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

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"

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 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.31

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 Allah! He will kill the best of you and enslave the worst among you. Woe on he who is content with abjectness and disgrace!”32

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.”33

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.34

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 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.”35

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…”36

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 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…”37


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

32. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 262.

33. Al-Mu‘arri, Luzum ma la Yulzam, pp. 310-311.

34. The Qur’anic Commentary of Al-Manar, vol. 1, p. 367.

35. ‘Ala’ili, Al-Imam al-Husayn, pp. 33-34.

36. ‘Iqad, Al-‘Abqariyyat al-Islamiyyah, vol. 2, p. 222.

37. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 228.


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