Divine Will & Martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.)

Translator(s): 

Urdu Majlis of Allamah Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (t.s.).
Majlis recited in 1980s translated into English by Dr. Shabeeb Rizvi

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In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful
Allah’s Blessings be on you, O Saaheb al-Amr, help us and forsake us not

Imam Husain (a.s.) stated:

“Allah intends to see me martyred.”

It was at the time when Imam Husain (a.s.) was bidding adieu to the grave of the Messenger of Allah (S) and was weeping profusely. In that state of grief he fell off to sleep for a while and dreamt that the Messenger of Allah (S) had come out of his grave up to his waist. Imam Husain (a.s.) hugged him and exclaimed, “Dear grandfather! Please take me along with you in the grave.” That is when the Holy Prophet (S) prophesied to him,

“O Husain! You undertake your journey to Iraq because Allah intends to see you martyred.”

He (S) also informed to take his family along with him,

“Surely Allah intends to see them as captives.”

I have presented both these directives of the Messenger of Allah (S) to you. It is quite possible for someone to assume that indeed Yazid’s actions were appropriate. Allah wanted to see Imam Husain (a.s.) martyred and his family being taken as captives. He has indeed fulfilled Allah’s wish. Therefore, Yazid has indeed performed a good and suitable deed. I have recited these statements in front of you just to reply to this kind of objection so that I can briefly explain it.1

Although I am aware that time is running out but I want to briefly respond to this objection. It was the Will of Allah, the Almighty, that Imam Husain (a.s.) be martyred and his noble family be taken as captives. What does this actually mean? If this was Allah’s Will then martyrdom was obligatory upon Imam Husain (a.s.) and so was the detention of his family. No one should object to this.

But the question which arises is whether it was obligatory on Yazid the accursed to kill Imam Husain (a.s.) and take his women and children into captivity? If I use religious terms, I can say that the prerequisite of an obligatory act is obligatory but the prerequisite of existence is not. I can easily proceed by saying this and no one would be able to follow what I just said. Let me explain this in simple terms that there are some actions which are obligatory upon every mature and sane person and need to be performed under all circumstances.

For instance, prayers and fasting are obligatory under all circumstances for anyone who is an adult and not insane. There are few acts which become obligatory only on the fulfilment of certain conditions. If conditions are not fulfilled then they do not become obligatory. For example, Hajj has few pre-conditions like health, money and availability of time. Let’s assume if someone, maybe you, manage to earn enough money to go for Hajj by the 5th or 6th of Zilhajj but you won’t be able to reach there so soon. Hence, it requires time, health, money, safe journey and certainty of being secure during the stay out there or at least a basic sense of security, since no one can ever be certain.

Apart from this, you should also have enough money that after returning you don’t need to ask help from others. In your absence, expenses of your dependents should also be taken care of. Only if all these pre-conditions are fulfilled, Hajj becomes obligatory upon a person, not otherwise. Similarly for Zakaat that only if he has a particular amount of wealth and it remains with him for a year, Zakaat would be obligatory, not before this. When conditions for Jehaad are fulfilled, only then it would be considered obligatory. It isn’t merely about stepping out of your house with a sword and attacking everyone with it. Such a person would be called insane. Hence, it means that certain acts despite being obligatory in nature would become obligatory upon me or you only if their pre-conditions are fulfilled.

Now let me explain the difference between these two obligatory acts. Namaz is obligatory under all circumstances and hence it is necessary upon us to fulfil all its pre-conditions. For instance, since ablution (Wuzu) is a prerequisite for prayers, that would also be obligatory. If Tayyammum or Ghusl have to substitute it, then these will have to be accordingly performed. Since Namaz is an obligatory act which does not have any prerequisites, it has to be performed anyway. Hence, all those actions required for its validity will also be termed as obligatory i.e. obtaining pure water, adequate clothes, and pure place for prostration or if Tayammum has to be performed then look for pure earth, etc. All of these actions will become obligatory upon us. But as for the performance of Hajj or Zakaat, their obligation is conditional and similarly for Jehaad as well.

But fulfilling their pre-conditions is not our responsibility. If those pre-conditions are fulfilled such as sound health, required wealth for Hajj is available, only then Hajj will become obligatory. But if pre-conditions are not fulfilled then Hajj will not be obligatory. By no means can it be said that if health permits and all other conditions are available with us, except for wealth and provisions for the journey then we can loot a bank because Hajj is an obligatory act. It can be concluded that some actions are unconditionally obligatory and arranging for their prerequisites is also obligatory as part of its performance while some actions are obligatory only after their pre-conditions are fulfilled. It is not obligatory upon us to fulfil those pre-conditions.

