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Wind of the Uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.)

Shortly after the death of Mu'awiyah, his son, Yazid, took over. He ordered his governors to take the pledge of allegiance to him from the people. He focused on Imam Hussein (a.s.), in particular, due to the Ummayyad conviction that he was the unshakable resisting force among the opposition. Once they subjugated him, all dams before them would collapse. The opposition, minus Imam Hussein (a.s.), would be easily subdued.

Instantly Yazid wrote to the governor of the city of Medina, al-Walid bin Utbah, to take the pledge of allegiance from the people, in general, and from Imam Hussein (a.s.), in particular. The governor wasted no time in carrying out the orders of his superior. He sent one of his retainers for Imam Hussein (a.s.) late in the night. Imam Hussein (a.s.) realized what the governor was up to. He got himself ready. Escorted by thirty men from his family and followers, he went to the house of the governor. He told them that if he called them they had to break into the house.

As soon as they were seated, the governor asked Imam Hussein (a.s.), to give his pledge of allegiance. Imam Hussein (a.s.) suggested the matter be delayed to a more suitable time. It would better if it was with the people of Medina. He said: "...The likes of me do not give their pledge of allegiance secretly. When you call the people to give their pledge, call us with them. So it will be one call." 38

Imam Hussein (a.s.) wanted the delay to prepare himself for the inevitable conflict. He would not like to raise the anger of the local authorities prematurely. But Marwan bin al-Hakam, who was also present, urged the governor to forcibly take the pledge of allegiance from Imam Hussein (a.s.). Should he refuse to yield, Marwan went on, the governor had to kill him. Otherwise, the matter would get out of al-Walid and his master's hands. But Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted decisively and determinedly. He was tough with Marwan and warned him. A violent skirmish between the two parties ensued. The companions of Imam Hussein (a.s.) broke into the house and returned him to his house. 39

That was the starting point of the rejection of the policy of treachery and oppression. Imam Hussein (a.s.) made up him mind to shoulder his responsibility, to challenge the oppressors, as he was the legitimate Imam of the ummah, and the righteous leader entrusted with the faith.

He went to the tomb of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his grandfather and offered prayer beside it. Then he raised his hands in prayer:

"O Allah! This is the grave of your Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. You know what I am going through. O Allah! I love good and detest evil. I beseech You, O! The Lord of glory and honor, and adjure You by this grave and its contents, to choose for me whatever pleases You and Your." 40

And so Imam Hussein (a.s.) made a covenant with Allah that he would defend the faith no matter how high the price was, as long as that would please Allah.

In the prayer he said beside the tomb of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Imam Hussein (a.s.) presents himself as a soldier, whose self was totally molted at the threshold of the faith. He could not separate his self from the faith. His life would only express itself through the faith.

Imam Hussein (a.s.) hastened to gather the members of his family and the loyal among his companions. He told them about his decision to move to Mecca, the sanctuary of Allah.

The objectors increased in number. They pressed him to change his course for fear of being killed. Still others called him to yield. They were helpless and thought he would kill himself in vain.

Imam Hussein (a.s.) was too determined to back down. He announced the first communique of his uprising in the form of a will he wrote to his brother, Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah:

"...and I am not taking up arms in order to make merry, or be ecstatic over what I possess. I am ready to fight for the sole goal of seeking reform of the ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather, and my father, Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.), were doing. Whoever justly accepts my call, Allah is the Source and Sustainer of justice, but whoever turns my offer down, I will opt for patience, till Allah judges between me and these people, and He is the best of judges." 41

His first official communique of his uprising pointed to the scope of deviation which had set in, when en joining good vanished and forbidding evil ceased. In the same manner, the statement covered the key goals and motives of the uprising in so few words.

The caravan of Imam Hussein (a.s.) marched towards Mecca. The name of Allah was on his tongue, and his heart was filled with love of Allah. Upon entering Mecca, he recited the glorious verse:

"And when he turned his face towards Madyan, he said: Maybe my Lord will guide me in the right path."

Holy Qur'an (28:22)

He stayed at the house of al-Abdul-Muttalib. Throngs of the faithful gathered to welcome him. 42

Imam Hussein (a.s.) monitored the reactions of the Muslims throughout the Islamic provinces towards the ascension of Yazid to the office of caliphate. Kufa, the capital of Iraq, was witnessing a revolutionary movement and a remarkable political shake-up. After long periods of terror and suppression the opposition forces stirred seeing it the golden chance to free themselves from the yoke of the tyrants. At the head of these revolutionaries were the followers of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). They held an emergency meeting to discuss the mounting tension in Kufa and the responsibility they should take vis-a-vis the change in the government, after Yazid bin Mu'awiyah had taken the affairs of the ummah into his own hands. Sulaiman bin Sird al-Khuza'i, at whose house the meeting was held, delivered a speech. He informed the gathering of Imam Hussein' s (a.s.) announcement of his opposition to Yazid and that he rejected him as a legitimate caliph. He told them that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was in Mecca, and since they were his followers and helpers they had to do something. If they were able to support and back him, sparing no effort in doing that, they had to inform him of their position. But were they unable to live up to their principles, it would be most incorrect to write to him and then fail him when the best comes to the worst.

