Yazid I

Yazid I

Infobox Monarch
name =Yazid I
title =Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty
reign =680 – 683
full name =Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwīyah ibn Abu Sufyān
predecessor =Muawiya I
successor =Muawiya II
dynasty =Umayyad
father =Muawiya I
mother =Maysun
date of birth =645
date of death =683

Yazid ibn Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan ( _ar. يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان) (July 23645 - 683) was the second Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty and ruled for 3 years from 680CE until his death in 683 CE. His mother Maysun was Jewish. His reign is marked by two major revolts. One of Hussein ibn Ali and the other known as Ibn al-Zubair's revolt. He is also notable as an object of Shia Muslim animosity; they reject his legitimacy and condemn his role in the Battle of Karbala which resulted in the death of Hussein ibn Ali and the greater Sunni-Shia schism.

Before the Caliphate

Yazid was an important general and naval commander in his father's Syrian army. As early as 668 the Caliph Muawiyah I sent an army under his son Yazid against the Byzantine Empire. Yazid reached as far as Chalcedon and took the important Byzantine center Amorion. Although the city was quickly recovered, the Arabs next attacked Carthage and Sicily in 669. In 670 the Arabs captured Cyzicus and set up a base from which to launch further attacks into the heart of the Empire. Yazid’s fleet captured Smyrna and other coastal cities in 672.

Accession to the caliphate

The issue of succession to the caliphate had proved divisive in the past (see Succession to Muhammad). When Ali was assassinated in 661, Muawiyah, as commander of the largest force in the Muslim Empire, had the strongest claim to the Caliphate. Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali, after initial defiance of Muawiyah, ceased hostilities and retired to Medina. Sunni Muslims claim that Hasan ibn Ali pledged allegiance to Muawiyah. One of Caliph Muawiyah's most controversial and enduring legacies was his decision to designate his son Yazid as his successor; thereby the Caliphate became a dynasty. Muawiyah died May 6,680.

Husayn bin Ali and Ibn al-Zubair's revolt

Kufa, a garrison town in what is now Iraq, had been Caliph Ali's capital, and there were still many people in Kufa claiming they are still supporters of Ali. Husayn ibn Ali received many letters from the Kufans expressing their offer of support if he claimed the caliphate. They were also trying to restore Kufa's power against Damascus, the Umayyad capital.
Abd-Allah ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Zubayr held a meeting with Husayn ibn Ali in Mecca to advise him to refuse to travel to Iraq. Meanwhile Husayn ibn Ali corresponded with nobles of Basrah and asked them to support him. Major tribes of Basrah gathered and got ready for the fight against Yazid I and informed Husayn ibn Ali. At the same time Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, governor of Basrah, executed one of the messengers of Husayn ibn Ali and then addressed the people and warned them to avoid the insurgency. Husayn departed towards Kufa despite many warnings and mid way he and many members of his family were killed or captured at the Battle of Karbala. Yazid was a tyrant and hypocrite, who bred animosity toward advocates of Muhammad and his progeny. He was from a tribe whose forefathers such as Abu Sufyan and Muwiah had openly fought against Muhammad and his progeny before they converted to Islam but they stopped that afterwards.

The complications of Yazid's accession to the Caliphate didn't end there. Many Sahaba and fellow Muslims refused to give their oath of allegiance to Yazid simply because they saw it as usurpation of power and not the proper way of choosing a Caliph by the Shura or Council. The most prominent among these resistors was Abdullah ibn Zubayr.

Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Umar opposed Yazid's position as Caliph. Abdullah bin Zubayr launched an insurgency in the Hejaz, the heartland of Islam, where Mecca and Medina are. Yazid sent armies against him in 683. After the Battle of al-Harra, Medina was re-captured and Mecca was also besieged. During the siege, the Holy Kaaba was damaged. The siege ended when Yazid died suddenly in 683 CE. He was briefly succeeded by his son, Muawiya II.

Sunni View of Yazid

*Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari records under the year 49 Hijri (or 669-670 CE) during the reign of Muawiyah I, a number of forces, including one under Yazid attacked Constantinople. This First Arab siege of Constantinople was a naval assault lasting through the years 670-677. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was also among the notables accompanying Yazid. This journey marks an important event in the life of young Yazid (27 at that time), as he became one who was promised paradise according to the following Hadith;

cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|They relate that 'Umair bin Al-Aswad Al-Anasi told him that he went to 'Ubada bin As-Samit while he was staying in his house at the sea-shore of Him with (his wife) Um Haram. 'Umair said. Um Haram informed us that she heard Muhammad saying, "Paradise is granted to the first batch of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition." Um Haram added, I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Will I be amongst them?' He replied, 'You are amongst them.' Muhammad then said, the first army amongst my followers who will invade Caesar's City will be forgiven their sins. I asked, 'Will I be one of them, O Allah's Apostle?' He replied in the negative."- Volume 4, Book 52, Number 175 Narrated Khalid bin Madan.

