Story of First Power Usurpation in Islam - page 3

So Ibnu Abbas retracted and al-Hussein stood up and replied to Mu’awiyah in a lucid, brave and unanswerable manner. To quote from what he said: “How far away are you o Mu’awiyah? The dawn has exposed the darkness of the night and the sun has dazzled the candlelight. You have praised until you have gone over the top and you have monopolised until you transgressed. You have deprived others until you became stingy and you have become tyrant with excessiveness. You only became equitable towards others after Satan had taken his lion’s share and his full piece. I understand from what you have just mentioned about Yazid, in terms of his flawlessness and his good policy towards the Ummah of Mohammed, you want to mislead people about Yazid, as if you were describing something unknown or portraying an absent, or informing about something of which you have the exclusive knowledge. Yet, Yazid has himself indicated where he stands. So take for Yazid what he has acquired for himself, in terms of luring fighting dogs when they molest each other, or racing pigeons, or singing maids, or in terms of frequenting the dancing halls, you will find him there. You should give up trying; it would not give you any more salvation from meeting Allah while carrying the burden of such a character; by Allah you have been attempting to kindle a falsehood with a wrongdoing and a demise with an injustice until it has reached saturation point, while only a blink of the eye separates you from death.”

Then al-Hussein went on to say: “How dare you compare Companions, of whom no one doubts their lineage, to someone that even the people around you doubt of his righteousness; yet you placed ahead of them an unscrupulous man and one so full of himself? You want to deceive the people with a pretence that makes one happy in this life and makes you miserable in your hereafter. This is indeed the clear-cut failure. I seek Allah’s forgiveness for me and for you.” Upon this Mu’awiyah looked at Ibnu Abbas and said: “What is this Ibnu Abbas? What you have may be harder and more bitter?” Ibnu Abbas replied: “This is the progeny of the Messenger and one of the people of the “cloak”; he is in the Wholesome Household and he said it since you asked for it!” Mu’awiyah said: “The best meekness is to be meek with the family. You may go with the protection of Allah.”

Mu’awiyah then summoned Abdul Rahman Ibnu Abi Bakr, Abdullah Ibnu Omar and Abdullah Ibnul Zubayr, and repeated to them the same talk about Yazid; so they gave him the same response as the one they gave before. So Mu’awiyah ordered them to leave and remained indoors for three days, avoiding everyone. He then came out and ordered to caller to summon the masses for an important matter; so people gathered in the mosque and those Sahaba sat around the pulpit. Then Mu’awiyah stood up and delivered a speech in which he mentioned Yazid, his virtues and his reciting of the Qur’an. He then said: “By Allah if I knew that there existed someone better for the Muslims than Yazid, I would get the Baya’ah for him instead.”

Upon this al-Hussein stood up and said: “By Allah you have left out someone better than him, with a better father and a better mother and a better character.” Mu’awiyah replied by saying: “By Allah, Yazid is better for the Ummah of Mohammed than you.” Al Hussein responded: “This is both falsehood and fraud; Yazid the drunkard and the pursuer of debauchery is better than me?” Mu’awiyah replied to him and then turned towards people saying: “I have decided to acquire the Baya’ah for Yazid due to what people have fallen into in terms of difference and due to the fact that I want to look upon them with equity.”

The meeting ended with those Sahaba insisting on rejecting the Baya’ah and attacking it as well as attacking Mu’awiyah and Yazid.

Mu’awiyah then ordered his guards and his police to summon the group that had rejected the Baya’ah, namely al-Hussein, Ibnu Omar, Ibnul Zubayr, Ibnu Abbas, and Abdul Rahman Ibnu Abi Bakr. He then instructed them: “I am going out to the people of al-Sham and I am going to inform them that these individuals have given their Baya’ah and consented; if any of them replied by uttering a word to approve or deny, he would not utter another word before the sword had reached his neck. So tell them they have been warned.”

When the evening came, Mu’awiyah came out accompanied by those Sahaba, talking and smiling with them. He walked amongst them and showed the people of al-Sham that he was pleased with them and that they had given their Baya’ah. He said: “O people of al-Sham, these people were invited by the Amir of the Believers and he found them gracious and obedient; they have given their Baya’ah and submitted.” He said this while the Sahaba remained silent as they feared they would be killed. Some individuals from among the people of Al-Sham stood up and said: “O Amir of the Believers, if you have any grievance with them let us deal with them and strike their necks.” Upon this Mu’awiyah said: “Subhan Allah, how violable you deem the blood of the people of Quraysh, o people of al-Sham; I have heard of nothing bad coming from them. They have given their Baya’ah and submitted. They are pleased with me and I am pleased with them. May Allah be pleased with them.” Then Mu’awiyah departed immediately heading for Makkah.

