Role of Religious Deviation in Leading to Karbala

The Islamic community in the year the event of Karbalā took place, had greatly differed from that in the last year of Prophet’s life. The trend of deviation had been however gradual, according to many of researchers, the basis thereof was established from the first years after the Prophet’s departure. The foregoing deviations were in such a way that the politicians could avail themselves of them to not only delude the people but also justify their despotism. The ones who played a crucial role in the origination and the development of such deviations were the Umayyads.

The Islamic community in the year the event of Karbalā took place, had
greatly differed from that in the last year of Prophet’s life. The trend of
deviation had been however gradual, according to many of researchers, the basis
thereof was established from the first years after the Prophet’s departure. The
foregoing deviations were in such a way that the politicians could avail
themselves of them to not only delude the people but also justify their
despotism. The ones who played a crucial role in the origination and the
development of such deviations were the Umayyads. The power notably secured by
Yazīd revealed the fact that never ever had the Umayya believed in a genuine
Islam and their belief was merely a covering people had spread in order to
justify and concede their sovereignty.

Having accused the Umayya of oppression and enmity,[1] Imām Husayn (a) had
described them as those who “obey Satan, disobey Allāh, propagate misdeeds,
disregard Allāh’s specified rules and also encroach upon Bayt al-Māl (public
treasury)”.[2] In addition to creating corruption and ignoring divine limits,
they had distorted a large number of religious concepts and misused them. Here
let’s discuss a few of them which had impacts in the course of Karbalā according
to historical evidence.

Obedience to Imāms, the necessity of Community and unlawfulness of breach of
allegiance was three common political terms used by caliphs. It may be claimed
that the above-mentioned terms could have guaranteed the base and the
persistence of the caliphate. Anyhow, these three terms were right principles
among the religious, political and Islamic concepts of which observing for the
sake of the community was reasonably incumbent. Obeying an Imām denotes obeying
the ruling system. The question raised is that to what extent the ruler should
be complied with. Is it imperative that a just Imām be followed or an unjust
monarch ought to be obeyed too? Earlier we discussed it in detail while
considering ‘Uthmān’s caliphate.

Upholding Community implies avoiding disturbance or taking no action to
undermine the unity or pave the ground for the emergence of a shaky Islamic
community. The considerable question is whether silence should be kept before
despotic monarchism or a libertine ruler under any circumstances; in other
words, should any objection be suppressed relying on the fact that it spoils
“Community” and causes “disunion”?

Unlawfulness of breach of allegiance, namely fulfilling a pledge is heavily
underlined in Islam. Since breaking a pledge or an allegiance is prohibited
seriously, it stands to reason how much the role of which in political affairs
can be positive. But if the allegiance were not sworn to caliphs like Yazīd or
it were breached and consequently Community was ‘spoiled’, would it again follow
the principle of unlawfulness of breach of allegiance or would it basically be
an exception to the rule? As already alluded to, the Umayyad caliphs and later
those of Banū ‘Abbās by manipulating such concepts distorted and unconditionally
compelled the people to acquiesce to their sovereignty.

As stated by Ibn Ishāq, they were doing prayers (perhaps in al-Harām mosque)
when they noticed that Shimr Ibn Dhil-Djawshan had raised his hands saying: “O
Allāh! You are well-aware of my nobleness, so forgive me.”

“I told him, added Ibn Ishāq, how could you ever be forgiven whereas you have
aided and abetted in murdering the Prophet’s son?”

“What have we preformed?” Shimr reacted.

“It was the mandates of our commanders and we could in no way defy them”. Had we
disobeyed "we would be far more inferior to water carrier beasts.” [3]

Apprehending him, Ibn Ziyād told Muslim Ibn ‘Aqīl: “O outlaw! You have seceded
from your Imām and have sowed the seeds of discord among Muslims.” [4]

Muslim who never yielded to such a digression, riposted that Mu‘āwiya not only
did not procure the caliphate through the consensus of opinions of the nation at
all, but he overcame the Holy Prophet’s successor through deception and usurped
his caliphate.

