Islamic History Podcast 3-8: Husayn And Karbala Part 2

Islamic History Podcast 3-8: Husayn And Karbala Part 2

Prologue

الموصول العراق واحد و سبعون سنة هجرية

Mosul, Iraq, 71 AH

Qasim ibn Habib walked through the Umayyad camp trying his best to blend in. He wanted to look like any other soldier.

He wore an armored breast plate over a red tunic with metal arm guards strapped to his wrists. A black turban sat upon his head, a small bag was slung across his back, and a thin dagger hung by his side.

There was an air of tension in the camp. Ibn Zubayr’s army was rumored to be headed for Syria and the Umayyads were determined to stop him at Mosul.

Qasim ibn Habib did not care about the politics or the war. All he cared about was finding the old man.

As Qasim walked towards the old man’s tent, he took in the sights and sounds around him. He was fascinated by the odd combination of energy and boredom inside a military camp.

There were women who had followed their men to the frontlines. There were hundreds of camp followers such as merchants, tailors, healers, and even fortune tellers. There were cooks and slaves and prisoners and even the occasional poet who would compose sonnets for the warriors.

Before long, Qasim ibn Habib found himself before the old man’s tent. A tethered horse stood next to the tent, slowly munching on dry grass.

He glanced around to make sure no one was looking. Then he stooped down and ducked inside the tent.

The old man was sleeping. His chest rose up and down gently, his gray beard covering much of his face.

Qasim knelt down besides the old man and tapped him on the shoulder.

The old man woke with a start. He sputtered and blinked at Qasim ibn Habib, trying to focus on him. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m from Kufah,” replied Qasim. “Someone told me you’re also from Kufah.”

“Yes,” said the old man, squinting at Qasim. “Do I know you?”

Qasim ignored his question. “Is it true you once fought for Muawiyyah ibn Abi Sufyan?”

“Yes, that’s true.” The old man sat up on his elbows. “I served under Ameerul Mumineen and his son Yazid.”

“I don’t remember much about Muawiyyah. But I do remember Yazid.”

“Well, it was a difficult time. Rebellions everywhere. The empire was split apart. The Romans were trying take advantage of it all. Just like it is now.” The old man took another look at Qasim. “What did you say your name was?”

“Did you know Ziyad ibn Abihi?” asked Qasim, ignoring the man’s question.

The old man chuckled. “You’re lucky he’s not alive to hear you say that. He hated that name. We always called him Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan when he was around. Yes, I knew him. I was a young man when he became governor of Kufah.”

“What about his son?”

“Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad? Yep, I knew him too. He was a bigger head case than his father was, if you can believe that.” The old man started to rise.

“One last question,” said Qasim. “Were you at Karbala?”

The old man froze. His face hardened and his eyes narrowed as he studied Qasim’s face.

Suddenly, the old man tried to jump up, but Qasim hit him in the face and he fell right back down.

Qasim jumped on the man’s chest and whipped out the dagger. He rammed it down into the old man’s throat. Blood spurted out of the man’s neck and splattered against the insides of the tent. The old man tried to scream but no sound could get past the hole in his throat.

Qasim stabbed him three more times, twice in the chest and once in the ribs.

By the time he was done, Qasim was nearly covered in blood. Blood was pooling around the old man’s body and running towards the edge of the tent.

Qasim hurriedly stripped off his armored chest plate and arm guards. The red tunic underneath hid the blood stains. He untied his turban and used it to wipe the blood off his hands, knife, and face.

He stuffed them all into his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and made to leave. But before he did, he turned back to the dead man lying on the ground.

“My name is Qasim ibn Habib,” he told the corpse, “and I remember you.”

ذات العرق العراق واحد و ستين سنة هجرية

Dhat al-Irq, Iraq, 61 AH

Husayn knew they could not last much longer. The situation was getting worse by the day.

It was their third day in the village of Dhat al-Irq and little progress had been made.

Husayn had brought his group to the village because it was close to the Euphrates River. Unfortunately, Umar ibn Sa’d arrived the next day with four thousand five hundred men and blocked all access.

For three days, the two leaders tried to negotiate a truce, but nothing had come of their efforts.

Husayn knew it would be impossible to enter Kufah now. His dream of reestablishing his father’s Caliphate was over.

Banu Umayyah had full control of the city and the Kufans were mentally and spiritually defeated.

All Husayn could hope for, was an honorable end to this fiasco and his family’s safety. He told as much to Umar ibn Sa’d.

“It’s obvious the people of Kufah don’t want me here,” he had told the Umayyad commander. “Let me return to the Hijaz and this can end here and now.”

But Umar ibn Sa’d was beholden to the governor of Kufah.

“That is not an option,” Umar ibn Sa’d had responded. “The governor says you only have one option: Unconditional surrender.”

“I have children who are dying here!” Husayn had yelled back. “You want them to die because of what your governor says?”

“It is not about what I want. I am following orders. You’d be wise to do the same.”

They had run out of water the previous day and were suffering from severe thirst.

At first, the children cried relentlessly, grabbing at their helpless mothers. But by the end of the day, their bodies were too dry to produce any tears.

Husayn had walked by several children just laying down, tongues lolling from their mouths, lips peeling and blistered. Some of them raised a hand towards him, as if begging for relief.

His heart broke when he saw these sights. But he was just as helpless as their mothers. His children were suffering as well.

Husayn’s son Ali the Middle, the one they called Zaynul Abideen, had developed a fever. But, without water, they could not cool him down. The poor boy was burning from within.

That night, Husayn decided to take action. He commissioned twenty men to sneak past the Umayyads and fetch water from the river. They were to avoid violence if possible, but be ready to fight if necessary.

His half-brother, Abbas ibn Ali and a big, shaggy-haired Kufan Shi’ite named Nafi al-Jamali led the mission.

Less than an hour later, the men returned, all of them carrying skins full of water. Thankfully, none of them were injured. In fact, with the exception of Nafi stabbing one of the Umayyad soldiers, the water mission was a success.

Show Notes

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Links related to this episode

Muslim Podcast of the Week: Prisonworld Radio Hour

Margari Aziza Hill and the Muslim Anti-Racism Coalition

Episode 3-7: Husayn And Karbala Part 1

Episode 3-5: Husayn And Ibn Zubayr

Episode 2-20: Ali And Muawiyyah

 

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One Response to Islamic History Podcast 3-8: Husayn And Karbala Part 2

  1. The sacrifice of Imam Hussain (AS) will be never forgotten till the day of judgment. The way the grandson of Muhammad (SAW) fought, not for himself, but against the evil. His example will always enlighten those whose will ever fight for the truth. Moreover in order to understand life, destiny, right, wrong, love, hate, fear, or any other situation of life, one word is enough “KARBALA”.
    For more information on this topic contact my mentors.

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