Was Imam Husain (a.s.) killed by Yazid or his Shias?

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A section of the Muslims who find themselves in a spot while defending Yazid’s role in killing Imam Husain (a.s.) make lame excuses and indulge in Shia-bashing as if maligning Shias is the answer to all their woes. Among their most ludicrous claims is that the Shias themselves killed Imam Husain (a.s.) and are now repenting for the same.


1. Who killed Hamzah?
2. Role of companions
3. Yazid’s role
4. Who are the Shias?
5. Yazid’s forces were not Shias

Back to TopWho killed Hamzah (a.s.)?

Who killed Ammar?
This lame excuse reminds one of the argument advanced by Yazid’s father nearly 1,400 years ago when he found himself similarly cornered in Siffeen on the count of being responsible for Ammar’s (r.a.) death, a fact prophesied by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

To deflect blame for killing Ammar b. Yasir (r.a.), one of the greatest companions for whom Paradise was assured, Muawiyah conveniently shifted the blame for the crime of murdering Ammar to Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) by suggesting that since Ali (a.s.) had got Ammar to the Battle of Siffeen, he was the one responsible for killing Ammaar and not Muawiyah.

Going by Muawiyah’s rationale the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is likewise responsible for killing his own uncle Hamzah who came to the Battlefield of Ohad on his (s.a.w.a.) instruction!
Apparently, shifting the blame from the perpetrator of the crime to those who are the farthest in committing it is the most favored response of these Muslims.

Let us see how we can identify the perpetrators of other crimes using the rationale of these Muslims.

Who killed Hamzah (a.s.)?

1. Of course, conventional wisdom suggests as backed by history that the responsibility for killing Hamzah (a.s.) lies with the infidels of Mecca who waged war against the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Muslims.

2. And we have also seen that according to Muawiyah’s rationale, the responsibility for killing Hamzah (a.s.) was with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

3. According to the rationale of these Muslims, the responsibility for Hamzah’s death lies with another group altogether. Let’s refer to the 153rd verse of Surah Aale Imran (3) to find the answer:

‘When you ran off precipitately and did not wait for anyone, the Apostle was calling you from your rear…’

Since according to these Muslims, the treachery of the Shias killed Imam Husain (a.s.), it follows that the treachery of the companions in the Battle of Ohad killed Hamzah (a.s.).

However, for obvious reasons these Muslims won’t admit this fact and will apply their rationale selectively against the Shias.

Who killed Usman?

1. Conventional wisdom suggests that Usman was killed by the Muslims who laid siege to his house and ultimately killed him for his misguided policies.

2. But according to the rationale of these Muslims who put the blame squarely on those who act treacherously, the blame for killing Usman lies with his cousin – Muawiyah b. Abu Sufyan.

It is not a secret that the siege on Usman’s house lasted for over a month during which time he sent SOS to, among others, his cousin Muawiyah. However, for the period Usman was under siege which was considerable, Muawiyah did not send in his army to bail out Usman. This despite the fact that Muawiyah had a huge army at his disposal which only two years later took on the might of the entire Muslim army in Siffeen.

If Muawiyah had shown the same alacrity and enthusiasm in sending help to Medina to rescue Usman, that his son Yazid showed after ascending the throne to demand allegiance from Imam Husain (a.s.) in Medina, Usman’s life could well have been saved. Regardless, does this mean that Usman was a victim of Muawiyah’s treachery rather than the Muslims who actually killed him?

Going by the argument of these Muslims, the answer is yes – Muawiyah killed Usman.

Back to TopRole of companions

Who killed Imam Husain (a.s.)?
According to this group of Muslims, Imam Husain (a.s.) was a victim of treachery by the Shias.

First and foremost if blame must be placed based on treachery, the companions and taabe’een displayed it in ample measure by not supporting Imam Husain (a.s.) against Yazid.

Treachery of the companions and taabe’een
In order to show Yazid in a positive light, these Muslims themselves claim that:

‘Several hundreds of companions despite being alive at the time kept aloof from the battle at Karbala to save the nation from entanglement and bloodshed. Had it been an encounter between good and evil, the companions who throughout their lives had not shirked jihad would have definitely thrown all their weight behind Imam Husain (a.s.).’

