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Fatwa on Hussain’s Fighting Against Yazid

Question:

[1] What is the ruling on rebelling against authority?

[2] What is the Islamic verdict on Imam Hussain’s rebellion against Yazid? Was this permissible according to the Shariah?

[3] Also, what view should Muslims hold of Yazid? I notice Shia often curse him. Is this allowed?

Answer:

[1] The Ruling on Rebelling Against a Caliph

Throughout history, the Shia have rebelled against the Caliphs and leaders of the Ummah, and they have committed acts of grand treason and treachoury. The list of Shia mutinies is very long:

1. The assassination of Caliph Umar bin Khattab was carried out by Abu-Luluah, who is considered a hero by the Shia and they honor him with the title of “Baba Shujjah-e-deen”, which can be translated as “Honored Defender of Religion.” Today, millions of Shia visit his grave in Iran, and pass out sweets on the anniversary of the assassination of the second Caliph of Islam.

2. The Shia’t Ali of Egypt were fermenting a rebellion. When Caliph Uthman bin Affan attempted to quell the mutiny, the Egyptian Shia surrounded the Caliph’s house and killed him.

3. This led to the election of their Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib. However, the Shia’t Ali mutinied against him as well, in the Battle of Siffin. A group of the Shia, called the Kharajites, reneged on their pledge of loyalty to Ali, and eventually they killed him.

4. The Shia of Kufa would betray and mutiny against both Hasan and Hussain, eventually leading Hussain to his death. And Hussain’s grandson, Zayd, would also be betrayed by the disloyal Shia and was killed due to this treachoury.

5. The very first time the Muslims had to pay the Jizya tax to the Kufaar was when the Muslims faced betrayal by the Shia in the East, so that they were forced to pay protection money to the Byzantine Empire. Had the Shia not betrayed the Muslims, the Muslim armies would have crushed the Byzantines under foot, but instead they were forced to pay a disgraceful protection tax to the Kufaar.

6. In the 7th Hijri century, the Tatars corresponded with the Caliph’s minister, Al-Alkami (who was Shia). Al-Alkami conspired with the Tatars, and organized a plot, whereby Al-Alkami would deliver the Caliph in the arms of the Tatars. The Shia did this in hopes of overthrowing the Caliph and replacing him with a Shia. Al-Alkami convinced the Caliph that the Tatars were willing to sign a peace treaty. So the Caliph, his ministers, and his scholars all went to meet with the Tatars, who were waiting anxiously for them. Upon their arrival, the entire party of Muslims including the Caliph were killed by the Tatars.

7. In the 8th Hijri century, we see that the Fatimids (who were Shia) supported the Crusaders against Salahuddin Ayyoubi and the Muslims. The great Salahuddin had to first replace the treachorous Fatimids before he could free the Holy Land.

8. Tipu Sultan, one of the greatest Muslim leaders in Indian history, was betrayed by the Shia. The First Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, dispatched a Shia from Moradabad to Iran in order to create a Shia opposition group to Tipu Sultan.

9. The Mongol hordes were called in by the Shia, who hoped to replace the Muslim leaders with their own Shia. Instead, the Mongol brutes massacred the Muslim masses and pillaged Islamic lands.

10. The “Hassassins” were Shia. They were trained killers hired to murder Caliphs and leaders; they invented the modern day concept of professional assassin, and the English word “assassin” derives from the word “Hassassin.”

11. The Shia Safavids implemented a policy of genocide against the majority Sunni population. They then betrayed the Ottoman Caliph by supporting and backing the Western forces, allying themselves against the Muslims.

12. And there are many more examples.

Therefore, we see that with regards to the Shia, they have been a rebellious lot since the beginning of their existence, and many of their rebellions were supported by the infidels.

On the other hand, the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah rejects treason and treachoury. The general principle is that it is Haram to rebel against the Caliph unless he commits open Kufr (disbelief). The Ahlus Sunnah considers loyalty to the Islamic state to be a critical element of a Muslim. This is to prevent Fitnah that comes from rebellion and upheaval.

IslamOnline.net says:

It should be known that Islam calls for justice and abhors oppression and injustice, particularly if done against the people for whom one is responsible. Therefore, the ruler is enjoined to fulfill his duties and establish justice among people. The first among the seven categories to whom Allah will give shade on the Day of Judgment, where will be no shade but His, is a just ruler. On the contrary, a Muslim ruler who fails to fulfill his obligations and even oppresses Muslims is doomed to an awful destiny in the Hereafter.

However, in removing the oppression and evil of an unjust ruler, Muslims should be keen not to give way to greater evil and corruption. Therefore, the issue of overthrowing an oppressive ruler should be decided after a thorough study and calculations of the advantages and disadvantages in order not to lead to a greater evil, which should be avoided according to Shari`ah.

Elaborating on this issue, we’d like to cite for you the Fatwa issued by Dr. Ahmad Sa`eed Hawwa, professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at Jordan University, who states the following:

“The issue of rebelling against an oppressive ruler is to be decided after an accurate study of Shari`ah priorities. Muslim scholars in the past stated that this can be allowed if there is preponderance of probability that the oppressive ruler can be overthrown without inflicting greater harm. This is based on a well-established rule in Islam: “Fending off smaller harm must not result in creating a greater harm.” Likewise there is a rule: “Resort should be to the lesser of the two evils.” Only if these conditions are met and these rules and cautions are taken into consideration, then it is obligatory to embark upon overthrowing an oppressive ruler or agent; otherwise Muslims should bear patiently, doing their best to lessen the effects of his oppression and evil.”

Dr. Mahmoud `Akkam, professor of Shari`ah at Syria University, also states the following:

“A Muslim is allowed to rebel against an oppressive ruler in only one case, that is when they notice apparent, explicit disbelief in him. This is because a disbeliever cannot be given the oath of allegiance as a leader for Muslims, and this is an agreed upon Islamic principle that no Muslim scholar has disputed. Almighty Allah says: “Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah…” (Al `Imran: 28) He also says: “…and Allah will not give the disbelievers any way (of success) against the believers.” (An-Nisa’: 141)

Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported on the authority of `Ubadah ibn As-Samit who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) called us and we took the oath of allegiance to him. Among the injunctions he made binding upon us was: Listening and obedience (to the ruler) in our pleasure and displeasure, in our adversity and prosperity, even when somebody is given preference over us, avoiding to dispute the delegation of powers to a man duly invested with them (Obedience shall be accorded to him in all circumstances) except when you have clear signs of his disbelief in (or disobedience to) Allah (that could be used as a conscientious justification for non-compliance with his orders), and telling the truth in whatever position we be without fearing in the matter of Allah the reproach of the reproacher.”

However, if the ruler remains a Muslim (and he did not show or display any act of disbelief) but he is oppressive and transgresses against people’s rights, then Muslim scholars have two opinions in this regard:

1. That it is permissible to rebel against him;

2. It is not permissible to rebel against him and Muslims should bear the oppression patiently. And this is the opinion of the majority of Muslims in general. Each of these two groups has provided proofs in support of its viewpoint. However, the proponents of the second opinion gave weight to their opinion by considering the objectives of Shari`ah and by applying the juristic maxim that resort should be to the lesser of the two evils. This is because bearing the injustice of the ruler patiently will protect against the greater evil resulting from rebelling against him represented in mass bloodshed, loss of wealth, and different violations, not to mention giving the enemies of Islam an opportunity to attain their goals in Muslim lands. However, it is permissible for Ahl al-Hall wal-`Aqd (a group of honest, wise, experienced and righteous people who possess the right to elect or remove a ruler) to overthrow the oppressive ruler and choose another one if they are almost sure that this will not lead to extended or greater evil.

Moreover, obeying a ruler in any matter that is explicitly forbidden by Islam is not allowed, but rulers must be obeyed in anything beyond forbidden matters. Also, Muslims should enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil in a very wise way that leads to the removal of evil, not its increase, and they should be patient and steadfast in fulfilling this duty (enjoining the good and forbidding the evil), and this of course requires sacrifice and perseverance. Almighty Allah says: “…and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity, and persevere whatever may befall thee. Lo! that is of the steadfast heart of things.” (Luqman: 17)”

End quote.

Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio declared in “Wathiqa ila Jami’ Ahl’s-Sudan”:

“…appointing an Ameer Al-Mumineen (commander of the faithful) is obligatory by consensus; that obedience to him and his representatives (nuwwaab) is obligatory by consensus; [however]…fighting the apostate ruler who has left the religion of Islam for the religion of disbelief is obligatory by consensus; that taking the government from him is obligatory by consenus; that fighting the apostate ruler who has not left the religion of Islam because he ourtwardly claims Islam, but he mixes the acts of Islam with the acts of disbelief (like most of the rulers of Hausaland) is obligatory by consensus; that taking the government from him is obligatory by consensus.”

