IMAM HUSAYN (A.S) – HEIR OF THE PROPHETS (Analyzing the phenomenon of deviation as witnessed by the Prophets)

By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 6 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town)

Thus far in our discussions about Deviation in the history of Ambiya (Prophets) we analyzed, in light of Quranic verses, various factors involved in this disease. We have reflected on internal and external factors.

Internal elements which are a direct consequence of our type of creation which Almighty Allah (SWT) has created and external elements created by enemies of Insan and humanity, and the most serious enemy is indeed Shaytaan.

It is very clearly stated in the Holy Quran that Shaytaan is our enemy. Then we also discussed what the reason behind the animosity of Shaytaan is and in this regard, our focus for the past 2 nights has been on the phenomenon of Istikbaar (arrogance).

From the Quranic perspective, it appears that the major challenge of NATIONS is also this disease of Istikbaar (arrogance). Almost every problem is somehow linked to arrogance in the Holy Quran.

We also mentioned that this phenomenon of arrogance is not necessarily an individualistic problem only. It can be a problem of society too. Nations are arrogant too i.e. they have arrogant systems. They are referred to as “yastakbirun” (arrogant ones) in the Holy Quran.

This is the point where the history of Ambiya joins Karbala. The summary of the message of Ambiya is Tauheed. They invited mankind to surrender before Almighty Allah (SWT) and nobody else. Now, the point in complete contrast to this is Istikbaar (arrogance).

Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 35 of Surah Saaffaat (Chapter 37 of the Holy Quran):

إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا إِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

“Surely they used to behave arrogantly when it was said to them: There is no god but Allah”.

The word “kaanu” in technical Arabic grammar refers to them continuously being arrogant when they were invited to Tauheed. Tauheed means don’t surrender to anybody except Allah (SWT). Istikbaar means everybody should surrender before me!!

In the previous discussion we said there are 3 types of people in Karbala:

1. Husayn (AS) – he does not surrender to anybody except Almight Allah (SWT) i.e. Displays perfect Tauheed (Monotheism);

2. Yazeed – he expects whole world must surrender before him i.e. Istikbaar (complete arrogance);

3. Umar ibni Sa’ad – he wants both this world and Heaven and was thus double-minded and unable to decide which side to go to! He wants Tawheed and Shirk! The reality is that they cannot come together!

Arrogance is not only about feeling higher than others, but rather, it goes beyond this basic understanding, to the point of enslaving people.

The Holy Quran says that on the Day of Judgment, punishment will be on basis of arrogance. Part of verse 20 of Surah Ahqahf (chapter 46) makes reference to this:

“…فَالْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ…”

“…today you shall be rewarded with the punishment of abasement because you were unjustly arrogant in the land…”

This arrogance of Shaytaan infiltrated among the people, from individuals to different classes of society and society as a whole, which results in deviation from truth.

In our previous discussion we also established that Shaytaan does not compel you. People choose to fall in his trap through their free will. You will recall the relevant verses of Surah al-Hijr (chapter 15) in this regard. In verse 40 Shaytaan says:

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

“Except Thy servants from among them, the devoted ones.”

To which Almighty Allah (SWT) responds in verse 42:

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ

“Surely, as regards My servants, you (satan) have no authority, over them except those who follow you of the deviators”.

Shaytaan exploited the same free will and material aspect that Allah (SWT) made part of our nature. That is how Shaytaan works.


Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 28 of Surah Jaathiya (chapter 45 of the Holy Quran):

وَتَرَىٰ كُلَّ أُمَّةٍ جَاثِيَةً ۚ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ تُدْعَىٰ إِلَىٰ كِتَابِهَا الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“And you shall see every nation kneeling down; every nation shall be called to its book: today you shall be rewarded for what you did.”

Sometimes we are talking about arrogance and pride on an individual level, which is indeed a big problem. But this is not the major issue in Karbala.

The problem in Karbala is that society is arrogant! How does a nation become arrogant? It is when a nation is controlled by arrogant rulers. To put it simply it is about Arrogant Individuals versus Arrogant Systems.

