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Back You are here: Home Islamic Articles History Evidence regarding the illegitimacy of Yazid’s caliphate - Part 1

History

Evidence regarding the illegitimacy of Yazid’s caliphate - Part 1

Supporters of Bani Umayyah and Yazid’s partisans among some Islamic sects have been persistent in trying to portray the issue of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid as a rebellion against a legitimate Muslim caliph whose allegiance and caliphate was concluded in a correct and unflawed manner.

By this means, they have striven to depict Imam al-Husayn (as) as an insurgent who rebelled against the “rightful Imam” of the time. They have asserted that Yazid only intended to protect his legitimately acquired position when he brutally massacred Imam al-Husayn (as) and all his companions at Karbala.

In fact, however, the reality is quite the opposite. The real imam and caliph was Imam al-Husayn (as). His Imamate and caliphate were sanctioned by Allah and the Holy Prophet (S). It was actually Yazid who secured the caliphate by means of usurpation and extortion.

Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah’s caliphate, in fact, lacked any legitimacy. Therefore, Imam al-Husayn’s (as) uprising against Yazid was not only legitimate and rational, but also an obligatory and binding duty upon Imam al-Husayn (as) as well. Evidence for these assertions follows:

1. The Imamate of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as)

In a sound and well-established hadith recounted by successive witnesses among the Sunnis, the Holy Prophet (S) explicitly mentioned the Twelve Imams who would come after him and introduced them as the rightful caliphs.

Jabir ibn Samrah recounts, “I heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying, ‘As long as the Twelve Caliphs govern, Islam will always be honored.’ Then, he said something I did not understand clearly. I asked my father, ‘What has the Prophet just said?’ My father answered, ‘They will all belong to the tribe of Quraysh’.”7

On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari, too, quotes from Jabir ibn Samrah that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “They will be twelve Amirs (leaders). Then he said something that I did not hear properly. My father said, ‘They will all belong to the tribe of Quraysh’.”8

With recourse to the Hadith al-Thaqalayn, we understand that these twelve people are of the Prophet’s (S) Household. With attention to the Hadith Ghadir al-Khumm, we come to know that the first of them is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). All the hadiths mentioned above were quoted from the Holy Prophet (S) during the same period of time and can therefore be used to interpret each other, especially when it is born in mind that, according to other hadiths, the names of these twelve people were explicitly mentioned by the Holy Prophet (S).

In the book “Fara’id al-Samtayn”, Hamawayni recounts on his own chain of transmission from Ibn ‘Abbas that a Jewish person named Na‘thal was granted an audience by the Holy Prophet (S). Na‘thal asked him, “O Muhammad! I will ask you a number of questions about certain issues that have remained hidden in my heart for a long time. If you answer them all, I will believe in you.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said to him, “Ask O Aba ‘Amarah!” One of the questions which the Jew asked was this, “Inform me about who will be the inheritor and executor of your will after your death? I am asking this question because there has never been a prophet who died and did not leave behind an administrator for himself.

Indeed, our Prophet, Musa ibn ‘Imran left Yusha‘ ibn Nun to be his administrator.” The Holy Prophet (S) answered, “Verily, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is my inheritor and the administrator of my will. After him, I will be succeeded by my descendants al-Hasan and al-Husayn; and after these two, there will come nine Imams one after another (in successive order) from the loins of al-Husayn.” Na‘thal said, “O Muhammad! Mention their names to me.”

The Holy Prophet (S) said, “After al-Husayn, his son ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, then Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, then his son Ja‘far ibn Muhammad, then his son Musa ibn Ja‘far, then his son ‘Ali ibn Musa, and after him his son Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, and after him his son ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, and then Hasan ibn ‘Ali and his son, the final and ultimate proof of Allah upon mankind, Muhammad Mahdi ibn al-Hasan will be the last Imam. These are the twelve people who will succeed me.”9

These twelve people have also been clearly mentioned in other hadiths.10

In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (S) has said,

    الحسن والحسين إماما أمتي بعد أبيهما.

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two Imams of my Islamic community [ummah] after their father.”11

Therefore, if Imam al-Husayn (as) is the rightful imam and caliph nominated and appointed by the Holy Prophet (S) himself, it follows that Yazid’s caliphate is illegitimate and invalid.

Notes:

7. Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 6, p. 3, Kitab al-Amarah.

8. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 8, p. 127, Bab al-Istikhlaf.

9. Hamawayni, Fara‘id al-Samtayn, vol. 2, p. 132; Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, vol. 3, pp. 281-282.

10. Ibid.

11. Hamawayni, Fara‘id al-Samtayn, vol. 1, p. 55.

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