The Martyrdom of Habib bin Muzahir1
[Incensed at Habib’s comments,] Husayn bin Tamim [al-Tamimi] mounted an attack against them. Habib bin MuZahir [al-Asadi] went out to meet him. He struck the face of his horse with [his] sword. The horse reared up and [Husayn] fell from it. His companions carried him away and rescued him.
Habib then started saying:
I am Habib and my father is MuZahir, a furious cavalier [amidst] a burning battle.
You are more prepared and greater in number [than us], [but] we are more loyal and patient [than you].
We are the best proof and our being on the truth is more apparent, we are more pious than you and have better excuse [than you do].
He also used to say:
I swear had we been equal to you in number or half of you, you would have turned your backs to us in large numbers.
O most wicked of people in deeds and lineage!
[Habib] fought a fierce battle. A man from the Banu Tamim called Budail bin Suraim attacked him and stabbed him and he fell [to the ground]. As he tried to get up, Husayn bin Tamim [al-Tamimi] struck him on his head with the sword and he [again] fell [down]. The man from the [Banu] Tamim then went to him and beheaded him.2,3
Al-Husayn was broken by the the martyrdom of Habib bin Mu³ahir. He said: “I anticipate a reward from Allah for myself and [my] supporters from among my companions.”
Thereafter, Hurr went out. He began reciting these verses:
I am Hurr, [whose house] is renowned for its hospitality, I will strike in their midst with my sword.
[In defence] of the best of those who have been in Mina and al-Khaif, [I will strike them, and I do not see any wrong [in doing so].
He also said:
I have sworn that I will not be killed until after I have killed, and I will not be struck today except while facing [them].
I give them a cutting blow with [my] sword, neither will I desist from them nor will I get frightened.
Zuhair bin Qain [also] came out with him. They both fought a fierce battle. If one of them launched an attack and was surrounded [by the enemy], the other would [come to his help by] attacking them and free him. They continued [to combat] in this way for sometime until the foot soldiers [of the enemy] intensified [their attacks] on Hurr bin Yazid and he was killed. [May Allah shower his mercy on him.]
Al-Husayn (as) then led them for the prayers of those in fear (salat al-khawf).4 [Sa’id bin ‘Abdullah al-Hanafi] stood in front of him. He thus became their target and [the enemy] began shooting arrows at him left and right. He continued to be shot at as he remained standing in front of [al-Husayn (as)], until he fell to the ground. [May Allah have mercy on him].
[Then Zuhair bin Qain came forward]. He began tapping the shoulder of al-Husayn (as) while he recited:
Be firm, you have been guided, the guide and the guided; today you will meet your grandfather, the Prophet.
And Hasan and ‘Ali, the chosen one; and the one with the two wings [Ja’far], the brave martyr.
And the Lion of Allah [i.e. Hamzah], the living martyr.
He fought severely as he said:
I am Zuhair and I am the son of al-Qain, I will drive you away from the family of al-Husayn with my sword.5
Kathir bin ‘Abdullah al-Sha’bi and Muhajir bin Aws attacked him and killed him. [May Allah have mercy on him].
Nafi’ bin Hilal al-Jamali6 had written his name on the head of his arrows. He began to shoot [the enemy] with the marked arrows saying: “I am Jamali, I follow the religion of ‘Ali.” He killed twelve [men] from among the followers of ‘Umar bin Sa‘d, apart from those who were injured.
Nafi’ [was injured during the fight] and his arms were broken. Shamir bin Dhi al-Jaushan and his followers took him as a captive and carried him to ‘Umar bin Sa‘d as blood flowed down his beard.
‘Umar bin Sa‘d said to him: “Woe onto you O Nafi! What led you to do [all] this with yourself?”
Nafi’ replied: “My Lord knows what I intended. By Allah, I have killed twelve among your [men] apart from those I wounded. I do not blame myself for the trouble [I am in]. Had I been left with only an arm, you would not have taken me as a captive!”
Shamir said to [Ibn Sa‘d]: “Kill him, may Allah guide you!”
He replied: “You can kill him, if you wish.”
