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.
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.
دار الإمارة الكوفة ستين سنة هجرية
The Governor’s Palace, Kufah, 60 AH
“We found this one in Qadisiyyah,” said the Shurta captain, shoving the man forward.
Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad looked the man over.
“What is your name?”
“Q-Qays ibn Mushir As-Sadawi,” the man stammered.
“Welcome, Ibn Mushir. What were you doing in Qadisiyyah?”
Qays looked shaken and afraid, but otherwise unharmed. “I am a messenger from the grandson of the Messenger of Allah. Husayn sent me to tell the people that he was on his way to set things right and bring justice and Allah’s rule.”
“Husayn ibn Ali is a rebel and the only thing he has brought so far is disunity and chaos. His actions caused Muslim ibn Aqil to lose his head and now you stand to lose yours as well.”
Ubaydullah paused, studying the rebel. The man deserved nothing more than a swift, public execution.
The only thing that stopped him was the current mood in Kufah. He could feel something palpable just beneath the surface. The entire mood of the city changed after he executed Muslim ibn Aqil.
No one dared say anything out loud. But Ubaydullah had the feeling the city might erupt in violence at the slightest provocation.
“I’ll tell you what,” said Ubaydullah, “I’m going to give you a chance to save your life. I want you to publicly praise Ameerul Mumineen. And then, curse Husayn and his lying father. If you can do that for me, you’ll be free to go.”
Qays nodded silently.
“Very well,” said Ubaydullah. “Up you go.”
Ubaydullah followed as the Shurta led the rebel up the steps to the roof of the palace. Below, the streets bustled with life as the people made their way to and from the city center. But a small crowd gathered around the palace when Qays stepped to the roof’s edge.
“O people of Kufah,” began Qays, “I am the messenger of Husayn, son of Fatimah, daughter of the Rasulullah.”
Ubaydullah liked that opening. Now the people knew Qays was Husayn’s official representative.
“Husayn is coming. You can help him against the son of the bastard, the man who claimed another man’s father.”
“Kill him!” yelled Ubaydullah running forward. “Kill him now!”
Three Shurta grabbed Qays and heaved him over the edge. Ubaydullah stared down at the broken body and the crowd gathering around it.
Some of the faces looked up at him, angry and accusatory. Someone whispered “bastard” another “When Husayn gets here” and yet another “his turn is coming.”
Let them whisper, thought Ubaydullah. Let them whisper and plot and connive. I will break every single one of them that stands against the regime.
بتن رمة الحجاز ستين سنة هجرية
Batne Rummah, Arabia, 60 AH
Husayn was starting to get worried.
They had been traveling for eleven days and still no word from Muslim ibn Aqil since his last letter almost three weeks ago. Husayn expected his cousin to keep him updated with events in Kufah.
The Dumpling had said their hearts were with him but their swords were with Banu Umayyah. What did that mean?
Perhaps his Shia were afraid to express their loyalty to Husayn openly. Or perhaps they had divided loyalties. Perhaps they had given up on him coming at all.
Husayn pushed those thoughts out of his head. These same fears had prompted him to send a letter to his Shia in Kufah.
“Take this to Kufah and put it in the hands of Muslim ibn Aqil,” he had told Qays ibn Mushir. “Tell them I am on my way and to remain patient and steadfast.”
That was several days ago. Qays had taken one of the fastest horses and he knew the route well. By Allah’s Mercy, he should have already delivered the message.
Husayn had been reluctant to send Qays ibn Mushir to Kufah. He needed every male hand available.
He did a quick mental count of the men in his group.
Six of his brothers had joined him for the journey. All of them were half-brothers, sired by Ali and his wives and slave-wives after Fatimah.
Three of his own sons were also with him, but Ali the Elder was the only one old enough to hold a sword. Ali the Middle, nicknamed Zayn al-Abideen, was barely fourteen. And Ali the Younger was not even a year old yet.
Several of his nephews, cousins and second cousins had also come along.
Three of his brother Hassan’s sons were with him. Two sons from his uncle Abbas. Three brothers, a son, and a nephew of Muslim ibn Aqil. And three sons from his sister Zaynab and her husband Abdullah.
He had also brought along three of his mawla who, though not related to him by blood, were still tied to Banu Hashim by bonds of mutual support.
Dozens of others had left Mecca with him and he had picked up more along the way.
Husayn’s group now numbered one hundred fifty and more were joining every day.
Bringing the women and children along had been a difficult decision. He remembered Ibn Zubayr had advised him to leave them in Mecca. And for a moment, he had actually considered doing that.
But in the end, he could not. All Banu Umayyah had to do was take his family hostage and Husayn’s mission would be over.
And so, they had to come along, women, children, babies and all. All of them, heading for some unknown destiny in Iraq.
زبالا الحجاز ستين سنة هجرية
Zubala, Arabia, 60 AH
Nearly three weeks into the journey and Zaynab bint Ali was more worried than ever. Things just weren’t going as expected.
Practically everyone they met warned Husayn not to go to Kufah. It was the same thing in Mecca where Ibn Zubayr, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar and many others advised Husayn to stay in the Hijaz.
She wondered about that.
No messages from Muslim ibn Aqil.
No word from Qays ibn Mushir.
No word from a second messenger, Husayn’s mawla, Ibn Yaqtur.
All had gone to Kufah and had simply, disappeared.
Meanwhile, their caravan kept growing. Every time they stopped, more people joined.
Zaynab knew most of these newcomers did not care about Husayn’s mission. They were mostly opportunists looking for some benefit.
But some of them were sincere.
Like the Bajali, Zuhayr ibn Al-Qayn. After performing Hajj, he had followed Husayn out of Mecca.
Whenever Husayn stopped, Zuhayr’s family would also stop. But he maintained a respectful distance, always staying a little further down the road.
Finally, Husayn invited Zuhayr to join him. Zuhayr immediately divorced his wife, sent her home with their children, and joined Husayn’s group.
And now, they had set up camp at a place called Tha’labiyyah by some and Zubala by others, in an area considered Arabia by some and Iraq by others.
Their food and water stores had run so low, they had to slaughter one of their camels. To stretch the food, Zaynab had prepared a stew with chunks of camel meat served with dried dates steeped in camel’s milk.
It was after sundown when two young Asadi men arrived at the camp requesting an audience with Husayn.
After greeting him, one of the men said: “May Allah have mercy on you, Ibn Ali. We have some news. Would you prefer we tell you privately?”
Husayn looked around at the men of his camp. “I have no secrets from these men.”
“We just left our cousin who asked us to give you a message from the captain of the Shurta in Kufah, Muhammad ibn Al-Ash’ath.”
Zaynab knew the name Al-Ash’ath. He was a Yemeni noble who rebelled against Abu Bakr during the Wars of Apostacy. This Shurta captain must have been his son.
“According to him,” the young Asadi man paused nervously: “Muslim ibn Aqil has been killed along with Hani ibn Urwah and several others.”
There was a collective gasp and a woman shrieked. The noise startled a baby who began crying. Several of Muslim’s relatives jumped up screaming curses upon Banu Umayyah and Yazid ibn Muawiyyah.
Husayn’s face, usually an emotionless mask, looked devastated. Zaynab saw him struggling to control his emotions before eventually giving in to them.
“Inna lillah was inna ilaihi rajioon,” Husayn said in between sobs. “May Allah have mercy on Muslim and Hani.”
“Please don’t go to Kufah, Ibn Rasulullah,” the Asadi man continued. “For your sake and the sake of your family, your Ahlul Bayt, stay away from Kufah. You have no friends there. You have no Shia there.”
“No!” shouted Abdur Rahman ibn Aqil, one of Muslim’s brothers. “Our brother’s death must be avenged!”
Another brother, Jafar ibn Aqil, piped up. “We’re not going back until we kill those who killed Muslim, or we die trying.”
The camp went silent. The only sound was the baby crying somewhere in the distance.
Everyone was watching Husayn, waiting to hear what he would say.
His emotionless mask was back on. The only difference was the moisture on his cheeks, tears shimmering like coals in the reddening sky.
“There is no good in this world without Muslim ibn Aqil,” he said. “The mission continues.”
“May Allah have mercy on you Ibn Ali,” one of her cousins told Husayn. “Allah will bring you victory. You are not Muslim ibn Aqil. If you go to Kufah, the people will support you.”
Husayn nodded before disappearing into his tent.
The next morning, they broke camp and continued north a few miles before stopping at the oasis of Zubala.
Three Bedouins were already there, watering their animals. They told Husayn all the roads leading to Kufah were blocked by the governor’s men.
