By Yasin T. al-Jibouri
In the eve of the ninth of Muharram, Imam Hussain gathered all his companions together and said to them, “Whoever remains with me will be killed tomorrow; so, consider this opportunity as Allah-sent and take advantage of the darkness and go home to your villages.” He then extinguished the light so that those who wanted to go away might not be too embarrassed when seen by others. Hussain’s loyal companions burst out in inconsolable weeping and distressfully said to him, “Mawla (master)! Do not thus shame us before God’s Messenger, before Ali and Fatima! With what face will we present ourselves to them on the Day of Judgment? Were we to desert you, may the wild beasts of the jungle tear us to pieces.” Having said so, the faithful companions drew their swords out of their scabbards.
Then they threw the scabbards in the fire of a ditch dug to protect the tents of the ladies. Holding their naked swords, they offered humble supplications to the Almighty beseeching Him thus: “O Lord of the creation! We are passing through the sea of trouble and sorrow in obedience to Your Prophet and in defense of the religion. You are the Sustainer of our honour and reputation. You are our Lord and Master. Grant us the strength of will and the spirit of enduring patience and perseverence so that we may remain firm and give our all in Your Path.”
LOVE AND DEVOTION
Al-Qasim son of Imam Hasan son of Ali ibn Abu Talib, nephew of Imam Hussain , was a 13-year old lad. He sought audience with the Imam in order to inquire whether his name was on the list of martyrs. “Your name,” answered Hussain , “is also included in the list of martyrs. You will be killed, and so will my suckling baby Ali Asghar.” After a short while, the Imam continued saying, “I, too, will be killed, but Allah will continue my lineage. How would the cruel oppressors succeed in putting an end to his [Ali Zain al-Abidan’s] life when eight Imams are to be born as his offspring?”
In a tent sat Umm Kulthum, sister of Abbas, watching her brother polishing his weapons. She wore a woe-begone face, and tears kept trickling down her cheeks. Suddenly Abbas happened to look up. Seeing her tears, he inquired, “Honoured sister, why are you weeping?” “How could I help doing so,” she replied, adding, “since I am an unlucky childless woman? Tomorrow, all the ladies will offer the lives of their sons for the Imam, whom shall I offer, having no son of my own?” Tears trickling down his cheeks, Abbas said, “Sister! From now on, I am your slave, and tomorrow you offer me, your slave, as a sacrifice for the Imam.” Who else, dear reader, would call himself a slave of his sister besides Abbas? Such are the Ahl al-Bayt , and such are their manners.
The tragic and historical battle culminated on a Friday, the tenth of Muharram, 61 A.H., corresponding to October 13, 680 A.D., a day known in Islamic history as Ashura. Imam Hussain delivered two sermons to the misled souls that surrounded him from all directions, trying to bring them back to their senses, but it was to no avail. The dumb and stone-hearted rogues were not affected by Hussain’s eloquent sermons. He asked them, “Am I not your Prophet’s grandson? Am I not the son of the Imam Ali, cousin of the Prophet and the first male to believe in the divine message of Allah? Is not Hamzah, the head of the martyrs, my father’s uncle? Is not the martyr Ja’far al-Tayyar my uncle? Did the Prophet not reach your ears with words spoken in reference to me and to my elder brother (Hasan), saying, These (Hasan and Hussain are the masters of the youths of Paradise’?”
The renown historian at-Tabari and all other historians unanimously record that when Hussain proceeded so far in his sermon, the audience was moved against their wish, so much so that tears began to flow from the eyes of friends and foes alike. It was only Hur, however, who was truly moved to the extent of stirring to action. Slowly did he walk as he kept saying, “Allah! I turn to You in repentance from the depth of my heart, so do forgive me and forgive my sinful misconduct towards the Prophet’s beloved Ahl al-Bayt.”
Approaching the Imam with eyes streaming with tears, with his shield turned the other way and his spear turned upside-down, he knelt down and kept crawling on his knees till he reached the Imam and fell on his feet kissing them, begging for his forgiveness. Hussain accepted his apologies and prayed for him. Meanwhile, Hur’s defection alarmed Omer ibn Saad, the commander-in-chief of the enemies of Hussain and of Allah. He was afraid such defection might encourage other commanders of his army to do likewise. Calling his slave, who was bearing the standard, he put an arrow on the string of his bow and discharged it at Hussain , signaling the beginning of the battle. Martyrs fell one after another, recording epics of heroism unlike any others in the entire history of the human race. Their names and deeds of heroism are recorded on the pages of history for all generations to come.
Wahab ibn Abu Wahab, a Christian, and his wife, also a Christian, were married only a fortnight ago. Having witnessed what went on between Hussain and his foes, they sympathized with Hussain and embraced the Islamic creed at his hands. The words of the Imam’s sermons penetrated their hearts and found an echo. Wahab’s mother, still Christian, said to her son, “I will not be pleased with you till you give your life away for the sake of Hussain .” Wahab charged at the enemies of Allah like a lion, and when a man from Kufa severed his right arm, he transferred the sword to the left and went on fighting as if nothing at all had happened. Soon his left arm, too, was lopped off by a single stroke of a sword, and the hero fell to the ground. His wife watched the whole scene. She pleaded to the Imam thus as she darted towards his enemies, “O Imam! Please do not ask me to go back! I prefer to die fighting rather than to fall captive in the hands of Banu Umayyah!” The Imam tried to dissuade her, explaining to her that fighting is not mandated on women, but at seeing her husband martyred, she ran to him and, putting his lifeless head in her lap, she began to wipe it with her clothes. Soon a slave of Shimer put an end to her life while she was thus engaged; may the Almighty shower His blessings upon her. It is unanimously agreed upon by the historians that she was the first lady to be martyred on that day.
