Al-Husayn’s Departure From Makkah
Al-Husayn (as) left Madinah for Makkah on Sunday, two nights before the end of Rajab 60 H1, and reached Makkah on the night preceding Friday, third of Sha'ban, and stayed there throughout the months of Sha’ban, Ramadhan, Shawwal and Dhu al-Qa’dah, and left Makkah on Tuesday, eight of Dhu al-Hijjah, the Day of Tarwiyah, the very day Muslim bin ‘Aqil launched his uprising.
The people of Makkah started frequenting [al-Husayn (as)] and so did others who had come for the ‘umrah, and those from other places.
Ibn al-Zubair was among those who used to come to see [the Imam (as)]. Sometimes he would come for two consecutive days and sometimes once after every two days. Ibn al-Zubair well knew that the people of Hijaz would never follow or pay allegiance to him so long as al-Husayn (as) was in the city, and that the latter was more revered in their eyes and that the people would obey [al-Husayn] more than they would obey him.2
One day [Ibn al-Zubair] talked to the Imam (as) for a while saying: “I do not know why we distanced [ourselves] from these people [i.e. the Banu Umayyah] and abstained from [rising against] them while we are the sons of the muhajirun and [more entitled] to this position than they are! Tell me what do you intend to do.”
Al-Husayn (as) replied: “By Allah! I am thinking of going towards Kufah, for my followers (shi‘ah) and the noblemen in the city have written to me about this, and I pray to Allah for the best.”
Ibn al-Zubair said to him: “If I had the like of your followers in Kufah, I would not have abandoned going there!”
[Having said this,] Ibn al-Zubair feared that the Imam might doubt his intentions [and think that he wants him to leave Makkah so that he could then secure the support of the people for himself,] so he [immediately] said: “However, if you stay in Hijaz and pursue your aim [of attaining the caliphate], you will not face opposition by the will of Allah.” Ibn al-Zubair then stood up and left.
[After Ibn al-Zubair went away,] al-Husayn (as) said: “There is nothing more lovable in this world for this man than my departure from Hijaz to Iraq. He understands that he would not attain [the caliphate] so long as I am there, and that the people do not consider him to be on par with me. He longs me to leave [Makkah] so that the city should be solely for him.”3,4
When [al-Husayn (as)] decided to go to Kufah, Ibn ‘Abbas came to him and said: “O my cousin, the people have spread rumours that you are advancing towards Iraq, so [please] explain to me what you intend to do.”
[Al-Husayn (as)] replied: “I am determined to leave in the coming one or two days5, if Allah wills.”
Ibn ‘Abbas said to him: “I then seek refuge for you with Allah in this regard. Tell me, may Allah have mercy on you, are you moving towards a people who have [already] killed their governor and taken control of their city and have expelled their enemy? If they have done all this [and prepared the grounds], then go to them. But if they are [inviting you] while they are still under the subjugation of their governor and his officers are collecting taxes from [them], then they have certainly invited you to war and fighting. I fear that they will deceive you, lie to you, oppose and abandon you, and that they may [even] fight against you and prove to be the most severe people against you!”
Al-Husayn (as) replied: “I pray to Allah for the best and I will see what is going to happen.”6
In the evening [of that day] or the next morning Ibn ‘Abbas once again came to the Imam (as) and said: “O my cousin! I tried to remain patient but could not. Indeed, I am apprehensive of your death and annihilation should you take this direction! The people of Iraq are a treacherous community, so never get closer to them! Stay in this city for you are the master of the people of Hijaz. If at all the people of Iraq want you -as they have claimed, then write and ask them to [first] expel their enemy [from their city], then make a move towards them. But if you still want to leave [this city], then go to Yemen; for it has got fortresses and mountain paths, and it is a vast and spacious land. From there you can send out your men to invite people to support you. I hope that in this way you can achieve your aim in a safer way.”
Al-Husayn (as) answered him: “My cousin, Verily, By Allah I know that you are sincere7 and caring but I have resolved on the journey!”
