Imam Husain bin Ali (a.s.)
- :Rafed Network
Imam Husain bin Ali (a.s.)
Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein. Allah loves whoever loves Hussein. Hussein is a disciple of the disciples."
All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. There is no god but Allah, the One. Peace and blessings be with Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah and his pure and sinless Ahlul-Bait.
In the twentieth century, and particularly in the last quarter of it, we have witnessed many revolutions resulting in drastic changes in the geographical, political and sociological faces of the world. Most of these changes, if not all, have affected large groups of Muslims in one way or the other.
World events move quickly and man forgets the lessons of the past. But history is connected by a series of circumstances and continues to repeat itself. Thus, the past affects the present and the present, no less, affects the future. The human conflicts we are witnessing in the world today are merely a reflection of the conflicts of the past. The essence of these conflicts are based on right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood.
We often find the unjust ideologies, regimes and methods of ideology threatening the security of the people and destroying man with the pressure of their interests and enmity. We often find this to be in effect in this land, in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. When we search history we find that what we are suffering today is a continuation of the stories of injustice of long ago and that the oppressors of the world today are the successors of the oppressors of yesterday.
If we contemplate these and the many other events that are affecting the Muslim world today, we will find that there is a strong parallelism to the subject of our book.
This is a brief account of the life of Imam Hussein bin Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.), the second grandson of the Holy Prophet and the third divinely chosen caliph from the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
He was the leader of a movement that was very unlike his illustrious predecessors. Although the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) engaged in war for the sake of Allah, it was at a time when Islam was struggling to establish itself as a divine religion. Later, during the Imamate of Ali bin Abi Tal ib (a.s.), again he was driven to war to protect Islam from the deviators. At the time of the Imamate of Hassan bin Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) his followers had lost much of their power and force and because the bloodshed of war would cause further division in the ummah, Imam Hassan (a.s.) opted for a peace treaty with the enemy in order to protect the religion.
Imam Hussein's (a.s.) approach to Imamate was unique and extraordinary in that he took a position of opposition to the so-called caliph of the ummah. At first his opposition resembled that of his father, quiet seclusion and disassociation during the caliphate of Mu'awiyah who had not only assassinated Imam Hassan (a.s.) in order to override the terms of the treaty, but further broke all its limits in assigning the caliphate to his son Yazid as an inheritance. Later, when Yazid became caliph the pressure on Imam Hussein (a.s.) to give his pledge to this wayward and deviated ruler brought about the open opposition and refusal of Imam Hussein (a.s.) to comply.
The repercussions of his position brought about the horrendous event of the massacre at Karbala' in central Iraq. Unlike his grandfather and father (a.s.), Imam Hussein (a.s.) was not confronting non-Muslims. The killers of Imam Hussein (a.s.), his cousins, his sons, his brothers, his friends and followers, were the same ones who would join him for prayer and stand behind him as he led it! Yet, we see that even this did not deter these same people from carrying out the most atrocious orders to cut off his head and trample his body, leaving it unburied on the desert sands.
Many books have been written about the revolution of Imam Hussein (a.s.) any many misunderstand his position. It was not one of war. He was not marching to Kufa to organise an army to turn upon the ruler of the time. He was invited to come to lead them in their matters and to do his sacred duty. But he was not al lowed to do so. The political implications of his refusal to give his pledge to Yazid would have weakened the illegitimate leader's position and that was something that Yazid was not prepared to accept. He wanted all power and authority and he accepted no opposition. Thus, the tragedy of Karbala' was not about war, it was about greed and oppression. It was about truth and falsehood, right and wrong, belief and disbelief. The condition of the Muslim world today is so parallel with that time of fourteen centuries ago that one is confirmed to believe that history does repeat itself.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) a revolutionary, a leader, a saint, a pure and bright soul, a human being concerned about his fellow man. The Muslim world has been taken over by kings and presidents and prime ministers with no legitimate right and who desecrate Islamic law every day. Islam had become a source of wealth and power and is in a state of constant turmoil and confusion so that Muslims are being killed by Kuffar and Muslims alike! This was the condition of the ummah during the time of Imam Hussein (a.s.).
He saw the religion established by his grandfather, the Holy Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), defended by his father and brother (a.s.), and now his personal responsibility, being abused and practically discarded for power, wealth and glory. He saw the rule of Muslims in the hands of unbelievers. He saw hypocrisy and oppression and he rebelled. Not unlike what is happening in the Muslim world where the rulers, some in the name of Allah, and some not, have sold out their people and their religion for some of the same reasons. The Muslims of these countries, now and in the past, have made stands against these illegitimate rulers. Why have they not succeeded to take their right to rule as Allah had ordained?
Superficially we can answer this question by saying the now patent phrase, "Muslims are disunited." At a closer look we will find it is because those rulers, of the past and present, have succeeded to innovate Islam to the point that Muslims have no identity or self-esteem. A sad reminder of the warnings of our Prophet and his Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), when they repeatedly commanded us to adhere to them.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) was one of those reminders. He rose up against an illegitimate ruler who was innovating the faith and misguiding the Muslims. This ruler played on the dissentigration of unity that began at the moment of the death of Muhammad (s.a.w.). Imam Hussein (a.s.) took his stand so that we could understand our position. It was a stand or fall situation. He could not win the battle, but he won the revolution. On the fields of Karbala', a bleak desert plain in central Iraq, he stood and fought and was martyred for the sake of re-establishing what had been forgotten.
This book is about a revolutionary. A righteous man. A religious authority. An Imam of the Muslim ummah. He was killed! By whom? By others Muslims in a struggle for power and rule of the Islamic state. Who was there to help him? Precious few. Why did he take a stand that meant certain death for him and his family and followers? For Allah and Islam. What was he trying to do? Teach us that fighting unto death is more honorable than submitting to injustice. Why have we not grasped the true essence of his message? This final question remains unanswered.
Around the world on the 9th and 10th of Moharram, you will find Muslims of all creeds crying their eyes out for Imam Hussein (a.s.), and then going home to their comfortable beds to have a restful night's sleep while their brothers and sisters starve to death and suffer oppression and aggression in various countries. What a bunch of rubbish! Is that what Imam Hussein (a.s.) sacrificed his pure and blessed blood for? A few tears once a year? Allah perserves us from the ignorant!
We pray to Allah, with all our soul, that upon reading this brief account of the life of Imam Hussein (a.s.), the third rightful caliph of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) that the reader will be encouraged to research more deeply into his life and message. Scores of books are available in many languages. A study of his stand may help us to take a more righteous position in our own lives.
