Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad in Kufa

Throughout his way from Basra to Kufa, 'Ubaydullah, accompanied by fivmen, did not stop for fear that Imam al-Husayn (a) would precede him. He disguised himself with black clothes so that people would take him for the Imam. He entered the city and hurried towards the Qasr al-Imarah -Govervorate Mansion- in fear and resentment because people welcomed him warmly as they really took him for Imam al-Husayn (a).5 As he reached there and knocked the door, the governor of Kufa, al-Nu'man ibn Bashir, who also thought of him as the Imam (a) shouted from the balcony, "Son of Allah's messenger, I will not fulfill my pledge to you and I do not want to fight you..."6 "Open the door," shouted 'Ubaydullah, "You will suffer long nighttime!"7

5- See Muhammad ibn al-Fattal al-Nisapuri, Rawdat al-Wa'izhin, p.174.
6- See Abu-Mikhnaf al-Azd, Maqtal al-Husayn, p.28.
7- See Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-'Amili, Lawa'ij al-Ashjan, p.44.

Some of the crowded people who walked behind him knew his reality; they therefore shouted, "This is indeed son of Marjanah." Thus, they ran away with their hearts filled in with terror. 'Ubaydullah went towards the mansion and seized the weapons and fortune. He was gathered around by the agents of the Umayyd dynasty, such as 'Umar ibn Sa'd, Shamr ibn Dhi'l-Jawshan, Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath, and other famous names among the hypocrites of Kufa. They began discussing the matter of the expected revoution and its chiefs, and went on plotting for eradicating it.1

Next morning, 'Ubaydullah gathered the people in the Grand Masjid of Kufa to declare his being the new governor. He promised the obedient with big prizes and threatened the disobedient with persecution and the mutineers with harsh punishment.2 he then showed items of horror by putting to death some individuals before he had interrogated them.3 He also filled the prisons with innocent people. All these means were purposed for controlling the country completely. Once he knew about 'Ubaydullah's arrival, Muslim changed his residential place. He moved to the house of Hani' ibn 'Urwah, one of the most celebrated personalities of Kufa, who welcomed him hospitably and received is partisans to plan for the revolution. The success that 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad achieved in the political fields is ascribed to the series of plans that he made, The introductory step was syaing on the movements of Muslim to circulate his activities and realiz his points of power and weakness. 'Ubaydullah chose his servant, Mu'qal, for this mission. He gave some money and ordered him

1- See baqir Sharif al-Qarashi, al-'Abbas ibn 'Ali, p.133.
2- See al-Fadl ibn Hasan al-Tabarsi, I'lam al-Wara bi A'lam al-Huda, vol. 1,p.438.
3- See Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki, al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p.197.

to contact with the significant members of the revolution by claiming that he shows loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and that he had come to kufa because he heard the call of Imam al-Husayn (a). Mi'qal could first reach Muslim ibn 'Awsajah and show him false loyalty and, unfortunately, the latter was decieved; he therefore showed Mi'qal the residential place of Muslim ibn 'aqil. Thus, Mi'qal frequented about the place and could comprehend everything about the expected revolt and report to his master, son of Marjanah.1

The second and most dangerous process was arresting Hani' ibn 'Urwah who was chief of the tribes of Midhhaj -the great majority of the inhabitants of Kufa. This procedure spread a big wave of horror among people and sent a destructive strike to the expected revolution. Before 'Ubaydullah, Hani' denied the accusation; hence, they summoned Mi'qal, the spy, to testify of the truth, However, Hani' refused to give up his guest to the authorities.2 But the tyrant ordered his servant to draw Hani' near him and went on beating him on the face with a bar he had in the hand. he then ordered to detain him in one of the rooms of the mansion.

This procedure shook the feelings of his kinsmen who, under the leadership of the traitor 'Amr ibn al-Hajjaj, pushed themselves towards the mansion. 'Amr shouted, -so as to make 'Ubaydullah hear him- "I am 'Amr, and these are the celebrities and chiefs of Midhhaj. Yet, we are not denoucing our loyalty to you nor are we mutinying against you." Furthermore, 'Amr said words of surrender and humility for which 'Ubaydullah did not care. He then asked Shurayh, the judge, to see Hani' and then tell his tribe about his state. The judge entered the cell of Hani' who shouted: "How stange this is! Have my people all died? If only ten

1- See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 3, p.269.
2- See al-Mas'udi, Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3,p.7.

persons from my tribe come to me they will certainly save me." When Shurayh left him, he said to his kinsmen, "I have seen your chief. He is alive. He has ordered you to go home." 'Amr shouted, "Well, he has not been killed. Thanks to Allah!" As if they have been granted the one and only opportunity to escape a lightless jail, people of Midhhaj turned their faced back and ran away. It seems that there had been a secret agreement between the chiefs of Midhhaj and 'Ubaydullah on killing Hani', otherwise they would have attacked the mansion and saved their chief.