The approach of arrogant systems is based on believing we (as a community/country) are better than others and therefore we must control their interests and enslave them, guide them to obey our commands and decide their destiny for them.

Quran speaks about such systems in society, explaining how they exploit and control, thereby creating arrogant system.

Quran gives various examples of Pharaohs, Qarun, Haaman, and the challenges which Nabi Musa (AS) and Nabi Yusuf (AS) and other Ambiya faced.

We have Fir’oun (Pharaoh) who establishes an arrogant system, and then we have Bani Isra-eel, who are the followers of Nabi Musa. Nabi Musa’s followers are terribly oppressed and subjected to grave injustice, but they are no different when they get their chance in power!!

Our current socio-political systems prevalent in the world are no different, whereby we see superpowers imposing their control politically and economically, giving limited form of democracy if it suits their interest and the human rights as defined by them!


The Holy Quran says there are 3 major prerequisites necessary for these arrogant systems to be established:

1. Economic power – material resources. Quran says these people with economic power think they are above others and can do as they please.

2. Political power

3. Ideological bankruptcy – these are the masses who are weak and offer themselves to be the subject of arrogance.

Most important to note is that the logic of the Quran is that it does not like the oppressor nor the oppressed. In our society, to be oppressed is mistakenly seen positively because it is better than being the Oppressor. However, Quran does not like it when you allow yourself to be subjected to oppression!

It is Steve Biko or Robert Subukwe who said that slavery is mental slavery, when you are proud to be subject of an oppressive system!

So these 3 major prerequisites together create an arrogant system.

This arrogant system then subsists on 3 pillars according to the Holy Quran:

1. Mutrif – a class of society who have excessive resources at their disposal and simultaneously live their life having no concern for anyone else other than themselves. They simply enjoy a life of comfort;

2. Mala’ – elite and affluent people who have a way to control people;

3. Raghib/Roh’baan – They are the corrupt clergy who endorse the above to make the arrogant system operational.

In the story of Nabi Musa and Fir’oun (Pharaoh), we see that the arrogant system only survives when these 3 classes are in society.


Quran uses this term “Mutrif” in at least 5 different places.

Examples are in verse 16 of Surah Israa’ (chapter 17), or verse 64 of Surah Mu’minoen (chapter 23).

There are also verses 34 – 36 of Surah Saba (chapter 34), which will be the basis of our discussion, as major statements are in this verse which articulates the principles which rule over history:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُمْ بِهِ كَافِرُونَ

“We never sent a warner to a town but those who led lives in ease (mutrifeen) in it said: We are surely disbelievers in what you are sent with”.

وَقَالُوا نَحْنُ أَكْثَرُ أَمْوَالًا وَأَوْلَادًا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ

“And they say: We have more wealth and children, and we shall not be punished.”

قُلْ إِنَّ رَبِّي يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Say: “Surely my Lord amplifies the means of subsistence for whom He pleases and straitens (for whom He pleases), but most men do not know.”

Almighty Allah (SWT) is defining Mutrif in these verses of the Holy Quran. The key point established in these verses is that it was this group of people who opposed Prophets when they came to guide.

An important point to clarify is that the Holy Quran is not saying that any person who has lots of resources falls under the category of Mutrif! But rather, Mutrif refers to a group of people whose material resources has made them drunk to the point of being unable to accept truth, because they will need to change their life and share in their resources! Critical principle which is very very relevant in our own country!!

Another relevant verse in this discussion is verse 23 of Surah Zuhruf (chapter 43 of the Holy Quran):

وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ مُقْتَدُونَ

“And thus, We did not send before you any warner in a town, but those who led easy lives (mutrifeen) in it said: Surely we found our fathers on a course, and surely we are followers of their footsteps.”

When wealth is distributed unjustly in society or in the hands of one particular group, naturally the message of Tauheed threatens their interest and therefore this group always resists based on their arrogance. This results in injustice and oppression being prevalent in society.

A key strategy consistently used for the protection of the interest of oppressive rulers is they divide their society into classes, setting them up against each other and thereby maintaining their control.

