Yazid b. Muawiyah – A Branch of the Cursed Tree

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“… And We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in Quran as well?”

(Surah Bani Israel (17): 60)

Tabari, explaining the revelation of this verse, has documented a dream that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had wherein the children of Hakam b. Abi Aas (from the family of Umayya) were jumping up and down upon his pulpit like monkeys. This dream upset the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) so much that he never laughed again.

Tafsir-e-Tabari, vol 15, pg 177; Al-Durr al-Mansur, vol 4, pg 191

Aaesha told Marwaan b. Hakam that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told her:

‘The ‘cursed tree’ in the Quran implies you (i.e. Marwan b. Hakam and his family).’

Al-Durr al-Mansur, vol 4, pg 191

It is a different story altogether that Aaesha still chose to align herself with Marwaan b. Hakam, fully aware of his antecedents, in the battle of Jamal.

Marwaan b. Hakam is the father of ‘Bani Marwan’ (the progeny of Marwan). His acronym (Kuniyyat) was Abu Abdil Malik. His genealogy is Marwaan b. Hakam b. Abil Aas b. Umayya.

Thus, the bottom line is that history has proved that ‘the cursed tree’ is none other than the family of Umayya — Banu Umayya. Yazid, the accursed son of Muawiyah is from this very family.

Yazid’s genealogy

His father’s name was Muawiyah and that of his grandfather — Abu Sufyan. His grandmother was Hinda — the one who ate the liver of Hazrat Hamzah (a.s.), the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) uncle, after the battle of Ohad. She was notorious throughout Mecca as being a woman of loose character. She had a string of lovers and paramours. Abu Sufyan’s cousin Musaafir b. Amr who was famous among the Quraish for his good looks, generosity and skill as a poet, became Hinda’s lover. Even after marrying Abu Sufyan, Hinda did not severe her amorous and illicit relationship with Musaafir. And so Musaafir is one of the four people considered to have possibly fathered Muawiyah.

Sharho Nahjil Balaghah by Ibne Abil Hadid, vol. 1, pg. 30

Yazid’s mother’s was Maisoon b. Bakhdal Kalbi, a Christian. She was extremely beautiful due to which Muawiyah became inclined towards her. However when she conceived Yazid, Muawiyah abandoned her. Hence, Yazid was born in her house where she and many other women of immoral character breast-fed him.

Yazid’s genealogy and the immoral deeds of his parents and grandparents have been widely chronicled. Abu Sufyan, Hinda the liver eater, Marwaan and their cronies were in the forefront in opposing the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

The despicable attributes of Yazid

Every society and all religions of the world declare alcoholism, gambling, genocide, incest, fornication and the like to be the worst of actions. Humanity deems that any person who indulges in these acts should be condemned. Islam has denounced these activities, declared them to be unlawful (Haraam) and threatened with severe punishment, both in this world as well as the hereafter, for those who commit them. Moreover, a friendly relationship with such people too is prohibited in Islam. A far cry indeed from declaring such persons to be caliphs and leaders. The Holy Quran says:

‘And obey not from among them any sinner or ungrateful one.’

(Surah Insaan (76):24)

According to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi, sinner or ungrateful implies “a wrongdoer or an unbeliever”.

The word of Quran is clear. They have no one to blame but themselves for having chosen such persons as their leaders. Now let us throw some light on Yazid’s character.

Yazid relieved Walid of his position as Governor of Medina and appointed Usman b. Muhammad b. Abu Sufyan in his place. Usman despatched a delegation of notables of Medina which included Abdullah b. Amr-e-Makhzoomi, Abdullah b. Hanzala Ansari, Fandar b. Zubair and others to Yazid who gave them a great reception and on their departure, showered them with lavish gifts. However, when the same delegation returned to Medina, its members spoke out against Yazid and his deeds, saying:

‘We have visited a person who has no faith whatsoever. One who drinks wine, plays the tambourine and has prostitutes thronging his court. He plays with dogs and sleeps with children and slave-girls. O people, bear witness that we hereby dismiss Yazid from the post of Caliphate.’

On hearing this, many refused to acknowledge Yazid as a Caliph.

Tarikh-e-Tabari, vol. 4, pg. 3, The Events of 62 A.H.

Here we have Tabari bringing to light the gist of Yazid’s abominable qualities by narrating one incident. However other writers like Masoodi in Murooj al-Zahab, Sibt b. Jawzi in Tazkeratul Khawaas, Tabari in Taarikhul Umam, Ibn Athir in Al-Kaamil, Yaqoobi in his Taraikh and others have also recorded numerous unabashed sins and iniquities of Yazid. Here, we restrict ourselves to mentioning a few incidents.

After the tragedy of Karbala, Yazid invited Ibn Ziyaad to his court, bestowed gifts upon him and gave him a free rein in his harem. One night, while lying intoxicated with his head in Ibn Ziyaad’s (l.a.) lap, he ordered that songs be sung and then addressed the wine bearer thus:

‘O wine bearer! Give me wine enough to fill my heart with joy. Then let Ibn Ziyaad drink similarly, for he is the one who is aware of my secrets and possessions. The one whose hands strengthen my caliphate, the one who fills my coffers with war-booty, the one who killed the Kharijite (Imam Husain (a.s.), God forbid), and has vanquished my enemies and those envious of me.’

