Karbala: From Beginning to End (کربلا از آغاز تا پایان)
خلاصهمقاله زیر گزارشی است از واقعه عاشورا از آغاز تا پایان که قبلا متن فارسی آن در همین وبلاگ انتشار یافته و اکنون ترجمه انگلیسی آن تقدیم عزیزان می شود.
سال گذشته به مناسبت اربعین حسینی یک مقاله مفصل در باره امام حسین علیه السلام و داستان کربلا از آغاز تا پایان در وبلاگ گذاشتم.
همان زمان این مقاله توسط گروه مترجمان مدیریت فرهنگی هنری منطقه چهارده سازمان فرهنگی هنری شهرداری تهران به انگلیسی ترجمه شده و طبق خبری که اعلام شد، قرار بود به صورت یک کتابچه و جهت اهداء به سفرای خارجی انتشار یابد.
دلیل عدم انتشار را نمی دانم؛ اما همان زمان این متن توسط دوستی که واسطه ترجمه بود برای بنده فرستاده شد. امسال با استعلام از ایشان برای اجازه انتشار آن در این وبلاگ، آن عزیزان موافقت کرده و تصمیم گرفتم تا متن آن را برای دوستانی که علاقه مند هستند یک متن انگلیسی در باره داستان کربلا داشته باشند در وبلاگ بگذارم. طبعا عزیزانی که علاقه مند هستند متن فارسی را ملاحظه کنند می توانند اینجا را کلیک کنند.
Imam Hossein (PBUH) was born on the 3rd of Sha'ban, in 4th year of Hijrah in Medina and was martyred on the 10th of Muharram in 61 A.H2. He spent his childhood close beside God’s Messenger (PBUH), his forefather, who loved him. Several traditions (Hadith) have been recorded relating to him and his brother such as, “Hassan and Hossein are Masters of the Youth of Paradise.” and Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said, “Hossein is mine and I am his’’.
Imam Hossein fought in the battles of Jamal (Battle of the Camel), Siffin and Nahrawan alongside his father, Amir Al Mu'minin (Commander of Faithful)3, and encouraged people to join the fight. At the beginning of Battle of Siffin, he played a decisive role in the capturing of the water course from the soldiers of Damascus. Thus, Imam Ali (PBUH) said, “It was the very first conquest that came by Hossein’s blessing.”
Imam Hossein(PBUH) loyal to his brother’s peace
During his brother’s religious leadership, Imam Hossein (PBUH) defended his policy absolutely. Rejecting frequent requests from the people of Iraq to come to Kufa, even after his brother’s martyrdom Imam Hossein said, “While Muawiah is alive, we shall do nothing.” As a consequence of saying this, the Imam was obliged to live under, and endure, ten years of Muawiah rule. After the martyrdom of Imam Hassan (PBUH), the leadership of Shi’ism was placed in the hands of Imam Hossein and the people of Kufa, in a sympathetic letter, welcomed his religious leadership and declared their loyalty to him as Shi’ites.
Although the people of Kufa were under oppressive rule, nevertheless, the Imam said, “There is a treaty between Muawiah and me, and breaking it is not acceptable’’.
While Muawiah tried to pledge allegiance to Yazid, some of the companions’ children (Sahabah’s children) were opposed of it. In a letter to Muawiah, Marwan wrote: “I fear Hossein will be a source of sedition (Fitna) and I think he will cause you a lot of trouble.”
Marwan’s words were accurate; the Imam had a clear vision of what was right and was always frank and honest in expressing himself. There was an occasion, when Muawiah tried to ask for Abdullah Ibn Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib’s daughter’s hand for Yazid and Abdullah consulted with Imam Hossein. The Imam said to him, “Do you want your daughter be his wife while our blood is dripping from their swords? It’s better your daughter be married to your nephew Qasim Ibn Muhammad.”
Muawiah heard of the Imam’s opposition to his rule, however, he gave order to his governor in Medina that while Hossein was quiescent he should not do anything, merely watch him. Muawiah advised the Imam in a letter that he should not cause disruption and sedition, and further advised him not to trust in the people of Iraq. Imam Hossein (PBUH) became angry and replied, “Weren’t you the murderer of Hujr Ibn Adi4 and his followers who prayed to God and who were pious men who fought against oppression and denied self-made religions and feared nothing? ... Was it not you who said unjustly that Ziyad Ibn Sumaye5, who was born in Obeid’s house, was Abu Sufyan’s child? … and, thus, you have left the religious practices prescribed by God’s Messenger’s (Sunat) and disobeyed Him deliberately and obeyed, contrary to God’s guidance, the Your Own Desires (Havaye Nafs). And then you appointed him governor of Araghein where he cut off people’s hands, blinded them and hanged them from palm trees. Was it not you who murdered the two Hadhrami of whom Ziyad frequently wrote to you: “They are followers of Ali.”, and did you not reply that every follower of Ali should be murdered? According to your orders, did he not murder them and cut them into pieces? Is it not true that Ali’s path is one and the same as the path of the Prophet?”
The Imam’s criticisms include the points that those who were murdered by Muawiah, on one hand, were against oppression and, on the other, were against self-made religion. Specifically, they were also pious and virtuous. And then the Imam mentioned some of Muawiah’s and Ziyad’s oppressive actions in Iraq and explicitly demonstrated the point that Muawiah, by claiming a relationship between Ziyad and his father, Abu Sufyan, had left Prophet’s religious practices.
Some aspects of Imam Hossein’s ethics
It is worthwhile giving examples of some of the Imam’s good ethics: one of the Imam’s followers recounts, “We were walking alongside the Imam and then we stopped in front of a house and the Imam asked for water. A servant, with a bowl of water, came out of the house. Before drinking the water, the Imam took off his silver ring and gave it to her and said, ‘’ Give this to your master’’ and only then began to drink.
Passing a platform, the Imam saw some poor people eating food. They offered him their food. The Imam said, “God dislikes the proud.” and then dismounted from his horse and ate their food with them. When he finished his food, he said, “You have invited me and offered your food and I have accepted it; now I invite you; please accept my invitation.” and then he turned to Rubab and told her, “Prepare everything we have”.
Imam Baqir (PBUH) is reported to have said, “Imam Hossein went on Hajj by foot’’.
The Yazid ruling and beginning of Imam Hossein’s Journey.
As his power grew, as a first move, Yazid ordered his governor, Walid Ibn Utba Ibn Abi Sufyan, to pledge the allegiance of the people of Medina to his caliphate and he did this, by starting with Imam Hossein (PBUH)! It is reported in some sources that Yazid tried hard to have these opponents give their allegiance. Other sources inform us that Yazid ordered the Imam’s allegiance otherwise he would have the Imam’s head sent to him.
When Imam Hossein and Ibn Zubayr were at the mosque, Walid called for them to come to the governor’s palace (Dar al Imara). They thought that perhaps Muawiah might have died or there was something of similar gravity that had happened. The Imam returned home, put on his clothes, made ritual ablution (Wudu), prayed two Rakaats and went to the governor’s palace together with nineteen companions taken from the people of his tribe. He said to his companions, “If the situation deteriorates, and you are alerted such as by a suspicious amount of noise or something similar, be prepared.” When they were before the governor of Medina, the pledge allegiance to Yazid was discussed, and the Imam said, “Covert allegiance is not good, overt allegiance is better.” and so he escaped from that situation.
The next morning, the Imam encountered Marwan, and they had an argument. The Imam said, “Have you heard that the Prophet said that Talgha and the Abu Sufyan family rulings are unlawful and forbidden by God (Haram)?” Marwan retorted: “While you are at a disadvantage, you have to pledge allegiance to Yazid.” The Imam said, “O Marwan, keep away from me, truly you are evil and I am Ahl al Bayt6.”
Imam Hossein (PBUH) set off to Mecca and chose night because he wanted not to be harassed by the government.
According to Ibn Aasam, while Imam Hossein was bidding farewell to the Prophet at his tomb, he saw the Prophet in a vision who told him, “O Hossein, I see you are to be killed and beheaded very soon by a group of my nation (Umma) in Karbala desert.”
Again according to A’asam, the Imam wrote a will in favor of his brother in which he gave his main purpose for rising up: “I have not risen up out of bravado, arrogance, or corruption, but I have done so in order to seek reform in the nation of my Grandfather Muhammad. I want to promote virtue and prohibit vice, and I want to follow the path and tradition of my Grandfather Muhammad, and the path of my father Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Imam Hossein (PBUH) set off to Mecca by night because he did not want to be harassed by the government and as he was leaving Medina on the 27th of Rajab in 60 A.H, he recited this verse from the Quran which is about Moses leaving Pharaoh and Egypt: “So he left it, fearful and filled with apprehension. He said, "My Lord, save me from the wrongdoing of people.” (28:21)
On the 28th of Rajab, Imam Hossein (PBUH) traveled from Medina to Mecca and, on the 3rd of Sha’ban, a Friday night and his birthday, he arrived in Mecca. Upon the arrival of the Imam in Mecca, the people were delighted and surrounded him from morning to night. He stayed in Mecca for more than four months, from the 3rd of Sha’ban to the 8th of Dhu al Hijjah.
Kufa Shi’ites and invitation from Imam Hossein (PBUH)
The city of Mecca was no longer a Shi’ite city. The passion towards the Imam was just sentiment, therefore, there was no future for the Imam in this city. The important cities for him were in Iraq, particularly Kufa and Basra. One third of Kufa was Shi’ite and there were also a good number of Shi’ites living in Basra. Thus, Kufa was an important city which, at that time, was ruled by Nu’man Ibn Bashir Ibn Sa’ad, a supporter and follower of Uthman7 and one of Ansar’s8 sons (Helper’s son).
Furthermore, the Kufa Shi’ites had been awaiting the death of Muawiah for many years and now they felt that the only option left to them was to invite Imam Hossein (PBUH). Having heard of the Imam’s refusal to pledge allegiance to Yazid, and having prepared themselves to fight against him, the Kufa Shi’ites decided to bring the Imam to Kufa. They had gathered in Sulayman Ibn Surad’s house and were aware of Hossein’s movements and his arrival in Mecca. They said, “We will write a letter to Hossein and invite him to come to Kufa.” And thus the correspondence began.
Sulayman, who was a man of some experience, did not like the idea of his writing a letter personally and wanted many letters to be written. This, then, would involve all of them in the invitation. According to clear accounts from all historians, many letters were indeed written and sent to Imam Hossein. Each group wrote a letter, and all members signed and sent their invitation to the Imam. Apart from some prominent Shi’ites, there were, among these signatories, some opportunist aristocrats who had also participated in this correspondence such as Shabath Ibn Rab’i, Hajjar bin Abjar Ajali, etc. These men would later fight in front line of Kufa army against Imam Hossein at Karbala after realizing that the Shi’ite movement would fail. These opportunists had written a letter together, which suggested that they had resurrected their old allegiance with an intention of conspiring against the Imam.
For the most part, the contents of these letters were the same and their subject matter was the same as Sulayman Ibn Surad’s own letter, which was:
“Thanks be to God for defeating the tyrant enemy; the enemy who rebelled against this nation; took possession of people’s properties by force, and ruled them against their will; the enemy who killed the best people and spared the worst, and shared the property of God among the rich men;… But we have no Imam, so come to us and God may unite us on the path of truth under the aegis of your religious leadership (Imamate).”
