Immortal Tragedy

No community from the communities has faced a more painful calamity and more grievous tragedy than the tragedy of Kerbala. Because there was no difficulty from the problems of the day or a tragedy from the tragedies of the world that did not pass upon the grandson of the Prophet and his beloved one…the calamities of His Eminence have saddened the emotions and injured the feelings to such an extent that even those who are less emotional or even the hard hearted people among them were moved by the terrible events. So much so that even Umar bin Saad, that decadent oppressor was also affected and he also wept upon the horrifying troubles and terrible circumstances of His Eminence. In the tragedy of Kerbala the respect of the Holy Prophet (s) was defiled due to their behavior towards his Purified Progeny.

Imam Reza (‘a) has said, “The day Husain was martyred our eyes were injured and our relatives were dishonored…”

Here we shall present the portions of that immortal tragedy in the world of sorrows and painful tragedies and the events contemporary to that time.

Beginning of Hostilities

The oppressive powers marched forward to begin the battle, with their hearts filled with mischief, malice and enmity towards the Purified Progeny, who were restorers of the rights of the persecuted and oppressed people and those who always strived to establish truth.

Vanguard of Ibn Saad’s troops marched forward on Thursday at the time of late afternoon on 9th Mohurrum to fight the Holy Imam because strict orders had arrived from Ibn Ziyad for the Commander-in-Chief to make haste in the battle so that the views of soldiers may not change and there may not appear some groups in their ranks.

When that army began to move forward, His Eminence was seated outside his tent with his sword placed on his knees. He had dozed off. His sister heard the clamor from the enemy’s ranks. She came to him and said, “My brother, don’t you hear the sounds which are getting nearer?”

“I have just seen the Apostle of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, in my sleep,” said al-Husain, peace be on him, as he raised his head. “He said to me: ‘You are coming to us.’”

His sister struck at her face and cried out in grief.[1]

“You have no (reason) to lament, sister,” al-Husain, peace be on him, told her. “Be quiet, may God have mercy on you.”

Then he turned to Abbas bin Ali, “Brother, the enemy have come, so get ready; but  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/56

first, Abbas, you, yourself, ride out to meet them, to talk to them about what they have in mind and what appears appropriate to them and to ask about what has brought them against us.”

Abbas went towards them with about twenty horsemen, among whom was Zuhair b. al-Qain.[1]

“How do you see (the situation)?” he asked. “What do you want?”

“The command of the governor has arrived that we should offer you the opportunity of submitting to his authority, otherwise we must attack you,” they answered.

“Do not hurry to do anything until I have gone back to Abu Abd Allah and told him what you have said,” Abbas requested.

They stopped where they were and told him: “Go to him and inform him, and tell us what he says to you.”

Abbas went galloping back to al Husain, peace be on him, to give him the information.[2]

Now Habib bin Mazahir addressed those men reminding them about the Hereafter and dispensed them good advice. He said, “By Allah, the worst people to meet the Almighty Allah and His Prophet tomorrow would be those who have killed the Progeny of the Prophet and his partisans; those who spend their days and nights in Allah’s remembrance.”

Azra bin Qais replied to him saying, “O Ibn Mazahir, do you claim to be purified?”

Zuhair bin Qain glanced at him and said, “O son of Qais, fear Allah, and do not be of those who help misguidance and falsehood and slay the Purified Progeny of the foremost Prophet.”[3]

Azra told him, “You were a follower of Uthman in our opinion, what has happened to you?”

Zuhair said, “By Allah, I did not write to Husain and I did not send any messenger to him. But I met him on the way. When I saw him I was reminded of Allah’s Messenger and I understood what disloyalty and betrayal of trust you are committing. I saw you inclined towards the material world and I decided to help him, and join his entourage so that I may defend the rights of the Messenger of Allah (s) that you have trespassed.”

Abbas came to the Imam and told him what the enemy had said.[4]

“Go back to them,” he, peace be on him, said, “If you can, delay them until the morning and persuade them to keep from us during the evening. Then, perhaps, we  

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/322. Tabari, Tarikh 5/416
[2] Al Futuh 5/177
[3] Al Futuh 5/177
[4] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/392

may be able to pray to our Lord during the night to call upon Him and seek His forgiveness. He knows that I have always loved His formal prayer, the recitation of His Book and (making) many invocations to Him, seeking His forgiveness.”

His Eminence, Abbas returned to them and conveyed the message of his brother. Ibn Saad sought the counsel of Shimr in this matter for he feared that if he accepted it of his own accord, Shimr may report the matter to Ibn Ziyad because he was a spy of the governor on Ibn Saad. Or that if Ibn Ziyad were to blame him for giving respite he could claim that even Shimr was an ally in that decision.

Anyway, Shimr did not offer any suggestion and the matter was left to the discretion of Ibn Saad.

Amr bin Hajjaj Zubaidi condemned their refusal to accept Imam’s offer and said, “Glory be to Allah! By God, if the Dailam has put forth such a request you’d have found them worthier to be granted their wish.”[1]

In his statement the son of Hajjaj did not elaborate the subject and state that they were the Progeny of the Prophet lest the matter be reported to Ibn Marjana and he may be considered to be inclined towards Ahle Bayt. Thus earning disgrace from the governor and be deprived from material gains…

Ibn Ashath supported the view of son of Hajjaj and said to Ibn Saad, “Accept their proposal. By my life, tomorrow they shall be fighting against you.”

Ibn Ashath said this because he was under the impression that the Imam was inclined towards submission to Ibn Ziyad that is why he was asking for respite. However when he realized that the Imam was determined to fight it out, he regretted his words saying, “By Allah, if I knew that they would act in that way, I would never have accorded them any respite.”[2]

Ibn Ashath considered his own ethics and the ethics of Kufians to be a standard against which to judge people. And he was of the view that the Imam will accept humiliation and disgrace and turn away from completing his mission. He did not know that the Imam had inherited his existence and all his attitudes from his Holy grandfather.

Battle delayed till the morning next

After most commanders expressed willingness to postpone hostilities, Ibn Saad issued the permission to give respite till the next day. He told one of his men to announce this to the Imam’s camp. He came to the Imam’s encampments and called out, “O Companions of Husain bin Ali, we will grant you a day until tomorrow. Then if you surrender, we will send you to our governor, Ubaidullah bin Ziyad but if you refuse we will not leave you (any longer).”[3]

Battle was postponed till 10th of Mohurrum and companions of Ibn Saad waited for the next day to see if the Imam would agree to surrender to their demands or not.

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/57. Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/392
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/392
[3] Al Futuh 5/179

Imam (‘a) permitted his companions to go away

Imam (‘a) gathered his companions and Ahle Bayt (‘a) on the eve of 10th Mohurrum and asked them to go away anywhere from there and leave him alone to his destiny. His Eminence wanted to make them aware of his real position. So he told them:

“I glorify God with the most perfect glorification and I praise Him in happiness and misfortune. O God, I praise You for blessing us with prophethood, teaching us the Quran and making us understand the religion. You have given us hearing, sight and hearts, and have made us among those who give thanks (to You). I know of no followers more loyal and more virtuous than my followers, nor of any House more pious and more close-knit than my House. May God reward you well on my behalf. Indeed, I do not think that there will be any further days left to us by these men. I permit you to leave me. All of you go away with the absolution of your oath to follow me, for there will be no further obligation on you from me. This is a night whose darkness will give cover to you. Use it as a camel (i.e. ride away in it).

And each of you take the hand of one person from my family – so that the Almighty Allah bestows each of you a mighty reward – After that you spread out in the land till the time the Almighty makes the conditions favorable because these people do not want anyone except me and if they are able to get me they will not go after anyone else.”[1]

These valuable statements display the greatness of faith. It shows the style of thinking of the Holy Imam who was the guide of human perfections because in this delicate moment he had removed every type of doubt from them and made his helpers and family members fully aware of the circumstances, that showed that the definite result would be getting killed and laying down of lives as there was nothing else besides it…And he would have liked that they left him and went away  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/57-58. Ibne Jauzi, Muntazim 5/337-338 have mentioned the statement of the Imam in another way; because it has some in Maqtal Husain by Abdullah, Awalim 17/346-347 that His Eminence said: You are free from my allegiance, so join your family and friends. And he said to his Ahle Bayt: I permit you to leave me; because due to your small numbers do not have the capacity to face their huge number and except for me they do not want anyone else. So leave me for them as the Allah, the Mighty and the Sublime will help me and not deprive me of His good opinion; in the same way as He has done with the former ones. Thus some people from his camp left him but his Ahle Bayt (a.s.) said: We shall not leave you, whatever aggrieves you aggrieves us and whatever would befall you shall also befall upon us. We shall always remain with you, we shall be most proximate to the Almighty Allah. His Eminence told them: If you have prepared yourself for that which I have decided, you should know that the Almighty Allah bestows a lofty position to His servants for bearing hardships and if the Almighty Allah has reserved for me the honor that He has reserved for those of my family who have passed away – I am the last of their survivors – if I be bestowed with special bounties it would be easy to bear unwanted hardships and some of the honors of the Almighty Allah shall be there for you also. And know that the world is a sweet and bitter dream and the waking shall be in the hereafter and he is successful that shall be successful there and unfortunate is one that shall be unfortunate there.”

from him in the darkness of the night as their veil. Perhaps they may be ashamed to go away in daylight or that they may be afraid of him. So he himself released them from the pledges they had given him and he informed them that he was personally the actual target of those wild beasts. Such that if they are able to get him would did not have any other demand.[1]

Reply of Ahle Bayt of Imam Husain (‘a)

The Imam had not yet concluded his discourse that his purified and chosen family members stood up and announced that they have selected the very path they were treading on and they would not go any other way. All of them said tearfully, “We will not leave you to make ourselves continue living after your passing away. May God never let us see such a thing.”

Abbas bin Ali, peace be on them, was the first of them to make this declaration. Then the (whole) group followed him, (all) declaring the same thing.

“Sons of Aqil” said Husain, “enough of your family has been killed. So go away as I have permitted you.”

“Glory be to God,” they replied, “What would the people say? They would say that we deserted our Shaykh, our lord, the sons of our uncle, who was the best of uncles; that we had not shot arrows alongside them, we had not thrust spears alongside them, we had not struck swords alongside them. (At such an accusation) we do not know what we would do. No, by God, we will not do such a thing. Rather we will ransom you with our lives, property and families. We will fight for you until we reach your destination. May God make life abominable (for us) after your (death).”

Reply of Companions of Imam Husain (‘a)

The companions of Imam Husain (‘a) were brimming with faith because Aba Abdillah (‘a), in their view was having the loftiest principles, inclined towards virtue and eager to march towards the truth. And also that His Eminence was not in any pursuit of post, wealth or position. Rather he had left everything for the sole benefit of the community and religion. This matter had affected the depths of their consciences. And he had considered life worthless and was ridiculing death. Therefore they declared their loyalty and devotion to His Eminence. The following are some of their statements:

1. Muslim bin Ausaja

Muslim bin Ausaja, with tears flowing on his cheeks, came forward and told the Imam:

“Could we leave you alone? How should we excuse ourselves before God concerning the performance of our duty to you? By God, I will stab them with my spear until it breaks, I will strike them with my sword as long as the hilt is in my hand. If I have no weapon left to fight them with, I will throw stones at them. Till the time I am killed with you.”

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/419. Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/57-58

These statements spoke of the depth of his faith. He was convinced that he held responsibility before God for defending the beloved son of the Prophet and he would be questioned about it. And that he shall employ all his capacities to defend His Eminence.

2. Saeed bin Abdullah

Saeed bin Abdullah Hanafi began to speak and announced his sincere loyalty regarding the Imam saying:

“By God we will never leave you until God knows that we have preserved through you the company of his Apostle in his absence. By God, if I knew that I would die and then be revived and then burnt and then revived, and then scattered, and that would be done to me seventy times, I would never leave you until I met my death fighting on your behalf. So how could I do it when there can only be one death, which is a great blessing which can never be rejected?”

In the dictionary of loyalty there is no greater loyalty and more truthful than this as he aspires to be killed 70 times so that he may be sacrificed on the Imam and he may succeed in saving the honor of Allah’s Messenger. Now why should he not consider death in this way good, while it is not more than once and after which is such respectability that has no end.

3. Zuhair bin Qain

Zuhair bin Qain also spoke up on the lines of his brother in faith. He said, “By God, I would prefer to be killed and then recalled to life; and then be killed a thousand times in this manner; and that in this way God, the Mighty and Exalted, should protect your life and the lives of these young men of your House.”

These warriors had reached up to the level of such a great daring that no man has ever reached. They have imparted a praiseworthy lesson in loyalty on the path of truth.

Other companions spoke in similar veins, one after the other. Imam Husain (‘a) prayed to Allah to reward them well[1] and then informed them emphatically that all of them shall be martyred. They called out in unison, “Thanks be to Allah, that He favored us with being your helpers and honored us by martyrdom in your company. Should we not be elated that we shall also live in your level in your company, O son of the Messenger of Allah?”

The Imam (‘a) tested them and found them to be the most selected ones in rightfulness and loyalty. Their souls were illuminated by the effulgence of faith and free from all worldly attachments and they had become certain that they would be going to the garden of Perpetuity. According to historians they were eager for martyrdom so that they may qualify for the bounties of the Hereafter.

[1] Al Muntazim 5/338. Tabari, Tarikh 5/419-420

The Imam exposes the Deception of Kufians

Imam (‘a) told his companions how the Kufians had deceived His Eminence by writing to him and inviting him to Kufa. He said, “They wrote to me only to deceive me and get into the good books of Muawiyah’s son.”[1]

Letters sent by most people of Kufa to Imam (‘a) were sent on the directions of Yazid so that the Imam may come to them and be eliminated. And they had not written to His Eminence on the basis of faith or with the aim for justice.

With Muhammad bin Bashir

Among the companions of the Holy Imam, the one who had reached the highest ranks of faith was one Muhammad bin Bashir Hadhrami. He received the news that his son has been taken a hostage in Rayy. He said, “I do not like that he remains a prisoner and I should continue to live after him. Imam (‘a) by his statements thought that he wanted to get his son freed. Therefore he accorded him permission to go and get his son released. Imam said, “You are free, go and try to get your son freed.”

That great warrior announced his true resolve to continue in the service of the Holy Imam and sacrifice himself upon His Eminence, “May the wild beasts devour me alive, if I leave you…”[2]

Is it not the truest example of deep faith and great loyalty in the path of Imams? That they loved him and had sincerity regarding him and considered death to be nothing for his sake?