Ibn ‘Abbas then said: “Now that you are going, do not take your women and young children with you, for -by Allah- I fear that you might get killed.”8
‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham al-Makhzumi9 says: “When al-Husayn (as) was ready for the journey towards Iraq, I came to him, praised and glorified Allah, and then said: “My cousin, I have come to give you a piece of advice. If you are ready to accept my advice, [then that is fine], otherwise I will restrain myself from what I intend to say.”
Al-Husayn (as) said: “Say [what you want to say]. For by Allah, I do not consider you a person with unsound opinions, or evil intentions and deeds.”
He then said: “I have come to learn that you intend to go to Iraq, but I am concerned about you should you undertake this journey. You are moving towards a city which has its [own] rulers and governers and who have treasure houses at their disposal. Indeed people are slaves of these dirhams and dinars. I fear that those people will come to fight you who have promised you their support and to whom you are more beloved than the one they will be fighting for against you.”
Al-Husayn (as) replied: “May Allah reward you with good, O my cousin. By Allah, I know that you have given [me] a good advice and have spoken with wisdom. But whatever is decreed shall come to pass. I consider you a praiseworthy and sincere adviser, whether I act on your advice or not.”10
‘Abdullah bin Sulaim [al-Asadi] and Mudhri bin Mushma’il [al-Asadi] say: “We set out to Makkah as pilgrims and entered [the city on] the Day of Tarwiyah. [We were in Masjid al-Haram] when we suddenly saw al-Husayn (as) and ‘Abdullah bin al-Zubair standing between the [black] stone and the door of the Ka’bah. So we drew near them and heard Ibn al-Zubair saying to al-Husayn (as): “If you like to stay [in Makkah], you can do so and assume the leadership [as well]. We shall support and help you, be sincere to you and pay allegiance to you.”
So Ibn al-Zubair said to him: “Get closer to me O son of Fatimah, so al-Husayn (as) lent his ear to him and he whispered something to him. [‘Abdullah and Mudhri say that] al-Husayn (as) then turned to us and said: “Do you know what Ibn al-Zubair is saying?”
“We do not know, may Allah make us your ransom”, we said.
[Al-Husayn (as)] said: “He told me: ‘Stay in this mosque and I will gather the people around you.’”
Then al-Husayn (as) said: “By Allah, it is more lovable for me to be killed a span away from the [haram] than to be killed inside it by just a span! I swear by Allah, even if I were to be in the hole of an insect, [these people] will pull me out [of it] in order to get what they want from me. By Allah, I shall be wronged [and the law of Allah be violated in my regard] as the Jews had violated the [sanctity of the] Sabbath.”13,14
When al-Husayn (as) was departing from Makkah, the messengers of ‘Amru bin Sa’id bin al-Ass15
led by Yahya bin Sa’id16 sought to block his way. They said to him: “Withdraw! Where are you going?”, but he refused. The two groups came to blows and hit at each other with whips. Al-Husayn (as) continued his journey.
Then they called out: “O Husayn! Do you not fear Allah?! You are detaching yourself from the community and [trying] to cause division within this nation!”
‘Ali bin al-Husayn bin ‘Ali [(as), i.e. the fourth Imam] says: “When we left Makkah ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib 19 sent a letter to Husayn bin ‘Ali (as) with his two sons: ‘Aun and Muhammad20 [saying]:
“I ask you for the sake of Allah to return as you receive my letter; for I am very concerned because the direction in which you are heading will have within it your destruction and the extirpation of your family. If you are destroyed today, the light of [guidance on] the earth will be extinguished; for you are the standard of the [rightly] guided ones and the hope of the believers. Do not hurry on your journey as I am following this letter. That is all.”
[In the meanwhile,] ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far went to see ‘Amru bin Sa’id bin al-Ass and talk to him and said: “Write a letter to al-Husayn (as) and guarantee him protection and promise him kind treatment [by being] trustful in your letter. Ask him to return, may be he will trust your word and return. Send the letter with your brother Yahya bin Sa’id; for [al-Husayn] will have confidence in him more than [any other person] and will acknowledge that you are serious.”
