The day Shabath ibn Ribʿī was sent to Karbala
On Muharram 5th, ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad sent a man called “Shabath ibn Ribʿī” together with one thousand soldiers to Karbala.
Who was the “man of many faces” of Kūfah?
Shabath ibn Ribʿī was a man of many faces; thus in order to get a more vivid picture of this evil man one needs to study his different faces.
One of the illuminating pieces of evidence regarding this hypocrite is found in a long speech given by Imam Husayn (‘a) to the army of Kūfah on the day of Ashura. In his speech, the Imam names some of the people of Kūfah who had sent him letters urging him to assume their command to rise up against tyranny:
“يا شَبَثَ بْنَ ربَعي ، وَ يا حَجَّارَ بْنَ أَبْجَرٍ، وَ يا قَيْسَ بْنَ الْأَشْعَثِ، وَ يا يَزيدَ بْنَ الْحارِثِ، أَلَمْ تَكْتُبُوا الَىَّ: «أَنْ قَدْ أَيْنَعَتِ الثِّمَارُ وَ اخْضَرَّ الْجَنابُ، وَ طَمَّتِ الْجِمامُ وَ إِنَّما تُقْدِمُ عَلى جُنْدٍ لَكَ مُجَنَّدٌ، فَاقْبِلْ”
“O’ Shabath ibn Ribʿī! O’ Ḥajjār ibn Abjar! O’ Qays ibn Ashʿath! O’ Yazid ibn Ḥārith! Was it not you who wrote me letters saying: “The conditions are favorable for you here and by coming to us you will be coming to a large army fully armed and prepared to carry out your commands! So come to us immediately!”?”
But the ones whom the Imam named, including Shabath ibn Ribʿī, denied having written those letters. The Imam, then, replied:
“سُبْحانَ اللَّهِ! بَلى وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ فَعَلْتُمْ”
“Glory to Allah! Rather, you did indeed write these letters!”
Finally, Shabath ibn Ribʿī along with Qays ibn Ashʿath, ʿUbaydullah ibn Abbas, Shurayḥ the judge of Kūfah, Shimr ibn Dhiljawshan, and Umar ibn Saʿd ended up killing Imam Husayn (‘a) and all his companions and a large number of the Prophet’s Ahl-al-Bayt and thus were among those doomed to hell.
The day Ḥuṣain ibn Numayr arrived in Karbala
Muharram 5th is also the day when Ḥuṣain ibn Numayr [also known as Ḥuṣain ibn Tamīm] rode to Karbala with four thousand horsemen by the order of ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad.
Ḥuṣain ibn Numayr was one of the commanders of Yazid’s army. He was also the man who, when Imam Husayn (‘a) asked for a short ceasefire to perform the noon prayer on the day of Ashura, said: “your prayer will not be accepted by Allah!”
In response to his outrageous remarks, Ḥabīb ibn Muẓāhir said:
“زَعَمْتَ أَنَّها لاتُقْبَلُ مِنْ آلِ الرَّسُولِ وَتُقْبَلُ مِنْكَ يَا حِمارُ؟”
“Do you reckon that Allah will not accept the prayer of the Prophet’s Ahl-al-Bayt and will accept yours, you idiot?!”
Enraged by Ḥabīb’s sharp retort, Ḥuṣain ibn Numayr attacked him and Ḥabīb also answered him with his drawn sword. This, in turn, provoked some others from both sides to attack the other side. In the end, Ḥabīb ibn Muẓāhir who was an old man at the time was killed after a heroic fight.
The day Ibn Ziad ordered his soldiers to prevent those who intended to j o i n Imam Husayn (‘a) from going to Karbala
On Muharram 5th ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad appointed a man called “Zaḥr ibn Qays” as the chief of police for the city of Kūfah and ordered him to kill anyone who wanted to leave Kūfah to j o i n Imam Husayn (‘a).
So, the people of Kūfah who were frail, ignorant, and lacked determination, were intimidated by Ibn Ziad’s threats and forgot their allegiance to Imam Husayn (‘a). Ultimately, not only did they break their vows to the Imam, they used the weapons that they had vowed to use to fight for him in the battle against him and took part in killing the Imam, his companions, and the Prophet’s ahl-al-Bayt!
The man who sought a reward!
It is worth noting that Zaḥr ibn Qays has been referred to in some history references as “Zajr” and “Zafr” as well. According to a narrative by Ibrahim ibn Saied [who accompanied Zuhayr ibn Ghayn in his Hajj pilgrimage] Imam Husayn (‘a) had talked about this atrocious man’s forthcoming crimes in the event of Ashura before he even arrived in Karbala:
“when Zuhayr went to meet Imam Husayn (‘a) the Imam told him: “I will be killed in Karbala and Zaḥr ibn Qays will take my severed head to Yazid seeking to earn a reward, but Yazid will not give him anything””.
Researched, complied, and edited by: the news editorial of the website of the office of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: www.makarem.ir
 He was one of the atrocious criminals of the event of Ashura and the commander of the infantry of Umar ibn Saʿd’s army [“Ashura: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 682].
 “Guidelines of the Islamic Economy”, p. 6.
 “Ashura: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 418.
 “The Teachings of the Infallibles (‘a)”, vol. 1, p. 196.
 He is referred to as “Ḥuṣain ibn Numayr” in the book Biḥār Al Anwār [vol. 45, p. 21].
 Tabari. Tabari Chrinicle. Vol. 4, p. 334; Biḥār Al Anwār, vol. 45, p. 21.
 “Ashura: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 472.
 Ibid, p. 455.
 Ibid, p. 515.
 Ibn Qutaybah. Al Imāmah wa Al Siyāsah. Vol. 1, p. 127; Ibn Kathīr. Al Bidāyah wa Al Nahāyah. Vol. 15, p. 129; Ibn Aʿtham. Al Futūḥ. Vol. 5, p. 126 & vol. 6, p. 295; Al Muqarram. Maqtal Al Husayn. P. 205.
 Ibn Qutaybah. Al Imāmah wa Al Siyāsah. Vol. 1, p. 110; Tabari. Tabari Chronicle. Vol. 4, p. 524; Ibn Jawzī. Al Muntaẓam. Vol. 5, p. 341.
 “Ithbāt Al Hudāh” vol. 2, p. 588; “Dalā’il Al Imāmah”, p. 182.
 “Ashura: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 447.