The life of Imām

The life of Imām


Zayn al ‘Abidin




Bāqir Sharif al-Qarashi






Jāsim al-Rasheed

Setting the Tents to Fire

The rude and roguish Umayyads set fire to the tents of Imām al-Husayn, peace be on him, paying no attention to the Prophet’s womenfolk and children who were in them. They carried firebrands in their hands and cried out: “Set fire to the houses of the oppressors!”

These people thought that the tents of al-Husayn were the houses of oppression while the houses of the Umayyads and of their agents were the houses of justice. They forgot that the Umayyads had drowned the Muslim countries in oppression and tyranny.

When they set the tents to fire, the women of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, escaped to the desert while the fire was following them. As for the orphans, they cried and ran away towards the desert asking the people for help, but nobody helped or aided them. That was the most tragic sight which Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin saw. He did not forget it throughout his lifetime. After the martyrdom of his father, he always said: “By Allah, when I look at my aunts and my sisters, tears choke me because I remember the day of al-Taff when they escaped from tent to tent and the caller of the people was calling: ‘Set fire to the houses of the oppressors!

Ibid., p. 3.


The Captives of the Household taken to Kūfa

The wise ladies of Revelation and the Message were taken prisoners to Kūfa, so the Umayyad army blew its trumpets and raised its banners to show its victory over the plant of the sweet basil of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, and lord of the youths of the heaven. Muslim al-Jassās described that sight, saying: “Ibn Ziyād summoned me to repair the House of the Governor in Kūfa. While I was plastering the doors, I heard cries coming from everywhere in Kūfa, so I went to the servant of the palace and asked him: “Why is Kūfa noisy?”

“This hour, they will bring the head of a rebel (khārijite) who revolted against Yazid,” answered the servant.

“Who is this rebel?” I asked.

“Al-Husayn b. ‘Ali,” was the answer.

He (Muslim al-Jassās) said: “So I left the servant, struck at my face to the extent that I feared that I would become blind, washed my hands from plaster, left the palace, and went to al-Kanās. While I was with the people waiting for the arrival of the captives and the heads, forty camels came carrying women and children, and ‘Ali b. al-Husayn came riding a camel without saddle. Both sides of his neck were bleeding. He was weeping and repeating these verses:

O community of evil, may your region be not


[1] Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, pp. 324 – 325.

O community that never respected in our regard

our grandfather,

on bare camels of burden have you transported

us as if we never put up a creed for you ![1]

Jadhlam b. Bashir said: “When I came to Kūfa in the year 61 A. H., ‘Ali b. al-Husayn along with the womenfolk came from Karbalā’ to Kūfa surrounded by soldiers. The were (riding) bare camels. The people came out to look at them, so the women of Kūfa wept and lamented over them. I saw that ‘Ali b. al-Husayn was sapped by illness, chains were placed on his neck and he was handcuffed.[2] He was saying with a weak voice: ‘They are weeping and lamenting over us! So who has killed us?’[3]”

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin delivers a Speech

The Kufāns surrounded Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, so he thought that he had to address them to make them know the sin of what they committed against themselves and the community. He, peace be on him, lauded and praised Allah, and then he said: “O men, whoever recognizes me knows me, and whoever does not, let me tell him that I am ‘Ali b. al-Husayn b. ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib. I am the son of the man whose sanctity has been violated, whose wealth has been plundered, whose children have been seized. I am the son of the one who has been slaughtered by the Euphrates neither on blood revenge nor on account of inheritance. I am the son of the one killed in the worst manner. This suffices me to be proud.

“O men, I plead to you in the Name of Allah: Do
you not know that you wrote my father then deceived him?
Did you not grant him your covenant, your promise, and your
allegiance, then you fought him? May you be ruined for what
you have committed against your own souls, and out of
your corrupt views! Through what eyes will you

[1]Ibid., p. 333.
[2] Shaykh al-Mufeed, al-Amāli, p. 143.
[3] ‘Abd Allah, Maqqtal al-Husayn.

look at the Messenger of Allah when he says to you: ‘You killed my progeny, violated my sanctity, so you do not belong to my community’?”

Those slaves who blackened the face of history wept loudly and lamented, and they said to each other: “You have perished, yet you are not aware of it.”

The Imām continued his speech, saying: “May Allah have mercy on anyone who acts upon my advice, who safeguards my legacy with regard to Allah, His Apostle, and his Household, for we have in the Apostle of Allah a good example of conduct to emulate.”

So they all said with one tongue: “We, son of the Apostle of Allah, listen and obey, and we shall safeguard your trust. We shall not turn away from you, nor shall we disobey you; so, order us, may Allah have mercy on you, for we shall fight when you fight, and we shall make peace when you do so; we dissociate ourselves from whoever oppressed you and dealt unjustly with you.”

In response to this false obedience, the Imām said: “Far, far away it is from you to do so, people of treachery and conniving! You are separated from what you desire. Do you want to come to me as you did to my father? No, by the Lord of those (angels) that ascend and descend, the wound is yet to heal. My father was killed only yesterday, and so were his Household, and the loss inflicted upon the Apostle of Allah, upon my father, and upon my family is yet to be forgotten. Its pain, by Allah, is between both of these (sides) and its bitterness is between my throat and palate. Its choke is resting in my very chest.[1]” Then the Imām refrained from speech, turning away from those treacherous conniving people who were the mark of disgrace against mankind. It was they who killed the plant of the sweet basil of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, (I. e., al-Husayn), who came to free them and to save them from the oppression and tyranny of the Umayyads. After that, they repented and wept over him.

[1] Ibn Namā, Muthir al-Ahzān.

The Tyrant with Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin

The captives of the Household of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, were caused to enter the palace of the Governor of Kūfa, b. Marjāna (i. e., ‘Ubayd Allah b. Ziyād). When the tyrant, b. Marjāna, saw Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, who was sapped by illness, he asked him: “Who are you?”

“I am ‘Ali b. al-Husayn,” answered the Imām.

“Did not Allah kill ‘Ali b. al-Husayn?” Ibn Ziyād asked the Imām.

The Imām carefully replied: “I used to have an older brother also named ‘Ali whom you killed. He will request you on the Day of Judgment.”

Ibn Ziyād burst with anger and shouted at the Imām: “Allah killed him!”

The Imām answered him with bravery and steadfastness: “Allah takes the souls away at the time of their death; none dies except with Allah’s permission.”

Ibn Marjāna was perplexed, not knowing what to answer this young captive who defeated him through giving proofs and quotations from the Qur’ān, so he shouted at him, saying: “How dare you answer me like that!”

The wicked sinner, b. Marjāna, ordered one of his swordsmen, saying: “Take this lad and behead him!”

The wise lady Zaynab, granddaughter of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, put her hands around the Imām and bravely said to b. Marjāna: “O Ibn Ziyād, it suffices you what you have shed of our blood! Have you really spared anyone other than this? If you want to kill him, kill me with him as well!”

The tyrant admired her and said to the swordsman with astonishment: “Leave him for her! Amazing is their tie of kinship; she wishes to be killed with him!”

Were it not for this heroic attitude of the wise lady Zaynab,

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin would have been killed and the rest of the progeny of Imām al-Husayn, peace be on him, who was the source of good and honor in the earth, would have been destroyed. In his book ‘al-Rasā’il’, al-Jāhiz reported that b. Marjāna said to his companions concerning ‘Ali b. al-Husayn: “Let me kill him, for he is the rest of this progeny (i. e., the progeny of al-Husayn), so through him I will sever this horn, deaden this disease, and cut off this material.”

However, they advised him to refrain from killing him, for they thought that the Imām would be destroyed by his illness.[1]”

A Kufān Kidnaps the Imām

A Kufān Kidnapped the Imām, hid him in his house, entertained and treated him kindly. When he saw the Imām, he burst into tears. The Imām thought that the Kufān was trustworthy. A short time later, the caller of b. Ziyād announced: “Whoever finds ‘Ali b. al-Husayn and brings him will have three hundred dirhams.” When the Kufān heard the caller, he put a rope around the Imām’s neck, tied his hands with the robe, and took the dirhams.[2] This initiative, if correct, gives a picture of the Kufāns who spared no effort to get money.

The Captives of the Household taken to Damascus

The womenfolk and the children of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, were taken as prisoners to Damascus. They were in a condition the sight of which would cause anyone’s soul to melt. All the Kufāns went out to see the captives of their Prophet off. The men and the women wept for them. Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, wondered at their attitude and said: “They killed us and are weeping over us![3]”

[1] Hayāt al-Imām al-Yusayn, vol. 3, pp. 345 – 347.
[2] Mir’āt al-Zamān fi Tawārikh al-A’yān, p. 98. Ibn al-Jawzi, vol. 5. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqāt.
[3] Mir’āt al-Zamān fi Tawārikh al-A’yān, p. 99.

The wicked sinner, Shimr b. Dhi al-Jawshan, ordered a rope to be put around Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin’s neck.[1] The historians said: “Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin did not say even a word to the rude people who accompanied him, nor did he ask them for a thing throughout the journey, for he knew that they were wicked and ignoble, and that they would not respond to any of his requests.

The caravan of the captives arrived at a place near Damascus and stopped there because the Umayyads wanted to decorate the city to show their rejoicing and the victory which the grandson of Abi Sufyān gained over the grandson of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family.

When Damascus was fully decorated, the captives of the Household of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, were caused to enter it.

A Syrian with Zayn al-‘Ābidin

An elderly Syrian, who was misled by the false rumors, came near Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, and said to him: “Praise belongs to Allah Who annihilated you and Who granted the governor the upper hand over you.”

The Imām looked at the elderly Syrian. He understood that the elderly Syrian misunderstood the truth and was deceived by the false Umayyad mass media, so he asked him: “Shaykh, have you read the Qur’ān?”

“Yes,” answered the man.

“Have you read,” continued the Imām, “the verse saying: ‘ Say: I do not ask you for a reward for it except that you treat my kinsfolk with kindness,’ the verse saying: ‘ and give the (Prophet’s) kinsfolk their due rights,’ and the verse saying: ‘and be informed that whatever you earn by way of booty, for Allah belongs the fifth thereof and for the Messenger (of Allah) and for the (Prophet’s) kinsfolk’? ”

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Q1/vol. 1.

The elderly Syrian admired the Imām and said to him with a faint voice: “Yes, I have read all of them.”

The Imām said to him: “We, by Allah, are the kinsfolk referred to in all these verses.” Then the Imām asked him: “Shaykh, have you read these words of Him, the exalted: ‘Allah only desires to take away uncleanness from you, O Household (of the Prophet) and purify thoroughly’? ”

“Yes,” was the answer.

“We are the Household (of the Prophet) whom Allah singled out with the Verse of Purification.”

The elderly Syrian shook all over. He wished that the earth had swallowed him up before saying his words. Then he asked the Imām: “I ask you in the Name of Allah, are you really them?”

“By our grandfather, Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, we are, without any doubt,” replied the Imām.

It was then that the elderly Syrian fell on Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin’s hands kissing them. His tears flowed down his cheeks, and he said: “I dissociate myself before Allah from those who killed you!”

The elderly Syrian sought repentance from the Imām from whatever rude remarks he had made earlier. So he, peace be on him, forgave him.[1]”

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin in the Assembly of Yazid

The police men of Yazid tied with ropes the wise women of Revelation and the children of Imām al-Husayn, as sheep are tied. The beginning of the rope was around the neck of Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, then around the neck of his aunt Zaynab, up to all the daughters of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. Whenever they relaxed in their walking, they (the police men of Yazid) whipped

[1] Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 371.

them. They brought them in this condition whose terror cracked the mountains and made them stop before Yazid. So Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin turned to him and asked him: “What do you think the reaction of our grandfather, Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, might have been had he seen us looking like this?” The tyrant, Yazid, collapsed. All those who were in his assembly wept. Yazid felt pain of that tragic sight, so he said: “May Allah detest b. Marjāna the ugly. If there had been (any bond of) kinship between him and you, he would not have done this to you; he would not have sent you in this state.” Then the tyrannical one, Yazid, ordered the ropes to be cut off, turned to Zayn al-‘Ābidin and said him: “How did you, ‘Ali, see what Allah did to your father al-Husayn?”

Al-Husayn’s brave son (Zayn al-‘Ābidin) answered with calmness and tranquillity: “Whatever misfortune befalls the earth or your own selves is already in a Book even before we cause it to happen; this is easy for Allah, so that you may not grieve about what you missed nor feel elated on account of what you receive. And Allah does not love those who are haughty and proud.”

The tyrant, Yazid, burst in anger, his elation went away, and recited these words of Him, the Exalted: “Whatever misfortune befalls you is due to what your hands commit.” The Imām answered him, saying: “This (verse) concerns those who do wrong, not those who are wronged.” Then he turned his face away from him to disdain him and his position.[1]

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin delivers a Sermon

Yazid permitted all the people to come to his palace, so the hall of his palace became full of people who came and congratulated him on the false victory. He was pleased and happy, because the world yielded to him, and the kingdom belonged to him only. So he ordered the orator to ascend the pulpit and to defame al-Husayn and his father, Imām ‘Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. The

[1] Ibid., p. 376.

orator ascended the pulpit and went too far in slandering the pure family (of the Prophet), and then he lauded in a false way Yazid and his father Mu‘āwiya. Thus, Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, interrupted him, saying: “Woe unto you, orator! You have traded the pleasure of the creature for the wrath of the Creator, so take your place in the fire (of Hell).”

Then the Imām turned to Yazid and asked him, saying: “Do you permit me to ascend this pulpit to deliver a speech that will please Allah, the Almighty, and that will bring good rewards for these folks?”

The attendants were astonished at this sick lad, who interrupted the orator and the governor while he was a captive. Yazid refused, but the people begged him. He said to them: “If he ascends the pulpit, he will not descends (from it) till he expose me and the family of Abi Sufyān.”

The people asked him: “What will this sick lad do?”

The people did not know the Imām. They thought that he was like the other people, but the tyrant, Yazid, knew him, so he said to them: “These are people who have been spoon-fed with knowledge.”

They kept pressuring him till he agreed. So the Imām ascended the pulpit and delivered the most wonderful speech in history in eloquence. He made the people weep. The folks were confused because the Imām’s speech controlled their hearts and feelings. The following is some of what he said: “O people, we were granted six things and favored with seven: We were granted knowledge, clemency, leniency, fluency, courage, and love for us in the hearts of the believers. We were favored by the fact that from among us came the chosen Prophet, Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, al-siddiq (the very truthful one), al-Tayyār (the one who flies in the heaven), the Lion of Allah and of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, the mistress of the women of the world Fātima the chaste, and both lords of the youths of Heaven from among this nation”

Having introduced his family, the Imām continued his speech

explaining their outstanding merits, saying: “Whoever recognizes me knows me, and whoever does not recognize, let me tell him who I am and to what family I belong: I am the son of Mecca and Mina; I am the son of Zamzam and al-Safā; I am the son of the one who carried Zakāt in the ends of the mantle; I am the son of the best man who ever put on a loincloth and clothes; I am the son of the best man who ever put on sandals and walked barefooted; I am the son of the best man who ever made tawāf (the procession round the Kaaba) and Sa‘i (ceremony of running seven times between Safā and Marwā); I am the son of the best man who ever offered the hajj and pronounced talbiya (Here I am at your service); I am the son of the one who was transported on the burāq in the air; I am the son of the one who was made to travel from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque, so glory belongs to Him Who made (His Servant) travel; I am the son of the one who was taken by Gabriel to sidrat al-muntahā ; I am the son of the one who drew near (his Lord) and suspended, so he was the measure of two bows or closer still; I am the son of the one who led the angels of the heavens in prayer; I am the son of the one to whom the Almighty revealed what He revealed; I am the son of Mohammed al-Mustafā ; I am the son of ‘Ali al-Murtadā ; I am the son of the one who fought against the creatures till they said: There is no god but Allah. I am the son of the one who struck (the enemies) with two swords before Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, and stabbed (them) with two spears, emigrated twice, pledged allegiance twice (to the Prophet), prayed in the two qiblas, and fought (against the unbelievers) at Badr and Hunayn and never disbelieved in Allah not even as much as the twinkling of an eye. I am the son of the best of the believers, the heir of the prophets, the destroyer of the unbelievers, the Commander of the Muslims, the light of the mujāhidin, the ornament of the worshippers, the crown of the weepers, the most patient of the patient, and the best of the steadfast from among the family of Yāsin, and the Messenger of the Lord of the world’s inhabitants. I am the son of the one who was backed by Gabriel, supported by Mikāel. I
am the son of the one who defended the Muslims, killed
the oath breakers of allegiance and the unjust and
the renegades, struggled against his tiring enemies, the most excellent one of those who walked (to war) from among Quraysh, the first to respond to Allah from among the believers, the prior to all the previous ones, the breaker of the aggressors, the destroyer of the atheists, an arrow from among the shooting-places of Allah against the hypocrites, the tongue of the wisdom of worshippers, the supporter of the religion of Allah, the protector of the affair of Allah, the garden of the wisdom of Allah, the container of the knowledge of Allah, tolerant, generous, benevolent, pure, Abtahi, satisfied, easily satisfied, intrepid, gallant, patient, fasting, refined, steadfast, courageous, honored, the severer of the backbones, the scatterer of the allies, the calmest of them, the best of them in giving free rein (to his horse), the boldest of them in tongue, the firmest of them in determination, the most powerful of them, a lion, brave, pouring rain, the one who destroyed them at the battles and dispersed them in the wind, the lion of al-Hijāz, the possessor of the miracle, the ram of Iraq, the Imām through the text and worthiness, Makki, Madani, Abtahi, Tuhāmi, Khay‘ani, ‘Uqbi, Badri, Uhdi, Shajari, Muhājiri, the Lord of the Arabs, the Lion of war, the inheritor of al-Mash‘arayn, the father of the two grandsons (of the Prophet) al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the one who manifested miracles, the one who scattered the phalanxes, the piercing meteor, the following light, the victorious Lion of Allah, the request of every seeker, the victorious over every victorious, such is my grandfather, ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib. I am the son of Fātima, the chaste. I am the son of the mistress of women. I am the son of the purified, virgin (lady). I am the son of the part of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family.[1] I am the son of the one who was covered with blood. I am the son of the one who was slaughtered at Karbalā’. I am the son of the one for whom the Jinns wept in the dark and for whom the birds in the air cried.[2]”

The Imām continued saying ‘I am….’ until the people wailed.

[1] Ibid., p. 387.
[2] Nafs al-Mahmūm, p. 242.

Yazid thought that a discord would occur, for the Imām made a cultural revolt through his speech when he introduced himself to the Syrians and made them know what they did not know, so Yazid ordered the muadhdhin to say the adhān and he said: “Allāhu Akbar!”

The Imām turned to him and said: “You have made great the Great One who cannot be measured and cannot be perceived by senses, there is nothing greater than Allah.”

The muadhdhin said: “Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allāh!”

‘Ali b. al-Husayn said: “My hair, my skin, my flesh, my blood, my brain, and my bones bear witness that there is no god but Allah.”

The muadhdhin said: “Ashhadu anna Mohammedan rasool Allah!”

The Imām turned to Yazid and asked him: “Yazid, is Mohammed your grandfather or mine? If you say that he is yours, then you are a liar, and if you say that he is mine, then why did you kill his family?[1]”

Yazid became silent and was unable to answer, for the great Prophet was Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin’s grandfather. As for Yazid’s grandfather, he was Abū Sufyān, who was the mortal enemy of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. The Syrians understood that they were drowning in sin, and that the Umayyad government spared no effort to delude and mislead them.

The Imām confined his speech to introducing the Prophet’s Household to the Syrians. He indicated to them that the Prophet’s Household had a great position with Allah, that they waged jihad against the enemies of Islam, and that they suffered persecutions. The Imām mentioned nothing other than these matters. I (the author) think that this confinement to these matters is among the most wonderful considerations and among the most exact type of eloquence. This is because the Syrians knew nothing about the Prophet’s Household except what the pseudo clergy men fabricated against them; the

[1] Al-Khawārizmi, Maqqtal al-Husayn, vol. 2, p. 242.

authority and its mercenaries fed the Syrians on enmity toward the Prophet’s Household and on obedience to the Umayyads.

Anyhow, the Imām’s speech had a great effect on the Syrians, who secretly told each other about the Umayyad false mass media, and about the disappointment and loss at which they reached, so their attitudes toward Yazid changed[1] and they looked at him with disdain.

The Imām with al-Minhāl

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, met al-Minhāl b. ‘Amr and he asked him: “How have you received the evening, O son of the Apostle of Allah?”

The Imām looked at him and said to him: “We received the evening like the Israelites among the people of Pharaoh: they kill their sons and take their women captive. The Arabs brag before the non-Arabs saying that Mohammed was one of them, while Quraysh boasts before the rest of the Arabs of Mohammed belonging to it. We, his Household, are now homeless; so, to Allah we belong and to Him is our return.[2]”

The greatest Prophet was the original source for the honor of the Arab community. It was he who planned the honorable life for it and established for it the strongest state in the world, but Quraysh, who boasted before the rest of the Arabs of Mohammed belonging to it, killed his children and took his womenfolk as captives.

The Tyrannical apologizes to the Imām

When the Syrians became indignant with Yazid because of his killing the plant of sweet basil of Allah’s Apostle, he (Yazid) summoned Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, apologized to him, and regarded b. Marjāna (‘Ubayd Allah b. Ziyād) responsible for killing al-Husayn, saying: “May Allah curse b. Marjāna! By Allah, if I had been with him (al-Husayn), he would never have asked me for a

[1] Jawhart al-Kalām fi Maddh al-Sāda al-‘Alām, p. 128.
[2] Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 291.
favor without me granting him it; I would have protected him from death with all my power even through destroying some of my sons. But Allah has decreed what you have seen. My little son, write to me and everything that you need is yours.[1] Affairs will occur among your people, so do not take part in them.[2]”

However, Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin turned away from him and said nothing to him, for he knew that the reason for his apology was an escape from the crime he committed.

A Scholar asks about the Imām

A Jewish scholar was in the assembly of Yazid. He admired Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, so he asked Yazid: “Who is that lad?”

“‘Ali b. al-Husayn,” replied Yazid.

“Who is al-Husayn?” asked the Jewish scholar.

“Son of ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib,” answered Yazid.

“Who is his mother?” asked the Jewish scholar.

“Mohammed’s daughter,” replied Yazid.

“Glory belongs to Allah,” explained the Jewish scholar, “this is the son of the daughter of your Prophet, (why did) you kill him? You opposed him by doing evil to his blood relations. By Allah, if our Prophet, Mūsā b. ‘Umrān, had left a grandson among us, we would have worshipped him instead of Allah. Your Prophet left you yesterday; nevertheless you revolted against his grandson and killed him. How bad a community you are!”

The tyrannical one, Yazid, became angry and ordered the Jewish scholar to be hit on the mouth, still the Jewish scholar said: “Kill me if you want to. I have found in the Torah that whoever kills the progeny of a prophet will be cursed as long as he remains (living). When he dies, Allah will cause him to enter the fire of Hell.[3]”

[1] Ibn al-Athir, Tārikh, vol. 3, p. 300.
[2] Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 1, p. 157.
[3] Al-Hadā’iq al-Wardiya, vol. 1, p. 131. Al-Futūh, vol. 5, p. 246.

The Imām with Yazid

The tyrannical one, Yazid, met Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin and asked him to ask his needs, so the Imām, peace be on him, said: “I want you to show me my father’s face, and bring back to the women what had been taken from them, for among it is the inheritances of fathers and mothers. If you want to kill me, send with the family someone to guide them to Medina.”

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, asked Yazid to show him his father’s head to bid the final farewell to it or to bury it with the holy corpse, but the tyrannical one (Yazid) refused to give him the head because he intended to show it around the country to spread fear among the people and to be a lesson for those who might revolt against him.

He also asked him to bring back what was taken from the women on Muharram 10th. With this the Imām did not mean the ornaments, rather he meant the dear things he inherited from his grandfather, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, such as his turban, his breastplate, and his sword.