They also said there had been talk that a Shia spy had been killed in Kufah.
“I think they said his name was Ibn Yaqtur,” said an old Bedouin. “The governor threw him off the palace roof but the fall didn’t kill him. He was broken but still breathing. Some man came up to him, and slit his throat to end the suffering.”
After the prayers, Husayn called for his followers to gather around him. Zaynab saw her sons near the front ranks looking up at their uncle.
Husayn read from a written statement. His voice was strong but shaky. Some might have thought it was fear that made his voice quake, but Zaynab knew her brother better.
He did not fear anything. His voice shook from sorrow.
“Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem,” began Husayn. “The dreadful news of the murder of Muslim ibn Aqil, Hani ibn Urwah, and Abdullah ibn Yaqtur has reached us. Our Shia in Kufah have deserted us. Many of you joined me because you thought, as I did, that Kufah would welcome us and we’d have a chance at victory. But as it turns out, that will not be the case. It is very likely, that if you continue with me, you may face death. Therefore, any of you who would like to return home, you may do so and be free of any guilt.”
Zaynab looked around. No one among Banu Hashim moved.
But most of those who had joined over the past three weeks packed up their belongings, and departed.
Over the next few days, Zaynab noticed a dark quiet had settled on the group. They traveled with a dreadful, somber silence. Most of the time, the only sounds she heard were the grunts from the animals, their feet against the hard, packed earth, and an occasional baby’s whimper.
A few days later found them resting at a place called Batn Al-Aqabah, waiting out the sun’s unbearable heat. There, in the shade of a mountain, they found an old man from the Ikrimah tribe resting as well.
Zaynab overheard Husayn strike up a conversation with him.
“I beg you, by Allah, Ibn Ali, do not go to Kufah,” the old man said after listening to Husayn. “You won’t find anything there but the tips of spears and the edges of swords.”
“Your wise advice is appreciated, uncle,” said Husayn respectfully. “But I cannot ignore Allah’s commandment. I must continue on to Kufah until Allah decides otherwise.”
When the sun had cooled, they continued their journey until Husayn ordered them to strike camp at a place called Sharaf. Now, they were only two days from Kufah.
The next morning, Husayn led them in prayer then ordered everyone to stock up on water again. Then they broke camp and set off at a quick pace towards Kufah.
Several hours later someone near the front yelled: “Allahu Akbar!”
“What is it?” asked Husayn. “Why did you say that?”
“I think I see palm trees up ahead,” the man responded.
Zaynab directed her camel towards a sloping hill to have a better look. Perhaps it was another watering hole where they could get more information.
Instead, what Zaynab saw made her heart sink. She covered her mouth to stifle a cry.
It was not palm trees in the distance.
It was the steel points of hundreds of glimmering lances.
القادسية العراق واحد و ستين سنة هجرية
Qadisiyyah, Iraq, 61 AH
Umar ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas beckoned the messenger into his tent.
“Commander,” the man said, “I have an update from Hurr ibn Yazid.”
Hurr ibn Yazid was Umar’s captain of the advance guard. He had sent him ahead with a thousand men, hoping Husayn would realize the futility of his rebellion.
Umar’s scouts had been tracking Husayn’s movements ever since the oasis at Zubala. He had even sent a few men to warn Husayn not to come to Kufah.
He kept hoping Husayn would come to his senses and go back to Mecca. His scouts had reported Husayn was traveling with less than two hundred people, many them women and children. There was no way he could hope to defeat the advance guard, let alone Umar’s entire force.
Umar listened as the messenger explained what happened after the advance guard arrived.
When Husayn saw Hurr’s troops approaching, he led his group to a small mountain called Dhu Husum. This was a classic military tactic to protect one’s rear.
Hurr had stopped his men across from Husayn, just close enough to be imposing. He had been ordered to arrest Husayn, but not to attack unless provoked.
The two sides stood quietly in the hot sun, for almost an hour. Each expected the other to make the first move.
Finally, the time for prayer came and both sides lined up. Hurr asked Husayn to lead them in prayer which he did. When they finished, Husayn explained his reasons for rebellion.
He accused Banu Umayyah of corruption and tyranny and that the Kufans had begged him to come.
When Hurr said he knew nothing about that, Husayn brought out a satchel with at least fifty letters and dumped them on the ground between them. Hurr simply responded that his orders were to bring Husayn to the governor and of course, Husayn refused.
When the two parties went back to their positions by the mountain, Husayn tried to lead his group towards Kufah.
But everywhere he went, Hurr’s advance guard cut him off.
When Husayn tried to go left, Hurr’s soldiers moved to block him. When Husayn went right, Hurr blocked him again. When Husayn walked straight along the road, Hurr’s men marched in the same direction on the opposite side.
“What was he trying to do?” asked Umar ibn Sa’d.
“Hurr wanted to make sure Husayn could not advance towards Kufah. I think Hurr was trying to obey his orders without directly engaging with Husayn.”
This cat and mouse game continued for several hours as they zig-zagged across the desert. Hurr kept forcing Husayn northwest away from Kufah until they reached Udhaibh al-Hijanat, a popular watering hole and grazing area.
There, four Iraqi Shias arrived and informed Husayn that Kufah was lost.
Hurr had wanted to arrest those four new Shia but Husayn insisted they were part of his group. They argued a bit but eventually, Hurr let the men stay with Husayn.
“Wait a minute,” said Umar ibn Sa’d. “You mean to tell me Hurr allowed Husayn to take on more men?”
“Yes, Commander,” the man nodded.
“What was he thinking?”
“Commander,” said the messenger solemnly, “Husayn knew that Hurr did not want to fight him and was taking advantage of this weakness. One of the four Shia, even warned Husayn about you.”
“Really?” Umar ibn Sa’d was surprised. “What did he say?”
“He told Husayn that that this was only the advance guard and there were another four thousand men at Qadisiyyah. Then he invited Husayn to go with him into the Aja Mountains where his people would protect him.”
“Did he go with him?” Umar asked hopefully.
“No. He said he had an agreement with the people of Kufah and he meant to see it through.”
Umar ibn Sa’d slumped back in his chair, crestfallen. If only Husayn had taken that offer. Umar could have gone back to Ubaydullah and honestly say he had done his duty.
“After that,” the man continued, “the man left and Hurr dispatched the messengers.”
“Messengers?” repeated Umar ibn Sa’d. “You’re not the only one?”
“No. He sent another messenger to update the governor.”
“Ya Allah!” exclaimed Umar ibn Sa’d, jumping up. “Go to the captains. Tell them to get their men ready for deployment. We march at dawn.”
If Ubaydullah interfered, this whole affair was going to get very bad very quickly. He had to reach Husayn first.
نينوي العراق واحد و ستين سنة هجرية
Nineveh, Iraq, 61 AH
Husayn ordered a halt on the sandy plain. He needed a moment to think things through.
Several yards away, Hurr and his men were stopped as well. Husayn had hoped he could lead his smaller group around Hurr and make a break for Kufah. But traveling with so many women and children slowed him down.
Husayn was well off course from Kufah. Hurr had forced him north of the city and things did not look like they were going to get any better.
If he could just get a moment to think. Though dogged, Hurr seemed like a good man just following orders. Husayn felt that if he could have a moment to talk with him, explain what he was trying to do, Hurr might actually let him through to Kufah.
Husayn knew that was his only chance. He had to hope that Allah changed some people’s hearts and that they would understand his mission for what it was.
So far, nothing had gone right. Everything was falling apart. A part of him wanted to give up and return to Mecca.
But he couldn’t do that. Too many people had died for this mission. Husayn could not let their deaths go in vain.
Muslim ibn Aqil. Hani ibn Urwa. Abdullah ibn Yaqtur.
And according to the four men from Kufah, Qays ibn Mushir as well.
These were good men who worshiped Allah and loved His Messenger. They died trying to establish justice and fight corruption.
Then Husayn thought about his family. He had the best men from Banu Hashim with him. There were women and children and babies including his own sons and nephews.
All of their lives depended on the choices he made.
The sound of hoofbeats came echoing across the plain. Husayn and his men looked east and saw a lone rider galloping full speed towards them. The rider pulled up short, greeted Hurr and handed him a letter.
Husayn watched Hurr unfurl the letter and read the message. Hurr frowned, handed the letter back to the rider, and nodded, his lips pressed tightly together.
“This is a letter from the governor, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad,” Hurr announced to Husayn and his group. “He has ordered me to bring you to an immediate halt. This man is Ubaydullah’s personal messenger and he’s to stay with me until I’ve carried out this order.”
