Towards Iraq

Alas for the world! May this life go away and that the world should be constricted for someone like the son of Allah’s Messenger (s) and the waves of sorrows should surround him from all sides, and he could not decide where to go and where to turn to, because he received reports that the tyrant Yazid has commanded his assailants to eliminate the Imam even if they find him clinging to the covering of the Kaaba.

The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s) became sure that Yazid would never leave him alone and that he would definitely shed his blood and defile his sanctity, and he mentioned this matter a number of times in his statements; some of which were as follows:

  1. Ja’far bin Sulaiman Zabi’ has narrated that His Eminence (‘a) said, “They will not leave me till they spill out this blood,” and pointed to his breast – “even though by their killing me, the Almighty Allah would impose such a one upon them who would humiliate them to such an extent that they shall become more degraded than an old slave-maid.”[1]

  2. Imam (‘a) told his brother, Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah “If I enter the hole of a reptile, they would bring me out and slay me.”[2]

  3. Muawiyah bin Qarra has narrated that His Eminence, Husain (‘a) said, “By Allah! They shall persecute me like the Bani Israel resorted to injustice on Saturday.”[3]

Anxiety descended upon the Holy Imam and waves of sorrow and grief enveloped His Eminence. The atmosphere around him was concealed by the dark clouds, terrible calamities and horrifying events; because if the Imam remained in Mecca he was expecting to be murdered and if he went towards Iraq he was not trustful of the people of Kufa because they would be disloyal to him and betray his trust. He has mentioned this to someone he met on his way to Iraq. Yazid Rashk has narrated regarding this that someone who happened to meet the Imam said: “I decried tents fixed in an open area in the desert. I asked: “Whose tents are these?”

“They belong to Husain (‘a),” they replied. So I went towards him and saw an elderly man reciting the Quran while tears were flowing on his cheeks and face. I asked him, “May my parents be sacrificed on you, O son of the daughter of Allah’s Messenger (s)! What has brought you to this desolate desert land?” He replied, “These are the letters of people of Kufa to me. I don’t consider them anything except my killers. When they do this they would not leave any other religious sanctity but that they defile it. The Almighty Allah would also impose upon them one who would humiliate them till they become more degraded than an old female  

[1] Ibne Kathir, Tarikh 8/169, Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/216
[2] Bihar 44/375
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/216, Ibne Kathir, Tarikh 8/169


His Eminence was not happy with the people of Kufa because he was aware of their deception and disloyalty that they would become his enemies, and become partisans of his enemies.

Anyway, we shall mention some of the events that occurred with His Eminence before he set out from Mecca, the causes of his flight to Iraq and incidents that happened on the way.

Imam’s letter to Bani Hashim

When the Holy Imam (‘a) decided to set out for Iraq he wrote the following letter to Bani Hashim in which he stated after the name of Allah: “From Husain bin Ali to his brother, Muhammad and anyone who is with him from Bani Hashim. So to say: Anyone who joins me shall be martyred and one who does not join me, shall not obtain success and peace (be on you all).”[2]

Imam (‘a) informed the clan of prophethood that anyone who comes with him would be guaranteed martyrdom and all those who do not join him would not be able to achieve success. But what victory did the Imam (‘a) have in mind?

It is that same victory that except for His Eminence no other leader of the world and warrior of history had earned. Because his views became victorious and his value increased and the world became illuminated by his sacrifice. His name became the symbol of truth and justice. His personality was not restricted to one community or tribe, rather it became incomparable in all of humanity in every period of time and in all the places. Thus what victory could be greater and which success could be loftier than this success?

Bani Hashim People join the Imam

When the Imam’s letter reached Bani Hashim in Medina a group of them hastened to join the Holy Imam in order to obtain victory and martyrdom in the company of the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s).[3] Among them were his cousins and brothers just as Muhammad bin Hanafiyah also came with them to dissuade the Imam from moving to Iraq however Imam (‘a) did not accept his suggestion. We have already related their conversation in the foregone pages.

Why Imam left Mecca?

In our view, the following factors compelled the Imam to leave Mecca in haste:

1. Safety of the Sanctuary

Imam feared that the sanctified House of Allah, where all those who enter it are granted immunity from harm. This was so because Bani Umayyad did not  

[1] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/11, Ibne Kathir, Tarikh 8/169, Tadhib at-Tahdhib 1/56, Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/216, Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 547
[2] Kamil az-Ziyaraat, Pg. 157, Dalailul Imamah, Pg. 177-178, H. 107
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/211

recognize any of its sanctity and Yazid had ordered Amr bin Saeed Ashdaq to fight the Holy Imam and if he could not do so, he must have him assassinated. And Ashdaq had arrived in Mecca with a large number of mercenaries. When the Imam was informed about this he set out from there[1] and he did not take refuge in the sanctified house so that he may protect its sanctities.

His Eminence (‘a) said, “Even if I am killed one hand span outside Mecca, it is more preferable to me.”

His Eminence (‘a) himself said to Ibn Zubair, “If I am killed at such and such place, it is more preferable to me than that the sanctity of this place (Mecca) be defiled.”[2] The succeeding days showed that Bani Umayyads had no regard for the holiness of this Great House, because during their battle against Ibn Zubair they fired burning logs of wood and stones with the help of catapults on the Kaaba, just as before that they had defiled the sanctity of Medina…

2. Fear of being Killed

Imam (‘a) resorted to extreme precaution that it should not be that he is killed in Mecca or that he becomes an easy prey for the Umayyads, because Yazid had dispatched assailants to eliminate His Eminence.

Abdullah bin Abbas in his letter to Yazid wrote: “And whatever I may forget I will not forget that you forced Husain bin Ali from the sanctuary of the Messenger of Allah (s) towards the sanctuary of Allah and after that sent your agents to assassinate him and he had to leave the sanctuary of Allah to go to Iraq in a condition of trepidation and in a precautionary manner. While he was and still is the most liked person in the land of valleys (Hijaz) and among the people of the two towns he is the most obeyed if he had stayed there and considered hostilities in these places lawful.[3]

3. Muslim’s Letter

Another factor that prompted the Imam to set out from Mecca was the letter of his emissary, Muslim bin Ail, which urged him to move to Iraq and it had mentioned that all the people of Kufa were with him and the number of people who have pledged allegiance for him exceeded 18000…

These were some of the factors that impelled the Imam to depart for Iraq and the weakest view is that which claims that the Imam set out from Mecca at the behest of Ibn Zubair because Ibn Zubair did not command any importance that the Imam should leave Mecca because of him, only the factors that we have indicated were explained. When Mecca became the target of Umayyad attack such a situation was created that it never became a center of any political movement.

[1] Miraat az-Zamaan, Pg. 167 from facsimile copy at Imam Amirul Momineen (a.s.) Library.
[2] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/203
[3] Yaqubi, Tarikh 2/249

Imam’s discourse in Mecca

When Imam (‘a) decided to exit from Hijaz and set out for Iraq he issued orders to gather the people so that he may deliver among them a historical discourse. A huge crowd of people from Hijaz and residents of Mecca congregated in the Masjidul Haraam to listen to Imam (‘a) who stood up amidst the crowd and began his sermon as follows:

“Praise be to Allah! By Allah’s will only! There is no power but with Allah! And blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger! Verily death is bound with the sons of Adam as a necklace around the neck of a maiden. How I desire and long to meet my ancestors similar to (Prophet) Yaqub (‘a), who was desirous of meeting (Prophet) Yusuf (‘a). Verily I proceed towards the place of my martyrdom, which has been selected for me. It is as if I see the wolves of the desert (of Bani Umayyah) separating each part of my body between Nawawis and Kerbala, and filling their empty bellies and utricles. There is no escape from that which has been written down by the pen of destiny, and the pleasure of our Household (Ahlulbayt) lies in the pleasure of Allah. Verily we will endure His trials and secure the reward due for the forbearing ones. The cord of the Prophet and his child cannot be separated from him, but will all be united together with him near the Right (Allah). Thereby his (the Prophet’s) eyes will be cooled due to us and thus Allah will fulfill what He has promised through them. Then whoever desires to lay down his life for us and strive in the way of Allah should come out with us, for I shall be leaving tomorrow morning, Allah willing.”[1]

I have not seen a sermon more eloquent and more astonishing, which called the people to truth and which illustrated the worthlessness of this life in the view of Almighty. The sermon contained the following points of significance:

  1. His Eminence predicated his imminent martyrdom and he has welcomed death considering it an embellishment for man just as the necklace adorns the neck of a youthful dame. This simile is extremely touching and the most beautiful of the comparisons in the speech of Arabs. And it is natural that the death which man would consider as an adornment for himself, it must be the death on the path of God and truth.

  2. His Eminence has indicated his eagerness to meet his Holy ancestors, who had been martyred in the way of Allah and the Imam’s eagerness is compared to the eagerness of Prophet Yaqub (‘a) to see his long lost son, Prophet Yusuf (‘a) as His Eminence has himself explained.

  3. His Eminence declared that the Almighty has selected for him a great martyrdom and death with honor on the way of defense of religion and support of Islam.

  4. His Eminence introduced that purified land where his blood would be shed that it is between Nawawis and Kerbala, where he shall be cut up into piece by swords and spears.

[1] Hadaiq al-Wardiya 1/114, Miftah al-Afkaar, Pg. 148, Kashful Ghumma 2/29

  1. His Eminence has informed that till the dogs of Bani Umayyah and their followers do not fill their bellies with his flesh and blood they would not rest. This is an allusion to their rule on Muslims after him and how they shall plunder the wealth of the nation etc.

  2. The Imam has clarified that whatever calamities were to befall him, have been destined and there was no way to avoid them and when the pen of destiny has moved there was no way one could change it.