Yazid, the tyrannical, bowed his head. He thought about the Imām’s requests. Then he raised his head and said: “As for the face of your father, you will never see it. As for what was taken from you, it will be brought back to you. As for the women, no one will repatriate them except you. As for you, I will not kill you.[1]”

The Journey to Medina

Yazid ordered al-Nu‘mān b. Bashir to escort the womenfolk of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and to send them back to Medina.[2] He ordered him to take them out at night because he feared dissension and repercussions.[3] The caravan walked and began

[1] Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 414.
[2] Jawhart al-Kalām fi Maddh al-Sāda al-‘Alām, p. 128.
[3] Tafsir al-Matālib fi Amāli Abi Tālib, p. 93. Al-Hadā’iq al-Wardiya, vol. 1, p.
covering the desert. The Alid women asked al-Nu‘mān b. Bashir to take them to Karbalā’ to renew their covenant with the grave of the Lord of martyrs, peace be on him. Having reached Karbalā’, the Alid women hurried to the grave of Imām Abi ‘Abd Allah, peace be on him, weeping and wailing. They stayed there mourning al-Husayn for three days to the extent that their voices became hoarse and their hearts became broken. Some sources mentioned that Jābir b. ‘Abd Allah al-Ansāri, a great companion of the Prophet, visited the grave of al-Husayn, Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, met him and told him about the tragedies which the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, faced, and then they left Karbalā’ and headed for Medina.

Bishr announced the Death of Imām al-Husayn

When Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, came close to Medina, he alighted, set up a tent where he lodged his aunts and his sisters, turned to Bishr b. Hadhlam and said to him: “O Bishr, may Allah have mercy on your father, who was a poet! Can you compose any of it at all?” “Yes, O son of Allah’s Apostle,” replied Bishr. So the Imām ordered him to enter Medina and to announce the death of Imām al-Husayn among its people. Hence, Bishr set off towards Medina. When he came near the Mosque of the Prophet, he cried loudly and recited these verses:

O people of Yathrib! May you never stay


Al-Husayn was killed, so my tears now rain,

His body is in Karbalā’ covered with blood

While his head is on spear displayed.

The people went in a hurry to the Mosque of the Prophet

weeping loudly for the Imām, peace be on him. They gathered around Bishr, who was weeping, asking him for more information of al-Husayn, so he said to them: “Here is ‘Ali b. al-Husayn accompanied by his aunts and sisters; they have all returned to you. I am his messenger to you to inform you of his place.[1]”

The people went out to receive Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin all weeping and wailing. The historians said that that day was like the day when Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, passed away.[2] They surrounded the Imām to offer him their condolences.

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin delivers a Speech

The Imām, peace be on him, thought that he had to tell the people about the tragedies which they were subjected to. The Imām was unable to stand up to deliver a speech, for he was sapped by illness and overcome by grief, so a chair was brought for him. He sat in the chair and said: “Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the King of the Day of Judgment, Creator of all creation, Who is the Exalted in the high heavens, Who is so near, He hears even the silent speech. We praise Him on the grave events, on time’s tragedies, on the pain inflicted by such tragedies, on the crushing of calamities, on the greatness of our catastrophe, on our great, monstrous, magnanimous and afflicting hardships.

“O People, Allah, the Most Exalted One, praise belong to Him, has tried us with great trials and tribulations, with a tremendous loss suffered by the religion of Islam. Abū ‘Abd Allah, al-Husayn, and his family have been killed, and his womenfolk and children taken captives. They displayed his head in every land from the top of a spear. Such is the catastrophe similar to which there is none at all.

“O people, which men among you are happy after him, or which

[1] Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 423.
[2] Al-Luhūf, p. 116.
heart is not grieved on his account? Which eye among you withholds its tears and is too miser with its tears? The seven great heavens wept over his killing; the seas wept with their waves, and so did the heavens with their corners and the earth with its expanse; so did the trees with their branches and the fish in the depths of the seas. So did the angels who are close to their Lord. So did all those in the heavens.

“O People, which heart is not grieved with his killing? Which heart does not yearn for him? Which hearing hears such a calamity that has befallen Islam without becoming deaf.

“O people, we have become homeless, exiles, outcasts, shunned, distanced from all countries as though we were the offspring of the Turks or of Kabul without having committed a crime, nor an abomination, nor afflicted a calamity on Islam! Never did we ever hear such a thing from our fathers of old. This is something new. By Allah, had the Prophet required them to fight us just as he had required them to be good to us, they would not have done to us any more than what they already have. So we belong to Allah and to Him is our return from this calamity, and what a great, painful, hard, cruel, and catastrophic calamity it is! To Allah do we complain from what has happened to us, from the sufferings we have endured, for He is the Omnipotent, the Vengeful.”

Sa‘sa‘a, an invalid who could barely walk on his feet, stood up and apologized to the Imām for not rushing to help his family due to his handicap. Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, responded to him by accepting his excuse, telling him that he thought well of him, thanked him and asked Allah to have mercy on his father. Then the Imām walked accompanied by his aunts and sisters. The people surrounded him weeping and wailing until they reached the Mosque of the Prophet. There Zaynab, the wise lady of the family of Abi Tālib, took both knobs of the door of the mosque and cried out and addressed her grandfather, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, saying: “O my grandfather, I mourn to you my brother al-Husayn![1]”

[1] Al-Muqrim, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 472.

The wise ladies who were born and grew up in the lap of the Prophet held a mourning ceremony for the Lord of the martyrs. They put on the most coarse clothes and shrouded themselves in black and continued weeping and wailing.

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin’s Grief

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, kept weeping day and night over his father and the members of his Household. Imām al-Sādiq, peace be on him, said: “My grandfather, ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, wept over his father for twenty years. When food was put before him, he wept.[1]” One of his retainers blamed him, saying: “I fear for you lest you should perish.”

So the Imām kindly said to him: “I only convey my complaints and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah what you all do not know. Ya‘qūb (Jacob) was a prophet from whom Allah caused one of his sons to be separated. He had twelve sons, and he knew that his son (Joseph) was still alive, he wept over him till he lost his eye sight. I looked at my father, my brothers, my uncles, and my companions (and saw them) slain all around me, so how can my grief end? Whenever I remember how Fātima’s children were slaughtered, tears choke me. Whenever I look at my aunts and sisters, I remember how they were fleeing from one tent to another.[2]”

When the Imām looked at water, his weeping increased, and his pain doubled. This is because water reminded him of the thirst of his father and the members of his Household. The narrators said: “When he took some water to drink, he wept. So he was asked about that, and he answered: ‘How do I not weep (while) my father was prevented from drinking the water which was free for beasts and wild animals?’t”>[3]”

[1] Ahmed Fahmi, al-Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 31.
[2] Al-Muqrim, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 47. A narration similar to this has been reported in Hulyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 3, p. 138.
[3] Al-Majjlisi, Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 46, p. 108.

The Imām always wept over his father, and it was said to him: “You always weep, even if you kill yourself, you will increase (nothing) with this.” So he said: “I have killed my soul, and over it I weep.[1]”

A group of his retainers and the members of his Household felt pity for him because of his abundant weeping, so one of them asked him: “Has n’t your grief end yet?”

The Imām answered him, saying: “Woe unto you! Ya‘qūb (Jacob) was a prophet from whom Allah caused one of his sons to be separated. He had twelve sons, and he knew that his son (Joseph) was still alive in the world, he wept over him till he lost his eye sight. I looked at my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen (persons) from the members of my Household (and saw them) slain all around me, so how can my grief end?[2]”

His heart melt with pity for his father, his Household, and his friends whose heads the swords of aggression severed in a cruel manner.

His Paying the Debts which his Father owed

Imām al-Husayn, peace be on him, was indebted to a group of people for more than seventy thousand dinars, so Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, took great care of paying them to the extent that he prevented himself from having food and water. When he prepared this sum (of money), he hurried to pay every debt to the person to whom it was owed, and thus he could free his father from such an obligation.[3]

[1] Ibid, p. 109.
[2] Ibid, p. 108.
[3] Sir al-Silsila al-‘Alawiya, p. 32.





Is Youth the Problem?

Is Youth the Problem?
A short discussion on duty and attitudes
Sayyid Ali Raza Naqvi. 
Sayyid Ali is a lecturer in Arabic at the Institute and was formerly the headmaster of the Muhammadi Madrassah, Birmingham.  He is a graduate of the Madrassah Syed al-Khoei, London. A tradition from Imam Ali (a.s) states that, ‘groom your child in (to suit) his time.’
By this we mean that the children of today should not, necessarily, be expected to rigidly follow a system of different cultures and beliefs as they existed 50 years ago, whether or not these temporal practices are right or wrong. The only exception here being the divine principles of Islamic Values and the fundamental Creed of Islam that the Prophet brought 1400 years ago, for these will not undergo change until the day of Judgement. To clarify the point, further – The 3 Principles of Religion – Tawhid (Incorporating Adalat), Nabuwat (Incorporating Imamat), Qiyamat – will remain the same. Similarly the doctrinal branches of Religion, which are 10 in number, namely: Salat, Sawm, Haj, Zakat, Khums, Amr bil Ma’aruf, Nahy anil Munkar, Jihad, Tawalla and Tabarra – will remain the same, but, in the application of these roots and branches things may change in accordance to the demands of the time, for example the methods of Jihad applied 200 years ago would be very different in 2003.  It can also be seen that the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ are included in this list of principles and are integrated with the basic ideological framework required of a Muslim.  Having said this, we see in our society that the youth is expected to do much that he would not before have been required to do and we have to take into consideration that Parents do have a major role to play in the upbringing of a child.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has said: “I counsel you to be good to youths, for they have the softest hearts.”

If Parents listened to this advice of the Prophet (saw) today, faith would not have been equated to crisis. Rather we would have a generation of youth who would be hopeful, ambitious, confident, dynamic, constructive, developmental and above all filled with Iman (faith).

Some psychologists view the stage of Youth as one of long personal crisis; they regard youth as a stage, which brings worry, confusion, depression, agitation etc.

Communities talk nothing but Youth; “They are in a crisis!”, ” They don’t behave well!”, “They don’t talk but in vain!”
But let us ponder on this deeply:
Are they really in a crisis? Are they from another Planet? Are they not our own flesh and blood? Don’t we see people who have no children, going to great lengths to have them? Hasn’t the Prophet said ‘to look at your child with love equals worship?’ Then, why do we see youth as a problem?
It is no part of Islamic belief that youth is an oppressive problem; rather the young are the apples of our eyes, the beat of our hearts. So where does the problem lie?
If indeed there is a problem, then it is not in the youth themselves, but rather in the way we, as adults, tackle the problem and this would be solved by knowing and finding out sincerely how to get closer to and working with them on it.

A youth is made to become a crisis by the environment around him, be it in the house, school, street, institution or even the mosque, we may not be interacting with them properly despite knowing how sensitive this age group may be. Instead we treat them with severity and harshness, using insults and finally branding them as a ‘problems’. The youth may be looked upon as that small child who did not grow up, but we should not put more pressure on them by prohibiting things, which God has never made haram. In such circumstances, the boy or girl falls back on the people closest to them and here he/she may receive insufficient or deficient understanding. The child who is denied affectionate contact may become withdrawn, keeping himself aloof and in solitude where the possibility of creating an imaginary world of fantasy and violence becomes very real because of the belief that they were either mistreated or misunderstood.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has said:
“The Parents must not be stubborn with their child, just as the child must not disobey the parents.”  What parents need to do is to read and understand the Holy Qur’an with the intention of learning how to bring up a child.

The words of exhortation used in the Qur’an wherein Luqman counsels his son, are designed to expand our horizons on matters of doctrine and life. Therefore, we see the method of encouragement in the Holy Qur’an is to articulate life issues, and thus it pushes the idea closer to experiences retained in the mind. On the same note there is a saying that ‘he who does not have an exhorter within himself cannot benefit from an exhorter.’ This means that a person can be encouraged only through himself.

As Imam Ali (‘a.s) has said in Nahjul Balagha:
“The best of what you experience is that which encourages you.” On this basis, we therefore find that one type of lesson is given by personal actions.  The Holy Qur’an says:

“Why do you preach that which you do not do?”  



AHL AL-BAYT (as.) These translations have been made without any attempt to change or modify them from the original Arabic texts.  This includes the style and blessings upon the Holy Prophet, (saw) his Family, (as) and Companions, (ra).

It is the translators intention to present these ahadith in their entirety for general consideration and he has thus refrained from any discussions about their isnad, reliability or meaning. 

Abû ‘Abdullâh Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl al-Bukhârî was born on the 13th of the Islâmic month of Shawwâl, 194AH, in the famous city of Bukhara, of the land “beyond the canal” – present day Uzbekistan, and he died in the year 265 AH. His collection of Hadith is considered by both Sunni and Shi’ite scholars as one of the greatest contribution s to hadith studies.

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 51:

Narrated Sahl bin Sad:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Tomorrow I will give the flag to a man with whose leadership Allah will grant (the Muslim) victory.” So the people kept on thinking the whole night as to who would be given the flag. The next morning the people went to Allah’s Apostle and every one of them hoped that he would be given the flag. The Prophet said, “Where is Ali bin Abi Talib?” The people replied, “He is suffering from eye trouble, O Allah’s Apostle.” He said, “Send for him and bring him to me.” So when ‘Ali came, the Prophet spat in his eyes and invoked good on him, and he was cured as if he had no ailment. The Prophet then gave him the flag. ‘Ali said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I fight them (i.e. enemy) till they become like us?” The Prophet said, “Proceed to them steadily till you approach near to them and then invite them to Islam and inform them of their duties towards Allah which Islam prescribes for them, for by Allah, if one man is guided on the right path (i.e. converted to Islam) through you, it would be better for you than (a great number of) red camels.”

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 52:
Narrated Salama:
Ali happened to stay behind the Prophet and (did not
join him) during the battle of Khaibar for he was having eye trouble. Then he said, “How could I remain behind Allah’s Apostle?” So ‘Ali set out following the Prophet. When it was the eve of the day in the morning of which Allah helped (the Muslims) to victory, Allah’s Apostle said, “I will give the flag (to a man), or tomorrow a man whom Allah and His Apostle love will take the flag,” or he said, “A man who loves Allah and His Apostle; and Allah will grant victory under his leadership.” Suddenly came ‘Ali whom we did not expect. The people said, “This is ‘Ali.”  Allah’s Apostle gave him the flag and Allah granted victory under his leadership.

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 54:
Narrated Sad bin ‘Ubaida:
A man (from the Kharijites) came to Ibn ‘Umar and asked about ‘Uthman and Ibn ‘Umar mentioned his good deeds and said to the questioner. “Perhaps these facts annoy you?” The other said, “Yes.” Ibn ‘Umar said, “May Allah stick your nose in the dust (i.e. degrade you)!” Then the man asked him about ‘Ali. Ibn ‘Umar mentioned his good deeds and said, “It is all true, and that is his house in the midst of the houses of the Prophet. Perhaps these facts have hurt you?” The questioner said, “Yes.” Ibn ‘Umar said, “May Allah stick your nose in the dust (i.e. degrade you or make you do things which you hate)! Go away and do whatever you can against me.”

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 56:
Narrated Ubaida:
Ali said (to the people of ‘Iraq), “Judge as you used to judge, for I hate differences (and I do my best) till the people unite as one group, or I die as my companions have died.” And narrated Sa’d that the Prophet said to ‘Ali, “Will you not be pleased from this that you are to me like Aaron was to Moses?”

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 58:
Narrated Ash-Sha’bi:
Whenever Ibn ‘Umar greeted Ibn Jafar, he used to say: “As-salamu-‘Alaika (i.e. Peace be on you) O son of Dhu-l-Janahain (son of the two-winged person).”

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 61:
Narrated Al-Miswar bin MakhramaAllah’s Apostle said, “Fatima is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry.”

Volume 5, Book 57, Number 62:
Narrated ‘Aisha:
The Prophet called his daughter Fatima during his illness in which he died, and told her a secret whereupon she wept. Then he called her again and told her a secret whereupon she laughed. When I asked her about that, she replied, “The Prophet spoke to me in secret and informed me that he would die in the course of the illness during which he died, so I wept. He again spoke to me in secret and informed me that I would be the first of his family to follow him (after his death) and on that I laughed.”

Volume 4, Book 56, Number 742:

Narrated ‘Uqba bin Al-Harith:
(Once) Abu Bakr offered the ‘Asr prayer and then went out walking and saw Al-Hasan playing with the boys. He lifted him on to his shoulders and said,  “Let my parents be sacrificed for your sake! (You) resemble the Prophet and not ‘Ali,” while ‘Ali was smiling.

Volume 4, Book 56, Number 743:
Narrated Abu Juhaifa:
I saw the Prophet, and Al-Hasan resembled him.

Volume 4, Book 56, Number 744:
Narrated Isma’il bin Abi Khalid:
I heard Abu Juhaifa saying, “I saw the Prophet, and Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali resembled him.” I said to Abu- Juhaifa, “Describe him for me.” He said, “He was white and his beard was black with some white hair. He promised to give us 13 young she-camels, but he expired before we could get them.”

Muslim (full name Abul Husain Muslim bin al-Hajjaj al-Nisapuri) was born in 202 A.H. and died in 261 A.H. He travelled widely to gather his collection of ahadith, including to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt. Out of 300,000 ahadith that he evaluated, only 4,000 approximately were extracted for inclusion into his collection based on stringent acceptance criteria. Muslim was a student of Bukhari


Book 031, Number 5920:
Yazid b. Hayyan reported, I went along with Husain b. Sabra and ‘Umar b. Muslim to Zaid b. Arqam and, as we sat by his side, Husain said to him: Zaid you have been able to acquire a great virtue that you saw Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) listened to his talk, fought by his side in (different) battles, offered prayer behind me. Zaid, you have in fact earned a great virtue. Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). He said: I have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), so accept whatever I narrate to you, and which I do not narrate do not compel me to do that. He then said: One day Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: ‘Ali and the offspring of ‘Ali, ‘Aqil and the offspring of ‘Aqil and the offspring of Ja’far and the offspring of ‘Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes.

Book 031, Number 5921:
This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Zaid b. Arqam through another chain of transmitters.

Book 031, Number 5922:
This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abu Hayyan but with this addition:” The Book of Allah contains right guidance, the light, and whoever adheres to it and holds it fast, he is upon right guidance

and whosoever deviates from it goes astray.

Book 031, Number 5913:

Amir b Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) while addressing Ali said: You are in the same position with relation to me as Aaron- (Harun) was in relation to Moses but with (this explicit difference) that there is no prophet after me. Sa’d said: I had an earnest desire to hear it directly from Sa’d, so I met him and narrated to him what (his son) Amir had narrated to me, whereupon he said: Yes, I did hear it. I said: Did you hear it yourself? Thereupon he placed his fingers upon his ears and said: Yes, and if not, let both my ears become deaf.

Book 031, Number 5914:
Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) left ‘Ali b. Abi Talib behind him (as he proceeded) to the expedition of Tabuk, whereupon he (‘Ali) said: Allah’s Messenger, are you leaving me behind amongst women and children? Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Aren’t you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there would be no prophet after me?

Book 031, Number 5915:
This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Shu’ba with the same chain of transmitters. Amir b. Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyin appointed Sa’d as the Governor and said: What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat ‘Ali), whereupon he said: It is because of three things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I find one of those three things for me, it would be more dear to me than the red camel. I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say about ‘Ali as he left him behind in one of his campaigns (that was Tabuk). Ali said to him: Allah’s Messenger, you leave me behind along with women and children. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to him: Aren’t you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there is no Prophethood after me? And I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaibar: I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger and Allah and his Messenger love him too. He (the narrator) said: We have been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Holy Prophet) said: Call ‘Ali. He was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory. (The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed:” Let us summon our children and your children.” Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) called ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, these are my family.

Book 031, Number 5917:
Suhail reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said on the Day of Khaibar: I shall certainly give this standard in the hand of one who loves Allah and his Messenger and Allah will grant victory at his hand. Umar b. Khattab said: Never did I cherish for leadership but on that day. I came before him with the hope that I may be called for this, but Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) called ‘Ali b. Abu Talib and he conferred (this honour) upon him and said: Proceed on and do not look about until Allah grants you victory, and ‘Ali went a bit and then halted and did not look about and then said in a loud voice: Allah’s Messenger, on what issue should I fight with the people? Thereupon he (the Prophet) said: Fight with them until they bear testimony to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger, and when they do that then their blood and their riches are inviolable from your hands but what is justified by law and their reckoning is with Allah.

Book 031, Number 5919:

Salama b. Akwa’ reported that it was ‘Ali whom Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) left behind him (in the charge of his family and the Islamic State) on the occasion of the campaign of Khaibar, and his eyes were inflamed and he said: Is it for me to remain behind Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him)? So he went forth and rejoined Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) and on the evening of that night (after which) next morning Allah granted victory. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: I will certainly give this standard to a man whom Allah and His Messenger love, or he said: Who loves Allah or His Messenger and Allah will grant him victory through him, and, lo, we saw ‘Ali whom we least expected (to be present on that occasion). They (the Companions) said: Here is ‘Ali. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) gave him the standard. Allah granted victory at his hand. Book 031, Number 5923:
Yazid b. Hayyan reported: We went to him (Zaid b. Arqam) and said to him. You have found goodness (for you had the honour) to live in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and offered prayer behind him, and the rest of the hadith is the same but with this variation of wording that lie said: Behold, for I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, one of which is the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, and that is the rope of Allah. He who holds it fast would be on right guidance and he who abandons it would be in error, and in this (hadith) these words are also found: We said: Who are amongst the members of the household? Aren’t the wives (of the Holy Prophet) included amongst the members of his household? Thereupon he said: No, by Allah, a woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a certain period; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and to her people; the members of his household include his ownself and his kith and kin (who are related to him by blood) and for him the acceptance of Zakat is prohibited.

Book 031, Number 5924:
Sahl b. Sa’d reported that a person from the offspring of Marwan was appointed as the governor of Medina. He called Sahl b. Sa’d and ordered him to abuse All Sahl refused to do that. He (the governor) said to him: If you do not agree to it (at least) say: May Allah curse Abu Turab. Sahl said: There was no name dearer to All than Abu Turab (for it was given to him by the Holy Prophet himself) and he felt delighted when he was called by this name. He (the governor) said to him: Narrate to us the story of his being named as Abu Turab. He said: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to the house of Fatima and he did not find ‘Ali in the house; whereupon he said: Where is your uncle’s son? She said: (There cropped up something) between me and him which had annoyed him. He went out and did not rest here. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to a person to find out where he was. He came and said: Allah’s Messenger, he is sleeping in the mosque. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to him and found him lying in the mosque and saw that his mantle had slipped from his back and his back was covered with dust and Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) began to wipe it away from him (from the body of Hadhrat ‘Ali) saying: Get up, covered with dust; get up, covered with dust.



Book 031, Number 5951:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying to Hasan: O Allah, behold, I love him. Thou too love him and love one who loves him.

Book 031, Number 5952:
Abu Huraira reported: I went along with Allalh’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached Bazar of Banfi Qainuqal. He came back to the tent of Fatima and said: Is the little chap (meaning Hasan) there? We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with a sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: O Allah, I love him; love him Thou and love one who loves him (Hasan).

Book 031, Number 5953:
Al-Bara’ b. Azib reported: I saw Hasan b. ‘Ali upon the shoulders of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) and he was saying: O Allah, I love him, and love him Thou.

Book 031, Number 5954:
Iyas reported on the authority of his father: I (had the honour of) leading the white mule on which rode Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) and with him were Hasan and Husain, till it reached the apartment of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him). The one amongst them was seated before him and the other one was seated behind him.


Book 031, Number 5955:
‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Hasan b. ‘Ali. He wrapped himself under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatima and he took her under it,

then came ‘Ali and he also took him under it and then said: Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying)


Book 031, Number 6000:
Miswar b. Makhramah reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Fatima is a part of me. He in fact tortures me who tortures her.

