Author(s): Abd al Razzaq al-Muqarram
Translator(s): Yasin T. Al-Jibouri
Publisher(s): Al-Kharsan Foundation for Publications
Category: Imam al-Husayn and Karbala
Topic Tags: Karbala Ashura Alawid Revolution
Featured Category: Introducing the Ahlul Bayt
Person Tags: Imam Husayn (a) Yazid bin Muawiyah
نویسنده:Abd al Razzaq al-Muqarram
مترجم:Yasin T. Al-Jibouri
ناشر:Al-Kharsan Foundation for Publications
دسته:Imam al-Husayn and Karbala-Introducing the Ahlul Bayt
موضوع:Karbala Ashura Alawid Revolution
Martyrdom Epic of Imam al-Husayn ('a)A detailed and authentic account of the tragedy of Karbala and the sacrifice of Imam Husayn (a).
In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful
The author is a defender of the Imams of Guidance who carried on the Shari’a of the Master of Messengers (S), raised the salient features of the creed, explained the Sunnah and promoted righteousness. The said Imams (‘a) disseminated the Islamic teachings whenever they had the opportunity to do so, braving numerous trials and tribulations, persevering in every hostile environment.
Their foes envied them while those who despised and hated them harboured a great deal of grudge against them.
The intestines of some of them were cut open while the livers of others were chopped. Swords severed their joints, and they were hurled into dark dungeons. Despite all of this, the light of the truth did, indeed, dispel the darkness of misguidance. Truth always subdues falsehood. Generations have been obliterated and new ones have come as the scholars of the Infallible Household remain vigilant as guardians of the Shari’a.
They took upon themselves to study and clarify its obscurities and comprehend its pith. The knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) has received a great deal of
attention and awarded a great deal of concern; therefore, major Islamic cities have been filled with many a genius and a scholar. These set up the rules and established the branches. Their pens delved into each and every field and wrote about every branch of knowledge and scholarship.
I find myself at this juncture reluctant to discuss the branches of knowledge about which they wrote or the arts they categorized according to queries, or the precious treasures for whose safeguarding they dedicated themselves. The libraries of the Western world, at major cities, are filled with large numbers of such great works.
The halls of their institutes are crowded with thousands of books which their pillars have recorded, not to mention what is available at Islamic cities in the East of great books and magnificent literary works. Publishing houses and scientific institutes came to their universities and scientific institutes and took to serious work, verifying what is written and bringing out what is treasured.
They kept explaining and critiquing, clarifying, comparing, and examining. Critics' pens dived into the depths in order to take out the jewels and the treasures therein. Opportunity was seized by every publishing establishment that loves knowledge or seeks wealth, for people are bent on ambitiously seeking knowledge, desiring to quench their thirst of the fountain of various branches of knowledge.
[The Hawza at] al-Najaf al-Ashraf is a pioneer in researching, teaching and writing since it was founded by the sect's mentor, al-Tusi, in the fifth Hijri century (the 11th
century A.D.). Its study circles are crowded with exemplary scholars who shone like stars in the depth of the darkness and with dazzling suns during the period that followed our Imams' time.
They never ceased their march, nor did they ever put down the pens that they unsheathed to remove the doubts, nor did they abandon the pulpit. Sacred mosques are full of glorious mentors and brilliant and inspiring intellectuals: thinkers whose fountainheads are pure. We, therefore, find al-Najaf upholding its role of leadership. It is the ultimate desire of those who seek and appreciate knowledge, the final stop of those who pursue honours.
Do you think that its teaching staff and their status at “al-Fitiyya” would ever abandon it while the rays of the Master of the Learned, the Imam of the pious, the Commander of the Faithful, overwhelm the Islamic world, and the torches of his wisdom and teachings live in and fill the hearts? These are only some of the precious boons of the Master of the Wise, peace be upon him.
In the deluge of the waves of these scholarly floods did our master, whose biography is here discussed, live and grow up. He felt distressed at finding the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) obscured in many respects, and it hurt him to see pens unconcerned about researching their ways of life and extracting what is hidden of their feats and merits.
Is not the Islamic library satisfied with these thousands of books and literary works that
deal with Fiqh and Usul while the “struggle” of the masters of the world remains obscured and shadowed by misinformation, misrepresentation and distortion wrought by bygone antagonistic pens during periods when Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, were not given any respite at all, nor were they befriended?
Horrible wars were waged against them and lies and fabrications invented in order to distort the facts relevant to them. How could such pens be otherwise especially since the oppressive authority and those in charge, during their time, felt jealous of them and schemed against them? False charges and deception were the outcome as those who flattered the rulers spread far and wide.
Due to his extensive knowledge of these narrators and liars and his familiarity with the names of fabricated personalities, our master whose biography we are discussing regarded it as his obligation, one mandated on him by the Imams, peace be upon them, to dedicate his efforts and energy to research and study what these Imams had taught, the knowledge which is now with us, and to clarify the reasons behind the confusion about and the historical context of those events.
He did all of this by applying the principles of comparison and deduction in order to deduce complex injunctions.
But he came to conclude that authorship should be restricted to explaining the biographies of these Imams and the details of the circumstances wherein they lived. Are we not being unfair to them, being able to write, having the knowledge, scholarship, and the
tools of research at our disposal? Should we be too lazy to do so or feel reluctant to unveil the facts behind whatever dubiosity was cast on what actually befell them?
The Umayyads, the Zubayris, and the ‘Abbasides waged unrelenting wars against them in order to obscure their light and obliterate their legacy, utilizing those who followed and supported them. Is it not, then, obligatory on us to direct our energy to continue what they had started? In other words, should we not write books lauding them, so that we may thus support and assist their struggle, and so that we may show the glowing facts obscured by frivolous lies?
Did not our scholars delve enough into the questions of Fiqh, Usul, logic, and philosophy for many centuries, leaving nothing at all for anyone else to say or to discuss or to debate?! We have a moral obligation towards them. We should write about them and study their revivals and shed a light on their statements. We must refute the charges levelled against them and the skepticism.
He, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was of the view that an author should not exert his effort and exhaust himself in dealing with the branches of modern or ancient knowledge without allotting a portion of such effort or exertion to study their personalities and those of their offspring and followers who were hanged, jailed, or exiled to distant lands and who died while remaining firm in adhering to the lofty principles
and to the true faith.
This is what he himself had written in the Introduction to his explanation of a poem by Shaikh Hasan son of Shaikh Kaďim Sabti, may Allah have mercy on his soul, known as “al-kalim al-tayyib.”
This is how he starts it: “It is, therefore, obligatory on us, having studied the basics of our beliefs, to look into their [Imams’] virtues, merits, and lifestyles, so that we may carry out our responsibility towards them on one hand, and so that we may emulate them and follow their recommendations on the other.”
He is ‘Abdul-Razzaq son of Muhammad son of ‘Abbas son of the scholar Hasan son of the scholar Qasim son of Hassun son of Sa’id son of Hasan son of Kamal ad-Din son of Husayn son of Sa’id son of Thabit son of Yahya son of Duways son of ‘Asim son of Hasan son of Muhammad son of ‘Ali son of Salim son of ‘Ali son of Sabra son of Musa son of ‘Ali son of Ja’far son of Imam Abul- Musa al-Kazim (‘a) son of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (‘a).
His nickname, “al-Muqarram,” is the family name. The story behind this family name is that one of his grandfathers was sick in his feet on account of an ailment that exhausted him, causing him to be very thin, rendering him to house confinement. Before that incident, the family name used to be “al-Sa’idi,” after his grandfather Sa’id son of Thabit.
He, may Allah be merciful to him,
was born in 1316 A.H. 1899 A.D. ‘Allama Shaikh ‘Ali Asghar Amadi learned from him as indicated in an article by ‘Imad Zadah, editing manager of (Iranian) Khud magazine which he wrote for the Tehran newspaper Nida-e-Haqq of the 29th of the month of Ramadhan, 1370 A.H/July 4, 1951 A.D.
His father, Sayyid Muhammad son of Sayyid ‘Abbas, used to quite often observe i’tikaf at Kufa's grand mosque, and he used to stay at Kufa quite often.
But his grandfather on the mother's side, Sayyid Husayn, the scholar, looked after him with affectionate care and raised him Islamically just as the offspring of the people of knowledge and distinction are raised. He studied Arabic, the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) in its branches, and the ‘aqa'id (Islamic beliefs) and the queries relevant thereto. His grandfather's death in 1334 A.H/1916 A.D. agonized him a great deal, overburdening his general life and his efforts to make a living. He, therefore, had to withstand extreme hardships and face the cruelty of circumstances.
Yet all of that did not distract him from seeking knowledge and attending research sessions with his mentors. He used to quite often mention his father Sayyid Muhammad (who died in 1351 A.H/1932 A.D.) well. His mother, a descendant of the progeny of Imam ‘Ali (‘a), was very kind to him, and he was kind to her. She was a righteous woman who used to recite the Holy Qur’an; she died in 1370 A.H/1951 A.D.
His uncle, Sayyid Mahdi son of Sayyid ‘Abbas, used to
travel frequently between various cities and visit his relatives, scattered throughout Nu’maniyya, Diwaniyya, Hindiyya and elsewhere. This uncle, may Allah have mercy on his soul, used to be a bitter opponent and a critic of the ‘Uthmanis (Ottomans), and he used to frequently criticize them for the harm and oppression they were inflicting on the public till they arrested him in Kuwait which he visited in 1334 A.H/1916 A.D. and hanged him.
The ancestor of al-Muqarram's family is Sayyid Qasim who had moved from al-Hasaka, where he had some real estate properties, to al-Najaf al-Ashraf in order to be near the master of the awsiya. Another reason was the fact that some of his family members were already residing at al-Najaf as he recorded in some of his papers.
His departure took place in the second Hijri century (8th century A.D.). Since he settled in the family's present house, he became very much involved in seeking knowledge till he became one of Najaf's most renowned personalities and dignitaries.
His house became the place where distinguished scholars met. He used to quite often hold commemorative ceremonies for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and majalis in their honour. He was a recognized genealogist, an imam of jama’a, and an author. Among his wrotings was a commentary on Al-Ansab by Abul-Hasan al-Fatuni al-’Amili who died in 1138 A.H/1726 A.D.
This commentary goes beyond tracing the names of fathers and grandfathers or stating one's family tree. Another commentary he wrote was for ‘Umdat al-Talib of Ibn ‘Anbah al-Dawudi al-Husayni
who died in 828 A.H/1425 A.D. Our biographee, may Allah have mercy on him, did not discuss issues relevant to late genealogies, feeling too embarrassed to deal with their affairs.
But he was quite familiar with and fully knowledgeable of biographers and narrators of Ahadith and those who branched out of the “origins;” therefore, it was not hard for him to appreciate the significance of a particular hadith or narration once he knew the false name of its narrator, that is to say, the one who fabricated it, or his characteristics whereby he was supposedly known.
We must not forget the fact that his grandfather on his mother's side, Sayyid Husayn, who died in the late part of 1334 A.H/1916 A.D., was also an imam of jama’a and one of those whose profession was teaching. His uncle, Sayyid Ahmad son of Sayyid Husayn, who also died in 1334 A.H/1916 A.D., was a man of scholarship and distinction, and he fathered four sons among whom Sayyid Ibrahim son of Sayyid Ahmad, who died in 1358 A.H/1939 A.D., came to be distinguished for his scholarship and virtues.
He was a far-sighted man, one whose fiqh was quite broad. Many of those who acquired a lofty degree of scholarship were among his students, and he studied for a lengthy period of time at the school of Imam Shaikh Muhammad Husayn Al Shaikh ‘Ali Kashif al-Ghiťa’, may Allah have mercy on him.
1. His grandfather, the pious and God-fearing scholar, Sayyid Husayn, who died in 1334
A.H/1916 A.D. and who took care of raising and educating him.
2. The scholar/authority Shaikh Muhammad Riďa Al Shaikh Hadi Al Kashif al-Ghiťa’ who died in 1366 A.H/1947 A.D. and who taught him Usul.
3. The scholar/authority and faqih Shaikh Husayn al-Hilli al-Najafi, may Allah expand his shade, who taught him sutuh in their respective fiqh and Usul.
4. The forgiven supreme religious authority Sayyid Muhsin Al-Hakim who died in 1390 A.H/1970 A.D. and who taught him kharij al-fiqh
5. The mujtahid authority Shaikh Agha Diya’ al-Iraqi who died in 1361 A.H/1942 A.D. and who taught him kharij al-Usul.
6. The religious leader and the authority on fatawa Sayyid Abul-Hasan al-Isfahani al-Najafi who died in 1365 A.H/1946 A.D. and who taught him kharij al-fiqh and recorded his [progress] reports.
7. The authority in fatawa Mirza Muhammad Husayn al-Naeeni al-Najafi, who died in 1355 A.H/1936 A.D. and who taught him kharij al-fiqh and Usul and recorded his [progress] reports.
8. Ayatullah and the greatest mentor and today's authority Abul-Qasim al-Khoei al-Najafi, may Allah expand his shade, who taught him fiqh and Usul.
9. As regarding the great mujtahid Shaikh Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi, who died in 1352 A.H/1933 A.D., he used to hold the biographee in high esteem, quite often recognizing his status. Due to the similarity between both men's method of work and defense of the Shari’a of the Chosen One (S), the bonds between them were quite strong.
The forgiven biographee participated with the authority al-Balaghi in publishing Al-Rihla al-Madrasiyya and in co-writing Al-Huda li Din al-Mustafa. Al-Balaghi's
personality filled his soul with admiration and respect with regard to many situations wherein loyalty to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) openly manifested itself.
You can notice this from reviewing what he recorded by way of comment on al-Balaghi's poem in the appendix to this book and on many other books which he had bought from him, such as the biographee's editing of a copy of Al-Rihla al-Madrasiyya and his procurement of Ahmad's Musnad, which he indexed and marked with a statement indicative of his admiration for al-Balaghi's personality.
As regarding the forgiven authority in fatawa Shaikh Muhammad Husayn al-Isfahani al-Najafi, who died in 1361 A.H/1942 A.D., the biographee cherished his company and learned from him lessons in philosophy and ‘ilm al-kalam. In response to Sayyid al-Muqarram's desire, the forgiven Shaikh al-Isfahani wrote his monumental poem in honour of the Infallible Ones (‘a), titled Al-Anwar al-Qudsiyya.
Despite the fact that the poet was a professor of philosophy who had filled this poem with rational philosophical terms, it came easy in its structure, pure in themes and meanings, sweet to the ear in its musical tone.
We know that philosophy, due its complex terminology, taxes any poem, leaving it anything but poetry, yet the forgiven al-Muqarram used to quite often recite some of it during many majalis which he used to hold in memory of the Infallible Ones (‘a). This book, Maqtal al-Husayn, does not overlook this poem, and in the chapter containing eulogies, you will find some of it in praise of Imam
al-Husayn, peace be upon him.
The authority Shaikh ‘Abdul-Rasul son of Shaikh Sharif al-Jawahiri, who died in 1389 A.H/1969 A.D., may Allah fill his grave with noor, was a role model of piety and integrity and on the highest plains of purity of the soul and righteousness.
The biographee kept him company, and the Shaikh was one of those who were known for their ijtihad and lofty scholarly status. Our master al-Muqarram maintained a close tie with him especially when major questions and intricate researches were discussed. I once asked my virtuous friend professor al-Hajj Yahya al-Jawahiri, who used to attend their meetings, about the nature of the researches discussed by the Shaikh [al-Jawahiri] and the Sayyid [al-Muqarram].
He answered me by saying that the forgiven al-Muqarram used to introduce arguments known as ishtibahat (confusing issues) to the great Shaikh relevant to the latter's book Al-Jawahir, and that the faqih Shaikh ‘Abdul-Rasul used to endorse them and attract his attention to his observations with regard to some of the questions discussed in Al-Jawahir.
I do not find this topic permitting me to discuss the Sayyid's scholarly status because he is my father, but if the reader wishes to discern such a status, he will be able to do so from examining the list of books he had written. In his manuscripts, as well as in published works, there is a wealth for the researcher and a hamlet for the seeker, let alone the scholarly “licenses” awarded to him by the greatest of
scholars and which are preserved besides his manuscripts. But the Sayyid never bragged about them, and I am not sure what their effect on his psyche was.
As regarding the Introductions which he wrote for many published books, in addition to the researches and commentaries embedded in Al-Dirasat by Sayyid ‘Ali al-Shahroodi, may Allah have mercy on him, which are edicts issued by our master al-Khoei, in addition to another of his books titled Al-Muhadarat fi al-Fiqh al-Ja’fari (lectures in the jurisprudence of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq[‘a]), all these indicate the intellectual caliber and the brilliance the biographee used to enjoy, add to that his diligence as he turned the pages of numerous references.
I am inclined to think that he assisted many contemporary researchers in Najaf who wrote famous books, and he may have provided them with entire chapters for their books. He did all of that as a service to knowledge and to those who seek it. Let me provide you here with what Shaikh Muhammad Hadi al-Amini, son of the forgiven authority al-Amini, has said,
The authority, Sayyid al-Muqarram, was a flowing ocean not only of fiqh and its basics, but you also find him delving into hadith, literature, philosophy, education and divine wisdom. He was the ultimate end of the seeker and the refuge of the one in need. His education was broad, his knowledge abundant, and he was frank in everything he said and did...
One single book of his suffices to provide you with a clear idea about
his living education wherein his genius is manifested. Despite all his wealth of knowledge and exhaustion of research, he never let pride take control of him, nor did he permit conceit to entertain his mind. For this reason, you always find him most humble, providing you with what he has as though he is taking from you.(1).
Researchers' methods depend on clarity, elucidation, argumentation, and glaring evidence. If we study the author's books, how will his writing style appear to us?
Most likely, if you examine his books in their various topics, and the comments that he had written for others, or the Introductions he wrote for great scholars, you will no doubt find the mark of clarity and the stamp of glow as basic ingredients of their structure. We do not forget that the research whereby his books are characterized is indicative of a study, an examination and an in-depth comparison.
This requires him to read the texts in their various connotations together with what critics and narrators have commented about them as well as a review of the personalities of their authors. Having done all of this, the text may either stand on solid grounds, or it may collapse. It is upon such a premise that his book Tanzih al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, and also his great book Sayyida Sukayna, in addition to his manuscript Naqd al-Tarikh fi Masa'il Sitt, are based.
The writing style of his time depended on the use of rhymed prose, decorative diction, and the charging of the
structure with whatever symbols, signs, and other things that over-burden the statement, all of which are avoided by modern Arabic style. Yet his style is free of all of these things.
He, rather, relied upon deduction and good comprehension; therefore, his books are based on the originality of thought, the detail in narrating the facts, and on portraying the thoughts. You find him leading you to accept the serious issue that he raises. This book, Maqtal al-Husayn, is full of such issues. Sayyid Husayn never stops researching, studying, analyzing, and comparing. Then he says, “We, thereupon, conclude from a fiqh standpoint that..., etc.”
The intensity of his love for Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, stimulates him, when he reads a book, to pick from it the tales and traditions which point out to something relevant to them or to their opponents, then he incorporates such bits and pieces into a dissertation which we can describe as “incomplete” and which researchers describe as “research's raw material.” Often, he presents such collected material to one who finds it to be of interest to his own research.
He once came to know that the orator and poet, the forgiven Shaikh Hasan Sabti, had composed a lengthy poem about the Infallible Ones (‘a) which he called Al-Kalim al-Tayyib or Anfa’ al-Zad li Yawm al-Ma’ad, so he explained it saying, on the onset, “This is the first of my writings after which I wrote about Zayd the martyr.”
At its conclusion, he said, “I wished
to summarize it but was unable to do so because of my very busy schedule.” He dedicated himself to explaining and commenting on it, clarifying any part which needed to be expounded, but he, may Allah have mercy on him, did not consider it as one of his books because the explanation was not based on his own basic effort; so, he was not concerned about it.
His first published book was Zayd al-Shahid (“Zayd the Martyr”) to which he appended his dissertation titled Tanzih al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. Zayd al-Shahid is a book that details the biography of Imam al-Sajjad, peace be upon him.
He did not indicate in the Introduction his reasons for writing it, and I think his genuine love for the revolution of Imam Husayn (‘a) motivated him to write it and to discuss how the oppressive government of the Umayyads came to an end, and also due to the abundant similarity between its stand and that of the revolution of the Father of Martyrs (‘a).
The book is full of many issues that hired pens have fabricated in order to support the government of the Umayyads. We are not concerned about this issue as much as we are about pointing out the following: The book was published in the 1930s, and at the time, it was regarded a shame that a scholar should busy himself with issues unrelated to fiqh and Usul.
His action would be regarded as self-demeaning, undermining his status and prestige. But the biographee broke
the iron locks that prohibited a learned scholar from researching and actively seeking to publish and comment or critique a book written by our prominent scholars of the past generations. For this reason, those at the scholarly Hawza felt uneasy upon seeing one of their most notable scholars seeking to research issues that had no relevance to fiqh or to Usul.
Amazement intensified at the hawza to see a book by Shaikh ‘Abdul-Husayn al-Amini titled Shuhada’ al-Fadila (“Martyrs of Virtue”), so the investigative researcher, Agha Buzurg, came to publish his great encyclopedia titled Al-Thari’a, the first volume of which was printed by Najaf's presses. They were preceded in doing so by the forgiven trusted authority Shaikh ‘Abbas al-Qummi who published his precious book Al-Kuna wal Alqab.
The Publishers' Club critiqued Sayyid al-Radi's book Haqa’iq al-Ta’wil, the valuable Introduction for which was written by the authority scholar and poet, Shaikh ‘Abdul-Husayn al-Hilli... Thus did the men of distinction and prestige become accustomed to this type of writing and study.
Other works, or say studies, followed, and it was then decided that the dust accumulated by forgetfulness and negligence should no longer cover the author's books especially since the presses, the publishers, and the readers welcome such books with a great deal of pleasure. It was then that public and private libraries came to acquire it, and those who benefit from scholars' researches abounded.
A poet has said:
Your calamity has made us forget ours that were
And is sure to make the ones to come
easy to bear.
This poet is simply referring to the Karbala’ tragedy, for it certainly is the greatest of all tragedies, the most momentous of all catastrophes that befell the Progeny of the Chosen One (S). The series of disasters that accompanied the march undertaken by force by the members of the House of Revelation from Medina to Iraq, then to Syria, could cause anyone's heart to swell and bleed.
The glorious Imams (‘a) used to always urge their followers not to forget it and to do everything they could to keep it alive in their memory saying, “Keep our cause alive! May Allah have mercy on whoever keeps our cause alive!”
Therefore it was accompanied by chapters where the narration played an important role, stamping it with a very sober and emotionally exciting stamp, one that excites what the souls hide and the minds conceal. The hearts of the Shi’as are sorely distressed and are filled with profoundly sad thoughts filled with frightening images. The hearts are filled with outrage at everyone who committed that heinous crime.
Prominent historians wrote down what they heard and recorded what came to their knowledge. As a result, many things found their ways (to print) which good taste rejects and which do not agree with what the Imams themselves, peace be upon them, had narrated, nor do they agree with the truth This comes from our own party.
We (Shi’as) have added a great deal to the Karbala’ events and to the events that followed.
As regarding the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), these took to falsifying and distorting the facts! Thus has the calamity passed; centuries passed by while it is still standing and will continue to be so till the Day of Judgment. Yet we have to remove the curtain from what was hidden and veiled.
We have to narrate authentic events and undermine everything that does not agree with the foundation upon which the uprising of the Master of Martyrs (‘a) was based in his bloody struggle to depose those who killed the Sunnah while keeping the bid’a alive.
Does not amazement stir you to accept the narration of Hameed Ibn Muslim who appears as a soft-hearted man on the battlefield while he was one of those who accompanied the severed head of Abu ‘Abdullah, peace be upon him, as it was being displayed in Kufa and Syria and, at the same time, set aside Karbala's events and not learn them from the ones to whom they took place and upon whom its calamities were piled up?
And who is “Abul-Faraj” anyway?! He is a supporter of the Umayyads and one of their kinsfolk who depends in his narration on those who follow al-Zubayr or on Umayyads who all are the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them! In his famous Tarikh, al-Tabari quotes most of his narration from al-Suddi and Mujahid and others while learned people know exactly who al-Suddi is. Yet he is quoted narrating the events at Karbala'! It is
for all of these reasons that the forgiven biographee stood to write his book, Maqtal al-Husayn.
This book refers to and exposes a large number of quotations that do not stand on any foundation. Through comparison and examination, he nullifies the narrations transmitted by many narrators for many, many years.
This book contains in its footnotes researches relevant to the fiqh, language, and literature in addition to numerous researches of many expressions related to narrations that contradict even those who narrated them. The reader will find in it an overflow of references upon which the biographee relies to verify and research the Karbala’ epic.
The Karbala' epic contains numerous names of men, women, and children in which there is a great deal of confusion with regard to both the names and the ones to whom they were attached.
The author removed such confusion. Do you know that those who refer to Umm Kulthum are actually talking about Zainab, the wise lady?! And can you imagine that “Umm al-Baneen” was not living during the time of the tragedy and that the poetry recited by the thakirs has no share of the truth?! Read, for example, this one:
Do not call upon me, O Umm al-Baneen,
You only remind me of the lions in their den.
So we narrate the event and thus side with Marwan, the wazigh,(1) unwittingly presenting him as a soft-hearted man with tearful eyes! And what do you know about the one who slaughtered al-Husayn (‘a), namely Shimr, about his lineage and nature, and
about governor ‘Ubaydullah (Ibn Ziyad)? The Sayyid derives legislative injunctions from the conduct of Imam Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) and from his statements in his sermons.
You find all of this in Maqtal al-Husayn, and you find many other causes which I myself am reluctant to present to you, but your soul pushes you, O reader, to be familiar with them, and to sift the contents of this book just as we proudly introduced its precious topics to you.
1. Zayd al-Shahid (biography)
2. Al-Mukhtar Ibn ‘Ubayd al-Thaqafi (critique and study)
3. Sayyida Sukayna (research)
4. Maqtal al-Husayn (‘a) (history book and research)
5. Al-Siddiqa Fatima (‘a) (biography)
6. Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) (biography)
7. Imam al-Riďa (‘a) (biography)
8. Imam al-Jawad (‘a) (biography)
9. Qamar Bani Hashim: al-’Abbas (‘a) (biography)
10. ‘Ali al-Akbar (‘a) (biography)
11. Al-Shahid Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil (biography)
12. Sirr al-Iman fil Shahada al-Thalitha (events and study)
13. Yawm al-Arba’in ‘indal-Husayn (dissertation) (altruism and expressions of compliance)
14. Al-Muhadarat fil Fiqh al-Ja’fari (commentary and research of a book by Sayyid ‘Ali al-Shahrudi)
15. Dala'il al-Imama (by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari al-Imami)
16. Al-Amali (by Shaikh al-Mufid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Nu’man al-’Ukbari)
17. Al-Khasa’is (by al-Sayyid al-Radi)
18. Al-Malahim (by Sayyid Ahmad Ibn Tawus)
19. Farhat al-Ghari (by Sayyid ‘Abdul-Karim Ibn Tawus)
20. Ithbat al-Wasiyya (by al-Mas’udi)
21. Al-Kashkul (by Sayyid Hayder Ibn ‘Ali al-’Ubaydi al-Husayni al-’Amili)
22. Bisharat al-Mustafa (by ‘Imad ad-Din al-Tabari al-’Amili) (commentaries and remarks)
23. Al-Jamal (by Shaikh al-Mufid) (commentaries)
1. Al-Munqith al-Akbar - a research
2. Al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (‘a) - a research
3. ‘Ashura fil Islam - a critique and a history book
4. Al-A’yad fil Islam - a
5. Thikra al-Ma’soomeen (some of its volumes are in print) - a history book
6. Zainab al-Aqila (peace be upon her) - a biography
7. Maytham al-Tammar (dissertation) - a biography
8. Abu Tharr al-Ghifari (dissertation) - a biography
9. ‘Ammar Ibn Yasir (dissertation) - a biography
10. Naql al-Amwat fil Fiqh al-Islami - a research
11. Naqd al-Tarikh fi Masa’il Sitt - a research and an analysis
12. Halq al-Lihya - a critique
13. Dirasat fil Fiqh wal Tarikh - a research and an analysis of traditions
14. Raba'ib al-Rasul - a history book and a research (detailing the Prophet’s step-daughters, i.e. Khadija’s daughters by her previous marriages)
15. Al-Kuna wal Alqab - biographies
16. Hashiya ‘alal Kifaya by Shaikh Muhammad Kaďim al-Khurasani -Usul
17. Hashiya ‘alal Makasib by Shaikh Murtaďa al-Ansari - fiqh
18. Nawadir al-Athar - sundry causes
19. Yawm al-Ghadir or Hijjat al-Wada’ - a history book
There is no treasure greater than one's life, nor even death in loving Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), nor is there anything more precious, when all material possessions are lost, than acquiring their love and the security of their intercession and, ultimately, the reward in the life hereafter of being a resident in their neighborhood, nor more than nearness to them. People may all grow up loving them and being loyal to them, but the degree of such an attribute varies among them.
One may be contented with attending their majalis, whereas someone else insists on nothing less than holding such majalis for them. Another person may accept to be present at their shrines or
to travel to visit such shrines, whereas another is active in urging people to do so, and he may even spend of his own wealth on facilitating the pilgrims to visit their mausoleums, peace be upon them.
Our master, the biographee, was adorned by all of these activities combined. He grew up and was raised to find himself in a house where many occasions were held in honour of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). So did he observe his grandfather, Sayyid Husayn, doing: meeting with people to discuss or produce a great deal of their literary production. He found his grandfather, may Allah have mercy on him, full of loyalty to them, so he added his zeal to that of his own.
He waited for the opportunity to hold majlis even for those who expressed their loyalty for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and who followed in their footsteps and were executed or died in exile after having persevered, and there are many such persons. His manuscript, Nawadir al-Athar, contains poems delivered by poets who attended their merry occasions.
Holding a majlis to bring their legacy to memory did not suffice him; active efforts to disseminate their views and to explain their ways of life and conduct did. He did so through the lectures that he delivered at meetings he held in the company of his brethren and friends during the month of Ramadan. Thus did I see the house full of them, and the research is repeated one night after another, one month of Ramadan
after another, and so on...
As regarding his pen and how he utilized his time, his books listed above, which he left behind him, provide sufficient testimony. We plead to the most Exalted One to assist the efforts to circulate them among people. The greatest of his manuscripts is Al-Munqith al-Akbar (the greatest saviour), meaning Muhammad (S), and also Al-Imam al-Hasan (‘a). It has been more than thirty years since he wrote both of them. Another is Naqd al-Tarikh fil Masa’il al-Sitt, a book that he used to mention quite often.
The biographee neither composed good quality poetry, nor did he memorize nor critique poetry. Yet he, may Allah have mercy on him, appreciated it very much especially if it was in honour of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them.
He used quite often to cite the poetry of those who lauded Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and incorporate it in his works that discuss them, peace be upon them, in order to bring such poetry to life. As far as he is concerned, we are not aware of him composing poetry except very little such as a few lines, for example, in praise of Abul-Fadl al-’Abbas, peace be upon him, where he pleads to Allah through him to remove his ailment:
O father of al-Fadl! O eyesight of al-Husayn!
O caretaker of the caravan on its march!
Do you shun me, the gracious that you are,
And the refuge for whoever seeks protection?!
Among his poetry are lines that he composed in praise of the Prophet (S) and
his pure Progeny (‘a) the composition of which he did finish; among them are the following:
We praise You, Lord, Who honoured
This whole existence with the Chosen one:
Muhammad and his good Progeny,
The path of guidance, who suffice the seeker,
Who guide whoever strays from the right way
To the path of righteousness and wilaya.
In their hadith, Ahl al-Bayt said:
Whoever praises us in a verse of poetry
Allah will assist him through His Holy Spirit
And all doubt from him will He remove;
So I liked to rhyme what the scholars
Of authentic traditions did record
Of merits of the Prophet's Purified Progeny
Those put in charge by the Lord.
The author, may Allah have mercy on him, suffered a great deal from harsh living conditions and the agonies of life. He took his stride in life with pride and dignity. He retained a sufficient measure of self-respect not to lower himself and do what was not becoming of him or what would jeopardize his studies or his performance as a teacher. I’tikaf preoccupied him a great deal, and he was satisfied from this life with attaining wisdom.
Ayatullah Abul-Hasan al-Isfahani, the leading theologian, may Allah have mercy on him, very much desired that he should visit him and be his representative at one of the major cities of Iraq so that he would be able to earn means of a comfortable life, but such an offer did not rest well with him!
Such a role did not appeal to him, and he deep down felt satisfied with what Allah,
the most Exalted One, had allotted for him, accepting whatever means of livelihood at his disposal. His main concern was to acquire more and more knowledge and satisfy himself with its treasures of minute legacies. Having worked very hard and with persistence, he acquired a respectable status among people of distinction.
He, may Allah have mercy on him, used to talk about such wishes desired for him by religious authorities, and he used to justify his having rejected their offers by saying that once the means of ease and luxury were available, one would not be able to control his worldly desires, and he might find himself involved in other things.
Such justifications and other matters that he did not express were behind his refusal, and he preferred to remain silent rather than discuss them.
As regarding his physique, he was thin and straight. During his last days, when various types of ailments assaulted him from all directions, he used to struggle to stand straight with his head upright. It very much pleased him to hold majlis on various occasions for the pure Imams (‘a) and for their faithful followers.
His belief in them and in their special status with Allah often prompted him to seek their intercession to remove his affliction. Why would he not do so? Did not Imam Abul-Hasan ‘Ali al-Hadi (‘a) order Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari to ask someone to pray for him at the gravesite of the Master of Martyrs?
He, may Allah have mercy on him, maintained quiet
nerves, yet he would become agitated upon seeing something which he did not like or hear. He was emotional and tearful whenever he heard the tragedy that befell the progeny of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and them, so he would seek intercession with Allah, the most Exalted One, through their status with Him to remove his hardship and repel the harm from him.
He had a firm conviction that Allah, the most Exalted One, did not extend his life-span except through them, for even one of the ailments that befell him was sufficient to put an end to him. Thus did he remain till death overtook him on Muharram 17, 1391/March 15, 1971; so, may Allah grant him His ridwan and generous rewards. One of the most interesting eulogies written about him is a poem composed by Shaikh Ahmad al-Wa’ili in which he recorded his year of death as follows:
Oh, ‘Abdul-Razzaq, the brilliant mind,
The spirit of Iman and of conduct!
A grave in which you reside
Is a garden where you will lodge
Till the Day of Meeting.
So when you are brought back to life,
Your good deeds shall surround you:
White, sweet in their shine
And spread like the field of the Taff
For which you recorded for Husayn
And for his family and the companions
Pages of depth and scrutiny that revile
The souls of those who aspire
To acquire every precious thing.
About Husayn you wrote, and him you shall meet
And see the over-brimming Pool and the Waiter!
These shall intercede for you for sure,
the Lord has for you is even more.
Hopeful of your Lord's rewards, record:
O servant of al-Razzaq you went away,
O to al-Razzaq did you go!
(1391 A.H/1971 A.D.)
In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful
And (as for) those who strive hard for Our sake, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways, and Allah is most surely with the doers of good. (Qur’an, 29:69)
And do not reckon those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay! They are alive, receiving sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what Allah has given them of His grace, and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Qur’an, 3:169-170)
Surely Allah has traded the believers’ persons and property for the Garden: they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain, a promise which is binding upon Him in the Torah, in the Bible, and in the Qur’an, and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice, then, in the pledge which you have made, and that is the mighty achievement. (Qur’an, 9:111)
The only objective anticipated by the creed's Martyr and Islam's defender, al-Husayn son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), was to undo the Umayyads’ innovations and remove the viciously false allegations attributed to the Islamic Shari’a, and to attract the attention to its clearance and that of its adherents from the shame and the
demeaning innovations which the Umayyads attached to it as well as the obvious debauchery and the merciless politics of the time.
The Master of Martyrs achieved his glorious uprising's objective, exposing all the blatant impudence to all those who were concerned about the faith. People came to identify Yazid and all those who surrounded him from among the evil leaders and the germs of dissension as the embodiment of everything shameful.
Ears felt too offended to listen to them, and there was hardly any Muslim who did not look at them with contempt, so much so that hostility towards them intensified, grudge against them mounted, and people's zeal for the faith ebbed.
It reached the point where arguments turned into physical violence, and their life of ease and luxury was turned into one of bloody wars that put an end to them, ruining their government which was founded on the ashes of the Islamic caliphate without any wisdom or merits. Husayn the victor (‘a) thus achieved his objective, and people have kept remembering him. His fame spread far and wide, and so did his prestige and glory.
And do not reckon those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay! They are alive, receiving sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what Allah has given them of His grace, and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Qur’an, 3:169-170)
I cannot imagine you,
dear reader, as you march along history and investigate the facts with analyzing eyes except that the honourable person of the Father of the Oppressed becomes manifest to you, and so is the case with his sacred goal, good intentions, noble aims, as he travelled or landed, assaulted or halted, condemned or condoned.
Nor do I think that you need to be acquainted with the details of those statements after having come to know who the great martyr is, and what deeds he did. Of course, you know before anything the nature of his opposing stand and the shame that caused him to grow gray hair.
Even if we set aside our firm conviction that righteous Husayn (‘a) was, indeed, the nation's Imam and that evident truth was on his side and was beyond the reach of any other man of his time, we will still not find it fair at all that the tyrant of his land should have thus waged a war against him or competed with him for any of his merits. He was the Master of the Youths of Paradise. When did his foe ever find himself qualified to compete with Husayn (‘a) so that he would be apt to challenge him? He (‘a) felt too dignified to meet even those who had preceded Yazid in his post.
Could you imagine al-Husayn (‘a) comparing Abu Sufyan with the Great Prophet (S), or Mu’awiyah with the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), or the liver-chewing woman with the mother of
the faithful, Khadija, or Maysun with the Head of the Ladies of the World, or the pre-Islamic debauchery with Islam's inspiration, or its overwhelming ignorance with his own overflowing knowledge, or the humiliating greed with his own sacred and dignified self..., up to the end of such comparisons the recording of which will exhaust the pen and make one run out of words?!
Between Allah, Glory and Exaltation to Him, and His sincere friends were mysterious secrets the knowledge of which is beyond the reach of others and the comprehension of minors. Fanaticism blinded them, so they dared to cast doubts about the sanctity of the Greatest Saviour, insisting on maintaining their shameful fanaticism.
They, therefore, said, “Al-Husayn was killed by the sword of his grandfather because he revolted against the imam of his time (meaning Yazid) after the latter had secured the oath of allegiance for himself and the conditions of the caliphate were met through the consensus of those who did and undid, and there was nothing in his conduct that would shame him [Yazid] or stain his reputation.”(1)
This speaker has overlooked the fact that Maysun's son (Yazid) never lived in righteousness even for one single day so that he would see the shame of what he did, nor was there for his shameful actions and sins any “before” or “after”. He suckled the breast of the woman from Kilab that was mixed with lustful desires. He grew up in the lap of one who was cursed by
Had the nation carried out this binding order, it would have achieved security against the imminent torment threatening it from the window of the innovations of this tyrant and due to his exterminating cruelty in dealing with it. But it denied Allah's bounties, so it started relishing the fountainhead plagued with thorny death.
Allah, therefore, clothed it with the outfit of fear, leaving it moaning under the yoke of persecution, shackled in the chains of humiliation and slavery just as it witnessed the insolence of debauchees and the violations of those who were immersed in their lust. Whatever filled the hated Umayyad bastion provided nourishment for Yazid, the man of sundry desires, as he grew up among such blatant manifestations of promiscuity.
Yazid openly expressed all the ill intentions that he had harbored against Islam and all those who adhered to it, gleefully expressing how he had the field open for him. The renowned scholar al-‘Alusi has said:
“Anyone who says that Yazid did not commit any transgression, and that cursing him is not permissible, ought to line up in the chain of command among Yazid's supporters. Let me say that this malignant man never believed in the Prophet's Message, and that his violations of Allah's sanctities and of the sanctities of His Prophet (S) are no less indicative of such disbelief than throwing a page of the Holy Qur’an in a pile of filth.
I do not think that dignified Muslims were at that time ignorant of his malicious nature, nor were they overcome, subdued, unable to do anything other than persevering. Were this malignant man thought to have been a Muslim, then he was a Muslim whose deeds incorporated the sins that no articulate tongue can ever describe.
I go as far as permitting cursing him by name even when nobody can ever compare him with any licentious man, ever. It is quite obvious that he never repented, and the possibility of his having repented is less than that of his having believed (in Islam) in the first place.”
In his category fall (‘Ubaydullah) Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Sa’d, and their company; so, Allah's curse be upon them and upon those who support, assist and follow them and all those who incline towards them, a curse that lasts till the Day of Resurrection, so long as there are eyes that shed tears for the tragedy inflicted upon Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a).
I like what our contemporary poet, the one whose distinction is quite evident to everyone, namely ‘Abdul-Baqi Afandi al-’Umari al-Musili, who said the following after having been asked about cursing Yazid,
More than I curse Yazid should you curse him after:
So heap upon him the worst of cursing now and forever!
Anyone who fears lest he should be criticized for thus openly cursing him should nevertheless curse this deviator from the Right Path by saying: “May Allah, the Exalted One, the Almighty, curse whoever consented to
have al-Husayn (‘a) killed and whoever unjustly harmed the Progeny of the Prophet (S) and whoever confiscated their rights.”
He will, then, be cursing Yazid in such general terms since the latter is included in such condemnation. Nobody disagrees about the permissibility of condemning this cursed man using such words except Ibn al-’Arabi to whom reference is made above, and so are those who agree with him.
These folks, according to what is narrated about them, do not permit the cursing of those who agreed to have al-Husayn (‘a) killed, and this, by my life, is going too far in being misguided; it is the misguidance which may even surpass that of Yazid himself.
Al-Barzinji, in his book Al-Isha’a, and [Ibn Hajar] al-Haythami [al-’Asqalani], in his book Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, have both recorded that Imam Ahmad [Ibn Hanbal] was asked once by his son ‘Abdullah about cursing Yazid.
Said he, “Why should anyone not curse one whom Allah has cursed in His Book?!” ‘Abdullah said, “I have read the Book of Allah, the most Exalted, the Almighty, and I did not find in it any cursing of Yazid.” Imam Ahmad said, “Allah says,
‘But if you held command, you were sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship!’ (Qur’an, 47:22).
What corruption and severing of the ties worse that what Yazid had done?”
A group of scholars, including Abu Ya’li, the judge, and al-hafiz Ibn al-Jawzi, emphatically declared the permissibility of cursing Yazid. Al-Taftazani has said, “We do
not stop at raising doubts about his [Yazid's] conduct but go as far as doubting his conviction, the curse of Allah be upon him and upon his supporters and followers.” Jalal ad-Din al-Suyuti, too, openly declared the permissibility of cursing him.
In Al-Wafi bil Wafiyyat, and in Ibn al-Wardi's Tarikh, it is stated that Yazid was approaching Jayrun's highway when al-Husayn's women and children were brought and the severed heads were hoisted atop the spears. A raven croaked, so jubilant Yazid said the following verses of poetry:
When those loads did come in sight,
When the sun upon Jayrun's hills shone bright,
The raven croaked so I did say:
Say or do not say,
For now I have had my way
And made even the Prophet pay!
“What he meant,” both authors comment adding, “is that he [Yazid], having killed those whom he killed [of the Prophet's family], he got even with the Messenger of Allah (S) who caused on the Battle of Badr the killing of men such as Yazid's grandfather, ‘Utbah, and his uncle, ‘Utbah's son, and other men. His statement is nothing but obvious blasphemy.
If the narration is authentic, Yazid will then have committed apostasy. A similar incident is Yazid's adaptation of the poetic verses composed during the pre-Islamic period by ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Zub’ari starting with ‘I wish my ancestors..., etc.'”(1)
Add to the above a list of more sins and transgressions. He, hence, deserved to be cursed by Allah, by His angels and prophets, and by all those who follow the latter till the
Day of Judgment.
Nobody hesitates to do so except one who is deprived of the fragrance of conviction, blinded by his own fanaticism from embarking upon the right tracks so his steps are shaky, and he is confused, not knowing the right path, nor does he find an exit out of his tunnel.
Scholarly critics did not stop at confirming his (Yazid’s) lack of conviction and apostasy; rather, Ibn Khaldun, for example, says, “Abu Bakr Ibn al-’Arabi, the Maliki judge, erred when he said in his book Al-’Awasim wal-Qawasim: ‘Husayn was killed by the sword of the same Shari’a which he followed,' thus overlooking the conditions required of a just imam who is qualified enough to take charge of the Islamic caliphate, for who could be more just than Husayn? Who could be a better Imam than him?
Who could be more fair in fighting those of diverse personal views?” On p. 254, he refers to the consensus view with regard to Yazid being corrupted and to the corruption of those who rallied behind him, and that he was not fit to be the leader of the nation.
It was because of what he was that Husayn (‘a) saw it mandatory to fight him despite the reluctance of the Sahaba and the tabi’in to support him not because his action was not right, but because they did not justify the spilling of blood. It was not proper to support Yazid by fighting Husayn. Rather, the killing of Husayn (‘a) was one of Yazid's
indications of apostasy, and al-Husayn (‘a) was truly a martyr.”(1)
Ibn Muflih, a ‘Hanbalite, says:
“Both Ibn ‘Aqil and Ibn al-Jawzi have permitted the fighting of an unjust leader using the example of Husayn (‘a) fighting Yazid in order to uphold righteousness. Ibn al-Jawzi has included this concept in his book Al-Sirr al-Masun among the common beliefs upheld by the majority of Sunni Muslims barring a group that said that Yazid was right and Husayn (‘a) was wrong in fighting him.
If these folks look into [Yazid's] biography, they will see how the oath of allegiance was taken for him by force, how people were forced to swear the oath of allegiance to him, and how he dealt with people in the ugliest manner.
