Yazid’s Rule

After the death of his father, Yazid took the reins of Islamic leadership in his hands while he was of young age and had not gained any experience by time. According to the unanimity of historians he was fond of comfort, wine, luxury, women and hunting dogs and he was more inclined to committing all sorts of wanton and shameless deeds.

At the time of his father’s death, he was not present in Damascus. He was in an area called Hawarin at-Thaniya busy in hunting.[1] Zahak bin Qais wrote a letter to him condoling him for the death of Muawiyah and congratulated him for having become the caliph. He also asked him to come to Damascus immediately and take over the reins of government.

When Yazid read the letter he immediately set out with his entourage towards the seat of his power. He had thick hair and the dust of the journey settled on his face. He neither wore a turban nor had a sword tied to his waist.

People came forward, saluted him and gave condolence to him while they ridiculed him for his appearance. They remarked: “Is it the same one wearing the cloak that Muawiyah had imposed on the people? The Almighty Allah shall interrogate Muawiyah regarding him.”[2]

Yazid hurried to the grave of his father, wept and recited the following:

“The courier brought such a letter that it punctured my heart.

We said: Woe be to you, what is there in your letter. He replied: The caliph is in the throes of death.”[3]

After that he set out in an official caravan surrounded by the debased characters of Syria, his maternal relatives and other people towards the Green Palace.

First Royal Address

Yazid went to the podium to announce his policies and explain the agenda of his regime.

When he sat in the speaker’s seat he began to tremble and could not say anything. So Zahak bin Qais stood up before him and Yazid cried to him, “What do you want?”

Zahak told him, “Speak to the people and take allegiance from them.” Yazid told him to be seated[4] and himself began to speak, “Praise be to God that He does what He wants and He refrains from whatever He wants. He debases whomsoever He likes and exalts whomsoever He likes. Know that, Amirul Momineen (Muawiyah)  

[1] Al-Futuh 4/265
[2] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 4/168 (Hadith of 6th year)
[3] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 9/45
[4] Tarikh Khulafa, written by anonymous writer published by Akadami Ittehad Shura

was a rope from the ropes of God. As long as He liked, God maintained the connection and whenever He desired, He cut it off. He was lesser than his predecessors and he was better than his successors. I shall not complain to God why he died. Thus if He forgives him, it shall be through His mercy. If He punishes him it would be as a result of his sins. After him I have become entitled to caliphate. Thus I neither seek excuse for my ignorance and nor desire to become knowledgeable. You continue on your way. If God doesn’t like something, He would destroy it and if He likes something, He shall keep it in force…”[1]

In this speech, Yazid did not say anything about his policies and did not mention anything so that the community may always be needful of him in the social and political fields. It was absolutely nothing about which he had thought and planned. Rather he indicated his arrogance, cruelty and his disrespect with regard to the Ummah that neither he regretted ignorance nor committing evils. Rather the people were obliged to submit to his forceful behavior.

Yazid speaks to Syrians

Yazid delivered a speech to people of Syria and inter alia said that he intended to wage a destructive war against the people of Iraq. The speech was as follows:

“O people of Syria! know that! Well-being was continuously in your share. There shall be a terrible battle between me and the people of Iraq. I have seen in a dream that there was flowing a river of blood between me and them. In the dream I tried to cross the river and was not able to do so till Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad came before me and he crossed it as I looked on.”

Syrians voiced their support and encouraged him saying, “O chief of believers, take us wherever you want. And pose us before anyone you like. We are in your service and the people of Iraq have come to know the ferocity of our swords in the battle of Siffeen.”

Yazid accorded thanks to them and praised their sincerity and loyalty towards him.[2] While in gatherings of Syria it had been confirmed that Yazid was preparing to wage a war against Iraq due to their unwillingness to pay allegiance to Yazid and due to the similarity of their views with Imam Husain (‘a).

With the Opponents in Medina

Whenever Yazid saw that an opposition group arose against him he did not rest till he had made concrete plans to have it subdued; that is why the ground was prepared for him, people were made submissive to him and he gained control over all the government machinery. Then what was it that could have restrained him from wreaking havoc on his opponents?

The most important thing that made Yazid worried about his opposition was the existence of His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a) because His Eminence possessed  

[1] Al-Iqdul Farid 4/374-375
[2] Al-Futuh 5/6

an encompassing influence and a lofty status in the view of Muslims. He was the grandson of the bearer of prophethood and the chief of the youths of Paradise. As for the son of Zubair, he did not have as much importance in the view of Yazid.