After receiving many letters, the number of signatories of which indicated that 12,000 people would welcome the Imam’s arrival in Kufa, the Imam, who had been silent during this time, gave a reply to their request. This reply was, additionally, an attempt to understand the situation in Kufa and also to establish how determined the Shi’ites of Kufa were. In his letter to the people of Kufa, who claimed that they had no Imam, Hossein replied, “I am sending my cousin who is one of the most trusted members of my family. He is Muslim Ibn Aqeel9 and will report to me on your affairs. If his report agrees with what you have written, I will soon be with you.” Then Imam added, “You must be clear on the fact that the Imam is the only one who follows the book of Allah, and serves Allah, in all matters and affairs, with justice, honesty and truth.”
Muslim Ibn Aqeel travels to Kufa
At that time, Muslim, who was the bravest of Aqeel’s sons, was nearly 45 years old. He set off from Mecca to Medina where he hired two men to guide him on his journey to Iraq. The date of his departure was the 15th of Ramadan in 60 A.H and he arrived in Kufa on the 5th of Shawwal in 60 A.H. As soon as he arrived in Kufa, Shi’ites began to visit him and pledged allegiance to him as the envoy of the Imam (PBUH). The pledge of allegiance that they took was to follow the Book of Allah and God Messenger’s religious practices and traditions: to fight against tyrants, to defend the oppressed, and to share trophies fairly. According to historians, 12,000 to 18,000 people pledged allegiance to Muslim. He remained in the city until was martyred on the 8th of Dhu al Hijjah.
As mentioned, some Shi’ites also lived in Basra and Imam Hossein (PBUH) sent some letters there. These were carried by the Imam’s servant, Sulayman. The governor of Basra, Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad10, was informed of Sulayman’s arrival and took him captive and hanged him.
While in Kufa, Muslim concluded that the situation did require the Imam’s presence and he wrote a letter to Imam Hossein and asked him to proceed without delay and as quickly as he could, lest the supporters of the Umayyad Caliphate11 made trouble in the city of Kufa.
At the same time, some followers of the Umayyad regime, such as Umar Ibn Sa’ad 12 and Muhammad Ibn Asha’as Ibn Qays, reported on the situation in Kufa to Yazid. They informed him that Muslim was in Kufa and that the Shi’ites had pledged allegiance to him. They claimed that if the Umayyad regime wanted to save Kufa, Yazid would need to send a strong and determined person who would act as he himself would.
Yazid, therefore, appointed Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad, who was then governor of Basra, as governor of Kufa. Ibn Ziyad’s brutality changed the situation in Kufa dramatically. He cunningly united the aristocrats and took control of Kufa mercilessly. The people deserted Muslim and he was alone. Finally, he was hidden in the house of a woman called Tau’aa but her son betrayed him to guards; Muslim was arrested and martyred.
On the same day upon which Muslim was martyred, the 8th of Dhu al Hijjah, The Day of Tarwiyah13, Imam Hossein performed Umrat Mufradah and set off from Mecca to Iraq as quickly as he could.
In the last month of the Imam’s time in Mecca and as his departure to Kufa drew near, there had been many people who were opposed to his traveling. Some of the followers of Umayyad regime had asked him to follow the example of the current Imam and avoid any hint of sedition. Others, based on the history of the people of Kufa in breaking their allegiance to Imam Mojtaba’s (Imam Hassan) negotiated peace, had said that the people of Kufa were not trustworthy. Yet others had tried to discourage him from going to Iraq by saying that, presently, the people were only concerned with money and gold.
On the one hand, as it was possible that Imam could secure victory in Kufa, these people could have been influenced by the Umayyad regime to give this advice to the Imam. On the other, it was also possible that these people advised the Imam out of fear of the regime or political loyalty. Naturally, the Imam’s interpretation of the situation, especially after reading Muslim’s letter, was different. However, due to the political changes that had occurred in Kufa, especially replacement of its governor, the situation had deteriorated and had resulted in martyrdom of the Imam.
It is clear that the Imam’s understanding at the time was accurate but the situation in Kufa had altered for the worst.
Imam Hossein from Kufa to Karbala
Imam Hossein left Mecca with 19 people from the Abdul Muttalib tribe and nearly 60 from Kufa among whom were both sheikhs14 and young people. Some historians reported that, in fact, 82 people accompanied him during his journey from Mecca to Iraq. Most historians accept that the day of the Imam’s departure from Mecca was the 8th of Dhu al Hijjah, which is Tarwiyah day, and the same day upon which Muslim was arrested and martyred.
In Tane’em, Imam Hossein (PBUH) encountered a caravan from Yemen that was carrying gifts and presents from the Umayyad governor of Yemen to Yazid. The Imam seized the caravan and gave the members the choice of accompanying him to Kufa or simply going on their way. Some of the caravan party accompanied him part of the way and three of them stayed with him and completed the journey to Karbala.
The Imam passed through 20 towns and villages between Mecca and Karbala; some historical sources mentioned their names and the events which took place in them. In Sifah and Zat Irq, the Imam tried to recruit people by explaining the nature of his cause. In Zat Irq, a man called Beshr Ibn Qaleb Asadi came to the Imam and described Kufa as a confused and disorganized city: the Imam agreed with him. Next, he asked the Imam about a verse from the Quran: “[Mention, O Muhammad], the Day We will call forth every people with their record [of deeds].”(17:71). Imam replied: “O my brother Asadi, we have two kinds of Imam: the first who guides people along straight path, the second who guides people along the wrong path. The one who follows the first goes to Paradise and one who follows the latter goes to hell. Beshr Ibn Qaleb did not accompany Imam Hossein; he was seen later crying on the Imam’s tomb amidst deep regrets that had not accompanied the Imam.
During the journey, in the town of Sa’labia, a man came to the Imam and asked about the purpose of his journey. He replied, “The Umayyad regime stole my property and I waited; they cursed me and I tolerated it; they wanted to kill me and I escaped. Be aware that I will be killed by a group of the rebels and God will humiliate them and they will be overthrown.”
Before he had heard of the martyrdom of Muslim, Imam Hossein had sent first one envoy, then another to Kufa to bring news from Muslim. The first envoy was Abdullah Ibn Boqtor, the Imam’s foster brother. The other was Qays Ibn Musahir Saidawi: both of them were captured and martyred by Ibn Ziyad’s guards. A letter from the Imam reads, “Muslim ibn Aqeel's letter reached me. In it, he informs me of your consensus to support us and, by this, to demand our rights. I have written this letter in Batn Al Romma and I will join you very soon.” It was in this letter that the Imam explicitly mentioned that he had left Mecca on the 8th of Dhu al Hijjah; the day of Tarwiyah.
The news of Muslim’s and Hani’s martyrdom was the worst and most saddening news that came out of reports of the situation in Kufa. The Imam heard the news during his journey; it was brought to him by a man from Bani Asad (Asad tribe) who said, “In the bazaar at Kufa, I was witness to their dead bodies being dragged along the ground.”
After receiving the News of the Martyrdom of Muslim
Having heard that the Imam had set off, Yazid wrote a letter to Ibn Ziyad and informed him that Kufa would soon be facing unrest. Therefore, he asked Ziyad to control Kufa closely, and furthermore, to hand out some of the treasury’s wealth to those who were obedient and submissive to the Umayyad regime.
He also threatened him that if he could not control the situation, he would be dismissed and his ancestry would record that he had been a member of the former Ubayd in Saqif family. Yazid instructed Ibn Ziyad to employ more spies and guards to watch and arrest any persons suspected of supporting the Imam. From historical accounts, we are aware that Ibn Ziyad had already been successful in breaking up Muslim’s support-base, and in arresting and martyring him.
The news that the Imam received of Muslim’s martyrdom came with other news of Ibn Ziyad’s atrocities. This intelligence indicated that the situation in Kufa had now changed. But here, from the discussions seen in the letters, the invitations and pledges of allegiance, we can see an important aspect: there were many Shi’ites in Kufa and still the hope was that if they encountered the Imam, they would support him. Upon receiving the news of the martyrdom of Muslim and Hani, some of the Imam’s companions encouraged him by saying, “You are not like Muslim. If you go to Kufa, people will join you.’’
After receiving the news of Muslim’s martyrdom, the Imam gathered his followers and told them, “You are aware of the situation; it seems to me, these people [in Kufa] will abandon me. So anyone who wants to leave may do so.” Most of those who had joined him during the course of the journey left him but those who had joined him in Mecca, plus a few of those recruited on the journey did stay with him. At that time, it was recorded that they had 32 horses.
Following the martyrdom of Muslim and Hani, there was violence, reprisals and enforced compliance with Ibn Ziyad’s rule in Kufa. Ibn Ziyad well understood the danger that the Shi’ites of Kufa could pose and ordered that the entire city of Kufa be secured. To prevent the Imam reaching, or communicating with, the Kufa Shi’ites to restrict any Shi’ites leaving to join the Imam, and also to prevent suspects from escaping, Ibn Ziyad ordered that guards be placed on all bridges to control the people travelling in and out of the city, and so it was done. Ibn Ziyad further ordered the area between Damascus Gate and Basra Gate be watched and, here, no one was allowed to enter or exit.
Ibn Ziyad dispatched an army of 4,000 soldiers under the command of Hosayn Ibn Numair to protect southern areas of Kufa. Among his forces was the army of Hurr15comprising 1,000 soldiers that would later encounter the Imam. Hosayn Ibn Numair’s orders were to prevent anyone travelling to the Hijaz area to join the Imam, as it was known that elements within Hijaz had allied themselves with the Imam upon his arrival there. These precautions resulted in suspects being found and arrested in Kufa and some of them were hanged as an example to others.
On his journey, the Imam heard from local Arabs that movement in and around Kufa was impossible. The Imam saw how desperate the situation was and turned to his companions and again made the offer, “Anyone who wants to leave may do so.” Some of them did leave but those who had accompanied him from Hijaz, stayed with him. Those who left him were Arabs who had joined him on the journey, and who, at the time, thought that the Imam would gain victory but now doubted it. Zuhayr Ibn Qayn16, who joined the Imam before the news of Muslim’s martyrdom, stayed with the Imam and was himself martyred.
Imam Hossein and the Encounter with Hurr Ibn Yazid Riahi
As the Imam was moving towards Kufa, he encountered the opposition: the one thousand-strong army led by Hurr Ibn Yazid Riahi, which formed a quarter of Hosayn Ibn Numair’s army. When Hurr’s army reached the Imam, the Imam, who anticipated popular support in Kufa, asked Hurr, “Are you for us or against us?” Hurr replied, “We are against you.”
He explained to the Imam that his mission was to accompany the Imam back to Kufa. The Imam refused to go to Kufa and resolved to return to Hijaz. Hurr could not agree to allow this but added, “I am not ordered to fight so I have no choice but to await further orders.” The army thus prevented the progress of the Imam and his followers, and Hurr’s army waited.
Once or twice, the Imam turned to his companions and repeated his offer to Hurr that, if he wished, they would leave and return to the Hijaz. He explained, “We Ahl al Bayt (of the Household of the Prophet (PBUH)) are principally charged with leading the people against these tyrants and hypocrites.” The Imam continued, “If you reject me and do not recognize the straight path to Paradise and your ideas are different from those that have been written in the letters I received, we will return forthwith.”
The Imam now left the scene of the encounter with Hurr’s army and, with that army following and watching them at a distance, set out towards the Hijaz. Hurr now changed the Imam’s course and the Imam made towards Qadesie, continuing to move away from Kufa. He continued until he reached Bayzah. There, he gave a speech in which he spoke of the need to fight against tyrannical rulers who would try to turn things that God condemned as unlawful (Haram) into the lawful (Halal), who would corrupt, cancel Hudud17 and loot the treasury.
It is reported that the Imam gave other speeches as rhetorical sermons (Khutbah18). In these, the Imam told of the face of the world being changed from good to evil… then, as he reminded them that human life is short, he said, “Can’t you see that none follow The Truth and none resist The False?...to fight against this is to die a martyr, and to live with tyrants is to suffer.”