  3. Imam (‘a) has announced his supplication to Allah that may He join the pleasure of Ahle Bayt to His pleasure and their obedience to His obedience and it really deserved to be so. Because they were the callers to the religion of God and guides to His satisfaction who bore such terrible difficulties for this that they defy description.

  4. His Eminence has described a quality of Ahle Bayt (‘a) and it was their patience and forbearance and submission to the command of Allah in whatever befalls them and may Allah give them unlimited rewards for their patience.

  5. Imam (‘a) has declared that the illuminated reality of Ahle Bayt was the continuation of the reality of the Prophet (s) because they were his flesh and blood and the stems of the same tree are not different from its root and the eyes of the Prophet (s) shall be illuminated for his progeny in his Holy Grave. They stayed awake on nights and in defense of his religion bore the greatest Jihad.

These brilliant points show that His Eminence had become hopeless of this worldly life and was prepared to die and sacrifice himself. If he had been aiming for kingdom he would not have issued such statements and he would have had to give sweet promises and bright hopes to his supporters.

None from the Meccans or Hajj pilgrims harkened to the Imam’s call, except a few believers. This indicates the paucity of religious inclination in the people and the decadence of that society and its deviation from truth.

Conclusion of Umrah

When the Imam decided to leave Mecca he put on the Ihram for Umrah-e-Mufradah, performed circumambulation (Tawaf) of Kaaba, shaved the head and performed Tawafun Nisa. Then he put on ordinary clothes. Shaykh Mufeed has written that when Imam Husain (‘a) decided to leave for Iraq; he went around the Kaaba, did Sayy (jogging) between Safa and Marwa, then he removed his Ihram and considered it Umrah, because he was not able to conclude his Hajj lest he may be apprehended in Mecca and taken to Yazid.[1] This point is worth consideration. Because one who has come for Hajj cannot, according to verdict of jurisprudents, remove Ihram before sacrifice and that it could not be changed into Umrah. What we have explained is supported by two traditions that Shaykh Hurre Amili has  

[1] Shaykh Mufid, Al-Irshad, 2/67 and Shaykh Tabarsi has mentioned it in A’laamul Wurdi, Pg. 227

quoted in Wasailush Shia, Book of Hajj, chapter on: “Permissibility of Umrah Mufradah in the months of Hajj[1] and going anywhere one likes.”

A. Ibrahim bin Umar Yamani has narrated from Imam Sadiq (‘a) that His Eminence said regarding the person who goes for Umrah in the months of Hajj and after that he returns to his hometown that there is no problem in it. Even if that year he performs Hajj Afrad which does not require sacrifice. Indeed Husain bin Ali (‘a) set out for Iraq on the day of Tarwiyah after performing Umrah Mufradha.

B. Muawiyah bin Ammar asked Imam Sadiq (‘a): How does Umrah Tamatto differs from Umrah Mufrada? He said: Umrah Tamatto is related to Hajj and it is a part of it but Umrah Mufrada when it is done one can go anywhere one likes. Indeed Imam Husain (‘a) performed Umrah Mufrada in Zilhajj. After that on the day of Tarwiyah when the people went towards Mina he set out for Iraq. There is no problem for one who had not intended to perform Hajj to perform Umrah Mufrada in Zilhajj.”[2] This tradition also supports what we have stated above.[3]

Departure before Hajj

The question arises why Imam (‘a) left Mecca on 8th Zilhajj while it is the day when pilgrims prepare to leave for Arafat and why he did not complete his Hajj? According to our view there were some factors due to which His Eminence hastily left Mecca and they are as follows:

  1. The regime had become so strict on him that His Eminence had become sure that it would open the door of battle with him or it would have him killed during the performance of Hajj rituals. And in this way trample upon the sanctity of Hajj and destroy its Holy aims among whom was freeing the community in a complete way from humiliation and servitude.

  2. If the regime had not initiated battle with the Imam during the rituals of Hajj it would have done so immediately after the conclusion of Hajj. At that time he would have been in Mecca either in battle or he would have been killed. In both the cases there would have been bloodshed in the Holy House in the Holy Month. Therefore His Eminence left Mecca in order to defend the Islamic sanctities.

  3. The departure of His Eminence at that delicate moment was one of the important ways of propagation against the regime of that time, because the news of the Imam’s sudden departure spread to all the pilgrims of the Holy House in a sensational manner and the people who had arrived from all over the Islamic regions conveyed this information to their native places that Imam Husain (‘a) has declared an uprising against Yazid. And that the Imam had been compelled to leave Mecca at such a crucial moment as he wanted to protect the sanctity of the Holy land at the hands of the Umayyads…these were some of the factors that led the Imam to depart from Mecca before Hajj.

[1] The months of Shawwal, Zilqad and Zilhajj are called the months of Hajj (Tr.)
[2] Wasailush Shia 10/246-247
[3] Laws related to Hajj and Umrah are very detailed and it is necessary to refer to the verdicts of great jurists. (Tr.)

With Ibn Zubair

When Ibn Zubair learnt of the Imam’s departure to Iraq he hurried to him in order to ask him about a matter that he hadn’t been be able to solve. He asked the Imam, “O son of Allah’s Messenger, we may never meet each other again after today. How does a new born child inherits or is inherited from? And the gifts presented by a king, are they lawful or not?”

Imam (‘a) replied to him, “As for the newborn, he is eligible only when it is born into the world and as for the gifts of kings and rulers, they are allowed only if they have not usurped that property.”[1]

Ibn Zubair did not possess juristic knowledge that is why he sought the replies of these questions from the Imam. Now is it not surprising that how such a person could aspire to become the caliph of Muslims?

Journey to Iraq

Before leaving Mecca, His Eminence went to the Masjidul Haraam (the Great Mosque) and by performing circumambulation and prayer, he fulfilled its honor and this was the last farewell of His Eminence. Imam (‘a) performed the noon prayer in the Masjid and after that he bid farewell to the sanctified Mosque and came out.[2] Imam (‘a) bid farewell to the Holy Ka’ba while he was carrying its soul in his body and he was holding aloft its torch with both his hands while angels accompanied him reciting Allaahu Akbar and circumambulating it. As if they were fearful about it because it was a relic of the heavens on the earth.[3]

Imam departed from Mecca while he was fearful of the grandson of Abu Sufyan like his grandfather, His Eminence, the Messenger of Allah (s) had fled Mecca due to the fear of the polytheists under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. Along with the Imam were eighty-two persons from Ahle Bayt, their friends and their bondsmen.[4] In the same way the ladies and women of the family also accompanied him. The Imam departed in such a way that he was carrying with himself the complete independence of the Islamic community and he wanted to establish the government of Quran and heavenly justice on the Islamic lands and that he may remove the deceitful and oppressive people from there.

The Imam’s departure – according to historians – was on the 8th of Zilhajj 60 A.H.,[5] while all the people of Mecca were filled with sorrow and none was free from it…[6]

[1] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayaan, Pg. 167 from facsimile copy at Imam Amirul Momineen (a.s.) Library.
[2] Jawahirul Matalib fee Manaqib Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) from facsimile copy at Imam Amirul Momineen (a.s.) Library.
[3] Abdullah Alaili, Imam Husain (a.s.), Pg. 557
[4] Bustani, Dairatul Ma’rif 7/48. It has come in Waseelatul Maal fee idda manaqibul Aal, Pg. 188 that: He departed for Iraq with his Ahle Bayt and six senior citizens of Kufa. And in Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/9 it says: He departed from Mecca with ninety men from the family of Abdul Muttalib and women and children went with him.
[5] Maqrizi, Khatat 2/286. Bustani, Dairatul Ma’rif 7/48
[6] As Sawaiq al-Mohreqa 196, As-Siraatus Sawi min Manaqib Aalin Nabi Pg. 186

The caravan left the limits of Mecca. The Imam did not halt at any of the stops but that he spoke to his Ahle Bayt about the killing of Yahya bin Zakaria.[1] Thus implying that he would also be martyred in the same way.

The regime pursues the Holy Imam

The Imam had not traveled much distance from Mecca when he was pursued by a group of government soldiers under the command of Yahya bin Saeed. They wanted to prevent the Imam from going to Iraq. There was an armed confrontation between the two groups and the soldiers failed to achieve their objective.[2] In our view these steps were nothing but a formality because the Imam had left Mecca in clear daylight without voicing any opposition to the regime. Now this battalion was actually sent to chase the Imam’s entourage far away from Mecca and then attack them in the desolate desert so that they could be finished off easily.

Dr. Abdul Momim Majid has also stressed this point and said: “It shall become clear to us that Yazid’s official in Hijaz did not take any serious steps to prevent the Imam from leaving Mecca for Kufa as many Shias of His Eminence were in his employ. Rather, it may be that he thought that it would be easier for them to eliminate the Imam in the desert, far away from his partisans, as indeed the Bani Hashim, later on blamed Yazid that he had sent his agents to expel the Imam from Mecca.”[3]

Connection of Damascus with Kufa

Damascus had always maintained connection with Kufa in such a way that it was aware of all the movements of the Holy Imam and the failure of the conspiracy to assassinate the Imam in Mecca. The regime became terrified when it learnt that the Imam was now himself heading towards Kufa to take over the charge of the uprising where he had previously dispatched his emissary, Muslim bin Aqil to gauge the level of his support.

Yazid wrote numerous letters to his tyrant governor in Kufa, Ibn Ziyad in which he suggested him of some dangerous plots devised against Shias so that he may confront the Imam. And he commanded him to be careful of the events that he may have to encounter. Of those letters were the following:

  1. Yazid wrote this letter after the Imam had departed from Mecca. It contained the following: “So to say: Beware of Husain bin Ali, he may not escape you. Hasten towards him before he could reach Iraq.”

