Story of First Power Usurpation in Islam
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Story of First Power Usurpation in Islam
The first time the authority was usurped in Islam occurred when Mu’awiyah took the Baya’ah for his son Yazid by force; subsequently Yazid assumed the authority and took the Baya’ah by force. The first man to incite the perpetration of such a crime and to be instrumental in this act was al-Mughirah Ibnu Shu’bah. He was appointed as governor over al-Kufah after the matters had settled for Mu’awiyah. He then learnt that Mu’awiyah had been planning to remove him and replace him with Saeed Ibnul A’as, so he headed for Damascus to meet Mu’awiyah and said to him: “O Amir of the Believers, you are aware of what the Ummah has suffered in terms of Fitnah, and dispute and death is due on you; and I fear that if something were to happen to you, people would again undergo what had happened after the murder of Uthman. So assign to the people an outstanding person so that they take refuge in him, and make that person your son Yazid.”Mu’awiyah liked the idea and started thinking about espousing what al-Mughirah had suggested to him. When his wife Fakhita Bintu Qurata heard of this she said to him: “Al-Mughirah wants to make an enemy from within yourself who wishes your death every day by suggesting this to you”. Mu’awiyah was troubled by what he heard but he ignored it and set about preparing people to announce the idea to the masses and to take the Baya’ah for Yazid. He started scheming for this secretly at first by summoning al-Dahak Ibnu Qays al-Fahri and saying to him: “When I sit at the pulpit and finish some of my preaching and talk, ask me for permission to stand up. When I give you permission, praise Allah (swt) and mention Yazid and say about him what he deservedly expects from you in terms of excellent praise; then implore me to appoint him as my successor, because I have thought about it and I have already decided to appoint him.”
He then summoned Abdul-Rahman Ibnu Uthman al-Thaqafi, Abdullah Ibnu Masa’adah al-Fazari, Thawr Ibnu Ma’an al-Salami and Abdullah Ibnu Isam al-Ash’ari, and ordered them to stand up once al-Dahak had finished and corroborate his statement and to call for the Baya’ah of Yazid. At that time, the delegations from all the provinces gathered in Damascus at Mu’awiyah’s quarters, including the delegation of Iraq headed by al-Ahnaf Ibnu Qays. When Mu’awiyah sat at the pulpit and finished some of his preaching, with the crowd gathered and attentive, al-Dahak stood up and performed what he had been ordered. Then Abdul-Rahman Ibnu Uthman al-Thaqafi, Abdullah Ibnu Masa’adah, Thawr Ibnu Ma’an and Abdullah Ibnu Isam all stood up and performed what they had been ordered. They in turn said what had been prearranged and upon this Mu’awiyah said: “Have you all decided on what we have mentioned?” They said: “We have all decided.”
He then asked: “So where is al-Ahnaf?” Al-Ahnaf responded, so Mu’awiyah asked him: “Do you not want to speak?” Upon this al-Ahnaf stood up and delivered a speech. To quote from what he said: “Make sure you know to whom you hand the authority to after you, so disobey the command of those who order you; do not be fooled by those who advise you but care not about you; and you look after the community; you should know better about the righteousness of obedience. Besides, the people of Hijaz and the people of Iraq will not accept this and will not give their Baya’ah to Yazid as long as al-Hassan is still alive.”
Upon this al-Dahak became infuriated and stood up for a second time to speak; he launched a scathing attack on al-Ahnaf and on the people of Iraq and then sat down. Al-Ahnaf stood for a second time to respond to Mu’awiyah with fiercer wording than the one he was attacked with. To quote from what he said: “You know that you did not conquer Iraq by force and did not triumph over it due to slackness, but because you gave al-Hassan Ibnu Ali from the oaths of Allah which you are well aware of, that he would succeed you in power after your departure. So if you fulfil your promise, then you will be loyal, but if you betray your promise, you should know by Allah that al-Hassan has behind him some excellent knights, strong arms and sharp swords; if you were to betray him by as much as a hand span, you will find behind him a fathom of support. You do know that the people of Iraq have not liked you since they despised you, nor have they despised Ali and Hassan since they loved them, and nothing to the contrary has descended on them from the heavens. The swords they brandished against you on the day of Siffeen are still on their shoulders and the hearts with which they despised you are still between their ribs; and by Allah al-Hassan is dearer to the people of Iraq than Ali.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah stood up and delivered a speech in response to al-Ahnaf but not in a direct manner; he merely described those who seek to cause fitnah and those who criticise and suspect others; he implicitly warned them but did not mention neither al-Ahnaf nor what he had said. He merely contented himself to mentioning some general criticism in an implicit manner. Upon this al-Ahnaf stood up again and spoke. To quote from what he said: “You should know that you would have no valid excuse before Allah if you placed Yazid before al-Hassan and al-Hussein; you do know who they are and what they stand for.”
