thing and he has indicated towards this same reply. These justifications indeed entertain a religious gathering but the actual problem is not solved. Just suppose even if we ignore this question it still remains unsolved that when the aim of the sacrifice was fulfilled and the sincerity and steadfastness of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s) passed the test and the life of Ismail was also saved, then what was the need of presenting a ransom? Apart from this, we should also note that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) was destined much before the incident of Ismail (a.s) and the Almighty Allah had also hinted it on different occasions. Thus His Eminence, Adam (a.s), His Eminence, Nuh (a.s), and His Eminence, Ibrahim (a.s) had already been informed about the event of Karbala’ before the occurrence of this incident (of Ismail). Then keeping in mind this point how far is it justified to say that the martyrdom Imam Husayn (a.s) was made the ransom of Ismail’s slaughter? Now I do not wish to keep the readers in further suspense. I present the same narration according to which the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) is said to denote the “great sacrifice.” (And indeed it denotes thus!) So that it becomes clear what the intention of the narration is and what the people have construed it to mean.

Fazl narrates that he heard Imam ‘Ali Reza (a.s) say: When the Almighty Allah commanded Ibrahim (a.s) to slaughter the ram that was sent in place of his son, Ismail, Ibrahim (a.s) wished he had not been commanded to slaughter the ram and he had been allowed to slaughter Ismail with his own hands so that he had experienced a grief a father feels on slaughtering ones own beloved son and in this way he would have become eligible for the rewards of such grief stricken people. Thus Allah revealed to him: O Ibrahim! Who is most beloved to you among all the creatures? Ibrahim (a.s) replied, “O my Lord! None among Your creatures is as much beloved to me as Your beloved, Muhammad.” Thus revelation came asking him: Is he more precious to you or your own self? He said that he was more beloved to him than his own self. Then he was asked whether he (Muhammad’s) son was more beloved to him or his own son (Ismail)? Ibrahim (a.s) replied, “His (Muhammad’s) son is more beloved to me. At that time the Almighty Allah informed, “Would you be more aggrieved upon his oppressive slaughter or upon the slaughter of your son by your hands under My orders?” Ibrahim (a.s) said that he would be more aggrieved on the slaughter of the Prophet’s son at the hands of enemies. Then the Almighty Allah informed him that a group would think that they are from the nation of Muhammad and after Muhammad they would unjustly slay his son like a ram is slaughtered. And those people would become eligible for divine wrath due to this act. Hearing this incident, Ibrahim (a.s) became restless and his heart became aggrieved and began to weep.

At that time the Almighty Allah revealed: O Ibrahim! The grief you would have suffered due to slaughtering Ismail with your own hands, We have ransomed it with this restlessness that you experienced due to Husayn and his slaying and I have bestowed you with the highest position of the grief stricken people; and that is the aim of the divine saying:

And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice.10

You must have noted what the tradition says. Read the narration and think upon its explanation. Does it say that Allah made the sacrifice of Husayn (a.s) as ransom of the slaughter of Ismail? After writing this tradition, Allamah Majlisi has also explained it and first of all he has mentioned the objection of the lesser value of the ransom and the greatness of Imam Husayn (a.s). Then he has stated the same point, which we have stated in our forgone discussion. However after that he says: It is not stated in this tradition that the Almighty Allah made Husayn the ransom of Ismail, therefore there is no scope of objection about ransom. Rather it says that the Almighty Allah ransomed the grief of Ibrahim (a.s) he would have experienced by slaughtering Ismail by his restlessness and weeping upon Husayn (a.s). Then he says: Obviously on the basis of this tradition the “ransom” here does not denote ransom in the real sense. It only denotes giving something in exchange because His Eminence, Ibrahim (a.s) was regretting that he had missed the reward of grieving for his son. Therefore the Almighty gave him in its place a thing that was more rewarding and superior, that is the grief on the sufferings of Imam Husayn (a.s).

The gist of the matter is that the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) was a pre-destined event. It did not occur to save Ismail from slaughter. Therefore the objection is not applicable that the ransom must be of lesser value than the ransomed thing.

Towards the end I would also like to point out that if the ‘b’ in ‘bi zibhin azeem’ is taken to be article of causation it would denote ransom in the true sense. However, under such circumstances would it become the cause of the ransom and not ransom itself. That is, it would mean that due to the “great sacrifice” We have given the ransom of Ismail and saved him because if Ismail had been slaughtered, Imam Husayn (a.s) would not have come into existence. Therefore to save him, Ismail was saved through the ram. Allamah Majlisi has also suggested this interpretation in Biharul Anwar. The aim of the Allamah is that if the ransom is taken in its actual connotation, we would have to consider ‘bi’ as the ‘bi’ of causation. And if it is not considered causative we would have to accept that the pronoun of ‘ha’ contains a metaphor and also the ransom would have to be considered synonymous to “replacement.” Hopefully the inner interpretation of this verse has become clear for the readers.

Now it remains to be seen why the Almighty Allah has honored the martyrdom as a “great sacrifice.” By comparing it to other events from the aspect of the loftiness of the aim, the importance of the events, the comprehensiveness of the consequence and its effectiveness it could be shown that a sacrifice greater than this had neither been offered before nor is there any possibility that it shall be done even in the future. But since all such discussion here would prolong the article so much that no space would remain for other articles in al-Jawwad Journal, I refrain from the same. However, it need not be mentioned that this is just a preface to a deeper understanding of Karbala’ Tragedy.

The Great Sacrifice

There are so many misunderstandings among the Muslims regarding the verse: “And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice,” that no other verse of Qur’an is equal in this aspect. I had written an article in al-Jawwad Muharram Special Issue on the topic of this same verse. In that treatise I had explained and investigated all the aspects of the verse in the light of traditions and narrations and explained how the status and position of Imam Husayn (a.s) is so high and lofty that he could not be considered as a ransom of Prophet Ismail (a.s). According to the view of Allamah Majlisi (vide Biharul Anwar) Imam Husayn (a.s), the Chief of the Martyrs is the cause of the ransom itself. In his view the actual connotations of the verse is that: Due to the great sacrifice We saved Ismail by ransoming him. That is, because the Chief of the Martyrs was supposed to appear in the progeny of Ismail (a.s) and if he had been slaughtered, this effulgence would not have come into existence, the Almighty God saved Ismail (a.s) and in his lieu the ram was slaughtered. Hence the question arises that many innocent lives were taken and blood spilled after Prophet Ismail (a.s). Many Prophets of Bani Israel were killed at the hands of the oppressors and the verse of Qur’an proves it:

…and killed the prophets unjustly…11

Then what is the reason that only Imam Husayn (a.s) should be taken as the evidence of this verse? However by studying carefully the words of the verse it becomes clears that here it does not merely denote the killing of an innocent soul in the path of Allah. Rather it denotes that special condition of killing that is referred to as “the Great Sacrifice.” It is obvious that no proof could be given about those honorable prophets that they were “slaughtered.” Only Prophet Yahya (a.s) is able to fill the criterion and his similarity to Imam Husayn (a.s) extends to the fact that that his severed head was also placed in a tray and presented to a king. However first of all his circumstances can hardly be compared to the incidents of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), so how could it be greater than the sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s)? Secondly the interpretation of Allamah Majlisi shows that the great sacrifice was to occur in the progeny of Ismail (a.s) and it is not connected to anyone from Bani Israel. Otherwise for its protection there was no need to save the life of Ismail (a.s). Therefore, Prophet Yahya (a.s) can never be the evidence of this verse. Let us now see which murder in the progeny of Ismail (a.s) is such that it could be called as “the great sacrifice” and its greatness should also be absolutely proved.

In the progeny of Ismail (a.s) quite later on, we notice the incident of Abdullah Ibn Abdul Muttalib, who was going to be slaughtered in the way of Allah and Abdul Muttalib was fully prepared to slaughter him in order to fulfill his vow. However his mother and other people of Mecca objected to it and restrained him from such a course of action and thus the question of a ransom arose. The drawing of lots started with ten camels and always the name of Abdullah was drawn. Until the lots were cast for 100 camels and Abdullah and then it was drawn for the 100 camels and in this way Abdullah was saved from being slaughtered at that time, just as Prophet Ismail (a.s) had escaped the slaughtered. Due to this event the Islamic religious law has stipulated 100 camels as the penalty of willful murder.

In any case, Prophet Ismail and after him Abdullah, both were fully prepared to be slaughtered but Providence saved them for divine wisdom. That is why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to say: I am the son of two slaughtered ones (sacrifices). After this event if any incident in the progeny could be termed as “the great sacrifice” and which is in its fullest sense, is that of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). This divine wisdom is worth contemplation that even though Imam Husayn (a.s) had suffered so many physical and emotional wounds that were alone sufficient to cause death, the connection between him and life was not severed until the prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. So much so, that the accursed Shimr committed the heinous act that caused furor in the earth and the heavens. And the trustworthy Jibraeel announced from the skies: Know that! Husayn has been slaughtered in Karbala’!

In any case, in this essay, I would like to briefly describe the events of Ismail (a.s) and Imam Husayn (a.s) and draw a comparison between them to point out why the Almighty Allah has honored the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) by the lofty title of “the great sacrifice.” And also whether the events of the martyrdom and the circumstances of the slaughter of Imam Husayn (a.s) are really worthy of this title or not. Although I know that if any scholar takes up the task of writing on this topic, even after writing reams and reams he would confess that he has not been able to do justice to the subject matter.

And inspite of this I have dared to write about it. I think that so what if my writing could not show the “great sacrifice” in the true light. At least it would be a proof of my daring of unbounded love. Anyway, I would restrict this essay only to those topics that are common, if only in name, to Prophet Ismail and Imam Husayn (a.s). It is obvious that as much the causes of peace of the heart and leisure keep on decreasing and as much they increase spiritual pain and physical discomfort as much the greatness of the slaughtered one shall go on increasing. Slaughter is itself the greatest pain and in addition to it the presence of other pains enhances its greatness. Let us now, in the light of this view, cast a brief glance on both the events from their beginning to the end.

(1) Cause of the slaughter

Prophet Ismail (a.s) was being slaughtered by the command of Allah and he was even aware of it. His words as recorded in Qur’an: “…do what you are commanded…”12 prove my assertion that he himself had also given the permission. Therefore his killing was not based on injustice and neither could he be called an oppressed one. On the other hand the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) was such a great cruelty whose equal could not be found since the inception of the created world until Qiyamat. His Eminence, Ibrahim (a.s) was going to slaughter Ismail (a.s) for the pleasure of God and the words: “Thus do We reward the doers of good.”13 have given him the certificate of acceptance also. On the other hand the killers of Husayn (a.s) were cutting off his parched throat to gain the proximity of Yazid. They did not care that through this deed they would become eligible for a painful chastisement. They slaughtered Husayn (a.s) and earned the displeasure of Allah, they slit the heart of the Prophet and injured the feelings of Lady Fatima (s.a.). They made a crack in the foundation of Islam. They blemished the face of humanity. They shattered the screens of civility and ethics and insulted humanity. They proved true by spilling innocent blood, the fear of the angels when they had said:

What! Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood…14

(2) The Slaughtered One

The one who was slaughtering Ismail (a.s) was his own respected father whose love and affection for his son could be gauged even if we ignore his perfect humanity, prophethood and friendship of God, just by the fact that Ismail (a.s) was fruit of his prayers of 99 years. Until that time Ismail (a.s) was his only child and all his future hopes were connected to him alone. He was supposed to be his support in his old age. He was the light of his eyes. He was the strength of his heart and the achievement of his life. In such circumstances, how gentle he would have been in using the knife could be understood by any sensible person. On the other hand, the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) were such that instead of mercy and gentleness their hearts were filled with cruelty and mercilessness. Instead of any love and regard in their eyes they were having utter shamelessness and their tongues, instead of softness and kindness had hardness and sharpness. They were deadly enemies and were utterly shameless. They were enemies of ethics. In their view the meaning of humanity was only limited to the glitter of gold and silver. And this glitter had perplexed their eyes so much that they did not flinch in making a six-month infant a target for arrows. How can any mercy and caution be expected from such people? The events testify that they did not rest content only to slaughter Husayn (a.s). They put into practice all the atrocities that a human mind can imagine. Apparently from this aspect also the greatness of the sacrifice of Husayn increases.

(3) Tools of Slaughter

Religious law commands that before slaughter the instrument should be sharpened adequately so that the slaughtered one has to undergo minimum pain. Apart from this, His Eminence, Ibrahim (a.s) was an affectionate father as mentioned above therefore it goes without saying that he must have sharpened the knife as much as possible. However in Karbala’, where other rules of human behavior were ignored, the sword used to severe his holy head was so blunt that according to famous traditional reports, it took twelve slashes before it could complete its job. In addition to this, another aspect of the greatness of Husayn (a.s) is that even if Ismail (a.s) had been slaughtered, only a single stroke would have been used for it and his body would have received only a single wound. However, for the killing of Husayn (a.s), which attack was such that it had not been used hundreds of times? Swords, daggers, arrows, spears, maces, stones, burning pieces of wood, ridicules. In other words, every instrument that had been invented to injure the body and soul until that time, all were employed for Imam Husayn (a.s). Such was the propensity of the injuries inflicted upon the purified body of the Holy Imam that according to famous traditions only the front portion of his body had 1951 wounds.

(4) Method of Slaughter

Regarding Ismail (a.s) the Holy Qur’an says:

…he threw him down upon his forehead…15

It means that Ibrahim (a.s) made Ismail (a.s) lie down sideways so that his cheek touched the earth in the same way as a ram is laid for slaughter. This is done in such a way so that there is ease in cutting the neck and it is least painful way of severing the head. Mulla Mohsin Faiz has explained it in the above way. On the other hand the manner in which Imam Husayn (a.s) was beheaded was such that no tongue has the strength to speak about it and no pen could summon the courage to describe it. It is sufficient to say that Imam Husayn (a.s) is given the special title of: ‘One slaughtered at the nape.’ and how painfully the head is severed from the body by this method cannot be imagined by anyone.

(5) Condition of welcoming death

Ismail (a.s) accepted the command of slaughter, which even though it would have granted a lofty position to him and his respected father, he still considered it a calamity and trouble; that is why he said:

…if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.16

Saying so he announced his patience, which is restricted to troublesome circumstances. On the other hand, Imam Husayn (a.s) and his companions considered their killing and slaughter, which was neither under the command of Allah nor due to some retaliation or penalty, as solely for the pleasure of God and on the basis of the steadfastness of their truth a mercy, as the following tradition indicates:

“The condition of Husayn (a.s) and some of his special companions was such that as calamities continued to befall them, their countenances shone more and more and their limbs and organs expressed absolute peace and comfort and the soul continued to proceed on the stages of peace.17 This is regarding some special companions, if the general condition of all the companions and relatives is to be seen one could read the following words of another traditional report, which describes the conversation on the eve of Ashura day:

The Holy Imam said, “All of you shall be killed tomorrow and none shall be spared.” All said, “Thanks be to Allah, that He bestowed us the honor to be slain with you.”

On the basis of such steadfastness and daring in being killed we are compelled to say that the incident of Husayn (a.s) is not only great but it is the “greatest” such that the history of the world has failed to provide us with its equal.

(6) Condition of the slaughtered one

It is the command of the religious law that before the slaughter the beast of slaughter must be fed and watered adequately. Apart from this Ibrahim (a.s) himself wanted to provide every sort of comfort as much as was in his power, for the last time for his son. That is why at the time of leaving the house he had him fed to satiation. He asked Her Eminence, Hajrah to give him a bath and dress him in nice clothes and to comb his hair and apply kohl to his eyes. In other words before the supposed slaughtered, Ismail (a.s) got the opportunity to become content by way of personal appearance and comfort. However, what a pity! The slaughtered one of Nainawa (Husayn), his children, relatives, companions, ladies and guests; leave alone comfort and satiation, they were even deprived of the basic necessities of life, like water. In what a nice way the Kufans hosted their guests? Not even a drop of water was allowed for three days and the sound of “Thirst, thirst” used to emanate from the tents.

An Urdu poet has described this in the following lines:

The king had commanded that people may drink the water

As also the horses, riders and camels.

Do not prevent them even if the infidels drink it.

But do not allow any water to the beloved of Fatima.

Although the Almighty Lord has given the river (of Paradise) in the dower of the mother of this same thirsty one.

There Her Eminence, Hajrah had combed the hair and here the hair that Sayyida had arranged at some time were now filled with desert sand. There special clothes were used to dress Ismail (a.s) and here at the time of departure, Imam Husayn (a.s) requested his sister to get the old tattered dress so that it may remain safe from the hands of the plunderers after his martyrdom.

(7) Circumstances surrounding the slaughter

Prophet Ismail (a.s) went for the slaughter in an absolutely peaceful mood. He was not suffering from the shock of separation of the helpers and relatives. He was not aggrieved that he had been unable to bury the last remains of his companions. He was not dreading whether after he was dead he would be buried or not. He was not surrounded by enemies from all sides from whom there could be any chance of disrespect after getting killed. He had no apprehension as to how the ladies of his family would be dealt with. He was yet a child. He neither had family nor children, neither siblings nor any companions and friends. He was absolutely alien to those relationships. He was at peace that he had come from home with his father and only his mother remained at home; regarding whom he was certain that his father was present to comfort her. He also was sure that his dead body would be buried with all respect and honor. But did Imam (a.s) also have this assurance? Did his preceding circumstances make him also so assured and content? Was he also calm regarding the events that were to follow his martyrdom? Before his eyes lay his relatives and helpers, his beloved ones, his supports and his assistance and he had laid them down in a tent to sleep forever. Now, who knew what would happen to those corpses? Who knew he would be buried? The knowledge of the unseen (Ilme Ghaib) which is supposed to be a meritorious qualification of Imamate, let me say without any intention of causing disrespect that in those circumstances it was the cause of great torture. He must be seeing that after him the tents shall be put to fire. Coverings would be snatched away from the heads of Zainab and Umme Kulthum. A thorny collar shall be put around the neck of his ailing son. This leader of the world would be given the post of a camel driver. Twelve necks shall be tied up in a single rope. The ladies of his house shall be taken around from town to town with heads uncovered on camels without saddles. In the bazaars of Kufa and Syria they would be exhibited in public. They shall be presented in a gathering where wine was drunk. They shall be kept in prisons. If they wept they shall be punished with canes. If they tried to remove thorns they shall be pricked with spear points. They shall be made targets of ridicule. They shall be scolded and spoken to in acerbic words. And in addition to all this there are many other calamities that just their imagination is sufficient to make any sensible person shiver. However, Husayn (a.s), in spite of knowing all this, neither he feared death nor he hesitated to move towards it. There is no doubt that in such circumstances it was only Husayn (a.s) who could have welcomed death with a smiling countenance. Actually there is no similarity at all between the circumstances of Ismail (a.s) and Imam Husayn (a.s) that a comparison could be drawn between them.

(8) Consequences of the Slaughter

After these prefaces and events, if we contemplate upon this matter that from the aspects of consequences, which of the two events was having more importance, we would realize that even if the incomplete slaughter of Ismail (a.s) had reached completion it would not have served any other purpose except increasing the personal honor and status of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s). And in the court of the Almighty their honor would have scaled heights beyond imagination. That is the scope of the effect of its benefits would have remained limited only to two persons. On the other hand, the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) was having a great and magnificent effect. There is no doubt that due to this martyrdom, the status of Imam Husayn (a.s) also increased but it is only one aspect. If you consider the second aspect, the beneficial effects of this sacrifice were for all humanity and the whole world has gained from its consequences. This sacrifice was like the harkening to the plaintive call of Islam in distress. The barge of Islam was about to sink in dry land. Husayn (a.s) conveyed it to safety with the gush of his blood. The tree of humanity had begun to dry up with the heat of satanic handiworks. Husayn (a.s) watered it with his own blood and the blood of his companions so that it may not wither away. He watered it so well that there is no possibility of its extinction until the Day of Judgment. The benefits gained from the sacrifice of Husayn (a.s) are not restricted to Husayn and his companions. Rather they have encompassed all humanity.

Apart from this, the benefit derived from the slaughter of Ismail (a.s) was achieved merely through the readiness for slaughter. Both father and son, agreed respectively, to slaughter and be slaughtered. All the preparations were made and it was certain that they would practically do it the way it was supposed to be done. All this became very much clear even before the actual action. That is why, the Almighty Allah abrogated the slaughter after their intention became obvious, saying:

You have indeed shown the truth of the vision…18

He declared that He had achieved what He intended. Now if the slaughter were really to be taken to completion, it would be a useless act. It means that looking closely, no benefit was related to the slaughter in a way that it could only be achieved by its completion. In other words you can say that the slaughter itself was of no use. Whatever benefit was desired it was only related to the willingness of slaughter. On the other hand, the benefits of the great sacrifice of Karbala’ could not have been obtained without the completion of this sacrifice. Benefits and consequences of the sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s) that are mentioned above, all of them depended on the sacrifice of Husayn (a.s). In any case if the worth of a thing is estimated through its consequences and effects, if the actual status of deeds and actions depends on their results we would have to agree that ignoring other previous effects if you only consider the end results you have to say that the sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s) was indeed the reality and truth. It is not even remotely connected to exaggeration and poetry. Indeed this event is deserving from all angles that it should be given the certificate of perfection and along with the “great morals” of the paternal grandfather (the Prophet) the “great sacrifice” of the grandson (Husayn) should be recorded in Qur’an until the Day of Judgment because:

…Surely thus do We reward the doers of good.19

Communal Sacrifice

Prior to Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) there was no concept of determination to bear difficulties with cooperation, to say farewell to comfort and luxury in a communal manner for the sake of religious propagation and to sacrifice ones honor; there was no such thing in the world of religion. An impartial glance at the history of religions shows that the sacrifice of Ismail was the first incident when the family members of a Prophet helped him shoulder to shoulder to fulfill his aims according to his directions. Only three famous prophets had passed before this: (1) Prophet Adam (2) Prophet Idris and (3) Prophet Nuh (a.s). Apart from this we find the name of Prophet Lut (a.s) among the contemporaries.

There was no question of sacrifice before Prophet Adam (a.s). Although he had to try his best to impart training for his children. But in this aspect also he was all alone. His children also did not cooperate with him to the extent that could be expected in that simple age. The blatant murder committed by Qabeel is a clear proof of the absence of such cooperation. Lady Hawwa (Eve) also is not recorded to have presented any extraordinary efforts or sacrifice worthy of mention. At least we have no sources for such information.

Prophet Idris was also alone in the Herculean task of religious propagation. No clear or unclear proof can be presented of the cooperation of his family members.

Now the age of Prophet Nuh (a.s) arrived. He was faced with the task of reforming a community that was absolutely wayward. He expended all his powers for a period of 950 years to correct his nation and in lieu of the labors of inviting towards good he was given all sorts of calamities. Even stones were showered on him. He was targeted with malicious taunts and ridicules. However, all these things were aimed at Prophet Nuh (a.s) alone. His family members were absolutely unrelated with all this. Leave alone the mention of his “unrighteous son” who no more remained from his family. I am talking about his believer sons, Saam, Haam and Yafith. The list of their virtues is only limited to the fact that they had only brought faith. They were also similar to those eighty sincere people who had brought faith. It cannot however be said that the sons of Nuh (a.s) cooperated in his work and shared his difficulties. He had a wife who spied for the infidels and was a confidant of the enemies. The Holy Qur’an says:

Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter.20

This verse also provides the judgment about the family of Prophet Lut (a.s). He had no male issue, so no help could be expected from this quarter and the Holy Qur’an has already told us about the condition of his spouse. In other words, he was also alone in the field of religious propagation. That is why he had uttered in a sad tone:

Ah! That I had power to suppress you, rather I shall have recourse to a strong support.21

Keeping these circumstances in mind, we can add to the merits and superiorities to Prophet Ibrahim (a.s), the fact that he was the first Prophet who received total cooperation to fulfill a divine mission. The first display of this was at the time of the sacrifice of Ismail. The Almighty Allah says:

And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see.22

By saying, “consider then what you see” and by finding out the opinion of Ismail (a.s), Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) made his achievement a joint achievement of himself and his son. Otherwise it would have remained an achievement of only Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) and Prophet Ismail (a.s) would not have got any credit for it.

In the present form just as this incident shows the high divine recognition of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) in the same way it is a mirror of the self-discipline, high character, patience and forbearance of Ismail (a.s).

Anyway, this event was the foundation stone of cooperation and help of family members of a prophetic household with the prophets in the path of God, which was placed at the hands of Ismail (a.s). Those who succeeded him after this, continued to build upon this.

The helpers of Prophet Musa (a.s) from his relatives did not remain confined to the four walls of his house. The whole tribe of Bani Israel assembled under his leadership. Historical events and Qur’anic statements prove this fact.

No progress worth the mention took place in this regard during the period of Prophet Isa (a.s) because he was sent only as a Prophet for Bani Israel. His job, according to the New Testament was only that he brings back to the flock “the lost sheep of Bani Israel.” That is why his helpers and companions remained limited to the Bani Israel. During the holy period of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) the building of cooperation and partnership arose one more level, and not only do we find the family members of the Prophet among helpers in religion and only his tribes people but many people of other tribes are also seen. Except for Banu Umayyah, Bani Teem and Bani Adi there was hardly any tribe whose representatives did not cooperate and help in spreading the Islamic faith and strengthening it with their lives and property even though they may have been less in number.

However the aim of this writing is not to prove that every person who sat in the company of the Prophet was a helper. Indeed it would have been an occasion of great pride for me if the incidents had given me the chance to do so. I would have boasted to all the religions of the world that my Prophet was such that those who benefited from his company, those who obtained light from the effulgence of his guidance and those who saw the miracle of his leadership were such people that each was the devotee of truth, an ardent follower of Divine Recognition and one who considered every material thing inferior in the path of Allah and one who was ready to sacrifice his life and property over the command of God. But if I claim thus, my conscience would falsify me and there would be no solution for me except to bow down my head in shame.

Indeed, as far as the Prophet had raised the edifice of sacrifices, after that the only destination remained was that all the supporters that were there and all the friends he was having, all of them should be having the same opinion and same caliber. But for this purpose another half a century was required after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and there was need for the plains of Karbala’.

At last that day also arrived when the actual and perfect meaning of “Communal Sacrifice” was going to be presented to the world with all its fine points. Husayn (a.s) came to the plains of Karbala’ and along with him brought the aged, the young, the middle aged, children, women, men his relatives and strangers, Arabs and non-Arabs. He brought with him people of all ages and gender. Fathers, sons, uncles, nephews, maternal uncles, brothers, sisters, husband-wife, people of the family, tribesmen, co-religionists. In other words, people of every relationship were represented in Karbala’. All came carrying the same feelings in the heart. All came carrying the same longing for sacrifice. The companions of Husayn (a.s) had attached their hearts to the heart of Husayn (a.s) with some unknown magnetism, and that is why every heartbeat of Husayn (a.s) was creating turmoil in their hearts. They had made their vision the mirror of the vision of Husayn. That is why the center of their view was the point of view of Husayn (a.s). They had given the rein of their thoughts in the hands of Husayn (a.s), and they used to think only that which was according to the wish of Husayn (a.s). They had entrusted their actions and character under the actions and character of Husayn (a.s) and they did only what Husayn (a.s) did.

Ibrahim had given the opportunity to think and contemplate. Husayn (a.s) had also presented the details of the consequences of the confrontation to his companions. However, the responses were different. Saying: “You will find me of the patient ones,” Ismail (a.s) gave opportunity for the possibility that he considered the sacrifice a calamity for himself. But if you read the responses of the companions of Husayn (a.s) you will realize that they considered this sacrifice a welcome bounty. They were eager to die in the path of God. They had an ardent desire to have themselves beheaded for truth.

Imam Husayn (a.s) had reached a stage during his journey when slumber overtook him. When he awoke, he was uttering the words: Indeed we are for Allah and indeed we shall return to Him. His Eminence, ‘Ali Akbar asked the reason for reciting the Qur’anic verse. He replied, “I have heard a caller say: You are hastening forward and your death is hastening to take you towards Paradise.” His Eminence, ‘Ali Akbar asked, “O father! Are we not on truth?” The Imam replied, “Yes, son, by Allah, we are on the truth.” Now ‘Ali Akbar replied with such a great certainty and poise that his reply is sufficient to inculcate valor even in the dead hearts. He said, “Dear father, then we are not in the least worried of dying for the truth.”

On the eve of Ashura, Imam Husayn (a.s) released all his companions from his oath of allegiance and Zuhair Qayn, His Eminence, Abbas, Muslim bin Ausaja and many other companions and relatives representing all those present over there expressed the firmness of their intention to help and support the Imam (a.s). They emphatically declared this in forceful words. Imam Husayn (a.s) had told them, “All of you are going to be killed and none shall survive.” They replied happily, “Praise be to Allah, Who bestowed us the honor to be martyred with you.” Such an example has no equal in history of death. Anyway, this was a reply of the elders and grown-ups. Now I would like to mention about that lad who was more or less the same age of Ismail (a.s). That is, His Eminence, Qasim, who was hardly thirteen at that time. When on the eve of Ashura, Imam Husayn (a.s) prophesied the martyrdom of each person individually and but intentionally omitted the name of His Eminence, Qasim, he became restless and disconcerted and asked the Imam about it. Instead of replying Imam (a.s) asked him, “How do you regard death?” Now compare the response of this lad to that of Ismail (a.s). He replied immediately, “Dear uncle, (I regard death) sweeter than honey.” Only those who have taste could gauge the sweetness of the reply of this young boy. We would have to agree that just as the sacrifice of Karbala’ had a wide scope of communal participation, in the same way the level of enthusiasm of the participants was so high that its equal is not found anywhere and it is beyond imagination.

In any case, Imam Husayn (a.s) and his companions came with zeal and a united enthusiasm to the plains of Karbala’ to present their sacrifices. All of them showed such unity and similarity in words and deeds that Imam Husayn (a.s) had to confess this fact. Please recall that famous statement of the Holy Imam on the Ashura eve. “Indeed, I do not know whose companions were more loyal and better than mine. Or whose Ahl al-Bayt were more righteous and kind. So, may Allah give you a good recompense.”

Does this statement not announce that of all the buildings of sacrifice that had been constructed so far, this one was the loftiest of them? And events show that it was the last stage. The preface of sacrifice that Ismail (a.s) had written on the plains of Mina by his submission and will, it was concluded on the deserts of Karbala’ by Imam Husayn (a.s) and his companions with their own blood. This was the brilliant and effective end of that which had started with Ismail (a.s) and it was absolutely astonishing and magnificent. The whole world feels those facts and is compelled to confess its greatness. The world famous Persian and Urdu poet of the Indian Peninsula, Allamah Iqbal Lahori says regarding the ardent love for Almighty, which brought about this communal sacrifice in the following words:

“The end of it was Husayn

While its beginning was Ismail.”

  • 1. Surah Saffat 37:102
  • 2. Surah Saffat 37:103-105
  • 3. Surah Saffat 37:106-107
  • 4. Tafsir Kabir, Vol. 7, Pg. 160, Malimut Tanzil, Pg. 759, Durre Manthur, Vol. 5, Pg. 284
  • 5. Pg. 719, Urdu Translation of Holy Qur’an by Late Maulana Farman ‘Ali
  • 6. Surah Saffat 37:102
  • 7. Surah Hajj 22:37
  • 8. Surah Hijr 15:53
  • 9. Plural of Zakir, Speakers about the virtues of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and their afflictions, especially the Tragedy of Karbala’
  • 10. Surah Saffat 37:107
  • 11. Surah Baqarah 2:61
  • 12. Surah Saffat 37:102
  • 13. Surah Saffat 37:110
  • 14. Surah Baqarah 2:30
  • 15. Surah Saffat 37:103
  • 16. Surah Saffat 37:102
  • 17. Maniul Akhbar, quoted in Biharul Anwar
  • 18. Surah Saffat 37:105
  • 19. Surah Saffat 37:105
  • 20. Surah Tahrim 66:10
  • 21. Surah Hud 11:80
  • 22. Surah Saffat 37:102

Prophecies Regarding the Tragedy of Karbala’ from Ancient Books

As much great an event is, as much it is worthy of mention. A great proof of the importance of the tragedy of Karbala’ is also that not only the humans, jinns and angels have kept its remembrance alive, the Lord Creator of the Universe has continuously mentioned it in every time period. And not only the remembrance remained established after the event, it existed even before the event actually occurred and even before the birth of the Chief of the Martyrs (a.s). And not only that, it was present even before the creation of Adam. The Almighty mentioned about it to His chosen servants and informed them of those terrible events. The result derived from it is that the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) is so magnificent and significant in the view of the Lord that He likes to mention it time and again. Under such circumstances, those who keep this calamity fresh are actually acting in consonance with the desire and will of the Almighty and walking the straight path. And one who opposes its remembrance is acting against the divine practice.

In this article, I am going to quote in brief, prophecies present in the books of Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians regarding the events of Karbala’. And since the future events have proved the veracity of those prophecies there is no scope of doubt in their authenticity. This is also an example of Divine Power that even though the people who came later have made as much distortion in these books as they could, such that their form has completely changed and at last originality remains only in name, therefore abrogating these books, it became necessary for God to send the last book whose protection He Himself guaranteed. In spite of all those distortions, the prophecies regarding the last Prophet and his progeny still survived in those books so that if anyone contemplates upon these books with an unbiased mind he could reach the Last Guide of Humanity.

Mention of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) in Hindu Scriptures

Bhaunik Puran is a very ancient book of the Hindu religion. Its translation was accomplished into Urdu by Maulavi Abdur Rahman Chishti under the title of Miratul Makhlooqaat. This scholar was a prominent Sunni intellectual, well versed with the Sanskrit language. He writes in the preface to this book:

“I have read many of the Hindu books containing future events that were written during the times of Jinns and terrestrial angels. I conducted deep research into those books and found a book containing things in the tongue of “Bashast.” In its “Uttarkhand” it clearly mentions about the greatness and birth of His Eminence, Adam (a.s), our Prophet (s.a.w) and his Purified Progeny. Mahadev had related those things to his wife Parbati on Mount Kailash. And the saint “Bashast” Muni was engrossed in prayers below that same mountain. Since he was greatly devoted to Mahadev, he used to write down some of the things he heard from him.

This book contains all the events from the creation of Adam and the incident of Cain and Abel upto the events surrounding the life of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). He has described the nobility of His Eminence, Abdullah and even presented a detailed physical description of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). After that Mahadevi says:

“After six thousand years, the Almighty (God) will create a wonderful person among the children of Adam in Mundarne, which is between the seas.1…O Parbati, he will be from the loin of ‘Kant Bunjh’;2 and he (Abdullah) will have the piety and knowledge of God like a river; so (from that river) will emerge a pearl. And the name of his wife will be ‘Sank Rakhiya’3 And he (i.e. Abdullah) will have read three books; and he will leave the fourth book after reading only: ‘Alif Lam Mim’…O Parbati, he (i.e. Abdullah) will be a chief in his tribe; people from all villages will come to his door and will follow him. (Abdullah’s son) will have no fear of the creatures; he will be very brave and having the knowledge of Allah, and his name will be ‘MAHAMAT’. People will be astonished to see his style…And he will not worship as the people of his tribe will be worshipping and he will tell the people that, “I have been told by that Almighty and Only One (God) not to indulge in such senseless worship; and I am not turning but to Allah; therefore, you should follow me.”4 O Parbati, Mahamat will teach his own Shariat to all the creatures, by abrogating all ways of worship and all previous Shariats; and he will try to make all people follow him. Gradually, countless people will come into his religion, and many of them will reach God. And as people use our Sakh era, likewise, upto the end of Kaljug (the last era) people will use the era of Mahamat.5…O Parbati, after him (after the death of Muhammad’s son) the Almighty who has none like Him, will give a daughter6 to Mahamat who will be better than 1000 sons, and she will be very beautiful and matchless, and very perfect in the worship of God. Never shall she utter any wrong, and she will be protected from every sin—big or small; and through her father she will reach nearer to God. That Almighty (God) will give two sons7 to the daughter of Mahamat, both will be handsome and beloved of God, strong, having the knowledge of God, courageous, brave and matchless in the deeds of virtue. And the Almighty will not create, after them, any human being having such perfection in hidden and known virtues.

The same two sons of Mahamat will be his successors; and they will have numerous children; and they will bring people into the religion of Mahamat day by day by their true arguments; and they will illuminate the religion of Mahamat. And Mahamat will love them more than all his people, even more than his own daughter. And these two sons will be perfect in the religion of Mahamat; they will not do anything for their own pleasure, and all their utterances and deeds would be for the pleasure of the Almighty.

O Parbati, a few years after the death of Mahamat, some evil man will unjustly murder these grandsons of Mahamat without any cause; just for the sake of worldly greed; the whole world will become ‘headless’ by their death. Their killers will be ‘Maliksh’ atheists, cursed in both worlds; they will have no love for Mahamat and will never get deliverance from ‘Nark’ (i.e. Hell). But in appearance, they will remain in the religion of Mahamat, and gradually others also will follow them, and stubbornly will do many deeds against the way of Mahamat and his sons. Only a few people will remain on the path of Mahamat. Majority will follow the path of those who killed the sons of Mahamat; yet in appearance they will be called the followers of Mahamat; and in the last days of ‘kaljug’ (last era) there will be many of those hypocrites and they will create disturbance in the whole world.”

After that Mahadewji explains the appearance of Imam Mahdi; coming of Qiyamat and arrival into Paradise of Lady Fatima together with her followers.

The complete text of this portion is quoted by Maulana Rahat Husayn Gopalpuri in his Tafsir Anwarul Qur’an.

The Karbala’ Tragedy in Zoroastrian Books

Zoroaster or Zarathusht had been a Prophet of the Magians or Fire Worshippers. His successor was Hakim Jamasp. He was a contemporary of King Gustasp. This king had requested him to write in brief about the happenings of the future. Thus the book that he compiled is famous as Jamasp Nama. It was translated into Urdu by Mulla Wahidi, editor of Nizamul Mashayakh, Delhi. Jamasp says, “Then some stars would gather among whom from the children of Hashim, a young man shall be born. He shall be of medium stature. He shall neither be fair complexioned nor dark. He would be handsome, of pleasing speech and magical voice. He would claim prophethood, the proof shall be established with the sword’s edge. He shall put the chain of his religion around the necks of many people. His religion shall spread to all the seven continents. He shall be very fond of the fairer sex. None of his male children shall survive. However, his progeny shall continue through his daughter.”

After that he describes the dominance of the Islamic faith. Then he says:

“Some days after his demise, the Almighty God shall reach into the fifth constellation. Due to the effect of this, there shall be disturbance in his religion. His children shall be slain. His followers shall be made to suffer terrible losses.”

After the above discourse he goes on to describe the signs of the birth of the Last Prophet. The extinguishing of the fire in the fire temples, the drying up of the river, etc. Then he further says,

“After the passing away of this Prophet, the stars shall assemble in the terrestrial house of the constellation of Taurus. And the Lord shall arise in Venus and the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus and the man shall be in the eighth house. Venus along with the Sun shall be in the eleventh house. At that time there shall be discord in this community. Religion shall become a step-stone to rulership. People shall wage war against his son-in-law and there shall be great bloodshed. This son-in-law shall have two sons. One of whom shall be martyred by poison. The second one would be martyred along with his best companions in a desert. The opponent of the Prophet’s Progeny and the leader of those transgressors shall be a man of low morals, weak body and aged. This time is the period of the rule of the Saturn. Its effect is that whoever supports the truth or tries to restore the rights of the deprived people, would himself be destroyed and killed.”

Command of Old Testament to Commemorate Ashura Day

After the time of His Eminence, Musa (a.s) for many years the Jewish calendar began from the month of Rajab, and Moharram was their seventh month. Keeping in mind this point let us read the following verses of Leviticus 23:

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work; and you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.”

“And the Lord said to Moses, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement; it shall be for you a holy convocation and you shall afflict yourselves and present an offering by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whoever is not afflicted on this same day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves; on the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”8

Now we should contemplate upon this and decide that when before the occurrence of the event the Almighty God had even commanded the Jews to observe mourning from the evening of 9th of Muharram to the evening of the 10th, and also warned them that one who did not follow this advice shall be as if he has left their religion. Now that the event has actually occurred is it not incumbent on the Muslim community more than the Jewish community to observe the mourning? And if one fails to act upon this, would he not be as if he has left this religion? Except for those who in the words of Mahadewji: “Even though they pretend to be friends of Mahamat.”

References in New Testament regarding the Martyrdom of Husayn (a.s)

In the parlance of Christians, “New Testament” means “Injeel.” However, it is not “Injeel” that was revealed to Prophet Jesus (a.s). It is a collection of books and letters compiled by Christian scholars and companions of Prophet Jesus. The last book of this collection is “The Revelation to John” which is attributed to John the companion of Jesus. It begins with the following words:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.”9

This book contains only allegories and similes. Christian scholars have tried to write commentaries on this and offered explanations but some points yet remain unexplained in their writings. Our scholars have also interpreted it and it shows that the twelfth and thirteenth chapter deals with the history of Islam from the birth of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) to the end of the reign of Bani Umayyads. Hujjatul Islam, Maulana Sayyid Rahat Husayn (t.s.) has explained it in the 15th preface of his prefaces in his Tafsir Anwarul Qur’an. He has mentioned the text of ‘revelations’ in the book and written its interpretation in the margins. I have depended upon the author’s writings a great deal but mentioned the interpretations of the revelations in brackets. Because it would have been very inconvenient for the readers to read the text and the interpretations separately. Thus, John says in the beginning of the twelfth chapter of Revelations:

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman (prophethood) clothed with the sun (divine help was covering it), with the moon under her feet (Lady Fatima), and on her head a crown of twelve stars (meaning the twelve Imams would have authority in religion); she was with a child (waiting for advent) and she cried out in her pangs of birth (the time of advent was near), in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon (infidels of Quraish), with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.10 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death (they got martyred in the propagation of faith).”11

After more prophecies, the twelfth chapter comes to an end and the thirteenth chapter begins with an account of Bani Umayyads. In this portion, Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan who consolidated the Umayyad rule for the second time is compared to a beast having ten horns and seven heads. Explaining this in the seventeenth chapter, it is said that the seven heads signify seven kings and the ten horns are also ten kings. Thus altogether it adds upto seventeen rulers. And that beast is the eighth ruler, who is born from the seventh one. Now please note that seven rulers passed before Abdul Malik and the kingdom of Abdul Malik was a result of their past kingdoms, otherwise he would not have been able to achieve anything. Apart from this, he was born from the seventh ruler, that is Marwan bin Hakam and thus he himself was the eighth ruler. And after Marwan there were ten kings including Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan as follows: (1) Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan (2) Walid bin Abdul Malik (3) Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik (4) Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (5) Yazid Ibn Abdul Malik (6) Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik (7) Walid Ibn Yazid Ibn Abdul Malik (8) Yazid Ibn Walid Ibn Abdul Malik (9) Ibrahim Ibn Walid Ibn Abdul Malik (10) Marwan al-Himar. Thus this allegory and comparison perfectly fits this clan. In addition to this at the end of this same thirteenth chapter is the following sentence, “This calls for wisdom: Let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six (666).”

The following would show that the number 666 stands for the name of Abdul Malik:

Abdul (76) Malik (121) Bin (52) Marwan (297) Bin (52) Hakam (68) = 666.

Anyway, I am quoting the relevant portions of the thirteenth chapter of Revelation to John 13:

“And I saw a beast (Abdul Malik) rising out of the sea (of disbelief), with ten horns (ten successors) and seven heads (predecessors), with ten diadems upon its horns (all were kings) and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon (Quraish) gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound (that is the third caliph was killed), but its mortal wound was healed (the kingdom again returned to them and Muawiyah became the king), and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon (they returned to the customs of the period of Ignorance), for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words (abusing ‘Ali was well known activity of the Umayyads), and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven (Ahl al-Bayt). Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life (faith) of the Lamb (Imam Husayn) that was slain. (All those who do not have faith in Imam Husayn would follow Abdul Malik) If any one has an ear, let him hear:

If any one is to be taken captive,

to captivity he goes;

If any one slays with the sword,

with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

After this, there is detailed explanation of Hajjaj Bin Yusuf and his atrocities. But this much is sufficient for our purpose. In all these four books the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) is mentioned in a way that acknowledges its greatness and expresses love towards him while the enemies and killers of the Holy Imam (a.s) are mentioned with disdain and malice. A noteworthy point is that wherever there is mention of prophethood and advent of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) it is invariably accompanied by the mention of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). And according to the statements of both Mahadewji and St. John, it was this martyrdom, which has secured and strengthened the religion of Muhammad. And this was not a poetic composition but the actual expression of the truth and facts that these great religious leaders have perfectly done in a way that was deserving for it. If only their followers had followed their teachings and adopted the Straight Path. And if only the Muslims had recognized the significance of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) in the true sense.

  • 1. Arab is surrounded on three sides by the sea.
  • 2. ‘Kant Bunjh’ means ‘Servant of God’, which, in Arabic becomes “Abdullah” Abdullah was the name of the father of the Holy Prophet.
  • 3. ‘Sank Rakhiya’ means ‘Peaceful’ which in Arabic is ‘Amina.’ Name of the mother of the Holy Prophet was ‘Amina.’
  • 4. Compare it with the ayat of the Qur’an:
    “Say: I am commanded to worship God, and not to join partners with Him. Unto Him do I call, and unto Him is my return.” (13:36)
  • 5. i.e. era of Hijra
  • 6. Fatima, the lady of Paradise, the Chief of all the women.
  • 7. Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s.)
  • 8. Leviticus 23:23-32
  • 9. The Revelation to John: 1
  • 10. Signifying the very first three enemies of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and Muawiyah, Yazid, Abdullah bin Zubair and Marwan bin al-Hakam.
  • 11. Revelation 12:1-11

Why the Martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) became Immortal?

[This speech was broadcast from the Nairobi (Kenya) Radio on the eve of Ashura, 1383 A.H.]

Since the beginning of creation until date, innumerable tragic incidents have occurred in the world. But in these tales of sorrows and tragedies the events of Karbala’ are seen to be as prominent as the moon among the cluster of stars. Human nature demands that happy remembrances should always be retold and tragic reminders be obliterated from the memory as soon as possible. However, this law of nature had no control on the tragedy of Karbala’. Today, even after a passage of thirteen centuries every year this tragedy is remembered with such fervor as if it has just happened yesterday.

Indeed this is an astonishing fact. But if we ponder upon it we would be able to realize how the control of human nature became ineffective in this case. The significance and endurance of a sacrifice depends upon the significance and firmness of its aims. Some sacrifices are presented for worldly aims and such sacrifices take man towards decadence. The Almighty Allah says:

“Who created for you all that is in the earth…1

Now if instead of considering these worldly things as our servants, we destroy our life in their service, such a sacrifice, instead of carrying any greatness would be eligible for denouncement because we have considered our life inferior to those things that were created for our service. The greatness of man demands that he should consider worldly things as means of life and not that he should make it the aim of his life. In the Islamic parlance it is the stage of, “There is no god except Allah.” And reaching this point man thinks that the whole universe collectively cannot become equal to the value of a single human being. The aim of the life of man should be higher than the universe and such a being is only the Creator of the Universe. After, “There is no god” it is the stage of “except Allah.” To put it in a different way,

“Say: Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds…”2

The purpose is to imply that you must make the principle of your life such that all your worship acts, rituals, life and death etc. should be for Allah, Who is the Lord of the worlds. In other words, the entire universe is for man and man is for the Lord of the worlds.

The world is transient. Everything here is going to be destroyed. If a sacrifice is made for these things that also shall be transient and not eternal. Its remembrance would be finished in a few days. Contrary to this, the Creator of the world is eternal. He is from eternity and He shall be there forever. Therefore whatever sacrifice is presented on His path, that too shall don the raiments of eternality and its remembrance would also endure forever. Its remembrance shall also remain fresh in the minds of all. That is why the Almighty Allah says:

And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive.3

That is why the sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s) is always fresh. Husayn (a.s) made Allah as the aim of his life and presented incomparable sacrifices in the path of Allah. In recompense, the Almighty Allah also crowned the remembrance of Husayn with the crown of eternality.

Why had Husayn (a.s) presented this sacrifice? Let us see what Husayn (a.s) himself says about it. At the time when he was departing from Medina, he wrote a bequest to his brother, Muhammad Hanafiyyah. Some of the sentences of this testament were as follows:

“…I am not taking up arms in order to make merry, or be ecstatic over what I possess. I am not making mischief, nor exercising oppression. But I am ready to fight for the sole goal of seeking reform of the Ummah of my grandfather, the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather and father were doing.”

This event began in the year 60 A.H. when Yazid ascended to the throne. The enthroning of Yazid was a terrible calamity for humanity and Islam. Historians are unanimous that no aspect of Yazid’s character conformed to humanity or Islam. He neither believed in Allah nor had faith in the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). He also denied faith in the Day of Judgment and Hereafter. He used to ridicule Prayer and those who recited Prayer. Wine was served openly in his court. Chess and gambling were obligatory acts in his view. Stepmothers and sisters were sexually legitimate for him. He remained on the throne for three or three and a half years. During this brief rule, in the first year he wreaked havoc on the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and slaughtered them with utter mercilessness. He wrought a carnage for which we are mourning these days. It was such a terrible carnage that human history had never witnessed. In the second year, he had Medina attacked and allowed his soldiers to plunder and ransack, kill the inhabitants and rape their ladies. Hundreds of companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and memorizers of Qur’an were put under the sword. Prayer was not conducted in the Prophet’s mosque for three days at a stretch as Yazid’s soldiers had converted it into a stable for their horses. Thousands of women lost their honor and the Medinites were compelled to pay oath of allegiance to Yazid in the words, “We are slaves of Yazid. If he likes he can sell us and if he wants he can release us.” In the third year of his rule, Yazid’s forces attacked Mecca and laid siege to it. Catapults were employed to throw fireballs on the Holy Ka’ba, which was consequently damaged. The siege was in process when Yazid died in Damascus.

This was a brief sketch of Yazid’s biography. How the times had changed and how the circumstances became inverted that such a person should demand allegiance from Husayn (a.s)!

Who was Husayn? The beloved one of ‘Ali and Fatima (a.s) and in the words of Qur’an, the son of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). He was absolutely sinless and had scaled the heights of purity of self and the best of deeds. Love and regard towards him is made obligatory for the Muslims. According to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) Husayn was from the Prophet and the Prophet was from Husayn (a.s). In other words, every saying of Husayn was the saying of the Prophet and every action of Husayn was the action of the Prophet. That is why Yazid was so keen to obtain the allegiance of Husayn. Because he felt that if Husayn gave him allegiance, each of his acts, beliefs and policies would get the seal of approval of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Husayn was also aware of this fact and thus he refused to give allegiance, and as a result bore with absolute resignation and tranquility, the mountains of calamities that befell him.

He had to leave Medina. He had to bid farewell to the shrine of his maternal grandfather, the grave of his mother and the tomb of his brother. Then he took refuge in the Holy city of Mecca. Here also no security was found, because Yazid sent 30 militants in the garb of pilgrims to assassinate Imam Husayn (a.s) in Mecca. They were ordered to kill Husayn (a.s) even if he was found circumambulating the Ka’ba. Husayn (a.s) was compelled to leave Mecca along with his family members one day before the Hajj and he headed for Iraq. On the way his path was blocked by the forces of Yazid. This army consisted of a thousand men. When they reached the caravan of Husayn (a.s) they were dying of thirst as their water supply had been exhausted. The riders’ condition was serious due to the thirst. The horses were hanging out their tongues. It was the army of foes but the son of the great Prophet of Mercy could never allow them to perish of thirst. He ordered that not only the men buts their beasts also be provided ample water. Husayn (a.s) himself organized the distribution of water.

Followed by these enemy forces, Imam Husayn (a.s) reached the plains of Karbala’ on the 2nd of Muharram. Forces dispatched by Yazid’s governor, Ibn Ziyad began to assemble in this area one after the other. In a few days, their numbers rose to 32000, who had gathered to slay a few oppressed people, among whom were aged men, children and women, totaling not more than 100-150 persons. The tents of Husayn’s group were initially removed to a point far away from the riverbanks. From the 7th Muharram onwards water supply was completely cut off for them. From the 8th of Muharram the cries of “Thirst! Thirst!” from the children of Husayn’s camp began to echo in the deserts of Karbala’. The same Husayn (a.s) who had provided drinking water to even the enemy forces was not unable to procure any water for his children and companions.

The next day was the 9th of Muharram. During the afternoon, Umar Ibn Saad, the commander of Yazidite forces prepared his army to attack the entourage of Husayn (a.s). Imam Husayn (a.s) asked for a night’s respite to enable them to engage in the worship of Almighty. The eve of Ashura arrived. The camp of Husayn (a.s) buzzed with the recital of the Holy Qur’an, the chanting of invocations, ritual prayers and worship acts. People who have recorded those incidents say that such murmur arose from the tents of Husayn (a.s) as if bees were humming around the beehives.

In between these adorations and worships, Imam Husayn (a.s) assembled all his companions and relatives and recited a sermon, which, in brief said that Yazid did not have anything to do with them except the Holy Imam (a.s). Thus they must not endanger their lives. Husayn (a.s) released them from his allegiance and told them that all of them could leave him and go away wherever they liked so that their lives could be saved. The Imam explained to them in various ways so that they may leave him and obtain their survival. In the end he even extinguished the lamp so that they could leave in the cover of darkness if they are embarrassed otherwise. In reply to this, a wail arose from the gathering and different people stood up and reiterated their faith and loyalty to the Imam. Their wordings were different, their voices were various. But the aim of all of them was one and the same, that, “O Master! This is dying only once and achieving eternal success. Even if we are killed seventy times and our corpses are burnt and ashes scattered in the wind and after that again we are enlivened, we would not leave you ever.”

By according freedom of action to his companions and relatives, Imam Husayn (a.s) performed the same duty that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) had performed by seeking the opinion of Ismail (a.s). Ibrahim (a.s) could have sacrificed his son without informing him about it. But in that case it would have been only the achievement of Ibrahim (a.s) and it would not have been shared by Ismail (a.s). Ibrahim (a.s), by taking the opinion of his son and the son by expressing his willingness for slaughter, made it a model of partnership between the Friend (of God) and the slaughtered one (Ismail). Exactly in the same manner, Imam Husayn (a.s) also, by according permission to them all to leave Karbala’, and the companions by expressing their determination to voluntarily lay down their lives, made this event a model of a shared sacrifice. That is why Iqbal the bard of the orient says:

“The end of it is Husayn and the beginning, Ismail.”

The morning of Ashura was the day of terrible turmoil. By shooting the first arrow, Umar Ibn Saad initiated the battle. Initially the companions of Imam Husayn (a.s) laid down their lives one after the other. In the afternoon, it was the turn of Banu Hashim (or more precisely the progeny of Abu Talib). The progeny of Aqil became extinct from the world. The beloved sons of Zainab were smeared in their blood. The last remains of Qasim were trampled under horses. The sons of ‘Ali (a.s) praised the bravery. Abbas lost both his arms in his struggle to get drinking water for children and the lion of ‘Ali (a.s) after capturing the Euphrates went to sleep on the riverbanks. The image of the Prophet, ‘Ali Akbar, arrived in the battlefield. The people witnessed the same valor of ‘Ali (a.s). At last a dagger pierced the chest and the shattered facsimile of the Holy Prophet, after being smeared with blood, mixed into the sands of Karbala’.

Now ‘Ali Asghar heard the call of his father for help and made himself fall off the cradle. Husayn (a.s) could not bear to see the thirst of the six-month old infant. He brought the child to the fields shading him with the tails of his cloak and asked for water for the child. Instead of giving water, Hurmula quenched the baby’s thirst with an arrow. This arrow not only pierced the neck of ‘Ali Asghar and the shoulder of Husayn (a.s), it also pierced the heart of Fatima (s.a.).

Now Husayn (a.s) pounced upon the forces of Yazid like a heavy flood. He launched three such deadly attacks that the enemy forces began to feel helpless. The time of Asr (late afternoon) approached. Husayn (a.s) was covered with wounds from the head to the toe. Incessant bleeding made him feel physically weak. He restrained his sword for a moment and the enemies began to shower him with arrows and stones from all sides. At last the moment arrived that a poet says,

The rider of the Prophet’s shoulders has come down from the saddle.

If I am not wrong, it is as if the sky has fallen to the earth.

Shimr exhibited such heartlessness that the heavens and the earth were in turmoil. A call echoed in the atmosphere:

Know that Husayn is slain in Karbala’!

Know that Husayn is slaughtered in Karbala’!

The world became empty of Husayn (a.s).

After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), the enemies began to plunder his camp and his women and children. The tents were burnt down. Head coverings were snatched from the heads of the Prophet’s daughters. The ailing son of Husayn (a.s) was arrested and tied up in chains and iron-collars.

Now the terrible night fell, which is called “Shaam-e-Ghariba” (the night of the homeless). Yesterday, Husayn (a.s) had been present to protect the folks of Harem.4 There was Abbas and ‘Ali Akbar. The companions and helpers were also present. Today none remained. After Husayn (a.s), the responsibility of this plundered group and the defense of Islam fell upon Zainab. Zainab fulfilled her role in such a beautiful way that the world gave her the title of “Partner of Husayn.”

This apparent defeat of Husayn (a.s) was actually a magnificent victory. See, Yazid was demanding allegiance from Husayn (a.s) and his companions. Though Imam Husayn (a.s) was martyred, when his successor, the ailing Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) was brought chained before Yazid, Yazid could not summon the courage to demand allegiance from him. Yazid and his cohorts had to give up their demands. Husayn and his supporters remained firm on their stance. What can be a better proof than this of the victory of Husayn (a.s) and the defeat of Yazid? That is probably why Mir Anees said about the holy Imam:

“He suppressed Byzantine and Syria with such ferocity

That Jihad was not required from the remaining nine Imams.”

  • 1. Surah Baqarah 2:29
  • 2. Surah Anam 6:162
  • 3. Surah Baqarah 2:154
  • 4. Ladies and children

Effect of Husayn’s Martyrdom on the Principle of Caliphate

In the past nations the appointment of the prophet’s caliph depended on divine will conveyed through divine text. At least this is what is proved from the stories and incidents of the Qur’an and other ancient books. Basically the same method should have been applicable for this nation also.

…the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation…1

And it is a fact. Thus the announcement:

Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter…2

It limits the responsibilities of creation and selection to the Being of the Almighty. And as for the firm text:

And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying.3

It does not even permit the intellectuals to say anything about caliphate.

On the basis of this alone the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) in Ghadeer Khumm acting upon the command of:

O Apostle! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord…4

Appointed Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) as his successor before thousands of people. And the unambiguous statement of: ‘Of whomsoever I am the master, this ‘Ali is also his master’ did not have any scope for doubt and uncertainty. Even those who had some ulterior plans for the future were compelled to say: “Congratulations to you, O ‘Ali, today you have become my master and the master of all the believing men and women.”

However, this expression of faith and confession during the lifetime of the Prophet very soon after his departure from the world was sacrificed at the altar of selfish motives. The time arrived to snatch the reins of power from the hands of the legatee of the Prophet so that their evil wishes may be fulfilled. On the other hand ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) was busy in the funeral arrangements while some people with vested interests assembled in Saqifah Bani Sa’dah to fight over the caliphate. After numerous bitter arguments and fights, the high handedness of Umar at last placed the crown of caliphate on the head of Abu Bakr. And in this way, in place of the ancient principle of “divine appointment” the self-made principle of “consensus” was forced upon the community.

Now the time of Abu Bakr’s demise approached. In consonance with the principle of:

Is the reward of goodness aught but goodness?5

Abu Bakr wanted to see Umar occupying his place after him. But…someone should not consider “divine appointment” and “testament of the previous caliph” as synonymous. Because the one who becomes a caliph on the basis of the testament of the previous caliph, his caliphate depends only on this testament. The previous caliph only by his command compels the community to submit before the caliph of his choice and in this way all the responsibility of appointing the caliph and all the choice come together in the being of the former caliph. God and His Prophet have no connection with it. On the contrary, even though the revealing of “divine appointment” is based on the statement of the Prophet or the previous Imam, the actual choices of appointment and actual responsibilities are confined to the Being of the Almighty, and the Prophet or the previous Imam is only having a position of mouthpiece or informant in this matter and this difference is sufficient for the superiority of these two.

The circumstances were such that nothing could be done about it.6

The problem was that due to the negative reputation of Umar it was very unlikely that the method of “consensus” would help him in obtaining caliphate. Therefore, after two years and some months, ignoring the same principle of “consensus”, the former caliph appointed Umar as his successor through bequest.

And now it began to be said that along with consensus, the testament of the previous caliph is also an acceptable and valid method of caliphate.

In any case, some time passed in this way. Until the time Umar was wounded and felt his death approaching fast. Like before, this time too the staging of consensus was not risk-free. Umar’s statement that: ‘Now, the allegiance of Abu Bakr was an accident and Allah saved the people from its mischief,’ conveys this same precaution. It should not happen that the claimant appointed by the Prophet should succeed. There were other contingencies also that only Umar understood, that he did not want to himself make a bequest for anyone in particular. That is why, “This time the caliphate took up a new form and a committee of six persons was formed. Though apparently ‘Ali was also included in it, the rulers were such that only the one who was having the same opinions as Umar, had any chance to succeed.”

This incident on one hand bestowed caliphate to Uthman and on the other provided the community with yet another principle of caliphal appointment. Now along with consensus and testament, the ‘Shura’ also became a valid method of appointing a caliph.

Since at the end of the third period, the Islamic community has thrown aside from its neck every illegal compulsion and influence and the slain caliph had not been able to make arrangement for the next caliph after him according to his wishes, all the Muslims unanimously submitted to the original caliph selected by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). However, in this long period, moods had changed and a caliphate based on justice and truth was problematic to people inclined towards falsehood, therefore, first of all Talha and Zubair instigated Ayesha to participate in the Battle of Jamal so that this caliphate may be exterminated. After that Muawiyah began to enact bloody dramas on the plains of Siffeen.

Those who considered Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) as the Prophet’s successor according to “divine appointment”, for them everyone who forsook the legitimate caliph deserved the death penalty. But those who considered consensus as the basis of this caliphate, for them these battles were very patience-testing. Because it was harming their self-conceited beliefs of “all companions are just” and “My companions are like stars, you follow anyone and you shall achieve guidance.” Therefore in order to give legitimacy to this method, a supposed prophetic tradition was obtained that: “If allegiance is given to two claimants of caliphate at the same time, then war must be waged against the one whose allegiance is later.”7

Note this! Those battles provided yet another criterion of caliphate.

After the martyrdom of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), Imam Hasan (a.s) reached the position of Imamate according to “divine appointment.” The intrigues of Muawiyah compelled the military officials of Imam Hasan (a.s) to act as his agents and Imam Hasan (a.s) could not have any choice but sign the treaty with Muawiyah and abdicate. According to the rule of: “whatever happened is appropriate and legal”, Muawiyah who had become eligible for death penalty due to the rule of: “When two persons reach caliphate…”, now was the rightful caliph. In order to accord legitimacy to his caliphate, which was achieved through fraud and deceit, the fourth principle of “force and power” was added to the legal methods of attaining caliphate.

(2) The most significant aspect of the British Constitution is that there are many things in it such that no details are written about them. Whatever tradition has continued from the past governments has become a precedent for the future governments. So much so that there is no explanation even about the post of the Prime Minister and his duties and rights and the axis of the British kingdom rests only on tradition. That is why it is called the unwritten constitution and the scholars of civilization consider it a unique example of its kind. However, probably they do not know that 1300 years ago the Muslim majority also, in designing the principle of caliphate had presented such an example of not only “unwritten constitution”, but also an unsettled constitution that its equal has not been seen yet.

After getting deviated from the straight path the further you go the further you shall become from destination. From 11 A.H. to 41 A.H. the Muslim majority continued to wander like the Bani Israel of the valley of Tiyah, and remained ignorant of the path of salvation. People of a discerning mind would have noted that the events did not conform to principles, rather the principles were made to conform to the events. In this brief time period, from testament to consensus and until force and power, no principle remained but that it was put into practice and taken advantage of depending upon the existing circumstances and contingencies. In the present laws of governance, I also do not know of any method, which is beyond those principles. Consequently, today every Muslim ruler is eligible to call himself “caliph of the Prophet” and no acceptable reason could be presented to expel him from this circle. The result of this all-embracing nature of the principle of caliphate was that Yazid also became the “caliph of the Muslims” and he, in fact, has conformed most to the principles of caliphate.8

Of the four elements of caliphate, Muawiyah, under the pretext of Hajj undertook a journey to Hijaz and he deceived the people there with his golden diplomacy to fulfill the condition of consensus. “Testament” was something that is for the time of death. That was also fulfilled at the deathbed. Also in a prolonged struggle Yazid achieved such power and force that the Islamic history fails to show anything equal to it.

In this connection, the following statements of Muawiyah are worth noting:

“O my son! I have made the stiff necks to humble for you. I have made the towns firm on your caliphate, and this kingdom and whatever it contains, is made into a tasty morsel for you.”9

In brief, it could be said that the child of Saqifah consensus was bred in the lap of “Shura” with the support of Muawiyah’s bequest and reached the highest stages of “force and domination.” And in this way his person was a synthesis of all the ‘principles of caliphate’.

(3) All the caliphs that preceded Yazid could fulfill only one of the principles of caliphate. Abu Bakr hid behind “consensus”, Umar was made the caliph by testament, Uthman reached the venerable position with the help of “Shura” (consultative committee) and Muawiyah obtained caliphate through force and domination.

If the appointed successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had expressed his aloofness from these principles and in order to prove their falsity taken practical steps and armed struggle against the above caliphs there would have been only two possibilities, martyrdom or victory. And both these would have created some very dangerous misunderstandings.

If Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) or Imam Hasan (a.s) had confronted a particular caliph and got themselves martyred, people would have thought that these gentlemen only considered that particular principle illegitimate, through which that person had become a caliph. And they would have considered other methods valid and correct. What else could be concluded from their silence in other methods and opposing one method?

Also if each of them had opposed one caliph and as a result laid down their lives to martyrdom, in addition to other drawbacks it would have given birth to the accusation that these people, generation after generation have made it a habit to rise up for rulership and their practical protest would have been labeled as “family tradition”, reducing its significance and, by giving it a political color, destroyed its religious and divine status.

And if in both cases, instead of martyrdom, they had achieved victory, and if these gentlemen had succeeded in taking over the administration and control of this apparent caliphate this would have been, in fact, the greatest failure because in that case the public would have considered their caliphate to be based on force and domination. They would have forgotten that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has mentioned their “divine appointment.” They would have only considered the immediate cause. In this way, if a false principle was aimed to be destroyed, another one would have come into existence at their own hands and it would have been a great catastrophe.

That is why, in order to remove all misconceptions about their acceptance, they continued to protest verbally but they did not pay attention to any practical or military step in this regard.

The method of divine will towards falsehood is that no haste is exercised in taking revenge. Rather opportunities are created, respite is given, and restraint is exercised. Until the time falsehood reaches its pinnacle and a stage when there is no possibility of its return to truth. At that time it is given such a kick that all its foundations are demolished and it is made a lesson for all those who seek it:

And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement.10

The hidden wisdom is that, falsehood in its initial stages, resembles truth in such a way that a cursory glance cannot distinguish between the two. “Doubt is named doubt because it resembles truth.”11 And during this period its uprooting will not create any beneficial results. Therefore, Providence waits for a time when falsehood reaches such a high stage that it seems to be superior to truth:

That Allah might separate the impure from the good, and put the impure, some of it upon the other, and pile it up together, then cast it into hell…12

According to:

And you do not please except that Allah please…13

The caliphs appointed by the Messenger also followed this method. Abu Bakr and Umar etc. used to call themselves followers of Islam and to some extent acted upon its apparent rituals. In that period, falsehood had not completely separated from truth and Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had to wait for that time when the deep veil is removed from the face of falsehood. Imam Hasan (a.s) also spent his life in truce, waiting for the same and Imam Husayn (a.s) also remained quiet for ten years due to the same reason. Until the time after Muawiyah’s death, when the seat of caliphate became soiled with the feet of Yazid. The time finally arrived for which the caliphs of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had been waiting.

(4) If you glance at the battle of Karbala’ from the angle of the principles of caliphate you will see that on one side is Yazid behind whose back is the ferocious wolf of “consensus”, shielded by the excuse of “Shura”, having the support of bequest and the facade of “force and domination.”

On the other hand is Husayn (a.s) who is the claimant of Imamate but instead of being shielded by any self-concocted formula he has with him only the “appointment of the Messenger.” His companions have the collar of his allegiance but this allegiance is not like the principles of ‘consensus’ based on the “previous allegiance” so that it be said that it was given after the allegiance of Yazid.

Now let us see the features of both the parties in the mirror of reality.

You will see that even though Husayn (a.s) was unarmed of all those supposed proofs, but according to the sayings of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) his reputed personality was deserving of honor and respect of all the Muslims without any exception. The verse of purification is witness on the purity of his actions.

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.14

The verse of Malediction has certified that he is the son of the Messenger.

Come let us call our sons and your sons…15

The verse of Devotion (Mawaddah) says that love and devotion towards him is obligatory on all.

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…16

His expedients are expedients of the Messenger. “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.” He is a blossom (beloved) of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). “The two of them are blossoms.” He is the leader of the youths of Paradise. “Hasan and Husayn are the chiefs of the youths of Paradise.” And finally the following saying of the Prophet is a clear proof for his Imamate, “The two of them are Imams, be they sitting or standing.” On the other hand Yazid, though he was a caliph of Muslims conforming to the laid down ‘principles’, his evil deeds were known to all. Among his black handiworks, apart from destroying the Prophet’s family are numerous other deeds. Some of them are mentioned below for the readers: (1) He was a denier in the coming of angels and revelation. (2) He considered the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) as a pretext to obtaining temporal power and kingdom. (3) He imbibed wine openly. (4) He was an ardent fan of chess and music. (5) He loved dance and lute. (6) He committed incest. (7) He played with dogs and monkeys. (9) He dishonored the sanctified Mecca. (10) He showered the Holy Ka’ba with burning missiles and its curtain was burnt down and its building suffered serious damage. (11) He defiled the sanctity of the tomb of the Prophet. (12) He converted the Prophet’s mosque into a stable. (13) He martyred hundreds of companions. (14) After his forces attacked Medina, one thousand illegitimate children were born due to the rapes committed by them on Medinite ladies.

All the above atrocities are recorded in the pages of Islamic history.

Husayn (a.s), with his magnificent personality, arrayed himself to confront Yazid. By this step he removed the veils from the eyes of unaware Muslims. Though ‘principles’ demanded that Yazid should be accorded a greater status than the first three caliphs, the fact was that, leave alone calling him a caliph, it was hardly right to call him a human being.

There is a tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) accepted as authentic by both the sects (Shia and Sunni) that:

“One who dies without recognizing the Imam of the time, dies the death of ignorance.” If Husayn (a.s) who confronted Yazid while claiming Imamate and even after being martyred not only became eligible for Paradise, but he himself is the Chief of the youths of Paradise, it clearly implied that Yazid was definitely not the Imam of his time. And since the claim of Imamate and caliphate was limited to Husayn and Yazid, its absence in Yazid necessarily proves the Imamate of Husayn (a.s).

But the problem is that this matter does not end here. The caliphate of Yazid, as I have mentioned time and again, was a collection of consensus, Shura, testament and force and domination. While Husayn (a.s) considered his Imamate to have divine sanction. Therefore the success of Husayn (a.s) could not be said to be the personal victory of Husayn (a.s) alone. In fact it was the victory of ‘divine appointment’. Victory, against whom? Against ‘consensus’, against ‘Shura’, against ‘nomination’ and against ‘force and domination’. On the day of Ashura the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) by defeating all those false deities clarified the rightfulness of Qur’anic principle of ‘divine appointment’.

The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).17

The sycophants of Yazid’s time were another matter, today all the Islamic world is unanimous that by his sacrifice, Husayn (a.s) made fresh blood to flow in the dead veins of Islam; although Yazid had, by his words and deeds, left no stone unturned to bury it alive. Today the word ‘Yazid’ is considered an abusive epithet and the name of Husayn (a.s) with all its magnificence has covered the whole humanity. And along with this, the world is also compelled to submit to the principles that were saved by the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s).

This essay is throughout ‘scholastic’. Historical events are mentioned as backgrounds; therefore even the lengthiest narrations are condensed and presented in the briefest form. In this way the actual texts are disregarded. On the basis of historical popularity, most of the incidents are presented without providing references, however if anyone is interested he or she may refer to the books of history for complete details and they may also refer to the author’s book, Imamate.

  • 1. Surah Rum 30:30
  • 2. Surah Aale Imran 3:47
  • 3. Surah Ahzab 33:36
  • 4. Surah Maidah 5:67
  • 5. Surah Rahman 55:60
  • 6. Urdu couplet
  • 7. Marratul Tahqeeq
  • 8. For details refer to books of Islamic History like, Tarikh Ibne Khaldun, Tarikh Asim Kufi and Tarikh Tabari etc.
  • 9. Amali, Saduq and all books of Islamic history
  • 10. Surah Aale Imran 3:178
  • 11. Nahjul Balagha
  • 12. Surah Anfal 8:37
  • 13. Surah Insan 76:30
  • 14. Surah Ahzab 33:33
  • 15. Surah Aale Imran 3:61
  • 16. Surah Shura 42:23
  • 17. Surah Bani Israel 17:81

Azadari and Innovation

On the day of Ashura the drums of victory were beating in the army of Yazid and wails arose from the camps of Husayn (a.s). But very soon the eyes of the world also saw that in spite of having used unlimited material means, Yazid failed miserably to vanquish Husayn (a.s). Neither could Yazidism take away the magnificent remembrance of Husayn (a.s) from the hearts, nor could it erase the sanctified mention from the tongues. Peace be on the slain one whose tomb lies in the hearts of his devotees. History testifies that from the time of Yazid until date, in every period and every century an organized propaganda is unleashed so that people do not continue to remember Husayn (a.s), but we see that day by day this name continues to become more and more illuminated, and the devotion towards Husayn (a.s) appeals to people of all faiths and communities.

