Imam Ali Zain al-Abideen was only two years of age when his grandfather, Imam Ali (the First Imam) was killed during prayers in the month of Ramadhan in the main mosque of Najaf (near Kufa). He was a youth of fourteen years when he saw the life and the painful death of his uncle Imam Hasan (the Second Imam). He was about twenty-three years of age when he accompanied his father, Imam Husain (the Third Imam) and witnessed the events of the tragedy of
. Before he finally left his camp, Imam Husain came to the bedside of his sick son Ali, and bestowed the onerous duty of Imamate on him. Karbala
Imam Ali ibn al-Husain survived the massacre only because he was physically unable to go out to the battlefield due to his sickness. However, on the next day after the blood bath of his family and friends, he was hand tied and put in shackles, and marched on foot from the battlefield, first to Kula and then to Damascus. On this joumey of painful suffering, his aunt Zaina binte Ali ibne Abi Tallb, the sister of Imam Husain and other surviving widows and children, accompanied him.
After Karbala, he lived for another thirty-four years under the tyrannical rule of several Marwanid caliphs who took personal gratification in inflicting abuse and torture to him and his followers.
THE JOURNEY OF THE CAPTIVES OF
The hand-tied captives were not tongue-tied. Despite the recent inflections of the loss of loved ones in the battlefield, lack of recuperation from the torturous thirst and starvation of women and children, the rag tag caravan manifested tremendous courage by defying their physical difficulties and continuing to preach the truth to the on-lookers who had gathered to line up the caravan route.
The apparent victors were pleased with their achievement of the decimation of the Imam's carnp. During their passage through the streets and bazaars of Kufa, the eloquent speeches made by the captive sister of Imam Husain, and his son Imam All Zain al-Abideen told their painful story to the onlookers who had come to line up the caravan route. When they learned and realized who the captives were, they cried out aloud and openly rebuked the killers of the family of the Prophet of Islam. From then on, the caravan was led to
via an unfrequented route to prevent possible reprisals. Damascus
The retelling of the story by the captives continued every inch of the way to the
. This rendered an extremely valuable service to the cause of Imam Husain and made the victors look aggressors thirsty for the blood of the Imam and his family. They were then thrown in prison for a period of over one-year. Many children and the weak succumbed to fatigue and grief throughout the caravan route as well as within the prison. palace of Yazid
RETURN OF THE CAPTIVES TO MADINAH
When the caravan of the survivors arrived in Madinah, the family and fiiends of the Imam met and told the events of the previous year to each other. Some devotees were so overwhelmed with grief that they took a trip to
in 63 AH to protest against Yazid and his deeds. This infuriated the tyrant caliph. He unleashed his Syrian army on to Madinah under a most ruthless Umayyad connnander named Muslim bin Uqba. There was a bloody battle at Harrah al-Waqim, a small town just north of Madinah. Thousands of Madinan Muslims perished along with many learned and respectable elders. After the battle the soldiers ravaged the city for three full days, burning property, and looting freely homes and businesses. They drank without any inhibition and thronged the streets throwing obscenities on the surviving residents. Horrible was the havoc the Syrians played on life and limb and chaste womanhood. It is said that when they departed, they left many families and the city in utter ruins. Damascus
After the sack of Madinah, Muslim bin Uqba proceeded to Makkah to subdue and arrest the separatist Abd Allah bin Zubayr. However, on the way Muslim died near the town of
, and the command passed over to Haseen bin Numayr al-Sakooni. Approaching Makkah, they occupied the surrounding hills, and laid siege to the city for sixty-four days. They threw projectiles of fire and rock on the city causing ruinous damage to the holy sanctuary. It was at this time that the news of the death of Yazid was received and the siege of Makkah was lifted. The tyrant Umayyad captain withdrew to Jaffa . This gave the much-needed reprieve to the self-proclaimed caliph of Makkah, Abd Allah bin Zubayr. He started to rebuild the holy mosque and to repair the damages caused by the Umayyad army. Damascus
There was not even a single day in the life of the Imam after