When Imām Husayn was about to leave Mecca, the deputies of ‘Amr Ibn Sa‘īd Ibn
‘Ās, the governor, said, “Do you not fear from Allāh for seceding from the
Muslim congregation and for causing disunion among the nation?” [5]

“We have neverever ignored disobeying Imām, nor have we seceded from Community”
affirmed ‘Amr Ibn Hadjdjādj, a commander of Ibn Ziyād’s.[6]

Advising Ibn Ziyād’s army, he added, “Not ever fail to remember obedience and
union and at no time do you doubt about killing the one seceding from the
religion and being at variance with Imām (ruler).” [7]

Figures like ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar who was among the Sunnites religious
jurisprudents and hadith-narrators, had imagined that if entire people
acquiesced to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazīd, they would consent too.

He had given his assurance to Mu‘āwiya, “I shall oppose you unless people all
swear allegiance to your son, Yazīd."[8] He also had addressed Imām as saying,
“Do cause not disunion among Muslims!”[9]

Such individuals as ‘Umar and ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn ‘Awf’s daughter had written to
Imām to regard obedience with reverence and treat Community and its upholding as
urgent.[10]

Another religious deviation in the Islamic community was “belief in fatalism”.
Previous to the event of Karbalā this belief has been misused. In Early Islamic
Era, however, Mu‘āwiya had been the reviver of which or according to Abū Hilāl
‘Askarī he was the initiator of which.[11] Referring to the fact that Mu‘āwiya
is the founder of “fatalism”, Qādī ‘Abd al-Djabbār has quoted Mu‘āwiya making as
remarkable remarks[12] as follows, “This matter concerning Yazīd is a destiny
from among Divine destinies and no one has any volition in this regard.” [13]

‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn Ziyād asked Imām Sadjdjād (a), “Was Allāh not the One who
killed ‘Alī Akbar?”

Imām’s response was: “I had an elder brother whom people killed.”[14]

Once ‘Umar Ibn Sa‘d was objected why he killed Imām Husayn solely for the sake
of the Ray governorship, he replied that such an affair had been
predestined.[15]

When alive, Ka‘b al-Ahbār had been foretelling that under no conditions would
authority be secured by the Hāshimites, (although later both the ‘Abbāsids and
‘Alawites could secure it as an instance in Tabaristān). It has been quoted from
‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar as well, as saying: "Any time you realized that one from
the Hāshimites has secured the authority, conclude that it is that end of the
world.” [16]

References:

[1] al-Futūh, vol.V, p. 137

[2] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p. 171; al-Futūh, vol.V, pp. 144-15; Tārīkh al-tabarī,
vol.IV, p.304; elsewhere, Imām had stated, الا ترون أن الحق لا يعمل به وأن
الباطل لا يتناهي عنه Not you see how the gospel is not practiced but the credal
error is endlessly practiced?

Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.IV, p.305; Ibn ‘Asākir, Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn,p.
214. Also Imām had said, فان السنة قد أميتت وان البدعة قد أحييت The Prophet’s
Sunnah is dissolved while heresies are revived

Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.IV, p. 266

[3] Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p.197; al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, Lisān al-mīzān,
vol.III, p.151 (Al-Humayr al-saqqā’āt)

[4] al-Futūh, bol.5, p.98

[5] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.IV, p. 289; such adverse publicity had made, the
majority of people specially those from Damascus to consider Imām Husayn as an
outsider (the one seceding) and to accuse him of heresy.

[6] Tārīkh al-tabarī, p. 275

[7] Ibid. p. 331

[8] Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p. 167, as described by Mu‘āwiya, Ibn ‘Umar was
a coward (Ibn A‘tham, vol.IV, p. 260). He advised Imām Husayn saying “Do not
rise up, be patient, compromise as others did. See also al-Futūh, vol.V, p. 39;
Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p. 166.

[9] al-Kāmil fi l-tārīkh, vol.IV, p. 17

[10] Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p. 167

[11] al-Awā’íl, Askarī, vol.II, p. 125

[12] Fadl al-I‘tizāl wa tabaqāt al-mu‘tazila, p. 143

[13] al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol.I, pp. 183, 187

[14] Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p. 188

[15] Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.V, p. 148

[16] Ibn ‘Asākir,Tardjamat al-imām al-Husayn, p. 193

Source: An extract from ‘History
of the Caliphs
‘ by Rasul Ja’farian