THE NIGHT OF THE TENTH
One of them asked, "What kind of revenge do you think God will take?" The Imam said, "Some of you will kill others and the punishment of God will come pouring down on you."That night, the sky was red like blood. It was the hardest night for the family of the Prophet. In the emptiness of the desert, they faced the darkness and loneliness of night. During the night, they could hear a voice coining from the darkness. The disguised person recited the following lines of poetry:
One of them asked, "What kind of revenge do you think God will take?"
The Imam said, "Some of you will kill others and the punishment of God will come pouring down on you."
One of them asked, "What kind of revenge do you think God will take?"
The Imam said, "Some of you will kill others and the punishment of God will come pouring down on you."
The Imam said, "Some of you will kill others and the punishment of God will come pouring down on you."
"O those who killed Imam Husayn!
Be prepared for the punishment
You are cursed by every Prophet and every religion.
This was not the reward for the Messenger of God.
If he was alive now, he would have cried."
Also oh this night, Umm Salamah had a dream in which she saw the Prophet. He was upset and dust was on his head. When Umm Salamah asked him why he was so dusty, the Prophet replied, "My son was killed and I was digging a grave for him."
Then, the army of 'Umar marched towards the women and children and looted whatever was in the tents. When they were done, they set the remainingtents on fire. The soldiers fought over the women, but they resisted, and ran in all different directions.
The soldiers took their robes, rings, and earrings. One of them ripped Umm Kulthum's earrings out of her ears and they bled. A soldier approached Fatimah, daughter of Husayn, crying as he took her ankle bracelet.
She asked him, "Why are you crying?"
He answered, "Because I am stealing this from a daughter of the family of the Prophet."
She asked, "Then, why are you taking it?"
He said, "Because if I do not take it, somebody else will!"
A man came with his spear and herded all the women together. When he looked at Fatimah, he put his eyes on her to snatch her for himself. She ran in the middle of the herd. He went after her and hit her with his spear, knocking her unconscious. Zaynab protected her, drove away the soldier, and then took Fatimah in her lap until she woke up.
There was a woman with Bakr Ibn Wa'il in 'Umar's army. When she saw what was happening to the women, she yelled, "The children of the Prophet of God in this Situation? What is your answer to the Prophet of God? There is no Law but God's. We must take revenge for the Prophet of God!"
Her husband hurried and took her away.
They captured 'Ali al-Sajjad, son of Imam Husayn, while he was lying in bed unable to move. Some of them said, "Kill him. Do not leave anyone of them alive."
Others said, "No, wait until we hear our orders from 'Umar."
Shimr took his sword and moved to kill him.
Hamid Ibn Muslim said to him, "Shame on you! Killing a young boy!"
Shimr said, "Ibn Ziyad has ordered to kill all of the children of Husayn."
Hamid sent a messenger to ask 'Umar if it was true, and 'Umar denied. Zaynab put her body on 'Ali and said, "You cannot kill him without killing me!"
'Umar went to check the aftermath and see the women and the battlefield. When the women saw him they cried in his face and cursed him.
The army wanted to hurt them but he refused. He ordered them to restrain themselves, and assigned a group to guard them.
He called and asked his army, "Who would be willing to come forward and run his horses on the chest of Husayn?''
Ten of them replied, and they trampled over the bodies of the Imam and his followers.
'Umar ordered the heads to be cut off, and all of them were cut off. He distributed them among the chiefs of the various tribes.
The tribe of Hurr saved his head from being cut, and took his body away from the battlefield before the army rode their horses over the bodies.
Then 'Umar sent the head of Imam Husayn with Khuwali Ibn Yazid and Hamid Ibn Muslim; and the rest of the heads were sent with Shimr. Khuwali took the head and hid it in Kufah away from his wife because he knew that she was a Follower. When she heard women crying for the Imam, she realized that it was the head of Imam Husayn and never put on perfume again.
In the morning he took the head to Ibn Ziyad, and recited this poem,
"O governor! You should fill my sacks with gold or silver!
I have killed the most honorable master.
The one who is best in genealogy
And who had the best father and mother."
Ibn Ziyad said, "If you know he was like that, why did you kill him? By God, I am not going to give you anything!"
'Umar remained in Karbala' with the rest of his army and the women until noon of the eleventh day. He gathered all of his dead, buried them, and prayed on them. He left the Imam's body and his followers without burial.
After noon he left towards Kufah carrying all of the women and children. They were twenty women all together.
'Ali al-Sajjad was twenty-three years old. He was on a camel without saddle. His son, Imam Mohammad Baqir, was two years old. The women begged for the army to let them see the dead bodies on their way. The army agreed and took them. When they saw the scene they fell on the bodies, each one kissing and crying on the bodies.
Suddenly, Zaynab yelled, "O Muhammad! This is Husayn, stoned by catapults, mixed with blood and sand! His body parts cut off! O, Muhammad! Your children are taken captives and your descendants are killed!"
Then, she put her hand under the body of Imam Husayn, and said, "O God! Accept this sacrifice from us!"
When the army saw this, they cried. Sukaynah dropped onto the body of her father and heard someone saying:
"O my followers! Whenever you drink water, remember me.
And whenever you hear of a stranger or a martyr, cry for me."
Suddenly, Zaynab looked at 'Ali, the only surviving male. She saw him very weak and almost about to faint. She went to him and said, "O the memory of my grandfather, my father, and my brothers! This is the covenant of God to your grandfather and your father. The tyrants of this earth do not understand that. Indeed, the followers of the Prophet's House will come and honor these decapitated bodies, and the parts and limbs that were cut off, and raise a flag on this land, a flag which would never be lowered. The tyrants work day and night to eradicate his name, but whatever they do only increases the respect for his name."
The women and children did not want to leave the bodies. Finally, Zajr Ibn Qays came and whipped them with lashes, and they were forced to leave.
When the captured prisoners went into Kufah on their way to Ibn Ziyad's castle, people were gathering to look and see whom the prisoners were. A lady came and asked, "Which war are you prisoners of?"
They said, "We are the prisoners from the House of Prophet Muhammad." They paraded them in the streets to show the people that the army was victorious. People asked questions as they passed and some people gave food. More people gathered giving them food and bread. Zaynab and Umm Kulthum took the food from the kids and gave it back to the people, saying, "Charity given to the Prophet's House is a sin."
When Zaynab reached a large group of people, she stood and pointed to the people to be silent. When everyone became quiet to hear what she wanted, she said:
"All praises to God and blessings to our forefather Muhammad! O, people of Kufah; people of treachery and deception! You cry? May you never end your crying!"
And she quoted: "You are like women who untie what they have woven." 1
"You have no one among you but dirty, stubborn, liars, and you have done what will bring the wrath of God!
May you never end your crying! And may your laughs be very few! You carry all of the shame that cannot be washed away again! You have killed the descendants of the Prophet, the Lord's Claim (against you) of your time, and the light of your world. Woe onto you, and you will be humiliated forever!