This was the third round in which Mu’awiyah effectively took the Baya’h for Yazid with the power of authority and by way of coercion and through harsh and severe treatment, save for the senior Sahaba.

This is the story of the taking of the Baya’h for Yazid, or usurping the authority for the first time in the history of Islam. It transpires from this story that the senior Sahaba took towards it the harshest of stances and resisted it in the strongest of manners. Despite the shrewdness of Mu’awiyah and despite his several attempts and manoeuvres and his feigning the use of force, they did not budge one single iota - the softest of answers given to Mu’awiyah was: “You sit on your throne and then I will come and give you the Baya’ah that after you, I will join in with what the Ummah has agreed upon. By Allah if the Ummah were to agree upon an Abyssinian slave after your departure I would join in with what the Ummah has embarked upon.” Mu’awiyah failed in securing the Baya’ah of any of them for Yazid; they deemed it a despicable act, rebuffed it and launched a scathing attack on it; they also lashed out at Mu’awiyah. This indicates that the Sahaba did experience the issue of power usurpation in its quality as such and not just as a mere Munkar; thus, their opinion on it was unambiguous and their response was also clear, namely categorical and persistent rejection. The harshness of Mu’awiyah and his death threats could not force them to give their Baya’ah or to refrain from attacking it. All what happened was that Mu’awiyah wanted to give the people of al-Sham the impression that they had given their Baya’ah, lest they used it as a pretext and pounced on him. So he lied about those Sahaba in their presence after he had threatened to kill them if they uttered a word even to corroborate his lie; so they kept silent about his lie to the people of al-Sham.

Hence, the opinion of the senior Sahaba is that the Muslims must not keep silent over the usurpation of power; the usurper should rather be resisted and they must not consent to him. In other words, the seizing of power by force must be resisted and the Muslims must persist in resisting. It is Haram to remain idle towards the usurping ruler no matter how harsh and brutal he may be and no matter how powerful and ruthless he may be; they should act in exactly the same manner the senior Sahaba did.

A question may arise here in respect of the Sahaba’s decision not to fight Mu’awiyah, even though he usurped power. They contented themselves with condemnation and resistance. The answer to this is that Mu’awiyah was a ruler who assumed the act of taking the Baya’ah for Yazid while he was a ruler. In other words, he perpetrated this act while he was in office. The ruler is excepted from the generality of evidences related to usurpation by the Ahadith stipulating obedience to the ruler, such as the Hadith narrated by Huthayfah in which the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “You must listen and obey, even if he were to lash your back and seize your property. Listen and obey.” It is prohibited to fight the ruler, no matter what he did, except in one situation, namely if he displayed flagrant Kufr: this situation has been mentioned by a Shari’ah text; other than that, it is prohibited to fight him according to the Ahadith of obedience and perseverance in the face of the rulers’ injustice. This is why the Sahaba did not fight Mu’awiyah and contented themselves with denouncing and condemning his action.

However, if an usurper perpetrated this despicable act while out of office, he would be fought by the sword. This is why when Mu’awiyah died and Yazid assumed power and wanted to take the Baya’ah from the masses, the senior Sahaba did not content themselves with denouncing and rejecting the Baya’ah, as they did with Mu’awiyah, but they brandished the sword in Yazid’s face and declared war on him.

They effectively fought him; Abdullah Ibnu al-Zubayr declared war in Makkah against Yazid and called for his removal. He even mobilised an army to fight him. Al-Hussein (ra) for his part was invited by the people of Iraq who wanted to give him their Baya’ah; so he went to them to lead them in a war against Yazid in order to topple him. The people of Medina removed Yazid Ibnu Mu’awiyah and prepared to fight him.

When his army arrived in Medina, they fought him fiercely; this was in the celebrated battle of al-Hurra, in which eighty of the Messenger of Allah’s Sahaba were killed. Consequently, all the remainder of the Sahaba who had partaken in the battle of Badr were killed. Seven hundred persons from Quraysh and from al-Ansar were also killed; it was also reported that the death toll was 1700. The total number of those killed, including the non-Arabs and the Tabi’een were 10,000, excluding the women and children. All this was to resist Yazid’s attempt to assume the Khilafah, i.e. to resist the usurpation of power. This indicates that the Sahaba (ra), especially the senior ones, fought the usurper of power by the sword and faced him with their weapons; they continued to fight until they perished.

This proves that the rule of usurping power is to fight the usurper with weapons persistently until he is removed or killed. If the usurper is killed, he will be in Hell, together with those who fight alongside him. If those fighting the usurper are killed, they will be in Heaven and they will be deemed as martyrs.

Source: Al-Imamah wal Siyassa by Ibnu Qutaybah al-Daynuri