Rafed English

Events of Karbala'

On the second day of the holy month of Muharram, sixty-one years after the Prophet's migration from Mecca to Medinah, his grandson, Imam Husayn, gathered all of his relatives and family and said, "O God! We, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, were chased out of our homes in the city of our Prophet (Medinah). The children of Umayya harmed us. O, Lord! Secure our rights for us and help us against the unjust people."

Then he faced his followers and said, "People are slaves of this world. The religion is just what they say. They use it as long as it provides them with their living. When they are tested, the true religious people are few."

Then he said, "All of you know what has happened to us and you know how the world has changed its face towards us. The good is now considered bad and no good remains except for a little. You see that truth is not acted upon and the wrong is not prevented. Indeed, a believer does not wish anything but to meet his Lord. Indeed, I do not see death [for freedom] as but happiness and life with unjust people as nothing but grief."

When the Imam finished, Zuhayr stood up and said, "O, grandson of the Messenger of God! We heard your sermon. If the whole world was eternal, we would prefer to rise with you than to be in this world."

Burayr stood and said, "O the son of the Messenger of God! God has honored us to fight with you and may your grandfather be our interceder on the Day of Judgment."

Nafi' Ibn Hilal stood and said, "Your grandfather, the Messenger of God, lived among people, some of them were hypocrites, promising to help him, but in reality, they hid themselves to betray him, until he died. Your father 'Ali was in a similar situation. You are now among us in a similar situation. Whoever betrays you betrays no one but himself. You go wherever you go. We will be with you, whatever you face, East or West. Indeed, by God, we do not hesitate to meet our Lord. We speak from our hearts and from our minds. We follow whoever follows you and we are enemies of whoever is your enemy."

Then, the Imam asked the residents of the area, Nineveh and Ghadriyyah, to sell their property to him for 60,000 Dirhams.

He said, "All of the property is for you, on one condition, that whoever wants to visit my grave, you lead them to it."

The area was four miles by four miles. He let them keep the money and he gave the land back to them, then wrote a one-line letter to his brother, Mu¦ammad Ibn al-Hanafiyyah, saying, "Indeed, the world seems not to be and the Hereafter is certain."

Meanwhile, Hurr wrote to Ibn Ziyad telling him of the events. Ibn Ziyad replied in a letter to Imam Husayn saying, "O Husayn, I have heard that you have settled in Karbala'. The leader of the faithful Yazid has written and ordered me not to sleep or be full with drink until I send you to your Lord or you accept my rule and the rule of Yazid."

The Imam read the letter and let it fall to the ground. After he dropped it he said, "People who want to please anyone but God will not be successful."

Ibn Ziyad's messenger asked for a reply and the Imam said, "He has no reply from me because the punishment of God is certain for him."

When the messenger came back to Ibn Ziyad and told him what happened, he became very angry. He stood up and ordered 'Umar Ibn Sa'd to march towards Karbala' with an army of 4,000 troops. He even wrote a promise for 'Umar Ibn Sa'd to appoint him as governor of Ray in Persia if he goes to Karbala' and kills Imam Husayn. When Ibn Ziyad finished writing, he extended his arm and mentioned for 'Umar to take it. 'Umar was reluctant and Ibn Ziyad took the paper back.

'Umar left the governor and gathered all of his friends to consult them. All of them warned him not to go. The son of his sister Hamzah Ibn Mughirah Ibn Shu'bah told him, "I ask you by God not to go and not to fight Imam Husayn even if you become governor of the whole world."

In the morning, he met with Ibn Ziyad and said, "I am not willing to go and fight Imam Husayn. I have brought for you a list of other people to send to fight the Imam."

Ibn Ziyad said, "I am not asking you to tell me whom to send to fight. If you do not want to go, you will not be the governor of Ray."

But, 'Umar Ibn Sa'd did not want to give up his chance to be governor of the rich city of Ray, so he accepted to go and fight Imam Husayn with 4,000 men.