*Imam Muhammad Ghazali is quoted in several books saying;cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|He (Yazid) was a Muslim with a correct Islamic principles and a complete Muslim and it is not permissible in the Islamic laws or practices to curse and abuse him. - (see in the following books: "Ahyaa al-Uloom" (3/108), "Wafyaat al-A’yaan" (1/328), "Miratul-Janaan" (3/176), "al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah" (12/173), "Hayaat al-Haiwaan" (2/176), "Sawaa’iq al-Meharqah" (pg.222), "Dhuu al-Ma’alee" (pg.49), "Sharh Fiqhul-Akbar" (pg.87), "Nibraas" (pg.551), "Shadhraat adh-Dhahab Fee Akhbaar Minal Madhab" (1/69), "Tafseer Rooh al-Ma’anee" (13/73), "Fatwa Azizi" (1/100), "Fatwa Abdul-Hayy" (1/60), "Aqaa’id al-Islam" (pg.223).

*Mullah Ali Qari said, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0| “The majority of the Scholars have prohibited cursing Yazid and Hajjaj.” - (Book: "Mirqaat Sharh Mishkaat" (4/52).

*Imam Qazi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi Maliki another scholar did not hold permissible the cursing and abusing of Yazid nor declaring him to be a disbeliever. He said, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“If it is said justice and knowledge are from the conditions of Caliphate and Yazid neither had justice nor knowledge, then we would have to ask, by what evidence this conclusion was drawn that Yazid had no justice or knowledge.” (al-Awasim Minal Qawasim (pg.222) In another statement; cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0| “Where are those historians who wrote against Yazid in mentioning alcohol and open sinning, do they not have any shame?” – meaning where are the evidences for these accusations. (ref books:al-Awasim Minal Qawasim (pg.222)

*Sheikh Abdul Mugheeth Hanbali has the unique distinction of being one of the earliest known biographers of Yazid. Hafiz Ibn Kathir said about Sheikh Abdul Mugheeth that, “He was from the righteous Hanbali’s who the common folk referred to.” - ("al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah" (12/328).Sheikh Abdul Mugheeth was also not in favor of cursing Yazid or declaring him to be a disbeliever, rather he authored a biography of Yazid with the title of “Fadhal Yazid.” and ‘Fadhal Yazid bin Muawiyah’. - (ref books: "Hidaayatul A’aarifeen Asmaa al-Mu’allifeen Wa Athaar Musannifeen" (5/623), "al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah" (12/328).

*Ibn Kathir reported on Allama Abul-Khair Qazwaini ,another Islamic Scholar,that; cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“After he left Qazwain he went to Baghdad where he became a teacher in Madrassa Nizamia and he would admonish and deliver lectures to the people. So on the day of Ashurah he sat on the minbar to admonish the people, it was said to him to curse Yazid bin Muawiyah. He replied, “He was but an Imam Mujtahid.” - (ref books: "al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah" (9/13), "Risaalah al-Mustarfah Lee-Bayaan Mashoor Kitaab as-Sunnah al-Musharfah" (pg.132).

*Ibn Salah was also not in favor of cursing Yazid or saying he was a disbeliever. Ibn Hajr the Meccan writes, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“Ibn Salah who is from our jurists and scholars of Hadith, I have seen in his Fatwa that when he was asked concerning the individual who would only curse Yazid because he ordered the death of Husayn. Then in answer to this he said, according to us Yazid ordering the death of Hussain is not a correct report and cursing and abusing Yazid is not the sign of a believer…..” - ("as-Sawaa’iq al-Meharqah" (pg.222).

*Ibn Taymiyyah was neither in favor of cursing Yazid nor declaring him to be a disbeliever. He says, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“And the people who curse Yazid and other such people like him then it is upon them to bring evidence, Firstly: that he (Yazid) was an open sinner and an oppressor and therefore prove he really was an open sinner and an oppressor as allowing him to be cursed needs to be proven that he continued this open sinning and oppression to the end up until his death. Secondly: Then after this they must prove that it is permissible to curse specific people like Yazid. ………… and the verse, “May the Curse of Allah be upon the oppressors”, is a general verse like the verses concerning punishment…………..And the Hadith compiled by Bukhari states the first army to wage Jihad against Constantinople is forgiven and it is clear that their commander Yazid ibn Muawiyah was a member of this army and is included in this forgiveness………..” - (ref books: "Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah Fee Naqdh Kalaam ash-Shee’ah Wal-Qadariyyah" (2/252), "al-Muntaqa Minhaaj al-Ei’tidaal Fee Naqdh Kalaam ar-Rafdh Wal-Ei’tizaal" (pg.290).

*Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya writes in his book “al-Manaar al-Muneef”,cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0| “All the narration’s that mention the censure of Yazid bin Muawiyah are lies...…………All the narration’s that mention the censure of Muawiyah are lies.” - (ref book: "al-Manaar al-Muneef Fis-Saheeh Wadh-Dha’eef" - pg.220).

*Ibn Kathir after mentioning the position of Al-Harasi (of the permissibility of cursing) he mentions his statements and says, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“Imam Ghazali has opposed the attribution of open sinning and tyranny to Yazid and has prohibited from abusing Yazid because he was a Muslim and it is not established he expressed happiness or joy on the death of Husayn.......” (al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah (12/173).

