The Third Imam Sayyid Ash-suhada' Al-husain (a.s.)
NAME AND PARENTAGE
His name is IMAM HUSAIN (AS). "SAYYID ASH-SHUHADA'" (Chief of Martyrs) and "ABU ABDALLAH" (Father of 'ABDALLAH) are his titles. He was the younger grandson of the holy Prophet, i.e. the younger son of Imam Ali (as) and Fatima (as).
He was born on the third of SHA'BAN in the fourth HIJRI year (January 9, 626 A.D.). When the Prophet hearted the good news, he came, took him on his arm and kissed him. He called the ADHAN in his right ear and the IQAMAH in the left and placed his tongue in the babe's mouth, thus saturating him with the fountain of Faith. On the seventh day, the sacrifice of goat was offered. The family was overjoyed by this auspicious occasion. But the events which followed were already casting their shadows on the intellect of the Prophet whose anxiety saddened the AHL AL-BAYT and made them contemplate upon and discuss the inflictions which were to happen on the tenth of MUHARRAM of the year 61 A.H. (October 10, 680 A.D.).
The Prophet, who was devoted to the service of Islam, was now also occupied by the upbringing of both of his grandchildren, IMAM HASAN (AS) and IMAM HUSAIN (AS). He was assisted in their instruction by their father Imam Ali (as) who had earned God's Pleasure by virtue of his deeds, and by Fatima (as) who was entrusted to convey the teachings of her holy father to her offspring and to the ladies of the nation. In short, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) was growing up in a most sacred environment IMAM HUSAIN (AS) was the third Imam of the sacred series of the Infallibles. He was the embodiment of the nobleness and dignity. His sincere worship, abstinence, generosity and grace were acknowledge by friend and foe alike. Keen observation and farsightedness, which he inherited from his grandfather the Prophet, enabled him to clearly foresee the oncoming grave events.
THE PROPHET'S AFFECTION
As the biography of Imam HASAN (as) indicates, the holy Prophet loved these two grandsons exceedingly. He loved them and enjoined his community to love them too. But his love for this younger child was of a special distinction. Sometimes while he was in prostration and Imam HUSAIN (as) mounted his back as a child's prank, the Prophet remained in that position till Imam HUSAIN (AS), of his own will, came down. While delivering a sermon at the Mosque, he once saw Imam HUSAIN (as) stumbling as he entered, so the Prophet cut his sermon short and descended from the pulpit to pick him up. He then took his seat on the pulpit again to warn people against their reluctance to recognize the status that child would enjoy in the nation. He also declared emphatically: "HUSAIN is from me, and I am from HUSAIN". The future events proved what he meant: his mission would be carried out by Imam HUSAIN (AS).
AFTER THE MESSENGER'S DEATH
IMAM HUSAIN (AS) was seven year old when his loving grandfather passed away. IMAM HUSAIN'S father Imam Ali (as) spent the next 25 year in seclusion and Imam HUSAIN (AS) witnessed the unpleasant turns of events of those days, studying his father's conduct during that period. When he was thirty-one, the community acknowledged Imam Ali (as) as their caliph, who ruled in that capacity for only five years. During the battles of JAMA, SIFFIN and NAHRAWAN, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) took an active part, assisting his father most gallantly. In 40 A.H. (660 A.D), Imam Ali (as) fell a martyr at the Mosque of KUFA. The responsibilities of Imamate were forthwith borne Imam HASAN (as), the elder son of Imam Ali (as). Imam HUSAIN (as) followed his leadership faithfully as an obedient younger brother. When Imam HASAN (as) signed the treaty with MU'AWIYA on such conditions as would safeguard the interests of Islam (had they been implemented), Imam HUSAIN (as) too consented to Imam HASAN'S instructions.
For ten years during the life of Imam HASAN (as), and ten years after his death, Imam HUSAIN (as) led a secluded life. He was occupied with worshipping God and propagating His Divine Law. MU'AWIYA, on the other hand, had violated all the conditions he made with Imam HASAN (as) and in the end succeeded in having the Imam poisoned through one of his tricks. The SHI'AHS of Imam Ali (as) were unsparingly arrested, beheaded or hanged. To top all iniquities, MU'AWIYA announced YAZID as his successor, in glaring contravention of the terms of the treaty with Imam HASAN (as). He devoted all his endeavors to secure the oath of allegiance to his son YAZID. Pressure, wealth, position, power, poison-all were employed to force the Muslim community to bow in obeisance to his will.