Firaas Makhzoomi Flees

Firaas bin Judah Makhzoomi was a close relative of Imam (‘a) because his father Judah’s mother was Umme Hani, daughter of Abu Talib. He was among those who had written to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) to rise up against the Umayyads during the lifetime of Muawiyah and he had joined the Imam at Mecca. He was with the Imam so far, till they reached Iraq. But when he saw the hardships and conglomeration of troops against the Imam he became afraid and was frightened of fighting. He was completely filled with awe. Imam asked him what was troubling him and gave him permission to go away in the dark of the night and he fled from there[3] and he could not achieve martyrdom[4] like some other people also who resorted to flight and could not prove themselves to be helpers of the Imam.

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/393
[2] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/182. Tahzib al-Kamal, 6/407. Biography of Imam Husain (a.s.) from Tabaqat Ibne Saad, Pg. 70
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/388
[4] Her Eminence, Sakina has narrated: “I heard my father say to someone who was with him: You came with me as you knew that I have come to those who have pledged allegiance to me by heart and by tongue and that you now see that Shaitan has overpowered them and they have left the remembrance of Allah and they have no intention except to kill me and anyone who performs Jihad with me and I fear that you had not expected this or known about this and you are not dispersing from me due to shame. And deceit and fraud is unlawful for us, Ahle Bayt, thus whoever doesn’t want to support us, this night is veil for them, so (you may) go away. Sakina said: They were ten and twenty persons who dispersed and except for less than eighty persons none remained with His Eminence.” This is mentioned in the second volume of Baghiyatun Nubla.

The Imam did not allow martyrdom for Sinful persons

Tibrani has reported that the Imam instructed a person to make the following announcement among the people who accompanied him, “Anyone who is having a debt upon him must not be killed with us.” So a man from his companions stood up and said to His Eminence, “A dept is payable upon me and my wife has stood surety for it.”

His Eminence said, “How can a woman stand as a surety?”[1]

Imam (‘a) wanted the martyrdom achievers with him to be pious people free from liabilities towards others. However here exists doubt because in this case the Imam has not accepted the surety of the wife for debt payable on the husband while there is unanimity in laws of Shariah as to the validity of the surety of the wife regarding monies, etc. and her equality with men in this regard. In our view the last sentence of the above mentioned report must have been a fabrication because Balazari has mentioned this report but not quoted the statement of that man that he was having a debt upon him and that his wife has given surety for it.

The Imam (‘a) speaks about his death

Imam (‘a) came to his tent and began to search for his sword, then began to prepare it for use, while he was reciting the following couplets:

“Time, shame on you as a friend! At the day’s dawning and the sun’s setting,

 How many a companion or seeker will be a corpse! Time will not be satisfied with any substitute.

The matter will rest with the Mighty One, and every living creature will have to journey along my path.”

By these couplets the Imam described his death to be the death of a noble man, while Imam Zainul Abideen (‘a) and Her Eminence, Zainab (‘a) were inside the tent. When Imam Zainul Abideen (‘a) heard the words of his father he understood what he wanted, thus he controlled his tears and remained silent and on the basis of what he said – he knew that tribulation had come upon them. However when the lady of Bani Hashim heard these lines she became agitated and knew that her beloved brother was determined to confront death and had decided to move towards martyrdom. Therefore she could not control herself; she jumped up, tearing at her clothes and sighing, and went to him. Her eyes were filled with tears. In broken words that came out with pieces torn from her heart she told her brother, “What a grief and what a sorrow! Would that death deprived me of life today. O dear Husain! As if today have died my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s), my mother, Fatima Zahra, my father, Ali and my brother, Hasan (‘a). O my surviving one and the guardian of those who survive!”[2]

[1] Al-Mojam al-Kabir 3/132
[2] Maqatilut Talibeen, Pg. 111-112

Imam looked upon her with affection and said, “My sister, don’t let Satan take away your forbearance.”

Her Eminence, Zainab with a face whose color had changed and with a deep sorrow breaking up her kind and aggrieved heart glanced at her brother and with pain and sadness said to him, “Will you take yourself to injustice and oppression so that my grief is prolonged and my heart is further aggrieved?”

At that time when she became sure that her brother will be killed, she could not control her emotions. She tore up her collar, struck her face and threw herself down.[1] Other ladies also shared in her terrible grief. Her Eminence, Umme Kulthum (‘a) lamented, “O Muhammad! O Ali! O my mother! O my Husain! After you, we shall be destroyed.”

That tragic scene affected the sensibilities of the Holy Imam (‘a) and his heart became filled with grief and remorse. He turned to those daughters of revelation and advised them to observe patience and forbearance in bearing these terrible hardships. He said, “O my sister! O Umme Kulthum! O Fatima! O Rabab! Take care! When I am killed, do not tear your clothes nor scratch your face or utter useless things.”[2]

The great Imam bore the most terrible kinds of tribulations and the worst of hardships and calamities that were proportionate to his faith in God and he had yet not become free of a difficulty that he was confronted with such a flood of calamities that man is unable to bear them.

Precautionary steps

Imam formulated an elaborate and detailed plan to organize his camp in accordance with the prevailing circumstances and he arranged his front in an outstanding and astonishing manner. He made his camp absolutely secure from external attacks. His Eminence came out in the dark of the night accompanied with Nafe bin Hilal and surveyed the adverse conditions of the surroundings and he checked them closely so that it may not be that they serve as ambush for the enemies during fighting. At that time he instructed his companions to take the following steps:

First: He ordered them to bring their tents much closer together so that the tent-pegs came within the area of each other’s tents. In our opinion they were not arranged in a single row. Rather they were bunched together in a few lines, so that if they remained among their tents, the enemy could only approach them from one side.[3]

Secondly: He asked them to dig up a ditch behind the tents which were around the tents of his relatives and family of His Eminence. Then the ditch was filled up with  

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/393. Al Muntazim5/338. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/177. As Sayyida Zainab wa Akhbaar az-Zainabiyat, Pg. 20-21
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/420. Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/393
[3] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/177

dried firewood and cane so that it may be fired up during the battle.[1] This was for the following reasons:

A. It was so that during the battle his women and children remain safe during the fighting because the enemies would not be able to cross the burning ditch.

B. They may be able to face the enemy from a single direction. So that there may not be multiple fronts and paucity of Imam’s men may be a serious drawback for them. If this step had not been taken the enemies would have attacked from all sides and finished them off in a short time and the battle wouldn’t have stretched to even a full day.

There were some special precautions that the Imam took to make the best of those difficult circumstances and the steps ordered by the Holy Imam clearly tell us about the martial expertise of the Imam and his knowledge about such complex matters.

Night of worship

The Holy Imam, with his Ahle Bayt and companions began to worship and with all their sincerity became attentive to the Almighty and on the basis of what the historians say. Their humming was like the humming of honeybees. They bowed, prostrated and recited the Quran and none of them slept for a moment. They recited hymns to Allah, humbled themselves before His court and begged for forgiveness and pardon.

Imam’s Companions Overjoyed

The Imam’s companions were overjoyed on receiving the glad-tidings of martyrdom in the service of the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s). Historians have recorded the statements of some of them which expressed astonishing happiness. For example, Habib bin Mazahir came out to his colleagues while he had a wide smile on his face. Yazid bin Haseen Tamimi objected to him and said, “This is not the time to laugh!”

Habib with deep faith replied to him, “What situation could be more deserving of joy than this? By Allah, very soon these oppressors would fall upon us with their swords and at that time we shall take the Horul Ein in our bosoms.”[2]

Burair also jested with Abdur Rahman Ansari but the latter was shocked by this behavior and he said, “What are you doing in such a situation?”

Burair told him, “My people know that neither in my old age nor in my youth have I ever committed a vain action. But I am elated at what we are going to experience. By Allah, there is no distance between us and the Black-eyed Houries of Paradise except that they attack us with their swords and I also like that they attack us.”[3]

[1] Waseelatul Maal fee idda manaqibul Aal, Pg. 190. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/187
[2] Kishi, Rijal Pg.79, No. 133
[3] Tabari, Tarikh 5/423. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/178

In the families of martyrs of the world faith like this is not found that in spite of being certain of the approaching catastrophe such certainty, recognition, right intention and great sincerity is being displayed…they were elated at being able to achieve Paradise along with the Prophets and the truthful ones and they had become sure that they would die the easiest death, the greatest type of death in the history of humanity in all generations and ages.

Shimr ridicules the Imam (‘a)

The Holy Imam (‘a) recited the ritual prayers, while the decadent impure man, Shimr bin Zil Jaushan[1] watched him. He was able to hear the Imam utter the following words of the Almighty:

“And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement. On no account will Allah leave the believers in the condition which you are in until He separates the evil from the good.”[2]

Shimr made fun of the Imam on hearing this and laughed out aloud.

Imam Husain’s Vision

After deadly pains had tired Imam Husain (‘a), His Eminence dozed off for a few moments then awoke and looked at his companions and said to them, “Do you know what I dreamt of?”

“Tell us what you saw?”

“I saw dogs attacking me and tearing me into pieces. And among then is a black and white dog who is attacking me more and I think that the one who is going to kill me is a man with leprosy spots from this community…

Then I saw my grandfather, Allah’s Messenger (s) accompanied by a group of his companions. He said to me, ‘My son, you are the martyr of the Progeny of Muhammad. The folks of the heavens and the higher worlds are talking among themselves about your arrival. Tonight you shall dine with us. Hurry up, do not delay.’ This is what I have seen. The command of the Lord has arrived and the passing away from this world is near.”[3]

A deep sorrow fell upon his Ahle Bayt and companions. They became sure of the impending calamity and the end of their journey in the world.

Distress of Ladies of the Prophet’s Family

The ladies of the Prophet’s family were terribly distressed. They could not get any relief on that immortal night in the world of sorrows because their thoughts were  

[1] In Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/178 it is mentioned: One who kept the Imam under surveillance was Abu Harb Sabi-i, Ubaidullah bin Shameer, who was a person always given to nonsensical talk.
[2] Surah Aale Imran 3:178
[3] Al Futuh 5/181

full of the impending doom and the imminent arrival of horrifying tribulations that seemed very much real. What would be their fate after they are separated from their guardian – the son of the Messenger of Allah (s)? That too when the members of the weaker sex were in a foreign land! And their cruel enemies had surrounded them from all sides? They began to lament and wail and beseech the Almighty Lord to save them from that terrible disaster.

However the enemies of Ahle Bayt spent the night in joyful anticipation of shedding their purified blood so that they may obtain the acclaim of Ibn Marjana. Riders of a battalion under the command of Urwah bin Qais[1] circled the camp of His Eminence, Husain (‘a) lest His Eminence escape their clutches or someone may come and join the entourage.

Imam applied Perfume and Anointed Himself

The Holy Imam and his loyal companions now prepared themselves for their meeting with the Almighty Lord and readied themselves for death. Imam (‘a) ordered the setting up of a tent in which was placed a vessel of musk and fragrance. Camphor was also procured. After that His Eminence entered the tent and applied the fragrant materials to his body. Then Burair entered and anointed himself. All the companions of His Eminence[2] followed suit one after another in order to prepare themselves for death and martyrdom in the way of Allah.

Day of Ashura

In the sky of the world no dawn ever broke as the dawn break of the 10th of Mohurrum and the sun of no other day arose like the sorrowful sun of that day…,because no tragedy in history is as painful and as terrible as the Tragedy of the day of Ashura[3] on the plains of Kerbala, as there did not remain a single calamity that did not befall the beloved grandson of Allah’s Messenger (s).

Imam Zainul Abideen (‘a) says, “No day for the Messenger of Allah (s) was as hard as the day of the battle of Uhad on which the uncle of His Eminence, that is Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib, the lion of God and His Prophet was killed. And after that was the day of the battle of Mutah on which his cousin, Ja’far bin Abu Talib was killed.” Then he (‘a) said, “There is no day like the day of the martyrdom of His Eminence, Husain (‘a). When 30000 mercenaries attacked him while claiming to be from this community and each of them was trying to obtain divine proximity by shedding the blood of His Eminence even though he reminded them of the Almighty but they did not accept his advice till they killed him most unjustly.”[4]

At dawn break of the day of Ashura the great Imam began the ritual prayer, which,  

[1] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/178
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 30/395-396. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/178
[3] Ashura is the tenth day of Mohurrum. It is said that it is a very ancient name and its cause was that on this day ten of the prophets were given ten miracles. This is mentioned on Pg. 22 of Al Anwaarul Husainia of Balawi.
[4] Biharul Anwar 22/274, H. 21 and 44/298, H. 4

according to historians, was performed with dry ablution (Tayammum) as no water was available for regular ablution (Wuzu), and the family members and companions of His Eminence prayed behind the Holy Imam (‘a).[1] Before they could conclude their recitations after the prayer, a war cry arose from the camp of Ibn Ziyad and armed battalions marched forward chanting: “Either we shall fight or sacrifice our lives for the orders of Ibn Marjana.”

Supplication of the Imam

The chief of the nobles emerged, glanced at the desert that was full of riders and foot-soldiers wielding their swords and spears and thirsty for his blood and that of the righteous members of his family and companions in order to get a paltry price from the son of Marjana. His Eminence asked for a copy of the Holy Quran and kept it on his head and humiliating himself in front of the Almighty recited:

“O God, it is You in Whom I trust amid all grief. You are my hope amid all violence. You are my trust and provision in everything that happens to me, no matter how much the heart may seem to weaken in it, trickery may seem to diminish my hope in it, the friend may seem to desert me in it, and the enemy may seem to rejoice in it. It comes upon me through You and when I complain to You of it, it is because of my desire for You, You alone. You have comforted me in everything and have revealed its significance to me. You are the Master of all grace, the Possessor of all goodness and the Ultimate Resort of all desire.”[2]

The profound faith of His Eminence is seen in this invocation that he turns to the Almighty in all the important matters and is devoted to Him. The Almighty Allah is his guardian and refuge so he seeks His protection in every circumstance and eventuality.

Firing up the Ditch

At dawn break the Imam ordered that the firewood in the ditch behind ladies’ tents be alighted so that it may prevent the enemy from attacking from the rear. Also that not more than one front be opened for the attackers.

Clamor of the Beastly Enemies

When fire was lighted in the ditch, some transmogrified persons from Ibn Ziyad’s camp rushed towards the Imam’s encampments and shouted in ferocious voices. Some of them were as follows:

1. Shimr bin Zil Jaushan

The filthy degraded monster, Shimr bin Zil Jaushan came towards the Imam’s camp and called out in a loud voice, “Husain, are you hurrying towards the fire (of Hell) before the Day of Judgment?”

