Muhammadan Reality Site
The History of Karbala
It is a common phenomenon that the fame enjoyed by a person is seldom in proportion to his real greatness. Strange as it may seem, the personages who reach the highest pitch of Grandeur, sanctity and fame are associated with legends rather than historical facts. In view of this experience, Ibn Khaldun, a philosophical historian, laid down a general principle that the more an incident becomes popular the more a network of unfounded tales and stories is woven around it. The German poet Goethe has stated the same truth in a different way. He says that when human greatness reaches its peak, it becomes a legend.
The important place Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) occupies in Islamic History is too well known and requires no elucidation. Subsequent to the period of the Holy Last Messenger’s true successors, the incident that had a powerful impact on the religious and political history of Islam is the tragic event of Hazrat Imam Husain’s Shahadat (martyrdom). It may not be an exaggeration to say that no tragic incident that has occurred in this world caused humanity to shed tears so profusely as this particular event. More than thirteen hundred years have passed since this soul-stirring event in Islamic history and still the month of Muharram brings to the mind of every Muslim a vivid remembrance of the noble sacrifice offered by Hazrat Imam Husain ibn Ali bin Abu Talib (radi Allahu ‘anh).
In spite of this, how curious it is that a powerful and tragic event of great import has assumed the shape of a fable than a historical fact. If a fact-finder wishes to study this event in the light of reliable evidences of history, in most of the cases he will be disappointed. The existing popular material on the subject is meant only for narration in religious assemblies exciting the feelings of sorrow and grief for the martyrs.
A few details of the event leading to the martyrdom of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) are given in this book. It should be borne in mind that this description does not seek to make a historical criticism, but it aims at presenting bare facts relating to Hazrat Imam Husain’s martyrdom in a chronological order.
The Ahlul Bayt (members of the Holy Nabi’s family) had a valid claim to Khalifat for themselves. Soon after the death of Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan, his son Yazid declared himself the Khalif since he had been nominated a successor to Mu’awiyah during his lifetime. Yazid demanded allegiance from Hazrat Husain ibn 'Ali (Radiyallahu ‘anh). As the nomination to Caliphate was contrary to the spirit of the Islamic constitution, Hazrat Husain ibn 'Ali (Radiyallahu ‘anh) was averse to it and he, therefore, refused to take the oath of allegiance in favor of Yazid.
Khalif Hazrat 'Ali (Radiyallahu ‘anh) declared Kufa as the Capital of Caliphate. Consequently a large number of supporters of Ahlul Bayt were gathered there. They invited Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) to Kufa and assured their support to him. Hazrat Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) deputed his cousin Hazrat Muslim bin 'Aqil (Radiyallahu ‘anh) for obtaining bay’ah (allegiance) from the residents of Kufa and himself started preparation for undertaking a journey to Kufa.
All the well wishers, friends and relatives who knew the intention of Hazrat Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) were extremely perturbed and dissuaded him from doing so, reminding him of the proverbial infidelity and fickle-mindedness of the Kufans. They also knew the betraying mentality of Banu Umayya in the past. So they requested Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) to postpone his proposed journey to Kufa. Hazrat ‘Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) said: “The people are extremely worried over your proposed journey to 'Iraq. The factual position may please be made known to the public.” Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) replied, “I have taken a firm decision in this regard and I shall leave for Kufa within a day or so.” Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) instantly remarked: “May Allah protect you! Are you going amidst such people who have made their Amir helpless, crushed their opponents, and have taken over the control of the country? If so, you may gladly go to Kufa and if otherwise, their invitation to you is an open declaration of war. I am afraid that they may betray you.” Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) did not take notice of this humble submission of Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) and stuck to his decision.
At the time of departure of Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh), Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) again approached him and requested him humbly to give up the decision of his proposed tour. He spoke very impatiently: “My dear cousin, I can't remain a silent spectator of your doom, the Kufans are munafiqeen (hypocrites) and cheaters; never trust them; better stay here in Hijaz; no body excels you, if Iraqis are sincere in calling you over there, ask them first to expel your opponents from the country. In case you have decided to leave Hijaz; you may better go to Yemen where there are many forts and impassable mountains, a vast territory having a big population loyal to the memory of your father. There you will be beyond the reach of your enemies. With Yemen as your base you can spread your message around by letters and messengers. I am sure such a course will bring you success.” Hazrat Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) replied, “O my cousin! I am really grateful for your kind sentiments and good wishes for me, but I have already made up my mind to go to Kufa.” Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) further requested: “if you are not going to accede to my request, better leave the women and children here, I apprehend that you may not be slain before their eyes just as Hazrat Uthman (Radiyallahu ‘anh) was assassinated in the presence of the members of his family.” Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anh) remained silent for a moment and then said: “Had it been possible that a gathering of the people over here could prevent you from your intention, I would have arranged it just now.” However Hazrrat Imam Husain (Radiyallahu ‘anh) adhered to his Scheduled program.
Likewise a number of people appealed Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) to change his decision. One of his cousins ‘Abdullah ibn Ja’far (radiyallahu ‘anh) wrote to him a letter from Madinah, which reads:
Hazrat Abdullah ibn Ja’far (radiyallahu ‘anh) even approached ‘Umar bin Sa'id bin al-Aas, the Governor of Madinah and requested him to apprise Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) of the factual position through a letter. ‘Umar directed him to draft a letter on which he will affix a seal. Thus ‘Abdullah (radiyallahu ‘anh) wrote a letter on behalf of the Governor which reads:
Still Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) stuck to his decision.
Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) left Makka for Iraq along with the members of his family, including all men, women and children. While on his way he met a well-known poet Fardhuq at a place called Saffah. When interrogated by Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) about the people of Kufa, the poet answered: “Their hearts are with you, but their swords are with the Umayyads.” “You are right,” remarked the Imam but he said: “The matter now rests with Allah, His Will will be done, His Commandments are issued every moment, If His Will is favorable to us we will praise Him. If His Will is contrary to our expectations, we will earn the reward of our patience and resignation.”
On reaching a place named Dharud, it was learnt that the emissary of Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) Muslim bin ‘Aqil (radiyallahu ‘anh) was executed publicly by Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, and nobody had taken the least notice of it. On hearing this sad news Imam recited, “Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raa-ji’oon.” (from Allah we came and to Allah we shall return).
Meanwhile some of his companions again pleaded, “We beg you in the name of Allah, to abandon this journey and return without moving further, for we cannot rely upon Kufans; they are not faithful to you.” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) made a pause for a moment and began to ponder over the situation, whether he should continue the journey or abandon it. At the same time all the relatives of Hazrat Muslim bin 'Aqil (radiyallahu ‘anh) rose and said, “We shall never return, ‘In the Name of Allah’ we shall avenge the murder of our brother or die in the attempt.” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) cast a glance over his companions and with a cold sigh he spoke, “There is no charm in life after him.”
