If we chose to reckon Yazeed’s character in the words of Shakespeare, “reputation, reputation, reputation; I have lost my reputation and what is left is bestial.” Yazeed lost his reputation owing to three historical blunders chiefly that; out of his impiety and avarice, he rendered himself responsible for the sin of martyring Imam Hussein (A.S); the pious and pampered grandson of prophet Mohammad (S.A.W). By the same token he is bestial because unashamed of his previous misdeed he remained altogether doubly brutal against the grandsons and granddaughters etc., of prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) who some-how-or-the-other remained alive even after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (A.S) and his companions in the year 680 A.D. He imprisoned, fatigued, agonized, tantalized and perturbed them, where the ages of these innocuous souls ranged between as young as two years and as old as sixty years. Some historians count 22 kids who lost their lives falling from the galloping camels while they were coerced to travel from Karbala to Syria; a distance of 727 km. Here the Yazeed’s men would not allow the caravan to stop, or slow down so as to pick up the catapulting kids. Again, in Syria the caravan was forced to pass through the main bazaar so as to approach the court of Yazeed for further disgrace. This insulting manifestation took eighteen hours in the bazaar where the old women, patients and children were all chained, disdained.
The other two scandalous crimes to his credit are stoning at the building of Kaaba using Perrier and consequently damaging it, and then the act of massacre of the innocent inhabitants of Madina for three consecutive days. During these three days, the army of Yazeed was unbridled to randomly kill any Muslim, found anywhere; and lift any lady and then profit from her substance. Regarding these three most atrocious events, the historians present variant degrees of gruesomeness, but a vast majority weighs the first one as the ‘unkindest cut of all’, the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (A.S) at the behest of Yazeed.
In fact Yazeed’s appointment as caliph was questionable in its own place. During the reign of his father Ameer Muawiya, Yazeed’s demeanor of spending his youth was starkly in contrast with the teachings of Islam and the practice of prophet Mohammad (S.A.W), thus his father had already been sensitized by his own conscience and comrades altogether that neither his son deserved caliphate nor the populace would accept him in that capacity after the old and frail Muawiya passes away. Thus, one of the Muawiya’s closest advisors Mogheera Bin Shoba suggested him to nominate Yazeed during his own dwindling life span, enticed and elighted; Muawiya agreed to. To several historians and scholars, Muawiya heavily sinned committing this particular injustice against Imam Hussein (A.S), since the latter embodied the most appealing candidacy for caliphate. As a consequence, a time came when Yazeed rendered seventy two innocent and innocuous souls martyred who were just harmless for Yazeed’s usurped and illegitimate caliphate which was selfishly showered upon him by his father Muawiya. The act of damaging Kaba and massacring thousands of companions of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) and ruining women at Madina for three consecutive days are the felonies apart.
As the spirit of politics imbues satanic glut, soon after Yazeed’s nomination as next caliph, Muawiya started educating him the stratagems of ruling rather governing. He warned him about three towering personalities of Madina. One, Abdur Rehman Bin Abi Bakr, second Abdullah bin Zubair and third Hussein bin Ali (a.s). Muawiya would dictate Yazeed like this: ‘you need not worry about Abdur Rehman bin Abi Bakr since he is engrossed into worships all the times, but I alarm you about Abdullah Bin Zubair, he would hoodwink you like a fox and then will attack back like a lion. However Hussein (a.s) is though doubly pious, religious and worshipper and also harmless as yet, but he potentially might emerge lethal once masses convince him against you. He condemns ruling but may rise up as savior of the masses. If it comes that way, never ever spare him.’ Thus, the peaceful outlook of Islamic way of governing which was established by the first four caliphs of Islam, turned into an un-Islamic mode of ruling, and it aggravated over centuries to come, where the second phase of caliphate insinuated that is the Abbasids, akin to Umayyads. Thus apart from committing the above mentioned three horrible and ghastly crimes, Yazeed laid down the foundation of a form of government based upon brutality, injustice and kingship; merely because Muawiya had illegitimately appointed him caliph, just to prolong Umayyad’s rule.
To substantiate the horrific method of Yazeed and Muawiya’s ruling, the sermon of a rather better Muslim; Muawiya Bin Yazeed (the son of Yazeed and grandson of Muawiya) can be considered as epoch making. Unwittingly though, he succumbed to reigning, but fundamentally he was a god-fearing soul and detested the disgusting rules of game of such ruling. He abhorred the atrocities and materialistic stratagems of his father and the grandfather. Consequently, being thoroughly spiritual, he always longed for a life of piety, solitude and inner serenity. Thus after a couple of months he succeeded in pacifying his conscience and kicked off the kingship (and kinship) and stepped down from the reign and climbed to the acme of humanity. Later on he died at the age of 21, ‘my ayes are dazzling, he died too young’ John Donne.
