In Kerbala

The caravan of the Purified Progeny halted and camped at Kerbala on Thursday, 2nd of Mohurrum 61 A.H.,[1] while a condition of distress and anxiety reigned upon them as they were now sure that a terrible disaster was to befall them. Imam knew the hardships of his mission and the terrible disasters that were to befall him had become clear to him.

Historians say: His Eminence gathered his Ahle Bayt and companions. Then he glanced at them with kindness and compassion knowing that very soon their bodies shall be cut up into pieces. He began to weep profusely and raised up his hands to pray to the Lord. He spoke in a confidential manner and complained about the great calamities that had surrounded him, and he said:

“O my Lord, we are the Progeny of Your Messenger, Muhammad (s) whom the Bani Umayyah forced out of the sanctuary of our grandfather. They banished us, persecuted and oppressed us. O Allah, take up our rights for us and make us victorious over the unjust people.”

Then he glanced at those stalwarts and said, “People are the slaves of the world and religion is like leftover food that clings to their tongue that as long as their life passes in comfort they follow it. But when they fall into hard times, very few remain religious.”[2]

What a brilliant statement it is, that describes the reality of the people in all the stages of history. Because they are slaves of material world in all times and in all the places but no kind of religious view was found in the depths of their consciences.

And whenever a storm of calamities falls on them they become disgusted of religion and they desert it...

Yes, religion is present in the very nature only for Imam Husain, the selected ones of Ahle Bayt and the companions of His Eminence that their sentiments were fused with it and their emotions were merged with it. Therefore they rushed forward to the fields of death so that their position may be exalted and that they may impart lessons in astonishing loyalty with regard to religion.

After praise and glorification of the Almighty the Imam addressed his companions, “So to say: No doubt you are aware of the gravity of the situation which you are witnessing yourselves here and now. Life has certainly changed disguises and its good has gone forever. This has continued till the remaining good in it amounts to  


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/385. The new moon of Muharram that year was on Wednesday. This is mentioned in Al Ifada min Tarikhul Aimmatus Saadah
[2] Abu Hilal Hasan bin Abdullah Askari in his book, As Sana’teen has quoted the statement of the Imam in this way: “People have become slaves of the world and religion is a meaningless thing on their tongues, till their life passes in comfort they follow it and when hardships befall them, very few remain religious.

the thin sediment at the bottom of a drinking vessel. Life is a mean food, like a pasture covered with bad grass. Do you not see that the truth is not followed and falsehood not discouraged? The faithful must certainly desire to meet his Lord righteously. I do not deem death other than martyrdom and life among the unjust other than degradation.”[1]

In these sentences the Imam has again spoken of the hardships and difficulties that fell upon His Eminence and he informed them that as much hardships increase His Eminence shall not hesitate in his determination and resolve for the establishment of truth for which he had stepped forward.

Imam (‘a) did not sermonize his companions to arouse their emotions or to attract their support. Because what could they have done for him while the armies had filled the desert and surrounded His Eminence. He spoke thus in order to make them aware of their responsibilities of establishing truth and to make them determined for an everlasting success and make them willing partners in this mission. While His Eminence had made the desire of death a part of his life, that nothing else could equal it.

When His Eminence concluded his discourse all his companions arose and expressed astonishing examples of loyalty and sacrifice for the sake of justice and truth...

The first one to speak up from his companions was Zuhair Ibn Qain. He was that valiant fighter who had no equal in the world. He said, “O son of Allah’s Messenger, we heard your discourse. If the world had remained for us and we had become immortals in it we would have given preference to fight for you rather than stay in it.”

These statements show the nobility of man in his march on the path of righteousness. Zuhair’s words imparted a great joy and satisfaction to the companions of the Holy Imam and he motivated them to loyalty and sacrifice.

Now another valiant companion of the Imam, Burair stood up, who had dedicated his life to the path of God. He addressed the Imam as follows, “O son of Allah’s Messenger, the Almighty Allah has bestowed a favor upon us through you that we should fight in your service and in your way our body is cut up into pieces. And in that case, on the Day of Judgment your grandfather should intercede for us.”

Burair was certain that his companionship to the Imam was a divine favor for him so that he may obtain the intercession of the Messenger of Allah (s).

After that Nafe also in the same way addressed his fortunate brothers. He said, “You know that your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s) was not able to imbue their hearts with his love nor were they able to become attached to what he (the Prophet) liked. Some of them were hypocrites who used to promise help to  


[1] Tibrani, Mojam 3/122, Biography of Imam Husain, Pg. 214. Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/217-218. Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/112. Hilyatul Awliya 2/39

him but secretly they betrayed his trust. In front of the Prophet they were sweeter than honey but on his back they were more bitter than Hanzal.[1] Till the time the Almighty Allah took him to Himself.

Your father’s circumstances were also somewhat like this. That some people helped him and on his side fought the Nakiseen, Qasiteen and Mariqeen. Till finally he met his end and joined the mercy of the Lord...

You also are in that condition with us. Anyone who breaks his pledge and leaves off allegiance has caused harm to himself and the Almighty Allah is needles of it. Thus lead us with determination and steadfastness, to the east or to the west. By Allah, we shall not step back from the destiny written by God for us. Nor are we frightened of meeting Allah. And we, on the basis of our aims and perception like what you like and hate what you hate.”[2]

Most companions of the Imam spoke in this way and the Imam thanked them for their sincerity and loyalty.

A man from Bani Asad waits for Imam (‘a)

As soon as the Imam halted at Kerbala, he was joined by a man from Bani Asad. But historians have not recorded the name of this person. His story is narrated by Uryan bin Haitham who says, “My father used to reside near the place where the incident of Taff occurred. Whenever we used to pass by that place we used to see a man of Bani Asad present there. My father asked him, “I see that you are always present here?”

He replied to my father, “I have heard that Imam Husain (‘a) shall be martyred at this place. I come here so that perhaps I may encounter him and along with him achieve martyrdom.”

When Husain was martyred, my father said, “Let us go and see if that Asadi man has also been killed.”

We came to the battlefield and searched among the corpses and found that Asadi man among those killed.[3]

He had achieved the grade of martyrdom in the service of the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s). He obtained the loftiest status near the great prophets, martyrs and righteous ones. And what nice companions they are.

The Imam’s letter to Ibn Hanafiyah

Imam (‘a) wrote a letter to his brother, Muhammad bin Hanafiyah and other persons of Bani Hashim from Kerbala. Therein he spoke of his death and the end which was very near. The text of that letter was as follows: “So to say: As if the world has not remained and the Hereafter remains as it was.”[4]


[1] A bitter fruit
[2] Muqarram, Maqtal, Pg. 193-194
[3] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/216-217
[4] Kamil az-Ziyaraat, Pg. 157, Chap. 23, H. 21

This is the briefest letter that especially speaks about those hardships that defeat patience.

With Harthima bin Salmi

Harthima bin Salmi joined the forces of Ibn Ziyad. When they reached Kerbala he remembered something he had forgotten. He was traveling with Amirul Momineen (‘a) in a journey of war when His Eminence passed through Kerbala and stopped at a tree under the shade of which he stood up to pray. After concluding the prayer he took a handful of sand, smelt it and said, “Alas for you, O dust! A group of people shall be killed upon you and shall enter Paradise without undergoing accounting.”

Harthima hurried to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and related to him what he had heard from his father.

Imam asked him, “Are with us or against us?”

“Neither with you nor against you. I have left my family behind.”

Imam advised him and ordered him to go away from Kerbala so that he may not have to witness the tragedy of Ahle Bayt and he told him, “Go away from here. By the One in Whose hand is the life of Husain, anyone who witnesses (without rendering any help) our killing today, shall enter Hell.”

Harithma fled from Kerbala and heard reports about the martyrdom of Imam (‘a)[1] while he himself had been deprived of martyrdom in the company of the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s).

Anas bin Harith Joins Imam (‘a)

A prominent and senior companion of the Prophet, Anas bin Harith joined the Imam and narrated to the Imam what he had heard from the Messenger of Allah (s) regarding him, that His Eminence had said, “This son of mine (that is His Eminence, Husain) shall be killed on a land called Kerbala. Thus whosoever of you sees him should help him.”

After that Anas remained in the service of Imam till he achieved martyrdom in his company.[2]

Ibn Ziyad’s letter to His Eminence, Husain (‘a)

When Ibn Ziyad was informed that Hurr has surrounded His Eminence, Husain (‘a) at Kerbala, he sent a letter to His Eminence that displayed his oppressive and arrogant nature. The text of that was as follows: “So to say: O Husain! I have been informed about your arrival at Kerbala. Amirul Momineen, Yazid has written to me that I must not sleep on a bed nor have my drinks till I have not conveyed you to the Kind and Informed Lord, or that you agreed to obey my orders and the command of Yazid!...”

O Ibn Marjana! You and your master, Yazid deserve not to be served with drinks  


[1] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/222-223. Waseelatul Maal fee idda manaqibul Aal, Pg. 179
[2] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/223-224

and you must come to your senses as you have committed every type of infamy in Islam.

When the Imam read Ibn Marjana’s letter, considering that transmogrified man to be worthless and weak, he threw down the letter and said, “Those who purchase the pleasure of men through the wrath of God, are never successful.”

Ibn Ziyad’s messenger asked the Imam to give a reply that he may convey to Ibn Ziyad. Imam (‘a) said, “I have no reply with me because, he is in fact, eligible for divine punishment.”

Ibn Ziyad’s messenger returned and told Ibn Marjana what the Imam had said. Ibn Ziyad was terribly infuriated and he prepared all the forces to fight the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s).

Deployment of the Kufan Army

When the news of deployment of army of Ibn Ziyad against Imam Husain (‘a) spread and it became common knowledge that His Eminence has been surrounded at Kerbala, a pall of gloom and dread descended on all gatherings of Kufa. Ibn Ziyad had spread such terror among the multitudes that they were horrified of their future because death was decreed merely on the basis of suspicion or allegation. Hence the people had no will of their own.

