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With Hamd and Shukr and encouragement and support of my readers, in humility beginning my personal OHBAT by sharing excerpts from book readings to understand the historical events leading to the Tragedy of Karbala.

Feedbacks received from a few to whome I am deeply indebted have requested me to share historical narrative of the tragedy of Karbala.

On the death of Muawiyah in middle of Rajab 60 AH/ March 680 AD Yezid ascended the throne according to his father’s testament.

The accession of Yezid gave death stroke to the republican principle that ‘ the Caliph should be elected by the plebiscite of the people – a principle to which Arabs were so devoted, which had let them to ignore the right of Moulana Ali to the spiritual and temporal leadership of Islam.

Yezid was both cruel and treacherous, his depraved nature knew no pity or justice. His pleasures were as degrading as his companions were low and vicious. He insulted the ulemas ( religious leaders) of his Court by dressing up a monkey in the robes of ulema and making it ride on a beautifully decorated Syrian donkey wherever he went.

Drunken riotousness prevailed at court, and general masses imitated their Caliph in the streets.

On becoming Caliph he immediately wrote letters to all his Ummayad agents to obtain people’s renewed oath of allegiance in his favour.

When Yezid assumed power Walid bin Utbah was the Governor of Medina, ‘Amr bin ‘As of Makka, Nouman bin Basir of Kufa and Ubaydullah bin Ziyad of Basrah.

The letter of Yezid reached Walid bin Utbah the Governor of Medina in the evening. He attached a short note to him instructing him to exert utmost pressure and be quick in obtaining oath from 3 persons namely Imam Hussain – Abdullah bin Umar and Abdullah bin Zubayr.

Walid bin Utba consulted with Marwan bin Hakam the former Governor, who adviced to summon the three persons that very night before the death of Muawiyah reaches the general public

Accordingly Walid despatched Abdullah bin Amir who found Imam Hussain and Abdullah bin Zubayr in Masjid ul Nabawi. Al -Zubayr got scared at such an untimely summon but Imam Hussain knew what was to transpire. Imam Hussain had a dream the night before that Muawiya’s house was ablaze and his mimbar toppled. Imam knew that Muawiya has died and Yezid has ascended.

Imam Hussain accompanied by thirty of his companions and relatives armed, instructiing them to wait outside met Walid who asked Imam Hussain to give oath to Yezid.

Imam Hussain managed to convince Walid that for a person of his stature, it would be befitting to take oath in front of general public.

However the wily Marwan told Walid that if the oath is not taken now he will never be able to do so.

Marwan told Walid to seize Imam Hussain and do not let him leave without pledging allegiance, or execute him as instructed by Yazid.

On hearing this Imam Hussain stood up and said to Marwan ‘ Son of a blue eyed mother ( referring to Marwan’s grand mother who was of ill repute) You or he wish to kill me ? By Allah you are a liar and a sinner’

This led to a heated debate and a few of the armed companions rushed in, and Imam Hussain left unharmed.

With the following words Imam Hussain confronted Walid when he asked for allegiance to Yezid.

ايّها الامير! انّا اهلبيت النّبوّة ومعدن الرّسالة ومختلف…….
“O Amir! We are the Ahl al-Bayt of the prophethood, and the source of the Divine mission; [our house] is the frequenting place of angels, and the landing site of the Divine grace. Allah started [Islam] with us [our family] and will continue it to the end with us. Yazid [with whom you expect me to take the oath of allegiance] is a man accustomed to drinking wine and has slain [lots of] innocent people, a person who infringes the Divine laws, and openly commits all sorts of lewdness and impiety. Is it fair that such a person like me– with those outstanding background and high family nobility – takes an oath of allegiance with such a profligate?

However, you and I must consider the future, and you will realise which of us is more appropriate for assuming the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim ummah, and more fitting for receiving the people’s allegiance.”

As soon as the inhabitants of Kufa were informed of Imam Hussain’s brave refusal and as he left Medina for Makkah , they dispatched letters of invitation to him.

Imam Husayn set out from Medina on Sunday night, two days before the end of Rajab 60 Hijri after entrusting the affairs of his Ummah to his brother Muhmmad bin Hanafiyah, who requested Imam Hussain to travel to Makka and seek sanctury in the Haram Sharif.

