By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 18 November 2016 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town

As we said in last night’s lecture, in the struggle for justice, the tradition of the Prophets was that they always used peaceful means to achieve their purpose and even when things became violent, they were NEVER the ones to initiate violence. This is because Prophets all believed that killing one innocent soul was equivalent to killing the entire mankind.

However those who opposed the Prophets never placed any value on human life and thus always quickly resorted to extreme violence when their personal interests were under threat.  

And Imam Husayn (a.s) faced the exact same challenge and in terms of methodology never opted for violence. 


A well known Muslim social activist in our community wrote a thought provoking message on his Facebook page today. He said:

“Think About It: Ijma (consensus or mutual agreement) of the Sahabah is considered a legal proof in Sunni Fiqh. Once all the Sahabah agree on something, no one after them can go AGAINST THAT. Had Imam al-Husayn (RA) listened to other (old and aged) Sahabah and given the Bayah to Yazid, he would have sealed an Ijma of the Sahabah to ACCEPT a drunk tyrant as the Ruler of the Ummah. After that, NO ONE in this Ummah would have had a right to protest against any tyrannical ruler.”

In last night’s lecture we mentioned that lovers of Yazid, in protecting Yazid are brazen enough to say that Imam Husayn (a.s) “made a mistake” to rise up against Yazid. The purpose of this is to divert the attention of later generations from what happened in history and to prevent the memory of the martyrs to be kept alive as they knew very well that it is this movement which seeks to keep the memory of the martyrs of Karbala alive which is the seed of revolution for all times.

Now compare this to what was written in the quotation above! 

Imam Husayn (a.s) did not make a mistake, but actually destroyed the concept that “consensus (ijmaa) of all the sahabah” is a criterion for establishing what is legally acceptable in Islam! Since the grand personalities of his time from among the sahabah were not ready to stand against the corrupt ruler Yazid, Imam Husayn (a.s) broke the “Ijmaa” of the early ummah (community) and refused to be the one who would set such an evil precedent. 

Now even with this understanding that Imam Husayn (a.s) did not allow this “ijmaa” to occur, we still have contemporary speakers who claim that Imam Husayn (a.s) made an error to stand against Yazid. 

Why is this the case?

Its because these speakers hang on to fabricated ahadith (narrations of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)) which says that you should follow the leader “even if he goes against the Sunnah (tradition of Prophet Muhammad (sawa))” or even if he “breaks your back” and similar fabrications.

The movement of Arba-een sought to keep the memory of Karbala itself alive by re-educating the masses on the correct version of Islam. 

Whereas Imam Husayn (a.s)’s logic was based on what he heard from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (sawa) who he narrates as having said:

“Whoever witnesses an oppressive ruler who legalizes what is forbidden and forbids what is legal and you remained quiet, then Allah will place you in the Hell fire together with that oppressor” others choose to follow the fabricated narrations.  


The propaganda machinery of Bani Umayyah was so strong such that the common people questioned the Ahlul Bait (a.s) when they were brought as prisoners of war and asked them who they were and why they revolted against the ruler?!

Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), knowing that these people were victims of propaganda, educated these people by taking them back to the Quran.

So he would ask them, “have you read Surah 33 verse 33” of the Quran and they would confirm that they actually did.

So Surah 33 Verse 33 says:

           اِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرّ‌ِجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهّـِرَكُمْ تَطْهِيراً

“Verily Allah intends but to keep off from you (every kind of) uncleanness, O’ you the people of the House! And purify you (with) a thorough purification.”

He would then ask them, who are “the people of the House” other than us?

Or he would refer them to Surah 42 verse 23 which says:

قُلْ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْراً إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَی

Say [O Muhammad! Say unto people]: “No reward do I ask of you for this [Divine Call] except to be kind to my close relatives.”

And he would then ask them, who are the “close relatives” other than us?

And the Imam would refer to other verses of the Quran to demonstrate the point.

Upon hearing this the innocent victims of propaganda felt ashamed and would even fall at the feet of the Ahlul Bait (a.s)


The methodology of Bani Umayyah also included the exploitation of religion itself to achieve their evil purpose.

There is an incident which occurred in the court of Yazid in Damascus when a religious scholar who supported Yazid ascended the mimbar (pulpit) and started praising Yazid. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) listened and when the person was complete, the Imam responded to the orator telling him that he sold his Hereafter for a measly price by buying the anger of Almighty Allah in exchange for the pleasure of people! What a bad deal!

Then the Imam requested to ascend onto the pulpit which he called nothing but “pieces of wood” as they lacked their spiritual significance. 

When he was eventually allowed to speak, he re-educated the listeners regarded Tauheed and the Fundamentals of religion and then gradually introduced himself being a member of a family who had special qualities that Allah bestowed upon them. 

It’s a family consisting of:

Muhammad al-Mustapha (the Chosen One);

Hamza Sayyid al-Shuhadaa (Leader of the Martyrs);

Ali al-Murtada; (the Chosen One);

Fatima az-Zahra, Sayyida al-Nisaa (Leader of the Women of all the Worlds);

Hassan and Husayn – Leaders of the Youth of Jannah

Then the Imam specifically introduced himself to be:

– the son of Makkah and Mina;

– the son of Zamzam;

– the son of Safa and Marwa; 

– the son of Ibrahim;

– the son of the one who placed the Hajar al-Aswad in its position with his own hands;

– the son of the one who performed the best tawaaf;

– the son of the best of creation;

– the son of the Most Beloved of Allah;

– the son of the Final Messenger of Allah;

– the son of Muhammad, the Chosen One!