Now let us analyse whether Allah’s desire for Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom was an obligatory action similar to Namaz and Fasting? If Shimr the accursed would not have killed him, then would Imam (a.s.) sever his own head and die, since Allah wished to see him martyred? It was definitely not obligatory for Imam Husain (a.s.) that if there was no one to kill him, then he would forcibly command Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) to kill him since Allah had wished for his martyrdom. It was surely not obligatory upon the family of Imam (a.s.) to remove their veils themselves and handcuff themselves just because Allah wanted to see them in that state.

What was obligatory upon them was the fact when Yazid abandons his obligations then they should readily accept martyrdom and captivity. We hear that Imam Husain (a.s.) was examined in the plains of Karbala. But only Imam Husain (a.s.) was not being tried. Even Yazid, Ibn Ziyaad, Umar Ibn Sa’ad (may Allah curse them all) were all being tested. Examination was for each and every person be it Shimr, Khuli, Hurmala (may Allah curse them all) or anyone else. In the army of 32000, even the one who was feeding the horses with food or water was being put through this examination. Everyone was being tested by an obligation that Allah had ordained for them.

Now let us see what was obligatory on Yazid, Ibn Ziyaad, Shimr and Umar Ibn Sa’ad (may Allah curse them all). You and anyone would say that it was incumbent upon them to pay allegiance to Imam Husain (a.s.), accept him as their true leader, follow his commandments and consider him as their leader and guide. All of it was obligatory upon them but they failed miserably in their examination. Allah has created every person free and independent to choose and has shown two paths to everyone whether to tread the right path and receive guidance or to follow the incorrect path and go astray into the Hell-fire.

“Surely we have shown him the way, whether he may be grateful or ungrateful.” (Surah Al-Insaan 76:3)

Allah kept the doors of guidance open for all, even for Ibn Ziyaad’s army of 32000. But, from those 32000, only 32 received guidance. After listening to the speeches and sermons of Imam Husain (a.s.) 32 people of Yazid’s army joined Imam Husain (a.s.). One in a thousand received guidance while the others (voluntarily) walked away towards Hell. Had all of them accepted guidance i.e. had they succeeded in their examination then neither martyrdom would have been obligatory upon Imam Husain (a.s.) nor captivity for his family.

Since they had been granted freedom and they misused this freedom i.e. they took to the wrong path, what was now the obligation upon Imam Husain (a.s.) and his family? Imam Husain (a.s.) also had two options here. If they had paid allegiance to Imam Husain (a.s.) and accepted him as their leader, it would have been obligatory for Imam Husain (a.s.) to guide them. But they went astray and insisted on fighting and getting into a battle with Imam Husain (a.s.) and compel him for Yazid’s allegiance else they would behead him. From here on, even Imam Husain (a.s.) had two options.

One option was to use his divinely gifted power, destroy Yazid’s army and destine Hell-fire for them instantly. We are well-aware of this fact; and whether we are half asleep, sad, ill or healthy, if anyone asks about it then our reply would obviously be that had Imam Husain (a.s.) only indicated, Yazid’s army would have been annihilated.

Imam Husain (a.s.) was still a divine leader. Even if Janabe Zainab (s.a.) would have cursed Yazid’s army, they would have perished. Had Janabe Zainab (s.a.) or Imam Husain (a.s.) indicated, the Alqamah river would have diverted itself and turned towards their tents. But now when the army of Yazid had chosen error and deviation for themselves and had become rebellious, Allah ordered Imam Husain (a.s.) to refrain from using his divine powers of Imamate.

“Allah intends to see me martyred and after my martyrdom He intends to my family as captives.”

From Imam Husain’s (a.s.) viewpoint, although the martyrdom of Ali Asghar (a.s.) and Ali Akbar (a.s.) were severe tragedies but snatching away of the veils from the Zainab (s.a.) and Umm Kulsum (s.a.) was a greater affliction. It is something to be pondered over that Imam Husain (a.s.) in his entire lifetime had never seen his sisters Zainab (s.a.) and Umm Kulsum (s.a.) without a veil. Rather, even the thought of such an event would bring tears to his eyes. Imagine what would the state of that ailing Imam Sajjad (a.s.) be before whose eyes, the veils of Zainab (s.a.) and Umm Kulsum (s.a.) were snatched away and under his leadership, those noble ladies, left without protectors and heirs, were tied up in ropes and dragged to the court of Yazid.

