In those days the city of Madina was witnessing important historical events. There was a day when in the Battle of Badr, which took place in the month of Ramazan 2 A.H., 313 Muslims gained a victory over 950 polytheists. They killed more than seventy of them and made more than seventy of them prisoners.
The good news of this victory reached Madina and the Holy Prophet and his companions returned to their homes successful and victorious. Then there was the day when the Muslims fought against 3000 polytheists of Makkah in the Battle of Uhud in the month of Shawwal 3 A.H. In that battle more than seventy distinguished Muslims met martyrdom and the Holy Prophet and the Muslim Mujahids returned to Madina mournful and bereaved.
There was a day in 4 A.H. when the news of the martyrdom of forty or seventy distinguished Muslims at Bayr Mauna reached Madina. In that very year the news of the martyrdom of nine companions of the Holy Prophet in the Sarya (battle) of Rajie spread in Madina. In 5 A.H. 3000 Muslims gained victory in the Battle of the Ditch over an army of 12,000 or as stated by Masudi in al Tanbih wal Ashrar 24,000 polytheists. Allah helped His Prophet and made the enemies return disgraced and defeated. In the 2nd, 4th and 5th A.H. the Jews belonging to the tribes of Bani Qaynuqa, Bani Nazir and Bani Qurayza received the punishment which they deserved and the surroundings of Madina were cleared of these treacherous people.
In 7 A.H. the Muslims gained victory over the Jews of Khayber and the news of this great victory reached Madina. When Ja'far bin Abi Talib and many others who had migrated to the Christian State of Ethiopia, thirteen years earlier, returned safely to Madina and the Holy Prophet was so pleased on their arrival that he said: "I do not know what makes me more happy today the conquest of Khayber or the return of Ja'far from Ethiopia".
In the year 8 A.H. the news of the martyrdom of Ja'far bin Abu Talib, Zayd bin Harith and Abdullah bin Rawaha at Mota (Syria) reached Madina. The Holy Prophet and 30,000 Muslims returned to Madina safely from the Battle of Tabuk. It was indeed a very dangerous occasion. In the month of Ramazan 8 A.H. the Holy Prophet conquered Makkah and entered the city accompanied by 12, 000 armed men. The good news of this great victory spread in Madina and idol-worship came to an end in the Arabian Peninsula for ever. In the early part of the 11 A.H. the Holy Prophet breathed his last. This great tragedy made all the residents of Madina mournful and bereaved.
After his demise also the city of Madina witnessed many important historical events everyone of which had effect to some extent on the political and social life of the Muslims till 61 A.H. arrived and after Bani Hashim and the Muslims of Madina had experienced severe sufferings for about six months the news of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn and his devoted companions reached this city. This event reflected once again the situation which was created on the day of the demise of the Holy Prophet.
Shaykh Mufid and Tabari write that when Imam Husayn was martyred and his head was brought before Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad he summoned Abdul Malik bin Abil Harith Salami and said to him: "Proceed to Madina and convey to Umar bin Sa'id bin As, the Governor of Madina, the good news of Husayn bin Ali's assassination".
It is, of course, surprising that within a short period of fifty years after the demise of the Holy Prophet the Muslims became so ungrateful that the news of the murder of his children and dear ones was conveyed as "good and great tidings" to the Governor of the city of Madina i.e. the place where the Holy Prophet migrated and where he was buried. Abdul Malik bin Abi Harith was reluctant to convey that news to Madina, the place of habitation of Bani Hashim and the kith and kin of the Imam and felt ashamed to undertake that task.
He, therefore, requested Ubaydullah to excuse him from performing that duty. However, Ubaydullah who wielded authority and had become more severe after killing the Imam threatened Abdul Malik and said to him: "You must go and convey this happy news to the Governor of Madina and it should not reach Madina before you".
He also gave him some money and said: "Do not coin excuses and depart as early as possible. If your camel ceases to be fit to perform the journey arrange for another camel and abandon the first one". Ibn Ziyad did not yet realize that all that insistence was harmful to him and when the details about the martyrdom of the Imam would reach the ears of the people they would become a part of history and the source of disgrace for him and Yazid and it would not do any harm to the Imam.
The Imam would have stood to lose (if this interpretation be correct) if the tragedy of his martyrdom had not become public and the immorality and corruption of the enemy had not been recorded in the history, the contemporary and future Muslims had remained ignorant of the true facts. Ibn Ziyad was one of those persons who dig their grave with their own hands, insist on their own foolishness and publish their disgrace everywhere.