Moreover, even if we say that his caliphate was valid, Yazid still did many things each one of which rendered his caliphate null and void such as his plundering of the people of Medina, his bombardment of the Ka’ba with the catapult, his killing of al-Husayn (‘a) and his family members, his hitting Husayn's mouth with a rod, his carrying Husayn's head on top of a lance... Anyone who finds such conduct palatable is an ignorant Sunni who thinks that by doing so he is only enraging the Rafiis”(2).
Al-Taftazani has said,
“In all truth, the details of Yazid's endorsement of the murder of Husayn (‘a) and his excitement thereat, as well as his insulting the family of the Prophet (S), are consecutively reported even when their details vary. We
do not only question his actions, we question his iman. May Allah curse him and curse his supporters and helpers.”(1)
Ibn Hazm has said,
“The action undertaken by Yazid son of Mu’awiyah was for the sake of this world; that's all, and it has no justification whatsoever; it is pure oppression.”(2)
“Some scholars transgressed beyond all limits when they decided that al-Husayn (‘a), grandson of the Prophet (S), may Allah be pleased with him and may He please him, was unfair to a drunkard, to one who violated the purified Shari’a, namely Yazid son of Mu’awiyah, may Allah curse both of them. How amazing to come across statements that make the skin shiver and that stun even the hardest rock upon hearing them!”(3)
Al-Jahiz has said,
“The abominations committed by Yazid, such as his killing of al-Husayn (‘a), his transporting the daughters of the Messenger of Allah (S) as captives, his hitting al-Husayn's lips with his rod, his terrorizing the people of Medina, his demolition of al-Ka’ba..., all point out to his cruelty, oppression, and his being a Nasibi, to his error of judgment, to his grudge, animosity, and hypocrisy, to his altogether renunciation of iman: every apostate is cursed, and everyone who prohibits anyone from cursing an already condemned person is himself worthy of being cursed.”(4)
Al-Burhan al-Halabi (of Aleppo) narrates saying that the mentor Muhammad al-Bakri, following in his father's footsteps, used to curse Yazid and say, ‘May Allah increase his shame and place him in the lowest rung of Sijjeen.”(5)
Ibn Muhammad al-Kayaharashi, too, has cursed him saying, “Had I unleashed my pen, I would have recorded a great deal of this man's shameful deeds.”(1)
Ibn al-’Imad quotes him saying that he was once asked about Yazid son of Mu’awiyah, and he answered by saying that the man was not among the Sahaba because he was born when ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab was the caliph. Ahmad offers two views in this regard one of which is implicit and the other explicit, and so is the case with (Imam) Abu Hanifa.
As far as we are concerned, we have only one explicit view about him and none implicit. Why should there be any other way especially since Yazid was well known for being an expert in playing dominoes, in being a habitual drunkard, in writing famous poems in praise of wine drinking?(2)
Dr. ‘Ali Ibrahim Hasan says,
“Yazid used to be proverbial in his wine drinking, entertainment escapades, and in hunting.”(3)
Al-Thahabi, in Siyar A’lam al-Nubala', has said,
“Yazid son of Mu’awiyah was a very rude, crude, and heavy handed Nasibi. He consumed intoxicants and committed abominations. He started his reign by killing al-Husayn, the martyr, and concluded it with the Harra Battle. People, for these reasons, held him in contempt, and he was not blessed in his life-span.”(4)
Shaikh Muhammad ‘Abdoh has said,
“Had there been in this world a just government that implements the Shari’a and another violating it, every Muslim is obligated to support the first.”
Then he goes on to say,
“It is based
on this principle that Imam al-Husayn, grandson of the Messenger of Allah (S), fought the leader of oppression and corruption whose government was forced on the Muslims by oppression and trickery, namely Yazid son of Mu’awiyah, may Allah forsake him and forsake any Nasibi or Karami who defends him.”(1)
Ibn Taghrbardi, a Hanafi, has said, “Yazid was an adulterer, a habitual drunkard.”(2) He adds saying, “Scholars have issued fatawa strongly denouncing ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdul-’Aziz al-Qazwini for calling Yazid ‘Commander of the Faithful.' He was, upon saying so, kicked out of Baghdad and sent back to Qazwin [in the Caspian region].”(3)
Abu Shama has said, “Ahmad Ibn Isma’il Ibn Yousuf al-Qazwini went to Baghdad once and delivered a sermon at al-Nizamiyya (school). On the Day of ‘Ashura, he was asked to condemn Yazid son of Mu’awiyah, but he said, ‘But he was a mujtahid imam,' whereupon someone assaulted him and almost killed him. He collapsed from the pulpit, then he was taken and sent back to Qazwin where he died in 590 A.H/1194 A.D.”(4)
Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi was asked once about cursing Yazid. He said, “Ahmad [Ibn Hanbal, Imam of the Hanbalites] has permitted it, and we say that we do not like Yazid because of his mistreatment of the son of our Prophet's daughter (‘a), how he transported the family of the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah and blessings be upon him and his progeny, as captives to Syria on camels without saddles, and how he dared to insult the family
of the Messenger of Allah. If you accept our reconciled stand, we say that we do not like him; let it be so; otherwise, we will have to refer to the basic cause: cursing Yazid is permissible.”(1)
Abul-Qasim al-Zajjaji, who relies on the authority of ‘Umar Ibn al-Dahhak, says, “Yazid Ibn Mu’awiyah used to play with a monkey. One day he carried it and put it on a zebra. Then he tied the zebra and set his horses loose to chase it till the horses crushed the zebra to death Yazid Ibn Mu’awiyah thereupon said,
‘Abul-Qays relied on its reins,
So we don't guarantee that it won't perish,
Just as was done to a shaikh before:
Ziyad, a zebra, crushed by the commander of the faithful.'”
Ibn al-Athir claims that Abu Ya’li, Hamzah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ja’far Ibn Muhammad Ibn Zayd Ibn ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a), said, “I do not call Yazid kafir because the Prophet (S) had said, ‘I pleaded to Allah not to let my offspring be persecuted by outsiders.'”(2)
This claim does not deserve anyone's attention because Abu Ya’li was too dignified and too trustworthy to make such a crude statement even when al-Rafi’i had preceded him in making it, recording it in his discussion of the scholars of Qazwin(3).
Even if one supposes that he had said so, it must have been said in observance of taqiyya. Mirza ‘Abdullah Afandi, a student of al-Majlisi, went to extremes in refuting it. All those who recorded Abu Ya’li's biography praised
and complimented him a great deal without ever mentioning at all that he had made such a statement. Had he made it, they would have despised him solely on its account.
In his books, Shaikh as-Saduq invokes Allah's mercy on Abu Ya’li's soul, expressing his pleasure with him; he was, indeed, one of his mentors. On p. 493, Chapter 39, of ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Riďa (‘a), for example, he is quoted detailing some of the events that took place during the year 339 A.H/951 A.D. according to his correspondence with ‘Ali Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Hashim who details the events of 309 A.H/922 A.D. quoting Yasir, the servant [of Imam al-Riďa (‘a)] who quotes Imam al-Riďa (‘a).
Despite his fanaticism, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi records Abu Ya’li's biography without quoting this unbecoming statement falsely attributed to him.(1)
This imprudent statement is something that al-Rafi’i and Ibn Athir had added of their own without relying on any authority whatsoever.
Having thus taken note of the nation's most famous scholars who express their contempt towards Yazid, let us put ‘Abdul-Mughith Ibn Zuhayr Ibn ‘Alawi al-Harbi on trial and ask him about the “authentic” references from which he derived the text material for his book in praise of Yazid,(2) about which “merit” he found in him to record in his book, and about Yazid's entire life, a life full of shame and assaults on the Shari’a. This is the reason why the scholars paid no attention to his book.
In Vol. 2, p. 275, of Shatharat al-Thahab, while detailing the
events of the year 583 A.H/1187 A.D., Ibn al-’Imad rebuts him topic by topic; on p. 328, Vol. 2, of Ibn Kathir's book titled Al-Bidaya, he is accurately and excellently rebutted by Ibn al-Jawzi; in Vol. 11, p. 213, of his book Al-Kamil, Ibn al-Athir rebuts him, and in Muruj al-Thahab, he is rebutted in the most amazing way; on p. 356, Vol. 1, of Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, Ibn al-Jawzi rebuts him and calls his rebuttal “a response to the stubborn fanatic who forbids the cursing of Yazid.”
What is really strange is the verdict of ‘Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisi who was once asked about Yazid; he said, “His caliphate was authentic because sixty Sahabis swore the oath of allegiance to him including [‘Abdullah] Ibn ‘Umar [Ibn al-Khattab]. But if someone does not like him, he should not be held accountable because he was not among the Sahaba.
Rather, cursing him should be banned for fear of touching his father and in order to close the door before dissension.”(1)
More strange than this is the denial by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami that Yazid accepted the killing of al-Husayn (‘a) at all or that he ever ordered it(2) despite this fact being transmitted consecutively: Yazid was quite pleased with it; this fact is denied only by those who deny the sun having rays. Ibn Jarir and al-Suyuti have both said that when al-Husayn (‘a) was killed, Yazid was very happy, and Ibn Ziyad's status with him was enhanced, then he regretted it.(3)
Al-Khawarizmi says that Yazid said
to al-Nu’man Ibn Bashir, “Praise to Allah Who killed al-Husayn.”(1).
They [such “scholars”] kept the lid over his abominable deeds just as they had done to the oppression of his father, Mu’awiyah, who had renounced the laws enacted by the person who carried out the Divine Call. Is he not the one who said the following to his father Sakhr who pretended to have accepted Islam for fear of the Muslim’s swords:
O Sakhr! Do not accept Islam and thus scandalize us
After the corpses of those who fell at Badr have been torn,
Do not submit to something to hand over to us,
While the dancers at al-Nu’man suffer from heavy hearts.
Death is easier than our youths saying to us
That Ibn Hind's cavalry turned away from protecting al-’Uzza,
So if you refuse, we will reject what you accept,
And do not turn people from al-Lat and al-’Uzza if they accept them...?!(2)
Ibn Abul-Hadid says, “Many of our fellows have cast doubt about Mu’awiyah's creed and said that he was an atheist who did not believe in Prophethood. They quote his own statements testifying to this fact”.(3)
His grandfather Sakhr is the one who, upon the conquest of Mecca, said to al-’Abbas, “This is a kingdom.” Al-’Abbas, thereupon, rebuked him by saying, “Woe unto you! This is Prophethood!” About Mu’awiyah, Ahmad Ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqi says, “Mu’awiyah exited disbelief and entered into hypocrisy, and during the time of the Messenger of Allah (S) and thereafter, he went back to his original disbelief.”(4)
Maysun's son is the sap of all these
abominations. When was he ever fit to rule, much less to be looked upon as the divinely supported caliph, especially since among the nation there was then present the fragrant flower of the Messenger of Allah (S), the Master of the Youths of Paradise, the son of the man upon whose struggle the creed was established, the son of the Head of all the women of mankind, the fifth among those covered with the Prophet's mantle (ashab al-kisa’), the peer of the Glorious Book of Allah according to hadith al-thaqalayn (tradition of the two weighty things)?
He was the one from whose sides knowledge was gushing forth, from whose great conduct ethics and morals were gloriously manifested wherever he went, whose sides emitted the fragrance of Prophethood, whose countenance shone with the glow of Imamate. To such merits does al-Husayn (‘a) point out when al-Walid asked him to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid; he, thereupon, said,
“Amir! We are the household of the Prophet, the substance of the Message, the ones visited by the angels; it is through us that Allah initiates and concludes. Yazid is a man of sin, a drunkard, a murderer of the soul the killing of which Allah has prohibited, a man who is openly promiscuous. A man like me shall never swear the oath of allegiance to a man like him.” (1)
Having stated all the above, let us ask this man of pedantry about his claim that al-Husayn (‘a) dissented after the oath of
allegiance had (unanimously) been secured for Yazid: “When was such a swearing under duress secured, and when was there any consensus in its regard given by those who tied and untied?
Was it when his father [Mu’awiyah] secured it through terrorism, or was it when he swiftly dispatched funds to the masters of evil who cowered as they licked their lips?(1)
Or was it when Yazid's appointees offered it to people, so the descendant of the Messenger of Allah (S), together with Banu Hashim, turned away from it, and al-Zubayr fled from it and hid in Mecca, while Ibn ‘Umar confined himself to his house?”(2)
‘Abdul-Rahman son of [first caliph] Abu Bakr used to publicly say that it was an allegiance taken Heraclius-style: whenever one Heraclius fell, another Heraclius would succeed him.(3) So Mu’awiyah dispatched one hundred thousand dirhams to appease him, but he sent the money back saying, “I shall not sell my religion in exchange for this life.”(4)
‘Abdullah son of ‘Amr Ibn al-’As said to ‘Abis Ibn Sa’id, who urged him to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid, “I know him better than you, and you have surely sold your religion in exchange for this world.”(5)
Sa’id Ibn Zayd Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Nafil al-’Adawi said the following to a Syrian man sent by Marwan Ibn al-Hakam to him to secure his oath of allegiance to Yazid: “Marwan is ordering me to swear the oath of allegiance to people whom I have struck with my sword till they submitted
to Allah. By Allah! They did not surrender to Allah; they only surrendered to the sword.”(1)
Ziyad Ibn Abeeh(2) said to ‘Ubayd Ibn Ka’b al-Numayri, “Mu’awiyah wrote me with regard to swearing the oath of allegiance to Yazid, and securing the cause of Islam is quite a great cause. Yazid followed his own whims and desires. He was quite negligent about the creed due to a passion for hunting. So, inform Mu’awiyah about me and acquaint him with how negligent Yazid is with regard to the religious injunctions, and tell him about his abominable deeds.”(3)
Sa’id, son of ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan, too, denounced Mu’awiyah. He once wrote Mu’awiyah saying, “My father [the third caliph] is better than Yazid's father; my mother is better than his mother, and I am better than him.”(4)
Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays denounced his caliphate, too. He wrote Mu’awiyah once trying to show him where he had erred by appointing his son as his successor and by preferring him over both Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn (‘a) despite their merits and lineage.
He reminded him of the terms which he had promised al-Hasan (‘a) to fulfill, including one saying that he would not put anyone ahead of him, and that the people of Iraq never hated him nor his brother al-Husayn (‘a) ever since they loved them both, and that the hearts that hate Mu’awiyah were still beating within them.(5)
The oppressed Imam and the Master of Martyrs (‘a) spared no means to provide Mu’awiyah with advice, to guide him to
the right path, and to acquaint him with Yazid's abominable conduct, and that he was better than him in every respect.
Once he said to him, “My mother is better than his mother, and my father is better than his father.” Mu’awiyah then said to him, “As regarding your mother, she is the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S); she is, of course, better than any woman from [the tribe of] Kilab. As regarding my love for Yazid, were I to be awarded what fills a fertile oasis [with gold], I would not be satisfied. As regarding your father and his, they both sought the judgment of Allah, so Allah judged in favour of his father over yours.”(1)
It was then that Abu ‘Abdullah, Imam al-Husayn (‘a), refrained from commenting because he became convinced that the son of the liver-chewing mother would never be convinced about the truth Yet Mu’awiyah refrained from saying that Yazid's father was better than Husayn's because he knew that that would have been something quite unheard of due to ‘Ali (‘a) being the foremost in accepting Islam and to his having all merits, and to his superiority in all virtues.
It was for that reason that Mu’awiyah refrained from alluding to the existence of disliking and of a dispute of sort, and this is what the scholars of rhetoric call “persuasion.”
On another occasion, the Master of Martyrs, Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a), said to him, “I understood what you mentioned about Yazid's accomplishments and the policy of
Muhammad's nation. You want to mislead people into thinking that you are describing someone with whom they are not familiar, or identify an absentee, or acquaint them with some specific knowledge.
Yet Yazid has personally revealed what his mentality is; so, draw your own conclusion about Yazid from noticing his interest in exploring decorated hunting dogs(1), race pigeons, female singers with their musical instruments, his entertainment parties, and you will then find all of that helpful [to form an idea about him]. Stop what you are trying to do; it will not help you when you meet Allah to carry, besides your own burden of sins, the sins of all this multitude.
By Allah! You never cease to seek falsehood with oppression and earn an outrage coupled with injustice, so much so that you have filled all containers though the distance between you and death is only that you close your eyes. So proceed to do something which will testify against you on a Day witnessed by everyone, a Day that is sure to come; there is no doubt about it.”(2)
On a third occasion, Imam Husayn (‘a) wrote Mu’awiyah saying,
“Be admonished that Allah, the most Sublime, the most Great, has a Book which leaves nothing, small or big, without recording it. Allah, the most Exalted One, does not forget how you annihilate people for mere suspicion, how you kill His friends only on account of your charges, and how you exile them from their homes to foreign lands. Did you
not kill Hujr al-Kindi and the worshippers who always upheld their prayers and who resented oppression and regarded bid’as as most abhorred and did not accept the blame of anyone when it came to upholding Allah's Commandments?
Did you not kill ‘Amr Ibn al-Hamq, the companion of the Messenger of Allah (S), the righteous servant of Allah whose body was worn out by adoration and whose complexion turned yellow on account of fearing Allah even after having granted him security and given him of the sacred promises that which, had you given them a bird, it would have descended upon you from the peak of the mountain, so you thus defy your Lord and take such promises lightly?
Did you not claim the son of Sumayya (as your son), the one who was born to a slave from Thaqif, claiming he was begotten by your father although the Messenger of Allah (S) had said, “The newborn belongs to the bed upon which he was born, whereas whoever commits adultery should be stoned,” thus forsaking the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (S) deliberately?
Did you not follow your own inclinations without any guidance from Allah, the most Exalted One, then you granted him authority over the Iraqis so that he would cut the hands of the Muslims, gouge out their eyes, and crucify them on palm-tree trunks, as if you do not belong to this nation, and as if they do not belong to you?
Are you not the one
who wrote Ziyad ordering him to kill anyone who followed the creed of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a), so he killed them and mutilated their corpses following your orders while ‘Ali's creed is the creed of Allah, the most Sublime, the most Great, whereby He smote you and your father and whereby you now seat yourself where you are?
Add to all this your forcing people to swear the oath of allegiance to your son Yazid although he is a child who drinks wine and plays with dogs. Surely you have lost your soul, compromised your creed, and violated your trust.”(1)
On a fourth occasion, the Imam (‘a) wrote him to enumerate his sins following the killing by Ziyad Ibn Abeeh of Muslim Ibn Zaymar and ‘Abdullah Ibn Naji, both of Hadramaut, and their crucifixion for many days in Kufa on their houses' doors only because they were supporters (Shi’as) of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali (‘a).
Among what he said was: “Are you not responsible for the execution of Hujr and both men from Hadramaut regarding whom the son of Sumayya wrote you telling you that they followed the religion of ‘Ali (‘a) and followed his views, so you wrote him saying, ‘Kill everyone who follows the religion of ‘Ali (‘a),' notwithstanding the fact that ‘Ali followed the creed of his cousin (S) who smote your father, the same creed because of which your father smote those who adhered to it and because of which you yourself now seat
yourself where you are?
Had it been otherwise, we, rather than you, would have been honoured by bearing the brunt of its responsibility in this life and in the life to come, had we only removed it from your shoulders and shouldered it ourselves.”
The Imam (‘a) rebuked him in a lengthy letter for adopting Ziyad and appointing him as ruler of Iraq(1), but all these pieces of advice from the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (S) did not avail to put an end to Mu’awiyah's falsehood after the latter's acts of terrorism and greed had already blocked the way before justice and equity.
Yet despite his very well known shrewdness, Yazid did not feel comfortable regarding any harm touching al-Husayn (‘a) for fear of its dire consequences and repercussions. He knew that the most oppressed Imam (‘a) would never accept humiliation till the last breath, and that his Shi’as then were different from the time they used to be when his brother Imam al-Hasan (‘a) was alive.
These kept complaining about the horrible persecution meted to them at the hands of Mu’awiyah's governors, so much so that any of them preferred to be called an atheist rather than a “Turabi.”
Quite often, they used to confront Imam al-Hasan (‘a) very bitterly despite their recognition of his Imamate and their surrendering to the fact that whatever he did was due to divine righteousness and will. They went as far as urging al-Husayn (‘a) several times to rise against oppression, but he declined
to do so out of deference for the obligations of the Imamate, preferring to postpone doing so till the right time, the time of which he was informed by both his grandfather (S) and by his wasi, his own father (‘a).
Mu’awiyah knew very well that in the event al-Husayn (‘a) was in any way harmed, the Shi’as would rally behind him, and this would lead to worsening an already bad relationship between both of them.
It was for this very reason that he advised his son Yazid to seek peace with al-Husayn (‘a) if the issue was aggravated no matter how “harsh” the Imam (‘a) might be to him. Said he to Yazid, “The people of Iraq will not leave Husayn till they get him out [of Medina]; so, if he rebels against you, and if you capture him, forgive him, for his lineage is great, and so is his right.”(1)
Due to his deadly conceit, ignorant Yazid did not pay any attention to that advice; so, his evil overcame him, bringing out the worst in him. If Yazid, the man who personified all abominations, was pleased with a swift victory, his victory was soon followed by failure, and people faced him with condemnation. Even those who did not claim adherence to Islam blamed him a great deal.
The incident of the messenger sent by a [Byzantine] Roman emperor to Yazid at the latter's court is a case in point. The messenger saw how Yazid was beating the sacred severed head of the
Imam (‘a), so he responded in a way that shook the whole place. Yazid then realized that his falsely justifying what he had committed was of no avail any longer.
How could his justifications be of any avail after each and everyone who attended that meeting had heard a loud voice coming out of that sacred head saying, “La hawla wala quwwata illa billah” (there is no might nor strength except in Allah), just when Yazid ordered to have that messenger killed?(1)
Before the tragedy of Karbala’, who had ever heard a head, which had been severed from its body, speak so articulately? Was Maysun's son capable of frustrating Allah's mysteries or putting out His most sacred Light? Of course not.
The denunciation of what Yazid had done came even from his wives and those closest to him, so much so that when his wife Hind(2) saw the severed head crucified on her house door as ‘Alawite radiance emanated from it to the depth of the sky and witnessed it bleeding, and the blood was emanating a very sweet fragrance, she was very distressed and could not help entering Yazid's court without her veil.
She screamed: “The head of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S) is crucified on our house!” Yazid stood and covered her up and said, “Mourn al-Husayn, for he is the [cause of] anguish of Banu Hashim. Ibn Ziyad was swift in killing him.”(3)
He intended to mislead her and, by shifting the blame for the crime
to his governor, attempted to avoid condemnation. But what is already fixed cannot be removed. This is why he wrote his short missive which historians describe as “the rat's ear” and which he dispatched together with his more detailed one to the man whom he appointed as governor of Medina, namely al-Walid Ibn ‘Utbah, ordering him to secure the oath of allegiance for him from the entire population.
In his shorter missive, he instructed him to secure it specifically from al-Husayn (‘a)(1), and to kill him and send him his head to him if he refused.
This was due to Yazid's knowledge that the righteous men of his time and the dignitaries among them would not endorse his government, nor had they accepted to do so during the lifetime of his father, Mu’awiyah, except after being coerced and harassed.
He wanted to “officially” alienate himself from the order to kill al-Husayn (‘a) so that if his appointee did it then held him accountable, he would seek his excuse by attributing the act of killing to his appointee. In his letter ordering him to secure the oath of allegiance for him from all the people of Medina, he did not dare to refer to such an order. This would provide him with the opportunity to shift the blame to his appointee. It was then that he came up with that excuse, and some historians were thus duped. But will it avail him at all? Of course not.
They clothed themselves for what they did
attire of shame:
Black in color tailored by infamy.
The discussion of al-Husayn's martyrdom has been one of the mysteries of creation, one of the legacies of the prophets, and one of the subjects quite often discussed by the wasis and the bearers of the secrets, so that the Master, Praise to Him, would acquaint them with this great revolutionary and with his superiority over everyone else: he was the one who safeguarded the conclusive Shari’a.
All those prophets came to pave the way for such Shari’a and train the souls to accept it. Allah will surely reward them for grieving over him, for denouncing such a painful tragedy.
Adam wept over him, and so did Abraham, the Friend of Allah Moses (‘a) and Jesus (‘a) condemned his killer and ordered the Israelites to curse him saying, “Whoever lives to see him should fight on his side for he would be rewarded as though he was martyred fighting on the side of a prophet, whether charging or retreating. It is as though I can see his spot; each and every prophet visits it.” He also addressed it saying, “You are a spot of plenty of goodness; in you shall be buried the magnificent moon.”(1)
Prophet Isma’il (‘a), the one who was truthful to his promise, opted to follow his example after being informed of his martyrdom so that the Awaited Imam, may Allah hasten his reappearance, may avenge his murder.(2)
Yahya chose his head to be conveyed and displayed,
Finding his solace in the
example of Husayn.
The news of Husayn's impending martyrdom caused the holiest Messenger of Allah (S) to weep, and he eulogized him though he was still alive(1), so what if he had seen him slain at Karbala’ among a group of his kinsfolk who all were like lanterns that shatter the darkness after depriving him and all those with him from drinking the same water they had permitted the animals to drink?
Yes, the Prophet of Mercy (S) witnessed a piece of his heart in such a condition for which the heavens are rent asunder, and he saw that a huge multitude immersed in falsehood was bent on eradicating his Progeny anew from the world. Some of those who were with him saw him looking once at them and once at the sky, submitting to destiny.(2)
When the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) passed by Karbala’ on his march to Siffin, he alighted there, pointed to a particular spot and said, “There shall they alight,” then he pointed to another spot and said, “There shall their blood be spilled.
The offspring of Muhammad (S) shall alight there.” After a while he said, “Alas! O soil from which some people shall enter Paradise without judgment!”(3) Then he released his tears, and all those who were with him shed their tears, too, for seeing him thus weeping. He informed his closest followers that his son al-Husayn (‘a) would be martyred on that spot together with many youths who descend from Muhammad (S) together with his
companions who are the masters of martyrs. Nobody ever reached their lofty status, nor will any..., ever.(1)
In another statement which he (‘a) made when word was circulated that a group of young people belonging to Muhammad's family would be killed at Karbala’, he said, “The heavens and the earth shall weep for them, too.(2)
May my father be sacrificed for one whose only supporter was Allah.”(3) Then he added saying, “Banu Umayyah shall not cease immersing themselves in their misguidance till they unjustly spill the forbidden blood during the forbidden month It is as though I look at a handsome young man swimming in his blood. So once they do so, they will have none to seek excuses on their behalf, nor will they be able to maintain their government.”(4)
Salman the Persian once passed by Karbala’ on his way to Mada'in and said, “These are the places where my brethren will be killed, and this is the place where they will camp and their blood spilled! Here will the son of the best of the first generations and of the last will be killed.”(5)
Jesus son of Mary (‘a) passed once by the land of Karbala’ and saw gazelle grazing. The gazelle told him that they were grazing there only because of their love for the soil of the blessed offspring of Ahmad the Prophet (S), and that they felt secure in that land. Jesus (‘a) took some of their dung, sniffed it then supplicated saying, “O Allah! Preserve it
so that his [Husayn's] father may sniff it, too, and find in it means of condolence and solace.”
The dung remained there till the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) came to Karbala’. By that time, it had turned yellow due to the passage of time. He took it, sniffed it then wept. He passed it on to Ibn ‘Abbas saying, “Keep it; if you one day see it boiling in blood, you should then know that al-Husayn is killed.” He did. On ‘Ashura Day in the afternoon, he saw it boiling in blood.(1)
By necessity, the human society needs a reformer to bridge the gaps among its sectors, to correct its error, to complete its deficiency, and to enable it to stand on its own. The reason for all of this is the fact that the elements of corruption are present in it.
Had there been none to curb the nation's evil intentions, their whims and desires would have played havoc with them and divided them, so much so that even a relative would not be able to trust his relative, and all individuals would be the victims of their own ambition. Such a reformer is chosen by the Master, Glory to Him, from among His servants because He, and only He, is the One Who best knows the purity and integrity of the souls, of their renunciation of what displeases the Lord of the Worlds.
He will have to be protected against the immoralities the servants of
Allah have and against all abominable inclinations so that he may not partake of them and thus worsen the situation and abandon informing others and guiding them to the paths of guidance and warning them against the pitfalls of perdition.
Allah had created the greatest Prophet (S) from the light of His sanctity and bestowed upon him the most perfect of good ethics to the extent that he surpassed in his good conduct everyone else and excelled over every being in existence. He, therefore, started explaining what is divinely permissible and what is not, supported by divine inspiration.
One's pen is surely incapable of defining such a brilliant personality about which the Prophet (S) said to the Commander of the Faithful, “Nobody knows Allah except I and you; nobody knows me except Allah and you, and nobody knows you except Allah and I.”(1)
Since the Prophet (S) was not to live forever, being a mortal like any other human being whose end is predetermined, and since a number of his injunctions were quite general the time for whose specifics had not come yet, it was mandatory on the legislator that called for reforming the nation to appoint a successor to continue the march in his footsteps, in his determination, sincerity and infallibility.
Nobody knows what someone hides within himself except his Creator. Had the nation been entrusted to select such a person, it would have been impossible for it to distinguish one person from another because of its inability to determine the
characteristics that had to be present in the Imam.
Chaos, corruption, disputes and dissension would then result. This is contrary to the Munificence of the Master, Glory to Him.
“Your Lord creates whatever He pleases and chooses: they have no choice to make in the affair” (Sura Al-Qasas, 28:68).
“No believing man nor woman has any choice with regard to their affairs if Allah and His Messenger make a decree, and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger strays a manifest straying” (Sura Al-‘Azab, 33:36).
Succession [to the Prophet] is a divine post for which Allah, the most Exalted One, enables someone to carry the burdens of prophethood, so he conveys the message and calls for the details of the Shari’a brought by the Supreme Saviour.
He will guide the ignorant, alert the heedless, discipline the transgressor and explain in detail what the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Progeny, had summed up either to secure the common good of people, or he neglected to explain it because it was not opportune to do so yet.
After the Message had been conveyed by the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), he was succeeded by his son al-Hasan then by al-Hasan's brother al-Husayn, the Master of Martyrs, then by his (Husayn’s) son ‘Ali Zayn al-’Abidin, then by his son Muhammad al-Baqir followed by his son Ja’far as-Sadiq followed by his son Musa al-Kaďim followed by his son ‘Ali al-Riďa, then by his son Muhammad al-Jawad then by his son ‘Ali
al-Hadi, then by his son Hasan al-’Askari, then by his son the Awaited One, Abul-Qasim, Muhammad al-Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance.
Consecutively narrated traditions have told us that Allah, the Great, deposits with the Imam, whom He appointed for the nation as the proof and the guiding light whereby those who stray are guided, a divine power and a light whereby he can inquire about the beings and what happens in existence of events and epics. An authentic hadith says, “When one of us is born, a pole of light will be raised for him whereby he sees the deeds of Allah's servants and whatever takes place in the lands.”(1)
Such a statement refers to the divine power poured by the Truth, Glory to Him, for the purpose of discovering all facts as they are, be they statements or actions or anything else relevant to the material or spiritual world. It is through such a divine power that the curtains of ignorance are lifted and the barriers of heedlessness are removed; so, nothing remains except that it is present before them in its essence and before their holy selves.
Such a light dispels the darkness, so the one seeing will find what the deep darkness had veiled from him standing before his very eyes. Abu ‘Abdullah, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), has already informed us of how the Lord, Great is He, bestowed upon Ahl al-Bayt the ability to be acquainted with what happened to the early generations and what will happen to
the last ones, what is in the heavens and in the earth, and what was and is, so much so that all things are present before their very eyes.(1)
Then he records explaining thus, “Whatever belonged to the Messenger of Allah (S), the same belongs to us except his prophethood and wives.”(2)
There is no exaggeration in this statement that comes from those whom Allah had purified according to the text of the Holy Qur’an that says,
“Allah desires to remove from you, O Ahl al-Bayt, all abomination and purifies you with a perfect purification” (Sura Al-‘Azab, 33:33).
in order to be able to carry the most divine superabundance. There is no miserliness in the Supreme Lord, numerous are His Signs.
To exaggerate about someone is to point out one of his characteristics which may either be comprehended or not, due to the limitation of one's own comprehension. Reason does not negate the divine generosity. How could it, since the most Great One pours His bounties upon those who go to extremes in their oppression and who rebel against the sanctity of His Greatness, as if they were the ones who were doing Him a favour?!
Yet all of this did not stop Him from showing mercy and benevolence to them and granting them His favours. It is as though they had been the ones who did Him a favour! Yet all this did not stop Him from showing mercy to them and benevolence to them and granting them of His favours that whose
treasures are not exhausted, nor can it fail anyone who seeks it. This is one of the self-explanatory causes.
If the condition of the Overwhelming Lord, Praise to Him, is as we have just described with regard to those tyrants, how would He, the Omnipotent and the Great that He is, fare with the truth relevant to Ahmad (S) whom He created from the most sacred light, great is He, indeed?! So a meeting took place between an ever-flowing fountainhead and souls that are always ready to give.
It is no bid’a at all in what is narrated about them, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them, bearers of the knowledge of the unknown, with what Allah's servants do or do not, and with what happened in the lands or what will.
The knowledge of the unknown, in as far as they, peace be upon them, are concerned, is not relevant only to the Creator, the most Exalted One, so that it would be inaccessible to them. Such knowledge is characteristic of the Almighty Himself. As far as the Imams are concerned, Allah, Praise to Him, bestowed upon them such knowledge. It is through His grants and Munificence that they could know the nature of things and of events.
The knowledge of the unknown, then, is of two types:
1) One which has to exist and which comes only from the Creator of the heavens and the earth. It depends on Divine boons. It is what the prophets and their wasis had had,
and it is to such type of knowledge that the scholar of exegesis al-‘Alusi attracted our attention when he explained the following verse:
“Say: None in the heavens and in the earth knows the unknown except Allah” Al-‘Alusi said, “It may be said that, as a matter of fact, the knowledge of the unknown, from which everyone other than Him, the most Exalted One, is excluded, is that which is specifically relevant to one person without means whereby he acquires it.
2) As regarding the knowledge with certain individuals, this is acquired when He somehow bestows it upon them; so, it cannot be said that they were familiar with the unknown through the first avenue, for one who says so will certainly be committing apostasy. Rather, it should be said that they were distinguished from others when they were acquainted with the knowledge of the unknown.”(1)
A testimony to this fact is what Imam Abu Ja’far al-Jawad (‘a) said once to his wife, Umm al-Fadl, daughter of caliph al-Ma’mun, when she unexpectedly found herself menstruating. She said to him, “Nobody knows the unknown except Allah” Said the Imam (‘a), “And I know it because Allah, the most Exalted One, acquaints me with it.”(2)
The Imams (‘a) are at all times in need of Divine favours. “Had it not been for the continuity of their link with Him and the consecutive boons which He bestows upon me,” said Imam Abu ‘Abdullah, as-Sadiq (‘a), “I would have exhausted what I have with me.”
also said, “Had it not been for an increase every Friday evening in what we have, what is with us would have depleted.”(1) The Imam (‘a) by saying so meant to tell us that the Imams' knowledge is directly from the Creator, the most High, and that they are in continuous need for His knowledge and for the continuation of His mercy, Glory to Him.
His specifying Friday evening is due to its being a blessed one. It is blessed by the descending of Divine Munificence from the beginning of the evening till its end, unlike other nights. It is to such meaning that Imam al-Riďa (‘a) refers when he says, “Knowledge is made [by Allah] accessible to us; it is then that we know, and it is withheld from us, so it is then that we do not know.”(2)
In Surat al-Jinn, we read the following verse:
“The One Who knows the unknown, so He does not acquaint anyone with His knowledge of the unknown except a messenger with whom He is pleased.”(Sura al-Jinn, 72:26-27)(3)
Nobody who reads this verse should doubt (the gist of) what is stated above. The Messenger who stood the distance of two bows or closer was none other than the Seal of all the Prophets, the Messenger with whom Allah is pleased, the one over whom Allah never preferred anyone else from among all His creation. Imam Abu Ja’far, al-Baqir (‘a), used to say, “By Allah, Muhammad was the one with whom Allah is quite pleased.”(4)
never distances the successors of the Prophet (S) from such a status after having derived their light from that of Prophet Muhammad (S). Another testimony is the answer provided by Imam al-Riďa (‘a) to ‘Amr Ibn Haddab.
The latter rejected the notion that the Imams, peace be upon them, had with them the knowledge of the unknown, deriving his argument from the above quoted verse. The Imam (‘a) responded to his rejection by saying, “The Messenger of Allah (S) is the one who was familiarized by Allah with His knowledge of the unknown, and we are the heirs of that Messenger who came to know Allah's knowledge of the unknown; so, we thus came to know what was and what will be till the Day of Judgment.”(1)
Why would not the Messenger with whom Allah was pleased be the same one whom Allah loved especially since the Creator, Glory to Him, honoured him by addressing him directly without an intervening angel? Zurarah reports saying that he once asked Abu ‘Abdullah, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), whether the Messenger of Allah (S) used to be overcome with a swoon whenever he received revelation. “No,” answered the Imam (‘a), “it was not.
He swooned whenever he communicated with Allah, the Omnipotent, the Great, directly, without anyone intervening between them. As for Gabriel (‘a), he never visited him except after seeking and being granted his permission to do so. So, whenever he entered, he sat before the Messenger of Allah (S) just like a slave sitting
before his master.”(1)
When the Messenger of Allah (S) was in no condition to grant permission for Gabriel to enter, the latter remained outside by the drainpipe till he was granted permission to enter.(2)
Based on these traditions, which tell us about the status reserved by the Master, sublime are His Signs, for the greatest Messenger (S), Shaikh as-Saduq recorded his belief in the wahi and in the swoon [referred to above].(8) The view held by Shaikh al-Mufid is not different from his.
Says he, “Wahy is of two types: one the Prophet (S) hears directly without anyone interferring, and one wherein he hears through the angels.”(9) The great authority, Shaikh Muhammad Taqi al-Isfahani, who is well known as Aqa Najafi, follows in his footsteps. Add to this, the Prophet's knowledge of the Qur’an and whatever knowledge and secrets of natures and characteristics of things it contains even prior to its revelation to him.
What is most important is that the Master, Great is He, had told him not to make such knowledge public before receiving its revelation. He, Glory to Him, said, “Do not hasten with the Qur’an before its revelation is mandated to you.”(10) Had the Prophet (S) not been fully acquainted with what the Glorious Qur’an contains of secrets and knowledge, such a prohibition from making it public would have had no meaning.
This quite clearly proves that
the Prophet (S) knew what events took place and what events will take place, and that such knowledge was not totally dependent on Gabriel (‘a), descending upon him. The sacred boon that he had received from the Almighty had already acquainted him with all facts even before Gabriel was created...
At this juncture, another phenomenon becomes evident, one that was not realized by those who could not realize the degrees of greatness and beauty such a magnanimous personality enjoyed. It is the fact that the greatest Messenger (S) was familiar with reading and writing all languages regardless of their variations and methods of writing before and after his Prophethood due to his attainment of the highest degrees of [human] perfection.
Such a quality was not to be withheld from him. Had he not been thus endowed with such knowledge, he would have sought help from others whenever he needed to read or to write anything, and he would then have been in need of someone's favour: he is the embodiment of all favours and virtues. This is not only our view; it is the view to which renowned verifiers have submitted.(1)
The verse saying, “You do not write it with your own right hand” does not negate his knowledge of writing; it only negates his own writing it down, and there is no connection between such recording and his ability to write.
He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, was familiar with writing, but he did not
actually write anything down, and the reason for that is the doubt those who disbelieved in him would have then cast as the Holy Qur’an states.
We can conclude from all the above that Allah, the Almighty and the Great, bestowed upon the Imams from among the offspring of the Prophet (S) all the merits and virtues which their most holy grandfather had had with the exception of his prophethood and his wives. He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, being the Seal of the Prophets of Allah that he was, was permitted to marry more than four women.
Anyone who does not know the implication of the knowledge of the unknown, which these geniuses had, is surely to find such an issue tremendous, so he rejects it. One who does not know the fiqh of the Shari’a unknowingly admits the error of his belief.
Shaikh Zadah al-Hanafi says, “Qasim al-Saffar caused a verdict labelling as “illegal” any marriage based on one merely testifying to the unity of Allah and to the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah (S), claiming that such person had also to believe in the Prophet's knowledge of the unknown. But the head of the Tatar-Khans rejected the notion that he should be called an apostate because certain things are demonstrated before the purified soul of the Prophet (S), so he thus comes to acquire some of the knowledge of the unknown whereas Allah has said,
“The One Who knows the unknown, so He
does not acquaint anyone with His knowledge of the unknown except a messenger with whom He is pleased.”(Sura al-Jinn, 72:26-27)(1)
Neither of these men understood the meaning of “the knowledge of the unknown” discussed here, nor did either of them realize the truth about the Seal of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, so they said whatever they were able to comprehend and no more.
Having explained its connotation, the discreet reader has no excuse for hesitating, or for entertaining any doubt. Yes, nobody can deny that the Creator, Praise is due to Him, has with Him knowledge with which He, and only He, is familiar, the knowledge which He did not share with anyone else at all, including the time of the Hour.
As regarding Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) denying having any knowledge of the unknown, such as the following statement of Imam Abu ‘Abdullah, as-Sadiq (‘a), “Strange how some people claim that we know the unknown! None knows the unknown except Allah I was about to hit my bondmaid when she ran away from me and hid: I have no idea in which room she hid!,” this statement is interpreted as being said by way of taqiyya due to the presence at the time of men like Dawud al-Raqqi, Yahya al-Bazzaz, and Abu Busayr.
These men could not comprehend the mystery of how Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) knew what they knew. Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) wanted to deny having any knowledge of the unknown in order
to demonstrate his support for those men's beliefs. What supports this theory is Sadir, the narrator of this incident, visiting the Imam (‘a) thereafter and expressing to him his amazement at how he denied his knowledge of the unknown.
The Imam comforted him by saying that he knew what was even more than that: the Book of Allah in its entirety and all the knowledge and secrets it contains. Yet this incident is brushed aside by al-Majlisi, who states so in his book Mir'at al-’Uqul, due to the ignorance of those who have narrated it.
The reason why the Imam (‘a) denied knowing his bondmaid's whereabouts may have been to deny having seen her in her hiding place rather than having known where that place actually was. His phrase “I have no idea” means: “I did not actually see in which room she entered;” otherwise, one who has said about himself “The knowledge of what had passed before me is with me, and so is that which has not come to pass” cannot be ignorant of his bondmaid's whereabouts.
When Mubashshir knocked at the door of Abu Ja’far, Imam al-Baqir, and the maid went out to open it, he caught her hand, whereupon Abu Ja’far (‘a) called upon him from inside the house, “Enter, may you lose your father!” He entered and apologized by saying that he did not entertain any ill thought but only wanted to increase (his conviction that the Imam knew who was at the door). The Imam
(‘a) said to him, “Had the walls obstructed our vision as they obstruct yours, we and you would have been on par.”(1)
He also said once to Muhammad Ibn Muslim, “Had we been ignorant of what you all do or not do, we would not have been preferred over the rest of the people,” then he mentioned the incident at the Rabatha involving him and his fellow with regard to the subject of Imamate.(2)
The Prophet's hadith: “Had I known the unknown, I would have acquired plenty of goodness” does not carry any meaning other than the Prophet (S) being in need of Allah, the most Exalted, to acquire knowledge, and that he did not know the unknown on his own.
There is no doubt about that, for everyone believes that Allah, the most Exalted, is the One Who bestowed upon the Prophet (S) and upon his offspring, peace be upon them, the divine faculty whereby they were able to acquire the knowledge of the world.(3)
Another testimonial is when Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), who was with his followers in jail, asked his followers about the presence of those who were spying on them. They told him that they had no knowledge of such spies.
He, thereupon, said, “Thrice do I swear by the Lord of this building that had I been present with Moses and al-Khidr (‘a), I would have told them that I am more knowledgeable than [both of] them, and I would have informed them of the knowledge with which they
were not familiar. They were, indeed, granted the knowledge of what had already passed and what is to pass till the time of the Hour, and we [Ahl al-Bayt] have inherited all such knowledge from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Progeny.” (1)
This narration is authentic; nobody accuses Ibrahim Ibn Ishaq al-Ahmar of any weakness in what he narrates. We, furthermore, say that it does not contradict his vast knowledge due to the fact that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are not obligated to reveal all what they knew.
Rather, they had to act upon whatever met the principle of taqiyya, or due to their concern about some of their companions on account of being under surveillance. His statement is similar to another wherein he said, “I know what is in the heavens and in the earth, and what is in Paradise and in hell; I know what was and what will be.”
Having said so, the Imam (‘a) realized its tremendous effect on his audience; he was concerned about those who were in his company then and there, so he (‘a), went on to say, “I came to know all of it from the Book of Allah: The most Exalted One says that His Book contains the explanation of everything.”(2)
The Imam (‘a) took into consideration his companions' condition, so he brought them an argument to convince them, and so were the other Imams (‘a) in as far as their knowledge of temporal
circumstances and personal conditions were concerned.
His statement about Moses and al-Khidr (‘a), that they were granted the knowledge of what was, does not contradict al-Khidr's knowledge of the future of the young boy [whom he killed], for it is one of the causes with which Allah informed him for a temporal reason.
As regarding the Imams, peace be upon them, stating that when one(1) of them wants to know something, Allah informs him of it, it does not prove the limitation of their knowledge at a particular time.
Such a statement proves that putting the divine power with which they are endowed at birth to work depends on their will which is determined by the presence of an interest necessitating the revelation of a veiled fact and producing what they had had with them of treasured knowledge. Yet this explanation occurs in no more than three narrations all of which are refuted by al-Majlisi in his book Mir'at al-’Uqul, proving the weakness of some of them and the ignorance of those who reported the others.
What can be concluded from the above is that Allah, the most Sublime, has bestowed upon His purified vicegerents a divine faculty whereby they could comprehend events, the nature of things, the secrets of everything, in addition to whatever good or evil takes place in the universe.
There is no exaggeration in all of this especially since the nature of these Imams is capable of absorbing such divine overflow, and since the Lord, Glory to Him,
is never miser in what He grants those upon whom He bestows of His knowledge. The Imams, peace be upon them, have declared the same, saying that they always are in need of His subsequent blessings, Great is He; otherwise, their storehouse of knowledge may deplete.