Emphatic orders to Walid

Yazid issued emphatic orders to his governor in Medina, Walid so that he may compel the opponents to give oath of allegiance for him. He dispatched two letters to Walid. The first letter is reported in two versions:

  1. Khwarizmi has quoted it as follows: “So to say: Muawiyah was one of the servants of God. Whom God exalted and purified for Himself. And He bestowed him power. After that He summoned him to the place of His comfort and the garden of His mercy. He lived according to his destiny and died when his death was destined. He made a will to me and warned me about the family of Abu Turab due to their daring to commit bloodsheds. You, O Walid, know that the Almighty Lord shall take the revenge of the innocent blood of Uthman through the progeny of Abu Sufyan because they are supporters of truth and seekers of justice. Thus when you receive this letter take allegiance from the people of Medina.”[1]

The above letter contained the following salient features:

A. Informing Walid about Muawiyah’s death.

B. Yazid’s fear of family of Prophethood because his father had made a bequest to him to be wary of them and this matter disproves that which is claimed about Muawiyah because therein emphasis is made to respect the position of Imam Husain (‘a).

C. Urgency in taking the allegiance of people of Medina

  1. Balazari has quoted the letter of Yazid to have the following text: “So to say: Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan was a servant of God whom He had accorded honor, made him the caliph, made him powerful and arranged means for him. He died as per destiny and died when his death was fixed. God’s mercy be upon him. Because he lived in righteousness and passed away in piety and goodness. Was Salaam!”[2]

The dominant view is that this narration is correct because he has remained content only with reporting the death of Muawiyah. Instead of making any indication to take allegiance from Imam Husain (‘a) and other opposition groups. However on the basis of the first report the conversation from the below letter that Yazid sent to Walid to force Husain to allegiance would become meaningless.

Secondly: It is a short letter, like the ear of a mouse and three versions are reported:

  1. Tabari and Balazari have reported it. The text of this letter was as follows: “So to say: Husain, Abdullah bin Umar and Abdullah bin Zubair must be dealt with  

[1] Khwarizmi, Maqtal 1/180
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 5/313

force and they should not be allowed anything till they give allegiance. Was Salaam!”[1]

  1. Yaqubi has quoted it as follows: “When this letter reaches you, summon Husain bin Ali and Abdullah bin Zubair and take allegiance from them. If they refuse, strike off their heads and send them to me and take allegiance from the people. Thus if anyone refuses apply the same order to him as applied to Husain bin Ali and Abdullah bin Zubair.”[2]

In the second narration there is no mention of Abdullah bin Umar and it is very much likely that his name was added to the names of Husain bin Ali and Abdullah bin Zubair so that he may be shown to be from opposition group and make him dissociated from open support to Yazid’s allegiance.

  1. Hafiz Ibn Asakir has narrated it in the following manner: “Summon the people and take allegiance from them and begin with the senior persons of Quraish and the first one you begin with is Husain bin Ali because the chief of believers (Muawiyah) had willed me to be kind to him and obtain his view.”[3]

In this report there is no mention of the son of Zubair and son of Umar because in the view of Yazid they had no importance except that we have doubt regarding the matter at the end of this letter from the fact that Muawiyah made a bequest to Yazid to deal kindly with Husain because Muawiyah himself had utmost enmity to all members of Ahle Bayt (‘a) and he had a cruel attitude towards them. He employed all kinds of merciless steps with them as we have already explained in the previous section. Most probably this sentence was added to it in order to free Muawiyah from the responsibility of the evil deeds of his son against the purified progeny.

Here are a matter remains that historians have spoken about this letter on the basis of it being brief and short as the mouse’s ear. Probably the reason it was sent so brief was that Yazid thought that Walid would carry out his commands, that is killing of Husain and Abdullah bin Zubair. It is natural that such a step was going to cause displeasure of the people and he wanted this crime to be attributed to Walid and thus he did not spell out the command of killing them in this letter. If he had to issue an open command he would have written a detailed letter to the effect.

Zareeq, Muawiyah’s slave, took both the letters and moved with speed without any halts till he reached Yathrib.[4] He was accompanied by Abdullah bin Sa’ad bin Abi Sarah. He was wearing a mask so that only his eyes were visible. On the way he was met by Abdullah bin Zubair who held his hand and asked him about  

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/338, Ansaab al-Ashraaf 5/313
[2] Yaqubi, Tarikh, 2/241
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh, 14/170 (Events of year 60)
[4] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 4/170, Tarikh Khalifa Khayyat, Pg. 238. And in Tarikh, Ibne Asakir 14/206 it is mentioned that: Yazid wrote this letter in addition to Abdullah bin Umar to Ibne Idris Aamir and Aamir bin Luwi also.

Muawiyah. however he did not give any reply. Then he said: Has Muawiyah died? But he didn’t accord any response. Abdullah understood that Muawiyah had died and he hurried on and conveyed this information to Imam Husain (‘a).[1] His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a) told him: “I understood that Muawiyah must have died because last night I saw in dream that Muawiyah’s pulpit was ruined and his house was in flames. I interpreted it to myself to indicate his death.”[2]

Zaraaq came to Walid’s house and told the sentry to let him enter. But he was told that Walid had retired into the inner portion and it was not possible to meet him at that time. Zaraaq screamed to him that he had brought a royal command for him. The guard went and informed Walid about the matter and Walid permitted him to enter. Walid was seated on the throne when he read Yazid’s letter about the death of Muawiyah. He became extremely perturbed and distressed. He used to stand up and then throw himself upon his bed.[3]

Walid’s Consternation

Walid became perturbed by the orders of Yazid to suppress the opponents and compel them for allegiance because he was sure that taking allegiance from them wasn’t an easy thing except that they would have to be dealt with an iron hand. And in the way Yazid had ordered him to strike off their head it was something that even Muawiyah in spite of his political power could not accomplish in his lifetime. Then how could Walid do what even Muawiyah was unable to do for obtaining allegiance for Yazid?

Consulting Marwan

Walid became confused and worried in this matter and he realized that he was needful Marwan’s advice, the senior member of Umayyad clan. He summoned him and Marwan arrived dressed in white embroidered garments.[4] Walid told him about Muawiyah’s death and he was shocked. After that Walid told him about Yazid’s order to compel the opponents to give allegiance and to kill them if they refused. He asked Marwan to study this matter and give his advice.

Marwan’s Advice

Marwan expressed his views and told Walid: “Send a messenger to them right now and call them to give allegiance of Yazid and his obedience. If they do it, accept from them and if they refuse, kill them before they receive the news of Muawiyah’s death. Because if they receive this information, each of them would rise up and express their opposition and call people to their obedience. In that case I fear that which shall reach you, and that which you are incapable to bear. Except for Abdullah bin Umar who has no dispute with anyone in this matter…While I know that Husain bin Ali would not agree to give oath of allegiance for Yazid and  

[1] Sharh Nahjul Balagha 20/115-116
[2] Al-Futuh 5/14
[3] Tarikh Khalifa Khayyat 1/232
[4] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 4/170 (Events of year 60)

he shall not agree to obey Yazid in any matter. By Allah, if I had been in your place, I would not exchange a single word with him but would have slashed his neck, no matter what had happened.”

This problem seemed very complex for Walid who was the most cruel and most cunning man of the Umayyad clan. He told Marwan: “Alas, if only Walid had not come into the world and had not been worthy of mention.”

Marwan made fun of him and considered him base. He said, “Do not become perplexed at what I have told you. The Progeny of Abu Talib was, since before, enemies and they are same. They are those who killed the Caliph Uthman bin Affan. After that they went to the chief of the believers (Muawiyah) and waged battle against him.”

Walid screamed at him, “Woe be on you, O Marwan for saying these things. Say better things about the children of Fatima as they are the reminders of Prophethood.”[1]

They agreed to call the two persons and to inform them of the matter and that they may come to know about their agreement with the power of judgment.

Explanation of Marwan’s attitude

Marwan incited Walid to suppress and punish the opponents and especially Imam Husain’s name was emphasized in the matter. Marwan insisted on Walid that in case His Eminence refuses to give oath of allegiance he should be killed. I think the following factors prepared Marwan for this:

  1. Marwan was hostile towards Walid and there was a deep-rooted enmity between the two. He was certain that Walid was a comfort-seeking person and he would not carry out the orders issued to him regarding Imam Husain (‘a). So he made good use of the opportunity and pressurized him to take serious steps against Imam Husain (‘a) so that his attitude may become known to the tyrant of Shaam and that he may not continue to repose any more trust in Walid and dismiss him from the governorship of Medina. This, in fact happened. When Yazid learnt about Walid’s attitude towards Imam Husain (‘a), he was infuriated at him and he removed him from his post.

  2. Marwan was displeased with Muawiyah as he had given the caliphate to his son and deserted Marwan who was a leader of the Umayyad clan and the senior-most member of his family. He wanted Yazid get involved in the killing of the Imam so that as a result of it he would have to wash his hands off the kingdom.

  3. Marwan had deep animosity to Imam Husain (‘a) because His Eminence was the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s), who had beheaded the polytheists of Bani Umayyah, exiled Hakam, his father and cursed his progeny. Marwan’s hatred to the family of prophethood reached to such a level that he prevented the burial of Imam Hasan (‘a) next to the grave of the Holy Prophet (s).  