Muslim ibn 'aqil knew about the situation of Hani' who was an important member of the expected revolution; therefore, he declared openly the revolution against 'Ubaydullah. Thus, about four -or forty- thousand warriors joined him.1 'Ubaydullah was delivering a speech when he heard the noise of the revolters whose numbers were increasing and were directing towards the Governorate Mansion. Like a dirty dog, 'Ubaydullah hurried towards the mansion.2 He had only thirty policemen; he therefore used the meanest means that would save him -war of nerved. Because he knew people of Kufa very well, he ordered their traitorous chiefs to slip among the troops of Muslim and spread the rumors that the arcies of Syria would soon puish those who joined Muslim's army, the government would deprive them of their salaries, and that martial laws would be applied to them. These rumors acted as that martial laws would be applied to them. These rumors acted as bombs on the heads of the people most of whom declared, "We should not engage ourselves in question of policy!"3

Before long, most of them left Muslim who led the rest to the Msjid for prayer. Even during the prayer, the others

1- See Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol.2,p.351.
2- See Ibn Kuthayr, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol.8,p.154.
3- See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol.3,p.269.

left, and Muslim, as he finished the prayer, foud himself alone!1 That night, he could not find a house to settle in. He therefore had to wander alone in the streets of Kufa. Only a noble lady called Taw'ah had the courage to let Muslim in. As she served him food, Muslim refused to eat or drink because he was thinking of the fate that Imam al-Husayn (a) would face after the betrayal of those people. Son of Taw'ah knew the whole story and with the first sparks of that morning, he hurried to inform the ruling authorities about the matter, even though he had given his mother binding oaths that he would not tell anybody.

Three hundred horsemen, led by Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath, attacked the house of Taw'ah, but Muslim faced them with such an unprecedented courage that he inherited from his fathers.2 He alone could defeat those horsemen and kill a great number of them. The mean ones however began to throw stones and fireballs on him, but he too overcame.3 When Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath returned to 'Ubaydullah and asked for more troops and weapons, the latter said with astonishment, "I have sent you to capture one man! But he did this to your troops!" He answered, "Do you tink you have sent me to bring an ordinary man from Kufa or the neighboring? You have sent me to capture a courageous lion and a hero from the family of the best men in whose hands cutting swords are held fast."4 'Ubaydullah supplied him with more troops and weapons, but Muslim, the hero, kept on fighting against them so bravely. This facing took a long time during which Muslim suffered thirst and the troops of the ruling authorities were

1- See Abu'l-Fida, al-Mukhtasar fi Akhbar al-Bashar, vol. 1,p.300.
2- See Baha'al-Din 'Ali ibn 'Abd-al-karim, al-Durr al-Nadid fi Ta'azi al-Imam al--Shahid, p.164.
3- See Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin wa al-masawi, vol.1,p.43.
4- See 'abdullah al-Bahrani, al-'Awalim- al-Imam al-Husayn, p.203.

increasing around him, though they were too terrified to attack him. Finally, they stabbed him with their lances until they could capture him. after they had let him down, people of Kufa crowded to see how he was taken to the Mansion. Muslim courageously refused submitting to the tyrant who, as a result, ordered Bukayr ibn Hamran to take him to the surface of the mansion and behead him. He also ordered Hani' to be killed before the individuals of his tribe. The dead bodies of Muslim and Hani' were trailed on the ground in the stress as a sign of terrorism and scorning their adherents.1


Before she left for Iraq in the company of her brother, Lady Zaynab had asked permission of her husband. and before Imam al-Husayn (a) left for Iraq, 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas, his cousin, had tried to chane his mind, but the Imam (a) refused. Hence, ibn 'Abbas asked him not to accompany his harem and family members, but the Imam (a) answered, "These are the trusts of the Messenger of Allah, and I cannot trust anyone with them." Then, Lady Zaynab said to ibn 'Abbas with tearful eyes, "Son of 'Abbas, do you suggest to our leader to leave us here and go alone? No, by Allah, we either live with him or die with him. We have nothing left except him."2 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas could not control himself when he broke into tears and said, "It is truly difficult for me to leave you, cousin." One of the most excellent plans of Imam al-Husayn's revolution was accompanying his harem and family members with him, especially Lady Zaynab who had the leading role in the process of the revolution's perpetuity. As he anticipated the coming events, he planned for his sister

1- See Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhiri, Ansab al-Ashraf, p.83.
2-See Sayyid Hashim al-Bahraini, Madinat al-Ma'ajiz, vol.3, p.485.

her honorable role in perfecting his uprising, showing his sacrifice that the Umayyad tyrant attempted to cover up, and putting into circulation his principles and aims. As a matter of fact, the Imam's harem contributed actively in the renaissance of the Muslim society and the overthrowing of the Umayyad regim's false prestige. Through their enthusiastic speeches, the Imam's harem commenced the revolutions against the regime and shook the entity of their illegal state.

