The Philosophy of ‘Ashura
In Karbala event we observe, Yazid’s attempt to secure
allegiance from Imam Husayane on the one hand, and Kufa’s
invitation of Imam Husayn on the other. But the very important
and noticeable point is Imam’s criticizing Yazid and his
government without considering the aforementioned points. He
criticized corruption, cruelty, and venality in Yazid’s system.
He encourages biding to honour and probiding to devil. As a
matter of fact all the three reasons mentioned were important
for Imam to start his reaction against Yazid, but let’s see
which of them has been the most influential one!?
When Ali (A.) was killed by Kharijites, Muawiya became the
caliph and remained in control more than ever. Imam Hassan (Ali(A.))’s
son tried his best to dethnone Mu’awiya and refresh the Muslim
world, but his army was not qualified enough to obey him
regularly. Therefore, he concluded a temporary contract with
Mu’awiya according to which the caliphate position was given to
Hassan (A.) after Muawiya’s death, and in case of the death of
Imam Hassan, this position was to be given to Imam Al-Husayn.
Mu’awiya poisoned Imam Hassan and tried to establish a
hereditary ruling system which was an innovation (bid’a) in
Before this bid’a, the caliphate system was based on two types
of thought and knowledge.
a.; the person qualified for caliphate position was the one
selected by the prophet.
b.; it is people’s right to select a caliph for their own
Mu’awiya was willing to capture caliphate position and maintain
it in his family as a hereditary form, but he was hesitating:
The person who encouraged Mu’awiya and Yazid to do so was al-Mughira
b. Shu’ba: The caliph Umar appointed him governor of Basra. When
Mua’wiya disposed him from his position, he went to Yazid and
encouraged him to be his father’s successor. The reason lies in
the fact that al-Mughira wanted to be governor of Kufa or Basra.
Yazid informed al-Mughira that this actin woul not be possible
and the ground needs to be paved more profoundly. Al-Mughira
believed that Syria (Sham) people would approve whatever issued
by Mu’awiya, and he added that Marwan Ib. al Hakam will justify
people in Medina and he, himself will preside people in Kufa.
Yazid discussed the ussue with Muawiya, and he called out
Mughira. Al-Mughira convinced Mu’awiya and received of governor
the position of Kufa and Basra for the 2nd time. This
happened after Imam Hassan’s martyrdom. People resisted Marwan
and al-Mughira in Medina and Kufa, hence, Mu’awiya himself went
to Medina. He was widely in control within the Islamic world
then, and expanded Muslim borders up to North African and China,
he was seen not just as the man who perverted the caliphate into
kingship, but also as a clever and successful ruler, though the
legitimacy of his caliphate being a far more important issue
than its historical nature, Meanwhile, he made his greatest
mistake in relation to foreign policy to hold his incompetent
son in power. When the issue was not admitted by the people, he
concluded a peace contract with Rome emperor, being the most
powerful enemy of Islam, and asked him to support Yazid.
When he was in Medina he visited three influential figures of
the city; Al-Husayn b. Ali, Abdullah, b Umar, and al. Zubayr. He
tried to convince them to recognize Yazid but they refused.
Mu’awiya was much too anxious about Yazid’s state and advised
him some important points, if he followed, undoubtedly, he could
have ruled over Muslim territories a bit longer: “Oh, son I’ve
paved the way for your kingdom and ruling, Arab rivals are under
your control now. Hejaz (al-Hijaz) people are your relatives,
respect them the best, and manage them orderly. If they asked
you to change a ruler or governor do it as soon as possible,
since disposing one is easier than confronting thousands of
swords. Damascus people will always help you, ask them for help
whenever needed and send them back to their county when the
problem is over. Son, nobody will oppose you but three people.
Husayn b. Ali, Abdullah, b. Umar, and al-Zubayr. If al-Husayn
rejected you and was invited by Kufa people, and you overcame
him, do not kill him because he is your own cousin and he is
respected by Muslims, he is the prophet’s grandson. Abdullah
will recognize you, if he is left alone, and al-Zubayr will
reject you, kill him and tear him limb to limb. Keep your
relatives and be kind to them.
Mu’awiya was aware that these people will not recognize Yazid,
since all of them were sons of previous caliphs themselves. On
the other hand, they were more legitimate thean Yazid to rule
over the Muslim territories.
Unfortunately Yazid did not take his father’s advice seriously
and faild to maintain and preserve Amir’s (Mu’awiya) throne, and
fifty –year efforts. Being a man of leisurly life, he acted so
illogically that damaged Banu-Umayya and Abu-Sufyan and
corrupted Islamic society then.
After Mu’awiya’s death, Yazid sent a letter to Walid b. Abu
Sufyan, governor of Medina to inform him of the issue and asked
him to secure allegiance of the 3 people mentioned. Imam Hussayn
refused to recognize him and took refuge in Mecca. He did it to
show his disagreement, in Mecca he could announce this rejection
and disagreement more forcefully, and even if he were killed
there he could be more successful and influencial. He then
stayed in Mecca during Shaban, Ramadan, Shawal and Zighade. He
left there for Iraq, Kufa, in Zihajje, 8th. Muslim
world in that time was having three important and significant
centers, namely, Medina; center of business, Sham(Damesscus)
center of government, and Kufa, former government and ruling
Kufa was a recently established city: It was founded by Sa’d b.
Abi Waggas in 638. It was the hotbed of political movements and
its people sent letters to Imam Husayn and confessed that they
would help him against Yazid. Imam al-Husayn knew that those
people were not that trustable. In addition, he was in Mecca
when he received the letters, better say, he had started his
movement and was preaching against Yazid and Kufa’s letters were
in the 2nd `degree of importnce to him. Abbas
reminded Imam Husayn of the fact that Kufa is not the right
place to leave for, but it was not wise to stay in Mecca either,
because Yazid missioners could kill Imam and rumor around that
he was killed because of a personal confront or action. There
was no other way around; he had to leave Mecca for Iraq, though
he knew Kufa people will not keep their promise and might turn
to be against him. Sham (Damascus) people also were supporting
Banu-Umayya and Abu-Sufyan family the same as before. They had
revealed it through eighteen month of war against Kufa when
Ali(A.) was the caliph, during siffin war.
If Imam Husayn recognized Yazid, he had approved the change from
caliphate to hereditary kingdom. On the other hand, Yazid was
apparently showing corruption, what other Banu-Umayya caliphs
never tried apparently, it is said that Mu’awiya was a man
corruption and leisurely life but he was very restrictive and
conservative. Yazid, however, did not notice islamic traditions
and did not respect Muslim world. He disregarded the fact that
millions Muslims from various races in Asia, Africa, and Europe
were unique and united since they thought they were ruled by a
Muslim leader and caliph; if they became aware of the facts
about how Yazid lived, they would announce autonomy and
independence. Imam Husayn was against Yazid because Islam was in
danger, not because of the willingness towards caliphate
position or for material reasons. This is why his movement has
been everlasting and unique. Even if Yazid did not ask Imam to
recognize him, Imam would rise against him because he was
illegitimate and unloyal to rule over Muslim world.