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

By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 5 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town)

We are still busy analyzing the background to the phenomenon of human deviation in the history of mankind and the experiences of Prophets in this regard.

Thus far, we have discussed some internal factors involved in human character, as well as a key external factor, for which we understand the very first external cause for the deviation of mankind from truth is a being called Shaytaan, who built animosity against mankind from the first day of its very existence, when Almighty Allah (SWT) called mankind the best of creation.

In the prior discussion we reflected on how Iblis (the specific Satan who did not prostrate to Adam (AS)) is introduced in the Holy Quran. We explained why Iblis refused to pay respect to mankind when he was commanded by Almighty Allah (SWT). He displayed arrogance!

We concluded the prior discussion that arrogance is the most serious problem causing deviation and Iblis is the first one who rebelled against Almighty Allah (SWT) due to this disease, resulting in his thousands of years of worship (Ibadah) becoming null and void.


We will now continue this discussion of Arrogance from the verses of Surah Saad (chapter 38). In the prior discussion we concluded on verses 76 and 77.

Verse 76 was Iblis’s contempt that he showed to Almighty Allah (SWT), claiming that creation of human beings from clay is inferior to his creation from fire:

قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ ۖ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ

Iblis said: “I am better than he: thou created me from fire, and him thou created from clay.”

Verse 77 & 78 was the angry response of Almighty Allah (SWT):

قَالَ فَاخْرُجْ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّكَ رَجِيمٌ

“Then get thee out from here: for thou art rejected, accursed.”

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ لَعْنَتِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

“And surely My curse is on you to the day of judgment.”


Now look at the arrogance of Iblis after Almighty Allah (SWT) expelled him. He did not seek forgiveness for his mistake!! This is the problem of arrogance!

Once you have this disease of arrogance it pushes you further down. You become more arrogant and you disobey and deviate further due to increased arrogance.

قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنْظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

Iblis said: “My Lord! Then respite me to the day that they are raised.”

Allah (SWT) replied in verse 80:

قَالَ فَإِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ

Allah said: “Surely you are of the respited ones”

إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ

“Till the period of the time made known.”

Iblis’s argument with Allah (SWT) continues when he remonstrates in verse 82:

قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

He said: “Then by Thy Might I will surely make them live an evil life, all,

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

Except Thy servants from among them, the purified ones.”

So when Iblis was cursed, he did not try to save himself by seeking forgiveness, but instead starts to put up a “tit for tat” fight. It’s as if he wants to “get back” at Allah and say that he will destroy this new creation of Allah called human being.


Amazingly Shaytaan with all his animosity was very “knowledgeable” or rather shrewd. He knew very well that he will not be able to misguide the “sincere servants” – the very ones due to whom the human being is considered to be the best creation.

The word used at the end of this verse 83 was “muhlaseen”, which is higher than “muhliseen”. Muhlis means if you are sincere to something, whereas “muhlas” means to be purified – a quality bestowed upon you by Allah, not by yourself.

The same discussion is evident in Surah al-Hijr (chapter 15), in verses 28 – 31.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ مِنْ حَمَإٍ مَسْنُونٍ

“And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am going to create a mortal of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.”

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ

“So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down making prostration to him.”

فَسَجَدَ الْمَلَائِكَةُ كُلُّهُمْ أَجْمَعُونَ

“So the angels made prostration, all of them together”

إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ أَنْ يَكُونَ مَعَ السَّاجِدِينَ

“But Iblis (did it not); he refused to be with those who made prostration”.


Then in verses 32 and 33 a deeper discussion takes place between Allah (SWT) and Iblis, which paints an even clearer picture of Iblis’s contempt.

Almighty Allah (SWT) asks Iblis in verse 32:

قَالَ يَا إِبْلِيسُ مَا لَكَ أَلَّا تَكُونَ مَعَ السَّاجِدِينَ

He said: “O Iblis! What excuse have you that you are not with those who make prostration?”

True to form, Iblis explains with his ultimate arrogance:

قَالَ لَمْ أَكُنْ لِأَسْجُدَ لِبَشَرٍ خَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ مِنْ حَمَإٍ مَسْنُونٍ

He said: “I am not such that I should make prostration to a mortal whom Thou hast created of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.”

Almighty Allah (SWT) curses Iblis in verse 34 and 35, with the same words as in verse 77 and 78 of Surah Saad (further above):

قَالَ فَاخْرُجْ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّكَ رَجِيمٌ

He said: “Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away:”

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ اللَّعْنَةَ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

“And surely on you is curse until the Day of Judgment.”

Commentators of the Quran consider this argument of Iblis wherein mud/clay is thought of as being worthless, to actually be a most ridiculous argument. How is it that “fire” from  which Iblis was created is thought of to be better than clay?

Clay/mud is actually a source of life and food which serves as nutrition for other creation. It is thus an extremely valuable material! But Satan’s arrogance caused him to be blind to this reality.


In our earlier discussions we indicated that one of man’s internal qualities is that he is capable of taking responsibility.

Thus the “trust” of guardianship (wilayah) that was accepted by human beings while other creations avoided taking that responsibility.

Now the next verses of the Surah Hijr show how Satan denies responsibility after being disobedient.

Thus the verses which follow from 36 – 38 are the same as in Surah Saad, verses 79 – 81:

قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنْظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

He said: “My Lord! then respite me till the time when they are raised.”

قَالَ فَإِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ

He said: “So surely you are of the respited ones”

إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ

“Till the period of the time made known.”

Now look at the next verse (39) which has key messages. This is where Iblis wants to take revenge by “blaming” Almighty Allah (SWT):

قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

He said: “My Lord! because Thou hast made life evil to me, I will certainly make (evil) fair-seeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to deviate”

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

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

Iblis is saying Allah (SWT) misguided him, forgetting that Allah (SWT) granted him free will!! He is thus pleading the ideology of “compulsion” (Jabr) – an ideology which caused chaos in the Muslim Ummah during the rule of Bani Umayyah.