So the companions stayed away from Karbala citing confusion between truth and falsehood and not wanting to create bloodshed.

If the companions and taabe’een were indeed confused, then it is despite the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had often declared that Imam Husain (a.s.) is the Lamp of Guidance and the Ark of Salvation. And that Imam Husain (a.s.) and his brother Imam Hasan (a.s.) were the Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise. And that both of them were his sons according to the Verse of Mubahelah in Surah Aale Imran (3): 61 when they along with the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and their parents Ali (a.s.) and Fatima (s.a.) confronted the Christians of Najraan for malediction and drove them into submission.

Moreover, the Quran, which was a sufficient recourse for the Muslims after the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) demise, has prescribed a solution for confusion:

‘…so ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know.’ (Surah Nahl (16): Verse 43)

It is a common fact recorded by Sunni commentators of the Noble Quran that Imam Husain (a.s.) was among the People of the Reminder (Ahle Zikr).

Scores of Sunni scholars over the years have recorded these and other virtues of Imam Husain (a.s.) in their books.

Why did the companions and taabe’een, who were present in the time of Imam Husain (a.s.) and were witness to many of these narrations and incidents, lack the judgment to distinguish between Imam Husain (a.s.) and Yazid?

More so when we find clear instructions from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) urging the Muslims to support Imam Husain (a.s.) as evident from the following narration:

The Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) companion Anas b. Haaris relates –

I heard Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.) say: ‘Verily my son, (Husain), will be killed in a land called Karbala; whoever amongst you is alive at that time must go and help him.’
Tarikh-o-Damishq vol 14 p 223

Are these Muslims suggesting that Umar b. Saad b. Abi Waqqas, who led Yazid’s army in Karbala and was among the leading taabe’een, and the son of a leading companion, had never heard of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) virtues? This despite the fact that Imam Husain (a.s.) was also his cousin? Then why did he fight Imam Husain (a.s.)? If this is not an example of treachery by the companions and taabe’een then what is?

It follows that the confusion between truth and falsehood was not the reason for the companions abandoning support to Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala. It was plain treachery which we saw in ample measure in Ohod and Hunain despite the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) presence in their midst. Obviously when the companions did not support the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his life time, it is too much to expect them to support his grandson (a.s.) 50 years after his (s.a.w.a.) demise.

Therefore we hold the companions responsible for abandoning their duty in supporting Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala and in this way being responsible for killing him.

Back to TopYazid’s role

Yazid’s role in killing Imam Husain (a.s.)
Of course, notwithstanding everyone else who contributed to the turn of events in Karbala, Yazid’s role is unmistakable. He is the one who sought to subjugate Imam Husain (a.s.) into giving him allegiance as various historical records testify.

We read in Maqtal al-Husain of Khaarazmi:
Yazid wrote: ‘Force Husain, Abdullah b. Umar and Abdullah b. Zubair to give allegiance and don’t spare them.’

We also find in the same source:

When he (Waleed) read Yazid’s letter for him (Marwan) and consulted him in the matter and said: ‘What do you think we shall do?’ He (Marwan) replied: ‘Send for them now and ask them to give allegiance and obey us. If they accept, we will let them go but if they reject you should arrest them and strike off their heads.

This is clearly Yazid demanding allegiance and triggering the chain of events culminating in Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom. All other excuses like Shias killing Imam Husain (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) revolting against Yazid etc. have no merit and are only advanced to hide the real culprit – Yazid b. Muawiyah.

Yazid’s letter to Ubaidullah b. Ziyad (l.a.)

We read in Mataalib al-So’l:

Ibn Ziyad wrote to Husain – I have received information that you have arrived in Karbala, and Yazid has told me not to kill you, provided you accept his authority and mine.

Jalaluddin Suyuti records in Taarikh al-Khulafaa:
Yazid wrote to his governor in Iraq, Ubaidullah b. Ziyad, ordering him to fight him (Husain). Therefore, he (Ibn Ziyad) sent an army consisting of four thousand people led by Umar b. Saad b. Abi Waqaas.

