KARBALA: DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HUSSAIN
IMAM HUSSAIN GAVE A TALK TO HIS COMPANIONS
Imam Hussain gathered all his people together and said:
“All praise to Allah Most High, and praise to Allah Most High that He gave my grandfather RasulAllahhood. And O Allah Most High, I thank You for the fact that I was born into the family of RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and for giving us the Holy Qur’an.
O people! You have been very loyal to me; you have stayed with me through good and bad. My sons and my relatives are all related to RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and are all pious people. O People! I had a dream last night and in it, I am looking at someone in the distance mounted on a horse and he was saying to me that people are moving, and death is following them. And I also saw RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, who said tomorrow evening we would be meeting together. As you know, these people are thirsty for my blood. They want to kill me. I give you my permission to go back to Makkah because they only want to kill me. I am happy with you all and willingly give you permission to go.”
When they heard this they all spoke together and told him that they were prepared to sacrifice their lives for him: “We swear to Allah Most High that wherever you go we will go with you; whatever hardship you endure, we will suffer with you. What use are our lives without you?”
When he heard them say this, he told them to go to their tents.
IMAM HUSSAIN GAVE COMFORT TO HIS SISTER ZAYNAB
In the evening, Imam Hussain was reciting some sad poetry when his sister Zaynab heard him. She came out of her tent, and said, “O I wish that I were not alive today, so that I would not have to see this day.” Imam Hussain said to his sister, “What are you saying? Where is your patience? Be afraid of Allah Most High, and believe in his commands and thank Allah Most High. My mother, Fatima, who was the daughter of our Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, has passed away. My father, Ali, has also passed away. My brother, Hasan, has gone as well. And all the people who are on this earth will one day have to die, and even the angels will have to die. And there is no doubt that one day will come when everything will be destroyed, and there will be only Allah Most High. My father was better than me, my mother was better than me, my brother was better than me. We all must obey our Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. If the people who were better than us have gone, who are we to think we will not? We will have to go one day. O my sister, if I were to die tomorrow then I do not want you to pull your hair or beat your chest or cry loudly. Be patient, because Allah is pleased with those who are patient.”
When she heard this, she became very quiet and went inside her tent. Imam Hussain called his people and said, “Tighten all the ropes which are connected to each tent, and dig a trench around the tents and set fire in them, so when the enemy comes to attack us in the morning they will not be able to reach the tents.”
After doing this, they went and prayed until the Fajr prayer. Imam Hussain led the Fajr prayer for his followers. It was Friday the 10th of Muharram 61 AH.
IMAM HUSSAIN’S HISTORICAL SERMON
When Imam Hussain saw that both sides were ready to go to war, he mounted a camel and faced the opposition and made the following speech:
“O people do not rush to kill me as I am the grandson of RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. I have not come here of my own accord but have been called by you people. At this time, there is not a man on earth who is the grandson of a prophet apart from me. Pause to think for a while regarding who I am. If you want to know about me, go and ask RasulAllah’s Companions who are still alive. Go and ask Ja’far bin Abdullah, Abu Sa'id, Suhail bin Sa’d, Zaid bin Arqam and Anas bin Malik. They will tell you how RasulAllah used to love us. Tell me is it right for you to receive me with un-sheathed swords? Tell me, for what crime do you want to kill me? Have I killed anyone that you want to punish me for his or her murder? Or have I taken anybody’s property? O people listen to me, did you not write letters asking me to come? Once again I say, I have come here because you have invited me. But since I have come here, you do not recognise me and you do not wish to support me.”
He then finished his sermon and dismounted the camel.
EXCHANGE OF WORDS BETWEEN ZUHAIR AND SHIMAR
Zuhair bin Qayn, one of the supporters of Imam Hussain, said, "O people of Kufa! We are all brothers, and we have not yet started to fight. On one side is the grandson of our Prophet and on the other side is Ibn Ziyad. You should leave that evil man and come and join Imam Hussain‘s group. Those who contribute to the killing of the grandson of RasulAllah will be in utter loss on the Day of Judgement, because RasulAllah will not intercede on their behalf. Victory lies with Imam Hussain; with King Yazid and the governor there is nothing but shame.”