O, people of Kufah! Do you not know what heart of the Prophet you have cut out? Do you not know what honored women of the Prophet's House you have enslaved and dishonored? Do you not know what blood of the Prophet you have shed? Indeed, you have done so grave an error that nothing will be able to take its place! It will be no wonder if the sky rains blood! And the punishment of the Hereafter is the worst punishment."
'Ali al-Sajjad noticed some movement among the troops and said to her, "O, my aunt! Please be silent. Indeed you are knowledgeable without being taught."
Then Fatimah, daughter of Husayn, spoke:
"Praise God! I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger, and that the children of the Prophet were killed at the Euphrates without any help. O, God! You know that I speak the truth and I do not say anything but what is according to the teaching of 'Ali, son of Abi Talib, who was killed in your house. And his son was killed yesterday. He returned to his Lord without any blame. O, God! You have chosen him for Islam when he was a child, and he helped your Prophet when he was young. O, people of Kufah, people of deceit, treachery and arrogance! We are the People of the House of the Prophet. God has made this a trial for you and for us. God has honored us by our Prophet Muhammad.
You called us liars and unbelievers. You looted our wealth as if we were the children of Turk or Kabul. Your swords shed our blood-blood of the People of the House of the Prophet. You think you are smart, but God is smarter than you! Whatever reaches us from God is the best."
Then she quoted: "Allah says, 'so you do not grieve over what has missed you, and you may not be happy with what has come to you. Indeed, God does not like proud, arrogant people." (The Holy Qur'an; Sura of al-Hadid 57: 23).
"Woe unto you! Wait for the punishment and the curse of God! You have hard hearts and Satan has captured you!"
When they heard this, the people started crying and yelling. Umm Kulthum said, "Be silent, people of Kufah! Your men kill us and your women cry for us. The judge between you and us is God on the Day of Judgment. O, people of Kufah! Woe unto you! What is the matter with you? You kill Imam Husayn, loot his wealth, capture his women, and then cry for him? Do you know what kind of catastrophe you have brought upon yourselves? You have killed the best person after the Prophet! Indeed, the party of God is the successful and the party of Satan is the losers!"
People tried to cry and yell more and more. When 'Ali's camel came forward, all the people gathered in the street and saw him in chains bleeding on the unsaddled camel. He pointed to them to be silent, and every one became quiet to hear what he would say. Imam Sajjad began:
"Praises and thanks to God. Bless the Prophet. O, people! Whoever knows me knows me, and whoever does not know me, I am 'Ali son of Husayn son of 'Ali son Abi Talib. I am son of the one whose women are taken captives. I am son of the one whose wealth was looted. I am son of the one whose honor was humiliated. I am son of the one who was killed at the Euphrates and that is a great honor for us.
O, people! I ask you, by God, do you know that you wrote to my father and deceived him? That you gave him a promise and broke it? That you fought against him? Woe unto you! By what eyes can you look at Prophet Muhammad when he tells you: You have killed my family and humiliated my honor. You are not from my nation!"
The people cried intensely and all of their faces were wet with tears. The Imam said:
"May God bless the person who listens to me and honors my will."
The crowd answered: "Yes, O son of the Prophet of God! We hear you and we obey you. We await your order, for war or peace. We reject anyone who dishonors you."
The Imam said, "Hayhat! Hayhat! (Never again! Never again
You, the deceivers! Do you want to do the same to me as you did to my father? The wound has not even healed yet. My father was killed yesterday and we still hear the cries of the People of the House."
THE PRISONERS MEET IBN ZIYAD
Ibn Ziyad sat on his throne and the head of the Imam was between his hands. He had a stick and he hit the lips of the Imam with it.
Zayd Ibn Arqam was standing nearby and suddenly said, "O, governor! Take away your stick from those lips! Indeed, I have seen the Prophet kissing those lips!" And he cried.
Ibn Ziyad said, "Indeed, you are a hallucinating old man. You have no mind. If you were not senile, I would have killed you!"
Zayd left the meeting saying, "O, people of Arabs! You are slaves after today! You are slaves of the son of Marjanah (Ibn Ziyad)! He is going to kill the best of you, and he is going to humiliate you, and that is the worst possible life!"
Zaynab was with the women, on the side, but not visible to the public.
Ibn Ziyad pointed to her and asked, "Who is this woman?"
Someone replied, "This is Zaynab, daughter of 'Ali, Amir al-Mu'minin, the Leader of the Faithful."
Ibn Ziyad wanted to humiliate her. He walked towards the group of women, faced her, and said, "Praise God that He has exposed you and killed you and eradicated your caused."
Zaynab replied, "Praise God Who has honored us by His Prophet Mu¦ammad and purified us from filth. Indeed, only the guilty will be exposed, and the sinners will lie, and they are not we. They are someone else, not us."
Ibn Ziyad asked, "What do you think of what God did to your family?"
She said, "I did not see anything but good. These are people on whom martyrdom is written. They went where God wanted them to go. God will gather you and them on the Day of Judgment. Then, you will see what God does to you on the Day of Judgment. Woe unto you, O, son of Marjanah!"
Ibn Ziyad became very angry and was about to kill her, but 'Amr Ibn Harith stopped him and said, "This is a woman, and a woman is not responsible for her emotions."
Ibn Ziyad thought for a moment, still staring furiously at Zaynab, then moved away from her and said, "God has made me satisfied with your tyrant and the opposition of your household."
Zaynab answered, "Indeed you have killed the head of my family! You have exposed the women! You have cut all of the roots! If this is what satisfies you, then yes you are satisfied!"
Ibn Ziyad ignored her, but turned his face to 'Ali al-Sajjad and said, "What is your name?"
Imam Sajjad answered, "My name is 'Ali son of Husayn." Ibn Ziyad said, "Did God not kill 'Ali? ('Ali al-Akbar in Karbala')"
Imam Sajjad replied, "I had another brother older than me named 'Ali. People killed him."
Ibn Ziyad said, "No! God killed him!"
Imam Sajjad calmly told him, "God makes people die when it is time for their death."
Ibn Ziyad became very angry. He could not stand it any longer, and ordered Sajjad to be killed.
When Zaynab heard this, she ran to where Sajjad was chained and used herself to protect his body, saying, "Is it not enough for you to shed our blood?
Have you left anyone else of us alive? If you want to kill him, you have to kill me with him!"
Sajjad said, "Indeed, death is our custom [it has happened to us before], and martyrdom is an honor for us, from God."
When Ibn Ziyad saw Zaynab attached to Sajjad he said, "What a strong family relationship they have! She is willing to die for him!" And he walked away.
The people started talking about what happened, and Ibn Ziyad became afraid. He ordered the chief of the guards to imprison Imam Husayn's family in a special house near the castle, and people gathered to see them.
Because people were trying to get close to the prisoners so they could use them as political pawns, after the governor gave that order, Zaynab announced, "No one should come to see us but slaves, because they are like us." The women and children, and Imam Sajjad were taken to their holding place.
