Category Archives: History

The Event of the Change of Qiblah

Changing the Qiblah or Religious Authority??

Muslims usually welcome the month of Shabaan with various religious activities. The Prophet ﷺ used to fast much during the month of Shabaan as narrated by A’isha (radhiyallahu anha).

However, a great event which can be regarded as a turning point in the history of Islam has taken place in this blessed month. Though this event might indicate many crucial things, and the surrounding conditions might attest to its deep impact, it did not draw full attention of Muslim historians and biographers.

Amid the events related by the great historian Ibn Hisham after the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah, he says in no more than two lines in his outstanding book on the biography of the Prophet ﷺ:

“It is narrated that the qiblah was changed in Shabaan after 18 months of the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah.”

However, using this phrase, “It is narrated”, indicates that the event did not draw much attention so that historians become keen on verifying its exact date.

Notwithstanding, the event was so inportant that the Jewish tribes in Madinah waged a psychological warfare against Islam and its first teacher. It is to be noted here that before this event takes place, there was a covenant between the Jews and the Prophet ﷺ which they did not even respect. In fact, though they realized the ramifications of the event well, they went astray in their reaction and opened fire against the true religion of Islam.

They realized that it is not only a matter of changing the qiblah in prayer from one direction to another. Rather, the Divine message and consequently the religious authority has completely shifted from the Children of Israel to those of Isma’il. Accordingly, their claims of religious glory, being the sole mediator between heaven and Earth, and being the only guided nation among an ocean of astray ones; all these allegations have ended.

Now, let us start the story from the beginning… 

The One Original Qiblah

The Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews who ised to live around Madinah in a distinguished manner. This stemmed from the fact that the Jews were closer to the divine revelation than any other nation at that time.

After Hijrah, a divine decree that the Prophet ﷺ as well as Muslims should direct their faces in prayer towards Jerusalem was revealed. Most scholars maintain the view that this decree was designed tp test Muslims’ response to the last message as well as its honourable Messenger. This is evidenced by the Qur’an as the Almighty says,

“….and We appointed the Qiblah to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith). Indeed, it was a changed momentous, except to those guided by Allah.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:143]

This divine ayah implies, a well-established fact that should be borne in the minds of all, that the Sacred House (i.e. Ka’bah) is the qiblah and there is no other qiblah whatsoever in the true faith but this one. Accordingly, facing Jerusalem in Prayer for about 18 months does not defy this fact and does not mean that Jerusalem has become the qiblah regardless of its sanctity. Though Jerusalem was a landing place for many divine revelations and the abode of many sent prophets, facing it in Prayer was a two-purpose test. First, it was designed to test Muslims’ readiness to desert all their personal or traditional attachments. Secondly, to test the Jews’ willingness to follow the true religion and the seal of all prophets without questioning or objecting to the divine decrees he brings with him.

To make sure that this fact – that the Ka’bah is the original qiblah – the Qur’an does skip it and thus asserts,

“The first house (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkah; full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are Signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if they deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.”   [Surah Aal’ Imran 3:96-97]

Religious Glory Lost

After the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to direct his face in Prayer towards the Ka’bah, the Jews realized something which rigorously upset them; namely, the fading of their religious glory. As they, in the very beginning and due to the Prophet’s ﷺ special treatment to them, fancied he would pursue their very steps. However, after that Divine decree, it became apparent to them that this was nothing but mirage  and that the Prophet’s ﷺ message was a corrective one. Truly, it was revealed to correct and amend what they have falsified of the religion of Allah and the distortions and confusion they have attributed to it.

Th Jews’ self-deceit that they would be guardians of the Muslim faith and that Jerusalem should be the permanant qiblah, made them forget the fact that the Ka’bah is the sole qiblah as stated in the Qur’an and that there should be no qiblah other than this.

However, this intentionally forgotten fact as far as the Jews were concerned, did not escape the mind of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As he yearned for the Ka’bah all the time and used to turn his face to the sky perhaps a divine decree comes soon taking him back to the qiblah he earnestly longs for with his guiding insight. In this regard, the Almighty says,

“We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens. Now shall we turn thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The People of the Book know well that, that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:144]

Total Submission

Consequently, the Prophet ﷺ directed his face towards the Ka’bah and his heart was eased, while the Jews were dying out of malice and wrath. What they feared most in the past has become true especially when Muslims hastened to carry out the Divine ordinance such as the Bani Salim folk who did not even wait until they finish their ‘Asr prayer when they were informed of the news. Instead, they changed their direction towards the Ka’bah while in ruku’ (Arabic for bowing) as a sign of their unquestionable obedience to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.

Psychological Warfare

As the Jews lost their last hope that they would continue as holders of the divine message, they waged a fierce psychological against Islam and Muslims. They started to circulate rumours and raise false questions such as why did Muhammad ﷺ change the qiblah of all past Prophets and Messengers though he claims to be pursuing their course?

To add fuel to the fire, they wondered, “Maybe he longs for the faith of his forefathers and that is why he turned to their qiblah!”  Given this, they missed the fact that it was prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il (alayhimussalaam) who built the Ka’bah. Moreover, the Qur’an attributes the Ka’bah to Allah Himself as Almighty says,

“….and We covenanted with Ibrahim and Isma’il that they should sanctify my house for those who circumambulate it, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (there in prayer).” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:125]

Explicitly, the Qur’an defies the rumours spread by the Jews, refutes their allegations, and even describes them as foolish. Almighty says,

“The fools among the people will say: “What hath turned them from the qiblah to which they were used?” Say: “To Allah belong east and west. He guideth whom He wills to Straight Way.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:142]

Moreover, the Jews misinterpreted the concept of righteousness and twisted it to mean directing one’s face towards Jerusalem. Consequently, according to them, when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ directed his face away from Jerusalem and turned it towards the Ka’bah, he went astray and took a course far from righteousness and the ethics of the Divine message.

Facts vs Fallacies

Duly, the Divine inspiration kept moving the Prophet ﷺ with the Qur’anic aayahs (Arabic for: verses) that reveal the truth about the whole issue. Uninterruptedly, the ayahs were revealed to remove the pain caused by the rumours circulated by the Jews; to defy the psychological warfare they waged against Islam and its prophet, and to refute the false allegations they perpetrated to distort the image of Islam and discourage its followers.

In doing so, the Qur’an made a general statement about ownership of the whole universe and that it is only Allah Who decides to which side one should direct his face in prayer. Almighty says,

“And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you (might) turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”   [Surah al-Baqarah 2:115]

In the same vein, the Qur’an established the correct understanding of the concept of righteousness in a great ayah that is called Ayat al-Birr (Arabic for: the Righteousness Verse). The ayah reads,

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is that one believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives wealth, despite its love, to relatives, and to orphans, the helpless, the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and (spends) in (freeing) slaves and observes the prayers and pays the Zakah; and those who fulfil their promise when they promise and, of course, the patient in hardships and sufferings and when in battle! Those are the ones who are true and those are the God-fearing.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:177]

These Qur’anic ayahs and the like put to an end to the psychological warfare launched by the Jews against Islam and Muslims.

Conclusion

Losing the banner of the divine message, the Jews could not help divulging their hatred and grudges against Islam and Muslims. In fact, the Jews felt the fading of their religious glory upon the advent of Islam and it became a flagrant fact when the qiblah was changed through divine revelation from Jerusalem to Makkah. They knew then that the torch has irrevocably been passed over to the Children of Isma’il.

In this regard, the Almighty says,

“Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become manifest unto them: But forgive and overlook, till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah hath power over all things.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:109]

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28 رجب: یوم سقوط خلافت عثمانیہ – وہ دن جب مسلمان یتیم ہو گئے

عراق اور افغانستان میں مسلمانوں کے قتل عام اور قرآن کی بے حرمتی اور توہین رسالت کے زخم ابھی مندمل نہ ہونے پائے تھے کہ مغرب نے لبنان میں نہتے مسلمانوں پر بم برسا کر امت کو ایک بار پھر غمزدہ کر دیا۔ یوں محسوس ہوتا ہے کہ ہر آنے والے دن مسلمانوں کے لئے کوئی نئی قیامت لے کراتراتا ہے۔ لیکن ابھی تک کچھ مسلمان یہ معلوم نہیں کر سکتے کہ آخر ایسا کیوں ہے۔ اس کی محض ایک ہی وجہ ہے کہ مسلمانوں کی ڈھال یعنی مسلمانوں کا امام اور خلیفہ موجود نہیں جس کے پیچھے مسلمان متحد ہو سکیں اور دشمن کا مقابلہ کر سکیں۔ اس ڈھال کو استعمار نے مصطفی کمال کے ساتھ مل کر توڑ ڈالا اور مسلمانوں کی وحدت کو پارہ پارہ کر دیا۔ یہ سانحہ 28 رجب 1342 (بمطابق 3 مارچ 1924) کو پیش آیا۔ لیکن آج مسلمان اپنی تا ریخ کے اس افسو سنا ک تر ین دن کو اس طرح یاد نہیں کرتے جیساکہ اس کو یا د رکھنے کا حق ہے۔ یہ سقوط خلافت کا دن ہے۔ اگر وسیع تناظر میں دیکھا جائے تو یہ کہنا ہر گز غلط نہیں ہو گا کہ خلافت کا سقوط دراصل مسلمانوں کی13صدیوں کی شان و شو کت ، عظمت ، تحفظ اور مسلمانوں کی وحدت کا خا تمہ تھا ۔ یہ وہ دن ہے جب مسلمان پو ری دنیا میں عزت و تعظیم سے محر و م ہو گئے اس کے بعد دنیا میں مسلمانوں کا کوئی پرسان حال نہ رہا، مسلمان بے قیمت ، آسان ترین شکار اور مالِ مفت بن کر رہ گئے۔ جس کا جی چاہے ،مسلمانوں کو لوٹے ، مارے، ذبح کرے یا پکڑ کر جیلوں میں بند کردے۔ یہ وہ دن ہے جب مسلمانوں کے اتحاد کی آخر ی نشا نی اورادارے (یعنی خلافت)کو کُچل دیا گیا ۔ اور جیسا کہ رسول اللہ ﷺ نے خلیفہ کو مسلمانوں کی ڈھال کہا ہے اس دن اس آخری ڈھال ، خلیفہ عبدا لمجید ثانی، کو سو ئیزر لینڈ جلا وطن کر دیا گیا۔ اسلام کی جگہ سیکولر ازم کا نفاذ ہوا اوراسلام کی ایک ایک نشانی کو دارلخلا فہ استنبول (اسلامبول) سے ہٹا نے کا عمل شروع ہوا ۔ ہندوستان کے مسلمانوں نے انگریزوں کو خلافت کو تباہ کرنے سے روکنے کیلئے اپنی تاریخ کی پہلی اور انتہائی زبردست سیاسی مہم چلائی جسے تاریخ کے اوراق’ تحریک خلافت‘ کے نام سے جانتے ہیں ۔ تاہم بدقسمتی سے مسلمانوں کے اندر موجود بعض غداروں کی موجودگی کے باعث خلافت کی تباہی کو روکا نہ جا سکا۔ نبی ﷺ نے پہلے ہی فرما دیا تھا: ”اسلام کی گرہیں ایک ایک کر کے کھل جا ئیں گی ۔ سب سے پہلی گرہ جو کھلے گی وہ نظام حکمرانی (یعنی خلافت) جبکہ سب سے آخری گرہ نماز کی ہو گی”۔ اور بیشک آپﷺ نے سچ فرمایا۔

آج کل کا میڈیا خلافت کو عموماً ایک پسما ندہ نظام کے طور پر پیش کرتا ہے جیسے کہ وہ پتھروں کے دور کی بات ہے اور اس نظام میں خلیفہ محض عیاشی کے علاوہ کچھ نہیں کر رہا تھا جبکہ عوام کا کوئی پرسان حال نہ تھا۔ کم وبیش یہی بات ہندوستان کے مسلم حکمرانوں کے متعلق کی جاتی ہے ۔ اِن لوگوں کی جانب سے خلافت کی تاریخ کا مطا لعہ کبھی بھی حکمرانوں کی ذاتی زندگیوں سے آگے نہیں بڑھ پاتا۔ لیکن جیسے ہی آپ اُس معاشرے میں بسنے والے لوگوں کی بہترین معاشی حالت ، عوام الناس کی بنیادی ضر و ریات کی تکمیل ، زکو ۃ وصول کرنے والوں کا فقدان، مسلمانوں کی طاقتور ترین عسکری قوت، ہزار سال تک دنیا پر حکمرانی، فرقہ پرستی کا نہ ہونا اور سائنسی ، ثقا فتی اور تہذیبی ترقی کا تذکرہ کریں تو ان حضرات کا منہ کھلا کا کھلا رہ جاتا ہے۔ ان خلفاء نے اس امت کے ہزاروں مربعہ میل کے علا قوں کو اسلام اور عربی زبان کی طاقت سے متحد کیا اور آج کے روشن خیال، دانور اور ترقی پسند حکمران صرف پانچ صوبوں کو متحد نہیں رکھ سکتے ۔

ہم اس ضمن میں تاریخ کے اوراق سے چند واقعات قلمبند کرنا چاہتے ہیں تاکہ معزز قارئین خلافت کی موجودگی میں مسلمان کسی شان و شوکت اور عزت و وقار کی ایک جھلک ملاحظہ کر سکتیں نیز یہ بھی جان سکیں کہ کس طرح عالمی سیاست خلافت کے فیصلوں سے اثر انداز ہوا کرتی تھی۔