Tazkirah al-Khawaas by Sibt ibn Jauzi, pg 290

This and several other incidents also serve as reminders to those who deny Yazid’s role in killing Imam Husain (a.s.).

Proclamation of enmity with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the denial of the Day of Judgment

Yazid while addressing Aalia, a concubine of his harem sung the following verses:

‘O Aalia! Come near me, give me wine and sing me a song,

Because I dislike praying to Allah, 0 Aalia! Speak to me of Aby Sufyan who was a great man,

As he moved with great swiftness towards Ohad (to battle the Muslims),

He showed great valour against Muhammad (i.e. he killed many Muslims),

And caused the wailing and grieving Muslim women to gather in a large group,

O Umme Ahim (Aalia’s acronym), after I die, marry again,

And hope not to meet me on the Day of Reckoning,

For all that has been said about that day is meaningless and untrue;

Spoken merely to pacify the heart.’

Tazkirah al-Khawaas by Sibt ibn Jauzi pg 291

The following poem proves that Yazid never submitted to Islam nor to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

‘Neither has any divine information descended nor any revelation made (to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)).

Naasekh al-Tawaarikh, ch. 3, pg.136, Taarikh-e-Tabari, vol. 11, pg. 358

Sibt Ibne Jauzi on Yazid

On the basis of the above mentioned verses, Sibt ibn Jauzi deemed Yazid to be a disbeliever. However, he did not stop at denouncing Yazid as an apostate. He compiled a book on why Yazid should be cursed and advanced a fitting rebuttal to his supporters who refrain from cursing him on various pretexts like Yazid not being directly responsible for killing Imam Husain’s (a.s.), his having sought forgiveness before dying, prohibition of cursing Muslims and reverting of curse to the one who curses (which is also Ghazzaali’s argument). He titled his book appropriately:

‘Al-Rad ala al-Mutassib al-Aneed al-Maane min Zamme Yazid’

which means:

‘Rebuttal to the stubborn fanatic who refrains from cursing Yazid’

Naturally, this and his other works praising the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and criticizing the companions for their flaws and lapses did not go well with the Ahle Sunnah scholars. They have leveled a series of allegations against him including that of being a Shia. However, it is clear that he was a Sunni, originally from the Hanbali fold, before embracing the Hanafi school.

The Horror at Harrah

Harrah was a suburb of Medina which was plundered by Yazid’s army in 63 A.H. In this year, the people of Medina had risen in support of Abdullah b. Hanzalah and other nobles of the city who were agitating against Yazid’s rule. They had drawn out their swords and were even successful in overpowering the Governor of Medina. This infuriated Yazid no end. Therefore, he sent an army under the leadership of Muslim b. Aqabah to quell the rebellion. In the city of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), this army committed such barbaric and shameless acts which cannot be compared even to the most savage of societies.

Tabari, writes in his Tarikh, ‘Whatever was there in Medina was made permissible for three days by Muslim Ibn Aqabah for his soldiers. People were killed mercilessly. Wailing and grief overcame the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) present in Medina. The most outrageous action which the Syrian army of Yazid b. Muawiyah perpetrated was of violating the chastity of women and girls. As a result, many unlawful children were born.’

Tarikh-e-Tabari, circa 63 A.H.

‘After the incident of Harrah, the women of Medina delivered one thousand illicit children. According to another narration, ten thousand such children were born.’

Tarikh of Sibt b. Jawzi, pg. 289

History is witness that in the entire Medina, only a few houses were secure from the plunder. These were the houses of Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) and others from Bani Hashim. Under special instructions from Yazid, his army did not attack their houses.

Similarly, history records yet another oppressive and heart rending crime of the accursed Yazid in the year 64 A.H. Abdullah b. Zubair having refused to pay allegiance to Yazid, took protection in Mecca. When Yazid sent Muslim b. Aqabah to Medina, he instructed him to arrest Abdullah b. Zubair in Mecca. However, on the way to Mecca, Muslim left for his hellish abode. Husain b. Numair took over as the commander of the army. When he besieged Mecca, Abdullah b. Zubair was in Masjid al-Haraam. He entered the Holy Kaaba and sought shelter there. On which, Husain b. Numair shot huge fire balls at the sacrosanct structure, severely damaging its walls.

Murooj al-Zahab of Masoodi, vol 2, pg 70

The Pronouncement of Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal

Muawiyah declared Yazid to be his successor in 56 AH. He started publicizing that Yazid would get the caliphate after him. In 60 AH. after Muawiyah’s death, Yazid ascended the caliphate, and in 61 AH. the tragedy of Karbala occurred.

Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, the Imam of one of the four sects of Ahle Sunnah, admonished his son in the following words: O My son, only his belief in Allah shall remain safe who curses Yazid.

The tragic event of Karbala has passed but has left its indelible mark on history. By illuminating the humanity it has made every member of the accursed tree easily identifiable till the Day of Judgement. No sooner does any author lift his pen to justify Yazid and his ideology, he is confronted with curses and severe blows at the hands of historical facts.

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