Yazid Becomes Ruler
Upon Mu'awiya's death,Yazid , 30 years old, managed to impose himself on the people and become the Khalifa. At first people refused to accept him as a representative of the Prophet (S) and Islamic Ummah, butYazid approached people in mosques for their favors. Like his father Mu'awiya,Yazid used all possible means like bribery, coercion, pressure, threats, and force to receive the people's acceptance of him as the legitimate ruler.
Many people were worried, threats to their lives and livelihood was too menacing, so they grudgingly and reluctantly gave in. But,Imam Husayn (a.s.) and his family (who practiced Islam in its true sense), did not give in. As the true representative of Prophet Muhammad (S), Al-Husayn flatly refused acceptingYazid either as a Khalifa or a leader of Islam. DespiteYazid 's intimidating military power the Imam stood firm in his resolve and chose to challenge Bani Umayya's authorities.
Yazid commissioned Waleed Ibn Ut'ba, his Governor over Medina, to ask forImam Husayn's allegiance of loyalty or else upon refusal, his head. Waleed invited Al-Husayn to a meeting for the purpose.Imam Husayn did not give his word at the meeting and decided to leave Medina along with his family to proceed to Mecca. When Al-Husayn reached Mecca he received 12,000 letters from Kufa urging him to go to Kufa to be their leader, and be the Khalifa. Imam sent an emissary, his cousin Muslim Ibn Aqeel, to Kufa to ascertain first-hand information about the situation in Iraq.
In the meantimeYazid spread a network of informants and secret agents in Mecca to assassinate the Imam during pilgrimage. Imam learned about the spies, and carefully evaluated the situation in Mecca.Imam Husayn knew thatYazid son of Mu'awiya had no regard for Islamic values and teachings, that he would do anything to enforce his tyrannical rule.
Imam Husayn also knew that giving allegiance of loyalty to an imposter likeYazid would certainly place Islam at great jeopardy. Therefore he decided to leave Mecca for Kufa to prepare for a confrontation withYazid and his forces.
Many friends and relatives urgedImam Husayn not to go to Kufa, but he insisted on going.Imam Husayn , along with family, friends, and companions began the journey toward Kufa (1,100 miles) in a long caravan in the blistering heat of summer.