(1)  برطانیہ، سویڈن اور ناروے کے بادشاہ، جارج دوم کا خلیفہ ہشام سوئم کو لکھا گیا یہ خط ریاست کی تعلیمی اور سماجی ترقی کی منہ بولتی تصویر ہے۔ جارج دوئم تحریر کرتا ہے: ’’ہم نے آپ کی تعلیم گاہوں اور صنعتوں کی عظیم ترقی اور ان کی بہتات کے متعلق سنا ہے ….پس ہماری بھی یہ خواہش ہے کہ ہمارے بیٹے بھی ان اعلیٰ اقدار کو سیکھیں تاکہ یہ آپ کے نقش قدم پر چلنے کیلئے ایک اچھی ابتداء ہو اور اس کے ذریعے علم کی روشنی ہمارے ملک میں بھی پھیل سکے جو کہ چاروں جانب سے جاہلیت کی تاریکی میں ڈوبا ہوا ہے۔ ہم نے اپنی بھتیجی شہزادی ڈؤبانٹ کو برطانوی نواب خاندانوں کی لڑکیوں کے وفد کا سربراہ بنایا ہے تاکہ اس کو اس بات کا شرف حاصل ہو کہ وہ آپ کے تخت کے تراشیدہ کناروں کو چوم سکیں اور آپ کا احسان حاصل کر سکیں اور وہ اور اس کی ساتھی لڑکیاں آپ کی خصوصی توجہ حاصل کرسکیں… آپ کا تابعدارخادم ، جارج دوئم ۔‘‘

(2)  محض تقریباً دو سو سال قبل عثمانی خلیفہ سلیم سوئم (1789-1808) کے دور حکومت میں خلافت کا الجزائر کا گورنراس وقت کے امریکہ سے سالانہ چھ سو بیالیس ہزار ڈالر سونے کی صورت میں اور بارہ ہزار عثمانی سونے کے سکے بطور جزیہ وصول کرتا تھا۔ اس ٹیکس کے جواب میں الجزائر میں امریکی قیدیوں کی رہائی اور امریکی جہازوں کی بحرالکاہل Atlantic) Ocean) اور بحر قلزم (Mediterranean Sea) سے حفاظت کے ساتھ گزرنے کی گارنٹی دی جاتی تھی کہ عثمانی خلافت کی نیوی ان پر حملہ نہیں کرے گی۔

(3) فرانسیسی بادشاہ فرانسس اول کو 1525میں Pavia کی جنگ میں گرفتار کرلیا جاتا ہے۔ بادشاہ کی گرفتاری فرانس کے لیے توہین آمیز واقعہ تھا لیکن اس کی افواج اس کو قیدسے نجات نہیں دلاسکتی تھیں۔ فرانس نے خلیفہ کو مدد کے لئے پکارا۔ سلیمان نے نمائندے کو ایک خط دیا جس کہ الفاظ یہ تھے:

“ہمیں آپ کے نمائندے کی طرف سے خط مل گیا ہے جس میں آپ نے تحریر کیا ہے کہ آپ کے دشمنوں نے آپ کے ملک پر حملہ کیا اور آپ کو قیدی بنایا ہے اور آپ اپنی رہائی کے سلسلے میں ہماری مدد چاہتے ہیں ۔ ہم نے آپ کی درخواست کا جواب دے دیا ہے، پس آپ بے فکر ہو جائیں اور پریشان نہ ہوں۔” یہ تھا خلیفہ سلیمان القانونی کا جواب اور خلافت نے اپنا بین الاقوامی اثرورسوخ اور فوجی قوت کو فرانس کے بادشاہ کی رہائی کے لیے استعمال کیا۔

(4) خلافت کے نظام حکومت کو دیکھیں اور اس کے زبردست ادارے قاضی مظالم کو (وہ قاضی جو کہ حکمرانوں کے خلاف شکایات سنتاہے اور ان کا خاتمہ کرتاہے) ۔ تیسری صلیبی جنگ کے دوران سویڈن کا بادشاہ، چارلس سوئم کو مسلمانوں نے قیدی بنالیا اور چارسال تک وہ مسلمانوں کی قید میں رہا۔ رہائی کے بعد اپنے وطن پہنچنے کے بعد جو پہلا حکم جاری کرتا ہے وہ محتسب (Ombudsman) کے ادارے کا قیام ہوتا ہے جسکا وہی کردار ہوتا ہے جو کہ قاضی مظالم کا ہے۔

(5) ایک عورت کی پکار پر خلیفہ معتصم باللہ کی افواج کو متحرک کرنا اور روم کی اینٹ کی اینٹ بجادینے کا واقعہ کس کو یاد نہیں۔ نیز ایک عورت کی پکار پر حجاج بن یوسف، جسے اسلامی تاریخ میں سب سے بڑھ کر ظالم و جابر والی گردانا جاتا ہے، نے اپنے بھتیجے کو سندھ فتح کے راجہ کو سبق سکھانے اور مسلم بہن کو بازیاب کرنے بھیج دیا۔ جو پھر برصغیر کے کروڑوں عوام کے مسلمان ہونے کا باعث بنا۔ مگر افسوس آج پچاس سے زائد گونگے بہرے اور اپاہج مسلم حکمرانوں کو عراق، افغانستان، لبنان، چیچنیااور کشمیر سے ہزاروں مسلم بہنوں کی چیخ و پکار سنائی نہیں دیتیں۔

کبھی اے نوجواں مسلم تدبر بھی کیا تو نے      وہ کیا گردوں تھا تو جس کا ہے اک ٹوٹا ہوا تارا

تجھے اس قوم نے پالا ہے آغوش محبت میں                   
کچل ڈالا تھا جس نے پاؤں میں تاج سر دارا

اگر چاہوں تو نقشہ کھینچ کر الفاظ میں رکھ دو مگر تیرے تخیل سے فزوں تر ہے وہ نظارہ

خلافت اپنے کمزور ترین دور میں بھی مسلمانوں کے لئے ڈھال تھی۔ اس کی دو مثالیں ہی کافی ہیں۔ 

(1) 1901ء میں خلیفہ سلطان عبدالحمید ثانی نے عالمی صیہونی تنظیم کے سربراہ ڈاکٹر ہرٹزل کی اُس بیشکش کو ٹھکرا دیا جس میں اس نے فلسطین کے کچھ حصہ پر یہودی آباد کاری کے بدلے میں ایک خطیر رقم دینے کی تجویز دی تھی۔ خلیفہ نے کہا: ’’میں فلسطین کی زمین کا ایک با لشت بھر حصہ بھی کسی کے حوالے نہیں سکتا کیونکہ یہ زمین میری نہیں کہ جس کو میں قربان کر سکو۔ فلسطین مسلم اُمہ کی زمین ہے … میرے لوگوں نے اس کیلئے سخت جنگیں لڑی ہیں اور اس کو اپنے خون سے سیراب کیا ہے۔ یہودی اپنے لاکھوں اپنے پاس رکھیں ۔ ہاں اگر ایک دن خلافت کا خاتمہ ہوگیا تو یہ فلسطین کو مفت لے لیں ۔ لیکن جب تک میں زندہ ہوں ، تو میرے لئے یہ آسان ہے کہ میرے جسم کو قینچیوں سے کاٹا جائے بجائے اس کے کہ فلسطین کو خلافت سے جد ا کر دیا جائے، ایسا ہرگز نہیں ہوگا۔ میں اپنے جسموں کے ٹکڑے کرنے کی اجازت نہیں دے سکتا جب تک میں زندہ ہوں”۔ اس مردِ حق کی بات سچ نکلی۔ خلافت کے سقوط کے بعد یہودیوں نے اسے مفت میں ہی حاصل کر لیا۔ یاد رکھیں کہ جس وقت خلیفہ نے یہ جواب دیا تھا اس وقت خلافت پر قرضوں کا بار تھا اور یہ وہ وقت تھا جب کمزوری چھا چکی تھی۔

(2) صرف سو سال قبل جب مغرب خلافت عثمانیہ کو “یورپ کا بیمار آدمی” کہہ کر اس کا مذاق اڑاتا تھا۔ انہی دنوں میں فرانس میں ایک ڈرامہ سٹیج کیا گیا جسے والٹر نے تحریر کیا تھا اور اس میں محمدﷺ کی شان میں گستاخی کی گئی تھی۔ خلیفہ عبدالحمید ثانی نے فرانس کے سفیر کو بلوایا، اسے لمبے عرصے تک انتظار کروانے کے بعد خلیفہ مکمل جہاد کا لباس زیب تن کر کے نمودار ہوا ۔ پھر اس نے فرانسیسی سفیر کے سامنے تلوار رکھی اور اسے فورا نکل جانے کا حکم دیا۔ فرانس خلیفہ کے پیغام کو سمجھ گیا اور اپنے عمل سے باز آگیا۔ برطانیہ کو بھی یہی وارننگ دی گئی۔ اس نے جواب دیا کہ ڈرامے کی ٹکٹیں فروخت ہوچکی ہیں اور ڈرامے پر پابندی عائد کرنالوگوں کی آزادی پر ضرب لگانے کے مترادف ہے۔ اس پر خلیفہ نے واضح الفاظ میں برطانیہ کے لیے پیغام جاری کیا۔ ’’میں امت مسلمہ کو یہ فتوی جاری کردوں گا کہ برطانیہ ہمارے رسول محمدﷺ کی توہین کر رہا ہے۔ میں جہاد کا اعلان کر دونگا۔‘‘ چنانچہ جب برطانیہ تک خلیفہ کا الٹی میٹم پہنچا تو اس نے بھی ڈرامہ پر پابندی لگا دی۔ یہاں پر اس بات کو دھرانے کی ضرورت نہیں کہ ڈنمارک نے جب نبیﷺ کی شان میں گستاخی کی تو ہمارے حکمرانوں کا ردعمل کیا تھا۔

یقینا ً28 رجب 1342 ہجری (3 مارچ 1924) کو مسلم امت یتیم ہوگئی تھی۔ بے شک جس چیز کی اب ہمیں نہ صرف اشد ضرورت ہے بلکہ جس کے بغیر کوئی چارہ کار نہیں وہ خالص اسلامی خلافت کی بحالی ہے۔ وہ نظام جوکہ ہر طرح تمام زمانوں سے ہم آہنگ، آزمایہ ہوا اور لامحدود دانائی کی بنیاد سے اخذ کیا گیا ہے یعنی اسلامی عقیدہ سے۔ اور جسے قائم کرنے کو فقہاء نے ام الفرائض اور الفرائض الاساسی قرار دیا ہے۔ نیز اس کے دوبارہ قیام کی بشارت ہمیں الصادق و الامین ﷺ نے خود فرمائی ہے:

’’تم میں نبوت باقی رہے گی جب تک اللہ چاہے گا پھر اللہ اس کو اٹھا لے گا۔ پھر خلفاء راشدین کا دور آئے گا اور یہ باقی رہے گا جب تک اللہ چاہے گا پھر اللہ اس کو اٹھا لے گا۔ پھرکاٹ کھانے والی بادشاہتوں کا دور آئے گااور یہ باقی رہیں گی جب تک اللہ چاہے پھر اللہ ان کو اٹھا لے گا۔ پھر جابر بادشاہوں کی حکومتیں ہوں گی اور یہ باقی رہے گی جب تک اللہ چاہے ، پھر اللہ اس کو اٹھا لے گا اور پھرتم میں دوبارہ خلافت علیٰ منہاج النبوی قائم ہو گی، اور اس کے بعد رسول اللہﷺ خاموش ہو گئے۔‘‘

عمران یوسفزئی

The Possible Identity of Zhul-Qarnain

[NOTE: This Article expounds a theory on the possible identity of Zul-Qarnain, this is never to be taken as a final verdict nor as an accurate identification of the said personality as there are many other possibilities as well].

By Serkan Zorba 

Zhul-qarnayn is a mysterious figure mentioned in the Qur’an whose identity has been a matter of contention and speculation to this day. Many differing theories were proposed on the identity of Zhul-qarnayn by Islamic scholars throughout the ages. This naturally has caused/been causing somewhat of a confusion. In this article, I am going to offer yet another opinion as to who this mysterious figure is. My goal, of course, is not to add to the confusion but rather to help eliminate it. 

The Arabic name Zhul-qarnayn means the Two-horned one, or He of the Two Epochs (the prefix “Zhul-” means “owner of,”qarnayn means “two horns” or “two epochs”). Claims about his identity range from him being Alexander the Great to Cyrus the Great to a Himyarite king of Yemen. Maulana Muhammad Ali opines that he is none other than the Persian king Darius the Great. Some mufassirin identify Zhul-qarnayn with the Persian king Cyrus the Great. Some earlier scholars held that Zhul-qarnayn was a Himyarite king in Yemen.

Historically, a significant number of Islamic scholars espoused the idea of Alexander the Great to be Zhul-qarnayn due to the former’s expeditions to the West and East of the ancient world, and his representation on some of his coins with two horns. Scholars of late have gradually distanced themselves from the view claiming that the polytheism of Alexander the Great disqualifies him to be Zhul-qarnayn, a strict monotheist. In the same vein, I find the plausibility of Darius the Great or Cyrus the Great to be Zhul-qarnayn to be very flimsy because both of these great kings were known to be Zoroastrians and who contributed to the spread and institutionalization of Zoroastrianism. Moreover, if Zhul-qarnayn were indeed any one of these powerful kings, they would have surely proselytized a significant number of their subjects without much difficulty. But I see Zoroastrianism flourishing in the centuries following the demise of these kings. In fact, I advance the same argument against the remote probability that Alexander the Great was Zhul-qarnayn as we see no indication of a monotheist religion tradition flourishing under the Alexander the Great in the territories he conquered (never mention the fact that we see no such account coming from Alexander the Great’s teacher, the great philosopher and scientist Aristotle.) Not seeing any such personage in the historical accounts does only indicate that Zhul-qarnayn must have lived long before the times of these mentioned kings.

