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The Tragedy of Karbala’ Is the Natural Consequence of Some Unnatural Factors

We should know that the tragedy of Karbala’ is the natural consequence of some unnatural factors that the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) had to face from the last moments of the Holy Prophet (S). The writer has already shown in brief, what the tradition of Two Heavy things (Thaqalayn) demanded and why the change in this command distanced Bani Hashim from rulership, which caused their worldly leadership to be lost and finally their religious leadership was also gone.

This reduced their honor to such an extent that they began to be included among the common people. Thus, after such factors came into action, a tragedy of the magnitude of the Tragedy of Karbala’ was not entirely unexpected.

It is a decided matter that if after the Messenger of Allah (S), Ali (a.s.) had been accepted as the Caliph, the Tragedy of Karbala’ would never have occurred. Indeed, if he had become the Caliph, he would never have bestowed official positions and economic concessions to Bani Umayyah. This is what that seems apparent. Bani Umayyah would have remained in the basal position in which the Messenger of Allah (S) had left them.

Doubtlessly, if Ali (a.s.) had been accepted as the successor to the Holy Prophet (S), he was the one to have conformed to the style and method of the Holy Prophet (S). It was not possible that Ali (a.s.) would have deviated from the policy of the Holy Prophet (S). The first mistake was that the Muslims opposed Bani Hashim. And the second mistake committed by them was that this opposition made the Bani Umayyah very strong. Not only were Bani Hashim hurt by this, even the world of Islam had to bear untold damages, as will be shown by future discussions.

We have already described the process of the empowerment of Bani Umayyah in the first volume of our book Kashful Haqaiq. But here also, we shall mention in brief, the account of Bani Umayyah’s rise to power. We should know that immediately after the formation of Caliphate, Bani Umayyah were presented with excellent opportunities to gain power, which this tribe had never even dreamt of. From the beginning of the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, the Bani Umayyah began to become powerful and within two years, the Syrian area was populated by the people of this tribe. Each and every member of this clan shifted from Mecca and Medina to Syria, and they gained their worldly desires as much as they had craved.

When rulership of Syria was gifted to Abu Sufyan, he did not opt to go there himself. His son, Yazeed Ibn Abu Sufyan took over the position gained by his father and departed to Syria. This gentleman was the governor of Syria for four years: Two years during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and two years during the Caliphate of Umar. Yazeed bin Abu Sufyan was not a very capable person, so his brother Muawiyah used to assist him in administration.

After the death of Yazeed bin Abi Sufyan, Muawiyah succeeded him as the governor of Syria. He was very cunning and crafty. Though he had no sort of religious capability, he possessed extraordinary manipulative power from the worldly aspect. As soon as he became the governor, the atmosphere of this country was transformed. In a brief time, Syria became a powerful and superior part of the Islamic kingdom.

Although Syria was considered to be under the control of Caliphate, Muawiyah had a free hand to do as he wished. In spite of this, Muawiyah never acted in a rebellious manner with the Caliphate. Rather, Muawiyah used to accord great respect and regard to Umar, the second Caliph. And why shouldn’t he had been so polite, when all that Muawiyah had achieved was due to the kindness of Umar?

The period of Umar’s Caliphate is said to be ten years but actually it was twelve because the two-year Caliphate of Abu Bakr was only in name. During this period of twelve years, Bani Umayyah became rulers and when the Caliphate of Uthman arrived, even the Caliphate became the property of Bani Umayyah, because the third Caliph was also from Bani Umayyah. At this time, the whole Islamic world seemed to be only Bani Umayyah. The pomp and show of Bani Umayyah at this time was beyond imagination. The land of Shaam (Syria) was filled with Bani Umayyah. They held all official positions in government and they were preferred for every post. This was the position of Bani Umayyah.

Now let us see the condition of Bani Hashim, which denotes the family of the Prophet. The head of this family at this time was Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and there did not remain any honor for Bani Hashim. They were completely out of power. A member of this clan did not even have a menial post in government. Bani Hashim had become distanced from public respect.

Their private economic conditions had also deteriorated due to the loss of Fadak. With the loss of their worldly position, there did not remain with them even religious leadership, as we have already explained in the foregoing pages. Apparently, there remained no sort of superiority for Bani Hashim and in the near future also there was no hope of any considerable change in their status. Yes, after the death of Uthman, somehow Ali (a.s.) was appointed to the Caliphate.

