The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts


Author(s): ‘Ali Asghar Ridwani

Translator(s): Kelvin Lembani (Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz)

Publisher(s): ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

Category: Imam al-Husayn and Karbala

Topic Tags: Muharram Ashura Karbala Miscellaneous information: nbsp;Author: ‘Ali Asghar Ridwani

Translator: Kelvin Lembani (Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz)

Prepared by: Translation Unit, Cultural Affairs Department; The Ahl al-Bayt (as) World Assembly

Editor: Ashraf Carol Eastman

Proofreader: Majid Karimi

Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

First Printing: 2010

Printed by: Layla Press

Copies: 5,000

© The Ahl al-Bayt (as) World Assembly (ABWA)

Featured Category: Responses to Misconceptions Shi 039;a beliefs explained

Person Tags: Imam Husayn (a)


A detailed account of the life of Imam Husayn (a) and his personality, the tragedy of Karbala and the sacrifice of the Imam (a) and his companions, and a detailed analysis of Shi’i behaviours, like mourning and crying to refute the doubts of being un-Islamic.


In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful

The invaluable legacy of the Household [Ahl al-Bayt] of the Prophet (may peace be upon them all), as preserved by their followers, is a comprehensive school of thought that embraces all branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has produced many brilliant scholars who have drawn inspiration from this rich and pure resource.

It has given many scholars to the Muslim ummah who, following in the footsteps of Imams of the Prophet’s Household (as), have done their best to clear up the doubts raised by various creeds and currents within and without Muslim society and to answer their questions. Throughout the past centuries, they have given well-reasoned answers and clarifications concerning these

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questions and doubts.

To meet the responsibilities assigned to it, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly (ABWA) has embarked on a defence of the sanctity of the Islamic message and its verities, often obscured by the partisans of various sects and creeds as well as by currents hostile to Islam. The Assembly follows in the footsteps of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and the disciples of their school of thought in its readiness to confront these challenges and tries to be on the frontline in consonance with the demands of every age.

The arguments contained in the works of the scholars belonging to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) are of unique significance. That is because they are based on genuine scholarship and appeal to reason, and avoid prejudice and bias. These arguments address scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and wholesome human nature.

To assist the seekers of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly has endeavored to present a new phase of these arguments contained in the studies and translations of the works of contemporary Shi‘ah writers and those who have embraced this sublime school of thought through divine blessing.

The Assembly is also engaged in edition and publication of the valuable works of leading Shi‘ah scholars of earlier ages to assist the seekers of the truth in discovering the truths which the School of the Prophet’s Household (as) has offered to the entire world.

The Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly looks forward to benefit from the opinions of the readers

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and their suggestions and constructive criticism in this area.

We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the genuine Islamic teachings as preached by the Prophet Muhammad (S).

We beseech God, the Most High, to accept our humble efforts and to enable us to enhance them under the auspices of Imam al-Mahdi, His vicegerent on the earth (may Allah expedite his advent).

We express our gratitude to Mr. ‘Ali Asghar Ridwani, the author of the present book, and Mr. Kelvin Lembani (Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz), its translator. We also thank our colleagues who have participated in producing this work, especially the staff of the Translation Office.

Cultural Affairs Department

The Ahl al-Bayt (as) World Assembly

Imam al-Husayn’s Personality

Imam al-Husayn (as) in Sunni Books

With recourse to Sunni books of tradition [hadith] and biography, it can be seen that most Sunni scholars hold Imam al-Husayn (as) in great esteem and high respect.

We will now refer to certain parts of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) history according to narratives which have been recorded in Sunni books of hadith.

Imam al-Husayn’s (as) birth

1. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr writes, “Al-Husayn (as) is the son of ‘Ali ibn Abu Ṭalib (as) and Fatimah (as), the Prophet’s (S) daughter. His nickname is Aba ‘Abd Allah. He was born on the 5th of Sha‘ban in either the third or fourth year of the Islamic calendar [hijrah]. This is the popular opinion which is held by a majority of his companions.”(1)

2. It is thus recounted in the book entitled, “Akhbar al-Duwal”, “When al-Husayn was born, the Prophet (S) was informed about this

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1- Al-Isti‘ab, vol. 1, p. 143.

happy occasion. He came to al-Zahra’s (as) house, requested to see al-Husayn (as) and held him in his arms.

The Prophet (S) recited first the adhan (the call to prayer) in the newborn’s right ear and next the iqamah (the prelude to prayer) in his left ear. The Archangel Gabriel [Jibra’il] appeared to the Noble Prophet (S) and brought Allah’s orders that the newborn child should be named al-Husayn (as). This was an exact repetition of what had earlier taken place when al-Hasan (as) was born.”(1)

3. Sibṭ ibn al-Jawzi says, “His nickname is Aba ‘Abd Allah. He was also endowed with the titles Sayyid Wafiyy, Waliyy, Sibṭ, and the Martyr [shahid] of Karbala.”(2)

Imam al-Husayn’s (as) acts of worship

1. Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih recounts that it was asked of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (as), “Why are your father’s progeny few?” The Imam (as) answered, “I am surprised at how he managed to sire children at all because he was constantly engaged in prayer every day and night. He used to perform a thousand units [rak‘ahs] of prayer per day. How could he find free time for women?”(3)

2. Ibn Ṣabbagh Maliki narrates, “Whenever al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) was in a state of prayer, his color would turn pale.” They asked him, “What is this state which arises in you whenever you stand in prayer?” The Imam (as) replied, “You do not comprehend He whom I stand before.”(4)

3. Zamakhshari recounts that some people saw al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) performing the circumambulation of the Ka‘bah [tawaf]. When he came to the station

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1- Akhbar al-Duwal wa Athar al-Awwal, p. 107.
2- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 232.
3- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 220.
4- Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 183.

of Ishmael [Isma‘il], he said his prayers. After praying, he put his face on the station of Ishmael and began weeping and said, “Your humble slave is at the doorstep of your house! Your humble servant is at your doorstep! A destitute is at your doorstep!”

For a long time, he kept repeating these statements. After a while, as he was leaving that place, his sight fell upon some poor people eating crumbs and pieces of bread. Imam al-Husayn (as) went over to them and greeted them with the ceremonial Islamic greeting of ‘salam’. They answered his greeting and invited him to their meal. He sat with them but did not partake of their food. He said, “If your food had not been from charity [sadaqah], I would have partaken of it.” He said to them, “Arise and come with me to my house.” When they arrived at his house, Imam al-Husayn (as) provided them with food and clothes.(1)

4. It has been narrated that ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr said, “Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) performed the hajj twenty five times on foot, despite being accompanied by his fine and noble horses.”(2)

6. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr says, “Al-Husayn (as) was a highly scholarly and religious man. He performed prayer, fasting and hajj a lot.”(3)

8. On his own chain of transmission [sanad], Tabari narrates that Ḍaḥḥak ibn ‘Abd Allah Mashriqi said, “When darkness fell at Karbala, al-Husayn (as) and his companions spent the whole night praying, seeking forgiveness, supplicating and entreating Allah…”(4)

Imam al-Husayn’s (as) forbearance

1. It

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1- Rabi‘ al-Abrar, p. 210.
2- Sifat al-Safwah, vol. 1, p. 321; Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 3, p. 20, Egyptian print.
3- Al-Isti‘ab, vol. 1, p. 393.
4- Tarikh Ṭabari, vol. 5, p. 421.

has been recounted that Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (as) said, “Al-Husayn used to say, ‘If someone vilifies me in my right ear and then apologizes for it in my left ear, I will surely accept his apology because I heard Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib (as) narrate a hadith from my grandfather the Prophet of Allah (S) that,(1)

لا یرد الحوض من لم یقبل العذر من محقّ او مبطل.

The one who does not accept apologies, whether the apology is true or not, will not pass the pond [hawd] of al-Kawthar’.”

2. It has been recounted that one of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) slaves had committed an offence that required discipline. The Imam (as) ordered that the slave should be punished for the offence. The slave implored Imam al-Husayn’s forgiveness. He appealed to the Imam (as) by quoting verses of the Holy Qur’an. He said, “O my master! God, the Exalted, has revealed: ‘And those who restrain their anger’.”(2)

Imam al-Husayn (as) replied, “Let him go. I have restrained my anger.” The slave continued, “And pardon men.” The Imam (as) said, “I have pardoned you.” The slave further implored, “And Allah loves the doers of good.” The Imam (as) said, “You are freed in the way of Allah.” After this, Imam al-Husayn (as) gave orders that a gracious and handsome gift should be given to the freed slave.(3)

Imam al-Husayn’s (as) virtues in the words of the Prophet (S)

1. On his own chain of transmission [sanad], Bukhari quotes Na‘im saying, “Ibn Umar was asked, ‘What is the verdict of a muḥrim (a person visiting the

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1- Zarandi, Naẓm Durar al-Samṭayn, p. 209.
2- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:134.
3- Haḍrami, Wasilah al-Ma’al, p. 183.

holy and inviolable House of Allah) who kills a fly?’ Ibn ‘Umar answered, ‘The people of Iraq are more concerned to ask about killing flies ignoring the fact that they killed the son of the Prophet’s daughter (as).’ Then he added, ‘The Noble Prophet (S) has said, ‘Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are my sweet smelling flowers in this world’.”(1)

2. On his own chain of transmission, al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi recounts that, “Salman Farsi said, ‘Allah’s Prophet (S) used to say,

«الحسن والحسین إبنای، من أحبّهما احبّنی، ومن أحبّنی أحبّه الله، ومن أحبّه الله أدخله الجنه، ومن أبغضهما أبغضنی، ومن أبغضنی أبغضه الله، ومن أبغضه الله أدخله النار.»

‘Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are my two children. Whoever loves them has in fact loved me. Whoever loves me is loved by Allah and whoever is loved by Allah will enter Paradise. Anyone who hates these two has in fact hated me. Anyone who hates me is hated by Allah, and whoever is hated by Allah will be cast into the hell fire.’’”(2)

3. Also on his own chain of transmission, al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi has narrated that, “Ibn ‘Umar said, ‘The Prophet of Allah (S) said,

«الحسن والحسین سیدا شباب أهل الجنه وأبوهما خیرٌ منهما.»

‘Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the chiefs of the youths of Paradise, and their father is better than these two.’’”(3)

4. On his own chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi quotes from Yusuf ibn Ibrahim from Anas ibn Malik, “The Prophet (S) was asked about whom among the Ahl al-Bayt (as) was more beloved to him. He answered, ‘Al-Hasan and al-Husayn.’ The

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1- Ṣaḥiḥ Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 33, the Book [kitab] on Fada’il al-Sahabah (Virtues of the Companions, the Section [bab] on Manaqib al-Hasan wa al-Husayn (The Virtues of al-Ḥasan and al-Husayn).
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 166.
3- Ibid., p. 167.

Prophet (S) always used to tell Fatimah (as), ‘Bring my two children to me.’ He would then press them against his chest and smell their sweet scent.”(1)

5. Ya‘la ibn Marrah says, “The Holy Prophet (S) and I left the house to attend a social gathering we had been invited to. Along the way, the Prophet (S) caught sight of al-Husayn (as). He was busy playing. Allah’s Prophet (S) quickly went to al-Husayn (as) and spread his arms wide open in order to embrace him, but al-Husayn (as) teasingly kept running from side to side in a playful manner. Both of them started laughing. Finally, the Prophet (S) managed to catch al-Husayn (as).

He put one of his hands under al-Husayn’s (as) chin and the other one on his head. Finally, they embraced and kissed each other. The Prophet (S) then said,

حسین منّی وأنا منه، أحبّ الله من أحبّه، الحسن والحسین سبطان من الأسباط.

‘Al-Husayn is from me and I am from al-Husayn. Allah loves whoever loves al-Husayn. Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are two of my grandchildren’.”(2)

We interpret the sentence ‘Al-Husayn is from me and I am from al-Husayn,’ as follows:

a) The first part of the hadith which says, ‘Al-Husayn is from me,’ means that al-Husayn (as) descends from and is a product of the Prophet of Allah (S). Although his biological father is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), the explicit wording of the Qur’anic Verse of Mubahilah clearly states that Imam ‘Ali (as) is a part of the soul of Allah’s Prophet. For

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1- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 323, no. 3861.
2- Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 22, p. 274; Al-Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 13, p. 662; Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 14, p. 150.

this reason, Imam al-Husayn (as) is rightly considered as the Prophet’s (S) child.

b) Commenting on the second part of the hadith which says, ‘And I am from al-Husayn,’ it can be said, after proclaiming his prophetic mission, the Noble Prophet (S) cannot be regarded as an ordinary person anymore. On the contrary, he is looked upon as a man with a divine mission. Allah’s Prophet (S) is the epitome of the prophetic mission. His life is his prophetic mission and his prophetic mission is his life.

c) Also, we all know that every father makes an effort to have a child who will succeed him, defend his father’s character, and protect and revive his mission. The child is the one who is charged with the duty of continuing his father’s way. Regarding Imam al-Husayn (as), the reason why the Holy Prophet (S) says, ‘I am from al-Husayn,’ is that al-Husayn’s (as) uprising and martyrdom kept alive the mission of the Holy Prophet (S).

For this reason, the Holy Prophet (S) conferred the dignity of ‘I am from al-Husayn,’ on him. This implies that the continuity of the prophetic mission depends on al-Husayn (as). It is for this reason that it has been said, “Islam transpired through Muhammad (S) and survived through al-Husayn (as).”

6. Yazid ibn Abi Yazid says, “Fatimah’s (as) house was located along the Prophet’s way from ‘A’ishah’s house. One day, as the Prophet (S) was leaving ‘A’ishah’s house, he heard al-Husayn (as) crying. The Noble Prophet (S) said, ‘O

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Fatimah! Do you not know that I am bothered and pained when I hear him crying?’”(1)

7. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi recounts that he personally heard Abu Hurairah saying, “I saw Allah’s Prophet embracing al-Husayn. He kept saying, ‘O my Allah! I love him. Love him too!’”(2)

Al-Husayn (as) as described by the Prophet’s (S) companions

1. Anas ibn Malik recounts, “After the martyrdom of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as), they brought his severed head to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. Ibn Ziyad started hitting Imam al-Husayn’s (as) teeth with a piece of wood. I was thinking to myself, ‘What an ugly and distasteful act he is doing! I saw with my own eyes Allah’s Prophet (S) kissing that same place which he is now hitting’.”(3)

2. Zayd ibn Arqam says, “I was sitting in the presence of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad when they brought Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head for him. Ibn Ziyad lifted his staff and hit between the lips of Imam al-Husayn (as). I said to him, ‘You are hitting your staff at a place that was constantly kissed by Allah’s Prophet (S).’ Ibn Ziyad said to me, ‘Arise and leave! You are just an old man who has lost his mind’.”(4)

3. Isma‘il ibn Raja’ narrates that his father said, “I was sitting in the Prophet’s (S) Mosque together with a number of people. Among them were Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri and ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar. Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) passed and greeted all of us gathered there. Everyone responded to his greeting except ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar. He remained quiet for some time waiting

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1- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 201.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 177.
3- Dhakha’ir al-‘Uqba, p. 126.
4- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 7, p. 110; Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 2, p. 21.

for everyone to finish responding and become silent.

After everyone became quiet, and there was no longer any noise to interrupt him, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar raised his voice very high and said, ‘May God’s peace and blessings be upon you!’ [wa ‘alayka salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh!] After that, he turned towards the people and asked, ‘Do you want me to inform you about a man from among the inhabitants of the earth who is the most beloved of the inhabitants of the heavens?’

The people answered, ‘Yes!’ ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar said, ‘In the heavens, the most beloved man is that Hashimite man who just passed by us. He has not talked to me since the Battle of Siffin. If he forgives me, it is far better for me than a host of fine red camels’.”(1)

4. Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah Ansari says, “Whoever wants to catch a glimpse of the dwellers of paradise should look at al-Husayn (as), because I heard that the Holy Prophet (S) used to inform people to do this.”(2)

In his book entitled “Majma‘ al-Zawa’id”, Haythami has also narrated this same hadith. At the end he adds, “The narrators of this hadith are all classified and categorized among the truthful reporters of hadith, except Rabi‘ ibn Sa‘d, who is classified among the very trustworthy and reliable.”(3)

5. ‘Umar ibn Khattab addressed Imam al-Husayn (as) in this way, “That which has sprung up and grown over our heads (i.e. Islam) was done through you the people of the Prophet’s

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1- Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 3, p. 5.
2- Zarandi, Naẓm Durar al-Samṭayn, p. 208; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 225.
3- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 187.

(S) Household (i.e. the Ahl al-Bayt).”(1)

6. It has been recounted that, “‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas held the straps of Imam al-Hasan’s and Imam al-Husayn’s (as) horse. Some people rebuked him for doing so. They said, ‘You are older than these two. It is not befitting of you to hold the straps of their horse.’ Ibn ‘Abbas answered, ‘These two are the Holy Prophet’s (S) children. Is it not equal to prosperity for me to hold the straps of their horse?’”(2)

Imam al-Husayn (as) in the words of the tabi‘in

Imam al-Husayn (as) in the words of the tabi‘in(3)

1. Mu‘awiyah said to ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja‘far, “You are the chief of Bani Hashim!” ‘Abd Allah replied, “The chiefs of Bani Hashim are al-Hasan and al-Husayn (as).”(4)

2. When Marwan ibn Hakam suggested killing Imam al-Husayn (as) to the general governor of Medina, Walid ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Sufyan, he answered, “I swear to Allah, O Marwan! I would not desire to own the world and all its possessions as long as my conscience knows that I bear the responsibility of killing al-Husayn (as). Praise Allah! Should I kill al-Husayn (as) just because he has refused to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah? I am certain that on the Day of Judgement, the bad works of the person that kills al-Husayn (as) will outweigh his good works.”(5)

3. Ibrahim Nakha‘i says, “If I were one of al-Husayn’s (as) killers and still managed to enter Paradise in one way or another, I would be ashamed and embarrassed to look upon the face

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1- Al-Iṣabah, vol. 1, p. 333.
2- Al-Iṣabah, vol. 1, p. 333.
3- After the death of the Holy Prophet (s), there came a generation called the tabi‘in. This generation did not personally meet or see the Holy Prophet (s), but they met his companions.
4- Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (as), Kamil Sulayman, p. 173.
5- Ibid., p. 147.

of Allah’s Prophet (S).”(1)

Imam al-Husayn (as) from the viewpoint of Sunni scholars


Upon referral to Sunni books of history and biography, we can see that Imam al-Husayn (as) is held in high esteem and praise by a number of Sunni scholars including:

1. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani

“Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) is a Hashimite, popularly known as Abu ‘Abd Allah, a native of Medina, and the grandson of Allah’s Prophet (S). He was the Holy Prophet’s flower in this world and one of the two chiefs of the youths of Paradise.”(2)

2. Zarandi Hanafi

“Al-Husayn (as) prayed, fasted, went on pilgrimage to Mecca and performed other acts of worship a great deal. He was a very generous and noble man. He went to the hajj twenty five times on foot.”(3)

3. Yafi‘i

“Abu ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Ali (as) was the Holy Prophet’s (S) flower and grandchild. He was the epitome of the prophetic mission, the summation of high moral values and the venue of noble virtues…”(4)

4. Ibn Sirin

“The sky has never wept again since the martyrdom of Yahya ibn Zakariyya (John the Baptist), save when it wept for al-Husayn (as). When al-Husayn (as) was killed, the sky turned black and the stars came out. The stars could be seen shining during the day to such an extent that the Gemini Star (the Twins) appeared in the sky at noontime! Red soil fell from the sky and the sky looked like congealed red blood for seven days.”(5)

5. ‘Abbas Mahmud ‘Aqqad

“Courage is a characteristic that is not alien to al-Husayn (as). It is a quality that arises from the source of all virtues (the Noble Prophet).

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1- Al-Isabah, vol. 1, p. 335.
2- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 299.
3- Nazm Durar al-Samtayn, p. 208.
4- Mir’at al-Jinan, vol 1, p. 131.
5- Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 4, p. 339.

Al-Husayn (as) inherited this perfect attribute from his ancestors and later passed it on to his progeny. In the entire history of humankind, no one has been found to be braver than al-Husayn (as).

Among all the children of Adam, no one has undertaken a braver action than the measure al-Husayn (as) undertook at Karbala. I will not go into all the details but suffice it to say that the honor of being a martyr, the son of a martyr and the father of martyrs is reserved only for him in the entire history of mankind, and will remain so for hundreds of years to come…”(1)

6. Doctor Muhammad ‘Abduh Yamani

“Al-Husayn (as) was a devoted and humble man. People always witnessed him fasting. He used to stay awake at night worshiping and always took precedence in helping and granting favors to others…”(2)

7. ‘Umar Rida Kahalah

“Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) was the greatest among the people of Iraq in Islamic law, spiritual states, generosity and munificence.”(3)

The martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn


Suyuti recounts, “His martyrdom and death occurred on the day of ‘Ashura. On that day, the sun was obscured and the horizons remained red for the next six months. This redness, which had never been seen before his martyrdom, was then seen on a daily basis. It has been narrated that on the day of ‘Ashura every stone that was upturned in Bayt al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem) contained red blood under it.”(4)

Imam al-Husayn (as), the Leader of the Youths of Paradise

One of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn’s (as) exclusive virtues, according to authentic hadiths, which have been transmitted by both Sunnis and Shi‘ahs from

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1- Abu al-Shuhada’, p. 195.
2- ‘Allimu Awladakum Mahabbata Al-i Bayt-i al-Nabi (as), p. 133.
3- A‘lam al-Nisa’, vol. 1, p. 28.
4- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 160.

the Holy Prophet (S), is that these two are the leaders and masters of the youths of Paradise. This honor has not been granted to anyone except these two people.

Let us now examine and deliberate upon these hadiths.



It has been recorded that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two masters and leaders of the youths of paradise.” This tradition has reached high fame and reputation and is classified among the firmly established hadith related in successive chains. Now, let us refer to and discuss the various versions of the hadith that have been recounted:

1. On his own chain of transmission [sanad], Khatib Baghdadi recounts that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) saying,

الحسن والحسین سیدا شباب أهل الجنه، وأبوهما خیر منهما.

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the masters of the youths of Paradise and their father is better than these two.”(1)

2. On his own chain of transmission, Muttaqi al-Hindi recounts that Imam ‘Ali (as) narrated that the Holy Prophet (S) said to Fatimah (as),

ألا ترضین أن تکونی سیده نساء أهل الجنه، وأبناک سیدی شباب اهل الجنه.

“Will you not be pleased that you will be the chief of the women of Paradise and your two children will be the chiefs of the youths of Paradise?”(2)

3. On his own chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir recounts that Ibn ‘Abbas quoted the Holy Prophet (S) saying,

الحسن والحسین سیدا شباب اهل الجنه، من أحبهما فقد أحبّنی ومن أبغضهما فقد أبغضنی.

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are both chiefs of the youths of Paradise. Anyone

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1- Tarikh-e Baghdad, vol. 1, p. 140; Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 167.
2- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 16, p. 281.

who loves them, surely loves me, and anyone who hates them, surely hates me.”(1)

Others who have narrated and recorded this hadith are listed in the following two groups:

A) The Prophet’s companions

This hadith has been recounted by many of the Prophet’s (S) companions including:

1. Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

2. Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as)

3. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas

4. Abu Bakr ibn Abi Qahafah

5. ‘Umar ibn Khattab

6. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar

7. Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah Ansari

8. ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud

9. Hudhayfah ibn Yaman

10. Jahm

11. Malik ibn Huwayrith Laythi

12. Qurrah ibn Ayas

13. Usamah ibn Zayd

14. Anas ibn Malik

15. Abu Hurayrah Dusi

16. Abu Sa‘id Khudri

17. Bara’ ibn ‘Azib

18. ‘Ali Hilali

19. Abu Ramathah

20. Buraydah

B) The Sunni ‘Ulama’

Many Sunni scholars have also recorded and narrated this noble hadith. Among them are the following:

1. Khatib Baghdadi(2)

2. Ibn ‘Asakir(3)

3. Tabarani(4)

4. Muttaqi al-Hindi(5)

5. Muhibb al-Din Tabari(6)

6. Haythami(7)

7. Abu Na‘im Isfahani(8)

8. Ibn Hammad Hanbali(9)

9. Waki‘(10)

10. Ibn Majah(11)

11. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi (12)

12. Ganji Shafi‘i(13)

13. Al-Tirmidhi(14)

14. Ahmad ibn Hanbal(15)

15. Dhahabi(16)

16. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani(17)

17. Baghawi(18)

18. Abu al-Qasim Sahmi(19)

19. Nahbani(20)

20. Ibn Hajar Haythami(21)

21. Suyuti (22)

22. Daylami(23)

23. Ibn Abi Shaybah(24)

24. Nassa’i(25)

25. Ibn Hibban(26)

26. Sam‘ani(27)

27. Suyuti(28)

28. Al-Mannawi(29)

29. Al-Albani(30)

Stipulation of the correctness and authenticity of this hadith

A number of Sunni scholars of hadith have stipulated and confirmed the correctness of this hadith:

1. Hafiz al-Ganji al-Shafi‘i says, “This hadith is healthy [hasan] and founded [thabit]…”(31)

2. Abu al-Qasim Tabarani, the leader of Sunni scholars of hadith, has related the chain of transmission of this hadith in his “Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir”. At the same time, he comments on the spiritual state and position of Imam al-Husayn (as). He attributes this hadith to a number

p: 16

1- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, p. 45.
2- Tarikh-e Baghdad, vol. 1, p. 140.
3- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, p. 41.
4- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 3, pp. 35-36.
5- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 13, p. 97.
6- Dhakha’ir al-‘Uqba, p. 129.
7- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 182.
8- Hiliat al-Awliya’, vol. 4, p. 139.
9- Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 85.
10- Akhbar al-Qudat, vol. 2, p. 200.
11- Sunan ibn Majah, vol. 1, p. 44.
12- Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 167.
13- Al-Kifayat al-Talib, p. 341.
14- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 660.
15- Al-Musnad, vol. 5, pp. 391-392.
16- Tarikh al-Islam (The History of Islam), vol. 2, p. 90; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 168.
17- Al-Isabah, vol. 1, p. 256.
18- Mu‘jam al-Sahabah, p. 22.
19- Tarikh Jurjan, p. 395.
20- Al-Fath al-Kabir, vol. 2, p. 80.
21- Al-Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah, p. 114.
22- Al-Jami‘ al-Saghir, vol. 1, p. 379.
23- Firdaws al-Akhbar, vol. 5, p. 76.
24- Al-Musannaf, vol. 12, p. 96.
25- Al-Khasa’is, p. 36.
26- Ibn Hibban, Al-Sahih, vol. 15, p. 413.
27- Al-Ansab, vol. 3, p. 477.
28- Al-Jami‘ al-Saghir.
29- Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 3, p. 550.
30- Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, vol. 2, p. 424.
31- Kifayat al-Talib, p. 341.

of the Prophet’s companions [sahabah] and names all of them… After that, he adds, “The close and strong connection of these chains of transmission to one another is enough to prove the correctness and authenticity of this hadith.”(1)

3. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi says, “This hadith, including the part which says ‘and their father is better than these two’, is correct according to the conditions of the two shaykhs (i.e. Bukhari and Muslim), but they did not collect it.”(2) Following this hadith, al-Neyshaburi states, “This is a hadith which can be authenticated in many ways, and I am surprised why these two did not narrate it.”(3)

4. Dhahabi says, “This hadith is authentic [sahih].”(4)

5. Al-Tirmidhi says, “This hadith is noble and sound [hasan] but has been isolated and abandoned [gharib].”(5) Al-Tirmidhi also narrated this hadith on a different chain of transmission and adds a footnote at the end saying, “This hadith is sound and correct.”(6)

6. Al-Albani has approved the authentication done by al-Tirmidhi. He says, “The truth of the matter is what has been reported by al-Tirmidhi.”(7)

Al-Tirmidhi says, “The chains of transmission of this hadith are authentic and the people mentioned in the line of transmission are all truthful according to the distinguished and upheld standards of narrating; in addition, Maysarah ibn Habib (one of the narrators of this hadith) is well known for his trustworthiness.”

Al-Albani has also assented to the authentication done by Hakim and Dhahabi.(8)

7. Haythami, in his book entitled, “Majma‘ al-Zawa’id”, assents to the authenticity of the above mentioned hadith through

p: 17

1- Kifayat al-Talib, as narrated by Tabarani.
2- Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 167.
3- Ibid.
4- Ibid.
5- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 660.
6- Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, according to the commentary of al-Tirmidhi, vol. 10, p. 272.
7- Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, vol. 2, pp. 423- 426.
8- Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, vol. 2, p. 424.

the line of transmission of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri.(1)

8. Mustafa ibn ‘Aduwwi.(2)

9. Huwayni Athari in his book entitled, “Khasa’is Amir al-Mu’minin (as)” has approved and assented to the authenticity of this hadith.(3)

10. Al-Dani ibn Munir Al Zahawi.(4)

11. Hamzah Ahmad al-Zayn, the renowned and celebrated researcher of the book entitled, “Musnad Ahmad” has categorized this hadith as authentic.(5)

12. Ibn Hibban has reported this hadith in his “Al-Sahih”.(6)

This hadith has been recounted through so many chains of transmission that Suyuti and Sam‘ani consider it to be consecutive [mutawatir].(7)

Alterations and Distortions

This hadith is strong evidence to prove the rightful rank of Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as). It proves beyond doubt that they belong to Paradise. This fact puts them in an enviable and exceptional position above the rest of the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions. It is for this reason that some have sought to remedy this situation in order to preserve the positions of their leaders and not fall behind these two.

Because of this, they have engaged in activities to change, alter and even distort the nature of this hadith. They have done so by way of removing certain parts from the hadith, adding extra parts to it, and even going so far as to forge and create a new hadith similar to the original, just for the sake of challenging this renowned hadith and raising the status of their leaders.

We will now examine and refute each of these alterations and distortions.

The First Alteration: The exception of Jesus Christ (as) and John the Baptist (as)


The hadith recounted by Tabarani mentions the prophets Jesus Christ (as) and John

p: 18

1- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 201.
2- Al-Sahih al-Musnad min Fada’il al-Sahabah, p. 257.
3- Tahdhib-u Khasa’is al-Imam ‘Ali (as), p. 99, hadith 124.
4- Khasa’is Amir al-Mu’minin (as), as researched by Al Zahawi, p. 107, hadith 140.
5- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, as reseached by Hamzah Ahmad al-Zayn, vol 1, pp. 101, 195, 204, 259.
6- Sahih ibn Hibban, vol. 15, p. 413, printed by Mu’assisah al-Risalah.
7- Tuhfah al-Ahwadhi, vol. 10, p. 186; Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 3, p. 550; Al-Ansab, vol. 3, p. 477.

the Baptist (as) to be exceptions. He narrates that Allah’s Prophet (S) addressed Fatimah (as) in the following way:

والله ما من نبی الاّ وولد الأنبیاء غیری، وإنّ ابنیک سیدا شباب اهل الجنه الاّ ابنی الخاله یحیی وعیسی.

“I swear upon Allah! There was never a man who was raised to the prophethood unless he was the son of a former prophet, other than me. And these two, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, are certainly the chiefs of the youths of Paradise, other than Jesus and John.”(1)


Firstly, we have to mention that Tabarani has narrated this hadith five times through five different chains of transmission. On the first four chains of transmission, he has repeated the hadith word by word, without any changes in the text at all, “Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the chiefs of the youths of Paradise.”

On the fifth chain, however, the part, ‘other than Jesus and John’ has been added. Since only the fifth chain of transmission has this added part, it is probable that this hadith has been altered and distorted through supplementation.

This hadith, as recounted by Abu Sa‘id Khudri, also comprises the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ on some of his chains of transmission. He has however omitted it from other channels.(2)

It is possible for one to object and say, “These kinds of additions and omissions are found in a lot of hadiths. How can one prove that the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ is an alteration and distortion?”

We respond by saying that those hadiths that have

p: 19

1- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 3, pp. 35-36.
2- Ibid., p. 38.

either additions or omissions can be identified and corrected because they have been recounted by so many witnesses and on so many chains of transmission which are independent of each other that the sheer popularity of their reportage is sufficient for them to be regarded as correct and adopted as authentic hadiths.

Secondly, the hadith comprising the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ has been attributed to either Imam ‘Ali (as) or Abu Sa‘id Khudri and the chains of transmission of both of these hadiths are disputable.

Let us now examine them carefully:

a. One of the transmitters mentioned on the chain of transmission attributed to Imam ‘Ali (as) is Asbat ibn Nasr. He is a reporter who has been reproached and severely scolded by many of the Sunni scholars of hadith.

Abu Hatam says, “I heard Abu Na‘im saying that he used to consider Asbat ibn Nasr as a weak [da‘if] and unreliable transmitter of hadith.”

Nassa’i says, “He is not a strong [qawi] reporter.”

Saji categorises Asbat ibn Nasr among the weak transmitters of hadith and says, “He has narrated hadiths which are not reliable at all.”

Ibn Ma‘in does not even include or mention him among the reporters of hadith.(1) Ibn Hajar has called him “the one who makes many mistakes.” [kathir al-khata’](2) When Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked about Asbat ibn Nasr, he answered, “I do not narrate what he says regarding anyone.”(3) Dhahabi has classified him among the weak transmitters of hadith.(4)

b. One of the transmitters mentioned in Abu Sa‘id Khudri’s chain

p: 20

1- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 1, p. 212.
2- Taqrib al-Tahdhib, p. 53.
3- Al-‘Ilal wa Ma‘rifat al-Rijal, p. 248.
4- Al-Mughni fi al-Du‘afa’, vol. 1, p. 66; Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin, p. 16.

of transmission of this particular hadith is Hakam ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman. He, too, is considered weak by some Sunni scholars of hadith.

Ibn Ma‘in categorises him among the weak transmitters of tradition.(1)

Ibn Hajar says, “He is a man afflicted with a bad and weak memory.”(2)

The Second alteration: distortion of the hadiths in favor of the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar)


Some have turned this noble hadith upside down by endeavoring to prove that it was said in favor of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. The reporters were careful not to overlook the fact that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were old men at the advent of Islam; therefore, they changed the wording of the hadith by removing the word “shabab”, which means “youths”, and inserting in its place the word “kuhul”, which means “old men”.

We will now analyze and refute such hadiths:

1. The hadiths recounted by al-Tirmidhi


Al-Tirmidhi has narrated this hadith through three chains of transmission [sanad].

The first chain of transmission

حدّثنا علی بن حُجر، اخبرنا ولید بن محمد الموقری عن الزهری، عن علی بن الحسین، عن علی بن ابی طالب، قال: کنت مع رسول الله صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیهِ وآله اذ طلع ابوبکر، وعمر فقال رسول الله صَلَّی اللهَُ عَلَیهِ وآله: هذان سیدا کهول اهل الجنه من الاوّلین والآخرین الاّ النبیّین والمرسلین، یا علی لا تخبرهما.

“This hadith was related by ‘Ali ibn Hujr who quoted Walid ibn Muhammad al-Mawqiri. He quoted al-Zuhri who quoted ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn who in turn quoted ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) who said, ‘I was in the presence of the Prophet of Allah (S) when he saw Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. The Prophet (S) said, ‘These two are the chiefs of the old people

p: 21

1- Ibn Abi Hatam, Al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dil, vol. 1, p. 123; Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 431.
2- Taqrib al-Tahdhib, vol. 1, p. 191.

of Paradise, from the first to the last save the prophets and messengers. O ‘Ali, do not inform them of this.’’”

This hadith has a number of weaknesses:

Firstly, al-Tirmidhi himself considered this hadith to be estranged and scarce [gharib].

Secondly, al-Tirmidhi himself says that Walid ibn Muhammad Mawwqiri, one of the transmitters on the chain of transmission of the hadith, is considered to be a weak and unreliable reporter of hadith.(1)

Some other Sunni scholars of hadith also consider Walid ibn Muhammad Mawqiri to be among the weak transmitters of traditions, including:

1. Bukhari says, “His hadiths contain refutable parts.”(2)

2. Abu Hatam says, “He is a weak transmitter of hadith [da‘if al-hadith].”

3. Ibn Hibban says, “He has forged hadiths and attributed them to Zuhri, and yet Zuhri never said those things at all… Therefore, relying on his hadiths and using them to deduce legal judgment is not permissible at all.”

4. Ibn al-Madini says, “His hadiths should not be recorded and recounted.”

5. Dhahabi has categorized him among weak narrators. He says, “Yahya discredited him and al-Daraqutni classified him among the weak narrators of hadith.”(3)

6. Ibn Khuzaymah says, “I do not rely on his hadiths.”

7. Nassa’i considers him to be “a rejected and abandoned narrator” [matruk al-hadith] and adds that “Yahya ibn Ma‘in considered him to be an unreliable person.”

It is clear that it is not possible to use such weak traditions in logical argument.

Thirdly, one of the transmitters of this hadith is Zuhri who was one of the nobles and dignitaries of Bani Marwan’s government.

p: 22

1- Tuhfah al-Ahwadhi, vol. 10, pp. 149-150.
2- Al-Du‘afa’ al-Kabir, p. 166.
3- Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin, p. 332.

He could always be seen in the company of Bani Marwan’s exclusive group. It is for this reason that his own sister considered him to be an immoral and corrupt man.(1) In such a case, how can one trust him as a transmitter of hadith?

Shafi‘i and Daraqutni have also characterized him as a person that misrepresents the truth through concealing facts (subreption) [mudallis]. Ibn Hajar has explicitly ranked him in ‘the third level of subreption [tadlis]’.(2) It should be borne in mind that subreption, which necessitates the distortion of truth, is a type of lying.

Fourthly, from the Sunni point of view, this hadith has the problem of discontinuity and cessation [inqita‘] in transmission. During the lifetime of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (as), from whom this hadith has been quoted, was not old enough to be able to directly recount a hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as).

This dilemma, of course, is not faced by the Shi‘ahs who can easily solve the problem of discontinuity and cessation, because their Imams (as) have superseded each other in an unbroken chain of succession. Therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a broken chain of transmission’ in hadith transmitted through the Imams, because every Imam quotes his father, who in turn quotes his father,

until the quotation reaches their ancestor the Holy Prophet (S).

Fifthly, all people in heaven are youths. There are no old men in heaven at all. (This issue is discussed in more detail in a later section entitled ‘The

p: 23

1- Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 2, p. 65.
2- Tabaqat al-Mudallisin, p. 27.

Problem with the Text of This Hadith’.)

Sixthly, why would the Holy Prophet (S) be disinclined to let Imam ‘Ali (as) expose this hadith?

The second chain of transmission

On his second chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi has quoted this same hadith from Hasan ibn Sabah Bazar. Hasan Bazar quoted it from Muhammad ibn Kathir, from al-Awza‘i, from Qutadah, from Anas ibn Malik, and Anas ibn Malik quoted it from the Holy Prophet (S). It will be shown that this chain of transmission has weaknesses also, and its falsity can therefore be proven.

Firstly, al-Tirmidhi considers this hadith, like the previous one, to be estranged and scarce [gharib].

Secondly, one of the transmitters on the chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir Masisi. He is considered a weak narrator of hadith by a number of Sunni scholars of hadith. Some of the scholars who consider and categorize him to be a weak narrator are as follows:

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “The name of Muhammad ibn Kathir was mentioned in my father’s presence. My father seriously rebuked him as a weak narrator of hadith and called him as one whose hadiths should be denied [munkir al-hadith].”

2. Salih ibn Ahmad quotes his father as saying, “In my opinion, he is not trustworthy [thaqah].”

3. Some people said to Ibn al-Madini, “This hadith has been narrated by Muhammad ibn Kathir. He quotes it from al-Awza‘i, who quotes from Qutadah, and Qutadah quotes from Anas.” Ibn al-Madini answered, “In the past I had the desire to meet this shaykh, but now I do not wish

p: 24

to do so anymore.”

4. Abu Dawud says, “He did not understand or comprehend hadith at all.”(1)

5. Abu Ahmad Hakim does not consider Muhammad ibn Kathir to be a strong Sunni narrator of hadith.

6. Nassa’i presents him as one who is “full of mistakes” [kathir al-khata’].

Thirdly, another narrator on this chain of transmission is Qutadah who has been introduced as a frontrunner in the misrepresentation of facts [tadlis].(2)

The third chain of transmission

On his third chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi has quoted this hadith from Y‘aqub ibn Ibrahim Dawraqi. Y‘aqub ibn Ibrahim Dawraqi quotes it from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah quotes from Dawud. Dawud quotes from Shi‘bi and Shi‘bi from Harith. Harith quotes from ‘Ali (as), and Imam ‘Ali (as) quotes it from the Holy Prophet (S).

This chain of transmission, like the others before, has various weaknesses.

Firstly, Nassa’i and other Sunni scholars of hadith have stipulated in a clear and firm way that Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah is a misrepresenter of facts [mudallis].

Ibn Hajar has also classified him as belonging to the third level of subreption and distortion of facts [tadlis]. Nevertheless, he has spared him harsh words and instead has apologetically said, “He has only engaged in subreption regarding trustworthy people.”

However, if it were true that all the reporters were trustworthy people, why was it necessary to engage in subreption at all? Subreption which is intentional misrepresentation through the concealment of pertinent facts is considered by the majority of Sunni scholars as one of many types of lying [kidhb].(3)

Secondly, one of the narrators on the

p: 25

1- Mizan al-I‘tidal, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, and Lisan al-Mizan translated by Muhammad ibn Kathir.
2- Nasb al-Rayah, vol. 3, p. 155; Tahqiq al-Ghayah, p. 309; Ibn Hajar, Tabaqat al-Mudallisin, p. 16.
3- Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Al-Kifayah, p. 355, as narrated by Shu‘bah ibn al-Hajjaj.

chain of transmission of this hadith is Dawud ibn Abi Hind. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has described him as ‘a man full of anxiety and unease when confronted by the scholars of hadith, and a person about whom there are many differing opinions among the scholars [‘ulama’]’.(1)

Thirdly, it is surprising that Sha‘bi has quoted a hadith from Harith, because he himself considers Harith to be a liar [kadhib]. We will discuss this matter in the next discussion.

2. The hadith recounted by Ibn Majah


Ibn Majah has narrated this hadith through two chains of transmission [sanad].

The first chain of transmission

On his first chain of transmission, Ibn Majah quotes this hadith from Hisham ibn ‘Ammar, from Sufyan, from Hasan ibn ‘Amarah, from Faras, from Shi‘bi. Sha‘bi quotes the hadith from ‘Ali (as), and ‘Ali (as) quotes it from the Holy Prophet (S).(2)

Problems concerning this chain of transmission:

Firstly, one of the transmitters on this chain of transmission is Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. He is widely believed to be a liar and a distorter of hadith. Lying and distortion of facts [tadlis] occurs when a transmitter attributes statements to someone when in actual fact he did not hear them from that person.

Secondly, another person named as one of the transmitters of this hadith is Hasan ibn ‘Amarah. He is believed to be worse at distorting facts than Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. All the Sunni leaders and scholars have classified him among the weak transmitters of hadith. Among those who consider him to be a weak reporter are:

1. Al-Bayhaqi says, “He was abandoned [matruk] as a narrator. No reliable

p: 26

1- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 3, p. 205.
2- Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 1, pp. 36-38.

verdict can be deduced on the basis of his hadiths.”(1)

2. Al-Daraqutni has classified him among the weak narrators of hadith.(2)

3. In his book called “Majruhin”, Ibn Hibban has mentioned him as a weak narrator of hadith.(3)

4. Yahya ibn Mu‘in has classified him among the unworthy transmitters of hadith.

5. Ibn Hibban quotes Shu‘bah as saying, “We do not have any problem with hadiths that he narrated, just as we would not have any problem if he were to commit fornication or adultery.” Shu‘bah said this to mean that the weight of these two sins, recounting distorted or false hadith and committing adultery or fornication, are equal.

Thirdly, Shi‘bi, one of the transmitters on this chain of transmission, is a person who cunningly found his way into the government of Bani Umayyah. He was the private tutor of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan’s children. He was also the high judge and jurist during the reign of Hajjaj in Kufah.(4)

It is narrated that Ahnaf said to him, “You should judge between people according to Allah’s decrees.” He replied, “I do not judge according to my Lord’s decrees. I judge according to my own decrees.”(5)

Ibn Abi al-Hadid recounts, “Jamilah, the daughter of ‘Isa ibn Jarad, was a very beautiful woman. One day she lodged a complaint with the high court against one of her enemies. Shi‘bi judged in favor of the beautiful woman. Because of this judgment, Hudhayl Ashja‘i composed a poem that alluded to the unfair judgment.”(6)

Fourthly, Shi‘bi quotes this hadith from Harith, while he

p: 27

1- Al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah, vol. 3, p. 66.
2- Ibid.
3- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 1, p. 224.
4- Waki‘, Akhbar al-Qudat, vol. 2, pp. 421-426.
5- Ibid., p. 427.
6- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 17, p. 66.

himself always accused Harith of lying.

In the introduction of his book entitled “Al-Sahih”, Muslim says that he heard Shi‘bi saying, “Harith A‘war Hamadani used to be one of our transmitters of hadith, and he is certainly a habitual liar.”(1)

Ibn Hibban quotes from Shi‘bi saying, “Harith narrated for us and I bear witness that he is surely one of the depraved liars.”(2)

Ibn Hajar, while narrating an account of Harith, says, “Shi‘bi considers him to be a liar. He has also been considered to be a heretic, and weaknesses can be found in the hadith he recounts.”(3)

Nuwi in his book entitled, “Khulasah” says, “There is unanimity among Sunni scholars of hadith that Harith is a weak transmitter of hadith because he is a liar.”(4)

Fatani says, “Harith ibn ‘Abd Allah Hamadani A‘war was one of the scholars in the period of the tabi‘in(5), but Shi‘bi and Ibn al-Madini consider him to be a liar.”(6)

The second chain of transmission

On this chain of transmission, Ibn Majah quotes this hadith from Abu Shu‘ayb Salih ibn Haytham Ta’i who quotes from ‘Abd al-Qudus ibn Bakr ibn Khunays. ‘Abd al-Qudus ibn Bakr ibn Khanays quotes from Malik ibn Mughul who quotes from ‘Awn ibn Abi Juhayfah. ‘Awn ibn Abi Juhayfah quotes from his father who finally quotes from the Holy Prophet (S).

To substantiate the falsity of this hadith, suffice it to say that one of the narrators on the chain of transmission is ‘Abd al-Qudus. He is a person about whom Ibn Hajar says, “Mahmud ibn Ghaylan relates that Ahmad, Ibn Mu‘in

p: 28

1- Muslim, Al-Sahih, with Commentary by Nuwi, vol. 1, p. 97.
2- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 1, p. 216.
3- Taqrib al-Tahdhib, vol. 1, p. 141.
4- Tahqiq al-Ghayah bi Tartib al-Ruwat al-Mutarjim lahum fi Nasb al-Rayah, p. 120.
5- Those who did not see or meet the Prophet in person but met or saw his companions.
6- Tadhkirah al-Mawdu‘at, p. 248.

and Khaythamah said that they deleted and cancelled all the hadith which he had recounted for them.”(1)

3. The hadith narrated by Haythami

Haythami has narrated this same hadith. On his chain of transmission, he quotes from ibn Juhayfah who quotes from Allah’s Prophet (S).(2)

The problem with this transmission is that one of the other narrators included on his chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr ibn Khunays who has been classified among the weak narrators of hadith by Salih ibn Jazrah.(3)

4. The hadith recounted by Dulabi

Dulabi has recounted this hadith on a different chain of transmission through ibn Juhayfah from the Prophet of Allah (S). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr ibn Khunays who has already been classified among the weak transmitters of hadith.

5. The hadith recounted by ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal

‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal has also recounted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S).(4) However, one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar Yamani whom Dhahabi has described to be obscure, vague and ambiguous.(5) Another narrator on his chain of transmission is Hasan ibn Zayd, who was Mansur’s caretaker in Medina and was one of the companions of Mahdi ‘Abbasi after that. Ibn ‘Uday says, “His hadith are controversial and difficult to accept.”(6) In addition, Fatani says, “He is a weak transmitter of hadith.”(7)

6. The hadiths recounted by Khatib Baghdadi


Baghdadi has narrated this hadith on four chains of transmission:

The first chain of transmission

Baghdadi has narrated this hadith on a chain of transmission through Anas ibn Malik.(8) However, one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Yahya ibn ‘Anbasah. We are compelled

p: 29

1- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 6, p. 369.
2- Mawarid al-Diman ila Zawa’id ibn Hibban, p. 538.
3- Mizan al-I‘tidal, vol. 1, p. 669; Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 2, p. 411; Dhahabi, Al-Mughni, p. 215.
4- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 80.
5- Al-Mughni, p. 35; Diwan al-Du‘afa’, p. 175.
6- Mizan al-‘Itidal, vol. 1, p. 492.
7- Qanun al-Mawdu‘at, p. 249.
8- Tarikh-e Baghdad, vol. 5, p. 307.

to consider this chain of transmission weak for the following reasons:

Ibn Hibban has mentioned Yahya ibn ‘Anbasah in his book, “Al-Majruhin”. Ibn Hibban writes, “He is the leader of all imposters [shaykh al-dajjal]. He has forged hadith and attributed them to Ibn ‘Uyaynah, Dawud ibn Abi Hind, Abi Hanifah and other trusted narrators of hadith. Quoting hadith from him is not acceptable at all.”(1)

Daraqutni has described him as an impostor [dajjal].

Ibn ‘Uday says, “He rejects authentic hadith [munkir al-hadith]. Therefore, his position (as a relater of hadith) is clear.”(2)

Dhahabi has included him in his “Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin” (the Collection of the Weak and Rejected Transmitters of Hadith).(3)

In addition, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Hamid Tawil, about whom Dhahabi says, “We do not know who he is.”(4)

The second chain of transmission

Baghdadi has quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as), and Imam ‘Ali (as) is said to have quoted it from the Holy Prophet (S). One of the narrators included on this chain of transmission is Bashshar ibn Musa al-Khaffaf. Bukhari has described Bashshar ibn Musa al-Khaffaf to be a man who rejects authentic hadith [munkir al-hadith], preferring distorted and/or altered ones instead. Ibn Mu‘in has described him as an impostor [dajjal] and Abu Zar‘ah considers him to be a weak narrator of hadith [da‘if].(5)

Other narrators on this chain of transmission are Shi‘bi and Harith, whom have already been discussed and classified among distorters and weak narrators of hadith.

The third chain of transmission

On his third chain of transmission, Baghdadi has quoted this hadith from

p: 30

1- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 3, p. 124.
2- Mizan al-I’tidal, vol. 4, p. 400.
3- Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin, p. 339.
4- Al-Mughni, p. 196.
5- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 1, p. 441.

Ibn ‘Abbas on two different channels.(1)

One of the narrators on the first chain of transmission is ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Musa, whom the Sunni scholars of hadith have described as a hot and firebrand Shi‘ah. It is therefore extremely unlikely that he could really have recounted such a hadith.(2) Additionally, Ahmad ibn Hanbal has explicitly ordered transmitters of hadith not to quote his hadith.(3)

Furthermore, one of the narrators on the first chain of transmission is Yunus ibn Abi Ishaq, whom some Sunni scholars of hadith have classified among the weak [da‘if] narrators. Ahmad ibn Hanbal considers Yunus to be a weak transmitter and mudtarib al-hadith; (i.e. hadiths related by him are shaky and unfounded).(4)

One of the narrators on this second chain of transmission is Talhah ibn ‘Amru, whom most of the transmitters and scholars of hadith consider to be a weak reporter. Ahmad ibn Hanbal considers him to be worthless altogether [la shay’] and believes that hadith related by him are rejected. Ibn Ma‘in has classified him among the weak transmitters and Jawzajani says his traditions are not satisfactory.

Abu Hatam has classified him among the weak narrators. Bukhari says he is worthless and Nassa’i considers him to be a rejected, abandoned [matruk al-hadith] and untrustworthy [ghayr-u thaqah] reporter. Ibn al-Madini says he is a weak and worthless transmitter while Ibn Hazm considers him to be the greatest of liars and believes that hadiths related by him must be rejected.

Ibn Hibban says, “He attributes hadiths to trustworthy people, but these hadiths

p: 31

1- Tarikh-e Baghdad, vol. 10, p. 192.
2- Mizan al-I‘tidal, vol. 3, p. 16.
3- Ibid.
4- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 11, p. 434.

cannot be traced back to or found in the actual statements of these people.”(1)

The fourth chain of transmission

This hadith has also been narrated on a chain of transmission which goes back to Ibn ‘Abbas. One of the transmitters on that chain of transmission is Talhah ibn ‘Amru, whose position has already been analyzed.

Baghdadi has recounted this hadith in his book called “Mawdih Awham al-Jam‘ wa al-Tafriq”.(2) However, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is ‘Akramah ibn Ibrahim, about whom Hibban says, “He distorts hadith and uses them in instances where they do not apply.

It is for this reason that deducing evidence for the purpose of passing legal judgment is not permissible, if the basis for such a verdict is a hadith related by him.” Ibn Mu‘in and Abu Dawud have described him as a worthless person and Nassa’i has categorized him to be among the weak narrators of hadith.(3)

The hadith recounted by Ibn Hajar

Ibn Hajar has quoted this hadith from ibn ‘Umar in his book “Lisan al-Mizan”.(4) One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Umar.

Ibn Hajar quotes Ahmad ibn Hanbal saying, “For some time, we used to burn hadiths reported by him.” Jawzajani considers him to be a weak spirited man [da‘if al-amr]. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has listed a number of people who have classified and recorded his other weaknesses [tad‘ifat].(5)

The hadith recounted by Ibn al-Najjar

In the book called, “Tarikh-e Baghdad” (The History of Baghdad), Ibn al-Najjar has narrated this hadith on his own chain of transmission from Anas. One of the transmitters

p: 32

1- Ibid., vol. 5, p. 8; Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 2, p. 8; Ibn Hazm, Al-Ahkam, vol. 7, p. 101; Al-Mahalli, vol. 11, p. 276; Mizan al-I‘tidal, vol. 2, p. 340; Tarikh al-Bukhari (al-Kabir), vol. 4, p. 350.
2- Mawdih Awham al-Jam‘ wa al-Tafriq, vol. 2, p. 178, printed in Haidar Abad.
3- Ibn Hibban, Al-Majruhin; Dhahabi, Mizan al-I‘tidal.
4- Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 3, p. 427.
5- Ibid.

on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir whom we have already categorized among the weak transmitters.

The hadith recounted by Ibn ‘Asakir

Ibn ‘Asakir has recounted this hadith on his own chain of transmission. He quotes it from al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as). One of the transmitters on his chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Yunus Qarashi Kadimi. Daraqutni has accused him of forging and creating new hadiths. Ibn Hibban says, “He used to forge hadith.

He has falsely attributed more than a thousand invented hadiths to trustworthy people.” Ibn ‘Uday says, “He is accused of forging hadith. It is for this reason that most of our scholars abandoned and rejected hadiths reported by him.”

The hadith recounted by Ibn Abi Shaybah

Ibn Abi Shaybah has quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as). One of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Musa ibn ‘Ubaydah Rabadhi, about whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “The hadiths he recounts are not worthy of being recorded.” Nassa’i and others have classified him among weak transmitters of hadith.

Ibn ‘Uday says, “There is apparent weakness in the hadiths he reports.” Ibn Mu‘in has described him as a worthless narrator. Yahya ibn Sa‘id says, “We abstain from hadiths recounted by him.”

Likewise, one of the transmitters mentioned on this chain of narration is Abi Ma‘adh. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has prohibited narrating hadiths related by him. Ibn Mu‘in has described him as a worthless reporter. Jawzajani has nullified him altogether. Abu Dawud and Daraqutni have described him as an abandoned and obsolete reporter.(1)

In addition, ‘Ya Abi al-Khattab’, the person from whom Abi

p: 33

1- Mizan al-I‘tidal, vol. 2, p. 196.

Ma‘adh quotes this hadith, is unknown.

The hadith recounted by Tahawi

Tahawi has narrated this hadith on four chains of transmission in the book called, “Mushkil al-Athar”.

The first chain of transmission

This hadith has been quoted from Anas ibn Malik. One of the people on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir San‘a‘i, whose weaknesses and shortcomings we have already mentioned.

The second chain of transmission

On this chain of transmission, the hadith has been quoted from Imam ‘Ali (as). The person that quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as) is Abi Janab Yahya ibn Abi Hayyah Kalbi. Yahya ibn Qattan did not consider quoting traditions narrated by him to be lawful [halal].

Falas has described him as an abandoned and obsolete reporter of hadith. Nassa’i and Daraqutni and ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah have called him a weak narrator.(1)

Ibn Hibban says, “He used to attribute what he heard from weak reporters to trustworthy people… That is why Yahya ibn Qattan has considered hadiths related by him to be baseless and groundless. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has viciously attacked him.”(2)

Furthermore, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Shi‘bi, whom we have already shown to be a weak reporter.

The third chain of transmission

On the third chain of transmission, Tahawi has also quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Shi‘bi who quotes this hadith from Harith. We have already shown both Shi‘bi and Harith to be weak reporters of hadith.

The fourth chain of transmission

On the fourth chain of transmission, this hadith has been quoted from Abu Sa‘id Khudri. Suffice it to say that one of the

p: 34

1- Ibid., vol. 4, p. 371.
2- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 3, p. 111.

narrators on this chain of transmission is Asbagh ibn Faraj who was one of the chiefs of Bani Umayyah.(1)

Another person on this chain of transmission is ‘Ali ibn ‘Abbas. Hibban has mentioned him in his book “Al-Majruhin”. Hibban considers legal judgment deduced by relying on hadiths related by ‘Ali ibn ‘Abbas to be null and void.(2)

Another problem with this chain of transmission is that one of the narrators is Kathir al-Nida’, whom Dhahabi has included in his “Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin” (the Collection of the Weak and Rejected Transmitters of Hadith).(3)

The hadith recounted by Ibn Abi Hatam

Ibn Abi Hatam has narrated this hadith on three chains of transmission, but he himself has nullified all the three chains.(4)

The hadith narrated by Tabarani

Tabarani has narrated this hadith on two chains of transmission:

The first chain of transmission

On this chain of transmission, Juhayfah has quoted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S).(5) One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr, who has been considered a weak reporter by Salih Jazrah. Buysari has also criticized him.(6)

The second chain of transmission

On this chain of transmission, Anas ibn Malik has quoted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir, whom we have already shown to be a weak reporter.

The hadith narrated by Ibn Qutaybah

This hadith has been recorded in the first chapter of his book. Suffice it to say that one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Nuh ibn Abi Maryam, about whom Ibn Hibban has said, “He used to forge and counterfeit chains of transmission. He has narrated hadiths

p: 35

1- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, trans. Asbagh ibn Faraj.
2- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 2, p. 104.
3- Divan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin, p. 256.
4- ‘Ilal al-Hadith, vol. 2, p. 382, Salafiyyah Publications, Egypt.
5- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 22, p. 85-86.
6- Al-Zawa’id, vol. 8, p. 1.

from trustworthy people which cannot be found or traced to their actual narrations. Therefore, deducing legal proof and judgment [ihtijaj] by relying on hadiths reported by him is not permissible at all.”(1)

Muslim and other scholars of hadith have referred to him as a disparaged narrator [matruk al-hadith] and Bukhari has called him a rejecter of hadith [munkir al-hadith]. Hakim and Ibn al-Jawzi have called him a forger of hadith.(2) Ibn al-Jawzi has mentioned the hadiths he forged in several places. Hakim says this about him, “He has been blessed with everything except truthfulness.”(3)



The previous traditions were documented hadiths which some have narrated as regards the issue of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar being the leaders of the elderly of heaven. However, it has been clearly shown that none of the chains of transmission for this hadith is authentic or correct.

Others, too, have narrated this hadith in their books, but they have narrated the hadith in such a way that it gives rise to cessation and discontinuity of transmitters on the chains of transmission, which classifies them as weak hadiths.

The problem with the text of this hadith

The fundamental problem with the text of this hadith is that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar have been called ‘the two leaders of the elderly of Paradise’ whereas other texts of hadith explicitly state that there are no old people in heaven; on the contrary, such hadiths state that the people in Paradise are all youths aged thirty. Note the following:

1. Abu Hurayrah has recounted that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “The people that

p: 36

1- Kitab al-Majruhin, vol. 3, p. 48.
2- Mizan al-I‘tidal, vol. 4, p. 279; Ibn al-Jawzi, Al-Mawdu‘at al-Kubra (A Great Collection of Fabricated Traditions), vol. 1, p. 41.
3- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 10, p. 488.

are destined to enter paradise will be tall, will have no beards on their faces, will have curly thick hair on their heads and will be thirty years of age. Their youth will be endless and their clothes will not wear out.”(1)

2. Abu Sa‘id Khudri narrated from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said, “Whoever dies, whether young or old and is destined to Paradise will enter as a thirty-year-old youth and his age will never be increased. Those entering the Hell will be of the same age.”(2)

Yazid and His Household

Abu Sufiyan, Yazid’s Grandfather


Before giving an account of the life of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, and before demonstrating his unscrupulousness and viciousness, especially through the brutal martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the incident of Harrah, it is appropriate here to give a brief historical account of Yazid’s background. Through awareness of Yazid’s family standing, his actions can better be comprehended.

First, we will give a brief life account of his grandfather, Abu Sufiyan.

Abu Sufiyan’s beliefs

During the ‘Age of Ignorance’, the majority of Arabs used to worship idols with the aim of gaining nearness to Allah through the intercession of their idols. The Holy Qur’an quotes them saying,

﴿ ما نَعبُدُهُم إِلاّ لِیقَرِّبُونا إِلَی اللهِ زُلفی ﴾

“We do not worship them save that they may make us nearer to Allah.”(3)

In spite of worshiping idols, they still believed in the creatorship of Allah. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an,

﴿ وَلَئِن سَأَلتَهُم مَن خَلَقَ السَّمَواتِ وَالأَرضَ وَسَخَّر الشَّمسَ وَالقَمَرَ لَیقُولَنَّ اللهُ ﴾

“And if you ask them, ‘Who created

p: 37

1- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 4, p. 683; Al-Darami, Sunan, vol. 2, p. 335; Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 10, p. 398.
2- Al-Taj al-Jami‘ li’l-Usul, vol. 5, p. 375.
3- Surat al-Zumar 39:3.

the heavens and the earth and made the sun and the moon subservient’, they will certainly say, ‘Allah’.”(1)

Abu Sufiyan, however, was a worldly apostate during the Age of Ignorance who did not believe in anything at all, not even idols. Maqrizi says, “Abu Sufiyan was a bastion of hypocrisy. During the Age of Ignorance, he was considered to be an atheist.”(2)

Abu Sufiyan’s enmity towards the Holy Prophet (S)

Abu Sufiyan was the leader of the enemies of the Holy Prophet (S) and Islam. One day, he came with a group of men to Abu Talib and said, “Your nephew denounces our gods and finds fault with our religion. He regards our thoughts to be foolish and says our fathers and forefathers were unguided and lost. Either stop him from saying these things or step aside and let us deal with him ourselves.”(3)

Abu Sufiyan was also the mastermind behind a plot to kill the Holy Prophet (S). He planned to execute his plan at Dar al-Nadwah. He selected a youth from every tribe and gave each one of them a sword with orders to attack the Holy Prophet’s (S) house and kill him.(4)

For the Battle of Uhud, Abu Sufiyan alone spent forty measures of gold. Each measure contained forty-two pieces [mithqal] of gold. As well, he personally took part in the battle. Seventy-two companions of the Holy Prophet (S) were martyred in the battle, including Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle.(5)

In order to incite and encourage the polytheists to fight at the Battle of Uhud, Abu Sufiyan shouted,

p: 38

1- Surat al-‘Ankabut 29:61.
2- 2 Kitab al-Niza‘ wa al-Takhasum, p. 54.
3- Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, vol. 1, p. 283, vol. 2, p. 58.
4- Ibid., vol. 2, p. 126.
5- Kitab al-Niza‘ wa al-Takhasum, pp. 52-53.

“Long live Hubal! Long live Hubal!”(1) When they heard this, the Muslims replied, “Allah is more Elevated and more Majestic!” When he heard this, Abu Sufiyan personally answered, “We have (the idol) al-‘Uzza, whereas you have no ‘Uzza.” The Holy Prophet (S) ordered his followers to say,

«الله مولانا ولا مولی لکم.»

“Allah is our Master and you have no master.”(2)

After the martyrdom of Hamzah, Abu Sufiyan came to thrust spears into Hamzah’s corpse. He was doing this while saying, “Taste of this, you who has been disinherited and cursed.”(3) Even after the death of the Holy Prophet (S), Abu Sufiyan came to the tomb of Hamzah and started trampling and stamping upon it saying, “O Aba ‘Ammarah! That over which you fought with us and for which you died has now fallen into the hands of our youths and they are playing with it.”(4)

One day Abu Sufiyan saw people walking behind the Holy Prophet (S). With a heart filled with jealousy and envy, he said, “If I can, I will organize an army against this man once again.” The Holy Prophet touched his chest and said, “On that day, Allah will make you abject, contemptible and despised.”(5)

Abu Sufiyan’s conversion to Islam

It is well known that Abu Sufiyan did not convert to Islam of his own volition and inclination. On the contrary, he became a Muslim out of a feeling of fear and intimidation.

When the Holy Prophet (S) conquered Mecca, Abu Sufiyan came with ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib before the Holy Prophet (S) and requested

p: 39

1- Hubal was the name of one of the important idols at the Age of Ignorance.
2- Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, vol. 3, p. 99; Ibn al-‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 23, p. 444, no. 2849.
3- Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, vol. 3, p. 99.
4- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 16, p. 136.
5- Al-Isabah, vol. 2, p. 179.

immunity and safe-conduct from the Holy Prophet (S). The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Woe unto you O Abu Sufiyan! Has the time not yet come for you to know that there is no god but Allah?”

Abu Sufiyan said, “May my mother and father be sacrificed for you. How generous and kind you are!” Again, the Holy Prophet (S) said, “O Abu Sufiyan! Has the time not yet arrived for you to accept that I am Allah’s Prophet?” Abu Sufiyan repeated his previous statement and added, “This issue of you being Allah’s Prophet has not yet been settled in my heart.”

‘Abbas said to him, “Woe unto you! Testify to the truth before your neck is cut.” It was only at this time out of compulsion and fear that Abu Sufiyan testified to the truth and accepted Islam.(1)

Abu Sufiyan’s conspiracies against Islam

Here we provide only a brief account of one of the many conspiracies that Abu Sufiyan committed against Islam:

After the demise of the Holy Prophet (S), the people paid allegiance to Abu Bakr. Solely because he intended to create sedition in the Muslim community [ummah], Abu Sufiyan said, “I surely foresee disturbances and civil disorders which will not be extinguished save by Allah. O Children of ‘Abd al-Manaf! How can Abu Bakr become your leader?

How can he be the one who holds responsibility over your affairs? Where are those two oppressed people who have been sidelined and made inferior?” (He meant Imam ‘Ali (as) and ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib) Then he turned to

p: 40

1- Al-Isti‘ab, vol. 4, p. 86; Kitab al-Niza‘ wa al-Takhasum, vol. 3, p. 356.

Imam ‘Ali (as) and said, “Give me your hand so that I may swear allegiance to you. I swear upon Allah!

If you wish, I will fill the battleground with horsemen and footmen willing to fight for you!” However, Imam ‘Ali (as) withheld his hand and said,

والله ما أردت بهذا الاّ الفتنه، وانّک والله طالب بغیت للاسلام شرّاً، لا حاجه لنا فی نصحک.