Later, while the People of the House were imprisoned, Ibn Ziyad made a speech, saying, "The liar of liars, Husayn, was killed."
'Abdullah Ibn 'Afif al-Azdi, an old, blind man, interrupted him and said, "You are the liar of liars! You kill the children of the Prophet and you call yourself a Muslim?"
Ibn Ziyad became angry and ordered the guards to capture him and put him in jail. That night many of the people of his tribe went and forcibly took him out of the jail. When Ibn Ziyad found out what happened, he sent troops to go to 'Abdullah's house and burn it down.
The troops came to his home and when they set it on fire, he asked his daughter to bring him his sword. She was crying and wailing. She said, "I wish I were a man so I could fight for you!"
He told her not to worry and ran out of the house with his sword. His daughter was behind him, giving him directions. He was an old, blind man, but she told him where to swing, and 'Abdullah slashed at them with his sword, injuring the guards.
Finally, when they captured him and brought him to Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Ziyad said, "God has exposed you!"
'Abdullah asked, "Exposed me of what?"
Ibn Ziyad did not answer him, and asked him, instead, "What do you think of 'Uthman (The third caliph]?"
'Abdullah said, "What does that have to do with anything? Good or bad, God is going to be the judge. If you want to ask me questions, ask me about your father and your mother, I can tell you."
After the insult, the fatherless Ibn Ziyad said, "No, I will not ask you any more, but I will kill you with a unique and original form of death."
'Abdullah said, "I knew I would be martyred before you were born from your mother. When I became blind, I lost that hope, but it seems that hope still exists. Even if you kill me, I am not better than Imam Husayn."
Ibn Ziyad ordered him to be killed and hanged.
MUKHTAR IN PRISON
Mukhtar was imprisoned since the time of Muslim Ibn 'Aqil, but when the prisoners of Imam Husayn's camp in Karbala' arrived in Kufah, Ibn Ziyad ordered the guards to bring Mukhtar from prison and see. When the guards brought him to the governor, Mukhtar was bad mannered and there were harsh words between them. Ibn Ziyad became angry, hit him on his eye with a lash, and ordered him to be returned to prison.
After Ibn Ziyad killed 'Abdullah Ibn 'Afif al-Azdi, Mukhtar was brought from the prison again. This time, when the guards brought him, Mukhtar said to Ibn Ziyad, "You are the liar, and the Imam is the victorious one in heaven!"
Ibn Ziyad hit him with a pole, broke his forehead, and returned him to prison. Ibn Ziyad did not kill him because the sister of Mukhtar was the wife of 'Abdullah Ibn 'Umar Ibn Kattab who wrote directly to the "king" Yazid, interceding for Mukhtar.
While Mukhtar was in prison with two of his friends, one of them said, "We are going to be killed by Ibn Ziyad
Mukhtar answered him, "Indeed, by God, he cannot kill you nor can he kill me."
Then, Maytham al-Tammar, who was in jail with them, said, "You, Mukhtar, are going to take revenge for the blood of Imam Husayn, and you are going to kill Ibn Ziyad!"
THE JOURNEY TO DAMASCUS
Ibn Ziyad sent a messenger to Yazid telling him of the events and waiting for his orders. Then he wrote a letter, tied it to a rock, and threw it into the place where the people of the House of the Prophet were imprisoned. It said, "A messenger has been sent to Yazid and he will be back on such and such a day. When he comes back and you hear 'Allahu Akbar, write your will. If you do not hear it, you have your life." The messenger came back with Yazid's reply that Ibn Ziyad should immediately send the prisoners and the heads to Damascus.
Ibn Ziyad sent the heads with some of his troops, ordering them to put the heads on spears and parade them in front of the caravan, and he ordered them to pass through the cities on the way, and humiliate the family of the Prophet in every city they pass through. On their way they saw some writing painted on a wall, saying, "Is it possible for a nation that killed Husayn to have the intercession of his grandfather on the Day of Judgment?"
On their way, they stopped and a drop of blood fell from the head of the Imam onto a rock and that place is known as Mashhad al-Nuqtah (Place of the drop of blood) near Hamah.
Also near Aleppo, there is another place called Mashhad al-Sayrah, because Imam Husayn's wife was pregnant and when they reached that spot, the baby miscarried. He was named Muhsin.
When they came near Damascus, Shimr was leading the caravan. Umm Kulthum asked him not to go from the main road, so people do not look at them with evil eyes. Shimr did exactly the opposite, ordering the caravan to march through the city from the main road, and for all of the heads to be in the middle of the caravan.
ARRIVAL IN DAMASCUS
They arrived in Damascus on the first day of the month of Safar. The prisoners were kept in Bab al-Sa'at and people went to see them, dancing and using the drums.
Somebody asked Sukaynah, "What prisoners are you?" She answered, "We are prisoners of the family of Muhammad."
Yazid was sitting on his throne in his castle at Jiran when he saw the heads on spears and the prisoners. He recited a poem:
"When I saw the caravan and the heads near Jiran
The crow crowed, and I said,
Whether you crow or not,
I have gotten even with the Messenger of God."
Because of this poem and other displays of hatred to the Prophet, some Sunni scholars believe that Yazid was kafir (unbeliever) and deserves to be cursed.
Sahl Ibn Sa'id came to Sukaynah, daughter of Imam Husayn, and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
She asked him, "Can you tell the one who carries the head to go farther from the women, so people do not look at the women?"
Sahl honored his word and granted her request.
An old man came to Imam Sajjad and said, "Praise God that He perished you and made the leader overcome you!"
Sajjad replied, "Have you ever read the Qur'an, O, old man?"
The old man answered, "Yes."
Sajjad asked, "Have you read the verse: Say: I do not ask you any reward but love for the near in kin?" (The Holy Qur'an; Sura of ash-Shura 42:23 )
He said, "Yes."
Imam Sajjad asked, "Have you read the verse: So, give the near in kin their rights?" (The Holy Qur'an; Sura of ar-Room 30: 38).
He said, "Yes, of course."
Sajjad asked, "Have you read the verse: And know that whatever you gain, a fifth of it is for God, and for the Messenger, the near of kin, orphans, the poor, and wayfarers?"( The Holy Qur'an; Sura of al-Anfal 7:59.)
The old man answered, "Yes, I have read all of these."
Sajjad said, "Indeed, by God, we are them." Then he asked, "Have you read the verse: Indeed, God wants to take away pollution from you, O, People of the House?"( The Holy Qur'an; Sura of al-Ahzab 33:33)
The old man answered, "Yes."
Sajjad said to him, "We are the People of the House whom God has purified."
The old man's eyes opened wide as he asked, "Are you them?" Sajjad said, "Yes, (I swear it) by our grandfather Prophet Muhammad. We are them without any doubt."
The man fell to the ground, kissed Sajjad's feet, and said, "I repent to God and reject those who killed you."
When Yazid found out about this, he ordered the man to be killed.