Shimar responded that Zuhair bin Qayn his group would all be punished and killed. Zuhair replied, "You should not interrupt us. We are honest supporters of Imam Hussain, and for that reason we will be granted Paradise." Zuhair wanted to continue with this verbal battle, but Imam Hussain told him to go back to his tent.
SEPARATION OF HUR BIN YAZID FROM THE ARMY OF UMAR BIN SA’D
When Umar bin Sa’d decided to attack, Hur came before him and asked him if they were going to fight with Imam Hussain, and if they had not accepted his proposals. Umar bin Sa’d said that he wanted to accept one of those proposals but Ibn Ziyad had not agreed to any of those conditions. After listening to this, Hur started to move closer and closer towards Imam Hussain and his followers with thirty of his men. One person said, “Hur, why are your legs shaking? Hur answered “I am trying to decide whether to go to Paradise or to Hell.”
Before they knew it, he and his men were beside Imam Hussain. He said “I am the person who made you encamp here and stopped you from going back to Makkah. I swear by Allah Most High I did not realise that the situation would escalate to such a degree that they would want to kill you. What I have done was wrong. Can you tell me, if I ask for forgiveness, will Allah Most High forgive me?” Imam Hussain said, “Of course, Allah Most High will forgive you and will make duaa for you that Allah Most High forgives you for your past sins.”
In this way Hur joined Imam Hussain and left Umar bin Sa’d‘s army.
Hur then addressed Umar bin Sa’d‘s army: “O people, why did you not accept any of the terms offered by Imam Hussain? Do you think that Allah Most High will allow you to succeed and defeat the grandson of his beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him? Do you think that by killing Imam Hussain you will gain salvation? O residents of Kufa! You called Imam Hussain and have now left him alone. How sad it is that you have surrounded him in a place where he cannot go anywhere; and how pathetic it is that you have blocked the river (Euphrates) so that no person from his followers can have water. The Jews, Christians, fire-worshippers, dogs, pigs and other animals are drinking water but Imam Hussain cannot have water! Is he not even worthy of drinking our water? O people, if you do not repent from this and give Imam Hussain water, on the Day of Judgement, Allah Most High will also deprive you of water from the river Kawthar.”
While Hur was making his speech, the people started firing arrows at him and he went back inside the camp.
BEGINNING OF THE WAR
On 10th of Muharram, Umar bin Sa’d got his bow and arrows ready and started to fire them towards Imam Hussain and his followers. He said “O people, be my witness that I was the first one to shoot my arrows towards Imam Hussain.”
When his people saw this they also started to shoot their arrows towards them.
Afterwards, Yassar the slave of Ziyad, and Salam, the slave of Ubaydullah came from Umar bin Sa'd’s army and challenged Imam Hussain and said, “Send two of your champions and we shall fight them.” From Imam Hussain’s side, Abdullah bin Umair Kalbi came out to fight. He killed Yassar. Salam tried to kill Abdullah and struck a blow with which Abdullah lost the fingers of one of his hands. Then Abdullah struck a blow on Salam and killed him too. Nearby was his wife who came running towards him and said, “I am proud of you for your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the grandson of RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and I am also with you.” Abdullah said to her, “You should go back to where Imam Hussain is.” Then Abdullah went towards Umar bin Sa'd’s army and started to fight against them until they all attacked him and martyred him.
END OF IBN JOZAH
Ibn Jozah was from the army of Umar bin Sa’d. He left his post and started to say to Imam Hussain and his followers, “Where is Hussain? Which one of you is Hussain?”
The third time he asked this, one of the people from the crowd said, “He is with us. What would you like to say to him?” Ibn Jozah said “O Hussain, I have come to tell you that you are shortly going to enter the The fires of Hell.” Imam Hussain said, “You are a liar. After my death I will meet Allah Most High, Who is most Merciful and most Kind. Who are you?” Ibn Jozah told his name. Imam Hussain then made a supplication: “O Allah Most High, send him to the fire of Hell.”