This letter purported to command the regime of Kufa to immediately march into  

[1] Nazm Durarus Simtain, Pg. 215
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/39. Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya 8/166. And in Simtun Nujoom 5/57 and Jawahirul Matalib fee Manaqib Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib 2/264 it is mentioned: When Amr bin Saeed learnt of Husain's departure from Mecca he told his officers: Mount every camel between the earth and the sky and follow him and people were shocked at his orders. They followed him but could not catch up with him.
[3] At-Tarikh Siyasi Dawlatul Arab 2/72-73

the desert to fight Imam Husain (‘a) before he reaches Iraq and in this matter they must not allow any type of carelessness.

  1. It is mentioned in a letter: “So to say: I have received news that Husain has departed for Kufa. Your day from among all days and your town from all the other towns is in turmoil due to him and you have become involved among your officials because of him. That time either you shall be freed or you shall be enslaved just as a slave is freed.”[1]

This letter is a message of hatred and ferocity because therein Yazid is warning his official that if he commits any sort of shortcoming in his responsibility of fighting His Eminence, Husain, he shall be expelled from his relationship of Bani Umayyah and his paternity will be turned back to Ubaid the Roman, his grandfather, so that he becomes a slaves like ordinary slaves who are sold and then emancipated…Immediately after receiving this letter, Ibn Ziyad declared an emergency and martial law. He sealed all the borders of Iraq and put guards on the roads leading to Syria and Basra so that no one could enter or leave the desert of Iraq.[2] Also he formed a battalion that would patrol whole of Iraq and search for Imam Husain (‘a). Among them was a regiment of one thousand mounted soldiers under the command of Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi that forced the Imam to halt at Kerbala and prevented them from going to any other town.

  1. Yazid ordered Ibn Ziyad to gift huge sums of money to leaders and elders in order to obtain their loyalties. The text of this letter was as follows: “So to say: To the people of Kufa, supporters and those who obey you, grant more than a hundred units of currency.”[3]

Ibn Ziyad doled out huge amounts to the important personalities and leaders of groups and persuaded them to make war on the son of Allah’s Messenger.

Attitude of Umayyads

The Umayyads were terrified when they learnt of Imam’s movement and the journey of His Eminence from Hijaz towards Iraq because a group of them was peace-loving and fearful of the consequences of these circumstances. They were worried in case Ibn Ziyad may cause some harm to the Holy Imam and this may become a cause for the downfall of their regime. And a group was afraid of the downfall of Umayyad regime hence they were of the opinion that the Imam (‘a) must be dealt with an iron hand or he should be confronted and destroyed to assure security to their regime. The former group was represented by Walid bin Utbah and the latter party was led by Amr bin Saeed Ashdaq. Each of them dispatched a letter to Ibn Ziyad explaining their respective point of view:

[1] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/214. Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/10. Tibrani, Al-Mojam al-Kabir 3/123. Kifayatut Talib, Pg. 432, Jawahirul Matalib Fee Manaqib Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib 2/271 it has come in the Arabic text: ‘Kama yotaqul Abd’ but in the text of Ibne Asakir it says: ‘Kama Yotabdul Ubaid’ and obviously this is correct, on the basis of this the translation will be: Just as Ubaid became a slave (Tr.)
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/371
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/371

1. Letter of Walid bin Utbah

There was none in Bani Umayyah having a realistic and deep view of the circumstances as Walid bin Utbah. When he learnt that the Imam has departed from Hijaz to march towards Kufa, he became perturbed because he was aware of Yazid’s arrogance and Ibn Ziyad’s oppressive nature. Therefore he penned a letter to Ibn Ziyad and warned him against causing any harm to the Holy Imam because such a thing was going to cause a terrible harm to Bani Umayyah. The text of this letter was as follows:

“From Walid bin Utbah to Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad: Husain bin Ali has set out for Iraq. He is the son of Fatima and Fatima is the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. So, Ibn Ziyad, beware, that you may not send messengers to him and inspite of your not wanting you may be condemned by all the people. Was Salaam.”

Ibn Ziyad did not accord any importance to this letter. He continued in his deviation and oppression and began to fulfill the responsibility the Damascus regime had forced upon him.[1]

Misunderstanding of Ibn Kathir

Ibn Kathir has erred when he claimed that Marwan wrote a letter to Ibn Ziyad urging him to avoid extremism with His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and that he advised him and warned him of the consequences of his actions. The letter that he sent is similar to the one dispatched by Walid quoted by us above. It additionally has the following sentences:

“So to say: Husain bin Ali is coming towards you. And Husain is the son of Fatima and Fatima is the daughter of Allah’s Messenger (s). By Allah! None has Allah kept alive near us more beloved than Husain. It may not be that you do something that cannot be stopped; the people may also not forget it. Keep this in mind forever. Was Salaam.”[2]

This letter is definitely not from Marwan because he never had any regard for the well being of the community and all his life he never caused any benefit to the Muslims. In addition to it was his enmity towards the Purified Progeny, especially towards Imam Husain (‘a) because he was the same person who advised the governor of Medina to eliminate the Holy Imam and later when he received the news of Imam’s martyrdom he openly expressed his joy and satisfaction. On the basis of this how could it be possible that he requested Ibn Ziyad to give concession to the Imam and to protect him?

2. Ashdaq’s Letter

Amr bin Saeed Ashdaq wrote a letter to Ibn Ziyad in which he ordered him to resort to the most severe steps against the Imam. The letter states: “So to say: Husain is coming towards you in such circumstances that either you shall be freed or be enslaved so that you are dealt with like bondsmen.”[3]

[1] Al Futuh 5/121-122
[2] Ibne Kathir, Tarikh 8/165
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/212

Confiscating Yazid’s wealth

Imam (‘a) had not traveled very far from Mecca that in Taneem[1] he came across a caravan carrying huge quantities of red garments and dresses sent by governor of Yemen, Bajeer bin Yasar for the tyrant Yazid. Imam ordered that the goods of the caravan be confiscated. He told the camel owners that whomsoever of them may like may go with His Eminence to Iraq and they would be paid the full fare and whoever wanted to discontinue, may take his charges till that point and go back. Some of them joined the Imam and the rest departed from there.[2]

In this way the Imam saved the goods from being put to unlawful purposes and be used for drinking parties and help in oppressing people. Before this also the Imam had taken the same steps during the time of Muawiyah about which Ayatullah Sayyid Mahdi Aale Bahrul Uloom thinks that it is a weak narrational report, because the position of the Imam was too exalted to resort to such tactics.[3] However we are of the opinion that there was nothing wrong in this. The Imam considered the regimes of both Muawiyah and Yazid as unlawful and when he saw that the wealth of Muslims was being used to promote vices and destruction he saved it by confiscating and distributing it all to the poor and needy people. So what is the problem in it?

Meeting with Farazdaq

When the Imam’s entourage reached a place called Saffah,[4] the famous poet, Farazdaq Haman bin Ghalib met the Imam and saluted him. Farazdaq invoked blessings upon him and asked His Eminence, “May my parents be sacrificed on you, what has compelled you to leave the Hajj?”

“If I do not hasten, I would be apprehended.”[5]

The Holy Imam asked him, “O Aba Firaas, where are you coming from?”

“From Kufa.”

“Tell me about the people there.”

“You have asked a good (question), the hearts of the people are with you but their  

[1] Taneem is a place in Mecca, outside the sanctuary between Mecca and Saraf at a distance of two farsakhs from Mecca and it is said that it is at a distance of four farsakhs that is why it is called Taneem at the right side of which is a mountain called Naeem and on the left is another mountain named Naaim (Mojam al-Buldan 2/49)
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/385-386. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/166
[3] Bahrul Uloom, Rijal 4/48
[4] Safah is a place between Hunain and Ansaab al-Haram on the left of anyone who enters Mecca from Mashash…Farazdaq has versified his meeting with the Imam at this place as follows:
I met Husain at Safah while cloaks and shields were on His Eminence. This matter is mentioned in Mojam al-Buldan 3/412 and in Tadhkiratul Huffaz of Dhahabi it says that the Imam’s encounter with Farazdaq was at Zaatul Irq and in Maqtal of Khwarizmi it is mentioned that they met at Ash-Shuqooq and in Al-Lohoof, Pg. 134 Zubala is mentioned but the fact is that they met at Safah as Farazdaq has himself stated.
[5] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/167

swords are against you. The decision comes from Heaven and God does what He wishes.”[1]

Imam agreed to what Farazdaq said and he replied: “You have spoken truly of the affair belonging to God. Every day He (is involved) in (every) matter. If fate sends down what we like and are pleased with, we praise God for His blessings. He is the One from Whom help should be sought in order to give thanks to Him. However, although fate may frustrate (our) hopes, yet He does not destroy (the soul of) those whose intention is the truth and whose hearts are pious.”[2]

At that moment the Imam recited the following couplets:

“If the world is considered of any value, the abode of Allah’s reward is higher and greater.

If the bodies are created for death it is best that man is killed by the sword in the way of Allah.

If the sustenance has already been appointed, man should spend the least effort in obtaining it.

If wealth is accumulated only to be left behind, why is man miserly in spending something that is going to be left behind?”[3]

Then Farazdaq asked the Imam about matters concerning vows and pilgrimage rites. The Imam told him about them and then moved his mount off, saying farewell, and so they parted…

This encounter indicates for us a picture of weakness and decadence of the people and their lack of motivation for supporting truth because he was having social and cultural perception, but inspite of knowing that the Imam shall be killed he did not come forward to help him and he did not join the caravan of His Eminence in order to defend him. So, if such was the position of Farazdaq what could be said of the general populace and laymen?

Anyway, the Imam continued his march with determination and steadfastness and Farazdaq’s statements regarding the weakness of the people towards His Eminence and their support to Bani Umayyah was not able to make the Imam change his decision. If the Imam had been aiming for kingdom, Farazdaq’s remarks would have dissuaded him from his journey to Iraq.

