Martyrs of Ale Abi Talib in Karbala
In the year 61 A.H. Imam Husayn went from Madina to Makkah and from there he reached near Kufa. At all these places he invited the people to assist him and to defend truth and reality, and delivered various speeches. This campaign lasted for more than six months but as it is well-known he did not find more than seventy two sincere supporters. Out of them seventeen belonged to his own family. Two of them were his own sons namely Ali Akbar and Ali Asghar -the suckling child of the Imam. There were the sons of his brother Imam Hasan viz. Qasim, Abdullah and Abu Bakr. There were also five brothers of the Imam namely Abbas, Abdullah, Ja'far and Uthman, sons of Ummul Baneen, and Muhammad bin Ali. There were also two sons of Abdullah bin Ja'far named Awn and Muhammad. Besides them there were five descendants of Aqil viz. Ja'far bin Aqil, Abdur Rahman bin Aqil, Abdullah and Muhammad sons of Muslim bin Aqil and Muhammad bin Abi Sa'id bin Aqil. The names of these seventeen persons have been mentioned in Ziyarat-i Nahiya.
As regards others not more than fifty five accompanied the Imam. Even if some more persons have accompanied him in the beginning they deserted him when they became aware of the political conditions in Kufa and Iraq. However, if the supporters of the Imam in these days are counted they will be found to be innumerable. The question, therefore, arises: Were the people in those days very bad and do those belonging to the present age excel them in the matter of recognition of the Imam and self-sacrifice? No. That is not so. During those days also until the people were put to test and Muslim and Hani were hanged, there were innumerable devotees of Imam Husayn and he was greeted vociferously from all sides. In fact it may be said that it was a very good time because by means of his eloquence, personality and the antecedents peculiar to him, Imam Husayn was able to find, during the period of his six month's journey from Madina to Makkah and then to Iraq, seventy two enlightened and sincere supporters and he did not really need any more. He had not gone with the object of conquest so that he might have needed a larger army. For the purpose of achievement of the object which the Imam had in view these seventy two great and honorable men and children were sufficient. Besides them were the brave and magnanimous ladies who said in all conditions what they had to say. They informed the people about the true facts and the great services rendered by their self-sacrificing men. They related the events of Āshura in every town where they were taken, and told the people about the enemy stopping the supply of water, making the horses trample the bodies of the martyrs and killing the suckling child. They performed a great duty in Syria when they changed the ideas of the people of Damascus and its suburbs who had been misled by anti-Ahlul Bayt propaganda for a period of forty two years. In the bazaar of Damascus they told the people that the Verse of Purification had been revealed about them and also explained the rights of the relatives of the Holy Prophet. Notwithstanding the fact that they were bereaved and mournful they eventually returned to Madina with a relieved mind.
It is possible that some followers of the Ahlul Bayt may not relish our saying that they returned to Madina with a disburdened and relieved mind. However, if we deliberate upon what has been said so far and take into account the definite successes which the Ahlul Bayt achieved during this journey, we shall have to admit that their sentiments cannot be interpreted in any other way. We have before us the same interpretation of the daughter of Imam Ali and we have only followed that great lady about whose bravery and magnanimity we have definite proof with us.
As narrated by Ibn Tawus, when Ibn Ziyad said to lady Zaynab: "Have you seen what Allah has done to your family?" She replied: "I have not seen anything bad. They were destined to be martyred and, therefore, went to Paradise. Soon Allah will bring you and them together. Then the matter will be settled and we shall see in whose favor the decision is taken. O Ibn Marjāna! May your mother weep for you".
Enormous blessings be upon you, O great lady, who were made prisoner and that too by one who had inherited grudge for the Ahlul Bayt from his father, but in spite of that you spoke so explicitly and frankly. In our opinion this example of the courage and bravery of the daughter of Imam Ali is more explicit and valuable than even the speeches which she delivered in Kufa and Syria.
Can there be found in the history of mankind any other woman, whose six or seven brothers were martyred, whose son was martyred, whose ten nephews and cousins were martyred and who was made prisoner also along with her sisters and the children of her brothers, and even in the state of captivity who defended herself and her martyrs and that too in a city which was her father's capital at one time and where she had stayed for about four years during the time of her father's caliphate? However, in this condition and in the presence of all causes of worry and dejection she should not complain about what she had to suffer but should say with perfect frankness: "We have not experienced anything contrary to our liking and inclination. If our men have met martyrdom they had come for this very purpose. If this had not happened it would have been a matter of worry and uneasiness. Now that they have performed this Divine duty decently and acquired the honor of martyrdom it is only appropriate that we should thank Allah for this success".
