Imam’s Journey Continues…

In: Muharram

Al-Husain (A) considered that caravan his own wealth that Allah Almighty put at his disposal on account of his being the Imam appointed by the Omnipotent, Praise to Him. Yazid and his father had already confiscated what belonged to him as well as what belonged to the Muslims, so it became mandatory on him to take control of the Muslims’ spoils to distribute to the needy among them. He, indeed, gave of it generously to the bedouins who accompanied him on the way and who complained to him of the pain of poverty from which they were suffering. But it was a destiny that the Master of the Youths of Paradise could not give what the oppressors had confiscated of Prophet Muhammad’s nation back to its rightful owners, although his precious sacrifice removed from visions the veils of the misguidance of those who transgressed on Divine Authority.


At al-Sifah, al-Husain (A) met al-Farazdaq Ibn Ghalib, the poet, so he asked him about the people whom he had left behind. Al-Farazdaq said, “Their hearts are with you; the swords are with Banu Umayyah, and Destiny descends from the heavens!” Abu ‘Abdullah (A) said, “You have said the truth To Allah belongs the affair, and Allah does whatever He pleases. Every day, our Lord deals with a matter. If Destiny descends with what we love, we shall praise Allah for His blessings, and He is the One Whose help we seek so that we may thank Him enough But if we are destined not to attain our desires, then none whose intention is to effect righteousness, and whose heart is full of piety, has transgressed.” Al-Farazdaq asked the Imam (A) about his verdicts regarding issues such as nathr, rituals, etc. After that, they parted. [3]

Thar ‘Irq

Abu ‘Abdullah (A) heedlessly marched on. At That ‘Irq [4] he met Bishr Ibn Ghalib and asked him about the people of Kufa. “Their swords are with Banu Umayyah,” he said, “and their hearts are with you.” “You have said the truth,” said the Imam (A). [5]


Having reached al-Hajir [6] from the direction of al-Rumma, he sent the people of Kufa the answer to the letter he had received from Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil and dispatched it with Qays Ibn Mushir al-Saydawi [7].  In it, he said, “Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil’s letter reached me. In it, he informs me of your consensus to support us and to demand our rights; therefore, I plead to Allah to enable us to do what is good and to reward you with the greatest of His rewards. I have come to you from Mecca on the eighth of Thul-Hijjah; so, if my messenger reaches you, maintain your stand, for I shall reach you in a few days.

Some Informers

Al-Husain (A) departed from al-Hajir. As he passed by each watering place of the Arabs, the number of those who joined him kept increasing [8]. Finally he reached a watering place where he met ‘Abdullah Ibn Muti’ al-’Adawi. When the latter came to know that al-Husain (A) intended to reach Iraq, he said to him, “I fear for you, O son of the Messenger of Allah, lest the sanctity of Islam should be violated, and I plead to you in the Name of Allah with regard to the Arab’s sanctity. By Allah! If you seek what is in the hands of Banu Umayyah, they will kill you, and once they have killed you, they will not fear anyone else after you,” but al-Husain (A) insisted on marching [9].


He, peace be upon him, stayed at al-Khuzaymiyya [10] for one day and one night. In the morning, his sister Zainab, peace be upon her, came to him and said, “I heard a voice saying:

O eyes, do exceedingly celebrate!
Who, after me, shall the martyrs mourn?
Who shall mourn folks driven by fate
To their destiny, to fulfill a promise sworn?”
He said, “O sister! Whatever is decreed shall come to pass
.” [11]


When al-Husain (A) reached Zarud [12], Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn al-Bijli [13], who did not support him and even hated to be near him, alighted near him. Water gathered them somehow at the same place. As Zuhayr and his group were eating, a messenger sent by al-Husain (A) came to them inviting Zuhayr to meet his master Abu ‘Abdullah (A). Zuhayr hesitated to say anything, but his wife, Dulham daughter of ‘Amr, urged him to meet the Imam (A) and to listen to what he had to say [14].

Zuhayr, therefore, went and swiftly returned elated with his face showing signs of excitement. He ordered all is belongings to be packed. He also ordered everyone to go to the Master of the Youths of Paradise (A). He said to his wife, “Go to your family, for I hate to see you receiving any harm on my account.” Then he said to those around him, “Whoever among you loves to support the son of the Messenger of Allah (S), let him join us; otherwise, this should be the last time I see you.”

Zuhayr’s wife said, “Allah has chosen this honour for you, and I request you to remember me on the Day of Judgment and say a good word on my behalf to al-Husain’s grandfather, peace be upon him.” [15]

At Zarud, the Imam (A) was informed of how Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil and Hani Ibn ‘Urwah were killed, so he kept repeating: Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi rajia’un (We belong to Allah, and to Him shall we return), as he wept, pleading to Allah to have mercy on them [16]. With him the Hashemites wept, too, and there was a great deal of wailing coming from the women’s quarters, so much so that the whole place was shaken because of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil being killed. Tears poured profusely. [17]


At al-Tha’labiyya, a man came to Imam al-Husain (A) and asked him about the meaning of the verse saying,

(Remember) the Day when We will call every people by their Imam” (Qur’an, 17:71).

