How did Muawiya ascend the ruling stage, and even dare claiming the succession of the Prophet?

How did Muawiya ascend the ruling stage, and even dare claiming the succession of the Prophet? What happened to the Muslim World to be silent at the assumption of power by an ignoble person like Yazid?

Indeed, it is astonishing to witness the indifference and irresponsibility shown by the vast majority of Muslims as if Islamic values and ideals were totally alien to that society. What had happened to the dynamic forces which had awakened the world, when the Prophet’s voice had not yet died away?

Regarding the responsibility of Muslims, he once said, “He who sees a cruel governor, violating Gods laws, breaking his Covenant, acting in contract to the Tradition of the Prophet, doing mischief and intruding upon people’s rights, then does not try to change that governor through action or speech, God has promised him a suitable place in Hell”.

We all may wonder over the causes of deviation that led to this deplorable situation. We know for sure that Islam is a perfect and practical religion, and there is no doubt of its ability to guide the Muslims to a stable and prosperous life. Therefore, the question of deficiency in its Islamic Message, or the way it was conducted by the Prophet (S) has no place.

Therefore the only possible errors are confined to; the subsequent status of the Muslims, their handling of affairs or their conformity to the Islamic laws; besides the ‘natural’ obstacles encountered in the sequence of events.

This topic is so large that it cannot be dealt with in this short review; nevertheless, it is important to review it.

It is well-known that the Islamic State vastly extended its borders, embracing huge population sizes. In this short time of conquest, it made cultural assimilation near to impossible; this was coupled with the language difficulties and primitive means of communications and propagation. This caused many Arab tribes to have fought against Islam, after the Prophets departure to the next world, who were under the political influence of Islam.

Needless to say that any real and thorough cultural transformation needs time as a basic factor and a complete transition from one culture to another might require many generations before the new culture is firmly established.

The second factor in determining any cultural change is the presence of any ideological leadership, especially one that has a deep insight into the message and is potentially ready to sacrifice for its success. Naturally, such a leader is expected to conform by the ideological messages and orders, otherwise the aim of his presence would not be realized.

The Muslims had elected Abu Bakr as the successor to the Prophet and the events which
accompanied that election was sadly recorded by all historians. This is by no means an objection to, nor an attack on the ability of the respected companion Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him). But careful observation leads to the conclusion that Abu Bakr himself remarked that there were other people who were more able than himself for the task.

It is indeed eye-catching, the many incidents and Hadiths in Islamic history, which encourage Muslims to follow and proclaim the leadership of Imam Ali after the Prophet.

In Tafseer Abi Ishaq, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisabouri Al-Thaalibi, who died in 337 A.H., gave a commentary on the following verse:

“Your guardians are God, His Prophet, and the believers who pray and give alms while prostrate to God. Regarding those who disobey God, His Prophet and the believers, the party of God are the victors” (5:58,59).

He quoted Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari stating, “I heard the Prophet (S) with these ears or would I be deaf, and saw him with these eyes or would I be blind; the Prophet once said, “Ali is the leader of the best believers, and the killer of unbelievers, the victor is he who supports him, and weak who doesn’t “.

Abu Dharr added, “One day we were praying with the Prophet, a beggar had entered the mosque. The beggar was requesting people for help but none helped him except Imam Ali. While Imam Ali was offering his prayer, he donated his silver ring by pointing his finger to the poor man and the latter took it filled with joy.

After this incident the Prophet prayed humbly to God and said, “O God, my brother Moses asked You, “O my God, expand my breast; ease my task for me; and remove the impediment from my speech, so that they may understand what I say; and give me a Minister from my family, Aaron, my brother; add to my strength through him, and make him share my task that we celebrate thy praise without stint, and remember thee without stint”. And You answered: “Granted is thy prayer, O Moses”. “O God I am your servant and Prophet. Expand my breast; ease my task; and give me a Minister from my family, Ali, my brother; add to my strength through him, and make him share my task”.

Abu Dharr concluded: “By God, as soon as the Prophet completed his prayer the trustworthy Gabriel came with the following verses:

“Your guardians are God, His Prophet and the believers who pray and give alms while prostrate to God . . . !” (5:58, 59).

Ibn Sinan narrated this incident in Sahih Al-Bukhari and Ibn Abbas narrated this story in Asbab Al-Nuzol by Imam Wahidi. All interpreters of Kanz Al-Umaal held the same opinion of the cause of the revelation of this.

On a different occasion, the Prophet (S) told Imam Ali, “You are to me as Aaron was to Moses, but there is not Prophet after me”. But perhaps the most outstanding occasion which sank into people’s memories, is the Prophet’s speech during his last pilgrimage. Amongst a large congregation of Muslims he declared, “He whoever I am his master, Ali is his master too. O God assist whoever supports him and disgrace those who have enmity towards him”.

Indeed, whilst these are only a few of the quotations about Imam Ali, their consistency and the number and variety of people who confirmed the authenticity of the stories leaves no room for doubt that Imam Ali was chosen by God and His Prophet to be the ideological leader after the Prophet’s departure. Hence it can be safely concluded that Imam Ali’s exclusion from his assigned duty marked the first major mistake. The inevitable consequences were a slow deviation which ended up in a turbulent stream of events, which no one was able to exercise control over.

Abu Bakr’s reign lasted approximately two years, which was an eventful epoch. The dangers besieging the Muslims were so great that the very existence of the Muslim community was threatened, only being eliminated by the many sacrifices of the Muslim community.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab was appointed by Abu Bakr as the Caliph, his rule being for ten years. His reign is particularly important because of the vast changes and events which took place during his time. The conquest of vast areas brought enormous wealth to the Muslims, but the way this wealth was handled created complex problems, eventually forcing Umar to admit their grave consequences. Indeed, he tried to reform the laws but it was too late to act, for by that time he was murdered.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab was the first person in charge of Muslim affairs to start uneven donation of provisions among Muslims. He used to prefer some people to others for various reasons, generating social classes and sparking off enmity and rifts within the Muslim society. His policies were also not in conformity with the traditions of the Prophet or even with Abu Bakr’s policies.

Umar was sad when he saw the unrest and rifts within the Muslim community, once declaring “I was informed that people have distinct gatherings. When two sit together they talk of the different groupings and separate entities, by God that is harmful to your religion, honour and unity”. Realising the cause of this social phenomenon he added, “I used to allure people in order to gain their goodwill by preferring some to others. But if I lived this year, the distribution of wealth will be even among all people as the Prophet and Abu Bakr used to do.”

A rather serious measure taken by the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab was his appointment of six nominees to the Caliphate post. This, it is believed had induced a desire in the nominees to ascend one day to this powerful and honorable position. Since it was only a matter of time for everyone, they were engaged in preparing the way for their own ascents.

Eventually Uthman ibn Affan was chosen by Abdul Rahman ibn Auf to be the next Caliph, after being turned down by Imam Ali. Imam Ali refused to accept the Caliphate post because Abdul Rahman ibn Auf put a condition which meant retaining the status quo and preventing any radical change.

Uthman’s policies were resented by the vast majority of Muslims. His monetary policy was the focus point of their resentment, because he donated large amounts of money to his relatives while the rest of the people were left empty handed (Muruj Al-dhahab 2/241 by Al-Masaudi Al-Ansab and Al-Ashraf (5/25,-28,48,52) by Al-Baladhiri).

Indeed, the governors who were assisting in administering the Muslim country had neither ability nor piety and is believed their appointment was because of their kin to Uthman. For instance, Al-Waleed ibn Aqabah ibn Abi Muaeet was appointed to govern Kufa. Al-Waleed was reputed to be a drunkard and when the people’s dissatisfaction with his behaviour peaked and Uthman replaced him, it was with Saaid ibn Al-As, who had the famous statement “Iraq is Quraish’s garden, we take or leave of it whatever we like” (Muroj Al-dhahab 2/346 by Al-Masaudi).