Amidst all this confusion, some contemporary scholars posit that the story of Zhul-qarnayn ought to be seen as nothing more than a spiritual parable, an allegory rather than a historical reality. “Who was he? In what age, and where did he live? The Qur’an gives us no material on which we can base a positive answer. Nor is it necessary to find an answer, as the story is treated as a parable…” writes the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali.[1]

Muhammad Asad states that “We must, therefore, conclude that the latter (the story of Zhul-qarnayn) has nothing to do with history or even legend, and that its sole purport is a parabolic discourse on faith and ethics, with specific reference to the problem of worldly power.”[2]

In my view, the rationale behind this approach is twofold:

(1) the frustration due to the so many conflicting theories about the character of Zhul-qarnayn, and

(2) a tendency to evade any potential criticism by not having a “closure” on this topic. 

This “allegory” approach to seemingly mysterious and formidable Qur’anic topics and stories is also employed by scholars such as Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Asad when expounding the Qur’anic concepts such as Mi’raj, jinns, and Ya’juj and Ma’juj. Although I completely agree with the idea that these stories do employ allegories and parables to convey powerful spiritual meanings, I find it hard to believe that the Qur’an tells us events or personalities that are just fictional.

Here I would like to offer a new identification for Zhul-qarnayn. My analysis hinges on the answers to the following questions.

1. What was the context and background of the Zhul-qarnayn question?

2. Is there any other sacred/historical document in which one can look for the character??

3. What are the qualities of this person?

4. How do all these come together??

5. Any support for my claim from any classical Islamic scholar?

Now let us answer these questions one by one:

1- What was the context and background of the Zhul-qarnayn question?

They ask thee concerning Zhul-qarnain. Say, “I will rehearse to you something of his story.” Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends. [Qur’an 18: 83-84].

Ibn Kathir mentions the following hadith on the reason why the Qur’anic chapter mentioning Zhul-qarnayn (and still other mysterious stories and topics such as the “Seven” Sleepers, Al Khidr, and the Spirit) was revealed6:

Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned the reason why this Surah was revealed. He said that an old man from among the people of Egypt who came to them some forty-odd years ago told him, from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas said: “The Quraysh sent An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`it to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah, and told them: `Ask them (the rabbis) about Muhammad ﷺ, and describe him to them, and tell them what he is saying. They are the people of the first Book, and they have more knowledge of the Prophets than we do.’ So they set out and when they reached Al-Madinah, they asked the Jewish rabbis about the Messenger of Allah . They described him to them and told them some of what he had said. They said, `You are the people of the Tawrah and we have come to you so that you can tell us about this companion of ours.’ They (the rabbis) said, `Ask him about three things which we will tell you to ask, and if he answers them then he is a Prophet who has been sent (by Allah); if he does not, then he is saying things that are not true, in which case how you will deal with him will be up to you. Ask him about some young men in ancient times, what was their story For theirs is a strange and wondrous tale. Ask him about a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth. What was his story? And ask him about the Ruh (soul or spirit) — what is it? If he tells you about these things, then he is a Prophet, so follow him, but if he does not tell you, then he is a man who is making things up, so deal with him as you see fit.’

The Makkans, of course, upon hearing the above advice, questioned Prophet Muhammad ﷺ accordingly. The Prophet ﷺ answered all of their questions with a newly revealed Qur’anic chapter named the Cave. The “young men” mentioned in the question (called the People of the Cave) are usually associated with the story of the Seven Sleepers. But since the above questions were asked by the Rabbis of Madinah, it might mean they wanted to challenge the Prophet’s ﷺ knowledge about this mysterious Christian story as well. Or as indicated by Muhammad Asad – the story of these young men might be of Jewish origin possibly referring the ascetic Essene Movement. What really matters is the fact that the Zhul-qarnayn question had stemmed from Judeo-Christian sources, specifically from the “people of the book” of Madinah.

2- Is there any other sacred/historical document in which one can look for the character?

The answer to “Ask him about a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth” was Zhul-qarnayn. Thus since the question pertaining to Zhul-qarnayn is of Judeo-Christian origin, it is only plausible to look for him in the Bible, the most sacred scripture of Judeo-Christian tradition, and potentially other Judeo-Christian texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels.

3- What are the qualities of this person?

The questions asked by the Rabbis are supposedly difficult questions, which deal with enigmatic stories and figures. Thus the “man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth” must be an enigmatic figure.

Zhul-qarnayn is read, one learns that Zhul-qarnayn was a mighty king and a righteous person. Furthermore, he is mentioned to be someone who travels to the east and the west, and who is given “the ways and the means to all ends,” certainly well matching the enigmatic figure spoken of by the Rabbis of Al-Madinah.

Thus he was someone who uniquely combined the two distinct -and usually opposing- qualities: the earthly might of being a king, and the unwavering faith and righteousness (of spirituality). He was perhaps called Zhul-qarnayn by the Qur’an to mean “He of the Two Powers,” or “He of the Two Realms (or Dominions),” as according to the Qur’an, he consummately commanded both the domain of earthly power and the domain of spirituality. 

4- How do all these come together?

With the premise that the identity of Zhul-qarnayn ought to be sought in the Bible, I ask the following question:

– Is there a man in the Bible who is enigmatic (meaning very little is said about him, and what is said is curious) and who at the same time combines the two distinct qualities of being a king and a righteous person?

Anyone who studies the Bible will not fail to say “yes!” to the above question, and identify that person to be none other than the great king of Salem, Melchizedek.

Melchizedek is mentioned in the Bible to be the King of Salem and a priest of God the Most High. In fact, his name “Melchizedek” is a lightly distorted version of Semitic epithet “melik-i-sadik” meaning “the righteous king.” One of the reasons that Melchizedek is an enigmatic figure is because he appears once in person in the Bible and blesses the patriarch Abraham receiving tithes from him. The latter implying that Melchizedek is similar in rank to Abraham, if not superior. Below is the Biblical account of Melchizedek as given in the Book of Genesis:

“(18) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High. (19) And he blessed him, and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; (20) and blessed be God the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all.” 

Thus in the light of the four points made above, I posit that Zhul-qarnayn of the Qur’an is none other than Melchizedek of the Bible. So much so that even their names/titles do carry the same meaning; Melchizedek as the King of Salem, a priest of God the Most High, whose name/title means “Righteous King,” blessing patriarch Abraham and receiving tithe from him; Zhul-qarnayn as a most powerful king who is at the same time highly God-conscious and receives revelation/inspiration from God, whose name/title means he of the two horns, epochs or powers. Both combine the unique qualities of earthly and spiritual might, and both are enigmatic figures in the eyes of people.

In other Judeo-Christian texts such as the Gnostic Gospels, Melchizedek is mentioned as an eschatological “high-priest” and “holy warrior.”8 In the Second Book of Jeu, a Coptic gnostic text, Melchizedek is addressed by ‘Eesa alayhissalaam (Jesus0 as “Zorokothora Melchizedek.” James Davila states that the meaning of “Zorokothora” is unknown, but he claims it to be related to nomina barbara.” A nomina barbarum is a word or set of words uttered for magical effects. It is not unlikely that “Zorokothora” and “Zhul-qarnayn” are related. For more on this, see notes.

5- Any support for my claim from any classical Islamic scholar?

Ibn Kathir in his Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya (The Beginning and the End) mentions that Zhul-qarnayn was a contemporary of Abraham. The two are mentioned to have had various encounters. In fact, Ibn Kathir states that Zhul-qarnayn lived about 2000 years before the times of Alexander the Great. That certainly matches well with the claim that Zhul-qarnayn was a contemporary of Abraham. All this gives strong credence to my proposition that Zhul-qarnayn is Melchizedek.

In the works of the Islamic Scholars, I have not come across any who makes the link between Melchizedek and Zhul-qarnayn. However, Abdullah Yusuf Ali compares Al-khidr to Melchizedek. Nevertheless, Al-khidir is not known to be a king, unlike Melchizedek. In addition, Al-khidr is not mentioned in the Bible, hence he cannot be the person about whom the Jewish questioners of the Prophet were inquiring.

Conclusion

The hadith context of the Qur’anic revelation concerning the story of Zhul-qarnayn and his unique quality of being a king and a righteous man points us in the direction a Biblical personality. Close examination of the Qur’anic, the Biblical and other Judeo-Christian accounts of Zhul-qarnayn and Melchizedek, respectively, coupled with the meaning of their names and titles give credible support to my hypothesis that Zhul-qarnain is non other than Melchizedek. 

References

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary.

Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an.

Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur’an: English Translation and Commentary.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur’an.

Al-Biruni, The Chronology of Ancient Nations (Adamant Media Corporation, 2002) 49.

Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim.

Genesis 14:18-20.

Birger A. Pearson, Sren Giversen, Melchizedek (IX, 1), in The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M. Robinson (1990) 439.

James R. Davila, The Dead Sea Scrolls As Background to Postbiblical Judaism and Early Christianity (Brill Academic Publishers, 2002), 265. 

On an admittedly speculative note, I advance the following hypothesis: there is a possibility that Zhul-qarnayn was called Zhul-qitran or Zor-qitran, meaning “one who commands molten copper” in reference to his employing qitran (meaning ‘molten copper’) on finishing the rampart he built against Gog and Magog. The word “qitran” appears in the Qur’an (18:96) in reference to none other than Zhul-qarnayn himself as follows: in transliteration “qala atoonee ofrigh AAalayhi qitran,”” meaning “”Bring me ‘molten copper’ which I may pour upon it” (M. Asad translation). The prefix “Zhul” (which means “owner of”) could have been “zor” or “zur” as such variation is possible among closely related Semitic languages. For example, “Zhul” of Arabic becomes “tre” in Aramic. Or “bin” of Arabic becomes “bar” in Aramaic. This could be where Zorokothora came from.

Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya, 2: 169-175. 

Does April Fools Day Got to do Anything with the Fall of Muslim Spain??

By Muhammad Tariq Ghazi

An email or whatsapp message often goes around that warn Muslims again April Fool observation by claiming that this tradition originates from the event of Christians victory over Muslims in Andalusian Spain. It proposes that Europeans made fool of Muslims by introducing Liquor and Tobacco to them and thus gradually weaken them through its indulgence. The author busts the myth with correct version of history and common sense and explain the origin of April Fool’s Day.

I never knew that 1 April would be a day of reckoning, in a dubious style though. As a child I might have played the fool on the fool’s day by saying what I would believe was funny to someone I loved – like my brothers and sister. Nobody stopped me from those innocent escapades, for they were perhaps as innocuous, or as harmful.

But in later years the April fun did not amuse us older children any longer as we found the annual practice very boring. Gradually I realized that not many people around me were taking April Fool’s Day seriously: rarely anyone would try to make fun of gullible peers. This year, however, the day of fools dawned out of blue. I was astonished to know that some educated Muslims believed that the European tradition of All Fools Day was, in their view, to celebrate the fall of Spain’s last Muslim principality of Granada. What a funny story, I said to myself.

I don’t know when this “belief” had crept into Muslim “knowledge bank”, but some friends informed me that this grapevine might have spread about 20-30 years ago that Granada fell to the Christian forces on 1 April and since then the Christians have been remembering this as the day when they had “fooled” the Muslims. And how did those Christians make fool of the Muslims? Well, as the story goes, they sent to Granada “spies” to first study Andalusian Muslims’ habits and life-style and then making them addicted to liquor and cigarette smoking in order to recapture Granada.

What a wonderful way of winning battles and capturing countries. May I divulge the secret that most of the modern Spaniard drink alcohol and many of them smoke cigarettes too.

Do the Christians really believe that Muslims are and were stupid and they were easy prey to be made fool of? Even if such stupidity was really the primary cause of the loss of Andalusia in 1492, aren’t they showing a greater degree of imprudence now in 2018 to remind the Christian masses to mark April 1 as the day of Muslim foolishness with increased passion?

Nevertheless, rumors being circulated in the cyberspace on this issue point to two other dimensions: one academic and the other ethical.

Morally, no doubt, it is uncivilized to make fool of a normally intelligent person. From a Muslim perspective, too, it is unethical as a celebration, whatever its provocation, even if the prank is as harmless as telling someone his shoe-string is untied. From this same perspective, it is all the more disgraceful as this practice encourages people to tell a lie, even if they are innocuous. Every Muslim may sometime refer to a Hadith of the Rasool-Allah, sallAllahu alaihi wasallam, and must be aware that Hadith scholars do not entertain a report from a liar. For a Muslim, therefore, it is the greatest punishment to be excluded from reporting a statement of the Rasool-Allah. Therefore, if the claim that April Fool’s Day is connected with the fall of Andalusia is untrue and historically unfounded, a narrator of this claim stands the risk of being disqualified of quoting from the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

Academically, the issue requires investigation in order to ascertain the claim. When I rejected this claim on a Net-group, I was told by one friend hailing from Deoband, India, that he first heard this in his home-town in his childhood, and later in Aligarh, where the “misinformation was corrected at a gathering by a lecturer of Islamic Studies”. It is important to note that in Deoband – unlike Aligarh – it was not any professor or someone else connected with the Darul Uloom, but an ordinary townsman who would tell his nephew that the custom was about the fall of Muslim Spain. The narration might have been unforgivable if it was attributed to a teacher of Darul Uloom Deoband. But then the Ulama engaged in teaching Hadith and Tafseer know well what to report and what to trash.

