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The Significant factor of the Revolution of Imam Hussain (A.S.)

The Significant factor of the Revolution of Imam Hussain (A.S.)
(By Ali Khalfan)

"You are the best of people raised up for the benefit of mankind. Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah..." (Qur'an, 3:110)

Ponder on the couching of this verse, especially with regard to the quality bestowed on “the best people”. That is, it is merely by virtue of their upholding the religious duty of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”, they have earned that sublime praise. So, the worth of this ummah (community) is in its upholding this obligation.

Abu 'Amr az-Zubayri narrates from as-Sadiq (a.s.) about the words of Allah: "You are the best people raised up for the benefit of mankind..." that he said (Allah) means the ummah (group nation) for which the prayer of Ibrahim (a.s.) was granted; and they are the people Allah raised (His Messenger) among them, and from them and to them; and they are the medium nation, and they are the best nation that has been raised up for the people." (Majma'u 'l-bayan; at-Tafsir al-Ayyashi)
In sharp contrast to this verse, Allah says:
"The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good and withhold their hands; they have forsaken Allah, so He has forsaken them; surely the hypocrites are the transgressors." (Qur'an 9:67)

Question: If Yazid had not demanded allegiance from Imam Husain for his caliphate and if the thousands of Muslims in Kufa had not invited the Imam to Kufa, would the revolution of Imam Husayn still take place?

When the Imam left Medina, he wrote a will and left it with his brother Mohammad bin al-Hanafiyah; among its contents was this statement, “I did not set out driven by arrogance, or recklessness, or a desire for spreading corruption, or injustice. All what I am intending is seeking to reform the community of my grandfather. ” This was the rationale behind the Imam’s movement. In another letter he wrote to bin al-Hanafiyah, the Imam mentioned about Yazid's demand from him to pledge allegiance but not a single reference about the invitation of the Kufans to set up a rival caliphate in Kufa.
The Imam, a man of great piety, had openly declared "A man like me (the grandson of the Prophet, pbuh) cannot bear allegiance to a man like Yazid." The connotation of this declaration is that being the grandson of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and a member of the medium nation mentioned in the Qur'an, and belonging to the best nation raised for the benefit of the people, possessing and discharging the duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil, he can never and will not endorse Yazid's succession to the caliphate. The Imam's position was forthright and clear.

There is no doubt that the Imam's rejection to the oppressive and repressive regime of Yazid and his Islamic duty to attend to the call of the Kufans to set up a caliphate in Kufa are some of the contributory factors that led to his revolution but the most significant is the factor which was his Islamic obligation and that of every believer to answer the call of Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) to enjoin good and forbid evil. In short, if Yazid had not demanded allegiance from Imam Hussain and if the Kufans had not invited him, the revolution would still have taken place. It is the promise of Allah in the Qur'an that the religion of Islam will eventually prevail over all religions and that the good will prevail over evil (9:36, 61:9) and this is an ongoing process.

Some people have over-exaggerated the factor of the Kufans' invitation so much so that they have given the impression that it was the most significant factor. Let us assume that the invitation of the Kufans was the over-riding factor for his revolt and we know that the Kufans did not keep their word. Would the Imam then give up his revolt and allow this factor to supersede the factor of his religious obligation to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong? A scholar has correctly written that the factor of the Kufans' invitation was not the most important; rather, it was the least important among the contributory factors that led to the Imam’s revolt. The Imam gave a sermon after Kufa fell to the Ummayyads in which he issued a clear message that he was acting in accordance with the obligation of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”, and that he was under no illusions that that was his prime motive for launching his revolt.

There is another point worth mentioning. If the Imam had not responded positively to the invitation from the Kufans, he would have been criticized for not fulfilling his duty to attend to the affairs of the Muslims and probably it was for this very same reason, the Imam accepted the invitation despite the fact that all indications were telling him that the Kufans were not ready and sincere in their intentions. There is an interesting narration in which it is mentioned that on the way to Kufa, the Imam met the famous poet, Farazdaq, who was on his way to Mecca and the Imam inquired about the conditions in Kufa. Farazdaq replied: "Their hearts are with you but their swords are (with the Ummayads) against you".

Since the Imam set out on his journey from Medina to Kerbala, he was always talking about death in dignity and honor, i.e. the death in the cause of right, truth, and justice. In his famous sermon in Mina, he told the people that death to him is akin to a beautiful necklace that adorns the neck of a young woman. In opposing and rejecting the usurper of the mantle of the khilafah, the Imam echoed to the whole world and for generations to come:

"I would rather die an honorable death than live a life of humiliation"

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