Ahl al-Sunna on Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya
by Sh. G. F. Haddad - Safar 1424

Ibn al-Jawzī in al-Radd ʿalā al-Mutaʿas.s.ib al-ʿAnīd al-Māniʿ min Dhammi Yazīd ("Refutation of the Obdurate Sectarian Who Forbids the Blame of Yazīd") asserts that the Ulema deemed it permissible to curse Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya - together with al-H.ajjāj - as did the H.anafīs H.āfiz. al-Dīn al-Kurdī (who said it was preferable not to - as cited by al-Munāwī in Fayd. al- Qadīr §281) and Imām Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftazānī in Sharh al-ʿAqā'id al-Nasafiyya (p. 117=p. 102).

Imām Ibn H.ajar al-Haytamī in al-S.awāʿiq al-Muh.riqa cited Ibn al-Jawzī's attribution of this position to Imām Ah.mad via Abū Yaʿlā in his Muʿtamad fīl-Us.ūl, the latter narrating it from S.ālih. ibn Ah.mad, from the Imām. However, Abū Muh.ammad al-Tamīmī in his ʿAqīdat al-Imām Ah.mad relates a contrary position from Imām Ah.mad, as narrated by Abū Yaʿlā's son in T.abaqāt al- H.anābila and Ibn Muflih. in al-Maqs.ad al-Arshad:

He [Imām Ahmad] withheld saying anything about Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya but rather committed his matter to Allāh. He would refrain from speaking against anyone from the first century. But our [H.anbalī] colleagues differ concerning him [Yazīd]. Some declared it permissible to blame him because he terrified al-Madīna and the Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - cursed whoever terrifies al-Madīna. Others withheld from taking any position. Imām Ah.mad was asked about it and he said: 'People prayed behind him and took his alms.' Others considered him among the Muslims that sinned and it is better to refrain from taking any position in what is not obligatory. It was impermissible to curse any Muslim unless the Law provided a proof-text to that effect. For it is narrated and transmitted that to curse a Muslim is like killing him and that the Believer is not one given to cursing. 1

From the above it can be seen that the claim that "Imām Ah.mad ibn H.anbal permits that curses be pronounced against Yazīd" made by Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn Rasūl al- Barzanjī in al-Ishāʿa fī Ashrāt. al-Sāʿa (Shukrī ed. p. 77 and p. 144) is not correct even though Ah.mad did forbid narrating from him cf. T.abaqāt al-H.anābila (1:347) from Muhannā ibn Yah.yā al-Shāmī.

Nor is the claim of Mullā ʿAlī al-Qārī correct in Sharh. al-Shifā' (2:556) that "Imām Ah.mad ibn H.anbal's view is that Yazīd committed kufr" although he correctly goes on to state that "the majority of Ahl al-Sunna do not condone cursing Yazīd as his kufr has not been definitely established."

Imām al-Ghazzālī, also, forbade the cursing of Yazīd cf. Ih.yā' ʿUlūm al-Dīn (3:108) as did many early and late Ulema:

- Al-Damīrī, H.ayāt al-H.ayawān, section on the Caliphs (2:186)
- Al-Haytamī's Fatāwā H.adīthiyya (p. 270);
- Al-Zabīdī, Ith.āf al-Sādat al-Muttaqīn (7:488);
- Ibn ʿAbidīn, H.āshiya (2:587);
- ʿAbd al-H.ay al-Lacknawī, Fatāwā (1:36);
- Gangohī, Fatāwā Rashīdiyya (1:3/26); etc.

The rightly-guided Caliph ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz - Allāh be well-pleased with him - reportedly would say "rah.imahullāh" after the name of Yazīd but when he heard a man call him "Amīr al-Mu'minīn" he had him lashed twenty times as narrated by Ibn H.ajar in Lisān al-Mīzān (6:294).

The refusal of Imām al-H.usayn ibn ʿAlī - Allāh be well- pleased with both of them - to declare allegiance to Yazīd is that of the generality of the Companions in Madīna and Makka including ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAs. and the totality of the veterans of Badr. It was predicted by Abū Hurayra Allāh be well-pleased with him - in many narrations pertaining to the Banū Umayya and to Yazīd specifically. Abū Hurayra decried the governor of Madīna Marwān ibn al-H.akam, warned of a terrible disaster about to befall the Arabs, and prayed for death before the year 60, the year Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya came to power, under whose rule three scandals took place:
al-H.usayn ibn ʿAlī was killed; Madīna was ransacked for three days (al-Harra) during which the Companions were massacred, after which no survivor of the battle of Badr was left on earth and a thousand unmarried women gave birth to fatherless children; finally, the Kaʿba was destroyed and burnt, at which time Yazīd died.

