The irreparable loss of Khateeb-e-Akbar

The demise of Professor Mirza Mohammad Athar has left the community saddened. At the age of 79, he was inching towards his valedictory breath in Max Hospital Saket, New Delhi. The 26th of February will be remembered for the irreparable loss to knowledge and man-kind. Thousands of people, students, scholars, including the chief minister of the state Akhilesh Yadav, attended his funeral in his hometown, Lucknow.


An alum of Sultan-ul-Madaris, where he graduated and later mastered persian literature. A teacher and exemplary orator, holding a record for his annual sermons at the Moghul Masjid for the last 58 years in the Limca Book of Records.

Those who lived through the era of his sermons at Moghul Masjid now know that it will never be the same. The fierce defender of righteousness and wilayat of Imam Ali will be cherished for his several teachings on human rights, terrorism, Islamic jurisprudence, critical analysis of ideas and authenticity of historical references.

Fondly known as Athar sahab,  He also stood strong for justice and as the President of the Law Board (AISPLB), He came up with a set of deterrents to counter the marked apathy towards gender issues, particularly rising cases of violence against women and frivolous divorces.

He also worked on applying restriction to those who opt for infanticide and selective termination of pregnancy to rule out giving birth to a girl child. He strongly believed that No one has a right to play God and eliminate a life in the making due to gender bias, and condemned such acts.

Renowned across the globe for his uniqueness in oratory, eloquence of speech and content, He kept himself away from politics during sermons. When he was questioned about the use of metaphors in his sermons, he replied “Ek zamane mein jo Lucknow ki zabaan thi, abhi kareeb kareeb khatam ho gayi hain” and so has humanity, if he understand his last sermon.

His last sermon was on Humanity, where he exhorted Sunnis and Shias, sects that have been at odds, to stop fighting amongst themselves and respect their differences that stem from the disagreement over who took on the mantle of Islam after the Prophet. He further emphasised over and again about fighting intolerance and popularly said “Where kingdoms don’t exist politics does”

Following Saudi Arabia’s controversial execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr and his three associates, along with 44 others, Athar sahab spearheaded peaceful demonstrations and protest against the Consul General of Saudi Arabia in Mumbai to showcase the apathy and atrocities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hqdefault.jpg

In the end and through his several teachings, we come to the realisation that the tragedy of living is not dying, but what we let kill inside us, while we live. Athar sahab finally gets to meet Imam Ali, who he defended for over 5 decades.

May his soul be given the highest regards in heaven. Will miss his presence! 😦

Yazeed Ibn Moaviyah – A Branch of the Cursed Tree

“… And We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in Quran as well?”

(Surah Bani Israel: 60)

Tabari, explaining the revelation of this verse, has written about a dream that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) dreamt that the children of Hakam bin Abi Aas (from the family of Umayya) were jumping up and down upon his pulpit like monkeys. This dream upset the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) so much that he never laughed again.

(Tafsir-e-Tabari, Vol. 15, Pg. 177, Ad-Durrul-Mansur, Vol. 4, Pg. 191)

Ayesha told Marwan bin Hakam that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) told her:

“The ‘Cursed Tree’ in the Quran implies you (i.e. Marwan bin Hakam and his family).”

(Ad-Durrul-Mansur, Vol. 4, Pg. 191)

Marwan bin Hakam is the originator of ‘Bani Marwan’ (the progeny of Marwan). His acronym (Kunniyat) was Abu Abdil Malik. His genealogy is Marwan bin Hakam bin Abil Aas bin Umayya.

Thus, the bottom line is that history has proved that ‘the cursed tree’ is none other than the family of Umayya – Banu Umayya. Yazeed, the accursed son of Moaviyah is from this very family.

The Genealogy of Yazeed

His father’s name was Moaviyah and that of his grandfather – Abu Sufyan. His grandmother was Hinda – the one who ate the liver of Hazrat Hamzah (a.s.), the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) uncle after the battle of Uhud. She was notorious throughout Makkah as being a woman of loose character. She had a string of lovers and paramours. Abu Sufyan’s cousin Musafir bin Amr who was famous among the Quraish for his good looks, generosity and skill as a poet, became Hinda’s lover. Even after getting married to Abu Sufyan, Hinda did not severe her amorous and illicit relationship with Musafir. And so Musafir is one of the four people that are considered to have possibly sired Moaviyah.