Zahabi records in Siyar Aalam al-Nobala, vol.3 p. 305:
Muhammad Ibn al-Dahak narrated from his father: When Husain marched, Yazid wrote to his governor Ibn Ziyad: Husain is marching to Kufa and he is a problem of your time not of other times, your state not of other states and you not for the other governors. At that time you might be free or be slaved.’ Therefore Ibn Ziyad killed him (on Yazid’s beckoning) and sent his head to him (Yazid).

Ibn Ziyad’s own admission that he killed Imam Husain (a.s.) on Yazid’s orders

In Taarikh al-Kaamil, vol.4 p. 112, we find:
He (Yazid) wrote to Ubaidullah b. Ziyad ordering him to march towards Medina and surround (Abdullah) Ibn Zubair in Mecca.

He (Ibn Ziyad) replied: I can’t give both these things to this transgressor (Yazid), after killing the grandson of Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.), I am not now going to assault the Ka’bah.

Testimony of Ibn Abbas that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)

We read in Tareekh al-Kaamil:

Ibn Abbas replied to Yazid’s letter stating: ‘… you killed Husain as well as the youths from Bani Abdul Muttalib who were beacons of guidance and famed stars; your troops marched towards them on your orders.’

Testimony of Abdullah b. Umar that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)

We read in Maqtal al-Husain:
Ibn Umar wrote to Yazid: Hasn’t your heart gone black yet? You murdered thefamily of the Prophet?

Muawiyah b. Yazid’s testimony that his father Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)

We read in Hayaat al-Hayawaan:
When Yazid’s son Muawiyah ascended the throne, in his very first sermon he confessed: We are certain about Yazid’s wrongdoing; he killed the family of the Prophet, deemed alcohol permissible, and tormented the Ka’bah.

Yazid’s own admission that he killed the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
We read in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar:
Following the murder of Imam Husain (a.s.), Yazid declared: I avenged the killing of my relatives in Badr through killing of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) family.

The testimony of Shah Abdul Aziz that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
When the cruel people of Syria and Iraq upon Yazid’s orders and with the efforts of the chief of hatred and corruption, Ibn Ziyad, martyred Imam Husain…
(Tohfah Ithnaa Ashari (Urdu), p. 8 published in Karachi)

The testimony of Shah Abdul Haqq al-Dehlavi that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.):
We read in Al Shiaath al Lamaat vol 4 p 623 Bab Manaqib Quraysh:
It is unusual that some say Yazid did not kill Husain when he instructed Ibn Ziyad to carry out the killing.

The testimony of Imam Zahabi that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
Imam Zahabi in his authoritative work Taarikh al-Islam vol 5 p 30 states:
I say: When Yazid did to the people of Medina what he did and killed Husain and his brothers and progeny, and Yazid drank alcohol, and performed abominable things, the people hated him and rose up against him more than once. Allah didn’t bless his life and Abu Bilal Mirdas b. Adya al-Hanzali rose against him.

The testimony of Ibn Khaldun that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.):
It is impermissible to support Yazid in the matter of killing Husain; nay (Husain’s) murder is Yazid’s deed that proves him to be a transgressor (faasiq) and Husain a martyr.
(Al-Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun, p. 254)

The testimony of Ibn Kathir that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
While discussing the events of 63 AH, Ibn Kathir, a student of Ibn Taymiyyah, states:
It is already mentioned that he (Yazid) killed Husain and his companions through Ubaidullah b. Ziyad.
Al Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah, vol.8 p. 243

Testimony of Qaazi Thanaaullah Panipati that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
Qaazi Thaanaullah Panipati (exp. 1225 AH) was a Sunni scholar of the thirteenth century, who studied under Shah Waliullah Muhaddith-e-Dehlavi (exp. 1176 AH) while his son Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith-e-Dehlavi (exp. 1239 AH) would call Qaazi Thaanaullah the ‘Baihaqi of his time’. He was also the caliph of Mirza Mazhar Jaan-e-Jaanaan (exp. 1195 AH) who would refer to Qaazi Thanaaullah as ‘Alam al-Huda’ (the standard of guidance).