Muawiya who was governing Damascus and Jordan during the reign of Umar, Uthman added to his state Hams, Palestine, and Jazera. Egypt’s governor was Abdullah ibn Abi Sirah, with all of its previous governors being Uthman’s relatives. The most striking feature of this bunch of rulers was their contempt for people’s rights and dignity, they simply looked at the whole Muslim country as their private property, as demonstrated in Al-Waleed’s aforementioned statement.

Moreover the principal treasury at Madina was not utilised in its rightful ways. Many Muslims like the treasurer’s trustees, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dharr and similar distinguished companions objected strongly against Uthman”s monetary policies. Uthman’s reply to those people was, “We take from the treasury whatever we want inspite of some people’s objections”.

These policies were not only foreign to Islamic conduct and ideals, but caused tremendous sufferings and hardships to the majority of Muslims. Many responsible Muslims played their role in warning Uthman against these deviations but their advice was in vain. Thus, the situation reached its danger point one day and exploded, resulting in Uthman’s murder. This act of violence as I believe could have been avoided by using some peaceful methodology.

The chaotic conditions and the deterioration of the Muslims material and social statuses forced them to rethink their past, present and future. Perhaps it was like a film passing in their minds, reminding them of previous events which were connected with their present. It is normally the last incident and last speech which remain alive in peoples’ memories. Indeed, it was the Prophet’s famous speech in Khum during his last pilgrimage which was recalled.

Muslims remembered that significant event where there were more than one hundred thousand Muslims present and the Prophet was briefing the Islamic message to them. Being within the middle of that anxious crowd, listening carefully to every word he (asa.h.f) uttered, and watching every sign he made. The Prophet took Ali ibn abi Talib’s hand and raised it while saying “O, people who-ever I am his master, then Ali is his master too. O, God, assist those who support him and disgrace those who do not”.

Thus after the cloud of events surrounding Uthman’s death settled, the Muslims hurriedly went to Imam Ali (as) calling him to perform his assigned duty, but the abnormal situation existing at that time made the task difficult indeed. Indeed, the very acceptance of his duty during such a situation was not healthy.

Imam Ali’s reply to the Muslims was negative. He (as) said “Leave me aside and seek someone else, we are heading at a subject which has many facets and various colours, neither the hearts would rise to, nor the minds would be firm upon. The horizons are black and gloomy while reason is rejected. You should know that my acceptance means what I know will he applied and obeyed. I shall not conform to ones ideas or listen to others reproachment. On the other hand, leaving me aside means I am one of you, listening and conforming to whom you have appointed for your affairs. I am better a minister than commander for you”.

In this speech, perhaps, he (as) wanted to gauge peoples’ interests and determination. Moreover, he showed his disinterest for power and ruling if that was an aim by itself. But the vast majority of Muslims were determined to see the Prophets’ words and will be implemented, and they left no choice to Imam Ali but to accept his rightful role of being the ideological leader to the Muslim community.

Who Is Yazid?

Yazid was the son of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan, from the family of Umayyah, one of Quraish’s families. Abu Sufyan was acting as the chief adversary in the non-Muslim’s campaign against Islam. Muawiya’s mother, Hind, ate the liver of Hamza, the Uncle of the Prophet, because of her burning hatred and beastliness. Muawiya too was an active opponent to Islam.

Indeed, Abu Sufyan’s family was active in strategic, financial and morale boosting within in the non-Muslim’s campaign against the Muslims. Their efforts, wealth and diplomacy were of great burden in preventing the spread of Islam among Arab tribes.

During the liberation of Mecca, it was suddenly besieged with enormous forces of Muslims. The unbelievers at Mecca were struck with seeing the Muslim fighters who had caught them unprepared. Thus, they the non-Muslims had no choice but to abandon their arrogance which had prevented them from accepting Gods sovereignty.

During this incident, historians recorded some peculiar stories about Abu Sufyan’s family. However, there is one thing for certain that they accepted Islam unwillingly, and they were treated in a special way for that.

For instance, they were given extra donations in order to gain their hearts towards Islam. But whether this generosity had any influence to produce a change in their materialistic thinking is a different matter. Indeed subsequent events revealed no change in their way of thinking and life.

Yazid was brought up in a family whose atmosphere was electrified with the emotions of their dead family members who fought against Islam, in addition to seeing those Muslims who killed them receiving full honour and respect by society. Not to mention the wasted wealth, injured pride and stripped privileges of their family.

However, Yazid had some unique qualities in the adverse sense; he was known as a playboy during his youth. Historians recorded him being drunk, committing adultery and in general leading a very corrupt life. Some even quoted Yazid saying, “The family of Hashim staged a play to get a Kingdom. In reality there was neither news from God nor a revelation”.

Even if we discarded this extreme, there is no escape from facing the rest of his shameful
deeds and horrifying crimes. Not to mention his illegal claim to rule the Muslim World, or misusing Muslims money, or intrusion upon peoples dignity and lives.

Who Is Imam Husayn?

Imam Husayn’s life and status in the Islamic history is formidable. Indeed, it is not of obscurity but because of the vitality and the significance of his contributions. The following account is only a very brief record of his qualities.

He was one of two sons of Imam Ali (as) and Fatimah (sa), the daughter of the Prophet (S). His father, Imam Ali, who needs no introduction, is acknowledged by those; far and near as well as friend and foe, as being openly declared by the Prophet, as Commander of the faithful. Needless to mention his knowledge, bravery, steadfastness, brotherhood to the Prophet, justice
and piety.

Fatimah (sa) was the dearest daughter to her father (S). Al-Tirmidhi narrated through Usamah ibn Zaid that the Prophet (S) said ‘The dearest member of my family to me is Fatimah”. She was declared by the Prophet as the master of all women in the whole world. She and her husband were members of the family who were signified for their qualities and roles.

They are examples of interest to Muslim men and women. Their role was an extension of the Prophet’s role, in the sense of leading the great cultural transformation from the darkness of non-Muslim culture to the brightness ofheavenly light.

Historians recorded the birth of Imam Husayn as an exciting event for the Muslims in Madina and especially to the Prophet of God. The Prophet (S) was even concerned with the name given to his grandson, ‘Husayn’. As the news flared up in the sky, the Muslims congratulated each other for the new child whom the Prophet considered as his own son.

The Prophet once declared, “Husayn is of myself and I am of Husayn, O, God be pleased with those who please Husayn”. This statement was not accidental nor the result of emotional strain as it is wrongly claimed sometimes. This declaration came from a responsible wise leader, the Prophet of God who would never commit a mistake during the performance of his Prophetic task. He was delivering the Islamic Message and informing people of those who will act as springs and guardians for this Message in the future.

Emotions and sentiments are not loose in a Muslim’s life, but are controlled by Islamic concepts and ideals. There has always been a criterion for liking and disliking within Islam, which evolves from the deeply rooted Islamic concept. For example; although Abu Lahab was the Uncle of the Prophet, his extreme anti-Islamic behaviour made him cursed till the Day of Judgment.

Another such statement which leaves no doubt of Imam Hasan’s and Husayn’s role is, the Prophet of God (S) said “Hasan and Husayn are the masters of youth in Paradise”. This was presented as a credential to the Muslim nation in order to hold firm to their leadership.

At a certain time the Muslims in Madina felt the Islamic Message’s glory and good results, so they intended to reward the Prophet for his effort in guiding them. The gift they presented to the Prophet (S) was some gold which they had collected. The Prophet’s answer came in the following verses which were revealed during this incident.

“Say: ‘No reward do I ask of you for this except being kind to those of kin” (23:42).

Al-Kashaaf narrated that when this verse was revealed, people asked the Prophet “O Prophet of God, who are these of kin which this verse makes their respect obligatory upon us?” The Prophet answered, “They are Ali, Fatimah, and their two sons”. However, this did not imply disrespect for other Muslims, companions or the rest of kin to him.