He then introduced the specifics of who was his grandfather Imam Ali (a.s) and who was his grandmother Fatima Az-Zahra (a.s) and who was his granduncle Ja’far Tayyar and who was his uncle Hassan al-Mujtaba (a.s).

And then he introduced his own father saying “I am the son of the one who was killed from behind who was thirsty when he was killed and whose children were slain and whose women were made prisoners of war and whose body was not even shrouded and left laying on the sands of Karbala.”

This dramatic introduction shook the conscience of those present.

So how was Yazid going to stop the Imam at this stage when his efforts to stop the remembrance of the Martyrs was backfiring?

By exploiting religion!

So at this point Yazid, who himself had no interest in prayer as his whole life was one of corruption suddenly instructed the Mu’azzin (one who does the call to prayer) to announce the Athaan (call to prayer)!

Suddenly prayer was important.

Of course, out of respect and Islamic etiquette, when the call to prayer is made, one should silently listen to it.

Thus Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) and the whole court became silent.

And as the Mu’azzin pronounced each verse of the Athaan, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) repeated the verse for people to see that they believe in the very same athaan as Bani Umayyah made the masses think that the Ahlul Bait (a.s) had become no-believers. .

But when the Mu’azzin came to the sentence in the call to prayer which says “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) stopped the Mu’azzin for a moment and asked the court “Am I the grandson of Messenger of Allah or is Yazid his grandson!”

And if Muhammad (sawa) was my grandfather, then why was my father Husayn (a.s) killed in that manner?

With all the propaganda, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) and Zainab (a.s) diffused the situation.

This exploitation of religion that we continue to see today has its roots in history!

When people jump on the bandwagon to make it seem that the Houthis of Yemen are targeting Makkah while the very culprits are the ones who are killing the people of Yemen, then we should know that exploiting the emotions of the innocent unlettered people is nothing new!

Makkah which is the centre of Unity for the whole humanity is being used to divide the Ummah to promote hatred!

Thus far we have said that the movement against truth had the following stages:

– First verbal and other forms of non-violent resistance;

– Secondly it was violent resistance;

– Thirdly it was efforts to conceal history;

After this stage when all else failed, at the fourth stage resistance against truth occurred in the form of distortion of the message.


As was the case in the message of the Prophets wherein those who resisted against their message ended up distorting the message, the same occurred in the case of Karbala.

Tahreef (distortion) occurs in two ways.

Firstly it is in the form of distorting or changing the actual words of the message. This is called “Tahreef Lafzi”. This form of distortion occurred in the case of the past Prophets and the Quran refers to it in various places.

Shia are wrongly accused of this type of Tahreef in relation to the Quran. It is alleged that we believe that the words of the Quran was changed in the sense that certain verses were removed. This allegation in reality is absolutely false.

The second form of distortion is when the actual words are kept in tact but the meaning of the message is distorted or changed. This is called “Tahreef Ma’nawi”.

Now let me say something that might surprise you. While being critical of others, we need to also be critical of ourselves.

In understanding the message of Karbala, certain Shia historically and even today have fallen foul to distort the message of Karbala. Yes the root cause of this is due to the very infiltration of the enemies of Islam. However, the purpose of this distortion is to divert the real message of Karbala to a diluted meaning. And in certain cases the actual narrations were also altered.

The core message of Imam Husayn (a.s) is “someone like me will never pledge allegiance to someone like Yazid.” It’s a message of liberty, freedom, non-compromise with oppressors, standing against evil, etc. 

From this lofty status, some people say something completely Unislamic like “Imam Husayn (a.s) died for our sins” – in other words they promote the Christian Doctrine of Redemption which is a complete foreign concept to Islam. 

This a major Tahreef in the message of Karbala.

So if you ask them why was Imam Husayn (a.s) was killed if it was not for the lofty ideals mentioned above, then they say it was a command of Allah!

This is very dangerous. It removes your responsibility!

Arba-een is about keeping Karbala alive through “reason” and “emotions”.

Now while there are many narrations from the Imams which state that the one who sheds tears for Imam Husayn (a.s) will indeed enter Jannah, while this is indeed true, they have reduced this to mean that there’s no commitment to Islam required other than these tears.

Even the narrations of going for the ziyarah of Imam Husayn (a.s) indicate that with every step we take to Imam Husayn (a.s), thousands of Angels are praying for our forgiveness. 

These narrations are undoubtedly true, but their meaning has been distorted.

Ulama say that “to cry for Imam Husayn (a.s) is the best form of worship” but they don’t mean that its mere empty crying!

Yet some people think that salaah is not important anymore, social responsibility is not necessary, concern for what is lawful and prohibited is not there anymore!

Imam Baqir (a.s) says that people who think that it is sufficient to claim that they are connected to our wilayat while not being accountable are fooling themselves!

Or Imam Saadiq (a.s) said on his deathbed that anyone who does not give importance to his prayers will never enjoy the intercession of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).

Thus the mourning for Imam Husayn (a.s) must be guided to achieve its real intended purpose.

Imam Husayn (a.s) until the very last showed the importance of individual good action he wanted a reprieve for one night to prayer and connect to his Lord. And over the years various untruths were attached to the event of Karbala which are foreign to Islam. It is our responsibility to identify these and protect ourselves against it. Insha’Allah, in the next lecture, we will analyse these distortions further.