The ninth of Muharram is a remorseful day for Ahl al-Bayt. Imam Ja‘far Al-Sadiq (A) said,
“My grandfather, Imam Al-Husayn (A) was surrounded from all sides on the 9th of Muharram.”1
Battalions were coming one after another in Karbala to assist Umar Ibn Saad. However, there was no one to help the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S).
At Asr (late afternoon) of 9th Muharram, Shimr Ibn Dhiljaushan, the accursed one from start to end, arrived in Karbala and handed over a letter to Umar Ibn Saad. Shimr had expected that Umar Ibn Saad will say, “I would not fight with Al-Husayn.” He would then kill Umar Ibn Saad as per the order of Ibn Ziyad and take charge of the army.
However, Ibn Saad looked at the letter and said, “I think that my letter had an effect on Ibn Ziyad but your presence did not allow him to change his mind.” Shimr said, “What is your intention now?” Umar Ibn Saad said, “By Allah, I would fight in such a way that head and hands would be severed and fly in air.” Shimr asked, “What should I do now?”
Umar Ibn Saad knew that Shimr also held a high position near Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad because both of them were of the same type. Those who are more stone-hearted are closer to each other. Umar Ibn Saad said, “You lead the infantry.”
The order of Ibn Ziyad was very strict. It was written: “You must start harassing Al-Husayn as soon as you receive my letter. Al-Husayn should be given two options - pay allegiance or fight. There is no other option.”2
It is narrated that the sun was beginning to set on the 9th of Muharram. Imam Al-Husayn (A) sat resting his hands and head on his knees outside a tent. He was feeling drowsy. At that moment Umar Ibn Saad read Ibn Ziyad’s letter and ealled out aloud with a firm determination: “O army of Allah! Mount your horses for I give you glad tidings of Paradise.”3 (This statement was used by the Holy Prophet (S) while addressing his companions in one of the battles).
Note the deceit of Umar Ibn Saad). It is recorded that the unjust army of thirty thousand soldiers had surrounded the Imam from all the sides. As the waves of ocean become violent in a storm, Umar Ibn Saad’s army was aroused by his call. Suddenly, the entire battlefield became filled with the noise of hooves, slogans of people and clinks of weapons.
Lady Zaynab (s.a.) was busy tending to Imam Al-Sajjad (A) in one of the tents. As soon as she heard these noises, she came running to Imam Al-Husayn (A), shook his shoulder and said, “O brother! Can you hear these noises?
Look what is wrong out there. Imam Al-Husayn (A) lifted his head up from his knees and replied without paying attention to the army,
“O sister! I had fallen asleep. I saw grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S) in my dream just now. He was saying: O Al-Husayn! You would come to us soon.”4
God alone knows what lady Zaynab (s.a.) would have gone through on hearing these Words. Yes, of course, today is Ashura eve. This is such a night that if we take a close look the state of the martyrs of Karbala and the spirit of Jihad in them it would create a commotion in our hearts on one hand and we would feel extremely pained.
On the other hand, we would drown in the sea of sorrow. Obviously the Ashura eve was more sorrowful for Lady Zaynab (s.a.) than any other night because the spiritual personality of Lady Zaynab (s.a.) had gained more strength on Ashura day. It continued to become stronger with the passage of events.
Two calamities on Ashura eve, distressed Lady Zaynab (s.a.) a lot and she became extremely depressed. One occurred at the time of Asr on 9th Muharram and another on Ashura eve. Imam Al-Husayn (A) started making preparations on Ashura eve and ordered his companions to sharpen their weapons.
Jaun, the freed slave of His Eminence, Abu Zar Ghiffari was good in sharpening weapons. He sat in a separate tent and began to polish the weapons of other companions. Imam Al-Husayn (A) came to have a look at Jaun’s work.
Imam Al-Sajjad (A) was resting in the next tent because of his illness and his aunt, Lady Zaynab (s.a.) was tending to him. These two tents were very close to each other because as per the order of Imam Al-Husayn (A), the tents were brought so nearer that pegs of one entered the neighboring tent. We shall explain later why it was done.
