Why did Husayn ibn Ali revolt against the Ummayad caliph Yazid?
Do we have any explicit historical statements from Husayn in this regard?
Imam Husayn did not revolt against Yazid, but rather, he refused to give him allegiance. He could not give Yazid allegiance because his person and actions were the embodiment of everything that opposed the letter and the spirit of Islam. As the Imam of the time, Imam Husayn was the custodian of all the values that Yazid was violating, and so he could not condone it by paying allegiance to him.
By merely not paying allegiance, Yazid ordered him to be killed. Imam Husayn travelled to Mecca to be in the protection of the House of God. However, after a while he found out that a plot was being made to kill him in Mecca, in which case the sanctity of the haram (holy precincts of the Kaaba) would have been violated. Imam Husayn felt that he did not have any other choice but to go to Iraq from where he had received innumerable letters. The people of Iraq had pledged allegiance to him and had promised to protect him from Yazid.
On his way to Iraq he clarified his intentions for moving out:
«إني لم أخرج أشرا ولا بطرا ولا مفسدا ولا ظالما، وإنما خرجت لطلب الإصلاح في أمة جدي، أريد أن آمر بالمعروف وأنهى عن المنكر»
“I did not move out for deception or for arrogance or corruption or for wronging anyone. I moved out solely to seek to rectify the affairs of the Ummah of my grandfather. My purpose is to enjoin good and forbid evil.” (Bihar al-Anwar vol. 44. P. 329.)
However, on his arrival, intimidated by Yazid’s agents, the same people who had invited him turned against him and his family and killed them all. He was killed in such a tragic manner that when the great Maliki scholar, al-Suyuti, recounts the period of Yazid’s caliphate in his book, The History of Caliphs, he mentions that he cannot relate the story of the battle of Karbala because his heart cannot bear it.
Answered by: Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour