The events of Muharram 13th as narrated by Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

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The chronicle of events of Muharram:

The events of Muharram 13th as narrated by Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

Muharram 13th: The Lady Zeyhab (s) delivers the most crushing speech in Kūfah/The speech of Fatimah al-Ṣughrā (s) in Kūfah/The speech of Umme-Kulthūm (s) in Kūfah/The historic speech of Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa) in Kūfah/The captives of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) in the public meeting with ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad/The Lady Zeynab’s crushing response to ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad/Imam al--Sajjād (ʿa)’s crushing response to Ibn Ziad/The captives of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) in the prison of Kūfah/ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad insults Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head/The story of Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head in Kūfah/What verses from the Quran did Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head recite?/The news of Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s martyrdom reaches Medina and Damascus/The martyrdom of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAfīf.

Muharram 13th: The Lady Zeyhab (s) delivers the most crushing speech in Kūfah

On Muharram 13th, the Lady Zeynab (s) delivered a fiery speech in the bazaar of Kūfah. Her speech was so stirring yet well-reasoned that it seriously scared the Umayyad criminals, as they feared her illuminating words might instigate uprising of the people.

They were, in fact, right to be frightened with that speech; it was such speeches by the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) that shook the foundation of their tyranny and later instigated various uprisings against them in Kūfah and Damascus.[1]

In a part of her speech, the Lady Zeynab (s) said:

You cry and lament?! I swear by Allah that you will henceforth cry a lot and laugh a little, for you have been stigmatized with such a blot that will never be removed! How did you let the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (ṣ) and your refuge in times of distress be so brutally killed?! How did you let your society’s light of guidance be extinguished?![2][3]

 

One of the most amazing things regarding the story of Karbala is this eloquent and moving speech by the Lady Zeynab (s). Let us be reminded that this flawless speech was given by a woman who had suffered, just three days before, the devastating loss of six of her brothers, her two sons, and tens of her close relatives and the loyal companions of her father.

What is perhaps more incredible is that she was a captive at the time and was going to be sent like a captive to Damascus. Anyone in such a state would be so depressed and despondent that they would not be able to speak normally let alone give such an eloquent and crushing speech!

But Zeynab was no ordinary woman! She struck the perfidious people of Kūfah with wave after wave of blames and caused them to be overwhelmed by grief and remorse. It was these words which lit the flames of future uprisings against the Umayyad tyranny in the hearts of the people. This was certainly no easy task, but it was no less than we expected from the great daughter of Imam ʿAli (ʿa) and the Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (s)[4].

 

The speech of Fatimah al-Ṣughrā (s)[5] in Kūfah

Like her aunt Zeynab (s), Fatimah the daughter of Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa) also gave a fiery speech before the enemies. Her fiery yet well-reasoned and eloquent speech, reminded all of those speeches of Imam ʿAli (ʿa) given before his enemies. She too, like her great aunt, did not sound like a person who had suffered such tremendous losses just a few days before[6].[7]

 

The speech of Umme-Kulthūm (s) in Kūfah

Another great lady who delivered a speech before the people of Kūfah on Muharram 13th was Umme-Kulthūm, the other daughter of Amir al-Mu’minīn (ʿa).[8]

This speech, which was as fiery and crushing as the previous two, served as the deathblow to the Umayyad tyranny. Together with the other previous speeches, this speech also had a significant role in instigating later uprisings against the Umayyads.[9]

Umme-Kulthūm’s speech was so stirring that it caused the people of Kūfah to begin lamenting and mourning as if one of their own had been lost. It also instilled hatred for the Umayyads in the hearts of the people, something that would ultimately lead to a new chapter in the history of Islam[10].

 

The historic speech of Imam ai-Sajjād (ʿa) in Kūfah

The next speech which nearly led to an uprising of the people of Kūfah on that same day was the one given by Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa). The rebuking words of the Imam were so influential and stirring that the people of Kūfah prepared to take up arms and take revenge from the enemies of the Ahl-al-Bayt and the murderers who had slaughtered the martyrs of Karbala.

However, Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa) who was sure of the unfaithful nature of those people, as they had time and again displayed it on several occasions, rejected their offer to take up arms and fight the Umayyads and said: “Just do not do wrong us more, for we do not have any hope in you doing us any good you wretched traitors![11] 

These speeches were, at that time, the only means through which the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) could broadcast the historical facts about the enemies of Islam so as to expose their true faces. They also exposed the true face of those hypocrites who professed love and affection for the Ahl-al-Bayt but left them alone in their enemies’ clasp[12].

