Do Quranic verses on slavery apply today?


Since the Quran is timeless, how do we reconcile the verses on slavery for the modern day? Do we take every verse literally, or are there certain verses we should take with a lesser measure of zeal?

In other words, are these verses specific to the time of 600CE wartime-Hijaz only? Or are they also applicable in modern times during peace and/or hypothetical war scenarios?


Islam essentially does not agree with the practice of slavery; this is very clear from the directives given in the Quran regarding freeing slaves and even paying them from the zakat money if they strive to buy back their freedom. However, it was not possible to abolish the institution because of its social and international ramifications.

From the social point of view, it was not feasible to imprison the war captives because the society could not financially afford such a luxury. Hence, the PoWs should have either been killed or absorbed into the society as second-class citizens. This concept of slavery was totally alien from the practice of slavery we witnessed in the colonial era where the people were rounded up and captured in their hometown thousands of miles away without waging any war or committing any offence.

Internationally, it was not possible to abolish slavery unilaterally, since it was a matter of retaliation and part of arrangements for prisoners of war. However, as I mentioned, Islam sets certain rules for freedom of slaves after they were absorbed in the society. And since they were part of social tapestry, it was natural that the Quran would talk about their rights and duties.

Since the directives of the Quran point to the freedom of all slaves, and now that slavery is abolished internationally, there is no need to reinstate it. It is actually against the spirit of the Quranic code.The Quran has been revealed to educate people and efface the evil practices from the human race. One cannot say that after these evils are removed then the Quran loses its eternal nature. The Quran speaks immensely against idolatry; does that mean that if everyone believes in the Quran and idolatry is vanished, then the Quran loses its universality?

Answered by: Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour

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What is the Shia view of the companions of the Prophet, especially the first 3 Caliphs?


What is the Shia view on the Sahaba (companions) of the Prophet (s), and specifically, the first three “Khulafa rashideen” (‘Rightly guided Caliphs’, and also the others which are considered extremely pious men by Sunnis?


The people who narrated the actions and words of the Prophet (pbuh) to us were his companions (ashab). Some of these were people who had met the Prophet only a few times or who did not have much interaction with the Prophet and they are called companions in a general sense. Others lived with the Prophet (pbuh) on an everyday basis and they were his companions in a specific sense.

When it comes to the companions, Sunnis and Shia have different beliefs.

The Sunnis believe that all companions were pious and that their word should be trusted and they should be followed. They have a false narration that says: ‘my companions are like stars, whichever of them you follow, you will be guided’. They also rely on the following Ayah:

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُواْ عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

“And (as for) the foremost, from among the Muhajirs and the Ansars, and those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them for ever; that is the mighty achievement.” (9:100)

They argue that if the Qur’an praises the companions, how can we blame or criticise any of them?

We answer by saying that we criticise some of the companions and praise others. This is because this is also what the Qur’an does. The Qur’an says ‘from among the Muhajirs and the Ansars’ not all of them. This is why it uses the word ‘min’. It is praising those of them that were pious and who did good deeds. However, those who did not do good deeds and who were not pious are criticised by the Qur’an like anyone else would be. It does not make sense that they should not be criticised for doing the wrong thing just because they lived with the Prophet- this is a form of prejudice and has no logical basis.

We too praise the companions, as Imam Sajjad does in his Sahifatul Kamila, but only those of them who do good deeds and are faithful.

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Why did the Prophet of Islam marry several wives?


I have read that Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, had a total of 12 wives, out of which 9 were alive at the time of his death. What was the reason for this?

What I understand is that a man is allowed to marry once in Islam, yet depending on the highly unlikely criteria laid down in the Quran (relating to justice between wives), he may marry up to four women (if he can keep justice between them).

But why was the Prophet allowed to marry more than the maximum of 4 even?


In the old days, there was generally no government social benefits and services, and thus, women and children were financially looked after by men who were then the main bread-providers. This would become more essential when we consider the number of wars that were imposed on early Muslims, the result of which would be obviously many orphans and widows without any supporters.

In order to meet the needs of this vulnerable part of society, Islam permits and often encourages polygany.

Note Ayah 3 in Surat Nisa that allows polygyny is preceded by the rights of orphans. In other words, the Almighty God first reminds the believers of the rights of orphans as the most vulnerable part of society, and then deals with the second; i.e. widows. In short, the message of Ayahs 2 & 3 of Surat Nisa to the believing men is:

1. to encourage the community to bring orphans to their homes and look after them like their own children.

2. to bring orphans with their mothers to their homes by marrying widows so that they too can enjoy a life with a father/husband.

3. at least marrying one woman (whether widow or not) to take their bear minimum social responsibilities.

The meaning of justice here also is to be fair in providing food, clothing and other maintenance.

Now, let’s look at the life of the holy Prophet of Islam (s). Up until 10 months after his migration to Madina, he had only one wife i.e. Khadija. In fact, she dies in the year 9 of his mission while he was still in Makka, but he never married anyone until 4 yrs later in Madina, when he married Aesha.

Then from the 3rd yr A.H. and after the battle of Uhod, which imposed many casualties on Muslims, his holiness married ام سلمۀ (Umm Salamah), whose husband was martyred in Uhod.

Then he married ام حبیبه (Umm Habeebah) whose husband عبیدالله (Ubaydallah) had died in Ethiopia.

Then Zainab whose husband was also martyred in Uhod.

Then Sooda whose husband had died after their migration to Madina.

Then Hafsa the daughter of Omar, who had married twice before and didn’t have much chance for any more marriages.

Then Safiya, whose husband was killed in the battle of Khaibar.

And the list continues…

Most of these women had children too, and the holy Prophet of Islam as the head of the community was looking after all of them compassionately. If there was any lust behind his practice of polygyny, he would have naturally had some children from all of these women- given the lack of family control facilities in those days. Yet, the only one he had a child from- apart from Khadija – was  ماریه (Mariha), who was a female slave gifted to the Prophet (s) by the then king of Egypt. She gave birth to a son for the Prophet (s) called Ibrahim, who unfortunately died at the age of 2.

The world must really admire the lifestyle of the holy Prophet of Islam, who in spite of his heavy social duty as the head of state, had the most ideal family life too. A man who at one time had 9 families to look after and yet never divorced any of them. This by itself is one of his miraculous characteristics.

It was due to this outstanding nobility and ability that the Almighty God exceptionally allowed him to marry up to 9 women at one time.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Describe Yaizd and his family, and explain how he managed to get into power?


Can you please describe Yazid, the killer of Imam Husain, from the most reliable sources?

What type of family did he come from, and how did he manage to get into power and rule the new Islamic state after just several decades from the demise of the holy Prophet(s)?


Who is Hend, the grandmother of Yazid?

She was known as the wife of Abu-Sofyan. Unfortunately, some historians have quoted that she was known in the pre-Islamic era (the era of Jahiliah) as an unchaste woman, to the extent that her son Moawia was related to four fathers! Abu-Sofyan of course was the legitimate one and the other three were his friends (1).

The Grandfather of Yazid

Bani-umaya which was led by Abu-Sofyan was a leading Jahiliah tribe in the pre-Islamic era, and Abu-Sofyan was considered the Pharaoh of Mecca. With the appearance of Islam his kingdom began to shake, and hence he became the first enemy of Islam.

The first battle between Muslims and the infidels of Mecca was the battle of Badr, which was organised basically by Abu-Sofyan, in which the father of Hend (Otbah), her uncle (Shaybah), her son (Handhalah) who were all killed by Imam Ali and the uncle of Prophet, Hamza. Eight people were killed in that battle from the family of Bani-Umaya.