“I swear upon Allah! You intend nothing but sedition. I swear upon Allah! For a long time now, you have been looking for an opportunity to make mischief and deliberately cause trouble for Islam. We are not in need of your help and advice.”(1)

Denial of the existence of resurrection and hereafter

One of the incredulous things that Abu Sufiyan did after his apparent acceptance of Islam was to deny and repudiate the Day of Resurrection.

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr says, “One day during the caliphate of ‘Uthman, Abu Sufiyan came to see him. He addressed ‘Uthman as follows: ‘After a lot of fighting and tribulation, the caliphate has finally come to you, one of our own kinsmen.

You should therefore nail its foundations strongly in our family. You must strengthen its roots in the family of Bani Umayyah. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, this is the very same sultanate that was previously in our hands. And I believe in neither heaven nor hell.’ ‘Uthman shouted at him and said, ‘Leave me! May Allah chastise and punish you!’”(2)

It has been narrated in the book “Tarikh Tabari” that Abu Sufiyan said to ‘Uthman, “O Bani Umayyah! You should pass

p: 41

1- Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol 2, p. 11, events that occurred in the eleventh year after the Holy Prophet’s (s) migration to Medina.
2- Al-Isti‘ab, no. 3005.

the caliphate to one another from among yourselves only, in the same way that team-mates pass a ball to each other in a game, because neither heaven nor hell exist.”(1)

Mas‘udi recounts the story this way: “Abu Sufiyan said, ‘O Bani Umayyah! You should preserve the caliphate for yourselves, just like teammates preserve control over the ball by passing it among themselves. I swear upon the one whom Abu Sufiyan swears upon, I always wished this for you. You must preserve it for the inheritance of your children’.”(2)

Abu Sufiyan said this on a day when ‘Uthman gave him two thousand dinars from the Islamic public treasury. On the same day, ‘Uthman also gave Marwan ibn al-Hakam (one of his cousins) a thousand dinars from the Islamic public treasury.(3)

Ibn ‘Asakir quotes Anas saying that after Abu Sufiyan became blind, he came to ‘Uthman and said, “Are there any strangers with you here?” ‘Uthman said, “No.” Then Abu Sufiyan said, “(I swear) Upon Allah! You must reverse the circumstances to what they were during the Age of Ignorance.”(4)

The curse of the Holy Prophet (S) upon Abu Sufiyan

It is well known that the Holy Prophet (S) has cursed Abu Sufiyan on seven instances:

1. One day the Holy Prophet (S) was traveling from Mecca towards Ta’if to invite the tribe of Thaqif to accept the religion of Islam; Abu Sufiyan obstructed the Holy Prophet (S) and reviled him using abusive comments. As if this were not enough, in order to further torment and injure the Holy Prophet (S), he swore to take revenge against

p: 42

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 10, p. 58, events that occurred in the eleventh year after the Holy Prophet’s (s) migration to Medina.
2- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, p. 360.
3- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 1, p. 199, sermon [khutbah] 3.
4- Tarikh al-Madinah al-Damishq, vol. 23, p. 471, no. 2849.

Allah’s Prophet (S). This is one incident when Allah and his Prophet (S) cursed him.

2. The Muslims intercepted a trade caravan of Meccan polytheists returning from Sham. When news about this incident reached Abu Sufiyan, he tried to hinder the Muslims from obtaining the booty and spoils. The Holy Prophet (S) cursed Abu Sufiyan for this action and it was this incident that lead to the Battle of Badr.

3. On the day of the Battle of Badr, Abu Sufiyan was at the bottom of the mountain and the Holy Prophet (S) was at the top. Abu Sufiyan was incessantly shouting, “Long live Hubal! Long live Hubal!” This caused the Holy Prophet (S) and the Muslims to curse him ten times.

4. Another incident that caused the Holy Prophet (S) to curse Abu Sufiyan was when he, along with members of the Ghatfan tribe and the Jews, assaulted and attacked Medina.

5. On the day of Hudaybiyyah (one of the important days on the Islamic calendar), Abu Sufiyan together with a group of people belonging to the tribe of Quraysh obstructed the Holy Prophet (S) from entering Masjid al-Haram. On this day, the Holy Prophet (S) cursed Abu Sufiyan.

6. Another occasion when the Holy Prophet (S) cursed Abu Sufiyan was the Day of the Red Camels.

7. One day a gang of scoundrels camped at ‘Aqabah with the aim of startling the Holy Prophet’s camel when he rode by. They numbered twelve people in all. Abu Sufiyan was one of these villains. The Holy

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Prophet (S) cursed and damned them all.(1)

Hadrat ‘Ali’s (as) viewpoint of Abu Sufiyan

In one hadith, Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) describes Mu‘awiyah and Abu Sufiyan in this way,

معاویه طلیق ابن طلیق، حزب من هذه الاحزاب، لم یزل لله عزّ وجلّ ولرسوله وللمسلمین عدوّاً هو وابوه حتی دخلا فی الاسلام کارهین.

“Mu‘awiyah is unrestrained. He is the son of one who was unrestrained, and he is a party of this party. He and his father have always been enemies of Allah, the Holy Prophet (S) and the Muslims. This enmity continued until the time they were compelled under duress to become Muslims.”(2)

In a letter addressed to Mu‘awiyah, Imam ‘Ali (as) writes, “O son of the ill-fated one! O son of the accursed one…’(3) It seems that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) was referring here to the curses which the Holy Prophet (S) pronounced on Abu Sufiyan, his son Mu‘awiyah and his grandson Yazid.

It has been recounted that one day Abu Sufiyan was riding a horse and one of his offsprings (either Mu‘awiyah or Yazid) was in front and the other in back. When the Holy Prophet (S) saw them, he said,

«اللهم العن الراکب والقائد والسائق.»

“O Allah! Banish from your mercy the rider of this horse and those that are leading it.”(4)

In another letter to Mu‘awiyah, Amir al-Mu’minin (as) writes,

«منّا النبی ومنکم المکذّب.»

“The Prophet (S) is from us, and the denier of his prophethood is from you.”(5)

Commenting on this, Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “Imam ‘Ali (as) was referring to Abu Sufiyan ibn Harb, because Abu Sufiyan was one of the Prophet’s

p: 44

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 6, pp. 290-291, sermon [khutbah] 83.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 8, events of the year 37 AH.
3- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 15, p. 82.
4- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 10, p. 58, events of the year 284 AH.
5- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 15, p. 196.

(S) most vicious enemies and a denier of his prophethood.”

Addressing Mu‘awiyah, Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) said,

وانّک یا معاویه! واباک مِن المؤلّفه قلوبهم، تسرّون الکفر، وتظهرون الاسلام، وتستمالون بالاموال.

“Without doubt, you, Mu‘awiyah, and your father, are among the people who have used money from the Islamic public treasury for the sake of pleasing your hearts. You have concealed your infidelity and unbelief [kufr] and instead displayed your false belief in Islam. You have lured people towards yourselves by means of your possessions.”(1)

Mu‘awiyah, Yazid’s Father

Mu‘awiyah before accepting Islam

In all the wars that the Quraysh declared on Islam and fought against the Muslims, Abu Sufiyan and his son, Mu‘awiyah occupied positions at the forefront of the army of the polytheists. Even though Mu‘awiyah had heard the marvelous sound of the Holy Qur’an in Mecca, and although he had witnessed people entering the fold of Islam in great multitudes, he remained a polytheist [mushrik] up to the conquest of Mecca.

Finally, Mu‘awiyah and his father became Muslims, albeit not of their own accord, but rather out of fear and compulsion. This period was sufficient for any impartial and reasonable person to embrace Islam, but Mu‘awiyah was not such a person. Had Mecca not been conquered, Mu‘awiyah would have surely remained an uncompromising polytheist and continued fighting against the Muslims.

Mu‘awiyah’s antagonism against Islam

Under the pretext of Islam, Bani Umayyah possessed and controlled the caliphate for nearly a century. During this period, they utilized massive power, deceit and diplomacy for the destruction of Islam. They tried to obliterate the religion by

p: 45

1- Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 288-289.

distancing the people from the legacy of the Holy Prophet (S).

Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan, the forerunner of this corrupt dynasty, aspired to destroy every manifestation of Islam, and he followed his aspirations with a firm resolution and strong determination.

Zubayr ibn Bakkar writes, “Mutraf the son of Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah says, ‘My father and I had gone to Sham during the rule and caliphate of Mu‘awiyah. During our stay in Sham, my father used to go and see Mu‘awiyah on a daily basis.

Upon returning, he would praise and extol Mu‘awiyah with great excitement. One night, however, he refused to eat dinner. Instead, he anxiously sunk into deep and worried thought.

This happened after returning from seeing Mu‘awiyah. I feared that some very unpleasant event had happened in our life. An hour later, I asked him what had happened. He said, ‘My son, I have just come from the presence of the most evil infidel among mankind.’ I said, ‘Why do you say this?!’

He replied, ‘Tonight, the gathering at Mu‘awiyah’s place was devoid of strangers and outsiders, so I seized the opportunity and said to Mu‘awiyah, ‘O Leader of the Believers! You have attained your worldly desires and aspirations.

If you act fairly and equitably towards your kith and kin, the Bani Hashim, and adopt kindness towards them and observe the bonds of relationship, you will leave behind a good reputation for yourself when you die. I swear upon Allah! They possess nothing that should arouse your anxiety and apprehension.’


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replied, ‘Far be it! Far be it! This is not possible at all. The name of this Hashemite man (i.e. the Holy Prophet of Islam) is called five times daily all across the Islamic world from the minarets when the Islamic call to prayer [adhan] is being recited, and in this way the people remember his greatness.

In such circumstances, what effects and reputation will ever remain for me, O motherless one? I swear to God that I will not attain peace until I do everything in my power to bury his name’.’”(1)

Mu‘awiyah and his great [kabirah] sins

Mu‘awiyah the son of Abu Sufiyan was not a person who refrained from committing great sins. He was so daring that he openly committed illegitimate actions among the people. Here, reference will be made to some of the actions he committed that were in flagrant contradiction to the divine law [shari‘ah] of Islam:

Mu‘awiyah dranked alcoholic beverages

Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes ‘Abd Allah ibn Buraydah saying, “My father and I went to visit Mu‘awiyah. He spread a carpet for us and made us sit on it. Then, he brought us some food, which we ate. After that, he brought us some alcohol. Mu‘awiyah drank from it and invited my father to partake of it, but my father refused and said, ‘Since the time that the Noble Prophet (S) made alcohol haram (forbidden), I have not drunk it’.”(2)

Mu‘awiyah did this heedless of the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«شارب الخمر کعابد وثن.»

“One who drinks alcohol is the same as one who worships idols.”(3)

Mu‘awiyah engaged in usury


p: 47

1- Zubayr ibn Bakkar, Al-Akhbar al-Muwafiqat, pp. 576-577; Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 454; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 176, vol. 5, p. 129.
2- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 6, p. 476.
3- Ibn al-Mundhir, Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, vol. 3, p. 102.

ibn Yasar says, “Mu‘awiyah sold a cup made out of gold at a price more than its weight. Abu al-Darda’ said to him, ‘I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) forbidding this kind of action. Selling and buying should not be concluded unless the deal is equal as regards weight.’ Mu‘awiyah boldly answered him, ‘I see nothing wrong with taking usury.’

Abu al-Darda’ said, ‘Who will justify Mu‘awiyah’s actions? I am telling him what Allah’s Prophet (S) has said, and he is telling me what he himself thinks. From now on, I will never live in the same territory with Mu‘awiyah’.”(1)

Mu‘awiyah used to take usury in spite of the fact that Allah has cursed the one who takes usury, the one who gives it, the two witnesses required for recording such a contract, and the writer of the transaction.(2)

The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Refrain from seven actions because these seven deeds invite Allah’s punishment and wrath.” The people asked, “O Prophet of Allah! What are those seven deeds?” He said, “Associating others with Allah (polytheism), sorcery and witchcraft, killing of a life which Allah has made honorable except by justice, consuming that which belongs to orphans and taking usury.”(3)

On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari quotes from Abi Juhayfah that the Holy Prophet (S) cursed both the giver and taker of usury.(4)

Mu‘awiyah altered the practice of obligatory rituals

In his book entitled “Kitab al-Umm”, Shafi‘i recounts that Zuhri said, “The the Islamic call to prayer [adhan] was never recited for the two festival prayers (‘Id al-Qurban and ‘Id al-Fitr)

p: 48

1- Malik, Al-Muwatta’, vol. 2, p. 59.
2- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 5, p. 500.
3- Ibid., vol. 1, p. 271.
4- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 2219, hadith 6501.

during the time of the Holy Prophet (S), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. The only time when the adhan was recited before the two ‘Id prayers was when Mu‘awiyah innovated and introduced it during his reign in Sham, and Hajjaj followed up on this innovation when he became the governor of Medina.”

Ibn Hajar says, “On a sound chain of transmission, Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib that the first person who innovated and introduced the adhan into the two ‘Id prayers was Mu‘awiyah.”

Shafi‘i also quotes Zuhri who recounts from a truthful and trustworthy person that it was Mu‘awiyah who innovated and introduced the adhan into the two ‘Id prayers.(1)

Mu‘awiyah, the son of Abu Sufiyan, brought about this innovation in the two ‘Id Prayers despite the fact that there is no legitimate justification in Islam for the adhan and iqamah to be read for any prayers except the obligatory daily prayers. This is a legal verdict in the practical laws of Islam which is undisputed by any school of Islamic thought.

Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah says, “I was present when the Holy Prophet (S) offered prayers on the day of ‘Id. He offered the prayers before the sermon and without reciting either the adhan or iqamah. Then, while he was leaning on Bilal, he invited the people to piety and obedience of Allah.”(2)

Ibn ‘Abbas and Jabir say, “The Holy Prophet (S) never recited the adhan for the prayers of ‘Id al-Fitr or al-Qurban.”(3)

Failure to recite the traveler’s prayer on journeys

Tabarani and Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrate from ‘Ibad

p: 49

1- Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, p. 353, 452.
2- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 332, hadith 935; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 284, hadith 4.
3- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 327, hadith 917; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 285, hadith 5.

ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr on an authentic chain of transmission that he said, “When Mu‘awiyah intended to go for the hajj, he came to inform us about his intention and we traveled together to Mecca. He prayed two rak‘ats for the noon prayers with us.

Then, he went to Dar al-Nadwah. ‘Uthman was there and was praying full prayers (four rak‘ats). When Mu‘awiyah reached Mecca, he also prayed four rak‘ats for the zuhr, ‘asr and ‘isha’ prayers. After leaving Mina and ‘Arafat, he shortened his prayers. And after leaving the hajj, he stopped and camped at Mina and prayed full prayers until he left Mecca.”(1)

Notice how the son of Abu Sufiyan daringly scorns, mocks and derides Allah’s laws and acts in whatever way he pleases regardless of the fact that everyone knows that the prayers of a person on a journey must be shortened.

Friday Congregational Prayers done on Wednesday

Mas‘udi narrates, “The obedience of the people of Damascus to Mu‘awiyah had reached such an extent that, when Mu‘awiyah intended to travel towards Siffin, they allowed him to pray the Friday congregational prayers for them on Wednesday!”(2)

Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan made this innovation in spite of the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) always prayed the Friday congregational prayers at its proper time under all circumstances. Muslim quotes Salamah saying, “We used to pray jum‘ah prayers on Friday with the Holy Prophet (S), while the walls had no shadows under which we could take refuge.”(3)

Bukhari quotes from Anas ibn Malik, “The Prophet of Allah used to

p: 50

1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 5, p. 58, hadith 16415.
2- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 42.
3- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 266, hadith 32.

pray the Friday congregational prayers on Friday when the sun started its incline just after high noon.”(1)

Mu‘awiyah provides verdict opposed to the Qur’an

Ibn Mundhar quotes from Qasim ibn Muhammad, “A certain tribe asked Mu‘awiyah about the Islamic verdict of a man who owned two slave girls. The slave girls were blood sisters, and this man used to have intimacy with both of them. Mu‘awiyah advised, ‘There is no problem with this’.”(2)

The son of Abu Sufiyan provided this improper verdict even though in the Holy Qur’an Allah, the High, clearly prohibits marrying two sisters at the same time:

وَأَن تَجمَعُوا بَینَ الاُختَین

“Forbidden to you…and that you should not have two sisters together.”(3)

Innovations due to enmity with Imam ‘Ali (as)

Nassa’i and the other transmitters of hadith quote Sa‘id ibn Jabir saying that on the Day of ‘Arafah, Ibn ‘Abbas asked him, “Why is it that I do not hear the people saying the talbiyah (labbayk)?” Sa‘id ibn Jabir answered, “The people are afraid of Mu‘awiyah.” At that moment, Ibn ‘Abbas came out of his tent and defiantly said, “Labbayk! Allahumma Labbayk! (Here I am! O my Lord, here I am at Your service!).

I say this even though Mu‘awiyah hates it and becomes debased by it. O my Lord! Curse these people because they have forsaken and abandoned the Holy Prophet’s (S) way of life [Sunnah] because of their enmity towards ‘Ali.”(4)

On an authentic chain of transmission, Ibn Kathir narrates that Mu‘awiyah previously used to say the labbayk during the ‘isha’ prayers at ‘Arafah, but when he learned that ‘Ali also says the labbayk during the same

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1- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 307, hadith 862.
2- Durr al-Manthur, Suyuti, vol. 2, p. 477.
3- Surat al-Nisa’ 4:23.
4- Al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 2, p. 419, hadith 3993.

‘isha’ prayers, he immediately quit and abandoned it for the sake of opposing ‘Ali (as).(1)

Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan did this in spite of the fact that his actions were opposed to the clear tradition of the Holy Prophet (S). Fadl says, “The Holy Prophet (S) and I set off from ‘Arafat, and the Holy Prophet (S) kept saying the talbiyah until he started throwing stones at ‘Aqabah. He would say takbir (Allah-u Akbar) with every stone that he threw, but he did not stop saying the labbayk until he threw the last stone.”

Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, Usamah and Ibn ‘Abbas also narrate that the Holy Prophet (S) always continued to say labbayk until he threw stones at ‘Aqabah.(2)

Mu‘awiyah and abandonment of divine limits

Al-Mawardi and other transmitters of hadith have recounted that a number of thieves were brought before Mu‘awiyah for judgment. He cut the hands of all the thieves save one. Then, Mu‘awiyah said to the remaining thief, “I have cut the hands of all of your companions. What should I do with you?”

The mother of the thief whose hands had not yet been cut interjected and pleadingly said, “O Amir! Consider this to be one of those sins which you forgive.” Mu‘awiyah let the thief go free. This was the first Islamic injunction that was abandoned.(3)

The son of Abu Sufiyan did this despite the fact that, according to the explicit text of the Holy Qur’an, a man or woman who steals must have their hand cut off.

The Holy Qur’an says,

والسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَه فَاقطَعُوا أَیدِیهُمَا ...


p: 52

1- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 139; the events that occurred in the year 60 AH.
2- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 605, hadith 1602; Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 2, p. 1011, hadith 3039.
3- Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, vol. 2, p. 228; Tarikh ibn Kathir, vol. 8, p. 145; the events which occurred in the year 60 AH.

Man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands for what their hands have earned.”(1)

Therefore, in circumstances where all the evidence has been presented and guilt proven, no one has the right to overlook the limits set forth by Allah.

Allah, the Most High, says,

﴿ ... وَمَن یتَعَدَّ حُدُود اللهِ فَقَد ظَلَمَ نَفسَهُ ... ﴾

“And whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul.”(2)

Mu‘awiyah wore clothing that was prohibited

Abu Dawud quotes from Khalid, “Miqdam ibn Ma‘di Karb, ‘Amru ibn Aswad and a man of Bani Asad from the tribe of Qansarin went to see Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. Mu‘awiyah said to Miqdam, ‘Do you know that al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali has passed away?’ Miqdam quoted the Qur’anic verse that says we shall all return to Allah:

«إِنّا للهِ وَإِنّا إِلَیهِ راجِعُونَ »

“We are from Allah and to whom we shall return.”

Mu‘awiyah said, ‘Do you think al-Hasan death is a tragedy?’ Miqdam said, ‘Why should I not regard it as a tragedy when I know that the Holy Prophet used to put al-Hasan on his lap and say,

«هذا منّی وحسین من علی.»

“This one is from me and al-Husayn is from ‘Ali’.”

‘Umru ibn Aswad said, ‘He was a fire that Allah extinguished.’ Miqdam added, ‘But today will not pass until I bring you to anger because I must give you annoying news.’ Then he added, ‘O Mu‘awiyah! If I tell the truth, confirm what I say. And if I lie, refute what I say.’

Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘Say whatever you want to say.’


p: 53

1- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:38.
2- Surat al-Talaq 65:1.

continued, ‘I swear upon Allah! Are you aware of the fact that Allah’s Prophet (S) forbade men from wearing silk?’ Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan answered, ‘Yes.’ Miqdam said, ‘Do you not know that Allah’s Prophet forbade wearing leather made from wild carnivorous animals?’ Mu‘awiyah answered,

‘Yes, I know.’ Miqdam said, ‘I swear upon Allah that I have seen your household engaging in all these forbidden actions.’ Mu‘awiyah said, ‘I know that I cannot escape your accusations, O Miqdam’!”(1)

Ziyad attributed to Abu Sufiyan

Mu‘awiyah testified that Ziyad was the son of Abu Sufiyan, his father. Mu‘awiyah claimed that during the Age of Ignorance, his father had committed adultery with Sumayyah, the wife of ‘Ubayd. Mu‘awiyah claimed that Ziyad was born as a result of this sinful act. In order to prove his shameful claim, Mu‘awiyah relied on the testimony of Abi Maryam, a liquor seller who also acted as an intermediary for anyone who wanted to commit adultery.(2)

Mu‘awiyah claimed this child for his father paying no heed to the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) had said,

«الولد للفراش وللعاهر الحجر.»

“The child belongs to the owner of the bed, and is forbidden to the adulterer.”(3)

It has been narrated on another authentic chain of transmission that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«من ادّعی أباً فی الاسلام غیر أبیه فالجنّه علیه حرام.»

“Heaven is forbidden to anyone who falsely claims someone as his father.”(4)

In addition:

«لیس من رجل ادّعی بغیر ابیه وهو یعلم اِلاّ کفر، ومن ادّعی ما لیس له فلیس منّا.»

“Anyone who falsely claims that someone is his father, while he knows

p: 54

1- Abu Dawud, Sunan, vol. 4, p. 68, hadith 4131; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 5, p. 118, hadith 16738.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 220; Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 2; Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 5, p. 409.
3- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 6, p. 2499, hadith 6432; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 3, p. 256, hadith 37.
4- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 6, p. 17, hadith 19883, 19953; Bayhaqi, Sunan, vol. 7, p. 403.

that it is not true has become an unbeliever [kafir] and anyone who claims something that does not belong to him is not from us.”(1)

This issue has been reported in many other credible Sunni books of hadith.

Coercion used to get allegiance for Yazid

One of Mu‘awiyah’s transgressions which was a clear violation of Islamic law, common logic and societal mores was getting allegiance from the people for his son Yazid by force and coercion. This allegiance was opposed by the council of elders which, according to Sunni traditional practice, is charged with the duty of choosing and appointing the next caliph after the death of the previous one.

This unlawful allegiance was also opposed by the Immigrants [muhajirin], the Helpers [ansar], and the eminent of the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions [sahabah]. It was an allegiance that was obtained by the use of force and the sword. It was an allegiance characterized by intimidation, threats and terror, on the one hand, and bribery and extortion, on the other. Worshippers of the carnal passions were paid to give allegiance to Yazid.

Ibn Kathir says, “In the fifty sixth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah called upon the people of Sham to pay allegiance to his son Yazid. This made his wicked son the crown prince and heir apparent after his death.”(2)

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr and other narrators of hadith have recounted that Mu‘awiyah read a sermon for the people of Sham, and in the middle of the sermon, said, “O people of Sham! My age has increased and my death has

p: 55

1- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, p. 1292, hadith 3317; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 1, p. 113, hadith 112.
2- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 86; the events which occurred in the year 56 AH.

drawn near. I want to arrange an agreement for the caliphate and leave someone in my place so that he may bring about order and discipline for you. Surely, I am one of you and I am concerned about your affairs. Please tell me your suggestions.”

The people came together and after consulting one another, said, “We are pleased with ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Khalid ibn Walid, one of the Prophet’s companions.”

This suggestion was unbearably painful for the son of Abu Sufiyan, but he kept his displeasure hidden in his heart. One day, ‘Abd al-Rahman became ill. Mu‘awiyah had a private Jewish doctor whom he held in high respect.

He instructed this Jewish doctor to go to visit ‘Abd al-Rahman and give him a specific poison that would kill him. The Jew did as he was ordered, and gave the liquid poison to ‘Abd al-Rahman. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s stomach was torn apart, resulting in his death.(1)

Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan committed this dishonorable act of murder and assassination in order to secure the caliphate for his son Yazid.

Mu‘awiyah’s rebellion against the righteous leader

Another one of Mu‘awiyah’s disobedient acts was rebellion against the rightful and legitimate Imam of the Time, Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as). Mu‘awiyah rebelled against the Imam who, besides being explicitly appointed by Allah and His Prophet (S) to be Imam and caliph for the Muslims, had also gotten unanimous allegiance from the Islamic community.

Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan used the pretext that he wanted to avenge the death of ‘Uthman in order to bring about sedition and disturbances in

p: 56

1- Al-Isti‘ab, no. 1402; Al-Aghani, vol. 16, p. 209.

the Islamic community and with the purpose of seizing power and transferring control from Medina to Sham, he initiated the Battle of Siffin.

He did this despite the fact that, according to Sunni hadiths, the Holy Prophet (S) had absolutely forbidden Muslims from rebelling and rising up in arms against the Imam of the Time.

Muslim recounts that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

من خلع یداً من طاعه لقی الله یوم القیامه ولا حجّه له، ومن مات ولیس فی عنقه بیعه مات میته جاهلیه.

“A person who quits obeying the Muslim caliph will meet Allah on the Day of Judgment having no plea for himself, and anyone who dies without paying allegiance to the Imam of his time has died the death of a kafir [unbeliever] of the Age of Ignorance.”(1)

Mu‘awiyah’s heinous crimes against the Shi‘ahs

Starting from the thirty ninth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan started to carry out widespread terrorist attacks on the Shi‘ahs of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as). He dispatched cruel and irreligious people to attack the Shi‘ahs. He intended to subdue Imam ‘Ali’s followers by sending gangs of faithless people to invade and attack anyone under the protection of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) government.

1. He sent Nu‘man ibn Bashir with a thousand people to crush and terrorize the people of ‘Ayn al-Tamar.

2. He sent Sufiyan ibn ‘Awf with six thousand men to suppress the people of Hit. After that, he sent them to Anbar and Mada’in for more acts of terror and plunder.

3. Mu‘awiyah sent a sworn enemy of Imam ‘Ali (as) by

p: 57

1- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 4, p. 126, hadith 58, Kitab al-Amarah.

the name of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘adah ibn Hikmah Fazari with one thousand seven hundred men to attack the people of Tayma’.

4. He sent Dahhak ibn Qays with three thousand armed men to Upper Mesopotamia to plunder and loot the possessions of anyone known to be a follower and Shi‘ah of Imam ‘Ali (as). To counter this cowardly act of Mu‘awiyah, Imam ‘Ali (as) sent Hujr ibn ‘Uday with four thousand men to resist and confront this army.

5. Mu‘awiyah sent ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qubath ibn Ushaym with a group of men to the land of the Arabian Peninsula. Imam ‘Ali (as) sent Kumayl to counter and resist their forces.

6. He sent Harath ibn Namr Tanukhi to the Arabian Peninsula to suppress anyone known to be a follower and Shi‘ah of Imam ‘Ali (as). Many people were killed in this confrontation.(1)

7. In the fortieth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah sent Busr ibn Artat with an army to Mecca, Medina and Yemen. When Busr ibn Artat reached Medina, Imam ‘Ali’s (as) agent and governor in Medina ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas was forced to flee to Kufah to join and be under the protection of Imam ‘Ali (as). However, Busr martyred two of ‘Ubayd Allah’s children who had remained behind in Medina.(2)

Another place that was plundered by Busr was an area inhabited by a tribe from Hamadan that were Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). Busr made a surprise attack on them. He killed many of their men, and took a large number

p: 58

1- Al-Aghani, vol. 15, p. 44; Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 10, p. 152; Al-Isti‘ab vol. 1, p. 65; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 134; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 425.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 139; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 425; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 10, p. 152; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 7, p. 356.

of their women and children into captivity. This was the first time in the history of Islam up to that time that Muslim women and children had been taken into captivity.(1)

Mas‘udi says, “Busr ibn Artat killed a large number of people who came from Khuza‘ah, Hamadan and an area called “al-Anba’” who were people of Iranian origin living in Yemen. He killed anyone he suspected of being inclined to ‘Ali (as).”(2)

Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “Busr descended upon the people of Hasban. They were all Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). He entered into a vicious conflict with them and killed them savagely. After leaving that place, he went towards San‘a, where he killed a hundred elderly men originating from Persia. The only crime they were guilty of committing was that two children of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas had hidden in a home belonging to a woman of their clan.

In his wild and brutal attacks on the Shi‘ahs, Busr killed about thirty thousand people in all. He even burnt a number of them alive.”(3)

Ibn Abi al-Hadid further writes, “In a letter addressed to all his government workers, Mu‘awiyah wrote, ‘Do not give permission to anyone of ‘Ali’s followers or descendants to testify their faith. On the other hand, respect and protect the followers of ‘Uthman.’ In another letter addressed to his subordinates, he wrote: ‘Erase the names of those who are proven to love ‘Ali and his Ahl al-Bayt from the register, and stop giving them their share of stipends from the

p: 59

1- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 5, p. 11.
2- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 22.
3- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 1, pp. 116-121.

Islamic treasury.’

In a postscript to this letter, the son of Abu Sufiyan wrote, ‘Anyone who is accused of loving the Ahl al-Bayt must be arrested and his house destroyed.’ The people who suffered most as a result of these orders were people of Iraq, especially the people of Kufah…”(1)

Mu‘awiyah’s crimes after the peace settlement

When Imam al-Hasan (as) was obliged to compromise and make peace with Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan, he felt great concern for the safety of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) followers.

It was for this reason that, in his peace agreement with Mu‘awiyah, Imam al-Hasan (as) stressed that Imam ‘Ali’s followers (as) must be guaranteed truce and safety. Mu‘awiyah agreed to this demand, but he had other plans in mind. In a clear act of treachery, he announced that he was not committed to the agreement and would not follow it.

He said, “The agreement I made with al-Hasan is null and void. It lies trampled under my feet.” What aggravates the repugnancy of his actions is that Mu‘awiyah committed himself to breaching the peace settlement on the very same day of signing it, in spite of having earlier promised to be faithful to the pact.

Ibn Abi al-Hadid quotes from Abi al-Hasan Mada’ini, “In a letter to his governors general, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan wrote, ‘I have discharged myself from obligation to anyone who recounts hadith in praise of the virtues of Abu Turab [Imam ‘Ali] and his Ahl al-Bayt.’ After this command, his governors gave orders to all the public speakers employed by

p: 60

1- Ibid., vol. 11, pp. 44-45.

the government to start reviling Imam ‘Ali (as) and making derogatory and defamatory comments about his Ahl al-Bayt (as) from the pulpits.

The people of Kufah were the most seriously affected by this calamity because at that time Kufah was inhabited by a large number of the Shi‘ahs. Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan appointed Ziyad to be the governor general of Kufah and Basrah.

Ziyad knew the Shi‘ahs very well. Acting on orders from Mu‘awiyah, he either killed or terrorized them wherever he could find them. After cutting off their hands and legs and removing their eyes from their sockets, he would hang their bodies from a scaffold. He also forcefully exiled a large number of them from Iraq.”(1)

Ibn A‘tham writes, “Ziyad was constantly searching for the Shi‘ahs. He put most of them under state surveillance. He would kill them wherever he could find them, to such an extent that he killed a large number of them. He also cut their legs off and made them blind. Of course, Mu‘awiyah himself killed a lot of the Shi‘ahs with his own hands, too.”(2)

Mu‘awiyah himself gave direct orders for the hanging of a large number of the Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). Another of Ziyad’s contemptible tactics was to gather the Shi‘ahs in mosques and force them to show hatred and disrespect towards Imam ‘Ali (as).(3)

In Basrah, also, Ibn Ziyad was constantly searching for ‘Ali’s (as) followers with the intention of killing them. A large number of the Holy Prophet’s (S) renowned companions

p: 61

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 11, p. 44.
2- Al-Futuh, vol. 4, p. 203.
3- Al-Mahbar, p. 479.

and tabi‘in were martyred by the direct command of Mu‘awiyah because they loved ‘Ali (as) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).(1)

In the year 53 AH, Hujr ibn ‘Uday and his companions were killed on direct orders from Mu‘awiyah. Hujr ibn ‘Uday and his companions were the first people in the history of Islam that were killed by means of ‘patience towards death’.(2)

‘Amru ibn Humaq Khuza‘i, named “the Master of Martyrs” by Imam al-Husayn (as), was killed by Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. Mu‘awiyah deceived him by promising to provide him with safety and then turned against him and, in a clear act of betrayal, killed him.(3)

Mu‘awiyah is also guilty of killing Malik ibn Ashtar, one of the Arab nobles and a great and revered man in Islamic history. Malik ibn Ashtar was one of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) bravest commanders. Mu‘awiyah killed him with poison that was given to him by one of his traitorous slaves while on his way to Egypt.(4)

Ziyad once requested one of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) special students named Rashid al-Hijri to curse and disown Imam ‘Ali (as). Rashid al-Hijri flatly refused to do it. As a result, Ziyad cut both his hands, both legs, and his tongue, and then hung his body from a scaffold.(5)

Juwayriyyah ibn Mashar al-‘Abdi was arrested for the crime of accepting the wilayah (spiritual and temporal guardianship) of Imam ‘Ali (as). His body was hung from a date tree after his hands and legs were cut off.

Mu‘awiyah himself cursed Imam ‘Ali (as)

As long as the Holy Prophet (S) was alive,

p: 62

1- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 9, p. 88.
2- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 3; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 642.
3- Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 4, p. 34.
4- Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 91.
5- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 294.

Bani Hashim and Imam ‘Ali (as) holding the foremost position among them, were held in great honor and high respect, but soon after the death of the Holy Prophet (S), hostilities and enmities began to appear. These antagonisms were especially directed towards Imam ‘Ali (as).

These enmities reached their climax during the reign of Bani Umayyah especially under the leadership of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.

Mu‘awiyah could not content himself with only going to war with Imam ‘Ali (as) for the sake of seizing and usurping the caliphate, an action that made him acquire the title “oppressor” with regard to Imam ‘Ali (as) even in the view of Sunni Muslims; in addition, he started cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpits in a very public manner. This custom continued to prevail up to the time of the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz who finally gave orders to discontinue the custom.

Mu‘awiyah’s purpose for annihilating Bani Hashim


By trying to eliminate Bani Hashim, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan was endeavoring to achieve two main aims: one of his goals was to annihilate the very roots of the religion and in this way nip Islam in the bud.

The other objective was to avenge the blood of his polytheist forefathers and the other elders of Bani Umayyah who had been sent to perdition by the holy sword of Imam ‘Ali (as). It was for this reason that during the Battle of Siffin, Imam ‘Ali (as) refused to allow anyone of the family members of Bani Hashim to enter the

p: 63

battlefield and gave orders preventing them from engaging in one on one battle with the enemy.(1)

Apart from employing savage methods, including assassination, terrorism, imposition of wars on his enemies, plunder and robbery, Mu‘awiyah also engaged in other tactics with the aim of annihilating and destroying Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

We will now mention some of these tactics:

a. Obstruction of knowledge of the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

In his book called “Al-Ihdath”, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ‘Abd Allah Mada’ini writes, “After usurping the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah announced to all his government officials and workers that for anyone that recounted the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or praised his household, neither his life nor his property would be secure.”(2)

b. Initiating enmity and cursing of Imam ‘Ali (as)

The insurgence that took place against ‘Uthman was, in all truth, a peoples’ revolt and uprising. The people came to Medina from all the corners of the Islamic world except Sham and Hams, because these lands were under the control of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.

The injustice, intimidation and oppression imposed upon the people by ‘Uthman’s government officials had caused a state of complete annoyance and utter frustration among the common people. It was this weariness of harassment which persuaded them to revolt and rebel and this insurgency led to the death of ‘Uthman.(3)

After ‘Uthman’s death, Nu‘man ibn Bashir Ansari took ‘Uthman’s blood soaked shirt to Sham.(4) Mu‘awiyah was quick to exploit this opportunity. He gave orders that this shirt must be hung on the pulpit of the Sham’s A‘zam Mosque.

White haired old men were either compelled by force or paid to gather

p: 64

1- Nasr ibn Muzahim, Waqa‘atu Siffin, pp. 462-463.
2- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 3, p. 15.
3- Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 5, pp. 59-60; Tarikh-e Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 150.
4- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 562.

and hold mourning ceremonies next to the shirt. They continued mourning in this way for over one year. News of the event reached all the cities and towns that were under the domain of Mu‘awiyah.(1)

In his first speech after this event, Mu‘awiyah endeavored to portray ‘Uthman as an innocent martyr and introduced Imam ‘Ali (as) as the responsible party for ‘Uthman’s death. From then on, Mu‘awiyah’s politics took the form of creating unfounded charges against Imam ‘Ali (as). On a daily basis, he sketched new plans to cause spite, animosity and malevolence against Imam ‘Ali (as).(2)

The people of Sham and Hams were bombarded with heavy propaganda as regards the issue of ‘Uthman’s death. Imam ‘Ali (as) was being used as a scapegoat for a killing which he had personally renounced and condemned. The issue of revenge was falsely presented under the guise of religion.

The plea that the caliph had been oppressed and unjustly killed excited the emotions and sentiments of the common people. Some who were gullible to state propaganda believed the lie and thus the people’s feelings and emotions were vehemently raised against the people of Kufah and Imam ‘Ali (as).

Mu‘awiyah and the Umayyad government did not stop at this in their devious propaganda games, but undertook all possible means to cause lasting hatred and animosity against Imam ‘Ali (as). They hoped to gain maximum benefit from the people of these two large provinces by resorting to such tactics.

‘Amir, the son of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas recounts, “One day

p: 65

1- Waq‘atu Siffin, p. 127; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 562.
2- Waq‘atu Siffin, pp. 31-32, 127-128.

Mu‘awiyah invited my father to his palace and said to him, ‘Why don’t you curse and insult Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali)?’ Sa‘d said, ‘As long as I remember the three things which the Holy Prophet (S) said in favor of him, I will never say anything unpleasant against ‘Ali.

This is because if anyone of those three things had been said about me, it would be far more beloved for me than owning a host of fine red camels. During one of the battles, Allah’s Prophet (S) appointed ‘Ali (as) to be his representative in Medina. ‘Ali said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Are you appointing me to be your representative and deputy among the women and children?’

The Holy Prophet (as) answered, ‘Are you not pleased that with respect to me you hold the position which Harun (Aaron) held with respect to Musa (Moses), with the exception that there will not be a Prophet after me?’ Secondly, on the day of Khaybar, I heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying, ‘I will give the Islamic banner and commandership to a man who loves Allah and the Prophet dearly and whom Allah and the Prophet also love very much.’ We all waited anxiously and were turning our heads to see who that lucky person was.

Then, the Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Tell ‘Ali to come here.’ They brought ‘Ali forward and it became clear that he had sore eyes. The Holy Prophet (S) took some saliva from his mouth and rubbed it

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in ‘Ali’s eyes. ‘Ali (as) instantly got well. Then, Allah’s Prophet (S) gave the Islamic banner to ‘Ali and through him Allah bestowed conquest and sweet victory for the Muslims.

Thirdly, when the following verse was revealed, Allah’s Prophet (S) called ‘Ali (as), Fatimah (as), al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as). Then, he said, ‘O Allah! These people are the ones who belong to me’.”(1)

... فَقَُل تَعالَوا نَدعُ أَبناءَنا وَأَبناءَکُم...

“And whoever disputes with you after what has come to you of the knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars…”(2)

‘Ali ibn Muhammad Mada’ini recounts, “After usurping the government and gaining control of the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah wrote orders to all his officials and agents that he was not duty-bound to provide protection or security to anyone who recounted any of the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or narrated favorable hadiths about his household members.

Mu‘awiyah commanded that the blood and property of such people should be taken without impunity. Government appointed speakers began distancing themselves from Imam ‘Ali (as), cursing him and speaking ill of his household in every community and from every pulpit.”(3)

Ya‘qubi writes, “Whenever some Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as), among them Hujr ibn ‘Uday and ‘Amru ibn al-Himaq Khuza‘i, heard Mugha­yrah ibn Shu‘bah and his likes cursing Imam ‘Ali (as), they would arise and

p: 67

1- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 7, pp. 120-121; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, pp. 108-109.
2- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:61.
3- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 11, p. 44.

cast the curses back at them.”(1)

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as), Mu‘awiyah intended to go to Mecca for the hajj. He first went to Medina. There, he requested to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.

The people told him that Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was present in the city and that it was very unlikely that he would be pleased or ascent to such an act. The son of Abu Sufiyan then sent someone to ask Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas for permission to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.

Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas replied, “If you do such a thing, I will leave this Mosque forever and never return to it at all!” As long as Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was the governor of the holy city of Medina, Mu‘awiyah restrained himself from cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) in Medina.

After the death of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan started cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) again and wrote letters to his officials commanding them to revile Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpits. They did as they were ordered. Umm Salamah, one of the Prophet’s (S) wives, wrote a letter to Mu‘awiyah complaining that Mu‘awiyah and his agents were cursing Allah and his Prophet (S) from their pulpits because of their cursing of ‘Ali (as) and those who love him. She declared, “I bear witness that Allah and his Prophet (S) love ‘Ali.” Mu‘awiyah did not pay the least attention to this letter.(2)


p: 68

1- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 205.
2- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 4, p. 159.

narrates, “Verily, at the end of his sermons Mu‘awiyah always used to say, ‘O Allah! Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) has become an apostate and a hindrance in the way towards you. Therefore, curse him and punish him with painful chastisement.’ He wrote these words and sent them to all the horizons of the Muslim World to be repeated by his agents and public speakers. This curse continued to be said on the pulpits up to the reign of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz.

Some members of Bani Umayyah told Mu‘awiyah, ‘O Amir! You have attained your ambitions and worldly desires. Why don’t you stop cursing this man?’ Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘I swear by Allah that I will not stop reviling him until I am assured that all the newborn children are brought up on the custom of cursing him, and likewise, all the old ones become grey-haired while vilifying him. I want to make sure that no one ever remembers him kindly’.”(1)

Zamakhshari narrates, “During the days of the reign of Bani Umayyah, and in accordance with Mu‘awiyah’s custom, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) was cursed and reviled from more than seventy pulpits.”(2)

Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri recounts, “Mu‘awiyah appointed Mugha­yrah ibn Shu‘bah to be the governor of Kufah. Mugha­yrah kept this post for nine years… and he was never negligent in his duty of slandering and vilifying ‘Ali (as).”(3)

Hakim al-Neyshaburi narrates from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah used to insult Imam ‘Ali (as). He even appointed and delegated people to carry

p: 69

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, pp. 56-57, sermon [khutbah] 56.
2- Rabi‘ al-Abrar, vol. 2, p. 186.
3- Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 5, p. 252; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 254; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 488.

out this task.(1)

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Abi Malikah recounts that a man from Sham vilified and used insulting language against ‘Ali (as) in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbas. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “O enemy of Allah! You have wronged the Holy Prophet (S). Do you not know that Allah has said,

﴿ إِنَّ الَّذِینَ یؤذُونَ اللهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللهُ فِی الدُّنیا وَالآخِرَهِ وَأَعَدِّ لَهُم عَذَاباً مُهِیناً ﴾

‘Surely, as for those who speak evil things of Allah and His Apostle, Allah has cursed them in this world and the hereafter, and He has prepared for them a disgraceful chastisement’.”(2)

Then, Ibn ‘Abbas added, “If the Holy Prophet (S) were alive today, he would be annoyed by your conduct.”(3)

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Baylamani says, “I was in the presence of Mu‘awiyah when a man stood up and started flinging abuses at Imam ‘Ali (as) one after the other. Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil stood up and protested, saying, ‘O Mu‘awiyah! Do I have to endure the pain of hearing them slandering ‘Ali (as) without you showing any indignation at it? Verily, I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) saying,

«هو منّی بمنزله هارون من موسی.»

‘Ali is to me what Aaron was to Moses’.”(4)

Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim Mazani, “When Mu‘awiyah left Kufah, he appointed Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah to be his agent there. Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah appointed speakers to curse and slander ‘Ali (as). Mazani says, ‘I was seated next to Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil. I noticed that he had got very

p: 70

1- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 509, hadith 5898; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 31.
2- Surat al-Ahzab 33:57.
3- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 138, hadith 4618.
4- Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunnah, p. 588, hadith 1350.


When I asked him why, he got my hand and took me to a corner. Then, he asked me, ‘Don’t you see that this man is committing injustice against himself by cursing ‘Ali (as), a man whose place is in paradise’”(1)

Ibn Abi al-Hadid relates that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah, Mu‘awiyah’s governor and agent in Kufah, commanded Hujr ibn ‘Uday to stand up and curse ‘Ali (as) in the presence of all the people. Hujr ibn ‘Uday refused. Mughayrah intimidated and threatened him with punitive action if he did not do as he had been ordered. Hujr ibn ‘Uday stood up and said to the people, “Your leader has commanded me to curse ‘Ali (as); therefore, curse him.”

The people of Kufah said, “O Allah! Curse him.” Of course, the people’s curse was meant for Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah himself.(2)

The Holy Prophet (S) forbade the cursing ‘Ali (as)

1. The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«لاتسبّوا علیاً؛ فانّه کان ممسوساً فی ذات الله عزّ وجلّ.»

“Do not curse ‘Ali, because he is heedless of any dangers in the way of Allah.”(3)

2. The Holy Prophet (S) also said,

«من سبّ علیاً فقد سبّنی، ومن سبّنی فقد سبّ الله تعالی.»

“Whoever vilifies ‘Ali has certainly vilified me. And whoever curses me has without doubt cursed Allah.”(4)

3. He also said,

«عادی اللهُ من عادی علیاً.»

“O Allah! Hate anyone who hates ‘Ali.”(5)

4. Hakim al-Neyshaburi recounts that Abi ‘Abd Allah said, “One day I went to see Umm Salamah. She asked me, ‘Do you curse the Holy Prophet (S) among yourselves?’ I said, ‘I seek refuge in Allah’ or ‘Glory be to

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1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 400, hadith 1644.
2- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, p. 58.
3- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 19, p. 148; Hiliyah al-Awliya’, vol. 1, p. 68.
4- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 131.
5- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 11, p. 601, hadith 32899.

Allah’, or a similar phrase. Umm Salamah then said, ‘On several occasions I heard the Holy Prophet (S) say:

«من سبّ علیاً فقد سبّنی.»

‘Whoever curses ‘Ali has certainly cursed me’.”(1)

The judgment for anyone who curses Imam ‘Ali (as)

1. On his own chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi narrates from Umm Salamah that the Holy Prophet (S) always used to say,

«لا یحبّ علیاً منافقٌ ولا یبغضه مؤمنٌ.»

“No hypocrite loves ‘Ali, and no believer hates ‘Ali.”(2)

2. Al-Tirmidhi also recounts that Imam ‘Ali (S) said,

«لقد عهد الی النبی الأمی صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیهِ وآله: انّه لا یحبّک الاّ مؤمنٌ، ولا یبغضک الاّ منافقٌ.»

“Verily, the unlettered Prophet (S) gave me a firm promise when he said that no one will love you except a true believer; and no one will hate you except a hypocrite.”(3)

Another hadith narrated by Muslim confirms the above-mentioned hadith.(4)

3. Al-Tirmidhi relates that Abu Sa‘id said,

«انّا کنّا لنعرف المنافقین _ نحن معشر الانصار _ ببغضهم علی بن ابی طالب.»

“Indeed, the Helpers [ansar], used to recognize and distinguish who the hypocrites were by observing who hated ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).”(5)

The Illegitimacy of Yazid’s Caliphate


Some misguided traditionalists and historians have attempted to portray Yazid’s caliphate and government as legitimate according to Islam. They have endeavored to demonstrate that the people pledged allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.

By doing so, they try to make Yazid’s government appear acceptable. At the same time, they try to show Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid to be an illegitimate rebellion that was against the common will of the people. In this section, we substantiate the falsity of these claims, but

p: 72

1- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 130, hadith 4615.
2- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 635, hadith 3717; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 10, p. 176, hadith 26569.
3- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 635, hadith 3717; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 10, p. 176, hadith 26569.
4- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 1, p. 86, hadith 78.
5- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 635, hadith 3717.

first we mention some of the statements made in support of Yazid.

Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi writes, “The allegiance paid to Yazid was legally concluded, because one man paid allegiance to him, even though that one man was his father, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.”(1)

Muhibb al-Din Khatib writes, “Yazid was just, vigilant and perseverant in prayer. He used to perform good deeds. He always enforced the Prophet’s (S) Sunnah and was very attached to it.”(2)

Ibn al-‘Arabi also writes, “Anyone who went to war against al-Husayn did so with the emphatic recommendation of his ancestor the Prophet (S). They say that the Prophet (S) said, ‘Kill by the sword anyone who wants to sow discord and division in the Islamic community [ummah], no matter whom it may be’.”(3)

Ibn Khaldun has said, “Al-Husayn was killed by his grandfather’s sword.”(4)

Muhammad Abu al-Yasr ‘Abidin, the Mufti of Sham, says, “The Allegiance paid to Yazid was legal and legitimate. Therefore, whoever rebelled against him was an insurgent.”(5)

Abul Khayr Shafi‘i Qazvini writes, “Yazid was an imam and a supreme religious jurisprudent [mujtahid].”(6)

We will now survey and discuss the legitimacy of Yazid’s claim to the caliphate.

Evidence regarding the illegitimacy of Yazid’s caliphate

Supporters of Bani Umayyah and Yazid’s partisans among some Islamic sects have been persistent in trying to portray the issue of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid as a rebellion against a legitimate Muslim caliph whose allegiance and caliphate was concluded in a correct and unflawed manner.

By this means, they have striven to depict Imam al-Husayn (as) as an insurgent who rebelled against

p: 73

1- Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, Al-‘Awasim min al-Qawahim, p. 222.
2- Muhibb al-Din Khatib, Al-Khutut al-‘Aridah, p. 232.
3- Al-‘Awasim min al-Qawahim, Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, p. 222.
4- Manawi, Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 1, p. 265, vol. 5, p. 213; The Introduction of Ibn Khaldun, p. 181.
5- Aghalit al-Muwarikhin, p. 120.
6- Tarajum Rijal al-Gharnayn, Al-Sadis wa al-Sabi‘, p. 6.

the “rightful Imam” of the time. They have asserted that Yazid only intended to protect his legitimately acquired position when he brutally massacred Imam al-Husayn (as) and all his companions at Karbala.

In fact, however, the reality is quite the opposite. The real imam and caliph was Imam al-Husayn (as). His Imamate and caliphate were sanctioned by Allah and the Holy Prophet (S). It was actually Yazid who secured the caliphate by means of usurpation and extortion.

Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah’s caliphate, in fact, lacked any legitimacy. Therefore, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid was not only legitimate and rational, but also an obligatory and binding duty upon Imam al-Husayn (as) as well. Evidence for these assertions follows:

1. The Imamate of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as)

In a sound and well-established hadith recounted by successive witnesses among the Sunnis, the Holy Prophet (S) explicitly mentioned the Twelve Imams who would come after him and introduced them as the rightful caliphs.

Jabir ibn Samrah recounts, “I heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying, ‘As long as the Twelve Caliphs govern, Islam will always be honored.’ Then, he said something I did not understand clearly. I asked my father, ‘What has the Prophet just said?’ My father answered, ‘They will all belong to the tribe of Quraysh’.”(1)

On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari, too, quotes from Jabir ibn Samrah that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “They will be twelve Amirs (leaders). Then he said something that I did not hear properly. My father said, ‘They will all belong to the tribe of Quraysh’.”(2)

With recourse to

p: 74

1- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 6, p. 3, Kitab al-Amarah.
2- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 8, p. 127, Bab al-Istikhlaf.

the Hadith al-Thaqalayn, we understand that these twelve people are of the Prophet’s (S) Household. With attention to the Hadith Ghadir al-Khumm, we come to know that the first of them is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). All the hadiths mentioned above were quoted from the Holy Prophet (S) during the same period of time and can therefore be used to interpret each other, especially when it is born in mind that, according to other hadiths, the names of these twelve people were explicitly mentioned by the Holy Prophet (S).

In the book “Fara’id al-Samtayn”, Hamawayni recounts on his own chain of transmission from Ibn ‘Abbas that a Jewish person named Na‘thal was granted an audience by the Holy Prophet (S). Na‘thal asked him, “O Muhammad! I will ask you a number of questions about certain issues that have remained hidden in my heart for a long time. If you answer them all, I will believe in you.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said to him, “Ask O Aba ‘Amarah!” One of the questions which the Jew asked was this, “Inform me about who will be the inheritor and executor of your will after your death? I am asking this question because there has never been a prophet who died and did not leave behind an administrator for himself.

Indeed, our Prophet, Musa ibn ‘Imran left Yusha‘ ibn Nun to be his administrator.” The Holy Prophet (S) answered, “Verily, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is my inheritor and the administrator of my will.

p: 75

After him, I will be succeeded by my descendants al-Hasan and al-Husayn; and after these two, there will come nine Imams one after another (in successive order) from the loins of al-Husayn.” Na‘thal said, “O Muhammad! Mention their names to me.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said, “After al-Husayn, his son ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, then Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, then his son Ja‘far ibn Muhammad, then his son Musa ibn Ja‘far, then his son ‘Ali ibn Musa, and after him his son Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, and after him his son ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, and then Hasan ibn ‘Ali and his son, the final and ultimate proof of Allah upon mankind, Muhammad Mahdi ibn al-Hasan will be the last Imam. These are the twelve people who will succeed me.”(1)

These twelve people have also been clearly mentioned in other hadiths.(2)

In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (S) has said,

الحسن والحسین إماما أمتی بعد أبیهما.

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two Imams of my Islamic community [ummah] after their father.”(3)

Therefore, if Imam al-Husayn (as) is the rightful imam and caliph nominated and appointed by the Holy Prophet (S) himself, it follows that Yazid’s caliphate is illegitimate and invalid.

2. Imam al-Husayn’s (as) infallibility

Imam al-Husayn (as) is one of the people included in the ‘Verse of Purification’ [Ayah al-Tathir] of the Holy Qur’an. Therefore, he is free of any sort of sin, error or forgetfulness. Imam al-Husayn (as) cannot commit any sort of wrongdoing because he has been purified of sin by the Almighty Allah.

On his chain of transmission, Muslim quotes ‘A’ishah recounting, “One

p: 76

1- Hamawayni, Fara‘id al-Samtayn, vol. 2, p. 132; Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, vol. 3, pp. 281-282.
2- Ibid.
3- Hamawayni, Fara‘id al-Samtayn, vol. 1, p. 55.

morning Allah’s Prophet (S) left my house carrying a piece of cloth made from raw wool on his shoulders. Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, al-Husayn, Fatimah and ‘Ali all came to join the Prophet (S) in the order mentioned. Then, he recited this verse,

﴿ اِنَّما یریدُ اللهُ لِیذهِبَ عَنکُمُ الرِّجسَ أَهلَ البَیتِ وَیطَهِّرَکُم تَطهیرا ﴾

“Allah only desires to keep away uncleanness from you, O people of the house, and to purify you a thorough purifying.”(1) (2)

If, as reported in these hadith from Sunni sources, Imam al-Husayn (as) is purified of sin, or infallible, it follows that his uprising is correct and justified. It also implies that the government of Yazid was not credible.f

3. Allah’s Prophet (S) is pleased with al-Husayn (as)

On his own chain of transmission, Tabarani narrates from Rib‘i ibn Harash that Imam ‘Ali (as) said, “I visited the Holy Prophet (S) one day while he had spread a piece of cloth on the ground. The Prophet, Fatimah, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and I sat together on that piece of cloth. Then, the Holy Prophet (S) picked up the corners of the cloth and spread it over all of us. After that, he said,

«اللّهم ارضَ عنهم کما أنا راضٍ عنهم.»

‘O Allah! Be pleased with these people in the same way that I am pleased with them!’”(3)

Haythami has recounted this hadith in his book “Majma‘ al-Zawa’id”. He says, “Tabarani has narrated this hadith in the book “Al-Awsat”. All the people mentioned on this chain of transmission are well known for transmitting authentic hadith, while ‘Ubayd ibn Tufayl, one of the transmitters mentioned

p: 77

1- Surat al-Ahzab 33:33.
2- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 7, p. 130.
3- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 169.

on this channel, is reliable and trustworthy [thaqah].”(1)

We can understand from this hadith that the Holy Prophet (S) is pleased with Imam al-Husayn (as) and, as a result of this pleasure, makes a supplication in his favor. We also know that Allah, the High, certainly accepts the Holy Prophet’s (S) prayers and supplications; therefore, it follows that Allah is certainly pleased with Imam al-Husayn (as).

We can deduce that Imam al-Husayn’s uprising and revolt against Yazid was also a source of pleasure for Allah. This point casts more doubt upon the legitimacy of Yazid’s claim for caliphate.

4. al-Husayn (as), the master of the youths of Paradise

Abu Sa‘id recounts that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«الحسن والحسین سیدا شباب أهل الجنّه.»

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two leaders of the youths of paradise.”(2)

Al-Tirmidhi believes that this hadith is sound and correct, and al-Albani agrees with him.(3)

If Imam al-Husayn (as), according to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (S), is the master of the youths of Paradise, then it follows that all his actions and works in this world, including rising up against Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, are pleasing to Allah. Again, the legitimacy of Yazid’s caliphate becomes subject to question and doubt.

5. The continuity and stability of the Prophet’s (S) mission depended heavily on al-Husayn’s (as) uprising

On his own chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi narrates from Ya‘la ibn Marrah that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«حسین منّی وأنا من حسین.»

“Al-Husayn is from me and I am from al-Husayn.”(4)

It is clear that Imam al-Husayn (as) comes from the Prophet (S) because he is the Holy Prophet’s (S) grandson born from his daughter Fatimah (as). However, what is the meaning of the

p: 78

1- Ibid.
2- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 3, pp. 3, 62, 64, 82; Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 321; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, pp. 154, 166-167.
3- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 321; Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, vol. 2, p. 423, no. 796.
4- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 324.

second part of the Prophet’s (S) saying that he is from al-Husayn (as)?

We can positively assert through examination of the results of his uprising that Imam al-Husayn (as) revived the Prophet’s (S) mission by rising up against Yazid. His martyrdom and the martyrdom of the youths of Bani Hashim and all his companions kept the true message of the Holy Prophet (S) alive.

The survival of the religion of Islam and the continuity of the Holy Prophet’s (S) mission were secured by Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising. Therefore, it can be said that the Holy Prophet’s (S) characteristics is dependent on Imam al-Husayn’s (as).

Al-Tirmidhi considered the previously mentioned hadith of the Prophet (S) to be good [hasan].(1) After recounting this hadith, Hakim al-Neyshaburi has also presented its sound and correct chain of transmission [sahih al-asnad], and Dhahabi agrees with him.(2)

In his book entitled “Misbah al-Zajajah fi Zawa’id ibn Majah”, Busayri says that the chain of transmission of this hadith is good [hasan] and the transmitters recounting it are all honest and trustworthy [thaqah].(3)

After narrating this hadith, Haythami says that its chain of transmission is good [hasan].(4)

6. Peace treaty with Imam al-Hasan and the caliphate

The conditions that Mu‘awiyah ibn Abi Sufiyan accepted in the peace agreement he signed with Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) are worthy of careful thought and consideration.

Mu‘awiyah had mentioned certain conditions in his proposal for peace, and Imam al-Hasan (as) added other conditions.(5) Among the items that were agreed upon was a stipulation that Imam al-Hasan (as) would cede the caliphate to Mu‘awiyah on the condition that,

p: 79

1- Ibid.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 177.
3- Misbah al-Zajajah, vol. 1, p. 85.
4- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 181.
5- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 124.

when Mu‘awiyah died, the caliphate would be handed back to Imam al-Hasan (as).

In the event that Imam al-Hasan (as) were not alive, the caliphate would be handed over to his brother Imam al-Husayn (as).(1)

That is why as soon as Imam al-Husayn (as) heard that Mu‘awiyah had died, he told ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr, “I will never pay allegiance to Yazid, because after my brother, al-Hasan (as), the caliphate returns to me. Mu‘awiyah did as he wanted, and swore to my brother that he would never hand the caliphate over to anyone of his children. He promised that if I were alive, the caliphate would return to me.”(2)

It has been clearly stated in many Sunni sources that Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) put a condition on Mu‘awiyah that he should not hand over the caliphate to anyone after he died.(3)

This peace agreement and its conditions, which were agreed upon by both parties of the treaty, substantiate the illegitimacy of the succession of Yazid to the caliphate after his father’s death.

7. Mu‘awiyah himself was not the legitimate caliph

Sunni Islam accepts the legitimacy of the incoming caliph by relying on the oath of the previous caliph. However, the caliphate and Imamate of the previous caliph must indisputably be proven before his oath can be considered valid. In Mu‘awiyah’s case, this was not so. His caliphate was never proven legitimate, as the following information shows:

Firstly, Mu‘awiyah gained control of the caliphate and predominance over the Islamic community by rebelling against the rightful Imam of the Muslims, Amir al-Mu’minin Imam ‘Ali ibn

p: 80

1- ‘Umdah al-Talib, p. 67.
2- Ibn A‘tham, Al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 12.
3- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 16, p. 22; Al-Futuh, vol. 4, p. 291; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 13, p. 265.

Abi Talib (as). Therefore, Mu‘awiyah’s caliphate itself lacked legitimacy and was void of any reasonable religious or legal base.

Secondly, in Imam al-Hasan’s (as) peace agreement, it was stated that the tax, revenue and tribute of Abjard must be handed over to Imam al-Hasan (as). This confirms that Imam al-Hasan (as) did not recognize Mu‘awiyah as the rightful caliph of the Muslims. The reason is that the area of Abjard had come under the fold of Islam peacefully, and had not been conquered by force or the strength of an army.

According to the Islamic law, the tax from this kind of place is exclusively reserved for the legitimate Imam of the Muslims. Therefore, Imam al-Hasan (as), who was the legitimate Imam of the Muslims, demanded this share and allotment in his agreement with Mu‘awiyah.(1)

Thirdly, one of the conditions that Imam al-Hasan (as) included in the peace pact was that Mu‘awiyah would have to abstain from calling himself amir al-mu’minin (the Commander of the Faithful). This is a clear declaration from Imam al-Hasan (as) that he did not in reality support or endorse the legitimacy of the government of Mu‘awiyah, the son of Abu Sufiyan.

8. The absence of allegiance for Yazid

Some have ventured to prove that the people paid allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, but upon study of historical accounts and reflection regarding the events that happened, one can easily see that this assertion is not true.

Firstly, in a letter to his governor of Medina, Yazid wrote, “You must secure the allegiance of individuals who enjoy special

p: 81

1- Futuh al-Buldan, p. 380.

honor and status among the people by whatever means there are at your disposal; secure the allegiance of such people as al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr and ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr.

If they refuse to pay allegiance, kill them.”(1) Of course, it must be pointed out that allegiance that is paid reluctantly or out of coercion is not considered to be legitimate or valid at all.

Secondly, the people of Iraq had written a letter to Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) in which they manifestly declared that they did not have an imam and were not going to pay allegiance to anyone save al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as).(2)

Thirdly, Shabrawi Shafi‘i strongly opposes any defence of Yazid’s caliphate by certain scholars. First, he quotes and recounts the reasons which have been put forward by Ghazzali and Ibn al-‘Arabi as their legal bases and reasons for prohibiting cursing or reviling Yazid.

Then, he gives a detailed account of the overstatements of these two people regarding the issue of cursing Yazid. He says, “The statements of Ghazzali and Ibn al-‘Arabi are false, because they are founded on the assumption that the allegiance paid to Yazid—Allah’s curse be on him—was correct and sound, in spite of the fact that this view is opposed by historians.”(3)

The supporters of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising

Most Muslims, including the Sunnis, remember the historical epic of Imam al-Husayn (as) with unanimous honor and respect. In addition, after the event of Karbala, those who had either opposed the Ahl al-Bayt (as) or had

p: 82

1- Al-Futuh, vol. 5, pp. 10-11; Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 241.
2- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, pp. 151-152.
3- Al-Ithaf bi Hubb al-Ashraf, p. 68.

taken a position of neutrality and non-alignment soon abandoned these positions and in the course of events, the majority of them announced their support for the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in various ways.

1. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr Ju‘fi was one who had initially refused to help Imam al-Husayn (as). After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), he became an intolerant opponent of Bani Umayyah’s government. He composed songs of lamentation for the martyrs of Karbala and started calling on the people to rebel and rise up against the rule of Yazid.(1)

2. Zayd ibn Arqam was a man who had tried to dissuade Imam al-Husayn (as) from continuing on his course of action by appealing to the Imam (as) in a devout and mystical manner. In the end, he was persuaded to give up his opposition because of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) legitimate and moral right. When he saw the captives of Karbala being taken to Sham and the heads severed from the dead bodies of the martyrs being carried on lances, when he observed the shameful way in which Ibn Ziyad was behaving towards the victims, when he saw how low the Muslims had sunk and how abject they had become, he was deeply moved by the sorrowful event.

He could not help breaking down and crying. He said “O people! From now on, you will be worse off than slaves. You have killed the son of Fatimah (as), and have made yourselves subjects of the son of Marjanah. I swear upon

p: 83

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, pp. 469-470.

Allah! He will kill the best of you and enslave the worst among you. Woe on he who is content with abjectness and disgrace!”(1)

3. Abu al-‘Ala’ Mu‘arri says, “The brutal killing of al-Husayn (as) and the usurpation of the caliphate by Yazid was a wicked act of our age and our people.”(2)

4. Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh is one who believes in supporting only a religious and just government. He maintains that opposing an unjust and tyrannical government is obligatory upon all Muslims. He considers Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid as opposition against an unjust usurper and oppressor.(3)

5. ‘Abd Allah ‘Alayiki writes, “Al-Husayn (as) did not rise up against an imam. On the contrary, he revolted against a transgressor who had imposed himself upon the people or had been imposed upon them by his father. It is very likely that if this movement had been made by a person other than Imam al-Husayn (as), and against a person other than Yazid, the filthy propaganda apparatus of the rulers of that time would have easily and skillfully succeeded at distorting the lofty aims of the uprising. But al-Husayn (as) was a unique and different man; he had a very brilliant background and was famous among the Muslims. There was also much testimony given in his favor by the Holy Prophet (S). There were hadiths recorded which foretold this uprising.

Now we have a scenario where al-Husayn (as) is on one side of event, and the wicked Yazid and the corrupt household of

p: 84

1- Ibid., vol. 6, p. 262.
2- Al-Mu‘arri, Luzum ma la Yulzam, pp. 310-311.
3- The Qur’anic Commentary of Al-Manar, vol. 1, p. 367.