Wahab’s mother was very happy. She said, “Allah! Thank You for saving my honour through my son’s martyrdom before the Imam.” Then the old Christian lady turned to the Kufians and said, “You wicked people! I bear witness that the Christians in their churches and the Zoroastrians in their fire houses are better people than you!” Saying so, she seized a stout candle (or, according to other accounts, a tent post) in her hand and fell upon the enemies, sending two of them to hell. The Imam sent two of his companions to bring her back. When she stood before him, he said to her, “O bondmaid of Allah! Women are not allowed to go to war. Sit down; I assure you that you and your son will be with my grandfather in Paradise.” Another martyr to be mentioned here, who was also Christian, is John, a slave of the great sahabi Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, may Allah be pleased with both of them. He had been for many years in the service of Abu Tharr, and although he was a very old man (according to some accounts, he was 90 years old), he fought Hussain’s enemies till he was martyred.
ABBAS IS MARTYRED
The story of the martyrdom of Abbas is a very sad one. Unfortunately, there is no room here to provide you with all its details due to the lack of space; therefore, we have to summarize it to you in a few words. Abbas ventured to bring water to the wailing thirsty children. He individually had to face the eight hundred soldiers guarding the bank of the Euphrates against Hussain and his small band having access to it. He was Hussain’s standard-bearer. Both his arms were severed, one after the other, and arrows made his body look like a porcupine. One of those arrows penetrated his right eye… When Hussain saw his brother fall like that, he wept profusely as he said, “Now I have become spineless…” When Hussain tried to carry him to his camp, Abbas pleaded to him not to do so since he could not stand hearing the cries of the thirsty children especially since he had promised to bring them some water. He hated to go back to them empty-handed. Hussain , therefore, honoured his last wish; Abbas breathed his last as his brother Hussain was holding to him…
MARTYRDOM OF THE IMAM HUSSAIN
The Imam was also very courageous, so much so that he had already been called “the lion of Banu Hashim.” He had participated in the wars waged by his father, the Imam Ali, in defense of the creed against the hypocrites led by the Umayyads and against the Kharijites, proving his military ability and mastership of the art of war. Had the Muslims of today mastered this art, and had they been able to make their own weapons rather than import them from others, they would not have been forced to sell their God-given natural resources, especially oil, dirt cheap to those who do not wish them any good. Had the rulers of the Muslim world learned how to get along with each other, they would have cooperated with each other for their own common good. Had the Muslims of the world implemented the commandments of their creed as strictly as they are supposed to, no unjust or tyrannical ruler would have ever ruled them…
I think that such rulers, the likes of Yazid, are the main cause of the pathetic situation wherein the Muslims of the world find themselves at the present time, yet these rulers derive their strength from the weakness of their subjects; so, one problem is connected to the other…
Narrators of this incident record saying that there was hardly any place in Hussain’s body that escaped a sword stroke or an arrow, and the same can be said about his horse al-Sahab which used to belong to Prophet Muhammed who, shortly before breathing his last, gave it to his right hand, cousin, and son-in-law Ali . Hussain’s older brother, Imam Hasan , inherited it; after his martyrdom, it became the property of Imam Hussain . Having become too feeble to fight, he stood to rest. It was then that a man threw a stone at him, hitting his forehead and causing his blood to run down his face. He took his shirt to wipe his blood from his eyes just as another man shot him with a three-pronged arrow which pierced his chest and settled in his heart. He instantly said, “In the Name of Allah, through Allah, and on the creed of God’s Messenger [do I die].”
Raising his head to the heavens, he said, “Lord! You know that they are killing a man besides whom there is no other son of Your Prophet’s daughter.” As soon as he took the arrow out of his back, blood gushed forth like a drain pipe. He placed his hand on his wound and once his hand was filled with blood, he threw it above saying, “Make what has happened to me easy for me; it is being witnessed by Allah.” Not a single drop of that blood fell on the ground. Then he put it back a second time, and it was again filled with blood. This time he rubbed it on his face and beard as he said, “Thus shall I appear when I meet my Lord and my grandfather God’s Messenger , drenched in my blood. It is then that I shall say: O grandfather! So-and-so killed me.’”
Bleeding soon sapped his strength, so he sat down on the ground, feeling his head being too heavy. Malik ibn al-Nisr noticed his condition, so he taunted him then dealt him a stroke with his sword on the head. Hussain was wearing a burnoose which soon became full of blood. Hussain said, “May you never be able to eat or drink with your right hand, and may Allah gather you among the oppressors.”
Having said so, the dying Imam threw his burnoose away and put on a turban on top of his capuche cap. Hani ibn Thabeet al-Hadrami has said, “I was standing with nine other men when Hussain was killed. It was then that I looked and saw one of the children from Hussain’s family wearing a robe and a shirt, and he was wearing two ear-rings. He held a post from those buildings and stood startled looking right and left. A man came running. Having come close to that child, the man leaned from his horse and killed that child with his horse. When he was shamed for thus killing a helpless child, he revealed his last name…”
That child was Muhammed ibn Abu Saad ibn Aqeel ibn Abu Talib. His mother, dazed, stunned, and speechless, kept looking at him as the incident unfolded before her very eyes…
The enemies of Allah waited for a short while then returned to Hussain whom they surrounded as he sat on the ground unable to stand. Abdullah son of Imam Hasan , grandson of the Prophet , who was eleven years old, looked and saw how his uncle was being surrounded by those people, so he came running towards him. Zainab, Hussain’s revered sister, wanted to restrain him but he managed to evade her and to reach his uncle. Bahr ibn Kab lowered his head to strike Hussain , so the child shouted, “O son of the corrupt woman, are you going to strike my uncle?” The man dealt a blow from his sword which the child received with his hand, cutting it off. The child cried in agony, “O uncle!” Then he fell in the lap of Hussain who hugged him and said, “O son of my brother! Be patient with regard to what has befallen us, and consider it as goodness, for Allah, the most Exalted, will make you join your righteous ancestors.” Then he raised his hands and supplicated saying, “O Allah! Let them enjoy themselves for some time then divide them and make them into parties, and do not let their rulers ever be pleased with them, for they invited us to support us, then they turned their backs to us and fought us.”
Harmalah ibn Kahil shot the child with an arrow, killing him as he sat in his uncle’s lap. Hussain remained lying on the ground for some time. Had those rogues wished to kill him, they could have done so, but each tribe relied on the other to do what it hated to do itself. Shimer shouted, “What are you standing like that for?! What do you expect the man to do since your arrows and spears have wounded him so heavily? Attack him!”
Zarah ibn Shareek struck him on his left shoulder with his sword while al-Haseen shot him with an arrow which penetrated his mouth; another man struck him on the shoulder. Sinan ibn Anas stabbed him in his collar bone area of the chest then shot him with an arrow in the neck. Salih ibn Wahab stabbed him in the side…
Hilal ibn Nafi` has said, “I was standing in front of Hussa
in as he was drawing his last breath. Never did I ever see anyone whose face looked better or more glowing as he was stained with his own blood! In fact, the light emanating from his face distracted me altogether from the thought of killing him! As he was in such a condition, he asked for some water to drink, but they refused to give him any.”
A man said to him, “You shall not taste of water till you reach hell from whose hot boiling water shall you drink.” He said, “Am I the one who will reach it? Rather, I will reach my grandfather God’s Messenger and reside with him in his abode of truth near an Omnipotent King, and I shall complain to him about what crimes you committed against me and what you have done to me.” They all became very angry. It is as if Allah did not leave an iota of compassion in their hearts. When his condition worsened, Hussain raised his eyes to the heavens and said,
“O Allah! Sublime You are, Great of Might, Omnipotent, Independent of all creation, greatly Proud, Capable of doing whatever You please, Forthcoming in mercy, True of Promise, Inclusive of Blessings, Clement, Near to those who invoke Him, Subduing His creation, Receptive to Repentance, Able, Overpowering, Appreciative when thanked, Remembering those who remember Him! Thee do I call upon out of my want, and Thee do I seek out of need! From Thee do I seek help when in fear and cry when depressed! Thine help do I seek in my weakness, and upon Thee do I rely! O Allah! Judge between us and our people, for they deceived and betrayed us. They were treacherous to us, and they killed us although we are the Itrat of Your Prophet and the offspring of the one You love: Muhammed whom You chose for Your Message and entrusted with the revelation. Do find an ease for our affair and an exit, O most Merciful of all merciful ones! Grant me patience to bear Your destiny, O Lord! There is no Allah but You! O Helper of those who seek help! I have no Allah besides You, nor do I adore anyone but You! Grant me to persevere as I face Your decree, O Helper of the helpless, O Eternal One Who knows no end, O One Who brings the dead back to life, O One Who rewards every soul as it earned, do judge between me and them; surely You are the best of judges.”
Hussain’s horse came circling around him, rubbing his head on his blood. It was then that Ibn Saad shouted, “The horse! Get the horse, for it is one of the horses of God’s Messenger!” Horsemen surrounded that horse which kept kicking with its front legs, killing forty riders and ten horses. Ibn Saad then said, “Leave him and let us see what he does.” Once he felt secure, the horse went back to Hussain to rub his head on the Imam’s blood as he sniffed him. He was neighing very loudly. Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir used to say that that horse was repeating these words: “Retribution! Retribution against a nation that killed the son of its Prophet’s daughter!” The horse then went to the camp neighing likewise. When the women saw the horse without its rider and its saddle twisted, they went out, their hair spread out, beating their cheeks, their faces uncovered, screaming and wailing, feeling the humiliation after enjoying prestige, going in the direction of the place where Hussain had been killed.