[1] Etemaad al-Sultana Hasan bin Ali, Hujjatus Saadah fee Hujjatush Shohada (Persian) which Shaykh Muhammad Husain Aale Kashiful Ghita has translated into Arabic and it is present in manuscript form at the Public Library.
[2] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/216. Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/169-170. Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/60-61

Imam (‘a) replied, “Son of a goat-herdess you are worthy to be burnt by that.”

Muslim bin Ausaja wanted to shoot an arrow at him, but the Imam stopped him from doing that saying, “I am unwilling to begin the fighting against them.”[1]

2. Muhammad bin Ashath

Most degraded of the decadent, Muhammad bin Ashath came towards the Holy Imam calling out aloud, “Husain, now you shall go to Hell!”

The Imam (‘a) told him, “May the Almighty Allah curse you, your father and your community, O son of the sinful apostate and enemy of Allah, the Prophet and Muslims.”[2]

3. Abdullah bin Hawza

Abdullah bin Hawza, the lowly man, hastened towards the Imam’s area and said, “O Husain, glad-tidings for Hell for you.”

The Imam turned his statement towards him, “I am going to the Merciful Lord and an intercessor who is obeyed (the Prophet)” Then he asked about him, it was told that he was the son of Hawza. The Holy Imam raised his hands in prayer and cursed, “May Allah put him in the Hawza (pool) of fire.”

With that his horse upset him in its stride and he fell. His left leg was stuck in the stirrups and his right leg was free. Muslim bin Ausaja attacked him and struck his right leg and cut it off. The horse galloped off (dragging) him (along) and his head struck every stone and clod of earth until he died.[3] God hurried his soul to (Hell) fire. (More) fighting then broke out and more men were killed.

When al-Hurr bin Yazid perceived that the people were determined to fight al-Husain, peace be on him, he said to Umar: “Are you going to fight this man?”

“Yes,” he replied, “it will be a terrible battle, the least part of which will be heads falling and severed hands flying (through the air).”

“Haven’t you any other way of getting what you want?”

“If the matter rested with me,” answered Umar, “I would do (anything else), but your governor has refused (any alternative).”[4]

Masruq bin Wael Hadhrami saw this scene while he were himself thinking about killing the Imam and obtaining reward from Ibn Marjana. At that moment he began to regret his decision and realized the true status of Ahle Bayt (‘a) near the Almighty God. Hence he left the battlefield and ran away due to the fear of divine wrath.[5]

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 30/396
[2] Miraat az-Zamaan fee Tawarikhul Ayaan
[3] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 3/399. Tadhib at-Tahdhib 1/155
[4] Khwarizmi, Maqtal 1/249
[5] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/66

Both camps became fully prepared

Both the opposite camps became fully alert and ready for the battle. The Imam prepared his army of 72 riders and foot-soldiers. Zuhair bin Qain was given the charge of the right wing and Habib bin Mazahir the command of the left wing. Himself and his Ahle Bayt he placed in the center of the battalion[1] and entrusted his standard to his helper and brother, Abbas.[2]

Ibn Saad also organized his battalions and placed Abdullah bin Zuhair Azadi at the helm of the Medina division and put Qais bin Ashath at the head of the Rabia and Kinda division. Abdur Rahman bin Abi Sabra Jofi was commanding the Madhij and Asad division. Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi was placed at the command of Hamadan division.[3] At the right wing of the army he placed Amr bin Hajjaj as the controller and the left wing he placed under Shimr bin Zil Jaushan. Urwah bin Qais Ahami was made the commander of the mounted warriors and Shabth bin Rabi at the charge of footed soldiers. His standard, he gave to his slave, Duraid.[4] In this manner both the armies became prepared for battle and fighting.

Severe Objections

The Holy Imam with his great companions made an effort to complete the argument on the people of Kufa and inform them about their true circumstances (the reality of their attitude) and to make them aware of the deadly sin they were about to indulge in, that it was very near that heavens may be rent asunder, the earth may split into pieces and mountains may crash. They tried all means to give them good counsel and restrain those changed people from rushing towards the fire of Hell.

Imam’s Address

The Imam called for his horse, mounted it and galloped to Ibn Saad’s army in such a way that the awe of his grandfather was apparent in him. He stood before them and delivered a historical address which has remained a literary masterpiece of Arabic literature in its eloquence and beauty. His Eminence spoke up in a loud voice audible to most of those present there:

“O people of Iraq,” - and most of them began to listen to him – “People, listen to my words and do not hurry to attack me so that I may remind you of the duties you have towards me and so that by telling you the true circumstances I may free myself from any blame in your attacking me. If you give me justice, you will become happier through that. If you do not give me justice of your own accord as individuals, then agree upon your affairs and your associates; let not your affair be in darkness to you. Then carry it out against me and do not reflect any further. Indeed my guardian is God, Who created the Book, He takes care of the righteous.”[5]

[1] Muqarram, Maqtal al-Husain Pg. 225
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/422
[3] Miraat az-Zamaan Pg. 92
[4] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/60
[5] Tabari, Tarikh 5/424

The breeze carried the voice of His Eminence to the great ladies of the family of Prophethood and the women of the house of revelation. They began to lament and their wails arose. His Eminence sent his brother, His Eminence Abbas and his son, Ali towards them and told them to restrain them from weeping as soon they would have to weep much more.

When the ladies were silenced the Imam continued his address. He thanked and praised the Almighty and invoked blessings on His Prophets, Angels and Messengers. In that discourse he spoke in such a way that no speaker has ever been heard before or after him more eloquent in his speech.[1] He said:

“O people, the Almighty Allah created the world and made it an abode of death and destruction. And it takes its inmates from one place to another. Then deceived is the one who is deceived by it. That is unfortunate who has been corrupted by it. Hence this world must not deceive you. As it cuts off the hope of all those who rely on it and whosoever is greedy about it, fails. I see you that you gathered upon a matter with which you have made the Almighty wrathful upon you, that He has turned away His merciful face from you and has decreed his revenge on you. The best lord is our Lord and the worst servants are you. You agreed to obey and brought faith in Muhammad, the Prophet and now you are the same people who marched against his progeny and intend to eliminate them. The Satan has you under his control and he has made you forgetful of the remembrance of Almighty God. Thus, woe be upon you and what you have intended. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.

They are those who have disbelieved after their acceptance of faith. Keep aloof from these oppressors.”[2]

Imam counseled them through these words, that illuminated the teachings of the Prophet and the efforts of the Prophets regarding their communities and warned them of the deceptions and frauds of the material world. He threatened them about the future loses they would have to suffer and restrained them from stepping forward to slay the Progeny of their Prophet by which they shall go out the pale of faith into infidelity and become eligible for everlasting wrath and punishment of the Almighty God.