Book 031, Number 6003:
‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) called his daughter Fatima (during his last illness). He said something to her secretly and she wept. He again said to her something secretly and she laughed. ‘A’isha further reported that she said to Fatima: What is that which Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to you secretly and you wept and then said to you something secretly and you laughed? Thereupon she said: He informed me secretly of his death and so I wept. He then again informed me secretly that I would be the first amongst the members of his family to follow him and so I laughed.

Book 031, Number 6004:
‘A’isha reported: We, the wives of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), were with him (during his last illness) and none was absent there from that Fatima, who walked after the style of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), came there, and when he saw her he welcomed her saying: You are welcome, my daughter. He then made her sit on his right side or on his left side. Then he said something secretly to her and she wept bitterly and when he found her (plunged) in grief he said to her something secretly for the second time and she laughed. I (‘A’isha) said to her: Allah’s Messenger has singled you amongst the women (of the family) for talking (to you something secretly) and you wept. When Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) recovered from illness, I said to her. What did Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say to you? Thereupon she said: I am not going to disclose the secret of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). When Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) died, I said to her: I adjure you by the right that I

have upon you that you should narrate to me what Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to you. She said: Yes, now I can do that (so listen to it). When he talked to me secretly for the first time he informed me that Gabriel was in the habit of reciting the Qur’an along with him once or twice every year, but this year it had been twice and so he perceived his death quite near, so fear Allah and be patient (and he told me) that he would be a befitting forerunner for me and so I wept as you saw me. And when he saw me in grief he talked to me secretly for the second time and said: Fatima, are you not pleased that you should be at the head of the believing women or the head of this Umma? I laughed and it was that laughter which you saw.

Book 031, Number 6005:
‘A’isha reported that all the wives of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) had gathered (in her apartment) during the days of his (Prophet’s) last illness and no woman was left behind when Fatima, who walked after the style of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), came there. He welcomed her by saying: You are welcome, my daughter, and made her sit on his right side or on his left side, and then talked something secretly to her and Fatima wept. Then he talked something secretly to her and she laughed. I said to her: What makes you weep? She said; I am not going to divulge the secret of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). I (‘A’isha) said: I have not seen (anything happening) like today, the happiness being more close to grief (as I see today) when she wept. I said to her: Has Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) singled you out for saying something leaving us aside? She then wept and I asked her what he said, and she said: I am not going to divulge the secrets of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). And when he died I again asked her and she said that he (the Holy Prophet) told her: Gabriel used to recite the Qur’an to me once a year and for this year it was twice and so I perceived that my death had drawn near, and that I (Fatima) would be the first amongst the members of his family who would meet him (in the Hereafter). He shall be my good forerunner and it made me weep. He again talked to me secretly (saying): Aren’t you pleased that you should be the sovereign amongst the believing women or the head of women of this Umma? And this made me laugh.







(May The Souls Of The Worlds Be Sacrificed At His Feet) The number of accounts of the tragedy of the Imam, from his farewell to his martyrdom, is uncountable. In the following passages we will recount some of them in a concise manner.


After the death of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali the Imam was left alone and without any helpers. The women wailed and wept at the Imam’s destitution as he called out,
“Is there anyone who will defend the family of the Messenger? Is there anyone who will come to our aid for the sake of Allah?”

Then he began to bid farewell to the women and the children and asked them to bear with patience the calamity of his death that was about to befall them. After he bade them farewell he turned to his sister Lady Zaynab and said,
“O my sister bring me an old garment which no one would desire that I may wear under my cloths so that I will not be stripped of all clothing after my death.”

A small pair of trousers was brought for him which he refused saying that such a garment was not befitting for a dignified man. Then an old long shirt was given to him. He took the shirt and tore it in several places and wore it underneath his garments. He asked for another cloth, which again he tore and wore it as the outer garment. This he did to avoid his being stripped of clothes after martyrdom.


As the Imam left he repeatedly called out “Is there anyone who will come to my aid? Is there anyone who will defend the family of the Messenger?” The women cried aloud for his destitution. The wailing of the women awoke Imam Sajjad who, through sickness and fever, had fallen unconscious. Imam Sajjad ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn walked to the door of the tent with difficulty but carrying his sword. Umm Kulthum seeing that he could barely stand grabbed him and pleaded with him to return inside the tent. Imam Sajjad struggled to free himself as he said, “O Aunt let go of me. Let me defend my father.”
Imam al-Husayn realising the intention of Imam Sajjad called out to Umm Kulthum, “O Umm Kulthum do not let go of him least the earth becomes devoid of the progeny of the Messenger.”
Fadil Darbandi writes in Asrar al-Shahadah that the Imam ran to

wards Imam Sajjad and took him into the tent as he asked, “O Son what is your intention?”
“O Father your cries for help have torn the arteries from my heart and have taken my peace of mind. I need to go!  I wish to give my life for you.”
“O Son you are unwell. Jihad is not your obligation nor is it permissible for you. You are the Proof, the Imam of my Shi’ah. You are the father of the Imams who are to come. You are the guardian of the orphans and the widows. You will have to take them back to Medina. The earth may never be empty of an Imam; the proof from my lineage.” Comforted the Imam
“O Father should I watch while you are killed? If only I had died before this.” Lamented Imam Sajjad.
The Imam embraced Imam Sajjad and cried. Then made his final farewell.
(Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

Another description of the Imam’s final farewell with Imam Sajjad is given in al-Dam’at al-Sakibah as follows-

The Imam as he left on his own  went to the tents of his brothers. He looked inside them and found them empty. He went to the tents of the sons of ‘Aqil. Finding them empty he proceeded to the tents of his non-Hashimite companions and saw that they too were empty. He repeatedly uttered the prayer “There is no might or strength save with Allah the Grand the Mighty.”
Then the Imam went to the tents of the women and after that went to the tent of Imam Sajjad. He saw that Imam Sajjad had fallen unconscious due to severe sickness and that Lady Zaynab was nursing him.
Imam Sajjad opened his eyes and wished to stand in respect of his father, the Imam, but was unable to do so. Imam Sajjad turned to Lady Zaynab and said, “Lend me support so that I may sit.”
Lady Zaynab sat on the bed as Imam Sajjad leaned against her and sat facing the Imam. The Imam asked Imam Sajjad of his condition to which Imam Sajjad replied, “Praise and glory be to Allah.” Then he asked, “What news is there of your affairs with these people?”
“Shaytan has succeeded with these people and has driven away the remembrance of Allah from their hearts. A mighty battle has taken place between us and them and the plains of Karbala’ are covered with our blood,” replied the Imam.
“What has happened to my uncle ‘Abbas, O father?” asked Imam Sajjad in anguish.
Lady Zaynab was moved. She looked at her brother with eyes filled by tears to see what he would reply. The Imam had not given the news of ‘Abbas’s death to Imam Sajjad fearing worsening his sickness with such a shock.
“O son they have severed the arms of your uncle and killed him on the banks of the Euphrates,” said the Imam.
Imam Sajjad at learning about the death of ‘Abbas wept uncontrollably until he fainted. As he regained consciousness he asked of each one of the companions and the Imam continued to reply that they had given their lives for him until Imam Sajjad asked,
“Where is my brother ‘Ali? Where is Habib ibn Muzahir? Where are

Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah and Zuhayr ibn Qayn?”
“O Son, know that there aren’t any men left of us. Save for me and you,” said the Imam.
Imam Sajjad wept, then said to his aunt Lady Zaynab, “Hand me my sword and staff.”
“Why do you ask for your sword and staff?” inquired the Imam.
“The staff to support my self while I defend the son of the Messenger with my sword for life has no worth after you.” replied Imam Sajjad.
The Imam embraced and comforted him, saying, “O Son you are the purest and the noblest of my descent. You are the guardian in my place of these destitute and oppressed orphans and widows. They have no one except you to save them from their enemies. Be kind to them and a source of comfort for them.” Then he called out, “O Zaynab! O Umm Kulthum! O Sakinah! O Ruqayyah! O Fatimah! Hear my words and understand that this son of mine (as he indicated to Imam Sajjad) will assume my position. He is the Imam whose obedience is obligatory.”
His final words to Imam Sajjad were,
“O my son convey my greetings to my Shi’ah and tell them your father died alone in a foreign land so lament him for he went from this world as a martyr. Therefore, weep for him.”
(Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)


It can be stated that the final farewell of the Imam was the greatest misfortune to befall the family of the Messenger on the day of ‘Ashura’ because  that tore apart their hearts and left them without hope.
It is narrated that a scholar by the name of Mirza Yahya Abhari reported-
I went for the pilgrimage of Imam al-Husayn in the days of ‘Arafah. On the eve of the ‘id I went to a house of mine in Karbala’ and slept. I saw in a dream a man who said to me that ‘Allamah Majlisi  (Muhammad Baqir Majlisi) was delivering a lecture in the courtyard of the blessed shrine. I asked him where in the courtyard and he pointed me to it. I went to that place and found a grand mosque in which there was a congregation of around five hundred scholars. I saw Baqir Majlisi sitting on top of a pulpit lecturing the scholars. After he finished lecturing he admonished them then as he was about narrate the tragedy of Karbala’ a man came out from one of the rooms within the courtyard and entered the mosque. He looked at ‘Allamah Majlisi and said “Zahra wishes you to recite the tragedy of al-Husayn’s final farewell.” The ‘Allamah recited the tragedy as the congregation broke into tears. Till this day I have not heard of such a calamity nor witnessed such sorrow.
(Tadhkirat al-Shuhada).

The Imam looked at the place where he had gathered the bodies of his devotees and found seventy-two men from among his non-Hashimi companions and eighteen members of his own family. As he
resolved to engage in his final battle with the enemies he called out,
“O Sakinah, O Fatimah, O Zaynab, O Umm Kulthum peace be with you from me. This is the final congregation. Your time of great tribulation and sorrow has approached.”

The Imam wept as he offered them peace.
“May the merciful Lord not make you weep! Why do you shed tears O my Brother?” asked Lady Zaynab.
“How should I not cry when in a little while you will be driven between the enemies?” replied the tearful Imam.
The wails and cries arouse from the women as they heard the Imam, “Farewell! Farewell! Separation! Separation!”


As he was about to depart Sakinah stood in his path and said,
“O Father have you submitted to death? Whom will I rely on?”
“O Sakinah how can one without a helper not submit to death? But know O Sakinah that the mercy and the help of Allah will be with you in this world and the Hereafter. Bear life with patience and do not complain at the decree of Allah. This world is a mere journey and the Hereafter is the perpetual abode.” the Imam told her.
“O Father in that case take me back to Medina” pleaded Sakinah.
“If the sand grouse is left it will rest in its place (meaning that the enemies would not spare him),” came the reply.
Sakinah wept at hearing this. The Imam drew her to his chest and dried her tears as he recited-
O Sakinah lengthy will be your grief for me after my death
Do not burn my heart with your tears in regret as long as there life in my body
After I am killed you are the most worthy to come to my body and weep O the best of women
(Nafas al-Mahmum)


Hilal ibn Nafi’ reports-
I was standing between the rows of the enemy as they Imam made his final approach into the battlefield. I saw a little girl of three to four years of age with trembling legs slowly running behind him. She grabbed the ends of the robe of the Imam and pulled at it. As the Imam turned to look she spoke in a soft voice, “O Father look at me, I am thirsty.”
The request of this little girl was like salt being applied to the wounds of the Imam. The tears rolled down the Imam’s eyes as he said, “O my child may Allah quench your thirst for he is my guardian.”
I asked who this child was and how was she related to the Imam. I was informed that she was Ruqayyah the three-year old daughter of the Imam
(Anwar al-Shahadah)


The Imam consoled the women and admonished them to bear with patience the tribulations they were to face from their enemies. He prayed for Allah to save them from the hands of the enemies and to punish their enemies with numerous forms of chastisement. He prayed that Allah grant them uncountable rewards in place of the trials and the misfortune that had befallen them. Zaynab during this broke down in tears. The Imam comforted her saying, “Bear patiently O Daughter of Murtada for the time of crying will be lengthy.”
As the Imam came out of the tent to go to battle Lady Zaynab fell at his feet saying,
“Slowly O my brother! Wait for a while that I may look at you once more and bid you farewell the bidding of farewell to one I will never again see.”
Lady Zaynab was not separating from the Imam. She began to kiss his hands and feet. The rest of the women came to the door of the tent and surrounded the Imam and began to kiss his hands and feet. The Imam comforted them and asked them to return to the tents. Then he asked for Lady Zaynab to remain with him. He placed his blessed hand on to her chest and comforted her of her anxiety as he said,
“Those who bear with patience receive a great reward from Allah. O Sister bear this with patience.”
At this Lady Zaynab felt a sense of relief as she said,
“O Son of my mother be reassured that you will find me as you desire.” (i.e. bearing patiently.)


According to some as the Imam walked a few steps towards his horse Lady Zaynab came out of the tent and called out,
“O Brother! Wait for a moment that I may fulfil the last request of our mother.”
“What request is that?”  Asked the Imam as he paused.
“Mother made her last will to me and said, when you sent off the light of my eyes for his final battle kiss his neck on my behalf.” Said Lady Zaynab.
Then she kissed his neck and returned to the tents.
(Tadhkirat al-Shuhada’)
The Imam ascended his horse and as he spurred it on a soft voice called from behind, “O Father pause a while I too have a last request.” The Imam pulled at the straps of the reins as he looked behind his shoulder and found Sakinah running to him.
She went up to him and held reins of the horse and said,
“O Father descend from your horse take me into your lap one last time and stroke my head as you would an orphan.”
The Imam dismounted, sat next to Sakinah and caressed her compas

sionately and dried the tears from her eyes. Then he comforted her and told her to return to the tents.
(Tadhkirat al-Shuhada).


As the Imam bade farewell and comforted the women ‘Umar ibn Sa’d instructed his soldiers to attack the Imam saying,
“Attack him while he is busy in bidding his family farewell for by God if he is allowed to finish he will cut through your ranks.”

At this time the Imam was outside the tents and the women were surrounding him. The soldiers made the Imam a target for their arrows from every direction. The arrows were fired at the Imam of which many struck at the women and at the tents. The women horrified with fear retreated into the tents and were looking at the Imam to see what he would do. The Imam like a raging lion went into the ranks of the enemy and felled to the ground anyone who came in his way. The Imam’s chest and neck were pierced by countless number of arrows fired at him in this attack. The Imam extracted the arrows as he returned to the tents and repeatedly recited,
“There is no strength or might save with Allah.”
(Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram)

Also as the Imam mounted his steed for the last time the women and the children were mourning loudly and falling at his feet not able to withstand his separation from them. The Imam turned to his sister Lady Zaynab and said,
“O Zaynab, calm them.”
(Muthir al-Ahzan)


Even if at times due to the unbearable difficulties incurred by the Imam he wept and at other times cried aloud, his tears and grief were due to his love and compassion for his companions and not through discontentment at the decree of Allah, the exalted, nor weakness nor fatigue. The Imam’s resolve, strength and determination to fight with the enemies and combat falsehood until he gave his final breath. Till the last drop of his blessed blood was spent is evident from the way he fought against them, undeterred, neither by their great numbers nor by anxiety for the captivity of his women folk that would come after his martyrdom. Again we see very clearly the great determination of the Imam from his addresses and speeches to the enemy throughout the bitter events of his martyrdom.
We will in the following passages cite a few incidences demonstrating the high morale of the blessed Imam-End

1. After the dawn prayers on the day of ‘Ashura’ the Imam turned to his companions and after offering eulogies to Allah said, Indeed Allah has permitted your and my death on this day. Bear with patience and persevere in battle.”
(Ithbat al-Wasiyyah)
2. On the day of ‘Ashura’ as the Imam and his faithful companions were surrounded and death seemed imminent he (peace be with him) and some of his very close devotees attained a state of renewed vigour and strength and appeared more content. Their faces lightened. Other of his companions who due to some fear of death were dismayed at what they witnessed saw the tranquillity on the face of the Imam and said to each other, “Look at the Imam his face does not display any sign of a fear of death.” Hearing thisthe Imam said, “Persevere, O sons of noble men, for what is death but a bridge taking you from calamities and hopelessness to the vast gardens and everlasting bounties. Which one of you would dislike moving from a prison to a castle while your enemies move from a prison to a chastisement? Indeed my father has reported from the Messenger of Allah that the world is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the infidel and death is a bridge for these to their gardens and for those to their Hell. I have not lied nor have I been lied to.”

(Ithbat al-Wasiyyah)
3. Humayd ibn Muslim reports that he found the Imam alone and surrounded by the enemy and warding off their attacks, “By Allah I have not seen a person so harried by his adversaries, whose sons and companions have been slain and who is being attacked from all directions that fights with such strength. I saw him being attacked by the horse and foot yet he would fearlessly advance to them in a way that caused them to flee as a pack of foxes would flee and scatter from a raging lion.”
(Kitab al-Irshad)
4. Hilal ibn Nafi’, a commander of the enemy, narrates that as the Imam descended to the ground covered in arrows and moments from his death, “By Allah I have not seen a slain man whose beard is covered with his blood more admirable than him nor a face more radiant than his. The beauty of his posture and the splendour of his face kept me from the thought of killing him.”
(A’yan al-Shi’ah)
5. The Imam is addressed as follows in the Ziyarah Qa’imiyyah, “and when they found you fearless, staunch in your resolve to battle they resolved to killing by means of deception.”
(Tadhkirat al-Shuhada)
6. A description of the Imam’s battle with the enemy is- “he attacked an army of thirty thousand single handedly and they fled from him and scattered in the plains of Karbala’ as moths are scattered. The Imam after the enemy would had fled would return to his place at the tents and recite, there is no strength or might save by Allah the grand, the mighty.”
(A’yan al-Shi’ah).


The Imam at some time during the events of the day of ‘Ashura’ came and stood in front of the enemy and while supporting himself on his sword said,
“I implore you by Allah, do you know who I am?”
One of the soldiers replied,
“You are the son of the Messenger of Allah!”
The Imam,
“By Allah, do you know that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is my father?”
The enemy,
“Yes we know that!”
The Imam,
“By Allah are you aware that Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first women to enter the fold of Islam is my grandmother?”
The enemy,
“Yes we are!”
The Imam,
“For the sake of Allah, are you aware that Ja’far, he who takes flight within the realms of Paradise, is my uncle?”
The enemy,
“Yes we are!”
The Imam,
“For the sake of Allah, are you aware that this sword tied to my waist is the sword of the Messenger?”
The enemy,
“Yes we are!”
The Imam,
“By Allah, are aware that this turban I wear on my head is the turban of the Messenger?”
The enemy,
“Yes we are!”
The Imam,
“I ask you for the sake of Allah, are you aware that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, my father was the first Muslim. The most learned of companions and the most enduring of them in trial and tribulation and he was the master of all men and women?”
The enemy,
“We are aware of it!”
The Imam,
“Then how do you justify killing me when you know that my father holds the fountain of Kawthar? He will give or refuse drink to whomever he wants. The standard on that day will lie in his hands.”

“We are aware of all of it yet we will not abandon killing you without a drop of water.”
Came the adamant reply from the enemy.
(Nasikh al-Tawarikh)
It is also reported that he (peace be with him) turned to the enemies and addressed them-
“Know O people that this world is transient and its people will be taken away from it to another abode. You are aware of the laws of
Islam and you have read well the Qur’an. You realise that Muhammad the Messenger of Allah will bring you to account for your deeds yet you oppressively seek to kill his son! O people look at the Euphrates how it shimmers. How its raging waves appear to be the bellies of fish. The Jews, Christians, dogs and pigs drink from it while the family of the Messenger dies of thirst!”


The Imam rode into the battlefield and asked for combat with his equals. One by one the soldiers came to fight with him singly but it did not take the Imam long to kill them and drive them to pits of Hell. The Imam killed many of the enemy and then mounted an attack on the right wing of the army as he recited-

Death is worthier to me than disgrace
And the disgrace of this world is worthier than entering into Hell
And in every state Allah is my refuge
I am Husayn ibn ‘Ali
I have sworn not to turn my back to the enemy
I will defend the family of my father
I will proceed on the religion of the Prophet
(A’yan al-Shi’ah)

Despite his thirst, the scorching heat of the desert, the loss of his companions, the prospect of the captivity of his women folk and the great numbers of the enemy the Imam displayed such gallantry and bravery that the renowned warriors of the world stand with their heads bowed in respect.

The Imam during his lengthy battle was overcome by immense thirst. He mounted his horse and rode towards the Euphrates. The Imam attacked the four-thousand strong army guarding the river under the command of ‘Umar ibn Hajjaj and drove them from it. He entered into the river with his steed then turned to the horse as he dismounted and said, “You are thirst stricken and I am thirsty. I will not drink until you drink.”
The horse acknowledging the Imam raised its head and refused to drink the water. The Imam stretched his hand and cupped some water and as he raised it to his mouth a soldier cried out, “O Aba ‘Abd Allah will you drink water while your tents are being looted?”
The Imam threw away the water and quickly returned to the tents and found them safe. He realised that it was deception by the enemy to prevent him from drinking water.
(Nafas al-Mahmum)


According to some the Imam asked for ‘Umar ibn Sa’d and requested one of three things from him

1. To allow him and the members of the family of the Messenger to return to Medina
2. To allow him a drink of water as thirst had torn his liver apart
3. If he was not allowed the above two then to let him fight his opponents one to one
To this ‘Umar ibn Sa’d replied,
“As for the first two requests they cannot be granted. As for the third it is something that I can allow.”
The Imam fought with the enemies one to one and killed a great number of them until ‘Umar ibn Sa’d realised that the Imam could not be overpowered and so breaking his covenant gave instructions to the soldiers to attack the Imam on all sides.
(Muntakhab TuRayyhi)

The soldiers attacked the Imam and he single handedly fought them killing or wounding whoever was in reach.
Mas’udi in
Ithbat al-Wasiyyah writes that the Imam killed one thousand and eight hundred enemies. According to other reports he killed one thousand nine hundred and fifty men and wounded may more.
‘Umar ibn Sa’d seeing this cried out to his soldiers, “Sorrow be your lot! He is the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the most renowned swordsman of the Arabs. Attack him from every direction.”
At this four thousand bowmen turned their bows toward the Imam and made him a target for their arrows.
(Nafas al-Mahmum)
His blessed body embedded with so many arrows was described as resembling a hedgehog.
(Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir reports that the Imam had over three hundred and twenty wounds on the front side of his body. This is because he never turned his back to the enemy-
Amali al-Saduq)
Shimr ibn Dhi Jawshan came with a group of people advancing toward the tents of the Imam.
Seeing this the Imam cried out, “O partisans (Shi’ah) of the progeny of Abi Sufyan, if you have no religion or fear of Resurrection, then [at least] be free men in your worldly affairs!”
“What are you saying O son of Fatimah?” retorted Shimr.
“I am fighting with you, what wrong have the women and children done? Ask your men to retreat from the tents and not go near them while I am alive.” Replied the Imam.
“We will not go near your tents while you live!” said Shimr, then turning to his soldiers, “O men come away from the tents and go to al-Husayn and finish him off!”
They attacked him and he warded off their blows until Salih ibn Wahab struck at the Imams thigh, which caused him to fall from his mount. The Imam fell on the right side of his face as he came to the ground but somehow he managed to stand and continued to fight.


