One of the members of the Shura council that was appointed by Umar to choose the next caliph after he died was Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas. He was from among those individuals who did not pay allegiance to Imam Ali (a). There are some aspects of his character due to which it can be argued that it is more important for us to learn about him than Muawiyyah.
One instance from the life of Sa’d that sparks interest took place when the caliphate of Muawiyyah gained strength. One day, Sa’d came to Muawiyyah and greeted him as follows:
السلام علیك أیّها المَلِك!
“Peace be on you, O’ King!”
Muawiyyah objected to this greeting and asked, “Why didn’t you call me Amir al-Mu’mineen (Commander of the Faithful)?”
Sa’d replied to him saying: “I swear by Allah (swt), I would never like to acquire this position the way that you have taken it (through usurpation)”.
This reply of Sa’d indicates to us that he didn’t consider Muawiyyah to be the rightful caliph, having usurped the caliphate of Imam Ali (a). However, what is surprising is that he still paid allegiance to Muawiyyah instead of Imam Ali (a)! This begs the question that how can someone who knows the truth act in such blatant opposition to his knowledge? What could be the reason that Sa’d acted in this way? Muawiyyah himself, knowing very well who the caliphate should have gone to, committed such a heinous crime of usurping the caliphate. Is this because some people are innately evil? Or rather, is it that such people get afflicted with the love of this world and commit such crimes and mistakes in pursue of this love?
It is clear that Allah (swt) has given everyone free will to choose the correct path or the wrong one:
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
“We have shown him the Way (then he is) either grateful or ungrateful.” [76:3]
So people like Sa’d, Muawiyyah and others also had the choice of following the correct path by accepting Imam Ali (a) as their leader, but they chose not to. If that is the case then is it not possible that we may also possess the same qualities and characteristics as Muawiyyah and Yazid? Of course, we can! It is not that they came from hell and we came to this earth from paradise such that we are inherently different beings and immune from their inclinations. Therefore, we shouldn’t be complacent or over-confident in our positions but rather seek refuge in Allah (swt) at all times and constantly assess ourselves searching to eliminate any traces of those evil traits. Then, if we find those characteristics do exist within us, we should be extremely careful lest that Yazid within us overpowers us to take a stand against the Husain of our time.