‘Amru bin Sa’id said: “Write what you like and then bring it to me for the stamp.”
So ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far wrote:
“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. From ‘Amru bin Sa’id to Husayn bin ‘Ali: I pray to Allah to save you from what shall cause your destruction and guide you to what shall lead you to the right course. I have come to learn that you have set out for Iraq. I warn you against [causing] discord; for I fear that you will be destroyed because of that. I am sending to you ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far and Yahya bin Sa’id, so come to me along with them and you shall be given protection and treated with kindness and enjoy [my] good neighbourhood. And I take Allah to be a witness, a guarantor, a guardian and a protector for [all I have said]. Peace be upon you.”
‘Abdullah then brought the letter to ‘Amru bin Sa’id and said: “Seal it” and he did so. Thereafter, ‘Abdullah and Yahya bin Sa’id [set out towards al-Husayn (as)] with the letter. [When they reached,] Yahya read the letter to him.
Al-Husayn (as) wrote [in reply]: “He who invites the people towards Allah, the Almighty, the Majestic, and does good and says: I am one of the Muslims, has not stood in opposition to Allah and his Messenger. Indeed you have invited [me] to [your] protection and kindness but the best protection (aman) is the protection of Allah. He will never grant His protection on the Day of Judgment to one who does not fear him in this world. We therefore pray to Allah to confer on us [his] fear in this world so that it may earn us His protection on the Day of Judgment. If by your letter you were intending to show [your] kindness and benevolence towards me, then may Allah reward you in this world and the hereafter. That is all.”
Thereafter both of them returned to [‘Umar bin Sa’id]. They said: “We read the letter to him and tried our best [to convince him to return]. Among the excuses he put forward to us was that: “I have seen the Messenger of Allah (S) in a dream and I have been commanded in it with a task which I am [now] advancing to carry it out, be it against me or in my favour.”
They asked him: “What was the dream about?”
- 1. Al-Tabari says: “And in this year -60 H- Yazid dismissed Walid bin ‘Utbah in the month of Ramadhan [from the governership of Madinah] and replaced him with ‘Amru bin Sa’id bin al-‘Ass al-Ashdaq who reached the city in the same month. Al-Ashdaq was eloquent and a very proud person (5:343). It has also been reported in a narration that he entered the city in Dhu al-Qa’dah of the year 60 H (5:346).” Al-Tabari also writes: “In this year [60 H] Yazid bin Mu’awiyah dismissed Walid bin ‘Utbah from Makkah and appointed ‘Amru bin Sa’id bin al-‘Ass as the governor of both Makkah and Madinah in the month of Ramadhan of the same year. ‘Amru bin Sa’id led the people to pilgrimage on the same year while he was Yazid’s governer in both the cities.” (5:399)
- 2. Al-Tabari (5:351): “Abu Mikhnaf says: “‘Abd al-Rahman bin Jundab has narrated to me saying that ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an, the servant of Rubab, the daughter of Imru’ al-Qais and the wife of al-Husayn (as), related to me that…”
- 3. Al-Tabari (5:383): “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘Harith bin Ka’b al-Walibi has related to me from ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an that…”
- 4. The mental attitude and the treacherous and hypocritical nature of these people was not concealed from the Imam (as), but he could not express what he knew of his fate to everyone who met him. One cannot reveal all one knows, especially after taking into consideration the difference in the level of understanding of the people. Therefore, the Imam (as) used to reply everyone according to his capacity of understanding. It should be observed here that Ibn al-Zubair was not against the rising of the Imam (as), as he motivated him to do that. His only point was about the time and place of rising.
- 5. Since the Imam [a’] departed from Makkah in the afternoon of the Day of Tarwiyah [i.e. eight of Dhu al-Hijjah] as the pilgrims were heading towards Mina (5:385), this conversation with Ibn ‘Abbas must have taken place on the sixth day of Dhu al-Hijjah. Thus, the news of the Imam’s intention to leave for Iraq must have spread among the people at most two days before this, that is, on the fourth; and there is nothing to indicate that anything was known about his journey earlier than that. So what happened during these days that made the Imam (as) leave on the Day of Tarwiyah and before the completion of the hajj, after having stayed in the city for [more than] four months? Yes, Muslim had sent a letter [to the Imam (as)] 27 days before his martyrdom, that is on the 20th of Dhu al-Qa’dah -and since it took around ten days for a letter to reach [Makkah from Kufah] in those days, the letter must have reached the Imam (as) towards the end of this month or in the beginning of Dhu al-Hijjah-, but still that does not suffice as a reason for him not to complete the hajj which would have taken another four days only!
Farazdaq, the poet, had asked the Imam (as) about this saying: “What made you leave the hajj incomplete?” “I would have been caught had I not hurried”, he replied (al-Tabari:5:386). And this is why Shaikh al-Mufid says: “When al-Husayn (as) intended to leave for Iraq, he circumambulated the Ka’bah and performed the sa’y between Safa and Marwa and came out of his ihram and concluded his hajj as ‘umrah; for he was unable to complete (tamam) the pilgrimage in fear of being caught and taken to Yazid bin Mu’awiyah. Hence, the Imam (as) immediately departed from Makkah (al-Irshad, pg.218).
Mu’awiyah bin ‘Ammar narrates from Imam al-Sadiq (as) that: “Al-Husayn (as) performed ‘umrah in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah and set off to Iraq on the Day of Tarwiyah while the pilgrims were heading to Mina. There is no objection in performing ‘umrah in [the month of] Dhu al-Hijja for one who does not intend to perform hajj.”
Ibrahim bin ‘Umar al-Yamani narrates that he asked al-Sadiq (as) about a person who goes to ‘umrah during the months of hajj and then returns back to his city [without performing hajj]. The Imam (as) replied: “There is no objection.” He then continued till he said: “Husayn bin ‘Ali (as) set out for Iraq on the Day of Tarwiyah while he had [only] performed ‘umrah.” (Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah:10:246)
It is for this very reason that Shaikh al-Shushtari says: “They made every effort to catch him or assassinate him, even if he was found clinging to the covering of the Ka’bah! Therefore, he changed his decision and performed ‘umrah al-mufradah and had to leave the hajj (Khasa’is al-Husayniyyah: pg.32; Tabriz edition).
In A’lam al-Wara, in a separate section allocated for the reports on the journey of Imam [al-Husayn (as)] and his martyrdom, Shaikh al-Tabrasi brings approximately the same particular section which has appeared in al-Irshad of Shaikh al-Mufid, without any mention of it. Al-Tabrasi quotes, as it is, what al-Mufid said except for the phrase ‘tamam al-hajj’ where he says ‘itmam al-hajj’. The latter phrase is incorrect –and the error might probably have been from the transcribers [of al-Tabrasi’s work], since there is a clear difference [in meaning] between the two [phrases]; for the word itmam, unlike tamam, implies that the Imam (as) had actually put on the ihram for hajj.
However, it is equally probable that there are inconsistencies in the different copies of al-Irshad itself; for Shaikh al-Qarashi (3:50) quotes al-Mufid from al-Irshad (pg.243), in the same manner as al-Tabrasi has done, by bringing the phrase itmam al-hajj; while in the Haidariyyah edition of al-Irshad (pg.218), we find the phrase tamam al-hajj, which is correct.
- 6. Al-Tabari (5:383): “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘Harith bin Ka’b al-Walibi narrated to me from ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an that…” It is worthy of note here that Ibn ‘Abbas was not opposed to the rising of the Imam (as), rather he was doubting the establishment of the necessary grounds for it, and the Imam (as) does not refute him in this regard, as it is evident.
- 7. The Imam (as) wanted to show that he knew that what Ibn ‘Abbas said was out of sincerity, care and love [for him]. So he is not against the rising of the Imam (as), rather he doubts the fulfillment of the necessary conditions for it. The Imam (as) also does not refute him in what he said, instead he tells him that even in this case he is determined to rise; because he had felt the necessity to rise for the sake of the continuation of the divine Shari’ah.