Shamir unsheathed his sword. So Nafi’ said to him: “By Allah, were you a Muslim, it would have been distressing for you to meet Allah with our blood [on your hands]! All praise is due to Allah who put our death in the hands of the wicked among his creatures.”
Shamir then killed him. [May Allah have mercy on him].
When the companions of al-Husayn (as) realized that they were unable to defend al-Husayn and theirselves [from the enemy], they began vying [with each other] to be killed in his presence.
‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Rahman, the [two] sons of ‘Azarah al-Ghifari came to him and said: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! Peace be on you. The enemy is gaining control over us. We would like to be killed before you, defending and protecting you.”
[Al-Husayn (as)] said: “You are [all] welcomed. Get closer to me.” So they came closer to him. Thereafter, they started fighting while one of them was reciting:
Banu Ghifar have well known, and so has Khindaf and Banu Nizar.
[That] we shall strike the community of the wicked [people], with the sharp and cutting sword.
O people defend the sons of the free men, with strong swords and dangerous lances.
[Then they fought before him a furious battle until they were killed. [May Allah have mercy on them].
Thereafter, the two young men from the Banu Jabir, Saif bin al-Harith bin Suray’ and Malik bin ‘Abd bin Suray’ –who were cousins from their father’s side and also half brothers, came to al-Husayn (as) and got closer to him weeping.
[Al-Husayn (as)] said: “O sons of my brother, what makes you weep? For I hope, by Allah, that you are soon going to be delighted.”
They replied: “May Allah make us you ransom! Nay by Allah, we are not weeping on ourselves, rather we are crying for you. We see that you have been encircled [with the enemy] while we are not able to defend you.”
He said: “O sons of my brother, may Allah reward you for your grief at that and for helping me with your persons, with the best of the reward of the pious ones.”
Then, the two young men began advancing [towards the battlefield], while they kept looking back over their shoulders at al-Husayn (as) and saying: “Peace be upon you, O son of the Prophet of Allah!” [Al-Husayn (as)] replied: “Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you.”
They fought until they were killed. [May Allah have mercy on them].
HanZalah bin As‘ad al-Shabami came forward and stood in front of al-Husayn (as) and began addressing [the army of Ibn Sa‘d]:
“O my people! Indeed I fear for you a day like the day of the [heathen] factions; like the case of the people of Nuh, of ‘Ad and Thamud, and those who were after them, and Allah does not desire any wrong for [His] servants. O my people! Indeed I fear for you a day of mutual distress calls, a day when you will turn back [to flee], not having anyone to protect you from Allah, and whomever Allah leads astray has no guide.”7 O people, do not kill al-Husayn, lest Allah should annihilate you with [his] punishment. ‘Whoever fabricates lies certainly fails’.”8
Al-Husayn (as) said to him: “O son of As’ad! May Allah have mercy on you! These people have [already] been entitled to the punishment [from Allah] when they rejected your call to the truth and rose to destroy you and your colleagues. Let alone now that they have already killed your righteous brothers.”
He said: “You have said the truth, may I be your ransom! You are more learned than me and you are worthier for that [too]. Are we not going to proceed to the hereafter (akhirah) and join our brothers [i.e. has not the time come for us to join them]?”
[Al-Husayn (as)] replied: “Advance to [the abode] which is better than this world and all it contains. [Depart] to the kingdom which never perishes.”
[HanZalah] then said: “Peace be on you, O Aba ‘Abdillah. May Allah bless you and your family. May Allah introduce us to each other in his Heaven.”
[Al-Husayn (as)] said: “Amin, amin.”
[HanZalah al-Shabami] then went out and fought until he was killed. [May Allah have mercy on him].
The Martyrdom of ‘Abis bin Abi Shabib and His Retainer9
‘Abis bin Abi Shabib al-Shakiri came forward together with his Shaudhab, his retainer, and asked him: “O Shaudhab, what are you intending to do?”
[Shaudhab] replied: “What should I do? I will fight along with you in defence of the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (S) until I am killed.”
