Was Karbala A Struggle For Power?

For the question that arises is that if a person looks at the story of Sayyid ash-Shuhada', salamu Allah 'alayh, without seeing Imam Husayn as Imam ma'soom, without seeing Sayyid ash-Shuhada' as an infallible and as someone who has the purest of hearts. If someone looks at this story without knowing who Sayyid ash-Shuhada', 'alayhi as-salam is, what do they assume?

They assume that in this world many types of conflicts have taken place. Many types of conflicts in this world have taken place. One person looking for power, the other one looking for power, struggles of power, struggles to be known, struggles of status and position. And so when a person looks at the story of Sayyid ash-Shuhada' 'alayhi as-salam, one of the questions that arises, how do I know? And how can someone that does not already believe in the character of Imam Husayn 'alayhi as-salam, how can they understand and can it be proven to them, that when Sayyid ash-Shuhada' stands in front of Yazid ibn Mu'awiya, and when he leaves Medinat ul-Munawara, he does not do so for hubb ul-jaah wa al-shuhra, he does for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.

Now this was one of the questions that the ulama' discussed. How do we know, how can we tell that Husayn, salamu Allah 'alayh, does not stand for status, to be known, to gain the khilafa of this earth. How do we know this?

In answering this question, ulama' gave a number of answers. Because today, if you look in the history of Europe, of the Middle East, of the Arabs, of the non Arabs, you will find so many examples. One person rises up, he wants power. He is killed by his own brother, he is killed by his own father. The father kills the son, the son kills the father. We see this in all types of history. So how do I know this was not the case in Karbala? How do I know it was not just a story of a person who wanted power, goes to fight Yazid and Yazid kills him? How do I know this was not the case?

The ulama' in trying to answer this, give a number of answers. Some of them you have heard before. Of the answers that are mentioned is, for example, who says that asking or desiring position is always a bad thing? Yes, we said Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, detests someone whose actions are there for jaah wa al-shuhra, position, status, power. But who said that is all the time? Who said that is the case 'ala al-itlaaq, in every single situation? No.

Rather, in certain cases, doing something with the love of position in your heart is a good thing. Let me give you an example. You have, for example, a town. This town has 20, 30 families. There is only one person in that town that has the potential to go and study in university and become a doctor, and he would be the only doctor of this town. In that case, when there is only one person amongst these 30 families who has the potential to study and come back and be a doctor, it becomes wajib on him to do so. This person has love of what? Love of reaching a position. Love of becoming a medic. But why does he do so? His love for position, his love for status was not so that he could be arrogant in front of people. His love for status was to serve the human being.

Likewise, if you have a group of families and there is not one mujtahid or 'alim, it becomes necessary and wajib for one person to go and study who has got that salahiyya, who has got that potential, with the love in his heart to reach the status of a mujtahid. Why? So that he can serve the people.

Or an even simpler example, if you have a gathering and in this gathering one person, let us say, is hard of hearing, and so we need someone who can do sign language. There is only one person in all of that gathering. This person stands up, he says I will be the translator. So he has a desire to reach a status in front of people, but not for himself, not for his own ego, to serve the people that are in front of him.

This type of love of position and status is something that is praised by Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. This is something we find in Qur'an al-Kareem, when Nabi Yusuf, 'alayhi as-salam, says: "ij'alnee 'ala khaza'ini al-ardh" (12:55). Nabi Yusuf, in the story of Yusuf, 'alayhi as-salam, what does he say? He tells the Pharaoh of Egypt, make me the chancellor in charge of the finances. Why? Because he knows that no one can deal with the finances and stop people from dying like me.

And so the first thing that we said is when we say hubb al-shuhra wa al-jaah and position is a bad thing, it is not always seem to be a bad thing. For if you have Imam al-ma'soom who knows that he is able to lead the community better than anyone else or lead the Ummah better than anyone else, it becomes wajib for him to have desire to reach that status in front of people.

The second thing that we were told that proves that Husayn, salamu Allah 'alayh, does not have love of status and power is that there are a number of conversations that take place between Sayyid ush-Shuhada' and some of his close family members before he leaves Medinat ul-Munawara. We have a number of situations and things that take place where the Holy Imam speaks to for example, Muhammad Hannafiyya, Ibn Abbas and others. And if a person wishes to understand the goal of Sayyid ush-Shuhadaa' in Karbala better, then he should read those conversations. A person can understand exactly why did he leave Medina and rise up.

In one of them is his speech with Ibn Abbas. Ibn Abbas comes to him and says: Ya Ibn ar-Rasul Allah, I love you as a brother and I am someone that wishes to advise you sincerely. I am not someone that wishes bad for you. So the Imam says, Yes I know what you say is true that you love me as a brother. He says, Ya Ibn ar-Rasul Allah, why do you go towards Iraq? Why do you go towards Kufa? I fear that you would be killed. Go somewhere else. He says, Why don't you go to Yemen where there are more followers of your father, Ali ibn Abi Talib than in Iraq? There you will have stronger followers, a greater number of followers, more sincere followers.

The Imam, salamu Allah 'alayh, replies by saying, Yes, your advice is good. However, I stick on my plan and I go to Kufa. This is one of the proofs of the reason why Husayn, salamu Allah 'alayh, leaves.

What do I mean? For if someone has love for power and love for status, would he go to that place where he has more followers or that place where he has less followers? If I have love to conquer and have love for gaining a status and position, would I go somewhere where I have 5000 sincere followers or somewhere where I can get 10,000? Ibn Abbas says, You have more sincere followers in Yemen, go there. Gather your followers there. Husayn says no. If he has a desire for power, he goes to Yemen first. He gathers the Shi'a of Amir ul-Mu'minin that were there, then he comes, but he does not do so.