His commentary of the Holy Quran, Tafseer-e-Mazhari, is very popular among these Muslims. Hence, his views about Yazid are extremely pertinent.

Under the commentary of Surah Noor (24): Verse 55, (“…and whoever is ungrateful after this, these it is who are the transgressors…”) he records:
It is possible that this verse refers to Yazid b. Muawiyah who martyred the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his companions; companions who were actually the members of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) family.
Tafsee-e-Mazhari (Urdu), vol.8 p. 268

He also writes:
Yazid and his associates did Kufr with the bounties of Allah. They deemed it as their aim to have a grudge against the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), murdered Husain (a.s.) unjustly. Yazid did Kufr with the religion of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to the extent that Yazid recited the following couplets over the killing of Husain (r.a.):
‘Where are my ancestors, they should come and see that I have taken revenge from the progeny of the Prophet and Bani Hashim’.

And the last verse was:
‘I would not be from the progeny of Jandab had I not taken revenge from the progeny of Ahmad for whatever they had done.’
Tafseer-e-Mazhari (Urdu), vol.5 p. 271, commentary of Surah Ibrahim (14):29

Yazid’s pride at killing Imam Husain (a.s.)
Ibn Asaakir writes: ….when Husain’s head was brought before Yazid, he recited the couplets of Ibn Zubairi: I wish my ancestors of Badr were here to see the fright of al-Khazraj (tribe) as the spears hit.
(Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah, vol.8 p. 204)

Moreover, we read:
Al-Qasim b. Bakt said: When the head of Husain was placed in front of Yazid b. Muawiyah, he struck his (Husain’s) teeth with his stick and remarked: His (Husain’s) and my example is same as the saying of Husain b al-Hamaam al-Mari: These swords split the heads of those men who pose harm to us and they were very disobedient and oppressors.
Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah, vol.8 p. 209

Consensus states that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
Although the Muslims favoring Yazid would have us believe us otherwise, there can be no doubt in the minds of the unbiased student of history that the responsibility for Imam Husain’s (a.s.) killing lies with Yazid alone. No amount of false propaganda and Shia-bashing is going to change this fact.

The following renowned Sunni books firmly establish that Yazid killed Imam Husain (a.s.):
1. Maqtal al-Husain al Khaarazmi, vol.2 p. 80 chap 9
2. Tareekh Yaqoobi, vol.2 p. 299 Dhikr Yazid
3. Mataalib al-So’l, vol.2 p. 26
4. Nur al Absaar p. 139
5. Al Bidayah wa al Nihaayah, p. 219 Zikr 63 Hijri
6. Tareekh al-Kaamil vol.4 p. 69
7. Tareekh al-Tabari p. 408 Zikr Ibn Ziyad
8. Akhbaar al Tiwaal p. 384
9. Tazkirah al-Khawaas p. 159
10. Hayaat al Haywaan vol.1 p. 88
11. Tareekh al-Khamees, vol.2 p. 301
12. Al-Sawaaiq al Muhriqah p. 134
13. Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar p. 73
14. Tohfah aI-Ithna al-Ashariyyah, p. 6 vol.1
15. Al Shiaath al Lamaat vol.4 p. 623 Bab Manaqib Quraysh
16. Shazarath al Dhahab, vol.1 p. 69 Zikr 61 Hijri
17. Tafseer-e-Mazhari vol.5 p. 21 Part 13 Surah Ibrahim
18. Aqaid al-Islam, p. 232 by Maulana Abdul Haqq Haqqaani
19. Imam-e-Paak aur Yazid-e-Paleed, p. 88
20. Aqaid-e-Nafsee, p. 113
21. Sharh al-Maqaasid, vol.2, p. 309
22. Nuzul al Abraar p. 97
23. Irfan al-Shariah, vol.2 p. 21
24. Al-Fataawaa by Maulana Abdul Hai p. 79
25. Shaheed-e-Karbala pp. 11-12 by Mufti Muhammad Shaafi

In Irfan-e-Shariat, Yazid’s role is exposed:
Yazid tore away a piece of the Prophet’s heart, starving him for three days and then killing him, together with his companions. Thereafter, he ordered for horses to trample his body after his martyrdom, as a result of which his body was ripped to shreds. His head was then mounted on a spear; this was a head that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would kiss. The head was (shamelessly) exhibited at various places; people of the household were arrested and brought before the evil Yazid.