Role of Islamic Training
It has been narrated by Waqidi that during the Battle of Uhud when many Muslims met martyrdom and even the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet was rumored in Madina, an Ansari woman named Hinda daughter of Amr bin Hizam and aunt of Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, came to Uhud and collected the corpses of three of her martyrs viz. her son Khallad, her husband Amr bin Jumuh and her brother Abdullah bin Amr. She loaded them on a camel and proceeded to Madina with the intention of burying them there. While on her way she met the wives of the Holy Prophet who were going to Uhud to obtain news about the welfare of the Holy Prophet and were worried. One of the wives of the Holy Prophet asked Hinda: "What is the news?" She replied: "There is good news. The Holy Prophet is alive and safe and whatever other calamity may have befallen the people is immaterial."
Hinda who was carrying the corpses of her dear ones to Madina to bury them there said with a feeling of strong devotion, courage and faith: "When the Prophet of Allah is alive why should we be sad and when this good news is there what other news can make us unhappy?" Then she said: "I have brought other good news also from Uhud. Firstly, Allah has honored some of our faithful men with martyrdom and secondly the following verse has been revealed: Allah repulsed the disbelievers in their wrath; they gained no good. Allah sufficed the believers in fighting. Allah is Mighty. (Surah al-Ahzab, 33:25)
She was asked: "What have you loaded on the camel?" She replied: "My brother, son and husband have met martyrdom and I am now carrying their corpses to Madina".
As narrated by Ibn Ishaq the husband, brother and father of a woman belonging to Bani Dinar tribe were martyred in the Battle of Uhud. When she received the news of the martyrdom of her dear ones, she enquired about the Holy Prophet and was told that he was quite well and was not exposed to any danger. She, however, said: "I must go and see the Holy Prophet myself". When she saw him and knew that he was safe, she said: "Now that I have seen you alive and in good health every other calamity that may have befallen us is of no consequence".
Indeed if Islamic teachings and training of the Holy Prophet could make a woman, who was previously an unbeliever and idol-worshipper, so faithful, sincere and self-sacrificing in the path of Allah that finding the Prophet alive made her tolerate every other grief, and she considered every other affliction to be immaterial it deserves consideration as to what a deep impression this training and these teachings must have made on the daughter of Ali and Fatima and what an enormous faith, sincerity and devotion they must have created in her. If the Muslim women belonging to the Aws and Khazraj tribes could display so much spiritual greatness, lady Zaynab must have acquired a much higher stage of spiritual greatness and it was on this account that in spite of all that she had to suffer she said with perfect calmness and peace of mind: "I have seen nothing except goodness". This was the secret of the greatness and the rapid and astonishing advancement of the Muslims. It was the sublime faith which dazzled the eyes of the enemy and made him humble and helpless.
It is possible that some persons may say and it is also perhaps written in many books that the Muslims had to suffer heavy losses in the Battle of Uhud and many of their dear ones were martyred. However, the Battle of Badr was very fruitful. Many men of the enemy were killed and some of them were also taken prisoners and excepting those who were freed without ransom, 1000 to 4000 dirhams per head were realized to redeem them. However, this way of thinking i.e. to consider the Battle of Badr more beneficial for the advancement of Islam as compared with the Battle of Uhud, shows that proper attention has not been paid to the results which were gained from the Battle of Uhud and which could not be produced from the Battle of Badr. In Badr the Muslims displayed such physical strength that the enemy realized that even if they (the Muslims) were 313 in number and had only six coats of mail and seven swords they could rout 950 armed men, kill some of them, make some of them captives and put the remaining ones to flight. However, Quraysh could not yet imagine that if one day the dear ones of the residents of Madina met martyrdom for the sake of the Prophet of Allah and their women lost even their husbands, brothers and sons they would still be happy on account of the Prophet being safe. And when the Holy Prophet asked them to pursue the enemy, those wounded in the battle would collect their baggage and make haste to pursue the enemy as if they had not sustained any wound. The Battle of Uhud was more effective in terrifying the enemy than the Battle of Badr and the test on this day was more fruitful than the test on that day.
There are many people who show enthusiasm at the time of gaining victory, taking the enemies prisoners and acquiring war booty, but become weak, abject and demoralized when they have to suffer affliction and hardship and are faced with death or are taken prisoners. After the Battle of Badr Quraysh were confident that if they gained victory over the Muslims one day and killed the dear ones of the Ansar and the residents of Madina, their enthusiasm to support the Prophet would cool down and they would be discouraged and would desert him. They could not imagine that it made no difference to the Muslims whether the Holy Prophet returned to Madina with seventy prisoners and a large booty or with wounded companions with amputated limbs after more than seventy of them had been martyred.
The prisoners of Karbala made the same impression on the mentality of the enemy during their journey to Kufa and Syria as the bereaved women and men of the Ansar had made after the Battle of Uhud. The conduct of Ahlul Bayt during this journey could not be predicted. It could not be imagined that after all their sufferings they would be able to stand erect, deliver speeches everywhere, bring the victorious and powerful enemy to his knees and change the public opinion so much that even the prevailing regime would be affected by it and say, on the very first day, to the prisoners belonging to Ahlul Bayt:
"May Allah curse the son of Marjāna. If there had been any relationship between you and him he would not have treated you in this manner and would not have sent you to Syria in this terrible plight".