As the Imam fell from the back of his horse for the final time onto the burning sands, covered in his own blood and lying on a bed of arrows, he whispered to Allah,
Patience upon Your decree O Lord, there is no deity save You. O the Aid of those seeking help. I do not have a Lord other than You and there is none worthy of worship except You. Perseverance upon your judgement, O Aid of one who has no helper.
O Eternal who has no end. O Resurrecter of the dead. O You who preserves every soul with what it has earned, judge between me and them O best of judges.”
(Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram)

He also recited in the passion of meeting with Allah before his death,

I have abandoned the creation in Your love
I have orphaned my children so that I may see You
If the swords were to cut me into pieces in Your love
Even then my heart would not long for other than You


At the last moments of the Imam’s life lady Zaynab ran outside the tents crying out,”O Muhammad, O Father, O ‘Ali, O Ja’far!”
Then she said,
“If only the Heavens would fall upon the earth, if only the mountains would crumble.”
Then she stood on top of a hill and saw ‘Umar ibn Sa’d with a group of people going towards the Imam as he lay on the burning sands supplicating to Allah with his final breaths. She called out, “O ‘Umar will you look on as Aba ‘Abd Allah is being killed?”
This plea of Lady Zaynab was so heart breaking that ‘Umar ibn Sa’d wept until his beard was covered with tears. Then he turned his face away from her and did not reply.
When she saw that they were not going to spare her brother, she  cried out in desperation, “Isn’t there a Muslim among you?”
Her cries filled the air and the Imam not able to bear her helplessness rose once again and attacked the enemy saying, “By Allah you will never again fight anyone like me. You have incurred the wrath of Allah upon your selves. After killing me you will kill each other by the curse of Allah.” He continued to fight with them until seventy-two more blows slashed his blessed body.


The Imam retreated and paused for a while. He was standing as a stone was thrown at him. The stone struck his forehead and caused it to bleed. The Imam as he lifted the base of his robe to clean his forehead a three headed arrow immersed in poison was shoot at him that hit him (may our souls be ransomed for him) in the chest or the stomach. He inadvertently recited:
“By the name of Allah and with Allah and upon the religion of the Messenger of Allah.”
Then he raised his head towards the skies and said, “They are killing

a person who is the only son of the daughter of your Messenger.”
Then he took hold of the arrow that had penetrated through his chest to his back and removed it from his back as the blood poured out.
(Nafas al-Mahmum)


At the incident of the arrow the Imam was drained of every drop of blood and strength. The enemies ceased fighting and no one dared approach the Imam to strike him the final blow.
Shimr shouted at his soldiers,
“May your mothers weep over you! Why do you wait? Kill the man (meaning the Imam).
The soldiers surrounded and began to attack the dying Imam. A soldier struck him on his left arm while another struck him on the shoulder. Sinan ibn Anas came forward and mercilessly pushed his spear into the cavity of the Imam’s throat then pulled it out and imbedded it into his chest. The Imam some how managed with great difficulty to remain standing until Sinan ibn Anas shot an arrow into his throat. The Imam fell to the ground then after a moment he struggled to sit and removed the arrow from his neck. His head, beard and chest had become covered with his blood,
“Like this I will meet with Allah covered in my blood; deprived of my right,” said the Imam.
Hilal ibn Nafi’, a commander of the enemy states,
” I looked into the battlefield and found al-Husayn struggling and turning from side to side as his soul was departing from his limbs. He shone brightly at this moment. The beauty and the serenity emanating from him prevented me from thinking of killing him. Never have I seen a man who has been murdered so brutally and was so beautiful as him.”

At this moment the Imam asked for a sip of water. To which an enemy standing over him said, “You will not taste water until you are given the burning water of Hell.”
“Nay I will precede to my grandfather the Messenger of Allah and drink of the fountain of Paradise and to him will I complain of your evil acts.”
The words of the Imam had effect upon them. As though their hearts had become hardened and all traces of mercy had been removed from them.
‘Umar ibn Sa’d turned to his right and said to a soldier, “Finish off al-Husayn!”
According to another report Sinan ibn Anas instructed Khawli, “Go and behead al-Husayn!”
Khawli advanced towards the Imam but began to shake and returned to his former position.
“May God severe your hands! Why do you shake?” Asked Shimr
Then Shimr went to the Imam and beheaded him as he said,
“Even though I know that you are the son of the Messenger and the best of men through your father and mother and a leader of the peo
ple I will still behead you.”
Shimr handed the blessed head of the Imam to Khawli to take to ‘Umar ibn Sa’d.
A maid of the family of the Messenger ran to place where the Imam had been slaughtered and it was told to her, “O maid of Allah your master has been killed.”
She ran back to the tents crying, “They have killed al-Husayn, they have murdered al-Husayn!”
The women ran out of the tents and cried aloud, wailing uncontrollably at the death of the Imam.
(A’yan al-Shi’ah)


According to a reportas Shimr placed his dagger on the burning neck of the Imam, the blessed Imama turned to him and with his parting breath said,
“If you are going to kill me then give me a sip of water.”
To this Shimr replied,
“By Allah! You will not taste a drop of water until you taste death sip by sip.”
(Kibrit al-Ahmar)

According to another report when ‘Umar ibn Sa’d commanded his men: “Go and finish the man” Shimr went to the Imam sat on his chest and grabbed his blood drenched beard and then mercilessly hacked off his head with twelve strokes of the knife.
(Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram)


When the Imam descended to the ground Dhu Janah his horse began to circle around him warding off the blows of the enemies from him as it neighed and snarled.
‘Umar ibn Sa’d shouted, “Stop the horse and bring it to me for it is the best of the Prophets horses!”
A group of soldiers surrounded it but the horse began to kick at them and killed forty soldiers.
Seeing this ‘Umar shouted, “Let it go! Let us see what it does.”
When the horse was left alone it went to the blood soaked body of the Imam and placed its forelock upon the Imam until it was coloured with his blood. The horse would smell the body of the Imam and neigh aloud.
Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir reports that the horse in its neighing was crying out, “The oppressive people of the Ummah have killed the son of their Prophet!”
Then the horse turned to the tents galloping towards it neighing in a way that filled the air.
Lady Zaynab hearing the neighing of the horse turned to Umm Kulthum, “This is the steed of my brother al-Husayn coming to the tents. It may have brought some water.

Umm Kulthum rushed out of the tent and saw the horse without its mount. She beat her hands on her head and tore apart her veil and cried out, “By Allah al-Husayn has been killed!”
Lady Zaynab began to cry and bewail the Imam as she heard the cries of Umm Kulthum.
(Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

In the Ziyarat al-Nahiyah the twelfth Imam has addressed Imam al-Husayn and said,
“Your horse rushed to the tents crying and snarling. And when the women found your steed confused and they looked at your saddle turned and bent they threw away [in grief] their veils, their hair spread open, slapping their faces with their faces exposed, wailing. Being humiliated after having dignity. Running to the place where you had fallen seeing Shimr sitting upon your chest placing his sword upon your throat.”


According to another report as the sounds of the approaching horse were heard inside the tents Lady Zaynab said to Sakinah, “Sakinah your father has returned with water. Go to him and drink the water!”
Sakinah ran out and saw the state of Dhul Janah. She cried and lamented,
“O Muhammad, O destitution, O Husayn, O grandfather, O Fatimah. O Dhul Janah what has happened to my father? Where have you left the intercessor of the people? Where is the light of the prophet’s eyes?”
She recited certain verses at the horse,
“O horse have you left my father among the enemies? Have you left him between the scorching sands and blood while they wound his body? Return O horse and bring back my father. And if you return with him then yours will be a great honour with us.”
(Tadhkirat al-Shuhada)

It is reported in Masa’ib al-Ma’sumin that-
When Dhul Janah returned to the tents and the women ran out wailing, crying and slapping their faces, each one of them spoke to the horse.
One of them said, “O horse why did you not bring back al-Husayn?”
Whilst another said, “Why did you leave the Imam among the enemy?”
Lady Zaynab cried out, “Ah your face is covered in my brother’s blood.”
Lady Sakinah asked, “Was my father given a sip of water or was he killed with the burning thirst?”
(Masa’ib al-Ma’sumin)

According to some the horse beat its head violently upon the ground near the tents until it died.
(Nafas al-Mahmum)

 According to others the horse bewildered and frightened ran from the tents to the river where falling into it, disappeared.
(Tadhkit al-Shuhada)


1. When the Imam could no longer fight he stood with difficulty at the place where he was later martyred. The soldiers would approach him and then retreat not wanting to be responsible for killing him. At this moment Malik ibn Yusr came at him, shouted abuse at him and then struck at the blessed head with his sword. The sword broke his helmet in two pieces as it penetrated into the blessed head. Blood gushed from the Imam’s head onto his face. He wiped the blood and tied a piece of cloth to the wound.

2. After the killing of the Imam ‘Umar ibn Sa’d called out to his men,
“Who from you will take charge to trample the chest and the back of al-Husayn under the hooves of their horses?”
Ten people undertook to carry out this hideous crime. They rode their horses upon the beheaded body of the blessed Imam and crushed every bone in his chest and back.
After this the ten men came to ibn Ziyad to claim their reward. Usayd ibn Malik said to ibn Ziyad, “We are the ones who rode on strong horses and crushed the bones in al-Husayn’s chest and back.”
“And who are you?” asked ibn Ziyad of the rest.
“We are the ones who trampled his body until his chest became as soft as kneaded dough,” they replied.
Ibn Ziyad ordered a small reward to be given to them. Abu ‘Umar Zahid reports, “All ten men were born of adultery. Mukhtar al-Thaqafi in his revolution to avenge the blood of al-Husayn had the hands and feet of these men studded with nails and had horses trample on their backs until they died.”

3. On the day of ‘Ashura’ when the Imam entered into the Euphrates and wished to drink from it Husayn ibn Numayr fired an arrow at him that struck  his throat. The Imam pulled out the arrow and placed his hands underneath his throat catching the blood to throw towards the sky while saying to Husayn ibn Numayr, “May Allah not quench your thirst.” The Imam was then told that his tents were being looted as mentioned earlier and was prevented from drinking.
As the Imam returned to the tents, the thirsty women and children ran out from the tents thinking that he had brought water. But when they saw his neck, chest and arms covered in blood they cried and wailed as they slapped their faces in desperation.
Before the Imam went to the Euphrates a child approached the Imam and said, “O father I am thirsty.” To this the Imam had replied, “O
child bear it a while and I will go and bring you water.” As the Imam returned the child ran to the Imam and asked, “O father have got some water for me?” the Imam cried and recited the verse “O my Shi’ah remember me as you drink sweet water.” Then the Imam asked for a piece of cloth that he tied to his neck and bade farewell once again to the women and children. He attempted to get himself to the water on several occasions but was prevented by the enemy. The thirst of his young children was impelling him to the river.
(Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

4. Imam Baqir (peace be with him) has said that they killed Imam al-Husayn in a brutal manner such that the Messenger had forbidden to people for killing wild beasts.
“He was killed by swords, spears, stones and sticks. And after killing him they crushed his body underneath the hooves of their horses.”
(Kibrit al-Ahmar





Aksir al-‘Ibadat fi Asrar al-Shahadah also known as Asrar al-Shahadah

Iqa’ Ibn ‘Abid Ibn Ramadhan al-Shayrawani al-Darbandi al-Ha’iri

A’lam al-Wara also known as A’lam al-Huda

Shaykh Abu ‘Ali al-Fadl Ibn al-Hasan Ibn al-Fadl al-Tabrasi

al-Amali also known as al-Majalis
Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Babawi al-Qummi better known as Shaykh al-Saduq

Anwar al-Shahadah

Hasan Ibn ‘Ali al-Yazdi al-Ha’iri

A’yan al-Shi’ah

Sayyid Muhsin Amin

Bihar al-Anwar

‘Allamah Majlisi

Al-Dam’at al-Sakibah fi Musibat al-Ratibah

Muhammad Baqir Ibn al-Karim al-Bahbahani al-Najafi

Din wa Tamaddun also known as Islam wa al-Falsafah

Mufid al-Malja’i al-Khalkhali

Fursan al-Hayjan

Dhabih Allah Ibn Muhammad ‘Ali al-Mahalati

Ithbat al-Wasiyyah

Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Mas’udi

Kamil al-Baha’i

Shaykh ‘Imad al-Din al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali al-Tabari

al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh
‘Iz  al-Din Abi al-Hasan al-Shaybani known as Ibn al-Athir
Kibrit al-Ahmar fi Shara’it Ahl al-Minbar

Muhammad Baqir al-Birjandi

Kitab al-Irshad

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid

Al-Luhuf ‘ala Qatala al-Tafuf

Abu al-Qasim ‘Ali Ibn Musa Ibn Tawus al-Hilli

Ma’ali al-Sibtayn

Muhammad Mahdi Ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Mazandarani al-Ha’iri

Maqatil al-Talibiyyin

Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani

Maqtal al-‘Awalim

Shaykh ‘Abdu Allah Ibn Nur al-Din al-Bahrani

Maqtal al-Husayn

Abu Mikhnaf Lut Ibn Yahya

Maqtal al-Husayn

‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram

Maqtal al-Husayn


Masa’ib al-Abrar

Shah Mirza al-Salmasi

Massa’il al-Ma’sumin

Mawla ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Yazdi

Minhaj al-Dumu’

Author unknown

Muntaha al-Amal

Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qumi

Muntakhab al-Tawarikh

Muhammad Yusuf Ibn Rahmat Allah

Muntakhab al-Turayhi

Shaykh Fakhr al-Din Ibn Muhammad ‘Ali Ibn Ahmad ibn Turayh al-Najafi

Muthir al-Ahzan

Shaykh Sharif Ibn ‘Abd al-Husayn Ibn Muhammad Hasan

Nafas al-Mahmoum

Shaykh ‘Abbas Qumi

Nahj al-Shahadah

Author unknown

Nasikh al-Tawarikh

Mirza Muhammad Taqi al-Kashani

Rayhan al-Shari’ah

Author unknown

Riyahin al-Shari’ah
Author unknown

Sharh Nahj al-Balghah

Ibn Abi al-Hadid al-Mu’tazali

Tarikh al-Tabari

Author unknown

Tadhkirat al-Shuhada’

Hakim Amanat ‘Ali

‘Unwan al-Kalam

Muhammad Baqir al-Fisharki al-Isfahani

Waqa’i’ wa al-Hawadith

Author unknown

Ziyarat al-Nahiyah

Sayyid Ibn Tawus








After the non-Hashimites had been killed, the Hashimites prepared to fight the murderous hordes in single combat. These Hashimites were the Imam’s sons, brothers, nephews and cousins. One after another, they bade him farewell and proceeded to their final destiny, alone. They fought until their last breath, defending their master and the love of their hearts, the son of the Messenger and the lord of the inhabitants of Paradise.

The Offspring of the Imam
According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid the Imam had six children. They were:
‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, whose mother was Shahzanan, a Persian princess,
‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, ‘Ali al-Akbar, whose mother was Layla,
Ja’far who had died before the events of Karbala’,
‘Abd Allah, the infant who was killed by an arrow in the arms of the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’, who is also known as ‘Ali Asghar whose mother was Rabab,
Sakinah, whose mother was also Rabab,
Fatimah, whose mother was Umm Ishaq.
(Kitab al-Irshad).

One of the above two daughters of the Imam is also referred to as Ruqayyah. According to the compiler of this book, it is Fatimah bint al-Husayn that is popularly known as Ruqayyah.

There are some disagreements among the scholars with regard to the number of Imam al-Husayn’s children, their names and which of Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin and ‘Ali al-Akbar is the elder. Some state that the Imam had four daughters and that one of them was named Zaynab. May Allah shower His blessings upon all of them, whatever be their names or what they number.

The Sons of Imam al-Hasan who fought at Karbala’
It appears from the texts that at the time of his martyrdom in 49 A.H., Imam al-Hasan had twenty sons. Of these seven accompanied their uncle Imam al-Husayn to Karbala’ and six were killed on the Day of ‘Ashura’ defending him. The sons of Imam al-Hasan with Imam al-Husayn at Karbala’ were:
Hasan Muthanna,
Ahmad ibn al-Hasan,
Abu Bakr ibn al-Hasan,
Qasim ibn al-Hasan,
‘Abd Allah Akbar,
‘Abd Allah Asghar,
Bashshar ibn al-Hasan.

Of these Hasan Muthanna was taken wounded from the battlefield and was the only one who survived. This event will be discussed in detail in the coming pages.

According Shaykh Mufid, only three sons of Imam al-Hasan were martyred at Karbala’. They were: Qasim, Abu Bakr and ‘Abd Allah.
Kitab al-Irshad).

According to Shaykh Qummi there was a fourth son of the Imam called ‘Ubayd Allah who was also martyred in Karbala’.
Nafs al-Mahmum).

Sayyid Muhsin Amin has counted four sons of Imam al-Hasan as martyrs at Karbala’: Qasim, ‘Abd Allah, Abu Bakr and Bashshar ibn al-Hasan.
A’yan al-Shi’ah)

‘Allamah Majlisi reports another son called Yahya.
Bihar al-Anwar)

Sayyid Ibn Tawus gives the names of Zayd and ‘Umar as sons of Imam al-Hasan who were as taken captives by the army of Kufah. (Al-Luhuf)

Shaykh Jalil ibn Nima Hilli also mentions a son of the Imam called ‘Amr ibn al-Hasan who was eleven years of age and taken as a captive to Syria. He gives the following account: When Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin was summoned by Yazid while in Syria, ‘Amr ibn al-Hasan went with him. Yazid looked at ‘Amr ibn al-Hasan and asked if he would wrestle with his son. ‘Amr ibn al-Hasan replied that he would prefer that both of them were given a knife and then allowed to fight. To this Yazid replied, “The family of the Messenger young or old will not stop hating us.” Then he recited the following proverb, “This is a custom that I have learned from Akhzam. Does a snake give birth to other than a snake?” In this case the meaning is that a brave Household produces brave sons.

‘Ali Akbar was the first from among the Hashimites to go into battle. This was when the non-Hashimites had been killed and it had decided that the Hashimites would fight individually in single combat. ‘Ali Akbar has been described as being between the age of eighteen and twenty-seven at the time of his martyrdom.

‘Ali Akbar went to his father, the Imam, to receive his permission for battle. The Imam tearfully looked up at the sky and pointing to it with two of his fingers, he said, “O Allah! Be a witness against these people, for now I send against them that son of mine who bears the most resemblance to your Messenger in features, character and speech. O Allah! He is the one at whom we look whenever we desire the sight of your Messenger.”

‘Ali Akbar advanced towards the enemy breaking their ranks and single-handedly he fought against them. However, they began to surround him breaking the tradition of single combat. As ‘Ali Akbar fought fiercely, he recited:

I am ‘Ali the son of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, We, by the House of Allah, are closest to the Prophet.
By Allah! A man
born of fornication (Ibn Ziyad) will not rule over us. I will strike you down with my sword defending my father,
The blows of a Hashimi, an ‘Alawi.

‘Ali Akbar struck violently against the enemy killing a hundred and twenty horsemen. However, due to great thirst, he returned to the Imam saying, “O father! Thirst is killing me and the weight of this coat of mail is exhausting me.” Unable to grant ‘Ali Akbar’s request, for a drop of water, the Imam began to cry as he said, “Have patience, O love of my heart! Soon the Messenger will give you a drink from the heavenly fountain.” Then the Imam took ‘Ali Akbar’s tongue into his mouth and placed his ring into ‘Ali Akbar’s mouth to ease the thirst
Casting aside his coat of mail, ‘Ali Akbar, now without hope of life in this world and desirous of meeting Allah returned to the battle. As he entered within lines of the enemy, he became surrounded and was attacked from every side. Amidst the raging swords and spears that were being driven into his blessed body, an arrow was shot that ripped apart his throat. As ‘Ali Akbar fell to the ground drowning in the blood pouring from his throat, he cried out to his old father, “O father! Accept the final salutations from your dying son. Here is my grandfather the Messenger of Allah, greeting you with peace and awaiting your arrival. He has quenched my thirst with his chalice. After that I will never feel thirst again.”
Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram)

It is also reported: As ‘Ali Akbar fought with the enemies who surrounded him, Murrah ibn Munqidh ‘Abdi, a soldier in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, vowed to a friend, “I will strike such a blow to the chest of this youth as will cause his father’s heart to bleed even if the sins of the Arabs fall upon me.” After saying that Murrah hid himself behind a tree. ‘Ali Akbar continued to ward off the blows of the enemy that had gathered around him. When ‘Ali Akbar came near the tree busy in fighting, Murrah plunged his spear into his chest. ‘Ali Akbar, unable to stay on his horse, fell to the ground where the enemies surrounding him hacked him to pieces with their swords.

There is also another report that Murrah struck the head of ‘Ali Akbar with his sword.

In another account it is reported: ‘Ali Akbar, unable to keep himself properly on his mount, placed his head on the mane of the horse and wrapped his arms around its neck. The horse struck with fear ran into the enemy who cut ‘Ali Akbar into pieces. ‘Ali Akbar fell to the ground. As his blessed soul reached its point of final departure, he called out, “O father! Here is my grandfather the Messenger of Allah. He has given me a drink from the heavenly spring.”
Kibrit al-Ahmar)

The Imam, struggling with anguish, came to where ‘Ali Akbar lay. Looking down at the state of his son who was the light of his eyes, he desperately pleaded, “May Allah destroy the people who have killed you! How insolent they have been to the command of Allah in violating the sanctity of the Messenger.” The tears poured from his eyes and covered his blessed cheeks and beard as he cried, “O son! The world has lost its appeal without you.”

Lady Zaynab ran out of the tents lamenting, “O brother! O ‘Ali Akbar!” She ran to ‘Ali Akbar’s body and threw herself on to it. The Imam pulled Lady Zaynab away from the blood soaked body that she was clinging to and took her back to the tents.
Kitab al-Irshad)

According to another report, the Imam cupped the blood oozing from the torn limbs of ‘Ali Akbar and threw it towards the sky as he wept  “O son! It is difficult for your grandfather and your old father to bear the fact that you called upon them and they could not help.” Then the Imam put his face against the blood covered face of ‘Ali Akbar and cried aloud uncontrollably in a way he had not done before that day.
Nafs al-Mahmum)

The Imam then took the torn body of ‘Ali Akbar in his arms and he said, “O child! You have acquired rest from the grief and the miseries of this world and left your father alone an without any helpers.”
Maqtal al-Husayn by Abu Mikhnaf)

He then turned to the youths of his family and said, “Come and carry away your brother.” The youths of Banu Hashim carried the body of ‘Ali Akbar and placed it in front of the tents where the battle was being was being fought.
Humayd ibn Muslim reported: A woman ran out of the tents shouting, “Woe! My son! Woe for the sorrow of loss! Woe for the lack of helpers!” Al-Husayn quickly came to her and took her inside the tents. I asked, “Who was this woman?” I was told, “She was Zaynab the daughter of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.” She wept aloud and al-Husayn cried with her as he recited, “Indeed we belong to Allah and unto Him do we return.”
Al-Tarikh by Tabari)

Some have reported that Lady Layla the mother of ‘Ali Akbar came to the Imam and said, ” O Master! I want my child. What has happened to my son?” The Imam took her back to the tents and asked her to pray.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

Some have also reported that after the martyrdom of ‘Ali Akbar, his sister Lady Sakinah came running to her father and asked, “O father! Why are you so grieved? What has happened to my brother?” The Imam replied, “The enemies have killed him.” She cried out, “O my brother! O the love of my heart!” The Imam said to her tearfully, “O Sakinah! For the sake of Allah, bear it with patience and perseverance.” She said, “O father! How should one whose brother has been killed and whose father has been made bereft of him bear it with patience?” The Imam recited, “Indeed we belong to Allah and unto Him we return.”
Al-Waqa’i’ wa-al-Hawadith)

According to another report, the women came to the blood soaked body of ‘Ali Akbar led by Lady Zaynab. She fell on the body and took it into her arms. With intense emotion and sorrow, she cried out, “My son! My ‘Ali!”
Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram)

Abu al-Hasan recited the following verses depicting the Imam’s sorrow at the death of ‘Ali Akbar: O star! How short was the duration of your life! Such are the lives of the stars that appear at dawn!
The eclipse hurried to him before his time. Thus it covered him before he became a full moon.
When I speak, then you are the first of my words. And when I remain silent, then you are forever in my thoughts.