Another friend, Mustafa Kamal Sherwani, a law professor in Tanzania, informed me in another email that when he was doing LL.M. at Aligarh Muslim University, some students did some activity on April 1 to a senior professor in the Faculty of Law. The discomfited professor then scolded the ill-behaved students and narrated the same Andalus story about April Fool.

While making fun of a teacher is highly uncultured and deplorable, this Aligarh incident suggests the cancer is quite widespread. What is more painful is that even some modern Muslim scholars, having a discernible disinterest in scientific inquiry, would carelessly circulate disinformation which the less-informed or uninitiated public accept as truth coming as it does from supposedly learned people. This lack of interest in ascertaining the truth is unacceptable among the descendants of those who collected Hadith, checked the life and habits of every single narrator – numbering in thousands – evaluated every single statement on the basis of riwayah (the chain of narrators) and dirayah (contextual examination and logical/intellectual scrutiny) before writing it down in an authentic Hadith compendium. Today’s lackadaisical attitude about judging and analyzing reports is deplorable among the successors of those early scholars who had laid the foundations of modern epistemological order. Those were the persons whose consummate analytical prowess resulted in the emergence of about 26 systems of codified Islamic laws in the form of highly respected, admired and followed Fiqh schools, and set rules for academic inquiry that paved the way for advancement in philosophical theories and applied sciences.

But then this is what it is: Muslims seem to have stooped so low intellectually and academically as to believe in hearsay as historical truths!

I wish that the e-message about April Fool’s Day was not written by a Muslim, worse if it was an April Fool’s Day prank. It is a case of misinformation and a demonstration of abject ignorance of people pretending to be learned, innocent and pious, all at one and same time but being none of them.

A little insight into history tells a different tale about a Euro-Christian festival of foolishness.

To begin with, Spain’s last Muslim statelet of Granada, encompassing Almeira and Malaga as well, was lost not on April 1, as claimed by those who have been fooled by their ignorance of history, but on January 2, 1492. References can be made to historians and encyclopedias, or at least Spanish tourism websites like www.spanish-fiestas.com, etc. Spain Travel Newsletter, for example, says: “On January 2nd 1492 Los Reyes Catlicos (The Catholic Monarchs – namely Isabella and Ferdinand) marched into Granada and the last stronghold of Moorish Spain came to an end”. According to cyber-encyclopedia Wikipedia, “On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim leader, Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil (Arabic: Abu Abdullah) to the Spanish, surrendered complete control of Granada, to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Catlicos, (The Catholic Monarchs – the title given to the couple by Pope Alexander VI), after the city was besieged”.

“December had nearly passed away. The famine became extreme, and Boabdil determined to surrender the city on the second of January,” says M B Synge, in an article titled “Brave Men and Brave Deeds”, which is published by The Baldwin’s Project.

Vincent Barletta of University of Minnesota says in an article “About the Moriscos” (post-Granada nomenclature for Spanish Muslims, intended to belittle the Moors), with reference to ‘The Legacy of Muslim Spain’, edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi: “The Catholic Monarchs decisively put an end to over eight centuries of sporadic Christian Reconquest in January of 1492. They achieved this by finally taking by military force the isolated and very vulnerable Nasrid Kingdom of Granada”.

A Bangladeshi-American Muslim, Mohammad Abdullah, in a “Rejoinder to Columbus and America”, an opinion article in “News from Bangladesh”, of August 15, 2006, writes: “Regarding the fall of Granada, it is true that in early 1492 (possibly end of January) Isabella and Ferdinand’s army captured it but it was not completely conquered. … Several small pockets around Granada were still unconquered, and insurgency erupted which was totally demolished in October 1492. … At that time Isabella and Ferdinand began to sleep in peace”.

All, except one, of these historians are Europeans or Christians and none of them records the fall of Granada on April 1. Therefore, logic demands that if Christians really wanted to celebrate “foolishness” of Muslims, a suitable date was the New Year’s Day – 1 January – rather than 1 April.

It is not surprising that the Spaniard remember the exact date when they retook the last Muslim statelet in Andalusia, but it is strange that even the educated Muslims do not know the date of their last major defeat in a country which they love so much that Iqbal’s best poem, Masjid-i Qurtuba, came only thanks to our Andalusian nostalgia.

One cannot be so nave as to believe that Christians needed to send “spies” to Muslim Spain to study Muslim life-style and based on those studies worked out a strategy about exporting alcohol and “cigarettes” (sic) in order to corrupt Muslims and retake Andalusia. In Spain, Christians and Jews lived in a mixed, pluralistic society under Muslims and they were well aware of Muslim life-style, many of them even emulating it.

Turning to alcohol, it was not unknown to Muslims. The Qur’an mentions it as impure and harmful. And cigarette was not yet invented when Isabella and Ferdinand were planning to take over Granada in the 1480s. In fact, tobacco itself was not yet known to the Europeans. Nonetheless, Reconquista was not so easy as to have been accomplished by making Andalusian Muslims addicted to smoking cigarettes. It took almost 500 years of ceaseless Christian military campaigns in spite of anarchy and dispersion of power that had prevailed in Muslim Spain since the fall of Andalusia’s Umayyad dynasty in 1031 CE, and 11 years of cleverly crafted strategy of Ferdinand-Isabella team to unseat an incompetent Muslim monarch.

David Nicolle writes in “Granada 1492”, a well-documented study of the last 11 years of Muslim rule in Spain, that the forces of Granada’s last Muslim king Abu Abdullah (Boabdil) Muhammad XII were “no match” to the might of the Spanish royal army that was “revitalized and lavishly equipped with modern artillery”. However, Nicolle adds that “despite this mismatch of strength it took 11 years of hard campaigning before the Spanish troops could bring their guns to bear on the walls of Granada”.

As for tobacco-smoking, according to historians, it did not begin in Europe before the nineteenth century, when it was enjoyed by “gentlemen only” in the form of cigars. Cigarettes (literally meaning small cigars), which were “basically the sweepings off the floor of the cigar factory, were only smoked by the very poor” and their mass production began only in the 1880s – almost 400 years after the fall of Granada.

Historically, there is no indication of habitual tobacco use in the Ancient World, on any continent save the Americas. During his two voyages in 1492 and 1493, Columbus and his sailors became the first Europeans to see tobacco in South America. In his diary for 12 October 1492, Columbus writes, according to tobacco historian Gene Borio, that on the beach of San Salvador Island or Samana Cay in the Bahamas, or Grand Turk Island, the indigenous Arawaks offered gifts which included fruit, wooden spears, and certain dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance…. “The fruit was eaten; the pungent ‘dried leaves’ were thrown away”, writes Columbus.

In 1498, Columbus visited what he named as Trinidad and Tobago, “naming the latter after the native tobacco pipe”, says Borio.

Borio further records in “The Tobacco Timeline” (www.tobacco.org), that Christian monk Ramon Pane had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 and he described the New Worlders using snuff and inhaling smoke “through a Y-shaped tube”. Borio says Pane was “the first man to introduce tobacco to Europe” in the closing years of the fifteenth century.

France had come to know of tobacco in the mid-16th century, but according to Wikipedia, Europeans believed then that the use of tobacco was good “to cure ulcers and heal wounds along with other such benefits”. Christians would not allow this “useful medicine to infidel Moors”. To make things easy to understand, Encyclopadia Brittanica records that French Admiral Gaspard II de Coligny, a Huguenot (Protestant) leader, “supported a war in the Low Countries (southern France) against Spain as a means to prevent a resumption of (France’s Catholic-Protestant) civil war”.

Even if there is a historical reference to the use of tobacco as a weapon in France’s hostilities against Spain, one may be reminded that Admiral de Coligny’s proposal to engage Spain in a war came in the 1570s, about 80 years after the end of Spain’s last Muslim regime.

These historical records offer evidence that tobacco was unknown to the world before Columbus’s voyages. And Columbus reached the shores of South America nine months after the fall of Granada. Therefore, this negates the claim that cigarette was used for ending of Muslim rule in Spain.

Those who have a little understanding of history know well that the European Christians regarded Andalusian Muslims as “infidel” but did not consider them “fools” to be ridiculed even on a particular day in the year. Even today, extremist Christians or Westerners may dislike Muslims, but they do not denounce them as stupid people. On the contrary, they recognized Muslims’ superior intelligence, and did save a few books, by risking their own lives, from the raging “bon fires” (meaning good fires) stoked every night by Spain’s Cardinal Ximenes, who had full personal support of Isabella, and perhaps Ferdinand. These books written by Muslim scientists, philosophers and jurists – most of them burnt and destroyed by Ximenes and his subordinate priests – would not have been translated into Latin, Dutch, French, and English if Europeans had thought Muslims were fools.

April Fool’s Day or All Fools Day is in fact connected to the Old World’s New Year celebrations. In olden times in the Roman Empire, New Year of the Julian calendar would fall on April 1 and the weeklong celebrations would begin on March 25, culminating on what was recognized as the First Day of Spring, April 1. Not surprisingly, this compares with today’s weeklong celebrations beginning on December 25 and culminating on January 1 under the reformed Gregorian dating system.

The “most probable time” accepted as the beginning of April Fool’s Day tradition was in 1582, according to Jerry Wilson, an American science teacher and newspaper columnist who specializes in US tobacco industry. In the early 1570s, he says, France’s King Charles IX (reigned 1561-1574) adopted the Gregorian dating system and sent out orders around his kingdom (Iberian Peninsula, including Granada, was outside Charles IX’s realm) to change the New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. Jerry Wilson underscores a common European lore that in those days when mail in Europe was still carried by footmen, many people did not receive the news for several years. “Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as ‘fools’ by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on ‘fools errands’ or were made the butt of other practical jokes”. It is common knowledge in Europe that this change in the dating system, says Wilson, “is where we get April Fool’s Day”.

It may be noted that Slavic people of Eastern Europe, denominationally known as (Russian) Orthodox Christians, still do not accept Gregorian dating system and continue to mark their religious ceremonies like Christmas and Easter according to the Julian calendar, named after Rome’s Julius Caesar.

It appears that Rome’s pre-Julian New Year’s Day actually fell in March, to mark summer equinox on March 20 or 21, which was originally dedicated to Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility. Ishtar’s festival would mark the advent of Spring, the time of new harvests. Ishtar was worshipped in ancient Sumeria (part of Syria) and Babylonia (part of Iraq). Astarte and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar (Arabic letters: ayn, sheen, ta, alif, ra). Early Christians who had made Rome as their religious focal point, had adopted many Roman and pre-Rome pagan rites, rituals and festivals, among them the Festival of Fertility, which was probably adopted by the Romans as a result of their political and economic contacts with West Asia. Another theory is that the lore of Ishatar was brought to Rome and rest of Europe by early Christian immigrants from West Asia. Interestingly, the Anglo-Saxons of British Isle also had the “spring goddess” they called Eostre.

Christian sources like the Dictionary of the Encyclopedia Britannica recognize that the festival of Easter, marked in March-April, actually has its roots in this Semitic festival of Ishtar. This explains the traditions of Easter Eggs, symbols of fertility, and Easter Bunny, the rodent known for a high rate of procreation and its re-emergence from the holes as snow begins to melt in March and green leaves begin to sprout again on denuded tree branches in cold climes of Europe. The Anglo-Saxon Eostre also had the hare and eggs as icons of Easter, “because both of them were regarded to be emblems of fertility”.

Here it may be of some interest to note that even though Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) moved the Christian New Year to January in order to identify it with what Christians believe is birth-date of Jesus Christ, apparently doing away with a pagan Semitic ritual of the advent of Spring, the earlier celebration still retained religious sanction in the form of Easter. Also, Gregory XIII, who began his papacy 80 years after the fall of Granada, did not give new names to the months identified with Roman deities like Mars (March) and Juno (June), and Roman dictators such as Julius Caesar (July) and Augustus Caesar (August). It is understandable that a pope living under the Roman empire, was loath to or scared of christening months named after earlier emperors and deities, but ironically, he did not give thought to the names of four month which still sound ridiculous to the knowledgeable: the ninth Gregorian calendar month is called September which literally means Seventh (newspapers often report that a sept-uagenarian is a person in his/her seventies), tenth month is still known as October (meaning Eighth – and a schoolchild knows that an eight-point geometric pattern is called an octagon?), eleventh month remains to be November (meaning Ninth) and the twelfth month is still called December (linguistically meaning the Tenth – people may recall dec-imal point, or decade, that’s ten-year period, to understand the meaning of December). These names indicate that the Romans, being proud warriors, would start their year from March 1, named after their god of war, who was actually a carbon image of earlier pagan Greek god of war, Ares.

Now, how should a Muslim behave in dealing with matters like this?

Only illiterate or ignorant people having no civilizational tradition of academic and scientific inquiry would spread hearsay without caring to check the facts. But ignoring the facts is not a modern Muslim tradition only. Even though today’s Muslims are a far cry from what their illustrious ancestors had been, they are apparently influenced by the prevailing order: this approach of pseudo-scholarship is not an attribute of Muslims alone. This is given currency by the modern media – radio and television channels, newspapers and magazines – that may gleefully disseminate any untruth or pretty obvious falsehood with little inclination to verify the details, provided the error is unintentional. I recall just one example: The day India’s prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated I was visiting the US city of Boston. The next morning’s Boston Globe newspaper, a widely read and “respectable” national daily of the United States, reported in an “obituary-cum-news analysis” that Rajiv Gandhi was son of Indira Gandhi (right) and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (?) and first prime minister of India! Traces of this culture are sometimes detectable in modern academia, too, especially in times when they are serving interests of multinational or other corporations. After all they need funds for research which can be conveniently oriented to suit corporate interests of the engines of the global economy.