They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse.1

Every dry and wet thing shall flow away in the flood of death. However the name of Husayn Ibn ‘Ali shall remain intact.2

For sometime the communal riots had silenced the flames of opposition to Azadari3 but recent news reports suggest that as soon as peace returned this spark is again ignited and blown by the selfish motives to demolish the structure of Islamic unity. Now vested interests have started calling the custom of Azadari to be a religious innovation.

These opponents of Azadari beguile the masses by saying that weeping is an innovation, Ta’ziyah4 is an innovation, Alam5 is an innovation, Majlis6 is an innovation, Ma’tam7 is an innovation, this is an innovation, that is an innovation. Thus for these people wearing the glasses of bigotry everything in the rituals of Azadari seems to be innovation and nothing else. And they are so much terrified of the furor of innovation that even before the commencement of Muharram these people depart for a tour of the countryside.

First of all I invite the people of taste to contemplate that even if Azadari is an innovation, how can it be expelled from the circle of honor and entered into the circle of prohibition?

What is innovation (Bid’ah)?

Innovation is generally defined as something new created after the completion of religion or it denotes the invention of new beliefs and rituals after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).8 In the same way Majmaul Bahrayn defines Bid’ah as:

“That which was not present in the period of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is an innovation.”

Keeping these definitions in mind, not only Azadari but all the sciences and arts, which have safeguarded the survival of Islam, all of them seem to be wearing the label of ‘innovation’.

The present arrangement of the Holy Qur’an is innovation. The diacritics on the text of the Holy Qur’an are innovation. To transcribe it in the Naskh script is innovation. To bring out Qur’anic commentaries in book form is an innovation. Collecting traditions through new methods is an innovation. The science of narrators of traditions for determining their authenticity is an innovation. The study of sources to check the authenticity of traditional reports is an innovation. Compilation of jurisprudential works is innovation. Teaching and learning scholastic theology is innovation. Let us now move ahead… To select a caliph through consensus is innovation. Formation of a Shura consultative committee to select a caliph is innovation. The Tarawih9 Prayer is innovation. To derive the religious laws through analogy is innovation. To establish the public treasury is innovation. So much so, that even wearing the Sherwani10 is innovation. Conducting transactions through paper money is innovation. If you apply this criterion whatever was not present during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) is all innovation and every innovation is prohibited.

If being an innovation, Azadari should be given up then we must say goodbye to the Hijri calendar and every type of religious education must be struck off. So much so, that even the recitation of Qur’an printed on paper must be avoided. And most important of all, the caliphate of the first three caliphs must also be weeded out from the garden of Sunnism.

…is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability.11

The source of all the sorrows and the root of all these evils is that Ahl al-Sunnah scholars have conditioned the minds of general public to regard all innovations as deviations and all the deviations lead to Hell fire. Although to consider every innovation and method to be prohibited is a mistaken notion. Both sects believe in fact that everything is permitted until its prohibition is not mentioned. Therefore the best thing would have been if they had pondered whether this innovation comes under prohibition or not, before labeling Azadari as innovation and misleading the general public. If it is possible to have it included among the prohibited deeds through a legal argument, then indeed to encourage people from refraining from it would be the greatest service to Islam.

But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.12

Instead of getting oneself deviated by selfish motives and slaughtering the law of the Prophet it would have been better for them to commit suicide.

The great Ahl al-Sunnah scholar, Imam Asqalani says in Fathul Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari to the effect that:

It is well-known among the majority that innovation, can be divided into all types of acts. The compilation of scholastic theology is an example of obligatory innovation. Recommended innovation is writing of scholarly books and establishment of religious schools. Permissible innovation includes new types of dishes. Detestable innovation is spending so much on food and clothes as does not reach the level of wasteful expenditure. And prohibited innovation, according to the people of truth is to rise up in revolt and everything opposed to the Shariah whose prohibition is proved.

Shia scholars have also explained this. Thus the Shahid Thani (Second Martyr) (a.r.) says in Sharh Lumah:

“It is said that all innovation is not prohibited. Rather some people have divided it into four types of actions.”

After these explanations what intelligent person can say that the circle ‘all innovation is deviation’ also includes things which are in the position of obligatory, recommended and permitted? Keeping the same things in view, the First Martyr, (Shahid Awwal) (r.a.) has said: “Matters that developed after the period of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) are of various types. In our opinion innovation is applicable only to those things that fall under the prohibited category.

It is thus clarified that the standard of permissibility and impermissibility is not whether it existed in the time of the Prophet (s.a.), rather we should check whether the particular act conforms to the divine will or not.

Azadari rituals conform to Divine Will

How do we explain the rituals of Azadari? It could be briefly explained as: To establish the remembrance of the immortal tragedy of Karbala’ and “to express ones grief and sorrow on this tragic event.” Now we should see if the remembrance of the events of the righteous predecessors conforms to divine will or not. What I feel is that, the Almighty Allah through the religious law, made us committed to always remember His proximate ones and keep their feats in our view. In the five-times daily prayers we utter at least ten times:

“Guide us on the right path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed favors.”13

The point worth noting is that until we do not honor and respect the feats of the proximate servants of God, and do not keep their sacrifices in our view, the actual purport of the above invocation cannot be realized.

Now lets move further and glance at the parts and method of another great pillar of Islam, viz. Hajj. You will see that in the rituals of Hajj from the beginning until the end, the complete episode of Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail (a.s) is sketched.

Why has ‘Sayy’ (jogging) between Mt. Safa and Mt. Marwah been made compulsory? It is only because Lady Hajrah had ran between these two hills with infant Ismail (a.s) in search of water. And that is the reason why the Holy Qur’an, ignoring the great peaks of the Himalayas and Pamirs, honored by calling these two small hillocks as ‘signs of Allah’.

Today the Zamzam water is considered the best gift from a Hajj pilgrim. Why is it so? Is not the cause of this greatness only and only that this water spring erupted at the command of Allah to quench the thirst of Ismail?

The 8th of Zilhajj is called the Day of Tarwiyah only because it was on the night preceding this day when Ibrahim (a.s) had seen the dream in which he was slaughtering his son and the whole of next day he spent in contemplation.

The 9th of Zilhajj is called the ‘Day of Arafah’ only because on that day he had received the realization (Irfan) of sacrificing his son. The rituals of both these days are promulgated in remembrance of those same incidents.

To perform the sacrifice at Mina on the 10th of Zilhajj is an important duty of Hajj. Pages of History tell us about the reason behind it.

On the same day at the same place, Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) had tried to sacrifice Ismail (a.s) with his own hands in the path of God. Though the scribes of the tablet of ‘erasing and rewriting’ selected a ram in place of Ismail (a.s), however, the Holy Qur’an has kept the memory of this sacrifice alive and called all the animals of sacrifice as ‘signs of Allah’.

…and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.14

These events prove that it is one of the ancient practices of Almighty Allah to keep the memory of past events alive and it is His continuing habit. Yes, the condition is that those events should be connected to His selected servants.

Now I would like to ask whether Husayn (a.s) was not among the proximate ones of the Almighty? Were his events not extremely significant? For the sake of Allah, act with justice! When the incomplete sacrifice of Ismail (a.s) is so much dear to Allah that He made it a pillar of Islam then would He not like the remembrance of the ‘great sacrifice’? Which is having such terrible aspects that the sacrifice of Ismail (a.s) is nowhere equal to it in anyway. If like other Muslim sects the Shias had also allowed modifications in the Islamic law after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) the rituals of Azadari are so important that they would have been also included among obligatory acts like Hajj etc. But still it cannot be denied that it conforms to the Divine will.

…the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation…15

If we present the scenes of the events of Karbala’ before the people and year after year express our anguish and sorrow for the tragedy, what objections can be leveled against it? We only do that which we see the Almighty doing.

Those who object that Shias practice seasonal grief should note that the events of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s) have been regulated by divine timetable and accept their folly.

Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is not Innovation

Now let me explain that the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is not included among the ‘events after the Prophet’. Rather the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had performed it. Please pay attention to the following narration of Allamah Ibn Hajar Makki, which he has quoted on the authority of Shobi and also Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) said: One day I came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and saw tears in his eyes. I asked, “Has someone angered you?” Why are there tears in your eyes?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said, “A little while ago Jibraeel told me that Husayn shall be slain at the banks of Euphrates. Jibraeel asked me if I would like to get the soil of that place so that I can smell it. I said, ‘Yes.’ Thus Jibraeel extended his hands and then gave me a handful of soil, due to which tears flow from my eyes.”

This tradition informs us that weeping for Imam Husayn (a.s) is not only permissible, rather it is the Sunnah (practice) of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and according to:

…whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it…16

It is obligatory for us to emulate it. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was so much upset when he heard the forecast of the martyrdom of his beloved grandchild. Pay attention to this. If the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had been alive after the incident of Karbala’, what his condition would have been? And how he must have made elaborate arrangements for the Azadari of his son?

This incident also contains the point worth noting that in spite of the fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) loved Husayn (a.s) to an indescribable degree and Husayn was himself present before the eyes of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and he (the Prophet) was also given the news of the martyrdom but in order to create more intensity in the emotion of grief he felt it necessary that he sends for the soil of the place of Husayn’s martyrdom and smell it. The sentence: “Jibraeel extended his hands and then gave me a handful of soil, due to which tears flow from my eyes,” tells us that if we also keep before us the water skin, the standard, the Taboot,17 Ta’ziyah, Tauq,18 Zanjeer,19 cradle and arrow in order to increase our emotions of grief it would exactly be according to the verse of Qur’an:

…you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent exemplar…20

And it would be a perfect emulation of the practice of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Before the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), except for soil of the place of his martyrdom no other article was available which could have spurred the sorrowful emotion, therefore he had to be content upon this much. Now after the martyrdom when we are aware of all the details of the martyrdom and it is also possible to picture them in our imagination, why should we not express them all? So that we could form as much detailed imagination as is possible and to give as much condolence as is possible to the personality of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) for his grief?

Although this tradition, along with the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) also proves the justification of all the things connected with Husayn I feel that I should present the justification of some pillars of Azadari in brief, based on the events of the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).

Nauha103 and Majlis104

The following incident is recorded in Madarijun Nubuwwah, Maarijun Nubuwwah and other books as well. It is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) did not weep for anyone as much as he did for His Eminence, Hamzah. He stood before the bier of Hamzah, wept and that also loudly, and so much so that he fainted. He used to say:

“O Hamzah! O uncle of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! O lion of Allah and His Prophet! O one who performed the good deeds. O Hamzah, O one who removed the sorrows, O Hamzah! O one who removed the enemies from the face of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).”

The above blessed words of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) clearly justify the dirges and mournful poetry that is recited in the rituals of Azadari.

…who has a heart or he gives ear and is a witness.21

After that when the ladies of Medina began to lament upon the martyrs of Uhad and the sound of lamentation from the house of His Eminence, Hamzah did not reach the blessed ears of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), he exclaimed sadly: “Alas! There is no lady to lament the death of my uncle, Hamzah!” When the Helpers (Ansar) heard this, they sent their ladies to the house of Hamzah and they arrived there and immediately organized a mourning assembly and began to weep and wail. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) heard their wails he prayed for them that may the Almighty Allah be pleased with them, with their children and grandchildren.

This incident, beyond any doubt proves that to mourn the martyrdom of one who has laid down his life in the path of God, the collective loud wailing of a large number of people is not only a legitimate act, it is in accordance with the direction of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).

…sufficient as a witness…22

Keeping this incident in mind which is a perfect proof, please pay attention to the following narration of Abdullah Ibn Umar that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said: “The weeping of the living causes chastisement to the dead one. Even if we disregard the fact that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had expressed the desire for ladies to weep on His Eminence, Hamzah and he prayed good for those who wept, how can you explain away the verse of Qur’an that says:

…and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another…23

Does this verse not refute the above statement? Now side by side this, also pay attention to the report of the respectable traditionist, Ayesha, who when told about the above report of Abdullah Ibn Umar that ‘the dead are punished because of the weeping of the living ones’, said, “May Allah forgive him, he has not lied intentionally. He has either forgotten or misunderstood. The fact is that some Jews were weeping for a person who had died in their community and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) was passing that way. He (s.a.w) said: “These people are weeping for him though he is involved in divine punishment in his grave. (Refer to chapter of weeping for the dead). All sects accept this tradition.

After this there remains no point in further analyzing or discussing the report of Abdullah Ibn Umar.

Taboot and Ta’ziyah

Making a Ta’ziyah and paying homage to it is labeled as idol worship. Though it is foolishness to call a replica of a non-living thing as an idol, and that too from the tongues of those whose traditional reports prove that it is recommended to make the replica of even living things. Ayesha is reported to have said:

“I used to play with my doll in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and some of my friends used to play with me. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to enter they hid themselves from him. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to send them to play with me again.” Muhaddith Dehlavi, in explanation of this tradition says, “It is permitted to make a doll and play with it.”24

Anyway, let us move away from this discussion. If you want to hear the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) speak of making a replica of a grave see the following traditional report:

A companion told the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that he has vowed to kiss the threshold of Paradise and the Hourul Ein.25 The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told him: Go and kiss the feet of your mother and the forehead of your father. He asked what he should do if his parents were not alive anymore? He was told to kiss their grave. Again he asked what he should do if he didn’t know where their grave was? The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) told him to, “Draw two lines and consider one as the grave of the mother and the other as the grave of the father and kiss them, and do not break your vow.”

This tradition is itself so detailed and self-explanatory that there seems no need of further elaboration.


If I am unable to present an instance of Ma’tam26 (Chest beating) during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) it is perhaps due to my shortsightedness. However, the following incident is sufficient enough to prove my claim:

Mutawakkil ordered that Ma’tam should be held at the place where funeral prayer was recited on the bier of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. Thus 2.5 million people gathered at that place and Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and people of four schools performed Ma’tam there.

This is the same Mutawakkil who had tried to erase even the traces of the tomb of the blessed son of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). But today he is so much moved at the death of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal that he himself is arranging for Ma’tam and in following him the four schools of thought mourn the tragedy. So much so, that the figure of people performing Ma’tam reaches to 2.5 millions, and at that time no one felt the need to say anything against it, that Ma’tam is an innovation. Rather histories describe the event in a boastful way.

But you should not think that the same tone and same acceptance is expressed in case of the Ma’tam of Husayn (a.s). Allamah Suyuti writes in Tarikhul Khulafa in the account of Caliph Muit that: “Women performed Ma’tam for Husayn (a.s) and this was the first time that Nauha was done for Husayn (a.s) in Baghdad and this innovation (Bid’ah) continued for many years.” Its really a great pity that in the view of the great scholars of Islam, the respect of the son of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) is not equal to that of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

In the end I only wish to state that time is such a medicine that cures even the deepest wounds; but the grief for Husayn (a.s) is such that even after the passage of so many centuries it still retains its original freshness. This itself is the proof that the mourning for Husayn (a.s) is having Divine assistance.

  • 1. Surah Taubah 9:32
  • 2. Urdu couplet
  • 3. Mourning rituals for the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.)
  • 4. An effigy of the tomb of Imam Husayn (a.s.)
  • 5. A replica signifying the standard carried by His Eminence, Abbas in the battle of Karbala’
  • 6. A mourning assembly
  • 7. Beating of chest
  • 8. Qamus
  • 9. Special prayers recited by Sunnis during the month of Ramadan
  • 10. A long coat worn in India and Pakistan
  • 11. Surah Ibrahim 14:26
  • 12. Surah Baqarah 2:24
  • 13. Surah Fatiha 1:6-7
  • 14. Surah Hajj 22:32
  • 15. Surah Rum 30:30
  • 16. Surah Hashr 59:7
  • 17. Effigy of a bier
  • 18. Iron-collar
  • 19. Chain
  • 20. Surah Ahzab 33:21
  • 21. Surah Qaf 50:37
  • 22. Surah Nisa 4:79
  • 23. Surah Anam 6:164
  • 24. Mishkatul Masabih, Jame al-Usool, Jame Bain as-Sahiain
  • 25. The Hourie of Paradise
  • 26. Beating of chest in mourning

Azadari of Husayn (a.s) from the Islamic Point of View

In the 24th June issue of ‘Razakar’1 some Ahl al-Sunnah scholars have posed seven questions regarding the Azadari of Husayn (a.s). Though it is best to ignore foolish objections, we find it necessary here because if we don’t rebut them they would be further emboldened to write anything that comes to their feeble minds.

The following is the actual text of those questions:

(1) Is Azadari, in its present form obligatory, recommended or Bid’ah?

(2) If it is obligatory, please quote the verse of Qur’an with reference and if it is Sunnah please state whether it is the Sunnah of the Prophet or Sunnah of the Imams?

(3) If it is Sunnah of Prophet, is it practical Sunnah or verbal Sunnah?

(4) If it is verbal, please prove where the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has ordered chest beating, flagellation, wearing black clothes and taking out a horse?

(5) If it is practical Sunnah, did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) ever do Azadari in remembrance of the previous prophets?

(6) If it is the Sunnah of the Imams, prove that His Eminence, ‘Ali (r.a.), after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) made a Ta’ziyah or performed Ma’tam.

(7) Did any Imam perform such an act after the martyrdom of Sayyidna (our master) Husayn? If it is so, prove it from your books and for every tradition collect 100 as reward. Otherwise make an announcement that Azadari in its present form is against Islamic law and is an innovation.

The most important of these is the first question but just for the satisfaction of the questioner I say that all right I accept that Azadari is an innovation. Now you must have become happy that a Shia has accepted Azadari to be an innovation. But before becoming happy on it, gather your senses and pay attention to the details of this reply:

What if Azadari is an Innovation?

In fact, puppet Mullahs like you mislead the people only saying that Azadari is Bid’ah (innovation), Ta’ziyah is innovation, Majlis is innovation, weeping is innovation. This is innovation, that is innovation. In other words after wearing the glasses of ignorance and bigotry you people see innovation in everything and everywhere. And this furor of innovation has made you so terrorized that you all start having anxiety fits before Muharram and you leave to visit the countryside and become tools of Satan in misleading gullible people. You present to them the argument that since the rituals of Azadari started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) they are innovations and are indeed against the Law of Shariah. This is the only proof you have, through which you fulfill the plans of Yazid, Mutawakkil, Ghazzali and Ibn Arabi and try to destroy the name of Husayn (a.s). And with the intention of the firm basis of this same argument you have written the next six questions. So that if the reply to the questions is in the negative you can announce that if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Imams had not performed those acts they are indeed against Shariat and are innovations. This is what I want you to remember; that even if we assume that the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is a later invention after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) even then it cannot be taken out of the circle of ‘respect’ and put into the category of ‘prohibition’. And it cannot be said to be something against Shariat.

The dictionary meaning of ‘Bid’ah’ is ‘a new thing’. Thus it is mentioned in the second volume of Sarah (Bab-ul-A’in, Faslul Baa) that Bid’ah is an innovation introduced into religion after its perfection.

It is mentioned in the famous book of Ahl al-Sunnah, Majmaul Bahrayn that: Whatever was not present in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) is ‘innovation’.

The famous dictionary, al-Qamus says: Innovation is to bring something new into religion after its perfection or the beliefs and rituals that have started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).

I am ready to accept the above definitions of Bid’ah. But the problem is, after accepting these definitions not only Azadari, all the principles of Islam will have to be invalidated! Because:

The present sequence of the Holy Qur’an is one fixed by the third caliph, Uthman. Therefore to read the Qur’an in this sequence is innovation. The diacritic marks on the text of the Holy Qur’an were added after the apparent caliphate of His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) and the dots were placed during the time of Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Therefore to read or to possess a Qur’an with diacritic marks or dots is an innovation. During the period of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) the Holy Qur’an was written in the Kufi script. Therefore it is an innovation to write and read it in the Naskh and Nastaliq script (as it is done nowadays). The 30 parts and seven stages of Qur’an were determined by the reciters for their own convenience much later. Therefore to follow the limits of ‘Juz’ (Part) or stages (Manzil) in printing the Qur’an or writing it or reading it, or even giving reference by it is an innovation. The translation of Qur’an into other languages came into vogue at a much later period. Hence it is an innovation to translate the Qur’an, to read a translation or appoint translators.

Since Umar etc. were dead against the compilation of traditions (Hadith), the collecting of traditions in Ahl al-Sunnah began after the Righteous Caliphate (Khilafat-e-Rashida) during the reign of the Banu Umayyah. Therefore to compile books of traditions, or to arrange traditions in parts, sections and chapters or to arrange them on the basis of narrators and subjects is an innovation. The science of biographies of narrators of traditions was formulated much later to verify the authenticity of traditions. Therefore it is an innovation to learn this science and to act upon it.

Commentaries of Qur’an were compiled even later than the books of traditions, although prominent personalities like Ahmad bin Hanbal were dead against it. Therefore both, writing a commentary of Qur’an and reading it is an innovation.

The concoction of solution to legal problems according to ones personal opinion came into vogue from the personality of Abu Hanifah during the 2nd century of Hijri. Therefore his complete jurisprudence and law is innovation. During the beginning period of the reign of the Abbasids when Greek philosophy entered Islamic lands and there was an upsurge in apostasy and disbelief, scholars of Islam began to apply principles of philosophy to justify Islamic beliefs and principles so as to defend the religion of Islam. And the resultant science from the activity came to be known as Ilme Kalam (Scholastic theology). Among the Islamic sciences, it is the most modern science. Therefore to prove the validity of Islamic principles through this method is indeed against Islamic Law.

Thus, Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani says in Fathul Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari (Bab-al-Iqtida Bi Sunnan ar-Rasool):

“Among the things that came into being after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) are the collection and arrangement of Hadith (traditions). After that is the Tafsir (Exegesis) of Qur’an. After that is the method of deriving the laws of Shariah only through reason. After that is the collection of the rituals of mysticism (Tasawwuf). Thus Umar, Abu Musa Ashari and a group were against the collection of traditions. And most of the people have permitted it. And Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and a community was against the Exegesis of Qur’an. In the same way Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was also dead against the derivation of religious laws through analogy (Qiyas).

Among the ‘new things’ is scholastic theology and the predecessors (Salaf) were against it; like Imam Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Imam Shafei etc.

Thus is the condition of Islamic sciences. Now let us see what happens to the daily social relations (which no one considers needless of divine (laws).

The Sherwani (long coat) and the different types of caps worn in India and Pakistan were non-existent during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Therefore to wear such things is an innovation. The various dishes cooked by the people nowadays were never used by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) in his time. Therefore it is an innovation to prepare such dishes and to eat such foods. The use of paper currency did not exist during the time of the Prophet. Therefore it is an innovation to use paper currency. During the time of the Prophet no one used lifeless objects to travel. Therefore it is an innovation to travel by rail, car and bicycles etc.

However, this is not the end of the matter. Ahl al-Sunnah people say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) did not issue any command for caliphate after him. That is why need was felt consensus (Ijma) etc. That is the consensus through which the caliphate of Abu Bakr is proved. And that nomination through which the caliphate of Umar is established. Also that Shura (consultative committee) through which Uthman is considered a caliph and the use of force and power, through which Muawiyah occupied the throne of caliphate. In other words all the principles of caliphate have come into being only after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Therefore they are indeed against Shariah and they are nothing but innovations. Thus the caliphate of those people is absolutely an innovation. Hence, if Azadari is deemed to have started after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and therefore worthy to be shunned and considered illegal and innovation, first of all you must consign to flames all the Qur’ans in following the practice (Sunnah) of Uthman and in accordance with the sequence of the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) write it in Kufi script and make it popular. And until the time such a Qur’an is not arranged, leave the present one, which from arrangement to diacritics and even in dotting is sunk in innovation. Throw away all the books of exegesis, traditions and beliefs in the sea. Stop using the science of biographies of narrators and scholastic theology. Make all types of garments, except Arab dress as unlawful. Refrain from eating and drinking all types of victuals and drinks that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had not used. Consider paper money as deadly snakes and scorpions and keep them away from you. When you have accomplished all this and become free from these Islamic sciences and worldly pleasures, uproot and discard the garden of caliphate considering it to have been based on innovation and exercise complete aloofness from those caliphs whose caliphate was based on innovations.

And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability.2

If you are really sincere about these things, first give up Sunnism in this way and then you shall have the right to ask us to forgo Azadari.

Now pay attention to another aspect of the matter:

When any formula is formed, it is also checked whether its opposite is also true or not. “If the sun is out it must be day.” This statement is correct because its opposite is also correct, that is, “If the sun is not out, it would not be day.” Therefore if it is established that, “Everything that was not present during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is innovation and deviation,” it must be agreed that, “Anything that was present in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is not innovation and deviation.” It implies that since disbelief and polytheism were present in time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), therefore they are not innovation and deviation. Adultery and sodomy was committed even during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), so it is not innovation and deviation. Alcoholism was also found in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), hence it is not innovation and deviation. Gambling and chess existed during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), therefore they cannot be considered innovations and deviations.

In the same way, theft, robbery, looting, hypocrisy, under-weighing, lying, allegation making, falsely accusing, concealing testimony, killing a believer, usurping the property of orphans, usury, misappropriation of other people’s property, in other words all the crimes mentioned in the Holy Qur’an were present in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) otherwise there would have been no need to prohibit them. Thus if being present in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w) is the criterion of its justification or absence of justification, we would have to agree that since all these things were present during the time of the Prophet (s.a.w), they are not deviations, and apparently understanding this from the above definition of ‘innovation’ and accepting this logic:

(1) Imam Abu Hanifah issued a verdict that it is lawful to drink Nabidh (barley wine), rather it is even permitted to perform Wuzu (ablution) with it. And if wine is boiled a little both its impurity and unlawfulness is removed. And they have also permitted use of pistachio-sized hemp seed as mentioned in most books of Hanafite jurisprudence.

(2) Imam Shafei has permitted chess to keep ones mind sharp and fresh.

(3) Imam Malik has allowed sodomy: If a person commits sodomy with his slave or servant, it is lawful. Imam Shafei has also supported this statement. Many Shafei scholars have agreed, notably Ya’fai, in his book quotes the statement of Shafei that: from the viewpoint of analogy (Qiyas), sodomy is lawful.

(4) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, also, agreeing with Abu Hanifah, permitted drinking of hemp-wine. Nasir Khusroo has versified this as follows:

“Shafei has said that chess is forever lawful. Do not make a mistake because the Imam has said correctly.

Ibn Hanbal has said that if in spite of this you are fed up of sorrow, eat a pistachio-sized hemp seed and roam about in intoxication. Now if you wish to follow the fourth Imam, Malik, he also makes sodomy lawful for you. Enjoy hemp, gamble, drink wine and commit sodomy because being a Muslim has ended with the four Imams.”

Here one becomes desirous to congratulate the Ahl al-Sunnah people of Pakistan and especially the Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah, that their Imams have in no way discredited their views about innovation. And they have legalized all those things that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had denounced, because they existed during the time of the Prophet (s.a.w). By doing this they have certified that the criterion of lawfulness or unlawfulness of something is not the Qur’an and traditions, but it is its presence or absence during the time of the Prophet. Hence, Azadari, which started after the time of the Prophet is an innovation and unlawful.

The real cause of all these incidents is only that the half-baked Ahl al-Sunnah scholars began to think that everything that was not present during the time of the Prophet is innovation. And according to the famous statement: Every innovation is deviation and every innovation leads to Hell fire.” Although this view is mostly untrue and invalid and educated people of both the Shia and Sunni sects have criticized this viewpoint.

All sensible people of the world are practically unanimous that in penal laws only those things are mentioned that are unlawful and illegal. And it is understood that except for these, everything is permissible. In other words anything that is not specified to be illegal is considered lawful. That is why you will not find any law book saying that it is lawful to have your clothes washed by a washer man. But it is indeed mentioned that if you do not pay for the labor, it is a wrongful act and against law. And its remedies are mentioned. This method is followed because it is impossible to list all the things/acts that would be lawful in the world. While it is comparatively easy to mention all the unlawful acts/things. That is why the law only informs about these things and assumes silence and the rest of the things are considered lawful.

Thus it is a universally accepted tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that: “Everything is lawful until its prohibition is not mentioned.” In the same way there is another tradition that says: “Everything is permissible until a command or prohibition regarding them does not reach you.”3 The same book contains the third tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that: “Anything that has permissible and prohibited mixed in it, is allowed for you until you specifically recognize the prohibited in it. Under such circumstances you would have to leave the prohibited.”

The statements of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) (Among whom the first tradition is also present among the Shias) and the second and the third tradition is specially recorded in Sunni books) clearly shows that the Islamic Shariah is also like other laws of the world based on the principle: Whatever is not prohibited, is allowed. However, those half-Mullahs are saying that: “What is not clearly permitted, is prohibited.”

Although there is a famous tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) that: “One who initiates a good practice would be rewarded for doing it himself and also rewarded until, Qiyamat, equal to those who follow this practice. And one who initiates an evil practice will earn a punishment for doing it himself and also earn until Qiyamat punishment equal to those who follow this practice.”

This tradition clearly shows that a new practice is not bad and sinful merely because it is new. Rather if it is good, it would be rewarded and if it is an evil practice it shall earn punishment. That is why its explanation is provided in Majmaul Bahrayn:

“Innovation is of two types: (1) Innovations of guidance and (2) Innovation of misguidance. Thus whatever innovation is against the command of Allah and the Prophet, is condemnable and worth being damned. And whatever is included among the general actions that Allah and the Prophet have encouraged and made attractive, they are praiseworthy.”

In the same way Imam Shafei has said:

“Innovation is of two types. Praiseworthy innovation and condemnable innovation. Thus whichever innovation is in accordance with Sunnah is praiseworthy and whatever is against the Sunnah is condemnable.”

In the end we present the most detailed explanation provided by Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Fathul Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari as follows:

“The majority (Ahl al-Sunnah) believes that innovations are of all the five types (obligatory, recommended, permissible, detestable and unlawful). Thus for example in order to refute the apostates the framing of scholastic arguments is an obligatory innovation. And writing Islamic books and founding Madressas are recommended innovations. New types of dishes are a permissible innovation. To spend excessively on food and dress is detestable innovation provided it does not reach to the limit of prohibited. And according to people of truth, to rebel against the rightful Imam is an unlawful innovation. Apart from this all those are against the Shariah and regarding whose unlawfulness there is proof.”

In the same way Shia scholar, Shahid Awwal writes in Qawaid:

“Matters that occur after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) are of many types and we regard as innovation only that, which is also unlawful.”

And the Shahid Thani (a.r.), has written in Sharh Lumah under the discussion of Azaan (call for prayer) that:

“It is said that every innovation does not become unlawful merely due to its newness. Some scholars have even classified innovations into five types (obligatory, recommended, detestable, permissible and unlawful).

From the unanimous opinion of Sunni and Shia scholars it has become clear that lawfulness and unlawfulness of something does not depend on whether it was present in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w) or not. Rather it is whether it comes in the obligatory commands or recommended or permissible proofs or it comes under the detestable or unlawful laws. In other words, every new thing does not become unlawful merely due to its novelty. It is possible that that new thing may be obligatory or recommended or permissible or detestable. In the same way it is also possible that it may be unlawful.

Lastly, I would like to state that it is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss in detail the lawfulness or otherwise of the innovations mentioned by us. It would suffice just to state that the system of deriving the laws of Shariah through analogy as practiced during the time of Abu Hanifah and the appointment of caliphs through nomination, Shura and force etc are all unlawful innovations. Apart from this other innovations fall in either of the following categories (1) Recommended (2) Detestable and (3) Permissible.

The foregone discussion has clearly established that Azadari cannot be considered unlawful merely due to its newness, for it would be against the principles of Islam. Rather it should be checked whether Azadari is in accordance with divine permission and pleasure of Allah or not. After that, depending upon the decision, the proper way would be to invite people towards it. Any other course of action would lead to misguidance and nothing else shall be achieved.

Azadari Rituals have divine sanction

What is the meaning of Azadari? It is the commemoration of the events related to Imam Husayn (a.s). Now lets see if commemoration of events related to special ones of God is permitted by Divine law or not.

Every Muslim repeats the following sentence in his daily prayers:

Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors.4

It is obvious that if we are not cognizant of the circumstances, events and mode of life those people on whom divine blessings have descended, how can we tread their path? Thus this prayer could only be fulfilled when we participate in religious gatherings (Majalis) and learn about the detailed accounts of the chosen ones of God. We must also know what is the path of those on whom the wrath of God has descended and those who are astray. So that we may avoid such a path. Otherwise we shall be involved in ignorance and lack of knowledge. We would continue to chant this prayer like parrots without gaining anything.

The great pillar of Islam is Hajj. From the beginning to the end, it is based on reliving of the events associated with the lives of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail and Lady Hajrah (a.s). The 8th of Zilhajj is known as the ‘Yaum Tarwiyah’ and there are special rituals for this day. It is named thus because it was on that night that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) saw in dream that he was sacrificing his son, Ismail on the orders of Allah, and the whole of next day he continued to reflect on his dream. Rituals prescribed for this day are in commemoration of this only.

The 9th of Zilhajj is known as ‘Yaumul Arafah’. It is only because on that night when Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) again saw that dream he became convinced that it was a command of God for him to slaughter his son. Rituals of this day are in remembrance of this realization and the plains where these rituals are performed are also named as the ‘plains of Arafat’.

The 10th Zilhajj is the most important day of the Hajj. Sacrifices are performed on this day. These sacrifices, ordered by the Qur’an, are reminders of the event of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) who tried to sacrifice Ismail (a.s) and the Almighty Allah saved him and a ram was slaughtered in his place. Now these sacrifices are reminders of this same event and included among ‘signs of Allah’. The Almighty Allah says:

And (as for) the camels, We have made them of the signs of the religion of Allah for you…5

Performing ‘Sayy’ (jogging) between Mt. Safa and Mt. Marwah is an important Hajj ritual. It is nothing but commemoration of the incident when Ibrahim (a.s) left Lady Hajrah (s.a.) and Ismail (a.s) at Mecca and the water bag was exhausted, Lady Hajrah ran seven times between these two mountains in search of water. Today this ‘Sayy’ is included among the rituals of Hajj and Mt. Safa and Marwah are included in ‘signs of Allah’:

Surely the Safa and the Marwah are among the signs appointed by Allah…6

Today Zamzam water is considered as the greatest ‘Tabarruk’7 of Hajj pilgrims. Why is this water blessed? Only due to the association of the event when Lady Hajrah was running here and there in search of water and Ismail (a.s) rubbed his heels on the ground in thirst and by the command of God a spring burst forth and by being related to the fact of Ismail (a.s) it became blessed and fortunate.

Place of Ibrahim

It is the stone on which Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) stood while raising the walls of the Holy Ka’ba and by miracle, his footprints became etched on this stone. Today that stone is having such significance that Almighty Allah says:

Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing-place of Ibrahim.8

Thus it is said:

In it are clear signs, the standing place of Ibrahim…9

The horns of the ram that was slaughtered in lieu of Ismail (a.s) were treasured in the Holy Ka’ba with respect. They continued to remain there during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Righteous caliphs. Until the time when Yazid ordered siege upon Abdullah Ibn Zubair and forces of Yazid shot burning missiles on the Ka’ba as a result of which the covering of the Ka’ba was burned down and a wall collapsed and all relics including these horns were destroyed in the fire. In the past communities also we see that the Bani Israel were in possession of the casket by the command of Allah, called the ‘Ark of Tranquility’. It contained relics of Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun (a.s) and their descendants. The casket was considered a lucky charm for Bani Israel. So much so, that it was placed in the forefront during armed confrontations. Once the casket was seized by enemies and Bani Israel had to undergo much degradations. In the second instance, under the leadership of Talut, when Almighty Allah gave other glad tidings, He also said:

And the prophet said to them: Surely the sign of His kingdom is, that there shall come to you the chest in which there is tranquility from your Lord and residue of the relics of what the children of Musa and the children of Harun have left, the angels bearing it; most surely there is a sign in this for those who believe.10

All these events clearly prove that not only is it better to establish the memory of the chosen ones of God, it is so important that most of the time, the Almighty Allah has included it among obligatory rituals. All things that became associated with the chosen ones of God were included among the signs of Allah. For example Safa, Marwah, animals of sacrifice etc, and reverence towards them is considered a sign of piety and their disrespect is made unlawful. Thus it is said:

That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.11

Again it is said,

O you who believe! Do not violate the signs appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor (interfere with) the offerings…12

Furthermore, it is also noteworthy that not only the remembrance of the Prophets, rather His Eminence, Hajrah, (who indeed was not a prophet, and she was also not infallible), her remembrance was also considered worthy of commemoration. And that too such events, which apparently have no relation to religion. For example, running in search for water for her thirsty child. In addition to this, articles contained in the ‘Ark of Tranquility’ from the relics of the progenies of Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun (a.s), are the heavenly tablets, the turban of Harun (a.s), and even his slippers, and that casket itself is the one in which Prophet Musa’s mother had kept him and put him into the River Nile.