When Ibn Marjana apprehended the son of the conqueror of Mecca and the breaker of idols of Quraish, he realized his dreams and aspirations. So that by killing him he could gain proximity to the grandson of Abu Sufyan, that same leader of the group opposed to Islam. And that he may strengthen his relationship to Bani Umayyah that was based on the testimony of Abu Maryam, the wine-seller.[1]

Ibn Marjana spent all his time preparing for war and he resorted to various ways in arranging for dominance in the coming confrontation while the nobility had sold its conscience and they were surrounding Ibn Ziyad ready to offer their help to complete the program of hostilities.

Ibn Saad selected as Commander-in-chief

Ibn Marjana selected Ibn Saad to be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces that had been prepared to fight against the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s). Before we explain the causes of his appointment let us study some important matters:


[1] One day Muawiyah…told Abu Maryam Salooli in front of the people: With what do you testify? He replied: I testify that Abu Sufyan came to me and asked me for a prostitute. I told him: I don’t have anyone other than Sumaiyyah. He said: Bring her even if she is dirty and filthy. I brought that woman…! At that time Muawiyah made Ziyad as his brother and the son of his father, Abu Sufyan. (An-Nasaaih al-Kafiya leman Yatawalla Muawiyah Pg. 81)

Prophecy of Allah’s Messenger regarding Ibn Saad’s end

Ibn Saad happened to pass by the Messenger of Allah (s). When His Eminence saw him, he became disgusted with him and prophesied about his bad end: “He shall be with those who eat up the world with their tongues like the cow licks the ground.”[1]

Amirul Momineen (‘a) had also predicted similarly about Ibn Saad. Narrators say that His Eminence glanced at him and spoke to him. He found him to be the arrogant, one who considered truth worthless and who had the daring to resort to illegal acts. He said, “Woe by on you, O, Ibn Saad, how shall you be when you are in a situation when you have to choose between Paradise and Hell and you decide to choose Hell?”[2]

Saad’s hatred for his son Umar

When Saad heard the statement of the Messenger of Allah (s) regarding his son, he scolded him. Narrators say: “He instructed the executors of his will not to give anything to his son, Umar Ibn Saad.”[3]

Harun Rashid Curses Umar Saad

Harun Rashid cursed Umar Saad and decreed that he be considered an apostate and an outcast from religion. It is an interesting anecdote that deserves to be mentioned here:

Narrators say: Ishaq bin Ibrahim was brought as a captive to Harun Rashid. Ishaq was accused to have apostated from religion.

Ishaq told him: “O Amiral Momineen! I believe in Allah and all His messengers and prophets. I am not an apostate. My fault lies elsewhere.”

Rashid was surprised and he asked, “What is that?”

“Loyalty and devotion to you, Ahle Bayt. Can one who believes in love for you and considers it to be obligatory, be considered an apostate?”

Rashid smiled and ordered that the special execution mat and the sword be taken out for him.

Ishaq began to speak and he asked Harun:

“O Amiral Momineen! What is your view about Umar bin Saad, the killer of Husain? Who said: They say: The Almighty Allah created a Paradise and fire and punishment and arrests.”

Rashid bowed his head and thought about it for a long time, then he said, “May Allah curse Umar bin Saad as he had no faith in the Almighty Allah, in resurrection or in prophethood...O Ishaq, do you know from where this is taken?”

“Yes, O Amiral Momineen! It is taken from the poetry of Yazid bin Muawiyah...


[1] Ibne Qutaybah, Mukhtasar al-Buldan, Pg. 271
[2] Ayanush Shia 4/437
[3] Balawi, Alif Baa

“What did Yazid say?”

“He said:

O Alayya give me the goblet and speak up your thoughts as I do not like whispering secretly.

The statement of Abu Sufyan that was used in Uhad till these dirges began to be recited.

And by that word Amr wanted to get Ali but he escaped. But the old man Muawiyah managed to get.

Thus O young mother in red! If I died, you get married and do not wait for reunion after death.

Because whatever is said about resurrection is all useless talk that puts the heart to doubt.

And if people were not useless I would have seen Muhammad, with the pure wine that quenches the bones.

There is no difference in people that Muhammad has chosen a grave in Medina.

Often it is that the pasture stinks on the ground while its branches show the existence of the roots.

We shall be destroyed and no sign shall remain on the earth but the malice of the heart shall remain.”

Rashid was terrified and he said, “May Allah curse Yazid, who had no faith in Allah, the Day of Resurrection and prophethood. O Ishaq, do you know from where he has inherited these beliefs?”

“Yes, O Amiral Momineen! He has taken them from the poetry of his father, Muawiyah.”

“What did Muawiyah say?”

“He said:

Ask me about the monastery of Busra which is of old. Do not condemn me as there is no use of it.

Get up so that in the darkness we may establish a bright sun. Where there are goblets and cups and the luminosity of the stars.

Perhaps separation may call us and we have to go in such a condition that our souls are quenched with it.

What is present here, get hold of it and let go what is being promised. It is the way intelligent people act and delay will cause problems.

Before the nights return all borrowed things because all the dresses of the world are on hire.”

Rashid cursed Muawiyah and said the same things he had mentioned about Yazid.[1]


[1] Shaykh Mufid, Ath-Thaqib fil Manaqib, from the written manuscripts at the Imam Amirul Momineen (a.s.) Library

Ajali considers Ibn Saad a reliable narrator

Ajali has considered Umar Ibn Saad to be a reliable narrator and he says about him, “He has related traditions from his father and other people have narrated from him. He was a reliable Tabii (companion of a companion). He is the same person who killed Husain.”[1]

I don’t know how Ibn Saad was reliable when he had killed the beloved grandson of the Prophet and one who destroyed the Purified Progeny inspite of the fact that the Almighty Allah has made it incumbent on all Muslims to love them...?

Ajali has deviated from the path of truth due to his considering reliable, narrators who bore enmity to Ahle Bayt. In the same way he considered those who were loyal to Ahle Bayt (‘a) to be absolutely unreliable.

Righteous people and those who acted with piety in their religion used to condemn anyone who narrated from Ibn Saad. Once Aaizaar bin Hareeth related a tradition from Umar bin Saad. A person objected to him and said, “Do you not fear Allah? Are you narrating from Umar bin Saad?” Aaizaar wept and said, “I shall never do it.”[2] It is strange that Ibn Hajar has given the biography of Ibn Saad in his Tahdhib at-Tahdhib while he claimed that he was including only those narrators whom he considered reliable!

Habits and Nature of Ibn Saad

Ibn Saad did not have in himself any sort of noble trait or habit because he was by nature hard-hearted. There was not an iota of humanity or goodness in him. Some of his personal qualities were as follows:

A. Surrender to Governor’s Rule

Absolute dedication to the governor’s system was a prominent part of Ibn Saad. According to unanimous verdict of historians, he used to mix up with the ruling class and completely lose his balance for greed of obtaining position and rulership.

He subjected himself to hardships and sorrows in order to earn the confidence of Ibn Marjana. After having killed His Eminence, Husain (‘a) he had told Ibn Marjana, “By God, the sincerity I performed towards you with regard to the killing of Husain was such that if I had performed such sincerity for my father, I would have fulfilled his rights.”[3]

Ibn Saad did not have a stable personality or a noble intention. He was always inclined to follow the ruling class and he was always striving to earn their confidence and gain material benefits.


[1] Tahdhib at-Tahdhib 7/451. Mizanul Etedal 3/198
[2] Mizanul Etedal Pg. 198
[3] Tabari, Tarikh 5/467

B. Severe Greed for Rulership

Another important trait of his personality was his extreme greed for obtaining power and position of rulership. Historians say: He used to urge his father to enter politics as it was possible the people may become disinclined to Ali and Muawiyah and select him for caliphate. But his father refused to act in this way and he remained content with whatever he had.[1] When Ibn Ziyad appointed Ibn Saad as the governor of Rayy but upon the condition that he must go out to fight Husain (‘a) his family members heard him recite:

“Should I abandon the governorship of Rayy while it is my heart-felt desire or should I return with the sin of killing Husain?”

He believed that if he gets governorship of Rayy he would be able to spend his life in prosperity and comfort. That is why he committed such a terrible oppression in Islamic history.

C. Decadence

Decadence was another trait of Ibn Saad’s personality, because all the signs of nobility and respect had been destroyed. When Muslim bin Aqil stood as a prisoner before Ibn Ziyad, he asked Ibn Saad to hear his bequest but he refused in order to remain in the good books of Ibn Ziyad, till he was instructed by his masters to listen to Muslim’s will. Thus when Muslim made bequest to him in confidence, he at once turned to Ibn Ziyad and told him what Muslim had willed. Ibn Ziyad also objected to him about it and said, “The faithful would not betray you, but the traitor was confided in.”

Of his decadence was the fact that when His Eminence, Husain (‘a) had been martyred, he rushed forward to plunder his coat of mail, which he put upon himself at once. If he had the least nobility and honor he would not have plundered the corpse of the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s). Because, this action of his was a signal to his soldiers that they could freely plunder even the ladies of the household of prophethood and they did not even spare their veils and bed sheets.

D. Cowardice and Fearfulness

Ibn Saad had no sign of courage and bravery. He was cowardly, weak willed and lacked determination. When he was confronted by the problem of the Penitents, he was terrified completely. He never again slept in his house. He used to sleep in the governor’s palace so that he may be guarded by the palace guards. He used to be agitated all the time and spent sleepless nights. And when officers of Mukhtar attacked him he got up from his bed in a disturbed state. Due to the shock, instead of picking up his weapons he fell down and the soldiers killed him in his bed. And in this way was fulfilled the prayer of Husain (‘a) that: “May Allah have him beheaded in his bed.”


[1] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 7/282

What is surprising is that Khairuddin Zarkali used to consider him a brave commander.[1] If he was really as brave as Zarkali has said he would not have abandoned his family to seek refuge in the governor’s palace to dispel his fear and terror.

E. Doubt in Resurrection

Ibn Saad had no faith in resurrection; he was in doubt about it. As he has mentioned in his couplets he recited when he was selected to fight Imam Husain (‘a). He said:

“They say: The Almighty Allah has created a Paradise and a Fire, punishments and arrests.”

On the basis of this he neither had faith on accounting, nor on Paradise or Hell as Harun Rashid has said...

These were some traits of Ibn Saad that show him to be a transmogrified man sunk in evils and crimes.