Nevertheless, the reason for this discussion is that when Holy Prophet (S) foretold Imam Husain (a.s.) that Allah desires to see you martyred and the noble ladies of your family as captives, it doesn’t mean what Yazid did was good. Rather, Yazid failed miserably in his examination. But after his failure, it became obligatory on these personalities to bear the trials and tribulations which befell them with patience and gratitude and forego the divine power and authority which Allah had granted to them. The result of not utilizing the divinely gifted power was to reject the help of the Jinn and assistance by angels. He did ask for help from people though,

“Is there any aide who shall help us?”

At no point did they did wish to fight the battle beyond human ability.

Nonetheless, now you might question as to why Holy Prophet (S) said that it is the will of Allah to see the noble ladies of your family as captives. We seek refuge in Allah! It wasn’t that Allah had any enmity towards the womenfolk of Imam’s (a.s.) family. We seek refuge in Allah! Rather, it was for the survival of religion and how this contributed to the survival of religion became apparent through later events. Had these later events not occurred, we could have thought and pondered as to why such a calamity came about for these noble ladies. However, there is no need for us to think about it now since events have been clearly recorded in history and we can easily derive conclusions from those events.

You see some people say that Muawiyah was the first person to set up a Propaganda Department in Syria. He set up a department and its members were a few companions of Holy Prophet (S) and a few Taabe’een. Among the companions of the Holy Prophet (S) who took part in this propaganda were Abu Hurairah, Mughairah and Ibn Shoabah and among the Tabe’een were Urwah bin Zubayr, etc. They would be paid large sums of money and their task was to fabricate traditions condemning the Ahlul Bait of the Holy Prophet (S) and to fabricate traditions in the praise of Muawiyah and the Bani Umayyah.

The following incident will give you an indication of how the situation had worsened. There was a companion of Holy Prophet (S) by the name of Samurah Ibn Jundab for whom the Prophet (S) had doomed Hell. Holy Prophet (S) had informed three people that whosoever was the last to die among them would go to Hell and Samurah Ibn Jundab died last. Once Muawiyah requested him to forge a tradition. He asked, “Which one?” Muawiyah replied, “Regarding four verses, three of which were originally in condemnation of hypocrites and the fourth one was which was revealed in praise of Ali (a.s.) during the night of migration.”

Muawiyah said, “You write that these three verses are in condemnation of Imam Ali (a.s.) (God Forbid) while the fourth verse, ‘and among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah’3 is in praise of Ibn Muljam. Samurah asked about the reward for it. He promised him a hundred thousand dirhams. He said that hundred thousand dirhams were insufficient for such a strong tradition. Muawiyah increased it to two hundred thousand which Samurah felt was still inadequate. Muawiyah offered three hundred thousand but Samurah refused. When four hundred thousand dirhams were placed in front of him, he accepted and wrote, “Three verses which were in condemnation of hypocrites are regarding Imam Ali (a.s.) (God Forbid); those who sell themselves for the pleasure of Allah2 is regarding Ibn Muljam.”

I don’t want to elaborate any further but elders have narrated that Janab Sibte Hasan (may Allah elevate his status) recited once in a Majlis that although Muawiyah was able to forge the tradition but couldn’t hide the fact that it was a forged one.

Largely, Bani Umayyah managed to convince the Syrians that Muawiyah and Yazid were the nearest relatives of Holy Prophet (S) and children and youth were brought up on the same ideology. But aforementioned similar forged traditions were spread regarding Ali (a.s.) and Ahlul Bait (a.s.).

Intellectual level of people had fallen to such an extent that when Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) was martyred and the news reached Damascus (it’s evident as this was not an ordinary news, although there was enmity but everyone would want to know the details), someone asked, “Where was Ali killed?” Someone replied, “In the mosque.” The person immediately retorted, “What was Ali (a.s.) doing in a mosque?” This question is enough to gauge the hostility of that person when he asked what Ali was doing in the mosque. He was told, “He was reciting his prayers.” The man shamefully asked again, “Did Ali pray as well?”

Now after such teaching and training, when Imam Husain (a.s.) opposed Yazid, it was declared that a Kharji has revolted against Ameerul Momineen Yazid and it is obligatory for you to fight with him (we seek refuge in Allah!). If Imam Husain (a.s.) would have gone without his family (ladies and children), means with youth and male members of the family and they all would have killed in Karbala, it will be the same thing which was being said since beginning, that a Kharji has revolted, and there was fight and everyone was killed. Now, the reason of martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) which Allah had desired would have vanished i.e. the moment Imam Husain (a.s.) attained the martyrdom, the reason for his martyrdom would also be martyred and there wouldn’t be any benefit of this martyrdom. Hence, captivity of his family was necessary for keeping the aim of martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) alive. This was divine prudence.

It was from the expediency of Allah that not only Imam Husain (a.s.) be killed but his family should also become captives, so that wherever they go, they should propagate the name of Imam Husain (a.s.), the aim of Imam Husain (a.s.) and explain who has been killed. So, now it becomes clear that why the Holy Prophet (S) said you should go as it was Allah’s will and expediency that you should be killed and that the family be held captives because being killed alone was futile.

Likewise, Imam Hasan (a.s.) was being poisoned and today writers strive hard to save the ruler of Syria, Muawiyah, from this blame. Or, they say that it is not clear that who was the main cause of the martyrdom of Imam Hasan (a.s.) and people are unaware about it. Then, it would have become exactly the same for Imam Husain (a.s.) as well. That’s why martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) will be incomplete, rather it would be null and void, if his family would have not accompanied him.

If his family members had been together, then you would have seen that all the preparations by Yazid boomeranged at him. You see, that he ordered Ibn Ziyad to bring the family members from a longer route. For example if somebody has to go to Chapra3 from here, then he goes to Bhatni4 from here, then from Bhatni to Banaras5 and then to Chapra6 from there. Just as there is lack of wisdom in choosing the above route, there was similar wisdom apparent in ordering the longer route to Ibn Ziyad. But Yazid did not give this order without a reason. Yazid’s aim in this was (in reality even today this route from Baghdad to Damascus is not thickly populated. There are no big cities and towns on this route.

Earlier people used to travel on this route through camels; now, this very route is travelled on buses. But even after fourteen hundred years there are no thickly populated cities on this route) that if they came from Kufa to Damascus from this route, no one will come to know, no will become aware of their great apparent victory.

Also, Yazid’s awe and majesty will also not be instilled in the hearts of the masses that how powerful is this Yazid that he killed a great personality like Imam Husain (a.s.). So now if we (the people) oppose him, what will be our fate! He wanted to show his strength and dictate his power to all. Hence, he himself chalked out the route that was to be taken. It was a weird long route which had big cities on its way. This was his plan. But what eventually happened?

The result was that the news of martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) spread in the major metros. Consequently, nearly one-third cities closed their doors on this caravan and did not allow the holy head of Imam Husain (a.s.) and his family members to enter them as a rebuff to Yazid. Subsequently, instead of Yazid’s fear and awe griping the people, opposition to Yazid started raising their heads. “It should not happen that the punishment which is to befall on you engulfs us also along with you.” Allah wanted to show us that they are making their schemes and their plans and I am making My schemes and My plans. “O Prophet (S)! Give them respite and time to them so that they are able to do their work. And I will turn back their plan on their face.” So now Allah did what He intended. Instead of people coming in awe of Yazid or getting impressed by his power, opposition to him started at many places.

When the caravan reached Damascus, an announcement being made “O people! Somebody has rebelled (against the present ruling Caliph).”

Leave all the other affairs, on the way to Syria in the market of Damascus, an old man approached Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) and said, “All praise is to Allah that He has uprooted your mischief (fitna).” Imam Sajjad (a.s.) knew that the old man was uttering such sentences merely on account of his ignorance.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) asked: “O old man! Have you recited the Quran?” The old man replied in the affirmative.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) questioned again: Have you recited this verse

“Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.”(Surah Ahzaab, 33:33)

Again, the elderly person responded in the affirmative.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) informed: “O old man! The Ahlul Bayt mentioned in the verse from whom Allah has desired to keep away the uncleanness is for us only.”

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) inquired again: “Have you recited the verse

“Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives”(Surah Shura 42:23)

He replied in the affirmative.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) explained: “We are those near relatives whose love is made obligatory.”

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) questioned again: “Have you recited this verse

“But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons” (Surah Aale Imran, 3:61)

Once again, the old man answered in the positive.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) declared: “The son of the Prophet (S) mentioned in this verse, is the one whose head raised on the lance…”

The old man questioned perplexed: “Is this verse about you? But we were told that a person had rebelled! May Allah curse the one who killed his own Prophet’s (S) household progeny…”!

Thus, the holy progeny of the Holy Prophet (S), after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) was declaring and informing about the blessed personality of Imam Husain (a.s.). If this intention was not the main purpose or aim in front of them, I don’t think Janabe Zainab (s.a.) would had ever accepted that her face be unveiled in front of thousands of people to see her. Leave all other things aside, if only two sermons – the sermon delivered by Janabe Zainab (s.a.) in the court of Yazid and the sermon of Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) in Masjid-e-Jaame’
– are analyzed, the aim of captivity after martyrdom would be understood.

I will not take much of your time. You know that when someone expressed desire to take Janab-e-Fatemah Kubra (s.a.) as a slave-girl, he was told about her identity that she is Fatemah, the daughter of Imam Husain (a.s). He asked, “Who Husain (a.s.)?” It was said, “Son of Ali and Fatemah Zahra”. On hearing this, he slapped his face and cried, “I was told that the captives are Turks and Dylamites...I was not knowing that you, O Yazid, may Allah curse you, had killed the son of the Holy Prophet (S) and brought his (S) progeny as captives.” Due to his bold utterances, he was put to death and martyred at the behest of Yazid.

Now you have realised that not only did Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Janab Zainab (s.a) introduce themselves in Karbala but we also know that Imam Husain (a.s.) asked the following questions:

Ask the companions of Holy Prophet (S) present amongst you, none other than me is the grandson of the Holy Prophet (S) on this earth, do you know whose headgear (amaamah) is this? Whose shield is this? Whose sword is this?

Imam Husain (a.s.) was not giving these introductions to beg mercy from them but to remove misconceptions from their minds so that they are fully aware as whom are they killing. Imam Husain (a.s.) did this to complete the argument on them. The completion of argument and the propagation was also the aim of his martyrdom. Through such things the people of Syria realised that these were the kith and kin of the Holy Prophet (S), his grand daughters and grandsons.

Damascus was now witnessing a furore to such an extent that Yazid had to think about curbing it.

He ordered the people to gather an hour before the noon prayers and commanded a speaker, who was actually one of his aides, to malign the commander of faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) and Imam Hasan (a.s.) to the maximum extent possible and praise Yazid. Had he not asked Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to attend this gathering, his above aim too would have been fulfilled. But Allah destroyed his plan at his very hands. He assumed that Imam Sajjad (a.s.) will silently listen to what he says for an hour without protest. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) was tied in chains and shackles and seated near the pulpit. The speaker said what he had to say and Imam Sajjad (a.s.) patiently bore with him. We cannot realise what pain Imam Sajjad (a.s.) must have experienced.

When the speaker was silent, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) told him that he (the speaker) has suffered a great loss due to Yazid. You have displeased Allah to please Yazid and have ascertained your place in hell.

He (a.s.) then asked Yazid that he wanted to ascend the pulpit and say what will benefit the people.

Yazid was aware of the consequences of allowing Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to ascend the pulpit and hence was making different excuses. But on the insistence of the people, he finally relented and allowed Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to speak from the pulpit.

The successor of Holy Prophet (S) sat on the pulpit in a manner in which neither the Holy Prophet (S) nor Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) sat on the pulpit like this before. He sat on the pulpit without a turban on his head, nor a proper robe on his body; his clothes were torn, shackles in the neck and his limbs were fettered. After praising Allah, he (a.s.) started his sermon:

“Thanks to Allah in bounties as also in difficulties; thanks to Allah that he has bestowed us with six qualities and seven virtues. He granted us knowledge, forbearance, generosity, honor, courage and has instilled our love in the hearts of the people. As for the virtues, Prophet Mohammed (S), the biggest truthful Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), Janab Jafar al-Tayyaar (a.s.), the lion of Allah and the Lion of Holy Prophet (S), Janab Hamza (a.s.) and the chiefs of the youths of the Paradise, Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) are from us.

“O people! Those who know me, know me, and those who do not know, I am introducing myself to them through my lineage and ancestry. I am the son of Makkah and Mina, I am the son of Zamzam and Safa.”