An understanding of what Imam Hussein (a.s.) was trying to instill in the soul of the ummah may wake us up before it is too late, if it's not too late already. We suppose the best way to capsulize his message is in his own words:
"It is better to die fighting for truth, than to live under an oppressive ruler."
"Of the believers are the men who are true to what they covenanted with Allah; of them is he who has
fulfilled his vow and of them is he who awaits (its fulfilment); and they have not changed in the least,"
Holy Qur'an (33:23)
If we can honestly include ourselves among any of those mentioned in the above verse, our tears for Imam Hussein (a.s.) may have real content.
With Allah comes success.
Praise be to Allah, and blessings and peace be upon our master and leader, Muhammad, and his pure household and the righteous among his companions.
As centuries pass by, the uprising of Imam Hussein (a.s.), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), shines more powerfully, as a medal on the brow of history. It becomes firmly fixed in the conscience of the Muslim ummah, and is more understandable in the view of the historians and researchers.
Similarly, the free faithful get more determined to follow in it's footsteps, and hold firmly to it's noble goals so as to destroy the oppression of the tyrants, and root up the governments of the agents of the east and west all over our great Muslim world.
As in the far past, all efforts made by the sympathizers, and the spiteful alike, to thwart Imam Hussein's determination to begin his blessed and tremendous uprising, which awakened the ummah and pulled down the thrones of the Ummayyad, had failed. Now all the hectic and poisonous plots being made to deflect the revolution from its right path, or obliterate its landmarks, or extinguish its blazing flame, will also certainly fail. There is no way these efforts could succeed, whether they center on distorting the image of the uprising, inventing stories and myths around it, or emptying it of its Islamic meaning and depicting Imam Hussein (a.s.) as a 'rejecting leftist', or an 'ambitious adventurer', or an 'avenger', or a 'mutinist', or employing any other means of diversion, cover-up and distortion.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) rose up. He continued his uprising and stuck to it until its last stages. He sacrificed all that he had, and offered the most dear men and pure souls to Allah for one goal. It was to defuse a 'bomb' which Mu'awiyah expertly timed and planted. That was Mu'awiyah, the son of Hind, the 'Eater of Kidneys'. The 'bomb' was planted to blast off the principle of 'Islamic legitimacy' at the bands of his son Yazid, to root out that principle after being gradually pushed off the stage. This being achieved, it would be an easy task to violate all Allah's bounds and laws, the first of which are the qualifications the Muslim leader should possess to answer the office of leadership, and the last of which is the cancelling of Islamic ritual s and ethics.
It is no wonder, then, that the orientalists, including the Jews and Christians, praise the Ummayyad rule, particularly Yazid, as the strongest leader in the history of Islam!
Al-Balagh Foundation hopes, as it presents to its dear readers 'Rays of Light from the Life of Imam Hussein (a.s.)', the third Imam of the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and his second grandson, who, along with his brother, Imam Hasan (a.s.), are the masters of the youths of paradise, that it can spread sweet wafts of the fragrance of the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and reach the masses of our Muslim ummah with the momentum of a principled uprising, the match of which history never witnessed.
We beseech Allah, the Most High, to aid and grant success to all the culturally aware vanguards, who reject their corrupt status quo, and believe in their promising Islamic future. He is the best of helpers.
On the third of the blessed month of Sha'ban, the fourth year after Hijrah and a year after the birth of Imam Hassan (a.s.), the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was given news of the birth of Imam Hussein (a.s.). He hurried to the house of Imam Ali and Fatimah al-Zahra' (a.s.).
"O Asma'," he ordered Asma', the daughter of Umays, "bring me my son."
She took the newborn to him. The infant was wrapped in a piece of cloth. The face of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) lit up upon seeing his grandson. He took him in his arms. He recited the call to prayer (adan) into his right ear, and read the shorter version (iqamah) in his left ear. He, then, placed the baby in his lap and wept.
"May my father and mother be your sacrifice," Asma' asked him, "why are you crying?"
"Because of my son," he replied.
"He is a newborn baby," she said.
"O Asma'," he said," After me, the transgressing party will kill him. May Allah never grant them my intercession."
Then he said: "Asma', don't tell Fatimah about this, for she has just given birth to him." 1
Then the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) turned to Imam Ali (a.s.) and asked him: "What name have you chosen for him?"
"I would never precede you in naming him, O Messenger of Allah," he replied.
At that moment, the revelation descended on the beloved Messenger, Muhammad (s.a.w.), with the name of the infant. Having received the divine order, the Messenger (s.a.w.) looked at Imam Ali (a.s.) and said: "name him Hussein."
Seven days later, the Prophet (s.a.w.) hastened to the house of al-Zahra' (a.s.). He slaughtered a lamb as an offering to Allah and ordered the infant's head shaved, its weight in silver to be given to the poor.
Thus, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) applied the very same Islamic rites he had earlier performed for his brother, Imam Hassan (a.s.). 2
The status of Imam Hussein (Abu-Abdullah) (a.s.) is unparalleled, except by that of his father, mother, brother, and the Imams of his offspring, on all of them be the peace and blessings of Allah. Should a historian make a good research, collecting the stories and traditions concerning Imam Hussein (a.s.), he would certainly end up with the Imam (a.s.) as the top example among the Muslims. He would write a voluminous, great work covering this Imam.
As much as we can, we will delve into the key points which portray the great position of Imam Hussein (a.s.) according to Islamic criteria.
The Glorious Qur'an, the supreme divine document, which falsehood can never reach from before or behind it, expresses in many verses the lofty position Imam Hussein (a.s.) achieved in the sight of Allah, the Exalted. Following are some of these verses:
1. Verse of Purification (Tathir)
"Allah only wishes to keep away uncleanness from you (Household of the Prophet) and purify you thoroughly."
Holy Qur'an (33:33)
Traditionists say, regarding the reason this verse was revealed, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) called for a shawl. With it he covered Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.). "O my Lord," he said, "these are the members of my family. Remove uncleanness from them and purely purify them." 3 and so this noble verse was revealed on this occasion. It is a testimony by Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, on the purity of the Prophetic house (Ahlul Bait (a.s.)) and their great stature.
2. Verse of Malediction (Mubahala)
"If anyone disputes with you about it (your prophethood) after the knowledge has come to you, say, 'Come, let us bring our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves and pray to Allah to curse the lying party."