Reasons for selection of Ibn Saad

Ibn Marjana selected him to lead the army against Imam Husain (‘a) in order to deceive the common people and gullible populace so that they may also take part in this venture because Ibn Saad was the son of the conqueror of Iraq and one of the six members of the Shura Committee instituted by Umar bin Khattab for the position of Islamic Caliphate. Also Ibn Saad belonged to Quraish and was somewhat related to the Imam. In addition to this, Ibn Ziyad was aware of his deviated views and weaknesses and he knew that except for him none could dare to commit this outrage.

Anxiety of Ibn Saad

Ibn Ziyad had appointed Ibn Saad for the governorship of Rayy[2] and areas of Dastabi and Dailam.[3]

After that he told him to proceed and fight against Imam Husain (‘a) but he wanted to be excused from it. But Ibn Ziyad threatened him that the governorship of Rayy shall be taken away from him. Ibn Saad asked for a night’s respite to make up his mind, which was granted.

Ibn Saad went home and spent a sleepless night thinking whether he should undertake war against the beloved grandson of the Prophet and earn everlasting degradation or he should excuse himself from this matter. In that case he would have to forgo the governorship of Rayy, while it was an ambition of his life, which  


[1] Zarkali, Al-Alaam 5/205
[2] Rayy is a famous and one of the large cities due to its beauty and excessive fruits and it is situated in Iran. Istakhri has said: After Baghdad no city is as populous as Rayy. And Asmai has said: It is the bride of the world and people traveled to it for business. This is mentioned in Mojam al-Buldan 3/117-186.
[3] Al-Ahkbaar at-Tiwaal, Pg. 253

would have guaranteed him a life of comfort and prosperity. His family heard him recite the following poem:

“Shall I give up the governorship of Rayy while it is my desire, or shall I soil my hands with the blood of Husain?

In killing him, nothing could stop me from being sent to Hell, while on the other hand the rulership of Rayy is something I desire most.”[1]

Those who tried to stop Ibn Saad

Historians say: Some well-wishers of Ibn Saad went to him and restrained him from going out to fight Husain (‘a). One of those who made such a suggestion was his nephew, Hamzah bin Mughairah bin Shoba, who told him, “O Uncle! If you march against Husain, you shall be a sinner in the view of Allah and you would have cut off relations with him. By Allah, if you give up your world and wealth it would be better for you than that you face the Almighty with responsibility of Husain’s murder.”[2]

Some other people also advised him and told him, “Fear Allah, do not do this.”[3] He tried to avoid the battle but he did not have the determination to forgo the governorship of Rayy, because he had become greedy for it and there was nothing which could make him forget it. When morning came he decided to lead the forces against the beloved grandson of the Prophet. He went to Ibn Marjana to inform him about his acceptance of the appointment. Ibn Ziyad also became pleased at his assent. This was so because the presence of Ibn Saad would assure that Ibn Ziyad would not be alone condemned for the elimination of Imam Husain (‘a) and if anyone other than Ibn Saad had assented, Ibn Ziyad would not have been as much elated.

Ibn Saad marched forward at the head of a 4000 strong army absolutely aware that he was going out to confront the Progeny of Allah’s Messenger (s), who were the best of people.

Ibn Saad reached Kerbala and joined the battalion under the command of Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi.

March Past

Ibn Marjana stood up to watch the armed units that had been raised to fight against His Eminence, Husain (‘a), in order to gauge their strength and the level of their preparation in taking part in battle.

Tirmah says: “A day before I departed from Kufa I saw such a large number of  


[1] Miraatul Jinaan 1/132. Yafai says: If it were said:
“Should I let go of the governorship of Rayy though I want it badly even though by killing Husain I return as a sinner.” This lamentation informs about the aim in a better way.
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/385-386
[3] Al Futuh 5/152

people gathered at the outskirts as I have never before seen a greater crowd. I inquired about it and was told that they have been gathered there so that they may be inspected then dispatched to fight Husain.”[1]

Ibn Ziyad had employed all the powers of his regime in this matter because he was absolutely terrified of changed circumstances in the future.

Speech of Ibn Marjana

The tyrant, Ibn Ziyad, ordered people to gather in the courtyard of the Great Mosque. Like frightened sheep, the people obeyed these orders and filled up the entire premises. Ibn Ziyad stood up before them and addressed them as follows:

“O people! You have tested the family of Abu Sufyan and found them as you had preferred. This is Amirul Momineen, Yazid, whom you have found to be of good nature and fine mannered. He is good to the subjects and he rewards according to rightfulness. In his time, the roads are safe as it was during the time of his father, Muawiyah. His son, Yazid has respect for the people and he has made them needless through wealth. He has increased your incomes by a hundred percent. He has ordered me to obtain that income for you. And send you to fight his enemy, Husain. Thus you must listen to him and obey him.”[2]

Ibn Ziyad spoke in such a convincing way that they became submissive to him because he promised them wealth and persuaded them to take part in the most terrible crime of the history of humanity.

He ordered Haseen bin Numair Tamimi, Hijaar bin Abjar and Shimr bin Zil Jaushan that they march forward to fight the Imam. After that he appointed at the command those who had outstanding capabilities. They set out of Kerbala to support Ibn Saad.

Samrah encouraged people to fight the Imam

Samrah bin Jundab was that liar companion who played a very important role in motivating people to join in the battle against the son of Allah’s Messenger (s), because he was the Police Commissioner of Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad. So he was at the forefront in recruiting people for the battle of Kerbala.[3]

Shabth bin Rabi feigned Illness

Shabth bin Rabi, the hypocrite did not like to march out against Imam Husain (‘a) so he feigned illness. But this did not remain concealed from Ibn Ziyad. He sent message to Shabth that: My messenger has informed me about your illness. I fear you might not be of those that when they are with the believers they say: We have accepted faith and when they are alone with their satans they say: we are with you and they make fun of the Muslims. Thus if you obey us you must come immediately. Shabth came to him in the darkness of the night so that he may not discern the absence of illness. Then he responded positively to the proposal of Ibn Ziyad to lead a battalion against Imam Husain (‘a).


[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/406
[2] Al Futuh 5/157
[3] Sharh Nahjul Balagha 4/88-89

Public Mobilization

Ibn Ziyad issued general orders to mobilize people or force them to take part in battle against the Imam. Before they could report in the first cantonment he issued the decree: “No one should remain even from the nobles, elders, traders and residents but that they must all join us in the cantonment. Whoever is found lacking in this would not have any guarantee of security and help.”[1]

He ordered that this order be publicized and instructed Kathir Ibn Shahab Harithi, Muhammad bin Ashath, Qaqa bin Suwaid bin Abdur Rahman Munqari and Asmaa bin Kharja Fuzari to go out among the people and urge them to obedience and threaten them with dire consequences. They set out in Kufa and began to fulfill their duty.[2] After that they joined the cantonment. But Kathir bin Shahab remained in Kufa to restrain the people from helping the Imam and to threaten those who were not willing to go out to fight the Imam. The police arrested a man from Hamadan tribe who had come to Kufa in connection with his inheritance. He was brought to Ibn Ziyad and he condemned him to death. When people saw this, they all rushed out to join the army and not a single grown-up man remained in Kufa.[3]

This was the policy of Ibn Ziyad to persuade the people to join the forces against Imam Husain (‘a). And it was the condition through which he could dominate the circumstances perfectly and did not leave anyone free.

Strict Surveillance on Kufa

Ibn Ziyad applied very strict surveillance on Kufa so that no one is able to go out to help the Imam. He appointed spies and guards and designed very strict surveillance machinery. Whosoever was accused for any act against the administration was immediately apprehended and cast into prison or executed mercilessly. Abdullah bin Yasar used to urge people to support the Imam and he restrained people from helping the members of the Umayyad clan. Ibn Ziyad was informed of this and immediately wanted him to be arrested. But he went into hiding and agents went out to search for him till he was finally apprehended by Ubaidullah bin Hurr. He was taken to Sabakha and executed there.[4] He was other than Ubaidullah bin Hurr Johfi.

Ibn Ziyad appointed guards and installed armories around Kufa and kept them in charge of Zajar bin Qais. Also between them and the army of Ibn Saad were kept ready mounted messengers to convey news of whatever may occur.[5]

Flight of Soldiers

The majority of soldiers of Ibn Ziyad, who were of exceptional capabilities, deserted the army and a large number of them avoided taking part in hostilities against the grandson of the Prophet (s).


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[4] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[5] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387

Balazari says: “A battalion of 1000 soldiers used to depart for Kerbala but when it reached there, it had only three hundred, four hundred or even less men, because the rest had deserted the army as they did not see the expedition to be having any legality.[1]

They were without any doubt convinced that it was the battle of deviated people. They were fighting their God and His Prophet, fighting someone whose obedience and devotion was incumbent upon them.

The Tyrant Ibn Ziyad in Nukhaila

He went to Nukhaila[2] and encamped over there while a large number of contingents accompanied him. He appointed Amr bin Hareeth as his representative in Kufa. He had been informed that people in singles, in twos and threes were running over by the Euphrates route to join the army of the Imam. Therefore he issued commands to secure to bridge and keep it under strict surveillance so that none may escape from there.[3]

Plan to kill Ibn Ziyad

The great stalwart, Ammar bin Salama Dalabi tried to kill Ibn Ziyad at Nukhaila but he could not succeed due to the elaborate security arrangements. When he failed in this attempt he decided to join His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and in the end he was able to achieve martyrdom with His Eminence.[4]

Number of Umayyad Soldiers

Historians have different opinions as regards the number of soldiers that set out to fight Imam (‘a). Here we have stated the opinions of some of them:

1.  80000 riders[5]

2.  50000 riders[6]

3.  35000 riders[7]

4.  30000 riders[8]

5.  22000 riders[9]

6.  20000 riders[10]

7.  16000 riders[11]


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[2] Nukhaila was an area close to Zul Kifl which is today known as Abbasiyat. This is mentioned by Muqarram in Maqtal al-Husain, Pg. 199.
[3] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayan (Manuscript)
[4] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/377
[5] Baghiyatun Nubla, Part 2, quoted from Maqtal of Abu Mikhnaf, Pg. 80
[6] Ibne Zuraas, Sharh Shaafiya 1/93 from written manuscripts at Imam Hakim Library
[7] Manaqib, Ibne Shahr Aashob 4/98
[8] Matalib al-So-ool 2/136 (Has quoted 22000). Umdatut Talib, Pg. 192
[9] Miraatul Jinaan 1/132. Shazaratus Zahab 1/67. Matalib al-So-ool 2/36
[10] As Sawaiq al-Mohreqa Pg. 197. Ibne Sabbagh, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, Pg. 191. Lohoof, 145
[11] Ad Durrun Nadheem Fee Manaqibul Aaimma, Pg. 551

8.  12000 riders[1]

9.  8000 riders[2]

10.  6000 riders[3]

11.  4000 riders[4]

These are some figures that historians have mentioned. Apart from this whatever reports are recorded, are not free from exaggeration.