Upon hearing this, Ibn Jozah became angry when he heard this and tried to ride his horse towards Imam Hussain at full speed. But his horse became frightened and tossed him over, whereby his foot got caught in the stirrup and he was left hanging to the ground. The horse started to gallop very fast and he was dragged along the floor, to the extent that eventually there was no flesh left on his face and he died.
One of Ibn Jozah’s friends said: “I will not fight against Hussain as his supplications are accepted immediately.”
MARTYRDOM OF IBN KHUZAIR
Yazid bin Ma‘qil came from the other side to challenge Imam Hussain’s companions to single combat. Ibn Khuzair came out from Imam Hussain’s side and said, “You people are liars and cheats. You should repent for coming to fight with Imam Hussain.” They started to fight and Ibn Khuzair killed Yazid bin Ma‘qil. When his people saw this, they rushed over to attack Ibn Khuzair and K‘ab bin Jabir martyred him. K‘ab’s wife was on Imam Hussain’s side.When she saw that her husband had killed Ibn Khuzair, she came over and said to him, “How can you kill a person who was the best amongst us in reading the Holy Qur'an, and was known as Sayyidul Qurrah (master of Qur’an reciters). I do not want anything to do with you. I am asking for a divorce from you as we have nothing in common.”
MARTYRDOM OF UMAR BIN QURZAH
One of Imam Hussain’s followers, Umar bin Qurzah, came to help Ibn Khuzair and fought until he was also martyred. One of his brothers was in the army of Umar bin Sa’d. He shouted in aloud voice: “O Hussain, you are a liar and your father was a liar also, and you brain-washed my brother so that he became your follower and was killed for you.” Imam Hussain answered, “I did not mislead your brother but Allah Most High guided him on the Straight Path. You are being misled.” Upon hearing this Umar got angry and started to attack Imam Hussain’s side and said, “There will be either me or you left; only one of us will survive this battle.”
In themean time, Nafi' bin Hilal from Imam Hussain’s side shot an arrow at him and injured him badly and then pulled his sword out ready to go and cut off his head. Just as he was about to do so, some people from the other side came and took him back, thus he survived. After this two other people, Muzahim bin Harees and Yazid bin Sufyan came out to fight. They challenged anyone, asking who wanted to confront them. Nafi' bin Hilal and Hur came out for the single combat. This was the same Hur who had deserted Umar bin Sa’d’s army and had repented. They both went out to fight these two people and Allah Most High gave them victory over both of them.
The losses suffered by Umar’s army greatly worried Amar bin Hajjaj, so he suggested that rather than meeting Imam Hussain’s supporters in single combat, a general attack should be launched. Umar bin Sa’d agreed with his plan. When Imam Hussain heard this, he said, “O Amar bin Hajjaj, how can you turn the people against us? If you were to die in this position, in your heart you know who is speaking the truth and who is telling lies; you know which of the two groups is on the Straight Path and which one is not.” Hajjaj could not bear to listen to the truth so he attacked Imam Hussain’s side with the entire right-wing of the army under him. The attack was resisted by Imam Hussain’s companions but Muslim bin ‘Awsaja was left on the ground of the battlefield. Imam Hussain came to him and comforted him, saying, “May Allah Most High be merciful to you.” Habib bin Muzahar, who was close-by, said, “May Allah Most High grant you Paradise.” Muslim bin ‘Awsaja opened his eyes and said, “Whatever happens, for so long as you are alive, do not leave Imam Hussain’s side. He is on the Straight Path.” Thus ‘Awsaja passed away.
RAIN OF ARROWS ON IMAM HUSSAIN’S FOLLOWERS
The rival force decided to launch their attack at once, and simultaneously began to fire arrows at Imam Hussain and his followers. Some of Imam Hussain’s followers and their horses sustained injuries. Hur’s horse was injured, and many of the horses were no longer capable of being used in the battle. But the brave soldiers began fighting on foot and the fight dragged on until the afternoon. By mid-afternoon, the battle was in full force. Umar bin Sa'd and his followers saw that they were losing the battle and lost the courage to continue fighting. Eventually, Shimar and Umar bin Sa'd ordered the others to begin to launch fireballs upon the tents of Imam Hussain and his followers. When Imam Hussain realised what they were planning to do, he came out of his tent and shouted, "Have you got no shame? There are children and women in these tents, how are they going to protect themselves if they get burnt?" He turned to Shimar and asked him, "Are you not ashamed to throw fireballs on my tent when my wife and children are inside it?" Shimar replied, "It does not matter to me that by burning down these tents I will go to Hell, I will burn them down anyway."
