The Umayyad government determined to destroy Islam and to annihilate its foundations and forces. Then it decided to degrade the Muslims, to paralyze their physical and mental activities, and to prevent them from practicing the principles of their great religion. Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, witnessed this severe ordeal as his father, Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, witnessed it during the days of the government of Mu'a`wiya and Yazid.
He shared his father's pain and sorrow. Ima`m al-Husayn was unable to carry out his great revolt during the days of Mu'a`wiya because he understood that his revolt would fail, and that he would be unable to change the situations standing in the country. Because Mu'a`wiya used strong policy and ruled with wisdom, it was impossible for Ima`m al-Husayn to overcome him and abort his plans. When this tyrannical person (Mu'a`wiya) died and Yazid took the reins of government, Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, decided to accomplish his religious duty.
He determined to resist Yazid and to overthrow his government. Accordingly, he would be able to preserve the Muslims' interests and rights. Moreover he would be loyal to the fundamentals of the religion of his grandfather. So he, peace be on him, declared his great revolt through which Allah made the Book clear, and which He made a lesson for the wise. Hence we will briefly mention some sides of this great revolt, which showed terrible events to Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin. Although he was ill, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin was able to understand all the stages of this tragedy through his sensitive feelings and his careful sentiment. That is as follows:
The pure family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, adopted the rights of the oppressed and the persecuted, so they head for Iraq. When they arrived at the Plateau of Karbala`', they were afflicted by ordeals, misfortunes, and disasters, so they were sure of the destructive catastrophe.
This occurred when they found themselves surrounded by the wicked forces who intended to shed their blood and to force them to yield to abasement, but Allah refused to accept that for them.
Ima`m al-Husayn looked at the young men from among the members of his family, they were in the bloom of youth, so he burst into tears and began saying: "O Allah, we are the Household of Your Prophet, Mohammed, peace be on him. We have been banished from the Scared City of our grandfather, and the Umayyads have transgressed against us, so, O Allah, take our right from them, and grant us victory over the oppressive people."
Then he addressed the heroes from among his Household and his companions, saying: "The people are the slaves of this world, and the religion is licking on their tongues. They encompass it (the religion) as long as their livelihoods stream, but when they are tested by tribulation, they are a few in following the religion.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 97).
These brilliant words show the practical reality of the life of the people throughout the stages of history, so they are the slaves of this world at every place and time. As for the religion, it has no shade in their inner selves. When disasters befall them, they deny it and turn away from it, so, indeed, it is licking on their tongues.
Then Ima`m al-Husayn turned to his companions and said to them: "Then after, you have seen what has befallen us, and the world has changed and neglected (us), its kindness has turned away (from us), and nothing has remained of it except a rest like the rest of the container and a mean life which is like an unhealthy food. Don't you see that the (people) do not put the truth into effect and do not prevent each other from (doing) falsehood? Indeed, the believer is desirous of meeting Allah. So, indeed, I see that death is (nothing) except happiness, and that life with the oppressive is (nothing) except boredom.(Al-Tabarani, al-Mu'jam. Ibn 'Asakir, Tarikh, vol. 13, p. 74).
In this speech, Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, showed that all kinds of ordeals and tribulations befell them, and that the thinking of the world toward them changed, for fate brought to them tiresome misfortunes, but the grandson of the great Prophet was brave enough to face them, for he saw that the people did not put the truth into effect and did not prevent each other from doing falsehood, and that life became abominable and martyrdom in the way of Allah was happiness.
When Ima`m al-Husayn finished his speech, all his companions rushed toward death to give people the most wonderful examples of sacrifice for establishing justice and fairness. Each one of them spoke with the words of sincerity, so the Ima`m thanked and lauded them for that.
On the night of Muharram 10th, Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, was sure of death, so he entered his own tent, prepared his own sword, and said:
Time, shame on you as friend! At the day's dawning and the sun's setting!
How many a companion or seeker will be a corpse! Time will not be satisfied with any substitute. The matter will rest with the Almighty one, and every living creature will have to journey along my path.
In these lines of poetry, the Ima`m announced his death. He was in the tent of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin and of the granddaughter of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, Zaynab, daughter of Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. When Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin heard these lines, he understood what his father wanted, so tears choked him, and he kept silent and knew that tribulation had come upon them, as he said:
"As for my aunt, Zaynab, she felt that her brother and the rest of her Household had determined to meet death and to attain martyrdom. She could not control herself; she jumped up, tearing at her clothes, sighing and went to him." "Then I will lose a brother," Zaynab said to him, "Would death deprived me of life, (for) my mother Fa`tima, is dead, and my father, 'Ali, and my brother, al-Husayn, peace be onthem (all)."
"O sister," al-Husayn said to her as he looked at her with his eyes full of tears, "don't let Satan take away your forbearance."
However, Zaynab became pale, and sorrow tore up her gentle, tortured heart, so she lamented to her brother al-Husayn: "O my grief, your life will be violently wrenched from you and that is more wounding to my heart and harsher to my soul."
When she was sure that her brother would be killed, she could not control her forbearance, so she tore her garment, struck at her face, and then she fell down in a faint. Then the granddaughters of the Prophet shared that severe ordeal with her. Among them was Umm Kulthu`m, who lamented:
"Oh Mohammed! Oh 'Ali! Oh Ima`m! Oh Husayn! We will be lost after you!"
That distressing sight had a great effect on the soul of Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him. Sorrow and sighs melted his heart, so he walked towards the granddaughters of the Prophet and ordered them to cling to forbearance and to bear the burdens of this severe ordeal, saying:
"O sister, O Umm Kulthu`m, O Fa`tima, O Raba`b, when I am killed, you must not tear your clothes, nor scratch your faces, nor cry out with grief and loss!(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 1, pp. 172-173).
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, ordered his womenfolk to cling to forbearance during those severe ordeals that had come upon them, and he ordered them not to say obscene words.
There was no event in history similar to the event that came upon Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, on the Day of 'Ashura`' because all the ordeals of the world came upon the plant of sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, talked about that tragic day which is immortal in the world of sorrows.
He said: "No day was more difficult for Allah's Messenger than the Day (Battle) of Uhud in which his uncle Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the lion of Allah and the lion of His Messenger, was killed, and after it was the Day (Battle) of Mu'ta in which his cousin Ja'far b. Abi Ta`lib was killed."
Then he (Zayn al-'Abidin) said: "There was no day like the Day of al-Husayn, when thirty thousand men advanced against him (while) they claimed that they belonged to this community, and that they (wanted) to seek proximity to Allah, the Great and Almighty, through (shedding) his blood. He (al-Husayn) reminded them of Allah, but they did not learn (from him) till they killed him out of (their) oppression and aggression.(Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 9, p. 147).
In the world of Islam, throughout history, there is no day more difficult than that of al-Husayn, for this great Ima`m revolted (against Yazid) to establish for all the peoples of the East an honorable life, freedom, welfare, security, and tranquillity. However, those wicked people rose against him and shed his blood in a savage way in which history has never seen. They committed these crimes to live under the yoke of slavery, oppression, and injustice.
Before the fire of the battle broke out, Ima`m al-Husayn thought that he had to establish proof for those corrupt people, to refute their justifications, and to make them understand clearly their affairs, so he, peace be on him, ordered his horse to be brought to him. He rode it and walked toward them in a highly impressive manner which was similar to that of his grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family.
He delivered among them his historical sermon, which is the purest and most eloquent one in Arabic literature. He called them at the top of his voice to make them all hear his words. He said to them:
"People, listen to my words and do not hurry (to attack me) so that I may remind you of the duties you have towards me and so that (by telling you the true circumstances) I may free myself from any blame in (your attacking me).
If you give me justice, you will become happier through that. If you do not give me justice of your own accord (as individuals), then agree upon your affairs (and your associates); let not your affairs be in darkness to you. Then carry (it) out against me and do not reflect (any further). Indeed my guardian is Allah, Who sent down the Book; He takes care of the righteous."
The air carried Ima`m al-Husayn's words to the womenfolk of the Prophet and they lamented loudly, so the Ima`m sent to them his brother al-'Abba`s and his son 'Ali and said to them: "Calm them. By my life, their weeping will be very much." When they became quiet, he went on delivering his sermon. He praised and glorified Allah, and he called down blessings upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and said concerning that countless words.
No speaker has ever been heard before or after him more eloquent in his speech than he was. He continued:
"People, indeed Allah, the Most High, created this world and made it the abode of annihilation and vanishing. It changes its inhabitants from state to state, so the conceited one is he whom it deludes, and the miserable one is he whom it charms. So let not this world delude you because it cuts off the hope of him who has confidence in it and despairs the greediness of him who desires for it. I see that you have unanimously agreed on an affair through which you have made Allah angry with you, turn his Holy Face away from you, and send down his vengeance upon you.
So the best lord is our Lord, and you are the worst slaves! You acknowledged obedience (to Allah) and believed in the Prophet Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, and then you have crept against his progeny and his family, you want to kill them. Satan has wholly engaged you, so he has made you forget the remembrance of Allah, the Almighty. So woe to you and to what you want! To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. These are people who have disbelieved (in Allah) after their belief (in Him). So away with the oppressive people!"
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, preached to the people with these words. He warned them against the delusion of this world and gave them proofs for its unsuccessful final results and prevented them from killing the family of their Prophet, for they would disbelieve in Islam and be worthy of Allah's punishment and vengeance. Then the great Ima`m continued:
"People, trace back my lineage and consider who I am. Then look back at yourselves and remonstrate with yourselves. Consider whether it is right for you to kill me and to violate the honor of my womenfolk. Am I not the son of the daughter of your Prophet, of his testamentary trustee (wasi) and his cousin, the first of the believers in Allah and the man who (first) believed in what His Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, brought from his Lord?
Was not Hamza, the lord of the martyrs, my uncle? Was not Ja'far, the one who flies in Heaven, my uncle? Have you not heard the words of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, concerning myself and my brother: 'These are the two lords of the youths of the inhabitants of heaven'? Whether you believe what I am saying- and it is the truth, for by Allah I have never told a lie since I learnt that Allah hated people (who told) them- or whether you regard me as a liar, there are among you those, if you asked them, would tell you:
Ask Ja'far b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansa`ri, Abu` Sa'id al-Khudari, Sahl b. Sa'ad al-Sa`'idi, Zayd b. Arqam, and Anas b. Ma`lik to tell you that they heard these words from the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, concerning myself and my brother. Is there not (sufficient) in this to prevent you from shedding my blood?"
It was appropriate for this sermon to change the views of the units of that army and to make a military revolt among their ranks. Through this sermon Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, summoned them to return to their intellects, to consider carefully his affair, for he was the grandson of their Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, the son of his trustee, his womb relative, the lord of the youths of the inhabitants of heaven. All these factors were enough to prevent them from shedding al-Husayn's blood and violating the honor of his womenfolk, but that army did not understand such excellent preaching, so it was inclined to crime and drowned in error.
However, the wicked sinner, Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan interrupted Ima`m al-Husayn, saying: "If I understand what you are saying, then I only worship Allah (very shakily) on the edge."
Habeeb b. Muza`hir, an excellent Muslim believer, answered Shimr, saying: "I think that you worship Allah (very shakily) on seventy edges, for I testify you are right. You do not understand what he is saying, for Allah has impressed (ignorance) upon your heart."
Then the great Ima`m (al-Husayn) continued: "If you are in doubt about these words, you are in doubt that I am the son of the daughter of your Prophet. By Allah there is no son of a prophet other than me among you and among the peoples from the East to the West. Shame on you, are you seeking retribution from me for one of your dead whom I have killed, or for property of yours which I expropriated, or for a wound which I have inflicted?"
These words shook the ground under their feet. They became perplexed, not knowing what to say. Then Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, called the commanders of the army, who wrote letters to him to come to their city, saying: "Shibth b. Rib'i, Hajja`r b. Abjar, Qays b. al-Ash'th, Yazid b. al-Harth, didn't you write: 'The fruit has ripened; the dates have grown green; come to an army which has been gathered for you'?"
But those wicked sinners did not feel shame in betraying a promise and breaking a covenant; they all unanimously agreed on telling lies, saying: "We didn't do (that)."
The Ima`m was astonished at their answer, so he said: "Glory belongs to Allah! Yes, by Allah, you did it."
Thus, the Ima`m turned his face away from them and addressed the units of the army, saying to them: "People, if you hated me, then let me go to a safe place in the land."
However, Qays b. al-Ash'ath, a wicked sinner in Ku`fa who belonged to a corrupt family, interrupted him, saying: "Submit to the authority of your kinsmen (the Umayyads). They have never treated you with anything but what you liked."
"By Allah, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated; nor will I flee like a slave," said al-Husayn, peace be on him.
Then he called out: "O Servants of Allah, I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from your stoning. I take refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every haughty man who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning."
Unfortunately, this excellent sermon did not penetrate their hearts, for ignorance had been impressed upon them, so they were like the cattle, rather they were more straying (than them) in way.
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, took numerous measures to preserve peace and to avoid shedding blood, but 'Umar b. Sa'd declared public war against him, for he advanced toward the Ima`m's camp, took an arrow, threw it at the Ima`m, and said: "Bear witness for me with the Governor that I was the first to throw (an arrow) at al-Husayn's camp."
This aggressive, mean person ('Umar b. Sa'd) asked his army to bear witness for him with his governor, b. Marja`na (i.e., 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziya`d) that he was the first to throw an arrow at the Camp of the truth, dignity, and honor.
Then his bowmen showered arrows upon al-Husayn and his companions and hit them all, so the Ima`m turned to his companions and said to them: "Noble men, stand up! These are the messengers of the people for you!"
Thus, the vanguards of the truth from among the companions of the Ima`m headed for the battlefield. With that, the battle started between the two armies; it was the most violent battle that ever occurred on the earth.
The army of the truth met the army of misguidance and falsehood. The companions of Ima`m al-Husayn eagerly competed with the male members of his House for death to attain Paradise. With that they led the movement of faith. None of their spirits became weak, so, with their unique sacrifice, they gave a proof of the greatness of Islam, which granted them such a steadfast spirit through which they, though few in number, were able to meet that savage army and cause it heavy casualties.
The companions of al-Husayn and the male members of his Household proved themselves brave, especially as it concerns Aba` al-Fadl al-'Abba`s, peace be on him, who sacrificed his life for his brother al-Husayn.
Throughout the history of humanity, there is no brotherhood more truthful, nobler, and more sincere than that of al-'Abba`s, so Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, lauded and praised it when he said:
"May Allah have mercy on my uncle al-'Abba`s, for he preferred (his brother to himself), showed extreme courage, and sacrificed his life for his brother to the extent that his hands were cut off, so Allah, the Great and Almighty, gave him two wings to fly with the angels in Heaven, as He had given Ja'far b. Abi Ta`lib. Al-'Abba`s has a great position with Allah, the Exalted, so all the martyrs will envy it on theDay of Judgment.(Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 9, p. 147).
Aba` al-Fadl al-'Abba`s was the last brother of al-Husayn to be killed. The Ima`m, peace be on him, stood beside al-'Abba`s's holy corpse and said with great sorrow: "My back has just broken and my strength become little."
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, felt loneliness and loss when he lost his brother, who was kind and obedient to him. In our book 'Haya`t al-Ima`m' al-Husayn (the Life of Ima`m al-Husayn), We have spoken in detail about his martyrdom and the attitude of al-Husayn toward him.
Ima`m al-Husayn, who was afflicted with disaster, looked with great sadness and sorrow at the members of his family and his companions. He saw them slaughtered like sheep on the sand of Karbala`' under the heat of the sun's rays, and he heard his womenfolk weeping and lamenting over their martyred ones. He did not know what would happened to them after his martyrdom.
That tragic sight had a great effect on him, so he sought help to protect the womenfolk of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, saying: "Is there anyone to protect the womenfolk of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family? Is there any monotheist to fear Allah through us? Is there any helper who seeks hope from Allah through helping us?(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 274).
When Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin heard his father asking those people for helped, he left his bed and leant on a stick because of his severe illness. When al-Husayn saw him, he called his sister Umm Kulthu`m, saying: "Hold him back lest the earth should be void of the descendants of the family of Mohammed!"
So his aunt brought him back to his bed, and he suffered psychological pain more than he suffered from his illness. Ordeals and misfortunes filled his mind when he saw that brilliant group of his brothers and cousins martyred on the ground, their sincere companions slaughtered like sheep, his father was surrounded by the enemies of Allah, and the womenfolk of the Prophet shaking with fear. Nevertheless he faced those tragedies with forbearance and entrusted his affair to Allah.
Those savage criminals surrounded the plant of the sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, stabbing him with their swords and spears and hitting him with stones. Bleeding sapped his strength, so the wicked criminal, Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan hurried to behead him. The narrators said: "On the lips of Ima`m al-Husayn, there was the smile of pleasure and of immortal victory which he gained."
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, sacrificed his life to establish the state of Truth in the regions of this East, to destroy oppression and injustice, to divide the bounties of Allah among the deprived and the persecuted, and to save the community from the government of the Umayyads who denied human rights and turned the Muslim countries into a farm and took from it whatever they wanted.
The rude and roguish Umayyads set fire to the tents of Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, paying no attention to the Prophet's womenfolk and children who were in them. They carried firebrands in their hands and cried out: "Set fire to the houses of the oppressors!"
These people thought that the tents of al-Husayn were the houses of oppression while the houses of the Umayyads and of their agents were the houses of justice. They forgot that the Umayyads had drowned the Muslim countries in oppression and tyranny.
When they set the tents to fire, the women of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, escaped to the desert while the fire was following them. As for the orphans, they cried and ran away towards the desert asking the people for help, but nobody helped or aided them. That was the most tragic sight which Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin saw. He did not forget it throughout his lifetime. After the martyrdom of his father, he always said:
"By Allah, when I look at my aunts and my sisters, tears choke me because I remember the day of al-Taff when they escaped from tent to tent and the caller of the people was calling: 'Set fire to the houses of the oppressors!
The rude unbelievers attacked Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin whose strength was sapped by illness, and whose heart was torn by the terrible tragedies. The wicked criminal, Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan wanted to kill him, but Hameed b. Muslim scolded him, saying: "Glory belongs to Allah! Do you really kill children? He is only a sick lad!"
But Shimr paid no attention to Hameed, so his aunt, the wise lady Zaynab, hurried to him and cling to him, saying: "You will not kill him before killing me first.(Al-Qarmani, Tarikh, p. 108). So, the mean ones left him alone
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin felt greatly grieved and worried. He wished that he left life. This is because he witnessed the horrible tragedies which befell the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them. He was about to die when he saw the corpse of his father, the corpses of the male members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , and of his companions exposed to the wind. When his aunt, the wise lady Zaynab, saw him, she consoled him, saying:
"Why do I see you pleading for death, O the legacy of my grandfather, of my father and brothers? By Allah, this is something which Allah had divulged to your grandfather and to your father. Allah took a covenant from the people whom you do not know, the mighty ones on this land, and who are known to the people of the heavens, that they would gather these severed parts and wounded corpses and bury them, then shall they set up on his Taff a banner for the grave of your father, the lord of martyrs, the traces of which shall never be obliterated, nor shall it ever be wiped out so long as there is day and night. The leaders of apostasy and the promoters of misguidance shall try their best to obliterate and efface it, yet it shall become more and more lofty instead.(Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 261).
The rude and mean ones from among the Kufa`ns buried the corpses of their dead and left on the hot sand of Karbala`' the corpse of the plant of the sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, (i.e., al-Husayn), the corpses of the male members of his family, and of their companions. So some of the Banu Asad, who did not take part in the battle, dug graves for those pure corpses. They were perplexed because they could not identify the corpses especially since the killers had separated the heads from the bodies.
While they were perplexed, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, according to the Shi'ite sources, came and informed them of the names of the martyrs from among the male members of the House, and of their companions. The Ima`m himself carried the corpse of his father and buried it in its final resting place while he was shedding bitter tears and saying:
"Congratulations to the land that contains your pure body, for the world after you is dark whereas the hereafter in your light shall shine. As for the night, it is the harbinger of sleep, while grief remains forever, for Allah shall choose for the members of your House your abode wherein you shall abide. From me to you is greeting, O son of the Apostle of Allah, and the mercy of Allah and his blessings."
On the holy grave he wrote these words: "This is the grave of al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. Abi Ta`lib, the one whom they killed even as he was a thirsty stranger. Beside the legs of Ima`m al-Husayn, he buried his son 'Ali al-Akkbar. He buried the martyrs from among the Ha`shimites and other than them in one grave. Then he went with the Banu Asad to the river of al-'Alqami, where he ordered a grave to be dug and in it he buried Qamar Banu Ha`shim (the Moon of the Ha`shimites), Abu` al-Fadl al-'Abba`s b. 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. Then he burst into bitter tears and said: "May the world after you be obliterated, O Moon of Banu Ha`shim, and greetings from me to you, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, pp. 324 - 325).
Those pure graves have become a symbol for the dignity of humanity, for every sacrifice stands on honor, justice, and the truth. They have become the holiest center for worship in Islam.
The wise ladies of Revelation and the Message were taken prisoners to Ku`fa, so the Umayyad army blew its trumpets and raised its banners to show its victory over the plant of the sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, and lord of the youths of the heaven. Muslim al-Jassa`s described that sight, saying: "Ibn Ziya`d summoned me to repair the House of the Governor in Ku`fa. While I was plastering the doors, I heard cries coming from everywhere in Ku`fa, so I went to the servant of the palace and asked him: "Why is Ku`fa noisy?"
"This hour, they will bring the head of a rebel (kha`rijite) who revolted against Yazid," answered the servant.
"Who is this rebel?" I asked.
"Al-Husayn b. 'Ali," was the answer.
He (Muslim al-Jassa`s) said: "So I left the servant, struck at my face to the extent that I feared that I would become blind, washed my hands from plaster, left the palace, and went to al-Kana`s. While I was with the people waiting for the arrival of the captives and the heads, forty camels came carrying women and children, and 'Ali b. al-Husayn came riding a camel without saddle. Both sides of his neck were bleeding. He was weeping and repeating these verses:
O community of evil, may your region be not watered,
O community that never respected in our regard our grandfather,
on bare camels of burden have you transported us as if we never put up a creed for you !(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, pp. 333).
Jadhlam b. Bashir said: "When I came to Ku`fa in the year 61 A. H., 'Ali b. al-Husayn along with the womenfolk came from Karbala`' to Ku`fa surrounded by soldiers. The were (riding) bare camels. The people came out to look at them, so the women of Ku`fa wept and lamented over them. I saw that 'Ali b. al-Husayn was sapped by illness, chains were placed on his neck and he was handcuffed.(Shaykh al-Mufeed, al-Amali, p. 143).
He was saying with a weak voice: 'They are weeping and lamenting over us! So who has killed us?'
The Kufa`ns surrounded Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, so he thought that he had to address them to make them know the sin of what they committed against themselves and the community. He, peace be on him, lauded and praised Allah, and then he said:
"O men, whoever recognizes me knows me, and whoever does not, let me tell him that I am 'Ali b. al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. Abi Ta`lib. I am the son of the man whose sanctity has been violated, whose wealth has been plundered, whose children have been seized. I am the son of the one who has been slaughtered by the Euphrates neither on blood revenge nor on account of inheritance. I am the son of the one killed in the worst manner. This suffices me to be proud.
"O men, I plead to you in the Name of Allah: Do you not know that you wrote my father then deceived him? Did you not grant him your covenant, your promise, and your allegiance, then you fought him? May you be ruined for what you have committed against your own souls, and out of your corrupt views! Through what eyes will you look at the Messenger of Allah when he says to you: 'You killed my progeny, violated my sanctity, so you do not belong to my community'?"
Those slaves who blackened the face of history wept loudly and lamented, and they said to each other: "You have perished, yet you are not aware of it."
The Ima`m continued his speech, saying: "May Allah have mercy on anyone who acts upon my advice, who safeguards my legacy with regard to Allah, His Apostle, and his Household, for we have in the Apostle of Allah a good example of conduct to emulate."
So they all said with one tongue: "We, son of the Apostle of Allah, listen and obey, and we shall safeguard your trust. We shall not turn away from you, nor shall we disobey you; so, order us, may Allah have mercy on you, for we shall fight when you fight, and we shall make peace when you do so; we dissociate ourselves from whoever oppressed you and dealt unjustly with you."
In response to this false obedience, the Ima`m said: "Far, far away it is from you to do so, people of treachery and conniving! You are separated from what you desire. Do you want to come to me as you did to my father? No, by the Lord of those (angels) that ascend and descend, the wound is yet to heal.
My father was killed only yesterday, and so were his Household, and the loss inflicted upon the Apostle of Allah, upon my father, and upon my family is yet to be forgotten. Its pain, by Allah, is between both of these (sides) and its bitterness is between my throat and palate. Its choke is resting in my very chest.
Then the Ima`m refrained from speech, turning away from those treacherous conniving people who were the mark of disgrace against mankind. It was they who killed the plant of the sweet basil of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, (I. e., al-Husayn), who came to free them and to save them from the oppression and tyranny of the Umayyads. After that, they repented and wept over him.
The captives of the Household of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, were caused to enter the palace of the Governor of Ku`fa, b. Marja`na (i. e., 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziya`d). When the tyrant, b. Marja`na, saw Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, who was sapped by illness, he asked him: "Who are you?"
"I am 'Ali b. al-Husayn," answered the Ima`m.
"Did not Allah kill 'Ali b. al-Husayn?" Ibn Ziya`d asked the Ima`m.
The Ima`m carefully replied: "I used to have an older brother also named 'Ali whom you killed. He will request you on the Day of Judgment."
Ibn Ziya`d burst with anger and shouted at the Ima`m: "Allah killed him!"
The Ima`m answered him with bravery and steadfastness:
"Allah takes the souls away at the time of their death; none dies except with Allah's permission."
Ibn Marja`na was perplexed, not knowing what to answer this young captive who defeated him through giving proofs and quotations from the Qur'a`n, so he shouted at him, saying: "How dare you answer me like that!"
The wicked sinner, b. Marja`na, ordered one of his swordsmen, saying: "Take this lad and behead him!"
The wise lady Zaynab, granddaughter of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, put her hands around the Ima`m and bravely said to b. Marja`na: "O Ibn Ziya`d, it suffices you what you have shed of our blood! Have you really spared anyone other than this? If you want to kill him, kill me with him as well!"
The tyrant admired her and said to the swordsman with astonishment: "Leave him for her! Amazing is their tie of kinship; she wishes to be killed with him!"
Were it not for this heroic attitude of the wise lady Zaynab, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin would have been killed and the rest of the progeny of Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, who was the source of good and honor in the earth, would have been destroyed. In his book 'al-Rasa`'il', al-Ja`hiz reported that b. Marja`na said to his companions concerning 'Ali b. al-Husayn:
"Let me kill him, for he is the rest of this progeny (i. e., the progeny of al-Husayn), so through him I will sever this horn, deaden this disease, and cut off this material."
However, they advised him to refrain from killing him, for they thought that the Ima`m would be destroyed by his illness.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol. 3, pp. 345-347).
A Kufa`n kidnapped the Ima`m, hid him in his house, entertained and treated him kindly. When he saw the Ima`m, he burst into tears. The Ima`m thought that the Kufa`n was trustworthy. A short time later, the caller of b. Ziya`d announced:
"Whoever finds 'Ali b. al-Husayn and brings him will have three hundred dirhams." When the Kufa`n heard the caller, he put a rope around the Ima`m's neck, tied his hands with the robe, and took the dirhams.(Mir'at al-Zaman fi Tawarikh al-Ayan, p. 98. Ibn al-Jawzi, vol. 5, Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat).
This initiative, if correct, gives a picture of the Kufa`ns who spared no effort to get money.
The womenfolk and the children of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, were taken as prisoners to Damascus. They were in a condition the sight of which would cause anyone's soul to melt. All the Kufa`ns went out to see the captives of their Prophet off. The men and the women wept for them. Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, wondered at their attitude and said: "They killed us and are weeping over us!(Mir'at al-Zaman fi Tawarikh al-A'yan, p. 99).
The wicked sinner, Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan, ordered a rope to be put around Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin's neck.(Ansab al-Ashraf, Q1/vol. 1).
The historians said: "Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin did not say even a word to the rude people who accompanied him, nor did he ask them for a thing throughout the journey, for he knew that they were wicked and ignoble, and that they would not respond to any of his requests.
The caravan of the captives arrived at a place near Damascus and stopped there because the Umayyads wanted to decorate the city to show their rejoicing and the victory which the grandson of Abi Sufya`n gained over the grandson of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family.
When Damascus was fully decorated, the captives of the Household of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, were caused to enter it.
An elderly Syrian, who was misled by the false rumors, came near Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and said to him: "Praise belongs to Allah Who annihilated you and Who granted the governor the upper hand over you."
The Ima`m looked at the elderly Syrian. He understood that the elderly Syrian misunderstood the truth and was deceived by the false Umayyad mass media, so he asked him: "Shaykh, have you read the Qur'a`n?"
"Yes," answered the man.
"Have you read," continued the Ima`m, "the verse saying: ' Say: I do not ask you for a reward for it except that you treat my kinsfolk with kindness,' the verse saying: ' and give the (Prophet's) kinsfolk their due rights,' and the verse saying: 'and be informed that whatever you earn by way of booty, for Allah belongs the fifth thereof and for the Messenger (of Allah) and for the (Prophet's) kinsfolk'? "
The elderly Syrian admired the Ima`m and said to him with a faint voice: "Yes, I have read all of them."
The Ima`m said to him: "We, by Allah, are the kinsfolk referred to in all these verses." Then the Ima`m asked him: "Shaykh, have you read these words of Him, the exalted: 'Allah only desires to take away uncleanness from you, O Household (of the Prophet) and purify thoroughly'?"
"Yes," was the answer.
"We are the Household (of the Prophet) whom Allah singled out with the Verse of Purification."
The elderly Syrian shook all over. He wished that the earth had swallowed him up before saying his words. Then he asked the Ima`m: "I ask you in the Name of Allah, are you really them?"
"By our grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, we are, without any doubt," replied the Ima`m.
It was then that the elderly Syrian fell on Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin's hands kissing them. His tears flowed down his cheeks, and he said: "I dissociate myself before Allah from those who killed you!"
The elderly Syrian sought repentance from the Ima`m from whatever rude remarks he had made earlier. So he, peace be on him, forgave him.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn. vol. 3, p. 371).
The police men of Yazid tied with ropes the wise women of Revelation and the children of Ima`m al-Husayn, as sheep are tied. The beginning of the rope was around the neck of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, then around the neck of his aunt Zaynab, up to all the daughters of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. Whenever they relaxed in their walking, they (the police men of Yazid) whipped them.
They brought them in this condition whose terror cracked the mountains and made them stop before Yazid. So Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin turned to him and asked him: "What do you think the reaction of our grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, might have been had he seen us looking like this?" The tyrant, Yazid, collapsed. All those who were in his assembly wept. Yazid felt pain of that tragic sight, so he said:
"May Allah detest b. Marja`na the ugly. If there had been (any bond of) kinship between him and you, he would not have done this to you; he would not have sent you in this state." Then the tyrannical one, Yazid, ordered the ropes to be cut off, turned to Zayn al-'Abidin and said him: "How did you, 'Ali, see what Allah did to your father al-Husayn?"
Al-Husayn's brave son (Zayn al-'Abidin) answered with calmness and tranquillity: "Whatever misfortune befalls the earth or your own selves is already in a Book even before we cause it to happen; this is easy for Allah, so that you may not grieve about what you missed nor feel elated on account of what you receive. And Allah does not love those who are haughty and proud."
The tyrant, Yazid, burst in anger, his elation went away, and recited these words of Him, the Exalted: "Whatever misfortune befalls you is due to what your hands commit." The Ima`m answered him, saying:
"This (verse) concerns those who do wrong, not those who are wronged."
Then he turned his face away from him to disdain him and his position.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn. vol. 3, p. 376).
Yazid permitted all the people to come to his palace, so the hall of his palace became full of people who came and congratulated him on the false victory. He was pleased and happy, because the world yielded to him, and the kingdom belonged to him only. So he ordered the orator to ascend the pulpit and to defame al-Husayn and his father, Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him.
The orator ascended the pulpit and went too far in slandering the pure family (of the Prophet), and then he lauded in a false way Yazid and his father Mu'a`wiya. Thus, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, interrupted him, saying: "Woe unto you, orator! You have traded the pleasure of the creature for the wrath of the Creator, so take your place in the fire (of Hell)."
Then the Ima`m turned to Yazid and asked him, saying: "Do you permit me to ascend this pulpit to deliver a speech that will please Allah, the Almighty, and that will bring good rewards for these folks?"
The attendants were astonished at this sick lad, who interrupted the orator and the governor while he was a captive. Yazid refused, but the people begged him. He said to them: "If he ascends the pulpit, he will not descends (from it) till he expose me and the family of Abi Sufya`n."
The people asked him: "What will this sick lad do?"
The people did not know the Ima`m. They thought that he was like the other people, but the tyrant, Yazid, knew him, so he said to them: "These are people who have been spoon-fed with knowledge."
They kept pressuring him till he agreed. So the Ima`m ascended the pulpit and delivered the most wonderful speech in history in eloquence. He made the people weep. The folks were confused because the Ima`m's speech controlled their hearts and feelings. The following is some of what he said:
"O people, we were granted six things and favored with seven: We were granted knowledge, clemency, leniency, fluency, courage, and love for us in the hearts of the believers. We were favored by the fact that from among us came the chosen Prophet, Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, al-siddiq (the very truthful one), al-Tayya`r (the one who flies in the heaven), the Lion of Allah and of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, the mistress of the women of the world Fa`tima the chaste, and both lords of the youths of Heaven from among this nation"
Having introduced his family, the Ima`m continued his speech explaining their outstanding merits, saying:
"Whoever recognizes me knows me, and whoever does not recognize, let me tell him who I am and to what family I belong:
I am the son of Mecca and Mina; I am the son of Zamzam and al-Safa`; I am the son of the one who carried Zaka`t in the ends of the mantle; I am the son of the best man who ever put on a loincloth and clothes;
I am the son of the best man who ever put on sandals and walked barefooted; I am the son of the best man who ever made tawa`f (the procession round the Kaaba) and Sa'i (ceremony of running seven times between Safa` and Marwa`); I am the son of the best man who ever offered the hajj and pronounced talbiya (Here I am at your service);
I am the son of the one who was transported on the bura`q in the air; I am the son of the one who was made to travel from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque, so glory belongs to Him Who made (His Servant) travel; I am the son of the one who was taken by Gabriel to sidrat al-muntaha` ;
I am the son of the one who drew near (his Lord) and suspended, so he was the measure of two bows or closer still; I am the son of the one who led the angels of the heavens in prayer; I am the son of the one to whom the Almighty revealed what He revealed; I am the son of Mohammed al-Mustafa` ;
I am the son of 'Ali al-Murtada` ; I am the son of the one who fought against the creatures till they said: There is no god but Allah. I am the son of the one who struck (the enemies) with two swords before Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, and stabbed (them) with two spears, emigrated twice, pledged allegiance twice (to the Prophet), prayed in the two qiblas, and fought (against the unbelievers) at Badr and Hunayn and never disbelieved in Allah not even as much as the twinkling of an eye.
I am the son of the best of the believers, the heir of the prophets, the destroyer of the unbelievers, the Commander of the Muslims, the light of the muja`hidin, the ornament of the worshippers, the crown of the weepers, the most patient of the patient, and the best of the steadfast from among the family of Ya`sin, and the Messenger of the Lord of the world's inhabitants.
I am the son of the one who was backed by Gabriel, supported by Mika`el. I am the son of the one who defended the Muslims, killed the oath breakers of allegiance and the unjust and the renegades, struggled against his tiring enemies, the most excellent one of those who walked (to war) from among Quraysh, the first to respond to Allah from among the believers, the prior to all the previous ones, the breaker of the aggressors, the destroyer of the atheists, an arrow from among the shooting-places of Allah against the hypocrites, the tongue of the wisdom of worshippers, the supporter of the religion of Allah, the protector of the affair of Allah, the garden of the wisdom of Allah, the container of the knowledge of Allah, tolerant, generous, benevolent, pure, Abtahi, satisfied, easily satisfied, intrepid, gallant, patient, fasting, refined, steadfast, courageous, honored, the severer of the backbones, the scatterer of the allies, the calmest of them, the best of them in giving free rein (to his horse), the boldest of them in tongue, the firmest of them in determination, the most powerful of them, a lion, brave, pouring rain, the one who destroyed them at the battles and dispersed them in the wind, the lion of al-Hija`z, the possessor of the miracle, the ram of Iraq, the Ima`m through the text and worthiness, Makki, Madani, Abtahi, Tuha`mi, Khay'ani, 'Uqbi, Badri, Uhdi, Shajari, Muha`jiri, the Lord of the Arabs, the Lion of war, the inheritor of al-Mash'arayn, the father of the two grandsons (of the Prophet) al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the one who manifested miracles, the one who scattered the phalanxes, the piercing meteor, the following light, the victorious Lion of Allah, the request of every seeker, the victorious over every victorious, such is my grandfather, 'Ali b. Abi Ta`lib. I am the son of Fa`tima, the chaste. I am the son of the mistress of women. I am the son of the purified, virgin (lady). I am the son of the part of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. (Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn. vol. 3, p. 387).
I am the son of the one who was covered with blood. I am the son of the one who was slaughtered at Karbala`'. I am the son of the one for whom the Jinns wept in the dark and for whom the birds in the air cried.(Nafs al-Mahmum, p. 242).
The Ima`m continued saying 'I am....' until the people wailed.
Yazid thought that a discord would occur, for the Ima`m made a cultural revolt through his speech when he introduced himself to the Syrians and made them know what they did not know, so Yazid ordered the muadhdhin to say the adha`n and he said: "Alla`hu Akbar!"
The Ima`m turned to him and said:
"You have made great the Great One who cannot be measured and cannot be perceived by senses, there is nothing greater than Allah."
The muadhdhin said: "Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Alla`h!"
'Ali b. al-Husayn said: "My hair, my skin, my flesh, my blood, my brain, and my bones bear witness that there is no god but Allah."
The muadhdhin said: "Ashhadu anna Mohammedan rasool Allah!"
The Ima`m turned to Yazid and asked him: "Yazid, is Mohammed your grandfather or mine? If you say that he is yours, then you are a liar, and if you say that he is mine, then why did you kill his family?"
Yazid became silent and was unable to answer, for the great Prophet was Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin's grandfather. As for Yazid's grandfather, he was Abu` Sufya`n, who was the mortal enemy of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family.
The Syrians understood that they were drowning in sin, and that the Umayyad government spared no effort to delude and mislead them.(Al-Khawarizmi, Maqqtal al-Husayn, vol. 2, p. 242).
The Ima`m confined his speech to introducing the Prophet's Household to the Syrians. He indicated to them that the Prophet's Household had a great position with Allah, that they waged jihad against the enemies of Islam, and that they suffered persecutions.
The Ima`m mentioned nothing other than these matters. I (the author) think that this confinement to these matters is among the most wonderful considerations and among the most exact type of eloquence. This is because the Syrians knew nothing about the Prophet's Household except what the pseudo clergy men fabricated against them; the authority and its mercenaries fed the Syrians on enmity toward the Prophet's Household and on obedience to the Umayyads.
Anyhow, the Ima`m's speech had a great effect on the Syrians, who secretly told each other about the Umayyad false mass media, and about the disappointment and loss at which they reached, so their attitudes toward Yazid changedand they looked at him with disdain. (Jawharat al-Kamal fi Maddh al-Sada al-'Alam, p. 128).
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, met al-Minhal b. 'Amr and he asked him: "How have you received the evening, O son of the Apostle of Allah?"
The Ima`m looked at him and said to him:
"We received the evening like the Israelites among the people of Pharaoh: they kill their sons and take their women captive. The Arabs brag before the non-Arabs saying that Mohammed was one of them, while Quraysh boasts before the rest of the Arabs of Mohammed belonging to it. We, his Household, are now homeless; so, to Allah we belong and to Him is our return.(Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn. vol. 3, p. 291).
The greatest Prophet was the original source for the honor of the Arab community. It was he who planned the honorable life for it and established for it the strongest state in the world, but Quraysh, who boasted before the rest of the Arabs of Mohammed belonging to it, killed his children and took his womenf
On the 5th of the 5th month of the 5th Hijri, after the completion of the Panjatan, a daughter was born in the house of Ali and Batool. Such ...Learn More
I was inspired to write this article on Bibi Zainab because I was named after her and more so because, she was the grand daughter of the ...Learn More
Islamic Thought organised its 2nd Nahjul Balagha Conference on Sunday 29th September 2013 in Peterborough, UK. Distinguished scholars presented their papers on varying aspects of Nahjul Balagha.Learn More
Islamic Thought P.O Box 533 Peterborough, UK PE1 5FW
Send us your feedback to get improve our site and vission.