The governor of Madinā and Imām Husain (a.s.)

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(Kāmil) When Yazid had taken the oath of allegiance for the Caliphate from the people, he wrote a letter to Waleed bin Utba informing him of the death of Mu’āwiyah. In a short letter he wrote, “Now then!1 Ask for the oath of allegiance from Husain, Abdullāh bin Umar and Abdullāh bin Zubayr, and do not give them respite until they do so.” When Waleed read about the death of Mu’āwiyah, he was alarmed and the news disturbed him, thus reluctantly he summoned Marwān bin Hakam. Marwān was the governor of Madinā before Waleed, and hence when Waleed became the governor, he hated and abused him while seperating himself from him for a long time until the news of the death of Mu’āwiyah and the demand of allegiance from the people reached him. This being difficult for him, he called for Marwān. When Marwān came, Waleed read the contents of the letter to him. When Marwān heard it he recited “Verily we are Allāh’s and verily unto Him shall we return”, and he prayed for blessings to be bestowed upon Mu’āwiyah. When Waleed asked his advice regarding the issue, Marwān replied, “In my opinion, before announcing the death of Mu’āwiyah, summon these persons this very moment (and ask them to swear the oath of allegiance for Yazid). If they refuse, cut off their necks before they learn about Mu’āwiyah’s death. For if they become slightly aware of this, each one of them will go away to different places and start revolting, and shall claim themselves eligible for the Caliphate.” Waleed called for Abdullāh bin Amr bin Usmān, who was just a lad, to summon Imām Husain (a.s.) and Abdullāh bin Zubayr to meet him. It was a time when Waleed usually did not meet anyone. Abdullāh bin Umro saw them seated in the Mosque and conveyed Waleed’s message to meet them. They told him to go back and that they would soon follow him. Abdullāh bin Zubayr turned towards Imām Husain (a.s.) and said, “In your opinion what is the reason for Waleed to call us to meet him at this unusual hour”? Imām replied, “I presume that their leader of rebels has died and he has called us to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid before the news spreads among other people.” Abdullāh too consented to it and asked as to what he would do. Imām replied that he would go to meet Waleed accompanied by some youths. (Irshād) Then he called for a group from among his relatives and said, “Lift up your arms, for Waleed has called me at this hour and might force me to do that which I detest. I do not trust him, thus remain with me. When I go inside to meet him, you all sit at the door, and when you hear my voice raised, barge inside to defend me.” When Imām came to Waleed, he saw Marwān sitting with him. Waleed gave the news of the death of Mu’āwiyah to Imām Husain (a.s.), and he recited: “Verily we are Allāh’s and verily unto Him shall we return.” Then Waleed read the letter of Yazid and his order to get the pledge of allegiance for him. Imām  replied, “I understand that you shall not agree if I swear the oath of allegiance in secrecy and privately until and unless I do so publicly so that people may be informed about it.” Waleed replied in the affirmative. Imām Husain said, “In that case wait until dawn.” Waleed replied, “As you desire. You may go in Allāh’s refuge, until you come to me with the people.” Marwān said, “If Husain goes away from your midst without swearing the oath of allegiance, you will never have the power to ask the allegiance again until much bloodshed between him and you. Hence imprison him till he swears the oath of allegiance, or else cut off his head.” Imām Husain (a.s.) arose and said, “O son of Zarqa! Will you dare to kill me? Verily you have lied and have sinned.”Saying this Imām Husain (a.s.) came outside and returned back with his men to his house. Then Marwān turned towards Waleed and said, “You disobeyed me? By Allāh! You will never be able to lay your hands upon him.” Waleed replied, “Woe be to your soul which is your own enemy O Marwān! You have advised me regarding that which would ruin my religion. By Allāh! I do not like to acquire the wealth and dominion over which the sun rises and sets if it involved the killing of Husain. Glory be to Allāh! I should kill Husain simply because he refused to swear the oath of allegiance? By Allāh! I am convinced that whoever is associated with the killing of Husain, on the day of Qiyāmah he (his deeds) will weigh less in scales near Allāh.” Marwān said, “If this is what you think, then whatever you did is quite right.” Then he returned back displeased with him. Ibne Shahr Aashob writes in Manāqib that when Imām Husain (a.s.) went to meet Waleed and read the contents of the letter, he said that he would not swear the oath of allegiance (bay’ah). Marwān, who was present there said, “Swear the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the faithful (meaning Yazid).” Imām Husain (a.s.) replied, “Woe to you! Verily you have attributed falsehood to the believers. Who has made him the Commander of the faithful”? Hearing this Marwān arose and unsheathed his sword and said, “Call the executioner and tell to behead him before he leaves from here, and the responsibility of his blood will be on my neck.” When voices were raised, nineteen men from among the family of Imām barged in with daggers and Imām Husain (a.s.) went away with them. When this news reached Yazid, he deposed Waleed and appointed Marwān as the governor of Madinā. After this Imām Husain (a.s.) and Abdullāh bin Zubayr left for Makkāh, and Abdul Rahmān bin Abu Bakr and Abdullāh bin Umar were left untouched.