Letter of the Imam to people of Kufa

When Imam Husain (‘a) reached the spot called Hajir in the Zirrama province, which was a station off from Badia, he wrote a letter to the Shias of Kufa to inform them of his departure towards Iraq. After the name of Allah the Imam wrote:

[1] Waseelatul Maal Pg. 188
[2] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/166. Tabari, Tarikh 5/386. Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/40. As Sawaiq al-Mohreqa 196
[3] Al Futuh of Ibne Athim 5/125-126

“From Husain bin Ali to his believing brothers and Muslims, peace be on you. With you all, I praise that Allah except Whom there is no deity. So to say: The letter of Muslim bin Aqil reached me and informed me about your favorable attitude and the readiness of the majority of you to help me and to restore our rights. Thus I beseech the Almighty to give me success in righteousness and that He makes you eligible for the greatest reward for this. I have set out from Mecca towards you on Tuesday, 8th Zilhajj the day of Tarwiyah. So when my messenger reaches you, you must conceal your affair and continue your efforts as I would, if Allah wills, reach you in a few days. And peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His bounties.”[1]

Imam (‘a) entrusted this letter to the great warrior, Qais bin Mus-har Saidawi. He set out with speed without being distracted by anything else till he reached Quddisiya when he came across a police party that was patrolling the lands to check anyone from entering or leaving Iraq. The police arrested him but Qais destroyed the Imam’s letter so fast they could not find out about its contents. Then they took him in custody and along with pieces of the letter sent him to Ibn Ziyad, the oppressor. When he came to Ibn Ziyad he asked:

“Who are you?”

“I am a partisan (Shia) of Amirul Momineen, Husain bin Ali (‘a).”

“Why did you tear up the letter that you were carrying?”

“For the fear that you would have learnt of its contents?”

“Who was the sender of that letter and who was supposed to be its recipient?”

“It was from Husain to a group of people of Kufa, whose names I do not know.”

The oppressor became infuriated and became absolutely out of control. He screamed at Qais: “By Allah! You will not leave me except that you report to me the names of persons for whom you had brought the letter or that you go upon the pulpit and curse Husain, his father and his brother in order to be excused by me or I shall have you cut into pieces.”

Qais told him, “I do not know the recipients of the letter but I shall perform the function of cursing.”

Ibn Ziyad thought he was another kind of degraded man of Kufa, who the world has deceived and whom death has terrified. He didn’t know that Qais was the incomparable reformer of the world who made history of communities and nations and exalted for them the word of truth and justice on the earth…

Ibn Marjana ordered the people to gather at the Great Mosque so that he may display to them through Qais’ cursing of Ahle Bayt, an example of pledge breaking and persuade them to make it a part of their behavior.

[1] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/168 and in Futuh 5/143-145 the letter of His Eminence is quoted in a different detailed manner. Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/378

That great warrior, while he ridiculed death and made fun of life stood up from his place in order to fulfill the trust and sincerity towards the message of God. Then he mounted the pulpit and praised Allah and glorified Him. He invoked blessings on the Messenger of Allah and prayed for divine mercy for Ali and his sons.[1] After that he cursed Ubaidullah, his father and all the oppressors of Bani Umayyah and he raised his call of the rammer which was the call of truth and Islam and said:

“People, this man, Husain bin Ali, the best of God’s creatures, the son of Fatima, the daughter of the Apostle, may God bless him and his family and grant them peace, (is nearby). I am his messenger to you. I left him at Hajir. So you answer him.”[2]

Ibn Ziyad’s men rushed to him and informed him what Qais had done. He became infuriated and ordered him to be thrown from the top of the palace alive.

The agents apprehended Qais and threw him to the ground from the palace top. He was smashed to pieces, his bones were pulverized and he passed away with the death of a brave warrior in the path of his faith and belief.

When the news of his killing reached Imam Husain (‘a) he was extremely devastated and he began to weep and said, “O Allah! Appoint for us and our Shias a valuable place in Your realm and surround us all with Your mercy as You are powerful over everything.”[3]

With Abu Harra

When the Imam reached Zaat Irq, Abu Harra came and said to His Eminence: “O Son of Allah’s Messenger! What has brought you out from the sanctuary of Allah and the sanctuary of your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s)?”

The Imam was touched and he said, “It is amazing, O Aba Harra! The Bani Umayyah has plundered my property and I remained patient, they spoke harshly to me and I was patient. They wanted to kill me, so I fled. I swear by Allah! These unjust people want to slay me and the Almighty will heap them with extensive degradation and put swordsmen over their lives. He would appoint such a person on them as will humiliate them till they become more degraded than the community of Saba just as a woman from them became their queen and ruled their lives and properties, till she humiliated them completely.”[4]

The Imam moved out from that place while he was aggrieved of the people who did not believe in helping the truth. He was sad for the people who preferred a life of comfort and did not like to participate in Jihad on the way of Allah.

[1] Al Futuh 5/146-147
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/41
[3] Al Futuh 5/147
[4] Ad-Darul Maslook 1/110. Al Futuh 5/123-124

With an Arab Shaykh

When the Imam’s caravan reached Batnul Uqbah, an Arab Shaykh who resided there approached the Holy Imam and said, “I adjure you in the name of God, go back. You won’t come to anything there except the points of spears and the edges of swords. If those who sent for you were enough to support you in battle and had prepared the ground for you, and you came to them, that would be a wise decision. However, in the light of the situation as it has been described I don’t think that you ought to do it.”

Imam (‘a) replied, “What you have stated is not concealed from me, but I shall be patient and forbearing till the Almighty Allah completes that which He intends to complete.”[1]

Worry of Her Eminence, Zainab (‘a)

The Imam’s caravan continued its journey till it reached Hazeemiyah, a station on the route of Hajj. The Imam stayed at this place for a day and a night to rest from the fatigue of the journey and the hardships of the way. His sister, the honorable lady of Bani Hashim came to him dragging her garment on the ground and her heart was brimming with sorrow and grief. She said in a forlorn voice accompanied with lamentation that she had heard a caller say:

“O eye! Be diligent, who will weep upon the martyrs after me?

On those whom death follows as they move forward to fulfill the covenant they have made.”

The chief of nobles told her, “My sister, whatever is decreed by Allah shall indeed come to pass?”[2]

His Eminence counseled his sister to observe patience and to face the calamities and problems with determination and resolve so that he may be able to fulfill his duty.

With Zuhair bin Qain

Imam’s caravan reached Zarood and halted there for sometime. Zuhair bin Qain who held the Uthmani view and that year he had performed the pilgrimage of the House of God, happened to camp near the Imam’s halting place. Though Zuhair and his caravan had been traveling parallel to the Imam’s caravan they always avoided camping too near the Imam, lest the Imam may send a messenger to him and summon him, which was something Zuhair was trying to avoid. This day Zuhair and his companions were having dinner when the Imam’s messenger arrived and delivered Imam’s message. They were so shocked that they threw what food they held in their hands on the table as if birds had alighted on their heads.

Zuhair’s wife censured their reaction and remarked, “Glory be to Allah! Did the  

[1] Ibne Sabbagh, Al Fusulul Muhimma, Pg. 189
[2] Ibne Shahr Aashob, Manaqib 4/195 from the facsimile in Amirul Momineen (a.s.) Library. Al Futuh 5/122

son of the Messenger of Allah send for you? Then aren’t you going to him? If you went to him, you would hear what he had to say.”

Zuhair went unwillingly to him. It was not long before he returned in a happy mood and his face was aglow. He ordered his tent (to be struck) and (called for) his luggage, mounts and equipment. His tent was pulled down and taken to Husain’s camp. Then he said to his wife, “You are divorced.”

What secret did the beloved grandson of Allah’s Messenger convey to him that he was absolutely transformed? Did he promise him wealth and riches? If he had done thus, Zuhair would not have divorced his wife and not bid last farewell to his friends…

Imam promised him martyrdom, salvation and Paradise and told him about a tradition that reminded him of a long day he had passed and which he had long forgotten…Zuhair repeated the incident to his wife as follows:

“I will narrate a tradition for you: we had gone to Balanjar for Jihad. The Almighty Allah granted victory to us and bestowed us war booty and we were elated at this. Salman al-Farsi was accompanying us. He asked us, “Are you happy with the victory which God has granted you and the booty you have won?” We said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Therefore when you meet the Lord of the young men of the family of Muhammad be happier to fight with them than you are with the booty which you have obtained today.”[1]

Ibrahim bin Saeed who went to the Imam with Zuhair has narrated that His Eminence told him, “He shall be killed at Kerbala and Zajar bin Qais will take his blessed severed head to Yazid with the hope of earning reward but he will not give him anything.”[2]

Fortune shone on Zuhair that he joined the caravan of the Purified Progeny and he became their strongest defender and their most brilliant companion. He sacrificed his life upon the Holy Imam and was martyred on the way of his equitable aim.


The Tragic News of Muslim’s Martyrdom

Abd Allah bin Sulaiman and al-Mundhir bin Mushamill[3] both from Asad brought the tragic news of the martyrdom of Muslim and they have reported thus:

When we had finished the pilgrimage, there was no concern more important to us than to join al-Husain, peace be on him, on the road, so that we might see what happened in his affair. We went along trotting our two camels speedily until we joined him at Zarood. As we approached, there we (saw) a man from Kufa who had changed his route when he had seen al-Husain, peace be on him. Al-Husain, peace  

[1] Shaykh Mufid, Al-Irshad, 2/72-73, Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/42. Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/378-379. Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 547-548
[2] Muhammad bin Jurair Tabari, Dalail al-Imamah 182, H. 97
[3] It is said that the man who brought the news to the Imam was Ibne Yazid Tamimi, as mentioned in As Sawaiq al-Mohreqa 196. According to Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/379 it was Bakr bin Motaqid

be on him, had stopped as if he wanted (to speak to) him, but (the man) ignored him and went on. We went on towards the man. One of us said to the other: “Come with us to ask this man if he has news of Kufa.”

