Written By: Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shams Al-Din

1. The Eve of the Revolution

When people learnt of al-Husayn’s determination to revolt, they took up three different attitudes towards it.

The first attitude was the attitude of the Shi’a of the Holy Family. It was to urge the revolution, to offer it promises of help and support and to undertake some actual tasks for its sake.

We find evidence for that in the event of al-Husayn’s revolution when he refused to give the pledge of allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya and left Medina for Mecca. Indeed we find evidence for it even before the death of Mu’awiya, in the efforts of the Kufans to get al-Husayn to revolt and to rectify the situation-as they claimed-which had arisen as a result of the ratification of the peace treaty between Mu’awiya and Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali.

After the death of Mu’awiya, the assumption of office by Yazid and al-Husayn’s departure for Mecca, letters from the leaders of the Shi’a came continually to him. Other leaders also participated in this call and this urging, and their letters came in abundance to him. They dissociated themselves from the Umayyad governor, al-Numan ibn Bashir al-Ansan, and then they gave a positive response to al-Husayn’s messenger to them, Muslim ibn Aqil. Eighteen thousand of them pledged allegiance to him.

Many of them remained faithful to their attitude after the Umayyad regime had regained control over affairs in Kufa when the new governor, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, arrived there and took over from al-Nu’man ibn Bashir. He exercised absolute authority over Kufa with ferocity and speed. Some of them were paralysed by fear; some of them were imprisoned after the abortive movement of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in Kufa; some of them were prevented from joining al-Husayn by the blockade which ‘Ubayd Allah set up around Kufa; while others, who were able to slip through the cordon which had been positioned around Kufa, joined al-Husayn at Karbala’, fought with him and were martyred in his presence.

The second attitude is the attitude of members of the clan of the Hashimites and the attitude of some of the tribal leaders. As for the attitude of members of the clan of the Hashimites, it is portrayed by the words of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya and ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas.

On the eve of Imam al-Husayn’s departure from Medina, Muhammad ibn al-Hanifiyya gave him the following advice: ‘You should go to Mecca. If staying there provides you with security, that is what we want. If it should be otherwise, you should go to the land of Yemen. They are supporters of your grandfather, your father and your brother. They are better-natured and have kinder hearts …’

He received similar advice from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas when ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas said in a conversation which took place between him and the Imam: ‘I have learnt that you are setting out for Iraq. They are treacherous people and are only calling you to war. Do not hurry. If you refuse any other course but to fight against this tyrant and yet are unwilling to stay in Mecca, then go to Yemen. Write to the people of Kufa and your supporters in Iraq that they should drive out their governor. If they do not do that, you should remain there until God sends His commandment, for there, there are fortresses and mountain paths.’

As for the attitude of those who were not members of the clan of Hashim, it is portrayed by the words of ‘Abd Allah ibn Muti al-‘Adawi: ‘O son of the Apostle of God, I remind you of God and of the sanctity of Islam lest it be defiled. I adjure you before God concerning the sanctity of the Apostle of God and the sanctity of the Arabs. By God, if you seek what the Umayyad clan has in their hands, it will kill you. If they kill you, they will never fear anyone after you. By God, it is the sanctity of Islam which will be defiled, the sanctity of Quraysh and the sanctity of the Arabs. Do not do it. Do not go to Kufa. Do not expose yourself to the Umayyad clan.’

In principle, these men agree with the revolution but they are concerned about its results. Some of them-like ‘Abd Allah ibn Muti-are absolutely certain of its failure and express their feelings of consternation and alarm at the Umayyad audacity against everything sacred which will follow this failure.

Others are doubtful about its result and advise him to take refuge in places and among groups which will make the possibilities of success greater than the possibilities of failure.

The third attitude is represented by ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘ Umar and other such men of piety who have withdrawn from politics since the killing of ‘Uthman under the slogan of keeping away from discord, even though, by this attitude of theirs, they have rendered a great service to the existing regime when they made themselves into a party which was impeding the progress of revolutionary forces in society under the slogan of piety and keeping away from discord.

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘ Umar said to Imam al-Husayn: ‘Abu ‘Abd Allah, you know the hostility of this clan towards you and their injustice to you. The people have given authority to this man, Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. I cannot be sure that the people would not favour him because of gold and silver (which he has given them) so that they would fight against you and thus many men would be destroyed through you. I advise you to enter into the agreement which the people entered into and to be patient as you were patient before.’

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘ Umar and other such holders of this view were not from the Shi’a of the Holy Family. Nor were they members of that second group which believed in the justice of the revolution as a principle. In outward appearance at least, they were not supporters of the regime. They were only looking hostility at the revolution by starting out with a basic attitude in their public and private lives, which was the maintenance and acceptance of the status quo, not because it was just, but only because it existed, and because any change would not agree with their temperaments and interests.

2. The Aftermath of the Revolution

The Muslims faced the distressing end of the revolution and the consequences which followed (including the cutting off of heads and captivity) with three attitudes.