Looking objectively at the message of the verse it will indicate first of all reluctance to accept material reward, if a reward was not suitable then it cannot be restricted to the material only. Hence, the verse was indicating respect to some specific people, not because they are his relatives as such, but the real reason behind this respect was to safeguard the Islamic Message. The role they had to play in the Islamic history required such respect in order to enable them to perform their task.

Al-Hakim narrated through Abu Saaid Al-Khidri that the Prophet said, “He who dislikes us, we the family, God will place him in Hell”, this implies those who dislike Islamic conduct and life. Jabir narrated that the Prophet in his speech after performing the last pilgrimage, said, “O people I am leaving the book of God and my family (Itrah) for guidance. If you hold fast to them, surely you will never go astray”. This Hadith was narrated through some twenty different sources of trusted chains of narrators, Muslim in his Sahih quoted some of them.

Another striking Hadith obtained through Abu Dharr where he quoted the Prophet saying, “O people, let my family act as a head of a body of you, and as eyes of a head among you.”

These last few Hadiths are impressive in many respects; firstly they were narrated by different sources of different inclinations which add to them extra value, secondly the same content throughout all indicates the consistency of the event.

Imam Husayn, as already stated, was one member of the family of the Prophet. He was brought up within the Prophetic guidance where he received the direct concern of the Prophet. The ideal atmosphere where he had grown up with his grandfather, father, mother and elder brother was the highest level ever attained.

Thus Imam Husayn acquired wisdom, generosity, bravery, piety and letters; occupying outstanding posts during his father’s reign in the Islamic State.

During the terror and corruption which swept the Muslim World at the hands of the Umayads, he was the sole hope of the Muslims to restore the establishment of the Islamic laws which would bring the Muslims prosperity, peace and happiness within the two worlds. He never failed the Muslims, but acted as expected of a great ideological leader and performed his duty to the best.

Return to Madina

Abd al-Malik reported:

I rode my mount and went towards Medina. (On the way) one of Quraysh met me.

“What is the news?” he asked.

“The news is for the governor, (then) you will hear it,” I answered.

“We belong to God and to Him we will return,” he said. “By God, al Husayn, peace be on him, has been killed.”

When I went to Amr Ibn Said, he asked, “What is your purpose?”

“What will please the governor,” I answered, “Al Husayn, peace be on him, has been killed.”

“Go out and announce his being killed,” he told me.

I announced (it). I have never heard such wailing as the wailing of the Banu Hashim in their houses for al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali, peace be on him, when they heard the announcement of his death. I went back (in) to ‘Amr Ibn Said. When he saw me, he smiled at me and laughed. Then he quoted a verse of Amr Ibn Madikarib, “Then women of Banu Ziyad raised a great lament like the lamentation of our women mourning (after the battle) of al-ArnaIbn”

“This lamentation is in return for the lamentation for Uthman,” ‘Amr exclaimed. Then he went up on the pulpit and informed the people about the killing of al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali, and he summoned (them to obey) Yazid Ibn Muawiya. (After that) he went down.

One of the retainers (mawali) of Abd Allah Ibn Jafar Ibn Abi Talib, peace be on him, went to him and announced the news of the killing of his two sons and he said that we (all return) to God.

“This is what we have through al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali, peace be on them,” said Abu Salasil, the retainer (mawla) of Abd Allah.

O son of an obscene (woman),” exclaimed Abd Allah Ibn Jafar, taking off his shoe (to strike him). “Are you saying this of al Husayn, peace be on him? If I had been present with him, I would have preferred not to leave him and to be killed with him. By God, I would not have withheld those two from him and I take consolation from what befell them in that these two were struck down with my brother and cousin, consoling him and enduring with him.”

He went forward to those who were sitting with him and said, “Praise be to God, Who has (made life hard for me) through the death of al Husayn. For I did not console al Husayn with my own hands, my two sons consoled him.”

Umm Luqman, the daughter of Aqil Ibn Abi Talib, may God have mercy on them, came out crying when she heard the news of the death of al Husayn, peace be on him. With her were her sisters Umm Hani’, Ramla and Zaynab, daughters of Aqil Ibn Abi Talib, may God have mercy on them.

She wept for her (relatives) slain on the bank and she recited, “What would you say if the Prophet asked you: What have you, the last of the (religious) communities, done With my offspring and my family after my departure from them? They are prisoners and slain and have been stained with their own blood. What sort of reward is this for my advice to you, that you should oppose me by doing evil to my blood relations?”

On the night of the day upon which Amr Ibn Said had given the public notice of the killing of al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali, peace be upon them, in Medina, in the middle of the night the Medians heard a voice calling out. They listened to the voice but they did not see any person.

The voice called out, “O men who ignorantly killed al Husayn; hear the news of punishment and chastisement All the people of heaven, prophets, angels and slain, prosecute you. You have been cursed by the tongue of the son of David, and (that) of Moses and (that) of the master of the Gospels.”

The Family of Imam Husayn (a.s.) in Sham

After Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad had dispatched the head of al- Husayn, he ordered the women and the young boys to be made ready for travelling. He ordered ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them, to be chained with a chain around his neck. Then he dispatched them, to follow the heads, with Muhaffir Ibn Thalaba al Aidhi and Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan.

They set out with them until they caught up with the people with the head. ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn did not speak a word to any of the people who had the head on that journey. Eventually they reached (their destination). When they reached the door of Yazid’s (palace), Muhaffir Ibn Tha’laba raised his voice and shouted, “Here is Muhaffir Ibn Thalaba who has brought the Commander of the faithful these vile profligates.”

‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on him, answered him, “What did the mother of Muhaffir give birth to more evil and more grievous (than him)?”

When the heads were put in front of Yazid and among them was the head of al Husayn, peace be on him, Yazid recited, “We will split the skull of proud men (who come) against us; they were very disobedient and oppressive.”

Yahya Ibn al-Hakam, the brother of Marwan Ibn al-Hakam recited, “On the bank (of the river) a great army met him who is closer in kinship (to Yazid) than Ibn Ziyad (is), the man with a false lineage. The offspring of Sumayya has acquired status, while the offspring of the daughter of the Apostle of God is (given) none.”

Yazid struck his hand against the chest of Yahya Ibn al-Hakam and shouted, “Be quiet!” Then he said to ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them, “Son of al Husayn, your father cut (the bond of) kinship with me and showed ignorance of my rights, trying to deprive me of my position of authority. (Now) God has treated him in the way you have seen.”

No misfortune strikes the earth nor yourselves unless it has been written in a book before we bring it into existence; that is easy for God” (57:22)

replied ‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn.

“Answer him,” Yazid urged his son, Khalid. However Khalid did not know what to say in reply. So Yazid answered, “Say rather:

Whatever misfortune has struck you is because of what your hands have earned. And (God) forgives much.” (42:30)

He summoned the women and the children and they were made to sit in front of him. What he saw was dreadful.

“May God detest Ibn Murjana,” he said: “If there had been (any bond of) kinship between him and you, he would not have done this to you; he would not have sent you in this state.”

Fatima, daughter of al Husayn, peace be on him, reported:

When we sat before Yazid, he showed pity on us. An Ahmar of the Syrians stood up and said to Yazid, “Commander of the faithful, give me this one.”

He meant me. (Then) I was a pretty young girl. I shuddered for I thought that that would be allowed to them. I caught hold of the skirt of my aunt Zaynab and she told (me) that that would not happen. She said to the Syrian, “By God, you are a liar. By God, you are (too) lowly born! Such a thing is neither for you nor for him (to decide).”

“You are a liar,” Yazid cried out angrily. “That is for me (to decide). If I wish to do anything, I can do it.”

No, by God,” she replied, “God would only let you do that if you left our faith and professed belief in another (religion).”