This is not unexpected with regard to those whose ultimate objective is to obey Allah Almighty, and whose substance is integrity. Such are Allah's friends and the truthful ones in addition to those whom the Creator appointed as the custodians of His Shari’a.
This view is endorsed by renowned critics and is stated by Shaikh al-Mufid on p. 77 of Al-Maqalat, and by al-Majlisi on p. 187, Vol. 1, of Mir'at al-’Uqul. Al-Ashtiyani, the critic, has followed in their footsteps as stated on p. 60, Vol. 2, of his commentary on Shaikh al-Ansari's Letters.
Ibn Hajar al-Haythami states the following:
“The verses stating: “Say: None knows the unknown in the heavens and in the earth save Allah” and “The One Who knows the unknown, so He does not acquaint anyone with His knowledge” do not contradict the prophets' and the walys' knowledge of portions of the unknown.
They know of such knowledge because Allah Almighty informs them of it. This is not the same knowledge like that relevant to Him whereby He is praised and glorified. In both of these verses, He is simply saying that none shares His knowledge of the latter.
As far as other types of knowledge are concerned, He informs whomsoever He
pleases of some of the knowledge of the unknown. The Almighty informing His prophets and friends of some of the knowledge of the unknown is possible; it is not impossible at all.
Anyone who denies it is stubborn. It goes without saying that such granted knowledge does not in the end lead to the recipients sharing with Allah the knowledge which He has reserved for Himself and whereby He is praised, glorified, and is known since eternity. This is the same view upheld by al-Nawawi in his verdicts”.(1)
This clearly proves that Ibn Hajar was not too far from accepting the notion that the walis knew the unknown, but he did not agree with the Shi’as with regard to their belief that their Imams from among Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, are capable of knowing the events which took place as well as those which will take place till the Day of Judgment.
He believes that such ability is characteristic of the Great Creator. The criterion he has set for the walis to know some of the knowledge of the unknown is their being empowered by their Master, Glory to Him, to do so; He is the One Who informs them of some of the knowledge of the unknown. Such empowering, he believes, keeps the Shi’a beliefs in check.
If the criterion of Allah Almighty empowering others to know the unknown becomes the particular divine faculty of certain individuals who are the offspring of the Messenger of Allah (S), then
it is quite possible that such faculty reaches its utmost limit to the extent that it will not be confined to some but rather to all such knowledge, so much so that one of such individuals may see things as if they are before his very eyes as Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) says.
The exception to this, of course, is the knowledge that Allah Almighty has confined only to Himself. None can be acquainted with such knowledge even if he reaches the degree beyond the zenith of perfection.
This is also the view held by Ibn Hajar. Al-Naishapuri, author of the Tafsir, has recorded it as follows: “If the walis are not granted such a faculty, it is either because Allah is entitled not to grant a believer what he wants, or because the believer simply is not worthy of it, and either one is far from the other. If a believer is empowered to attain it, it surely is the very greatest of all of what He grants a servant of His. If the One Who is most generous does not withhold the very best, He likewise is generous enough not to give what is the least.”(1)
He further says, “There is no contradiction between the verse saying, ‘No soul knows what it shall earn in the morrow' and the advance knowledge of the Prophet (S) of the conquest of Mecca and of the imminent wars against the renegades, those who deviated from the right path, and the apostates. All what the
verse says is its negation of the knowledge of the future, but if this is done by Allah informing someone of it, then the case is not so. It is quite possible that Allah informs His Prophet (S) of what will be.”(1)
From what we have already established, it has become clear to us that the Imams (‘a) were never ignorant of the martyrdom of each one of them: who would commit it, how and when. They were informed of it by Allah Who bestowed upon them of the types of knowledge whereby they comprehended the events, in addition to the heavenly tablet which descended upon their grandfather, the Supreme Saviour (S), and which they read.
Their welcoming martyrdom in a way that assisted the demise of their holy selves, or hurled them into perdition, is something that the Holy Qur’an prohibits. Safeguarding one's life and taking precautions against falling into perdition is obligatory so long as it is destined, or when it does not serve a higher purpose.
But in the presence of a purpose that is served by one exposing his life to peril, as is the case with performing jihad or in self-defense, death will claim the lives of a number of Mujtahids. Allah ordered His prophets and messengers who approached it determined to be martyred, and many of them were quite happy to do so.
A number of prophets were killed in the line of their duty; they never flinched nor relented till their holy souls
departed from their bodies. A group from among the Israelites sought to worship their Lord by putting an end to their lives; He, the Great and the Almighty, said,
“So repent to your Creator and kill your own selves”. (Qur’an, Sura al-Baqara, 2:54).(1)
To read this verse as is [rather than in its context] will only take it out of our discussion of the topic of revelation: to warn against an imminent danger. It succeeded a verse dealing with transgression during the months regarded by the Muslims as sacred. Allah Almighty says,
“The sacred month for the sacred month and all sacred things are (under the law of) retaliation; whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury that he has inflicted on you, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and keep in mind that Allah is with those who guard (themselves against evil)” (Qur’an, Sura al-Baqara, 2:194).
The prohibition of putting someone’s life in jeopardy becomes [in such a context] dependent on the polytheists attacking the Muslims during the sacred months, and when the Muslims did not have enough force to fight them back.
Taking the stand of a general prohibition of any life-threatening situation becomes a rationalizing cause that cannot be subjected to a particular situation but a specific injunction relevant to the case of the lack of a cause stronger than that of simply facing a danger. When the necessary cause is present, no injunction interferes to prohibit it, such as in
the case of defending Islam.
The most Praised and Exalted One praises the believers who march to their death and struggle to promote the divine cause saying,
“Allah has bartered with the believers: their lives and wealth for Paradise; they fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and get killed.”(Qur’an, Sura at-Tawbah, 9:111).
He also says,
“Do not reckon those who are killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Nay! They are alive with their Lord receiving their sustenance.” (Qur’an, Sura Al-e-‘Imran, 3:169).
He also says,
“Among the people is one who sells his life seeking the Pleasure of Allah” (Qur’an, Sura al-Baqara, 2:207).
Thus did the Messenger of Allah (S) declare to the members of his nation when he provided them with his valuable instructions saying, “The best of martyrs is Hamzah Ibn Abu Talib and a man who spoke a word of truth to an oppressive ruler because of which he [the ruler] killed him.”(1)
Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani is not far off from following such instructions when he sees no harm in a man assaulting a thousand of his foes and who either comes out safely or is killed in the process.
Then he says, “There is no harm in one losing his life, or is hurt, if his assault at a thousand foes strikes fear in the latter or causes them to be in disarray.” His reasoning is that such an assault is better than any harm inflicted because it serves the interest of the Muslims.(2)
Ibn al-’Arabi, the Malikite scholar,
says, “Some scholars permit a man assault a huge army seeking martyrdom, and such an action is not regarded by them as jeopardizing one's life and exposing it to perdition because Allah, the most Exalted One, says,
‘And among men is he who barters his life for the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is Affectionate to the servants’ (Qur’an, Sura al-Baqara, 2:207),
especially if the motive behind the assault enhances the morale of the Muslims upon seeing one of them facing thousands.”(1)
Allah, Glory to Him, has specifically allotted certain injunctions to those who are the custodians of his legislation and His vicegerents over the nation. Most of such injunctions cannot be realized by people's aspirations, nor can they be comprehended by their reason. Among them is enjoining them to sacrifice themselves for the sake of achieving His Pleasure, Glorified and Exalted is He, and to spend all wealth, influence, and possessions in the process.
So you find them once in the depth of dungeons, or exiled, or deported, all the time suffering from apprehension and hardship, remaining against their wish silent as they are being verbally abused. This continued till they met their death.
What savoured all of this for them was their being informed beforehand by their greatest grandfather (S), who was told by divine inspiration, of the merits and the interests whereby the Islamic nation is served. Had they not been thus determined to offer such sacrifices, the creed would have been terribly distorted and misguidance would have crept
They found themselves submitting to that with which Allah had acquainted them of His secrets. He acquainted them with the great significance with Him, the most Exalted and Praised One that He is, despite the various degrees of sacrifice they had to offer.
The Almighty ordered some of them to withhold and not to fight or to be involved in jihad while ordering others to accept to be killed and yet others to accept to be poisoned. The mystery in such variation of obligation was due to what He, Glory to Him, saw of the interests according to their relevant time.
Their bracing their death and taking poison was never due to their ignorance of what an oppressive ruler was doing to them. Rather, they were quite sure about it. They knew of their killer and his method of killing, and even of the day and time, seeking submission to the Command of their Lord, the most Exalted One, and surrendering to the divine judgment in their regard.
They are, in so doing, only carrying out all the orders they had received from the Master, Praise to Him, be they obligations or recommendations. Reason determines that a slave must obey his master and not do anything forbidden without inquiring about the interest, or the lack thereof, that necessitated it. But if the Master is wise in everything He does, according to the verse saying,
“He is not asked about what He does while they are,” (Qur’an, Sura al-Anbiyah, 21:23).
obedience to Him
ought to be unconditional, without questioning the reasons behind His orders.
It is this suggested view that the critics from among renowned scholars have endorsed. If researchers keep themselves busy investigating the reasons why Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) did what put an end to their sacred lives, they will keep going right and left without actually coming out with what satisfies anyone simply because such researchers produced nothing but assumptions which do not agree with the basics or with what is most exemplary.
Traditions regarding Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) indicate that when they knew that their enemies were determined to put an end to them, or when the pain of their chains intensified, and it became obvious to them that their fate was delayed, they resorted to all possible means, including supplications which could not be rejected, or complaining to their grandfather the Prophet (S), requesting him to keep harm and calamities away from them.
Imam Abu Ja’far, al-Baqir (‘a), says, “If something distresses us and we were apprehensive of the authorities' mischief, we, Ahl al-Bayt, would say, ‘O King of everything! Bless Muhammad and his Household and do unto me such-and-such'”(1)
When al-Mansur became angry with Imam Abu ‘Abdullah, as-Sadiq (‘a), setting his mind to kill him, the Imam (‘a) supplicated to his Lord, the most Exalted One, pleading to Him to ease his hardship. By the grace of his supplication, the dark ominous clouds of an ill fate dissipated.
As soon as al-Mansur looked at as-Sadiq (‘a), he gladly stood up, demonstrating his
pleasure at seeing him, hugged and kissed him. After that incident, al-Mansur narrated the reason why he changed his mind. He said that the Messenger of Allah (S) appeared to him in a vision standing before him stretching his open hands, uncovering his arms, looking very angry as he shielded the Imam (‘a) from him; he said to al-Mansur,
“If you harm the father of ‘Abdullah (‘a), I will certainly annihilate you.” Al-Mansur had no choice except to forgive, respect and honour the sanctity of the Imamate. Then he dispatched the Imam (‘a) back to [his and] his grandfather's home town [Medina] surrounded with royal grandeur.(1)
When the confinement of Imam Musa son of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, peace be upon both of them, became quite prolonged, and the Imam was fed-up with the mistreatment meted to him, he pleaded to Allah Almighty to put an end to his suffering saying,
“O One Who releases the trees from the sand and the water, Who releases milk from between blood and secretion, Who releases the fetus from the womb and the embryo, Who releases fire from between iron and stone, Who releases the soul from between the bowels and the intestines, do release me from Harun's grip.”(2)
By the grace of this supplication, he was, indeed, released from the darkness of the dungeon and from the pain of the chains.
When Harun al-Rashid offered him poisoned dates to eat, the Imam (‘a) selected those that were not poisoned and ate them then gave the
poisoned ones to al-Rashid's dog that died.(1) He had no intention to cause the dog's death except to let the tyrant al-Rashid know that he was fully aware of his intention to kill him at a time when his demise was not yet opportune.
But when it was time for the Imam (‘a) to die, and Allah called upon him to return to Him, he ate the poisoned dates which al-Rashid had given him knowing that they were, indeed, poisoned. Having eaten them, he raised his hands and supplicated saying, “Lord! You know that had I eaten such dates before today, I would have put an end to my life!” So he ate of them and his fate had its way.(2)
Upon such a basis, Imam Abul-Hasan, ‘Ali al-Hadi (‘a), ordered Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari to send a man to a most sacred spot of al-Ha'ir to supplicate to Allah to heal him, saying that Allah Almighty loved to be invoked there.(3)
His objective was to point out that nothing happens in the system of the universe except what naturally flows, and except natural laws. Or he may have intended to attract our attention to the benefits of supplicating to Allah when calamities overtake one of His servants and when catastrophes surround him.
What supports this view is that al-Rabi’, slave of al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi, learned by heart the supplication composed by Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) when he met with al-Mansur who had angrily decided to annihilate him. Al-Rabi’ saw with his own eyes how
al-Mansur met the Imam (‘a) with utmost respect instead of carrying out his evil intention against him.(1)
It is upon the same basis that the chosen one, Imam al-Hasan (‘a) son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), used to sometimes seek healing from his grandfather's soil, and sometimes he would follow the instructions of his physician, and yet some other times he would follow the advice of those who had undergone a similar experience(2) despite his knowledge that his sickness was not fatal and that he knew when such fate would come to pass.
But he wanted to let people know that combatting ailments is done through ordinary indispensable means so that such means may be implemented. But when it was time for him to depart, he did not do any of that out of his submission to destiny. This happened when Ja’da daughter of al-Ash’ath offered him poisoned sour milk. It was very hot, and al-Hasan (‘a) was fasting.(3)
He raised his hands to the sky and supplicated saying, “We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return. Praise to Allah for the meeting with Muhammad, the Master of all Messengers, with my father the master of all wasis, with my mother the Head of all women of the world, with my uncle Ja’far who flies in Paradise, with al-Hamzah, the Master of Martyrs.”(4)
Having said so, he drank the sour milk then said to her, “He [Mu’awiyah, his assassin] fooled you and made fun of you. Allah will
expose both you and him to shame.”(1)
As the Imam spoke those words, the woman shook like a palm leaf braving a storm.
Imam al-Riďa (‘a) had informed his companions that he would be assassinated by al-Ma’mun, and that they had to be patient till then.(2) Imam Abu Ja’far, al-Jawad (‘a), said to Isma’il Ibn Mahran, when he saw that the latter was upset upon al-Ma’mun ordering the Imam (‘a) to meet with him, “He [al-Ma’mun] was never my friend, but I will return from this trip.”
But when he ordered him to meet with him again, the Imam (‘a), said to Isma’il Ibn Mahran, “In this meeting will I have to face my death,” ordering him to take orders from his successor Imam al-Hadi (‘a), his son, who became the nation's Imam following the assassination of his father.(3)
So when Umm al-Fadl [daughter of al-Ma’mun, who also was the Imam’s wife] gave him a poisoned handkerchief, he did not hesitate to use it, thus submitting to destiny and obeying the order of his Master, all Praise is due to Him. Yes, he only said the following words to her then: “Allah has afflicted you with infertility without a cure and with an affliction which you will never be able to hide.” She was instantly afflicted with an ailment in the most delicate of her five senses.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) had already provided the name of “Ibn Muljim” as that of his assassin; this is a fact regarding which no
two persons dispute with one another. When Ibn Muljim came to swear the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) then went away, the Imam (‘a) said, “Anyone who wishes to see the face of my killer should look at this one.”
“Why do you not kill him?,” the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), then the caliph, was asked. “How strange,” he (‘a) answered, “that you should suggest I must kill the one who shall kill me!”(1)
He meant that that man killing him was an already determined destiny and an unavoidable fate, and that his being killed by Ibn Muljim was an irreversible divine decision; so, how could he contradict the divine will and undo what is destined to happen?
It is to this meaning that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), refers when he once said to Uqbah al-Asadi: “Had the Imams (peace be upon them) persisted in their supplication to Allah to annihilate all the tyrants in the world, He would have responded favourably to their pleas, and it would have been easier for Him than a string of beads which someone cuts through, but we do not want anything except what Allah wants.”(2)
Through these straightforward proofs, the veil wrapping the truth is uncovered; therefore, facts appear most gloriously and place themselves before the brilliant researcher surrounded with a halo of truth and conviction. He, therefore, becomes convinced that the Imams of guidance were familiar with how fate fared and what imminent destiny was, the one which
could not be avoided and whereby it afflicted them with catastrophes.
This is so due to the fact that the Great Master, Glory to Him, welcomed their pleas and acquainted them with secrets and mysteries, be they good or bad. Such abundant knowledge never parted from them but was granted to them first from the One Who initiated existence in the first place, Great are His signs, and second from the Messenger of Allah (S) who also acquainted them with it, and third due to their being informed by the revealed divine tablet sent down upon their grandfather (S).
Allah Almighty surely granted them a lofty status and an immortal honour that they could not have achieved except through martyrdom and the annihilation of their sacred souls. It is for this reason that they sacrificed their precious lives in submission to the Commands of Allah Almighty and to serve the realistic interests that no humans could realize and whose particulars are not known except to the One Who knows the unknown.
We do not have to know the advantages or disadvantages in all the legislative obligations; rather, reason obligates us to obey the Great Master, Exalted is His Status, whenever He bids or forbids.
I am amazed at those who listen to the authentic traditions and willingly submit to the fact that the Imams from among the Progeny of Muhammad (S) knew what was and what will be, and with them was the knowledge of fate and the calamities, yet they
are unfamiliar with the light of many traditions which clearly state that whatever those Imams said or did not say, stood or sat, was due to an order which they had received from Allah, Praise to Him, conveyed through His trustworthy Messenger of divine revelation, and that nothing small or big hid from their knowledge, nor were they ignorant of anything of it, not even the moment of their death What testifies to this fact is the following statement by Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a):
“I am amazed at people who accept us as their masters, making us their Imams, and describing obeying us as mandatory as obeying the Messenger of Allah (S), yet they violate their argument and indict themselves with a weakness in their conviction. So they belittle our rights and fault those whom Allah had given the proof of the uprightness of recognizing us and submitting to our commands.
I wonder why they should not adopt a contrary stand. Have you seen how Allah, the most Exalted One, mandated His servants to obey His friends without acquainting the latter with what happens in the heavens, depriving them of having access to the knowledge of what they should endure, of what helps their creed stand on firm grounds?”
Hamran said to him, “O son of the Messenger of Allah! What is your view of the consequences of the stands taken by the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), how al-Hasan and al-Husayn (‘a) revolted and how much they had to
suffer at the hands of the tyrants who subdued them, killed and vanquished them?” Abu Ja’far (‘a) said to him,
“O Hamran! Allah, Praised and Exalted is He, willed that all of that should happen to them. He decreed and predestined it out of His own will, then He let it happen. Due to being already informed by the Messenger of Allah (S), ‘Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn (‘a) took their stands. Due to the same knowledge, some of us remained silent.
Had they wished Allah Almighty, earnestly pleading to Him to remove the authority of the tyrants, it would have been faster than a string of beads which someone cuts through. What afflicted them was not due to any sin which they had committed, nor to any transgression whereby they disobeyed Allah; rather, it was for the achievement of a certain status and favour with Allah which He wanted them to achieve; so, do not permit yourself to be misled, O Hamran!”(1)
It is through the rays of this sacred tradition that we clarify obscure mysteries and divine wisdom that Allah bestowed upon certain custodians of His wali, thus granting them distinctions over all other human beings. Among such distinctions are the following:
A) Their knowledge of everything, and the fact that the knowledge from the heavens never ceased reaching them, the knowledge that contained all subjects barring none.
B) The perils to which they were exposed, and the oppression to which the leaders of oppression exposed them, were due to reasons not known
except by the Omnipotent Almighty.
C) Their waging wars, their struggle, and their martyrdom while defending the divine Message, as well as their silence towards what the leaders of misguidance commit, their witnessing how the nation goes to extremes in its oppression, and their doing that which cause putting an end to their sacred lives in obedience to the commands of their Lord relevant to them, all demonstrate their willingness to submit to His will without any hesitation at all; they willingly do so, just as willingly as others carry out their obligations.
D) Succumbing to destiny and sure death and reluctance to plead to the Exalted Creator to remove their causes was done so that they might win martyrdom which is the most honourable form of death in order to reach a lofty status and a high station which cannot be achieved except through this type of death
It is through providing the same explanation that Abul-Hasan, Imam al-Riďa (‘a), answered those who asked him about the reason why the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) exposed himself to being killed while knowing the exact hour of his death and the name of his killer. He (‘a), said, “All of that did, indeed, take place, but he chose that night to let fate have its way.”(1)
This and similar statements lead us to conclude that the reason why members of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) walked to their death willingly is that they did so in obedience to their Lord in order to carry out the
obligations relevant specifically to them; so, there is no shortcoming in their knowledge, nor can what caused their death be seen as bringing perdition to themselves or be rejected by reason. It is also the view upheld by the most renowned Shi’a scholars.
Shaikh al-Mufid, for example, is quoted in al-Ku’bari's Masa'il saying,
“We have no problem accepting the fact that an Imam may be informed in detail of what takes place and of distinguishing one thing from another, and such knowledge is conveyed by Allah Almighty. Likewise, we do not have any problem seeing how the Commander of the Faithful persevered till reaching martyrdom and surrendering to be killed, thus reaching a degree so high that nobody can reach in any other way.
He, in so doing, demonstrates his obedience to his Lord in a way none else could have. Nor can the Commander of the Faithful be described as having brought perdition upon himself or assisted others to his own detriment in a way which reason does not condone. Nor should such an action be understood by those who objected to his doing so.
We also do not have any objection to al-Husayn (‘a) being fully aware of the place where water could be found, and that it was as close to him as the distance of one yard; so, had he dug, he would have found water.
His reluctance to dig cannot be interpreted as assisting fate against his own life by abandoning seeking water where it is
inaccessible to him. Reason does not see that as being far-fetched, nor as being ugly. So is the case with al-Hasan (‘a) being fully informed of the outcome of seeking reconciliation with Mu’awiyah: He had already known about it, and it was quite obvious.
But he, by doing so, postponed his being murdered, putting off the time when his followers would surrender to Mu’awiyah. That was a good reason for his survival till it was time for him to go, and it was good for the survival of many of his Shi’as and family members. An avoidance of a greater harm to the creed from it could have actually otherwise taken place. He (‘a), was fully aware of what he did; Allah Almighty had ordered him to seek obedience to Him in so doing.”
The great scholar, al-Hilli, was asked once about the reason why the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) exposed himself to being murdered. He said that “It was quite possible that he had been informed of his being killed in a particular night and place, and he was required to do what we are not; so, it was quite possible that his acceptance of death for the sake of Allah was mandatory, just as mandatory as a person waging jihad, even when such a mujtahid knew that it would in the end cause him to be killed.” (1)
The great mentor, Shaikh Yousuf al-Bahrani, says,
“Their acceptance of tragedy, their being killed by the sword or by poison, and their
acceptance of the affliction to which they are exposed at the hands of their oppressive foes, despite their knowledge of it and ability to avoid it, is due to their knowledge that it would cause the most Praised and Exalted One to be pleased with them, and that it was chosen for them by Him and was mandated upon them so that they would be closer to His holy Self; so, it is not of the type that causes one to harm himself with his own hands and which is prohibited by the verses of the Holy Qur’an, that was something prohibited by the One Who brought the Shari’a, a clear prohibition.
This, contrariwise, is done with the knowledge of His being pleased with it and His having decreed it. It is the opposite of the first. But they may endure something before their predestined end, so it does not put an end to their lives, nor does it supersede their fate.
Such is a danger against which they may not openly take precautions, or they may do so privately, or they may plead to Allah to remove it from them since they knew that it was not intended by Allah, the Praised One, to finish them, nor was it to bring about their fate. In short, they, peace be upon them, coped with fate and destiny according to the extent of their knowledge of both and of what the Vanquisher had chosen for them to do.”(1)
Such is the view
also of al-Majlisi, the great scholar, al-Karkhi, the critic, and al-Hasan Ibn Sulayman al-Hilli, one of the students of the First Martyr, as well as of many others.
What we have stated clarifies that reason; the Shari’a condones one's walking to his death when doing so serves a common interest greater than that of his own life, such as the continuity of the creed or of the Shari’a, or to bring to life a certain fact, an objective which cannot be realized in any other way, such as the case with regard to al-Husayn (‘a) taking such an amazing stand, thus reciting to the multitude a white tablet which generations and epochs have been reciting ever since.
Through his holy uprising, Imam Husayn (‘a) acquainted present and future nations with what the Umayyads did and with who discarded and violated the sacred laws of the Shari’a. Nations have learned lessons from the courage demonstrated by the most oppressed one (‘a), that they should welcome death with open arms, that they should sacrifice their all in order to support the call propagated by Muhammad (S) and learn from it lofty lessons.
They learned how to persist in defending their principles, and to sacrifice everything precious in order to liberate themselves from the claws of oppression.
Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani rejects the notion that it is despondency that causes one to attack a thousand men knowing that he has no chance of survival or of defeating the enemy by so doing, saying that
such an action is not suicide because there is a benefit in it for the Muslims: it strengthens their determination and provides them with a shot in the arm that rejuvenates their energy and determination to defend their principles and to die in dignity.(1)
Abu Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a), by the same token, surpasses everyone else in doing so when he defied the large multitude that had sunk in falsehood. He, it is true, caused the death of his holy self as well as that of pure ones from among his family and followers.
He exposed the offspring of the Messenger of Allah (S) to plundering and captivity, yet he inscribed upon the face of time with words of noor the truth about his uprising and the falsehood of all the allegations propagated by his foe that had deviated from the canons of truth and became immersed in oppression.
He is, therefore, the true victor, and whoever challenged him drowned in the sea of misguidance and was one who violated the Islamic laws drawn by the one who conveyed the Divine Message (S).
I truly wonder about one who says that al-Husayn (‘a) was counting on the support of the people of Kufa. Such an individual has surely missed the mark. Even if we surrender and say that al-Husayn (‘a) did not have a general knowledge of what was, what is, and what will be, how could he have not been informed by his grandfather (S) and his wali, his own father, of the
events that would happen to him, and that he would be killed in the land of Karbala’ after being denied access to water, accompanied by his kinsfolk and followers and would all face a sure death?
Is he not the one who informed Umm Salamah of his own martyrdom when she expressed to him apprehension of his trip?
The reason for it is that the truthful and the trustworthy one, who never said anything out of his own inclination (S), had already informed him of his being killed in the land of Karbala’ after being prohibited from drinking water.
Among what al-Husayn (‘a) had said to her was: “I know the day on which I will be killed and the time when I will be killed. And I know who among my Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and followers will be killed. Do you think that you know what I do not? Do you think that I can escape death? If I do not die today, I will tomorrow.”
He said to his brother, ‘Umar al-Atraf, “My father had informed me that my resting place will neighbour that of his own. Do you think that you know what I do not?” To his brother Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya he said, “Allah has decreed to see me murdered and the women taken captive.”
To Ibn al-Zubayr he said, “Had I hidden in a hole in these ravines, they would have hunted me out and killed me.” To ‘Abdullah Ibn Ja’far he said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah
(S) in a vision ordering me to do something which I am going to do.”
When they were at a mountain pass, he said to his companions, “I see myself being killed, for I saw in a vision dogs mauling me, and the most wild among them was spotted.” When ‘Amr Ibn Lawthan suggested to him to stay away from Kufa becoming fully informed of its people's intentions, he (‘a) said, “I am not ignorant of their views, but the will of Allah is never over-ruled. As soon as they invite me, they will take out the blood clot in me.”
He made many such explicit and implicit statements in Medina, in Mecca, and on the way to Kufa, statements that you will read in this book in their entirety. They all testify that he (‘a), was fully aware of his being killed on the day with which he was familiar and in the land of Karbala’.
So, can anyone doubt this fact if he reads his sermon in Mecca when he wanted to travel from there to Iraq? In that sermon, he said, “I can see my limbs being cut to pieces by wild beasts in an area between al-Nawawees(1) and Karbala’, so they will fill with my body empty stomachs and starved pouches; there is no way to avert an event already decreed.”
All these answers to those who asked al-Husayn (‘a) to wait or to go somewhere else prove that the Master of Martyrs was knowledgeable of what was going
to happen to him, and that he knew the intentions of the people of Kufa. But it is a divine mystery that concerned only him, and so that his cries for help and support on the Day of Taff, before and after the war, would be an argument against that unlucky multitude of people.
Yet he did not inform each and every person who objected to his march to Kufa of all what he knew due to his knowledge that the facts were not to be revealed just to anyone. People vary in their capacity to absorb, and their goals vary, too. It is for this reason that the Imam (‘a) responded to each person according to his level of absorption, to his conditions, and to what his knowledge and mentality could bear.
The knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is laborious and inaccessible; it cannot be tolerated except by a messenger prophet, an angel near to Allah, or a believer whose heart Allah tested with conviction.
Al-Husayn (‘a) was convinced that he was a divinely supported conqueror due to the life his martyrdom would provide for the religion of the Messenger of Allah (S) and to the death of the innovations introduced therein. His martyrdom exposed the ugliness of the deeds committed by his foes.
It made the nation realize that Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), more than anyone else, deserved to be the caliphs. It is to this principle that his letter to Banu Hashim refers. In it, he said, “Whoever
among you decides to join us will be martyred, and whoever lags behind will miss victory.”(1)
The victory he referred to in this letter was the outcome of his uprising and sacrifices: these would undermine the foundations of misguidance and remove the thorns of falsehood from the path of the purified Shari’a and the establishment of justice and Tawhid, and that the nation was obligated to resist abominations.
This is the same meaning we can derive from reviewing a statement made by Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) to Ibrahim Ibn Talhah Ibn ‘Ubaydullah who had asked the Imam (‘a) upon his return to Medina, “Who won?” Said the Imam (‘a), “When it is time for the prayers, call the athan and the iqama, and it is then that you will know who the winner is.”(2)
Here, he is referring to achieving the objective for which the Master of Martyrs had sacrificed his sacred life and the failure of Yazid in his attempts to put out the noor of Allah Almighty and the efforts of the Messenger of Allah (S) which his father [Mu’awiyah] had aimed to foil by killing the shahada after it had become mandatory on the nation during the five known times [of prayers], a testimony for the Prophet of Islam.
The Islamic faith undermined the foundations of shirk and put an end to idol worship. It likewise became mandatory on the nation to bless the Prophet (S) and his pure Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) whenever the believers make the tashahhud. Any
blessing short of blessing his progeny is curtailed.(1)
Zainab, the wise lady, daughter of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), too, pointed out to this victory when she said to Yazid, “Plot your plots, exert your effort, and perfect your schemes, for by Allah you shall never be able to wipe our name out, nor will you ever kill our wali, nor will you ever attain our status, nor will you ever be able to wash away the shame and infamy of what you have committed.”
Anyone who contemplates upon the Taff event will clearly realize that the sacrifices offered in it are greater than those offered during the Battle of Badr even though the latter was the first military victory achieved in Islam.
The reason is that the Muslims had then braved death under the protection of the flag of the Prophet (S) and were supported by angels numbering three thousand strong, while the Prophet (S) kept filling their ears with his calls for victory, urging them to assault their enemy. The Muslims, hence, faced the tyrants from Quraish feeling confident of subduing them.
As regarding the Taff event, the suffering undergone during it was much more painful, and the agony was greater. The tides of death clamoured, the war uncovered its fangs, and Banu Umayyah surrounded the grandson of the Prophet (S) [and his tiny band] from all sides.
Oppression spurred it to action,
So it came mounting its tyranny;
Throngs that filled the earth,
Overwhelming every ravine and highway.
He trampled upon the beasts when
found no route to escape.
The birds did not leave their nests.
Yet the band that sided with the truth did not lose heart, meeting those dangers without counting on any support or expecting any help. All essential supplies were cut off from them. Even water, the most plentiful of anything, and which was free for all, was denied them. Women and children were terrified on account of the imminent peril. The children's cries because of their thirst filled everyone's ears.
Yet they faced mountains of steel with open arms and relentless determination. All what those pure souls were concerned about was fighting Banu Umayyah. They spilled their pure blood only in defense of their honour, something which was abandoned by others. The government of the descendants of Harb became like a dog licking its nose, so the surface of the earth was in the end cleansed of their shame.
One poet belonging to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) did well when he said:
Had not all sublime merits been grouped in us,
The Battle of Taff would have sufficed,
When we rose like lions while our foes
Like beasts of burden came to throng.
They came in seventy thousand strong;
So ask those among them who did survive:
If they met us though we brought only seventy.(1)
The Taff battle, then, is an Islamic victory over the jahiliyya that was revived through the actions of the Umayyads and their fellows who did not seek the shining light of Tawhid and Prophethood.
Al-Husayn (‘a) did not aim by his march to attain authority, power,
or recognition. Had this been his goal, he would have sought the means that would lead him to it, and he was the most knowledgeable man of such means.
He would not have informed those who were with him from among the natives of Mecca and Medina that he and those with him would be killed, and that his family would surrender to captivity. His army, as a result, abandoned him, and his might diminished. Yet his holy soul, as is the case with all free men, insisted on telling the truth rather than misleading anyone. He even tested them by granting them permission to leave him.
Those whose concern was accumulation, did in fact leave him, while the select few insisted on helping and supporting him; neither cowardice subdued them nor discouragement surfaced among them, for such is the doing of one who has lost hope from attaining his objective.
Those folks were convinced that they would win what they hoped to win as testified by their statements whereby they responded to al-Husayn (‘a) telling them on the eve of ‘Ashura that the situation had reached a critical point, and he even excused them from their oath of allegiance to him and released them.
They said, “Praise is due to Allah Who honours us with being killed on your side! Had this world remained forever, and had we, too, been immortalized, we would still have preferred to rise with you rather than remain therein.”
He (‘a), found them ready to sacrifice their
lives waging jihad with him and defending the sanctity of the Shari’a. He recited a line from their white tablet when he said, “I find my companions to be the most loyal, and my Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to be the most kind and the best in staying together.”(1)
I am surprised at the narrators and historians who transmitted a great deal and who charged those pure souls with what the face of humanity resents and is rejected by a truthful conscience. Some of them said, “Those people were shaken and their complexion kept changing colour whenever fighting intensified with the exception of al-Husayn (‘a) whose face shone like a full moon.”(2)
They said so after finding themselves unable to find fault with the honourable and dignified martyr. Finding no way to belittle him, they charged his companions and his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). This is only because of the hidden disease residing in the body of those who mixed poison with oil and passed it on to simpletons who regarded it as a fact. They, by so doing, distorted history, but any discreet critic can easily assess the nature and the schemes of such people.
More strange than such talk is Zajr Ibn Qays al-Ju’fi’s following statement to Yazid: “We surrounded them as they sought refuge with thickets and holes just as pigeons seek to hide from an eagle.”(3)
May gravel fill your mouth! As if you never witnessed that terrifying situation when they demonstrated courage and determination to defend the creed, so
much so that their stand on that day surpassed the Battle of Siffin wherein they fought on the side of the chosen one (‘a) as well as in other bloody wars which caused the people of Kufa to talk about nothing in their meetings except their courage.
Yes, those circumstances stunned you, so you do not know what you are saying, or time separated you from them, so you forgot what actually happened. But did you also forget the cries of the orphans, the wailing of the widows of Kufian families everywhere throughout Kufa on account of what those elite men had done with their swords to the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger (S)?
Your excuse is that you came out unscathed, so you took to distorting their stand, for which they will forever be appreciated, seeking to please Yazid, the product of wines.
Their avowed enemy, ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj, had described the truthfulness of their intentions, urging his men saying, “Do you know who you are fighting? You are fighting the land's knights, the people of vision, those who welcome death with open arms. None of you dares to come out to fight them except that they will kill him despite their very small number. By Allah! If you throw stones at them, you will be able to kill all of them.”(1)
A man who had participated in the Taff Battle on the side of Ibn Sa’d was asked once, “Woe unto you! Did you really kill the Progeny of
the Messenger of Allah?!” He answered by saying, “May I be stoned to death! Had you seen what we saw, you would have done what we had done.
We were assaulted by a group of men holding their swords and charging like fierce lions, crushing the cavalry right and left, throwing themselves in the jaws of death, accepting no security, desiring no wealth, nothing stopping them except either death or taking control of the government. Had we given them a chance, they would have annihilated our entire army; so, what do you expect us to do, may you lose your mother?”(1)
Ka’b Ibn Jabir, too, testified for them. Having killed Burayr, he was reprimanded by his wife who said to him, “Did you really assist in killing Fatima's son? Did you kill the master of qaris? You have done something monstrous. By Allah! I shall never speak one word to you.” He then composed the following lines in his answer to her statement:
Never did my eyes see their likes, in their time,
Nor before, among the people, since my youth;
None strikes with the sword in the battle
Better than one defending honour, protecting it.
Steadfast were they when swords and lances worked,
Even as they were defenseless.
They sought duels, had they only had their way.
Which one of them, anyway, was upset to the extent that he shook in fear?! Was it Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn who put his hand on Husayn's shoulder and said the following lines seeking his permission to fight:
Come forth, may you be guided!
you are the guide who is rightly guided:
Today shall I meet your grandfather the Prophet...?
Or was it Ibn ‘Awsajah who advised Habib Ibn Muzahir to support al-Husayn (‘a) even as he was drawing his last breath, as if he was not satisfied with sacrificing his life and with all the trials and tribulations he underwent?
Or was it Abu Thumama al-Sa’idi who, seeking to please his Lord, the most Exalted One, was not concerned about calamities, pain, or anything except the prayers whose time was approaching?
Or was it Ibn Shibib al-Shakiri who laid down all his protective gear to entice someone to kill him so that he would win the honour of martyrdom even as courageous heroes well known for their bravery take pains in covering their bodies with all protective coverings so that death may not reach them?
Or was it John who was excused [because of his age] by al-Husayn (‘a) from having to fight, so he fell down to kiss the Imam's feet, tearfully begging and pleading to him saying, “My colour is black, my descent is lowly, my smell is bad, so breathe upon me with the breath of Paradise so that my colour will be whitened, and my descent will be honourable, and my smell will be good”?
If we think about the statement of Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a) wherein he said, “The companions of my grandfather al-Husayn (‘a) did not feel the pain of iron,”(1) the steadfastness of those righteous men will become evident to us,
and that they were not mindful of the pain and of the wounds which they received due to their attachment to their goal and to their eagerness to meet the Chosen One (S).
Nobody finds this statement unusual except one who does not know how someone in love feels, and how, when such a lover's feelings are directed towards the person he loves, he does not feel any fatigue or exhaustion. Historians tell us that “Kathir ‘Azza,”(1) the poet, was once in his tent peeling arrows when ‘Azza entered. The moment he saw her, he was in such awe that he kept peeling his fingers and kept bleeding without feeling any pain.(2)
Narrators say that a young man from the Ansar came face to face with a woman, and he very much liked her. He watched her as she entered an alley as he chased her. He did not see a piece of glass etched in a wall, so his face was wounded but he did not feel the pain at all. When he could not see that woman any longer, he noticed that blood was running over his clothes and chest, so he went to the Messenger of Allah (S) and narrated to him what had happened to him. It was then that the following verse was revealed:(3)
Tell the believing men that they should cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do.(Qur’an, Sura an-Nur, 24:30)
of Allah (S) is quoted as saying that a martyr killed for the Divine Cause does not feel the pain of killing except as a pinch. (1)
Rushayd al-Hajari(2) was called to Yazid's court where the latter asked him about what he had been informed by the Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali (‘a). He said, “Yes, I came to visit him one day, and many of his companions were present.
He was in an orchard. He ordered dates to be brought to him from a date tree. ‘Are these dates good, O Commander of the Faithful?,' I asked him. He (‘a), informed me that the adopted bastard (da’iyy), ‘Ubaydullah [Ibn Ziyad], would force me to dissociate myself from him (from ‘Ali ) or cut off my hands, legs and tongue, then he would crucify me on the trunk of this same date tree. I asked him, ‘Will my ultimate destination be Paradise?' He (‘a) said, ‘You are with me in the life of this world as well as in the life hereafter.' I said, ‘Then I shall never, by Allah, dissociate myself from you.'”
Rushayd used to go to that date-tree quite often during daytime and water it. He used to say the following to it as he watered it: “For you have I been nourished, and for me have you been grown!” It was not long before [‘Ubaydullah] Ibn Ziyad became the wali of Kufa, so he called him in and asked him about what the Commander of the Faithful (‘a)
had informed him. He said, “My friend told me that you would require me to dissociate myself from him, yet I would not do so, and that you would then cut off my hands, legs and tongue.”
Ibn Ziyad said, “In this case, I shall prove him a liar.” He ordered to have his hands and legs cut off and to spare his tongue. Then Rushayd was taken back to his family where people surrounded him. He kept telling them what he had learned from the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) of the knowledge of what fate has in store for men and the trials and tribulations they would have to endure as well as the distinction Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) enjoyed over all other humans. Then he said, “O people! Ask me!
These folks [meaning Ibn Ziyad's people] have one requirement in my regard which they have not yet carried out.” A man hurried to Ibn Ziyad and said, “What have you done?! You cut off his hands and legs yet he tells people many serious matters!” Ibn Ziyad, therefore, ordered Rushayd's tongue to be cut off. The man died the same night. On the next day, his corpse was crucified(1) on the door of ‘Amr Ibn Hurayth's house.(2)
Qanwa, his daughter, says, “I asked my father about the pain he was suffering. He said to me, ‘Daughter! I do not have any pain except like one feeling the pressure of people in a stampede.'”(3) Rushayd al-Hajari benefitted from keeping
company with the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) who taught him the knowledge of fatal events and of imminent calamities.(1) He used to narrate what he was going through, so the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) named him “Rashid,” rightly guided.(2)
Such condition enlightens anyone who carefully discerns it with the conviction that anyone who directs all his feelings towards the Lord, Praise to Him, and once the Divine Attributes are manifested to him, he sees what eternal bliss awaits him as a reward for promoting the creed, and he will not feel the pain of his wounds.
It also underscores what we have stated about a lover becoming unmindful of his pain once he sees the loved one just as the women [referred to in Surat Yousuf] did not feel the pain of cutting their fingers off at merely seeing the beauty of the truthful one, Yousuf (‘a), as the Almighty tells us:
“So when they saw him, they deemed him great and cut their hands and said: Far it is from Allah! This is not a human; this is a glorious angel” (Qur’an, Sura Yusuf, 12:31).
Since those women(3) did not feel the pain of their wounds, it is not strange to find al-Husayn's companions, who were the world’s cream of the crop, did not feel the pain of iron as a result of their love for the manifestations of divine beauty, and due to the eagerness of their souls to reach the ultimate end of sanctity after being electrified
by their loyalty for the Master of Martyrs (‘a).
My father do I sacrifice for countenances that
In Karbala’ shook hands with shields,
Countenances that light up with hope
Whenever the world frowns and drips of liberality.
They glow under the darkness of clamour
Like lanterns bright, stealing the sight.
They regarded their lives as cheap in defending
The son of the Prophet's daughter,
Lives that eagerly anticipate with Allah a union.
So they were spent while from
Their sides dignity forever emits fragrance.
No water did they taste except
From the heart's blood the wounds choked in pain
Of their blood they would have drunk
Only if it could their thirst quench
Stripped were they, so they, instead of the fabric
Of the earth did they weave shrouds of wind.(1)
The sacred Shari’a requires people to rise in order to close the door of abomination and safeguard everyone against corruption, obliging the nation to do what all nations do: repel the oppression of oppressors who rebel against an Imam chosen to lead the nation after his having invited them to renounce their resistance to what is right, and to refer to the Greatest Legislator, Praise and Exaltation to Him, Who says the following:
“If two groups among the believers fight, reconcile them, but if one of them transgresses over the other, then kill the one that oppresses till it returns to [accepting] Allah's Commandment”. (Qur’an, Sura al-Hujurat, 49:9)
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) rose during his caliphate to defend the sanctity of the Shari’a and to attract the nation's attention to wake up from its slumber
of ignorance. It was mandatory on people to obey him because he was the rightful Imam obedience to whom was mandatory. The majority of the Muslims recognized and swore the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a).
They decided that fighting those who rebelled against him was the right thing to do as testified by their statements which are recorded in their books, statements which serve as testimonials to their call, a call supported by reason and documented facts.
[Imam] Abu Hanifa, for example, says, “Whenever [Imam] ‘Ali fought anyone, right was on his side. Had ‘Ali (‘a) not fought them, nobody among the Muslims would have learned how to deal with them!
There is no doubt, moreover, that ‘Ali (‘a) fought Talhah [Ibn ‘Abdullah] and al-Zubayr [Ibn al-’Awwam] after the latter had sworn the oath of allegiance then reneged therefrom. And during the Battle of the Camel, ‘Ali (‘a) dealt with them with equity, the most learned man among the Muslims that he was, so it became a Sunnah to fight the people who promote oppression.”(1)
His student, Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (who died in 187 A.H/803 A.D.), followed in his footsteps. Said he, “Had not ‘Ali (‘a) fought Mu’awiyah because of his oppression, we would not have been guided to fighting those who oppress.”(2)
Sufyan al-Thawri has said, “Whenever ‘Ali (‘a) fought anyone, he was on the right track versus the other.”(3)
Imam al-Shafi’i has said, “Silence with regard to those who were killed
during the Battle of Siffin is commendable, although ‘Ali (‘a) was more right than anyone whom he fought.”(1)
Abu Bakr, Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali al-Razi al-Jassas (who died in 370 A.H/981 A.D.), has said, “‘Ali was right in fighting the oppressive gang. Nobody maintains a contrary view. He was accompanied by many senior Sahabis, those who participated in the Battle of Badr, as well as by those who appreciated their status.”(2)
Abu Bakr Ibn al-’Arabi, the judge, who died in 546 A.H/1152 A.D., has said, “‘Ali was the Imam because they all regarded him as such, and he could not have abandoned people because he was the most worthy among them of receiving the oath of allegiance. He accepted such an oath out of his concern lest some in the nation should be killed due to chaos and disorder and even the distortion of the creed and the demise of Islam as a religion.”
The people of Syria asked him to seek revenge on those responsible for ‘Uthman's murder, so he (‘a) said to them, “First of all, you should swear the oath of allegiance as others have, then you can ask for justice; it is only then that you will achieve justice.” ‘Ali (‘a) was the most wise among them in his view and speech. Had he pursued those killers, their tribes would have rallied behind them, thus igniting a third tribal war.
