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Who was Yazid?

In order to learn more clearly as to how far the views expressed by Imam Husayn about Yazid are indisputable according to the history of Islam, one should refer to the following remarks of Mas'udi in respect of Yazid.

"Yazid was a pleasure-seeking person. He was a man, who kept beasts of prey. He had dogs, monkeys and panthers. He always arranged wine-drinking parties. One day after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn while he was sitting in such a party, Ibn Ziyad was seated on his right side,Yazid turned to the cupbearer and recited two couplets which are translated below:

"Give me a cup of wine which should satiate my bones. Then give another such cup to Ibn Ziyad, the man who is my confidant and who has strengthened my position and the foundation of my caliphate".

Yazid meant to say that Ibn Ziyad by killing Imam Husayn had strengthened the foundation of his caliphate.

Thereafter Mas'udi writes about the injustice and oppressions committed by Yazid and then says: "In the Muslim ummah Yazid was like Pharaoh amongst his subjects" and then writes: "It is not so, because Pharaoh was more just to his subjects". He adds: "The injustice, intrepidity and impiety of Yazid also penetrated into the Muslim ummah". The sins committed by Yazid were also committed by his favorites and they adopted his ways and manners. During the period of his caliphate music became current in Makkah and Madina, and all sorts of amusements and funs began to be used. The people began to drink wine openly. It is also the more surprising that the man, who claimed to be the successor to the Holy Prophet and occupied the seat of the caliphate, had a pet monkey, which was named Abu Qays. Yazid used to bring it in his drinking parties and he spread a mattress for it. He also mounted it on the back of a she-ass, and made it participate in the horse-race. One day Abu Qays won the race. The monkey was then dressed in red and yellow silken clothes and cloak, and an embroidered cap was placed on its head".

This was the import of the sentence that Imam Husayn wrote to Mu'awiya about Yazid. However, this person attained to the Islamic Caliphate and pressed Imam Husayn to take the oath of allegiance i.e. to acknowledge him to be the lawful successor of his (i.e. Imam Husayn's) grandfather, the Prophet of Allah.
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18. It is said that the Roman Emperor sent two herculean athletes to Muawiya to measure their strength with the Muslim athletes. One of them was tall and corpulent and the other was powerful with a strong grip. Muawiya said to Amr bin As: "We have got a match for the tall man in the person of Qays bin sad bin Ubada, but as regards the other man you should think over it as to who can measure his strength with him and defeat him". Amr said: "I have two persons in view but you are inimical towards both of them. One of them is Muhammad bin Hanafiya and the other is Abdullah bin Zubayr". Muawiya said: "You should summon him who is nearer to us at present. Amr asked Muhammad bin Hanafiya to meet the challenge. Muawiya took his place in the general assembly and the dignitaries of the State also attended. The powerful person was the first to enter the field and came face to face with Muhammad. Muhammad said to him: "Either you should sit down and let me hold your hand so that I may pull you off from your seat, or I may sit down and you may lift me from my place. Now let me know whether you are going to sit down or I should do so?" The Roman said: "You may sit down. Muhammad sat down and let the Roman hold his hand. In spite of his best efforts, however, the Roman could not move Muhammad from his place, and acknowledged his weakness. Then Muhammad stood up and the Roman sat down and let Muhammad hold his hand. Muhammad immediately lifted him from his place with one jerk, held him in the air, and then threw him on the ground. Those present applauded him for his strength and Muawiya too was very happy. Now the second Roman champion who was tall statured entered the field to compete. Qays bin Sad who was present went in a corner, took off his underwear and gave it to the Roman to wear. When the Roman put it on it reached his breast and also trailed along behind his feet. Thereupon, he felt ashamed and sat down. The elder amongst the Ansar were very much annoyed on Qays having taken off his underwear in such a formal meeting and rebuked him. He, however, composed some verses in which he apologized for his conduct.

Adapted from the book: "A Probe into the History of Ashura" by: "Dr. Ibrahim Ayati"

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