“It is me,” screamed Yazid, distraught with anger, “whom you are treating in this (way). It is your father who has left the religion, and your brother I am led by the religion of God, the religion of my father and the religion of my brother.” She answered, “and (it is what) you are led by, and your grandfather and your father, if you are a Muslim.”

“Enemy of God, you lie,” he shouted.

You are a Commander of the faithful, (yet) you vilify unjustly and you have become oppressive with your authority,” she answered.

(At this) he was ashamed and became silent. “Give me that girl,” repeated the Syrian.“Be a bachelor,” Yazid said to him, “May God strike you dead!” Then he ordered the women to be lodged in a house on (the) banks (of the river). With them (also he sent) their brother, ‘‘Ali Ibn al- Husayn, peace be on them. (Later) a house was set aside for them, which was attached to Yazid’s own house. They resided (there) for several days, (After a short time) he summoned al-Nu’man Ibn Bashir and told him to make preparations to take these women back to Medina. When he was about to despatch them, he summoned ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them. He took him aside.

“God curse Ibn Murjana,” he said. “If I had been with your father, he would never have asked me for a favour without me granting him it; I would have protected him from death with all my power. But God has decreed what you have seen. Write to me from Medina and everything that you need will be yours.”

He presented clothes to him and to his family. He sent with them in the group (of men under the command) of Numan Ibn Bashir, a messenger, who brought him (al-Numan) the order to set out with them in the night; and that they should go in front of him but they should never be out of his sight. When they stopped, he should go aside from them and he and his followers should separate around them like a group of guards over them. He should (only) keep away from them when any person of their group wanted to wash or perform a need, so he (or she) would not be ashamed.

(The messenger) set off with them amid the group of al-Numan.

(Al-Nu’man) continued to stay close to them along the road but he was kind to them as Yazid had instructed him and he looked after them until they entered Medina.

After Ibn Ziyad had despatched the head of al Husayn, peace be on him, to Yazid, he went to Abd al-Malik b Abi al-Harith al-Sulami and told him, “Go to ‘Amr Ibn Sad Ibn al-As in Medina and give him the good news of the killing of al Husayn (peace be on him).”

The family of Imam Husayn (a.s.) in Kufa

When the head of al Husayn, peace be on him, arrived and after Ibn Sad arrived on the next day (bringing) with him the daughters and household of al Husayn, peace be on him, Ibn Ziyad sat before the people in the governor’s palace. He had given the people a general summons and had ordered them to be present (to see) the head. He put it in front of him, and he began to look at it with a smile. In his hand he had a cane and he began to poke at the teeth with it.

When Zayd Ibn Arqam, a Companion of the Prophet who was (then) an old man, saw him poking at the teeth with the cane he said, “Take your cane away from those two lips. For, by God, other than Whom there is no deity, I have seen the lips of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, touch those two lips countless times.”

(With that) he began to weep.

“Does God make your eyes weep?” asked Ibn Ziyad. “Or are you weeping because of God’s victory? If it was not for the fact that you are an old man who has become silly and your mind has left you, I would cut off your head.”

Zayd Ibn Arqam stood up in front of him and went to his house.

(Meanwhile) the family of al Husayn, peace be on him, was brought before Ibn Ziyad. Zaynab, the sister of al Husayn, peace be on him, came in in the middle of the group, pretending not to be herself; she was wearing her dirtiest clothes. She went and sat in a corner of the palace and her maids crowded around her.

“Who is that woman who has gone to the side and has sat in a corner with her women?” Ibn Ziyad demanded but Zaynab did not answer. He repeated the question about her a second time.

This is Zaynab, daughter of Fatima, the daugher of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and grant him peace,” one of her women told him.

“Praise be to God Who has disgraced you, killed you and revealed the false nature of your claims,” said Ibn Ziyad as he came towards her.

Praise be to God Who has favoured us with His Prophet, Muhammad, may God bless him and his family,” answered Zaynab, “and He has purified us completely from sin. He only disgraces the great sinner and reveals the false nature of the profligate. Such men are not among us, praise be to God.”

“How do you consider God has treated your House?” asked Ibn Ziyad. “God decreed death for them and they went forward (bravely) to their resting-places,” Zaynab replied. “God will gather you and us together. You will plead your excuses to Him and we will be your adversaries before Him.”

Ibn Ziyad became enraged and burnt with anger.

“Governor,” intervened ‘Amr Ibn Hurayth, “She is only a woman and women are not responsible for anything that they say. Do not blame her mistakes.”

“God has healed my soul from your tyranny and the rebellion of your House,” he said to her.

Zaynab, peace be on her, became weak and wept.

By my life,” she cried out to him, “you have killed the mature ones (of my family); you have pierced my family; you have cut down my young branches; and you have pulled out my root. If this heals you, then you have been healed.”

“By my life,” declared Ibn Ziyad, “this is a woman who makes poetry. Your father was a poet.”

What has a woman to do with poetry?” she answered. “Indeed I have (things) to distract me from poetry but my heart causes me say what I am saying.”

‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them, was presented to him.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn” he answered.

“Didn’t God kill ‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn?”

“I have a brother who is also called ‘Ali,” answered ‘‘Ali, peace be on him, “the people killed him.”

“Rather God killed him,” affirmed Ibn Ziyad.

“God receives the souls at the time of their death.” (29:42)

“How dare you answer me like that!” shouted Ibn Ziyad angrily, “and that will be the last of you because of (your) answer to me. Take him away and cut his head off!”Zaynab, his aunt, clung on to him, pleading, “O Ibn Ziyad, haven’t you had enough of our blood?” Then she clung on to him and said, “By God, I will not leave him. If you kill him, kill me with him.”

Ibn Ziyad looked at her and at him, and said, “How wonderful is family relationship! I think she wants me to kill her with him. Leave him, for I see him (now) for what he is.”

He rose from his assembly to leave the palace and go to the mosque. He went up on the pulpit. He praised and glorified God, then he said, “Praise be to God Who has revealed the truth and the followers of the truth, and has given victory to the Commander of the faithful, Yazid, and his party, and has killed the liar who is the son of a liar and his Shia.”

At this ‘Abd Allah Ibn Afif al-Azdi, who had been one of the Shia of the Commander of the faithful (‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib) stood in front of him and shouted, “O enemy of God, you are the liar and your father and (the man) who appointed you and his father. O Ibn Murjana, you kill the sons of Prophets and take the place of men of truth on the pulpit.”

“Get him for me,” ordered Ibn Ziyad.

The soldiers seized him but he gave the battle cry of al-Azd. Seven hundred of them (quickly) gathered and took him away from the soldiers.

At night Ibn Ziyad sent someone to get him out of his house. He was executed and crucified in al-Sabkha, may God have mercy on him.

The (next) morning Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad sent the head of al- Husayn, peace be on him, (to Yazid) after it had been taken through all the streets and tribes of Kufa.

It is reported from Zayd Ibn Arqam:

It was brought past; it was stuck on a spear and I was in a room in my (house). As it was opposite me I heard it recite,

“Or do you think that the Companions of the Cave and the inscription were among Our wonderful signs.(18:9)

My flesh shuddered and I called out, “O son of the Apostle of God, your head is miraculous, miraculous.”

(This account is not in Tabari) When they had finished taking it around Kufa and had brought it back to the palace door, Ibn Ziyad gave it to Zahar Ibn Qays and he (also) gave him the heads of his companions. He despatched him to Yazid Ibn Muawiya and he sent with him Abu Burda Ibn ‘Awf al-Azdi, and Tariq Ibn Abi Zubyan al-Azdi together with a group of Kufans, to take them to Yazid Ibn Mu’awiya in Damascus.

Abd Allah Ibn Rabiaa al-Himyari reported:

I was with Yazid Ibn Muawiya in Damascus when Zahar Ibn Qays brought the head to him.

“Woe upon you! What is behind you? What have you got?” demanded Yazid.