As against this, Muslim academic culture of the yore would not allow any doubtful piece of information to spread before all narrated facts were thoroughly checked and tested on the anvil of logic as well as Islamic tenets and belief system. The last reporter in the chain would check the trustability of each and every single preceding reporter if the report passed through more than one narrator. This led to the initiation of the science of biography, Islamically called Ilm Asma ar-Rijal, the Science of the Names of Men. This style of scientific inquiry is the legacy of Muslims. Today’s “reporters” who carelessly post and “discuss” unproven statements are in no way representatives and successors of those who had initiated and instituted the science of scientific investigation just when Muslims were about to be driven out of Spain, sociologically speaking. Nonetheless, the world still expects Muslims to be the most authentic when they report some facts.

Reacting to the inane cyberumor about April Fool’s Day, a Black American Muslim, Abdul-Halim V, has rightly remarked on Planet Granada blog: “…sometimes I get the feeling that as a group, Muslims need to develop a lot more critical-thinking and need to learn not to pass on everything we hear from so-and-so as the truth”.

Refuting P.N Oak’s Contentions on the Taj Mahal

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No, the Taj Mahal Wasn’t a Hindu Temple

[By Krzystof Iwanek]

It may be a “teardrop on the cheek of time”; it may be India’s easily most recognizable monument and the strongest tourist magnet; but the glorious Taj Mahal is no stranger to controversy. A smallish storm was recently kicked up in India when the current government of the state of Uttar Pradesh – within which the Taj Mahal is located – made attempts to sideline the monument’s importance. But such endeavors, condemnable as they are, pale before much more radical and older projects that seek to question the Taj’s origins. There are fringe authors who would tell you that rather than being a mausoleum holding the bodies of a Muslim empress and her husband, the Taj Mahal is actually a Hindu “temple palace.”

There is little need to repeat the official history of the monument here. The fact that it was built in the city of Agra in the 17th century under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum to his deceased favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal) is well-known and it is easy to stumble upon. Cast a few glances on the Taj Mahal and you are sure to see the touches of Islamic art. To be sure, hardly anybody in India questions this and the monument is vastly popular among not only foreign but Indian tourists as well. Thus, I stress the fact that I will mostly speak of “fringe” elements here whose views should not be generalized.

Prominent among these was Purushottam Nagesh Oak, a prolific author who left a string of books in Hindi as his legacy. The Agra Red Fort was a Hindu PalaceThe Fatehpur Sikri is a Hindu CityThe Lucknow Imambaras Are Hindu Temples  – these are just some of Oak’s work. The direction is clear: name a prominent building commissioned by Muslim rulers of northern India and Oak would tell you it was originally a work of Hindu architecture. But Oak did not stop there; in another text he claimed that even the Kaaba in Mecca was a Hindu temple. Among his works, Oak became perhaps best known for the two books he wrote on the Taj Mahal and – it’s no surprise by now – in both of them the writer claimed that this work of Islamic architecture was a Hindu temple. The latter of these books —Tajmahal mandir bhavan hai (“The Taj Mahal is a temple building”) — has been living on my bookshelf for years. The recent endeavors of Hindu nationalists seem a good (or rather, bad) occasion to dust off Oak’s publication and throw some of his juiciest thoughts and quotes into the ring. But, in order not engender any confusion, I will start with what is accepted by the mainstream historians whom Oak detested so much.

Pieces of wood, iron, and stone may themselves have no religion or culture, but those who shape these materials into art and architecture do. The Taj Mahal is clearly of Timurid architecture, having been built by the Mughals, a dynasty whose origins start with Babur, claimed to be a descendant of both Timur (Tamerlane) and Genghis Khan. Babur was born in what is now Uzbekistan and eventually embarked on conquests that ended in northern India.

At the first glance, the much older tomb of Timur in Samarkand and the Taj Mahal in Agra may not resemble each other so much, but the similarities in layout and thought are there. The great Mughal mausoleums of northern India are much more sophisticated and enhanced edifices building upon earlier concepts visible in Central Asian Timurid architecture. And, as the Taj Mahal had been built by an emperor raised in Islamic tradition in the memory of his wife (who was of the same faith) and its body incorporated the elements of Islamic religion and rules of Islamic arts (such as quotes from the Quran and the lack of graphic representation of people, God, and Prophet Muhammad), there is no doubt that the monument can be called a work of Islamic architecture. Finally, the Taj Mahal complex includes a mosque and regular Friday prayers are held there (remember, dear tourists – that’s why you can’t visit it on Fridays).

Once again, to be absolutely clear: most Indians are perfectly all right with this order of historical facts.

Not all, however.

A shortcut in thinking may easily lead us from perceiving it as a “building of Islamic architecture” to an “Islamic building.” This is where a segment of Hindu nationalists get off the tour bus.

Hindu nationalists tend to believe that India was already in its era of glory before the first invasions of people professing Islam took place. In this view, the illustrious Golden Era of “Hindu rule” was overshadowed by the dark period of “Muslim rule.” Even a clear division of Indian history between a “Hindu era” and a “Muslim era” is so superficial (and colonial) that a whole essay would be needed to counter this image (but such essays have already been written). However, Hindu nationalists not only talk of a “Muslim era” but describe it as a time of razing, looting, religious persecution, or forced conversions. While there is no denying that certain Indian Muslim rulers hurt Hindus in a number of ways, focusing only on this aspect is still a selective use of facts, to say the least.

But here the Taj Mahal emerges as a problem in the narrative. It appears right in the middle of the “Muslim era” but it is no slaughterhouse or madrassa, and it is immensely beautiful and vastly popular. If Hindu nationalists want to claim that the Muslim rulers were generally bad for India, what can they do with the Taj Mahal, India’s biggest trademark worldwide and a huge source of income?

The easiest and safest way is to ignore it. There is no secure way to debate the Taj Mahal and not address its religious overtones on one hand, and to face the question of its value for India on the other (even the sheer material value, if all others would be ignored). Thus, some history textbooks published by Hindu nationalists in Hindi simply choose to omit the Taj Mahal, and, indeed, most of Islamic architecture. The period of “Muslim rule” is a tale of invasions and resistance – the rest is silence. On the political level, Hindu nationalists were careful enough not to attempt a public campaign against the Taj Mahal. Thus, it must be said that Oak’s claims of the building being originally a Hindu temple were largely ignored even by Hindu nationalists. Yet, certain controversies were not avoided.

In 2014, the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organization — and that often means the same people in a double role — won the general elections and took over central power in India. To my knowledge, the BJP’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, did not say anything controversial about Mumtaz Mahal’s mausoleum. In 2017, the same party – the BJP – won elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Taj Mahal is located. In March 2017, the position of Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister was taken over by Yogi Adityanath. A Hindu nationalist and a priest of a famous temple in Gorakhpur, Adityanath can be categorized as a hawk even by the standards of the Hindu nationalist milieu.

In the months after Adityanath took over, there appeared rumors that the Taj Mahal had started to disappear from some Uttar Pradesh government publications, including the ones on tourism and on cultural heritage policy. As the news spread through the media, BJP politicians could no longer retain their “silence strategy” on the Taj Mahal and reacted in ways which only added fuel to the fire. It is interesting to note that the three statements which made most of the headlines represented three different approaches to the issue, showing how difficult it is for the Hindu nationalists to wrestle with the Taj Mahal’s fame.

Sangeet Som, a politician in Uttar Pradesh, focused on criticizing the emperor Shah Jahan, accusing him of being a cruel ruler and concluding that “if these people still find place in history, then it is very unfortunate… I guarantee that history will be changed.”

Thus, Som chose what could be called a “responsibility narrative” – if the monument’s founder was a bad ruler, then it is as if the monument shares in the blame and should be erased from history along with the founder.

Sensing murky waters around him, Chief Minister Adityanath decided not to wade into the controversy any deeper and issued a more balanced statement (by Hindu nationalist standards). The politician-priest assured the public that taking care of the mausoleum is his government’s duty and claimed in an evasive tone that:

It is not necessary to go into why Taj Mahal was built, who built it, and for what purpose… What is important is that Taj Mahal was built by the blood and sweat of India’s laborers and sons.

Let me leave aside the rather strange opinion that the historical background of a historical building is unimportant. Apart from this, it may be said that Adityanath chose an “anonymous laborer narrative” – let’s not talk about the ruler who gave the order, but about the physical workers who constructed the monument. We do not know much about the laborers, but of course the majority had to be Indians so the monument is Indian by that measure – and the rest is silence.

However, Vinay Katiyar, one of the most radical members of the RSS, would have none of that nationalist political correctness. On October 18, 2017 Katiyar briefly resurrected Oak’s “research” on the Taj Mahal, claiming that the monument was “Tejo Mahal, Lord Shiva’s temple, where Shahjahan buried his wife and turned it into a mausoleum.”

Thus, Katiyar chose the “takeover narrative” – the Taj Mahal belonged to us, the Hindus, and the Muslims snatched it away from us. This is exactly the point once raised by Oak and Katiyar even mentioned Oak as an authority on the subject. It is therefore high time for our hero to take the stage.

Purushottam Nagesh Oak was of the opinion that:

The Taj Mahal had originally been a 12th century temple dedicated to the god Shiva and called “Tejomahalay”  (Tajmahal mandir bhavan hai, p. 10; in the 2008 edition).

The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan did not commission a completely new building, but rather had the temple taken over and converted to a mausoleum for his departed wife. (p. 26).

But what to make of Persian-language sources that directly state that the emperor ordered the monument to be built? Here Oak uses linguistic jugglery, claiming that the phrase: “a foundation was laid” does not mean that the construction of a new building was started, it only meant that an order was given to collect building materials to start converting the temple into a mausoleum (p. 29).

And, at any rate, the source was simply lying to prove that “Muslim emperors had [a] big building built”   (p. 29).

And how to prove the building’s older age? Why can’t a radiocarbon dating technique be used on the Taj Mahal? Oak asked (p. 17.). Well, that’s perhaps because such a method works on objects that contain organic matter and the monument is stone.

What about the Taj Mahal’s striking resemblance to other monuments of Timurid and Islamic architecture? Here Oak had it easy:

they were all “Hindu,” too. All other great Mughal mausoleums of northern India were also converted from Hindu temples   (p. 29).

The dome is not a feature of Islamic architecture – it is actually Hindu  (p. 12).

And even if the monuments of “Western Asia” are similar to the Taj Mahal, this is because “Hindu architecture” had influenced them, as this architecture used to be popular all over the world in ancient times (p. 12).

There is no “Indo-Arabic” architecture – only “ancient Indian” architecture  (p. 12).

Oak was right on this last point: there is no “Indo-Arabic” architecture; it should be properly called Indo-Muslim architecture. Oak was seemingly confused geographically, mentioning “Western Asia” but not “Central Asia” and mentioning “Arabic” architecture although the Mughals were not Arabs. But since the entire world had been under the Hindu influence, why care about geography?

It is useless to list all of Oak’s points. His book floods us with a sea of evidence but it is equally shallow in all places. There is, however, at least one more claim worth mentioning. Shah Jahan could not have had the monument built for Mumtaz Mahal, because, like all Mughal emperors, he kept “thousands” of courtesans in his palace. Why, then, would he favor one woman with a monument symbolizing his love (p. 11)? Here Oak contradicted himself, as elsewhere he does claim that the purpose of converting the temple to the mausoleum was Mumtaz Mahal’s death – if that was not so, then what is the Taj Mahal now? But what is more important to me is Oak’s vision of Shah Jahan’s attitude toward woman. It is common among Hindu nationalists to claim that the Muslim rulers were not only cruel and fanatical but also wanton. In this narrative, Shah Jahan could not have loved one woman so much — he must have been lustful like all the rest.

This leads me to a final conclusion. The Taj Mahal is everything the Hindu nationalists do not want it to be. It is Islamic architecture and it is Indian at the same time. It is India’s most famous building and its international trademark, easily overshadowing any single Hindu temple when it comes to India’s global image. It is not built on the ruins of a Hindu temple or using materials from a Hindu temple (contrary to some other buildings) so you can’t “Hinduize” its past. It is a major tourist attraction but it has religious purposes as well, so you can’t “secularize” it either, by wiping out the religious accents. It was built under the Mughal dynasty, which is one of the most hated by Hindu nationalists, but in this case it has no connection to wars, persecutions, or forceful conversions. Try all you can, but you can’t make a symbol of violence out of it (beyond forced labor, at most). It is a symbol of love between two Muslims, while the Hindu nationalists would like to portray the Mughal rulers as lustful, disloyal, and brutal to women. And, despite maintenance issues, it is rather enduring – it’s no ruin which can be left to its final decay, after which the memory of a building can be forgotten or completely remolded. The endurance of stones, the endurance of sources, and the endurance of the more precise historical narrative should keep the likes of Oak at bay.

