THE GREAT TRAGEDY OF
THE LORD OF THE MARTYRS
IMAM AL-HUSAYN IBN ‘ALI
(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.
THE FIRST FAREWELL
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.
THE IMAM’S FINAL FAREWELL WITH IMAM ‘ALI IBN AL-HUSAYN, ZAYN AL-‘ABIDIN (peace be with them)
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.”
THE TRIBULATION OF THE FINAL FAREWELL OF THE IMAM (peace be with him)
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.
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!”
THE HEART RENDING FAREWELL OF THE IMAM WITH HIS BELOVED SAKINAH (peace be with them)
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
THE THIRSTY CHILD RUSHING AFTER THE IMAM (peace be with them)
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 FAREWELL WITH LADY ZAYNAB (peace be with her)
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.)
THE REMEBERANCE OF THE LAST WILL OF LADY FATIMAH (peace be with her)
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.
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.
THE FRIGHTFUL INCIDENT AT THE TIME OF THE FINAL FARWELL
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.”
THE HIGH SPIRIT AND MORALE OF THE IMAM (peace be with him)
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
THE IMAM INTRODUCING HIMSELF AND GIVING A DEVASTATING ARGUMENT TO THE ENEMY
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!”
“By Allah, do you know that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is my father?”
“Yes we know that!”
“By Allah are you aware that Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first women to enter the fold of Islam is my grandmother?”
“Yes we are!”
“For the sake of Allah, are you aware that Ja’far, he who takes flight within the realms of Paradise, is my uncle?”
“Yes we are!”
“For the sake of Allah, are you aware that this sword tied to my waist is the sword of the Messenger?”
“Yes we are!”
“By Allah, are aware that this turban I wear on my head is the turban of the Messenger?”
“Yes we are!”
“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?”
“We are aware of it!”
“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.
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!”
A LOOK AT THE IMAM’S FINAL BATTLE
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
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 AT THE BANKS OF THE EUPHARATES
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE WISPERED SUPPLICATION OF THE IMAM
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
LADY ZAYNAB AT THE BRUTAL BEHEADING OF THE IMAM (peace be with them)
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.
SHOOTING OF A STONE AND THREE HEADED ARROW AT THE IMAM (peace be with him)
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.
THE HEART BURNING MARTYDOM OF THE IMAM (peace be with him)
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 people 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.
IMAM ASKING FOR WATER
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.”
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)
THE TRAGEDY OF DHUL JANAH THE FAITHFUL HORSE OF THE IMAM
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.
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.”
SAKINAH ON SEEING DHUL JANAH
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.”
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?”
According to some the horse beat its head violently upon the ground near the tents until it died.
According to others the horse bewildered and frightened ran from the tents to the river where falling into it, disappeared.
SOME OF THE UNBEARABLE TRAGEDIES SUFFERED BY THE IMAM ON THE DAY OF HIS MARTYDOM
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.
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.”