O Commander of the faithful, he replied, I bring good news of God’s victory and support. Al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali, peace be on them, came against us with eighteen men of his House and sixty of his Shi’a. We went out to meet them and we asked them to surrender and submit to the authority of the governor, ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad, or to fight. They chose to fight rather than to surrender.

We attacked them as the sun rose and surrounded them on every side. Eventually (our) swords took their toll of the heads of the people and they began to flee without having any refuge (to go to). They (tried to) take refuge from us on the (open) hills and in the hollows, like the doves seek refuge from a hawk.

By God, Commander of the faithful, it was nothing but the slaughtering of animals for slaughter. (It was only the time taken by) the sleep of a man taking his siesta (before) we had come upon the last of them. There were their naked bodies, their blood-stained clothes, their faces thrown in the dust.

The sun burst down on them; the wind scattered (dust) over them; their visitors were (scavenging) eagles and vultures.”

Yazid looked down for a time, then he raised his head and said: I would have been satisfied with your obedience (to my orders) without this killing of al Husayn, peace be on him. If it had been me who had accompanied him, I would have let him off (such a fate).

The attack against Imam Husayn (a.s.) and his Martyrdom

The group then launched an attack against al Husayn, peace be on him, and cut off his access to his camp. His thirst became severe, and he set off towards the dam, trying to reach the Euphrates. In front of him was his brother, al-‘Abbas. However, the cavalry of Ibn Sa’d, may God curse him, blocked his route. Among these was a man from the Banu Darim; he said to (the cavalry), “Woe upon you! Prevent him from reaching the Euphrates, don’t let him get water.”

Then al Husayn, peace be on him, cried out, “O God, I am thirsty.” The Darim became angry and shot an arrow at him which lodged in his throat. Al Husayn, peace be on him, pulled out the arrow and held his hand below his throat. Both his palms were filled with blood which he shook away, then he said, “O God, I complain to You about what is being done to the son of the daughter of Your Prophet.”

Then he returned to his position, while his thirst had become (even more) severe.

Meanwhile the people had surrounded al-Abbas and cut him off from (al Husayn). Single-handed he began to attack them until he was killed, may God have mercy on him. The two who took part in killing him were Zayd Ibn Warqa al-Hanafi and Hahm Ibn al-Tufail al- Shabsi, after he had been covered with wounds and could not move.

(The account of al Abbas death is missing from Tabari) When al Husayn, peace be on him, came back from the dam to his tents, Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan advanced towards him with a group of his followers and surrounded him. The fastest of them was a man called Malik Ibn al-Nusayr al-Kindi. He cursed al Husayn, peace be on him, and struck him on the head with his sword. (Al Husayn) was wearing a cap. (The sword) went through it right into his head and made it bleed. The cap was filled with blood.

Al Husayn, peace be on him, said to him, “May you never eat or drink with your right hand! May God gather you (on the Day of Judgement) with those people who are wrong-doers.”

Then he threw away the cap and called for a cloth which he tied around his head. Then he called for another cap, put it on and bound it (in place).

(The above portion is missing from the account of Tabari)

Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan and those who were with him had withdrawn from him to their (earlier) positions. After a short delay they came again against him and surrounded him. ‘Abd Allah Ibn al- Hasan Ibn ‘Ali peace be on them, came out against them, he was only a boy, not yet mature enough to leave the women. He rushed forward until he stood beside his uncle, al Husayn, peace be on him. Then Zaynab, the daughter of ‘Ali, peace be on him, came after him to stop him, and al Husayn, peace be on him, told her to stop him. However he refused (to take any notice of her) and determinedly prevented her (from taking him away). He said, “By God, I will not leave my uncle.”

(At this) Abjar Ibn Ka’b rushed towards al Husayn, peace be on him. With sword (in hand), the young lad said to him, “Woe upon you, you son of an impure woman, are you trying to kill my uncle?” Abjar struck at him with his sword. The boy tried to fend off (the blow) with his arm. The sword cut through (his arm) to the skin (on the other side). There was the arm hanging (by the skin). The boy cried out, “O my mother!” Al Husayn took hold of him and embraced him. He said to him, “My nephew, try to bear what has come to you and be comforted with the news that God will unite you with your righteous ancestors.”

Then al Husayn, peace be on him, raised his hand and said, “O God, even as You have made life pleasant for them for a time, divide them into factions and make them follow the ways of factions and let their rulers never be pleased with them. They summoned us so that they might support us and then they became hostile to us and killed us.”

(Abjar is mentioned as Bahr in Tabari) The foot-soldiers launched an attack from right and left against those who were left with al Husayn, peace be on him, until only a group of three or four remained with him. When al Husayn, peace be on him saw that, he called for a pair of dazzling Yemen trousers (sarawil). He tore them and put them on. He tore them so that he should not have them plundered after he had been killed. When al- Husayn, peace be on him, was killed, Abjar Ibn Kab set on him, plundered him of the trousers and left him naked. After that the two hands of Abjar Ibn Ka’b, may God curse him, became so dry in the summer that they were like sticks and then soaking wet in the winter so that they sprinkled drops of water and puss, until God destroyed him.

When nobody except a group of three members of his family was left with al Husayn, peace be on him, he moved against the people, while the three protected him until (all) three were killed. Al Husayn, was left alone. Despite being weighed down by wounds in his head and body, he began to strike against them with his sword and they scattered, to right and left, away from him.

Then Humayd Ibn Muslim said, “By God, I have never seen such persistence. His sons have been killed, and the members of his household and his followers, yet he is still as brave as ever and he has not allowed his spirit to leave him. When the soldiers attack him, he fights back with his sword and scatters them to right and left of him like goats when a wolf comes upon them.”

When Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan realised (the position), he called for the cavalry and they came up at the rear of the foot-soldiers. He ordered the archers to shoot at (al Husayn) and they showered him with arrows until he became (quilted with arrows) like a hedgehog (with spikes).

He drew back from them and they stood facing him. His sister Zaynab, came to the door of the tent and called out to ‘Umar Ibn Sad Ibn Abi Waqqas, “Woe upon you, Umar. Is Abu Abd Allah being killed while you (stand by and) watch?” But Umar did not answer. Then she called out, “Woe upon you (all), is there not a Muslim among you?” But no-one answered.

Then Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan shouted at the foot soldiers and the Calvary, “Why are you waiting for the man? May your mothers be deprived of you!” So they attacked him from every side.

Zura Ibn Sharik struck him on the left shoulder-blade and cut into it. Another of them struck him on the shoulder. He fell prostrate on his face. Sinan Ibn Anas al-Nakhai stabbed him with a spear and killed him. Khawali Ibn Yazid al-Asbahi hurried to him and bent down to cut off his head but he trembled (too much). Shamir said to him,“May God crush your arm why are you trembling?” Then Shamir bent down and decapitated him. He lifted the head (and handed it) to Khawati saying, “Take it to the commander ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d.”

Then they began to plunder (the body of) al Husayn, peace be on him. Ishaq Ibn al-Hayat al-Hadrami, may God curse him, took his shirt. Abjar Ibn Ka’b, may God curse him, took his trousers. Akhnas Ibn Marthad, may God curse him, took his turban. One of the Banu Darim took his sword. They plundered his saddle and his camel and they looted his womenfolk.

(The name of the plunderers and the plundered objects are different in Tabari)

Humayd Ibn Muslim reported:

By God, I did not see one of his women or daughters or the women of his family who did not have her clothes ripped from her back, taken away and removed from her forcibly. Then we came to ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them both. He was stretched out on a bed and he was very ill. Shamir had a group of foot-soldiers with him and they asked him, “Shall we kill this sick one?” I said, “Praise be to God, will boys be killed (too)? This is only a youth even though he is what he is.” And I went on (arguing) until I had moved them away from him.

Then ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d arrived and the women cried out and wept in his face. He ordered his followers, “None of you should enter the tents of these women nor disturb this sick boy.” The women asked him to return what had been taken from them so that they could clothe themselves again. So he commanded that whoever had taken any of their belongings should return them to them. But by God, none of them returned anything. He then entrusted charge of the main tent and the tents of the women to a group (of men) who were; with him. He said, “Guard (the women) so that none of them may leave and do not harm them.”