But the Caliphate of Ali (a.s.), which lasted for four years, was mostly spent in wars. First of all, due to the rebellion of Muawiyah, ‘A’ysha fought His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) at Jamal with Talha and Zubair. After this, Muawiyah continuously fought with the Caliph of the age. All these machinations of Muawiyah and his rebellious activities are considered ‘errors of judgment’. The writer has not understood till today, what this ‘error of judgment’ is? And if Allah wills, it shall never ever become clear to him, because a just mind cannot accept such a thing. This is beyond the comprehension of the writer, because neither this humble one has the same mentality as Muawiyah, nor has any sort of interest with his activities.

Anyway, after becoming the Caliph, His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) could not exalt Bani Umayyah, just as before this the Holy Prophet (S) had never allowed Bani Umayyah to gain supremacy. It could not be expected from Ali (a.s.) that he would allow Bani Umayyah to retain their undeserved power. The same Bani Umayyah, who were merely a tribe during the time of the Messenger of Allah (S) had now become the Sultans of Islamic dominions.

Anyhow, the brief Caliphate of Ali (a.s.) ended with his martyrdom. Bani Hashim could not achieve any official positions during his tenure. After him, Imam Hasan (a.s.) succeeded to the post of his father. Immediately after the appointment of Imam Hasan (a.s.) as the Caliph in Kufa, Muawiyah marched to Kufa with an army 60,000 strong. Imam Hasan (a.s.) abdicated the Caliphate and Muawiyah became the de facto Caliph. Due to this achievement of Caliphate, Muawiyah became one of the twelve Caliphs of Ahlul Sunnat. Thus, Muawiyah got the Caliphate by force and coercion and this method came to be accepted as a valid method of gaining Caliphate according to Ahlul Sunnat as is well-known among the educated people.

After abdication, Imam Hasan (a.s.) became a pensioner of Muawiyah and returned to Medina to live with his brother, Imam Husayn (a.s.) in a way that content people live. Although there remained no political value of Bani Hashim at this time, Muawiyah was not feeling safe from Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s.).

Somehow, Imam Hasan (a.s.) was removed from the scene by poison. It is well known that Muawiyah had got Imam Hasan (a.s.) poisoned. Abul Fida, the historian says: “Some say it was Muawiyah and some think it was Yazeed who had done this.” This writer believes it was Muawiyah who had Imam Hasan (a.s.) poisoned. His son was not capable enough to have Imam Hasan (a.s.) martyred while he himself sat in Damascus. Yazeed was a weak person having no determination.

Apart from this, due to his sensual habits, he had no intelligence and the fact is that he had inherited none of the craftiness and cunning of Muawiyah. If he had even the slightest awareness, he would not have forced Imam Husayn (a.s.) to such an extent to give the oath of allegiance.

Muawiyah would never have employed such forcible methods. He never demanded allegiance from Imam Husayn (a.s.). Muawiyah just needed the kingdom to rule and he was not interested in the allegiance of Imam Hasan (a.s.). If Muawiyah had insisted for allegiance, in spite of his magnanimity, Imam Hasan (a.s.) would have refused. And then Muawiyah would have needed the same forcible methods that later became necessary for his son, Yazeed, against Imam Husayn (a.s.).

Thus, when the news of the martyrdom of Imam Hasan (a.s.) reached Muawiyah, he was much relieved according to his own admission.1 But Imam Husayn (a.s.) was still alive. This was a great danger that lurked upon Muawiyah. He used to tell his son that he must not yet consider his kingdom safe. “Husayn Ibn Ali was yet living. He has the courage of his father. And till he is alive, you must not feel safe from his side.” Doubtlessly, these statements of Muawiyah show a great foresight. The son did not have any such foresight. Anyway, to strengthen the Caliphate of his son, initially Muawiyah used persuasive methods. And only after this, he began to take the oath of allegiance of Muslims in favor of his son.

Thousands of Muslims paid allegiance to Yazeed. Taking allegiance in Syria was not at all difficult. It was also taken from many people of Mecca and Medina, but the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet remained aloof from all this. If Yazeed had any sort of understanding like his father, he would not have been so severe in obtaining allegiance from Bani Hashim and would have left them on their own. But this use of force finally led to the clear refusal of Imam Husayn (a.s.) to give allegiance, and as a result of which he had to face the tragedy of Karbala’, due to which Yazeed began to be remembered as an evil Satan even by some Ahlul Sunnat.

Before we discuss the events of Karbala’, we would like to show how this incident can be viewed from different points of view. According to our research, this event has only two aspects: One of its aspects is that Imam Husayn (a.s.) was on the right and that is why he was martyred unjustly.

