Hajjaj ibn Yusuf Thaqafi
'Abd al-Malik made the most grievous fault when he appointed al-Hajja`j b. Yousif al-Thaqafi as governor. Al-Hajja`j is the worst person mankind has ever known throughout history. However, 'Abd al-Malik entrusted the affairs of the Moslems to him. He granted him wide-range powers.
He made him behave according to his desires and inclinations, which followed noting except the thinking of violence and despotism. This sinful criminal (al-Hajja`j) went too far in punishing, forcing, and abasing the people. He made them submit to oppression and injustice. He created in the country, under his influence, an atmosphere of crises the people had never seen. We will mention what was said about him, some of his characteristics, and his deeds through which he blackened history. That is as follows:
The Prophet's prophecy
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, predicted that his community would be oppressed by al-Hajja`j. Asma`', daughter of Abu`` Bakr reported. She said: [I heard Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, say:] "Allah will fill a corner of the corners of the fire with the hypocrite of Thaqif (i.e., al-Hajja`j). For, he (al-Hajja`j) will throw stones at the Ka`ba. May Allah curse him.( Al-Imama wa al-Siyasa, , vol. 2, p. 45)
The Prophecy of the Commander of the Faithful
Ima`m ('Ali), the Commander of the faithful, the gate of the city of knowledge of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, told the Moslems about the oppression of al-Hajja`j. The historians said: "Ima`m ('Ali), peace be on him, invoked Allah against the Ku`fa`ns. That was when they deserted him and mutinied against him. He, peace be on him, said: "O Allah, I trusted them (the Ku`fa`ns), but they have deserted me. I advised them, but they cheated me. O Allah, empower the young man of Thaqif (al-Hajja`j) over them. (Make) him rule over their blood and properties with the rule of the Pre-Islamic times.(Nihayat al-Irab, vol. 21, p. 334)
So, Allah empowered al-Hajja`j of the Ku`fa`ns. Thus, al-Hajja`j persecuted them and forced them to submit to abasement and slavery.
Habib b. Tha`bit reported. He said: [The Commander of the faithful said to a man:] "You will not die till you see the Young man of Thaqif." "Who is the young man of Thaqif?" He, peace be on him, said: "On the Day of Judgment, it will be said to him (al-Hajja`j): Sit down in a corner of the corners of the fire. He will rule for twenty years or twenty and some years. He will commit all sins to disobey Allah. If there will be only one sin, and there will be a door between him and the sin, he will break the door to commit the sin. He will kill the persons who obey him with the ones who disobey him.
The Indignant with al-Hajja`j
The scholars and the good ones of the Moslems were indignant with al-Hajja`j. The following is some of their words about him:
1. 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz
'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz was indignant with al-Hajja`j. Concerning him, he said: "If every community brought its evil one and we brought al-Hajja`j, we would overcome it.(Nihayat al-Irab, vol. 21., p. 334)
Aism said: "al-Hajja`j violated all the things Allah forbade.(. Ibn Kathir, Tarikh, vol. 9, p. 132)
Al-Qa`sim b. Mukhaymira said: "al-Hajja`j violated the rules of Islam one by one(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 311)
Za`dha`n was indignant wit al-Hajja`j. So, he said: "al-Hajja`j was empty of his religion. (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 311)
Ta`wu`s said: "I wonder at him who calls al-Hajja`j a believer.(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 311)
Other words similar to these show that al-Hajja`j was evil, and that he was among the atrocities of history.
Some of al-Hajja`j's Characteristics
Al-Hajja`j was distinguished by all abominable qualities and evil inclinations. For his soul was full of evil and malice towards people. The following is some of his characteristics
A. Al-Hajja`j was created for crime and mistreating the people. He knew neither kindness nor good. When he wanted to make the pilgrimage (to Mecca), he appointed over Iraq a person called Ahmed. Then, he addressed the people, saying:
"I have appointed Ahmed over you. I have ordered him to treat you contrary to the commandments of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, to the Ansa`r. He (Allah's Apostle) ordered (his deputy) to accept from their good ones and to forgive their evil ones. As for me, I have ordered him not to accept from your good ones and not to forgive your evil ones. ( Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 86)
B. Among the most prominent qualities of this tyrannical person was blood shed. Al-Dimyari said: "Al-Hajja`j was impatient towards bloodshed. He told (the People) that the best of his pleasures was bloodshed, and committing things other than him were unable to.( Al-Dimyari, Hayat al-Hayawan, vol. 1, p. 86)
He went to far in murdering the people illegally. He killed one hundred and twenty thousand persons.(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 211)
It was said that he killed one hundred and thirty thousand persons.( Al-Dimayari, Hayat al-Hayawan, vol. 1, p. 170)
He officially admitted bloodshed illegally when he said: "By Allah, I think that there is no one on the surface of the earth bolder than me in shedding blood.( Ibn Sa'ad, Tabaqat, vol. 6, p. 66)
'Abd al-Malik blamed him for that. However, he did not pay attention to him
( Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 74)
Al-Hajja`j murdered the reciters (of the Koran) and the worshipers. For they supported the revolt of b. al-Ash'ath. Among the persons he killed was Sa'id b. Jubayr, who was one of the devout scholars of Ku`fa.
