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History

On the Way to Karbala

During the early phase of the journey the caravan met Al-Farazdaq (a famous poet) at a place called al-Sifah. Al-Farazdaq advised the Imam not to go to Kufa because though people's hearts were with him (Imam), their swords would be against him. But the Imam continued with the journey, and he received the first letter from his emissary Muslim Ibn Aqeel with good news. The letter indicated that the people were more than ready to welcome the Imam in Kufa and were looking forward to his leadership. Imam Husain decided to send another emissary to Kufa with a message. The caravan kept proceeding toward Kufa. Many days passed but the Imam did not receive any more responses from Muslim Ibn Aqeel.

In Kufa Muslim Bin Aqeel with the help of Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi and Hani Ibn Urwah continued to hold secret meetings with the supporters of the Imam. Within a short time the gatherings started to gain momentum. Yazid through his spies and informants learned about Muslim's successes in Kufa. He appointed the tyrant Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad to replace al-Nu'man Ibn al-Basheer as Governor of Kufa.

Meanwhile, as Al-Husain's caravan got closer to its destination (Kufa), coming to a place called Zubalah, Imam Husain unexpectedly received shocking news. The shocking news was about Muslim Ibn Aqeel and the person who provided him shelter, Hani's Ibn Urwah, both of whom were arrested and beheaded by the Governor Ibn Ziyad. Mukhtar was also arrested and imprisoned and tortured by Ibn Ziyad.

Imam Husain gathered his companions and disclosed to them about the bad news, and said, "Our Shi'a have deserted us, those of you who prefer to leave us may do so freely and without guilt." Becoming scared, some companions left the caravan. Imam Husain continued with the journey along with close companions and family members until he was face to face with 1,000 horsemen led by Hur al-Riyahi representing the enemy. The enemy army blocked the camps of Imam Husain (a.s.) from advancing. Tension started to rise between the two. The Imam addressed the enemy explaining to them his motives for going to Kufa, that it was in response to the invitation of the people. He even showed them a bagful of letters he received from Kufa. Hur said that he and his men were not the writers of those letters. Imam told them that if they did not like him to advance with the journey, he was prepared to return to Hijaz. Hur replied, "We are commissioned to follow you until we take you to Governor Ibn Ziyad, and suggested to the Imam to go towards a station which is neither Kufa nor Medina." Imam Husain found the proposal fair and turned the caravan away from Kufa.

Hur and his army marched parallel to the Imam. The two sides reached a village called Nainawa where Ibn Ziyad's messenger (Yazid's governor over Kufa) delivered a message to Hur. The message read, " ...force Husain to a halt. But let him stop in an open space, without vegetation or water." Hur conveyed the contents of the letter to Imam Husain. The Imam, his family and companions defiantly resumed their journey and reached a place where another enemy force blocked their move and forced them to stop. When Imam Husain learned that the place was called Karbala, he felt he reached the destination and ordered his camp to be setup. That day was 2nd of Muharram, Hijri 61.

Adapted from the book: "Karbala; Chain of Events" by: "Ramazan Sabir"