In this regard, Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' says:

"Does anyone doubt the fact that if those ladies -of the Prophet's family- had not challenged the ruling regime through their situations and addresses, the blood of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his sons would have gone for nothing and none would have demanded with the punishment of those killers and, accordingly, Imam al-Husayn (a) had already planned for this step and had full knowledge that none would be able to accomplish this mission so perfectly except those ladies. As a result, he asked them to accompany him for adding another item to the oppression that they would encounter -when these ladies would be taken as captives- In addition and overthrow the illegal regime of the Umayyad rulers before they would eradicate Islam and take people back to the per-Islamic customs and traditions."1 Dr. Ahmad Mahmud Subhi says:

"Al-Husayn insisted on accompanying his harem and family members with him in order that people would testify of the inexcusable and inhumane crimes that their enemies would do to them. Thanks to this procedure, the issue for which al-Husayn fought and revolted has not been lost in the desert with his blood. Without the existence of his family


1- See Muhammad al-Husayn Kashif al-Ghita', al-Siyasah al-Husayniyyah, p.46-7.

members and harem, all the incidents that occured with al-Husayn and his enemies would have been completely forged and distorted, and all true testimonies would have been unavailable." Dr. 'A'ishah Bint al-Shati' says:

"Zaynab, al-Husayn's sister, caused 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and the Umayyad dynasty to lose the elation of victory as she poured drops of deadly poison in their cups. All the events that took place after that, such as the rebel of al-Mukhtar and the revolution of 'Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, and resulted in the decline of the Umayyad regime, the 'Abbasid dynasty's coming to power, and the inveteracy of Shiism; all these were the result of Zaynab's formation."1 To sum it up, without Lady Zaynab, the tragic story of Karbala' would have been recorded from the viewpoint of Imam al-Husayn's enemies only, and the pure blood of the Imam, his relatives, and his companions, which was shed wrongly there, would have been lost in the desert. At any rate, before he left Mecca, Imam al-Husayn (a) called for general meeting during which he delivered an address:

1- See 'A'ishah Bint al-Shati', Zaynab; the Heroine of Karbala.

All praise is due to Allah, only that which Allah wants will come to pass, there is no strength save in Allah, and mercy and blessing of Allah be upon His Messenge. Death is mapped out on every human beign in the same way as a necklace leaves a mark on a girl's neck. For me, my eagerness to join my late father, the martyrs, is as same as Prophet Jacob's eagerness to see (his absent son) Joseph. I will unavoidably encouter the demise that has been chosen for me: I foresee that my limbs and organs will be severed by the wolves of deserts1 in a place between al-Nawawis and Karbala' where they will fill their hungry bellies with me. No one can escape that which has been recorded with the Pen.2

Only that which pleases Allah will please us -the Ahl al-Bayt; we behave steadfastly against His tests (that He presents in forms of misfortunes) and He shall certainly pay us the rewards of the steadfast ones in full. The flesh of the Messnger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, shall not go stray from his way and shall join him in the Sacred Position to delight him and fulfill the promise, which was made to him. Hence, he who sacrifice his soul for us and determines to meet Allah may accompany me in this journey. Tomorrow morning, I will leave, if Allah, the Exalted, wills it."3 In his last moment in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn (a) went towards the Holy House (Kaaba) and offered the Zhuhr

1- This means that those who will fight against me are as savage and wild as wolves.
2- This is an indication to the absolute knowledge of Almighty Allah.
3- See 'Ali ibn Abu'l-Fath al-Arbali, Kashf al-Ghummah fi Ma'rifat al-A'immah, vol. 2,p.239.