The position of the Ahlus Sunnah is stated beautifully in the following Hadith:

Sayyiduna Abd Allah (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A Muslim must listen to and obey (the order of his ruler) in things that he likes or dislikes, as long as he is not ordered to commit a sin. If he is ordered to disobey Allah, then there is no listening and no obedience. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 6725 & Sahih Muslim, no. 1839).

To conclude, the general principle is that a Muslim must obey the Caliph and be loyal to him, barring the following exceptions:

1) There is no obedience to the Caliph if he commands towards sin.

2) If the Caliph commits open Kufr, then it is obligatory to overthrow him.

3) If the Caliph does not commit open Kufr but he is oppressive and transgresses against people’s rights, then the general principle is that the Muslim should give him Naseeha (sincere advice) and counsel to turn away from oppression and transgression.

4) If this fails, then rebellion against the Caliph is forbidden if the rebellion has a high chance of failure and will therefore result in greater Fitnah (tribulation).

5) However, it is permissible for Ahl al-Hall wal-`Aqd (a group of honest, wise, experienced and righteous people who possess the right to elect or remove a ruler) to overthrow the oppressive ruler and choose another one if they are almost sure that this will not lead to extended or greater evil.

We read the fatwa by Shaykh Bin Baz:

Question:

There are people who think that because some of the rulers commit acts of kufr and sin, we are obliged to rebel against them and attempt to change things even if that results in harming the Muslims in that country, at a time when there are many problems in the Muslim world. What is your opinion?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

The basic comprehensive principle of sharee’ah is that it is not permitted to remove an evil by means of a greater evil; evil must be warded off by that which will remove it or reduce it. Warding off evil by means of a greater evil is not permitted according to the scholarly consensus (ijmaa’) of the Muslims.

If this group which wants to get rid of this ruler who is openly committing kufr is able to do so, and can bring in a good and righteous leader without that leading to greater trouble for the Muslims or a greater evil than the evil of this ruler, then that is OK.

But if rebellion would result in greater trouble and lead to chaos, oppression and the assassination of people who do not deserve to be assassinated, and other forms of major evil, then that is not permitted. Rather it is essential to be patient and to hear and obey in matters of good, and to offer sincere advice to the authorities, and to pray that they may be guided to good, and to strive to reduce evil and increase good.

This is the correct way which should be followed, because that is in the general interests of the Muslims, and because it will reduce evil and increase good, and because this will keep the peace and protect the Muslims from a greater evil.

Shaykh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baaz

[2] Sayyiduna Hussain’s rising up against Yazid

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari says:

As far as the actions of Sayyiduna Imam Husain (Allah be pleased with him) and his uprising against Yazid is concerned, firstly, it should be understood that according to the majority of scholars, the status of a heir to the throne (wali al-ahd) is only one of recommendation that requires approval from the nations prominent and influential figures after the demise of the Khalifa.

Qadhi Abu Ya’la al-Farra al-Hanbali states in his Ahkam al-Sultaniyya:

“It is permissible for a Khalifah to appoint a successor without the approval of those in power, as Abu Bakr appointed Umar (Allah be pleased with them both) as his successor without the backing and presence of the prominent figures of the community. The logical reason behind this is that appointing someone a successor to the throne is not appointing his a Khalifa, or else, there will be two Khalifas, thus there is no need for the influential people to be present. Yes, after the demise of the Khalifah, their presence and approval is necessary”.

He further states:

“Khilafah (leadership) is not established merely with the appointment of the Khalifa, rather (after his demise) it requires the approval of the Muslim Ummah” (al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 9).

In view of the above, the majority of the Umma’s scholars are of the view that if a Khalifah or ruler appoints his successor without the approval of those in power, then this is permissible, but it will only serve as an suggestion. After his demise, the nation’s influential and powerful people have a right to accept his leadership or reject it.

Keeping this in mind, the leadership of Yazid was also subject to the same criterion other leaderships are. His leadership could not be established after the demise of Sayyiduna Mu’awiya (Allah be pleased with him) until it was approved by the major personalities of the nation.

Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) from the outset did not approve of Yazid being designated a leader. This was his personal opinion that was based on purely religious grounds and there was nothing wrong in holding this view.

After the demise of Sayyiduna Mu’awiya (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) saw that the major personalities of Hijaz including Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) had not yet approved of Yazid’s leadership. Furthermore, he received heaps of letters from Iraq which made it clear that the people of Iraq had also not accepted Yazid as their leader. The letters clearly stated that they had not given their allegiance to anyone. (See: Tarikh al-Tabari, 4/262 & al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, 8/151).