All these details clearly show that even the personal events of the chosen ones of God, and their personal effects have such importance before the Almighty that He has established their remembrance and made it obligatory duty. And including them in the ‘signs of Allah’ made respect towards them compulsory for all. Therefore we have to agree that to establish the remembrance of the events of the God’s chosen ones, is not against divine will. Rather it is actually in agreement with divine will. Now just think upon it. When the remembrance of the incomplete sacrifice is so much dear to God, that He made it incumbent, then what would be the position of the ‘great sacrifice’ of the beloved one of Allah (the Prophet Muhammad)? How can its commemoration be against divine will? If Shias had were also experts in tampering with Shariah after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), like Ahl al-Sunnah, keeping in mind the significance of Azadari of Husayn (a.s) they would have made it an obligatory religious duty for all. But even after agreeing that it is a ‘new thing’ is there anybody who, after reading the above discussion can say that Azadari is against divine will? Indeed, we have to agree that the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) is in accordance with divine practice, which He has always mentioned:

…there is no altering of Allah’s creation…13

Hajj remains obligatory year after year and this itself is the reply to those who say, what is the need to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) even after so many years of its occurrence? This objection should first be leveled against rituals of Hajj that why are they still commemorated even after so many years?

Those who object against Shias for observing seasonal mourning, should gain lesson from the specified timings of the remembrance of events of Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s).

In the same way just as in remembrance of the proposed slaughter of Ismail (a.s) millions of sacrificial animals are slaughtered, honoring the mount of Husayn (a.s) and paying respect to the horse designated to be a replica of that original mount cannot be against divine will, rather it is a very much recommended deed. Especially when it was a horse used in Jihad (Holy war). That too, such a horse which even though was hungry and thirsty since three days, it continued to fulfill the demands of loyalty and remained in the service of a rider like Husayn (a.s) who had ridden on the shoulders of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Although the significance of the horses used in Jihad is so much in the view of Allah that He swears by them in the Holy Qur’an:

I swear by the runners breathing pantingly, then those that produce fire striking, then those that make raids at morn, then thereby raise dust, then rush thereby upon an assembly…14

In the same way the commemoration of the struggle of Hajrah (s.a.) in search of water proves that if the commemoration of the remembrance of the thirst of the children of Husayn (a.s) is established and the struggle of Abbas is commemorated by taking out the Mashk (water bag) of Sakina and the Alam (standard) or in remembrance of ‘Ali Asghar and other children, water, milk or Sherbet is distributed, it cannot be against divine will. Rather it is in consonance with divine will and a praiseworthy action. And according to:

…there is no altering of Allah’s creation…15

It is a rewardable deed. In the same way it is seen that other relics associated with great personalities are also worthy of reverence.

Azadari is Sunnah

So far our discussion was based on the premise that Azadari is a ‘new thing’ and inspite of this we have proved its legitimacy and its rewardable nature. Now I shall say that Azadari is definitely not a ‘new thing’. On the other hand it is from the established prophetic practices. However to accept it as ‘Sunnah’ the other questions are applicable that we reply as follows:

Q.2. If it is Sunnah, please let us know whether it is the Sunnah of the Prophet or Sunnah of Imams?

Ans. Some rituals are Sunnah of Prophet and some are Sunnah of the Imams.

Q.3. If it is prophetic Sunnah, is it practical or verbal?

Ans. Some things are practical and others, verbal.

Q.4. If it is verbal Sunnah, please prove that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) ordered ‘chest beating’, chain lashing, mourning processions, black dresses and taking out horses.

Ans. Why have you limited the rituals of Azadari to these only? Azadari also has Ta’ziyah, Majlis, Nauha, weeping etc. Apart from this, the grief for Husayn (a.s) is itself unlawful according to you, however limited it may be. As your Imam Ghazzali has given the true reason:

“It is prohibited to speak about the killing of al-Husayn because it leads to the hatred of companions.”16

Thus this verdict of Ghazzali clearly shows that the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) had some connection with the misdeeds of some companions of the Prophet whom Ahl al-Sunnah consider more important that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) himself and his Holy progeny!

Anyway, most of the things in Azadari are verbal Sunnats, whose details shall be presented in the forthcoming pages.

Q.5. If it is practical Sunnah, did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) commemorate the remembrance of the past prophets?

Ans. What significance the calamities of the past prophets had in comparison to the calamities of our Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) that their commemoration should have been made incumbent on the Ummah? You are probably still holding firmly to the practice of Umar, who used to bring copies of Torah in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and read from them. Even though the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), was having the most perfect manners he used to scold him severely for such behavior.

Respected Sirs! The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) himself performed most of the Azadari rituals in remembrance of his relatives and of those the greatest significance is that of Imam Husayn (a.s). That even before the arrival of calamities, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) expressed sorrow and grief as shall soon be explained and you would understand that most of these rituals are from the practical Sunnah.

Q.6. If it is from the practice of the Imams, prove that His Eminence, ‘Ali (r.a.) after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had constructed the replica of the Prophet’s tomb and performed Ma’tam.

Ans. What was the need for His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) to construct a Ta’ziyah? Because a Ta’ziyah is a replica of the tomb; and what is the need for replica when the actual tomb was always before him? Moreover the condition imposed by you is that it should be exact replica of the tomb. But even if ‘Ali (a.s) had made a replica it would not have had a dome over it since at that time the tomb of the Prophet had no such dome. Thus how could he have made it into a replica of a building? It would have been different from the present Taziyahs. Very soon we shall inform you that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) himself had made the replica of grave, please wait!

Now ‘Ma’tam’ remains. I would describe the sorrow and grief that the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) suffered at the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) after I briefly reply to your objections.

Q.7. Did any Imam perform such an act after the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husayn? If it is so, prove it from your books and for every tradition collect 100 as reward. Otherwise make an announcement that Azadari in its present form is against Islamic law and is an innovation.

Ans. Yes, indeed! After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) all succeeding Imams (a.s) always observed Azadari to keep the memory of the oppressed Imam fresh. They tried their utmost to clarify the significance of this grief inspite of the oppressive regimes of your Bani Umayyad caliphs. But you should remember that in those times the conditions of the Imams (a.s) was same as the circumstances of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) before Hijrat among the infidels of Mecca and the seriousness of the circumstances was of the same level. Therefore, just as absence of publicly held prayers during that time cannot disprove its obligatory nature, in the same way absence of openly held mourning ceremonies during Banu Umayyah and Bani Abbas period does not prove that it is now against Shariah.

In connection with the style of our Holy Imams (a.s) you have clearly written that we should furnish our proofs from our books. At least your attachment to the Holy Imams (a.s) is merely verbal though you seem to have accepted that the Twelve Imams are necessarily worth emulating. As far as their sayings and actions are concerned, books of Ahl al-Sunnah are completely blank about it and their claim of holding fast to the ‘Two weighty things’ is a claim without any proof.

Another sleight of hand that you have shown is by issuing the challenge: “In lieu of each tradition take 100-100 rewards.” You have been clever enough not to specify 100 what? That whether you would give 100-100 blessings or 100-100 abuses!

Now as far as your statement that if we ‘fail to present the traditions we should declare that present Azadari is against the Shariah and an innovation’ is concerned, I have already replied to this in the beginning itself that even if just for the sake of argument we accept that it is a ‘new thing’ it does not mean that it is unlawful. Rather, it is a recommended and preferable deed and is according to divine will and is a rewardable action. What can be said about you, even if all the scholars of your community unite to refute it, they cannot succeed?

But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.17

A Brief Description of Azadari of Husayn (a.s)

(A) The Prophetic Sunnah is practical

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal has mentioned a detailed narration in his Musnad. It is quoted from Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) as follows:

(Sunni Tradition): His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) said: One day I came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and saw tears in his eyes. I asked, “Has someone angered you?” Why are there tears in your eyes?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said, “A little while ago Jibraeel told me that Husayn shall be slain at the banks of Euphrates. Jibraeel asked me if I would like to get the soil of that place so that I can smell it. I said, ‘Yes.’ Thus Jibraeel extended his hands and then gave me a handful of soil, due to which tears flow from my eyes.”

The Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Shafei has also mentioned this narration. Two points are noteworthy in this tradition:

Firstly: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) wept on the incident of martyrdom even before its actual occurrence and he often used to weep upon it as seen in many traditions recorded in the Shia and Sunni sources. This shows that if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had been alive after the martyrdom how much more he would have been aggrieved? And from this you can understand the rewardibility of mourning for Husayn (a.s).

Secondly: The love and affection the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had for Imam Husayn (a.s) is known to all clearly. And Husayn (a.s) was present before the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) at that time. Inspite of this, he did not weep merely upon hearing the news of martyrdom. Rather, Jibraeel gave him the soil of Karbala’. At that time his condition became such that “tears flow from my eyes…” Thus when a sign was needed for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to take him to the point of weeping, it is all the more needed for us to have such signs before us because indeed we are not having the same affection for Imam Husayn (a.s) as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had and we are also removed much further away in time.

Before the martyrdom there were only two things that could lead to create the imagination of martyrdom. The personality of Husayn (a.s) himself and the land of Karbala’ and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) gathered them at one place and allowing his imagination a free rein, he wept upon it. Therefore we also follow the verse:

…in the Apostle of Allah is an excellent exemplar…18

We also keep all the things and signs connected with the tragedy of Karbala’ before us and we visualize those events. And this action of ours is exactly in accordance with the divine command:

…Whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it…19

As I have already stated, the above narration clearly proves the legality of various replicas (Ta’ziyah, Taboot, Alam, Cradle, Mashk, Tauq, Zanjeer, Kafan,20 Zuljana21). It is so because all those things give impetus to the emotion of grief and they help in imagining the events of Karbala’ like the soil of Karbala’ did for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).

(B) The Practice of the Prophet is Verbal

Not only the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) only acted upon it he also emphasize upon the community to act thus. Rather our traditions inform us that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) also exhorted the people to observe the Azadari of Husayn (a.s).

(Shia Tradition): When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) informed Lady Fatima (s.a.) about the impending martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) and told her what calamities were to befall them, she wept severely and asked, “Dear father! When shall this come to pass?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “At a time when neither I, nor you or ‘Ali shall be there.” So Fatima (s.a.) wept more and asked, “Dear father! Then who shall mourn for my son and who would establish his mourning?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told her, “O Fatima! The ladies of the community shall weep upon the ladies of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and their men shall weep on the men of my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and generation after generation, every year they shall keep the grief and mourning fresh. Thus when the Day of Judgment arrives, you Fatima, shall intercede for the ladies and I shall intercede for the men. And for those who weep in the grief of Husayn (a.s), we shall hold their hands and make them enter Paradise… and so on.22

(C) It is the Sunnah of the Imams

The Holy Imams (a.s) have urged the people to establish the Azadari of Husayn (a.s) and themselves also put it into practice.

(Shia Tradition): Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said: O Abu Harun! Recite an elegy (Marsiya) of Husayn for me. Abu Harun says that he, obeying the Imam’s command recited the Marsiya…23

Hence, we also come to know that the Holy Imam (a.s) himself requested for the recitation of Marsiya and himself listened to it. This is the practice of the Imam and his verbal instruction also. After presenting this brief justification, I present a tradition each for each of the items associated with Azadari.

Weeping for the Dead

(A) The Prophetic Practice is Practical

Leave alone the narrations in which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is reported to have wept on the demise of his son, Ibrahim, or the serious condition of the son of Zainab, or at the time of the burial of Umme Kulthum or at the illness of Saad bin Ubadah, and the Ahl al-Sunnah book of Mishkatul Masabih is full of such traditions.24 The weeping of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) has already been mentioned in the tradition of Musnad Ahmad Hanbal. In addition to all this, please pay attention to the following tradition of Mishkatul Masabih:

(Sunni Tradition): The aunt of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) (wife of His Eminence, Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib), Ummul Fadl narrates (leaving the beginning events): Thus one day I came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and placed Husayn in his lap. Then I glanced elsewhere, and when again I glanced at the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) I saw that a flood of tears was flowing from his blessed eyes. When I asked him about it he said that Jibraeel had arrived to him and informed him that: “My people shall slay this son of mine.” Ummul Fadl asked, “This son?” “Yes,” he replied, “then he brought to me the red soil of that place.”25

Further discussion on this report is uncalled for, because it is self-explanatory.

(B) The Prophetic Practice is Verbal

In addition to this the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has himself explained that weeping on the dead is actual mercy and sign of the sorrow of the heart. (Sunni Tradition): In connection with the events of the death of Ibrahim the Prophet’s son, Anas is reported to have said that they entered the house with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)…and Ibrahim was on the verge of death. Thus tears were flowing from the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Abdur Rahman bin Auf said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! You also weep?” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied, “O Ibn Auf! This is actual mercy, after which weeping also occurs.” Then he said, “The eye weeps and the heart is aggrieved but we do not utter anything against Divine will and O Ibrahim, we are indeed aggrieved of your separation.”26

(C) It is the Practice of the Holy Imams

Let us see how, before the martyrdom, His Eminence, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for Imam Husayn (a.s).

(Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10, Chapter of What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) and Imam Hasan (a.s) informed about the martyrdom)

(Shia Tradition): Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that he was with Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) when he was departing for the Battle of Siffeen. “When we reached Nainawa and descended to the banks of the Euphrates, the Imam asked aloud: ‘O Ibn Abbas, do you recognize this place?’ ‘No, O, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s),’ I replied. So he told me that, ‘If you had been familiar with it like me you would not have passed through here without weeping as I weep.’ Ibn Abbas says, ‘After saying thus Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wept for a long time and his beard became wet with tears and tears began to fall upon his chest and we also wept with him. And the following words were on the tongue of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s):

Aah! Aah! What is the connection between me and the progeny of Abu Sufyan? What is the connection between me and the progeny of Harb? The group of Satan! The friends of the infidels! O Husayn! Be patient as it befits to be; as your father has received the same difficulties from these people as you shall receive…until the end.

The report of the weeping of Lady Fatima (s.a.) has already been mentioned above. We can mention the accounts of other Imams also here, but I refrain from it for the sake of brevity.

A Strange View

A concocted view has been inculcated into Ahl al-Sunnah that weeping causes the departed soul to receive divine punishment. That is why Abdullah Ibn Umar has quoted a tradition:

“The weeping of the living for the dead causes the dead one to be punished.” First of all it is against divine justice that if the living weep the dead should be punished. And it is clearly against the Qur’anic verse:

…and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another…27

Secondly, Ayesha has clearly refuted this tradition of Ibn Umar and she says that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has definitely not said thus.28

(Sunni Tradition): The grand daughter of Abu Bakr, Umrah says that she heard her paternal aunt, Ayesha say, when she was told that Abdullah Ibn Umar says that the weeping of the living on the dead causes punishment to the dead. Ayesha said, “May Allah forgive (Ibn Umar) as he has not lied intentionally. He has forgotten or he has misunderstood. The fact is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) passed by from a place where some Jews were weeping for a dead Jewess. So he said that these people are weeping for her although she is being punished in her grave (it means that weeping on a dead infidel does not decrease his or her punishment). This narration is accepted by all.

A similar type of tradition is mentioned in this chapter from Abdullah bin Abi Malika at the end of which it is stated that Umar had also mentioned this report about the punishment. When Abdullah Ibn Abbas told Ayesha about it she said:

(Sunni Tradition): May Allah have mercy on Umar. By Allah! The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) never said that due to the weeping of the living ones, the dead are punished. Rather he said that Almighty Allah increases the punishment of the disbelievers when the survivors weep upon them.29 Then Ayesha said: The Qur’an is sufficient for you. Remember this verse:

…and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another…30

Now after the unveiling of truth even if we don’t discuss the authenticity of the reports of Umar and Abdullah Ibn Umar we would have to agree that all this is nothing but a case of misunderstanding.

Although the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had scolded Umar many times when he restrained people from weeping. But to be true to his nature he did not give up this habit. Mishkat has many traditions on this subject. But we shall mention only a brief report here:

(Sunni Tradition): Someone died from the family of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). So women gathered and began to weep on the death. Umar stood up and restrained them and began to chase them away. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “Umar, leave them alone! Because the eye weeps and the heart is sorrowful and the covenant is near.”31

This report has been quoted by Ahmad bin Hanbal and Nasai.

These traditions show that weeping is from the practice of the Prophet and to restrain people from weeping is from the practice of Umar. Now it is upto you to leave the practices of the Prophet and follow the practice of Umar.

Ta’ziyah, Zuljana and Replicas (Mock-ups)

A. How to Detect Polytheism?

Before I present traditions about Ta’ziyah and other representations I feel it is necessary for me to clarify a misunderstanding of Ahl al-Sunnah. These people often say that Ta’ziyah is polytheism and idol-worship and one who respects a Ta’ziyah is a polytheist and idol-worshipper. Therefore here we must understand what polytheism denotes.

Most of the people have misunderstood the definition of idol and think that it is replica of a living thing. Let us examine this view.

Are replicas of only living things idols? Definitely not. Otherwise those Lings32 etc. that are kept in Hindu temples would not have been called idols.

Is idol only a replica? Definitely not! If it had been so, those rounded natural stones that they place in temples would not qualify.

Is idol among the things constructed by man? Definitely not! If it had been so, the cow that is worshipped, that Peepal and Banyan tree that is revered, and the river and the mountain that are considered deities would not have been considered idols.

Then what, after all, is an idol? Is every replica made by human hands, every river and mountain is an idol? When any limitation is not possible in this way how can we define what an idol is? For this it is necessary to find out what is the common point in them. You shall know the reason why all the above things are called idols. You shall realize that all the above things are referred to as idols because they are worshipped either as equals to God or as media for reaching God. Thus this deification is the only thing that makes the revered object an idol. That is why until the round stone is kept as paperweight on my table it is not an idol and from the day this stone begins to be worshipped, this same harmless stone would become an idol.

Now let us examine the Ta’ziyah on this criterion. It is obvious that we neither worship the Ta’ziyah nor any thought of deifying it has ever entered the mind of any Shia person so far, because our monotheism is firm and strong. That upto there even the doubt of those who consider you neo-Muslims as leaders cannot reach because your leaders have even legalized worship of their footwear as Abu Hanifah has said:

“If a person worships these slippers with the intention of gaining proximity to God, there is no harm in it according to me.”33

While our Imams, leave alone dirty objects like slippers, they have prohibited us to even consider a great personality like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to be having divinity and they emphasized upon believing him to be a servant of Allah. Anyway we thus come to know that Ta’ziyah is not an idol.

Another objection that is leveled is that it is a replica and making a replica is unlawful. Although, those who make such objections are not familiar with Islam, neither are they aware of their own school of thought. No sect of Islam has made it absolutely unlawful to make a replica or a picture. Only making a replica of a living thing is made unlawful. Now who would tell us what living thing a Ta’ziyah represents? It is only a replica of a structure and making a replica of a structure or building is not unlawful in any Shariat.

And if God forbid, even if it had been a replica of a living thing, only we Shias would have been qualified to make it unlawful. Such prohibitions from your side seem funny when your own school of thought has made lawful making pictures and idols of living things. You people report that such things existed even at the home of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). See the following narrational report in Mishkatul Masabih, Baab Ashratun Nisa:

(Sunni Tradition): Ayesha is reported to have said that she continued to play with dolls even after entering the house of Allah’s Messenger (after marriage). She says, “I had some friends who used to play with me. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arrived my friends hid themselves. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to send them back to me and they used to continue playing with me.” (A well-known tradition)

This report is also present in Jame Bain as-Sahihain and Jameul Usool. Muhaddith Dehlavi, explaining this report says, “It is allowed to make dolls.”

How funny it is that those who allow worship of sandals and consider making dolls lawful, they should be so much against making harmless replicas of buildings, that Taziyahs are.

We have also proved that it is lawful to make Taziyahs and other replicas. Let us now move a step forward and see how it could be a recommended and meritorious deed.

(B) The Prophet’s Sunnah is Practical

The narrational report of Musnad Ahmad Hanbal that we quoted in the beginning has proved that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) placed the soil of Karbala’ before himself and wept. This action of his justifies all symbols associated with Azadari.

(Sunni Tradition): After the mention about the arrival of the soil of Karbala’, Umme Salma says: Then the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) smelled the soil and said that it smelt of pain and calamities. Then he told Umme Salma that when that soil turned into blood she must know that his son has been martyred. So Umme Salma placed it in a bottle and observed it everyday and said: The day you become blood shall be a day of great tragedy. And it is reported that when Husayn was martyred, for seven days the sky remained as if it were a mass of blood.34

Before the martyrdom, only the soil of Karbala’ could be obtained for Azadari and it was stored safely in the Prophet’s house. Therefore, today when we are fully informed about the details of the actual event we establish separate memory for each incident. Is it not a perfect example for following the Prophet’s Sunnah?

(C) The Prophet’s Practice is Verbal

However, if you are still doubtful whether it justifies the making of replica of a grave, and think that making it is unlawful, please read on the following traditional report for further reassurance:

A companion told the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that he has vowed to kiss the threshold of Paradise and the Hurul Ein. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) told him: Go and kiss the feet of your mother and the forehead of your father. He asked what he should do if his parents were not alive anymore? He was told to kiss their grave. Again he asked what he should do if he didn’t know where their grave was? The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) told him to, “Draw two lines and consider one as the grave of the mother and the other as the grave of the father and kiss them, and do not break your vow.”

The above report is present in Imam Shafei’s Kifayah. In addition to this it is also mentioned in the following books:

(2) Kanzul Ibaad (3) Khazina Riwayat (4) Matalibul Momineen (5) Fatawa Alamgiri

This report also justifies kissing of graves. Praise be to Allah for this.

(D) It is the Sunnah of Imams

Now, as per my promise let me also inform you that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had also made replicas of graves and we emulate him in this matter too. As we all know, when Lady Fatima (s.a.) passed away from the world she was infuriated with Abu Bakr and Umar. Hence she had made a bequest that these two must not be allowed to come near her bier, and that is why Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had her buried in the dead of the night. Moreover, there was a strong possibility, as later events showed, that the two Shaykhs may dig up her grave to recite the burial prayers on her again, therefore Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) made seven mock-up graves in different spots so none could tell which was the actual resting place of Lady Fatima. Please read the following reports:

Asbagh bin Nubata asked Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) the wisdom behind conducting the burial of Fatima (s.a.) in the dead of the night. He told him that Lady Fatima (s.a.) was angry with a group of people and she didn’t want them to attend her funeral…And people have narrated that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) made seven duplicate graves around the actual grave of Fatima so that no one could know which was her real grave. Another report says that he sprinkled water on forty graves, so that her real grave could not be distinguished…(Until the end of the report).35

Due to this, difference of opinion arose as to the location of the grave of Fatima (s.a.). It is mentioned in Manaqib Ibn Shahre Aashob and Biharul Anwar (ibid) that:

“The grave of Lady Fatima (s.a.) is in the Baqi cemetery while some people say that she was buried at her own house, while yet others are of the opinion that her grave is between the grave of the Messenger and his pulpit.”

Anyway, we have proved that His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) had also constructed replicas of graves. It would not be of any use if you say that he made replicas of graves for one purpose and we make it for some other aim. Hence how it could be emulation? Because the actual purpose was to prove that if making replicas of graves had itself been an unlawful act why the Holy Imam (a.s) had performed it? So when this act was lawful and the Imam acted upon it also, what doubt remains in it being the practice (Sunnah) of Imam? After this, justification of other symbols of Azadari like the Alam, the Mashk and the cradle etc. is not even needed because it is the Ta’ziyah which is mostly criticized since it is the replica of grave. While other things are not even replicas of grave!

The public display (taking out in procession) of Zuljana can be justified as follows:

That neither is it our creation, that it may be called a replica of a living thing and thus considered unlawful and nor does anyone worships it, that it could be called an idol. Although if someone were to make a replica of a horse, it is unlawful and if someone worships it, it is indeed a prohibited act. But if it is not so, it is only a representation of Imam Husayn’s horse and there is no unlawful aspect to this representation. Rather it is a recommended and preferable deed, which is also rewardable. Because it assists in intensifying the mourning for Husayn (a.s) and the famous Sunni book, Hasanut Tawassul Fi Aadaab Ziyarat Afzalur Rosol, that anything that assists in a recommended deed is also recommended.36

Therefore since Zuljana is a part of Azadari, it is also recommended.

Majlis (Mourning Assembly)

(A) The Prophet’s Sunnah is Practical

Thus when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) returned from the battle of Uhad, and did not hear any wailing from the house of the Chief of the Martyrs, Hamzah, while wails were audible from the houses of other martyrs, he (s.a.w) said: “Are there no women to weep on Hamzah?”

When Saad bin Maaz, Usaid bin Hazeer and other Ansars (Helpers) heard this, they went to their houses and told their ladies that first they should go to Hamzah’s house and weep and then come back to mourn their own martyrs. The ladies of Ansar, went to Hamzah’s place between the Evening and the Night Prayer time and continued to weep and wail until midnight. During this time the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) awoke and asked what that wailing was. When he learnt the facts he was pleased and he blessed the ladies who had performed this mourning for Hamzah saying: May Allah be pleased with you. May He be pleased with your children.

The above incident is recorded in all books of Islamic history. Inspite of this you may look up in Rauzatus Safa, Vol. 2 (Events following the battle of Uhad). Also refer to Madarijun Nubuwwah and Maarijun Nubuwwah.

In the incident quoted above, some women of different families gathered to mourn a martyr who was not having any family relations with them.

And this assembly and this weeping was according to the will of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and he had desired it. Majlis is also held for the same type of mourning. It is also a gathering of people belonging to different families. The noteworthy point here is that when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) made such elaborate arrangements for the mourning for His Eminence, Hamzah, what he would have done had he been present after the tragedy of Karbala’. The devotees of the Prophet should think upon it and in accordance with his wishes make arrangements for holding Majalis of Husayn (a.s).

(B) The Prophet’s Sunnah is Verbal

The sad utterance of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w):

“But for Hamzah, there is none to weep on him!”

And after that his praying for those who wept on Hamzah shows that it is the verbal Sunnah of the Prophet.

(C) Sunnah of the Imams

Numerous incidents could be cited under the topic but I shall be content to quote only two or three narrational reports. Though before the martyrdom the prophets’ had held many mourning programs for Imam Husayn (a.s), the first Majlis held after the martyrdom, that is recorded in all histories was the one that was held when Yazid felt that the Syrian people were becoming agitated due to the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) and the condition of the captivity of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). Therefore he summoned the people in the Jame Mosque and first his preacher narrated the supposed defects of the Chief of the Martyrs and his ancestors. When he concluded his speech, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) sought permission from Yazid to deliver an address and after due praise and exaltation of the Almighty, began to introduce himself. He mentioned his merits then began to describe his afflictions. It is written that at that time the people of Syria began to wail in incontrollable grief. I am omitting the details for the sake of brevity. What I would like to explain is that our preachers today, following the footsteps of the first Zakir of Imam Husayn (a.s) first speak about the merits and praiseworthy qualities of Allah and Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and then they describe their sorrowful afflictions and tragedies. The Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Awzai has quoted this complete sermon of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s). We abstain from quoting it in whole to maintain brevity. However, you may refer to the complete text of this sermon in books like Lohoof, Ihtijaj of Tabarsi, Biharul Anwar Vol. 10, Manaqib Ibn Shahr Aashob and other innumerable books.

The second Majlis was held when Yazid freed the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and asked them whether they would like to proceed to Medina or prefer to stay there in Damascus for sometime.

The Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) said: “We would like to first mourn for Husayn (a.s) and weep upon him.” Yazid told them that they were free to do so. Then a number of houses were vacated in Damascus for Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and there was no Hashemite and Quraishi lady who did not don a black dress in the grief of Imam Husayn (a.s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) held mourning rituals for Imam Husayn (a.s) for seven days.37

The third Majlis was held at the time of their return to Medina. It was when they arrived at the outskirts of Medina and the whole populace of Medina gathered around their camp. On that juncture, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) came out wiping his tears with a handkerchief. An attendant placed a chair for the Holy Imam (a.s). Such a clamor and wailing arose that the ears of the sky had never heard. The Imam (a.s) motioned the people to silence and seating himself in the chair narrated his tragedies their severity and significance. In this Majlis too, the reciter was the Holy Imam (a.s). It is in emulation of these assemblies that we place a pulpit or a chair for the reciter of Majlis (Zakir). This complete episode with the text of the address of the Holy Imam (a.s) is quoted by Sayyid Ibn Tawus in his book, Lohoof. Our discussion is getting prolonged otherwise I would also have described the assemblies organized and held by Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) and Imam ‘Ali Reza (a.s) in which the ladies also assembled behind the curtains to participate in the morning rituals and on which elegies were also recited. However, it is sufficient to say that a word is enough for the wise.

Nauha and Marsiya

(A) The Prophet’s Sunnah is Practical

It is narrated from the Prophet’s companion, Ibn Masud that when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arrived at the corpse of His Eminence, Hamzah and found it mutilated, he wept so bitterly as he had never done before and he recited the following elegy until he became unconscious:

“O Hamzah! O uncle of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)! O lion of Allah and His Prophet! O one who performed the good deeds. O Hamzah, O one who removed the sorrows, O Hamzah! O one who removed the enemies from the face of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).”

Since the above incident is recorded in all histories, we feel it needless to provide specific reference for it.

(B) The Sunnah of the Imam is Practical

Dirges and elegies of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) are well-known. The following are some couplets that the Holy Imam (a.s) said repeatedly while weeping when he was entering Kufa in captivity:

O evil people, may rain not water your fertile lands.

O people who did not care about our relationship with our grandfather.

When the Prophet and we come together on the Day of Judgment, what would you say regarding us?

You make us travel on saddle-less camels as if we have not established any religion for you.

Was our grandfather the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) not the one who guided the humanity away from deviation?

O the tragedy of Karbala’, that you gave us in inheritance! And may God destroy the honor of these people and expose their defects.

(C) It is the Sunnah of Ahl al-Bayt

Numerous elegies and dirges of Her Eminence, Zainab and Umme Kulthum are famous. Here we quote two couplets of each of the ladies. Lady Zainab recited the following in the bazaar of Kufa when a stone struck the severed head of the holy Imam (a.s):

O new moon! Your light has not been perfected yet.

That you have gone into eclipse and you set.

My dear brother, I have not imagined it. It was a matter destined.

Lady Umme Kulthum recited the following couplets upon their return to Medina:

O city of our grandfather, do not accept us.

We have come with pain, sorrow and grief.

O Fatima if you could see the prisoners

That your daughters are taken out through the towns.

(D) The Sunnah of the Imam is Verbal

Shaykh Mufeed has on the authority of Ibn Quluwahy quoted the following command of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) that:

(Shia Tradition): Every weeping and lamentation is detestable (Makruh) except the one on the tragedy of Husayn (a.s). (As it is rewardable).38

A similar tradition is present in Kamiluz Ziyaraat from another chain of narrators also.

Ma’tam and Mourning Procession

Ma’tam and Mourning Procession39

(A) Ma’tam

Before quoting traditions regarding Ma’tam, I feel it is necessary to mention an incident about Mutawakkil Billah the Ahl al-Sunnah caliph whose merits are such that many Ahl al-Sunnah people give him the grade of Righteous Caliph. He exhibited such zeal in the eradication of innovations that he tried his best to destroy all traces of the tomb of Imam Husayn (a.s). Such a prominent personality, ordered that Ma’tam be performed on the passing away of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.

“Mutawakkil ordered that Ma’tam should be held at the place where the funeral prayer was recited on the bier of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. Thus 2.5 million people gathered at that place and Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and people of four schools performed Ma’tam there.”

Obviously when the caliph who is called as the ‘reviver of the Sunnah’ organized such Ma’tam who had the guts to call it an act of innovation (Bid’ah)?

Apart from this let us now see some traditions that prove that Ma’tam is Sunnah and lawful.

(B) Ma’tam is Practical Sunnah of Imam

When the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) were released from Syria and en route to Medina, they reached Karbala’ and found Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari and some other prominent companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and some other people of Banu Hashim there, what occurred at that time is described by Sayyid Ibn Tawus in Lohoof:

Thus all of them reached there at one and the same time. They met and they wept. They slapped their faces and performed such Ma’tam as injures the hearts. The ladies of the surrounding areas also gathered and joined them in the mourning rituals and this continued for many days.

The above episode clearly shows that people of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), Banu Hashim and prominent companions like Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari and even the ladies of the neighborhood all gathered at the place and took part in the Ma’tam. They slapped their faces and did Ma’tam. And these rituals continued for many days. During all this there is no report of any restraint commanded by Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s). Therefore we have to accept that he also participated in the expression of their grief and rituals of mourning. Therefore it is the practical Sunnah of the Imam.

(C) It is the Silent Permission of Imam

The terminological meaning of ‘Taqreer’ is that if someone performs an act in the presence of the Imam and the Prophet and they, inspite of being capable, do not restrain him or her, it proves that, that act is lawful in Islamic law. If someone is not prepared to accept that the Ma’tam held in Karbala’ was the practical Sunnah of the Imam and says that there is no mention the Imam (a.s) himself participated in it, he or she would have to agree that those people did Ma’tam and slapped their faces for many days in the presence of the Imam (a.s) and while they were subservient to his command and the Imam did not restrain them. Does this not prove that Ma’tam, face slapping and wailing and mourning on Imam Husayn (a.s) is not only lawful, but also a practice of the Imam?

(D) If it is the Sunnah of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)

That Ma’tam is the Sunnah of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) has already been proved by the previous narration report in this regard:

(Shia Tradition): Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said: “After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), Lady Rabab (wife of Imam Husayn) performed Ma’tam on him.”40

(Note: The account of the mourning and grief of Lady Rabab is present in all books of history and biography)

Act of the People of Medina

In the view of Ahl al-Sunnah Imam, Malik, the action of the people of Medina is proof and obligatory action. Let us now see the action of people of Medina regarding the mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s). When the caravan of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) returned and halted on the outskirts of Medina, Bashir bin Juzlam conveyed the news of their arrival to the folks of Medina.41

“Thus no veiled lady remained in Medina who did not come out in such a condition that her hair was in disarray and she was slapping her face and thrashing her cheeks. They were weeping and wailing. Thus I had never seen such clamor ever before and such a crowd of mourners.”

It is obvious that after these explanations, no doubt remains for anyone in the recommended nature of the Ma’tam for Imam Husayn (a.s). Now let us see how the people of Medina reached the Holy Imam (a.s) in a magnificent procession:

Bashir says, “I was in Medina itself and the people of Medina reached Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) before me. Hence I turned my horse and reached there to find the whole area filled with multitudes of people. There was such a crowd that I had to alight from the horse and I walked over the necks of the people to reach Ahl al-Bayt (a.s).”42

From this took shape the present Ma’tam procession. But our Ma’tam procession is actually not in commemoration of this procession of Medinite folks. It is in remembrance of the plundered caravan of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) that was taken from Karbala’ to Kufa, Kufa to Syria and from Syria to Medina. Which was taken through streets, lanes and by lanes. Just as the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) used to weep and wail through the ways, we also emulate them and try to keep their memory fresh.

Leaving embellishment, observing mourning and keeping hair disarranged

(A) The Prophet’s Sunnah is Practical

It is a practical Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) to keep hair awry and to make a face of grief in mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s). Before I present some traditional report in this connection please read the following narration of Mishkatul Masabih, which is accepted by all.

(Sunni Tradition): The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: One who sees me in a dream has actually seen me because the Satan can never appear in my form. This tradition is also universally accepted.

There are many traditions of the same topic and all are universally accepted. It is related from Abu Qatadah Ansari and Abu Huraira in the same chapter and the Shia also believe in it. Now see the following narrational report that Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that one day he was sleeping at home that the sound of weeping and lamentation from the house of Umme Salma, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) awoke him. He went towards Umme Salma’s residence and all Medinite folks also rushed there. Upon reaching there they asked her: ‘O Mother of believers! Why are you lamenting so much? Umme Salma did not give any reply. But she glanced towards the Hashemite ladies and said:

(Shia Tradition): “O daughters of Abdul Muttalib! Help me and join me in lamentation. Because, by Allah, your chief and the leader of the youths of Paradise has been martyred. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and his beloved one, Husayn, has been slain.”43

Ibn Abbas says that he asked Umme Salma how she came to know it. Umme Salma said: I have just seen the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) in my dream. His face was covered with dust and he looked devastated. I asked him what the matter was and he said that his son, Husayn and his family have been massacred today. Hence, he has buried them and was just returning from their burial. Umme Salma says that after receiving this reply she arose and went inside the house and didn’t know what to do. ‘Suddenly I looked at the soil of Karbala’ that Jibraeel had brought.’ (Then she related the complete incident of Jibraeel). Thus when I looked at the bottle, I saw that the soil had turned into fresh blood which was boiling furiously.’ Ibn Abbas says that then Umme Salma took out some of this blood and smeared it on her face and that she observed the day as the day of mourning. She considered it a day for lamenting on Imam Husayn (a.s). After that (days later) messengers brought the news that Imam Husayn (a.s) had been martyred on that same day.