Umm Kulthum, Zainab the wise, cried out, “O Muhammed! O father! O Ali! O Jafar! O Hamzah! Here is Hussain in the open slain in Kerbala!” Then Zainab said, “I wish the heavens had fallen upon the earth! I wish the mountains had crushed the valley!” She was near Hussain when Omer ibn Saad came close to her flanked by some of his men. Hussain was drawing his last breath. She cried out, “O Omer ! Should Hussain be killed as you look on?!” He turned his face away. His tears were flooding his beard. She said, “Woe unto you! Is there any Muslim man among you?” None answered her. Then Omer Ibn Saad shouted at people, “Alight and put him to rest!” Shimer was the first to do so. He kicked the Imam with his foot then sat on his chest and took hold of his holy beard. He dealt him twelve sword strokes. He then severed his sacred head…
Those folks now took to maurauding the Imam: Ishaq ibn Hawayh took his shirt. Al-Akhnas ibn Murthid ibn Alqamah al-Hadrami took his turban. Al-Aswad ibn Khalid took his sandals. Jamee ibn al-Khalq al-Awdi, and some say a man from Tameem named al-Aswad ibn Hanzalah, took his sword.
Bajdal came. He saw the Imam wearing a ring covered with his blood. He cut his finger off and took the ring… Qays ibn al-Ash’ath took his velvet on which he since then used to sit, so he came to be called “Qays Qateefa.” Qateefa is Arabic for velvet. His worn out garment was taken by Jaoonah ibn Hawiyyah al-Hadrami. His bow and outer garments were taken by al-Raheel ibn Khaythamah al-Jufi and Hani ibn Shabeeb al-Hadrami and Jarar Ibn Mas’ud al-Hadrami. A man among them wanted to take his underpants after all his other clothes had been taken away by others. This man said, “I wanted to take it off, but he had put his right hand on it which I could not lift; therefore, I severed his right hand… He then put his left hand on it which I also could not lift, so I severed it, too, and I was about to bare him and take it off when I heard a rumbling like that of an earthquake, so I became frightened. I left him and fell into a swoon, a slumber. While I was unconscious, I saw the Prophet, Ali, Fatima, and Hasan, in a vision. Fatima was saying, O son! They killed you! May Allah kill them!’ He said to her, O mother! This sleeping man has severed my hands!’ She then invoked Allah’s curse on me saying, May Allah cut your hands and legs, and may He blind you and hurl you into the fire!’ Indeed, I am now blind. My hands and legs have already been amputated, and nothing remains from her curse except the fire.”
When Hussain was martyred, people fell upon his luggage and belongings looting everything they could find in his tents, then they set the tents to fire. People raced to rob the ladies of God’s Messenger . Daughters of Fatima al-Zahra’ tearfully ran away, their hair uncovered. Scarves were snatched, rings were pulled out of fingers, ear-rings were taken out, and so were ankle-rings. A man took both ear-rings belonging to Umm Kulthum, riddling her ears in the process. Another approached Fatima daughter of Hussain , taking her ankle-rings out. He was weeping as he committed his foul deed. “What is the matter with you?,” she asked him. “How can I help weeping,” he answered, “since I am looting the daughter of God’s Messenger?” She asked him to leave her alone. He said, “I am afraid if I do not take it, someone else will.”
Another man was seen driving the women with the butt of his spear, having robbed them of their coverings and jewelry as they sought refuge with one another. He was seen by the same Fatima. Having realized that she had seen him, he went towards her, and she fled away. He threw his spear at her; she fell headlong and fainted. When she recovered, she saw her aunt, Umm Kulthum, sitting at her head crying.
A woman from the clan of Bakr ibn Wa’il, who was accompanied by her husband, saw the daughters of God’s Messenger in such a condition, so she cried out, “O offspring of Bakr ibn Wa’il! Do you permit the daughters of the Messener of Allah to be robbed like that? There is no judgment except Allah’s! O how God’s Messenger should be avenged!” Her husband brought her back to his conveyance.
The rogues reached Ali son of Hussain who was sick on his bed unable to stand up. Some were saying, “Do not let any of them, young or old, alive.” Others were saying, “Do not be rash in your judgment till we consult the governor Amr ibn Saad.” Shimer unsheathed his sword with the intention to kill Ali. Hameed ibn Muslim said to him, “Glory to Allah! Do you really kill children?! He is only a sick lad!” He said, “Ibn Ziyad ordered all Hussain’s sons killed.” Ibn Saad went to extremes to stop him especially after having heard the wise lady Zainab daughter of the Imam Ali saying, “You will not kill him before killing me first;” so, they left him alone.
Ibn Saad himself came to the ladies who burst in tears upon seeing him. He ordered the men to stay away from them. Those men had already taken all the ornaments those ladies had had and never returned any of them back. He assigned to a group of men the task of protecting them, then he returned to his tent.
Ibn Saad shouted, “Who volunteers to make sure that the chest and the back of Hussain are run over by the horses?” Ten men stood up. Those miscreant “volunteers” were: Ishaq ibn Hawiyyah, al-Ahbash ibn Murshid ibn Alqamah ibn Salamah al-Hadrami, Hakeem ibn al-Tufayl al-Sinbisi, Amr ibn Sabeeh al-Saydawi, Raja’ ibn Munqith al-Abdi, Salim ibn Khaythamah al-Jufi, Salih ibn Wahab al-Jufi, Wakhit ibn Ghanim, Hani ibn Thabeet al-Hadrami, and Aseed ibn Malik. They rode their horses and trampled upon the body of the fragrant flower of God’s Messenger…
Ibn Ziyad ordered liberal awards to be given to them. Al-Bayruni has said that they did to Hussain what no other nation had ever done to their most evil ones: killing with the sword or the spear, with stone throwing, and with horse trampling. Some of those horses reached Egypt were their shoes were pulled out and fixed on doors as means of seeking blessings. This became a custom among them, so much so that many of them started making the like of those shoes and hanging them over the doors of their houses.
