THE PRELUDE TO THE MARTYRDOM OF AL-HUSAYN

[What al-Kalbi, al-Madani and other historians (ashab al-sira) have reported]

When al-Hassan, peace be upon him, died, the Shia in Iraq began to make plans. They wrote to al-Husayn, peace be on him, about removing Mu'awiya and giving the pledge of allegiance to him. However, he refused them and pointed out that there was an agreement and contract between himself and Mu'awiya which he could not break until the period( of the contract) came to an end. However, when Mu'awiya did die, he would examine that (matter).

When Mu'awiya did die-and that was halfway through the month of Rajab in the year 60 A.H. (680 A.D.) - Yazid wrote to al-Walid b. Utaba b. Abi Sufyan, who was in Madina (acting)on behalf of Mu'awiya, instructing him to get al-Husayn, peace be on him, to pledge allegiance to him and allow him no delay in (doing that). Therefore, al-Walid sent in the night to al-Husayn, peace be on him, and summoned him (to attend). Al-Husayn, peace be upon him, was aware of what he wanted and so he called a group of his retainers (mawali) and ordered them to carry arms. Kitab al-Irshad Shaikh Mufeed. pp. 299-300.

Al-Husayn, peace be upon him, went to al-Walid, and Marwan b. al-Hakam was with him. Al-Walid gave him the news of the death of Mu'awiya and al-Husayn, peace be upon him replied with the formula : "We belong to God and to Him we will return". Then (al-Walid) read out Yazid's letter and his order to get the pledge and allegiance from him.

"I do not see that my pledge of allegiance to Yazid in private would be sufficient", al-Husayn, peace be upon him, said "(Wouldn't you prefer me) to give it in public so that people are aware?"

"Indeed, " agreed al-Walid.

"So see what you think about that in the morning," suggested al-Husayn, peace be on him.

"Go then, in the name of God but come to us when the people gather, said al-Walid."

"By God", interrupted Marwan, "if al-Husayn leaves you now without giving the pledge of allegiance, you will never have the same power over him until there Is a great number of slain men between you and him. Imprison the man and don't let him leave you until he has paid homage (to Yazid) or you executed him".

"At that, al_Husayn jumped up and said : "O son of foreign Woman, would you or he kill me? By God, you are a liar." With that he went out and walked away accompanied by his retainers until he reached his house". Kitabal Irshad, Sheikh Mufid. p. 301

"Towards the end of Saturday he sent men to al-Husayn, peace be on him, to bring him to pledge allegiance to al-Walid on behalf of Yazid b. Mu'awia. Al-Husayn, peace be on him, said to them : "come in the morning. Then you will (have time to) consider (the situation) and so shall we".

"They left him that night without insisting upon him (attending). He, peace be on him, left under (cover of the) night, it was the night of Sunday (i.e. Saturday night) with two days left in the month of Rajab, and he headed towards Mecca accompanied by his sons, his brother's (al-Hassan's) sons and brothers. There was most of the House except for Mohammad b. al-Hanafiyya, may God have mercy on him. Kitab-al-Irshad op. Cit .p. 301.

It is reported from two sources (Rauza-us Shuhada, Mulla Hussain Waiiz and Muqtal Abi Makh naf) that Husayn, peace be upon him, visited the grave of his grand father (the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) a night before going out of Medinah to say good by to his father, while he was there, he felt asleep for a while and in his dream he saw the Holy Prophet saying to al-Husayn (A.S.) "My son your parents and brother have reached me and now you too make haste". Unless you are martyred you cannot reach the Paradise (Tareskh Ahmadi p. 242). Mulla Hussain Waiiz has narrated that "When the Imam came to know about the situation, he kept silence till the sunset. In the early night he went to the grave of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and saluted and said I am your grand son, about whom you did a will to followers but they have forgotten it. He cried and offered prayers for the whole night. The for a while he slept on his grave and dreamt the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) who told him that "my followers will soon kill you, you will be thirsty and they will not give you water". Tareekh Ahmadi, Ahmad Hussain Khan Sahib, Nami Press Lucknow, 1291 A. H. pp. 240-242.