This was the first round of this attempt; when Mu’awiyah witnessed this unyielding stance from al-Ahnaf, which reflected the stance of the people of Iraq. He then made Istikharah and refrained from mentioning the Baya’ah to Yazid.
In the year 50 after Hijrah (AH), Mu’awiyah came to Medina. He was met by the people and when he settled in his home, he sent for the four Abadilah: Abdullah Ibnu Abbas, Abdullah Ibnu Ja’afar Ibnu Abi Talib, Abdullah Ibnu Omar and Abdullah Ibnu Zubayr. He ordered his usher not to allow anyone to enter until they have left. When they sat down Mu’awiyah addressed them; to quote from what he said to them: “I have aged, my bones became weak, my demise has drawn near and I am on the verge of being summoned and I have to comply; I have thought about making Yazid my successor to rule over you. I see him as an acceptable choice for you. You are the Abadilah of Quraysh and its elite, as well as the sons of its elite. I was only dissuaded from summoning Al-Hassan and al-Hussein because they are the sons of their father Ali, despite of my good opinion of them and my tremendous affection towards them. So please give the Amir of the Believers a positive answer, may Allah have mercy on you.”
Then the four men spoke one after the other and they all rejected his request. As for Ibnu Abbas, he did not express his rejection frankly but let his words demonstrate his rejection; the other three gave their answers frankly and boldly. To quote from what Ibnu Abbas said: “You spoke and we listened; you said and we heard. Allah the Almighty, whose Names are sacred, chose Mohammed (saw) for His Message, and chose him for His Revelation; He honoured him ahead of all His creatures; so the noblest of people are those who are honoured by him and the most deserving of this matter are those closest to him; yet the Ummah has to concede to her Prophet because Allah chose him for her. He (swt) chose him with His knowledge and He is the All-Knowing and All-Expert; and I seek Allah’s forgiveness for me and for you.”
Also, to quote from what Abdullah Ibnu Ja’afar said: “Fear Allah o Mu’awiyah; you have become a guardian and we are a guardianship; so look after your guardianship because you will be asked about it. As for what you said about my two cousins and your reluctance to invite them here, by Allah you failed to do the right thing; you are not allowed to do this except through them. You do know that they are a pedigree of knowledge and nobleness; so it would not matter what you say. I seek Allah’s forgiveness for me and for you.” Abdullah Ibnul Zubayr said to Mu’awiyah: “Fear Allah o Mu’awiyah and be fair to yourself. This is Abdullah Ibnu Abbas the cousin of the Messenger of Allah (saw), and this is Abdullah Ibnu Ja’afar, also the cousin of the Messenger of Allah (saw), I am Abdullah Ibnul Zubayr, the son of the paternal aunt of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and Ali has left behind Hassan and Hussein; and you do know who they are and what they are; so fear Allah o Mu’awiyah and you are the judge between us and yourself.” To quote also from what Abdullah Ibnu Omar said: “Indeed this Khilafah is not a Hercules-style nor a Roman-style nor a Chosroes-style ruling system, in which the sons inherit from their fathers; if it had been like this I would have taken over after my father; by Allah he only included me in the six nominees of al-Shurah on the basis that al-Khilafah was not a precondition; it is rather specifically within Quraysh for whoever is competent from among them, the Muslims would choose for themselves as being the most pious and the most suitable.”
Once they finished speaking, Mu’awiyah spoke in an attempt to corroborate his request; to quote from what he said: “Indeed this matter was within Bani Abd Manaf because they are the family of the Messenger of Allah (saw). When the Messenger of Allah (saw) departed, people appointed Abu Bakr and Omar though they had no pedigree in ruling matters or anything else. However, they fared well. Then the authority returned to Bani Abd Manaf and is still among them until the Day of Judgement.” After this decisive session, Mu’awiyah ordered the journey back and desisted from mentioning the Baya’ah for Yazid. He kept in touch and stayed on friendly terms with those Sahaba and maintained the grants he used to pay to them. He then departed to al-Sham and kept completely silent over the Baya’ah for Yazid.