THE SEVERED HEADS
Ibn Saad ordered the heads to be severed from their bodies. They were distributed to various tribes that used them as means to seek favour with Ibn Ziyad. The Kindah tribe took thirteen brought by their envoy Qays ibn al-Ash’ath. The Hawazin tribe brought twelve with their “man” Shimer. The Tameem tribe brought seventeen; the Banu Asad tribe brought sixteen; the Mathhaj tribe brought seven, and the other tribes brought the rest. The tribe to which Hur al-Riyahi belonged refused to cut anyone’s head or to let their horses trample on the Imam’s body.
On the tenth day, Ibn Saad had already entrusted the head of Imam Hussain to Khawli ibn Yazid al-Asbahi and Hameed ibn Muslim al-Azdi. He entrusted the heads of the Imam’s family members and those of his companions to Shimer, Qays ibn al-Ash’ath and Amr ibn al-Hajjaj. Khawli’s house was one farasang from Kufa. He hid the head from his Ansari wife whom he knew to be loyal to Ahl al-Bayt. But when she saw a light emanating from the bakery oven [where it was hidden], she was terrified. When she came closer, she heard the voices of Hussain’s women mourning Hussain in the most somber way. She mentioned this to her husband then went out crying. Since then, she never used any kohl nor any perfume out of her grief for Hussain . She was called Ayoof.
In the morning, Khawli took the head to the governor’s mansion. By then, Ibn Ziyad had returned from his camp at al-Nakheela. Khawli put the head in front of Ibn Ziyad as he recited these poetic verses:
Fill my stirrup with silver or with gold:
I killed the master of every honour told,
Their best when they mention descent.
I killed the best of people, son of the best parent.
But these words, spoken in front of everyone, were met by Ibn Ziyad with outrage. “Since you knew that he was that honourable,” said Ibn Ziyad, “why did you then take part in killing him? By Allah, you will receive nothing from me at all.”
When Ibn Saad sent the heads to Kufa, he remained with the army till noon on the eleventh day [of Muharram]. He gathered those killed from his army and performed the funeral prayers for them then buried them, leaving the corpses of the Master of the Youths of Paraidse and those of his Ahl al-Bayt and companions unwashed, unshrouded, and unburied, exposed to the wind and to the wild beasts of the desert.
After the time of zawal, Ibn Saad left for Kufa with the women, the children, the bondmaids, and the surviving family members of Hussain’s companions. They included twenty women whom they mounted on camels without saddles just as was the custom then with Turks or Romans taken captive although they belonged to the best of all prophets . With them was as-Sajjad Ali ibn Hussain who was twenty-three years old. He was placed on a lean camel without a saddle, and he was worn out by sickness. His son [the later Imam] al-Baqir, who was two years and a few months old, accompanied him. Among the children of Imam Hasan taken captive were: Zaid, Amr, and Hasan II. The latter was captured after he had killed seventeen men. He received eighteen wounds, and his right arm had been cut off. Asma’ ibn Kharijah al-Fizari intervened to get him freed because his mother was also Fizari, so Ibn Saad left her husband take him. With them was Uqbah ibn Saman, a slave of al-Rubab, Hussain’s wife. When Ibn Ziyad came to know that that man was al-Rubab’s slave, he released him. Ibn Ziyad was informed that al-Muraqqa ibn Thumamah al-Asadi had scattered his arrows around then fled to his tribe where he sought and received protection, he ordered him to be banished to al-Zara.
The ladies pleaded to thus: “For the love of Allah! Please take us to those killed.” When they saw how they had lost their limbs, how the spears had drank of their blood, and how the horses had trampled upon them, they screamed and beat their faces in anguish. Zainab cried out,
“O Muhammed! Here is Hussain in the desert covered with blood, his limbs cut off! Here are your daughters taken captive and your offspring slaughtered!” These words caused friends and foes alike to weep, even the horses’ tears ran on their hooves. Then she put her hands under his sacred body and lifted it as she supplicated saying, “O Lord! Do accept this sacrifice from us.”
Sukayna hugged the body of her father Hussain and kept telling him how she had heard him saying,
O my Shi’as! Whenever of water you drink
Never from mentioning my name should you shrink.
And whenever you are a stranger on a sojourn
Or see a martyr, me should you remember and mourn.
Only a number of them could collectively remove her from his corpse, forcefully dragging her away.
When Ali ibn Hussain looked at his slaughtered family, he felt greatly grieved and worried. When his sister Zainab al-Kubra read his face, she felt upset on his account and took to consoling him and admonishing him to be patient although even the mountains could not match him in his patience and fortitude. Among what she said to him is the following:
“Why do I see you pleading for death, O the legacy of my grandfather, of my father and brothers? By Allah, this is something which Allah had divulged to your grandfather and to your father . Allah took a covenant from people whom you do not know, the mighty ones on this land, and who are known to the people of the heavens, that they would gather these severed parts and wounded corpses and bury them, then shall they set up on this Taff a banner for the grave of your father, the Master of Martyrs , the traces of which shall never be obliterated, nor shall it ever be wiped out so long as there is day and night. And the leaders of apostasy and the promoters of misguidance shall try their best to obliterate and efface it, yet it shall get more and more lofty instead.”