We came up to him and greeted him. He returned our greeting.

“From which (tribe) do you come, fellow?” we asked.

“(I am) an Asadi,” he answered.

“We also are Asadis,” we said, “Who are you?”

“I am Bakr bin so and so,” he answered and we told him our lineage.

“Tell us of the people (you have left) behind you?” we asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “I only left Kufa after Muslim bin Aqil and Hani bin Urwah had been killed. I saw them being dragged by their legs into the market-place.”

We went on to join al-Husain, peace be on him, and we were traveling close to him until he stopped at al-Thalabiyya in the evening. We caught up with him (at Thalaba)[1] when he stopped and we greeted him. He returned our greeting.

“May God have mercy on you,” we said, “we have news. If you wish, we will tell it to you publicly or if you wish, secretly.”

He looked at us and at his followers.

“There is no veil for these men,” he answered.

“Did you see the rider whom you were near, yesterday evening?”

“Yes,” he answered, “I had wanted to question him.”

“We have got the news from him and spared you (the trouble of) questioning him,” we said, “He was a man from our (tribe), of sound judgment, honesty and intelligence. He told us that he had only left Kufa after Muslim and Hani had been killed, and he had seen them being dragged by their legs into the market-place.”[2]

“We belong to God and to Him we shall return; may God have mercy on them both,” said al-Husain, and he repeated that several times.[3]

“We adjure you before God,” we exhorted him, “for your own life and for your House that you do not go from this place, for you have no one to support you in Kufa and no Shia. Indeed we fear that such men (will be the very ones who) will be against you.”

“What is your opinion,” he asked, looking towards the sons of Aqil, “now that Muslim has been killed?”

“By God,” they declared, “we will not go back until we have taken our vengeance  

[1] Thalabiyya is a station on way from Mecca to Kufa after Shaqooq and before Khazimiya. It is at 2/3 distance. Mojam al-Buldan 2/78)
[2] Al-Irshad, Pg. 75
[3] Ad-Darul Maslook 1/111

or have tasted (the death) which he tasted.”

Al-Husain, peace be on him, came near us and said: “There is nothing good (left) in life for these men.”[1]

Then the Holy Imam recited these couplets:

“I shall go and death cannot degrade a man if he has true intention and he fights Jihad like a Muslim.

Then if I die I shall not be regretful and if I remain alive I shall not be condemned. For you O man, the only thing to regret is humiliation and degradation.”[2]

Imam (‘a) moved forward, his face aglow with exaltation while he had now become certain that he was heading towards a victory that nothing shall equal it. He went on till he had fulfilled the divine duty with sincerity and devotion just as before him, his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s) had fulfilled it.”

News of Abdullah’s Martyrdom

When the Imam reached Zubala he received the dreadful news that his messenger, Abdullah bin Yaqtar has been murdered. His Eminence had sent him to meet Muslim bin Aqil. But he was apprehended by the policemen at Quddisiya and sent under custody to Ibn Marjana. When he was taken to that filthy man, Ibn Ziyad screamed at him, “Go atop the pulpit and curse that liar son of liar and then come down so that I may take decision regarding you…”

Ibn Marjana thought that he would do as directed and he was not aware of the fact that he was a nobleman without a peer and that he shall exalt the word of God in the world through this.

That great warrior ascended the pulpit and raised his voice of daring and said: “O people! I am the messenger from Husain, son of Fatima to you that you help him against Ibn Marjana, the filthy one, son of the filthy one whom Allah has cursed.”[3] Then he began to curse and denounce Ibn Ziyad; he related the evil deeds of Bani Umayyah and urged the people to support the beloved grandson of Allah’s Apostle (s). Ibn Ziyad was absolutely infuriated and ordered that Abdullah be thrown from the palace roof just as Qais bin Mus-har Saidawi had been.

Ibn Ziyad’s mercenaries took Abdullah to the roof of the palace and threw him down and his bones were smashed, but there still remained the last breath of life when the lowly beast, Abdul Malik Lakhmi moved towards him in order to cut off his head so that it may be presented to his master, Ibn Ziyad and earn his proximity. When he was told that that had been a shameful thing to do and he was blamed for it, he said: “I wanted to relieve him (of his suffering).”

[1] Al-Irshad, Pg. 74
[2] Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 548-549
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/379

When the news of his martyrdom reached Imam (‘a) it shocked him a great deal and he became hopeless of this world. At that time he summoned his companions and all those who had joined him for obtaining booties – and not for truth. When they were all present he addressed them: “So to say: Our followers have withdrawn support from us. Those of you who prefer to leave, may leave freely (without guilt) and my allegiance shall no more be upon them.”

The people began to disperse from him to right and left until there were only left with him those followers who had come with him from Medina, and a small group of those who had joined him. Husain (‘a) had done that because he realized that the Arabs who had followed him had only followed him because they thought that he was going to a land where the inhabitants’ obedience to him had already been established. And he did not want them to accompany him without being fully aware of what they were going to.[1] If the Imam had been in pursuit of kingdom and power he would not have talked about his position so openly. His Eminence told them that whoever accompanied him will not get any wealth or position but he would be stepping into the fields of Jihad and by gaining martyrdom he shall become eligible for salvation. If His Eminence had been in quest of rulership, in those difficult hours when he was in need of helpers and supporters, he would not have spoken of such matters.

The Imam, time and again advised the people of his Ahle Bayt to leave him and this was only to make them fully aware of his position and then step into fighting and in action also they be the best of men and most steadfast in the way of defending the truth to follow him, while their souls are full of faith in Allah and sincerity for Jihad in His way.

Dream of Imam Husain (‘a)

During the noon, Imam (‘a) became drowsy, according to the narrator:

We set out at once with him and he became drowsy while he was on his horse’s back. He woke up, saying: “We belong to God and to Him we will return. Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds.”

He did that twice or three times, then his son, Ali bin al-Husain approached him and asked: “Why are you praising God and repeating the verse of returning to Him?”

“My son,” he answered, “I nodded off and a horseman appeared to me, riding a horse and he said: ‘Men are traveling and the fates travel towards them.’ Then I  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/42. Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/379. Waseelatul Maal Pg. 189. Abul Fida, Tarikh 1/190. Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/11. And in Rauzatul Ayaan Akhbar Mashaheeruz Zamaan, Pg. 67 it is mentioned that when the Imam permitted the people to leave him they dispersed from him and except for 42 men from his Ahle Bayt none remained.
It is mentioned in Tarikh Tabari 5/399: Those who accompanied the Imam from Medina dispersed from him when he informed them of the killing of Abdullah bin Yaqtar which in our view is a mistake of Tabari; because while coming from Mecca the Imam did not pass by Medina but he implied those who were with him from Medina to Mecca or those who joined him on the way.

knew it was our own souls announcing our deaths to us.”[1]

“Father,” asked (the youth), “does God regard you as evil? Are we not in the right?”

“Indeed (we are),” he answered, “by Him to Whom all His servants must return.”

“Father,” said (the youth), “then we need have no concern, if we are going to die righteously.”

“May God give you the best reward a son can get for (his behavior towards) his father,” answered al-Husain, peace be on him.[2]

Encounter with Hurr

He, peace be on him, went on from Batn al Aqaba until he stopped at Sharaf (for the night). At dawn he ordered his boys to get water and more (for the journey). Then he continued from there until midday. While he was journeying, one of his followers exclaimed: “God is greater (Allaahu Akbar)!”

“God is greater (Allaahu Akbar)!” responded al-Husain, peace be on him. Then he asked: “Why did you say Allaahu Akbar?”

“I saw palm-trees,” answered the man.

“This is a place in which we never see a palm-tree,” a group of his followers asserted.

“What do you think it is then?” asked al-Husain, peace be on him.

“We think it is the ears of horses,” they answered.

“By God, I think so too,” he declared. Then he said: “(So that) we can face them in one direction (i.e. so that we are not surrounded), we should put at our rear whatever place of refuge (we can find).”

“Yes,” he said to him, “there is Dhu Husam[3] over on your left. If you reach it before them, it will be (in) just (the position) you want.” So he veered left towards it and we went in that direction with him. Even before we had had time to change direction the vanguard of the cavalry appeared in front of us and we could see them clearly. We left the road and when they saw that we had moved off the road, they (also) moved off the road towards us. Their spears looked like palm branches stripped of their leaves and their standards were like birds’ wings. Al-Husain ordered his tents (to be put up) and they were erected. The people came up; (there were) about one thousand horsemen under the command of al-Hurr b. Yazid al-Tamimi. (It was) during the heat of midday (that) he and his cavalry stood (thus) facing al-Husain, peace be on him. Al-Husain, peace be on him, and his followers were all wearing their turbans and their swords (ready to fight).

[1] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/13
[2] Maqatilut Talibeen, Pg. 112. Ad-Darul Maslook 1/109. Al Futuh 5/123
[3] Dhu Husam is a mountain in that area.

“Provide people with water and let them quench their thirst and give their horses water to drink little by little,” al-Husain ordered his boys. They did that and they began filling their bowls and cups and took them to the horses. When a horse had drunk three or four or five draughts, the water was taken away and given to another horse-until they had all been watered.[1]

The Imam was fully prepared in his journey because he was able to suffice in giving water to 1000 riders and their beasts and this was in addition to other rations and provisions they were carrying.

Anyway, the Imam observed generosity with Hurr’s battalion that had arrived to fight the Holy Imam and he saved them from death of thirst. Historians say: Ali bin Taan Muharibi was a member of that battalion who has reported about the kindness and lofty morals of the Imam and his action of helping them as follows:

I was with al-Hurr on that day, I was among the last of his followers to arrive. When al-Husain, peace be on him, saw how thirsty both I and my horse were, he said: “Make your beast (rawiya) kneel.” I thought rawiya meant water-skin so he said: “Cousin, make your camel (jamal) kneel.” I did so. Then he said: “Drink.” I did so, but when I drank, water flowed from my water-skin.