Husayn (A.S.) offered two cycles (rakas) of prayers beside the grave of his grandfather Muhammad (S.A.W.) and then raised his hands in supplication : "O Allah, this is the grave of your Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), and I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. You Know what I am going through. O Allah, I love good and detest evil. I beseech you, O the Lord of glory and honour and adjure you by this grave and its contents, to choose for me whatever pleases You and Your Apostle". The Day of Aushura, p. 51.

When Mohammad Hanifiyya heard of his decision to leave Medina, he did not know where he was intending to go. He said : "My brother, you are the most lovable of people to me and the dearest of them to me. I could not give advice to any creature except to you while you are more entitled to it. Avoid giving pledge of allegiance to Yazid bin. Mu-awia and (avoid) towns while you can. Then send your messengers to the people and summon them to (follow) you. If the people pledge allegiance to you, I praise God; if the people agree upon someone other than you, God will not make your religion nor your reason deficient on that account, nor will he remove your manliness and outstanding merit because of it. Yet I am afraid that you will enter one of these towns and the people will differ with each other, a group will be for you and another against you. They will fight and you will be the target for the first of their spears. Then, the best of all the community, in person, in father and in mother, would be the one in it, whose blood was most terribly exposed and whose family most humiliated" Kitabal Irshad. p. 302

Al Husayn, peace be on him, set off for Mecca reciting : "Then he left it out of fear while he kept on the look out. He said : My Lord save me from unjust people (XXVIII, 21). The caravan included his male relatives and devout companions. Also accompanying him were his women folk, most notable his sister Zainab, peace be upon her. He kept the high road and members of his house suggested : "If you avoided the high road, like Ibn. al-Zubayr did, the search (party) could not follow you". "No by God," He replied, "I will not leave it until God judges what He will judge". Kitabal Irshad, p. 302

On his way to Makkah he met Abdullah bin Muti, who sympathized deeply with him and was haunted by the possibility of Imam Hussein's (A.S.) possible demise and the loss of the only soul who sort out the problems of the Muslims.

Hopes centred around Husayn (A.S.) and hearts clung to him. There was no figure comparable to him which automatically rendered him the refuge off the ummah and the actuating force and could challenge uncompromisingly Yazid's power. Hence Abdullah bin Muti told him :

"By Allah, should you be killed, we will be enslaved after you"

"This statement reflected precisely the opinion of the Islamic world at that time. Abdullah bin Muti was keenly aware of the oppression and eventual bondage being forced on the ummah and there was no liberator save Imam Husayn (A.S.). He emphasized this view by again swearing by Allah : "By Allah should you be killed, we would enslaved after you".

He then asked Husayn (A.S.), in a bid to ascertain his attitude and know his next step, for Husayn's position was that of ummah :

"May I be your ransom, what is your destination?", he asked

"Now I am going to Makkah. Then, I will ask Allah to guide me" replied Husayn (A.S.) Day of Aushura p. 52.

When al-Husayn, peace be upon him, entered Mecca, his entry occurred on the night of Friday (i.e. Thursday, 3rd (of month) of Shaban. As he entered, he recited: And when he set out towards Madyn, he said : Perhaps my Lord will guide me in the right path (XXVIII-33). Kitabal Irshad. p. 302

THE KUFFAN REACTIONS

In Kufa the news of the demise of Muawia and taking over of Yazid as his successor generated reactions among the pious people. The news also spread that al-Husayn, peace be upon him, has refused to give pledge of allegiance to Yazid and how al-Zubayr and al-Husayn has left Medinah for Mekkah. The Shi'a in Kufah gathered in the house of Sulayman b. Surad al-Khuzai, they discussed the death of Moawiya and praised and glorified God.

"Muawiya is dead", announced Sulayman b. Surad. "Al-Husayn has withheld giving his pledge of allegiance to the people (i.e . the Ummayads) and has gone to Mecca. You are his Shia's and Shia's of his father. If you know (in your hearts) that you will be his helpers and fighters against his enemy, and that our lives will be given on behalf of him, then write to him and tell him of that. But if you fear failure and weakness, do not tempt the man (to risk) his own life" Kitabal Irsha p. 303

The response from the masses was "indeed we will fight his enemy and our lives will be given on behalf of him". Then a letter was written to him (al-Husayn) (A.S.).

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

To al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on him,
From Sulayman b. Surad, al- Mussayab b. Najaba, Rifa'a b. Shaddad al-Bajali, Habib b. Muzahir, and the believers and Muslims of his Shia's among Kufans.