[1] Al-Futuh 5/11-13

Historians say: He was not fond of Abu Huraira because he used to narrate whatever the Messenger of Allah (s) had said regarding his two beloved grandsons. One day it so happened that Marwan went to visit Abu Huraira while the latter was indisposed. Marwan said, “I have no grudge against you except your fondness for Hasan and Husain (‘a).”

Abu Huraira replied, “I testify that I went out with the Messenger of Allah (s) and His Eminence heard Hasan and Husain crying. He asked what was wrong with his sons and Fatima replied saying that they were thirsty. O Marwan! How can I not be fond of them when I saw from the Messenger of Allah (s) what I saw?”[1]

Marwan instigated Walid to kill Imam Husain (‘a) so that may be he would agree with him and satisfy his soul that was thirsty to see the Purified Progeny persecuted and killed.

  1. Marwan indeed knew that he would become the caliph because Imam Amirul Momineen (‘a), the gate of Prophet’s knowledge had informed him when His Eminence, Hasan and Husain (‘a) had interceded for him after the battle of Siffin. His Eminence had said: There is a kingdom for him like a dog licks his nose. Marwan had accepted it; therefore he incited Walid to kill Imam Husain (‘a) so that it would become a cause for downfall of the kingdom of the family of Abu Sufyan and the turning of the caliphate to Marwan.

These were some of the factors on the basis of which Marwan was motivated to suggest to Walid to kill Imam Husain (‘a) and in this matter there was no sincerity on his part towards Yazid.

Summons for Imam Husain (‘a)

In the middle of the night[2] Walid sent Abdullah bin Amr bin Uthman, a young slave to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and son of Zubair and the reason for choosing this hour was that probably His Eminence, Husain’s support for allegiance for Yazid may be obtained even though it be secretly. He knew that if His Eminence accepts this matter from him he would not break his covenant and not go back on his word.

That young man went to Imam Husain (‘a) and Zubair’s son to summon them to Walid. He found them in the Prophet’s mosque and conveyed the message. They agreed to do so and told him to go back.

Zubair’s son became worried and he asked the Imam, “Do you know why he has called us at an hour he generally does not meet us?”

“I think that the tyrant, Muawiyah has died and he has summoned us to take oath of allegiance from us before the news spreads among the people.”

“I also think that there is no other explanation. What do you want to do?”

[1] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh, 4/208
[2] Al-Bidayah wan Nihayah: 8/147

“I shall gather my young men, go to him and post them at the doorstep.”

“I am worried about you if you choose to do this.”

“I shall go to him alone only if I have the power to refuse.”[1]

The chief of the nobles went to his residence, performed the ritual bath, prayed and supplicated the Lord.[2] After that he ordered the members of his family to take up their weapons and come with him. They obliged at once and accompanied His Eminence. His Eminence ordered them to sit at the doorstep and said: I am going inside. If I call you or you hear me shouting all of you enter immediately.”

Imam (‘a) came to Walid and found Marwan with him though a rift had appeared between them. Thus Imam (‘a) advised them to make peace and leave off hostilities. Making peace was in the very nature of His Eminence even among foes and opponents. So His Eminence told them, “Maintaining amity is better than discord and peace is better than mischief. Now is the time for you to remain united, may the Almighty Allah make peace between you.”[3]

They accorded no reply to His Eminence and a fearful silence descended on them. At that moment the Imam glanced at Walid and asked, “Have you received some news about Muawiyah. Because he was ill and his illness had prolonged. What is his condition now?”

Walid called out in a sorrowful and anxious tone, “May the Almighty Allah reward you for your patience in Muawiyah’s death. He was for you a sincere uncle and now he has tasted death. This is the letter of the chief of believers, Yazid…”

His Eminence, Husain recited the word of Istirjaah[4] and told him, “Why have you called me here?”

“I have called you to pay the oath allegiance.”[5]

Imam (‘a) said: “A person like me does not give allegiance in a secret manner and my allegiance in a secret manner shall not be accepted. When you go out to people to take allegiance, call me also along with them and it shall be the same for all.”

Imam (‘a) requested that the matter should be postponed to the morning next so that a gathering of prominent people is arranged and then the Imam may announce his view condemning the allegiance of Yazid. And that he may call the people to rebel and destroy Yazid’s regime.