So he waited till law and order were established and the general public had sworn the oath of allegiance to
him. It is then that he directed his attention towards the court of justice to effect equity without discriminating between anyone in the nation and the other. There is no disagreement among the nation that a leader is justified in postponing effecting retribution if doing the opposite may cause dissension and disunity.
In the latter scenario, anyone who disobeyed ‘Ali (‘a) would be regarded as an oppressor killing whom is mandatory, so that justice will be served and reconciliation is achieved. His waging a war against the Syrians who refused to swear the oath of allegiance to him, as well as his having fought those who reneged from such an oath in the Battles of the Camel and al-Nahrawan, was justified.
It was the obligation of everyone to rally behind him and carry out his orders then make any demands. But since they all did not do so, they became oppressors like the ones referred to in the verse saying,
“...then kill the one that oppresses till it returns to [accepting] Allah's Commandment” (Qur’an, Sura al-Hujurat, 49:9).
Mu’awiyah scolded Sa’d Ibn Abu Waqqas(1) for not participating in fighting ‘Ali (‘a). Sa’d responded to him by saying that he, in fact, had only regretted his reluctance to fight al-fi'a al-baghiya (the oppressive gang), meaning Mu’awiyah and his followers.(2)
Abu Bakr, Muhammad al-Baqillani, who died in 403 A.H/1013 A.D., said the following after enumerating some of ‘Ali 's merits: “‘Ali (‘a) is qualified for the caliphate by only some of these merits and by less
than these virtues, and he deserves to be the Imam.
He is right in his views and in whatever he took charge of. Obedience to him, therefore, is mandatory due to his having received the oath of allegiance from the most respected dignitaries among the Muhajirun and the Ansar on the third day following ‘Uthman's assassination.
These insisted that only he was the most knowledgeable among the Sahaba, the most qualified, and the one most worthy of it. They pleaded to him in the Name of Allah Almighty to safeguard the rest of the nation and to protect Dar al-Hijra. They, therefore, swore the oath of allegiance to him before al-Zubayr and Talhah had arrived. Having seen everyone else swearing to him, and having found themselves obligated, al-Zubayr and Talhah, too, swore the oath of allegiance to him.
Had they preferred not to do so, they would have fallen in sin. Their saying to him, “We swore the oath of allegiance to you against our wish,”(1) however, does not harm the Imamate of ‘Ali (‘a), simply because the inauguration had already been completed.
Their asking him to kill ‘Uthman's murderers prior to swearing the oath of allegiance to him was a mistake because electing a man simply so that he would kill a group of men for killing one man is not right even if his ijtihad determined that that should be the case: he may later, according to the same ijtihad, decide to do the opposite.
Even if it is proven
that ‘Ali (‘a) permitted the killing of a number of men for having killed only one single person, the execution of all those who participated in killing ‘Uthman is not valid except after proving them guilty, and after the offspring of the murdered person present themselves at his court to demand retribution for their father's murder, and if the killing does not lead to as much chaos and disorder as that which followed ‘Uthman's murder, or even more so.
Postponing effecting retribution to its right time is better for the nation, and it avoids any worsening of the situation.(1)
Abu ‘Abdullah, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdullah, better known as Al-Hakim al-Naishapuri (d. 405 A.H/1015 A.D.), has said, “The narratives relevant to the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) receiving the oath of allegiance are all authentic according to the general consensus, and it is in reference to them that Khuzaymah Ibn Thabit delivered these poetic lines as he stood before the pulpit:
If fealty to ‘Ali we swear,
Hasan's father suffices us
Against the dissensions we fear:
The best of people we found him to be,
The most knowledgeable among the Quraish
Of the Book and the Sunnah is he.
None can surpass him among the Quraish
When he does ride and charge,
And all good is in him indeed,
Quraish do not match his word and deed.
Al-Thahabi collected such narratives in his book Talkhis al-Mustadrak without rebutting them.”(2) Then Al-Hakim goes on to cite ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Ibn al-Khattab] saying, “Nothing distresses me, in as far as the verse saying, ‘...then kill the one
that oppresses till it returns to [accepting] Allah's Commandment’ (Qur’an, Sura al-Hujurat, 49:9), except that I did not fight the oppressive gang as Allah Almighty had ordered me.”(1)
Al-Hakim al-Naishapuri quotes Abu Bakr, Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn Khuzaymah, saying that he is used to hear his mentors say, “We testify that all those who disputed with the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a) with regard to his caliphate were oppressors,” and so does Ibn Idris.(2)
Abu Mansur ‘Abdul-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d. 429 A.H/1038 A.D.) has said, “All the people of righteousness were unanimous in recognizing ‘Ali 's Imamate when he was singled out for it following ‘Uthman's murder, and that he was right and accurate in judgment when he fought the Battle of the Camel and Mu’awiyh's followers in the Battle of Siffin.”(3)
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali al-Shirazi al-Fayroozabadi (d. 476 A.H/1084 A.D.) has said, “If a group of Muslims dissents from the leading Imam, advocating his deposition according to its own way of thinking, or likewise stopped a due payment, thus becoming rebellious, the Imam ought to fight it in accordance with the verse saying, ‘...but if one of them transgresses over the other, then kill the one that oppresses till it returns to [accepting] Allah's Commandment’ (Qur’an, Sura al-Hujurat, 49:9).
Abu Bakr fought those who refused to pay the zakat, while ‘Ali (‘a) fought the people of Basra during the Battle of the Camel and fought Mu’awiyah at Siffin and the Kharijites at al-Nahrawan.”(4)
The gist is that ‘Ali
(‘a) was right in fighting those parties because he was the leader (the Imam) the oath of allegiance to whom was a must. Their rebellion against him, no matter for what reason, did not justify their actions.
Imam al-Haramain al-Juwaini (d. 478 A.H/1086 A.D.) says, “‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (a) was the rightful Imam when he took charge, whereas those who fought him were oppressors.”(1)
Ala’ ad-Din al-Kasani al-Hanafi (d. 587 A.H/1191 A.D.) has said,
“Our master, ‘Ali, fought the people of Harura at Nahrawan in the presence of the Sahabah in fulfillment of the prediction of the Messenger of Allah (S) to him wherein he said, “O ‘Ali ! You will be fought for implementing the Qur’an just as we fight in defense of its revelation.” His fight for the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an was his fighting the Kharijites.
This hadith proves that ‘Ali is our Imam and master because the Prophet (S) compared the fighting undertaken by ‘Ali in defense of implementing the Qur’an with that of his own fighting in defense of its revelation. The Messenger of Allah (S) was right in defending its revelation; therefore, our master ‘Ali was also right in fighting for its implementation. Had he not been a rightful Imam, he would not have been right in killing those folks because the call had included them due to their being in “dar al-salam” and to being Muslims.
Anyone whom he called to fight them was obligated to respond positively and not to lag behind so
long as he was able to do so because obedience to the Imam, which results in no disobedience to Allah, is an obligation, let alone obedience.
What is narrated about Abu Hanifa with regard to the subject of when dissension happens among the Muslims, he is of the view that a man should take to staying at home. Such a view is relevant to a particular time that is: When his religious leader does not call upon him to bear arms. But if he does, then obedience to him is obligatory as we have stated earlier.”(1)
Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (d. 677 A.H/1279 A.D.), a Shafi’i, has said, “‘Ali was on the right track in those wars. Most of the Sahaba and tabi’in, supported by all Muslim scholars, were of the view that during the time of dissension, support and assistance must be rendered to the right party against the oppressors according to the verse saying, ‘... so fight the one that oppresses,' which is the right thing to do.”(2)
Ibn Humam, the Hanafi (d. 681 A.H/1283 A.D.), has said, “‘Ali (‘a) was on the right track when he fought the Battle of the Camel and when he fought Mu’awiyah at Siffin. The Prophet (S) had said to ‘Ammar, ‘The oppressive party shall kill you,' and he was, indeed, killed by Mu’awiyah's followers, something which proves that they, in fact, were the oppressive party.
‘A’isha expressed her regret [at having fought ‘Ali during the Battle of the Camel] according to Abu ‘Amr
as he so records in his book Al-Isti’ab. She said once to ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, ‘O father of ‘Abdul-Rahman! What stopped you for prohibiting me from marching?' He said, ‘I saw a man who did so even before you,” meaning Ibn al-Zubayr. She then said, “Had you admonished me not to march, I would not have gone out.”(1)
Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 A.H/1328 A.D.) has said, “When ‘Uthman was killed and people swore the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a), who was then the most worthy of being the caliph and the best of the remaining Sahabah, the views were, nevertheless, diverse and the fire of dissension was lit.
There was no complete unity, nor could the caliph, nor those who were the best among the nation, realize all their plans for the goodness of the nation till the Haruri renegades [the people of Harura] rose to fight the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali (‘a) and those who supported him. In obedience to the Command of Allah Almighty and that of the Messenger of Allah (S), he killed them.
The Prophet (S) had said, ‘The renegade group must be killed [even] by the closest of both parties to righteousness.' ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a) and those with him were the ones who fought them. Based on the statement of the Prophet (S), ‘Ali and his followers are closer to the truth than Mu’awiyah and his party.”(2)
He has also said, “Any Shi’a group admits
that Mu’awiyah could never be compared with ‘Ali (‘a) in as far as the caliphate is concerned, and he could not be a caliph while ‘Ali (‘a), too, was the caliph. ‘Ali's feats, his being the foremost to accept Islam, his knowledge, piety, courage, and all his virtues were quite obvious and well known to everyone.
None among the ahl al-shura [those named by Abu Bakr as members of the advisory committee] remained except he and Sa’d. The latter had already abandoned such a subject, and ‘Uthman had already died; so, none remained except ‘Ali.”(1)
Al-Zayla’i (d. 762 A.H/1361 A.D.) has said, “Right was in the hand of ‘Ali (‘a) when his turn came [to lead the Muslims]. The proof is in the statement of the Prophet (S) to ‘Ammar: ‘The transgressing party shall kill you.' There is no contention that he [‘Ammar] was on ‘Ali's side when Mu’awiyah's followers killed him.
Then they were unanimous in regarding ‘Ali as being on the right track when he fought the fellows of the Camel, namely Talhah, al-Zubayr, ‘Ayisha, and those who supported them, as well as the fellows of Siffin, namely Mu’awiyah and his army.” He goes on to say, “When ‘Ali (‘a) became the caliph, while Mu’awiyah was in Syria, the latter said, ‘I shall not offer him anything, nor shall I swear the oath of allegiance to him nor visit him.'”(2)
Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751 A.H/1351 A.D.) has said, “During his time, ‘Ali was the foremost of the nation and the
very best, and there was none when he took charge better than him.”(1)
Abu ‘Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muflih, the Hanbali scholar (d. 763 A.H/1362 A.D.), has said, “‘Ali (‘a) was the closest to righteousness than Mu’awiyah and the most fair in fighting those who transgressed. There were those who sided with ‘Ali and those who refrained.”
Ibn Hubayrah depends on Ubayy's hadith to advocate that people should renounce taking to arms during dissension, meaning when ‘Uthman was killed. As regarding what happened thereafter, none among the Muslims supported the notion that anybody was excused for lagging behind without supporting ‘Ali (‘a). And when Sa’d, Ibn ‘Umar, Usamah, Muhammad Ibn Maslamah, Masruq, and al-Ahnaf did so, they all regretted it.
On his death bed, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, for example, said, “I am leaving this world and there is no bigger sigh in my heart than having been reluctant to support ‘Ali (‘a).” The same has been reported about Masruq and others because of such reluctance.(2) Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani (d. 852 A.H/1449 A.D.) has said, “Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib was on the right track when he fought those who waged against him the wars of the Camel, Siffin, and others.”(3)
Mahmud Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (d. 974 A.H/1567 A.D.) has said, “The people of the Camel and of Siffin charged ‘Ali (‘a) of collaborating with those who murdered ‘Uthman while he was innocent of it, and far he was from doing something like that.”(4)
He goes on to say, “A religious authority is bound to fight
those who transgress because the Sahabah have all conceded that this should be the case, and that he should not fight them before sending them a discreet, equitable, and trustworthy person to advise them and to inquire about their reasons for disobeying him in accordance with the incident when ‘Ali (‘a) sent Ibn ‘Abbas to the Kharijites at al-Nahrawan, thus causing some of them to return to his obedience.”(1)
The discussion between Ibn ‘Abbas and the Kharijites is detailed on p. 48 of Khasa’is Amir al-Mu’minin by al-Nasa'i.
Al-Shihab al-Khafaji (d. 1100 A.H/1689 A.D.) has said, “The Prophet's statement to ‘Ammar: ‘The transgressing party shall kill you,' and the fact that the supporters of Mu’awiyah killed him at Siffin because he was supporting ‘Ali (‘a), is a clear indication that the righteous caliph was ‘Ali (‘a), and that Mu’awiyah was wrong in following his own personal views.
A transgressor is one who unfairly declares his mutiny against his leading Imam. Another hadith by him (‘a) and his progeny, says, ‘If people dispute, the son of Sumayya will always be right,' and the son of Sumayya is ‘Ammar who sided with ‘Ali (‘a). This is what we owe Allah to say: ‘Ali, Allah glorified his countenance, was right and justified in not arresting those who participated in killing ‘Uthman.”(2)
Al-Shawkani (d. 1255 A.H/1840 A.D.) quotes a tradition of the Prophet, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny, narrated by Abu Sa’id [al-Khudri] wherein he says, “My nation shall split into two parties between
whom renegades will come out who should be killed by the closest party to righteousness.” He says, “This proves that ‘Ali (‘a) and his supporters were right, whereas Mu’awiyah and his followers were wrong.”(1)
Abul-Thana’ al-‘Alusi, the scholar of exegesis, has cited a number of Hanbali scholars advocating the necessity for killing those who transgress because ‘Ali (‘a) was too distracted, during his caliphate, with fighting the transgressors to be involved with jihad. This means that fighting transgressors is better than participating in jihad. Then he documents how ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Ibn al-Khattab] regretted his reluctance to side with ‘Ali in fighting the transgressing party. Al-‘Alusi did not rebut it.(2)
Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali has said,
“‘Ali did not violate the Sunnah when he dissociated himself from those who killed ‘Uthman. Those who participated in killing him belonged to most of the tribes, and they were very large in number. ‘Ali could not have faced them all by himself.
It was impossible for him to arrest them, or even to arrest some of them, since they supported him, even if he had known who they were. The incident took place against his wish, and it was not in his interest to enrage numerous tribes that supported him then.
‘Ali (‘a) used to swear by Allah that had the Umayyads required him to produce fifty truthful men from Banu Hashim to swear by Allah that he did not murder ‘Uthman, nor condoned his murder, he would have obliged.”(3)
The above are texts excerpted from Sunni scholars'
books testifying to the fact that ‘Ali (‘a) was more worthy of being the caliph than anyone else, and that whoever rebelled against him deserved to be fought till he returned to the right course. Such was the choice made by the best from among the Sahaba and the tabi’in. Among the latter was Uways al-Qarni who was a foot soldier during the Battle of Siffin.(1)
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar Ibn al-’As used to say, “I regretted nothing more than not fighting the transgressing party as Allah Almighty had commanded me to.” He used to narrate what the Prophet (S) used to say, that is, “Sumayya's son will be killed by the oppressive party,” and that the oppressive party was that of Mu’awiyah and his gang.
When he was asked about why he did not participate in the Battle of Siffin on ‘Ali's side, he produced an excuse which will not avail him on the Day of Judgment. Said he, “I never used a sword or a lance, but the Messenger of Allah (S) required me to obey my father, and I did.”(2)
This is nothing but falsehood and deception. How could he find it palatable to oppose the truth by thus misinterpreting a statement made by the Prophet (S)? Does the Shari’a permit interpreting the hadith as enjoining obedience to one's father if such obedience requires forsaking the obligations or committing what is prohibited? Of course not.
Obedience to the Imam who has received the oath of allegiance was mandatory on
all Muslims, and the umma then had no choice except to obey him and carry out his orders, and no obedience to one's father can take precedence over obedience to the Imam (‘a). The verse saying,
“And if they intimidate you so that you may associate with me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them” (Qur’an, Sura al’Ankabut, 29:8)
may be inclusive. The prohibited association referred to in this verse, therefore, may connote prohibiting forsaking obedience to Allah, Glory to Him. It implies prohibiting forsaking obedience to the Prophet (S) and to the Imam who has received the oath of allegiance from the Muslims. ‘Ayisha, thereupon, used to perform her prayers in full when she marched to Bara to fight ‘Ali (‘a) because to shorten the prayers, in her view, was done when one travels in obedience to Allah's Commandments.(1)
The sacred Shari’a has required the Imam of the nation to win his argument against anyone who rebelled against him and abandoned obedience to him by reminding him of Allah's incessant favours on His servants despite their rebellion and oppression.
Then he informs them that this vanishing life does not bring anyone who is immersed in his love for it except loss. He may do so by admonition and by citing Qur’anic verses in order to enlighten those whose desires blinded them, so that they may see the path of guidance and realize the shining truth.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) followed this plan of action which
Islam canonized during the first three days after his calling upon his companions not to transgress the commandments of the Shari’a and not to rush to fight so that the other party might be the transgressing one that fought the believers, hence the argument against it would be established as the one that started the aggression.(1)
He, peace of Allah be upon him and his infallible offspring, admonished the fellows of the Camel, Siffin, and al-Nahrawan a great deal so that nobody would have any excuse when the books of deeds are spread wide open and every argument of those called upon by him and who insist on disputing with him and in being stubborn is refuted. Those who were guided by Allah to conviction were enlightened by the light of his guidance, whereas those who strayed from the path of righteousness were not.
These are the guidelines that the father of ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a), followed on the Taff Day. He did not order his men to start the war despite the persistence of his foes in adhering to misguidance and in fighting him with all their might and means.
They, in fact, went as far as prohibiting him, his family and companions from drinking the water regarding which the one who brought the divine Shari’a, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, said, “All people have an equal right to water and (their animals to) pasture.”
Imam Husayn (‘a), by doing so, wanted to establish
his argument against his foes. He stood to address that multitude that had been immersed in misguidance in order to explain his argument. He first acquainted them with the loss of this vanishing world by anyone who threw himself in its lap; it would not bring him anything but disappointment.
Then he resorted to reminding them of his status with the Prophet of Islam (S), testifying to himself and to his brother al-Hasan (‘a) that they were the masters of the youths of Paradise, let alone the testimony to this fact given by the one who does not speak out of his own desires but was guided by the divine wahy: such a testimony is the criterion for distinguishing right from wrong.
Then he reminded them of the fact that had they had anything with him that belonged to them, he would have given it back to them. Finally, he raised a copy of the Holy Qur’an over his head and invited them to accept its arbitration.
When all these precious pieces of advice fell on deaf ears, and when it became quite clear to him that they insisted on their misguidance and stubbornness, opting to act against the commandments of Allah Almighty and His Messenger (S), he unveiled the curtain from the ‘Alawide pride according to which he grew up.
He removed the curtain from the feeling of disdain to anyone who refused to abide by the commandments of Allah and His Messenger (S). It is such disdain that he
and other offspring descending from ‘Ali (‘a) used to study day and night and round which their meetings revolved. It is then that he, peace of Allah be upon him, said,
The da’iyy and the son of the da’iyy required us to choose one of two: either to let his men draw their swords against us, or we accept humiliation and submission to his authority. It is far from us to accept humiliation; Allah rejects that we, His Messenger, or the faithful should ever submit to humiliation. These are [the fruit of] good and pure chambers, men of dignity and souls too proud to prefer obedience to a mean and lowly person over death in honour and in dignity. Let it be known that I shall fight with this family although our number is small, and despite the betrayal of those who promised to support us.
How could he to a lowly one his submission wield?
Only to Allah did he ever submit and yield:
Mightier than the shield is his will,
Before lances thirsty for blood, eager to kill,
To him will every hafiz refer at will,
To one big as the world and greater still,
One who insisted to live only in dignity,
To sacrifice and personify such struggle for eternity.(1)
Such are the commandments of the purified Shari’a, and such are its injunctions regarding inviting people to righteousness, and to rise to close the door against falsehood. Just as it mandated jihad against those who promote misguidance as well as the polytheists, it likewise exempted from such
jihad the children, the invalid, the blind, the elderly, the women, and the adults who did not obtain the permission of their parents to participate in jihad.
But the show of force at the Taff violated its greatest canon, permitting even what was not previously permitted in order to serve the interests and the mysteries that are beyond the reach of men's comprehension. Such was the most oppressed martyr (‘a), informed by his grandfather, the supreme saviour (S), and by his own father, the wasi (‘a).
Al-Husayn (‘a) did not bring about a new Sunnah in jihad; rather, it was no more than a divine lesson fixed by the most sacred tablet in the world of perfection, one limited to a particular circumstance and to a specific place, one received by Gabriel, the trusted archangel (‘a), who then conveyed to the one who was loved and chosen by Allah, namely Muhammad (S), the one who conveyed the divine message and who in turn entrusted it to his grandson the Master of Martyrs (‘a).
All the unusual events that took place during that bloody encounter, whose essence cannot be comprehended by men were things whereby the Master, Praise to Him, bestowed upon His wali and Hujjah, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a).
It is to these same traditions that the martyr of Kufa, Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil, adhered. He was, indeed, distinguished from all others by his knowledge, deeds, an abundance of wisdom and divine faculties that his position as deputy of the Imam, the Hujjah,
required.(1) He suffered from acute thirst to the extent that he was permitted to drink even what was najis.
Both Ibn ‘Aqil and the moon of the Hashemites [Abul-Fadl, al-’Abbas, Imam Husayn's brother] drank the same milk and graduated from the same school of Imamate and infallibility. They, therefore, earned a testimony from the Infallible Imams (‘a) in the sincerity of intention through their readiness to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the creed.
Such testimony qualified them to serve as role models in their good deeds. Just as Muslim did not taste water till he died of thirst, so was the case with the father of al-Fadl, al-’Abbas, who shook the ranks of the enemy till he finally had access to the water.
Knowing the extent of thirst of the Master of Martyrs and that of the Prophet's ladies and of the children who descended from Fatima (‘a), he did not see in the Shari’a, which he had learned from his father, the wasi, and from both of his brothers who were Imams whether they stood or sat(2), according to the Prophet's words, any provision for him to drink out of concern for the thirst of the Hujjah of his time even with a little thereof. But alas! Destiny stood between him and the achievement of his desire.
He did not taste of the Euphrates following his example,
Taking his water straight to the tent.
He found no provision in the creed to quench
His thirst while his brother was burning with thirst.
derives his deed from the Shari’a
And due to his unshaken conviction,
Like al-Husayn who controlled the water source
Just to be told that his tents were being looted,
So he threw water away, sensing the gravity
Of the situation, enthused with zeal,
So al-’Abbas followed his example as he
Breathed his last in honour, his zeal fiery.
Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a), rose with that small group of the elderly and the children, with infants and women, in contrast with those who were not apprehensive in regard to conscience or kinship, being determined to eradicate the Prophet's family and relatives.
But the line followed by the martyr of the Taff, the one whose extent cannot be realized, nor can the minds comprehend its deep meaning, acquainted the succeeding generations that came across this epic, the like of which history has never witnessed, with the deeds committed by those tyrants whose fathers did not accept Islam, when they pretended to have done so, except out of fear of Islam's sword.
Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) achieved the objective when the clouds of doubt were dispelled by the light of his shining revolution and the calls of his ladies, the calls that confused and upset the minds that became the subject of all meetings, of what those tyrants and their ancestors had committed of shame and infamy.
It is on such a straight path that the Master of Martyrs declared, in his precious, wise and far-sighted statement, permission to his family and companions to part with him for safety. The text the historians
narrate in this regard is his statement (‘a), to his family and companions on the eve of the ninth of Muharram saying,
“I know no companions better than mine nor family more righteous or kind or united than mine; so, may Allah reward all of you. I think tomorrow will be our last day in facing these folks. I am of the view that you should all set out for safety, you do not owe me anything, while the night is covering you with its covering. Ride it as you would a camel, and each one of you should take the hand of one of my family members. May Allah reward all of you with the best of His rewards; so, disperse under the cover of darkness and go back to your towns, for these people seek me, and if they get hold of me, they will not seek anyone else.”(1)
What a pithy statement, O Father of the Oppressed, and how noble your objective, O Master of Martyrs! How wise your statement and deeds, O soul of Prophethood!
Yes, this golden statement was etched in letters of noor on the forehead of time, that those righteous elite men, who were described by the Commander of the Fatihful (‘a) as the masters of martyrs, and that none ever reached their heights nor ever will(2), were the cream of the crop of all mankind and the elite of the cosmos.
We have been enlightened by such rays to realize their intention
to be determined in their firmness and sincerity to offer the holy sacrifice. In all of these, there are sublime lessons for all those who wish to follow in the footsteps of those honourable men to rise above loving this life and to die under the banner of dignity and not to submit to the oppressive authority, to either achieve the goal or attain martyrdom and eternal happiness.
Had it not been for that permission to desert issued by the custodian of the Shari’a and for those words that their pure souls permitted, no succeeding generation could have realized the extent of their knowledge, conviction, and variation of their faculties and ambition to the highest goals and firmness in upholding their principles with sincerity and insight.
The Master of Martyrs wanted by so doing to test their intentions. Testing is done by a wise person who knows what was and what will be, and it does not demean his knowledge and his being familiar with what is hidden since the goal is precious and the status is sublime. This is something to which we pointed out when we wanted to acquaint the reader with the gifts adorning al-Husayn’s followers and those of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).
And such a test should not surprise anyone especially since the Creator of all beings, the Almighty, from whose knowledge nothing small nor big escapes, ordered His friend Abraham to sacrifice his son Isma’il. Being knowledgeable of the extent of obedience to Him rendered by His messenger,
the Friend of Allah, Abraham, and of the firmness of His prophet, Ishamel, he did not require it except for a benefit known to the Lord of the Worlds though it is obscure from the comprehension of humans.
The incident of the bald, the leprous, and the blind also testifies that Allah Almighty wanted by granting them His blessings to make their story a lesson of wisdom for those who come across it and who find themselves bound to thank Him for His blessings, and that denying His blessings will lead to loss.(1)
Abu ‘Abdullah, Imam al-Husayn (‘a), wanted through this test to acquaint the next generations with the status attained by his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and companions, the status of honour, dignity, purity and submission to whatever pleases Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny.
To know the extent of any man of purity in the world, and to uphold the principle of obedience to the most pious person who most pleases the Master, the Almighty, does not become possible except by his statements supported by good deeds or by a testimony for him from someone familiar with his every movement.
Nobody is ignorant of the defects in the history books in our hands regarding many deeds of righteous men who exhaust all influence and possession in order to support the authentic Shari’a. Nor does history record any deeds undertaken by those elite ones, namely the martyrs of Karbala’, indicative of the holiness of
their conscience, the sincerity of their intentions, the purity of their souls..., better than that bloody scene.
Had it not been for those statements made by the companions of al-Husayn (‘a), and of his family, when he gave them permission to leave him for safety and to desert so that he would alone face those who surrounded him, we would not have come to know the differences in their levels of awareness and variations in their far-sighted views, nor their virtues which no human being can attain.
Knowledge is a light that Allah Almighty casts in the heart of whomsoever He chooses from among His servants in various degrees of intensity.
Muslim Ibn ‘Awsajah al-Asadi, for example, does not have anything on the pages of history to testify to his immortal deeds and good merits in anything more or less than a statement made by Shabth Ibn Rab’i that he invaded Azerbaijan on the side of the Muslims and killed six polytheists before Muslim cavalry troops came to his rescue.
What can the reader know from this statement other than the extent of his sure loyalty to the Prophet's caliphs and his not having changed as time and circumstances changed? But his statement to al-Husayn (‘a) in which he said,
“Are we the type of men who would abandon you? What excuse shall we produce before Allah Almighty for having thus fallen short of serving you? By Allah! I shall never leave you till I break my lance in their chests and
strike them with my sword as long as I can hold its handle, and even if I have no weapon to fight them with, I shall throw stones at them till I die with you.”
Such a statement informs us of the firmness of this man in upholding his principles at the last stage of life, and that if one is not concerned except about pleasing Allah Almighty and His Messenger (S), he is not concerned about any pain or bleeding. This statement is accompanied by actions when he faced the swords and the lances with his chest and neck.
Moreover, he was not satisfied with all of this till he commended Habib Ibn Muzahir, the man who benefitted from the science of fates and epics from the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), to support al-Husayn (‘a), and that he would not otherwise be excused by the Messenger of Allah (S) for having fallen short of carrying out his responsibility even when he was drawing his last breath His soul thus parted from his body as he maintained his creed and submission.(1)
He was followed in sincerity of loyalty and readiness to sacrifice by Sa’id Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Hanafi who said, “By Allah! We shall never abandon you till Allah knows that we safeguarded the absence of the Messenger of Allah (S) in your person.
By Allah! Had I known that I will be killed then brought back to life, then burnt alive, then my ashes strewn, and this is done to me
seventy times, I would still not abandon you till I meet death defending you. Why should I not do so? It is only one death followed by a bliss that lasts forever.”
He, therefore, defended Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) and admonished others to do likewise. He was not satisfied with all the bleeding wounds which he received when he assaulted the enemies of Allah Almighty in defense of al-Husayn (‘a), who was then performing the noon prayers on the battlefield, till he understood from the Father of the Oppressed that he had discharged his responsibility towards the Message and proven his faithfulness to what Allah had mandated on him, so he died feeling elated for having pleased the Almighty God.
Anything besides this is a shortcoming and a loss. Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) comforted him of attaining happiness through martyrdom and of the meeting with the Messenger of Allah (S) before him.
As soon as he had finished his speech, Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn al-Bajali stood up to recite for all future generations lofty teachings in promoting the creed that immortalized him. To al-Husayn (‘a) he said, “By Allah! I wish I had been killed then brought back to life then killed, and so on, for a thousand times, as long as my being killed protects you and protects these youths of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).”
There is no doubt in Allah accepting obedience from any of His servants if such obedience earns him victory on the Day of Eternity. But there is something even beyond that
of a more lofty objective: it is the obedience of the people of conviction who are not concerned, when they perform what they are obligated to perform, except to be closer to the Lord, Praise to Him, Who is the only One worthy of being worshipped.
Ibn al-Qayn is a bastion of conviction and pure faith, a man who recited for us in such a situation his far-sighted view, his true beliefs, and his noble goals: protecting the man who was appointed by Allah Almighty as the Imam and protecting the lives which were held dear by the Messenger of Allah (S) without aiming by worshipping Allah, through performing jihad against His enemies, except to earn the rewards of the hereafter for his endeavour on the Day when wages shall be granted for good deeds.
Rather, he aimed by performing this rite to protect the person who was charged with safeguarding the Message, the Hujjah of his time, citing the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Progeny.
“Husayn is of me, and I am of Husayn,”(1) says the Messenger of Allah (S). The one who brought us the Shari’a did not make this statement simply to inform the nation that the Taff Martyr was part of him (i.e. a member of his family), for such an interpretation is quite shallow and is not expected of the master of orators. Of course every offspring is part of his father and grandfather; so, there is no distinction for al-Husayn
Rather, he (S) intended for this golden statement to point out to the responsibility vested upon the Master of Martyrs in cementing Islam’s foundations, removing the thorns of falsehood from the path of the just Shari’a, and alerting the nation against the crimes committed by those who played havoc with the sanctity of the creed. Just as the Prophet (S) was the first person to rise to disseminate the divine call, al-Husayn was the last to rise to cement its foundations:
The creed did moan, groan and complain
About him; it did complain to none but Husayn.
The Prophet's grandson saw that to cure the creed,
At Karbala’ to death he had to defend it and bleed.
Never did we hear that a patient could be cured
Only with the death of the one who cured and endured.
When Husayn was martyred, Islam's guidance standard rose high
When Husayn is remembered, Islam's fragrance does intensify.
Had it not been for the open statements made by the son of the singers, we would not have been able to realize his attitude vis-a-vis loyalty [or the lack thereof] for those whom the Omnipotent, Praise to Him, chose as the Infallible and as the beacons of guidance for His servants and the custodians of His Shari’a.
Other than this fact, history has not recorded for the singers' son any loyalty except to ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan versus his animosity towards the grandson of the most pure Messenger of Allah (S).
As for the stand of ‘Abis Ibn Abu Shibib al-Shakiri, when the
oath of allegiance was sworn to Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil at Kufa, and on the Taff Day, it reveals his superiority over many others, his firm conviction and love for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), and that nothing at all mattered to him in his bid to protect the Imam (‘a) even at the cost of sacrificing his own life and everything precious in his possession.
Having witnessed the betraying throngs assembled to swear the oath of allegiance to Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil, he [‘Abis] said to him,
“I do not wish to inform you about these people, nor do I know what they hide in their hearts and what attracts you to them, but by Allah I shall tell you about what I have decided to do: By Allah! I shall respond to you when you call, and I shall fight your enemy, and I shall defend you with my sword till I meet Allah desiring nothing for doing so except what Allah has in store for me.”(1)
With these brief words did he interpret those people's intentions and the feebleness of their wills, and that they were molded on betrayal, hypocrisy and the following of their own whims, and that they did not wish to openly declare their inclination to betray him else it should weaken their already weak allegiance and become the cause of animosity.
So they said what was beautiful as they waited for the outcome. Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil could not get even one of those thousands of men to lead him
to any highway to exit the city when the clouds of doom overshadowed him, not even one, so he did not know where to go...
On the Taff Day, Ibn Abul-Shibin said to al-Husayn (‘a), “Nobody on the face of earth, be he a kin of mine or a stranger, is dearer to my heart than you. Had I been able to defend you with anything more precious than my life, I would have most certainly done so.”(1)
Yes, O son of Abul-Shibin! Men who are sincere to Allah Almighty are endowed with self-denial. They regard the world as a vanishing thing and hope to attain immortality through supporting the Imam, the essence of beings, the orbit of existence itself.
Then Nafi’ Ibn Hilal stood and said, “By Allah! We are not too afraid to submit to Allah's destiny, nor are we averse to the meeting with our Lord. We are with our minds and intentions supporting whoever supports you and are the enemy of whoever antagonizes you.” The rest of his companions made similar statements.
When he (‘a), granted permission to his family members to leave, they all said in one voice, “Shall we do so in order to survive you? May Allah never permit us to see that happen.” Then he turned to ‘Aqil's offspring and said, “Suffices you [the calamity that you have suffered because of] Muslim's murder. I have permitted you to leave.”
They immediately expressed their unrelenting determination to support the creed and to defend the Imam, the Hujjah,
saying, “If we do so, shall we then say to the people that we abandoned our mentor and master, while our cousins are the best of cousins, without having shot one arrow with them, nor have we stabbed anyone with our lances nor struck anyone with our swords? No, by Allah!
We shall never do that; rather, we shall sacrifice ourselves, our wealth, and our families for your sake and fight with you till we meet the same fate as yours; abominable, indeed, it is to survive you.”
Such readiness to sacrifice in that precarious situation, wherein all avenues of help and rescue were blocked, and even water, which was made available to the animals, was denied them, reveals their attainment of the most sublime attributes of perfection.
It reveals their renunciation of this vanishing life. Had they had in their heart the least desire to stay, or to love this world, they would have taken his permission to leave them as an excuse they would produce on the Day of Judgment.
But these souls, which the Lord of the Worlds, Praise to Him, created of a holy mould and blended with the noor of conviction, did not desire to stay alive except to uphold what is right or to put an end to what is false. How could they find life meaningful while knowing that the man who was so much loved by the Messenger of Allah (S), the heart of Islam, was suffering of bleeding wounds and of a
Souls that wanted nothing but the legacy of their father
Are either killed without being avenged,
Or are killing those whom none will avenge.
Their souls were used to the battlefield,
Just as their feet were used to the pulpits.(1)
Meanwhile, news reached Muhammad Ibn Bashir al-Hadrami that his son was captured in the outskirts of Ray, so he said, “To Allah do I entrust him; I do not wish that he should be taken as a captive while I survive him.”
When al-Husayn (‘a) heard him say so, he excused him from his oath of allegiance to him so that he could manage to have his son released. Having heard the Master of Martyrs say so, he now was fired with holy zeal for the creed and was prompted by his sincere loyalty to demonstrate his firm conviction in sacrificing everything he had to defend the Imam, saying, “O Abu ‘Abdullah! May the wild beasts feed on me should I ever part with you!”
Firm conviction and obedience to Allah Almighty and to His Messenger (S) raise those who are thereby enabled to attain the zenith of greatness to a level superior even to virtue itself. Had Ibn Bashir's conviction been shaky, he would have seized the opportunity of the permission that he had received from the Imam (‘a) to leave as his excuse before the Master, Praise to Him, and before people.
Al-Husayn's martyrdom did not leave its hero any choice except to release the black slave John who belonged to Abu Tharr al-Ghifari
so that his modesty might not keep him from fleeing. But the Master of Martyrs, having come to know his persistence and firmness in the face of calamities, wanted by testing him to acquaint those who had surrounded him, as well as the succeeding generations, with his character.
He wanted to highlight the extent of John’s stand to defend the Shari’a with which those who betrayed it played havoc no matter how serious the danger was and how many the woes. He, therefore, excused John from his covenant, permitting him to to seek his own safety saying, “O John! You have accompanied us for your health's sake; so, do not be afflicted by our own way of life.” It was then that John’s tears ran down. John feared he would not succeed in earning eternal happiness.
He blended his tears with a statement that has been reverberating to all succeeding generations ever since, acquainting them with success for those who persevere during the time of trials and tribulations. Said he, “Only rest follows fatigue...”
He also said, “Should I during the time of ease eat your food then betray you during the time of hardship? My smell is bad, my descent is lowly, and my colour is black, so do breathe upon me of the breath of Paradise so that my smell will turn good, my descent will become honourable, and my colour will be white!
No, by Allah! I shall never leave you till my blood is mixed with yours.”(1)
Had it not
been for such frank statements made by al-Husayn (‘a), nobody would have come to know the purity of the conscience of that slave or of his good intentions. His insistence to be killed, even after receiving permission to be released and to part with the group, demonstrates a very firm conviction.
Safeguarding the Imam (‘a) is like safeguarding the Prophet (S), something which reason and the Shari’a mandate, something which nobody should abandon or hesitate to safeguard against those who wish to eradicate it. What is obligatory is to sacrifice one's own life for his [Imam’s] sake in order to thus remove the aggression against the life of the Imam who is the life of existence and the existence of the cosmos itself.
The Imam (‘a) was also required to call others to support and to defend him with the knowledge that whoever responded would be jeopardizing his life, and that there was no choice except to avoid the fatal danger. He, in such case, was obligated not to require anyone to defend him, for it would then be in vain.
Al-Husayn (‘a) was familiar with what he was going to endure. “A destiny which cannot be altered, a decree which cannot be reversed,” said he to Umm Salamah adding, “If I do not die today, I will tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the day after. Do you think that there is anyone who can avoid death? Do you think that you know what I do not?”
He, then, is not required
to obligate others to defend him. Yes; any human who is unfamiliar with divine decrees is not exempted from being required to defend the person of the Imam, the Hujjah.
Nobody is excused upon seeing how those people besieged a man whom Allah chose as His viceregent in dealing with His servants, how they cut off all supply routes from him and even prohibited him from having access to water, without rising to remove such an oppression or to protect his sacred life.
Allah Almighty does not accept the excuse of one who sees such a situation and is reluctant to support him even when it is quite precarious except when the Hujjah of his time grants him permission to part with him and to leave him to face his enemy, since he is fully familiar with the best course; he is informed by the Wise One, the Knowing, the Sublime.
In such a case, neither reason nor the Shari’a requires him to stay and to defend him, nor will his parting be regarded as a violation of what the Shari’a has decreed. He will then have an excuse when the books of deeds are spread: he was granted permission by the Imam (‘a) not to support him.
The Imam himself will not then be jeopardizing his life upon permitting others to abandon him to face his foes alone and to excuse them from having sworn the oath of allegiance to him; he will not be going beyond the actual
facts at all. If one does not see the Imam seeking his help and support, he does not carry any obligation or responsibility.
Contrariwise, if he sees the Imam in such a precarious situation, repeatedly asking for help, it does not befit him to be too reluctant to support him. In such a case, the Imam will be in a very dire need for his help; so, no excuse shall ever be accepted from him on the Day of Judgment.
Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) met ‘Ubaydullah Ibn al-Hurr al-Ju’fi at Qasr Muqatil and solicited his support saying, “I advise you that, if you could, you should avoid hearing us crying and mourning our dead, and do not witness our tragedy. Do so, for by Allah, none who hears us mourning our dead without supporting us except that Allah will hurl him headlong into the fire of hell.”
This statement supports our rebuttal of the claims of those who heard the Imam pleading for help without helping him. As for one who does not hear such mourning, and he is granted permission to leave, he surely is excused.
Al-Dahhak Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Mashriqi, therefore, will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment because he heard al-Husayn (‘a) pleading for help, and he saw him greatly outnumbered. He was obligated to support him to the last breath
A man came to al-Husayn (‘a) before the battle started and said, “I would like to fight on your side as long as I see others doing so, but if I
do not see anyone fighting with you, shall I then be permitted to leave you?”
Al-Husayn (‘a) answered him in the affirmative. The man hid his horse in a deserted place upon seeing how al-Husayn's horses were being hamstrung and kept fighting on foot. When al-Husayn (‘a) stood alone on the battlefield, al-Dahhak asked him, “Is my term still honoured?” The Imam (‘a) said, “Yes; you are free, if you can, to flee for safety.”
The man, therefore, took his horse out of its hiding place, rode it and assaulted the foes forcing his way through their ranks. They made way for him, then fifteen men pursued him.
He came to an old dried-up well near the bank of the Euphrates. The chasing party caught up with him. Ayyub Ibn Mashrah al-Khaywani, Kathir Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Sha’bi, and Qays Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Sa'idi recognized him and said to their brethren, “This is our cousin! We plead to you in the Name of Allah to spare his life.” He was spared.(1)
His being told by al-Husayn (‘a) that he was excused will not avail him on the Day of Judgment because Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) could not have asked him to stay till he could meet his death, knowing that the man had set his mind, from the beginning, on leaving safely.
The Creator, Praise to Him, will not excuse him on the Day of Gathering because he had heard the Father of the Oppressed (‘a) pleading for help, and whoever hears the Imam thus
pleading and does not support him will be hurled by Allah into the fire headlong.
Al-Husayn's revolution was the concluding part of the cause of firming the creed’s foundations. It clearly distinguished between those who called for righteousness and those who advocated falsehood. It drew a line between this party and that, so much so that it has been said that Islam started by Muhammad (S) and its continuation is through al-Husayn (‘a).
The Imams of guidance (‘a), therefore, found no means to promote their cause to reform the nation, and to get their word to resurrect the Shari’a of their most sacred grandfather (S), except by attracting the attention to this glorious revolution due to what it contains of the calamities that split the solid rocks, cause children to grow gray hair, and cause the heart to dissolve.
They, peace be upon them, kept urging the nation to support it and to bring to memory the cruelty and persecution meted to the martyr/reformer, and to familiarize the nation with what took place during those bloody scenes of oppression meted to al-Husayn (‘a) and to his family members and relatives.
They, peace of Allah be upon them, knew that demonstrating the oppression from which he suffered would bring sympathy and soften the hearts. The listener will naturally investigate the calamities and get to know the status of this oppressed Imam (‘a) and the reasons why he was mistreated.
Of course he will come to know that the Prophet's grandson was a
just Imam who did not court this world, nor did he pay attention to those who promoted falsehood, and that his Imamate was inherited from his grandfather (S) and from his own father the wasi, and that his opponent had no legitimate claim to caliphate at all, nor did anyone who followed his line.
Once the listener comes to know all this to be the truth that al-Husayn and the Imams who succeeded him (‘a) were all on the right track, he will have no choice except to follow their lead and to embrace their exemplary method, thus firming the foundations of peace and harmony.
The usurping Umayyad and ‘Abbaside authorities forced Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, to keep to their homes, closing all doors before them, prohibiting them from meeting with their followers.
The Ahl al-Bayt suffered at the Umayyad and the ‘Abbaside hands from all types of harm and annihilation, so they preferred isolation to taking to arms and fighting the promoters of falsehood despite their seeing them going to extremes in their oppression and in being unfair to the followers of the Commander of the Faithful and to his offspring (‘a), pursuing them under every rock and in every city so that they would remove the ‘Alawides from the face of earth.
They saw how al-Mansur and al-Rashid placed the offspring of Fatima, peace be upon her, inside building columns in order to suffer a slow death, all out of injustice and oppression.(1)
Yet all of this did not distract
them from urging the upholding of the supreme struggle by admonishing their Shi’as to hold majalis(1) to commemorate the Taff incident. Disgust persisted on account of the calamities and catastrophes, and floods of tears were shed because of the abundance of their painful tragedies.
They went to extremes in explaining the merits of doing so because they were convinced that that was the strong factor for maintaining the religious link for which the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) suffered what he suffered, and so did his son al-Hasan (‘a) as well as al-Husayn (‘a), tragedies which shook the firm mountains.
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) used to explore various avenues to explain the spiritual importance of remembering al-Husayn (‘a) because of the perfect link between such remembering and the safeguarding of the creed from extinction. They expressed it once in general terms and once in specific references. Imam al-Baqir (‘a), for example, has said,
“May Allah have mercy on one who meets with another to discuss our cause, for the third of them will be an angel seeking forgiveness for them; so, keep such memory alive, for your meetings and discussions keep our cause alive, and the best of people after us are those who discuss our cause and invite others to remember us.”
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) once asked al-Mufaddal Ibn Yasar, “Do you meet and discuss?” He answered the Imam (‘a) in the affirmative, whereupon the Imam (‘a) said, “I surely love such majalis; so, keep our memory alive; whoever sits at
a majlis in our memory, his heart will not die when hearts die.”
The Imams, peace be upon them, aimed by so explaining to urge the nation to believe in their Imamate and in what the Master, Glory to Him, has mandated of their Infallibility and what He bestowed upon them of the virtues and merits, and that directing people to them cannot be separated from belief in their being the caliphs, had it not been for those who usurped this divine post.
