Al Muntazar - Online Islamic Course, Imam Husain (a.s.) and Imam Mahdi (a.s.)

The Causes of Uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.) and Verdicts of Maraaje’

The heartrending event of Karbala and the martyrdom of the chief of martyrs Imam Husain (a.s.) had long been prophesied by all the Prophets (a.s.) in their peculiar ways. In the traditions of Aimmah (a.s.), the incidents of the previous prophets, some detailed while others concise, have been narrated with respect to the occurrence of the event of Karbala. We do not intend to detail these incidents but to remind that the incident of Karbala has firm roots and enjoys legislative (Shari’i) status. We have mentioned some of these incidents, to some extent, in the previous issues of Al-Muntazar to which the intrerested readers can refer to.

We would also, before we proceed, like to mention that where the traditions of Prophets (a.s.) and Aimmah (a.s.) about foretelling the event of Karbala, the establishing of mourning over Imam Husain (a.s.) through Aimmah (a.s.)after the event of Karbala, and Aimmah (a.s.) emphasizing the same have been mentioned in reliable and authentic traditions, Quran too has provided several proofs about the same. Therefore the legislative status of mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) has roots in Holy Quran too. For this aspect also interested readers can refer to previous issues of Al-Muntazar.

There is no need, after proving the legislative status of mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) through Quran and traditions, to provide further proofs. However common masses unaware of the laws of Shariah and the underlying causes advertently, inadvertently or due to external contaminations and doubts raised by the enemies sometimes fall prey to them and question the very existence of mourning. They attempt to reduce the importance of Aashura and mourning and at times go as far as to deny certain realities too.

We therefore tried to present in the context of the causes of uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.) the opinion of esteemed scholars to the general masses. Before we mention their opinions it is necessary to enlist the causes of uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.).

The Historical Analysis of the causes of the movement of Karbala

A look at the factors leading to the uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.) will reveal that there were several religious and social responsibilities due to which he offered such a great sacrifice. We shall mention some of them as hereunder.

1. Religious Obligation

Religious obligation and responsibility required him to call for an uprising against the Umayyad government who had changed forbidden into the lawful, breached their covenant and opposed the conduct (Sunnah) of Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).

2. Social Obligation

Imam plays a pivotal role in the society. Hence when Imam Husain (a.s.) saw that oppression has increased in the society he disproved of the Umayyad government, shouldered this great responsibility and conveyed his message with utmost sincerity and trustworthiness. He sacrificed his life and that of his relatives and companions to enliven Islamic justice and laws.

3. Completion of Argument

The correspondence and delegations from the residents of Kufa compelled him to declare war and fight against the rebels. It was, as an Imam, his duty to respond to their appeals. Therefore he set out to deliver people from the oppression of the Umayyads.

4. Protection of Islam

The religion of Islam faced the threat of annihilation from the Umayyad rulers, particularly Yazeed who had at the very outset declared his disbelief thus:

The Sons of Hashim played with the kingdom

There was no news nor was there any revelation

Yazeed who remained adamant on his disbelief of the age of Jahiliyyah used to say that no book was revealed, nor do heaven and hell exist. Imam Husain (a.s.) set out to reduce these plans of theirs to dust.

5. The Protection of Caliphate

Another evident cause for his uprising was to cleanse the Islamic caliphate of the contaminations of Umayyads, which the latter had usurped unlawfully, and were opposing and mocking Islam. Imam Husain (a.s.) intended to establish justice in and remove corruption from the society.

6. Right to Exercise Free Will

In the reign of Muaviyah Muslims did not enjoy free will and faced restriction on exercising their rights.

Imam Husain (a.s.) raised his sword so that Muslims regain their lost honour and as a result his martyrdom changed the very face of the Muslims and their history.

7. Universal Oppression

Oppression had engulfed the Muslim kingdom. None could rid himself of their oppression. Imam Husain (a.s.) raised his sword and opened up the avenues of honour and esteem for the Muslims.