Cursed is he who does not deem such acts as atrocious!

Cursing Yazid is permissible for his role in killing Imam Husain (a.s.)
If Yazid was not responsible for killing Imam Husain (a.s.), so many Muslim scholars including the noted Sunni Imams like Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik b. Anas and Imam Shaafe’ee would not have permitted cursing him.

Yazid’s role before and after Karbala
The killing of Imam Husain (a.s.) was not a one week affair that began and ended in Karbala. Demand for allegiance in Medina, Marwan’s threat, Yazid’s replacing Noman b. Basheer with Ibn Ziyad along with clear instructions to subdue and kill Imam Husain (a.s.) if necessary, etc. suggest that killing Imam Husain (a.s.) was pre-determined and well-planned.

Even if we accept the argument that Imam Husain (a.s.) was a victim of Shiite treachery rather than the oppression and tyranny of the progenies of Abu Sufyan, Marwan and Ziyad, this only explains the events of Karbala and Kufa.
The events in the first and last legs of the journey in Medina and Syria respectively belie the claim that Shias killed Imam Husain (a.s.).

The following events that transpired in Syria clearly underscore the role of Yazid in killing Imam Husain (a.s.) as there is no sign of any Shiite element over here:

1. Insulting Imam Husain’s (a.s.) head
Ibn Jauzi records in his book Al-Radd alaa al-Mutassib al-Aneed al-Maane’ le zamme Yazid, p. 58:
Ibn Abi Dunya recorded from Salamah b. Shabib from Al-Humaidi from Sufyan from Salim b. Abi Hafsah from Hasan (al-Basri):

Yazid Ibn Muawiyah was prodding with a stick the place that Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) himself used to kiss. How shameful!

2. Disrespect to the Prophet’s (a.s.) household
Ibn Imaad Hanbali records in his famed work Shazarat al-Dahab vol. 1 p. 61:
When he (Imam Husain (a.s.)) was killed, his head, his women-folk and (his son) Imam Zain al-Aabedeen were taken to Damascus as slaves. May Allah destroy and disgrace whoever did this, whoever issued the orders and whoever was pleased with it!

3. Eid-like celebrations
History is replete with narrations of Eid-like celebrations in Syria on the killing of Imam Husain (a.s.) and cheering on the parading of the children and women of Imam’s (a.s.) household.

All the events of Syria, particularly those that transpired in Yazid’s court viz. insulting Imam Husain’s (a.s.) head and mistreatment of Imam’s (a.s.) household members are Yazid’s doing and there is not even a remote sign of a Shiite element over here, just as there is no sign of Shias in the events of Medina and Karbala.

Back to TopWho are the Shias?

Since these Muslims will not desist from accusing and blaming Shias for the blunders of their leaders, it is important to answer this question in a manner that will put to rest all accusations.

A Shia is the one who believes in Allah’s Oneness (Tauheed), the Prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and the leadership of the divinely appointed Imams (a.s.). So long as he is steadfast on these cornerstones of belief he is a Shia. If he denies any one tenet he is outside the realm of belief and cannot be called a Shia.

Those who betrayed Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala cannot be called as Shias any more than those who turned against Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in the battle of Siffeen and were later branded as Khaarijis can be called Shias. So, it is erroneous to claim that Imam Husain (a.s.) was killed by his Shias. These were his Shias until the time they were steadfast on their allegiance to him. When they severed their allegiance and fought against him they lost their identity as Shias and were just like the other Muslims in Yazid’s forces.