On the way, Husayn met ‘Abdallah b. Muti‘ who asked him,“I wish I could sacrifice my life in place of yours. Where doyou intend to go?” He replied, “At present, towards Mecca but; after that, the choice rests with Allah”

Just pause here and reflect at the answer of Imam Husyn.
Submission to the Will of Allah.

‘Abdallah bin Muti advised him thus “May God choose the best course for you, but after arriving in Mecca be wary of proceeding to
Kufah for it is an unlucky city where your father was killed and your brother abandoned and struck by a blow that almost killed him. Instead, stay in the sacred sanctuary of Mecca, for you are the unique and unrivaled prince of the
Arabs. By God, the people will come to you from all directions to support you. Do not leave the sacred precincts. Allah forbid, if you die we all will be enslaved’

Imam Husayn continued his journey till he reached Mecca. The journey took five days. It was Friday night on the third of Sha‘ban. He stayed in Mecca for the months of Sha‘ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhulqa‘dah and until the 9th of Dhulhijjah. The people of Mecca began to
visit Husayn, along with those who had come to perform the
‘umrah from far away.

Before the arrival of Imam Husayn Ibn Zubayr had established himself near the Ka‘bah, He regularly would visit Husayn, but the Imama’s presence in Mecca was a source of much discomfort to him, for he was aspiring for leadership, and knew that the status and lofty rank of Imam will not make it possible as people if Hijaz flocked towards Imam in greater numbers to seek blessing and advice.
The Kufan response when they came to know that Imam Husyn has refused to give oath and left Medina and travelling to Mecca.

The Shi‘ah had gathered in the house of Sulayman b. Surad Khuza‘i, where he addressed the people: “Mu‘awiyah is dead, and Imam Husayn has refused to pledge allegiance and instead has gone to Mecca. You are his Shi‘ah and the Shi‘ah of his father. If you are confident that you can support him and battle against his enemies, then write to inform him.

However, if you fear weakness and lack of determination, do not deceive him into risking his own life.”
They replied, “No, indeed we will fight against his enemy and our lives will be sacrificed for him.” He said,
“Then write to him,” and they wrote as follows:

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
To Husayn b. ‘Ali from Sulayman b. Surad, Musayyib b. Najabah, Rifa‘ah b. Shaddad, Habib b. Muzahir and his Shi‘ah of believers and Muslims in Kufah. Peace be with you. We praise God, other that whom there is no deity. Praise be to
God who destroyed your enemy, the stubborn oppressor who took over guardianship …away usurped the fay’and took control without people’s consent. ( Referring to Muawiyah)

Then, he killed the best ones and preserved the wicked. He made God’s wealth circulate among the tyrants and the wealthy. He was destroyed just as Thamud faced destruction.

We have no imam. Therefore,
come ,perhaps through you God shall unite us on the truth. We do not gather with Nu‘man b. Bashir for Friday prayer or prayer of the Festival. Once we learn that you have accepted to come to us, we will chase him away to Syria, God-willing.
Peace and mercy of God be with you.

This letter was sent with ‘Abdallah b. Sabu‘ Hamdani and ‘Abdallah b. Wali Tamimi. They hurried forth
till they reached Imam Husayn in Mecca on 10 Ramadan.
Two days later Qays b. Mushir Saydawi, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Abdallah b. Kadan Arhabi and ‘Umarah b. ‘Ubayd Saluli were sent to Husayn carrying about 150 letters. Each letter was written by one person or a group of two or four persons.

Many such letters followed in the coming days.

Muslim b. ‘Aqil Sets out for Kufah.

Imam Husayn called for Muslim b. ‘Aqil and sent him with Qays b. Mushir , ‘Umarah b. ‘Ubayd and ‘Abd al Rahman b. ‘Abdallah to the people of Kufah with instructions to act with piety and God consciousness , to be cautious and discreet, and to treat the people with kindness and affection.

He instructed his messenger to inform him immediately if the
people are united in their commitment and support for him.

Muslim b. ‘Aqil staying in the house of Mukhtar Thaqafi manages to secure allegiance from many prominent Shi’a leaders and masses and the news of the development in Kufah reaches Yejid , who consults Sarjun who advices him to replace Numan Bashir who is soft and complacent with Basra Governor ‘Ubaydallah b. Ziyad.