To show his agreement with the Imam, Zuhayr stood up and said, “If the world were to stand for ever and if, thus, supporting you makes us mortal, again we would rather to stay with you.”
During this time, Kufa Shi’ites, one by one or in small groups of two or three, had been joining the Imam. On the 28th of Dhu al Hijjah in 60 A.H, a group of four people, among whom was Nafe Ibn Hilal, was yearning to join the Imam. Hurr wanted to arrest them to prevent this. The Imam said, “In that case, I am obliged to defend them because they are my disciples and followers. According to our agreement, you are not expected to hinder me.”
This group of four’s joining the Imam raised hopes that maybe others would join the Imam, but the security imposed on all roads and paths made this impossible and, even worse, Termah Ibn Uday Ibn Hatam Tae’e, who came from Kufa, told the Imam that he had seen numerous people in Kufa who were ready to come to Karbala to fight against the Imam. He advised, “It would be better for you, before you encounter another huge army, to fight Hurr’s army now, even if they are one thousand strong.” The Imam rejected his advice and replied, “Hurr and I have made a promise to each other and I will not break it. Furthermore, no one knows what the future holds.”
The Order of Ibn Ziyad to stop the Imam in Karbala and insisting on Allegiance or Battle
In his first letter to Hurr, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad had ordered him to stop the Imam in a remote desert area and when he sent Umar Ibn Sa’ad to join Hurr, he said to him, “Position your troops so as to prevent the Imam from reaching the water of the Euphrates river.” The enemy’s plan had begun. But everyone in the Imam’s army was free to leave. Faras Ibn Ja’ade Makhzumi, who was one of distant relatives of the Imam, thought the situation dangerous, so he asked the Imam for his agreement to leave; the Imam allowed him to leave and he left the army at night.
As the Imam was riding past The Palace of Bani Maqatil, he had a dream. In that dream, he saw a rider who said that the Imam’s convoy was going towards death. The Imam woke up and recited this verse of Quran: “God to Him we shall return.” Ali Akbar, the Imam’s elder son, asked the Imam why he had recited this verse. The Imam replied, “Our death is near.” Ali Akbar asked, “Are we following the Right path?” The Imam replied, “Yes.” Ali Akbar said, “I'm not afraid of a noble death.” The Imam said, “May God donate to you the best award which a father can donate to his son.”
On his journey, the Imam had been trying to keep to the desert and distance his party from Kufa in the direction of the Hijaz but Hurr prevented this and the party found themselves approaching Karbala. As they approached Karbala, Hurr received Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s letter which read: “Stop him in a desert area where there is no cover.” Additionally, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad had given responsibility to the messenger carrying the letter to ensure that his order was carried out. The Imam asked for permission to camp in the village of Nineveh or Qazerie but Hurr refused this. Finally, they stopped in an area of the desert without water or shelter. Zuhayr asked the Imam to begin the battle because the enemy army was few but the Imam would not allow it and said, “We do not begin to fight save they begin first.”
The Imam (PBUH) on the 2nd of Muharram in 61 A.H camped in Karbala. He raised a tent for himself and his children, and the rest of his family raised tents around him. It was here that the Imam said to his followers, “People are slaves to worldly things. Religion is superficial for them and whenever they are in need, they follow the religion but when they think that their own resources are sufficient, the followers of religion are few.” He asked his family to moderate their mourning when he died, as he certainly would, by refraining from excessive or exaggerated displays of grief.
According to Ibn Sa’ad’s19 account, 50 people accompanied the Imam to Karbala, a further 20 from Kufa had been recruited to the Imam’s cause and there were 19 people from his family who accompanied him. Other sources mentioned that there were 45 mounted soldiers and 100 infantry men with him: Imam Baqir reports the same. According to Ya’qubi20, when Umar Ibn Sa’ad came to Karbala with an army of 4,000 of soldiers, there were 62 or 72 people in the Imam’s company.
When Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad heard from Hurr that the Imam had made camp not far from Karbala, he wrote a letter to the Imam which reads, “O Hossein! Yazid, the Amir Al Mu’minin, has ordered me not to sleep nor eat well until I kill you or you are made to comply with Yazid’s orders.” When the Imam received the letter, he threw it away and did not reply, but said, “Those who seek God’s subject’s (servant’s) compliance at the cost of God’s wrath, will not prosper.” As he did not receive a reply to the letter, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad burst into anger and appointed Umar Ibn Sa’ad, who was to be the governor of Rey, to fight against the Imam. At first, Umar would not accept this mission but, as he was about to have the offer of governorship of Rey withdrawn, and even though his clan, Banu Zuhra21, were opposed to this mission as they were part of the Quraysh22 tribe, he agreed and accepted it.
The Kufa army was fully assembled on the 6th of Muharram in Karbala and sources tell us that it had, at least initially, comprised a total of 35,000 men, although it was quite possible that not all reached the battlefield, as there was a tendency for many troops to desert on the march. Generally, the commanders were chosen from among the Kufa aristocrats and tribal Sheikhs whom the Umayyad regime traditionally tried to attract by offering them compliant tribesmen as their soldiery. Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad gave generous financial support to these sheikhs and aristocrats and now expected them to be prepared to join with Umar Ibn Sa’ad’s army to kill Imam Hossein. At the time, it was customary for these aristocrats to play an important role by providing diversionary tactics
What were the Kufa Shi’ites doing?
What was the disposition of the Kufa Shi’ites when Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s army set off to Karbala?
During the five days, between the Imam’s arrival in Karbala and the time that Kufa’s huge army of an estimated 22,000 to 28,000 men arrived at the battlefield, the Shi’ites were in a state of disarray as they had no central figure to unite them. This was the same problem that they had had when Muslim Ibn Aqeel was martyred in Kufa. The fear of Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s security forces, which were ruthless in killing any suspected opposition, forced them to stay indoors, and little thought was given to anything other than preserving their own lives from the regime. A further reason for staying at home was the fear that they would be forcibly recruited into the Kufa army to fight against the Imam. Not all of the Shi’ite men of military age were successful in evading recruitment or fleeing from the city. It is therefore not surprising that, as stated above, of those who marched out of Kufa along with the army, many Shi’ites deserted on the road. It was far from unknown that a commander with an army of 1,000 men would set off but when his troops approached Karbala, there would be fewer than 300 or 400 remaining: the indications are that many were reluctant to join this battle.
Harsama Ibn Salim, an Imam Ali Shi’ite, was one of those who found himself on the road to Karbala and deserted. He recalled that, years before, Imam Ali and he were heading for the Battle of Siffin, and had passed along that very road when Imam Ali had picked up a handful of Karbala soil and said, “Blessed are you O soil! There are those who will be mustered upon you who will enter Heaven without being judged there.” Ibn Salim said, “When I reached Karbala with the army, I went to Imam Hossein and told him the story and I said to him that I did not want to take sides for or against him.” The Imam replied, “Escape from here and do not be witness to my death because God will burn in hell all who witness my death.” Ibn Salim said, “Then I departed from Karbala.”
Nevertheless, there were individual Shi’ites joining the Imam’s army until the last day. One of them was Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi, a warrior (Mujahid) who had fought against blasphemers. When he saw that a group of people in Kufa Nokhayla were preparing themselves for the fight against the Imam, he said, “My desire was to fight against blasphemers but now I felt that fighting against those who want to fight against the Imam had a greater claim upon me.” Then he went to his house and shared his idea with his wife23. His wife supported him and said, “You are right. I will come with you also.” Both of them left Kufa at night and joined the Imam’s army.
At the same time, Habib Ibn Muzahir (Mazahir), a prominent Kufa Shi’ite, also joined the Imam’s army. He had tried to recruit some people from the Banu Asad clan who were living nearby and had been successful in persuading them but then, before the process was complete, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s army arrived and this put an end to his efforts. In another case, Muslim Ibn Ausajah, a native Kufa Shi’ite, succeeded in joining the Imam.
It can thus be concluded that if Kufa Shi’ites wanted to join the Imam, it was possible and there were even instances of troops of the Kufa army marching to Karbala and then going across to the Imam once they were there.
A further sign of Shi’ite resistance was when Ammar Ibn Abi Salama Dalani tried, unsuccessfully, to assassinate Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad in Nokhayle, he and managed to escape to join the Imam. On his way, he came up against Zahar Ibn Qays’ troops, who were en route to Karbala; he engaged them courageously and progressed to Karbala and joined the Imam.
The Beginning of the suppression of Imam Hossein’s army
According to the historian Baladhuri24, three days before the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, in accordance with Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s order of the 7th of Muharram, the Imam’s army was held at a distance from the Euphrates and allowed no access to water. It is reported that although the Imam dug behind his tent, and some water was found, the supply was meager and it was soon exhausted. Another account, in a letter written to Umar Ibn Sa’ad, reads, “I have heard that Hossein and his companions have had access to water; they have dug some wells. As soon as you receive this letter, prevent them from well-digging if at all possible and, at all costs, do not allow them access to water from the Euphrates.” This letter indicates that digging wells by the Imam was probably unsuccessful.
On the 9th day, as the caravan was desperate for water, the Imam dispatched a troop of 20 men, commanded by Abbas Ibn Ali25, the Imam’s brother, and among whom was Nafe Ibn Hilal. Each man carried a water container and their objective was to pass through Amr Ibn Hajjaj’s lines and return with supplies. When this group approached the river, Amr Ibn Hajjaj and a few of his men were standing before them; Nafe went forward.
Amr asked, “What is your reason for coming here?” Hajjaj answered, “To get water’’. Amr said, “Only you are allowed to drink.” Nafe replied, “Would it be right for me to drink whilst the Imam remains thirsty?” In defiance, the group moved towards the river and Amr’s men attempted to prevent them but they were beaten off and Abbas’ troop successfully filled, and returned with, their water containers.
The Imam’s discussions with Umar Ibn Sa’ad
There were some negotiations that took place between the Imam and Umar Ibn Sa’ad alone. In these discussions, the Imam emphasized his willingness and desire to return to Hijaz and that he wanted to resolve the whole situation for the better by departing as soon as possible from Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad’s territory.
It is claimed by some that in these accounts the Imam said, “Allow me either to return, or to go to Yazid and pledge allegiance to him, or to go to one of border regions and stay there to defend the frontier.” Uqba Ibn Sama’n rejects this version of events and said, “From Medina to Mecca and from Mecca to Iraq, I was with him until he martyred. I heard everything that he said. I swear to God that he would never ever have said this sentence, which is only famous among people who think that it is true. He never said it. The only thing he said was: “I will proceed into this wide land and see what becomes of the people.”
It is possible that Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad heard that this discussion had taken place, because it is known that he wrote a letter to Ibn Sa’ad which read, “I did not send you to converse with Hossein and to be his companion.”
It is clear from all accounts that a discussion did take place between these two and that it took place in the middle of the battlefield at a point between the two armies. However, as there were no witnesses and the sole participants were the Imam and Umar Ibn Sa’ad, no one knows what was said, although some theories, based upon subsequent actions, have been given by various historians.
Whatever the details of the matter, finally, Umar Ibn Sa’ad rejected the Imam’s request for there to be no fighting, and the Imam put a curse in him.
Umar Ibn Sa’ad once again wrote an account to Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad of the Imam’s saying that he (the Imam) was ready to pledge allegiance to Yazid or to reside in a border area. The content of his letter has been studied but the issue remains that, after stating his version of the Imam’s proposals, he wrote, “They will please you and are in the interests of the nation (Umma).”
Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was about to accept the proposals but Shimr Ibn Dhi’l Jawshan talked him out of it by saying, “If Hossein Ibn Ali were allowed to leave, it would be hard to find him again.”
Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad accepted this argument and sent Shimr Ibn Dhi’l Jawshan to Umar Ibn Sa’ad with orders to tell Imam Hossein, “Your only option is to accept Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad ’s word as law.” Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad words to Shimr before he left were, “If Umar Ibn Sa’ad is at all doubtful about fighting, tell him that I will substitute you for him.”
When Imam Hossein heard these words, he burst into anger and responded with, “I swear to God that I won’t do it; dying is sweeter and easier than doing this.”
The Decision to do Battle on the Evening of Tasu’a26.
Shimr arrived at Karbala on the 9th of Muharram in the evening and delivered the final message that Ibn Ziyad had addressed to Umar Ibn Sa’ad. Umar Ibn Sa’ad expressed his feelings of contempt towards Shimr because it was he who had persuaded Ziyad not to change his mind, and Umar Ibn Sa’ad announced, “I swear to God that Hossein will not surrender and without doubt there will be a war. I will be Commander-In-Chief and you will be Commander of the Infantry.” Umar Ibn Sa’ad sent Ibn Ziyad’s message to the Imam. The message stated that the Imam should be surrender unconditionally, to which the Imam replied, “I swear to God that I will never agree nor will I shake hands with Ibn Marjana (Ibn Ziyad).”
At more or less the same time, Shimr, who was from Banu Kalb tribe, which was the same tribe as Imam Ali’s wife, Umm al-Banin, brought a safe conduct for Imam Hossein’s brother Abbas and his other brothers. Abbas rejected the offer saying, “We do not need your safe conduct. God’s safe conduct is much better than Ibn Ziyad’s.” In another account, it is reported that all four brothers replied, “Do you just give us safe conduct while The Prophet’s grandson is not given safe conduct?”
On the evening of Tasu’a, after saying prayers, Ibn Ziyad gave the order to Umar ibn Sa'ad to have his cavalry mount their horses and ride into battle against the Imam. The mounted soldiers started to approach the Imam’s camp but Abbas, along with 20 other people from the Imam’s army, among them, Zuhayr Ibn Qayn and Habib Ibn Muzahir came out to meet them.
The purpose of the meeting was to request, on behalf of the Imam, the postponement of the battle to allow for prayers. After some discussion, this was granted and the Imam and his caravan were able to pray. At that meeting, someone said to Zuhayr, “Weren’t you a follower of Uthman?” Zuhayr agreed but added, “Of course and I did not write or sign a letter to the Imam but when I saw that you were betraying him, breaking your promise and favoring worldly things, I saw it as my duty to support him and join him so as to preserve the rights of the Prophet which you were ignoring and destroying.” Habib Ibn Muzahir, who was also there, said, “Those who kill the Prophet’s descendant, who kill virtuous men and kill those who keep vigil in this city, are evil.”
The night of Ashura
On the night of the Ashura, the Imam gathered his household and companions. First he said prayers and extolled God. He then thanked God for gifting his family with the Prophethood (Nubuwwah). Then he said, “Tomorrow there will be a battle; if you want, you are free to use the darkness of night and leave here. The enemy is looking for me and me alone; if the enemy catches me, they won’t hurt you. His family replied, “May God bring death upon us at your death. We swear to God that we will not abandon you until all that happens to you, happens to us.” The companions gave the same answer; the Imam prayed for them and asked that God might grant them entry to Heaven.
The offer, freely given, to release any who might wish to depart, was given because they had pledged allegiance to the Imam but they could not have foreseen this situation, and thus the Imam allowed for the breaking of the allegiance.
At night, Muslim Ibn Ausajah, Saeed Ibn Abdullah Hanafi and other followers gave speeches. Muslim said, “I will stay beside you until my spear is broken in their chests; as long as my sword is in my hand I will fight, and if I lose my sword, I will defend you with stones until I die.” Saeed Hanafi said that he would wish to be revived 70 times and die again each time to be able to defend his Imam. Zuhayr spoke, “I swear to God that would die and be revived only to die yet again until I have killed 1000 men. By my death, may God protect you, and the young people of your family.” From the Imam’s family, Abbas and, after him, others, gave speeches. This gathering was held a little before the Kufa army’s return. The Imam in his sermon, said to his companions and family, “I do not know of a better family and better companions on earth.”
On the night of Ashura, the companions raised their tent close to each other and crossed and re-crossed the ropes to hinder the Kufa army from passing between the tents. This was done so that the enemy had access to only one side of the Imam’s camp. The tents had been arranged in a horseshoe, and the Shi’ites were safe to both the rear and the sides and the enemy could only attack from the front. At midnight, all of them kept vigil, said prayers, praised God and did penance to God. As an additional precaution, around the tents, ditches were dug and wood and other combustible materials were placed into them. The intention was to create defensive lines of fire on the morning of Ashura to prevent the enemy from passing.
According to historical accounts, at some time during Ashura, between 20 and 30 soldiers of the Kufa army joined the Imam. At that night, Borair Ibn Khozair, one the Imam’s companions, told a joke to one of the Imam companions; The companion told Khozair that it was not a good time for joking, he replied, “All of my friends know that I have not made jokes or played tricks either in my youth or now when I am older, but now I am aware that between Heaven and me there is only one blow of a Kufan’s sword. I would like to be hit by this sword swiftly.”
The day of Ashura
After morning prayers, Umar Ibn Sa’ad positioned his army. The hierarchy of the army was on tribal lines: each tribe had their own commander. The total number of the enemy that were before the Imam was 22,000, neither more nor less.
Imam Hossein positioned his army in the morning of Ashura with their tents to the rear. There is no consensus about the size of the Imam’s army among the historians. Baladhuri wrote, “There were 32 horsemen and 40 infantrymen.” Zuhayr Ibn Qayn was the commander of the right flank of the army and Habib Ibn Muzahir was the commander of the left flank, and Abbas was the standard bearer. Baladhuri wrote, “Overall there was somewhere in the region of 100 men.”
Before the beginning of the battle, the Imam ordered his men to set fire to the ditch to prevent the enemy from approaching from the rear of the tents. Shimr, who was brazen and without shame, asked the Imam, “Are you in hurry to enter the fire?” The Imam replied, “When it comes to entering the fire, you will be first.” Hearing this exchange, Muslim Ibn Ausajah asked for the Imam’s permission to release an arrow at Shimr; Imam said, “I do not want to be the one who starts this battle.”
On the morning of Ashura, from Ibn Ziyad’s army came the cry, “O Army of God, mount your horses.” Meanwhile, the Imam, after saying the morning prayers, invited his companions to be virtuous, patient, and to accept jihad.
As the battle was about to begin, Imam Hossein (PBUH) lifted his head towards the sky and prayed, “O God, You are my shelter in the darkness and my hope in every difficulty. For everything that happens to me, You are my savior and shelter. There are many sorrows that hurt the heart and decrease hope and even friends cannot help you nor make the enemy happy. I resort to You from among these sorrows for I simply loved You truly and no one else. Thus You are the owner of every blessing and source of all goodness and You are beyond every dream [and You are He Who makes them come true].” And then he went to battle. He got on his horse; put Quran in front of him, and then the battle had begun.
As the two armies confronted each other, the Imam asked Borair Ibn Khozair to speak to the enemy and to talk with them logically. Borair turned to Kufans and said, “Now the Muhammad’s grandchild is before you; these people are His descendents, household and Harem. What do you want from them?” They replied, “To surrender to Ibn Ziyad.” Borair said, “Do you not accept that they would return right now? Have forgotten that it was you who sent letters and the Imam has come because of your letters? Isn’t it true that you prevented them from drinking the water which all people drink? You are behaving badly towards the descendents of the Prophet; God will give you no water on Doomsday and you will remain thirsty.” The enemy did nothing but mock and laugh.
The Imam addressed the Kufans personally, “After receiving your letters in which you wrote that the religious practices of the Prophet were in disarray, that rebellion had emerged, and Hudud had not been practiced, I came here. You asked me to come to guide Muhammad’s (PBUH) nation (Umma). And I came here. Is it desirable to shed my blood? Am I not your Prophet’s daughter’s son? Are not Hamza, Abbas and J’afar my uncles? Have not you heard of the Prophet’s sayings about my brother and me in which he said, “Hassan and Hossein are Masters of the Youth of Paradise.’’? If you agree with me that this saying is authentic, I have nothing else to say, if not, you can ask Jabir Ibn Abdullah27, Abu Sa’id Khudri28, Anas Ibn Malik29 and Zayd Ibn Arqam.”
Qais Ibn Asha’as Ibn Qais asked, “Do you not want to accept Ibn Ziyad’s decree?” The Imam replied, “I swear to God that I will not shake hand with him like one of those whom he humiliated and I will not escape like a slave.” By saying this, the intention of the Imam was to introduce himself to those who didn’t know him and to make them think about their unworthy actions and poor behavior, and, in fact, to give them their final choice. The members of the Harem who heard of the Imam speech wept, and the Imam sent Abbas, his brother to calm them.
In the speeches of the morning of the Ashura, Imam said this, “Ibn Ziyad wants one of two things from me, death or humiliation and I will never accept the latter.’’
Hurr Ibn Riahi was one of few people who had been influenced by the Imam’s speeches. After listening of the Imam’s sermon, Hur went to Umar Ibn Sa’ad and said, “Do you really want fight against this man? Do you not accept any of his proposals?’’ Umar Ibn Sa’ad replied, “If I were the decision maker, I would say yes to him.” Hurr said, “Glorified is God! How terrible it is that Hossein Ibn Ali makes these requests and you reject them all.” After that he went over to the Imam’s side. When Hurr reached to the Imam, he said, “I am the one who treated you badly. Now I am here to sacrifice my life for you. Do you believe that is it possible for me to repent?” The Imam said, “Yes, You can repent and so I pronounce that you will become a seeker after liberty and prosperity just as you became Hurr30.
A person named Umar from Banu Tamim, released the first arrow which hit the Imam’s shoulder but the Imam’s armor protected him.
Zuhayr turned to Kufans and said, “O God’s servants! Fatima’s son (Imam Hossein) stands in rank before Sumaye’s son31 and requires aid. If you will not help him, then allow him to talk to Yazid personally; Yazid will be pleased with you for your obedience, even if you do not kill him (The Imam).’’
Shimr shot an arrow at him and called out, “Be quite.” Zuhayr replied, “Shimr! I curse you to the fires of hell.” Shimr said, “May God kill you and your companions right now.”
According to Abu Mikhnaf, the classical historian, Zuhayr said the following which is of great importance, “Before this, we were a single and united nation and we had the same religion and we were brothers at a time when there were no swords between us and a time that you were able to listen to our advice but, when the swords came, you broke the respect between us. From now on you have your own nation (Umma) and we have ours.”
When Shimr threatened Zuhayr with killing him, Zuhayr said, “Are you trying to frighten me with death? Death is much better than living beside you.’’ Then Zuhayr turned to the people and said, “You should not be deceived by this fool; understand that Hossein’s murderers –the murderers of the descendant of the Prophet - are deprived of the intercession of the Prophet at Doomsday.”
Then a man from the Imam companions shouted at Zuhayr, “Hossein said that you should return, you have fulfilled your duty by giving them advice.”
In the last moments before the battle started in earnest, the Imam called Umar Ibn Sa’ad but he was reluctant to come to the Imam, although he did finally come. The Imam said to him, “Are you fighting against me only so you may have the governorship of Rey? Be aware that, after my death, you will have no joyous or happy days and there will be hard times ahead of you in this world and the hereafter.”