In Karbala', 'Umar asked Azra Ibn Qays to go and meet the Imam and ask him why he is in Karbala'. Azra refused, because he was one of those who asked the Imam to come to Kufah.
Kathir Ibn Abdullah al-Shu'bi said, "I am going to meet the Imam and if you want me to kill him right' away, I will."

'Umar said, "No, just go and ask him why he is coming here."

Kathir went towards the Imam's camp but Abu Thumamah al-Sa'idi stopped him on his way.
Kathir said, "I have a message for the Imam."

Sa'idi said to him, "You give up your sword and you can go to see the Imam."

He refused, and when he tried continuing towards the Imam's camp, Sa'idi would not let him pass, and Kathir decided to go back. Then 'Umar sent Qurra Ibn Qays al-Hanbali. When he conveyed the message to the Imam, the Imam said, "Your people have written to me; therefore, I came. If you have changed your mind, I am going to leave."

Qurra went back to 'Umar and 'Umar wrote to Ibn Ziyad telling him what Imam Husayn said. Ibn Ziyad wrote a reply saying, "Tell Husayn and his followers to pay allegiance to Yazid. If he does so, we will think about what to do with him."

Then, Ibn Ziyad announced a public meeting in the main Masjid of Kufah and made a speech. He said, "O people! You know the people of Abi Sufyan and you know how they have served you, and you know this leader of the faithful Yazid. You know how helpful he is to his people. He serves them and gives them what they need; all of the roads are safe under his leadership as they were during his father's rule. His son, Yazid, honors people. He makes them rich! He has increased your salaries by a hundred times, and he has ordered me to increase them even more if you go to fight his enemy Husayn. Listen to him and obey him."

He immediately distributed money among the soldiers and then went to Nukhaylah. He camped there, and ordered Ibn Namr al-Tamimi and Hajjaj Ibn Abjar and Shimr Ibn Dhil-Jawshan and Shibth Ibn Rab'i to go and join 'Umar Ibn Sa'd. Shibth (one of those who wrote letters inviting the Imam) announced that he was sick.

Ibn Ziyad called him and told him, "You want to play a double trick. If we succeed, you will tell us you were sick and could not help us. To Husayn's people you will say you helped them. Come here so I can see for myself. My people tell me you are not sick."

When Ibn Ziyad saw him, he did not see any sign of sickness and ordered him to go immediately. After that, He ordered five hundred troops under the leadership of Zijr Ibn Qays at the gate of Kufah to prevent other people from leaving and helping the Imam.

However some were able to go. One of them was Amir Ibn Abi Salamah al-Dalani who crossed the gateway. When they tried to stop him, he fought with them and was able to reach Karbala' and fight to protect Imam Husayn.

By this time, Shimr left for Karbala' with 4,000 troops, Yazid Ibn Rikab with 2,000, Hosayn Ibn Numayr with 4,000, Shibth Ibn Rab'i with 1,000, Kalb Ibn Talha with 3,000, Hajjaj Ibn Abjar with 1,000, Madhair Ibn Rahinah with 3,000, and Nasr Ibn Harshah with 2,000 fighters. By the 6th day of the month of Muharram, there were 20,000 troops under the leadership of 'Umar Ibn Sa'd, and Ibn Ziyad kept sending more troops until the total was 30,000 soldiers.

On the day of the 6th, Ibn Ziyad wrote to 'Umar Ibn Sa'd, "I would like to know your news every morning and every night until you finish Husayn."

'Umar immediately redistributed his army around the Euphrates to block the Imam's camp from access to water. The Imam could not bear to hear the children crying. They were not close enough to the river to drink, but the camp was close enough to see and smell the water. The Imam realized that the camp might even be close enough to have water underground. He used one of the tent poles and a hammer to dig a well, hammering the tent pole deeper and deeper until water sprang from the pipe. But, after some time, the water stopped.

Ibn Ziyad wrote to 'Umar Ibn Sa'd, "I heard that Husayn is digging a well. He and his followers drank from that well. The moment you receive my letter, prevent them from digging any wells and make it as difficult as possible for them!" He sent five hundred of his own troops to deliver the message and to guard the Euphrates.

Adapted from the book: "Karbala & Ashura" by: "Ali Hussain Jalali"

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