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Imam al-Husayn's (a) Sermon in Mina

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This article is an introduction to the Imam al-Husayn's (a) Sermon in Mina; to read its text see text:Imam al-Husayn's (a) Sermon in Mina.

Imām al-Ḥusayn's (a) Sermon in Minā is a fiery and critical khutba (sermon) by Imam al-Husayn (a) in 58/678, two years before Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan's death, against the deviations of the Umayyad government from the right path. The significance of such a sermon in Mina during the hajj period was because of its disclosures against Mu'awiya's government. The sermon was delivered to Sahaba and Tabi'un and some scholars take it to be evidence that Imam al-Husayn (a) already had plan for his uprising. The first part of Imam al-Husayn's (a) sermon in Mina was cited by Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali in his book, and the second and the third parts were cited by Hasan b. Shu'ba al-Harrani in Tuhaf al-'uqul and al-'Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-anwar.

Content of the Sermon

Here are some headlines of Imam al-Husayn's (a) sermon in Mina:

  • Reminding religious scholars of their duty to rise against the cruel rulers.
  • The scholars' quietism with respect to the cruel rulers and the threats of ignoring the divine duty to rise against them.

Here are some issues about which Imam al-Husayn (a) talked in this sermon: verses of the Qur'an as well as hadiths regarding the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a), especially Imam Ali (a); the story of Sadd al-Abwab (Closing the Doors); the Battle of Ghadir Khumm; Mubahala; the Conquest of Khaybar by Imam Ali (a); Hadith al-Thaqalayn; the obligation of scholars to resist cruel rulers; enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong; the reconciliation of the elders with cruel rulers and their failure to resist the violation of the pact of God and His Prophet (s); reproaching the attachment to this world; and deceptions of the rulers.

At the end of the sermon, Imam al-Husayn (a) says: "O God! You know that everything we did was not prompted by the competition for the power, nor for a search for the worthless wealth of this world; rather it was done to demonstrate to men the shining principles and values of Your religion, to reform the affairs of Your land, to protect and secure the indisputable rights of Your oppressed servants, and to act in accordance with the duties, traditions, and ordinances You have decreed."

Sources of the Sermon

Since the sermon consisted of three independent parts, many scholars of hadith and history have only cited part of it that they were concerned with. Some have only cited one sentence or just referred to the content of the sermon; for example:

  1. Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali (d. 76 or 90/ 695-6 or 709-10) only cites the first part of the sermon; he also mentions the date and the location of the sermon.
  2. Hasan b. Shu'ba al-Harrani—a scholar of hadith in the fourth/10th century—cites in his Tuhaf al-'uqul only the second and the third parts of the sermon. In his Bihar al-anwar, al-'Allama al-Majlisi cites what is cited in Tuhaf al-'uqul.
  3. Ahmad b. Ali al-Tabrisi (d. 588/1192-3) refers to the motivation of this sermon as being the injustice of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan and cites a short summary of its content. The sermon was delivered two years before Mu'awiya's death in Mina and the audience was over one thousand religious characters of the time.

Doubts About the Continuity of the Sermon

Some scholars believe that the sermon cited in Tuhaf al-'uqul is a different sermon that was delivered by Imam al-Husayn (a) in another year. The evidence for this view is taken to be the content of the two sermons and their different audiences.

Historical Background of the Sermon

Imam al-Husayn (a) delivered the sermon in 58/678, two years before Mu'awiya's death, in Mina. Mu'awiya had escalated his pressures on Shi'as and oppressed his political opponents. In order to uncover Imam al-Husayn's (a) motivation for delivering the sermon and the circumstances under which it was delivered, Sulaym b. Qays refers to the consequences of four official letters of Mu'awiya to his agents and staff.

According to Sulaym b. Qays, in the first letter, Mu'awiya announced that he would not support people who cite the virtues of Imam Ali (a) and his household. He also ordered that testimonies of Shi'as should not be accepted and to give allowances to anyone who cites the virtues of 'Uthman. In the second letter, Mu'awiya ordered people to cite hadiths concerning the virtues of the Sahaba and the first two caliphs, Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa and 'Umar b. al-Khattab, similar to the virtues of Imam Ali (a). He said that this would delight him and humiliate Imam Ali (a).

In the third letter, Mu'awiya told people to find whoever showed a little advocacy of Imam Ali (a) and his household, remove them from the book of salaries and allowances, and cut their shares from the treasury (bayt al-mal). And in the fourth letter, he told people to put advocates of Imam Ali (a) under a lot of pressure and destroy their houses.

Significance

According to Muhammad Sadiq Najmi, what is important about the sermon, besides its content, is its time, location, and audience: prominent Muslim figures, elite men and women from Banu Hashim, about 200 people from Ansar and Muhajirun who were the companions of the Prophet (s), and about 800 people from Sahaba's children (and people who had met the Sahaba), that is, Tabi'un.

The sermon was an enclosure of Mu'awiya's deviations and a preliminary for the Battle of Karbala. With this sermon addressed to such a large audience, Imam al-Husayn (a) propagated his message to different Islamic lands.

See also

References