Captives Journey to Damascus:
After about a month and seven days of captivity in Kufa, the captives were set off for Damascus with a large army of horsemen and footmen so that no one could intercept their journey. With their mean-hearted escort, the caravan left Kufa on the eighteenth day of Safar. They suffered untold hardships on their way to Damascus, which was no less than 750 miles away. The journey was long, tough, and exhausting, more so for children such as Al-Baaqir, who was only 4 year old. Sakeena was on a bare back camel, and at one point she slipped from her camel and fell, but the caravan didn’t stop. No one, apart from her family members, noticed her fall, then she was saved. After this incident, the pitiless army changed the formation of the prisoners. Imam Zainul Abideen was already in shackles, but they tied his son, Al-Baaqir, on his back. Then the same rope was tied on his sister Sakeena’s neck so that Imam Zainul Abideen could not stand up straight. If he did stand straight, the rope would become tight and strangle Sakeena.
Their journey took them through many villages and towns, among them Karbala, Ba’albeck, Hums, and Mosul. They were made to travel without hijab, and on bare-back camels. The heads of the martyrs were carried on spears before them. In some of the towns, the crowds flocked to jeer at them. But when they passed through a place where the people were friendly towards the family of the Prophet (pbuh), they came out to fight Yazid’s army. The escorts were often forced to take other routes involving long diversions, and the camels were made to run faster so as to cover the extra distance. After about 28 days of the journey, on the 16th of Rabi ul-Awwal, the caravan reached Damascus.
The common man in Syria, particularly in Damascus, thought some rebels were subdued. They did not know the true story, for such was the propaganda of Yazid’s government! The common man was celebrating the occasion as the procession proceeded, a procession consisting of women on bare back camels, dusty and disheveled, a man in shackles, all of whom preceded by 72 heads on the tips of spears! It must have been a grotesque scene, a scene you never like to see nor a scene you can ever forget.
But soon people found out, and with that there came a feeling of high indignation, and an outrage grew within a few days. The government was caught red‑handed, its lies exposed, the outrage was well deserved.
When they reached the outskirts of Damascus they were made to halt. Yazid was informed of their arrival and he fixed a date for their entry into the city. On the morning of the appointed day, the members of the family of the Prophet (pbuh) were led into Damascus. They were herded together. No consideration or kindness were shown, only meanness and the brute of force. The city streets were decorated and music filled the air to celebrate the victor, Yazid. People came out in festive clothes and they rejoiced when they saw the procession of the vanquished, preceded as always by the heads of the martyrs atop the spears. The women, without hijab, along with the children were paraded through the main bazaars of Damascus. People were to celebrate the demise of the rebels, as they were led to believe by Damascus.
Among the crowds was the son of an enemy of the Prophet (pbuh) who had once waged war with Imam Ali (a.s.). When he saw Imam Zainul Abideen he jeeringly asked him who was now victorious? In reply the Imam said:
|“If you wish to find out who has been victorious, do so when it is time for prayer and the Athan and Iqaama are recited.”|
Zainab’s Sermons in Darbar-e-Yazid:
At the plush seat of government, Yazid, proud of himself, surrounded by men of influence, was seated in wait. It was somewhat startling when he saw the 44 (see Note 2) bound captives arrive. It was more startling when the head of Al-Husain was brought to him on a golden tray. He, playfully touched the Imam’s teeth with the end of his stick and said:
“O Husain! You have paid the price of your revolt.”
Taken aback at this audacity, Zainab and her companions were inflamed. Present were many sympathizers who felt sorely aggravated. But Yazid carried on gloating over his victory. He said to his subjects: “An avenge for my ancestors killed at Badr. Now Benu Hashim had staged a ploy to gain power.” Zainab, however, was incensed. She drew herself up and said aloud:
|“Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and blessings on my grandfather, the Master of divine Prophets.”|
“O Yazid, Allah says, and His word is true, that:
ثُمَّ كَانَ عَاقِبَةَ الَّذِينَ أَسَاؤُوا السُّوأَى أَن كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَكَانُوا بِهَا يَسْتَهْزِئُون
In the long run evil in the extreme will be the End of those who do evil;
for that they rejected the Signs of Allah, and held them up to ridicule.
“O Yazid, do you believe that you have succeeded in closing the sky and the earth for us and that we have become your captives just because we have been brought before you in a row and that you have secured control over us? Do you believe that we have been afflicted with insult and dishonor by Allah but that you have been given honor and respect by Him? You have become boastful of this apparent victory and you feel jubilant and proud over this honor. You think that you have achieved worldly good, that your affairs have become stable and that our rule has fallen into your hands. Wait for a while. Do not be so joyful. Have you forgotten Allah’s saying:
وَلاَ يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِّأَنفُسِهِمْ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُواْ إِثْمًا وَلَهْمُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment. [Quran 3:178]”
“O son of freed slaves, is this your justice that you keep your own daughters and slave-maids veiled while the daughters of the Prophet of Allah are being paraded from place to place exposed.”