“Bend your water-skin,” said al-Husain. I did not know how to do that. He came up (to me) and bent it (into the proper position for drinking). Then I drank and gave my horse to drink.

This exalted nature and greatness of soul did not move those fighters and they were not a bit impressed by these lofty morals. But Hurr, who was having a sensitive conscience, was highly touched by this behavior which was instrumental in making him join the Imam and being martyred in his service finally.

Imam’s sermon

Imam (‘a) welcomed the units of that battalion and delivered to them a sermon in which he clarified his position that he had not come to fight. Rather messengers and letters had been sent to him that urged him join their senders and the Imam has responded positively to these requests. After praise and glorification of the Almighty, His Eminence said:

People, I did not come to you until your letters came to me, and they were brought by your messengers (saying), ‘Come to us for we have no Imam. Through you may God unite us under guidance and truth.’ Since this was your view, I have come to you. Therefore give me what you guaranteed in your covenants and (sworn) testimonies. If you will not and (if you) are (now) averse to my coming, I will leave you (and go back) to the place from which I came.

The audience was unable to reply anything because many of them had written to the Imam inviting him to Kufa, and they had pledged allegiance to the Imam through his emissary, Muslim bin Aqil…the time of prayer arrived. His Eminence  

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/400-401, Maqrizi, Khatat 2/286

directed his Muezzin, Hajjaj bin Masruq to recite Azan and Iqamah for the Zuhr (noon) prayer. After this had been done the Imam asked Hurr, “Do you want to lead your followers in prayer?”

“No,” he replied, “but you pray and we will pray (following the lead of) your prayer.”

Al-Husain, peace be on him, prayed before them. Then he returned (to his tent) and his followers gathered around him. Al-Hurr went back to the place where he had positioned (his men) and entered a tent which had been put up for him. A group of his followers gathered around him while the rest returned to their ranks, which they had been in and which now they went back to. Each of them held the reins of his mount and sat in the shade (of its body).

At the time for the afternoon (Asr) prayer, al-Husain, peace be on him, ordered his followers to prepare for departure. Then he ordered the call to be made, and the call for the Asr prayer was made, and the Iqamah. Al-Husain, peace be on him, came forward, stood and prayed.

Imam’s Discourse

After the Imam concluded the Asr prayer he stood up with determination among the soldiers of that battalion and a delivered a proper sermon. After praise and glorification of the Almighty, he said:

“People, if you fear God and recognize the rights of those who have rights, God will be more satisfied with you. We are the House of Muhammad and as such are more entitled to the authority (Wilayah) of this affair (i.e. the rule of the community) over you than these pretenders who claim what does not belong to them. They have brought tyranny and aggression among you. If you refuse (us) because you dislike (us) or do not know our rights, and your view has now changed from what came to us in your letters and what your messengers brought, then I will leave you.”

By this sermon, the Imam called them towards the obedience of God and following of the callers to truth, the Imams of guidance, Ahle Bayt (‘a), because they were more worthy of it than Bani Umayyah who had spread injustice and oppression among them. In the same way he proposed to them that if they wanted to change their decision and break their allegiance the Imam was prepared to go back.

Hurr, who was completely ignorant of the political situation in Kufa as he was away at that time said:

“By God,” declared al-Hurr, “I know nothing of these letters and messengers which you mention.”

“Uqbah bin Siman,” al-Husain, peace be on him, called to one of his followers, “bring out the two saddle-bags in which the letters to me are kept.”

He brought out two saddle-bags which were full of documents, and they were put before him.

“We are not among those who wrote these letters to you,” said al- Hurr.

Argument between His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and Hurr

A heated argument occurred between the Imam and Hurr because Hurr said to the Imam:

“We have been ordered that when we meet you we should not leave you until we have brought you to Kufa to Ubaidullah.”

“Death will come to you before that (happens),” al-Husain, peace be on him, told him.

The chief of the nobles had refused to give allegiance to Yazid, then how could he pay the oath to Ibn Marjana, the dirty son of the dirty father? How could he become his prisoner? In that case it would be better for him to be killed at the hands of Hurr…

He ordered his followers, “Get up and get mounted.”

They got mounted and (then) waited until their women had been mounted.

“Depart,” he ordered his followers.

When they set out to leave, the men (with al-Hurr) got in between them and the direction they were going in.

“May God deprive your mother of you,” said al-Husain, peace be on him, to al-Hurr, “What do you want?”

“If any of the Arabs other than you were to say that to me,” retorted al-Hurr, “even though he were in the same situation as you, I would not leave him without mentioning his mother being deprived (of him), whoever he might be. But by God there is no way for me to mention your mother except by (saying) the best things possible.”

“What do you want?” al-Husain, peace be on him, demanded.

“I want to go with you to the governor, Ubaidullah,” he replied.

“Then by God I will not follow you.”

“Then by God I will not let you (go anywhere else).”

These statements were repeated three times, and when their conversation was getting more (heated) al-Hurr said: “I have not been ordered to fight you. I have only been ordered not to leave you until I come with you to Kufa. If you refuse (to do that), then take any road which will not bring you into Kufa nor take you back to Medina, and let that be a compromise between us while I write to the governor, Ubaidullah. Perhaps God will cause something to happen which will relieve me from having to do anything against you. Therefore take this (road) here and bear to the left of the road (to) al Udhayb and al-Quddisiya.”

Al-Husain, peace be on him, departed and al-Hurr with his followers (also) set out traveling close by him.[1]

[1] Ibne Athir, Kamil 4/46-48. Tabari, Tarikh 5/401-403

A Fabricated report

Among the fabricated reports that lack a proper source is what Bustani has narrated. The text of his report is as follows: “When Husain approached Kufa he came across Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi who had been dispatched by Ibn Ziyad with 1000 horsemen. He said, “Ubaidullah has sent me to keep watch over your activities. And I have been told that if I find you I must not let you out of my sight or take you to him. I do not like to be involved in such a matter regarding you, so you take up another route and go wherever you like. I will tell Ibn Ziyad that your route was different from mine and I adjure you by the name of Allah for your sake and the sake of those who accompany you.”

Husain (‘a) altered his route and along with his entourage returned to Hijaz. He set out that night. When it was morning he met Hurr and Husain asked him, “What has brought you here?” He replied, “Someone complained about me to Ibn Ziyad that after apprehending you I allowed you to go free. He wrote to me that I must find you and not let you go out of sight till you come with the soldiers…”[1]

The above narration is fabricated because the encounter of the Imam with Hurr did not take place near Kufa. It was en route at the place named “Sharaaf.” In addition to this Hurr did not suggest to the Imam that he could go wherever he liked. Rather he had received strict orders from Ibn Ziyad to apprehend the Imam and as we have said, and take him to Kufa. This matter is agreed upon by all historians and writers of accounts of Imam’s martyrdom.

Error of Ibn Anba

Among the concocted things is the account of Ibn Anba Nisaba who has stated as follows: “Hurr wanted to take the Imam to Kufa forcibly but the Imam did not agree. He changed his route to go to Yazid bin Muawiyah in Shaam. And when he reached Kerbala they stopped him and three thousand mercenaries under the command of Umar Ibn Saad tried to take the Imam to Kufa, so that he may obey Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad. But the Imam refused to do so. He again set out towards Yazid and they obstructed his way, and then began to fight with him.”[2]

None of the historians has acknowledged the veracity of this report and they all are unanimous that the Imam stuck to his decision to refuse allegiance of Yazid. And if it had been to the contrary he would not have taken up arms against Yazid.

Discourse of the Holy Imam (‘a)

When the Imam’s caravan reached Baiza, His Eminence delivered a discourse to Hurr and his men describing his views about his uprising against Yazid. He invited those people to help and support him. After praise and glorification of God he said:

“O people! The Prophet has said, that when you see an oppressive ruler legitimizing that which has been prohibited by Allah and breaking His covenant,

[1] Bustani, Dairatul Ma’rif 7/48
[2] Umdatut Talib, Pg. 192

and opposing the customs of the Prophet, and he behaves unjustly and oppressively with Allah’s servants, then if a person does not oppose him through his word or deed, it is incumbent upon Allah to place that person on the status of that oppressor. Beware that these statesmen (of Bani Umayyah) have adhered to the commands of Satan and disobeyed the orders of Allah, and have made corruption the custom of the day. They have gathered the rights at one place and have reserved the treasury of Muslims (Baitul Mal) for themselves, and permitted the prohibitions of Allah and forbade that which is allowed by Him. I am more worthy among all the men to stop and oppose them. You sent your letters to me, and your messengers too, saying that you have taken the oath of fealty to me and promised that you would not hand me over to my enemies nor forsake me. Then if you (still) persist on your allegiance, then you are on the right. I am Husain, the son of Ali and Fatima the daughter of the Prophet of Allah (s). My life is associated with you and my family with yours, and you should be sympathetic towards me. And if you do not do so and have committed breach of trust, while having taken off the pledge of allegiance from your necks, then I swear by my life, that this is nothing new from you. You have done the same with my father, brother and cousin Muslim (bin Aqil); the one who falls prey to your deception turns helpless. You have let go your share from your hands and have toppled up your fortunes. The one who committed breach of trust shall himself face deceit, and very soon Allah will make me independent of you. Peace be upon you and Allah’s Mercy and Abundance.”

This brilliant discourse had numerous important points. Some of them are as follows:

First: His Eminence had taken up arms against Yazid in order to fulfill the religious duty he had been entrusted with. Because Islam did not accept a tyrant ruler and it has made it incumbent to confront him and whosoever does not undertake Jihad is a partner in his oppressive and unjust actions.