This was the second round in which the Sahaba, who were the from among the prominent people and among the leaders of the Ummah, responded to Mu’awiyah sturdily; this is why Mu’awiyah remained completely silent over the issue after that.
A year after that, i.e. in year 51AH, al-Hassan Ibnu Ali (ra) fell ill. It was the illness from which he later died. When Mu’awiyah heard of this, he wrote to his governor in Medina saying: “If you can keep me posted day by day on the condition of al-Hassan then do so.” So his governor kept on writing to him until al-Hassan passed away. When the news reached him he could not conceal his joy. He prostrated and those present followed suit.
Ibnu Abbas got wind of this as he was in al-Sham at the time; so he went to Mu’awiyah and when he sat down Mu’awiyah said: “O Ibnu Abbas; al-Hassan Ibnu Ali has died.” Ibnu Abbas replied: “Indeed he has died; he the recited “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’oon” several times and then said: “I also heard of the joy and happiness you had exhibited when you heard of his death. By Allah his body has not filled your hole, nor has his short lifespan increased your own; he died while he was better than you. Even if we are aggrieved by his departure, we were in the past aggrieved by the departure of someone better than him, namely his grandfather the Messenger of Allah (saw). May Allah comfort us in this calamity and grant us after him the best of substitutes.” Ibnu Abbas broke into tears after that and all those present cried, including Mu’awiyah. Then Mu’awiyah said: “I heard that he had left young kids behind.” Ibnu Abbas said: “We were all small and then grew up.” Mu’awiyah said: “How old was he?” upon this Ibnu Abbas said: “The matter of al-Hassan is so great and known to everyone.”
So Mu’awiyah kept silent for a moment and then said: “O Ibnu Abbas, you have now become the leader of your folk after him.” Upon this Ibnu Abbas replied: “No, not as long as Allah keeps Abu Abdullah al-Hussein.” No sooner had a few days passed after the death of al-Hassan than Mu’awiyah proceeded with effectively taking the Baya’ah for Yazid. He took the Baya’ah for Yazid in al-Sham and wrote to all the provinces ordering his governors to take the Baya’ah for Yazid.
His governor in Medina was Marwan Ibnul Hakam; so he wrote to him and mentioned what Allah (swt) had decreed through him in respect of the Baya’ah for Yazid. He ordered him to gather those in his vicinity from Quraysh among others from the people of Medina and to get them to give the Baya’ah to Yazid. When Marwan read out the letter, people rejected it and so did Quraysh. So he wrote back to Mu’awiyah saying: “Your folk have refused to respond to your request to give the Baya’ah to your son, Yazid. So you decide what to do.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah dismissed Marwan and appointed Saeed Ibnul A’as. He then wrote to him and ordered him to invite the people of Medina to give their Baya’ah and to write back to him reporting on those would promptly comply and on those who would drag their feet. When the letter reached Saeed Ibnul A’as, he ordered people in a firm and severe manner to give the Baya’ah to Yazid; he dealt harshly with all those who were slack. Most people were slow to respond especially Bani Hashem; none of them responded to his order and Ibnul Zubayr was the most categorical in his rebuttal and denouncement. Saeed Ibnul A’as wrote to Mu’awiyah briefing him of all those events and ended his letter by saying: “I cannot overpower them without steeds and manpower; otherwise, you come down and decide for yourself what to do.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah wrote to Abdullah Ibnu Abbas, Abdullah Ibnul Zubayr, Abdullah Ibnu Ja’afar and Hussein Ibnu Ali (ra) and ordered Saeed Ibnul A’as to deliver the letters and to send their answers. Each one replied to Mu’awiyah’s letter, rejecting the proposed Baya’ah for Yazid. So Mu’awiyah wrote to Saeed Ibnul A’as ordering him to take the Baya’ah for Yazid using ruthless and brutal means if necessary, and not be lenient to anyone from among al-Muhajireen and al-Ansar, and their children until they gave their Baya’ah. Everyone refused to give their Baya’ah. So Saeed wrote to Mu’awiyah saying: “No one gave me the Baya’ah; people are followers of that group; if they give you their Baya’ah, people would follow suit and no one would turn you down.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah wrote to him, ordering him to keep them in there until he comes. Then he arrived in Medina as a Hajji and when he reached al-Jurf, al-Hussein and Abdullah Ibnu Abbas intercepted him. Mu’awiyah said: “Greetings to the son of the Messenger of Allah’s daughter and to his cousin.” He then turned to the crowd and said: “These two are the sheikhs of Bani Abdu Manaf.” He then continued talking to them in a friendly and courteous manner, smiling and exchanging pleasantries as he did, until he reached Medina. When he dismounted, they both left him; al-Hussein veered towards his house and Abdullah Ibnu Abbas went to the mosque.
