By Ali Jamaleddine
Empowered by the throne and blinded by wealth, they have ruled over nations. They sit on what they think is the top of the world with everyone and everything beneath them. They falsely presume they are unmatched. These are the dictators, the oppressors, the tyrants – and they are no strangers to history.
Today, the world faces oppression like no other preceding era. Limits once seen as far have now been crossed and it would not take more than few minutes of watching news reports to realize the degree of oppression the world is presently suffering.
But we have a rich history that details the heading of all the oppressors that came before. Through examining our history, the oppressed can solidify their faith and patience in the face of oppression. The oppressors, on the other hand, will have yet another warning for them to understand their imminent, grave end.
It is important to realize that this historical examination is independent of religion. As Muslims, the stories examined will reinforce our belief in Allah, and those who do not believe in any religion (or follow a different religion) will quickly realize that the end of all previous tyrants is far from coincidental. With that said, let us begin our journey.
Dictators of the Past
History is swarmed with dictators. The Holy Qur’an, along with many other sources of history, contains rich accounts of many civilizations and nations overruled by them. Of all the tyrants, we focus on two: Namrud ibn Kan’an and Shaddad ibn Aad.
Namrud ibn Kan’an
One of notorious tyrants mentioned in the Qur’an is Namrud, who lived during the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and claimed to be a God. He was a murderer and, like the Pharoah of Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), he ordered the slaughter of all male newborns after being warned that his reign would be in danger following the birth of a specific male child.
He was ruthless to the point that he ordered to ignite a huge fire pit and throw Prophet Ibrahim in it (in which Allah protected him). With all his evilness, it is ironic that this tyrant’s end came not at the hands of armies or natural disasters, but at the hands of a small creation – a bug that annoyed him before entering into his head. His only cure was to be beaten with slippers. He died after the injuries he suffered. 
Shaddad ibn Aad
Shaddad was the son of Aad (referred to in the Qur’an as the “First Aad”), a merciless dictator who ruled without any opposition. His arrogance reached such a level that after hearing about Allah’s Paradise and all that existed in it, he decided to attempt to build one exactly like it. In essence, he was challenging Allah Almighty. Narrations say he ordered close to a hundred thousand workers to build it and commanded it to be filled with all types of jewelry and luxuries, which of course came at the expense of taking the precious belongings of the public. Ten years was the time it took to collect the required jewelry and another three hundred years to build that city, which came to be known as Eram (refer to 89:6-7).
After all this oppression and arrogance, Shaddad decided to visit the city of Eram, but Allah had a different plan for him. Just when he was a day or so away from the city, a shriek from the heavens killed them all, depriving Shaddad from even the sight of Eram. 
These tyrants are only examples of many that came. After close inspection of the others, one will immediately realize that they all share similar ends. Some may argue that they have gone against Allah and/or His representatives and hence deserved punishment. However oppression is a general term and not restricted to a specific religion or party. In fact, the Islamic community suffered from rulers who were even worse than those who came before the era of Islam. Such rulers cannot be any further from Islam and the way of Allah, but have ruled nonetheless.
These rulers highlighted the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, and the ones that followed. The Muslims were heavily oppressed in a multitude of ways; one can dig into the books of history to quickly realize the sufferings endured. We shall examine here one (amongst numerous) of the most notorious figures in the history of Islam, Yazid ibn Muawiya.
Yazid ibn Muawiya
Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) summarizes the character of Yazid in the following statement: “Yazid is a drunkard who kills people without reason.” Yazid was condemned by many historians and scholars, including Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Kathir, Al-Thahabi and Ibn Al-Jauzi to name a few. His term lasted for around three years and his crimes included the tragedy of Karbala in which he ordered the slaughter of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny), along with this household and companions, in addition to imprisoning their women and kids. This heinous crime took place in his first year of rule.
What is not usually mentioned is how he attacked Madina in the battle of Al-Harra, causing much damage. He also besieged Mecca and destroyed the Ka’ba with catapults.
With all his arrogance, blood thirst, oppression, shamelessness, corruption and deviation from Islam, his life ended in a ghastly way. Narrations say he went out to hunt and after following a deer on his own, he met a man. Upon learning the identity of Yazid, the man stoned him. Yazid tried to flee on his horse, slipped and got stuck with his head upside down. As the horse galloped away, Yazid died with his face turning black like tar. Ironic indeed to see the tyrant killed by his horse! 
A Look at Modern Dictators
Some may look at the previous stories but feel they are unrelated to today’s events, however we should not forget about the past dictators of the previous centuries and how their rule came to an end. We also have the example of Adolf Hitler, who thought his race is superior to all others and thus committed genocides and massacres. His death is claimed to be suicide – ironic that his destruction was his own doing. We also know of Saddam Hussein whose crimes are numerous. He ended up captured, humiliated, and hanged. Hosni Mubarak, who induced nothing but poverty and corruption in his country, was overthrown by the very people he thought he paralyzed for decades. Bin Ali, the ruler of Tunisia, recently fled like a coward from his country. He had defied the Adhan, Hijab, and rulings of Islam.
A Final Comment
Allah warns us against oppression in all forms and promises punishment in this world and the Hereafter for its perpetrators. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says: “Oppression and tyranny are the worst companions for the Hereafter.”
No matter how long tyrants live, how much they rule or how much wealth they accumulate, their horrific ends are sure to come. It is important to remember the words of Imam Hadi (peace be upon him) in the presence of Al-Mutawakkal:
“And the grave discloses their story when asked, that the worms fight over those faces.
They always ate and drank, and they have, after all the eating, become the eaten.”
Never doubt the promises and warnings of Allah, and more importantly, stand up against oppression in any way possible. And for all the people oppressed in the world today, be patient and just remember – when the time comes, no tyrant is exempt! Allama Al-Majilsi, Bihar Al Anwar, Part 12. p. 18  Al-Shaikh Al-Sadooq, Kamal Al Deen Wa Tamam Al Ne’ma, p. 552-553  Ibn Tawoos. Al Luhoof Fi Qatla Al Tufoof, p. 152