At the outset of the journey a large number of Bedouins had joined the convoy; they expected a grand reception for Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) at Kufa and provision for immense facilities for the entourage by Kufans having all knowledge about it, the Imam addressed to them, “O people! I have received very disappointing and dreadful news from Kufa; Muslim bin ‘Aqil, Hani bin ‘Urwa, and Abdullah bin Baqter have been assassinated; those who were to be trusted proved unfaithful; Kufans have dismayed us; I would suggest now to disassociate yourselves from us and leave us alone at the Mercy of Allah; there shall not be the least resentment on our part.” Such an announcement made by Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh), resulted in decrease in the strength of the entourage and there were left digitally counted members, majority of them were the family members.
Imam Husain's party had advanced only a little distance beyond Qadsia, when Hur bin Yazid appeared with a force of 1,000 armed men and followed him and his men intending to keep a close watch on them till they came face to face with Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, governor of Iraq, and his men.
At a stop where the, members of the entourage performed Salat-ul-Zuhr, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) addressed them before the Salaah; he spoke:
When the address was over; there prevailed a complete silence; none spoke about the address then people asked the Mu'adhdhin to call for the Iqama, meanwhile Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) asked Hur, whether he will arrange his Salaat separately. Hur replied that he himself and his men would make Salaat behind him, and they did so. The Asr Salaat were also performed at the same place by the friends and foes together. After the Salaat, Imam delivered the second Khutbah (sermon).
After Salaat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) delivered the second Khutbah; he spoke:
Hur asked Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) about the letters which Imam had mentioned in his discourse expressing his ignorance about such letters. The Imam (radiyallahu ‘anh) asked ‘Aqba bin Sam’an to bring the two bags which were full of letters sent by the people of Kufa. Hur told Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh): “We are not those people who wrote these letters to you.” He further explained, “I have been ordered by Ubaidullah bin Ziyad to take you before him.” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) told him that his appearance before Ubaidullah bin Ziyad was not possible before his death.
He then ordered for departure to Makkah, but he was stopped by the opponents to do so. Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) asked Hur in anger, “Thy mother may curse you.” Hur replied, “Had these words been spoken by some one else, I would have replied him in the same manner, but alas! I can’t name your mother.” “What do you want of me,” asked Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). “I wish to take you before Ubaidullah bin Ziyad,” replied Hur. “But by Allah, I won’t go with you,” replied Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). “At all cost I have to follow you, until you reach Kufa, and I have no orders to fight against you,” argued Hur. “If you are not willing to go to Kufa better you choose some other way which may neither lead to Kufa nor Madinah, meanwhile I am writing a letter to Ibn Ziyad to find out a suitable way to avoid any conflict. It would be better if you too write a letter to Yazid or ‘Ubaidullah in this regard.” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) agreed to the suggestion extended by Hur.
At this stage Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) delivered another sermon; he spoke:
Listening to this address, one named Zaheer bin al-Yaqin al-Jali from amongst the audience stood up as spoke as under:
In the course of the journey, Hur had been repeatedly threatening Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) that if he waged war, he would surely be killed. Once roused to indignation, Sayyidina Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) replied: “Do you frighten me with death? Has cruelty gone to that extreme that you people intend to kill me? I am at a loss to understand in what terms I shall replay to you. I want to repeat the same words uttered by one of the Companions of the Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) while proceeding on Jihad in reply to a threat by his brother:
At a place known as ‘Azib-ul-Hijanat, four horsemen were seen coming from Kufa by Tarmah bin ‘Adi who was reciting the following verses:
On listening to these verses, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) spoke: “By Allah! I believe Allah will favor us; may I be killed or be a conqueror.” Hur bin Yazid told Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh), “these people are from Kufa and they are not your companions, I shall stop them or I shall ask them to go back.” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) reminded him of his promise, “You have already committed yourself to me that you will not fight against me till a reply is received from Ibn Ziyad. Moreover though these people have not come with me yet they are my companions. If you showed any sort of atrocity towards them I shall fight against you.” This made Hur calm and quiet.
Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) ascertained from persons arrived from Kufa about the situation in the city. They replied at the time of their departure the citizens were being persuaded through bribe. At heart they were for Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) but they would draw their swords against him.
They further said, “The messenger, earlier sent by you named Qais bin Masher, had been killed by Ubaidullah bin Ziyad.” This news shocked Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and with tearful eyes he expresed:
The Imam prayed: “O Allah open the doors of Paradis for them and let us enter the place of Thy blessings and reward and gather together there.”
Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) invoked Allah’s blessing on him for his offer and said that he had a commitment with the men following him and in view of this, he could not go a step forward. He said, “Nobody could predict how the enmity between us and our enemies will end.”
Now Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was sure that he was heading towards death. At the time of leaving the place called Qassar ban Maqtal, Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) had a nap. Suddenly he awakened and said loudly: “Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raa-ji’oon. Alhamdulillahi Rabbil-‘Alameen.” He repeated these verses thrice; his son ‘Ali asked him as to why he recited these verses. The Imam replied, “O son! I had just taken a short nap, meanwhile I saw a horse rider who was moving ahead and expressing words: “People move onward and the death too moves with them.” I am sure this is the prediction of our death which is being conveyed to us.” Ali spoke: “Are we not the righteous; may Allah save you from the doomsday.” Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) replied, “No doubt, we are the righteous one, that is why we should not fear death.” He was the son of Sayyidina Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) who faced martyrdom at the battlefield of Karbala and later on became known as Ali Akbar.
Next day, Imam Husain rode on horseback and posted his men at strategic points for defense. Hur took exception to it. A tussle continued between the two for a long time. Eventually, an armed rider was seen coming from Kufa. He presented communication addressed to Hur by Ibn Ziyad, governor of Kufa, which reads as follows:
Hur informed Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) about the contents of the governor’s letter and told him that he was helpless, as such, he could only allow him to encamp in an open place in a desert.
Zaheer suggested that a fight with the force that existed at that time was far easier than the massive army that was expected to arrive later.
Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) disagreed, because he did not like to initiate war.
Zaheer then said: “Let us encamp in this village which is situated by the side of river Euphrates.” Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) enquired its name. Zaheer repled: “Its name is ‘Aqr which means fruitless. On hearing this Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) remarked: “May Allah save us from ‘Aqr.”
Eventually, on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 AH, Sayyidina Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) with his entourage camped at a forlorn place known as Karbala which was situated at a long distance from river Euphrates with a hill in between the two.
Next day, Umar bin Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas arrived with an army of 4,000 Kufans. Ubaidullah bin Ziyad deputed him on this expedition by force. Umar never wanted that the situation should take a serious turn. He tried that the matter should amicably be settled. No sooner did he arrive at Karbala, than he sent a messenger to Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) inquiring the reason of his arrival. In reply Imam Husain stated that the Kufans had invited him. He further added that in case they disliked his arrival, he was prepared to go back.
Umar bin Sa’d was delighted at this reply and became optimistic. He addressed a letter to Ubaidullah bin Ziyad explaining the position. In reply, he issued the following instructions:
Being constrained by Ubaidullah’s order Umar bin Sa’d posted 500 sepoys to guard the bank of the river. Water supply was stopped to Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and his party (radiyallahu ‘anhum). As such, Imam Husain ordered his brother ‘Abbas bin Ali (radiyallahu ‘anh) to fetch water from the river under escort of thirty horsemen and twenty sepoys. Arriving at the bank, they were resisted by the guard commander Umar bin al-Hajjaj. A regular struggle ensued. Eventually, Hazrat Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) succeeded in getting twenty leather bags filled with water.
In the evening, Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) sent a messenger to Umar bin Sa’d to talk in the night. They both set off from their respective tents each followed by twenty horsemen and met midway. They had a talk in camera till late in the night. Although the talk was quite confidential the lobby circle revealed that Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) suggested to Umar that they should leave their arms at Karbala and both would go to Yazid. Umar replied that if he acted according to this suggestion, his house would be destroyed. To this, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) replied that he would have it reconstructed. Umar said that his entire property would be confiscated. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) guaranteed that he would compensate from his own property situated in Hijaz. But Umar never agreed to it.
Subsequently they had three more interviews with each other. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) offered three alternatives:
After protracted negotiations, Umar bin Sa’d wrote to Ibn Ziyad again in the following terms:
This letter created a favorable reaction on Ibn Ziyad. He appreciated Umar’s efforts and said that the proposal was acceptable. Opposing the proposal, the wretch Shimr bin Zil Joushan said:
This advice was approved and Shimr was deputed within a letter containing the following text:
In this letter, Umar was severely admonished with a warning that he was not deputed to defend Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and communicate recommendations in his favor. Further, the letter contained the following specific instructions:
It should be remembered that the paternal aunt of Shimr, Umm Banin bint Kharam, was the wife of Hazrat Ali (Karramallahu ta’ala wajhah) and whose off-springs were ‘Abbas, Abdullah, Ja’far, and Uthman and all the four brothers were accompanying Imam Husain in this encounter. Thus Shimr was the paternal cousin of all the four brothers and also of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). He requested Ibn Ziyad for the protection of his above relatives which was granted to them. He therefore called all the four brothers and said: “You are my relatives from the paternal side. I have secured safety and protection for you.” But they replied: “Curse be upon you! You give us protection but there is no such safety for the grandson of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam).”
Shimr handed over the letter of governor of Kufa to Umar bin Sa’d and he reluctantly agreed to comply with the orders.
After Salat-ul-Asr, Umar bin Sa’d ordered his army to move. From the opposite side, Hazrat Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) appeared with twenty horsemen. Umar apprised him of the reply he received from Ubaidullah bin Ziyad. Hazrat Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) returned to convey the same to Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). In the meantime, there was an exchange of dialogues between the representatives of the rival parties which was secured by the narrators.
From Imam Husain’s side, Habib bin Mazahar came forward and said: “The worst people in the sight of Allah Ta’ala are those who present themselves before Him, while their hands are stained with the blood of the descendants of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) and the pious persons of Kufa.”
Urwa bin Qais from the opposite side replied: “Boast as much as you can. Carry on propaganda about your own piety and purification.”
To this, Zaheer said: “Allah Himself has purified these persons and led them to the right path. Fear Allah and do not be an accomplice to the wrong-doers by killing innocent persons.”
Urwa replied: “O Zaheer! You were not the supporter of this family. Were you not a supporter of Hazrat Uthmân (radiyallahu ‘anh) earlier than today?”
Zaheer replied: “No doubt, it is true. I neither wrote any letter to Imam Husain nor sent any messenger to him but this journey had gathered us together. I saw him; that reminded me of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) and also his love and affection for Husain. When I found that he was confronting with a mighty enemy, Allah put love in my heart for him. It is all due to my love for the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) that I have resolved to help him and to safeguard the very right of Allah and His Holy Last Messenger (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) which you have neglected.”
When Imam Husain came to know about the contents of Ibn Ziyad’s letter, he said that confrontation might be avoided on that day, so that they might be able to pray to Allah Ta’ala and ask for His Forgiveness. He added, “Allah knows how much I am fond of Allah’s ‘Ibadah and reciting Ayat from His Book.” This message being conveyed, the hostile army retreated.
On hearing this all of the Ahlul Bayt were extremely aggrieved. Hazrat Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) said: “Why is it so? Do you want that we should survive after your death? Allah may not keep us alive to see that day.
The relatives of Hazrat Muslim bin Aqil (radiyallahu ‘anh) were advised to go back, as Hazrat Muslim’s murder was too big a sacrifice.
They unanimously replied, “If we disperse, people will accuse of that we deserted our Sheikh, leader, and cousin. They will criticize that we never threw an arrow, never used the spear, nor wielded the sword. Never! We shall never do it. We would sacrifice our property, life, and progeny. We shall fight along with you. We shall meet the same fat as yours. Allah may not keep us alive after you quite the world.”
Imam Husain’s other companions also stood up and emphatically assured him of the cooperation at the risk of their life. Muslim bin ‘Ausja Asdi stood up and said: “Should we leave you alone? By Allah, we should never leave you alone. I shall pierce my spear in the chests of enemies. I shall wield the sword and in case I was de-sworded I shall throw stones on the enemies so long as death embraces me.”
Sa’d bin Abdullah al-Hanafi said: “By Allah, I shall not leave you alone unless they kill me, burn me in fire and reduce me to ashes and blew it in the air. I am ready to meet the same fate seventy times till I diminish in your support.”
Zaheer said: “By Allah, I am ready to be cut by a saw a thousand times than to leave you alone. I shall be fortunate if I shall be able to save you and members of your family at the cost of my life.
Hazrat Imam Ali bin Husain Zain-ul-‘Abidin (radiyallahu ‘anh) reported that the very night of the following morning when my father was assassinated I was ailing and my aunt Hazrat Zainab1 (radiyallahu ‘anha) was looking after me; suddenly my father called his colleagues inside his tent. At that time the slave of Hazrat Abu Dharr Gheffari (radiyallahu ‘anh) named Hawi was smearing the sword and my father was reciting the following verses:
Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) repeated these verses four times. My heart was filled with grief. Tears were about to tumble down from my eyes by I stopped them.
From the march of events Imam Husain’s ailing son, Ali Zain-ul-‘Abidin came to the conclusion that the calamity was inevitable. When Imam Husain’s sister, Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) came to know about it, she started shrieking and crying. Imam Husain tried to pacify her with exhortation, “What is all this sister? I am afraid our faith and endurance are overpowered by our passions and devilish forces.” Sayyidah Zainab replied how could she control herself when Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was killing himself with his own hands. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) answered that such was Allah’s Will. This reply added much to Sayyidah Zainab’s distress and she went out of control due to excessive grief. Witnessing this, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) made a lengthy speech on Sabr (patience and perseverance). He observed:
Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and his companions passed the whole night in offering prayer, invoking forgiveness from Allah Ta’ala, weeping and crying. A division of the enemy’s cavalry had been patrolling round Imam Husain’s camp. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was reciting the following Ayats of the Holy Qur’an loudly:
Shimr who went past the camp on a galloping horse noticed fire and cried aloud, “Husain! Did you accpet fire before the Day of Resurrection?” Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) retorted, “O son of a Shepherd! You deserve fire more than any one else.”
One of Imam Husain’s men, Muslim bin Ausja, sought permission to shoot an arrow at him, as he was standing at a point blank range. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) did not allow him to do so as he did not want to initiate war.
When the army approached closer, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) mounted a camel, kept the Holy Qur’an in front and addressed the enemy forces in the following words:
When this speech was heard by the female members of the Ahlul Bayt there began hue and cry inside the tents. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) asked his brother Hazrat Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) and his son Ali to go and console them for they had yet to weep a lot. Thereafter, he remarked: “May Allah bless a long life to Abdullah ibn Abbas.” The narrator states: “It was due to the fact that Abdullah ibn Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh) suggested Hazrat Imam Husain at Madinah leaving the women at home but the Imam did not pay any heed to it. Now when he heard their hue and cry, it reminded him of the submission of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anh).” He resumed his speech:
Thereupon those persons opened their mouth and said that they had never written to that effect. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) expressed surprise at it and cried out, “what a blatant lie.” Then Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) again called out loudly, “O people! As you dislike me, it is better that I am released, I shall go back.”
At this juncture, one of the Kufans named Qais bin Ash’ath said: “Is it not advisable that you should surrender yourself to your cousins? They will mete out the treatment to you worthy of your position. You will receive no harm from them.”
To this, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) answered, “All of you are tarred with the same brush. O man! Do you want that Bani Hashim should demand ransom for one more life, in addition to that of Muslim bin Aqil? No, I shall not surrender myself to them with humiliation.”
Zaheer advanced towards the enemy on his horse and shouted: “O Kufans, fear from the wrath of Allah. It is a duty of every Muslim to advise his brother Muslim. Look! We are all Muslims till this time. We believe in the same Deen and the same Shari’ah. So long as the swords are unsheathed, you deserve our advice and well-wishes. But when the swords are drawn the mutual respect will vanish and shall become two rival groups. Look! Allah has test our faithfulness towards the descendants of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). We call you to the love for Ahlul Bayt and to the rivalry of Ubaidullah bin Ziyad. Believe you would gain nothing from these rulers. They would make you blind; they would cut your hands; they would disfigure your faces; they would hang you and would kill the pious men one by one; they have already done this. The incidents of Hajar bin ‘Adi and Hani bin ‘Urwa have not become so old that you have forgotten them.”
On hearing this, Kufans began to abuse Zaheer and offered praise for Ibn Ziyad. “By Allah, we shall not go back unless and until we kill Husain and his companions or produce them before Amir,” was their reply.
Zaheer replied: “Well! If the son of Sayyidah Fatimat-uz-Zahra (radiyallahu ta’ala ‘anha) is not comparable with the son of Sumiyya (Ibn Ziyad) you should pay this much regard to the progeny of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) that you would not kill him. Let him talk with his cousin Yazid bin Mu’awiyah and settle the issue. I swear by Allah that it is not necessary to shed the blood of Husain to please Yazid.”
It is narrated by Adi bin Harmla that when Ibn Sa’d ordered his army to advance, Hur asked him whether he really wanted to fight against Imam Husain. Ibn Sa’d replied, “Yes, a battle would be fought in which heads will be cut and hands will be amputated from shoulders.” Listening to this, Hur left his own place and proceeded slowly towards Imam Husain’s camp. One of his tribe’s men, Muhajir bin Aws, inquired whether he wanted to attack Imam Husain. Hur kept quiet. Suspecting him due to his reticence, Muhajir said, “I never found you in such a state during any war. If I am asked to name the bravest man in Kufa, I can point out none except you. But what are you doing now?”
Hur grew serious and replied, “By Allah, I am making a choice between Hell and Paradise. By Allah, I have selected Paradise, no matter if I am cut to pieces.” With those words, he whipped his horse and joined Imam Husain’s army. He presented himself before Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and said: “O Grandson of the Holy Nabi! I am the same unfortunate person who prevented you from going back. I pursued you along the way and compelled you to encamp at this place. I never suspected that these people will not concede your terms and will go to such an extreme in your matter. By Allah, had I known that they will act in this way, I would have never done what I did earlier. I am ashamed of the misdeed I have committed and come to you for repentance. I want to sacrifice myself and I think that would serve the purpose of atonement.” Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) very kindly invoked divine blessings for him and said, “May Allah accept your repentance and forgive you. As your mother has named you Hur, you are a free man and insha-Allah you will remain free both in this world and in the Hereafter.”
Hur then addressed the enemies and said that they should have accepted any of the conditions offered by Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh), so that Allah might save them from an ordeal. They said that his question would be answered by their Commander Umar bin Sa’d. Umar said that he himself wished to accept this offer, but his proposal was rejected. Thereafter, Hur made a passionate speech and put the Kufans to shame for not abiding by their promise. In reply, they started shooting arrows. Hur was forced to return to the camp.
When Imam Husain’s sincere efforts to bring round the enemy failed, encounter became inevitable. Umar bin Sa’d strung his bow and shot an arrow towards the camp of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) saying: “Be witness! I have shot the first arrow.”
Yasar and Salam, the slaves of Ziyad bin Umayya and Ubaidullah bin Ziyad came forward and challenged for a single combat, as was the ancient custom of warfare in Arab. From the Husaini forces, Habib bin Mazahar and Barbar bin Hasir volunteered themselves to meet this challenge by Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) did not permit them to fight. Then Abdullah bin Amir al-Kalbi stood up and sought permission to go out. This man came from Kufa along with his wife to support Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). He was a dark-complexioned tall statured man with broad shoulders and strong limbs and was looking like a warrior in all respects. Having a look at him, the Imam was pleased to observe that he was a true warrior and gladly permitted him to meet the challenge. In a few brief exchanges, Abdullah put his both rivals to death. His wife Umm Wahab stood close by with a staff in her hand inciting her husband to fight. Then suddenly she became so passionate that she started advancing towards the battlefield. Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was deeply impressed by her enthusiasm and said: “May Allah reward you for support to Ahlul Bayt, but fighting is not meant for ladies.”
After that, right wing army of Ibn Sa’d launched an attack and as they drew nearer, front line of the Husaini forces knelt down and straightened their spears towards the horses. Horses were frightened. The enemy mounted troopers could not advance and were repulsed with heavy losses.
Later on, ensued a full-fledged battle. In the beginning the chivalrous men from either side came out in response to the challenge and fight with each other. Every challenger of the rival army who came forward was killed by the partisans of Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). On seeing this discouraging start Umar bin al-Hajjaj who was in command of the enemy’s right wing, shouted:
Umar bin Sa’d approved of the suggestion, and disallowing individual duels ordered for a general attack. Both the sides came to grips and then ensued a hand to hand fight.
After some time when the fighting was stopped it was found that a Husaini brave hero Muslim bin Awsja was writhing in blood and sand. Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) ran towards him. He was still breathing. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) lamented with a deep respiration saying, “Muslim! May Allah shower his choicest blessings on you:
Muslim bin Awsja was the first martyr from the side of Husaini forces in this battle.
After the right wing, the left wing also joined in attack with Shimr as its Commander. This attack too was very severe but the Husaini right wing resisted it manfully. There were only thirty-two horsemen in this wing but wherever they struck they caused a great loss to the enemy. Soon the powerful enemy realized that with the present strength of forces at its disposal it could not achieve the desired goal. They, therefore, sent for reinforcement and soon five hundred archers came to their succor. They, on their arrival, started shooting arrows at the horsemen crippling their horses and forcing them to dismount.
Ayyub bin Musharrah reported that he had himself injured the horst of Hur bin Yazid, piercing it with his arrows. Hur bin Yazid jumped to the ground. He was holding a sword in his hand and he was looking like a lion. His sword was moving rampantly and he was reciting the following verses:
The fighting was in its full swing. It was now midday but neither side seemed to have gained the upper hand. The reason was that the Husaini army had pitched the tents at one place and the enemy could only attack from one side. When Umar bin Sa’d realized that he could not succeed in this way he deputed some of his men to uproot the tents. Only four or five men from the Husaini army pushed them back. Failing in this attempt Umar bin Sa’d ordered his men to set the tents on fire. His soldiers rushed towards tents carrying fire in their hands. Husaini forces were perturbed due to this grave situation but Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) said: “No matter, let them burn the tents. It will be better for us because they cannot attack from the rear.”
At this stage Zaheer bin al-Yaqin launched a severe attack on Shimr’s forces and put them to rout but this state did not obtain for long. In a short time the enemy gathered its strength. Now the helplessness of Husaini forces was evident. Several warriors and renowned leaders were killed one by one. Abdullah bin Amir al-Kalbi was one of them. His brave wife Umm Wahab was sitting in the battlefield and was wiping dust from the face of her martyred husband saying repeatedly: “Greetings to you for attaining an abode in the Paradise.” Shimr saw her and killed her (radiyallahu ‘anha).
Abu Thumama Amr bin Abdullah Samdi realized his helplessness and said to Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh): “Enemy is approaching fast. By Allah, I shall defend you even at the cost of my life. Enemy will not harm you as long as I am alive. However, it is my earnest desire to offer my Prayers before meeting my Rabb.” On hearing this Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) raised his head and said: “Ask the enemy to give us respite for offering Prayers.” But the enemy did not accede to their requests and the battle continued.
It was a very tough time. The enemy had put in the battle its full force. Unfortunately, Habib bin Mazahar, Commander of the right wing of the Husaini forces, was also killed. It was a dead blow to the Husainis. The next came the turn of Hur bin Yazid who advanced straight into the enemy forces reciting the following verses with great enthusiasm:
He boldly attacked the enemy and eventually, sore and weary with fatal wounds, gave up his life.
Now the Zuhr time was over. Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) offered Salat-ul-Khawf along with his companions. After the Salat the pressure of the enemy increased all of the more. On this occasion Zaheer bin al-Yaqin, Commander of the left wing, took command of the army and attacked the enemy reciting the following verses:
After dispersing the lines of rival forces he returned and putting his hand on Imam Husain’s shoulder recited the following verses:
Then he turned towards the enemy and put a number of them to death until he himself was killed.
Companions of Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) now realized that it was quite impossible for them to stop the enemy. Therefore, they all decided to sacrifice themselves one by one. Accordingly, to Ghiffari brothers moved forward and began to fight with the enemy. While fighting they were reciting the following verses:
Thereafter two Jabri brothers came forward who were weeping bitterly. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) said to them: “O sons of my brother! Why are you weeping? By Allah, I believe you will be killed after a few minutes.” They replied that they were not shedding tears due to the danger to their lives, but it made them weep seeing that the enemy had surrounded them and they could do nothing to save him. Then both of them began to fight courageously chanting aloud: “As-Salaamu ‘alayka O’ Son of the Holy Nabi!” Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) replied: “Wa ‘alaykum-us-Salaam wa Rahmatullah.” At last they were also killed.
After than Hanzal bin As’ad stood before the enemy shouting: “O people! I fear for you the same disaster as befell upon the nations of Aad and Thamud. I fear you may be destroyed. O’ People! Don’t slay Husain lest Allah should send calamity on you.” He fought manfully until he was martyred.
By now all the companions were killed one after the other. It was now the turn of the Bani Hashim and the family of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). First of all, Ali Akbar came into the battlefield and attacked the enemy, reciting the following verses:
He fought heroically but was killed by the sword of Marra bin Manqaz al-‘Abadi. The narrator said that he saw a woman hurrying out of the tent. She was beautiful like the full moon and was crying: “Ah! My brother! Ah! My nephew.” When he enquired as to who she was, he was told that she was Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab bint Fatimah al-Zahra (radiyallahu ‘anhuma). Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) caught hold of her hand and took her to her tent. Then he lifted the dead body of Ali Akbar (radiyallahu ‘anh) and placed it before the tent.
Thereafter, other scions of the Hashimite blood and members of the Ahlul Bayt came to the forefront, and fighting courageously sacrificed their lives one by one. Meanwhile a graceful young man appeared on the scene. He was wearing a simple dress and putting sandals on his feet. He was a very beautiful person and his face was shining like a moon. He came out like a roaring lion and attacked upon the enemy with his immense force. Amr bin Sa’d Azdi struck on his head with a sword. The young man cried: “O’ Uncle!” and fell upon the ground. On hearing his cries Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) came to his rescue and attacked upon the killer with a sword like a hungry falcon and ferocious lion. The assailant raised his hand in his defense but could not succeed. His hand was cut off from the elbow. Being wounded the killer called for help. The army came to his help but rode over him in a state of utter confusion. The narrator said that when the dust was slightly subsided he saw Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) standing near the youngman who was in the agony of death. Imam Husain was saying: “Disaster seize them who killed you. What answer will they give to your grandfather on the Day of Resurrection? By Allah, it is heart-rending for your uncle that you cried for help but he could not save you from the clutches of the enemy. Alas! Enemies of your uncle have increased in number than his friends.” Then he took the dead body in his lap and pressed it close to his chest. He brought the dead body to the tent with its feet trailing on the ground and laid it beside the body of Hazrat Ali Akbar (radiyallahu ‘anh). The narrator enquired of the people as to who he was and was told that he was Sayyid al-Qasim bin Hasan bin Ali bin Abu Talib (radiyallahu ‘anh).
While Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was standing there, he was apprised of the birth of a son. The babe was put in his arms and as he was calling the Adhan in his ears, an arrow was shot from the opposite direction that pierced the throat of the infant. The infant died instantaneously. He pulled out the arrow from the throat of the infant. The blood gushed out of the wond and by taking a handful of it, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) smeared the body of the infant. He then said: “By Allah, you are more dearer in the sight of Allah than the she-camel of Nabi Salih (alaihis-Salaam). And Nabi Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) has more prestige in the sight of Allah than Nabi Salih (alaihis-Salaam). O’ Allah! Thou has withheld they succor to us. Do what Thou may deem fit for us.”
Likewise most of the prominent personalities of Bani Hashim and Ahlul Bayt were martyred. Historians have recorded the names of the following Shuhadaa:
Now it was the Imam’s turn to sacrifice himself for the cause of Allah. He was standing alone in the battlefield but no one dared attack him. Enemy tried a number of times to kill Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh), but nobody was willing to take the responsibility of killing him, and wanted to bear the burden of this sin. At last, Shimr started provoking his army men to attack. They encircled Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) from every side. Now there were only woman and a few teenagers in the camp of the Ahlul Bayt. A teen aged boy saw Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) in danger and became impatient. He picked up a wooden stick in his hands and ran out to help the Imam. Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) saw him and caught hold of him. Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) also said to his sister: “Stop him. Don’t let him come out.” The boy, however, forced himself loose from her grip and ran to the side of the Imam. The same moment Bahrain bin Ka’b drew his sword to strike the Imam. The boy remonstrated: “O’ wicked! Will you kill my uncle?” The stone-hearted assailant brought down his sword on the boy who took the blow on his arm. His hand was severed. The boy cried with pain. Hazrat Husain clasped him to his bosom and consoled him saying: “Be patient, my child! Let this suffering be the means of reward from Allah. Allah Ta’ala will join you with your elders: Nabi Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam), Ali bin Abu Talib, Hamza, Ja’far, and Hasan bin Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhum).
Eventually, Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) remained alone to face the grim situation single-handed. The enemy now passed close to the Imam who began to wield his sword right and left and forced the enemy to retreat. Abdullah bin Amar who was himself taking part in the fight reported that he attacked Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) with his spear and might have killed him, but he desisted, thinking not to carry the sin on his head. He said: “Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) was being attacked from all sides but he made the enemy to retreat. He was wearing a shirt and a turban. By Allah, I have not seen such a disheartened man whose family members were killed before his eyes, so valiant, bold, resolute, and steadfast. The position was that the attackers were running right and left like sheep before a lion.” This position continued for a long time. Meanwhile Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha), the sister of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) came out of her tent and cried: “O’ Umar, would Abu Abdullah be killed before your eyes.” Umar turned his face but tears began to roll down from his eyes upon his cheeks and beard.
While fighting Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) felt very thirsty, and went towards Euphrates to quench his thirst but the enemy did not allow him to drink water. Suddenly his throat was pierced by an arrow. He pulled out the arrow and threw the blood which oozed out of his throat towards the sky saying: “O’ Allah! I complain only to Thee. See how the people are treating the grandson of Thy Messenger (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam).”
Then Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) turned towards his camp but he was resisted by Shimr and his companions. Then Imam Husain realized that their intent was to plunder the tents. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) said: “If you have deserted your religion and are not afraid of the Last Day, at least you should respect the worldly morals. Keep safe my tents from your vagabonds and debauchees.” Shimr replied, “Yes, we shall not harm your tents.”
Now it was too late. The narrator reported that had the enemy wished it would have killed Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) earlier but nobody was inclined to take the responsibility of this heinous crime. At last Shimr [the Damned] cursed his army men and shouted: “May you meet with ill-fate. What are you waiting for? Why don’t you kill Husain?” The enemy surrounded him again. The Imam (radiyallahu ‘anh) said to Shimr: “Why are you inciting your army to kill me. By Allah, Allah would not be displeased on anyone else’s murder so much as of mine.”
The time of Imam Husain’s martyrdom was now drawing near. Zur’a bin Sharikh al-Tamimi injured Imam Husain’s left arm and then struck a blow on his shoulder. Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) swerved due weakness. People being frightened moved to the rear but Sinan bin Anas of Najaf 2 came forward and attacked Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) with a spear. Imam Husain fell down upon the ground. Shimr ordered a savage to sever the Imam’s head from his body but he could not do it. Sinan bin Anas, in a mood of indignation, cursed him; dismounted from his horse and cut off Imam Husain’s head from his body.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (radiyallahu ‘anh)3 narrated that after the murder of the Imam, thirty-three injuries of swords and thirty four wounds of arrow and spear were found on his dead body.
Sinan bin Anas was extremely confused after killing Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). He did not allow any body to come near the dead body. He was running to and fro lest some one else should sever the head and take it away. The killer (may Allah give that wretch what he deserves!) himself severed the head and handed it over to Kholi bin Yazid Asbhi and then ran to Umar bin Sa’d’s tent shouting:
Umar bin Sa’d called him inside the tent and showed his indignation. “By Allah, you are insane!” Then striking him with his stick said: “O’ mad man! Don’t say so. You are saying a thing which if it comes to the notice of Ibn Ziyad, he will definitely get you killed.”
After the perpetration of the murder, the Kufans took off the clothes of the dead body of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and then rushed to his tents. Ali Zain-ul-‘Abidin was lying sick in the bed. Shimr reached along with some soldiers and said: “May we not also kill him,” but some of his companions dissuaded him, saying: “Will you kill even the children?” Meanwhile Umar bin Sa’d arrived on the spot and ordered that no one should enter the ladies’ tents or tease them. If someone had plundered anything, he should return it forthwith.
On listening these words Imam Zain-ul-Abidin (radiyallahu ‘anh) said in his ailing voice: “Umar bin Sa’d! May Allah reward you for this act of kindness. Your orders have saved us from the culprits.”
Umar bin Sa’d ordered that Imam Husain’s body should be trampled over by the horses’ hoofs. He called for volunteers. Ten men came forward and trampled the body.
In this battle, seventy-two men of Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) were martyred, while eighty-eight of the Kufans were slain.
On the following day, Umar bin Sa’d left the battlefield of Kufa taking the women and children of the Ahlul Bayt with him as prisoners. Qara bin Qais, an eye witness, narrated that when these ladies saw the mangled corpses of Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) and that of his relatives and his companions, the could not restrain their grief and lamentations. Qara could not forget the bewailing of Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab bint Hazrat Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anhuma):
Qara bin Qais added further that there was no eye that did not shed tears on hearing this lamentation.
Then the heads of all the Husainis killed in the battlefield were severed. These heads were seventy-two in number. Shimr Zil Joushan, Ibn al-Ash’ath, Umar bin al-Hajjaj and Gharmara bin Qais took all these heads to Ubaidullah bin Ziyad.
Hamid bin Muslim who accompanied Kholi bin Yazid while carrying the head of Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) to Kufa reported that when Imam Husain’s head was placed before Ibn Ziyad, he repeatedly struck his stick on the lips of the Imam. On seeing this, Zaid bin Arqam stood up and admonished him not to do so, as he had seen the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) kissing these lips. He then began to weep bitterly. Ibn Ziyad got annoyed and said: “May Allah make you weep! Had you not been decrepit I would certainly have put you to death. Zaid bin Arqam (radiyallahu ‘anh) left the meeting, saying:
The narrator reported that when the women and children of the Ahlul Bayt were brougth before Ibn Ziyad, Hazrat Zainab was wearing ordinary clothes and was surrounded by her maids. Ibn Ziyad inquired as to whom she was, but no one responded. When he inquired for the third time, a maid servant replied, “She is Zainab bint Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anha).” Thereupon Ibn Ziyad (May Allah give him what he deserves!) shouted: “Praise be to God who has disgraced and destroyed you and brought dishonor to your name.” Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anh) replied: “All praise is due to the Almighty Allah Who honored us by raising the Holy Nabi Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) amongst us and purified us. Only the wicked and vicious are disgraced.” Ibn Ziyad said again, “Don’t you see how Allah has treated your family?!” Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) replied, “Death was their fate, so they met with death. Allah will gather you and them together very soon and then you can cross question each other in His Court.” Ibn Ziyad said: “Allah has rejoiced me with the death of your arrogant leader and the rebels of your family.” Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) tried to restrain herself but could not suppress her tears and said: “By Allah, you have killed my leader, destroyed my family, slashed my branches, and cut off my roots. If this rejoices your heard, you may rejoice over it.”
Ibn Ziyad smiled and said: “Bravo! This is heroism. Your father was a poet as well as a hero. Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) replied: “What a woman has to do with heroism? My misfortune had made me unmindful of heroism. What I say comes out of my mouth with a burning heart.” Ibn Ziyad was enraged. Seeing him in this condition Umar bin Harth said: “My Allah ennoble the Amir! She is merely a woman. A woman’s utterance should be taken lightly.”
After these bitter exchanges, Ibn Ziyad cast a glance on Ali Zain-ul-Abidin bin Husain bin Ali (radiyallahu ‘anh) who was seriously ill at that time. Ibn Ziyad inquired his name. He replied: “Ali bin Husain.” Ibn Ziyad asked with astonishment: “Has Ali bin Husain not been killed in the fight.” Hazrat Zain-ul-Abidin (radiyallahu ‘anh) did not reply. Ibn Ziyad said: “Why don’t you speak?” Imam Zain-ul-Abidin replied: “Another brother of mine was named Ali. People killed him. Ibn Ziyad said: “People did not murder him, but Allah has killed him.” On this Hazrat Zain-ul-Abidin recited the following Ayat of the Holy Qur’an:
On hearing this Ibn Ziyad shouted: “May Allah kill you! You are also one of them.” Ibn Ziyad wanted to kill him but Hazrat Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) cried impatiently: “I implore you in the name of Allah not to kill the boy. In case you are bent upon to kill the boy, kill me also along with him.” Imam Zain-ul-Abidin said in a loud voice: “O’ Ibn Ziyad! If you have even the remotest kinship with these ladies, send them after I am killed under the escort of a pious man who should treat them gently in accordance with social principles of Islam.” Ibn Ziyad fixed his gaze upon Hazrat Zainab for a long time and then said to the people: “Relationship is a very delicate sentiment. By Allah, I am sure she really wants to lay her life along with the lad. All right, leave the lad and allow him to go with the women of his family.”
After this incident Ibn Ziyad instructed the citizens to assemble in the main Masjid and delivered a sermon before the assembly as follows:
On hearing this, Abdullah bin Afif Azdi, a well-known companion of Hazrat Ali (Karramallahu Ta’ala wajhah) who had lost his eye-sight in the battles of Jamal and Siffin, stood up and shouted: “By Allah! Ibn Marjana, you are a liar and a son of a liar, and not Husain bin Ali (radiyallahu ‘anh).” Ibn Ziyad, the wretch, got annoyed and put him to death.
Ibn Ziyad fixed the head of Hazrat Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) on a pole and sent the same to Yazid through Zahr bin Qais. Ghaz bin Rabi’ah reported that he was sitting in the court of Yazid when Zahr bin Qais arrived. Yazid inquired: “What is the news?” Qais replied, “I have brought the news of victory. Husain bin Ali came to us along with eighteen members of the Ahlul Bayt and sixty supporters. We stopped them and demanded them to surrender or fight. They preferred to fight than to submit. So we attacked them at the break of dawn. When swords began to strike their heads, they ran to and fro to save themselves just as pigeon ran away on seeing the eagle. Then we put them all to death. At this moment their dead bodies are lying naked. Their clothes are stained with blood. Their dead bodies are rotting in the sun and are serving as a food for vultures.
The narrator reported that on hearing this pathetic story, Yazid’s eyes brimmed with tears, and he said: “I could be pleased at your loyalty even without the murder of Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). May Allah curse the son of Ibn Sumiyya (Ibn Ziyad, la’natullahi ‘alayh)! By Allah, had I been present there, I would certainly have forgiven Husain. May Allah shower his blessings upon Husain.” Yazid did not give any reward to the messenger.
Then said: “By Allah, O’ Husain! Had I been there I would not have killed you.”
