The Captives in Damascus
Tied up with ropes, forced to ride saddleless, lean camels, and being in the utmost state of humiliation, the harem and children of the prophet's family were taken to Syria. Throughout their journey, they did not say a single word and did not ask anything from the drivers of their caravan. Being close to Syria, the caravan stopped so that enough time would be given to adorn the city with manifestations of festivity and to gather people to witness this false victory of their ruler.
The caravan was about four parasangs1 away from Syria when its people recieved them with joy, carrying drums and trumpets, and wearing their best dresses -all this was for showing their delight for the massacre of the Prophet's family.
Let us listen to the scene as described by and eyewitness:
Sahl ibn Sa'd al-Sa'idi narrated:
Intending to visit Jerusalem, I passed by Damascus, but it was different -the city was exaggeratedly adorned with colorful gilding, its people were highly joyful, and their women were playing tambourines and drums. I thought that people of Damascus had a festivity that we did not have. Noticing some people talking secretly, I approached them and asked, "Do you people of Syria, celebrate a festivity that we do not know?"
"It seems that you are strange, are you not?" asked they.
"Yes, it is. I, Sahl ibn Sa'd, am one of those who met the Messenger of Allah," answered I.
They said, "Sahl, do you not think that it is very strange that the heavens are not raining blood and the earth is not sinking with its inhabitants?"
"What for is that?" asked I.
"All these are expecting the arrival of al-Husayn's (cut off) head from Kufa," they revealed.
"How strange this is! The head of al-Husayn is being forwarded while people are crowding cheeringly! From which gate will the head enter the city?" asked I.
As they pointed at the Gate of al-Sa't, I hurried there. Aqueue of banners began to enter, but my eyes fell on a horseman who had in the hand a banner without a spearhead on which lied a head most similar to that of tha Holy Prophet. That was the head of al-Husayn! On saddleless, lean camels, the captives appeared. As I reached one of the captives ladies, I asked about her identity.
"I am Sukaynah daughter of al-Husayn," she replied.
"And I am Sahl, the companion of your grandfather the Messenger of Allah, ask for anything and I will do it for you," I offered.
Grievously, she asked, "Ask the bearer of al-Husayn's head to precede us for a considerable distance so that people will look at head and ignore looking at us -the family of the Messennger of Allah."
So, I ran towards that horseman, bribed him with four hundred dirhams, and asked him to hurry forwardly away from the captive ladies, and he did.
In that situation too, an old Syrina man leaning on a stick who was gloating at the humility of those captives approached Imam 'Ali Zayn al-'Abidin (a) and said wreakfully, "Praise be to Allah who eradicated you and empowered the emir to triumph over you."
Out of his keenness and perspicacity, the Imam noticed that the old man was deceived by the wrong rumors that the ruling authorities spread against the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He therefore asked, "Old man, have you recited the Holy Qur'an?"
This statement shocked the old man who wondered and, thus, answered affirmatively.
The Imam(a) then asked him whether he had seen the following Quranic Verses: "Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. (16:26)" "And know that whatever thing you gain, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near relatives. (8:41)"
Amazingly, the old man answered that he had recited these Verse.
The Imam (a) thus declared, "Only is it we who are intended in Allah's remark 'the near relatives' in these Verses."
Furthermore, the Imam (a) asked the old man whether he had recited Allah's saying:
"Allah only desires to keep away the unclianness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying. (33:33)"
With astonishment, the old man answered that he had recited this Verse, too.
The Imam (a) hence said, "Only is it we who are the 'People of the House' whom Almighty Allah has purified thoroughly."
This fact changed the old man completely and made him feel sorry for the days on which he could not descern the reality of the Umayyad rulers and their authorities. Even his tongue was tied up by the new fact; he therefore said to the Imam falteringly, "Please, tell me by Allah! Is it you truly those ones?"
"Yes, it is, I swear it by our grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s)," replied the Imam (a) confidently.
Feeling sorry for the words that he first showered at the Imam (a), the old man threw himself on the hands of the Imam (a) to kiss them heavily as signs of remorse, declaring, "I disavow those who killed you."
1- Parasang is a unit of length, usually reckoned as equal to between 3 and 3,5 miles -5 to 5,5 km.
Adopted from the book : "Lady Zaynab" by : "Ansariyan Publications"
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