The Historical Analysis of the causes of the movement of Karbala
A look at the factors leading to the uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.) will reveal that there were several religious and social responsibilities due to which he offered such a great sacrifice. We shall mention some of them as hereunder.
1. Religious Obligation
Religious obligation and responsibility required him to call for an uprising against the Umayyad government who had changed forbidden into the lawful, breached their covenant and opposed the conduct (Sunnah) of Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).
2. Social Obligation
Imam plays a pivotal role in the society. Hence when Imam Husain (a.s.) saw that oppression has increased in the society he disproved of the Umayyad government, shouldered this great responsibility and conveyed his message with utmost sincerity and trustworthiness. He sacrificed his life and that of his relatives and companions to enliven Islamic justice and laws.
3. Completion of Argument
The correspondence and delegations from the residents of Kufa compelled him to declare war and fight against the rebels. It was, as an Imam, his duty to respond to their appeals. Therefore, he set out to deliver people from the oppression of the Umayyads.
4. Protection of Islam
The religion of Islam faced the threat of annihilation from the Umayyad rulers, particularly Yazeed who had at the very outset declared his disbelief thus:
The Sons of Hashim played with the kingdom
There was no news nor was there any revelation
Yazeed who remained adamant on his disbelief of the age of Jahiliyyah used to say that no book was revealed, nor do heaven and hell exist. Imam Husain (a.s.) set out to reduce these plans of theirs to dust.
5. The Protection of Caliphate
Another evident cause for his uprising was to cleanse the Islamic caliphate of the contaminations of Umayyads, which the latter had usurped unlawfully, and were opposing and mocking Islam. Imam Husain (a.s.) intended to establish justice in and remove corruption from the society.
6. Right to Exercise Free Will
In the reign of Muaviyah Muslims did not enjoy free will and faced restriction on exercising their rights.
Imam Husain (a.s.) raised his sword so that Muslims regain their lost honour and as a result, his martyrdom changed the very face of the Muslims and their history.
7. Universal Oppression
Oppression had engulfed the Muslim kingdom. None could rid himself of their oppression. Imam Husain (a.s.) raised his sword and opened up the avenues of honour and esteem for the Muslims.
8. Oppression on the Shias of Imam Ali (a.s.)
The Umayyad government was running the movement of oppression on Shias of Ali and they were being oppressed continuously. Imam Husain (a.s.) rose to help and deliver them from the same.
9. Removing the remembrance of Ahlebait (a.s.)
It was very evident that Umayyad government made serious attempts to efface the remembrance of Ahlebait (a.s.), their virtues and their teachings. Muaviyah was the craftsman of this wicked tool. Imam Husain (a.s.) saw that his revered father is disrespected from the pulpits and attempted to uproot this evil.
10. Destroying the value and system of Islam
Imam Husain (a.s.) realised that Umayyad government are bent upon destroying the value and system of Islam and rose to breathe a new life into the same.
11. Enjoining the Good
This is the strongest and the most authentic cause for his uprising, which he himself mentioned in his will. This is also the very foundation of the religion.
12. Eradicating Innovation (bid’ah)
In his letter to the residents of Basrah Imam Husain (a.s.) wrote:
‘Certainly Sunnah is being terminated and innovation (in religion) is created.’
Therefore Imam Husain (a.s.) through his sacrifice eradicated the innovations of Umayyads rooted in Jahiliyyah, enlivened the conduct of his grandfather and elevated the flag of Islam.
13. Respect and Honour
Imam Husain (a.s.) destroyed the evil intentions of Umayyads to disrespect Ahle Bait (a.s.). On the day of Aashura he mentioned in his sermon:
This person of unknown lineage and also the son of a similar person is putting the two ways (choice) of sword and disgrace before me. It is unfortunate that we are heading towards disgrace because Allah, His Messenger and believers have prevented us from yielding to disgrace. Moreover, the chaste mothers and noble fathers do not disprove that we prefer obedience of base and degraded people over martyrdom and pure nature. Notwithstanding the scarcity of my supporters and the absence of help from people I proceed towards battlefield’
Imam Husain (a.s.) in his sermon declared his nobility and also exposed the doubtful lineage of Ibn Ziyaad. The latter intended to dishonor Imam Husain (a.s.) but was in turn enveloped by a perpetual disgrace.
14. The Breach of Trust by Umayyad
Imam Husain (a.s.) was well aware that Bani Umayyah will not shun bloodshed and breach of trust.
Imam Husain (a.s.) explained clearly that Umayyads will not honour their promise. The ruler of Syria broke the promises he had made to Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) and Imam Hasan (a.s,) and Yazeed was treading the footsteps of his father.
Note: These are some of the factors chronicled by the historians. Several others too have been documented which cannot be covered in this article. It should be noted that the above mentioned causes are the general causes mentioned by the historians. One should not think it to be the complete list forming a complete argument for his uprising.