Second: His Eminence has condemned the Umayyads and severely criticized their policies which were based on obedience of Satan and disobedience of the Beneficent God, committing transgression and non-fulfillment of divine commands, usurping public wealth for themselves, considering lawful as unlawful and unlawful as lawful.

Thirdly: His Eminence, more than others, was more eligible to act in order to change the present situation which was a mortal danger for Islam because His Eminence (‘a) was the one having the greatest responsibility in accepting this important duty.

Fourthly: His Eminence (‘a) proposed to them that were he to obtain control he would consider himself as one of them and consider their family members as his own family members without there being any difference in their status.

Fifthly: If they broke their allegiance and disregarded the pledges they had given, it was nothing surprising, because previously they had broken the pledges they

offered to his father, brother and cousin and by this they lost an important benefit and deprived themselves from success.

By this discourse the Imam clarified the matters and spread rays of light for them. He invited them to reform themselves to stay in its shade so that they may remain in it in peace. When Hurr heard the discourse of His Eminence he glanced at him and said:

“I remind you (before) God to (think of) your life; for I testify that you will be killed if you fight.”

“Do you think that you can frighten me with death?” said al- Husain, peace be on him, “Could a worse disaster happen to you than killing me? I can only speak (to you) as the brother of al-Aws said to his cousin when he wanted to help the Apostle of God, may God bless him and grant him and his family peace. His cousin feared for him and said: ‘Where are you going, for you will be killed?’ but he replied:

“I will depart for there is no shame in death for a young man, whenever he intends (to do what is) right and he strives like a Muslim,

(Who) has soothed righteous men through (the sacrifice of) his life, who has scattered the cursed and opposed the criminal.

If I live, I will not regret (what I have done) and if I die, I will not suffer. Let it be enough for you to live in humiliation and be reviled.”[1]

When Hurr heard that he drew away from him and he realized that the Imam was determined to lay down his life and sacrifice anything for the sake of his aim of universal reform.

Some people of Kufa join Imam (‘a)

When the Imam arrived at Udhayb Hijanaat, four people joined the Imam’s party. They were astride their camels and had a horse belonging to Nafe bin Hilal. Except for them none from the people of Kufa came forward to welcome His Eminence, Husain (‘a); they were as follows:

  1. Nafe bin Hilal Muradi

  2. Amr bin Khalid Saidawi

  3. Saad, slave of Amr bin Khalid

  4. Majma bin Abdullah Abadi, from Madhij

Hurr tried to stop them from joining His Eminence, Husain but the Imam scolded him, “In that case I shall defend them just as I would defend myself. They are my helpers and supporters. You promised me that you will not take any action against me before you receive Ibn Ziyad’s letter.”

Hurr left them alone and they joined the Holy Imam. His Eminence accorded them  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/49, and Tabari 5/403-404

a warm welcome and asked them about the people of Kufa. They said, “As for the nobles, their bribes have become inflated and their coffers are filled up so that their loyalties may be obtained and their support may be acquired. They have united in their enmity towards you. They have not written to you except that they make profit from you; as for other people, their hearts are with you but their swords shall be drawn against you.”[1]

These sentences are having many important points as follows:

  1. The regime has purchased the consciences of nobles and upper class people of Kufa through cash bribes and lured them with posts and power. They in turn have become united to confront the Imam. The Umayyads were experts in such type of deception and they lured the noble men of Kufa towards themselves in every way possible. As for the commoners, they beat them with lashes on their backs and burnt them in the fire of their oppression.

  2. The nobles of Kufa had written to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) urging him to join them in Kufa not because they regarded his aim to be just and they considered the beliefs of Umayyads wrong. They invited Imam Husain (‘a) so that they may make profits through him and get into good books of Bani Umayyads and obtain wealth from them. They had threatened the Bani Umayyads that: If you don’t share your wealth with us, we shall join the party of Husain (‘a). Their letters to Imam (‘a) were a means to obtain monetary wealth.

  3. The commoners were such that they were inwardly in support of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) but practically following their leaders without there being any kind of determination or intention of their own to follow the dictates of their conscience. They served as mercenaries of the regime and as their rammers.

These were some important points present in the saying of those people and it shows their deep insight about the problems of their society.

With Tirmah

Tirmah joined the Imam en route and traveled with for a period. Imam (‘a) glanced at his companions and asked, “Is there anyone among you who is knowledgeable about the route?”

Tirmah bin Adi Tai turned to His Eminence and said, “I know the way.”

“Lead us.”

Tirmah began to move ahead of the caravan of the Purified Progeny while he was in deep grief. In a sorrowful voice he began recite the song of the camel riders (Haddi):[2]

“O, my she-camel! Do not be distressed about my browbeating and convey me to my destination before dawn break.

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/381-382
[2] ‘Haddi’ is a song that Arab camel drivers sing to spur their mounts. (Tr.)

Along with the best youths and passengers from the family of the Prophet, worthy of pride.

Bright faced leaders, faces like flowers hit by darkened spears.

They slash with wielding swords to reach those who are having the best family and roots.

Having honorable ancestors and wide chests as the Almighty has brought them for the best assignment.

May the Almighty keep them safe forever as He is the One Who gives both profit and harm.

Bestow to my master, Husain, victory over the oppressors of the remaining infidels.

On those two accursed ones from the progeny of Abu Sufyan; Yazid who is always drunk.

And busy in obscene and wanton acts and Ibn Ziyad, that impure son of a dirty father.”[1]

The camels began to move faster under the influence of this sorrowful dirge while the eyes of the companions of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and his Ahle Bayt were filled with tears. They said Amen to the supplication of Tirmah for help and support of His Eminence, Husain (‘a).

Dr. Yusuf Khalif has explained the above poetic piece in the following way: “The Rajaz is perhaps the first Kufic piece of poetry where it openly speaks about Husain (‘a). It shows the simplicity of the poet’s belief and reliance. And that which is more than that, to speak well of it and the welcome for that dear guest who has arrived at their place and they have come out to welcome them. The reciter of Rajaz urges his camels to move forward fast so that they may reach that dear guest. And that he may complete their duty of sincere hosting and fulfill their praises for them. And that seriousness and merits that people know about him, they may be related to these qualities. Because he, near him has true awe and respect. He is honorable, noble and generous…as these guests are not ordinary men. He is the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s) and the one who is the channel of receiving divine bounties; thus it is the best action. The poem concludes with extolling of their praise and also invocates the Almighty in a natural manner as the poet is having devotion and sincerity towards them. Finally he prays that God Almighty may take care of them forever.”[2]

At that time Tirmah remarked to the Holy Imam, “I see that no one is with you. If except for those who are with you no one else fights you there would still be problems for you. Then how was it possible that one day before I left Kufa, I saw that the streets of Kufa were full of people. I asked about them. I was told that they  

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/382-383. Al Futuh 5/140-141
[2] Hayatush Sha’ar fil Kufa, Pg. 373

were going to be sent for Husain. I adjure you by the name of God, do not at all move towards them.”[1]

But where could the Imam return? And where could be go? While all the lands were under the control of Umayyads. His Eminence has no choice but to continue his journey to Iraq. Tirmah suggested to His Eminence to go with him to Koh Bani Tai and assured the Holy Imam that 20000 persons from the Tai tribe would fight for him. But the Imam refused the offer which could not be guaranteed. Tirmah sought the permission of the Holy to go to his family, get provisions and return to help His Eminence. Imam (‘a) permitted him and he headed to his family, stayed there for some days and was returning when at Adheeb Hajaanat he received the news of the martyrdom of Imam. He began to cry in remorse as he had lost the opportunity to achieve martyrdom in the company of the beloved grandson of Allah’s Messenger (s)[2]

With Ubaidullah bin Hurr

The Imam’s caravan now passed by Bani Maqatil.[3] Imam (‘a) arrived over there. Near the place they had halted was a tent outside which, in the front, spears had been fixed in the ground indicating the valor and courage of the owner of the tent. Horses could also be seen before it. Imam (‘a) inquired who the owner of the tent was. He was told that it belonged to Ubaidullah bin Hurr. His Eminence sent Hajjaj bin Masruq Jofi to meet him. He went out at once and Ubaidullah bin Hurr told him, “What has brought you here?”

“The Almighty Allah has sent you an honor as a gift?”

“What is that?”

“This is Husain Ibn Ali (‘a) who has summoned you to help him. Thus if you fight for him you will receive reward and if you die you shall achieve martyrdom.”

“I did not leave Kufa but for the fear that Husain (‘a) would arrive while I were staying there and do not help him. Because, there he neither has Shias nor helpers as all of them have fallen to materialism except those whom the Almighty Allah has guarded.”

Hajjaj returned and conveyed the message to Imam (‘a). It was upon him to complete the argument on Ubaidullah and make him aware of the position he was in. So the Imam, accompanied by some persons from Ahle Bayt (‘a) went over to him personally.

Ubaidullah rose up to welcome Imam Husain (‘a) in the most respectful way while he was absolutely awed by the presence of the Holy Imam. He used to later remark about his encounter in the following way:

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/373
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/206-207
[3] Khwarizmi in his Maqtal Vol. 1, Pgs. 228-229 says: The encounter of the Imam with Ubaidullah bin Hurr was between Thalaba and Zarood.