According to what historians say Walid was peace-loving and he did not like discord. So he thanked the Imam for what he said and permitted him to return home.  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/14-15
[2] Ad-Darun Nazeem, Pg. 171
[3] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/15
[4] Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihe rajioon
[5] Al-Futuh 5/17

Here the debased and evil Marwan bin Hakam became infuriated and he screamed at Walid, “If this opportunity goes away from you and he does not give you allegiance you will never get a second chance and there shall be greater bloodshed between you. Restrain him and make him give allegiance and if he doesn’t, kill him now!”

The chief of nobles stood up towards the greatest coward, son of a coward and told him, “O son of the blue-eyed woman! Would you kill me or he would? By Allah! You have lied and you have lost courage.”[1]

After that he glanced at Walid and informed him about his determination and decision at not accepting the allegiance of Yazid and said: “O chief, we are Ahle Bayt (‘a) of Prophethood and the mine of messengership. We are the place of coming and going of angels and the place of descent of divine mercy. The Almighty Allah has initiated the creation with us and He shall conclude it with us. Yazid is a transgressor, a drunkard, killer of innocent people and an open sinner. A person like me can never give allegiance to persons like him. However we and you shall see in the morning which of the two of us is more qualified for caliphate.”[2]

This was the first announcement that His Eminence had openly made after the death of Muawiyah regarding the rejection of Yazid’s allegiance that he issued in the palace of the governor without having any fear of reprisal.

Open expression of His Eminence rejecting Yazid’s allegiance shows the determination of His Eminence to prepare himself for a sacrifice that was the beginning of his greatness, superiority and faith. Because His Eminence from the aspect of spiritual heritage and his family background had all human perfections so how he could have accepted Yazid’s allegiance, who was one of the pillars of transgression and sins. If His Eminence had accepted him as a leader of Muslims, he would have taken the life of Islam towards destruction and annihilation, and subjected the religious beliefs to deviation which would have become involved with deep ignorance.

The forceful statement and the truth that the chief of nobles expressed displeased Marwan. Therefore he turned to Walid in anger and denounced him for letting His Eminence go. He said, “You did not listen to me. By God, you will never get such opportunity over him ever.”

Walid had become influenced with the logical discourse of the Imam and it awakened his conscience. Therefore to refute Marwan he said, “Woe be to you. You had suggested to me something which would have involved the destruction of my own faith. By God, I would not want all the worldly wealth and dominion on which the sun rises and sets, (if it involved) killing Husain. Glory be to God, should I kill Husain because he said: “I will not swear allegiance? By God, I do not think on the Judgment Day a man who is responsible for the blood of Husain (will weigh) little in the scales of God.”  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/15
[2] Al-Futuh 5/18-19

Marwan ridiculed him saying, “If this is your opinion, then you have acted correctly in what you did.”[1]

His Eminence, Husain (‘a) decided to leave Medina and go to Mecca to take refuge in the sanctuary of the House of Allah and remain safe from the mischief and oppression of the Umayyads.

Imam Husain (‘a) and Marwan

His Eminence, Husain (‘a) met Marwan on the way the next morning after he had refused allegiance to Yazid. Without any preliminaries Marwan said to His Eminence: “I am your well-wisher, listen to what I say, so that you remain safe.”

“What is that, O Marwan?”

“I suggest you pay allegiance for the chief of believers, Yazid, as there is in it good for your religion and the world.”

Imam (‘a) was much disconcerted and he recited the word of Istirjah (Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihe Raajeoon) and he replied to Marwan’s statement in a most logical manner: “If the community is involved with a ruler like Yazid, farewell to Islam. Woe be on you, O Marwan. Are you advising me to pledge allegiance to Yazid who is a transgressor?

What you say is absolutely inappropriate…I shall not denounce you for what you said because you are such an accursed person that the Messenger of Allah (s) had cursed you when you are in the loins of your father, Hakam bin Aas.”

Imam (‘a) added further, “O enemy of Allah! Get away from me! As we are the Ahle Bayt (‘a) of the Messenger of Allah (s). The truth is between us and our tongues speak the truth. I have heard the Messenger of Allah (s) say: The caliphate is unlawful for the family of Abu Sufyan, the freed prisoners and sons of freed prisoners. And he said: Whenever you see Muawiyah on my pulpit, slit his belly. By Allah, people of Medina saw him on the pulpit of our grandfather and they did not do what they had been commanded...”

The filthy and debased Marwan became angry and he screamed, “By Allah, do not separate from me till you pledge allegiance of Yazid in a submissive way because you, the family of Abu Turab has become full of enmity towards the family of Abu Sufyan. You bear malice to them and they also have the right to consider you as foes.”

