Hussain (AS) and caliphate

In 656, when Osman, the third caliph was killed by a revolting mob, Husain’s father Imam Ali(AS) was compelled by the people of Madinah overwhelmingly to take the reigns of power. Imam Ali(AS) was reluctant and waited for three days before accepting the mantle of worldly power along with the authority of Imamah. (AS).

Circumstances changed rapidly and within the first 6 month of Imam Ali’s Khilafat he had to leave Madinah for Basra and the battle of Jamal took place. We see that Hussain(AS) who took no part in any battles before, was a commander of Ali’s forces in this first battle under his father’s leadership. Fighting began and ended in just one day, the battle was over, Imam Ali(AS) performed funeral prayers on dead of both sides and buried them. Victors and vanquished were treated the same way. Hazrat Ayesha was returned to Madina under the escort of her brother Muhammad Ibne Abibakr and 40 other men. She repented her participation in the battle all her life and never forgave Talha and Zubair who deceived her into this battle against Ali(AS). She also realized that the true instigator of this battle was Muawiya under whose directions both Talha and Zubair started this whole adventure against the legitimately elected Caliph of Islam. It was to destabilize the power base of Islam which was the Khilafat of Imam Ali(AS). When he did not succeed in this he began other tactics to do the same. His bands of soldiers raided many parts of Iraq to burn and loot villages and destroy communities. Imam Ali(AS) had no choice but to prepare for battle with Muawiya.

The battle of Siffin took place in the 2nd year of Ali’(AS) Khilafat and Hussain(AS) took full part. He was the commander of a garrison of 10,000 men along with his elder brother Hasan(AS) and Muhammad (Hanafiya). It was Imam Ali’s practice to put his other son Muhammad-e-Hanafiya in the forefront and save the lives of these two grandsons of the Prophet. Nevertheless they took full part in these battles and fought with great bravery.

The 3rd battle during the Khilafat of Ali (AS) was the battle of Nehrwan fought against the Khawarij. This was also over in just one day with total defeat of Khawarij. Imam Ali (AS) returned to Kufa and the main administration of the Islamic Welfare State began. Both brothers were the chief administrators of this Welfare State where they would seek out those poor destitute within the state and provide them with the necessities of life. While living with his father in Kufa, Hussain (AS) visited various northern part of the Islamic State. One story goes to say that he visited Azerbaijan and part of Iran of that time.

Imam Ali (AS) was a caliph for four years and ten months only, during this short period he faced continual challenges from the group of Muawiyah and other contenders. In 661 Imam Ali(AS) was assassinated by Ibn Muljim, in the mosque of kufa.

Imam Ali (AS) followers,proclaimed that his eldest son Imam Hassan(AS) should be the caliph.

Imam Hussain (AS) life with his elder brother Hasan(AS) began in Madina. They still have the Trust state which was established by his father and both brothers administered it jointly. Hussain (AS) visited Makka and performed Hajj 9 times during the life time of his brother. After the martyrdom his brother Hasan (AS) Hussain (AS) took the mantle of Imamat and spiritual guidance of the Ummah. It is during this period that during one of his journeys to Makka for pilgrimage, his famous Duas (Supplication) of Arafah became famous. This is a Dua which at the place of Arafat during the Hajj ritual that Imam recited and many pilgrims heard it and instantly memorised it as was the practice of the people of that time. Qur'an was also memorised in the same manner and many Sermons of Imam Ali(AS) were also memorised by people. This Dua of Arafa became famous because of its deep insight into the realms of spirituality of Islam and its total dependence upon Allah’s Will and Power. This also gives insight into the reasons why Imam Hussain(AS) left Makka for Kerbala. The following extract shows this feeling of the Imam towards reform of the Umma of his grandfather,

“O’God: you know that our struggle, moves, protests, and campaigns have not been, and are not, for the sake of rivalry and for obtaining power, neither are they for the sake of personal ambition nor for wordly ends, nor for the purpose of accumulating wealth and acquiring wordly advantages. “ Then what is their purpose? Imam states the purpose in these words.
“To establish the landmarks of Your Deen, to make reforms manifest in Your lands, so that the oppressed among Your servants may have security, and Your laws, which have been suspended and cast into neglect, may be reinstated.”