- Abū Hurayra said: "Woe to the Arabs for a disaster that is fast approaching! The rule of young boys: if you obey them they shall enter you into the Fire, and if you disobey them they shall strike your necks with the sword."2

- Another version also from him states: "Woe to the Arabs for a disaster that is fast approaching at the turn of the year 60! The public trust will become spoils of war, almsgiving will be considered a fine, people will only bear witness for their friends, and lusts will govern."3

- ʿUmayr ibn Hāni' al-ʿAnasī narrated that Abū Hurayra used to walk in the marketplaces and say: "Hold on to the two temples [sides of the head] of Muʿāwiya! O Allāh, do not let me reach the year 60!"4

- "Seek refuge in Allāh from the turn of the year 60 and from the rule of young boys" (imārat al-s.ibyān). And he said: "The world will not pass before it first belongs to a mean fool son of a mean fool (lukaʿ ibn lukaʿ)."5 Some versions have "and the rule of fools" (imārat al-sufahā').6

- The above reports show Abū Hurayra's familiarity with the report of Abū Saʿīd: "I heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - say: "There will be, after sixty years, { a later generation who have ruined worship and have followed lusts. But they will meet deception } (19:59). Then there will be a later generation who recite Qur'ān but it will not reach beyond their throats. Three types will be reciting the Qur'ān [at that time]: the Believer, the hypocrite, and the open rebel."7 Confirming the above is the famous saying of ʿAlī at S.iffīn: "People! Do not loathe Muʿāwiya's leadership. If you were to lose him, you would see heads parting with their necks like colocynths (kal-h.anz.al)!"8 Al-Bayhaqī said: "ʿAlī and Abū Hurayra spoke such things only because they heard them from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ Allah bless and greet him."9

- Ibn ʿAjlān narrated that Abū Hurayra used to say: "Verily, I am reporting narrations today which, if I had said a word of them in the time of ʿUmar, my head would have rolled."10

- "If I told you everything I knew, people would charge me with violating the law and they would say: Abū Hurayra is mad!" Another narration states: "You would have pelted me with dung."11

- ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAs. stood weeping before the Kaʿba which had been destroyed and burnt by the army of H.usayn ibn Numayr al-Sakūnī12 in the year 63 and said: "People! By Allāh, if Abū Hurayra had informed you that you would be fighting the grandson of your Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - and burn the House of your Lord, you would have said there is no worse liar than Abū Hurayra! And now you know, therefore, expect Divine revenge."13

- Abū Hurayra said: "I preserved from the Messenger of Allāh- Allah bless and greet him - two large vessels of knowledge. I disseminated the first one among the people. Were I to disseminate the second, my gullet would be cut."14 Another version states: "I preserved three vessels, of which I disseminated two." Ibn H.ajar said the gist of this is that Abū Hurayra disseminated more than what he kept secret. Thus the first vessel in the h.adīth of al-Bukhārī is larger than the second.

- Abū Hurayra also said, "I heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - say: 'The destruction of my Community will take place at the hands of boys (ghilma) from the Quraysh.' I can name them if you wish. They are the Banū Fulān and the Banū Fulān."15 Another sound version has "boylings" (ughaylima).

- Abū Hurayra also narrated that the Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - said: "Those who will destroy the people are this particular clan (hādhā al-h.ayyu) of the Quraysh." They said, "What do you order us to do, Messenger of Allāh?" He replied: "If only the people stayed away from them (law anna al-nāsa iʿtazalūhum)!"16 This is precisely what Abū Dharr did. Ibn ʿUmar similarly said: "I heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - say: 'This particular clan (h.ayy) of the Quraysh shall remain safe until they turn away from their Religion into apostates.' A man stood up saying: 'Messenger of Allāh! Will I be in Paradise or in Hellfire?' The Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - answered, 'In Paradise.' Another stood asking the same, whereupon the Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - answered, 'In Hellfire.' Then [he said], 'Say nothing to me as long as I say nothing to you. Were it not for fear that you would stop burying one another (lawlā an lā tadāfanū) I could certainly tell you about a great number of those who will be in the Fire and you would know who they are. If I am ordered to do it I shall certainly do it!'"17

- H.umayd ibn Mālik ibn Khuthaym was sitting with Abū Hurayra in his land of al-ʿAqīq when a group of the people of Madīna came to him. They dismounted and came to him. H.umayd said: "Abū Hurayra said [to me]: 'Go to my mother and say to her, Your son sends his salām and asks you to send us a little food.' I went and she gave me three loaves of bread and some olive oil and salt. I carried it to them. When I put it in front of them Abū Hurayra said: 'Allāhu akbar. Praise be to Allāh Who has sated us with bread after the time when our only food was the two black ones: water and dates!' The people did not leave anything except they ate it. When they went away, he said: 'Son of my brother, be kind to your sheep, wipe their mucus from them, improve their pastures, and pray in their vicinity, for they are from the animals of Paradise. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there will soon come a time upon people when the flock of sheep will be dearer to its owner than the sons of Marwān!'"18