These speeches also exposed the truth about the false propaganda of the enemies of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) and they saved Islam from being completely derailed from its right track by the Umayyad hypocrites and tyrants.[13]

They were also the only means through which the truth about the event of Karbala could be broadcast to the entire Muslim community, hence not to let the cause of the martyrs of Karbala be forgotten. It is also because of these speeches that after more than a millennium later we know the truth of what happened in Karbala[14].  

 

The captives of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) in the public meeting with ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad

On Muharram 13th, Ibn Ziad arranged a public meeting in which all the people could take part; proud of his apparent victory, he ordered Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head to be placed before him in a tray as a sort of saber-rattling, and then ordered the women and children of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) to be presented before him.[15]

 

 

 

 

The Lady Zeynab’s crushing response to ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad/Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa)’s crushing response to Ibn Ziad

When the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) were brought before him, ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad, that ruthless and brutal man, asked the Lady Zeynab (s) what she thought about what happened in Karbala!

Zeynab (s) replied rather calmly and courageously: “I saw nothing but beauty [of courage and bravery winning over cowardice]!”[16]

Then she continued: “They [i.e. the martyrs of Karbala] were a people for whom martyrdom had been ordained by Allah and so they now rest in their tombs, awaiting the establishment of the Divine Court of Justice before which you and they shall be presented for reckoning”[17]

These calm yet sharp words left ʿUbaydullah enraged and speechless[18].[19]

 

Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa)’s crushing response to Ibn Ziad

By Imam al-Sajjād’s (ʿa) arrival in Ibn Ziad’s meeting, a fierce argument broke out between them and they argued to the point where Ibn Ziad ordered that Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa) be decapitated, but Zeynab (s) stopped his soldiers from doing that.

Imam al-Sajjād (ʿa) then retorted: “Are your threatening me with death?![20] Do you not know that being killed is an ordinary thing for us and that we consider it an honor to be killed in the way of Allah?![21][22]

 

The captives of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) in the prison of Kūfah

Having been thoroughly defeated in his arguments with the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa), Ibn Ziad ordered them to be put in chains and imprisoned in the prison of Kūfah.[23]

 

ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad insults Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head

With regard to this issue, the late ʿAllameh al-Majlisī has related the following:

“Saʻῑd ibn Maʿādh and ʿAmr ibn Sahl have been quoted as saying: “we were present in Ibn Ziad’s public meeting on Muharram 13th and we saw him insulting the Imam’s sacred head by hitting his eyes and lips with his stick””[24]

 

The story of Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head in Kūfah

After the meeting, Ibn Ziad ordered the severed heads of the martyrs to be put on display in the streets of Kūfah[25]. According to Sayyid ibn Ṭāwūss, Ibn Ziad also ordered his soldiers to take Imam Ḥusayn’s head and put the sacred head on display in the streets[26].[27]

 

What verses from the Quran did Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s severed head recite?

According to al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad ordered his soldiers to put Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s head on display in the streets of Kūfah as a way of saber-rattling. Regarding this incident, Zayd ibn Arqam is quoted as saying:

“I was sitting in my own chamber when I saw the soldiers brandishing Imam Ḥusayn’s head on a spear, walking around the city and displaying it to the people.

When that sacred head was brought near where I was sitting, I heard it recite this verse from the Quran:

أَمْ حَسِبْتَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ وَالرَّقِيمِ كَانُوا مِنْ آيَاتِنَا عَجَباً

Do you reckon that the Companions of the Cave and the Ins c r i p tion were among Our wondrous sings?[28]

I was severely shaken by this incident[29] and said to the head: “By Allah, your severed head reciting the Quran is much more wonderous [than the story of the Companions of the Cave and Ins c r i p tion] O’ grandson of the Messenger of Allah!!”[30][31]

The news of Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s martyrdom reaches Medina and Damascus

Following the event of ʿĀshūrā, ʿUbaydulah ibn Ziad wrote a letter to the governor of Medina and to Yazid in Damascus and informed them that he had killed Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa) and his companions[32].[33]

 

The martyrdom of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAfīf

Following the illuminating speeches of the members of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) regarding the crimes of the Umayyads in Karbala, ʿUbaydullah ibn Ziad feared that uprisings might be sparked off in the city. So, in order to deceive the people with his propaganda and prevent the imminent uprisings, he gathered the people in the mosque and went up to the pulpit to talk to them[34].