The Shi'ites who were present at the meeting declared their full support to the Imam. They would defend him by any means available. "We fight his enemy, and kill ourselves defending him," 43 they vowed.

After reaching a consensus on this point, the leading men of Kufa wrote a letter in which they declared their total and final rejection of the Ummayyad rule and that they knew no substitute for Imam Hussein (a.s.). Then letters poured in from Kufa carrying the urgent call of the Kufans for Imam Hussein (a.s.) to join them, to take office as the caliphate and Imam of the Muslims. The wave of support for Imam Hussein (a.s.) was so massive that a list of the tribes waiting for his arrival, totalling 100,000 fighters, was prepared. 44

After studying these letters, Imam Hussein (a.s.) concluded that it was necessary to send an envoy to Kufa authorized to take the pledge of allegiance from the people of Iraq, on his behalf, and campaign for the sake of rallying the people around Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), represented at the time by Imam Hussein (a.s.).

Imam Hussein chose his cousin, Muslim bin Aqeel, for this mission. The man was known for his piety, courage, and high qualifications in thought and leadership. He would be able to steer the wave of enthusiasm for the interest of the faith.

With him, Imam Hussein (a.s.) dispatched a special letter to the people there, and particularly their chiefs. He explained the qualifications of his envoy, and the nature of his mission. He was to closely examine the situation and describe precisely what was going on there.

Following is the full text of the letter:

"In the Name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful...

From Hussein bin Ali,

To the leaders of the believers and the Muslims.

Hani and Sa'id have brought me your letters; they are the last two of your messengers who have come to me. I have understood everything which you have described and mentioned.

The essential statement of the majority of you is: 'We have no Imam. Therefore come; through you, may Allah unite us under truth and guidance'. I am sending you my brother, Muslim bin Aqeel, who is my cousin and trustworthy representative from my house. I ordered him to write to me about your conditions, affairs and views. If he writes to me that the opinion of your leaders and of the men of wisdom and merit among you is united in the same way as the messengers who have come to me have described, and as I have read in your letters, I will come to you at once, Allah willing. By my life, what is the Imam except one who professes the religion of truth, and one who dedicates himself to the essence of Allah, and Salam." 45

Kufa welcomed Muslim as any loyal and dutiful following would. The pledge of allegiance was taken for Imam Hussein (a.s.). Ibn Aqeel, by now, was convinced that the change was on behalf of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the Message of Allah, the Exalted. It was by no means something common and could not be ignored. It was a truth, tangible and subjective. They should quickly deal with the situation before something happens and spoils the situation.

And so Muslim, may Allah be pleased with him, saw it fit to dispatch an account to Imam Hussein (a.s.) about the direction of the de facto situation. In his account he called him to come to Kufa. He wrote:

"Certainly, the man sent by a caravan in a desert to explore the way ahead of it will never lie to those who had sent him. All the people of Kufa are with you. Eighteen thousand of them have given their pledge of allegiance to me. So make haste and come to us as soon as you read this letter of mine. And peace and the blessings of Allah be on you." 46

In the meantime, Imam Hussein (a.s.) thought it would be wise to contact the chiefs of Basra and discuss with them his decision to oppose deviation and in justice. He wrote to them. Yazid bin Mas'ood sent a letter in which people spoke volumes for the loyalty of the tribes of Tamim and Bani-Sa'd to AhlulBait (a.s.). Quite painfully and regrettably, his letter arrived too late.

Al-Nahshali's troops were late to arrive. The man was so shocked at the news of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) that he died. He had missed the opportunity to help the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).


38. Al-Fusool al-Muhimmah (The Important Chapters), Account of His Journey to Iraq, lbn al-Sabbagh, and Maqtal al-Hussein, al-Muqarram, p. 142.

39. Al-Irshad (Guidance), Narratives about Hussein bin Ali (a.s.), Shaikh al-Mufid, p. 183.

40. Maqtal al-Hussein, Abdul-Razzaq al-Muqarram, p. 147 41. Al-Watha'iq al-Rasmiyyah li-Thawrat al-Hussein, Abdul-Karim alQazwini, p. 36. Quoted from Maqtal al-Khawarizimi.

42. Al-Fusool al-Muhimmih, Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki.

43. Al-Irshad, Account of Hussein's Journey to the City of Medina, p. 184.

44. Ma'a al-Hussein fi Nahdhatihi, In Kufa, Asad Haidar.

45. Al-Watha'iq al-Rasmiyyah, Abdul-Karimm al-Qazwini. Quoted from al-Tabari.

46. Ibid.

Adopted from the book : "Imam Husain bin Ali (a.s.)" by : "Al-Balagh Foundation"

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