In his historical sermon, Muawiya bin Yazeed condemned the ruling modes of his father and grandfather, and confessed that they exercised brutality against Imam Hussein (A.S) and his followers. He further said: ‘my father Yazeed and grandfather Muawiya never deserved the treasure and fruit of the Muslim state, they usurped it like bounty, and that too is over and they deserve no more.’
Now the question remains as to why Imam Hussein (A.S) was martyred at the first place? Some of our Muslim brothers commend that Imam Hussein (A.S) set out to Koofa from Madina at the invitation of the local people who had been sickened in the hands of unjust and unorthodox caliphate of Yazeed, and thus Imam rushed to fulfill his desire to rule. The fact of the matter is that such a mundane predisposition can never be expected from Imam where he had been nurtured within the holy realm of piety and selflessness first by his maternal grandfather prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) and then by his father Imam Ali (A.S) and prophet’s daughter Bibi Fatima (A.S). One must realize that prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) severally and substantially certified the sanctity of Imam Ali, Bibi Fatima and Imam Hussein (A.S). To quote one for each to which every Muslim sect endorses, the prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) said, ‘Ali is always with Haqq (Truth) and Haqq is always with Ali’, this implies that his opponents will always be Baatil (False). For Bibi Fatima (A.S) the prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) said she will be the chief of all women in heaven and then about Imam Hussein (A.S) and his brother Imam Hassan (A.S) the prophet said, ‘they will be the chieftains of all young Muslims in heaven.’ Now the question arises, since none will enter the heaven unless he is rendered young by God, therefore these two brothers will be the heads of every male in heaven. Thus the son of Ali (A.S) embodiment of Haqq (Truth) and of Bibi Fatima (A.S) the chieftain of all women in heaven and the grandsons of prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) in their absolute capacity being chieftains of youth in heaven, Imam Hussein (a.s) must be destined to be unworldly or heavenly, aloof of mundane aspirations and lusts, be it ruling.
Evidence-wise, the parents of Imam Hussain (A.S) that is Ali (A.S) and his wife Bibi Fatima (A.S) never eyed at material gains, even though Ali (A.S) had an opportunity to serve as caliph for some five years where he could have aggregated a lot of wealth. He further might have ensured caliphate of his elder son Imam Hassan (a.s) as Muawiya did for Yazeed. Rather, Imam Hassan (a.s) sacrificed his short-whiled caliphate in the hands of Muawiya’s wicked moves to rule through the handle of bloodshed and extend his influence to whole of Arabia along with Syria. Therefore Imam Hussein (A.S) would never be attracted by material objects, say ruling. Similarly, as advocated by Allama Iqbal in one of his Persian poems, that if Imam Hussein (A.S) had any intentions for obtaining rule, he must not have annexed his family along with him to reach Koofa. Rather, he could have traveled alone and after garnering the rule could have asked his family to shift to Koofa.
After having shed light on the legitimate martydom of Imam Hussein (a.s) at the behest of Yazeed, we need to contemplate in contemporary times. To conclude, the requisites of spirit of Moharram necessitate some volition which is over and above something which is just ceremonial, and so is subject to personal predispositions and diverse cultural and sociological dimensions. Following Imam Hussein (A.S), we need to inculcate a volition to seek fulfillment of God’s imperatives, and equally important to serve humanity at large; whereby remaining entirely harmless to all living souls especially human beings at the very outset. From Hafiz Shirazi:
Ma bash der paey azaar wa her che khawhi kun,
k der shariyat-e-ma ghair az een gunahey neest
(Do not tease anyone and do whatever you want to do, since in our religion there is no sin except that). History is evident that none from Ahl-e-Bait ever harmed or hurt any living soul even though majority of Imams was martyred out of jealousy of rulers who were needlessly scared of their spiritual and intellectual supremacy. In the end let us resort to the tradition of prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) that the similitude of his family members (Ahl-e-Bait) is akin to the boat of prophet Noah (A.S), whosoever will associate himself with this boat will win eternal success (Falaah) and will ultimately enter heaven, a life of eternity and those who do not will pay the cost as it happened in the case non-followers of Noah (a.s). What to talk of the status of Ahl-e-Bait: ‘It is enough for your unprecedented greatness that skipping supplication (Durood), voids the prayers and makes them null.’ [A translation of Arabic verse from Imam Shafaee (R.A)]