Karbala and Beyond

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ABU SUFYAN

Abu Sufyan was a wealthy and influential man who belonged to the
Banu Umayyah clan of the once pagan tribe of Quraish of Mecca,
Hijaz, that fought the spread of Islam relentlessly during the time of the
Prophet of Islam (ع). He was contemporary to the Prophet of Islam (ع)
whom he fought vigorously. His date of birth is unknown, but he died
in 31 A.H./652 A.D. “Abu Sufyan” is his kunya, surname; his name is
Sakhr ibn Harb ibn Umayyah. He is father of Mu’awiyah and
grandfather of Yazid.
Abu Sufyan led pagan Quraish in its many wars against Prophet
Muhammed (ص) and his small band of supporters, making alliances
with other pagan tribes and with the Jews of Medina against the new
rising power of Islam. He kept leading one battle after another till the
fall of Mecca to the Muslims in 630 A.D. It was then that he had to
either accept the Islamic faith or face a sure death for all the mischief
he had committed against the Muslims, so he preferred to live in
hypocrisy as a “Muslim,” though only in name, rather than accept
death. He was the most cunning man in all of Arabia and one of its
aristocrats and men of might and means. He saw Islam as the harbinger
of the waning of his own personal power and prestige and those of his
tribe, Quraish, not to mention the decline of his faith, paganism, and the
pre-Islamic way of life to which he and his likes were very much
accustomed, the life of promiscuity, lewdness and debauchery, with all
the wine, women and wealth aristocrats like him very much enjoyed.
His likes are present throughout the Islamic lands in our time and in
every time and clime… This has always been so, and it shall
unfortunately remain so…

