Here, there is a number of issues to be taken into consideration

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Legitimacy of Revolting against the authority


Here, there is a number of issues to be taken into consideration:


Rebellion is not limited to armed activity:

(First) Rebellion against the authority is not restricted to armed activity exclusively. However, it also includes the declaration of rejecting the authority and publicly disobeying it. This is actually more comprehensive than initiating armed activity. There is no proof that Imams (P) adopted armed confrontation against the authority, despite the fact that they were able to mobilize supporters and followers. They did not resort to this method, even when their lives where jeopardized. When the Imam was threatened by assassination, the Imam can protect himself, solidify his position, imply using force and call to armed mutiny to prevent the oppressor from conspiring. However, Imams (P) did not do that. They faced their destiny while satisfied and content with what Allah has chosen to them.

Imam Husayn (P) did not Aim at Initiating a Military Coup:

 Even Imam Husayn (P) did not start a military activity. In other words, he did not revolt with the purpose of ousting the tyrannical authority. If he wanted, he would not have taken his family, women and children in addition to a limited number of his companions. He knew that the wolves in the deserts would dismember his body between Nawawis and Karbala. However, he revolted to reform the nation, order the right and forbid the wrong, as he himself explicitly said.([1]) He wanted to revive the Sunnah [of the Prophet] and get rid of heresy. He wanted to establish the rule and provisions of Allah. That was after he was compelled following thethousands of messages that came in to him and demanded him to go to them [in Kufa]. Later, he sent his cousin Muslim Ibn Aqil to validate the allegiance of people to obey him. Muslim answered him that they were resolute and supportive as best can be. His stance when he responded to them was like the stance of his father, the Commander of the Faithful (P) after Othman was murdered. He expressed his position when he said, “if those present had not been here; if I had had no evidence that there were supporters, I would have left this matter as it existed. I would have granted the last the rule of the first. You would have found out that your whole world for me was worth less than the sneeze of a goat.([2])

Imam Husayn (P) only fought when he did it on Ashura (tenth day of Muharram 61 A.H.] to defend himself when people forced him to do so, and self-defense is a duty. Imam Husayn ordered his companions not to start the other army with combat in order not to leave the enemy an excuse. Even his messenger Muslim Ibn Aqil did not conduct a military coup. He did not take over the palace of the ruler in Kufa by force despite the fact that Kufa was within his grip. He only besieged the palace to save the oppressed like Hani Ibn Urwa.

Therefore, Imam Husayn (P) knew, on the road to Kufa, that the people of Kufa let him down when they turned against him. He also knew that Muslim Ibn Aqil was killed. Also,Horr Riahi intercepted him with his army to take him. Then, Imam Husayn (P) said to the army among other words, “If your allegiance were other than the letters you sent me and your ambassadors who came to me, I will return to the place I came from.” However, Horr and his army stopped him and forced him to take a road that would neither take him back to Madina nor get him to Kufa. Imam (P) headed left until he arrived in Karbala where he stopped and erected the camp.([3])

Imam Husayn repeated his request to the enemy on Ashura when he argued with evidence that they contacted him and asked him to come to them. Then, Imam Husayn had an excuse not to respond to them. It was a case just like had happened to his brother, Imam Hasan, left the chiefdom of Muslims and returned it to them when they let him down and were reluctant to support him. Both Imams Hasan and Husayn have the same path, stance and approach.The legitimate rulers of Islam would not coerce the nation over anything. These results that I am mentioning are key facts in this regard that must be taken advantage of.

Some people concluded that the argument regarding the military revolution of Imam Husayn was debatable. Shahid Sadr al-Awwal (the First) said in a research titled (The Role of Imams in Islamic Life) that I explained in a book holding the same title, “The positive role of Imams (P) was in the uncovering of the perverted leadership as it became a grave jeopardy. They had to do that even if it meant doing it through armed clash with the authority and obtaining martyrdom for the sake of uncovering its falsification and paralyzing its schemes, just like Imam Husayn (P) did with Yazid.”([4])

Was Imam Husayn’s Movement a Particular Duty for Him Only?

Shahid Sadr Thani commented on the first paragraph of his words in what appeared to mean that the movement of Imam Husayn was exceptional, i.e. a particular duty for him only. Sadr says in his commentary, “The danger was not really imminent. It was sufficient for him to perform some actions to repel the danger and limit this action to certain deeds. He did not have to face martyrdom. Imam Husayn could have gone to Yemen or any other place even if it meant taking shelter for a limited time. Even if Imam Husayn (P) had concluded a truce with Yazid, that would not have been a wrong deed. It would not be more grievous than those actions of his father and brother. Wisdom [divine will] stipulated his death for causes that the ordinary person would not be able to comprehend. We will mention two of them:

First: He has a benefit for him and the martyrs with him as he hasreached sublime degrees that Allah gave to him that no one can reach without becoming a martyr. Martyrdom is so cheap in his eyes if he had to die to obtain those degrees. This is the same rhetoric that applies to his companions who wanted to be rewarded [in Heaven] according to their individual degree and loyalty.”