“You have dishonored us by unveiling our faces. Your men took us from town to town where all sorts of people, whether they be residents of the hills or of riversides have been looking at us.”
“The near as well as the remote ones, the poor as well as the rich, the low as well as the high – all casting their glances at us while our position is such that there is no male relative of ours to render us help or support”.
“O Yazid, whatever you have done proves your revolt against Allah and your denial of His Prophet (pbuh) and of the Book and Sunnah that the Prophet brought from Allah. Your deeds should not cause amazement because one whose ancestors chewed the livers of the martyrs, whose flesh grew up on virtuous people, who fought against the Master of the divine Prophets, who mobilized parties for fighting against him and drew swords against him, should conspicuously excel all Arabs in unbelief, sinfulness, excesses, and enmity against Allah and His Prophet.”
“Remember that the evil deeds and sinful actions that you have committed are the result of unbelief and old rancor you bear because of your ancestors who were killed in Badr.”
“One who cast his glance of enmity, malice and rancor upon us does not lag behind in practicing enmity against us. He proves his unbelief, declares it with his tongue and jubilantly proclaims: ‘I have killed the sons of the Prophet of Allah and made his progeny captive,’ and wishes that his ancestors had lived to see his achievement and to have exclaimed, ‘O Yazid, may your hands not lose their strength, you have wreaked good vengeance on our behalf.’
“O Yazid, you are striking the lips of Imam Al-Husain with your stick in front of this crowd while these very lips used to be kissed by the Prophet of Allah, and yet your face reflects pleasure and glee.”
“By my life, by killing the Master of youths of Paradise, the son of the Master of Arabs (Imam Ali) and the shining sun of the progeny of Abdul Mut’talib, you have deepened our wound and uprooted us completely.”
“By killing Al-Husain ibn Ali you have gained nearness to the state of your unbelieving ancestors. You proclaim your deed with pride and if they were to see you they would approve of your action and pray that Allah may not paralyze your arms.”
“O Yazid! If you had heart enough to take account of your horrendous deeds, you yourself would surely wish your arms to be paralyzed and severed from your elbow and you would wish that your parents had not given birth to you because you would know that Allah has become displeased with you. Allah, Grant us our rights. Avenge those who have oppressed us.”
“O Yazid! you did what you wished, but remember that you have cut your own skin and your own flesh to pieces. Soon you will be brought before the Holy Prophet (pbuh). You will be overwhelmed with the weight of the sins committed by shedding the blood of his progeny and by dishonoring his family. The place to which you will be taken will be before all the members of his family. The oppressed will be avenged and the enemies will be punished.”
“O Yazid ! It is not seeming for you to swell with joy after slaying the Prophet’s progeny. ‘Reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive and are provided sustenance from their Lord; rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace’ [3:169-170].”
“Allah is sufficient to deal with you. The Messenger of Allah is your antagonist and Jubra’eel is our support and help against you”.
“Those who have made you the head of state and burdened the Muslims with your leadership will soon find out what awaits them. The end of all tyrants is agony.”
“O Yazid. I speak not to you thus to warn you of the severe chastisement in store for you so that you should be regretful for you are one of those whose hearts are hardened, souls are rebellious and whose bodies are busy in Allah’s disobedience while they are under the curse of the Prophet of Allah. You are from among those in whose heart Shaitan has made his abode and has been breeding young ones”.
“How amazing it is that the virtuous people, sons of the divine prophets and vicegerents are killed at the hands of liberated slaves, evil-doers and sinners. Our blood is shed by their hands and our flesh serves as food for them. We feel grieved for those whose bodies are lying uncovered and unburied in the battlefield, wounded with arrows.”
“O Yazid, if you consider our defeat is your achievement then you will have to pay its price”.
“Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and abode of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope.”
“You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honored us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonor that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the tyrants and the unjust.”
“Praise be to Allah who gave good end to His friends and granted them success in their aims, and thereafter called them back to His Mercy, Pleasure and Bliss, while you hurled yourself into evil and mischief by committing injustice against them. We pray to Allah to favor us with full recompense through them and grant us the good of Khilaafah and Imamah. Surely Allah is Kind and the Most Merciful over His creatures.”
Among the gathering was a red haired Syrian who saw Fatima Kubra, daughter of Imam Al-Husain, and asked Yazid to give her to him. When Fatima Kubra heard this she clung to Zainab and started to weep, frightened. She feared that now after the loss of her father she was to be made a slave girl.
Zainab was not afraid. She turned to Yazid and told him that he had neither right nor authority to give the young girl away like that, at which he bristled, retorting that he could do so.
Zainab remarked, “You are abusing me because of your authority and power.” At this Yazid was shamed into silence. To the Syrian she said: “May the curse of Allah be upon you. May hell be your eternal abode. May your eyes be blinded and your limbs paralyzed.”
Yazid was so enraged with Zainab’s sermon and her amazingly bold defiance of him that he ordered her be killed, were it not for Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Aas. He intervened on behalf of Zainab and asked to ignore her harsh words since she had suffered so much grief and hardship.
