These two men have a lot in common: al-Hajjaj lived over a thousand years ago; but, apparently, tyranny in the Muslim-World, unfortunately, didn’t die with him. Bashar has seemed to be the geo-political reincarnation of al-Hajjaj, basically picking up where he left off. And, the irony is that they’ve both been leaders in the same region of the world. al-Hajjaj was once the Governor of Iraq, during the Umayyi-period, the neighboring country to Syria, which Bashar is now the current President of, more than a millennium later. What makes these two men so distant from one another historically, yet character-wise, so similar, referring to their thirst for absolute-power, bloodshed & ruthless-tactics in the administration of government?
Let’s take a look into each of their respective lives to learn more about what drove them to the madness of their reigns of terror:al-Hajjaj ibn-Yusuf-
Originally named Kulayb, changing his name to al-Hajjaj, he was basically, a soldier his whole life, began his political & military career under the Khilafah (Islamic-Rulership) of `Abd-il-Malik ibn-Marwan, the 5th of the Umayyi-Khulafa’ (Islamic-Rulers of the Umayyi-period). His first official governmental-post was in being part of Ash-Shurtah (the official police force of the Khilafah at this time). He received recognition, by being a stern disciplinarian towards those in his command. During the battle of Maskin, in 72, A.H./691, C.E., in which the forces of the Khalifah were victorious over those who supported a rebel, named Mus`ab ibn-az-Zubayr, he was recommended to be transferred to al-Hijaz (the western coast of the Arabian-Peninsula, which is the home of the cities of al-Makkah, al-Madinah, at-Ta’if, Jiddah, etc.), to crush yet another rebellion there. His first official crime was massacring the Hujjaj (Pilgrims to Makkah), during Hajj (Pilgrimage), in 73, A.H./692, C.E. Two years after that massacre, he was transferred to Iraq, to take the post of Governor, a position that held from 75, A.H./695, C.E., until his death, in 95, A.H./714, C.E.
He was originally only commissioned to negotiate with the people of Makkah, whom were rebelling against the current Khalifah, under the banner of `Abdillah ibn-iz-Zubayr (May Allah be pleased with him), a companion of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). However, as a result of being banned from making Hajj, al-Hajjaj decided to storm the city of Makkah, which resulted in one of the bloodiest episodes that city ever saw, in which `Abdallah ibn-az-Zubayr was also among those whom were mercilessly & brutally murdered, during al-Hajjaj’s storming of Makkah, two years before he accepted the post of being the Governor of Iraq. Now, you’d think that his taste for bloodshed would’ve at least ended there; but, it did not-It only became more insatiable.
Once he became the Governor of Iraq, all hell broke loose. He is officially documented, by the Muslim historian, Abu-Mansur `Abd il-Malik ibn-Muhammad ibn-Isma`il ath-Tha`alibi, as being one of four men whom were personally responsible for the deaths of at least 100Thousand people. His killing-spree was notorious, to say the least. He was by far, the most feared Muslim political-figure of his lifetime. He was a shrewd & ruthless politician, a butcher of the righteous, and an all-around derelict. Whatever accomplishments which occurred during his reign as an official would never be able to clean up the blood that he had spilled all in the name of ultimate-control.
Since the year 2000, C.E., Bashar Hafizh al-Assad has ruled Syria as President, using his political charm to hide & deceive the world-community, until recently, of his iron-fist dominance of his native Syria. Born into a powerful political family, Bashar was groomed for power, by his father, Hafez al-Assad, after the untimely death of his older brother, Basil, whom was expected to succeed Hafez, as the leader of Syria. For six years, from 1996, until 2000, Bashar was made & cultivated to take a foot-hole into Syrian politics, in preparation to take his father’s place. The main highlights of Syria’s oppression, with Bashar at the helm, had began in 2011.
The Arab-Spring, the revolution-spree, which rocked the Arab-World to its core, had affected every country in the Middle-East, Syria particularly. However, unlike most of the Arab-States Syria is very unique, as Syria has established permanent alliances, via their supporters who are of the `Alawi-Shi`i sect, whom have entrenched their influence within the Syrian political & military hierarchy at the highest levels, to the extent that it is nearly impossible for the ruling Assad’s to separate themselves from the connection which they have with the military-In other words, if one fails the others fail as well. The `Alawi-Shi`i’s & the Assads, as well as the military-machine of Syria must, at all cost, support one another, for the safety and preservation of them all.
So, naturally, when the Arab-Spring started to catch ground in the Arab-World, the Assad-regime decided that this needed to be quelled once it reached Syria, at all costs. This resulted in mass crackdowns of Syrian protests of governmental corruption and the will of Syrian citizens to want political reformation in their country, such as murder, detainment, and beatings by Syrian security forces. In total, in 2011 alone, about 5,000 Syrians are estimated to have been killed by the onslaught of Syrian oppression, with Bashar at the helm. On one end, Bashar had given speeches portraying himself as a progressive leader, who really wants to reform his country; then, on the other hand, when his people want reform to be something tangible, he’s using military-muscle to crush their attempts to be a part of the reforms.
What makes people like al-Hajjaj & Bashar tick?
The major incentive I would say, to keep people suppressed, the way these two individuals have, is to maintain constant control. You can’t dominate someone you can’t control. And, to people like them, it’s very obvious that absolute-power is their only goal in life. However, there is one thing that people like them always forget, it’s called the Hereafter. We look at al-Hajjaj, whom people actually made prayers against, to his face. Of course, they were dealt with severely by him for it. But, the point is that when you’re oppressing people, eventually the wrath of Allah is going to crash upon you like a ton of bricks. As our Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has said, “The supplication of…an oppressed person are never rejected/always answered (by Allah).”(Tirmidhi)
al-Hajjaj eventually meet his end & he will most definitely have to give an account to Allah for what he did in this world. Assad still has a chance to change his ways, but, unfortunately, that looks doubtful that he ever will. This is why knowing history is oh so important, because it teaches you about the past & how to either repeat the positive of the past, to not repeat the negative of the past, or both. Yet, sadly, most of us do not learn from history, and that’s why when it is time to meet Allah, it will not be pleasant. Meeting Allah as an oppressor will be a very painful experience, as mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) that, “Verily, Allah Most High gives rope to the oppressor so that when He seizes him, he does not get away.”(Bukhari)
The lesson which me must learn:
We must firstly, always, be dutiful to Allah & not be ungrateful. Next, we are to never pursue the acquisition of authority or responsibility in the land. This is because we will be held into strict account for what is within the bounds of our responsibilities or control, as the Messenger of Allah has warned us that, “Everyone of you is a shepherd & everyone of you will be questioned concerning whom he shepherded.”(Agreed upon [by all of the classic authentic collectors & documentors of Prophetic-Statements as being authentic]) He also said, “You will covet leadership, but it will be a source of regret on the Day of Rising.”(Bukhari)
This obviously means that we will regret the very day that we voluntarily agreed to lead people or to be responsible over others. People like al-Hajjaj ibn-Yusuf & Bashar al-Assad are truly sad individuals, because al-Hajjaj has already made his bed, which he’s now sleeping in , in his grave & if Bashar doesn’t turn his life around & turn back to Allah, he will be in the same predicament. We need to seriously learn from their errors & be stern with ourselves to be dutiful to Allah, in all things before our meeting with him, because once we take our last breath, that’s it. Once we’re dead, we will never be here again, and that means that we have to get it right the first (and only) time around.