His Eminence spoke further and continued in the same vein, “Trace back my lineage and consider who I am. Then look back at yourselves and remonstrate with yourselves. Consider whether it is right for you to kill me and to violate the honor of my womenfolk. Am I not the son of the daughter of your Prophet, of his testamentary trustee (wasi) and his cousin, the first of the believers in God and the man who first believed in what his Apostle, may God bless him and his family, brought from his Lord? Was not Hamzah, the lord of the martyrs, my uncle? Was not Ja’far, the one who flies in Heaven, my uncle? Have you not heard the words  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/61
[2] Biharul Anwar 45/5-6

of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, concerning myself and my brother: ‘These are the two lords of the youths of the inhabitants of heaven’? Whether you believe what I am saying and it is the truth, for by God I have never told a lie since I learnt that God hated people who told them - or whether you regard me as a liar, there are among you those who, if you asked them, would tell you: Ask Jabir bin Abd Allah al-Ansari, Abu Said al-Khudri, Sahl bin Sad al-Saidi, Zaid bin Arqam and Anas bin Malik to tell you that they heard these words from the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, concerning myself and my brother. Is there not sufficient in this to prevent you from shedding my blood?”

I don’t know of any discourse more eloquent and affectionate than this with regard to its style in such a delicate moment when even the lion-hearted ones become dumb and the valiant one become tongue-tied, we are compelled to say…this discourse befitted only one who had come with presence of mind and created a revolution of views and actions in their ranks because His Eminence asked them to come to their senses and think logically if they were in control of their reasoning capacity, so that they study the matter carefully and know that he was the grandson of their Prophet, the son of his vicegerent and the nearest in kin to the Messenger. He was also the Chief of the youths of Paradise. There is this justification to observe the sanctity of his life and that his blood must not be shed. But those mercenaries who could not understand this beneficial logic, remained adamant to wreak oppression. The darkness of misguidance had covered their conscience and reason which had taken away from them, Allah’s remembrance.

“If I understand what you are saying,” interrupted Shimr bin Zil Jaushan, “then I only worship God (very shakily) on the edge.”

Those stony intellects covered with the dust of falsehood could not understand the Imam and perceive what he was saying.

“I think that you worship God (very shakily) on seventy edges,” said Habib bin Mazahir “for I testify that you are right. You do not understand what he is saying. For God has impressed ignorance upon your heart.”

The Holy Imam continued speaking and said, “If you are in any doubt about this, you are in doubt that I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. By God there is no son of a prophet other than me among you and among the peoples from East to West. Shame on you, are you seeking retribution from me for one of your dead whom I have killed, or for property of yours which I expropriated, or for a wound which I have inflicted?”

The earth began to tremble under their feet and they became bewildered what to say in reply, because they had not a doubt that he was the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s) and the beloved grandson of the Prophet and they had no demand from him regarding some blood he had shed or some property he had plundered from them.

After that the Imam called out the commanders of Kufa who had personally written to him, inviting him to Kufa, “Shabth bin Rabi, Hijar bin Abjar, Qais bin Ashath, Yazid bin Harith, didn’t you write: ‘The fruit has ripened; the dates have grown green; come to an army which has been gathered for you’?”

Those consciences that had broken their pledges and disregarded their vows had no shame at all. Thus they all resorted to lying and said, “We never did so.”

The Imam was astonished at this and he said, “Glory be to God, you have indeed done so.”

Imam (‘a) turned away from them and addressed individual soldiers and said, “O people! If you are not pleased with me, leave me so that I may go to any safe place.”

Qais bin Ashath, well known for his deception and hypocrisy and who was in every way distant from nobility and respect – and it is sufficient for him that he was from a family that did not produce a single noble soul – glanced at the Holy Imam and said, “Do you not accept the command of your cousins? They have never treated you with anything but what you liked and no unfavorable behavior shall be shown to you.”

Imam (‘a) replied to him, “You are the brother of your brother (like them)? Do you want that Bani Hashim demand from you more than the retaliation for the blood of Muslim bin Aqil? No, by Allah! I will never give them my hand like a man who has been humiliated; nor will I flee like a slave.[1] O servants of God, I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from your stoning. I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every haughty man who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning.”[2]

Kingdoms shall be destroyed and regimes shall keep on changing but those immortal words shall remain forever because they expressed the greatness of truth, humanity, nobility and courage.

Pity that there brilliant words did not leave any imprint on those adamant people because ignorance had closed all the doors of their perception. “Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing and there is a covering over their eyes, do you think they hear and understand? They are like cattle, rather more astray than them.”

They had totally rejected the call of the Imam and accorded no importance to it. Almighty Allah has rightly said:

“Surely you do not make the dead to hear, and you do not make the deaf to hear the call when they go back retreating.”[3]

[1] And in a report, “I will not submit like slaves”.
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/421-424. Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 552-553
[3] Surah Naml 27:80

Zuhair’s Speech

Zuhair bin Qain addressed the soldiers and delivered a speech full of good counsel. He spoke as follows:

“O people of Kufa! Beware of the divine chastisement. It is the duty of every Muslim to dispense good counsel to his Muslim brother. So far we were brothers in one faith till hostilities had not emerged between us and you are deserving of good counsel from us. When swords are drawn, it is the end of security. We shall become one community and you another. The Almighty Allah has tested us and you through the Progeny of His Messenger so that it be seen how we behave. We invite you to help them and leave off the obedience of the tyrant Yazid and Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad as you shall see nothing during their regimes except evil. You shall be blinded, maimed, cut up into pieces and impaled on date palms like your elders and reciters of Quran like Hujr bin Adi, his companions, Hani bin Urwah and other like them were dealt with.”

These statements are full of most expressive and outstanding proof; because it contains the call towards truth with all its dimensions of meanings and warning about divine punishment and anger. It explained to them that the aim of warning them was only to fulfill a religious duty as it is incumbent for one Muslim to advise his Muslim brother – when he sees the latter deviated from the truth – he should enjoin him…and it informed them before the Hell fire may be lighted up; because Islamic brotherhood brings them together, thus whenever fighting occurs, the roots of that brotherhood are cut off and each one of the two communities would become a distinct group whom the connections of the Islamic faith have not brought to each other. They were also reminded that the Almighty Allah has tested the Muslims through the Progeny of His Prophet and He has made their love incumbent in His honored book so that people may be shown how to behave with them.

In the same way the speech called their attention to the injustice and oppression of the Umayyads and how they had dealt with such righteous personages as Hujr bin Adi, Mitham Tammar and others who opposed the oppression and stood up against persecution due to which the Umayyad regime wreaked horrible punishments upon them, gouged out their eyes, maimed them and impaled them on date palms.

Zubair had hardly concluded his speech that some soldiers of Ibn Saad began to ridicule him in the most shameless manner. They threatened him and Imam (‘a) with death and said, “We are such that we shall kill your friend and his companions or we shall make him and his friends surrender to Ubaidullah bin Ziyad.”

Zuhair replied to them with the logic of truth saying, “O servants of Allah! The sons of Fatima are more deserving of friendship and support than the son of Sumaiyyah. I implore you to seek refuge of Allah lest you put them to death…you leave this man for Yazid that by my life, he will accept your obedience without your killing Husain.”

Many of them fell silent and confusion and bewilderment overcame them. When Shimr bin Zil Jaushan saw this condition he feared that the army would be inclined to peace. So he shot an arrow towards Zuhair saying, “Keep quiet, may God kill you, I am fed up with your lecture.”

Zuhair regarded him with disdain and looked towards him as if he were the most decadent creature. He told him, “I was not speaking to you; you are not greater than cattle. And by Allah, I don’t think you know even two verses from the Book of Allah. Then be sure of humiliation of the Day of Judgment and painful chastisement.”

That degraded man was enraged by the words of Zuhair and he screamed at him, “Till another time, the Almighty will kill you and your friend.”