From that time, Bani-Umaya held a very strong animosity against Islam in general, and Imam Ali and Hamza in particular. Therefore, after the battle of Badr, Abu-Sofyan made an oath not to wash his head until he took revenge from Prophet Mohammad. As a result, the second major battle was organised, called the battle of Ohod.

Hend, the wife of Abu-Sofyan, who had also lost her father, son and uncle, had appointed a black slave just to kill Hamza (the uncle of the Prophet), and to cut open his chest, remove his liver, and hand it over to Hend in order for her to chew it so that she might satisfy her anger, and this she did. Historians have narrated that she mutilated the bodies of the martyred from that battle and made a necklace for herself from the cut noses and ears (2)!

A few years later, Abu-Sofyan initiated a campaign against Islam. He mobolised all allied groups and parties including the Jews who were against Islam, to fight Islam. The battle of Ahzab (meaning parties) was the result of that plot, though Muslims fortunately won the battle and all the allied groups were scattered.

Two years before the passing away of the Prophet, the city of Mecca was captured by the Muslim troops and the kingdom of Abu-Sofyan collapsed forever.

Both he and his wife were in Mecca and had not a single doubt that they would be amongst the first to be executed. However, the merciful Prophet of Islam, forgave them all and made an announcement “ Go, you are all free”. Thus, he had no other choice but to embrace Islam, although he never seriously believed. One day he saw the Prophet passing by, and he whispered to himself saying : ‘I wonder how he defeated me’. ‘By the power of Allah’ replied the Prophet after reading his mind.

In the year 10 after the Hejrat (migration), the Holy Prophet of Islam passed away, and the event of Saqifah took place. Abu-Bakr in a political game became the ruler and Imam Ali was ignored. Abu-Sofyan, who was now seemingly a Muslim, though never believed in Islam, came to Imam Ali to pledge allegiance to him. Imam Ali, knowing that he had the intention to split the Muslim community and take advantage of this opportunity for his devilish plans, refused and said to him: “I do not need your support”.

On his way back home, Omar Ibn Khattab, an intimate friend of Abu-Bakr, who was later appointed by him as Second Caliph, saw Abu-Sofyan coming from the house of Imam Ali. He immediately informed Abu-Bakr and asked him to pay an amount of charity to Abu Sofyan which would silence him. The proposal was accepted and Abu-Sofyan shook the hand of Abu-Bakr as Caliph.

Abu-Bakr, in return, as a reward, appointed his son Yazid, brother of Moawia, as the commander-in-chief of an army which was dispatched for a battle in the then border of Islam, Damascus. The army of Islam won the battle and Yazid was appointed as the governor of Syria.

Moawia, the Father of Yazid

A few years later, during the reign of the second Caliph, Omar Ibn Khattab, a disastrous plague came to Syria and many people died. Yazid, the governor was also affected and hence wrote a letter to the Federal Government asking Omar to appoint Moawia as his successor. Again the proposal was accepted and Moawia became the governor of Syria and the neighboring states. From that time, the pillars of the Bani-Ummaya dynasty started to become re-established.

Before continuing with the story I’d like to mention a Hadith from the Prophet for you: Tabari, the famous historian has quoted that the Prophet once saw Abu-Sofyan riding a camel and his two sons, Moawia and Yazid were walking, one in front and one behind the camel. The Prophet said: ‘May God curse the rider and the one in front and in the back.’ (3).

Years passed by and he was still the governor in Damascus until the third Caliph, Uthman came into power. Things were improving, for Uthman was from the same family tree of Bani-Umaya. Abu-Sofyan was still alive and his dreams were becoming reality, i.e. to rule Muslims and destroy Islam under the mask of Islam.

Therefore, during the reign of Uthman, Moawia had more freedom and designed many plots against Islam. It was during this time that his true nature became apparent and he started drinking alcohol. Obadat-ibn-Samet, who was one of the distinguished companions of the Prophet, was one day walking in Damascus. He was surprised to see a caravan of camels carrying a liquid which looked like wine. Given the fact that it was an Islamic state, and drinking of alcohol is forbidden in Islam, he asked the leader of the caravan if the liquid was olive oil?! The man answered: No, it is wine, and I am delivering the order of Amirul-Mo’menin Moawia! Upon hearing that, Obadat ripped off all the skins of wine.

The years passed in this manner and Moawia freely ruled for about 19 years until Uthman was killed by Muslims and they asked Imam Ali to accept the leadership. One of the first duties of Imam Ali was to write a letter to Moawia asking him to resign, otherwise he would be sacked, since he didn’t deserve the position. The answer of course was negative, and the battle of Seffin was organised by Moawia against Imam Ali.
Unfortunately, the leadership of Imam Ali did not last long, as after almost four years, the Imam was assassinated. Since then, Moawia became the one and only leader of the Islamic Ummah.

In order for him to seek revenge from Imam Ali and his followers, he put the followers of the Imam under the utmost oppression. The story of Bosr’s raid is one of his crimes. Hamdan was a tribe of Muslims who loved Imam Ali. Moawia appointed his cruel commander, Bosr Ibn Artat to attack the tribe. In a barbaric raid, all the men of Hamdan were killed, their houses were set on fire and their ladies, including their children, were taken as prisoners of war and sold in the market as slaves! (4). This is the first time in Islamic history that Muslims were taken as prisoners of war by so called Muslims (5).

Final goal of Moawia

Mas’oudi, a very reliable historian, has quoted in his book Morooju-dahab from Motaref son of Moghayra that: “Once I made a trip with my father to Damascus where Moawia was ruling. My father was visiting Moawia every night and when coming back home, he was praising Moawia and acknowledging his intelligence. Suddenly, one night he came back home in a bad mood. He didn’t even have his dinner. I asked him what was wrong? He replied: I’ve come back from the most devilish person, my dear son! Surprised, I asked him who he meant? He turned around and said:
– Moawia!
– Who? Moawia?! You were praising him every night!
– Yes, but I never knew his real intention. Tonight, when all the people around us went away, it was only he and I. I took advantage of the opportunity and told him to reduce his pressure on the followers of Imam Ali, since he had gotten everything he wanted.

However, he replied: “You are talking nonsense. Look at Abu-Bakr, the first Caliph. He died and with his death his name has almost died too. The same with Omar and Uthman. But the name of this man (meaning the Prophet) is still repeated 5 times a day! Nay, I will never stop the pressure until I bury his name!” (6).

Mobilizing the Muslims towards Yazid

In the last 7 years of his ruling, Moawia started paving the way for his son Yazid to be the next caliph. Let me tell you some of his plans:

Assassinating the suspected candidates:

His first plan was to assassinate and get rid of those who could be in the pipeline of leadership. One day, he delivered a lecture in Damascus and asked the crowd their opinion for the next caliph, as he did not want to appoint anyone without their consent. They unanimously replied: “ We are happy with Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khalid.” Moawia, who was thinking of his son Yazid, got upset but did not say a word and swallowed his anger. However, he decided to assassinate Abul-Rahman.

A few months later, Abdul-Rahman fell sick and needed a doctor. Moawia took advantage of the opportunity and sent his own doctor to him and ordered the doctor to poison Abdul-Rahman. The doctor accepted on the condition that he would be exempt from paying his taxes for a whole year. Moawia agreed and the assassination was committed.

Imam Hasan (a.s.) was also in the position of candidatory. Moawia sent some money secretly to the wife of the Imam, Jo’dah, with the message that should she poison Imam Hasan. All the money would be hers and the son of Moawia, Yazid, would be also her husband. The plot was carried out. She killed Imam Hasan with poison. However, Moawia did not fulfill his second promise, reasoning that a woman who is not loyal to the son of the Prophet would definitely not be loyal to his own son!

