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The Third Imam Hazrat Imam Husain a.s. (Hz. Husain ibn. Ali a.s.) --- The Events of Karbala & related

Rajab, 60 AH
Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan died at the age of 75 years.  Yazid wrote to the governor of Madinah, Walid bin Uqba to obtain the oath of fealty from Imam Husain.  The Imam refused to relinquish his religious obligation to those who were steadfast in their practice of the Truth, and did not submit to the demands of Yazid.

Rajab 28,60 AH

The Imam gathered his select group of family and friends and left Madinah for Makkah.

Sha'ban 3,60 AH

The Imam arrived at Makkah.  Sa'id bin As vacated his seat in Makkah, and arriving at Madinah, reported the popularity of the Imam among the Makkans.  Yazid appointed Umar bin Sa'id as governor of Makkah and gave the same orders to him regarding the Imam.  Imam Husain stayed in Makkah for approximately four months.  It was here that the Imam received some twelve thousand letters petitioning him to come to Kufa and take charge of their religious needs.

Bound by his obligation to uphold the Truth and to serve Islam, the Imam had to respond to this apparently massive appeal by the people. He despatched his beloved cousin Muslim bin Aqeel to Kufa to reassure the petitioners that he was prepared to come and live among them as they had wished.  Thousands of Kufans apparently rallied behind Muslim.  Encouraged by such response, Muslim wrote a letter to the Imam and appraised him of the situation in Kufa.

As the dates for Haj neared, Yazid sent Umar bin Sa’id with thirty Khawarij assassins and three hundred additional trained Syrian soldiers disguised as pilgrims to kill the Imam during the Haj.

Zil Haj 8,60 AH

The Imam received the letter written by Muslim calling him to come to Kufa.  Realizing the gravity of the plot to assassinate him in Makkah during Haj, the Imam performed Umrah (the lesser Haj) and left for Kufa.

Zil Hajj 9,60 AH

Muslim bin Aqeel and his two young sons were killed and beheaded in Kula.  The Imam leamt of the martyrdom of Muslim and his children when he had already covered his journey half way to Kula.

Muharram 1, 61 AH

The caravan of the Imam saw the crescent of Muharrmn at the caravan stop known as Sharaf, at the out-skirts of Kufa.  Hurr bin Riyahi, with his detachment of over one thousand soldiers stopped the Imam and diverted him towards the wilderness of Karbala.

Muharram 2

The Imam pitched his tents near the bank of Euphrates River.  Now that he had fulfilled his obligation to the petitioners and, having written replies to as many of the letters as he could, he called upon them to come forward to fulfill their obligation towards him.  On order from his commander-in-chief, Hur had the Imam remove his tents away from the waters of the Euphrates River.

Muharram 3

Umar bin Sa'id arrived with an army of twenty two thousand soldiers.  Habib ibne Mazaahir was able to recruit ninety committed believers from the tribe of Bani Asad to come out 'in support of the Imam, but Ibne Ziad sent an army of four hundred soldiers to prevent them from reinforcing the Imam.

Muharram 4

Ibne Ziad addressed a large congregation of worshippers in Kufa and urged ail those who had pledged fealty to Yazid, to come out and join his forces to eliminate the (little) army of the Imam.

Shimr came out, and he was despatched with an army of thousand strong.  Ibne Rikab was sent out with two thousand men; Ibne Numair was given an army of four thousand soldiers.  Ibne Rabina was given three thousand men; and Ibne Kharsha' two thousand armed soldiers.

Muharram 5

Sha'bath was despatched to Karbala with additional four thousand men.  Urwah bin Qais was sent to join the others with four thousand soldiers. Ibne Anas was armed with ten thousand soldiers, Muhammad bin al-Ash'ath had one thousand men and Abdallah bin Hasein was given one thousand soldiers.

Muharram 6

Yazid's forces were further augmented with ten thousand soldiers under Khuli bin Yazid Asbahi; three thousand men under Ka'b bin Hurr; one thousand men under Hujaj bin Hurr.  Additional men and supplies were sent over to support the enormous gathering of forces against the tiny caravan of the Imam.  Ibne Ziad wrote to Umar bin Sa'd that he had been given enough supplies and man power to carry out his assignment, and that he must not delay or fail in it.     

Muharram 7

Umar bin Hujaj was posted with four hundred of the best soldiers to guard the banks of river Euphrates.  Additional forces were deployed to support the men under Umar bin Hujaj, four thousand soldiers were sent under Hajar and one thousand soldiers under Sha'bath bin Rabei.  Having thus secured their positions around the riverbanks, the opponents of the Imam started off with verbal provocations.

Muharram 8

Water supply in the camp of the Imam was totally depleted.  Abbas bin Ali,  brother of the Imam, along with some companions was sent to get some water.  He was successful in this mission.  It was at this mission that he became known as "Saqqa-e Haram" (the Water Bearer of the family).

Next morning the Imam made a formal plea for water for the thirsty children in the camp, but his plea was denied.  The Imam ordered that a trench be dug between the camp and the enemy and for digging a well for water.  The companions of the Imam attempted to a dig a well for water, but in vain.

Muharram 9

Imam Husain, accompanied by Abbas, again appealed to Ibne Sa'd for water but it was turned down. Both returned to the camp without water.  Abbas and other strong members of the camp dug four other wells for water and saw water at the last attempt.  However, before the thirsty children could have a sip, the enemy swarmed in and refilled the wells with the excavated dirt.  A fifth attempt was foiled with brutal force.

The Imam went out again, re-introduced himself with details about himself, his illustrious parents and his noble grandfather, the Holy Prophet of Islam, and asked the so called 'Muslims' in the opposite camp to allow him to obtain water for his companions on humanitarian grounds.  His convincing address melted many hearts and there was some stir in the ranks.  Shimr warned Umar bin Sa'd that if he wavered in carrying out the orders to kill Imam Husain without delay or compromise, he would be relieved of the charge.

 With the final orders from Ibne Ziad on the ultimate fate of the Imam, Shimr offered Abbas and All Akbar safe passage out of Karbala, but these gallant soldiers of Truth refused to forsake the flag-bearer of Righteousness.  Just prior to dusk, Shimr instigated an attack on the camp of the Imam.  However, upon the request of the Imam, Abbas was able to win a reprieve from Ibne Sa'd on their final onslaught till the next morning.

The Eve of Muharram 10

The Imam addressed his friends and family and clarified his position to all of them.  He told them that since the enemy wanted his head for refusal to accept Yazid as his superior, all others could leave the camp and save their lives.  His devotees were deeply saddened at this address and reassured him that they had absolutely no doubt that they were on the right path, and there was nothing in the world that would make them  forsake him at that hour.

     Burair Hamdani could not bear the painful cries of the thirsty children.  He went out with some companions to obtain water.  The Imam sent Abbas for help.  After a bloody fight in which some of the valuable companions lost their lives, they were able to return with only one bag full of water.

     On reaching the camp, over twenty children rushed with their little cups for water.  Unfortunately, this precious bag of water fell to the ground and its contents spilled on the desert sand.  No one could get their thirst quenched.  After that event, the Imam ordered every one to return to their respective tents and spend the remaining night in prayers, glorifying Allah and the Holy Prophet.

           Muharram 10: Morning

      At daybreak, the army of Ibne  Sa'd got organized to run down the Imam's camp.  The Imam got up from his prayers and hurriedly organized his ranks.  He ordered to light up the ditch he had prepared earlier, and ordered Abbas to try yet another time to dig a well for water.  A well was dug but there was no water in it.

      The army encircled the camp of the Imam.  The Imam and his companions tried to avert war and requested safe passage out of Yazid's dominion but the bloodthirsty enemy would listen to none of it. Hurr who had enough time to reflect over his conduct, became perplexed.  His conscience rebuked him for having forced the Imam to follow the desert route to Karbala instead of Kufa.  He came to realize the just stand of the Imam, and walked away from the ranks along with his son, and joined the Imam's camp.

     Hurr was well received by the Imam.  He asked for his forgiveness, and for his permission to go and sacrifice his life in defense of the Imam and his cause.  The Imam not only excused him but also expressed his helplessness to even offer a cup of water to his guest.

                    Ibne Sa'd shot his first arrow over the Imam's camp, which was then followed by a rain of arrows by his army.  Hurr and his son were amongst the first to lay their lives in Karbala defending the Truth.

       At the initiation of the battle some of the Imam's companions fought with such an energy and valor that Ibne Sad realized that it would cost him a lot of lives and time before he could carry out his ultimate goal of killing Imam Husain.  He ordered his best marksmen to use their skills to eliminate his opponents in Imam Husain's camp.  This strategy paid him off by shooting down about fifty percent of the Imam's supporters.

      The Imam came out with about thirty-two of his surviving force and fought the enemy with great bravery on all fronts.  Ibne Sa'd again ordered his marksmen to do their precision shooting that reduced the Imam's ranks to only a handful of men who were injured and were unmounted.

Muharram 10: Mid-day

      Imam Husain and his remaining companions gathered to offer their Zuhr prayers.  Two of the companions shielding the Imam died receiving arrows and spears on their bodies.  As the prayer finished, another companion received his martyrdom.  After the last of his companions had received their martyrdom, Imam Hussain was left with only the members of his family.

      Abbas was killed at the bank of the river attempting to secure water for the remaining family and children.  Imam Husain's son Ali Akbar was killed in battle.  The Imam took his infant son Ali Asghar, only six months old, to the battlefield to show his enemies that the infants are innocent by all laws of humanity and that they should give water lest the child died of water deprivation.  The throat of the infant was pinned down over the Imam's shoulder with an affow from Hurtnala, the best marksman from Ibne Sa'd's army. .

      At the end, the Imam came out to fight a lonely but brave battle, cutting down many in the process.  He himself received many wounds, and innumerable arrows pierced his body.  As he fell down from the back of his horse, he bowed down in sajdah (prostration to Allah) and reached out to the Almighty, seeking His Grace and praying for accepting his service.  Shimr slaughtered the Imam, and separated his head from his body.  The headless body of the Imam and other martyrs was then run over by the mounted soldiers before returning to their ranks.

Muharram 10: Evening

     The army now over-ran the camp and snatched every belonging the bereaved women and children had.  The tents were put to flame, women were beaten and children teased and slapped.  It is said that later in the evening, Hurr's widow brought food and water to the smoldering encampment of widows and beleaguered children.

 Muharram 11

     The survivors were marched towards Kufa, women on camels without seats and the only adult male survivor, Ali Zain al-Abideen afoot, hand tied and in shackles. The captives were kept in jail in Kufa for a few days and then carried to Damascus via a less frequented route.

Rabi-ul Awwal 16, 61 AH

     The caravan of the survivors of the Imam's army arrived in Damascus. The duration their captivity in Damascus is uncertain.  By some accounts, it was for of about one year, after which they were then sent back to Madinah via Kufa.

Safar 20, 62 AH

     The captives came back to Karbala with reminiscence of the fateful events of the previous year.

Rabi-ul Awwal 8, 62 AH

     The caravan of the survivors returned to Madinah.