When Mu’awiyah settled in his house he sent after al-Hussein Ibnu Ali and held a private meeting with him. He said to him: “My nephew, the people have confirmed this matter except for five men from Quraysh and you are their leader my nephew; so what has led to this divergence?” Al-Hussein replied: “Send for them; if they give you their Baya’ah, I will be one of them; otherwise, you will not have judged me hastily on the matter.” Mu’awiyah asked: “Would you do that?” to which he replied: “Yes.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah urged him not to inform anyone of their conversation and then sent after Ibnul Zubayr and held a private meeting with him. He said to him: “People have confirmed this matter except for five men from Quraysh and you are their leader. My nephew, what has led to this divergence?” Upon this Ibnul Zubayr said to him: “So send for them, and if they give you their Baya’ah, I will be one of them; otherwise, you will not have judged me hastily on the matter.” Mu’awiyah asked: “Would you do that?” to which He replied: “Yes.”
Upon this Mu’awiyah urged him not to inform anyone of their conversation and then sent after Ibnu Omar. He had a private meeting with him and addressed him in a tone that was gentler than the one he used with his two friends. He said: “I would hate to leave the Ummah of Mohammed after my departure without a shepherd and people have corroborated this matter except for five persons, of whom you are their leader; so what has caused this divergence?” Ibnu Omar asked: “Do you want me to tell you about a matter that would spare you the bloodshed and make you achieve your aim?” Mu’awiyah replied: “I would love that.” Upon this Ibnu Omar said: “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 asked: “Would you do that?” to which he replied: “Yes.”
Mu’awiyah then sent after Abdul-Rahman Ibnu Abi Bakr and held a private meeting with him. He told him: “You have the audacity to raise your hands and feet against me?” Abdul-Rahman said: “I hope that this is good for me.” Mu’awiyah said: “By Allah I am thinking of having you killed.” Abdul Rahman replied: “By killing me your punishment will be that Allah shall curse you in this world and throw you in Hell in the next.” Then Abdul-Rahman Ibnu Abi Bakr left.
The following morning, Mu’awiyah ordered a divan so it was set up for him and the seats of his close entourage and his family were arranged. He then emerged wearing a Yemeni garment and a dark turban with its end covering his shoulders; he put on some scent and sat on his divan with his aides nearby so that they could hear his instructions and ordered his usher not to allow anyone to enter no matter how close they were. He then sent for al-Hussein Ibnu Ali and Abdullah Ibnu Abbas. Ibnu Abbas arrived first and after he had entered and uttered his greetings, Mu’awiyah invited him to sit on the left side of the divan. Then al-Hussein Ibnu Ali arrived and when Mu’awiyah saw him, he grabbed a cushion that was on his right and when al-Hussein entered and gave his greetings, he invited him to sit to his right where the cushion was and then started speaking.
He talked once again about the issue of the Baya’ah for Yazid and his talk included some criticism of al-Hussein. To quote from what he said: “Hence, this was the attribute of the Messenger of Allah (saw); then he was succeeded by two righteous men and a praiseworthy third, and after that came a long dispute which we dealt with through observing, struggling, evaluating and listening, and I do not know about it more than you do. As for the issue of Yazid, he was placed ahead of you two and approved; and Allah knows how, through this, I am trying to serve the subjects, in terms of repairing the damage and healing the rift by appointing Yazid; something which has caught the attention and praised the action. This is what I mean about Yazid; and you have the excellence of kinship, the virtue of scholarship and the perfect bravery; I have sensed this in Yazid through assessment and comparison and I found the same in you and in others. Yet Yazid is well versed in the Sunnah and the reciting of the Qur’an, in addition to his rock-solid and tremendous meekness; etc.” When Mu’awiyah finished, Ibnu Abbas was about to speak but al-Hussein interjected saying: “Wait; I am the target and my share of the accusations is greater than yours.”
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