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The Most Sacred Head

Yazid ordered al-Husayn's head to be brought to him. He put it in a gold washbowl.23 The women were behind him. Sukayna and Fatima stood and tried anxiously to steal a look at it as Yazid kept hiding it from them. When they did see it, they burst in tears.24 He then permitted people to enter to see him.25 Yazid took a rod and kept hitting al-Husayn's lips with it26 saying, “A day for a day: this day is [in revenge] for Badr”.27 Then he cited these verses by al-Hasin Ibn al-Hamam:28
 
Our folks refused to be to us fair
So swords dripping with blood were to them fair;
We were splitting heads of men held by us as dear
But they to unkindness and injustice were more near.

Yahya Ibn al-Hakam Ibn Abul-’As, brother of Marwan Ibn al-Hakam, who was sitting near him, recited these verses:
 
A head at the Taff is closer in kinship
Than Ibn Ziyad, slave of a mean and lowly descent;
Sumayya's offspring count as many as the stones
But the Progeny of the Chosen One now have no offspring.

Having heard and understood them, Yazid hit him [with the iron rod still in his hand] on his chest saying, “Shut your mouth, motherless man!”29
 
Abu Barzah al-Aslami said, “I bear witness that I saw the Prophet (S) kissing his lips and those of his brother al-Hasan (‘a) and say to them: ‘You are the Masters of the Youths of Paradise; may Allah fight whoever fights you; may He curse him and prepare hell for him, and what an evil refuge it is!'”

Yazid became angry and ordered him to be dragged out of his court.30
 
A [Christian] messenger sent by Caesar was present there; he said to Yazid, “We have in some islands the hoof of the donkey upon which Jesus rode, and we make a pilgrimage to it every year from all lands and offer nathr to it and hold it in as much regard as you hold your sacred books; so, I bear witness that you are wrongdoers.”31

This statement enraged Yazid who ordered him to be killed. The messenger stood up, walked to the head, kissed it and pronounced the kalima. At the moment when that messenger's head was cut off, everyone heard a loud and fluent voice saying: La hawla wala quwwata illa billah! (There is neither power nor might except in Allah).32
 
The head was taken out of the court and hung for three days on the mansion's gate.33 When Hind daughter of ‘Amr Ibn Suhayl, Yazid's wife, saw the head on her house's door34 with divine light emanating from it, its blood still fresh and had not yet dried, and it was emitting a sweet fragrance,35 she entered Yazid's court without a veil crying, “The head of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S) is on our door!”

Yazid stood up, covered her and said, “Mourn him, O Hind, for he is the reason why Banu Hashim are grieving. [‘Ubaydullah] Ibn Ziyad hastily killed him.”36
 
Yazid ordered the heads to be hung on the land's gates and on the Umayyad Mosque, and his order was carried out.37

Marwan [Ibn al-Hakam] was very happy about al-Husayn (‘a) being killed, so he composed this poetry:
 
Dawser hit them with such a blow
That firmed authority's foundations,
So authority now is stable.

Then he kept hitting al-Husayn's face with a rod as he was repeating these poetry lines:
 
How I wish your garment were on your arms
And redness were on your cheeks,
Looking like pieces of gold twain,
How happy I am today having killed Husayn!

Notes:

23. al-Yafi’i, Mir’at al-Jinan, Vol. 1, p. 135.

24. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 35. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Mujma’ al-Zawa’id, Vol. 9, p. 195. Ibn al-Sabbagh, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 205.

25. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 35.

26. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 267. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 35. Tathkirat al-Khawass of Ibn al-Jawzi, the grandson, p. 148. Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, p. 116. Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali, Fiqh al-Hanabilah, Vol. 3, p. 549. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami al-’Asqalani, Mujma’ al-Zawa’id, Vol. 9, p. 195. Ibn al-Sabbagh, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 205. al-Maqrizi, Khutat, Vol. 3, p. 289. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, Vol. 8, p. 192. al-Sharishi, Sharh Maqamat al-Hariri, Vol. 1, p. 193, at the end of the 10th maqam. Muhammad Abul-Fadl and ‘Ali Muhammad al-Bijawi, Ayyam al-’Arab fil Islam, p. 435. Ibn Shahr Ashub, Al-Manaqib, Vol. 2, p. 225. According to p. 23 of Al-Ithaf bi Hubb al-Ashraf (of al-Shabrawi), Yazid kept hitting al-Husayn's front teeth, and the same is stated by al-Biruni on p. 331 of the offset edition of his book Al-Athar al-Baqiya.

27. Ibn Shahr Ashub, Al-Manaqib, Vol. 2, p. 226.

28. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 35. Ibn al-Sabbagh, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 205. The first line, according to p. 135, Vol. 1, of al-Yafi’i's Mir’at al-Jinan, is:

We took to patience, and on patience we set our minds,

While our swords chopped off heads and hands.

It is narrated by Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi on p. 148 of his book Tathkirat al-Khawass with some variation in its wording. A host of historians have contented themselves by citing only the second verse. Among them is al-Sharishi who does so on p. 193, Vol. 1, of his book Sharh Maqamat al-Hariri. So does al-Andalusi on p. 313, Vol. 2, of his book Al-’Iqd al-Farid. So does Ibn Kathir on p. 197, Vol. 8, of his book Al-Bidaya. So does the mentor, Shaikh al-Mufid, in his book Al-Irshad, and so does Ibn Jarir al-Tabari on p. 267, Vol. 6, of his Tarikh, adding that the verse was composed by al-Hasin Ibn al-Hamam al-Marri.

29. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 265. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 37. The second portion (the ‘ajz) of the second verse is cited on p. 198, Vol. 9, of Ibn Hajar's book Mujma’ al-Zawa’id, and by Ibn Shahr Ashub on p. 226, Vol. 2, of his book Al-Manaqib. According to p. 193, Vol. 8, of Ibn Kathir's book Al-Bidaya, al-Hasin was a poet; then the author cites the second verse which is the same as stated in Mujma’ al-Zawa’id of Ibn Hajar al-Haythami al-’Asqalani. On p. 54 of his book Muthir al-Ahzan, Ibn Nama narrates saying that al-Hasan Ibn al-Hasan was al-Hasan II, and that when he saw al-Husayn's head being thus hit, he said, “O what humiliation!”

Sumayya's offspring now count as many as the stones

Whereas the daughter of the Messenger of Allah has no offspring.

According to p. 49 of Tathkirat al-Khawass of Ibn al-Jawzi, the grandson, when al-Hasan al-Basri came to know what Yazid had done to the head, he cited the second verse. According to p. 71, Vol. 12, of Al-Aghani, these verses were attributed to ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn al-Hakam to which a third verse is added. On p. 56, Vol. 2, of al-Khawarizmi's book Maqtal al-Husayn, they are attributed to ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn al-Hakam, Marwan's brother.

30. Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf, p. 102. This incident is abridged on p. 205 of Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, on p. 267, Vol. 6, of al-Tabari's Tarikh, and on p. 26, Vol. 2, of Ibn Shahr Ashub's book Al-Manaqib.

31. Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, p. 119.

32. ’Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 151. Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Ahzan. On p. 72, Vol. 2, of his book Maqtal al-Husayn, al-Khawarizmi states the dialogue between the Christian [envoy] and Yazid and how the first was killed, but he does not indicate that the most sacred head spoke.

33. al-Maqrizi, Al-Khutat, Vol. 2, p. 289. al-Shabrawi, Al-Ithaf bi Hubb al-Ashraf, p. 23. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 75. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, Vol. 8, p. 204. al-Thahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, Vol. 3, p. 216.

34. ’Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 151. In the Introduction to this book, her father is introduced to the reader and so is her husband.

35. al-Maqrizi, Al-Khutat, Vol. 2, p. 284.

36. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 74.

37. Shaikh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Nafs al-Mahmum, p. 247.

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