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History Imam al-Husayn and Karbala

Before replying to your question, let me explain some thing about Ibn-e-Jarir and his book.

Ibn-e-Jarir (popularly known as 'Tabari', 'At-Tabri') is one of the Sunni historians of 4th century of Hijra. He has collected in his history narratives concerning any given subject without saying which narrative he himself prefers. He has written in his "Preface": "whatever news is in this book of mine (which I have narrated from our predecessors) which the reader thinks strange or the hearer deems absurd (because he finds no way of saying that it may be correct and gets no meaning in reality), then he should realize that (that absurdity or falsity) has not come from us; it is from one or other of the narrators who narrated it to us. We have just written it as it was told us". (See page 7 of the Vol. 1).

Now coming to your question: It appears that your writer does not know Arabic and has never seen 'Tarikh' ofTabari. There was nothing wrong if Zainab (a.s.) became distressed in the night of Ashura. But Tabari (or more correctly, his narrator) added some sentences in between and writer of your booklet, because of his stark ignorance, has very badly twisted even those words. The result is a scene of such an 'absurdity' (to use the word of Tabari himself) that no man in his right senses can accept it.

For example:

Your booklet says: "What is all this, sister? I am afraid our faith and endurance are overpowered by our passion and devilish forces".

The words in Tabari are: "O sister, your forbearance be not taken away by Satan''.

Your writer says: "Zainab replied how could she control herself when Imam Husain (a.s.) was killing himself with his own hands".

Tabari has written: "Zainab said, My father and mother be sacrificed for you, 0 Abu Abdillah, you are resigned to be killed? My soul be your ransom''.
Note: It should be mentioned here that Shaikh Mufi.cl (r.a.) has given this incidence in his book Al-lrshad, and this particular sentence is not therein. Sheikh Mufi.d's period was just after Tabari.

Your writer says: "Imam (a.s.) answered that such was Allah's will".

Tabari writes: "and (Imam) said, "If Qata (a bird) was left to itself a single night it could sleep". It was a proverb to show that there was no way out because of the enemies.

In view of so much distortion from the source, we can easily say that this episode, as recorded in your book, is NOT in Tabari's Tarikh at all.

So far as authenticity or otherwise of this episode is concerned, I have already quoted the words of Tabari in his preface. Some times, some people mislead their readers by quoting the names of great authors like Tabari or Majlisi without mentioning the fact that the books from which they are quoting (like Tarikh of Tabari or Biharul-Anwar of Majlisi) are only a collection of all available material on a given subject, and that its inclusion in those books does not make them authentic.

One more proof of the absurdity of this episode is that it goes on to say that Hazrat Zainab (a.s.) fainted and Imam (a.s.) threw water on her face in the night of Ashura!!
For reply, let me quote Tabari himself:-

"Hani bin Thubait Hadhrami (one of the commanders of Ibn-e-Ziyad's army in Karbala) says that (Imam) Husain sent a message to Umar bin Saad to meet him at night between the two campsUmar bin Saad came out with about 20 people and Husain
came out with the equal number. When they met, Husain told his companions to stay at a distance and Umar bin Saad ordered his group likewise". (Hani says) Therefore, we stood so far from them that we could not hear their voices or their words. They talked a long time and then they went back to their camps with their companions. Then people started talking among themselves, on what those two people might have talked - but all was just guess work on the people's part; they suggested that Husain had told Umar bin Saad, "Let us go together to Yazid"(Hani goes on saying) People started talking
like this and they spread such rumours without anybody ever hearing anything like this or knowing what was said".

