The following is an excerpt from the historical chronicle, entitled A‘māl al-A‘lām, of Lisān al-Dīn ibn al-Khaṭīb, the eminent polymath and chief minister of the Nasrid dynasty in al-Andalus during the mid-fourteenth century. In many ways it reflects a latter Andalusi perspective of the events that culminated in the martyrdom of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali at Karbala. As can be seen from the latter part of the text, Ibn al-Khatib is responding in many ways to the notorious claims of Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148), writing nearly two centuries earlier, that al-Husayn was legitimately killed by the Umayyads. For the description of the commemoration of al-Husayn in fourteenth-century al-Andalus, also see: http://ballandalus.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/the-commemoration-of-the-martyrdom-of-imam-husayn-d-680-in-al-andalus/
Al-Ḥasan b. ‘Alī, the heir to the caliphate, had died during the lifetime [of Mu‘āwiya] and, as a result, Mu‘āwiya secured the succession of his own son, Yazīd b. Mu‘āwiya, by coercion and forcing the people to pledge allegiance to the latter. And God knows best regarding his intentions in doing so…The oath of allegiance was thus secured for Yazīd [by force] at a time when the land was still full of qualified candidates [for the caliphate], including the remnants of the Companions of the Prophet, the son of the daughter of the Prophet [i.e. al-Ḥusayn b. ‘Alī], and the children of the first caliph and the honorable members of the Council of Consultation [of 'Umar b. al-Khattab], all of whom cared for the well-being of the Muslim community…
The Rule of Yazīd b. Mu‘āwiya
His honorific was Abū Khālid and he was an oppressive tyrant. The people of Medina had risen up against him and overthrown his authority, and placed themselves under the leadership of ‘Abd Allāh b. Hanḍala. As a result, [Yazīd] sent an army led by Muslim b. ‘Uqba al-Murrī against the people of Medina. [Muslim b. Uqba] descended upon al-Ḥarra and surrounded the city of Medina before conquering it after a fierce battle. Over 1700 people from among the Quraysh, the Emigrants, and the Helpers were killed during this battle and 10,000 (excluding women and children) were killed from amongst the city folk. The city was subjected to pillaging for three days and daily prayers in the Mosque of the Prophet ceased, nor was the one who sought refuge in its vicinity safe. ‘Abd Allāh b. Ḥanḍala was also killed. Al-‘Utbī mentioned that over 80 Companions of the Prophet were killed in the city. This all occurred in 63 A.H. [683 A.D.]. And when the news of all this reached Yazīd, he was elated and recited the poetic verses from the time of jahilīyya: “If only my ancestors at Badr were here to witness the fear of Khazraj [one of the preeminent tribes of Medina] from the striking of the swords.” This shows the degree of his hypocrisy and the hatred that he harbored for the Companions of the Prophet of God as a result of their killing his ancestors [during the various battles between the Muslims and the Quraysh in the 620s].
Yazīd’s reign was one of the keys of evil and opening of the gates of corruption into the institution of the leadership of the Muslims, perverting that noble office [the caliphate] and debasing it. He was the first ruler to openly drink wine, to occupy himself with leisurely endeavors, and abandon major affairs of state, even abandoning his leadership of prayer and giving the Friday sermon. He even appointed unqualified people to high positions, even when there were many from among the honorable Arab notables and blessed Companions at the time [who were more qualified for such positions].
He even ordered the massacre of al-Ḥusayn b. ‘Alī, along with 80 members of his family, on the 10th of Muharram at Karbala by the hand of ‘Ubayd Allāh b. Ziyād. The women of al-Ḥusayn’s household, including the daughter of the Prophet, were taken captive and were carried with their faces uncovered on the backs of camels [to Damascus]. Yazīd placed al-Ḥusayn’s head between his hands and ordered that it be carried triumphantly throughout the kingdom, until it finally reached Egypt, where his blessed shrine still exists…
Having committed such transgressions and massive crimes [against the Family of the Prophet], one cannot help but wonder: in what manner will Yazīd meet the Prophet of God [on the Day of Judgment], when even his claims of being a believer will be of no assistance?! Indeed, there is no way of concealing the ignorance of the individual who considers Yazīd to be from among God’s caliphs, the inheritor of His Prophet, whether through lineage, deed, or any other manner. For verily, one cannot claim to be a true believer unless they love the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him), his Family, his righteous followers, and respects those whom the Prophet was pleased with and affiliated himself with. As for the ones who murdered [the Prophet’s] grandson and family, drove his progeny as captives through the streets, and enslaved the blessed women of the family, they cannot even remotely be considered to be believers. And woe to the one [a reference to Abū Bakr ibn al-‘Arabī] who claims that Yazīd was (legitimately) girded with the sword of the grandfather of al-Ḥusayn [the “sword of the Prophet” was a metaphor for political authority] or that he was more entitled to this sword than al-Ḥusayn himself.
Some of our companions said: If the legal ruling for the one who purposely desecrates a mosque or even a pulpit is severe under the rules of the religious law, then what punishment should the murderer of the Prophet’s grandson deserve, especially when he disrespected his decapitated head, poked his teeth with his staff, mistreated his children and openly celebrated their misfortune?!”
[Lisān al-Dīn ibn al-Khaṭīb, A‘māl al-A‘lām (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 2003), 1: 70–77]