The Blessed Imam & The Wretched Yazeed: A Book Review
This book is actually my annual Ashura reading. Written by a Pakistani Sunni scholar named Muhammad Shafee Okarvi, it is one of the rare books I’ve been able to find in the English language that discusses who exactly Yazid and Sayyidna Hussain were and why the cause is so important.
Maulana Okarvi starts the book by using a quote from Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, “O son, can there ever be anyone who believes in Allah (SWT) and [still] has Yazid as a friend? And why should I not curse the one whom Allah has cursed in his book?”
This opening quote alone had me like, “Wait, hold up, so this isn’t something new?!” Because I was always told, either overtly or covertly, that discussing the family of the Prophet and the events of Karbala was a “Shia thing” and it was “so long ago that none of it even matters”. Here was the scholar who was the head of the entire Hanbali madhhab, showing some rather strong opinions on this topic? So naturally, I had to keep reading.
This book is divided into nine chapters and comes in at a little over a hundred pages. It is quite concise, but it jam-packed with valuable information. From an analysis of the character of Yazid to the validity of Yazid’s caliphate to the virtues of Hussain’s character. and misconceptions about him, there is not a stone unturned. Overall, it felt like all the questions I had in regards to the historical event were answered.
This year I saw more tweets of Sunnis and Shias fighting over Sayyindna Hussain’s legacy than actual English-language resources about the tragedy. I craved something that affirmed my own beliefs without the author going on and on about how terrible they thought Shi’ism was. There is a time and place to discuss points of aqeedah, if you find it important, but I just wanted more historical facts about Karbala discussed respectfully. Thankfully, this book delivers exactly what I needed.
This book just provides straight up facts on what happened so by the end, one knows who was who and what happened and how it could have happened. It’s very respectfully written and I just really appreciate the book’s existence. I highly recommend it honestly!