After this, he returned to his tent and called out to his followers, “Who will volunteer (to go) to al Husayn and make his horse trample on (al Husayn’s body)?” Ten volunteered. Of these, Ishaq Ibn Hayyat and Akhnas Ibn Marthad trampled on (the body of) al Husayn with their horses until they had broken and bruised his back. Umar Ibn Sad despatched on that day-it was the day of ‘Ashura’, – the head of al Husayn, peace be on him, with Khawali Ibn Yazid al-Asbahi and Humayd Ibn Muslim al-Azdi, to Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad. Then he ordered the heads of the remainder of his followers and members of his House (who had been slain) to be cut off. There were seventy-two heads. He sent Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan, Qays Ibn Ash’ath and Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj with these. They journeyed until they brought them to Ibn Ziyad.

He (‘Umar Ibn Sad) remained there for the rest of that day and the next day until just after midday. Then he summoned the people for the journey, and set out towards Kufa. He took with him the daughters and sisters of al Husayn, peace be on him, together with ‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on him. The latter was still sick with a dysentry and was almost on the point of death.

When Ibn Sad departed, some of Banu Asad, who had been staying at al-Ghadiriyya went to al Husayn, peace be on him, and his followers. They performed the funeral prayer over them. Then they buried al Husayn at the place where his tomb still is, and they buried his son ‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn al-Asghar (the younger) at the foot of the body. They dug around the area next to the two feet of al Husayn, peace be on him, for the martyrs from his House and his followers.

They gathered them together and buried them all together. However, they buried al-Abbas Ibn ‘‘Ali, peace be on them both, in the place where he was killed, on the road to al-Ghadiriyya, where his tomb still is.

Martyrdom of Companions and Banu Hashim

Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan turned back against them but (some) of his men were killed and the rest retreated to their positions. (The number) of killed was apparent among the followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, because of the fewness of their number while it was not so apparent among the followers of ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d because of their great number.

The battle (continued to be) fought fiercely and desperately. The number killed and wounded among the followers of Abu ‘Abd Allah al Husayn, peace be on him, continued to grow until the sun began to decline. Al Husayn and his companions prayed the prayer according to the rite of the prayer of fear.

Hanzala Ibn Sa’d al-Shibami advanced in front of al Husayn, peace be on him, and called out, “People of Kufa,

O people I fear for you the same (that happened) on the Day of Parties. I fear for you on the Day of Summoning” (40:30,32)

O people, do not kill al Husayn,

for God will destroy you with punishment. He who forges a lie will be disappointed. (20:61)

He advanced and fought until he was killed, may God have mercy on him. After that, Shawdhab, retainer (mawla) of Shakir, went forward, (after saying), “Greetings, Abu ‘Abd Allah and may God store his mercy and blessings for you.”

He fought until he was killed, may God have mercy on him. Then came Abis Ibn Shabib al-Shakiri. He greated al Husayn, peace be on him, and fought until he was killed. Each man of (al Husayn’s) followers continued to go forward and be killed until there only remained with al Husayn, peace be on him, the members of his own House.

His son, ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them, whose mother was Layla daughter of Abu Murra Ibn Urwa Ibn Masud al-Thaqafi, was (the next) to advance. He was one of the most handsome men of the time. On that day he was nineteen years of age.

He attacked the enemy declaring, “I am ‘Ali Ibn al Husayn Ibn ‘Ali. By the House of God, we are those rightly (endowed) with the Prophet. By God, the son of a spurious son will not judge us. I will strike with my sword in defence of my father. I will strike with the blow of a Hashimi, a Qurayshi.”

He did that several times, and the Kufans were afraid to kill him.

Then Murra Ibn Munqidh al-Abdi saw him. He said, “May the felonies of the Arabs come on me, if he gets past me doing the same as he has been doing, (and) if I do not deprive his mother of him.”

(‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn) continued to attack the enemy as he had been doing but then Murra Ibn Munqidh came against him and stabbed him. He was struck down and the enemy fell upon him, cutting him with their swords. Al Husayn, peace be on him, went out until he stood over him and said, “May God kill (the) people who killed you, my son. How fool hardy they are against the Merciful and in violating the sacredness of the family of the Apostle, may God bless him and his family.”

His eyes filled with tears and he said, “There will (only) be dust on the world after you.”

Zaynab, the sister of al Husayn, peace be on him, came hurrying out, crying, “My brother, my nephew!” She came up and threw herself on (her dead nephew). Al Husayn raised her head and then led her back to the tent. He told his young (sons),“Carry your brother back.”

They carried him and put him before the tent which they had been fighting in front of. (Then) one of ‘Umar Ibn Sad’s men called ‘Amr Ibn Subayh shot an arrow at ‘Abd Allah Ibn Muslim Ibn Aqil. Abd Allah put his hand to guard his brow. The arrow struck his hand and penetrated through his brow, and riveted the hand to it. He was not able to move it when another man came down on him with a spear, thrust it into his heart, and killed him.

Abd Allah Ibn Qutba al-Ta’i attacked Awn Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib and killed him.

Amir Ibn Nashhal al-Tamimi attacked Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib and killed him.

Uthman Ibn Khalid al-Hamdam launched himself against ‘Abd al- Rahman Ibn ‘Aqil Ibn Abi Talib, and killed him.

Humayd Ibn Muslim reported:

It was like that among us (i.e. many of al Husayn’s supporters had been killed by ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d’s army) when a young lad came out against us. His face was young like the first splinter of the new moon and he carried a sword. He was wearing a shirt and a waistcloth (izar), and a pair of sandals, one of whose straps was broken. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d Ibn Nufayl al-Azdi said to me, “Let me attack him.” I said, “Praise be to God, what do you want to do that for? Leave him. While even one of the family of al Husayn remains, that will be enough to take vengeance on you for his (death).”

But he insisted, “By God, let me attack him.”

So he rushed against him and did not turn back until he had struck his head with his sword and split it in two. The young lad fell face downwards and he called out, “O uncle!” At this, al Husayn, peace be on him, showed himself just like the hawk shows itself. He launched into attack like a raging lion and struck Umar Ibn Sad Ibn Nufayl with his sword. That man tried to fend off the blow with his arm but his arm was cut off from the elbow, and he gave a great shriek (of pain) which was (even) heard by the people in the camp.

As al Husayn, peace be on him, turned away from him, the cavalry of Kufa attacked in order to save him but they (only succeeded) in trampling him to death beneath the horses’ hooves, and the dust rose.

I saw al Husayn, peace be on him, standing by the head of the young lad, looking at his feet and al Husayn, peace be on him was saying, “May the people who have caused your death perish. For the one who will oppose them on the Day of Resurrection on your behalf will be your grandfather (‘Ali, or great grandfather, i.e. the Prophet).”

Then he continued, “By God, it is hard on your uncle that you called him and he did not answer you, or rather he answered but your cry was (too late) to help you. For by God, those who kill his relatives are many but those who help him are few.”

Then he carried him in his arms. It is just as if (even now) I am looking at the two legs of the boy making marks (as they trail) on the ground. He took him and put him with his son, ‘‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, peace be on them both, and the other members of the household who had been slain. I asked about the boy and was told that he was al-Qasim Ibn al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abl Talib, peace be on them.

Then al Husayn, peace be on him, sat in front of the tent. He brought his son, ‘Abd Allah Ibn al Husayn, peace be on him, who was (just) a baby and sat him on his knee. But one of the Banu Asad shot an arrow which slaughtered the child. Al Husayn, peace be on him, caught the child’s blood in the palm of his hand.

When his palm was full, he poured (the blood) on to the ground and said, “O Lord, if it be so that You have kept the help of Heaven from us, then let it be because (Your purpose) is better than (immediate help). Take vengeance on these people who are (such) oppressors.”

Then he carried the child and laid him with the (other) members of his household who had been slain.

(Just then) Abd Allah Ibn Uqba al-Ghanawi shot an arrow at Abu Bakr Ibn al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali, peace be on them, and killed him. When al-Abbas Ibn ‘Ali saw the number of his family who had been killed, he said to his brothers on his mother’s side, Abd Allah, Ja’far and Uthman, “My brothers through my mother, go forward so that I may see that you have remained true to God and His Apostle. For you have no children (to defend).”

Abd Allah, may God have mercy on him, advanced and fought fiercely. He exchanged blows with Hani’ Ibn Shabib al-Hadrami and Hani’ killed him. After him Ja’far went forward and Hani’ also killed him. Khawali Ibn Yazid al-Asbahi, may God curse him, went against Uthman who had taken the place of his brother. He fired an arrow at him and brought him down. One of the Banu Darim attacked him (while he was down) and cut off his head.

The Battle of Karbala

Qurra reported (later):

I thought that he (al-Hurr) was going to leave the battle, and did not want to be present at it but was unwilling to be seen when he (left).

So I said, “I have not watered it and I was going to water it.” Then I left him where he was. By God, if he had told me what he was intending to do, I would have gone with him to al Husayn, peace be on him.

He (al-Hurr) began gradually to draw closer to al Husayn.

“What do you want, Ibn Yazid?” asked Muhajir Ibn Aws, but he did not answer. (Instead) a great shudder came over him.

“Your behaviour is suspicious,” said Muhajir. “By God, I have never seen you act like this before. If I was asked who was the bravest of the Kufans, I would not (normally) neglect (to mention) you. What is this I see in you, (today)?” “By God, I am giving my soul the choice between Heaven and the fire (of Hell),” answered al-Hurr. “By God, I will not choose anything before Heaven, even though I am cut to pieces and burnt.”

(With that) he whipped his horse and (galloped over) and joined al- Husayn, peace be on him.

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

“Yes,” replied al Husayn, peace be on him, “God will forgive you. So get down.”

“You will have (no) horseman better than me, (nor), while I am on foot, any foot-soldier,” he said. “I will continue fighting on foot to the (bitter) end.”

“Do so,” replied al Husayn, peace be on him. “May God grant you mercy (though) what He has revealed to you.”

He advanced, in front of al Husayn, peace be on him, and called out, “People of Kufa, your mother(s) will be deprived of their sons and tears will come to their eyes. Have you summoned this righteous man (to come to you), then, when he has come to you, have you handed him over (to his enemies)?

Did you claim that you would fight with your own lives for him, and then have you begun to attack him in order to kill him? You have laid hold of his life; you have seized his throat; you have encircled him on every side in order to prevent him returning to God’s broad land (i.e. the Hijaz). He has come into your hands like a prisoner who no longer has the power to use his own life and cannot defend it against harm.

You have prevented him, his womenfolk, his children and his people from (getting) the water of the Euphrates which Jews, Christians and Majians may drink, and which the pigs and dogs of Sawad drink. They (al Husayn’s family) are likely to die of thirst. How wickedly you have treated the offspring left by Muhammad. May God not give you water to drink on the Day of Thirst.”

Some of the foot-soldiers attacked him by shooting arrows at him.

He went and stood in front of al Husayn, peace be on him.

“Durayd,” ‘Umar Ibn Sad called out, “bring forward your standard (for us).”

He brought it forward. (‘Umar) put an arrow in his bow and let it fly. He said, “(All of you) be witnesses of who was the first to shoot.”

The people began to shoot at each other and to come forward (for single combat). Yasar, retainer (mawla) of Ziyad Ibn Abi Sufyan, came forward (from Umar’s army). ‘Abd Allah Ibn Umayr (al-Kalbi) came forward (from al Husayn’s ranks) to meet him.

“Who are you?” Yasar asked him, and (Ibn al-Kalbi) gave him his lineage.

“I do not know you,” (Yasar) answered. “Let Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn or Habib Ibn Muzahir come out against me.”

“Son of a prostitute, you wanted to do single combat with one of the people,”retorted Abd Allah Ibn Umayr (al-Kalbi).

With that (Ibn al-Kalbi) struck him with his sword until he had quietened him. While he was occupied with striking against him, Salim, retainer (mawla) of ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad, attacked him (Ibn al-Kalbi).

Al Husayn’s followers cried out (in warning), “The (other) servant is closing in on you!” (Ibn al-Kalbi) did not notice (Salim) until the latter was upon him. With his left arm he warded off Salim’s blow but the fingers of his hand were cut off. Then he turned on (Salim) and struck him and killed him. After (thus) killing them both, (Ibn al-Kalbl) came forward and recited, “If you do not know me, I am Ibn al-Kalbi: I am a man of bitterness and anger, I am not a weakling in the face of disaster.”

Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj, with the Kufans under his command, launched an attack on the right wing of the supporters of al Husayn, peace be on him. When they drew near, the followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, knelt down and pointed their spears at them. The (attackers) horses would not come forward against the spears and they swung round to retreat. The followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, began to shoot arrows at (the enemy), killing some of them and wounding others.

Abd Allah Ibn Hawza, one of the Banu Tamim, approached al Husayn’s camp and the people called out to him, “Where are you going, may your mother be deprived of you?” “I am (in the right) advancing to a merciful Lord and an intercessor who is listened to (i.e. the Prophet),” he answered.

“Who is that?” al Husayn, peace be on him, asked his followers.

“Ibn Hawza al-Tamimi,” he was told.

“O God, drive him into the fire!” (al Husayn) exclaimed. With that his horse upset him in its stride and fell. His left leg was stuck in the stirrups and his right leg was free. Muslim Ibn Awsaja attacked him and struck his right leg and cut it off. The horse galloped off (dragging) him (along) and his head struck every stone and clod of earth until he died. God hurried his soul to (Hell) fire. (More) fighting then broke out and more men were killed.

Al-Hurr Ibn Yazid attacked the followers of ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d and (as he did so), he recited the words of ‘Antara, “With my charger’s neck and breast thrust forward I will launch myself at them again and again until (the beast) is clothed in blood.”

Yazid Ibn Sufyan, from Banu al-Harith (of Tamim), came forward to meet him. Soon al-Hurr killed him.

(In the meantime) Nafi’ Ibn Hilal came forward, declaring, “I am the son of Hilal. I believe in the religion of ‘Ali.”

Muzahim Ibn Hurayth came against him, crying, “I follow the religion of Uthman.”

“Rather you follow the religion of Satan,” Nafi replied and attacked and killed him.

“You stupid fellows,” Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj cried out to (his) men, “don’t you realise whom you are fighting? (These) knights of the town are people who are seeking death. Don’t let any of you go forward to fight them in single combat. They are only few and their time is running out. If you only threw stones at them, you would kill them (eventually).”

“True, you’ve come to the right conclusion,” ‘Umar Ibn Sad said to him. Then he sent (the message) to the commanders that none of their men should fight in single combat.

Amr Ibn al-Hajaj and his men launched an attack against al- Husayn, peace be on him, from the direction of the Euphrates. They fought together fiercely for a time. Muslim Ibn Awsaja was struck down, may God have mercy on him, (but) Amr and his men withdrew. When the dust settled, (al Husayn’s followers) found Muslim stretched out dying. Al Husayn, peace be on him, walked towards him and he was on the point of death.

Muslim, may God have mercy on you,” said (al Husayn).

of them (the believers) is he who has accomplished his vow, and of them is he who waits; they have not changed at all.” (33:23)

Habib Ibn Muzahir approached and said, “Muslim, your death is hard for me to bear but I bring you good news of Heaven (where you are going).”

“May God bring you good news too,” replied Muslim in a weak voice. “Even if I knew that I would follow you at this very moment, I would still like you to appoint me to carry out everything which concerns you.”