(Sharho Nahjil Balagha by Ibne Abil Hadid, Vol. 1, Pg. 30)

Yazeed’s mother’s name was Maisoon binte Bakhdal Kalbi. She was extremely beautiful due to which Moaviyah became inclined towards her. However when she conceived Yazeed, Moaviyah abandoned her. Hence, Yazeed was born in her house where she and many other women of immoral character breast fed him.

Yazeed’s genealogy and the dirty deeds of his parents and grandparents have been chronicled in details. Abu Sufyan, Hinda the liver eater, Marwan and their cronies were foremost in the enmity towards Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Ahle Bait (a.s.). Regarding this topic one can find numerous books of history in Arabic and Persian.

Readers of Urdu may refer to “Moaviyah aur Yazeed Taarikh ke Aaeene Mein” by the late Hujjatul Islam Aqae Sheikh Mohammad Ismail Rajabi (r.a).

The Despicable Attributes of Yazeed

Every society and all the religions of the world declare alcoholism, gambling, genocide, incest, fornication and the like to be the worst of acts. Humanity deems that any person who indulges in these acts should be condemned. Islam too has denounced these activities, declared them to be unlawful (Haraam) and threatened with severe punishment, both in this world as well as the hereafter, for those who commit them. Moreover, a friendly relationship with such people too is prohibited in Islam. A far cry indeed from declaring such persons to be Caliphs and leaders. The Holy Quran says:

“And obey not from among them any sinner or ungrateful one.”

(Surah Insan:24)

(According to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi, sinner or ungrateful implies “a wrongdoer or an unbeliever”).

The word of Quran is clear. They have no one to blame but themselves for having chosen such persons as their leaders. Now let us throw some light on the attributes of Yazeed.

Yazeed relieved Walid of his position as Governor of Medina and appointed Usman bin Mohammad bin Abu Sufyan in his place. Usman despatched a delegation of notables of Medina which included Abdullah bin Amr-e-Makhzoomi, Abdullah bin Hanzala Ansari, Fandar bin Zubair and others to Yazeed who gave them a great reception and on their departure, showered them with lavish gifts. However, when the same delegation returned to Medina, its members spoke out against Yazeed and his deeds, saying:

“We have visited a person who has no faith whatsoever. One who drinks wine, plays the tambourine and has prostitutes thronging his court. He plays with dogs and sleeps with children and slave-girls. O people, bear witness that we hereby dismiss Yazeed from the post of Caliphate.”

On hearing this, many began to refuse to acknowledge Yazeed as a Khalifa.

(Tarikh-e-Tabari, Vol. 4, Pg. 3, The events of 62 A.H.)

Here we have Tabari bringing to light the gist of Yazeed’s abominable qualities by narrating one incident. However other writers like Masoodi in Muroojuz Zahab, Sibt ibn Jawzi in Tazkeratul Khawas, Tabari in Taarikhul Umam, Ibn Athir in his al-Kamil, Yaqoobi in-his “Tarikh” and many others have also recorded the numerous unabashed sins and iniquities of Yazeed. Here, we restrict ourselves to mentioning a few important ones.

After the tragedy of Kerbala, Yazeed invited Ibn Ziad to his court, bestowed gifts upon him and gave him a free rein in his harem. One night, while lying intoxicated with his head in Ibn Ziad’s (l.a.) lap, he ordered that songs be sung and then addressed the wine bearer thus:

“O wine bearer! give me wine enough to fill my heart with joy. Then let Ibn Ziad drink similarly, for he is the one who is aware of my secrets and possessions. The one whose hands strengthen my Caliphate, the one who fills my coffers with war-booty, the one who killed the Kharijite (Imam Husain (a.s.), God forbid), and has vanquished my enemies and those envious of me.”