Zajr ibn Qays came to them and shouted at them to leave as he kept whipping them. Others surrounded them and mounted them on camel humps. Zainab the wise rode her own she-camel. She recollected the days of lofty honour and inviolable prestige, guarded by fierce and honourable lions of Abdul-Muttalib’s offspring. And she used to always be surrounded by servants who would not enter without her permission.
When the daughters of the Imam Ali entered Kufa, the city’s residents gathered to see them, so Umm Kulthum shouted at them, “O people of Kufa! Do not you have any sense of shame before Allah and His Messenger so you look at the ladies of the Prophet?”
One of Kufa’s women came to them and saw their condition for which even a most bitter enemy would feel sorry. She asked them what captives they were, and she was told: “We are captives belonging to the Progeny of Muhammed.” The people of Kufa kept doling out dates, walnuts and bread to the children, whereupon Umm Kulthum, that is, Zainab al-Kubra, shouted at them that they were prohibited from accepting charity. She threw away what had been given to the children.
The daughter of the Imam Ali explained to people Ibn Ziyad’s villainy and meanness in a speech which she delivered to them. When she signaled to them to calm down, they did. They stood speechless and motionless, and even the bells of their animals stopped ringing. It was then that she, calm and composed and with courage reminiscent of that of her father Haider addressed them saying,
“All Praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon my father Muhammed and upon his good and righteous Progeny . May the resounding [of this calamity] never stops. Your similitude is one who unspins what is already spun out of the desire to violate [a trust]. You make religion a source of your income… Is there anyone among you who is not a boaster of what he does not have, a charger of debauchery, a conceited liar, a man of grudge without any justification, one submissive like bondmaids, an instigater, a pasture of what is not wholesome, a reciter of a story to someone buried? Truly bad is that which your souls have committed. You have reaped the Wrath of Allah, remaining in the chastisement for eternity. Do you really cry and sob? By Allah, you should then cry a great deal and laugh very little, for you have earned nothing but shame and infamy, and you shall never be able to wash it away, and how could you do so? The descendant of the Bearer of the Last Message , the very essence of the Message, the source of your security and the beacon of your guidance, the refuge of the righteous from among you, the one who saves you from calamity, the Master of the Youths of Paradise… is killed. O how horrible is the sin that you bear…! Miserable you are and renegades from the path of righteousness; may you be distanced and crushed. The effort is rendered futile, the toil is ruined, the deal is lost, and you earned nothing but Wrath from Allah and His Messenger .
You are doomed with servitude and humiliation. Woe unto you, O Kufians! Do you know whose heart you have burned, what a “feat” you have laboured, what blood you have shed, and what sanctity you have violated? You have done a most monstrous deed, something for which the heavens are about to split asunder and so is the earth, and for which the mountains crumble. You have done something most uncanny, most defaced, as much as the fill of the earth and of the sky. Do you wonder why the sky rains blood? Surely the torment of the hereafter is a greater chastisement, and they shall not be helped. Let no respite elate you, for rushing does not speed it up, nor does it fear the loss of the opportunity for revenge. Your Lord is waiting in ambush for you.
Imam as-Sajjad said to her, “That is enough, O aunt. You are indeed a naturally wise woman untaught by others, and praise if for God, you know things directly”
FATIMA DELIVERS A SPEECH
Fatima, Hussain’s daughter, delivered a speech wherein she said,
“All Praise is due to Allah, as much as the number of the sands and of the stones, as much as the Arsh weighs up to the ground. I praise Him, believe in Him, and rely upon Him, and I testify that there is no Allah other than Allah, the One and Only Allah, there is no partner with Him, and that Muhammed is His servant and Messenger, and that his offspring have been slaughtered by the Euphrates river neither on account of blood revenge nor out of dispute over inheritance.
Lord! I seek refuge with You against telling a lie about You and against saying anything contrary to what You have revealed of taking many a covenant regarding the vicegerency of Ali , the man whose right is confiscated, who was killed without having committed a sin, just as his son was only yesterday killed, at one of the houses of Allah, the most Exalted One, at the hand of those who give Islam nothing but lip service. Destruction may afflict their heads that did not ward off from him any injustice as long as he lived nor at his death, till Allah Almighty took his soul to Him while his essence was praised, his dealing with others was commendable, his merits were well known, and his beliefs well admitted by everyone. Never did he ever accept anyone’s blame nor the criticism of any critic in doing what is right.
