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Departure of Imam Husain (A.S.) from Madinah

The month was that of Rajab; exactly four months remained for Hajj. During the time of Hajj, people from every corner of the country would come for pilgrimage to Maccah. He could then easily convey his message to the people, Hussain (a.s.) knew that if he were to start his qiyam and struggle from Maccah, all the world of Islam would become aware of his objectives and then it would not be so easy for the regime to deceive the people about him and his aims. Speaking in Maccah about political problems, especially if the issues involved opposition to the government, meant speaking to the whole world of Islam. Under these conditions, the most effective and best means of communication with the world of Islam was to deliver speeches and sermons in Maccah before the enormous gathering of pilgrims, which was alone sufficient to gather the attention of the whole world of Islam.
The next thing to be decided was whether he should go alone or take his family with him. For the time being he decided to take his family with him for the first part of the journey. i.e., from Madina to Maccah. It was obvious that his journey would not remain a secret for very long. The people would inquire and soon come to know about the reasons of his sudden departure. They would soon find out about his disagreement with the governor and their meeting. How would the regime react? to the publication of this matter? He considered it necessary that some of his near relatives should remain behind him in Madina and keep him informed about what passed in the city during his absence. For this reason, he set forth his decision to his immediate family, who assembled in his house and spoke to them in these words, "I have no alternative but to leave Madina. For the time being, I am travelling to Maccah. This journey is such that I cannot leave you behind in Madina and I am setting out towards an uncertain goal. Thank God, we have our own house in Maccah and the days of pilgrimage are near also. We shall leave at our earliest and you prepare to move as soon as you can?"

For this reason, he decided to travel to Maccah. No other Islamic city had this characteristic that was special to Maccah. Apart from being the location of God’s Holy House, it had inestimable position of honor and dignity in the eyes of Muslims, which forbade bloodshed and strife in its holy precincts. No other city had similar characteristics.

Hussain (a.s.) determined to leave Madina for Maccah at the earliest opportunity before the governor and related officials had any knowledge of his intentions of departure.

This decision was announced before the members of his family and was a secret matter. However, the other people belonging to the tribe of Bani Hashim soon came to know about the matter and came to visit Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.). After coming to know about the reasons of this sudden journey, they expressed their views in favor and in opposition to Hussain’s (a.s.) decision.

There were two persons among the visitors with whom Hussain (a.s.) had a lengthy conversation and upon whose lives his decision had a direct impact. The first of them was Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah, the eldest of his brothers who, after conferring with Hussain (a.s.) wanted to accompany him on this fateful journey. Hussain (a.s.), however, told him to stay and send him the reports of everyday events that passed in Madina during his absence. He told him that the only person who was capable of fulfilling this sensitive and dangerous responsibility of reporting about the reaction of the regime in Madina and the opinion of the masses there, as an aware and well-informed observer, was Muhammad ibn Hanifiyyah. Therefore he had to stay behind and carry out this duty assigned to him.
The second person was Zainab-e-Kubra (s.a.) his eldest sister, the wife of Abdullah ibn Ja’far. When she saw that Hussain’s (a.s.) decision was final and that nobody could make him turn away from it. she was deeply moved, With, grief choking her, voice and tears in her eyes, she spoke to him in these words: ‘Dear brother! After grandfather (the Prophet (s.a.w.)), father my mother and brother Hasan (a.s.), only you remain to console my heart and of all of them it is only you who are left. I cannot bear your separation. How can I stay here with unbearable worry and anxiety about what may happen? Is it not possible that I might be of some service to you if I come along?"

