On ‘Tasua’ i.e. on the 9th of Muharram at the time of Asr (late afternoon), Umar Ibn Saad’s forces launched the attack as ordered by Ibn Ziyad. They wanted the battle to start on that day. Imam Al-Husayn (A) sent his brother, Al-Abbas (A), to them with a message asking for respite for only that night.
Imam Al-Husayn (as.) said:
“Dear brother! Ask them for respite of only one night.”
Then to remove the misunderstanding that he was creating unnecessary delay, Imam Al-Husayn (A) added:
“Brother! Allah knows better how fond I am of praying to Him. I want to spend this night in supplications so that it may be a night of repentance for us.”
Alas! If we can only know how great the Ashura eve was! Actually, it was the night of Meraj. It was night full of joy, happiness and cheerfulness. On that night, the martyrs of Karbala made themselves purest. On that night they decorated each and every part of their existence. The place of decorating their existence was in the tent.
All were inside the tent. Only two persons were outside, guarding it in turns. Apparently, one of them was Burair Hamadani.1 Perhaps Burair jested with his companion who told him that it was not the night of fun. Burair replied: “Basically, I am not from the humorous people but tonight is a night of fun for us.”
When the enemy saw them engrossed in repentance, do you know what they said? When they passed by the camp of Imam Al-Husayn (A), they said:
“They sound like humming of bees at a honeycomb.”2 So loud were the sounds of seeking forgiveness, praying and supplications of Imam Al-Husayn (A) and his companions (that there was turmoil in the ranks of angels).
Imam Al-Husayn (A) had said:
“I want tonight to be a night of our repentance and seeking forgiveness.”
I would say that he wanted it to be the night of his ascension (Meraj). This statement of Imam (A) is worth pondering upon. After this statement, can we say that there is no need for us to repent? Was Imam in need of it and we are not?
Imam Al-Husayn (A) spent the entire night of Ashura in divine glorification and worship of the Lord and continued to check the wellbeing of his family members. It was also the night when Imam Al-Husayn (A) delivered an unforgettable sermon to his companions.
Here I am going to talk about a repentant of the desert of Karbala and conclude my lecture with it. One of the repentances in Karbala was very important, and it was the repentance of Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi.
Hurr was an extremely brave man. When Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad dispatched the first unit of his army against Imam Al-Husayn (A), he made Hurr the commander of one thousand strong cavalry. This Hurr had inflicted atrocities on Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S).
I mentioned in one of my speeches that when a person commits a great crime and if his conscience is alive, it surely impels him to make amends. Therefore, you listeners should estimate the reaction of the conscience of a person who had committed a crime against those whose souls were on the highest level.
A narrator says that he saw Hurr in the army of Ibn Saad trembling with fear. He came forward and said, “O Hurr! I used to consider you very brave. Were I asked who is the bravest man of Kufa, I would not have mentioned the name of anyone except yours. But at this moment why are you trembling so much?”
Hurr replied: “You have misunderstood. I am not fearing for my life in this battle. In fact, I find myself standing at crossroads. One way leads to Paradise and another to Hell. I am unable to decide where to go and which way to choose.”
Finally, Hurr selected the path of salvation and began moving his mount on It slowly. He moved in such a manner that no one could realize what he was up to. When he reached a place where no one could have blocked his way, he accelerated his horse and moved swiftly towards the camp of Imam Al-Husayn (A).
It is narrated that he inverted his shield to signal that he was not coming to fight but to surrender. He reached the holy Imam, saluted him and said: “Son of the Prophet! Can the repentance of this sinner be accepted?” Imam Al-Husayn (A) replied:
“Why not? Your repentance will indeed be accepted.”3
O mourners! Look at the mercy and kindness of the merciful son of the merciful Imam. He did not say: “What kind of repentance is this? Now that you have brought us into such perils, you have come to repent?”
It was so because the holy Imam did not have such thinking. He had always guided the people. If Ibn Saad’s army had repented after killing all his youths, then too he would have said: “I accept the repentance of you all.” Because when Yazid had asked Imam Al-Sajjad (A) after the tragedy of Karbala, “Will my repentance be accepted, if I do it now?” Imam had replied, “Yes, if you repent with a pure intention, your repentance can be accepted.” However Yazid did not repent at that time.4
Hurr said, “Master! Allow me to go to the battlefield and sacrifice myself on you.”
“Hurr! You are my guest. Dismount from your horse and sit with me for a while.”
However, Hurr insisted again and again to permit him to go.
Hurr was very ashamed as long as he remained alive. Why? Because he used to recollect that he was the one who terrorized the friends of the Lord for the first time and intimidated the progeny of the Holy Prophet (S).5
Why didn’t he like sitting near Imam Al-Husayn (A)? Because he feared that while he sat with the Sayyid, a thirsty child may come out and see him, which would make him die of shame.
- 1. It is narrated that Buraira Hamadani was speaking humorously with Abdur Rehman Ansari. Maqtal e Husayn, Muqarram, Pg 216.
- 2. Lohoof, Pg. 94.
- 3. Lohoof, Pg. 103; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 438.
- 4. Shaykh Sadooq (a.r.) has narrated the tradition from Imam Al-Ridha’ through three reliable sources in Uyun Akhbaar al-Reza, Vol. 2, Pg. 47, that the Holy Prophet (S) said that Prophet Musa (A) had prayed to Allah, “O Lord! My brother, Haroon has died. Please forgive him.” Eventually, Allah revealed unto him. “O Musa! I would have accepted your repentance for any person from beginning to end except the killers of Husayn Ibn Ali (A) because I am going to take revenge from them for martyrdom of Husayn.”
Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) has narrated a tradition in Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 308, that a person from Bani Israel saw Prophet Musa (A) going somewhere hurriedly. He was pale, trembling and had feeble eyes. The person understood that he is going for supplication.
The person asked, “O prophet of Allah! I have committed a great sin. Please pray for my forgiveness to Allah.” Thus, when Prophet Musa (A) prayed for his forgiveness and said, “O Lord! You know what I am going to say that so and so servant has committed a sin and he seeks forgiveness from You.”
Allah replied, “I would forgive whoever seeks repentance from Me except the killers of Husayn...” It is written in Damaatus Sakiba, Vol. 5, Pg. 194-195, that when Yazid Ibn Muawiyah met Imam Al-Sajjad (A) he tried to cast on Ibn Ziyad the responsibility for all his crimes and acquit himself.
- 5. Lohoof, Pg. 103; Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 235; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 13; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 437; Maqtal al-Husayn, Muqarram, Pg. 236.