The Imam also cried at him, “O filthy man get away from me as I am from the purified Ahle Bayt (‘a) regarding whom the Almighty Allah has revealed the following verse to His Prophet:

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

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/340
[2] Surah Ahzab 33:33

Marwan was unable to bear this and fell into the fire of pain and grief. Then Imam (‘a) told him: “O son of the foreign lady! Glad tidings to you for everything that the Holy Prophet (s) did not like. One day you shall meet your Lord and my grandfather shall interrogate you about my right and right of Yazid.”

Marwan hurried to Walid and informed him about what Imam Husain (‘a) had said.[1]

Walid contacts Damascus

Walid informed Yazid about the position of governor in Medina and told him about Imam Husain's refusal to pledge allegiance to Yazid. He said that His Eminence believed that he could not accord any obedience to Yazid. When Yazid understood this matter he was terribly infuriated.

Strict orders from Damascus

Yazid issued fresh orders to severely compel the people of Medina to pledge allegiance for him and also commanded to Walid that Imam Husain (‘a) be put to death and his severed need be dispatched to him. He wrote as follows: “From the servant of God, Yazid, the chief of believers to Walid bin Uqbah. So to say: When this letter of mine reaches you, once again insist on the people of Medina to pledge allegiance. Leave alone Abdullah bin Zubair, for as long as he lives he cannot escape us. The severed head of Husain bin Ali should accompany your reply. If you do that, reins of horses shall be arranged for you and you shall become eligible for exceeding rewards from me. Was Salaam…”

Non-acceptance of Walid

Walid officially rejected the order of Yazid regarding the killing of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and he said: “No by God! The Almighty Allah shall not see me as the killer of Husain bin Ali…I shall not kill the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s) even if he (Yazid) gives me all the world.”[2]

Yazid’s lettered arrived when Imam Husain (‘a) had already departed for Mecca.

Farewell to the Prophet’s Tomb

On the second night, Imam Husain (‘a) hurried to the side of the grave of his grandfather in a sorrowful and aggrieved demeanor to complain to His Eminence about the atrocities of the oppressors. Imam (‘a) stood by the side of the grave and performed two units of Prayers. He became extremely affected by sentiments and he complained to His Eminence about the hardships and calamities that had befallen him.

“O Allah! This is the grave of your Prophet, Muhammad and I am the son of the daughter of Muhammad and what has befallen us is well known to you. O Allah, I like the good and am disgusted of evil. O one with glory and greatness, by the right  

[1] Al-Futuh 5/23-25
[2] Al-Futuh 5/26

of this grave and by the one who is in it, I ask You to select for me that which shall be the cause of Your pleasure and satisfaction of Your Prophet.”

Imam Husain (‘a) sees his Grandfather in his Dream

Imam Husain (‘a) continued to gaze at the grave of his grandfather while he had become sure that he shall not see it again ever. At that moment he began to weep.

It was not yet dawn when His Eminence fell asleep and he saw his grandfather in dream that he has arrived with an entourage of angels. His Eminence took Imam Husain (‘a) in his arms and kissed him on the forehead, saying: “O my son! As if I can see you in the near future, you shall be killed in Kerbala among a crowd of my community and your head shall be cut off while you shall be thirsty and water shall not be given to you. You will be thirsty but your thirst would not be quenched. Inspite of committing such deed they shall be hopeful of our intercession on the Day of Judgment. For them there shall be no benefit with Allah.

My dear Husain, your father, mother and brother have come to me. They are eager for you. Indeed, for you there are grades in Paradise that except for being martyred you cannot achieve them…”

Imam Husain (‘a) looked at his grandfather for a long time and remembered his kindness and sentiments with regard to him. This made me more eager for him and he picturized the hardships and afflictions caused to him by the Umayyad regime. Because he was offered only two options: to pledge allegiance to the tyrant of Bani Umayyah or be killed. At that moment he created an attachment with his grandfather and told him lamenting: “O my grandfather, I do not wish to remain in the world anymore. Take me with you and keep me in your house.”

The Prophet (s) was moved by this and he told him: “You must go back to the world so that you are given martyrdom and the Almighty Allah has appointed a great reward for you. You, your father and your uncle and the uncle of your father shall be raised up together so that you may enter Paradise.”[1]

His Eminence, Husain (‘a) awoke worried and anxious while waves of grief and sorrow had surrounded him. He was now certain that he shall indeed be granted martyrdom. Then he gathered all his family members and related his dream. On that day, there was no one in the East or West of the world more aggrieved than the members of Ahle Bayt of the Messenger of Allah (s) and no man or woman wept more than them.[2]