Holy Qur'an (3:61)
The Qur'anic exegesists and scholars say that this noble verse was revealed when the Christians of the city of Najran agreed with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to pray to Allah to destroy the party which stuck to falsehood. As agreed, and on time, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) went out to the place chosen for the contest. He carried Imam Hussein (a.s.) and took Imam Hassan (a.s.) by the hand. Fatimah followed behind while Imam Ali walked in their wake. "Say 'Amen' at the end of my prayer," the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) told them. But, upon seeing those brilliant faces filled with piety and grandeur, the Christians stopped short of entering the contest. They recognized the Prophet's authority, and paid the tribute. 4
The noble verse called Hassan and Hussein "our sons," mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and referred to Ali as "ourselves" and Fatimah as "our women." She symbolizes the whole of womankind in this verse. Had there been other people who had higher status than these people, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) certainly would have brought them along with him.
3. Verse of Affection (Mawada)
"... say: 'I do not ask you f or any payment f or my preaching to you, except the love f or my relatives...'"
Holy Qur'an (42:23)
The Qur'anic exegesists state that this verse was revealed concerning Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.).
Jabir bin Abdullah is reported to have said: "A bedouin came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and said, 'O Muhammad! introduce me to Islam.'
"'You should bear witness,' replied the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) 'that there is no god but Allah, Who is the only God, Who has no partner whatsoever, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.'
"'Do you ask for recompense in return?' asked the bedouin.
"'No,' said the Prophet (s.a.w.), 'except that you should love the relatives.'
"'Mine or yours?' inquired the man.
"'Mine,' said the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).
"'Hold out your hand,' said the bedouin. 'I give you my pledge of allegiance. My Allah curse whoever doesn't love you or your kindred.'
"'Amen,' said the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)." 5
It is reported in the Musnad (Book of traditions) of Ahmad bin Hanbal, the two Sahihs (Authentic books of traditions), and the exegesis of al-Tha'alibi and al-Tabarsi, that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, was quoted as saying, "when the verse (say: I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you except the love for my relatives) was revealed, Muslims asked the Prophet (s.a.w.), 'O Messenger of Allah! Who are your kinsfolk whom we should love?! 'Ali, Fatimah and their two sons,' answered the Prophet (a.s.)."
Next to the verses of the Glorious Qur'an, we quote certain statements, from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as additional evidence expressing the lofty position occupied by Imam Hussein (a.s.) in the world of Islam and the Muslim ummah.
1. In the Sahih of al-Tirmidhi, Ya'la bin Murrah is quoted to have said, "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said,
'Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein. Allah loves whoever loves Hussein. Hussein is a disciple of the disciples." 6
2. Salman al-Farsi is reported to have said, "I heard the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) saying, 'Hassan and Hussein are my two sons. Whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them then he dislikes me. And whoever dislikes me then Allah dislikes him. And whomever Allah dislikes, He will throw him into hell f ace downward."' 7
3. Al-Bara' bin Azib is quoted to have said, "I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) carrying Hussein bin Ali (a.s.) on his shoulder. He was saying, 'O Lord! I do love him so love him.'" 8
4. Abdullah bin Mas'ood is reported to have said, "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, concerning Hassan and Hussein, 'These are my two sons, whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them he dislikes me,"'
5. Ali bin Hussein (a.s.) said, on the authority of his father, on the authority of his grandfather (a.s.), 'The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) took the arms of Hassan and Hussein and said, 'Whoever loves me and loves these two and their father, he will certainly be with me on the Day of Judgement.'" 9
In our latest booklet 10 we referred to the fact that the characters of both Imams Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) have many traits in common. Both of them received their initial stage of training before shouldering the heavy task of propagating and defending the da'wah. Both of them had one and the same education, indoctrination, and spiritual and ideological teachings, under the supervision of their grandfather (s.a.w.), their father and their mother (a.s.).
As a result, the aspects of their characters fused together personifying the message of Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, in thought, action and conduct.
In our booklet on Imam Hassan (a.s.), we cited some examples which put his character into perspective. Here, we do the same regarding Imam Hussein (a.s.).
We can better understand the depth of Imam Hussein's (a.s.) relationship with Allah, the Most High, if we don't lose sight of the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself taught him the ideology of Islam and brought him up spiritually as he had done with his father, Imam Ali, his mother, al-Zahra', and his brother, Imam Hassan (a.s.). By so doing, his path was defined and his character was formed.
One day he was asked, "How great is your fear of your Lord?"
"No one would be secure on the Day of Judgement except those who feared Allah in this life," he replied. 11
His face would turn pale, and he would tremble at the time of doing his ablution. He was asked about this and answered,
"Whoever stands in the presence of the Almighty Allah is not to blame if his color turns pale and his limbs shake."
On the night before the tenth of the month of Muharram, Imam Hussein (a.s.) asked the Ummayyad army to delay the battle till the following morning. He said, "This night we want to offer our prayers to our Lord, and we want to ask His forgiveness. He knows that I love to offer my prayer to Him, recite His Book, and pray much asking f or His forgiveness."
During the most critical and horrifying hours of the last day of his earthly life, he realized that it was midday and he had to perform his prayer. The battle of Karbala' was in full swing. He asked the enemies to stop fighting so as to let him and his followers offer their prayer. No better testimony than this can reflect the depth and strength of his relationship with Allah and his love for Him.
He used to recite this supplication, "O Lord! Grant me the desire for the other world, till I realize that it is a real thing in my heart, through my apathy to this world. O Lord! Grant me perception with regard to the other world so much that I will seek the divine reward with acute longing, and flee from the bad deeds out of fearing You, O Lord...". 12
We Will address this plea more elaborately when we cover the uprising of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and his heroic, and matchless sacrifice for the sake of Allah, the Most High.
A look at the ethical side of Imam Hussein's (a.s.) character would be enough to shed light on the vividness of his relations with the ummah, for he was the most perfect and exemplary leader during his time. We don't mean that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was different from the other Imams in this respect. The nature of the relationship between the Imam and the ummah is actually outlined by the Divine Message. Imams represent it, as personified in their daily life.
Following are some examples of that great, high and brilliant relationship.
Once Imam Hussein (a.s.) passed by poor men eating crumbs of bread on a mat. He greeted them and they invited him to their meal. He sat among them and said: "If your food were not alms, I would have eaten with you. Come home with me," he asked them. There, he fed them, clothed them and provided them with money. 13
One could easily detect the depth of his humbleness through examination of this vivid testimony, particularly when we take into consideration that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was the political and ideological figure who was appointed as the legitimate leader of the Muslims by Allah, through His Messenger (s.a.w.).
As for his social position, he was so matchless and unique, that Ibn Abbas, the revered companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), used to hold the stirrup of his horse when he would mount it. Ibn Abbas was older than Imam Hussein (a.s.), but he did this out of his respect for him. 14
It is because of his glorious social status that the people would dismount from their horses and camels, on the way to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage, as long as he would travel on foot.
Another example reflecting his humble nature is that of his acceptance of an invitation to having food with the poor. He encountered a number of poor men. Having had their food they hastened to ask him to share with them. He dismounted from, his horse saying, "Surely, Allah doesn't like the haughty." He partook of their food and said: "I have accepted your invitation. Won't you accept mine?"
"Certainly, we Will," said they. He took them to his house and said to al-Rabab, his wife, "Bring us what you have been storing." 15
He did care for the people. He would always help them, even though, for the most part, they wouldn't recognize his legitimate right. Shu'aib bin Abdul-Rahman is reported to have said: "On the way of al-Taf (battle of Karbala', wherein he was martyred) a mark was seen on the back of Hussein bin Ali (a.s.). Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.) (his eldest son, and the son who survived the battle) was asked about it. 'It is the trace,' he replied, 'of the bag, which he puts on his back (carrying food) to the house of the widows, orphans and the poor." 16
This fact attests to his remarkable humbleness, his care for the ummah, his awareness and deep feeling of his responsibility toward the people.
This is another one of his key attributes. Once a young servant of his did something which deserved punishment. When Imam Hussein (a.s.) wanted to punish him, the servant said:
"Who curb their anger." "Let him go", said the Imam.
"And those who forgive their fellow-man," added the servant.
"I forgive you," said the Imam.
"And Allah loves the charitable, sir," said the servant.
"I set you free, for the sake of Allah," said the Imam. "Henceforth I am going to give you the double of what I have been giving you." 17
These are only brief instances of the ethical side of the character of Imam Hussein (a.s.).
We deem it suitable to mention some of his activities in the field of Islamic thought. These texts testify to his great intellectual capacity, polished by the divine message and set on the right track by Allah, the Almighty.
Nafi' bin al-Azraq, the head of the Azraqis who were among the Khawarij (those who mutinied against Imam Ali (a.s.) after the Battle of Siffeen), once asked him to describe his Lord Whom he worshipped.
"O Nafi'!," Imam Hussein (a.s.) started, "Whoever uses symbolism in religious matters will always remain in confusion, deviated as he stumbles off the right path, sticking to deviation wherever he goes, straying off the right course, and saying bad, and worthless things. O son of al-Azraq! I can describe my Lord with the very words He used to describe Himself: Never recognized by the five senses. Never compared to man.
Very close but not to the point of being touched. Very far but not so far that He can't be detected. He is One and can't be partitioned. Known by His signs. Described by His attributes. There is no god but He, the Great, the Exalted."
At that point Ibn al-Azraq wept and said: "What beautiful words are yours." 18
On his way to Karbala', he assessed the general situation, pointing to the great deviation the ummah had been drawn into, and talked about his determination to win martyrdom, in the following words:
"Life has certainly changed disguises and its good has gone forever. This has continued till the remaining good in it amounts to the thin sediment at the bottom of a drinking untensil. Life is a mean food, a pasture covered with bad grass. Do you not see that the truth is not followed and falsehood not discouraged? The faithful must certainly desire to meet his Lord righteously. I do not deem death other than felicity and life among the unjust other than suffering and boredom. People are certainly enthralled with life. Faith is only something licked by them. They take good care of it as long as it secures their living. But once put to the tests of tribulation, religious men should be rarely found amongst them." 19
With his sharp awareness, he defines the different levels of the relationship with Allah. He says:
"Some people serve Allah desiring (His rewards). It is the worship of merchants. Some people serve Allah out of fear. It is the worship of slaves. And some people serve Allah out of gratitude. This is the worship of the free. It is the best kind of worship." 20
He addressed the people, prior to the battle of Karbala', defining the characteristics of the Ummayyad rule, and analyzing the political and administrative situation from an Islamic point of view He said:
"... O people! the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) had said: 'Whoever witnesses an unjust ruler considering the prohibitions of Allah as permissible, breaking the covenant of Allah, opposing the practices of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.), treating His servant sinfully and cruelly, and had seen all these misdeeds but did not oppose him bywords or actions, Allah surely will punish him as He wills.'
"Certainly these people have come to staunchly obey Satan, and given up obeying the Compassionate. They showed mischief, stopped acting in accordance with Islamic laws, took Muslims' property to themselves, made the haram designated by Allah, halal, and turned His halal to haram. I am more entitled than anyone else (to make the change). Your letters arrived, and your envoys came to me carrying your pledge of allegiance that you will not hand me over to my enemy, nor will you f ail me. Should you stick to your pledge of allegiance, you have surely made the right decision. I am Hussein bin Ali, and the son of Fatimah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.). I am, myself, with you, and my family is with yours. You find a good example in me. But, however, if you will not hold onto your pledge of allegiance, break your convenant, and throw off my pledge of allegiance, then, by Allah, it is not the first time you do it. You did it with my father, and you have done it with my brother, and my cousin Muslim bin Aqeel. He is certainly gullible who is deceived by you. You are missing your luck and losing your lot. He who breaks his oath, breaks it at his own peril. Allah will certainly compensate me if you leave me." 21
These are only scattered small examples of his great thought which occupies the center of original, serene Islam. Should the dear reader tend to know more about Imam Hussein (a.s.), he can refer to the books which dealt with his life. He will find out himself how deep and great were Imam Hussein's (a.s.) thought and faith. 22
Imam Hussein's role in Islamic life started very early. While still a young man, he contributed effectively to the rising movement of Islam. Eminent was his role during the Imamate of his father, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Side by side with his father, brother, and the loyal men around his father, he took part in the major battles of his father: al-Jamal, Siffin and al-Nahrawan.
During the Imamate of his brother, Hassan (a.s.), he lived as his loyal, obedient soldier. They shared the same views and acted in unison. He experienced, with his brother, the events, including the signing of the peace document with Mu'awiyah. Afterwards, he went to Medina along with his brother and the members of the house of the Prophet (s.a.w.). There, they did their best to carry out their mission of keeping the Divine Message away from the current of mounting deviation. As we have explained in our study of the life of Imam Hassan (a.s.), their religious task centered around ethical and ideological teachings, straightening up people's conduct, and pointing out their religious responsibility to them.
