Yesterday, Dr. Yasir Qadhi gave a speech titled “The Massacre of Karbala,” which discussed the history which led to the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husayn bin Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon them). I was excited that Dr. Qadhi decided to discuss this very important issue as many scholars, save the People of Tasawwuf and Shi’ah, say that there is no benefit in this history and dub it as a source of fitnah for the Ummah. I’m of those who believe that we should not cover up any of the history of the Prophet (prayers & peace be upon him and his family), his family and companions. In saying this, I found a three troubling issues with his lecture, which I will briefly touch on.
First, Dr. Qadhi asserted that Mu’awiyah had the authority to nominate his successor, drawing a parallel to Imam Al-Hasan bin Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon them) succeeding his father as the rightful khalifah. This point is problematic because Mu’awiyah made a peace treaty with Imam Al-Hasan agreeing that the next khalifah would not be from his nomination. One narration states that it would be left up for shura while another narration states that the khilafah would be turned over to Imam Al-Hasan or Imam Al-Husayn if Al-Hasan passed. Thus, Yazid’s nomination was invalid and a clear violation of Mu’awiyah. Also unlike Mu’awiyah designating Yazid to be khalifah, those who gave Imam Al-Hasan allegiance, theirs was not due to coercion nor threat, unlike Yazid whose army plundered Al-Madinah for three days, killing some companions and their children.
Second, Dr. Qadhi also asserted that Yazid was the general of the first campaign in Constantinople, in which he referenced the hadith about those who fought in it would be forgiven of their sins. It is established in early sources that Abdur Rahman bin Khalid bin Al-Walid was the general of that campaign, not Yazid. Yazid was in the 7th attack; hence, the point of Yazid being guaranteed forgiveness as a point of sympathy is invalid.
Third, the framing of the discussion was that upon the martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqil (may Allah be pleased with him) in Iraq, it was Bani Hashim would led Imam Al-Husayn to continue due to a sense of revenge. Moreover, the discussion was framed as had Imam Al-Husayn taken the apolitical position of Abdullah bin Umar, he would not have been massacred. This is a troubling assertion to make that the man who the Prophet (prayers & peace be upon him and his family) described as a “leader of the youth of the people of paradise” and “Husayn is from me, and I’m from Husayn” was driven to continue his revolution based upon revenge and emotions, not justice. This would be beneath the character of Imam Al-Husayn. Furthermore, the implication is that his continuing in Iraq somehow makes him responsible for his own massacre, which is a meme commonly invoked by Salafis to pacify people in this contemporary era from standing up to their tyrant kings and dictators.
There are further points that I agree with in the post “Misrepresenting Karbala: A Response to Dr. Yasir Qadhi.” You may also see my post “Al-Husayn, Yazid, Karbala and Contemporary Relevance,” which I wrote last week as well as my khutbah this past Jumu’ah on “Lessons From Muharram.”
Again, I reiterate that I’m glad that Dr. Qadhi put forth effort in giving this speech and agree with several things, which he did state. I’m also certain that he is being attacked for it now and is probably being called “Rafidi” for simply discussing this topic as Ash-Shafi’i (may Allah’s mercy be upon him), An-Nasa’i (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) and other scholars in the past were called for showing love for Imam Al-Husayn.
Also, just because scholars and imams disagree on issues doesn’t mean a lack of respect. I believe that we all grow through dialectics as long as our discourses are respectful in nature and done with love.