Rafed English

The First Campaign

Adapted from: "Maqtal al-Husayn; Martyrdom Epic of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram"

‘Umar Ibn Sa’d advanced towards al-Husayn's troops and shot an arrow saying, “Testify for me with the governor that I shot the first arrow.” Others followed suit.1 Hardly any of al-Husayn's men escaped being shot at by an arrow.2

The Imam (‘a) said to his companions, “Stand, may Allah be Merciful unto you, and meet the imminent death, for these arrows are messengers of these people to you.” He and his companions charged together3 and fought for a while. By the time the cloud of dust dissipated, fifty men had been killed.4
 
It oppressed even as the desert crushed its valiant ones
And the face of the morning its battle curiously examines.
Their faces were with the battle elated.
How many faces of valiant men then turned grim?
Pleased they are when the lances come to them
And music it is to their ears to hear swords' clamour.
Dignified, they are, yielding in hardship to none,
Nor do they fear any calamity,
Only to glory their souls yearn
Only glory do their souls earn,
So if glory in a star does reside,
They would have gone to that side,
And the men of honour always seek
What is honourable and what glorifies.
So their swords on the battle day drip of blood,
And their hands are with glory always dyed.
Their flesh is always with the swords' brink,
And from its blood do the spears always drink,
Till they, like stars, to the ground did fall,
Though after them I wish no star remains at all.
They fell, so say that the brightest stars are no more
They fell, so say the mountains were crushed to the core.5
Yasar, Ziyad's slave, and Salim, a slave of ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad, came out and challenged anyone to fight them in a duel. Habib and Burayr leaped to meet their challenge, but al-Husayn (‘a) did not permit them. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Omayr al-Kalbi, of Banu ‘Alim, who was known as “Abu Wahab,” a tall and masculine man with broad shoulders, a man who was held with very high esteem among his people, and a man of courage and martial experience, stood up.

Al-Husayn (‘a) permitted him saying, “I believe he is a match for both of them.” “Who are you?” the challengers inquired. He identified himself to them, but they could not recognize him. One of them said, “We do not know you; let either Zuhayr or Habib or Burayr come out.” Yasar stood nearby.
The latter said to him, “You son of the adulteress! Do you not wish to fight me?!” then charged at him and engaged him in a sword duel.

Meanwhile, Salim attacked him, so his companions warned him saying, “The slave is now charging at you!” But he did not pay attention to him, so Salim hit him with his sword.

‘Abdullah tried to protect himself from it with his left hand, getting his fingers cut off in the attempt. Then ‘Abdullah swiftly turned to him with his own sword, killing him instantly. Having killed both men, he went back to al-Husayn (‘a) reciting rajaz (martial) poetry.
 
Having seen how her husband so valiantly fought, Umm Wahab daughter of ‘Abdullah, who belonged to al-Nimr Ibn Qasit, took a rod and came to him saying, “May both my parents be sacrificed for you! Do defend the good ones, the offspring of Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny!”

He wanted to take her back to the tent, but she kept persisting, holding to his clothes and saying, “I shall not leave you till I die with you!” Al-Husayn (‘a) called out to her saying, “May you be well rewarded on behalf of your Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)! Go back to the tent! Women are not required to fight!” She did.6

Notes:

1. al-Maqrizi, Khutat, Vol. 2, p. 287.

2. ’Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 84.

3. Ibn Nama, Al-Luhuf, p. 56.

4. al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, where Muhammad Ibn Abu Talib is quoted.

5. Excerpted from a poem by the authority Shaikh Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghiťa’, may Allah sanctify his soul. It is published in my book Qamar Bani Hashim.

6. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 245. Ibn al-Athir, Vol. 4, p. 37.

 

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