Bani Umayyah is on the opposite side. This sharp contrast made the movement of al-Husayn (as) shine like a bright star in a dark night so much so that even where the positions of opponents of al-Husayn’s (as) uprising are mentioned in Sunni books, it is for the purpose of negating and condemning them.”(1)

6. ‘Abbas Mahmud ‘Aqqad believes that it is unfair to analyze and evaluate Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising using narrow human standards. He writes, “Al-Husayn’s (as) exodus from Mecca towards Iraq is not a movement which can be judged according to ordinary standards because this uprising is among rare historical movements that involve the invitation of the people towards religion and political awareness. The only people who are capable of making such unique movements are those who have been created solely for such missions. Exposing oneself to danger in the way that al-Husayn (as) did, does not even occur to the minds of ordinary people… Rather, this is an unparalleled movement in the history of mankind which calls for unique and remarkable individuals…”(2)

He criticizes orientalists for failing to understand the conditions surrounding Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising. While protesting against their lack of perception, he states, “How good it would have been had the orientalists comprehended the issue of religious belief in the person of Imam al-Husayn (as). Orientalists have to be reminded that for Imam al-Husayn (as), Islam was not a temporal issue that could be compromised. Al-Husayn (as) was a person with the strongest faith in Islamic

p: 85

1- ‘Ala’ili, Al-Imam al-Husayn, pp. 33-34.
2- ‘Iqad, Al-‘Abqariyyat al-Islamiyyah, vol. 2, p. 222.

law. He was a man who believed that suspension of the limits set by Allah (cessation in the practice of Islamic laws) was the greatest of all calamities that would sooner or later befall not only him and His household, but the Arab nation and the Islamic community as whole…”(1)

Yazid, Instigator of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) Death

Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was an Umayyad caliph who committed uncountable crimes during his short-lived reign. In the first year of his three-year rule, he issued orders that the Prophet’s (S) grandchild, Imam al-Husayn (as), must be put to death along with all his companions. The method in which this objective was carried out was so abominable that it gave birth to countless subsequent uprisings against Yazid.

To this day, this despicable action has remained a legitimate cause for constant sorrow and protest, and many Sunni scholars have voiced strong objections against Yazid. Unfortunately though, some biased and extremist ‘scholars’ and their narrow minded followers have ventured to come to Yazid’s defence and have fabricated writings in praise of Yazid to try to deceive readers about his dark and treacherous role in history.

We will now examine this issue in detail and provide historical evidence to bear witness to the fact that Yazid was the direct instigator of the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as).

Ibn Taymiyyah’s defence of Yazid


Driven by undisguised hostility against the Ahl al-Bayt (as), Ibn Taymiyyah rose in defence of Yazid. He endeavored by all means to exonerate Yazid of all corruption and unscrupulousness including his guilt in the killing of Imam al-Husayn

p: 86

1- Ibid., vol. 2, p. 228.

(as). He has done so by shamelessly resorting to guile and deceit to justify Yazid’s actions.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes, “Yazid was not pleased with the killing of al-Husayn. He even expressed his displeasure at this action.”(1)

He also repudiates the truth of the events in which the Sham army carried the head of Imam al-Husayn (as) on a lance to Sham.(2) At one point, he even denies that Imam al-Husayn’s (as) Household, the Ahl al-Bayt (as), were taken into captivity by Yazid’s soldiers.(3)

At another juncture, Ibn Taymiyyah says, “Yazid did not issue orders to kill al-Husayn. Yazid’s soldiers did not bring the heads of those killed at Karbala on lances to Sham to be presented to Yazid. Yazid did not hit the teeth of al-Husayn with his stick. In fact, it was ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad who did all these actions.”(4)

In this section, evidence will be cited to substantiate the fact that when Ibn Ziyad killed Imam al-Husayn (as), he was acting under strict and direct orders issued by Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.

1. Yazid appointed Ibn Ziyad governor of Kufah

Upon examination of historical evidence, it is apparent that it was Yazid that appointed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad to the post of governor of Kufah. Before then, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was the governor of Basrah.

This appointment sheds light upon the view that Yazid intended to confront Imam al-Husayn (as). Appointing Ibn Ziyad to the position of governor of Kufah was a premeditated plan because he was the only person Yazid deemed capable of carrying out the duty of killing

p: 87

1- Ra’s al-Husayn, p. 207.
2- Ibid., p. 206.
3- Minhaj al-Sunnah, vol. 2, p. 226.
4- Su’al fi Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, p. 16.

al-Husayn (as).

It is worth noting that Yazid did not, previous to that time, have a good relationship with ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. He had even considered dismissing him from the governorship of Basrah.

However, because he did not deem Nu‘man ibn Bashir, who was the incumbent governor of Kufah, capable of confronting Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and Imam al-Husayn (as), Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was left with no option but to appeal to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for help.

He not only expressed his sudden pleasure with Ibn Ziyad, but also appointed him to the governorship of both Kufah and Basrah as well. In a letter to Ibn Ziyad, Yazid wrote, “Put Muslim ibn ‘Aqil under strict surveillance. Follow and track him down. If you arrest him, put him to death.”(1)

Muslim ibn ‘Aqil had come to Kufah as Imam al-Husayn’s (as) envoy. His mission was to inform the people that Imam al-Husayn (as) was on his way to Kufah.

2. Yazid and Ibn Ziyad were in constant contact

History bears witness to the fact that when Yazid appointed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad as the governor of Kufah, he ordered Ibn Ziyad to be in constant consultation with him on every matter, large or small, that involved Imam al-Husayn (as).

From this, one can rightly infer that all the crimes which the son of Ziyad committed, including the killing of Imam al-Husayn (as), were carried out on direct orders from Yazid.

Tabari writes, “After martyring Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and Hani, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad cut their heads from their bodies and sent them together

p: 88

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 258; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 268; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 164.

with a letter to Sham for Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. In his reply to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s letter, after mentioning various issues, Yazid pointed out, ‘News has reached me that al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali has set off towards Kufah. Enlist spies to keep anyone allied to al-Husayn under strict surveillance and employ armed men to arrest his followers.

Imprison al-Husayn’s followers on any accusation you can trump up, and inform me about everything that takes place. May God’s peace, mercy and blessing be upon you’.”(1)

We can deduce from this historical evidence that Yazid not only entrusted the city of Kufah and confrontation with Imam al-Husayn (as) to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, but that Yazid himself was also personally involved in the events that took place and in direct command of all affairs. Consequently, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad kept reporting whatever he did to Yazid.

Additional evidence to substantiate that Yazid had complicity in all the crimes committed by ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad is that Yazid extolled Ibn Ziyad for every decision and action he took.

3. Yazid’s order: allegiance or death


History bears witness that Yazid was determined to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) in the case that he refused to pay him allegiance. In his book of history, “Tarikh Ya‘qubi”, Ya’qubi writes, “In a letter which he wrote to Walid ibn ‘Aqabah ibn Abi Sufiyan, his agent and governor in Medina, Yazid commanded,

‘When my letter reaches you, summon al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali and ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr. Make sure that you get allegiance from them on my behalf. If

p: 89

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 285.

they refuse to pay allegiance, cut their necks and send their heads to me’.”(1)

It is obvious from this historical record that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah had a premeditated intention to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) if the Holy Imam (as) refused to pay allegiance.


Of course, it is true that some historians have recorded Yazid’s letter in a different manner. For example, Tabari has recorded the letter in this way: “Yazid wrote to Walid, ‘Adopt extreme harshness when you confront al-Husayn, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr. Do not permit them leave until they pay allegiance. May God’s peace be upon you’.”(2)

In this version of the letter, there is no talk of killing Imam al-Husayn (as) or his followers.


Firstly, there is no real inconsistency between these two historical texts, because killing Imam al-Husayn (as) has not been explicitly prohibited in the wording of the text recorded by Tabari. Both letters are quite strong except that the ultimate order in the text quoted by Tabari does not mention killing Imam al-Husayn (as).

It is therefore possible that Yazid wrote both letters; the first one was recorded by Tabari while the second and stronger one in tone was recorded by Ya‘qubi. Bearing this in mind, we can accept both records.

Secondly, in the letter which Tabari has recorded, the expression that has been used is “adopt extreme harshness”. This might mean that the people mentioned in this letter should not be given permission to leave until they have paid allegiance. From this expression, three

p: 90

1- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 241; Al-Futuh, vol. 5, pp. 10-11.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 250.

possibilities come to mind:

A. That “adopt extreme harshness” means a kind of sharp and hot-tempered verbal encounter with these people to insist on getting allegiance from them.

B. That the intention was to put pressure on Imam al-Husayn (as) so that he would be left with no option but to pay allegiance, but this encounter should not culminate in killing Imam al-Husayn (as). (Neither of these two possibilities seems logical, because Yazid knew Imam al-Husayn’s (as) character and personality well. He knew with certainty that Imam al-Husayn (as) would never pay allegiance to him no matter what the cost.)

C. The third possibility; the possibility which conforms to what really happened, is that “adopt extreme harshness” means Yazid had given Walid complete jurisdiction over the issue of Imam al-Husayn (as) and he was free to deal with Imam al-Husayn (as) in whatever way he deemed suitable to get the job done. If Walid felt compelled to kill Imam al-Husayn (as), should he refuse to pay allegiance to Yazid, it would have been acceptable.

This possibility is confirmed by the following points:

1. When Marwan ibn Hakam ordered Walid to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) in the case that he refused to pay allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, Walid excused himself from carrying out this abominable act. The reason he put forth was not that killing Imam al-Husayn (as) was not compatible with orders from Yazid, but because killing Imam al-Husayn (as) was haram and therefore forbidden by Islamic dictates.(1)

2. When Walid called Imam al-Husayn (as)

p: 91

1- Ibid., vol. 4, p. 251; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 264; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, pp. 157-158; Al-Akhbar al-Tawal, p. 228.

to the governor’s palace, Imam al-Husayn (as) knew that Walid had been ordered to kill him if he refused to pay allegiance. Therefore, he went to the governor’s palace accompanied by a number of young men from the tribe of Bani Hashim. He also advised ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr to do the same.(1)

3. In the holy month of Ramadan of the same year in which he ascended to the caliphate, Yazid dismissed Walid ibn ‘Aqabah from his post as governor. It is important to mention that this happened only about two months after Yazid claimed the caliphate. Yazid discharged Walid despite reinstating in their posts all the governors who had worked for his father. The reason for dismissing Walid was that Yazid knew that Walid was not capable of carrying out his orders as regards killing Imam al-Husayn (as). So he dealt with him in the same manner that he had previously dealt with Nu‘man ibn Bashir, the governor of Kufah. Nu‘man ibn Bashir had been ordered to have a harsh and violent encounter with Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. When he did not do this, Yazid replaced him with ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad.(2)

Yazid discharged Walid ibn ‘Aqabah just like he had previously dismissed Nu‘man ibn Bashir. Therefore, it can be deduced that Yazid wanted Walid to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) if necessary. Since Walid was not ready to do so, he paid the price and was dismissed.

4. Yazid’s second letter to Walid ibn ‘Aqabah

Ibn A‘tham recounts that Walid wrote a letter to Yazid informing him about the events

p: 92

1- Ibid.; Al-Muntazam, vol. 5, p. 323; Al-Futuh, vol. 5, pp. 15-18.
2- Ibid.

that had transpired between him and Imam al-Husayn (as) and between him and Zubayr. Yazid was infuriated by what had taken place. In a reply to Walid, he wrote, “When my letter reaches you, get a second allegiance from the people of Medina.

Let ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr go free, because he cannot escape us. However, send the head of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) to me together with the reply of this letter. If you do so, I will provide you with well-bred horses along with greater gifts and better rewards…”(1)

5. Exposing Imam al-Husayn (as) to death

Ibn ‘Asakir recounts, “When Yazid was informed about Imam al-Husayn’s exodus towards Kufah, he wrote a letter to his governor, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, in which he ordered him to battle Imam al-Husayn (as) and send the Imam to Sham.”(2)

Ibn A‘tham narrates, “Ibn Ziyad addressed the people of Kufah in this way, ‘Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah has sent a letter to me. Along with it, he has sent four thousand dinars and two hundred thousand dirhams for me to distribute among you. Yazid has ordered me to send you to war with his enemy al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali. Therefore, follow Yazid’s orders and obey him’.”(3)

Suyuti says, “In a letter to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, Yazid’s governor in Iraq, he ordered him to engage in battle with al-Husayn and kill him.”(4)

Ibn A‘tham writes, “When Ibn Ziyad killed Imam al-Husayn, Yazid paid him a reward of one million dirhams.”(5)

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), the brother of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, Salam ibn Ziyad,

p: 93

1- Ibn A‘tham, Al-Futuh, vol. 3, section [bab] 5, p. 18.
2- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 14, p. 208.
3- Ibn A‘tham, AlFutuh, vol. 3, section [bab] 5, p. 89.
4- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 193.
5- Ibn A‘tham, Al-Futuh, vol. 3, section [bab] 5, p. 135.

went to visit Yazid. When Yazid saw him, he said, “O household of Ziyad, love and friendship has become obligatory upon you from the household of Abu Sufiyan.”(1)

When Ibn Ziyad went to see Yazid after killing Imam al-Husayn (as), Yazid came forward to welcome him. He embraced Ibn Ziyad and kissed him on the forehead. Yazid had Ibn Ziyad sit on the throne and even brought him his womenfolk.

He ordered a singer to sing a beautiful song for Ibn Ziyad. Yazid addressed his butler, “Make us drunk with wine!” Then, he gave Ibn Ziyad and ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d a reward of one million dirhams each from the public treasury. He even ceded the revenue of Iraq to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for a period of one year.”(2)

6. While in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn (as) foretold that the enemies of Allah were planning to kill him

Tabari recounts that Imam al-Husayn (as) publicly addressed the people, “Do you know what Ibn Zubayr says?” The people said, “No, we don’t know. May Allah sacrifice us for you!” Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “Ibn Zubayr says, ‘Stay in this mosque. I will gather a group of fighters for you’.”

Then the Imam (as) said, “I swear upon Allah! It is better for me to be killed an inch outside Mecca than to be killed an inch inside it. I swear upon Allah! Even if I hide and seek refuge in caves, they will never rest until they pull me out and do to me what they have already decided to do.”(3)

We can conclude from this historical information that Imam al-Husayn (as) was aware of

p: 94

1- Ibid., p. 136.
2- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 290; Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 67.
3- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 289; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 276.

Bani Umayyah’s malicious intentions. He knew that the government headed by Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah had no other objective but to kill him.

7. Yazid issued the order to put Imam al-Husayn (as) to death

Ya‘qubi recounts, “By the time al-Husayn started off towards Iraq, Yazid had appointed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad to be the governor of that land. Yazid wrote to his newly appointed governor, ‘News has reached me that the people of Kufah have written a letter to al-Husayn inviting him to come to them. At this very moment as I write, he is moving towards Kufah…

If you kill him, then so much the better; there will remain no more duty on you. However, if you do not put him to death, I will send you to join your dead ancestors. So beware, and do not lose this opportunity’.”(1)

From this historical text, we can conclude that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah had charged ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad with the duty of killing Imam al-Husayn (as). He had even gone so far as to intimidate Ibn Ziyad with death if he dared disobey his orders.

8. Ibn Ziyad’s letter to Imam al-Husayn (as)

Ibn A‘tham narrates that Hurr ibn Yazid and his companions had descended upon Imam al-Husayn with the intention of encountering him at war. Hurr wrote a letter to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad informing him that Imam al-Husayn (as) had arrived at Karbala. The son of Ziyad decided to write a letter to Imam al-Husayn (as), in which he said, “... and after this, O al-Husayn!

News has reached me that you have arrived at Karbala. Amir al-Mu’minin Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah

p: 95

1- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 242; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 28, p. 19.

has written a letter to me ordering that I should not be content with anything save sending you to the Omniscient one or dealing with you in whatever way I wish...”(1)

This is yet another document that shows that Yazid himself had given ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad the responsibility of killing Imam al-Husayn (as) if he refused to pay allegiance.

9. Ibn ‘Abbas’s letter to Yazid

One of the documents which serves as evidence to prove that Yazid played a direct role in the killing of Imam al-Husayn (as) is a letter which ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas wrote to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. In this letter, Ibn ‘Abbas admonished Yazid to kill Imam al-Husayn (as). A Part of the letter reads, “From ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. And after this…

O illegitimate child! It is you who killed al-Husayn with your contaminated and filthy hands. Do not suppose that I have forgotten that you have blood on your hands and that you have martyred al-Husayn and the youths of Bani Hashim who were bright shining lights and stars of guidance for those in darkness…”(2)

It is important to note that Ibn ‘Abbas was known as a man that would not accuse any person falsely.

10. Yazid publicly boasted about killing Imam al-Husayn (as)

Ibn Athir narrates, “After al-Husayn’s martyrdom, Yazid called for a general meeting. The people of Sham were coming in to meet him while the blessed head of Imam al-Husayn (as) was placed next to him. He had a wooden stick in his hands with which he was hitting Imam al-Husayn’s throat (as) while reciting

p: 96

1- Ibn A‘tham, Al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 150; Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, p. 140.
2- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 248; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 318.

poems composed by al-Husayn ibn Hamam. These actions made his arrogance and pride at killing Imam al-Husayn (as) obvious.”(1)

If Yazid were in fact not pleased about killing Imam al-Husayn (as), why would he hit the throat, and according to narrations of other historians the lips and teeth, of the severed head of Imam al-Husayn (as)? Moreover, why would he recite poems which alluded to his pride at having done such a deed?

Suyuti writes, “After al-Husayn (as) and his father’s progeny were massacred, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad sent their heads on lances to Sham for Yazid. At first, Yazid became very happy, but when he realized that the Muslims had started to regard him as their enemy and had begun to hate him with all their hearts for what he had done, Yazid showed superficial remorse and regret.

It was appropriate that the people had every right to hate him.”(2)

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi recounts, “When they brought the head of Imam al-Husayn (as) to Yazid, he invited the people of Sham to come to his palace. He then started hitting Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head with a staff while reciting poems composed by Ibn Zab‘ari.

The purport of these poems was: By killing the elders of Bani Hashim, we have taken revenge for our forefathers who were killed in the Battle of Badr. By killing the elders of Bani Hashim, we have gotten even.”(3)

11. Ibn Ziyad, highly regarded after killing al-Husayn (as)

Ibn Athir writes, “When Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head was brought for Yazid, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad gained high esteem before

p: 97

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 298.
2- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 208.
3- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 235.

Yazid. Yazid bestowed numerous favors upon him. He was extremely pleased with him. However, it did not take long before Yazid learnt that the people had been angered by what he had done, and were cursing and insulting him. He subsequently feigned remorse about Imam al-Husayn’s (as) killing…”(1)

Tabari narrates, “When ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad killed al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) and his father’s progeny, he sent their heads on lances to Sham for Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. Yazid was initially pleased by this and the son of Ziyad acquired an excellent position before Yazid…”(2)

12. Declaration of one present in Yazid’s court

Tabari recounts, “Then Yazid gave permission to the people to come to visit him. The people entered the king’s court and saw Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head placed opposite Yazid. Yazid was hitting Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head with a wooden stick in his hands. A man from among the Prophet’s (S) companions named Abu Bazrah Aslami addressed Yazid protestingly, ‘Are you hitting the throat of al-Husayn with your staff?

Be aware that your stick is hitting a place that I personally saw the Holy Prophet (S) kissing. O Yazid! You will arise on the Day of Resurrection without an intercessor save Ibn Ziyad, but al-Husayn will come on the Day of Resurrection with Muhammad (S), Allah’s Prophet, as his intercessor.’ Then, Abu Bazrah Aslami rose up, turned his back to Yazid and left the gathering.”(3)

13. Yazid was informed about everything

History testifies to the fact that Yazid was completely aware of everything Ibn Ziyad did regarding Imam al-Husayn (as) even after his martyrdom. Ibn Athir narrates,

p: 98

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 300.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, pp. 388-389; Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 238.
3- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 356; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 298.

“When the Ahl al-Bayt (as) of Imam al-Husayn reached Kufah, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad imprisoned them and sent the news of what had taken place to Yazid… Afterwards, a reply letter came from Yazid to Ibn Ziyad containing orders that the captives should be brought to Sham…”(1)

From this historical information, along with other information previously mentioned, we can deduce that the son of Ziyad did not perform any significant action without Yazid’s permission.

14. Yazid’s son admitted his father’s guilt

Ya‘qubi relates from Mu‘awiyah ibn Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, Yazid’s son, that after inheriting his father’s position and ascending to the caliphate, he addressed the people in this way, “And after praising Allah…

Be informed that my grandfather Mu‘awiyah ibn Abi Sufiyan had quarrelled and disputed about the caliphate with a person who was more deserving and worthy of it as regards blood relationship and proximity to the Holy Prophet (S).

Then, after him, my father got the reigns of power while he did not possess an acceptable moral character at all. In fact, he was overridden by his carnal desires.” Then, Mu‘awiyah, the son of Yazid, started crying and said, “One of the hardest things for us to bear is that we know what affliction and tragedy he was caught up in, and what a terrible fate he has endorsed for himself. He killed and disregarded the honor of the Holy Prophet’s (S) progeny with impunity and set the Ka‘bah on fire…”(2)

This historical text is excellent evidence to substantiate that Yazid had total involvement in the martyrdom of Imam

p: 99

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 298; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 254.
2- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 254.

al-Husayn (as). There was no one closer to Yazid than his own son, and he publicly announced that his father was Imam al-Husayn’s (as) killer.

15. Ibn Ziyad was not censured for killing Imam al-Husayn (as)

If one were to assume, as some people say, that Yazid did not issue orders to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) and that Imam al-Husayn (as) was in fact killed as a result of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s independent actions and that Yazid was displeased by Ibn Ziyad’s deeds, Yazid should have confronted him strongly with intense opposition to his insubordinate behavior. He ought to have reproached him in a way that suited his appalling act.

Even in the case that Yazid was opposed to Imam al-Husayn (as), if he in fact did not issue orders to kill the Imam and ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad committed this hideous crime without Yazid’s authorization, he should have been sharply censured for overstepping his authority and defying the central government. However, what historians have recorded is that not only Ibn Ziyad was not rebuked by Yazid in the slightest, but was instead rewarded handsomely on many occasions.

Yazid’s unanticipated behavior under the circumstances casts grave doubt on the veracity of the idea that Ibn Ziyad was acting independently rather than under direct orders from Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.

16. Ibn Ziyad retained his high governmental post

History bears witness to the fact that even after killing Imam al-Husayn (as), ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was retained in his position of authority as the governor of both Kufah and Basrah. This in itself demonstrates that Yazid was satisfied with the actions of ‘Ubayd

p: 100

Allah ibn Ziyad.

Ibn Athir writes, “When Yazid died, news of his death was brought to Ibn Ziyad... a call for congregational prayer was made. The people gathered for prayer, and ‘Ubayd Allah went on the pulpit and informed the people about the death of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.”(1)

This shows that ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad remained in his position of authority as the governor of Kufah and Basrah up to the time of Yazid’s death. We also know that if ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad had acted in an independent manner when killing Imam al-Husayn (as), a manner which was displeasing to Yazid, he certainly would have relieved him of his post just as he had previously dismissed Nu‘man ibn Bashir and Walid ibn ‘Aqabah. Yazid had dismissed Nu‘man ibn Bashir from the governorship of Kufah and Walid ibn ‘Aqabah from the governorship of Medina because he was displeased with both of them.

17. Yazid sent rewards for ‘Ubayd Allah in Ziyad

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah sent numerous rewards for ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad and he gained a very special proximity to Yazid.

1. Ibn Athir recounts, “When the head of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali was sent for Yazid, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was raised in stature. He was now regarded with high esteem by Yazid. A lot of rewards and gifts were bestowed on him by the son of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. Yazid made strenuous efforts to be sure that ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was happy with his rewards for killing Imam al-Husayn (as).”(2)

2. Tabari narrates, “When

p: 101

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, pp. 319-320.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 300; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 388; Tarikh Khulafa’, p. 208; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 254; Kitab al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 252.

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad killed al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) and his father’s progeny, he sent their heads on lances to Sham for Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. At first Yazid was pleased and held ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad in great esteem.”(1)

18. Yazid protected ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad from criticism

Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah not only did not reprimand ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for killing Imam al-Husayn (as), he even went so far as to prevent others from reproaching him.

Tabari and other historians recount “When the captives were brought to Yazid, Yahya ibn Hakam verbally reproached ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for what he had done in two verses of poetry... but Yazid punched him on the chest and said, ‘Keep Quiet!’”(2)

This behavior, along with his obstinate defence and support of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, is a sign of approval that Yazid was pleased with him for killing Imam al-Husayn (as) and that it is highly likely that the crime of killing Imam al-Husayn (as) was carried out under direct orders from Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.

19. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was Yazid’s courtier and advisor

Mas‘udi and other historians have recounted, “Yazid was always a pleasure-seeking man… One day after killing al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (as), he was seated in a gathering where liquor was being served with ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad on his right hand side. Yazid said to his bartender in verse,

إسقنی شربهً تروّی مَشاشی ثمّ مِل فَاسقِ مثلَها ابن زیادِ

صاحبَ السرّ والامانهِ عندی ولتسدیدِ مغنمی وجهادی

“Give me liquor that is strong enough to completely satisfy my whole being.

After you have served me, turn to Ibn Ziyad, and quench his thirst in the same

p: 102

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 288.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 301; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 252; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 209.


He is the possessor of my secrets and trusts.

And do it for the purpose of confirming his awards and endeavors.”(1)

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi writes, “Yazid called for the son of Ziyad and gave him many rewards. He made him a close companion and elevated his position. Yazid even brought his womenfolk for Ibn Ziyad and gave him his goblet of wine. Then, he said to his private musician, ‘Play a song.’ Then, he himself recited the two previous verses.”(2)

Ibn A‘tham recounts that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah gave a reward of one million dirhams to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad for killing Imam al-Husayn (as).(3)

20. Choosing one of two options

In his book “Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh”, Ibn Athir narrates that ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad addressed Musafir ibn Sharih Yashkari thus, “I killed al-Husayn because Yazid made it clear that I had to choose between killing al-Husayn or myself being killed. I preferred killing al-Husayn to being killed.”(4)

Ya‘qubi writes, “In a letter addressed to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, Yazid wrote, ‘News has reached me that the people of Kufah have written to al-Husayn inviting him to come to them. I have been informed that right now, as I write, he has left Mecca and is traveling towards Kufah in order to join them.

Your territory, from among all other territories, is being put to the test and your life is on the line. If you kill al-Husayn, there will be no problem. However, if you do not kill him, you will join your forefathers. So beware that you do not lose

p: 103

1- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 77.
2- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 260.
3- Kitab al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 252.
4- Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 324.

this opportunity’.”(1)

21. Imam al-Sajjad (as) made the truth clear

On various occasions, Imam al-Sajjad (as) made it clear that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was Imam al-Husayn’s (as) killer.

1. When they brought Imam al-Sajjad (as) to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, the son of Mu‘awiyah addressed Imam al-Sajjad (as) in this way, “Are you the son of that man who has been killed by Allah?” Imam al-Sajjad (as) replied, “I am ‘Ali, the son of the man whom you have killed.” Then, Imam al-Sajjad (as) recited this verse,

﴿ وَمَن یقتُل مُؤمِناً مُتَعَمِّداً فَجَزآؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خالِداً فیها ... ﴾

“And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it forever.(2)(3)

2. At another time, Imam al-Sajjad (as) said, “O Yazid! It is enough of your shedding our blood…”(4)

3. Ibn A‘tham relates, “Imam al-Sajjad (as) addressed Yazid as follows, ‘If only you could perceive what you have done against my father, if only you could comprehend what you have done against my Household, and if only you could understand what you have done against the rights of my brothers and uncles, then you would run away to the hills and mountains. There, you would spread gravel stones and roll yourself upon them. You would raise your voice high weeping for yourself. How is it possible that the head of al-Husayn (as), the son of Fatimah (as) and ‘Ali (as), has been hung on the city gates when he was Allah’s trust among you, the people?’”(5)

4. There is also Imam al-Sajjad’s (as) address to Yazid in his famous sermon in Damascus,

p: 104

1- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 242.
2- Surat al-Nisa’ 4:93.
3- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 63, as narrated by Ghazali.
4- Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 120.
5- Ibn A‘tham, Al-Futuh, vol. 3, section [bab] 5, p. 132.

when he said, “Is the Muhammad that you talk about your ancestor or my ancestor? If you want to pretend that he is your ancestor, you have undoubtedly lied and become a disbeliever. And if you say that he is my ancestor, then why have you killed his progeny?”(1)

22. Yazid expressed pleasure at killing Imam al-Husayn (as)

When we pay careful attention to diverse historical documents, it becomes clear that Yazid was very happy with killing al-Husayn (as). There are many historical documents which provide evidence beyond doubt that Yazid was pleased with what had transpired. We also have to pay attention to the hadith which says, “Anyone who is pleased with an action of a group of people is one of those people.” Let us now refer to some evidence to prove our assertion.

1. While talking to Nu‘man ibn Bashir, Yazid said, “Praise Allah because He has killed al-Husayn.”(2)

2. Ya‘qubi writes, “Yazid was in his garden when the news that Imam al-Husayn had been killed was brought to him. He shouted out aloud, ‘Allah-u Akbar!’”(3)

3. When the captives were brought to Sham, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah called the elders of Sham to come and congratulate him for the victory.(4)

4. Maqrizi and other historians have recounted that when ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad placed the head of Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) before Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah, he started hitting Imam al-Husayn’s (as) teeth with a rod. He was doing this while reciting poetry. Then, he gave orders that Imam al-Husayn’s (as) head should be hung in the palace for three days.(5)


p: 105

1- Ibid., p. 133; Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 2, p. 242.
2- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 2, p. 59.
3- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 222.
4- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 197; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 309.
5- Maqrizi, Al-Khitat, vol. 2, p. 289; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 319.

Sunni scholars have opposed Yazid due to his pleasure at killing Imam al-Husayn (as), and even cursed him.

5. Suyuti narrates, “May Allah curse al-Husayn’s (as) killers. May Allah curse Ibn Ziyad and Yazid.”(1)

6. Some people asked al-Jawzi what his opinion was regarding cursing Yazid. He answered, “Ahmad ibn Hanbal permitted cursing him, and we say that we do not like Yazid because of what he did to the son of the Prophet’s daughter (as) and because he sent the Prophet’s (S) Household in a state of captivity to Sham aboard camel litter.”(2)

7. Dhahabi says, “Yazid was a cruel and hardhearted man. He used to drink wine and commit forbidden acts [munkarat]. His reign began with killing al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali and ended with the event of Harrah.”(3)

8. Ibn Khaldun recounts the killing of Imam al-Husayn (as) thus, “Without doubt, Imam al-Husayn was killed by Yazid. Killing Imam al-Husayn (as) is an action that underscores Yazid’s immoral nature. In this event, al-Husayn is a martyr in Allah’s way.”(4)

23. Yazid’s actions correspond with his personality

For anyone who examines historical accounts, it becomes clear that Yazid had a treacherous personality. When one understands Yazid’s real personality, he can easily see why he could not refrain from killing such a revered person as Imam al-Husayn (as), and why doing so was an easy task for him.

Mas‘udi narrates, “Yazid was a pleasure-seeking person who owned slave girls, dogs, monkeys, leopards and drunken jesters. Whatever ugly act he committed was imitated by those close to him. During the three years of his caliphate,

p: 106

1- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 207.
2- Mir’at al-Zaman, vol. 8, p. 496; Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah, vol. 2, p. 634.
3- Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 69.
4- The Introduction of Ibn Khaldun, p. 181.

music became widespread both in Mecca and Medina. Instruments of pleasure and amusement were commonplace. The people openly and publicly engaged in wine drinking.”(1)

A group of people from Medina, among them ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah and other noble men of Medina, went to see Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. Yazid agreed to meet them. When they returned to Medina, some of the people of the group began talking ill of and castigating Yazid.

They announced that they were returning from the presence a man who lacked religion, drank wine and played the tambourine. They said that Yazid played with dogs. They reported to the people that Yazid also had singers who sang seductive music for him…(2)

‘Umar ibn Sabi‘ah says, “During his father’s reign, Yazid went to Mecca for the hajj. When he reached Medina, he sat at a wine drinking gathering and recited poetry.”(3)

Suyuti writes, “The reason the people of Medina retracted the allegiance they had made to Yazid was that he used to exceed limits in committing transgressions.”(4)

24. Yazid in the viewpoint of Sunni scholars [‘ulama’]

As previously mentioned, many Sunni scholars have strongly criticized Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah for killing Imam al-Husayn (as) and for numerous other crimes he committed. We will now mention some of these scholars and some of their criticisms:

1. Alusi says, “Anyone who says that Yazid did not sin, and hence cursing him is not permissible, should be considered as one of Yazid’s helpers and partisans.”(5)

2. Ibn Khaldun writes, “Ibn al-‘Arabi Maliki erred when he said, ‘Al-Husayn was killed by his grandfather’s sword.’ By making such

p: 107

1- Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 77.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 368; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 307; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 238.
3- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 317; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 28, p. 24.
4- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209.
5- Ruh al-Ma‘ani, vol. 26, p. 73.

a statement, he openly declared his consent to Yazid’s iniquitous and immoral life.”(1)

3. Taftazani writes, “Yazid’s satisfaction and pleasure at the killing of Imam al-Husayn (as), and his contempt towards the Ahl al-Bayt (as), are among his many vices detailed in the traditions. We have no hesitation about his true status. On the contrary, we do not hesitate in saying that he was a man who lacked faith. May Allah’s curse be on him and his partisans.”(2)

4. Jahiz says, “The crimes Yazid committed including killing al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, taking the members of his household into captivity, hitting Imam al-Husayn’s (as) teeth and severed head with a staff, intimidating and terrorizing the people of Medina, and destruction of the Ka‘bah are all evidence of his cruelty, wickedness, hypocrisy and apostasy. Without doubt, he is corrupt and cursed and anyone who prevents the damning of such a man is damned himself.”(3)

5. Doctor Taha al-Husayn, the Egyptian author, writes, “Some people suppose that Yazid is exonerated from the heinous massacre of al-Husayn (as). They make ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad the scapegoat for the savage killing. If Yazid is innocent of wrongdoing and Ibn Ziyad the guilty party, why did Yazid not reproach ‘Ubayd Allah? Why did he not punish him? Why did he not relieve him of his post?”(4)

Responses to doubts


Now that Yazid’s role in killing Imam al-Husayn (as) has been examined, we will now analyze some of the objections put forth by Yazid’s supporters.

1. Mu‘awiyah’s last will and testament to Yazid

Some people say that Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan had ordered his

p: 108

1- The Introduction of Ibn Khaldun, p. 254.
2- Sharh ‘Aqa’id Nasfiyyah, p. 181.
3- Risa’il Jahiz, p. 298.
4- Al-Fitnah al-Kubra, vol. 2, p. 265.

son in his last will and testament not to offend al-Husayn (as) nor to interfere with him in any way whatsoever because al-Husayn (as) had a greater right of kinship and nearness to the Holy Prophet (S). They believe that it is therefore impossible and unreasonable to imagine that Yazid would have dared act against his father’s wishes.


Firstly, the text of Mu‘awiyah’s reads, “... If al-Husayn revolts against you and you become triumphant over him, forgive and overlook because he has ties of relationship and kinship to you, and hence has a great right due from you...”(1)

We can deduce from this text that Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan requested his son to forgive al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) if Yazid were to be militarily victorious over the Holy Imam, but we cannot conclude that Yazid was ordered not to have any conflict with Imam al-Husayn (as) at all.

Secondly, we have previously cited abundant evidence to substantiate that Yazid was responsible for Imam al-Husayn’s (as) martyrdom. Therefore, there is no room left for doubt or skepticism about who Imam al-Husayn’s killer is.

Thirdly, when we refer to history with special attention paid to Yazid’s corrupt personality, it is obvious that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was not at all bound or obligated to act according to his father’s will. There is no historical evidence to substantiate that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah felt a strong obligation to act according to his father’s last wishes.

It is worthy reminding skeptics that Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan had commanded his son Yazid

p: 109

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 238.

in his last will and testament to consent to the people’s wishes if they asked him to dismiss and change the governor of Iraq. Yazid did not act according to his father’s wishes in this case.

2. Yazid exonerated himself of the killing of al-Husayn (as)

According to some texts, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah claimed himself to be innocent of killing Imam al-Husayn (as). They say Yazid cursed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad and laid the blame on him for this heinous crime.(1)


Firstly, according to evidence previously cited regarding this issue, there is convincing testimony to substantiate that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah played a direct role in killing Imam al-Husayn (as). It has already been pointed out that some people have made intense efforts to deceive others by inventing stories for the sake of justifying Yazid’s despicable actions.

The fantasy that Yazid was not responsible for killing Imam al-Husayn (as) must be regarded as an effort by ill-intentioned people to deceive others because, after the event of Karbala, there were numerous public disclosures of Yazid’s flagrant atrocities given by eye witnesses.

These public disclosures caused the people to become disgusted with Yazid. As a result, they rebelled against him. Yazid therefore found himself forced to lay the blame on another. By making Ibn Ziyad the scapegoat, he intended to exonerate himself from this savage crime and dissipate the people’s anger.

Secondly, according to historical documents, a number of the Prophet’s (S) companions such as Imam al-Husayn (as), ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah and most of the nobles of Medina have associated Yazid

p: 110

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 300.

with moral corruption and debauchery. When we have indubitable testimony from such a group of highly respected companions of the Holy Prophet (S) confirming Yazid’s immoral and corrupt nature, baseless claims of his innocence cannot be accepted.

3. The long distance between Sham and Kufah

Some opponents say that because there is a long distance between Kufah and Sham, which was then the administrative centre of the Umayyad government, it is unreasonable to imagine that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah could have been getting accurate reports and detailed accounts of the events that were taking place. For this reason, they claim that Yazid was not able to issue direct orders to Ibn Ziyad.


Firstly, abundant historical testimony has already been presented to substantiate that Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah did in fact receive regular reports from Kufah and write direct orders to Ibn Ziyad regarding the killing of Imam al-Husayn (as), such that there can remain no room for doubt about his role as the main player in this hideous crime. So, although there was a considerable distance between Sham and Kufah, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was in fact in constant consultation with his agents through letter carriers and deliverers and in this way was able to issue all the necessary orders.

Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah and the Massacre of the People of Medina


Some biased scholars and partisans of Bani Umayyah such as Ibn Taymiyyah have endeavored to come to the defence of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. They have gone so far as to recognize him as the legitimate Muslim caliph of his time.

However, in the end, reality compelled most scholars to admit Yazid’s

p: 111

atrocious crimes because his entire life was full of abominable actions and he was the cause of numerous calamities for the Muslims, especially during the three years of his usurped caliphate.

In the long term, biased adherents of Bani Umayyah could not continue to overlook Yazid’s many atrocities. Therefore, some schemed to either completely deny or justify Yazid’s brutal crimes.

One of the acts of sheer barbarity and inhumanity Yazid brought down on the Muslims was the event of Harrah. This incident resulted in the brutal killing of thousands of the Muslim people of Medina. The order for this massacre was issued by Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah himself. The event of Harrah is a well-known incident which has been discussed either briefly or in detail by numerous historians.(1) Now, let us examine this event.

The event of Harrah

The deplorable atrocity of Harrah, which blackened the pages of history, took place in the sixty-third year of the Islamic calendar during the reign of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah between the powerful armies of Sham and the people of Medina.

Harrah literally means a rocky and uneven terrain full of black stones passage through which is quite difficult. This well-known event acquired its name because the assault, which the government armies of Sham made on the ordinary people of Medina, began in a rocky eastern region of Medina.(2)

The event of Harrah is in all truth one of the most savage and horrible crimes of human history and the most appalling incident which occurred during the reign of Bani Umayyah. Ibn Mushkuwiyyah

p: 112

1- Minhaj al-Sunnah, vol. 4, p. 575.
2- Ibn Qutaybah, ‘Uyun al-Akhbar, vol. 1, p. 238.

narrates, “The incident of Harrah is one of the most dreadful and formidable events of history.”(1)

Origins of the uprising of the people of Medina


The uprising by the people of Medina occurred in 63 AH. Besides being an uprising against Yazid’s authoritative reign and Bani Umayyah’s tyrannical sultanate, it was more a peoples’ uprising against government policies. The uprising of the people of Medina was a popular and self-perpetuating social movement rooted in the people’s unanimous rejection of the rule of Yazid and Bani Umayyah.

The group of the Helpers [ansar] had chosen ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah to be their army commander and leader in the confrontation with Bani Umayyah and the Quraysh appointed ‘Abd Allah ibn Matih to be their commander.(2)

This revolution and uprising was caused by various factors, some of which we will now discuss:

Religious sentiments

Medina has always been an exceptionally important city because it is the city of Allah’s Prophet (S) and the land where the divine message grew, developed and flourished. It is the land where divine knowledge and wisdom where introduced. It was in Medina where the Prophet’s way of life was explained and people were instructed regarding it.

Medina is the land where people learned Qur’anic commentary and interpretation of the divine message from the Holy Prophet (S) himself. The Prophet’s (S) distinguished companions, including the Helpers [ansar] and the Immigrants [muhajirin], had lived there since the Holy Prophet’s (S) time. After the Prophet’s (S) death, some of his most renowned companions preferred to stay in that city because of the fond memories they held

p: 113

1- Tajarub al-Umam, vol. 2, p. 79.
2- Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 106; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 368.

about Allah’s Prophet (S).

It is evident why the people of Medina had a fervent inclination towards Islamic tenets and stronger religious sentiments than the people of Sham; they were more familiar with the Prophet’s (S) conduct [sunnah] and that of his successors and companions. It was for this reason that they were able to discern the wrong ways of Bani Umayyah earlier than others.

It was the people of Medina who previously were the first to voice their objections to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Uffan. Now, these same people were experiencing the rule of a raw inexperienced youth called Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. He knew absolutely nothing about politics and failed to uphold the sanctity of the tenets of religion. Accordingly, their disapproval and protest against Yazid sprang up.

‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan, the governor of Medina, had sent a group of men consisting of Immigrants and Helpers to meet with the caliph in Damascus, so they could present their grievances to Yazid and so Yazid could bestow gifts upon them to silence them.(1) During this meeting, not only did Yazid fail to win them over to his side, but his ignorant behavior proved his incompetence to them.(2)

When they returned to Medina, they explained what they had seen from Yazid. They gathered in the Holy Prophet’s (S) Mosque and started shouting to the people, “We have come from meeting a person who is depraved of religion, drinks wine, plays the tambourine and spends the night with base men, slave girls and female

p: 114

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 368; Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 5, p. 135.
2- Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 179.

singers and as a result has abandoned prayer.”(1)

The people asked ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah what news he had brought from the caliph. He replied, “I am coming from meeting a man whom, I swear by Allah, I would have fought if no one were present except my sons.” The people said, “We have heard that Yazid has given you money and gifts.”

‘Abd Allah answered, “It is true, but I accepted his money and gifts only for the purpose of using it to acquire and prepare an army against Yazid himself.” In this way, ‘Abd Allah started inciting and instigating the people against Yazid and the people responded positively to his calls for an uprising.(2)

Suyuti writes, “The reason for the uprising of the people of Medina was that Yazid had exceeded all bounds and every limit in committing sins.”(3)

Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as)

Ibn Khaldun recounts, “When Yazid’s tyranny and the oppression by his deputies became widespread, and after he killed the Prophet’s (S) son, the people of Medina started a rebellion and uprising.”(4)

When Bashir ibn Jadhlam brought the news of the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the taking of captives, it seemed in Medina as though the trumpet had been blown announcing the Day of Resurrection. The women of Medina came out of their homes and marched towards the city gates. Men, women and children, came out of their houses barefoot and shouting, “O Muhammad! Alas Muhammad! O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn!” It was very similar to the day the Holy Prophet

p: 115

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 368; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 6, p. 233.
2- Ibid.
3- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209.
4- Ibn Khaldun, Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 37.

(S) passed away.(1)

Imam al-Sajjad (as) made a sermon and his words had a strong effect on the people of Medina. In addition to that, Zaynab Kubra and other women, all mothers who had lost children in the battle against Yazid, gave public speeches and detailed what had occurred at Karbala. Each of the survivors was explaining the event of ‘Ashura and what had transpired at Karbala. They also gave comprehensive accounts of what had taken place for the captives on the way from Kufah to Sham and their meeting with Yazid. All this news had a deep impact on the community of Medina.

Political chaos and disorganization

One of the main causes for the uprising by the people of Medina against the Umayyad government was the immoral behavior and corruption that characterized political decisions. ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr wrote a letter to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in which he criticized Walid ibn ‘Aqabah, Yazid’s governor and representative in Medina.(2)

Ibn Zubayr wrote, “You have sent a harsh and brutal man for us. He does not pay the least attention to what is right and just. He does not pay any attention to the advice of well-wishers, nor does he heed the words of the wise. If you had sent a flexible person, we could be hopeful that complicated work might be made easier.”

Later, Yazid relieved Walid ibn ‘Aqabah of his post and replaced him with ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan. ‘Uthman, too, was an arrogant and vain youth who lacked experience.(3) It was during his time

p: 116

1- Maqtal Abi Mukhnaf, p. 200.
2- Nihayah al-Arab, vol. 6, p. 216.
3- Ibid.

as governor of Medina that the event of Harrah took place.(1)

The accumulation of the mentioned factors laid the groundwork for an explosion; the only thing that was needed was a spark and it came as follows: Ibn Mina, Yazid’s financial representative and the man responsible for collecting tax, made the intention of taking all the wealth he collected from Harrah to Sham for Yazid.

A group of protesters from Medina blocked his way. They confiscated all the tax and wealth which Ibn Mina was carrying. Ibn Mina reported the issue to ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan, the governor of Medina. ‘Uthman reported the issue to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in a letter he sent to Sham. As a result of this, Yazid was incited against the people of Medina.(2)

Yazid became very angry when he heard this news. He said, “I swear by Allah! I will send a large army towards them, and in this way I will crush them under the feet of horses.”(3)

Direct confrontation

‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah invited the people for the ultimate confrontation and battle with Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah and the whole of Bani Umayyah. His good public standing was the reason the people trusted him and organized around him. They even elected him to be the governor of Medina and paid their allegiance to him and deposed Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah from the caliphate.(4)

After this, the people expelled Yazid’s agent, ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan, from the city of Medina. This happened on the first day of the

p: 117

1- Al-Ma‘arif, p. 345.
2- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 250; Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 206.
3- Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 127.
4- Ibn Sa‘d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 47.

month of Muharram, the year 63 of the Islamic calendar (hijrah).

Then, they imprisoned all the family members of Bani Umayyah and their partisans among the Quraysh in the house of Marwan Hakam. They did not, however, harm the prisoners in any way.(1)

The deposed governor of Medina sent his torn shirt along with a letter to Sham imploring for help. He wrote to Yazid, “Answer our call for help. The people of Medina have driven our clan out of the city.”(2)

This letter reached Yazid at night. Yazid went to the mosque immediately, got on the pulpit and called out, “O people of Sham. ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan, the governor of Medina, has written to me saying that the people of Medina have expelled the family members of Bani Umayyah and all our partisans out of the city. I swear upon Allah, swallowing this news is harder for me than living without the beauties and pleasures of the world.”(3)

Dispatching the army to Medina

At first, Yazid chose Dahhak ibn Qays Fihri to be the army commander responsible for carrying out the attack on Medina, but he declined to accept this responsibility. Then Yazid chose ‘Amru ibn Sa‘id Ashdaq. He also declined to accept the responsibility. After him, Yazid chose ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. However, all three men, in one way or another, refused to carry out this responsibility.(4)

Finally, a man named Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah accepted to be responsible for carrying out the attack on Medina. Yazid appointed him as army commander for this confrontation.

p: 118

1- Ibid., Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 111; Ibn Khaldun, Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 37.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 114; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 127.
3- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 2, p. 9; Al-Mahasin wa al-Masawi, vol. 1, p. 46.
4- Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 179; Ibn Sa‘d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 176; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 11.

This man agreed to carry out this responsibility in spite of the fact that he was an ill person aged over ninety years.(1)

Government heralds called out, “O people! Mobilize for war with the people of Hijaz(2) and come to collect your reward.” The government was handing out a hundred dinars in cash to every person who was ready to go to war. It was not long before nearly twelve thousand people were gathered. According to another report, twenty thousand mounted soldiers and seven thousand ground forces were mobilized.(3)

Yazid paid two hundred dinars to every mounted soldier and one hundred dinars to every soldier of the ground forces. He then ordered them to march towards Medina in company with Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah.(4)

Yazid himself accompanied the army for a distance of about three kilometres before he bade them farewell.(5) Sham Christians eager to fight the Muslims of Medina could also be seen among the soldiers of Yazid’s army.(6)

Yazid gave the following orders to Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah, “Invite the people of Medina to pay allegiance to me three times. If they respond positively and pay allegiance, let them go free. However, if they do not respond positively and refuse to pay allegiance, fight them. If you triumph over them, continue the massacre for three days.

Anything that belongs to that city will be permissible for your army to loot. Do not stop the Sham army from doing whatever it wishes with its enemy. After three days, stop the killing and pillaging. Then, again

p: 119

1- Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 180.
2- The area now considered as the Arab Peninsula where Medina lies.
3- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 112; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 128.
4- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 371; Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 310.
5- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 56.
6- Tarikh al-‘Arab, vol. 1, p. 248.

ask for allegiance from the people. They should promise to be Yazid’s slaves and servants. When you leave Medina, move towards Mecca for another attack and confrontation.”(1)

Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah marched from Wadi al-Qura’ towards Medina with his soldiers. They camped at a place called “Jurf”, which was three kilometers from Medina.(2)

On the other side, the people of Medina were preparing themselves for confrontation and defence. They had been informed that the people of Sham were moving towards Medina.

When the army of Sham gained proximity to Medina, ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah called the people to the Prophet’s (S) Mosque. The people assembled near the Prophet’s (S) pulpit. ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah requested that anyone who concurred with him about this uprising should pay allegiance and promise to stand by him to the death. The people responded positively and paid allegiance to him. They promised to stand by his side to the death.

‘Abd Allah went on the pulpit. After praising Allah and mentioning a few other issues, he said, “O people of Medina! We have rebelled for no other reason save that Yazid is a fornicating and adulterous man. He is a drunkard who does not pray. Tolerating his reign will bring Allah’s punishment and tribulation upon us...”(3)

Confrontation between Sham army and forces of Medina

To protect Medina, the Islamic resistance forces of Medina used a trench which had remained since the Prophet’s (S) time. They neglected the eastern part of the city because they believed that there was a remote possibility that the Sham army would begin their attack

p: 120

1- Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 310; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 112; Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 180.
2- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 211.
3- Ibn Sa‘d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 47.

from the rugged rocky area.

They thought that even if the Sham army were to begin their attack from this area, it was still improbable for them to achieve any success. However, the Sham army took them by surprise and began its attack on Medina from that same stony area which the Islamic resistant forces had ignored.

The battle continued from morning up to afternoon. The Islamic forces of Medina were fighting and resisting fiercely. At noon, ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah asked one of his slaves to watch and protect him from behind so that he could recite his prayers. ‘Abd Allah then recited his prayers and returned to the battlefront to lead the valiant resistance against the Sham army. (1)

Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah asked Marwan to help him enter Medina. Marwan went to Medina and visited the tribe of Bani Harthah. There, he called for a man he was acquainted with and in the process of a secret conversation, Marwan managed to persuade this traitor to show him the way for the Sham army to penetrate Medina in return for generous rewards.

He showed Marwan a way which passed through the area of the tribe of Bani al-Ashhal and the Sham army used this route to infiltrate Medina.(2)

The first line of the Islamic resistant fighters responsible for defending Medina suddenly heard the shout of ‘Allah-u Akbar’ by the Sham army from right inside Medina. It was not long before they realized that they were being attacked from behind by the Sham

p: 121

1- Ibid., p. 48; Al-I‘lam, vol. 4, p. 234.
2- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 211; Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 310; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 129.

army. Many of the Islamic resistance fighters left the battlefield and returned to Medina in order to defend their women and children.

The Sham army attacked and killed innocent civilians from every direction. When ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah was finally killed, the Sham army gained the upper hand against the resistance movement of Medina. Finally, they gained complete control of the whole city.(1)

Massacre and looting of property in Medina

Ibn Qutaybah recounts that, “‘The Sham army entered Medina on the twenty seventh day of Dhu al-Hijjah in 63 AH. For three days Medina was plundered by the Sham army up to the appearance of the new moon of the month of Muharram.”(2)

Following Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah’s orders, and after the seizure of Medina, Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah told his soldiers, “Your hands are open and you are free to do whatever you want. You must plunder and loot Medina for three days.”(3)

Thus, the city of Medina was subjected to wholesale murder and plunder by the Sham army. Everything was permissible for the Sham soldiers. No man or woman remained safe from their harm. The civilians of Medina were killed and their property was looted.(4)

The brutal and wholesale massacre of the people of Medina was detestable. It was loathsome to see the descendants of the Prophet’s (S) companions, the Helpers and the Immigrants being butchered. The looting was despicable. However, the wholesale violation of females by the depraved and reckless soldiers of Sham was more contemptible and disgraceful than all else.

In this invasion of the Prophet’s city, thousands of women

p: 122

1- Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 130.
2- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, pp. 220-221.
3- Ibid., vol. 2, p. 10.
4- Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 181; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 17.

were violated. Thousands of children were born whose fathers were not known and these children later became known as ‘the Children of Harrah [awlad al-harrah].’(1)

The streets of Medina were filled with dead bodies. Blood flowed on the ground up to the Prophet’s (S) Mosque.(2) Children were mercilessly killed in their mothers’ arms.(3) The elderly companions of the Holy Prophet (S) were exposed to torture and dishonor.(4)

The scale of the killings was so great that because of his extravagance in killing people, Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah was from then onwards nicknamed “Musrif” ibn ‘Aqabah which in the Arabic language means ‘the one who is extravagant’. After this horrendous event, the people of Medina wore black mourning clothes and the sounds of their weeping could be heard from their homes for up to one year.(5)

Ibn Qutaybah narrates, “On the day of Harrah, eighty companions of the Prophet (S) were killed and after that day there was no Badri (person that took part in the Battle of Badr) left. Seven hundred members of the Quraysh and ansar were put to death and ten thousand innocent people of the community were killed from among Arabs, the tabi‘in and other virtuous people of Medina.”(6)

Suyuti writes, “In the year 63 of the Islamic calendar, the people of Medina rebelled against Yazid. They even dismissed him from the caliphate. In retaliation, Yazid sent a huge army towards them with orders to kill anyone who had rebelled. After that, the army was commanded to go to Mecca and kill

p: 123

1- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 2, p. 10; Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 181; Al-Bada’ wa al-Tarikh, vol. 6, p. 14; Wafiyyat al-A‘yan, vol. 6, p. 276; Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 113.
3- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 215.
4- Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 314.
5- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 220.
6- Ibid., p. 216; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 242.

Ibn Zubayr.

The Sham army came to the holy city of Medina and the event of Harrah came to pass. But what can make one comprehend what the event of Harrah was? Al-Hasan once narrated, ‘I swear upon Allah! There was no man who was spared in that event. A large number of the Prophet’s (S) companions and other people were killed. Medina was looted and a thousand virgin girls were violated. We are from Allah and to whom is our return!’

Allah’s Prophet (S) had said,

«من أخاف أهل المدینه اخافه الله وعلیه لعنه الله والملائکه والناس أجمعین.»

‘Anyone who terrorizes and intimidates the people of Medina will be terrorized by Allah and may the curse of Allah, the angels and all the people be upon him.’

This hadith has been narrated by Muslim’.”(1)

Ibn Qutaibah recounts, “When Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah finished his killing and looting in Medina, he wrote to Yazid, ‘Peace upon thee O leader of the believers… I did not recite the noon [zuhr] prayers until I conquered Medina and prayed right in the Prophet’s Mosque. This was, however, after a lot of killing and extensive looting. In keeping with your command, we followed anyone who escaped and killed all those who were wounded. We looted their houses three times just as you, the commander of the faithful, had ordered.”(2)

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi narrates from Mada’ini in a book named “Harrah”, that Zuhri said, “On the day of Harrah, seven hundred people, among them the elders of the Quraysh, the Helpers, the

p: 124

1- Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 4, pp. 37-38.
2- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 218.

Immigrants, and the well known and honored of Medina were killed.

In addition to this, ten thousand others including men, women and slaves were killed. There was so much bloodshed in Medina that blood reached the Prophet’s (S) tomb, and his mosque and garden were filled with blood.”

Mujahid says, “The people of Medina even took refuge in the Prophet’s (S) quarters and at his pulpit but there were swords that would even enter these places.”

Mada’ini quotes from Ibn Qarrah who quotes Hisham ibn Hisan, “After the event of Harrah, a thousand unmarried women gave birth to children whose fathers were not known.” Apart from Mada’ini, other historians too have narrated that a thousand women without husbands gave birth after this event.(1)

Some well-known people who were executed

After gaining victory over the people of Medina, Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah called for an assembly of some of the well-known personalities of the uprising. After a special and summary trial, he condemned all of them to death. The significance of these trials was to force these prominent people to promise publicly to be Yazid’s loyal slaves and servants.(2)

Some of the most prominent people that were tried and executed include:

1. Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib,(3)

2. Two daughters of Zaynab (daughter of Umm Salamah),(4)

3. Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn Khattab,(5)

4. Ma‘qul ibn Sanan (One of the standard-bearers of the Prophet during the conquest of Mecca),(6)

5. Fadl ibn ‘Abbas ibn Rabi‘ah ibn Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib,(7)

6. Abu Sa‘id Khudri (One of the

p: 125

1- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, pp. 259-260; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 242; Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 316.
2- Al-Futuh, vol. 2, p. 182.
3- Al-Nihayah al-Arb, vol. 6, p. 227.
4- Ibid.
5- Al-Ma‘arif, p. 187.
6- Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 133.
7- Al-Nihayah al-Irb, vol. 6, p. 227.

Prophet’s companions that had accompanied the Prophet in twelve of the holy wars [ghazwahs]),(1)

7. ‘Abd Allah ibn Muti‘.(2)

Jabir and the event of Harrah

Ibn Qutaybah writes, “Jabir was a blind man when the event of Harrah took place. He used to walk in the streets of Medina and say, ‘May the person who tormented Allah and the Holy Prophet (S) perish!’ A man asked him, ‘Who terrorized Allah and his Prophet?’

Jabir answered, ‘I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) say, ‘Anyone who terrorizes the people of Medina has tormented that which I hold dear.’’ A man from Sham who happened to hear this conversation attacked Jabir with a sword intending to kill him. Marwan stopped that man and ordered Jabir to be taken home.”(3)

It has to be mentioned, however, that one of the houses which was attacked and looted by the Sham army was that of Jabir. All of his household property was plundered

Mourning and Lamentation

Mourning and Paying Homage to Allah’s Awliya’

One of the precepts strongly recommended by the divine law of Islam [shari‘ah] is holding ceremonies with the intention of paying homage to the signs of Allah. Upholding this precept is considered an act resulting from the piety of the hearts.

There is no dispute or disagreement among the various schools of thought regarding the essential verdict pertaining to this precept. Disagreement, however, lies in the question of whether application of this verdict must be determined by divine decree alone or whether instances of its application can also be determined by common sense and wisdom.

In this chapter regarding mourning and paying homage

p: 126

1- Hilyah al-Awliya’, vol. 1, p. 369.
2- Nasab al-Quraysh, p. 384.
3- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 214.

to Allah’s saints [awliya’], we will examine this difference of opinion.

Different types of religious rites and ceremonies

Religious rites, which have been subject to objection or disagreement by certain sects of Islam, are of diverse kinds listed as follows:

1. Celebrating the birth anniversaries of the great personalities of the religion, such as birth anniversaries of the Noble Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). The Wahhabi sect considers such celebrations to be acts of innovation in religion. They contend that celebrating these days amounts to heresy [bid‘ah], straying and deviation.

2. Celebrating memorable days in the history of Islam like days on which great events happened, such as the day when the Holy Prophet (S) was appointed to prophethood, the day the glorious Battle of Badr took place, the day the Battle of Khandaq occurred, the day of the Conquest of Mecca, the night of the Prophet’s (S) ascension to heaven [laylat al-mi‘raj], the night of his migration to Medina, the Day of Mubahalah,(1) the Day of Ghadir(2), and other similar events.

3. Another level of holding religious rites and paying homage to the signs of Allah occurs, for example, when followers of the Fourteen Infallibles (as) inhabit and improve the areas around the graves and shrines of the religious awliya’. The followers of these infallible people build domes and minarets over their shrines in order to serve as a declaration to mankind that the people buried there are the true Imams and divine leaders for mankind. Therefore, the act of raising shrines on their

p: 127

1- Mubahalah was the day when the Noble Prophet (s) received orders from his Lord to challenge the Christians to come forward and engage in calling upon Allah to curse the liars. The Prophet was ordered to come with his near ones and the Christians too were supposed to bring their near ones. The Prophet came with al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Fatimah and ‘Ali. The Christians changed their minds about engaging in this encounter and backed down. The Qur’an says, “But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say, Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.” (Surat Al ‘Imran 3:61) [Trans.]
2- The day that Imam ‘Ali (as) was appointed as the Prophet’s successor. [Trans.]

graves serves to invite people to follow the Fourteen Infallibles (as).

4. Yet another way of paying homage to the signs of Allah is when Muslims make diligent efforts to preserve geographical places where important events took place. For instance, Muslims have preserved the sacredness of the location where the event of Ghadir took place, the Cave of Hira’,(1) the place where the Battle of Badr occurred, the mosques wherein the Holy Prophet (S) performed prayers, and various other places of this kind. Nowadays, many Muslims visit these sacred places with the hope of seeking gifts of divine favor.

5. Organizing mourning ceremonies in memory of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the other awliya’ of Allah is another way of paying homage to the signs of Allah. This takes the form of establishing memorial gatherings to commemorate the lives and the struggles against oppression of these great people. Muslims all over the world establish memorial ceremonies to honor Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom and recite accounts of his sufferings and the hardships imposed upon him, his family and all his companions in an attempt to keep alive his battle against corruption and oppression.

6. Another type of religious ceremony is gathering to recite group prayers and supplications with a common intention.

Reasons for the preference for holding ceremonies


People who believe that it is permissible and even desirable to hold religious ceremonies have resorted to a number of proofs. We will now refer to some of them:

A. Verses of the Holy Qur’an that permit ceremonies

There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an which talk about organizing and holding ceremonies:

1. “O you who

p: 128

1- Hira’ is the name of a cave where the Noble Prophet (s) used to go on retreat for meditation before being appointed to the prophethood. It was actually while he was in the cave of Hira’ when the first revelation from Allah was revealed to him: “Read in the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Honourable, who taught (to write) with the pen, taught man what he knew not.” (Surat al-‘Alaq 96:1-5) [Trans.]

believe! Do not violate the signs (rites) appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor interfere with the offerings, nor the sacrificial animals with the garlands, nor those going to the Sacred House seeking the grace and pleasure of their Lord.”(1)

﴿ یَا أَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا لا تُحِلُّوا شَعَائِرَ اللهِ وَلاََ الشَّهرَ الحَرَامَ وَلاَ الهَدی وَلاَ القَلائِدَ وَلا آمِّینَ الْبَیْتَ الحَرَامَ ...﴾

We can infer two possibilities from this verse:

a. One possibility is that the verdict is affirmative; meaning that Allah has in fact ordered believers to pay homage and reverence to religious signs and rites.

b. The other possibility is that the verdict is prohibitive, meaning that Allah intends to prohibit laziness when it comes to organizing divine rites. In other words, Allah has forbidden negligence as regards holding religious rites when we have distinguished their instances of application.

2. “That shall be so [the rites of the pilgrimage to Mecca], and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this is the outcome of the piety of the hearts.”(2)

﴿ ذَلِکَ وَمَن یُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقوَی الْقُلُوبِ ﴾

This is the most clear and indisputable verse of the Holy Qur’an which proves the permissibility of holding religious rites. This verse denotes in a general and explicit way that paying homage to divine rites is an act beloved by Allah.

3. “And as for the camels (of sacrifice), We have made them of the signs of Allah for you, for you therein is much good.”(3)

﴿ وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَکُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللهِ لَکُمْ فِیهَا خَیرٌ ... ﴾


p: 129

1- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:2.
2- Surat al-Hajj 22:32.
3- Surat al-Hajj 22:36.

this verse, the discriminate [tab‘idiyyah] preposition “of” [min] (of the signs) has been employed. It denotes that the camels brought for sacrifice during the days of the hajj are also considered the signs of Allah.

4. “Surely, Safa and Marwah are among the signs appointed by Allah; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit to it, there is no blame on him if he goes around them both.”(1)

﴿ إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالمَرْوَهَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَیْتِ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلا جُنَاحَ عَلَیهِ أَنْ یَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا... ﴾

5. “There is no blame on you seeking bounty from your Lord, so when you hasten on from ‘Arafat, then remember Allah near the Holy Monument…”(2)

﴿ فَإِذا أَفَضْتُمْ مِنْ عَرَفاتٍ فَاذکُرُوا اللهَ عِنْدَ المَشْعَرِ الحَرامِ... ﴾

This Qur’anic verse intends to pronounce and hence permit holding religious ceremonies, but it has employed the Arabic word “mash‘ar” instead of the word “sha‘a’ir”, which has been used in the other previously cited verses. Both these words connote ‘upholding the signs of Allah’.

B. Analogous verses permit celebrating signs of Allah

Analogous verses are verses which allude to celebrating the signs of Allah but the word “sha‘a’ir” has not been explicitly used in the wording of the verses.

1. “And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path, that they may witness advantages for them and mention the name of Allah during stated days over what he has given them of the cattle quadrupeds, then eat of them and feed the

p: 130

1- Surat al-Baqarah 2:158.
2- Surat al-Baqarah 2:198.

distressed one, the needy. Then let them accomplish their needed acts of shaving and cleansing, and let them fulfil their vows and let them go around the Ancient House. That (shall be so); and whoever respects the sacred ordinances of Allah, it is better for him with his Lord.”(1)

﴿ وَأَذِّنْ فِی النَّاسِ بِالحَجِّ یأْتُوکَ رِجَالاً وَعَلَی کُلِّ ضَامِرٍ یأْتِینَ مِنْ کُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِیقٍ * لِیشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَیذْکُرُوا اسْمَ اللهِ فِی أَیَّامٍ مَعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَی مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِیمَهِ الأَنْعَامِ فَکُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَآئِسَ الْفَقِیرَ * ثُمَّ لْیَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ وَلْیُوفَُوا نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْیَطَّوَّفُوا بِالْبَیْتِ الْعَتِیقِ * ذَلِکَ وَمَنْ یعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللهِ فَهُوَ خَیرٌ لَهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ ﴾

Scholars of the divine message and commentators of the Glorious Qur’an regard the above mentioned verse—which indicates veneration of divine ordinances—as an enjoinment to perform religious rights.

This is because according to principle, just as one can reason using a rationale regarding a specific subject so also may one reason using rationales regarding similar subjects or subjects that have something in common with the intended subject. However, this is only valid when the subject is generic or of a general type that includes many objects; otherwise, there would be an invalid analogy.

In other words, although this verse is specifically about the hajj ceremony, at the end of the verse ‘sacred ordinances of Allah’ are mentioned generally, so the verse can be applied generally.

2. “They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light,

p: 131

1- Surat al-Hajj 22:27-30.

though the unbelievers may be averse.”(1)

﴿ یُرِیدُونَ أَنْ یُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَیأْبَی اللهُ إِلاّ أَنْ یُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ کَرِهَ الْکَافِرُونَ ﴾

Because this verse comes along with verses about holy war [jihad], inviting people to the Oneness of Allah [tawhid], and propagating religion, it can be inferred that the part of the religion that the enemies of Islam want to extinguish is, in fact, the divine signs and rites which have been alluded to in the verse, “And whoever respects the signs of Allah, this is the outcome of the piety of the hearts.”(2)

3. “In houses which Allah has permitted to be exalted and that His name may be remembered in them; glorify Him therein in the mornings and the evenings.”(3)

﴿ فی بُیُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللهُ أَنْ تُرْفَعَ وَیُذْکَرَ فِیهَا اسمُهُ یُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِیهَا بِالغُدُرِّ وَالآصَالِ ﴾

If we take the verse that comes before this verse, the Verse of Light [ayat al-nur], into consideration, it shows that “in houses” [fi buyutin] means those houses wherein the light of Allah shines and the centres where the light of religion radiates. These places are the sources of radiation of the light of religion. They are centres of guidance and venues of observing the divine law of Islam [shari‘ah].