The things that remind people of al-Husayn (‘a), in their various methods, such as commemorative majalis, mournings,(1) beating the cheeks(2) at homes and in the streets..., help promote the sect. The role of the re-enactment of the tragedy, accompanied by the recitation of poetry and the narration of the epic, best demonstrates the cruelty which the Umayyahds and their followers inflicted upon al-Husayn (‘a).
It thus clearly reaches the minds of children and the commoners who do not comprehend what is contained in the books, or in poetry, of the particulars of the incident. It is the most effective means in influencing people and in strengthening their determination to safeguard the religious links between us and the Imams (‘a) and those who paid tribute to them, and it plays a major role in firming the creed.
Other people, such as the Indians, in addition to other Islamic sects, have emulated the Shi’as in the re-enactment of the Taff tragedy. This is more prevalent in India than in any other Islamic
Attracting attention to such reminders and promoting them is needed primarily to keep the memory of the Infallible Ones alive with those who love them, those who love to discuss them and to remember them. Probably a host of the benefits of doing so are not appreciated by the nation. The most they get out of them is that their doing so brings them rewards in the hereafter; that is all.
But one who is acquainted with the mysteries of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and who digs deep in order to digest the implications of their statements and actions will clearly see what they have referred to with regard to such meetings and with their urging their Shi’as to do due to their munificence and vast knowledge.
Among such benefits is the intensive urge (which reaches the limit of consecutive reporting) to weep over what happened to the Master of Martyrs, so much so that it has been reported that one who sheds a tear as little as the wing of a fly, his tear will put out the fire of hell. The reason behind that is: One cannot shed a tear except when he is emotionally moved and is deeply distressed because of what he or someone to whom he/she is attached had to endure.
Undoubtedly, we see such a person moved by something else which is: enmity and contempt for all the injustice and suffering inflicted.
The Imams are the most knowledgeable of all people on account of their conditions
and circumstances that testify to their mission. They used to seek all means to attain their objectives.
One of those means, which obligate one to abandon the enemies of Allah and His Messenger (S), is their order to weep over the tragedy that befell al-Husayn (‘a) because it requires the bringing to memory of the heart-rending cruelty, to its emotional effects, and to the renunciation of whatever does not agree with their line.
This is the implication of the statement made by al-Husayn (‘a), wherein he said, “I am the one killed and for whose killing tears are shed; no mu'min remembers me without shedding his tears.” A believer, who is bonded to al-Husayn (‘a) with the bond of loyalty and support, finds himself moved and his heart distressed with regard to any harm or peril the Imam (‘a) had to undergo, and such a feeling intensifies when calamities reach their peak.
To sum up, the Master of Martyrs did not mean, by saying, “I am the one killed and for whose killing tears are shed,” that his being killed was solely for the purpose of people weeping over him and receiving their rewards in the hereafter, without mentioning any other effect resulting from his being killed other than people weeping over him.
How can this be so especially in the presence of other effects the most important of which is to keep the pristine Shari’a alive and to correct what went wrong of the knowledge of guidance and the dissemination
of reform among the nation and acquainting people of the oppression of the oppressive rulers who pursue their ambition?
But the reason for such an addition is underscoring the relationship between what reference he made to his being killed and mourning him.
One who grieves for him shall never find a redress from his grief, and the pain of disappointment can never subside due to the multitude of tragedies that befell him and to his being receptive to them with patience that drew the admiration of the angels in the heavens. The first reaction to the listener, who is moved by such tragedies, is that he weeps over them; so, whenever he remembers al-Husayn (‘a), his tears flow.
Add to this the love for him in the hearts of those who love him: if you add this to that loyalty, it will better underscore the relationship between remembering him and mourning him. It is from this juncture that killing is associated with him, hence his statement, “I am the one killed and for whose killing tears are shed.”
This has been the custom of the Arabs in their speech.
Whenever they see a very strong link between somebody and one of his conditions, characteristics, etc., they add his name to it. They, for example, use expressions such as “Mudar al-Hamra’,” “Rabi’ah al-Khayl,” “Zayd al-Nar,” “children of the fire,” “...husband poisoning,” and so on.
Rabi’ah and Mudar did not leave out any good attribute with which they could adorn themselves except bearing the standard of war
and providing horses for the battle. Zayd son of Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (‘a) was not known as having done anything outstanding, be it good or bad, other than burning the houses of the ‘Abbasides in Basra.
Nor did the children of Abu Mu’it earn any human attribute to identify them except their being the children of the fire [of hell] which the Messenger of Allah (S) added to their name when he ordered their father,
‘Utbah Ibn Abu Mu’it, an unbeliever, to be killed; it was then that he asked the Prophet (S), “O Muhammad! Who will take care of my children?” “The fire,” answered the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny.
Nor was Ju’da daughter of al-Ash’ath known by any vice more than the poison which she administered to Abu Muhammad, Imam al-Hasan (‘a), grandson of the Prophet (S).
But since these results are common knowledge among people, the name of the tribe of Mudar came to be associated with “al-Hamra’,” the blood-red battle, whereas the war horses are added to Rabi’ah, the fire that burned the ‘Abbasides was associated with Zayd's name, and Ju’da came to be associated with husband poisoning.
Al-Husayn (‘a) is quoted as saying, “I am the one killed and for whose killing tears are shed” (as he is referred to as such by Imam as-Sadiq [as]). This falls in the same category when the link is so strong between al-Husayn (‘a) and the tears shed in his memory.
Imams of guidance (‘a) liked to keep such memories alive forever so that successive generations might discuss them. They knew that the creed would stay fresh as long as the nation remembered this great tragedy. They did not only condone what has to be done, that is, weeping upon remembering the tragedy, they went as far as recommending feign crying over it, that is, that one cries without shedding any tears. Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) says, “Whoever cries [over our tragedies] even without shedding tears will be in Paradise.”(1)
It is a known fact that one who finds it hard to shed tears while being moved by a tragic event is not unaffected by it. Many do so. Being psychologically moved by imagining what pain and agony a loved one suffers necessitates repugnance towards the person responsible for inflicting them.
The Prophet (S) once recited the last verses of Surat az-Zumar to a group of the Anar:
“So those who disbelieved were driven to hell in hordes” (Qur’an, Sura az-Zumar, 39:71).
They all wept with the exception of one young man among them who said, “My eyes did not shed a tear, yet I wept feignly.” The Prophet (S) then said, “One who weeps feignly [over such matters] will be in Paradise.”(2)
Jarir quotes the Prophet (S) saying, “I am going to recite to you Surat al-Takathur; so, anyone who is unable to weep tearfully should do so feignly. Whoever weeps tearfully will be in Paradise, and whoever weeps feignly will also be in
Abu Tharr al-Ghifari has quoted the Prophet (S) saying, “If one of you is able to weep, let him do so, but if he cannot, then let his heart sense the grief, and let him weep feignly, for a hard heart is distant from Allah”(2)
These traditions tell us that even if one weeps without shedding tears, he does so because his heart is grieved, and his soul cries.
But out of awe for the Almighty, Praise to Him, grief and sadness are the outcome of imagining what consequences await those who disobey the Master, what shame they will receive in the hereafter. Hence, he distances himself from any such thing and does whatever brings him closer to the Almighty. When it comes to remembering the tragedies inflicted upon the offspring of the Prophet (S), it is a must to hate those who opposed, schemed against, and harmed them.
What we have pointed out may be the same that Shaikh Muhammad ‘Abdoh refers to. Says he, “To cry feignly is to weep with affectation, not out of pretense.”(3)
Al-Sharif al-Jurjani says that some people dislike it because of the affectation in it, whereas others permit it for those who aim to express the same feeling [of grief]. Its origin goes back to a statement made by the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny, “If you do not weep tearfully, then pretend to do so,” meaning those who wish to weep, not those who are indifferent, are
Both one who weeps tearfully and one who does so tearlessly share one common denominator: both are deeply distressed and saddened by imagining what injustice was inflicted on Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). Both are equal in their repulsion from those who usurped the status reserved for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and their aversion thereto.
One who does not comprehend the implication of the speech of the Infallible ones (‘a) will rush to make a judgment on those who weep tearlessly, yet after our explanation of the mystery, you will come to realize their wisdom and eloquence.
Numerous are the mysteries that involve Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) which cannot be comprehended except by one who carefully examines their speech and studies their circumstances, for they never ceased to explore minute ways to attract the souls to them and to acquaint them with their usurped right.
Among that is what Imam al-Baqir, peace be upon him, wished to be done by way of his will which was the giving of eight hundred dirhams to women to mourn him at Mina during the Hajj season.(2)
Pilgrims from various countries of the world, and from different sects, assemble at Mina during the Hajj. It is then that they can enjoy anything previously made prohibitive to them (during the earlier ten days) except women.
These are days of festivities and merry making; people in groups visit one another; congratulation parties are held, and places are set up to congratulate one another.
If you consider the Imam's choice of this particular time and
place, you will realize the precise observation the Imam (‘a) took notice of when he preferred those days at Mina over those at ‘Arafat or at the mash’ar where people will usually be busy with the rituals and the supplications to the Creator, Praise to Him, in addition to the short period they have to spend there.
Yes, those three days at Mina, the days of Eid, of merry-making and of felicity, not of grief or weeping, were the choice of the Imam (‘a). Of course, one who hears someone crying during those happy days will be strongly motivated by curiousity to find out the reasons that caused him to cry, and to ask who is being mourned, what his cause is, and what he had done.
He would ask about those who antagonized him and usurped his right. Through such questioning will the truth become clear and so will the best way, for the light of Allah can never be extinguished, and the call to Him is clear in argument.
Such news will be transmitted by the people to those who are distant from its stage once they go home. Those who were not there to witness it would thus come to know about it, and the argument would be completed, so nobody can say that he did not go to Medina, home town of Allah's Hujjah, or that nobody told him anything, nor did he know the Imam's call and of his opponents being misguided. Nobody would thus remain ignorant of
Thus do we come to understand the reason why the Imam (‘a) refrained from requiring those mourners to mourn him at Mecca or Medina during the Hajj days: in both cities, mourning is done at home, so how can men get to know about these mourners, and how can such mourning convey the desired message?
The claim that a woman's voice is one of her means of attraction which strangers are prohibited from hearing is rebutted by a narration recorded by al-Kulayni in his book titled Al-Kafi:
Umm Khalid came once to visit Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), and she was a lady of wisdom and knowledge. Abu Busayr was then present among his companions. He, peace be upon him, asked Abu Busayr, “Would you like to hear her speak?” Then he (‘a) seated her with him on a couch. Umm Khalid spoke, and she was a wise and eloquent woman.(1)
Had a woman's voice been prohibited from reaching strangers’ ears, the Imam (‘a) would not have permitted Abu Busayr to hear her.
In his will, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) appropriated money for female mourners to mourn him at Mina. This implies the permission of men to hear their voices; otherwise, he would have required them to mourn him at their homes in Medina and Mecca. But the Imam's reasoning is quite clear, and his objective cannot be achieved unless men heard these women's voices and came to know who they were mourning.
In an incident narrated by Hammad al-Kufi, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said to him, “It
has come to my knowledge that some people from Kufa visit the grave of Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) on the fifteenth of Sha’ban, and that some of them recite the Qur’an while others narrate stories about him, and that some women mourn him.”
Hammad said, “I have witnessed some of what you have just described.” The Imam (‘a) then said to him, “Praise is due to Allah. Who has let from among our Shi’as those who visit our grave sites, who praise and mourn us.”(1)
Nobody can deny that when women mourn their dead at any cemetery, they will be heard by strangers. Had it been prohibitive, the Imam and Hujjah (‘a) would not have commended it and invoked Allah to have mercy on their dead.
A woman's voice being ‘awra is not supported by any narration. What is reported about men being prohibited from talking to or sleeping at the house of a female stranger is not on account of her voice being ‘awra but because of the possibility that omenous things may happen.
As he starts discussing nikah in the 9th query, ‘Allama al-Hilli, in his book Al-Tahrir, says that a blind man is not permitted to hear the voice of a female stranger. He probably is saying so only on account of her being a stranger, without implying that it is so because of its being an ‘awra.
Yes, he indicates in his book Al-Tathkira, at the beginning of his discussion of nikah, that her voice is an ‘awra, and
that it is not permissible to be heard by strangers due to the allurement potential, not without. The Shafi’is have two viewpoints regarding its being an ‘awra.
The author of Al-Jawahir responded to the critics by saying that along the passage of many centuries, women have been addressing leading religious authorities (imams); the speeches of Fatima al-Zahra’, peace be upon her [before Abu Bakr and in the presence of the Anar and the Muhajirun], and that of her daughters [such as Zainab's speeches in Kufa and at Yazid's court in Damascus], are very well known facts.
Sunni fiqh does not prohibit it. For example, on p. 167, Vol. 1, of Al-Fiqh ala al-Mathahib al-Arba’a, it is indicated that, “A woman's voice is not an ‘awra because the wives of the Prophet (S) used to speak to the Sahaba who used to listen to their [wives'] religious ahkam.” On p. 127, Vol. 2, of his book Nayl al-Arab, al-Shaybani, a Hanbali Sunni, says, “Woman's voice is not an ‘awra, but to derive illicit pleasure out of hearing it is haram.”
This is the same view expressed by Ibn Hajar on p. 27, Vol. 1, of his commentary on restraints in his book Kaff al-Ru’a’. Yes, some scholars from among Ahl al-Sunnah went as far as considering it an ‘awra, a view which is not endorsed by Ibn Hajar. Ibn Najim, a Hanafi Sunni, says the following on p. 270, Vol. 1, of his book Al-Bahr al-Ra'iq:
“The author of Al-Kafi says that woman
must not utter the talbiya audibly because her voice is ‘awra. The same view is expressed by the author of Al-Muhit as he discusses the call to the prayers (athan).”
Commenting on this subject, the author of Fath al-Qadir says, “Had this been applied to her raising her voice during the prayers, and that it voids them, it would make more sense.” The author of Sharh al-Maniyya says that a woman's voice is not an ‘awra but it may lead to infatuation.
This is the same reasoning adopted by the author of Al-Hidaya and by others with regard to the issue of making talbiya. In Al-Nawazil, the author states that a woman's tone of voice is an ‘awra. He bases it on his claim that a woman prefers to learn the Holy Qur’an from another woman rather than from a blind man.
In his book Al-Ashbah wa al-Naza'ir, Ibn Najim, on p. 200, where he discusses the injunctions relevant to hermaphrodites, says that the latter’s voice is an ‘awra. On p. 12, Vol. 3, of Al-Furu’ by Ibn Muflih, the Hanbali scholar, it is stated that it is more accurate to say that hearing a stranger's voice is not a sin because it is not an ‘awra.
On p. 12, Vol. 4, of al-’Ayni's book Sharh al-Bukhari, at the end of a chapter discussing walking behind borne coffins, the author states that a woman has to reciprocate the greeting of a man and not to raise her voice because it is an
On p. 250, Vol. 1, of Zayn ad-Din al-Iraqi's book Tarh al-Tathrib, the author cites Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr's view in his book Al-Istithkar that a woman's voice is not an ‘awra adding, “... which is the accurate view according to the Shafi’is.” On p. 45, Vol. 7, of the same reference, where nikah is discussed, the author says,
“Her voice is not an ‘awra.” The following is stated on p. 249, Vol. 7, of al-Nawawi's book Sharh al-Majmu’ (second edition): “Both al-Darmi and Abu al-Tayyib, the judge, have said that it is not prohibitive for a woman to raise her voice during the talbiya.” As he discusses the subject of talbiya, on p. 274, Vol. 4, of Nayl al-Awtar, al-Shawkani says,
“According to al-Ruyani and Ibn al-Rif’ah, her voice is not prohibitive when raised during the talbiya because it is not an ‘awra.”
One of the methods adopted by the Imams from among the Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, in order to acquaint people with the oppression to which al-Husayn (‘a) was subjected, and to distance them from those who robbed him of what rightfully belonged to him, that his uprising perfected the Prophet's call and paved its path, is their requirement to prostrate on the turba.(1)
One of the reasons behind such a requirement is that five times a day, the person performing the prayers recalls, whenever he prostrates, the sacrifice of the soul of the Prophet (S) and that of his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), as well
as that of his companions, for the sake of firming the foundations of the right principle.
He will also recall the calamities the Master of Martyrs endured and from which even solid rocks would split, meeting them with perseverence that drew the admiration of the angels in the heavens, as the wording in his ziyarat indicates.
Then he recalls the fact that this soil was drenched with the blood of the oppressed one and that of the pure ones from among his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and companions, those who were described by the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) as the masters of martyrs, none before them reached their status, nor those who follow them ever will, as stated on p. 270, chapter 88, of Kamil al-Ziyarat of Ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi.
The heart of the one who is faithful to them would be filled with emotion; tears would trickle down his eyes, and he distances himself from anyone who antagonized them and all those who did likewise as well as those who shed their blood or facilitated such a most foul deed.
It would become quite clear for him that this great revolution smashed the altars of oppression. Succeeding generations came to know how a most precious person found death easy in defense of the creed. So is their order to make rosary beads of the said soil and to use them to praise the Almighty in order to achieve the same precious objective.
All these objectives are explained by Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)
although the nation did not comprehend their minute mysteries.
Others, due to their ignorance, charged us with starting a bid’a by doing so. The misguidance of such critics is the outcome of their ignorance of these wise mysteries and their own inability to comprehend the hadith stated by the one who conveyed the wahy of the heavens: “The earth has been made a mosque for me and a means of purification.”
This small piece of earth, prepared for the purpose of prostrating, is made of dust mixed with water, so it is a testimony to the authenticity of this agreed upon hadith.
During certain times, hordes of pilgrims regard the ziyarat [visiting the Imams' shrines], a highly commendable deed. They visit one of the foundations of the creed and the lighthouse of its guidance, and from it are the injunctions derived and where the branches of knowledge are researched. Visitors go to his grave from various parts of the world. People get to know each other; they witness such an amazing crowd.
There is an incessant stampede. Everyone desires to get to the holy shrine, for the one being visited is the same who promoted a divine call and is a caller to the path of his Lord with wisdom and good exhortation...
The pilgrim realizes, even more so, the greatness of the person he is visiting. He will better appreciate him and his cause, and he will be very impressed by such an elating sight. His heart will be
more kind, and his conviction grows stronger. It is only natural that he would then be attracted to following his teachings, studying his biography, researching his legacy, and getting to know the injustice inflicted upon him. And the least of such innumerable benefits does not end here.
There is another advantage: such ziyarat cements the bonds of fraternity among brethren, the fraternity called for by the Book of Allah in the verse saying,
“Believers are brethren of one another” (Qur’an, Sura al-Hujurat, 49:10).
When the visitors meet at the gravesite or on their way to it, they discuss deeds of righteousness and the rewards related thereto; they admonish one another with regard to the right faith, so the error in the beliefs of other sects becomes unveiled. So is the latter’s straying from the right course, and the bond between the faithful becomes based on wisdom.
This is the truth with regard to visiting the shrines of all the Imams of guidance. They are the awesome path, the avenue that leads to every guidance, the conscience of reform, the cultivated rite, the true guidance, the complete knowledge.
Also, belief in them must be established after realizing their apparent distinction, tremendous knowledge, legendary piety, and innumerable miracles. There is no doubt that to visit their holy shrines with the intention to seek nearness to the Master, Praise to Him, strengthens such a creed and firmly establishes it.
This is the only reason for legislating the ziyarat. As regarding specifying a particular ziyarat for
the Master of Martyrs, in addition to urging others to visit his shrine at any time, rather than that of any other Imam, or even that of the Master of Messengers (S), there are many reasons behind that.
The most important reason is that the Umayyad mentality is still alive, and it increases or decreases in intensity from time to time.
Those who have certain vested interests periodically howl about it. Although the Umayyads have turned into dust rags and nothing is attached to their name except shame and they are cursed whenever they are mentioned, yet since such a propensity is atheistic in nature and is promoted by their gang and by those who join them from the generations.
Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) paid a special attention to putting its fire out and to attracting the attention to its deviation from the right path, the path brought by the Greatest Saviour who suffered so much in order to disseminate his call and keep it alive.
One of the means that lead the souls to such a path, acquainting them with the injustice meted to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and directing them towards the divine right clarified for them by the great legislator (S), is the cause of the Master of Martyrs: It is full of tragedies to which the heart of the most bitter enemy softens, let alone that of his follower who recognizes the Imam's usurped authority.
The Imams (‘a) desired that their Shi’as should remain all year round, as days come and
go, fully alert with regard to those who usurped such an authority, the ones that are so distant from the right path. They, therefore, required them to be present around the shrine of the masters of the youths of Paradise on specific occasions, and during other times as well.
It is only natural that such assemblies bring to memory the cruelty employed by the Umayyads who slaughtered the children and banished the daughters of the Prophet (S) from one country to another.
They were forced to ride
Hands to the necks tied
On bare hump she-camels they did ride.
No veil did their faces find:
Behind forearms and hands did they hide.(1)
Fervour and manliness insist that nobody should surrender and accept to be ruled by anyone who inflicts such horrible deeds on anyone else at all, let alone on the family of the most holy Prophet (S). It is then that the souls become filled with emotion, feelings reach their ebb, and judgment is issued against those filthy folks who reneged from the Islamic faith.
Of course, such a cause with regard to the Master of Martyrs is more binding than any other Imam because his cause contains that which softens the hearts. It is from this juncture that the Infallible Ones (‘a) used him as their argument whereby they assault their foes.
They, therefore, required their followers to weep, to commemorate in any way, to visit his shrine..., and so on and so forth, causing the umma to become full of the memory of Husayn:
Husayni in principle, and to the last breath Husayni...
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (‘a) recites a special supplication during his prostration that has been transmitted to us by Mu’awiyah Ibn Wahab. It casts a divine light in the depths of the hearts; it reaffirms the creed; it brings ease to the soul, and it acquaints us with obscure mysteries. The Imam (‘a) used to say the following whenever he prostrated:
“Lord! You are the One Who chose us to receive Your bliss, promised us to intercede, granted us the knowledge of what passed and of what remains, made the hearts of some people lean towards us:
I invoke You to forgive me and my brethren and those who visit the gravesite of my grandfather al-Husayn, those who spend their wealth and exhaust themselves out of their desire to express their devotion to us, hoping to earn the rewards which You have for all those who maintain their link with us, and because of the pleasure they bring to Your Prophet, and out of their response to our own order to do so. Reward them for having vexed our enemy as they sought Your Pleasure.
Do reward them, O Lord, on our behalf, and grant them sustenance during the night and the day, and be generous to their families and offspring, those who succeed them in doing such good deeds. Be their Friend; ward off from them the evil of all stubborn tyrants, all those from among Your creatures.
Protect their weak from the
evil of the mighty ones, be they demons, humans, or jinns. And grant them the best of what they aspire as they estrange themselves from their home-lands, and for preferring us over their sons, families, and kinsfolk. Lord! Our enemies find fault with their going out to visit our shrines, yet it does not stop them from doing so, unlike those who oppose us. Lord! Have mercy on the faces transformed by the heat of the sun.
Have mercy on the cheeks that touch the grave of Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn. Have mercy on the eyes that weep out of kindness to us. Have mercy on the hearts that are grieved on our account and are fired with passion for us. And have mercy on those who mourn us. Lord! I implore You to be the Custodian of these souls and bodies till You bring them to the Pool [of Kawthar] on the Day of the great thirst.”
When Mu’awiyah Ibn Wahab regarded this supplication as giving “too much” for those who visit the gravesite of Imam al-Husayn (‘a), Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said to him, “Those in the heavens who supplicate for those who visit al-Husayn's gravesite are more numerous than those who do so on earth”.(1)
This supplication by the Imam of the nation contains great injunctions and attributes which only those who seek their light and uphold the rope of their guidance appreciate. The mourning to which the Imam (‘a) refers near the end of his supplication is the result of
one who is terrified and afflicted with a calamity.(1)
Since there is no specifying whether such mourning takes place at home or simply everywhere, it is commendable no matter where it may be, be it in the streets, or upon seeing a re-enactment, or at any other situation encountered by men or women.
Among the other means which Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) enjoined their Shi’as to do is rubbing their cheeks on the most pure grave. There is no need to specify the grave of al-Husayn (‘a) because there is one narration relevant to saluting the graves recorded by Shaikh al-Tusi on p. 200, Vol. 1, of his book Al-Tahthib has transmitted by Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Himyari who says,
“I wrote the faqih asking him about one who visits gravesites. He wrote me back stating near his signature that prostrating on graves is not permissible in any obligatory or optional prayer, but one may place his right cheek on the grave, and this is general due to the recommendation that one places his cheek on any of the graves of the Infallible ones, peace be upon them.”
Among what this supplication leads us to is the extent to which the Shi’as go in expressing their love for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), spending their money with generosity to keep the memory of their Imams (‘a) alive whenever they hold somber commemorations, birth anniversaries, etc., and by preferring them over their offspring, families and kinsfolk.
The implication of putting some people ahead of all others
through self-denial is not far from your mind. It is holding others as more important than one's own self.
This can be done either by satisfying all the requirements demanded by friendship, or by assisting one to achieve his objective, or by expressing utmost regards for him. It is one of the commendable traits that spring out of one's own goodness of nature, loftiness of moral code, and excellence of substance.
Allah, the Praised and the Exalted One, has praised those who adorn themselves thereby saying,
“They prefer others over themselves even when poverty is their lot” (Qur’an, Sura al-Hashr, 59:9),
that is, even when they themselves are in need, being poor, destitute.(1)
There is no confusion about the fact that one who is preferred over all others, once he combines in him the requirements that earn him such a preference, will be further recognized as being worthy of such a preference.
If you keenly observe those adorned with virtues, you will find none more worthy of being preferred than the inspired Progeny (‘a) due to the excellent status and the unsurpassed eminence awarded them by the Creator, Praise to Him. Their favours upon the nation obligate the latter to reward them, and to pay them their due rights, the payment that nobody can avoid.
Whoever regards them as his masters, preferring them over himself, his family, and kinsfolk, submits to the fact that the Imams (‘a) are the reason behind the divine bounties, the ones who were taught the Shari’a by Him,
and the means of bringing happiness to man and his earning high plains. Such bounties include their moral excellences, an upright way of dealing with others, social graces and moral codes that guarantee one's success.
Add to the above the Imams' great efforts to rescue the nation and bring it to the haven of safety and security, saving it from the deluge of annihilation, so much so that they, peace be upon them, preferred doing so over living a happy life. Thus, they sacrificed themselves so that the nation might remain on the right track, or so that they may keep the torment away from the members of the nation.
According to one tradition by Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (‘a), he preferred to suffer rather than let his Shi’as suffer. The Imams (‘a), moreover, never ceased loving their Shi’as. Every morning and every evening, they used to plead to Allah to have mercy on them. They were happy whenever their Shi’as were happy, and they were grieved whenever their Shi’as were grieved.
This is so because the Shi’as are the remnant of the Imams' own mould; they are the leaves of that good tree whose roots are firmly planted and whose branches are high in the sky.
For example, al-Hujjah, may Allah hasten his reappearance, has offered the following supplication for them:
“O Allah! Our Shi’as were created of the rays of our own noors and of the remnant of our own mould. They have committed many sins, relying on their love for us.
If their sins are relevant to their duties toward You, do, O Lord, forgive them, for it pleases us that You do so.
And if such sins are relevant to their obligations towards us, do, O Lord, mend their affairs and distance such sins from reaching the khums due to us. Permit them, O Lord, to enter Paradise; move them away from hell, and do not include them in Your wrath with our enemies”.(1)
I cannot imagine, since the case is as such, that you can find in the code of rights and obligations, or in the norms of faithfulness, or in the requirements of manliness, any justification for laxing in solacing the bearers of the Message by preferring them over your own self and your family in everything precious or not so precious.
You, otherwise, will plunge in the deepest pit of meanness. You will permit yourself to be the target of blame by reason on one hand, and by the requirements of the Shari’a on the other, assaulted by manliness.
There is no doubt that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) would like us to adorn ourselves with self-denial in order to keep the memory of all members of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) alive. We come to such a conclusion when we discern the reference used by the Imam (‘a) in his supplication:
Having supplicated for those who visit the shrine of Imam Husayn (‘a), and invoked Allah to grant them the fulfillment of their best wishes, he (‘a) said, “... and reward them
for that whereby they preferred us over themselves.”
His using the plural “themselves” connotes his loving them for having preferred the Imams (‘a) over their own selves, something which brings goodness to each and every one of them.
Since preference awarded to visiting the shrine of the Oppressed Imam (‘a) is inclusive, due to its bringing to memory his sacred stand, whoever stands before the pure shrines sees himself as though he stands between both ranks:
the rank of sanctity, of guidance to everything good, and his band, and the rank of the product of the Thursday of Infamy, namely Yazid and his followers, observing the stand taken by the first party with regard to what is right and to integrity, and the [evil] end sought by those who opted to follow falsehood and uncleanness.
He, therefore, will have then kindled the fires of two attributes: loyalty to one party and dissociation from the other.
A far-sighted discreet person cannot overlook the implication in the statement cited above in Abu ‘Abdullah's supplication:
“O Allah! Our enemies found fault with them (with our Shi’as) for visiting our shrines, yet this did not stop them from doing so, thus distinguishing themselves from those who opposed our ways.”
He, peace be upon him, desired to urge the Shi’as to always keep consoling Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and respecting their rites, keeping their heritage alive and disseminating their legacy. Any calamity suffered by them while following such a path is surely witnessed by Allah, the most Exalted One, and
it pleases His Purified Friends.
The mockery of those who mock does not harm them in the least so long as they are on the right path. The Jews had made fun of the athan, just as the polytheists had made fun of the sujud, yet it did not weaken the Muslims' determination in the least, so they continued their march on the straight path heedless of the pitfalls of others.
Those who visit the gravesite of Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Husayn (‘a), and who crowd to uphold the Husayni rites, are not harmed by the mockery of the ignorant about whom as-Sadiq (‘a) says, “By Allah! Their luck missed the mark! From achieving Allah's rewards did they swerve! And from nearness to Muhammad (S) did they distance themselves!”
When Thurayh al-Muharibi said to him once, “Whenever I detail the merits of visiting (the gravesite) of Abu ‘Abdullah [al-Husayn] (‘a), my offspring and kinsfolk make fun of me,” the Imam (‘a) responded by saying, “O Thurayh! Let people go where they want to go while you stay with us.”(1)
He (‘a) said once to Hammad, “It has come to my knowledge that some people from Kufa, as well as others in its outskirts, visit on the middle of Sha’ban the grave of Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a), and that some of them recite the Qur’an while others narrate the story (of his martyrdom), while still others laud us, and that the women mourn him.”
Hammad said, “I have personally seen some of what you have described.” The
Imam (‘a) then said, “Praise to Allah Who let some people come to us to laud us, to mourn us, while letting our enemies fault them and describe what they do as abominable.”(1)
The ridicule of those who distance themselves from Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), those who shy away from upholding these rites, does not undermine the goodness of the legacy which endears to us the keeping of the memory of the Imams alive, and it has benefitted the nation in the life of this world and will benefit it in the life hereafter.
In one hadith by the Messenger of Allah (S), he said to the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), “A scum [of the earth] from among the people reproach those who visit your graves just as an adulteress is reproached about having committed adultery. These are the evil ones of my nation. May Allah never permit them to earn my intercession on the Day of Judgment.”(2)
What is obvious beyond the shadow of doubt is that composing poetry about anyone means introducing him to others, keeping his name alive, and publicizing for him. Men's legacy, no matter how highly esteemed by others and how great, may lose its glow as time goes by.
Such legacy, therefore, will eventually be overlooked and its great significance forgotten. Poetry is faster to steal people's attention and appreciation. People disseminate it, tongues articulate it, hearts memorize it and pass it on from one generation to another, from one nation to another.
literature has preserved a great deal of this nation’s history, biographies and wars, during the period of jahiliyya and since the dawn of Islam. Among what Du’bal al-Khuza’i has said about poetry's perpetuation across the centuries are these lines:
If I compose a line, its composer will die, yet I
Am quoted: one whose verse shall never die.
‘Urwah Ibn Uthaynah has said,
I was told about men who did fear
That I vilify them, and I do not vilify.
If they are innocent, my poetry shall not come near
Them, nor shall they be censured thereby.
But if they are in esteem less than that,
And utter something with an effect to last,
It will mean to these men
Many a book and many a pen.
Since remembering Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is the pillar of the creed and the spirit of reform, and through it are their teachings taught and footsteps followed, the Infallible Imams (‘a) kept urging their followers to publicize their abundant merits, the calamities they underwent, and their suffering as they tried to keep the creed alive.
Publicizing the tragedies that befell them and the agonies they had to withstand will keep their cause alive. May Allah have mercy on all those who keep their memory alive and who invite others to remember them.
Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a) said the following to al-Kumait when the latter recited for him his poem which starts with “Who shall solace a heart suffering from overflowing passion?”: “May you always be supported by the Holy Spirit.”(1)
When al-Kumait once sought permission of Imam
as-Sadiq (‘a) during the days of tashriq to recite his poem to him, the Imam (‘a) thought it was quite a serious offence to recite poetry during such great days. But when al-Kumait said to him,
“It is composed about you (Ahl al-Bayt [as]),” the father of ‘Abdullah (‘a) became quite relaxed because doing so is obligatory due to its resulting in keeping the traditions of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) alive. Then he called upon some of his family members to join them both, whereupon al-Kumait recited his poem. There was a great deal of weeping when he recited the verse saying,
Shooters hit thereby the mark the others are missing:
O last one led to misguidance by the first: Do listen!
It was then that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) raised his hands and supplicated saying, “O Allah! Forgive al-Kumait's sins, the ones he committed, and the ones he will commit, the ones he hid, and the ones he revealed! And grant him, O Lord, of Your favours till he is pleased!”(1)
Abu Ja’far Imam al-Jawad (‘a) permitted ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Salt to eulogize him and mourn his father Imam al-Riďa (‘a).
Abu Talib once wrote the Imam (‘a) seeking his permission to eulogize his father Imam al-Riďa (‘a), so he cut the parchment in which the poem was written and kept it with him, then he wrote him saying, “An excellent job you have done, and may Allah reward you with goodness.”(2)
Imam Abu ‘Abdullah, as-Sadiq (‘a), said to Sufyan Ibn Mis’ab, “Compose for me poetry about al-Husayn
(‘a),” then he ordered Umm Farwa and his own children to be brought near them. Once they all gathered, Sufyan started his poem by saying,
“O Farwa! Be generous with your over-pouring tears.” It was then that Umm Farwa cried loudly, and so did the other women with her, whereupon Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) shouted: “The door! (Close) the door!” The people of Medina assembled, so Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) sent them a child who fainted (having become overwhelmed by emotion).(1)
This is one good method of disseminating awareness (of the tragedy of Karbala’) among the public. Indeed, their children did faint during the Battle of al-Taff, and I do not know which one of them the Imam (‘a) had then in mind. Was it ‘Abdullah, the infant, or was it ‘Abdullah Junior son of Imam al-Hasan (‘a) who was killed with an arrow while in al-Husayn's lap? Or was it Muhammad son of Abu Sa’id son of ‘Aqil son of Abu Talib?
Ja’far son of ‘Affan(2) came once to see Imam as-Sadiq (‘a). The Imam (‘a) said to him, “You compose poetry about al-Husayn (‘a), and you do a good job, don't you?” He answered in the affirmative, whereupon the Imam (‘a) asked him to recite some of it for him. Ja’far did. The Imam (‘a) cried so much that his tears ran profusely on his cheeks and beard.
Then he said to him, “Allah's angels who are near to Him have all witnessed what you have said about al-Husayn, and they have all
cried just as we here cry. Allah has ordered you to be lodged in Paradise.” After a while, the Imam (‘a) turned to those present there and then to say, “Anyone who composes poetry in memory of al-Husayn (‘a) and he cries and causes others to cry will be forgiven by Allah, and he will be worthy of entering Paradise.”(1)
This Ja’far is a sincere Shi’a who has earned a great deal of praise and is regarded as a reliable authority by biographers. He is the one who responded to Marwan Ibn Abu Hafsa when the latter said,
Clear the way for people whose customs are
The crushing of flanks whenever throngs jostle,
Accept what the Lord has decreed for you,
And let alone inheriting every protecting knight.
How can it be, and it never will,
That a daughters' son should inherit his uncle?(2)
Ja’far Ibn ‘Affan responded by syaing,
Why not?! And it surely is:
Sons of daughters shall inherit their uncles,
For the girls have his wealth, while the uncle
Is left without a share. Why should a taleeq
Talk about inheritance at all? The taleeq prayed
Only out of his fear of the sword.(3)
A group of men came to see Imam al-Riďa (‘a) once and found him looking out of the ordinary. They asked him why. He said to them, “I have spent my entire night awake thinking about what Marwan Ibn Abu Hafsa said,” then he quoted the lines cited above.
The Imam (‘a) went on to say, “I later fell asleep. It was then that someone took hold of
the door as he said,
How can it be? And it shall not:
Pillars of Islam do not belong to polytheists.
Grandaughters inherit no grandfathers,
While the uncle is deprived of his share.
Why should a taleeq about inheritance say a word?
The taleeq prayed only out of his fear of the sword.
The Qur’an has already informed you of his worth,
So the judges issued about him and decreed.
Fatima's son to whom reference is made
Earned his inheritance from his cousins,
While the son of the wide shield stands
Hesitant, weeping, only by his kin pleased.”(1)
Marwan stole the theme from verses composed by a slave of Tammam Ibn Ma’bid Ibn al-’Abbas Ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib who stood to attack with his poetry ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Abu Rafi’, servant of the Messenger of Allah (S). He had come to Imam al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (‘a) and said: “I am your servant,” and he used to write down quotations from (the Imam's father) Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a). Tammam's slave then said:
Al-’Abbas's offspring denied their father's right
So you in your claim seek no good end;
Since when do the offspring of the Prophet
Behave like an heir who earns, then he,
When opportune, claims linkage to the father?(2)
Marwan Ibn Sulayman Ibn Yahya Ibn Abu Hafsa was a Jew who embraced Islam at the hands of Marwan Ibn al-Hakam. Some say that he was taken captive from Istakhar, and that ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan bought him and gave him to Marwan as a slave.
He participated in the incident of the Dar on Marwan's side. When Marwan Ibn al-Hakam
was wounded (in that incident), he was carried by his slave, Ibn Abu Hafsah, on his shoulders.
He dragged him as he (Marwan) moaned. He kept telling him to remain silent else he should be heard and killed. He was able to bring him to a safe haven inside the tent of a woman who belonged to the tribe of ‘Anzah and treated him till he healed. Marwan freed him and let him participate with him in the Battle of the Camel and of Marj Rahit.(1)
‘Salih Ibn Atiyyah al-Adjam was angry with Marwan's verse “How can it be, and it shall not, etc.,” so he kept company with him for some time serving him till he and his family felt comfortable about him. When Ibn Abu Hafsah fell ill, ‘Salih acted as his nurse. Once those around the sick man had left with the exception of ‘Salih, the latter suffocated him and killed him, but none among his family suspected anything at all.(2)
Al-Husayn (‘a) transported his family [from Medina] to Iraq knowing that he and all those in his company would be killed. Why? He knew beforehand that his murder would be in vain if no eloquent tongues and determined persons acquainted the nation with the misguidance of Maysun's son and with the oppression of Marjana's son who attacked the pure progeny of the Prophet (S), and without the refutation of the bid’as which they had introduced in the sacred Shari’a.
The Father of the Oppressed realized that the
theologians were apprehensive of pretending to denounce the oppressive authority to which they surrendered. He was also informed of the imprisonment of many of them.
He concluded that even the greatest among them would not be able to expose the horror of what such authority was committing. What happened to Ibn ‘Afif al-Azdi underscores this reality which any clear conscience supports.
The Father of the Oppressed also knew that the ladies who were born in the Message were used to persevere during the time of calamity and when facing hardships, and difficulties, with hearts more firm than the mountains. They did not neglect, even under the most adverse of situations, to expose to the public the lies and falsehood resulting from what those misleading rulers were promoting as well as their ultimate goal of undermining the creed.
They rose with their Imam who sacrificed himself for the sake of the right creed only to bring the Shari’a of his grandfather, the Prophet (S), back to life.
Even while their hearts were on fire on account of the tragedy, and even when calamities plunged them into the deepest depression, the wise ladies belonging to the family of the Prophet (S) were largely prepared for revenge and for defending the sanctity of the creed.
Among them is [Zainab] the wise lady and daughter of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), peace of Allah be upon her, who was not deterred by captivity or by the humiliation of exile, or by losing dear ones, or even
by her enemy rejoicing at her misfortune, or by the wailing of the widows, the cries of the children, the moaning of the sick.
She often spoke out her mind to those ruffians even when she was between their claws and fangs, without stuttering a bit, hurling words like thunderbolts at their assembly. She, for example, stood before Marjana's son, the ill-begotten tyrant, the defenseless lady that she was, having none with her to protect her nor any of her family's men except the Imam's wali [Zain al-’Abidin] who was exhausted by sickness, in addition to women seeking refuge in her shadow, complaining, weeping, and children filled with the pain of thirst, and young ladies severely beset, while the severed head of the Imam (‘a) and those of his supporters and kinsfolk were all in front of her as the limbs were left in the desert for the sun to incinerate.
Even a single one of such calamities would overpower and shatter the mind of anyone.
Yet the daughter of Hayder (‘a) maintained a great deal of self-restraint and self-composure, so she delivered her speech as though she had been her father, a speech which was more forceful than the fiercest arrow, rendering the son of Marjana speechless as she said,
“These are people whom Allah decreed to be killed; so they came out welcoming their destiny. Allah will gather you and them, and arguments will be lodged against you, and you will be disputed; so, see whose lot will be the
crack of the fire, may your mother lose you, O son of Marjana.”
She made it clear for those who were unaware of his malice and meanness that he would never be able to wash away the shame and infamy of what he had committed. She baffled the minds and amazed everyone when she delivered another speech at Kufa's cemetery where people were confused, weeping, not knowing what to do.
Said she, “How can the shame and infamy of their killing the son of the Prophet, the substance of the Message, and the Master of the Youths of Paradise, ever be washed away from them? May their endeavour be rendered futile! May their hands perish! May their bargain be a loss, and may they be exposed to shame in the hereafter! Surely Allah's retribution is greater, had they only known.”
Having finished her speech, she was succeeded by [her younger niece] Fatima daughter of al-Husayn (‘a) who spoke eloquently while remaining unruffled, calm [the child that she was]. Her speech acted like spears that pierced the hearts.
People could not help raising their voice as they wept, and they came to realize the extent of the tragedy and the pain it inflicted. They said to her, “Suffices you what you have said, O daughter of the pure ones, for you have certainly burnt our hearts and slit our throats!”
She hardly finished when Umm Kulthum, Zainab daughter of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a), spoke [again]. Zainab described the horror which those misled people had
committed, whereupon everyone present wailed and cried, and nobody had ever witnessed more crying and weeping.(1)
One wonders whether anyone can deliver a speech under such a most grave situation, when one is surrounded by the swords of the oppressors, no matter how strong his tribe may be. Yet who else besides the daughters of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) could publicly expose the sins committed by the son of Hind and the son of Marjana?
Heavy burdens were placed on the tongues, and fear filled everyone's heart.
Yet all of this is looked upon as abominable had its benefits only been worldly and its motives the doing of one's insinuating self. But if it benefits the religion, such as clearing the faith introduced by the Messenger of Allah (S) from any falsehood that those adversaries had attached to it, there will be no ugliness in it according to reason and custom, and it is supported by the Shari’a.
Allah has exempted women from waging jihad and confronting the enemies, and Allah Almighty has required them to stay at home.
Yet such is the case when a confrontation like this is undertaken by the men. But when such an obligation is removed from them in a confrontational way from which they should refrain, the foundations of the Shari’a will be undermined, and the sacrifice of those elite ones will be cleared from any falsehood, women will then be required to do just that.
It is for this reason that the Head of the Women
of the World, Fatima al-Zahra’, peace be upon her, stood to defend Allah's supreme caliphate after the oath of allegiance had been sworn to someone else other than to the master of wasis [her husband, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (‘a), who was thus forcibly distanced from the political process], so she delivered a speech at the Mosque of the Prophet (S) which was very eloquent and which was witnessed by a large crowd of the Muhajirun and the Ansar.
But al-Husayn (‘a) had already been informed by his grandfather, al-Amin (S), that those folks, although they would have attained their goal, and although they would go to extremes in their villainy, they would not harm the women.
This is clear from a statement made by al-Husayn (‘a) in which he said to those women at the final farewell hour, “Put on your outer mantles and get ready for the test, and be informed that Allah will protect and safeguard you, and that He will save you from the evil of your adversaries and render the outcome of your cause righteousness.
He will torment your adversaries with all norms of torture, and He will compensate you for going through such a calamity with numerous types of blessings and graces. So, do not complain, and do not utter that which may demean your status.”
We can say all of this even if the master of the martyrs (‘a) had not been the Imam. But in the case of submitting to the encompassing knowledge of the
Imam, the knowledge of what was and of what will be, and his marching as directed by the best realistic interests, and his being infallible in everything he says and does, and it is the truth which cannot be refuted that we are bound to submit that all the divine wisdom he undertook and the divine interests are beyond any doubt..., we have to do nothing but to believe in all his actions without being bound by reason to know the interests served thereby. The same can be said about anything with which adults are obligated.
The servants of Allah are not required except to submit and surrender to their Lord without knowing the underlying motives behind what He orders them to do. The same case is applicable to the slaves with their masters. Reason does not require a slave to do anything more than obeying his master whenever the latter bids or forbids him.
One of the products of that sacred uprising and clear victory was a transformation in the outlook of the ‘Alawides, in their lineage and creed, and in that of those who developed some norm of attachment to Muhammad's Progeny, even when one concealed the opposite of what he revealed.
All of these were relentless in propagating the rightful cause, in weakening the government of falsehood, and in reminding the nation that there was a right that belonged to Muhammad's Progeny and which was usurped, and that they were obligated to sever the hand that usurped
it, hence those successive revolutions that brought a fresh hope to the hearts and to the desire to research the true guidance in order to find out where the truth lies.