Quran distinguishes 3 different levels of society in the survival of an arrogant system, as mentioned earlier (Mutrif, Mala’ and Roh’baan).

In the inspiring documentary series of Nabi Yusuf (AS) viewed on Ahlulbayt TV and other online media, you see the role of these 3 levels when he enters that society.


Imam Husayn (AS) inherited the challenges of Ambiya. In Imam Husayn’s (AS) time the society reached to the same level of polarization. Unfair distribution of wealth and resources created a class of “Mutrifeen”.

It’s a reality and fact among those who analyze the history of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) established a society of justice and fair distribution of resources, but in the same speed with which he established this, we see within a couple of decades after his passing that the same society reached to the point where we have different classes based upon economic divides.

The divide between elite and poor and masters and slaves becomes established. It boggles the mind how quickly this reverse movement took shape!!

Thirty odd years after the passing away of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we see that Marwan ibn Hakam comes back as prime minister! This is the same person whom Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) hated and exiled with his father during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and the first two Khaliphs of Islam.

In this same period Abdullah ibn Sarh, became governor of Egypt! This is the same person who became Murtad after accepting Islam, reaching the level of arrogance where he said that he dictates to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) whatever he (SAWA) claims from the Holy Quran!!


Walid ibn Uqba became governor of Kufa! This is the same Walid who is being referred to in verse 6 of Surah Hujraat (chapter 49 of the Holy Quran):

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا

“O you who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it…”

The highly respected and senior Companion by the name of ibn Mas’ud (RA) was in charge of the public treasury in Kufa. Walid took a large sum of public money without asking. Ibn Mas’ud was very upset and demanded that Walid return it. Walid blatantly refused. Ibn Mas’ud wrote to the Khaliph, complaining about this.

The Khaliph responded by saying it is ours, and you ibn Mas’ud have no authority to decide if we should be allowed to take. The public treasury became personal property!

Ibn Mas’ud resigned, stating categorically in his resignation that he is no longer a slave of Bani Umayyah!


This is the background which created the tragedy of Karbala.

This is the society in which Imam Husayn (AS) challenges the system of injustice.

A critical principle to understand is that Imam Husayn (AS) was not fighting one individual by the name of Yazid , but rather, Yazid is the climax of a system of deviation which started long ago.

If one looks at the argument of these people from the history of Ambiya, they use to say to Ambiya that they are nothing better!!

Prophet Nuh (AS) was told that we only see simple people with you, no elite of the society is in your camp.

Exactly this same mentality is manifested in Karbala.

If Ambiya were alone, Husayn (AS) was alone. Ambiya challenged these classes of society. Husayn (AS) similarly revolted against this.


That very well-known poetry of the great Sufi saint Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz Mu’inudin Chishti Ajmeri (RA), when he defines Husayn (AS), he eloquently writes:


“Husayn is King! 
Husayn is King of the Kings! 
Husain is himself religion and also the one who gave shelter to the religion 
He preferred to give his head but not his hand to Yazid 
Truly, Husayn is the foundation of la ilaha il-lallah”

The Shuhada of Karbala are the foundation of Tauheed. Imam Husayn (AS) injected in every member of Karbala this spirit of resistance against arrogance, to the extent that the supreme arrogance of Bani Umayyah is countered by supreme Tauheed of Imam Husayn’s (AS) army.


On the first night we spoke about Muslim ibni Akil. There is another person in Kufa by the name of Abdullah ibni Yaktur. He is referred to as the brother of Imam Husayn (AS) because there was a time when his mother use to take care of Imam Husayn (AS). He is also sent by Imam Husayn (AS) as a special envoy to Kufa.

The army of ibni Ziyad arrested him and took him to the palace. He spoke from the top of the palace of ibni Ziyad to a very big crowd. The plan of ibni Ziyad had backfired as Abdullah ibni Yaktur had full courage to curse ibni Ziyad openly on this platform. He was then pushed down from the top of the palace, fell to the ground from that height but was still alive. His head was then severed the same way we witness with ISIS today!

To be continued…..