Greetings, we praise God before you, other than Whom there is no diety. Praise be to God who has broken your enemy, the obstinate tyrant who had leapt upon this community, stripped it of its authority, plundered its fay' (booty for distribution) and seized control of it without its consent. Then he had killed the choice members of it and had preserved the wicked members of it. He had made property of God a state (divided) among its tyrants and wealthy. He has destroyed as Thamud were destroyed (Now) there is no Imam over us. Therefore come; through you, may your God unite us under truth. Al-Numan b. Bashir is in the governor's palace and we do not gather with him for the Friday (service). Nor do we accompany him (out of the mosque) for the Festivals service. If we learn that you will come to us, we will drive him away until we persue him to Syria, if God, the Exalted, wills. Kitabal Irshad. pp. 303-304

The letter was dispatched through Abd. Allah b. Musma al-Hamdani and Abd Allah b. Walin. They reached al-Hussayn (A.S.) on 10th of Ramadhan. Two days after the first despech fo around one hundred fifty letter were sent through Qays b. Mushir al-Saydavi and Abd Allah and And al-Rehman - the two sons of Shaddad al-Arhabi. Some of the letters were written by individuals and others by groups of 2 to 4. After another two days Kufans sent Hani b.Hani al-Sabii and Sa'id b.Abd Allah al-Hanafi (with another letter in which) they had written :"

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
To

al-Husayn b.Ali, peace be on them,

From

the believers and Muslims of his Shi'a,
Make haste, the people are waiting for you. They have no opinion (of any man) except you. Therefore, speed, speed! And then again speed, speed! Greetings.

Another group consisting Shabsath b. Rabi, Hajjar b. Abjar.al-Hajjaz al-Zubaydi and Muhammad b. Amr al-Taymi wrote to him :

"The dates have grown green; the fruit has ripened. Therefore if you want to, come to an army which has been gathered for you". Greetings.

When all the messengers gathered together with him he responded to the letters received and sent the reply through Hani b. Hani and al-Sabi and Sa'id b. Abadallah al-Hanafi.

"In the name of God the Merciful, the compassionate,
From al-Husayn b. Ali,
To the leaders of the believers and the Muslims.

Hani and Sa'id have brought me your letters; they are the last two of your messengers who have come to me. I have understood everything which you have described and mentioned. The (main) statement of your great men is : "There is no Imam over us. Therefore come; through you may God unite us under truth and guidance.. I am sending you my brother, Muslim b. Aqil who is my cousin and my Trustworthy (representative) from my house. If he writes to me that the opinion of your leaders and of the men of wisdom and merit among you is united in the same way as the messengers who have come to me have described and as I have read in your letters, I will come to you speedily, God willing. For by my life, what is the Imam except one who judges by the Book, one who upholds justice, one who professes the religion of truth, and one who dedicates himself to the essence of God". Kitabal Irshad. P. 305

Al-Husayn summoned Muslim bin Aqil with three others to go to Kufa. Muslim bin Aqil departed until he came to Medina. There he prayed in the Mosque of the Apostle of God, may God Bless him and his family, said farewell to the dearest members of the family. On his way to Kufa he lost two guides on the way who died because of not getting water. Muslim bin Aqil, the mercy of God be on them, wrote (a letter) from the place known as al-Madiq (sent it) with Qays b. Mushir, informing about the death of his two escorts on the way and taking it as a bad omen for his mission. Asking him to be relieved if al-Hussayn (A.S.) thinks it is proper.

Al Husain peace be upon him, wrote back :

I am afraid that your urging me in the letter to relieve you from the task which I sent you is only cowardice. Therefore go on with your task which I gave you. Thus Muslim peace be upon him, continued his journey till he reached Kufa. He stayed at the House of al-Mukhtar b. Abi Ubayda. People started to come in groups and given pledge of allegiance on a mass scale for al-Hussain (A.S.) till it reached 18 thousand. The place of his stay became well known. This came to the knowledge of al Numan b. Bashir who had been the Governor of Kufa in Moawia's time and now was confirmed as the Governor by Yazid. He went on the pulpit and threatened the masses about the consequences of turning their faces away from him and violating the pledge of allegiance as well as opposing Imam which may result in confiscation of the property destroying of men and bloodshed. However this was not enough Abdallah b. Muslim and Umara b. Uqba wrote to Yazid about the changes in the loyalty of the people to Muslim b.Aqil, peace be upon him, and suggested him to change the Governor of Kufa which Yazid did and appointed Ubayed Allah b. Ziyad by a letter sent through Muslim b. 'Amr al-Bahili.

