The life of Imām
Zayn al ‘Abidin
Bāqir Sharif al-Qarashi
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 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
 Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, pp. 324 – 325.
O community that never respected in our regard
on bare camels of burden have you transported
us as if we never put up a creed for you !
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. He was saying with a weak voice: ‘They are weeping and lamenting over us! So who has killed us?’”
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
Ibid., p. 333.
 Shaykh al-Mufeed, al-Amāli, p. 143.
 ‘Abd Allah, Maqqtal al-Husayn.
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,
|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. 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.”
The Imām continued saying ‘I am….’ until the people wailed.
 Ibid., p. 387.
 Nafs al-Mahmūm, p. 242.
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.”
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. He ordered him to take them out at night because he feared dissension and repercussions. The caravan walked and began
 Hayāt al-Imām al-Husayn, vol. 3, p. 414.
 Jawhart al-Kalām fi Maddh al-Sāda al-‘Alām, p. 128.
 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.
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