Rafed English

Society and the production of Tyrants

Those societies produce tyrants where reformists are few and weak and therefore fail to discharge their duties, while mischief-makers are actively ferocious. And under such circumstances naturally the villains take over the country and rule the people. On this basis Rasulollah salla-llahualayhi- wa-aalih said, “You should enjoin good and prohibit abhorrent, otherwise Allah shall empower on you the evil amongst you, then you would pray (for this evil to be alleviated) but your prayers would not be answered.”

This is a logical and rational fact, since if the reformist is not proactive in his responsibilities and does not discharge his duties, society would degenerate and gradually turn into a pit of corruption, and under such circumstances who will come to power? Naturally of the wicked and the corrupt ...{however you are like, as such you will be ruled by} Then if a wicked and a tyrant came to power and ruled the country, and you pray to Allah that he is removed, will those facts and circumstances change by this prayer? Of course not, and in the above-mentioned hadith Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih is clarifying two natural or universal laws. The universal law of how the tyrants come to power, and the law that prayers (alone) do not remove the tyrants from power. Both are universal laws, and here Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih is not outlining a (specific) Islamic law for us, nor is he informing us from the unseen, but any sound thinking individual (and Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih is the master of wisdom and intellect) would realise that the society in which reformists fail to discharge their duties, eventually and naturally a tyrant would take over the country, and he would impose his will and his rule over the people. And if a tyrant comes to power, it is natural that he would not be deposed by prayers alone, but by action as well as prayers, for each has its own role to play.

Society of the Shaam province 17 before the Islamic conquest (around 620 CE) was highly influenced by Roman values, and the then Roman society was a corrupt and a decadent society, and perhaps these characteristics were some of the contributing factors to the fall of the Shaam province to the Muslim army that came from Arabia to introduce Islam to the people of the Shaam province. The victorious army headed back to Arabia after the apparent establishment of Islamic rule in the area. However since the Shaami society was influenced by those Roman values, and it had not adequately absorbed the teachings of Islam, it was ridden by ignorance and overwhelmed by corruption in its various forms; social, political, economical, moral and ethical, and therefore in such a society the corrupt had the upper hand and the reformists were a minority, if at all.

Mo’awiyah and his son Yazid were the by product of such corrupt society, as they did not absorb the teachings of Islam, nor did they learn the manners of Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih, like Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn alayhum-as-salam had done in the holy city of Medina, where the government of Islam was established, and personally led by Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih. Thus a society that has not adequately absorbed Islam and the effect of reform is still superficial, would easily be manipulated by the likes of Mo’awiyah, and through fear or deceit would fall back to its old traditions and beliefs, i.e. corrupt Roman values. Hence the like of Mo’awiyah and Yazid managed to take over and hold on to the office of government, through enticement and/or threat.

To reflect the situation above, a poet states in this famous poem, I do not know what happened to the Muslim men Or how Yazid happened to be the king amongst them How many (responsible) Muslims such as Abu Tharr al-Ghefari 18 were there in the Shaami society at the time of Mo’awiyah and Yazid?

Mo’awiyah was fearful of Abu Tharr alone, since the Shaami society did not know the Islamic laws and values, and the former was afraid that the latter would turn things against him by presenting the Teachings of Islam as taught by Rasulollah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih to the public.

It is like introducing Islam to a new city. Will that society be a deeply Islamic one? No. Only on the surface things may have changed, and when anyone comes along and falsely claims to know the way of Islam, they would follow him! And this is what Mo’awiyah claimed in the Shaami society.

A tyrant is born in a society, where the fundamental factor in nurturing him is the established corrupt social order of that society. In other words, whenever you see a tyrant is born in a country, you should know that there are fundamental factors for it, the first of which being the corrupt and decadent social proviso of that country.

On the other hand when a society is rich with reformist and responsible individuals, then it would be a field for growth of prosperity, reform and development, such that it would be impossible for a tyrant to be born in that environment.

The prophet showed the people the Islamic way {and what better is there than Allah’s way} [2: 138], and it is then up to them to adhere to those teachings in order to reach their targets.

Needless to say, by reformist we do not mean he who preaches to the people to enjoin good and refrain from evil in a small religious society, but by reformist we mean he who can change and transfer things and stand up to tyrants.


17. The Shaam province roughly covered today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, and its capital city was Damascus.

18. Abu Tharr al-Ghefari was one of the most prominent companions of Rasulollah sallallahu- alayhi-wa-aalih, and he was known for his sincerity and honesty. He also became known for his frank and brave criticism of wrong actions or policies, and for his standing up to tyrant and despots rulers of his time.

Adopted from the book : "Husayn; the Sacrifice for Mankind" by : "Imam Muhammad Shirazi"

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