Research on this topic

Here it is necessary for research regarding the different theories connected with the number of soldiers that participated in the battle against the Imam so that we may analyze and evaluate the different arguments...

Before everything let us see the number of soldiers that were present in the cantonment in Kufa at that time. The number of soldiers in the middle of the first century were 40000 from whom 10000 used to participate in fighting every year.[5]

This number saw increase during the time the Imam had selected Kufa as his capital because migrants converged on Kufa and 1000 of them accompanied the Imam in the battle of Siffeen along with 8000 slaves of theirs.[6]

Some expressions of views also exist that some people have given that prove the number of soldiers at that time and prove that at that time the roll of soldiers had reached upto a hundred thousand. Because Sulaiman bin Surd Khuzai objected to the treaty of Imam Hasan (‘a) and said to His Eminence: “I am astonished how you decided to make peace with Muawiyah when you are having a hundred thousand men of Iraq at your command.”

Some letters from the people of Iraq to Imam Husain (‘a) also mentioned, “We, a hundred thousand men are with you.” And in my view this figure is not without exaggeration and their number was much less...but as for the residents of Kufa, we have not been able to get their list but it is likely that they were so numerous because among them were many workers, traders and artisans and who were not a part of military service...and after this brief research about the number of soldiers and citizens of Kufa we stop here and evaluate the different theories:

First: Acceptance and inspection of everything that is mentioned about the increase of soldiers. Because Ibn Ziyad had declared general mobilization of forces in Kufa and there did not remain any grown up person but that he was sent out to fight His Eminence, Husain (‘a). And anyone who opposed this order was doomed to execution or thrown into prison. So much so, all modes of transport were used to transfer people from Kufa to the battlefield against the Holy Imam. In this way the figure of 100000 or more is not an exaggeration.


[1] Ad Durrun Nadheem Fee Manaqibul Aaimma, Pg. 551
[2] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayaan, Pg. 92
[3] As-Siraatus Sawi min Manaqib Aalin Nabi Pg. 87
[4] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/169
[5] Sulh al-Hasan, Pg. 114
[6] Al Imamah was Siyasah 1/93 has mentioned the figure of 190000.

Secondly: There is doubt regarding that large number because most of the fighters considered fighting against the Imam a serious crime and they deserted the army and fled into wilderness. Apart from this a large number of soldiers were with Ibn Ziyad in Nukhaila cantonment. On the basis of this, the number of men who went to Kerbala to fight the Imam was not as high as some historians believe.

The most likely scenario is as mentioned in the tradition of Imam Sadiq (‘a) that 30000 men came forward to fight Imam Husain (‘a). This is the nearest saying about the number of soldiers because this figure or a little more took part in battle against the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s).

Military Commanders

Historians have recorded for us the names of some military commanders who participated in the Kerbala tragedy. They are as follows:

  1. Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi – He commanded a 1000 strong force that besieged His Eminence, Husain (‘a) at Kerbala.

  2. Umar bin Saad – He was appointed commander in chief by Ibn Ziyad. He led a battalion of 4000.

  3. Shabth bin Rabi commanded a 1000 strong battalion.[1]

  4. Madhair bin Raheena Mazini – He controlled a 3000 men group.[2]

  5. Nasr bin Harsha – commanded a 2000 men battalion.[3]

  6. Kaab bin Talha with 3000 soldiers.[4]

  7. Hijaar bin Abjar – with 1000 men.[5]

  8. Haseen bin Numair 4000 strong force.[6]

  9. Shimr bin Zil Jaushan – 4000 strong platoon.[7]

  10. Yazid bin Rakaab – At the head of 2000 strong regiment.[8]

  11. Yazid bin Harth bin Ruwiyam – with 1000 fighters.[9]

These were some military commanders who jointly controlled a force of around 25000 soldiers.[10]

Ibn Jauzi says: Abdullah bin Zohra bin Sulaym Azadi was the commander of Kufa  


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[2] Manaqib 4/98
[3] Manaqib 4/98
[4] Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husain, Pg. 200
[5] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[6] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[7] Manaqib, Ibne Shahr Aashob 4/98
[8] Manaqib, Ibne Shahr Aashob 4/98
[9] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/387
[10] Calculating the numbers mentioned 96000 is correct figure (Tr.)

division. Qais bin Ashath was heading the Rabia and Kinda division. Abdullah bin Sabra Jofi controlled the Madhij and Bani Asad division and Hurr bin Yazid Riyahi was the chief of Rabia and Hamadan division.[1]

Arming the soldiers

The army of Ibn Ziyad was armed with all the weapons in use at that time, such that his preparations for battle against the Imam could be described to be terrible whose importance the historians have mentioned to us and said: Blacksmiths and weapon makers of Kufa worked day and night pointing the arrows and sharpening the swords and this continued for more than 10 days…Ibn Ziyad prepared such a well-armed force to fight against His Eminence, Husain (‘a) that it had the power to conquer a territory if it wanted.

1. Archers

Archers were those who shot arrows and darts. They had a very important role in the battle and they were the first to initiate battle against the Imam when they shot their arrows to the Imam’s camp. So much so that none from the companions of the Imam remained but that was shot by an arrow. Even some ladies were injured and they were terrified by this. Some children of the family of Prophethood also were cruelly killed by these arrows like Abdullah bin Muslim, Abdullah bin Hasan, Abdullah (or Ali Asghar), the infant son of His Eminence and others.

2. Foot soldiers

They were battalions of soldiers who threw stones and their weapon was sling.

3. Armored soldiers

They were of those who covered the fighters with materials that would be secure in the battle. In the same way they used to put such things on their horses also so that they may be protected against arrows and darts.

Number of Companions of His Eminence, Husain (‘a)

The companions of Imam Husain (‘a) were less in number but historians have differed as regards their exact figure as follows:

  1. Masudi believes that they comprised of 500 riders and 100 foot soldiers. Only Masudi has mentioned this figure and no one else has.[2]

  2. Ammar Dahni has narrated from Imam Baqir (‘a) that they were 45 horsemen and 100 foot soldiers.[3]

  3. Ibn Shahr Aashob has mentioned that they were 82 persons of whom 32 were mounted.[4]


[1] Miraat az-Zamaan, Pg. 92
[2] Muruj az-Zahab 3/61
[3] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/197. Tahdhib al-Kamal 6/427. Hadaiq al-Wardiya 1/119. As-Siraatus Sawi, Pg. 86
[4] Manaqib 4/98

  1. Saad bin Abduh says: I have seen that they were around 100 persons. 5 or 7 from the descendants of Ali, 10 from Bani Hashim one from Kinana and another from Sulaym.[1]

  2. Ibn Kathir Wafa Khori has written that they were 32 riders and 40 footmen.[2]

According to our belief, including the persons of family of prophethood there were 80 persons. This is proved from the fact that the number of heads that were severed and sent to Ibn Marjana and Yazid numbered 79 and not more.

Anyway, these valiant fighters in spite of being less in number effectively confronted that army and caused them terrible losses and by their courageous attitude, displayed nobility of their beliefs and loftiness of their faith.

Ibn Saad’s Messenger meets Imam (‘a)

Ibn Saad was not in favor of fighting against the Imam and he wanted to shun this in any way possible. Therefore he summoned Azra bin Qais to go and meet the Imam and inquire about the reason for the arrival of His Eminence, but Azra refused as he was one of those who had written to the Imam inviting him to Kufa.

Ibn Saad appointed Kathir bin Abdullah Shobi to meet the Holy Imam. He was an audacious and reckless man. He said: “I am ready for it and if you want I can attack him suddenly and finish the matter.”

Ibn Saad did not agree to this. He told him to approach the Imam and ask him what has brought him there.

Kathir set out to meet the Imam and when Abu Thamama Saidi saw him, he became suspicious about him and told him to remove his sword before he could meet the Imam. But he did not agree to it and thus he was not able to get the permission to meet the Imam. He returned to Ibn Saad and reported the matter to him.[3] Ibn Saad told Qarra bin Qais Hanzali to go and meet the Imam. He agreed to it. When he came the Imam asked his companions, “Do you know him?”

Habib bin Mazahir replied, “Yes, he is from Bani Tamim. I used to know him as a man of sound judgment. I would not have thought that he would be present at this scene.”

He came and greeted al-Husain, peace be on him. Then he informed him of Umar bin Saad’s message.

“The people of this town of yours wrote to me that I should come,” answered Husain, peace be on him. “However, if now you have come to dislike me, I will leave you.”

Habib glanced at him and chided him, “O Qarra, I considered you to be a supporter  


[1] Tadhib at-Tahdhib 1/156
[2] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/187. Fakhura, Tohfatul Anaam fii Mukhtasar Tarikhul Islam, Pg. 77
[3] Tabari, Tarikh 5/410

of Ahle Bayt. What has changed your attitude? Thus you remain with us and help this gentleman.”

Qarra said: “You are right. But first I shall return to my associates and convey the message to them and after that I shall think upon this matter.”

Qarra returned to Ibn Saad and conveyed to him what the Imam had said.[1]

Ibn Saad was pleased. He thought that there was some peaceful alternative that would free him from this dreadful responsibility.

Ibn Saad Meets the Imam

Ibn Saad wanted to be reassured about this so he expressed the desire to meet the Imam. The Imam agreed to meet him and when he came to His Eminence, he asked, “What has brought you here?”