Also Read: Refuting P.N Oak’s False Contentions on the Ka’bah

The Shiites and Islamic History

One  of  the  worst  groups  when  it  comes  to  distorting  Islamic history  is  the  Raafdhi  Shia,  of  all  groups  and  types.  They  were  among  the  earliest  of  the  groups  to  emerge,  and  they  have  a  hierarchical  political  system  and  their  own  set  of  deviant  beliefs  and  ideology. This  is  the  group  that  tells  the  most  lies  against  its  opponents,  and  they  are  among  the  most  vehemently  opposed  of  people  towards  the Companions,  as  we  will  see.  Among  the  basic  foundations  of  their  belief  are  impugning  the  Companions  and  denouncing  them  as disbelievers,  especially  the  ‘two  shaykhs’  Abu  Bakr  and  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them),  whom  they  refer  to  as  ‘sorcery  and  evil.’  The  Shia  have  the  greatest  number  of  narrators  and  storytellers  who  took  on  the  mission  of  spreading  their  lies  and fabrications  and  compiling  them  in  books  and  essays  about  the  events  of  Islamic  history,  especially  internal  events.  Shu’oobiyyah  and  tribalism  also  had  an  effect  on  the  fabrication  of  historical  reports  and  stories  aimed  at  distorting  Islamic  history  and  ‘proving’  the  superiority  of  one  sect  or  people  or  race  over  another,  ignoring  the  Shariah  criterion  of  superiority,  namely  taqwa“Verily,  the  most  honourable  of  you  with  Allah  is  that  [believer]  who  has  At-Taqwa  [i.e.  he  is  one  of  the  Muttaqoon  (the  pious)]”   [Qur’an  49:13].

The  deviant  sects  took  advantage  of  the  prevalence  of storytellers,  the  ignorance  and  lack  of  knowledge  of  the  Sunnah  on  the  part  of  most  of  the  people,  and  the  fact  that  some  of  them  had  drifted  away  from  the  truth  while  seeking  to  earn  a  living.  They spread  their  lies  and  fabricated  stories,  which  these  storytellers welcomed  and  spread  among  the  common  folk,  without  realising  the  situation.  Hundreds  of  fabricated  reports  about  the  Companions,  Tabi’oon  and  Muslim  scholars,  which  undermined  them  and distorted  their  history,  were  disseminated  through  them.  But  by  His  grace  and  blessing,  Allah  Ta’ala  guided  a  number  of  scholarly  critics,  who  strove  hard  to  examine  the  narrators  and  narrations,  distinguishing  between  true  and  false  and  defending  the  beliefs  and history  of  the  Ummah.  The  Sunni  scholars  put  a  great  deal  of  effort  into  pointing  out  the  fabricated  reports  by  quoting  them  and  highlighting  those  narrators  who  were  weak,  suspicions,  or  followers of  whims  and  desires.  They  drew  up  a  methodology  for  examining  the  reports  and  determining  which  to  accept,  and  they  were  successful  in  these  efforts. 

Among  the  most  prominent  of  those  who  took  on  the  mission  of  explaining  historical  errors  and  pointing  out  flaws  in  the  false reports  were: 

al-Qadi  Ibn  al-‘Arabi  in  al- ‘Awasim  min  al-Qawasim; 

Ibn  Taymiyah  in  many  of  his  books  and  essays,  especially  his  valuable  book  Minhaj  as-Sunnah  an-Nabawiyyah  ji  Naqd  Kalam  ash-Shia  wal-Qadariyyah;

the  critic  adh-Dhahabi  in  many  of  his historical  writings  such  as  Siyar A’lam  an-Nubala’,  Tareekh  al-Islam  and  Mizan  al-l’tidal’,  Naqd  ar-Rijal; 

al-Hafidh  Ibn  Katheer,  the  interpreter  of  Qur’an  and  historian,  in  his  book  al-Bidayah  wan-Nihayah; 

al-Hafidh – Ibn  Hajar  al-‘Asqalani  in  his  books  Fath  al-Bari  fi  Sharh  Saheeh  al-Bukhari, Lisan  al-Mizan, Tahdheeb  at-Tahdheeb and  al-Isabah  fi  Ma’rifat  as-Sahabah. 

With  regard  to  the  methods  used  by  the  Shia  to  distort  the historical  events  and  images  of  the  early  generation  of  the Companions  and  Tabi’oon,  there  were  many  ways,  including:

☆ Outright  fabrications  and  Lies

☆ Mentioning  a  true  story  or  incident,  but  adding  or  omitting  details  so  as  to  distort  it  and  give  the  opposite  idea.

☆ Quoting  reports  out  of  context,  so  that  the  meaning  is distorted,  and  a  false  interpretation  of  events  is  given.

☆ Highlighting  shortcomings  and  mistakes  while  concealing well-established  facts.

☆ Fabricating  poetry  and  attributing  it  to  some  poets,  in  order  to  support  some  so-called  historical  events,  because Arabic  poetry  is  regarded  as  a  historical  document  and  proof  that  helps  to  authenticate  reports.

☆ Fabricating  books  and  essays  and  falsely  attributing  them  to  scholars  and  well  known  characters,  as  the  Raafdhis  fabricated  the  hook  al-Imamah  was-Siyasah,  which  they  attributed  to  Abu  Muhammad  Abdullah  ibn  Muslim  ibn  Qutaybah  ad-Daynoori  because  he  was  famous  among  and  trusted  by  the  Sunnis,  as  we  have  seen  above.

In  the  last  century,  these  lies  and  distortions  were  welcomed by  Western  scholars  and  writers,  such  as  Orientalists  and  missionaries,  during  the  period  in  which  they  invaded  and  spread  terror  in  Muslim  lands.  They  found  in  this  material  what  they  were  looking  for,  and  they  started to  highlight  it  and  focus  on  it.  Motivated  by  their  fanaticism  and  hatred  of  the  Muslims,  they  added  lies  by  inventing  events  that  never  happened  or  misinterpreting  historical events,  purposely  distorting  and  misinterpreting  the  facts  to  support  their  beliefs.  This  group  was  then  supported  by  a  large  number  of  the  students  of  the  Orientalists  from  Arab  and  Muslim  countries,  who  adopted  their  research  methodology  and  their  ideas  and  concepts  for  analysing  and  interpreting  history;  they  took  up  the  banner  after  the  European  Missionary  and  Materialistic  Terrorists  departed  from  the  Muslim  lands.  Thus  the  harm  that  they  did  was  worse  and  greater  than  that  of  their  Orientalist  teachers  and their  predecessors  among  the  misguided  and  innovating  groups.  That  is  because  they,  like  their  teachers,  claimed  to  be  following  a  pure  academic  spirit  and  scientific  method  in  research  by  giving  up  any  and  all  pre-conceptions,  but  in  fact  most  of  them  gave  up  nothing  but  their  faith.

They  had  no  sincerity  towards  the  truth  and  no  knowledge  of following  a  sound  academic  methodology  in  proving  historical  events,  such  as  comparing  reports,  knowing  the  value  of  the  sources  to  which  they  were  referring  and  the  extent  to  which  the  narrators  were  authentic  and  accurate,  and  studying  the  context  of  those  narrators  in  terms  of  human  nature  and  development.  They  did  not  learn  anything  of  scientific  or  academic  methodology  except  for  superficial  matters  such  as  how  to  write  footnotes  and  put  together  bibliographies,  and  so  on.  This  is  probably  what  scientific  methodology  meant  to  them.  Muhibb  ad-Deen  al-Khateeb  said: 

“Those  who  received  a  foreign  education  are  controlled  by  the illusion  that  they  are  disconnected  from  that  past,  and  their  attitude  towards  its  figures  is  like  that  of  a  public  attorney  towards  the  accused.  Indeed,  some  of  them  even  went  to  extremes  to  appear  in front  of  others  as if  they  had  no  connection  with  any  part  of  Arab  and  Muslim  history,  following  in  the  footsteps  of  the  Orientalists  with  their  suspicious  views  of  the  past.  They  have  a  sense  of  contentment  and  follow  their  whims  and  desires,  at  the  time  when  fairness  dictates  that  they  should  verify  the  matter,  in  order  to  reach  a  conclusion  and  feel  at  ease  with  it  before  they  have  enough  evidence  to  prove  it.”

One  of  the  most  important  means  by  which  the  Orientalists  and  their  students  sought  to  distort  the  facts  of  Islamic  history  is:

Misinterpreting  historical  events  on  the  basis  of  modern concepts  and  ideas  and  in  accordance  with  whatever  crossed  their  minds,  without  even  verifying  the  historical  events  in  the  first  place  and  without  paying  any  attention  to  the  historical  context  in  which  the  event  took  place,  the  people’s  circumstances  at  that  time,  or  the  beliefs  that  were  guiding  them  and  that  they  were  following.  Before discussing  any  event,  it  is  essential  to  first  verify  that  it  took  place;  the  fact  that  it  is  mentioned  in  some  book  is  not  sufficient  to  prove  it.  The  stage  of  verifying  precedes  the  stage  of  discussing  and interpreting  historical  events.

The  interpretation  should  also  be  in  accordance  with  the wording  of  the  historical  report,  as  well  as  the  context  of  the  research  and  the  general  nature  of  the  society,  era  and  environment  in  which the  event  took  place.  This  interpretation  of  the  historical  event  should  not  contradict another  incident  or  series  of  incidents  that  are  proven  to  have  happened.  Examination  of  an  event  should  not  be  limited  to  one  aspect  only,  as  is  the  habit  of  many  contemporary  schools  of  thought  when  studying  history;  instead,  all  the  factors  that  have  an impact  on  the  event  should  be  scrutinised,  especially  ideological  and  intellectual  factors.  Even  after  paying  attention  to  all  of  the  above, the  interpretation  of  historical  events  is  no  more  than  a  human  effort,  which  may  be  right  or  wrong.  Some  have  given  prominence  to  the history  of  misguided  groups  and  tried  to  exaggerate  their  role,  depicting  them  as  reformers  who  were  wronged  or  oppressed.  They  have  tried  to  suggest  that  Muslim  historians  were  unfair  to  groups  like  the  Qaramitah,  Isma’ilis,  Imami  Rafidhis,  Fatimids,  Zanj,  Ikhwan  as-Safa and  the  Kharijites.  In  the  view  of  these  historians,  all  of  these groups  were  advocates  of  reform,  justice,  freedom  and  equality,  and  their  uprisings  were  aimed  at  putting  an  end  to  injustice  and  oppression.  This  propaganda  against  Islamic  history,  and  trying  to  crowd  out  the  biographies  of  heroes  and  callers  to  Islam  with  the  biographies  of  the  leaders  of  misguided  groups,  is  something  that  comes  as  no  surprise  from  people  who  are  not  Muslims,  because  they  are motivated  by  their  own  beliefs  and  aims  to  plot  against  Islam  with  all  possible  efforts  by  night  and  day,  in  secret  and  openly.  One  cannot  expect  people  who  have  no  faith  and  who  belong  to  the  disbelieving groups  to  do  anything  other  than  to  support  their  brothers  in  misguidance. 

What  some  may  find  strange  however  is  that  after  the  collapse  of  Orientalism,  the  banner  of  distortion  was  taken  up  by  writers  who  have  Muslim  names  and  are  Muslims,  who  tried  to  spread  this  poison among  their  fellow  Muslims  so  as  to  divert  the  ignorant  away  from  the  straight  path.  These  writers  rely  on  dubious,  weak,  worthless  reports  which  they  pick  up  from  literature,  fairy  stories,  folktales  and  weak  or  falsely  attributed  books.  These  books  are  what  they  use  as proof,  along  with  what  they  find  of  fabricated  reports  in  at-Tabari  and  al-Mas’oodi,  even  though  they  know  that  they  are  not  regarded  as  reliable  academic  references.  This  transgression  against  and distortion  of  Islamic  history  –  especially  the  history  of  the  early  generations  – has  been  done  by  a  number  of  means,  namely:

(a)  Choosing  and  focusing  on  particular  events,  such  as  battles  and  wars,  and  depicting  them  incorrectly  so  as  to  take  away  the  idea  of  struggle  for  the  sake  of  Allah  Ta’ala,  or  focusing  on  events  and  internal  turmoil  with  the  aim  of  presenting  the  dispute  among  the  Companions (radhiyallahu  anhum)  as  if  it  were  a  typical  example  of  conflict  and  political  scheming like  those  of  modern  times.

(b)  Concealing  and  ignoring  everything  that  could  set  a  good  example  and  motivate  people.

(c)  Shedding  doubt  by  targeting  history  and  its  celebrated  figures,  as  well  as  the  Muslim  historians  themselves,  and  casting  aspersions  on  their  knowledge  and  authenticity.

(d)  Fragmenting  Islamic  history  into  small,  disparate  parts  as  if  there  is  no  connection  between  them,  such  as  dividing  Islamic  history  on  the  basis  of  regions,  race  and  so  on. 

All  of  these  means  are  attempts  to  destroy  our  Islamic  history  and  its  beautiful  features,  and  to  prevent  it  from  becoming  a  good  example  to  follow  and  a  means  of  sound  education.

Hence  the  Muslim  historians  have  to  know  about  these  things  and  be  wary  of  them.  They  should  also  be  aware  of  those  who  followed  the  Orientalists  in  their  views  and  methodology,  and  they  should  not  accept  anything  from  them  except  with  great  caution.  If  our  scholars  (may  Allah  have  mercy  on  them)  criticise  many narrators  of  history  and  regard  their  reports  as  weak  because  they  quote  from  the  People  of  the  Book  and  their  Jewish  and  Christian  sources,  then  we  should  be  equally  cautious  in  accepting  the  views  and  interpretations  of  those  who  learned  from  the  Orientalists.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  we  should  reject  and  disregard  them  unless  there  is  clear  proof  to  support  them.

