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History

The Illegitimacy of Yazid’s Caliphate

Some misguided traditionalists and historians have attempted to portray Yazid’s caliphate and government as legitimate according to Islam. They have endeavored to demonstrate that the people pledged allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah.

By doing so, they try to make Yazid’s government appear acceptable. At the same time, they try to show Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid to be an illegitimate rebellion that was against the common will of the people. In this section, we substantiate the falsity of these claims, but first we mention some of the statements made in support of Yazid.

Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi writes, “The allegiance paid to Yazid was legally concluded, because one man paid allegiance to him, even though that one man was his father, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.”1

Muhibb al-Din Khatib writes, “Yazid was just, vigilant and perseverant in prayer. He used to perform good deeds. He always enforced the Prophet’s (S) Sunnah and was very attached to it.”2

Ibn al-‘Arabi also writes, “Anyone who went to war against al-Husayn did so with the emphatic recommendation of his ancestor the Prophet (S). They say that the Prophet (S) said, ‘Kill by the sword anyone who wants to sow discord and division in the Islamic community [ummah], no matter whom it may be’.”3

Ibn Khaldun has said, “Al-Husayn was killed by his grandfather’s sword.”4

Muhammad Abu al-Yasr ‘Abidin, the Mufti of Sham, says, “The Allegiance paid to Yazid was legal and legitimate. Therefore, whoever rebelled against him was an insurgent.”5

Abul Khayr Shafi‘i Qazvini writes, “Yazid was an imam and a supreme religious jurisprudent [mujtahid].”6

We will now survey and discuss the legitimacy of Yazid’s claim to the caliphate.

Notes:

1. Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, Al-‘Awasim min al-Qawahim, p. 222.

2. Muhibb al-Din Khatib, Al-Khutut al-‘Aridah, p. 232.

3. Al-‘Awasim min al-Qawahim, Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, p. 222.

4. Manawi, Fayd al-Qadir, vol. 1, p. 265, vol. 5, p. 213; The Introduction of Ibn Khaldun, p. 181.

5. Aghalit al-Muwarikhin, p. 120.

6. Tarajum Rijal al-Gharnayn, Al-Sadis wa al-Sabi‘, p. 6.

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