FABRICATION OF HADITH
During MU'AWIYA'S regime, the flood of fabricated and irreligious traditions and practices threatened to sweep away the religion of Islam. As an example of fabricated traditions (AHADITH), ABU HURAYRAH quoted the Prophet allegedly saying: "God has trusted three for his revelation: myself, Gabriel, and MU'AWIYA". We wonder what God was doing for the revelation when MU'AWIYA was heading the infidels' camp. Another example: ABU HURAYRAH narrated that the Prophet had given MU'AWIYA an arrow and told him: "Take this arrow until we meet in Paradise". What a lucky arrow to enter Paradise!
MU'AWIYA APPOINTS HIS SUCCESSOR
While MEDENITE Muslims decided to swear the oath of allegiance to Imam HUSAIN (as) son of IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB (AS), MU'AWIYA, who was still alive and well, decided to appoint his son YAZID to succeed him as the caliph in Damascus. In order to secure the job for his son, MU'AWIYA wanted to obtain the oath of allegiance to him during his own lifetime. His decision caused a fury among the circles of Arab dignitaries who voiced their objection. Among the first to voice such objection were: IMAM HUSAIN (AS) son of Imam Ali (as), 'ABD AR-RAHMAN IBN ABU BAKR, ABDALLAH IBN AS-ZUBYR, ABDALLAH IBN UMER, and many others. MU'AWIYA wrote to MARWAN IBN AL-HAKAM, of Medina, instructing him to obtain the oath of allegiance to his son YAZID. MARWAN accordingly delivered a speech and concluded it saying, "The commander of the faithful (meaning MU'AWIYA) is of the view that he chooses his son YAZID to succeed him as your ruler following in the footsteps of ABU BAKR and UMER IBN AL-KATTAB…" 'ABD AR-RAHMAN IBN ABU BAKR interrupted him with his objection, "Nay! It is rather in the footsteps of KISRA and CAESAR! Neither ABU BAKR nor UMER appointed their sons or relatives as their successors…!"
In the year 51 A.H., MU'AWIYA performed the pilgrimage and, while in Medina, called upon ABDALLAH IBN UMER IBN AL-KHATTAB to come to see him whereupon he said to him: "O son of UMER! You used to tell me that you never liked to sleep one night without knowing who your ruler is, and I warn you against spreading the seeds of dissension among the Muslims or corrupting their views". ABDALLAH praised God and said: "There were other caliphs before you who had sons who were not inferior to yours, yet they did not decide to do what you have decided to do regarding your son. Rather, they let the Muslims make their own choice. You warn me against dissension, and I am not an advocate of dissension. I am just one of the Muslims, and if they are unanimous regarding an issue. I will then add my voice to theirs". MU'AWIYA said: "May God have mercy on you". ABDALLAH IBN UMER left. MU'AWIYA then invited ABU BAKR'S son (ABD AR-RAHMAN) to come to his presence. When he came, MU'AWIYA articulated the KALIMA and started his rhetoric but ABD AR-RAHMAN interrupted him by saying: "All you want to say is that you wish us to obey your son after obeying God, and this by God we will never do and, by God, we shall settle this issue by mutual consultation of the Muslims; otherwise, we will treat you as you were treated at the dawn of Islam…!". Then he stood up and left. MU'AWIYA, however, delivered a sermon from the pulpit at the grand mosque of Damascus in which he claimed that both sons of the first two caliphs had endorsed his nomination of his son as his successor! People inquired about the truth from those who were in MU'AWIYA'S company while the latter performed the pilgrimage that year, and they were told that was not true.