MUAWIYAH AND YAZID

will himself be killed. And the treaty between us of amnesty is under
my feet.”1
Mu’awiyah’s rule was terror in the whole Muslim land. Such terrorism
was spread by many convoys sent to various regions. Historians have
narrated saying that Muawiyh summoned Sufyan ibn ‘Awf al-Ghamidi,
one of the commanders of his army, and said to him, “This army is
under your command. Proceed along the Euphrates River till you reach
Heet. Any resistance you meet on your way should be crushed, and
then you should proceed to invade Anbar. After that, penetrate deeply
into Mada’in. O Sufyan! These invasions will frighten the Iraqis and
please those who like us. Such campaigns will attract frightened people
to our side. Kill whoever holds different views from ours; loot their
villages and demolish their homes. Indeed, fighting them against their
livelihood and taking their wealth away is similar to killing them but is
more painful to their hearts.”2
Another of his commanders, namely Bishr ibn Arta’ah, was summoned
and ordered to proceed to Hijaz and Yemen with these instructions
issued by Mu’awiyah: “Proceed to Medina and expel its people.
Meanwhile, people in your way, who are not from our camp, should be
terrorized. When you enter Medina, let it appear as if you are going to
kill them. Make it appear that your aim is to exterminate them. Then
pardon them. Terrorize the people around Mecca and Medina and
scatter them around.”3
During Mu’awiyah’s reign, basic human rights were denied, not simply
violated. No one was free to express his views. Government spies were
paid to terrorize the public, assisting the army and the police in sparing
no opportunity to crush the people and to silence their dissent. There
are some documents which reveal Mu’awiyah’s instructions to his
governors to do just that. For instance, the following letter was
addressed to all judges: “Do not accept the testimony of Ali’s followers or of his descendants in (your) courts.” Another letter stated:
“If you have evidence that someone likes Ali and his family, omit his
name from the recipients of rations stipulated from the zakat funds.”
Another letter said, “Punish whoever is suspected of following Ali and
demolish his house.”1
Such was the situation during the government of
Mu’awiyah, Yazid’s infamous father. Historians who were recording
these waves of terror described them as unprecedented in history.
People were so frightened, they did not mind being called atheists,
thieves, etc., but not followers of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (ع), Prophet
Muhammed’s right hand, confidant and son-in-law.
Another aspect of the government of Mu’awiyah was the racist
discrimination between Arabs and non-Arabs. Although they were
supposed to have embraced Islam which tolerates no racism in its
teachings, non-Arabs were forced to pay khiraj and jizya taxes that are
levied from non-Muslims living under the protection of Muslims and
enjoying certain privileges, including the exemption from the military
service. A non-Arab soldier fighting in the state’s army used to receive
bare subsistence from the rations. Once, a dispute flared up between an
Arab and a non-Arab and both were brought to court. The judge,
namely Abdullah ibn amir, heard the non-Arab saying to his Arab
opponent, “May Allah not permit people of your kind (i.e. Arabs) to
multiply.” The Arab answered him by saying, “O Allah! I invoke You
to multiply their (non-Arabs’) population among us!” People present
there and then were bewildered to hear such a plea, so they asked him,
“How do you pray for this man’s people to multiply while he prays for
yours to be diminished?!” The Arab opponent said, “Yes, indeed, I do
so! They clean our streets and make shoes for our animals, and they
weave our clothes!”
Imam al-Husain’s older brother, Imam al-Hasan (ع), was elected in
Medina on the 21st of the month of Ramadan, 40 A.H./January 28, 661
A.D. as the caliph, but his caliphate did not last long due to the
terrorism promoted by Mu’awiyah who either intimidated, killed, or
bribed the most distinguished men upon whom Imam al-Hasan (ع)
depended to run the affairs of the government. Finally, Mu’awiyah pushed Imam al-Hasan (ع) out of power after signing a treaty with him
the terms of which were, indeed, honourable and fair, had they only
been implemented. Finding his men too weak or too reluctant to fight
Mu’awiyah, Imam al-Hasan (ع) had no alternative except to sign the
said treaty with a man whom he knew very well to be the most
hypocritical of all and the most untrustworthy. Since there are too many
ignorant folks who dare to blaspheme and cast doubt about the integrity
of Imam al-Hasan (ع), we have to review the terms of that treaty and
leave the reader to draw his own conclusion; those terms, in brief,
were:a
1) Mu’awiyah shall rule according to the Holy Qur’an and the
Sunnah of the Prophet (ص) in the territories under his control.
2) Mu’awiyah shall have no right to nominate his successor.
3) All people in Syria, Iraq, Hizaj and Yemen shall lead their lives
safely and securely.
4) The lives and properties of the followers (Shi’as) of Imam Ali ibn
Abu Talib (ع), wherever they may be, shall remain safe and secure.
5) Mu’awiyah shall not try, openly or secretly, to harm or to kill
Imam al-Hasan (ع) son of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (ع), his brother
Imam al-Husain (ع), or any other member of the family of the
Prophet (ص), nor shall they be threatened or terrorized.
6) The abusive language, the cursing of Imam Ali (ع) during prayer
services (ordered by Mu’awiyah and continued after his death for a
long period of time) at the Grand Mosque of Damascus shall be
stopped.
Mu’awiyah had ordered all Imams who led congregational prayers not
to descend from their pulpits before cursing Ali (ع), a practice which
they labeled as “Sunnah.” It is documented that one such Imam forgot
