How Yazid still lives on

Remembering Hussain’s sacrifice with mouths that speak Yazid’s words 

Yazid, like any other Arabic name, is still considered as an option by many parents when it comes to cleping newborn children. In today’s world, however, Yazid is not just a name. Yazid ibn Mu’awiya was not just any other ruler, or tyrant for that matter. His name has become an emblem of tyranny for the majority, and simply nothing for the outvoted that do exist despite anything and everything. The latter may just treat it as any other Islamic name, justifying this on the basis that many companions of the Prophet (PBUH) were identified by this name. What they, in particular, and all those among the former who have any doubts in their hearts regarding the causes of the Battle of Karbala, in general, fail to realise is that it is not about Yazid or Yazid ibn Mu’awiya anymore. It is all about Yazidiat. And in order to understand the mindset that Yazidiat is, we first need to comprehend the perspective that Hussainiat is.

Like every other philosophy Hussainiat, too, has been interpreted in more than one way. The different ways in which the accounts of the battle have been recorded in history constitute the discrete versions of the story, thus leading to the parallel existence of disparate ideologies.

One version stoops Imam Hussain’s cause to such a low position that it equates his stand against Yazidiat with mere power struggle. The other elevates it, only to some extent in my humble opinion, by eyeing the valour that Imam Hussain showed as an attempt to not letting the dominion of Islamic caliphate fall into the hands of a ruler who was both incapable of fulfilling the responsibility of the position and, therefore, unworthy of enjoying the prerogatives. The third version, however, pictures a different vantage point. Described by a 9th-century Persian scholar and historian, al-Tabari, this explanation winnows out all narratives that include anything seen from the lens of power struggle. According to this, Mu’awiya had warned his son Yazid before his demise not to engage in a fight with Imam Hussain at any stage and it was Umar ibn Sa’ad, the son of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, who, in order to gain appreciation in the eyes of the ruler, led the troops that martyred Imam Hussain. Al-Tabari quoted him to have said to Ibn Ziyad, “By God, the sincerity I performed towards you with regard to killing [Imam] Hussain was such that if I had performed such sincerity for my father, I would have fulfilled his rights”. Moreover, according to the historian, Yazid was actually taken by surprise when the severed head of Imam Hussain was presented in his court because of the irrevocable extent to which his army had gone to please him.

Over and above that, as stated by al-Tabari, Imam Hussain’s march to Karbala was not a gesture of waging war against Yazid or his troops. He was, in fact, relocating to the land he had earlier bought in Karbala in order to avoid any sort of rift or divide in the Ummah that could have arisen owing to his presence in the state of Madinah. On the report of the historian, Abdullah ibn Umar, the son of the second caliph Umar, advised Imam Hussain to stay in Madinah and not even consider the option of leaving the city because that would ensure his support in the very much expected period of turmoil. Imam Hussain, on the other hand, did not want to see the Ummah divided yet again after the Battle of the Camel and, therefore, was convinced to remain aloof from the ruler. He, however, had explicitly declared not to take oath of allegiance in the favour of Yazid because of the morally corrupt tyrant he was. Ibn Sa’ad, at any rate, was convinced to trigger a clash and nothing else could provide him a better way of doing so. The rest is narrated in pretty much the same manner, without any major discrepancy, in all the three versions.

Whatever perspective one may wish to believe in, there is no denying the fact that Imam Hussain and his family was subjected to the worst form of hostility, oppression, torment and tyranny. And his steadfastness, perseverance, unshakeable faith and untethering resolve are the traits that define the exceptional philosophy that Hussainiat is in its entirety, positioning the name of Yazid and the mindset called Yazididat at the lowest possible rank of morality and honour.

Nevertheless, despite the spine-chilling end of Yazid and his progeny, Yazidiat is what continues to thrive and breathe in the minds and hearts of Yazids of today. Although different dynamics seem to operate behind the manifestations of atrocities that are visible today in the Muslim World, these dimensions can be well equated with the different versions of Hussainiat that are presented by scholars of various sects. None of the viewpoints whatsoever can deny the true spirit and valour that underlies the doctrine of Hussainiat.

Similarly, none of the flag-bearers of human rights can simply overlook the acts of brutality and savagery that are being conducted on Muslims around the world in the name of hate crime, Islamophobia, or ethnic cleansing. From barbarities being endured by Muslims of Palestine since mid-20th century to those in Syria and Yemen since 2011 are all the incidents of harshest realities that are persisting in the 21st century and being criminally ignored by the whole world. The never-ending agonies of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as well as the several-decades-long struggle of Kashmiris in the Indian-occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be turned a blind eye to. Yet another example of a mob of Yazidis practising Yazidiat in an Islamic state was set when thousands of ‘Muslims’ lynched Mashal Khan on mere accusations of blasphemy that later proved to be false. His murderers are still waiting to be served justice in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country that was won after years of struggle just to ensure that Muslims of the Indian subcontinent could live the way they had always wanted to.

In one form or the other, Yazidiat is to date observed and mirrored by everyone who possesses might. Then why commemorate Imam Hussain’s sacrifice and venerate Hussainiat when none of us actually believes in it from heart and soul? The allegiance is not always to be shown by actions, for Imam Hussain took a stand only because his heart was devoutly convinced to do so. We need to do the same. We first need to kindle the flame of Hussainiat in our hearts only after which our actions would antagonistically differ from Yazidiat. Otherwise, we would continue to remember Imam Hussain’s sacrifice with mouths that speak Yazid’s words, with hands that commit Yazid’s actions.

Article Source: Pakistan Today

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