Other Plans and Methods:

Moawia used different ways and means to pave the way for the leadership of his son. Buying the leaders of the tribes was another plan. Arabs at that time had a tribal life. Each clan had a leader, whose word was law. Therefore, in order to have the support of a tribe you just needed to satisfy the leaders of the tribe. Moawia once called upon the leaders of some of the trouble-making tribes. He offered 100,000 Dinaars to each leader on the condition that they should not protest against Yazid. Among the leaders was a person named Hattat. Moawia gave him 70,000 Dn. When they left the castle, they counted their money and Hattat noticed he was given 3000 less than the others. He returned to the castle angrily and asked Moawia why he had paid him less. “ Your belief is not worth more than that” said Moawia. He said : “No Moawia, buy my belief at the same price”, and he was paid the rest.

Levying heavy taxes to humiliate people was another plan of Moawia’s to force their allegiance.

Yazid comes into Power

By the way, in the year 60 A.H., Moawia, after almost 40 years of ruling, died, and his son Yazid, the tippler, the gambler, the one who had no care for Islam, the one who had all the vengeance of his ancestors in his blood against Islam, came into power. If Moawia was secretly assassinating figures like Imam Hasan, Yazid had no shame barbarically killing the Imam. By his order, the master of the youth of Paradise (Imam Husain), along with his noble companions, were ruthlessly killed, and horses were ridden over their bodies after they were mutilated. Their families were taken as prisoners of war.

Finally, when the severed head of the Master of the youth of Paradise was brought to his castle in Damascus he hit the lips of the Imam with his stick saying : “Today is for the day of Badr.” Meaning, I have revenged now the day of Badr in which my ancestors were killed by Muslims, especially Imam Ali. Then he recited some poems in which he explicitly demonstrated his Kofr (disbelief in Islam).

Just imagine the scene, the head of Imam Husain severed from his body, in front of him are all the orphaned boys and girls whose fathers were killed in front of them a few days before. Lady Zaynab is also amongst those watching Yazid hitting the lips of her dear brother Imam Husain. She courageously stood up and recited the Ayah:

Let not the unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves, We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity; but they will have a shameful punishment.” (3:178).


(1): Ibn- Jozi, Tadhkeratul-Khawas p.116
(2): Compare and relate it to the evening of Ashoora.
(3): Tabari, Tarikh, 11:357
(4): Ibn-Athir, Osdol-Ghabah 1: 180
(5): Compare and relate it to the captives of Ashoora.
(6): Ibn-Abel-Hadid, Sharh Nahjul-Balagha 1: 463

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What is the proper way to approach the history of Islam? Because some Muslims ignore it.


What is the proper way to approach history?

Many Muslims, mainly Sunnis, seem to try to evade discussions about some past events in Islamic history. On the other hand, there exist some people within Shia Islam which seem to be too attached to the past, that they very much neglect the present.


Three approaches to History :

1. Ignoring the past totally:

The adherents of this idea hold that studying history is just useless. Let’s talk about our present problems and current affairs.
They suggest that it’s always better not to talk in the absence of people who are resting on the bed of history. You will be disturbing them, they say, when speaking of their infamy. Moawia was one of the adherents of this idea. A famous expression is quoted from him: ‘Mention the dead in good’.

Unfortunately many of the Sunni theologians also hold that we are not allowed to criticize the Muslims of early Islam. Of the Western thinkers, Davy Crockett, American folk hero of the 18th century, also held that we are not able to judge on historical events and hence, it’s better to let the dead rest in their eternal place, i.e. their graves. Al-Ghazali, the famous Sunni Ethician, dared to assert that we are not allowed to castigate Yazid nor to curse him, for he was a Mojtahid and had made a mistake!! Or he may have repented!! Worse than him is another one who wrote a book about the so called virtues of Yazid![1].

Well, for your information, the majority of Sunni scholars have not a single doubt of the enormity of the crime Yazid has committed, which subsequently proves his Kofr, and hence they have endorsed his cursing to the extent that Jahedh says “he who prohibits the cursing of Yazid must be cursed too.”[2].

2. Ignoring the present totally:

This approach is opposite to that of the first. The supporters of this concept always concentrate on the past and have totally ignored the current affairs of the contemporary world. Reciting Maqtal (of Imam Husain) with no analysis given is a stereotypical example of this approach. Their task is provoking emotions for the sake of a heavenly blessing. They may seem very religious too. You may find them reciting Ziarat Ashoora every day, cursing Yazid hundreds of times, holding Majalis for Imam Husain (a.s.) beating themselves severely for the Imam. However, when you are chatting with them about current affairs of this world, they are lost. They actually mean it, for this is their purposeful attitude towards politics, for it is their belief that politics corrupts their piety! A pious person in their terminology is one who does not know who the president of America is, doesn’t read the newspapers and is totally ignorant about this world (Addonya)!

3. Being concerned for the past as well as the present:

I believe the above two approaches are overdoing it. We ought to read history, but not ignore the present, or it is nothing more than an amusement. We read history in order to find the roots of current conditions on the one hand, and to be able to deduce general law, to foresee the future and the impacts of the current problems on the other.

*Admin Note: Please also refer to this Q&A for some of the main benefits of studying history: http://www.askthesheikh.com/can-you-please-explain-some-of-the-benefits-of-history-as-a-source-of-knowledge/


[1]: Fadhael Yazid, Ibn Rajab, Tabaqatul-Hanabeleh 1:356
[2]: Rasael Jahedh : 298

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Can you please explain some of the benefits of history as a source of knowledge?


Can you please explain some of the benefits of history as a source of knowledge? Please include Ayat and hadiths if possible.


History, a Source of Human Knowledge

“O’ creatures of Allah, verily Time will deal with the survivors just as it dealt with those gone by.” ( Nahjul-Balagha, S. 157).

Experience is one of the most important consequences of human life. By experience man can improve his life and proceed towards perfection. It is experience which will help us to reduce mistakes, save time and ultimately go forward. However, the life of a human being is so short that one cannot, and should not, rely on self experience alone. Had I been born, and lived in this world, twice, I would have experienced in the first life and would have benefited from those personal experiences in the second one.

But since this is a mere dream, I should learn from the experiences of other people. Human experimental knowledge is established and based on the very fact that since individuals do not have a sufficient length of life, we should pass on our experiences to others so that they don’t repeat our mistakes. If Einstein, the German American physicist created a scientific revolution in the 20th century with his theory of Relativity, it was because of the efforts and the records of previous scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Descartes and others. Therefore, in order to know any branch of science, you ought to be familiar with the history of the development of that science.

Also, in order to obtain a logical analysis of the present problems of people, we need to be familiar with the history of the development of humans, since the roots of many present events goes back into history. In short, history makes us familiar with the reasons for the prosperity of the previous nations as well as the reasons behind their disasters. This will teach us how to gain prosperity and refrain from the miseries of life. That’s why some historians have asserted that history is the mirror of the future. You can, by and large, foresee the future if you are fully aware of the past.

To this end, the Holy Quran, the Book of guidance, has emphasized on the importance of studying history and quotes the story of the previous nations in many instances. However, the Holy Quran is not just a chronological record of history. That is the main difference between the Bible and the Holy Quran, since the first is merely a historical and chronological book, whereas the latter is analytical history. In the Holy Quran we read: “There is, in their stories instruction (Ebrat) for men imbued with understanding.” (12:111).

The word ‘Ebrat’ means to pass or transmit from one stage to a higher one. In other words, it means a transmission from being, towards becoming. In another Ayah we read: “So relate the story, perchance they may reflect”. (7:176). The term ‘Al-qessa’ in Arabic means searching for the impacts of an event. Therefore, the Quran calls upon people to read the history in order to transmit their society to a better and more developed one (Ebrat), and to find out the impacts, both good and evil, of the actions of the previous nations.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What is our opinion of Abu Lu’lu and his assassination of the 2nd Caliph?