- 8. Al-Tabari (5:383): “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘Harith bin Ka’b al-Walibi related to me from ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an that…”
- 9. Al-Tabari: He was appointed by Ibn al-Zubair as the governor of Kufah during the time of Mukhtar in 66 H. He had sent Zaidah bin Qudamah al-Thaqafi towards Mukhtar with five hundred men and seventy thousand dirhams in order to drive him back by offering him the money, or to fight him in case he rejected that. So Mukhtar accepted the money and went to Basrah (6:71). What ‘Umar is narrating here of the Imam's commendation about him is actually being reported by himself [and does not carry much weight]. His grandfather was Harith bin Hisham, the brother of Abu Jahl bin Hisham, who was the enemy of the Holy Prophet (S). We have mentioned about him in the introduction.
- 10. Al-Tabari (5:382): “Hisham narrates from Abu Mikhnaf that: “Saq’ab bin Zuhair related to me from ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-Rahman [saying]…”
- 11. Al-Tabari (5:384): “Abu Minkhaf says: ‘Abu Janab Yahya bin Abi Hayyah narrated to me from ‘Adiyy bin Harmalah al-Asadi who related from ‘Abdullah that…”
- 12. Kabsh is a male sheep who most of the time moves ahead of a flock. It is for this reason that ‘leaders’ are usually likened to it. By this speech, the Imam (as) intended to remind Ibn al-Zubair only if it were to benefit him, “For admonition indeed benefits the faithful.”
- 13. Al-Tabari (5:385): “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘I report from Abu Sa’id ‘Aqisa, who narrated from some of his companions…”
- 14. This is the best and the shortest reply by which the Imam (as) answered all the questions raised upto this point; this was by indicating that he was being [constantly] pursued wherever he went and that he was going to be attacked. Therefore, he decided to leave Makkah avoiding to become the ram mentioned by his father, the Commander of the Faithful (as). He thus left Makkah for this very reason fleeing with his family lest the sanctity of [the haram] be violated with his blood. If he was to depart from Makkah, then the best course for him was to proceed to Kufah and attend to the needs of his followers (shi‘ah), thus, leaving no room for any excuse on their part, “so that mankind may not have any argument against Allah, after the [sending of the] apostles” (Qur’an, 4:165), and so that no one should say: “Why did you not send us a messenger as a warner, and appoint for us a guide so that we would have followed your signs.” If he did not go to Kufah, where else could he go, when the earth had become narrow for him inspite of its expanse?
- 15. Al-Tabari: When ‘Amru bin Sa’id became the governor of Madinah he summoned ‘Ubaidullah bin Abi Rafi’ – the scribe of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib– and asked him: “Who is your master?” “The Messenger of Allah”, he replied. So he whipped him hundred lashes. Again ‘Amru asked him: “Whose slave are you?” and he answered: “The Messenger of Allah.” So he whipped him another hundred lashes. Every time ‘Amru asked him the question he received the same answer from ‘Ubaidullah until he had whipped him 500 lashes. When ‘Amru repeated his question [for the sixth time,] ‘Ubaidullah replied: “Your slave” [and so he left him]. [After sometime,] when ‘Abd al-Malik killed ‘Amru bin Sa’id, ‘Ubaidullah bin Abi Rafi’ composed a poem thanking his killer. ‘Abu Rafi’ was [once] the slave of Abu Ahyahah Sa’id bin al-Ass -the older. After him his sons inherited Abu Rafi’ from him. Three of these sons freed their portion of his servitude all of whom were killed in the battle of Badr. Khalid bin Sa’id [the fourth of the brothers] gifted his share of Abu Rafi’ to the Messenger of Allah (S) and the Prophet freed him (3:170).
‘Amru bin Sa’id was the one who fought Ibn al-Zubair (5:343) and lashed between fourty to sixty times each of those who were fond of Ibn al-Zubair in Madinah, among them being Muhammad bin ‘Ammar bin Yasir (5:344). ‘Amru rejoiced when the news of al-Husayn’s martyrdom reached him. When he heard the wails of the women of Banu Hashim as they mourned al-Husayn (as) he said: “These cries are in compensation for the cries on ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan!” Then, he ascended the pulpit and announced the news (5:466).