“People of Kufa.”

“But you don’t know what they have done to you?”

“We the people of God are such that if someone considers it lawful to deceive us, we also for the sake of Allah bear that deception.”

“Now what do you think about escaping from this problem?”

“I shall return and stay in Mecca or Medina or in some other place.

Ibn Saad was pleased at this attitude of the Holy Imam and he saw in it possibility of peace and less chance of hostilities.[2]

Ibn Saad’s letter to Ibn Ziyad

Ibn Saad immediately penned a letter to his governor, Ibn Marjana which said: “So to say: God has put out the fire of hatred, united the people in one opinion, and set right the affairs of the community. This man, al-Husain, has given me a promise that he will return to the place which he came from, or he will go to one of the border outposts - he will become like any other of the Muslims, with the same rights and duties as them; or he will go to Yazid, the Commander of the faithful, and offer him his hand and see if the difference between them can be reconciled. In this offer you have the consent to what you have demanded and the community gains benefit.”

Ibn Saad’s Slander

Doubtlessly, in this letter Ibn Saad has attributed things to His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a) that he never said: Aqba bin Sulaiman was with the Imam from Medina to Mecca and then to Iraq and at the time of the martyrdom of His Eminence he was in his service, he has said regarding the fabricated points of this letter as follows:

“I accompanied Husain from Medina to Mecca and then to Iraq and at the time of  


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/386, Al Futuh 5/155-156
[2] As-Siraatus Sawi min Manaqib Aalin Nabi Pg. 87

his martyrdom I did not leave him and I heard whatever he said. And I never heard him say that he was ready to give allegiance to Yazid, as people allege. And neither did he say that he would go to any other place. He did not mention this either in Medina or Mecca or Iraq or in his army, till finally he was martyred. Yes, I heard him say: Leave me, so that I may go to the wide earth till I see what the people do.”[1]

Shaykh Muhammad Khazari has also stated that this letter mentions false things. He says: “It is not correct that he proposed to them that he would give allegiance to Yazid; rather he suggested them to leave him so that he may return from where he had come.”[2]

Ibn Saad composed this letter to escape the battle and to keep himself safe from the crime of killing the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s). If the Imam had said such a thing, the army of Ibn Ziyad would have dispersed and all the problems would have come to an end…Imam (‘a), since the beginning of his mission, refused to bow down before the unjust group and he was determined before the storms of opposition. And he always displayed loftiness of his aims, steadfastness of his resolve and respect of his self.

Shimr Defeats Efforts of Peace

When Ibn Saad’s letter came to Ibn Ziyad, he liked the view of Ibn Saad and he considered it a solution of the problem and a channel for uniting the Muslims. It restrained him from fighting the battle. Thus with surprise he uttered, “This is the letter about a sincere man who is anxious for his people.”

Shimr bin Zil Jaushan was standing besides him and he became annoyed at this, because he was well known for his hatred to people of noble class due to his own lowly birth. Hence he was jealous of Ibn Saad because he was given the command of the army due to his parentage, so he wanted to inflame the fire of battle.

“Are you going to accept this from him,” demanded Shimr bin Zil Jaushan, jumping up, “When he has encamped on your land nearby? By God if he was a man from your land and he would not put his hand in yours, whether he was in a position of power and strength (or) whether he was in a position of weakness and impotence you would not give this concession, for it would be (a mark) of weakness.”

These words made the circumstances explosive and dashed all hopes regarding peace and agreement, because Ibn Ziyad realized something he had not thought of earlier. That is if the Imam escapes from him and does not give allegiance to Yazid and goes away to another area the reality of the situation will become obvious for all. And the people shall stand up in support of the Imam against that sinful group. Hence the tyrant shall emerge to be weaker while His Eminence, Husain (‘a) shall come out stronger and more influential due to his position as the son of Allah’s  


[1] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayaan, Pg. 20
[2] Tarikhul Imamatul Islamiya 1/515

Messenger (s). These delicate points had never entered the mind of Ibn Marjana; so when Shimr reminded him, he began to think of him as a sincere advisor.

When Shimr understood that he had the situation under his control and that he has succeeded in weakening the position of Ibn Saad near Ibn Ziyad, he tried to have him removed from his post and occupy it himself. So he said, “By God, I have been informed that Husain and Ibn Saad sat down between the two armies and carried out discussions for the most part of the night.”[1]

This meant that Shimr had kept Ibn Saad under secret surveillance so that he may come to know if Ibn Saad committed any shortcoming in discharging his duties. If he did so, the information could be passed on to the government so that he demotes Ibn Saad from his post and Shimr may be able to obtain that place for himself.

Ibn Ziyad Rejected Peaceful Negotiation

Ibn Marjana rejected all the proposals Ibn Saad had written to him with regard to a peaceful solution of this problem. He wrote to Ibn Saad as follows:

“I did not send you to al-Husain for you to restrain yourself from fighting him, nor to idle the time away with him, nor to promise him peace and preservation of his life, nor to make excuses for him, nor to be an intercessor on his behalf with me. Therefore see that if Husain and his followers submit to my authority and surrender, you send them to me in peace. If they refuse, then march against them to fight them and to punish them; for they deserve that. If Husain is killed, make the horses trample on his body, both front and back; for he is a disobedient rebel, and I do not consider that this will be in any way wrong after death. But it is my view that you should do this to him if you kill him. If you carry out your command concerning him, we will give you the reward due to one who is attentive and obedient. If you refuse, we withdraw the command of our province and army from you and leave the army to Shimr bin Zil Jaushan. We have given him our authority. Greetings.”[2]

This extremely acerbic and cruel letter contains the following points:

  1. It limited the discretionary power of Ibn Saad with regard to war and fighting and no sort of choice was given to him for making peace or holding discussions with the Imam.

  2. There is indication in this letter that if the Imam accepted peace he must submit to the authority of Ibn Marjana so that he may decide what to do; forgive him or put him to death. He wanted the Imam to come to him as a prisoner or a criminal and plead for mercy.

  3. If the Imam refuses to surrender to the command of Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Saad was  


[1] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/175
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/55, Somewhat similar thing is mentioned in Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/390-391. In Tahdhib al-Kamal 6/428 it is mentioned: Ibne Ziyad wrote to Ibne Saad: “No, and no honor will be there for him till he gives his hand into mine.” Then Husain said: “It shall never be so.”

supposed to immediately put him to death and cut him into pieces.

  1. Ibn Ziyad threatened Umar Ibn Saad that he would be stripped of his post if he failed he carry out these commands. After that Shimr bin Zil Jaushan would have the command of all forces and he would carry out the above orders of Ibn Marjana.

Historians say: Ibn Ziyad began his dialogue like this: “Now when our claws cling to him, he hopes for escape but he will be prevented from getting any refuge.”

Shimr set out joyfully and pleased at once. He rode non-stop towards Ibn Saad hoping that he may decline to accept the command of Ibn Ziyad and Shimr would get the chance of being the commander-in-chief. He reached Kerbala to find Ibn Saad bathing in the Euphrates. A man went to him and said, “He sent Juwaira bin Badr Tamimi to you and ordered him to murder you if you refrain from fighting the battle.”

Ibn Saad went to get his clothes and put them on.[1] He glanced at Shimr bin Zil Jaushan and understood that it was his doing. He told him:

“Shame upon you, what is this to you? May God never show favor to your house. May God make abominable what you have brought to me! By God, I did not think that you would cause him to refuse what I had written to him, and ruin for us a matter which we had hoped to set right. Husain will not surrender, for there is a spirit like (his) father’s in his body.”

“Tell me what you are going to do,” demanded Shimr. “Are you going to carry out the governor’s command and fight his enemy or are you going to leave the command of the army to me?”

Ibn Saad fell a prey to his desire and greed and he agreed to carry out the commands of the governor. He said, “No, there is going to be no advantage to you. I will carry that out instead of you.”[2]

Shimr kept Ibn Saad under surveillance just in case he may happen to fall short in carrying out the orders of Ibn Marjana and he (Shimr) may get the command of the army. Ibn Saad conveyed the reply of Ibn Ziyad to the Holy Imam and His Eminence said, “By Allah, I shall never surrender to Ibn Marjana.”[3]

The Imam Meets Ibn Saad

Imam (‘a) expressed the desire that Ibn Saad comes to meet him. He accepted it unwillingly and met His Eminence at night in a secret meeting attended by none except His Eminence, Abbas and His Eminence, Ali Akbar. Ibn Saad also did not have anyone on his side except Hafs and slave of Ibn Saad. Imam asked him, “O Ibn Saad, would you fight against us? Do you not fear Allah while your return is to Him alone? I am the son of the one you know well. Will you not remain on our side and give up their support, as it would be more liked by Allah?”


[1] Dhahabi, Tarikh Islam 5/14
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/391
[3] As-Siraatus Sawi min Manaqib Aalin Nabi Pg. 87

Ibn Saad presented a very lame excuse saying, “I am afraid that my house shall be destroyed.”

“I shall make it again for you.”

“I fear they shall confiscate my orchard.”

“I shall give you a better one in Hijaz.”

“I have a family in Kufa, I am afraid Ibn Ziyad would kill my family.”

Imam did not get any positive reply from him. Rather he found him adamant on injustice and oppression. Thus he cursed him and said, “What will happen to you? Almighty Allah will soon have you decapitated in your bed and He shall not forgive you on the Day of Judgment. By Allah, I hope you will not be able to consume but a little from the wheat of Iraq.”

Ibn Saad went away from there ridiculing the Imam: “Barley is sufficient for me.”[1]

Shimr offers Security to Brothers of His Eminence, Abbas

The degraded leper, Shimr bin Zil Jaushan thought that he could drive a wedge between His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and his brothers and thus deprive the Imam from their support. Thus he secured a letter of guarantee for them from Ibn Ziyad and came forward quickly. He stood up before them and called out, “Where are the sons of our sister, Abbas and his brothers?”

Those youths rushed out towards him like brave lions and asked him, “What do you want, O son of Zil Jaushan?”

“I am having a guarantee of security for you.”