Allah, the Exalted, has willed that these radiant houses should be revered and elevated in status. These places deserve to be venues of continuous remembrance, worship and obedience of Allah.

We can deduce from this Qur’anic verse that Allah has willed that every place which serves as

p: 132

1- Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:32.
2- Surat al-Hajj 22:32.
3- Surat al-Nur 24:36.

a custodian for the exposition of Islamic laws and divine teachings (the light of Allah) has to be honored and revered.

We can also infer from the same above-mentioned verse that sha‘a’ir (the signs and rites of Allah) are not confined to any particular place; that is to say, they are not confined only to the rites and ceremonies of the hajj or other rites of worship specifically mentioned. On the contrary, everything that serves to spread and propagate divine laws is included in the meaning of sha‘a’ir, and anything that propagates Islamic knowledge and teachings is also included in the meaning of this word.

4. “And He made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.”(1)

﴿ ... وَجَعَلَ کَلِمَهَ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا السُّفلَی وَکَلِمَهُ اللهِ هِیَ العُلْیَا وَاللهُ عَزِیزٌ حَکِیمٌ ﴾

It can be understood from this verse that those things that serve to honor the word of Allah and to exterminate unbelief [kufr] are among the goals and objectives of divine law and religion.

5. “And Allah will by no means give the unbelievers a way (to triumph) against the believers.”(2)

﴿ ... وَلَنْ یجعَلَ اللهُ لِلْکَافِرینَ عَلَی المُؤْمِنِینَ سَبِیلاً ﴾

This blessed verse alludes to another dimension of the reality of the word sha‘a’ir and that reality is the aspect of proliferation of the glory and esteem of Islam and Muslims. Another aspect of sha‘a’ir is veneration of the Word of Allah [kalimat Allah] and attaching special importance to Muslims

p: 133

1- Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:40.
2- Surat al-Nisa’ 4:141.

in general.

The meaning of sha‘a’ir

1. Khalil ibn Ahmad Farahidi says, “Sha‘artuhu (from the same root as sha‘a’ir) means: I contemplated and reasoned it out and I understood it…”(1)

2. Jawhari says, “Sha‘a’ir are the deeds and rites of the hajj, and anything which is a standard of obedience and banner of submission to Allah, the Exalted, is a part of sha‘a’ir… and the sha‘a’ir of a group of people in war is their banner which distinguishes them from their enemies. Also, ash‘artuhu fasha‘ara means, ‘I explained it to him, and he understood’.”(2)

3. Firuzabadi says, “Ash‘arahu’l-amr means that ‘an order/command was made known to him’… and the shi‘ar of hajj are rites, ceremonies and manifestations of the hajj…”(3)

4. Ibn Faris says, “Ish‘ar means ‘manifesting and making something known by means of the senses’, and masha‘ir means ‘things that are apparent and known’. Its singular is mash‘ar, which means ‘position, situation or place which has been made manifest and apparent by means of certain signs’.”(4)

5. Qurtubi says, “Anything which is intended for Allah, the Exalted, and comprises a command serving as a sign of manifestation and declaration is called shi‘ar or sha‘a’ir. Shi‘ar means ‘a sign or indication’ and ash‘artu means ‘I declared’. Sha‘irah means ‘a sign’, and the sha‘a’ir of Allah refer to the signs and symbols of the religion of Allah.”(5)

What we can deduce from the preceding discussion is that the word sha‘a’ir can be employed for sensory declarations. Also, according to the usage employed by the Holy Qur’an, this word indicates ceremonial declarations

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1- Kitab al-‘Ayn, vol. 1, p. 251.
2- Sihah al-Lughah, vol. 2, p. 699.
3- Qamus al-Muhit, vol. 2, p. 60.
4- Mu‘jam Maqa’is al-Lughah, vol. 3, pp. 193-194.
5- Tafsir Qurtubi, vol. 12, p. 56.

and propagation of religion and spreading the Light of Allah.

This word has an additional aspect though and can also be employed to include the dimension of reverence and exaltation. Even though this dimension is not found in the essence and substance of the word sha‘a’ir, it exists in the essence of words which are affiliated to the word sha‘a’ir.

In conclusion, sha‘a’ir does not merely mean rites and ceremonies of the hajj as such. True, the ceremonies and rites of the hajj are called masha‘ir because there is an aspect of declaring and manifesting in them. However, to put it another way, the sha‘a’ir are not the religion of Allah in and of themselves, but exist as dimensions of honoring and revering the religion of Allah.

Implementation according to common sense and wisdom

When Allah, the Divine, has not intervened in the meaning of a given word, it means that the Divine Legislator has entrusted the duty of applying the meanings and themes of that word as is deemed relevant according to common parlance, common wisdom and based upon the judgement of pious people who are well-versed in the religious law [shari‘ah].

The term ‘sha‘a’ir of religion’ which has been exhorted and encouraged by Allah belongs to the above-mentioned group. For further clarity, we refer to three important points:

a. Terms which are used in the language of divine law and there is no reason for them to convey and transmit any new meaning apart from their literal meanings, retain their original and literal meanings.

b. If the Divine Legislator has supplied

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the meaning of a certain word, and has explicitly stipulated the manner of applying it, we must apply that word in the same manner He has stipulated. If Allah has not explicitly stipulated the meaning of a word, we must apply the meaning that is understood according to common practice and common sense.

c. Things exist in two ways: genetically (relating to origin) and contractually. For example, the terms used for most transactions such as buy, sell and rent are forms of contractual existence. Correspondingly, the word sha‘a’ir, which is often combined with words like Allah or religion to form compound words such as sha‘a’irullah (the signs of Allah) or sha‘a’iruddin (the signs of religion), can exist in these two ways. This is due to the fact that the genuine meaning of the word sha‘a’ir is manifestation or propagation, and because the Divine Legislator has not assigned a specific meaning for this word, we must return to the two previous points (a and b above); that is to say, all compound words made from this root word retain their commonly understood meanings and the genuine meaning of such words must be interpreted through religious custom.

On the other hand, since sha‘a’ir of religion indicate other issues, even though they are considered to be intrinsically genetic, sha‘a’ir indicate contractual meanings, not genetic ones.

Consequently, because the Divine Legislator (Allah) has not supplied the meaning of this word, sha‘a’ir, it therefore means what is understood from it by religious parlance.

To put it briefly, we adopt

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anything which the Divine Legislator has stipulated and apply it in the way He has specified. However, with the passage of time, new instances will appear which are deemed an instance of sha‘a’ir by religious parlance, common wisdom and pious people who are well-versed in divine law.

Therefore, there is no reason to shun acting upon these cases. With all certainty, we include them among the general meanings which denote revering and exalting the signs of Allah.

Responses to doubts


Opponents of holding mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn (as), such as the Wahhabis, have put forward some objections. In this section, we will discuss these doubts and skepticisms.

1. Only the Divine Legislator can originate laws

Some sceptics of holding religious ceremonies say, “Every ceremony that is based on religion has to be devised by the Divine Lawgiver (Allah). In cases where Allah has not devised a religious ceremony, holding such ceremonies will amount to innovation, heresy, deviation and attributing falsehood to Allah.”


With recourse to the exhaustive explanations which have already been given, there remains no room for doubt or skepticism about this issue because:

Firstly, originating or officializing laws is of two kinds: exclusive and general. In the case of exclusive origination by Allah, the laws must be followed. Regarding general origination of laws, we adopt all dictates that Allah has specified, and in instances where the Divine Lawgiver has not mentioned specific religious rites and their instances of application, we adopt and act upon religious parlance.

Secondly, it has been stated in the principals of jurisprudence of Islam that if Allah orders his

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servants to carry out a general act and does not place any limitations on performing it, man is at liberty to apply that act in every way he likes so long as there is no specific restriction placed on it by divine law.

A suitable example would be the place of prayer. Man is at liberty to pray in every place he likes so long as the place is not specifically prohibited by the religious law. The same rule is applied regarding revering and honoring the signs and rites of religion.

2. The necessity of delegation of auhtority by Allah

Some doubters say that if the Divine Lawgiver entrusts the matter of deciding when and how to hold religious rites to common parlance it follows that Allah has delegated religious lawmaking. They contend that this type of relinquishment is null and void.


Application of a general rule to a current specific instance does not amount to entrusting or delegating one’s lawgiving authority. Delegation in this sense is only true when the general rule has been obtained by common parlance. To put it another way, secondary meanings are of two types:

a. Predicate secondary meaning: in which the essence is consequential; hence, the predicate is also consequential, such as loss, sin, forgetfulness, disinclination, anxiety, etc.

b. Subject secondary meaning: which is defined as an instance that occurs to the subject, not to the predicate. The essences of these accompanying instances are not secondary but primary and only their subjects are secondary; such as instances which pertain to holding one’s parents in high

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respect and paying due honor to a guest and other topics of this kind.

Their predicates are primary, but their subjects are secondary; that is to say, different conditions apply in various instances.

About this particular matter, we say: paying due respect is a primary concept that is demanded by wisdom and divine law, but the customs and common practices that apply to paying due respect to others are subject to change and only originate in the subject of the predicate, not in the predicate itself.

In other words, respect itself is a constant, but the customs regarding respect vary. These customs have been entrusted to common parlance so long as there is no specific prohibition placed on the particular subject by divine law.

3. The halal (lawful) will be mistaken to be haram (unlawful) and vice versa

Some sceptics say that if Allah has ceded the command of holding religious ceremonies and other religious customs to common sense and wisdom, there will be mistakes in distinguishing what is unlawful [haram] as proscribed by Islamic law from the lawful [halal] because common sense and wisdom are not infallible. People are liable to make mistakes in perception and hence discern mistakenly.

With use of common sense and wisdom, we are at risk of perceiving wrongly and of failing to distinguish correctly what is halal from what is haram and vice versa. Sometimes, something can be perceived to be halal when in actual fact it is haram. Sometimes the opposite could happen and an act that is halal will wrongly be perceived to be haram.


Legalising that which is

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haram and making illegal that which is halal can only happen when one that is duty-bound makes a judgement about an act without presenting any sound reason, evidence or proof. In this instance, the above-mentioned protest put forth by the skeptics could be acceptable.

However, if the act of putting forth new edicts is based on proper evidence which conforms to divine law, even when that evidence is general in nature, there is no problem with such a decree because the evidence offered is correct.

4. This amounts to playing with basic doctrines of shari‘ah

Some maintain that if creation or establishment of religious ceremonies has been entrusted to the discernment of common sense and wisdom, the result will be vain sporting with the fundamental doctrines of Islam and futile play with the fixed bounds of the religious law [shari‘ah].


It seems that one who raises such an objection desires to reject the holding of religious ceremonies and perhaps harbours fears about acts which actually amount to spreading and publicizing the shari‘ah not distorting it as they contend. In fact, propagating the shari‘ah is an act that Qur’anic verses have emphasized.

Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ ... اَللهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ ﴾

“Allah has willed to spread His light and religion and shari‘ah.”

He also says,

﴿ ... وَکَلِمَهُ اللهِ هِیَ الْعُلیا ﴾

“And Allah has willed that His religion should be high and honored.”

Holding religious ceremonies is one of the many ways of propagating the shari‘ah. It is one way of exalting the divine law and completing the light of Allah. This is something that Allah has willed

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in a general way.

If the intended goal of propagating the religion and shari‘ah is to bring about some change and transformation in these two, then without doubt this act is null and void. However, applying the general concept of the signs of Allah to new cases and different themes does not automatically change or transform the religion and shari‘ah.

5. Extension of the concept to all instances

The skeptics also ask the following questions: if holding religious ceremonies and honoring the signs of Allah has been entrusted to people to decide, what difference is there with the different topics and instances of the shari‘ah?

We know that common sense and wisdom do not have any right to interfere in instances such as prayer, fasting, hajj, zakat, khums, and other similar instances. We know that no group of people can set up conditions and limitations for themselves regarding these topics. How then could Allah entrust the issue of deciding about religious ceremonies to common sense and wisdom, and yet forbid it from interfering in the above-mentioned instances?


The difference here lies in the restriction of certain instances; that is to say, one must differentiate between ‘the reality of the shari‘ah’ and its lexical meaning. In instances where the subject is the reality of the shari‘ah, the law of restriction to certain instances applies in full. This is opposed to instances where Allah has intervened in their subjects and meanings and has determined that the meaning of a particular word has to depend on its literal meaning.

It is in such instances

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where Allah puts the instance and meaning to general application in its entirety when He legislates and makes a law applicable. For example, when Allah commanded us to be kind and beneficent to our parents, he did not place the reality of the shari‘ah in this instance. He did not fix specifications or details regarding its exact performance.

Therefore, that which is incumbent upon man is to do anything which is an instance of kindness and altruism to his parents. Allah has not placed limitations on this instance and has left it to retain its literal meaning.

This is opposed to those instances that Allah has categorized as part of ‘the reality of the shari‘ah’ like the five daily prayers, hajj, fasting and other issues that pertain to submission and servitude [‘ubudiyyah]. These are instances where we can not of our own accord add limits and conditions, but have to follow the limits and conditions which Allah has placed on them up to the Day of Resurrection.

However, as regards details which are outside the essence of that action, we are at liberty to do as we wish, like when deciding in which place we would like to perform our prayers, unless we know that there is a particular prohibition on a particular place. In Islamic jurisprudence, this is called ‘reasonable and logical choosing’ [takhyir-e ‘aqli].

6. Desecration of fundamentals of Islam and pillars of the shari‘ah

The doubters say that if those things pertaining to the laws of Islam are entrusted to people to decide, it will lead to irreverence [hatk-e hurmat]

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and insult to the foundations of Islam as well as the pillars of the shari‘ah. It is clear that this is not compatible with the lofty aims and teachings of Islam.


The literal meaning of hatk (the Arabic term for dishonor and violation), is tearing the veil of modesty or the covering over a hidden affair.(1) In Islam, the intended meaning is attempting to discover the weak points of Muslims.

Regarding the above scepticism, we agree that allowing people to freely decide issues of the shari‘ah, such as issues and duties that are restricted, will doubtlessly lead to violating the honor of religion and the shari‘ah and result in the foundations of Islam being held in mockery and scorn.

However, in instances where the reality of the shari‘ah are not stipulated by the Divine Legislator, the duty of identifying the applicability of a general instance to individuals has been left to the wisdom and the common sense of the people.

7. Some rites and rituals are harmful

Some people say that performing certain rites and celebrating certain signs of Allah will bring about a lot of harm for Islam and Muslims, especially holding mourning rites for Imam al-Husayn (as) the performance of which necessitates bearing a lot of sorrow and grief. They say that, according to the laws of Allah, repelling harm by whatever means is incumbent upon man.


Regarding religious rites whose general instances are not from the category of restricted instances, we apply it in such a way that will not lead to unlawful acts. Non-confined instances consist of

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1- Sihah al-Lughah.

such issues as respect for one’s parents.

They can only be applied on the meaning that verifies and ascertains the general instance. This is because we do not claim that in general and in every circumstance every instance of non-confinement is applicable to every meaning.

In other words, that meaning has not been particularly prohibited. On the contrary, it has been specifically made lawful or encompassed in a general law. Otherwise, what harm can holding mourning ceremonies and explaining Islamic laws pose for Islam?

8. Ridiculing the shari‘ah

Some say that entrusting the application of the shari‘ah in some instances to common sense will result in deriding and making fun [istihza’] of the shari‘ah. And because it is incumbent upon every Muslim to protect the honor of the shari‘ah, it is therefore clear that the issue of applying the shari‘ah in all its aspects should be entrusted to none other than Allah.


Making fun of something is of several kinds:

1. Derision which is not right and so null and void

This type of istihza’ is not of concern because it involves mockery of something that is right and just in one ideology but misunderstood by those of other ideologies. For instance, sometimes people of other religions or ideologies ridicule or sneer at Islamic acts of servitude like prayer. This type of derision does not prove any deficiency or defect in the believers or in Islam itself.

2. Customary derision

This type of derision is a result of social differences in different environments and common practices that pertain to them.


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actions of every group of people depend on their interpretation of their environment, but it is always possible to find other groups of people who understand things in a very different way. However, these differences should not make us prohibit the application of what we understand to be the truth.

3. Derision in a true sense

Some kinds of derision have true aspects and will therefore lead to true violation of the honor of the shari‘ah and the religion. However, reason is capable of perceiving this kind of derision, because it is a matter of distinguishing decency from indecency. Therefore, in instances where the application of the general instance leads to real derision and scorn, we condemn and forbid such practices.

Mourning from the Viewpoint of Reason


One of the objections put forward by certain skeptics, such as the Wahhabis, is why the Shi‘ahs and lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) mourn or wail for the distresses which befell Allah’s awliya’ [awliya’] and why they cry for their sufferings and hold mourning ceremonies for them.

They ask: why do the Shi‘ahs hit their chests in lamentation? Why do they dwell on past events? Do awliya’ of Allah need us to mourn them or is it we who are in need of mourning for them?

The Wahhabis consider mourning for the awliya’ of Allah to be an act of innovation and heresy and say that there is no evidence in Islam to prove that it is permitted to hold mourning ceremonies. Therefore, they contend that mourning ceremonies are not

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a part of the shari‘ah and must be abandoned.

We will now examine this topic on different levels.

1. Mourning and the revival of the culture of ‘Ashura

With recourse to sound reasoning, we come to know that holding mourning ceremonies for Allah’s awliya’, especially the master and leader of all the martyrs Imam al-Husayn (as), is in accordance with logic because honoring Allah’s awliya’ through various ceremonies amounts to revering their great personalities and reviving their messages.

Without doubt, any nation or community which does not honor the great personalities of its history is condemned to failure and doomed to destruction. It is often a few great people who build history.

Some of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) messages

1. “In circumstances like these, I do not see death to be anything save prosperity and life with the oppressors is nothing but shame and distress.”(1)

«اِنِّی لا أری الموتَ إلاّ سعاده، وَالحیاهَ معَ الظالمینِ إلاّ برماً.»

2. “Death with honor is nothing but eternal life while life with abjectness is nothing but death.”

«لیسَ الموتُ فی سبیلِ العزِّ إلاّ حیاه خالده، ولیست الحیاهُ معَ الذلِّ إلاّ الموت الذی لاحیاه معه. »

3. “Beware that the illegitimate son of an illegitimately born man (Ibn Ziyad) has given me two options: either to draw my sword and fight, or to wear the dress of abjectness by swearing allegiance to Yazid. However, acceptance of abjectness is very far from us.”

«ألا وإنَّ الدعی ابن الدعی قدْ رکز بینَ اثنتین، بینَ السلّهِ والذلّهِ وهیهات منّا الذلّه... »

4. “We are from Allah and to whom is our return. When the Islamic community is afflicted by

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1- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 14, p. 218.

the governance of the like of Yazid, we have to bid farewell to Islam.”(1)

«إِنّا للهِ وَإِنّا إِلَیهِ راجِعُونَ وعلی الاسلامِ السلام إذ قد بلیت الأمه براع مثل یزید. »

5. “I have risen not to create disunion and inequity nor oppression and corruption among the Muslims, but to rectify and reform the ummah of my ancestor the Holy Prophet (S). I want to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. I desire to revive the way of my grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S), and my father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.”(2)

«... إنّی لم أخرج أشراً ولا بطراً ولا مفسداً ولا ظالماً، وإنّما خرجت لطلب الاصلاحِ فی أمهِ جدّی صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیهِ وآله، أرید أنْ آمر بالمعروفِ وأنهی عن المنکرِ وأسیر بسیرهِ جدّی وابی علی بن ابی طالب علیهِ السّلام. »

2. The affectionate relationship between the Islamic community and Allah’s awliya’ (as)

One of the most effective ways to prove people’s beliefs is inciting their sentiments. Stirring up people’s feelings is an important way of explaining or justifying their political and social beliefs. Man is more liable to be influenced when he looks at issues from the emotional point of view than from logical or other viewpoints. In other words, when it comes to proving man’s beliefs, the emotional or psychological perspective is more effective than other methods.

Now, when we pay attention to the issue of the martyrdom of Allah’s awliya’ (as), especially the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), we come to the conclusion that reminding people about the sad event of ‘Ashura and refreshing their memories about what transpired in the

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1- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, p. 184.
2- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 328.

history of Islam will result in incitement of their feelings.

In this way, we can take those great people to be our role models in life. We can thus communicate their messages to the people, because the messages and orders we receive from Allah’s awliya’ (as) are in actual fact messages and commands of Allah.

It is for this reason that after the event of ‘Ashura, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (as) used to weep and mourn for the martyrs of Karbala, especially for his father Imam al-Husayn (as).

The issue of mourning the awliya’ of Allah becomes clearer when we bear in mind the tribute paid by the Holy Prophet (S) to Imam al-Husayn (as).

The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«حسین منّی وأنا من حسین، أحبّ الله من أحبّ حسیناً. »

“Al-Husayn is from me and I am from al-Husayn, Allah loves the one who loves al-Husayn.”(1)

Similarly, the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«الحسنُ والحسینُ سیِّدا شبابِ أهلِ الجنَّهِ. »

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two masters of the youths of Paradise.”(2)

3. Spiritual benefits derived from the atmosphere at gatherings where mourning for Allah’s awliya’ takes place

Whenever mourning ceremonies are held for Imam al-Husayn (as), his heavenly spirit and divine soul is always present at the gatherings. This is also true of the other awliya’ of Allah (as); wherever mourning ceremonies are held for them, their divine souls are present in those gatherings.

Therefore, people from all walks of life can benefit spiritually by attending such mourning ceremonies. Elderly people and children alike can derive vast spiritual benefits from

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1- Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 1, p. 51, Fada’il Ashab Rasul Allah (s).
2- Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Sahih, vol. 5, p. 617; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 3, p. 369.

the graces and favors present in these ceremonies.

It has been narrated that one of the great people had said, “For the first few months after birth, take the cradles of your newborns to academic gatherings and assemblies where invocation of Allah takes place.

Take them to Husayniyyahs(1). Carry them with you when you go to places of mourning where the name of the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), is mentioned because the souls of the newborns are like magnets; they easily absorb knowledge and the invocations which are recited. They easily absorb the sacred soul of Imam al-Husayn (as).

Even though the newborn cannot speak, it still perceives and absorbs what occurs around it. And if it is taken to a place or places where sin is committed during the period of its childhood, the sins which are committed there corrupt the baby. If it is, on the contrary, taken to places of worship and knowledge, the newborn perceives the purity and serenity of those places.”

That same great man also said, “You should place the cradles of your newborns next to the rooms of commemoration of the martyrs of Karbala and the rooms where invoking Allah takes place. This was the custom of the scholars of past times. The effects which the newborn absorbs during this period remain firm and stable in its soul up to the end of its life.

They become a part of its instincts and natural attributes, because the newborn has absolute ability to perceive

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1- Places of assembly specially built for mourning Imam al-Husayn. [trans.]

during the period of its infancy, even though simple or ordinary people do not comprehend this important secret.”

4. Reform and guidance of the community

In addition to the fact that people gathering in mourning ceremonies where the name of the Doyen of Martyrs is mentioned express and feel love for Imam al-Husayn (as), they also attain to great graces from these gatherings because eulogy of Imam al-Husayn (as) is presented along with discussion of Islamic sciences including beliefs, laws and morals.

By participating in such gatherings, people can achieve spiritual prosperity and stimulate perfection of their faith, and that is exactly what Imam al-Husayn (as) sacrificed his life for.

Mourning as a Manifestation of Love and Hatred


Love and hatred are two opposing sentiments which occur in man’s heart and mind. Inclination or disinclination that we feel in our hearts and souls is derived from these two opposing emotions.

The love of some is incumbent upon man

We can deduce from logic and from evidence that has been transmitted to us in traditions that loving certain people is incumbent and binding upon man.

1. Allah

Allah, the Exalted, is the first of those for whom love is intrinsically incumbent upon man, because He possesses all the attributes of perfection and beauty, and all creatures are dependant upon him. Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ قُلْ إِنْ کانَ آباؤُکُمْ وَأَبْناؤُکُمْ وَإِخْوانُکُمْ وَأَزْواجُکُمْ وَعَشِیرَتُکُمْ وَأَموالٌ اقْتَرَفتُمُوها وَتِجارَهٌ تَخشَونَ کَسادَها وَمَساکِنُ تَرْضَونَها أَحَبَّ إِلَیکُمْ مِنَ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهادٍ فی سَبیلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتّی یأتِی اللهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللهُ لا یَهْدِی الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقینَ ﴾

“Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and

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your kindred and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and the dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait until Allah brings about His command; and verily Allah does not guide the transgressing people.”(1)

2. Allah’s Prophet (S)

Among the people who have to be loved for the sake of Allah is the honorable and beloved Prophet, Muhammad (S). The reason for loving the Noble Prophet (S) is that he is the intermediary of all temporal and spiritual graces. It is for this reason that he has been mentioned immediately after the name of Allah in the above-mentioned verse and it has been ordered that he, too, must be loved.

The Prophet of Islam (S) says,

«اَحِبُّوا اللهَ لما یغذوکمْ وَأَحِبُّونی بحُبِّ الله...»

“You must love Allah because he gives you all sustenance, and love me for the sake of Allah…”(2)

Moreover, the lofty spiritual virtues and moral perfection of the Noble Prophet (S) attract the love and affection of the hearts of all believers.

3. The Prophet’s Household [Ahl al-Bayt]

There is plentiful emphasis in the Qur’an and in Islamic traditions of both Sunnis and Shi‘ahs that believers must show their love and affection towards the people of the Prophet’s Household, not just because they are the Prophet’s offspring but because they posses the same lofty moral virtues, spiritual attainments and moral perfections as the Prophet.

In other words, they possess all the attributes of perfection and beauty

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1- Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:24.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 194.

in a comprehensive manner. Putting it more accurately, they are the very manifestation of Allah’s attributes of perfection and beauty. Therefore, showing heartfelt love and affection towards these lofty personalities in fact means loving the excellence that has manifested itself in them in a complete and perfect manner. The source of this good and excellence is Allah, the Exalted.

Therefore, expressing affection and devotion to the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as) is tantamount to loving and being devoted to Allah, the Exalted.

Loving good and virtuous people compels and drives man towards noble virtues because love is a force that drives man to his Beloved, and therefore he strives to conduct himself in the way that his Beloved approves. Loving exemplary models, especially Allah’s awliya’, is extremely beneficial from the aspect of personal training and self-purification.

Who are the Ahl al-Bayt (as)?


When we study scholars’ books of etymology and terminology, we come to know that what is meant by term Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S) are certain special and distinguished people. When we refer to books of tradition [hadith], we understand that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) do not comprise all the genealogical and causal relatives of the Holy Prophet (S). In other words, the term Ahl al-Bayt does not include all the ancestral relatives nor those related to the Prophet through marriage.

a) The term Ahl al-Bayt in etymology and common parlance

In his book entitled, “Lisan al-‘Arab”, Ibn Manzur Ifriqi says, “The Ahl al-Bayt of a person are those people who are nearest to him. The Ahl al-Bayt are people who are gathered together by

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genealogy and religion.”(1)

b) The term Ahl al-Bayt in the Qur’an and the Sunnah

Ahl al-Bayt has been employed for certain special people in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions. The term has been used for the Holy Prophet (S), Imam ‘Ali (as), Fatimah al-Zahra (as), al-Hasan (as), al-Husayn (as) and the remaining pure offspring, the nine Infallibles from the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (as). Umm Salamah says, “When the ayah, ‘Allah only intends to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the house, and to purify you a thorough purifying.’ was revealed to the Prophet (S), he summoned ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (as) and said, ‘These are my Ahl al-Bayt’.”(2)

Imam al-Husayn (as) said,

«إنّا اَهْلُ بَیْتِ النُّبُوَّهِ.»

“We are the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S).”(3)

On his authorized chain of narration, Muslim quotes ‘A’ishah narrating, “One morning the Prophet (S) left my house with a piece of cloth called “Kisa” woven out of black wool hanging on his shoulder.

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali joined the Prophet and was permitted to enter the Kisa. Then, al-Husayn joined them and was permitted to enter the Kisa also. After him came Fatimah and the Prophet made her enter the Kisa as well. Lastly, ‘Ali came and he too was permitted to enter the Kisa. Then, the Holy Prophet (S) recited the Qur’anic verse,

﴿ اَنَّما یُریدُ اللهُ لِیذْهِبَ عَنْکُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ البَیْتِ وَیطَهِّرَکُمْ تَطْهیراً ﴾

‘Allah only intends to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the house, and to purify you a thorough purifying’.”(4)

Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “When the Verse of Mubahalah

p: 153

1- Lisan al-‘Arab, vol. 11, pp. 27-28, Maddah Ahl.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 158, hadith 4705; Al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 7, p. 63.
3- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, p. 184.
4- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 4, p. 1883, hadith 2424, Kitab al-Fada’il al-Sahabah.

was revealed to the Holy Prophet (S), he called for ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. Then, he said, ‘O my Lord! These are my Ahl al-Bayt!’”(1)

The Holy Qur’an and love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

In the Holy Qur’an, Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ ... قُلْ لا اَسأَلُکُمْ عَلَیْهِ اَجْراً إِلاَّ المَوَدَّهِ فِی الْقُرْبی... ﴾

“… Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my near relatives…”(2)

This Qur’anic verse is popularly known as “the Verse of Love” [mawaddah]. In most books of Qur’anic commentary, Islamic traditions and history, the Verse of Love is known to have been revealed about the Ahl al-Bayt.

Suyuti has interpreted this verse. While commenting on it, he quotes from Ibn ‘Abbas, “When this verse was revealed to the Noble Prophet (S), his companions asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Who are your near relatives, the ones whom loving has been made incumbent upon us?’ The Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Ali and Fatimah and their two children’.”(3)

After praising and glorifying Allah in a sermon that he delivered after the martyrdom of Imam ‘Ali (as), Imam al-Hasan (as) said,

... وأنا من أهلِ البیتِ الّذی افترض الله مودّتهم علی کلِّ مسلم، فقال تبارک وتعالی: ﴿ قُلْ لا اَسْأَلُکُمْ عَلَیْهِ اَجْراً إِلاَّ المَوَدَّهِ فِی الْقُرْبی وَمَنْ یقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَهً نَزِدْ لَهُ فیها حُسْناً ﴾ فاقتراف الحسنه مودّتنا أهل البیت.

“… And I am one of the Ahl al-Bayt, whose love Allah has made incumbent upon every Muslim. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has said, ‘Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my

p: 154

1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 185.
2- Surat al-Shawra 42:23.
3- Al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 7; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 172; Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 168; Kashaf, vol. 4, p. 219.

near relatives; and whoever earns good, We increase for him good therein…’ Therefore, doing good works manifests your love of the Ahl al-Bayt.”

Imam al-Sadiq (as) asked Abi Ja‘far Ahwal, “What do the people of Basrah say about this verse, ‘Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my near relatives…’” Abi Ja‘far Ahwal answered, “May I be your ransom, they say that this verse was revealed regarding the status of all the relatives of the Holy Prophet (S).”

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, “They speak falsehood! This verse was revealed only regarding the Ahl al-Bayt, ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the companions of the Kisa.”(1)

The exclusiveness of this verse is additional, not real. Therefore, the verse also includes the remaining Imams (as).

Love of Ahl al-Bayt (as) in hadiths


Crying and shedding tears has been mentioned in many hadiths recounted by the different sects of Islam. In the hadiths, just like in the Gracious Qur’an, love for the Ahl al-Bayt has been emphasized in a clear and explicit manner.

We shall now refer to some of the relevant traditions:

1. Obligation for loving the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«ادّبوا أولادَکمْ علی ثلاثِ خصال: حبّ نبیّکمْ، وحبّ أهل بیتهِ، وقراءهِ القرآنِ.


“Instruct and train your children to have three characteristics; love for your Prophet, love for the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt and reciting the Holy Qur’an.”(2)

Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali (as), said,

«أحسنُ الحسنات حبُّنا، وأسوأُ السیئات بغضُنا.


“The best of good works is loving us and the worst of bad works is hating us the Ahl al-Bayt.”(3)

2. Love of Allah’s Ahl al-Bayt and His Prophet (S) are one

Allah’s Prophet (S) has said,

«أحبّوا الله لما یغذوکم من نعمه،

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1- Al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 79, hadith 66; Qurb al-Asnad, p. 128.
2- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 16, p. 456, hadith 45409; Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 1, p. 225, hadith 331.
3- Ghurar al-Hikam, vol. 1, p. 211, hadith 3363.

وأحبّونی لحبّ الله، وأحبّوا أهل بیتی لحبّی.


“You should love Allah because he gives you sustenance from his bounties. You should love me because of your love for Allah, and you should love my Ahl al-Bayt because of your love for me.”(1)

Zayd ibn Arqam said, “I was in the presence of Allah’s Prophet when I saw Fatimah al-Zahra enter the Prophet’s house along with her two children al-Hasan and al-Husayn. ‘Ali came after them and entered the house as well. The Prophet looked at them and said,

«من أحبّ هؤلاءِ فقد أحبّنی، ومن أبغضهم فقد أبغضنی.»

‘The one who loves these people has loved me, and anyone who hates them has hated me’.”(2)

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,

«من عرف حقّنا وأحبّنا فقد أحبّ الله تبارک وتعالی.


“Anyone who recognizes our right, and loves us, has in reality loved Allah, the Blessed and Exalted.”(3)

3. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is a foundation of faith

The Prophet of Allah has said,

«أساسُ الإسلامِ حبّی وحبِّ أهلِ بیتی.»

“The basis and foundation of Islam is love for me and my Ahl al-Bayt.”(4)

He also said,

«لکلّ شیءٍ أساسٌ، وأساسُ الإسلامِ حبُّنا أهل البیت.»

“There is a base for everything, and the foundation of Islam is love of us, the Ahl al-Bayt.”(5)

4. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is worship

Allah’s Prophet (S) said,

«حبُّ آلِ محمّدٍ یوماً خیرٌ من عبادهِ سنهٍ، ومن ماتَ علیهِ دخلَ الجنّهَ.»

“One day of loving Muhammad’s Ahl al-Bayt is better than one year of worship. Anyone who dies loving the Ahl al-Bayt will enter the Paradise.”(6)

5. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is a sign of faith

Allah’s Prophet (S) said,

«لا یؤمنُ عبدٌ حتّی أکونَ أحبَّ إلیهِ من نفسِه، وأهلی أحبُّ إلیهِ من أهلهِ، وعترتی أحبُّ إلیهِ من عترتِهِ، وذاتی أحبُّ إلیهِ من

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1- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 664, hadith 3789; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 150.
2- Imam al-Husayn (as) in the History of Damascus, vol. 91, p. 126.
3- Al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 112, hadith 98.
4- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 12, p. 105, hadith 34206; Al-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 7.
5- Al-Muhasin, vol. 1, p. 247, hadith 461.
6- Nur al-Absar, p. 127; Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 46, hadith 3.


“None of Allah’s servants attain complete faith unless he loves me more than he loves himself, loves my Ahl al-Bayt more than he loves his own family, loves my progeny more than he loves his own progeny, and loves my essence more than he loves his own essence.”(1)

6. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is a sign of purity of birth

The Holy Prophet (S) pointed at ‘Ali (as) and said,

«أیها الناس! إمتحنوا أولادکم بحبّه، فإنّ علیاً لایدعو إلی ضلالهٍ، ولا یبعدُ عن هدیًّ، فمن أحبّهُ فهو منکم، ومن أبغضه فلیس منکم.»

“O people! Test your children with love for ‘Ali, because he does not invite you to misguidance and he does not keep you away from guidance. Therefore, anyone of your children who loves ‘Ali is from you and anyone of them who does not love ‘Ali is not yours.”(2)

Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) said, “In his last will and testament to Abu Dharr, the Noble Prophet (S) instructed him thus,

«یا أباذر! من أحبّنا أهلَ البیت فلیحمداللهَ علی أوّل النعم. قال: یا رسولَ اللهِ! وما أوّلُ النعمِ؟ قال: طیبّ الولادهِ، انّه لا یحبّنا إلاّ من طابَ مولدهُ.»

‘O Abu Dharr! Anyone who loves us, the Ahl al-Bayt, must praise Allah for being granted the foremost blessing. Abu Dharr asked, ‘What is the foremost blessing?’ The Holy Prophet (S) answered, ‘Purity and legitimacy of birth, because no one loves us unless his birth was pure and legitimate’’.”(3)

7. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) inquired on the Day of Judgement

Allah’s Prophet (S) said,

«أوّل ما یسألُ

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1- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 7, p. 86, hadith no 6416; Saduq, Al-Amali, p. 274, hadith 9.
2- Tarikh Mukhtasar Damishq, vol. 2, p. 225, hadith 730.
3- Saduq, Al-Amali, p. 455.

عنه العبدُ حبّنا أهلَ البیتِ.»

“The first thing on the Day of Resurrection to be asked from any of Allah’s servants is about their love for us, the Ahl al-Bayt.”(1)

He also said,

«لا تزولُ قدما عبدٍ یومَ القیمهِ حتّی یُسألَ عن أربعٍ: عن عمرِهِ فیما أفناهُ، وعن جسدِهِ فیما أبلاهُ، وعن ما له فیما أنفقَهُ ومن أینَ کسَبهُ، وعن حبّنا أهلَ البیتِ.»

“On the Day of Resurrection, none of Allah’s servants will take a step forward unless he is asked about four things: how he spent his life, in what way he used his body, in what way he earned his wealth and spent it, and whether he loved us, the Ahl al-Bayt, or not.”(2)

Special or particular proofs

The hadiths which we have so far mentioned refer to love for the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in general. There is another group of hadiths which allude to love and affection for some of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in particular. We will now recount these hadiths:

1. Love of Imam ‘Ali (as)

The Holy Prophet (S) has said,

براءهٌ من النّارِ حبُّ علیًّ.

“The only way to gain salvation from the hell fire is to love ‘Ali.”(3)

Allah’s Prophet (S) also said,

«یا علیُّ! طوبی لمن احبّک وصدق فیک، وویلٌ لمن أبغضک وکذب فیکک.»

“O ‘Ali! Happy and blessed is the man who loves you and is sincere in recognizing your right and woe on any person who hates you and is a deceitful liar who does not recognize your right.”(4)

Umm Salamah narrates that she heard the Holy Prophet (S) say,

«لا یحبّ علیاً منافقّ، ولا یبغضه مؤمنٌ.»


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1- ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Rida (as), vol. 2, p. 62, hadith 258.
2- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 11, p. 102, hadith 11177.
3- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 2, p. 241.
4- Ibid., vol. 3, p. 135.

hypocrite loves ‘Ali and no true believer hates him.”(1)

Imam ‘Ali (as) said,

«والذی فلقَ الحبهَ وبرأ النسمهَ، إنّه لعهدَ النّبی الأمّی إلیَّ انّه لا یحبّنی إلاّ مؤمنٌ، ولا یبغضنی إلاّ منافقٌ.»

“I swear upon He who split the seed and created man, the Prophet verily promised me that no one will love me except the true believer, and no one will hate me except the hypocrite.”(2)

2. Love of Fatimah al-Zahra (as)

Allah’s Prophet (S) said,

«فاطمهُ بضعهٌ منّی، من أغضَبها فقد أغضبنی.»

“Fatimah is part of me. Whoever makes her angry, angers me.”(3)

It was asked of ‘A’ishah, “Who among the women was more beloved by the Holy Prophet?” She answered, “Fatimah.” They again asked her, “Who from among the men was more beloved by the Holy Prophet?” She answered, “Fatimah’s husband.”(4)

3. Love of Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as)

The Holy Prophet (S) said about al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as),

«هذان ابنای الحسنُ والحسینُ، أللّهم إنّی أُحبُّهما، أللّهم فأحبَّهما وأحبّ من یحبُّهما.»

“These two are my children. O Lord! I love these two. O Lord! May you too love them and love anyone who loves them.”(5)

He also said,

«الحسنُ والحسینُ ریحانتایَ.»

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are my two fragrant flowers.”(6)

The manifestations of love in man’s life

The love of a person who loves another is not confined to the heart and soul only. As has already been mentioned, love requires a practical application. The practical application of love is a source of manifestation in a person’s life, and it follows that if love for a person gains precedence, its manifestations and practical appearance are also promoted.


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1- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 635, hadith 3717; Jami‘ al-Sawl, vol. 8, p. 656, hadith 6499.
2- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 1, p. 86, hadith 131; Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 643.
3- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 92; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 4, p. 1902.
4- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 701, hadith 3874.
5- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, pp. 100-101; Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 656; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 446.
6- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 102, hadith 241; Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 657, hadith 3770; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 85.

logic of preference also includes practical applications of love, except in certain instances where manifesting love has been forbidden like in the case where it is implied that a person must bring about his own destruction or ruin for the sake of his beloved. This has been forbidden because there is no logic for its preference.

Now, we refer to some logical manifestations of love:

1. Submission and obedience.

2. Honoring and visiting the beloved.

3. Revering and paying tribute to the beloved.

4. Granting the needs and requirements of the beloved.

5. Defending the beloved in diverse ways.

6. Feeling sorrow because of separation from the beloved.

7. Preserving the literary and non-literary works of the beloved.

8. Respecting the children and descendants of the beloved.

9. Kissing that which is associated with the beloved.

10. Organising ceremonies to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the beloved.

One can easily see that holding mourning ceremonies is also one of the necessities and manifestations of love for the Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

The Psychology of Mourning


The most important benefits derived from mourning ceremonies are its psychological effects. Most people who take part in mourning gatherings do so with the desire of gaining psychological and emotional benefits.

Nevertheless, some people say that holding mourning ceremonies and having many sorrowful rites during the course of a year deprives the society of happiness and joy. They contend that these practices cause people to feel more unhappy and downcast and in effect bring about more discouragement and depression in the society. In this section, we will examine

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and analyze this issue.

The stages of mourning

Mourning or crying has an exterior (outer manifestation) and an interior (inner manifestation). Its outer appearance is physiological, and is a result of psychological influences by means of external or internal stimuli, such as thought and reflection. These psychological effects enter the physiology of the brain and the nerves and activate a special part of the brain which sends messages to the lachrymal glands to stimulate the eyes to become active. The result is that tears flow and this is what is known as crying.

The interior or mental manifestation of crying comprises its internal psychological effects. The psychological view, to which we concur, is that crying establishes affectionate and benevolent feelings.

Crying is emphasized in the traditions [hadiths], to the extent that it has been said that crying, causing others to cry or even being in a mood of lamentation when a person attends mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn (as) is a source of both worldly and heavenly benefits. Here that which is implied is the internal effects.

The internal psychological consequences of crying are divided into four types. The first is directed at the self and its repressed needs. This type of crying can intensify depression and can also cause an individual’s social abilities to be disturbed or confused.

However, the other three types of crying are encouraging and motivational because they have an inverse relationship with sorrow and depression. The first kind of crying is as a result of real sorrow caused, for example, by death; but

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the other three types do not possess real sorrow for present events, even though they take place in present-day mourning ceremonies. The four types of crying are as follows:

1. Crying as a result of relationship and affection

This type of crying takes place due to problems or when tragic events, like bereavement of a beloved, come to pass. Crying of this kind does not usually happen out of one’s own volition, but occurs involuntarily. This type of crying, in the terminology of psychologists and mental therapists, is termed psychological emptying or emotional release of the aroused feelings and is related to the individual and his repressed or unfulfilled needs.

2. Crying as a result of belief

This type of crying is that of a person who sheds tears during supplication while evaluating his present and future deeds and circumstances. This type of crying has its roots in faith and ideology and is not related to fears about this world and our day to day life.

3. Crying to seek perfection and excellence

Sometimes crying is a result of seeking virtue and moral perfection, like the crying which takes place when a teacher, a moral adviser, a prophet, an imam or anyone of high moral calibre departs this life. This type of crying views things from this perspective that we, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, have a strong admiration for perfection and spiritual growth.

We are overwhelmed when these types of perfection are available, and we become distressed when they are lost. The crying

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that takes place in mourning ceremonies is sometimes of this type.

4. Crying for the persecuted and oppressed

In this type of crying, we feel sympathy for one who is being treated unjustly or inhumanely like when we cry because of the harsh oppression that was imposed upon the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (as), especially the brutal oppression which was committed against the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), and other numerous hardships that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) suffered.

Mourning ceremonies and depression

Depressive disorders are divided into three main groups:

1. Major depression.

2. Habitual depression.

3. Circumstantial depression.(1)

Major depression is the most intense type of depression. Some of its signs include:

a. Feelings of sorrow, emptiness or purposelessness for the greater part of the day or even the whole day.

b. Visible and apparent decrease of interest in and enjoyment of daily activities for the better part of the day.

c. Visible decrease in body weight without abstaining from food or noticeable increase in body weight in the course of one month.

d. Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleepiness throughout the day.

e. Fatigue and loss of energy for most of the day.

f. Lack of self-worth or excessive feelings of guilt.

g. Decrease in mental capacity, lack of concentration and inability to make decisions.

h. Recurring thoughts about death.

Upon consideration of these three types of depression, it is clear that the first and third types are not intended by those who say that mourning ceremonies are a cause of sorrow and depression in the society.

The first type is extreme and it

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1- Anjuman-e Rawanshenasi-ye Amrika (American Psychological Association), p. 602.

is clearly invalid to claim that the Shi‘ah societies are widely afflicted by major or chronic depression and sorrow.

The third type of depression is also not intended by the sceptics because it is related to special and particular instances like premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or depressive disorders that follow psychological distress like schizophrenia.

Therefore, habitual depression and sorrow is that which is intended by critics. Habitual depression is relatively minor and has the following features:

a. Lack of appetite or excessive appetite.

b. Lack of sleep (insomnia) or excessive sleepiness.

c. Lack of energy or excessive fatigue.

d. Difficulty in decision making or feelings of helplessness.

e. The appearance or manifestation of these symptoms for the greater part of the day or for most days for a period of at least two years.

f. The symptoms are not a result of physiological effects due to inappropriate use of medicines, etc.

g. The symptoms result in disruption of the individual’s work and social activities.

Now, we will examine whether or not mourning ceremonies bring about the symptoms of habitual depression in man, and therefore cause social despondency.

In order to make this issue clear, it is necessary to scrutinize the factors which cause depression and despondency from the viewpoint of psychology. Psychologists have enumerated three main factors that cause depression: existential, hereditary and environmental stimulants.(1)

The surroundings or situation alone do not cause depression. In fact, negative stimuli in the environment are only effective in people who have a background of hereditary depression or biological disorder in the brain affecting its normal function.


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1- Anjuman-e Pezeshki-ye Amrika (The American Medical Association), Trans. Mahdi Ganji, pp. 67-88.

addition, mourning ceremonies cannot be classed as environmental causes that generate intense stress. Real grief and sorrow resulting from current tragic events can cause extreme distress and depression, but mourning ceremonies for the awliya’ of Allah play no part in producing intense stress.

On the contrary, and with due attention to issues discussed in social psychology about the characteristics of religious rituals, it can be said that mourning ceremonies play a strong part in stress relief.

In cases where tears and sorrow arise as a result of belief, because of seeking moral perfection and excellence, or due to sympathy for the persecuted and oppressed, they can produce tranquillity in man and remove agitation from his soul. To substantiate this issue, we will refer to an example in this regard.

Doctor Tayjani Tunisi says, “My friend called Mun‘im came and together we traveled on pilgrimage to Karbala. There, like the other Shi‘ahs, I came to understand the hardships and sufferings which befell our master al-Husayn (as).

That was when I understood that Imam al-Husayn (as) had not really ever died. The people were crowding and pressing upon one another all round his shrine. They were crying with unmatched grief and anguish the like of which I had never seen before. They showed so much agitation that it seemed like al-Husayn (as) had just been martyred.

I heard clergymen reviving the tragic event of Karbala. Their retelling of what came to pass on the day of ‘Ashura was arousing the people’s emotions and

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causing much wailing and lamentation. No one could listen to the story and bear its intense sorrow. On the contrary, some who listened to the account would involuntarily pass out. I, too, cried. I cried and cried.

I cried so much that it seemed as though grief had been trapped in my throat for years, and it was now exploding out.

After that wailing though, I felt inner peace. I felt tranquillity like I had never felt before. It seemed as though previously I had been one of the enemies of Imam al-Husayn (as), and in a split second I had been converted and become one of his companions. In a moment, I had become a follower of that great man who had sacrificed his life for the preservation of Islam.

Even more interesting is that at that very moment, a clergyman was giving an account of the story of Hurr. Hurr was one of the leaders of the enemy troops who had come to Karbala with the intention of fighting Imam al-Husayn (as). All of a sudden, Hurr started shaking and trembling on the battlefield.

His friends asked him, ‘What is wrong with you? Are you afraid of death?’ He answered: ‘I swear upon Allah! I do not fear death at all, but I see myself having the option to choose between eternal bliss in heaven and eternal perdition in hell.’ Suddenly, Hurr mounted his horse and started riding towards al-Husayn (as).

He hastened to meet the Holy Imam (as) and,

p: 166

as he was crying, said, ‘O son of the Holy Prophet! Is there repentance for me?’

Believe it when I say that this was the very moment when I could not bear it any more. I started wailing and threw myself on the ground. It seemed as though I was reliving Hurr’s part and was asking al-Husayn, ‘O son of the Prophet! Is there repentance for me? O son of the Prophet! Forgive me!’

The preacher’s voice had such a strong impact on the listeners that it caused the wailing voices of the people to raise to unprecedented levels. My friend, who had heard my wailing voice, took me in his arms while he himself was crying. He embraced me in the same way that a mother embraces her child. He, too, was shouting, ‘O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn!’

Those were moments when I perceived and understood what real crying was. I felt that my tears were cleaning and cleansing my heart. My entire body was being cleaned right from the core. It was at that moment when I understood the meaning of the Prophet’s words when he said, ‘If you knew what I know, then you would laugh less and cry more.

’ I spent that whole day in deep sorrow. My friend wanted to console me, so he brought some juice and cookies, but I had lost my appetite. I refused to eat and instead asked my friend to repeat the story of the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), because I did not

p: 167

know anything about it at all…’”(1)

The Religious Verdict Concerning Attending Mourning Ceremonies for the Awliya’ of Allah

On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari narrates that ‘A’ishah said, “When the news of the martyrdom of Zayd ibn Harithah and Ja‘far and ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah was brought to the Holy Prophet (S), he entered the mosque and sat there with signs of grief and sorrow showing on his face.”(2)

Ibn Hisham recounts, “When the Noble Prophet (S) returned to Medina, he heard sounds of crying and mourning. His eyes filled with tears. Then, the Noble Prophet (S) said, ‘But no one cries for Hamzah.’ When they heard this, the women of Bani Ashhal came out and started crying for the uncle of Allah’s Prophet (S).”(3)

Holding Mourning Ceremonies in the Interest of Unity

It is sometimes said that holding mourning rites is not compatible with Islamic unity because these ceremonies include protest against and condemnation of some of the Muslim caliphs. Therefore, it is felt by some that discontinuation of such protests and cursing for the sake of creating unity among the Muslims is binding and necessary.


Firstly, remembering the uprising of Imam al-Husayn (as) is not only in the interest of Shi‘ah Muslims, but also in the interest of all Muslims and freedom-seekers of the world, because holding mourning rites in memory of Aba ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn (as) establishes in man the spirit of seeking martyrdom for the sake of securing and establishing freedom and faith. This orientation can help free human societies which are now living under the yoke of captivity and exploitation.

Secondly, when the suffering of Imam al-Husayn

p: 168

1- Thumma Ahdaytu (Then, I was Guided), pp. 96-98.
2- Irshad al-Sari, vol. 2, p. 393.
3- Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, vol. 3, p. 105.

(as) is kept alive there is no negative mention of the Prophet’s faithful companions. It must be realized that the Prophet’s loyal companions loved and respected Imam al-Husayn (as). Some of them were even with him at Karbala and they attained martyrdom. The Prophet’s companions who were martyred include Habib ibn Mazahir, Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah, Burayr ibn Khadir Hamadani, ‘Urwah Ghaffari and others.

Commemorating the ‘Ashura uprising of Imam al-Husayn (as) has not been and will never be a cause of disagreement and disunity among Muslims.

Commemorating the struggle of Imam al-Husayn (as) against those hypocrites that desired to blot out the religion of Islam can only bring about more unity among Muslims and create division and discord between the Muslims and such deceitful tyrants as Yazid, Ibn Ziyad, ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d and others that wish to destroy Islam, but, then again, this is precisely what the tyrants and oppressors fear.

Beating the Chest to Mourn Imam al-Husayn (as)


It can be understood from Shi‘ah and Sunni traditions [hadiths] that there is no prohibition for beating the chest when mourning and grieving for Imam al-Husayn (as), even though it may cause redness of the chest. On the contrary, the action of beating the chest is in fact preferred.

A. The Shi‘ah traditions

The following traditions show that it is permissible and legitimate to hold different types of mourning ceremonies, including beating the chest.

1. Shaykh Tusi recounts that Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,

«لا شیءَ فی اللطم علی الخدود سوی الاستغفارُ والتوبهُ، وقد شققنَ الجیوبَ ولطمنَ الخدودَ الفاطمیاتُ علی الحسین بن علی علیهما السَّلام وعلی مثلهِ ُتلطُم

p: 169

الخدودُ وتُشقُّ الجیوبُ.»

“Hitting the face is nothing but seeking forgiveness and repentance, because the women from among the descendants of Fatimah (as) tore their clothes and hit their faces when mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as). For people like al-Husayn (as), we should hit our faces and rend our clothes.”(1)

2. A part of the holy prayer of “Ziyarat Nahiyah Muqaddasah” (Pilgrimage to the Holy Places) reads,

فلمّا رأیْنَ النساءُ جوادک مخزیاً... برزْنَ من الخدودِ ناشراتِ الشعورِ، علی الخدودِ لاطماتٌ وبالعویل ناحیاتٌ.»

“Like wounded horses, the women saw you… they came from behind their curtains with their hair disheveled and they were hitting their faces and wailing in loud voices.”(2)

3. In the same prayer, we read that the Imam of the Age, Imam al-Mahdi (as), addresses Imam al-Husayn (as) in this way,

«ولأندبنّک صباحاً ومساءاً، ولأبکینَّ علیک بدلَ الدموعِ دماً.»

“I weep for you every mourning and evening, and instead of shedding tears, I cry blood.”(3)

4. It is narrated that Imam al-Rida (as) said,

«انّ یومَ الحسین اقرحَ جفونَنا وأسبلَ دموعَنا وأذلَّ عزیزَنا بأرضِ کربٍ وبلا، واورَثنا الکربَ والبلاءَ الی یومِ الانقضاءِ.»

“Verily the day of al-Husayn (as) has lacerated our eyes and made our tears flow. It has made our beloved one (Imam al-Husayn) become forlorn in the land of affliction and grief. Al-Husayn (as) has left grief for us to inherit and sorrow to accompany us until the Day of Resurrection.”(4)

5. Shaykh Mufid recounts, “When Zaynab heard her brother, al-Husayn (as), reciting verses,

«یا دهرُ افٍّ لک من خلیلِ...»

She slapped her face, rent her clothes and passed

p: 170

1- Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 8, p. 325.
2- Kamil al-Ziyarat, pp. 260-261.
3- Ibid.
4- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 284.


6. Sayyid ibn Tawus narrates, “When the captives reached Karbala on their return from Sham to Medina, they saw that Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah Ansari along with a number of people of Bani Hashim had come for pilgrimage to the grave of Imam al-Husayn (as). All of them reached the place at the same time and started crying. They were grieving and hitting themselves. They mourned bitterly. The women of that land joined them and copied their mode and they mourned for Imam al-Husayn (as) for three days.”(2)

7. Ibn Quluyah narrated that the houris of paradise in the high heavens hit their breasts and faces for the sake of Imam al-Husayn (as).(3)

8. On his authorized chain of transmission, Kulayni relates that Jabir asked Imam al-Baqir (as) to explain what grief [jaza‘] meant. He (as) said,

«أشدُّ الجزعِ الصراخُ بالویلِ والعویلِ، ولطمُ الوجهِ والصدرِ...»

“The most intense grief is yelling, crying, shouting and hitting the face and chest…”(4)

B. Sunni traditions

Sunni Muslims have also recounted a number of traditions which prove the desirability of beating the chest when mourning over the awliya’ of Allah, especially the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as).

Now, we will refer to some of these hadiths,

1. Ibn Kathir narrates that when the captives passed by Karbala on their way back to Medina and remembered Imam al-Husayn (as), the women started crying and hitting their faces. Zaynab raised her voice and said, “O Muhammad!”(5)

All this took place in the presence of Imam al-Sajjad (as), who was in their company, but he showed no

p: 171

1- Shaykh Mufid, Al-Irshad, p. 232.
2- Luhuf, pp. 112-113; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 146.
3- Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 80; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 201.
4- Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 2, p. 915.
5- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 210; Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), p. 39.

protest against their behavior.

2. Imam al-Husayn (as) recited the following epic verse at Karbala,

یا دهرُ افّ لک من خلیلِ کم لک فی الاشراقِ والاصیلِ

When Zaynab heard his words, at that moment she rent her clothes, hit her face and and came out of the tent bareheaded and cried out loudly, “O my sorrow! O my misery!”(1)

3. Among the reasons cited to substantiate the permissibility of hitting one’s chest and face when mourning for the prophets, the awliya’ and their descendants, especially unique and unparalleled people in the history of mankind, is a hadith which Ahmad and other historians have recounted on authentic chains of transmission. They have recounted that ‘A’ishah said, “… The soul of the Prophet of Allah (S) was taken […], then I put his head on a pillow and the other women and I arose and started hitting ourselves. I was hitting my face…”

Regarding the chain of transmission of this tradition, Muhammad Salim Asad says, “This chain of transmission is correct and authentic.” (It must be mentioned, that the Shi‘ahs do not consent to the truth of all parts of this tradition, but that argument is reserved for another place and time. The current argument is in regard to the acceptability of hitting oneself to show grief.)(2)

4. It cannot be said that hitting oneself due to an affliction that has befallen him is prohibited, because Ahmad ibn Hanbal, on his own chain of transmission, has recounted through Abu Hurayrah that an Arab man came to see the

p: 172

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 319; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 59; Mufid, Al-Irshad, vol. 2, p. 94.
2- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 6, p. 274; Abu Ya‘la, Al-Musnad, note written in the margin, vol. 5, p. 63.

Prophet of Allah and started hitting himself on the face. He was pulling out his hair while saying, “I see myself delivered to destruction and perdition.” The Prophet of Allah asked him, “What is it that has delivered you to destruction and perdition?” He answered, “In the holy month of Ramadan, my wife and I had intimate relations!” The Holy Prophet (S) asked him, “Are you able to free one slave?”(1)

We notice from this hadith that the Holy Prophet (S) did not protest against this man’s action of hitting himself and pulling out his hair. In addition, he did not announce a particular prohibition regarding hitting the face and pulling one’s hair out. Instead he only told the man what to do to atone for his sin.

5. Ibn ‘Abbas narrates about the Holy Prophet’s (S) divorce from some of his wives, ‘Umar said, “I went to see Hafsah at her house. I noticed that she was standing and hitting herself, and the other wives of the Holy Prophet (S) were standing and hitting themselves.” I asked Hafsah, “Has the Prophet of Allah granted you a divorce?”(2)

6. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi says, “When al-Husayn was killed, Ibn ‘Abbas was constantly crying for him until finally his eyes became blind.”(3)

7. Jurji Zaydan says, “There is no doubt that Ibn Ziyad committed a great crime when he killed al-Husayn, a crime whose atrociousness has never before been seen nor occurred in the whole universe. Therefore, it is not a matter of concern if the

p: 173

1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 516.
2- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 2, p. 534.
3- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 152.

Shi‘ahs expose the oppression which characterized the killing of Imam al-Husayn. It is not a cause of worry if the Shi‘ahs weep or cry for him every year, and rend their collars while showing their remorse and sorrow, because he was killed in an unjust way.”(1)

Examination of the reasoning of opponents


Those who oppose beating the chest in intense grief for Allah’s awliya’ have resorted to a number of hadiths recorded by different Islamic sects and schools of thought:

Hadith recounted by Sunni Muslims

Bukhari quotes from ‘Abd Allah that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«لیس منّا من لطمَ الخدودَ وشقَّ الجیوبَ ودعا بدعوی الجاهلیهِ.»

“A man who slaps his face, rends his collar and promotes the legacy of the Age of Ignorance (before the advent and rise of Islam) is not from us.”(2)

Some have made use of this hadith to prohibit beating the chest and mourning for the awliya’ of Allah, including the Doyen of Martyrs, Aba ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn (as).


This hadith views the act of beating the chest as an objection to Allah’s decree and mourning as a means of protesting against one’s destiny when a beloved one dies. This is the view which most of the commentators of the book of hadith of Sahih Bukhari have adopted; among them ‘Asqalani, Mulla ‘Ali Qari, Kirmani and Qastalani.(3)

Kirmani writes, “If a person says that rending one’s collars and hitting one’s face will not cause man to be banished from this ummah (Islamic community), what therefore is the meaning of such a prohibition?” In response, we say that this prohibition is a result of

p: 174

1- Tarikh al-Niyahah, vol. 2, p. 30, as narrated by Jarji Zaydan.
2- Sahih Bukhari, no. 1220.
3- Fath al-Bari, vol. 3, p. 195; Sharh al-Kirmani ‘ala al-Bukhari, vol. 7, p. 88; Irshad al-Sari, vol. 2, p. 406; ‘Umdah al-Qari, vol. 8, p. 87.

intensity and severity. If the statement regarding the Age of Ignorance is interpreted to mean disbelief [kufr], like making lawful what is unlawful [haram] or the lack of submission to and acceptance of divine decree, then the prohibition is correct.(1)

Manawi adds a footnote to this hadith saying, “The above interpretation denotes lack of contentment, and assumes a lack of satisfaction with devine decree.”(2)

In conclusion, this hadith is not proof against beating the chest on the day of ‘Ashura while mourning over the sufferings of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the other awliya’ of Allah, because in this case beating the chest is a deed which is meant to show homage and paying tribute. It is done to show reverence to the religion and as a manifestation of love for the Ahl al-Bayt.

This sorrow and grief is in no way a display of discontentment with Allah’s decree. Such grief, in fact, is in one aspect exhibition of intense sorrow over the failure of Muslims to support Imam al-Husayn (as) in his struggle to keep alive Allah’s law and decree.

B. The traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

There are some traditions in Shi‘ah sources of hadith which appear to prohibit beating the chest and mourning.

1. Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah Ansari says, I asked Imam al-Baqir (as) about grief [jaza‘]. He (as) said,

«أشدُّ الجزعِ الصراخُ بالویلِ، ولطمُ الوجهُ والصدرِ وجزُّ الشعرِ من النواصیَ، ومن أقامَ النواحهَ فقد ترک الصبرَ، واخذ فی غیرِ طریقهٍ.»

“The most intense grief is wailing while saying “woe”, slapping the face and pulling the front hair out. Anyone

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1- Sharh al-Kirmani ‘ala al-Bukhari, vol. 7, p. 88.
2- Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 5, p. 493.

who mourns and expresses grief has certainly lost his patience and is on the path of impatience.”(1)

2. It has been recounted that Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,

«نهی رسول الله صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیهِ وَآله عن الرنه عند المصیبه، ونهی عن النیاحهِ والاستماعِ الیها.»

“The Prophet of Allah forbade crying loudly when one is afflicted with a misfortune. He also forbade mourning or listening to it.”(2)

3. ‘Amru ibn Abi Miqdam narrates that I heard Imam al-Baqir (as) commenting on the Qur’anic verse, “And will not disobey you in what is good.”(3) He said,

«إذا أنا متُّ فلا تخمشی علیَّ وجهاً، ولا تُرخی علیَّ شعراً، ولا تنادی بالویل، ولا تقیمَنَّ علی نائحهٍ.»

“The Prophet of Allah (S) told his daughter, Fatimah (as), ‘When I die, do not scratch your face, dishevel your hair nor mourn or cry loudly’.”(4)


Firstly, this type of hadiths does not prohibit the holding of mourning ceremonies. On the contrary, they intend to restrain or prohibit any action that is not compatible with submission to divine decree and the will of Allah because some people lose their control when a beloved one dies or when they are afflicted with calamity.

They complain and grumble in protest, and question Allah’s decree. However, when holding mourning ceremonies involves the recounting of the virtues and good deeds of the deceased through elegies and mournful poems, there is no problem with this.

Secondly, the traditions which apparently prohibit mourning and the reading of mournful poems are related to instances that do not have positive practical effects. However, mourning for

p: 176

1- Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 2, p. 915, Bab Kirahat al-Sirakh bi’l-Wayl wa’l-‘Awil.
2- Ibid.
3- Surat al-Mumtahanah 60:12.
4- Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 2, p. 915.

the awliya’ of Allah is reasonable and rational. We have previously shown that mourning for Allah’s awliya’ (as) is reasonable under stated general rationales.

It has also been shown that mourning for Allah’s awliya’ was the conduct of the Prophet of Allah (S), the pure and chaste Ahl al-Bayt (as) and the Prophet’s companions. Even the generation which came after the Noble Prophet and Muslims throughout the entire history of Islam have been holding mourning ceremonies for the awliya’ of Allah, especially for the sufferings of Imam al-Husayn (as).

We have also shown that such ceremonies have practical positive results for Muslim individuals and society.

Thirdly, in some hadiths, it has been explicitly stated that holding mourning ceremonies is permissible and that it is even quite desirable and preferable to grieve and express sorrow over the sufferings of Imam al-Husayn (as).

1. A hadith has been recounted that Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,

«کلُّ الجزعِ والبکاءِ مکروهٌ سوی الجزعَ والبکاءَ علی الحسینِ علیه السّلام.»

“Every kind of despondency and crying is disapproved [makruh], except grieving and crying for Imam al-Husayn (S).”(1)

2. Imam al-Rida (as) told his son,

«... إنّ یومَ الحسینِ علیه السّلام اقرحَ جفونَنا واسبلَ دموعَنا واذلَّ عزیزَنا بأرضِ کربٍ وبلا واورثَنا الکربَ والبلاءَ الی یومِ الانقضاءِ...»

“… Verily, the day of al-Husayn (the day of ‘Ashura) has lacerated eyes and made them swollen. It has caused our tears to flow because our beloved one has been exposed to abjectness in the land of Karbala. He has left for us to inherit sorrow and afflication for

p: 177

1- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 289.

as long as we are to live in this world…”(1)

3. Imam al-Sadiq (as) told ‘Abd Allah ibn Hammad, “News has reached me that a group of people around the area of Kufah and other places and also a group of women gather on the 15th of Sha‘ban near the holy shrine of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali and mourn the loss of al-Husayn (as). They recite the Holy Qur’an, and some among them recount the story of ‘Ashura and the events that came to pass while the rest of them weep and wail.”

Hammad told the Imam (as), “I witnessed these mourning ceremonies myself.” Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, “Praise be to Allah that He has made some men inclined and affectionate towards us (the Ahl al-Bayt), so that they may praise and extol us. They mourn for us and rebuke our enemies, and in this way clearly expose the ugly and unacceptable deeds of those who oppose us.”(2)

4. Ibn Quluyah quotes Masma‘ Kardin recounting that Imam al-Sadiq (as) asked him, “Do you commemorate the events of Karbala?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” He asked, “Do you grieve and express sorrow?” I said, “Yes, I swear upon Allah that I cry!” The Imam (as) said, “May Allah accept your crying and reward you for it. Be aware that you are one of those people who express sorrow for our sake, and show joy for our joy.”(3)

Wearing Black Clothes


There is no doubt that wearing black clothes, especially during recitation of prayers, is widely considered as disapproved

p: 178

1- Ibid., p. 285.
2- Ibn Quluyah, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 539, section [bab] 108.
3- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 289.