The character of YAZID son of MU'AWIYA was worse than that of his father. His grandmother HIND had chewed the liver of HAMZA, the Prophet's uncle, during the battle of UHUD. YAZID was a drunkard, an evil-doer, wicked and tyrannical. He once composed a pornographic poem in which he flirted with one of his aunts and described every part of her body. AL-WALID was the governor appointed by the UMAYYADS over Medina. When he was instructed by YAZID to secure the oath of allegiance to him, he summoned Imam HUSAIN (as) to his court and asked him to swear the oath of allegiance to YAZID, the Imam answered thus: "AMIR (Prince)! I belong to the AHL AL-BAYT of the Prophet. God has consigned to and charged us with the Imamate. Angels pay us visits. YAZID is a wicked sinner, a depraved reprobate, a wanton drunkard, a shedder of unjust blood, a shameless voluptuary, and an open defiler of God's commandments. A man like me will never yield his allegiance to a man like him".
Imam HUSAIN (as) knew that he could not stem the tide of the profane and impious monarchy except by sacrificing his kith and kin, and doing battle with the damascene despot who was enthroned by MU'AWIYA.
Yet the political turbulence caused by his refusal to swear the oath of allegiance to the UMAYYAD tyrant did, indeed, upset his noble mind, and he predicted dire consequences. While in Medina, he busied himself with the dissemination of the teachings of the faith. His convincing speech, dignified dialogues, eloquent exhortations, all displayed the wisdom of Islamic creed and practices. He administered as much charity to the poor as he possibly could, and he never felt tired of dressing the wounds inflicted on the human race by pleasure-seeking rulers and their insensitive subordinates. Calm and quiet, he advanced the Cause of Islam with word of mouth, and with the example of his saintly character. Like his illustrious grandfather, he behaved humbly even with the most lowly members of the society. He never disappointed the beggars who invited him to partake of their food. Since he was not permitted to accept charity from anyone,
he instead kept company with them. In spite of such humbleness, his sublime personality commanded such respect that wherever he was present, people could not look at him in the eyes. Even those who were sworn enemies of is family could not help acknowledging the greatness of his personality. Once Imam HUSAIN (as) wrote to MU'AWIYA strongly criticizing his misdeeds and cunning diplomacy. MU'AWIYA read the letter and felt uneasy. The flatterers who kept company with him suggested that he should reply in the same tone. MU'AWIYA said: "If make wrong allegations, they shall carry no weight; if I write truthfully, by God I cannot trace the slightest defect in HUSAIN'S conduct". The epics of his moral courage, truthfulness, righteousness, charisma, enthusiasm, fortitude and perseverance can be observed by reviewing the battle of KARBALA'. In spite of the fact that he was on the Right Path, he tried till the last moment to conclude peace with his enemies. When this proved futile, he upheld his principles and willingly paid the dear price. Determined to face whatever might befall, he proceeded on the path which he had chosen, the path towards an honorable death.
HARASSMENT OF THE IMAM
One of the main conditions of the treaty signed by IMAM HASAN (as) and MU'AWIYA was that MU'AWIYA must not appoint his successor. Violating all other terms as well, MU'AWIYA violated this term too. He appointed his son YAZID as his successor, and having toured all the territories under his authority, he obtained oaths of allegiance for him. When he came to Medina for the same purpose, he compelled all the outstanding inhabitants, at the point of the sword, to pledge obeisance to his son. IMAM HUSAIN (as), however, refused to do so. MU'AWIYA tried all his tactics in vain to force IMAM HUSAIN (as) to accede to his wishes. Due to YAZID'S conduct and character, it was vile even to call him a Muslim ruler for this would be a blot on the Divine Law of Islam. A lustful debaucher and an open drunkard, he freely indulged in all immodest and indecent acts. Demanding the oath of allegiance from the grandson of the holy Prophet obviously meant that MU'AWIYA wanted the sacred Imam of fix the seal of approval on YAZID'S devilish deeds. After the death of MU'AWIYA, YAZID occupied the throne. His first concern was to obtain the oath of allegiance from the Imam.
While informing AL-WALID, the then governor of Medina, of his father's death, he instructed him to summon IMAM HUSAIN (as) and have him pledge his obeisance to him. AL-WALID sent for the Imam and delivered YAZID'S message politely. IMAM HUSAIN (as) had already decided never to bend his lofty head. He also knew the consequences of his denial, but he was prepared to suffer every calamity to safeguard the Prophet's faith and the Divine Law. Asking AL-WALID to give him time to consider the matter, he came back home and resolved that his further stay in his native city was no longer safe. On RAJAB 28, 60 A.H. (May 4, 680 A.D), IMAM HUSAIN (as) bade farewell to his grandfather's tomb and set out on a journey, accompanied by all his relatives. Mecca was the sanctuary where none was supposed to harass anybody. Islamic teachings guaranteed safety and security for anyone who took refuge in it. IMAM HUSAIN (as) decided to stay there along with his family.
