Islamic History Podcast 3-7: Husayn And Karbala Part 1

Islamic History Podcast 3-7: Husayn And Karbala Part 1

الكوفة ستين سنة هجرية

Kufah, 60 AH

Umar ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas was conflicted.

On the one hand, his uncles, cousins, and siblings all advised him to not march against Husayn ibn Ali.

“It is better you abandon the entire world and all its wealth and all the earthly authority it contains than meet Allah with Husayn’s blood on your hands,” his uncle had told him.

But on the other hand, there was his position as governor of Rayy.

It was not easy to impress Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the Umayyad governor of Iraq. Umar ibn Sa’d had to suppress a rebellion in Dastaba in the treacherous mountains of Persia to earn his position.

And now he stood to lose it all.

Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad had threatened to take away Umar’s governorship if he did not march against Husayn.

Umar ibn Sa’d could not believe his predicament.

He had to choose between losing this world, or losing the next.

Could he not have both?

Perhaps there was some way for him to satisfy the governor and not fight Husayn. Perhaps, if he was careful, he could talk some sense into these two men he stood between.

Surely, one or both of them would listen to reason.

The more Umar ibn Sa’d thought about it, the more confident he felt.

He would make a show of force against Husyan, prove to him there was no way he could win. Perhaps then, Husayn would agree to a peaceful resolution.

Then he might even convince Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad to go easy on Husayn. The governor might accept some trivial offer of submission.

Umar had to try. He could not give up everything he had worked so hard for.

He could do this. It was possible.

But he had to be careful.

ذات العرق الحجاز ستين سنة هجرية

Dhat al-Irq, Arabia, 60 AH

Zaynab bint Ali, Ali ibn Abi Talib’s second child and Husayn’s older sister, had her concerns about this mission. But they were two days into their journey to Kufah and there was no turning back now.

Besides, she also knew this was something that had to be done.

It was bad enough that Muawiyyah had rebelled against her father and usurped the Caliphate.

It was bad enough Muawiyyah ordered the cursing of her father’s name throughout the empire.

And it was bad enough when he appointed the bloodthirsty Ziyad ibn Abihi as governor of Iraq.

Yet, even in death, he still wanted more. Muawiyyah wanted to turn the Caliphate into a monarchy and force his son onto the Ummah.

Yazid ibn Muawiyyah was not a companion nor was he a righteous Muslim. He liked musical instruments and silk robes. And there were rumors that he even had a taste for wine.

Such a man did not deserve the Caliphate. Especially when people like her brother and Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar were still around.

She had a feeling the journey to Kufah would be dangerous. They got a taste of that danger when they encountered a small Umayyah security force sent by the governor of Mecca.

“You are ordered to return to your home,” said Yahya ibn Sa’id, the governor’s brother.

Click to expand
Click to expand

Husayn ignored them and kept the caravan moving north.

Yahya’s men rode their horses directly in front of the caravan, blocking their path.

“The governor forbids you from leaving the city,” Yahya said putting his hand on the hilt of his sword. “Return to your homes immediately.”

Defiantly silent, Husayn tried to go around them but Yahya reached out and grabbed the camel’s bridle.

“Husayn, do you not fear Allah?” Yahya asked him. “Don’t you know what trouble you’re causing?”

One of Muslim ibn Aqil’s sons rode forward and snatched the bridle out of Yahya’s hand. Then one of Yahya’s men tried to push him away and a brief scuffle broke out.

There was some cursing, punching, and snapping of whips but no one was seriously injured. Husayn’s men eventually overpowered them.

“If you leave,” said Yahya clutching his shoulder where a camel whip had struck him, “you will split this community.”

Her brother responded with a verse from the Quran.

“My deeds are mine, and your deeds are yours. You are not accountable for my actions, nor am I accountable for yours.”

Their first stop had been at As-Sifah, just northeast of Mecca. There, they met the famous poet known as Farazdaq, or the Dumpling.

The Dumpling greeted Husayn in a rhythmic voice. “May Allah grant you the best and give you all you desire.”

“You’re from Iraq, aren’t you?” asked Husayn. “What can you tell me about the people of Kufah?”

“You have asked one who knows,” the poet had replied. “Their hearts are with you, but their swords are with Banu Umayyah. The decree will come from heaven and Allah will do as He wishes.”

That sounded ominous to Zaynab, but Husayn nodded solemnly as if they were the most profound words he’d ever heard.

“That is true,” he had said.

She did not know what lay ahead but she knew the odds were against them. All they could do was put their trust in Allah, and keep moving forward.

Show Notes

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Links related to this episode

Muslim Podcast of the Week: The Product Muslim Podcast

Episode 3-3: Ziyad and Hujr ibn Adi

Episode 3-6: Muslim and Ubaydullah

Episode 2-17: Murder of Caliph Uthman

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