(Tazkiratul Khawas by Sibt ibn Jauzi, Pg. 290)

Proclamation of enmity with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the denial of the Day of Judgment

Yazeed while addressing Aalia, a concubine of his harem sung the following verses:

“O Aalia! Come near me, give me wine and sing me a song,

Because I dislike praying to Allah, 0 Aalia! Speak to me of Aby Sufyan who was a great man,

As he moved with great swiftness towards Uhud (to battle the Muslims),

He showed great valor against Muhammad (i.e. he killed many Muslims),

And caused the wailing and grieving Muslim women to gather in a large group,

O Umme Ahim (Aalia’s acronym), after I die, marry again,

And hope not to meet me on the Day of Reckoning,

For all that has been said about that day is meaningless and untrue;

Spoken merely to pacify the heart.”

(Tazkheratul Khawas by Sibt ibn Jauzi, Pg. 291)

On the basis of the above mentioned verses, Sibt ibn Jauzi deemed Yazeed to be a disbeliever. The following poem also proves that he never submitted to Islam nor to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

“Neither has any divine information descended nor any revelation made (to the Holy Prophet [s.a.]).”

(Naasekh ul Tawaarikh, Ch. 3, Pg.136; Tarikh-e- Tabari, Vol. 11, Pg. 358)

The Horror at Harrah

Harrah was a suburb of Medina which was plundered by the army of Yazeed in 63 A.H. In this year, the people of Medina had risen in support of Abdullah ibne Hanzala and other nobles of the city who were working against Yazeed’s rule. They had drawn out their swords and were even successful in overpowering the Governor of Medina. This infuriated Yazeed no end. Therefore, he sent a cruel and murderous army under the leadership of Muslim ibn Aqabah to quell the rebellion. In the city of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), this army committed such barbaric and shameless acts which cannot be compared even to the most savage or uncivilized of societies.

Tabari, writes in his “Tarikh”, “Whatever was there in Medina was made permissible for three days by Muslim Ibn Aqabah for his soldiers. People were killed mercilessly. Wailing and grief overcame the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) present in Medina. The most outrageous action which the Syrian army of Yazeed ibn Moaviyah perpetrated was of violating the chastity of women and girls. As a result, many unlawful children were born.”

(Tarikh-e-Tabari, circa 63 A.H.)

“After the incident of Harrah, the women of Medina delivered one thousand illicit children. According to another narration, ten thousand such children were born.”

(Tarikh of Sibt ibn Jauzi, Pg. 289).

History witnesses that in entire Medina, only few houses were safe from this plunder. These were the houses of Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) and others from Bani Hashim. Under special instructions from Yazeed, his army did not attack their houses.

Similarly, history also records yet another oppressive and heart rending crime of the accursed Yazeed in the year 64 A.H. Abdullah ibn Zubair having refused to pay allegiance to Yazeed, had taken protection in the Holy Makkah. When Yazeed sent Muslim ibn Aqabah to Medina, he instructed him to go to Makkah to arrest Abdullah ibn Zubair. However, on the way to Makkah, Muslim left for his hellish abode. Husain ibn Numair took over as the commander of the army. When he besieged Makkah, Abdullah ibn Zubair was in Masjid ul Haram. He entered the Holy Kaaba and sought shelter there. On which, Husain ibn Numair shot huge fire balls at the sacrosanct structure, severely damaging its walls.

(Murooj-uz-Zahab of Masoodi,Vol 2, Pg 70)

The Pronouncement of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal

Moaviyah declared Yazeed to be his successor in 56 AH. He started publicizing that from his property, Yazeed will get the Caliphate. In 60 AH. after the death of Moaviyah, Yazeed ascended the Caliphate, and in 61 AH. the tragedy of Karbala occurred.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the Imam of one of the four sub sects of Ahle Sunnah, admonished his son in the following words: “O My son, only his belief in Allah shall remain safe who curses Yazeed.” The tragic event of Karbala has passed but has left its mark on the history. By illuminating the humanity it has made every member of the cursed tree easily identifiable till the day of judgement. No sooner does any author lift his pen to justify Yazeed and his ideology, he is confronted with curses and severe blows at the hands of historical facts.