Imam Husain’s farewell to the Graves of his mother and brother

In the darkness of the night His Eminence, Husain (‘a) went to the grave of his mother, who was the memory of the Holy Prophet (s) and a part of His Eminence. He stood besides the grave for sometime while he looked at the grave with the last glance of farewell and he recalled her deep attachment and love towards him. He  

[1] Al-Futuh 5/27-29
[2] Al-Awalim, 17/177-178

wished the earth would split and take him to his mother below the dust. Then he wept and bid farewell to the grave. After that he moved to the blessed grave of his brother, His Eminence, Hasan (‘a) and watered the grave with his tears. And he was in that same condition when pain and sorrow had surrounded him. Then he returned home with a heavy sorrowful heart.[1]

Fear of Bani Hashim Ladies

When the Imam (‘a) decided to leave Medina and take refuge in Mecca the ladies of the family of Abdul Muttalib were terrified because they had heard of numerous traditional reports about the imminent tragedy from the Messenger of Allah (s) and thus they all gathered in an atmosphere of sorrow and trepidation.

They began to wail and the sounds of their weeping arose in the surroundings. It was a scene of fear and shock. Imam Husain (‘a) turned to them with a firm determination and said: “By Allah, do not commit an act which is in disobedience of Allah and the Prophet.”

Their hearts became filled with pain and they said: “Why shouldn’t we weep and wail. This day is like the day of the passing away of the Prophet, Ali, Fatima and Hasan… May the Almighty Allah make us sacrificed on you, O beloved of the righteous!”

One of the paternal aunts of His Eminence came towards him while her face was a picture of fear. When she got respite from weeping she used to say: “I have heard a caller saying:

O the one that shall be slain on the land of Taff from the family of Hashim, you have made the necks of Quraish bow down in humility and you have degraded them.”

Imam (‘a) comforted her and advised her patience as he had done with other ladies of Abdul Muttalib’s clan.[2]

With his brother, Ibn Hanafiyah

Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah hastened to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) in a worried state, while his steps moved very fast and due to the intensity of sorrow and grief he could not even see the way properly. When he reached him, he faced His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and said haltingly with sincere words interspersed with weeping:

“O my brother! May I be sacrificed on you. You are the most beloved person to me. By Allah! I don’t advise anything to anyone and no one is more deserving of it than you. You are like my soul and my life. You are the senior-most person of my family. You are one whom I trust and whose obedience is obligatory on me. Because the Almighty Allah has bestowed nobility on you and made you one of the chiefs of the people of Paradise. I wish to offer a goodly advice to you Please accept it from me…”  

[1] Al-Futuh 5/29
[2] Muqarram, Maqtal Hazrat Husain (a.s.) 137-138

Through these statements filled with concern and kindness, Muhammad expressed his love and respect towards his brother. Imam (‘a) looked at him and Muhammad said, “I advise you that as much as possible keep away from the allegiance of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah and places of mischief and discord. After that send messengers to the people. If they give allegiance to you, thank Allah for it. If they begin to support someone else, the Almighty Allah would neither make your faith defective nor your intelligence. There would be no decrease in your respect or merits. I dread that you may reach some town where people create discord. And that one group may support you and another may oppose you. At that time they may fight among themselves and you become the first target of spears. In that case the best of the people with regard to personal merits and nobility of ancestry shall be humiliated…”

Imam Husain (‘a) asked him, “Where should I go?”

“Stay in Mecca and if you get peace there, continue to reside there. If not, turn to deserts and mountains and go from town to town and see where the destiny of the people reaches. In this manner your intention would be best and your job shall be done in a foreseeing way. So much so that the future events and beginning of your mission would not be so difficult that you have to abandon it.”[1]

Imam (‘a) spoke up in such a way that he was absolutely fearless of dangers and with a firm determination informed his rejection of Yazid’s allegiance. “My brother, even if there is no refuge in this world for us, I shall never give allegiance to Yazid Ibn Muawiyah.”

Ibn Hanafiyah began to weep because he had become sure a terrible calamity and tragedies were to strike his brother. The Holy Imam (‘a) comforted him and thanked him for his sincere concern. He told him, “My brother, may Allah reward you for your concern for us and for guiding us to the right way. I have decided to move to Mecca. I and brothers and nephews and our Shias all are in the same position and we all have similar views. But there is no problem if you stay put in Medina and keep an eye on what goes on and keep me informed about it.”[2]

Imam Husain’s bequest to Ibn Hanafiyah

Imam Husain (‘a) wrote a will for his brother, Ibn Hanafiyah in which he mentioned the reasons of his great revolution against Yazid’s rule. After the name of God, the will says:

“This is the will of Husain bin Ali (‘a) to his brother, Muhammad bin Hanafiyah. Husain testifies that except for the One Allah there is no other god and He has no partner. And Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger who has come from Him with truth. And Paradise is truth and fire (Hell) is truth and the Day of Judgment shall indeed come to pass. And the Almighty Allah shall raise all those who are in the graves. I have not taken up arms in order to make merry, or be  

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/341-342
[2] Al-Futuh, Pg. 32

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). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather and father, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (‘a) were doing. One who accepts me with truth, the Almighty Allah is more deserving for truth and one who objects against me, I shall be patient on it. So that the Almighty Allah may judge between me and these people. He is the best of those who judge. This is my bequest for you, O my brother! I have no Tawfeeq except from Allah, that I rely on Him and that I shall return to Him only.”[1]

It was due to these lofty aims that the Imam began his everlasting revolution, because His Eminence did not take up arms to make merry or to be ecstatic over what he had. There was no personal gain in it for him or his family. Rather he had risen to oppose the tyrannical and oppressive regime. He wanted to establish the lofty foundations of justice among the people. And what a great statement His eminence has issued:

“Thus one who accepts me with truth, the Almighty Allah is by truth more deserving. And one who opposes me, I shall be patient upon it till the time Allah judges between me and those people as He is the best of those who judge.”

In this way the Holy Imam (‘a) described and explained the philosophy of his uprising. That it was for the establishment of truth and to destroy falsehood. His Eminence called the community by truth that they should gather around him to support their rights and regain their honor and respect that were being trampled upon and destroyed by the Umayyads. If the people do not heed his call he was prepared to be patient and determined to continue his mission single-handed till the time the Almighty Allah would dispense justice between him and the people. And in this way he was prepared to act on the examples of his grandfather and father and not on the method of any other Caliph.

This document mentions the most important factors and causes underlying the mission of Imam Husain (‘a) and we shall refer to these in our discussion in the coming pages.

After making out and sending his will to his brother, Muhammad, His Eminence started his journey to Mecca in order to meet the pilgrims to the House of Allah and make them aware of the conditions of that time in the country and to warn them of the calamities and dangers that had beset the community during the tyrannical regime of Yazid.

Before leaving Medina for Mecca, Imam (‘a) came to the tomb of his grandfather in the Prophet’s mosque so that he may bid it farewell for the last time. He entered the Prophet’s mosque and glanced at the Mihrab and the pulpit of his grandfather. He recalled the care and love of his grandfather that he had showered upon him in his childhood. Because he had not forgotten the kind emotions that he had  

[1] Al-Futuh: 33-34, Khwarizmi, Maqtal 1/188-189

experienced during his early years. Especially the saying of the Messenger of Allah (s) that: “Husain is from me and I am from Husain. May Allah love all those who love Husain. Husain is a grandson of mine…”[1]

Imam (‘a) reminisced how the Messenger of Allah (s) had presented and inculcated into him the lofty values and fine humanistic qualities that he himself possessed. Imam Husain (‘a) was aware that this concern was not only because he was the grandson of the Prophet. It was aimed at something else and the Messenger of Allah (s) was knowing of some future events that would necessitate that Imam Husain (‘a) take up the mission to save the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s) and the principles he had established. Imam (‘a) had made a firm determination that he would have to present that great sacrifice in order to save Islam from those destructive hands…

Historians say: His Eminence came to the mosque with his family members while he took support of two persons. He was reciting the composition of Mufragh:

“Neither I harass the birds at the time of daybreak nor should Yazid call me when I launch my attack.

On the day when I see that I am forced to humiliation and when death is waiting for me.”[2]

Abu Saeed says, “When I heard these two lines I realized that His Eminence was not quoting that couplet as an example except for the firm intention that he had made. Thus not much time passed when I learnt that His Eminence had left for Mecca.”[3]

Imam had decided to indeed sacrifice his life in order to change the flow of life and to exalt the word of God and goodly opinion in the earth.

However when the people of Medina, the cradle of the Prophet’s mission, learnt about the departure of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) they were filled with shock and grief because they were now certain that they would suffer a terrible loss as the ray of the light of prophethood that used to illuminate their life was going away from them. The respectable companions of the Messenger of Allah (s) who at the time resided in Medina were aggrieved because in Imam Husain (‘a) they had always viewed the continuity of the image of the Holy Prophet (s). Which had released them from their life of roaming the deserts.  

[1] Tirmidhi, Sunan: 5/658 Tr. No. 3775, Ibne Majah, Sunan 1/51, Tr. 144, Al-Awalim 17/33-34, Chapter 1/ TR. No. 1-4
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/17
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/204, Tabari, Tarikh 5/342