Zuhair said, “Do you threaten me with death? By Allah, for me death being immortality is more preferable to me than you.”

Then Zuhair glanced at the soldiers and said, “O servants of Allah, let not this rude oppressor and his like deviate you from your religion. By Allah, the intercession of Muhammad (s) shall not reach those who shed the blood of his progeny, Ahle Bayt, companions and defenders.”

Imam noticed that Zuhair’s speech had no effect on those transmogrified people, so he told one of his companions to restrain him from continuing his dialogue. He went towards him and said, “Aba Abdillah has sent you message that you come back, as by my life, if the believer of the people of Firon had counseled his people and called them to truth, you have also counseled these people and dispensed them good advice if they be of any use.”[1]

Burair’s speech

The prominent Shaykh, Burair bin Khudhair began to exhort the army: “O people! The Almighty Allah sent Muhammad as a warner, a giver of glad-tidings, a caller towards Allah and a shinning lamp. This is the water of Euphrates, the pigs and dogs of this area dive into it, but between it and the son of the daughter of the Prophet of God a distance has been created. Is this the way that you recompense Muhammad (s)?”

They abandoned all nobility and shame and said, “O Burair, you have talked a great deal. Do not say anymore. Husain shall suffer thirst in the same way as before him one had to bear the thirst.”

He warned and showed them the way to the right path, “O people, the family of Muhammad (s) is in front of you. They are the progeny, family, daughters and members of his clan so tell us what you want to do with them?”

They replied to him, “We like to impose the authority of governor Ubaidullah upon them so that he may decide to do whatever he wants with them.” Burair reminded them of their pledges and letters that they had sent to His Eminence. He said, “Will  

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/426-427

you not accept from them for which they have come and that they should turn away from it?

Woe be on you, O people of Kufa. Have you forgotten your letters and pledges that you gave him and had them witnessed by Lord Almighty? After having invited the Ahle Bayt of your Prophet and having promised that you shall lay down your lives to defend them do you now want to hand them over to Ibn Ziyad and deny them the water of Euphrates? How cruel is your behavior to the progeny to your Prophet after he has passed away. What would happen to you, Allah will not quench you on the day of Qiyamat as you are the worst people?”

Some of those, whose conscience had become deviated, denied having sent any letters or giving pledges to the Imam. They said, “We don’t know what you are talking about.”

Burair realized their adamancy on sin and their unanimity of intention to commit the infamy. He said, “Thanks be to Allah for having given me more perception regarding you. O Allah, I openly declare my aloofness from the actions of these people. O my Lord, gather them all in such a way that You are infuriated at them. (Be angry!)”

They laughed at him and began to shoot arrows at him.[1] He also went away from them.

Speech of Imam Husain (‘a)

Kindness and affection of the Imam with regard to his enemies impelled His Eminence to once more try to persuade them to leave off this path of sin so that none from them would have any excuse remaining that he had not been sufficiently warned. Hence he went towards them carrying open the Book of Allah, wearing the turban of his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s) and armed with the weapons of His Eminence. He exuded such awe that foreheads humbled before him and eyes could not dare to look upon him. Then he told them:

“May destruction and sorrow afflict you, O people! After calling me eagerly when I hastened to respond you, you have drawn out your swords on me? Have you inflamed the fire against us and for the benefit of your enemies that we had ignited for your and our enemies, without there being any justification for you in that? O do you have hope in it, against your friends you have prepared? Or that if you have hope from them that you have gathered against your friend. Should you not be troubled by hardships when the sword is not yet drawn and no sort of harm has been caused to you? And nothing has been given to it, but you hastened to him like the green locusts and you have come to him like the falling of moths into the fire. At that time you broke the pledge. This humiliation afflicted you because of that. O slaves of the community, outcasts of the tribes and those who have distanced from the Book of Allah and the Sunnahs! Woe be upon you! Will you support these people and deny your assistance to us? Indeed, by Allah, it is a betrayal of  

[1] Biharul Anwar 5/182-183

trust among you that your roots have become firm on it and your branches have matured and become strong on it and you have put forth the worst of the fruits, such that you aggrieve one who looks and you become the diet of every usurper.

Verily, this wicked one son of the wicked one, has put forth two options, be killed by the sword or be humiliated. Never! I shall never opt for degradation. Allah, His Prophet, believers, the pure ones, the purified, the exalted and the noble souls would never accept it from me, that I should prefer the humiliation of a decadent person instead of martyrdom of great men. Indeed, I shall fight with these (mine) family members in spite of the scarcity of their number and despite the fact that they (Kufians) have withdrawn their support from us.”

After that he recited the following couplets of Faruta bin Maseek Muradi:

“If we are able to vanquish them, we have vanquished them before also many times and if we are defeated we shall not be of the vanquished ones.

Fear does not come upon us. It is our death and the wealth of others.

Tell those who ridicule to take lesson from us as they shall see what we have seen.

By Allah! After that you shall not remain but as much as one who mounts the horse and it rotates like a hand mill on you and its pivot shakes you up.

I have heard this from my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s): Therefore, sit together and think and decide upon this matter so that your actions may not make you full of remorse. And then you do whatever you want with me without giving further respite. Surely I rely on Allah, my Lord and your Lord; there is no living creature but He holds it by its forelock; surely my Lord is on the right path.”*[1]*

After that he raised up his hands and prayed: “O Allah! Prevent the clouds from raining on them and make them suffer a famine like that of the time of Yusuf. O Lord! Impose the slave of Thaqif (Hajjaj bin Yusuf) on them so that he may make them taste all kinds of kinds of disgrace and indignity and injustice and oppression as they have rejected me and they have left me without friends. Our Lord! On Thee do we rely, and to Thee do we turn, and to Thee is the eventual coming.”[2]

By these statements, His Eminence burst out like a volcano and displayed such determination and will power as was never seen before. The Imam’s monologue contained the following points:

First: His Eminence severely condemned them for their misdeeds because when they wrote to him for help and he harkened to their call and hastened to come they did an about turn and drew their swords on His Eminence, that were supposed to be drawn against their enemies who had made all efforts to humiliate them and forced them against their will.

[1] Khwarizmi, Maqtal Husain (a.s.) 2/8. Al Lohoof, Pg. 157
[2] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 14/218-219. Khwarizmi, Maqtal Husain (a.s.) 2/8. Al Lohoof, Pg. 157

Secondly: His Eminence expressed his deep regret for their assistance to the Umayyad regime, a regime that neither acted with justice among them nor spread truth. Nor did they have any hope or aspiration in that regime.

Thirdly: He severely denounced the qualities present in them that had made them the most degraded people of the world; because they were slaves of the community, outcasts of the tribes, those who had become aloof from Quran and they were from the sinners and other evil traits were also found in them.

Fourth: His Eminence clearly announced his emphatic denial to accept the demands of Ibn Marjana, because he wanted to insult His Eminence and far from it that the Imam should have submitted to him, because he had been created to make humanity and lofty values prominent. Then how could he have surrendered to that wicked one, son of the wicked one?

Fifth: His Eminence announced his determination to wage the battle and said that he would step into the battlefield with members of his clan, who were outstanding warriors, steadfast and who considered death to be of no consequence.

Sixth: His Eminence told them what their future shall be after they have killed him; that the Almighty Allah imposes upon them a tyrant who would force them to drink the bitter cup and wreak upon them a terrible punishment. Not much time passed that Mukhtar rose up against them and filled up their hearts with trepidation and horror and butchered them with fury.

