The Main Policy and Different Tactics
Muslims as a unit was formed as the result of the 23-year attempt of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). He managed to form a nation that influenced the history of humanity and led the other nations.
After the Prophet (S.A.W), the infallible Imams (A.S) took the responsibility of the continuity of movement and direction. After Prophet's death, the Muslim nation had some events and disorders, which affected all the activities of Imams till the absence of Imam Mahdi and after that. Anyway, the Imams (A.S) had the responsibility of the protection and direction of this huge nation. Although others were rulers apparently, those rulers were affected by Imams' activities; consequently, they prevented the destruction of the Islamic system and the establishment of pure disbelief.
On the other hand, the protection and survival of traditional Islam and the development of correct Islamic thinking were their duties. Indeed, they were responsible for eradicating huge barriers which appeared after prophet's death. These barriers in the Islamic society were so great that Islam was on the verge of disappearing after the assassination of Prophet Muhammad's daughter. Furthermore, Imam Ali (A.S) had to apparently abdicate fighting against the usurper rulers.
In these periods, a few followers imposed such a difficult situation for Imam Ali (A.S). Training the people who would be vigilant toward right was the way the Imam (A.S) managed to pass this disorder.
As a matter of fact, the Imam (A.S) tried some activities in order to revive Islam:
A) Educating and awakening Muslims toward the realities, basic knowledge and facts;
B) Trying to avoid extreme deviation of the rulers from Islam;
C) Trying to avoid rulers' defeat against disbelief governments;
D) Revealing the facts about the usurp rulers and clarifying problems emerged for the people.
Doing these so-called opposed activities made a hard situation for the Imams (A.S). Divine infallibility, knowledge and approval were the only factors which managed to make them successful.
These four areas of activities were the main line of Imams (A.S) – one after the other – and their different kind of measures were due to the different situations which existed in each period.
Imams (A.S) had a single strategy, but since there was change in different conditions, their tactics varied. Therefore, one Imam (A.S) had various activities in his life period. There was variation because of the difference in various conditions.
For instance, Imam Hussein (A.S) was completely calm and arcane when Muawiyah was the ruler, but his activities totally changed when Yazid was the ruler. He started a movement which accompanied roaring and screaming. There are sometimes appeasement and sometimes protest in the other Imam's activities, all of which were due to various conditions.