*Ibn Rajab did not hold the opinion of cursing and declaring Yazid to be a disbeliever. He refuted the allegation on Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal that he cursed Yazid. So he writes, cquote|bgcolor=#F0FFF0|“The statement of Imam Ahmad only establishes cursing on all of the oppressors and there is no clarification or specification for the permissibility of cursing Yazid only.” - (ref book: D"hail Tabaqaat Hanabillah" (2/356).

Shi'a view of Yazid

For Shi'a Muslims, Yazid is considered the worst tyrant, who will always be remembered for his slaughtering of Husayn, and murdering and persecuting the family of Muhammad. Leaving aside what Shi'a scholars might say regarding Yazid, his nature is apparent even in Sunni texts:

*Ibn Taymiyyah, a Sunni scholar who sanctioned violence against Shia Muslims [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.94] stated the following concerning the nature of Yazid's position: cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“Yazid had the sword and hence he had the power to deal with anyone that opposed him. He had the power to reward his subjects with the contents of the treasury, and could also withhold their rights. He had the power to punish criminals; it is in this context that we can understand that he was the khalifah and king. Issues such as Yazid's piety or lack of it, or his honesty or lack of it, is another matter. In all of his actions Yazid was not just, there is no dispute amongst the people of Islam on this matter.” - (ref book: "Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah ")

*Shaykh al-hadith Muhammad Zakaria, an Indian Sunni scholar, has stated the following regarding the manner in which Yazid came to power: cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“The army that Yazid had sent to Madinah comprised of 60,000 horsemen and 15,000 foot soldiers. For three days they shed blood freely, 1000 women were raped and 700 named Quraysh and Ansar were killed. Ten thousand women and children were made slaves. Muslim bin Uqba forced people to give allegiance to Yazid in such a manner that people were enslaved and Yazid could sell them as he pleased, no Sahaba who were [with the Prophet] at Hudaibiya were spared.” - (ref book: "'Au Khanar al Masalik" vol.3 pg.450).

*Ibn Kathir a famously renowned Sunni Islamic scholar, himself reports on the character of Yazid: cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“Traditions inform us that Yazid loved worldly vices; would drink; listen to music; kept the company of boys with no facial hair; played drums; kept dogs; made frogs, bears and monkeys fight. Every morning he used be intoxicated, and he used to bind monkeys with the saddle of a horse and make the horse run.” - (ref book: "al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah" vol.8 pg.1169)

*Ibn Sa'd, another Sunni scholar, writes in his book, Tabaqat Al-Kubra regarding the nature of Yazid:cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“Abdullah bin Hanzala the Sahaba stated, 'By Allah we opposed Yazid at the point when we feared that stones would reign down on us from the skies. He was a Fasiq who copulated with his mother, sister and daughters, who drank alcohol and did not offer Salaat.” - (ref book: "Tabaqat Al-Kubra" vol.5 pg.66)

*After Yazid's death, when Muawiyah II (Yazid's son) was made to be the caliph, he stated the following in his inaugural address with regards to his father and his grandfather (Muawiyah I), as recorded by Ibn Hajr al-Haythami another scholar of the Ahl us-Sunnah:cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“When Yazid's son came to power he gave the speech:

'Khilafat is from Allah. My grand father Mu'awiya bin Abu Sufyan fought for khilafat against an individual who was more entitled to it, that being Ali. He (Mu'awiya I) performed actions that you are all aware of, and he is suffering in his grave for that. Then my father Yazid became the khalifah even though he was not deserving of khilafat. He fought the grandson of Rasulullah ( Husayn ) and is suffering in the grave on account of his sins.'

Mu'awiya bin Yazid (Muawiyah II) then proceeded to cry, 'It is a terrible thing that we are fully aware of Yazid's bad deeds: he slaughtered the family of the Prophet, he deemed alcohol Halal, and set fire to the Ka'ba.” - (ref book: "Sawaiq al Muhriqa" pg.134)

*Although many Sunni Muslims are against the cursing of Yazid, Yazid is cursed even according to the definitions of Muhammad, as recorded by Ibn Kathir:cquote|bgcolor=#F0F8FF|“Rasulullah said, whoever perpetuates injustice and frightens the residents of Madinah, the curse of Allah, His Angels and all people is on such a person.” - (ref book: "al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah" vol.8 pg.1147)

The events at Karbala figure as fundamental in Shi'a thought, and many Islamist movements liken their causes to Husayn ibn Ali's struggle against Yazid. Leaders of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi government frequently drew such comparisons.

The 10th of Muharram (also known as Ashura), is the Islamic calendar date on which the Battle of Karbala occurred and is commemorated as a day of mourning by Muslims around the world. Rituals on Ashura' usually involve public processions during which the Muslims reject Yazid's caliphate and recite poems commemorating Husayn ibn Ali and his death. Muslims around the world refer to Yazid as "the tyrant."


External links

* [http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/yazeed/en/index.php An article about Yazid from a Shi'a standpoint]

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