The nation used to think that it was not possible to rise in the face of those who controlled its fate, and who ruled the Muslims, because of their might, and that to challenge the cruel authority would be futile; rather, the Shari’a prohibits anyone from tragically throwing himself in the pitfalls of perdition without gaining anything.
But the master of dignity and self-esteem, the Master of the Youths of Paradise, inspired the people who cared about the religion at the Taff incident with a loud scream to reject such an attitude, a scream the echo of which can still be heard by generations after generations. He called for the Shari’a mandating a revolution against every oppressor in the absence of any other means to subdue him.
Such is the level of conviction of those who make the attainment of restitution the motto of their revolution. So they will either score a victory, or their successors will, till the hopes are transformed into a glorious victory.
This is what we witness from the succession of revolutions that were the outcome of the Umayyads playing havoc with the pure Shari’a, hence al-Mukhtar's call for revenge for the wronged and the persecuted progeny of Muhammad (S).
Zayd Ibn ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn (‘a) and his son Yahya stood to earn the pleasure of the progeny of Muhammad
(S), and the remnant of the Hashemites demonstrated their denunciation of the oppressive rulers, leaping like lions to put an end to the sweeping torrent of misguidance.
If you contemplate on the biography of the Infallible descendants of the Messenger of Allah (S) and what the Master, Praise to Him, has bestowed upon them by making them the means to remove the thorns of abomination, and by their being the means to guide His servants to what is exemplary, you will clearly see their desire, peace be upon them, for waging such bloody brawls, aiming thereby to remind the nation of their being the most worthy of the post of successors of the holiest Messenger (S).
Anyone who foils their attempts to attain what belongs to them, that which the Creator, Praised is His Name, had allotted to them, deviates from the right path. Such an understanding is conceived and discussed because of such revolutions in various lands so that the argument against the nation will be completed. Nobody will then seek an excuse of being ignorant about the Imams appointed by the greatest Prophet (S).
If we come across statements made by some of the Imams of guidance denouncing or dissociating themselves from the ‘Alawides or others who revolted against oppressive rulers, it is only on account of the taqiyya, a safeguard against the schemes of the oppressive authority, so that such revolutions will not be attributed to them, for they would then face a dreadful fate.
Yes; there have been among
the revolutionaries those who used the persecution meted to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as a trap to hunt simpletons. [‘Abdullah] Ibn al-Zubayr, for example, used to extol the name of al-Husayn (‘a) and denounce the injustice done to him.
But when he took charge, he abandoned such a line, becoming the most bitter enemy of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, revealing what he had hidden in his chest. He, therefore, suspended [the custom of] blessing the Prophet (S) for full forty Jum’as. He was asked about his reason for doing so, whereupon he answered by saying,
“His Ahl al-Bayt are evil; whenever I mention his name, they become excited, and they become elated; therefore, I hated to bring happiness to their hearts by mentioning his name.”(1)
He was in reality encouraged to do so by Mu’awiyah. The latter heard the caller to the prayers reciting the kalima (which, of course, contains the name of Muhammad [S] as the Messenger of Allah), whereupon he commented by saying, “This brother of Banu Hashim yells his name five times a day saying, ‘AsHadu anna Muhammadan rasool-Allah' What deed can survive with something like this, may you lose your mother? By Allah, only burying it will, only burying it will.”(2)
When al-Ma'mun heard about this incident, he issued his orders to all regions to curse the Prophet (S) from the pulpits, but people thought that that was monstrous, indeed, and there was a great deal of uproar among the people, so much so that he was advised
to withdraw his orders, which he did.(1)
The ‘Abbasides pretended to express their love for al-Husayn (‘a), filling the air with their shouts denouncing the atrocities committed against the family of Muhammad (S) during the Taff Battle. Having attained their goal, however, they turned against Muhammad's family, wiping them from the face of earth.
Musa Ibn ‘Eisa, the ‘Abbaside (general) who commanded the assault at Fakhkh, said, “Had the Prophet opposed us, we would have struck his nose with the sword.”(2)
These and their likes are the ones from whom one's conscience is detached. They will never be protected against the Almighty's wrath although the nation benefitted from their eradication of its enemies who belonged to the offspring of Harb and Umayyah.
Harb's sons coveted to see
In him submission to force and oppression,
They tried to hunt his valiant heroes
Like birds they shook off humiliation and flew.
They wished to forcibly drag him into disgrace,
Though to dignity he was accustomed and to grace.
How could he swear and submit
To filth only for fear of death?
He refused, hence the event that
Shook the world in awe and in fright.
So he came in an army and marched
Against hosts that filled the plains,
He and lions from ‘Amr, exalted ones
Wearing for the brawl steadfastness.
They dealt blows in a desert where
Death became in the morrow their mark
So they exalted justice and were spent
Pure in honour, clean of filth they went.
They sacrificed souls great and precious
Too dignified to please the lowly ones.(3)
The Messenger of Allah (S) has said, “The killing of
al-Husayn (‘a) has left in the heart of the faithful a fire that will never die down.”
This tradition is recorded on p. 217, Vol. 2, of Mustadrak al-Wasa'il. Numerous poems have been and will be composed eulogizing the greatest epic of heroism in the history of mankind; here are some of them.
Muharram has come, so welcome it with takbir,
And scatter your tears on the earth
See in it the crescent as it manifests itself,
See how it is forlorn, contemplating, mourning.
Take off the mantle of patience and place it:
A yellow robe on one who with grief clothed you,
For with the robes of grief do I meet it,
Taking off what cheerful red robes decorated me.
It is a month destiny in it decreed
That the vilest of black dogs would deal
With the Lion of the valiant ones.
Allah! What a calamity he had to behold!
The heavens for it wept crimson blood.
A great misfortune, indeed, afflicted the creed,
For it did the Mother Town drape in black:
Can't you see how the sacred Haram sighs?
How his sighs would light the timber?
From its depths does Abu Qubays yearn
A yearning that reaches Hira’.
Al-Hatim knew of it, so it is grief-crushed,
Al-Safa knew of it, so it is serene no more,
And its mash’ars sensed the calamity,
And passion struck its Muhassir, so it sighed,
For Husayn is killed: what a tragedy!
On its account Islam became defenseless.(1)
Muharram is when joy is taboo,
When grief is a must, weeping is unavoidable.
A month wherein the seat of faith is in ruin.
Its crescent is a bow
That shot the heart
of guidance, the creed,
With the arrow of death and destiny.
Infidels and Muslims considered
Fighting in it a great sin.
Yet Harb's family in it fought the Lord of the heavens,
Permitting the spilling of the inviolable blood.
They violated the sanctity of the Haram's masters,
Committing that which caused the sky to rain blood.
O family of Harb! May you never see peace,
May none spare you from his censuring tongue!
On earth and in the heavens are you cursed,
By the mass of the living.
Be forewarned with woes and destruction,
And with torture on the Day the trumpet is blown.
How many free women of the Chosen Prophet
Did you rip apart?
How much blood of his offspring did you spill?
O nation of betrayal and disbelief!
O gang of misguidance, O fiends!
How will you look his grandfather in the eye
Having done what you did after him?
Like butchers you slaughtered his progeny,
Like slaves you herded his family.
You forgot the kindness bestowed upon you
On Mecca's Victory Day, when you were forgiven.
Had it not been for the moon-faced sons of Hashim,
A secret lost in the chest you would have been.
Through them did you ascend the pulpit,
And rose to the heights of eminence.(1)
When Mu’awiyah died in Damascus on Rajab 15, 60 A.H/April 24, 680 A.D., his son Yazid was in Hawran [Auranitis in Latin]. His shrouds were taken by al-Dahhak Ibn Qays who ascended the pulpit. Having praised and glorified Allah, he said, “Mu’awiyah used to be the Arab's bulwark, their supporter and great one.
Through him did Allah end dissensions, granting him authority over
His servants, conquering the lands through him. He has died, and these are his shrouds. In them shall we wrap him, and in his grave shall we place him, then shall we leave him and his deeds, and so shall the barzakh be till the Day of Judgment. Whoever among you wishes to view it, he may proceed.”
He offered the funeral prayers for him then buried him at the cemetery of Bab al-Sagheer (the Small Gate). He sent a letter to Yazid consoling him on the death of his father and advising him to go there as fast as he could in order to secure the renewal of the oath of allegiance to him(1).
He added a note at the bottom of the letter containing the following verses of poetry:
Alone did Abu Sufyan go,
Leaving you behind, so
Consider what you will after him do.
Follow the right order with us for you
Are our resort whenever we fret.
Having read it, Yazid said the following lines of poetry in response:(2)
A carrier with a letter came trotting,
Casting fear in the heart, frightening,
So we said: Woe unto you! What is the news?
Said he: The caliph became heavy, in pain:
The earth swayed, almost shaken,
As if uprooted were its every foundation.
One whose soul remains in apprehension
Almost brings about that which he does fear.
I found the mansion gate closed when I came near,
Ramla's voice wrecked my heart,
She did, indeed, rend it apart.
He set out to Damascus, reaching it three days after Mu’awiyah had already been buried.(3) Flanked by a
group of prominent personalities, al-Dahhak went out to welcome him. When Yazid reached them, al-Dahhak took him first to the site of Mu’awiyah's grave. Yazid prayed there then entered the city. Having ascended the pulpit, he said,
“O people! Mu’awiyah was one of Allah's servants. Allah bestowed His favours upon him then took his soul away. He is higher in status than those who succeeded him and lower than those who preceded him. I do not augment him for Allah, since He knows him better than me.
If He forgives him, it is only due to His mercy, and if He punishes him, it is on account of his own sins. I have been granted authority after him, and I do not feel sorry for anything that I sought, nor do I apologize for anything which I have forfeited.
When Allah decrees something, it comes to pass. Mu’awiyah used to transport you in the sea to invade, but I am not transporting any Muslim in the sea. And he used to let you spend your winter in the land of the Romans, but I am letting none of you spend his winter in any Roman land. He used to give you a third of what you collect, but I shall let you keep it all”.(1)
Nobody approached him to offer condolences before ‘Abdullah Ibn Humam al-Saluli came forward and said, “O commander of the faithful!
May Allah compensate you for your loss; may He bless you for what you have given us, and
may He assist you in ruling your subjects. You have surely suffered a great calamity and have been granted something great; so, you should thank Allah for what you have been granted and be patient about that wherein you have been tested, for you have lost the viceregent of Allah and been given the caliphate of Allah.
You have bidden farewell to a great man and been given something great indeed. Mu’awiyah has died and you have become our leader and the reigns of government have been placed in your hands. May Allah bring him to the sources of happiness, and may He enable you to do what is best.” Then he composed the following lines of poetry:
Be patient, O Yazid, you have parted with a great man,
And thank the One Who put you in charge.
No calamity has befallen the people, they know,
Your calamity is theirs; no issue is better than you.
You have dawned the custodian of all those
Who do uphold the creed,
So look after them as Allah looks after you.
The surviving Mu’awiyah did to us succeed
As you are consoled, while none is mourning you.
This opened the avenue for other speakers to speak.(1)
A man from Thaqif said to him, “Peace on you, O commander of the faithful, and Allah's mercy and blessings! You have been grieved by the loss of the best of fathers, and you have been given all things; so, be patient with regard to your tragedy, and praise Allah for granting you such a beautiful gift,
for none has been given as you have, nor has anyone been grieved as you have.”
People came to him to congratulate him and to offer their condolences. Yazid said, “We are the supporters of righteousness and the promoters of the creed. Rejoice, O people of Syria, for goodness has always been with you, and there will be a tragic epic between myself and the people of Iraq!
I have seen in my vision three nights ago that a river stood between me and the people of Iraq tumultuously flowing with blood, and I tried hard to cross it, but I could not till ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad crossed it before me as I looked at him!”
The Syrians shouted, “Take us wherever you wish, for our swords, with which the people of Iraq are familiar since the Battle of Siffin, are on your side.” He thanked them and distributed to them a lot of money.
He then wrote the governors of various countries informing them of the death of his father and keeping them in their jobs. He dispatched to Iraq ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad according to the advice of Serjun [Sargon], slave of his father Mu’awiyah He wrote the following letter to al-Walid Ibn ‘Utbah, governor of Medina:
“Mu’awiyah was one of Allah's servants. Allah bestowed upon him generously and preferred him and granted him authority over others. Then He took him to the world of the souls and to fragrance, to His mercy and punishment. He lived according to destiny, and he died
according to a term, and he had enjoined me to beware of the descendants of Abu Turab due to their courage in killing.
I have come to know, O Walid, that Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, will seek revenge for ‘Uthman through the descendants of Abu Sufyan because they are the supporters of justice and the seekers of equity. So, when you receive this letter, take the oath of allegiance from the people of Medina.”
Then he attached a small piece of scroll wherein he wrote: “Be tough with al-Husayn, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Ibn al-Khattab, son of the second caliph], ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr [son of the first caliph], and ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr [a cousin of ‘Ayesha, wife of the Prophet, later on ruler of Hijaz] when you require them to swear the oath of allegiance [to me]. Whoever refuses, kill him and send his severed head to me.”(1)
The governor carried his instructions out. At mid-night, he called for al-Husayn (‘a) and [‘Abdullah] Ibn al-Zubayr in the hope that he would secure their oath of allegiance before everyone else. His messenger, ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn ‘Amr Ibn [son of the third caliph] ‘Uthman Ibn Affan(2) located them at the Prophet's Mosque.
Ibn al-Zubayr became apprehensive of such an invitation which came not at the time when the governor used to hold his open public meetings(3), but the Hujjah of his time, al-Husayn (‘a) of reform, acquainted him with a piece of news from the unknown, telling him that Mu’awiyah had died, and that
they were being sought to swear the oath of allegiance for and to support Yazid due to a vision which he had seen wherein he saw Mu’awiyah's house burning and his pulpit turned upside down.(1)
The son of Maysun desired to steer the creed,
Played havoc with Allah's religion his every evil deed.
So to succor the Shari’a, the cub of the clement and the grand
Who, with his saber's blood, caused its very foundations to stand.
Surrounded he was once he tested the folks
A group whose virtues aspired to reach the peaks.
Who is more brave than one brought up by Hayder
And brought in the birds' towns by his grandfather?
A group for the religion is always ready to sacrifice
Though few in number, yet in will unflinching.
Till they all fell in defense of the Shari’a
As lions defend their den.
Hind's son wanted, but he did fail
To see Husayn's will with oppression bent.
But the father of deeply rooted honour
Refused to wear the robe of humiliation
So long as the sword was his companion.
How could he bend to the evil band
To the sons of Sumayya and Maysun,
While the sword in his hand did stand?
So he charged like an angry lion
At them as he was sought by his foe
Who with his sword wanted to deal a blow.
In their necks did he let his polished sword
Issue without an appeal its judgment and word,
Till he brought the faith anew
With the blood of the Prophet's issue.
His grandson was needed by his creed
To water its thirsty and drying field.(2)
Husayn's decision with regard to meeting the
governor at that time became clear to Ibn al-Zubayr, so he suggested to him not to do so for fear of being assassinated. Al-Husayn (‘a) explained to him his ability to avoid it.(1)
Thirty of al-Husayn's slaves, followers and family members(2) were instructed to raise their arms as they stood at the door and to rush to his rescue should they hear him raising his voice; he himself was armed with the Prophet's staff. When the meeting started with the presence of Abu ‘Abdullah, Imam al-Husayn (‘a), al-Walid informed him of Mu’awiyah's death and asked him to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid.
He (‘a) said, “A man like me does not swear fealty away from people's eyes. When you invite people to swear it, invite us, too. This way it will be one single matter.”(3)
Al-Walid was convinced, but Marwan immediately interfered saying, “Should he part with you now without swearing it, you will never be able to secure it from him again till many of your people are killed, but confine the man till he either swears the oath of allegiance, or you kill him.”
Then he directed his attention to al-Walid as he said, “O Amir! We are members of the household of the Prophet, the substance of the [Divine] Message, and the ones visited by the angels. Allah initiates by us, and so does
Yazid is a wine drinker, a killer of the prohibitive soul, a man who commits sins in the open. A man like me does not swear the oath of allegiance to a man like him, but we will see the morning, and so will you; we shall see and so will you as to who among us is more worthy of the caliphate.”(1)
It was then that al-Walid started using rough language with the Imam (‘a), whereupon nineteen men with unsheathed daggers assaulted and forcibly snatched al-Husayn (‘a) out and brought him home.(2)
Marwan said to al-Walid, “You did not listen to me! By Allah! You will never be able to do it again!” “Rebuke someone else,” al-Walid said, “O Marwan! You chose for me the doing of that which would cause my creed to perish. Should I kill Husayn just for refusing to swear the oath of allegiance?
By Allah! I do not think that the scales of anyone who will be tried on the Day of Judgment for spilling al-Husayn's blood will be anything but light, nor will Allah look upon him, nor will He purify him, and he will have a painful torment!”(3)
Asma’ daughter of ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn al-Harith Ibn Hisham, al-Walid's wife, reprimanded her husband for the way he treated al-Husayn (‘a), so he sought an excuse by saying that it was al-Husayn (‘a) who started taunting him. “Would you taunt him and his father if he taunts you?” she asked him. “No,” said he, “I shall
never do that.”(1)
In the same night, al-Husayn (‘a) visited the grave of his grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S). A beam of light emanated from the grave for him.(2) He, thereupon, said,
Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I am al-Husayn son of Fatima, your son and the son of your daughter and your grandson whom you appointed to take charge of your nation! Testify against them, O Prophet of Allah, that they betrayed me and did not safeguard my right. This is my complaint to you till I meet you.
He kept bowing and prostrating till morning.(3)
Al-Walid dispatched someone to inquire about the whereabouts of al-Husayn (‘a). Since that messenger did not find the Imam (‘a) at home, he thought that he (‘a) had left Medina, so he praised Allah for not exposing him to a difficult situation on account of al-Husayn (‘a).
In the morning, Marwan met Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a), so he admonished him as he would his own likes to: swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid since in it, he said, “is the goodness of the creed and the life of this world.” Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon” (We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return), adding, “Bid farewell to Islam if the nation is afflicted by a caretaker like Yazid.
I have heard my grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S) say, ‘Sufyan's offspring are prohibited from the caliphate;(4) so, if you see Mu’awiyah on my pulpit, you must rip his
stomach open.' The people of Medina did, indeed, see him on that pulpit, but they did not rip his stomach open; therefore, Allah afflicted them with Yazid, the reprobate.” Their dialogue continued for a long time till Marwan left angrily.(1)
In the second night, al-Husayn (‘a) again visited the grave of his grandfather. He offered prayers then said, “O Allah! This is the grave of Your Prophet Muhammad (S), and I am the son of Your Prophet's daughter, and I am encountering that of which You are fully aware.
O Allah! I love the doing of good, and I hate abomination. I plead to You, O Lord of Glory and Honour, by the status of this grave and by the one inside it to choose for me what best pleases You and Your Messenger,” then he wept.
Shortly before sunrise, he placed his head on the grave and slept. He saw in his vision the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny, surrounded by a large crowd of angels on his right and left and in front of him. He hugged al-Husayn (‘a) and kissed his forehead then said, “My loved one, O Husayn! Your father, mother and brother have all come to me, and they are eager to see you.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) then wept and asked his grandfather to take him with him and to let him enter his grave. But the most holy Prophet refused to do so before his grandson was to do that
which would earn him his rewards in a way that the Great One, Praise to Him, prefers on the Day of Argument.
He (S) said, “You have to be granted martyrdom so that you will receive the great rewards Allah has allotted for you. You, your father, your uncle, and the uncle of your father will all be gathered on the Day of Judgment in one group till you enter Paradise.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) woke up then narrated his vision to his family whose grief and weeping intensified.(1) They all realized that time had come to witness what the Messenger of Allah (S) had beforehand promised them to undergo, and due to their concern about the noor of Prophethood being veiled from them, so they would then lose the sublime rewards they all aspired to attain. They surrounded al-Husayn (‘a) and asked him to either assent to Yazid's wish or to go far away from that land.
‘Umar al-Atraf then said to him, “O son of the Commander of the Faithful!(2) Abu Muhammad, al-Hasan (‘a), told me that his father, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), had told him that you would be slain. If you swear fealty, it will be better for you.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “My father told me that the Messenger of Allah (S) had told him of his murder and mine, and that his resting place would be close to mine. Do you think that you know what I do not know? I shall never yield to
lowliness. Fatima (‘a) shall meet her father (S) complaining of what her offspring suffered at the hands of his nation, and none who had harmed her offspring shall ever enter Paradise.”(1)
‘Umar Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib came once to al-Mukhtar when the latter revolted in Kufa. Al-Mukhtar asked him, “Is Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya with you?” He answered in the negative, whereupon he dismissed him, so he marched on to Mis’ab till he participated in the battle and was killed among those who were killed there and then.(2)
Fatima is bound to come on the Judgement Day,
With her shirt stained with Husayn's blood.
Woe to one who seeks intercession from his adversaries,
When the Trumpet is blown on the Judgment Day.(3)
Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya said(4), “Brother! I love you more than I love anyone else, and I cherish you the most, and I do not advise anyone as I advise you. You deserve such an advice most. Abandon both your fealty to Yazid son of Mu’awiyah and the metropolises, too, as much as you can, then send your messengers to people.
If they swear the oath of allegiance to you, praise Allah for it, but if they rally behind someone else, Allah will not have diminished aught of your creed or wisdom, and your magnanimity and distinction will not have been wasted. I fear for you lest you should enter one of these metropolises and people will split into parties, some with you and some against you, then they might fight with one another, and you
will be the first person sought by their lances.
So, you will either remain the best of this nation in person and in lineage, or the one whose blood is spilled most vainly and whose family is humiliated the most.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) asked him, “Where should I go?” Muhammad said, “Settle in Mecca. If you do not find yourself comfortable there, you should seek the sands and mountain passes, and you should move from one country to another till you see what the people decide to do.
Your view will be the most wise and your actions the most terse when you are ahead of events. Things will be most complicated for you if you turn your back to them.”(1)
Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Brother! Had there been on earth neither resort nor a hiding place for me at all, I would still refuse to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid son of Mu’awiyah.” It was then that Muhammad interrupted his statement when he burst out weeping.
Al-Husayn (‘a) then said to him, “Brother! May Allah reward you well. You have offered your advice and given a terse suggestion, and I am determined to go to Mecca. My brothers, nephews, and supporters see what I see, and their view is my view. As for you, you may stay in Medina so that you may keep an eye on them and not conceal anything of their affairs from me.”(2)
Imam Husayn (‘a) left Ibn al-Hanafiyya and entered the [Prophet’s] Mosque as he recited these verses:
ones are not frightened in the morning
By an assailant, nor shall I be called a Yazid(1);
Should I, fearing death, to injustice yield,
While the fates watch over me against deviating?(2)
Abu Sa’id al-Maqbari heard him, so he realized that he was undertaking a great matter(3).
Umm Salamah said, “Do not cause me grief by going to Iraq, for I heard your grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S) saying, ‘My son al-Husayn will be killed in the land of Iraq in a tract of land called Karbala’,' and I have a specimen of your grave's soil in a bottle which the Prophet (S) had given me.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) said to her, “Mother! And I, too, know that I will be slain unjustly and oppressively, and the Omnipotent has decreed to see my family and followers in chains, seeking help and finding none to offer it to them.”
Umm Salamah then asked him, “How strange! How do you march there knowing that you will for sure be killed?” The Imam (‘a) said to her, “Mother! If I do not die today, I will tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the day after.
By Allah! There is no avoiding death. And I even know the day when I will be killed, and the time when I will be killed, and the grave in which I will be buried just as I know you, and I look at it just as I look at you. If you wish, mother, I can show you my grave and those of
my followers.” She asked him to do so, whereupon he showed her the graves of his companions.(1)
Then he gave her a little of that soil, telling her to keep it in a bottle. Once she saw it boiling in blood, she would know that he had been slain. On the tenth day of the month of Muharram, in the after-noon, she looked at both bottles [the one given to her by the Messenger of Allah and the other given to her by Imam Husayn (‘a)]; they were both boiling in blood.(2)
His departure very much grieved the daughters of Banu ‘Abd al-Muttalib who assembled for a group mourning. “I plead to you in the Name of Allah,” al-Husayn (‘a) said to them after going to their place of gathering, “not to reveal this matter in disobedience to Allah and His Messenger (S).”
They said, “Who should we save weeping and mourning for, since the day of your departure to us is like the demise of the Messenger of Allah (S), that of ‘Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan (‘a), Zainab, or Umm Kulthum?! We plead to you, may Allah consider us as your sacrificial ransom from your own demise, O one loved by the righteous from among those who reside in the graves!” Some of his paternal aunts informed him that they had heard a voice saying:(3)
The one slain at al-Taff from Banu Hashim
Dishonoured necks from Quraish, so they are abased.
Al-Husayn (‘a) admonished her to be patient, telling her that that was something
Abdullah son of [second caliph] ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab asked al-Husayn (‘a) to remain in Medina, but al-Husayn (‘a) refused saying, “O ‘Abdullah! One of the reasons why this whole world is worthless in the eyes of Allah is that the head of Yahya (John the Baptist) was given as a present to one of the tyrants of the Israelites, and that my head will be given as a present to one of the Umayyad tyrants. Have you not come to know that the Israelites used to kill seventy prophets as the sun rose then buy and sell as if they did nothing?!
Yet Allah was not swift in punishing them. After some time, He seized them, the Omnipotent and the Vengeful Lord that He is.”(1)
Once Ibn ‘Umar was convinced that al-Husayn (‘a) was determined to leave Medina and to face the promoters of misguidance in order to put an end to abominations and to remove the thorns from the path of the sacred Shari’a, he said to him (‘a),
“O Abu ‘Abdullah! Please uncover for me the place where the Messenger of Allah used to always kiss you.” The Imam (‘a) unveiled his navel for him, and he kissed it thrice then burst in tears.(2) The Imam (‘a) then said to him, “Fear Allah, O father of ‘Abdul-Rahman, and do not abandon your support for me.”(3)
Before leaving Medina, al-Husayn (‘a) wrote his will in which he stated:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
is the will of al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (‘a) to his brother Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya. Al-Husayn testifies that there is no god except Allah, the One and Only God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad (S) is His servant and Messenger who brought the truth from Him, that Paradise is right, and that hell is right, that the Hour is approaching; there is no doubt about it, and that Allah will resurrect those in the graves.
I did not march out exultingly, nor recklessly, nor seeking to make corruption in the land, nor to oppress anyone. Rather, I marched out seeking to reform my grandfather's nation. I desire to enjoin what is right and to forbid what is wrong and to follow the Sunnah of my grandfather and of my father ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib.
So, whoever accepts me an acceptance of righteousness, Allah is the Master of what is right, and whoever refuses, I shall persevere till Allah judges between me and the people; surely He is the best of judges. This is my will to you, brother, and my success comes only from Allah; upon Him do I rely, and to Him is my return.”
He folded it, sealed it, then handed it to his brother Muhammad.(1)
With his heart did he raise the flag of guidance,
With his splendour shattered the darkness of the blind.
Through him this Shari’a was corrected,
And its lofty corners towered.
Glories were built through his determination,
The creed grew green only through his blood.
With his life he bought the
life of the creed,
What a precious price he paid indeed!
With his soul he brought life to guidance,
With his wounds the creed's wounds he healed.
Gardens of knowledge with simum winds dried,
None watered them but the oppressed one's blood.
So mellow leaves their trees grew,
Fragrant, fresh in taste and in hue.
He raised those for whom they did fight and fall,
Till the creed, after he slipped, stood quite tall.
Through him the pillars of Tawhid stood,
Since they resorted to their mighty support,
Through him they turned into lofty domes,
And they did become comfortable homes
For knowledge, the Sunnah, and the Book.
Like a spring it gushed forth for its seekers,
With the water of life, though he died of thirst,
Killed with thirst, while in his insides
Is Allah's nourishment for those whom He guides.
His insides from thirst burnt like fire,
So sacred clouds rained blood with ire.(1)
Al-Husayn (‘a) left Medina for Mecca on the eve of a Sunday, two days before the end of Rajab, accompanied by his offspring, brothers, and the offspring of his brother al-Hasan (‘a) together with his family(2) He kept reciting this verse from the Holy Qur’an:
“So he went out of it fearful, apprehensive. Said he: Lord! Save me from the oppressive people!” (Qur’an, 28:21).
The Imam (‘a) took the main highway, whereupon some people suggested to him to take a side route as Ibn al-Zubayr had done, perhaps he would not be caught by those who sought to arrest him. “No, by Allah,” said the Imam (‘a), “I shall not abandon it till
Allah carries out His will.”
He reached Mecca on a Friday, three days after the beginning of the month of Sha’ban as he was reciting,
“When he went in the direction of Midyan, he said: Perhaps my Lord will guide me to the right way”(1) (Qur’an, 28:22).
He stayed at the house of al-’Abbas Ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib(2) here the people of Mecca and those who went there for the ‘umra met him, and so did those who came from the suburbs.
[‘Abdullah] Ibn al-Zubayr was camping near the Ka’ba as al-Husayn (‘a) kept meeting people. It was hard for him to see al-Husayn (‘a) entering Mecca because he (‘a) was greater than him and more prestigious and because people were more willing to swear fealty to him; so, nobody would go to Ibn al-Zubayr to swear it to Yazid.
Al-Husayn (‘a) went out one day to visit the grave of his grandmother Khadija. He prayed there then supplicated to Allah for a good while.(3)
My heart do I present to the noble ones who
To nobility they saddled their mounts
Trailed by fates, troubled with eulogies,
A caravan for whom Paradise is the destination,
Passing through many a trial and tribulation,
The earth shrunk for a man like al-Husayn,
Not knowing a haven, an entrance,
Seeking security in the desert while
Being ever apprehensive of Banu Sufyan.
The Sacred House was honoured by him,
After blindness, his line became clear to all.
O perturbed one! None other than the light
Of your will can guide anyone at all.
Vast in munificence, to space confined,
Should anyone else
be with calamity strained?
Who would from his trouble free?
O king! You did your own subjects oppress
Your Lord decreed caliphate should you possess.(1)
In Mecca, al-Husayn (‘a) wrote one copy of a letter that he arranged to be circulated to the five individuals charged with collecting the khums from the Muslims of Basra. They were: Malik Ibn Musmi’ al-Bakri(2), al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays, al-Munthir Ibn Jarud,(3) Mas’ud Ibn ‘Amr, Qays Ibn al-Haytham, and ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ubayd Ibn Mu’ammar. He sent his letter with one of his slaves named Sulayman(4) and its text was as follows:
“Allah chose Muhammad (S) from among His creation and blessed him with being His Prophet. He chose him to convey His Message, then He took him away after he had advised His servants and conveyed the Message with which he was entrusted. We are his family, supporters, wasis, heirs, and the most worthy of all people of his status.
Yet our people usurped our right, so we put up with it out of fear of disunity and out of love for people's safety, knowing that we were most worthy of what belongs to us than those who took it away from us.
I am sending my messenger with this letter to invite you to the Book of Allah and to the Sunnah of His Prophet, for this Sunnah has been killed, while bid’a has already been revived. If you listen to me, I shall show you the path of guidance.”
Al-Munthir Ibn al-Jarud al-’Abdi handed al-Husayn's messenger to
Ibn Ziyad who crucified the messenger during the night. Then he went out in the morning to Kufa in order to reach it before al-Husayn.(1) Bahriyya daughter of al-Munthir was Ibn Ziyad's wife. Al-Munthir lied to her, saying that that messenger had been sent to spy on Ibn Ziyad. Al-Ahnaf wrote al-Husayn (‘a) saying, “Be patient, for Allah's promise is true, and do not let those who have no conviction take you for granted.”(2)
As for Yazid Ibn Mas’ud(3), he gathered Banu Tamim, Banu Hanzalah and Banu Sa’d. When they all assembled, he said, “O Banu Tamim! How do you see my status among you and my lineage?” They said, “Very good, very good, indeed! You, by Allah, are our backbone and the source of our prestige. In distinction, you are the most distinguished one, and in lineage you are ahead of everyone else.”
He said, “Then I have gathered you for a matter about which I wish to consult you and for which I seek your support.” They said, “By Allah! We shall grant you our advice and still find your view the best; so, say what you wish, and let us hear you.”
He said, “Mu’awiyah died. It is better, by Allah, to see him dead and lost! The flank of oppression is now crumbled and the corners of injustice weakened. He had undertaken a fealty for which he thought he did his best to secure. Far away, indeed, is he from the truth, though he tried very hard to
achieve what he wanted.
By Allah, he has failed; he sought advice then betrayed those who offered it to him! Yazid has now taken charge! Yazid, who drinks wine and is the source of all evil, now claims to be the caliph of the Muslims. He now rules them without their agreement, the youth that he is, and the ignorant one that he is, the man who does not know where his foot should stand in order to be right.
I swear by Allah a true oath that waging jihad against him is better than waging it against the polytheists. Al-Husayn is the son of ‘Ali and the son of the Messenger of Allah (S), the one whose prestige is pure, whose view is the wisest. His distinction can never be described enough, and his knowledge never ends.
He is more worthy of taking charge on account of his record, seniority, accomplishments and kinship to the Prophet (S). He is kind to the young and benevolent to the elderly. He is an excellent care-taker when taking care of his flocks and an excellent Imam from among people obedience to whom is mandated by Allah Through him is your proof and argument.
Wisdom is perfected through him; so, do not be blind from seeing the light of guidance, nor should you remain idle from suppressing falsehood. You betrayed Sakhr Ibn Qays during the Battle of the Camel, so wash away that stigma by marching out to support the son of the Messenger of
Allah (S) and by helping him.
Should any of you fall short of assisting him, he will be given by Allah the shame that his offspring will inherit, while his tribe's number will be diminished. Here I am outfitted for war. One who is not killed will still die, and one who flees will never escape from death; so, be good, may Allah have mercy on you, in providing your answer.”
Banu Hanzalah said, “O Abu Khalid! We are the arrows in your quiver and the knights of your tribe! When you fight with us, victory will be on your side, and when you assault, you will be the conqueror. By Allah! You shall not enter in any battle without us, nor will you, by Allah, face hardship without us being on your side. We shall support you with our swords and protect you, if it pleases you, even with our bare hands.”
Banu ‘Amir Ibn Tamim spoke out saying, “O Abu Khalid! We are your brothers and allies! We are not pleased when you are angry, nor do we stay when you depart. The matter is in your hands, so order us as you please.”
Banu Sa’d Ibn Zayd spoke out saying, “O Abu Khalid! The most hateful to us is to do anything against your wish or to disobey you. Sakhr Ibn Qays had ordered us to abandon the battlefield during the Battle of the Camel, so we abided by his order and maintained our honour. Grant us a respite, therefore,
so that we may consult each other, then we will let you know of our decision.” He said to them, “Should you do that, may Allah never remove oppression from you or stop you from killing one another...”
He then wrote al-Husayn (‘a) saying, “Your letter reached me, and I understood the task for which you seek my assistance.
You have called upon me to shoulder my share of the responsibility of obeying you so that I may win the rewards of having supported you. Allah has never deprived the world of a doer of good, or without someone to guide others to the path of salvation. You are the Argument of Allah against His creation and His trust on earth.
You branched out of an Ahmedi olive tree, the stem of which is the Prophet (S) while you are its branches. Come to us, may you be the recipient of glad tidings, for the descendants of Tamim are at your service, and I have left them racing to obey you faster than thirsty camels seeking water. Banu Sa’d, too, are at your command: rain water washed their hearts of any uncleanness, so they shine as brightly as lightning.”
When al-Husayn (‘a) read his letter, he said, “May Allah grant you security on the Day of Extreme Fear, and may He grant you dignity and permit you to quench your thirst on the Day of extreme thirst.”
(When Ibn Mas’ud was making preparations to march, news of al-Husayn (‘a) being killed reached him,
so he was very grieved and sorrowful for having lost the opportunity to realize eternal happiness through the avenue of martyrdom.(1))
Mariyya daughter of Sa’d (or Munqith) was a bondmaid and a sincere Shi’a. Her house was the place where other Shi’as used to meet to discuss the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). Yazid Ibn Nabit, who belonged to the tribe of ‘Abd al-Qays, said to his ten sons, “Who among you will join me in marching?”
Two of them, namely ‘Abdullah and ‘Ubaydullah, came forth. At the house of that lady, he was addressed by his followers thus: “We fear for you the retribution of Ibn Ziyad.” He said, “By Allah! Should camels' hooves be flattened because of the lengthy way, I would still place myself at the service of the one who has sought my support.”(2)
‘Amir, his slave, accompanied him, and so did Sayf Ibn Malik and al-Adham Ibn Umayyah(3) They joined al-Husayn (‘a) at Mecca, adding their strength to his, till they reached Karbala’ where they were all martyred.
While still in Mecca, al-Husayn (‘a) received the letters sent to him by the people of Kufa. Some letters were written by single individuals, others contained two, three, or four signatures, all requesting him to go there because they did not have an Imam. They wrote saying that they never prayed congregational or Friday prayers with al-Nu’man.
Many letters were delivered to him, so much so that he received a total of as many as twelve thousand letters.
He did not answer any of them. The last letter he received was sent by Shabath Ibn Rab’i, Hijar Ibn Abjar, Yazid Ibn al-Harith, ‘Izrah Ibn Qays, ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj, and Muhammad Ibn ‘Omayr Ibn ‘Utarid. The latter's letter stated the following:
“The people are waiting for you. They accept no views other than yours; so, hurry, O son of the Messenger of Allah, for the grass is green, the fruits are ripe, and the trees are full of leaves. Come, if you will, for you will be coming to hosts already recruited for you.”(1)
As many as the seeds were the letters he did receive:
Saying: Come to Iraq, to those who connive and deceive;
Caliphate has neither guardian nor anyone worthy of it,
While you are the best of those who deserve it.
So he came with hardened men like lions,
Like the leopards in their forests,
Mounted were those whose faces were
Like the moons shining, glorious, virtuous.
He crossed the sierra, reaching al-Taff and
In their courtyards he did settle.
The horse stopped, so he said: Karbala’ is this,
Why did not your eyes avoid it at all?
Alight, for its flanks
Are cut only for our graves.
Descending, mending his sword
To cut the helmets on their heads,
As he looked around, he saw the flags
Of betrayal, of treachery.
Never for a moment did I believe it could or it might
A shining moon would in the desert be so bright,
And the sons of the blue woman would in its light
And in its halo receive the night.(2)
When letters filled two saddlebags, al-Husayn
(‘a) wrote them one letter which he gave to Hani Ibn Hani al-Subay’i and Sa’id Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Hanafi. These were the last of his messengers. Its text was:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Benevolent, the Most Merciful
“Hani and Sa’id brought me your letters, and they are the last to deliver them to me. I understand what you narrate, and the gist of most of your letters is: “We have no Imam; so, come to us, perhaps Allah will gather us with you on the path of guidance and righteousness.”
I have sent you my brother and cousin and the confidant of my Ahl al-Bayt and ordered him to write me with regard to your conditions, views and intentions.
So, if he writes me saying that your view is united with that of those of distinction and wisdom from among you and in agreement with what your messengers and letters state, I shall, by the Will of Allah, come to you very soon. By my life, an Imam is one who acts upon the Book [of Allah] and implements justice and follows the path of righteousness; he dedicates himself to follow Allah's Commandments, and peace be with you”.(1)
He handed his letter to Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil saying, “I am dispatching you to the people of Kufa, and Allah shall deal with you as He pleases. I wish that both of us should be in the status of the martyrs; so, proceed with Allah's blessing and help. Once you get there, stay
with the most trustworthy of its people.”(1)
With Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil (‘a), al-Husayn (‘a) sent Qays Ibn Mushir al-Saidawi, ‘Imarah Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Saluli, and ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Azdi. He enjoined Muslim to fear Allah, and to find out what the people of Kufa had collectively decided to do. If he saw them united and trustworthy, he should rush a letter to him.(2)
Muslim left Mecca on the fifteenth of the month of Ramadhan(3) using the Medina highway. He reached Medina and went to the Mosque of the Prophet (S), then he bade his family farewell(4) after having hired two road guides from the tribe of Qays.
One night the road guides were lost, and they became extremely thirsty. And it was very hot. They said to Muslim (‘a) once they recognized some road marks, “Take yonder road and follow it, perhaps you will be saved.” He, therefore, left them, following their advice. Both road guides died of thirst.(5)
He could not carry them because they were about to pass away. What those road guides had actually seen was not the road itself but some landmarks leading thereto. The distance between them and water was not known, and they were unable to ride on their own, nor could they ride with someone else. Had Muslim (‘a) stayed with them, he, too, would have perished.
The most urgent matter was to preserve precious lives and to continue the march till water could be reached, hence his decision to abandon them where they were.
Muslim and those serving him barely survived till they reached the highway and the water source where they rested for a while.
Muslim sent a letter to al-Husayn (‘a) with a messenger whom he hired from those who settled near that water source. He told him about the death of the road guides, about the hardship he underwent, and that he was staying at a narrow passage at Batn al-Khabt awaiting his instructions.
The messenger met al-Husayn (‘a) at Mecca and delivered the letter to him. Al-Husayn (‘a) wrote him back ordering him to continue his march to Kufa without any delay.
Having read the letter, Muslim immediately resumed his trip and passed by a watering place belonging to the tribe of Tay. He alighted there then departed. He saw a man shooting and killing a deer, so he took it as a sign of good omen: the killing of his foe.(1)
On the twenty-fifth of Shawwal, he entered Kufa(2) and stayed with al-Mukhtar Ibn Abu ‘Ubayd al-Thaqafi(3) who was highly respected among his people, a generous man, a man of ambition and daring, one well experienced and determined, and a formidable opponent of the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them.
He was a wise man, a man of great discretion especially with regard to the rules of the battle and the means of subduing the foe. His experience taught him wisdom. He underwent calamities from which he learned self-discipline. He kept company with the Progeny of the most holy
Prophet (S), so he benefitted from their ethics and virtuous morals, and he sought their advice publicly and privately.
The Shi’as went in hordes to meet Muslim as he stayed at al-Mukhtar's house and expressed to him their obedience. This increased his happiness and elation. When he read to them al-Husayn's letter, ‘Abis Ibn Shibib al-Shakiri stood and said, “I do not speak about the people, nor do I know what they conceal in their hearts, nor do I deceive you in their regard.
By Allah! I can tell you what I personally have decided to do. By Allah! I shall respond to your call, and I shall fight your enemy. I shall defend you with my sword till I meet Allah desiring nothing except what He has in store for me.”
Habib Ibn Muzahir said, “You have briefly stated your intention, and by Allah, the One and only God, I feel exactly the same.”
Sa’id Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Hanafi made a similar statement.(1)
According to al-Sha’bi, the number of those who swore allegiance to him reached forty thousand.(4) It was then that Muslim wrote al-Husayn (‘a) a letter which he handed to ‘Abis Ibn Shibib al-Shakiri informing him of the consensus among the people of Kufa to obey him and to wait for his arrival.
In it, he said,
“A scout does not lie to his people. Eighteen thousand Kufians have already come to me; so, hurry and come here as soon as this letter reaches you.”(1)
That was twenty-seven days prior to Muslim's martyrdom.(2)
The Kufians, too, added to it their own letter wherein they stated the following: “Hurry and come to us, O son of the Messenger of Allah! A hundred thousand swords are in Kufa on your side; so, do not tarry.”(3)
This angered a group of the Umayyads with vested interests. Among them were ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d Ibn Abu Waqqas, ‘Abdullah Ibn Muslim Ibn Rabi’ah al-Hadrami, and ‘Imarah Ibn ‘Uqbah Ibn Abu Mu’it. They wrote Yazid warning him of the arrival of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil and the rallying of the people of Kufa behind him, adding that al-Nu’man Ibn Bashir was not strong enough to stand in his [‘Aqil’s] way.(4)
Yazid solicited the advice of his slave Serjun(5) who was also his scribe and entertainer. Serjun said, “‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad is your man!”
“There is no good in him,” said Yazid. Serjun asked him, “Had Mu’awiyah been alive and suggested to you to employ him [as governor of Kufa], would you then do so?” Yazid answered in the affirmative. “Mu’awiyah had given him his own seal, and nothing stopped me from recommending him except my knowledge of how much you hate him.” Yazid, therefore, dispatched ‘Ubaydullah to Kufa and deposed al-Nu’man Ibn Bashir.
He wrote the latter saying, “One who is praised will one day be condemned, and one who
is condemned will one day be praised. You are named for a task wherein the first part of this statement applies to you.”
Elevated, you were, reaching the clouds and beyond,
What ails you so you, crippled, watch the sun?(1)
He ordered Ibn Ziyad to rush to Kufa in the company of Muslim Ibn ‘Umar al-Bahili, al-Munthir Ibn al-Jarud, and ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith Ibn Nawfal escorted by five hundred soldiers whom he hand-picked from among the people of Basra.
Ibn Ziyad rushed to Kufa, paying no attention to anyone who fell off his horse due to exhaustion even if he were one of his own closest friends.
Even when Shurayk Ibn al-A’war fell on the way, and even when ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith fell, thinking that Ibn Ziyad would slow down for their sake, Ibn Ziyad paid no attention to them for fear al-Husayn (‘a) would reach Kufa before him. When he reached al-Qadisiyya, his slave Mahran fell down.
Ibn Ziyad said to him, “If you remain thus on foot and reach the [governor's] mansion, your reward will be a hundred thousand [dinars].” Mahran said, “By Allah I cannot do that!” ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad abandoned him on the highway then disguised in Yemeni clothes and put on a black turban.
He rode alone and whenever he passed by a checkpoint, its guards thought that he was al-Husayn (‘a), so they said, “Welcome, O son of the Messenger of Allah!” He remained silent till he reached Kufa via the Najaf highway.(2)
When he arrived, people welcomed him and
said in one voice: “Welcome, O son of the Messenger of Allah!” This only intensified his ire.
He continued his march till he reached the governor's mansion. Al-Nu’man did not open the gate for him, and he spoke to him from the mansion's roof-top. Said he, “I shall not return the trust to you, O son of the Messenger of Allah!” Ibn Ziyad said to him, “Open the gate, for your night has extended for too long!”(1)
A man heard his voice and recognized him. He, therefore, said to the people, “He is Ibn Ziyad, by the Lord of the Ka’ba!”(2) They, thereupon, dispersed, each going back home.
In the morning, Ibn Ziyad gathered people at the grand mosque. There, he delivered a speech warning them against mutiny and promising them generous rewards for conforming. Said he, “Anyone found to be sheltering one of those who scheme against the authority of the commander of the faithful and who does not hand him over will be crucified on the door of his own house.”(3)
When Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil came to know about Ibn Ziyad's speech and his explicit threats, and having come to know about people's conditions, he feared being assassinated. He, therefore, left al-Mukhtar's house after the dark and went to the house of Hani Ibn ‘Urwah al-Mathaji who was a very zealous Shi’a.(4) He was also one of Kufa's dignitaries,(5) one of its qaris of the Holy Qur’an,(6) and the shaikh and chief of Murad.
He could easily raise
four thousand troops fully armed and eight thousand cavaliers. If he includes his tribe's allies from Kindah, the number would swell to thirty thousand.(1) He was one of the closest friends of the Commander of the Faithful Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a)(2) on whose side he fought in all his three battles.(3)
He had seen and was honoured by being a companion of the Prophet (S). When he was killed, he was more than ninety years old.(4)
Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil stayed at the house of Sharik(5) Ibn ‘Abdullah(6) al-A’war al-Harithi al-Hamdani al-Basri, one of the main supporters of the Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon him, in Basra, a man who enjoyed great prominence among our men.(7) He had participated in the Battle of Siffin and fought side by side with ‘Ammar Ibn Yasir.(8)
Due to his distinction and prominence, ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad appointed him as Governor of Kerman on behalf of Mu’awiyah(9). He used to be in contact with and in the company of Hani Ibn ‘Urwah. He fell very seriously ill, so Ibn Ziyad went to visit him.
Before his arrival, Sharik said to Muslim (‘a), “Your objective and that of your Shi’as is his annihilation; so, you should stay inside the storage room. Once he feels secure at my house, you should come out and kill him, and I shall spare you having to deal with him in Kufa while you yourself remain in good health”(10)
As they were thus engaged in their dialogue, the arrival of the
Amir (provincial governor) at the door was announced, so Muslim entered the storage room. When Sharik thought that Muslim had taken too long to come out, he kept taking his turban off and putting it on the ground then putting it back again, doing so several times as he recited the following verses of poetry in an audible voice which Muslim could hear:
Why do you not Sulma greet?
Greet her and those whom she does greet.
A pure drink is what I desire when thirsty,
Though drinking it brings sends me to eternity.
If you fear Sulma's watchful eyes, for sure
Against her conniving you will never feel secure.
He kept repeating these lines as he cast quick glances at the storage room. Then he raised his voice so that Muslim could hear him saying, “Give it to me to drink even if my death lies therein.”(1) It was then that ‘Ubaydullah turned to Hani and said,
“Your cousin, on account of his sickness, is surely hallucinating.” Hani said, “Sharik has been hallucinating since he fell sick, and he does not know what he says.”(2)
Sharik, at a later time, asked Muslim, “What stopped you from killing him?” He said, “Two reasons: first, one hadith of the Messenger of Allah (S) narrated by ‘Ali (‘a) says, ‘Faith stops where murder begins; a faithful man does not murder others.'(3)
The second reason is Hani's wife. She pleaded to me in the Name of Allah not to do so in her house, and she wept before my
very eyes.” Hani said, “Woe unto her! She has killed me and killed her own self! That from which she fled, in it have I fallen.”(1)
Sharik died three days later. Ibn Ziyad performed the funeral prayers for him(2), then he was buried at al-Thuwayya. When it became clear for Ibn Ziyad that Sharik used to instigate people to have him killed, he said, “By Allah! I shall never perform the funeral prayers for anyone from Iraq! Had it not been for Ziyad's grave being in their land, I would have exhumed Sharik's grave.”(3)
The Shi’as kept meeting Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil secretly at Hani's house without attracting the attention of Ibn Ziyad, admonishing each other to keep it to themselves. Ibn Ziyad, therefore, could not know where Muslim was. He called Ma’qil, his slave, to meet him.
He gave him three thousand [dinars] and ordered him to meet the Shi’as and to tell them that he was a Syrian slave of Thul-Kila’, that Allah blessed him with loving Ahl al-Bayt of His Messenger (S), that it came to his knowledge that one of the members of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) had come to that country, and that he had with him some money which he wanted to hand deliver to him.
Ma’qil entered the grand mosque and saw Muslim Ibn ‘Awsajah al-Asadi offering his prayers. Having seen him finish his prayers, he came close to him and made the above claim to him. Muslim prayed Allah to grant him goodness and success.
He then accompanied him to the place where Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil was. He delivered the money to Muslim and swore the oath of allegiance to him.(1) The money was handed over to Abu Thumama al-Sa’idi who was a far-sighted and a brave Shi’a dignitary appointed by Muslim to receive the funds and to buy thereby weapons.
That man kept meeting Muslim every day. No secrets were kept from him, so he kept gathering intelligence and getting it to reach Ibn Ziyad in the evening.(2)
When the matter became clear to Ibn Ziyad, who by now knew that Muslim was hiding at the house of Hani Ibn ‘Urwah, he had Asma’ Ibn Kharijah, Muhammad Ibn al-Ash’ath and ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj brought to him. He asked them why Hani had not been coming lately to visit him.
They told him that it was due to his sickness, but he was not convinced especially since his informers had already told him that Hani used to sit at the door of his house every evening.
These same men rode to Hani and asked him to meet the sultan, for “He cannot stand you staying away from him,” they said, pressuring him till he yielded. Hani, therefore, rode his mule and went. As soon as Ibn Ziyad saw him, he said, “His feet, the feet of the treacherous one, have brought him to you.”(3)
Then he turned to his judge Shurayh and cited this verse of poetry:(4)
I seek his pleasure while he seeks my
Now from your fellow you have an excuse
To carry out what you intend to do.
Then Ibn Ziyad turned to Hani and said, “You brought ‘Aqil's son to your house and gathered weapons for him, did you not?” Hani denied, and when their argument became heated, Ibn Ziyad ordered Ma’qil to be brought to him. Hani, hence, understood that that man was actually Ibn Ziyad's spy, so he said to Ibn Ziyad,
“Your father had done me great favours, and I now wish to reward him. Why do you not listen to my good advice and safely depart for Syria with your family and wealth? Someone who is more worthy than you and your friend(1) of taking charge has come here.” Ibn Ziyad said, “And under the foam is the pure sour milk.”(2)
Ibn Ziyad then said to him, “By Allah! You will not stay out of my sight before you bring him to me.” Hani said, “By Allah! Had he been under my foot, I would not have lifted it!” Ibn Ziyad then spoke rudely to him and even threatened to kill him.
Hani, therefore, said, “In that case, there will be plenty of swords around you,” thinking that the tribesmen of Murad would protect him from Ibn Ziyad who then pulled Hani's braids, hitting his face with his sword, breaking his nose and scattering the flesh from his cheeks and forehead on his beard. He then jailed him at his mansion.(3)
‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj heard that Hani had been killed. Hani's wife, Raw’a,
who is well known as the mother of Yahya son of Hani, was the sister of ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj. The latter, therefore, rode with a multitude from the tribe of Mathhaj, and they all surrounded the mansion.
When Ibn Ziyad came to know about it, he ordered Shurayh, the judge(1), to see Hani and then to tell those horsemen that Hani was still alive. Shurayh narrates saying, “When Hani saw me, he said in a loud voice, ‘O Muslims! Should ten persons enter here, you must come to my rescue!' Had Hamid Ibn Abu Bakr al-Ahmari, the policeman, not been with me, I would have conveyed his message, but I had to simply say instead that Hani was still alive. ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj then praised Allah and went back accompanied by the other men.”(2)
When Muslim came to know about what had happened to Hani, he feared being assassinated; therefore, he rushed to rise prior to the date that he had set with the public. He ordered ‘Abdullah Ibn Hazim to call upon his men, who had then filled the houses surrounding him, to gather together. Four thousand men assembled. They were shouting Badr's call that was: “O Supported One! Annihilate them!”
‘Ubaydullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn ‘Aziz al-Kindi was placed in command of the Kindah and the Rabi’ah quarters. “March ahead of me,” said Muslim, “in command of the cavalry.” Muslim Ibn ‘Awsajah al-Asadi was placed in command of Mathhaj and Banu Asad. “Take charge of the infantry,” Muslim
Abu Thumama al-Sa’idi was placed in charge of Tamim and Hamdan, whereas al-’Abbas Ibn Ja’dah al-Jadli was given the command of the Medina troops.
They marched towards the governor's mansion. Ibn Ziyad fortified himself inside it, locking all its gates. He could not resist because there were only thirty policemen with him and twenty of his close men and slaves.
But the substance from which the people of Kufa were made was treachery; so, their standards kept disappearing till no more than three hundred men remained out of the original four thousand.(1) Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays described them as a whore who demanded a different man every day.(2)
When those inside the mansion called upon the people of Kufa saying, “O Kufians! Fear Allah and do not expose yourselves to Syrian cavaliers whose might you have already tasted and whom you have already tested on the battlefield,” the remaining three hundred dispersed, so much so that a man would come to his son, brother, or cousin and tell him to go home, and a wife would cling to her husband till he returned home.(3)
Muslim offered the evening prayers at the [grand Kufa] mosque accompanied by only thirty men. Then, when he went to Kindah's quarters, only three men accompanied him.(4) He hardly proceeded for a short while before finding himself without anyone at all to show him the way.(5)
He alighted from his horse and cautiously traversed Kufa's alleys not knowing where to go.(6)
When people abandoned Muslim, their noise died down, and Ibn
Ziyad could not hear the voice of any of their men. Ibn Ziyad ordered his bodyguards to inspect the mosque's courtyard to see whether there were any men lying in ambush.
They, therefore, kept lowering their lanterns down its walls and lighting reeds then lowering them down with ropes till they reached the mosque's courtyard.
They could not see anyone, so they informed Ibn Ziyad who ordered his caller to call people to assemble at the mosque. When they filled the mosque, he ascended the pulpit and said, “‘Aqil's son has caused the dissension and disunity with which you all are familiar; so, there is no security henceforth to any man in whose house we find him.
Anyone who captures him and brings him to us will be paid his blood money. O servants of Allah! Fear Allah and safeguard your obedience and oath of allegiance, and do not expose yourselves to peril.”
Then he ordered al-Hasin Ibn Tamim, chief of his police force, to search homes and highways, warning him that he would kill Muslim should the latter succeed in fleeing from Kufa.(1)
Al-Hasin stationed his guards at highway crossroads and pursued the dignitaries who had supported Muslim, arresting ‘Abd al-A’la Ibn Yazid al-Kalbi and ‘Imarah Ibn Salkhab al-Azdi. He threw them in jail then killed them. Then he jailed a group of prominent leaders as a safeguard against what they might do. Among them were al-Asbagh Ibn Nubatah and al-Harith al-A’war al-Hamadani.(2)
When Muslim marched, al-Mukhtar was at a village
called Khatwaniyya(1). He came accompanied by his supporters raising a green standard while ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith was raising a red one. Having planted his standard at the door of ‘Amr Ibn Harith's house, he said, “I want to stop ‘Amr.”(2)
It became obvious to them that both Muslim and Hani had been killed, and it was suggested to them that they would feel more secure in the company of ‘Amr Ibn Harith, and so they did. Ibn Harith testified that they had both avoided Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil... Ibn Ziyad ordered them jailed after having reviled al-Mukhtar and hit his face with a lance, gouging one of his eyes.(3) They remained in prison till Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, was martyred.(4)
Ibn Ziyad ordered Muhammad Ibn al-Ash’ath(5), Shabth Ibn Rab’i, al-Qa’qa’ Ibn Shawr al-Thuhli(6), Hijar Ibn Abjar(7), Shimr Thul-Jawshan, and ‘Amr Ibn Harith to surrender and to discourage people from rebelling(8). A number of men, who were controlled by fear, responded positively to his call in addition to others who coveted rich rewards and were thus deceived, whereas those whose conscience was pure went underground, waiting for an opportunity to launch an attack on the camp of falsehood.
Ibn ‘Aqil's feet took him to the quarters of Banu Jiblah of the tribe of Kindah He stood at the door of a house of a freed bondmaid named Taw’a who had a number of sons. She used to be the bondmaid of al-Ash’ath Ibn Qays who freed her.
Asid al-Hadrami married
her, and she gave birth to his son Bilal who was in the crowd when his mother was standing at the door waiting for him. Muslim requested her to give him some water, which she did. He then requested her to host him, telling her that he was a stranger in that land without a family or a tribe, that he belonged to a family capable of intercession on the Day of Judgment, and that his name was Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil.
She took him to a room that was not the same one where her son used to sleep, and she served him some food. Her son was surprised to see her entering that room quite often, so he asked her about it. She refused to answer his question except after obtaining an oath from him to keep the matter to himself.
But in the morning he informed Ibn Ziyad of where Muslim had been hiding. Ibn Ziyad dispatched al-Ash’ath accompanied by seventy men who belonged to the Qays tribe in order to arrest him. Upon hearing the horses' hoofs ploughing the ground, Muslim realized that he was being pursued(1), so he hurried to finish a supplication that he was reciting following the morning prayers. Then he put on his battle gear and said to his hostess Taw’a:
“You have carried out your share of righteousness, and you have secured your share of the intercession of the Messenger of Allah (S). Yesterday, I saw my uncle the Commander of the Faithful
(‘a) in a vision telling me that I was going to join him the next day.”(1)
He came out to face them raising his unsheathed sword as they assaulted the house, succeeding in repelling their attack. They repeated their attack, and again he repelled them as he recited these poetic verses:
It is only death; so, do whatever you devise,
For you shall no doubt meet your demise;
So I shall be patient about the Command
Of Allah, His Glory is Grand!
Allah's decree is always done
In His creation; this is well known.
Ibn al-Ash’ath sent a messenger to Ibn Ziyad requesting re-enforcements. The messenger came back to him carrying the latter's blame of his incompetence. He, therefore, sent him this message:
“Do you think that you sent me to one of Kufa's shopkeepers or to a Nabatean from Hira?! Rather, you sent me to one of the swords of [Prophet] Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdullah (S)!” Ibn Ziyad then assisted him with additional soldiers.(4)
Fighting intensified. Muslim and Bakir Ibn Hamran al-Ahmari exchanged blows. Bakir struck Muslim on the mouth, cutting his upper lip, wounding the lower one and breaking two of his lower teeth. Muslim fiercely struck him with one blow on his head and another on his shoulder muscle, almost splitting his stomach, killing him instantly.(5)
Then they attacked him from the house's rooftop, hurling rocks at him. They kept burning
reed bales then throwing them at him. He attacked them in the alley as he quoted the following rajaz verses composed by Hamran Ibn Malik:
I swore not to be killed except as a free man,
Though I found death something repelling;
Every man will one day face evil,
And what is cold will be mingled with what is hot.
The soul's ray returned, so it did settle,
I fear only being charged with lying or being tempted.(1)
His wounds were numerous; he bled extensively, so he supported his body on the side of the house. It was then that they assaulted him with arrows and stones. “Why do you hurl stones at me,” he asked them, “as non-believers are stoned, the member of the household of the pure Prophet (S) that I am?
Do you not have any respect for the Messenger of Allah (S) with regard to one of his own descendants?” Ibn al-Ash’ath said to him, “Please do not get yourself killed while you are under my protection.” Muslim asked him, “Shall I then be captured so long as I have some strength in me? No, by Allah! This shall never be.”
Then he attacked Ibn al-Ash’ath who fled away before him. They attacked Aqil from all directions. Thirst had taken its toll on him. A man stabbed him from the back, so he fell on the ground and was arrested.(2)
Another account says that they dug a hole for him that they covered then fled before him, thus luring him into falling in it, then
they arrested him.(1) When they took his sword away from him, he cried. ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ubaydullah al-Salami was surprised to see him cry.
Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil was brought before Ibn Ziyad. At the mansion’s gate, he saw an urn containing cooled water. He asked to drink of it. Muslim Ibn ‘Amr al-Bahili(2) said to him, “You shall not taste one drop of it till you taste of the hamim in the fire of hell.”
Muslim (‘a) asked him, “Who are you?” He said, “I am one who knew the truth which you rejected, and who remained faithful to his imam when you betrayed him.” Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil said to him, “May your mother lose you! How hard-hearted and rude you are! You, son of Bahilah, are more worthy of tasting of the hamim.” Having said so, he sat down, supporting his back on the mansion's wall.(3)
‘Imarah Ibn ‘Uqbah Ibn Abu Mu’it sent a slave named Qays(4) to give him water. Whenever Muslim was about to drink of it, the cup became full of his blood. In his third attempt to drink, the cup became full of his blood and both his front teeth fell in it, so he abandoned it saying, “Had it been prescribed in destiny for me to drink it, I would have drunk it.”
Ibn Ziyad's guard came out to escort Muslim. Having entered the room where Ibn Ziyad was, Muslim did not greet him. The guard asked Muslim, “Why did you not greet the Amir?” “Keep your
mouth shut,” said Muslim, “he is not my Amir.”(1)
It is also said that he said to Ibn Ziyad, “Peace be upon whoever followed the right guidance, feared the consequences in the hereafter, and obeyed the Exalted King,” so Ibn Ziyad laughed and said, “Whether you greet or not, you shall be killed.”(2) Muslim said, “If you kill me, someone worse than you had already killed someone much better than me.
Besides, you shall never abandon committing murders, setting a bad example, thinking ill of others, being mean; having the upper hand will be the doing of anyone else but you.”
Ibn Ziyad said, “You disobeyed your imam, divided the Muslims, and sowed the seeds of dissension.” Muslim said, “You have uttered falsehood. Rather, those who divided the Muslims are Mu’awiyah and his son Yazid. The seeds of dissension were sown by your father, and I wish Allah will grant me to be martyred at the hand of the worst of His creation.”(3)
Then Muslim asked permission to convey his will to some of his people. He was granted permission, so he looked at those present there and saw ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d. “There is kinship between me and you,” said Muslim to him, “and I need a favour of you which you should oblige, and it is a secret between us.” But he refused to listen, whereupon Ibn Ziyad said to him,
“Do not hesitate from tending to your cousin's need.” ‘Umar stood with Muslim in a way that enabled Ibn Ziyad to see
them both Muslim conveyed his desire to him to sell his sword and shield and pay a debt in the amount of six hundred dirhams(1) which he had borrowed since he entered Kufa, to ask Ibn Ziyad to give him his corpse to bury it, and to write al-Husayn (‘a) to tell him what happened to him. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d stood up and walked to Ibn Ziyad to reveal the secret with which he had just been entrusted by Muslim! Ibn Ziyad said to him, “A trustworthy person never betrays you, but you have placed your trust in a treacherous person.”(2)
Then Ibn Ziyad turned to Muslim and said, “O son of ‘Aqil! You came to a united people and disunited them.” Muslim said, “No, indeed, I did not come to do that, but the people of this country claimed that your father killed their best men, shed their blood, and did what Kisra and Caeser do, so we came to them in order to enjoin justice, and to invite all to accept the judgment of the Book [of Allah].”
Ibn Ziyad said, “What do you have to do with all of that? Have we not been dealing with them with equity?” Muslim said, “Allah knows that you are not telling the truth. You, in fact, kill when angry, out of enmity, and for mere suspicion.”
Ibn Ziyad then verbally abused him and abused ‘Ali (‘a), ‘Aqil, and al-Husayn (‘a), whereupon Muslim said, “You and your father are more worthy of being
thus abused; so, issue whatever decree you wish, you enemy of Allah!”(1)
It was then that Ibn Ziyad ordered a Syrian(2) to go to the top of the mansion and to behead Muslim and throw both the head and the body to the ground. The Syrian took Muslim to the flat rooftop of the mansion as the latter kept repeating,
“Subhan-Allah! La ilaha illa-Allah! Allahu Akbar!” He also kept repeating, “O Allah! Judge between us and the people who deceived, betrayed and lied to us,” then he faced Medina and saluted al-Husayn (‘a).(3)
The Syrian struck Muslim's neck with his sword and threw his head and body to the ground(4) then hurried down. He was very startled. Ibn Ziyad asked him what was wrong with him. “The moment I killed him,” said he, “I saw a black man with an extremely ugly face standing beside me biting his finger, so I was frightened.” “Perhaps you lost your mind for a moment,” said Ibn Ziyad.(5)
Hani was taken to an area of the market place where sheep were sold; his arms were tied. He kept saying, “O Mathhaj! Any man from Mathhaj to help me today?! O Mathhaj! Where has Mathhaj gone away from me?!”
Having seen that there was none to respond to him, he somehow managed to get one of his arms out of the ropes and said, “Is there anyone who would hand me a stick, a knife, a rock, or even a bone so that a man may be able
to defend himself?”
Guards attacked him and tied him again. He was ordered to stretch his neck so that they might strike it with their swords. “I am not going to give it away to you so generously. I shall not assist you at the cost of my own life.” A Turkish slave named Rasheed owned by ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad struck him with his sword, but he missed. Hani said, “To Allah is my return! O Allah! To Your Mercy do I come and to Your Pleasure!”
Rasheed hit him again and killed him. This same slave was killed by ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn al-Hasin al-Muradi who saw him at the Khazar(1) (Caspian Sea) in the company of ‘Ubaydullah.
Ibn Ziyad ordered the corpses of both Muslim and Hani to be tied with ropes from their feet and dragged in the market places(2). He crucified them upside-down(3) at the garbage collection site, then he sent their severed heads to Yazid who displayed them at one of the streets of Damascus.
‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad wrote Yazid saying:
“Praise to Allah Who effected justice on behalf of the commander of the faithful and sufficed him having to deal with his foes.
I would like to inform the commander of the faithful, may Allah bless him, that Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil had sought refuge at the house of Hani Ibn ‘Urwah al-Muradi, that I assigned spies for them and let men infiltrate their assemblies and plotted against them till I forced them out.
Allah gave me the upper hand over
them, so I killed them and sent you both of their heads with Hani Ibn Abu Hayya al-Wadi’i al-Hamdani and al-Zubayr Ibn al-’Arwah al-Tamimi who both are from among those who listen to and obey us; so, let the commander of the faithful ask them whatever he pleases, for there is knowledge with them, truth, understanding, and piety. And peace be with you”.
Yazid wrote Ibn Ziyad saying,
“You do not cease being the source of my delight. You have behaved with strictness and assaulted with courage, maintaining your composure. You have done very well and testified to the correctness of my good impression about you. I invited your messengers and asked them and confided in them, and I found their views and merits just as you indicated; so, take good care of them.
It has also come to my knowledge that al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali has marched towards Iraq. You should, therefore, set up observation posts, prepare with arms, be cautious for mere suspicion. Kill anyone whom you suspect.(1)
Your tenure is put to the test by this Husayn rather than by anyone else, so is your country and your own self as governor. The outcome will determine whether you will be freed or whether you will return to slavery(2); so, you have to either fight him or arrest and transport him to me.”(3)
O cousin of al-Husayn! Tearful eyes of your Shi’as may
With blood provide you with water to drink.
Tearful eyes shall never cease
Greeting you as they come and go,
For you were
not given to drink,
Not even once, as your fractured teeth
Fell into the drink.
From the mansion did they hurl you,
Having tied you; were you not their prince
Only the day before?
Should you spend without anyone mourning you?
Is there anyone in the land to mourn you?
Is there anyone in the land to cry over you?
Should you die, in Zarud there are
Many a mourner mourning you in the night and the day.(1)
When it came to Husayn's knowledge that Yazid had appointed ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id Ibn al-’As as the head of an army, ordering him to take charge of the pilgrimage caravans and to kill al-Husayn (‘a) wherever he could find him(2), he decided to leave Mecca before finishing the pilgrimage and be satisfied with performing only the ‘umra because he hated that the sanctity of the House might otherwise be violated.(3)
Before departing, al-Husayn (‘a) stood up to deliver a sermon. He said,
“All praise is due to Allah. The Will of Allah be done. There is no might except in Allah. Allah has blessed His Messenger. Death is inscribed on Adam's children like a necklace on a girl's neck. My passion to be reunited with my ancestors is like that of Jacob for Joseph, and the demise I shall soon meet is better for me.
I see my limbs being torn by speeding steeds in the desert between al-Nawawis and Karbala’, so they shall fill, through my death, hollow bellies and starved pouches. There is no avoiding a day recorded by the
Whatever pleases Allah also pleases us, we Ahl al-Bayt. We shall be patient as we face His trial, and He shall give us in full the rewards due to those who persevere. The Prophet's offspring shall not deviate from His path. Rather, they shall be gathered before him in the presence of the most Holy One.
His eyes shall be cooled upon seeing them assembled, and he shall fulfill his promise. Anyone among us who is ready to sacrifice himself and is determined to meet Allah should join our departing party, for I shall depart in the morning if Allah Almighty so wills”.(1)
His departure took place on the 8th of Thul-Hijjah, 60 A.H/September 12, 680 A.D. He was accompanied by his family, slaves, and Shi’as from the people of Hijaz, Basra and Kufa who joined him during his sojourn in Mecca. He gave each one of them ten dinars and a camel to carry his luggage.(2)
A group of his family members, in addition to others, asked him to postpone his trip till he could get to know the condition of the public. They feared the treachery of the Kufians and were apprehensive of a possible reversal in the situation. But the “Father of the Oppressed” was unable to reveal the knowledge with him about his fate to everyone he met.
The facts, as they stand, are not to be revealed to just anyone who seeks them due to the different levels of people's comprehension and the differences in their ability to
absorb. He, peace be upon him, had to answer each person according to his own condition and ability to comprehend.
He, for example, said to [‘Abdullah] Ibn al-Zubayr, “My father told me once that there is a ram in Mecca through which its sanctity would be violated, and I do not like to be it. Should I be killed outside Mecca even the distance of a span, it is better for me than being killed inside it.(1)
By Allah! Had I been inside one of these holes, they would have taken me out of it and done what they wish to do. By Allah! They shall oppress me and transgress just as the Jews oppressed and transgressed the sanctity of the Sabbath.”
As soon as Ibn al-Zubayr had left, al-Husayn (‘a) said to those in his company, “There is nothing in this world this man loves more than seeing me depart from Hijaz. He knows very well that people do not equate him with me, so he wished to see me leave so that the space will be all his.”(2)
During the same night following which al-Husayn (‘a) left for Iraq, Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya came to him and said, “You know very well how the Kufians betrayed your father and brother, and I fear lest your case should be like theirs.
Stay here, then, for you are the most respected one in the Haram, and the most secure.” Al-Husayn (‘a) said to him, “I fear lest Yazid son of Mu’awiyah should assassinate me
inside the Haram, thus becoming the one on whose account the sanctity of this House is violated.” Ibn al-Hanafiyya suggested to him to go to Yemen or to other parts of the peninsula, so Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) promised him to think about it.
During the early hours of the morning, al-Husayn (‘a) started the preparations for his departure. Ibn al-Hanafiyya again came to him and held the reins of the she-camel upon which al-Husayn (‘a) had already mounted, saying,
“Did you not promise me to think about my suggestion?” “Yes,” al-Husayn (‘a) answered, “But after your departure, the Messenger of Allah (S) came to me in a vision and said, ‘O Husayn! Get out! Allah Almighty has decreed to see you slain.'”
Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyya said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajia’un” (We are Allah's, and to Him is our return). He asked him about the reason for letting his family accompany him. Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “It is the Will of Allah to see them taken captives.”(1)
‘Abdullah son of Ja’far at-Tayyar, and also his sons ‘Awn and Muhammad, wrote him saying, “I plead to you in the Name of Allah to go home once you read this letter, for I fear lest you should be killed and your Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) be eradicated.
If you get killed, the light on earth will be put out, for you are the standard of guidance and the hope of the faithful. Do not hurry in marching, for I shall see you shortly after you read this
letter, and peace be with you.”
‘Abdullah took a letter from Yazid's governor over Mecca, ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id Ibn al-’As, granting al-Husayn (‘a) security. He brought it to al-Husayn (‘a) who was then accompanied by Yahya Ibn Sa’id Ibn al-’As, and he tried very hard to dissuade al-Husayn (‘a) from marching to his destination, but Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) refused. He informed ‘Abdullah that he had seen the Messenger of Allah (S) in a vision giving him an order which he had to carry out.
He asked him what he had seen. “I have not narrated this vision to anyone,” said Imam Husayn (‘a), “and I shall not narrate it till I meet my Lord, the most Exalted One, the most Great.”(1)
Ibn ‘Abbas said to him, “O cousin! I seek solace, but you are not solacing me, and I fear for you if you do it lest you should perish and be eliminated. The people of Iraq are treacherous; so, do not go near them. Stay in this land, for you are the master of the people of Hijaz. If the people of Iraq want you, as they claim, then let them unseat their governor and enemy, then you should go to them.
If you insist on going out, go to Yemen, for it has fortresses and valleys, and it is a wide and spacious land, and your father has many supporters there. You will be insulated from [the evil] people. You will then be able to write people, dispatch your messengers
and disseminate your message, for you will then realize your objective in good health” Al-Husayn (‘a) said to him,
“O cousin! By Allah! I know that you are an advisor with compassion, yet I have already decided to go.” Ibn ‘Abbas then said, “If you insist on going, do not take your women and children, for I fear lest you should be killed as they look on.” Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “By Allah! They [the Umayyads] shall not leave me alone till I am dead. Should they do so, Allah will appoint over them those who will humiliate them till they become more degraded than a woman's rag.”(1)
This is the ultimate end of anyone seeking to know why al-Husayn (‘a) did not tarry before going to Iraq. The father of ‘Abdullah [Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him] was not unfamiliar with the nature of the Kufians or with their treachery and hypocrisy. But what could he do after they had expressed their loyalty, obedience and submission to his orders?
Can the Imam of a nation be excused for not providing guidance when he is solicited, or from redeeming them from the claws of misguidance and guiding them to what best pleases the Lord of the World, especially since their dissension and disunity had not yet become manifest?
The reason he gave for marching to meet them, despite their treacherous nature which manifested itself in the way they treated him, his father and his brother (‘a), would prompt those who look at
the exterior appearance of matters to blame him.
The Imam chosen for the guidance of the public is too great to do anything that would be used as an argument against him. The country to which Ibn ‘Abbas and others referred has no security, and what happened between Busr Ibn Arta'ah and the people of Yemen underscores the latter’s weakness of resistance and inability to face an oppressor.
Such is the view expressed by al-Shaikh al-Shushtari, may Allah elevate his status. He has said, “Al-Husayn (‘a) had two obligations: a real one, and an evident one: a) As for the real one that caused him to face death and to expose his family to captivity and his children to slaughter, despite his knowledge [of such an imminent fate], it is due to the fact that the tyrants from among Banu Umayyah had convinced themselves that they were right and that ‘Ali and his offspring and supporters were wrong, so much so that they made cursing him part of their Friday congregational prayers...
One of them forgot once to curse ‘Ali (‘a) in his Friday sermon, so they had to remind him of it. Since he was travelling, he had to repeat his prayers as qaza! Had al-Husayn (‘a) surrendered and sworn the oath of allegiance to Yazid, there would have been no trace of the truth left.
This is so because there were many who thought that entering into a covenant with the Umayyads was indicative of their legitimacy and good conduct.
But after al-Husayn (‘a) had fought them, exposing his sacred life and those of his family and children to the atrocities that befell them, it became quite clear to the people of his time, and to succeeding generations, that right was on his side and that those who oppressed him were the misguided ones.
b) As regarding the superficially evident cause, he (‘a) sought to safeguard himself and his family by all possible means, but he could not do so. They prohibited him from going anywhere.
Yazid wrote his governor over Medina to kill him. He, therefore, had to get out of it fearing for his life, then he sought refuge with Allah's Sacred House, the safe haven of anyone in apprehension. But they sought him even there to either arrest or to kill him even if he had been found clinging to the curtains of the Ka’ba.
He had no choice except to perform a singular ‘umra rather than a complete Hajj. Then he went to Kufa because its people had written him and sworn the oath of allegiance to him, stressing the importance of his going to meet with them in order to save them from the evil of the Umayyads.
He evidently was, therefore, morally obligated to go along with what they had suggested in order to bring his argument against them home, and so that they would not argue on the Day of Judgment saying that they sought refuge with him and solicited his help against the oppression
of the oppressors, but he accused them of dissension and did not help them.
Had he not gone to them, where else would he have gone especially since the earth suddenly became straitened before him despite its vastness? This is the meaning of his saying to Ibn al-Hanafiyya, ‘Had I entered inside one of these land cracks, they would have taken me out of it and killed me!'”
The Imam (‘a) had likewise said to Abu Harrah al-Asadi once, “Banu Umayyah confiscated my wealth, yet I remained patient. And they defamed my honour, and I again remained patient. Then they sought to kill me, so I fled.”(1)
Everyone in Mecca was grieved to see him leave. When they persisted in their attempts to dissuade him from leaving, he quoted poetic verses composed by a poet from the Aws tribe who had been warned by one of his cousins against participating in the jihad in support of the Messenger of Allah (S):
I shall proceed, for there is no shame
In death to a man who set his mind
To follow the truth
And to perform jihad as a Muslim.
He consoled the righteous men in person,
Leaving behind the depraved,
Opposing the criminals.
Then he cited the verse saying, “And Allah's Command is a decree already passed.”(33:38)(2)
He loathed peace in humiliation,
Honour loathes a free man being subdued,
So he said: O soul! Refrain from shame:
At the time of death, what is bitter tastes good!
Surrounded he became by his family's best youth
A family to which sublime honour and prominence belong
marches in the darkness of the night it shines:
Its shiny faces over-shining the brightest of the stars
By brave knights on wading steeds
In whose walk there is pride and grace.
Swift in the desert, dignified in stature,
Might in his help, subdued for him the conveyance.
Slapping the earth's face, red in hue
Not by slapping reddened but by the enemy's blood.
These are the folks from ‘Ali the conqueror
The darkness through them dissipates
And harm at bay is kept.
Thousands do they meet, courageous and bold
If and when their banners unfold
On a day when the face of death frowned,
When sharp swords did smile,
When the day of death is in black and in woe,
Their faces with delight become bright and mellow
As the faces of startled brave men turn yellow.
They stood on the battlefield only to cross
To death: the bridge is awaiting everyone who walks.
They assault, while heroes out of fear hesitate
And lions are accustomed to assault.
Till they were spent under the clouds of dust
On a battle resembling the Assembly Day!
Nay! Less terrifying is the Assembling Day!
They died in dignity, for them the war testifies
That they were men of honour when faced by what terrifies.
White bandages decorated their every head,
Blood outfitted them with outfits of crimson red.
Again and again the Oppressed One went back to his foes
With his sword and mare helping him to give them blows.
On the day of struggle with dust he covered every face
Of his troops as horizons grew pale shrouding the place.
If his lance composes poetry in one's heart,
His sword writes prose on his foes'
necks on its part.
So one is not one when the swords clamour,
Nor two are two when lance clashes with the armour:
Had he wished to finish his foes at hand
He would have shaken existence itself at his command.
But decree had already passed, so he opted to march
To death patiently, for patient are the oppressed.
On the hot desert sands he dawned
A corpse that fell a prey
To every sword and lance in every way.
Between the ends of the lances he was spent
Thirsty, his corpse trampled upon by trained steeds
O son of Hasan! I complain to you for these are
Agonies crowding my heart
Do you know how much trial and tribulation
Your revered offspring faced at the Taff?
Let me console you in their regard,
For they approached death with heart.
Not a drop wetted their thirst,
Buried under the heat, in the desert,
Wind burying them with the dust...
What will you, O bereaved one, assault and be
Turning the blood of your foes into a sea?
Will you close your eyes when revenge can you take
From seeing the blood which, though on the right guidance
Dawned having none to console?
Near the Taff are the youths of Hashim
Buried under the lances' tips, their blood is sought
By everyone! No respite there shall be till you
Raise it so nothing can stand in its way.
A fire you shall light, a war no mighty host can subdue
How many times did Umayyah stir your wounds
No healing of the wound till the Meeting Day,
No healing to babes whom Umayyah nursed with death
Instead of breasts' milk, blood was given instead.
lie dead, here the arrows embrace them,
Here the sands make their every bed.
A free lady who used to be confined
Dawned on the plains hot like timber lit by the heat
And a pure woman not used to mourning
Is now with whips driven, rebuked.
And a startled youth whose heartbeat almost
Sparks with fright... And another confused,
By the sight of steeds not at all amused,
Welcomed the night without a haven, without resort
Her veil, in enemy hands,
Is being passed from this to that,
So with her hands she seeks to hide
What with her veil she used to shield
Walked unveiled before the enemy eyes.
From one country to another she cries...
They grew up confined, they never knew
What slavery was, what’s the plain or the terrain.
Now they were insulted and dismayed,
By their enemy were they now displayed
For all to jeer at and to see:
A war trophy they now came to be...
Taken from land to distant land,
Handled by a filthy hand.(1)
Al-Husayn (‘a) marched on his way out of Mecca via al-Tan’im(2) where he met a caravan laden with merchandise and clothes sent to Yazid Ibn Mu’awiyah by Bahir Ibn Yasar al-Himyari, his governor over Yemen.
Al-Husayn (‘a) seized it and said to those who tended to the camels, “Whoever among you wishes to join us in our march to Iraq will be paid in full, and we will keep him good company. And whoever prefers to part with us, we shall compensate him according to the distance he travelled.” Some of them parted from him, whereas others preferred his company.(3)
(‘a) considered that caravan his own wealth that Allah Almighty put at his disposal on account of his being the Imam appointed by the Omnipotent, Praise to Him. Yazid and his father had already confiscated what belonged to him as well as what belonged to the Muslims, so it became mandatory on him to take control of the Muslims' spoils to distribute to the needy among them.
He, indeed, gave of it generously to the bedouins who accompanied him on the way and who complained to him of the pain of poverty from which they were suffering. But it was a destiny that the Master of the Youths of Paradise could not give what the oppressors had confiscated of Prophet Muhammad's nation back to its rightful owners, although his precious sacrifice removed from visions the veils of the misguidance of those who transgressed on Divine Authority.
At al-Sifah, al-Husayn (‘a) met al-Farazdaq Ibn Ghalib, the poet, so he asked him about the people whom he had left behind. Al-Farazdaq said, “Their hearts are with you; the swords are with Banu Umayyah, and Destiny descends from the heavens!”
Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) said, “You have said the truth. To Allah belongs the affair, and Allah does whatever He pleases. Every day, our Lord deals with a matter. If Destiny descends with what we love, we shall praise Allah for His blessings, and He is the One Whose help we seek so that we may thank Him enough.
But if we are destined not
to attain our desires, then none whose intention is to effect righteousness, and whose heart is full of piety, has transgressed.” Al-Farazdaq asked the Imam (‘a) about his verdicts regarding issues such as nathr, rituals, etc. After that, they parted.(1)
It is narrated that al-Farazdaq said, “I went out of Basra seeking to perform the ‘umra. I saw an army in the desert and inquired who it belonged to. I was told that it was the army of al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (‘a), so I decided to express my gratitude to the Messenger of Allah (S). I came to him and greeted him.
He asked me, ‘Who is the man?' I said, ‘Al-Farazdaq Ibn Ghalib.' He said, ‘This is a short name!' Said I, ‘Your name is even shorter! You are the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah!'”(2)
Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) marched on. At That ‘Irq(3) he met Bishr Ibn Ghalib and asked him about the people of Kufa. “Their swords are with Banu Umayyah,” he said, “and their hearts are with you.” “You have said the truth,” said the Imam (‘a).(4)
Al-Rayyash narrated about those who met al-Husayn (‘a) on his way to Kufa. This narrator says, “Having performed the pilgrimage, I set out on the highway alone. As I thus walked, I noticed a number of tents, so I went in their direction and inquired who they belonged to. I was told that they belonged to al-Husayn son of ‘Ali and Fatima, peace be upon all of them.
went to see him, and I saw him leaning on the entrance of the tent reading a book in his hand. I said, ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! May my parents be sacrificed for your sake! What brought you to this desolate land which has neither countryside nor strongholds?'
He, peace be upon him, said to me, ‘These people [the Umayyads] terrorized me, and here are the letters of the people of Kufa, my assassins. So, once they do it, leaving no sanctity of Allah without violating it, Allah will send them those who will kill them till they become more debased than a bondmaid's rag'.”(1)
Having reached al-Hajir(2) from the direction of al-Rumma, he sent the people of Kufa the answer to the letter he had received from Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil and dispatched it with Qays Ibn Mushir al-Saydawi(3). In it, he said, “Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil's letter reached me.
In it, he informs me of your consensus to support us and to demand our rights; therefore, I plead to Allah to enable us to do what is good and to reward you with the greatest of His rewards. I have come to you from Mecca on the eighth of Thul-Hijjah; so, if my messenger reaches you, maintain your stand, for I shall reach you in a few days.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) departed from al-Hajir. As he passed by each watering place of the Arabs, the number of those who joined him kept increasing(4). Finally he reached a watering place
where he met ‘Abdullah Ibn Muti’ al-’Adawi.
When the latter came to know that al-Husayn (‘a) intended to reach Iraq, he said to him, “I fear for you, O son of the Messenger of Allah, lest the sanctity of Islam should be violated, and I plead to you in the Name of Allah with regard to the Arab's sanctity. By Allah! If you seek what is in the hands of Banu Umayyah, they will kill you, and once they have killed you, they will not fear anyone else after you,” but al-Husayn (‘a) insisted on marching(1).
He, peace be upon him, stayed at al-Khuzaymiyya(2) for one day and one night. In the morning, his sister Zainab, peace be upon her, came to him and said, “I heard a voice saying:
O eyes, do exceedingly celebrate!
Who, after me, shall the martyrs mourn?
Who shall mourn folks driven by fate
To their destiny, to fulfill a promise sworn?”
He said, “O sister! Whatever is decreed shall come to pass.”(3)
When al-Husayn (‘a) reached Zarud(4), Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn al-Bajali(5), who did not support him and even hated to be near him, alighted near him. Water gathered them somehow at the same place. As Zuhayr and his group were eating, a messenger sent by al-Husayn (‘a) came to them inviting Zuhayr to meet his master Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a).
Zuhayr hesitated to say anything, but his wife, Dulham daughter of ‘Amr, urged him to meet the Imam (‘a) and to listen to what he had to say(6).
Zuhayr, therefore, went and swiftly returned
elated with his face showing signs of excitement. He ordered all is belongings to be packed. He also ordered everyone to go to the Master of the Youths of Paradise (‘a). He said to his wife, “Go to your family, for I hate to see you receiving any harm on my account.”
Then he said to those around him, “Whoever among you loves to support the son of the Messenger of Allah (S), let him join us; otherwise, this should be the last time I see you.”
Then he narrated to them what Salman al-Farsi had foretold him with regard to the imminent battle. Zuhayr said, “We invaded Ballinger(1) and we were victorious, so we acquired a great deal of booty and we, therefore, were very glad. When Salman al-Farsi(2) saw how excited we all were, he said, ‘If you ever meet the Master of the Youths from the Progeny of Muhammad, peace of Allah and blessings be upon him and his progeny, you should then be more elated for fighting on his side than you now are elated on account of your booty; as for me, I now bid you farewell.'”(3)
Zuhayr's wife said, “Allah has chosen this honour for you, and I request you to remember me on the Day of Judgment and say a good word on my behalf to al-Husayn's grandfather, peace be upon him.”(4)
At Zarud, the Imam (‘a) was informed of how Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil and Hani Ibn ‘Urwah were killed, so he kept repeating: Inna lillah
wa inna ilayhi rajia’un (We belong to Allah, and to Him shall we return), as he wept, pleading to Allah to have mercy on them(1).
With him the Hashemites wept, too, and there was a great deal of wailing coming from the women’s quarters, so much so that the whole place was shaken because of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil being killed. Tears poured profusely.(2)
‘Abdullah Ibn Salim and al-Munthir Ibn al-Mashma’il, both from the tribe of Asad, said to the Imam (‘a), “We plead to you in the Name of Allah, O son of the Messenger of Allah, to go away, for you will not find any supporter in Mecca.”
‘Aqil's offspring stood up and said, “We shall not leave before seeking revenge or taste of what our brother has tasted.” Al-Husayn (‘a) looked at them and said, “There is nothing good in life after these folks.”(3)
O ‘Aqil's son! May you be sacrificed by every soul
For your calamity is the greatest of all...
Let's mourn it with hearts grieved,
For what values our every salted tear?
How many daughters of yours are bereaved,
With hearts within set on fire not fear?
Consoled by the Prophet's grandfather?
So she may near him be pleased.
Now says she, “An uncle of mine is now gone,
“Now who shall his own orphan console?
“Bereaved, spending the night stung by pain,
“Expelled, from her home exiled?”
And how many a courageous warrior
In whose heart did she the fire of grief ignite?
Your cousin, on the Taff, did you support,
With his counselling family did he mourn you.
Surrounded by youths like
the morning shone,
Youths whose lineage to everyone is known.
We mourned your youth and tragedy
Marked with death and sad destiny.
A ma'tam he held for you despite his condition
And even white deer wailed for you.
He called upon his near in kin:
“Avenge his death, O family of the Fatiha!”
Into the mire of death did he lead them,
But now the deer are the ones mired.
Says he, “O folks stingy with their souls!
“Your battle, though serious, is mocked,” he calls.
At al-Tha’labiyya, a man came to Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and asked him about the meaning of the verse saying,
“(Remember) the Day when We will call every people by their Imam” (Qur’an, 17:71).
He, peace be upon him, said to him,
“An Imam calls others for guidance and is answered positively, while another imam calls others to misguidance and is also answered positively: this group shall be in Paradise, and that shall be in hell, and it is the explanation of the verse saying,
‘A party shall be in Paradise, and another shall be in the burning fire' (Qur’an, 42:7).”(1)
At the same place, a man from Kufa met him. The Imam said to him, “By Allah! Had I met you in Medina, I would have showed you the marks Gabriel had left in our house and the place where he used to descend with revelation to my grandfather, O brother of Kufa! It is from us that knowledge initiates. Have they become learned while we became ignorant? This shall never be.”(2)
Bajir, of al-Tha’labiyya, narrates saying, “Al-Husayn
passed by us when I was a young lad. My brother said to him, ‘O son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah! I see your followers to be very small in number.' With his whip he pointed to a saddlebag a man was carrying [for him] and said, ‘This is full of letters.'”(1)
At al-Shuquq(2), al-Husayn (‘a) saw a man coming from Kufa(3), so he asked him about the people of Iraq. He informed the Imam (‘a) that they were all against him. He, peace be upon him, said, “The affair is with Allah; our Lord does whatever He pleases. Our Lord, Praise to Him, each day manages the affairs.” Then he quoted the following verses of poetry(4):
If this abode is held as dear,
In the abode of Allah, the rewards
Are more sublime and noble.
If wealth is hoarded to be left behind,
Why should one be miser with what is left?
If sustenance is destined in proportion,
To be less concerned about it is more beautiful.
And if the bodies are for death made,
One killed for the sake of Allah is surely better.
So peace of Allah be upon you,
O family of Muhammad!
For I see myself from you soon departing.
At Zubala, he was informed that ‘Abdullah Ibn Yaqtur, the man dispatched by al-Husayn (‘a) to Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil, had been killed. Al-Hasin Ibn Namir arrested him at al-Qadisiyya and sent him to ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad who ordered him to ascend the pulpit and to curse the liar son of the liar.
When ‘Abdullah Ibn
Yaqtur looked at the people from the pulpit, he said, “O people! I am the messenger of al-Husayn son of Fatima (‘a) to you so that you may support and assist him against the son of Marjana,” whereupon ‘Ubaydullah ordered him thrown from the mansion’s rooftop. He was hurled down from there. His bones were crushed, but he did not die.
A man named ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr al-Lakhmi came to him and cut his throat. When the latter was shamed for having done so, he said, “I killed him in order to put an end to his suffering.” It is also said that the man who killed him was tall and that he looked like ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr.
The Imam (‘a) informed those who were in his company of what had happened, giving them the option to leave. They dispersed right and left. Those who remained with him were his own companions who had come with him from Mecca.
Actually, a large number of bedouins had joined him thinking that he was going to a land where he would be welcomed by supporting natives. He, peace be upon him, hated for them to march with him except with their knowledge of what to expect, knowing fully well that if he permitted them to leave, only those who were ready to support him to the end would remain.(1)
The Imam (‘a) left Zubala, reaching al-’Aqaba's heartland where he said to his companions, “There is no doubt in my mind that I am
going to be killed. In a vision, I saw myself being mauled by dogs the most fierce among them was spotted.”(1)
‘Amr Ibn Lawthan, of Banu ‘Ikrimah, suggested to him to return to Medina due to the treachery and betrayal upon which the people of Kufa were bent. Abu ‘Abdullah, peace be upon him, said, “I am not unfamiliar with their attitude, yet Allah's will shall never be overruled.”(2)
Then he, peace be upon him, said, “They shall not leave me till I am dead, and once they have done it, Allah will send upon them those who will humiliate them till they become the most abased among all nations.”(3)
Al-Husayn (‘a) left al-’Aqaba then set up his camp at Sharaf(4). In the pre-dawn, he ordered his servants to fill their water bags with water. At midday, he heard a man among his companions crying, “Allahu Akbar!” Al-Husayn (‘a) asked him about the reason. “I did so upon seeing palm-trees,” said the man, but those who were in his company denied that there could be any palm-trees in such a place, and that what he saw could have been lances and horses' ears.
Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “I am of the same view,” then he asked them whether they could shelter themselves anywhere. They suggested a place called Thu Hasam(5) on their left side. Al-Husayn (‘a) swiftly moved there and set up his camp.
Soon, al-Hurr al-Riyai(6) came to them face-to-face escorted by a thousand cavaliers. He was dispatched by [‘Ubaydullah] Ibn
Ziyad in order to prohibit al-Husayn (‘a) from going back to Medina, to arrest him, and to bring him to Kufa. It was a very hot midday when al-Hurr and his men confronted al-Husayn (‘a).(1)
When the Master of Martyrs (‘a) saw how thirsty that band was, he ordered his followers to serve water to them and to their horses. They gave each and every one of them water, then they filled water pots and brought them near the horses each one of which drank three to five times of them till they all drank to their fill.(2)
‘Ali Ibn al-Ti’an al-Muharibi was in al-Hurr’s company. He happened to be the last to be served, so he was suffering acutely of the pangs of thirst. In his Hijazi accent, al-Husayn (‘a) said to him, “Ankhi al-rawiya,” but the man did not understand what he (‘a) meant. The Imam (‘a), therefore, repeated his statement, this time using classical Arabic: “Ankhil-jamal.”
When the man tried to drink, he caused the water to run wastefully out of the water-bag, so the Fragrant Flower of the Messenger of Allah (S) now said to him, “Ankhi al-siqa,” but the poor man did not know exactly what to do due to his inability to think because, again, of the thirst from which he was severely suffering.
This time the Imam (‘a) stood up and adjusted the water-bag for that man in person till he drank enough, then he (‘a) watered his horse as well.
Such is the kindness
and compassion of the most Oppressed One towards that band that met in a desert where each drop of water was as precious as life itself. Surely he was fully aware of the situation being so precarious, knowledgeable of the consequences should water run out the next day, knowing that it could be the sole cause of death. But the Prophet's blood that ran in his veins, and the exemplary generosity of his father ‘Ali (‘a), did not leave him any choice.
O son of al-Zahra’, heart of ‘Ali the valiant,
O soul of the guiding Prophet!
Strange how these people did not
Come to you to sacrifice themselves for you;
But they did not value your precious soul:
How can dust be compared with the mountain?
How wondrous to see Allah's Clemency
When they, as He watched, violated your sanctity!
How strange, the favourites of Allah became
For Yazid and for Ziyad a booty to claim!
Then al-Husayn (‘a) welcomed them. He praised Allah and glorified Him then said:
“This is to seek pardon of Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Mighty, and of your own selves: I did not come to you except after having received your letters which your messengers delivered to me, requesting me to come to you, saying, “We have no Imam, so come to us, perhaps Allah will gather all of us under the shade of His guidance.”
So if the case is as such, then I have come to you; therefore, provide me with that whereby I can trust your promises and covenants. But
if you hate my arrival, then I shall leave you and go to where I had come from.”
The men did not utter one word. Al-Hajjaj Ibn Masruq al-Ju’fi called the athan for the noon prayers. It was then that al-Husayn (‘a) asked al-Hurr, “Would you like to lead your men for the prayers?” He answered: “No. Rather, we will all pray behind you.”
The Imam (‘a) led the prayers.
Having finished the prayers, the Imam (‘a) faced them, praised and glorified Allah and blessed Prophet Muhammad (S) then said,
“O people! If you fear Allah and wish to get to know who follows righteousness, it will please Allah better. We, the family of Muhammad (S), are more worthy of you in shouldering the responsibility of authority, more so than these who lay a claim to what does not belong to them, whose tradition is oppression and transgression.
If you insist on hating us and ignoring our right, and if your view now is different from what your letters to me described, then I will part from you.”
Al-Hurr said, “I do not know what letters you are talking about.” Al-Husayn (‘a) immediately ordered ‘Uqbah Ibn Sam’an to bring out two saddlebags full of letters. Al-Hurr said, “I am not among their senders, and I have been ordered not to part with you once I meet you till I bring you to Ibn Ziyad in Kufa.”
Imam al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Death is closer to your reach than that.” He ordered his companions to ride, and
the women, too, rode, but al-Hurr forbade them from going to Medina, so al-Husayn (‘a) said to al-Hurr, “May your mother lose you! What do you want of us?” “Should anyone else other than you say so to me,” al-Hurr responded, “and he is in the same boat as you now are, I would not hesitate to let his mother lose him no matter who he may be!
By Allah! I have no way to refer to your mother except in the very best of way of which we are capable. But let us come to a mid-way between both of us which neither leads you to Kufa nor takes you back to Medina till I write Ibn Ziyad, perhaps Allah will grant me safety and not try me with anything relevant to your issue.” After a short while he added saying,
“I admonish you to remember Allah with regard to your life, for I testify that should you fight, you will be killed.” Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Are you scaring me with death?! Will your calamity really lead you to kill me? In that case, let me say what the brother of the Aws [tribe] said to his cousin who desired to support the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah be upon him and his Progeny:(1)
I shall proceed: There is no shame
A man to his death goes.
If he truly intends so and
As a Muslim struggles,
And if he the righteous with his life consoles,
Leaving a depraved one, opposing a criminal.
I live, I shall not regret or be shamed
But if I die, surely I shall not be blamed
Humiliation suffices you if you accept to be oppressed.”
Having heard him say so, al-Hurr stayed away from him. Al-Husayn (‘a), therefore, rode with his companions in one area while al-Hurr and his fellows rode in another.(1)
At al-Bayda(2), the Imam (‘a) delivered a speech to al-Hurr's companions after having praised and glorified Allah. In it he said,
“O people! The Messenger of Allah (S) has said, “If one sees an oppressive ruler, who makes lawful what Allah has made unlawful, and he does not get him to alter his conduct through something he does or says, it will be incumbent upon Allah to resurrect him in that ruler's company. These folks have upheld Satan and abandoned their obedience to the most Merciful One, demonstrating corruption and making mischief evident.
They idled the limits (set forth by Allah) and took to their own selves what belonged to others, prohibiting what Allah has permitted and permitting what He has prohibited. I am the best suitable person to change the situation. Your letters reached me, and so did some of your messengers who brought me your oath not to hand me over [to my foes] or to betray me.
If you, therefore, complete the terms of your oath of allegiance, you will achieve the right guidance, for I am al-Husayn son of ‘Ali and Fatima daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S). My soul is with yours, my
family is with your families, and you have in me a model of conduct.
But if you do not, and if you violate your promise and renege in your oath of allegiance to me, then, by my life, it will not be the first time that you do so: you did so to my father, to my brother [Imam al-Hasan (‘a)], and to my cousin Muslim.
Deceived is whoever trusts you. Surely it is to the detriment of your own luck that you thus err, rendering your lot a loss. Whoever reneges, he, indeed, reneges against his own soul, and Allah shall suffice me for you, and peace be with you and the mercy and blessings of Allah”. (1)
At al-Ruhayma(2), a Kufian named Abu Haram met the Imam (‘a) and said to him, “O son of the Messenger of Allah! What made you leave the sanctuary of your grandfather?” The Imam (‘a) said, “O Abu Haram! Banu Umayyah taunted my honour, and I took to patience. And they confiscated my wealth, and I again took to patience.
Then they sought to kill me, so I fled. By Allah! They will kill me. Allah will then cover them with an overwhelming humiliation and with a sharp sword which He will place over their heads, a word that will abase them(3) till they become more abased than the people of Saba' (Sheba) who were ruled by a woman over their wealth and their lives.”(4)
At al-Qadisiyya, al-Hasin Ibn Namir al-Tamimi arrested Qays Ibn
Mushir al-Saydawi, al-Husayn's messenger to the people of Kufa. Al-Hasin had been ordered by Ibn Ziyad to station cavaliers to guard the area between Khafan and Qatqatana(1). When he wanted to search the messenger, the latter took the letter out and shredded it.
He was brought to Ibn Ziyad who asked him why he had shredded the letter. He told Ibn Ziyad that he did so in order that they would not know what it contained. But Ibn Ziyad insisted that he should tell him about its contents. Qays refused, whereupon Ibn Ziyad said to him, “Ascend the pulpit and curse al-Husayn and his father and brother; otherwise, I will cut you to pieces.”
Qays ascended the pulpit, praised and glorified Allah and blessed the Prophet (S) and his Progeny (‘a) and was profuse in imploring Allah's blessings on the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and on al-Hasan and al-Husayn (‘a).
Moreover, he cursed ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad and his father and all Banu Umayyah, then he said, “O people! I am the messenger of al-Husayn (‘a) to you! I have left him in such-and-such a place; so, you should rush to his aid.” Ibn Ziyad ordered him to be thrown from his mansion's rooftop. He was thrown; his bones were crushed, and he died(2).
Some accounts say that he did not die immediately, so ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr al-Lakhmi slit his throat [as stated above]. When he was blamed for doing so, he said, “I only wanted to put an end to his
At ‘Uthayb al-Hajanat(2), al-Husayn (‘a) met four men who were leaving Kufa on camel-back, taking with them “al-Kamil,” a horse belonging to a man called Nafi’ Ibn Hilal. They were: ‘Amr Ibn Khalid al-Saydawi, his slave Sa’d, Majma’ Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Mathhaji, and Nafi’ Ibn Hilal. Their guide, al-Tirimmah Ibn ‘Adiy al-Ta’i, was chanting the following verses:
O my she-camel! Do not complain of my impatience,
And set out just before the sun rises,
So we may join the best of riders and embark
Upon the best journey till we reach
One beautified with the best of descent,
The munificent, the free, the open-hearted one
Whom Allah brought for the best of affair:
May He preserve him as He preserves time!
When they reached al-Husayn, peace be upon him, they chanted those verses for him, so he (‘a) said, “By Allah! I hope what Allah fares with us will be good, whether we are killed, or whether we win victory.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) asked them about the public opinion. They said, “Prominent personalities have received great bribes; people's hearts are with you, while the swords are turned against you.” They informed him of Qays Ibn Mushir al-Saydawi having been killed, so he, peace be upon him, quoted the Qur’anic verse saying,
“... of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who awaits” (Qur’an, 33:23).
“O Allah!” he added, “Make Paradise our home and theirs, and include us and them in Your mercy and in all what is desired of Your treasured rewards.”
Al-Tirimmah has said, “I saw people
before my departure from Kufa meeting outside. I asked them about it, and they said to me, ‘They are being paraded, then shall they be sent away to fight al-Husayn.' I, therefore, plead to you in the Name of Allah not to go to fight them, for I see none aiding you. If only this group fights you, the same one I see watching you, they will suffice to put an end to you.
Come with us in order to settle at our mountain, ‘Aja. It protected us from the kings of Ghassan and Himyar, from al-Nu’man Ibn al-Munthir, and from al-Aswad and al-Ahmar. By Allah, after no more than ten days, Tay's men will come to your aid riding or on foot. I guarantee you twenty thousand men from Tay who will defend you with their swords till it becomes clear to you what you wish to do.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) prayed Allah to reward him and his people with goodness then said, “A covenant binds us to the people, and we cannot depart till destiny deals between us and them.”
Al-Tirimmah then asked his permission to get provisions to reach his own family, promising that he would hurry back to support him. He granted him permission as others accompanied him.
Al-Tirimmah delivered the provisions to his people then quickly returned. Having reached ‘Uthayb al-Hajanat, he came to know that al-Husayn, peace be upon him, had been killed, so he went back.(1)
A-Husayn (‘a) marched from ‘Uthayb al-Hajanat till he reached Qasr Bani
Muqatil(1). There, he saw a tent, a lance planted in the ground, and a mare waiting. He inquired about them and was told that they belonged to ‘Ubaydullah Ibn al-Hurr al-Ju’fi(2). Al-Husayn (‘a) sent him al-Hajjaj Ibn Masruq al-Ju’fi as his messenger.
Ibn al-Hurr asked him what he wanted. He said, “I have a gift for you and I have esteem, if you only accept. Al-Husayn (‘a) invites you to support him. If you fight for him, you will be rewarded, and if you get killed, you will be a martyr.” Ibn al-Hurr said, “By Allah! I did not leave Kufa except on account of the large number of people whom I saw going out to fight him, and on account of his own Shi’as betraying him; so I realized that he was certainly going to be killed and that I am unable to do much for him; I do not like him to see me, nor do I like to see him.”(3)
Al-Hajjaj relayed what he had heard to al-Husayn (‘a) who stood up and, accompanied by a number of his family members and companions, entered al-Hurr's tent. The latter seated the Imam (‘a) in the middle. Ibn al-Hurr himself narrated later saying, “I never saw in my life anyone better looking or greater than al-Husayn, nor did I ever feel sorry for anyone as much as I felt sorry for him when I saw him walking surrounded by very young men.
I looked at his beard and found it as
dark as a raven's wing, so I asked him whether it was naturally black or whether he had dyed it. He said to me, ‘O Ibn al-Hurr! Gray hair hastened to me,' so I realized that he had dyed it.”(1)
Having settled there, Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) praised Allah and glorified Him then said, “O Ibn al-Hurr! Your countrymen wrote me saying that they were unanimous in supporting me. They asked me to go to them, but it seems it is not as they claimed(2).
You have committed a great many sins; so, would you like to seek repentance whereby you wipe out your sins?” He said, “And how is that, O son of the Messenger of Allah?” Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “You should support the son of your Prophet's daughter and fight on his side.”(3)
Ibn al-Hurr said, “By Allah! I know that whoever supports you will be happy in the hereafter, but how much help can I afford you, having left in Kufa none to support you? I, therefore, plead to you in the Name of Allah to agree to this plan of mine, for I hate to die!
My mare, al-Mulhiqa, is such that I never pursued anything except that it caught up with it, nor did anyone pursue me except that I outran him. Take her; she is yours.” Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Should you prefer your own safety over supporting our cause, we have no need for your mare or for you(4):
‘You should not take those who mislead others for friends' (Qur’an,
I advise you just as you advised me, that if you can, do not hear our cries, nor should you witness our battle, for by Allah, whoever hears our mourners and refuses to come to our rescue will be hurled by Allah into the fire of hell headlong.”(2)
Ibn al-Hurr regretted having lost the opportunity to support al-Husayn (‘a), so he composed the following poetic lines:
So long as I live, so shall my sigh
Reverberating between my chest and my choke
When he did say to me at the mansion:
“Should you really leave us and from us depart?”
Husayn in humility seeks my support
Against the people of enmity and dissension.
Should sighing cleave a freeman's chest,
My heart would now be cleft.
Had I defended him with my life
I would have earned mercy on the Day of Meeting.
Had I fought beside Muhammad's son, may I
For him sacrifice my life;
So bid farewell and hurry to set out,
Surely winners are those who support Husayn,
While deeds of others, the hypocrites, will be in vain.
At the same place, ‘Amr Ibn Qays al-Mashfari and his cousin met al-Husayn (‘a) who asked them whether they had met him in order to support him. They said to him, “We have a large number of dependents and we have many items which belong to others.
We do not know what will happen, and we hate not to give people back what they had entrusted to us.” He, peace be upon him, said to them, “Go, and do not hear our women mourn, nor should you
see us wearing black, for whoever hears our women wailing or sees our black without supporting us, it will be incumbent upon Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, to hurl him in hellfire headlong.”(1)
When the night came to a close, the Imam (‘a) ordered his servants to fill their water bags and to leave Qasr Bani Muqatil. On their way, al-Husayn (‘a) was heard repeating: Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi rajia’un, wal hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘a lamin... (We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return, and all Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds).
His son, ‘Ali al-Akbar, heard him and asked about the reason which prompted him to keep repeating these statements. Said the Imam (‘a), “I drowsed for a moment, whereupon I saw a horseman saying, ‘These people are marching as fates march towards them,' so I realized that we are being eulogized.” “May Allah never permit you to see any evil,” said ‘Ali al-Akbar,
“Are we not right?” “We are, by the One to Whom all the servants shall return,” al-Husayn (‘a) answered. “O father! In that case, we do not mind at all having to die so long as we are right,” said ‘Ali. Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “May Allah reward you for being such a good son with the best of rewards whereby He rewards a son on behalf of his father.”(2)
Al-Husayn (‘a) kept marching till he arrived at Ninawa(3).
There, an armed man riding a camel was seen coming in their direction.
They waited for him. He turned out to be a messenger sent by Ibn Ziyad to al-Hurr carrying a letter wherein he was ordering al-Hurr to be rough in treating al-Husayn (‘a) and not to permit him to set up his camp anywhere other than in the wilderness where there was neither access to water nor any natural fortifications.
Such was the letter which al-Hurr himself had read to al-Husayn (‘a) who said to him, “Let us camp at Ninawa, or al-Ghadiriyya, or Shufayya.” “I cannot do that,” said al-Hurr, “for the man [governor] has already assigned men to spy on me.” (1)
Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn said, “O son of the Messenger of Allah! Fighting this band is easier for us than fighting those who will come after them. By my life! Armies will come to us which our eyes had never seen before.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) said to him, “I shall not be the one who fights them first.” Then Zuhayr said, “There is a village nearby at the bank of the Euphrates; it is defensible and it overlooks the Euphrates from all but one direction.” Al-Husayn (‘a) asked him about its name, and when he came to know that it was called “al-’Aqr,”(2) [which means in Arabic “hamstringing”], the Imam (‘a) said, “We seek refuge with Allah against hamstringing.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) then turned to al-Hurr and asked him to keep on marching further.
They all marched till they reached an area called Karbala’. There, al-Hurr and his company stopped in front of al-Husayn
(‘a), forbidding him from going any further, saying, “This place is near the Euphrates.” It is said that as they were marching, al-Husayn's horse stopped and refused to move just as Allah had caused the she-camel of the Prophet (S) to stop at the Hudaibiya(1).
It was then that al-Husayn (‘a) inquired about the name of that place. Zuhayr said to him, “Keep on marching and do not ask about anything till Allah brings us ease. This land is called al-Taff.” He, peace be upon him, asked him whether it had any other name, so he told him that it was also called “Karbala’”. It was then that the Imam (‘a) started weeping(2).
He said, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You against the karb [affliction] and bala’ [trial and tribulation]!(3) Here shall we camp, and here will our blood be spilled and our graves be dug! My grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S) had told me so.” (4)
By Allah! Never shall I forget, even if all do,
How his charging mare stood at al-Taff,
O mare of his! Did the hand of fate tie you
So you stood and refused to budge?
You used to be faster than a cloud's lightning;
Calamity descends whether you speed or not.
Should you not have avoided the road and strayed
From that valley to the wide expanse?
How did you take him to perdition, may you
Lose your father, how dared you?
Why did you not refuse, why?
O what a great stand when
Those throngs did gather and stand!
A great stand that shook the
Of Allah's ‘Arsh a great shaking,
So shall Yazid stand One Day
When it will be said to Ahmad:
“Stand up and intercede!”
A stand, it was, followed by a fall
That gave us a drink hard to take
A stand, it was, that caused Muhammad's progeny
To always grieve till the Pretender, for eternity.(1)
His arrival at Karbala’ took place on Muharram 2, 61 A.H/October 5, 680 A.D.(2) He gathered his children, sisters, and other family members. He cast a look at them then burst in tears. He supplicated saying,
“O Allah! We are the progeny of Your Prophet Muhammad! We have been expelled and estranged from our grandfather's sanctuary, and Banu Umayyah oppressed us. O Allah! Seek revenge on them on our behalf, and grant us victory over the oppressing people.”
He approached his companions saying, “People are the worshippers of this life, giving religion their lip-service; they uphold it as long as their livelihood is profitable. Once they are afflicted with a trial, few, indeed, will be those who uphold religion.”(3)
Then he praised Allah and glorified Him, blessing Muhammad and his Progeny, adding,
“Our affair has reached the point which you can see. Life has changed and turned against us. Its goodness has abandoned us, leaving nothing but a trickle like a pot dripping and a life of hardship like an afflicted pasture.
Do you not see how righteousness is not upheld and how falsehood is not shunned? Let every believer desire the meeting with Allah I see death as nothing but a source
of happiness while living with the oppressors as sure displeasure”.(1)
Zuhayr stood up and said, “We have heard your statement, O son of the Messenger of Allah! Had life been secured for us forever, we would still have preferred to rise with you rather than remain therein.”
Burayr stood up and said, “O son of the Messenger of Allah! Allah has blessed us with your company so that we may fight defending you till our parts are cut off for your sake, then your grandfather will intercede on our behalf on the Day of Judgment.”(2)
Nafi’ Ibn Hilal said, “You know that your grandfather the Messenger of Allah (S), could not instill his love in the heart of people nor make them obey him and do what he liked them to do, and there were many hypocrites among them who promised to support him while hiding their treacherous intentions against him.
They would meet him and speak to him words sweeter than honey then depart from him with those more bitter than colocynth till Allah took his soul away. Your father ‘Ali underwent the same.
There were folks who were unanimous in supporting and fighting with him against those who broke their promises, who regarded themselves as more fair than him, and who abandoned the creed altogether, till he met his fate.
He went to a mercy from Allah and pleasure. Today, you are with us in the same situation: there are those who reneged from their promise of support and who abandoned their
oath of loyalty. These shall not harm except their own selves, and Allah shall suffice you for them; so, march with us, being rightly guided and in good health, be it to the east of the earth or to the west.
By Allah, we are not too scared to meet Allah's destiny, nor do we hate to meet our Lord. We are determined to befriend whoever befriends you and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes you.”(1)
With my father's life do I sacrifice
Those who, with their own demise,
Opted to meet and support al-Husayn.
They stood to thwart the lances,
And the arrows, like solid statues.
With white necks did they shield him against the swords,
With their glorious faces they kept arrows from him.
A band, they were, that
In a night battle, their lances would sparkle
And if the swords sing, and the cups of death go round,
And everyone sober is elated with joy,
They distanced themselves from the swords,
They separated the foes' souls from their bodies.
Their greatest feast was when they joined al-Husayn
So they became his sacrifice at the Taff.
Never shall I forget, though distant from them,
How lofty their glory was though their foe
Numbered as much as the valley's water flow.
Defending the Prophet's creed he was
With a spark that removes the darkness of shirk.
So hearts would fly away in terror at his sight,
Whenever he mounted his steed as though on wings;
Then when thirst, and the sun, and the bleeding,
When his arms weighed heavily on him,
He stood for a short respite; it was then when
Fate shot him with
an easy arrow,
And the throne fell on the ground,
And with the ashes of the calamity
All was covered with the dark.
My heart was on fire for Zainab when she
Saw how in the dust, heavy with wounds, was his body.
Stole her tongue away was the calamity,
So she addressed him with her tears that were
More eloquent than words could ever be:
O one who shatters misguidance, who brightens the night,
O shade from the heat, O bright light of the day!
You were for me a fortified haven, a cool shade,
When life was still within you,
Can you see how the people
Whenever we pass by you, prohibit us
From mourning you, from weeping, from wailing?
If my humiliation rests easily with you,
If my estrangement with the foes, if my exile,
And if my being a captive in the hands of the foes
Riding on bare she-camels,
Is against my wish to see you
Lingering among dark lances and white swords,
Your corpse on the sands, your head raised on lance's tips.
How I lament those who drank of the pool of death,
How they were kept away from accessible Euphrates...
How I lament those who wore reddened attires
Decorated by wanton winds...(1)
Al-Husayn (‘a) bought the lots where his grave now stands from the residents of Ninawa and al-Ghadiriyya for sixty thousand dirhams. He then turned and gave it back to them as charity on one condition: they lead people to his gravesite and host whoever visited it for three days. Al-Husayn's sanctuary, which he bought, was four miles long by four miles wide.
It is lawful for his offspring
and those loyal to him and is prohibited from those who oppose them. It is full of bliss. Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) has said that those people did not fulfill that condition.(1)
When al-Husayn (‘a) camped at Karbala’, he wrote Ibn al-Hanafiyya and a group from Banu Hashim saying, “It is as if this life has never been, and as if the hereafter has always been, and peace be with you.”(2)
Al-Hurr sent a message to Ibn Ziyad telling him that al-Husayn (‘a) was camping at Karbala’, whereupon Ibn Ziyad wrote al-Husayn (‘a) saying, “O Husayn! It has come to my knowledge that you have camped at Karbala’. The commander of the faithful, Yazid, had already written me ordering me not to sleep on any soft bed nor drink enough wine till I send you to the Munificent One, the all-Knowing, unless you submit to my authority and to that of Yazid, Wassalam.”
Having read this letter, al-Husayn (‘a) threw it away saying, “Those who buy the pleasure of the creatures with the price of the Creator's Wrath shall never succeed”.
The messenger asked him to respond to the letter, but the Imam (‘a) said to him, “I have no answer for him because he has already been condemned with the torment.”
She saw him riding one of two,
As the war gnawed its teeth:
Either he surrenders or
Death is to be faced
By a soul whose surrender honours refused;
So he said to her: Seek refuge with destiny,
For honour is a dignified man's
If you find no attire other than humiliation,
Then through death will the body be dismantled.
He saw firmness till death as the mark of honourable men,
A cause of pride, an ornament;
He got ready for the battle
Wherein knights were subdued by death,
To the depth of the heavens did he ignite it,
Red in blaze, burning in heat.
He stood though the ground beneath him did shake
Under the warriors' feet like an earthquake...(1)
The same messenger informed Ibn Ziyad of what Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) had said. His rage intensified(2) and he ordered ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d to march out to Karbala’. The latter had been camping at Hammam A’yan with four thousand men who were being dispatched to Dustaba where the people of Daylam had declared mutiny(3).
Ibn Ziyad had written him a promise to place him in charge of governing Rey, Dustaba's fortified border, as well as Daylam(4). Ibn Sa’d asked him to relieve him of such a task, so Ibn Ziyad required him to return his written promise to him, giving him one night's respite to reconsider. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d gathered his advisers who advised him not to march to fight al-Husayn (‘a).
His sister's son, Hamzah Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Shu’bah, said to him, “I plead to you in the Name of Allah not to march to fight al-Husayn and thus cut off your offspring and commit a sin against your Lord! By Allah! If you depart from this world after having lost all your wealth and authority, it will be much better for you
than having to meet Allah stained with Husayn's blood.”(1)
Ibn Sa’d said, “If Allah so pleases, I will do so.” He spent his night contemplating upon his affairs. He was heard saying:
Should I abandon the domains of Rey
Though it is my ultimate desire?
Or should I return in ignominy,
Shamed for killing al-Husayn?
For killing him there is nothing but the fire
One from which there is no shield though I
See the domains of Rey as the apple of my eye!(2)
In the morning, he met Ibn Ziyad and said to him, “You have put me in charge of a mission of which people have already heard; so, let me carry it out, and send to the battlefield those who are no less competent than I am.”
He then named a number of Kufa's dignitaries. Ibn Ziyad said, “I do not receive orders from you with regard to who I dispatch If you march, do so with our troops; otherwise, hand me over the covenant which I had written you.” When he saw how persistent Ibn Ziyad was, Ibn Sa’d agreed to march(3).
He, therefore, went to face al-Husayn (‘a) with four thousand men, and al-Hurr and everyone with him joined his forces. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d ordered ‘Izra Ibn Qays al-Ahmasi to meet al-Husayn (‘a) and to ask him about what had brought him here, but ‘Izra requested to be relieved of having to do so, saying that he was one of those who had written al-Husayn (‘a). He asked the other prominent chiefs with him, but they,
too, asked to be excused for the same reason...
Kathir Ibn ‘Ubaydullah al-Sha’bi stood up, and he was quite a daring man. He leaned on his cane and said, “I can meet him, and if you wish, I shall kill him, too.” Ibn Sa’d said, “No, do not kill him but ask him about what had brought him there.”
Kathir came to meet the Imam (‘a); he was recognized by Abu Thumama al-Sa’idi who stood up in his face and shouted at him to put his sword on the ground before entering the Imam's tent. He refused, so he was turned away. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d called upon Qurrah Ibn Qays al-Hanzali to ask al-Husayn (‘a) the same question.
Qurrah delivered the message that he had brought from Ibn Sa’d to the Imam who responded by saying, “The people of your land wrote me asking me to go to them; so, if you now hate my presence, I shall go somewhere else.” The messenger went back and conveyed these words to Ibn Sa’d who, in turn, wrote Ibn Ziyad informing him of what al-Husayn (‘a) had said.
Soon the answer came: “Give Husayn and his band the option to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid. If he does, we will decide what to do with him.”(1)
Ibn Ziyad gathered people at Kufa's grand mosque where he delivered a speech to them, saying,
“O people! You tried Abu Sufyan's offspring and found them just as you like, and you have come to know
how good in conduct the commander of the faithful, Yazid, has been and how generous to his subjects. The highways have become, during his regime, quite safe. So was the case during the time of his father Mu’awiyah.
His son, Yazid, is even more generous towards Allah's servants, enriching them with wealth. He has doubled your payment and ordered me to make funds available to all of you and to require you to come out to fight his enemy, al-Husayn; so, you should listen to him and you should obey”.
As soon as he came down from the pulpit, he distributed money then went out to al-Nukhayla(1) where he camped. He called to his presence al-Hasin Ibn Namir al-Tamimi, Hijar Ibn Abjar, Shimr Ibn Thul-Jawshan, Shabth Ibn Rab’i, ordering them to go to Ibn Sa’d's aid.
Shabth sent word saying that he was sick(2), so he sent him a letter in which he said, “My messenger informs me of your pretending to be sick, and I fear lest you should be among those who, when they meet the believers, say that they believe, and when they meet their demons say: ‘We are with you! We only laugh at them!' So, if you are one of our subjects, come swiftly to us.”
He went to meet him after the evening prayers so that he would not clearly see that there were actually no signs of any sickness showing on his face. He agreed to do what he [Ibn Ziyad] had required of him.(3)
Ibn Ziyad put Zajr Ibn Qays al-Ju’fi in charge of five hundred cavaliers, ordering him to station his troops at the bridge in order to prohibit anyone from reaching al-Husayn (‘a). ‘Amir Ibn Abu Salamah Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Arar al-Dalani passed on the bridge, so Zajr said to him, “I know exactly where you are going; so, go back.”
‘Amir charged at him and at his company, forcing them to flee. None of them dared to come close to him. He reached Karbala’ and joined al-Husayn (‘a) and stayed with him till he was killed in his defense. He had previously participated in all the wars waged by the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib, peace be upon him.(1)
People never ceased expressing their hatred towards having to fight al-Husayn (‘a), the son of the most revered Messenger of Allah (S) and Master of the Youths of Paradise. They had not forgotten all the statements made by the Prophet (S) in his honour and in honour of his father the wasi (‘a), as well as in honour of his chosen brother (‘a).
They all realized his status with Allah when Kufa was hit by a drought and by a famine, so they complained to his father (‘a) who took out this same martyr to pray for rain. It was by the blessings of his holy soul and that of his noor, which is made of that of Muhammad (S), that Allah Almighty responded, sending rain upon the
earth till grass grew after an extended period of drought.
He was also the same person who secured the watering area during the Battle of Siffin, thus making water available for the Muslims who had by then been exhausted by acute thirst(1).
They also came to know how he provided water for al-Hurr and for all the one thousand men and their horses in that desolate desert; that was the incident about which the Kufians were talking everywhere.
How could anyone, hence, meet him face to face and fight him, had it not been for succumbing to inclinations, going to extremes in oppression, and due to the weakness of people when facing temptation? This is why many of those who marched out to meet him deserted and stole their way to safety, so much so that only a small number of them remained by the time they reached Karbala’.
When Ibn Ziyad came to know about the large number of those who deserted, he sent al-Suwayd Ibn ‘Abdul-Rahman al-Minqari in charge of a regiment of cavaliers, ordering him to tour Kufa's alleys and quarters to announce the beginning of the war against al-Husayn (‘a) and to bring him all those who lagged behind.
Among those brought to him was a man from Syria who had gone to Kufa seeking an inheritance belonging to him. Once he was brought to Ibn Ziyad, the latter ordered him to be killed. When people saw how ruthless Ibn Ziyad was, they all went out.(2)
out(1) with four thousand or more; Yazid Ibn al-Rikab marched out with two thousand; al-Hasin Ibn Namir al-Tamimi marched out with four thousand; Shabth Ibn Rab’i marched out with one thousand; Ka’b Ibn Talhah marched out with three thousand; Hijar Ibn Abjar marched out with one thousand; Mudayir Ibn Rahinah al-Mazini marched out with three thousand, and Nasr Ibn Harshah was in command of two thousand(2), thus the total number of those who assembled under the command of Ibn Sa’d on the sixth of Muharram totalled twenty thousand strong(3).
Ibn Ziyad kept sending reinforcements to Ibn Sa’d till the number of the latter’s troops swelled to thirty thousand.
Imam Abu ‘Abdullah, Ja’far as-Sadiq (‘a), has narrated saying, “Al-Husayn (‘a) visited his brother al-Hasan (‘a) during his sickness that caused his martyrdom. Having seen his condition, he wept. Al-Hasan (‘a) asked him, ‘O father of ‘Abdullah! What grieves you?' ‘I am grieved on account of the harm inflicted on you,' he answered.
Al-Hasan, peace be upon him, said, ‘What has been administered to me is only a poison to kill me, but there is no day like your own day, O father of ‘Abdullah, when thirty thousand strong, all claiming to belong to the nation of our grandfather, Muhammad, alleging adherence to the Islamic faith, will assemble to kill you and shed your blood and violate your sanctity and arrest your offspring and women and plunder your wealth.
It is then that Banu Umayyah will be cursed and the sky will rain ashes and
blood, and everything, even the beasts in the jungles and the fish in the seas, will mourn you.”(1)
Ibn Ziyad wrote Ibn Sa’d saying, “I have not left you any excuse with regard to providing you with plenty of horses and men; so, you should not receive the evening nor the day thereafter before I hear good news about you.” He urged him on the sixth day of Muharram to start the war.(2)
They assembled their hosts against Muhammad's son,
At Taff, when they remembered their ancestors...
Allahu Akbar! O pillars of this earth! Dissolve!
The son of piety has to face the hosts
Whose banner the son of the blood-shedder tied,
How insolent they were when they met
His forehead with their very swords...!
Modesty never wetted their faces
Even if they had walked through the Safa,
Even its stones would have felt modest.
How can such Umayyad faces know modesty,
Having shed, by sinning pleasures, their modesty?
They subdued, through their might,
The offspring of al-Zahra’, and they,
Through their swords, dethroned their princes.
They overpowered them till they
Deprived their corpses of being buried.
The world became too small for it so
Wherever it went, death was before and behind.
The back of death they rode, riding dignity even from
The back of the humiliation they rode.
The fangs of death were shown to a band
For which the swords were fates and destiny
Whose hearts were tested by the Almighty...
At a stand where patience and endeavour were put to test.
The might and swords of Muhammad's family used to be
Against those who cried for help and against the enemy.
Even death hated to
meet them in such a way,
Yet Allah loved that they should thus meet Him,
So they leaped with thirsty hearts that
Found nothing to drink except the taste of death
Yet I find you, O cloud, spreading your wings
On people to shade, satisfying those who thirst,
Though the hearts of the Prophet's sons were cracked
With thirst in a desolate land, burning their insides.
The worst cup they drank of all the calamity
Was the oppressors' unveiling of Muhammad's daughters:
The veils of Prophethood and the curtains were violated,
So their insides were further burnt even as
The hands of the foes vied to grab their garments...
How Clement Allah is as He did see
How long they kept their wailing and their cries!
How Clement Allah is as He did see
How in agony they sighed and in grief cried:
With one hand each tried to stay alive,
With the other she tried to shun the foes.
How painful to Muhammad's heart it must be,
How heavy with al-Batool the calamity!(1)
Ibn Sa’d posted his horsemen to guard the Euphrates in order to prohibit the Master of Martyrs (‘a) from reaching it. Al-Husayn's followers found no access to water. Thirst bit them severely. Al-Husayn (‘a) took an axe and walked behind the women's tent nineteen steps in the direction of the Qibla then dug a well of potable water from which they drank, but soon it dried up.
Ibn Ziyad sent a letter to Ibn Sa’d saying, “It has come to my knowledge that al-Husayn is digging a well and reaching water, so he and his company are
drinking of it. As soon as this letter reaches you, you must prohibit them, as much as you can, from digging wells. Expose them to the severest of hardships.”
On the seventh day, the siege around the Master of Martyrs (‘a) and those with him intensified, and they were blocked completely from reaching the water. Their water supply had already depleted, so each one of them had to deal with the flames of the thirst on his or her own.
Naturally, the children were moaning on account of the pain of thirst. Some of them were pleading for water while others were trying anything they could think of to quench their thirst.
All of this was taking place before the eyes of Abu ‘Abdullah and the honourable ones of his family and companions. But what could he have done since swords and lances stood between them and the water? Yet the man who quite often served water to the thirsty could not tolerate that condition any longer.
Should the daughters of Fatima ever be in pain
And against the pain of thirst to him complain
With sighs high as the current of the Euphrates?
Had he sought al-Majarra river to quench his thirst,
It would surely have raised itself and done so first,
It would have turned its current into a ladder to reach
Had Double-Horns closed it against him,
His determination would have surely undermined it.
left hand is a watering bag,
In his right hand a trained sword,
Like a cloud he aimed to reach Fatima's offspring,
But the foe was certain to stone him with everything...(1)
At that juncture, al-Husayn (‘a) assigned his brother al-’Abbas to shoulder this responsibility. The latter had already been burning with the desire to do just that. Al-Husayn (‘a) asked him to bring water for the ladies and the children, giving him command over a detachment of twenty men each carrying a water bag.
They went to the Euphrates at night paying no attention to those who were charged with guarding the watering place. After all, they were in the company of the lion of Muhammad's Progeny (‘a). Nafi’ Ibn Hilal al-Jamli advanced, so ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj shouted at him to identify himself.
He said to him, “We came to drink of this water from which you have prohibited us.” “Drink then and cool your eyes,” said he, “but do not carry of it to al-Husayn.” Nafi’ said, “No, by Allah, I shall never drink one drop while al-Husayn and the Ahl al-Bayt with him and their supporters are thirsty.”
He then called upon his companions to fill their water bags. It was then that those under the command of Ibn al-Hajjaj attacked them. Some of them kept watering their bags anyway while others were defending them headed by the one who grew up in the very lap of Hayderi bravery, namely Abul-Fadhl, al-’Abbas.
They brought the water while none of their enemies could
even contemplate getting near them out of fear of that same brave hero. The ladies and the children, hence, were able to quench their thirst.(1)
We cannot overlook the fact that the amount of water brought to them was very little. What could that quantity do to a band that numbered more than a hundred and fifty men, women, and children, or maybe even two hundred, all parched by thirst, drinking no more than once? Soon thirst returned to them; so, to Allah and to His Messenger is one's complaint.
If the Pool's Waterer on the Day of Gathering be Hayder,
Then the Waterer of the thirsty at Karbala’ is Abul-Fadl.
Yet the heart of people's waterer on the Day of Gathering
Is cooled, whereas this one's heart with the heat boils.
I stood by the water of the Euphrates and I still have been
Telling it, though others are better in speech than I:
“Why do you flow - may you not - and tended one day
“To wash your own shame!
“Have not the livers of Muhammad's Progeny flame-dried?
“They were not cooled by water or by rain.
“You ought to fold your branches and cause them to wither
“Out of grief and shame of their withered lips.”
Said the Euphrates: “Listen, if you will, to what I say,
“Accept my excuse, and do not increase your blame.
“What you see are my tears when
“Wailing after them became my affair.”
May Allah reward on their behalf their uncle Abul-Fadl,
O should only you have seen Abul-Fadl!
He was a sword crafted by ‘Ali in his right hand,
his cub needed no polishing at all.
When Prophet Muhammad's sons are counted,
Among their brothers he will surely be numbered.
Never have I seen one thirsty around the water,
Without drinking of it though his heart is on fire.
His concern was only loyalty; few can be seen like that,
Few can be so loyal to their loved ones.
By your severed right hand do I swear,
And by your left one, the gatherer of all,
By your perseverance in defending the Prophet's son
At Karbala’, though terrifying,
Something my mind cannot comprehend:
He proved loyal to you not knowing
Whether losing you terrified him
Or whether the ‘Arsh was by fates subverted.
Brother! You were both my shield and my sword
Yet I lost both: No shield do I now hold
Nor even my own sword...(1)
Al-Husayn (‘a) dispatched ‘Amr Ibn Qarzah al-Ansari to Ibn Sa’d asking for an evening meeting between both warring factions. Each came out escorted by twenty cavaliers. Al-Husayn (‘a) ordered those in his company, with the exception of al-’Abbas and his oldest son, ‘Ali al-Akbar, to lag behind. Ibn Sa’d did likewise, keeping his son, Hafs, with him together with his slave.
Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “O Ibn Sa’d! Are you really fighting me?! Don't you fear Allah to Whom you shall return?! I am the son of you know very well who. Why don't you come to my side and leave these folks, for that will surely be better for you with Allah?” ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d said, “I fear lest my house should be demolished [if I do so].”
shall rebuild it for you,” was al-Husayn's answer. “I fear lest my estate should be confiscated,” said Ibn Sa’d. The Imam, peace be upon him, said, “I shall compensate you for it with one even better from my property in Hijaz.”(1)
It is said that the Imam (‘a) promised Ibn Sa’d to give him his own estate called al-Bughaybgha, a vast tract of land containing palms and many other fruit trees. Mu’awiyah had offered the Imam (‘a) one million(2) dinars for it, but he refused to sell it to him.(3) Ibn Sa’d then said, “I have in Kufa many children, and I fear lest Ibn Ziyad should kill them all.”
When al-Husayn (‘a) lost all hope of winning him over, he stood up as he said, “What is the matter with you, may Allah soon kill you on your bed, and may He never forgive you on the Day of Gathering?! By Allah! I wish you will only eat a little of the wheat of Iraq.” Ibn Sa’d responded by saying sarcastically, “Barley suffices me!”(4)
The first Sign of Allah's Wrath, which this man witnessed, was the loss of his anticipated post as the governor of Rey. When he returned from Karbala’, Ibn Ziyad required him to bring him the covenant wherein he promised to make him governor of Rey, but Ibn Sa’d claimed that he had lost it.
He pressured him to bring it to him, so Ibn Sa’d said, “I left it being read for the old women of Quraysh as
means to apologize to them. By Allah! I had advised you with regard to al-Husayn with one piece of advice which, had you conveyed it to my father Sa’d, you would have paid him what you owe him.”
‘Uthman Ibn Ziyad, ‘Ubaydullah's brother, said, “Yes, he has said the truth! I wish there is a ring in the nose of each and every person belonging to Banu Ziyad till the Day of Judgment, and that al-Husay