THE PRISONERS MEET YAZID
The prisoners were ordered to go to Yazid's main hall, and they were all tied together with one long rope. While they were marched towards the castle, they were beaten if they did not go fast.
When they entered the castle and were in Yazid's presence, Sajjad asked Yazid "What do you think the Prophet of God would say if he sees us in this situation?"
The people started to cry and Yazid ordered the rope to be cut. The head of Imam Husayn was in front of him. He looked at Nu'man Ibn Bashir and said, "Praise God that He killed him."
Nu'man replied, "Mu'awiyah, your father, did not want to have Husayn killed."
Yazid answered, "That was before Husayn's movement. If Husayn had started his movement before, my father Mu'awiyah would have killed him."
Then Yazid faced Sajjad and said, "What do you think of what God has done to your father, Husayn''
Sajjad replied, "I saw what God has written."
Yazid consulted with his advisors about killing Sajjad and most of them agreed to having him killed.
Sajjad said, "O, Yazid! These people are deceiving you. Unlike the people of Pharaoh did when he asked them about Moses and Aaron. They said, 'Leave Moses and Aaron, because the children of Prophets should not be killed."'
Yazid thought and pondered, then Sajjad asked him for permission to speak. Yazid said, "You may speak, but do not talk any nonsense."
Sajjad said, "I am in a position in which I can not talk nonsense. What would you think if the Prophet sees us in this position?"
Yazid ordered Sajjad's chains to be removed, then faced his royal announcers, and told them to praise Mu'awiyah and humiliate Husayn. When they continued cursing 'Ali and Husayn, Sajjad interrupted them and yelled, "You are trying to please humans against God. You are going to end up in Hell!"
Then Sajjad said calmly, "O, Yazid! Let me go stand in the same place as this man (the announcer) and say what would please God and what would benefit these people."
Yazid refused, but the people insisted on allowing him. The people persisted, and Yazid did not want to anger the people, so he allowed it.
Sajjad said, "Praise God Who has no beginning, Who is eternal. No one was before Him and no one will be after Him. He will remain after the destruction of the whole world.
O, people! We are given six characteristics and we were honored by seven. We are given knowledge, patience, generosity, eloquence, bravery, and love in the hearts of believers; and we are honored that the Prophet is from our family, the friend, Siddiq Tayyar, the Lion of God and the lion of the Messenger, and the two grandsons of this nation. O, people! Who knows me knows me, and who does not know me, I will tell him who I am in genealogy and character.
O, people! I am the son of Mecca and Mina. I am the son of Zamzam and Safa. I am the son of the one who carried the Black Stone with his robe. I am the son of the best of those who wear clothes [are civilized]. I am the son of the best of those who made Tawaf [circumambulating the Ka'bah] and Sa'y [walking between Mount Safa and Mount Marwa, as one of the Hajj pilgrimage rite]. I am the son of the man who rode the Buraq [winged horse] to the end of the horizon, and reached his Lord, and was two bow's shots away from Him. I am the son of the one who prayed with the angels. I am the son of the one who received the revelation. I am the son of the one who fought with the Prophet of God at the battles of Badr and Hunayn and he ['Ali] did not disbelieve in God even for the blink of an eye. I am the son of the best of believers and the heir of the Prophets and the leader of Muslims, the knight of fighters, the father of Hasan and Husayn, 'Ali son of Abi Talib. I am the son of Fatimah al-Zahra', the leader of women, and the great Khadijah. I am the son of the one who was killed and covered with blood. I am the son of the one who was killed in Karbala'. I am the son of the one for whom the Jinn cried, and even the birds on the wind."
When Sajjad said this, people yelled and wailed in an uproar of grief.
Yazid began to fear that the situation would escalate, so he ordered the Muezzin 1 to recite the azan 2 even though it was not prayer time.
The Muezzin yelled, "Allahu Akbar! (God is great)" and Sajjad said, "God is greater and more honored than anything I fear!"
Then the Muezzin said, "Ashhadu anla ilaha ilallah [I bear witness that there is no god besides Allah]" and Sajjad said, "Yes, I bear witness with everyone who witnesses that there is no god but Him!"
When the Muezzin said, "Ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah [I bear witness that MuHammad is the Messenger of God]", Sajjad said to the Muezzin, "I ask you by the right of Muhammad to be silent for one minute!"
He faced Yazid and said, "This Messenger of God, is he your grandfather or my grandfather? If you say he is your grandfather, people who are present and all people will know you are a liar, and if you say he is my grandfather, then why did you kill my father unjustly? Why did you loot his wealth? Why did you capture his women? On the Day of Judgment my grandfather will be against you."
Yazid interrupted Sajjad and yelled at the Muezzin to start the prayer, even though it was not time. Some left to pray and others simply left the scene.
Then, he asked for the head of Imam Husayn to be brought to him in a golden washbasin. The women of the family of the Prophet wanted to see what is in the basin, but Yazid did not want them to. When he uncovered it and they saw the head, everyone cried. Yazid ordered others to enter the room. He took his stick, hit the lips of Imam Husayn, and said,
"Now I am getting even for the battle of Badr!" And then recited some poetry.
One of his people yelled that 'Al al-Mustafa' (the family of Heavenly Selected-Prophet Mu¦ammad) are cut into pieces. Yazid hit him in his chest, told him to shut up, and cursed him, saying, "You have no mother!"
Another stood up and asked Yazid to give him Fatimah, daughter of Husayn, as a gift. Fatimah became very scared and clung tightly to Zaynab.
Zaynab raised her voice and said, "Impossible! You cannot have this!" Yazid replied, "If I want it, I can...
Zaynab said to him, "If you do not believe in our religion, you can."
Yazid barked at her, "Your father and your brother were not of our religion!"
Zaynab said, "It was by the religion of God, my grandfather, and my father, that you and your father became Muslims!"
Yazid screamed, "You are a liar and an enemy of God!"
Zaynab said, "You are governor. You curse us unjustly and you govern by force."
The man repeated his request for the daughter of Husayn as a gift. Yazid yelled at him, cursed him, and then said to everyone:
"I wish my ancestors were here to see
How their enemies are in fear.
They would be happy
And they would tell me: Yazid, you did a good job!
We have taken their heads, and gotten even
For the battle of Badr.
The Hashim (family of the Prophet Mu¦ammad] played with politics.
There is no revelation and no Messenger.
They lied just to get the leadership.
I am not from my tribe
If I do not take revenge on the descendants of Ahmad."
When Zaynab heard Yazid, she said, "Praises to God and the Messenger of God," and quoted:
"Then, the end result of those who have done evil was evil, because they denied the signs of God, and mocked them."( The Holy Qur'an; Sura of ar-Room 30:10)
Then she continued, "O, Yazid! You think you have turned the whole world against us, and you have driven us like slaves. You think that you have honor, and you are important. You are holding your nose high, and you are happy, for the world is easy for you, and your kingdom is secure. But, you just wait and see!