once to curse Ali (ع), whereupon people shouted at him that he had
violated the Sunnah. Those who prayed at home and who forgot to
curse Ali (ع) after their prayers felt obligated to repeat them, being
convinced that such cursing was an integral part of the compulsory
prayers without which they would not be accepted by Allah… Such
abominable blasphemy continued from the year when Uthman was
killed, that is, 35 A.H./656 A.D. till it was terminated by orders of the
only righteous Umayyad caliph, namely Omer ibn Abdul-Aziz, one year after his becoming caliph, that is, in 100 A.H../718 A.D., for a
total of 62 years. Historians say that the public actually did not stop
cursing Ali (ع) even then but continued to do so for at least 18 more
years, extending the total to 80 years… Omer ibn Abdul-Aziz was killed
in 101 A.H./719 A.D. after having ruled for only two years and five
months because he was fair and just and, most importantly, because he
was sympathetic to the Prophet’s family (Ahl al-Bayt); peace and
blessings of Allah be with him.
Shortly after concluding the said treaty, Mu’awiyah lured Imam alHasan’s wife, Juda daughter of al-Ash’ath ibn Qays, into poisoning her
husband with the promise that he would marry her off to his son and
heir apparent Yazid. Juda killed her husband who died on Safar 28, 50
A.H./March 30, 670 A.D. She was cursed by the Almighty with an
embarrassing ailment for which nobody could find any cure.
Mu’awiyah, as expected, did not fulfill his promise.
Having succeeded in getting Imam al-Hasan (ع), Imam al-Husain’s
older brother, killed, Mu’awiyah sent letters to one of his Umayyad
relatives, namely Marwan ibn al-Hakam, a cousin of Uthman ibn Affan
and bearer of his seal, a seal which he used quite often for his own
gains and even without the knowledge of the aging caliph, instructing
him to obtain the oath of allegiance for his son Yazid as his
(Mu’awiyah’s) successor. By the way, the Umayyads succeeded in
making this same Marwan caliph in 64 A.H./683 A.D., and his
government lasted for seventeen months till it ended in 65 A.H./684-85
A.D. when he died at the age of 63 and was buried in Damascus.
Marwan, accordingly, delivered a speech following the prayers and
concluded it by saying, “The commander of the faithful (meaning
Mu’awiyah) is of the view that he chooses his son Yazid to succeed him
as your ruler following in the footsteps of Abu Bakr and Omer ibn alKhattab…” He was at that moment interrupted by Abdul-Rahman son
of first caliph Abu Bakr. “Nay!,” Abdul-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
shouted, “You mean in the footsteps of Kisra (Khosro, emperor of
Persia) and Caesar (emperor of Rome)! Neither Abu Bakr nor Omer
appointed their sons or relatives as their successors…!”
In 51 A.H./671 A.D., Mu’awiyah performed the pilgrimage then went to Medina where he called to his presence Abdullah son of second
caliph Omer ibn al-Khattab. His father, Omer , succeeded Abu Bakr as
the caliph in 13 A.H./634 A.D.; he remained caliph for ten years till he
was killed by a Persian slave in the month of Thul-Hijja, 23
A.H./November 644 A.D. He was succeeded by Uthman ibn Affan who
ruled for eleven years (till 35 A.H./656 A.D.). Mu’awiyah said to
Abdullah ibn Omer, “O son of Omer ! You used to tell me that you
never liked to sleep one night without knowing who your Imam (here
the word means “ruler”) is, and I warn you against spreading the seeds
of dissension among the Muslims or corrupting their views.” Abdullah
praised Allah then said, “There were other caliphs before you who had
sons who were not inferior to yours, yet they did not decide to do what
you have decided to do regarding your son. Rather, they let the
Muslims make their own choice. You warn me against dissension, and I
am not an advocate of dissension. I am just one of the Muslims, and if
they are unanimous regarding an issue, I will then add my voice to
theirs.” Having said so, Abdullah left. Then Muhammed, son of first
caliph Abu Bakr, referred to above, was presented before Mu’awiyah.
The latter started his rhetoric but Abdul-Rahman interrupted him by
saying, “All you want to say is that you wish we obey your son after
obeying Allah, and this, by Allah, we will never do. And, by Allah, we
shall settle this issue by mutual consultation among the Muslims;
otherwise, we will treat you as you were treated at the dawn of
Islam…!” Then he, too, stood up and left.
Yazid son of Mu’awiyah was born in 17 A.H./645 A.D. and inherited
his father’s post in 60 A.H./680 A.D. He ruled for only three years and
one month then died in mid-Rab’iul-Awwal of 64 A.H./December 14,
683 A.D. at the young age of 38. He was a playboy, a drunkard, and a
man who used to enjoy seeing animals fight. He used to play with
animals. Monkeys were dressed in gold-embroidered multi-colored
clothes and trained to dance for him, and he had salaried “officials” to
look after his animal collection. Such collection included monkeys and
race dogs. He was fond of gambling and wine drinking, and he
demonstrated disrespect towards the Mosque of the Prophet (ص) and
towards the Ka’ba itself, causing very serious damages to its structure
as the reader will come to know in a later part of this book. He forced
women to take their veils off and killed thousands of innocent people and encouraged the rape of women, girls, and children during the
uprisings that took place in Hijaz, particularly in the Harra incident,
details of which will follow. In short, Yazid did not have one iota of
respect for Islamic tenets or moral ethics. Strange enough, there are
some ignorant Muslims who sing his praise, justify and defend his
barbaric conduct…
This much gives the reader an idea about what type of persons Abu
Sufyan, Mu’awiyah, and Yazid were. Now let us review the brief
biography of their opponents

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