Such types of narrations are present in both Shia and Sunni books in large numbers. Thus we have quoted the account of the soil turning to blood from the marginal notes in our discussion about Ta’ziyah. In the book of Mishkat the incident of Umme Salma’s dream is mentioned in a report of Salma in brief on the authority of Sahih Tirmidhi. This report mentions the observing of Ma’tam. However, our aim of presenting this tradition is to prove that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had his hair awry and his face was covered with dust due to his sorrow for Imam Husayn (a.s). Hence if our ladies or we also make our appearance thus, it is nothing but emulating the Sunnah of the Prophet. It could never be termed as an innovation.

(B) It is the Sunnah of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) said:

(Shia Tradition): “Neither any Hashemite lady comb her hair nor apply dye until Mukhtar sent the heads of the killers of Husayn (a.s) to us.”44

Black Clothes

Allamah Abu Ishaq Asfar Amini (renowned Sunni scholar) in his book, Noorul Ain Fi Mashhadil Husayn, Published Cairo, 1366 A.H. has quoted on Pg. 60 the report of the dream of Sakina. In this dream she saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) in the following condition:

(Sunni Tradition): Suddenly I decried a gentleman, who moved forward in such a manner that the color of his face had changed and it was glowing. And due to the severity of his grief he was stumbling like a woman whose youthful son had died. He was holding his blessed beard, weeping and was in an aggrieved mood. I asked the servant who this gentleman was, dressed in mourning clothes and so much aggrieved? He said, “Didn’t you recognize him?” I said, no. He told me that it was my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).

The condition in which she saw Lady Fatima (s.a.) is as follows:

“And among those ladies (Maryam and Asiya etc.) is a very prominent lady, having her hairs in disarray. She is wearing black clothes and she is holding a shirt smeared with blood.”

This clearly proves that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was in mourning dress and Lady Fatima also had the hair in disarray and wore black clothes.

Silent Sunnah is from the Imam

We have already mentioned how Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) stayed in Damascus for seven days even after they were released and how they spent all this time in performing various rituals in mourning and lamentation for Imam Husayn (a.s).

(Shia Tradition): There was no Hashemite and Quraishi lady who did not don a black dress in grief of Imam Husayn (a.s).45

Mourning House (Azakhana)

The Imam’s Sunnah is Practical

The first mourning house that was made for Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) was the Baitul Ahzaan (House of lamentation) that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) had made for Lady Fatima who used to lament, day and night at the passing away of her blessed father. The people of Medina told Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) to ask Lady Sayyida Fatima to either lament during the day or during the night. Lady Fatima said that she was going to stay among them only for a few days and that very soon she was going to say farewell to them. So, by Allah, she could neither remain silent during the day nor during the night could she stop weeping. Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) said that she could lament whenever she desired. However, keeping in mind the disturbance for the people of Medina he made this arrangement.

(Shia Tradition): His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) constructed a house for Fatima in Baqi on the outskirts of Medina, which became known as Baitul Ahzaan (House of lamentation). In the morning, Lady Fatima used to go weeping towards Baqi with Hasan and Husayn (a.s) and she used to sit in that graveyard and lament. When night fell, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) used to go and bring her home...until the end of the tradition.46

This incident is also mentioned in the books of Ahl al-Sunnah and books of history. This shows that construction of Azakhanas is practice of ‘Ali (a.s).

Arena, drums and lashing with chains

Under the tenth heading I would like to discuss about three things that are sometimes a part of Muharram processions but regarding which there is a difference of opinion among the Shia scholars that whether they could be justified to be part of mourning rituals or not. Or whether they fall under the lawful category of actions or not. If so, under what justifications can they be considered lawful?

However, the most important point is that whatever may be the position of the Shia scholars in this matter, traditions of Ahl al-Sunnah prove beyond any doubt that all these things were permitted by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), hence neither the Ahl al-Sunnah people nor the officers of Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah have any right to say anything against these rituals.

(A) Watching an Arena is Sunnah of the Prophet

Let us see the following tradition that Tirmidhi has judged to be authentic and correct:

(Sunni Tradition): Ayesha is reported to have said that one day the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was sitting when we heard a clamor and noise of children. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) arose and we saw that a black woman was dancing and children had gathered around her. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: Ayesha, come and see. I came and kept my chin on the shoulder of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and began to peep through the gap between his blessed head and shoulder. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) asked me: Are you not satisfied yet? I kept telling him ‘no’ to see how much he cared for me…(until the end of the report).47

This tradition mentions dancing and the marginal notes on this on the authority of Lumah say:

(Statement of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars): But it is not unlawful, because if it had been so, how the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) would have watched it and how he could have allowed Ayesha to watch it?

However, becoming helpless due to the objections of Shias they have interpreted that it was not a dance; it was a display of the art of warfare, that is a ‘wrestling ring’. That is why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) watched it himself and also told Ayesha to watch it. If we accept this interpretation it would clearly justify watching wrestling matches because what it is except display of the art of warfare? And if we don’t accept this interpretation, even then, in comparison to dancing, a wrestling match is not a serious act and in some cases it becomes a recommended thing. No objection can be directed against it.

(B) Listening to drums is Sunnah of the Prophet

Now pay attention to the following tradition, which is exactly before the report quoted above and Imam Tirmidhi says that it is a correct and good report.

(Ahl al-Sunnah Tradition): Buraidah is reported to have said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) led a war expedition and when he returned from it, a black girl arrived to him and said that she had made a vow that if the Almighty brings the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) back safe and sound, she would play the drum in his presence. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: If you have made a vow to play the drum, play it. Otherwise do not. Thus she began to play the drum…(until the end of the report).48

The above-mentioned report shows that drum was played in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and he listened to it being played. Now what is the doubt in its being a verbal Sunnah?

(C) Chain Ma’tam (lashing) is also Recommended

The Ahl al-Sunnah have got such a principle of traditional science that after that, leave alone chain lashing, they do not have the right to object to any ritual of any Muslim sect. Please pay attention to the following tradition, which is related from the famous companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), Ibn Masud, who is reported to have said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“Whatever the Muslims consider good, it is good in the view of Allah also.”49

The refuge of this same tradition is taken when objections are made against innovations started by caliphs. Support is taken by this same tradition when the consensus of Saqifah is criticized. Why only chain lashing, all the items that have become a part of mourning are considered good by a category of Muslim people, therefore on the basis of the tradition presented by Imam Hakim, they are good in the view of Allah and recommended. The Tanzeem Ahl al-Sunnah may say whatever they like, but in the view of Allah all these things are rewardable deeds.

However never should you say:

“So what if one sect likes it; until all the sects do not reach unanimity this tradition cannot be applied.” Because if you say this, the consensus of Saqifah and all the caliphates that are justified through this tradition shall be rendered invalid.

Praise be to Allah that all the points raised by the question are clarified and all rituals of Azadari have been proved to be a part of Sunnah. It has also been elaborated that which particular ritual was a part of which Sunnah also.

Now if our opponent, Maulana Dost Muhammad has any self-respect he should, in exchange of each tradition presented by us, pay up ten rupees, not to me but to the Razakar Association and Anjuman Wazifa Sadat-o-Momineen.

Azadari is Obligatory

When it is proved that rituals of Azadari are Sunnah of Prophet and Sunnah of Imams, to further humiliate Dost Muhammad we would like to call the attention of our readers to a phrase which we had so far kept aside for this special occasion. He says in question no. 2: If it is obligatory, please provide the verse, with ruku50 and Surah number.

Reply: Yes sir! Under some circumstances, Azadari is obligatory and it is in this way that it is allowed to make a vow to perform any recommended act. And one can also take an oath to perform that deed, as all the sects of Islam believe and have faith in. Therefore if one makes a vow to perform any of the above-mentioned rituals of Azadari, or takes an oath, it would become obligatory on him or her to fulfill it. The following verses are sufficient for this purpose:

(1) …and fulfill the promise; surely (every) promise shall be questioned about.51

(2) They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide.52

In addition to these, see the following verses also:

(1) Surah Baqarah, Ruku 36, Verse 270 (2) Surah Baqarah, Ruku 5, Verse 40 (3) Surah Anam, Ruku 19, Verse 53 (4) Surah Nahl, Ruku 13, Verse 91 (5) Surah Hajj, Ruku 4, Verse 29.

As far as possible I tried to be brief in this article. From the multitudes of traditions I have chosen and presented only one tradition for each topic. If inspite of this, the chapter has become so lengthy, it was unavoidable and I hope it would prove beneficial to the readers. And my efforts shall indeed be rewarded if the questioner gets some faith by reading this chapter.

Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light…53

And our final word is that praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

  • 1. Pakistani Urdu Magazine
  • 2. Surah Ibrahim 14:26
  • 3. Asaasul Usool
  • 4. Surah Fatiha 1:6-7
  • 5. Surah Hajj 22:36
  • 6. Surah Baqarah 2:158
  • 7. Benedictory gift of a holy place or occasion
  • 8. Surah Baqarah 2:125
  • 9. Surah Aale Imran 3:97
  • 10. Surah Baqarah 2:248
  • 11. Surah Hajj 22:32
  • 12. Surah Maidah 5:2
  • 13. Surah Rum 30:30
  • 14. Surah Aadiyat 100:1-5
  • 15. Surah Rum 30:30
  • 16. Imam Ghazzali quoted in Sawaiqul Mohreqa, Ibne Hajar Makki
  • 17. Surah Baqarah 2:24
  • 18. Surah Ahzab 33:21
  • 19. Surah Hashr 59:7
  • 20. Shroud
  • 21. A horse taken out as a duplicate of the horse of Imam Husayn (a.s.)
  • 22. Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10, Reward of weeping on calamity
  • 23. Biharul Anwar, Ibid
  • 24. Chapter of Burial of the dead and weeping on the dead
  • 25. Mishkatul Masabih, Chapter on the virtues of Ahle Bayt (a.s.)
  • 26. Mishkatul Masabih, Chapter on Weeping for the dead
  • 27. Surah Anam 6:164
  • 28. Mishkatul Masabih, Chapter of Weeping for the Dead
  • 29. Mishkatul Masabih, Chapter of Weeping for the Dead
  • 30. Surah Anam 6:164
  • 31. Mishkatul Masabih, Chapter of Weeping for the Dead
  • 32. Phallus
  • 33. Tarikh Baghdad, Khatib
  • 34. Marginal notes of Mishkatul Masabih, Matba Farooqi, Delhi, 564
  • 35. Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10
  • 36. Refer the above book on the margins of al-Ittihaf, Pg. 91, Egypt
  • 37. Tahzib, Biharul Anwar, Vol. 10
  • 38. Biharul Anwar Vol. 10
  • 39. Urdu=Juloos
  • 40. Al-Kafi, Biharul Anwar Vol. 10
  • 41. Lohoof, Biharul Anwar
  • 42. Ibid, op cit.
  • 43. Biharul Anwar
  • 44. Biharul Anwar Vol. 10
  • 45. Biharul Anwar, op cit
  • 46. Biharul Anwar Vol. 10
  • 47. Al Hadith, Mishkatul Masabih
  • 48. Mishkatul Masabih
  • 49. Mustadrak, Imam Hakim on the authority of Sawaiqul Mohreqa, Ibne Hajar and Tarikhul Khulafa, Allamah Suyuti
  • 50. Section number
  • 51. Surah Bani Israel, Ruku 4, Verse no. 34
  • 52. Surah Dahr, Ruku 1, Verse no. 7
  • 53. Surah Baqarah 2:257

Banu Umayyah in the View of the Holy Qur’an

Seeing some present conditions that a detailed biography of Yazid should be compiled so that true facts of his life and background may become known to all, we plan to discuss the following points in this treatise:

(1) Name and genealogy

(2) Banu Umayyah in the light of the Holy Qur’an and traditions

(3) The initial lowliness of the Banu Umayyah and the causes of their later prominence

(4) Character of Muawiyah

(5) Character of Yazid’s mother

(6) Upbringing of Yazid and his nature

(7) Events preceding the appointment as heir apparent

(8) Intrigues for heir apparency

(9) Coronation and

(10) Arrangement of the slaying of Imam Husayn (a.s) and its events in brief

(11) The episode of Harrah (sack of Medina) – its causes and consequences

(12) Siege of Mecca – its causes and consequences

(13) Death of Yazid

(14) Habits and traits of Yazid

Since a lot of time and leisure is required to write on all the above topics, I have decided to write on each topic whenever there is opportunity. And when all the topics are covered we can compile them into a book. If Allah the High, wills.

First of all we intend to present and discuss the verses of Holy Qur’an regarding Banu Umayyah. The exegesis and commentaries on these verses is from the books of Ahl al-Sunnah themselves.

First Verse

…and We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Qur’an as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy.1

Under this blessed verse, following traditions are quoted in Tafsir Durre Manthur of Allamah Jalaluddin Abdur Rahman Suyuti:2

(1) Ibn Jarir has related from Sahl bin Saad that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw in his dream, so and so clan jumping on his pulpit like monkeys. Thus he became so aggrieved by it that he never laughed as long as he lived and the Almighty Allah revealed the following verse:

In this tradition the narrator has resorted to dissimulation and refrained from mentioning the name of the tribe or clan but later traditions clearly state the name of Banu Umayyah to be the ‘accursed tree’.

(2) Ibn Abi Hatim has narrated from Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: I have seen the progeny of Hakam bin al-Aas jumping on the pulpits and the Almighty Allah revealed the verse in this connection:

…and We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Qur’an as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy.3

And the ‘accursed tree’ denotes Hakam and his progeny, which was a prominent clan of Banu Umayyah.

(3) Ibn Abi Hatim has narrated from Ya’la bin Marrah that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: ‘I was shown in my dream Banu Umayyah on the pulpits of the world. And very soon they would become your rulers. Then you would find them bad rulers; and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was very much aggrieved due to this dream. Thus Almighty Allah revealed this verse.

(4) Ibn Marduyah has narrated from Imam Husayn (a.s) that one morning the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was very much aggrieved. When the reason for this was asked he said: I was shown in my dream that the Banu Umayyah are barking from my pulpit. So he was told: O Allah’s Messenger, do not be aggrieved by this dream because it is only the worldly things that they shall be able to achieve. At that time the Almighty Allah revealed this verse.

(5) Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Marduyah and in Dalail Baihaqi and Ibn Asakir have narrated from Sa’eed bin Musayyab that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw (in dream) Banu Umayyah on the pulpits. Therefore he was aggrieved due to it. At that time the Almighty Allah revealed that they shall only get the world and they shall remain alien to the Hereafter. So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) became content. And that revelation is the following statement of Allah:

…and We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Qur’an as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy.4

(6) Ibn Marduyah has narrated from Ayesha that she told Marwan bin Hakam that: I have heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) say to your father and grandfather that: You people are the same (family) tree that is cursed in the Holy Qur’an.

This verse and traditions recorded about this verse clearly show that Banu Umayyah was a really evil and inauspicious family which the Almighty Allah has cursed in the Holy Qur’an and whose kingdom is made a test for the people that who would go to the side of Banu Umayyah for obtaining worldly benefits and who remains aloof from them and keeps his or her faith safe. As if both Banu Umayyah and Satan are same by way of being tests for the people. That is why when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw these Satans in human forms jumping on the pulpits he was so shocked that he did not even laugh until the time he remained in the world thereafter.

Now when it has been proved that this whole clan is accursed, if someone yet is doubtful about the justification of cursing Yazid and his father, it only proves his or her lack of understanding of the Holy Qur’an.

Shia commentator, Mulla Mohsin Faid has also in his Tafsir Safi quoted the same traditions in the explanation of this verse and after that he says:

The subject matter of these traditions is same among the Sunni as well as the Shia.

In the end, the respected commentator has pointed out a very interesting point in this verse that in it while the Almighty Allah described the evil handiworks of this family, He has also mentioned in it by name the greatest villain of this clan:

Famaa yaziiduhum illaa t’ughyaanan kabiiraa: …but it only adds to their great inordinacy.5

This statement contains the name of Yazid.

Second Verse

The worldly pomp and grandeur of Banu Umayyah that is mentioned above was not by the wish and will of the Almighty as in the case of Prophet Yusuf and Prophet Sulaiman (a.s). But as clearly stated before, it was by way of test of the people. The matter is further elaborated in the following verse in which the Almighty Allah tells His Messenger to say to them:

And I do not know if this may be a trial for you and a provision until a time.6

Please see the following two narrational reports in this connection:

(1) Ibn Saad and Ibn Abi Shayba and in Dalail, Baihaqi have related from Imam Shobi that when Imam Hasan (a.s) made a treaty with Muawiyah, Muawiyah asked him to arise and say a few words regarding the truce. Thus after praise to the Almighty, Imam Hasan (a.s) said: I have given up the kingdom only for the sake of the welfare of the Muslims and to prevent their bloodshed. And I don’t know whether it could be a test for you and a respite for a few days.” Then he sought the forgiveness of Allah and descended from the pulpit.7

It is wrong to think that Imam Hasan (a.s) merely recited this verse here by way of quoting. The fact is that this verse was only revealed about the kingdom of Banu Umayyah. Now please see this narration:

(2) Ibn Abi Shayba and Ibn Asakir have narrated from Rabi bin Anas that when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) went up to the heavens on the night of Ascension (he saw there some things due to which) the Almighty Allah revealed this verse that:

…and We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Qur’an as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy.8

And these things denote this very kingdom and rulership.”

All the intrigues and plots of Banu Umayyah to acquire this kingdom were apparently conducted in the name of religion, while the fact was they had done all this after ignoring and abandoning the commands of God. Thus the third verse explains this matter in the same way.

Third Verse

And among men there is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge and without guidance and without an illuminating book, Turning away haughtily that he may lead (others) astray from the way of Allah; for him is disgrace in this world, and on the day of resurrection We will make him taste the punishment of burning: This is due to what your two hands have sent before, and because Allah is not in the least unjust to the servants.9

Commenting on the verse, the late Maulana Farman ‘Ali Sahab says on the margins:

“Hafiz bin Muhammad bin Musa Shirazi in Tafsir Ithna Ashar has related from Anas Ibn Malik that: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and talking about the good points of a person. That how steadfast he was in praying, fasting and charity. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said that he did not recognize him. Just then, the person in question arrived there and we said that it was the same person. As soon as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) heard this, he told Abu Bakr to take the sword and behead that man saying: “He is the first person of the party of Satan.” Thus Abu Bakr took the sword and came to the Masjid but found that the man was bowing down in prayers. Thinking that since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has prohibited against killing of worshippers he returned and reported that he had seen him praying and ‘you have prohibited killing a worshipper’. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Sit down, you are not worthy of this.” Then he commanded Umar to go to the mosque and get the severed head of that man. When Umar came with the sword he found the man in prostration. Hence he also returned and described the situation. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “You are also not worthy of this. Sit down.” Then he (s.a.w) said: “‘Ali, get up. And I know that if you find the man you would surely kill him. And if you kill him right now there would never be disunity among the people of this community of mine.” Thus ‘Ali (a.s) went in pursuit but did not find the man there. He returned and reported the situation. At that time the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “O ‘Ali the community of Musa (a.s) was divided into 71 sects, one was delivered and the rest damned. And the nation of Isa (a.s) became divided into 72 sects; one of whom was delivered and all the rest were doomed. And my people shall be divided into 73 sects. One shall go to Paradise and all others to Hell.” ‘Ali (a.s) asked which the delivered sect was? The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) replied: “One who follows your way and the path of your companions.” At that moment the captioned verse was revealed about that man.

Ibn Abbas says: “By Allah, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) slew that man in the battle of Siffeen.” Allamah Ibn Hajar in Fathul Bari, Hafiz Abu Naeem in Hilyah and other Ahl al-Sunnah scholars have also quoted this report.10

When such was the condition of the followers of Banu Umayyah and for them this verse was revealed in denouncement, the conditions of the Banu Umayyah themselves could be estimated easily. In any case, Allah so much liked to fight the supporters of Banu Umayyah that He issued a clear command that just as the infidels were fought for the spread of Islam in the same way the Banu Umayyah should be fought severely for the defense of Islam as the fourth verse is clearly saying.

Fourth Verse

And fight (in the way of) Allah, (such) a fighting as is due to Him…11

Umar has given the explanation of this verse as follows:

(1) Ibn Marduyah has narrated from Abdur Rahman bin Auf that he said that Umar said: In whatever we used to read in the Qur’an, did it not have the verse: “And perform Jihad in the last age for the sake of Allah as it deserves to be fought like you used to perform Jihad in the beginning period?” I said: “Indeed we used to read it. So, Chief of believers, for what time this command is?” Umar replied, “When the Banu Umayyah are the rulers and the Bani Mughaira are their ministers.”12

(It is very astonishing, that in spite of knowing this Umar gave the opportunity to Banu Umayyah to consolidate their position in Syria. And he made such an arrangement for a person in the Shura committee that he should be selected the caliph in any way. And in his caliphate Umar gave an equal share to Abdur Rahman bin Auf.)

(2) Baihaqi has narrated from Musawwir bin Muhzama in Dalail that Umar asked Abdur Rahman bin Auf…and after that is mentioned the whole narrative of the above-mentioned report.

And according to the late Maulana Farman ‘Ali Sahab:

“It is clear that during the time of Yazid, the progeny of Mughaira were in the ministries because the first one to take up the issue of Yazid’s allegiance with Muawiyah and make the people give allegiance was Mughaira, the governor of Kufa. He had sent forty men with his son to Muawiyah to give the allegiance of Yazid. And after those people paid the allegiance, Muawiyah asked his (Mughaira’s) son in private, “How much did your father pay to purchase the faith and religion of these people?” “Four hundred Dinars, “ he replied. “It is still cheap,” remarked Muawiyah. How beautiful! Muawiyah was certain of his dishonesty and falsehood. In any case, the time that the Almighty Allah indicates is that of the time of the Jihad of Imam Husayn (a.s) and it is about this magnificent Jihad that the Almighty Allah speaks about giving His support.”13

Now we have reached the period of Yazid and the battle of Karbala’ and it has become clear that the Jihad Imam Husayn (a.s) performed against Yazid, it was in compliance of this same verse. Such was the significance of this Jihad in the view of the Almighty that He considered these ten days of Muharram to be worthy of honor and He has sworn by it as clearly mentioned in the fifth verse of our discussion:

Fifth Verse

I swear by the daybreak, and the ten nights…14

The following traditional report is mentioned in its exegesis in Tafsir Durre Manthur:15

(1) Muhammad bin Nasr in Kitabus Salaat has narrated from Uthman that people venerate three ‘Ashuras’ (ten-day periods). The first ten days of Muharram, the first ten days of Zilhajj and the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.

It is obvious that there is no apparent reason for the significance of the first ten days of Muharram except that a magnificent confrontation between truth and falsehood was to take place during these ten days in which apparently falsehood shall be victorious but in fact it would be badly vanquished. And it was in remembrance of this event that very much before its actual occurrence these days were made sanctified and venerable. It was when the actual event hadn’t even occurred. Thus among the Jews also the 10th of Muharram was considered a holy day. In the ancient age, the Jewish year began from the month of Rajab and Muharram was the seventh month of their calendar. It is mentioned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:26-32)

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work; and you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.”

“And the Lord said to Moses, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement; it shall be for you a holy convocation and you shall afflict yourselves and present an offering by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whoever is not afflicted on this same day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves; on the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”16

In any case, the kingdom of Banu Umayyah and in it, the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) and the news of other calamities and the knowledge of the destruction of this religion of Islam the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had nurtured with his blood, made the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) so much aggrieved that none could estimate his shock. Thus when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) saw in dream, which was mentioned in the discussion of the first verse, in which the Almighty Allah told that the kingdom of this accursed tree shall be a test for the people, for further comfort of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), Allah also considered it necessary to inform about the duration of the rule of Banu Umayyah and when it shall be finished. So that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) may be comforted after learning about its brief duration. Therefore the Surah Qadr was revealed.

Last Verses

Surely We revealed it on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! It is until the break of the morning.17

Let us see the following narrations recorded in the commentaries of the above chapter:

(1) Khatib has narrated in his History of Baghdad from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw Banu Umayyah in dream on his pulpit and he was aggrieved by it. Thus Allah revealed on him that it would be only apparent rulership that those people shall achieve. And these verses were revealed that:

Surely We revealed it on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! It is until the break of the morning.18

(2) Khatib has narrated from Ibn Musayyab that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “I was shown in my dream that the Banu Umayyah are climbing on my pulpit. Thus this matter was very shocking to me. So the Almighty Allah revealed these verses.”

Imam Hasan (a.s) has indicated towards this same verse when a person criticized him for signing truce with Muawiyah. The Imam said:

“May Allah have mercy on you, do not criticize me because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had seen in dream that the Banu Umayyah are reciting sermon from his pulpit. Thus, he was very aggrieved due to this. At that time this verse was revealed: ‘O Muhammad! We have bestowed Kauthar to you.’ It denoted a stream of Paradise and the following verses were revealed:

Surely We revealed it on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is?19

In which the Banu Umayyah shall be rulers after you.”

Qasim says that when we calculated the duration of the rule of Banu Umayyah we concluded that indeed it lasted for a thousand months. Neither a day more nor less.

The aim of the Holy Imam (a.s) was that by becoming aloof from rulership, his kingdom has not separated from him. Rather their domination remains like before on all the world and on all the things. And in exchange of the difficulties of the brief reign of a thousand months of Banu Umayyah the Almighty Allah has given them the Day of Judgment. And in the Hereafter, He has bestowed them with the Pool of Kauthar. That the kingdom of the Night of Power shall remain with Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) until Day of Judgment means that the Imamate from the side of Allah shall remain only in their family, though oppressors may usurp the apparent rulership from them and may apparently defeat and vanquish them and deprive them from apparent rulership. However, the magnificence of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) shall endure forever.

The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! It is until the break of the morning.20

Then, praise be to Allah for this.

In the end let me explain how the reign of Banu Umayyah lasted for a thousand months. The reign of Banu Umayyah commenced in Rajab 41 A.H. after the truce of Imam Hasan (a.s) and it ended on 1st Shawwal 127 A.H., because it was on this date that the movement of Bani Abbas reached its zenith. And the Bani Abbas demolished the kingdom of Marwan al-Himar, the last Umayyad ruler in no time, though Marwan continued to confront them in sporadic fighting upto 12th Rabi al-Awwal 132 A.H. But it was the struggle of a defeated person that made no impact. In comparison to Bani Abbas he was just a helpless foe.

(1) In this way the total period came to be 86 years and 3 months.

(2) But after Muawiyah the son of Yazid, there was no one on the throne of Damascus for six months. Hence this period shall be deducted from the above duration.

(3) The reign of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz was a shade of security for Bani Fatima and followers of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s). Contrary to the behavior of his predecessors he was kind to the progeny of Fatima. Therefore his reign could not be said to be the period of the opponents of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). And he should be separated from the reign of Banu Umayyah. The reign of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz lasted for two years and five months.

Hence the sum total of the period in which there was no ruler and when the ruler was one who respected Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) comes to two years and eleven months. If two years and eleven months are deducted from eighty-six years and three months the remainder is 83 years and four months of the reign of the oppressive Banu Umayyah. Eighty-three years and four months is equal to a thousand months and it is this period of rulership that the Qur’an has mentioned. The holy Imam (a.s), before the end of this kingdom, informed about its tenure and applied this verse to Banu Umayyah, thus proving that they (Ahl al-Bayt) were true successors of the Prophet and the rightful bearers and explanators of Qur’an.

Anyway, these verses show that Qur’an is not devoid of statements about Banu Umayyah. Rather it contains all their details and traits and defects.

And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability.21

Yazid’s Clan

After my article “Banu Umayyah in the View of Holy Qur’an” was published in al-Jawwad magazine last year, many brothers-in-faith from Pakistan requested me to write on all the topics that I had mentioned and compile a book. The following article is partly in compliance of their wishes but since time is short for a detailed write up I shall try to cover as many points as possible in the briefest manner.

Qusayy bin Kilab was the most prominent heir of the Bani Adnan. He lived in the fifth century A.D. He gathered his clan and resettled them once again in Mecca. That is why he is also known as Quraish (one who gathers) and his descendants began to be referred by this name. For details regarding this matter you may refer to Siratun Nabi of Shibli Nomani, Vol. 2, Pg. 188 and Tarikh Rauzatus Safa, Vol. 2, Pg. 13. He passed away in the year 480 A.D.22

Abde Manaf was the son of Qusayy who became the chief of Quraish after Qusayy. When the generation of Abde Manaf moved ahead, Hashim the ancestor of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was born, whose descendants came to be called as Banu Hashim. Hashim was the great grandfather of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). In addition to Hashim, Abde Manaf had three other sons, Abde Shams, Muttalib and Naufal.

Hashim and Abde Shams were twins and they were born in such a way that the toes of Hashim were stuck at the forehead of Abde Shams in such a way that it was not possible to separate them without causing loss of blood. Thus the toes of Hashim were separated from Abde Sham’s forehead by a sword and Abde Shams bled so much that his whole body was bathed in blood. At that time soothsayers and astrologers predicted that very soon there would be bloodshed between the descendants of these two as had never been witnessed in history. And this was what happened.23

Umayyah, the progenitor of Banu Umayyah is related to this same Abde Shams. Some people say that Umayyah was not the legitimate son of Abde Shams, he was just a slave boy, who became known as Abde Shams’s son as per the Arab convention of that time as Abde Shams had adopted him. The word Umayyah means ‘lowly maidservant’, which strengthens the above view. However, he was generally known as Umayyah Ibn Abde Shams. The second son of Abde Shams was called Rabi. After Abde Shams the family tree proceeded as follows:

Abde Shams had three issues, Umayyah, Rabi and Abdul Izzi.

Umayyah had two sons, Harb and Abul Aas.

Rabi had two sons, Utbah and Shayba.

Harb had a daughter named Umme Jamil, the wife of Abu Jahl and a son named Abu Sufyan. Abul Aas had three sons, Affan (Father of Uthman, the third caliph), Sa’eed and Hakam. Utbah had a daughter named Hind and a son named Walid.

Abu Sufyan had six children, Amr, Umme Habiba (a wife of the Holy Prophet), Muawiyah, Yazid, Utbah (father of Walid, the governor of Kufa) and Hanzala.

Hakam had three children, Harith, Marwan and Abdur Rahman. Muawiyah had eight children, Abdur Rahman, Abdullah, Hind, Aaqila, Ayesha, Yazid the accursed, Rehla and Safiya. Yazid the accursed had two sons, Muawiyah and Khalid.

Apart from this, during the period of Umayyad domination of ignorance an addition was made to this family tree. Zakwan, the slave of Umayyah known by the agnomen of Abu Amr began to be accepted as the son of Umayyah. And in this way in addition to Harb and Abul Aas, Umayyah got a third son free of charge. Thus Abul Faraj Isfahani has written in Aghani Vol. 1 the following episode: When Daghfal the expert of genealogy went to the court of Muawiyah the following conversation took place between them:

Muawiyah: Daghfal, tell me who all you have seen from the elders of Quraish.

Daghfal: I have seen Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim and Umayyah bin Abde Shams.

Muawiyah: Describe to me their appearance, please.

Daghfal: His Eminence, Abdul Muttalib was fair, tall and handsome. The effulgence of prophethood and magnificence of rulership was apparent from his forehead. His ten sons used to surround him from all sides and they all seemed to be like awesome lions.

Muawiyah: okay, now describe the appearance of Umayyah.

Daghfal: He was short, frail, blind and thin old man, who was taken around by his slave, Zakwan.

Muawiyah: Enough! Enough! He was not his slave, he was his son Abu Umar.

Daghfal: Now you people have begun to say this and it is a later invention. I have told the facts that I know about him.24

Anyway, whatever may be the case, the progeny of Abu Umar had a branch, which is interesting to note:

Abu Umar – Abu Muit – Uqbah – Walid.

After that in order to consolidate his ascendancy, Muawiyah in the period of Islam made an addition of a branch to his family tree. That is, he accepted Ziyad bin Sumaiyah as the son of Abu Sufyan. The details of this are present in histories but here let me just explain in brief the basic points of the event. Before accepting Islam, Abu Sufyan once traveled to Taif and landed at a tavern owned by Abu Maryam. After having some drinks he asked Abu Maryam to provide him with a woman. Abu Maryam summoned Sumaiyah, who was the slave girl of Harith bin Kalda Thaqafi and married to one of his slaves, Ubaidah. Thus she became pregnant from Abu Sufyan and Ziyad was born. Initially he was called Ziyad bin Ubaidah or Ziyad bin Sumaiyah and those aware of the truth addressed him as Ziyad bin Abih (Ziyad, son of his father). Since Ziyad was extremely cunning, Muawiyah called him to his side and tried to make him his brother. All the Muslims were opposed to these tactics of Muawiyah, because there is a universally accepted principle in Islam and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) has clearly stated that: “The child shall be related to the man whose wife has given him birth and there are only stones for the fornicator.” (that is the punishment for adultery). However, Muawiyah paid no heed to all this. He arranged witnesses for the despicable act and made Ziyad the son of Abu Sufyan. Abu Maryam, the wine seller was also among the witnesses. He described the episode in such graphic detail that at last Ziyad had to say: “Enough! Abu Maryam! You are here to testify about my genealogy and not to say abusive things about my mother.” The people were so much shocked by this that poets even composed satirical verses in this regard:

“O man, convey this message to Muawiyah. That: ‘Are you angry if someone says that your father was chaste and pious? And you are pleased if someone says that your father was a fornicator?’”

It is a strange way of nature that the most ancient couplet of the Persian language discovered so far is also about this same matter. Thus in the collection of the writings of Qazwini the famous researcher of Iran, titled Bast Maqalaat Qazwini. It contains an article on this topic that Ibn Ziyad punished an Iranian for no fault of his. So he composed the following three lines and displayed them on the streets and roads of Kufa and began to recite them:

“There is water and there is date wine. There is grape juice and Sumaiyah is a wanton.’

Anyway, the son of this same Ziyad, Ubaidullah was appointed as the governor of Kufa by Yazid and entrusted with the task of killing Imam Husayn (a.s).

Now I would like to present in brief the account of some other personalities from the Banu Umayyah clan.


Umayyah bin Abde Shams was very envious of His Eminence, Hashim, that why his generosity, charity and kindness was so renowned in the Arab world. Therefore he also tried to spend much wealth and help the people but failed to earn that same respect. At last he challenged His Eminence, Hashim to participate in a contest of superiority with him. In which both shall describe their virtues and high points and ask someone else to judge which of them was superior. His Eminence, Hashim declined the proposal of his unworthy nephew. However, in the end at the insistence of others he agreed at last on the condition that whichever of them was defeated, he shall have to give to the winner 50 black-eyed she-camels and be exiled from Mecca for ten years. The soothsayer, Khuzai who resided in Asfan was appointed as a judge. After listening to the statements of both, he said:

“By the shining moon and the brilliant stars, by the rain clouds, by the birds that live in the atmosphere and until the time those who go on a height or a lowliness seeking directions from the sign. Until that time Hashim is superior to Umayyah in every excellence and prominence. And the father-in-law of Umayyah, Abu Hamimah is himself aware of this.”

Umayyah according to the terms of the contest handed over 50 she-camels to His Eminence, Hashim and departed to Syria for ten years.25


Harb bin Umayyah was the contemporary of His Eminence, Abdul Muttalib. He wrongfully murdered a Jew and had his property seized. Then he gave refuge to the killers in his house (one of whom was Sakhr bin Amr, the grandfather of Abu Bakr). His Eminence, Abdul Muttalib told him to turn out the killers so that retaliation may be taken with regard to them. Harb refused to do so. The matters reached such a head that it was decided to have a debate and like Hashim and Umayyah, and state their excellences and merits in presence of a judge who would decide between them. Both the parties went to Najjashi, the Abyssinian ruler, but he refused to mediate in the matter. Therefore the two of them returned to Mecca and Umar’s grandfather, Nufail bin Abdul Izzi was appointed as the referee. After listening to both their claims he said, “Why Harb! Why did you try to gain prominence over this honorable gentleman? The one who is taller in stature than you and is more respectable. He is having an awesome personality and is superior to you in elegance. He commands much more respect than you and is very less in dishonor compared to you. He has more children than you and he is more benevolent and generous that you. He is much ahead of you in his awe and grandeur. I am saying this but I am very much aware that far from anger and fury you are a strong rope for the support of your clan. But justice says that you have tried to compete with one before whom you are absolutely worthless and lowly.”

Harb bin Umayyah was infuriated to hear this and he said: “It is but the upheaval of this damned time that a person like you has become a judge in this matter.”

Anyway, after this, His Eminence, Abdul Muttalib had him removed from his circle. He was also made to pay a hundred she-camels for the murder of the Jew and the property of the Jew that was allowed to be plundered by Harb was restored to its owners. Whatever things could not be returned were paid from his money.26


He was the father of Uthman. He was a professional traditional singer and he used to play the drum etc. Affan literally means ‘bad smelling’ or ‘rotten’.