Imam Zainul Abideen would also have suffered death at the hands of Yazid on account of his fearless speech, had it not for Zainab who saved his life by interjecting with Yazid, crying slay me along with him.
Zainul Abideen is face to face with Yazid
Yazid’s court (and that of Mu’awiya’s) was constructed along the Hellenic fashion, i.e., the Greek style of government. Its administration, management, and courtier were Byzantine like. It showed evidence of opulence by being very expensively decorated, and having numerous guards around. At the moment however, the atmosphere of the court was somber and gloomy, sensing that a very big mistake had been committed, since already people in the streets were outraged.
Being face to face Yazid said, “Son of Al‑Husain, your father refused to recognize my throne and authority….. You have seen what Allah did with him as a result of it.”
Zainul Abideen retorted indignantly by quoting the Holy Quran, “You are visited with afflictions in this world, pre‑ordained for you.” Then he added, “May the curse of Allah be upon those who killed my father.”
The first confrontation over, Zainul Abideen and his family were kept in detention. In the days that followed, a number of exchanges took place in the court of Yazid. Each time Zainul Abideen gave very powerful replies, relying mostly on quoting the Holy Quran.
On one occasion Yazid asked the Sermonizer to give a speech condemning Imam Ali. The person obliged, then Imam Zainul Abideen asked permission to speak up before the people. After some hesitation Yazid consented. Imam Zainul Abideen then said:
|أيها الناس أنا ابن مكة ومنى أنا ابن زمزم والصفا أنا ابن من حمل الركن بأطراف الردا|
|أنا ابن خير مائتزر وارتدى أنا ابن خير من انتعل واحتفى أنا ابن خير من طاف وسعى|
|أنا ابن خير من حج و لبى أنا ابن من حمل على البراق في الهواء|
|أنا ابن من أسري به من المسجد الحرام إلى المسجد الأقصى أنا ابن من بلغ به جبرئيل إلى سدرة المنتهى|
|أنا ابن من دَنا فَتَدَلَّى فَكانَ قاب َقَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنى أنا ابن من صلى بملائكة السماء|
|أنا ابن من أوحى إليه الجليل ما أوحى أنا ابن محمد المصطفى أنا ابن علي المرتضى|
|أنا ابن من ضرب خراطيم الخلق حتى قالوا لا إله إلا اللَّه|
|أنا ابن من ضرب بين يدي رسول اللَّه سيفين وطعن برمحين وهاجر الهجرتين وبايع البيعتين وقاتل ببدر وحنين ولم يكفر باللَّه طرفة عين|
|أنا ابن صالح المؤمنين ووارث النبيين وقامع الملحدين ويعسوب المسلمين ونور المجاهدين وزين العابدين وتاج البكاءين وأصبر الصابرين وأفضل القائمين من آل ياسين رسول رب العالمين|
|أنا ابن المؤيد بجبرئيل المنصور بميكائيل أنا ابن المحامي عن حرم المسلمين وقاتل المارقين والناكثين والقاسطين والمجاهد أعداءه الناصبين وأفخر من مشى من قريش أجمعين وأول من أجاب واستجاب للَّه ولرسوله من المؤمنين وأول السابقين وقاصم المعتدين ومبيد المشركين وسهم من مرامي اللَّه على المنافقين ولسان حكمة العابدين وناصر دين اللَّه وولي أمر اللَّه …….|
“O’ people! Allah Almighty has especially endowed us with valor, wisdom, and knowledge. In the same way Allah has filled the hearts of the faithful with love for us.
Not only this, but Allah exalted us to a higher position in comparison with any other descendant of Muhammad (pbuh). (Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol 4, Page 164. Also Sahih Muslim Page 119).
I am hereby acquainting all, irrespective of whether you know me or not, of the honor and privilege I occupy:
|I am the offspring of the Lord of Mecca and Medina,|
|I am the issue of the Lord of Zamzam and Safa,|
|I am the lineal descendant of him whose forefather had lifted in his cloak the Black Stone,|
|I am the child of the one who mounted the Buraq and gone through the regions of Heavens|
|I am from the progeny of the one who went up to Sidratul Mun’taha, and whom Allah had shown the spring‑head of the Wahy|
|I am the offspring of the guide from whom disbelievers got the guidance to the straight path, I am ……………….|
|I am the son of a person whose thread of life was snapped by cruel fingers, and whose head severed while thirsty, body left exposed to the burning sands of Karbala,|
|I am the son whose father’s death was mourned by the Angels, and by men and Jinn, …..|
|I am the son whose father’s head was mounted on a spear and taken from one town to another,|
|O people! I take witness that I thank Allah that He involved Ahlul Bayt in serious trials and also that at the same time the standard of guidance was in our hands, while the misguidance was in other people’s hands …….”|
When Zainul Abideen finished his speech, the stunned people were weeping and crying, while others were chocked into utter silence. All felt ashamed, degraded, and very low.
Note 2: It is presumed that of the 55 captives 11 children had died during journey or in the prison.
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