He continued introducing himself till he (a.s.) said, “I am the son of the one whom Allah took from Makkah to Baitul Maqdas, then raised to the Heaven, to His Throne, to the Sidrah al-Muntaha, till he (S) came to Him equal to the distance of the bow-string to bow-center. I am the son of the one who paid allegiance twice at the hands of Holy Prophet (S), who fought with two swords, who fought with two spears, who migrated twice, and none is equal to him in generosity, bravery and kindness, by whose sword Islam was established and through him the pillars of Islam became firm; if you do not know him, then know that he is Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).”

Now, what was said earlier was being negated. After discussing in detail the excellence of Amirul Momeneen (a.s.) “I am son of the one in whose glory the verse of “HAL ATAA” descended”. After narrating all the thing, he (a.s.) said: “Then know that he is Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).”

Thereafter, he (a.s.) started introducing Janab-e- Zahra (s.a.) i.e. “I am the son of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), I am the son of the last prophet (S), I am the son of chief of the women of the worlds.” Finally, he reached to Imam Husain (a.s.)... “I am the son of that person whom you invited as a guest but did not welcome Him. I am the son of that person who was kept hungry and thirsty for three days. I am the son of that person whose neck has been cut from His back. I am the son of that person whose body was trampled upon by horses. I am the son of that person whose head was raised on a lance. I am the son of that person whose body was defiled. I am the son of that person whose tents were burnt. I am the son of that person whose female-folks’ shoulders were tied with ropes. I am the son of that person whose families were taken to towns & cities. I am the son of that person whose body was lying three days without pall.”

The impact of the speech was so powerful that everybody in the Mosque began weeping loudly and the people seated near the walls were striking their heads against the walls.

Yazid, who was observing this scene intently, realized that if Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) continued his speech, there would be a revolution. At the same time, Yazid could not stop Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) and make him alight from the pulpit. Therefore, he ordered the “Muazzin” to give Azaan, knowing that this would automatically cut short Imam Zainul Abedeen’s (a.s.) speech. But he underestimated the Imam’s bravery and intelligence. Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) stopped his speech but did not descend from the pulpit. When the Muazzin said, “Allah is the Greatest”, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) testified to Allah’s greatness. When the Muazzin said, “I bear witness that Muhammad (S) is the Messenger of Allah”, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) stopped the Muazzin from proceeding with the Azaan.

He (a.s.) then turned to Yazid and asked, “Tell me, O Yazid, was Muhammad (S) your grandfather or mine? If you say he was your grandfather, it will be an open lie and if you say he was my grandfather, then why have you killed his son and imprisoned his family? Why have you killed my father and brought his womenfolk and children to this city as prisoners?”

Yazid was left dumbfounded and left the mosque in a huff.

That is why the Holy Prophet (S) said that Allah wishes that if you become a martyr, your womenfolk and children should become prisoners so that people may know your main aim and recognize your family. This aim was fulfilled in such a way that now Yazid had no option but to release the captives.

Yazid called Imam Zainul Aabedeen (a.s.) and said: “I want to free you now. It’s your wish, if you want you can go to Madinah or else continue to stay with us with honour and peace.” Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) replied: “Let me consult my aunt (Zainab) and come back to you.” Zainab (s.a.) replied that: “we will go back to Madinah but say to Yazid that I have not cried for my brother since his martyrdom. So, vacate the courtyard for us so that we can mourn our martyrs.” Mourning, crying and chest-beating continued for eight days in Yazid’s palace.

Yazid (l.a.) called Noman bin Bashir, who was a so-called companion of Holy Prophet (S), and asked him to make their travel arrangements. The details are heart-rending. Silk saddles were arranged with silk curtains; and a security troupe was appointed such that when the womenfolk travel, it should walk in front of them and when they halt, it should camp far from the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) so that they do not see them.

I would want to question Yazid (l.a.) that are these the same beacons of infallibility whose necks and hands were tied. Imam Zainul Aabideen (a.s.) says that twelve necks were tied with a single rope and we were dragged in the markets like a flock of goats. Today, so many preparations are being done for them. Anyways, the ladies passed through Karbala before reaching Madinah.