8. Oppression on Shias of Ali (a.s.)

The Umayyad government was running the movement of oppression on Shias of Ali and they were being oppressed continuously. Imam Husain (a.s.) rose to help and deliver them from the same.

9. Removing the remembrance of Ahlebait (a.s.)

It was very evident that Umayyad government made serious attempts to efface the remembrance of Ahlebait (a.s.), their virtues and their teachings. Muaviyah was the craftsman of this wicked tool. Imam Husain (a.s.) saw that his revered father is disrespected from the pulpits and attempted to uproot this evil.

10. Destroying the value and system of Islam

Imam Husain (a.s.) realised that Umayyad government are bent upon destroying the value and system of Islam and rose to breathe a new life into the same.

11. Enjoining the Good

This is the strongest and the most authentic cause for his uprising, which he himself mentioned in his will. This is also the very foundation of the religion.

12. Eradicating Innovation (bid’ah)

In his letter to the residents of Basrah Imam Husain (a.s.) wrote:

‘Certainly Sunnah is being terminated and innovation (in religion) is created.’

Therefore Imam Husain (a.s.) through his sacrifice eradicated the innovations of Umayyads rooted in Jahiliyyah, enlivened the conduct of his grandfather and elevated the flag of Islam.

13. Respect and Honour

Imam Husain (a.s.) destroyed the evil intentions of Umayyads to disrespect Ahle Bait (a.s.). On the day of Aashura he mentioned in his sermon:

This person of unknown lineage and also the son of a similar person is putting the two ways (choice) of sword and disgrace before me. It is unfortunate that we are heading towards disgrace because Allah, His Messenger and believers have prevented us from yielding to disgrace. Moreover the chaste mothers and noble fathers do not disprove that we prefer obedience of base and degraded people over martyrdom and pure nature. Notwithstanding the scarcity of my supporters and the absence of help from people I proceed towards battlefield’

Imam Husain (a.s.) in his sermon declared his nobility and also exposed the doubtful lineage of Ibn Ziyaad. The latter intended to dishonor Imam Husain (a.s.) but was in turn enveloped by a perpetual disgrace.

14. The Breach of Trust by Umayyad

Imam Husain (a.s.) was well aware that Bani Umayyah will not shun bloodshed and breach of trust.

Imam Husain (a.s.) explained clearly that Umayyads will not honour their promise. The ruler of Syria broke the promises he had made to Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) and Imam Hasan (a.s,) and Yazeed was treading the footsteps of his father.

These are some of the factors chronicled by the historians. Several others too have been documented which cannot be covered in this article. It should be noted that the above mentioned causes are the general causes mentioned by the historians. One should not think it to be the complete list forming a complete argument for his uprising.


Pondering over the above factors we can realise that Bani Umayyah attempted to destroy Islam and committed great oppressions. Hence Imam Husain (a.s.) proceeded to protect Islam and root out the oppression. This aspect is very evident. Also as per the traditions the deviated creatures were put to test through his uprising and his mausoleum was made a place of refuge for his Shiahs. Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) narrates a lengthy tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) through Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.):

‘When Imam Husain (a.s.) left Madinah, the armies of Angels equipped with arms, riding camels of paradise descended from heavens towards him and after saluting him said:

‘O Husain, you are the proof of Allah after your revered grandfather, your honoured father and your brother of high status. Allah has, several times, sent us to assist your sacred ancestors. He has now sent us to assist you. Imam (a.s.) replied:

‘My promised and resting place is the land of Karbala. Come to me when I reach there.’

The angels returned saying:

‘We shall carry out your orders.’

In the next part of this tradition Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:

‘If I stay in my house and do not fight (against injustice) how will then this deviated nation be tested, who will be buried at my place on the land of Karbala. The same part of land to which Allah had accorded respect from the very beginning of the creation, made it a place of refuge for my Shias and reserved the security of this world and hereafter for them.’

