The Truth about Imam Hussein’s Revolution - Part 3
By: Martyr Murtadha Mutahhari
Among the differences that exist between matters of the physical world and the social one is that in the material world minerals always demonstrate a single essence. For instance, you cannot find, as a raw material, gold and copper in a single entity. In contrast, in social phenomena, it is quite possible that a single phenomenon might demonstrate a variety of realities and essences. Man is such a wonder because he can boast several essences at the same time.
Jean-Paul Sartre, [1905 - 1980], the French existentialist philosopher and writer, maintained that the existence of man precedes his essence. He is right in this part of his statement. In addition to that, man could possess different semblances at the same time. For example, he could demonstrate a semblance of an angel, a pig, and a tiger.
[‘Existentialism’ is a loose term for the reaction led by Kierkegaard, against the abstract rationalism of Hegel’s philosophy. As against Hegel’s conception of ‘abstract consciousness’ within which all oppositions are supposedly reconciled, Kierkegaard insisted on the irreducibility of the subjective, personal dimension of human life.
He characterized this in terms of the perspective of the ‘existing individual’. Kierkegaard rejected the claim that we can look forward to a time when the different interests and concerns of people can be satisfied through their comprehension within an all-embracing objective understanding of the universe.]
According to this, it can be said that social phenomena might exhibit multi-dimensional realities. Imam Hussein’s revolt is such a multi-faceted event, not least because several factors were jointly at work to produce it. For example, there might erupt a revolt in reaction to a particular occurrence, i.e. under the spur of the moment. It might as well be a positive reaction to a certain trend and a negative one in the face of another trend. All these factors were present in Imam Hussein’s revolt, hence the description, “a multi-character revolt”?.
It is noteworthy that insisting on securing the Imam’s swearing of allegiance meant giving legitimacy to the caliphate. What was Imam Hussein’s response to that demand? Naturally, it was turned down, not least because Hussein (A.S) was the grandson of the Prophet (PBUH) and was widely known for his piety and scant regard for worldly pleasures.
Upon receiving the news of the Imam’s rejection, the ruling establishment issued threats to him. His response was that he would rather die than endorse Yezid’s succession to the caliphate. Up to that point in time, the Imam’s reaction was of the passive type to an unlawful demand. In other words, a reaction based on piety and a reality stemming from the slogan, “There is no god but God”?, which makes it incumbent on the believer to say no to any illegitimate demand.
That rejection was not the only reason for the Imam’s revolt. There was another issue, which demonstrated the underlying principle of his revolt; it was a positive reaction. That is, after the demise of Mu’aawiyah, the people of Kufa, [Iraq] cast their memories some twenty years back, i.e. to the days of the caliphate of Imam Ali (A.S). Despite the fact that many of Ali’s disciples were liquidated by the Umayyad terror machine, such as Hijr bin Adi, Amr bin Hamq al-Khuza’ie, Rashid al-Hijri, and Maythem at-Tammar, just to render Medina bereft of the heavyweights among the companions of the Prophet, the people called to mind how Ali (A.S) was the example of the true Muslim and his rule a just one.
Thus, they convened in Kufa and agreed among themselves to reject the endorsement of Yezid as caliph, turning their attention to Imam Hussein (A.S) with the offer to become their Islamic caliph. They wrote to the Imam to this effect, expressing their readiness to welcome him to re-establish the Islamic rule in Kufa.
Some one hundred thousand people signed those letters. As a result, those people did not leave the Imam with any choice other than to accede to their request. That was the positive reaction. In conclusion, it can be safely said that the true nature of the Imam’s movement was a legitimate one, in that a group of Muslims initiated the action and the Imam had to provide them with his positive response.
Upholding his religious obligation, the Imam had no choice but to announce his outright rejection to sanctioning Yezid’s appointment [by his father] as Caliph, not least for raising his pure self above that blemish they wanted to stain him with.
However, had he agreed to Abdullah bin Abbas’s proposition to retire to the mountains of Yemen to escape the troops of Yezid, he would have secured his safety. On the other hand, he would have absolved himself from condoning the appointment of Yezid as Caliph. And yet, since the issue was one which related to the appeal to him by those hundred thousand people, he had no alternative but to agree to that appeal out of a religious obligation.
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