They shouted angrily at him, “God curse you and curse the security which you offer without offering it to the son of the Apostle of God.”[2]

That criminal returned a failure while he had expected that the Imam’s brothers are his transmogrified friends. He did not know that they were among those incomparable personalities who shaped the nobility of humanity and created the basis for pride for man.

Embargo on Imam’s Entourage

Ibn Saad surrounded Imam Husain (‘a) from all sides so that he may not receive any outside help and this was carried out with such efficiency that it was impossible for anyone to join the Imam’s camp or convey any sort of help to him.

Access to Euphrates cut off

The most dangerous deed committed by Ibn Saad was cutting off access to tributary of Euphrates because he had received express orders from Ibn Marjana to deprive Imam Husain (‘a), his Ahle Bayt and companions from water, like it was done in the case of Uthman bin Affan.


[1] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/175
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/391

He prepared a force consisting of 500 horsemen and according to another report consisting of 4000 horsemen under the command of Amr Ibn Hajjaj. They secured all the tributaries, streams and water holes of Euphrates and thus cut off all access of Imam Husain (‘a) and his companions to get any water. I feel that this cruel step was taken to achieve the following aims:

First: They cause harm to the Imam’s camp so that there remains no strength in them to fight the battle and the forces of Umar Saad do not face any problem.

Second: In this way they also closed the river route for anyone who may try to join the Imam’s group.

Third: It was apparently to avenge the treatment accorded to Uthman. But the fact was that when Uthman was besieged, it was Imam Husain (‘a) who had brought water and food for him; but what a pity that Bani Umayyah had even disregarded that favor of His Eminence.

Fourth: Ibn Saad through these steps, hoped that the Imam would be compelled to surrender and accept their orders.

These were some of the factors that motivated Ibn Marjana to issue the command to cut off access to Euphrates and prevent His Eminence, Husain and his companions from getting any water.

Historians have said: “Access to water was cut off for His Eminence, Husain since three days prior to his martyrdom.[1] The most terrible hardship that the Imam experienced was the thirst of young children and ladies and their clamor of “Water! Water!”

Children were not able to bear thirst. Whenever they looked at the Euphrates that was full of water they used to increase their clamor. The Imam’s heart was shocked at this scene and he felt emotional about their pathetic condition. Lips of the children were shriveled and their bodies had weakened. The breast milk of the mothers had dried up while those oppressors were having unlimited access to water.

Noor Jundi says,

“Evil wolves had full access to water while the family of the Prophet were deprived of it.

What injustice it is in the history of man that the heart of the lion had to bear thirst, while he is capable of doing much.

Husain’s children lamented in the desert. O my Lord, render help. What has happened to divine justice?”

All the laws and religions of the world are unanimous that water must not be denied to children and ladies especially the Islamic law is particular that everyone has equal right to pasture lands and water resources. Permission is accorded to  


[1] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayaan, Pg. 89, Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/389

drink even from streams owned privately even though the owners may not have accorded their permission. Also, it is considered very detestable to slaughter a thirsty animal. However, the Umayyad army did not care about this matter and they considered all the things decreed unlawful by Shariah to be lawful.

Those cruel people did not even consider the favor the Imam had done to the vanguard under Hurr’s command. It was the group that consisted of 1000 horsemen with Hurr at its leader and it was marching in the desert to find and apprehend the Imam but it ran out of water and was nearly dying of thirst. His Eminence would have let them die of thirst but his magnanimity and nobility could not permit such cruelty. So he ordered his men to provide them all with water, even their beasts; inspite of the fact that His Eminence was in the middle of an arid land and himself in need of water. But those wicked people did not even requite this favor of the Imam. They kept him deprived of water along with the ladies of the house of prophethood and the grandchildren of the Prophet with him.

Decadent Nature

Those transmogrified people who had the control of water under them ridiculed the Imam while they had cut off his access to water. They goaded over this and boasted in a shameless manner; some examples of which are as follows:

1. Muhajir bin Aws

Muhajir bin Aws Tamimi glanced at the Imam and called out loudly, “O Husain, can you see the water sparkling like a snake’s belly? By God, you shall not be able to drink it till you die.”

Imam responded and said, “I hope that Allah may enable me to reach it and prevent you from it.”[1]

2. Amr bin Hajjaj

Amr bin Hajjaj came forward while he was of those who had written to His Eminence, inviting him to Kufa. He came near the Imam’s camp and called out aloud, “This is Euphrates, that dogs dip their snouts in it and donkeys and pigs drink from it. By Allah you will not get a drop of it till you get boiling water of Hell.”[2]

3. Abdullah bin Haseen

Abdullah bin Haseen Azadi came running like a dog to the Imam and asked, “O Husain, do you not see the water that is like the center of sky. By God, you wouldn’t be able to get a single drop till you die of thirst.”

The Holy Imam raised both his hands and prayed, “O Allah, let him die in thirst and do not forgive him.”[3]

Those lowly beasts who had power over water supply were goading over their  


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/390
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/390
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/389. As-Siraatus Sawi min Manaqib Aalin Nabi Pg. 86

position so that they may get into the good books of their master, Ibn Marjana and please him in order to gain rewards and allowances from him.

Objection to Ibn Saad

Some companions of Imam Husain (‘a) and other people also condemned Ibn Saad for denying water access to the beloved grandson of Prophet (s) because it was the most degraded type of revenge while the children of His Eminence, Husain (‘a), before their very eyes were dying of thirst. And it happened when there did not exist any cause of revenge except that the Umayyads were contaminated with malice and degradation. Among those who raised objection against Ibn Saad were the following:

1. Yazid bin Haseen

Yazid bin Haseen came out and told Ibn Saad, “This is Euphrates and dogs are drinking from it while Husain, the son of Allah’s Messenger (s) and his Ahle Bayt remain thirsty, while you claim to have recognition of Allah and His Prophet (s)?”

Ibn Saad turned his dirty face down and did not provide any reply.[1]

2. Burair bin Khudhair

Burair bin Khudhair Hamadani went to Ibn Saad and called out aloud, “O Umar, would you leave the family of prophethood to die of thirst, while you have denied them access of Euphrates? While you claim to know Allah and His Messenger!”

Ibn Saad replied, “O Burair, by Allah! Indeed the killer of this group would go to Hell. But if you think that I would leave the governorship of Rayy for someone else, you are wrong, because I can never agree to it.”[2]

3. Hurr

When Hurr joined the Imam’s camp and repented for his past attitude to His Eminence, he set out towards Ibn Saad’s army and in a loud voice said, “O people of Kufa! May your mothers grieve for you. That you have invited and besieged and surrounded him from all sides that he may not go away anywhere else in the wide earth and obtain security for himself and his Ahle Bayt. He is like a hostage in your hands having no choice of his own. He, his ladies, his children and his companions are deprived of Euphrates water by you while Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians drink from it and the dogs and pigs of this area swim in it. They are in a serious condition due to thirst. What type of ill behavior have you resorted to with the progeny of Muhammad after his passing away? May Allah not quench you on the day of thirst.”[3]

This objection had no effect on Ibn Saad and he continued to be adamant on his cruelty and oppression. He continued the embargo on water till the Prophet’s progeny was dying of thirst.


[1] Qirmani, Akhbarud Daul, Pg. 108. Waseelatul Maal fee idda manaqibul Aal, Pg. 290. Matalib al-So-ool 2/36-37
[2] Al Futuh 5/171-172
[3] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/65

Access to a Spring

Thirst tormented the Ahle Bayt and children and ladies began to clamor for water. Imam (‘a) arose and picked up the pick axe and dug around the tents of ladies. A spring of fresh water erupted and they drank from it. However only a little water came out of it and it dried after sometime. Spies conveyed this information to Ibn Ziyad and he became infuriated. He wrote to Ibn Saad as follows:

“I have been told that Husain is digging wells, obtaining water and he and his companions are drinking from it. Thus take care! As soon as my communication reaches you, as far as possible restrain him from digging wells and be strict with him…”

Ibn Saad deployed men to prevent digging of wells and stationed a large number of sentries and mercenaries along the branch of Euphrates so that none may be able to reach it and drink water from it.[1]

Battle over water supply

When Imam saw his children and Ahle Bayt tormented and wailing for the killing thirst he was deeply disturbed and aggrieved. So he directed his brother, His Eminence, Abul Fazl al-Abbas to bring water. That great stalwart, set out with 30 horsemen and 20 foot soldiers along with 20 water skins. They all moved to the Euphrates while Nafe bin Hilal Muraid was ahead of them.

Amr bin Hajjaj Zubaidi who was in charge of guarding the Euphrates came forward and asked,

“What do you want?”

“We have come to drink from the water that you had deprived us from.”

“Have it.”

“Shall I drink it while Husain and his companions are thirsty?”

“There is no way they could get water. We have been stationed here to keep them away from water.”

Imam’s men paid no heed. They stepped towards the river to fill up the water skins. But Amr bin Hajjaj rushed to them with his soldiers. His Eminence, Abbad and Nafe bin Hilal confronted with them but none of them were killed. After that the Imam’s group filled up the skins with water and turned back to the camp. It is said that they returned with only a little quantity of water.[2] His Eminence, Abbas quenched the thirst of those who were thirsty among the Ahle Bayt and saved them from thirst. From that day he became known as “water carrier”, which is the most famous titles of His Eminence and the one liked by him most.


[1] Khwarizmi, Maqtal 1/244. Al Futuh 5/162, Baghiyatun Nubla
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/389

Habib seeks help from his clan

The famous companion of His Eminence, Husain (‘a), Habib bin Mazahir was his most loyal and sincere ally. When he saw the loneliness of the Imam and the unity of oppressive powers to wage a war against His Eminence he sought the Imam’s permission to seek help from his tribe of Bani Asad so that they may fight Jihad on the side of His Eminence. He said, “A group of Bani Asad people reside in this area as nomads. They are located at Nahreen, a short distance from our camp. Do you permit me to go and call them for help, Perhaps through them the Almighty God would give you some benefit or remove your affliction?”

Imam (‘a) accorded him permission. He went towards them as soon as possible and addressed them, “I invite you towards nobility of the hereafter, its virtues and great reward. I call you towards the help of the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s) as he is right now in a difficult situation. People of Kufa invited him offering their support. But when he arrived to them they withdrew support and have come to slay him.”