This incident is narrated by Imam Al-Sajjad (A). He says, “My aunt was tending to me when my father came to the tent where weapons were sharpened to survey Jaun’s work. Suddenly, I heard my father murmuring the following lines, which he repeated twice or thrice:
‘Time, shame on you as a friend!
At the day’s dawning and the suns’ setting.
How many a companion or seeker will be a corpse!
Time will not be satisfied with any substitute.
The matter will rest with the Mighty One’.”5
In these verses, Imam Al-Husayn (A) pointed out the disloyalty of this world. He meant that sometimes the world smiles like a merciful friend and people get fascinated and start thinking that it would remain same forever.
However, the world turns away its eyes and becomes unkind. Life no longer remains as sweet as honey and it becomes bitter. Reliable friends leave one alone and some become bitter foes. No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Honour, power, health etc. are temporary. Is there anyone who did not face failures in life? Is there anyone who did not have to bear disasters?
The Imam is discretely saying that many young men will be martyred the next day. Imam Al-Sajjad (A) says that he understood the purpose of his holy father. He was informing about his own death. Lady Zaynab (s.a.) also heard these verses but a meaningful silence continued between us. Imam Al-Sajjad (A) was suffocating but he kept his calm.
Lady Zaynab’s (s.a.) heart also filled with sorrow but she did not cry because Imam Al-Sajjad (A) was ill. Both controlled their tears till Lady Zaynab (s.a.) could hold no more and she burst into tears because she was a woman and women are kind-hearted by nature. She said, “I should not have lived to see this day.” She went to Imam Al-Husayn (A) and said,
“Yes, O brother! I should have died before seeing this day. You are the memory of those who would go away and you are our support.”
Imam (A) consoled her saying,
“O sister! Be patient lest the devil would take away patience from you.6 What are you saying? What is making you sad? Death is a reality. Grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S) was better than me.
Father Ali, Mother Fatimah and brother Hasan were better than me, but all of them went away. I am also going; but O sister! Remember that you have to lead this caravan after me. You would accompany this caravan. You will have to look after my children.”
Lady Zaynab (s.a.) replied in a broken voice:
“Brother! All these circumstances are fine but whenever someone from the abovementioned personalities passed away from this world, others were present with me. My heart remained happy seeing you after brother Hasan went away. If you also go away leaving Zaynab (s.a.) alone, what will remain for Zaynab (s.a.) in the world?”
After narrating his dream at Asr of the Ninth to Lady Zaynab (s.a.), Imam Al-Husayn (A) called His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) and said,
“Brother Al-Abbas! Take along some men with you and immediately go and ask if there is some fresh news. If they intend to fight us, tell them that starting a battle at sunset is against the rules of war (normally, Arabs used to start battles in the morning and return to their camps at sunset). There is certainly something new.”
His Eminence Abul Fadhl Al-Abbas (A) took along some senior companions including Zuhair Ibn Qayn and Habib Ibn Mazahir to the enemy’s army and said, “I have been deputed by my brother to know the reason behind this sudden attack.”
Umar Ibn Saad said, “Amir Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad has ordered that your brother should pay allegiance unconditionally lest we would fight.”7 His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) said, “Don’t be in a hurry. I cannot say anything on my own now. I would go to Abu Abdillah and get a reply.”
His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) returned and narrated the matter to Imam (A) who said, “I would not pay allegiance at any cost and would fight with them till the last drop of blood remains in my body. Go to them and if possible, postpone the war till tomorrow morning.”8
Imam Al-Husayn (A) did not want them to think that he wants to live for one more night and hence, he said, “God knows better that I want one more night’s time because I want to talk to God during the last night of my life. I want to spend this night in supplications, worship and recitation of the Holy Qur’an.”9
His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) conveyed the Imam’s reply to those people. They were not ready to postpone the battle but later on, differences arose among them. Some of them told others, “You all are very shameless.
Even if we had been fighting against infidels we would have given them reprieve and you are not ready to give time to the progeny of the Prophet?” Umar Ibn Saad was forced to end the dispute among his officials. He said, “All right, the battle would start tomorrow morning.”10
This night was an exceptionally bright one for Imam Al-Husayn (A). He spent it in full enthusiasm. People who have interpreted this night as a night of Meraj for Imam Al-Husayn (A) are absolutely correct. He delivered an eloquent sermon during that night for his companions and Ahl al-Bayt. Everyone bid him farewell during this night and the Imam bid them farewell in return. Imam (A) said:
“O my companions and O my Ahl al-Bayt! I don’t know any companions and any Ahl al-Bayt better than mine. I thank you all. However, all of you should be aware of a fact. The enemy is in quest of my blood only. They do not want anything except my life. I return the allegiance paid by you all. Now you all are free. Whoever wishes to go may go. Whoever among you is going should take along a person from my Ahl al-Bayt, if possible.”
However, none of the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) went away. The Divine hand had already removed the cowards from the Imam’s caravan.
It is recorded that all of them replied in unison, “How is it possible that we leave you alone and go away? May God not bring that day when you get martyred and we are left alive.” It is narrated that His Eminence, Abul Fadhl Al-Abbas (A) was the first to give this reply.
Muslim Ibn Awsaja stood up and said, “If we step back from helping you and leave you alone, what reply would we give to Allah? By God, I would not leave you alone at any cost. I would thrust my spear in the chest of your enemy and continue to quench the thirst of my sword with their blood as long as possible.
If no weapon, is left I would rain stones on them. I swear by Allah, I would not leave you so that He sees that I have fulfilled my duties towards the grandson of the Holy Prophet (S) in his absence.
If someone kills me and then makes me alive and burns me in fire and blows my ashes in air and repeats this process seventy times then too I would not hesitate in helping you and continue to sacrifice my life on you. Now I know that 1 would be killed only once and remain happy forever.”
After Muslim Ibn Awsaja, Zuhair Ibn Qayn got up and said, “I wish I get killed and made alive and this process goes on seventy times but you and your Ahl al-Bayt remain safe.”
“Others also expressed such zealous thoughts. Imam prayed for their well-being and returned to his tent.” The statement of ‘Qausain’ is taken from Dr. Ibrahim Ayati’s book, History of Ashura, published by Jame Taalimaat-e-Islami.
Tonight in order to renew our attachment with Muhammad and Aale Muhammad we would narrate the sufferings of Imam al-Hasan’s (A) orphan Qasim. These sufferings are normally narrated on Ashura eve. When everybody had expressed their loyalty to the Imam, Imam (A) modified his way of speech and began to unveil the secrets.
Imam (A) said, “I want to inform you all that all of you would get martyred tomorrow. None of those gathered in this tent will survive.” Everybody exclaimed, “We thank Allah for granting us the honour of martyrdom.”
(A friend has reminded that Ayatullah Aqa Hakim and Ayatullah Allamah Mujahid Amini, the author of Ghadeer is unwell and is being treated in a foreign country; hence, all believing men and women should pray for him. It is our duty to pray for the well-being of our leaders especially. O Lord! For the sake of Al-Husayn Ibn Ali and for the sake of the pure soul of Qasim, grant good health to the above-mentioned personalities and all others who are unwell.)
A thirteen-year-old child was also present in that tent. When Imam Al-Husayn (A) announced that everybody present inside the tent would be martyred the next day, this child thought, “Maybe, this statement of Imam (A) was meant for only adults and young children like me are not included”.
Naturally any child of this age would have thought in the same way. The child lifted his head in distress and asked, “O uncle! Am I included among those who will be martyred tomorrow?” The Imam looked at the child sadly and said, “O son! Reply to my question first then I would reply yours.”
