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Imam Hussein’s revolt, the causes - Part 1

As we have already mentioned the invitation of the Kufans to Imam Hussein (A.S) to come to Kufa and set up an Islamic government there represented the third side [of the triangle] of causes of his revolt. The request of the Umayyad’s from the Imam that he endorsed Yezid’s appointment to the office of the caliphate epitomized the “defensive strategy”?.

However, as is known, the Imam consequently turned that request down, and set out to oppose the corrupt ruling establishment with all means at his disposal out of upholding the religious duty of “enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil”?. This ingredient, [or the third side of the triangle], should be dubbed “the attacking strategy”? of the Imam’s revolt.

Let us now dwell a while on those factors to examine which of them carried more weight than the others. It goes without saying that each of the three factors is different from the others in its cumulative value and importance to the revolt. That is, each of the contributory causes added, in its own right, a unique and significant dimension to the revolt.

For example, the Imam’s acceptance of the Kufans’ invitation to go to Kufa is as significant as the other two factors, and yet in accordance with their importance and impact on the [overall result] of the revolt. Among the factors is that which enhances the significance of a certain [reformist] movement. Similarly, the leader of the movement can influence that particular factor, by way of raising its profile.

The human being, for instance, is well aware of many things that he attaches importance to. For example, his appearance could be regarded as an asset; his coveting jewellery could be deemed another valuable experience. There are as well other material and abstract things which man would wish to acquire as they are considered exhibits of beauty. And no doubt, power and high profile, especially divine positions, are viewed by man as sources of pride, splendour and value. Even the external material appearances, which denote these added values, confer on man an added value.

To illustrate this, take a person who has put on the special garb of the clergy. Although, in itself, the attire is not indicative of the godliness of the one who wore it, in that it is not a criterion by which one can measure erudition of the wearer, nor the level of his piety, yet it can be seen as giving such an impression to the person putting on such garb. Likewise, the person who wears such clothes could earn the respect and regard of others.

By the same token, such attire becomes a source of pride for the person who is dressed up in it. The parable of this is the jewellery worn by women, in that how items of jewellery can adorn women and how the latter can derive satisfaction from and pride in wearing them.

The same comparison can be applied to revolutions, in that there may be factors that are capable of enhancing their richness and appeal. This is the result of the theoretical differences between one revolution and the other. Some are bereft of the moral dimension and characterized by bigotry, instead; others may be purely materialistic, giving them their distinctive features. And yet, if a revolution is characterized by the moral, human, and divine aspects, it should stand head and shoulders above all other revolutions.

Thus, all the three factors which contributed to the initiation of Imam Hussein’s revolt, gave it the significance it boasts, especially the third factor. Sometimes, a particular person with a particular significance in a particular uprising could add a new value to it, i.e. a special added value and significance. In as much as a certain factor adds a new value to the value of the person, he in return gives a boost to this value.

For example, the attire of a spiritual person (cleric) or a university professor could exude pride and aesthetic appearance to those who wear those uniforms. The opposite is also true, in that the person in those garbs is the source of pride and aestheticism due to their impeccable character, probity, and knowledge.

Sa’sa’a bin Sawhan was one of Imam Ali’s companions and a renowned and consummate orator; he was commended by the famous man of letters, al-Jahidh. When he wanted to congratulate the Imam on his election to the office of Caliphate, he said something to the Imam that was different from what all the other people said, thus, “O Ali! You adorned the caliphate with splendour.

You are the source of its pride. It granted you neither grandeur nor pride. The caliphate was in need of a person of your calibre, and yet you were not in need of its [allure]. I, therefore, congratulate the caliphate because your name has become synonymous with it; I do not applaud you because you have become the Caliph!”?

As a result, it can be said that the factor of “enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil”? had given Imam Hussein’s revolt an added significance. And by his, his family’s and companions’ ultimate sacrifice, the Imam has raised the profile of this institution.

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