Pages of history bear witness to the fortitude, courage and determination of scores of warriors and fighters who have left indelible marks on the canvas of bravery. Alexander the great, Genghis Khan, Ashoka and many others are remembered for their unprecedented gallantry exhibited in battlefields. But one man stands so tall in the queue of the valiants that others appear as elves before him. Yes, I am talking about Syedna Imam Hussain (AS) who preferred death to dishonour, preferred being slaughtered than to pay homage to Yazid, endured pain rather than begging before tyranny. The prince of paradise led his handful of followers in such a way that the world will fail to produce such valour till the day of resurrection. He (AS) displayed extraordinary patience and intrepidity to uphold the sanctity of great human values and ethos.
The red sand of Karbala is testimony to the cruelties and atrocities inflicted upon Syedna Imam Hussain and his entourage of 72 companions. On the 7th of Muharamul Haraam, Ibni Zyad despatched a letter to Umro bin Sa’ad, asking him to deny water to the hapless guests of Karbala. Umro bin Sa’ad posted five-hundred cavalry men on the banks of river Euphrates to block any possible access of the Hussaini caravan to water. Water was stopped for three consecutive days till the fateful day of 10th Muharamul Haraam. Sizzling Karbala, scorching sand, resolute but helpless Ahli Baiti Rasool (SAW) refused to bow before the despotism of Yazid. Their tongues came out of their mouths but no one asked Hussain for a drop of water, no one complained about thirst, hunger and pain. Patience of the highest standards was displayed by the companions of Hussain who were camped in the blazing sand of Karbala. Here, Hussain AS leaves behind Syedna Ibraheem and Syedna Isma-eel (AS) and their great sacrifice when the father-son duo decided to fullfil the wish of Allah SWT by sacrificing the latter.
When the Yazidi camp saw the parched toddlers craving for some drops of water, they began to make sarcastic comments towards Hussain (AS). An accursed fellow named Abdullah Ibni abi Haseen Azdi remarked sardonically, ” O Hussain, see, how this sky-blue water sends mesmerising vibes through the clear but hot surroundings of Karbalaus. But you and your companions won’t get a solitary drop from it. The water is but for not you.” Hussain (AS) lifted his hands and prayed for more patience and steadfastness.
Though the decisive battle between truth and falsehood had become inevitable, Hussain Ibni Ali (AS) made a last attempt to persuade his enemies to make truce. He didn’t want to be blamed for bloodshed and tribulation. So, he sent a messenger, Umro bin Karzah, to Ibni Sa’ad for a meeting. Ibni Sa’ad accepted the offer and attended the camp of Imam Hussain along with twenty cavalry men. The two had a prolonged private conversation but failed to reach any agreement. Yet, Ibni Sa’ad wrote a letter to Ibni Zyad, the then Governor of Koofa, and informed him about the peacemaking efforts initiated by Syedna Imam Hussain AS. Ibni Zyad received the letter and remarked, “This letter is from a man who is the truest well-wisher of the Caliph and his subjects. So, I must go his ways.” The accursed Shumr stood up and poisoned Ibni Zyad’s ears against Syedna Imam Hussain, and succeeded in changing his verdict. Ibni Zyad ordered ibni Sa’ad either to kill Hussain and his small caravan or leave the chair of army general for Shumr Zil-Joshan. The communique from his governor stunned Ibni Sa’ad but he went on to assail the Hussaini entourage camped in canvas tents, near the river Euphrates, because Ibni Sa’ad was hungry for power.
When Abbas (AS) informed Imam Hussain about the blitz of the Yazidi army led by Ibni Sa’ad, Imam Aali Maqaam asked for a deferment of a night so that they can pray and beg for divinely forgiveness during the night. Ibni Sa’ad went back with his troops but threatened them of dire consequences if they would not accept Yazid as their caliph. During the gloomy night, Imam Hussain delivered an emotional sermon to his family and companions. He told his friends and relatives that their martyrdom is sure to occur after the dawn of the morning. He asked his relatives and friends to flee from the spot because Yazid was thirsty of his blood alone. But the loyal companions who were carrying the longings of Shahadah in their hearts exhibited iron-willed determination to fight tooth and nail against the Yazidi army.