Have you forgotten the saying of God: 'And let not those who disbelieve think that whatever we increase for them is the best for them. Indeed, We increase for them so they increase in sin, and they have a humiliating punishment?'(The Holy Qur'an; Sura of Aal-Imran 3: 178)
Is it just, O, son of Talaqa,3 to honor your slaves and drive the children of the Prophet as slaves? You exposed their privacy and exposed their faces. You paraded them from city to city. They had no one to protect them and everyone, near or far, examining their faces! What can we expect from a descendant of those who tried to eat the livers of the righteous people 1 whose flesh grows from the blood of martyrs. What can we expect from someone who grew up with hatred of the Prophet's family?"
Then, she quoted his poem and said, "While hitting the lips of the son of the Messenger of God, how could you say such a thing? Someone like you has to say such things, while you shed the blood of the descendants of Muhammad and the stars of the family of 'Abdul Muttalib. You call your ancestors. Indeed, you will soon go the same way as them. Indeed, you will wish you were mute and did not say what you said and did not do what you did.
O, God! Secure our rights and take revenge on those who treated us unjustly who shed our blood and killed our protectors. O, Yazid, you have not cut anything but your own skin. You have not chopped anything but your own flesh. Indeed, you will face Prophet Muhammad by what you have shed, the blood of his descendants and humiliated his honor!" Then she quoted: "Do not think of those who have been killed in the way of God as dead. No. They are alive, with their Lord, and bestowed blessings." (The Holy Qur'an; Sura of Aal -Imran 3: 169 )
"And God is the best Judge and Muhammad is the plaintiff and (Archangel) Gabriel is the supporter. And those who made you come to power over Muslims will know what a worse alternative they have chosen and what a weak army they have.
Though it is hard for me to speak to you, I belittle you. It is hard for me to look in your face, but the eyes are weeping and the chests are tight.
O! The wonder of wonders is that the party of God, the honored are killed by the party of Satan, those who were given freedom by the Prophet. Their hands are dripping with our blood, their mouths are filled with our flesh, and the bodies of the righteous are scattered on the ground. You took us as prisoners as gains of the war, but soon you will be the loser, when you enter the Judgment of God. We have only Him as our protector. Do whatever you want and plan and scheme whatever you want.
But, by God you cannot eradicate our memory, and you cannot eradicate the revelation (of God) and the shame of this will not leave you. Your view is in vain, and your days are numbered, and your groups will be scattered, on a day in which a caller will call and announce the curse of God on those who are unjust. Praised be the Lord, the One who gave the first of us forgiveness and the last of us martyrdom. And we ask Almighty God to complete the reward for them, and increase for them, and make us the successful ones. Indeed, He is merciful and kind, and God is sufficient, and the Best Protector.
The historian al-Bayruni says:
"These actions taken against the Imam were not done to any nation in the world. Using all cheap means possible, such as killing by sword, spearing, catapults, and running the horses on the bodies of the victims."
After the massacre at Karbala', 'Umar Ibn Sa'd, the leader of the army, asked the governor, Ibn Ziyad, for the written promise to make him governor of the city of Ray. Ibn Ziyad said he lost it.
One year after the death of Yazid, Mukhtar revolted against Ibn Ziyad and killed all those who participated in killing Imam Husayn, such as Harmalah ibn Kahil, Shimr ibn dhil-Jawshan, and eighteen thousand others who participated in the massacre at Karbala'. Mukhtar ordered then to be killed by cruel and unusual methods of painful torture and death.
Mukhtar did not kill 'Umar Ibn Sa'd, but he ordered the women of the city to sit by the door of his house and cry and wail every night. They did this, and after some time, he became crazy.
Hazrat Ali Asghar was the youngest child of Imam Husain. He was born only a few weeks before Imam left Madinah. His mother's name was Rubaab daughter of Imra'u'l Qais who was the chief of the tribe of Kinda.
Rubaab had two children, Sakina and Ali Asghar. She and her two children accompanied Imam to Karbala. The fact that Imam took with him a newly born baby further demonstrates that his intention was never to engage in any armed rebellion.
At Karbala Asghar was only six months old. From the seventh Muharram there was no water in Imam's camp. Asghar was in great pain because of thirst.
On Ashura day, after Ali Akber had been killed, Imam Husain was standing outside the camp. He was left all alone and he was preparing to go into the battlefield. Just then he heard a child cry. It was Ali Asghar, tormented by the pangs of hunger and thirst.
Imam walked into Bibi Rubaab's tent. He lifted the child from the cradle. "Rubaab," he said, "I will take him to Yazeed's army. Surely they can not possibly deny this little infant a few drops of water?" Rubaab changed Ali Asghar's clothes. She even tied a small turban on his head. Like any other mother she wanted her son to look at his best in front of strangers.
Imam Husain carried the child to the battle field. Walking up to Yazeed's soldiers Imam Husain said, "This child has done you no harm. He is dying of thirst. I am begging for a few drops of water for him."There was no response. Imam said, "If you are afraid that when you bring Asghar any water I will drink it, look, I will put him on the ground and you can come yourself and give him water." He put the child on the sands of Karbala and moved a couple of steps back. You can imagine how hot the desert sand was. Asghar lay there not even wincing. He turned towards the enemy and stared at them. A murmur arose among the soldiers but no one came forward to give water to the baby. Imam took Asghar in his arms and in a clear voice said, "Asghar, my son, show them how thirsty you are!" Asghar turned his head towards the soldiers. He smiled sweetly. Opened his mouth. Brought out his dry tongue and moved it over his lips. The ultimate sword had been unsheathed!
The soldiers were so moved by this that they could be heard sobbing. Still, they were very afraid of Yazeed and none dared come forward to give water to Ali Asghar.
Umar Sa'ad was worried. It seemed that Asghar was emerging victorious in this confrontation against the might of Yezid. He looked at Hurmala, a famous archer, and said, "Silence Husain!"
Then a terrible thing happened. Hurmala lifted his bow. Aimed an arrow at the child. The arrow flew across the hot desert. There was a hissing sound. Asghar smiled. He lifted his head and arched his neck!! No civilized mind can even imagine what happened next. The hissing sound stopped and Asghar lay still on his father's arms.
Imam Husain looked down at Asghar's neck, he saw the arrow, he saw the neck, he saw the smile and then he could see no more!!!
Our Imam began to feel faint. For a moment everything went dark. He could not see! There was a total silence over Karbala, broken only by the sound of the gentle waves of Furaat. Even the enemy appeared stunned.
Slowly Husain turned round and now looked at the baby in his arms.
The arrow had passed through the tender neck and lodged in Imam Husain's chest. There was no way Imam Husain could dislodge the arrow. His two arms were supporting the still child. He looked at the sky, and prayed "Ya Allah, give me courage in this most difficult moment of my life. No Prophet ever was subjected to a test as severe as this."
It is said that the Imam was so shaken up by what had happened to the infant child that all of a sudden his beard went all grey and he looked an old man. With his teeth he pulled his abaa over Asghar to shield the body from the scorching sun. Then he took a few deep breaths, and began to walk towards his camp.
