The ruthless Yazid or treacherous Shi’ates: Who murdered Husain ibn Ali (r)

By: Ashique Nilambur

The month of Muharram is here. For some people, this is the most important month of the year and 10th of the month the most important day. The tragedy of Karbala can be heard from different part of the world. Repeating the day of Karbala and the martyrdom of Husain ibn Ali (r), mourning over it has traditionally been a characteristic of shi’ates. They celebrate the day with great passion and ordeal.

Despite the huge interest the subject enjoys, the incident is often portrayed as a battle against the Sunnis and the Shi’ates; depicting Yazid as leader of the Sunnis and Husain as the leader of Shi’ates. However, an authentic inspection of the Muslim history provides a different view.

The tragedy of Karbala

After the death of Ali (r), his son Hasan (r) succeeded the throne, but, in order to drive away a great tribulation, Hasan ibn Ali (r) and Mua’aviyah ibn Abi Sufyan (r), came to a reconciliation leading to the leadership of Mua’aviyah (r). The supporters of Ali (Shi’eeth Ali and the ahlul Bayth) who were with Hasan (r) settled in Kufa.

In Hijra 60, following the death of Mua’aviyah the governance was passed on to Yazid Ibn Mua’aviyah, which most Muslims were against including the living sahaba. The Shi’ates of Kufa, whose pro- Ali sentiments were still aplenty, turned to Husain ibn Ali (r) to lead them against Yazid.

12, 000 letters from Kufa came to the house, where Husain (r) was staying, assuring him of their fidelity and allegiance. Husain sends his cousin, Muslim ibn Aqeel to probe the situation in Kufa. In Dhul Qa’adah, when he ibn Aqeel reached Kufa, 18,000 Kufans offered solemn pledge to support and protect Husain with their wealth and life, which in turn gave Ibn Aqeel the confidence and sent message to Husain urging him to advance to Kufa and accept the Baya’h. In spite of the pleading of many Meccans, that which includes, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Jabir ibn ‘Abdillah, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, his own brother, Muhammad, and his brother-in-law and cousin , ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far, he started the journey to Kufa.

In the meantime, Yazid came to know the events in Kufa and immediately sent order to the governor of Kufa, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad to find ibn Aqeel and kill him. Ibn Ziyad entered Kufa with 17 horsemen. Ibn Ziyad was captured by Ibn Ziyad behind the absconding and deceit of Shi’ates. Ibn Aqeel tried to send a letter to Husain with the following statements: “Go back with your family. Do not be deceived by the people of Kufa. They are those supporters of your father from whom he so dearly wished to separate, by death or by being killed. The Kufans have lied to me and have lied to you, and liars have no sense.” 

On the 9th of Dhul Hijjah on the Day of Arafah, Muslim ibn Aqeel’s head fell down from the rampart to the dust in the full view of those who invited and gave commitment to Husain. After Tahlil, tasbih, takbir and isthigfar the last words of Ibn Aqeel was: “O Allah, you be the judge between us and our people.”

Meanwhile Husain dispatched a messenger, Qays ibn Mushir to inform his arrival, who later was arrested and killed by Ibn Ziyad. Even then, the Shi’ates did not move. It was 18,000 shi’ates against eighteen of the Ibn Ziyad’s horsemen, 1000 against one. Yet not a single sword was raised in defense of Muslim ibn Aqeel or for Ibn Mushir.

In the interim, in Dhul Hijjah 8th, Husain set out for Kufa. On the way, Husain was shocked to hear the death of Ibn Aqeel and the treachery of Kufans. So he changed his direction to Karbala, which was intercepted by Ibn Ziyad’s army consisting 4000 men and adding to it, the same Kufans. Witnessing such treason Husain said: “I did not come to Kufa without being asked to come. I received numerous letters from you stating you had no imam and you asked me to come. So it was obligatory upon you to stick to your promise and to obey me, but you broke the promise and your pledge of allegiance to me. This is not something strange or new to us, as you people proved disloyal and treacherous to my father, my brother (Hasan) and my cousin, Muslim. If you did not wish for me to come, then I will return back to where I came from.”[i] Although, the Kufans denied any letter being sent, for which Husain called out names, took out their letters, read it aloud and said “now when I have arrived here you are adamant on killing me.”[ii]

On 10th Muharram, the sands of Karbala were stained red with blood of Husain and his 71 followers from Mecca.

It is very obvious that the shi’ates had a crucial role in the bloodshed of Husain and the Ahlul Bayth and this is why they lament and mourn on every Muharram 10th, lamentation for their sinful treachery. The Shi’ates for revealing this fact accuses Ahl- Sunnah of loving Yazid ibn Mua’aviyah. So, Do Ahl- Sunnah loves Yazid over Husain (r) and the ahlul Bayth? Before responding to this accusation, Ahl- Sunnah’s view on Husain is briefly discussed next.

Husain Ibn Ali (r)

Husain Ibn Ali was a companion[iii] of the Prophet (S), his grandson and the one who the Prophet (S) attributed as the ‘masters of the youth of Paradise’[iv]. In another instance, the Prophet (S) prayed: “These (Hasan and Husain) are my sons and mu daughter’s sons. O Allah, I love them, so love them, and love whoever loves them.”[v] Another narration mentions Husain ibn Ali directly where our Prophet (S) said: “Husain (r) is from me and I am from him; Allah loves one who loves Husain.”[vi]And Ahl- Sunnah loves Husain ibn Ali (r).

Yazid over Husain??

Ahl- Sunnah does not make takfir[vii] on Yazid ibn Mua’aviyah as some of the people do, for the conditions for takfir have not met and it does not mean that Ahl- Sunnah love Yazid more than Husain. Some regard him as righteous and just ruler and Ahl- Sunnah keep itself away from such claims. Ahl-Sunnah takes the moderate stand that it neither loves him nor makes takfir on him. The following conversation between Imamu- Sunnah, Ahmed Ibn Hanbal and his son Salih reflects Ahl- Sunnah’s view regarding the Yazid. Salih said: “some people say that they love Yazeed”, for which Imam Hanbal responded “O my son, does anyone love Yazeed who believes in Allah and the Last Day?”

Thus it is clear that Ahl- Sunnah loves Husain ibn Ali, not just for being a companion of the Prophet (s), but further for being the member of his family and as one who Allah’s Messenger loves. As regards to Yazeed Ibn Mua’aviyah, Ahl- Sunnah neither loves nor curses him.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of 


[i] Takeekh al Umam wal- Malook

[ii] The History of Islam, Vol 2. P: 77 by Najeebabadi

[iii] Sahabi is a person who saw Prophet (S) being a Muslim and died as a Muslim.

[iv] Ahmed, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja’h and An- Nasa’ai. Shaykh Albani classed it as ‘Sahih’

[v] Tirmidhi

[vi] Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah. Classed as ‘Hasan’ by Shaykh Albani in Silsilathu ahadeeth as Sahiha, Sahih at- Tirmidhi and Sahih Ibn Majah

[vii] Declaring a Muslim to be unbeliever (Kafir).