This caravan was now reaching Madinah from Syria. From the time of Hashim (a.s.), in fact even before that, the caravans that came from Syria used to halt at a designated place and camp there. Thus, there is a place even today on the outskirts of Madinah which is called Shamia i.e. the caravans that came from Syria (Shaam) halted here. They set their tents and goods there and visited Madinah daily for selling their goods and returned from there itself. Even today it’s the same. Earlier people came on camels, today they come in buses. The buses that come from Syria, halt at Shamia. It is like their bus-stand.

I visited it this time. Since there is a condition in Haj that one cannot travel in a vehicle with roof, we search for an open jeep so someone referred us to Shamia in hope that we may find one. In this way, I visited Shamia. We did not find a vehicle there as well but a deep sorrow developed that this is the same place where Imam Sajjad (a.s.) arrived and ordered to camp his tents and then called Basheer Ibn Juzlam and said “O Basheer! May Allah have mercy on your father! He was poet. Do you recite poems too?” He replied in the affirmative. Imam (a.s.) ordered: “Then go and inform the city of Madinah of our arrival”. Basheer mounted a horse and went towards Madinah. He was silent till he reached Masjid-e-Nabavi (S). When he reached there, he cried

O people of Madinah! This city is not worthy of your living

Husain was martyred and my eyes are weeping

It was a condition that Husain’s body was lying in hot sand smeared in blood

And his head was raised on the spear and was taken city to city and place to place

As soon as they heard the noise, the old and young alike came out of their houses immediately. Bashir announced that Imam Zainul Aabideen (a.s.) has come along with the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and is stationed at Shamia. All of them started to run hastily in its direction.

Women were slapping their faces, some were beating their chests and there was such weeping and wailing that the observers said that this mourning was not less than that at the time of the Holy Prophet’s (S) death. When Bashir returned, he could not find a path to reach Imam Sajjad (a.s.). There was so much crowd that he says that I abandoned my horse and reached Imam Sajjad (a.s.) by stepping on to peoples’ shoulders. When I reached, I saw Imam Sajjad (a.s.) coming out of his tent. One of the servants brought a chair for him and Imam (a.s.) sat down. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) was wearing black and was carrying a black handkerchief in his hand. He was crying.

Let us imagine that if we are on a trip and if our son or father or brother passes away, upon return we will remain silent till Siwan. We will be quiet on our way back but when we see our relations and acquaintances, we will break down and weep uncontrollably. This was the same situation with the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and Imam Zainul Aabideen (a.s.). On gaining some tranquility, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) started narrating the events and in the end he said, “O people of Madinah! If our grandfather would have asked his nation to oppress his Ahlul Bait (a.s.) as much as possible, kill and behead them, the nation would not have oppressed us more than what they did despite him (S) leaving a will to love us.”

Now, on the order of Imam Sajjad (a.s.), the Caravan set off for Madinah. After entering the city, they first reached the Mosque of the Prophet (S). As they were entering the City of Madinah, Janabe Umm Kulsoom (s.a.) could not bear (to keep quite over the sorrows), wailed loudly and started reciting the following elegy:

O the city of my grandfather, don’t welcome us.

Since we are coming with many regrets and sorrows

She continued:

“O Madinah! When we had left from you we had a full family

But now when we are returning, we don’t have our patrons and masters nor do we have our children in our laps; we have lost all of them.

When she took a glance at Jannatul Baqi, she cried aloud saying:

“O (mother) Fatima! I wish you would have seen us how we were made prisoners and paraded from city to city and suburb to suburb.”

Janabe Zainab (s.a.) was patient till now but when she reached the shrine of her grandfather, she took hold of the chain and recited one sentence:

“O my grandfather! I have come with the sad news of the death of your grandson Husain (a.s.).”

  • 1. My respected father, Allamah Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (may Allah sanctify his grave) had recited this Majlis to commemorate the fortieth day (Arbaeen) of the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom during the mid-1980s in our village Maloof, Gopalpur, District Siwan, Bihar, India. It has been documented from an audio recording of that Majlis.
  • 2. Cfr: Surah Baqarah (2):207
  • 3. Chapra is about 65 km east of Siwan (Translator).
  • 4. Bhatni is about 60 km west of Siwan (Translator).
  • 5. Banaras is about 60 km east of Bhatni (Translator).
  • 6. Chapra is about 60 km west of Banaras (Translator).
Miscellaneous information: 
Divine Will & Martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) Urdu Majlis of Allamah Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (t.s.). Majlis recited in 1980s translated into English by Dr. Shabeeb Rizvi