[makruh]. Muslim scholars have unanimous agreement on this verdict. The question here is whether or not this aversion to black is inherent? In other words, are black clothes disapproved just because they are black in themselves or are they disapproved for a specific reason, such as because they were the banner of the tyrannical caliphs of Bani ‘Abbas(1) or because they are the clothes of the people dwelling in hell?(2)

Shi‘ah traditions

1. On his authentic chain of transmission, Barqi recounts that Imam al-Baqir (as) said, “When my forefather al-Husayn was killed, the women of Bani Hashim wore black clothes while mourning him. They did not change this practice whether in the hot summer or in the cold winter. My father ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn prepared their food during this period of mourning.”(3)

1. On his authentic chain of transmission, Ibn Quluyah recounts that an angel from heaven landed on the sea and spread its wings. Then, she yelled and cried out aloud, “O inhabitants of the sea! Wear morning clothes, because the child of the Prophet of Allah has been killed (today). Then, he took some of the holy soil from Karbala, and took it with himself to heaven. Every angel it passed by stopped it in order to smell the holy soil. Spiritual effects and graces derived from it remained on them.”(4)

Sunni traditions

1. Ibn Abi al-Hadid quotes Mada’ini saying, “When ‘Ali (as) passed away, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib came to the people and said, ‘Verily, Amir al-Mu’minin (as) has passed away.

p: 179

1- Man la Yahdaruhu al-Faqih, vol. 2, p. 252.
2- Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 3, p. 281, section [bab] 20 from among the sections on clothing of one reciting prayer [libas musalla], hadith 3.
3- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 188; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 2, p. 890.
4- Kamil al-Ziyarat, pp. 67-68; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, pp. 221-222.

He has left someone to succeed him. If you endorse him, he will come to meet you. If you are displeased with him, you will not be coerced to accept his leadership.’ The people broke down crying and said, ‘Let him come to meet us because we endorse him.’ Al-Hasan (as) came to meet the people and gave a sermon while wearing black clothes’.”(1)

2. Abi Mukhnaf recounts that Nu‘man ibn Bashir communicated the news of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom to the people of Medina… All the women of Medina came out of their houses wearing black clothes and started mourning.(2)

3. ‘Imad al-Din Idris Qurashi quotes Abi Na‘im Isfahani recounting on his authentic chain of transmission that when the news of Imam al-Husayn’s death reached Umm Salamah, she made a black tent in the Prophet’s Mosque and wore black clothes.(3)

4. Ibn Abi al-Hadid recounts that Asbagh ibn Nabatah said, “After the martyrdom of Amir al-Mu’minin (Imam ‘Ali) (as), I entered the Mosque of Kufah. I saw al-Hasan and al-Husayn wearing black clothes.(4)

Reciting Elegies

Reciting Elegies in the Form of Prose


Some people ask: Why do the Shi‘ahs recite elegies when mourning over the awliya’ of Allah? Were these practices prevalent among the people who came before? Did the Prophet of Allah (S) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) participate in these practices when mourning for great people? Did the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions and those generations that came immediately after them take part in mourning practices or not?

With attention to history, we come to the conclusion that

p: 180

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 16, p. 22.
2- Abi Mukhnaf, Maqtal, pp. 222-223.
3- ‘Uyun al-Akbar wa Funun al-Athar, p. 109.
4- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah.

reciting prose was a common practice when mourning over the awliya’ of Allah during the early days of Islam. We will now refer to some examples:

A. Reciting mournful songs for the awliya’ of Allah


Upon study of the history of Islam, one can see that the Prophet of Allah (S) and his companions used to recite elegies. We will now refer to some examples:

1. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose

Halabli narrates from Ibn Mas‘ud, “We did not see the Prophet of Allah weep for someone as much as he did for Hamzah. He put Hamzah’s corpse in the direction of the Qiblah and stood over his deathbed. After that, he cried loudly and nearly passed out.

He recited, ‘O uncle of the Prophet of Allah! O lion of Allah! O Hamzah! O doer of good works! O Hamzah! O repeller of sorrows! O supporter! O protector of the Prophet of Allah!’”(1)

2. Fatimah al-Zahra (as) recited elegies in the form of prose

Anas ibn Malik recounts, “When I was returning from burying the Prophet of Allah, Fatimah looked at me and said, ‘O Anas! How did you manage to drop clay on the head of Allah’s Prophet?’ Then, she started crying, and called out, ‘O my father! You who accepted call of Allah! O my father! You who have gone to the presence of Allah! O my father! You who answered call of Allah!’”(2)

3. A’ishah recited elegies in the form of prose

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih says, “‘A’ishah stood beside the tomb of Abu Bakr and said, ‘The biggest affliction for me, after the loss of the Holy Prophet, is the loss of you’.”(3)

4. Imam al-Hasan (as) recited elegies in the form of prose

On his own chain of transmission, Tabari narrates that Khalid ibn Jabir quotes Imam

p: 181

1- Al-Sirah al-Halbiyyah, vol. 1, p. 461.
2- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 31; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 3, p. 197.
3- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 37.

al-Hasan (as), while reading out a sermon after the martyrdom of Imam ‘Ali (as), saying,

«لقد قتلتم اللیله رجلاً فی لیله فیها نزل القرآن، وفیها رفع عیسی بن مریم علیه السّلام وفیها قتل یوشع بن نون فتی موسی علیهِما السَّلام، والله ما سبقه أحد کان قبله، ولا یدرکه أحد یکون بعده. والله إن کان رسول الله صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیهِ وآله لیبعثه فی السریه، وجبرئیل عن یمینه ومیکائیل عن یساره، والله ما ترک صفراء ولا بیضاء الاّ ثمانمائه أو سبعمائه أرصدها لخادمه.»

“You have killed a man on the night the Holy Qur’an was revealed, on a night that Jesus, the son of Mary, was taken to the skies, and Yusha‘ (Joshua) was killed. I swear upon Allah! No one outran him before him and no one can comprehend him after him. I swear upon Allah! The Prophet of Allah used to send the man you have killed tonight to lead wars, while the Archangel (Jibra’il) Gabriel was on his right hand side and the Angel Mika’il (Michael) was on his left hand side. I swear upon Allah! He did not leave behind any silver or gold, except seven or eight hundred dinars that he had put aside for his servant.”(1)

5. Women recited elegies mourning for Imam al-Hasan (as)

On his chain of transmission, al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi recounts that Umm Bakr ibn Muswir said, “When al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali passed away, the women of Bani Hashim recited elegies while mourning over him for a period of one month.”(2)

B. Reciting elegies when mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as)


With reference to sources of Islamic hadiths (traditions) and history, we draw the inference that the Holy

p: 182

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 157.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 173.

Prophet (S), the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the Prophet’s companions, and even the generation which came after the Prophet used to recite elegies when mourning over Imam al-Husayn (as) during the days of their lives. We will refer to a few examples:

1. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose for Imam al-Husayn (as) even before the birth of Imam al-Husayn (as)

On his authentic chain of transmission, al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi quotes Umm al-Fadl saying, “One day, I came to the Prophet and said, ‘I dreamt a bad dream last night.’ The Noble Prophet (S) asked, ‘What did you dream?’

I said, ‘It was a bad dream.’ The Holy Prophet (S) insisted, ‘What did you dream?’ I said, ‘In my dream, I saw a part of your body being separated from you and being placed in my lap.’ The Prophet of Allah said, ‘You dreamt a good dream. If Allah so wills, Fatimah my daughter will give birth to a son who will be brought up in your lap.’

“Umm al-Fadl recounts, ‘Fatimah gave birth to al-Husayn, and just like the Noble Prophet had predicted, he was always on my lap. One day, I went to see the Prophet of Allah and placed al-Husayn in his lap. I looked at the Prophet (S) and I suddenly noticed that he was shedding tears.

I said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! May my father and mother be your ransom! What makes you cry?’ The Holy Prophet (S) answered, ‘The Archangel Gabriel came to me and informed me that my ummah will soon martyr him.’

I asked, ‘They will martyr this child?’ The Prophet (S) answered, ‘Yes!’ Then, he gave

p: 183

me a bit of the bloody soil of Imam al-Husayn which Gabriel had brought from the holy site of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) martyrdom’.”

This hadith has been recorded and recounted by a number of Sunni scholars, among them: al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Khatib Khwarazmi, Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki, Ibn Hajar al-Hayaīthami al-Makki, al-Bayhaqi, Muttaqi Hindi.(1)

2. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose for Imam al-Husayn (as) in the Mosque after the birth of Imam al-Husayn (as)

Khwarazmi Hanafi narrates, “One complete year after the birth of Imam al-Husayn, twelve angels came to see the Noble Prophet while their faces were red and their wings were spread wide, and addressed him thus, ‘O Muhammad!

Soon it shall pass that which befell Habil (Abel) from the hands of Qabil (Cain) for this child of yours, and soon it shall pass that the reward which Abel was awarded will be awarded to him. Also, soon it shall pass that the same kind of punishment which was accorded to Cain be accorded to the one who kills him.

On that day, all the angels in the heavens descended upon the Prophet (S) and consoled him over the sufferings and martyrdom of al-Husayn (as). They also informed the Noble Prophet about the favors which would be granted to al-Husayn (as). They gave him the holy clay which they had taken from the site of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom.’

The Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘O Lord! Make abject any person who abuses al-Husayn, and kill the one who kills al-Husayn. Do not let him live to enjoy the pleasures he seeks in his actions.’

When two complete years elapsed after the birth of Imam

p: 184

1- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 176; Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, pp. 158-159; Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 154; Al-Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah, p. 115; Al-Khasa’is al-Kubra, vol. 2, p. 125; Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 6, p. 223.

al-Husayn (as), the Holy Prophet (S) went on a journey. Along the way, he stopped and recited the Qur’anic verse,

﴿ إنّا للهِ وَإِنّا إِلَیْهِ راجِعُونَ ﴾

‘We are from Allah and to Him is our return.’ (1)

And his eyes filled with tears. I asked him, ‘Why are you shedding tears?’ He answered, ‘The Archangel Gabriel was here. He was informing me about a place called Karbala near the river Euphrates where my child al-Husayn ibn Fatimah will be martyred.’ It was asked, ‘Who will martyr him?’

He (S) answered, ‘A man by the name of Yazid, may Allah withdraw all blessings from him, and it seems as though I see his burial place in Karbala although they take his head as a gift to someone.’ The Prophet cut his journey short and returned in a state of sorrow. He got on the pulpit and gave a sermon. He advised the people to fear Allah.

Then he said, ‘O Lord! I have been informed by the Archangel Gabriel that my child will be made abject and killed…’”(2)

3. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose for Imam al-Husayn (as) in the house of Umm Salamah

On his authentic chain of transmission, Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates from Anas ibn Malik saying, “The Angel of Rain got permission from Allah to descend upon the Prophet. Allah granted it permission. The Noble Prophet told Umm Salamah to take care not to let anyone come in. Umm Salamah recounts, ‘Al-Husayn came and wanted to go in.

I stopped him from doing so. He ran away from me and went into the room where the Holy

p: 185

1- Surat Al -Baqarah 2:156.
2- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, p. 163.

Prophet (S) was meeting the angel. He climbed on the shoulders and head of Allah’s Prophet. The angel said to the Prophet, ‘Do you love him?’ The Noble Prophet (S) said, ‘Yes, I do.’ The angel said, ‘Beware! Verily your ummah (community) will soon kill him.

If you wish, I will show you the place where he will be killed.’ The angel clapped his hands and in the split of a second brought red clay from the site of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom. Umm Salamah got some of that clay and hid it. Thabit said that news reached them that this soil was from Karbala’.”(1)

4. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose in the house of ‘A’ishah

On his authentic chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir narrates that ‘A’ishah recounted, “One day when the Prophet of Allah was asleep, al-Husayn suddenly entered and went towards him. I tried to keep him away from the Prophet (S). Afterwards, I got busy doing my own work and took no notice of al-Husayn. He went near the Prophet (S). The Holy Prophet (S) suddenly woke up from sleep in a tearful state.

I asked him, ‘Why are you crying?’ He (S) answered, ‘The Archangel Gabriel has just shown me the holy land where al-Husayn will be martyred. The wrath of Allah will be very intense on the person who sheds his blood.’ Then, the Holy Prophet (S) put out his hand and showed a handful of dirt and said, ‘O ‘A’ishah! I swear upon Him in whose Hands is my life (Allah), this affair makes me mournful. Who

p: 186

1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 3, pp. 242, 265.

is this person from my ummah that will kill al-Husayn after I have gone?!’”(1)

5. The Holy Prophet (S) recited elegies in the form of prose after the death of Imam al-Husayn (as)

On his authentic chain of transmission, Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “I saw the Prophet in a dream. He was standing in a sad and distressed way. He was soiled and was holding a glass full of blood in his hands.

I said, ‘May my father and mother be your ransom! What is this in your hands, O Prophet of Allah?’ He answered, ‘This is the blood of al-Husayn and his companions. I got it today.’ Ibn ‘Abbas says, ‘We calculated when that day was, and found out that it was the same day when al-Husayn (as) was martyred’.”(2)

On their authentic chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim quote Salmi recounting, “One day, I saw Umm Salamah crying. I asked her, ‘Why are you crying?’ She said, ‘In my dreams, I saw the Noble Prophet (S) with clay on his head and beard. I asked, ‘What is this clay, O Prophet of Allah?’ He (S) answered, ‘A while ago I was witnessing the martyrdom of my al-Husayn.’’”(3)

6. Imam ‘Ali (as) recited elegies for Imam al-Husayn (as)

a. On his authentic chain of transmission, Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes Najja recounting that he and ‘Ali made a journey to Siffin. When they reached the valley of Niynawa, Imam ‘Ali (as) yelled and cried out aloud, “When you come next to the Euphrates River, bear patiently O Aba ‘Abd Allah!” I asked him, “What is the matter?”

Imam ‘Ali (as) answered, “One day, I went to see the

p: 187

1- Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, trans. Imam ‘Ali, hadith 229.
2- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 283; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 4, p. 397.
3- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 4, p. 19; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 4, p. 340.

Holy Prophet (S) while he was shedding tears. I asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Has anyone annoyed you? Why are your eyes tearful?’ The Prophet (S) answered, ‘Yes, a while before you came, the Archangel Gabriel left me. He came to inform me that al-Husayn will be killed near the Euphrates River.’

Then, the Noble Prophet (S) asked me, ‘Do you want me to show you a part of the clay from the land where he will be killed?’ I said, ‘Yes I do.’ Then, he stretched his arm out and gave me a handful of soil. I could not stop my tears from flowing, and I broke down and cried.”(1)

b. On his chain of transmission, Nasr ibn Muzahim recounts that ‘Ali (as) reached the land of Karbala and temporarily stopped there. It was said to him, “O Amir al-Mu’minin! This place is Karbala.” The Imam (as) said, “This place has much pain and suffering.” Then, he pointed to a place and said, “That is where their blood will be shed.”(2)

c. On his authentic chain of transmission, Hafiz Tabarani narrates that Shayban said, “When ‘Ali reached Karbala, he got emotionally excited and said, ‘In this place lie martyrs comparable to none save the martyrs of Badr’.”(3)

7. Imam al-Sadiq (as) recited elegies in the form of prose

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbah narrates, “Imam al-Sadiq (as) stood by the tomb of his father and said,

«أشهد انّک قد اقمت الصلاه وآتیت الزکاه وأمرت بالمعروف ونهیت عن المنکر وأطعت الله ورسوله، وعبدته مخلصاً وجاهدت فی سبیله صابراً محتسباً حتی اتاک الیقین، فلعن الله امه قتلتک ولعن الله

p: 188

1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, pp. 60-61.
2- Waq‘atu Siffin, p. 158; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 1, p. 278.
3- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), p. 162, as narrated by Tabrani.

امه ظلمتک، ولعن الله امه سمعت بذلک فرضیت به.»

“I bear witness that verily you upheld the prayers, gave charity, and enjoined the lawful and forbade sinful acts. You obeyed Allah and his Prophet, and worshiped Him with sincerity of heart. You struggled in His way patiently with firm forbearance, and left everything to be judged by Allah. You reached the station of complete certainty. May Allah therefore curse the community which killed you, curse the people who oppressed you, and curse the nation who heard about your martyrdom and became pleased by it!”(1)

8. Umm al-Banin recited elegies in the form of prose

Abu al-Faraj Isfahani narrates, “Umm al-Banin was a mother of four sons who had all been killed. She used to go to the Baqi‘ graveyard and recite heart-rending prose. The people would encircle her and listen to her heartbreaking lamentations. One of the people who used to come and listen to her was Marwan, and he used to cry upon listening to her sorrowful prose.”(2)

9. Zaynab (as) recited elegies in the form of prose

Abu al-Faraj Isfahani and other historians have quoted from Hamid saying, “When ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Akbar made the intention to go on the battlefield, I saw a woman come out of a tent with such speed that it seemed as if the sun had just arisen. She repeated,

«یا حبیباه، یابن اخاه!»

‘O my dear friend! O son of my brother!’

I asked people about her. They said, ‘She is Zaynab, the daughter of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).’ Later, when ‘Ali Akbar was martyred, she came and threw herself on his corpse. Al-Husayn came and got

p: 189

1- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 8.
2- Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 85.

her by the arm and returned her to the tent.”(1)

Tabari and other historians have recounted, “When the eleventh day of the month of Muharram came, Ibn Sa‘d gave orders that the caravan of captives should leave Karbala. The wives of Imam al-Husayn (as), his children, his sisters and the daughters of the Imam were with Zaynab in the caravan.

They were moved around like Turkish and Roman captives. The women said, ‘By Allah, let us pass through the battle area of Imam al-Husayn (as).’ The captives were taken through the area where the bodies of Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions had fallen. When the women saw the dead bodies, they cried out and wailed loudly and hit their faces.”

The narrator of this incident says, “I swear upon Allah! I cannot forget Zaynab who was lamenting with a broken heart and a desolate voice,

یا محمّداه،! صلّی علیک ملیک السماء، هذا حسینک مرمّل بالدماء، مقطّع الاعضاء، وبناتک سبایا، الی الله المشتکی، والی محمد المصطفی والی علی المرتضی والی فاطمه الزهراء، والی حمزه سید الشهداء. یا محمّداه،! هذا حسین بالعری، تسفی علیه ریح الصبا، قتیل اولاد البغایا،! واحزناه، واکرباه علیک یا ابا عبد الله،! الیوم مات جدی رسول الله، یا أصحاب محمّد! هولاء ذریه المصطفی یساقون سوق السبایا.

‘O Muhammad! Upon whom the angels send blessings, this is your al-Husayn who is immersed in blood. His body parts have been torn to pieces and his daughters have been taken into captivity. I complain to Allah, to Muhammad al-Mustafa (the Chosen One of Allah),

p: 190

1- Ibid., p. 115; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 33; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 6, p. 256.

‘Ali al-Murtada, Fatimah al-Zahra and Hamzah, the Doyen of Martyrs! O Muhammad! This is al-Husayn left forlorn in this desert and wilderness while the wind blows over him. He has been killed by children born out of adultery. I seek safety from your sorrow and suffering, O Aba ‘Abd Allah! Today, my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah, passed away. O companions of Muhammad! These are the progeny of al-Mustafa who are being taken as captives’.”

Then, the narrator says, “I swear upon Allah! At that very moment, Zaynab caused everyone to cry, friend and foe alike.”(1)

10. Ibn ‘Abbas recited elegies in the form of prose

While addressing Yazid, Ibn ‘Abbas said, “You want me to help you and you compel me to become friends with you while it is you who killed al-Husayn and the youths of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. These people were the lights and bright stars of guidance.

The armies, acting under your direct orders, shed their blood and plundered their bodies. Their heads were separated from their bodies while they were thirsty.”(2)

11. Zayd ibn Arqam recited elegies in the form of prose

Ibn Hajar and others have narrated that, “When they brought the head of Imam al-Husayn before Ibn Ziyad in Kufah, he started hitting the teeth of Imam al-Husayn with a wooden stick. Zayd ibn Arqam was also present and said to Ibn Ziyad, ‘Remove that wooden stick from your hand, I swear upon Allah! For a long period of time I saw the Prophet of Allah kiss between those two lips.’ Then, he started crying.”(3)

12. Hasan Basri recited elegies in the form of prose

Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates from Zuhri, “When the news about al-Husayn’s death reached Hasan

p: 191

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 465; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 32; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 189.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 50; Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 7, p. 25; Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 4, p. 18.
3- Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah, p. 118; Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 231; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 349.

Basri, he cried so much that both his cheeks became wet. Then, he said, ‘May the ummah (community) which killed the son of the daughter of the Prophet be despised. I swear upon Allah! The head of al-Husayn will return to his grandfather, and his grandfather and father will exact vengeance upon the son of Marjanah’.”(1)

Reciting elegies in the form of poetry


There is no doubt that reciting elegies in the form of poetry has a useful effect on the spirit, psyche and emotions. Therefore, if lamentation is presented in the form of poetry, the hearts and souls of people are affected more.

When the event of Karbala, which in itself is a stimulator of the emotions and feelings of Muslims, is presented in the form of poetry, the effects produced are even more worthwhile. Poetry is highly effective at awakening the feelings and emotions of people, so through poetry Imam al-Husayn (as) and his lofty aims and objectives can be made known to the people more effectively.

Now, we will examine this issue from the viewpoint of the divine law of Islam:

Reasoning regarding the recitation of poetic elegies


To substantiate that it is permissible, even desirable, to recite elegies in the form of poetry, we refer to a number of proofs:

1. The precept of permissibility [ibahah]

The basic principle in all acts is that all things are permissible [mubah] so long as there is no evidence that contradicts it. This precept is applicable to the recitation of elegies also. Because reciting elegies in the form of poetry has not been refuted, on the contrary, there is evidence to

p: 192

1- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 240.

prove that it is desirable; it is therefore included in this basic principle of permissibility [ibahah].

2. Exalting and venerating the mottos [sha‘a’ir] of religion

If the person about whom one intends to recite mourning poetry is an awliya’ of Allah or one of the pious leaders of the Islamic community, we can easily attract the people’s attention towards him by reciting elegies in the form of poetry. In the end, this will encourage people to follow and obey that person.

This is what is meant by following and obeying the friends and trusted ones of Allah and their orders. Therefore, it can be said that reciting elegies in the form of poetry is one of the most evident forms of exalting divine sanctities and venerating the signs of Allah.

3. The poetic elegies of Prophet Adam (as)

On his chain of transmission, Tabari narrates that Imam ‘Ali said, “When the child of Adam (Abel) was killed by his brother (Cain), Prophet Adam cried and recited this elegy,

تغیرت ِ البلاد ُ ومن علیها فلون ُ الارض ِ مغبّر قبیح ُ

تغیر کلّ ُ ذی طعم ٍ ولون ٍ وقلّ بشاشه ُ الوجه ِ الملیح ُ522

4. Poetic elegies recited for the Holy Prophet (S)


A large number of the Prophet’s (S) companions used to recite elegies when mourning over the Holy Prophet (S).

A. Poetic elegies of Fatimah al-Zahra (as)

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbah recounts that Fatimah (as) stood at the head of her father’s tomb and recited,

فقد ناک فقد َ الارض ِ وابلها وغاب َ مذغبت عنّا الوحیّ ُ والکتب ُ

فلیت َ قبلک کان َ الموت ُ صادفنا لمّا نعیت َ وحالتْ دونک الکثب ُ523

B. Poetic elegies of the daughter of ‘Abd al-Muttalib

ألا یا رسول َ الله ِ کنت َ رجاء َنا وکنت َ بنا برّاً ولم تک جافیاً


p: 193

َ رحیماً هادیاً ومعلّماً لبیک ِ علیک الیوم َ من کان َ باکیاً 524

C. Poetic elegies of Hassan ibn Thabit

ومالک لا تبکین َ ذاالنعمه ِ التی علی الناس ِ منها سائغ ٌ یتغمّد ُ

فجودی علیه ِ بالمدموع ِ وأعولی لفقد ِ الذی لا مثله ٌ الدهر ٌ یوجد ٌ

وما فقد َ الماضون َ مثل َ محمّد ٍ ولا مثله ُ حتّی القیامه ِ یفقد ُ

D. Poetic elegies of Abu Sufiyan ibn Harith

Ibn Ishaq says, “Abu Sufiyan ibn Harith cried a lot in grieving for the Holy Prophet and recited this elegy,

أرّقت ُ فبات َ لیلی لایزول ُ ولیل ُ أخی المصیبه ِ فیه طول ُ

فاسعدنی البکاء ُ وذاک فیما أ ُصیب المسلمون َ به قلیل ُ

لقد عظمتْ مصیبتنا وجلّتْ عشیه َ قیل َ: قد قُبِضَ الرسول ُ525

E. Poetic elegies of Abi Dhu’ayb ibn Hadhali

کُسفِتْ لمصرعهِ النجومُ وبدرُها وتزعزعتْ آطامُ بطنِ الأبطحِ

وتزعزعتْ أجبالُ یثربَ کلُّها ونخیلُها لحلولِ خطبٍ مفدحِ526

F. Poetic elegies of Abi al-Haytham ibn Tayyahan

لقد جدعتْ آذانُنا وانوفُنا غداهَ فجئْنا بالنّبی محمّدِ527

G. Poetic elegies of Umm Ra‘lah Qushayriyyah

یا دارَ فاطمهَ المعمورُ ساحتُها هیجتِ لی حَزَناً حُییتِ من دارِ528

H. Poetic elegies of ‘Amir ibn Tufayl

بکتِ الارضُ والسماءُ علی النو رِ الذی کانَ للعبادِ سراجاً

من هدینا به الی سبیل ال قٍ وکنّا لانعرفُ المنهاجا529

I. Poetic elegies of Suad ibn Qarib

بکتْ علیهِ ارضُنا و سماؤُنا وتصدّعتْ وجداً به الاکبادُ

لو قیلَ: تفدون النّبیَّ محمداً بُذلتْ لهُ الاموالُ والاولادُ

5. Recitation of poetic elegies before the Holy Prophet (S)


The Prophet’s (S) companions used to recite elegies for many people in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S) himself and the Prophet not only did not prohibit them from doing so, but he encouraged them as well.

A. Poetic elegies for Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib

Safiyyah, the daughter of ‘Abd al-Muttalib and the sister of Hamzah, recited,

أسائلهٌ اصحابَ أحدٍ مخافهً بناتِ أبی من أعجمٍ وخبیرِ

فقالَ الخبیرُ إنّ حمزهَ قد ثوی وزیرُ رسولِ اللهِ خیرُ وزیرِ

دعاهُ الی الحقّ ذوالعرشِ دعوهً الی جنّهٍ یَحیا بها وسرورُ 530

When mourning for Hamzah, Ka‘b ibn Malik used to recite,

صفیهُ قومی ولا تَعجزی وبکّی

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النساءَ علی حمزهِ

ولا تسأمی أن تطیلی البُکا علی أسدِ اللهِ فی الهزّهِ

فقد کانَ عزّاً لأ یتامِنا ولیثَ الملاحمِ فی البزّهِ

یریدُ بذاک الرضا احمداً ورضوانُ ذی العرشِ والعزّهِ531

B. Poetic elegies for ‘Ubaydah ibn Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, one of the martyrs of the Battle of Badr

When ‘Ubaydah was killed at Badr, Ka‘b ibn Malik Ansari cried mournfully and recited,

ایا عینُ جودی ولا تبخلی بدمعکِ حقاً ولا تنزری

علی سیدٍ هدّنا هُلَله کریمِ المشاهدِ والعنصرِ 532

C. Elegies for Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib and those Martyred with him

Hassan ibn Thabit recited,

فلا یبعدنَّ اللهِ قتلی تتابعوا بمؤتهَ منهم ذو الجناحینِ جعفرُ

وزیدُ وعبدُ اللهِ فیمن تتابعوا جمیعاً وأصحابُ المنیهِ تخطرّ533

Ka‘b ibn Malik Ansari recited,

نامَ العیونُ ودمعُ عینکَ یهملُ سحّاً کما وکفَّ الطبابُ المخضّلُ

فی لیلهٍ وردتْ علیّ همومُها طوراً أحِنُّ وتارهً أتململُ

صبروا بموتهِ للإلهِ نفوسَهُم حذَر الردی ومخافهً ان ینکلوا

اذ یهتدونَ بجعفرٍ ولوائهٍ قدّامَ اوّلهِمِ فنعمَ الاوّلُ534

D. Poetic elegies for those killed on the day of Raji‘

A group of people came to see the Prophet of Allah (S). They requested that a number of people be sent to their area to teach them the laws of Islam. The Prophet (S) sent six of his companions to them.

When these six companions arrived at the spring of Raji‘, which was the source of water for the tribe of Hudhayl, those who had made this request from the Prophet attacked these six people with the help of the local people of the tribe of Hudhayl. The attackers first said, “We do not intend to kill you, but just want to hand you over to the people of Mecca so as to receive a reward from them.”

Some of the Prophet’s companions started fighting their attackers and in the process were martyred. However, Khabib and his companion surrendered themselves. Along the way, Khabib’s companion wanted to draw his sword against

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these people, but they martyred him with a large stone. In the end, Khabib was given over to the people of Mecca, who hanged him.

Hassan recited the following about these six martyrs,

صلّی الإلهُ علی الذینَ تتابعوا یومَ الرجیعِ فأکرموا واثیبوا

رأسُ السریهِ مرثدُ وامیرُهُم وابُن البکیرِ امامُهُم وخُبیبُ535

And then, while crying, he said,

ما بالُ عینک لا ترقْأ مدامِعُها سحّاً علی الصدرِ مثلَ الؤلؤِ القلقِ

علی خُبیبٍ فتی الفتیانِ قد علمِوا لا فشلُ حتّی تلقاهُ ولا نزقِ536

E. Poetic elegies of Na‘am when grieving over her husband who was one of the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud

یا عینُ جودی بفیضٍ غیرِ ابساسِ علی کریمٍ من الفتیانِ لبّاسِ537

F. Elegies for Sa‘d ibn Ma‘adh, wounded at Khandaq

A man from among the Helpers [ansar] says this about Sa‘d,

وما اهتزَّ عرشً اللهِ من موتِ هلکٍ سمعنا بهِ الاّ لسعدِ أبی عمرو538

Hassan ibn Thabit, while mourning Sa‘d, recited,

لقد سجمتْ من دمعِ عینیَّ عبرهٌ وحقَّ لعینی أن تفیضَ علی سعدِ

قتیلٌ ثوی فی معرکٍ فجعتْ بهِ عیونُ ذواری الدمعِ دائمهُ الوجدِ539

G. Elegies for the martyrs of the Well of Ma‘unah

Abu Barra’ said to the Holy Prophet (S), “If you send someone from among your companions to invite the people of Najd, there is hope that they will accept your call to Islam.” The Noble Prophet (S) sent a number of his companions to Najd. On their way, they stopped for a time at the well of Ma‘unah.

When they were confronted, they gave a letter from the Holy Prophet (S) to their attackers, but the attackers paid no attention to it. They martyred the carrier of the Prophet’s letter and, with the help of other tribes, killed the remaining Muslims. ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah grieved for Nafi‘ ibn Badil ibn Warqa’ Khaza‘i, who was among the martyrs and recited,

رحَم اللهُ نافَع بَن بدیلِ رحمهَ المبتغی

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ثوابَ الجهادِ

صابرٌ صادقٌ وفیٌّ اذا ما أکثَر القومُ قالَ قولَ السدادِ540

While grieving over them, Hassan ibn Thabit recites,

علی قتلی معونهُ فاستهلّی بدمعِ العینِ سحاً غیرَ نزرِ541

H. Poetic elegies for ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un

When ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un passed away, his wife said this about him,

یا عینُ جودی بدمعٍ غیرِ ممنونِ علی رزیّهِ عثمانَ بنِ مظعونِ

علی أمری کانَ فی رضوانِ خالقهِِ طوبی لهُ من فقیدِ الشخصِ مدفونِ542

I. Poetic elegies for Walid ibn Walid ibn Mughayrah

Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s (S) wife, while grieving for Walid, recited,

ألا یا لیتَ امّی لم تلدْنی ولم اکُ فی الغزاهِ لدی البقیعِ

ولم أرَ مصرعِ بنِ الخیرِ زیدٍ وهدّتهُ هنا لکَ من صریعِ543

J. Elegies for Zayd ibn ‘Umar ibn Khattab

Ayas ibn Bakir in an elegy for Zayd ibn ‘Umar ibn Khattab, who was killed in the war with the tribe of Bani ‘Uday, says,

یا عینُ فابکی للولیدِ بنِ الولیدِ بنِ مغیره قد کانَ غیثاً فی السنینِ ورحمهً فینا ومیره544

K. Poetic elegies of Imam ‘Ali (as) grieving Fatimah (as)

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam ‘Ali (as) stood at the tomb of Fatimah al-Zahra (as) in a sorrowful state. Sorrow was choking his throat, and he could not stop the burning tears flowing from his heart. It was at this time that he recited,

لکلَّ اجتماعٍ من خلیلبنِ فرقهٌ وکلُّ الذی دونَ الممات قلیلُ

وإنّ افتقادی واحداً بعد واحدٍ دلیلٌ علی أن لا یدومُ خلیلُ545

Poetic elegies recited for Imam al-Husayn (as)


Abu al-Faraj Isfahani maintains that, “Poets did not recite elegies for Imam al-Husayn (as).”(1)

However, in fact, there are many records of people that recited poetry while grieving for Imam al-Husayn (as). Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates from Sadda that he said, “The first person who recited elegies for Imam al-Husayn (as) was ‘Utbah ibn ‘Amru ‘Abasi.”

In addition, upon study of history, one can see that there have been poets who recited

p: 197

1- Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 90.

elegies when grieving for Imam al-Husayn (as). Some of these instances are listed in the following discussion:

1. Sulayman ibn Quttah

Ibn Quttah was one of the men of the tribe of Bani Tamim ibn Marrah ibn Ka‘b ibn Lu’ay and one of the supporters of Bani Hashim. He was from among the generation which came after the Holy Prophet (S) [tabi‘in]. He has composed a poem eulogizing Imam al-Husayn (as) in verse. The first part reads,

مررتُ علی ابیاتِ آلِ محمّدٍ فلم أرَها کعهدِها یومَ حلّتْ547

2. Abu al-Rajah Khaza‘i

Marzbani narrates, “Abu al-Rajah Khaza‘i went to see Fatimah, the daughter of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as), and recited elegies to her about al-Husayn, including,

أجالتْ علی عَینی سجائبُ عبرهٍ فلم تصحُّ بعدَ الدمعِ حتی ارمعلّتِ

تبکی علی آلِ النبیَّ محمّدٍ ما اکثرتْ فی الدمعِ لا بلْ اقلّتِ548

3. Zaynab, the daughter of Imam ‘Ali (as)

When the blessed severed head of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the captives reached Medina, all the people of Medina came out of their houses crying and weeping. At this time, Zaynab (as), the daughter of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), cried out sorrowfully, “O al-Husayn! O my brother! O members of my Household! O Muhammad!” Then, she recited prose saying,

ماذا تقولونَ إذ قالَ النبیُّ لکمْ ماذا فعلتْم وانتْم آخرُ الأممِ

بأهلِ بیتی وأولادی أما لکُمُ عهُد أما أنتمُ توفونَ بالذّممِ

ذریتی وبنو عمّی بمضیعهٍ منهمْ أساری ومنهمْ ضرّجوا بدمِ

ما کانَ هذا جزاءی اذ نَصحتُ لکُمْ أن تخلفونی بسوءٍ فی ذوی رَحمی549

4. Ja‘far ibn ‘Affan

Ibn ‘Affan was one of the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (as). He eulogizes Imam al-Husayn (as) in this way,

لبّیکِ علی الاسلامِ من کانَ باکیاً فقد ضُیّعتْ احکامُهُ واستحلّتِ

غداهَ حسینٌ للرماحِ دریئهٌ وقد نهلَتْ منهُ السیوفُ

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وغودِر فی الصحراءِ لحماً مبدّداً وقد نهلتْ منهُ السیوفُ وعلّتِ

فما نصرتْه أمّهُ السوءِ اذ دَعا لقد طاشتِ الاحلامُ منها وضلّتِ550

5. Muhammad ibn Idris Shafi‘i

Muhammad ibn ‘Izz al-Din Yusuf ibn al-Hasan Zarandi, the scholar of traditions [hadiths] in the Prophets Mosque in Medina, quoted from Abu al-Qasim Fadl ibn Muhammad Mustamla, who quotes Qadi Abu Bakr Sahl ibn Muhammad, from Abu al-Qasim Bakran ibn Tayyib that news reached him that Shafi‘i used to recite the following,

تأوّبَ همّی والفؤادُ کئیبُ وأرّقَ عینی والرقادُ غریبُ

وممّا نفی نومی وشیّبَ لُمّتی تصاریفُ ایّام لهنَّ خطوبُ

تزلزلتِ الدنیا لآلِ محمدّ ٍ وکادتْ لهمْ صمُّ الجبالِ تذوبُ

وغارتْ نجومٌ واقشعرّتْ ذوائبٌ وهتّکَ استارٌ وشقَّ جیوبُ

فَللنصلِ إعوالٌ وللرّمحِ رنّهٌ وللخیلِ من بعدِ الصّهیلِ نحیبُ

فمنْ مبلغٌ عنیّ الحسینَ رسالهً وإن کرهتْها انفسٌ وقلوبُ

قتیلٌ بِلا جرمٍ کأنّ قصیصَهُ صبیغٌ بماءِ الأُرجوانِ خضیبُ

یُصلّی علی المختارِ منْ آلِ هاشمٍ ویغزی بنوهُ اٍنّ ذا لعجیبُ

لئنْ کانَ ذنبی حبُّ آلِ محمّدٍ فذلکَ ذنبٌ لستُ عنهُ أتوبُ

همُ شفعائی یومَ حشری وموقفی وحبُّهُمُ للشافعیَّ ذنوبُ551

6. Amir Adid al-Din

Zarandi recounts that Amir Adid al-Din Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd Allah Wazir narrates that elegies have been recited about al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) and his household (as) that are as lucid as water, rather even more subtle and exquisite, such as the following,

بدتْ کربلا ملأی من الکربِ والبَلا فقوما معی فی ارضِها وقِفا نبکی

بها قتلوا سبطَ النبیَّ محمدٍ وباعوا هذاکَ الرّشدِ بالمالِ والمُلکِ

وضاعتْ دماءٌ بالعراقِ عزیزهٌ مکرّمهٌ اذ کانَ راماً من المسکِ

فیاویلَ اقوامٍ طغاهٍ تعرّضوا لتلکَ الدماءِ الفاطمیاتِ بالسفکِ552

7. The grandfather of Sibt ibn Jawzi

Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates from his grandfather that he used to recite elegies when grieving for Imam al-Husayn, some parts of which read,

ولمّا رأَوا بعضَ الحیاه مذلّهً علیهِمْ وعزَّ الموت

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غَیر محرّمِ

أبَوا أن یذوقوا العیشَ والذلُّ واقعٌ علیهِ وماتوا میتهً لم تذمّمِ553

8. Rubab, the wife of Imam al-Husayn (as)

Abu al-Faraj Isfahani recounts from Hisham that he said, “After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), a marriage proposal was presented to Rubab, the wife of Imam al-Husayn (as). She refused the proposal, and said, ‘After the Prophet’s child, I will never marry anyone.’ Then, she recited these verses while grieving for Imam al-Husayn (as),

إنّ الذی کانَ یستضاء به بکربلاء قتیلٌ غیرُ مدفونِ

سبطُ النبیَّ جزاکَ اللهُ صالحهً عنّا وجنّبتَ خسرانَ الموازینِ

قد کنتَ لی جبلاً صعباً ألوذُ بهِ وکنتَ تصحُبنا بالرّحمِ والدینِ

من للیتامی ومن للسائلینَ ومَنْ یُغنی ویُؤوی الیهِ کلِّ مسکینِ

واللهِ لا أبتغی صِهراً بصحرِکُمُ حتی أُغیّبَ بینَ الرملِ والطینِ554

9. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr Ju‘fi

Ibn Athir recounts, “When Mu‘awiyah passed away and al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) was killed, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr was one of the people who had not participated in killing Imam al-Husayn and had deliberately hidden himself.

When al-Husayn was killed, Ibn Ziyad started searching for the nobles and renowned figures among the people of Kufah but he did not find ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr until ‘Ubayd Allah, on his own accord, presented himself to Ibn Ziyad.

Ibn Ziyad said to him, “Where were you?” He replied, “I was ill.” Ibn Ziyad said, “Was it your heart or your body which was sick?” He replied, “My heart was not ill. My body was, but thanks to Allah, who has now granted me good health.” Ibn Ziyad said, “You lie. You were with our enemies.” He replied, “If I were with them, then you would find me,

p: 200


Later, Ibn Ziyad became inattentive of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr. Therefore, ‘Ubayd Allah managed to leave the governor’s palace and got on his horse. Ibn Ziyad asked about his whereabouts. Others replied, “He got on his horse, went out of the palace and is now riding away.” Ibn Ziyad said, “Bring him back to me.”

The officials of the palace followed ‘Ubayd Allah and when they found him, they said, “You have to follow the orders of the governor and return.” He replied, “Inform him that I will never return to him of my own accord.” Then, he rode to the house of Ahmad ibn Ziyad Ta’i where his friends and companions gathered around him.

Then, he left that place and went to Karbala. He looked at the death place of Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions and asked forgiveness. He then set out for Mada’in. In a eulogy of the massacred martyrs he said,

یقول أمیرٌ غادرٌ وابنُ غادرٍ ألا کنتُ قابلتُ الشهیدَ بنَ فاطمهْ

ونفسی علی خذلانِهِ واعتزالهِ وبیعهِ هذا الناکثِ العهد لائمهْ

فیا ندمی أن لا اکونَ نصرتُهُ ألا کلُّ نفسٍ لا تسدَّدَ نادمهْ

ویا ندمی أن لم أکنْ من حماتِهِ لذو حسرهٍ ما أن تفارقَ لازمهْ

سقی اللهُ ارواحَ الذینَ تآزروا علی نصرِهِ سقیاً من الغیثِ دائمهْ

وقفتُ علی اجداثِهِمْ ومجالِهِمْ فکادَ الحشی ینفضُّ والعینُ ساجمهْ555


Crying from the Viewpoint of the Holy Qur’an and Traditions


By studying the Holy Qur’an and traditions [hadiths], realities of weeping and shedding tears become known and various secrets about crying are clarified. We now refer to some of the Qu’ranic verses and traditions which discuss this issue:

A. Qur’anic verses

1. Crying as a sign of perceiving realities

Allah, the Exalted,

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﴿ وَإِذا سَمِعُوا ما أُنْزِلَ أِلَی الرَّسُولِ تَری أَعْینَهُمْ تَفِیضُ مِنَ الدِّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الحَقِّ یقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاکْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشّهِدِینَ ﴾

“And when they hear what has been revealed to the Apostle, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears on account of the truth that they recognize; they say: Our Lord! We believe, so write us down with the witnesses of the truth.”(1)

This Qur’anic verse is an account of the reaction of the Ethiopian King, Najjashi, who had received and welcomed the Muslims that had migrated from Mecca to Ethiopia at the begining of the Prophet’s mission to seek safety.

2. Crying for repentance

Allah, the Exalted, says in the Qur’an,

﴿ فَلْیَضْحَکُوا قَلِیلاً وَلْیبْکُوا کَثِیراً جَزَاءً بِمَا کَانُوا یَکْسِبُونَ ﴾

“Therefore they shall laugh little and weep much as a recompense for what they earned.”(2)

This verse of the Qur’an is an account of the hypocrites [munafiqin] at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S) who used to avoid fighting in battles against the enemies of Islam and also encouraged others to do so, on the pretext that the weather was too hot or too cold.

3. Shedding tears of belief is a sign of wisdom

Allah, the Exalted, states,

﴿ وَیقُولُونَ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّنَا أِنْ کَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّنَا لَمَفعُولاً * وَیخِرّوُنَ لِلأَذقَانِ یبْکُونَ وَیَزِیدُهُمْ خُشُوعاً ﴾

“And they say: Glory be to our Lord! Most surely the promise of our Lord was to be fulfilled. And they fall down on their faces weeping, and it adds to their humility.”(3)

4. Prophets shed tears for Allah

Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ إِذَا تُتْلَی عَلَیْهِمْ آیاتُ الرَّحمنِ خَرُّروا سُجَّداً وَ بُکِیاً ﴾

“When the communications of the Beneficent

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1- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:83.
2- Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:82.
3- Surat Bani Isra’il (al-Isra’) 17:108-109.

God were recited to them [the prophets], they fell down making obeisance and weeping.”(1)

5. Tears of regret are a remedy for those who have gone astray

Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ أَزِفَتِ الازِفَهُ * لَیسَ لَها مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ کاشِفَه * أَفَمِن هذَا الحَدیثِ تَعْجَبُونَ * وَتَضْحَکُونَ وَلا تَبْکُونَ ﴾

“The near event draws nigh. There shall be none besides Allah to remove it. Do you then wonder at this announcement? And will you laugh and not weep?”(2)

B. Islamic traditions [hadiths] regarding crying


Crying and shedding tears have been given special value in Islamic traditions.

1. Tears are a sign of Allah’s mercy

Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali (as), has said,

«بکاء العیون وخشیه القلوب من رحمه الله.»

“The tears of the eyes and the fear of the heart (for the sake of Allah) are among the blessings and mercies of Allah.”(3)

2. Tears: Allah’s gift to mankind

The Prophet of Allah (S) has said,

«انّما هی رحمه یجعلها فی قلوب عباده.»

“Verily, tears are a mercy that Allah has placed in the essence of his servants (the human beings).”(4)

3. Tears illuminate the heart

Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali (as), has said,

«البکاء من خشیه الله ینیر القلب ویعصم من معاوده الذنب.»

“Crying out of fear of Allah illuminates the heart and prevents a person from returning to past sins.”(5)

4. Tears soften the heart and bring prosperity

In his last will and testament to Imam ‘Ali (as), the Prophet of Allah (S) said,

«یا علی! اربع خصال من الشقاء: جمود العین وقساوه القلب وبُعد الامل وحبّ البقاء.»

“O ‘Ali! There are four notable signs of misfortune and wretchedness: lack of tears, hardness of the heart, unrealistically drawn out hopes, and desire to live forever.”(6)

5. Tears bring deliverance from Allah’s punishment

Imam al-Husayn (as) said,

«البکاء من خشیه الله نجاه من النار.»

“Crying due to fear of Allah brings deliverance from hell.”(7)

6. Tears bring about a great reward from Allah

The Prophet of Allah (S) has said,

«ما من عمل

p: 203

1- Surat Maryam 19:58.
2- Surat al-Najm 53:57-60.
3- Tabarsi, Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 317, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 90, p. 336.
4- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 79, p. 91, hadith 43.
5- Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 11, p. 245, hadith 36.
6- Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, vol. 4, p. 360; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, p. 164, hadith 21.
7- Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 11, p. 245, hadith 35.

الاّ وله وزن وثواب الاّ الدمعه، فانّها تطفی غضب الرّب.»

“Every action and every good deed has a fixed heavenly reward, except tears. Verily, tears extinguish the fire of Allah’s wrath.”(1)

7. Tears have the value of the blood of martyrs

The Prophet of Allah (S) said,

«... وما من قطره احبّ الی الله من قطرتین: قطره دم فی سبیل الله، وقطره دمع فی سواد اللیل من خشیه الله.»

“… There are no drops more beloved by Allah than two: a drop of blood that has been shed due to sacrifice in the way of Allah, and a tear that flows from the eyes in the dark of the night due to fear of Allah.”(2)

The Effects of Crying


Religious scholars and academics have mentioned a number of beneficial effects derived from crying, some of which we will now mention.

1. Inner purification and refinement

People who shed tears as an instrument of devotion to their Lord benefit from numerous spiritual and intellectual rewards because every tear that is shed for Allah while grieving for His awliya’ have extraordinary spiritual effects. That is why the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as), in the Prayer al-Kumayl, says,

«یا الهی وربّی وسیدی ومولای، لأی الأمور الیک اشکوا ولما منها اضجّ وأبکی.»

“O my Lord, Master and Protector! For which of my affairs should I complain to you! And for which of them should I lament and weep?”

And elsewhere, he says,

«ولأبکینّ علیک بکاء الفاقدین.»

“And (due to separation from you) I will weep before You with the weeping of the bereft.”

And in the last part of the prayer, he says,

«إرحم من رأس ماله الرجاء، وسلاحه البکاء.»

“Have mercy

p: 204

1- Ibid., p. 240.
2- Shaykh Mufid, Amali, p. 11, hadith 8.

on one whose only capital is hope and whose weapon is tears.”

2. Tears are a means of self-building

Crying and shedding tears is a strong and cutting weapon that can help us tremendously along the way of self-knowledge and self-building. Again, this is why Imam ‘Ali (as) in the Prayer al-Kumayl says,

«إرحم من رأس ماله الرجاء وسلاحه البکاء.»

“Have mercy on one whose only capital is hope and whose weapon is tears.”

In the inner spiritual struggle against our internal enemy (egotism), that is to say the Greater Holy War [Jihad Akbar], crying is the weapon used, not the sword. That is to say, in the battlefield of self-building, shedding tears is the tool, not steel blades.

There are some people who attend gatherings where mourning over Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) takes place, but they do not possess that deep perception and discernment which is needed to bring about the flow of tears.

Assuming that they do possess the needed perception and discernment which is needed to cry, if they cannot cry it suggests that they are not blessed with the necessary compassion or softness of heart. Of course, acquiring softness of heart is not easy and is granted by Allah in accordance with our capacity.

From the viewpoint of scholars of ethics, the root cause of most crimes is hardheartedness. When man is afflicted by hardheartedness and lacks compassion, he loses a lot of his natural blessings and talents. The result is that neither will the sufferings of others affect him, nor will his heart beat in love

p: 205

and affection for others.

A heartless man finds no inclination in himself to pray silently and present his needs to Allah. He does not feel in himself the compassionate disposition to give and receive love and affection. Clearly, one of the best ways to prevent and treat the affliction of hardheartedness is shedding tears and crying.

3. Tears are a means of attaining love

Love literally means fond affection and devotion. The renowned traditionalist Muhaddith Qummi says, “Love is an excess of affection.”(1)

After gaining knowledge and enlightenment, it is beyond doubt that crying or shedding tears is one of the best tools or means required for man to bond with true love—which is devotion to the Beloved of the Worlds, Allah the Most High.

It is for this reason that no matter how eager a person might be to reach out and find reality and truth, he will never bring about a successful and effective spiritual transformation within himself unless he seeks help from tears.

The tongue expresses wisdom and intellect while the eyes express the love that is felt in the heart and dwells in the soul. Love is always present where tears, arising from feelings of pain and heartache, are shed whereas the mind is the active agent wherever the tongue searches for orderly and logical sentences to express itself.

Therefore, just as logical and compelling discourses can show the unity that exists between the aims of the leaders of a particular school of thought and the speaker, a tear too can declare an emotional war against the enemies

p: 206

1- Safinah al-Bihar, vol. 1, p. 197.

of a school of thought.

William Shakespeare, the erudite English writer and poet, says that thoughts, dreams, heartache, hopes, and tears are inseparable from love.

In another place, he says, “Love that is cleansed by tears will forever remain pure, clean and beautiful.”(1)

Victor Hugo, the famous western writer, says, “Happy and prosperous is he whom God has granted a heart that has the capacity for burning love and compassion.”(2)

4. The effects of crying on man’s health

Researchers of the empirical and medical sciences believe that tears possess special medical properties, some of which we will now mention:

1. As tears flow, an enzyme is released that disinfects the eyes and all the surrounding parts.

2. According to conducted medical tests, those who cry more suffer less from gastritis and ulcers.

3. Scholars are of the belief that crying has very beneficial and surprising effects in reducing inner pain and spiritual, mental or psychological pressures.

4. Some diseases can be identified through examination of tears because tears that flow from the eyes are a substance that has been filtered or sieved from the body’s blood, and therefore making use of this substance can help us identify different types of disorders. 

The Reasoning behind Crying about the Sufferings of the awliya’ of Allah

Crying out of sorrow for the awliya’ of Allah, especially the Doyen of Martyrs, Aba ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn (as), is compatible with sound logic and reason. Shedding tears for the Ahl al-Bayt (as) has many positive effects and benefits, some of which we will now refer to:

1. Crying for the Ahl al-Bayt, especially Imam al-Husayn (as), is one of the important ways of

p: 207

1- Chekideh-ye Andisheh-ha (A Summary of Thoughts), p. 250.
2- Ibid.

manifesting one’s love for them, which (as shown in previous chapters) has been ordered by Allah and is also confirmed by logic and reason.

2. Shedding tears is one of the ways to venerate the signs of Allah, because by crying we show our compassion and acceptance of the purpose and struggle of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

3. Crying for al-Husayn (as) is a means of repentance. Shedding tears for Imam al-Husayn (as) is a means of returning to that which is all-good and pure, because there is no personal interest involved in crying for Imam al-Husayn (as). On the contrary, we shed tears for him because he is the child of Allah’s Prophet (S) and because his essence and nature possesses all the beautiful attributes.

We cry for Imam al-Husayn (as) because he was oppressed, wronged and martyred on a mission to revive the religion of Allah. Crying for such people is in reality an act of repentance and gaining proximity with that which is all-good and pure. It has been recounted in Islamic traditions [hadiths] that Paradise becomes incumbent upon every person who cries, incites others to cry, or forces oneself to cry for Imam al-Husayn (as) because this type of crying is an act of remorse and returning to Allah, the Exalted.

4. As long as man has not examined his inner conscience and spirit and by means of such introspection gotten in contact with the awliya’ of Allah, especially Imam al-Husayn (as), his heart cannot break and his tears

p: 208

cannot flow. Crying for Imam al-Husayn (as) is a means for a limited human being to get in contact with an infinite being by way of internal intuition. It is clear that through such connection, a limited being can become unlimited. A good example of this is a limited amount of water that collects in a place. If it is not attached to an unlimited sea, it either becomes polluted or dries up, due to the intensity of heat, in a very short period of time. However, if it is connected to an unlimited sea, it will acquire the properties of the sea water and will become immune and unsusceptible to microbes, contamination and drying up.

5. Crying for the oppressed moves man’s emotions and awakens his compassion. It makes him a defender of the downtrodden. Shedding tears is more effective when a person cries for is an infallible person and a ‘Trust of Allah’ on earth or a successor of the Holy Prophet (S), who is the possessor of divine law [shari‘ah]. In this case, man becomes a defender of divine law. Such a man is able to defend the oppressed and downtrodden. It is for this reason that the Shi‘ahs of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), by utilizing and benefiting from this great elixir of life—shedding tears for the oppression and wrong committed against the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as)—have historically been the persistent helpers and protectors of the oppressed.

6. Crying for the awliya’ and trustees of Allah, especially

p: 209

Imam al-Husayn (as), is a tranquilizer for those sick at heart. Crying for the awliya’ of Allah soothes the soul because the oppression and sufferings that were imposed upon the awliya’ of Allah are like hot flames of fire and tears shed for them are gifts from a heart which is burning with love and affection. These drops go far in extinguishing those flames.

7. Shedding tears, especially for the awliya’ of Allah, causes the heart to become tender and keeps man away from hardheartedness. It lays the foundation for the light of Allah to enter freely and settle in the heart, because tears that are shed for good reason polish the rust out of man’s heart.

8. Shedding tears for Imam al-Husayn (as) is a kind of practical struggle against tyrants; that is to say, by crying we express our disgust with the tyrants’ ways, just like when Fatimah al-Zahra (as) cried a lot after her beloved father (S) passed away and the event of “Saqifah” came to pass. The purpose of her crying was to make the people contemplate the reason for the sadness and tears of the daughter of the Holy Prophet (S) and ask themselves why Fatimah al-Zahra (as) was crying in spite of the fact that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) had been, up to that time, role models of forebearance, firmness and perseverance.

9. Shedding tears for Ahl al-Bayt (as), especially the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), is an announcement of support for the continuation and revival

p: 210

of the way of those great people. It is also a clear announcement that throughout history we are and will continue to be opposed to Yazid and all tyrants like Yazid and also that we are aligned with and obey Imam al-Husayn (as) and those like al-Husayn in our own time, as well as their ideals and mottos.

A Historical View of Crying for the Sufferings of Allah’s Awliya’


Crying for the awliya’ of Allah is included in the previously mentioned precept of permissibility [ibahah]. The precept of permissibility is applicable so long as there is no dictate or decree that opposes permissibility; that is to say, all actions are permissible so long as there is no evidence to prove that they are forbidden by the divine law [shari‘ah] of Islam.

In the following discussions, we will refer to this issue and show that there is no proof for prohibiting crying when mourning for the afflictions that befell the awliya’ of Allah. On the contrary, we will prove that crying is preferred and encouraged. First, we will refer to some historical examples of crying for the awliya’ of Allah.

1. Prophet Adam (as) cried for Abel

Tabari on his chain of transmission narrates from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib that he said, “When the child of Adam was killed by his brother, Adam cried for him.”(1)

2. Jacob (as) cried due to separation from Joseph

On his own chain of transmission, Tabari recounts the following statement of al-Hasan Basri while interpreting the verse,

﴿ ... تَاللهِ تَفتَؤُا تَذْکُرُ یُوسُفَ حَتَّی تَکُونَ حَرَضاً أَوْ تَکُونَ مِنَ الْهلِکِینَ ﴾

“They said: By Allah! You will not cease to remember Yusuf until you are

p: 211

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 1, p. 37.

a prey to constant disease or until you are of those who perish.”(1)

Al-Hasan Basri said, “Eighty years elapsed from the time that Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (as) left his father up to the time that they next saw each other. During this time, sorrow and grief did not leave the heart of Ya‘qub (Jacob).

He cried so much that his eyes became blind.” He also said, “I swear upon Allah! There was no creature on earth at that time that Allah looked upon with generosity more than Jacob.”(2)

3. The Holy Prophet (S) cried for Hamzah

Ibn Hisham says, “When the Holy Prophet (S) returned from the Battle of Uhud, he heard voices crying for those who had been martyred. The Prophet’s (S) eyes filled with tears. Then, he said, “But Hamzah has no one to cry for him.” When the women of Bani ‘Abd al-Ashhal heard this, they started weeping for the uncle of the Holy Prophet (S).”(3)

He also narrates from Ibn Mas‘ud saying, “We had never seen the Noble Prophet (S) cry so much save when he cried for Hamzah. He put his corpse in the direction of the Qiblah, stood over his dead body and cried. He wept so much that he was close to passing out.”(4)

4. The Noble Prophet (S) cried for his progeny

On his own chain of transmission, Ibn Abi Shaybah recounts that Mas‘ud said, “One day, we were in the presence of the Prophet of Allah (S), when suddenly a group of people of Bani Hashim arrived. When the Holy Prophet saw them, his eyes were filled with tears. His color, too,

p: 212

1- Surat Yusuf 12:85.
2- Tafsir Tabari, vol. 13, p. 32.
3- Al-Sirah al-Halbiyyah, vol. 3, p. 105.
4- Ibid., vol. 2, p. 323.

changed. I said to him, ‘We see something in your face showing that you are in pain.’ The Prophet said,

«انّا اهل بیت اختار الله لنا الآخره علی الدنیا، وانّ أهل بیتی سیلقون بلاء.»

‘Verily, we are the Ahl al-Bayt, for whom Allah has preferred the afterlife over this worldly life. And verily, soon it shall be that suffering should afflict my Ahl al-Bayt’.”(1)

5. The Prophet (S) cried for his grandfather, ‘Abd al-Muttalib

Umm Ayman says, “I saw the Prophet of Allah (S) at the foot of ‘Abd al-Muttalib’s coffin crying as he moved.”(2)

6. The Prophet (S) cried for martyrs of the War of Mu’tah

Bukhari recounts, “News that Zayd, Ja‘far and Ibn Rawahah had been martyred was brought to the people by the Prophet (S) himself before anyone else. He said, ‘Zayd had the banner, and then he fell to the ground (got martyred). Then, Ja‘far took the standard, and he too fell to the ground. After that Ibn Rawahah got the banner, and he too fell to the ground.’ The Prophet was saying all this while crying.”(3)

7. The Holy Prophet (S) cried for Ja‘far

When Ja‘far and his companions were martyred, the Prophet of Allah (S) went to his house and requested to see Ja‘far’s children. He smelt their sweet scent and his eyes became tearful. Ja‘far’s wife Asma’ said to the Prophet (S), “May my parents be your ransom! Why are you crying? Has any news come to you from Ja‘far and his companions?”

The Noble Prophet (S) answered, “Yes, they were martyred today.” Asma’ says, “I got up and started crying. A number of women also surrounded me. Then, Fatimah (as) came in, while she was crying and

p: 213

1- Al-Musannaf, vol. 8, p. 697.
2- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 7.
3- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 240; Kitab Fada’il al-Sahabah, Bab Manaqib Khalid.

saying, ‘O uncle! O uncle!’”

The Prophet of Allah said,

علی مثل جعفر فلتبک البواکی.

“People ought to shed tears for people like Ja‘far.”(1)

8. The Noble Prophet (S) cried for his mother

Abu Hurayrah says, “The Prophet (S) went to visit his mother’s grave. There he cried and made everyone around him cry, too.”(2)

9. The Holy Prophet (S) cried for Fatimah bint Asad

It has been recounted that the Noble Prophet (S) recited prayers for Fatimah, the mother of ‘Ali (as), and put her in the grave. Then, he broke down and cried. He said, “May Allah rewards you goodly for your motherhood. Verily, you were a good mother.”(3)

10. The Noble Prophet (S) cried for ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un

On his chain of transmission, Hakim narrates from ‘A’ishah that the Holy Prophet (S) kissed the dead body of ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un and cried.(4)

11. The Holy Prophet (S) cried for his child Ibrahim (as)

Anas ibn Malik says, “When Ibrahim (Abraham), the son of the Noble Prophet (S), died the Prophet (S) cried and told his companions,

«لا تدرجوه فی اکفانه حتّی انظر الیه.»

‘Do not put him in the shroud until I see him’.”(5)

12. The Noble Prophet (S) gave permission to cry

Ibn Mas‘ud, Thabit ibn Ziyad and Qarzah ibn Ka‘b say, “The Holy Prophet (S) gave us permission to cry at the time of affliction and trouble.”(6)

On his chain of transmission, al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi narrates that Abu Hurayrah said, “There was a corpse that was being taken to its burial place. ‘Umar ibn Khattab was among the people taking it for burial. He heard the voices of women crying, and commanded them to stop. The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«یا عمر! دعهنّ، فانّ العین دامعه، والنفس مصابه والعهد قریب.»

‘O ‘Umar! Leave them alone, because tearful eyes, a troubled soul and the promise are near’.”(7)

13. Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) cried mourning Fatimah

Ibn Sabbagh Maliki

p: 214

1- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 90.
2- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 671; Kitab al-Jana’iz, section [bab] 36, hadith 108.
3- Dhakha’ir al-‘Uqaba, p. 56.
4- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 1, p. 361.
5- Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 1, p. 473; Kitab al-Jana’iz, Bab Ma Ja’a fi al-Nazar ila al-Mayyit.
6- Al-Musannaf, vol. 3, p. 268.
7- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 1, p. 381; Al-Nassa’i, Sunan, vol. 4, p. 190; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 333.

recounts that Ja‘far ibn Muhammad (as) said, “When Fatimah (as) passed away, ‘Ali used to visit her grave every day. One day he went to visit her and threw himself on her grave while crying. He recited this poem,

مالی مررتُ علی القبورِ مسلّماً قَبر الحبیبِ فلم یردِّ جوابی

یا قبرُ مالک لا تجیبُ منادیاً أمللتَ بعدی خلّهَ الأحبابِ

What has happened to me that I visit the graves and give my greetings and peace [salam] to my friend and beloved but I do not hear a reply!?

O grave! What has happened to you that you do not answer the calls of those who cry out!? Is it that you are tired of associating with the weary after associating with me?”(1)

14. Amir al-Mu’minin (as) cried mourning over ‘Ammar

Ibn Qutaybah says, “When ‘Ammar was killed, Imam ‘Ali (as) said to ‘Uday,

«یا عدی! قتل عمار بن یاسر؟»

‘O ‘Uday! Has ‘Ammar ibn Yasir been killed?’

‘Uday replied, ‘Yes.’ Then, Imam ‘Ali (as) said,

«رحمک الله یا عمار! استوجب الحیاه والرزق الکریم...»

‘May Allah forgive you, O ‘Ammar. You were worthy of a bountiful life and sustenance…’”(2)

15. Imam ‘Ali (as) cried mourning for Hashim ibn ‘Utbah

Sibt ibn Jawzi says, “… on that day, viz. Siffin, Hashim ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqas also got killed. Imam ‘Ali cried for both of them, and prayed for them. He placed ‘Ammar in his direction and Hashim ibn ‘Utbah in the direction of the Ka‘bah. He did not perform the ritual ablution [ghusl] for these two.”(3)

16. Imam ‘Ali (as) cried for Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr

Sibt ibn Jawzi says, “When the news that Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed reached ‘Ali, he cried and showed sorrow, and cursed his killer.”(4)

17. Fatimah al-Zahra (as) cried for her father (as)


p: 215

1- Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 130.
2- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 110.
3- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 94.
4- Ibid., p. 107.

ibn Jawzi says, “Then Fatimah (as) withdrew from the people. She was always crying for the Holy Prophet (S) until she joined him in the afterlife.”(1)

Anas ibn Malik says, “When we were returning from burying the Holy Prophet (S), Fatimah came forward and addressed me,

«کیف طابت انفسکم ان تحثوا علی وجه رسول الله (ص) التراب؟»

‘How did you manage to drop dirt on the Prophet’s face?’

Then she cried, ‘O my beloved father…’”(2)

18. Fatimah al-Zahra (as) cried for her mother

Ya‘qubi says, “When Khadijah (as) passed away, Fatimah (as) was crying when she came to the Prophet and asked, ‘Where is my mother? Where is my beloved mother?’”(3)

19. Fatimah al-Zahra (as) cried for Ruqayyah

Ibn Shubbah narrates on his chain of transmission that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “When Ruqayyah, the Prophet’s daughter, passed away, the Prophet said, ‘May you be joined to our good predecessor ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un…’ It was then that Fatimah cried beside her grave and the Holy Prophet wiped away her tears with the corner of his shirt.”(4)

20. Fatimah al-Zahra (as) cried for Ja‘far

Ibn Athir narrates, “The Prophet of Allah came to see Asma’ and gave her the news that Ja‘far had been martyred, and offered her his condolences. Fatimah came in and started to cry.”(5)

21. Al-Hasan (as) and people of Kufah cried for Imam ‘Ali (as)

Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (as) gave a sermon on the night when Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) was martyred. After praising and glorifying Allah, he sent peace and blessings upon the Noble Prophet (S).

Then he said, ‘Tonight, a man has passed away who is unsurpassable both by those who came before and will come after him. Those who will come in the future

p: 216

1- Ibid., p. 318.
2- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 194; Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 7, p. 261; Suyuti, Musnad Fatimah, p. 30.
3- Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 35.
4- Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, vol. 1, p. 103.
5- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 90.

will never understand nor perceive him. He was always fighting in the way of Allah during the holy Jihads alongside the Noble Prophet (S). Amir al-Mu’minin (as) used to protect the Prophet (S) with all his soul.

The Prophet of Allah used to entrust him with his banner while he was accompanied by the Archangel Jibra’il (Gabriel) on his right side and the Angel Mika’il (Michael) on his left side. He never returned from war until Allah gave him victory and made him triumphant over the enemy. He has been martyred on the night when Jesus, son of Mary, was taken to the heavens and Yusha‘ (Joshua), the son of Nun, passed away.