The son of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil named ‘Abd Allah was one the supporters of the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’. He went to the Imam to seek his permission to go into battle. The Imam looked at ‘Abd Allah and said, “O son! The grief of Muslim’s death is sufficient for your family.” ‘Abd Allah replied, “O uncle! How will I present myself to your grandfather (the Prophet) on the Day of Judgement if I allow myself to live while you are slain? Never will I allow this. I will fight with your enemies until I meet my Lord.” ‘Abd Allah went into battle reciting the following verses:

We are the sons of Hashim;
Never will we desert
The son of the Prophet’s daughter,
The lion from the blood of ‘Ali.
I will crush you with my weapons
For on the Day of Reckoning
I desire deliverance by my Lord

‘Abd Allah fought gallantly and killed many of the enemy until finally an arrow pierced his throat. As ‘Abd Allah fell to the ground his final words were, “O father! My back is broken.” The Imam swiftly came to the torn, blood soaked body of ‘Abd Allah. He recited, “Indeed do we belong to Allah and unto Him will we return.” Then he prayed, “O Allah! Kill the people who have killed the offspring of ‘Aqil.”
Maqtal al-Husayn by Abu Mikhnaf)

It is also reported: ‘Abd Allah was the person after ‘Ali Akbar ibn al-Husayn’s martyrdom to go into the battlefield. He went reciting the following verses:

Today I will meet Muslim my father
And the people who gave their lives for the religion of the Prophet.

‘Abd Allah mounted three attacks against the enemy killing a great number of them until Zayd ibn Ruqad shot an arrow at him. ‘Abd Allah raised his hand to his face in order to shield the arrow. The arrow pierced through his hand and penetrated his forehead sticking the hand to it. ‘Abd Allah was unable to separate his hand from his forehead. In anguish he cried out, “O Lord! Do to our foes as they do to us!” Another of the enemy rode in front of him and embedded his spear in chest. In this manner ‘Abd Allah met with his Creator  (Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram)

Lady Zaynab was the oldest sister of Imam al-Husayn. She was born in Medina on 5th Jumada Ula in 5, 6 or 7 AH. She died at the age of sixty-two or four either in Egypt, Syria or Medina. She married ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja’far, her cousin, on the understanding that whenever her brother Imam al-Husayn wished to travel and she wished to go with him, ‘Abd Allah would not stop her.

It is reported that Lady Zaynab had five children, four sons named ‘Ali, ‘Awn Akbar, Muhammad and ‘Abbas and a daughter named Umm Kulthum.
Riyahin al-Shari’ah).

At the time the Imam left for Mecca with his companions on way to Iraq, Lady Zaynab accompanied him. ‘Abd Allah, due to old age and sickness, was unable go with them. In his place he sent his two sons, ‘Awn and Muhammad, instructing Lady Zaynab to send them into battle if the enemies waged war against the Imam. Some reported that ‘Abd Allah gave ‘Awn and Muhammad to Lady Zaynab when the Imam decided to leave for Iraq.

As for ‘Awn, it is agreed by most authorities that he was the son of Lady Zaynab. However, Tabari claims that his mother was Jumanah, daughter of Musayyib. According to some sources, Khawsa, daughter of Khasafah, was the mother of Muhammad. However, the book Kamil Baha’i maintains that both were the sons of Lady Zaynab. They were martyred in Karbala’ on ‘Ashura’ defending their uncle the Imam.
Muntakhab al-Tawarikh)

On the Day of ‘Ashura’ Lady Zaynab cleansed ‘Awn and Muhammad, applied collyrium to their eyes and dressed them in new garments. Then she handed them their swords and presented them to her brother the Imam for permission to go into battle. The Imam refused her saying, “‘Abd Allah, your husband, may not agree to this.” Zaynab replied, “But he is the one who instructed me that in the case of war I should give his sons before yours.” Lady Zaynab insisted until the Imam reluctantly gave permission.

When ‘Umar ibn Sa’d saw the two children riding into battle, he exclaimed in astonishment, “What love Zaynab must have for her brother to have sent the lights of her eyes to the battlefield!” The two children fought until Muhammad was struck down. ‘Awn came to his dying brother. Taking him into his lap, he said, “O brother! Do not grieve. I too will soon follow.” ‘Awn continued to fight until he too was struck down and departed to the Eternal Abode. Weeping and overcome by grief, the Imam went to the two children. He carried them away with their bodies in his arms. Their feet dragging on the


When the bodies of the martyrs were brought to the tents, the women preceded by Lady Zaynab would come out of the tents to lament the dead. However, this time when the bodies of her own children were being brought, she was not to be seen. The reason for this may have been that she did not wish to cry for her sons and weaken the resolve of her brother the Imam in fighting with the enemy. Alternatively she may have thought that her weeping for her sons might cause the Imam the embarrassment of thinking that he was the reason for their deaths. Such was the lofty character of the daughter of Lady Fatimah.
Tadhkirat al-Shuhada’).

The News of the Martyrdom of ‘Awn and Muhammad Reaching ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja’far

When the news of the martyrdoms of ‘Awn and Muhammad reached Medina, Abu Salasil a freed slave of ‘Abd Allah, ripped his shirt in anguish at the news of their deaths. With great grief, he informed ‘Abd Allah of their deaths and lamented, “O ‘Awn! O Muhammad! The two apples of my eyes! The tranquillity of my heart! Who was better than you? This tragedy has befallen us because of al-Husayn. If you had not gone with him this would not have happened.”

On receiving the news of their martyrdom in this fashion, ‘Abd Allah uttered the verse, ” Indeed we belong to Allah and unto Him we will return.” Then he angrily rebuked Abu Salasil saying, “How dare you utter such words and show such disrespect for al-Husayn! Praise be to Allah Who allowed my sons to attain the rank of martyrdom alongside al-Husayn! If only I had been with them and been killed before them! By Allah! I told them to die for al-Husayn. Now I am left mourning them and our master Imam al-Husayn.”
(Rayyhan al-Shari’ah)


Qasim ibn al-Hasan had not reached the age puberty at time of his martyrdom at Karbala’. On the eve of ‘Ashura’ when the Imam informed his faithful followers of their imminent deaths, Qasim ibn al-Hasan, who was also in the gathering, went to the Imam and asked him, ” O uncle! Will I also be killed?” The Imam embraced him and said, “O child! How do you find death?” He replied, “Sweeter than honey!” The Imam told him, “You will be killed after a great calamity and so will ‘Abd Allah, the infant (‘Ali Asghar).”
Al-Waqa’i’ wa-al-Hawadith).

Qasim ibn al-Hasan readied himself for battle on the Day of ‘Ashura’. Then he went to the Imam for his final farewell. The Imam took Qasim to his bosom and both wept for a while. Qasim asked

permission from the Imam to go into battle. However, the Imam was hesitant. Qasim repeatedly asked until the Imam reluctantly allowed him. Qasim, distressed and with tears rolling down his cheeks, advanced into battle reciting:

I am the son of al-Hasan if you are unaware, the grandson of the Messenger, the chosen, the trusted.
This is Husayn like a captive held in ransom for people whose thirst may not be quenched by the falling rain.

Qasim mounted an attack on the enemy killing three of them.

Humayd ibn Muslim reported this incident in the following way: A young boy came out of the tents of al-Husayn and approached the battlefield. His face was like the first splinter of the new moon. He had a sword in his hand and was wearing a long shirt. As he entered within the battlefield and engaged in fighting, ‘Amr ibn Sa’d Azdi, who stood next to me, said, “By God! Let me attack this child!” I replied, “What cause do you have with him? He is only a child. Let those who surround him finish him off. By God! I would not lift a finger against him even if he was to strike me down with his sword.” He repeated, “By God! Let me attack him and make life a misery for him.” As Qasim ibn al-Hasan was fighting with the soldiers that surrounded him, ‘Amr sneaked behind him and struck him on the head with a sword. Qasim’s head split open as he fell from his mount onto his blessed face and he cried out. ” O uncle! Come to my aid.”

The Imam was standing watching his nephew Qasim. No sooner had Qasim cried out to him than the Imam, descending like an eagle upon its prey, launched an attack tearing through the ranks of the enemy until he reached ‘Amr Azdi. The Imam struck at him with his sword. ‘Amr raised his arm to shield himself from the blow and his arm was cut from the elbow. ‘Amr called out to save him from the Imam. Their horses collided with and ‘Amr fell. The horses galloped over his body and he was trampled to death by their hooves. When they finally managed to carry it away. As the cloud of dust and sand raised by the galloping horses settled, the Imam was seen, standing by Qasim. He rubbed his heels on the ground as his soul departed from the mutilated body. The Imam put his cheek on the torn chest of Qasim crying and lamenting, “O child! It is unbearable that you called out to your old uncle and I could not come to your help. And when I did, it was to no avail.”

The Imam took Qasim’s body into his arms and carried him with Qasim’s feet dragging on the ground to where the bodies of his sons, brothers and companions were placed. He placed Qasim’s body next to his son ‘Ali Akbar and he said to them, “O my nephews! Persevere. O my children! Have patience. By Allah! You will not see any grief after this day.”
A’yan al-Shi’ah).

According to another report, the Imam placed Qasim next to ‘Ali Ak

bar. Then he sat between the two of them. He removed his turban and scattered dust on his head. Then he placed his right hand on the chest of ‘Ali Akbar and his left hand on the chest of Qasim. With his eyes filled with tears, he looked up at the sky and cried out, “O Lord of the worlds! Al-Husayn has been deprived of his sons.”

According to some reports, when the Imam sent Qasim of to the battle, he tore Qasim’s turban into two pieces. He placed one half on his shoulders and chest like the top piece of a shroud while he tied the other half to his head with a strap falling across his face and ending around his neck on his back. It was for this reason that Qasim’s face was described as the first splinter of the new moon.
Muntakhab Turayhi).


Hasan Muthanna, the son of Imam al-Hasan, was present with his uncle Imam al-Husayn at Karbala’. He had asked the Imam for the hand of one of his daughters, Fatimah or Sakinah, in marriage. The Imam had chosen that he should marry his daughter Fatimah due to her resemblance his own mother, the Queen of the women of Paradise, Lady Fatimah. May Allah shower His blessing upon the souls of Muhammad and his immaculate progeny! The marriage had taken place either at the time of their departure from Medina or on the way to Iraq.
Nafs al-Mahmum).

On the Day of ‘Ashura’ Hasan Muthanna killed seventeen of the enemy before falling unconscious due to the excessive wounds that he had received in the fighting. Hasan Muthanna remained unconscious until 11th Muharram. Presuming him to be dead, the enemy did not touch him until the next day. On that day, 11th Muharram, the day after ‘Ashura’, ‘Umar ibn Sa’d ordered the soldiers to behead the martyred companions of Imam al-Husayn, the Hashimites and the non-Hashimites alike. It was at this moment that the soldiers realised that Hasan Muthanna still had a ray of life in him. This news reached Asma’ ibn Kharijah, a commander in ‘Umar ibn Sa’d’s army and a relative of Khawlah, the mother of Hasan Muthanna. He insisted that ‘Umar ibn Sa’d spare the life of Hasan Muthanna. His request was granted.

Asma’ took Hasan Muthanna who was still unconscious to Kufah for medication. On the way Hasan Muthanna gained consciousness. He was dismayed at the scene and asked about his uncle Imam al-Husayn. On hearing the fate of the Imam and his faithful companions, Hasan Muthanna was greatly grieved and saddened. Asma’ took him to Kufah and ensured he was given medical attention.

After Hasan Muthanna had regained strength, Asma’ sent him back to Medina. Hasan Muthanna stayed in Medina until the age of thirty-five when he was poisoned to death on the instructions of ‘Abd al-Malik, the fifth Caliph of Umayyad dynasty. Hasan Muthanna was buried in the cemetery of Baqi’ in Medina. Hasan Muthanna bore the title Tabataba, and he is the one from whom the Sadat of the Tabataba’i lineage are descended.
Minhaj al-Dumu”).


‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, whose martyrdom will be described shortly, had three brothers from the same parents, Imam ‘Ali and Umm Banin. These were ‘Abd Allah, who was twenty-five years of age, ‘Uthman, who was twenty-one, and Ja’far, who was nineteen. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was thirty-four years of age and the oldest among the children of Umm al-Banin. On the Day of ‘Ashura’ in the midst of battle he turned to these three brothers and said, “O sons of my mother! Advance! Let me witness your sincerity and devotion to Allah and the Messenger.”

Each one in turn advanced towards the enemy and battled until he was killed.
A’yan al-Shi’ah)

The Birth and Noble Status of ‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, whose mother was Umm Banin, was born in Medina on 4th Sha’ban in the year 26 AH. He was fourteen at the time of the martyrdom of his father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. At Karbala’ he was the standard bearer of the Imam and the strongest among the army. At his martyrdom ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was thirty-four years of age.

Umm Banin’s real name was Fatimah. She was the second wife of Imam ‘Ali. After the death of Lady Fatimah, Imam ‘Ali approached his brother ‘Aqil, who an expert at genealogy. He said to him, “Look for a woman born to the most excellent and perfect woman among the Arabs so that I may marry her and she may bear a princely warrior for me.” ‘Aqil replied, “Take the hand of Fatimah Kalbiyyah in marriage. There is not household braver than hers among the Arabs.”

When she gave birth to her first child ‘Abbas, he was taken to the Imam. The Imam took him in his hands and looking at ‘Abbas’s arms began to weep. When asked about the reason for his grief, the Imam replied, “These arms of ‘Abbas will be cut from his body on the Day of ‘Ashura’ in protecting my son al-Husayn.”

Umm Banin, which means ‘mother of sons’ because she gave birth to four sons also gave birth to two daughters. The sons of Umm Banin and Imam ‘Ali were ‘Abbas, ‘Abd Allah, Ja’far and ‘Uthman. These four were all killed at Karbala’ defending the Imam. Her daughters were Umm Hani’ and Jumanah ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was married to Lubabah, daughter of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, the cousin of Imam ‘Ali. He had two sons from her named ‘Ubayd Allah and Fadl. According to some reports, he had two more sons named Muhammad and Qasim, who were killed at Karbala’ with their father ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali.

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali resembled his father Imam ‘Ali in his virtues and bravery. It is reported that the face of the killer of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, who was from the tribe of Banu Darim turned black. Upon being asked of the reason for this, he replied that he had killed a person who bore the mark of prostration on his forehead and was known as ‘Abbas.
Al-Waqa’i’ wa-al-Hawadith).

It is reported that ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was a tall and a handsome man. When he mounted his horse, his feet could touch the ground. He was given the title of Qamar Banu Hashim (moon of the Hashimites) and was the standard bearer of the army of Imam al-Husayn.
Maqatil al-Talibiyyin).

The historians have described him in the following words: “He was a lofty mountain with a momentous heart because he was a gallant knight and a fearless lion, daring in the face of attacks and the striking of swords of the non-believers and in the field.”
Kibrit al-Ahmar)

The meaning of the word ‘abbas is ‘firmness’. It expresses ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali’s firmness and steadfastness in the face of enemies.

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali’s wonderful attributes and fearless nature were a result of what he had inherited from his parents.

The Titles Of ‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali has several titles. Each one of these expresses an aspect of his life, character and personality. The titles are:
Abu al-Fadl, the father of Fadl, his oldest son, or ‘the father of virtue’, which is the literal meaning of fadl;
Abu al-Qirbah, literally ‘the father of the waterskin’ since he brought water from the Euphrates to quench the thirst of those with the Imam;
. Qamar Banu Hashim, ‘the moon of the Hashimites’ – a title given to him by his father Imam ‘Ali as he unveiled ‘Abbas’s face to the enemy at the battle of Siffin;
Al-‘Abd al-Salih, which means ‘the righteous servant of Allah’;
Al-Muwasi, which means ‘one who gives consolation’;
Al-Fadi, which means ‘one who sacrifices himself’;
Al-Hami, which means ‘the defender’;
Al-Waqi, which means ‘the protector’;
Al-Sa’i, which means ‘the one who strives’;
Bab al-Hawa’ij, which means ‘the doorway for the needs [of people]’ 

11. Hamil al-Liwa, which means ‘the standard-bearer’, because he carried the standard on the Day of ‘Ashura’.
In the early period of Islamic history the standard bearers enjoyed a very important status, almost as important as the Commander-in-Chief. A lot rested on the shoulders of the standard bearers as regards the war strategy, lifting the morale of the army and directing them to victory in the face of apparent defeat. It was therefore imperative to have the best of the army as the bearers of the standard. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali kept the standard of Imam al-Husayn held high until the final moment. ‘Abbas even managed to secure the standard as his arms were being severed from his elbows. He finally embraced the standard to his chest as he once again advanced towards the adversaries who had surrounded him from all directions. He persisted in keeping the standard from falling to the ground. This continued until his blessed head was struck with a metal pole that split it open and made him fall to the ground. Yet still he embraced the standard.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali’s Death When He Went To The Euphrates To Try To Get Water

When all of the non-Hashimite companions of the Imam had been killed, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali turned to the Imam and implored him, “O brother! Permit me to advance into the battle.” The Imam wept at this request from ‘Abbas. ‘Abbas continued to implore him, “My heart has become constricted and I have grown tired of life. Allow me to avenge the blood of the martyrs?” Finally the Imam tearfully said, “Go and fetch some water for these thirsty children.”

‘Abbas went towards the enemy and admonished them warning them of the evil consequences of their actions. But they turned a deaf ear to his words. ‘Abbas returned to the Imam and heard the cries thirty children begging for water. It is reported that the Imam had designated a tent for water where the water-skins were kept. ‘Abbas entered into the tent and saw the thirsty children putting the empty water-skins to their bellies in order to alleviate their thirst with the dampness of the skins. ‘Abbas could not endure this scene and said, “O lights of my eyes! I will go and fetch water for you.”

He took a water-skin in one hand and his spear in the other and mounted his horse to set off for the Euphrates.
‘Unwan al-Kalam)

According to another report, as ‘Abbas bade farewell to the Imam, he looked up at the sky and pleaded, “O Allah! I wish to fulfil my oath of bringing water for these thirsty children.” Then he kissed the forehead of the Imam and went towards the Euphrates.

There were up to ten thousand soldiers guarding the banks of the Euphrates. The enemy mounted six attacks against ‘Abbas to prevent him from reaching to the water.  ‘Abbas warded them off and killed eighty of them. He managed to get to the Euphrates and rode his horse into the river. ‘Abbas dismounted and cupped some water into his hand and raised it to his mouth. As he was about to drink it, he remembered the thirst of his brother the Imam and threw it away.
Aksir al-‘Ibadat)

As he threw away the water, ‘Abbas – may our souls be ransomed for his recited:

O soul! You are of little worth after al-Husayn.
It does not befit you to live after him.
This is al-Husayn surrounded by death
While you wish to partake from the cold sweet water.
By Allah! This is not the deed of my religion.

According to another report he said, ” By Allah! I will not taste water while my master al-Husayn is thirsty.”
Bihar al-Anwar)

According to some on the night of Imam ‘Ali’s martyrdom, 21 Ramadan, he drew ‘Abbas to his chest and said, “O child! Through you I will be honoured on the day of Resurrection. O my son! When the day of ‘Ashura’ comes and you get to the river, do not drink of the water while your brother al-Husayn is thirsty.”
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

‘Abbas filled the water-skin and hung it on his right shoulder and started his return to the tents. The soldiers surrounded him from all directions. He single-handedly tried to fight with them off as he surged towards the tents. ‘Abbas continued to fight until either Nawfal ibn Azraq or Zayd ibn Warqa who was hiding behind a tree struck at ‘Abbas’s right arm severing it from the elbow.  ‘Abbas quickly moved the water-skin to his left shoulder as he recited:

By Allah! Even if you cut off my right arm,
I will forever defend my religion
And the Imam that is truly
From the lineage of the Messenger, the pure the trustworthy.

He continued fighting and killed many of the renowned swordsmen of the enemy. Some have reckoned that eight hundred and fifty-five soldiers were killed by ‘Abbas on this occasion. ‘Abbas continued to fight his way to the tents. As he was fighting, Hakim ibn Tufayl, who had also hidden himself behind a tree, struck at ‘Abbas’s left arm and cut it off from the elbow. At this ‘Abbas recited the following:

O soul! Do not fear the disbelievers.
Take the glad tidings of the Almighty
To the Messenger, the chosen lord.
Through their transgression they have cut my left hand.
O Lord! Drive them into the heat of the fire
‘Abbas struggled as he grabbed the water-skin with his teeth in a final attempt to get the water to the thirsty children. In the shower of arrows, spears and stones, an arrow pierced the water-skin causing it to burst open. Another struck his blessed chest causing him to fall from his horse.
Muntaha al-Amal)

Abu Mikhnaf writes: Despite the fact that ‘Abbas’s arms were so badly cut that they were hanging and dripping blood, he once again rode into the enemy ranks. Finally he was struck on the head with an iron mace that split it open and he fell to the ground. As he trembled in his blood, ‘Abbas cried out, “O my brother! O Husayn! Accept my final salutations!”

According to popular narrations, he cried out, “O brother! Come to the aid of your brother!” The Imam rushed out to his body and found ‘Abbas drowned in blood, covered in arrows, with his arms cut from his body and his eye pierced by an arrow. The Imam desolately stood over his body hopelessly. Defeat appeared on the face of al-Husayn. He wept bitterly as he called out, “O brother! O ‘Abbas! O soul of my heart! O for destruction after you! O ‘Abbas! Now my back has been broken; my means of release have been devastated; and my hopes have been cut short.”
Fursan al-Hayjan)

The Final Words Between ‘Abbas And The Imam

It is reported: The Imam placed ‘Abbas’s wounded head into his lap and as he cleansed the blood from his eye, he saw that ‘Abbas was crying. The Imam asked, “O brother! Why do you cry?” ‘Abbas replied, “O brother! O light of my eyes! How could I not cry when I see you holding my head in your lap and I know that in a while there will be no one to lift your head from the ground, place it in his lap and clean the dust from your face?” The Imam sat next to ‘Abbas until a hollow sound came from ‘Abbas’s throat as he submitted his life to the Almighty.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

Fadil Darbandi writes in Asrar al-Shahadah: The Imam had resolved to carry back ‘Abbas’s body immersed in his blood. However, just before ‘Abbas died, he opened his eye and asked, “O brother! What do you intend to do?” The Imam replied, “I wish to take you back to the tents.” ‘Abbas said, “Leave me here.” The Imam asked, “Why?” ‘Abbas whispered, “I feel shy of your daughter Sakinah. I promised to bring back water and I did not manage to.” The Imam prayed, “May Allah reward you on behalf of your brother for you have helped me whilst alive and now after your death.” The Imam left ‘Abbas at the river and returned to the tents.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

The Imam’s Desolate Return From The Euphrates
The Imam left ‘Abbas at the banks of the ‘Alqamah and set off back
to the tents wiping away the tears rolling down his cheeks with his sleeves. As he neared the tents, Sakinah rushed out to him and grabbed the bridle of his horse. She anxiously asked, “O father! Do you have any news of my uncle ‘Abbas?” The Imam wept as he replied, “O child! Your uncle ‘Abbas has been killed and has left for Heaven.” On hearing this, Lady Zaynab cried out and she and the rest of the women lamented, “O brother! O ‘Abbas! Who will come to our aid after you?”
Kibrit al-Ahmar)

The Cries And Lamentation Of Lady Zaynab At ‘Abbas’s Death

In another account, when the Imam reached the tents, Zaynab rushed to him after learning of ‘Abbas’s death. She asked the Imam, “Why did you not bring my brother back to me?” The Imam wept and said, “O Zaynab! Your brother’s limbs were torn to such an extent that I could not move them.” On hearing this Zaynab lamented, “O brother! O ‘Abbas! O lack of helpers! O the destruction after you!” The Imam cried out, “Ah the loss of a brother and the breaking of my back!” Then he recited these verses of lamentation:

My brother! The light of my eye! My brother from my parents!
You were for me a secure pillar
O luminous moon! You were an aid to me
In every misfortune, in straitened circumstances>
Life for us holds no meaning after you.
We will gather tomorrow in the presence of God
Truly for Allah is my complaint and perseverance in
My thirst and calamity

(Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

Another Description Of ‘Abbas’s Martyrdom

The following is a summary of Mulla Habib Allah Kashani’s account of the martyrdom of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali: As al-Husayn heard the sorrowful cry of ‘Abbas, he mounted his horse Dhu Janah and rushed to the river. He encountered the enemy on his way. He attacked them and as they fled he called out, “Where do you run to? You have killed my brother and broken my back.” The Imam killed eight hundred of the enemy but all the time he was calling out to ‘Abbas, “O ‘Abbas! Where are you?”

Dhu Janah suddenly stopped and refused to move forward. The Imam glanced at the ground and saw the severed arms of ‘Abbas. He dismounted, took the arms of ‘Abbas and tearfully wiped them on his face as he said, “Ah for the grief of the death of my brother!” He mounted Dhu Janah and once again the horse paused. This time when he looked to the ground he saw the torn water-skin. The Imam wept aloud and continued to the river. There he saw the torn body of his brother. Involuntarily he let out a sorrowful cry that shook the Heavens and the earth as he said, “Now has my back broken; my means have been devastated.” The Imam took ‘Abbas’s head and drew it to his chest and uncontrollably cried aloud. Such was his grief that the enemy who witnessed it began to cry at the scene. The Imam said to ‘Abbas, “O my brother! May Allah grant you the best of rewards! Indeed you have striven steadfastly in the way of Allah.”
Tadhkirat al-Shuhada’)

Some Of The Later Expression Of Grief And Admiration For ‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali

Umm Banin his mother on receiving the news of ‘Abbas’s martyrdom addressed him in the following verse:

Had your sword been in you hands,
No one would have dared come near you.
(Fursan al-Hayjan)

There is a report that when the spoils of war that had been taken from the family of the Messenger were presented to Yazid in Syria, among them was a large standard. Yazid and those surrounding him in the court observed that every inch of the standard had been scarred except for the place where it had been held. Yazid asked about the bearer of the standard and was told that it belonged to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. Yazid, in awe at the sight of the standard, repeatedly stood up and sat down. Then he said, “Look at this standard. No part of it has been spared from the cuts of spears and swords except the part where it was held.”
He continued, “O ‘Abbas! You rejected scorn. This is how the loyalty of a brother for his brother is demonstrated.”
Din wa Tammudun)

When the Fourth Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn once saw ‘Ubayd Allah, the son of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, in Medina, he remembered his father and wept uncontrollably. He said, “No tragedy had befallen the Messenger of Allah greater than the death of Hamza the lion of Allah in the battle of Uhud until a greater calamity came upon him with the death of Ja’far al-Tayyar in the battle of Mu’tah. But the greatest tragedy was the day of the martyrdom of al-Husayn. He was surrounded by thirty thousand men thinking they belonged to the Ummah of Islam.” Then he said, “Indeed ‘Abbas enjoys such a lofty status with Allah that all the martyrs will aspire to achieve it on the Day of Resurrection.” He added, “May Allah have mercy upon my uncle ‘Abbas who sacrificed his life for al-Husayn in such a way that the enemy cut off both his arms. Allah has replaced his arms with two wings as he did for Ja’far ibn Abi Talib. You should know that ‘Abbas passes through the ranks of Paradise with the angels.”
Muntakhab al-Tawarikh)

The Salutations Of The Twelfth Imam To ‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali

Peace be with Abu al-Fadl ‘Abbas, the son of the Commander of the faithful!

Peace be with the one who gave his life for the sake of his brother!
[Peace be with the one] who made the world a means for the Hereafter,
[The one] who sacrificed himself for his brother
[The one] who protected and strove to get water for his brother!

May Allah curse the killers of ‘Abbas, Yazid ibn Ruqad and Hakim ibn Tufayl.
Bihar al-Anwar)

Further Reasons And Explanations For The Great Grief For ‘Abbas Ibn ‘Ali

In order to further appreciate the full extent of the grief of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali’s death we cite the following:

1. As Luqman the wise returned from a lengthy journey, he met his servant and asked, “Where is my father?” The servant replied “He has died.” Luqman said, “I will now be the master of my affairs. What has happened to my wife?” The servant answered, “She has died.” Luqman said, “I will marry again. What has happened to my sister?” The servant said, “She has died.” Luqman said, “My dignity is safeguarded. What has happened to my brother?” The servant answered, “He has died.” Luqman declared, “Now my back is broken.”

This demonstrates that the devastation suffered by the Imam at the death of ‘Abbas was such that he said, “Now my back has broken.”

2. In the time of ‘Allamah Bahr al-‘Ulum part of the holy grave of ‘Abbas had become damaged. Bahr al-‘Ulum was to visit the grave with a builder and oversee the restoration of the grave. They entered within the Sardab and the builder took a look at the size of the grave. Seeing that it was smaller than what he had expected, he enquired, “I have heard that ‘Abbas was so tall that his feet could touch the ground as he sat on his horse. According to that, his grave has to be much bigger than what it is. Have we been hearing false accounts of his stature or is there another reason for the small grave?” Instead of answering him, the ‘Allamah placed his head against the wall and began to cry aloud. He cried so much that the builder became concerned and asked, “Why are you crying like this? Have I said something wrong?” The ‘Allamah replied, “What you have heard is true. ‘Abbas was very tall but your question has reminded me of his heartbreaking tragedy. He was struck so many times with swords, spears and arrows that his body was torn and reduced into pieces.”

3. Every warrior who is shot by an arrow removes it or can remove it from his body with his hands. ‘Abbas faced four thousand bowmen who had made him the only target for their arrows while his hands lay cut on the ground.

4. Every rider, on dismounting from his horse, places one hand on the saddle and the other on the bridle. How could a person without any hands dismount from his horse? 5. Every warrior, falling from his mount, stretches his arms to the ground to prevent his head and body crashing onto the ground. How painfully ‘Abbas must have descended from his mount!

6. ‘Abbas was covered with arrows as he fell from his horse. At his fall the arrows further penetrated into his blessed body.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

7. Sayyid ‘Abd al-Razzaq the author of Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram writes: The great scholar Shaykh Kazim Sibti said to me, “One of our important trustworthy scholars came to me and said, ‘I have been sent to you by ‘Abbas. I saw him in a dream and he asked me why Shaykh Kazim Sibti does not narrate my tragedy? I replied that he always narrates your tragedy. He said tell Shaykh Kazim to narrate: Every one who falls to the ground uses his hands to help him. How would one who had no arms and who was covered with arrows land on the ground as he fell from his horse?”
Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram)

8. Fadil Darbandi writes in Asrar al-Shahadah: A group of trustworthy people have narrated to me that a believer would make a daily pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam al-Husayn but would only visit the shrine of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali only once in a week. He saw the Lady of light, Lady Fatimah, in his dreams, he greeted her with salutations but the Lady turned her face away from him. Frightened and dismayed, he asked, “O Lady! May my father and mother be ransomed for you! Why do you turn your face away? What wrong have I done?” She replied, “Because you have turned your face away from the pilgrimage of my son.” came the reply. He pleaded, “But I always visit the grave of your son al-Husayn.” To this Lady Fatimah said, “You visit my son al-Husayn but you only visit my son ‘Abbas a little.”
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)


According to the author Muhammad Ishtihadi, two suckling babies of the Imam were killed on the day of ‘Ashura’. One was ‘Abd Allah the new born and the other ‘Ali Asghar.

The Killing Of ‘Abd Allah Ibn Al-Husayn

As for the death of ‘Abd Allah, the author cites the
al-Ziyarah al-Nahiyah of the twelfth Imam:

Peace with ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Husayn!
[He is] the suckling child shot and killed by an arrow, clothed in blood.
[He is] the one whose blood ascended to the Heavens.
[He is] the one slaughtered in the lap of his father

May the curse of Allah fall on his killer Harmalah ibn Kahil Asadi!
(Bihar al-Anwar)

When most of the Imam’s companions and family members had given their lives, the Imam called out “Is there a helper who will defend the family of the Messenger? Is there anyone who for the sake of Allah will come to our aid?” The Imam called for help as the crying and wails of lamenting women rose from the tents.

The Imam came to Lady Zaynab and asked for his child to bid him farewell. The Imam held the child and as he drew him to his lips to kiss him. Harmalah shot an arrow at the young child’s neck slaughtering the child before the father could raise him to his lips. The Imam handed over the child to Zaynab. As he removed his hand from beneath the child’s neck, it had already filled with the child’s blood. The Imam threw the blood towards the sky saying, “The tragedy is bearable only because Allah witnesses it.” It is reported in al-Ihtijaj that the Imam went to the side of the tents where he dug a grave with the sheath of his sword and buried his baby son.
Nafas al-Mahmum)

The Grand Tragic Death Of ‘Ali Asghar Ibn Husayn

It is popularly narrated that ‘Ali Asghar was six months old at his martyrdom. His mother was Rabab the daughter of Imru’ al-Qays. She was also the mother of Sakinah the daughter of the Imam.

Before his final combat with the enemy, the Imam came to his sister Umm Kulthum and said, “O sister! Take great care of my suckling child ‘Ali Asghar.  He is only six months old.” To this Umm Kulthum replied, “O brother! Your child has not tasted water for three days. Go to the people and ask for some water for him.”

The Imam took ‘Ali Asghar to his bosom and advanced towards the enemy. He stood in front of the enemy exposing ‘Ali Asghar to them and said, “O people! What has this child done to you? If you have any enmity, then it is with me. You have killed my sons, my brothers, and my companions. This child cannot fight you. Come quench his thirst. Do you not see how he burns with thirst and is about to give his life?” The Imam had not even finished speaking when, on the orders of ‘Umar ibn Sa’ad, Harmalah made the thirsty throat of ‘Ali Asghar a target of his three headed arrow. Thus the neck of the child was torn from one ear to another.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn).

The Grief Of The Imam At The Death Of ‘Ali Asghar

The grief suffered by the Imam at the death of ‘Ali Asghar was such that he wept in anguish for the child in his trembling hands. He said in supplication, “O Allah! You be the judge between these people and me. They invited us and promised to help us. Now they are killing us.” As the Imam wept intensely for his child, he heard a cry

from the heavens, “O Husayn! Let go of him. He has a mother waiting for him inside the tent.” This voice consoled the Imam and enabled to bear the pain of the death of ‘Ali Asghar.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

Sakinah Encountering The Blood Drenched Body Of ‘Ali Asghar

According to a report, as ‘Ali Asghar finally fluttered from life to death, held in the hands of the Imam, Husayn ibn Tamim fired an arrow at the Imam. The arrow struck the blessed lips of the Imam; and a fountain of blood gushed forth dripping on the body of ‘Ali Asghar. The Imam tearfully complained to Allah, “O Allah! I complain to you for what these people have done to me, my brothers, sons and family.”

According to Abu Mikhnaf, the Imam Carried ‘Ali Asghar back to the tents as the blood oozed from ‘Ali Asghar’s neck on to his chest. Sakinah rushed to him to receive her brother. She asked, “O father! Have you fed water to my brother?” The Imam cried as he said, “O child! Take your brother who has been slaughtered by the arrow of the enemy.”
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)

After the martyrdom of the Imam, Sakinah ran distraught from the burning looted tents to his beheaded body. She cried and fell unconscious on to his chest. The Imam appeared to her in her dreams and dictated to her certain verses for her to transmit to those who loved him that depicted the severity of the calamity that had befallen him. The following are two verses describing the brutal murder of ‘Ali Asghar:

If only on the day of ‘Ashura’ you had all seen
How I begged water for my child but they refused to show mercy to me.
Instead they quenched his thirst with a treacherous arrow in place of cold water.
Woe for the grave loss and calamity! They have destroyed the foundations of the mountains of Mecca.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)


It is reported: When the Imam had advanced against the enemy and was already fighting, a child, the son of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil’s brother, ran out of the tents with the women chasing after him. The boy was wearing an earring on one of his ears that was moving from side to side and turning his head as if in search of someone. In the midst of this, one of the enemies named Hani’ ibn Thabit Hadrami rode to the child and struck him with his sword. The child died immediately. The scene was one of utmost tragedy as the women gathered around his little body, which by this time was soaked in blood. His mother
Shar Banuwayah, as a result of the shock and the intense grief of witnessing her son, fell unconscious by his body.

Hani’ ibn Thabit was also one of the ten men who rode over the beheaded body of the Imam after his martyrdom. 


A soldier in the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d and who had taken part in the killing of the companions of the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’ was rebuked by the people. He was cursed, “May sorrow be your lot! How did you consent to being party to the killing of the sons of the Messenger?” To this he replied, “Silence! We faced a people who were like unbridled camels. They were attacking us and cutting us apart from every direction. With open arms they were advancing towards death. Either they drank from the chalice of death or were willing to tear death itself apart. To kill them was the only way to save ourselves. If any of you had been there, you too would have done the same.”
Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah by Ibn Abi al-Hadid).


‘Abd Allah Asghar the son of Imam al-Hasan was eleven years of age when he was at Karbala’ with his uncle Imam al-Husayn. The Imam had instructed the women folk to guard ‘Abd Allah from the enemy. At the time when the Imam had gone forward for his final battle left alone and without any helpers, ‘Abd Allah, despite his helplessness, rushed out of the tent towards the Imam. Lady Zaynab ran after him to stop him from going to the battlefield. The Imam saw ‘Ab
d Allah running towards him and cried out, “O Zaynab! Grab him!” ‘Abd Allah clung to the Imam and pleaded, “By my Lord! I will not leave my uncle. I will not return to the tents.” ‘Abd Allah was in the arms of his uncle pleading to remain when a soldier rode towards them raising his sword intent on striking the Imam. ‘Abd Allah thrust out his arm to intercept the cutting steel! His severed arm swung by a shred of skin as he cried out, “O uncle! O father! They have cut my arm.” The Imam embraced the child saying, “O child! Persevere! Very soon you will meet your grandfather, your father and your uncle…” The Imam had not finished consoling the child when Harmalah shot an arrow at the tender throat of ‘Abd Allah. The child shuddered. Then, trembling in the arms of his old uncle, he parted from this world.

When Lady Zaynab saw this, she wept uncontrollably and sobbingly lamented, “O son of my brother! O light of my eye! If only death would have taken me away!”
According to another report, when ‘Abd Allah’s arm was cut, he called out to his mother, “O mother! They have cut my arm!” She came running out screaming, “O my child! O the apple of my eye!”
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)







After the morning prayers on the Day of ‘Ashura, the Imam and his men organized their ranks for the battle. All in all there were thirty-two men on horse and forty men on foot. Zuhayr ibn Qayn was given command of the right wing of the army while Habib ibn Muzahir was in charge of the left. The standard was given to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. The Imam and the Hashimites took up their positions in the centre of the army.

In the case of the enemy, ‘Umar ibn Sa’d had placed ‘Amr ibn Hajjaj in charge of the right wing and Shimr ibn Dhi Jawshan in charge of the left. ‘Urwah ibn Qays was in command of the cavalry while Shabath ibn Rib’i commanded the foot soldiers. The standard was given Durayd, a servant of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d.

A group of the enemy drew up their horses near the camp of the Imam. They saw the ditch behind and the fire burning the firewood and cane thrown into it. At this Shimr ibn Dhi Jawshan cried out, “O Husayn! Are you hurrying towards the fire before the Day of Judgement?” The Imam retorted, “Son of a goat-girl! You are most worthy of being burnt by the fire of Hell.”

At that moment Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah was aiming an arrow at Shimr but the Imam stopped him from shooting. Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah asked, “Allow me to shoot him. He is a corrupt tyrant and Allah has made the spilling of his blood lawful for us.” The Imam replied, “I detest that we should initiate the battle.

Then the Imam mounted his camel and rode towards the enemy and addressed them. This was his first sermon on the Day of ‘Ashura’. After praising Allah, he introduced himself, “Have you not heard that the Messenger of Allah has said that al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the leaders of the youth of Paradise? If you are in doubt, then ask the likes of Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari, Abu Sa’id Khudri, Sahl ibn Sa’d, Zayd ibn Arqam and Anas ibn Malik, the companions of the Prophet as to the truth of this statement. Will this not prevent you from spilling my blood?”

Shimr cried out, “He worships Allah on the edge (i.e. hypocritically).”  Habib ibn Muzahir called out to Shimr, “Rather it is you who worship Allah on seventy edges (i.e. totally hypocritically). I bear witness that you do not comprehend a word of what is being said and that your heart has been sealed from the truth.”

After a further brief exchange of words, the enemy decided to mount an attack. When Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi realized that the battle was about to commence, he was so shocked at what was going to happen that he removed himself from the ranks of the enemy and joined Imam al-Husayn.

‘Umar ibn Sa’d called for Durayd to bring forward his standard. Then he placed an arrow in his bow and shot it towards the ranks of the Imam saying, “Bear witness that I was the first to shoot an arrow towards al-Husayn.” A shower of arrows followed and the battle commenced. Soldiers on both sides were killed in this first attack. In the following attacks it was decided that the companions of the Imam would attack in groups of two, three and four until their numbers diminished when they fought individually.
Kitab al-Irshad).


Before the commencement of the battle at dawn on the Day of ‘Ashura’, Hurr approached ‘Umar ibn Sa’d and asked, “Have you resolved to fight al-Husayn?” ‘Umar ibn Sa’d replied “Indeed it will be a war in which heads will fly and hands will be severed.” At this Hurr heard the disturbing plea of the Imam as he called out; “Is there no one who will come to our aid? Is there no one who will defend the Household of the Prophet?” Hurr trembled at the cry of the Imam and went apart from the people. With him was Qurrah ibn Qays, a person belonging to his tribe. Hurr asked Qurrah if he had given water to his horse. Qurrah replied that he had not. Hurr suggested, “Then why don’t you take it to water?”

Qurrah reported: At that moment I thought to myself that Hurr wished to flee from the battle and did not want me to witness it. I went to water my horse and saw Hurr slowly advancing towards al-Husayn. Muhajir, an officer of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d’s army, called out to him, “Hurr! Do you intend to attack al-Husayn?” Hurr did not respond, his colour went pale and he began to shake. Muhajir called out, “I have never seen you so fearful. By Allah! If I were to be asked who was the bravest warrior of Kufah, I would say it is you!” Hurr responded, “By Allah! I find myself between Heaven and Hell, and I will not prefer anything to Heaven even if I am cut into pieces and then burnt!” Then Hurr raced his horse towards al-Husayn and joined the small army of the Imam.’

When Hurr reached the Imam, he tearfully pleaded, “May my life be sacrificed for yours, O son of the Messenger of Allah! I am the one who prevented you from returning to your destination. I am the one who retained you in this wilderness. I could not believe that these godless people would refuse to concede to your proposal and would consider killing you. O Husayn! I come ashamed, regretful, repentant and begging for forgiveness. Is there any means for my forgiveness?” The Imam replied, “Yes. Allah has accepted your repentance. O Hurr! Get down from your horse and come to me.” Hurr said, “It is better that I remain mounted and fight with the enemy on horse back.”  Then Hurr came to the battlefield and stood facing the enemy, rebuking them and saying, “May Allah not quench your thirst on the Day of Reckoning because of the way you have behaved to the family of the Prophet.” The enemy shot some arrows at Hurr but he returned to the Imam and awaited instructions from him.
Kitab al-Irshad).

It is reported that after Hurr had asked for forgiveness from the Imam, he sought permission from the Imam to go to the tents of the women in order to apologise to them. The Imam granted him permission. So Hurr, with a broken heart and eyes filled with tears, went on his steed outside the tents of the womenfolk. He called out, “Peace be with you, O lineage of the Prophet! I am the person who intercepted your path. I am the one who has caused you grief and brought you to this dreadful state. I have come as penitent, seeking refuge with al-Husayn. I am hopeful that you will not complain of me to Lady Fatimah.”

Such was the impact of Hurr’s apology that cries and wailing of the women were heard from the tents. It is reported that Hurr was so moved by this that he got down from his horse and wept aloud striking his face with his hand in grief. He lamented, “If only my hands and feet had been paralysed so that I would not have done what I did! If only my tongue had been cut off so that I would not have said what I said! If only I had not prevented you from returning to your homes!” At this some of the women consoled Hurr and prayed for him. This gave him some comfort.
Masa’ib al-Abrar).


It is generally accepted that the martyrs of Karbala’ were seventy-two in number. However, there are reports that before the Imam’s death, he looked at the place were the bodies of the martyrs were gathered and found that his non-Hashimite companions were seventy-two while the Hashimites were eighteen in number.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn).

The late Mustawfi writes: After inspecting the accounts of ‘Ashura’, I am convinced that the number of the companions of the Imam was more than seventy-two. The number seventy-two may have gained fame due to seventy-two people leaving Medina with the Imam.
Nasikh al-Tawarikh).

Seventy-nine names have been mentioned in al-Ziyarah al-Nahiyyah, reported by Sayyid Ibn Tawus on the authority of the twelfth Imam.

Muhadith Mahalati has counted two hundred and twenty-two martyrs. Of these one by the name of Sulayman ibn Abi Zarin was killed in Basrah and twelve in Kufah. Those killed in Kufah were:
Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and his two sons
Muhammad ibn Kathir and his son
Hani’ ibn ‘Urwah
‘Abd al-A’la ibn Yazid
‘Abbas ibn Ja’dah
‘Abd Allah ibn Harith
‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Afif
‘Abd Allah ibn Yuqtur
Qays ibn Mushir
The remaining two hundred and seventeen were martyred at Karbala’. (
Fursan al-Hayjan).

Sayyid Muhsin Amin has counted one hundred and thirty-nine martyrs. These were:
Ten of the sons of the Commander of the Faithful
Four of the sons of al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali
Three of the sons of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali
Three of the sons of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja’far
Nine of the sons of ‘Aqil ibn Abi Talib
Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Hashimi, whose lineage within the Hashimites is unclear.
According to this the Hashimites were thirty in number.

The non-Hashimites that were killed in Karbala’ were a hundred and six men while three were killed in Kufah: Hani’ ibn ‘Urwah, ‘Abd Allah ibn Yuqtur and Qays ibn Mushir.
A’yan al-Shi’ah).


After Hurr joined Imam al-Husayn, he was followed by his son ‘Ali and brother Mushab. Mushab had abandoned the enemy and joined the Imam after hearing Hurr’s address to the enemy. Hurr took both his son and his brother to the Imam. Both repented at the hands of the Imam and went into battle and were killed.
Nawasikh al-Tawarikh).

According to another report, Hurr had another son called Bukayr. He had also followed Hurr and joined Imam al-Husayn. Before going into battle, Bukayr went to the Imam and kissed his hands and feet. Then he bade him farewell. As Bukayr drew near the ranks of the enemy, Hurr called out to him, “My son! Aid the one who has purged us from the wicked tyrants (meaning al-Husayn).” Bukayr fought the enemy fiercely. After killing many of them, he returned to his father saying, “O father! Is there any way for me to have a drink of water?” Hurr replied, “O my son! Return to the battle and persevere for a while longer.” Bukayr returned to the battle and was killed. When Hurr arrived at the torn body of his son, he prayed, “Praise be to Allah Who has bestowed martyrdom upon you in the presence of the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.”

Among the things that Hurr said to the Imam was the following, “O son of the Messenger! I was the first person to intercept you on your journey. Now I want to be the first to go into battle against your enemies so that I may receive the intercession of the Prophet on the Day of Judgement.” The Imam permitted Hurr to do that. As Hurr advanced into battle, he recited the following verses:
I am Hurr, whose house is a sanctuary for visitors
and renowned for its hospitality.
These (i.e. al-Husayn and his family) are the dearest guests of Allah among those in Mecca and Mina.
I will not restrain my sword from anyone in defending these beloved creatures of Allah.
I am Hurr, who has grown up in the Household of freedom (
hurr) and have inherited bravery and freedom from my ancestors.

Hurr attacked forcefully and killed many of the enemy until his horse was lamed. He dismounted and continued to fight on foot. After killing about forty men, he was attacked by a great number of the enemy. Hurr fell to the ground. The companions of the Imam carried Hurr’s body to the Imam while there still remained a trace of life in him. The Imam cleaned the blood from Hurr’s face and said, “You are Hurr (free man) as your mother has named you. You are a free man in this world and the Hereafter.”
Nawasikh al-Tawarikh).

According to another report the Imam uttered these words as he rushed into the battlefield to Hurr’s body when he fell.
Al-Amali by al-Shaykh al-Saduq).

Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn reported that a companion of the Imam lamented Hurr’s death by reciting:

The best Hurr (free man) is Hurr from the tribe of Riyah, steadfast in the midst of the striking spears.
He is the best Hurr (free man) as he gave his life for al-Husayn, and succeeded with guidance and salvation.
He is the best of Hurr (free men) in answering the call of
al-Husayn, and sacrificing his life in the battlefield.
O Lord! Receive him in the folds of your Paradise and marry him to the pretty brides of your Heaven.

It is also reported that the Imam tied his handkerchief over Hurr’s forehead to stop the bleeding from the mortal wound he had received in the battle. Hurr was later buried with this handkerchief tied over his forehead.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn).


On 13th Muharram Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn miraculously appeared in the battlefield to bury the bodies of the martyrs with the help of the Banu Asad. He took a group of the Banu Asad to Hurr’s body. As he looked at it, he said,” As for you, indeed Allah has accepted your repentance and has increased your happiness through your sacrifice for the sake of the son of the Messenger of Allah.” Then, with the help of Banu Asad he buried his body.
Maqtal al-Husayn).

It is also reported that the members of his clan removed Hurr’s body from the battlefield in order to prevent it from being mutilated by the hooves of the horses.

Hurr had a servant named Qurrah. After the martyrdom of Hurr, Qurrah came to the Imam and repented. Then fought against the Imam’s enemies until he was killed.
Nawasikh al-Tawarikh).


‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali was to be killed late on the day of ‘Ashura’ and this will be described later. Earlier in the day he was patrolling the tents in order to prevent the enemy from attacking them. At this time Zuhayr ibn Qayn approached ‘Abbas and said, “I have come to you at this moment in order to remind you of your father’s bequest to you.” ‘Abbas who feared an imminent threat of attack from the enemy did not descend from his mount. He said, “This is no time for talk. But since you have uttered the name of my father, I cannot refuse. Speak and I will listen whilst on my horse.” Zuhayr replied, “When your father intended to marry your mother, he told his brother  ‘Aqil to find him a brave woman from a brave family to give him a gallant son who would defend al-Husayn. O ‘Abbas! Your father sought you for such a day as this. Do not fall short in your defence of al-Husayn.”

The sense of honour of ‘Abbas was outraged at this. He thrust his feet into the stirrups breaking them and replied angrily, “O Zuhayr! Do you wish to incite me by this talk? By Allah! I will never abandon my brother or fall short in defending the family of the Messenger. I will show you some thing you have never seen before.”

Then he mounted an attack against the enemy killing a great number of them. Among the enemy who fought with him in single combat was a renowned swordsman named Marid ibn Sudayf Taghlabi. ‘Abbas pulled the spear out of the hands of Marid. As he was about to attack Marid, he exclaimed, “O Marid! I am convinced that I will drive you to the pits of Hell with your own spear.”

Then ‘Abbas thrust the spear into the horse causing it to fall. Marid jumped to the ground. In the meantime a group of the enemy rushed to rescue him. Even as they were attacking ‘Abbas,  ‘Abbas managed to thrust the spear at Marid’s neck cutting off his head from the ears while at the same time warding of the attacks of Marid’s companions.
Kibrit al-Ahmar)


Before going into the battle, each of the companions of the Imam would come to the Imam and bid him farewell. Each would say, “Peace be with you O son of the Messenger of Allah!” The Imam would reply, “Peace be with you too! Indeed we are soon to follow you.” He would also recite the following verse, “Among the believers are men who have been true to the promise they made with Allah. Among them are those who have given their lives and there are those who await [death], and none have forsaken their promises.” (Ahzab: 23). The Imam would also recite this verse over the bodies of companions as they called out to him before their final departure.

Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah was the same age as the Imam and was from the tribe of the Banu Asad, the tribe of Habib ibn Muzahir. He had secretly escaped from Kufah with Habib ibn Muzahir and had joined the Imam.

Now Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah went to the Imam, bade him farewell and went to battle. After a gallant struggle Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah was struck down by a group of the enemy. As he fell to the ground, he called out to the Imam. The Imam together with Habib ibn Muzahir rushed to him. While there was still some life left in Muslim, the Imam sat next to him and said, “May Allah have mercy on you, O Muslim!” Then he recited: “Among them are those who have given their lives and there are those who await [death], and none have forsaken their promises.”

Habib sat next to the blood soaked body of Muslim and said, “It unbearable for me to see your blood soaked body. Receive the glad tidings of Paradise.” In a weak voice, Muslim replied,  “May Allah bless you with Paradise.” Habib sorrowfully said to Muslim, “Were I not aware that soon I am to follow you, I would have wished to hear your final will and testament.” Pointing his finger at the Imam, Muslim replied, “I make my bequest that you protect this man.” Habib said, “By the Lord of Ka’bah! I will do so.” At that moment Muslim breathed his last. He had a maid who lamented his death crying out, “O Muslim! O Master! O Son of ‘Awsajah!”

The companions of ‘Amr ibn Hajjaj jubilantly claimed that they had killed Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah. Shabath ibn Rib’i, an officer of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d’s army, rebuked them saying, “You rejoice at killing such a man! How great a man he was! I saw him in Azerbaijan before the Muslim armies arrived. He had killed six men of the polytheists.”
Al-Tarikh by Tabari).


On the day of ‘Ashura’ as the battle was being fiercely fought between the thirsty handful of supporters of al-Husayn and the mighty army of Ibn Sa’d, Abu Thumamah ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Allah Saydawi, a loyal supporter of the Imam, realized that it was the time for the noon prayer. He came to the Imam and said, “Even though I know that the enemy will not allow us respite to offer the prayers and though I swear by Allah that I will not allow you to be killed before me yet I desire to meet with Allah having offered this prayer with you.” The blessed Imam looked up at the sky and said, “May Allah raise you with those who have established the prayers! Ask the enemy to allow us time to offer the prayer.”

Habib ibn Muzahir conveyed the Imam’s request to the enemy. Whereupon Husayn ibn Numayr, one of the commanders of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d’s army, cried out, “O al-Husayn! Pray as many prayers as you want. They will not be accepted!” Habib retorted, “O most wretched of creatures! Will your prayers be accepted if the prayers of the son of the Messenger are not?”  Husayn ibn Numayr incensed at Habib’s comment mounted an attack against him forcing him to engage in battle. Habib ibn Muzahir fought a fierce battle and was killed. According to this, Habib attained martyrdom before offering the noon prayers.
Fursan al-Hayjan).

According to another report, before his final departure, Habib ibn Muzahir came to the Imam and said, “O Master, I swear by Allah I prefer to offer my prayers in Heaven and to convey your salutations to your grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, to your father ‘Ali and your brother al-Hasan.” Then Habib went into the battle reciting the following verses:

I swear had we been equal to you in number or half of you, you would have turned your backs to us in flight.
O most wicked of creatures in lineage and in deeds, you have behaved oppressively!

Habib fought a gallant battle killing sixty-two men until one of the soldiers surrounding him struck Habib’s head with his sword while another embedded his spear into Habib’s chest. Habib ibn Muzahir, unable to stay on his mount fell to the ground. As he tried to stand, Husayn ibn Numayr once again struck his head with his sword. With this the life-long companion of Imam al-Husayn parted from him.

The death of Habib caused such grief, sorrow and distress on the face of the beloved Imam as had not been seen before on that day. The Imam went to Habib’s torn body and rested Habib’s head in his lap. Tearfully he said, “How excellent a man you were, O Habib! Indeed you would recite the whole of the Qur’an in a single night.”
(Maqtal al-Husayn by Abu Mikhnaf).

THE FINAL PRAYER OF THE IMAM (peace be with him)

According to another report at noon of the day of ‘Ashura’, Abu Thumamah Saydawi, realising that the sun had moved past its zenith. He went to the Imam and said, “Before giving my life for you I wish to offer the afternoon prayers with you.”

The Imam raised his head and glanced into the sky and said, “May Allah raise you with those who (have kept up) established prayers for reminding me. Go to the enemy and ask them to allow us a respite for prayers.”
When the enemy was asked to cease fighting in order for the Imam to offer his noon prayers Husayn ibn Numayr shouted, “Pray as much as you want, they will not be accepted!”
To this Habib ibn Muzahir retorted, “O drunkard, will they be accepted from you and not from the son of the Messenger?”
The Imam with a group of his most faithful companions offered the prayer for those in fear (salat al-khawf) while Zuhayr ibn Qayn and Sa’id ibn ‘Abd Allah stood in front of him, using their chests for shields, to block the arrows intended for the Imam.
The number of arrows that struck Sa’id caused him to fall to the ground. He turned to the Imam and said, “Have I been loyal to my commitment to you?”
The Imam replied,
“Yes, you will precede me into Paradise.”
Sa’id breathed his last and left for the eternal gardens. There were thirteen arrows in his body.
(Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram)


From the time that he joined the Imam, Zuhayr’s loyalty and commitment to the Imam has been mentioned on several occasions. It has already been mentioned that on the eve of ‘Ashura’ when asked of his commitment, Zuhayr had replied with such words as, “O master! If I were to be killed and torn apart a thousand times and then brought to life again, I would not abandon you.”

Now, on the Day of ‘Ashura’ itself, Zuhayr came to the Imam, placed his hand on the Imam’s shoulder and sought permission to go into battle. After the Imam granted him permission, Zuhayr entered the battle like a raging lion. He announced himself with the following verses:

I am Zuhayr and I am the son of Qayn.
I will drive you away from the family of al-Husayn with my sword

He killed a hundred and twenty men in all from the enemy. Two people of the enemy attacked him at the same time and killed him. When he fell to the ground, the Imam rushed to him. He looked down on him and said, “O Zuhayr! May Allah reserve a place for you close to Him and may He curse your killers.”
Al-Tarikh by Tabari)

As mentioned earlier, one of the people from his tribe that Habib ibn Muzahir urged to join Imam al-Husayn was Anas ibn Harith Kahili. Anas ibn Harith was one of the companions of the Prophet and had taken part in the battles of Badr and Hunayn. In Karbala’ he was so old that his eyebrows had turned white and were dropping onto his eyes.

Anas came to the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’ and sought permission to fight against his enemies. Anas then tied his turban around his waist to straighten it and tied a handkerchief around his forehead to raise his eyebrows. As Anas prepared himself for the battle, he recited poetry of love and devotion to the Imam. When the Imam heard Anas and saw his enthusiasm, he was so moved that he began to weep. The Imam prayed with tears rolling down his cheeks, “May Allah accept your efforts, O aged man!”

Anas fought bravely and despite his old age managed to kill eighteen of the enemy. Finally due to countless wounds, weakness, old age and thirst, Anas was overpowered by the enemy and killed.


Junadah ibn Harith Ansari was an inhabitant of Medina. He had accompanied the Imam from the Hijaz. After receiving permission from the Imam, he entered into battle reciting:

I am Junadah and I am the son of Harith. I am not one of those who are afraid or those who break their oath of allegiance.

He fought against the enemy until he was killed.

Junadah had come to Karbala’ with his son ‘Umar who was twenty-one years of age and with his wife, the mother of his son ‘Umar. After the martyrdom of Junadah, his wife sent their son ‘Umar into battle. When the Imam saw ‘Umar entering into battle, he called out to him to retreat fearing lest his mother be deprived of a guardian. ‘Umar pleaded with the Imam and explained that it was his mother who had sent him to fight and told him to defend the house of the Prophet. Then ‘Umar entered into the battle field chanting:

My master is al-Husayn and the best of masters is he, the joy of my heart, the giver of glad tidings and a warner.
‘Ali and Fatimah are his parents. Do you know of anyone who is his equal?

‘Umar fought until he was killed. The enemy severed his head from his body and flung it towards the army of the Imam. ‘Umar’s mother took hold of her son’s head and lamented, “Well done, my son! O joy of my heart! O apple of my eye!” Then she threw her son’s head back to the enemy and then arming herself a tent-pole she ran toward the enemy shouting:

I am a woman advanced in age, weak and devastated, worn out and fragile.
I will deal you a severe blow in the way of Fatimah, the noble.

She killed two people before the Imam made her return to the tents.
Maqtal al-Husayn).


As mentioned earlier Wahb his mother Qamar and wife Haniyah were three people who lived in the desert of Tha’labiyyah. They joined the Imam at Karbala’ and accepted Islam in his presence. On the Day of ‘Ashura’ Qamar went to Wahb and said, “O son! Rise and give your life for the son of the daughter of the Prophet. You will not gain my blessings nor the intercession of the Prophet without sacrificing your life for al-Husayn.” Wahb replied, “O mother! Indeed I will do so and I will not fail the Imam.” At this Qamar shed tears of joy eagerly spurring her son to battle as if releasing a caged bird to its freedom.

Due to the fear of destitution and also because of her recent marriage to Wahb, Haniyah did not agree with his resolve to do battle with the enemies of the Imam. On the other hand, Qamar insisted that he rode to the battle without delay. Finally Haniyah asked Wahb to take her to the Imam.

Haniyah was brought before the Imam. She said to the Imam, “I have two requests to ask of you. The first is that when Wahb gets killed and I will be left without a guardian and I ask you to keep me with the members of your own family. The second is that when Wahb is killed and raised with the brides of the Heavens, he should not forget me.” Haniyah’s words so moved the Imam that tears flowed from his eyes. He comforted her and gave her his word that her wishes would be granted.

Wahb fearlessly entered into battle reciting the war poetry. He fought gallantly and after killing a number of the enemy, he returned to his mother. He asked her, “O mother! Are you pleased with me?” She replied, “O child! I will not be pleased until you are killed in the way of al-Husayn.” He once again returned to the battle and killed nineteen horsemen and twenty foot soldiers. Then Wahb was attacked from all sides. Both his hands were severely wounded so that they were almost cut off. As Wahb fell from his mount, Haniyah, with a tent-pole in her hand, rushed to the side of her husband. She cried out, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you! Fight with the enemy!” Wahb tried to grab Haniyah’s garment and send her back to the tents. The Imam saw this and said to Haniyah, “May Allah grant you the best of rewards on our behalf of us! Return to the tents!” Haniyah returned to the tents Wahb once again resumed the battle. He was captured by the enemy and brought to ‘Umar ibn Sa’d. Wahb, with his hands cut from his body, stood in front of ‘Umar. ‘Umar praised his firmness in battle. Then he ordered his men to behead Wahb and throw his head towards the army of Imam al-Husayn.  Wahb’s mother Qamar took his severed head in her lap and cleaned away the blood from it as she said, “Praise be to Allah who has bestowed honour upon me by your martyrdom.” Then she grabbed the head and flung it towards the enemy as if to say that whatever is given in the way of al-Husayn is not taken back. She took a tent-pole in her hand and attacked the enemy killing two of the soldiers. The Imam saw this called onto her, “O mother of Wahb! Return to the tent. Your son is now with the Prophet!” Hearing this Qamar retreated to the tents.

Meanwhile Haniyah, seeing the headless blood soaked body of Wahb, ran to it. She held it in her arms and said, “Receive the glad tidings of Paradise.” As Haniyah wailed in lamentation over the body of Wahb, Shimr Dhi Jawshan, one of the most heartless commanders of the enemy, ordered his servant named Rustam to kill Haniyah. Rustam struck Haniyah on the head with a spear killing her.

Haniyah was the first and only woman to be martyred defending the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’. At his martyrdom Wahb had been a Muslim for ten days and was twenty-five years of age. Seventy wounds were inflicted on the mutilated body of Wahb by swords, spears and arrows.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)


Juwayn was a freed slave of Abu Dharr who remained as steadfast as Abu Dharr in his service to the Household of the Prophet. He served Imam ‘Ali, then Imam al-Hasan and then Imam al-Husayn. Juwayn came to Karbala’ with the Imam and stayed there with him.

On the Day of ‘Ashura’ he came to the Imam and sought permission to go and fight against his enemies. The Imam said to him, “You are a free man. Save your life and go wherever you desire.” Juwayn’s eyes filled with tears as he fell at the Imam’s feet. He pleaded, “Master! Will I be your companion in your time of ease and abandon you in hardship?” Then he continued, “Is it my colour or my smell or is it that my descent is not Arab? No, by Allah! I will not leave you until my blood mixes with yours.”

Al-Husayn tearfully let him go into battle. As he entered the battlefield, he removed his coat of mail and then tore his upper garments to the amazement of the enemy. They called out to him, “O man! Have you lost your sanity?” He replied, “By Allah! The passion for al-Husayn has made me oblivious to everything else.” Then he called to them to come and take him with their swords.
Juwayn fought like a champion swordsman and killed twenty-five of

the enemy before being martyred. The Imam rushed to the torn body of his devotee and prayed, “O Allah! Whiten his face. Make his odour fragrant. Raise him with the best of your creatures and acquaint him with the descendents of Muhammad.” The supplication of the Imam was granted immediately and a sweet fragrance began to emanate from Juwayn’s blood-soaked body.
Maqtal al-‘Awalim).

Imam Baqir reports from his father Imam Sajjad: Except for Juwayn’s, the bodies of all the martyrs were buried by Banu Asad. That was found ten days after the burial of the rest and had the sweetest of fragrances emanating from it. May Allah’s pleasure be with him!
Bihar al-Anwar).


Hajjaj ibn Masruq was the
mu’adhdhin of the Imam (i.e. the one who made the call for prayers). He went into battle after Unays. After fighting for a while, he returned to the Imam and recited:

Today will I meet your grandfather the Prophet, then your father the magnanimous,
The one that we recognise as the successor to the Prophet.

Hajjaj resumed the battle and fought until he was killed.


Hafhaf ibn Muhammad was among the renowned warriors and staunch members of the Shi’ah of Basrah. He was a loyal companion of Imam ‘Ali and had taken part in the battles fought in the time of the first Imam. In the battle of Siffin the Imam had made Hafhaf the standard bearer of Azd, a tribe that lived in Basrah. He had served the first Imam, then Imam al-Hasan and after the latter’s martyrdom, he joined Imam al-Husayn.

Hafhaf lived in Basrah. When he heard of the Imam departure from Mecca to Kufah, he set off for Kufah. However, he did not reach Karbala’ until the day after ‘Ashura’ when the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn had already taken place. He went to the army of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d and asked, “Where is al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali?” They asked him, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am Hafhaf Basri. I have come to help al-Husayn. I have heard that he was compelled to come to Karbala’ alone and a stranger.” They told him, “We have killed al-Husayn and all who were with him. No one remains from them except the women, children and al-Husayn’s ailing son. Can you not see his looted tents?”

When Hafhaf learned of the killing of al-Husayn and the plundering of his tents, he took hold of his sword and attacked the enemy. The army scattered in all directions. Whoever came close to him was either killed or wounded. Hafhaf fought like a raging lion until, on the orders of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, he was surrounded.

Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn reported: On that day the Kufans had not seen such a gallant swordsman as Hafhaf except for the Household of the Prophet. Fifteen renowned warriors among the enemy surrounded him and killed him. May Allah’s mercy be with him!
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn).


Suwayd was an old man who fought for the Imam on the Day of ‘Ashura’. However, due to the excessive wounds he had received from the blows of the swords and spears, he fell from his mount unconscious. The enemy presumed him dead and thus did not strike him after he fell to the ground. He regained consciousness and understood that the Imam had been killed. He charged at the enemy with a knife in his hand and fought them until he was killed. According to this he was the final martyr of Karbala’.
(Maqtal al-Husayn).

With this end the brief accounts of the martyrdoms of some of the non-Hashimite companions of the Imam on the day of ‘Ashura’









Habib ibn Muzahir, a white bearded notable of the Shi’ah of Kufah, was among the Kufans who had written to the Imam inviting him to Kufah to lead the people against Yazid. He stayed a loyal devotee of the Imam until his death.

When the Imam was on his way to Iraq and heard of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil’s martyrdom and the treachery of the Kufans, he ordered a group of his followers to take up the standards. A single standard remained. When asked by a companion about who was the bearer of that standard, the Imam replied that the bearer of the standard would eventually arrive.

The Imam then wrote to Habib. The letter read: “From al-Husayn the son of ‘Ali to Habib ibn Muzahir, a scholar and jurist. O Habib! You are aware of my relation to the Messenger of Allah and know me better than others. You are a man of integrity and a free man. Don’t hold yourself back from coming to my assistance. May the Messenger of Allah reward you on the Day of Judgement!”

The letter was secretly smuggled into Kufah and conveyed to Habib. Habib was thinking about how to evade the checkpoints set up around Kufah in order to get himself to Karbala’. He went to Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah. Muslim, as has already been mentioned, was from the same tribe as Habib and of the same age, had bought henna to colour his beard with. Habib said to him, “Are you not aware that our master al-Husayn has arrived in Karbala’ and has been surrounded by the enemy. Hurry so that we get to him before it is too late.” Muslim threw away the henna and said that he would colour his beard with his blood by helping the Imam. That night both men secretly escaped from Kufah and went to the Imam.
Fursan al-Hayjan).

According to another report the Imam kept a standard aside. When he was asked about who was to be its bearer, the Imam answered, “The one who will hold it is on his way.” At that moment a cloud of dust was seen in the distance rising from the ground from the hooves of a galloping horse. Seeing this the Imam smiled still holding with the standard in his hand. He said, “The bearer of this standard is the man who rides towards us.” As the rider approached, they saw that he was Habib ibn Muzahir. Habib dismounted and offered his salutations. Then tearfully looking at the Imam, he recited:

Even though I have become old and unable, whenever I look at you, youth begins to flow in my veins once again.”

On hearing the cries of joy coming from the companions, Lady Zaynab enquired, “Who is that?” She was told. “It is Habib ibn Muzahir.” She said, “Offer him my salutations.” When her salutations were offered to Habib, he was shaken with the grief and the sorrow at her impending loss. Habib wept and struck his face with his hands as he lamented, “Ah! The sorrow of loss! Who is Habib for the Lady Zaynab to offer him her salutation?”

It is said that this incident took place before the Imam’s arrival at Karbala’.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn).

One of the outstanding roles played by Habib in the whole of the event of the uprising of the Imam was that he tirelessly sought to mobilise people to support the Imam. He was the most active supporter of the Imam in Kufah in urging the people to pay the oath of allegiance to Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. Habib also sent some of his family and some of the members of his tribe to the aid of the Imam. These were all killed on the Day of ‘Ashura’. Some of the people that Habib ibn Muzahir had sent were:
1. His brother, ‘Ali ibn Muzahir
2. His cousin, Rabi’ah ibn Khawt
3. Sulayman ibn Rabi’ah Asadi
4. Anas ibn Harith
5. Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah
6. ‘Umar ibn Khalid Asadi
7. Sa’d, a freed servant of ‘Umar ibn Khalid
8. Mawqa’ ibn Thumamah
9. Anas ibn Kahil Asadi
10. Habib ibn Muzahir’s servant

When Ibn Ziyad was informed of the Imam’s position at Karbala’, he wrote a letter to the Imam asking him for the pledge of allegiance to Yazid and threatening him with death if he abstained from pledging allegiance. The Imam read the letter and threw it aside. He told Ibn Ziyad’s messenger that to such a demand there was no reply.

When this reply was conveyed by his messenger to Ibn Ziyad, he was incensed at it. He called for ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, who greedily thirsted for the office of governor of the land of Rayy. He ordered him, “Go and put an end to the endeavours of al-Husayn and then you can claim the governorship of Rayy for the next ten years!” ‘Umar asked for a day’s respite to consider the offer and this was granted.

