Indeed, the horrific event at Karbala is one of the saddest moments in the history of Islam and it has always brought tears to the eyes of the Muslims. On the one hand, this episode shook the Muslim World, whilst on the other hand, it has offered a very important lessons for the Ummah. However, in order to arrive at the correct viewpoint and to understand the lessons offered by this event, it is of utmost importance that we examine this event in the light of Islamic injunctions as well as the principles of ruling in Islam.
Firstly, we must comprehend what Islam has laid down with regards to the method of appointing a ruler. The only method Islam has established for the appointment of the ruler is the “Bayyah” (pledge of allegiance) and that is conditional based on him implementing the laws derived from Quran and Sunnah. It is through this Bayyah that he becomes the Khaleefah of the Muslims. Bayyah is the right of the Ummah whom can appoint whomever it wishes as a Khaleefah through this method. All four rightly guided Khulafah (may Allah be pleased with them) were appointed by the Bayyah of the Muslims to them. They only became Khulafah when the Ummah gave them the Bayyah without any compulsion.
There is no concept of monarchy in Islam and nor can any ruler appoint a Crown Prince as a successor. We must highlight that it is an obligation upon all Muslims to remove someone who usurps the authority without the Bayyah while the Ummah doesn’t accept him as their ruler.
After the death of our beloved Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr (ra) became the Khaleefah, then Umar, Uthman and Ali followed by Hassan (ra). Imam Hassan (ra) stepped down in favour of Ameer Muawiya for him to be the Khaleefah of the Muslims but Ameer Muawiya attempted to take Bayyah for his son Yazid during his life time. However, those Sahabah (ra) who were alive at that time rejected this action of appointing a successor, while highlighting the fact that deed is the Sunnah of Caesar and Khosroe and not of RasulAllah ﷺ. Naturally, after the death of Ameer Muawiya, the Ummah should have appointed a new Khaleefah after the consultation of Ahl Hal wal Aqd (the representatives of the Ummah) but this is not what took place. Instead Yazeed usurped the authority in the area of Ash-Sham, the stronghold of his father.
At that time, there were three centres of the Muslims, Madina Munawwara, Kufa and Ash-Sham. The people of Madina Munawwara and Kufa were in favor of appointing Imam Hussain (ra) as a Khaleefah, while the people of Ash-Sham were under the influence of Yazeed, bearing in mind that Ash-Sham remained the capital of the Khilafah under Ameer Muawiya for a long time. Imam Hussain (ra) wanted to take the Bayyah from the people of Madina and Kufa in order to achieve the majority, so he could challenge the authority of Yazeed, who usurped the authority unlawfully while taking away the right of the Ummah.
Imam Hussein (ra) viewed Yazeed violating the principles of Islam and starting a process that will result in the Khilafah turning into hereditary rule, leading to the weakness of the Islamic State. He observed that if this crucial knot of Islam was untied, then this will make way for the deviation from the rest of the rules of Islam. Hence, it was of utmost importance to challenge Yazeed. To increase his strength, Imam Hussein (ra) intended to travel to Kufa, whose people had assured him that they will take a stand with him. Yazeed tried to stop this attempt and while Imam Hussain was on his way to Kufa, he was stopped by the contingent of an army sent by the governor of Kufa, Ibn Ziyaad. Imam Hussein (ra) was accompanied by almost one hundred members of his family and the army tried to force Imam Hussain (ra) for obedience and left no door open for any reconciliation but Imam Hussain (ra) refused to obey and resisted the arrest and opted to fight with complete vigour.
The army of Ibn Ziyaad didn’t care at all that they were raising the sword against a personality about whom the Rasool Allah ﷺ said, «حُسَيْنٌ مِنِّي وَأَنَا مِنْ حُسَيْنٍ أَحَبَّ اللَّهُ مَنْ أَحَبَّ حُسَيْنًا» “Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein. Allah loves whoever loves Hussein.” The small convoy was outnumbered by the opposing forces and that led to the field of Karbala being stained by the pure blood of the Companions (ra) and the grandson of Rasool Allah ﷺ. This incident made Yazeed the flag-bearer of tyranny while Imam Hussain (ra) became a great example for the Ummah, for not bowing down to the oppression and injustice.
Lessons from the incident of Karbala:
The event of Karbala was not just any event that is to be narrated as some story. It was definitely not an event that simply becomes a means to inspire gatherings or to raise the emotions of the people, rather there are lessons for us to take heed. The sacrifice of Imam Hussein (ra) gives an enormous lesson for a believer that he must not accept a single violation in the ruling, from the rules of Islam. Accepting the compelling authority of Yazeed would have meant that one accepted distortion of the rule of Islam, which clearly states that the Bayah (pledge of allegiance) is the right of the Ummah and it is its right to appoint the Khaleefah without any compulsion. Imam Hussein (ra) stood firmly against the violation of this principle while what we see today that not only one rule, but the whole of Islam has been discarded from implementation as a state. Currently in the Muslim World, we have such rulers imposed on us who not only discard one rule of Islam, rather they have suspended the whole Khilafah system. Moreover, even that was not enough sin for them, they ally with the disbelievers in their war against Islam to stop the return of that noble state. If we want to take lessons from the life of Imam Hussein (ra), then it becomes incumbent upon us to account and challenge these rulers and strive for the re-establishment of the Khilafah (Caliphate) on the Method of the Prophethood.
And if this dreadful situation of the current state of affairs of the Ummah doesn’t move us, then we must look into our own hearts and ask ourselves this question, are we really the true lovers of Imam Hussein (ra)?
Usman Adil – Pakistan