Lord! You guided him to Islam even when he was a child and praised his virtues when he grew up. Never did he ever cease enjoining others to follow Your Path and that of Your Messenger . He always paid no heed to the riches of this world. He always desired the hereafter, a man who carried out jihad for Your Cause. With him were You pleased, so You chose him and guided him to a Straight Path. O people of Kufa! O people of treachery, of betrayal and conceit! We are members of a Household tried on your account by Allah, afflicted by you. He made our dealing with you good, and He entrusted His knowledge to us, and He bestowed upon us its comprehension; so, we are the bastian of His knowledge, understanding and wisdom, and His Arguments on the earth which He created for the good of His servants! Allah bestowed upon us His blessings and greatly honoured us with His Prophet, favouring us over many of those whom He created. Yet you called us liars and apostates, and in your eyes you deemed killing us as lawful, and so is looting our possessions, as if we were the offspring of the Turks or of Kabul, just as you killed our grandfather in the past. Your swords drip with our blood, the blood of Ahl al-Bayt, out of past animosity. Thus have your eyes been cooled, and thus have your hearts been elated, telling lies about Allah and out of evil plans which you hatched, while Allah is the very best of planners. So do not be carried away with your excitement because of our blood which you have spilled or our wealth which you have snatched, for what has befallen us is truly a great tragedy and a momentous calamity “In a Book even before We created them; surely this is easy for Allah, so that you may not be grieved because of what you missed nor feel happy because of what you acquired, and Allah does not love anyone who is coceited, braggard” (57:23). May you be ruined! Expect to be cursed and to be tormented, for it seems as though it has already befallen you, and more and more signs of Wrath are on their way to you from the heavens till He makes you taste of the chastisement and make some of you taste of the might of others, then on the Day of Judgment shall you all remain for eternity in the painful torment on account of the injustice with which you have treated us; the curse of Allah be upon the oppressors.
Woe unto you! Do you know what hand you have stabbed, what soul found fighting us agreeable? Rather, by what feet did you walk towards us with the intention to fight us? Your hearts became hardened, and Allah sealed your hearts, your hearing, and your vision, and Satan inspired to you and dictated, placing a veil over your eyes, so you can never be guided. Destruction is your lot, O people of Kufa! What a legacy of the Prophet is standing before you, and what blood revenge will he seek from you on account of your enmity towards his brother Ali , my grandfather, and towards his good and righteous offspring, yet you even brag about it saying,
With Indian swords and spears
We killed Ali and Ali’s sons,
And we placed their women in captivity
Like the Turks! We crushed them with severity.
May stones and pebbles fill your mouths! You brag about killing people whom Allah chose and whom He purified with a perfect purification and from whom He kept away all abomination. Suppress it, then, and squat just as your fathers did, for each will get the rewards of what he earns and will be punished for what he committed. You envied us, woe unto you, for what Allah, the most Exalted One, favoured and preferred us. Such is Allah’s favour: He bestows His favours upon whomsoever He pleases, and surely with Allah are great favours. For whoever Allah does not make a noor, he shall have no light at all.”
Voices were raised with weeping and wailing, and they said to her, “Enough, enough, O daughter of the pure ones, for you have burnt our hearts and necks,” so she took to silence.
AL-SAJJAD DELIVERS A SPEECH
Ali ibn Hussain was brought on a lean camel. Chains were placed on his neck, and he was handcuffed. Both sides of his neck were bleeding. He was repeating these verses:
” O nation of evil, may your quarter never tastes of water!
O nation that never honoured in our regard our Grandfather!
Should we and the Messenger of Allah meet
On the Judgment Day, how would you then plead?
On bare beasts of burden have you
Transported us, as if we never put up a creed for you!”
He signaled to people to be silent. Once they were silent, he praised Allah and glorified Him and saluted the Prophet . Then he said,
“O people! Whoever recognizes me knows me, and whoever does not, let me tell him that I am Ali son of Hussain ibn Ali . I am the son of the man whose sanctity has been violated, whose wealth has been plundered, whose children have been seized. I am the son of the one who has been slaughtered by the Euphrates neither out of blood revenge nor on account of an inheritance. I am the son of the one killed in the worst manner. This suffices me to be proud. O people! I plead to you in the Name of Allah: Do you not know that you wrote my father then deceived him? Did you not grant him your covenant, your promise, and your allegiance, then you fought him? May you be ruined for what you have committed against your own souls, and out of your corrupt views! Through what eyes will you look at God’s Messenger when he says to you, “You killed my Progeny, violated my sanctity, so you do not belong to my nation”?
Loud cries rose, and they said to each other, “You have perished, yet you are not aware of it.” Then he said, “May Allah have mercy on anyone who acts upon my advice, who safeguards my legacy with regard to Allah, His Messenger , and his Ahl al-Bayt , for we have in God’s Messenger a good example of conduct to emulate.” They all said, “We, O son of God’s Messenger, hear and we obey, and we shall safeguard your trust. We shall not turn away from you, nor shall we disobey you; so, order us, may Allah have mercy on you, for we shall fight when you fight, and we shall seek asylum when you do so; we dissociate ourselves from whoever oppressed you and dealt unjustly with you.” He said, “Far, far away it is from you to do so, O people of treachery and conniving! You are separated from what you desire. Do you want to come to me as you did to my father saying, No, by the Lord of all those [angels] that ascend and descend’?! The wound is yet to heal. My father was killed only yesterday, and so were his Ahl al-Bayt , and the loss inflicted upon God’s Messenger , upon my father , and upon my family is yet to be forgotten. Its pain, by Allah, is between both of these [sides] and its bitterness is between my throat and palate. Its choke is resting in my very chest.”