After receiving the letter Ubayed Allah ordered for the preparation to go to Kufa from Basra. On reaching Kufa he was welcomed by Kufans as he was wearing a black turban, people thought that he was Al-Husayn. They were saying : "Welcome son of the Apostle of God, your arrival is a happy event". This troubled and worried Obayed Allah. Kitabal Irshad pp. 306-308.

Ubayed Allah b. Ziyad started his manipulations to detract people from the pledge of allegiance to al-Husayn (A.S.) and succeeded in first tracking down Muslim b. Aqil, peace be upon him, and his supporters including Hani, both of whom were brutally martyred by ibne Ziyad Both of them were deserted by those who pledged allegiance for al-Husayn (A.S.) and in the fear of being killed and families as well as the personal properties destroyed they deserted Muslim b. Aqil, peace be upon him.

Muslim b. 'Aqil's (attempted rising in Kufa was on Tuesday, 8th of Dhu-alHijja in the year 60 A.H.(680 A.D.). He, may God have mercy on him, was killed on Wednessday, the 9th of Dhul-Hijja, the day of Arafa. Al Husayn, the blessings of God be on him, set out from Mecca to Iraq on the day of Muslim's (attempted) rising in Kufa, that is the day of Tarwiya, after staying in Mecca for the rest of Sha-aban, the month of Ramdhan, Shawwal and Dhu-alquada, and eight days of Dhu al-Hijja. Kitab-al-Irshad p. 327.

When Al-Husayn determined on journey to Iraq, he made the circumambulation of the (sacred House and the ritual running between al-Safa and Marwa. Then he left the state of consecration and performed Umra instead of Haj, because he was not able to perform Haj. He set out early with his House, his sons and those of his Shia' who had joined him.

[As is reported to us : ] "News of Muslim's (capture and death) had not reached him because (it had only happened) on the day he set out." Kitabal Irshad p. 327

[It is reported that al-Farzdaq, the poet, said : ] I made the pilgrimage with my mother in the year 60.A.H. (680), I was driving her camel when I entered the sanctuary. There, I mat al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on them, leaving Mecca accompanied by (some men carrying) swords and shield.

Whose caravan is this?" I asked

"Al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on them, was the reply. So I went up and greeted them.

"May God grant you your request and (fulfil) your hope in what you want, by my father and mother, son of the Apostle of God," I said to him. But what is making you hurry away from the pilgrimage?"

"I did not hurry away, I would be apprehended," he replied. Then he asked me : Who are you?"

"An Arab, : I answered and he did not question me (about myself) any further."

"Tell me about the people you have left behind you," he asked.

You have asked a good (question) : I answered. "The hearts of the people are with you but their swords are against you. The decision comes from heaven and God does what it wishes". Kitabal Irshad p. 327

"After reaching al-Tanim some people left the caravan and some continued, Abdallah b. Jafar sent his sons, Awn and Mohammad and wrote a letter to the Imam (A.S.) bearing :

"I ask you before God (to return) if you have set out when you see my letter. For I am very concerned because the direction in which you are heading will have within it your destruction, and the extirpation of your house. If you are destroyed today, the light of the land will be extinguished, for you are the (standard) of those who are rightly guided and the hope of the believers. Do not hurry on your journey as I am following this letter" Kitabal Irshad p.328

'Abdallah, then sent to 'Amr b. Sa'id and asked him to write to al-Husayn (offering him) a guarantee of security, and (promising) to favor him, so that he would return from where he was going. Amr b. Sa'id wrote a letter in which he offered him favour and guarantee of security for himself. He dispatched it with his brother Yahya b.Sa'id. Yahya b. Said and Abdallah both handed over the letter (Amr's) to him and strove (persuade) him to return.

"I have seen the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, in my sleep," answered (al-Husayn), "and he ordered me (to do) what I am carrying out"

"What was that vision?" they both asked.

"I have not told anyone of it, he answered, "and I am not going to tell any one until I meet my Lord, the Mighty and the Exalted". Kitabal Irshad p. 329.

When al-Husayn was approaching al-Hajir, from where he wrote a letter to the Kofans urging them to stand fast and informing them of his arrival

He folded this letter and handed it to Qays bin Musahhir al-Saydawi who set off for Kufa. Unfortunately, he could not penetrate the line of troops positioned outside Kufa. He was captured and carried before Ubaidullah bin Yazid.Qays never wavered and defiantly stood in front of Ibn.Ziyad, who ordered him to curse Husayn (A.S.) from the pulpit. He thereupon took the pulpit, violently attacked Ubadullah and urged the people to support Husayn (A.S.). Ubaidullah was, then furiously angry. He ordered his bodyguards to take him to the top of the palace and throw him down. They did so. Qays was propelled to the ground and thus attained martyrdom.

Husayn and the Day of Aushura p.88.

At Kufa Ubaidullah moved swiftly to crush the ligering seeds of opposition. bin Aqeel and Hani bin Urwah were already killed while al-Mukhtar bin Ubaidah al-Thaqafi languished in prison.

Husayn (A.S.) was unaware of the latest developments and therefore despatched Abdullah bin Yaqtar to Muslim bin Aqeel. At a place known as al-Tha'labiyah Husayn (A.S.) was finally informed of the breakdown of the uprising and the martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqeel. His messenger, Abdullah bin Yaqtar, was captured by Ibn Mumayr's soldiers and then transferred to Kufa to face Ubaidullah bin Ziyad." Ibn Yaqtar was also meted with the same fate as did Qays bin Musahhir and was thrown from the place and then beheaded. Husayn and the Day of Ashura p. 88.

It was at Zubalah that Husayn (A.S.) heard of the arrest and subsequent murder of his messenger and then the news of the failure of uprising. He was then sure that those who called him to come to Kufa and had given him a pledge of fealty had broken their vows and failed him. He felt it necessary to tell it to his companions and thus addressed :

"Our Shia have deserted us. Those of you who prefer to leave us may do so freely and without guilt. They dispersed from him right and left, until there were only left with him those who had come with him" Imam Husayn and the Day of Ashura p.89

After spending the night at Zubalah al-Husayn (A.S.) the journey was resumed they passed by Batn al-Aqbah and reached Sharaf at sunset and spent the night there. The following day they started at dawn and around midday, one of the troops saw black spots and shades. At first he thought them to be palm-tree orchards, but they were found to be military forces on the move. Husayn (A.S.) and his group behold surprised a huge army, travelling into their direction from al-qadisiya. Husayn (A.S.) questioned his men :

"Is there any place we can put at our rear, so that we face them in only one direction". They moved towards the mountain of Thu-Hasm on their left and camped there. The enemy army composed of 1000 horsemen led by Hur bin Yazid Riyahi was persistently moving towards them and the orders were to surround Al-Husayn (A.S.) and to lay siege to Husayn and his followers. Hussein (A.S.) to the contrary treated them kindly and provided water to them and even their horse. When the time of noon prayer came, al-Hajjaj bin Masrooq called for the prayer and Husayn (A.S.) led both camps in prayer. Before the afternoon prayer Husayn (A.S.) apprised Hur about the letters sent to him from Iraq. He then ordered his followers to depart, but Hur did not allow them to leave. After a long talk between them. Hur said" I have been ordered to bring you to Kufa. Husayn and the Day of Aushura pp 89-91.

Husayn continued to move towards Kufa till Ummayad army blocked the march of Imam Husayn and his followers. Husayn (A.S.) thereupon asked the name of the location" What is the place called ?

he questioned." The land of Taf" they told him.

"Is there any other name by which it is known?", he asked again. It is called Karbala they told him. At this he said:" This is the place of affliction and calamity. Dismount, for there is the end of our journey, the place where our blood will be shed, the place of our graves. That is what my grandfather had told me". Imam Hussain and the Day of Aushura. p. 94.

On the 7th of Muharram water supply to the Imam's camp was cut and the torture of thirst and hunger started. The Holy Imam's camp consisted of ladies, innocent children including babies and some male members of the Holy Prophet's family; along with a small band of some faithful friend of Imam Husayn who had chosen to die with the Holy Imam, fighting against the devil for the cause of Allah. A brief History of fourteen Infallible, Ansarian Publications, Qum, Iran. p 99.