The first attitude was the attitude of the Shi’a of the Holy Family. They received the distressing end with sadness, regret and anger: they were sad because of the atrocity which had taken place at Karbala’; they felt regret because they had been remiss in their help and support; and they were angry with the Umayyad regime because it had committed a dreadful crime.

The interaction of grief with sadness generated in them extreme anger and a burning desire to atone, which they expressed against the regime and its supporters in poetry and speeches, and in revolutions which continued through generations. The slogan, ‘Vengeance for al-Husayn’, became a slogan for all revolutionaries against the Umayyads.

The second attitude was the attitude of the general body of Muslims who were not committed to the political policy of the Shi’a and the Imams of the Holy Family.

These met the disaster with shock and revulsion. The Umayyad techniques of dealing with their political opponents, as revealed in their suppression of the revolution, appalled them. These techniques showed no respect to law or morality, nor did they set any store in social norms.

There is no doubt that this discovery prompted many of the tribal and communal leaders to reconsider their attitude and friendship towards the Umayyad regime. Among such men was ‘Ubayd Allah ibn al-Hurr al-Ju’fi who changed from being a supporter of the regime, who had refused to answer the summons of al-Husayn when the latter had asked him to help him, by becoming a revolutionary against the regime, who wrote poems of lament about the martyrs of Karbala’ and proclaimed rebellion.

Even the so-called pious who had received the decision to revolt with lassitude and had given advice to stop it, even these men, were not able to maintain their previous negative attitude towards the revolution and were forced to follow popular opinion by showing shock and revulsion. Zayd ibn Arqam had been one of those present at ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s assembly in Kufa when the prisoners and the heads of the martyrs were brought in. He wept when he saw Ibn Ziyad poking at the teeth of Imam al-Husayn with a cane in his hand. When Ibn Ziyad rebuked him for weeping and threatened him, he declared: ‘O people … you will be slaves after today. You have killed the son of Fatima, and you have given power to Ibn Murjana (i.e. Ibn Ziyad). By God, the best of your men have been killed, and the worst of them have become masters. May God destroy those who consent to humiliation and shame!’

When al-Hasan al-Basri learnt of al-Husayn’s martyrdom, he said: ‘How despicable is an umma which has killed the son of the daughter of its Prophet!’

The third attitude was the attitude of adherents of the regime. These men received the news of the end of the revolution with joy and delight. They demonstrated their feelings of comfort and elation. Some of them could not desist from showing feelings of revenge and gloating.

Yazid ibn Mu’awiya showed his feeling of happiness and elation. Indeed it seems that he made the coming of the prisoners into an occasion for popular merriment in which music and songs were used.6 He could not hide his delight when the prisoners and the head of Imam al-Husayn were brought into him amid a lavish assembly.

The same is the case with regard to the rest of the members of the regime, like ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, ‘Amr ibn Sa’id b. al-‘As and others. They expressed their delight in expressions which narrators have recorded and historians have reported.

Soon, however, the adherents of the regime discovered that the matter did not give rise to happiness. It was not the simple matter which they had envisaged. This revolution was not just a simple insurrection which could easily be put to an end, and then the regime would rid of its dangers.

The members of the regime discovered that the failure of the revolution generated dangers which were much greater than those which had existed before. The whole situation exploded. The failure of the revolution made the Shi’a of the Holy Family become much firmer in their attitude whereas before, during the reign of Muawiya, they had been more inclined to peaceful negotiations and forbearance. Similarly in a way which got talked about so that Muslims heard it from one another, the purifying effect of the revolution produced a great change in the attitude of large numbers of the Muslims towards the Umayyads and their government. We consider that this change made these groups equipped to adopt effective negative policies against the regime after their psycho- logical attitude against the regime had developed.

When the Umayyads discovered this new situation, they began to take practical measures aimed at destroying the effect of this psychological activity which the revolution had produced in the community. This activity had begun to turn the umma away from friendship with the regime to the public declaration of attitudes which resisted it and its institutions and policies.

Yet the adherents of the regime discovered the danger of the spiritual forces, which were unleashed as a result of putting down the revolution by the savage method which had been followed, and they brought into play every means of seduction and intimidation which they possessed in order to prevent these forces from working against the regime. In contrast to that, the Shi’ite leadership with the Imams at its head had also discovered the awesome powers, which the revolution had mobilized to work against the Umayyads and annihilate their regime, and new circumstances which were appropriate to the success of this work. This leadership prepared to use its energies against Umayyad activities, by aiming at releasing the rays of the revolution and spreading its psychological influence among the umma to the furthest extent and the widest range.

In the rest of this chapter we will present a brief picture of the Umayyad activities which were aimed at thwarting the transforming effect of the revolution within the umma in order to move from that to the presentation of a detailed study of the efforts of the Shi’ite leaders, with the Imams of the Holy Family at their head, which resisted Umayyad activities and which aimed at stimulating the activity of the revolution to change the umma from friendship with the Umayyads and to rally against them.

We will see that the activities of the Shi’ite leadership were the ones for which success was ordained in the end.

Source: The Revolution of Al-Husayn, Its Impact on the Conciousness of Muslim Society by Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shams Al-Din

Source: aimislam.com

Source: almujtaba.com

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