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Imam Husain’s (a.s.) Letter to Muawiya, the Emir of Syria

Muawiya the son of Abu Sufyan was made the ruler of Syria by the order of the Second Caliph, Umar ibne Khattab. His rule continued till the end of Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) life and ten years of the Imamat of Imam Husain (a.s.).  Kashi, a reliable historian and scholar of Rejal (study of narrators), writes in his book, ‘Rejal-e-Kashi’ thus “Marwan bin Hakam was the governor of Muawiya in Medina. He wrote to Muawiya that the people of Medina maintained very close relations with Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.). They visited him
frequently. This state of affairs were absolutely dangerous for the future of the caliphate of Abu Sufyan’s progeny.” To avoid the dangers and risks to his Caliphate, Muawiya wrote a letter to Imam Husain (a.s.) in which he issued various threats. Imam Husain (a.s.) replied him in the following manner:  

“After praise to Allah and blessings upon the Prophet of Allah, I wish to inform you that I have received your letter, in which you have mentioned that you have heard some reports about me which you detested. And in your opinion, this was not expected of me. You have also mentioned that it is only Allah Who guides the people towards righteousness. And only He is the Helper and Support of one and all.  

You should know that reports concerning me have reached you through a sycophant and a back-biter. I do not intend any war or rebellion against you. But, by Allah I am proceeding on a way which is not against your rule. It is not that I consider not confronting you likeable in the eyes of Allah. Neither do I fear divine retribution if I confront you. I fear Allah that He may not accept my excuse of keeping silent against you and your evil friends who are cohorts of the devil.  

Are you not the murderer of Hujr Ibne Adi and his chaste companions, who opposed injustice and considered innovations to be evil? They did not pay heed to any accusations in the way of Allah. Had you not made promises and oaths to them? Had you not assured them that you will not arrest them? And that you will not trouble them? Despite such oaths and promises, have you not put them to death? 

Are you not the killer of the righteous companions of the Prophet of Allah (s.a. w.a.), Amr Ibne Humq Khuzaee? One who had become physically frail and pale in complexion due to incessant worship? Had you not promised them safety? Had such an assurance been given to a bird, it would have come down from the mountain peak. But you did not even care to respect  his oath of peace. You trampled upon your oath and did not fear Allah. You had him killed as well.

  Are you not the one who certified Ziyad the son of Sumayya to be the off-spring of Abu Sufyan although he was born on the bed of a slave from Bani Thaqif? You attributed him to your father and opposed the explicit order of Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.), “A son is related to a father and the adulterer is to be stoned.” Have you not obeyed your evil desires? After this you imposed him upon the people of Iraq and Khorasan. You amputated their hands and feet, gouged out their eyes and crucified them on date palms. You behaved as if you are not from the Islamic Ummah and have nothing to do with it.  

Are you not the one to whom the son of Sumayya (Ziyad Ibne Abih) wrote that the tribe of Hazrami were upon the religion of Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.)? And you replied that anyone who was on the religion of Ali (a.s.) should be put to death. Thereafter, Ziyad had them killed and mutilated their bodies as per your order. By Allah, Ali (a.s.) had fought against you and your father for the sake of Allah. And you are upon this throne due to this very religion. Had it not been for the loftiness of this faith, you, your father and ancestors would still have wandered in the lanes during summer and winter (that is, you people would still be vagabonds).  

You have written that I must sit quiet for the sake of my life and the safety of Muhammad’s (s.a.w.a.) Ummah. And that I must not sow the seeds of dissension and corruption in the society. But 1 do not consider anything more corrupt for this Ummah than your tyrannical rule. I consider Jihad against you to be the best and most meritorious thing for me and for  uhammad (s.a.w.a.)’s Ummah. If I wage a holy war against you, it shall be the best means of seeking nearness to Allah. If not, then I seek forgiveness from Allah. And I shall pray to Allah for guidance in my affairs.

  You have also mentioned that ‘if I oppose you, you would oppose me and if I proceed against you, you will proceed against me.’ You may take whatever steps you can against me. I am sure that your planning will cause me no harm. The greatest harm shall be to you. For, you are riding the vehicle of ignorance and are apt at breaking oaths and treaties. By my life, you have never considered any point of agreement. You have killed those with whom you had made treaties, promises and oaths. And you killed them when they had neither any intention of waging a war against you nor had they committed any murder. You shed their blood only because they related our merits and were cognizant of the greatness of our rights. Although it was possible that natural death would have occurred to them or to you even before their uprising to reach to a conclusion.

  O Muawiya! Be prepared for divine retribution and be sure of the accounting before Allah. And know that the scroll of deeds has a record of every small and big sin. Nothing is omitted from it. Allah will never excuse your act of arresting people on mere suspicion. You accused wrongly the saintly people with baseless allegations and slaughtered them. You made them abandon their houses to be homeless in strange lands. You forcibly extracted allegiance from the people for your drunkard and dog-loving son.

  I see that you are sinking in loss and destroying your faith. You are oppressing your subjects and are degrading the divine trusts. You accept the advice of foolish and ignorant people and for their sake, you are threatening the pious and religious people. Was Salaam”

(Rejaal-e-Kashi, pg.32; Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 44, pg.212; Ayaanush Shia by Sayed Mohsin Ameen Aameli, vol. l, pg.582)

  The authentic, straight-forward and historic letter of Imam Husain (a.s.) has touched upon some facts which can be summarized as  ollows:

Why did Muawiya heed the reports of sycophants and back-biters? Why did he kill Hujr Ibne Adi and his companions? Why did he murder Amr Ibne Humq who was a true follower of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

  1. Why did he assassinate treacherously those whom he hadpromised safety and given an oath of security? Why did he disobey the clear order of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and related Ziyad to Abu Sufyan?
  2. Why did he put a rogue like Ziyad Ibne Abih in the care of the life and property of Muslims? Why did he massacre the people of Bani Hazrami due to their love for Ahle Bait (a.s.)?
  3. Why did he extract allegiance for Yazid who was a drunkard, a debauch and played with dogs?  

In conclusion we can say that Imam Husain (a.s.) opposed the rule of Muawiya due to these very crimes and evils. He considered this opposition to be the greatest form of worship. He did not consider it lawful to be a silent spectator. Hence, Imam (a.s.) had reminded Muawiya of divine retribution and imminent accounting of deeds.

September 2, 2020