He, peace be upon him, said to him,

An Imam calls others for guidance and is answered positively, while another imam calls others to misguidance and is also answered positively: this group shall be in Paradise, and that shall be in hell, and it is the explanation of the verse saying,

‘A party shall be in Paradise, and another shall be in the burning fire’ (Qur’an, 42:7).” [18]

At the same place, a man from Kufa met him. The Imam said to him, “By Allah! Had I met you in Medina, I would have showed you the marks Gabriel had left in our house and the place where he used to descend with revelation to my grandfather, O brother of Kufa! It is from us that knowledge initiates. Have they become learned while we became ignorant? This shall never be. [19]

Bajir, of al-Tha’labiyya, narrates saying, “Al-Husain passed by us when I was a young lad. My brother said to him, ‘O son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah! I see your followers to be very small in number.’ With his whip he pointed to a saddlebag a man was carrying [for him] and said, ‘This is full of letters.‘” [20]


At al-Shuquq [21], al-Husain (A) saw a man coming from Kufa [22], so he asked him about the people of Iraq. He informed the Imam (A) that they were all against him. He, peace be upon him, said, “The affair is with Allah; our Lord does whatever He pleases. Our Lord, Praise to Him, each day manages the affairs.” Then he quoted the following verses of poetry [23]:

If this abode is held as dear,
In the abode of Allah, the rewards
Are more sublime and noble.
If wealth is hoarded to be left behind,
Why should one be miser with what is left?
If sustenance is destined in proportion,
To be less concerned about it is more beautiful.
And if the bodies are for death made,
One killed for the sake of Allah is surely better. So peace of Allah be upon you,
O family of Muhammad!
For I see myself from you soon departing.


At Zubala, he was informed that ‘Abdullah Ibn Yaqur, the man dispatched by al-Husain (A) to Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil, had been killed. Al-Hasin Ibn Namir arrested him at al-Qadisiyya and sent him to ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad who ordered him to ascend the pulpit and to curse the liar son of the liar. When ‘Abdullah Ibn Yaqtur looked at the people from the pulpit, he said, “O people! I am the messenger of al-Husain son of Fatima (A) to you so that you may support and assist him against the son of Marjana,” whereupon ‘Ubaydullah ordered him thrown from the mansion’s rooftop. He was hurled down from there. His bones were crushed, but he did not die. A man named ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr al-Lakhmi came to him and cut his throat. When the latter was shamed for having done so, he said, “I killed him in order to put an end to his suffering.” It is also said that the man who killed him was tall and that he looked like ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr.

The Imam (A) informed those who were in his company of what had happened, giving them the option to leave. They dispersed right and left. Those who remained with him were his own companions who had come with him from Mecca. Actually, a large number of bedouins had joined him thinking that he was going to a land where he would be welcomed by supporting natives. He, peace be upon him, hated for them to march with him except with their knowledge of what to expect, knowing fully well that if he permitted them to leave, only those who were ready to support him to the end would remain. [24]

In the Heartland of al-Aqaba
The Imam (A) left Zubala, reaching al-’Aqaba’s heartland where he said to his companions, “There is no doubt in my mind that I am going to be killed. In a vision, I saw myself being mauled by dogs the most fierce among them was spotted. [25]

‘Amr Ibn Lawthan, of Banu ‘Ikrimah, suggested to him to return to Medina due to the treachery and betrayal upon which the people of Kufa were bent. Abu ‘Abdullah, peace be upon him, said, “I am not unfamiliar with their attitude, yet Allah’s will shall never be overruled.” [26]

Then he, peace be upon him, said, “They shall not leave me till I am dead, and once they have done it, Allah will send upon them those who will humiliate them till they become the most abased among all nations.[27]

To be continued…


Maqtal al-Husain: Martrydom Epic of Imam al-Husain (A) by ‘Abd al Razzaq al-Muqarram 
Published by: Al-Kharsan Foundation for Publications, Beirut, Lebanon, 1426 AH/2005 AD


[1] On p. 416, Vol. 2, of Yaqut al-Hamawi’s Mu’jam al-Buldan, it is said to be a place located two farasangs from Mecca.

[2] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 218. Al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husain, Vol. 1, p. 220. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, Vol. 8, p. 166. Shaikh Al-Mufid, Al-Irshad. Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Azan, p. 21. Ibn Abul-Hadid, Shar Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 4, p. 327 (first Egyptian edition).

[3] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 218. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 16. Al-Thahbi, Tathkirat al-uffa, Vol. 1, p. 338.

[4] Sayyid ‘Ali Khan, Anwar al-Rabi’, p. 703, in a chapter dealing with repetition.

