Hussain ibn Ali and Yazid, Please Elaborate
What is your view about Hussain and Yazid? Did Hussain have a right to rise against Yazid, what was his motivations? Was Yazid guilty of killing Hussain?
Based on my conclusion from the historical information that I rely on, in my view Yazid unjustly became Khalifah and he then put people in pressure to accept him as the Khalifah. He and those who were instrumental in making him a Khalifah practically contributed in changing the Khilafah system (that was supposed to be based on consultation) to an imperious kingdom system. This was against the rule of the Qur'an about Shora (consultation, being the basis of affairs, including selecting the head of the state, 42:38). Normally, one of the consequences of such imperious kingdom system is that gradually (and sometimes immediately) the main agenda of the ruling body will be to keep the authority within the family which then normally results in oppression and injustice. This is while establishing justice should be among the most prioritized agendas of a ruling system in accordance to the Qur'an (4:58,38:26). As Muslims, we are still suffering from the damage that such a dictating kingdom system has brought to Muslims and the rest of the world.
Hussain ibn Ali, a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt of the Prophet (pbuh) who was known as a pious person at his time, was put in pressure by the ruling system to pay allegiance to Yazid. Since he did not consider Yazid to fit the office of Khilafa he could not submit to this. This was the main reason that he left Medina and then Mecca. It is also evident from the reports that he initially trusted the invitation of the people of Kufa and headed towards them to create an alternative state opposing Yazid.
It seems to me that it was not just one reason that led Hussain into the journey that ended with his martyrdom. It appears to be a number of factors in play, each giving this journey a different color. I try to explain this briefly as follows:
- Stage One, from Medina to Mecca: It seems that the most influential reason that made Hussain leaving Medina for Mecca was simply to avoid being in a situation where he would be forced to pay allegiance to Yazid.
- Stage Two, from Mecca towards Kufa: Two reasons seem to be influential for this part of the Hussain's journey. One was that he felt his life was in danger due to not accepting Yazid, second was that on the basis of the letters he received from the people of Kufa he thought he could migrate to Kufa and with the support of Kufies make an alternative state to rise against Yazid (who had just started as the ruler).
- Stage Three, the last days near and in Karbala: It was at this stage that Hussain was convinced that those who wrote letters to him, under the influence of Ibn Ziyad the Yazid's appointed governor of Kufa, have really turned their back and that many of them are in fact now against him (i.e. Hussain). It was at this stage that as reported in the history Hussain dropped the idea of going to Kufa and rising against Yazid and based on some reports he even suggested to be allowed to go to Yazid and discuss the matters with him directly. Ibn Ziyad however did not allow this and demanded that Hussain should submit himself to him. At this point as a matter of principle and honour, Hussain rejected Ibn Ziyad's command. He considered it to be nothing but humiliation and oppression, possibly followed by execution.
Therefore, based on my understanding, a journey that started as an escape to safety and then a political move, ended in an epic, during which Hussain and his family and companions bravely sacrificed their lives to avoid humiliation and oppression. One may say that politically Hussain made a mistake at the start of this journey. This is a matter of opinion. However, in my view, from religious perspective not only Hussain did not do anything wrong, but he in fact did what many leading Muslim figures would do when they find that wrong people and a wrong system are attempting to rule Muslims and represent Islam.
In fact, to me, the resistance and death of Hussain and some of the members of his family and companions in Karbala also served as a Hujjah (clear reasoning) on why Hussain did not consider Yazid and his system and what would be resulted from that system, to be legitimate according to the values of Islam. This is why I consider his death to be martyrdom (Shahadah).
As for whether Yazid was responsible for the martyrdom of Hussain, I appreciate that Yazid was not directly involved in killing Hussain and based on some reports, never intended to do that. Based on the reports he did not approve Hussain's killing and expressed his sadness about that. He was trying to be kind and passionate towards the women and children who were left from Hussain's caravan. However the fact is that it was the system led by Yazid that resulted in such an awful tragedy. Although Yazid seemed to be disproving the killing of Hussain we do not read any where in the history that he made any attempts to bring those responsible, to the justice. In fact those who were responsible remained in their official positions. We also do not read any thing in the history that would suggest that he changed his ways as a lesson learned from the martyrdom of Hussain. Atrocities including killing of innocent people continued even in a bigger scale (most vividly in Madina and later in Mecca).
I therefore cannot consider Yazid to be innocent with regard to the killing of Hussain and his family and companions and I do not think that any alternative reading of the history could change this conclusion.
May God bless Hussain and be satisfied with those who sincerely defended him and his cause.