He stayed in Mecca till the first quarter of DHU AL-HIJJAH monitoring the situation. During that period, the people of KUFA were incessantly dispatching letters requesting him to come to Iraq to rid them of the tyranny of the UMAYYADS. In response to their letters, IMAM HUSAIN (as) dispatched his cousin MUSLIM IBN AQIL to them, and as many as eighteen thousand KUFIANS swore the oath of allegiance to IMAM HUSAIN (as) at the hands of Muslim. KUFA became the only place of which he could think as the starting point for his revolution against UMAYYAD tyranny and despotism. On the 8th of DHU AL-HIJJAH of 60 A.H. (680 A.D), he started marching towards KUFA where his cousin had made satisfactory progress assisted by many dignitaries of KUFA such as HANI IBN URWAH. But due to the dishonest and deceitful role of corrupt and hypocritical mediators such as SHURAIH, the judge of KUFA, and the mercenary behavior of some influential persons such as MUHAMMAD IBN AL-ASH'ATH, the governor of KUFA, and UMER IBN SA'D, who was the most staunch supporter of the UMAYYADS in KUFA, obtained a respite which he utilized very well to reorganize a ruthless governmental machinery empowered by a harsh military regime and impose a reign of terror and persecution in almost all the strategic centers of Arabia, particularly Iraq.
The same city which earlier had given a warm welcome to MUSLIM IBN AQIL, KUFA was now turning unfriendly. AL-NU'MAN IBN BASHIR, a lenient governor, had been recently replaced according to YAZID'S orders by UBAYD ALLAH IBN ZIYAD, a very ruthless and hard-hearted governor. Having taken charge, he issued very strict orders in the city which terrified the inhabitants. The latter, their lives and properties being threatened by the new governor should they help IMAM HUSAIN (as) in any way, deserted MUSLIM IBN AQIL who was left without any protection. The representative of Imam, whose supporters, with the exception of only ten brave ones, fled in the face of the new wave of terror, had to fight courageously before dying a martyr on the 9th of DHU AL-HIJJAH, 60 A.H. (September 9, 680 A.D.).
IMAM HUSAIN (as) had neither the intention, nor the equipment for a battle or the means of bloodshed, and the time of the pilgrimage had drawn near. But circumstances took quick turns and he was unable to perform the pilgrimage which he had performed twenty-five times before barefoot. Thirty men disguised as pilgrims were dispatched by YAZID to assassinate the Imam while he was engaged in performing the rite of the pilgrimage (TARIKH OF 'ASIM AL-KUFI, MAQTAL ABI MIKHNAF, etc.). commenting on this assassination attempt, the Imam is quoted in AT-TARIKH AL-KABIR as saying: "And even if I were to bury myself in some hideout, they are sure to hunt me out of it and force upon me allegiance to YAZID, and if I refused to do so, they would kill me, and they would not spare me without inflicting upon me the same tortures as the Jews had inflicted upon Jesus".
IMAM HUSAIN (as) did not like to be the cause of bloodshed in the sacred mosque; therefore, he left Mecca on the 8th of DHU AL-HIJJAH, (two days before the pilgrimage) 60 A.H, for KUFA with all members of his family.