Ibn Ziyad entered Kufah with his face covered with a veil. The Shi’a who had anticipated the arrival of Imam Husyn and thinking that finally the Imam has arrived sent out loud greetings ‘ Welcome O son of our beloved Nabi, your arrival is a blessed event ‘

Ibn Ziyad became very angry, he had already in Basrah intercepted the messanger of Imam Husyn, read the letter Imam had written to the Shi’a, and executed the messanger.

Thus he was fully aware of the development. He entered the palace, removed Numan Bashir and a call was given for the people to gather. He threatened to actively crush the revolt.

This unfortunate development made Muslim b. ‘Aqil leave the house of Mukhtar, which was no longer safe and seek refuse in the house of Hani b. Urwah.

Ibn Ziyad entrusts the work of spying to Maq’il giving him three thousand dirhams. Maqi’l manages to win confidence of Muslim b.Awsajah by wrongly confiding to him that he wants to give allegiance to Imam Husyn and requests him to hand over three thousand dirhams, to one who has arrived at Kufah and possibly arrange a meeting.

Muslim tells him to contact after a few days, so that he may get an audience arranged.

During this period two opportunities presented themselves that Muslim bin Aquil could have easily got rid of the tyrant Ubbaydallah bin Ziyad.

The first one at a time when Ibn Ziyad paid a visit to Hani bin Urwah, a notable and respected leader of Kufah when Hani had taken ill. It was a most opportune moment, but the reluctance of Hani to kill the tyrant when he was at his home, saved his life

The second opportunity presented again within a few days when a staunch Shi’ite Sharik b. A’war, like Hani held in high esteem at the Court fell ill and Ibn Ziyad called upon him in the evening.

This time however Sharik said to Muslim. ” This immoral tyrant will visit me in the evening. When he sits down, approach him and kill him. Then, take over his place in the palace, for there is no one to
prevent you. If I recover from this ailment in the next few days, I will go to Basrah and take over the affairs on your behalf.”

But belief not to strike the enemy from the back, the reluctance of Muslim or for whatever reason, this time also Ibn Ziyad left for the palace unharmed.

I ask Why O Why !! I know after reading, you also must be feeling the same way.

Here I would like my readers to pause and reflect. Akhbar is Anw’ar. If the tyrant Ibn Ziyad had been killed Muslim bin Aquil could have taken over the city of Kufah easily as allegiance of the powerful and general masses had been secured and Sharik bin Awa’r as stated would have taken over the reigns of Basra and Imam Husyn would have him welcomed in both the Iraq cities poseing a serious challenge to Yezid.

But it was not to be.

Reflect – reflect – reflect !

What about the emancipation of the true followers of Ahle bait ( AS) – what about us mumineen and our generation to come till the day of kiyamat – the promise that Imam Husyn had made to nana Nabi ( SA) in his childhood to repay the debt of the Ummah. These are just a few of reasons that come to mind readily. There may be many other which we may know not, that history took a different turn and the tragedy of Karbala happened.

The immense suffering, thirst deprivation and cruelty that Imam Husyn and his Ahle bait and valiant and dedicated Ash’ab kirams faced on the burning sands of Karbala was for our emancipation and that of our fore fathers  and our generations to come. So cry out aloud mumineen, cry out ! do not hold back your tears, your emotions.

Just think it was  for you and you alone that Imam Husyn suffered, so that you can live a life of peace and plenty. Mourn him mumineen. Hear his call as he rode all alone to face the enemy crying out aloud ‘ halmin naserin yansurna – is there anybody to help me ‘  was Imam Husyn seeking help from the Ummayads ? No ! Never ! They had mercilessly killed his near and dear ones, not even sparing the thirsty six month old masoom Ali Asgar

So to who Imam Husyn was calling out on the day of Ashura ?

It was to you mumineen and the generations that preceded you and the generation to come till the day of Kayamah.

This  call was made to YOU by your Moula – cry out aloud, bring to mind the radiant face of Muffadal Moula and cry out aloud !!
May Allah Bless you

Such historical incidents make us reflect and we come to accept the Will of Allah the All Knowing All Wise.

Imam Husyn from the very onset knew how history would unfold and the hiqmaah behind it.

For layman like us the Akhbar gives us Anwa’r that in life everything happens for a purpose, we may be ignorant of the ‘whys’ , but we should accept life challenges and difficulties stoically for Allah Knows Best.

to be continued ….

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