Sermon of Imam Sajjad at Yazid’s Court

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Sermon of Imam Sajjad at Yazid’s Court was the speech delivered by Ali ibn al-Hussain which turned the gathering of Yazid in favour of Ahl al-Bayt. After the battle of Karbala, the captured family of Imam Hussain were taken to Zaid’s court. By the order of Yazid, a large audience was gathered at the palace to witness the humiliation of captives. At this gathering, a public speaker who usually recited the Friday khutba delivered a lecture that put blame on Ali and Hussain ibn Ali. In response, Imam Sajjad delivered a speech in which he first introduced himself and then recounted the events leading to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. After this sermon, those who figured out the truth began to cry and gathered around Imam Sajjad.

Context[edit | edit source]

After the battle of Karbala, the captured family of Imam Hussain were brought face to face with Yazid who was (from the pride of his selfishness) repeating these verses of al-Hasin Ibn al-Hamam:

“We were splitting heads of men held by us as dear.

But they to unkindness and injustice were more near.”

Ali Ibn al-Hussain responded by saying:

ما اصابکم من مصیبة فی الارض و فی انفسکم الا فی کتاب من قبل ان نبراها ان ذلک علی الله یسیر. لکیلا تاسوا علی ما فاتکم و لا تفرحوا بما آتاکم و الله لایحب کل مختال فخور

“Whatever misfortune befalls the earth or your own selves is already in a Book even before we cause it to happen; this is easy for Allah, so that you may not grieve about what you missed nor feel elated on account of what you receive.”

At that time Yazid become very angry and then the Imam quoted this verse:

و ما اصابکم من مصیبة فبما کسبت ایدیکم و یعفوا عن کثیر

“Whatever misfortune befalls you is due to what your hands commit.”

Yazid ordered the person who usually recited the Friday khutba to ascend the pulpit and insult Ali and al-Hussain, which he did. al-Sajjad then shouted at him saying, “You have traded the pleasure of the creature for the Wrath of the Creator, so take your place in the fire [of hell].”

Then he asked Yazid, “Do you permit me to ascend this pulpit to deliver a speech that will please Allah Almighty and bring good rewards for these folks?” Those present were very surprised by the courage of sick young captive who dared to speak boldly to the caliph and when Yazid refused, people kept pleading with him to yield. Pressured by public sentiment and, since he did not want to anger the people, Yazid agreed.

The Sermon[edit | edit source]

Imam Sajjad went on the pulpit (mimbar). This is part of his speech:

“O people! We were granted six things and have been favoured with seven: We were granted knowledge, clemency, leniency, fluency, courage, and love for us in the hearts of the believers.

And we were favoured by the fact that from among us came the Prophet Muhammad, the Siddiq, the Tayyar, The Lion of Allah and of His Prophet, the lady of both universes Fatima al-batool and both Masters of the Youths of Paradise from among this nation.

O people! Whoever recognizes me knows me and whoever does not recognize me, let me tell him who I am, and to what family I belong: O people! I am the son of Makka and Mina; I am the son of Zamzam and al-Safa; I am the son of the one who carried the rukn on his mantle; I am the son of the best man who ever donned clothes and who ever made tawaf and sa’i, of whoever offered the Hajj and pronounced the talbiya.

I am the son of the one who was transported on the buraq and who was taken by Gabriel to sidrat al-muntaha, so he was near his Lord like the throw of a bow or closer still. I am the son of the one who led the angels of the heavens in prayers. I am the son to whom the Mighty One revealed what He revealed. I am the son of the one who defended the Messenger of Allah at Badr and Hunayn and never disbelieved in Allah not even for as much as the twinkling of an eye.

I am the son of the best of believers and of the heir of the prophets, of the leader of the Muslims and the light of those who offer jihad and the killer of the renegades and those who deviated from the straight path and who scattered the azab and the most courageous one, the one with the firmest determination: such is the father of the grandsons of the Prophet, al-Hasan and al-Hussain, such is Ali Ibn Abu Talib. I am the son of Fatima al-Zahra’, the Head of all Women, the son of Khadija al-Kubra. I am the son of the one with whose blood the sand mixed. I am the son of the one who was slaughtered at Karbala. I am the son of the one for whom the jinns wept in the dark and for whom the birds in the air cried.”

The Imam continued telling people about himself and his family and as their cries filled the place Yazid feared dissension and calamities arising, which he felt may all end badly. This was due to the fact that the Imam changed the peoples’ way of thinking by introducing himself and revealing information on the happenings in Karbala.

To avoid this problem Yazid signalled to the mu'aththin to call the athan for prayers and halt the Imam's speech. The former shouted: Allah Akbar! The Imam said: “Allah is Greater, more Magnanimous and more Kind than what I fear and of what I avoid.” The prayer caller now shouted: “I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah”! He said, “Yes, I testify with my skin, hair, meat, blood, brain and bones that there is no god besides Him, nor any other Lord.” The caller shouted: I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger!

The Imam turned to Yazid and asked him, “Is this Muhammad, the great Messenger of Allah, your grandfather or mine? If you say that he is yours, you are a liar and if you say that he is mine, then why did you kill his family?”

Yazid couldn't answer this question, because everyone now knew that the great Messenger of God was Imam Sajjad's grandfather, while Yazid's grandfather was Islam’s first enemy, Abu Sufyan. The people of Sham drowned in a river of sins and they were tricked by the Umayyad government. It was clear that Yazid, because of his personal hatred and political immaturity couldn't understand the depth of Imam Hussain's uprising and did not take its threat (to his government) seriously. Maybe the best proof of Yazid's false imaginings was the letter that he sent in the beginning of his caliphate to the Madinan governor telling him to take the oath of alliance from Imam Hussain and, if he refused, to kill him and send his head to him in Sham.

Yazid's false calculations brought about the caravan of the captives from Karbala to Sham via Kufa and his cruel behaviour towards them was illustrative of his criminal tendencies. Yazid’s awareness of the danger his crime had caused began to surface when1 reactions to wrongdoing arose and public sentiment about the murder of the Messenger of Allah's grandson put him under pressure and questioning. At that time, he tried to blame his terrible misdeeds on Ibn Ziad and told Imam Sajjad:

“God damn Ibn Marjaneh, I swear to God if it had been me who met your father I would have given him anything he wanted and I would have tried my best to prevent his death, but what you saw was God's will; send me a letter from Madinah and ask for anything you desire.”

One day, al-Sajjad went out for a walk. al-Minhal Ibn ‘Umar met him and asked him, “How have you received the evening, Oh son of the Messenger of Allah?” “We have received the evening,” the Imam answered, “like the Israelites among the people of Pharaoh: they kill their sons and take their women captive. The Arabs brag before the non- Arabs saying that Muhammad was one of them, while the Quraish boasts before the rest of the Arabs, that Muhammad belongs to them. We, his Ahl al-Bayt, are now homeless; so, to Allah do we belong, and to Him shall we all return.”

Finally, Yazid became so afraid of rumours and trouble that he ordered No'aman Ibn Bashir to take the ladies of the Ahl al-Bayt and the remainder of the Prophet's family back to their homes in Madinah and his fear was so great that he ordered him to take them back during the night.  

The Impact[edit | edit source]

After delivering the sermon, many in the audience figured out the truth of what happened at Karbala and began to cry. They gathered around Ali ibn Hussain to apologize.

Source[edit | edit source]