In the wake of Imam Hassan' s (a.s.) departure to his Exalted Lord, Imam Hussein's (a.s.) role entered a new phase due to the complications which sprung up in the midst of the ummah. Since the role of any Imam from the house of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is defined by the nature of the social, ideological and political developments in his time, Imam Hussein (a.s.) blazed a new trail in defining the progress of the Islamic movement which he led after taking the office of the legitimate Imam, in harmony with the Divine Will which was expressed in the statements and words of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) in this respect.
Jabir bin Sumrah is reported to have said: "I went with my father to see the Prophet (s.a.w.). I heard him saying: 'Life will not come to an end before twelve caliphs have appeared.' Jabir went on to say: "I could not figure out what he said afterwards, and so I asked my father: "What has he said?"
"He (s.a.w.) said," my father replied, 'All of them are from the Quraish.'" 23
Ababah bin Rab'i bin Jabir is reported to have said: "The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) said: 'I am the master of the prophets, who will come after me are twelve, the first one of whom is Ali and the last one is al-Mahdi, who will revolt against injustice.'" 24
Salman (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "I went to see the Prophet (s.a.w.). I saw Hussein on his lap. The Prophet was kissing him on the cheeks and mouth. I heard him saying: 'You are a master, the son of a master, and the brother of a master. You are an Imam, the son of an Imam and the brother of an Imam. You are the Proof of Allah, the son of a Proof of Allah, and the brother of a Proof of Allah, and the father of nine Proof s of Allah, the ninth one of them is al-Mahdi, the one who will revolt against injustice.'" 25
There are a plethora of statements and traditions reported from the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) in which he states, implicitly and explicitly, that his successors are twelve caliphs. 26
Imamate took a new turn during Imam Hussein's (a.s.) term. That is what we Will explain, Insha'llah, in the following pages.
Mu'awiyah entered the city of Kufa after signing the peace treaty with Imam Hassan (a.s.). His army encircled it. He addressed the Kufans in these words: "O people of Kufa! Do you think that I have fought you for the sake of prayer, poor-rate and hajj (pilgrimage), whilst I know you offer your prayers, give the poor-rate and perform hajj? Nay, I fought you so as to be your ruler and seize control of your lives. Allah granted any property plundered or any blood shed in this sedition is irretrievable. Any promise I have given is trampled under these two feet of mine ..." 27
This address of Mu'awiyah amounted to a public revocation of the treaty which was conducted with Imam Hassan (a.s.) as expressed in these words: "Any promise I have given is trampled under these two feet of mine." Not a few days had passed after the signing of the peace document, when Mu'awiyah began implementing a new plan, totally in contrast to the terms of the peace document. The following goals figure in his notorious plan:
1. Unleashing a wave of terror, and embarking on elimination of all opposition forces, particularly the followers of Imam Ali (a.s.). They were bunted down, and every means of oppression and terror was employed to silence every free voice. No better testimony to the danger of this savage and horrifying policy than the following text, which carries the orders of Mu'awiyah to one of his military officers:
" ... And kill any one you come across who does not hold the same views you hold, and attack every town you pass by. And plunder property as plundering property is tantamount to killing, and it is more hurting to the heart ..." 28
If the deviant Ummayyad plot, expressed clearly in this text, is devilish, it was first implemented during the life of Imam Ali (a.s.); it took on more dangerous proportions after the signing of the peace document with Imam Hassan (a.s.). More innocent blood was shed, and opponents, who came from different schools of thought, at the head of which were the followers of Imam Ali (a.s.) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s.), were put to the sword.
Mu'awiyah wrote to his governors in all provinces: "See to it that whoever is proven, by irrefutable evidence, to love Ali and his household, his name is erased from the public register and his pay and food allotment are dropped." 29
In another letter, he wrote: "Whomever you accuse of being loyal to these people, severely punish him and tear down his house." 30
In short and expressive words Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) depicts this bloody tragedy. He says: "...Our followers were killed in every city. Hands and legs were cut off at the slightest suspicion. Whoever was reported to love us or had any contact with us would either be imprisoned or robbed of his property or his house destroyed. Oppression increased in volume and became unduly harsh, till the time of Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, the murderer of Hussein (a.s.)." 31
At the head of the victims of that horrible carnage was a group of pious companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) including Hijr bin Uday and his followers, Rasheed al-Hajari, Amru bin al-Humq al-Khuza'i, Awfa bin Hisn and many others. Books such as al-Tabari, al-Kamil and Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah collected countless stories about Mu'awiyah's hatred for the followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s.).
2. Dispersing money for the sake of buying-out men, and weakening their Islamic character, and helping the deviant policy of Mu'awiyah to fulfill its devilish objectives. In reality, two kinds of men were bought out:
A. A number of preachers and traditionists whose role was outrageous in working in favor of Mu'awiyah. They forged traditions and narratives and falsely attributed them to the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) in order to depricate Imam Ali (a.s.) and all the members of his family.
B. Leading social men who might act against the Ummayyad rule. It was a policy practised by Mu'awiyah and the other rulers of the Ummayyad dynasty. This policy became an adopted line of action throughout the Ummayyad rule. No better testimony to this policy than Mu'awiyah's sending 1,000 Dirhams to Malik bin Hubairah al-Sakoon. The latter was enraged to hear of the murder of the great companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Hijr bin Uday, and his followers (may Allah be pleased with them). Mu'awiyah sent him the money. Al-Sakooni, upon receiving it, gave up any intention of rising against oppression and corruption.
3. War of starvation. It was the most effective weapon used by the Ummayyads. The Muslim ummah felt humiliated and unable to challenge the rulers.
As this policy was based on fighting the opposition forces with their daily bread and depriving them of the means to earn their living, Mu'awiyah employed the most horrendous way to besiege the followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) in particular. His recorded directive, which he sent to his governors in this respect said: "...See to it that whoever is proven, by irrefutable evidence, to love Ali and his household, his name is erased from the public register, and his pay and food allotment are dropped."
One can see for himself the repercussions of this inhuman policy, adopted by the Ummayyad house to corrupt people and numb their conscience. It was not a temporary line of action. Mu'awiyah made it a consistent policy throughout the twenty years of his rule (41-60 A.H.).