When al-Hasan al-Basri heard of the murder of Sa'id b. Jubayr, he said: "By Allah, Sa'id b. Jubayr died while people all over the earth were in need of his knowledge.(. Al-Dimyari, Hayat al-Hayawan, vol. 1, p. 171)
C. Among his qualities is that he had bad manners. He showed neither cheerfulness nor gentle manners towards his associates.(Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 81)
He was so rude that people were displeased with him. Generally speaking, he indulged in crime and sin. These are some of the features of his character and of his qualities.
A group of the main Moslem figures decided al-Hajja`j's unbelief. Among them were Sa'id b. Jubayr, al-Nakha'i, Muja`hid, 'Aism b. Abi al-Naju`d, al-Sha'bi, and the like.(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 211)
The proof for his unbelief is that he unlawfully shed the blood of the Moslems, and that he spread fear and terrorism among the people. If he was a Moslem, he would not do that. Some declarations were reported on his authority. The declarations supply proof for his unbelief. Some of them are as follows:
Disdaining the Prophet
Al-Hajja`j disdained the great Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. He preferred 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n to him. Addressing Allah, the Exalted, before the people, he said: "Which is better- Your Apostle or Your caliph ('Abd al-Malik)?"( Al-Maqrizi, al-Niza', wa al-Takhasum, p. 27)
Moreover, he punished and mocked the people who visited the grave of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. In this connection, he said: "Woe to them! They visit sticks and decayed bones. Will they not visit the palace of the Commander of the faithful, 'Abd al-Malik? Do they not know that the Caliph is better than the Prophet?(Ibn Abi, al-Haddid, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha, vol. 15, p. 242)
Al-Daynwari commented on these words of al-Hajja`j, saying: "They regarded al-Hajja`j as unbeliever because of these words. For in them, he accused Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, of lying. However, authentic traditions were reported on the authority of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, who said: 'Allah, the Great and Almighty, forbade the earth from eating the bodies of prophets.( Al-Dimyari, Hayat al-Hayawan, vol. 1, p. 170).
Al-Hajja`j's declarations and deeds supply proofs for his unbelief and desertion of the religion. They show that he had no relation with Allah. If he had respected Allah and believed in the hereafter, he would not have done such deeds, which made him far from Allah and brand him and the Umayyads with infamy.
Some of al-Hajja`j's Crimes
The rule of this wicked person was full of crimes and offenses. The following is some of them:
He punished the Shi'a severely.
This tyrannical and sinful person severely punished the followers of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. He spread murder among them and filled their houses with sadness. 'Abd al-Malik wrote to him: "Protect me from the blood of the Banu` 'Abd al-Mutalib. For their blood will not end the war. I saw that the Banu` Harab were deprived of their government when they killed al-Husayn b. 'Ali.(Al-'Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 149)
However, al-Hajja`j went on pursuing the followers of the 'Alids. Thus, he killed them and shed their blood. So, the people preferred unbelief to following 'Ali.( Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha)
The historians said: "The best means to approach al-Hajja`j was to slander Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. Some mean people came to him and said to him: 'O Emir, our parents oppressed us when they called us 'Ali. We are poor. We are in need of the Emir.'
Al-Hajja`j was pleased with this, so he said: "As you have entreated me, I will appoint over so-and-so.( Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn bin 'Ali, vol. 2, p. 336)
However, during the time of this criminal person, the Shi'ites were liable to swords and spears. He punished them severely and killed them everywhere.