As for those who mouth an accusation of baghī (rebellion) against al-H.usayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abī T. ālib: Such should be identified and denounced by every Muslim as Nās.ibīs, that sect which considers it par of its religion to attack the members of the Prophetic House. Al-Dhahabī said of Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya in Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā' (4:37-38):

He was strong, brave, deliberative, full of resolve, acumen, and eloquence. He composed good poetry. He was a stern, harsh, and coarse Nās.ibī. He drank and was a reprobate. He inaugurated his Dawla with the killing of the Shahīd al-H.usayn and closed it with the catastrophe of al-H.arra. Hence the people despised him, he was not blessed in his life, and many took up arms against him after al-H.usayn such as the people of Madīna - they rose for the sake of Allāh - and Mirdās ibn Udayya al-H.anz.alī al-Bas.rī, Nāfiʿ ibn al-Azraq, T.awwāf ibn Muʿallā al- Sadūsī [three Khārijīs], and Ibn al-Zubayr in Makka.

And Allah knows best.


1 Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, T.abaqāt (1:246, 2:273), al-Haytamī, al- S.awāʿiq (2:635), Ibn Muflih., al-Maqs.ad al-Arshad (2:283).

2 Narrated by Ibn Abī Shayba.

3 Narrated from Abū Hurayra by Maʿmar ibn Rāshid in his Jāmiʿ (Mus.annaf 11:373), al-H.ākim (1990 ed. 4:530), and Nuʿaym ibn H.ammād in al-Fitan (2:703 §1981). Al-T.abarānī narrates something similar in al-Awsat. (2:106) with a weak chain cf. al-Haythamī (4:199).

4 Narrated from ʿUmayr ibn Hāni' al-ʿAnasī by Ibn ʿAsākir in Mukhtas.ar Tārīkh Dimashq (29:206) and by Ibn Saʿd (4:340-341) as well as al-Bayhaqī in the Dalā'il, al- Dhahabī in the Siyar, Ibn H.ajar in al-Is.āba (7:443), and Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya (6:228-229). "Hold on to the two temples of his head" i.e. love him while you still can, as his epigones will not be so lovable.

5 Narrated from Abū S.ālih. the mu'adhdhin, from Abū Hurayra by Ah.mad and Ibn Abī Shayba (7:461 §37235) with the number 70 cf. al-Haythamī (7:220) but cited by al-Suyūt.ī in Ziyādat al-Jāmiʿ al-S.aghīr (§2040) and the Kanz (§30854) with the number 60. Also - second sentence only - from Abū Hurayra, Hāniʿ ibn Nyār, and H.udhayfa ibn al-Yamān by al-Tirmidhī (h.asan) and Ah.mad with sound chains cf. Fath. (1:129-131).

6 Cf. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Tamhīd (2:303) and al-Shawkānī, Nayl al-Awt.ār (9:167).

7 Narrated from Abū Saʿīd by Ah.mad, al-Bukhārī in Khalq Afʿāl al-ʿIbād (p. 117), al-T.abarānī in al-Awsat. (9:131), Ibn H.ibbān (3:32 §755), and al-H.ākim (1990 ed. 2:406 s.ah.īh. and 4:590 isnād s.ah.īh.), all "with a good strong chain meeting the Sunan criteria": Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya (6:228) cf. al-Haythamī (6:231).

8 Narrated from al-Shaʿbī from al-H.ārith al-Aʿwar by Ibn Abī Shayba (7:548 §37854).

9 Cited by Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya (6:228).

10 Narrated by Ibn ʿAsākir in Mukhtas.ar Tārīkh Dimashq (29:192) and cited by al-Dhahabī.

11 Narrated by Ibn Saʿd (4:57, 2:119).

12 Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya's general.

13 Narrated from ʿUbayd Allāh ibn Saʿīd by Ibn ʿAsākir in Tārīkh Dimashq (13:206) and cited by al-Dhahabī in the chapter on ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAmr in the Siyar (4:266).

14 Narrated by al-Bukhārī.

15 Narrated by al-Bukhārī and Ah.mad.

16 Narrated by al-Bukhārī, Muslim, and Ah.mad.

17 Narrated from Ibn ʿUmar by Abū Yaʿlā (10:66 §5702) and, as part of a longer narration, by Ibn Abī H.ātim in his ʿIlal (2:256 §2262).

18 Narrated by Mālik in his Muwat.t.a'.

Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and all his Companions.

Hajj Gibril
GF Haddad

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