(Behaar al-Anwaar vol 44, pg 330)

We would like to reiterate that (rising against) the government of Umayyad is not the only reason for the uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.). The real aim is far exalted and sublime. Allah willed to grant honour to Islam through Imam Husain (a.s.), his esteemed wali, and also appointed him as a source of guidance for his Shias till the day of judgement. He made his mourning a protection of faith. Hence Allamah Ahmad ibn Fahd Hilli (r.a.) writes in his book ‘Oddat al-Daaee’ thus:

(Oddat al-Daaee by Ibn Fahd Hilli (r.a.))

Allah granted four honors to Imam Husain (a.s.) on account of his martyrdom.

1.    He placed cure in the dust of his grave

2.    All prayers under his dome are answered

3.    The infallible Imams (a.s.) are from his progeny

4.    He does not count the days spent by a Zaa’er i.e. his visitor in his life, thereby increasing his life span.

The Opinions of the Esteemed Maraa’je

Let us know mention the views of the Esteemed Maraa’je about this uprising. Theyopine that these factors are only the apparent causes of his uprising and also that mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) and his uprising is the essence of Shiah faith and a sign of religion. His love is a source of deliverance. We hereunder quote their opinions:

1. Ayatullah Abul Qasim al- Khooie (r.a.)

After the period of Muaviyah’s rule Imam Husain (a.s.) observed that people have now realised with what evils Muaviyah, before leaving this world has, shackled their necks with. He had disrespected the religion to his satiation. Imam Husain (a.s.) then rose against them, since this was the divine order and the will of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).

His uprising served as an argument for the people of his era as well as for future generations against the perception that every ruler is the caliph of Muslims who they are duty bound to follow.

In nutshell Imam Husain (a.s.) injected new life into the very values which Bani Umayyah attempted to obliterate. This action of his served as an argument and a warning that a person who sits hand folded after ascending the throne of caliphate does not become deserving of the same. Caliphate is only for the deserving ones.

(Seraat al-Najaat vol 3 pg 428 Mirza Jawad Tabrizi)

2. Late Ayatullah Mirza Jawad (a.r.)

The wisdom behind the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) at the hands of the usurpers seated on the throne of caliphate was to annihilate all their affairs,to awaken people from heedlessness and, to manifest the correct beliefs the protection of and submission to which was their duty. In this manner the future generations too would benefit from his uprising.

(Seraat al-Najaat, vol. 3 pg 433 Mirza Jawad Tabrizi)

3. Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayyad Ali Husaini al-Seestani (d.z.a.)

Today majority of the people of this world are Muqallideen of Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayed Ali Seestani (d.z.a.) who residing in Holy Najaf at present is guiding Shias of the world. He was asked:

What is the actual reason of the uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.). It is not we, who believe in his Imamat and infallibility, who are putting across such a question but the antagonists. We are compelled to answer them and request your opinion.

He replied:

Imam Husain (a.s.) has himself said:

‘Surely I have set out to reform the nation of my grandfather and enjoin good and forbid evil.’

He also said that there is no doubt that the open declaration of corruption and moreover its attribution to the caliph of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) is a grave danger before Islam and Muslims. Hence, like any self respecting Muslim, he was compelled to rise. Also in the event he realises that Satan is bent upon killing him, he adopts the approach of the Prophets (a.s.) who rose against oppression and the deniers of truth, till they achieved martyrdom.

(Isteftaa’at 487, Al-Sayyad al-Seestani)

4. Ayatullah Ruhullah Khumaini (r.a.)

We have seen that Imam Husain (a.s.) has preserved Islam till this day. He rose against injustice in the way of Allah. We must realise the importance of these gatherings (Majalis). The gatherings around the day of Aashura are like a savoiur for us. In other days too it stirs us into action. People should not consider us to be just a mourning nation. We are such a nation who has, through this mourning, eradicated a two thousand five hundred year old power.

(Saheefa-e-Noor vol. 16, pg 207-210)

5. Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (a.r.)

We can say with confidence that this sign (of mourning) is a sign of Islam which has reached us through Aimmah (a.s.). Perhaps it is too early that we fathom the deep realities of Aashura.