Al-Hurr sent a message to Ibn Ziyad telling him that al-Husayn (‘a) was camping at Karbala’, whereupon Ibn Ziyad wrote al-Husayn (‘a) saying, “O Husayn! It has come to my knowledge that you have camped at Karbala’. The commander of the faithful, Yazid, had already written me ordering me not to sleep on any soft bed nor drink enough wine till I send you to the Munificent One, the all-Knowing, unless you submit to my authority and to that of Yazid, Wassalam.”
Having read this letter, al-Husayn (‘a) threw it away saying, “Those who buy the pleasure of the creatures with the price of the Creator's Wrath shall never succeed”.
The messenger asked him to respond to the letter, but the Imam (‘a) said to him, “I have no answer for him because he has already been condemned with the torment.”
The same messenger informed Ibn Ziyad of what Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) had said. His rage intensified2 and he ordered ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d to march out to Karbala’. The latter had been camping at Hammam A’yan with four thousand men who were being dispatched to Dustaba where the people of Daylam had declared mutiny3.
Ibn Ziyad had written him a promise to place him in charge of governing Rey, Dustaba's fortified border, as well as Daylam4. Ibn Sa’d asked him to relieve him of such a task, so Ibn Ziyad required him to return his written promise to him, giving him one night's respite to reconsider. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d gathered his advisers who advised him not to march to fight al-Husayn (‘a).
His sister's son, Hamzah Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Shu’bah, said to him, “I plead to you in the Name of Allah not to march to fight al-Husayn and thus cut off your offspring and commit a sin against your Lord! By Allah! If you depart from this world after having lost all your wealth and authority, it will be much better for you than having to meet Allah stained with Husayn's blood.”5
Ibn Sa’d said, “If Allah so pleases, I will do so.” He spent his night contemplating upon his affairs. He was heard saying:
In the morning, he met Ibn Ziyad and said to him, “You have put me in charge of a mission of which people have already heard; so, let me carry it out, and send to the battlefield those who are no less competent than I am.”
He then named a number of Kufa's dignitaries. Ibn Ziyad said, “I do not receive orders from you with regard to who I dispatch If you march, do so with our troops; otherwise, hand me over the covenant which I had written you.” When he saw how persistent Ibn Ziyad was, Ibn Sa’d agreed to march7.
He, therefore, went to face al-Husayn (‘a) with four thousand men, and al-Hurr and everyone with him joined his forces. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d ordered ‘Izra Ibn Qays al-Ahmasi to meet al-Husayn (‘a) and to ask him about what had brought him here, but ‘Izra requested to be relieved of having to do so, saying that he was one of those who had written al-Husayn (‘a). He asked the other prominent chiefs with him, but they, too, asked to be excused for the same reason...
Kathir Ibn ‘Ubaydullah al-Sha’bi stood up, and he was quite a daring man. He leaned on his cane and said, “I can meet him, and if you wish, I shall kill him, too.” Ibn Sa’d said, “No, do not kill him but ask him about what had brought him there.”
Kathir came to meet the Imam (‘a); he was recognized by Abu Thumama al-Sa’idi who stood up in his face and shouted at him to put his sword on the ground before entering the Imam's tent. He refused, so he was turned away. ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d called upon Qurrah Ibn Qays al-Hanzali to ask al-Husayn (‘a) the same question.
Qurrah delivered the message that he had brought from Ibn Sa’d to the Imam who responded by saying, “The people of your land wrote me asking me to go to them; so, if you now hate my presence, I shall go somewhere else.” The messenger went back and conveyed these words to Ibn Sa’d who, in turn, wrote Ibn Ziyad informing him of what al-Husayn (‘a) had said.
Soon the answer came: “Give Husayn and his band the option to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid. If he does, we will decide what to do with him.”8