Imam Hussain (A.S) and his entourage reached Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 A.D. By then, Umar bin Saad’s letter to Ibne Ziyad, regarding the Imam’s demands had been delivered (read footnote for details), and a reply dispatched. At first the rational requests of the Imam convinced Ibne Ziyad, who agreed to comply with the demands. However, Shimr, who was present at the time the letter was being read out, demanded reconsideration. He argued that giving into the demands of a person as powerful as Imam Hussain (A.S) could be immensely damaging to their government. He said that if the Imam walked away without swearing allegiance to Yazid, then he would emerge more powerful and victorious that he had been before. When he mentioned knowing about secret meetings between Umar bin Saad and Imam Hussain (A.S), Ibn e Ziyad revised his decision and a different message was dispatched.
His orders to Umar bin Saad were of utmost brutality. He chided bin Saad for believing that a compromise could be reached between the two parties, and ordered him to immediately kill the Imam and his followers if they did not swear loyalty to the government. The orders were to decapitate the men, leave their bodies in the battleground and to let their horses run over the bodies of the dead. Umar bin Saad was shaken by the cruel nature of the letter, however, blinded by the greed for power, he agreed to do as instructed by the governor.
By night, Imam Hussain (A.S) could see men from the enemies camps marching towards their camps. He instructed Hazrat Abbas, his brother, to prepare to attack the enemy. Hazrat Abbas asked the Imam’s permission to go and question these men first. The Imam agreed. Umar bin Saad informed Hazrat Abbas about the letter’s contents, and in turn, he asked for a day’s time to pray and read the Quran. He asked to let them prepare for battle until the next day, and agreed to leave the rest up to the will of God. After this, each one returned to their respective camps.
One of the important moments before either side went to war includes the sermon of Imam Hussain (A.S). When he saw that war was now inevitable, the Imam mounted a camel and addressed the enemies of Islam in the following words,
“O people do not rush to kill me as I am the grandson of our Prophet, 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 who am I? If you want to know about me, go and ask the Prophet’s companions who are still alive. Go and ask Jaffer bin Abdullah, Abu Sa’id, Suhail bin Sa’d, Zaid bin Arkam and Anas bin Malik. They will tell you how the Prophet used to love us. Tell me is it right for you to receive me with unsheathed 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 want to support me.”
Right before the two sides went to war, Hur, who had initially led the army that surrounded the Imam’s camps, felt more and more dedicated to the Imam. He questioned Umar bin Saad whether Ibne Ziyad had agreed to the conditions of the Imam, and the answer was in negative. Hur felt ashamed of himself for going up against the grandson of the Holy Prophet (A.S), and decided to ask for his forgiveness.
When he reached the Imam’s side, his legs were trembling. Imam Hussain (A.S) noticed this and asked the reason of his nervousness. He replied that he felt responsible for their problems and that had he not stopped them from going back to Mecca, the situation would not be so. He said that he was trying to choose Heaven over Hell, but he did not know whether Allah would forgive him, for he had landed the Imam and his followers in trouble. Imam Hussain (A.S) replied that if Hur asked for forgiveness, Allah would definitely forgive him. He added that he, too, would pray for his forgiveness. Having joined the Imam’s army, Hur then addressed the rest of Umar bin Saad’s army. He reminded them of the blessings they would receive in Heaven if they fought by the Imam’s side, and how they would rot in Hell if they fought against the Imam. During this speech, the men from the enemies’ camps began shooting arrows at him, and Hur returned back to the tent.
TOMORROW: 10th Muharram, 61 A.H. THE MARTYRS.
Quote reference: islamicinformationcentre.co.uk
Demands of the Prophet’s Grandson to Ibne Ziyad (as written by Umar bin Saad in his letter):
1. Allow him to return to Makkah where he had come from.
2. Allow him to join one of the forces that are in Jihad with the non-believers, so he may fight along side them.
3. Take him to king Yazid in Syria so he may personally have a conversation with him.