Almighty Allah says:
They think to beguile Allah, and the believers; in fact they beguile none save themselves, but they perceive not. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:9)
The more they insist on these indecent acts and take pride in them the more they provide a document in the hands of their enemy and block the way of their escape from the court of justice of history. Ibn Ziyad did not know with what disgrace his name would be mentioned in the history of Islam and what would be the judgment of history about him. He was also not aware in what manner the brilliant names of Imam Husayn and his companions would manifest themselves and shine in the history of Islam and how his religious movement and Divine rising would find its place amongst the greatest and most important risings of mankind.
Anyhow, as Abdul Malik Salami was not in a position to oppose Ibn Ziyad he proceeded hastily to the Hijaz in compliance with his orders and reached Madina. When the people saw that a messenger had come from Iraq, they concluded that he must have brought news about the happening there. A man from amongst Quraysh whose name has not been mentioned in history saw Abdul Malik and having come to know that he had come from Iraq asked him with great anxiety: "What news have you brought from Iraq?" What he wanted to know was how the conflict between Husayn bin Ali ended and what was the result of the rising of the Kufians against the caliph.
Abdul Malik said only this in reply: "Whatever the news may be it is with the Governor of Madina" i.e. he would communicate the news to the governor and the people would learn it through him. This brief reply was sufficient for the intelligent people to realize the position. They understood that when the information about the developments in Iraq was being furnished to a governor who had been appointed by Yazid and was himself an Umayyad it meant that Husayn bin Ali had been removed from the stage of caliphate and politics and the rulership of Yazid and the family of Abu Sufyan had been established. On hearing the brief reply the said Qurayshite understood what had happened and said: "We are from Allah and to Him we have to return. It appears that Husayn bin Ali has been slain".
Abdul Malik says: "When I met Amr bin Sa'id bin As Umawi he too was unaware of the state of affairs in Iraq. He, therefore, asked me anxiously as to what news I had brought from Iraq. I replied that I had brought news which would make the Governor of Madina happy and that news was that Husayn bin Ali had been killed and thereby the conflict had come to an end. On hearing this news Amr bin Sa'id bin As became extremely happy and said: "Go and inform the people that he has been slain".
I went out and proclaimed to the people that Husayn bin Ali had been martyred in Iraq. I swear by Allah that on hearing this, the ladies of Bani Hashim began to lament in a manner which I had never witnessed before. When Amr bin Sa'id heard the lamentations of the Hashimite women for the Holy Imam he laughed and said: "The women of Bani Ziyad lamented in the same manner in which our women lamented in the Battle of Urnab". 1
Then he said: "The present lamentation of Hashimite women should be compared with the lamentations of Umayyad women who were bereaved and who mourned over the murder of Uthman". Amr bin Sa'id was also under a false impression like Yazid and Ibn Ziyad and imagined that it was possible to confuse and mislead history. He wanted to connect the killing of Imam Husayn with that of Uthman and to show that Imam Ali and his sons had taken part in it, although the fact is that when Uthman was in trouble their role consisted of advice, love and benevolence. They did not take any part in Uthman's murder. On the contrary they had done their best to make the f disturbance subside and had also carried water for him during the days of siege.
Amr did not know that these falsehood, calumnies and idle talks could not produce any result except disgrace for those who uttered them. He arrived in the Masjid of Madina, mounted the pulpit and announced that the Imam had been killed. However, as the women and men belonging to Ahlul Bayt had entrusted a document to history on each occasion and expressed reality in reply to the nonsensical talk of the enemy, a lady belonging to the Holy family also gave a reply to the idle words of the Governor of Madina on this occasion.
It has also been recorded in the pages of history. It has been written that at this time a girl belonging to the family of Aqil bin Abi Talib came out of her house along with the ladies of Bani Hashim, proceeded to the sacred grave of the Holy Prophet, embraced the grave and while wailing, uttered the two poetic verses translated below. In them she has summarized the history of Ashura:
"The Day of Judgment will come. The grandfather of this very Husayn bin Ali whom you have killed and whose martyrdom is being mentioned by you as a happy news will come face to face with you and will ask: 'What did you, who were the best of the communities, do and how did you behave towards my children and the members of my family after my death? You killed their men and made them welter in their blood and made their women and children prisoners".
- 1. This is the poetic verse of Umar bin Ma'd Yakrab Zubaydi. The Battle of Urnab took place between Bani Zubayd and Bani Ziyad and Bani Ziyad bin Harith bin Ka' b were defeated by Raht Abdul Madan.