[‘Abis] said: “That is what [I] expected of you. If you are not going to leave [him], then go forward and fight before Abi ‘Abdillah, so that he may anticipate a reward from Allah in the hereafter because of your [martyrdom] as he did with regard to his other companions. I also will [have the opportunity to] do the same; for if I had anyone, at this moment, on whom I had a greater claim than I have on you, I would have been happy if he would go to fight before me, so that I may anticipate [from Allah] a reward for that. This is the day in which we should seek the reward [of Allah] through whatever means possible. Indeed there is no [room for performing] deeds after today, all that remains is the reckoning (hisab).”
Shaudhab then came forward and greeted al-Husayn (as). [He sought his permission and] thereafter went [to the battlefield]. He fought until he was killed. [May Allah have mercy on him].
‘Abis bin Abi Shabib then said: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! By Allah, there is no one on the face of this earth, from among [my] kin or distant ones, who is more beloved and dearer to me than you are. If I was able to ward off oppression and death from you with something dearer to me than my life and blood, I would have done so. Peace be upon you, O Aba ‘Abdillah. I take Allah as a witness that I am on your path and the path of your father.”
He then walked towards [the enemy] with the sword drawn. It was with it that he was struck on his forehead.10
Rabi’ bin Tamim [al-Hamdani] says: “When I saw him coming, I recognized him. So I said: ‘O people! This is the black lion. This is Ibn Abi Shabib. No one among you should come out to face him!’
[‘Abis] began calling out: ‘Is not there anyone to fight me man to man?!’
‘Umar bin Sa‘d cried out: ‘Bring him to his knees by stoning him!’
So he was pelted from all sides. When ‘Abis saw this, he threw aside his armour and helmet and attacked the people furiously.”
[Rabi’ says:] “I swear by Allah, I saw him driving back more than two hundred [men] from the [enemy]! Thereafter, they surrounded him from all sides and he was killed. [May Allah have mercy on him].”11,12
Yazid bin Ziyad bin Muhasir, Abu Sha’tha’ al-Kindi, was among those who had come out with ‘Umar bin Sa‘d against al-Husayn (as). When [the people] rejected the conditions [and the offer] of al-Husayn (as), he got inclined to him [and then joined him]. He fought alongside al-Husayn (as) while he recited [the following verses] on that day:
I am Yazid and my father is Muhasir, braver than a lion who is asleep in the thicket.
O Lord I am a helper to al-Husayn, I have abandoned Ibn Sa‘d and parted [from him].13
[Yazid] was an archer. He knelt down before al-Husayn (as) and shot a hundred arrows [towards the enemy]. Only five of those [who were struck with the arrows] fell to the ground. Whenever he shot [an arrow], he would say: “I am the son of Bahdalah, the knight of [the day of] ‘Arjalah”, while al-Husayn (as) would pray: “O Allah, direct his shooting and make Heaven his reward.”
He then fought until he was killed. [May Allah have mercy on him].
[Then the four men who had come with Tirimmah bin ‘Adiyy to al-Husayn (as):] Jabir bin Harith al- Salmani, Mujammi’ bin ‘Abdillah al-‘A'idhi14, ‘Umar bin Khalid al-Saidawi and Sa‘d, the retainer of ‘Umar bin Khalid, went out attacking the people with their swords. After they penetrated [the army], the people surrounded them, having the upper hand over them and cutting them off from their companions.
So ‘Abbas bin ‘Ali attacked [the enemy] and saved them. Then they [again] launched an attack and fought until they were [all] killed at the same point.15 [May Allah have mercy on them].
The last to remain with al-Husayn (as) from among his companions were Suwaid bin ‘Amru bin Abi Muta’ al-Khath’ami16 and Bashir bin ‘Amru al-Hadhrami. [With regard to Bashir, he went out and fought until he was killed]. [May Allah have mercy on him].
As for Suwaid, he [also] went out and fought till he was exhausted and collapsed [unconscious].17 He fell amidst the bodies of those killed [in the battle] and his sword was snatched away.
When al-Husayn (as) was killed and he heard them saying: ‘Al-Husayn has been killed!’, he regained consciousness. He had a knife with him, so he [got up and] fought them with his knife for a while until Zayd bin Ruqad al-Janabi18 and ‘Urwah bin Battar al-Taghlabi killed him.