The second view is that (we seek Allah’s refuge) Imam Husayn (a.s.) was a traitor and his killing was a lawful act on the part of Caliphate, because the Imam was neither oppressed nor killed a martyr. The sect which considers Imam Husayn (a.s.) as the oppressed one and a martyr, rather, it considers this martyrdom to be a part of faith, it is necessary for the sect to consider Caliphate to be a divinely ordained office. And it should believe in the infallibility of the successor of the Prophet. To have a belief opposite to this implies that Husayn (a.s.) was a traitor and hence his killing should not be considered martyrdom. Thus, from this aspect, it is only the Imamiyah sect that believes in the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.).

The non-Imamiyah have no right to consider Imam Husayn (a.s.) an oppressed one and a martyr. Some non-Imamiyah people in India, who are seen accepting the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.) and also some of them who even participate in Azadari (mourning ceremonies) are actually doing something against the basic principles of their faith, because according to their principle, Yazeed was a rightful Caliph and thus Imam Husayn (a.s.) becomes a traitor. That is why his refusal to give allegiance cannot make him a martyr.

Doubtlessly, it is only the right of Shias of the family of the Holy Prophet (S) that they consider Imam Husayn (a.s.) as the rightful successor of the Prophet, and a martyr. And it befits only them to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.). The just people should note that when infallibility was no longer considered a condition for Caliphate, then what doubt could there be in Yazeed’s Caliphate? Didn’t Yazeed get even two people from non-Bani Hashim to fulfill the condition of consensus? The condition of consensus was most appropriate for Yazeed. Leave alone two, Yazeed had obtained Caliphate by the consensus of two hundred thousand people.

Apart from this, the condition of forcible obtaining of Caliphate also applies to Yazeed. It was that, through which Muawiyah had obtained Caliphate from Imam Hasan (a.s.). The same condition was applicable to Yazeed. In addition to this, the condition of appointment by the predecessor was also in favor of Yazeed. Muawiyah had clearly appointed Yazeed as his successor.

As we have mentioned above, Muawiyah appointed Yazeed as his successor and made utmost efforts to obtain allegiance for him. He was also successful to a large extent. The condition of consultation committee (Shura) was also in favor of Yazeed. The Caliphate of Uthman was entrusted only to six people. The whole of Syria was the Shura committee for Yazeed. Without any doubt, those who do not believe infallibility to be a necessary condition for Caliphate, consider Yazeed the rightful Caliph.

The teacher of this writer, Maulavi Sayyid Muhammad Gul Sahab Jalalabadi had a firm belief in the rightfulness of Yazeed’s Caliphate and his view was most appropriate, due to which he did not consider the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.) to be a martyrdom. In the same way, some other scholars of the province had the same kind of belief and it is possible that they still do.

But in Afghanistan there are some Ahlul Sunnat who are very particular about this belief. In the view of the writer, such people do not deserve to be criticized, because when infallibility is not a condition of Caliphate and Yazeed had all the necessary conditions of Caliphate, then why shouldn’t he be considered a rightful Caliph? It is nothing but injustice that after having all the conditions of Caliphate, Yazeed shouldn’t be accepted as Caliph. Even when I did not believe in infallibility to be a necessary condition of Caliphate, I used to consider Yazeed a rightful Caliph, and without any doubt, I was right in having such a stand.

Every scholar that did not accept infallibility as the condition of Caliphate, considered Yazeed a rightful Caliph. In the view of the writer, such a stand is worth admiration, because these people are loyal to their own principles. It seems that Abdullah Ibn Umar also considered Yazeed a rightful Caliph. If it had not been so, he would neither have given his allegiance to Yazeed nor encouraged other people to give it. The son of such a great Caliph, and himself an intelligent man, cannot commit an evil act!

Indeed, he considered the Caliphate of Yazeed, a valid Caliphate. And why shouldn’t he have considered it so? When no excuse can be found in his Caliphate and it had all the necessary conditions. Abdullah indeed did not consider infallibility as the necessary condition of Caliphate. If he had thought so, he would have considered unlawful and false the Caliphate of the three Caliphs and Muawiyah.

However, Husayn Ibn Ali (a.s.) considered infallibility to be a necessary condition of Caliphate. That is why he did not accept Yazeed as the rightful Caliph and opposed him and he did not even hesitate to lay down his life.

  • 1. Ref. Tarikh Khamis