The child asked, “O uncle! Please ask.” The Imam said, “Son! How does death taste?” The child replied immediately, “O uncle! Such a death is sweeter than honey for me.” (The child has clarified that the reason he asked his uncle was that he feared that he would be kept away from this honour.)
The Imam said, “Yes, son! You will also get martyred tomorrow. However, you will have to bear a great calamity before that.” Imam did not explain the calamity that he was going to face at that moment but people came to know what that disaster was on the Ashura day.11
Qasim left for the battlefield. He was so young that no armor and helmet would fit his body. Then too, the grandson of the lion of God won accolades for his bravery. Suddenly, he was attacked on his head by a sword, because of which he could not balance himself on his horse and fell down. Imam Al-Husayn (A) was standing near his tent holding the reins of his horse ready to leave any second. Suddenly, a call “O uncle!” was heard. “O uncle! Please help me.”
It is narrated that Imam Al-Husayn (A) moved towards Qasim as swiftly as a hawk moves towards its prey. No one could understand how fast the Imam reached Qasim. It is recorded that after Qasim had falln, he was surrounded by approximately two hundred mounted foes. One of them moved forward to behead him.
Suddenly, they came to know that Al-Husayn has attacked them. Seeing this, the soldiers ran here and there like a pack of wolves running away on seeing a lion. The accursed one who had dismounted from his horse to behead Qasim was crushed under the hooves of his own companions and departed for hell.
There was so much dust everywhere that no one could understand what was going on. Both friends and enemies watched from a distance. When the dust settled, people saw Qasim’s head in Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) lap. People heard Imam Al-Husayn (A) saying aloud,
“My dear! How unbearable it is for your uncle that you called him for help and but when he reached you he could not do anything for you.”12
It is narrated that Qasim’s head was in the Imam’s lap and Qasim was having a hard time. Then, Qasim groaned and left for the heavenly abode.13 People saw Imam Al-Husayn (A) carry the body of Qasim in his arms moving towards the camp. How strange and remorseful this incident is! When Qasim wished to go to the battlefield, Imam Al-Husayn (A) found it difficult to permit him.
Then before giving permission, both uncle and nephew cried, embracing each other so much that they fell unconscious. However, the scenario is different now. The Uncle was seen embracing the nephew some time back but now people saw the Imam embracing the nephew’s martyred body and Qasim’s hands flopped lifelessly, because there was no life in his body.
وَسَيَعْلَمُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَيَّ مُنْقَلَبٍ يَنْقَلِبُونَ
And they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back. (26:227).
- 1. al-Kafi, Vol. 147; Wasa’il ush-Shi’a, Vol. 7, Pg. 339; Miratul Uqool, Vol. 16, Pg. 362; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 624.
- 2. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 229.
- 3. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 230; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 391.
- 4. Malimul Madrasatain, Vol. 3, Pg. 109.
- 5. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 232; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 1 “The matter will rest with the Mighty One, and every living creature will have to journey along my path.”
- 6. Irshad, Pg. 232; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 403; Malimul Madrasatain, Vol. 3, Pg. 114.
- 7. Malimul Madrasatain, Vol. 3, Pg. 109.
- 8. Malimul Madrasatain, Vol. 3, Pg. 110.
- 9. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 230; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 264; Malimul Madrasatain, Vol. 3, Pg. 115.
- 10. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 625.
- 11. Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 402.
- 12. Ustad Martyr Mutahhari says that there was a famous orator of Qum. He related these calamities while late Ayatollah Haji Shaykh Abdul Karim Haeri was present, (he was a very virtuous person. I have come to know from many sources that he was included among those who had limitless love for Ahl al-Bayt.
I could not meet him because I reached Qum ten months after he passed away. However, the people who had seen him say that this scholar used to have his eyes filled with tears whenever he heard the name of Imam Husayn (A).) He cried so much and slapped his head that he fell unconscious. Later on, he requested the orator not to relate those calamities in his presence because he cannot control himself after hearing them.
- 13. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 239; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 680; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 463.