Commentators explain that Shaytaan wanted to say that he has no free will, and through compulsion is in this bad situation. Thus, when one is in a corner – blame others instead of taking responsibility!


So in these verses, Satan outlines his strategy of how he will misguide human beings.

A very important word in verse 39 is “La’uzayyananna”, whereby Iblis is saying he will misguide mankind through 2 very important strategies:

1. He will make this material world very attractive. This is the best way to fool mankind; and

2. One you have fallen into his trap, he helps you rationalise your actions by believing you did it due to compulsion – whereby you will believe your hands are tied.

It is in this way that Shaytaan will be able to misguide humanity.

Almighty Allah (SWT) responds in verses 41 – 43 to the accusation that He misguided Iblis:

قَالَ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ

He said: “This is a right way with Me”:

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ

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

وَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ لَمَوْعِدُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

“And surely Hell is the promised place of them all”.

Often we use this lame excuse that Shaytaan fooled me. But be aware – Shaytaan cannot compel you. We have free will to follow the right path.

So in summary, the factors for Shaytaan to misguide are:

1. Arrogance

2. Belief in compulsion

3. Attraction to apparent beauty of the material world

But the key to remember is that you have free will, so nobody can compel you to commit sin.


Imam Ali (AS) says when he introduces Iblis, that Iblis is Imam of those people who have arrogance which makes the person to have blind prejudice and not possible to see the truth. Examples of this are racism and xenophobia.

One of the scholars argues that this assertion of Shaytaan that fire is better than clay is nothing other than blind prejudice.

So this arrogance with these qualities created real disasters in the history.

The main mission of Ambiya was to resist against this spirit of arrogance. They came to convey the message of Tawheed, which contradicts arrogance. The message of Tawheed means there is no God except Allah (SWT), means there is no powerful and knowledgeable other than Allah (SWT). There is nothing more higher than Allah (SWT).

Then Imam Ali (AS), whose level of Tawheed is way beyond our imagination, says: “O Allah I have not seen anything except that I saw you before it, after it and with it.”

What does this mean really? It is the realization of this fact that our existence is a “sort of existence”. The real existence is existence of Allah (SWT), and real Tawheed is realizing that we are nothing and everything is Allah (SWT).

And when a person reaches to this point there is no question of arrogance, because the person has fully surrendered to Almighty Allah.

In a conference on Nahjul Balaha more than 25 years ago, Imam Khomeini was asked to write a note to open the conference. Imam Khomeini asked: Who am I to write about Imam Ali (AS)?

Imam Khomeini wrote a very short message, saying Ali (AS) was Abd (Servant) of Allah. Ali (AS) reached to the status of Ubudiyyat, where his hands become Yadullah (hands of Allah), his nafs (soul) becomes Nafsullah. That is a completely different level of Tawheed.

Ambiya came to fight with the spirit of arrogance in the form of those who resisted against the message of Tawheed. It is not only a phenomenon which happens with individuals.

Quran’s logic is that each of us have a:

1. Individual responsibility; AND

2. Communal responsibility

There are many verses of the Holy Quran which speak about this. For every Ummah “there is a time”. It means that for each of us, we have a lifespan. Similarly, nations also have a lifespan.

Almighty Allah (SWT) explains in Surah Jaathiya that we will receive 2 books of account on the day of resurrection. The first one is our individual file and the other as a nation/community will be called.

Even if our individual results are good on the Day of Judgement, it does not absolve us from our responsibility towards our community.

The point is that this phenomenon of arrogance is not confined to an individual. Ambiya’s struggled was against the arrogance of nations whereby commandments of Allah (SWT) are not obeyed.

Look forward for the next discussion where arrogance at a communal/national level will be explained Insha’Allah.


In Karbala we see the same situation where Imam Husayn (AS) is taking a stand against arrogance, at a communal level and not simply on an individual level.

Imam Husayn (AS) is taking an uncompromising position to fight arrogance in the ruling system. It goes beyond Yazeed as an individual.

The same strategies employed by Shaytaan (and followers like Yazeed) are the same strategies employed by Bani Umayyah, namely:

1. Compulsion – everything is Allah’s Qadr and Qadha. It also looks very sacred and until today we see it commonly! That is how Shaytaan fools us!!

2. Make this material world attractive – use Dunya to promise people positions.

In Karbala there are 3 types of people:

1. Arrogance – Yazeed

2. Tawheed – Husayn (AS)

3. Those who want both Dunya and Akhirah – Umar ibni Sa’ad

Umar ibni Sa’ad wants the governorship of Tehran, but it’s not possible without killing Husayn (AS)!

A very difficult question to ask ourselves is which camp would we be in if we were there in 61AH!!


There were those in Karbala who committed to this path that nobody could move them. An example is Zuhayr ibn Qayn. He was an affluent personality of Kufa and head of a tribe.

It is important to note that Zuhayr is not in the camp of supporters of Ahlul Bait (AS). There were those who thought that the third Khaliph was killed innocently, and that Imam Ali (AS) was not just, and Zuhayr was from among this group.

Imam Husayn (AS) knew that Zuhayr was not in his camp, but nobody knows why he insisted on wanting to meet Zuhayr, despite Zuhayr wanting to stay out of Imam Husayn’s (AS) way. Zuhayr’s wife encouraged him to honour the request of Imam Husayn (AS) to meet.

This same Zuhayr, through his free will, has a complete change of heart after meeting with Imam Husayn (AS) privately, which resulted in Zuhayr guarding the right wing with great valor in the battlefield on the day of Ashura, before succumbing to the brutality of Bani Umayyah.