The progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) have always been victims of oppression and tyranny. This is despite their proximity to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the sheer number of clear instructions from Allah the High and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to the Muslims to love and respect them (a.s.).

Two personalities from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) in particular who were made targets of untold suffering and afflictions by the oppressors were Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) and Imam Husain Ibn Ali (a.s.).

The oppressors left no stone unturned in harassing, torturing and finally killing these two infallible personalities (a.s.).

It is worth evaluating who was the bigger tyrant – killer of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) or killer of Imam Husain (a.s.).

We highlight one incident each to underscore who from the two was the bigger tyrant.

Shimr’s cowardice

Muhammad Ibn Jurair al-Tabari records in his history: Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan advanced until he reached a particular tent of Imam Husain (a.s.), and striking it with his lance said: Bring me fire so that I may burn it along with its inmates!

Hearing this, the women-folk started shrieking and came out of the tents in panic.

Imam Husain (a.s.) called out loudly: O son of Zil Jawshan! Do you ask for fire to be brought so as to burn the tent along with my family? May Allah burn you in the fire (of hell)!

Hameed Ibn Muslim relates: I said to Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan, ‘Glory be to Allah! This does not befit you. Do you desire to taste the wrath of Allah by killing the children and ladies? By Allah! The commander will be pleased with you by killing the men only.’

Then Shimr asked me as to who I was and I said: I shall not disclose who I am.

I said this, for by Allah, I feared that he would complain about me to the ruler.

Thereafter, Shabath Ibn Rib’ee – may Allah curse him – came to Shimr, whose orders he obeyed more (than any other person), and said: I have not heard a more evil speech from you before, nor have I seen a more degraded situation that you have placed yourself into! Have you now started frightening the women?

Upon hearing this, Shimr relented and retreated.

  • Waaqeah al-Taff by Abu Mikhnaf al-Kufi, p. 229
  • Bait al-Ahzaan by Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.), p. 138

In spite of being a foolish, empty-headed and shameless person, Shimr on being restrained by Shabath Ibn Rib’ee yielded to his orders and desisted from burning the tents.

However, the individual (who was more shameless than Shimr), came to the house of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and threatened to burn him and his family demanding – By Him in whose hands is my life! You should step out of the house to swear allegiance, failing which I will burn the house upon all of you!

Someone informed him – Fatima the daughter of Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his two sons are also in the house! But I (the author) bear witness that he did not desist, nor was he ashamed but he did what he did (i.e. set the house afire).

  • Al-Ehtejaaj by Shaikh al-Tabrisi (r.a.) vol. 1 p. 105

Also refer books of the Ahle Tasannun regarding the incident:

  • Al-Musannaf, vol. 7, p. 432
  • Minhaaj al-Sunnah, vol. 8, p. 291
  • Mizaan al-Etedaal vol. 1 p. 139
  • Al-Waafi be al-Wafayaat vol. 6 p. 17
  • Al-Farq bain al-Feraq p. 107
  • Al-Isteeaab fi Maarefah Al-As’haab, vol. 3, p. 975
  • Ansaab al-Ashraaf, vol. 1, p. 586
  • Al-Iqd al-Fareed, vol. 5, p. 13
  • Sharh Nahj al-Balaaghah vol. 4 p. 192
  • Al-Mukhtasar fi Akhbaar al-Bashar, vol. 1, p. 156
  • Taarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, famous as Tarikh Tabari, vol. 3, p. 202
  • Al-Milal wa al-Nehal, vol. 1, p. 59
  • Kitaab al-Amwaal, p. 131
  • Al-Imaamah wa al-Siyaasah, vol. 1, p. 18

And the oppressors of Fatima (s.a.) turned so audacious that those who fled the battlefields until recently promoted themselves as ‘champions’ overnight as this incident shows:

‘And Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) did not have a helper or defender except what has been narrated about Zubair that when he witnessed the group drag Ali (a.s.) from his house, he unsheathed his sword and called out: O tribe of Bani Abdul Muttalib! Ali (a.s.) is being subject to this while you are alive? Then he fumed at Umar and lifted his sword to strike at him. Then Khalid Ibn Walid hurled a stone at him which caused the sword to fall down. Then Umar picked up his sword and broke it by slamming it against a stone.’

  • Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 28 p. 229

Oppression on Fatima (s.a.) was foundation for Karbala

Another response to the question on who was the bigger tyrant is available in traditions.

Traditions are categorical that the attack on Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) house laid the foundation for all other atrocities on Aal Muhammad (a.s.) including Karbala.

Mufazzal Ibn Umar (r.a.) asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.): O Son of Allah’s Prophet, which is the day of retaliation (by enemies) that was most difficult for you?

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) – There is no greater difficulty for us than the Day of Karbala even though it was like the Day of Saqifah and the burning down the door on Ali – Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and Fatima (s.a.) and Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) and Zainab (s.a.) and Umm Kulsum (s.a.) and Fizza and the killing of Muhassin (Mohsin) (a.s.) with a kick is greater and more bitter because it laid the foundation for the Day.

  • Hidayah al-Qubra p 417

This and similar traditions clearly prove that the killer of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) was the bigger oppressor and laid the foundation for Karbala

Who is the bigger tyrant?

Based on the arguments, it does not take a genius to judge who was the bigger tyrant.

Shimr, on being rebuked, refrained from burning the tents and oppressing helpless womenfolk and children, at least till the time Imam Husain (a.s.) was alive.

However, the killer of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), showed no remorse or even humanitarianism. Of all women and children, he targeted those from the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). He did not even spare the unborn Mohsin Ibn Ali (a.s.). He was not only personally engaged in burning the house; he even enlisted a mob for the cause, as if it was a great virtue to be performed in congregation!

The intellect judges that the killer of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) was the bigger oppressor. Therefore, it is no wonder that the killer of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) will be the most humiliated and chastised person on the Day of Judgement.