IMAM HUSAIN (as) was on his way to KUFA when at the roadside inn of ZARUD he heard with great sorrow the heart-rending news of Muslim's death. But that mountain of fortitude did not shake a bit. To return was out of the question. He continued the journey till at the halting station of THU-HASAM, a detachment of one thousand cavaliers commanded by AL-HURR IBN YAZID AR-RIYAHI confronted him to halt his advance and to force him to go nowhere except in the direction of KUFA. IMAM HUSAIN (as) treated that enemy force with such chivalric benevolence that in the end it won him the heart of its commander. Seeing that the hostile army was extremely thirsty, IMAM HUSAIN (as) gave his water supply to it. The enemy was still bent on aggression and stopped IMAM HUSAIN (as) from proceeding anywhere except to KUFA. It was the first day of MUHARRAM, 61 AH. (October 1, 680 A.D.). The next day, IMAM HUSAIN (as) dismounted at NAINAWA. IBN HAJAR writes in his AS-SAWA'IQ AL-MUHRIQA that when IMAM HUSAIN (as) came to the place, he took a handful of its earth and, having smelled it, declared:
"By God! This is the land of KARB (affliction) and BALA' (trial)! Here the ladies of my family will be taken prisoners! Here my children will be butchered and our men will be slain! Here the AHL AL-BAYT of the Prophet will be subjected to indignities! Here my beard will be stained with the blood of my head! And here our graves will be dug…"
Contemporary historians relate that after coming to that place, which was named thereafter KARBALA (the land of KARB and BALA). The Imam purchased that piece of land from its owners. It was only four miles square, yet he paid 60,000 DINARS for it to be the gravesite of himself, his family and relatives.
The total number of the fighting force which remained with IMAM HUSAIN (as) till 'ASHURA' was no more than seventy-two companions and eighteen who were his kinsmen, the rest being followers and supporters of IMAM HUSAIN (as) who came from different tribes, while the enemy's forces numbered, according to some reports, as many as six thousand, or sixty-eight thousand according to others. IMAM HUSAIN'S small force could have been wiped out in hours by such overwhelming numerical superiority, but the courage of its members prolonged the confrontation for ten days.
IMAM HUSAIN (as) negotiated with the foe for a peaceful agreement. He even offered to leave the whole country and go somewhere else across the border in order to avoid a clash with the forces of YAZID who still demanded the oath of allegiance from him. On the evening of the 9th of MUHARRAM, all possibilities of peace diminished. IBN ZIYAD'S order, addressed to UMER IBN SA'D, the commander of the forces, and delivered by SHIMR IBN DHU AL-JAWSHAN, clearly directed; "Ask HUSAIN to pledge his fealty unconditionally or give him battle". UMER IBN SA'D now had no choice but to raid the small and annihilate it, since IMAM HUSAIN (as) would not give in even in the face of certain death. IMAM HUSAIN (as), still calm and composed, analyzed the situation once more. The riverside had already been blocked by the foe; the cries of the children for water could be heard from a distance. To die fighting was their heritage, but what of the widows and orphans after him? The coming events were casting their ominous shadows.
Still, obeisance or bending his head before YAZID was all the same impossible. He wanted to obtain the respite of twelve hours as he wished to pass the last night of his life worshipping his Creator. The enemy too could have a chance to reconsider the whole matter. Granted the respite, IMAM HUSAIN (as) assembled all his followers and addressed them thus: "Whosoever remains with me will be killed tomorrow; so, consider this opportunity afforded to you as God-sent and take advantage of the dark and take off to your homes and villages".
He then extinguished the light so that the sight of others might not prevent anyone else from going away if he so desired. The loyal companions burst out in inconsolable weeping and spoke out distressfully thus:
"O MAWLA! (Master)! Shame us not before the Messenger of God, Imam Ali (as) and Fatima (as)! With what face would we present ourselves to them on the Day of Judgment if we desert you? If we desert you, may the wild beasts of the jungle tear us to pieces". Saying this, the companions drew their swords from their scabbards, threw the scabbards in the fire of a ditch dug to protect the tents of the ladies and, holding in their hands the naked swords, they humbly offered supplicate prayers to the Almighty beseeching Him thus: "O Lord of the creation! We are passing through the sea of trouble and sorrow in obedience to thy Prophet, and for the sake of the defense of thy religion. Thou art the Sustainer of our honor and reputation. Thou art our Lord and Master. Grant us the strength of will and the spirit of enduring, patience and perseverance so that we may remain firm and give our all in thy Path".
Among those who remained with the Imam till the last minute were close friends such as HABIB IBN MUZAHIR, MUSLIM IBN 'AWSAJA, SUWAID IBN AMR, ANAS IBN AL-HARITH, ABD AR-RAHMAN IBN ABD AR-RABB, who were in their sixties and seventies. Some of them had had the honor of being the Prophet's companions. Some were HAFIZ for the holy QUR'AN such as BURAYR AL-HAMDANI, KANANA IBN ATIQ AT-TAGHLIBI, NAFI' IBN HILAL, and HANZALA IBN AS'AD. Also among them were great scholars of religious sciences, traditionalists, and pious men who passed the night invoking their Lord, in addition to world-renowned warriors whose gallantry was acknowledged throughout Arabia. In his Islamic SHI'ITS Encyclopedia, HASAN AL-AMIN quotes IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-BAQIR (AS) saying that the number of all males present at the beginning of the battle was one hundred and forty. They were martyred one after another as the battle raged. Seventy-two of them survived till the tenth of MUHARRAM or what is known as 'ASHURA'.
LOVE AND DEVOTION
AL-QASIM, son of IMAM HASAN (AS), who was a lad of only thirteen, sought the presence of the Imam to inquire if his name was in the list of martyrs. "Your name", the Imam said to QASIM, "is also included in the list of martyrs. You will be killed; so also will my suckling baby 'ALI AL-ASGHAR". "I will be killed too", continued the Imam, "but God will continue my lineage; how would the cruel oppressors succeed in putting an end to the life to (Imam) ALI ZAIN AL-ABIDIN, (AS)) when eight Imams are to be born as his offspring?"
In one tent, UMMU KULTHUM was sitting with a woe-stricken face, tears trickling down her eyes while opposite her was her brother ABBAS sharpening his arms. Suddenly he happened to look up and, seeing her in tears, inquired: "Honored sister, why are you weeping?" How could I help not doing so?" she replied helplessly. "I am an unlucky childless woman. Tomorrow when all the ladies offer their sons to be sacrificed for the Cause of the Imam, whom will I offer, having no son of my own?" Tears trickled down from the eyes of ABBAS and he said: "Sister, from today I am your slave, and tomorrow you offer me, your salve, as a sacrifice for the Imam".
The author of SALAH AL-NASH'ATAIN records that the tragic and historical battle began on Friday, the tenth of MUHARRAM, 61 A.H. First the Imam tried his best to admonish the stone-heated men by eloquent sermons, asking them: "Am I not your Prophet's grandson? Am I not the son of the first caliph and his cousin, the first and foremost of those who believed in the Divine Message of God to the Prophet? Is not HAMZA, the head of the martyrs, my father's uncle? Is not the martyr JA'FAR AT-TAYYAR my uncle? Is it not that the Prophet reached your ears with words spoken in respect of me and my elder brother that, 'These (IMAM HASNA (AS), and IMAM HUSAIN (AS) are the Chiefs of the Youths of Paradise?" ALLAMA AT-TABARI and all other historians unanimously record that when he had proceeded so far in his sermon, the audience was so moved by his speech that streams of tears began to flow from the eyes of friend and foe alike. The sermons of the Imam deeply moved AL-HURR AR-RIYAHI who, approaching the Imam with eyes streaming with tears, flung himself at the Imam's feet and fell to praying with bowed head: "O God! I turn to Thee in penitence from the depth of my heart! Forgive my sinful misconduct towards the Prophet's beloved AHL AL-BAYT". UMER IBN SA'D, who was selected by YAZID to fight the Imam, feared that other commanders of his army might follow the example of AL-HURR and likewise defect to IMAM HUSAIN'S camp. Calling upon his slave who was bearing the standard and putting an arrow on the string of his bow, he shot his arrow at IMAM HUSAIN (as), thus starting the battle.
FIRST MARTYRED LADY
A Christian named WAHAB IBN HUBAB AL-KALBI and his wife, who were married a fortnight ago, embraced Islam at the hands of the Imam after hearing the Imam's sermon. WAHAB'S mother said to WAHAB: "I will not be pleased with you till you give your life for IMAM HUSAIN (AS)". He darted towards the enemies of God like a lion, and when a KUFIAN severed his right hand, WAHAB transferred the sword to the left hand and went on fighting. Soon his left hand too was lopped off with a single stroke of a sword, and the hero fell to the ground. His wife watching, she pleaded the Imam: "O Imam! Do not ask me to come back (from avenging my husband)! I prefer to die fighting than falling a captive in the hands of BANU UMAYYA". The Imam tried to deter her, explaining to her that fighting was not decreed for women, but at seeing her husband finally martyred, she rushed to him and, putting his lifeless head in her lap, began to wipe the blood from the head with her clothes. Soon a slave of SHIMR IBN DHU AL-JAWSHAN put an end to her life while she was thus engaged; may the Almighty shower His mercy upon both of them. It is unanimously agreed upon by the historians that she was the first lady martyred in that event. WAHAB'S mother was very pleased. She said; "God be thanked that He has saved my honor by my son's martyrdom before the Imam". Then she addressed the KUFIANS thus: "You wicked people! I testify that the Christians in the churches and Zoroastrians in their fire-houses are better people than you". Saying this, she seized a stout candle in her hand, fell upon the enemies and sped two of them to Hell! The Imam sent two of his companions to bring her back, and when she was standing before him, he said to her; "O bondmaid of God! Women are not allowed to go to war. Sit down; I assure you that you and your son will be with my grandfather in Paradise".
Another man who was martyred then and who deserves to be mentioned is John slave of ABU DHARR AL-GHIFARI; my God be pleased with him. He was for years in the service of the Imam, and he was at that time a very old man. Although the Imam (as) had permitted John to leave the battlefield and save his life, the believing and courageous John insisted on defending the pure and sinless AHL AL-BAYT (AS) so that his blood would be mixed with theirs and be with them in Paradise.
When the companions were all martyred, the relatives of IMAM HUSAIN (AS), i.e. BANU HASHIM, took their turns. The first was 'ALI AL-AKBAR whom IMAM HUSAIN (AS) advanced towards the field. He resembled the Prophet in shape and manners: a handsome youth whose separation must have passed heavily on IMAM HUSAIN'S heart. Fighting and killing man KUFIANS in single combat, at last he fell a martyr. The offspring of AQIL, the sons of 'ABDALLAH IBN JA'FAR, AL-QASIM son of IMAM HASAN (AS), all took leave of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) and, after giving the enemy a fierce battle, all fell fighting.
After them came the turn of IMAM HUSAIN'S brothers, the sons of ALI ABDALLAH, JA'FAR and UTHMAN went to the field and, after slaying many warriors, fell one by one. The anecdote of the martyrdom of ABU AL-FADHL AL-ABBAS, brother of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) and his standard-bearer, is indeed very moving. The access to the Euphrates was blocked by the merciless enemy. Repelling the soldiers with his sword, striking down the foes right and left, ABBAS made his way and threw his horse into the river. There he filled the water-skin and although he himself was extremely thirsty, as was everyone else in IMAM HUSAIN'S camp, he refused to drink one drop before letting the children and women drink first. But the dauntless standard-bearer did not succeed in carrying water to his camp. The onslaught of fresh columns halted his advance and cut both his arms. The water-skin was pierced with an arrow. Its water was mixed with his crimson blood as it drained out. ABBAS grew feeble due to intensive bleeding. The heavy stroke of a war-mace brought that matchless warrior down. His exemplary behavior earned him the title of "SAQQA", the bearer and server of water.
This fatal shock bent IMAM HUSAIN (AS) double and for the first time he felt weakness in his arms. But determination soon straightened his stature. He went back to his tent where his six month old infant ALI AL-ASGHAR lay in the cradle on the point of death due to overpowering thirst. He approached the KUFIAN army to request them to give the innocent infant some water. This pathetic scene would have softened even stones but the ruthless enemies instead of showing mercy or regard towards the family of God's Last Prophet, took up their bows and arrows. HARMALA shot an arrow that pierced the throat of the babe. Seeing his son bleeding in his own arms, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) raised the corpse towards the heavens and supplicated: "God! I beseech thee to accept this as my sacrifice for sake…"
Having made the last offer on the altar of the Will of God, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) himself advanced to give battle to the enemy. With a heart agonized by the deaths of seventy two faithful followers and of his own kith and kin, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) drew his sword, and the world once more witnessed the awe-inspiring dash of HAMZA the valiant and JA'FAR AT-TAYYAR and the awesome majesty of the onslaught of Imam Ali (as).