Eventually, two men, Humaid bin Muslim and Shabath bin Rib‘i, told him that it was wrong to attack the tents in such a manner, and so they stopped.
MARTYRDOM OF HABIB BIN MUZAHAR AND HUR BIN YAZID
As people from Imam Hussain's side were martyred during the course of the battle, his group of followers began to look very small in number. In contrast, when members of the opposition lost their lives it made no difference to their strength. In the mean time, the hour for the Friday prayer had arrived. Abu Thumama Sa‘idi suggested to Imam Hussain that they should ask the rival force to allow them to offer the Friday prayer, and if the enemy decided to kill them during the prayer, it would still be a great honour to die in the state of prayer.
Imam Hussain told him to ask Shimar if they were permitted to say the prayer so he went ahead to ask. Haseen bin Numair emerged from the ranks of the army, saying, “What is the point of saying prayers when your prayers are not accepted.” Habib bin Muzahar from Imam Hussain’s side said, “O dog of the world, do you think your prayers are accepted? How can you say that the prayers of the grandson of RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, are not accepted? Are you not ashamed of saying this?” Haseen got angry and sped on his horse towards Habib. Habib attacked him so hard with his sword that he fell off his horse and was badly injured. His companions ran to his rescue and took his body away, and started to fight with Habib. Habib fought against them with great courage and killed Badeel bin Suream. Another person attacked Habib from behind, and as he turned round to confront him, Haseen returned and martyred Habib.
When Imam Hussain saw this he was deeply saddened that such a courageous man had been martyred. Hur asked Imam Hussain to allow him to sacrifice himself and take revenge for the death of Habib. Hur used his sword powerfully in the battlefield and killed many men. This inspired such awe in the hearts of Umar bin S’ad’s men that they began to fire arrows at him. Eventually, it was Abu Thamama who martyred him.
MARTYRDOM OF NAFI’ BIN HILAL
Nafi’ bin Hilal, one of Imam Hussain‘s friends, was a very courageous person; he killed twelve of Umar bin Sa'd’s soldiers. Eventually, he was injured so severely that they captured him and took him to Umar bin Sa’d. Umar bin Sa’d looked at Nafi' bin Hilal and said, “Look what we have done to you!” Nafi' said, “I have killed twelve of your men and sent them to the fires of Hell. If I had any more strength in my arms, I would kill you and send you to the fire of Hell too. But I am glad to fight for Imam Hussain, and to be martyred by people who are on the wrong path.” After saying this he breathed his last and joined the other blessed souls in martyrdom.
SOME OTHER MARTYRS
The fighting continued and people went to Imam Hussain for permission to sacrifice themselves in battle. Abdullah and Abdur Rahman, who were from the Gafari tribe, went to Imam Hussain and asked for his permission to fight. Permission was granted, and they were soon martyred while fighting against Umar bin Sa'd’s army. Similarly, Saif and Malik went to seek Imam Hussain’s permission. When they entered the battlefield, they told the rival force, “Leave the wrong path and join us on the Straight Path. How will you explain yourselves to Allah Most High on the Day of Judgement?” When they heard this Umar bin Sa'd’s men attacked and martyred them. Similarly, Shawdhb bin Abdullah and Ibn Abi Shabib Shakri’s servant, Shuzab, went to Imam Hussain to ask his permission to sacrifice their lives for the sake of saving the valuable principles of Islam. They too achieved martyrdom. This pattern of events was repeated again and again, and many were martyred in this way.
MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HUSSAIN’S FAMILY
When all his close friends and followers who came with him had been martyred, only members of Imam Hussain’s immediate family remained: his young sons, his brother and himself. One of Imam Hussain’s sons, Ali Akbar, came to request Imam Hussain’s permission to sacrifice himself in the cause of the Truth. Permission was granted and as he entered the battlefield, he killed many of Umar bin Sa'd’s men but they were too great in number and he suffered repeated attacks at their hands. Murah bin Munqad Abdi attacked Ali Akbar from behind with a spear, which made him fall to the ground. When the people saw him falling to the ground, they ran to him and attacked him with swords and martyred him. Oun, Abdur Rahman, and Ja’far went with Imam Hussain to bring Ali Akbar’s body back to the tent. Abdullah bin Muslim then went to fight and was injured by Umar bin Subeah Saydani’s arrow. He was on the ground. Umar saw his chance and shot another arrow and martyred Abdullah. The enemy were slowly surrounding them and Abdullah bin Qutbah Ta‘i martyred Oun bin Abdullah bin Ja’far. Uthman bin Kahlid and Bisher bin Shawoth martyred Abdur Rahman bin Aqeel. Abdullah bin Urah Kashee martyred Ja’far bin Aqeel.
Qasim bin Hasan, Imam Hussain’s nephew and son of Imam Hasan, went to fight. As soon as he entered the battlefield, Umar bin Sa’d bin Nafaill Azdi attacked him viciously from behind. Qasim fell to the ground and shouted, “O my uncle, O my uncle!” When Imam Hussain heard this, he quickly went to his assistance and attacked Umar. Umar tried to save himself but his hand got injured and as he fell, he shouted to his friends. His friends came in such a disorderly fashion that the great commotion caused by their galloping horses crushed him to death. Imam Hussain stood by Qasim and said, “How evil is this group, how wretched are these people who have martyred you? Tomorrow on the Day of Judgement, I will present you in front of Allah Most High and He will decide their fate. I have been forced into such a weak position that even when my nephew calls out to me for help, I cannot help him. I have never before faced such helplessness, and I swear by Allah Most High that my enemies are great in number and my companions are few.” While Imam Hussain was talking to Qasim, he slowly passed away. Imam Hussain carried his body on his back and brought him to where the bodies of Ali Akbar and his other relatives had been placed. Abu Bakr bin Hasn was also attacked and martyred.
MARTYRDOM OF ABDULLAH BIN HUSSAIN
For a short period of time, the battle was less intense so Imam Hussain walked out of the tent. Then he sat down with his son, Abdullah bin Hussain, in his lap. Abdullah bin Hussain was four or five year old at that time. A person from Bani Asad shot an arrow which penetrated Abdullah’s neck, and he was also martyred. Imam Hussain looked up towards the sky and said, “O Allah Most High, if you do not help us, we will be killed one by one. Take revenge on these tyrant people.”
IMAM HUSSAIN’S BROTHERS WERE MARTYRED
Abbas bin Ali, Imam Hussain’s brother called his two other brothers, Abdullah and Ja’far, and said, “Let us fight the enemy who are against Allah Most High and his Prophet, even if we have to be martyred.” They fought with their all hearts, until Hani bin Sabet martyred Abdullah bin Ali and Ja’far bin Ali. A person from the tribe of Bani, Abban bin Daram attacked Uthman bin Ali and knocked him down. Then he got on top of his chest, cut off his head and martyred him. Another person from the same tribe martyred Mohammad bin Ali. Abu Bakr bin Ali was also martyred.
IMAM HUSSAIN WAS LEFT ALONE
Imam Hussain’s sons, nephews, brothers, relatives, friends and supporters – all had been martyred. Imam Hussain was left alone. Imam Hussain was thirsty and tired due to the intense fighting. He started to proceed towards the river Euphrates for a drink. When he was close enough to the river, Haseen bin Numair shot an arrow that hit Imam Hussain in the face. Imam Hussain pulled the arrow out of his face and as he was wiping the blood, he kept saying; “O Allah Most High, punish those who are attacking the grandson of your beloved Prophet. Punish those who use force against me.” Later, Shimar and ten of his men went towards Imam Hussain’s tent. Imam Hussain admonished them saying, “Don’t you have any shame? Are you not afraid of the Hereafter? Have you lost all sense of humanity? Tell your men not to harm the women and children.” When noone answered him, Imam Hussain picked up his sword and started to fight.