These were some of the sensitive points present in the blessed sermon of His Eminence, a speech that was delivered with the power of eloquence and strength of determination and the army of Ibn Saad was thrown into confusion and bewilderment.


Hurr’s Response

Hurr’s soul beckoned him towards righteousness and his conscience was awakened by the speech of the Holy Imam. In that moment that shaped his destiny, he fell into contemplation by which there raged a mental tug-of-war in his mind. Should he join His Eminence, Husain (‘a) and sacrifice his life and position in spite of his being a commander having status in the view of the regime that had trusted him and appointed him as the leader of the vanguard of its army? Or that he should remain an opponent of the Imam in battle, in which case there was everlasting chastisement for him?

However Hurr responded to the call of his conscience and overcome the mental tug-of-war. He decided to join His Eminence, Husain (‘a). Before he set out towards His Eminence he came to Ibn Saad and asked him, “Are you going to fight this man?”

Ibn Saad replied at once without any sort of hesitation and to display his sincerity for his master, Ibn Marjana before the outstanding commander, “Yes, it will be a terrible battle, the least part of which will be heads falling and severed hands flying (through the air).”

Hurr again asked him, “Haven’t you any other way of getting what you want?”

Ibn Saad said, “If the matter rested with me I would do (anything else), but your governor has refused (any alternative).”

When Hurr became certain that those people were determined to fight the Imam, he broke the ranks while he was trembling, he came forward which surprised Muhajir bin Aws, a man of Ibn Ziyad. In a voice of doubt and suspicion he said to Hurr, “By God, I have never seen you act like this before. If I was asked who was the bravest of the Kufians, I would not normally neglect to mention you. What is this I see in you, today?”

Hurr revealed his reality, to him and told him about his intention. He said, “By God, I find myself with alternatives of Heaven and Hell and I shall not prefer anything to Paradise even though I am cut to pieces and burnt.”

With that he whipped his horse and galloped over and joined the Imam[1] while he was immersed in shame and regret. When he reached the Imam he said in a loud voice, “O my Lord I am turning towards you while I have terrified Your saints and the son of Your Prophet. O Aba Abdillah, I have repented, would I be forgiven?”[2]

After that he dismounted his horse while his tears were glistening on his face. He stood before the Holy Imam and said, “May I be your ransom, son of the Apostle of God?” he said, “I was your companion who stopped you from returning. I accompanied you along the road and made you stop in this place. But I did not think that the people would refuse to respond to what you have offered them and that they would ever come to this position in which they have now come to with regard to you. By God, if I had I known that they would finish up by doing what I am seeing them do to you, I would not have committed what I have committed against you. I repent to God for what I have done. Will you accept my repentance?”

Imam was glad he was joining him and he forgave him saying, “Yes, Allah has accepted your repentance and forgiven you.”[3]

At that time Hurr related to the Imam a dream he had seen, “Last night I saw my father in dream that he was asking me: What are you doing these days, and where are you? I replied: I was in pursuit of Husain. He told me: Woe be on you, what has happened to you. Are you pursuing Husain, the son of Allah’s Messenger (s)…? I request you to grant the permission to fight so that I may be the first to be killed in your service just as I was the first one to attack you?”[4]

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/427. Kamil 4/64
[2] Saduq, Amali, Pg. 23. Ibne Tawus, Lohoof, Pg. 160
[3] Kamil 4/64, Ad Durrun Nadheem, Pg. 553-554
[4] Khwarizmi, Maqtal Husain (a.s.) 2/10

Hurr’s speech to the soldiers

Hurr asked the Imam’s permission to exhort the people of Kufa and counsel them. Perhaps some of them would turn back from their wrong attitude towards the path of truth. The Imam accorded him the permission and he set out to address them. He called out in a loud voice:

“People of Kufa, your mothers will be deprived of their sons and tears will come to their eyes. Have you summoned this righteous man; but when he has come to you, have you handed him over to his enemies? Did you claim that you would fight with your own lives for him, and then have you begun to attack him in order to kill him? You have laid hold of his life; you have seized his throat; you have encircled him on every side in order to prevent him returning to God’s broad land (i.e. the Hijaz). He has come into your hands like a prisoner who no longer has the power to use his own life and cannot defend it against harm. You have prevented him, his womenfolk, his children and his people from getting the water of the Euphrates which Jews, Christians and Magians may drink, and which the pigs and dogs of Sawad drink. They (al-Husain’s family) are likely to die of thirst. How wickedly you have treated the offspring left by Muhammad. May God not give you water to drink on the Day of Thirst if you do not repent from your current attitude and make amends for it.”

The earth began to shake below their feet because there were hundreds of people like Hurr involved in waves of mental tussle and who were certain that what they were doing was wrong, however they had responded positively to their selfish desires due to their love for the world. Some of these transformed people showed impudence to Hurr and shot arrows towards him as their argument.[1]

Thirty mounted fighters join Imam’s Army

Thirty riders from the army of Ibn Saad joined the Imam’s camp and before leaving said to the people of Kufa, “The son of Allah’s Messenger (s) presented three proposals but you did not accept anyone of them.” They fought bravely on the side of the Holy Imam till they were martyred in his service.[2]

The Battle

All the efforts that Imam made to maintain peace and avoid bloodshed were defeated and Ibn Saad also feared prolonging the matter because he was afraid lest there develop two opposing groups in the army and the deserting of 30 riders to join the Imam’s camp had shaken him. On the basis of this, that tyrant approached the encampment of the Imam and fixing an arrow to his bow released it towards them saying, “Testify about me to the governor that I was the first to fire to Husain.”

By shooting the arrow that initiated the battle, Ibn Saad wanted to gain the confidence of his ruler, Ibn Marjana and he wanted the soldiers to witness to him  

[1] Kamil 4/64
[2] Tadhib at-Tahdhib 1/152

about Ibn Saad’s sincerity and loyalty towards him so that he may continue to trust him and dispel any doubts he may be having regarding him that he did not make his best efforts in fighting against Husain.

Arrows began to rain upon the entourage of Imam Husain (‘a) from the side of Ibn Saad. Such that no one from the Imam’s side remained but that he was injured by an arrow, and in this way was destroyed the argument for peace that the Imam had desired. His Eminence waited for the enemy to take the first sinful step and when they initiated the hostilities it became obligatory on His Eminence to fight in self defense. Such an obligation that there was no doubt in it. Therefore the Holy Imam turned to his companions and allowed them to begin fighting, “O noble souls, arise as these arrows shot by those people are targeting you.”

Vanguards of truth from the companions of the Imam came forward in the battlefield and in this way started a furious battle that continued to rage for quite sometime. Absolutely never before and after it had such a battle occurred on the face of the earth, because on one side were 32 horsemen and 40 foot soldiers and on the other were tens of thousands. That small group fought against that huge army which was well-equipped and strong in an outstanding manner.

And they displayed such valor and courage that the intellects were astonished and minds were perplexed.

The Imam’s companions dived into the battlefield with absolute faith in purity of intention because they were convinced that they were fighting for the sake of religion they believed in. And they dedicated their lives in its way. Through an outstanding Jihad they established such an honor to this community that no honor could equal it and they made such a great bestowal to humanity that nothing like it has ever been gifted throughout its history.