Karbala and Beyond 2

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YAZID APPOINTED AS SUPREME RULER

Yazid’s grandfather, Abu Sufyan, advised and managed the infidel’s
campaigns against Islam till the conquest of Mecca, as stated above.
His wife Hind (mother of Mu’awiyah and grandmother of Yazid) tried
to chew the liver of Hamzah, uncle of the Prophet (ص), because of her
burning hatred and cannibalism. Mu’awiyah, too, was an active
opponent of Islam. Indeed, Abu Sufyan’s family was performing the
strategic, financial and morale boosting in the infidel’s campaign
against the Muslims for many years. Their efforts, wealth and
diplomacy formed a great obstacle in the way of spreading Islam.
Time had lapsed and Mecca was suddenly besieged with the
considerably large forces of the Muslims. The unbelievers in Mecca
were stunned at seeing the Muslim fighters who had caught them by
surprise, thanks to the shrewd military tactics of the Prophet (ص).
Thus, the infidels, including Abu Sufyan, had no choice except to
abandon their arrogance and to accept Allah’s sovereignty, or so did
most of them pretend. Mu’awiyah was then 28 years old. Having seen
how his father “accepted” Islam, though reluctantly, he fled for Bahrain
where he wrote his father a very nasty letter reprimanding him for his
“conversion.” It is not clear when Mu’awiyah brought himself to
profess adherence to the Islamic creed. During this incident, i.e. the fall
of Mecca to the Muslims, which was accomplished on a Friday, the
20th of the month of Ramadan, 8 A.H., corresponding to January 14,
630 A.D., less than two years before the Prophet’s demise, historians
recorded some peculiar stories about Abu Sufyan’s family; however,
there is one thing certain: They accepted Islam unwillingly, and they
were treated in a special way on that account. For instance, they were
given more than their share of the treasury in order to gain their hearts
and win them over to Islam. But whether this generosity had any effect
in producing any change at all in their attitude is quite another story.
Indeed, subsequent events revealed the fact that no change at all had
taken place in their way of thinking.
Yazid was brought up in such a family whose atmosphere was
electrified with emotions of its dead who fought Islam and who were
killed mostly during Islam’s first major battle, that of Badr which broke
out on a Friday, the 17th of the month of Ramadan, 2 A.H.,
corresponding to March 16, 624 A.D. and to which the Holy Qur’an
refers in 8:5-11. Seventy prominent pagan Quraishites were killed in it,
half of them at the hands of Imam al-Husain’s father Ali ibn Abu Talib
(ع). That, by the way, was Ali’s first battle; he was 24 years old.
Among the Umayyads who were killed in it were: Utbah, father-in-law
of Yazid’s father Mu’awiyah, Utbah’s son al-Walid ibn al-Mugharah
(father of the famous military leader Khalid ibn al-Walid), and
Shaybah, Utbah’s brother. Al-Walid ibn al-Mugharah is cursed in the
Holy Qur’an in 74:11-30 (Surat al-Muddaththir). Utbah is father of
Hind, mother of Yazid, who tried to chew the liver of Hamzah, Prophet
Muhammed (ص)’s dear uncle and valiant defender of Islam. Add to
this the fact that such family witnessed how those who had killed their
kinsfolk received full honour, recognition, and respect by the entire
community, not to mention the wasted wealth, the injured pride, and
the loss of privileges which they used to enjoy during the pre-Islamic
period known as the jahiliyya. Yet Yazid himself had some unique
characteristics in the negative and adverse sense of the word in addition
to what we recorded above. He was known as a playboy; he is on
record as the first person ever to compose pornographic poetry. He
described each and every part of his aunt’s body for sensual
excitement, doing so without being reprimanded by his father or mother
or anyone else. Historians record his being seen drunk in public, his
committing adultery, and his leading quite a corrupt life, a life which
did not last for long, thank Allah. In one of his poetic verses, Yazid
stated, “The family of Hashim (the Prophet’s clansmen) staged a play
to get a kingdom. Actually, there was neither news from Allah (wahi)
received nor a revelation.”
Mu’awiyah was not ruling as an individual but was representing a way
of thinking which differed in nature from everything Islam stands for.
However, he was not satisfied to leave the ruling stage without making
sure that it was properly looked after. His pragmatic and materialistic
mind drove him to prepare for the crowning of his son, Yazid, as his
successor. Mu’awiyah had made many pledges not to install Yazid
when he saw the conditions at the time not conducive to such a plan
because Muslims were still politically conscious and desired to see the
restoration of the Islamic laws and values. Mu’awiyah, hence, had a
difficult job at hand before leaving this world. He, in fact, tried his best
to buy the allegiance for his son from his army’s commanders, tribal
chiefs and chieftains, and entire tribes as well as men of distinction and
influence, spending huge sums of money in the process. But his efforts
did not succeed with everyone.
One of his failed attempts was when he wrote Imam al-Husain (ع)
soliciting his endorsement for his appointment of Yazid as the heir
apparent to the throne. Imam al-Husain’s answer was a scathing
criticism of all what Mu’awiyah and Yazid had committed. Mu’awiyah,
therefore, forewarned his son Yazid to beware of Imam al-Husain (ع).
Yazid eventually succeeded his father Mu’awiyah as the ruler. Yazid
now spared no means to secure the submission for his unholy practices,
oppression and aggression, from everyone. He knew very well that in
reality, he had no legitimate right whatsoever to make claims or to issue
demands. On the contrary, he was guilty of having committed many
illegal and sacrilegious deeds for which he should have been killed, had
there anyone powerful enough to implement the Islamic code of justice.
Once in charge, Yazid took his father’s advice regarding Imam alHusain (ع) seriously. He wrote the then governor of Medina, al-Walid
ibn Utbah, ordering him to secure the oath of allegiance to him as the
new ruler from everyone in general and from Imam al-Husain (ع),
Abdullah ibn Omer (son of second caliph Omer ibn al-Khattab), and
Abdullah ibn az-Zubair in particular, being the most prominent
personalities. Yazid in an unmistakable language ordered al-Walid to
secure such an oath for him by force if necessary, and that if Imam alHusain (ع) refused, he should behead him and send his severed head to
him in Damascus. But al-Walid’s efforts were fruitless. Imam alHusain’s reply was exact and direct; said he, “Ameer (Governor)! I
belong to the Ahl al-Bayt (family) of the Prophet. Allah has consigned
to and charged us with the Imamate (spiritual and political leadership of
the Muslims). Angels pay us visits. Yazid is a wicked sinner, a
depraved reprobate, a wanton drunkard, a man who sheds blood
unjustly, and a man who openly defies Allah’s commandments. A man
like me will never yield his allegiance to a person like him.”

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