Seventy persons[1] accepted his invitation. Abdullah bin Bushr Asadi was one of them. He said, “I am the first to accept this call.” Then he recited the following war poem:

“When people take a decision they know. And when the riders halt or fall into a hardship.

I am a brave warrior and a valiant one. As if a roaring lion in the den.”[2]

They marched forward to join the Imam but a spy of Ibn Saad was present in that meeting who rushed back to inform about these developments. He dispatched a troop under the command of Jabla bin Umar and it prevented the Bani Asad volunteers to join the Imam. Habib returned aggrieved and informed the Imam about what had happened. His Eminence said, “Exceeding thanks to the Almighty Allah.”[3]

Imam (‘a) along with his companions passed through extremely difficult circumstances due to the forced detention awaiting that terrible event that was to befall them in the desert of Kerbala.

With the two Encampments

On the pure desert of the land of Kerbala, the powers of betrayal confronted the soldiers of God and the seeds of monotheism. They fought those whose hearts the Almighty Allah had opened up for faith while they were absolutely convinced of their rightfulness...on the other hand their enemies were involved in bewilderment and confusion. They fought with complete awareness of their deviation and misguidance. Here we are compelled to pause for a moment and discuss in some more detail about these two groups.


[1] And in a report, ninety persons
[2] Part two of Baghiyatun Nubla
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/388

Husain’s Camp

The Imam’s camp displayed humanistic nobility and expressed lofty values and great thinking, such that every righteous person obtains a gem from their high values. And it is sufficient for them that they have become immortal in the pages of history. Because of all the families of martyrs of the world none could equal in nobility, loyalty and sacrifice in the path of justice, the martyrs of Kerbala. Here we shall point out some signs of their aims and their personal traits.

Noble Aims

Those noble aims they had taken as their chief slogan and that valor and faith for which they were taking part in this confrontation were as follows:

1. Defense of Islam

The companions of the Imam stood up with sincerity and faith to defend Islam and protect its principles which had been ignored by the Umayyad regime. And in this regard they acted in the best way and with most outstanding sincerity and there are numerous instances deserving of pride. For example, His Eminence, Abbas (‘a), who was the nearest relative of the Imam, he did not act on the basis of his brotherly affection and ties of relationship. Whatever sacrifices he offered, they were on the basis of his firm faith in defense of Islam and the support of an Imam of Muslims whose love and obedience was made incumbent upon all people by Allah. He expressed this in the battlefield when the enemies had cut off his right hand. He said:

“By Allah, even though they have cut off my right hand I would continue to defend my religion.

And go on defending the Imam, whom I really believe to be the rightful Imam and the son of the pure trustworthy Prophet.”

The war poem of Abbas clearly shows that His Eminence had not performed Jihad due to his brotherly relationship with Imam Husain (‘a). It was due to his concern for the defense of religion and support of the rightful Imam which he truly believed in. People other than His Eminence, Abbas have also announced this reality.

His Eminence, Aba Abdillah (‘a) had nourished them with his spirit and guidance and dressed them up with his morals and manners in such a way that their souls had distanced from the material world and their bodies had separated from worldly matters. Their hearts and emotions had become free of the activities of life...because what teacher is like Husain? Which school is as inspiring as his school of thought? Can the generations of the world create such faith in Almighty Allah and such sincerity for truth?

2. In defense of Imam Husain (‘a)

Another special aim of the companions of the Imam was their concern for the defense of His Eminence from those beasts who had come together to slay the Holy Imam. The Imam’s companions sacrificed their lives for their loyalty and sincerity to His Eminence and through this they set outstanding examples of loyalty. For example when Muslim bin Ausaja, the famous companion of the Imam set out to the battlefield, while his body had been wounded by swords and spears and he fell down fighting, the Imam went to him accompanied by Habib bin Mazahir at a time when Muslim was in his last moments in pain of death. Habib told him to make his bequest about that which was important for him. He said in a soft grievous voice, “I will you to defend him”, pointing towards the Imam, “and sacrifice your life upon him.”[1]

What loyalty is so capable to be a cause of pride and esteem? He imparted important lessons in loyalty with regard to truth, to the coming generations, because when he was in the last moments of his life and the hiccups of death were upon his chest, at that time also he displayed no concern save the defense of the Imam and he had abandoned every other thing connected with this life.

This great warrior is Suwaid bin Abi Muta, who is the most outstanding martyr and the most sincere of them in loyalty. When he fell down wounded in the battlefield, the enemies left him thinking that he was dead. They did not attack him anymore. When he heard shouts that the Imam has been killed, he could not keep still and save his life; he stood up immediately and wanted his sword but he found that it had been plundered. So he tried to get hold of something with which he could fight Jihad with them. He got hold of a knife. He picked it up and used it to stab the enemies. They were terrified of him, thinking that the dead were becoming alive again to restart Jihad. And when they realized that it wasn’t so, they turned to him and slew him. This loyalty of the companions of the Imam indeed continued to the final moments of their life.

Such a loyalty was not restricted to men. Ladies who were present in the field of fighting also possessed this condition, for example a woman used to come to her son and implore him to be martyred in the service of Imam. Wives also rushed to their husbands to ask them to defend Imam, while they did not care for their afflictions, like the death of their sons or that they would have wear the dress of mourning.

It is extremely surprising that even the children of the family of prophethood used to come forward and kiss the hands and feet of the Holy Imam seeking his permission to achieve martyrdom. Among them was Abdullah Ibn Hasan, who was only twelve. When he saw that enemies had gathered to slay his uncle, he could not rest still. He came running but his aunt Zainab came forward to stop him. However, he ran away from her till he reached his uncle when Abjar bin Kaab had  


[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/435-436

raised his sword to hit the Imam. The boy screamed at him, “O degraded man, would you slay my uncle?” That dirty beast rushed to the little boy and aimed his sword at his outstretched hands almost severing them from his body.[1] The boy fell into the lap of his uncle. Harmala shot a cruel arrow upon him and killed him in the bosom of his uncle. The lad tasted death in the way of His Eminence...

Examples greater than those of the companions of His Eminence and his Ahle Bayt are not found in pages of history.

3. Saving the community from oppression

Among the aims of the camp of Imam Husain (‘a) was the emancipation of Muslim community from oppression of Umayyads and their injustice, because they had spread injustice and filled up the world of Islam with mischief. Companions of the Imam arose to destroy that system and to restore the Islamic government. We have already stated this matter in a separate topic during our discussion on the causes of Imam’s revolution.

4. Incomparable natures

Companions of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) were imbued with a noble nature and they were more distinguished from other people in the following aspects:

A. Nobility and Self-respect

Among the personal qualities of those noble men was nobility and self-respect, because they had accepted death in the way of their nobility. The chief of the nobles, His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a) says, “I do not see death except as a success. And I do not consider living with oppressors as nothing but deception.” And his righteous son, His Eminence, Ali Akbar has recited in his war poem of the day of Ashura:

“I am Ali bin Husain bin Ali. By the Lord of the Kaaba, we are more deserving of the Prophet. By Allah, this son of the evil man cannot rule over us.”

Imam Husain had cast the ray of his soul on his companions and Ahle Bayt and they welcomed death with honor, respect and nobility.

B. Valor and Steadfastness

Another quality prominent in the Imam’s camp was courage, because they were incomparable warriors of the world. Inspite of their few numbers they displayed untold determination against their numerous foes and caused them terrible harms and serious hardships.

The English historian, Percy Skies says: “Imam Husain and his group of few companions were determined by their firm resolve to face death. And they fought with such valor and courage that to this day no other fighters have earned our astonishment and praise so much.”[2]


[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/450-451
[2] Percy Skies, History of Iran

Imam dressed them with spirituality and revolutionary zeal and it is natural that the personality of the leader is an important effect on imparting spirituality to the soldiers. Because the mechanism of leadership is instrumental in taking forward the warriors in the battlefield.[1] And the companions of the Imam with a firm determination, without any fear of hardships and hurdles fell upon the Umayyad forces till the earth became constricted for that army and a majority of them resorted to flight. A mercenary of Ibn Ziyad condemned the man who had persuaded him to join this campaign and said:

“It was the most difficult thing in the world that if you had seen what we saw, you would also have done what we did. A group pounced upon us while their hands were upon their swords. Like ferocious lions who were killing mounted fighters on their right and left. They were throwing themselves upon death, not prepared to accept security and not having any desire for wealth. There was nothing between them and death, not even the lure of rulership. Thus if they had got hold of us they would have eliminated all the soldiers of our army. Then what we could have done, may your mother die?”[2]

Kaab bin Jabir Azadi was among the soldiers of Ibn Ziyad who killed the great Qari (reciter of Quran) of Kufa, Burair bin Khudhair and who also had a hand in the Imam’s killing. In a poetical composition of his, he has glorified the valor of the companions of the Holy Imam (‘a) as follows:

“Make inquiries, so that you may be informed about me, and of that time when you were condemned. That day when Husain was present there and the spears were drawn out.

But I did not do at all what you didn’t want and that which I did on that day, it has not affected me in anyway.

With me was a spear that could not break. And the sword drawn out that I had sharpened at both the edges.

Against the group whose religion was not the same as mine, I caught them as I had faith in Muawiyah.

I fought with swords in the battle such that whoever may defend with obligatory actions will be successful.

They would have been steadfast before the swords and spears and continued to fight if that action had been beneficial.

So tell Abdullah that whenever you see him that I am the obedient one of the caliph.

I killed Burair and after that I attacked Abu Munqadh when he came to confront me.”


[1] Nizami, Ilmun Nafs 1/36
[2] Sharh Nahjul Balagha 3/263

Kaab has revealed his extreme surprise at the bravery of the companions of the Imam; because neither he nor anyone else had ever witnessed such a kind of steadfastness and valor. Those who were patient in front of the strikes of swords, wounds of spears and death. And of their incomparable courage, according to what historians have said was that none of them resorted to flight and all of them were killed while confronting and none in retreat. They displayed the highest limit of possibility in valor, bravery, steadfastness, rightfulness of intention and strength of determination for the support of the Imam and defense of His Eminence; in such a way that Amr bin Hajjaj Zubaidi advised against fighting them and told the people of Kufa:

“Do you know against whom you are fighting? You are fighting against the knights of this land and the owners of perceptions. Against the people who are in pursuit of death and none of you would attack them but that in spite of their meager numbers you shall be killed.”[1]

His statement has mentioned qualities that were apparent in them; of them were the following:

  • They were knights of the people of Kufa, or rather of the complete Arab region.