After sending the head of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) Ibn Ziyad dispatched the remaining members of the Ahli-Bait to Damascus under the escort of Shimr bin Zil Joushan and Mahzar bin Tha’laba. Imam Zain-ul-Abidin kept quiet throughout the journey. He did not speak even a single word to anybody. On arrival in the court of Yazid, Mazhar bin Tha’laba cried: “O’ Commander of the faithful! I have brought sinners before you.” On hearing this Yazid got annoyed and said: “No woman had given birth to a more vicious and wicked child than Tha’laba’s mother.”
Yazid then sent for his Syrian chiefs to his court, and addressing Imam Zain-ul-Abidin, he said: “O’ Ali! It was your father who broke off family relationship, forgot my rights, tried to oust me from my rule. You have already seen the results of disobedience committed by your father.” In response, Imam Zain-ul-Abidin (radiyallahu ‘anh) recited the following Ayats of the Holy Qur’an:
Yazid was displeased to hear this. He desired that his son Khalid should give the answer but Khalid did not understand anything. Then Yazid, pointing out to Khalid said:
Then Yazid turned his attention towards other children and women who were made prisoners. Yazid was greatly moved at their sad plight and declared: “May Allah curse Ibn Marjana (Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad)! Had he been related to you he would have have treated you in such a way, no sent you to me in this pitiable condition.”
Hazrat Fatimah bint Ali reported that when we were brought before Yazid, he took pity on us and treated us gently. While we were sitting in a court a Syrian lad stood up and pointing to me requested Yazid to deliver me to him. I was in teen and was very pretty. I began to tremble with fear and caught the hand of elder sister Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha), who was older than I. She was very wise and knew that it could never happen. She shouted at the lad: “You are a wretched fellow. Neither you nor he (pointing at Yazid) has the power to do so.
Yazid got angry at this boldness and said: “You tell a lie. By Allah, this is within my powers if I wish to do so. Hazrat Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) retorted: “No, Allah has not given you this power. It is otherwise if you leave our party and become apostate by renouncing our religion.” Yazid got annoyed further and said: “It was your father and brother who renounced the religion.” Hazrat Sayyidah Zainab (radiyallahu ‘anha) promptly replied: “It was Allah’s religion, my father’s religion, my brother’s religion, my grandfather’s religion from which you, your father, and your grandfather obtained guidance.” Yazid shouted: “O’ enemy of Allah! You tell a lie.” Hazrat Zainab replied, “You have become a ruler by force. You are misusing your powers with tyranny and are oppressing the people with your force.”
Hazrat Fatimah bint Ali added that this conversation made Yazid to feel ashamed because then he kept silent. The Syrian lad, however, stood up again and repeated his request. On this, Yazid scolded him, “Be off, O’ wretch! May Allah send death to you!”
Yazid consulted the Syrian courtiers in regard to the treatment of the prisoners. Some suggested harsh treatment while Nu’man bin Bashir said: “They should be treated in the matter the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) would have treated them on seeing their plight.” On hearing this, Hazrat Fatimah said: “O’ Yazid! They are daughters of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam).” This reference moved Yazid and his courtiers to tears and he ordered for their lodging in an independent house.
Meanwhile, the news of the arrival of the prisoners reached Yazid’s household. His wife, Hind bint ‘Abdullah, put on veil on her face and came out. She asked Yazid: “O’ Commander of the Faithful! Is it the head of Husain ibn Fatimah, daughter of the Holy Last Messenger of Allah?” Yazid replied, “Yes, weep as much as you can on the murder of grandson on the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) and of the scions of the Hashimi house. The wicked Ibn Ziyad made haste in killing him. May Allah kill him too.”
Thereafter addressing the courtiers, Yazid said: “Do you know how did it happen? It was the outcome of Husain’s error in judgment. He remained under the impression that his father is better than Yazid’s father; his mother is better is better than Yazid’s mother; his grandfather is better than Yazid’s grandfather. And he himself is better than Yazid, hence he deserves more to rule over the country than Yazid. His stand that his father was better than my father was wrong. Ali and Mu’awiyah fought with each other and the world saw who emerged successful in the contest. As regards his statement that his mother is better than my mother, is undoubtedly true. Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anha), daughter of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) is decidedly far more prestigeous than my mother. Similarly, his grandfather is certainly better than my grandfather. By Allah, no one who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement can grade anyone equal to, not to speak of better than the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). Husain erred in judgment and forgot the following Ayat of the Holy Qur’an, which reads as follows:
Then the ladies of the Ahlul Bayt were sent to Yazid’s palace, where the women of the family of Mu’awiyah began to weep bitterly on seeing their sad plight.
When Yazid came into the palace, Fatimah bint al-Husain asked him: “Have the daughters of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) become slave-girls?” Yazid replied, “O’ Daughter of my brother! It would never happen.” Fatimah said, “We have been deprived even of our earrings.” Yazid promised to compensate their loss and he did repay them two-fold or even more.
Yazid used to take his breakfast and dinner along with Hazrat Ali bin Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh). One day he called Hazrat Hasan’s young child Amr to him and by way of joking asked him if he would have a duel with his son Khalid who was of his age. Amr bin al-Hasan replied in the affirmative, adding that both of them should be given daggers in their hands and then their duel be watched. Yazid laughed and holding Amr in his lap remarked: “A serpent begets a serpent.”
Yazid entertained the Ahlul-Bayt as his guests for some days. He used to stay in his private meetings that had he been a little circumspect, he would have kept Hazrat Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) with him for a few days and considered his terms, though it might have weakened his own position to some extent. This attitude would have discharged himself of his obligations towards the rights and relations of the Holy Nabi (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam). He repeatedly cursed Ibm Marjana (Ibn Ziyad) who forced Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh) to fight by not agreeing to his terms of participating in Jihad on the frontiers or of approaching him for settlement of dispute. Yazid stated Ibn Ziyad (la’natullahi ‘alayh) had thus made him (Yazid) the victim of people’s wrath.
While bidding farewell to the Ahlul Bayt on their departure to Madinah, Yazid assured Imam Zain-ul-Abidin (radiyallahu ‘anh) cursing Ibn Ziyad: “Had I been there in the battlefield, and had Husain offered his terms to me, I would certainly have accepted them. I would have saved his life at all costs, even at the cost of the life of my own son. But what Allah willed has happened. Keep in touch with me through correspondence and let me know your needs. Afterwards Sakina, daughter of Imam Husain (radiyallahu ‘anh), used to say that she had not seen any ungrateful person who was more hospitable than Yazid.
This sad news was the talk of the town before the arrival of the Ahlul Bayt. When the party arrived in Madinah, the Hashimi ladies hastened to them, lamenting the loss of lives of the near and dear ones. The daughter of Hazrat ‘Aqil bin Abu Talib (radiyallahu ‘anh) was in the forefront crying and reciting the following verses: