Ali Ibn Husain (a.s)

The Most Patient And Steadfast Youth Of Kerbala

It was the darkest period of the History of Islam when the fourth Imam (a.s) passed his life. This was so because after the heart-rending tragedy of Kerbala, the Islamic world was ruled by the tyrant Yazid for another three years. And after that the reins of government came into the hands of evil people like Marwan. The members of the family of the Prophet and the fourth Imam themselves witnessed all these happenings and atrocities. During the terrible happenings of Kerbala the age of the Imam was just twenty-two and he was seriously ill at that time. This illness saved him from being martyred like others in the carnage, and the progeny of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) continued through him.

Ahmed Ibn Hanbal says, “The cause of the illness of Ali Ibn Husain was that one day he put on a coat of armor but found that it was large for him. So he broke it with his own hands to conform it to his body size.”[1]

This is that brave young man who possessed unsurpassed steadfastness and patience and he bore hunger and thirst for


[1] Manaqib, Ibn Shahr Ashob Vol. 4, Pg. 142

three days at a stretch in spite of his running temperature and physical weakness due to his illness. Along with this he witnessed the horrific massacre, which ended the lives of his father, brothers, relatives and companions. He witnessed all this and then also watched in horror the plundering of his camp and the burning down of his tents. Even a single calamity of this chain of calamities is sufficient to kill the most courageous person but he was Ali Ibn Husain (a.s)… It is not possible to estimate his patience and forbearance.

It was only the determination of the son of Imam Husain (a.s) that he bore all the afflictions as divine will and bore them with utmost patience and forbearance. How much fortitude it required when he was made the leader of the train of prisoners of war that were taken from Kerbala to Kufa and he entered the court of Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad. And the severed heads of the martyrs of Kerbala were brought in one after the other. In addition to this, the plundered caravan consisted of ladies tethered in ropes having young children with them. Under the orders of Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad the prisoners were then taken from Kufa towards Syria and the Imam led the train of captives.

The journey towards Syria is filled with such calamities that even the most stonehearted person weeps upon hearing them. Such a perilous long journey! The heartless custodian guards of this captive caravan took their charges from Iraq towards Syria . This caravan traveled through Kufa, Dondril, Asqalan, Nasibeen, Haman, Hamas and Aleppo and reached Damascus after twenty days and entered the court of Yazid.

The streets of Damascus were decorated with resplendent embellishments as if prepared for a grand celebration. When

the caravan of Ahle Bayt of Allah’s Messenger passed through these avenues, the ignorant populace was seen dancing in glee and celebrating the occasion. They clapped and shouted ridicules on the prisoners and the severed head atop the points of spears, signaling at the apparent victory of the profligate Yazid. The martyrdom of some of the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the captivity of others was an occasion of gaiety for the Syrians.

During this arduous journey the youthful Imam continued to comfort the prisoners of Kerbala and alleviated their broken hearts and sorrowful dispositions. He used to support them in such a way that each of them was influenced by the patience, reliance and forbearance of the Imam and they all became imbued with an unsurpassed patience and bore all the calamities with a firm heart.

We should remember that when the young Imam entered the court of Ibn Ziyad in Kufa along with the ladies and children tied up in ropes, Ibn Ziyad wondered how this young man had escaped alive. So without waiting for any information from others he asked, “Who are you?”

The Imam replied, “I am Ali Ibn Husain.”

The tyrant asked, “Didn’t Allah kill Ali Ibn Husain?”

“He was my younger brother whom the people killed”, replied Imam Sajjad (a.s), “He was also named Ali.”

Ibn Ziyad at once retaliated, “No it was Allah Who killed him.”

Imam (a.s) saw that the shameless governor of Kufa was trying to extol his achievements before the foolhardy populace, thus he recited the verse of Quran:

God receives the souls at the time of their death.[1]

“How dare you answer me like that?” shouted Ibn Ziyad angrily, “And that will be the last of you because of (your) answer to me. Take him away and cut his head off.”

Zainab, his aunt clung on to him, pleading, “O Ibn Ziyad, haven’t you had enough of our blood?”

Then she clung on to him and said, “By God, I will not leave him. If you kill him, kill me with him.”

Ibn Ziyad looked at her and at him and said, “How wonderful is family relationship! I think she wants me to kill her with him. Leave him, for I see him (now) for what he is.” (That is, his illness would itself kill him).”[2]

In brief we can say that Ibn Ziyad issued the command that all the prisoners, along with Ali Ibn Husain should go to the court of Sham. Imam Sajjad (a.s) was made captive in a heavy chain and this entourage entered the palace of Yazid in the same manner.