  • They were having living consciences and wakeful souls that they stepped forward to help the Imam with full awareness, and not in greed of wealth or position.

  • They were fighting the battle to achieve martyrdom and had no hope from worldly life. Through this they were most capable to make their enemies retreat; however they (the enemies) had been deceived and defrauded by greed.

Regarding their unsurpassed bravery, Aqqad says: “Accompanying Husain were the best knights of Arabs and each of them were famous for their valor, daring, sharp shooting and sword fighting. But it was certain that they would not be earning any fame or praise in accompanying the Imam, because at that time conditions were such that they were only expected to face death boldly.”[2]

It is clear that none of the companions of the Holy Imam (‘a) had greed for any worldly benefit and none desired anything except the rewards of Allah and success of the Hereafter...

Elements constituting the Imam’s Army

The Imam’s army consisted of two main elements which were as follows:

A. Bondsmen

Bondsmen were having a firm relationship to Imam Husain (‘a) due to the equitable manner with which His Eminence, Imam Amirul Momineen (‘a) had dealt with them. And if conditions had been favorable a large number of them would have joined the Imam. The Imam’s army had the following persons from the  


[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/432-435
[2] Abu Shohda, Pg. 215

slave class:

  1. Sulaiman, slave of His Eminence, Husain (‘a).

  2. Qaarib Daili, slave of His Eminence, Husain (‘a).

  3. Harith bin Nab-haan, slave of Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib.

  4. Sahah, slave of His Eminence, Husain (‘a).[1]

  5. Aamir bin Muslim, slave of Saalim.

  6. Jabir bin Hajjaj, slave of Aamir bin Nahshal.

  7. Saad, slave of Umar bin Khalid Saidawi.

  8. Raafe, slave of Ahle Shanwa.

  9. Shauzab, slave of Shakir bin Abdullah Hamadani Shakiri[2]

  10. Aslam Turki, slave of His Eminence, Husain (‘a).[3]

  11. Jaun, slave of Abu Zar Ghiffari.[4]

  12. Zaahir, slave of Amr bin Khuzai.[5]

These were bondsmen who had precedence over freemen as far as their nobility and their decision to support the truth was concerned, because they succeeded in helping the Chief of the youths of Paradise and earned martyrdom in the service of His Eminence.

B. Arabs

The rest of the companions of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) were of Arab linage and most of them were residents of Kufa, and from Basra, except for a few, none were martyred with His Eminence. In the same way from Hijaz, the great companion, Anas bin Harith Kahili joined His Eminence.

Here we conclude our discussion about the qualities and composition of the Imam’s army.

Umayyad Troops

As for the Umayyad troops, they consisted of trust betrayers and conscience-sellers, such that not a single noble inclination was found among them. In the same way, without any doubt, they were certain that they were in misguidance and deviated from the rightful path…some of their qualities were as follows:

1. Aimlessness

The most prominent sign of these mercenaries was that they were absolutely devoid of any kind of aim and determination. Because most of them – according to  


[1] Hisan bin Bakr Hanzali killed him.
[2] Hadaiq al-Wardiya 1/121-122
[3] Ayanush Shia 1/126
[4] Biharul Anwar 45/22
[5] Manaqib, Ibne Shahr Aashob, 4/113

historians – were such that their hearts were with the Imam and their swords were against His Eminence! They had come to fight one in whose rightfulness they believed and they knew that it was only he who could realize their aims and aspirations. If they had an iota of understanding and perception they would have sacrificed their hearts and souls upon him. And that was after they had pledged oath of fealty to the Almighty that they would support and defend him; in spite of this they betrayed the trust.

2. Confusion and Anxiety

Confusion and self betrayal had most of the soldiers of the Umayyad army in its clutches; because they knew that they had fallen into the abyss of falsehood and that His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and his companions were on the path of rightfulness. As described by Shabth bin Rabi, one of their senior officers and leaders, that:

“I fought on the side of Ali bin Abi Talib and his son, Hasan and after that for five years I served in the army of Abu Sufyan’s family. Then we wreaked oppression on his (Ali’s) son, who is the best of men on the earth. We fought against him on the side of family of Muawiyah and son of Sumaiyyah, the fornicatress. It is deviation and what a deviation? By God! The Almighty Allah will never bestow goodness on the people of this land and He shall never give them success.”

These words describe the level of internal anxiety that had taken over Shabth bin Rabi and without any doubt there were hundreds of people like him who inwardly condemned themselves for having fought against the beloved grandson of Allah’s Messenger (s). In the same way many of them avoided taking part in martial activities. Just as Amr bin Hajjaj Zubaidi noticed these matters regarding them and addressed them as follows: “Do not fall into doubt in fighting against one, who has left the religion.”

Among the signs of their bewilderment was that none of them have been quoted to say anything about their aims and objectives in this war in their war poems[1] because their mouths were shut and their tongues had become dumb. On the other hand the war poems recited by the companions of Imam Husain (‘a) and his Ahle Bayt were such that they state the aims and principles for which they were martyred…Singing war poems was a practice of those days and the warriors used to recite them during the battle boasting about their own valor and strength and threatening to eliminate their enemies or force them to retreat.

Reciting of war poems, in this way, was a weapon of war upon which relied the warriors of that time in the same way as they relied on the tools of warfare like the sword, arrows and spears. During the battle of Jamal, Ayesha’s supporters sang about their aim in taking part in the battle to be in defense of their mother and the  


[1] Ibne Habib says: Arabs recited Rajaz in battles to drive camels, to boast of their valor and achievements and for other things. This matter is mentioned in Aghani 18/164.

companions of the Imam, in their recitations spoke of their defense of His Eminence, Imam Amirul Momineen (‘a) and described it to be a religious duty, like it was in the battle of Siffeen.

However in the battle of Kerbala, it is noteworthy that not a single line of a war poem has been quoted from any of the men of the Umayyad army or that they mentioned it by way of testimony or example. This is a proof of their confusion and their self-condemnation because all of them were aware with awareness devoid of any misunderstanding or denial that what an infamy they have committed. How they had sunk in falsehood and were submerged in misguidance.

3. Recklessness

A large group of the army men of the Umayyad forces were famous for sinfulness and crime, because they were those who constantly imbibed wine. Historians say: “All those who carried the severed heads of the martyrs to Damascus, drank wine all the way.” In the previous discussions we have explained about their well-known qualities in lying and impiety in religion.

Here we conclude our discussion about some qualities of that army.

Elements of the Army

The Umayyad troops were composed of the following elements:

1. Opportunists

They were those who for greed or fear of the regime joined the army and who were in constant pursuit of their personal gains. In their behavior and actions they gave no preference to rightfulness and were only after their own benefits. Such persons comprised a large group in Ibn Ziyad’s camp and they were entrusted with important posts in the army. They were of the likes of Ibn Saad, Hijar bin Abjar, Shabth bin Rabi, Shimr bin Zil Jaushan, Qais bin Ashath, Yazid bin Harith and others, who had permanently divorced righteousness and not a single act of goodness was seen throughout their lives. They were only known to afflict harm upon others.

2. Mercenaries

A major part of the Umayyad troops consisted of men who had been lured to join the battle by greed of war booty. As soon as the Imam was martyred they rushed forward to plunder his belongings and such was the level of their decadence that they did not even spare the ornaments of the noble ladies of the family of prophethood. They pillaged all the clothes and weapons of the martyred people. Historians say: “They looted all the garments of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and left him absolutely unclothed. We shall explain this in more detail in the discussion about the actual martyrdom of the Holy Imam (‘a).

3. The Transmogrified

Among the elements that constituted the Umayyad camp were the transmogrified persons. They were such that their breasts were full of malice and enmity towards

one and all, and their most important tendency was to shed blood unjustly and rushing towards crimes in response to the call of evil which had been deeply rooted in their souls.

Those oppressors from the transmogrified ones were in constant pursuit of criminal deeds and they competed with each other in putting to death young children and tormenting the ladies of Ahle Bayt. And they also gloated about their misdeeds and shameful acts. Of such decadent beasts were Shimr bin Zil Jaushan, Harmala bin Kahil, Hakeem bin Tufail Tai, Sinan bin Anas, Amr bin Hajjaj and other rejected dogs like them. Historians have researched the names of some of them who displayed such cruelty in Kerbala that even beasts and dogs would wish to be aloof from them.

4. The Compelled Ones

Another group in the army consisted of those who were compelled to join the battle against the Imam. They were forced into this by the regime of the governor, while their loyalties and feelings were in favor of the Holy Imam, except that their fearfulness and weakness has prevented them from joining the Imam’s camp. These people did not take part in the actual fighting. They instead prayed to the Almighty that may He send his help to the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah. One of such characters was even condemned for his attitude and was told, ‘Instead of praying, why don’t you go ahead and help and defend him?’[1] Without any doubt, they had committed a great sin and are deemed to have a share in the criminal acts of mercenaries, because they did not do anything to save the Imam and defend him against the oppressors.

5. Khawarij

One of the elements of the army that came out to fight against the Holy Imam was the Khawarij. They were the most inimical persons towards the family of the Prophet (s), because Imam Amirul Momineen (‘a) had fought against them in the battle of Nahrawan and thus they competed with each other in the battle of Kerbala to seek their revenge by eliminating the Purified Progeny.

These were some elements that constituted the troops of Ibn Ziyad. In one of the Ziarats of His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a) they are described as follows: “And they united on him – on fighting the Imam – those whom the world had deceived and who sold their benefit in the least price and lost their hereafter in exchange of a lowly price and they fell into destruction in their selfish desires.”[2]

We conclude here our discussion regarding the camps of Imam Husain (‘a) and Ibn Ziyad so that we may fully understand the main features of that immortal tragedy in the world of sorrows.


[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 1/1
[2] Mafatihul Jinan, Pg. 468 Ziarat Arbaeen