Then the people came again against al Husayn, peace be on him.

Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan attacked with his left wing (and thrust at) (al Husayn’s) left wing, but they stood firm against him and forced him away (with their spears). Al Husayn, peace be on him, and his followers were attacked on every side but the followers of al Husayn fought fiercely. Then their cavalry began to attack and even though they were only thirty-two horsemen, they did not attack any side of the Kufan cavalry without putting it to flight.

When Urwa Ibn Qays saw that – he was in command of the Kufan cavalry – he sent word to ‘Umar Ibn Sad, “Don’t you see what my calvary is receiving today from this small number (of men)? Send the foot-soldiers and archers against them.”

He sent the archers against them. Al-Hurr Ibn Yazid’s horse was lamed. He dismounted and began to shout, “You have lamed my (horse) but I am the son of freedom and braver than a maned lion.”

He struck out against them with his sword but a great number came against him. Ayyub Ibn Musarrih and another of the Kufan horsemen shared in killing him.

The followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, continued to fight fiercely against the enemy until it was midday. When al Husayn Ibn Numayr – he was in command of the archers – perceived the steadfastness of the followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, he advanced against his supporters with five hundred archers so that they showered the followers of al Husayn, peace be on him, with arrows.

They continued shooting at them until they had lamed (most of) their horses and wounded some of their men. Then they moved against them and a fierce battle was fought between them for some time. Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan (also) attacked them with his followers but Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn with ten of the followers of al- Husayn (counter) attacked and drove them away from the tents.

– The History of al Tabari
Volume XIX The Caliphate of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah
Pages 65 – 179 (Selected)
Translated by I.K.A Howard
Paper back – ISBN 0-7914-0041-7

– Kitab al Irshad
Shaykh al Mufid
Pages 328 – 372
Translated by I.K.A Howard

– Tahrike Tarsile Quran
Paper back – ISBN 0-940368-11-0

Imam Husayn (a.s.)’s admonishment

In the morning al Husayn, peace be on him, mobilised his followers after the Morning Prayer. He had with him thirty two horsemen and forty foot-soldiers. He put Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn in charge of his right wing and Habib Ibn Muzahir in charge of his left wing, and he gave his standard to his brother, al-Abbas. They positioned themselves with the tents at the rear. He ordered (the) firewood and cane which was behind the tents to be left in a ditch which had been dug there and to be set on fire, fearing that they would attack them from the rear.

Umar Ibn Sad began the morning of that day – it was Friday, or Saturday as some say – by mobilising his followers. He went out with the men with him towards al Husayn, peace be on him. ‘Amr Ibn al- Hajjaj was in command of his right wing, Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan of the left wing, Urwa Ibn Qays was in command of the cavalry, Shabath Ibn Ribi of the foot-soldiers. He gave his standard to Durayd, his retainer (mawla).

‘Ali Ibn al Husayn, Zayn al Abidin, peace be upon them, reported:

When the cavalry began to approach al Husayn, he raised his hands and said, “O God, it is You in W’hom I trust amid all grief. You are my hope amid all violence. You are my trust and provision in everything that happens to me, (no matter) how much the heart may seem to weaken in it, trickery may seem to diminish (my hope) in it, the friend may seem to desert (me) in it, and the enemy may seem to rejoice in it. It comes upon me through You and when I complain to You of it, it is because of my desire for You, You alone. You have comforted me in (everything) and have revealed its (significance to me). You are the Master of all grace, the Possessor of all goodness and the Ultimate Resort of all desire.”

When the enemy began to move around the tent of al Husayn, peace be on him, they saw the ditch behind and the fire burning the firewood and cane which had been thrown in it. (At this) Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan called out at the top of his voice, “Al Husayn, are you hurrying towards the fire (of Hell) before the Day of Resurrection?”

“Who is that?” asked al Husayn, peace be on him. “(It sounds) like Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan?” “Yes, (it is),” they told him.

“Son of a goat-herdess, you are more worthy to be burnt by that,” he retorted.

Muslim Ibn Awsaja wanted to shoot an arrow at him, but al- Husayn, peace be on him, stopped him from (doing) that.

“Let me shoot at him” he asked, “for he is a wicked sinner, one of the enemies of God, and the great tyrants. (Now) God has made it possible (to kill) him.”

“Do not shoot at him,” ordered al Husayn, peace be on him, “for I am unwilling to begin (the fighting) against them.”

Then al Husayn called for his mount and mounted it. He called out at the top of his voice, “O people of Iraq,” and most of them (began to) listen to him. “People, listen to my words and do not hurry (to attack me) so that I may remind you of the duties you have towards me and so that (by telling you the true circumstances) I may free myself from any blame in (your attacking me). If you give me justice, you will become happier through that. If you do not give me justice of your own accord (as individuals),

then agree upon your affairs (and your associates); let not your affair be in darkness to you. Then carry (it) our against me and do not reflect (any further).”(10:71)

Indeed my guardian is God, Who created the Book, He takes care of the righteous.” (7 : 196)

Then he praised and glorified God, and mentioned what God is entitled to. He called for blessings on the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, and on the angels and (other) prophets. No speaker has ever been heard before or after him more eloquent in his speech than he was.

He continued, “Trace back my lineage and consider who I am. Then look back at yourselves and remonstrate with yourselves. Consider whether it is right for you to kill me and to violate the honour of my womenfolk. Am I not the son of the daughter of your Prophet, of his testamentary trustee (wall) and his cousin, the first of the believers in God and the man who (first) believed in what His Apostle, may God bless him and his family, brought from his Lord?

Was not Hamza, the lord of the martyrs, my uncle? Was not Ja’far, the one who flies in Heaven, my uncle? Have you not heard the words of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, concerning myself and my brother: ‘These are the two lords of the youths of the inhabitants of heaven’?

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

“If I understand what you are saying,” interrupted Shamir Ibn Dhi al-Jawshan, “then I only worship God (very shakily) on the edge.”

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

If you are in any doubt about this,” al Husayn, peace be on him, told them, “you are in doubt that I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. By God there is no son of a prophet other than me among you and among the peoples from East to West. Shame on you, are you seeking retribution from me for one of your dead whom I have killed, or for property of yours which I expropri- ated, or for a wound which I have inflicted?”

They did not say anything to him. Then he called, “Shabath Ibn Ribi, Hajjar Ibn Abjar, Qays Ibn al-Ashath, Yazid Ibn al-Harith, didn’t you write: ‘The fruit has ripened; the dates have grown green; come to an army which has been gathered for you’?” “We don’t know what you are talking about,” said Qays Ibn al-Ashath. “Submit to the authority of your kinsmen (the Umayyads). They have never treated you with anything but what you liked.”

“By God, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated; nor will I flee like a slave,” said al Husayn, peace be on him. Then he called out,

O Servants of God, I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from your stoning.”(44:20)

“I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every haughty man who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning.” (40:27)

He made his mount kneel and ordered ‘Uqba Ibn Sim’an to tie its reins. They (the Kufans) began to advance towards him (al Husayn).

When al-Hurr Ibn Yazid perceived that the people were determined to fight al Husayn, peace be on him, he said to ‘Umar, “Are you going to fight this man?” “Yes,”he replied, “it will be a terrible battle, the least part of which will be heads falling and severed hands flying (through the air).”

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

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

Al-Hurr went and stood apart from the people. With him was a man from his tribe called Qurra Ibn Qays.

“Qurra, have you watered your horse, today?” he asked.


“Do you want to water it?”

– The History of al Tabari
Volume 19 The Caliphate of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah
Pages 65 – 179 (Selected)
Translated by I.K.A Howard
Paper back – ISBN 0-7914-0041-7

– Kitab al Irshad
Shaykh al Mufid
Pages 328 – 372
Translated by I.K.A Howard

– Tahrike Tarsile Quran
Paper back – ISBN 0-940368-11-0