- 1. Al-Tabari: Habib was one of those who had written to the Imam (as) from among the Shiite leaders in Kufah (5:352). He answered Muslim bin ‘Aqil’s invitation for paying allegiance to the Imam (as) saying: “By Allah beside whom there is no other deity, I believe in what this man believes in, pointing towards ‘Abis bin Abi Shabib al-Shakiri (5:355). [Habib] had said to Qurrah bin Qais al-Han¨ali al-Tamimi, ‘Umar bin Sa’d’s messenger to al-Husayn (as) in Karbala’: “Woe onto you Qurrah bin Qais! How can you return to the unjust people? Help this man [i.e. al-Husayn], through whose ancestors Allah supported you and us with his grace (5:411). When Ibn Sa’d moved towards al-Husayn (as) in the evening of the ninth of Muharram and proceeded against him after the ‘asr prayers, ‘Abbas bin ‘Ali (as) went to see him alongwith around twenty horsemen, among them being Habib bin Mu¨ahir. While ‘Abbas had gone to the Imam (as) to inform him about the situation, some of the companions remained [with the enemy] admonishing them. Among them was Habib who said: “By Allah, the most wretched of the people before Allah tomorrow are a people who shall meet him while they are guilty of having killed the children, progeny and household of His Prophet (S), and the devout men of this city who strive [in worship] at dawn and who remember Allah much (5:416). The Imam (as) had given him the command of his left wing (5:422). When [Habib] went to the help of Muslim bin ‘Awsajah, the latter advised him to help the Imam (as), to which he replied: “By the Lord of Ka’bah, I will do that” (5:436). Husayn bin Tamim boasted of killing [Habib] and hung his head on the chest of his horse. His son, Qasim bin Habib, avenged his father’s assasin, Budail bin Suraim al-Tamimi, as they were in the army of Mus’ab bin al-Zubair during the battle of Bajmira.
- 2. Al-Tabari (5:438-439): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Sulaiman bin Abi Rashid has narrated to me from Humaid bin Muslim that…”
- 3. [At this] Husayn said to Budail: “I have a share in killing him.” Budail retorted: “By Allah, no one other than me has killed him!” So Husayn said: “Give me [his head] and I will hang it on the chest of my horse, so that people may see that and come to know that I participated in killing him. You can take it after that and go to ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyad. I do not need the reward he is going to give you for killing him.” Budail did not accept this, but his colleagues mediated between the two to resolve the issue. Eventually, Budail gave him the head of Habib bin Mu¨ahir. So [Husayn] went round the army with the head, while he hung it on the neck of his horse. He later gave it to Budail. When they returned back to Kufah [after the event of Karbala’], Budail took the head of Habib and hung it on the chest of his horse and proceeded to the palace of Ibn Ziyad.
Qasim bin Habib bin Mu¨ahir, who was then a young man, happened to see him [with his father’s head]. So he followed him closely. Budail became suspicious and said: “Why are you following me, O my son?” Qasim replied: “This head which is with you is the head of my father. Give it back to me so that I can bury it.” Budail said: “My son! The governor will not give consent that it should be buried. And I want the governer to reward me handsomely for killing him.” The young man thus told him: “But Allah is not going to reward you for that except the worst of the rewards. By Allah, you have killed one who was better than yourself”, and he began to weep.
When Mus’ab bin al-Zubair invaded Bajmira, Qasim bin Habib had happened to join Mus’ab’s army. There he found his father’s assassin in one of the tents. He entered upon him at midday while he was resting. He struck him with the sword until he died (5:440).
- 4. It is also probable that he did not offer salat al-khawf, rather he shortened the prayers (qasr). The offering of the prayers on the noon of ‘Ashura’ has been related also in al-Irshad (pg.238) and al-Tadhkirah (pg.252 & 256).
- 5. See also Tadhkirat al-Khawass (pg.253; Najaf edition).
- 6. Al-Tabari: He was the one who sent his horse with Tirimmah bin ‘Adiyy to the Imam (as) when he was on his way to Kufah (5:405). When thirst became unbearable on the Imam (as) and his companions, he called upon his brother, ‘Abbas bin ‘Ali (as), and sent him with thirty horsemen and twenty foot soldiers [to bring water]. Nafi’ bin Hilal was moving ahead of them and was welcomed by ‘Amru bin al-Hajjaj [from the enemy’s army]. ‘Amru said to him: “Drink and enjoy”, and he replied: “Nay by Allah, I will not drink a drop from it while al-Husayn is thirsty” (5:412). When ‘Ali bin Qara¨ah, the brother of ‘Amru bin Qara¨ah al-Ansari, attacked al-Husayn (as), Nafi’ bin Hilal al-Muradi obstructed him, stabbed him and grappled with him (5:434).
- 7. Qur’an, 40:30-33.
- 8. Qur’an, 20:61.
- 9. Al-Tabari: When Muslim bin ‘Aqil read the letter of the Imam (as) to the people of Kufah, ‘Abis stood up and said, after praising Allah and extolling him: “Indeed I am not informing you about the people, nor do I know what is there in their hearts. I am not trying to deceive you of their condition either. By Allah! I am going to tell you about what I have prepared myself for. By Allah! I will answer you when you call. I will certainly be with you to fight your enemies. I will be striking [the enemy] with my sword in defence of you until I meet Allah. I want nothing from that except that which lies with Allah.” So Habib bin Mu¨ahir said to him: “May Allah have mercy on you. You have said what was in your heart by your brief talk” (5:355).
When Muslim bin ‘Aqil moved to the house of Hani bin ‘Urwah and 18,000 men paid allegiance to him, he sent ‘Abis bin Abi Shabib al-Shakiri with a letter to al-Husayn (as) telling him: “Come quickly [to Kufah]” (5:375).
- 10. Al-Tabari (5:444): “Numair bin Wa’lah related to me from a man from the Banu ‘Abd of Hamdan, who happened to witness that day…”
- 11. Al-Tabari (5:440): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Muhammad bin Qais narrated to me saying that…”
- 12. [Rabi’ says:] “I saw his head in the hands of a number of men, each of whom claimed to have killed him. So they came to ‘Umar bin Sa’d [to settle the matter] and he said: ‘Do not quarrel. This man has not been killed by a single spear [head]!’ This is how he settled the issue between them.”
- 13. This narration is from Fudhail bin Khudaij al-Kindi. [This report of Fudhail indicates that Abu al-Sha’tha’ was with ‘Umar bin Sa’d before he left him to join the Imam (as)]. It is probable that it was from the above verses that Fudhail concluded that Abu al-Sha’tha’ abandoned Ibn Sa’d and came to the help of the Imam (as) after the former rejected the Imam’s proposal. [In contrary, the earlier report from ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Jundab contradicts the report of Fudhail]. The report is as follows: ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Jundab relates from ‘Uqbah bin Sim’an that: “The messenger of Ibn Ziyad who brought his letter to Hurr al-Riyahi in Karbala’ was Malik bin al-Nusair al-Baddi al-Kindi. So Abu al-Sha’tha’ said to him: ‘May your mother be deprived of you! What kind of mission have you embarked upon? Malik replied: “I have not done so! I have [only] obeyed my leader and fulfilled my allegiance to him.” Abu al-Sha’tha’ said: “You have disobeyed your Lord and have obeyed your leader to your own destruction. You have earned [but] shame and hell fire! Allah, the Almighty, the Majestic, says: ‘And We made them leaders who invite [people] to the fire, and on the day of judgment they shall not receive any help.’ [Such] is your leader!” (al-Tabari:5:408). Now this report implies that Abu al-Sha’tha’ was with the Imam (as) before his arrival in Karbala’, rather even before he met Hurr al-Riyahi. And this point has remained unnoticed by both, Abu Mikhnaf and Tabari.
- 14. Al-Tabari (5:405): He is the one who informed al-Husayn (as) at ‘Udhaib al-Hijanat about the situation in Kufah saying: “As for the noblemen, they have been heavily bribed and their pockets filled. Their hearts have been won and their loyalty secured for them. [Now] they are all united against you! With regard to the rest of the people, their hearts are inclined towards you, but tomorrow their swords shall be drawn against you!”
- 15. Al-Tabari (5:445): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Fudhail bin Khudaij al-Kindi has related to me that…”
- 16. Al-Tabari (5:446): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Zuhair bin ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Zuhair al-Khath’ami narrated to me that…”
- 17. Al-Tabari (5:444): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Abdullah bin ‘Asim has related to me from Dahhak bin ‘Abdullah al-Mushriqi that…”
- 18. Al-Tabari: He is the assassin of ‘Abbas bin ‘Ali (as) (5:468). He shot ‘Abdullah bin Muslim bin ‘Aqil with an arrow. Regarding this he used to say: “I shot a young man from among them with an arrow [on his forehead]. He tried to protect himself by putting his hand on his forehead, but I fixed his hand to his forehead such that he was unable to take it off from it!” He then shot another arrow at the young man and killed him. On that he used to say: “He was dead when I got to him. I had to wrench the arrow off his forehead. I managed to take it off but its arrowhead was stuck on his forehead such that I was unable to take it out.”
Mukhtar had dispatched ‘Abdullah bin Kamil al-Shakiri to pursue him. The latter came to his house and surrounded it. His men forced their way [into the house] and al-Janabi came out with his sword drawn. Ibn Kamil said: “Shower him with arrows and stone him.” They did so until he fell to the ground. Ibn Kamil then ordered for fire and burnt him while he was still alive (6:64). Al-Janab was from the Banu Janab (6:64). In other books of history apart from al-Tabari, he is referred to as al-Juhani or al-Hanafi.
- 19. Al-Tabari (5:453): “[Abu Mikhnaf says:] ‘Zuhair bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Khath’ami has related to me that…”
- 20. Al-Tabari: “Abu Mikhnaf says: ‘‘Abdullah bin ‘Asim related to me from Dahhak bin ‘Abdullah al-Mushriqi who said: ‘When I saw that [all] the companions of al-Husayn (as) had been killed and that they had displayed their loyalty to him and his household, and that there remained no one with him except Suwaid bin ‘Amru bin Abi al-Muta’ al-Khath’ami and Bishr bin ‘Amru al-Hadhrami, I moved to [take] my horse -whom I had kept in one of the tents of our companions when I saw their horses being lamed [by the enemy]. Then I came out to fight on foot. I managed to kill two men in the presence of al-Husayn (as) and cut off the hand of another. Al-Husayn (as) was repeatedly telling me at that time: ‘May you not be crippled. May Allah not sever your hand. May Allah reward you the best on behalf of the household of your Prophet (S)!’ So I said to him: ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! Do you remember what was agreed between us, I had told you that I will fight defending you so long as there are others fighting [alongside me]. But if I do not see any other fighter [apart from myself], then I am free to go [and leave you]. And you had accepted this from me. So al-Husayn (as) said: ‘That is true, but how are you going to escape?! If you are able to do so, then you are free to go.”
[Dahhak says:] “When he granted me the permission, I brought out my horse from the tent and mounted it. I sat firmly on it and whipped it. When it reared up, I charged with it against the people and they opened up [the way] for me. Fifteen men from the [army] began to chase me until I reached Shufayyah, a village near the bank of the Euphrates. When they caught me there, I aroused their sympathy for me. [Here] Kathir bin ‘Abdullah al-Sha’bi, Ayyub bin Mushrih al-Khayawani and Qais bin ‘Abdullah al-Saidawi recognized me and said: ‘This is Dahhak bin ‘Abdullah al-Mushriqi. He is our cousin. We beseech you for the sake of Allah to leave him!’ Three men from the Banu Tamim who were with them said: ‘By Allah, we will indeed respond to our brothers who call on us to free their companion.” [Dahhak says:] “When the men from the Tamim agreed with [the request of my] clansmen, the rest [of them] held back. Thus, Allah saved me” (5:445).