The Tragedy of Karbala in a Nutshell

For those who are in search for a detailed treatise which answers most of the questions of the tragedy of Karbala may read it by clicking the following links:

Karbala – A ‘Bloody’ Conspiracy and the Secrets Behind it [Part 1]

[Part 2] Karbala – The ‘Bloody’ Conspiracy and the Secrets Behind it

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

The substance of the article is an endeavor to reveal the real background of the tragedy of Karbala and to lay bare the events leading to a series of tragedies in the Islamic history. The tragedy taken in a distorted perspective has led to tremendous confusion about the conflicts of the Companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. It gave rise to a separate sect in Islam, the Shi´ah. It is necessary for every Muslim to be aware of the real background of the events in order to avoid distorted concepts about the Companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, as it is a part of our faith to show due respect to them all and consider everyone of them free from perversion of intention in their actions.

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful & The Beneficent

On the 10th of Muharram Al-Haraam, 61 A.H., a most abominable and tragic event occurred in the desert of Karbala that resulted in the martyrdom (shahadah) of Hussain Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), the grandson of our Prophet ﷺ and the son of his daughter, along with most of the members of his family and their supporters. It should be borne in mind that this tragedy did not take place all of a sudden like a bolt from the blue. It was in fact the manifestation of the plot of Saba’iyyah which had claimed the life of Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu), the third Caliph and the son-in-law of the Prophet ﷺ twenty-five years earlier. Caliph Uthman´s (Rashiyallahu anhu) martyrdom took place on 18th of Dhu Al-Hajj, 36 A.H. [Read more: Martyrdom of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (Radhiyallahu Anhu) & the Role Of the Saba’iyyah]

We must not overlook the fact that the struggle between the forces of good and evil is a continuous process which never ends. In the history of mankind, evil has reigned supreme most of the time whereas the triumph of good has been sporadic and short-lived. Another well-established fact is that the evil forces, even if subdued and subjugated, never acknowledge total defeat. On the contrary, they become submissive for a while and lay low, waiting for an opportunity to strike back. Often the evil forces, when subdued, go underground but never abandon their struggle to cause rift and strife among their opponents. The Prophet of Islam ﷺ brought about an incomparable and unprecedented revolution in the history of mankind, a unique miracle for all times, and established a state and government to dispense justice to the people over a vast tract of the globe. In the words of the Qur´an:

…the Truth came and the falsehood vanished… [Al-Isra 17:81]

But toward the end of the Prophet´s revolution, the evil forces put on a disguise and lay low, waiting for the right moment for a counter-attack. Thus, immediately after the demise of the Prophet ﷺ, insurgencies raised their ugly heads against the Islamic state. False prophets and defiants of Zakat challenged the central authority and waged wars against the state of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah. These were the counter-revolutionary forces, determined to disintegrate the newly established Islamic state; but through resolute and prompt action, Abu Bakr Siddique (Radhiyallahu Anhu), the first Caliph, defeated them and consolidated the achievements of the Prophet´s ﷺ Islamic Revolution. It was a great service to Islam rendered by the first Caliph who had a short but glorious reign.

In the next twenty years which include the reigns of ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) and Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu), the second and third Caliph of Islam, many more countries were conquered under the banner of Islam and the Muslim empire extended over a vast expanse of the globe, comprising Iraq, Syria, Iran on one side and a large part of North Africa including Egypt and Morocco on the other. But the historical process has its immutable laws. As the Revolution of the Prophet ﷺ was challenged by the reactionary movements on the Arab land, the same happened with the conquests of those two Caliphs. The first target of these reactionaries was the person of ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) who was assassinated by Abu Lulu Feroze, a Parsi slave from Iran. [Read More: The Last Days of ‘Umar Ibn Khattab (Radhiyallahu Anhu)’s Life and His Assassination]

It was purely an Iranian plot hatched by Hurmuzan, an Iranian general, who thought that if Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) was removed from the scene, the empire of Islam would fall like a house of cards. But by the grace of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), it survived the calamity. Abdullah Ibn Saba, a Jew from Yemen, under the garb of a Muslim, took his sojourn at Madinah. He had all the trappings of an expert plotter and the Jewish cunningness at intrigues, an attribute of his clan. He planted subversive ideas among the people. He pleaded for the usurped rights of the house of the Prophet ﷺ, carried out a propaganda campaign against Caliph Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) and incited the people to revolt. He declared Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) to be the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and dubbed Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) as a usurper. He told people that every Prophet has a wasee and Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) is the wasee of Prophet Mohammad ﷺ and, therefore, entitled to be the caliph after the Prophet ﷺ . He also preached the divinity of Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), thus striking at Tauheed, the very root of Islam. The Iranians, who had embraced Islam only a few years before, were taken in by this propaganda because they had a long history of kingship and hero-worship. They were familiar with the divine rights of kings, and hero-worship was diffused in their blood. They readily accepted these ideas and became their champions. Similarly Abdullah Ibn Saba floated another viewpoint related to the second appearance of Prophet Isa (Alayhis salaam). He argued that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who is the best amongst the prophets of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, would also appear with Christ, for the contrary would imply that he is inferior to Prophet Isa (Alayhis salaam). This was the same argument used by the Qadianis in later years, who invented the notion of the death and burial of Prophet Isa (Alayhis salaam) in Kashmir. They argued that it was illogical for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to have died and for Prophet Isa (Alayhis salaam) to be alive in the heaven. Unsophisticated and illiterate Muslims saw a point of adoration in it for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and fell an easy prey to that sort of propaganda.

Abdullah Ibn Saba travelled all over the Muslim lands and set up his propaganda centers at Basra and Kufa, but his attempts failed in Damascus. Then he went to Egypt where he formed a party of his supporters. Consequently, the last two years of Caliph Uthman´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) reign were filled with machinations, intrigue, and turmoil all over Muslim territories. It culminated in the most unjustified murder (martyrdom) of Caliph Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) who was the ruler of a vast empire and had tens of thousands of soldiers under his command but refused to shed the blood of Muslims in self-protection. Governors of provinces from all over the empire besought the Caliph to allow them to send troops to quell the uprising and to protect his person from the rebels who had surrounded his residence, but he remained strict and steadfast in his decision. It is perhaps a unique and unprecedented episode in the entire history of mankind that a very powerful man, like the Caliph Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu), refused to use authority for his personal safety and let himself be assassinated. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala shower His blessings on him.

The murder of Habeel (son of Adam) by his brother Qabeel is perhaps an incident comparable to Caliph Uthman´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) assassination. When Qabeel declared his intention to kill Habeel, the latter announced his resolve, in the words of the Qur´an:

Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee; lo! I fear Allah the Lord of the worlds. [Al-Ma´ida 5:28]

So, Habeel was assassinated by his brother and that was the first act of homicide in the history of mankind. It was a totally unjustified murder in which the victim refused to offer resistance as in the assassination of Caliph Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu). For such an act, Allah Ta’ala has declared His reward and punishment in the Qur´an:

For that cause We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter of corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and saveth the life of one person, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind… [Al-Ma´ida 5:32].

Before Caliph Uthman´s (radhiyallahu anhu) assassination, Abdullah Ibn Salam (Radhiyallahu anhu), a Jewish scholar who had converted to Islam, addressed the rebels surrounding the residence of the Caliph in these words: “O people! beware of murdering a caliph of a Rasool (Messenger of Allah) for, I am a scholar of Torah and I tell you that Allah avenges the murder of His prophets and the murder of the deputies of his prophets (caliphs). There has hardly been any murder of a prophet which Allah has not avenged by inflicting death on seventy thousand people and the murder of a caliph by inflicting death on thirty five thousand people.” Now it is on record that, after the martyrdom of Hadrat Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu), the conflict and strife among the Muslim continued for almost five years. Civil war broke out and three major battles — Jamal, Siffeen and Nahrawan — were fought, causing eighty-four thousand deaths of Muslims at the hands of other Muslims. Many a pious and good Muslims were slain by the sword of fellow Muslims. Amongst them were eminent Companions like Talha, Zubair, Ammar Ibn Yasir and many more (radhiyallahu anhum). Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), the fourth Caliph, also sacrificed his life in this strife. Ameer Mu´awiya (Radhiyallahu anhu) was also attacked but survived. Amr Ibn Al-Aas (Radhiyallahu anhu) survived a murder attempt due to an alibi; his proxy was killed instead. The schism and strife among the Muslims caused by Abdullah Ibn Saba and his followers claimed countless valuable lives.

An instance from the authenticated record of the battle of Jamal is narrated here to illustrate how Muslims fell victims to the traps laid by the Sabaiyyah. After the occupation of Basra, Umm Al-Mumineen Aisha (Radhiyallahu anha) received a message from Caliph Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) for talks and negotiation. It should be remembered that she was never a claimant for the caliphate. Her only demand was that the murderers of Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) must be punished immediately. Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) offered to accept her demand if his hands were first strengthened by a declaration of allegiance to him by her group. Both the armies of Aisha and Ali (Radhiyallahu anhum) were facing each other and camping on the battle field when these negotiations started. The news of this negotiation reached Abdullah Ibn Saba and Malik Ibn Ashter Nakhey (May Allah’s Curse be on them). They immediately pursued their nefarious plot to undermine the peace talks. Accordingly, under the cover of darkness, they, along with some of their followers, mounted an attack on Umm Al-Mu’mineen Aisha´s (Radhiyallahu anha) camp and the rumour was spread that the attack was made by the forces loyal to Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu). At the same time, they sent the word to Ali´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) camp that Umm Al-Mu’mineen Aisha´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) forces had initiated the attack. Consequently the opposing armies clashed with each other with all their might, leaving thousands dead on the battle field. It is a very painful part of Muslim history that no investigation to discover the truth in time was ever successful. The same thing happened at the battle of Siffeen. When a stage for peaceful negotiations was set, the Sabaiyyahs undermined it and a new scion of dissidents, the Khawarij, appeared on the scene, opening another front for the warring factions.

During the reign of Caliph Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), the Muslim empire did not exit as a single state under one central authority but broke up into various power centers. Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu Anhu), the governor of Syria, demanded avenge of Uthman´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) murder. “The assassins of Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) are in your camp and they are your advisers. I will not declare allegiance to you unless they are punished,” he insisted. It should be borne in mind that Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) did not put forward his claim to the Caliphate and was contented with the governorship of Syria. Whether his demand and pressure on Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) was justified or not is an open issue, and everyone is entitled to have an opinion.

Caliph Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) was killed by a Khariji, and his son Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu) accepted the allegiance of the people at Kufa, a big army base. It appeared that another conflict was in the making. Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), leading a forty thousand strong contingent, marched to Medinah where he had to confront Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu), the governor of Syria, who faced him with a huge army. A small squad was leading the army of Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu). It was rumoured that the squad had a clash with the enemy and suffered a defeat. The persons responsible for spreading this rumour were never identified. Upon hearing the rumor, the Kufi forces revolted against Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu) and not only looted his camp but also manhandled him. He had to take refuge in Chosroes´ palace. But this incident shook the confidence of Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) in his Kufi supporters; he therefore sent a word to Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) for peace talks. Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) not only accepted the offer but also sent a blank cheque, so to say, for a settlement in accordance with the terms of Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu), who laid down the following conditions:

The tax collections from the province of Ahwaz shall be paid to Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu).

A grant of two million dirham shall be paid annually to Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), his younger brother.

Banu Hashim shall be preferred in the distribution of allowances and grants.

A general amnesty shall be declared for all who took part in the battle.

Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) accepted all these terms and peace was restored in the sprawling empire. Strife and civil war came to an end and the state was unified under one central authority as he forced allegiance from all the dissidents. Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), commenting on the transfer of authority, said, “If Mu´awiyah  was the rightful successor to the Caliphate, he has received it and if I had that right, I, too, have passed it on to him; so the matter ends there.”

This was in accordance with the prophecy of the Holy Prophet ﷺ about Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu) when he had said, “Through my son Hassan, Allah will bring about peace between tow warring factions of Muslims.”

It was an honour bestowed on Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) by Allah Ta’ala, but the Saba’iyyah were highly indignant at his peace move. They called him names and taunted him with the words “Ya Aar Al-Mu’meneen” (O, Shame for the believers!) and “Ya Mozill Al-Mu’mineen” (You, the debaser of the Believers!). Ostensibly they were his supporters, but in fact expressed their utter resentment at his action for peace making which ushered in an era of twenty years of unity and tranquility in the Muslim empire.

Muslims belonging to Ahl Al-Sunnah Wal-Jama´ah (the Sunni sect of Islam) do not include Ameer Mu´awiyah´s (Radhiyallahu Anhu) reign in Al-Khilafah Al-Rashidah (the period of Rightly Guided Caliphate). But Ameer Mu´awiyah´s (Radhiyallahu Anhu) twenty years reign is still considered to be the best period in the entire Muslim history after Al-Khilafah Al-Rashidah, because during his reign all the functions of a Muslim state — maintenance of peace, dispensation of justice, struggle for the supremacy of Islam, dissemination of the Word of Allah Ta’ala — were performed admirably well. The reign of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (Rahimahullah) is also considered a glorious era of Islamic history, but it should be borne in mind that Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) — who was not only a Companion of the Holy Prophet ﷺ but also a scribe of Divine Revelation — stands much higher in rank and status than Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (Rahimahullah) because the latter was a Taba´yee (a companion of the Companions of the Prophet) and not a Sahabi. It is the common belief of the Sunnis that however pious a person may be, he cannot be rated equal to the lowest among the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ.

Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) lived for ten years during the reign of Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu), and after the peace agreement between the two, they had a very close and friendly relationship. However, Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu) was poisoned to death, most probably by the same group who were enraged at his armistice with Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu). By no stretch of imagination this heinous deed can be ascribed to Ameer Mu´awiya (Radhiyallahu Anhu) who had no grudge against Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu). [Read More: Who Poisoned Hadhrat Hasan (Radhiyallahu Anhu)?? ]

Before we discuss the nomination of Yazeed as a successor to his father, it would be appropriate to understand some basic and relevant issues. Firstly, the differences in belief (aqeedah) and juristic interpretation (fiqh) among the various sects of the Muslim Ummah have been grossly exaggerated. The Sunnis have no disagreement regarding belief, and have only some minor differences over the interpretation of the Shari´ah. In fact, there are only two sects in Islam (within the context of this topic), i.e,. Sunni and Shi´ah, because they differ over beliefs as well as over the interpretation of Shari´ah. There are certain differences which do not cause the parting of ways. For instance, opinions about historical events and personalities can be overlooked. Similarly, the Sunnis believe Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu anhu) the best among the entire mankind after the prophets of Allah, yet this does not constitute any basic article of faith of a Muslim. However, the concept of the Infallible Imamate maintained by the Shi´ahs is unacceptable because it strikes at the very root of the concept of Prophethood. Only the prophets were continuously guarded against and protected by Allah from any sin, and with the termination of Prophethood the privilege of infallibility has been taken away by Allah Ta’ala from all the progeny of Adam. The door of personal judgment (Ijtihad) is open while the door of Divine Revelation (Nabuwwah) has been closed forever.

Ijtihad, the exercise of personal judgment within the framework of the guidance provided by the Qur´an and the Sunnah (the sayings and doings of the Prophet) is a privilege vouchsafed to every Muslim who is well-versed in the teachings of Islam. The possibility of an error of judgment can never be ruled out because to err is human. But any judgement or decision made in good faith and with a clear conscience has a reward for the judge, regardless of the correctness of the judgment. That is the belief of the Muslim Ummah. In the light of this principle, we can judge the actions of all the caliphs of Islam to be without malice and can hold any opinion we like provided it is not derogatory to their status as the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ.

Now let us look at the issue of Yazeed´s nomination by his father, Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu), as an heir-apparent to the caliphate. According to authentic historical records, it was done on the advice of Mughira Ibn Shu´ba (Radhiyallahu anhu), who was a very intelligent and far-sighted Companion of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He argued that on the death of Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu), the issue of his succession, if remained uncertain, might plunge the Ummah once again into a war as had happened in the pre-Mu´awiya period; hence it was advisable to nominate a person to wield authority in the event of Ameer Mu´awiyah´s (radhiyallahu anhu) death. He also suggested the name of Ameer Mu´awiyah´s son Yazeed for the job. Now it is open to question whether this decision was justified or not, but no aspersions should be cast on Ameer Mu´awiya (Radhiyallahu anhu) or Mughira (Radhiyallahu anhu) who arrived at the conclusion with a clear conscience and in good faith. Both occupy venerable positions in the order of merit of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ . Mughira (Radhiyallahu anhu) was one of those who swore allegiance to the Prophet ﷺ under the tree (on the occasion of Baiy´ah Al-Ridwan) and Allah Ta’ala has commended all of them who took part in that (Al-Qur´an: Al-Fath 48:18). He remained a faithful friend and supporter of Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) throughout his life. But much water had flown under the bridge since Ali´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) times and he could apprehend danger in the absence of most of the influential Companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ who had left this world by then (60 A.H.). The new generation did not have that sense of responsibility or moral embellishment as the old had. In view of such arguments, they took a decision counter to the democratic spirit inculcated by the Prophet ﷺ among his followers. Nevertheless, they cannot be condemned as having ulterior motives of their own, apart from the good of the Ummah, because the Sunnis believe in the diction which asserts:

All Companions of the Prophet were just.

We can differ with the Companions, but we cannot malign them as mala fide.

Now look at the other side of the picture. Many prominent dignitaries among the Muslims including the three Ibad Allah — i.e., Abdullah Ibn Zubair (Radhiyallahu anhu), Abdullah Ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu), Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu anhu) as also Hussain Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) and Abdur Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu anhu) — not only disapproved of Yazeed´s nomination but also declared it against the spirit of Islam. The historic comment of Abdur Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu anhu), when he was asked for allegiance to Yazeed´s heirship, is well worth taking note of. He said, “Now instead of acting upon the Prophet´s ﷺ and the rightly guided Caliphs´ tradition, do you want to adopt the tradition of Caesar and Chosroes?” Also, the fact cannot be overlooked that, except these five prominent Muslims, many others, including a large number of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, swore allegiance to Yazeed´s nomination. All these people cannot be maligned and declared mala fide. Some may even allege that Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) bought their loyalties. If we accept this premise, by the same token it can also be alleged that Hassan Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) too was bought over, and the Shi´ahs consider Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu) to be an Imam Masoom (an infallible guide or leader). Obviously this is not the right course of thought and argument because, if pursued to the logical conclusion, it would tarnish many illustrious names among the Muslims. The only right conduct for us could be to absolve all those who supported Yazeed as well as those who opposed him of all blame because they all acted according to their convictions and for the good of the Muslim Ummah.

Now let us examine the stand which Hussain Ibn Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) took in the situation. As said earlier, he sincerely believed that the nomination of Yazeed to the heirship of the Caliphate would destroy the spirit of democracy and republicanism nurtured and developed so assiduously during the Prophet´s era and afterward, and that it would lead to hereditary kingship which was repugnant to the original political teaching of Islam. He therefore resolved to oppose this with all the resources at his command. The bag load of communications, sent to him by the people of Kufa, not only approved of his stand but also promised support and loyalty to his cause. Kufa was a military base and a very strategic city situated at the crossroads to Iran and Syria. He thought that if the people of Kufa supported him, as their letters written to him indicated, it would be possible to effectively neutralize the change being brought about in the body politic of the Muslim Ummah. So he argued and resolved to act for that cause. Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu anhu) also shared his thoughts but he opposed Hussain´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) going to Kufa because he knew the Kufis better and warned him not to repose his confidence in their loyalty. The Kufis had earlier betrayed Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) and his son Hassan (Radhiyallahu anhu). Abdullah Ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) and Abdullah Ibn Zubair (Radhiyallahu anhu) also had similar opinions about the Kufi character and vehemently besought Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) not to depend on their words would be against him; “Under the slightest pressure or pecuniary coercion the Kufis would change their loyalties,” the three Ibad Allah warned Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu). But he appeared to have taken a firm decision. So he brushed aside all their pleadings and warnings, and decided to proceed to Kufa, placing his confidence in Allah Ta’ala. For he acted in the true spirit of Allah´s and the Prophet´s ﷺ command:

So when you have decided (on a course of action) repose your confidence in Allah [Aal-e-Imran 3:159].

It may be argued that Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) committed a mistake in the assessment of the situation, but no insinuations about his intentions can be entertained. He had no lust for power or avarice for wealth. This is the common belief of the Ahl Al-Sunnah Wal-Jama´ah (the Sunnis). They do not consider him, like all non-Prophets, to be infallible; at the same time they do not doubt his integrity either.

When the nomination issue was deliberated upon in Madinah, Abdullah Ibn Zubair (Radhiyallahu anhu) went over to Makkah and so did Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), because some prominent Muslim were of the opinion that Makkah would be the best place as a stronghold or base for launching a campaign for building up public opinion against Yazeed´s heirship. However, before any significant work could be done in this regard, Ameer Mu´awiyah (Radhiyallahu anhu) died and Yazeed took over the reigns of government. Now Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) received heaps of letters from the Kufis pledging their loyalty and support to him if he mounted an attack against Yazeed´s forces. He sent his cousin Muslim Ibn Aqeel (Radhiyallahu anhu) to Kufa to find out facts. Soon he received an affirmation of the loyalty of Kufis from his cousin and he started preparations for a journey to Kufa. Abdullah Ibn Umar and Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu anhum) pleaded vigorously against his plan and entreated him to at least leave women and children in Makkah if he was determined to proceed to Kufa. But Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) ignored their suggestions. On the way he received the report of Muslim Ibn Aqeel´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) death at the hands of Yazeed´s men and the apathy and indifference displayed by the people of Kufa at this incident, and also the news that the Kufis had shifted their loyalties to Yazeed, pledging support to him against Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) and his followers.

Now Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) was in a dilemma: should he continue his journey towards Kufa or return to Makkah? The Arab tradition of avenging the murder of their man, at all costs, was too strong for him to resist. Besides, the close relatives of Muslim Ibn Aqeel (Radhiyallahu anhu), who were accompanying Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), declared their resolve to punish the assassins and continue their march. For Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), it was below his dignity to abandon them and return to Makkah. So, he decided to continue his march to Kufa. Meanwhile, the two young sons of Abdullah Ibn Jaffer Tayyar, a cousin of Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), arrived with their father´s message: “For God´s sake, don´t go to Kufa.” However, Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) continued his journey with these two boys joining his camp and arrived at the desert of Karbala. Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, arrived there with one thousand soldiers under his command and offered one option to Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) in accordance with the instruction from Yazeed: “You can neither go to Kufa nor return to Makkah, but you can go any where else you want.” Obviously, the only course open for Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) was to Damascus, the capital. It is very unfortunate that he turned down the offer and continued his sojourn at Karbala trying to win over the support of Ibn Ziyad´s men because in his addresses to the Kufis under Ibn Ziyad´s command, he mentioned the persons by name who had written letters to him pledging loyalty and support and pleaded with them to honor their pledges. The Kufis disowned their letters and denied their authorship.

Meanwhile, a reinforcement of four thousand soldiers, under the command of Amr Ibn Sa´d, arrived at Kufa from Damascus. Amr was the son of Sa´d Ibn Abi Waqas (Radhiyallahu anhu), the conqueror of Iran, and was also related to Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) for whom he had all the sympathies. Talks of reconciliation continued but the Kufis, fearing reprisals in case of a reconciliation, forced their leader Ibn Ziyad to toughen his attitude. Realizing this, Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) placed three options before them: “Allow me to return to Makkah safely, or allow me to proceed to the frontiers of the Muslim empire so that I may continue my campaign against non-Muslims, or allow me a safe passage to the capital, Damascus, where I may settle the issue with Yazeed in person.”

The conspirators, however, succeeded in undermining the reconciliation talks and forced Amr Ibn Sa´d to corner Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu). “Either surrender unconditionally or get ready for war,” they demanded. Obviously an unconditional surrender by Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) was a tall order and a challenge to his honor and dignity. He was constrained to fight the enemy though heavily outnumbered and under-equipped. Thus, the Saba’iyyah conspiracy that sabotaged the peace talks just before the battles of Jamal and Siffeen was successful once again, and Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu) and all his camp followers were slain mercilessly on the sands of Karbala. However, all of them displayed unflinching courage and valour on the battle-field.

In apportioning blame for this tragedy, fictitious stories have been fabricated about the disagreements between Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) and Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu). In fact, there were no disagreements between the two, who respected and loved each other like brothers. It is again the Sabaiyyah elements who concocted bogus stories and phony events to cover up their own heinous acts of perfidy in this drama of strife and partisan-politics forced on the Muslims. No attempt has ever been made to unmask their ugly faces and instead their version of these episodes has been accepted as authentic, resulting in deep malignity against the highly venerable and illustrious personalities of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

From the assassination of Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) right up to the tragic event at Karbala, one can easily discern the hidden hand of Sabaiyyah agents who successfully plotted against the solidarity of the Muslim Empire and plunged in into senseless bloodshed. The entire blame must be placed on them, where it rightfully belongs, and the fair names of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ , who are all adool (scrupulously just), must be exonerated from the calumny and ignominy to which they have been exposed through the malicious propaganda of the Sabaiyyah.

It would be worthwhile to mention here two instances of fair play and God-fearing conduct of Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) and Yazeed. When Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) defeated Umm Al-Mu’mineen Aisha (Radhiyallahu anha) at the battle of Jamal, he treated her with the same reverence and decorum to which she was entitled as one of the “Mothers of the Believers.” He conducted her and her retinue of ladies and gentlemen with all the respect and security to Madinah. This amply demonstrates that there was no personal enmity or malice between the two. Again, when the battle survivors, ladies, and children from Hussain´s camp of Karbala arrived at Damascus, Yazeed treated them with due regard and respect and expressed his sympathies with them. He also expressed his sincere condolences at the needless bloodshed and said, “Had Ibn Ziyad not gone to such an extent, I would have been pleased with him even then.”

The two martyrdoms, that of Uthman (Radhiyallahu anhu) and of Hussain (Radhiyallahu anhu), have caused agony in the hearts of the Muslim Ummah and have cast their gloomy shadows over its fourteen hundred year history. The have caused dissension and fighting among the Muslims who have fallen into the trap of those who sowed the seeds of discord and shifted the blame to the most respected persons of the Ummah. It is, in fact, the triumph of those intriguing elements who were jubilant over their accomplishment. Now, we are at each other´s throat and hurl bad names and odium on the very honorable personalities of Islam. Some people consider names of Yazeed and Shimer a symbols of profanity and an anathema while some others use Amr Ibn Sa´d´s and Ameer Mu´awiyah´s (Radhiyallahu anhu) names as expletives. May Allah guide such people to the right course and protect us from sharing their company or views and give us the wisdom and strength to heed Prophet´s warning:

Beware of expressing opinions about my Companions and, after I am gone, do not use them for your own ends; for whosoever will love them would do so because of their love for me and whosoever would have rancor against them, would do so because of their rancor against me.