IMAM HUSAIN (AS) was, like his father, a warrior of superb caliber. Having lost all his men while he himself received 72 wounds, he charged single-handedly through the thick ranks of ruthless, hideous enemies. Fatigued and having bled due to the enemy's arrows, lances and swords, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) could not hold up any more and fell down. The enemy thronged from all sides, each one trying to deal the deadly blow. A KUFAIN drew near the Imam and struck him with a blow of his sword. The Imam opened his eyes and said, "may you ever be able to eat or drink with your right hand, and on the Day of Judgment, may Allah raise you herded with the perpetrators of cruel and vile deeds". MAQTAL ABU MIKHNAF narrates that "after than, SHIMIR IBN THU AL-JAWSHAN IBN RABI'A drew near the Imam but he fled upon seeing the eyes of the Imam.
When the Imam opened them again, he approached and cried out: 'God save me from killing HUSAIN! BY God! When I glanced at HUSAIN'S eyes, they appeared to me looking like those of the Prophet", and he drew back in panic. SHIMR, however, made up his mind to commit the foulest act and he jumped upon the Imam's chest. After a brief talk, the wicked man cut the neck of the Imam while the Imam was in the recumbent position, offering his prayers… "INNA LILLAH WA INNA ILAIHI RAJI'UN…" "we are God's, and unto Him is our return". Historians record that when the Imam was assassinated thus, the earth quaked, the wind blew violently and gloom and darkness spread all over the surroundings. It seemed as if Doomsday had dawned. KHEWALLI IBN YAZID AL-ASBAHI, who commanded one thousand troops, placed the head of the Imam, with was separated completely from the body, atop a spear and carried it thus the entire distance from KARBALA to YAZID'S court in Damascus and threw it before YAZID as a trophy.
Those very people who claimed to be followers of the Prophet set fire to the tents of his immediate family. Bent on looting, and eager for booty, the wretches snatched away the sheets and scarves from the heads of the chaste ladies of the Prophet. The corpses of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) and his followers were trampled upon by their horse so that the KUFIAN chargers crumbled the bones and ribs of the champions of truth, direct descendants of the Prophet of Islam. Among the males only ALI AS-SAJJAD (ZAIN AL-ABIDIN) survived Due to being seriously sick, he was forgotten inside one of the tents. His hands were cuffed and feet fettered, and the ladies of the Prophet's family. They were brought to the court of YAZID in Damascus as captives. More details of these painful events are recorded in the biography of AS-SAJJAD.
Those men who were bred by MU'AWIYA and YAZID did not have the decency to bury the corpse of their Prophet's grandson. It was only when they marched away from the blood-saturated field that the neighboring tribe of BANU ASAD dared to bury the corpses of those saints. Today, the tomb of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) in KARBALA' is a magnificent shrine visited by admirers from every quarter of the globe. People annually commemorate his martyrdom with honors and preaching. His name is an insignia of truth, righteousness and courage. His conduct holds an ideal position in the history of humanity and will eternally stand as a lighthouse in the dark stormy waters of faithlessness, falsehood and injustice. If the world would like to seek guidance from the lesson the Imam taught in KARBALA', it can ensure a new life for itself through the matchless deeds of piety, truth and bravery displayed by those immortal martyrs.
The martyrdom of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) has been the inspiration of many generations of Muslims who saw in him the symbol of all that Islam stood for. Even non-Muslims bear testimony to his dedication to the cause of the truth and persistence to stand, till the last minute, for what he believe. For example, the renowned British novelist CHARLES DICKENS has said: "If HUSAIN fought to quench his worldly desires (as alleged by certain Christian critics), then I do not understand why his sisters, wives and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore that he sacrificed purely for Islam". The great British historian Gibbon has said: "In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of HUSAIN will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader". The enemies of IMAM HUSAIN (AS) were eliminated one after another by the "TAWWABIN" led by SULAYMAN IBN SURAD AL-KHUZA'I. They were all martyred, and they were succeeded by AL-MUKHTAR IBN UBAIDAH ATH-THAQAFI who followed in their footsteps and sought revenge for the family of the Prophet. The shocking incident awakened the Islamic world from its slumber and forced it into self-examination in search of the causes of the tragedy. Sympathizers with IMAM HUSAIN (AS) and his family started a whole new era of Islamic history and the enlightenment goes on forever.