1 Amma Ba’ad: A formular phrase linking introduction and actual subject of a book, letter or speech  As regards Marwān the son of Hakam bin As, his animosity towards Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) is quite renowned. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had banished Hakam bin Aas from Mādina due to his rancor against Islām alongwith with his son Marwān (Ref. Tāreekh – Abul Fidā, Milal wan Nihal – Shahrestani, Ma’arif – Ibne Qutaybah Page 94, Isti’ab – Ibne Abdul Birr Page 118-119, Isabah – Ibne Hajar Vol 1: Page 344, Riyazun Nazarah – Muhibuddin Tabari Vol 2: Page 143). Thus Marwān was often addressed as “Tareed ibne Tareed” (the exiled and son of the exiled). When Usmān bin Affān ascended the Caliphate, he called both of them back, being himself from the Bani Umayyāh, and presented them with lavish gifts and went to the extent of marrying one of his daughters to Marwān. Marwān’s hatred towards the Prophet’s Ahlulbait (a.s.) came to light when Imām Hasan (a.s.) was martyred and his beir was brought to the grave of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to be buried alongside him. It was Marwān, who alongwith with the other Bani Umayyāh objected strongly against doing so. He started reciting: “O Lord! Battle is better than ease. Should Usmān be buried in the outskirts of Mādina and Hasan be buried alongside the Prophet? That will never be while I carry a sword.” After which arrows were shot at the beir of Imām Hasan (a.s.) and he had to be buried, in accordance to his will, at Jannatul Baqi’ (Ref. Rawzatus Safā – Mohammad bin Khāwind Shāh Vol 3: Page 7, Tāreekh – Abul Fidā Vol 1: Page 183, Rawzatul Manazir – Ibne Shahnah Vol 2: Page 133, Tāreekhe Kāmil – Ibne Aseer Vol 3: Page 182). Marwān’s grandmother Zarqa, the daughter of Wahab, was a renowned prostitute (Ref. Kitaban Niza wat Taqasum, Page 20 – Ahmed bin Ali Maqrizi) In the above episode Imām Husain (a.s.) refers to him saying “O son of Zarqa” thus announcing his ignoble descent.

As regards Abdullāh ibne Zubayr, when he received Waleed’s message he replied that he would soon come, then he went to his house and hid himself. Waleed followed him thereafter and saw that he had gathered his friends and had segregated himself. Waleed pressed him but Abdullāh said that he wanted respite to think over. Then Waleed sent his slaves to Abdullāh who went and abused him saying, “You will have to come to us or else he will slay you.” Abdullāh said, “I am wary because of your compulsion. Give me respite, so that I may despatch one of my men to the governor to ask what he wants from me.” Then he sent his brother Ja’far bin Zubayr. Ja’far went to Waleed and said, “May Allāh’s mercy be upon you! Lift your hands off Abdullāh for you have frightened him. Tomorrow he will come to you Allāh willing, hence command your envoys to return back.” Waleed sent someone to call back his messengers who returned back. On the same night Abdullāh, accompanied by his brother Ja’far, left for Makkāh taking the road of Fara’, and no one else accompanied them. (Irshād) In the morning when Waleed was informed about his flight, he sent a slave of Bani Umayyāh with eighty horsemen, who galloped behind him, but could not trace him hence returned back. And that day they remained busy in the affair of Imām Husain (a.s.) and dispensed with him until the night approached. In the morning Imām Husain (a.s.) came out of his house to hear the reports from the people, when he came across Marwān. Marwān said, “O Abā Abdillah! I desire your goodwill, thus accept what I say until you reach the road of righteousness.” Imām told him to say what he wanted to. Marwān replied, “I say that you swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid, for it will be better for your life of this world and the hereafter.”

Imām Husain replied,

“Verily we are Allāh’s and verily unto Him shall
we return. Peace upon Islām if the nation gets trapped in the leadership of Yazid, for I have heard my Grandfather say that Caliphate is forbidden upon the children of Abu Sufyān.”
Thus they started talking to each other and their correspondence increased, in the end Marwān was offended and left.
On the same day Waleed sent some people to the presence of Imām Husain (a.s.) so that he may come to swear the oath of allegiance. Imām replied, “Let morning dawn and we shall see and you
too shall see.”
When they heard this they did not force him and returned back. On the same night he left from Madinā, and it was the night of twenty-eighth of the month of Rajab. He left accompanied by his sons, brothers, nephews and his family members except Mohammad ibne Hanafiyah. Mohammad was not aware as to where he would go and hence said, “O brother! You are most dear and beloved near me and hence you are most worthy for the gift of advice. Keep away from Yazid bin Mu’āwiyah and from the renowned cities as far as you can. Scatter your messengers around and invite people towards yourself. If people obey your command and swear fealthy to you, offer Praise to the Almighty, and if they leave you and gather around someone else, your intellect and religion will not be lessened. And your valour and mercy will not diminish. I fear lest you go to a renowned town wherein a group of people supports you while the others may rebel and thus you may fall prey to their lances. At that time, the one who is the best person among all the people with regard to himself and his parents, his blood may spill and his family be humiliated.”

Imām Husain (a.s.) replied, “O dear brother! Where should I go to”? Mohammad replied, “Go to Makkāh, and hault there. If you find relief, settle there for that is what you seek. And if the climate does not suit you, go towards Yemen. If you find safety therein, stay or else take refuge in the deserts and mountains. Then go from one place to another until you find out the position of the affairs of the people. At that moment your decision will be the best opinion.” Imām Husain (a.s.) replied,

“O brother! You have adviced rightly and I wish that your advise may be firm and triumphant.” Then he went to the Mosque and recited the following couplets of Yazid bin Mufarri’: “Neither will I offend the grazing cattle in the morning, nor shall I be called Yazid. There will never come the day when I will yield submissively, and death watches me to back off.”