4. Breaking the bonds holding the Muslim ummah as one entity by stirring up the nationalist, tribal and regional spirit among the different groups. Thus, plunging the Muslims into infighting at the expense of their real opposition to the oppressive rule of the Ummayyads. Mutual spite and hatred between the Arab tribes were awakened and soon differences and violence began to surface. The tribes of Qays and Mudhar fought each other. The people of Yemen and those of Medina jumped at each other's throats. And so was the case among the tribes of Iraq! In the same way sectarianism was revived between the Arabs and non-Arab Muslims who came to be historically known as al-Mawali. This policy of ignorance was expressively reflected in the poetry of many poets like Miskeen al-Darimi, al-Farazdaq, Jareer, al-Akktal and others. 32
5. Assassination of Imam Hassan bin Ali (a.s.) as he was the legitimate symbol of original Islam.
6. Crowning Yazid as the new king after his father, Mu'awiyah. Such a move was taken in a severe atmosphere of oppression, and in line with the stick-and-carrot policy, which ran counter to the peace treaty which appointed Imam Hassan (a.s.) as the next caliph after the death of Mu'awiyah. If Imam Hassan (a.s.) himself was already dead at the time of Mu'awiyah's death, the document said that Imam Hussein (a.s.) would be the next caliph.
And so Mu'awiyah completed his plot of revoking every term of the treaty he concluded with Imam Hassan (a.s.). Mu'awiyah, thus, went another step in tresspassing the Islamic concept of rule, by adopting the hereditary rule, which implies dictatorship, as a system of rulership in the Muslim world. Islamic principles and the Muslim ummah were exposed to the most violent tragedy in their history. The ummah's movement swerved off the right track it was supposed to tread.
Deviation took a clear shape shortly after the death of Mu'awiyah and the ascension of Yazid to the office of caliphate. Such was the desire of Mu'awiyah who nurtured and kept it alive till it was completely realized.
The mandate given to Yazid to lead the Muslim ummah, plan its future, and define its course of action meant, in reality, the liquidation of the Islamic existence. It was an actual regression from it shrouded in another attire.
Yazid, as history testifies, was overwhelmed by deviation in his thought, practices and feelings. Unbiased researchers would admit that Yazid could not find the chance to consciously open to Islam and its high objectives which models man as an individual and a member in a society in a way that keeps him totally away from the pillars of ignorance. It is the best model of man any ideology can produce.
When Yazid got rid of the atmosphere of good education furnished by Islam for its followers, it is no wonder that our history brims over with stories about Yazid's daily practices which were immersed in deviation, under the noses of the majority of the Muslims in Syria. He plunged himself into debauchery, loose entertainment, alcohol-drinking, womanizing and singing...He was so careless and morally loose that he used to put gold bangles on his dogs! 33
And so the ummah stood at the threshold of a new stage of its history. Ahead of it, there were two choices:
Either to develop a strong rejection of the type of life being imposed on it, whatever the price; or accept the de facto life, wherein it had to give up its Message, the source of its greatness and symbol of its pride among other nations.
Then, which choice did the ummah prefer?
Shortly after the death of Mu'awiyah, his son, Yazid, took over. He ordered his governors to take the pledge of allegiance to him from the people. He focused on Imam Hussein (a.s.), in particular, due to the Ummayyad conviction that he was the unshakable resisting force among the opposition. Once they subjugated him, all dams before them would collapse. The opposition, minus Imam Hussein (a.s.), would be easily subdued.
Instantly Yazid wrote to the governor of the city of Medina, al-Walid bin Utbah, to take the pledge of allegiance from the people, in general, and from Imam Hussein (a.s.), in particular. The governor wasted no time in carrying out the orders of his superior. He sent one of his retainers for Imam Hussein (a.s.) late in the night. Imam Hussein (a.s.) realized what the governor was up to. He got himself ready. Escorted by thirty men from his family and followers, he went to the house of the governor. He told them that if he called them they had to break into the house.
As soon as they were seated, the governor asked Imam Hussein (a.s.), to give his pledge of allegiance. Imam Hussein (a.s.) suggested the matter be delayed to a more suitable time. It would better if it was with the people of Medina. He said: "...The likes of me do not give their pledge of allegiance secretly. When you call the people to give their pledge, call us with them. So it will be one call." 38
Imam Hussein (a.s.) wanted the delay to prepare himself for the inevitable conflict. He would not like to raise the anger of the local authorities prematurely. But Marwan bin al-Hakam, who was also present, urged the governor to forcibly take the pledge of allegiance from Imam Hussein (a.s.). Should he refuse to yield, Marwan went on, the governor had to kill him. Otherwise, the matter would get out of al-Walid and his master's hands. But Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted decisively and determinedly. He was tough with Marwan and warned him. A violent skirmish between the two parties ensued. The companions of Imam Hussein (a.s.) broke into the house and returned him to his house. 39
That was the starting point of the rejection of the policy of treachery and oppression. Imam Hussein (a.s.) made up him mind to shoulder his responsibility, to challenge the oppressors, as he was the legitimate Imam of the ummah, and the righteous leader entrusted with the faith.
He went to the tomb of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his grandfather and offered prayer beside it. Then he raised his hands in prayer:
"O Allah! This is the grave of your Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. You know what I am going through. O Allah! I love good and detest evil. I beseech You, O! The Lord of glory and honor, and adjure You by this grave and its contents, to choose for me whatever pleases You and Your." 40
And so Imam Hussein (a.s.) made a covenant with Allah that he would defend the faith no matter how high the price was, as long as that would please Allah.
In the prayer he said beside the tomb of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Imam Hussein (a.s.) presents himself as a soldier, whose self was totally molted at the threshold of the faith. He could not separate his self from the faith. His life would only express itself through the faith.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) hastened to gather the members of his family and the loyal among his companions. He told them about his decision to move to Mecca, the sanctuary of Allah.
The objectors increased in number. They pressed him to change his course for fear of being killed. Still others called him to yield. They were helpless and thought he would kill himself in vain.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) was too determined to back down. He announced the first communique of his uprising in the form of a will he wrote to his brother, Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah:
"...and I am not taking up arms in order to make merry, or be ecstatic over what I possess. I am ready to fight for the sole goal of seeking reform of the ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather, and my father, Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.), were doing. Whoever justly accepts my call, Allah is the Source and Sustainer of justice, but whoever turns my offer down, I will opt for patience, till Allah judges between me and these people, and He is the best of judges." 41
His first official communique of his uprising pointed to the scope of deviation which had set in, when en joining good vanished and forbidding evil ceased. In the same manner, the statement covered the key goals and motives of the uprising in so few words.
