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Introduction to the tragedy of Karbala – Political motives

15. January 2017
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Introduction to the tragedy of Karbala

Ashura – the stand of the people of justice

Ashura is a day marked by every free man on earth as a commemoration of the epic martyrdom of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, known as the tragedy of Karbala. It falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which has given it the name “Ashura” from the word “10” in Arabic.

Ashura marks the day where the grandson of the Holy prophet (pbuh) was brutally slaughtered because he upraised against an oppressive leader who suppressed the whole community and did not show mercy to anyone.  We commemorate Imam Hussein (pbuh) for his beautiful sacrifice and despite of his few companions he did not accept to pledge allegiance with the tyrant Yazid.

Yazid – the thief of freedom

There is no doubt that Yazid represented a huge danger to the sovereignty of the human being and  specifically  to the Islamic nation; every political activist was killed or imprisoned. There were no freedom of religion nor speech, he had a heavy consumption of alcohol, was a gambler, an oppressor for weak and poor people and he was not in any manner a man of justice. His love for this materialistic world, his hate for the household of the Prophet and his injustice had taken over every corner of the Islamic nation.

Hussein – the revolutioner of the nation

A religious reason behind Hussein’s fantastic stand was that the nation had to be taught about the true Islamic conception of Imamah, including the Imam’s true role. In accordance with Islamic requirements Imam Hussein (pbuh) explained the concept and the issues in every opportunity in front of the Muslim nation. In his speeches with such roaring words Imam Hussein (pbuh) made it clear that the Ummayads who have deviated from the right path of Islam are not suitable to be rulers. And to fulfil his duty towards Allah in enjoining the good and forbidding the evil meant that Imam Hussein (pbuh) had to follow the path of the revolution, because he knew that it was the only way that provided any hopefulness to reform in his grandfather’s (pbuh&h) nation.

Yazzid’s negative behavior and manners were spread among the people in several parts of the nations to a terrifying extent. The material pleasure of this world began to be visible in all sections of the nation, as a substitute to the sacrifice for the cause of God. The people forgot that the greatest possible blessing and pleasure that believers can have is the deep sense of The Almighty’s mercy and will. The only thing left from the Islamic teaching was a thin fragile shell, and there was nothing back from the Quran except for its’ words, hidden in its’ pages hugged by the book cover that gathered dust in the shelves of every home.  

Yazid’s try to get the accept of Hussein

One of the first steps Yazid took as soon as he got to the throne of the caliphate was to send letters to the various countries’ governors to inform them about his father’s death. Among those governors was al-Walid ibn ‘Utbah, the governor of Medina. In the letter he was asked to take the pledge of allegiance from the people of Medina, and specifically al-Walid had to be tough against Imam Hussein, Abdullah Ibn Umar (son of the second Caliph), Abdul-Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr (the son of the first caliph) and Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr (a cousin of Ayesha, wife of the prophet).

When he required them to give their pledge of allegiance to Yazid, and whoever refused to do this, should be killed and their severed head had to be sent to him.

The orders from Yazid was given to the governor, and should immediately be followed. In the middle of the night, the governor called Imam Hussein and Abdullah ibn Zubayr in order to encourage them to give allegiance to Yazid. He would in fact ensure their allegiance before everyone else. It worried ibn-Zubayr that the governor had sent an invitation at such a late time, but the Hujjah of his time, Imam Hussein (pbuh) of reform, informed ibn Zubayr with a part of the news from the unknown, provided that Muawiayh was dead, and they tried to take the oath of allegiance from them and wanted them to support Yazid.

Although Imam Hussein (pbuh) knew there was a possibility of being murdered during the meeting with the governor, he accepted the invitation. He was prepared. Thirty of the Imam’s supporters and family members were taught to lift the arms, so they were ready to rescue the Imam if something should happen.

The meeting

As the meeting started, the Imam was asked to give allegiance to Yazid. The Imam beautifully said: A man like me does not swear fealty away from people’s eyes. When you invite people to swear it, invite us, too. This way it will be one single matter.”

With his attention directed towards al-Walid the Imam said:“We are members of the household of the Prophet, the substance of the [Divine] Message, and the ones visited by the angels. Allah initiates by us, and so does he conclude. Yazid is a wine drinker, a killer of the prohibitive soul, a man who commits sins in the open.  A man like me does not swear the oath of allegiance to a man like him. But we will see the morning, and so will you; we shall see and so will you as to who among us is more worthy of the caliphate.”

After this phenomenal statement by Imam Hussein (pbuh), al-Walid began to use a crude language against the Imam, and the Imam got attacked and forced out by 19 men.

The wise words of the Imam has a deeper meaning that one should look into. He first introduces himself and then Yazid, and thereafter says:

‘My example [who it utterly submissive to Allāh] cannot give his hand to the like of Yazīd [who is an open sinner]”

In short, he indicates the following:
Premise 1: I am a manifestation of truth.
Premise 2: Yazid is a manifestation of falsehood.
Premise 3: A manifestation of truth cannot unite with a manifestation of falsehood.

Conclusion

Hence I cannot agree to pay the oath of allegiance to him.

The interesting point here is that the Imam does not merely say: “I will not pay the oath of allegiance to Yazid”Rather he says: “anyone like me cannot pay the oath of allegiance to anyone like Yazid.”

In other words, the Imam clarified that truth never unites with falsehood, and that truth will not unite with falsehood.  Therefore, this statement is not a personal issue, but a universal lesson for all times and all places. It is a direction for every truth-seeker and informs the wrongdoers that a truth-seeker will never yield to falsehood.

At the same night, Imam Hussein (pbuh) went to visit his grandfather, the holy Prophet’s grave. According to the narrations, a beam of light emanated from the grave, where the Imam then began to send his greetings and blessings upon the messenger of Allah. He asked the Prophet to testify against them, that they betrayed him and did not protect his rights. The Imam’s sentence before he bowed and knelt until the next morning was “This is my complaint to you till I meet you.”

Posted in: Article Tags: Imam Hussain, Karbala, Yazid
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