What is our opinion of Abu Lu’lu and his assassination of the 2nd Caliph?


We strongly believe in al-Tawwali & al-Tabbari, that is, loving the lovers of Ahlul-bayt (a.s), and freeing ourselves from their enemies and all those who oppressed them. Now in regards to Abu Lu’lu:

Firstly, there is no reliable information about him. Also we have no historical evidence that Abu Lu’lu was a Muslim, let alone a Shi’a. He was Zorastrian or Christian who was captured in one of the wars and became the slave of Moghira Ibn Sho’ba (the governor of Kufa). Moghira imposed a heavy tax on him and so he took his complaint to Umar Ibn Khattab, but Umar ignored him. Holding grudges against Umar, he assasinated him and injured some other innocent bystanders and finally commited suicide [Behar. 31:119].

Secondly, assassination is not confirmed in Islam. This is evident from the actions of Muslim ibn Aqeel in Kufa, when he had the chance to avert the tragedy in Karbala by assassinating Ubaidullah Ibn Ziad, but he refrained from carrying out the act because he realised it was Islamically inappropriate to do so.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Can you please explain the massacre which the Caliph Yazid committed in Madina?


Can you please explain the event of the massacre that Yazid’s troops committed in Madina? I am interested to know more about the background behind it.


The event of Harreh ( The massacre of Madina):

All reliable historical sources have narrated this tragedy which took place almost 3 years after Ashoora.

Immediately after the catastrophe of Karbala, many protests were mobilized against Yazid. In Madina too, the centre of revelation and the main base of the Prophet (s), and  in which hundreds of the companions of the Prophet (s) were still living, protests were staged against the tyrannical government of Bani-Ummaya and several companions revolted against the leadership.

One of those who revolted was Abdullah, son of Handhaleh (the one who was ‘bathed by the angels’, see footnote 19). Upon receiving the news of Karbala, he paid a visit along with a delegation from Madina to Damascus, the capital of Yazid.  From what he had then observed in Damascus, he reported that the extent of the corruption had gone so far that he wouldn’t be surprised if the sky rained stones in Damascus. As a result, upon his arrival in Madina, he mobilized an army against the government.

He captured the House of the then Governor in Madina,Othman Ibn Mohammad Ibn Abu-Sofyan, and deported him from the city and declared autonomy. By doing this, the first capital of Islam was released from the influence of Bani-Ummaya. However, as soon as the news was reported to Syria, Yazid dispatched one of his most vicious and murderous officers named Muslim Ibn Aqabeh (20) along with his troops which consisted of 5000 soldiers to suppress the revolt.

Despite a heroic defense from the people of Madina, the barbaric troops of Yazid ultimately conquered the city.  According to Mas’oodi, the famous historian, several people including Bani-Hashim and the companions of the Prophet (s) were killed.

In short, Yazid had permitted his troops to enjoy their total freedom for 3 days in Madina; total freedom to violate the rights of women, damage and steal from property and kill anyone they pleased. Tens of pages in the history of early Islam consist of descriptions of the Massacre of Madina.

Ibn Taqtaqi, in ‘the history of Al-Fakhri’ (7th Century A.H) describes this bitter part of Islamic history as:

“During those 3 days, hundreds of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (P) were killed. The troops of Yazid raided Masjidul-Nabi and polluted the mosque. Around 900 girls were raped. For many years, the people of Madina would not be able to guarantee the virginity of their daughters when marrying them.”


(19): Handhaleh, the father of Abdullah was among the martyrs of the battle of Ohod who had just married one night before the battle. Since he had directly gone from his wedding night to the battle without having his ritual bath done, the Prophet gave him the title of ‘being bathed by the angels’. Abdullah, his son, was the only child he left behind as a result of the one and only communication he had with his wife.

(20): Due to his numerous crimes, some historians have named him ‘Mujrim’ (meaning criminal) instead of ‘Muslim’

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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