[5] According to p. 317, Vol. 2, of Al-Bar al-Ra’iq by the Hanafi author Ibn Najim, it is located at the distance of two stages between That ‘Irq and Mecca. On p. 216, Vol. 2, of Ibn Muflih’s book Al-Furu’, it is said to be located at the distance of two days’ travel. It is named as such after a small mountain in its locality as indicated on p. 8, Vol. 7, of Taj al-’Arus.

[6] According to Mu’jam al-Buldan, “al-hajir” is a water jetty built at the borders of a valley as a safeguard against the flood. On p. 290, Vol. 4, however, it is also referred to as a resting area for those travelling from Bara to Medina, a place where the people of Kufa and Bara meet.

[7] On p. 152 of ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Fattal al-Naishapuri’s book Rawat al-Wa’iin, it is indicated that he was dispatched by ‘Abdullah Ibn Yaqtur, and it is quite possible he had sent them two letters, one with ‘Abdullah Ibn Yaqur and another with Qays Ibn Mushir. On p. 492, Vol. 3, of Al-Isaba (of Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani), following the discussion of Qay’s lineage, the author says, “He was with al-Husain (‘a) when he [al-Husain (‘a)] was killed at the Taff.” This is incorrect. Ibn Ziyad killed the man at Kufa.

[8] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, Vol. 8, p. 168.

[9] al-Mufid, Al-Irshad.

[10] It is named after Khuzaymah Ibn Hazim and it is located one stage after Zarud on a traveller’s way from Kufa to Mecca.

[11] Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Azan, p. 23.

[12] On p. 327, Vol. 4, of Mu’jam al-Buldan, it is described as sand dunes between al-Tha’labiyya and al-Khuzaymiyya on a pilgrim’s way coming from Kufa, and it lies one mile from al-Khuzaymiyya. There is a lake in it, and it is the site of the Battle of Zarud.

[13] Having discussed the Bijli tribes, Ibn Hazm, on p. 365 of his book Jamharat Ansab al-’Arab, says, “[His full name is:] Zuhayr Ibn al-Qayn Ibn al-Harith Ibn Amir Ibn Sa’d Ibn Malik Ibn Zuhayr Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Yashkur Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Malik Ibn Sa’d Ibn Tuzayn Ibn Qasr Ibn ‘Abqar Ibn Anmar Ibn Arash Ibn ‘Amr Ibn al-Ghawth Ibn Nabt Ibn Malik Ibn Zayd Ibn Kaylan Ibn Saba’.” On p. 310, the author traces the lineage of Saba’ [known to Westerners as Sheba] thus: “Saba’ Ibn Ya’rub Ibn Qahtan (Joktan).”

[14] Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf, p. 40.

[15] Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Azan, p. 23. Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf, p. 40.

[16] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 995. Ibn Kathir, on p. 168, Vol. 8, of his book Al-Bidaya, says that he did so repeatedly.

[17] Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf, p. 41. But I could not find even one reliable reference stating that al-Husain (A) took Muslim’s daughter Hamida by the head, so she sensed that something terrible must have happened.

[18] as-Saduq, Amali, p. 93. Al-Tha’labiyya was named after a man belonging to Banu Asad named Tha’labah who had been there and who was able to dig a well in it. It is one stage after al-Shuquq for one travelling from Kufa to Mecca as we are told by Mu’jam al-Buldan. On p. 35, Vol. 2, of al-Samhudi’s book Wafa’ al-Wafa’, it is an area located near a watering place called al-Tha’labiyya. On p. 311 of al-Ya’qubi’s book Al-Buldan, and also according to the offset edition of Ibn Rastah’s book Al-A’laq al-Nafisa, it is a city surrounded by a bulwark.

[19] al-Saffar, Baa ‘ir al-Darajat, p. 3. It is also recorded in al-Kafi’s Usul, in a chapter headed “Knowledge Derived from the Fountainhead of the Prophet’s Family.”

[20] al-Thahbi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, Vol. 3, p. 205.

[21] According to p. 213, Vol. 2, of Ibn Shahr Ashub’s book, it is one stage following Zubala on the way of one who travels from Kufa to Mecca, and it belongs to Banu Asad. According to Mu’jam al-Buldan, al-Abadi’s grave lies there.

[22] On p. 233, Vol. 1, of his book Maqtal al-Husain, al-Khawarizmi claims he was al-Farazdaq, the poet, but this is an error that he made.

[23] Ibid. But al-Khawarizmi does not quote the fifth line of the original Arabic text, attributing these lines to the Imam, peace be upon him.

[24] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 226. It is located after al-Shuquq on a traveller’s way from Kufa to Mecca. There is a fort there and a mosque for Banu Asad named after Zubala daughter of Mas’ar, a woman belonging to the ‘Amaliqah. The Battle of Zubala is well known to the Arabs, and there are some narrators of hadith whose last names are derived from Zubala as we are told by Mu’jam al-Buldan.

[25] Ibn Qawlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 75.

[26] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 226.

[27] al-Mufid, Irshad. Shaikh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Nafs al-Mahmum, p. 98 and following pages, first edition (Iran).


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