Moreover, he imprisoned them in dark prisons. He spread among them an atmosphere of terrorism. The Shi'ites had never seen such an atmosphere even at the days Zyya`d, the tyrannical, and his son 'Ubayd Allah.
The critical Conditions of Ku`fa
During the days of this tyrant, Ku`fa was in a critical period. For he killed the people out of doubts and accusations. He punished the innocent to frighten the evil-doers. He killed those who were obedient to him along with the disobedient. He delivered a severe sermon in Ku`fa. He did not praise Allah nor did he lauded him nor he blessed the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. Among his words are the following:
O People of Iraq, O People of division, hypocrisy, and apostasy, the Commander of the faithful ('Abd al-Malik) has appointed me as a governor over you. He has given me a whip and a sword. The whip has dropped and the sword has remained.( Al-Ya'qubi, Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 68)
Then he said: "By Allah, I can see ambitious eyes, long necks, and ripen heads. So, it is time to harvest them. In deed, it is I who will cut them off. It is as if I look at flowing blood between the turbans and the beards.(Murujj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 68)
This criminal person carried out his threats. He drew his sword and cut off the heads. He spread matchless fear and terrorism. So, Abu`` al-Asadi said to him: "By Allah, the people showed no fear of any Emir as they have shown of you.(Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, vol. 6, p. 66)
The people were so afraid that they thought of their souls and began shaking of fear, as some of them said.(Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, vol. 6, p. 66)
The Iraqis were liable to a critical tribulation during the time of al-Hajja`j. For he subjected them to painful torture.
He attacked the Ka`ba with Catapults
Among the crimes of this tyrannical person is that he led a huge army to fight against b. al-Zubayr. Thus, he besieged the Sacred House for six months and seventeen nights. He ordered the Holy Ka`ba to be attacked with catapults. So, it was attacked from the mountain of Abu`` Qays.( Ibn 'Asakir, Tahdhib, vol. 4, p. 50)
The siege lasted till 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr was killed. Then he ordered 'Abd Allah's head to be cut of and sent to 'Abd al-Malik. Then 'Abd al-Malik ordered (his men) to raise the head and walk all over the country.(Al-Siyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa', p. 84)
Al-Hajja`j did not respect the Sacred House of Allah. For every person who enters this House is safe. However, he violated the sacredness of the House. Yazid b. Mu'a`wiya had also violated its sacredness before.
This tyrannical person ordered roofless prisons to be built. Such prisons did not protect the prisoners from heat or cold. He ordered the prisoners to be tortured severely. He ordered them to be drawn on the broken Persian reeds to bleed their bodies. The historians said: "Fifty thousand men and thirty women died in his prisons out of torture. He imprisoned men and women in his prisons.(Al-Dimyari, Hayat al-Hayawan, vol. 1, p. 170)
Besides, thirty-three innocent persons were in his prisons.(Mu'jam al-Buldan, vol. 5, p. 349)
He said to the prisoners: "Go away into it and speak not to Me.(Tahdib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 212)
He likened the prisoners to the people of the fire. He also likened himself to Allah, the Exalted, to show his might and haughtiness.
One of the reciters of the Koran reported: "Al-Hajja`j read the Sura of Hu`d: 'Surely, he is not a good 'amalun.' He was unable to read exactly the word 'amalun (deed). Then, he said: 'Bring me a reciter of the Koran.' So, they brought me. Al-Hajja`j left his assembly.
I was imprisoned. Al-Hajja`j forgot me. After six months, he visited the prison. When he came to me, he asked me: 'Why have you been imprisoned?' I answered: 'May Allah make the Emir righteous, because of the son of Noah.' So, he smiled at me. Then he released me.
Allah destroyed this wicked criminal, who filled the country with disasters. Canker attacked his stomach. Allah empowered bitter cold over him. He was surrounded by fire. However, he did not feel the fire. Pains frequently attacked him. Then, he complained of his condition to al-Hasan al-Basri. Thus, al-Hasan said to him: "I had prevented you from torturing the righteous. However, you went on that." So, al-Hajja`j said to him: "O Hasan, I do not ask you to ask Allah to relieve me. Rather, I ask you to ask Him to make me die and not to prolong my torture.
This criminal person suffered from the agony of death till he perished.
Then his evil soul went to the fire. When he died, oppression was over. When al-Hasan al-Basri heard of his death, he said: "O Allah, You have made him die. So, make his practices die also.
The Moslems were very happy to hear his death. Then they began cursing him.