By: Brother Yasar Ebrahim
(BSc (Hons): Univ of Gloucestershire; currently in 7th year of studies in Hawza in Qum, Iran)
The sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a) has sparkled through the dark pages of history and has guided many a sinking ship towards the shore of salvation. His love creates such a revolution fire and verve within that person who loves him that dictators and oppressors have no other choice but to flee from him. For indeed the Final Prophet (s) has said:
إِنَّ لِقَتْلِ الْحُسَيْنِ حَرَارَةً فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَا تَبْرُدُ أَبَد
“Surely, there exists a fire in the hearts of believers for the martyrdom of Husayn (a) that will never be extinguished!”1
It is because of this very reason that the enemies of truth and those that wish to keep humanity in shackles and darkness try their utmost to degrade and remove the exoteric significance of the sacrifice that took place on the tenth on Muharram or “Ashura.”
This short article intends to very briefly look at one such attempt to blacken the brightest of lights. An attempt that is not new, nor one that has not been answered many times before but one that keeps rearing its ugly head every so often that it requires only the minimal of attention.
The accusation that is was actually the Shia who were responsible for the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a), and that Yazeed should not solely be held responsible for this heinous act! In creating a partner for Yazeed, who some even go as far as defending and claiming that he had a right in killing Imam Husayn (a)2 , the burden of the crime is lessened from him and placed upon the shoulders of those who claim to be the followers of Husayn (a); and from this accusation another springs forth in which the Shia are then asked why do you mourn for something for which you yourselves are responsible for?
The accusation claims that it was the Shia of Kufa who wrote hundreds of letters – according to historians, the number of letters that were written to Imam Husayn (a) from the Kufans after the demise of Muawiyah is approximately 150 letters which contained one, two, three or four signatures 3 – to Imam Husayn (a) asking him to come to Kufa and be their imam; and it was these very same Kufans who then firstly abandoned the Imam’s emissary to Kufa , Muslim ibn Aqeel and then secondly, abandoned the Imam himself by not assisting him on the plains of Karbala.4
In has been narrated that when Muslim arrived in Kufa, nearly 18 000 5 men gave him their oath of allegiance but by the time it reached Isha prayers, the cousin of Imam Husayn (as) was left all alone to wander the streets of Kufa.
This accusation stems from the notion that Kufa was, at the time of Imam Husayn (as), a Shia stronghold, as it had been during the reign of his father Imam Ali (as). So the conclusion is that because the Kufans were Shia and it was them who wrote letters to Imam Husayn (as), inviting him to come to Kufa and in the end it was them that abandoned him (as); so hence they should be held equally responsible for the killing.
In order for this accusation to be correct, it must be proven that firstly Kufa during the time of Imam Husayn (as) or 60AH was the same Kufa at the time of Imam Ali (as), who was martyred in the year 40 AH. Secondly, it also needs to be proven that all those who wrote letters to Imam Husayn (as) were his true Shia and not purely following the trend or having ulterior motives for doing so. Thirdly, its needs to be established whether or not the Shias who wrote to Imam Husayn (as) were able to join the Imam or not i.e. what was the role of Ibn Ziyaad in Kufa at that time.
In order to strengthen this accusation, a number of narrations from the Imam himself or from his son, Imam Sajjad (as) are used to show that they themselves criticized the people of Kufa for their treachery.
An example of one such narration is when Imam Ali ibn Husayn (a) addressed the Kufans in the following way:
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ نَاشَدْتُكُمْ بِاللَّهِ هَلْ تَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّكُمْ كَتَبْتُمْ إِلَى أَبِي وَ خَدَعْتُمُوهُ وَ أَعْطَيْتُمُوهُ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمُ الْعَهْدَ وَ الْمِيثَاقَ وَ الْبَيْعَةَ ثُمَّ قَاتَلْتُمُوهُ وَ خَذَلْتُمُوهُ فَتَبّاً لَكُمْ مَا قَدَّمْتُمْ لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَ سُوءً لِرَأْيِكُمْ بِأَيَّةِ عَيْنٍ تَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص- يَقُولُ لَكُمْ قَتَلْتُمْ عِتْرَتِي وَ انْتَهَكْتُمْ حُرْمَتِي فَلَسْتُمْ مِنْ أُمَّتِي
“O people [of Kufa]! I swear by Allah have you forgotten the letters that you wrote to my father? But you deceived him when you yourselves gave him your word and pledged your allegiance to him. Then you fought against him and abandoned him! Shame be upon you all! What have sent for your souls? Curse be upon your sight! How will you face the Holy Prophet (s) [on the Day of Judgment] and he will be saying to you that you killed my progeny and dishonored my family; you are not part of my Ummah!” 6
Other statements and narrations from Lady Zaynab (s) et al. are also used to back up this claim, but one thing that is noticeable in all these narrations is that in none of them the word ‘Shia’ appears.
Again, this accusation stems from the fact that the enemies of truth and light equate Kufan with being Shia, which, Insha Allah, will be shown to be a fallacy and an incorrect analysis (answered in Part 2 to this article)
Another false claim is that the man, who dealt the final blow to Imam Husayn (a), namely Shimr ibn Dhil Jawshan, was a Shia. However no evidence is provided for him being a Shia.7
To conclude, many attempts have been made to try and move the blame away from Yazeed ibn Muawiyah and put it on the shoulders of the Shia so that it makes them seem fanatical about an event that they themselves played a large in it taking place. However, it only requires a clear mind and simple reflection to decipher the truth from falsehood. These attempts to belittle the mourning ceremonies held in nearly every corner of the globe will continue, but so too will the ceremonies.
Continued in part 2………
1. Mustakdrak Wasael vol. 10, pg. 318.
2. بيعة يزيد شرعية، ومن خرج عليه كان باغياً (Paying the oath of allegiance to Yazeed was compulsory and whoever rose up against him is a tyrant and renegade.). Aghaleet al-Murakheen, pg. 120. (taken from www.valiasr-aj.com/persian)
3. Al Futuh, ibn ‘Atham vol. 5, pg. 29.
4. Baztaab Tafakur Uthmani dar Waqiah Karbala, pg. 4.
5. Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, pg 368.
6. Ihtijaj, Tabarsi, vol.2, pg. 306.