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Dispatching the army to Medina

At first, Yazid chose Dahhak ibn Qays Fihri to be the army commander responsible for carrying out the attack on Medina, but he declined to accept this responsibility. Then Yazid chose ‘Amru ibn Sa‘id Ashdaq. He also declined to accept the responsibility. After him, Yazid chose ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. However, all three men, in one way or another, refused to carry out this responsibility.21

Finally, a man named Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah accepted to be responsible for carrying out the attack on Medina. Yazid appointed him as army commander for this confrontation. This man agreed to carry out this responsibility in spite of the fact that he was an ill person aged over ninety years.22

Government heralds called out, “O people! Mobilize for war with the people of Hijaz23 and come to collect your reward.” The government was handing out a hundred dinars in cash to every person who was ready to go to war. It was not long before nearly twelve thousand people were gathered. According to another report, twenty thousand mounted soldiers and seven thousand ground forces were mobilized.24

Yazid paid two hundred dinars to every mounted soldier and one hundred dinars to every soldier of the ground forces. He then ordered them to march towards Medina in company with Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah.25

Yazid himself accompanied the army for a distance of about three kilometres before he bade them farewell.26 Sham Christians eager to fight the Muslims of Medina could also be seen among the soldiers of Yazid’s army.27

Yazid gave the following orders to Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah, “Invite the people of Medina to pay allegiance to me three times. If they respond positively and pay allegiance, let them go free. However, if they do not respond positively and refuse to pay allegiance, fight them. If you triumph over them, continue the massacre for three days.

Anything that belongs to that city will be permissible for your army to loot. Do not stop the Sham army from doing whatever it wishes with its enemy. After three days, stop the killing and pillaging. Then, again ask for allegiance from the people. They should promise to be Yazid’s slaves and servants. When you leave Medina, move towards Mecca for another attack and confrontation.”28

Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah marched from Wadi al-Qura’ towards Medina with his soldiers. They camped at a place called “Jurf”, which was three kilometers from Medina.29

On the other side, the people of Medina were preparing themselves for confrontation and defence. They had been informed that the people of Sham were moving towards Medina.

When the army of Sham gained proximity to Medina, ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah called the people to the Prophet’s (S) Mosque. The people assembled near the Prophet’s (S) pulpit. ‘Abd Allah ibn Hanzalah requested that anyone who concurred with him about this uprising should pay allegiance and promise to stand by him to the death. The people responded positively and paid allegiance to him. They promised to stand by his side to the death.

‘Abd Allah went on the pulpit. After praising Allah and mentioning a few other issues, he said, “O people of Medina! We have rebelled for no other reason save that Yazid is a fornicating and adulterous man. He is a drunkard who does not pray. Tolerating his reign will bring Allah’s punishment and tribulation upon us...”30

Notes:

21. Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 179; Ibn Sa‘d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 176; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 11.

22. Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 180.

23. The area now considered as the Arab Peninsula where Medina lies.

24. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 112; Wafa’ al-Wafa’, vol. 1, p. 128.

25. Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 371; Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 310.

26. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 56.

27. Tarikh al-‘Arab, vol. 1, p. 248.

28. Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 310; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 112; Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 180.

29. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 211.

30. Ibn Sa‘d, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 5, p. 47.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"