Sayyid ibn Ṭāwūss has written the following regarding ʿUbaydullah’s address to the people:

“Ibn Ziad began his address by praising Allah! Then he said:

“All praise to Allah who manifested the truth and the truthful and granted Amir-al-mu’minīn [meaning Yazid] and his followers victory and killed the liar, son of the liar [God forbid!]”[35]

When Abdullah ibn ʿAfīf al-Azdī[36] heard these outrageous remarks by ʿUbaydullah, he rose up and retorted:

يَابْنَ مَرْجانَةَ! إِنَ الْكَذَّابَ ابْنَ الْكَذَّابِ أَنْتَ وَأَبُوكَ، وَمَنِ اسْتَعْمَلَكَ وَأَبُوهُ. يا عَدُوَّاللَّهِ! أَتَقْتُلُونَ أَوْلادَ النَّبيّينَ وَ تَتَكَلَّمُونَ بِهذَا الْكَلامِ عَلى مَنابِرِ الْمُسْلِمينَ

O’ son of Marjānah! The liar and the son of the liar are none other than you and your father and he who has appointed you in this post [i.e. Yazid] and his father [i.e. Muʿāwiyyah]!! You enemy of Allah! You kill the descendants of the Prophet and then you dare climbing the Muslims’ pulpit uttering such [outrageous] things?![37]

Enraged by these words and the fact that he had been publicly embarrassed,[38] Ibn Ziad ordered his agents to decapitate Abdullah ibn ʿAfīf and hang his headless body up in the Sabkhah neighborhood [39] in Kūfah[40] for all the people to see[41].[42]

Indeed, there are very few men like Abdullah ibn ʿAfīf in the history; he was an old man who had been blinded in both eyes in battles against the enemies of Islam and the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa). Yet, though he was no longer able to take up arms and defend the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) he decided to sacrifice his life, verbally defending the Ahl-al-Bayt. In so doing, he also achieved what he had longed for his whole life: being killed in the way of Allah.[43]

 

Researched, complied, and edited by: the news editorial of the website of the office of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. www.makarem.ir

 

[1] “Fatimah al-Zahra (s), the Greatest Lady of the World”, p. 142.

[2] For more information refer to: Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 45, p. 109 & p. 165.

[3] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 25.

[4] Ibid, p. 565.

[5] Apparently, she is Fatimah daughter of Ḥusayn (ʿa) wife of Hassan al-Muthannā [son of Imam al-Ḥassan (ʿa)]; moreover the way she refers to Imam ʿAli (ʿa) in her speech [i.e. كَما قَتَلْتُمْ جَدَّنا بِالْأَمْسِ] also corroborates this fact. The reason why she is referred to as “Fatimah al-Ṣughrā” in historical references is perhaps because Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa) may have had another, elder daughter by the name of Fatimah; however, there are no historical proof to substantiate this view. Another reason why she is called by this name may be the fact that she had resembled her noble ancestor, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (s). This view is partly corroborated by Imam Ḥusayn (ʿa)’s remarks to Hassan al-Muthannā when he came to ask the Imam to marry one of his daughters; the Imam said to him: “I choose Fatimah for you, for she greatly resembles my mother, Fatimah al-Zahra (s).” It can, therefore, be safe to conclude that she was named Fatimah al-Ṣughrā [Fatimah junior] as she was compared to the great Lady of Islam, Fatimah al-Zahra (s). [“ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 565].

[6] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 570.

[7] Ibid, p. 571.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, p. 573.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid, p. 576.

[12] Ibid, p. 571.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid, p. 576.

[16] Ibid, p. 25.

[17] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 45, p. 116.

[18] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 577.

[19] Ibid.

[20] “The Words of the Infallibles (ʿa)”, vol. 2, p. 176.

[21] Ibn Athīr. Al-Kāmil fi al-Tārīkh. Vol. 4, p. 34.

[22] “The Words of the Infallibles (ʿa)”, vol. 2, p. 177.

[23] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 579.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid, p. 565.

[26] Al-Malhūf [Luhūf], p. 203.

[27] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 581.

[28] Surah Al-Kahf, 9.

[29] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 585.

[30] Al-Shaykh al-Mufīd. Al-Irshād., p. 475; Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 45, p. 121.

[31] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 585.

[32] Al-Malhūf [Luhūf], p. 208.

[33] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 587.

[34] Ibid, p. 581.

[35] Ibid.

[36] According to Sayyid ibn Ṭāwūss, he was a devoted Shiʻa and an ascetic man; he was blinded in one eye in the battle of Jamal and was blinded in the other in the battle of Siffīn. He was always in the mosque of Kūfah, performing prayers and worshipping [Malḥūf (Luhūf), p. 203].

[37] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 582.

[38] Ibid.

[39] What is meant here by Sabkhah which translates into English as “salt marsh” is the “Kanāsah” neighborhood in Kūfah.

[40] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 584.

[41] Al-Malhūf [Luhūf], pp. 203-207; Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 45, pp. 119-121.

[42] “ʿĀshūrā: the roots, the motives, the events, and the implications”, p. 585.

[43] Ibid.


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