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Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – and his family arrived on the Plains of Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram. Karbala was nearly three miles away from the Euphrates.
The great Imam asked the name of this place and he was told that the name of the place was “Ardul Maariyah”. When he was asked whether it had another name, he was told that it is also known as “Ard Karb wa Bala” or “a place of trail and difficulty.” They also remarked that they had no idea why this place was called such. Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – declared that very soon, people will come to know.
Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – then ordered that they place their tents at this spot. His blessed sister also asked him the reason why he would choose to camp in such a barren and desolate area. Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – replied, “When we were returning from the Battle of Nahrwaan and I was with my father, I remember that we had camped at this spot. We also spent a few nights at this spot. My father took me aside alone and said to me, “O Husain! Besides tonight, there will also come another occasion in your life when you would have to spent a few nights at this spot. However, my dear son, take care at that time your nights would be very difficult. Therefore, O Zainab! This jungle will no longer remain a jungle. Your beloved brother would perform a Sajdah in this place which will last until the Day of Judgement. My beloved son, Akbar, will also sound the Adhan at this spot whose sound will be remembered until the Day of Judgement. At this spot, where no one comes, millions will appear at this spot every year.”
From the 2nd of Muharram until the 10th, so much of Holy Qur’an was recited at this spot that it became difficult to count the number of times that the Holy Qur’an was completed.
Why was the water shut to this blessed people? That is something which will be explained later.
His advice to his companions
Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – then called each one of his companions including his wives and adviced them to leave. He first called his wife Sayyidah Sher Banu – may Allah be pleased with her – who was from the Royal Persian Court. She was the mother of Imam Zainul Aabideen – may Allah be pleased with him –. Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – informed her, “If you wish, you can be safely escorted to either Mecca Shareef or back to Persia. You can choose where you wish to return to. Besides trial and calamity, nothing else is going to befall us at this place.” However, the great lady mentioned that she did not want to be separated from Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – at this final moment.
Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – kept on insisting to his family and friends that they were free to leave and that he did not want to cause undue grief and sadness to their families because of him. However, not a single one of them chose to leave.
Another incredible practise of the great Imam was that he kept putting off the lantern so that people in his camp could leave quietly without feeling embarrassed. However, still no one left him. In the morning a person named Habeeb bin Mazaahir – may Allah be pleased with him -, who some say was a blessed companion, approached Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – and said to him, “O Husain! You can turn off the lantern a thousand times, but none of us will leave you.”
There are some idiots who say that Imam Muslim – may Allah be pleased with him – and Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – had already sworn allegiance to Yazeed, therefore what they had done was betrayal of a country.
What can we say to these ignoramuses? Everyone knows that Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – is the leader of the young people in Jannah and Yazeed is not someone who will even smell Jannah, so how can we say that he was a traitor?
The blessed family of the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – remained thirsty for three days and night and all of this was due to Yazeed.
Remember that there was a time once in Mecca Shareef when the disbelievers were going through such a severe drought that they were forced to approach Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – in Madina Shareef. They informed the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – that the people in Mecca Shareef were in such dire straits that some of them were been forced to eat animal leather. Feeling pity for these people, the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – raised his hands to make Du’a and it started to rain in Mecca Shareef.
But, that same person Yazeed who was the off spring of that person who came to Madina Shareef to ask for rain, is now withholding water from the blessed family of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him –! We know that Abu Sufyan – may Allah be pleased with him – was someone who accepted Islam in Mecca Shareef. On the other hand, there is no record of how Yazeed became a Muslim.
While he was in this dire state, Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – saw Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – in a dream. He was surrounded by the Blessed Household and they were again warning him of displaying patience and forbearance.
Some of the soldiers of Yazeed who felt that they were in absolute power even began to mock the great Imam. One person, Abdullah bin Haseen, said, “O Husain! Look at how much of water we have, come to our side or else you will die of thirst.”
Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – replied, “In this world, I will drink the drink of martyrdom and on the Day of Judgement, I will drink from the Fountain of Kauther and you will die of thirst.” This is exactly what happened. Abdullah bin Haseen suddenly began to feel extreme thirst. He continued to drink and drink but his thirst was not satisfied. He began to scream continuously, “al atash, al atash,” meaning “thirst, thirst” and he finally died in this state.
As a precaution and as a means of safety for the women and children, Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – built a trench around his camp and filled it with fire. When the soldiers of Yazeed saw this, they started to mock him. Malik bin Urwah shouted, “O Husain! You seem to be standing in the fire of Hell while in this world.”
Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – made Du’a, “O Allah Almighty! Your beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – had mentioned that I will be the leader of the young people in Jannah and look at what this person is saying.”
The moment the great Imam said this, Malik bin Urwah’s horse began to bolt forward and his feet got stuck on the strap of the saddle. The horse began to run towards the direction of the fire. One of the companions of the great Imam wanted to shoot an arrow at him but Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – stopped him. Malik bin Urwah was then thrown into the fire by the violent reaction of his horse. Through this action, Allah Almighty clearly showed these people who were the people of Jannah and who were the people of Hell.
Another person, Ibn Ash’as, began to say, “You continue to say that you are from the family of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him –, however, what connection do you have to this family.” The moment he said that, he felt an urgent need to release himself. He died in his own mess.
Another person insulted the great Imam. Suddenly, a falling star seemed to have struck him and he became blind instantly. The place where the enemies had stored their meat was also unexpectedly enveloped in flames. (Taarikh Al Khulafah)
Another person began to celebrate the martyrdom of the great Imam and he became blind instantly. (Al Hayaat Al Khafi)
One person was explaining to people that those who had been guilty of the murder of Imam Husain – may Allah be pleased with him – had indeed died a disgraceful death. Another person who was in this gathering boastfully said that he had been involved in this act but nothing had happened to him. The moment he said this, he went to straighten the lantern and his clothes caught alight and he was burnt to death.
Whoever was involved in this despicable act died a disgraceful death and the faces of many of them actually turned black. As for Yazeed, his government was also over in a few days.
It is also mentioned that after this incident, many of the enemies developed extreme thirst and no matter how much they drank, their thirst did not seem to disappear. Many died in this state. This was only the punishment that they had faced in this world. The punishment of the Hereafter still awaits them.
As is now known to most people, there were two ways in which battles took place in those day. The first was single combat and the second was all out attack by groups of soldiers.