Zuhayr ibn Al-Qayn approached Husayn. “I did not divorce my wife and give up my family to submit to the Bastard’s son. I suggest we attack Hurr now. He’ll be easier to take on than the thousands that are coming behind him.”
Husayn shook his head. “No. I don’t want to strike first. If fighting is inevitable, then we will only do so in self-defense.”
“Then at least let’s find someplace more suitable. We’re like newborn camels out here in the open like this. There’s a village not too far from here called Al-Aqr near the plains of Karbala. It is fortified and close to the Euphrates river.”
Husayn agreed and ordered a hurried march to the village before Hurr could respond. They settled into the abandoned village and took up defensive positions.
Husayn did not like this. Everything was moving so fast. All he needed was a little time to think. Just a few hours to figure things out.
He led his group in prayer before eating a small meal of dried camel meat and dates. Then he posted guards, and settled down for the night.
The next morning, he led them in prayer and began to reconsider his options.
Hurr wanted to take him to Umar ibn Sa’d who would want him to give Yazid the pledge.
The thought sickened Husayn. It would be doubly humiliating. He’d have to travel to Syria as a prisoner, then take Yazid’s fat, wine-stained hand and give him the pledge.
There was another option. Husayn could send his family back home, then join the military and go fight in the cause of Allah until he was killed. He’d rather die fighting the Romans than fighting other Muslims.
Husayn might also offer to live in exile away from all the major cities. The thought of spending his last years on the frontiers of the empire with his family had a certain appeal. He could certainly do without the politics of Mecca and Kufah.
He was just finishing his breakfast of hard barley bread, olive oil, dates and warm camel’s milk when he heard someone shouting. Husayn ran outside, his dates still in hand.
Then he saw what all the commotion was about.
A host of thousands of soldiers was coming over the horizon.
دار الإمارة الكوفة واحد و ستين
The Governor’s Palace, Kufah, 61 AH
“A message from Umar ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas,” the man said handing the rolled-up parchment to Ubaydullah.
Ubaydullah did not know what to expect. He had his doubts about Umar ibn Sa’d’s ability to get the job done.
Umar’s reluctance to march against Husayn was particularly irksome. He only agreed when Ubaydullah threatened to strip him of his titles.
Ubaydullah read the letter and smiled. Perhaps he had underestimated Umar.
So far, everything had gone as planned. Both of Husayn’s messengers had been caught and executed. Most of the Shia in Kufah had rescinded their pledges to Husayn and reaffirmed their loyalty to Banu Umayyah. And according to Umar ibn Sa’d’s letter, Husayn’s pitiful party was cornered in an abandoned village by the Euphrates.
Umar had sent messengers to speak with Husayn, to enquire what he wanted. Husayn had responded that the people of Kufah invited him to come. But now, if they did not want him, he would leave them alone and go away.
Umar ibn Sa’d wanted to know if the governor would accept that offer.
Ubaydullah shook his head. No, it was too late for Husayn to walk away now.
He should never have rebelled against Yazid in the first place. And he should not have sent his cousin to Kufah.
Husayn did not have to leave Mecca. He did not have to cross hundreds of miles of open desert. He did not have to drag his women and children along with him.
Throughout that entire journey, Husayn could have changed his mind at any time, and gone back to Mecca.
“Now, when our claws are in you, you want to talk it out and walk away,” said Ubaydullah. “But the time for talking has passed.”
Ubaydullah called for ink and parchment and penned a response to Umar ibn Sa’d.
“Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. I have received your letter and I’ve understood everything you said. Offer Husayn the opportunity for him and his followers to give Yazid the pledge. If he does that, then we’ll think about what comes next.”
Ubaydullah thought that sounded good but felt something was missing.
He had to put the pressure on Husayn. He had to make him realize this rebellion was futile and doomed. He had to bring him to his knees quickly.
Husayn’s family was his weakness. Husayn might be willing to sacrifice himself for this foolish cause, but he would not sacrifice his women and children. A few days of their suffering, and Husayn would be begging to take Yazid’s hand.
Ubaydullah continued writing.
“Keep Husayn and his followers away from water. Do not let them get a single drop until they’ve surrendered.”
Let them suffer, thought Ubaydullah. Let their lips and throats crack just like they did to my ancestor, the righteous Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan.
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