Perhaps one of the more defining traditions about a Shia is from the Master himself – Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.):

Even if I strike the nose of a believer (momin/Shia) with this sword for hating me, he will not hate me, and even if I pile all the wealth of the world before a hypocrite (munafiq) for loving me he will not love. This is because it is pronounced by the tongue of the beloved Prophet. O Ali, a believer will never hate you and a hypocrite (Muslim) will never love you. (Nahjul Balaghah Saying no. 45)

According to this and other traditions of this nature, a Shia with even an iota of doubt about his Imam is outside the realm of faith (imaan) and in the realm of hypocrisy (nifaaq). Leave alone fighting the Imam, according to this tradition of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), the Shia will not even bear the slightest of hatred and indifference towards the Imam, even under the most trying of circumstances and attacks.

Since the so-called Shias of Kufa carried a full-fledged frontal assault on Imam Husain (a.s.) and his companions, they do not qualify as Shias. Rather they are hypocrites and to call them anything else is nothing but an attempt to spread mischief and confusion. The lovers of Ahle Bait (a.s.) know better who is a Shia and do not need others to identify Shias for them.

Muslims of Kufa

Being the center of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) Ali b. Abi Talib’s (a.s.) government after the Battle of Jamal, Kufa was identified as a Shia hub and epicenter of resistance to Bani Ummayah.

However, there were many Muslims who did not owe allegiance to any particular disposition – Alawi or Usmani. They were go-with-the-flow Muslims with a strong herd mentality guiding their disposition. They were the ones who paid allegiance to Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman and followed up by giving allegiance to Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) as a matter of routine, with no particular love or admiration for Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) that would mark them as Shias.

Even those who could be described as Shias did not invoke the confidence of the Imams (a.s.) as they were very fickle in their faith just like other Muslims. Their faith was up for grabs to the highest bidder and since Muawiyah bid the highest these so-called Shias remained in Kufa but acted according to Muawiyah’s bidding and later according to the bidding of Yazid/Ubaidullah b. Ziyad.

This was the biggest challenge faced by Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) and his son – Imam Hasan b. Ali (a.s.) as all their attempts to rally these so-called Shias against Muawiyah came to naught.

So to accuse these Shias of treachery and blame them for the calamity that befell on Imam Husain (a.s.) is missing the point. These Shias were never part of the equation as they did not invoke any confidence and Imam Husain (a.s.) was well-aware of the events unfolding in Kufa even as he was approaching it.

Shias of Karbala

These Muslims who talk of Shiite treachery conveniently ignore that Imam Husain (a.s.) had a small band of true Shia supporters who fought valiantly against Yazid’s forces in Karbala. These were the ones worthy of being Shias and were even called as such by Imam Husain (a.s.) and other Imams (a.s.) of the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

If we go by the treachery argument advanced by these Muslims and consider that Shias were present in Yazid’s forces and Shias were also present in Karbala in Imam Husain’s (a.s.) army, then it was nothing but a battle between two Shia groups! However, no historian has concluded as such and to suggest it shows extreme bias against Shias and very poor understanding of Islamic history.

Faith is based on the present not the past

A person is labeled based on his current inclination and not his previous belief. Having disobeyed Allah, Iblis is no longer referred to as Allah’s worshipper in the Holy Quran and the blessed Sunnah, although he was once ranked alongside the angels. Nor do common Muslims refer to companions like Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman as infidels although they were the leading idol-worshippers of the time before the advent of Islam.

As we find in the incident of Talut and Jalut in Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 249

“So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it…”

All those who drank from the river and they were in the majority, were no longer among Talut’s companions and cannot be referred to as such.

Likewise those who abandoned Imam Husain (a.s.) in Kufa and joined Yazid’s ranks cannot be called as Shias. They were ranked alongside Yazid’s forces and all attributes used for Yazid’s forces applies to these so-called Shias as well.

We do not see Muslims accusing Talha and Zubair of treachery after they severed their allegiance and waged a ferocious battle against their Master and Imam – Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) resulting in the death of thousands of Muslims. Therefore singling out the Shias for their role in the events of Kufa and Karbala is nothing but a lame attempt to misguide the Muslims with regards Yazid’s role in Imam Husain’s (a.s.) murder.

Back to TopYazid’s forces were not Shias

To conclude the matter, it’s best to refer to the faith of the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.) both those directly and indirectly involved. If they were followers of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) then they were the Shias, else they were Muslims claiming to follow the Sunnah.