As he got near he saw Rubaab standing at the entrance to her tent. He saw the anxiety, the hope, the fear and the restlessness in her eyes. Our Imam seemed to lose all strength. He could not walk forward towards Bibi Rubaab. He took seven steps back saying "INNA LILLA-HI WA INNA ILAY-HI RAJEEOON". He stopped and thought that he must take the child to his mother. He again took seven steps forwards saying "INNA LILLA-HI WA INNA ILAY-HI RAJEEOON". Once again his eyes met with those of Bibi Rubaab's. Again our Imam seemed to lose his courage and walked backwards repeating "INNA LILLA-HI WA INNA ILAY-HI RAJEEOON". Imam Husain did this seven times. Forward and backward. All the time Bibi Rubaab's eyes remained transfixed on the child. Each time Imam reciting "INNA LILLA-HI WA INNA ILAY-HI RAJEEOON"
Finally, somehow, he got the arrow dislodged. He now took the dead infant to Bibi Rubaab. He said, "Rubaab! This is a test from Allah which no mother has ever been asked to go through. Come with me" Bibi Rubaab followed. With their own hands they dug a small grave! The father and the mother together buried Ali Asghar!!
Over one thousand three hundred and fifty years ago, on the 10th of Muharram, just before 'asr, a man stood on a sand-dune at Kerbala. He was bleeding from several wounds on his body. He had lost everything. Since early morning he had carried several dead bodies into his camp. He had even buried his infant child.
He looked at the bodies of his loved ones. Tears flowed out of his eyes. He looked at the sky and seemed to draw some strength from an unseen source. Then, like a muezzin from a minaret, he raised a call:
"Is there anyone who will come to assist us ?
Is there anyone who will respond to our call for aid ?"
He turned direction and repeated the call. He did this four times.
Whom was he calling out to? Surely he was not expecting anyone to come to his aid. Those who wanted to help him had already crossed the lines and laid down their lives for the cause. He knew there was no one left. He knew that there was no other Hur. And yet, meticulously and laboriously, he made sure that his call reverberated in all directions.
Of course that call was a call to Muslims of every generation in every land. It was a call to us where ever we may be. It was a call for help. Help against Yezeedism which in every age rears its ugly head to oppress justice, truth and morality. Our Imam was calling out to every Muslim of every age and time to combat Yezeedism, both within himself and as an external force. This was his battle cry for jihad-ul-akbar. He had already demonstrated that his objective had always been to create a spiritual awakening through amr bil ma'ruf and nahyi anal munkar. Now he was calling out for the continuation of this jihad at the individual, social and political levels.
B. EVOLUTION OF AZA
Muslims, and more particularly the Shiahs, have answered this call with the unique institution of aza-e-Hussain. With every tear that we shed for him we pledge to resist the oppression of injustice, immorality, inequity and falsehood. Every time we raise our hand and bring it down on our chest in matam, we are saying: "Labbaik, Labbaik Ya Mawla!" to our Imam, Hussain Ibne Ali, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SAWA).
For long the word aza-e-Hussain has been exclusively used in connection with the remembrance ceremonies for the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Aza-e-Hussain includes mourning congregations, lamentations, matam and all such actions which express the emotions of grief, anger and, above all, repulsion against what Yezid stood for. These emotions, however, remain futile and hypocritical unless accompanied by a will to reform both at the individual level and the community level.
The term majlis has both a grammatical meaning and a meaning which relates to aza-e-Hussain. In its technical sense, a majlis is a meeting, a session or a gathering. In reference to aza-e-Hussain, it means a gathering to mourn Imam Hussain. In this sense it was first used by our sixth Imam, Ja'far Sadiq A.S. It is reported that his companion al-Fudhayl Ibne Yasaar came to pay his respects to the Holy Imam.
After the exchange of usual courtesies, Imam asked al-Fudhayl: "Do you people ever organise majaalis to recall the martyrdom of Imam Hussain?" Al-Fudhayl, with tears pouring down his eyes, replied: "Yabna Rasulillah, indeed we do." The Imam said: "May Allah bless you. I highly approve of such majaalis."
On another occasion, the poet Ja'far ibne Iffaan recited to our Imam al-Sadiq a poem on the tragedy of Kerbala. The Imam began to weep uncontrollably. He then addressed the poet in the following terms:
"O Iffaan, do not think that it is only those whom you can see here are listening to your poetry. In fact Allah's closest angels are present here at this majlis and they are all listening to your recitation and they too lament and weep.
May Allah bless you for what you have recited. He will, inshallah, reward you with paradise for your efforts on our behalf."
Aza-e-Hussain was a phenomenon which gripped Muslim conscience immediately after the tragedy of Kerbala.
The first majlis-e-Hussain was recited in the market-place of Kufa by a lady from whose head her veil had been ripped off, whose hopes and aspirations had been destroyed on the blood-drenched sands of Kerbala but whose indomitable spirit stepped forward to free the Islamic values from the yoke of tyranny and oppression. She was the first one to answer the call of Imam Hussain. Standing on her unsaddled camel, she looked at the multitude rejoicing the victory of Yezid. As soon as people saw her, they were quiet. They knew that a historic moment for Kufa had arrived. Looking straight at them, the daughter of Ali said:
"Woe upon you O people of Kufa. Do you realise which piece of Muhammad's heart you have severed! Which pledge you have broken! Whose blood you have shed! Whose honour you have desecrated!. It is not just Hussain whose headless body lies unburied on the sands of Kerbala. It is the heart of the Holy Prophet. It is the very soul of Islam !"
The first majlis touched and moved the people of Kufa so deeply as to give rise to both the Tawwabun movement and al-Mukhtar's quest for vengeance.
Ten days after Ashura, a messenger from Yezid arrived in Madina. His name was Abd al-Malik ibne Abi al Harith al-Sulamee. He came to tell the Governor, Amr bin Said al-Aas that Hussain ibne Ali had been killed in Kerbala.
The Governor, more conscious of the mood of the people, said that he himself could not make the news public but Abd al-Malik, if he so wished, could make the public announcement. Abd al-Malik announced the news after the morning prayers.
There was such intense weeping and wailing from the homes of Banu Hashim that the very walls of masjidun-nabawi began to tremble. Zainab, Umme Luqman, the daughter of Aqeel ibne Abi Talib came out screaming: "What will you say when the Prophet asks you: "What have you, the last ummah, done with my offspring and my family after I left them? Some of them are prisoners and some of them lie killed, stained with blood. What sort of ajr-e-risaalah is this that you disobey me by oppressing my children ?"
Fatimah Binte Huzaam, also known as Ummul Baneen, carried her young grandson Ubaidullah ibne Abbas and prepared to go out. When asked where she was going, she said that she was taking the orphan of Abbas to offer condolences to the mother of Hussain.
Marwan ibne Hakam reports that every afternoon men and women would gather at Jannat-ul-Baqee and there would be remembrance of the tragedy of Kerbala and the weeping and wailing could be heard miles away.
When the prisoners were finally freed by Yezid, they asked for an opportunity to have rites of remembrance in Damascus. A house was made available to them and aza-e-Hussain went on for over a week. Just as Hadhrat Musa Kalimullah had been raised in the palace of the enemy of Allah, Firaun, Bibi Zainab laid the foundation of aza-e-Hussain in the very capital of his murderer !
On their return to Madina, Bibi Zainab took over the leadership of aza-e-Hussain in the city of the Holy Prophet. This aroused such strong emotions in the people and such revulsion against the oppressor that Amr ibne Said ibne al-Aas wrote to Yezid to have Bibi Zainab exiled from Madina. This was done in the beginning of 62 A.H. Bibi Zainab died shortly afterwards.
Both the 4th and 5th Imams greatly encouraged aza-e-Hussain. In their times aza-e-Hussain had to be performed in utmost secrecy as the regime was opposed to any remembrance of Kerbala. The poets who composed elegies and the devout Shiahs who attended the gatherings at which these elegies were recited did so at the risk of their lives. Nonetheless, the poets continued to pour out their emotions in their poetry.
Some of these poetry are extant today and one can see the intensity of faith and sadness enshrined in the words of the poets.
Gradually, the institution of ziyarah came into being. People would visit the graves of the martyrs and there perform aza-e-Hussain. Our Imams wrote for them ziyarahs to be recited. One of these ziyarahs is recited today by us and is known as Ziyarat-e-Waritha.
When we examine Ziyarat-e-Waritha, we can see not only a testimony of the greatness of Imam Hussain and the moving sentiments describing his sacrifice for the cause of Allah, but also a solemn pledge and a commitment by the reciter:
"And I make Allah, His angels, His prophets, and His messengers, witnesses to the fact that I believe in Imam Hussain and in my return to Allah. I also believe in the laws of Allah and in the consequences of human actions. I have subordinated the desires of my heart to his (Imam Hussain's) heart and I sincerely submit to him and (promise to follow his commands)"
Clearly, this undertaking was never meant by our Imams to be an empty ritual. Recitation of Ziyarat-e-Waritha is a commitment to Imam Hussain's cause made in the presence of Allah and the angels and the prophets and the messengers and in full awareness of the final accountability of human action. One must always reflect upon the seriousness and solemnity of this pledge.
Until the time of ghaibat-e-kubra, we find that our Imams always encouraged aza-e-Hussain. They saw in aza-e-Hussain not only a demonstration of grief for Imam Hussain and the martyrs of Kerbala but also a renewal of one's commitment to Allah and His laws as expounded in the Holy Qur'an and the ahadeeth.
We have records of the sayings of the representatives (Naibs) during ghaibat-e-Sughra explaining and encouraging aza-e-Hussain. From 329 AH onwards the fuqaha and the 'ulemas took it upon themselves to perpetuate the message of Kerbala.
Shaykh Ibne Babawayh-al-Qummi better known as Shaykh as-Suduq who died in 381 AH was the first scholar to have introduced prose as medium of conveying the message of Imam Hussain. He would sit on a pulpit and speak extempore while many of his students sat by the side of the pulpit and recorded the speech. His speeches have been preserved and to this day are known as the Amali (dictations) of Shaykh Suduq.
Public demonstration of grief first occurred in 351 A.H. On the 10th of Muharram, there was a spontaneous procession in the street of Baghdad and thousands of men, women and children came out chanting "Ya Hussain! Ya Hussain!" beating their breast and reciting elegies. In the same year, a similar procession took place in Egypt. The regime tried its best to stem the tide of aza-e-Hussain but failed. Very soon aza-e-Hussain became an institution with deep roots in the hearts of Muslims. Majlis evolved into an institution for amr bil ma'ruf and nahya anal munkar as well as reminder of the tragic events.
As Islam spread, different cultures adopted different modes of aza-e-Hussain. Taimur Lang introduced the institution of tabut and alam in India. As Islam spread southwards on the sub-Continent, the form underwent changes to take into account local cultural influences so as to portray the message of Kerbala in the medium best understood by the local people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
By the beginning of the 19th Century, there was not a corner of the world, from Spain to Indo-China, which did not have some form of demonstration on the 10th of Muharram.
The form varied from country to country. In Iran, the most popular form has been passion plays as a medium transmit the message of Kerbala in addition to the majaalis from the minabir.
In India, the Ashura processions became part of the Indian Muslim culture. Even the Hindus participated in these processions. The Maharajah of Gwalior was always seen walking behind the 'alam of Hadhrat Abbas barefooted and without any insignia of his exalted office. Marthiyas and majaalis were such strong influences on the Muslim population that they helped strengthen not only their Islamic beliefs but also their political resolve.
History reports that even Gandhi on his famous salt march to protest against the oppression of the British Raj took 72 people with him in emulation of Imam Hussain protest against Yezid's oppression.
C. IMPORTANCE OF AZA
The following excerpt from the last will and testament of the Late Ayatullah Ruhullah Khumayni (A.R.) is most touching and relevant:
"The memory of this great epic event (Ashura) must be kept alive. Remember, the cries of damnation and all the curses that are rightfully raised against the cruelty of the Bani Umayyayah caliphs towards the Holy Imams, are reflected in the heroic protests against cruel despots by the nations through the centuries. It is the perpetuation of such protests that shatter oppression and cruelty. It is necessary that the crimes of the tyrants in each age and era be indicated in the cries of lamentation and in the recitals of elegies held for the Holy Imams"
Where ever the Shiahs have gone they have taken with them the cultural forms of aza-e-Hussain as practised in their country of origin. Today, aza-e-Hussain in one form or another, can be seen throughout the world.
Aza-e-Hussain is an important institution and we have to ensure that it is kept alive so as to cultivate and nurture Islamic conscience in each one of us and that our children and their descendants remain committed to the cause of Imam Hussain.
D. AZA AT PERSONAL LEVEL
We must never lose sight of the fact that while the form of aza-e-Hussain may reflect the local indigenous culture, the essence of aza-e-Hussain must always be remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and our re-dedication to his cause.
There is always the danger that if the form appears to be incongruent to the local norms and consequently incomprehensible to the young generation or to the indigenous population upon whom we wish to impress the message of Kerbala, the substance might gradually lose its significance. The fabric of the substance invariably depends upon the acceptability of the form.
Throughout history the form of aza-e-Hussain has always undergone changes to accommodate local norms. It is for us, therefore, to seriously re-evaluate the form in order to ensure that we can pass on to our children the substance of aza-e-Hussain in its pristine state and also make aza-e-Hussain an irresistible instrument of tableegh ! We are duty bound to Allah and His Prophet to ensure that our children grow up to accept aza-e-Hussain NOT as a ritualistic activity NOR as means for atonement, but as a serious commitment to the basic values of Islam."