The Beginning of the Battle and the Martyrdom of the Imam’s Army.
The two returned to their respective sides and then Umar ibn Sa'ad turned, advanced and fired an arrow towards Hussein ibn Ali's army, saying: "Give evidence before the governor that I was the first to start the battle." He turned to Kufans and said, “What are you waiting for? They are easy targets for you.” As Umar Ibn Sa’ad released the arrow, his army began to fire their bows also. Kufan arrows rained down upon the Imam and his supporters. The Imam said, “These arrows are the envoys of the enemy; prepare yourself for death: it is inevitable.”
Although Alfotouh puts the total martyred at “50 or more”, Ibn Shahrashub32, the scholar, actually listed the names of those who were martyred in this first attack. They comprised 28 fighting men plus 10 of Imam Ali’s descendants. The latter were those who, for one reason or another, were unable to fight and who were martyred by the first wave of arrows.
The martyrdom of so many in this first attack, left only a few of the Imam’s followers who could face Ibn Ziyad’s army in single combat. Among those who did survive the arrows was Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi who, eager to fight and encouraged by his wife, went into single combat after asking the permission of the Imam to fight personally against Yassar, the descendant of Ziyad Ibn Sufyan. However, the first to seek permission from the Imam had been Habib Ibn Muzahir and Borair Ibn Khozair but the Imam forbade them and only after Abdullah Ibn Umair had been allowed to fight, did the Imam permit them to go.
When Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi killed Yassar, Salim, one of the Ubayd Allah’s descendants, came onto the battlefield. Although some of Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi’s fingers had been cut off, he disregarded his injuries and killed Salim, upon his victory he began call loudly upon others of the Kufan army to come and fight him while, with a staff in her hand, his wife encouraged him. The Imam ordered Abdullah Kalbi’s wife to return, and the Imam prayed for Abdullah’s family. Yassar and Salim were the first ones in Ibn Ziyad’s army to be killed.
Ubayd Allah’s army now approached first from the right flank and then the left towards the Imam’s remaining army. The Imam’s men knelt on one knee and angled their spears on the ground at the chests of the approaching horses and repulsed them. And now, the Imam’s army began to fire their arrows at Ubayd Allah’s retreating army and successfully killed and wounded some of them.
The Single Combat of The Imam’s Companions.
The remainder of the Imam’s men were dispatched to the battlefield one by one and were martyred in single combat. One of the martyrs of Karbala was Borair Ibn Khuzair Hamdani whose nickname in Kufa was Sayyadolghorra and one of the famous Shi’ites of the city.
Nafe Ibn Hilal Bajali too was one of the prominent men of Karbala. The Bajalah tribe was a Shi’ite tribe from which many prominent Shi’ites later came. An interesting account tells that when he was going to the battlefield, he shouted, “I am from Jamal [tribe] and I am a follower of Ali’s religion.”33
After the companions’ single combat and the Kufa army having seen some of their men killed, Amr Ibn Hajjaj of Ubayd Allah’s army, turned to Umar Ibn Sa’ad’s army and said, “You idiots! You are fighting against heroes of this city; you should not fight against them in single combat. They are few! You could kill them by throwing stones!” Umar Ibn Sa’ad agreed with him and commanded his army not to accept any further challenges from the Imam’s fighters. Then Amr Ibn Hajjaj had the right flank of Kufa army charge the Imam’s army. Amr shouted at the Kufa army, “O Kufans! Hold your line, obey your orders and show the rebels no mercy.” At the time these words were spoken, it is probable that the Imam’s army comprised no more than 32 men.
Muslim Ibn Ausajah Asadi was martyred by two Kufans and his martyrdom delighted the Kufa army although Shabath Ibn Rab’i, who was a commander of a part of Kufa army, did not see it that way. In sadness at Muslim’s death, he remembered the courage with which Muslim fought against the polytheists in Azerbaijan where he had killed 6 of them. As Muslim’s death approached, the Imam came to him and said, “O Muslim! May God have mercy upon you’’. Then the Imam recited this verse from Quran, “Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death], and among them is he who awaits [his chance]. And they did not alter [the terms of their commitment] by any alteration.” (33:23)
Habib Ibn Muzahir, Muslim’s close friend, went to him and promised him Paradise 34, and said, “I regret being in this situation, but I would like to hear your will and perform it’’. Pointing to the Imam, Muslim replied, “My will is to obey this man and be martyred on his path and to defend him.” Habib said, “I swear by God of Ka’ba that I will do what you say.”
In the battle, Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi was also martyred. At his martyrdom, his wife went to him and wept. Shimr ordered one of his servants, Rustam, to strike her down with an iron bar to the head. Rustam did so and she too was martyred.
Those who remained of the Imam’s army drew together so that the enemy could not pass between them. As stated above, they had dug ditches around the camp, placed fuel in the ditches and had set fire to it. Umar Ibn Sa’ad dispatched some of his men to capture the tents and destroy them but they were surrounded by the Imam’s companions and killed. This caused Umar to order that the tents be set on fire. Hearing the order, the Imam shouted, “Let them set fire to the tents: they can still only approach you from one side.”
Shimr threw his spear towards the Imam’s tent and said, “I will set fire to this tent and burn it down with its occupants inside.” Throughout the camp, women and children shouted in terror and began to escape from the tents.
Shabath Ibn Rab’i reprimanded Shimr and told him that his actions were evil and Shimr withdrew. Zuhayr Ibn Qayn, the commander of the right flank of the Imam’s army, then attacked Shimr along with ten men and drove him away from the quarters occupied by the women and children. However, Shimr returned the attack and killed some of Zuhayr’s men.
The battle continued. The Imam’s companions were martyred one by one, and, as each of them was martyred, the loss of each was felt. On the other hand, given their overwhelming numbers, the enemy’s losses were not important. The battle lasted until noon on Ashura.
It was near to noon that Habib Ibn Muzahir was martyred. The story goes that when Abu Thamaamah Saaedi, who had been one of the Imam Ali’s companions, saw that Hossein’s companions were being martyred one by one, he approached the Imam, and said, “I think that the enemy is closing in on you but I want you to know that you will not be killed before I die in your defense. But, before that, I want to say noon prayers with you before meeting my God.” The Imam said, “You have rightly reminded us of prayer! May God have given you the gift of true prayer.” The Imam added, “Ask the enemy to stop the battle that we might pray.”
Hosayn Ibn Numair from the enemy army shouted, “God does not accept your prayers.”
Habib Ibn Muzahir called back, “O idiot! Doesn’t God accept the prayers of the Prophet’s descendants and yet would accept your prayers?” It was then that Habib attacked Hosayn Ibn Numair, wounding Hosayn’s horse and causing him to fall to the ground, Habib was about to kill him but Hosayn’s men arrived and saved him. In this fight, Habib killed one of the enemy from Tamim tribe, but Habib himself was martyred. The martyrdom of Habib caused the Imam to grieve.
The Last Prayer
It was noon and the time for saying prayer, Zuhayr and some of the companions were still beside the Imam. The Imam said prayer, the Khawf prayer35, in the congregation. While Zuhayr and Saeed Ibn Abdullah Hanafi were in front of the Imam, the Imam began to pray. As Saeed stood there, he was hit by an enemy arrow. Prayers finished, but, disregarding his wound, he escorted and guarded the Imam. Wherever he went, Saeed set himself between the Imam and the enemy and, as a result, he finally fell, martyred by 13 arrows. Saeed wanted God to give his (Saeed’s) regards to His Prophet and to explain to the Prophet that he had suffered greatly in the service of the Prophet’s descendant.
After prayers, the battle started again with increased ferocity and Saeed Ibn Abdullah was martyred defending the Imam. The enemy began to target the remaining horses of the Imam’s army and, at last, all the horses had been killed. Calling loudly at the enemy, Zuhayr Ibn Qayn, attacked. Legend has it that he was reciting a poem for the Imam in which he described the Imam as Guide (Hadi) and Guided (Mahdi) who was going to visit his forefather, the Prophet; his brother, Hassan; his father, Ali, and his uncles, Ja’far and Hamze. Two of the Kufans attacked him and he was martyred.
Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdullah Yazani was martyred after Muslim Ibn Ausajah. His poem contains an important content which shows his true Shi’ism; the poet introduces himself as a follower of the theology of Hossein and Ali.
Abu Thamaamah Saaedi, who had reminded the Imam of the noon prayers, was martyred in the afternoon too. Nafe Ibn Hilal Bajali, mentioned above, through his precise aim, killed 12 men of the Kufa army but finally he broke his arm. The enemy captured him and Shimr beheaded him. It is reported that Nafe Ibn Hilal has written his name on his arrows. He was brought before Umar Ibn Sa’ad as a captive with blood running down his beard. He was shouting, “If I hadn’t broken my arm, you would not have captured me.” As Shimr was beheading him, Nafe said, “I swear to God that if you were Muslim, it would be hard for you to explain to God why you killed us. I thank God for being killed by the worst of humans.” After that, Shimr executed him. It is worthwhile mentioning that Nafe was one of Imam Ali’s companions and was trained by him.
The martyrdom of the Family (the Imam’s Ahl al Bayt)
The Family (Ahl al Bayt) began to fight when no companions were left, and in the fighting, some of them were martyred; reports vary but there were between 16 and 20 of them. One of the most famous of them was Abu’l Fadl Abbas Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib, whose descendants later called him Saqqa (provider of water). He was good-looking and was so tall that, when he got on the horse, his feet touched the ground. According to Abulfaraj36, a scholar of the 6th century (A.H), because he was handsome he was called Qamar Bani Hashim (The moon of Hashim tribe). Abbas was the standard bearer of the Imam’s army. He was 34 when martyred. All of his brothers, Ja’far Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib37 (son of Umm al banin, 19 years), Abdullah Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib (son of Umm al banin, 25 years), Uthman Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib38 (son of Umm al banin) were martyred at Karbala.
Others among the Imam Ali’s sons and the Family were also martyred: Abu Bakr Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad Asghar Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Ali Akbar (the elder son of Imam Hossein and Umm a Leila) all lost their lives. Most of accounts state that the first martyr of the Family was Ali Akbar. Other martyrs from Bani Hashim are: Abdullah Ibn Hassan Ibn Ali39, Abi (Abu) bakr Ibn Hassan Ibn Ali40, Abdullah Ibn Hossein (an infant of Rubab 41, daughter of Imru' al-Qais ), Qasim Ibn Hassan42, who was martyred in tragic circumstances, Aun and Muhammad, who were sons of Abdullah Ibn Jafar, and Muslim Ibn Aqeel, who was martyred in Kufa (and mentioned earlier) and also Ja’far Ibn Aqeel, Abdul Rahman Ibn Aqeel, Abdullah Akbar Ibn Aqeel, Abdullah Ibn Muslim Ibn Aqeel, Muhammad Ibn Abi Saeed Ibn Aqeel and many more.
The martyrdom of Imam Hossein (PBUH)
When all of the Imam’s companions and most of the Family had been martyred, no one dared to approach the Imam because the Kufans were reluctant to be known as the murderer of the Imam. But there were savage people like Sanan Ibn Anas, Shimr and Khooli to do it. Here we quote from some accounts: Ibn Sa’ad43 says, “Now the Imam was thirsty and asked for water. A man came to him and gave him water. At that moment, Hosayn Ibn Nomair released an arrow and hit the Imam’s mouth causing it to bleed. The Imam wiped the blood away with his hands and, at the same time, praised God. Then he went to Euphrates.
One of the enemies ordered, “Do not give him access to water!” and some stood between the Imam and the water. While the Imam was standing before them, he said to the man, “May God bring death upon you when you yourself are thirsty.” The man released an arrow at the Imam’s mouth. A short time later the man called out that he was thirsty and began to drink water but he remained thirsty and drank repeatedly and, in this state, unable to slake his thirst, he died.
It is reported that when the Imam’s mouth was hit, he lifted his head towards the sky and said, “O God! I protest to You about the conduct of these people for the things they have done to me.” Now that the companions and Family of the Imam had been killed, no one approached him as he returned until a group of infantry surrounded him. Then, no one was braver than the Imam and he fought against them courageously. He rushed at them from all sides and the enemy ran like a goat that has seen a lion.
The enemy fought with Hossein Ibn Ali for several hours; but no one attempted to kill him. After a while the Imam sat down leaving the enemy free to kill him. But there was no tribe that wanted to do the deed and each tried to encourage another to do it. Shimr tired of this and shouted, “What are you waiting for? Kill him.” Zor’ah Ibn Sharik Tamimi hit the Imam’s shoulder and then hit his neck. Sanan Ibn Anas stabbed a spear into the Imam, and the Imam fell. Then Khooli went to the Imam to decapitate him but his hands were trembling. Shimr himself got off his horse and decapitated the Imam and gave the head to Khooli to present to Umar Ibn Sa’ad. There were 33 wounds on the Imam’s body and sword blows and arrows had torn his clothes more than 100 times. As the Imam lay martyred, the enemy looted his two swords, his clothes, shoes and turban.
It is reported that the enemy looted the women’s property too… then Umar Ibn Sa’ad shouted, “No one may harm the women and children and everyone who has looted from them will return everything that was taken.” but no one returned anything. Umar Ibn Sa’ad then appointed some of his men to guard the tents to prevent them from being looted but, nevertheless, soldiers took the camels and clothes. An Iraqi man was weeping while he was stealing the clothes that belonged to Fatima, Imam Hossein’s daughter. Fatima asked him, “Why are you weeping?” The man replied, “I am weeping because I am taking the Prophet’s daughter’s clothes.” She said, “So do not take them.” He said, “If I do not take them, I’m afraid that someone else will.”
Then Umar Ibn Sa’ad asked his men to prepare for crushing the Imam’s corpse under horses’ hooves. Twelve riders readied themselves. They rode their horses over his corpse time and again until it was completely crushed beyond recognition.
The other martyrs’ heads were cut off to be sent to Ibn Ziyad. Umar Ibn Sa’ad sent Khooli with the Imam’s head but Khooli reached the gate of the city too late and the gates were closed, so he took the Imam’s head to his house. His shocked wife asked, “What is that? “He replied, “It is Hossein’s head you see before you.” She replied in disgust, “People bring gold and silver to their homes and you have brought the head of the prophet’s grandson? I will never put my head on the same pillow as you!”
Umar Ibn Sa’ad stayed in Karbala on the Ashura day and the following day. After that he ordered the troops to move to Kufa. He took with him the Imam’s brothers and sisters and those children who had survived. He also took Ali Ibn Hossein44 (Imam Sajjad), who was ill.
As they passed the Imam’s body, the women struck their faces and heads in grief and mourning. Zaynab, the daughter of Ali said, “O Muhammad! God blessing on you! This is your Hossein and he is naked and covered in blood and is mutilated. O Muhammad! Your daughters are captured and your descendants have been killed.” At that moment, both friends and enemies wept.
The day after Ashura, the people of Qazerie buried the Imam’s body and the bodies of his companions. And Umar Ibn Sa’ad said prayers over the bodies 88 dead from his army and buried them.
The captives of Karbala
Those taken captive in Karbala were taken from the battlefield to Kufa by camel and, in accordance with Ibn Ziyad’s orders, were paraded around the city and brought to the palace of Ibn Ziyad. At that time, the people of Kufa were gathered on the streets crying, and Ali Ibn Hossein said, “These people are weeping for us. Why so? Who has killed us?”
When the captives were brought before Ibn Ziyad, he spoke with Ali Ibn Hossein and asked him,”What is your name?” He answered, “Ali”. Ibn Ziyad said “Didn’t God kill Ali Ibn Hossein?” He replied, “I had a brother whose name was Ali and who was older than I. People killed him.” Ibn Ziyad said, “God killed him rather than people.” Ali Ibn Hossein recited these verses from Quran, “Allah takes the souls at the time of their death’’ (39:42). “And it is not [possible] for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined.”(3:145).” Ibn Ziyad ordered the death of Ali Ibn Hossein but Zaynab shouted out, “Our shedding blood is enough. I beg you kill me first if you want to kill him’’. Ibn Ziyad now abandonded the idea of killing Ali Ibn Hossein but Ibn Ziyad also spoke with Zaynab. Zaynab had come to the palace in her poorest clothes and with her servants. Ibn Ziyad asked three times, “Who is this woman?” but no one answered him. Finally one of the servants replied, “This is Zaynab, the daughter of Ali’’. Ibn Ziyad said to Zaynab, “Thanks be to God for His revelation the Imam Hossein’s conspiracy, for his death and the death of his supporters and for allowing me to destroy his plan.” Zaynab replied, “Thanks be to God for loving and respecting us and being favored by Muhammad and for making us impervious to evil and vice’’.
Zaynab (PBUH) gave a sermon to the people of Kufa. First, she called for the people to give her silence. Then, after praising God, His prophet and the Prophet’s Household, she accused the Kufans of betraying, and breaking promises to the Prophet’s descendant. She accused them of killing Imam Hossein who could be compared with the embodiment of the Prophet’s presence, and that this was a matter that no one should doubt even if blood fell as rain. At the end she recited this verse from Quran, “Indeed, your Lord is in observation.”(89:14)
The captives were then taken to Damascus and the only man was Ali Ibn Hossein, who was yoked about the neck. He did not speak to anyone until they had reached Damascus. When Imam Hossein’s head and the heads of the members of his Family’s and companions’ were presented to Yazid, Yazid said a poem, “O Hossein! Were it I who were encountering you, I would not kill you.” This was merely a way of his attempting to distance and exonerate himself from the crime. Now that his enemy (Hossein) had been killed, it was better not to name those who did the deed even though Ibn Ziyad, Yazid’s governor, was continuing his cruel ruling over Iraq and went unpunished.
Continuing with this approach, Yazid tried to sympathize with the survivors of Imam Hossein’s party. Yazid ordered that the captives to be held in under house-arrest rather than in a prison and, several days later, he brought the captives to his own home where his family cried and mourned for three days. During the stay, Yazid asked Imam Sajjad to dine with him. At this meeting, Imam Sajjad asked Yazid for his permission to return to Medina. Yazid agreed and ordered that they return to Medina under the escort of his guards. When the news of Imam Hossein’s martyrdom reached to Medina, women of the Hashim tribe mourned. The Umayyad governor of Medina laughed and read a line of a poem in retaliation and revenge, “This dirge is for the dirge that you gave to Uthman.” For Umayyad tribe, the Battle of Karbala, was revenge for Uthman. The events surrounding Uthman had no bearing upon, or relation to, the events surrounding Imam Ali and his Family but the Umayyad tribe misrepresented the facts to give legitimacy to their rule.
The story of Imam Sajjad’s sermon at the mosque of Damascus was as follows: The official preacher, from the pulpit (Minbar) of the Damascus mosque, made derogatory remarks about Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Hossein Ibn Ali, and praised Muawiah and Yazid. Imam Sajjad shouted to the preacher, “You have confused the wishes of God with those of His humans and servants”. Then he asked Yazid for permission to speak to the congregation. At first, Yazid denied permission but his companions eventually advised him to allow him to speak. From the pulpit, Imam Sajjad introduced himself to the people who did not know that he was of the Household. In the middle of Imam Sajjad’s speech, Yazid, who feared that the speech would be the beginning of anarchy, told Muezzin to say Adhan.
The political aims of Imam Hossein in 4 periods
If we are determined to rely only on contemporaneous accounts and reports to understand the political aims of Imam Hossein’s uprising, we should analyze the four distinct, historical periods defined by their specific circumstances. The periods are as follows:
The first period starts with the departure of the Imam from Medina to Mecca which has as its salient feature the “protest” against Yazid’s rule. At this point, the future events are not politically well defined but will become dependant upon circumstance. This period precedes the Imam’s decision to go to Kufa and is when he is still in Mecca.
The second period starts with the decision to go to Kufa and continues up to the encounter with Hurr. First, the Imam receives letters from Shi’ite citizens of Kufa but he makes no decision other than to seek further information. The Kufan envoys now arrive and make the situation appear more urgent, so the Imam sends his own envoy to provide firsthand information on the situation of Kufa. After receiving Muslim’s report, the Imam becomes certain of the political wisdom of departing for Kufa with the intention of capturing Kufa and Iraq. The period ends with the Imam’s hearing of the martyrdom of Muslim. The Imam now feels that the goal is impossible but that there is still hope of victory.
The third period begins with the arrival of Hurr’s army and Hurr’s initial attempt to take the Imam to Ibn Ziyad. As the Imam wants to avoid Ibn Ziyad and declines to go to Kufa, he proposes returning to Hijaz and attempts to do so. Under orders, Hurr does not allow him to make his way back, so the Imam tries to distance himself from Kufa and chooses a route that ends at Karbala. The Imam’s movements are based upon the knowledge that he acquired from Hurr about the radically changed and inhospitable atmosphere in Kufa. Forced to wait, the Imam sees the arrival of the Kufan army lead by Umar Ibn Sa’ad who requires the Imam’s allegiance or preparation for battle.
The fourth period is the choice of martyrdom by the Imam. Here, neither ruling nor escaping from the enemy is important; here, self-esteem, honor and martyrdom are important, and the Imam chose these as his goal.
The Influence of the Imam Hossein’s Movement on the Overthrow of the Umayyad regime
There are some immediate factors and some more long-term but both are of equal importance in the overthrow of a regime. The long-term factors facilitate the overthrow of the government but undoubtedly because of historical reasons, they have an important role in bringing down a government. In the overthrow of a government, immediate factors, such as a national revolution or an attack by exterior forces, are significant when the home government’s base is weak, i.e. when the government is not able to muster sufficient popular support from among its own population. A revolution does not take place under a strong government, and popular support will be invaluable to a government facing an exterior threat. The Umayyad regime came to power in 41 A.H; in the 61 A.H, Ashura revolution took place; in 132 A.H, after 71 years of rule, the Umayyad regime was overthrown.
This raises the question: “What was the Ashura effect on the overthrow of the Umayyad regime?” Perhaps there were two aspects:
Ashura brought into question the Islam practiced by the Umayyad regime.
This is demonstrated in the Imam’s speeches when he exposed Yazid and his qualities. The Imam questioned the Islam practiced by Yazid’s government and, in general that of, the Umayyad regime. The Imam put his finger on this issue when he observed that Yazid associated with the disreputable, his judgment was clouded by excessive wine, and he had changed the Ahkam (Islamic commandments) and introduced widespread, self-invented practices. The Umayyad regime tried hard to present itself as an Islamic government but, although was drowning in corruption and vice, the regime was still building mosques.
Abd al-Malik was erecting mosques in Hijaz and repairing the Al-Aqsa and Rock (Sakhre) mosques while, at the same time, he was rushing to Hijaz and appointing Hajjaj45 as the governor. It can be seen that, even at the time of Walid, the Mosque of the Prophet was repaired and decorated with gold.
Furthermore, they were expanding their empire and the conquests of the Umayyad regime were far greater than those in the day of first caliph or the Abbasid 46regime. But were these conquests part of Islam? The Household’s Islam differed from the Islam projected by the Umayyad Empire. The unscrupulous Umayyad regime, instead of upholding the Islamic identity of people, upholding Islamic ethics, holding to genuine Islamic mysticism, delivering Islamic justice, and giving consideration to the people’s rights were engaged in conquest for the purpose of gaining the spoils of war and building magnificent mosques in order to misdirect the people.
When comparing the provision of water for Ka’abe pilgrims and Jihad in God’s way, the Quran frankly prefers Jihad over the former. Of course, it is possible to see conquest in terms of Jihad in God’s way but the fault lies in the Umayyad regime’s considering only the materialistic aspect: the Umayyad regime, in order to amass treasure, did not accept the Islam of Khorasan people and considered them as blasphemers but, nevertheless, exacted tribute from them.
We must not forget that there were some followers of the Umayyad regime such as Tariq Ibn Ziyad 47 and others who probably had Jihad in God’s way but when the nature of the Umayyad regime was revealed to these people, the conquests stopped.
Finally, when people of Iraq, under the command of Abdul Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Asha’as Qays, were sent to conquer Sistan in 71 A.H, the cruelty and violence of Hajjaj appalled them so much that they returned to Iraq to overthrow the Umayyad government.
The Effect of Imam Hossein’s Movement on the Overthrow of the Umayyad regime
Immediately after the death of Muhammad (PBUH), two families (tribes) were claiming the right to lead the Muslim community: the Hashim family (Bani Hashim) and the Umayyad family. Events dictated that, after the prophet’s death, neither family was in a position to rule and a moderate group assumed the responsibility. At the time of Uthman and the martyrdom of Imam Ali, the Umayyad family was successful in winning this political prize. Their only opponent was the Hashim family.
The Umayyad family, when Imam Ali and Imam Hassan guided Islam, was known to be particularly powerful. The Karbala movement once again showed that the Hashim family was as active as before and was determined to overthrow the Umayyad family who had usurped their rightful position. From a political standpoint, this movement set the circumstances for the Alavians 48 to rule later. In fact, while the Umayyad family was active, the Karbala movement indicated that Hashemites were also active. For example, in the last years of the Umayyad regime, their motto was, “Reza 49 is a descendant of Muhammad.” which redefined the nature of the Shi’ite leadership as anti-Umayyad government. It was the Hashim family who physically overthrew the Umayyad regime but, in fact, it was the love for the Household that caused their overthrow.
From where did Household bring this faithfulness? From where did this political passion of Hashim family’s lovers and followers arise?
It seems that one of the main causes of such fervent ardor was the Karbala movement. How people could forget it? How could people forget the martyrs’ innocence, or not care about them?
It would be wrong to assume that this was the only reason of the overthrow of the Umayyad regime: recorded history informs us that later the Abbas clan (Abbasid), a branch of Hashim family, seized the moment and gained the power and ruled.
The Imam Hossein’s Uprising: a Textbook Uprising
Viewed in a certain manner, fundamentally, there are two kinds of uprising: the first one is one which gains its purpose and impetus from the times, is limited, and ends within those times, whether or not it is a successful. These uprisings can be used as examples to be reviewed, revised or analyzed.
The second one is a rarer kind of uprising: uprisings that are considered later as unique in their pattern. For instance, in Iranian history, the uprising of Kaveh the blacksmith50 is one such. The story of Kaveh was narrated by Ferdowsi the poet, he having learned it from oral tradition. In Islamic literature, especially the Shi’ite literature, the Imam Hossein’s uprising is a unique one which is like a blueprint for future action. In other words, it is no longer an event constrained within a certain period of time: it has become a non-temporal event. Its nature has entered the Shi’ites psyche; an element of their emotional identity and part of their beliefs.
The number of these uprisings and martyrdoms are few. We can say that many of Ulamas (scholars), Mujahids (fighters) and soldiers were martyred that their martyrdom has been forgotten, whereas, for some reason, some are remembered. For instance, Shahid Fahmideh 51 in Iran gained this latter status; The First Martyr 52 and The Second Martyr 53 have reached this position too. It depends on the kind of martyrdom, the quality of the event, the reasons for being martyred and the conditions in which that event happened.
The Imam’s movement is of this kind non-temporal event, and this is because its values are timeless. For although ostensibly value is placed upon the fighting against Yazid, this value was very broad and general. There are other factors in this immortality too. This uprising is marked out by its leader, the Prophet’s descendant, who was not a man to surrender. Many of the Prophet’s family were martyred in this uprising. Furthermore, the “Imam” concept is of crucial importance in Shi’ism and is a significant aspect of this uprising, following which it became a pattern for other uprisings. Many uprisings took place in Islamic communities by Alavians and non-Alavians alike, but none of this type.
The Specific Effect of Imam Hossein’s Uprising on other Uprisings.
The Imam’s uprising not only addressed the argument about religious practice, and was a fight against immorality but it was an end to the legitimacy of the Umayyad regime. Therefore, once again, the Imam, who was a descendant of the prophet, and following the Imam Ali attempts, showed the illegitimacy of the Umayyad government and was a source for several subsequent uprisings such as that of Zayd Ibn Ali and his son Yahya.
The next point is the principles created by Imam Hossein. If we follow the aim of the Imam’s uprising in his speeches, we will understand that it greatly corresponded with the principles of other Shi’ites uprisings. These aims are particularly meaningful when allegiance is at the heart of the matter. In other words, the people who agree with a revolutionary leader pledge allegiance to him and his aims. This type of allegiance existed from the time of the Prophet and later in caliphates too and continued to events at Karbala. The cornerstone of allegiance in the Alavi uprisings was the call to the people to follow Quran and the prophet’s religious practices. What is important in these uprisings is the armed uprising against a tyrannical government. It was the foremost aim of the Imam in his uprising and legitimated his action.
The giving of allegiance was for the purpose of accepting the religious leadership (Imamate) of Alavians which was the basis of Shi’ite political theory, in which it was agreed that the religious leader (Imam) should be from the prophet’s Household. In the final days of the Umayyad regime, it was realized in the motto of ‘’Reza is from Muhammad.” It can be seen that in Tawwabin’s (those who repented) uprising the people said that if they secured victory, they would give the government to Household. From the time of Imam Ali, these pledges, centering on the justice of sharing equally, were emphasized and became popular.
The Shi’ites Imams and the Question of Uprising against Governments
The events at Karbala among the followers of the Twelver Shi’ites are considered more a tragic, sad and sacred event rather than a political and imitable event. In fact, the Zaidiyyah 54, and others, the descendants of Imam Hassan (PBUH) chose a revolutionary uprising whose principles were borrowed from Karbala and the example of Imam Hossein. The political background of this example also recalls, in part, the Battles of Jamal and Siffin as the two battles can be seen as a fight against the domestic governors.
However, although the political-revolutionary aspect of Karbala among Twelvers is played down, its hidden political values were transmitted to the next generations, albeit not so much by the Twelvers who saw it more as a unique and inimitable event. Therefore, in the circumstances, those hidden political values could later emerge to effect. An example is the Iranian Revolution in 1357 (1979) which took good advantage of political aspect of Karbala.
The Effect of Imam Hossein’s Movement on the Shi’ite Community
The Shi’ite community was overshadowed in different aspects by the events of Ashura. But it would not be correct to see this influence only in its political aspect. By the same token, the effect and influence of Ashura, was greater in its non-political aspects. Of course, here, the issue has become somewhat complicated and is in need of clarification. It is obvious that the Shi’ite Imams tried hard to immortalize Karbala movement and exaggerated its effect as a political movement, especially as an armed uprising. First of all, they tried to immortalize Karbala among Umma (Islamic community) which was followed by the tradition of elegy and pilgrimage to Imam Hossein’s shrine. The pilgrimage literature (Ziarat Name) created the second aspect. These were foremost in immortalizing the events at Karbala. Now this question is raised: “Were the Imams following a political aim by these actions?” Without a doubt, the answer is, “Yes.” That means all of the foregoing helped to make a Shi’ite community based on the Imam Hossein’s principles.
The Spiritual Aspect of Karbala
It should be taken for granted that if weeping for Imam Hossein (PBUH) cleanses sins, then the spiritual aspect of Karbala creates the circumstances that are conducive to change in a person’s soul and prepares him to defend his religion and prepares him for sacrifice and martyrdom. However, when emphasizing the political aspects of Karbala, it should not be forgotten that this event is a sublime phenomenon, an immortal event, a predestined event, and specified by God. Karbala is not an earthly movement; it is part of materialized revelation (Vahy) and the tangible Quran. Just like the theory of religious leadership (Imamate) is not simply based on the political aspect, neither is the Ashura uprising simply a political movement.
It is sometimes spelled Husayn, HUSSEIN or Husayn.
The Imam Ali’s title
Hujr ibn 'Adi al-Kindi (died 660 CE) was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad. He was sentenced to death by the Umayyad Caliph Muawiyah for his unwavering support and praise for Ali, the fourth Rashidun Caliph of Islam and the first Imam of the Shias.
Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan (d. 673 AD) was a Muslim general and administrator and a member of the clan of the Umayyad. He was adopted by Abu Sufyan and was born in Ta'if (in what is now Saudi Arabia) to a member of the Banu Fuqaim, of unknown parentage, due to the promiscuity of his mother.
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" (or "ahlul bayt") was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Ahl al-Bayt are particularly important to Shia Muslims because Shias generally derive their hadiths from the Ahl-al-Bayt and their close associates. In Shia Islam, the Ahl al-Bayt are central to Islam and interpreters of the Quran and sunnah. Shias believe they are successors of Muhammad and consist of Muhammad, Fatimah, Ali, Hasan and Husayn (known collectively as the Ahl al-Kisa, "people of the mantle") and the Imams. There are differing opinions on the scope and importance of Ahl al-Bayt. In Sunni Islam, Muhammad's household refers to Muhammad himself, his wives and daughters, including Fatimah, his cousin and son-in-law Ali, and their two children, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. Other Sunnis include all Muhammad's descendants and sometimes the descendants of his paternal uncles, Abu Talib and al-‘Abbas.
Ansar is an Islamic term that literally means "helpers" and denotes the Medinan citizens that helped Muhammad and the Muhajirun on the arrival to the city after the migration to Medina and waged war for the cause of Islam. They belonged to two main tribes, the Banu Khazraj and the Banu Aws.
Muslim ibn Aqeel, or Muslim ibn Aqil, was the cousin of Hassan ibn Ali and Hossein ibn Ali, and the son of Aqeel ibn Abu Talib. Muslim ibn Aqeel was sent ahead as an envoy to Kufa to see if the people could be trusted to be loyal to the Imam Hossein. He sent word back saying that the people of Kufa were loyal. Muslim ibn Aqeel, with his two children Muhammad ibn Muslim and Ibraheem ibn Muslim, was murdered in the city of Kufa by the new governor, Ibn Ziyad, who was loyal to Yazid ibn Muawiyah.
Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was an early Muslim general and governor for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was the son of Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan. After his father's death in 673, Ubayd became the Governor of Kufa and Basra and later Khurasan. In 680, Yazid ordered Ubayd Allah to keep order in Kufa as a reaction to grandson of Prophet, Hossein ibn Ali's popularity there. Ubayd Allah appointed his brother Uthman as deputy and marched to Kufa. Ubayd Allah executed Hossein ibn Ali’s cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel and put out the right eye of Hossein ibn Ali’s supporter Al-Mukhtar. He was also one of the leaders of the army of Yazid during the battle of Karbala.
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Islamic caliphates established after the death of Muhammad (PBUH). The caliphate was centered on the Umayyad dynasty, hailing from Mecca. The Umayyad family had first come to power under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (r. 644–656), but the Umayyad regime was founded by Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, long-time governor of Syria, after the end of the First Muslim Civil War in 661 CE/41 AH. Syria remained the Umayyads' main power base thereafter, and Damascus was their capital. The Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests, incorporating the Caucasus, Transoxiana, Sindh, the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) into the Muslim world.
Umar ibn Sad (or Amr ibn Sa'ad) (fl. 620–680) was the son of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas. He was a clergyman and governor of Ray city, and took orders from Ibn Ziyad. He led the troops that murdered Hossein ibn Ali in the Battle of Karbala. He was killed by Al-Mukhtar. The historian Tabari has quoted Umar ibn Saad to have said to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, "By God, the sincerity I performed towards you with regard to killing Hossein was such that if I had performed such sincerity for my father, I would have fulfilled his rights."
The day of Tarwiyah is the eighth day of Dhul-Hijja. That name (the Day of Tarwiyah) is traced back to the fact that pilgrims used to drink water to fill their thirst in Mecca and then they proceed to Mina for at that time there was no water in Mina.
Sheikh also spelled Sheik or Shaikh or Shekh, or transliterated as Shaykh, is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor". It is commonly used to designate the front man of a tribe who got this title after his father, or an Islamic scholar who got this title after graduating from the basic Islamic school.
Al-Hurr ibn Yazid al Tamimi (Hurr literally means liberty and freedom) was the general of the Umayyad army dispatched from Kufa, Iraq to intercept Hossein ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib. The newly appointed governor of Kufa, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, issued the command to guard all entrances and exits to Kufa in order to intercept Hossein for a pledge of allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu'awiya ibn Abu Sufyan of the Umayyad dynasty. Al-Hurr ibn Yazid al-Tamimi al-Yarbu'i was ordered along with his 1,000 soldiers to sanction Hossein and his followers and bring them to Kufa. Initially responsible for holding Hossein and his followers captive, Hurr died fighting on Hossein's behalf after decisions fueled by corrupt intentions surfaced from Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad.
Zuhayr ibn Qayn, was a member of the Bijli tribe in Iraq. He is best known for his participation in the Battle of Karbala. Despite the fact that he did not want to even speak to Hossein ibn Ali, he eventually spoke to him when his tribe met his companions and his wife influenced him into speaking with Hossein. After meeting Hossein, Zuhayr got amazed by the content of his character.
Hudud (literally means "limit", or "restriction") is the word often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behavior and the punishments for serious crimes. In Islamic law or Sharia, hudud usually refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be "claims of God".
Ibn Sa'ad was born in the year 168AH/784CE and died in 230AH/845CE. He was a Sunni Muslim scholar of Islam and an Arabian biographer, received his training in the tradition from Al-Waqidi and other celebrated teachers. He lived for the most part in Baghdad, and had the reputation of being both trustworthy and accurate in his writings, which, in consequence, were much used by later writers.
Ahmad ibn Abu Ya'qub ibn Ja'far ibn Wahb Ibn Wadih al-Ya'qubi (died 897/8), known as Ahmad al-Ya'qubi, or Ya'qubi, was a Muslim geographer and perhaps the first historian of world culture in medieval Islam.
Haniyah was Abdullah Ibn Umair Kalbi’s wife. Just nine days after marrying, Abdullah and Haniyah joined the Imam’s troop. They spent their honeymoon in Karbala among Imam Hossein and his respectful family, and finally they were martyred on the seventeenth day after they married.
ʾAḥmad Ibn Yaḥyā al-Balādhurī was a 9th-century Persian historian. One of the eminent middle-eastern historians of his age, he spent most of his life in Baghdad and enjoyed great influence at the court of the caliph al-Mutawakkil. He traveled in Syria and Iraq, compiling information for his major works. He is regarded as a reliable source for the history of the early Arabs and the history of Muslim expansion.
Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Ali (born 4th Sha‘bān 26 AH – 10 Muharram 61 AH; approximately May 15, 647 – October 10, 680) was the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Imam and fourth Rashidun Caliph) and Fatimah bint Hizam al-Kilabiyyah (commonly known as: Ummul Banin – Mother of the Sons). Qamar Bani Hashim (the moon of Hashim family), Saqqa (the provider of water), Alamdar (standard bearer), Abu’l Fadhl are his titles too.
Sa'id ibn Malik Sinan al-Khazraji al-Khudri was an Ansari from the original inhabitants of Medina and one of the younger companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Too young to fight at the Battle of Uhud in 625 where his father Malik ibn Sinan fell, he participated in subsequent campaigns. Although he traveled to Syria once to visit the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiyah, he otherwise resided in Medina all his life. Later, he is said to have participated with his fellow Medinans in the defense of their city against the Umayyad army at the Battle of al-Harrah in 64/683. He is said variously to have died in 63/682, 64/683, 65/684, or 74/693. Abu Sa'id is one of the narrators of hadith (tradition) most frequently quoted. By one count, he has 1170 narrations, making him the seventh most prolific Companion in the transmission of the hadith.
See footnote number 15.
Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad’s father was Ziyad Ibn Abi Sufyan whose mother, Sumaya, is known to be a promiscuous woman. Here ‘’Sumaya’s son’’ refers to Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyad.
Ibn Shahrashub was among the most influential Twelver Shi'a scholars of the 12th century CE. His most famous work, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, has been a mainstay of popular and scholarly Shi'a biographical literature since its writing.
Also it is recorded that Nafe Ibn Hilal Bajali (Nafe Ibn Hilal Jamali) said this: ‘’I am a youth of the Yemeni tribe of Bajalah, I follow the Religion of Hossein and Ali, I shall be martyred today and this being my heart’s desire, and I shall meet my actions.”
Habib Ibn Muzahir said,’’ “It is very unpleasant for me to see you smeared in mud and blood O Muslim! May you receive the glad tidings of Paradise.”
The prayer of Khawf, literally, this means the prayer of fear or danger. It means praying in the battlefield while the worshipers are in danger of being attacked by the enemy. There are certain procedures to be followed in such a case. (See the Qur'an, 4: 102).
Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi (508 AH-597 AH) from Baghdad was an Islamic scholar whose family traces their lineage back to that of Abu Bakr, the famous companion of the prophet Muhammad and first caliph. He belonged to the Hanbali school of jurisprudential thought.
Uthman ibn Ali was one of the martyrs in Karbala. He was the brother of Abbas. His mother was Umm al Banin. According to the Shia Islam, he said that his father Imam Ali had said: 'I have named him Uthman because of my brother Uthman ibn Madh'oon'. In Karbala, he was hit by an arrow by Khooli ibn Yazid, which made him fall to the ground, then another man came and killed him. He died at the age of 21.
Abdullah ibn Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib was son of the early Islamic Shī`a Imām Hassan ibn Ali, and grandson of Ali ibn Abi Talib. His name was Abdullah and his mother's name was Umm a Wald (Slave). He accompanied his uncle, Hossein ibn Ali from Medina to Karbala. He took part in battle of Karbala (680), in which he ran out of the tent to save Hossein ibn Ali when he was being martyred, and was martyred before the Holy Imam. He was martyred by arrow of Harmala bin Kahil al Asadi.
Abi Bakr ibn Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib was son of the early Islamic Shī`a Imām, Hassan ibn Ali, and grandson of Ali ibn Abi Talib. His mother's name was Ramla. He accompanied his uncle, Imam Hossein ibn Ali, from Medina to Karbala. He took part in the Battle of Karbala (680), in which he was martyred. He was killed by Abdullah bin Aqabah al Ghanavi.
Rubāb bint Imrā al-Qays bin ‘Adī bin Aws (or Umm Rubab) was the wife of Hossein ibn Ali that gave birth to Ali Asghar (also known as: Abdullah), as well as Sakina bint Hossein. Her father was Imru' al-Qais.
Qasim ibn Hasan (c. 666 – 10 October 680) was the son of the Imam Hassan ibn Ali, and grandson of Ali ibn Abi Talib. He was born in 666, three years before the death of his father. When he went to the battle field, he fought with all of his strength and killed a lot of the enemies. But, he was only a boy and was thirsty for three days due the blockage of the river by Yazid and his army. A man came from behind and hit Qasim with his sword to which he fell and cried aloud, "O, dear uncle, peace be upon you" Hossein rode out upon hearing this. The soldiers tried to stop him, when finally he came to where Qasim had fallen. He saw Qasim's body trampled to pieces by the horses of the soldiers who had tried to stop them from reaching to their nephew. When the time came for Hossein to take his nephew's body back to the tents he took off his Aba (cloak), spread it on the ground and picked the pieces of the body up as one would collect flowers from a garden.
See footnote number 19.
Ali ibn Husayn (approximately 6 January 657 – 20 October 713) known by the honorific Zayn al-Abedin (The Jewel of The Worshippers), occupies a prominent position in Islam. He is also referred to as Imam al-Sajjad (The Prostrating Imam) and Sayyid as-Sajjadīn wa Raki‘in (Leader of Those who Prostrate and Bow).
Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf also known more fully as al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Kulayb or al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi) (born early June AD 661 / AH 40 – AD 714 / AH 95) was a controversial Arab administrator, politician and minister of defence of the Umayyad caliphate.
The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad, Iraq after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region.
Tariq ibn Ziyad (died 720) was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I he led a large army from the north coast of Morocco, consolidating his troops at a large hill now known as Gibraltar. The name "Gibraltar" is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq, meaning "mountain of Tariq", named after him.
The surname Alavi (often spelled as Alvi) signifies ancestry from Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Kāveh the blacksmith (known as The Blacksmith of Isfahan or Kaveh of Isfahan, is perhaps a mythical figure in Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahhāk. His story is narrated in the epic of Shāhnāma, the national epic of Iran by the 10th-century Persian poet Ferdowsi Tousi. Based on Avestan tradition, Zahhāk, or more correctly Azhi Dahāka, is from Babylonia and more or less a demon, not human. Ferdowsi masterfully recasts this mythical character as an evil and tyrannical king.
Hossein Fahmideh, (born 6 May 1967 in Qom – 30 October 1980 in Khorramshahr) a war hero of Iran and an icon of the Iran–Iraq war. According to his official life story, he was a 13-year-old boy from the city of Qom who, on the outbreak of war in 1980 with Iraq, made his decision to leave his home without his parents’ knowledge to go to southern Iran and aid in the defense of Khorramshahr. In the besieged city of Khorramshahr, he fought side by side with older Iranian soldiers. At one point, Iraqi forces pushed the Iranian troops back as they were passing through a very narrow canal. Many of the Iranian troops present were either dead or wounded by the heavy Iraqi attacks. Hossein Fahmideh, therefore, took a grenade from a nearby body, pulled the pin out, and jumped underneath an Iraqi tank, killing himself and disabling the tank. This made the Iraqis think that the Iranians had mined the area which stopped the Iraqi tank division's advance.
Muhammad Jamaluddin al-Makki al-Amili (1334ca–1385ca) also known as Shahid Awwal was the first Islamic martyr and the author of Al-Lum'ah ad-Dimashqiya. He was one of the greatest Shi'a scholars.
Zayn al-Din al-Juba'i al'Amili (Shahid Thani) (1506ca-1558ca) was the second martyr.
Zaidiyya, or Zaidism (adjective form Zaidi or Zaydi) is a Shi'a Muslim school of thought named after Zayd Ibn Ali, the grandson of Hossein ibn ʻAlī. Followers of the Zaydi Islamic jurisprudence are called Zaydi Shi'a and are particularly prevalent in Yemen. The Zaydi Shi'a has a unique approach within Shi'a Islamic thought that has similarities with Sunni Islam. Its adherents are also known as Fivers.
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