The handful of people began their preparation for the battle. Finally, at the dawn of 10th Muharamul Haraam, the Hussaini followers prostrated their heads for the last Fajr Namaz of their lives. Hungry and thirsty for last three days, the caravan showed unprecedented patience, perseverance and bravery. No one had swallowed a drop of water or a morsel of food for the last three days, but still everyone was contented and calm. Yazidi army led by Ibni Sa’ad was ready to pounce upon the innocent and hapless entourage of Hussain. Imam Aali Maqaam entered the battlefield with a last intent to persuade his enemies to let him go. But the Yazidi commanders were deaf to his pleadings. The pitiful and heart-rending speech couldn’t move anyone from the rival camp except Hurr (AS) whose heart melted with the light of eeman.
Hurr (AS) approached Ibni Sa’ad to make peace but the power hungry Sa’ad refused his proposal of peace. Now, the war had become inexorable. Hurr realised the fact that the sand of Karbala is all set to turn red with the blood of innocent Ahli Bait. It sent shivers down his spine, his face paled. Someone asked Hurr about the unusual change and he replied, “I am not afraid of death, but I am worried about Imam Hussain and his dear ones. Even if I am set ablaze or my body is torn into pieces, I won’t leave my association with Hussain (AS).” With this, he mounted his horse and reached the tent of Imam Hussain (AS) and said pleadingly, “O grandson of Mohammad (SAW ), I am guilty before God and man, I have aggrieved you a lot. I am ashamed of my behaviour, I beg your pardon for my follies.” With this, he whipped his horse and ran towards the Yazidi camp. He made a daring speech in front of Yazidi army stations. Then he rode back to his own camp.
Ibni Sa’ad ordered his troops to march ahead towards the rival camp. He shot the first arrow at the Hussaini camp himself. Hurr, Abdullah bin Umair Kalbi, Abdullah bin Muslim bin Aqeel, Qasim bin Hassan, Abbas, Ali Akbar exhibited valour and heroism of the highest standard. They fought like lions before tasting martyrdom. Nineteen-year-old Qasim, the nephew of Imam Hussain, was so pretty and charming that one of the rival soldiers called him “fragment of the moon”. Before attaining martyrdom, Qasim despatched some infamous warriors from the enemy camp to hellfire. Another apple of Imam Hussain’s eyes was his son, eighteen-year-old Ali Akbar. When he saw his father approaching the battlefield, he ran and embraced his father, and said, “Aba Jaan, go back and take care of toddler Ali Asgar, ailing Zainulabideen and our mothers and sisters. I will go to prove my valiance and courage.” Imam Aali Maqaam broke down, tears rolled down his face. He hugged his son tightly, and with heavy heart bade farewell to him.
Every companion fought valiantly and caused immense damage to the enemies. Finally, Imam Aali Maqaam, the beloved grandson of Rasooli Arabi (SAW), the darling of Fatima and Ali, the prince of youth in paradise, the epitome of patience and courage, came out of his tent like the lion. Ibni Sa’ad had reserved his best fighters for Imam Hussain (AS). Tameem bin Qahatba, Badr bin Suhail and his four sons, and other well-known swordsmen from Syria and Iraq fell prey to the exemplary swordsmanship and valour of Imam Hussain (AS). When Ibni Sa’ad lost every hope to overcome Imam Hussain, he ordered his troops to shower arrows on Hussain from all sides. A poisoned arrow hit his forehead, Imam Aali Maqaam fell down, and the damned Sanaan hit him with a spear and Syedna Imam Hussain (AS) closed his eyes to leave for the eternal journey to meet his Nana Jan, Mohammad Rasoolulah (SAW).
The writer is a teacher and columnist. [email protected]