Meeting 6: The Impacts of Karbala on Vigilance of Muslims Part 2

Date: 07/07/1996

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) in Ziarat Arbaeen (Visiting on the 40th): “Peace be on Husayn; the oppressed, the martyr. Peace be on the captives of grief and those killed by the teardrops. O God! Indeed, I bear witness he granted the advice and sacrificed the blood of his heart for Thy sake, in order for him to rescue Thy servants from the ignorance and the perplexity of going astray”.

In the previous meeting, I shared with you some of the impacts of the revolution of Imam Husayn (a.s.) on the awareness of people. As I mentioned, the main task and the mission of the Imam was to awaken the Ummah and to make them realize that an ill fortune was awaiting them otherwise. His mission was not just to reform the then government. Imam Husayn, along with all his ancestors, being the previous Imams or prophets, all carried the unique mission, i.e. to fight ignorance and save people from going astray.

Their mission, therefore, was to train reformers, and hence, the school of Karbala should be considered as a school of training reformers, for it is not enough to believe Imam Husayn was only a social, as well as religious, reformer. His task was higher than that. He aimed at making people rise up against all types of oppression, corruption, alteration, and discrimination.

To this end, he sacrificed all that he possessed to be an everlasting role model for all who have the ambition of reforming their corrupted society. This fact is acknowledged by Imam Sadiq in his Ziarat (Visiting) on Arbaeen. According to his Ziarat, rescuing people from ignorance has been the main philosophy behind the tragedy of Karbala.

In the last meeting, I presented two examples of the rising up of the Ummah as a result of the tragedy of Karbala. The first was the massacre of Madina, and the second was the revolution in Mecca. As a matter of fact, the impacts of the tragedy of Karbala on awakening the Ummah can be found right from the evening of Ashoora.

On that evening, after the tents of Ahlul-Bait were plundered, a woman who happened to be the wife of a soldier from among the troops of Ibn-Ziad, perhaps was the first who shouted against the tyrannical regime of Bani-Ommaya seeking revenge for Imam Husayn. She bravely shouted: “O you who look like men! The clothes of the daughters of the Prophet are being seized, and yet no one protests?! Down with this secular government!”1

By the way, it was during the battle of Mecca that joyful news reached Mecca. Yazid, the tippler, the ruthless, died, …off to hell. Husayn Ibn Nomair, who had now lost his reason for fighting Ibn Zobair, compromised with him. As a result, Ibn Zobair after he was about to be defeated, took control of Mecca again.

Bani-Ummayah After Yazid

After the death of Yazid in the year 64 AH. a serious dispute arose among the Bani-Ummayah family as to who should come to the throne. Mu’awiyyah, the Second son of Yazid was appointed to be the Caliph.

However, since he was so impressed by the crimes of both his father and grandfather, he addressed the people in his first public lecture saying: “O people! Indeed, my grandfather, Mu’awiyyah, confronted Ali Ibn Abi Talib who deserved the caliphate and forced you to commit what you are aware of until he died, carrying his sins with himself forever. Then, my father came into power, a man who did not deserve his position. He followed his desires though he didn’t gain them until he died, also carrying his sins with himself forever.” He then cried and refused the throne.2

At that time, he was only around 20 years old and 40 days after his resignation he secretly died. After his death, Marwan Ibn Hakam, the cousin of Uthman, was deported from Madina along with the governor prior to the Massacre of Madina, who took advantage of the existing gap, came to Damascus and immediately married the widow of Yazid. He then forced Bani-Omayyeh to accept him in allegiance. From that time the Bani-Ummayah dynasty declined forever.

Kufa and its Revolutions

In the beginning of these series of lectures, I, as many other historical analysts, castigated the Kufans for betraying their Imam after inviting him to Kufa. Although, the blame is accurate and many Kufans unfortunately broke their promises, it is inaccurate to believe that all Kufans turned against the Imam.

According to Mamaqani around 4500 people were jailed in Kufa prior to the tragedy of Karbala. In any case, after the tragedy of Karbala, Kufans more than others felt guilt and regret, to the extent that according to some historians the city had become like a volcano ready for eruption.

1. The Movement of Tawabin

In general, the citizens of Kufa were divided into 3 categories:

1. Sincere Shiites who were very emotional and seeking revenge from Bani-Ummayah. The main body of this group consisted of Yemenis, Iranians and other converts.

2. The partisans of Bani-Umayyah who were mainly Iraqi aristocrats from the clan of Modhar. The majority of the troops of Ibn-Ziad in Karbala had been provided from this group.

3. Conservatives who always avoid whatever might disturb their material life, being their business or material comfort. This group, which is always found in all communities, plays neutral or hypocritical roles. Their doctrine is to make everyone happy. Their slogan is “live in a way that after your death both Muslims and Hindus attend your funeral whilst the first washes your corpse with the water of Zamzam and the second cremates3 it by fire.”

The first group set a movement in motion named ‘the Movement of Tawabin (meaning Penitents). This movement was led by noble figures such as Solayman Ibn Sorad and Rofa’a Ibn Shaddad. They came to the belief that nothing can cleanse the sin of leaving Imam Husayn alone but being killed for his revenge. The movement created a battle between Tawabin and the army of Ibn-Ziad in the year 65 A.H.

Tawabin, before going to the battle, visited Imam Husayn’s grave and those of other Martyrs of Karbala. In their grief they performed a mourning ceremony which caused many of them to lose consciousness.

A bloody fight occurred between Tawabin and the army of Ibn-Ziad in an area out of Kufa called Aynul-Warda. The number of Tawabin is estimated at around 4000 while the troops of Ibn-Ziad, some of which had already participated in the battle of Karbala, were roughly 30000 soldiers. As a result, in spite of the courageous fighting of Tawabin most of them including their leader Solyman were martyred.

2. The Uprising of Mokhtar

The uprising of Mokhtar was the most successful movement after the tragedy of Karbala which took place in the year 66 A.H. Mokhtar, one of the devoted Iraqis of Imam Ali (a.s.), a noble figure in Iraq, who was jailed during the visit of Muslim Ibn Aqil in Kufa, was released from prison. His main mission and ambition was to seek revenge from all the criminals of Karbala.

During his one and a half years of ruling Iraq he rigorously sought and killed the main criminals of Karbala. Those who had already proudly narrated the story of their crimes to the people, during the time of Mokhtar were executed one after the other. Omar Ibn Sa’d, Shemer, Harmale even Ibn-Ziad were all mercilessly executed by the order of Mokhtar.

Execution of Harmala, the murderer of the six month old baby

Taking into consideration that this meeting prohibits narration of the way in which all the criminals of Karbala were executed, I would like to bring my speech to an end by sharing with you in a few words a description of the worldly punishment of Harmale, the murderer of the infant of Imam Husayn.

Menhal Ibn Amr from Kufa, one of the followers of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) quoted: “in the year 66 when Mokhtar was in power in Iraq and was executing the murderers of Karbala one after the other, I made a pilgrimage to Hajj. After performing the Hajj ceremony, I went to Madina to visit Imam Sajjad. The Imam asked me about Harmale. I replied that he was still alive when I was last in Kufa. Imam Sajjad raised up both of his hands praying: ‘O God! let him taste the burning of the iron, let him taste the burning of the iron, let him taste the burning of the fire.”

All the criminals of Karbala were of course cruel, but Harmale was the most vicious figure among them all. The way Imam Sajjad was praying to God to punish him will reflect to us the bereaved heart of the Imam.

Menhal said: “I came back home. Mokhtar was busy finding the murderers. I went to see him and found him with his soldiers at the city’s round-about waiting for someone. As a matter of fact, he had been informed about the hiding place of Harmale. A few minutes later some of his soldiers came back cheerfully bringing Harmale with them. Mokhtar commanded his soldiers to immediately prepare him for execution.

He was of course sentenced to death and yet it was the least punishment a devil like him could have received. However, prior to carrying out the decree he was given a chance to confess and narrate the details of his crime. He said: “On the day of Ashoora I had three special poisoned arrows. The first I pierced through the fragile neck of the baby of Husayn. I fired the second at the heart of Imam Husayn after he had taken away his shirt wiping up his injured forehead. And the third one...”

Imam Hasan (a.s.) had three sons who all participated in Karbala. Hasan Mothana, the oldest one, Qasim the middle one, and Abdullah the youngest one. On the day of Ashoora, Abdullah was about 10 years old. In fact, he was born when his father, Imam Hasan was just martyred. Because of his age, he was kept along with the other children inside the tents. However, in the last minutes of the life of Imam Husayn, when he heard the painful voice of his dear uncle calling for help, he ran away from inside the tent.

He reached Imam Husayn as a criminal was about to hit the Imam with his sword. Abdullah raised up his little hand to stop the devil. As a result, his hand was chopped off. The orphan of Imam Hasan yelled sorrowfully and yet dropped himself on the Imam, saving the uncle who had always been as kind to him just as a father. At that very moment, Harmale confessed later on that, he targeted Abdullah with his last poisoned arrow and brutally killed him on the bosom of his uncle.

  • 1. Ibn Tawoos; Lohoof , p.132.
  • 2. Balatheri; Ansabul-Ashraaf 4:61
  • 3. Cremation is forbidden in Islam as well as Orthodox Judaism, but recently approved by Roman Catholic church.