noon- Prayer there. On the eighth of Dhu'l-Hijjah, 60 A.H., he left Mecca whose people saw him off with tearful eyes and depressing hearts. Throughout his journey, he used to tell the story of the martyrdom of Prophet John. In a place called al-Sifah, Imam al-Husayn (a) met al-Farazdaq, the famous poet, and told him that the ruling authorities had plotted to assassinate him in Mecca.1 The Imam (a) asked him about the reality of people of Kufa that he had come from, and al-farazdaq said: "Their hearts are with you, but their swords are against you." He agreed to these words, but continued his journey so steadfastly. In a place called Dhat-'Irq, the Imam (a) met Abu Hirrah who asked him why he had left Mecca. The Imam (a) answered: "Woe to you, Abu Hirrah! When the Umayyads usurped my properties, I treated it patiently, when they insulted my honor, I also treated it patiently, and when they attempted to shed my blood, I escaped. By Allah I swear that because the oppressive party will kill me, Allah shall dress them with comprehensive humiliation and shall cause cutting swords to serve them, Allah shall also give a free hand to rulers who will humiliate them to the degree that they will be more humble than people of Sheba; a woman ruled them and had full hand on their properties and souls." The Imam (a) then left this man who could not understand the meaning of supporting the right and defending Islam.

In a place called al-Khuzaymiyyah, Lady Zaynab approached the Imam (a) and asked about their fate. He answered that she would have to face terrible difficulties

1- See Khalifah ibn Khayyat al-'Asfari, Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p.176.
2- See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Nawadir al-Mu'jizat, p.107.

and adversities. he said, "Sister, all that which is going to be is going to be."1 In a place called Zarud, the caravan of the Imam (a) received a very bad news; Muslim ibn 'Aqil was martyred in Kufa. The caravan burst into tears, and the Imam (a) turned towards the family of the martyr and asked, "Muslim has been martyred. What do you now see?" They answered so firmly, "We will not go back unless we revenge for him or join him." These words showed the determination of those heroes and made the Imam (a) trust his issue more.

That noon, Imam al-Husayn (a) took a siesta and saw a horrible dream. He woke up in terror, and his son, 'Ali al-Akbar, hurried adn aksed about that terror. The Imam (a) told his son that he had seen in sleep a horseman saying, "You are mending your paces while your deaths are taking you hurriedly to Paradise." Explaining this dream, the Imam (a) told that they would be killed. The son asked, "Are we not the right party?"

"Of course, we are. I swear it by Him to Whom all creatures shall return," answered the Imam (a) confidently. The son concluded, "O father, we then shall never care about death." This statement relieved the Imam(a) who expressed his gratitude for such a situation.2 As they reached a place called Shuraf, the Imam (a) gave the orders of fetching as much water as possible from the springs there. Afew steps after these springs, one of lthe companions saw something like date-palm trees and shouted to make the others notice. Some of those who had full knowledge of that arearealized that it was nothing but

1- See Shaykh 'Ali al-Namazi al-Sharhudi, Mustadrak Safinat al-Bihar, vol.5.450.
2- See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; vol.4p.308, and Ab'l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p.111.

arrowheads and ears of horses. Imam al-Husayn, too, realized that these were the vanguards of the Umayyad army. He therefore asked his companions whether they knew a near place to hide in. some referred to Mount Dhu-Husam to the left. As the Imam's caravan directed towards that mountain the massive troops -of about more than one thousand horsemen as some historians have confirmed- under the commandment of al-Hurr ibn Yazid al-Riyahi whom 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad commissioned to wander through the desert until he would meet and capture the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (a), approached. It was middy and al-Hurr's troops were too thirsty to continue their march. Seeing this, the Imam (a) felt pity for them and ordered his companions to give them from the water they had with them. Even the horses were given water. After that, the Imam (a) delivered an articulate sermon to the troops of that army:

People: This only and argument intended to release me from the responsibility that lies on me with regard to Allah and you. I came to you only after I had received your misseves and your messengers who asked me to come to you since you had no leader and since you desired to be guided to the right guidance through my leadership to you. If you are still bearing this very tendency, then here I am. Show me pledges and covenants due to which I will be sure of your intentions. But if you dislike my coming to you, I will leave you and return to the place from which I came.1 Because most of the individuals of that army were among those who sent missives and asked the Imam (a) to come to them and paid homage to him via his representative Muslim ibn 'Aqil, they could not answere him. As time of the Zhuhr Prayer fell, the Imam (a) ordered the muezzin2to declare it. He then turned his face to al-Hurr and asked whether he would lead the collective prayer for his companions. "We will follow you in prayer," answered al-Hurr politely. When they performed the 'Asr -afternoon- Prayer, the Imam(a) delivered another sermon:

People : if you fear Allah and recognize the people of the right, this will surely please Him more than anything else. We -the Ahl al-Bayt are worhier of holding the position of leadership than those who claim it falsely and governed you by means of wrong and oppression. If you will dislike us and ignore our right and change your minds that you had expressed in your missives you sent to me, I will surely leave you...3 As he knew nothing about these missives, al-Hurr asked the Imam (a), "What are these missives you are mentioning?" The Imam (a), thus, ordered one of his companions to fetch them and show to al-Hurr who, as soon as saw them,

1- See Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 44, p.376.
2- Muezzin is the caller to prayer.
3- See Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p.79.

was shocked, he then said, "We are not among those who wrote these missives." Afterwards, the Imam (a) wanted to leave that place and return home, but al-Hurr prevented him and said, "I will not leave you until I lead you to Kufa to be present before 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad." "Death is nearer to you than doing so," the Imam answered and ordered his companions to ride and direct said to him, "What do you want from us?" "I want to lead you to 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, answered al-Hurr." "I will not follow you," said the Imam (a). "And I will not leave you," answered al-Hurr.

War was about to break out, but al-Hurr could save the situation by saying, "I was not ordred to fight you. I was only ordered not to leave you before I lead you to Kufa. If you refuse, you may take a way that takes you neither to Kufa nor Medina so that I will write a report to 'Ubydullah and hope Allah will save me from fighting you." Hence, the Imam's caravan took another way southward between al-'Udhayb and al-Qadisiyyah,1 and al-Hurr's army watched them. In a place called al-Bayda, the Imam (a) delivered a sermon:

1- See Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh, vol.3,p.280.

People : the Messenger of Allah said, "For anyone who knows an unjust ruler that is violating Allah's sanctities, breaking the pledge of Allah, going against the Sunnah of the Prophet, and treating the servants of Allah with means of sin and oppression, and avoids denying so by a deed or a word, it will be incumbent upon Allah to take him to the place he deserves (i.e. Hell)." Those individuals -the Umayyad ruler- have adhered to the obedience to the Shaitan, deserted the obedience to the All-beneficent (Lord), made public sinfulness, defied the doctrinal provisions, dedicated the treasuries to themselves, deemed lawful thing that Allah has dicided unlawful, and deemed unlawful things that Allah has decided lawful. I am worthier of holding this positon than those who destorted (the pronciples of Islam).

I have received your missive and your messengers who reported to me that you paid homage to me and that you would neither let me down nor disappoint me. If you keep your homage, you will certainly do the right thing. I am al-Husayn son of 'Ali and Fatima; daughter of the Messenger of Allah. My soul will be with yours and my harem will be with yours. (They will face the same fate that you will face.) I however am the example that should be followed. But if you break your homage and pledge, this is in fact not strange from you. You have already done it with my father, brother , and cousin Muslim (ibn 'Aqil). He who believes you is surely deceived. Anyhow, you have only missed your opportunity of success and neglected your chance of safety. He who breaches is only doing ill to himself. Allah will surely find me a substitution. Peace, Allah's mercy, and His blessings be upon you.1 After this sermon, al-Hurr said to the Imam (a), "I only want to advise you. I am sure that you will be killed if you fight, I swear it." The Imam (a) answered, "Do you threaten me with death? Will misfortunes depart you if you kill me? I really do not know what to say to you. But, I will copy the saying of that man from the (tribe of) Aws whose cousin threatened with death while he was going to defend the Prophet (s). he poetized :2

I will go on, and death is not shameful for the hero
Who intends good and fights for his Islam
And sacrifices his soul for the righteous men
And defies the perished one and departs the wrong ones
If I live, I will not regret, and if I die, i will not be blamed
It is certainly sufficien humility to live in humbleness.

As he heard these words, al-Hurr left the Imam and realized that he had decided to sacrifice his soul for sake of saving the Muslims from the oppression and wrong of the Umayyad rulers.

1- See Ibn Shu'bah al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'Uqul, p.505.
2- See Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk; 4:305.

Lady zaynab, too, recognized that her brother, by saying these words, had decided to sacrifice himself and attain martyrdom. She therefore felt very sad and supplicated to almighty Allah to give victory to him. Al-Tarimmah led the Imam's caravan because he knew the area better.1 The caravan however went on and the troops of al-Hurr were preventing it from directing towards the desert and trying to push it towards Kufa. Meanwhile, a rider appeared, It was a man carrying a message from 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad to al-Hurr: " As soon as you receive this message, lead al-Husayn to a derelict place in the desert where there is no shelter or water. I have also ordered this messenger to haunt you until you carry out this order."2

1- See Abu'l-faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p.111.
2- See al-Baladhiri, Ansab al-Ashraf, p.240.