The pilgrims had entered Mecca on the 8th of Zilhajj with full enthusiasm and eagerness. On the very day the pilgrims were supposed to depart for Mina and Arafat, Imam Al-Husayn (A) was leaving Mecca.
At that time, he delivered a famous sermon, which is narrated by Sayyid Ibn Tawoos. Then the Imam passed each stage of the journey till he reached near the Iraq border. What were the conditions in Kufa? What was going on there? Only God knows better.
On the way Imam Al-Husayn (A) saw a person who was coming from Kufa and was heading in the direction of the Imam. (In Arabia there were no one-way roads, so that people going to and fro may pass each other close by. It was a desert and a person coming from the opposite direction used to cross the person going that way at a long distance).
Eventually, the Imam waited for a while. He wanted to signal to the person coming from the opposite direction to stop so that he can speak to him. It is narrated that the person also knew Imam Al-Husayn (A) and had bad news with him.
He thought that if he met Imam Al-Husayn (A) the latter would surely ask him about Kufa and he will have to relate the bad news to him. The person did not want to give the bad news to the Imam, so he changed his route and went in another direction.
On the other hand two persons from Bani Asad tribe who were present in Mecca for Hajj intended to assist the Imam. Hence, they completed the Hajj rituals and set out at great speed in order to catch up with the Imam. When they were a station behind the Imam, they met the person coming from Kufa.
They exchanged greetings with him and as was the custom of Arabs, asked to which tribe he belonged. He replied that he was from Bani Asad. They were surprised and said that they too were from Bani Asad. They enquired about his father and grandfather and the person replied their questions till all of them recognized each other. After that, both of them asked that person about the news of Kufa.
He replied that there was very sad news about Kufa. He said, “Imam Al-Husayn (A) was going to Karbala from Mecca and he saw me and stopped. I knew that the Imam would enquire me about Kufa and I did not want to give him this unfortunate news. Therefore I changed my route.” Then he told them everything in detail.
These two men sped on and caught up with the Imam at the next station but did not talk to him about anything. They waited for the Imam to halt at the next stop. After passing by the man from Kufa, the Imam’s caravan had traveled for a day and a night before reaching that station. Imam (A) was in his tent along with some of his companions. These two men came to the Imam and said respectfully:
“O Aba Abdillah! We have news for you. Do you want us to tell you before everybody or in private?”
The Imam replied:
“I don’t hide anything from my companions. Say whatever you want in front of everybody.”
Hearing this, they said:
“O son of Allah’s Messenger! We met the person for whom you had halted yesterday and he did not meet you. He is a reliable person. We know him. He is from our tribe only. When we enquired about Kufa, he said that, when he left Kufa, Muslim Ibn Aqeel and Hani Ibn Urwah were martyred. Their bodies were tied with ropes and dragged through the streets of Kufa.”
When Imam Al-Husayn (A) got the grievous news of Muslim Ibn Aqeel’s (A) martyrdom, tears began to flow from his eyes but he recited the following verse immediately:
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least. (33:23)
On this occasion Imam Al-Husayn (A) did not say that Muslim Ibn Aqeel and Hani Ibn Urwah are martyred and Kufa is captured by enemies. We have lost the battle and therefore it is better that we return from here. Instead Imam said something, which pointed to a different aim.
The above mentioned verse is apparently related to the battle of Ahzab, in which some believers had kept the promise they made to Allah and laid their lives in the right path while others were waiting for their turn to sacrifice their lives. Imam Al-Husayn (A) recited this verse and said, “Muslim has fulfilled his obligation and now it’s our turn”.1
Now we must fulfill our obligation. At this, every companion expressed his opinion, which displayed their inner emotions. Some people who met Imam (A) on the way did not have the level of recognition as desired by Imam Al-Husayn (A).
Thus the Imam was upset and he separated them from himself. When they realized that they would not get everything on a platter after reaching Kufa, they left the Imam, as happens in most battles. Only his Ahl al-Bayt and special companions were left with him and they were very few (When those who had left the Imam woke up from their sleep of ignorance, one by one, they left Umar Ibn Saad’s army and joined Imam Al-Husayn).
At the time Imam Al-Husayn (A) received the news of Muslim’s (A) martyrdom, his companions did not even number twenty. You can estimate what Imam Al-Husayn (A) and his loyal companions would have felt at the news of the martyrdom of Muslim Ibn Aqeel and Hani Ibn Urwah.
The author of Lisan ul-Ghaib says that some historians have written that since Imam Al-Husayn (A) did not hide anything from his companions, hence, after receiving the news of Muslim’s martyrdom, it became necessary for him to visit the harem and inform ladies also of this news in spite of the presence of his cousin sister and other relatives in addition to his younger siblings. God knows how the oppressed Imam must have conveyed this terrible news to them!
The holy Imam (A) entered the tent and taking a seat called for Muslim’s (A) little daughter. When she came, Imam seated her in his lap and passed his hand over her head lovingly. This little girl of the family of Prophethood was very sensible. When she saw this extraordinary behavior of the Imam, she asked fearfully,
“O Aba Abdillah! O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is my father dead? That you are comforting me so much...?”2
Imam (A) was extremely moved on hearing this and he said:
“Daughter! I am also like your father. After your father, I will give love to you like a father.”
As the Imam said this, there was mayhem in the camp of Ahl al-Bayt.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) addressed the sons of Aqeel (A) and said:
“O sons of Aqeel! You have given the sacrifice of Muslim. This sacrifice is enough for the entire family of Aqeel. If you want you can go back.”
All of them replied in unison:
“O son of Allah’s Messenger! We did not present Muslim for martyrdom. We accompanied you till now and now that we also have to avenge for Muslim, how can we leave you now? Absolutely not, we will accompany you so that we too meet the same fate as Muslim did.”3
- 1. Whatever is narrated about Imam Husayn (A) in history is the meaning of verse 23 of Surah Ahzab and not the actual verse. It is recorded that even when Imam Husayn (A) was informed about the martyrdom of Muslim (A) he repeated innaa lillaahi... a few times. Some narrators have recorded that the Imam said: “May Allah grant sal- vation to Muslim who went towards divine neighborhood, Paradise and Rizwan. He fulfilled his duty while we are yet to do so.” Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 374; Mausu- at al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 349.
It is also narrated feat Imam Husayn (A) recited verse 23 of Surah Ahzab on getting the news of the martyrdom of Qais Ibn Musahhar Saidawi; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 363.
- 2. After this some words are missing from the cassette.
- 3. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 222; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 603; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 373; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 344.