In my opinion, this benefit is not limited to the afterlife; however, in this world, there are blessings of Imam Husayn (P) and advantages to the religion, the Shia faith and the believers. The impact of this benefit cannot be equated with any other reason. This means that the religion, faith and believers reach degrees and extents that they will only reach with such great sacrifice of Imam Husayn (P).

Second: there is benefit for the society, which means that he gives a perfect example of sacrifice for the sake of Allah. Afterwards, what remains in the hand of any human is certainly less than his sacrifice whether in the minor Jihad [Military combat] or major Jihad [struggle against oneself] or any other work of the personal or public works. A man would be ashamed when he compares his work to that of Imam Husayn (P). He can find a great gap between his deeds and Imam Husayn’s accomplishments, in addition to other matters.”([5])

In my opinion, some debate the claim that Imam Husayn (P) revolted for a duty specific to him only, but this argument is surely incomplete. That is, if the meaning behind a specific assignment is not being evident for others, even when the same conditions and objective circumstances are accomplished because:

1-  This is not evident, and it is against the original case that requires generalization and commonality.

2-  Imam Husayn (P) himself stated that his assignment was not particular; however, it is general to all who have obtained the conditions of assignment to revolt. He said in his speech to the companions of Horr, “You have a good example in me.”([6])

3-  The words of Imam Husayn above are explicit in their general nature when he justified his revolt and its objectives.

4-  Imams (P) defended the revolt of people other than Imam Husayn (P) such as Zaid the Martyr. This is contradictory to the opinion saying that the assignment is specific.

Indeed, the specific assignment might mean that he was exclusively assigned on the contrary to the Imams after him while taking into consideration the surrounding circumstances and accompanying incidents in that period against the unjust authority. The assignment of Imam Ali (P) was to be patient. Imam Hasan (P) was assigned to waiver the authority and rule. However, the assignment of Imam Rida (P) was to accept the crown princedom. In this sense, the specificity is correct. It, however, does not negate the proven assignment for anyone else who might be subject to the same situations and circumstances, i.e., it is not a specific exclusive assignment.

In conclusion, the particular nature of the movement of Imam Husayn (P) is about the subject or the conditions and circumstances that occurred with him. It is not in the judgment itself, as apparent from his words.

He commented on the second paragraph of his words, “In order to uncover their falsification.” He said, “According to my incomplete understanding, if this were required for Husayn (P), it would be sufficient to find the broad range of a loyal group and declaration of the matter with letters and books, etc. I do not think Yazid hid the fact that he consumed alcohol and was licentious. That particular fact would uncover his falsification beforehand, which is the easiest thing to do.”([7])

It is worth noting thatthere is a moral in the Letter of Imam Husayn (P) mentioned earlier to Muawiyah saying, “I never wanted to wage a war or to enter in a dispute. I fear Allah in leaving that from you and from your party who are unjust and who do not abide by divine orders. They are the oppressor’s party and the supporters of the denounced devil.” He also said, “I assure you that I do not know of any subversion graver than your leadership of this nation. By Allah, I know nothing better than fighting you. If I shall do it, it would be to gain Allah’s satisfaction. If I do not do it, I ask forgiveness from Allah for my religion. I ask Him for support to what He favors and is satisfied with.”

In my opinion, these texts and others reveal that the Imam’s abstention from using force against the regime was not because they do not deserve that, but because there were obstacles like fear of sedition, incurring chaos and disruption of public order. Otherwise, it was that the nation was not ready to accept the just government. Probably, the number of supporters who would believe in the project of the Imam was insufficient. If they were found, the might not have been qualified to help him establish it. So on and so forth. Such similar matters will be discussed too, hopefully. This supports what we mentioned regarding that the fact that the assignment is not only limited for the reason calling for the revolt, but also there is consideration of not having a barrier; therefore, revolt was left to the leader as he is the most competent to diagnose all those particularities.


([1]) Refer to the Letter (Reform: Letter of Imam Husayn (P) in the Book “Rhetoric of the Era”: 8/71; you find in it the saying of the Commander of the Faithful (P), “O Allah, you know that we did not compete for an authority and did not seek to obtain anything of the leftovers of this wrecked pieces of this world. However, we aimed at returning the landmarks of your religion. We wanted to spread reform in your country. We wanted the oppressed creatures of your to be safe, and for the unimplemented rules of your religion to be restored.” (Nahjul Balagha: 131.)

([2]) Nahj al-Balagha; Section 1; Shaqshaqiyah Sermon.

([3]) Sahih men Maqtal Sayyid Shuhada was Ashabih (The Right on the Killing of Imam Husayn (P)): 581.

([4]) The Role of Imams in the Islamic Life: 31.

([5]) The role of Imams in Islamic Life: 31.

([6]) History of Tabari: 7/300.

([7]) The Role of Imams in Islamic Life: 31.