1. Yazid ibn Muawiyah
Without doubt, the biggest contributor to the shedding of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) blood and its main proponent was Yazid b. Muawiyah. And there can be no two ways of his animosity and the animosity of his clansmen – the Bani Umayyah for the Bani Hashim. Under the circumstances, he was not a Shia of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) nor would he have liked to be referred to as such.

2. Ubaydillah b. Ziyaad
Not having the courage to take on Imam Husain (a.s.) himself, Yazid got Ubaydillah to do the task for him just like his father Muawiyah got Ubaydillah’s father – Ziyaad to take on Imam Hasan (a.s.).
The progeny of Ziyaad harboured extreme animosity against the Ahle Bait (a.s.), so there is no question of them being the Shias of Ahle Bait (a.s.).

3. Umar b. Saad
Since Ubaydillah also lacked the courage to confront Imam Husain (a.s.) he appointed Umar b. Saad for the task. Umar b. Saad also cannot be called a Shia given his father Saad b. Abi Waqqaas’s ambivalence towards Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) Ali b. Abi Talib and his refraining from giving him allegiance at a time when the entire Muslim nation with a few exceptions had given Ali (a.s.) their allegiance. Umar b. Saad was a cousin of Imam Husain (a.s.) but then so was Yazid. It is widely reported that Umar b. Saad undertook the crime of killing Imam Husain (a.s.) for the governorship of Ray (Suburb of Teheran, Iran). So there is no question of Umar b. Saad being a Shia of the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

After naming the three biggest names responsible for killing Imam Husain (a.s.) and establishing their religious credentials as so-called Muslims who practiced the Sunnah, we now turn to their henchmen who were involved in the battle of Karbala. For brevity we have highlighted only a few and interested readers can refer Tarikh-e-Tabair for more examples.

4. Ka’b b. Jaabir
Ka’b b. Jaabir was a warrior in Umar b. Saad’s army in Karbala. He was the killer of Burair b. Khozair, one of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) respected companions.

He recited several couplets after Karbala to the effect that he had submitted his faith to the children of Abu Sufyan and wished to claim his reward from Ibne Ziyaad.

4) Muzaahim b. Haaris
While battling Naafe b. Hilaal Jamali, a companion of Imam Husain (a.s.), in Karbala he declared:
I am on Usman’s religion.
(Taarikh-e-Tabari vol 6, p 229)

5) Amr b. Hajjaaj
Amr b. Hajjaaj from Umar b. Saad’s army urged his soldiers to remain firm against those who abandoned religion i.e. Imam Husain’s (a.s.) army. Imam Husain (a.s.) rebuked him for his audacity.
(Taarikh-e-Tabari vol. 6, p. 249)

6) Shimr b. Ziljawshan
It is widely documented that it was Shimr who eventually killed Imam Husain (a.s.) when none dared to commit the heinous crime. Long before that, he was commanded explicitly by Ibne Ziyaad to take over the reins of the army if Umar b. Saad showed weakness in executing the plan to kill Imam Husain (a.s.).

Shimr was always a part of Ibne Ziyaad’s coterie in Kufa and there is no question of his being a Shia given his animosity for the Ahle Bait (a.s.), although he did fight on the side of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) against Muawiyah in Siffeen. He was among the majority of the Muslims who took Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) as the fourth caliph and did not have any particular inclination towards Ali’s (a.s.) Mastership – the hallmark of a Shia.

Who killed Imam Husain (a.s.)
We revisit this question to end the matter conclusively. It is clear from the evidences advanced that the responsibility of killing Imam Husain (a.s.) lies entirely on Yazid’s shoulders. For those who go by consensus (ijmaa), this is indeed the verdict of the ijmaa. Blaming Shias for the crimes of Yazid and Ubaydillah b. Ziyaad is not the verdict of the ijmaa, it is the verdict of a niche group of Muslims, who find themselves in a corner and have no place to look out of the sheer embarrassment of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) killing. The motley group of so-called Shias they hold responsible for the crime can hardly be described as such as we have proved.

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