After one more narrative, Tabari has narrated the words of Aqba bin Sam-aan (r.a.). He was a freed slave of Bibi Rabab; and was a sort of secretary of Imam Husain (a.s.); he was present in Karbala, fought bravely, was seriously wounded. But he survived and was taken prisoner and is one of the original sources of the narratives of the events of Karbala. Tabari quotes him as saying: -

"I accompanied Imam Husain (a.s.), went with him from Madina to Mecca, and from Mecca to Iraq. And I was never far from him till he was martyred. And he did not talk with anybody a single word, (neither in Madina nor in Mecca; neither in the way, nor in Iraq nor in the army) up to the day of his martyrdom, but I heard it. By God, he never even suggested to the enemies any such thing which they are now propagating, like the thing which they suppose that he said that he would put his hand in the hand of Yazid or that he was ready that they should take him to any border of the kingdom of Islam. But he only said, Leave me, so that I go away in this wide world, till we see what turn the situation takes".
After copying all these narratives, Tabari copies the letter of Umar bin Saad to Ibn-e­ Ziyad which you have mentioned in your question. We know by the emphatic declaration of Aqba bin Sam-aan (r.a.) that Imam never suggested any such thing. And the whole nature of the battle of Karbala shows that there never was any proposal of accepting the authority or order of Yazid.

The same Tabari narrates in the same Tarikh that, on the day of Ashura, Imam Husain (a.s) gave a lecture before the army of Yazid, exhorting them not to indulge in blood-shed and not to kill the only surviving grandson of the Holy prophet. At the end of the khutba, he said; "O People, if you do not like me then let me return to the place of my safety': Then Qais bin Ash'ath said to Husain: Why not submit to the order of your cousins (i.e Yazid and Bani Umayya), because they will not show you but what you like (they will not treat you except in a way which you will like) and no evil will reach you from them. Imam Husain said: "You are the brother of your brother (Muhammad bin Ash'ath, the killer of Hazrat Muslim bin Aquil).............. "No by God, I will not put my hands (into theirs) like honourless person, nor will I accept (them) as do the slaves.

"O Servants of Allah, "I seek refuge in my Lord and your Lord that you do not stone me' (Qur'an 44:20). 'I seek protection of my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant who believes not in the Day of Reckonning". (Qur'an 40:27)"

Are these words those of a person who just 2 days ago had himself offered to submit to the order ofYazid? Remember what Aqba (r.a.) said and see how his statement is proved to be correct from all reliable evidence.

In view of such overwhelming evidence, one may only assume that Umar bin Saad wrote all those alternatives (without any basis, of course) just to please Ibn-e-Ziyad, perhaps in the hope that once Ibn-e-Ziyad postponed the battle and talk started, better results might follow. It is a mirror of the honesty of your writer that while he copies the letter of Umar bin Saad, he does not think it necessary to quote the rebuttal of Aqba (r.a.) or even Hani bin Thubait. A more charitable explanation may be that the poor fellow has never seen Tarikh of Tabari, and has used the name of Tabari to impress his readers.

I am not interested in the mental luxury of deciding whether Umar bin Saad was more sympathetic or not. All we care, and all that matters, is the fact that he was the commander of the army of Yazid in Karbala; and that when Allah gave him a chance to save himself from Jahannam, he refused to grasp the opportunity and plunged into the Fire of Hell. That opportunity was given to him when Ibn-e-Ziyad wrote to him that if he was not ready to immediately wage the battle against Husain, he should hand over the command to Shimr. He did not. Instead, he sent the first arrow towards the camp of Imam Husain, asking people to be his witness before Yazid that his was the first arrow sent towards Imam Husain (as).
Taqiyah is based on the principle of opting for the lesser evil. Telling a lie is not as big a sin as destroying a life. Therefore, a lie is preferable to putting one's life in danger.

Now, if safety of one's own life depends on endangering another believer's life then, by the same reasoning, Taqiyah is not allowed. Since one believer must die in either case, it is better for you to die rather than cause the death of another believer. And this will not be treated as suicide on your part.