The caravan of Imam Hussein (a.s.) marched towards Mecca. The name of Allah was on his tongue, and his heart was filled with love of Allah. Upon entering Mecca, he recited the glorious verse:
"And when he turned his face towards Madyan, he said: Maybe my Lord will guide me in the right path."
Holy Qur'an (28:22)
He stayed at the house of al-Abdul-Muttalib. Throngs of the faithful gathered to welcome him. 42
Imam Hussein (a.s.) monitored the reactions of the Muslims throughout the Islamic provinces towards the ascension of Yazid to the office of caliphate. Kufa, the capital of Iraq, was witnessing a revolutionary movement and a remarkable political shake-up. After long periods of terror and suppression the opposition forces stirred seeing it the golden chance to free themselves from the yoke of the tyrants. At the head of these revolutionaries were the followers of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). They held an emergency meeting to discuss the mounting tension in Kufa and the responsibility they should take vis-a-vis the change in the government, after Yazid bin Mu'awiyah had taken the affairs of the ummah into his own hands. Sulaiman bin Sird al-Khuza'i, at whose house the meeting was held, delivered a speech. He informed the gathering of Imam Hussein' s (a.s.) announcement of his opposition to Yazid and that he rejected him as a legitimate caliph. He told them that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was in Mecca, and since they were his followers and helpers they had to do something. If they were able to support and back him, sparing no effort in doing that, they had to inform him of their position. But were they unable to live up to their principles, it would be most incorrect to write to him and then fail him when the best comes to the worst.
The Shi'ites who were present at the meeting declared their full support to the Imam. They would defend him by any means available. "We fight his enemy, and kill ourselves defending him," 43 they vowed.
After reaching a consensus on this point, the leading men of Kufa wrote a letter in which they declared their total and final rejection of the Ummayyad rule and that they knew no substitute for Imam Hussein (a.s.). Then letters poured in from Kufa carrying the urgent call of the Kufans for Imam Hussein (a.s.) to join them, to take office as the caliphate and Imam of the Muslims. The wave of support for Imam Hussein (a.s.) was so massive that a list of the tribes waiting for his arrival, totalling 100,000 fighters, was prepared. 44
After studying these letters, Imam Hussein (a.s.) concluded that it was necessary to send an envoy to Kufa authorized to take the pledge of allegiance from the people of Iraq, on his behalf, and campaign for the sake of rallying the people around Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), represented at the time by Imam Hussein (a.s.).
Imam Hussein chose his cousin, Muslim bin Aqeel, for this mission. The man was known for his piety, courage, and high qualifications in thought and leadership. He would be able to steer the wave of enthusiasm for the interest of the faith.
With him, Imam Hussein (a.s.) dispatched a special letter to the people there, and particularly their chiefs. He explained the qualifications of his envoy, and the nature of his mission. He was to closely examine the situation and describe precisely what was going on there.
Following is the full text of the letter:
"In the Name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful...
From Hussein bin Ali,
To the leaders of the believers and the Muslims.
Hani and Sa'id have brought me your letters; they are the last two of your messengers who have come to me. I have understood everything which you have described and mentioned.
The essential statement of the majority of you is: 'We have no Imam. Therefore come; through you, may Allah unite us under truth and guidance'. I am sending you my brother, Muslim bin Aqeel, who is my cousin and trustworthy representative from my house. I ordered him to write to me about your conditions, affairs and views. If he writes to me that the opinion of your leaders and of the men of wisdom and merit among you is united in the same way as the messengers who have come to me have described, and as I have read in your letters, I will come to you at once, Allah willing. By my life, what is the Imam except one who professes the religion of truth, and one who dedicates himself to the essence of Allah, and Salam." 45
Kufa welcomed Muslim as any loyal and dutiful following would. The pledge of allegiance was taken for Imam Hussein (a.s.). Ibn Aqeel, by now, was convinced that the change was on behalf of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the Message of Allah, the Exalted. It was by no means something common and could not be ignored. It was a truth, tangible and subjective. They should quickly deal with the situation before something happens and spoils the situation.
And so Muslim, may Allah be pleased with him, saw it fit to dispatch an account to Imam Hussein (a.s.) about the direction of the de facto situation. In his account he called him to come to Kufa. He wrote:
"Certainly, the man sent by a caravan in a desert to explore the way ahead of it will never lie to those who had sent him. All the people of Kufa are with you. Eighteen thousand of them have given their pledge of allegiance to me. So make haste and come to us as soon as you read this letter of mine. And peace and the blessings of Allah be on you." 46
In the meantime, Imam Hussein (a.s.) thought it would be wise to contact the chiefs of Basra and discuss with them his decision to oppose deviation and in justice. He wrote to them. Yazid bin Mas'ood sent a letter in which people spoke volumes for the loyalty of the tribes of Tamim and Bani-Sa'd to AhlulBait (a.s.). Quite painfully and regrettably, his letter arrived too late.
Al-Nahshali's troops were late to arrive. The man was so shocked at the news of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) that he died. He had missed the opportunity to help the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).
The Ummayyads were extremely worried at the news of the success of Hussein (a.s.) in Mecca. He had won over nearly the whole city. Fearing the spread of the opposition movement, Yazid dispatched an army from Syria. He appointed Umar bin Sa'id bin al-Aas as its commander-in-chief and ordered him to kill Imam Hussein (a.s.) whenever he found him and at whatever price.
Imam Hussein (a.s.) had got the word that the Ummayyad army was on its way to Mecca. Given the Ummayyads disrespect of the Sacred House of Allah, he had decided to leave the city. It was impossible for him to allow the sacredness of the city to be violated because of him. In advance, he knew of his inevitable fate in Iraq. He expressed it in the speech be delivered in Mecca before he left. He said:
"Praise be to Allah. What Allah desires is certainly done. There is no power but in Allah. Blessings of Allah be on His Messenger. Death had been decreed on man, as the neckless encircles a girl's neck. How great is my desire to see my predecessors. It is as strong as Ya'qoob's (Jacob) desire to see (his son) Yusuf (Joseph).
