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Causes of the rise of Imam Husayn

Causes of the rise of Imam Husayn

Truly speaking if we wish to find out the causes of the rising of the Imam we shall have to make a search for its preliminaries during a period of at least thirty years preceding that time, because about thirty years after the migration of the Holy Prophet, there had taken place such developments as had made necessary a movement like this in the Islamic society.

Uthman bin Affan Umavi ruled over the Muslims for about twelve years as the Caliph of Islam. It is clearly recorded in the history of Islam that the shape of the Islamic Government underwent a change during the six years covering the second half of the Caliphate of Uthman. In fact the Islamic rule should strictly enforce law otherwise the people should be free in all matters and no limits should be laid down for them except those prescribed by law. This Islamic method underwent a change and it assumed another posture that made the Muslim free in all matters, except that it was necessary for them to have regard for the interests of the ruler.

Taking advantage of this state of afairs the people began to amass wealth and property from the Baytul Mal (public treasury) of the Muslims. It was the same Baytul Mal that was guarded so carefully by Imam Ali during the period of his caliphate. The same policy was adopted by the caliphs preceding Uthman and even Uthman exercised necessary care in spending from it during the earlier part of his caliphate. However, later this wealth, instead of being spent on the general welfare of the Muslims, fell into the hands of a few persons. These were the malpractices, started thirty years earlier, which Imam Husayn decided to restrain in 60 A.H. by means of a sweeping and bloody revolution, which resulted in his own martyrdom and his everlasting honor.

Mas'udi writes in Murujuz Zahab that at the time of his death the Third Caliph left behind in cash 150,000 gold dinars and one million dirhams. However, according to the same Mas'udi, when Imam Ali was martyred Imam Hasan mounted the pulpit and announced: "My father has not left behind any gold or silver except 700 dirhams. This money, too, had been saved by him from his salary to procure a servant for his house".

Thereafter Mas'udi writes: "The value of the property owned by the Third Caliph in Wcidiul Qura and at other places reached 100,000 gold dinars. Besides it he also left behind a large number of horses and camels".

About Zubayr he writes: "Besides the well-known palace at Basra he built a large number of houses in Basra, Kufa and Alexandria and at the time of his death he owned 50,000 gold dinars, one thousand horses, one thousand slaves and slave-girls and numerous estates in different cities.

Talha bin Ubaydullah was a well-known companion of the Holy Prophet. His daily income from the property owned by him in Iraq alone reached 1000 gold dinars and according to another version it exceeded this amount. In Syria he owned even larger property.

Abd ur Rahman bin Awf Zuhari was one of the distinguished companions. He had 100 horses, 1000 camels and 10,000 sheep. At the time of his death he had four wives and as he had children also his wives inherited, according to the Islamic law of inheritance, 1/8 of the property left by him. This was decided between the four wives and every wife got 1/32 of the property. This 1/32 amounted to 84,000 gold dinars.

When Zayd bin Thftbit died he left behind such a large amount of gold and silver that it was broken with a hatchet and distributed among the heirs and the value of his other property was 100,000 gold dinars.

Yala bin Umayya, whose mother's name was Munayya, is also called Yala bin Munayya. The Battle of the Camel was started against Ali with his financial assistance and most of its expenses were borne by him. At the time of his death he left behind 500,000 gold dinars and the people also owed him large sums of money. Besides this the value of property etc. left by him was 300,000 dinars".

Thereafter Mas'udi himself writes: "During the Caliphate of Umar there was no such financial disorder and he did not permit these persons to grab all this wealth from the property of the Muslims. On the other hand everything was done in a straightforward manner and according to a clear-cut policy. In the light of the system of government and collection of wealth and its distribution among the Muslims none of the Muslims could acquire so much wealth.

After Caliph Uthman Imam Ali attained to the caliphate. The difficult task for Ali, on account of which battles were also fought, was to control these influential persons and not to permit any person any longer to take even one dinar from the Baytul Mal of the Muslims without proper accounting. He wanted to restrain the people from all sorts of covetousness, greed, and bad habits. For about four and a half years covering the period of his caliphate he had to struggle against these very persons who had been prevented by him from amassing wealth. He used to say: "It is no longer possible that I should be at the helm of affairs and this plundering should be renewed. On the contrary I shall recover whatever has been given or taken unlawfully and shall deposit it in the Baytul Mal". On this very account Ali was eventually martyred.


Peace Treaty of Imam Hasan

After Imam Ali, Imam Hasan attained to the caliphate. At this time the Muslim society had assumed a peculiar form. Their strength had been divided almost evenly, and if Imam Hasan had continued fighting against Mu'awiya neither of the two parties could expect victory without severe bloodshed. The result of such a fighting would have been disastrous for the Muslims. Hence, Imam Hasan was faced with a situation in which he had no alternative but to come to terms with Mu'awiya and prevent senseless bloodshed. If he had persisted in fighting it would have resulted in gain to the Eastern Roman Empire on the external front and to the Khawarij within the Islamic territories. If those 400,000 or 500,000 Muslims had attacked one another on that day and fighting with Mu'awiya had been continued only Allah knows what calamity would have fallen on the Muslims from the side of the Eastern Roman Empire and what dimensions the danger from Khawarij would have assumed, and what the history of Islam would have been!

