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The presence of followers of Abu Sufiyan in Sa‘d’s army

Imam al-Husayn (as) bestowed the title, “the Shi‘ahs of Abu Sufiyan” on the soldiers of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d. He addressed them in this way,

    «ويحکم يا شيعه آل ابي سفيان! إن لم يکن لکم دين، وکنتم لا تخافون المعاد، فکونوا أحراراً في دنياکم.»

“Woe upon you, O followers of the household of Abu Sufiyan! If you lack religion and do not fear the Day of Resurrection, then at least be free in your world.”12

When we refer to and ponder the words and speeches of Imam al-Husayn (as) at Karbala, we do not find a single instance where he calls his rivals his Shi‘ahs or followers. In the same way, the killers of Imam al-Husayn (as) were never called the Shi‘ahs of Imam al-Husayn in the words of other narrators either. This in itself is proof that the traitors who enrolled as soldiers of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d were not real Shi‘ahs of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

When Imam al-Husayn (as) asked why they wanted to shed his blood, some of ‘Umar ibn Sa‘d’s soldiers answered, “We are at war with you because of the enmity and grudges which we bear against your father.”13

It is clear that these people held deep-seated enmity and hatred of Imam ‘Ali (as) due to the sinister propaganda machine of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. A true Shi‘ah of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) would never say that they were enemies of Imam ‘Ali (as). Some of the enemy soldiers called Imam al-Husayn ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab].14

Some of them addressed him thus, “Al-Husayn! We give glad tidings to you that you are going to the fire!”15 They also told Imam al-Husayn (as) and his companions, “O al-Husayn! Your prayers will not be accepted by Allah.”16

A true Shi‘ah of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) would never utter ugly words from his mouth regarding his leader and guide. All these ugly statements were a result of hatred and grudges that were held against the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as) by followers of Abu Sufiyan and Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.


12. Khwarazmi, Maqtal al-Imam al-Husayn (as), vol. 2, p. 38; Al-Luhuf, p. 45.

13. Yanabi‘ al-Muwaddah, p. 346.

14. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 67.

15. Ibid., p. 66; Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 183.

16. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 185.

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