“I had not seen anyone more elegant and attractive than Husain and indeed I have not pitied anyone more than him when I saw him going surrounded by his young children. I looked at his beard and found it as black as the crow’s wing, I asked him, ‘Is it naturally black or you have dyed it?’ He replied, ‘O son of Hurr, Old age has come upon me all of a sudden.’ Then I understood that he had dyed it.”[1]

Imam (‘a) discussed with him the present circumstances and political matters. After that he requested him to enlist his support, “O son of Hurr, your townspeople wrote to me that they were ready to help me and they invited me to join them, so I have come. But I find that the view they claimed to hold is not there anymore. Because they have cooperated in the murder of my cousin, Muslim and his followers and they have unified in obedience to Ibn Marjana, Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad… O son of Hurr, know that the Almighty Allah shall punish you for the sinful acts you have committed in the past. I call you towards repentance that would wash your sins…I call you to provide assistance to us, Ahle Bayt.”[2]

Ibn Hurr began to offer excuses and justifications and deprived himself from success, salvation and helping the grandson of the Prophet, saying, “By Allah, I know that whosoever accompanies you shall be fortunate in the Hereafter. But what help can I render you when I see that you don’t have any supporter in Kufa? I adjure in the name of God, please do not force me in this matter because my heart does not allow me to die. However, you may take this horse of mine, named Mulhaqa.[3] By Allah no one has rode it but achieved whatever he wanted. By Allah I never mounted it for something but that I obtained it. Till now whenever I have remained mounted and if someone wanted to catch me, I always used to outrace him.”[4]

What was the value of that horse in the Imam’s eyes? Therefore the Imam told him, “I did not come here to ask you for your horse and sword. I came to ask for your help and assistance. Thus if you are miserly over your life for me, I have no need of what you own. I am not the one to take the help of misguided persons.[5] And I advise you that if you can avoid hearing my call for help and my tragedy, avoid it, as by Allah, Allah shall cast into Hellfire anyone who hears my call for help and does not respond positively.”[6]

Ibn Hurr was ashamed and he said in a low voice: “It would never happen if Allah wills.[7] Although it never happens that after so many sins a person should get the divine opportunity to become Imam’s helper and get martyred in his company.  

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/384. Khazaanatul Adab, 2/158
[2] Al Futuh 5/129-131
[3] And it is mentioned in a report that “This horse of mine A’naan is saddled and ready”.
[4] Ahkbaar at-Tiwaal, Pg. 251. Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 549
[5] Al Futuh 5/132
[6] Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husain, Pg. 189-190
[7] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/51

Thus finally, Ibn Hurr was absolutely sorry and regretful of having suffered such a loss due to his refusal to help the son of the Messenger of Allah (s). He was very much disturbed and he has described his condition in his couplets that we have quoted in our discussion about those who regretted not helping Imam Husain (‘a).

With Amr bin Qais

Imam (‘a) met Amr bin Qais at Qasr Bani Maqatil who was accompanied by his cousin. They saluted the Imam and asked him, “O Aba Abdillah, have you dyed your hair?” His Eminence replied, “It is dyed, we Bani Hashim encounter graying of hair very soon.”

Then the Imam glanced at them and asked, “Are you willing to help me?”

“No, Sir! We are having large families and we are carrying people’s goods. We don’t know what would happen and we would not like to lose the trusts we hold.”

The Imam advised them and said, “Go away from here so that you don’t hear my call and see our multitude. Because for anyone who hears my cry for help and sees our multitudes but does not responds or helps us, it is the right upon Allah to throw him headlong into the fire (of Hell).”[1]

The Holy Imam (‘a) set out from the fort of Bani Maqatil and his caravan traveled in the burning sands. And along with it they were traveling in hardships and difficulties and bearing the cutting winds that caused them untold discomfort. 

Ibn Ziyad’s Letter to Hurr

Imam’s caravan continued its journey in the desert, sometimes turning to the right and sometimes to the left in such a way that the mercenaries of Hurr took them away from the wilderness towards Kufa and the caravan resisted them.[2] Suddenly a horse rider appeared racing towards them passing upon the sand. They waited for him and noticed that he was the messenger of Ibn Ziyad sent to Hurr.

That filthy man saluted Hurr but did not have the decency to greet His Eminence, Husain (‘a). He gave to Hurr, Ibn Ziyad’s letter in which it was mentioned: “So to say: When this letter reaches you and my messenger comes to you, make Husain come to a halt. But only let him stop in an open place without vegetation. I have ordered my messenger to stay with you and not to leave you until he brings me (news of) your carrying out my instructions. Greetings.”[3]

Ibn Marjana in his order to Hurr cancelled his previous mission of apprehending the Imam and getting him to Kufa under security. Perhaps he feared that the circumstances might change and the events may return to be against him again. Therefore he decided to besiege the Imam in the wilderness away from habitations so that people may not come out for his help and thus he may be eliminated easily.

[1] Kishi, Rijal Pg. 113, No. 181
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/51
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/385. Ibne Shahr Aashob, Manaqib 4/96

Hurr read out the letter to Imam Husain and the Imam wanted to move on to a village or a place where water is available. However Hurr stopped him and said, “I cannot allow you to do that because this man has been sent to keep an eye on me. If I do anything against the order it would be reported to Ibn Ziyad.”

“Son of the Apostle of God,” said Zuhair bin al-Qain, “I can only think that after what you have seen, the situation will only get worse. Fighting these people now will be easier for us than fighting those who will come against us after them. For by my life, after them will come against us such (a number) as we will not have the power (to fight) against.”

“I will not begin to fight against them,” answered Husain.

Zuhair continued, “Let us go up to these villages because it is a secure place and it is situated on the banks of Euphrates. Thus if they prevent us we shall fight with them as our fighting them shall be easier than against those who shall come after them.”

Imam asked about the place’s name. He was told that it was called Aqar. Imam considered it inauspicious and moved on from there. And he said, “O Allah, please grant me Your refuge from Aqar.”[1]

Hurr insisted upon the Imam to halt at that place and not to move from there. Imam had no choice but to halt there. So he looked at the place, then turned to his companions and asked. “What place is this?”


“The Imam’s eyes were filled with tears and he said, “O Allah, I seek Your refuge from pain and sorrow (Karb and Bala).”[2]

At that time he began to address his companions as he was now sure of facing a mortal danger because he said, “This is the place of sorrow and calamities. Here our mounts shall kneel down. This is the place where our litters shall arrive and the place where our blood shall be shed...”

The Imam recalled the past calamities and remembered especially the day when his father, Amirul Momineen, on his way to Siffeen had halted there and remarked, “This is the place where their litters shall arrive and here it is that their blood shall  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/52. Mojam al-Buldan 4/445
[2] Al Futuh 5/149. In Tadkiratul Khawaas Pg. 250 it is stated: When Husain (a.s.) was told that the place was Kerbala he picked up a handful of sand and smelt it. Then he said: “By Allah it is the same land about which Jibraeel informed the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) that I would be killed upon it.”
In Hayatul Haiwan of Damiri 1/87 it is mentioned: His Eminence asked the name of that place; he was told that it was called Kerbala. Then he said: “It is having ‘Karb’ (sorrow) and ‘Bala’ (calamity). My father passed this place on way to Siffeen and I was with him. He stood at this place and asked about it and its name was told to him. He said: Here they shall put down their loads, here their blood will be shed. They asked him about it. He replied: A group of Aale Muhammad will arrive at this place. Then His Eminence, Husain ordered that they unload their belongings there.
In Mukhtasar Safwatul Safwa, Pg. 262 it is mentioned in the same way.

be shed...” When the people asked His Eminence about this he replied, “Some members of the Progeny of Muhammad shall arrive here...”

The world had become worthless in the view of the Holy Imam. He had lost all hopes of worldly life and had become certain that his limbs shall be strewn on the sands of this land. Yet he continued to observe patience and surrendered himself willingly to whatever the Almighty had decreed for him.

With strength and determination, His Eminence, along with his companions and Ahle Bayt, began to fix the tents for the ladies of the house of prophethood in such a way that the tents of the companions and the tents of Ahle Bayt were surrounding them from the right and the left.

At that time the youths of Bani Hashim stepped forward to help the ladies alight from their mounts. They escorted them to their tents while those respected ladies were in a state of shock and anxiety as they began to feel that something terrible was to befall them in that place.

Location of Tents

The tents of Ahle Bayt (‘a) were fixed on the pure land, that is, to this day, its signs are still present there.[1] Sayyid Habtuddin Shahristani says, “Imam camped at a place far away from water where continuous battalions of amateur soldiers had surrounded them from all sides. They began from north-east to Bab-e-Sidra in north. In the same way they stretched from Bab-e-Zainabi towards the west and then to the direction of Qibla from the south. They resembled the shape of a semicircle that had besieged the beloved grandson of the Prophet (s).[2]

My friend, Ustad Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Kaliddar does not accept that the well-known site of Imam’s camp was that same place where Imam had halted. Rather the camp was further away near to the Husaini Hospital. And this matter also supports the military maneuvers and events of that time. Because it is necessary that the two parties should be separated by a distance of at least two miles as it is required for military actions. For example the space required for running of horses and other distances were also required. In spite of there being tents, the camp must be located far away from where arrows are fired. He has in the same way proved his theory with the help of some historical testimonies.[3]

Most probably the Imam’s camp was located at the present site or a little distance from it, because the large number of Umayyad armies that had come to confront the Imam made it seem a single cantonment that there could not have been much distance between them. There was no obvious demarcation between them, that there could be a distance of two miles between them.

The Umayyad army surrounded the Imam’s entourage. So much so that when Ibn Saad shot the first arrow and announced the commencement of battle and  

[1] Baghiyatun Nubla fee Tarikh Kerbala 2/6 written by Sayyid Abdul Husain in the library of the Defense Secretary, Sayyid Adil Kaliddar
[2] Nahzatul Husain (a.s.), Pg. 90
[3] Madinatul Husain 2/24

following his cue, his archers shot arrows, there was none in the party of the Imam that was not hurt by an arrow. Some arrows also hit the tents of ladies. Hence if there had been a great distance the ladies of Ahle Bayt would not have become targets of arrows.

That which proves this matter is that when Imam Husain (‘a) delivered a discourse for the army of Umayyads, the ladies present in the Imam’s camp were able to hear it and they began to lament because of it. If there had been considerable distance they would not have been able to hear the Imam’s discourse. There are other signs also that go on to prove that the Imam’s camp was situated at the place where it is generally believed to be.