Hence, Imam Hasan retired from the caliphate and thus safeguarded the blood of the Muslims and the strength of Islam, and prevented the external and internal enemies from taking undue advantage of the situation. This does not, however, mean that he surrendered to Mu'awiya and recognized him as the caliph and the Commander of the Faithful.

One of the conditions of the Peace Treaty between Imam Hasan and Mu'awiya reads thus: "Hasan bin Ali makes Peace on the condition that he will not be under an obligation to call Mu'awiya, the Commander of the Faithful". It meant that he did not recognize Mu'awiya to be the caliph and the Commander of the Faithful. Those, who think that by retiring, Imam Hasan bin Ali surrendered to Mu'awiya and Mu'awiya became the caliph of the Muslims and Hasan bin Ali also became one of his obedient subjects, should keep in mind this valuable narration by Ibn Athir which refutes this false belief:

"After Hasan bin Ali retired and Mu'awiya became the caliph, Farwa bin Nawfal Ashjaie Kharij, who had deserted the Khawarij earlier along with five hundred men and gone to the city of Zur said: "Now there is no doubt about the fact that we should fight against Mu'awiya's administration. As Mu'awiya has come at the helm of affairs and become the caliph we must wage war against him". They, therefore, marched towards Iraq and reached the palm-grove of Kufa. In the meantime Imam Hasan had left Kufa and was on his way to Madina. When Mu'awiya came to know that the said Khariji had revolted along with his five hundred men, he wrote a letter to Imam Hasan, possibly with a view to strengthening the Peace Treaty with the Imam. He wrote thus: "I understand that Farwa bin Nawfal Khariji is proceeding to Kufa along with five hundred men. I, therefore, direct you to go and fight against him and ward him off, and after you have vanquished him there will be no objection to your proceeding to Madina".

Imam Hasan received Mu'awiya's letter when he had arrived at Qadisiya. He sent him the following reply: "O Mu'awiya! You have appointed Hasan bin Ali to go like one of your officers and to ward off a rebellious Khariji. I, Hasan bin Ali, have retired, in the interest of the Muslims, from the caliphate, which is my right. If I had wished to fight against one of the people of the Qibla i.e. with a Muslim, whoever he might be, and to which ever sect he might belong, I would have fought against you in the first instance".

The Imam meant to say that he desisted from fighting against Mu'awiya in spite of the latter's being deviated from Islam as compared with all others. It will be observed that the Imam did not say: "I have recognized you as the caliph". On the other hand he wrote: "I let you go and did not fight against you". And possibly a better interpretation of the words "I let you go" may be this: 'I have set you at liberty in the field of politics and have myself retired only in the interest of Islam and to avoid the bloodshed of the Muslim i.e. I considered it futile that these two forces of Islam which are evenly balanced should fight and kill and weaken each other and be annihilated, and the external and internal enemies should take undue advantage of this situation '.

After the martyrdom of Imam Hasan, Imam Husayn did not also rise up in arms against Mu'awiya during the last ten years of his rule (49 -60 AH) and did not undertake that campaign against him -the campaign, which he considered necessary during the regime of Yazid. However, he continuously criticized and reprimanded Mu'awiya and denied his rightfulness to the caliphate in the same manner in which his brother Imam Hasan had done.

After the martyrdom of his brother Imam Hasan, Imam Husayn wrote the following letter to Mu'awiya that has been reproduced by Ibn Qutayba Denuri:

"O Mu'awiya! Are you not the same person who killed Hujr bin Ady and his pious friends unlawfully? They were the persons, who condemned heresy and ordered the people to do good and restrained them from evil. You killed them cruelly after granting them security and making firm promises and covenants with them. By doing so you defied Allah and considered the Divine covenants to be frivolous. Did you not kill Amr bin Humuq Khuzaie, who was one of the distinguished companions of the Holy Prophet? He was the man whose face had worn out and whose body had grown thin on account of excessive worship. You killed him after granting him security and holding out promises of safety to him. If such promises had been held out to the desert deer, they would have come down to you from the hills with perfect confidence."

Are you not the man who associated Ziyad, the son of an unknown father, with your father Abu Sufyan and called him your brother, as Ziyad bin Abu Sufyan, and supposed that he is the son of Abu Sufyan although the Holy Prophet has said: "The child belongs to the man on whose bed (i.e. in whose house) he is born and the woman giving birth to the child is married to him and the adulterer is to be stoned to death as commanded by Allah. And then you have appointed Ziyad to rule over the Muslims so that he may kill them and amputate their hands and feet and hang them on date-palm trees. Allah be praised!

"O Mu'awiya! It appears that you are not a member of the Muslim community and the Muslims have no connections with you. Fear Allah and beware of the Day of Judgment, because Allah has a document from which nothing, whether small or big or good or bad, is omitted and everything is taken into account. You must remember that Allah does not forget these acts of yours, that is, you kill people on mere suspicions and false accusations and have made a boy, the ruler of the Muslims, who drinks wine and plays with dogs.

"O Mu'awiya! I see that you have destroyed yourself, spoiled your faith and made the Muslim ummah helpless".

This was the manner in which Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn, the two sons of the Holy Prophet addressed and wrote letters to Mu'awiya bin Abu Sufyan and called him to account.

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