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Massacre and looting of property in Medina

Ibn Qutaybah recounts that, “‘The Sham army entered Medina on the twenty seventh day of Dhu al-Hijjah in 63 AH. For three days Medina was plundered by the Sham army up to the appearance of the new moon of the month of Muharram.”34

Following Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah’s orders, and after the seizure of Medina, Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah told his soldiers, “Your hands are open and you are free to do whatever you want. You must plunder and loot Medina for three days.”35

Thus, the city of Medina was subjected to wholesale murder and plunder by the Sham army. Everything was permissible for the Sham soldiers. No man or woman remained safe from their harm. The civilians of Medina were killed and their property was looted.36

The brutal and wholesale massacre of the people of Medina was detestable. It was loathsome to see the descendants of the Prophet’s (S) companions, the Helpers and the Immigrants being butchered. The looting was despicable. However, the wholesale violation of females by the depraved and reckless soldiers of Sham was more contemptible and disgraceful than all else.

In this invasion of the Prophet’s city, thousands of women were violated. Thousands of children were born whose fathers were not known and these children later became known as ‘the Children of Harrah [awlad al-harrah].’37

The streets of Medina were filled with dead bodies. Blood flowed on the ground up to the Prophet’s (S) Mosque.38 Children were mercilessly killed in their mothers’ arms.39 The elderly companions of the Holy Prophet (S) were exposed to torture and dishonor.40

The scale of the killings was so great that because of his extravagance in killing people, Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah was from then onwards nicknamed “Musrif” ibn ‘Aqabah which in the Arabic language means ‘the one who is extravagant’. After this horrendous event, the people of Medina wore black mourning clothes and the sounds of their weeping could be heard from their homes for up to one year.41

Ibn Qutaybah narrates, “On the day of Harrah, eighty companions of the Prophet (S) were killed and after that day there was no Badri (person that took part in the Battle of Badr) left. Seven hundred members of the Quraysh and ansar were put to death and ten thousand innocent people of the community were killed from among Arabs, the tabi‘in and other virtuous people of Medina.”42

Suyuti writes, “In the year 63 of the Islamic calendar, the people of Medina rebelled against Yazid. They even dismissed him from the caliphate. In retaliation, Yazid sent a huge army towards them with orders to kill anyone who had rebelled. After that, the army was commanded to go to Mecca and kill Ibn Zubayr.

The Sham army came to the holy city of Medina and the event of Harrah came to pass. But what can make one comprehend what the event of Harrah was? Al-Hasan once narrated, ‘I swear upon Allah! There was no man who was spared in that event. A large number of the Prophet’s (S) companions and other people were killed. Medina was looted and a thousand virgin girls were violated. We are from Allah and to whom is our return!’

Allah’s Prophet (S) had said,

    «من أخاف أهل المدينة اخافه الله وعليه لعنة الله والملائكة والناس أجمعين.»

‘Anyone who terrorizes and intimidates the people of Medina will be terrorized by Allah and may the curse of Allah, the angels and all the people be upon him.’

This hadith has been narrated by Muslim’.”43

Ibn Qutaibah recounts, “When Muslim ibn ‘Aqabah finished his killing and looting in Medina, he wrote to Yazid, ‘Peace upon thee O leader of the believers… I did not recite the noon [zuhr] prayers until I conquered Medina and prayed right in the Prophet’s Mosque. This was, however, after a lot of killing and extensive looting. In keeping with your command, we followed anyone who escaped and killed all those who were wounded. We looted their houses three times just as you, the commander of the faithful, had ordered.”44

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi narrates from Mada’ini in a book named “Harrah”, that Zuhri said, “On the day of Harrah, seven hundred people, among them the elders of the Quraysh, the Helpers, the Immigrants, and the well known and honored of Medina were killed.

In addition to this, ten thousand others including men, women and slaves were killed. There was so much bloodshed in Medina that blood reached the Prophet’s (S) tomb, and his mosque and garden were filled with blood.”

Mujahid says, “The people of Medina even took refuge in the Prophet’s (S) quarters and at his pulpit but there were swords that would even enter these places.”

Mada’ini quotes from Ibn Qarrah who quotes Hisham ibn Hisan, “After the event of Harrah, a thousand unmarried women gave birth to children whose fathers were not known.” Apart from Mada’ini, other historians too have narrated that a thousand women without husbands gave birth after this event.45


34. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, pp. 220-221.

35. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 10.

36. Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 181; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 17.

37. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 2, p. 10; Al-Futuh, vol. 3, p. 181; Al-Bada’ wa al-Tarikh, vol. 6, p. 14; Wafiyyat al-A‘yan, vol. 6, p. 276; Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209.

38. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 113.

39. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 215.

40. Akhbar al-Tuwal, p. 314.

41. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 220.

42. Ibid., p. 216; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 242.

43. Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 209; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 4, pp. 37-38.

44. Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, vol. 1, p. 218.

45. Tadhkirah al-Khawass, pp. 259-260; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 242; Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 316.

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