Was Yazid ‘forgiven’?Written by محبوب حسين الأزهرى
Muharram is about the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (Radi Allaho Anhu) and his family who laid down their lives at Karbala (in present day Iraq) for the protection of Islam. Their selfless sacrifice, service to humanity and protection of their religious order resulted in their giving up their own lives. Remembering them and following the path shown by them is the greatest tribute that humanity can pay Imam Hussain and his family. This in fact is the greatest message of Muharram.
SHAH USTO HUSSAINO BADSHAH USTO HUSSAIN
DEEN UsTO HUSSAINO DEEN PANAH USTO HUSSAIN.
SURDAD,NADAD DUST DUR DUESTE YAZID,
HAQQA KE BENAYE LA ILAH HUSTO HUSSAIN.
Hussain is the king; indeed he is the king of kings,
Hussain is Deen and also the protector of Deen,
He gave his head but not his hand of allegiance in the hand of Yazid.
Indeed he was the founder (Like his grandfather) of the concept of One God.
This quartet of Khwaja-e-Khwaajgaan Hazrat Khwaajah Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri is the exact meaning of the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) which states “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain”. Imam Hussain (Radi Allaho Anhu) has saved Islam from oblivion by offering his timely sacrifice to draw the line of demarcation between Truth and Falsehood, between good and evil, between Right and Wrong, that after this event in Karbala in 61 Hijri, no one inside or outside Islam dare to challenge the truth of the Holy Qur'an or try to subvert its meanings.
The martyrdom of Imam Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) is perhaps one of the most significant events in Islamic history. It was a time of trouble and turmoil; a time when everything that Islam stood for was being openly violated. The ruling class, under the leadership of Yazid, was openly abusing the power it had in its control, violating everything that, the Blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) and the four Rightly Guided Caliphs had stood for. Yazid, knowing full well that he couldn’t get away cleanly for his acts so long as he had any opposition tried very hard to get rid of any threats to him. One such threat was in the form of the noble grandson of the Holy prophet, Imam Hussain (Radi Allaho Anhu) and Yazid employed every tactic possible in attempting to persuade Imam Hussain to accept him as Leader of the Muslims. Imam Hussain though was not willing to shake the foundations of Islam left by his Grandfather Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Caliphs after him by accepting him as leader. In the end, in the most brutal and savage way, Yazid had Imam Hussain and his followers killed ( May Allah Subhaanahu wa ta'aala be pleased with them all). By refusing to give in to the demands of the tyrant Yazid, Imam Hussain taught us the invaluable lesson that Islam does not tolerate injustice, oppression and evil. Insha’Allah until the Day of Judgment, the name of Hussain will live on to denote bravery, courage, unparalleled devotion and piety.
To the astonishment and surprise of countless Sunnis, there are Muslims (mainly the supporters of Ibn Taymiyah and the likes) who argue that Yazid should not be categorized as a bad leader. In fact, they go as far as suggesting that he is forgiven. To defend their position they offer in evidence a Hadith narrated in Sahih Bukhari;
Imam Bukhari narrates from Ishaaq bin Yazid al-Dimashqi , who narrates from Yahya bin Hamza, who narrates from Thaur bin Yazid , from Khalid bin Ma’dan that Umair bin al-Aswad al-Anasi told him that he went to Ubaada bin as-Samit while he was staying in his house at the sea-shore of Hums with (his wife) Umme Haram. Umair said; Umme Haram informed us that she heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying;
“Paradise is granted to the first batch of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition. Um Haram added, I said ‘O Allah’s messenger! Will I be amongst them?’ He replied; ‘You are amongst them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then said ‘The first army amongst the followers who will invade Caesar’s City will have their sins forgiven’. I asked ‘Will I be one of them, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He replied in the negative.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Jihad; Chapter 93 ‘What is said about the fighting of the Byzantines’)
Yazid’s supporters purport that Yazid was the first to invade Caesar’s City, and therefore he is deemed as forgiven.
This article will refute the claim that Yazid was the first one to attack this city, and consequently was forgiven. The reader will Insha’Allah be in no doubt that the above Hadith doesn’t offer a vindication of Yazid. In no way can the Hadith be seen as an appraisal of Yazid, nor an implicit suggestion that he is ‘forgiven’. Furthermore, this article will highlight that there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Yazid was a good Muslim.
To begin with, the Scholars of Hadith (Muhhadisoon) have raised questions regarding the authenticity of this Hadith. This is due to two reasons. First, the majority of the narrators in the chain were from Damascus, a strong hold area for Banu Ummaya and Yazid supporters. Second, the chain of narration is to some extent unsound. Yahya bin Hamza, according to the great Hadith scholar Yahya bin Ma’een was a Qadri, namely that he denied the Islamic belief in pre-destination. Sorr bin Yazid too was a Qadri. Yahya bin Ma’een said ‘I do not know anyone that denies that Sorr is a Qadri’. (Source; Fathul Bari, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani)
This issue aside, there is clear historical evidence to prove conclusively that Yazid was not the first person or part of the first army to attack Caesar’s City (Constantinople). The reason is as follows;
According to Ibn Khadlun, one of the most famous and credible Muslim historians, the first group of Muslims to attack went in the year 42 A.H. He writes; “The Muslims first entered the Roman territories in 42 A.H. and they fought with them and killed a number of them”. (Taarekh ibn Khaldun)
According to Ibn Kaseer, in his book al-Bidaaya wal-Nihaaya, Mu’aawiyah was the first to attack Constantinople, in the year 32 A.H. According to Sheikh Muhammad Khudri, “In the year 48 A.H. Mu’aawiyah prepared a large army to conquer Constantinople”. (Source; Lessons from the Muslim Nations)
These three authentic sources differ with regards as to when the first attack took place (42, 32, or 48 A.H.) But two of the sources believe that it was Mu’aawiyah who prepared the first mission there.
As for Yazid, his army, by unanimous agreement of the scholars first went to Constantinople in 52 A.H. According to Ibn Kaseer, by this time, Mu’aawiyah had already been there 16 times. He writes; “Mu’aawiyah prepared armies to Constantinople sixteen times. He used to send an army there twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter”. (al-Bidaayah wal-Nihaayah)
How do we know Yazid’s first visit was in 52 A.H.? The historians all agree that Yazid was head of the army in the year Abu Ayoob al-Ansari passed away. The historians agree that he passed away in 52 A.H. Ibn Hajar writes;
“Yazid’s mission to Constantinople took place in the year 52 A.H. In this mission, Abu Ayoob al-Ansari passed away. Before he died, he asked to be buried next to the main door of Constantinople”
Ibn Kaseer writes: “…Yazid went in 52 A.hH. , the same year Abu Ayoob passed away”.
This analysis, from authentic sources, shows that Yazid was by no means the first person to attack Constantinople. It was Mu’aawiyah, and thus he was most likely to be ‘forgiven’, in the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were ‘the first army to…who will invade Caesar’s City…’. Yazid was one of the last to go there. Thus, historical texts conclusively prove that Yazid cannot be deemed as ‘forgiven’, in the context of this Hadith.
Apart from this Hadith, is there any other evidence to suggest that Yazid is worthy of praise? None. On the contrary, there is ample evidence to suggest that he was a wrong-doer (Faasiq). A few examples will suffice in highlighting that Yazid was not a model Muslim.
1. In the authentic Aqeeda book ‘Sharhul Aqaa’id al-Nasfiyyah, Allama Sa’d Uddin al-Taftazaani writes;
“Yazid drank wine, established cabarets and places of entertainment and singing…and caused havoc in his religion”.
Clearly, these are not the characteristics of a decent Muslim, let alone someone who aspired to be the leader of the Muslims.
2. Imam Bukhari, in his book ‘Taarekh Kabeer’ listed the biographical details of 213 people named Yazid. But he did not make any mention of Yazid bin Mu’aawiyah. This itself implicitly suggests that he was not worthy of mention and that his name had become synonymous with deceit, indecency and dishonour.
3. Imam Jalal Uddin Suyuti mentions in his book ‘The History of the Rightly Guided Caliphs’ (Taarekh ul Khulufaa al-Raashideen);
“Nawfal bin Abi al-Faraat said ‘Once I was with Umar bin Abdul Aziz when a man said in his presence ‘Yazid, the leader of the Believers’ (Ameer ul Mu’mineen). Umar bin Abdul Aziz said [in shock] ‘Did you call Yazid the Leader of the Believers? Umar then ordered for the man to be lashed 20 times”.
4. Moreover, discussions in Islamic books about Yazid centre largely on whether it is permissible to curse him. (See for example, Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Uloom Uddin; Chapter ‘Kitaab Aafat ul-Lisaan’) This itself tells us that considering Yazid as a decent Muslim is out the question, according to the scholars. If Yazid was not a bad Muslim, then why are the scholars debating whether we can curse him?
Our biggest concern is that anyone who shows any amount of sympathy towards Yazid is forgetting the magnitude of the crime committed against the Sovereign of Martyrs Imam Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him). After all, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I am from Hussain, and Hussain is from me”. In another Hadith, he said “Whoever loves [Hasan and Hussain] they love me, and whoever shows hatred towards them, is showing hatred towards me”. By even indirectly showing support or sympathy for Yazid, one can risk being counted as those unfortunate beings who have upset and angered the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
This article has not attempted to prove that Yazid is destined for Hell, or that it is permissible to curse him. His fate is solely in the hands of Allah. Instead, this article has aimed to refute the claim that he is ‘forgiven’ or that we should consider him as ‘not a bad Muslim’. And Allah knows best.
Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari and Ather Hussain al-Azhari.
Allama Hafiz Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MA (RES) Secretary of WAAG (World Association of Al-Azhar Graduates) UK, a mureed of Hazrat Zia-Ul-Ummat Shaykh Pir Justice Pir Karam Shah Al-Azhari and a student of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada. As such, Mahboob Hussain is the founder and resident scholar of PirKaramShah.com. He was born in Pakistan in 1976 Mahboob Hussain arrived in the UK in 1978 where he settled in Dewsbury. In 1980 he began his primary Islamic studies under Abul In’am Muhammad Abdul Bari Chishti and followed that by memorisation of the Qur'ân. After completing his GCSE’s in 1993 he rejoined his teacher in Jamia al-Karam, which at that time was at the former site in Milton Keynes, where under his tutelage and the auspicious guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, he began his studies in Arabic and Islamic studies and A Levels. Here he was fortunate to meet with his Shaykh, the Ummah’s Luminary, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (ra) and pledged his allegiance to him.
After completing his A Levels and studies in Jamia al-Karam in 1997, he was fortunate to pursue his studies in Jamia al-Azhar, Cairo where he gained a BA honours from the Department of Theology, specialising in the science of Prophetic Traditions. After completing his studies in 2000, he returned to the UK and spent a year teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in his local town Dewsbury. In 2001 he began BSc in Computing and Information Studies in the University of Bradford, which he completed in 2005 and immediately rejoined Shaykh M I H Pirzada at Jamia al-Karam as a teacher. Mahboob Hussain has achieved his MA thesis by research at the University of Leeds titled ‘Jewish Anecdotes in Qur'ânic Exegesis’ and is currently looking forward to his upcoming PhD InshAllah. He is also involved in alot of other literary work, such as English translation of selected surahs of Tafsir Zia-Ul-Quran, soon to be exclusively released on pirkaramshah.com.