In such circumstances, Sayyiduna Husain’s (Allah be pleased with him) stand with regards to Yazid’s leadership was that the pledge of allegiance by the people of Sham cannot be forced upon the rest of the Muslims. Therefore, his leadership was as yet not established.

In Sayyiduna Husain’s view, Yazid was a tyrant ruler who desired to overcome the Muslims, but was not yet able to do so. In such a circumstance, he considered his religious duty to prevent a tyrant ruler prevailing over the Muslim Ummah.

For this reason, Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) sent Muslim ibn Aqeel (Allah be pleased with him) to Kufa in order to investigate the truth about Yazid’s rule. His journey was not of an uprising nature, rather to discover the truth.

Had Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) thought that Yazid had imposed his rule and established his power all over the Muslim lands, the case would have been different. He would certainly have accepted his leadership without choice and would not have opposed it. But he thought that this was a tyrant ruler that had no authority as of yet, and can be stopped before he establishes his authority.

This is the reason why when he came close to Kufa and discovered that the inhabitants of Kufa have betrayed him and succumbed to Yazid’s rule, he suggested three things, of which one was “Or I give my hand in the hand of Yazid as a pledge of allegiance”. (See: Tarikh al-Tabari, 4/313).

This clearly shows that when Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) discovered that Yazid had established his authority, he agreed to accept him as a leader. However, Ubaid Allah ibn Ziyad was not ready to listen to Sayyiduna Husain and ordered him to come to him unconditionally. Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) was in no way obliged to obey his command and he also feared his life, thus had no option but to fight him. This was the beginning of the unfortunate incident of Karbala. (See, for details, Imam Tabari’s Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk & Imam Ibn Kathir’s al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya).

End quote.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid says:

When al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) was killed on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, he was killed by the sinful, wrongdoing group.

Allaah honoured al-Husayn with martyrdom, as He honoured other members of his family, and raised his status, as He honoured Hamzah, Ja’far, his father ‘Ali and others. Al-Husayn and his brother al-Hasan are the leaders of the youth of Paradise.

End quote.

[3] The Position of Yazid

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari says:

With regards to your second question that, is it permissible to curse Yazid?

Firstly, it must be remarked here that this is not an issue on which one’s Iman depends, nor will one be asked on the day of Judgement as to what opinion one held about Yazid. This is a trivial matter, thus many scholars have advised to abstain from indulging and discussing the issue and concentrate on the more immediate and important aspects of Deen.

Secondly, it should be understood that there is a general and accepted principle among the scholars that it is impermissible to curse a Muslim no matter how great of a sinner he is.

Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Cursing an upright Muslim is unlawful (haram) by unanimous consensus of all Muslims. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: ‘Cursing a believer is like killing him.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari).”

As far as the sinners are concerned, it is permissible (but not rewarded) to curse them in a general manner, such as saying “Allah curse the corrupt” or Allah curse the oppressors” and so forth. It has been narrated in many narrations that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) cursed sinners in a general manner. However, to curse a particular person who commits some act of disobedience, such as oppression, murder, adultery, etc, there is a difference of opinion. The Majority of Scholars Including Imam al-Ghazali hold the view that this is impermissible.

Yes, it will be permissible to curse a person regarding whom it has been decisively established that he died on disbelief (kufr), such as Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl, Pharaoh, Haman and their likes. (See: al-Adhkar by Imam Nawawi & Reliance of the traveller, P. 772-773).

In view of the above, if it is established that Yazid died as a non-Believer or he regarded the killing of Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) permissible and died without repentance, then it would be permissible to curse him. However, it this is not established, then it would not be permissible.

Indeed some scholars did curse him (Sa`d al-Din al-Taftazani, for example, See: Sharh al-Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya, P. 2845), but the majority of the Ulama have cautioned against cursing him. Firstly, because it has not been decisively established that Yazid himself killed or ordered the unfortunate killing of Sayyiduna Hussain (Allah have mercy on him). There are some reports that he expressed his remorse on the actions of his associates, and even if he did, then murder and other sins do not necessitate Kufr.

Imam al-Ghazali (Allah have mercy on him) states that it is even impermissible to say that Yazid killed or ordered the killing of Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) let alone curse him, as attributing a Muslim to a sin without decisive evidence is not permissible. (See: Sharh Bad al-Amali by Mulla Ali al-Qari, P. 123-125).