He did not keep any gold or silver for himself except seven hundred dirhams which he intended to use for employing a servant for his family.’ Then, an overflow of painful feelings choked his throat and he broke down crying, and the people cried also…”(1)

22. Imam al-Husayn (as) cried for his brother ‘Abbas (as)

Al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi narrates, “… A man hit the blessed head of ‘Abbas with an iron club that caused a deep cut to his skull. He dropped to the ground and then he cried, ‘O Aba ‘Abd Allah! O al-Husayn! Peace be upon you!’ When Imam al-Husayn (as) heard this, he said, ‘O my ‘Abbas! O blood of my heart!’

Then Imam al-Husayn (as) made a fierce attack on the enemy’s army and pushed them aside making way for himself to reach ‘Abbas. Then, he got off his horse and put ‘Abbas up on

p: 217

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, p. 11.

his horse and took him to the camp. Imam al-Husayn cried bitterly and said, ‘May Allah, for my sake, give you the best of rewards’.”(1)

23. Imam al-Husayn (as) cried for Muslim ibn ‘Aqil

Ahmad ibn A‘tham Kufi writes, “A man came from Kufah and brought the news to Imam al-Husayn (as) that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil had been killed. Imam al-Husayn (as) asked, ‘Where are you from?’ He answered, ‘I am from Kufah.

I escaped Kufah after seeing that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and Hani ibn ‘Urwah Madhhaji had both been killed and hanged. I saw that their bodies were dragged on the ground in streets around the butcher shops. They also sent their heads to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. Imam al-Husayn sighed deeply and cried. He then said,

« إِنّا لِلّهِ وَإِنّا إِلَیْهِ راجِعُونَ»

‘We are from Allah and to Him is our return.’’”(2)

24. Imam al-Husayn (as) cried for his breastfeeding newborn

Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates from Hisham ibn Muhammad saying, “When Imam al-Husayn (as) realized that the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d was insistent on killing him, he got the Holy Qur’an, put it on his head and said, ‘Let the Book of Allah brought for mankind by my grandfather the Prophet (as) judge between us.

O people! What crime have I committed that you deem shedding my blood a permissible act? Am I not the son of your Prophet’s daughter? Have not the Prophet’s (S) words reached you about my brother and I when he said, ‘Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two leaders of the youths of Paradise’? If you do not acknowledge what I say, then ask Jabir, Zayd ibn

p: 218

1- Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, p. 409.
2- Al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 110.

Arqam and Abu Sa‘id Khudri. Is Ja‘far Tayyar not my uncle?’

At that moment, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) newborn who was fretful due to thirst took his attention. He shouted, ‘O People! If you do not have mercy on me, then at least have mercy on this infant.’ A man from among the army shot an arrow at the newborn’s neck piercing it and killing the infant. Imam al-Husayn (as) started to cry and said,

«الّلهم احکم بیننا وبین قوم دعونا لینصرونا فقتلونا. فنودی من الهواء: دعه یا حسین! فانّ له مرضعاً فی الجنّه.»

‘O my Lord! Jugde between us and the people who invited us on the pretext that they would help us but have instead betrayed and killed us.’ A voice was heard from the heavens, ‘O al-Husayn! Deliver the child because he will be given milk in heaven’.”(1)

25. Imam al-Husayn (as) cried for Qays ibn Musahhar

When Imam al-Husayn (as) was informed that Qays had been killed, he cried out and shed tears. Then he said,

«اللهم اجعل لنا ولشیعتنا منزلاً کریماً عندک واجمع بیننا وایّا هم فی مستقرّ رحمتک، انّک علی کلّ شیء قدیر.»

“O my Lord! Give us and our Shi‘ahs a generous abode near Thyself, and gather us and them in Thy abode of mercy, because Thou art powerful over all things.”(2)

26. Imam al-Husayn (as) cried for Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi

Al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi recounts, “… Hurr carried out an attack on the people from Kufah and killed fifty of them before attaining martyrdom. They cut his head off and threw it in the direction of Imam al-Husayn. Imam al-Husayn put Hurr’s head on his lap and as he cried,

p: 219

1- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 252.
2- Al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 145.

he wiped blood from Hurr’s face and said,

«والله ما اخطأت أمّک اذ سمّتک حرّاً فانّک حرّ فی الدنیا وسعید فی الآخره.»

‘I swear upon Allah! Your mother did not make a mistake when she named you Hurr, because you were a free man in this world and one who has gained salvation in the next world’.”(1)

27. The people of Medina cried mourning the Prophet (S)

Abu Dhu’ayb Hudhali says, “I entered Medina and heard wailing and crying, just like when the pilgrims at the hajj are leaving the Holy Shrine. I asked, ‘What has happened?’ The people answered, ‘The Prophet of Allah (S) has passed away’.”(2)

28. The people of Medina cried for Imam al-Hasan (as)

On his own chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir narrates that Ibn Abi Najih quoted his father saying, “The people of Mecca and Medina, all of them, including the children, cried for Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (as) for seven days.”(3)

29. Abu Hurayrah cried for Imam al-Hasan (as)

On his own chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir recounts that Musawir Mawla Bani Sa‘d said, “I saw Abu Hurayrah in the Prophet’s Mosque on the day when al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (as) was martyred. He was crying out while standing and shedding tears, ‘O People! Today the beloved one of the Prophet has passed away.’ He made every one cry with these words.”(4)

30. Sa‘id ibn ‘As cried while mourning Imam al-Hasan (as)

Hakim narrates on his chain of transmission that Muslimah ibn Muharib said, “Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali passed away when fifty five days from the first of Rabi‘ al-Awwal had passed and he was forty six years of age. Sa‘id ibn ‘As was crying while sending greetings to Imam al-Hasan.”(5)

31. Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah cried for Imam al-Hasan (as)

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbah and other historians have narrated, “When al-Hasan

p: 220

1- Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, p. 414.
2- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 7, p. 265; Hayat al-Sahabah, vol. 2, p. 371.
3- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, trans. Imam al-Hasan (as), p. 235.
4- Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 277; Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, trans. Imam al-Hasan, p. 229.
5- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 173.

ibn ‘Ali (as) was buried, his brother Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah stood at the head of his grave while crying and said, ‘May Allah have compassion and mercy on you, O Aba Muhammad!’”(1)

32. People of Medina cried remembering the Prophet (S)

Jazri recounts, “Bilal saw the Noble Prophet in a dream telling him,

«ما هذه الجفوه یا بلال؟ اما اَن لک اَن تزورنا؟»

‘What kind of unkindness and disloyalty is this, O Bilal? Has not the time come for you to come and visit us?’

Bilal woke up feeling very sad. He mounted his horse and rode to Medina. He went directly to the Prophet’s (S) tomb and started crying. He was pressing himself against the Prophet’s (S) grave. Al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as) came by. Bilal started kissing these two and pressing them to himself.

They said to Bilal, ‘We want you to recite the call to prayer [adhan] at sunrise.’ Bilal went on top of the Mosque roof and said, ‘Allah is Greater than to be perceived.’ [Allah-u Akbar! Allah-u Akbar!] Medina vibrated and trembled with yells of crying.

When he said, ‘I testify that there is no god but Allah.’ [ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah!] The wailing of the people increased. When he said, ‘I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!’ [ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah!], the women came out of their homes, and there has never been a day since that the men and women cried so much.(2)

Crying while Mourning for Imam al-Husayn


When we refer to history and hadith, we can see that the Holy Prophet (S), his Ahl

p: 221

1- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 8; Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 213.
2- Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 1, p. 208.

al-Bayt (as), his companions, the generation that came just after the Prophet’s (S) death, and great men of the Islamic ummah all cried when mourning over Imam al-Husayn (as). We now will narrate some examples from Sunni sources:

1. The Prophet (S) cried mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as)

‘A’ishah recounted, “Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali came into the house while revelation was being given to the Noble Prophet (S). He grabbed the Prophet’s waist and climbed up on his back and started playing. The Archangel Jibra’il (Gabriel) said to the Holy Prophet, ‘O Muhammad! Verily, soon it will be that your ummah will create sedition and conspiracy after you and kill this child of yours.’ Then, Gabriel stretched his fist out and brought out clay which he gave to the Noble Prophet (S). He said, ‘It is in this land where your child will be killed. A land called “Taff”.’

When the Archangel Gabriel left, the Prophet of Allah joined his companions. He still had the clay in his hands. Among them were Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Hadhayfah, ‘Ammar and Abu Dharr. The Holy Prophet (S) started crying.

They asked, ‘Why are you crying, O Prophet of Allah?’ He answered, ‘Gabriel has told me that my child al-Husayn will surely be killed in a land called Taff. He brought clay for me from that land. He also informed me that al-Husayn will be buried in that same place’.”(1)

2. Imam ‘Ali (as) cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

Ibn ‘Asakir narrates that Najja said, “Imam ‘Ali (as) and I started off on a journey. When we reached the valley of Naynawa, which is on the

p: 222

1- Tarikh Ibn Kathir, vol. 11, pp. 29-30; Tadhkirah al-Huffaz, vol. 2, p. 164; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 5, p. 364; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 176; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 3, p. 342.

way to Siffin, Imam ‘Ali (as) gave out a loud cry and said, ‘O Aba ‘Abd Allah! Bear patiently near the River Euphrates, O Aba ‘Abd Allah!’ Najja says he asked Imam ‘Ali (as) why he had said this. Imam ‘Ali replied, ‘One day, I visited the Noble Prophet and found him shedding tears.

I asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Has anyone made you angry? Why are you crying?’ The Holy Prophet answered, ‘A few moments ago, the Archangel Gabriel was here. He informed me that al-Husayn will be killed next to the River Euphrates’.”

Najja recounts, “Imam ‘Ali (as) said to me, ‘Do you want me to give you a part of the soil on which al-Husayn will be killed? Do you want to smell it?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Then, he stretched his hand out and gave me a handful of the soil. I could not control myself, and hence my tears fell.”(1)

3. Imam al-Sajjad (as) cried in mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as)

On his own chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir narrates that Ja‘far ibn Muhammad (as) said, “It was asked of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) why he used to cry so much for Imam al-Husayn (as).

He answered, ‘Do not reproach me, because when Jacob (Ya‘qub) lost one of his children, he cried so much that his eyes became white, and yet he knew that his child was alive and had not died, but I saw fourteen of my family members slaughtered in one morning. Do you want the sorrow and pain which I feel for

p: 223

1- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, trans. Imam al-Husayn (as), p 238; Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 300; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 58; Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 2, p. 105.

them to leave my heart?’”(1)

4. Imam al-Sadiq (as) cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

On his chain of transmission, Abu al-Faraj Isfahani recounts that Isma‘il Tamimi said, “I was with Aba ‘Abd Allah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad when his servant asked for permission to allow the poet Sayyid Humayri to enter.

The Imam (as) gave him permission to enter. The Imam’s family went behind a curtain and Sayyid Humayri came in. When he entered, he greeted Imam al-Sadiq (as) and went to sit in a corner. Imam al-Sadiq (as) asked him to recite some poetry. Sayyid Humayri recited the following poem of lamentation for Imam al-HuuHsayn,

أمرِرْ علی جدثِ الحسینِ فقلْ لأعظمِهِ الزکیّهْ

آأعظماً لازلتِ منْ وطفاءِ ساکبهً رویّهْ

وإذا مررتَ بقبرِهِ فأطلْ بهِ وقفَ المطیّهْ

وابک المطهّرَ للمطهّرِ والمطهّرهِ النقیّهْ

کبکاءِ معولهٍ أتتْ یوماً لواحدِها المنیّهْ

Humayri says, “I saw the tears of Ja‘far ibn Muhammad flowing on the sides of his cheeks, and loud voices of wailing were heard in the Imam’s house, to such an extent that Imam al-Sadiq (as) asked them to control themselves. Everyone obeyed and they became quiet...”(2)

5. Ibn ‘Abbas cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates, “After al-Husayn got killed, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas constantly cried for him until his eyes became blind.”(3)

6. Anas ibn Malik cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

Al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi says, “When the blessed head of Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali was brought to Ibn Ziyad, he put it in a basin and started hitting the Imam’s teeth with a wooden stick in his hand while saying, ‘I have never seen teeth this beautiful.’ Anas was in his company, and he started crying and said, ‘Of all the people, al-Husayn is the one who resembles the Holy

p: 224

1- Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, trans. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (as), p. 56; Hiliyah al-Awliya’, vol. 3, p. 138.
2- Al-Aghani, vol. 7, p. 240.
3- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 152.

Prophet most’.”(1)

7. Zayd ibn Arqam cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

Ibn Abi al-Dunya’ recounts a hadith that Zayd ibn Arqam was in the presence of Ibn Ziyad. He said to him, “Take your wooden stick away, I swear upon Allah! I have countless times seen the Prophet of Allah kiss those two lips.” Then, Zayd ibn Arqam started crying.(2)

8. Umm Salamah cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

When Umm Salamah was told that Imam al-Husayn (as) had been killed, she said, “Have they really done this? May Allah fill their graves with fire!” Then, she broke down and cried so much that she passed out.(3)

9. Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan Basri cried for al-Husayn (as)

Zuhri says, “When al-Hasan Basri was informed that Imam al-Husayn (as) had been killed, he cried so much that his cheeks got wet with tears. Then, he said, ‘May the people who have killed the son of their own Prophet’s daughter be abased…’”(4)

10. Rabi‘ ibn Khuthaym cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

One of the people among the tabi‘in who mourned for Imam al-Husayn’s (as) suffering was Rabi‘ ibn Khuthaym. Sibt ibn Jawzi narrates, “When Rabi‘ was informed that Imam al-Husayn (as) had been killed, he cried and said, ‘They have killed youths whom the Prophet loved to look at, used to feed with his own hands, and sat on his knees’.”(5)

11. The people of Kufah cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

When the caravan of captives reached Kufah, all the people came to see the womenfolk of the Prophet’s Household. Sounds of crying and wailing rose high. The women and men of Kufah, while yelling and rending their collars, cried for the captives.(6)

12. The generation that came after the Prophet’s companions cried for Imam al-Husayn (as)

‘A’ishah bint al-Shati says, “The year 65 AH had not yet arrived when the loud cries of the tawwabin were heard, ‘O

p: 225

1- Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, p. 389, as narrated by al-Tirmidhi.
2- Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 2, p. 21; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 315; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 434.
3- Al-Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah, p. 196.
4- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 265; Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 3, p. 227; Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 3, p. 127.
5- Tadhkirah al-Khawass, p. 268.
6- Dr. ‘A’ishah bint al-Shati, Mawsu‘ah Al al-Nabi (s), p. 734.

blood of al-Husayn!’ [ya al-tharat al-Husayn!] These cries sent a quake under the feet of Bani Umayyah. The people of Kufah picked up their weapons and went towards the grave of al-Husayn (as) while reciting this verse of the Qur’an along the way,

﴿ فَتُوبُوا إِلَی بَارِئِکُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَکُمْ ذَلِکُمْ خَیْرٌ لَکُمْ عِنْدَ بَارِئِکُمْ ﴾

‘… therefore turn to your Creator (penitently) and slay yourselves, that will be better for you with your Creator.’(1)

When they reached the tomb of Imam al-Husayn (as), they all yelled and cried out. The people had never before been seen to cry as much as they did on that day. They stayed there for twenty four hours…”(2)

Examining Opposing Claims


Some Muslim sects have denied the permissibility of shedding tears for Imam al-Husayn (as). In their denials, they have cited and held fast to a number of proofs which we will now discuss and examine:

1. Hadiths which prohibit crying for the dead

Muslim and other historians have recounted that ‘Abd Allah said, “Hafsah cried for ‘Umar.” ‘Umar said to her, “Keep quiet, my little daughter. Don’t you know that the Prophet of Allah said,

«إنّ المیت یعذّب ببکاء اهله علیه.»

‘The crying of the family tortures the dead person’.”(3)

It has also been narrated that when ‘Umar was hit by a spear, he fainted. They started yelling and crying for him. When he became conscious again, he said, “Don’t you know that the Prophet of Allah said,

«إنّ المیت لیعذب ببکاء الحی.»

‘Verily, the dead get tortured by the crying of the living’.”(4)


Firstly, these traditions contradict all the previously related traditions

p: 226

1- Surat al-Baqarah 2:54.
2- Mawsu‘ah Al al-Nabi (s), p. 764; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 451.
3- Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 639; Kitab al-Jana’iz, Bab al-Mayyit Yu‘adhdhabu bi-Buka’i Ahlihi ‘Alayh.
4- Ibid.

which prove that crying is not only permissible but also preferred. Secondly, it can be shown by citing other traditions that ‘Umar made a mistake in applying the Prophet’s tradition, because Suhayb says, “After hearing this tradition from ‘Umar, I went to see ‘A’ishah and told her what I had heard from ‘Umar. ‘A’ishah said, ‘No, I swear upon Allah! The Prophet of Allah never said that the crying of a person tortures the dead. On the contrary, he said,

انّ الکافر یزیده الله ببکاء اهله عذاباً، وانّ الله لهو اضحک وأبکی، ولا تزر وازره وزر اخری.

‘Verily Allah increases the torture and pain of an unbeliever [kafir] when his family cries for him. Verily it is Allah that makes people laugh and cry. No one bears the burden of another.’’”(1)

Hisham ibn ‘Urwah narrates from his father that the saying (words) of Aba ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar were repeated to ‘A’ishah, that the dead get tortured by the crying of his family. ‘A’ishah said, “May Allah have mercy on Aba ‘Abd al-Rahman. He heard something but did not commit it to his memory. One day the corpse of a Jew was passed near the Prophet of Allah while his family was crying. The Holy Prophet said,

انتم تبکون وانّه لیعذب.

‘You are crying while he is getting tortured’.”(2)

Thirdly, as previously mentioned ‘Umar forbade women from crying in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S). The Noble Prophet (S) said to him,

دعهنّ یا عمر! فانّ العین دامعه والقلب مصاب والعهد قریب.

“O ‘Umar! Leave them alone,

p: 227

1- Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Jana’iz, vol. 1, p. 155; Muslim, Al-Sahih, Kitab al-Jana’iz, section [bab] 9, hadith 22-23.
2- Muslim, Al-Sahih, Kitab al-Jana’iz, section [bab] 9, hadith 25; Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 156.

because tearful eyes, grieving hearts and the promise are near.”

Fourthly, this tradition is not compatible with the apparent meanings of many verses of the Holy Qur’an because Allah says,

﴿ وَلا تَزِرُ وازِرَهٌ وِزْرَ أُخْری ﴾

“A burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another.”(1)

2. ‘Umar made a prohibition against crying for the dead


Some people say that ‘Umar ibn Khattab forbade crying for the dead. They say that ‘Umar’s verdict is proof that it is not permissible to cry for the dead.


Firstly, ‘Umar’s prohibition is opposed to explicit tenets or statements that prove not only the permissibility, but the preference for crying.

Secondly, ‘Umar’s way of life is not credible when it is opposed to the words and actions [sunnah] of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S).

Thirdly, he was opposed by the Holy Prophet (S) when he disallowed crying, as has already been mentioned.

Fourthly, how is it possible that ‘Umar made crying for the dead unlawful when he himself cried for Nu‘man ibn Muqran,(2) Zayd ibn Khattab(3) and Khalid ibn Walid(4). He even ordered other people to cry for Khalid ibn Walid.(5)

The Torah forbade crying for the dead

If one ponders the Tawrat (Torah or the Old Testament), he understands that the prohibition for crying for the dead has roots in this book. ‘Umar was known to have good relations with the People of the Book [ahl al-kitab], especially the Jews, and he read their books. Therefore, it can be surmised that he may have applied this Jewish law in Islam.

In the Jewish books, we read, “O child! I will get the desire of your two eyes with one

p: 228

1- Surat Fatir 35:18.
2- Al-Musannaf, vol. 3, p. 344.
3- Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 191.
4- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 15, p. 731.
5- Al-Musannaf, vol. 7, p. 175.

stroke. Therefore, do not weep and cry, and do not shed your tears. Keep cool and quiet, and do not weep or wail for the dead.”(1)

Pretending to Cry while Mourning for the Awliya’ of Allah

The verdict regarding making pretence of crying [tabaki]

Because of certain conditions that exercise control over the hearts, some people find it hard to cry and shed tears. When such people present the appearance of crying, they will acquire the same reward as acquired by those who actually cry. It has been recounted that the Noble Prophet (S) recited the last part of the Surat al-Zumar for a sizable number of the Helpers [ansar],

﴿ وفَسیقَ الَّذینَ کَفَرُوا إِلی جَهَنَّمَ زُمَراً ﴾

“And those who disbelieved shall be driven to hell in companies.”(2)

All the people who were present cried except one youth. The youth said, “Tears did not flow from my eyes, but I pretended to cry.” The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«من تباکی فله الجنّه.»

“Whoever feigns to cry will be rewarded with Paradise.”(3)

Jarir narrates that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«إنّی قاری علیکم ﴿ ألْهکُمُ التَّکَاثُرْ ﴾ من بکی فله الجنّه ومن تباکی فله الجنّه.»

“Verily, I am reciting Surat al-Takathur. Paradise will become incumbent upon whoever cries and whoever feigns to cry.”(4)

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh says, “Tabaki occurs when a person forces himself to cry, but without the intention of acting hypocritically.”(5)

Mir Sayyid Sharif Jurjani says, “The source of feigning to cry is the word of the Prophet (S), who said,

«إن لم تبکوا فتباکوا.»

“If you cannot cry, then give the appearance of crying.”

The objective of this sentence is for a person who has a

p: 229

1- Sifar Hazqiyal, ishah 24, faqarah 16-18.
2- Surat al-Zumar 39:71.
3- Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 1, p. 147.
4- Ibid., p. 148.
5- Tafsir al-Manar, vol. 8, p. 301.

desire to cry but is unable to, not a person who feigns to cry with the intention of sport and hypocrisy.”(1)

It can also be understood from the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that feigning to cry with correct intention is desirable.

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,

«من تباکی فله الجنّه.»

“Any who feigns to cry will be rewarded with Paradise.”(2)

And he also said,

«... ومن أنشد فی الحسین شعراً فتباکی فله الجنه.»

“… and Paradise becomes incumbent on any person that recites elegies and presents the appearance of crying for al-Husayn (as).”(3)

The Effects of Ashura

‘Ashura from the Viewpoint of Great Thinkers of the World


Any person who reads about the event of Karbala and carefully ponders what came to pass on the day of ‘Ashura, or hears about it from another person, will certainly be deeply saddened by what befell Imam al-Husayn (as), his Ahl al-Bayt (as) and the rest of his companions.

When a person with a sound conscience and healthy mind truly comprehends the heartrending occurrence, he will definitely decide to undertake a spiritual journey. He will embark on an inner pilgrimage and expedition towards Imam al-Husayn (as).

He will find Imam al-Husayn (as) and the purpose of his uprising captivating and concur with the objectives. In fact, this is exactly what has happened to many people who have read or heard about this event and we will now mention a few examples of such people:

The English author and explorer, Freya Stark

In her famous book entitled, “The Faces of Baghdad” [Suwar Baghdadiyyah], Freya Stark has assigned a short chapter to the event of ‘Ashura. At the beginning of that

p: 230

1- Al-Ta‘rifat, p. 48.
2- Saduq, Al-Amali, p. 86, majlis 29.
3- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p. 282.

chapter she says, “Shi‘ahs from all corners of the Muslim World remember al-Husayn and the site of his execution.

They publicly follow up on this event for the first ten days of the month of Muharram. Sorrow and grief is so predominant over them that on the last day, they parade mourning dramas and engage in public wailing and group weeping…”(1)

In a separate chapter of this book, and in a more detailed manner, she has talked about the holy city of Najaf. She recounts, “And at a distance not far from the mausoleum, his son al-Husayn arrived from the other side of the desert. He rode his horse and crossed the desert until he reached the land of Karbala.

There, he pitched a tent. His enemies surrounded him and closed all access to water from him. The events which came to pass have been retained in the memories of people. Detailed accounts about the sad events that occurred at Karbala have been passed from one generation to the next for the last 1257 years.

There is no possibility of deriving benefit from this holy city unless one has enough knowledge and information about this event, because the tragedies which befell al-Husayn penetrate and seep through every existing being to the extent that it shakes the very roots of their inner conscience and the foundations of their beliefs. This event is one of those rare occurrences which make men shed tears involuntarily.”

She then says, “When these tragic events came to pass,

p: 231

1- Suwar Baghdadiyyah, pp. 145-150.

history stopped at Karbala and Najaf because people migrated to settle in these two cities with the intention of renouncing Yazid and washing their hands of the enemies of al-Husayn, the oppressed.”(1)

Proffessor Edward Granville Browne (1862-1926)

The famous orientalist Edward Browne, professor of Arabic and oriental studies at the University of Cambridge, recounts the appalling events which befell Imam al-Husayn (as) at Karbala in this way, “… a reminder of the blood-stained field of Karbala, where the grandson of the Apostle of God fell at length, tortured by thirst and surrounded by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and heedless, the deepest emotions, the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger and death shrink to unconsidered trifles.”(2)

He also says, “Is it possible to find a person who hears about the event of Karbala and is at the same time not overwhelmed by sorrow and grief? Even non-Muslims cannot refute the purity of spirit and morality which accompanied this Islamic holy war.”(3)

Charles Dickens

This English Writer says this about the uprising of ‘Ashura, “If al-Husayn fought to quench his worldly desires, then I do not understand why his sisters, wives and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore that he sacrificed purely for Islam.”(4)

Thomas Masaryk

While comparing Imam al-Husayn (as) with Prophet Jesus (as), Thomas Masaryk says, “The sufferings of Jesus Christ, when compared to the sufferings of al-Husayn, are like feathers made out of straw in the face of

p: 232

1- Ibid., as narrated by Mawsu‘ah al-‘Atabat al-Muqaddasah.
2- ‘Ali Pasha Salih, Adab al-Kalam, p. 199, from the book Tarikh al-Adab al-Irani (A Literary History of Persia) by Brown, London, 1919.
3- Rahbar-e Azadegan, p. 53.
4- Ibid., p. 52. See also The Martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as) by Yusuf Lalljee.

a huge mountain.”(1)

Justice A. Russell

This English poet describes the sorrowful event of ‘Ashura in this way:

“… they hit the blessed mouth of Imam al-Husayn (as) with their wooden sticks. O holy body that has been crushed under hooves! You are that same body which used to charm every person who cast a glance at you.

Blood that has been shed from your blessed veins and has dried is a heavenly mixture which no horse hoof has ever had the opportunity to be painted with such a holy mixture (or color) up to now. O bare and barren earth of Karbala! There is neither grass nor herbs growing on you! Forever the song of sorrow will be chanted for you and the dress of sorrow put on you because it was on your land that the holy body of Fatimah’s son was torn to pieces. He dedicated his spirit to God.”(2)

Captain H. Niblet

While describing the night of ‘Ashura, he recounts, “That night, when the camp fires were burning all around him, the Imam called his followers and gathered them around him. In one long speech, he addressed them, ‘Those who will stay with me are going to be martyred tomorrow.’

Then, he acted in a very gracious manner; a manner which proves that he possessed complete knowledge about the weaknesses of mankind, which shows the strength which his sacrificial soul possessed and is a sign of how generous and kind that great man was.

He said to his followers, ‘Anyone who does not find in

p: 233

1- Ibid., p. 53.
2- Husayn (as), Pishva-ye Insan-ha, pp. 11-12.

himself the courage and strength for steadfastness and martyrdom should secretly sneak out under the cover of darkness towards the east, and there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to feel ashamed.’

When the morning of ‘Ashura emerged, purple clouds gathered in the eastern sky, and seventy one people possessing strong faith and certainty surrounded Imam al-Husayn (as). All of them were ready for death and martyrdom.”(1)

Gibbon, the English historian (1737-1794)

He writes, “Notwithstanding that a long period of time has elapsed since the event of ‘Ashura occurred, and we too are not countrymen with the main actors in that event, nevertheless the unbearable hardships which Imam al-Husayn endured still arouse emotions in the most cold and stonehearted of readers; so much so that every reader finds in himself a kind of affection and love towards that great man.”(2)

Morris Duxbury

This American historian has written about mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as). He recounts, “If our writers of history could percive the reality of the day of ‘Ashura, they would not view mourning ceremonies which are held for Imam al-Husayn to be something queer or unusual.

Al-Husayn’s followers know that by means of mourning for their Imam, they are refusing to go under the yoke of oppression, lowliness and foreign domination because the message of their Imam and leader was that they should never surrender to oppression and tyranny.

Al-Husayn deliberately overlooked his own life, possessions and children for the sake of morality, principle, the people and the integrity of Islam. It is for this reason that he did

p: 234

1- Ibid., p. 46.
2- Rahbar-e Azadegan, p. 51. See also The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1911, vol. 5, pp. 391-392.

not go under the yoke and adventurousness of Yazid.

Therefore, come and let us all imitate his way of life and free ourselves from the oppression of Yazid and those like Yazid. Let us prefer honorable death to living our lives in lowliness. In a nutshell, these are the basic teachings of Islam.

It is clear what status such a community will attain; a community which has been trained on such values from their cradles to the graves. Such a people possess every kind of honor and dignity, because all the people of that community are soldiers fighting for what is right, honorable and dignified.”(1)

Borris Salama

This Christian poet says, “On nights when I stayed awake, I could not but spend them with pain. The cause of my mental torment was my own thoughts and imagination about the people of the past.

I especially thought about the two great martyrs of history: Imam ‘Ali and his son Imam al-Husayn. At one moment, I cried a lot because of the affection and fondness which I felt for those two great men. Finally, I composed a poem for ‘Ali and al-Husayn.”(2)

Gabriel Dankiri

He describes the savagery and barbarity of Yazid’s army in this way, “Yazid’s soldiers on the day of ‘Ashura showed so much cruelty and ravenousness that no one can call to mind a day (in the history of mankind) equal or parallel to it in barbarity. They did not even have mercy on breast feeding newborns and minors.

They went so far as to

p: 235

1- Zendegi-ye Pishva-yan, pp. 84-85.
2- Ibid., p. 86.

take the bloody head of Imam al-Husayn to Damascus. Yazid imagined that with this apparent victory, he would live forever in peace and tranquility, but memories of that day have been revived every day from the day when that sad event occurred up to today, by way of shedding tears, mourning and grieving…”(1)

George Jordaq

This Lebanese Christian Writer recounts, “Yazid was a man who had inherited all the evil qualities of his ancestors, the Bani Umayyah. He even exceeded them. Yazid shared in all the vice, iniquity and mischief of Bani Umayyah in general…

There was no one more deprived of human values than Yazid… and in comparison, there was no one more perfect in human values and morality than al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the martyr in this event. Yazid possessed all the ugly traits imaginable; he was a spineless power seeking opportunist who lacked strength and a man who would never hesitate to commit murder.

And on the opposite side, that is to say on the side of ‘Ali’s children, was to be found all the lofty and praiseworthy human attributes in the best sense of the word; such traits as a generous disposition, courage, liberality and martyrdom…”(2)

Doctor Joseph

This French historian narrates, “During the days of ‘Ashura, the Shi‘ahs mention and listen to the sufferings of al-Husayn. They make every effort to recount the virtues of the Prophet’s family and Household in the best possible manner…”(3)

Claudine Rulu

He is a news commentator for the Le Monde Newspaper who has written about Imam al-Husayn (as) and

p: 236

1- Shahsavar-e Islam, pp. 267-268.
2- George Jordaq, Al-Imam ‘Ali (as), trans. Abu al-Hasan Shahrani; see also ‘Ali (as), the Voice of Human Justice, trans. M. Fazal Haq, Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 1990.
3- Rahbar-e Azadegan, p. 56.

the event of ‘Ashura. He recounts, “In the month of Muharram of every year, the Shi‘ahs procced to remind one another about the event of ‘Ashura and revive the sufferings of Imam al-Husayn, who is the symbol of courage and justice, as opposed to Yazid, the incarnation of abomination and villainy. They draw similitudes between the tyrants of their time and Yazid.”(1)

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was the architect of Indian independence. He was the leader of the national liberation struggle of the people of India during their quest for freedom from British colonization.

He has been quoted as saying, “I have not brought anything new for the people of India; I just brought for them the results which I obtained from my researches about the history of Karbala and that of the champions of the event of ‘Ashura. If we want to free India, it is incumbent upon us to traverse the same path which al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) traversed.”(2)

Sawir Jiny Naid

This Indian poet believes that the mourning ceremonies of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) followers bring about revival of the heart-rending event of Karbala. He says that the uprising of Imam al-Husayn (as) strengthens the religion of Muhammad.

This poet believes that by this uprising, Imam al-Husayn (as) proved his ultimate love and affection for Allah. He says, “During the night preceding that of al-Husayn’s martyrdom, his disciples wear black shirts, remain bare footed and congregate to remember the heart-rending event of ‘Ashura with tearful eyes.

While describing the incidents which took place that night,

p: 237

1- Zendegi-ye Pishva-yan, p. 87.
2- Husayn (as), Pishva-ye Insan-ha, p. 30.

they all shout with one voice, ‘O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn! Why do your thousands of thousands of friends shed tears like this for you? O holy one possessing a high status! Is all this not because of your matchless sacrifices? Because you raised the banner of Muhammad’s great religion and proved to the amazed world your wonderful love for Allah’.”(1)


This American historian recounts, “I do not like to make the account of al-Husayn’s martyrdom long because of the distastefulness and revulsion of the nature of that event. No incident uglier than this event came to pass in the entire history of Islam.

Even though the martyrdom of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali, is considered as a great calamity, the incident of al-Husayn consisted of atrocious killings, mutilations and taking people into captivity; acts which listening to send a shiver down a man’s spine… because it is the most outstanding account of what suffering means.”(2)


Even though he expresses sorrow for both sides of the confrontation on the day of ‘Ashura, he says this about Yazid’s apparent regret, “His remorse was false. Had it been real, he would have punished ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d and Shimr ibn Dhi al-Jawshan.

If he showed apparent remorse, it was because he realized that he had inflamed the anger of the Muslims throughout eternity, not because of the actual crimes which he had committed.”(3)

The German researcher Martin

He recounts, “… al-Husayn was the only person in the last fourteen centuries to stand up against an

p: 238

1- Jawaharlal Nehru, Negahi be Tarikh-e Jahan, vol. 1, p. 298, trans. Mahmud Tafadduli.
2- Tarikh-e Fakhri, p. 5.
3- Al-Jamili, Istishhad al-Husayn (as), p. 13.

oppressive and tyrannical government… He remains the only politician in the entire history of mankind to employ such effective politics through uprising and revolution. Al-Husayn’s unchanging motto was ‘I will die in the way of truth and virtue, but I will not pay allegiance to iniquity…’

Al-Husayn realized that Bani Umayyah, who had changed the caliphate to an absolute monarchy and authoritative sultanate, were deliberately disregarding and even purposefully trodding upon the laws of Islam. He could foresee that very soon the foundations on which Islam was founded would fall. He perceived that nothing would remain of Islam and the Muslims if he delayed any more. Therefore, he decided to stand up against oppression and tyranny.

By sacrificing his most beloved ones, proving how right he was and exposing the wrong which was committed against him by Bani Umayyah, al-Husayn taught mankind valuable lessons in self-sacrifice and risking one’s life for what is right. He recorded the name of Islam in history and made it renowned in the world. If such a heart-rending event had not taken place, Islam and the Muslims would certainly have been effaced and completely wiped out.”(1)

Jurji Zaydan

He narrates about Imam al-Husayn in this way, “… The sight of Imam al-Husayn’s head affected all, making everyone sorrowful… When Yazid’s eyes fell on the cut head of Imam al-Husayn, he shivered from head to foot and realized what an abominable act he had committed.”(2)


He recounts, “The event of Karbala caused regret and remorse for Bani Umayyah because it united

p: 239

1- Husayn (as), Pishva-ye Insan-ha, pp. 37-40.
2- Jurji Zaydan, Faji‘ah-ye Karbala, p. 143, trans. Muhammad ‘Ali Shirazi.

the Shi‘ahs, who became unanimous in their agreement to avenge the blood of Imam al-Husayn.”(1)

‘Ashura and Religious Transformation


The event of Karbala has not only been influential on the hearts of mankind in general, but has also been the reason for many individuals who did not even profess Imam al-Husayn’s (as) beliefs to become attracted to him. It has also become a cause for makind to denounce the religion and customs of Mu‘awiyah, and to be led towards that great Imam (as).

The Frenchman, Dr. Joseph, in his research work entitled, “The Shi‘ahs and Their Astounding Progress” writes, “Portraying and depicting the leaders of their religion as oppressed is one of the things which has served to prove the rightfulness of the Shi‘ahs.

This, too, has managed to leave an effective impression on other sects. And this is natural, because the nature of every man is inclined to assist the oppressed. Every man wants to see the weak overpower the strong and iniquitous, because man’s natural inclination is towards the weak…

Despite apparently not believing in Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions, such European authors have written detailed accounts about the battle and martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions.

They have acknowledged the oppression which was committed against Imam al-Husayn (as) and the barbarity of his killers and have, as a result of all this, been led to hold the names of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) killers in contempt. Nothing can stand against these natural forces, and this is the point which proves the

p: 240

1- Dr. Hasan Ibrahim Hasan, Tarikh-e Siyasi-ye Islam, p. 352.

rightfulness of the Shi‘ite sect…”(1)

Now, we will mention some of the people who have undergone a kind of religious transformation and hence gained discernment after reading or hearing about the event of ‘Ashura.

1. The Egyptian instructor, Abu Sharif, known as ‘Abd al-Majid

In one of the letters he has written to an orator specializing in preaching about Imam al-Husayn (as), Abu Sharif says, “One day, I was holding a small portable radio in my hands and searching for a Cairo radio frequency to listen to. I was alone in my room and I was tuning my radio in search of the frequency. Suddenly, I heard a pleasant and touching voice. I kept the tuner of my radio on that frequency.

This voice was unique and different from all the voices I had previously heard. Gradually, my whole attention was absorbed by it. When I paid careful attention, I found out that a man was talking about Imam al-Husayn (as). He was recounting the bitter events which came to pass at Karbala in detail. I do not know for sure what month that was, but I guess it was the month of Muharram.

Up to that day, I had not understood the issue of crying for Imam al-Husayn (as). However, when I heard a part of the events of ‘Ashura, I cried bitterly. Tears flowed from my eyes spontaneously.

The tears I shed were hot and intense. I cried with such bitterness like I have never cried before in all my life. My tears continued to flow to the last words of

p: 241

1- Sayyid Amin, Iqna‘ al-La’im, p. 356.

the preacher. This condition overwhelmed me and affected my whole being…”

Continuing his narrative he said, “… After this experience, new and wide horizons were opened to me regarding the issue of shedding tears for the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as).”(1)

After this occurrence, he converted to the Shi‘ism and moved to Iran where he became a television presenter.

2. Professor Sa’ib ‘Abd al-Hamid

In his book entiltled, “Manhaj fi al-Intima’ al-Madhhabi”, he recounts the story of his religious transformation and spiritual insight in this way, “Yes, the beginning was like this. The actual beginning was the guiding light of al-Husayn.

The ship of salvation began with al-Husayn; a beginning that I had not intended, but one which he had intended. Allah granted me success by giving me the wisdom to welcome al-Husayn. Allah held my hand and took me to al-Husayn’s doorstep… and this happened on the day when a sad voice touched my ears.

How often before had that voice reached my ears, but I had passed by paying no attention to it. I had placed veils over this voice and, as a result, it paid no attention to me either. However, this time, al-Husayn himself had invited me, at a time when I was near seclusion or something like that. Because of that voice, all my senses trembled, and I surrendered all my feelings, affections and will to him...

That voice captivated all my attention… its stormy waves and scattered flames were affecting me every moment as it narrated, to the extent that my whole being

p: 242

1- Dr. Muqaddasi, Dawr al-Manbar al-Husayni fi al-Taw‘iyah al-Islamiyyah, pp. 112-113.

melted into it. All my being was entirely attentive to this voice. I started to move along with the voice and started to relive the events which was relating.

I melted into all these events with my imagination, picturing everything as the voice was narrating. I was moving with the caravan of Imam al-Husayn, and wherever they camped, I camped too. I followed them from the beginning to the end of the journey. Step by step, I traversed the way.

The incident which was being described by the voice was the story of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom. The voice belonged to Shaykh ‘Abd al-Zahra Ka‘bi. The day was the tenth of Muharram, the year 1402 of the Islamic calendar.

I was listening to the calls and mottos of Imam al-Husayn and my whole body was shaking. I was shedding tears and learning lessons as all this occurred. Then, something occurred in my blood… it seemed as if there was a call and a revolution in my being… here I am, O my master! Here I am, O son of the Prophet! Here I am, O al-Husayn (as)...

There were endless questions in my mind. It seemed as if I were seeing a light within myself; a light that had been veiled in my soul all this time. This light had now been incited, and in a split second, the light had opened up and lit my whole inner being.

This luminosity was acquired from imitating al-Husayn. Al-Husayn, a gift for mankind and a

p: 243

remembrance from the Chosen One of Allah, Mustafa Muhammad (S), was one of the great leaders of religion.

The light of Islam was newly incited in me in the best sense of the expression; a light which the Prophet of Allah (S) guided me to through a religious preacher and one of his own family members, Imam al-Husayn.

Wherever the call of Islam is made, it spreads and everyone recognizes it. There is no other meaning for Islam than this.

Yes, the places where the Prophet’s children fell…”(1)

3. Professor Idris Husayni Maghribi

In his book entitled, “Laqad Shayya‘ani al-Husayn (as)” (Al-Husayn Made Me a Shi‘ah), he writes, “One of the people close to me asked, ‘Who made you a Shi‘ah and what books did you trust and find reliable for your research?’ I answered, ‘As regards who made me a Shi‘ah, I must say that my ancestor al-Husayn made me a Shi‘ah.

The atrocious injustices which were imposed on him at Karbala converted me to the Shi‘ism. And, as regards which books I found reliable while pursuing this, I must say that the books are Sahih Bukhari (the Authentic Book of Bukhari) and the other Sahihs (other authentic Sunni books of tradition). These are the books which made me a Shi‘ah.’

He asked, ‘How is this possible?’ I said, ‘Read the authentic books of Sunni hadith, and do not ignore any contradictions. Note all the discrepancies down and reflect upon them. Count all the inconsistencies you can find in these books and do not bypass anything unless you

p: 244

1- Sa’ib ‘Abd al-Hamid, Minhaj fi al-Intima’ al-Madhhabi, pp. 31-32.

have deliberated and reflected upon it… This is when you will obtain the object of your desire.’

With all certainty, the people who killed al-Husayn and took his chaste family into captivity are not at all trustworthy. There is no justification whatsoever for their abominable actions. For a free thinking mind liberated from religious bigotry, there is no way of justifying the event of ‘Ashura in the same way that it is unthinkable to interpret pure blood as being natural water.

This pool of blood which flowed was not a river of water. On the contrary, it was the blood of the most honorable people. These people were the ones about whom the Holy Prophet (S) expressed his will and desire that Muslims should love them. This community, the Islamic ummah, is responsible for losing its own credibility.

Whatever they say, they cannot convince me as regards why a certain group of Sunni scholars have good relations with the people on whose hands there is so much blood. I cannot understand why some so-called Sunni scholars maintain good ties with the criminals who shed the blood of al-Husayn for the sake of gaining predominance and rule over the Muslim community [ummah].

After the Holy Prophet’s (S) departure, this community did not assist the Holy Prophet’s children. They even abandoned the sunnah and did not observe or follow the Prophet’s way of conduct. You can say whatever you wish in your endeavors to justify these distasteful actions; you can say what you

p: 245

always say, that the Muslims strove hard in reaching consensus regarding the application of religious law in the first era after the departure of the Holy Prophet (S) when they killed al-Husayn!

And that narratives which are found in Shi‘ah books are all products of wild imagination and do not correspond with the real history of Islam.

However, can anyone ever be found in the world who refutes the fact that Imam al-Husayn (as) was killed in an oppressive manner on direct orders issued by Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah by means of an official fatwa (religious edict) passed by Sharih Qadi? Can anyone in the whole world be found denying the sad reality that Imam al-Husayn (as) was killed by the revengeful swords of Bani Umayyah’s armies?

It is more saddening when we realize that all this barbarism occurred in a community where the thinking of the common man had made considerable advances! It was in this very community where another unparallel event came to pass; this occurred when the caliphate was reduced to a monarchy and sultanate. After that, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was tyrannically imposed over the Muslims…

Never and a thousand times never… has anyone had the courage to refute or the ability to justify this heartrending event because history is never negligent as regards the oppression which is committed against the weak? I say so in spite of the fact that the mischief-makers hate to hear this truth.”(1)

He continues, “Imam al-Husayn’s (as) desire was to free the ummah (Islamic

p: 246

1- Idris Maghribi, Laqad Shayya‘ani al-Husayn (as) (Al-Husayn made me a Shi‘ite), pp. 63-65.

community) from the stiffness it had acquired and to incite a revolution against the depraved kings of Bani Umayyah who depended on repression to rule. This kind of revolution needed self-sacrifice. It was necessary to shed blood in order to bring about a revolution in the people’s hearts and souls.”(1)

He adds, “Imam al-Husayn (as) was eager for the prominence of the Islamic community and desired to protect its interests. That is why he stood up against Yazid and his misguidance… Yes indeed! Al-Husayn was left forlorn at a time when he was in grave need of help from the people.”(2)

After briefly recounting the event of ‘Ashura, he reaches this conclusion, “Al-Husayn made me a Shi‘ah.” Then he adds, “I swear upon my soul! This place is a holy place for one who always calls out to the innermost recesses of my conscience and has made all my states and actions sorrowful.

I did not feel satisfied with short accounts about the killings of Karbala; I kept delving deeper until an uprising took place in my heart; a revolution against all the doctrines and teachings which I had inherited from my ancestors. Yes, al-Husayn’s revolution entered my mind and soul…

The people of Sham and Kufah came with their swords but Imam al-Husayn (as) came with his blood; and blood was victorious over the sword. Blood triumphed over deviated history. Therefore, al-Husayn (as) is a light which will never be overcome by the darkness of distortion.

We exalt this event because we know

p: 247

1- Ibid., p. 297.
2- Ibid., p. 303.

that Imam al-Husayn (as) was killed for standing up for what was right. We also know and are proud that only a drop of his blood burried all of his enemies in the annals of history.

We cry for those negligent people who either killed al-Husayn or abandoned him. We regard those who helped as our role-models and leaders. We take al-Husayn’s (as) helpers to be our examples of self-restraint and we imitate them in our lives… we hate the people who killed Imam al-Husayn (as) while they knew that he was better than their King, and that he was the rightful leader for the Muslims.

We detest those who martyred al-Husayn (as) because of the material rewards which Yazid had promised them. Did not these people have the motivation to distort Islam and the power to forge traditions [hadiths] for the sake of earning rewards from Yazid?

Yes, it was al-Husayn (as) who made me Shi‘ah because of the whole truth of his sufferings and the sufferings of his Ahl al-Bayt. He made me Shi‘ah with his blood; fresh blood shed on orange gravel stones in the land of Taff (Karbala).

He made me a Shi‘ah with the cries of newborn children and the wailing of women. I was shouting out loudly as I remembered that day, while hot tears were falling from my eyes because of the sorrow which I felt deep inside my heart. With a heart torn by deep sorrow, I said,

ویرثی ربابک دنیا السّجون ودمع النواح وفیض الدما


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did the enemies of al-Husayn (as) achieve, except digging their own graves?! Their crushed bodies got buried in the annals of history in a disgraceful and lowly manner. O Aba ‘Abd Allah! You are the greatest man in the history of mankind! Life has become enlightened by your pure and sweet-smelling blood!

سطعتَ بریقاً کوَمْضِ الشموس وشاعَ سناک کبر السما

Whenever I read detailed accounts about Karbala, they attracted me from afar. Then, my breathing would quicken. I used to see al-Husayn next to myself covered in blood. I wish I were with him so that I could attain great success.

O how I wish I could disappear into the attraction and captivation I feel for al-Husayn! Yes, there is someone in this place who understands what I percieve. But, is it possible that others might not understand what I understood and that great historical event might not leave an impression upon him?

Yes, Karbala is the place of my entry into history and the time of my admission into proper Islam. How can I not be attracted to this reality like a sensitive [raqiq al-qalb] mystic? Or like the attraction of an erudite person whose intelligence led him to fall in love and perish with reality?

Yes, this is the path I came along and the road I traversed. I have briefly mentioned the sufferings imposed upon Imam al-Husayn (as) and the historical crimes committed against the prophets’ descendants. Now, I would like to end my words.”(1)

4. Dr. Muhammad Tijani of Tunisia

In his book entitled, “Thumma Ahdaytu” (Then,

p: 249

1- Ibid., pp. 313-315.

I was Guided), he says, “My friend Mun‘im and I traveled together to Karbala and there I understood the sufferings of our leader al-Husayn, like the Shi‘ahs do. I understood that Imam al-Husayn is not dead. The people were crowding and pressing together all around his resting place, going round it with grief and anguish the like of which I had never seen before.

They were crying and expressing restlessness as if Imam al-Husayn had just recently been martyred. I heard preachers who were arousing people’s emotions by retelling the tragic event of Karbala. These accounts made the people cry, grieve and wail. No one who hears these accounts can endure it.

On the contrary, he spontaneously loses himself. I too cried. I cried and cried. I cried so much that it seemed as if for years sorrow had accumulated in my throat and it was now exploding out.

After crying, I felt peace like I had never felt before. It seemed as if I was previously one of the enemies of Imam al-Husayn and, in a split second, I had now transformed into one of his friends. I now felt like I was one of the helpers and followers of the man who had sacrificed his life, Imam al-Husayn.

I became calm. It was amazing that, at that very moment, the preacher was narrating and explaining the story of Hurr. Hurr was one of the soldiers who had come with the opposing army to battle Imam al-Husayn, but suddenly, right

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on the battlefield, he trembled. His friends asked him, ‘What is wrong with you?

Are you afraid to die?’ He answered, ‘I swear upon Allah! I have never feared death, but I see before myself the option to choose either paradise or hell.’ Suddenly, he rode his horse towards al-Husayn and hastened to see him. He was crying as he asked, ‘O son of the Holy Prophet! Is repentance from me acceptable?’

At that very moment, I could not bear it anymore and I threw myself down on the ground crying and wailing. It seemed as though I was replaying the part of Hurr and was pleading with Imam al-Husayn thus, ‘O son of the Holy Prophet! Is repentance from me acceptable? O son of the Holy Prophet! Overlook my sins and pardon me.’

The preacher’s voice had produced such an effect on the listeners that it caused the people’s crying voices to become louder. My friend, who had heard my cries, embraced me while he too cried. He held me the way a mother holds her child, and he was repeating, ‘Ya al-Husayn! Ya al-Husayn!’ (O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn!)

This was the moment that I understood and perceived what real crying was. I felt as if my tears were washing my heart and cleansing my entire body from inside. It was then that I understood the real meaning of the Prophet’s tradition, when he used to say, ‘If you knew what I knew, then you would surely laugh less and cry more.’

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I spent the whole of that day in sorrow. My friend wanted to console me, so he brought some cookies for me, but I had lost my appetite entirely. I requested that my friend retell the story of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom, because I did not know much about it…”(1)

5. Ahmad Husayn Ya‘qub of Jordan

Ahmad Husayn Ya‘qub had traveled to Iran on the anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini. He says, “One of the things on my programme during the death anniversary was to visit the shrine of Imam Khomeini. In the morning of that day, I went to visit his shrine. I found a large number of pilgrims.

Not less than three million men and women altogether. They had surrounded the shrine in such a way that they seemed to form a chain. Their hands were spread to the sky and were shouting together Persian poetry. I asked my translator to accurately translate what those people were saying. He said, ‘They are saying, ‘We are not like those people who deserted and left their Imam alone. We are with you, O Imam!’’

I broke down crying and I understood that the Imam who was left alone and was killed by the caliph’s huge army was Imam al-Husayn. On that day, it occurred to me that I should write a book about the event of Karbala.

I reached the conclusion that informing the people about this event was necessary. Therefore, I dedicated a part of my time to this issue and started reading, collecting data and

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1- Thumma Ahdaytu (Then, I was Guided), pp. 96-98.

keeping records of whatever I found out in this field with the intention to publish the results…

When I was busy writing my book on this issue, there were times when I was definitely sadder than other days. I would be affected by the events which took place and would cry a lot during the day. What kind of man would not cry as he passes through the varying parts of the event at Karbala…”

Ahmad Husayn Ya‘qub is a person who possessed foresight and was guided to the right path. He became a Shi‘ah and has written a number of books in defence of the Shi‘ism.(1)

6. ‘Allamah Dr. Muhammad Hasan Shahhatah

He is one of the professors and scholars of al-Azhar University. After a lot of research about the Shi‘ahs, he understood the legitimate claims of this sect and traveled to Iran. In a speech to the people of Ahwaz, a province in Iran, he said, “My love for Imam al-Husayn was the reason that I left all the worldly opportunities that I had.”

In another part of his speech, he said, “If you ask me, ‘Can you find Imam al-Husayn in the east or in the west?’ I will answer you that you will see Imam al-Husayn in my heart. Allah has also granted me the fortune and honor that I should be favored with visiting the holy presence of Imam al-Husayn.”(2)

Prostration on the Soil of Karbala (The Land of Imam al-Husayn’s Martyrdom)

The Philosophy behind Prostrating on the Soil of Karbala

One of the subjects which has attracted the attention of both Sunnis and Wahhabis is why the Shi‘ahs prostrate on soil from Karbala, known

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1- Ahmad Husayn Ya‘qub, Karbala, al-Thawrah wa al-Ma’sah, pp. 7-8.
2- As narrated in the Newspaper Jumhuri-ye Islami, no. 6771.

as the soil [turbat] of Imam al-Husayn (as). They question the essence of this prostration and wonder whether it is for Imam al-Husayn (as) or the soil itself. We will now examine this topic to make this issue clear.

The Shi‘ahs prostrate on any kind of soil

The Shi‘ah scholars [‘ulama’] do not say that it is obligatory [wajib] to prostrate on soil from Karbala. They have said that it is permissible to prostrate on any clay, earth and dust in general. Because of the fact that the soil from Karbala has special distinctions, it is considered preferable and more desirable to prostrate on it.

The superiority of some lands over other lands in the Qur’an

It can be deduced from a number of verses of the Holy Qur’an that certain lands have been blessed and have special distinctions over other lands. Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَیتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنّاسِ لَلَّذِی بِبَکَّهَ مُبارَکاً وَهُدیً لِلْعالَمِینَ ﴾

“Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations.”(1)

And He also says,

﴿ وَقُلْ رَبِّ أَنْزِلْنِی مُنْزَلاً مُبارَکاً وَأَنْتَ خَیْرُ اَلمُنْزِلِینَ ﴾

“And say: O my lord! Cause me to disembark a blessed alighting, and Thou art the best to cause to alight.”(2)

Another Qur’anic verse says,

﴿ وَنَجَّیْناهُ وَلُوطاً إِلی الأَرْضِ الَّتِی بارَکْنا فِیها لِلْعالَمِینَ ﴾

“And We delivered him as well as Lut (removing them) to the land which We had blessed for all people.”(3)

Talking about the Prophet Moses (as), the Holy Qur’an says,

﴿ إِذْ ناداهُ رَبُّهُ بِالْوادِ المُقَدَّسِ طُوَی ﴾

“When his Lord called upon him in the holy valley, twice.”(4)

And likewise, while addressing him, the Holy

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1- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:96.
2- Surat al-Mu’minun 23:29.
3- Surat al-Anbiya’ 21:71.
4- Surat al-Nazi‘at 79:16.

Qur’an says,

﴿ فَاخْلَع نَعْلَیْکَ إِنَّکَ بِالْوادِ المُقَدَّسِ طُوَی ﴾

“Therefore put off your shoes; surely you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa.”(1)

In a story about Sulayman, the Holy Qur’an says,

﴿ وَلِسُلَیْمانَ الرِّیْحَ عاصِفَهً تَجْرِی بِأَمْرِهِ إِلی الأَرْضِ الَّتِی بارَکْنا فِیها ... ﴾

“And We made subservient to Sulaiman the wind blowing violent, pursuing its course by his command to the land which We had blessed.”(2)

About the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Holy Qur’an says,

﴿ سُبْحانَ الَّذِی أَسْری بِعَبْدِهِ لَیْلاً مِنَ المَسْجِدِ الحَرامِ إِلی المَسْجِدِ الأَقْصی الَّذِی بارَکْنا حَولَهُ ... ﴾

“Glory be to Him who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque of which We have blessed the precincts.”(3)

The superiority of some lands over others in hadiths

From the viewpoint of both Sunni and Shi‘ah traditions, it can be inferred that certain parts of the earth, and likewise the people dwelling therein, are endowed with qualities of either wickedness or prosperity and salvation:

1. On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari recounts that ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar said, “When the Holy Prophet (S) was passing through the land of Thamud, he said, ‘Do not enter lands whose owners have committed oppression against themselves so that you may not be afflicted with suffering as they were, unless you pass through while crying.’ Then, the Prophet of Allah covered his blessed head and passed through that valley quickly.”(4)

2. Bukhari also narrates, “‘Ali disliked performing his prayers in the valley of Babylon.”(5)

3. Halabi recounts, “The consensus of the Islamic community [ummah] is that this place (Medina), which

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1- Surat Ta Ha 20:12.
2- Surat al-Anbiya’ 21:81.
3- Surat al-Isra’ (or Bani Isra’il) 17:1.
4- Sahih Bukhari, vol. 6, p. 7, Kitab al-Maghazi.
5- Ibid., vol. 1, p. 90; Kitab al-Salat.

contains the body of the Holy Prophet (S), is the best part of land on earth. It is even higher than the Ka‘bah (Mecca). Some say it is the most excellent part of the earth and is even higher than the Throne [‘arsh] of Allah.”(1)

4. In a discussion about why Medina is higher than all the other parts of the earth, Samhudi Shafi‘i says, “The second reason is this: this land consists of parts of the earth that are considered by consensus of the Islamic community [ummah] to possess the holy body of Allah’s Prophet (as).”(2)

5. Likewise, it is narrated that after the death and burial of the Holy Prophet (S), people used to come and carry some soil from his grave with the aim of seeking divine favors from it. ‘A’ishah got worried that the soil would get finished and hence reveal the body of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, she ordered that a wall should be raised around the Prophet’s grave.(3)

The excellence and superiority of the clay of Karbala


Clay from Karbala is one of the soils on earth which Allah, the Exalted, has blessed for certain reasons, and one of the reasons is that this piece of the earth is where the pure and noble body of the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), rests.

While explaining the hidden meaning of prostrating on soil from Karbala, ‘Allamah Amini says, “This issue is based on two basic principles:

a. That the Imamate Shi‘ahs try to always have a clean cake of natural earth in their possession so that they may

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1- Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, vol. 3, p. 306.
2- Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 52.
3- Ibid., vol. 1, p. 385.

prostrate on it.

b. That some graves are superior to others; therefore, there are special blessings derived from these tombs. It is for this reason that the precincts of the Ka‘bah and other holy shrines have special religious laws.

One of the lands which has gained superiority over other lands and has become a source of blessings and favors is Karbala, the place where the body of the Doyen of Martyrs, Imam al-Husayn (as), lies. Karbala is that same holy piece of land from which Imam ‘Ali (as), long before the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), had picked up a handful of clay. He smelled the soil and cried so much that the soil got wet with the tears flowing from his eyes.”

Then, he said, “Seventy thousand people will be raised from this land. They will enter heaven without their actions of this world being accounted.”(1)

Can it not be said that prostrating on such holy soil is a desirable and virtuous act? Won’t prostrating on such soil bring about nearness to Allah, the Exalted? Is it not deserving that man should prostrate on soil which is the symbol of monotheism and reminds him of the sacrifices which have to be made for the Beloved, Allah the Exalted?

A piece of soil which, if man looks at it from the perspective that it truly deserves, brings about tenderness of heart and brings man closer to Allah.(2)

Professor ‘Abbas Mahmud ‘Aqqad, Egyptian author, says the following about the land of Karbala,

“The land of Karbala

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1- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 3, p. 111, hadith 2825.
2- Al-Sujud ‘ala al-Turbat al-Husayniyyah ‘inda al-Shi‘ah al-Imamiyyah, pp. 69-87.

is a holy place where Muslims go for pilgrimage in order to learn lessons from the example of Imam al-Husayn. For those who are not Muslims, they come here as tourists to see and visit the holy land.

However, in order for us to do justice to this land, we have to make it a place of pilgrimage for all inhabitants of the earth so that everyone might gain his portion of virtue which this land has to offer, regardless of what they believe in, because we do not have any piece of land in living memory that possesses as much virtue nor as many benefits as Karbala. The main reason is that this land called Karbala is the resting place of al-Husayn, and thus is connected and joined to him.”(1)

Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Al Kashif al-Ghita’, while explaining why it is preferable and desirable to prostrate on soil from Karbala, said, “One of the high motives and aims of preferring to prostrate on soil from Karbala is that when the person who is praying puts his forehead on this soil, he remembers the sacrifices that were made by Imam al-Husayn (as) and the love which he displayed when he was in the presence of Allah.

The man who is praying on the soil from Karbala becomes overwhelmed by such thoughts as how it is possible for a man to sacrifice as Imam al-Husayn (as) did for his beliefs and convictions, and stand up against the oppressors!

Considering the fact that

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1- Abu al-Shuhada, p. 145.

prostration is the best posture where a servant of Allah finds himself in the presence of Allah, it is befitting that while in this state he remembers holy and pure souls; souls which sacrificed their lives in the way of their Beloved, Allah. At this moment, and with such thoughts, man acquires a condition of humility and modesty. Everything that is in this world will then appear low and abject before him.

With such thoughts, man’s soul acquires a strong mystical and spiritual attachment to Allah, like the station of conviction which was attained by Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions. This is the benefit of betaking a strong connection with Imam al-Husayn (as) by means of prostrating on soil from Karbala.

It is for this reason that we read in narrations about Imam al-Husayn (as) that his clay (the soil of Karbala) removes the seven veils [hijab]. Therefore, in reality, prostration on the soil of Karbala is a secret for ascending from the earthly domain towards the Lord of lords…”(1)

‘Abd al-Razzaq Muqarram writes, “One of the methods that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) have employed to manifest the oppression which Imam al-Husayn (as) suffered is prostrating on soil from Karbala. This action has lots of hidden meanings.

The most important secret is that every time man’s eyes fall on the soil of Karbala as he performs his five daily prayers, he is reminded about Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions and the sacrifices they made. It is clear that remembering

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1- Al-Ard wa al-Turbat al-Husayniyyah, pp. 32-33.

such role models will produce remarkable psychological and spiritual effects in man’s soul…”(1)

The grave of al-Husayn (as) is likened to the Holy Prophet’s (S)

At the beginning of this discussion, we mentioned the virtues and special qualities of the Holy Prophet’s (S) shrine and the whole area where his holy body rests. Now, we have to bring back to mind that the grave of Imam al-Husayn (as) is just like the Prophet’s (S), because Imam al-Husayn (as) is a part of the Holy Prophet (S). The Holy Prophet (S) said,

«حسین منّی وأنا من حسین.»

“Al-Husayn is from me, and I am from al-Husayn.”(2)

Umm al-Fadl recounts that she saw the Holy Prophet (S) in a dream. She dreamt that a part of the Holy Prophet’s (S) body had gotten separated from him and was placed in her lap.

When she asked the Holy Prophet (S) to interpret that dream, he said that a blessed son called al-Husayn (as) was going to be born from his daughter Fatimah al-Zahra (as). That son would later be raised on the lap of Umm al-Fadl.(3)

It follows therefore that if Imam al-Husayn is part of the Holy Prophet (S), the same kind of respect and status which is reserved for the Holy Prophet should also be reserved for him. If the soil from the Prophet’s grave is blessed, then soil from the grave of Imam al-Husayn is also blessed.

The virtues of clay from Karbala

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates from ‘Amir Shatibi, “I once accompanied ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib on a journey. He was traveling to Siffin. When he reached the valley of Naynawa, he

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1- Maqtal al-Husayn (as), pp. 103-104.
2- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 658; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 4, p. 174; Ibn Majah, Sunan, hadith 144.
3- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 176.

shouted out, ‘O Aba ‘Abd Allah! Bear patiently near the River Euphrates.’ ‘Amir Shatibi says, ‘I asked him: why?’ ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) answered, ‘One day I went to visit the Holy Prophet and found him crying. I asked him, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Has anyone annoyed you? Why are you crying?’ The Holy Prophet (S) answered, ‘No one has annoyed me, but just a while ago the Archangel Gabriel left. He brought the news that al-Husayn will be martyred near the River Euphrates. Gabriel asked me if I wanted to smell the scent of that soil. I agreed. Then, he brought out a handful of soil from the place where al-Husayn will be martyred in Karbala. It was at that moment that I could not control myself and started crying.’’”(1)

2. Umm Salamah says, “One day, the Prophet of Allah woke up in a very disturbed state. He slept again and once more woke up in the same agitated state. He repeated this three times. When he woke up for the third time, I saw him holding red soil in his hand. He was kissing it while shedding tears. I asked him, ‘O Prophet of Allah! What is that soil?’ He said, ‘Gabriel has informed me that my son al-Husayn will be martyred in Iraq. I asked Gabriel, ‘Show me the soil where al-Husayn will be martyred’ Gabriel brought this soil and gave it to me’.”(2)

It is essential to point out that there is a difference between “the one

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1- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 60.
2- Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 4, p. 398.

for whom prostration is done” and “on what material it is done”. The Shi‘ahs do not consider the soil from Karbala to be “the one for whom prostration is done”.

On the contrary, they consider it to be “the material on which prostration is done”. This means that the Shi‘ahs do not prostrate for or to the soil of Imam al-Husayn. On the contrary, they prostrate before Allah, the Exalted, by using the soil of Imam al-Husayn (as) as a pure place where they place their foreheads (a medium of prostration). There is a clear distinction between these two.

Responses to Doubts

Who Killed Imam al-Husayn (as)?


One of the accusations often raised against the Shi‘ahs in recent times is that they themselves were the killers of Imam al-Husayn (as). The accusers say that the majority of the soldiers who were recruited in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d to fight with Imam al-Husayn (as) were people from Kufah, and the people of Kufah at that time were all Shi‘ahs of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

The fault-finders say that the reason the Shi‘ahs hold mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn (as) is to show penance for the actions of their predecessors. They believe that the Shi‘ahs cry in order to express remorse at why their forefathers killed the Prophet’s grandson.

In his book entitled, “Al-Husayn”, the Egyptian writer, Sayyid ‘Ali Jalal Husayni writes, “A surprising thing about Imam al-Husayn (as) is that his own Shi‘ahs killed him, and then started holding mourning ceremonies for him

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every year in all countries of the Muslim World.”(1)

We intend to analyze this accusation to show who the real killers of Imam al-Husayn (as) were.

The different aspects of the Shi‘ah Islam


The Shi‘ism has different aspects and forms, but we will only mention the four main ones here:

1. Political Shi‘ism

Political Shi‘ism [tashayyu‘-e siyasi] signifies belief in the superiority and preference of Imam ‘Ali (as) over all the other companions of the Holy Prophet (S), including the caliphs. Political Shi‘ism denotes belief that in the battles against the Khawarij and the companions at Siffin and Jamal, truth and justice was on the side of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as).

