The Funeral and Remembrance Rites of the Family of Husayn (a.s.) in Damascus
The hails of the palace of al-Khadra' in Syria witnessed the second occasion for the family's rites of remembrance. It would have been appropriate if Syria had witnessed general spontaneous rites of remembrance as occurred in Kufa when the party of prisoners arrived there. However, we only consider what took place in Syria to have been private family rites of remembrance. As we see it, there were no general rites of remembrance in Syria because of the difference in the relationship with the Holy Family between the Kufans and the Syrians. The Kufans had lived side by side with Imam 'Ali and his sons for several years during the period when Imam 'Ali was the caliph in Kufa which was the capital of the state during his period in office. Later the leaders of Kufa had sent to Imam al-Husayn asking him to come and promising to give him support.
On the other hand, the Syrians had no direct contact with the Holy Family. Perhaps, they were not aware of their existence as a result of the policy of isolation which Mu'awiya had imposed on them so that they should not be influenced by the culture of the Iraqis or anyone else in this matter. 4 It seems that, at that time, the coming of the prisoners did not arouse any sadness in the hearts of the Syrian people, nor did the Syrians show any concern. Some of the sources, even, say that the occasion was made into a festival in Damascus, perhaps under the slogan that some of the enemies of the state from the Kharijites had been killed.
Yet even though the coming of the column of prisoners and the heads to Syria did not arouse any rites of remembrance to fill the streets and public squares as had happened in Kufa, great rites of remembrance were held in the halls of the palaces of the caliphate in Damascus which were made up of women from the family of 'Ali and women of the Umayyad family.
4. Among the evidence for this at a slightly later period than this is the fact that 'Abd al Malik ibn Marwan stopped the Syrains from making pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca when Abd Allah ibn al Zubayr took control of Hijaz and named himself Caliph. 'Abd al Malik ordered his brother, who was governer of Egypt to stop the people from going to Mecca for pilgrimage (hajj), to perform the ceremonies of Arafa in Egypt and make the solemn wait (wuquf) at Arafa with them in Egypt in the Day of Arafa. Abd al Malik also built the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque for the people so that he could keep them away from the pilgrimage (hajj) and the lesser pilgrimage (umra) to Mecca. They began to circumambulate the Dome of the Rock in the same way as the circumambulated the Kaba and to sacrifice their sacrificial animal on the day of sacrifice. Cf. Ibn Taghri Birdi, al Nujum al Zahira, I, 188. There is no doubt that Abd al Malik intended by that to isolate the Syrians and the Egyptians from being exposed to the Shi'ites so that he could keep them away from any outsider who might effect their allegiance to the Umayyad State. Abd al Malik by that action was carrying out an old policy of the state as represented by Muawiya's last advice to his son, Yazid, that he should bring the Syrians back to their land whenever he had to send them on an expedition, so that they would not be changed by other people's behaviour.
Adapted from the book: "The Revolution of al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din"
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