He further states:

“If it is established that a Muslim killed a fellow Muslim, then the understanding of the people of truth is that he does not become a Kafir. Killing is not disbelief, rather a grave sin. It could also be that a killer may have repented before death. If a disbeliever dies after repentance, then it is impermissible to curse him, then how could it be permissible to curse a Muslim who may have repented from his sin. And we are unaware whether the killer of Sayyiduna Husain (Allah be pleased with him) died before or after repentance”. (ibid).

End quote.

In regards to Sayyiduna Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) and Yazid, there can be no comparison between the two. Sayyiduna Hussain (Allah be pleased with him) is the chief of the youth of Paradise, and the Ahlus Sunnah is agreed on his great attributes. On the other hand, Yazid’s status in the Hereafter is unknown. Therefore, the safest position is to pray for Sayyiduna Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) and to remain silent on Yazid. The importance of remaining cautious before condemning Yazid stems from the fact that many of the reports used against him have been provided by the Shia, who are known for their Ghullat tendencies (i.e. exaggeration). They are therefore unreliable.

The issue of Karbala and Yazid has become one of mythical proportions to the Shia, who have ascribed fairy-tales to the event. Ibn Kathir said in al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya (8:201-202): “Al-Tabarani mentioned in this chapter very strange reports indeed and the Shia went overboard concerning the day of Ashura, forging many hadiths that are gross lies such as the sun being eclipsed on that day until the stars appeared, no stone was lifted except blood was seen under it, the celestial region became red, the sun and its rays seemed like blood, the sky seemed like a blood clot, the stars were hurling against one another, the sky rained red blood, there was never redness in the sky before that day, and the like… among other lies and forgeries of which not one report is sound.”

The Shia, in their quest to show support for Sayyiduna Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him), have gone to extremes in casting Yazid as a diabolically evil character sparing no insult against him. The Shia have even said that Yazid was a homosexual, was impotent, was a bastard child, was a drunkard, was a sodomite, and many other childish attacks, many of which they also use against Sayyiduna Umar bin Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). It is therefore possible (and highly probable) that in the same manner that these are lies against Sayyiduna Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), then maybe these are also lies against Yazid.

If we were to judge Yazid, we could not use reports that are highly questionable (i.e. from the Shia). Allah Almighty says in the Quran: “O you who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done.” (Quran, 49:6) This verse would include the Shia, who are known for their lies and slander.

We should not take our history from the Shia who are known to be Ghullat (exaggerators). They have historical records which are so polarized that Sayyiduna Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) and Yazid become comic book characters. On the one hand, Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is described as a super-hero who can split the earth’s core open with his sword and the angels couldn’t even stop him; according to the exaggerating Shia, Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) single-handedly shook an entire fort down with his bear hands. And on the other hand, the Shia call Sayyiduna Umar bin Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) to be a sodomite and a pervert, and many other dreadful things. The Shia exaggerate and make everything into a fairy-tale between good and evil. So how can we use the Shia accounts of history seriously, and how can we pass judgement on a person based on obvious exaggerations?

Nobody can take a time machine and go back in time to see what really happened to confirm which of the conflicting historical reports is accurate. Slander is a very big deal in Islam, and Allah Almighty will not forgive slander without the permission of the person we slandered. So what if we are wrong about Yazid and the reports against him are from the likes of Abdullah ibn Saba who sensationalized things? What then? Do we really want to be held accountable for that?

And what benefit is it to slander Yazid? What effect does Yazid have on one’s Deen? The only thing insulting him does is make one’s heart full of senseless hatred. We wonder why the Shia waste their time in this useless endeavor. We refrain from insulting Yazid as it serves no benefit and again we have not been given the ability to look into the hearts. The best answer to when someone asks about Yazid is “Wallahu Aalim” (Only Allah knows).

The Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah does not condone cursing Muslims. It seems that the Shia culture revolves around cursing Muslims. This includes the Three Caliphs, Sahabah, the Ansar, the Prophet’s wives, and many others, whom the Shia spend day and night invoking curses and damnation on these Muslims. The Shia obsession with sending curses and “lanats” on people is very absurd and disconcerting. Islam is about peace and kindness, and we should not indulge ourselves in spiteful hatred, vengeful rhetoric, and violent self-mutilation.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari says:

Therefore, it would best be to abstain from cursing Yazid, as there is no reward in cursing him, rather one should abstain from discussing about him altogether and concentrate on more practical aspects of Deen. May Allah Almighty give us the true understanding of Deen, Ameen.

End quote.

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