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History

Political chaos and disorganization

One of the main causes for the uprising by the people of Medina against the Umayyad government was the immoral behavior and corruption that characterized political decisions. ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr wrote a letter to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in which he criticized Walid ibn ‘Aqabah, Yazid’s governor and representative in Medina.12

Ibn Zubayr wrote, “You have sent a harsh and brutal man for us. He does not pay the least attention to what is right and just. He does not pay any attention to the advice of well-wishers, nor does he heed the words of the wise. If you had sent a flexible person, we could be hopeful that complicated work might be made easier.”

Later, Yazid relieved Walid ibn ‘Aqabah of his post and replaced him with ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan. ‘Uthman, too, was an arrogant and vain youth who lacked experience.13 It was during his time as governor of Medina that the event of Harrah took place.14

The accumulation of the mentioned factors laid the groundwork for an explosion; the only thing that was needed was a spark and it came as follows: Ibn Mina, Yazid’s financial representative and the man responsible for collecting tax, made the intention of taking all the wealth he collected from Harrah to Sham for Yazid.

A group of protesters from Medina blocked his way. They confiscated all the tax and wealth which Ibn Mina was carrying. Ibn Mina reported the issue to ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Sufiyan, the governor of Medina. ‘Uthman reported the issue to Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in a letter he sent to Sham. As a result of this, Yazid was incited against the people of Medina.15

Yazid became very angry when he heard this news. He said, “I swear by Allah! I will send a large army towards them, and in this way I will crush them under the feet of horses.”16

Notes:

12. Nihayah al-Arab, vol. 6, p. 216.

13. Ibid.

14. Al-Ma‘arif, p. 345.

15. Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 250; Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 206.

16. Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 127.

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