Shimar had with him Abdur Rahman bin Jofee, Qasam bin Nazeed Jofee, Sahleh bin Wahhab, Sinan bin AnsNakhee, Khowlah bin Yazid Asbahee, and he shouted to them to surround Imam Hussain and kill him. When they tried to surround Imam Hussain, he attacked them and they all fell to the ground. In the end, they all attacked him simultaneously. Even then, Imam Hussain fought them off. While this was happening, Sayyida Zaynab (Imam Hussain's sister) came out of her tent to see what was happening. When she saw that her brother was being attacked, she looked up towards the sky saying, “O sky, why do you not fall down on the earth when they are attacking Imam Hussain?” She saw Umar bin Sa'd and said to him, "Ibn Sa'd, my brother Hussain will be martyred before your very eyes. Do you not have any shame?" Upon hearing this Umar bin Sa'd's eyes filled with tears and they rolled down into his beard. He had nothing to say in his defence and turned away from Sayyida Zaynab.
Imam Hussain continued fighting, determined not to surrender to those who had marked the beginning of monarchism in Islam. He said to them, "You are hungry for my blood. I swear by Allah Most High, that Allah Most High will not be pleased with you. Allah Most High will punish you for my death and he will take revenge before you even realise that He has done it. And I swear by Allah Most High that if you kill me, the doors of bloodshed will be opened on you, and there will be many killings amongst your people. Why? Because you wish to kill an innocent person and this is not permissible in Islam." When Imam Hussain told them this, not one person answered him. Meanwhile, Imam Hussain was still protecting himself in the fight.
In the back of their minds, all of the soldiers intended not to be the one to actually kill him. In their hearts, they knew that he was the grandson of RasulAllah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and nobody wanted to be that person who is hated and cursed until the Day of Judgement for killing Imam Hussain.
MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HUSSAIN
Shimar shouted to his men, “How cowardly you all are? You cannot even kill an injured person. There are so many of you that if all of you were to throw one stone at a time, he would be killed and buried. So what are you doing? Attack him at once and kill him instantly.” When Imam Hussain heard that Shimar was urging the people to attack him, he said, “The prophecy of RasulAllah has come true. RasulAllah had said that he was looking at a white dog that was sniffing at the blood of his family.” The reason Imam Hussain said this was because Shimar had leprosy. When they heard this, they started to attack. Some of them started to shoot arrows at Imam Hussain. Zurah bin Sahreek Tamimi attacked Imam Hussain on his right shoulder, causing him deep and serious wounds. After that, Sinan bin Anas Nakhee threw a spear at Imam Hussain. The sheer force made Imam Hussain fall to the ground, and Khowla bin Yazid Asbahi came forward with the intention of cutting off Imam Hussain’s head. At that time, Imam Hussain’s whole body was shaking. Sanan said to Khowla, “You get back, I will cut his head off.” He came forward and cut Imam Hussain’s head and separated it from his blessed body. They started to divide Imam Hussain’s belongings amongst themselves. Baher bin Ka’b took Imam Hussain’s shirt, Qais took Imam Hussain’s shoes and Aswad Azdee took his sword. There were spear wounds , and forty-three sword wounds on Imam Hussain’s body. Umar bin Sa’d ordered ten horsemen to ride over Imam Hussain’s body at such a speed that the meat would be separated from the bones.
During the course of the battle 72 people had been killed from the enemy’s side, and 88 people had been martyred from the side of Imam Hussain. Umar bin Sa’d led the funeral prayer for his deceased and buried them, and left Imam Hussain and his followers as they were.
According to the Islamic calendar, it was the time of the Friday prayer on 10th Muharram 61H when Imam Hussain was martyred.
Minhaj al-Nubuwwah (منهـــاج النبـــوة) i.e., the prophet's pathway relates to the social and spiritual guidance of mankind in the light of the Book of Allah, the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah (teachings) of the final messenger, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).