Political Shi‘ism refers to the presence of a group of people in the history of Islam who had determined a definite political point of view. They had accepted the leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) not because they believed that the fourteen Infallibles were appointed by Allah, but because they understood the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to be the most learned and virtuous of all the people on earth. This view was prevalent among most of the people who lived after the Holy Prophet (S). Many specialists in hadith and jurisprudents held this view. They preferred the judgement of the Ahl al-Bayt, especially in political affairs, over the verdicts of anyone else. It is for this reason that they are called Political Shi‘ahs. This group opposed the group which was following the caliphs in political affairs.

This point of view has been extended to books written by scholars of Sunni hadith. It can be seen

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1- A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 1, pp. 584-585.

in history that some people in the first, second and third centuries of the Islamic era [hijrah] were endowed with the Shi‘ism, and a large number of them became popularly known as ‘fihi tashayyu‘ yasir’.

They regarded Imam ‘Ali (as) to be superior over all the other caliphs, especially ‘Uthman. Again, the people with these beliefs are called Political Shi‘ahs.

2. Ideological Shi‘ism based on religious conviction

The Shi‘ism of Faith [tashayu‘-e ‘aqidati] is belief in the Imamate, caliphate, administratorship and religious authority of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) as ordained by Allah, the Exalted, and that the forerunner and first of them is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). This point of view was a prevalent opinion among the people beginning during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (S). These were people who followed the instructions of the Qur’an strictly.

They obeyed the Prophet’s commands to the letter. They were some of the most pious and sincere companions of the Holy Prophet (S) who followed the explicit wording of holy texts and the Prophet’s directives and did not practice religious jurisprudence or inference. It is these people who accepted Imam ‘Ali (as) as the heir and successor of Allah’s Prophet (S).

They believed that following Imam ‘Ali (as) was in accordance with Allah’s orders and the Holy Prophet’s (S) directives. This line of thought continued to exist among the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions, the tabi‘in and the generations which followed them.

These pious Shi‘ahs knew that even though the Ahl al-Bayt (as) had been sidelined and unjustly pushed aside from

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political authority, their identity as religious and scholarly jurisprudents and authorities had become manifest right from the beginning.

Aban ibn Taghlab, who was one of Imam al-Sadiq’s and Muhammad al-Baqir’s (as) companions, describes the Shi‘ahs in this way: “The Shi‘ahs are people who, whenever people differ about a matter which has reached us from the Holy Prophet (as), refer to Imam ‘Ali (as) and adopt his verdict, and whenever a disagreement appears about a matter which has reached us from Imam ‘Ali (as), the Shi‘ahs refer to the words of Ja‘far ibn Muhammad (as).”(1)

3. The Shi‘ism of love and affection for the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

The third aspect of the Shi‘ism seen among Muslims is what has been called the Shi‘ism of Love [tashayyu‘-e hubbi]. When the term Shi‘ism is applied in this sense, many Sunnis will also be considered as Shi‘ahs because a lot of people, even among the Sunnis themselves, possess strong love and affection for the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

There are numerable accounts about the virtues and spiritual accomplishments of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in the Prophet’s sayings which are recorded in Sunni Books of hadith. For examples, we can mention Ibn ‘Abd Rabbah Andulusi, the author of the book entiltled, Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, and Muhammad ibn Idris Shafi‘i.

Muhammad ibn Idris Shafi‘i has recited a wonderful poem in which he says,

إن کان حبّ الولی رفضاً فانّنی أرفض العباد

“If love of the wali (the temporal and spiritual guardian Imam ‘Ali) makes a person a heretic, then, I am surely the most heretical of all of Allah’s servants.”(2)

4. Religious Shi‘ism

The fourth aspect of Shi‘ism is

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1- Rijal Najjashi, p. 9.
2- Al-Kawakib al-Durriyyah, p. 30.

interpreted as religious and cultural Shi‘ism [tashayyu‘-e dini]. These people believe that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) are the only legitimate religious authorities on earth.

That is, the Ahl al-Bayt (as) are the source of religious edicts and the only people who have been entrusted with interpreting the Holy Qur’an. They believe that, within this religious and cultural aspect, it is the duty of every person in the community to seek guidance and refuge in the Ahl al-Bayt (as) when the need arises.

They hold this belief, but at the same time follow the Sunnis (the caliphs) in political and governmental affairs. They do not believe in divine appointment of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) as explicitly expressed in religious texts, the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s (S) sayings.

Instead, they consider the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to be superior over the rest of the people in knowledge and general religious affairs. An example of such people is Shahrestani, the author of the book entitled, “Al-Milal wa al-Nihal”.

Who is a real Shi‘ah?

We find many people in the world who claim to hold certain beliefs but do not act upon their professed convictions at all. These people are not steadfast in their beliefs. They claim to belong to a certain religious group, but are not faithful to the basic teachings of the religious sect they profess.

They may not even know much about the fundamental beliefs of their own religious order. They sometimes even go so far as to trample the basic beliefs of their professed religious denomination underfoot

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due to lack of real faith and piety.

We cannot seriously consider such people as really belonging to a particular sect, even though they may apparently appear to belong to that sect. In reality, they are a deadly army of hypocrites posing the greatest danger against the very religion or sect they claim to adhere to. Even the opponents of that particular religion or sect do not take such people seriously, and do not fear them.

In reality, they do not consider them to be members of that sect at all. On the contrary, the real people belonging to a particular religion or sect are the people who are faithful and steadfast to the basic teachings of that group. They are the people that are ready to sacrifice their lives and property for their beliefs that are genuinely considered to be members of a particular group.

The same can be said about the Shi‘ism and the Shi‘ahs; in the sense that even though many may claim to be ‘Ali’s (as) Shi‘ahs and followers of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as), if their profession of belief has not gone beyond mere words and has not settled in their hearts, they are not dedicated to the basic beliefs of the Shi‘ah Islam and cannot be considered to be real Shi‘ahs.

We cannot consider such people to be pious Shi‘ahs, and neither can we judge the Shi‘ism by their actions. A real and pious Shi‘ah is a person who certainly would not dare kill an

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imam who he professes to love and follow.

On the contrary, he sacrifices his life and soul for his imam, in the same way that many real Shi‘ahs sacrificed their lives on the day of ‘Ashura in order to assist Imam al-Husayn (as). The real Shi‘ahs reached out to their Imam lovingly, and sincerely gave their lives up in his way as martyrs.

We can ask those who doubt and dispute these questions: Can we say that all the people living in Islamic countries are real and pious Muslims? Are they all steadfast to their professed beliefs? Who are the people living in Islamic countries that are busy working for world imperialists and by doing so are helping destroy and wipe out Islam?

Are there not people in Islamic societies who are abject slaves and servants of the unbelievers [kuffar] and are working with the colonizers against Islam and the Muslims? It is certainly not possible for reasonable persons to consider such people to be real Muslims. On the contrary, such people only possess Islamic names and identities.

It is also possible to find some ‘Shi‘ahs’ who are like this and there is nothing unusual at all about it. They call themselves pious or believing, but are not steadfast to their basic beliefs of their professed religion.

Religious instructor, Shaykh ‘Ali Al Muhsin, says, “There is open contradiction and discrepancy in the words of those who accuse the Shi‘ahs of killing of Imam al-Husayn (as) because the very word Shi‘ah means someone who

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follows and loves the Imam.

How is it possible to compromise this meaning with fighting against and killing an imam? Does a real Shi‘ah kill an imam? If the accusation that Imam al-Husayn’s (as) killers were Shi‘ah is right, their treacherous action would certainly expel them from the fold of the Shi‘ism.”(1)

While responding to this unfair and unfounded accusation, Sayyid Muhsin Amin ‘Amili says, “I seek refuge in Allah that the real Shi‘ahs should be the killers of al-Husayn (as)!

The people who martyred Imam al-Husayn (as) were of various categories; some were people drowned in worldly appetites and pleasures who had nothing to do with religion whatsoever, others were low, mean and wicked people of the flesh, and the rest consisted of those people lacking religious conviction and pursuing their worldly dreams. Love of this world persuaded all these people to commit such a great crime.

None of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) lovers and Shi‘ahs took part in killing him. On the contrary, all the sincere and real Shi‘ahs accompanied and helped Imam al-Husayn (as). They stood by their Imam to the last drop of their blood, devoting and sacrificing their lives for him until they attained martyrdom.

They stayed at the service of their Imam despite the insurmountable hardships which lay in the way and never gave up on him to the very last moments of their lives. Many of these people did not expect any financial reward from Imam al-Husayn (as) for their loyalty, so they were definitely not motivated

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1- Lillahi wa lil-Haqiqah, p. 97.

by money when they decided to sacrifice for him and take part in his hardships.

In order to escape and join their beloved Imam (as), others took such high risks as tearing down the fortification which Ibn Ziyad had raised around Kufah, and made their escape.

These steadfast Shi‘ahs underwent every kind of hardship imaginable to join their beloved Imam. The fallacious accusation that even one of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) Shi‘ahs and lovers took part in killing him is something that never took place in reality…”(1)

The Shi‘ism of the people of Kufah

With recourse to history, especially after the death of Imam ‘Ali (as) and during the time of Imam al-Husayn (as), and with careful examination of the beliefs of the people of Kufah, we come to the conclusion that the predominant type of Shi‘ism which existed in Kufah at that time was Political Shi‘ism. The Shi‘ism of Kufah was not founded on religious conviction.

The people of Kufah only believed in the superiority of ‘Ali (as) over ‘Uthman and the other companions. They did not believe in the Divine Guardianship [wilayat wa imamat] of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) or the other Infallibles by way of divine appointment as has been explicitly stated in holy texts (the Holy Qu’ran and hadiths). Furthermore, we cannot consider political Shi‘ahs in the same light as the pious Shi‘ahs who believed in the Divine Guardianship of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

In order to prove this, we will cite an example:

In his book called “Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq” (The Short History of Damascus),

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1- A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 1, p. 585.

Ibn ‘Asakir Damishqi Shafi’i narrates on an authentic chain of transmission that Harith ibn Abi Matar said, “I heard Salmah ibn Kuhayl saying, ‘Musayyib ibn Najbah Fazari and I were once seated in the Mosque of Kufah.

There were many Shi‘ahs in the Mosque. I did not hear any of them speak about anyone of the companions of the Prophet (S) save ‘Ali (as), and they spoke about him with lots of praise and laudation. All their talk was about ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) and ‘Uthman’.”(1)

The Sunnis praise all the Prophet’s companions without exception. They believe that all of the Prophet’s companions were just and equitable people. The people they consider to be political Shi‘ahs are those who later believed in the superiority of Imam ‘Ali (as) over ‘Uthman. There were people in Kufah who held this belief. There were, though, others who did not believe in Imam ‘Ali (as) to this extent, as we have shown from the hadith (tradition) recounted by Ibn ‘Asakir.

The exile of religious and pious Shi‘ahs from Kufah

Ibn Abi al-Hadid recounts that Abu al-Hasan Mada’ini said, “Mu‘awiyah issued these orders to his governor generals in a letter he had circulated to them, ‘I have acquitted myself from any obligation regarding anyone who recounts the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) and his Ahl al-Bayt.’ It has been narrated that Mu‘awiyah went so far as to declare that whoever would transmit a hadith in praise of the virtues of the Household of the Prophet (S) would have no immunity or protection concerning his

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1- Tarikh Madinat al-Damishq, vol. 57, p. 198.

life, property and merchandise.

After this command, the governor generals gave orders to their state preachers to start cursing and insulting Imam ‘Ali (as) and his pure Ahl al-Bayt (as) from the pulpits. The people most affected by this misfortune were the people of Kufah because at that time there were many Shi‘ahs in that city.

Then, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan appointed Ibn Ziyad to be the governor general of Kufah and Basrah because he knew and recognized the Shi‘ahs very well. Ibn Ziyad kept very strict surveillance over the Shi‘ahs through his secret network of spies. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad used to look for the Shi‘ahs and kill them wherever he found them, or terrorize them by cutting off their hands and legs and by plucking their eyes from their eye-sockets.

His tactics included hanging innocent Shi‘ahs from trees and expelling a large number of them from Iraq. That is why no well-known Shi‘ahs remained in Iraq.”(1)

The Shi‘ahs from Kufah joined Imam al-Husayn (as)

History bears witness to the fact that a number of the Shi‘ahs found opportunities to escape from Kufah and join their beloved Imam. They did so at great risk of their lives and by exerting strenuous effort. One example of such Shi‘ahs is Yazid ibn Thubayt ‘Abdi and his two children ‘Abd Allah and ‘Ubayd Allah.

Yazid ibn Thubayt was a Shi‘ah and one of the companions of Abu al-Aswad. He was a person well-known among his people for his praiseworthy virtues and benevolence.

Abu Ja‘far Tabari recounts, “Mariyah, the daughter of Munfidh ‘Abdiyyah, was

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1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 11, p. 44.

a Shi‘ah woman. Her house was a place for the Shi‘ahs to meet and engage in conversation. News reached Ibn Ziyad that Imam al-Husayn (as) was on his way towards Karbala in response to the letter the people of Kufah had written to him. Ibn Ziyad therefore ordered guards to keep strict surveillance over the city.

He ordered them to close the way and control the entry and exit of people into and out of Kufah. Yazid ibn Thubayt decided to leave Kufah and join Imam al-Husayn (as). He had ten children. He informed all of them about his will and decision. He suggested to them that anyone willing was welcome to come with him on this journey. Two of his ten children accepted to go with him. Their names were ‘Abd Allah and ‘Ubayd Allah. After that, he went to the house of Mariyyah and addressed his companions, ‘I have the intention of leaving Kufah and joining Imam al-Husayn (as). Who will join me on this journey?’

Most of them replied that they were afraid of Ibn Ziyad’s spies and companions… Then, accompanied by his two children, ‘Amir and his slave, Sayf ibn Malik, and Adham ibn Umayyah, Yazid ibn Thubayt left Kufah with the intention of joining Imam al-Husayn’s caravan.

They made every effort and managed to reach Imam al-Husayn in Mecca in a short period of time. When news reached Imam al-Husayn that some of his followers had arrived, he went out to meet them.

They said

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to him, ‘Yazid ibn Thubayt and some of his companions have come to join you also.’ Imam al-Husayn (as) waited for them. After a while, Yazid ibn Thubayt arrived and said to Imam al-Husayn,

... بِفَضلِ اللهِ وَبِرَحمَتِهِ فَبِذلِکَ فَلیفرَحُوا ...697

With this statement, he implied that it was a grace and favor from Allah to meet Imam al-Husayn (as) and that he ought to be happy and be congratulated. Then, he gave his greetings [salam] to Imam al-Husayn (as) and sat on the ground in front of him. He told the Imam (as) that he had come with two of his children and a number of his companions to help him. Imam al-Husayn (as) made a prayer asking Allah to grant Yazid ibn Thubayt a good reward both in this world and in the hereafter.

Then Yazid ibn Thubayt’s caravan was brought next to that of Imam al-Husayn (as). They all accompanied Imam al-Husayn (as) to Karbala, where they were martyred after courageous battle.”

Another person who joined Imam al-Husayn (as) from Kufah was Burayd ibn Khadir Hamadani. He had not met or seen the Holy Prophet (S), but had met and seen the Prophet’s (S) companions. He was an excellent reciter of the Holy Qur’an, and was one of the companions of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

He was known to be of the nobles of Kufah. Writers of biography say, “When the news reached him that Imam al-Husayn (as) was on his way from Medina towards Mecca, he started off

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from Kufah towards Mecca where he joined Imam al-Husayn (as). He stayed with the Imam (as) until they arrived in Karbala where he was martyred.”

Other people who had joined Imam al-Husayn (as) from Kufah were Sa‘d ibn Harath Ansari and Abu al-Hutuf ibn Harath Ansari. These two had initially come together with the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d with the intention of killing Imam al-Husayn (as).

However, on the day of ‘Ashura, and after the martyrdom of many of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) companions, and after hearing the wailing voices of women and children on the other side calling for help for Imam al-Husayn (as), they used their weapons to find their way out of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s army and managed to join Imam al-Husayn’s (as) side.

In short, they defected from ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s army and came to the defence of Imam al-Husayn (as). After courageous battle and killing a lot of people in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d, they attained martyrdom.

Another group of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) sincere Shi‘ahs who came from Kufah to join him at Karbala consisted of six people. Their names were ‘Amru ibn Khalid Saydawi, Sa‘d Mawla ‘Amru ibn Khalid, Majma‘ al-‘A’idhi, ‘A’idh ibn Majma‘, Junadah ibn Harath Salmani and the servant of Nafi‘ Bajali (or Jamali) who was leading the horse that belonged to Nafi‘ because Nafi‘ had already joined Imam al-Husayn (as).

They were informed and persuaded to join Imam al-Husayn (as) by leaflets passed around by Qays ibn Mushir al-Saydawi. The leaflets

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said Imam al-Husayn (as) had left Mecca for Iraq. These six people knew that there were guards along the way who had been charged with the duty of arresting anyone going to help Imam al-Husayn.

They found a guide who could ride to show them a secluded way out of Kufah. Their guide took them to Imam al-Husayn (as) as fast as he could. They made every effort to hide themselves from the sentries. When they joined Imam al-Husayn (as), the newcomers recited some poems they had learnt from their guide for the Imam (as).

Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “I hope that Allah intends good for us, whether we are killed or are the victors.”

Hurr had tried to stop these newcomers from joining the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (as), and told them to return to Kufah or they would be taken prisoner. Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “We will never allow such. We will protect them in the same way that we protect ourselves. These people are my helpers.

You promised not to interfere until the letter of Ibn Ziyad arrives.” Hurr said, “That is true, but these people did not come with you.” Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “These people are my helpers and companions. It is better for you to keep your promise or we will be forced to fight you.” When Hurr heard this, he dropped his opposition and left them alone. The six people mentioned were not only martyred at Karbala, but were among the earliest to be martyred.

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At the beginning of the battle, they were surrounded by the enemy. Imam al-Husayn (as) told his courageous brother, ‘Abbas, to go and free those six people from encirclement.

‘Abbas followed his brother’s orders and made a vicious attack on the enemies who had surrounded those six people. He broke the enemy line and freed them. These six youths returned to Imam al-Husayn (as) covered in blood. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was behind them keeping watch over them. Yazid’s soldiers tried to close the way for them.

When the six men saw this, they separated themselves from ‘Abbas and in a fierce counter attack they all attained martyrdom. ‘Abbas gave the final report of what had happened to Imam al-Husayn (as) and the Imam prayed for them and wished them a peaceful return to their Lord.(1)

Yet another person who joined Imam al-Husayn (as) from Kufah was Habib ibn Mazahir Asadi, a very popular companion of the Holy Prophet (S). He and Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah were among those who had gotten the people’s allegiance on behalf of Imam al-Husayn (as). After ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad entered Kufah and isolated Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, they left Kufah with the intention of going to help Imam al-Husayn (as).

Writers of biography narrate, “Habib equipped his horse and told his slave to take his horse and go to a certain place, being careful not to attract anyone’s attention. He told him to wait for him at that place. Habib bade farewell to his wife and children. He

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1- Absar al-‘Ayn fi Ansar al-Husayn (as), p. 66.

then secretly left the city. When the slave saw that Habib was late, he started talking to the horse,

‘O Horse! If your owner does not come, go by yourself to help al-Husayn (as).’ At that very moment, Habib arrived and heard what the slave said to his horse. He could not help but start crying. As his tears were flowing, he said, ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O son of the Holy Prophet! Even slaves have hopes of helping you, let alone the free.’

Then, he freed his slave in the way of Allah. The slave started crying and said, ‘O my master! I will never leave you alone. I am coming with you to help Imam al-Husayn’.”

Another person from Kufah who came to the help of Imam al-Husayn (as) was Hajjaj ibn Masruq Ju‘fi. He was one of the followers of Imam ‘Ali (as). He came from Kufah to Mecca in order to join Imam al-Husayn (as). He came with the Imam to Karbala. At prayer times, he was the one who recited the call to prayer [adhan]. He was one of those martyred at Karbala.

Two others from Kufah were Nu‘man ibn ‘Amru Azdi Rasibi and his brother Hulas ibn ‘Amru. These two brothers were initially in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d, but escaped to join Imam al-Husayn’s (as) army by night. They stayed with him and were among the people martyred in the early confrontation with the enemy.

Also, from among the people

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of Kufah was Zuhayr ibn Qayn Bajali. He was one of the nobles and brave men of Kufah. He was extraordinary in battle. In the beginning, he was a supporter of ‘Uthman, but in the year 60 of the Islamic calendar, he went on pilgrimage [hajj] to Mecca together with his family.

When returning to Kufah, he met Imam al-Husayn (as) along the way. Allah, the Exalted, guided him. From then on, he became one of the supporters of Imam al-Husayn (as). He came with the Imam to Karbala and was martyred there.

It can be deduced from this that there were other supporters and well-wishers of ‘Uthman in Kufah. They existed up to the time of Imam al-Husayn (as), and did not have much inclination towards the Ahl al-Bayt (as). Therefore, it cannot be supposed that all the people of Kufah were devout and faithful to Imam ‘Ali (as).

One of the Shi‘ahs who escaped to join Imam al-Husayn (as) was Sa‘id ibn ‘Abd Allah Hanafi. He was one of the bravest and most devoted Shi‘ahs of Kufah. When the news of Mu‘awiyah’s death reached him, he called the Shi‘ahs of Kufah together. They wrote a joint letter to Imam al-Husayn (as) inviting him to come to Kufah. When Muslim ibn ‘Aqil came to Kufah, Sa‘id ibn ‘Abd Allah Hanafi swore that he would sacrifice his life to help Imam al-Husayn (as).

Muslim ibn ‘Aqil wrote a letter and entrusted it to Sa‘id to take to Imam al-Husayn (as). When Sa‘id joined

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Imam al-Husayn (as), he stayed with him until the day of ‘Ashura when he got martyred.

On the night before the day of ‘Ashura, Imam al-Husayn (as) gave a speech in which he gave his companions the liberty to stay with him or escape under the cover of darkness. In the beginning, every one of the members of Bani Hashim said something pledging loyalty to Imam al-Husayn (as) and promising to stay with him to the very end.

When they finished talking, the first person from the companions to speak in defence of Imam al-Husayn (as) was Sa‘id ibn ‘Abd Allah. He said to Imam al-Husayn (as), “We will never leave you alone until we are sure that we have safeguarded the Prophet’s right in you. I swear to Allah! Even if I knew that I would be killed, then brought back to life, then burnt alive, and this were repeated seventy times, I still would never stop at anything to help you.”

On the day of ‘Ashura, he was the one shielding Imam al-Husayn (as) from spears by acting as a human shield. His body took all the spears and arrows that were aimed at the Imam. As a result of this, no spear or arrow hit the Imam. He got so wounded by the arrows and spears which hit him that he finally fell on the ground. Then after cursing the enemies, he turned to Imam al-Husayn and said, “O son of Allah’s Prophet! Have I been faithful to

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my promise?” Imam al-Husayn (as) replied, “Yes, you will be my advance guard in paradise.” Then, the soul left his blessed body and he was martyred.

Others from Kufah include Shawdhab ibn ‘Abd Allah Hamadani and ‘Abis ibn Abi Shabib Shakiri. Shawdhab was one of the bravest Shi‘ahs of Kufah. He was one of the reliable memorizers and transmitters of hadith (Islamic traditions) from Amir al-Mu’minin Imam ‘Ali (as). Together with his master, he brought Muslim ibn ‘Aqil’s letter from Kufah to Mecca for Imam al-Husayn (as) and then they accompanied him to Karbala where they were both martyred.

‘Abis ibn Abi Shabib Shakiri was one of the most famous Shi‘ah personalities in Kufah. He was a tribal headman and a very brave man. He was an eloquent speaker and a man devoted to worship. The tribe of Bani Shakir was among the most sincere believers in the wilayat (guardianship) of Imam ‘Ali (as). On the day of ‘Ashura, he came alone on the battlefield and challenged the enemy, “Is there anyone to fight me?” No one had the courage to come forward and fight him, so in the end, ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d ordered his troops to shower him with stones. When he saw this, he threw his armor and headcover off and went forward to fight them. He fought on till he attained martyrdom.

Yet another of the true Shi‘ahs from Kufah was ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umair Kalbi. He and his wife Umm Wahab hastened to help Imam al-Husayn (as). On the

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day of ‘Ashura, Umm Wahab held the pillars of the tents and said to her husband, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you! Go and fight in the way of the Prophet’s grandson!”

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umayr sent her to the women’s side of the camp, but this lioness could not leave her husband. She tightly held his clothes and said, “I will not leave you at all, till I attain martyrdom by your side.”

Imam al-Husayn (as) said to her, “May you have a good reward from the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and may Allah have mercy on you. Return to the women and stay there with them, because women are exempted from fighting.” She returned to the women. After her husband’s martyrdom, this heroine came to the place where her husband’s body had fallen and brushed the dirt off him while saying, “May you enjoy paradise.”

Shimr, the accursed, gave orders to his slave to hit the woman with a wooden stick in the head. Rustam, Shimr’s slave, struck her head with a wooden stick so hard that she attained martyrdom right there.

Two others who escaped from Kufah and managed to join Imam al-Husayn (as) were ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Urwah Ghaffari and his brother ‘Abd al-Rahman. These two brothers joined Imam al-Husayn (as) at Karbala. They were honored to be in the presence of Imam al-Husayn (as) on the day of ‘Ashura.

They said to Imam al-Husayn (as), “The enemy has surrounded you from every side. We would

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love to be at your service and fight your enemies so as to repel them from you.” Imam al-Husayn said, “Well done! Come with me.” They joined Imam al-Husayn (as) and fought by his side bravely until they attained martyrdom.

‘Amru ibn Qarzah Ansari is also one of the companions of Imam ‘Ali (as) who came from Kufah. He had fought beside Imam ‘Ali (as) in all the wars that had taken place during his time. He was a trusted memorizer and narrator of hadith. He joined Imam al-Husayn (as) in Karbala before anyone could prevent him. He too was one of the people who took turns guarding Imam al-Husayn (as) on the day of ‘Ashura.

He came forward with his face and chest towards the enemy in order to stop arrows and spears from harming Imam al-Husayn (as). He fell on the ground covered in blood. He said, “Have I been faithful to my promise?” Imam al-Husayn answered, “Yes, you are my guard in paradise. Give my greetings and salam to the Prophet of Allah. Tell him that I too will join him very soon.” Then, ‘Amru ibn Qarzah Ansari achieved martyrdom and returned to his Lord.

Abu Thamamah ‘Amru al-Sa’idi was also a Shi‘ah from Kufah from the time of Imam ‘Ali (as). He had taken part in the wars that Imam ‘Ali (as) had fought, and later in the battles his son Imam al-Hasan (as) had fought. Then, he remained in Kufah. After the death of Mu‘awiyah, he wrote

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a letter to Imam al-Husayn (as) asking him to come to Kufah.

In Kufah, he was one of those who had been ordered by Muslim ibn ‘Aqil to collect donations for buying arms. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad sent a person to arrest him. He and Nafi‘ ibn Hilal Bajali escaped from Kufah and joined Imam al-Husayn (as).

On the day of ‘Ashura, he stood in line to protect the Imam from spears and arrows when Imam al-Husayn (as) was performing his prayers. By the end of the prayers, he had been hit by thirteen arrows. He suffered a lot of wounds and finally fell on the ground and attained martyrdom.

Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah was one of the Prophet’s (S) companions. He was one of the people of Kufah who had written the letter to Imam al-Husayn. He was also one of those who got the people’s allegiance for Imam al-Husayn (as). After the martyrdom of Muslim and Hani ibn ‘Urwah, he went into hiding in Kufah. Later, he and his family escaped. They joined Imam al-Husayn and he sacrificed his life for Imam al-Husayn in the way of Allah.

Another one of the people of Kufah who joined Imam al-Husayn (as) was the One Legged Martyr, Muslim ibn Kathir A‘raj Azdi. He had lost one of his legs fighting on the side of Imam ‘Ali (as) in one of the wars. Even though he was legally exempted from war, and it was not at all incumbent for him to fight, he escaped

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from Kufah and went to Karbala to be at the service of Imam al-Husayn (as).

He became one of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) soldiers and was one of the first people to be martyred at the beginning of the battle. Mas‘ud ibn Hajjaj Taymi and his child ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mas‘ud were also among the people who came from Kufah and were martyred at the beginning of the battle on the day of ‘Ashura.

These two had employed a very good trick. When they noticed that they could not manage to escape from Kufah and join Imam al-Husayn (as) in Mecca, they enrolled in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d and in this way were able to reach Karbala. After reaching Karbala, they escaped from ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s army and joined Imam al-Husayn (as).

Mawaqqi‘ ibn Thamamah Asadi was also one of the people who came to Karbala from Kufah. He traveled by night until he joined Imam al-Husayn (as). On the day of ‘Ashura, he fought very bravely. When his strength was exhausted, he fell on the ground. The enemies wanted to cut his head from his body, but he had relatives in the army of Yazid who hurried to protect him from his enemies and managed to take him back to Kufah.

They wanted to secretly cure him, but their secret could not remain hidden. When news reached the Governor of Kufah about what they intended to do, he gave orders that Asadi’s wounded and incapacitated body should be put

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in yoke and chains and sent into exile to a distant land. Mawaqqi‘ ibn Thamamah Asadi spent a year in yoke and chains with a body covered in blood until he finally joined Imam al-Husayn (as) by attaining martyrdom.

These were some of the religious and devoted Shi‘ahs of Kufah who joined Imam al-Husayn (as) and sacrificed their lives and souls for the Imam and his aims and objectives.

There are many people who joined Imam al-Husayn (as) from Kufah, but we cannot mention all of them here.(1)

Martyrs who carried messages


There were other Shi‘ahs who took the duty of carrying messages between Kufah and Mecca. They attained martyrdom as letter carriers. We will now mention some of them here:

1. ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri, Imam al-Husayn’s foster brother

Biographers write, “Imam al-Husayn sent ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri to Kufah to deliver the reply he had written to Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. Ibn Ziyad’s notorious spy, Hasin ibn Tamim, arrested him in an area called Qadissiyyah near Karbala. Hasin ibn Tamim took him to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. ‘Ubayd Allah asked ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri what Imam al-Husayn (as) had sent him to do. He did not give any answer to this question.

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad ordered him to the top of the palace where he must curse ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab]. (By this ‘Ubayd Allah meant Imam al-Husayn.) ‘Ubayd Allah said, “Then you must come down and get the judgement I will issue for you.”

He went on top of the palace, turned to the people and addressed them,

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1- Tustari, Qamus al-Rijal; Absar al-‘Ayn fi Ansar al-Husayn (as); Dhakhirah al-Darin fima Yata‘alliqu bi al-Husayn wa Ashabih; Ma‘ali al-Sibtayn; Pishva-ye Shahidan (The Leader of Martyrs); Nafs al-Mahmum; Tarikh Tabari; etc.

“O people! I am a messenger from al-Husayn son of Fatimah the daughter of Allah’s Prophet. I have been sent to you. The message he entrusted to me to give to you, the people, is that he requests you to help and support him in his uprising against the sons of Marjanah and Sumayyah.”

At this point, ‘Ubayd Allah gave orders to his agents that they should drop ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri from the top of the palace to the ground. When they did this, his bones were broken. Then, as he was breathing his last, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umayr, a faqih (religious jurisprudent) of Kufah, cut his head off. When the people criticized him for doing so, he sarcastically replied, “I wanted to put him out of his misery.”

2. Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi

One of the couriers who was martyred was Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi. He had carried a letter from Muslim ibn ‘Aqil to Imam al-Husayn (as), and was bringing the Imam’s reply to Kufah when he was arrested by the villainous spy Hasin ibn Tamim and brought before ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad asked him what the contents of the letter were.

He replied, “I tore the letter to pieces so that you could not find out what the contents were.” ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad asked, “To whom was the letter addressed and written?” Qays said, “A number of people whose names I do not know.” ‘Ubayd Allah said, “If you do not know their names, then at

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least go on the pulpit and curse ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab].” Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi went on the pulpit and said, “O people! Verily al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali is the best creation of Allah and son of Fatimah the daughter of the Holy Prophet (S). I am a messenger from him sent to you.

We separated from each other at an area called Hajar. You should hasten to join and help him.” At that moment he cursed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad and his father, and sent peace and blessings upon Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali (as). Ibn Ziyad gave orders to his agents to bring Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi down from the pulpit and kill him.”(1)

These were the true Shi‘ah.

The forerunners of martyrdom


After Muslim ibn ‘Aqil came to Kufah, and before the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), a number of people were martyred because of paying allegiance or sending messages to Imam al-Husayn. Others were martyred because they wanted to escape and help Imam al-Husayn but were discovered before they could succeed. We will now mention some of them:

1. ‘Ammarah ibn Salkhab Azdi

He was one of the Shi‘ahs who had paid allegiance to Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in Kufah. When Muslim was captured, Ibn Ziyad also captured ‘Ammarah ibn Salkhab Azdi and asked, “What tribe are you from?” He answered, “I come from the tribe of Azd ibn Ziyad.” ‘Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad gave orders to his agents to take ‘Ammarah to his tribesmen and separate (cut) his head from his neck.

Abu Ja‘far recounts, “They

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1- See previous footnote.

cut his head off in the presence of his tribesmen.”

2. ‘Abd al-A‘la ibn Yazid al-Kalbi

‘Abd al-A‘la ibn Yazid al-Kalbi was an astute horseman and a very brave Shi‘ah of Kufah. He was a supporter of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. After Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was deserted by the people, Kathir ibn Shahab arrested ‘Abd al-A‘la and handed him over to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad.

Abu Mukhnaf recounts, “After the martyrdom of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad called for ‘Abd al-A‘la. He asked him how he was feeling. ‘Abd al-A‘la answered, ‘I came out in order to be a spectator at the battlefield.

I did not have any intention of fighting against you.’ ‘Ubayd Allah asked him to swear upon Allah that he was telling the truth. ‘Abd al-A‘la refused to swear. Therefore, they took him to a place infested with wild and vicious animals and he was martyred there.”(1)

The presence of Khawarij in Kufah

When we inspect historical accounts, we see that the commanders of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s army were bitter and obstinate enemies of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the Ahl al-Bayt (as). They were all of Nawasib, Khawarij and Umayyad descent, including ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d, Shimr ibn Dhi al-Jawshan, Qays ibn Ash‘ath, ‘Amru ibn Hajjaj Zubaydi, ‘Abd Allah ibn Zuhayr Azdi, ‘Urwah ibn Qays Ahmasi, Shabath ibn Rib‘i Yarbu‘i, ‘Abd al-Rahman Abi Sirah Ja‘fari, Hasin ibn Numayr and Hajjar ibn Abjar.

Likewise, there was no one famous as a Shi‘ah among the people who took part in killing Imam al-Husayn (as). On the contrary, most of the enemy combatants

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1- See previous footnote.

were reputed for being hostile and for bearing grudges against the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

These include Sanan ibn Anas Nakha‘i, Harmalah Kahili, Munqidh ibn Marrah ‘Abdi, Abi al-Hutuf Ju‘fi, Malik ibn Nasr Kandi, ‘Abd al-Rahman Ju‘fi, Qash‘am ibn Nadhir Ju‘fi, Bahr ibn Ka‘b ibn Taym Allah, Zar‘ah ibn Sharik Tamimi, Salih ibn Wahab Mari, Khawli ibn Yazid Asbahi, Hasin ibn Tamim and others.

The presence of followers of Abu Sufiyan in Sa‘d’s army

Imam al-Husayn (as) bestowed the title, “the Shi‘ahs of Abu Sufiyan” on the soldiers of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d. He addressed them in this way,

«ویحکم یا شیعه آل ابی سفیان! إن لم یکن لکم دین، وکنتم لا تخافون المعاد، فکونوا أحراراً فی دنیاکم.»

“Woe upon you, O followers of the household of Abu Sufiyan! If you lack religion and do not fear the Day of Resurrection, then at least be free in your world.”(1)

When we refer to and ponder the words and speeches of Imam al-Husayn (as) at Karbala, we do not find a single instance where he calls his rivals his Shi‘ahs or followers. In the same way, the killers of Imam al-Husayn (as) were never called the Shi‘ahs of Imam al-Husayn in the words of other narrators either. This in itself is proof that the traitors who enrolled as soldiers of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d were not real Shi‘ahs of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

When Imam al-Husayn (as) asked why they wanted to shed his blood, some of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s soldiers answered, “We are at war with you because of the enmity and grudges which we bear against your

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1- Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 2, p. 38; Al-Luhuf, p. 45.


It is clear that these people held deep-seated enmity and hatred of Imam ‘Ali (as) due to the sinister propaganda machine of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. A true Shi‘ah of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) would never say that they were enemies of Imam ‘Ali (as). Some of the enemy soldiers called Imam al-Husayn ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab].(2)

Some of them addressed him thus, “Al-Husayn! We give glad tidings to you that you are going to the fire!”(3) They also told Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions, “O al-Husayn! Your prayers will not be accepted by Allah.”(4)

A true Shi‘ah of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) would never utter ugly words from his mouth regarding his leader and guide. All these ugly statements were a result of hatred and grudges that were held against the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as) by followers of Abu Sufiyan and Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.

Did Imam al-Husayn (as) have Prior Information about his Martyrdom?


One of the doubts often raised by skeptics in connection with the event of Karbala is about the Shi‘ah belief that every imam is prescient so has knowledge of things that are hidden from most human beings.

They believe that the Imams are able to foresee and know exactly what is going to happen in the future. Skeptics dispute that if this Shi‘ah assertion is true, then how can they justify Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid, the son of Mu‘awiyah, when he knew very well that he was going to be martyred in the end? If

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1- Yanabi‘ al-Muwaddah, p. 346.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 67.
3- Ibid., p. 66; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 183.
4- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 185.

Imam al-Husayn (as) had prior knowledge about his death, then why did he undertake the uprising?

The reality is that the above-raised question is not confined to Imam al-Husayn (as) alone. This question is valid about the martyrdom of all the Imams, because they all knew by what means they would be martyred but still proceeded towards their own martyrdoms willingly.

We will now discuss this topic in detail because it is an important one.

Evidence that the Imams knew of their martyrdoms

The topic of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) knowledge about his own martyrdom is something that is not hidden to any researcher of history and can be proven in a variety of ways:

1. In general, all Shi‘ahs believe that Imam al-Husayn (as) and all the other Imams had and have prior knowledge of events and knowledge about what would and will happen in the future. They acquire this knowledge from the Holy Prophet’s (S) teachings and divine inspiration. One of the issues they have prior information about is their own martyrdoms. Although this topic has been a subject of exhaustive debate and dispute among Islamic scholars, we have shown the truth of this matter in a separate article entitled, “‘Ilm-e Ghayb-e Imam” (Hidden Knowledge of the Imam).(1)

2. There are a lot of hadiths (traditions) recounted in books by the various sects of Islam which prove that the Holy Prophet (S) knew everything about the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the place and manner of the tragic event of Karbala. These traditions have been traced and seen in the words

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1- ‘Ali Asghar Ridwani, Shi‘ah-shenasi va Pasokh be Shubahat (To Know the Shi‘ahs and Responses to Doubts).

of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as), Imam al-Hasan (as), Imam al-Husayn (as) himself, Umma Salmah, ‘A’ishah, and others. There is no doubt that Imam al-Husayn (as) had heard these traditions and knew about them well.

Asma’ bint ‘Umays says, “I was Fatimah al-Zahra’s attendant after the birth of Imam al-Husayn (as). One day the Holy Prophet (S) came and said, ‘O Asma’! Bring my child to me.’ I wrapped a piece of cloth around al-Husayn (as) and took him to the Noble Prophet (S). The Prophet put him on his lap and started reciting the call to prayer [adhan] in his right ear and the prelude to prayer [iqamah] in his left ear.”

She adds, “Then, the Noble Prophet started crying and said, ‘Verily, soon it must be that a horrible event must come to pass for you. O Lord! Curse his killer!’ Then, the Prophet turned to me and said, ‘Do not inform Fatimah about this’.”

Asma’ recounts, “On the seventh day after the birth of Imam al-Husayn, the Holy Prophet (S) came and sacrificed a sheep for the blessed newborn.

He performed all the Islamic ceremonial acts according to Allah’s laws such as naming the child and reciting supplications that are supposed to be recited for newborns on the seventh day. Then the Noble Prophet (S) put the newborn on his lap and said, ‘O Aba ‘Abd Allah! It is very hard and unbearable for me.’

Then, he cried. I said, ‘My father and mother be your ransom! Why are you

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crying on this first important day of celebration after the birth of a child?’ He answered, ‘I am crying for this child of mine because a group of oppressors from the tribe of Bani Umayyah and other unbelievers [kuffar] will kill him. Allah will not permit me to intercede for these people on the Day of Resurrection’.”(1)

Ibn ‘Abbas says, “One day, Imam al-Husayn (as) was on the Prophet’s lap. The Archangel Gabriel said, ‘Do you love him?’ The Noble Prophet (S) said, ‘How can I not love him when he is the fruit of my heart?’ Gabriel said, ‘Verily, your ummah (nation) will kill him. Do you want me to show you the site of his martyrdom and grave?’ Then, Gabriel brought out a fist full of soil full of blood and showed it to the Holy Prophet.”(2)

3. It has been directly reported in various hadiths that Imam al-Husayn (as) knew about his martyrdom at Karbala. Although the chains of transmission for some of these hadiths have problems, some sections of these chains are authentic.

We will now refer to some of these hadiths:

Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “There is no believer who sheds tears for my martyrdom unless it serves as a lesson.”(3)

One day, when Imam al-Husayn (as) was leaving the Ka‘bah, ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr came to escort Imam al-Husayn (as) and see him off. ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr said, “O Aba ‘Abd Allah! It is time for the hajj. Are you abandoning the hajj and going to Iraq?” Imam

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1- Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 1, p. 98; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 176; Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 13, p. 62.
2- Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 62.
3- Saduq, Al-Amali, majlis 28, hadith 7.

al-Husayn (as) replied, “O son of Zubayr! It is better for me to be buried next to the River Euphrates than next to the Ka‘bah.”(1)

In a letter to Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah, Imam al-Husayn (as) wrote, “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, from al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali to Muhammad ibn ‘Ali and before him Bani Hashim. Verily, whoever does not join me will not attain victory; wa salam.”(2)

When Imam al-Husayn (as) reached the pass of Batan, he told his companions, “I do not see myself in a situation other than that I should be killed.” They said, “How is that, O Aba ‘Abd Allah?” He answered, “I saw a dream a while ago.” His companions asked, “What did you dream?” He answered, “I saw dogs attacking me viciously…”(3)

4. When we refer to history, we come to know that some people tried to stop Imam al-Husayn (as) from going to Iraq. They reminded the Imam that if he undertook this journey, he would certainly be killed.

In a letter to Imam al-Husayn (as), ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja‘far said, “I request that you change your mind about going on this journey, because I fear that it will result in your death…”(4)

Ibn ‘Abbas, Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah and Abu Bakr Makhzumi also tried to prevent Imam al-Husayn (as) from undertaking this dangerous journey, and warned him about the disloyalty of the people of Iraq.

5. Political and military analysis also confirms this issue because events which testify to this subject all prove that the way

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1- Kamil al-Ziyarat, section [bab] 23, hadith 5.
2- Ibid., hadith 15.
3- Ibid., hadith 14.
4- Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 3, p. 24.

which Imam al-Husayn followed would end in his martyrdom. After hearing that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil had been martyred, and also after Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi had informed Imam al-Husayn (as) about ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s intention, it was very clear for Imam al-Husayn (as) that his action could have no other conclusion other than martyrdom.

He did not require supernatural powers or inspiration to perceive this—common knowledge was enough for him to understand this issue.

Examination of the Qur’anic verse regarding self-destruction


We have gathered from the proofs previously presented that Imam al-Husayn (as) had knowledge about his impending martyrdom. But the question is: Does Islam allow a person to take measures which are sure to result in his own death? Wouldn’t this be considered self-destruction [tahlukah] which is forbidden by the divine law [shari‘ah] of Islam according to explicit texts of the Holy Qur’an?

Now, it is important to examine and analyze the following Qur’anic verse that talks about self-destruction, well-known as “the Verse of Self-destruction” [ayah al-tahlukah].

Allah, the Exalted says,

وَأَنْفِقُوا فِی سَبیلِ اللهِ وَلا تُلْقُوا بِأَیْدیکُمْ إِلَی التَّهْلُکَه وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللهَ یحِبُّ المُحْسِنینَ

“And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves into perdition by your own hands, and do good to others, surely Allah loves the doers of good.”(1)


Responding to this objection, we say,

Firstly, this verse cited as evidence pertains to charity (and spend in the way of Allah), and the intended meaning is that a person is not supposed to bring about his own perdition as a result of giving charity.

The aim of

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1- Surat al-Baqarah 2:195.

this verse is to say that man should not give charity to the extent that he himself becomes helpless and needy. Therefore, this Qur’anic verse is not relevant to the subject of martyrdom and being killed in the way of Allah.

Secondly, if the meaning of the above-mentioned verse could be extended to donating and pledging one’s soul in the way of Allah, it would only forbid man from commiting acts that are unfruitful and purposeless. This means that man should not commit acts which result in wasting and ruining his life without reason.

However, if exposing oneself to the danger of death leads to martyrdom which will in turn lead to the awakening of the society from indifference and apathy and the result is that a better society should be built from the radiance of this action, this kind of ‘self-destruction’ will never be considered as throwing oneself into perdition.

It is for this reason that Allah, the Exalted, in the Holy Qur’an interprets the death of martyrs not as death, but as ‘spiritual life’.

Martyrs never die because with their apparent death in the form of a body without a soul, the blood of a martyr injects new life into society. Can it be said that a self-sacrificing man who dies fighting at the war front has thrown himself to perdition and destruction?

Were all those companions of the Holy Prophet (S) who were invited to jihad in the way of Allah cast into perdition and destruction? Such an idea cannot

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be accepted.

Thirdly, what is the intent of “perdition by your own hands” as mentioned in the above quoted verse? If the purpose is worldly perdition and destruction, then the intended meaning of the verse is: do not let the corrupt and unbelieving people gain predominance over you.

If the purpose is about the hereafter (in the sense that, man does not respond positively to divine call and duty), then the meaning is that the one who abandons self-sacrifice and charity should be wary about his hereafter.

He should not throw himself into perdition and self-destruction because of not responding positively to the divine call.

The judgement of reason

This issue can also be approached from the viewpoint of reason and logic. Some say, “Reason judges that man should protect his life from every kind of danger and calamity. He should not go out looking for trouble exposing himself into self-destruction.”

As has been mentioned earlier, logic and reason reproach taking measures that will lead to self-destruction and perdition when the result is not beneficial. However, if the dead man is in essence alive, his spirit remains in the society, and he has spiritual life which goes with receiving sustenance directly from Allah, common sense and logic cannot consider such a death to be ‘self-destruction’.

On the contrary, refraining from such a death would be an unwise or foolish thing opposed to reason.

Measures taken by the Imams regarding the means of their martyrdoms


In a previous discussion, although we considered the topic of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) divine knowledge about his martyrdom, it is possible that this question has

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not been fully answered as regards the other Imams.

The question which remains is, “Why did the Imams take measures which they knew would finally lead to their own deaths? For example, if they knew that the food they were taking contained deadly poison which was meant to kill them, why then did they eat that food?

Do their actions, just like the uprising of Imam al-Husayn (as), result in blessings and graces which persuaded them to undertake such action? Considering that he knew that Ibn Muljam was lying in ambush for him in the Mosque of Kufah, why did Imam ‘Ali (as) go to the mosque? And why did Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Rida (as) eat the food they were given although they knew that the food they were taking was poisonous? Is this not suicide? Does this not amount to self-destruction?


There are a number of ways to respond to the above question:

1. Regarding the nature of the knowledge of the Imams, there is debate about whether their knowledge is intuitive [huduri] or acquired [husuli]. In addition, there is a question of whether the knowledge of an imam depends upon his will or whether it is always present with him without requiring him to use his will or exert any effort to get it? That is to say, do the Imams know things whenever they wish to know them, especially in external issues?

According to the opinions of some religious scholars and on the authority of hadiths, the knowledge

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of the Imams about the hidden [ghayb] is dependent upon their own wills [mashiyyah].

2. Even if the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) have complete awareness about events that will come to pass, and supposing their understanding about the reality of things and events is intuitive knowledge, not dependent on their own free will, they still cannot trespass or violate the destiny of Allah because they depend on Allah and follow His divine will and decree in all matters.

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani, in the book “Al-Durrah al-Najafiyyah”, says, “The reason the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were pleased to be killed either by poison or by the sword, or by means of any other hardship imposed upon them by the oppressors, even when they had the power to repel these events, is that they knew that their actions were pleasing to Allah, the Exalted.

Therefore, their actions do not amount to self-destruction and perdition. The mentioned verse is about an instance where Allah has forbidden undertaking a certain action. On the contrary, we know that the measures undertaken by the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were all a source of Allah’s satisfaction.”

3. Because the martyrdoms of none of the Shi‘ah Imams was futile or fruitless, and because their martyrdoms all had significant social benefits, we can therefore compare their martyrdoms with the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as).

Their martyrdoms: a) helped people recognize their enemies better; that is why some of their martyrdoms resulted in uprisings and revolts against usurper governments; b) were causes of

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social awareness in the ummah during their time and awoke the people from indifference and apathy; c) caused people gather together to commemorate their death anniversaries, and in this way helped people get to know and understand their virtues and spiritual perfections better. Gathering to commemorate the death anniversaries of the Infallible Imams (as), in itself, has a lot of blessings and graces for the awareness of the Muslim World in any age or time.

Because the origin of their martyrdoms is in itself a great blow against the body of Islam and the Muslims and is a cause of deprivation of the favors and graces resulting from their presence in the ummah, it is therefore appropriate to hold ceremonies to commemorate them and participate in mourning ceremonies.

4. ‘Allamah Hilli, commenting on the action Imam ‘Ali (as) took by going to the Mosque of Kufah where he would become martyred on the nineteenth of the holy month of Ramadan, says, “It is possible for me to say that Imam ‘Ali (as) knew about his martyrdom on that night. He knew where he was going to be killed.

But his duty cannot be compared to our duty; there is a difference between what measures he is charged with undrertaking and the measures we are charged with undertaking. It is possible that giving the blood of his heart generously in the way of Allah is incumbent for him, in the same way that steadfastness is incumbent upon the holy soldier who is

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fighting in Allah’s way, even though his steadfastness may lead to his death.”(1)

Did Allah Leave Imam al-Husayn (as) Unaided?


One of the questions which is often asked about the event of Karbala and Imam al-Husayn (as) is why Allah did not help Imam al-Husayn (as)? Allah is capable of doing whatever He wishes. Why then did Imam al-Husayn (as) not resort to miraculous and supernatural powers in order to repel and exterminate his enemies?

Did Allah not, according to explicit Qur’anic texts, help His Prophet (S) with invisible aid in the Battle of Badr and other wars? Why did the event of Karbala have to end with the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), all his companions and some members of his family and the captivity of those who remained alive?

The concept of help in Islamic thought


The concept of help [nusrat] enjoys a special position in Islamic thought, and the Holy Qur’an has mentioned a number of instances in this regard.

A. The means of Allah’s help


Some verses of the Holy Qur’an have recounted the means of Allah’s help, such as:

1. Eradicating the unjust

The Holy Qur’an mentions eradicating and uprooting the unjust, an action that is in reality a kind of help to the monotheists and believers. Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ قَالَ رَبَّ انْصُرْنِی بِمَا کَذَّبُونِ * قَالَ عَمَّا قَلِیلٍ لَیُصْبِحُنَّ نَادِمِینَ * فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الصَّیْحَهُ بِالحَقِّ فَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ غُثَاءاً فَبُعْداً لِلْقَوْمٍ الظَّالِمِینَ * ثُمَّ أَنشَأنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ قَرُوناً آخِرِین ﴾

“He said: O my Lord! Help me against their calling me a liar. He said: In a little while they will most certainly be repenting. So the punishment overtook them in justice,

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1- Mir’at al-‘Uqul, vol. 3, p. 126, as narrated by ‘Allamah Hilli.

and We made them as rubbish; so away with the unjust people. Then we raised after them other generations.”(1)

2. Invisible soldiers

Sometimes Allah helps believers with invisible soldiers; meaning that He helps believers by means of the angels.

Allah the Most High says,

﴿ إِلاّ تَنْصُرُوهُ فَقَدْ نَصَرَهُ اللهُ إِذ أَخْرَجَهُ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا ثَانِی اثْنَیْنِ إِذْهُمَا فِی الْغَارِ إِذْ یقُولُ لِصَاحِبِهِ لا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللهَ مَعَنَا فَأَنْزَلَ اللهُ سَکینَتَهُ عَلَیْهِ وَأَیَّدَهُ بِجُنُودٍ لَمْ تَرَوْهَا وَجَعَلَ کَلِمَهَ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا السُّفْلی وَکَلِمَه اللهِ هِی الْعُلْیا وَاللهُ عَزِیزُ حِکِیمٌ ﴾

“If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.”(2)

3. Intimidation and fear

Sometimes, the fear that Allah puts in the hearts of the unbelievers is a kind of help to the believers. By this means, Allah intimidates the unbelievers. Allah says,

﴿ سَنُلْقِی فِی قُلُوبِ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَکُوا بِاللهِ مَا لَمْ ینَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَاناً وَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَی الظَّالِمِینَ ﴾

“We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up for Allah that which He has sent down no authority, and their abode is the fire; and evil is the abode of the

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1- Surat al-Mu’minun 23:39-42.
2- Surat al-Tawbah (or Bara’ah) 9:40.


Intimidation and fear are the most effective weapons on the battlefield, and Allah has helped the believers enjoy the benefits of this weapon.

B. The conditions for help


Allah’s help and aid has conditions, which have been mentioned in the verses of the Holy Qur’an; among them:

1. Patience and steadfastness

Allah says,

﴿ وَلَنْ تَرْضَی عَنْکَ الْیَهُودُ وَلاَ النَّصَارَی حَتَّی تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَی اللهِ هُوَ الهُدَی وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَائَهُمْ بَعْدَ الَّذِی جَاءَکَ مِنَ الْعِلمِ مَا لَکَ مِنَ اللهِ مِنْ وَلِیٍ وَلا نَصِیرٍ ﴾

“And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah’s guidance is the true guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.”(2)

He also says,

﴿ أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الجَنَّهَ وَلَمِّا یَأْتِکُمْ مَثَلُ الَّذِینَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِکُمْ مَسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّی یَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِینَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَ_تَی نَصْرُ اللهِ أَلاَ إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللهِ قَرِیبٌ ﴾

“Or do you think that you would enter the Garden while yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you, distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Apostle and those who believed with him said: When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is nigh!”(3)

2. Preserving and safeguarding help

One of the conditions for receiving Allah’s help is that the people for whom this help is meant should possess the capacity and worthiness to receive that help, meaning that they should preserve it

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1- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:151.
2- Surat al-Baqarah 2:120.
3- Surat al-Baqarah 2:214.

and bring about social justice after the fulfilment of Allah’s help.

Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ اُذِنَ لِلَّذِینَ یُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللهَ عَلَی نَصْرِهِم لَقَدِیرٌ * الَّذینَ اُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِیارِهِمْ بِغَیْرِ حَقٍّ إِلاَّ أَنْ یقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللهُ وَلَو لا دَفْعُ اللهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِیَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ یُذْکَرُ فِیهَا اسْمُ اللهِ کَثیراً وَلَینْصُرَنَّ اللهُ مَنْ یَنْصُرُهُ إِنَّ اللهَ لَقَوِیٌ عَزِیزٌ * أَلَّذِینَ إِنْ مَکَّنَّاهُمْ فِی الأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلاَهَ وءاتَوُا الزَّکَاهَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ المُنْکَرِ وَللهِ عَاقِبَهُ الاُمُورِ ﴾

“Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them; those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah’s repelling some people with others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered; and surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep prayer and pay the poor rate and enjoin good and forbid evil; and Allah’s is the end of affairs.”(1)

C. Testing a believer by withholding help

It can be inferred from certain verses of the Holy Qur’an that sometimes Allah tests the believers by withholding help from them. He intends to manifest whether they have perseverance and firmness of purpose or are weak and fainthearted. Will they run away from the battlefield or stand

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1- Surat al-Hajj 22:39-41.

firmly defending the religion of Allah? Allah, the Exalted says,

﴿ وَلا تَهِنُوا وَلا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الأَعْلُونَ إِنْ کُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِینَ * إِنْ یمْسَسْکُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِثْلُهُ وَتِلْکَ الأَیَّامُ نُداوِلُها بَیْنَ النَّاسِ وَلِیَعْلَمَ اللهُ الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَیت_َّخِذَ مِنْکُم شُهَدَاءَ وَاللهُ لا یُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِینَ * وَلِیُمَحِّصَ اللهُ الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَیَمْحَقَ الْکَافِرِینَ * أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الجَنَّهَ وَلَمَّا یَعْلَمِ اللهُ الَّذِینَ جَاهَدُوا مِنْکُمْ وَیَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِینَ ﴾

“And be not infirm, and be not grieving, and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers. If a wound has afflicted you (at the Battle of Uhud), a wound like it has also afflicted the unbelieving people; and We bring these days to men by turns, and that Allah may know those who believe and take witnesses from among you; and Allah does not love the unjust. And that He may purge those who believe and deprive the unbelievers of blessings. Do you think that you will enter the Garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient.”(1)

Responses to two questions

Sometimes it is asked whether or not Imam al-Husayn (as) achieved the professed objectives of his movement. Also, the question is sometimes asked as to whether Imam al-Husayn (as) was militarily victorious over his enemies or not. Here, what is meant by victory is a victory which leads to rule and government.

The answer to the first question is that Imam al-Husayn (as) certainly attained to the professed aims and objectives

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1- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:139-142.

of his uprising and undoubtedly came out of the war victorious as shown in previous discussion.

As for the second question, it must be said that the answer is negative; because outwardly the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d managed to prevail over the tiny army of Imam al-Husayn (as), killing Imam al-Husayn himself (as), the youths of Bani Hashim and many of his companions. This is something which, from a military perspective, apparently looks like defeat.

However, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising had aims and objectives beyond military defeat and governmental rule. The Imam intended to awaken the Islamic community; a community that had sunk into apathy and indifference, and had turned the teachings of Islam upside down. The only factor that could awaken the consciences of these insensible people from their deep sleep of negligence was Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom.

That is why we see that after the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (as), uprisings sprang up against the rule of Bani Umayyah which finally led to the downfall of this cursed sultanate. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«حسین منّی وأنا من حسین.»

“Al-Husayn is from me, and I am from al-Husayn.”

That is to say that the Holy Prophet (S) and his message is intricately connected to Imam al-Husayn (as) and his uprising.

The triangle of prosperity, trial and free will

Man attains advancement and success by means of trials and difficulties and the use of his free will to make correct decisions about his life. Therefore, prosperity and salvation have no meaning and become worthless when they are

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attained without trials and self-determination.

In the same way, a man who has never been tempered by trials and afflictions will not put in the same effort to improve and advance and so will never achieve success at the level of his innate and inherent propensity.

Trials are sometimes personal and private and they are sometimes social, including under their fold all aspects of the society. Sickness, poverty, disbelief, children, worldly life, help, opportunity to escape from the battlefield, and other things like this are all kinds of trials for a believing person. Mention has been made in the Holy Qur’an about trials and temptations for believers, when it says,

وَلَنَبْلَُوَنَّکُمْ حَتَّی نَعْلَمَ المُجَاهِدِینَ مِنْکُم وَالصَّابِرینَ ...

“And most certainly, We will try you until We have known those among you who exert themselves hard, and the patient, and made your case manifest.”(1)

The event of Karbala was a trial for the Muslim ummah

The event of Karbala was a scene of great trial for the Islamic ummah in the same way that the wars which occurred during Imam ‘Ali’s caliphate and the peace which Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) made with Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan were all incidents of Allah’s trials for the Islamic community.

Allah tried the Muslims to manifest who in reality was trudging the path of truth and justice and would follow the Infallible Imams (as) from those who had deviated from the path of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). In this way, everyone was made known by his own actions.

Why Did Imam al-Husayn (as) Bring his Family to Karbala?


Another question brought forth for discussion is why Imam

p: 308

1- Surat Muhammad 47:31.

al-Husayn (as) brought his family to Karbala while he knew very well that a brutal battle would ensue between him and the army of Kufah and that this battle would end with his martyrdom and his family being taken into captivity. Why would he bring his Ahl al-Bayt (as) along on this dangerous journey?

First response

There have been various responses provided for the above-mentioned question. One of the answers is that it was a prevalent custom among the Arabs of that time to bring their families and wives to the battlefield.


This response does not meet the needs of our question because it brings other questions to mind: Why did the Arabs bring their families to the battlefield? Even if it is true that this custom did exist among the Arabs, what benefit and gain would there be in bringing one’s household to a battlefield?

Was it usual for Imam al-Husayn (as) to follow or imitate the customs and social practices of the Arabs? Was Imam al-Husayn (as) not following Allah’s decree when he brought his family and newborn children to the battlefield?

Second response

Another answer put forward as a possibly correct response is that Imam al-Husayn (as) knew that he bore a great divine mission on his shoulders. The mission was to bring about social awareness and consciousness in the Muslim ummah. For fulfillment, this mission had to traverse different stages.

One of those stages was fulfilled by the martyrdom of certain individuals. Another stage would have to reach fulfilment after the martyrdom of

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Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions, and was accomplished by way of speeches and open and public display of the oppression imposed upon Imam al-Husayn (as) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) by Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah’s government.

Only with the manifestation of this second stage does the divine mission of Imam al-Husayn (as) become complete.

This second aspect was well fulfilled by the household of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the captives of Karbala. Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah wanted to secure his position and government by killing Imam al-Husayn and then later claiming that he had only been compelled to do so because Imam al-Husayn (as) had strayed from the religion.

It was by means of the speeches given by the captives of Karbala, led by Imam al-Sajjad (as) and Zaynab al-Kubra, that the oppression and crimes committed by Yazid were exposed. It was because these crimes were publicly disclosed by the captives that Yazid could not achieve his sinister and ominous objectives.

Imam al-Husayn (as) knew very well that if he and all his children and companions were killed, and some of his household members were not present to witness his martyrdom, no one would disclose the oppression committed against him to the public.

There had to be some family members who should remain alive and be taken into captivity so that they could disclose the oppression that was committed against him, or all the blood which would be shed would have been futile. This is why Imam al-Husayn (as) brought the womenfolk of his

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household along with him and why this act was considered necessary.

It can therefore be said that the public speeches which were given by the womenfolk of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) household shook the foundations of Yazid’s government and eventually brought about its collapse.


This possibility, although rational, does not completely meet the needs of our question either because still a second question comes to mind: Why did Imam al-Husayn (as) bring even the newborns of his household? The duty of divulging the events of Karbala could be left to certain older members of his household, as was done by Imam al-Sajjad (as) and Zaynab al-Kubra, and the other women who were in Imam al-Husayn’s (as) caravan.

There was no need to bring the children and newborns to accomplish this duty. Therefore, this argument does not explain the entire cause for bringing all the members of his household, although it can be cited as one of the philosophies behind bringing his family along.

Third response

Some people, while trying to provide a response to this question, have focused on the human tragedies of this event, and have emphasized that Imam al-Husayn (as) intended to prove and expose Yazid’s inner self and the crimes he had committed against Islam and the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as).

That is why Imam al-Husayn (as) brought all the members of his household, including the women and children. Even though he knew what Yazid would do to his family members, Imam al-Husayn (as) brought them along in order to prove the

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true nature and identity of Yazid and his government. In this way, he could substantiate that Yazid was not worthy of being the caliph for the Muslim ummah.

This response can also be cited as one of the causes of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) bringing his household along, but is still not a complete reason for this act.

Fourth response

Others say: the reason for bringing all his household members to Karbala was that Imam al-Husayn (as) wanted to incite people to come to his help, because when the Imam is seen with all his children and womenfolk, his friends and supporters would be persuaded to join him out of mercy and compassion, and the hearts of his enemies would become sympathetic.

However, this possibility does not seem correct because:

Firstly, Imam al-Husayn (as) could use other means of persuading both his friends and enemies, like making speeches and sending representatives to different cities and countries.

Secondly, Imam al-Husayn did not want to create a state of anxiety and uneasiness in the ummah. He did not desire to obtain the people’s help at all costs by arousing their emotions and sympathies. On the contrary, he wanted the people to choose their way by their own volition.

Fifth response

Another answer, which is probably a better answer to this question, is that Imam al-Husayn (as) brought his Ahl al-Bayt (as), womenfolk and newborns because he was worried about them. If Imam al-Husayn (as) had gone on his own and left his Ahl al-Bayt (as) in Medina when he rose up against Yazid,

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there was the fear that the caliphate apparatus would arrest and imprison them.

The Imam saw it to be in everyone’s interests to take his Ahl al-Bayt (as) along with him so that, on the one hand, he could keep them under his own protection and, on the other, they could be charged with continuing the mission by sermonizing and divulging the oppression suffered by the pure and chaste Ahl al-Bayt (as). This possibility can also be confirmed as follows:

a. When we take Yazid’s government’s way of conduct into consideration, it is probable that Yazid would have arrested and taken the Ahl al-Bayt (as) into custody.

b. On the night before the day of ‘Ashura, Imam al-Husayn (as) told all his companions to feel free to leave him alone at Karbala, but he did not give permission for his Ahl al-Bayt (as) to do the same.

c. The governor of Medina at that time was ‘Amru ibn Sa‘id Ashdaq. When the news of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) death reached him, he rejoiced. At a time when the whole of Medina was engulfed in sorrow and everyone was crying and feeling miserable, he said, “This cying and weeping should be for ‘Uthman.” And also in another speech, he severely criticized the people for mourning over Imam al-Husayn (as), and rejoiced at their misfortune.(1)

Now, if the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and womenfolk of Imam al-Husayn (as) had remained in Medina, no one can imagine what such a vile man would have done to them? Would he

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1- Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husayn (as), p. 334.

not have arrested, tortured and imprisoned them? Sa‘id was the one who gave orders that all the houses of Bani Hashim should be destroyed. And he was very stubborn in his enmity and hatred of Imam ‘Ali (as).(1)

Why did Imam al-Husayn (as) give his Companions Permission to Leave?


One of the objections and questions put forward by some people regarding the event of Karbala is why Imam al-Husayn (as) gave his companions permission to go and leave him alone at Karbala on the night of ‘Ashura.

Imam al-Husayn (as) knew that he was facing a large number of enemy soldiers whose hearts did not possess any mercy at all. He knew that fighting with them was certain. He also knew that in any war, there is need for help from friends and supporters.

Why then did he give his companions permission to leave the desert of Karbala? Why did he advise them to take advantage of the darkness of the night and leave him alone?

Two types of permission from Imam al-Husayn (as)


With recourse to history, we come to know that Imam al-Husayn (as) gave two types of permission to his companions.

A. General permission

Imam al-Husayn (as) addressed his companions in a general way,

«أمّا بعد؛ فانّی لا اعلم اصحاباً اوفی ولا خیراً من اصحابی، ولا اهل بیت ابرّ واوصل من اهل بیتی، فجزاکم الله عنّی خیراً. ألا وانّی لأظنّ یومنا من هولاء غداً. ألا وانّی قد اذنت لکم، فانطلقوا جمیعاً فی حلّ، لیس علیکم حرج منّی ولا ذمام، هذا اللیل قد غشیکم فاتخذوه جملاً.»

“And after this; verily, I have never known companions more loyal and better than my companions. I

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1- Ibid., p. 335.

have never found household members more excellent in observation of bonds of relationship than my Household (the Ahl al-Bayt). Allah will reward you graciously on my behalf. Beware! I strongly predict that the day of our confrontation with them will be tomorrow. Beware! I have given you permission to leave. You are all free to go. I do not and will not reproach anyone of you for doing so. This is a night whose darkness has covered you like a mounted camel. Therefore, take advantage of it and make your escapes.”(1)

B. Special or personal permission

History narrates that Imam al-Husayn (as) did not content himself with the general permission he had given to his companions. He went further and gave personal and special permission to some people for certain reasons.

