“O people! Listen to my speech and do not rush till I admonish you with that which I owe you, and so that I tell you why I have come here; so, if you accept my excuse and believe my statement and fare with me with equity, you will be much happier, and you will see no reason to expose me to this.
But if you do not accept my reason and do not fare with me with equity, then gather your affair and your accomplices, and do not feel sorry for what you do but effect your judgment in my regard and do not grant me any respite; surely my Lord is Allah Who revealed the Book and He looks after the righteous”.
When the women heard his statement, they cried and wailed, and their voices grew loud, whereupon he sent them his brother, al-’Abbas, and his son, ‘Ali al-Akbar, to ask them to remain quiet and not to cry.
Once the ladies were quiet, al-Husayn (‘a) praised Allah again and glorified him, blessed Muhammad and all angels and prophets, delivering a speech that no orator before or after him was more outspoken9. Then he said,
“O servants of Allah! Fear Allah and be on your guard with regard to this life which, had it remained for anyone at all, the prophets would have been the most worthy of it and the most pleased with fate. But Allah created this life so that it would perish.
What is new in it will soon grow old. Its pleasure diminishes and its happiness is fleeting. A man's home is but a mound, and one's house is a fort; so, get ready for the next, for the best with which you prepare yourselves is piety. Fear Allah so that you may be the winners10.
O people! Allah, the most Exalted One, created life and made it a temporary abode, taking its people from one condition to another.
Conceited is whoever gets fascinated by it, and miserable is whoever gets infatuated by it. So, do not let this life deceive you, for it shall disappoint whoever trusts and desires it! I can see that you have all set your minds on doing something because of which you have caused Allah to curse you and to turn His Glorious Countenance away from you, causing you to be the object of His Wrath Kind is our Lord, and mean servants of His are you!
You declared obedience to and belief in Muhammad the Messenger (S), then you put your ranks together to kill his Progeny and offspring! Satan took full control of you, making you forget the remembrance of Allah, the Great.
Perdition, hence, is your lot and ultimate end! We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return. These are people who have turned apostates after having believed, so away with the oppressive people11.
O people! Identify me and find out who I am! Then go back to your evil selves and blame them, then see whether it is lawful for you to violate my sanctity. Am I not the son of your Prophet's daughter, the son of his wasi and cousin, the foremost to believe, the one who testified to the truth of what he had brought from his Lord?
Is not Hamzah, the Master of Martyrs, my uncle? Is not Ja’far at-Tayyar my uncle? Have you not heard that the Messenger of Allah had said about me and about my brother: “These are the masters of the youths of Paradise”?
So if you believe what I say, which is the truth, let me swear by Allah that I never deliberately told a lie since I came to know that Allah hates lying and liars, and that lying is detrimental to those who invent it.
But if you disbelieve in me, there are among you those who, if you ask them, can inform you of the same.
Ask Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari, Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, Sahl Ibn Sa’id al-Sa’idi, Zayd Ibn Arqam, and Anas Ibn Malik, and they will tell you that they have heard these ahadith of the Messenger of Allah with regard to myself and to my brother. Is this not sufficient to curb you from shedding my blood?!”
Al-Shimr then said, “He worships Allah by a letter, had he known what he is saying!” Habib Ibn Muzahir said to him, “By Allah! I see you worshipping Allah on seventy letters, and I testify that you are truthful when you say that you do not know what he is saying! Allah has surely sealed your heart!”
Al-Husayn (‘a) then said, “If you doubt what I have said, do you doubt that I am the son of your Prophet's daughter?! By Allah, there is no son of a Prophet from the east of the earth and the west besides myself, be it among you or among others. Woe unto you! Are you seeking revenge on me for killing one of you? Or is it on account of your wealth which I devoured? Or are you seeking qisas?”
None of them spoke a word to the Imam (‘a), so he called out, “O Shabth Ibn Rab’i! O Hijr Ibn Abjar!
O Qays Ibn al-Ash’ath! O Zayd Ibn al-Harith! Did you not write me saying, ‘Come, for the fruits are ripe, the pastures are green, and you will come to troops ready for your command'?”
They said, “We did not do so.”
The Imam (‘a) said, “Subhan-Allah! [Glorified is Allah]. Yes, by Allah, you did exactly so!”
Then he said, “O people! If you hate me, let me go away from your sight to a safe place on earth” Qays Ibn al-Ash’ath said to him, “Are you not going first to accept the authority of your cousins? They surely will not deal with you except most amicably, and they will not harm you in the least.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) said to him, “Are you the brother of your brother?! Do you want Banu Hashim to demand that you pay for the blood of someone else besides that of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil? No, by Allah! I shall not give them as the subservient ones give, nor shall I flee from them as slaves flee!12
O servants of Allah! I have sought refuge with Allah, your Lord and mine, against your stoning me, and I seek refuge with my Lord and yours against any arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning.”
The Imam (‘a) alighted from his she-camel, asking ‘Uqbah Ibn Sam’an to tie it for him.13
The voice of Allah stood to speak and to admonish
But they turned deaf against his lights' sanctity
And they did become blind.
Said he: Identify me now then behold:
Is it permissible for you to shed my blood?
But they found none but arrows at his neck shot
For their answer, and deeds are always weighed.
As soon as the Prophet's grandson realized
That his grandfather's creed was no more
And no more among the people remained a Muslim on earth
He sacrificed himself in supporting the creed
Riding perils so the Muslims would be saved.
Said he: Take me, O fates, take me!
Here I am, O swords, take me!
My limbs for you now are booty
Far it is from me to yield to what is wrong
Even if on the very lances is my seat.
So he charged and the world shrunk,
And fate was effected, and a torrent
Filled the valley of apostasy.
Since he to Allah prostrated to glorify,
Magnified Allah between the swords and did sanctify,
Al-Shimr came to him to lift his head
With the sword he struck him so
Allah's ‘Arsh shook and His light was dimmed,
The face of earth shone, the cosmos dim,
And when the pillar of the universe leaned
And almost with everything overturned,
And when he fell to the ground it remained still
And turned greater even than the heavens,
So my heart burns for him when he was left alone
Surrounded by his foes' throngs.
They increased in ignorance as he in clemency increased.
My heart burns how he, thirsty, his last breathed,
Even as the Euphrates near him flowed
Free for all, but from him banned.
My heart burns for him how his corpse was lying
On the sands as the steeds his ribs kept smashing,
Grinding, stampeding, trampling...
And my heart goes for you, O son of Muhammad!
Your body is grabbed by their swords and arrows,
And your belongings became among them a booty,
So my heart burns for the pure one how he
A stoning post for them came to be...14
9. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 242.
10. al-Husari, Zahr al-Adab, Vol. 1, p. 62 (Dar al-Kutub al-’Arabiyya: 1372 A.H./1952 A.D.).
11. Muhammad Ibn Abu Talib al-Ha’iri, Maqtal al-Husayn.
12. On p. 164 of his book Jamharat Ansab al-’Arab, Ibn Hazm says, “Followers of al-Harith Ibn Rashid, a descendant of ‘Abd al-Bayt Ibn al-Harith, reneged from Islam during ‘Ali 's caliphate, so he (‘a) fought them, killing them and taking their women and children captive. Misqalah [Ibn Habirah] al-Shaybani paid their ransom and set them free, then he fled to Mu’awiyah. ‘Ali (‘a), nevertheless, went ahead and approved their being set free.”
13. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 243.
14. Excerpted from a poem by the authority Shaikh Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghiťa’ quoted in its entirety in my book Qamar Bani Hashim.