Dr. Liyakat Takim in his speech in Toronto on the occasion of the last Hussain Day made this very profound statement: "The message of Imam Hussain can only be properly comprehended when we bear in mind the Qur'anic principle of tawheed which demands our undivided commitment to Allah only."
I accept that not all of us can suddenly make or honour such a commitment. But supposing on the day of 'Ashura, after performing our a'amaals or when the Ziyarah is recited after the aza, each one of us promises, in the name of Hussain ibne Ali, to give up one such activity as is contrary to the doctrines of Islam what a strong community we would be and what an excellent legacy we would leave for our children !! This in my opinion would be aza-e-Hussain par excellence !
D. AZA AS INSTRUMENT OF TABLEEGH
It is our duty to deliver Imam Hussain's message to the indigenous population of the country we live in. We can succeed in this only if we ourselves appear to be true followers of Imam in all our interaction with the community at large. We must reflect the maximum integrity, Islamic values and our sincere commitment to Imam's cause. We can not possibly be making the commitment enshrined in Ziyarat-e-Waritha without the least intention of honouring that commitment.
Processions are of course the institution effectively used in the countries of the East and in Africa. We have to convince ourselves that this institution can be equally effective in the West. If not, we must explore other means of taking Imam's message to the people. We have to examine such activities as:
1. blood donation through Hussaini Blood Banks;
2. distribution of food to the needy;
3. maximum usage of media to explain the event and the fact the Holy Imam died to save the basic values cherished by all the communities;
4. publication and distribution of leaflets;
5. distribution of cold drinks in schools and colleges;
6. visiting the patients in hospitals with floral gifts. You may find that when you take a small gift to a patient in hospital you will have carried the message of Hussain to the entire family of that patient.
All these suggestions are based on the institution of the public "sabeels" which we still have in the East and in Africa. While mourning is important, perhaps we should limit that within the confines of our Imambargahs, and demonstrate the true spirit of Imam Hussain's generosity when he ordered Hadhrat Abbas to provide water to Hur and his army. Perhaps we too may see a large number moving towards Islam and Imam Hussain.
E. ZAKIRI AND PRESENTATION OF HISTORY
I seek, with utmost respect, to offer word of caution to all my zakir colleagues.
Exaggeration can only discredit us and the cause of Imam Hussain. The historical accounts must be adhered to although at times, in our anxiety to arouse emotion, we resort to exaggeration. We should have the recorded history as our guide and reason and logic as our limitations as do most of our 'ulema and fuqaha.
Abu Mikhnaf was the earliest historian who took testimonies from eye witnesses and compiled his maqtal. There is in existence today an book in Arabic called Maqtal Abi Mikhnaf. It is doubtful whether this is the original text. However we do have the excerpts quoted by Tabari and other historians. We zakireen have relied on various sources principally Allamah Majlisi's Biharul Anwar and others. Several very good books in English exist on this subject. Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi is the compiler of a book containing several very interesting articles relating to the history of the tragedy of Kerbala. Then there is Shaykh Mufid (a.r.)'s al Irshad.
Extrapolations of certain inferences from known facts are not, in my opinion or in the opinion of the 'ulema, objectionable. For example description of natural human emotions, though not chronicled in vivid detail may be extrapolated if the description is within the bounds of reason and does not detract from the character of the personalities involved.
Some of the maqaatil can be faulted in respect of certain statements For example Tabari records that the age of Imam Zain-ul-'abideen (A.S.) was questioned at Kufa and he was examined to determine whether he had attained buloogh. (See the History of al Tabari, Vol. XIX page 166). Shaykh Mufid gives the fourth Imam's age at the time as 23 years. It is well known the Imam was married and had a son .
Many such contradictions exist in the maqaatil but this does not mean that we have to reject any account in toto. Detailed events, and often the names of those involved, are very difficult to record accurately even by an honest and meticulous chronicler recording contemporaneously as the events are taking place. Abu Mikhnaf began to compile his history, mostly through eye witness account at least twenty five years after the tragedy. It is necessary for us to be eclectic for so long as we remain within the confines of reason. To be eclectic we must know what historical material is available and where to find it.
It is not within the scope of this article to deal with all the historical sources I would refer the reader to S.H.M, Jafri's the Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, Chapter 7. I would also refer any reader interested in the subject to the following additional works:
1. The volume of Tabari referred to above.
2. Al-Irshad by Shaykh Mufid.
3. The article by Imam Hussain by Veccia Vaghliers in the Encyclopaedia of Islam which is based mostly Balaadhuri's account.
We have to remember that the 'ashra-e-Muharram is a very emotional period and this emotion has to be exploited by the ahle minabir to convey the message of Kerbala, to awaken a hatred against all that Yezid stood for and to rekindle a commitment to Islam as preached by the Ahlul Bayt and for which Imam Hussain laid down his life.
We can not perpetuate the illusion that aza-e-Hussain means no more than a few tears, matam and processions. These are the means and not the end. They are important only if they lead each of us becoming a better shiah than we were in the preceding year.
If we lose sight of the objectives we may find ourselves answerable for forgetting and holding to ridicule the cause for which our Imam sacrificed so much !
Imam Hussain himself advised a muslim who was claiming to be a shiah to fear Allah and not to make a false claim lest on the Day of Judgement he is raised with the liars. "Our shiah," the Imam added, "is the one whose heart is pure of malice, deception and corruption. His words and deeds are only for the pleasure of Allah."
We must during this forthcoming 'ashra-e Muharram pose this question to ourselves in all seriousness. Do we intend to make a commitment to Imam Hussain's objectives or do we wish to continue complacently in our current state, paying what can best be described a lip service to his martyrdom with demonstrative mourning only ??
While I pray that we begin, as we must, to understand the philosophy of aza-e-Hussain and make a serious commitment to the objectives of the King of Martyrs, I sincerely hope that there never comes a day when majaalis are replaced by clinical lectures devoid of all emotion ! Reason when supported by emotion has a more enduring effect, and it is for this very end that as a recompense of the rationality of the message of the Holy Prophet he is told by Allah to ask for no recompense save the love of Ahlul Bayt. Love, while being an emotional force, becomes hypocrisy if one fails to identify and follow the wishes of the loved one.
May all our Muharrams be true demonstration of our love for, and a confluence of emotion, reason and commitment to, Imam Hussain.
1. Kitab al-Irshad by Shaykh al Mufid
2. The History of Tabari, the English translation, Vol. XIX
3. The Rising of al-Husayn by Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Deen
4. Imam Husayn, the Saviour of Islam by Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
5. Al-Serat the Imam Husayn Conference Number, published by the Muhammadi Trust, July 1984.
6. The origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, by S.H.M. Jafri
7. Al-Tawhid, Vol. II No.1, the Editorial.
8. Al Tawhid, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Pages 41 to 74, reproducing the article by Martyr Murtadha Mutaharri entitled "Ashura : History and Popular Legend"
9. The History of Azadari published by Peermahomed Trust
10. The last issue of Jafferi News.
source : http://abna.ir