Imam al-Husayn (as) addressed Muhammad ibn Bushr Hadrami on the night of ‘Ashura in this way, “Your child is being held captive in Marzari.” Muhammad ibn Bushr replied, “I entrust his captivity and mine to Allah and His account. I would rather die than live to see my child in captivity. I would not desire to remain alive after him.”

When Imam al-Husayn (as) heard this, he said, “May Allah have mercy on you. You are free from any obligation to me. Go and strive hard to free your child. You are not obliged to me at all.” He answered,

“May the wild beasts tear me to pieces alive if I should leave you.” Imam al-Husayn (as) gave him some clothes and said, “Give these clothes

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1- Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husayn (as), p. 212.

to your son so that he may exert himself to free his brother.” The value of those clothes was one thousand dinars.(1)

Imam al-Husayn (as) came out of the tents in the heart of the night to examine the pits and holes which were in the desert. Nafi‘ ibn Bilal followed the Holy Imam (as). Imam al-Husayn (as) asked him, “Where are you going?” Nafi‘ ibn Bilal answered, “O son of Allah’s Prophet! Your movement towards this rebellious army has aroused my fears.”

The Holy Imam (as) said, “I came out of my tent in order to examine the highs and lows of this desert so as to be able to distinguish the enemy’s military strategic position.” Imam al-Husayn (as) took Nafi‘ ibn Bilal’s hand into his hands and said, “Verily, it is exactly as I have already predicted. I swear upon Allah!

The promise cannot be abrogated.” After this he said, “Are you not going to take advantage of the darkness and pass through these two hills in the heart of the night in order to save yourself?”

Nafi‘ ibn Bilal fell at Imam al-Husayn’s (as) feet and started kissing them. He said, “May my mother mourn for me! My sword is worth a thousand dinars and my horse is worth a hundred dinars. I swear upon Allah who holds me indebted for the favor of your presence! I will never leave you.”(2)

The reality of permission and consent

The question which is put forward at this juncture is this: Does this permission mean that Imam al-Husayn (as)

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1- Ibid.
2- Ibid.

gave his companions clearance from duty and acquittal from the obligation of fighting? Does it imply that they were free from any obligation if they left him alone in those dangerous circumstances?

Does it denote that no sin and requital would be recorded for them if they left their Imam unaided? Or is there a deep secret lying beneath this permission?

We believe that Imam al-Husayn (as) had a number of aims in mind when he gave his permission:

1. When Imam al-Husayn (as) made his sermon of giving permission, he wanted to allow the ones who still harboured doubts about his uprising to leave and not get involved in a war they did not fully believe in. The Holy Imam (as) wanted to let those who had joined him for the sake of worldly position, power and money quit the battleground.

2. Additionally, the presence of people lacking strong motivation and character can harm an army and is not beneficial. This is because such people spread the fear and uncertainty which they feel in their hearts to the other soldiers in the camp. This reduces the morale and discipline of the entire army. Fear is contagious and can cause irreparable division among the soldiers of an army.

3. We can also infer that Imam al-Husayn (as) was inspiring his true companions with this kind of discourse to strengthen their determination for war. He was stimulating his true and loyal companions to be even more steadfast in his defence.

4. We can deduce that because

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the tents were pitched close to each other and the people could hear each other’s voices, Imam al-Husayn (as) wanted his family members to hear for themselves the answers that would be provided by his loyal and faithful companions. This would warm their hearts and raise their spirits high.

5. We can infer that with his speech Imam al-Husayn (as) intended to motivate his followers for a holy war and free them from tribal and clan bigotry. He wanted them to defend him not because of tribal ties, but out of divine motivation to defend what is right and true. He wanted to motivate them to come to the defence of Islam, the faith and monotheism.

Imam al-Husayn’s (as) aim when he made his speech was not to acquit his companions from duty and obligation. In these sensitive circumstances, no one had any pretext for leaving his Imam alone when he needed their help the most.

In reality, the battle that Imam al-Husayn (as) was involved in was such that there was no need for him to ask for help from his companions. Everyone was duty-bound to aid the Holy Imam (as). The very fact that Imam al-Husayn (as) found himself in these circumstances is a call of invitation for help. Is it not incumbent upon people to protect the life of Allah’s trust on earth?

6. When Imam al-Husayn (as) witnessed that his companions possessed sincere and honest intentions, he prayed for them and said, “Lift your heads to the sky and see

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for yourselves.” When they looked up, they observed their places in heaven. We can deduce from this that Imam al-Husayn (as) wanted to get their allegiance and loyalty before showing them their places in heaven. Seeing and witnessing their places in heaven would strengthen their wills and make them fight with more determination and certainty.

7. On the day of ‘Ashura, Imam al-Husayn (as) was repeatedly asking for help. He would say,

«هل من ناصر ینصرنی؟»

This is not compatible with giving his companions permission to leave and setting them free from any obligation.

8. It has been narrated in some history books that Imam al-Husayn (as) entered Zaynab’s tent after talking to Nafi‘ ibn Bilal and the other companions. Nafi‘ ibn Bilal stood outside Zaynab’s tent waiting for Imam al-Husayn (as) to come out. He heard Zaynab’s voice. She was talking to Imam al-Husayn (as).

She was saying, “Have you tested the determination and will of your companions? I fear that they will leave you alone and surrender you to the enemy when the war gets fierce and the enemies intensify their attack on you.” Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “I swear upon Allah! I have tested them. I have observed that they are capable of being steadfast and patient during hard times. They are more attracted to death than a newborn is attracted to its mother’s breast for milk.”(1)

Opposing positions


In order to substantiate that the permission granted by Imam al-Husayn (as) meant that everyone was at liberty to quit the scene of fighting and

p: 319

1- Ibid., p. 219.

was exempted from obligation on the condition that they should go far enough that the voice of Imam al-Husayn (as) calling for help and assistance should not reach them, the sceptics have resorted to certain incidents which came to pass.

One of these incidents was when Imam al-Husayn (as) encountered ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr Ju‘fi in the palace of Bani Maqatil. Imam al-Husayn (as) invited ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr Ju‘fi to join him and become one of his helpers but ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr refused and withheld his help from the Holy Imam (as).

Imam al-Husayn (as) said, “I advise you then to do all that is in your capacity to avoid hearing us, the oppressed, when we call out for help. I recommend that you do all that you can to avoid witnessing what will befall us. Because I swear upon Allah! No one who hears our oppressed voices and withholds his help from us will be exempted from the fire of hell.”


If Imam al-Husayn (as) had set everyone at liberty to leave him, then why did he ask for help and assistance from ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Hurr Ju‘fi? Yes, it is true that the Holy Imam (as) asked him to go so far that he could not hear the Imam’s voice calling for help against the oppressors or witness the killing.

The Imam was trying to help him not to get caught up in an even greater sin than refusing his help because on the Day of Judgement, any

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person who hears an oppressed person calling for help and withholds his help will meet with the wrath of Allah. If that oppressed person happens to be a Holy Imam, the person who withholds his help will certainly be afflicted with harder retribution than the one who does not hear or witness the battle.

Why did Muslim ibn ‘Aqil not kill ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad in Hani’s House?


Historians have recounted: When Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was informed that ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad had made a speech warning the people of Kufah not to follow him, Muslim ibn ‘Aqil feared that the government agents would arrest and kill him. For this reason, he left Mukhtar’s house and sought refuge in the house of Hani ibn ‘Urwah Madhhaji, a strong and proud Shi‘ah. Hani was one of the nobles of Kufah and a renowned reciter of the Holy Qur’an in that part of the Muslim World.

He was also a shaykh and spokesman of a religious group that had pledged allegiance of brotherhood to one another and formed what they called a ‘religious clan’. He had four thousand mounted soldiers and eight thousand ground troops at his command. In addition, if we take the contributions of his allies (in times of need) into consideration, his troops would reach thirty thousand able and willing fighters.

He was considered to be one of the closest people to Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). He had participated in all the three wars which were imposed on Imam ‘Ali (as). He had also had a limited personal experience

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with the Holy Prophet (S) and understood well the era of the Holy Prophet (S).

Muslim ibn ‘Aqil sought refuge in Hani’s house. At that time, there was someone else in Hani’s house. His name was Sharik ibn ‘Abd Allah A‘war Harithi. He was one of the highly respectable and renowned Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as) in Basrah. He was very honorable and considered to be a great man among the companions.

He had taken part in the Battle of Siffin and had been seen fighting alongside ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. Sharik ibn ‘Abd Allah and Hani ibn ‘Urwah were very close and special friends. While Sharik ibn ‘Abd Allah was in Hani’s house, he became very ill. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad came to visit this sick person in Hani’s house.

Before Ibn Ziyad had arrived, Sharik ibn ‘Abd Allah addressed Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in this way, “Your aim and the aims of your Shi‘ahs is to bring ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad to perdition. Therefore, hide yourself in that secret closet over there. Whenever you feel certain that he has arrived, leave your secret hiding place and come forward to kill him. I will guarantee your safety.”

When they were still discussing this, it was said that the governor (‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad) had arrived at the doorstep. Muslim ibn ‘Aqil hid himself in the closet and a while later ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad came in to visit Sharik ibn ‘Abd Allah.

After waiting for some time, Sharik noticed that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was not

p: 322

coming out of his hiding place to kill ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. He feared that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was delaying and losing time. In order to give him a sign that the time was right for killing Ibn Ziyad, Sharik kept removing his head turban and placing it on the ground.

In order to induce Muslim to come out of his hiding place and kill ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, he would repeatedly recite poetry. He kept reciting poetry while his eyes were locked on Muslim’s hiding place. Finally, with a voice loud enough for Muslim to hear, he said, “Quench his thirst, even though that will lead to my death.”

At that moment, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad turned his face towards Hani ibn ‘Urwah Madhhaji and said, “Your cousin hallucinates because of his illness.” Hani answered, “Since he got ill, Sharik has been speaking deliriously. He does not understand what he utters.”

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad left the gathering. Muslim ibn ‘Aqil did not make the least attempt to kill him. The question that can be asked here is: Why did Muslim ibn ‘Aqil not act according to their discussion and kill the matrix of corruption and the zenith of perversion, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, before the event of Karbala? In other words, why did he not exact vengeance and retribution before the crime?


Various responses have been offered for the above question and objection, and we will now mention some of them:

1. Muslim ibn ‘Aqil could not resort to deceit and trickery

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in order to kill ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad because the Holy Prophet (S) forbade any kind of guile. Therefore, Muslim could not employ craftiness in order to fight ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. Imam al-Sadiq (as) recounts a hadith in which Allah’s Prophet (S) said,

«إنّ الاسلام قید الفتک.»

“Verily, Islam became an obstruction of deceit and an obstacle of trickery. (Islam has tied and chained guile and craftiness).”(1)

2. It has been narrated in history books that the wife of Hani ibn ‘Urwah had made Muslim ibn ‘Aqil swear not to kill ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad in her house. She even cried in front of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in order to persuade him not to carry out their plan. This is something which Muslim ibn ‘Aqil himself mentioned.

3. Killing ‘Ubayd Allah by means of deceit was not compatible with Muslim’s conduct and personality because he was a man endowed with strong faith and abstinence. He was raised and brought up in the house of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

The responsibilities he was carrying from Imam al-Husayn (as) were to get and secure the people’s allegiance for the Holy Imam (as) and inform him about all that was taking place in Kufah, not killing ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. Therefore, if he had killed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, he would have gone beyond the domain of his duties and beyond his line of responsibilities.

4. Muslim ibn ‘Aqil considered his duty to be the awakening of the consciousness of the people. If ‘Ubayd

p: 324

1- Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 10, p. 214; Al-Kafi, vol. 7, p. 375.

Allah ibn Ziyad and the likes of him were assassinated in the absence of social consciousness arising from awareness among the people, the result would be that the people would bring to power someone similar or even worse than Ibn Ziyad.

The people had to become aware and informed about the corruption and perversion of the caliph himself. This social awareness and awakening could not be attained by assassinating one man. This is why there is no historical document confirming that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil had concurred with Sharik’s plan of assassinating ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. It is possible that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was thinking about this plan, but did not have a definite intention of executing it.

5. When we deeply reflect upon this event, we come to the conclusion that Hani ibn ‘Urwah had granted guarantees of safety to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. The reason is that when Ibn Ziyad asked Hani to give him permission to come and visit Sharik, Hani ibn ‘Urwah granted him the permission.

This in itself is a kind of verbal guarantee which Hani gave to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. In these circumstances, Islam binds a man to respect the rules of civility by stipulating that he should not kill anyone who has been granted guarantees of safety, even if that person is a matrix of corruption and a source of perversion like Ibn Ziyad especially when this person is visiting another person’s house, not yours, and the host’s wife is not pleased with such

p: 325

an action and is pleading with you to quit the plan; particularly when she insists that if you seriously intend to carry out the assassination, you should do it elsewhere, and not in her house.

6. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad had come with bodyguards. Some of his bodyguards had remained outside the house behind the door and some had come inside the house along with him. The atmosphere prevailing in Kufah at that time demanded that everyone take every precaution about their lives. There was no guarantee that Muslim ibn ‘Aqil would have succeeded at killing ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad even if he had carried out his plan.

7. There was also no guarantee that had Muslim ibn ‘Aqil succeeded at killing ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, the people of Kufah would have judged in his favor and put him in the governor’s palace.

The people of Kufah feared that if ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad got killed in Kufah, the central government in Sham would just send a more bloodthirsty man, worse than ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, to Kufah to kill them indiscriminately. They were afraid that the central government in Sham would hold them responsible for killing the governor, and as a result avenge his death with massacre of the people of Kufah.

Why Didn’t Abu al-Fadl Drink Water?


Historians have narrated that when Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas (as) decided to go on the battlefield, Imam al-Husayn (as) requested that he bring some water for the children and newborns. Abu al-Fadl (as) got a water skin and mounted

p: 326

his horse.

He started moving towards the River Euphrates. Four thousand men surrounded him and were showering spears on him from every direction, but the lone soldier Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas (as) did not pay the least attention to them, nor to the spears which were being showered all around him. He managed to drive the enemies away from the river bank and gain access to water all by himself.

He dismounted his horse and went next to the river with astounding ease and calmness. He then got a handful of water from the river and wanted to drink it because of the intense thirst he was feeling. All of a sudden, he remembered that Imam al-Husayn (as) and his children and the entire family were thirsty. He dropped the water that was in his hands back into the river and recited the famous poem,

یا نفس من بعد الحسین هونی وبعده لا کنت ان تکونی

هذا حسین وارد المنون وتشربین بارد المعین

تالله ما هذا فعال دینی

“O soul! You should be debased for al-Husayn (as) and never live after him.

Al-Husayn (as) has come face to face with death and yet you want to drink cold and delicious water!?

I swear upon Allah that this is not in accordance with the dictates of my religion!”

Then, he filled the waterskin, mounted his horse and returned towards Imam al-Husayn’s (as) camp. The enemy closed his way…(1)

Some ask why Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas did not drink the water. It would have been better if he had quenched his thirst

p: 327

1- Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husayn (as), p. 267.

first in order to gain the necessary strength that was needed to fight, and by this means inflict heavy blows on the enemy or even exterminate them altogether. If he had drunk the water, he would have been able to help Imam al-Husayn (as) and Islam better.


Firstly, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) aim at Karbala was not to bring about the deaths of all the people. On the contrary, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) main aim was to awaken the Islamic community and bring about social consciousness. Even killing the enemy has to occur when there is a pressing need and expedience in the action.

Secondly, the issue of Abu al-Fadl’s not drinking water has served as further proof of the oppression that was committed against Imam al-Husayn (as). This action has attracted sympathy and affection and led human hearts towards Imam al-Husayn (as). It has drawn people to initiate uprisings against Yazid and others like him.

Thirdly, Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas knew very well that he and his brother, the Holy Imam al-Husayn (as), were going to get killed, whether he took the opportunity to drink water or not. He knew that he was not going to leave this battlefield safe, sound and alive. He knew that the enemies were determined and bent on killing all the household of Bani Hashim at all costs. Therefore, was it not better to attain martyrdom and return to his Lord with thirsty lips?

What bears witness to this is that man drinks water whenever he knows with certainty that drinking

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water will save his life, but Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas had no hope of living after this war. He knew with certainty that he was going to be martyred.

Fourthly, Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas believed that drinking water when Imam al-Husayn (as) and his household were thirsty amounted to treachery in some way. The rules of proper Islamic conduct did not allow him as a follower to satiate his thirst when his holy leader was thirsty.

Fifthly, generosity and self sacrifice are among the morals and gracious virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). Abu al-Fadl al-‘Abbas sacrificed in the same way that his father Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), Fatimah al-Zahra (as), al-Hasan and al-Husayn (as) had sacrificed generously and given the food they so badly needed to break their fast with in the holy mounth of Ramadan to the poor, orphans and the captives for three days in a row while they themselves were forced to remain hungry all this time.

Is Obeying a Tyranical Ruler Incumbent upon Muslims?


One of the issues about which the Sunnis and the Imamate Shi‘ahs differ is obedience to a corrupt ruler or submission to a tyrannical government. Is it permissible to dismiss the caliph from office if he is corrupt or becomes corrupt? Is it permissible to rise up in arms against him or is it never permissible?

The Sunnis have reached consensus that the caliph cannot be dismissed and removed from office, even if he is corrupt and perverted. Therefore, they say it is not permissible to revolt against him. The

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only thing Muslims can do is to advise him to change his corrupt ways.

In contrast, the Imamate Shi‘ahs not only regard obeying a tyrannical and corrupt ruler not to be incumbent, but consider it to be forbidden [haram] by the Islamic law to submit to such a leader. In certain circumstances, it is obligatory [wajib] to rise up against a tyrannical ruler.

In this discussion, we intend to prove the truthfulness of the Shi‘ah standpoint.

Religious edicts [fatwas] issued by the Sunnis about obeying a corrupt and oppressive ruler

1. Imam Nuwi says, “The Sunnis have reached consensus that the sultan and caliph cannot be dismissed from office, even though he is corrupt…”(1)

2. Qadi ‘Ayad says, “All the Sunnis from different fields of specialization such as Islamic jurisprudence, hadith, history and theology believe that the sultan cannot be dismissed from office, even if he is corrupt, perverted, oppressive and tramples the rule of law underfoot.”(2)

3. Qadi Abu Bakr Baqilani writes, “All the Sunnis believe that an imam cannot be dismissed from office even if he is corrupt, oppressive, or seizes people’s property by force. He cannot be removed from power although he hits or slaps people in their faces and does not respect the honor of others, and even though he tramples the rule of law underfoot. It is not permitted to rise up against him.

The Muslims can only go so far as to advise and warn him about the negative consequences of his actions. It is of course not binding upon the people to obey him when he invites them to participate in his

p: 330

1- Nuwi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol. 12, p. 229.
2- Ibid.

sinful actions, but they cannot dismiss him from office. There are a number of narrations which assert that it is incumbent to obey an imam and caliph, even though he might be an oppressor or even if he forcibly usurps and seizes people’s property. Because the Prophet (S) has said, ‘Listen to and obey your ruler, even if he is a slave with a flat nose or an Ethiopian. Also, pray behind every person, virtuous or perverted.’ He also said, ‘Follow and obey your rulers, even if they loot your property and break your backs’.”(1)

However, some Sunni scholars have opposed this point of view, and instead believe that a corrupt ruler should not be obeyed. Some of those who have opposed obeying the corrupt ruler are Mawardi in his book “Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah”(2), ‘Abd al-Qahir Baghdadi in his book “Usul al-Din”(3), Ibn Hazm Zahiri in his book “Al-Fisal fi al-Millal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal”(4), and Jurjani in his book “Sharh al-Mawaqif”.(5)

Edicts regarding illegality of rising up against a tyrant

Many Sunni scholars [‘ulama’] have agreed that rising up against a corrupt ‘imam’ or caliph who is an oppressor is not permissible.

Among those of old, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar and Ahmad ibn Hanbal are some of the most headstrong opposers of rising up against the Muslim caliph even if he is an oppressor and a perverted man. Abu Bakr Marwazi narrates that Ahmad ibn Hanbal used to advocate preventing bloodshed and strongly denied the legitimacy of uprising against the Muslim caliph.(6)

Dr. ‘Atiah al-Zahrani adds a footnote at the bottom of Abu

p: 331

1- Baqilani, Al-Tamhid.
2- Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyah, p. 17.
3- Usul al-Din, p. 190, 278.
4- Al-Fisal fi al-Millal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal, vol. 4, p. 175.
5- Sharh al-Mawaqif, vol. 8, p. 353.
6- Al-Sunnah, vol. 1, p. 131

Bakr Marwazi’s narration saying, “The chain of transmission of this narration is correct. This is the true belief of the Salafi sect.”(1)

Imam Nuwi, while expounding on the agreement of the Sunni scholars on this issue, says, “According to the consensus of the scholars, rising up against the Muslim caliph is forbidden [haram], even though he is corrupt and oppressive.”(2)

However, this claim is not correct and, as we will explain later, the Imamate Shi‘ahs oppose it and believe that not only is obeying a corrupt and oppressive ruler not permissible, but it is also obligatory [wajib] to rise up against him under certain circumstances.

Dr. Muhammad Faruq Nahban attributes the edict [fatwa] which forbids rising up against a corrupt and oppressive caliph to the majority of Sunni scholars and says, “Sunni scholars have two opinions regarding revolution and rising up against a tyrannical and perverted ruler:

The first opinion is that rising up against the ruler and dismissing him from power is permissible. This opinion is held by the Mu‘tazilites, the Khawarij, the Zaydis, and a number of sects. They even say that it is incumbent to rise up against an oppressive ruler. They have resorted to the following Qur’anic verses to prove their claim,

﴿ وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَی البِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَی ﴾

“… and help one another in goodness and piety…”(3)

﴿ ... فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِی تَبْغِی حَتَّی تَفِیءَ إِلَی أَمْرِ اللهِ ... ﴾

“… but if one of them acts wrongfully towards the other, fight that which acts wrongfully until it returns to Allah’s command…”(4)

﴿ ... لاَ یَنَالُ

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1- Ibid., hashiyah.
2- Nuwi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol. 12, p. 229.
3- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:2.
4- Surat al-Hujurat 49:9.

عَهْدِی الظَّالِمِینَ ﴾

“… My covenant does not include the unjust.”(1)

The second opinion is that drawing one’s sword and rising up against the caliph is not permissible, because it brings about sedition [fitnah] and bloodshed. This is the opinion held by most Sunnis and the Rijal al-Hadith(2) as well as a number of the Prophet’s (S) companions like Ibn ‘Umar, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas and Usamah ibn Zayd.”(3)

Reasons put forward by the Sunnis

A. Traditions [hadiths]

In order to prove the illegality of rising up against a corrupt ruler and the incumbency of obeying him, Sunni scholars have resorted to a number of traditions narrated through Sunni sources. Now, we will mention some of these hadiths:

1. In his book “Al-Sahih”, Muslim quotes from Hudhayfah that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “There will come after me imams who will not be guided to what I have been guided, and who will not act according to my sunnah (way of life). Soon it will come to pass that people will rise up against them. Some of the people revolting will possess hearts like those of the satans [shayatin] in their bodies.” Hudhayfah says, “I asked the Noble Prophet (S), ‘What should I do, O Prophet of Allah, if I experience such a period?’ The Noble Prophet (S) said, ‘You must listen to the rulers. Obey them even if they break your back and take your property by force. You should listen to the ruler and obey him’.”(4)

2. Muslim also quotes from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Anyone who witnesses

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1- Surat al-Baqarah 2:124.
2- Those who interpreted the hadiths literally, and did not believe in esoteric meanings of the hadiths. [trans.]
3- Nizam al-Hukm fi al-Islam, pp. 527-529.
4- Muslim, Al-Sahih, Kitab al-Amarah, Bab al-Amr bi-Luzum al-Jama‘ah, section [bab] 13, hadith 52.

something from his imam which is displeasing to him should exercise patience, because a person who separates himself from the community and then dies in that state has died the death of the Age of Ignorance [‘asr al-jahiliyyah].”(1)

3. Muslim recounts another hadith from the Holy Prophet (S) saying, “Anyone who turns his back for just a span on his sultan and dies in that state has died the death of the Age of Ignorance [‘asr al-jahiliyyah].”(2)

4. Muslim narrates yet another hadith from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn Khattab. He says that when the event of Harrah occurred, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn Khattab used to say, “I heard the Noble Prophet say, ‘Anyone who quits obeying his sultan will meet Allah without any plea or appeal for themselves. And anyone who dies in a state where he has not paid allegiance to the sultan has died the death of the Age of Ignorance [‘asr al-jahiliyyah]’.”(3)

B. Political and social structures of Muslim affairs

In order to prove the illegality of rising up against a corrupt and perverted ruler, some Sunni scholars have resorted to reasoning that preserving the standing structures of Muslim affairs is the most important duty of all, and hence rising up against the ruler will cause sedition [fitnah], chaos, anarchy and bloodshed among the Muslims.

Therefore, they say it is not permissible to rise against any ruler. Rather, it is forbidden [haram].

Dr. Muhammad Faruq Nahban says, “… the majority of Sunnis believe that it is not permissible to rise up against a corrupt and oppressive ruler

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1- Ibid., hadith 55; Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Fitan, hadith 6530.
2- Ibid., hadith 56.
3- Ibid., hadith 58.

because this will lead to sedition [fitnah] and much bloodshed…”(1)

Incongruities in this argument

A. Response regarding traditions


The belief that it is obligatory [wajib] to obey and follow the caliph and sultan, even if he is corrupt and oppressive, and that rising up against him is forbidden [haram], has a lot of faults and weaknesses according to Islamic thought.

We will now mention some of those faults:

1. Opposition with the explicit wording of the Holy Qur’an

It can be understood from Qur’anic verses that the Imamate and caliphate are not bestowed upon or granted to oppressive and corrupt people, and that if the ruler is a corrupt man, it is not at all permissible to obey him.

a. “And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust: said He.”(2)

﴿ وَإِذِ ابْتَلَی إِبْرَاهِیمَ رَبُّهُ بِکَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ قَالَ إِنِّی جَاعِلُکَ لِنَّاسِ إِمَاماً قَالَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّیتِی قَالَ لا ینَالُ عَهْدِی الظَّالِمِینَ ﴾

b. “Say: Is there any of your associates who guides to the truth? Say: Allah guides to the truth. Is He then who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?”(3)

﴿ ... أَفَمَنْ یَهْدِی إِلَی الحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَنْ یُتَّبَعَ أَمَّنْ لاَ یَهِدِّی إِلاَّ أَنْ یُهْدَی فَمَا لَکُمْ کَیْفَ تَحْکُمُونَ ﴾

It can be deduced from this verse that a person who does not guide towards the truth of Allah is not worthy

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1- Nizam al-Hukm fi al-Islam, p. 527.
2- Surat al-Baqarah 2:124.
3- Surat Yunus 10:35.

of being followed and obeyed.

c. Some Qur’anic verses have said that submission and inclination towards oppressors will make man taste the fire of Hell. One verse says,

﴿ وَلا تَرْکَنُوا إِلَی الَّذِینَ ظَلَمُوا فَتَمَسَّکُمُ النَّارُ ... ﴾

“And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire touch you…”(1)

d. The Holy Qur’an has called a ruler who does not rule and judge according to what Allah has revealed to be an unbeliever [kafir]. It says,

﴿ ... وَمَنْ لَمْ یحْکُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللهُ فَأُولَئِکَ هُمُ الْکَافِرُونَ ﴾

“… and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the kafirs.”(2)

All Muslims agree that obeying and following an unbeliever is not permissible.

2. These hadiths are opposed to Qur’anic verses which prove that it is forbidden to follow and obey sinners

There are a lot of verses in the Holy Qur’an which have unconditionally and generally (in such a way that no limitations are mentioned) forbidden obeying anyone who is well-known for sin, regardless of whether he is a caliph, sultan and imam or otherwise.

a. Allah, the Exalted says,

﴿ فَلا تُطِعِ المُکَذِّبِینَ ﴾

“So do not yield to the rejecters.”(3)

b. “And yield not to any mean swearer.”(4)

﴿ وَلاَ تُطِعْ کُلَّ حَلّاَّفٍ مَهِینٍ ﴾

c. “And be not compliant to the unbelievers and the hypocrites.”(5)

﴿ وَلاَ تُطِعِ الکَافِرِینَ وَالمُنَافِقِینَ ... ﴾

d. “And do not obey the bidding of the extravagant.”(6)

﴿ وَلاَ تُطِیعُوا أَمْرَ المُسرِفِینَ * الَّذِینَ یفْسِدُونَ فِی الأَرْضِ وَلاَ یُصْلِحُونَ ﴾

e. “Therefore wait patiently for the command of your Lord, and obey not from among them a sinner or an ungrateful one.”(7)

﴿ فَاصْبِر لِحُکْمِ رَبِّکَ وَلاَ تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثمِاً أَوْ کَفُوراً

p: 336

1- Surat Hud 11:113.
2- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:44.
3- Surat al-Qalam 68:8.
4- Surat al-Qalam 68:10.
5- Surat al-Ahzab 33:48.
6- Surat al-Shu‘ara’ 26:151,152.
7- Surat Insan (or Jathiyah) 76:24.

f. “And do not follow him whose heart we have made unmindful to Our remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded.”(1)

﴿ ... وَلا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَنْ ذِکْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَکَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطاًَ ﴾

g. “On the day when their faces shall be turned back into the fire, they shall say: O would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Apostle! And they shall say: O our Lord! Surely we obeyed our leaders and our great men, so they led us astray from the path; O our Lord! Give them a double punishment and curse them with a great curse.”(2)

﴿ یومَ تُقَلَّبُ وُجُوهُهُمْ فِی النَّارِ یقُولُونَ یا لَیْتَنَا أَطَعْنَا اللهِ وَأَطَعْنَا الرَّسُولا * وَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّا أَطَعْنَا سَادَتَنَا وَکُبَرَاءَنَا فَأَضَلُّونَا السَّبِیلا * رَبَّنَا آتِهِمْ ضِعْفَیْنِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ وَالْعَنْهُمْ لَعْناً کَبِیراً ﴾

h. “And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire touch you, and you have no guardians besides Allah, then you shall not be helped.”(3)

﴿ وَلاَ تَرْکَنُوا إِلَی الَّذِینَ ظَلَمُوا فَتَمَسَّکُمُ النَّارُ ... ﴾

3. These hadiths are opposed to the Qur’anic verses which prove that enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is incumbent upon Muslims

In the Holy Qur’an, Allah, the Exalted, has ordered people in general or specific ways that they should enjoin the good and forbid the evil. This generality covers all people from all walks of life, the rulers and the ruled alike. Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil [amr bi’l-ma‘ruf wa nahy ‘an al-munkar] takes various forms, among them:

Allah, the Exalted, says,

﴿ وَلتَکُنْ مِنْکُمْ أُمَّهٌ یَدْعُونَ إِلَی الخَیْرِ وَیَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعرُوفِ وَیَنْهَونَ عَنِ

p: 337

1- Surat al-Kahf 18:28.
2- Surat al-Ahzab 33:66-68.
3- Surat Hud 11:113.

المُنْکَرِ وَأُولئِکَ هُمُ المُفْلِحُونَ ﴾

“And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these it is that shall be successful.”(1)

And, He also says,

﴿ کُنْتُمْ خَیْرَ أُمَّهٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ المُنْکَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللهِ ... ﴾

“You are the best of nations raised up for the benefit of mankind; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah...”(2)

And He also says,

﴿ لُعِنَ الَّذینَ کَفَرُوا مِنْ بَنی إِسْرائیلَ عَلی لِسانِ داوُدَ وَعیسَی ابْنِ مَرْیَمَ ذلِکَ بِما عَصَوا وَکانُوا یَعْتَدُونَ * کانُوا لا یَتَناهَونَ عَنْ مُنْکَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ لَبِئْسَ ما کانُوا یَفْعَلُونَ ﴾

“Those who disbelieved from among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary; this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit. They used not to forbid each other the hateful things they did; certainly evil was that which they did.”(3)

4. These hadiths are opposed to other hadiths narrated by the Sunnis themselves

This belief is opposed to another set of hadiths which have been recounted in Sunni sources. This other set of hadiths forbids following a corrupt and perverted ruler.

It also must be taken into account that:

Firstly, every hadith must be compared with the Holy Qur’an; if it is opposed with the verses of the Holy Qur’an, it cannot be considered authentic because all Muslims believe the Holy Qur’an to be completely authentic and unchanged.

In addition, from the previous section we can see that the hadiths which say that it is incumbent to

p: 338

1- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:104.
2- Surat Al ‘Imran 3:110.
3- Surat al-Ma’idah 5:78-79.

obey a corrupt ruler are opposed to the verses of the Holy Qur’an; therefore, they are not acceptable.

Secondly, there is obvious contradiction and disagreement between hadiths which prohibit following a corrupt ruler and those which say that it is incumbent to follow the Muslim ruler whether he is corrupt or not. In accordance with the law of incongruity, the final judge is Allah’s Book, the Holy Qur’an.

When faced with such a dilemma as having discrepancies in the wordings of hadiths, we act upon those hadiths which are in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and reject those hadiths which disagree with the Book of Allah. In this case, it means we must follow the hadiths which have forbidden obeying and following a corrupt ruler.

Thirdly, if there are no contradictions between hadiths and hence there is no seeming need to refer to the Holy Qur’an, we still must suspend all the hadiths and only refer to the general verses of the Holy Qur’an if they prohibit obeying a corrupt leader.

We will now mention a few hadiths which have been recounted in Sunni sources of hadith prohibiting obedience to a corrupt leader.

a. Allah’s Prophet (S) said, “The spinning wheel of Islam is soon to roll. Wherever the Holy Qur’an is, you must revolve around it. A day shall come when sultans and the Holy Qur’an will be separated from each other. With all certainty, soon it will come to pass that kings will rule over you.

They will judge for themselves in

p: 339

one way and for others in another way. If you obey them, they will mislead you. If you do not follow them they will kill you.” The people asked, “O Prophet of Allah! What should we do if we experience that period?” The Noble Prophet (S) said, “You should be like Jesus’ followers, whose bodies were cut to pieces or they were hung to death, but they never followed the corrupt rulers. Death in the way of obedience to Allah is better than life in sin.”(1)

b. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar says, “Allah’s Prophet (S) said, ‘It is incumbent upon every Muslim man to follow his caliph in things he likes and things he dislikes, except when he is ordered to sin. In this case, obeying the caliph is not permissible’.”(2)

c. ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud says, “Allah’s Prophet (S) said, ‘Soon it will come to pass after me that custodians who will extinguish the sunnah and act according to their own innovations will take charge of your affairs.

They will delay the prayers from being said at their right times.’ I asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! What should I do if I experience that period?’ He said, ‘Are you asking me what you ought to do, O son of Umm ‘Abd!? A person who commits sins against Allah is not supposed to be followed or obeyed’.”(3)

5. These hadiths are opposed to hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

a. In interpreting the Qur’anic verse,

﴿ لاَ ینَالُ عَهْدِی الظَّالِمِینَ ﴾

“My covenant does not include the unjust: said He.”(4)

Suyuti quotes ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) saying,

p: 340

1- Durr al-Manthur, vol. 3, p. 125; Similar hadith in: Kanz al-‘Ummal, hadith 1081.
2- Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Ahkam, Bab al-Sam‘ wa al-Ta‘ah, vol. 3.
3- Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 2, p. 956; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 400.
4- Surat al-Baqarah 2:124.

“Obedience is only in good and virtuous acts.”

b. Tabari and other historians narrate that while Imam al-Husayn (as) was on his way towards Kufah, he stopped at Baydah’s house. There, he addressed the people in this way, “O People! Allah’s Prophet (S) said, ‘Any person who sees an oppressive sultan making illegal that which is lawful [halal], breaking Allah’s covenant, opposing the sunnah of Allah’s Prophet (S), conducting himself in a sinful and tyrannical way among Allah’s servants (the people) and does not speak out against such a sultan in order to bring about change; it becomes binding upon Allah to throw this apathetic person where he belongs, in Hell’.”(1)

c. Tabari and other historians narrate that in his reply to the letter which the people had written to him, al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) wrote, “I swear upon my own soul! No one is an imam, unless he acts according to the Book of Allah, and is equitable and just. He does what is right, and restrains his passions for the sake of Allah.”(2)

d. Tabari and other historians have also narrated that al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) addressed Walid in this way, “O Amir! We are the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet, the abode of the prophetic mission, the place of frequentation of the angels, and the place of divine revelation. It is through us that Allah begins and ends things. Yazid is a drinker of wine and a killer of innocent people. He publicly commits sins and immorality; a person

p: 341

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 7, p. 300; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 280; Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 3, p. 171.
2- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 7, p. 235; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 267.

such as I cannot pay allegiance to him.”(1)

Who is Imam al-Husayn (as)?

Imam al-Husayn (as) is a person who, according to the explicit wording of the Qur’anic Verse of Purification [ayah al-tathir], is infallible [ma‘sum]. Allah’s Prophet (S) said this about him,

«الحسن والحسین سیدا شباب اهل الجنه.»

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two leaders of the youths of Paradise.”(2)

The Holy Prophet (S) also said,

«حسین منّی وأنا من حسین.»

“Al-Husayn is from me and I am from al-Husayn.”(3)

Elsewhere, he said,

«خیر رجالکم علی بن أبی طالب، وخیر شبابکم الحسن والحسین، وخیر نساءکم فاطمه بنت محمد.»

“The best man among you is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. The best youths among you are al-Hasan and al-Husayn. The best woman among you is Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad.”(4)

Ibn ‘Abbas says, “The Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘On the night that I went on the ascension [mi‘raj], I saw it written in heaven,

«لا إله إلاّ الله، محمّد رسول الله، علی حبّ (حبیب) الله، الحسن والحسین صفوه الله، فاطمه أمَه الله (خیره الله)، علی باغضهم لعنه الله.»

“There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is his Prophet, ‘Ali is Allah’s beloved, al-Hasan and al-Husayn are Allah’s chosen ones and Fatimah is Allah’s servant. Allah’s curse and wrath be upon anyone who harbors hatred in their heart for them’.”(5)

The reality behind hadiths that permit obeying a corrupt ruler

The presence of so many hadiths (traditions) in Shi‘ah and Sunni books which forbid obeying a corrupt and perverted ruler points to the fact that the other set of hadiths, which contradict these hadiths and the Holy Qur’an and permit following a corrupt leader and forbid rising up against him,

p: 342

1- Tarikh Tabari, vol. 7, pp. 216-218; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 263.
2- Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, section [bab] Imam al-Husayn (as), p. 41.
3- Ibid., p. 80.
4- Ibid., p. 122.
5- Ibid., p. 130.

are all fabrications.

These hadiths were forged by the dynasties of Bani Umayyah and Bani ‘Abbas for the sake of justifying their perverted and oppressive ways of conduct. They fabricated these hadiths in order to preserve the people’s loyalty to themselves and encourage the masses to follow the rulers’ orders no matter what the circumstances. They intended to prevent any kind of uprising against their dynasties by the people, so they were left with no option but to invent false hadiths.

It is regrettable that some scholars chose to record these forged hadiths in their books without considering their contents and comparing these sayings with the verses of the Holy Qur’an and other hadiths.

Unfortunately, as a result, some jurisprudents have issued religious edicts [fatwas] based on these fabricated hadiths that have caused great harm to the Muslim ummah. It must be borne in mind that if an enemy desires to forge a hadith, it is possible to fabricate chains of transmission which are ‘correct’.

B. Response to the false claim that it is binding upon all Muslims to preserve the system

That which can be inferred from the reasons put forward by those who oppose rising up against a corrupt and perverted caliph is that preserving political and social structures of the Muslims is binding and incumbent [wajib]. However, it has to be borne in mind that preserving any kind of power structure is not wajib.

The only political system that must be preserved is an Islamic government whose leader is just and acts according to Allah’s orders as noted in Qur’anic verses. This kind of government and

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its ruler must be preserved. There is no reason to oppose such a government. However, if the political system rules ‘in the name of Islam’ but its leaders are corrupt and perverted, then preserving such a power structure is not wajib at all.

On the contrary, an uprising must take place in order to establish an Islamic political system and exterminate a corrupt and oppressive political system. That is exactly what Imam al-Husayn (as) did: he rose up against the corrupt and oppressive political system of Yazid, the son of Mu‘awiyah, and kept true Islam alive.

Why did Imam al-Hasan (as) Make Peace while Imam al-Husayn (as) Rose up in Arms?


The issue of the peace treaty of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) with Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan is one of the subjects about which there is controversy and differing opinions among historians.

Some historians have accused Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) of being unworthy and say that Imam al-Hasan (as) was not fit for the caliphate and Imamate. Some even believe that the Holy Imam (as) did not possess enough strength and fortitude to handle the responsibilities of government affairs.

Other historians say that Imam al-Hasan (as), just like his father, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), had the capability for the caliphate, but sensitive circumstances which prevailed during his time demanded that he should make peace. In other words, Imam al-Hasan (as) was forced to make peace and avoid war.

In this topic, we intend to give a clear explanation and description of the events that led to Imam al-Hasan’s (as) peace agreement with the people of

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Imam ‘Ali’s (as) reproach of the people of Kufah

In order for us to understand the conditions of the people of Kufah, the people who pledged allegiance with Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as), it is important to refer to Imam ‘Ali’s (as) words about them, because he lived with them for many years and was their leader.

1. Addressing the people of Kufah, Imam ‘Ali (as) said,

«الحمد لله علی ما قضی من أمر، وقدّر من فعل، وعلی ابتلائی بکم أیتها الفرقه التی اذا امرتُ لم تطع، واذا دعوت لم تُجب...»

“I praise Allah for what He willed and destined. And I praise Him for my entanglement in the troubles created for me by you, the people of Kufah. O people! You who did not follow any of the orders which I gave! Whenever I called out to you, you did not respond positively…”(1)

2. Elsewhere, Imam ‘Ali (as) says,

«... لقد کنت أمس أمیراً فاصبحتُ الیوم مأموراً، وکنت أمس ناهیاً فأصبحت الیوم منهیّاً، وقد أحببتم البقاء ولیس لی أن أحملکم علی ما تکرهون...»

“Until yesterday, I was a leader and commander, but today I am the one who is being commanded. Until yesterday, I was the one preventing people from acting in certain ways, but today I am the one who is being prevented. You love staying alive. I cannot force you take a path which you do not like…”(2)

3. After hearing the news that Busr ibn Artat had conqurred Yemen for Mu‘awiyah and become Mu‘awiyah’s representative and official in that land, Imam ‘Ali (as) went on the pulpit and, while complaining about his companions’

p: 345

1- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 10, p. 67.
2- Ibid., vol. 11. p. 29.

shortcomings and opposition, addressed the people in this way,

«... انبئت بسراً قد اطلع الیمن وانّی والله لأظنّ انّ هولاء القوم سیدالون منکم باجتماعهم علی باطلهم وتفرّقکم عن حقّکم وبمعصیتکم امامکم فی الحقّ وطاعتهم امامهم فی الباطل، وبأدائهم الی صاحبهم وخیانتکم، وبصلاحهم فی بلادهم وفسادکم، فلو ائتمنت احدکم علی قعب لخشیت ان یذهب بعلاقته، اللّهم انّی قد مللتهم وملّونی وسئمتهم وسئمونی، فابدلنی بهم خیراًً منهم، وأبدلهم بی شرّاً منّی...»

“News has reached me that Busr ibn Artat has gained predominance over Yemen. I swear upon Allah! I knew that very soon the people of Sham were going to prevail over you because they are united in their support of that which is wrong while you are disunited in defending that which is right. You have disobeyed your Imam every time he ordered you to do what was right, while they have obeyed their leader when he ordered them to commit what was wrong.

They are loyal to their leader while you are treacherous! They are busy trying to build and improve their cities, while you are busy corrupting and destroying yours. You have sunk so low in corruption that I fear to entrust a wooden water carrier to anyone of you because you might steal its leather cord.

O my Lord! I have made these people tired with my incessant advice and counsel, and they too have made me tired with their unceasing disobedience. They have lost their patience with me, and I have lost my patience with them, too. I am heartbroken.

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O my Lord! Change these people for me with better ones, and change me for them with a worse one…”(1)

4. When he was inviting the people to move towards Sham, he said,

«أفٍّ لکم لقد سئمت عتابکم، أرضیتم بالحیوه الدنیا من الآخره عوضاً، وبالذلّ من العزّ خلفاً، اذا دعوتکم الی جهاد عدوّکم دارت أعینکم کأنّکم من الموت فی غمره ومن الذهول فی سکره...»

“Damnation and curses be upon you O people of Kufah! I am tired of reproaching you. Do you prefer the transient life of this world over the everlasting one of the hereafter? Instead of self-respect and honor, have you chosen a life of misery and abjectness? I invite you to fight in jihad against the enemies, but your eyes are turning in circles because of fear. It seems that fear of death has hijacked your intellects. Like drunken people who have lost their minds, you are bewildered and disoriented…”(2)

We understand from these statements that Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) was displeased with the contravention of his soldiers and followers. These are the same people who would later pay allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (as) and choose him to be the one in charge of their affairs.

We will now summarize some of the negative circumstances and conditions that existed at the time:

a. A spirit of despotism, mutiny and freedom-seeking existed among the people.

b. Both Imam ‘Ali (as) and his soldiers were tired and impatient of each other.

c. Some of Imam ‘Ali’s soldiers were inclined towards the government of Sham (the

p: 347

1- Ibid., vol. 1, p. 332.
2- Ibid., vol. 2, p. 189.

government of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan) because of hatred and animosity that they held against Imam ‘Ali (as).

d. The presence of the Khawarij among Imam ‘Ali’s (as) soldiers was another negative factor because they had taken steps that were to the detriment of the Islamic army.

Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) inherited such an army; an army that had behaved treacherously with his father. In such sensitive times, what else could Imam al-Hasan (as) have done?

How was he supposed to handle both the irresolution of his own soldiers and the open enemy under the leadership of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan? Under such circumstances, can it be said that Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) accepted truce and signed an armistice because of negligence of duty or was it because of lack of loyal and obedient followers?

It is clear that Imam al-Hasan (as) was compelled by the circumstances which prevailed at the time to make peace.

Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army


Imam al-Hasan (as) ascended to the leadership of Kufah at a time when Mu‘awiyah was planning to mount a decisive war against the Imam and bring about a final conquest of Kufah.

In some of his letters to his governors and appointed stooges, Mu‘awiyah wrote, “Some of the people of Kufah have written to me asking me for their protection and the protection of their near ones.”(1)

At the same time, Imam al-Hasan (as) was calling on the people of Kufah to go to war and confront the army of Sham. However, Imam al-Hasan’s (as) soldiers and followers consisted of people

p: 348

1- Ibid., vol. 16, p. 38.

with various beliefs that can be divided into a number of groups:

1. The Khawarij

They were the same people who mutinied against Imam ‘Ali (as) and went to war with him.

2. Those inclined to the government of Bani Umayyah

Such people were present among the soldiers of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as), and can be divided into two groups:

a. Those who did not attain to their earthly desires and aspirations by remaining loyal to the government of Kufah, so they set their covetous eyes on the government of Sham under the leadership of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan,

b. Those who were opposed to Imam ‘Ali (as) and held grudges against Imam al-Hasan’s (as) father.

3. The bigoted and prejudiced

This group consisted of people who were drowned in clan and tribal prejudice, and it was for this reason that they joined the army of Imam al-Hasan (as) rather than for Islamic goals.

4. Those that lacked any objective or purpose

Another group of people who took part in Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army were those who lacked any aim or purpose in life. In other words, they joined Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army just because they saw other people enlisting.

5. The sincere and faithful


There was one sincere group among the followers of Imam al-Hasan (as). This group recognized and acknowledged the rightful status of Imam al-Hasan (as). They followed his orders without complaint or misgiving.

These were the real Shi‘ahs who were religious and devoted to their Imam (as). They were ready to sacrifice their lives for Allah following Imam al-Hasan’s (as) orders. These were, however, outnumbered by the other irresolute groups.

Awareness about the circumstances which prevailed

Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) was aware of the sensitivity of the circumstances; he knew

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that the large numbers of Mu‘awiyah’s army and their sacrifices for him for worldly gain were apt to vanquish the Imam’s small and disloyal army. At the same time, Mu‘awiyah was aware of the weak points of Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army and how to infiltrate it.

That is why Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan suggested the peace plan to Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as); the aim was to weaken the spirit of the Imam’s (as) army right from the start so as to reduce their enthusiasm.

Because Imam al-Hasan (as) was also well-aware of Mu‘awiyah’s deceit and previous tricks, he initially sent an army of twelve thousand soldiers under the command of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas to confront Mu‘awiyah’s army. Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army encountered Mu‘awiyah’s army at a place called “Maskan”.

The Imam (as) was aware of signs of sedition which had begun to appear inside his own army as a result of Mu‘awiyah’s stratagems to attract his soldiers’ attention by sending spies to create conspiracies inside Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army by bribing the soldiers.

For the sake of weakening the spirit of Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army, some people started spreading false rumors and hearsay that the Imam (as) had accepted Mu‘awiyah’s suggestion for peace. They cynically asked, “Why then should we fight against Mu‘awiyah’s army?”(1)

Turmoil and confusion arose inside Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army. Signs of division began to appear. Some confirmed as true the news that Imam al-Hasan (as) had accepted peace while others dismissed the news as false.

Finally, through various

p: 350

1- Ibid., p. 42.

intrigues and the payment of great sums of money, and by issuing threats, Mu‘awiyah was able to corrupt the aides and commanders of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as).

In his letter to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, Mu‘awiyah wrote, “Al-Hasan has written a letter to me suggesting peace. He has entrusted the caliphate to me. If you become one of my followers, I will appoint you to be a governor. If you do not follow me, you will remain an ordinary person.” Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan sent this letter together with a million dirhams for ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas.(1)

In his wars against his enemies, Mu‘awiyah always knew the weak points of his enemies and penetrated them from there.

When ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas thought about the situation, he accepted Mu‘awiyah’s invitation and joined Mu‘awiyah’s army by night. When morning arose, Imam al-Hasan’s (as) army found themselves without a leader and commander. Imam al-Hasan (as) appointed another commander from the tribe of Kindah.

He sent him with four thousand additional soldiers to combat and encounter the army of Mu‘awiyah. When they reached a place called “al-Anbar”, Mu‘awiyah sent five hundred thousand dirhams for this new leader and promised him the governorship of certain cities under Mu‘awiyah’s rule. This new commander too defected and joined Mu‘awiyah’s army together with two hundred people from his clan.

Imam al-Hasan (as) appointed a third commander from the tribe of Murad to go and lead the army into war against Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. He, too, acted treacherously and defected like

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1- Ibid.

the previous commanders and joined Mu‘awiyah’s side. He did this after ferverntly swearing before Imam al-Hasan (as) that he was not going to be deceived by Mu‘awiyah’s tricks. Nevertheless, he was seduced by Mu‘awiyah and he, too, betrayed Imam al-Hasan (as).(1)

Imam al-Hasan (as) made a very firm stand and insisted on fighting against Mu‘awiyah, but he knew at the same time that this was not going to end in the best interests of Islam and the Muslims. He could foresee that a continuation of such a state of affairs was going to end in self-slaughter and suicide for Bani Hashim and the few dedicated Shi‘ahs he had. He had the duty to protect Islam and the Muslims.

In order to test and prove the weaknesses of his own army, Imam al-Hasan (as) made a speech in which he said, “Beware! Mu‘awiyah has invited us to something which is devoid of glory and equity. If you have made up your minds to die, then let us encounter him with the sword and apply Allah’s law on him. However, if you prefer to stay alive, I will agree and make peace with him for your sake and good pleasure.”(2)

The people shouted from all corners that they preferred life. They called out, “Sign the peace agreement!”

It was after making this speech that Imam al-Hasan (as) knew the real intentions of his army and found them to be weak in spirit. A majority of them preferred a peaceful life to fighting against Mu‘awiyah.

Conditions of the peace treaty

Mu‘awiyah took advantage

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1- A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 4, p. 22.
2- Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 204.

of this opportunity. He sent a letter to Imam al-Hasan (as) in which he proposed peace. He said Imam al-Hasan (as) was free to demand any conditions for himself, his Ahl al-Bayt (as) and his Shi‘ahs.

In his reply, Imam al-Hasan (as) inserted demands and asked Mu‘awiyah to act according to his promises. On the surface, Mu‘awiyah accepted whatever demands Imam al-Hasan (as) made, though deep inside he did not believe in any one of the conditions. Actually, he planned to deliberately undermine all these conditions when the right opportunity arose.

Imam al-Hasan’s (as) conditions were as follows:

1. Entrusting the caliphate to Mu‘awiyah on the condition that he would act according to Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s (S) sunnah.

2. The caliphate should be handed over to Imam al-Hasan (as) after the death of Mu‘awiyah, and in case of Imam al-Hasan’s (as) death, the caliphate should be entrusted to his brother Imam al-Husayn (as). Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan agreed not to hand the caliphate over to anyone else.

3. Mu‘awiyah agreed to stop cursing and vilifying Imam ‘Ali (as). He agreed to stop insulting Imam ‘Ali (as) in the supplications he offered at the time of prayers. He even agreed to remind himself and the people about the good works and excellent virtues of Imam ‘Ali (as).

4. Mu‘awiyah agreed not to claim the money belonging to the public treasury of Kufah. (This money amounted to five thousand dirhams.) In addition to that, Mu‘awiyah agreed to send one million dirhams every year to Imam al-Husayn

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(as). He recognized the tribe of Bani Hashim to have higher family ties with him than tribe of Bani Shams. Mu‘awiyah had to share and divide a million dirhams among the children of the people who were martyred in the wars of Jamal and Siffin when he fought against Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

5. All Muslims in all corners of the Muslim World, whether in Sham, Iraq, Hijaz or Yemen, would be able to live in peace and enjoy safety. All races and sects would be able to live in safety and no one should follow up on old grudges and seek retribution from the other.

Imam ‘Ali’s (as) companions were guaranteed to live in peace and safety wherever they might be, and no trouble should be made for his Shi‘ahs. Their lives, property, children and women would be left in peace and security and none of them should be persecuted or attacked. Every one of their rights should be observed and respected.

None of their rights should be abused… and never should any aggression, whether openly or secretly, be carried out on Imam al-Hasan (as), Imam al-Husayn (as) and anyone of the Prophets’s (S) Ahl al-Bayt (as). None of them should be terrorized no matter where they live.

These were some of the conditions which Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) inserted in the peace treaty. If we carefully ponder the conditions which Imam al-Hasan (as) demanded, we realize that he never planned to affirm or stabilize Mu‘awiyah’s caliphate. On the

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contrary, these conditions were against the interests of Mu‘awiyah. Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) was only trying to buy time to his own advantage.(1)

Two opposing circumstances

Some people, because they lack sufficient knowledge about the position and status of an imam, have endeavored to portray Imam al-Husayn (as) as higher in status than Imam al-Hasan (as).

The reason they put forward is that Imam al-Husayn (as) fought the enemies of Allah with very few companions until they all attained martyrdom while Imam al-Hasan (as) chose the way of peace and compromise. However, this belief is a result of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the Imam and his infallibility, because:

Firstly, we believe that the duty of every one of the Imams was previously planned and determined, and was foretold by the Holy Prophet (S). In addition, each of them has executed all the duties they were charged with in the best interests of the Muslims and for the expedience of Islam.

Secondly, with careful consideration of the circumstances of these two Infallible Imams, the decision made by each of them was correct and reasonable (in the interests of Islam and the Muslims). The treachery of the people of Kufah was such that they prepared the ground for Imam al-Husayn’s (as) apparent victory and invited him to come with his family and entire household to Iraq, while they had never done such a thing for Imam al-Hasan (as).

Thirdly, it has to be borne in mind that Imam al-Hasan’s (as) soldiers broke their allegiance after promising loyalty

p: 355

1- Al-Nasayih al-Kafiyah, pp. 156-157; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 6, pp. 92-97; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 166; Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 26; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, pp. 8, 15; A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 4, p. 43; Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 194; Tarikh Ibn Kathir, vol. 8, p. 41; Al-Isabah, vol. 2, p. 12; ‘Umdah al-Talib, p. 52.

but the people of Kufah during the time of Imam al-Husayn (as), even though they had invited him in order to pay their allegiance to him, started opposing one another before actually paying their allegiance and going to war. It is for this reason that Imam al-Hasan’s (as) soldiers are considered more treacherous than the people of Kufah during the time of Imam al-Husayn (as).

Imam al-Hasan (as) did not have as many loyal people in his army as Imam al-Husayn (as), so it was practically impossible to fight any war against the enemy.

Fourthly, when we consider the ways and stratagems of the enemies of these two Imams in their different times of Imamate, we realize that Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as) faced two different kinds of enemies. These two different kinds of enemies needed to be confronted with two different strategies, one was to make peace and the other was to fight with the sword until martyrdom was attained.

The enemy facing Imam al-Hasan (as) was Mu‘awiyah, and the enemy facing Imam al-Husayn (as) was Yazid, the son of Mu‘awiyah. These two false caliphs had two different ways of life and handling affairs.

Even though Mu‘awiyah was a trickster and a perverted man who did not waste any resources to annihilate the basic teachings of Islam, he nonetheless apparently followed the laws of Islam to some extent. However, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was not only an enemy of Islam in his inner being, but also showed his enmity and hatred

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of Islam and Allah’s Prophet (S) publicly.

He did not observe or respect any one of the revered orders of Islam. Although Mu‘awiyah apparently showed some respect to Bani Hashim, Yazid did not show any kind of respect for them.

It is for this reason that that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«الحسن والحسین امامان قاما او قعداً.»

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are imams, whether they make peace or rise up.”(1)

Therefore, we believe that if Imam al-Husayn (as) was in Imam al-Hasan’s (as) position, he would do exactly the same thing which Imam al-Hasan (as) did. And if Imam al-Hasan (as) was in Imam al-Husayn’s (as) position, he too would do what Imam al-Husayn (as) did.

The reason is that they both were sharp at analyzing the times in which they lived and were aware about their circumstances. Whatever decisions they made were for the best interests and expedience of Islam and the Muslims.

What is the Ruling Regarding the Fast of ‘Ashura?


There are deep and intense divisions among jurisprudents about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. Some jurisprudents believe that it is highly recommended to fast on the day of ‘Ashura. Others say it is prohibited [haram] to fast on the day of ‘Ashura and some believe that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura is disapproved but not absolutely prohibited.

There are also other questions related to this issue. For example, has the fast of ‘Ashura been enacted or legalized for the sake of appeasing and being in agreement with the Jews? Was it enacted before the fast of the

p: 357

1- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Munaqib, vol. 3, p. 394; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 43, p. 291, hadith 54.

holy month of Ramadan and later suspended when the fast of Ramadan was enacted?

Did the Holy Prophet (S) and the Ahl al-Bayt (as) ever fast on the day of ‘Ashura? Did Bani Umayyah put emphasis on this fast to show their happiness and pleasure? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in this chapter.

Enacting and enforcing the fast of ‘Ashura before the fast of the holy month of Ramadan

Jurisprudents differ in their opinions about whether the judgement of the fast of the day of ‘Ashura was enacted before the Qur’anic verse which enacted the fast of the holy month of Ramadan and whether it was obligatory [wajib] to fast on that day or not.

According to certain opinions put forth by some Shi‘ah scholars and the purport of some Islamic traditions, the first possibility is that it was wajib to fast on the day of ‘Ashura before the Qur’anic verse enacting the fast of the holy month of Ramadan was revealed. Also, some Sunnis, among them Abu HHanifah, believe that it was wajib to fast on the day of ‘Ashura.

The Shafi‘i sect apparently believe that it was not wajib to fast on the day of ‘Ashura. Two opinions have been quoted from Shafi‘i and two hadiths have been quoted by Ahmad. We will now mention some of the opinions expressed by jurisprudents belonging to different sects.

Opinions put forth by Shi‘ah scholars

1. The renowned researcher Muhaqqiq Qummi says, “What can be deduced from the wording of hadiths is that apparently the fast of the day of ‘Ashura was enacted before the fast of Ramadan and was later

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2. Sayyid ‘Amili writes, “There are a lot of differing opinions about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. Was it wajib or was it not? That which has been recorded in our hadiths is that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura was wajib before the enactment of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. Among the people who narrated these hadiths are Zurarah and Muhammad ibn Muslim.”(2)

3. Allamah Majlisi relates from the book, “Al-Muntaqi” that in the first year of migration to Medina, Allah’s Prophet (S) fasted on ‘Ashura and the other people followed suit.”(3)

Upon study of the sayings of the Shi‘ah scholars, we infer that they have not put forward a definite opinion about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. They have contented themselves with narrating the differences which exist among the scholars and in hadiths. Only the renowned researcher Muhaqqiq Qummi has cited hadiths that apparently indicate the necessity of fasting on this day.

The opinions of Sunni jurisprudents

1. Qadi ‘Ayni says, “They have differed about the judgement of fasting during the early days of Islam. Abu Hanifah has said that it was wajib to fast on the day of ‘Ashura in the past. Shafi‘i’s companions have given two opinions: the most famous opinion is that it was highly recommended [mustahabb-e mu’akkad] right from the beginning of Islam and Islamic law and never has it been wajib for the Islamic ummah.

After the revelation of the Qur’anic verse enacting the fast of Ramadan, it remained mustahabb, but lost the recommendation and emphasis it

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1- Ghana’im al-Ayyam, vol. 6, p. 78.
2- Madarik al-Ahkam, vol. 6, p. 268.
3- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 19, p. 130.

enjoyed before. The second opinion of Shafi‘i’s companions is similar to that of Abu Hanifah.

‘Ayad has said that some predecessors used to believe that this fast was wajib and remained wajib without any abrogation even after the verse enacting the fast of Ramadan, but supporters of this opinion have been weakened and vanquished and hence common consensus is that this fast is not wajib, and they maintain that it is mustahabb.”(1)

2. Ibn Qudamah says, “There are differing opinions about the fast of the day of ‘Ashura as to whether it was wajib or not. Qadi says that it was wajib and this is as a result of religious deduction and conclusion. He has deduced this using two rationales. It has also been quoted from Ahmad ibn Hanbal that the fast of the day of ‘Ashura was wajib.”(2)

3. Kasani writes, “The fast of the day of ‘Ashura was wajib during those days.”(3)

4. ‘Asqalani says, “It can be deduced from the total sum of reported hadiths that this fast was wajib.” After this, he has listed six reasons to support and prove his claim.(4)

A critique of ‘Asqalani’s statements


Ibn Hajar writes, “In matters where Allah’s command and law had not yet been revealed, the Holy Prophet (S) preferred to follow the Jewish ways, especially in matters where the Jews were opposed to the ways of the idol-worshipers.”(5)


This claim is opposed to hadiths quoted from the Holy Prophet (S) because he said the following about opposing the Jews,

«صوموا عاشوراء وخالفوا فیه الیهود.»

“Fast on the day of ‘Ashura

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1- ‘Umdah al-Qari, vol. 11, p. 118.
2- Al-Mughni, vol. 3, p. 174.
3- Bada’i‘ al-Sana’i‘, vol. 2, p. 262.
4- Fath al-Bari, vol. 4, p. 290.
5- Ibid., p. 288.

and by doing so oppose the Jews.”(1)

Also, Ya‘la ibn Shaddad narrates that he heard from his father that Holy Prophet (S) said,

«صلّوا فی نعالکم وخالفوا الیهود.»

“Pray your prayers in your slippers and in this way oppose the Jews.”(2)

And it has been reported in another hadith that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

«لا تشبّهوا بالیهود.»

“Do not resemble the Jews in any way.”(3)

In light of the above traditions, it cannot be claimed that the fast of the day of ‘Ashura was enacted for the sake of imitating or resembling the Jews.

Jews and fasting on the day of ‘Ashura

When we study history, we come to know that the Jews organized their traditions around their own calendar. The Jews had their own months which did not coincide with the Islamic calendar. There is no logic in saying that they ‘fasted on the 10th of Muharram’, unless it could be proven that this date always coincided with the Jewish day of fast. Their fasting did not take place every year on the day of ‘Ashura and certainly not in the holy month of Muharram.

Apparently, the tradition of the Jews at the time of the Holy Prophet (S) was that on the 10th of the month of Tishri of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Jews observed a fast. They say God delivered Moses and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his forces on that day. It cannot be said, however, that Pharaoh was drowned on the day of ‘Ashura.

On the contrary, these events are said to have taken place on the 10th

p: 361

1- Al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 4, p. 475.
2- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 7, p. 290, hadith 7165; Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 1, p. 260.
3- Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, vol. 7, p. 290, hadith 7164.

of Tishri which does not correspond to the day of ‘Ashura. Therefore, that which has been said about the fast of ‘Ashura having its roots in Judaism and that it has been imported from the Jews is baseless and not founded on truth.

Abu Rayhan says, “Tishri lasts thirty days… and on the tenth day of that month, the Jews start their fast of Yom Kippur, which some call ‘Ashura. This fast carries more virtues for the Jews than the other fasts. That is why it is wajib.”(1)

Hasan ibn ‘Ali Saqqaf Shafi‘i says, “We do not find any evidence to prove that the Jews used to fast or hold a festival on the tenth of Muharram. There is no written historical evidence to suggest this. On the contrary, they used to fast on the tenth of Tishri.”(2)

He also says, “The Jews have their own special calendar which has very apparent differences with the Islamic calendar. This calendar begins with the month of Tishri, which is followed by the month of Heshvan, and ends with the twelfth month called Elul…

The number of days in a normal year is either 353 or 354 or 355 days. However, in a leap year, the number of days is either 383 or 384 or 385. And therefore, the calendar that is now observed by the Jews is such that the months are lunar but the years are solar.”(3)

About the Arab calendar that was used before the Islamic calendar came into effect, Mahmud Pasha Falaki says,

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1- Al-Athar al-Baqiyah, p. 277.
2- Al-Hadi Magazine, no. 2, p. 37.
3- Ibid., p. 36.

“It can be gathered and deduced from history that the Arab Jews also had ‘Ashura, but their ‘Ashura was on the tenth of Tishri which is the first month of their calendar according to Jewish civil law and the eighteenth month of their religious calendar. Also, the Jews follow a solar calendar.

Therefore, the day of ‘Ashura on which Pharaoh was drowned is not at all connected to Muharram. In addition to that, it was merely accidental that it coincided with the Holy Prophet’s (S) entry into Medina.”(1)

The verdict of fasting on the day of ‘Ashura

There is a number of hadiths that have mentioned the fast of ‘Ashura:

With recourse to Shi‘ah sources of hadiths, we come to know that it has been narrated in some hadiths that the one who quits this fast has to atone and expiate for his actions for up to one year. It has also been reported that the Holy Prophet (S) himself used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura, and strongly advised everyone, even children, to fast on that day.

This demonstrates and proves that the day of ‘Ashura and its fast are overflowing with heavenly blessings.(2)

In other reported hadiths, the opposite has been narrated; that is to say, the fasting on the day of ‘Ashura has been forbidden and is one of the prohibited actions. Some other hadiths say it is an act of innovation, and fasting on that day is not a part of the religion.

Others have gone so far as to say that the reward of fasting on

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1- Bustani, Da’irah al-Ma‘arif, vol. 11, p. 446.
2- Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 4, pp. 299 -300, hadith 895, 906-908; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 10, section [bab] 20.

the day of ‘Ashura is the fire of Hell. It has been reported in other hadiths that the Holy Prophet never used to fast on that day.

As regards the conduct of the Infallible Imams (as), it is important to mention that no hadith has reached us