He was the third caliph of the majority (Sunnis) whose caliphate was established solely as a result of the opinion of Abdur Rahman bin Auf and upon whose execution the whole Islamic community was unanimous. He appointed Banu Umayyah everywhere over the Muslims. He appointed as the governor of Egypt apostate like Abdullah bin Abi Sarah regarding whom the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) ordered that he should be executed even if he is found in the Ka’ba. Uthman acted thus because Abdullah was his foster brother. In place of Saad bin Abi Waqqas (who was included among the Ashra Mubashera)27 and was the father of Umar Ibn Saad) he appointed Walid bin Uqbah as the governor of Kufa, who in a state of intoxication led the congregation to recite four instead of two units in the Morning Prayers. Uthman called back Marwan bin al-Hakam to Medina and made him his right hand. It was the same Marwan whom the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had expelled from Medina and Umar had exiled him out of Hijaz to Yemen. Uthman entrusted the complete matter of caliphate to him and gave him the total Khums money received from Africa. Uthman also recalled to Medina, his uncle, Hakam, the father of Marwan who was called ‘the one expelled by the Prophet’. And he gave him a place to reside in Medina.

He (Uthman) showered the Banu Umayyah with money, although they were deadly foes of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), on the other hand he dishonored many respectable companions of the Prophet. He had Abu Zar beaten up and exiled. Abdullah Ibn Masud was also beaten up so badly that he got hernia. He burnt up copies of Holy Qur’an. He plotted the murder of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr. He beat up a beloved companion of the Prophet like Ammar in such a way that he lost consciousness. Contrary to the prophetic practice, he recited complete four units of prayers instead of the prescribed shortened two units in Mina plains on the occasion of the Hajj, while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to always shorten them to two units. He took possession of the pastures on the outskirts of Medina in the area of Baqi though it was public property. He handed over Fadak to Marwan and made it his personal property. It was the same Fadak that Umar and Abu Bakr had confiscated saying that it was the property of Muslims.

At last people became so much fed up with his favoritism and despotism that Muslims of Egypt, Kufa and Basra gathered at Medina and killed him. The corpse could not be buried for three days and even when it was buried, it was in the cemetery of Jews. A leg was devoured by the dogs of Medina. In other words there was such a consensus on him being guilty and fit to be executed that the consensus of Saqifah was nothing in comparison to it.

Hakam bin Abil Aas

This gentleman was the uncle of Uthman. He was compelled to accept Islam in the year of the conquest of Mecca, while his heart was yet full of disbelief and hypocrisy. He came and settled down in Medina and passed on confidential information about the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) to the infidels. He used to spy on the activities of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). Shobi says that actually that was why he had made a show of accepting Islam. One day the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw that he was mimicking him behind his back. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) cursed him and he became such that it seemed as if he was to fall down headlong while walking. After that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had him exiled to Taif. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) invoked curse on him on three occasions and said: “Very soon he would oppose the Book of Allah and the practice of the Messenger and very soon such mischiefs will emerge from his loins that their smoke shall reach upto the sky.” People asked, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), he is so lowly and degraded that such great acts cannot be expected from him.” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “No, it shall be as I have said and at that time some of you shall be his helpers and supporters.” Abdullah bin Zubair while circumambulating the Ka’ba said: “By the Lord of the Ka’ba, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had invoked curse on Hakam and also cursed those who are born from him.”

This cursing is so famous that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s), Imam Hasan (a.s), Imam Husayn (a.s), Ayesha and many other companions of the Prophet mentioned it to Marwan bin Hakam directly. Since the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had him exiled to Taif he came to be known as ‘the one expelled by the Prophet’. When Uthman became the caliph, he recalled him to Medina. When he died, Uthman prayed his funeral prayer and accompanied his bier. Upon this, Muslims criticized his saying: “You have recalled him. This itself was not enough that now you are reciting prayer on a hypocrite and accursed man, whom the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had cursed and had him exiled?”28

Uthman had appointed him as the collector of Zakat from the tribe of Qazaya. He collected 30000 Dinars from them. Uthman told him to keep all the money for himself. Upon this, Saad bin Abi Waqqas, the treasurer came to the Masjid and threw down the key of the treasury saying, “If Hakam is given 30000 Dinars, I would not remain the treasurer.”

Marwan bin Hakam

Marwan was the son of Hakam, cousin and son-in-law of Uthman. He was born in the year 2 A.H., while his father was yet a disbeliever. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) saw him, he said, “The young one of a lizard is also a lizard. The offspring of an accursed is accursed.” He was six or seven years of age when Hakam became a Muslim and came to Medina and was immediately expelled and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Who would save me from this lizard?” He also said, “He should not be allowed to be with me at any place.” Thus at this same time he went to Taif with his father and brothers. From there when the second caliph expelled him to Yemen, he also went with them. He came back during the third caliphate and became the vizier and the secretary of the caliph. He was the one most responsible for the murder of Uthman. After Uthman, he became Muawiyah’s adviser. During the time of Muawiyah he remained the governor of Medina for some time. After the coronation of Yazid, he told Walid bin Uqbah, the governor of Medina that if Husayn (a.s) did not pay allegiance at that moment he would never pay it. So either you kill him or take allegiance.” After the martyrdom of Husayn (a.s) when the people of Medina rebelled against Yazid and began to expel selectively each member of Banu Umayyah from Medina, and there was risk of being killed and destroyed, Marwan sought the refuge of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) and the Imam gave him refuge. This was the magnanimity of the holy Imam. When after the death of Yazid, his son Muawiyah became aloof from the kingdom and because of this he was buried alive, the throne of Damascus remained vacant for six months. At last, this same Marwan got the throne and again the kingdom of Banu Umayyah remained in their own progeny. It could be possible only for those who believe Muhammad as a prophet to accord such honor to one who was cursed by the Prophet and whose progeny was cursed by the Prophet and one who was externed by the Prophet! It was not surprising that he married the wife of Yazid and mother of Khalid. One day in the full court, Marwan abused Khalid and Khalid complained to his mother. She obtained the assistance of her maids and during the night smothered Marwan with a pillow and sat upon it until he died of suffocation.

Harith bin al-Hakam

He was the son of Hakam and the brother of Marwan. He was a partner of his father in the Prophet’s curse. Uthman received in Zakat a train of camels and gifted them all to Harith in fulfillment of his duties towards the next of kin.

Sa’eed bin Abil Aas

He was the paternal uncle of Uthman. Uthman gifted him a hundred thousand Dinars from the public treasury at a single time. These very generosities became the cause of ill will among the people.

Utbah bin Rabi, Shayba bin Rabi and Walid bin Utbah

Utbah bin Rabi was the maternal grandfather of Muawiyah and Walid bin Utbah was the brother of Muawiyah’s mother. All of them were severe infidels and leaders of the polytheists of Quraish. In the battle of Badr they were the first to come out to fight. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) sent three men from Ansar (Helpers) to fight them. They were named Maaz, Masud and Auf. When the three infidels asked their names and genealogy and it was learnt that these youths were from the Helpers, they said they had nothing to do with them. ‘We have enmity towards the Quraish who have become Muslims.’ At last the three young men returned and Utbah and his companions called out that someone who belonged to their community should come out and fight them. At last the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) sent His Eminence, Hamzah, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) and His Eminence, Ubaidah bin al-Harith to confront them. After names and genealogies were mentioned, the battle started, Walid bin Utbah (Muawiyah’s uncle) contested His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), Utbah himself fought with His Eminence, Hamzah and Shayba went to battle with Ubaidah. His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) sent Walid to Hell with a single stroke of the sword. His Eminence, Hamzah slew Utbah and dispatched him to the Hellfire. However, Shayba slashed at the legs of His Eminence, Ubaidah in such a way that he fell down and his heels began to bleed. Meanwhile after finishing off their foes, His Eminence, Hamzah and His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) turned to help Ubaidah and killed Shayba. They carried Ubaidah from the battlefield to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). He lived until the battle continued but before reaching Medina, he passed away from the world to Paradise at a place called Rad-ha or Wadi Sughra. He was buried at the same place.

Umme Jamil – Carrier of Firewood

She was the sister of Abu Sufyan and the maternal aunt of Muawiyah. She was the wife of Abu Lahab, the enemy of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). She used to lay horns in the path of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). That is why she is referred to as ‘the carrier of firewood’ in the Surah Lahab and given the ‘good news’ that a rope of fire shall be around her neck. Zakir Husayn Sahab in his History of Islam, Pg. 47 has written that, “Abu Lahab’s opposition was mostly due to the opposition of his wife, as he was very obedient to her.” When the Surah Lahab was revealed, she came with a stone to kill the Prophet but the Almighty Allah put a curtain on her sight and she could not see the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) even though he was sitting right before her.29

One day His Eminence, Aqil went to the court of Muawiyah who in order to ophumiliate him told the people, “This is Aqil whose uncle was Abu Lahab.” Aqil at once retorted, “And this is Muawiyah whose aunt was the carrier of firewood.” After that he said, “O Muawiyah! When you go to Hell, look to your left, my uncle Abu Lahab would be upon your aunt there also. At that time you must ponder that of the two whether the subject is better or the object.”30

Uqbah bin Abi Muit

He was in the forefront in harassing the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) before the migration (Hijrat). When the infidels forced Banu Hashim to be confined in the Sheb-e-Abu Talib, it was this accursed man who went accompanied with Abu Jahl outside Mecca and told all the traders and foreigners not to have any dealings with Banu Hashim otherwise they would have to face dire consequences. He used to think up a thousand ways to kill the Prophet. According to the statement of the historian of Rauzatus Safa, after the demise of Abu Talib, Abu Lahab had told the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), “You may continue your mission like you did during the lifetime of Abu Talib, I shall defend you.” At that time it was Abu Jahl who instigated Abu Lahab and he became a more severe enemy of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). It was Uqbah who had once in the vicinity of the Ka’ba, put a sheet around the Prophet’s neck and twisted it so much that the Prophet was suffocated. At last Lady Fatima (s.a.) was informed about it and she arrived to save the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).

Uqbah was taken a captive in the Battle of Badr. Other captives were released after paying Jizyah31 but Uqbah and another dangerous man, Nadhr bin Harith were executed.

Walid bin Uqbah bin Abi Muit

He was the son of Uqbah mentioned above. He was the half brother of Uthman. That is their mother was same. According to the unanimous opinion of the Qur’anic exegesists, he was the person who is mentioned as “evil-doer” in the following verses of Qur’an:

O you who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it…32

Uthman appointed him as the governor of Kufa. He used to drink from dusk until dawn. One day after the call for Prayer he arrived in the Masjid in a state of intoxication and led the people of Kufa to recite four instead of the prescribed two units of the dawn prayers. During the bowings and prostrations, instead of praising and glorifying Allah he said: “You drink” and “Serve me the drink.” Then he vomited in the prayer niche (Mihrab). After that he recited the salutation and said, “Today I am in a very good mood. If you want, I can make you recite more prayers.” At that moment, Ibn Masud cursed him and the one who had appointed him as the governor. Turmoil and a clamor arose among the people. Poets composed couplets on the episode. The couplets Abu Malika Hatiya are very famous in this regard.

Abu Sufyan

After writing briefly on the other branches of the family tree of Banu Umayyah I begin with the family of Yazid himself. Abu Sufyan, father of Muawiyah and grandfather of Yazid was the deadliest foe of Islam. In the Battle of Badr, as we have stated above, the father-in-law and brothers-in-law of Abu Sufyan were put to death. In addition to this, Abu Sufyan’s son, Hanzala was also killed at the hands of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s). Thus it is mentioned in Rauzatus Safa that Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) hit Hanzala with such a strike that Hanzala’s eyes popped out. Another son of Abu Sufyan, Amr bin Abu Sufyan was also arrested by Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), and at the time of distribution of war booty he fell in the share of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Abu Jahl was also killed in the Battle of Badr. And now the leadership of the polytheists of Quraish fell on Abu Sufyan. He swore that until he does not avenge those killed in the Battle of Badr, he would refrain from sex and from oiling his hair. After the Battle of Badr and until the Treaty of Hudaibiyah a period of four whole years passed. During this period he fought altogether five battles against the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w): (1) Battle of Sawiq (2) Battle of Uhad (3) Humartul Asad (4) Second Battle of Badr and (5) Battle of Khandaq (Ditch). Of these, the Battles of Uhad and Khandaq were very significant. In the last battle, Abu Sufyan even made a pact with the Jews to confront the Prophet jointly and in addition to Quraish, Bani Nuzayr, Bani Ghaftan, Bani Qais many other tribes came to his side. After the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, direct confrontation came to an end. Again in 8 A.H. he broke the terms of the truce and at last the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was compelled to undertake the conquest of Mecca. Abu Sufyan and all other polytheists were so much awed that without any bloodshed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and his army entered victorious in Mecca only by the help of God and Mecca was conquered. At that time, Abu Sufyan and others had to helplessly obey Islam. He is included among ‘Moallifatul Quloob’. That is he is of those whom the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to pay now and then from the war booty so that they may not oppose Islam in greed of the money they were getting.

After the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), when instead of His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), Abu Bakr became the caliph, Abu Sufyan with the intention of destroying the Muslims, tried to instigate Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) to fight against Abu Bakr. His Eminence, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) understood his plans and he said to him, “You were an enemy of Islam while being a disbeliever and still wish bad for Islam.” After this Abu Sufyan went to Abu Bakr and threatened that he would put his rulership to disintegration, and the caliph, in order to win him to his side, offered the governorship of Syria to him. He said that since he was aged, the position may be entrusted to his son, Yazid. Thus Yazid bin Abu Sufyan became the governor of Syria. When he died, Muawiyah, another son of Abu Sufyan took his place. In this way two birds were killed with one stone. Abu Sufyan’s opposition was neutralized and a force came into being against the Banu Hashim.

When Uthman became the caliph, Abu Sufyan told him, “O Banu Umayyah! I don’t think that the affair (prophethood) is anything but rulership. Now that you have become its masters, you turn it around like a ball and play with it.” This statement informs us about the actual faith of this man. The surprising fact is that Uthman did not even correct him. I don’t know if the saying: “Silence is like complicity” is applicable here.

Thus, from the early age until the end, Abu Sufyan remained an apostate and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had cursed him and his progeny. Thus Imam Razi has written that Imam Hasan (a.s) delivered a sermon in the presence of Muawiyah and said:

“O Muawiyah, one day you were herding your father’s camel and your brother was pulling at it. (This episode is after Abu Sufyan lost his eyesight). The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) cursed the camel, its rider and one who was pulling it and one who was herding it. And your father was riding it, your brother was pulling it and you were herding it (from behind).” Allamah Sibte Ibn Jauzi has written in Tadkeratul Khawaas that Imam Hasan (a.s) said: “This episode of cursing is of the Battle of Khandaq.” Anyway, whatever its occasion may be, it is proved that Abu Sufyan was cursed by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) himself.

Hind–The Liver Eater

Her father, Utbah, uncle, Shayba, brother, Walid and son, Hanzala were all killed in the Battle of Badr. And it was a coincidence that all of them were killed at the hands of Banu Hashim. The fire of revenge was raging in her heart. When preparations began for the Battle of Uhad, Hind insisted that women should also be taken along. Thus along with other people, Abu Sufyan also took his wives, Hind and Binte Saad. Hind became the leader of the ladies group. At every halt the ladies used to sing about memory of those slain in Badr. When the battle started, Hind and other women, began to play tambourine and sing the famous song whose opening lines were:

We are the daughters of Tariq.33

We walk upon the plush floorings.

They began to encourage the people to fight fiercely. She told Wahshi the slave of Jubair bin Motam that he would be rewarded very much if he could succeed in killing the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) or His Eminence, Hamzah. When Wahshi came to the battlefield, he saw that it was impossible to reach the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) was very alert in fighting, but His Eminence, Hamzah was fighting with such passion that now and then he became oblivious of the surroundings. So Wahshi began to pursue him and when he killed Sabbagh bin Abdul Izzi, Wahshi hid in an ambush and threw his attack towards Hamzah. It cut through the navel and came out breaking the back. In this condition also, His Eminence, Hamzah tried to pursue him but he fell down and reached the mercy of Allah. Wahshi slit open the belly of His Eminence, Hamzah, took out his liver, came to Hind and said, “This is the liver of your father’s killer.” Hind put the liver in her mouth and began to chew it. The Almighty Allah disliked that the liver of the Chief of the Martyrs, His Eminence, Hamzah should become a part of the body of an inmate of Hell. Therefore the liver became stone hard and came out of her mouth. From that time Hind began to be called, “The liver-eater.” Whatever dresses and jewellery Hind had, she gave it all in reward to Wahshi and also promised that on return to Mecca she would further give him ten Dinars. Then she expressed the desire to visit the site of Hamzah’s martyrdom. When she reached there, she mutilated the body of this holy martyr and she cut off his ears, nose and private parts and took them to Mecca.

On the day of the conquest of Mecca when Abu Sufyan saw the might of the Prophet’s army, and he came running to his people, to persuade the infidels not to fight the Prophet, Hind pulled at his beard and said, “O progeny of victors, kill this aged fool so that he may not talk of such things.”

At last when the Meccans helplessly and detesting it, accepted Islam and the points on which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) took the allegiance of Hind, one of them was that she would not commit fornication. Maybe some people would feel it a strange promise. However, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was compelled to take this type of undertaking because like Abu Sufyan, Hind was also notorious for her wanton deeds that she committed openly. She was specially attracted to black men and whenever she gave birth to a black child she used to kill it. Allamah Sibte Ibn Jauzi’s words in Tadkeratul Khawaasul Ummah are worthy of mention:

“Asmai and Hisham bin Muhammad Kalbi have written in Mathaleeb and from that writing I understood this statement of Imam Hasan (a.s) that: ‘O Muawiyah! You well know of the bed on which you were born.’ Asmai and Kalbi say that Muawiyah was born of the seeds of four men of Quraish: (1) Ammar bin Walid bin Mughaira (2) Musafir bin Abi Amr (3) Abu Sufyan and (4) Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib. They were friends of Abu Sufyan and each of them had relations with Hind. Ammar was the most handsome man of Quraish. Regarding Musafir bin Amr, Kalbi says that Muawiyah was most likely his son because Musafir was highly infatuated with Hind. When Hind conceived Muawiyah, Musafir feared that the secret would be revealed that it was by his seed. So he fled to the king of Hira, Hind bin Amr and settled there. It so happened that Abu Sufyan arrived in Hira on some business and met Musafir. At that time Musafir was lying sick in the love and separation of Hind. Musafir asked about the well-being of the Meccan folks and Abu Sufyan informed him accordingly. People say that Abu Sufyan married Hind when Musafir left Mecca (Hence before that, Abu Sufyan also had illicit relations with Hind). So Abu Sufyan informed Musafir also about his marriage to Hind after he (Musafir) had left Mecca. On hearing this, the illness of Musafir became more serious and he began to waste away until he finally died in the love of Hind.”

The Allamah has also said that Hind was among the most lustful women and she was highly attracted towards black men. Whenever she gave birth to a black child, she used to kill it.

The lustful behavior of Hind was so famous that when Hassaan bin Thabit composed a panegyric in praise of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), he included therein some couplets openly describing the deeds of Hind. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) also did not say anything against it, thus permitting the denouncement of these foes of Islam. Hassaan says:

“May Allah curse Hind and her husband Abu Sufyan. Hind, whose clitoris is very long.

Her back and front have become injured,

Because they are again and again receiving hits.

O Hind, have you forgotten your unlawful deeds that you have done?

O Hind, The curse of the world be on you.

The women think that children born to Hind,

Have all come through fornication.”


He was considered an expert in un-Islamic politics and this cunning and deception was only due to the fact that he was a child of sin as proved by statements of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars.

Thus the Sunni writer Qutubuddin Shirazi writes in his book, Nazihatul Quloob that is quoted in Ahqaqul Haqq as follows:

“Allamah Qutubuddin Shirazi has said that the child born through adultery is more ‘brilliant’ because man commits adultery with great joy and delight, on the basis of which the child becomes perfect, while in sex with wife, the man has to observe artificiality. And that is the reason that Amr bin Aas and Muawiyah were the most cunning men. After saying this he has given details of their genealogy. Then he says that among those born by the grace of adultery was Ziyad bin Abih regarding whom the poet says:

“O man, convey this message to Muawiyah. That: ‘Are you angry if someone says that your father was chaste and pious? And you are pleased if someone says that your father was a fornicator?’”34

The evil traits and defects of Muawiyah are so numerous that if it is not possible to discuss all of them in this brief chapter. However, since the antics of his ancestors were not so well known I discussed them in some detail. But as for the handiworks of Muawiyah, they are common knowledge therefore I feel there is not much need to describe them here. Before accepting Islam he was the right hand of Abu Sufyan in every battle against Muslims and was always trying ways to finish the Prophet. When he accepted Islam he continued to be included among doubtful characters. On the day of the Conquest of Mecca the lives of the polytheists were spared by the Prophet’s words that, “Go, I have freed you.” According them freedom means that at that time they all had become his slaves, but the benevolence of the Prophet emancipated them. When his elder brother, Yazid, who was appointed the governor of Syria, died, he succeeded to the seat of governorship. There he indulged in such luxury and opulence that it even exceeded Choesroes and Caesars. Thus Umar used to call him the Caesar of Arabs. It is mentioned in Tarikh Rauzatus Safa, Pg. 34, that he was the first in Islam to construct a prison. He was the first to take allegiance for his son. He was the first one to make a hollow in the wall of Masjid for the prayer leader. He was the first to employ eunuchs in his service. In his final age he developed such a huge belly that he used to deliver the sermon in the sitting position in prayers. He was the first to make a stranger his blood relative. That is, he made Ziyad bin Abih as his brother. He took up arms against Amir al-Mu’minin, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s). He fought 19 battles with him and in this took the burden of the death of thousands of people on his neck. He instigated Judah binte Ashath to poison Imam Hasan (a.s). He had Abdur Rahman bin Khalid bin Walid poisoned. He had Muhammad bin Abi Bakr put in a skin of a donkey and had him burnt alive. In addition to these, there are numerous other misdeeds of Muawiyah mentioned in Rauzatus Safa, but it is not possible to narrate all of them here. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) cursed him that may his belly never fills. Thus he used to get tired of eating but his appetite was never satiated and he used to remain hungry. He had Ammar Ibn Yasir killed and thus fulfilled the prophecy of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that a rebellious group shall kill Ammar. He had Malik Ibn Ashtar poisoned. He had Hujr bin Adi and Amr bin Hamaq Khuzai and his companions killed. He promoted wine drinking. He permitted sensuality. Thus what all traits could be described? His greatest ‘achievement’ was that he hoisted Yazid as the ruler of Muslims and started dynastic rule in Islam.


Yazid was the son of Muawiyah. Yazid naturally became such because he was born and bred in a family in which not a single person could be said to have any positive quality. On top of this, like Muawiyah he was also a child of adultery and as per the statement of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) such people shall indeed be enemies of the saints of Allah. The account of the mother of Yazid is given in Nasikhut Tawarikh,35 on the authority of other books of history:

“The mother of Yazid was Maysun. She was the daughter of Bajdal bin Ainaf Kalabi. They all were Bedouins. Muawiyah married her. It was the second marriage for Maysun. But just before this marriage she had slept with Saffah, a slave of her father and from whom she had become pregnant with Yazid. After coming to Damascus, the secret remained a secret because until that time the pregnancy had not become apparent. Muawiyah thought that it was his own child and he named him Yazid.

Maysun, as we have stated, was a Bedouin woman and she was in love with Saffah. She began to find the luxury of Damascus suffocating. One day she was reciting the following couplets in her room, when Muawiyah overheard her:

“I prefer thick woolen garments to delicate fabrics as they please me more.

And I like a house of wild winds blowing than a high palace.

I am more pleased with the sound of wind in caves and doors than sounds of tambourine and musical instruments.

And a line of supple camels that could pursue an ostrich is better for me than swift ponies.

The flesh of porpoise and rabbit is my staple diet and more delicious to me than bread.

And any of my cousins of noble birth is better than this nasty infidel.”

As soon as Muawiyah heard this bitter satire, he divorced her and packed her off back to her tribe. Yazid visited his mother frequently and stayed with her. Her people were all Christians. The life of desert, company of infidels, family impurity and natural illegitimacy were all those things that came together to be seen in the nature of Yazid.

  • 1. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 2. Vol. 4, Pg. 191, Egypt
  • 3. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 4. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 5. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 6. Surah Anbiya 21:111
  • 7. Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 4, Pg. 362, Egypt
  • 8. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 9. Surah Hajj 22:8-10
  • 10. Marginal notes: Holy Qur’an, Translated by Maulana Farman ‘Ali
  • 11. Surah Hajj 22:78
  • 12. Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 4, Pg. 371, Egypt
  • 13. Marginal notes: Holy Qur’an, Translated into Urdu by Maulana Farman ‘Ali, Pg. 544
  • 14. Surah Fajr 89:1-2
  • 15. Vol. 4, Pg. 346, Egypt
  • 16. Leviticus 23:23-32
  • 17. Surah Qadr, 97
  • 18. Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 6, Pg. 371, Egypt
  • 19. Surah Qadr, 97:1-2
  • 20. Surah Qadr, 97:4-5
  • 21. Surah Ibrahim 14:26
  • 22. Tarikh Aaimmah, Maulana Sayyid ‘Ali Haider, Pg. 48
  • 23. Ummahatul Ummah, Deputy Nazir Ahmad, Pg. 37, Tarikh Aaimma, Pg. 53, Rauzatus Safa, Vol. 2, Pg. 13
  • 24. Tarikh Aaimma, Pg. 88
  • 25. Tarikh Kamil, Vol. 2
  • 26. Tarikh Kamil, Vol. 2
  • 27. The ten people who were given good news of Paradise by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) according to the belief of Ahle Sunnah
  • 28. Tadkeratul Khawaasul Ummah, Sibte Ibne Jauzi
  • 29. Tafsir Safi
  • 30. Tarikh Aaimma, Pg. 117, quoted from Thamaraatul Awraaq
  • 31. Tax on People of the Book who reside in Muslim dominions
  • 32. Surah Hujurat 49:6
  • 33. An ancestor of these people
  • 34. Quoted from Istisqaatul Afhaam, Vol. 2, Pg. 853
  • 35. Vol. 6, Pg. 153-154

Who were the killers of Imam Husayn(a.s)?

Time and again objection is issued by the ignorant that killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) were Shias. Though more than once those objections have been replied and refuted, yet once in a while the same voice is heard again. I would like to present a criterion by which truth and falsehood can be distinguished and any impartial, justice-minded person would have no difficulty in differentiating between truth and falsehood.

If we ponder upon the following three points there would be no problem in taking a decision:

(1) Which sect is in perfect agreement with the holy personalities and their deeds and which group is in opposition to them.

(2) Which sect considered Yazid to obligatorily deserve curse and in the view of which sect is he obligatorily qualified for obedience (or in whose view at least he should not be cursed)?

(3) Which sect observes aloofness and harbors hatred towards the military chiefs of Yazid and those who participated in the slaying of Imam Husayn (a.s) and which group considers them reliable in religious matters and takes narrational reports from them and praise and admire them?

After an inquiry into these three things a decision could easily be reached whether the killers of Husayn (a.s) are connected to the sect, which until today considers Yazid accursed and damned or to the sect with personages who shower praises on the military chiefs of Yazid and consider Yazid himself worthy of obedience.

The First Problem

Now we shall think upon the first problem: “Which sect is in perfect agreement with the holy personality of the martyr of Karbala’ and his deeds, and which group is in opposition to him.”

There is no need at all to say this regarding the Shias that they consider Imam Husayn (a.s) obligatorily worthy of obedience by the command of Allah, that he is appointed by Allah and was the true successor of the Prophet. They consider each saying and action of his as per the will of Allah. They consider his truce and battle the mirror of the best wisdoms and his rising and sitting a reflection of the Divine hidden wisdom. In view of Shias, Husayn (a.s) was a piece of Muhammadan effulgence. His flesh and blood were flesh and blood of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Love towards him is obligatory on all. His obedience was a channel for perfection of faith. He was pure of every mistake and deviation. Loving him is recompense of prophethood:

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…1

His being is purified of every physical and spiritual filth and impurity:

Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying.2

He is the son of the Prophet.

Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.3

He is the flower of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). He is from the Prophet and the Prophet is from him. His Imamate is neither based on an armed uprising nor allegiance of the people. He is the chief of the youths of Paradise. He was infallible since the beginning of his life until the last moments. The infallibility of the Holy Imam is the special belief of the Shias, which is not shared by any non-Shia sect. (Although many Ahl al-Sunnah researcher scholars consider them protected from sins).

As for the non-Shia sects, among them also all Hanafi, Shafei and most Hanbali consider Imam Husayn (a.s) on the right and Yazid on the wrong – quoting references here would unnecessarily prolong the discussion, hence I am just giving here a few names of scholars and the books in which they have mentioned those points:

(1) Allamah Qastalani (Shahabuddin Abul Abbas Ahmad bin Muhammad died 923 A.H..) – Irshad as-Saari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 10, Pg. 139

(2) Ibn Jauzi (died 1200 A.D.), Ar Raddo A’laal Mutasibul Aneed al Maane min dhimme Yazeed

(3) Sibte Ibn Jauzi (died 1257 A.D.), Tadkeratul Khawaasul Ummah

(4) Allamah Ahmad bin Hajar al-Haithami (died 974 A.H.) Sawaiqul Mohreqa, Pg. 132-134

(5) Imam Jalaluddin Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakr as-Suyuti (died 911 A.H.), Tarikhul Khulafa

(6) Allamah Taftazani (Saaduddin Masud bin Umar, died 1389 A.D.), Sharh Aqaid Nasafi

(7) Shaykh Muhammad Sabban (Muhammad bin ‘Ali, died 1792 A.D.), Isafur Raghibeen

(8) Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi (died 1824 A.D.), Madarijun Nubuwwah, Jazbal Quloob

(10) Maulana Abdul Hayy Farangi Mahli: Fatawi, Vol. 3, Pg. 7

(11) Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan Bhopali (died 1889 A.D.), Baghiyatur Rayed Fee Sharhul Aqaid, Pg. 97

(12) Maulana Muhammad Mateen Farangi Mahli, Waseelatun Najaat, Pg. 290

(13) Mufti Muhammad Ikramuddin, Sadatil Kaunain fee Fazailil Hasnain

(14) Qadi Muhammad Sulaiman, Rahmatallil Aalameen, Pg. 233

This is a sample that includes names of Hanafi, Shafei and Hanbali scholars and who have clearly said that the steps of Imam Husayn (a.s) were on the right and that he was martyred in a state of oppression.

On the other hand there are those Hanbalis who consider Ibn Taiymiyah as their leader and they are Nasibis4 and Kharijis5 who in order to deceive the common people, call themselves Sunnis. Such people consider Yazid as a rightful caliph hence they think that Imam Husayn (a.s) was (God forbid) in the wrong and thus worthy of capital punishment, rather obligatorily deserving of being killed. In the present age, an example of such a person is Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, who by writing, Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid has hurt the feelings of all the Muslims. In the past age even before Ibn Taiymiyah (died 728 A.H.), Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Abdullah Ibn Arabi (died 543 A.H.) had sung the same tune when he said:

“Husayn was not killed but by the sword of his grandfather (that is, as per the command of the Shariah) because the allegiance for Yazid had been paid before and Husayn had rebelled against it.”

This Ibn Arabi had lived before Muhiyyuddin Ibn Arabi (the writer of Futuhaat-e-Makkiyyah) and died in 638 A.H. The following statements of Tadkeratul Khawaas are about him:

Hafiz (One who has learnt the Qur’an by heart), Allamah (Most learned), Qadi (Judge), Faqih (Jurist) and on the position of Ijtihad, Abu Bakr Ibn Arabi was the student of Imam Ghazzali (died 505 A.H.). The same Imam Ghazzali who was famous by the title of Hujjatul Islam (Proof of Islam) and who is considered as one who strengthened the foundations of religion, and whose famous verdict (Fatwa) is that:

“It is unlawful to sermonize about Husayn and his companions because it leads to criticism of the companions.”

It is obvious that if he had considered the actions of Imam Husayn (a.s) rightful, he would not have decreed the mention of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) as a prohibited deed.

Keeping all these things in mind one is compelled to say that in the view of these scholars, Imam Husayn (a.s) commands no respect and dignity. And the denial of the Imam to pay allegiance to Yazid, in their opinion, was such a serious mistake that their writers say that Imam Husayn (a.s) was (God forbid) of a very stubborn nature. Before Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi also, a person had written a book titled, The Great Martyr after reading which it seems that Yazid was a rightful, true and accepted caliph of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and that Imam Husayn (a.s) had without any right or acceptable excuse, solely in greed of rulership, rebelled against him. His own relatives tried to make him understand but he did not follow their advice. At last, Yazid’s governor killed him in order to keep him from mischief and after trying utmost, after exhausting all options and after being despaired of every effort, in extremely helpless circumstances in order to maintain peace he had to take such a step.

The writer had given his name as ‘Abul Kalam Azad’ on the book. Keeping in mind the fame and position of the writer, Islah Organization Khajwa (Bihar) considered it necessary to reply the book and the reply titled, Shahadatul Uzma is still available. After independence of India someone called the attention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Education Minister) towards this book published under his name. He expressed ignorance about it and announced that he had no connection with that book. In my opinion his announcement of dissociation was based on sincerity because in all his writings the respected Maulana always mentioned the incomparable sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a.s) with utmost respect and devotion. For example see the long editorial of al-Hilal Journal that was published on the occasion of Muharram and which was republished verbatim in the Inquilab Newspaper of Lahore, Shabbir Number 1927 A.D. from which Khalifa Sayyid Muhammad Hashim Patiyalvi has quoted in the second part of his book, Namoos Islam on Pg. 274-278.

Anyway, people like Ibn Arabi, Ibn Taiymiyah and others have time and again directly or indirectly, expressed the opinion that the action of Imam Husayn (a.s) was not rightful.

The Second Problem

Now pay attention to another aspect, which is a reflection of the first one. That is, how a particular sect regards Yazid? After the first problem has been cleared, there is no need for details here. Yet for further clarification and more confirmation we would like to state a few things.

Shias consider his name as an abusive word and their child considers not only Yazid but the family tree and clan of Yazid, as per Qur’anic directions, an accursed tree, the details of which have already been given in the previous chapters.

On the other hand Wahabi gentlemen, followers of Ibn Taiymiyah consider Yazid as the rightful caliph. The statement of Abu Bakr Ibn Arabi has already been mentioned above. Mulla ‘Ali Qari on Pg. 84 of Sharh Fiqhe Akbar and Ibn Hajar al-Haithami who is mentioned by us before have given the proof of their hypocrisy. The latter has, in Sawaiqul Mohreqa,6 included Yazid among the twelve Imams regarding whom is the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that religion shall remain dominant until 12 Imams (caliphs) are present.

Ibn Taiymiyah and his co-religionist Wahabi scholars try their utmost to save Yazid from curse and damnation. Sometimes decree is issued that Yazid was a Muslim and cursing a Muslim is unlawful. Sometimes the responsibility of the killing of Husayn is attributed from the beginning to the end to Ibn Ziyad so that Yazid could be saved. Sometimes the tradition is concocted that on the Day of Judgment Imam Husayn (a.s) would forgive Yazid. In other words, thousands of interpretations are tried so that Yazid does not become the target of curses.

A poet has beautifully versified this matter:

“O one who says that we should not curse Yazid and his progeny.

Because it is possible that the Almighty Allah may be merciful to him.

And the Progeny of the Prophet may forgive him.

Then are we not more deserving of being forgiven as we have only cursed Yazid?”

The fact is that Shias, Hanafis, Shafeis and moderate Hanbalis have absolute hatred for Yazid, while Nasibis, Wahabis (most of whom call themselves Hanbalis to deceive people) not only refrain from cursing Yazid and criticizing him, they also try to restrain other people from it.

The Third Problem

In view of Shias, Yazid and other killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) were infidels and they curse them and those who approve their actions and the Shias consider them inmates of Hell. Hanafi, Shafei and moderate Hanbalis also completely hate the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) and consider them worthy of being denounced.

While the behavior of Nasibis and Wahabis is exactly opposite. Those who are connected to the murder of Imam Husayn (a.s) are generally, in their view, worthy of praise. Some of them have reached to the position of caliphate and some remembered as ‘truthful’ and trustworthy and a lot of them are included among the narrators of the ‘Sihah Sittah’ books and religious laws are derived from their traditions.

Now I shall mention their opinions about each of those people:

Umar bin Saad bin Abi Waqqas

He was the commander Yazid’s army. He was directly responsible for all those cruelties after Yazid and Ibn Ziyad. He had told his cronies: Be witness that the first arrow shot to the army of Husayn is mine. Regarding such character, the writer of Tahzibut Tahzib says:

“He has narrated traditions from his father and Abu Sa’eed Khudri, two companions of the Prophet. His son, Ibrahim has related from him and his grandson, Abu Bakr Ibn Hafs Ibn Umar has narrated from his son. Abu Ishaq Sabiee, Ibn Hareeth, Yazid Ibn Maryam, Qatadah, Zuhri and Yazid Ibn Habib and others have also narrated from him.

