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Question: One prominent speaker recently in a speech while referring to Yazid, son of Ameer Mu'awiyah, used the formula of radiya Allaahu anhu (Allah be pleased with him); it has created a huge hue and cry; many people consider Yazid as kaafir (infidel), some others consider him as a munafiq (hypocrite) who does not deserve appreciation from a real Muslim. What is your opinion about the status of Yazid in the estimate of Muslim Ummah?
Answer:

I cannot comment on the speaker or his precise intentions; let us give him the benefit of doubt: it could have been a slip of tongue or a mistake he may have made. If it is deliberate, he needs to be corrected. Having said this, I must point out emphatically that saying the formula of tardiyah (i.e. radiya Allahu anhu), according to the sound practice of Muslims, is exclusively reserved to the companions, pious elders or great imams, to whom Muslims look up to as great role models and exemplars. To use this formula, therefore, while referring to Yazid b. Mu’awiyah, with his horrible record, is at once unacceptable, and regrettable. Let me explain:

Muslims have been divided into three groups in their attitude towards Yazid b. Mu’awiyah. One group considers him an impious ruler who is guilty of numerous abominations and even infidelity, and therefore deserves to be cursed; another group considers him as one of those monarchs, mind you there is no shortage of them in Islamic history, who in spite of being guilty of major offences, was still a Muslim; and therefore he cannot be cursed; they also allow for invoking Allah’s forgiveness on his behalf as they do on behalf of any ordinary Muslims; as he has also, according to them, some good points to his credit. A third group, however, neither curses Yazid nor express satisfaction with him; they clearly distance themselves from him and his actions.Imam Ahmad best sums up the attitude of the mainstream Muslims towards Yazid: His son remarks, I asked my father: “Are we supposed to love Yazid?” He said, “My son, can anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day allow himself to love Yazid?” Then I asked, “Why don’t you curse him?” He said, “Have you seen your dad cursing anyone?”Imam Ahmad is also reported to have pointed out to the abominations and grave offences attributed to Yazid; among them were the brutal massacre of Prophet’s grandson Husayn, may Allah be pleased with him, and most of his family; invasion of Makkah and Madinah, thus violating the sanctities of the most sacred sanctuaries. What he did with the grand son of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is simply most abominable: It has been reported that he was deprived of water, killed most brutally, his body was mutilated and desecrated and his head was cut off and then paraded for days; he also killed a great number of his family including children; they were mostly the family of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

It is true some historians seek to defend Yazid by saying that he never ordered the massacre of Husyan and his family, nor was he pleased with it. This cannot be used to absolve him of his complicity as there is no evidence that he ever dismissed or penalized those responsible for such brutalities, nor did he openly declare his innocence of them. Any how, such actions can never be justified. How can anyone reconcile his love for the Prophet, and his family, which every Muslim ought to cherish, while acquiescing in the atrocities of Yazid.

In conclusion: Yazid was a tyrannical ruler who was guilty of major abominations, and, therefore, no Muslim can ever consider him except with revulsion and and displeasure. Let me conclude by citing the memorable words of Imam Shafi’i, “If love of Prophet’s family is considered as being akin to being a rafidite (i.e. shi’ah), then let the whole world now that I am a rafidite!”

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