Home » Early Islamic History » Shihab al-Din al-Alusi (d. 1854) on Yazid b. Mu’awiya

Shihab al-Din al-Alusi (d. 1854) on Yazid b. Mu’awiya

Belong to a notable Iraqi family in nineteenth-century Baghdad, Shihāb al-Dīn Mahmūd al-Alūsī was a prominent Sunni reformist who wrote many important treatises on theological doctrine, jurisprudence, and exegesis. Among his most well-known works is his 30-volume exegesis of the Qur’an, entitled Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, in which he lays out many of his distinct and unique interpretations of specific verses. He traveled widely in his own time, famously writing a travel account about his trip to the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The following is derived from his exegetical work of the Qur’an, specifically his commentary on the following verse of the Qur’an: “Would you then, if you were granted authority, cause corruption upon the earth and break your ties of kinship?  It is these who are cursed by God, who has rendered them deaf and blind.” (Q. 47: 22-23).


I am inclined to believe that this accursed man [Yazīd] was not a believer in the message of the Prophet. Indeed, everything that he did to the people of Mecca, the people of Medina, and to the blessed and purified Family of the Prophet in their lives and after they had died, in addition to other reprehensible acts that he committed, are not the weakest proofs regarding his lack of belief. He had once gone so far as to place a manuscript from the blessed scripture in some dirt! I do not think that these things were unknown to the righteous Muslims of his time, but they were so severely oppressed that they were unable to do anything except be patient and let God’s decree be fulfilled. And if we accept that this accursed individual was indeed a Muslim, then he was a Muslim who committed all the major sins that one can possibly commit. As a result, I believe that it is permissible to explicitly curse him and those like him by name (even though it is difficult to fathom another individual committing as many sins as he). It is absolutely clear that he never expressed any repentance for his actions and the possibility that he did repent is even slimmer than the possibility that he was a believer to begin with. The same is true of Ibn Sa‘d, Ibn Ziyād and others. May the curse of God Almighty be upon them all until the Day of Resurrection and as long as the eye weeps for Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥusayn. May the curse of God also be upon their supporters, upon their followers, and those who showed a tendency to associate with them.

[al-Alūsī, Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī fī Tafsīr al-Qur’an al-‘Aẓīm (Cairo, 1927),   Volume 26, p. 73].


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