Ajali has said that he used to narrate traditions from his father and through him many other people used to narrate. And he was a Tabe-ie (companion of a companion) and was trustworthy. He is the same person who killed Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (a.s).”7

The following is mentioned about him in Taqreebut Tahzib:

Umar Ibn Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas Madani was a resident of Kufa. He was a very truthful man but people began to detest him only because he was the commander of the army that slew Husayn. He was from the second category of narrators.

It should be clear that the above statement is of the Shaykhul Islam of Wahabis, Ibn Hajar.

Among those who related from Umar Ibn Saad are Abu Ishaq Sabiee, Qatadah and Imam Zuhri. These three are the pillars of the Wahabi science of traditions. They are considered teachers of the teachers according to Wahabis. Their acceptance of traditions of Umar Ibn Saad proves his trustworthiness and truthfulness. Apart from this, Imam Nasai, Ibn Majah and Imam Bukhari have also in their books quoted traditions from Umar Ibn Saad. This further proves how reliable he is in their view.

In such a situation the dislike of the people or the saying of Ibn Moin that: “How can one who killed Husayn be reliable?” is not worthy of attention because on the gloss of Mishkat, Mulla ‘Ali Qari, who is considered a leader of scholasticism has justified it in the following way:

“Umar Ibn Saad himself did not kill Husayn. And it is possible that his participation in the army was on the basis of his personal opinion and Ijtihad. It is also possible that later his condition improved and that his end was good. And who is such that has not committed any sin or made any mistake? Thus if such things are made open to objections, scholars of traditions shall have a very difficult time.”

Inspite of writing in Mizanul Etedal that: “He participated in the battle against Husayn,” he says, “He himself is not guilty. Shoba through the chains of his Shaykhs has narrated from him and other people have narrated from him.”

Shimr bin Ziljaushan

He was the killer of Imam Husayn (a.s). Ibn Ziyad sent him at the head of a 4000-strong army and instructed him that if Umar Ibn Saad showed even the slightest hesitation he should demote him from commandership and himself take over the command of the army. Shimr is also an authoritative source of Wahabi traditions.

It is mentioned in Tahzibut Tahzib that:

“Shimr Ibn Ziljaushan Abu Sabigha Az-Zabyani – He has narrated from his father and Abu Ishaq Shabee has narrated from Shimr.”

These points are also mentioned in Mizanul Etedal and al-Istiab. Tadkeratul Khawaas explains it further saying:

“And Amash, Shoba, Thawri, Israel, Abul Ahwas, Abu Bakr Ibn Ayyash and Sufyan bin Umayyah have narrated from him.”

Abu Ishaq Shobi has justified the veracity of Shimr in the following words:

“Shimr used to pray with us and used to say: ‘O Lord! You know that I am a gentleman. So forgive me.’ Abu Ishaq says: I asked: ‘How can Allah forgive you? You have killed the son of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).’ Shimr replied: ‘Woe be unto you. What could we do? Our leaders commanded us for it and we did not disobey them. If we had disobeyed, our consequences would have been worse that the killing of Husayn.’”

Hussayn Ibn Numair

This accursed man was also at the head of a 4000-strong army in Karbala’. After the martyrdom of His Eminence, Muslim, Ibn Ziyad had entrusted him with the duty of guarding the limits of Kufa so that in case Imam Husayn (a.s) arrives he could be apprehended. His Eminence, Hurr was under his command. After the carnage of Karbala’ during the attack on Medina he was practically the commander of the army because Muslim bin Uqbah, the army chief was unwell and after the plunder of Medina Muslim bin Uqbah died. Hussayn succeeded him and the siege of Mecca was conducted under his command. He is also a reporter of traditions from the companions. Regarding him it is mentioned in Tahzibut Tahzib that:

“He was a commander among the commanders of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah who participated in the plunder of Medina. Then he was the commander in chief of Yazid in the siege against Ibn Zubair. He is a famous personality.”

It is mentioned in Mizanul Etedal that he has related very few traditions but no one objects against him even though he was among the killers of Husayn (a.s). Rather, Bukhari, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Nasai, all four traditionists have comfortably quoted his traditions in their books, which are from the Sihah Sittah8 and in whom all the traditions are considered authentic.

Muhammad Ibn Ashath Ibn Qais

He was the nephew of Abu Bakr and the son of the well-known hypocrite, Ashath Ibn Qais. He was also the brother of Judah binte Ashath, the killer wife of Imam Hasan (a.s). Ibn Ziyad had dispatched him to fight His Eminence, Muslim and in Karbala’ he was also having a 4000-strong army. He is also a very respectable tradition reporter of Ahl al-Sunnah. Regarding him, it is mentioned in Tahzibut Tahzib that:

“Muhammad Ibn Ashath Ibn Qais Kandi’s agnomen was Abul Qasim. He was a resident of Kufa. His mother was the sister of Abu Bakr Siddiq. Ibn Ashath has taken traditions from his father, from Umar, Uthman, Ibn Masud and Ayesha. And his son, Qais, has related from him. Also (Imams of science of traditions like) Shobi, Mujahid and Zuhri have narrated from him. And Ibn Habban has considered him among reliable persons. There is a tradition from him in Sunan Abu Dawood regarding Abdur Rahman Ibn Qais and in the book of Nasai, there is a tradition about the law regarding the keeping of fast. Abu Zakaria Razi has mentioned that Ibn Zubair had appointed him as the governor of Mosul.

It is mentioned in Taqreebut Tahzib about him as follows:

Muhammad bin Ashath bin Qais Kandi Abul Qasim Kufi was a famous reporter of traditions. He is from the second category of narrators. (That is he was a companion of a companion of the Prophet – Tabeei)

Later he claimed caliphate and the Wahabi scholars say:

“He is of those on whose caliphate the community had consensus.”

So much so, that Anas Ibn Malik, the famous companion of the Prophet also gave him oath of allegiance and agreed to obey him.9

Shabath Ibn Rabi

This accursed man was also among the killers of Husayn (a.s). He was also leading a battalion in Karbala’. It is mentioned in Taqreebut Tahzib that he was also a reporter of Sihah (authentic) books and his traditional reports have found place in the books of Abu Dawood and Imam Nasai.

Samarah Ibn Jundab

He was among the military chiefs of Yazid. He was a companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) had informed that he would go to Hell. Thus it is mentioned about him in Sharh Ibn Abil Hadeed, Ma’rif of Ibn Qutaybah and Istiab:

“The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) glanced towards Samra, Abu Huraira and Huzaifah bin Yaman and said: ‘The last of you to die shall go to Hell.’ Abu Huraira used to say that Huzaifah died before us. Now I wish I would die before Samrah. Thus Samrah Ibn Jundab survived until the end. Until he participated in the battle of Karbala’. When Imam Husayn (a.s) headed for Iraq, Samrah was the police commissioner of Ibn Ziyad and he used to mobilize people and instigate them to rise up and fight against the Imam.”

Inspite of all this, merely on the basis of his being a companion of the Prophet he is included among narrators of ‘the first category’ and many traditions quoted by him decorate the Sihah Sittah. It is written in Istiab that:

“He is a companion and he is of those who had memorized a large number of traditions, having heard them from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and related them in excess.”

After the account of these six army chiefs of Yazid I would like to write about some people whose enmity towards Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) generally and towards Imam Husayn (a.s) specially is well-known. The first name is that of Marwan Ibn Hakam. Please note:

Marwan Ibn Hakam

His father Hakam had been exiled from Medina by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and he was called a ‘lizard, young one of a lizard’ by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). It is mentioned in Istiab:

“Ayesha said: O Marwan! I testify that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) cursed your father while you were in his loins. That is, you are also included in that curse.”

He used to speak ill of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) in the presence of Imam Hasan (a.s). It was him that had prevented the burial of Imam Hasan (a.s) in the sanctuary of the Prophet. When Walid summoned Imam Husayn (a.s) and demanded allegiance of Yazid and Imam Husayn (a.s) postponed it to the following day, Marwan told Walid: “If Husayn escapes your clutches now you would never be able to subdue him. So kill him here and right now.”

Just imagine! A person like Marwan who was exiled by the Prophet from Medina. Who was cursed and called ‘lizard, young one of lizard’, who instigated the governor of Medina to kill Imam Husayn (a.s), the same Marwan is accorded such an honorable position that he is made as the caliphs and he is termed blameless in narrating traditions:

“Marwan bin al-Hakam became the caliph at the end of the year, 64 A.H.”10

Marwan bin al-Hakam has narrated traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) although it is not correct to say that he heard traditions from the Prophet directly. He has also related from Uthman bin ‘Ali, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu Huraira, Bushra binte Safwan and Abdur Rahman bin Aswad bin Yaguth. From him have related his son, Abdul Malik and also Sahl bin Saad Saadi. (Who were senior in age to Marwan). Sa’eed bin Musayyab, Urwah bin Zubair, Abu Bakr bin Abdur Rahman bin Harith, Ubaidullah bin Abdullah bin Utbah, Mujahid, Abu Sufyan, Mawla bin Abi Ahmad have taken traditions from him. He was the secretary of Uthman and after the death of Muawiyah became the governor of Medina and after the death of Muawiyah bin Yazid bin Muawiyah allegiance of caliphate was paid to him. Urwah bin Zubair says that Marwan was not blameworthy in relating traditions. (That is he is reliable).11

After the long list of those who have narrated traditions from him, what is the need to say that his traditions decorate great books of Ahl al-Sunnah like Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawood, etc?

Another enemy of the Chief of the Martyrs was Abdullah bin Hani Azadi. He was a friend of Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf. He used to say that he had such merits as none possessed. ‘One is that we have never denounced the caliph Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan, secondly our ladies had made a vow that if Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (a.s) is killed each of them would give ten camels in charity. Thus they did the same. Thirdly, there is no male among us who had been told to abuse Abu Turab and he has not abused him and who has not included in his curse, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn (a.s).’12 And such an enemy of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and hater of the Chief of the Martyrs (a.s) is considered reliable!

Thus it is mentioned in Taqreebut Tahzib:

Abdullah bin Hani Azadi the confidant of Hajjaj bin Yusuf Thaqafi – Ajali has called him reliable. (That is, he could be trusted).

Apart from this Zahak bin Qais, Ziyad bin Sumaiyah etc. who had special attachment to Yazid and many other people are specially considered reliable and trustworthy by the Wahabis. This is one side of the coin. The second aspect is that the one who put to sword each one of these killers of the Chief of the Martyrs (a.s), that is Mukhtar Ibn Abu Ubaidah Thaqafi; he is denounced and criticized very much by them. Let us see what they say about this gentleman. It is mentioned in Lisanul Mizan about him as follows:

“Mukhtar Ibn Ubaidah Thaqafi was a great liar. It is not advisable to take any tradition from him, because he was himself deviated and he misguided others. He thought that Jibraeel had come down to him. Mukhtar is even worse than Hajjaj or is same as him. And it is said that it is this same liar that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has mentioned in the following tradition: ‘A liar and a murderer shall emerge from the tribe of Tahqeef.’ This tradition is found in Sahih Muslim.

A reading of the above report makes one feel that Mukhtar must really be having all these defects. That is why scholars of the biographies of narrators have ridiculed him. Therefore I am quoting from the text of Allamah Ibn Abde Barr’s al-Istiab, which shows that the cause of all this poison spewing was that Mukhtar had destroyed the killers of Husayn (a.s). That is why, those who disliked this matter, decided to criticize and defame him. The Allamah says:

“Mukhtar claimed that he is the agent of Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyyah in the matter of taking revenge for the blood of Husayn (a.s). Thus he took the help of Ibrahim bin Malik Ashtar and pursued the killers of Husayn and killed them. Allah killed most of the killers of Husayn (a.s) at his hands and the killing of Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad also took place at the behest of Mukhtar by Ibrahim. Thus due to this, most Muslims like him and those who do not like his religion have criticized and denounced him.

That is, in other words, supporters and followers of the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) began to criticize and defame Mukhtar.

I think that these proofs are sufficient to prove my claim that Wahabi people respect and honor the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s). Traditions of each of their chiefs decorate the Sihah books. Most of them are considered reliable, trustworthy, truthful and acceptable. One of them was made a caliph inspite of being the killer of Husayn (a.s) and another was a caliph inspite of the fact that he instigated killing of Husayn (a.s) and inspite of the fact that he was exiled by the Prophet. While the one who took revenge from these killers was called a deviant, a liar, one worse than Hajjaj, and God knows what else!

  • 1. Surah Shura 42:23
  • 2. Surah Ahzab 33:33
  • 3. Surah Aale Imran 3:61
  • 4. Those who harbor enmity towards Ahle Bayt (a.s.)
  • 5. The renegades
  • 6. Pg. 11-12
  • 7. Tahzibut Tahzib
  • 8. Six authentic books
  • 9. Refer to Hayatul Haiwan, Vol. 2, Pg. 48
  • 10. Taqreebut Tahzib
  • 11. Tahzibut Tahzib
  • 12. Sharh Ibne Abil Hadid, Vol. 1, Part 4, Pg. 195


This dissertation of mine must have clearly shown that Wahabi people and those who have similar views not only do not consider the battle of Imam Husayn (a.s) good, most of them even consider him obligatorily deserving of being killed due to his opposition to Yazid. They consider Yazid as a rightful caliph. Apart from this, they do not blame the killers of Husayn (a.s) for taking part in his murder.

Rather they base their religion on traditions narrated through them. They praise and glorify them. Inspite of their participation in the killing there is consensus of the Ummah on their caliphate and it is said that ‘if such minor things are observed how can the work go on and the narration of traditions would become impossible’.

Those who were pleased at the slaying of Husayn (a.s) are considered trustworthy and reliable and one who took the revenge of his innocent blood is remembered in the worst possible words. After all this, is it still needed to be told the name of the group that considers the killers of Imam Husayn (a.s) as their leaders? While a big group of Nasibis and Kharijis is even today, following the decree of Imam Ghazzali, busy in stopping the remembrance of Husayn (a.s) and mourning of Husayn (a.s) so that they may keep the defects of their elders concealed.

Appendix 1: Mischiefs of the Daily Hilal

Hafiz ‘Ali Bahadar Khan, editor of Hilal, Bombay has written an article about Janabe Sakina in the issues dated 11, 13 and 15 May. This article is having two characteristics. Firstly, from the beginning to the end it is brimming with hatred for Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) which as per the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) is the easiest method of reaching to Hell. Secondly, nowhere has he provided any reference.

There were two advantages of not giving any references. One is that due to the mention of references there would have been no opportunity of showing wit and it would have been impossible to publish fabricated incidents. Secondly, it would have exposed the actual academic level of the writer because the whole article is based on Shar Lakhnavi’s novel, Sakina Binte Husayn and to give the reference of a novel would have discredited the article. In addition to this, another fallout of this would have been that the people’s mind would at once have been led to the teeth-breaking rebuttal titled, Jawabe Shar. That is why the Hafiz considered it best to write in this way so that the ignorant public could be made to believe that whatever he has written is in fact the truth.

All incidents mentioned in this article, as we have already stated, (except for one) are taken from Shar’s novel and for the readers it is necessary that to know that a refutation of this book, titled Jawabe Shar1 by Maulana Sayyid ‘Ali Azhar, has already been published from Islah Press, Khajwa, (Saran, India). I would like to briefly state that Shar has taken his material from Abul Faraj Isfahani, the Umayyad’s book, Aghani.

The position of Aghani in Arabic literature, as far as the authenticity of its matter is concerned, is same as that of Tilism Hosharba, Dastan Amir Hamzah etc. (They were fictions). Like these books, Aghani was also written with a view to entertain the readers. If Dastan Mir Hamzah could be made the basis of the biography of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), the Aghani can be taken as a source on the life history of Sakina and other personages. However, if the matter is judged with perception and intelligence the worth of that book and that of its writer becomes clear.

In addition to this, the writer of Dastan Mir Hamzah had no animosity towards His Eminence, Hamzah. Therefore, at every place he has attributed only courage and dignified aspects to his biography. On the other hand Abul Faraj was the enemy of the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and a supporter of Umayyad rulers. That is why he has associated such incidents with Janabe Sakina that degrade her personality in every way though later researches may prove all this to be baseless. If the Hafiz had any shame he would not have taken from this novel anything after its refutation has already been written. But he had to anyhow create a controversy in order to boost the circulation of his paper even though he may have to remain under the banner of Yazid on the Day of Judgment.

Abul Faraj Isfahani who is the main source of all these calumnies was the grandson of Marwan al-Himar (the donkey) the last ruler of the Umayyad dynasty. He lived in Baghdad during the time of the Abbasids. In the same period the Merwanid caliphs laid the foundation of their rule in Andalusia. He was inclined towards them due to family relations but due to the fear of the Abbasids he could not state anything openly. So he used to disguise his malice in the veil of entertainment and write all the degrading things about Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). Then he used to have his writings secretly smuggled to his real patrons and receive rewards and money from them. The volumes of Aghani are part of these series in which he has associated useless and improper incidents to Sakina. The Hafiz has quoted these same events in his article. His double-dealing is obvious from the fact that in addition he also wrote books for Bani Abbas that praised the Banu Hashim. Abul Faraj Isfahani was a prolific liar, fiction maker and a drunkard. It is regrettable that right now I could not obtain all the references that I needed from his writings, but I present here whatever I have been able to obtain.

(1) Whatever Hujjatul Islam Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Khwansari has said is as follows:

“I have briefly seen the book of Aghani. It is full of incidents and accounts about the people involved in all types of vain pastimes and lustful occupations and deviations from the sciences of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) and nothing else. In addition to this, this person was from the family tree, which has been cursed in the Qur’an. That is, he was the member of Banu Umayyah and progeny of Marwan. Then how is it possible for a believer to be born in a group all of whose members are cursed and that too by the one who is considered the most perfect (the Holy Prophet)?2

(2) Hujjatul Islam Maulana Sayyid Rahat Husayn Sahab Qibla Gopalpuri has written in his book, Rafaut Tabaas:

“Ibn Dawood (a.r.) in his Rijal has categorized him as follows: ‘Abul Faraj Isfahani; Aghani Kabeer, no tradition is taken from it. It is written in Fihrist that he was a Zaidi. May Allah curse him.”3

3) Allamah Hilli has also included him among the weak narrators.

4) One of our ancient scholars, Hasan bin Husayn has called him, ‘the greatest liar’.

5) Sadr has said regarding the Aghani specially that: Even if the above-mentioned point had not been mentioned against him, I still would have considered him a forger and an accursed one due to his reports in Aghani.4

6) Allamah Sayyid Sibtul Hasan Hansavi writes in his journal, Kashful Dahiya regarding Aghani that: The book of Aghani is absolutely unreliable. Abul Faraj has written it in the style of traditionists and historians but it is a collection of false and untrue things, which was written to appease the Merwanid rulers of Andalusia.

7) Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani writes about him:

“Abul Faraj Isfahani was the greatest liar. He used to purchase a lot of story books and base traditions on them.”

8) Now read the confession of Abul Faraj Isfahani, himself, about this books:

“I have done this without any restraint although I detested that my writings should contain such illogical things that would endure forever and be associated with my name.”

But it is regrettable that due to his greed for pelf and position he accepted all this for the sake of pleasing the Umayyads, and he has put the collar of eternal humiliation around his neck. This can be understood from the above statement as well as the confession of Abul Faraj Isfahani himself. Shar5 Lakhnavi who has informed about his original nature in his nom-de-plume itself has brought these sparks of mischief from Arabic to Urdu world and Hafiz ‘Ali Bahadar is blowing to make them into flames although the Jawab Shar has put such dew upon them that they could never be ignited.

This was the historical value of those incidents, now let us apply logic to them and see whether they don’t prove that:

“It seems Sakina had made her home a stage for dramatics and poetics. Such a woman could never have any connection with religiosity. She must have been deprived of all shame and dignity. Please ponder upon it that the position of the family of the Prophet (s.a.w) is so much lofty while even a lady of an ordinary household could not act in this way. Even if it is proved that Sakina lived after the imprisonment, she had in addition to the family honor and dignity some additional qualities. For example she was an eyewitness to all that occurred in Karbala’ and herself bore those difficulties. All her life she saw her brother, Imam Sajjad (a.s) and her sisters and aunts weeping and lamenting. Did she forget all these things so soon and said farewell to all the family values and religious commands? She belonged to a family, which had itself initiated the rules that a lady must not even let a stranger hear her voice, except when it is absolutely necessary. They should remain in their houses in such a way that strangers may not look at them and they may not look at the strangers. They must not even wear jewellery in such a way that others may hear the tinkles. In such circumstances, one who is familiar with the family of Prophethood, can he ever even imagine that Princess Sakina could commit such deeds? The aim of the Nasibi, Abul Faraj Isfahani in writing such things was only to malign the family of the Prophet (s.a.w) due to his (Abul Faraj Isfahani’s) affiliation with the enemies of Islam.”6

It is surprising that Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s) continued to weep upon Imam Husayn (a.s) all his life. When food was brought before him, he wept. He wept when he wanted to drink water. He swooned when he saw the severed head of a slaughtered goat. Lady Rabab (Sakina’s mother) had recited the following dirge on Husayn (a.s) all her life as accepted even by Abul Faraj Isfahani and Hafiz ‘Ali Bahadar:

“Husayn who was such brilliance that people obtained light from him. He is lying slain in Karbala’, unburied and un-shrouded.

O Prophet’s grandson, may God give you a good recompense and keep you safe from the loss of the balance.7

You are for me such a lofty mountain, which had given me strength and refuge, and you lived with us with mercy and piety.

Now after you, who can fulfill the needs of orphans and beggars?

And who should the poor and the deprived people approach?

By Allah! In place of your relationship, I would not look for another relationship, until I am hidden in the grave.”

On one hand were such circumstances at home and on the other hand the terrible calamity has befallen. Is it possible that Sakina could have forgotten all this as if she has absolutely no connection with Husayn (a.s)?

May Allah give us refuge:

…these are the words of their mouths…8

Readers should pay attention to the following words of Lady Rabab:

“And you lived with us with mercy and piety.”

On the other hand see what nonsense the Hafiz writes: “Rabab was the daughter of Imrul Qais. She was extremely beautiful and intelligent. She gave birth to a daughter called Sakina. Imam Husayn (a.s) loved the two of them so much that he used to remain careless of many necessary things due to this love. One day the elder brother, Imam Hasan (a.s) scolded Imam Husayn (a.s) for his excessive love for Sakina and Rabab. Instead of correcting, the scolding of the brother made him recite the following couplets:

“I swear by your life, I love the house itself where Sakina and Rabab reside.

I love both of them and am prepared to sacrifice all I own on them and if someone punishes me for it, I would not care for that.

And if I am criticized, I cannot improve for my whole life until I am concealed in the dust.”

In Aghani these couplets are attributed to Imam Husayn (a.s) and they are narrated from Sakina. Anyway whatever may be the case, the writing of the incident, its style and choice of words all show the evil and dirty nature of the writer and his inclination to the worship of Yazid. He has tried to show Imam Husayn (a.s) as worse than an ordinary religious person. Abul Faraj has taken the chain of narrators of these couplets upto Malik bin Ayyin. First of all Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani has exposed the value of Abul Faraj’s traditions that he has based his writings on fictional works. On top of that it was the style of Arabic literature of that time that even fictional incidents were written on the authority of supposed reporters, though they had no external existence. Thus merely because they had chain of narrators those reports were not considered reliable. Now, you should know that this Malik bin Ayyin was also an imaginative character. Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani has written in Lisanul Mizan,9 that:

“He was unknown: Now who can trust a report of Aghani, penned by Abul Faraj, the greatest liar and that too from a fictional character? Especially, when the matter is against the dignity of the family of the Prophet and also against the testimony of their infallibility and purity. And in addition to this, you will also have to accept that this character used to frequent Sakina’s place and she had contact with such an enemy of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)! All this is against logic and reason.

In such circumstances, the selection of these couplets is wrong and artificial. And if for the sake of argument we accept them, the incident mentioned in this connection is definitely fabricated.

…and they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back.10

Now see what he writes in the marginal notes: Her love made Imam Husayn (a.s) compose some couplets that became famous in the Arab world and they were sung in a special tune in various programs. Our poets would be astonished to know that the famous Arab artist, Ibn Sarih had composed a tune for those couplets on Imam Husayn (a.s) and it was sung in that special tune mostly, though other tunes also existed for it.

Even if for the sake of argument it is agreed that these couplets were composed by Imam Husayn (a.s), the matter of singing them in tune, which is an unlawful act is not something that could be admired. Islam has made music unlawful and the teachers of Islam never used to compose couplets for people to sing. First of all their couplets had nothing but morals and lessons. Even if for the sake of argument we accept them to be couplets of Imam Husayn (a.s) we really pity the mentality of the people of that time and Ibn Sarih.

Now I would like to present another passage of the Hafiz where he has tried to display his common sense. He says:

“The whole family of Imam Husayn (a.s) was the center of knowledge, literature and poetry. Very few people know that not only Rabab, the wife of Imam Husayn (a.s) was the daughter of the famous poet Imrul Qais…”

Here it seems that the Hafiz wants to say that Lady Rabab was the daughter of the famous poet, Imrul Qais, whose ‘hanging poem’ is very well-known and who was the best poet of the Arabs. By saying all this the Hafiz wants to show on one hand that the poetical expertise of Sakina was hereditary and secondly since all know that Imrul Qais was a libertine and a man of vice, his daughter must also have been very liberal minded. But it is a pity that by presenting this research the Hafiz has provided the proof of his ignorance and foolishness. If a blind man goes out unaided he would definitely stumble and fall. One who has no information about Arabic literature would indeed commit such blunders. Now please consider this:

The famous poet Imrul Qais bin Hujr Kandi was the king of the Kandi tribe. This kingdom began with his father and ended on Imrul Qais. The Caesar of Rome had him poisoned in 530 or 540 A.D. and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was born at least thirty years after his death in 570 A.D. Imam Husayn (a.s) was born at least 88 years after the death of Imrul Qais in 628 A.D. corresponding to 4. A. H. His marriage to Lady Rabab took place during the apparent caliphate of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) in 36 A.H. But according to the Ahl al-Sunnah traditions it was only during the time of the second caliphate.

Even if we accept it to be true it could not be before 19 A.H. because in that year Imam Husayn (a.s) became 15 and before that his marriage is not logically acceptable. Thus at that time Imrul Qais had already been dead for 103 years. Hence, if Rabab were really the daughter of Imrul Qais. At the time of her marriage she must have been at least 103 years old! What a beautiful invention indeed!

And also look at the coincidence that historians have said that Imrul Qais following the custom of the period of ignorance used to bury his daughters alive. His wives used to send away their daughters to other tribes secretly to save their lives but he used to reach everywhere and did not leave them alive. On daughter, Hind, by chance, survived and later Imrul Qais also accepted her.

I am leaving the reference only because I want to test the Hafiz whether he could locate such popular facts in the Arabic literature or not.

The only fact is that the name of the father of Lady Rabab was also Imrul Qais and he is also referred to as Kandi in some places. Just this much was sufficient for his imagination to fly and the Hafiz took to the skies. Actually the genealogy of Lady Rabab is as follows: Rabab binte Imrul Qais bin Adi bin Jabir bin Kaab bin ‘Ali bin Barra bin Thalaba bin Imran bin al-Haaf bin Qazaat. Since he lived in the Kanda locality of Kufa he was called Imrul Qais Kandi. He had no connection with the tribe of Kanda.

Wrong association may not be considered improper by the Hafiz because the elders of his faith and senior religious leaders have often been victims of this with regard to the Holy family of the Prophet and he may escape the divine chastisement applicable for such sins. The doors of repentance are not closed yet.

And peace be upon those who follow the guidance.

  • 1. Reply to the ‘Shar’
  • 2. Rauzatul Jannaat, Chapter ‘Ghain’, Pg. 478
  • 3. Rijal Ibne Dawood, Handwritten Manuscript, Nasirul Millat Library
  • 4. Rafaut Tabaas
  • 5. Shar = mischief
  • 6. Rafaut Tabaas
  • 7. On the Day of Judgment
  • 8. Surah Taubah 9:30
  • 9. Vol. 5, Pg. 3, Line 4
  • 10. Shoara 26:227

Appendix 2: A ‘Revolutionary’ Book: Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid

Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, the writer of Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid has created a strange type of friction in the Shia, Sunni Hindu and all humanity-loving circles of India and Pakistan by his new slogan. Along with the articles of the actual book, the attacks of Maulavi Abdul Maajid Daryabadi and Maktaba Tajalli Deoband1 have also become the subject of discussion that have introduced this book as ‘revolutionary’. The following are the opening sentences of Maktaba Tajalli:

“By this letter we introduce you to a book which presents a ‘revolutionary’ view on the most delicate matter of the Muslim nation.”

Maulavi Abdul Maajid Daryabadi has also, commenting on this book in the newspaper ‘Sidqe Jadeed’ referred to this book as ‘revolutionary’ and compares this discussion to be an unbiased support.

The common Muslims and especially the Shias are highly disturbed by these statements but I think even in enmity we must not leave justice. The point of justice is that the book is really ‘revolutionary’ and my article is supporting these statements in this matter.

Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid is a religious discussion and to interpret this ‘revolution’ we must seek help from the Holy Qur’an. So that we may come to know how the Qur’an views this upheaval.

The word of ‘revolution’ is used in eight places in the Holy Qur’an in its various forms, that is to ‘turn’ ‘return’ or to ‘come back’ etc. For example:

(1) They will swear to you by Allah when you return to them so that you may turn aside from them; so do turn aside from them; surely they are unclean and their abode is hell; a recompense for what they earned.2

(2) And he said to his servants: Put their money into their bags that they may recognize it when they go back to their family, so that they may come back.3

In the same way refer to (1) Surah Tatfeef, Ruku 1 (2) Surah Fath, Ruku 2 (3) Surah Mulk, Ruku 1 (4) Surah Inshiqaq, Ruku 1 (5) Surah Kahf, Ruku 5. All these examples denote ‘coming back from one place to another’ and there is no mention whether the ‘return’ is for good or bad.

I am sure that Mr. Daryabadi and Maktaba Tajalli have not called this book ‘revolutionary’ in the sense that by reading it, people on a trip would come back to their hometowns because it is a Great Name of God (Isme Aazam). Therefore we shall have to search for other verses in order to understand the meaning of ‘revolutionary’.

In this search we find some verses where in addition to the word ‘revolution’ it is also mentioned whether it is for good or bad.

(1) Those to whom the people said: Surely men have gathered against you, therefore fear them, but this increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector.4

But Mr. Daryabadi and people of ‘Tajalli’ could not bear to have the word ‘revolution’ interpreted in this sense because the circumstances of the revelation of these verses is against their selfish desires.

The incident in brief is that after the battle of Uhad, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) took only his injured companions by the command of Allah and went out in pursuit of Abu Sufyan and halted at a place called Humratul Asad. Abu Sufyan was camping at a place called Rauha. Abu Sa’eed Khuzai taking the leave of the Prophet went to Abu Sufyan and told him, “The Prophet is coming in your pursuit with a large army.” Hearing this, Abu Sufyan fled from there. Naeem bin Masud Ashjai met him on way to Medina. Abu Sufyan told him, “If you go to Muhammad and tell him that the infidels of Quraish have got a huge army I would reward you with ten camel loads of dates and dried grapes.”

When Naeem brought this message to the Islamic army, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) at once said, “No problem! Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector.” The Almighty Allah liked this utterance of His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) so much that He mentioned the same words in the Holy Qur’an and this verse was revealed.5

Among the Ahl al-Sunnah this matter is mentioned by Ibn Marduyah in his book, and this episode is also recorded in Manaqib Ibn Shahr Aashob from Abu Rafe (a Sunni).

However, Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, Abdul Maajid Daryabadi and the officials of ‘Tajalli’ could not be in favor of this Qur’anic revolution because they themselves want to bring about a revolution.

Firstly, this verse of ‘revolution’ was revealed in praise of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s) while the book Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid has tried to show supposed weaknesses of this same ‘Ali.

Secondly, this verse indicated the cunning, deceit and enmity of Abu Sufyan towards Islam. The same Abu Sufyan who is the father of Muawiyah, is the hero of these people and the grandfather of Yazid, their idol. It is the same family, which is called the ‘accursed tree’ in the Qur’an but these people are trying their best to make it the center of truth.

Thirdly, this verse has praised those who were injured, less in number and they were warned of the great number of their enemies but they did not care for it and they relied on Allah. If you look for a parallel of this verse in the events of Karbala’ you will see that the army of Yazid, the Amir of Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi was having a huge army like Abu Sufyan and the battalion of Husayn (a.s) was very small like that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), injured, afflicted with hunger and thirst but yet having complete certainty in God and His favors. Because the qualities that are praised in this verse are seen only in the army of Husayn (a.s) while the book, Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid is mainly concerned with degrading ‘Ali and Husayn and pointing out their ‘defects’ while on the other hand it glorifies their enemies. Therefore we can be sure that this book could not have been inspired by the type of ‘revolution’ mentioned in the above verse.

(2) Another verse where ‘revolution’ is mentioned in a positive sense is as follows:

It was the occasion when sorcerers summoned by the Pharaoh were over-awed by the miracle of Musa’s staff and they came to the right path and said: “We believe in the Lord of Musa and Harun.” At that time Pharaoh made many allegations, which included that: You want to spread mischief in the land and wish to take over the kingdom. Then he made a threat, which was immediately put into action:

I will certainly cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, then will I crucify you all together. They said: Surely to our Lord shall we go back:6

(3) Their statement is mentioned in Surah Shoara in the following words:

They said: No harm; surely to our Lord we go back…7

(4) The Surah Zukhruf is also having these words:

And surely to our Lord we must return.8

But the revolution of the book, Caliphate of Muawiyah and Yazid could not become a discussion of the ‘revolution’ of those believing magicians because,

(1) Those believers were very much less in number and a great majority was against them. This point cannot fit Yazid, the Amir of Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi. It could only fit Husayn (a.s) and his companions. Though Yazid could be seen in the role of Pharaoh.

(2) Those believers were deprived of worldly power and their opponent was having a great power and might. This also fits Husayn and not Yazid because according to Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, consensus had already taken place for Yazid and he also possessed force and domination while Husayn had no share in any of these things.

(3) Pharaoh had leveled the allegation against those believers that they wish to spread mischief in the lands and want to gain worldly rulership and kingdom for themselves as the Holy Qur’an has mentioned this.

This also does not fit Yazid but Husayn because Yazid, Ibn Ziyad, their caliphs and Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi also make the same allegation that Husayn (a.s) wanted temporal rulership, that is why he made an armed uprising and created mischief to take over the Islamic kingdom. (God forbid!)

Pharaoh tortured those believers in the worst manner but they bore all those calamities with patience and contentment. They were martyred but they did not turn away from the right religion. This also fits Husayn (a.s) and his companions and not Yazid and his militiamen who wrought such terrible afflictions on Husayn (a.s), his companions, helpers and women and children that the history of Islam is ashamed due to the mention of those things.

Since the aim of this book is to highlight the weaknesses of Husayn (a.s) and propagate the rightfulness and benevolence of Yazid, the revolution indicated in the above verse is absolutely opposed to the circumstances of Yazid and fits cent percent the conditions of Husayn (a.s). Hence, I think neither the officials of ‘Tajalli’ nor Mr. Abdul Maajid Daryabadi would like to associate the revolution of those believers with the ‘revolution’ of this book.

But after reaching here no verse in Qur’an remains where the word of ‘revolution’ has a positive connotation.

Though we find many verses that indicate towards the Yazidite revolution. We shall present some of them with brief comments here:

(1) And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least…9

Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi has written a famous book, Sarrash Shahadatain. In this book he has discussed the martyrdoms of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s) in an esoteric way and explained that they were based on the hidden wisdom of Almighty Allah. His premise is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) being the greatest of all the divine prophets possessed in entirety all the virtues and merits that all the previous prophets had. However, the great honor of martyrdom was not found in his share. Now martyrdom could either be in one of the two ways. One is that a person could be poisoned and another is that he be killed in the battlefield. Both these options were not appropriate for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). For if he had died due to poison it would not have served the purpose of making it a magnificent martyrdom, and if he had been martyred on the battlefield it would have been a great insult to the lofty nation of Islam and many weak faith people might even have become demoralized and become apostates and religion would have been destroyed. (As the above verse is indicating towards this same condition). The author writes in this book as follows,

“Thus Divine wisdom decided to transfer this great position of martyrdom and other perfections of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) to other members of the holy Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). To persons who were nearest in relations to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and the most beloved among his children, rather who were considered as his sons (equal to sons). So that these circumstances may become the circumstances of the Prophet and their perfection may be included in the list of the virtues of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w)…that is why Providence and Divine wisdom made Hasan and Husayn (a.s) as representatives of their great grandfather, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and made them the cheek of the elegance of the Prophet (so that through them the elegance and virtues of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) may reach to perfection).”

And since martyrdom is of two types (1) secret martyrdom and (2) open martyrdom, that is why of the two grandsons of the Prophet, Imam Hasan (a.s) achieved martyrdom through poison and Imam Husayn (a.s) got open martyrdom with all its severities so that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) may get the honor of both types of martyrdoms.”

These statements of Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi prove that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) was actually the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w). In the above verses the Almighty Allah has mentioned a ‘revolution’ in the people after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w):

If then he (Muhammad) dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least…10

Anyway if not the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) himself, it was the mirror of the elegance of the Prophet, the representative of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) who was martyred. Hence there definitely must be some revolution after this. If not more some people must indeed have to turn to ignorance (apostasy). Mr. Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi is the proclaimer of this same revolution and he is inviting people towards the revolution of: “you turn back upon your heels” and the editor of ‘Sidqe Jadeed’ is harping upon ‘revolutionary points’ to announce the veracity of those verses of Qur’an and the officials of ‘Tajalli’ are presenting examples of:

…their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness…11

(2) The Almighty Allah has warned the believers of such claimants of revolution:

O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve they will turn you back upon your heels, so you will turn back losers.12

(3) The Almighty Allah has warned the Muslims of the ‘revolution’ of ‘turning back on their heels’ in many verses of Qur’an. His Eminence, Musa (a.s) is sermonizing the Bani Israel in Surah Maidah as follows:

…and turn not on your backs for then you will turn back losers.13

(4) The Almighty Allah says:

…and We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Qur’an as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy.14

It is a well-known fact of Islamic history, Qur’anic exegesis and biography that the above verse is talking about the dream of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) wherein he saw Banu Umayyah jumping on his pulpit, like monkeys. The Prophet was disturbed at the sight of the destruction of Islam and no one saw him smiling after that, as long as he lived. The Almighty Allah explained to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) that, that period shall be a time of test for the people. That which of them go towards falsehood after being attracted to worldly benefits and which of them continue to remain on the side of Imam Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (a.s) and his companions at any cost.

It is mentioned in Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 4, Pg. 191, Egypt that: Ibn Jarir has related from Sahl bin Saad, Ibn Abi Hatim narrates from Ibn Umar and Ya’la bin Marrah, Ibn Marduyah from Imam Husayn (a.s), Ibn Abbas and Ayesha from Saad bin Musayyab mention numerous traditions whose basic conclusion is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) saw a dream wherein he saw that Banu Umayyah were jumping on his pulpit, like monkeys. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) became so shocked due to this dream that he never ever laughed as long as he lived.

It is also proved beyond any doubt that the ‘accursed tree’ denotes Banu Umayyah and their period was a period of test of the people and their evil deeds and rebellion is also mentioned in the following words:

…and We cause them to fear, but it only adds (YAZEED) to their great inordinacy.15

I think that Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, Abdul Maajid Daryabadi and their cohorts should be reminded that Allah has called other persons of Banu Umayyah briefly as the ‘accursed tree’ but He has mentioned their ‘respected’ Amir, Yazid by name, due to his extremely evil deeds as the ‘great rebel’ and ‘great inordinacy’.

The name of Yazid is also mentioned in it.

This should be enough for their pride!

(For other verses on Banu Umayyah refer to the chapter, ‘Banu Umayyah in the view of the Holy Qur’an’)

Anyway, it has become clear that the period of domination of Banu Umayyah, which shall be based on oppression and injustice, would be a period of trial for the people.

This period prophesied in the verse arrived and those whose faith was as strong as the mountains, they put to risk all they had but under no circumstances gave up truth and rightfulness. But some people whose apparent Islam was based on force, domination, power and kingdom, their reality was exposed. They called Yazid as ‘Amir al-Mu’minin’ and ‘Rahmatullah alaihe’16 etc. and got deviated from true Islam and they named their deviation as ‘revolution’. I have already explained what type of a revolution it was. Its actual meaning is that people leave the rightful religion and turn back to disbelief and also invite others towards this. Its proclaimer is Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi and ‘caller’ is Maulavi Abdul Maajid Daryabadi and he is supported by some other people also. The following verses perfectly fit these gentlemen:

And among men is he who serves Allah (standing) on the verge, so that if good befalls him he is satisfied therewith, but if a trial afflict him he turns back headlong; he loses this world as well as the hereafter; that is a manifest loss.17

(5) Quoting the statement of a disbeliever, the Almighty Allah says:

And I do not think the hour will come, and even if I am returned to my Lord I will most certainly find a returning place better than this.18

The disbeliever is debating with a believer and he says:

He was a denier of the Day of Judgment, yet he hoped for himself a good ‘revolution’ or you can say that he claimed thus.

This situation also perfectly fits Yazid who brought such a revolution in the world that he planned to destroy the whole religion and uproot the Islamic beliefs. His apostatic couplets shall remain on the pages of history until the Day of Judgment:

“The Banu Hashim had played a game to obtain rulership.

Neither an angel arrived nor a revelation descended.”

How clearly his denial of Islam is mentioned in this one couplet! The followers of Yazid are inviting the Ummah of Muhammad towards this revolution of ‘turning back on the heels’. And inspite of this he hopes, like that disbeliever, that even if there is Day of Judgment they shall be better than how they were in the world. Thus pay attention to these statements of Maktabe Tajalli:

“A study of this book is also necessary for the correction of religious beliefs… it should not be that you reach the Great Creator having misgivings about this great companion (Muawiyah) and be questioned about it on Day of Judgment.”

These gentlemen think that they shall be rewarded for supporting Banu Umayyah. Pray to Allah and say with a sincere heart that may Allah deal with them in the same way as He deals with their leader, and as the Qur’an says:

…the day when We will call every people with their Imam…19

(6) The atrocities perpetrated by Yazid on Husayn, his helpers and Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), their brief sketch could be estimated by the words of Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi in Sarrash Shahadatain that the honor the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) received through the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) was the most perfect honor:

“Since the highest grade of martyrdom is that a man is martyred while he is in a strange land, in travel and with extreme pain and discomfort. He should be rendered without a mount. His corpse should remain lying graveless and un-shrouded, and a large number of his companions and relatives should be killed before his eyes. His belongings should be looted. His ladies and orphan children should be taken as prisoners and he bears all these calamities only for the sake of God.”

Yazid and his army wrought all these oppressions on Husayn (a.s) and his companions, even though they and their present day followers hope:

…and even if I am returned to my Lord I will most certainly find a returning place better than this.20

The Almighty Allah has delivered an instant verdict for them:

…and they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back.21

Almost every Zakir (preacher) recites this above verse at the conclusion of Majlis and makes it his closing statement. Hence I also make it my final word in this article.

Our choice of reciting this verse at the end of Majalis proves that we also agree that Yazid is inviting towards a revolution and that revolution encompasses from the world to the Hereafter as we have come to know from the previous verses.

Its worldly face is that Muslims should ‘turn back on their heels’, towards disbelief and become deniers of monotheism, prophethood and resurrection and in the Hereafter the result of this ‘revolution’ would be that these people would themselves see towards which end they are being herded and where they are being returned. Indeed that place shall be Hell and: …a bad place of return it is…

Anyway, my article has clarified that the opinion of Tajalli and Mr. Daryabadi is very much true that this book is ‘revolutionary’ – at the most this revolution is not from lowliness to height or from darkness to light, rather it takes one from height to lowliness and from religion to disbelief. But if you remove the fear of God from your hearts it would not make any difference to you!

[Note: here it is necessary to mention that when the scholar researchers of Ahl al-Sunnah criticized the book of Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi to shreds and the true face of Muawiyah and Yazid was exposed to a great extent, the editor of ‘Tajalli’ issued an apology for their past misdemeanor and acknowledged their own failure to defend Muawiyah and Yazid.]

  • 1. Name of a Sunni organization
  • 2. Surah Taubah 9:95
  • 3. Surah Yusuf 12:62
  • 4. Surah Aale Imran 3:173
  • 5. Surah Aale Imran 3:173
  • 6. Surah Araaf 7:124-125
  • 7. Surah Shoara 26:50
  • 8. Surah Zukhruf 43:14
  • 9. Surah Aale Imran 3:144
  • 10. Surah Aale Imran 3:144
  • 11. Surah Baqarah 2:257
  • 12. Surah Aale Imran 3:149
  • 13. Surah Maidah 5:21
  • 14. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 15. Surah Bani Israel 17:60
  • 16. Translation: May Allah have mercy on him
  • 17. Surah Hajj 22:11
  • 18. Surah Kahf 18:36
  • 19. Surah Bani Israel 17:71
  • 20. Surah Kahf 18:36
  • 21. Surah Shoara 26:227

Appendix 3: Martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) and the Muslim and Jewish Calendars

(Published in As-Serat Vol. VI No. 3 & 4, 1401)

The 1400th year of the Hijri calendar is nearing its end. Since the last two years or more a substantial amount of time, energy and money is being spent on what has come to be known as the commemoration of the end of the 14th century of Hijri and the welcome of the 15th. Seminars are being held, articles written, booklets published, postage stamps issued and a lot of trinkets designed, made and sold to honor this occasion. Not even the ruling dynasty of Saudi Arabia seems to mind that all these festivities—financed with petro-dollars and arranged with the active blessings of their religious leaders—are innovations, which the Muslims of even a century ago knew nothing about.

It is, of course, the natural offspring of a process started a few decades ago when western imperialism established its hold in the Middle East. The Muslims of Egypt and some other countries began celebrating the (Muslim) New Year on 1st Muharram. By this act, they introduced a new “festival” in Islam.

Of course, the justifications are many. It is claimed that these 14th century functions are held “to assess the impact of Islam on humanity and the contribution of Muslims to various branches of learning and in the upliftment of human society”, “to probe into the past successes and failures’ and “to hammer out new plans for the future.”

Noble ideas, indeed! And nobody—least of all, the present writer— would deny their relevance and validity. But these rationalizations do not alter the fact that this celebration is an innovation. If such commendable goals may justify this innovation, then one has a right to ask these Muslims as to why they condemn the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) as an unlawful act? Is not this mourning justified on these very grounds? The remembrance of Imam Husayn’s supreme sacrifice on the altar of truth strengthens the moral fiber of the Muslims; keeps their feet firmly on the path of righteousness and piety; and creates in them a willingness to sacrifice their all in the way of Allah. It also helps the mourners in “probing their successes and failures” of the past year, and in “chalking out a new plan” for their religious, spiritual and social “upliftment for the future.”

The principle should always remain the same, shouldn’t it?

Lest there be any misunderstanding, it should be clarified here that the mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s) is not innovation at all. It was started by the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w) himself, more than 50 years before the event; and he was seen in a vision by the Mother of the believers, Umme Salma, on the day of Husayn’s martyrdom, mourning for Husayn. And Allah has ordered thousands of angels to weep on the grave of Imam Husayn (a.s) until the day of resurrection. These traditions are narrated in the Sunni books, and show that this particular mourning is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet and of the angels:

1. Some 50 years before the event of Karbala’, the Prophet wept when he was told by the angel that Husayn would be killed by the army of Yazid in Karbala’. Then Jibraeel asked, “O Prophet of God, do you want me to give you some earth from his place of martyrdom?” The Prophet said, “Yes.” Jibraeel gave him a handful of earth of Karbala’ and the Prophet began weeping uncontrollably. This tradition is recorded in Mishkatul Masabih, Musnad of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Sawaiqul Mohreqa of Allamah Ibn Hajar Makki and Sirrul-’alamin of Imam Ghazzali; and has been narrated by Imam Sha’abi, Imam Baihaqi, Imam Hakim and scores of other traditionalists. The Prophet gave that earth to his wife, Ummul Momineen, Umme Salma, and told her, “When you see this earth turned into blood, know that Husayn has been martyred.”

2. On the 10th Muharram, 61 A.H., Umme Salma was asleep in the afternoon when she saw the Prophet in her dream: He stood there in a tragic condition, his hair was dusty and disheveled, and in his hand was a bottle full of blood. Umme Salma asked him what it was. The Prophet said, “This is the blood of Husayn and his companions. I was collecting it since this morning.” Umme Salma woke up and hurried towards the bottle, which contained the earth of Karbala’; she saw red blood flowing from it. Then she cried and called her relatives and started mourning for Husayn. This tradition is narrated in Musnad of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Sawaiqul Mohreqa, Mishkatul Masabih, Sahih of Tirmidhi and other books.

3. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes in his book Ghunyatut-Talebeen, Vol. 2 page 62: “70,000 angels came on the grave of Husayn bin ‘Ali after his martyrdom and they are weeping on him and will remain weeping unto the Day of Judgment.”

4. God says in the Qur’an about Pharaoh and his army:

…neither the Sky nor the Earth wept for them and they were not given chance.1

Imam Muslim records in explanation of this ayat, “When Husayn was martyred, the Sky as well as the Earth wept on him and weeping of the sky is its being red.”2

It is a sign of the greatness of the 10th Muharram that Allah commanded the Israelites to observe it as a day of mourning; it was accompanied by a stern warning that anybody disobeying that law would be cut off from his tribe. The following is the passage quoted from Leviticus:3

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein; but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work; it shall be a stature forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.”

This command is also briefly mentioned in Leviticus.4 To understand what is meant by the seventh month, the following facts should be kept in mind:

1) The year of the Hebrews was based on lunar system. To make it coincide with solar year, a thirteenth month, Veadar, was added 7 times in a cycle of 19 years. The year began with the month of Abib (i.e., Nisan) with the new moon next before or next after the spring equinox.

2) The Arabs before Islam used to follow the same system. Thus their months coincided with the Jewish months; and Rajab coincided with Abib (i.e., Nisan) of the Jews. And the Jewish 7th month coincided with Muharram of the Arabs. (In original Hebrew reckoning, this seventh month was called Ethanim; now it is called Tishri I). As the original Jewish year began near the spring equinox (i.e. 21st March of the Gregorian calendar), the seventh month was bound to occur in September-October.

3) Some time after the Exile, the Jews changed the New Year from Nisan to the day of the new moon of the 7th month. Now it is their first month; except that the system of fasting and observing other laws concerning the 1st, 9th and 10th days (of the 7th month) mentioned above continues unchanged. Yom Hakippurim is faithfully observed with all due solemnity on the 10th day of the original seventh (i.e. the present first) month. (The Hebrew term, Yom Hakippurim, is rendered as Yaum-ul-Kaffarah in Arabic and Day of Atonement in English. In 1973, the world became familiar with the term ‘Yom Kippur’ when Egypt chose that day to start war with Israel, and thus caught them unprepared—the whole country was engaged in observing the fast and other rules of the Day of Atonement).

4) In the 9th year of Hijra, Islam forbade intercalation of the additional month every leap year. “Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve…Postponing (of a month, i.e. by intercalation) is only an addition in disbelief...”5 From then on, the parity between the Jewish and the Muslim calendars disappeared.

5) In spite of that disparity, the Muharram of 61 A.H. began with Tishri I; and 10th Muharram, the day when Imam Husayn (a.s) was martyred was 10th Tishri (Yom Hakippurim). See, for reference, the chart comparing the Hijra and Christian calendars, given in the 21st edition of al-Munjid. Thus the relationship of Yom Hakippurim with 10th Muharram was true not only because originally Muharram used to coincide with Tishri, but also because the martyrdom actually occurred on that very day.

I once discussed this commandment with Professor N. Q. King, of California University. I told him that, as apparently no significant historical event had happened on that day in Jewish history, one might safely say that it was a sort of prognosis of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s). The Professor wrote about it to his colleague, Dr. Mishael Maswari-Caspi, who very kindly wrote to me on March 28, 1978. In this letter, he writes, inter alia, on this subject as follows:

“If there is a link between the 10th of Al-Muharram and Yom Hakippurim, it is not just a coincidence, but emphasizes that we are truly close to each other.” He agreed that “in both places, Leviticus 23 and Leviticus 16, historicization is not emphasized. Nor is the historical connection brought out in Tractate Yoms, the tractate dealing in many details of the Day of Atonement.” He further writes: “Although no historical correlation is found, the spiritual and religious aspects are of utmost importance in both Bible and Talmud, whereas in the Midrashic literature (Midrash Tanhuma, Tisa 31) they relate this holy day to the event of bringing the tablets of the Covenant from Mount Sinai. It says: ‘The first time he went down on the 17th of Tammuz (July). He saw the calf and he broke the tablets. For two days he punished the people. He remained there from the 20th of Tammuz through the whole month of Ab, 40 days. Then he went up on the first day of Elul, staying 40 days, being the 10th of Tishri.’ This is why this holy day is devoted to atonement, and this is why the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies not in his fancy cloth with stripes of gold (reminiscent of the golden calf), but in a purely white garment.”

In view of the fact that the original commandment of Leviticus, as well as Tractate Yoms, does not refer to any historicization, one may safely say that the event mentioned in Midrash Tanhulna, Tisa 31, had no bearing, as a historical event, on this commandment. Rather it is the spiritual and religious aspects that are of paramount importance. The spiritual significance of bringing the tablets of the Covenant may be one of those aspects. And so may be the prognosis of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) not as a historical event but as a spiritual guiding light.

It is not uncommon about the early events of the Islamic history, and especially so if they happened in Muharram or Safar, that a difference of one year appears in their timing in various narrations. For example, the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) is said to happen on 10th Muharram, in the year 60, or the year 61, depending on various reports. But in fact, in most cases, there is no material difference between the two. Both speak of the same year—one calling it the 60th, and the other the 61st year after Hijrah. The reason for this confusing discrepancy is as follows: As mentioned earlier, in pre-Islamic days the year of the Arabs coincided with that of the Jews—Muharram was identical with the first (i.e. the original seventh) month of the Jewish calendar. When the Holy Prophet migrated to Medina in the month of Rabi’ul-awwal, the Muslims on the order of the Prophet himself started the Muslim calendar. They said that this or that event occurred in this or that month after Hijrah. This continued “until a year was completed”, and then they began saying that a certain event occurred in the first or second year of Hijrah; and so on. And in this way the Hijra calendar was established.

Reports to this effect are given in the Annals of al-Tabari (Prima series, E. J. Brill, Laden, ed. 1882-1885) Vol. III p. 1250 from Ibn Shahab, Ibn ‘Abbas and ‘Amr b. Dinar; and in Vol. V, p. 2480, from Ibn ‘Abbas.)

It may be inferred from the words, “until a year was completed”, that the year began with Rabi’ul-awwal and ended with Safar.

According to another narrative, the Hijrah calendar was established in the reign of the 2nd Caliph, in 16th year after Hijrah. The reports to this effect are found in the same two places of the Annals of al-Tabari. According to this narrative (of Sa’id b. Al-Musayyab), Umar gathered the people and asked them: From which day should we write (the Calendar)? ‘Ali said: From the day the Apostle of Allah migrated and left the land of polytheism. So Umar did so.”

The day when the Holy Prophet left Mecca was 1st Rabi’ul-awwal.6

It appears from the first narrative that the Muslim year began with the month of Rabi’ul-awwal; and that it was done by the order of the Prophet himself. And if the second narrative is correct, then ‘Ali had advised to start the year from Rabi’ul-awwal, an advice that according to this report, the second caliph accepted.

But the Arabs were accustomed to count Muharram as the first month, and old habits die hard; and that is why many people continued to follow that custom. That is the only explanation why Muharram came to be counted as first month of the Hijrah calendar. Obviously, this month had nothing to do with the Hijrah, the event upon which the Muslim year is based. There is a report in the same Annals, from Muhammad b. Sirin that the people, after discussion, had unanimously agreed to begin the year with Muharram. But obviously this report is an attempt to justify the practice, which by the time of Ibn Sirin (d. 110 A.H.) had firmly established itself in the Muslim society.

For those who, in early days, counted Rabi’ul-awwal as the first month, Muharram was the 11th month of the old year; for others it was the 1st month of the New Year. Thus by the former reckoning, Imam Husayn (a.s) was martyred in Muharram that was the 11th month of the year 60 A.H.; by the later reckoning, the same Muharram was the 1st month of the year 61 A.H.

  • 1. Surah Dukhan 44:29
  • 2. Sahih of Muslim
  • 3. Chapter 23, verses 23-32
  • 4. 16: 29-34
  • 5. Surah Taubah 9:37-38
  • 6. Safinatul-Bihar, Vol. 2, p. 696

Appendix 4: Fasting on Ashura

(Published in As-Serat Vol. VIII No. 3 & 4)

Some traditions are found in Sunni books to the effect that the Prophet (s.a.w) on migrating to Medina found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram. He asked them why, and was told: “It is an auspicious day; it is the day when God delivered the children of Israel from their enemy (i.e. Pharaoh); and, therefore, Moses fasted on that day.” The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “I am worthier of Moses than you are.” Thereupon, he fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast.1

It is noted by the commentator of Mishkatul Masabih that: “It was in the second year, because in the first year the Prophet had arrived at Medina after Ashura, in Rabi’ul-awwal.”

How much importance was this fast supposed to have may be judged from another tradition narrated in Sahih Bukhari: “The Prophet (s.a.w) ordered a man from the (tribe of) Aslam: Announce to the people that whoever has eaten should fast the rest of the day, and whoever has not eaten should fast (the whole day), because today is the Ashura (10th day of Muharram).”

That very year the fast of Ramadan was ordained and the obligation to fast on Ashura was abrogated, as has been claimed in other traditions narrated in the same book. Still, reportedly, it carries much importance as a voluntary fast.

Now let us look closely at these traditions:

First: The Jews had their own calendar and months. There is no logic in saying that they fasted on the 10th of Muharram - unless it could be proved that this date always coincided with a Jewish day of fast.

It was mentioned in my article, “Martyrdom of Imam Husayn and the Muslim and the Jewish Calendars2 that the first month of the Jews (Abib, later named Nisan) coincided with Rajab of the Arabs. W. O. E. Oesterley and Theodore H. Robinson have written that in Arabia, “the most important of all the new-moon festivals was that which fell in the month of Ragab (sic), equivalent to the Hebrew month Abib, for this was the time when the ancient Arabs celebrated the Spring festival.”3

Probably, in ancient times the two branches of Abraham’s house followed the same system of intercalating an additional month 7 times in a cycle of 19 years. And in this way the 7th Jewish month, Tishri I, coincided with Muharram. And the Ashura of Muharram synchronized with 10th of Tishri I, the Jewish Day of Atonement - a day of fast. In that article, it was observed that the two calendars lost their synchronization when Islam, in the 9th year of hijra, disallowed intercalation. But on deeper consideration it transpired that that parity was lost long before the advent of Islam, because the Arabs did not follow any mathematical calculation in their intercalation. That was why the Muharram of the 2nd year of Hijra began on 5th July, 623 C. E. (Al-Munjid, 21st ed.), months before Tishri I (which always coincides with September-October).

Clearly, Ashura of Muharram in that year (or, for that matter, during the Prophet’s whole life at Medina) had no significance whatsoever for the Jews.

The question is: Why did they fast on that day?

Second: The Jewish Midrashic literature relates the 10th day of the 7th month (Yom Hakippurim - Day of Atonement) to the event of bringing the tablets of the Covenant from Mount Sinai, as Dr. Mishael Maswari-Caspi has written in his letter, quoted in my previous article, mentioned above.

The question is: If the Jews had wanted to keep the long-lost synchronization of Tishri I and Muharram in view, how was it that they forgot to narrate this tradition to the Prophet?

Third: The month in which God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh was Abib (i.e. Rajab), as the Bible clearly says: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”4

The question is: How could the Jews transfer an event of Abib (originally coinciding with Rajab) to Muharram, in open defiance of their Torah?

And lastly here is a point to ponder for the Muslims: The Prophet (s.a.w) was sent with a religion to abrogate all previous religions and Shariah. How was it that he deigned to imitate the custom of the Jews?

It is clear from above-mentioned facts that the Jews had no reason at all to fast on Ashura of Muharram at that period; and this story, built on that premise, is just that - a fiction. Obviously, it was invented by a narrator who only knew that once upon a time Muharram coincided with the Jews’ Tishri I; but was totally unaware of contemporary Jewish religion and culture.

One feels constrained to mention here that this and other such traditions were forged by camp followers of the Umayyads, after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s), as a part of their campaign to turn the 10th of Muharram into a day of rejoicing. These traditions are of the same genre as those which say that it was on the 10th of Muharram that Noah’s ark rested on Mount Arafat, the fire became cool and safe for Abraham, and Jesus ascended to the heaven. In the same category came the traditions exhorting the Muslims to treat Ashura as a festival of joy, and to store one’s food-grain on this very day as it would increase one’s sustenance and bring the blessings of Allah to the household.

  • 1. Sahih of al-Bukhari, Vol. 3; Egypt ed.; Pg. 54, Mishkatul Masabih; Delhi ed.; 1307 A.H.; Pg. l72
  • 2. Al-Serat, Vol. VI, No’s 3 & 4; Mohurrum 1401 Nov. 1980
  • 3. Hebrew Religion; S.P.C.K., London; 1955; Pg. 128
  • 4. Deuteronomy 16:1

Appendix 5: The Illustrious Period of the Imamate of Imam Zainul Aabidin (a.s)

(Al-Serat, Vol. 5 (1979), Nos. 3 & 4 )

No Imam began his Imamat in a more tragic atmosphere. The first day of his Imamat saw him seriously ill and a captive of the army of Yazid in Karbala’. His father and predecessor had sacrificed all he had on the altar of truth; and Imam Zainul Aabidin found himself with a group of helpless widows and orphans being led from place to place, from the court of Ibn Ziyad to that of Yazid. Finally they were thrown into a prison, where the Imam spent the first year of his Imamat, cut off from the followers of his father and mostly unable to look after their affairs.

Understandably, the tragedy of Karbala’ had created chaos in the Shia world. Shias were in the throes of a dark pessimism, and the community was in disarray. A movement had already begun to accept Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah, son of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (a.s) as the 4th Imam. Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah himself had no such design. But the problem was: How to stop that movement without putting the life of Imam Zainul Aabidin in danger?

Yazid had not hesitated to murder Imam Husayn (a.s) in spite of the highest prestige the Imam had in the Muslims’ eyes. It would have been far easier for him to kill Imam Zainul Aabidin a young man of 23 years of age, whose divine virtues were yet to shine before the Muslim community. And it was not in the interest of Islam that Imam Zainul Aabidin be martyred so soon after Imam Husayn (a.s).

Altogether, Imam Zainul Aabidin had three difficult tasks before him:

1. To announce his Imamat publicly without seeming to oppose outsiders.

2. To weld the community together, making a “Tasbih” (rosary) out of the scattered beads - doing it in such a way as not to give Yazid and Yazidites an excuse to retaliate.

3. To expand true faith, providing a beacon of light to guide the seekers of truth to the safety of true faith and virtuous deeds - doing it without attracting untoward attention of his enemies.

Any of these Himalayan tasks would have defeated a lesser being. But Imam Zainul Aabidin under divine guidance did achieve all these aims in such a beautiful and unobtrusive way that even his followers, who tremendously benefited, and are benefiting, from his superb leadership did not consciously realize how they were being guided.

Announcement of his Imamat

This took the form of a family dispute:

Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah claimed that he was the Imam after his brother, Imam Husayn (a.s) (as Imam Husayn, had become Imam after the eldest brother, Imam Hasan). Imam Zainul Aabidin said that his uncle’s claim was wrong; that he (i.e. Imam Zainul Aabidin) was Imam after his father, by divine appointment. This family “feud” apparently could not be resolved; and ultimately Imam Zainul Aabidin suggested that the “Black Stone” (al-Hajarul-aswad) of Ka’ba be approached for its judgment. Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah readily agreed and both parties went to Mecca during Hajj season, when thousands of pilgrims had assembled for the pilgrimage.

The stranger than fiction news must have spread like wild fire that ‘Ali bin al-Husayn and Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah wanted the Black Stone to judge between them. Everyone must have wondered how could a stone judge between two persons. They must have eagerly waited to see the outcome when the two parties would approach the Stone. What would they say when the Stone, being a stone, would not respond to their arguments!

This must have been the feeling of the crowd when the uncle and the nephew slowly advanced towards the Black Stone. First Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah talked to the Stone; there was no response. Imam Zainul Aabidin said: “Had you, O Uncle, been the Wasi (vicegerent) and Imam, it would certainly have answered you.”

Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah said, “Now, O Nephew, you pray and ask it.” Imam Zainul Aabidin prayed to Allah and then asked the Black Stone to declare in clear Arabic as to who was the Wasi and Imam after al-Husayn bin ‘Ali.

There was a tremor in the Stone and then Allah made it speak in clear Arabic:

“O Allah, verily Wisayah and Imamah, after al-Husayn bin ‘Ali is for Zainul Aabidin ‘Ali bin al-Husayn, son of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatima binte Rasulillah.”

Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah accepted the verdict and declared his allegiance for Imam Zainul Aabidin.1

This “dispute” was the beginning of the end of the Kaisaniyah movement, which wanted to accept Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah as Imam. The schism in the Shia rank was arrested; and as it was only a “family feud”, Yazid could not object to it in any way.

But the miraculous nature of the episode and the timing served its purpose. The pilgrims on returning to their homes must have felt compelled to narrate this strange story; and thus the Shias throughout the Muslim world came to know, without any formal proclamation, that Imam Zainul Aabidin was their divinely appointed Leader and Guide.

Uniting the Shia Community

This is an even more fascinating aspect of his Imamat.

How was he to unite all the Shias in an, ever-lasting bond? What was the factor, which could join them permanently?

Philosophical exhortations? But they have effect on only small group of intellectuals; they do not influence the man-in-the-street. Moreover, it cannot influence the “feelings”; and “unity” is a feeling of oneness. Some joyous aspects of religion? Joy and happiness is a “feeling”, no doubt. But it does not necessarily “unite” the people. Many a time a man celebrates a joyous function and his brother refuses to join him, because of some minor misunderstandings. But let there be a tragedy in that house, and the same brother would rush therein to share that sorrow.

This tendency of human nature brings us to the third alternative: Sorrow.

Sorrow and grief succeeds in binding the mourners together, while intellectual arguments and joyous functions fail to achieve that object. Have you not seen how at the time of a national tragedy all political differences are genuinely forgotten and how the whole nation unites together to share the sorrow and shoulder the resulting responsibilities? Imam Zainul Aabidin under divine command selected this method to unite the community.

And again it was adopted apparently just as a personal way of life, without its being aimed against anyone.

Allamah Majlisi2 has written a chapter, “His mourning and Weeping on the Martyrdom of his Father, May Grace of Allah be on Both”, in which he, inter alia, writes:

“And it is said that he (i.e. Imam Zainul Aabidin) continued to weep until his eyes were endangered. And whenever he took water to drink, he wept until the tears filled the pot. Someone talked to him about it and he replied: ‘Why should not I cry, when my father was denied the water which was free to the beasts and animals?’

“And never was food brought to him but that he wept, so much so that a servant told him: “May I be your ransom, O Son of the Messenger of Allah! I am afraid that you would die (of this weeping).” The Imam said: ‘I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah and I do not know. Never do I remember the massacre of the children of Fatima but that tears strangle me.’”

Naturally, this example set by their Imam was followed by the Shias everywhere; and they joined hands to establish mourning of Imam Husayn (a.s) whenever possible. This created a feeling of oneness and unity in all persons attending those mourning-sessions.

And how could Yazid or Yazidites tell Imam Zainul Aabidin not to remember his father?

This institution of mourning became the focal point of all religious activities of the Shia community and the lifeline of their faith. In later periods, the enemies of the faith realized the vital role, which the “mourning” plays in religious education and character building of the Shias, and they tried to stop it by the force of their “Fatwa”.3

Now they have changed their tactics. Now they ask: Why should one mourn for an event, which occurred more than 1300 years ago? They ask it while they are fully aware that these mourning sessions (Majalis) are the best-organized, well-attended religious schools, where the participants willingly learn the basic tenets of faith, are exhorted to emulate the way of life of Ahl al-Bayt; and thus their Islamic outlook on the life and the world is fortified.

This seat of learning was given to the Shia community by Imam Zainul Aabidin so unobtrusively that even the community did not realize its importance and significance in the beginning.

Teaching True Islam

The previous two tasks were stepping-stones to reach this most important of his responsibilities. We have seen how the Imam announced his Imamat by means of a “family feud”, and how he gave his followers a platform of unity in the form of his mourning for his father. In neither instance he addressed any outsider; still the message got through. Likewise, in meeting this third and most important of his tasks, he did not address any human being. He selected the form of Dua (invocation) for this purpose. He recorded his Duas in a book form and asked his two sons to make copies of the book. This recording itself is an indication that these invocations were not just a prayer, but also a means of guidance for the Muslims.

How could anyone tell him not to ask his wants from Allah? How could anyone come between Allah and His servant, when raising his hands he called his Lord in a heart-rending voice to come to his aid and to help him out of his difficulties. But those recorded duas are a treasure of Islamic knowledge. One finds in them almost all theological and ethical questions answered eloquently and eruditely. Reading them, the heart is filled with true belief and sincere love of Allah; and the light of virtue and nobleness illuminates the character.

It is not possible to give here even a short review of this sacred book, generally known as As-Sahifatus-Sajjadiyah and As-Sahifatul-Kamilah; and also called “Psalm of Aale Muhammad” and “Injil of Ahlul Bayt.”

When this book was shown to Egyptian scholars, they were thunderstruck and awed by its beauty. They were amazed and stunned by the purity of thought and perfection of character to which this book irresistibly leads its reader.

The renowned scholar, late Al-Tantawi wrote:

“I have studied this book with utmost care. I have gone through the Duas (invocations) and Munajats (supplications) with a searching eye. I was stunned by the lofty meanings and deep sense contained therein. I was deeply impressed by the value and magnificence of these invocations. I wonder how the Muslims all along have been ignorant of such valuable treasure. They have been in deep slumber all these centuries. They could not even feel that Allah had supplied them with such a precious store of knowledge.

“The invocations in this book have two distinct approaches: one seeks for the knowledge and guidance to keep away from sins and evil things, while the other persuades and exhorts one to enable one’s ‘self’ by performance of virtuous deeds. We may say that these Invocations, full of knowledge and guidance, are a wonderful treasure of secrets, and contain hints regarding self-rapprochement, admission of shortcomings, with tears and self-purification, warding off vicissitudes and difficulties, safe-guarding oneself from the tyrannies of the enemy, recovery from various diseases and so on. All such Duas are found mostly in the first part of the book, while the later part consists of the loftiness and grandeur of Allah, His creation and other wonders of His power and might.

“Is it not wonderful? Does not it show that these holy personages are unveiling many secrets of learning and unraveling many mysteries of knowledge for Muslims, who happen to be completely ignorant of it. It is a fact that the affairs of human beings are divided into two parts: One is to keep away from evil, the other to acquire good traits together with the knowledge of Divine existence, which is essential for self-purification and spiritual perfection.”

Then he goes on expounding these points with help of many invocations. In another article, he compares an invocation of Imam Zainul Aabidin with the prayer of the Prophet Nuh. Just to give an example of the high religious and ethical standard taught by our Holy Imam, I am quoting here extracts from a Dua, known as “Makerim-ul-Akhlaq” (Noble Character). This Dua is enough to lead the reciter on the right path, making him a perfect Muslim and a virtuous believer.

“O Lord, Thou art my shelter if I grow sad, and Thou art my resource if I am in need and unto Thee I cry for help, when deeply afflicted, and with Thee is recompense for what is lost, and reformation for what is corrupted, and alteration for what Thou disapprovest:

Therefore, favor me with security before calamity, and bounty before begging (for it) and right direction before error and spare me from bearing me peace on the day of resurrection and favor me with handsome guidance.

O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Family and ward off (evil) from me with Thy grace, and nourish me with Thy blessing, and reform me with Thy graciousness and cure me with Thy goodness and hide me in the shelter of Thy mercy and clothe me with Thy approbation, and help me, when matters grow difficult about me, (to choose) the most righteous of them, and when actions become dubious, (to select) the purest of them, and when the creeds conflict, (to adopt) the most praiseworthy of them.

O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Family and crown me with sufficiency and adorn me with the grace of Thy love and grant me true guidance and do not try me with prosperity and confer on me the beauty of comfort and do not make my life a succession of trials, and do not reject my prayer with repulsion; for, I do not recognize any as Thy rival, and I do not call upon any as Thy equal.

O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Family and restrain me from extravagance and preserve my subsistence from waste and increase my possessions by giving blessing therein and let me walk along the path of benevolence; in whatever I spend my (wealth).”

In this way Imam Zainul Aabidin spent his life providing guidance not only for the Muslims of his time, but also for the generations to come. When he left this world, he had more than accomplished all that he was entrusted with by Allah.

  • 1. Ihtijaj, al-Tabarsi, Al-Kafi, al-Kulaini, Basa’-erud-Darajat, A’lumul-wara, Manaqib of Ibn Shahr ‘Ashob, Biharul-Anwar, Vol. 11, of Majlisi
  • 2. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 11
  • 3. Religious verdict