Further on in this same Dua the Imam calls upon his creator to show his total dependence upon Him.
O’He, upon whom I called when I was sick and He healed me, when naked, He clothed me, when hungry He fed me, when thirsty He gave me drink, when abased He exalted me, when ignorant, He gave me knowledge, when alone He provided companion, when away from home He returned me home, when empty handed He enriched me, when in need of help He helped me, when rich He took not from me”. This kind of complete dependence upon God which is the Hallmark of Islamic teachings, was taught by the Imam to the people of Madinah and Makka, and the whole of Hejaz he visited..

Once a baduin asked Imam what is the best thing to do. Imam replied, ” Belief in God”. He asked again, what is the best means of deliverance from destruction, Imam said,”Trust in God”. The man asked, what is man’s ornament, Imam replied,” knowledge associated with intelligence”. The man insisted, if this be not available, what then, Imam replied,” Wealth accompanied with generosity”. What if this be out of reach, Imam said, “Poverty allied with patience”. What if this be not practicable?, Imam smiled and said, let the lightening consume the man to ashes. He then gave whatever money he had with him to fulfil his needs.

Muawiyah had fought Ali for the leadership of the empire and now prepared to fight Imam Hassan(AS). After a few inconclusive skirmishes between the armies of Hassan and Muawiyah,Hassan,to avoid agonies of another civil war,signed a treaty with Muawiyah and relinquished the control of what had turned into an Arabian kingdom; while not having pledged his allegiance to Muawiyah. Even after taking such a stance, Hassan was poisoned and killed in 669 by Muawiyah.

Imam Hussain(AS) became the third Imam for a period of ten years after death of his brother Imam Hassan in 669AD.

It was in the month of Rajab 60 Hijri 680AD that Muawiyah died and his son Yazid succeeded his father on the throne of the Arab Empire with Damascus as its capital.

Moawiya in his cleverness had told Yazid that” whatever you do when you become ruler after my death, do not ask Hussain Ibne Ali for the oath of allegiance. Leave him where he is and you will have no problems.” But Yazid in his arrogance of power did not bother to remember the wishes of his father. The very first thing he did was to write a letter to his Governor in Madinah informing him of his succession to the throne of his father and ordering him to take the Oath of Allegiance from Hussain Ibne Ali (AS). Yazid realized that although he had full temporal power and is the virtual ruler of the Arab Empire, but he has no spiritual strength unless the grandson of the Prophet accepts him as such. People in Makka and Madinah would still regard Hussain(AS) as their leader if only spiritually.

Walid Ibne Ataba the Governor of Madinah receives this letter on 26th of Rajab 60 Hijri. It was dusk and people were getting ready for Maghrib prayers. Walid immediately sent a messenger to Imam’s house and called him to the palace. Imam realised the seriousness of the situation and took his brothers and sons with him. When they arrived at the gate of the palace Imam asked them to stay outside and wait and only enter the gates when they hear Imam speak loudly. After these instructions Imam entered the palace. There was Walid sitting in his high chair with Merwan Ibnul Hakam by his side. Imam asked, “What is the matter that I was called at this hour”. Walid mentioned Moawiya’s death, Yazid’s accession to the throne and the demand for Imam’s oath of allegiance. Imam replied that this is not the matter which can be done in the solitude of the palace, let this matter be brought before the people of Madinah next day in the mosque of the Prophet. Imam stood up to leave while Merwan who was listening to this conversation did not like it and warned Walid that if he lets Hussain go he will loose him. Take the oath now or cut his head off as Yazid suggested in his letter. Imam after hearing this remark from Merwan told Walid loudly,” A person like me would not give the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid who had violated all tenets of Islam”. As Imam said these words loudly, his brothers and sons entered the palace and they all left safely.

Imam realised after consulting his friends and relatives that the life of peace for them in Madinah was over.