[Later,] Yazid was informed that ‘Amru bin Sa’id was treating Ibn al-Zubair with kindness, so he dismissed him [from his position] in Dhu al-Hijjah of 61 H (5:477). As a result, ‘Amru went to Yazid and apologized to him (5:479). His father was Sa’id bin al-Ass, Mu’awiyah's governor in Madinah (5:241).
- 16. Al-Tabari: He was the brother of ‘Amru bin Sa’id. On the day ‘Amru was killed in the palace of ‘Abd al-Malik in Sham, Yahya came to his help with one thousand men from among his followers, servants and slaves but they were all defeated and Yahya was imprisoned. Later, he was freed and joined Ibn al-Zubair (6:143-147). Then he went to Kufah and sought refuge with his maternal uncles from the tribe of Ju’fi. When ‘Abd al-Malik entered Kufah and people paid him allegiance, he also swore allegiance to him and asked for protection (6:162).
- 17. Qur’an, 10:41.
- 18. Al-Tabari (5:385): “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘Harith bin Ka’b al-Walibi narrated to me from ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an that…”
- 19. Al-Tabari: He was with the Commander of the Faithful in the battle of Jamal and assisted him in taking ‘Aishah back to Madinah (4:510). ‘Abdullah was among those whom the Commander of the Faithful used to consult when he was in Kufah and it was him who proposed to [‘Ali (as)] to appoint Muhammad bin Abi Bakr over Egypt. Muhammad was the half brother of ‘Abdullah through his mother (4:554). He was with [‘Ali] in Siffin and used to constantly protect him by moving ahead of him (5:148). ‘Abdullah accompanied al-Hasan (as) [also] in his movement (5:160) and returned to Madinah with both of them [i.e. ‘Ali and al-Hasan] (5:165). His two sons Muhammad and ‘Aun were with al-Husayn (as) [in Karbala’]. When he received the news of their martyrdom, he said: “By Allah, had I witness their fight, I would have loved not to part from them until I was killed with them” (5:466).
- 20. Al-Tabari (5:469): They were martyred along with al-Husayn (as). With regard to ‘Aun, his mother was Jamanah, the daughter of Musayyib bin Najabah al-Fazari who was among the leaders of the Tawwabun movement. As for Muhammad, his mother was Khausa’ bint Khasafah bin Thaqib from the tribe of Bakr bin Wa’il.
- 21. Al-Tabari (5:388): “Abu Mikhnaf Says: ‘Harith bin Ka’b al-Walibi narrated to me from ‘Ali bin al-Husayn that…”
- 22. The Imam (as) could not disclose what he knew of his fate to anyone who met him; for one cannot reveal all one knows, especially after taking into consideration the difference in the level of understanding of the people. Therefore, the Imam (as) used to reply everyone according to his capacity of understanding. The Imam (as) revealed to these people the actual answer when he said: “He who invites the people towards Allah, the Almighty, the Sublime, and does good… has not stood in opposition to Allah and his Messenger… the best protection is the protection of Allah. He shall never grant protection on the Day of Judgment to one who does not fear him in this world. We therefore pray to Allah to confer on us [his] fear in this world so that it may earn us His protection on the Day of Judgment.” But since these people were not convinced by this answer from him, he instead told them that he was commissioned with a task in a dream in which he saw the Holy Prophet (S). Yet he did not reveal to them the actual dream but contented himself by saying: “I will not disclose it until I meet my Lord.”
It was probably from here that Ahmad bin al-A’tham al-Kufi (d.310 H) talked of the dream of the Imam (as) at the grave of his grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (S), in Madinah. But where is this from ?, when the Imam (as) himself said that he was not going to reveal it [to anyone] until he meets his Lord! Therefore, [Ibn al-A’tham] is solely responsible for what he has said. And Allah knows best about this.