"It is better for me to face my death. It is as if I am seeing now my members being torn to pieces by the wolves of the desert, in a place between Nawawees and Karbala. They will fill their empty stomachs and their hungry bellies. There is no escape from a day decreed by the divine pen ..." 51
Lots of people could see Imam Hussein (a.s.) leaving, for fear of being killed within the holy precincts of the Ka'ba. While he expressed his final decision to leave, he was assuring them that he would be killed. When Ibn Abbas pleaded with him to change his mind, he said:
"...By Allah, they will not leave me till they tear the very heart from the depths of my chest. When they do that, Allah will give power to someone over them who will humiliate them. They will be more humiliated than even a woman's menstrual cloth." 52
And to his brother Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah, he said:
"After you left me, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) came to me and said, 'O Hussein! Go out (to fight). Allah certainly willed to see you being killed." 53
And to Abdullah bin Umar, he said:
"... By Allah, even if I go into hiding in a hole of an insect, they will flush me out, till they do with me what they wanted. They would abuse me the way the Jews desecrated the sabbath." 54
Certain as he was of his own death, Imam Hussein (a.s.) marched on. But he was sure that the faith would be revived after his death and there was no defender of the faith next to him. It is because of these considerations that he went on to achieve the real, historical victory. Only with shedding his blood and sacrificing his soul would Islam be immortalized.
En route to Iraq he would ask the travellers he met about Iraq and the current situation there. The only reply was: "The people were with the Ummayyad, but their hearts were with him!"
He knew and understood that duplicity on the part of the people. Terror was ruling. Anyone there was being torn apart by two faces: His belief in the faith and the right of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) to steer the ship of Muslims' lives on the one hand, and fear from the Ummayyad authorities, the terrorism of the rulers, and the love of life and a comfortable, easy living on the other.
Imam Hussein's (a.s.) caravan set off on the eighth day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, (the day the pilgrims get ready to perform hajj), in the year of 60 A.H.
Many had questioned as to why he would leave without performing the hajj ceremonies. He replied:
"By Allah, should I be killed a span's distance away from Mecca, that would be more desirable for me than being killed in it. And should I be killed two spans' distance away from it, that would be more desirable for me than being killed a span's distance from it." 55
On his way, at a place called al-Sifah, Imam Hussein (a.s.) came across al-Farazdaq, a poet known for his love for Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). Imam Hussein (a-s.) asked him about the public opinion and the political conditions in Iraq. "The hearts of the people are with you, but their swords are against you. The decision comes from Heaven and Allah does what He wishes."
"You have spoken truly of the affair belonging to Allah," replied Imam Hussein (a.s.). "Every moment He is in a state of glory. If fate sends down what we like, we praise Allah for His blessings. He is the One from Whom help should be sought. However although fate may frustrate our hopes, yet, It does not destroy the souls of those whose intention is the truth, and whose hearts are pious." 56
The Ummayyad authorities in Kufa were confused. Measures were taken to prevent Imam Hussein (a.s.) from going on with his uprising. The governor of Kufa and chief administrator, Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, ordered the way to Kufa blocked and the traffic into and out of the city closed so that no one could contact Imam Hussein (a.s.) or find the chance to join him. He sent the head of his police, al-Husayn bin Numair al-Tamimi, to carry out his orders. Al-Husayn encamped at al-Qadisiyyah and deployed his troops on the main road to Kufa. The troops were widely positioned in an area extending from al-Qadisyyah to Khaffan, and from al-Qadisiyyah to Qatanah and the mountain of La'la'.
The plan to prevent people from entering and leaving Kufa was a successful for the most part. Only a handful of brave ones managed to reach Imam Hussein (a.s.) during his journey. The messengers whom Imam Hussein (a.s.) had sent to Kufa had all been captured and martyred. Even the deaths of Muslim and Hani were not known to him until these few men had managed to escape from Kufa and inform him.
At a place called Zubalah he heard of the martydom of both Muslim bin Aqeel and Hani bin Urwah. He gathered his companions and the members of his family and disclosed to them the news of the Kufans' failing of him.
"Our Shi'ah have deserted us," he told them. "Those of you who prefer to leave us, may do so freely and without guilt."
Some people had joined Imam Hussein (a.s.) in Mecca feeling sure that with the support of the Kufans he would be victorious and become the new caliph. When they heard this news they dispersed from him right and left until there were only left with him those close companions and his family members including the women. 57
Deep inside Iraq, Imam Hussein (a.s.) came face to face with a great army led by al-Hurr bin Yazid al-Riyahi. He chose a good, fortified place and encamped there. The Ummayyad commander encamped, in a military broad line, in front of the camp of Imam Hussein (a.s.). Imam Hussein's (a.s.) army Wag, by then, facing the hostile army, but they were protected, from the rear, by the mountain of Dhi-Hasm. Obviously the enemies could not lay siege to them or surround them.
Tension was already mounting between the two camps facing each other. When it was midday, and the time for midday prayer entered, Imam Hussein (a.s.) ordered one of his companions to recite the call to prayer. He began to address the two sides. He conveyed to them his viewpoints concerning the general situation in the Islamic homeland. He explained to his enemies the motives behind his move, and asked them to honor their promises and the covenants they had made with him, and the pledge of allegiance they had given him. They only listened and said nothing.
Having finished his speech, Imam Hussein (a.s.) led both sides in prayer. All of them offered their prayer behind him.
Once again, after the afternoon prayer, Imam Hussein (a.s.) delivered another speech. In front of them, he emptied two bags full of letters sent by the Kufans to him, calling him to come to Kufa and giving their pledge of allegiance to him. Hurr replied that he and his men were not the writers of those letters. When Imam Hussein (a.s.) had addressed them he told that if they did not like him he was prepared to turn back toward Hijaz, al-Hurr bin Yazid al-Riyahi said:
"We are commissioned to follow you until we take you to Ibn Ziyad."
Imam Hussein (a.s.) replied:
"You will find your death easier than that."
Imam Hussein (a.s.) and his followers left the place with Hurr travelling parallel but at a distance. When Imam Hussein (a.s.) attempted to return to Medina, Hurr blocked his path.
Hurr then said:
"I have not been ordered to fight with you. I have to follow you until you reach Kufa. If you do not want to go to Kufa then I suggest to you to go towards a station which is neither Kufa nor Medina."
Imam Hussein (a.s.) considered this a fair proposal and turned his caravan to the left of the road which ran between Qadsiyyah and Azib.
Hurr marched along parallel to Imam Hussein (a.s.) While marching, the two spoke. Hurr said:
"I appeal to you in the name of Allah to avoid battle because you are bound to be killed."
Imam Hussein (a.s.) retorted:
"Do you think you can frighten m
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