AT THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION
Having returned from his camp at Nakheela, Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad went straight to his mansion. The sacred head was brought to him, and it was then that the walls started bleeding and a fire broke out from one part of the mansion and made its way to the place where Ibn Ziyad was sitting. He fled away from it and entered one of the mansion’s rooms. The head spoke out in a loud voice that was heard by Ibn Ziyad as well as by those who were present there and then. It said, “Where do you flee to? If fire does not catch you in the life of this world, it shall be your abode in the hereafter.” The head did not stop speaking till the fire was out. Everyone at the mansion was stunned; nothing like this had ever taken place before. Yet Ibn Ziyad was not admonished by an incident such as that, so he ordered the captives to be brought to him. The ladies of God’s Messenger were brought to him, and they were in the most pathetic condition.
Hussain’s head was placed in front of him, so he kept hitting its mouth with a rod which he had in his hand for some time. Zaid ibn Arqam said, “Stop hitting these lips with your rod, for by Allah, the One and Only Allah, I saw the lips of God’s Messenger kissing them,” then he broke into tears. Ibn Ziyad said to him, “May Allah cause you never to cease crying! By Allah, had you not been an old man who lost his wits, I would have killed you.” Zaid went out of the meeting place saying, “A slave is now a monarch ruling them, treating them as his property. O Arabs! Henceforth, you are the slaves! You have killed Fatima’s son and granted authority to the son of Marjana who kills the best among you and permits the evil ones among you to be worshipped. You have accepted humiliation, so away with whoever accepts humiliation.”
Zainab daughter of the Imam
Ali kept a distance from the women as she remained disguised, but she could not disguise the prestige of being brought up in the lap of prophethood and in the glory of Imamate, so she attracted Ibn Ziyad’s attention. He inquired about her. He was told that she was Zainab, the wise lady, daughter of the Imam Ali . He wanted to tell her how rejoiced he was at what had happened. Said he, “Praise be to Allah Who exposed you to shame, Who killed you and proved you liars.” She responded with: “Praise be to Allah Who honoured us by choosing Muhammed [from among us] as His Prophet and purified us with a perfect purification. Rather, only a debauchee is exposed to shame, and a sinner is proven to be a liar, and we are neither.”
Ibn Ziyad asked her, “How have you seen what Allah has done to your Ahl al-Bayt ?” She said, “I have seen Him treating them most beautifully. These are people to whom Allah prescribed martyrdom, so they leaped from their beds welcoming it, and Allah shall gather you and them, and you shall be questioned, and your opponents shall charge you; so, you will then find out whose lot shall be the crack of hell, may your mother, O son of Marjana, lose you.”
This statement enraged Ibn Ziyad, and her words incinerated him with ire, especially since she said it before such a huge crowd. He, therefore, was about to kill her when Amr ibn Hareeth said to him, “She is only a woman; can she be held accountable for what she said? She cannot be blamed when she thus prattles.”
Ibn Ziyad turned to her one more time and said, “Allah has healed my heart by letting me seek revenge against your tyrant and against the rebels and mutineers from among his Ahl al-Bayt !” The wise lady calmed herself and said, “By my life! You have killed my middle-aged protector, persecuted my family, cut off my branch and pulled out my roots; so, if all of this heals your heart, then you are indeed healed.”
He then turned to Ali ibn Hussain whom he asked what his name was. “I am Ali son of Hussain ,” came the answer. Ibn Ziyad asked Ali, “Did not Allah kill Ali ?” Al-Sajjad answered, “I used to have an older brother also named Ali whom people killed.” Ibn Ziyad responded by repeating his statement that it was Allah who had killed him. Al-Sajjad, therefore, said, “Allah takes the souls away at the time of their death; none dies except with Allah’s permission.” Ibn Ziyad did not appreciate him thus responding to his statement rather than remaining silent, so he ordered him to be killed, but his aunt, the wise lady Zainab, put her arms around him and said, “O Ibn Ziyad! Suffices you what you have shed of our blood…, have you really spared anyone other than this? If you want to kill him, kill me with him as well.” Al-Sajjad said [to Ibn Ziyad], “Do you not know that we are used to being killed, and that martyrdom is one of Allah’s blessings upon us?” Ibn Ziyad looked at both of them then said, “Leave him for her. Amazing is their tie of kinship; she wishes to be killed with him.”
Al-Rubab, wife of Imam Hussain , took the head and put it in her lap. She kissed it and composed poetry lines mourning. When it became clear to Ibn Ziyad that there were many people present who were voicing their resentment of what he had committed and how everyone was repeating what Zainab had said, he feared an uprising, so he ordered the police to jail the captives inside a house adjacent to the grand mosque. Ibn Ziyad’s doorman has said, “I was with them when he issued his order to jail them. I saw how the men and women assembled there weeping and beating their faces.” Zainab shouted at people saying, “Nobody should tend to us except either a bondmaid, a freed bondmaid, or umm wuld, for they were taken captive just as we have been.” Only a female captive is familiar with the pain and humiliation of captivity; therefore, she would be sympathetic and would not rejoice nor enjoy seeing them in captivity. This is undeniable.
Ibn Ziyad again called them to his presence. When they were brought to him, their women saw Hussain’s head in front of him with its divine rays ascending from its curves to the depth of the heavens. Al-Rubab, Hussain’s wife, could not check herself from falling upon it and composed more poetry eulogizing him.