When ‘Abdullah Ibn Muslim was killed, the family of Abu Talib undertook a collective campaign. Al-Husayn (‘a), called out to them saying, “Be patient, O cousins! By Allah! After today you shall not meet any hardship at all.”1
The assailants were comprised of ‘Awn Ibn ‘Abdullah, son of Ja’far at-Tayyar and the wise lady Zainab, his brother Muhammad son of al-Khawsa, ‘Abdul-Rahman Ibn ‘Aqil Ibn Abu Talib,2 his brother Ja’far son of ‘Aqil, and Muhammad son of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil.3
As many as eighteen wounds were received by al-Hasan II son of Imam al-Hasan, [older] grandson of the Prophet (S), and his right hand was cut off, but he was not martyred yet.
Abu Bakr son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a),4 whose first name was Muhammad,5 came out and was killed by Zahr Ibn Badr al-Nakh’i.6
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Aqil now came out and kept fighting till his wounds overwhelmed him, so he fell. ‘Uthman Ibn Khalid al-Tamimi took advantage of the situation, walked to him and killed him.
Abu Bakr, son of Imam al-Hasan son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), came out. His first name was ‘Abdullah al-Akbar [‘Abdullah senior] and his mother was an “umm walad”8 named Ramla.9 He fought till he was killed.10
After the latter, his full-blooded brother, al-Qasim, came out.11 He was a lad who had not yet come of age. When al-Husayn (‘a), looked at him, he hugged him and wept.12
Then he permitted him to fight, so he came out with a face looking like a full moon13 bearing a sword and wearing a shirt and a mantle. On his feet he wore sandals. He had to fight on foot.
The sandal's string on his left foot was cut off,14 so he, the son of the great Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, hated to walk bare-footed on the battlefield.
He, therefore, stopped for a moment to tie his sandal,15 regarding those enemies as no more valuable than his own sandal, paying no heed to their multitude, feeling unconcerned about their thousands.
As he was thus engaged, ‘Amr Ibn Sa’d Ibn Nafil al-Azdi attacked him. Hamid Ibn Muslim asked him, “What do you want to do to this lad? Are you not satisfied to see all the crowd that surrounds him?” He said, “By Allah I shall attack him!” He hit al-Qasim with his sword. The lad fell face forward crying out, “O uncle!”.
Al-Husayn (‘a) came out to his help like an angry lion and struck ‘Amr with his sword. ‘Amr tried to avoid it with his arm, so the Imam cut it off from the elbow, causing him to let out a very loud scream which was heard by the entire army. The cavalry of Ibn Sa’d charged in order to rescue him. ‘Amr met them face-to-face, causing their horses to trample upon him and to eventually kill him.
After some time the cloud of dust dissipated, so al-Husayn (‘a) was now seen standing at the head of the young boy, examining his feet. Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Away with people who have killed you while their opponent on the Day of Judgment will be your grandfather (S)!”
Then he said, “Hard it is, by Allah, that you call upon your uncle to help you and he cannot answer your call, or that he does answer it but cannot do much for you. It is a lone voice whose enemies are numerous and whose supporters are few.”
Then he carried him away. Al-Qasim was on al-Husayn's chest; his legs were dragging on the ground. Al-Husayn (‘a) put the corpse beside that of ‘Ali al-Akbar and of those of his family who had been killed.17
Then he raised his eyes to the heavens and supplicated thus:
“O Allah! Count their numbers, and do not leave any of them alone, and do not forgive a single one of them! Be patient, O cousins! Be patient, O my Ahl al-Bayt! You shall never meet any hardship after today at all.”18
When al-’Abbas (‘a), saw how such a large number of his family members were being killed, he said to his brothers ‘Abdullah, ‘Uthman, and Ja’far, “Advance, O brothers, so that I may see you supporting the cause of Allah and His Messenger (S).”
Then he turned to ‘Abdullah, their oldest, and said, “Advance, O brother, so that I may see you receiving the honour of martyrdom.”.19
They fought in front of Abul-Fadl, al-’Abbas, till they were all killed.
Al-’Abbas could no longer bear life after having seen how his companions and the members of his family killed and how the Hujjah of his time was suffering from the great number of the enemies surrounding him after his supply route had been cut off and after hearing the women wailing and the children crying of thirst.
He, therefore, sought permission from his brother. Since al-’Abbas (‘a) was the most precious asset to the grandson of the Prophet (S), who is soon to be martyred, especially since the foes always dreaded having to fight him and feared his advance, and how the ladies felt a sense of security upon seeing the standard raised high, the sacred soul of the Father of the Oppressed did not accept to part with him.
The Imam (‘a) said to him, “O brother! You are my standard-bearer!”21 Al-’Abbas (‘a) said, “I am fed-up with these hypocrites, and I want to seek revenge against them.”
Al-Husayn (‘a) ordered him to bring water for the children, so al-’Abbas went to those people and admonished them, warning them of the Wrath of the Omnipotent, but all of that fell on deaf ears.
He then shouted: “O ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d! Here is al-Husayn son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah! You have killed his companions and family, and here are his children suffering from thirst! Give them some water, for thirst has burnt their hearts!”
As he kept repeating his pleas, he also kept saying to them, “Let me go to Rome or to India, and I shall leave Hijaz and Iraq for you all.”
There were some people among the enemy ranks who were genuinely moved by those pleas, so they wept, but al-Shimr shouted as loudly as he could, “O son of Abu Turab! Had the face of earth been entirely covered with water, and had it been in our hands, we would still have not given you a drop of it to drink unless you swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid!”
Al-’Abbas went back to his brother to tell him of the outcome of his negotiations with those ruffians. Al-’Abbas heard the children crying of thirst,22 so he could not tolerate the situation any longer. He was fired up with his Hashemi zeal.
Then he rode his horse and took the water bag. As many as four thousand archers soon surrounded him and shot him with their arrows, yet their large number did not impede his attempt. He kept chasing those throngs alone as his standard kept fluttering above.
Those people could not tell whether that was al-’Abbas who was thus slaughtering their heroes or the wasi roaring on the battlefield. Their men could not maintain their grounds before him, and he succeeded in getting into the Euphrates river heedless of the huge crowd around him.
The moment he took one handful of water to drink he remembered how thirsty al-Husayn (‘a) and those with him were, so he spilled it then said:24
Then he filled the water bag, rode his horse, and went in the direction of the camp. His path was blocked, so he kept killing those who blocked it till he was able to make his way through them as he was saying:
Zayd Ibn al-Ruqad al-Jahni ambushed him from behind a palm tree assisted by Hakim Ibn al-Tufayl al-Sanbasi, dealing a sword blow to his right arm, completely severing it. He (‘a), said,
He did not pay attention to the fact that his right hand had been cut off because he was only concerned about getting the water to the children and the family of al-Husayn (‘a), but Hakim Ibn al-Tufayl was still hiding behind another palm tree when he passed by.
Hakim struck him with his sword on his left hand, amputating it, too,26 and soon a large number of men were surrounding him. Arrows fell on him like rain, piercing the water bag and boring a hole in it through which its water was completely spilled. An arrow pierced his chest.27 A man hit him with a pole on his head, severely injuring him.
He fell on the ground shouting, “Peace unto you from me, O father of ‘Abdullah!” Al-Husayn (‘a) rushed to him.28 How I wish to know in what condition he went to him, with a soul imperiled by this great loss, or by the brotherhood that pulls a brother to his beloved brother...
Yes; al-Husayn (‘a) reached him and witnessed how sacrifice is being offered to the Holy One on a plain covered with blood and crowned with arrows. Al-’Abbas had no might nor speech nor anything whereby he could keep his foes away. He could not even see anything; his head was on the ground bleeding.
Is it accurate to say that al-Husayn (‘a) saw all of these calamities and still had any strength whereby he could stand on his feet? Only al-Husayn remained after the martyrdom of Abul-Fadl. He remained a figure staring in the sky, stripped of all the necessities of life.
He, Allah's peace be upon him, described his condition best when he said, “Now my spine has been split and my endeavour is further weakened.”29
He left him where he had fell and did not move him anywhere due to a hidden reason which time later unveiled:
He was to be buried where he had fallen separately from the other martyrs so that he would have a mausoleum of his own visited by those who seek his intercession with the Almighty to grant them the fulfillment of their wishes, and so that his gravesite would be a place for the ziyarat of the people who seek nearness to the Almighty, Praise to Him, under its dome that stands lofty in the sky, glowing.
It is there that dazzling miracles manifest themselves and the nation thereby comes to know his lofty status and station with Allah Almighty. It then carries out its obligation of loving him which is renewed by continuous visits.
Greeting him will establish a link between them and Allah, the most Exalted. It was the desire of the Hujjah of his time, the father of ‘Abdullah (‘a), and of the Omnipotent, Praise to Him, that the apparent status enjoyed by Abul-Fadl al-’Abbas should be similar to the one preserved for him in the hereafter, and so it was.
Al-Husayn (‘a) went back to the camp feeling extremely depressed, tearful. He kept wiping his tears with his cuffs as men raced with one another to assault his camp.
He called out: “Is there anyone who helps us?! Is there anyone who grants us security?! Is there anyone who seeks justice, so he supports us?! Is there anyone who fears the Fire, so he defends us?!”31
Sukayna, his daughter, came to him and asked him about her uncle al-’Abbas. He told her of his being killed. Zainab heard him revealing this sad news, so she cried out, “O brother! O ‘Abbas! O our loss after you!” Women wept, and al-Husayn (‘a) wept, too, and said, “O our loss after you!”