It had been a journey of twenty days, the route was torturous, they had to face numerous problems but the worst of all was the spectacle of aunts and sisters all tied up in a single rope. With dust on their heads, the faces of the children had withered. Such was the condition of these noble souls when they were brought into the presence of Yazid.

In order to display the abject conditions of the household of the Prophet, Yazid had invited all the dignitaries and nobles


[1] Surah Zumar 39:42 [2] Al-Irshad, Shaykh Mufid

to his court. The chain of the calamities was such for Imam Sajjad (a.s) that none of it had any equal in the history of mankind, and after hearing which even the most merciless person feels remorse and concern.

When the captives were brought to Yazid the following conversation took place between the victor, that is Imam Sajjad (a.s) and the defeated one, Yazid:

Yazid: What is your name?

Imam (a.s): Ali Ibnul Husain (a.s).

Yazid: Hmm! Husain named all his sons, Ali.

Imam (a.s): Yes because my father had deep regard for his respected father, so he named all his sons Ali.

Yazid: Thanks be to Allah that your father is killed.

Imam (a.s): Curse of Allah be on the one who martyred my father.

Yazid: O young man! Your father had desired to gain kingdom but Allah did not allow it, so they were killed and massacred.

Imam (a.s): Prophethood and rulership has always remained in our family; till you took birth.

Yazid: Your father did not want me to be the ruler of Muslims. He did not consider me deserving of rulership. That is why he confronted me. Since Allah was seeing all this, He became angry on him.

Imam (a.s): The Merciful Lord says in His book:

No misfortune strikes the earth nor yourselves unless it has been written in a book before We bring it into existence. That is easy for God.[1]

“O Yazid! I am not aggrieved on whatever Allah takes away from me. I thank Him for whatever bounties He bestows on me (I do not exult on them).”

Yazid was infuriated at all this and he ordered that the Imam be executed upon which the Imam said, “O Yazid! If you kill me, who would take the daughters of the Prophet back to their hometown? Because except for me they have none who is in the prohibited degree (mahram) for them. O Yazid! If the Prophet comes right now and sees that we are made prisoners and brought here on the bare backs of camels, what justification would you offer?

The ailing Imam who looked emaciated and weak spoke in such a manner that all those present in the court began to weep. Yazid saw that the mood of the courtiers was changing; therefore he unwillingly had the chains untied. After that he addressed the Imam, “O Ali Ibnul Husain, do you know why I have released you from these chains?

Imam (a.s) replied, “So that someone else does not perform this job.” Yazid said, “You are right.”[2]

Steadfastness, stability and convincing rebuttals for every thing compelled Yazid to deal with the prisoners of Kerbala gently and he refrained from giving them further


[1] Surah Hadid 57: 22 [2] Al-Irshad, Shaykh Mufid, NafasulMahmoom, Tadkeratul Khwas of Ibn Jawzi and Manaqib of Ibn ShahrAshob

discomfort. After that he permitted the Imam to mount the pulpit and deliver a sermon on Friday.

The holy Imam ascended the pulpit and spoke about the practical wisdom of his father through which the Islamic Shariah had remained safe and those heart-rending incidents of Kerbala. The Imam’s sermon affected the Syrian so deeply that a revolution seemed to brew among them. Yazid feared that the tumult and agitation may intensify so he ordered that the captives, including the Imam, be released and he also arranged them to be taken to Medina .

When the news reached Medina that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was about to reach the hometown with his caravan, there was a tumult in the town. Men, women, children, friends and enemies, all came out of the city limits to receive the Imam. There were wails and shrieks all around. Everyone was weeping. The youths of Medina encircled the Holy Imam who was the sole remainder of Imam Husain (a.s).

When the din decreased, Imam Zainul Abideen signaled for silence so that everyone may hear what he had to say. Then he said:

“O people! The Almighty Allah tested us with great calamities and huge attacks of the enemies. Thanks be to Allah that we passed the examinations. O people of Medina ! Abu Abdillah al-Husain has been martyred. The ladies of the harem and the daughters of Husain had to bear the difficulties of captivity and being tied up in ropes. The heads of our martyrs were hoisted atop the spears points and we were all taken through different towns and areas.” It

was such a tribulation that its equal is not found in the history of the world.

“O people! We were made to leave our hometown and we were taken out through towns and abodes like Turk and Afghan prisoners. What was our fault? By Allah! I have never heard about such atrocity from my elders nor witnessed it myself. By Allah! Even if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had told them to harm us they would not have harmed us more.

We have borne this great calamity that was never seen by anyone in the world. We desire to be rewarded for it only by the Merciful God and we leave its judgment only upon Him. Because He is the Greatest and the Highest, and Allah is powerful and revenge seeking.”[1]


[1] Biharul Anwar Vol. 10, Nafasul Mahmoom

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