Hussain (a.s.) replied: "No sister. You are a woman with a house, husband and children to take care of. Your husband is an illustrious man. I am not the one to decide about your affairs. It is Abdullah ibn Ja’far who can give you the permission. As to myself, I have no alternative but to leave."
Abdullah ibn Ja’far (who was himself suffering from sickness at that time) agreed to Zainab’s accompanying her brother on the journey. Not only this, he sent two of his sons to accompany her.
Less than thirty hours after his meeting with the governor, Hussain (a.s.) was prepared to leave. As he was making his preparations, he was brought the news that the governor had summoned all other persons who had opposed Yazid’s allegiance and conferred with them. One of the opponents of the regime, Abdullah ibn Zubair had secretly left for Maccah the night before. He was pursued by the government’s men who could not trace him since he had not used the usual road to Maccah.
Not more than a few hours were left for his departure when for the last time he visited the tombs of his grandfather, the Prophet (s.a.w.), his mother, Fatimah (s.a.) and his brother. As he returned, he met Marwan on the way who told him: "I want to give you some advice. I think it is best for your worldly life as well as your Hereafter that you accept to give allegiance to Yazid. Do not put yourself and your relatives into trouble." "Inna Llillahe wa Inna Ilaihe Raje’oon" came Hussain’s (a.s.) reply, "And bid farewell to Islam?"

If Marwan did not understand Hussain’s (a.s.) words, others understood afterwards. Obviously Hussain (a.s.) wanted to say, "If I agree to support Yazid’s corrupt government, then Islam will be wiped out without any trace. Opposition to Yazid may prove to be costly, but anyhow we would have saved our Hereafter. Indeed everything comes from God and returns unto Him."

Two days remaining until the end of the month of Rajab, on the night of Sunday, Hussain (a.s.) left Madina for Maccah. As he left, this verse of Qur’an was on his lips, a verse which relates the story of Moses as he fled from Pharaoh’s Egypt: So as he departed therefrom, fearful and vigilant; he said, "My Lord, deliver me from the evildoers."

The night passed, and, as the travelers drew away from Madina, the sun came up. One of the relatives came to Hussain (a.s.) and suggested that the caravan leave the highway for the danger of being stopped by pursuers: "It is possible that they might pursue us like Abdullah ibn Zubair and catch up with us and cause us trouble." Apparently the suggestion was a good one. But Hussain (a.s.), in view of the open and sublime nature of his objectives replied, "I will never deviate from the right way. And you too, friend of Hussain, always choose the right road and move straight. God will be your protector. There is no danger of losing the way as long as you chose to travel on the right and straight highway!"

The caravan completed its five day journey from Madina to Maccah and entered the city on the 3rd of Sha’ban of the year 60 Hijrah. As he entered the city, Hussain (a.s.) hopefully murmured this verse of the Qur’an - the words uttered by Moses as he entered Midian fleeing Pharaoh’s men: And when he turned his face towards Midian he said, "It may be that my Lord will guide me on the right way" (21, XXVIII; Qur’an)

The news of his coming soon spread through the city and all men who held any significant social position hurried to see him. The governor of Maccah, other city officials and similarly many important personalities of the city came to pay a visit.

Soon, the busy hours of visitors rushing to see Hussain (a.s.) came to pass and the days took a normal and relaxed aspect. It was during this time that most of the visitors wanted to find out Hussain’s (a.s.) views about Khalifah and the general political conditions of the time.

It did not take much time for the people to know that Hussain’s (a.s.) movement from Madina was a gesture of opposition to the regime and a protest against the orders sent from the Syrian court to the governor of Madina. Very soon this news spread to all parts of the country; it reached the capital in Syria and other provinces.

Yazid become aware that Hussain (a.s.) had made the determination to oppose his government, even as he had refused before to give allegiance to this nomination as crown prince. He discussed the matter with his courtiers and asked them for advice. They held the opinion that it seemed inadvisable to take any hasty step. They advised that it was better to wait and discover the dimensions that Hussains’s (a.s.) opposition might take. It seemed possible that he would settle down in Maccah and maintain his silence as before. They suggested that any attempts at his persecution would only help to aggravate the prevailing situation. They reminded him about Mu’awiyah’s advice that if Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.) continued his silence, it was sufficient for Yazid and that his persecution was inadvisable under any condition.