On the seventh day, the siege around the Master of Martyrs (‘a) and those with him intensified, and they were blocked completely from reaching the water. Their water supply had already depleted, so each one of them had to deal with the flames of the thirst on his or her own.
Naturally, the children were moaning on account of the pain of thirst. Some of them were pleading for water while others were trying anything they could think of to quench their thirst.
All of this was taking place before the eyes of Abu ‘Abdullah and the honourable ones of his family and companions. But what could he have done since swords and lances stood between them and the water? Yet the man who quite often served water to the thirsty could not tolerate that condition any longer.
At that juncture, al-Husayn (‘a) assigned his brother al-’Abbas to shoulder this responsibility. The latter had already been burning with the desire to do just that. Al-Husayn (‘a) asked him to bring water for the ladies and the children, giving him command over a detachment of twenty men each carrying a water bag.
They went to the Euphrates at night paying no attention to those who were charged with guarding the watering place. After all, they were in the company of the lion of Muhammad's Progeny (‘a). Nafi’ Ibn Hilal al-Jamli advanced, so ‘Amr Ibn al-Hajjaj shouted at him to identify himself.
He said to him, “We came to drink of this water from which you have prohibited us.” “Drink then and cool your eyes,” said he, “but do not carry of it to al-Husayn.” Nafi’ said, “No, by Allah, I shall never drink one drop while al-Husayn and the Ahl al-Bayt with him and their supporters are thirsty.”
He then called upon his companions to fill their water bags. It was then that those under the command of Ibn al-Hajjaj attacked them. Some of them kept watering their bags anyway while others were defending them headed by the one who grew up in the very lap of Hayderi bravery, namely Abul-Fadhl, al-’Abbas.
They brought the water while none of their enemies could even contemplate getting near them out of fear of that same brave hero. The ladies and the children, hence, were able to quench their thirst.2
We cannot overlook the fact that the amount of water brought to them was very little. What could that quantity do to a band that numbered more than a hundred and fifty men, women, and children, or maybe even two hundred, all parched by thirst, drinking no more than once? Soon thirst returned to them; so, to Allah and to His Messenger is one's complaint.
- 1. These lines are excerpted from a poem by Sayyid Ja’far al-Hilli, may Allah fill his grave with noor.
- 2. Maqtal Muhammad Ibn Abu Talib. According to this report, their seeking water must have taken place on the seventh day which may explain why the seventh day is dedicated to the memory of al-’Abbas. According to p. 95, majlis 3, of as-Saduq's Amali, Imam al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (‘a) dispatched his son ‘Ali al-Akbar with thirty horsemen and twenty footmen to fetch water.
- 3. Excerpted from a poem by Shaikh Muhsin Abul-Habb al-Ha’iri, may Allah have mercy on his soul.