‘Umar consulted his friends and family about this matter and they all discouraged him. Hamzah ibn Mughirah ‘Umar’s nephew from his sister’s side said to him, “O uncle! I beseech you for the sake of Allah not to advance against al-Husayn. Remember you have a family bond with him. By Allah! Even if the wealth of the whole world were given to you, it would not be worth having a share in the killing al-Husayn. ‘Umar agreed saying,
“What you say is true. I will not do such thing.”

In the night ‘Umar was preoccupied as he thought, “Should I not go against al-Husayn and forgo the governorship of Rayy or should I be party to the killing of al-Husayn and attain Rayy.” That night ‘Umar was heard reciting the following verses:

By Allah! I do not know. I stand in confusion,
Standing at two perilous paths, faced with choosing one.
Should I abandon Rayy while Rayy is the joy of my heart?
Or kill al-Husayn and return with the burdens of sin?
Al-Husayn is the son of my uncle and the calamities are plentiful.
By my soul! Rayy is the apple of my eye

The greed of the worldly power prevailed in his mind. After having determined to stain his hand with the blood of Imam al-Husayn, he concluded his poem by the verses:
They say Allah is the Creator of Paradise and the Fire,
The chastisement and the yoking of hands
If they are right in what they say, then I will repent for my sin
To the Merciful God, for two years after killing al-Husayn.
And if they are false in what they say, then I will succeed
With a grand domain and a grand kingdom fashioned like brides

In the morning ‘Umar went to Ibn Ziyad and informed him of his acceptance of the offer to fight against the Imam. ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, with an army of four to six thousand, reached Karbala’ on 3rd or 4th Muharram.
(Maqtal al-Husayn by Abu Mikhnaf).


‘Umar arrived at Karbala’ with his army. Immediately he imposed all sorts of hardships upon the camp of the Imam, even preventing them from having access to the Euphrates for water.

Burayr ibn Hudayr, a companion of the Imam, sought permission to go and speak with ‘Umar regarding the blockade of water. On being granted permission Burayr walked straight to ‘Umar’s tent and sat down in front of him without offering salutations. ‘Umar was infuriated at this audacity and said, “Am I not a Muslim and yet you did not salute me?” Burayr replied, “If you had been a Muslim, you would not have raised your sword against the family of the Prophet and resolved kill al-Husayn and imprison his family. Even the wild pigs and dogs consume the water of the Euphrates. Yet you prevent the son of Fatimah and his family from having access to it and watch them dying from thirst. What right do you have after this to assume that you are a Muslim?” ‘Umar lowered his head and paused for thought. Then raising his head, he said “O Burayr! I have certainty that he who fights against al-Husayn and his family and is responsible for their deaths will be thrown into the pits of Hell. But how can I abandon the governorship of Rayy? Should I leave Rayy for others to take? By God! My heart will not accept that!”

Burayr returned to the Imam and informed him of what had transpired. On hearing that, the Imam said, “He will not attain the land of Rayy. Most surely he will be assassinated in his own bed.”
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)


In order to overcome the excuses of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d with the argument of Allah, the Imam sent a message inviting him to talk over the situation. ‘Umar accepted the invitation and a meeting took place between the two parties. At that meeting both the Imam and ‘Umar attended, each accompanied by twenty men. Before the talks began, the Imam asked all his companions except his brother ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali and his son ‘Ali al-Akbar to leave. ‘Umar also ordered all his men to leave except Hafs his son and his servant.

The Imam addressed ‘Umar, “May sorrow be your lot! O son of Sa’d! Do you not fear Allah, to Whom we will all return? Will you go to war against us? You know me well. I am the son of the Prophet, of Fatimah and ‘Ali. O son of Sa’d! Leave the camp of Yazid and join us.” ‘Umar replied, “I fear that they will destroy my house.” Al-Husayn answered, “If they destroy your house, I will rebuild it.” ‘Umar pleaded, “They will confiscate my farm.” At this al-Husayn said, “Then I will give you a river at Baghibagha that Mu’awiyah tried to purchase with a thousand dirhams.” Then ‘Umar made the excuse, “I have a family and fear for their safety.” At this the Imam remained silent and he did not reply. But as he left the gathering, he said, “May Allah have you killed on your bed! May He not forgive on the Day of Resurrection! May you not enjoy even a handful of the wheat of Rayy!” ‘Umar mockingly replied, “I will suffice myself with barley.”

Such was the attitude of ‘Umar that although he feared for the safety of his family, he had no concern for the difficulties of the family of the Prophet and of Lady Fatimah. Humayd ibn Muslim reported: I was a friend of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d. After the events of Karbala’, I went to ‘Umar and asked him how he was. He said, “There is no one more wretched than I who return home bearing the burden of great sin, having severed my family ties and killed the son of the Prophet.” – ‘Umar was related to the Imam through his father Sa’d, who was a descendant of ‘Abd Manaf, the father of the Prophet’s great grandfather.
Ma’ali al-Sibtayn)



On 7th Muharram ‘Amr ibn Hajjaj with a troop of five hundred horsemen was guarding the banks of the Euphrates to prevent the Imam and his companions from getting water.

In the meantime ‘Umar ibn Sa’d was hopeful of resolving the situation peacefully. He had written a lying letter to Ibn Ziyad that stated: “Al-Husayn is willing to follow one of three courses: to return to Medina; or to go to one of the border-posts of the Islamic empire; or to meet Yazid and come to some sort of compromise with him. Since this is the issue, the problem is solved and it also will be forl the good of the Ummah.”

This was something falsely attributed to the Imam by ‘Umar ibn Sa’d. This is evident from the words that the Imam often said, “The illegitimate son of an illegitimate father has left me with two alternatives: death or humiliation. May humiliation be something far away from us! Allah does not allow us this, nor does the Prophet, nor do the believers.”

When the letter of ‘Umar ibn Sa’d reached Ibn Ziyad, he praised ‘Umar saying, “This is a letter of one who has the interests of his people at heart.” Ibn Ziyad was intending to respond positively to the letter. However, Shimr ibn Dhi Jawshan deterred him. The latter said, “Will you accept this from Ibn Sa’d after al-Husayn has invaded your land and refused to pledge allegiance to you?” As a result of Shimr’s statement Ibn Ziyad changed his view and wrote the following reply to ‘Umar: “I did not send you to Karbala’ to negotiate a truce or a compromise and to delay the matters unnecessarily. If al-Husayn accepts my conditions of giving the pledge of allegiance to me, send him to me as a captive. Otherwise harass him and engage him in battle. After he has been killed, have his body trampled beneath the hoofs of the horses. If you abide by my instructions, you will be worthy of being a governor. Otherwise hand over the reins of authority to Shimr.” This letter was given to Shimr and he was dispatched with an army of four thousand men to Karbala’.

On his arrival at Karbala’, Shimr handed over the letter to ‘Umar. After he had read it, Shimr said to him, “What have you decided? Will you implement the orders of the governor or will I take over the command of the army in order to execute his orders?” ‘Umar replied, “I will never give over the command of the army to you. Such an honour is reserved for me. You will charge of the foot soldiers.”
Al-Tarikh by Tabari)


Another loyal action by Habib ibn Muzahir on behalf of the Imam was that on 7th or 8th Muharram when they were at Karbala’, he
sought permission from the Imam to go to a neighbouring village and invite the people of his tribe, the Banu Asad, to help the Imam. After being given permission, Habib approached the Banu Asad and explained the situation to them. He said, “If your desire the happiness of this world and the Hereafter, come to the aid of al-Husayn. By Allah! The one who is killed defending him will be placed in the loftiest ranks of Paradise and will acquire a place next to the Messenger of Allah.”

‘Abd Allah ibn Bashshar reported: I was the first from Banu Asad to volunteer. I recited poetry in the praise of aiding al-Husayn. As a result ninety other men stood up and declared their willingness to go to the aid of al-Husayn.

The report of this incident was somehow relayed to ‘Umar ibn Sa’d by one of his spies. Ibn Sa’d then sent four hundred men under the command of Azraq to suppress them and prevent them from reaching the Imam. Azraq intercepted the men of Banu Asad on the banks of the Euphrates and a battle broke out between them.

Habib called out to Azraq, “O Azraq! It is not right for us to fight each other. Let someone else take charge of your army and earn the curse of Allah.” Azraq paid no attention to Habib’s request and the fighting continued. The Banu Asad were unable to offer much resistance due to their meagre numbers. As a result some were killed while others saved their lives by fleeing to safety. Habib ibn Muzahir managed to return to the Imam and informed him of what had happened. The Imam said, “There is no strength or might save through Allah, the Grand, the Mighty.”
(Maqtal Khwarizmi)

On the evening of 9th Muharram ‘Umar gave the following instructions to his army, “O soldiers of Allah! Get on your mounts and receive the good tidings of Paradise. Surround the tents of al-Husayn and close in upon them.”

At the same time the Imam was leaning against his spear outside his tent when he momentarily fell asleep. The Imam saw the Prophet saying to him, “O Husayn! The enemy is drawing closer to us!” The Imam immediately awoke and called for his brother ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. He told him to go out to the enemy and ask them the reason for advancing towards them.

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali with Zuhayr ibn Qayn, Habib ibn Muzahir and eighteen other companions rode out to the enemy to ask them their motives for advancing towards the tents of the Imam. They replied that they had been ordered either to get al-Husayn to comply with the demands of Ibn Ziyad or to go into battle. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali returned to the Imam to inform him of the reply while Habib and Zuhayr stood with the enemy admonishing them

During the course of the discussion, Habib ibn Muzahir realized how obstinate their attitudes were and he said, “By Allah! You are evil people. You are the people who on the Day of Resurrection will be raised as the murderers of the Household of the Prophet. You will be known as the killers of these righteous servants of Allah.” A man by the name of ‘Azrah responded by saying, “O Habib! Have you cleansed yourself of blemish and taught yourself high morals?” To this Zuhayr replied, “Allah has purified and guided Habib. O man! Fear the wrath of Allah and acquire piety. I admonish you not to side with falsehood against the truth.”

Meanwhile at the camp of the Imam, the Imam looked at ‘Abbas and said, “May my soul be sacrificed for you! O ‘Abbas! Go to them and ask for a day’s respite for us to worship Allah and make supplications to Him, for He knows how al-Husayn longs to worship Him, recite His Book and engage in secret discourse with Him.”

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali returned to the enemy and conveyed the request of the Imam to them. The message was taken to Ibn Sa’d who sought the views of his officers. Some of the officers were of the opinion that the battle should be initiated without delay while others such as ‘Amr ibn Hajjaj insisted that a respite should be given saying, “Glory be to Allah! If such a demand had been made by the disbeliveers of Daylam, you would have granted it to them.” It was eventually decided to grant the Imam a night’s respite and a message was conveyed to him that either he should surrender by the morning or he should prepare for battle.
(Nafs al-Mahmum).

On that same day of 9th Muharram, Shimr came close the camp of the Imam and called out, “Where are the sons of my sister?” ‘Abbas, Ja’far, ‘Uthman and ‘Abd Allah, the sons of Imam ‘Ali and Umm al-Banin, came forward and asked Shimr what he wanted. He shouted, “O sons of my sister! I grant you safe-conduct.” The brothers of the Imam shouted back, “May Allah curse you and your safe-conduct! Do you offer us safe-conduct while the son of the Prophet has no refuge?”
(Kitab al-Irshad).

According to another report when the offer of safe-conduct was made to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, he replied, “May your hands wither away! O enemy of Allah! Are you asking us to abandon our master, the son of Fatimah, and join the cursed sons of the cursed?”
(Nafs al-Mahmum).

There is yet another report stating that when on the 10th Muharram (the Day of ‘Ashura’), the Imam had mounted his horse and was about to engage in battle, Shimr called out, “O sons of my sister! Do not allow yourselves to be killed with al-Husayn. Come and join us under the standard of the Commander of the Faithful, Yazid.!”

‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali replied, “May you perish! Would we abandon our master and brother to pledge fealty to the cursed and their sons?”
Muthir al-Ahzan).

From this it would appear that Shimr made the offer of safe-conduct on both the 9th and 10th of Muharram but was rejected on each occasion by ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali and his brothers.

Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin reported: As the night of the ninth of Muharram spread its gown over the horizon, Imam al-Husayn summoned his companions. When the male members of the camp had gathered around him he (peace be with him) praised Allah and invoked His blessings upon the Prophet and his progeny. Then he addressed them saying, “Indeed I have not known of anyone’s companions better and more loyal than mine and neither have I known of a family more worthy and virtuous than mine. May Allah grant you all a great reward on my behalf! O people! Know that I have lost hope of these men [of Kufah]. They are thirsty for my blood. Whether you live or die, I will not be spared. O men! Know therefore I relieve you of the obligations in the pledge of allegiance that you have made to me. Take the darkness of this night as a cover and save yourselves.”

At this ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali together with the Imam’s other brothers, sons and nephews gathered around him. They said that life in which there was no al-Husayn was not worth living. When the Imam saw this reaction from the closest members of his clan, the Banu Hashim, he turned to the sons of the brutally martyred Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and said, “O sons of ‘Aqil! The death of Muslim is a sufficient loss for you. I give you permission to spare your lives!” They replied: “Glory be to Allah! Will we abandon our head, our master and our uncle, the like of whom the world has not seen? Will we not fight with swords, spears and arrows to defend you from these wretched people? Nay! We will give up our lives, our children, our women, our wealth and our property for you. We will fight alongside you and go wherever you go. May Allah make life worth living without you!”

From among the non-Hashimites Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah stood up and said, “Should we leave you alone in the hands of those enemies of God? What excuse would we give to Allah for not defending you? We will defend you to the last so that it will be clear that we defended the honour of the Prophet through you. O al-Husayn! Know that tomorrow I will fight your enemies with my spear. When it breaks, I will attack them with my sword for as long as it remains in my hands. When my sword breaks, I will throw stones at them. O al-Husayn! By Allah! If they cut off my hands and kill me and burn me and then revive me seventy times, I will not stop defending you. O al-Husayn! There is but one death and to taste it for you is the greatest honour.”

After Muslim ibn ‘Awsajah, Zuhayr ibn Qayn stood and said, “I swear by Allah, O al-Husayn, that I want no more than to be killed a thousand times over in order to save you and your family from the hands of those godless people.”

Others also stood in turn and spoke words to the same effect. The Imam thanked them one by one and prayed for them.
(Kitab al-Irshad).

How excellent was the youthfulness of men who persevered in patience,
The like of which I have not seen among men.
Those were virtuous noble men like pure milk
Unlike contaminated water turning to urine after drinking
(Nafas al-Mahmum)



There is a report from Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir that after the companions of Imam al-Husayn had displayed their loyalty to him, he said, “By Allah! Receive the glad tidings of Paradise. By Allah! After we have been killed, a time will elapse after which we will be raised once again. That will be the time of the coming of al-Qa’im from among us. He will take revenge on our enemies and we will witness the chastisement being given to them.”

A man asked, “Who is the Qa’im from among you?” The Imam replied, “He will be the seventh offspring from the lineage of Muhammad al-Baqir and he will be al-Hujjah ibn al-Hasan. After a lengthy absence, he will return and will cause peace and justice to prevail in every part of the world just as it was filled with injustice and corruption before him.”
Maqtal al-Husayn al-Muqarram)

It is also reported that the Imam prayed for his companions on that night and showed them their lofty ranks inside the folds of Paradise. Their surety and contentment were increased by what he showed them. Thus the fear of death was removed from their hearts to the extent that they contended with each other to advance to the battlefield in order to attain martyrdom.
Muntaha al-Amal)



Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin reported: I was resting on the eve of ‘Ashura’ as my aunt Zaynab nursed me. We heard my father, al-Husayn, enter into his tent where Juwayn, a retainer of Abu Dharr, was preparing his sword and mending it. At that time my father recited the following verses about the untrustworthy nature of this world

O Time! Shame on you as a friend!
At the day’s dawning and the sun’s setting,
How many a companion or seeker of yours will be a corpse!
Time will not be satisfied with any substitute.
Indeed the matter will rest with the Mighty One,
And every living creature will journey on my path.”

(The final verse has also been reported in the following manner:
Indeed the promise of departure has approached,
And the matter rests with the Mighty One.)

The Imam repeated these verses twice or three times. I heard these verses and realized what he meant. Tears choked me and I pushed them back. I kept silent and knew that tribulation had come upon us. As for my aunt, she heard what I heard. She could not control herself. She jumped up, tearing at her cloths and sighing, as she ran to the Imam crying out, “Then I will lose a brother! If only death would deprive me of life on this day. I only have you, for my mother, my father and my brother have all passed away.”

The Imam said to her as he looked at her with tears filling his eyes, “O sister! Don’t let Satan take away your forbearance. If the sand grouse are left alone at night, they will sleep.” (i.e. Let nature take its course.) Zaynab lamented as she struck at her face and began to tear at her garments, “O my grief! Your life will be violently wrenched from you and that is too wounding to my heart and harsher to my soul.”

The emotional pressure of this incident overcame her and she fainted. The Imam sprinkled water on to her face and consoled her as he said, “O sister! Fear God and take comfort in the consolation of God. Know that the people on the earth will die and the inhabitants of Heaven will live forever. Everything will come to an end except the face of Allah. My grandfather was better than I; my father, mother and brother were all better than I. Yet Allah took them all. Every Muslim and I must follow the ideal model of the Messenger of Allah. O sister! I implore you for the sake of Allah not to tear your garments in sorrow after my death or scratch your face.”

After this my father brought Zaynab to my tent and returned to his companions.
Kitab al-Irshad).


It is reported that the Imam and his companions on the eve of ‘Ashura’ were immersed in prayers and devotions. Some were seen standing, some bowing, some were making prostrations to Allah and others were engaged in reciting the Qur’an and secret prayers. The reverberation of their prayers resembled the humming of the bees. It was these moving sounds of worship coming from the hearts of the

devoted lovers of Allah that managed to turn thirty-two people from the army of Yazid to the side of Imam al-Husayn.
Nafas al-Mahmum).


Late on the night of the eve of ‘Ashura’, the Imam left his tent to inspect the plains of the wilderness where the battle was to be fought on the following day. Nafi’ ibn Hilal saw the Imam and reported: Seeing that the Imam was alone, I followed him in order to defend him in case the enemy attacked him. The Imam realized that I was following him and he turned to me and said, “Why have you come outside?” I replied, “I was fearful that the enemy might attack you from behind.” He told me, “I have come to inspect the high ground and the ditches in these plains in order to acquaint myself with the places where the enemy might wait in ambush when the battle commences tomorrow.”

Then as the Imam and I returned, he took hold of my arm and said, “What has been decreed will come to pass. The promise of Allah cannot be broken.” He went on, “Do you not wish to escape in the shelter of the night and save your life?” At this I fell at his feet and tearfully answered, “May my mother weep at my death if I were to abandon you! Allah has honoured me by allowing me to be with you. I will not leave you until I am cut to pieces for your sake.”

After this the Imam went to his sister’s tent where Zaynab was waiting for him. I heard her say to the Imam, “Have you tested your companions, for I fear that they will abandon you in your hour of need?” The Imam replied, “By Allah! I have tried their loyalties. They are all as eager to die for me as a baby is for the bosom of its mother.”

When I heard this conversation with Zaynab, I wept. Then I went and told Habib Ibn Muzahir about it. Habib said, “By Allah! If it would not be pre-empting the order of the Imam, I would attack the enemy at this very moment.” I said, “I feel it is the women within the tents that are causing such anxiety and concern to lady Zaynab, it is appropriate that we gather the men and console her by speaking of our loyalty to her brother.”

Habib ibn Muzahir gathered the men and explained the situation to them. They were all eager to show their willingness to engage in combat and demonstrate their unshakable resolve to die for al-Husayn. Habib prayed for all of them.

Then we all went to the tent of the women and called out, “O women of the Household of the Messenger of Allah! These are the swords of your defenders that have sworn not to return their swords to their sheaths without cutting off your enemies! These are their spears that they have sworn will not to fall to the ground but are to be driven into the hearts of your adversaries!” At this the women, weeping and wailing, came rushing out of the tents saying, “O pure soldiers! Defend the honour of the daughters and the women of the Household of the Messenger of Allah and the Commander of the faithful.” We all wept and consoled them.
Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram).

On the eve of ‘Ashura’ when the water in the camp of the Imam was finished, he instructed his son ‘Ali Akbar together with thirty-two of his companions to proceed to the Euphrates and bring back some water. They went in extremely dangerous circumstances and brought back the water. When they returned, the Imam told his companions to drink the water and to perform their ablutions. They should also wash their garments, for they would become their shrouds.
Nafs al-Mahmum).

It has also been reported that the Imam sent his brother ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali together with thirty men on horse and twenty on foot to get water. They secretly reached the Euphrates carrying twenty water-skins. As they were filling the water-skins ‘Amr ibn Hajjaj, who was in charge of the soldiers guarding the Euphrates, spotted them. He said, “You may drink as much water as you want but you are not allowed to take any water with you.” ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali and his companions paid no heed to the warning and after filling leather skins headed towards the tents. As they were moving away from the Euphrates, the enemy blocked their path and a battle broke out. Many of the enemy were killed but all in the company of ‘Abbas remained unscathed. The Imam, his family and his companions, all drank from the water brought back by ‘Abbas. It is for this reason that ‘Abbas is known as saqqa’ (the bringer of water).
Kibrit al-Ahmar).


The Imam instructed his companions to draw their tents nearer to his and place them in front of the tents of the women. Then he had a trench dug behind the tents, which was filled with firewood and reed. Then he ordered that to be set alight. This was done to prevent an attack from the rear of the tents.
Kibrit al-Ahmar).

Lady Zaynab reported: It was midnight on the eve of ‘Ashura’ when I went to the tent of my brother ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. I heard a low hum of conversation coming from inside his tent. So I lifted the cloth over the opening of the tent and looked inside. I saw my brother in the middle of the tent crouching on his knees polishing his sword while the rest of the Hashimites were in a circle around him. He called out to them, “O my brothers and cousins! Tomorrow when the battle breaks out, you will be the foremost in giving your lives, lest the people should say that the sons of Hashim preferred their lives above those of the other companions of al-Husayn.” The Hashimites replied, “We will do as you command.” I was overwhelmed by this and could not hold back my tears.
After this I decided to return to my tent. On the way back I heard a similar humming noise coming from the tent of Habib ibn Muzahir. I lifted the cloth over the opening of that tent and looked inside. I found Habib as I had seen ‘Abbas with the companions of al-Husayn in a circle around him. Habib called out to them, “O companions of al-Husayn! Tomorrow when the battle commences, you will be the first to advance in order to give your lives before the Hashimites. They are our leaders and masters.” The companions replied, “We will do as you command.” I was overcome with emotions and was satisfied that my brother would not be abandoned.
Kibrit al-Ahmar).

Nearing the dawn on the eve of ‘Ashura’, the Imam applied perfume to his body that had the fragrance of musk. Burayr ibn Hudayr and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd Rabbih were waiting their turn to perform their ablutions outside the tent. Burayr jested with ‘Abd al-Rahman. The latter told him that it was not a night for joking and playing. Burayr replied, “My people are well aware that I have never been one of those who engage in humour. The joy that you see in me at this moment is due to the knowledge that I will soon be martyred and then wed with heavenly brides and rejoice in Paradise.”
Muthir al-Ahzan).

As the dawn of ‘Ashura’ approached, the Imam slept for a while. Then he awoke and said to those around him, “I have had a dream. A pack of wild dogs were attacking me. Among them was a dog with patches and that was the most savage in attacking me. I fear that my killer from among them is a person afflicted with leprosy. Then I saw the Messenger of Allah with a group of his Companions saying to me, ‘My son! You are the martyr of my Household. The inhabitants of the Heavens and the Lord of the worlds eagerly await you. O son! On this night you will break your fast with me. Don’t delay in coming to me! This angel has been commissioned to gather the blood spilt from your body and to retain it in a green bottle.’ This dream is an indication of my imminent departure to the Eternal Abode.”
Nafs al-Mahmum).


CONTINUE                         CHAPTER 5