By the same token, if there is a danger that one's Taqiyah may destroy the belief of other believers, then Taqiyah is Haram. It means that if someone is of such a status (e.g. Imam Husain's (a.s.)) that ifhe resorted to Taqiyah, others would be misled to un-Islamic tenets and beliefs, then the basic principle demands that he must sacrifice his own life to save others from going astray.
Yes. A book may be written about these premises; but obviously a letter has its limitations. Yet a few points should be clarified here:­ FrnsT: Is monarchy or hereditary monarchy really not acceptable to Islam? What will they say about Talut whom Allah had appointed as the "King" of Israel? (Qur'an, ch. 2, verses 246-248). The Kingdom was his to bestow on whomever he pleased. When Dawud killed Jalut (Goliath) in the battle, Talut appointed Dawud as his heir-designate. When Dawud died, Sulayman "inherited" the kingdom. (Qur'an, ch. 27, verse 16).

So here you find hereditary monarchy with all its ramifications.

SECOND: No system of government is inherently good or bad. It is as good or bad as the person holding the power in his hands. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had all powers concentrated in his hands; in modem terminology he could be called a "dictator". But it was a "dictatorship'' for which thousands of democracies could be sacrificed. It follows that no form of government provides a panacea for mankind's troubles unless it is headed by a sinless (Ma'sum) ruler.

THIRD: What democracy they are talking about? Abu Bakr was chosen by a handful of people. No body had known that there was going to be any "election''; nor was the place, date, time, or method of election announced. Even the prospective candidates were neither aware of, nor present at, the so-called "election': 'Umar was appointed by Abu Bakr, and people were ordered to do bai'at for the person whose name was inside a sealed cover. 'Uthman was chosen, supposedly by a committee of six, but in practice by one person. If all this was democratic, then what does the word, "undemocratic': mean?

FOURTH: Coming to our own side, we know that Imam Hassan (a.s.) was appointed by Allah as the second Imam to succeed his father, 'Ali (a.s.), the first Imam. But for those who believe in 'Ali (a.s.) as the fourth Caliph, there is a real problem here. If hereditary succession to caliphate was wrong, then why do they count Imam Hassan (a.s.) as the fifth "Rightly guided caliph''?

Now let me explain, in simple words, why in recent times many Sunni thinkers have started offering this justification for the stand of Imam Husayn (a.s.):-

In Karbala, there were two forces facing each other: Imam Husayn (a.s.) and Yazid. For the Shi'as, there was no problem. They believed that the Imamate belonged to Husayn by divine appointment and any one fighting him was wrong. But the majority of the Sunnis faced a dilemma. Yazid was appointed by the preceding Caliph, Mo'awiyah, just as 'Umar was by Abu Bakr. He was firmly holding the rein of political and military power in his hand; that was the same method by which Mo'awiyah is said to acquire the legal caliphate. Thus Yazid was a doubly-qualified Caliph, while all the previous caliphs had only one qualification each. Logic demanded that Yazid should be accepted a legally-appointed caliph, and any body standing against him should be called a "rebel': In fact a great Sunni scholar, Qazi Abu Bakr Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi1 (died in 543 A.H.) frankly had said: "Husayn was not killed but with the sword of his grandfather (the Prophet) because Yazid's bai'at had already taken place and Husayn had rebelled against him:'

But for the majority of the Sunnis, this was not a palatable idea. They knew that, according to the Qur'an and prophetic traditions, Imam Husayn was son of the Prophet and his flower; he was purified by Allah and could not commit sin; his love and obedience was obligatory for Muslims; and he, together with his elder brother, was the chief of the youths of paradise. How could such a sinless chief of the paradise's youths be called a rebel?

This tug-of-war between the teachings of Qur'an and hadith on one side, and the logic of their religious creed on the other, was fortunately resolved by the change of wind in the modern world when people started singing praise of democracy. Then intelligent thinkers, like Maulana Abul .A'la Maududi, began saying that Amir Mo'awiya had tried to pervert and destroy the Islamic democracy, and that it was to protect that democracy that Imam Husayn (a.s.) had accepted martyrdom.

This propaganda has been going on for a very long time, and with such zeal and fervour that even some Shi'a scholars have been hypnotized by it. It is really distressing to hear those Shi'a scholars parrot-like repeating this falacy without understanding its implications.

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