Monday, November 28, 2016

Karbala: A Place of Feeling the Thrill of Horror.


Abu-Sufiyan commanded the Qurayish against the Muslims at the battles of Badr, and Ohud, and- also at the siege of al-Medina. He was at that time one of the Prophet's bitterest enemies; but after his Conversion to Islam, which occurred in AH. 8, and was, it would seem, the result of policy rather than conviction, he became one of Muhammad's most zealous adherents. Abu'l-Feda relates that after his conversion, Abu-Sufiyan demanded three things of the Prophet.

First: That he was to be made Commander-in-Chief of all forces that were to act against the infidels.
2ndly: That the Prophet would appoint as his Secretary Abu-Sufiyan's son, Mu'awiyah.
3rdly: That the Prophet would marry his daughter, Gaza.

The two first petitions Muhammad granted, but refused to comply with the 3rd. He was already married to Umm-Habiba, another of Abu-Sufiyan's daughters.

In the last year of the first Caliph, Abu-Bakr's reign, AH. 13, Mu'awiyah was sent in command of a large force, to the assistance of his half-brother Yezid, at that time Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim army then invading Syria.

After the reduction of that province, which took place six years later, during the reign of 'Omar, the 2nd Caliph, Mu'awiyah was appointed prefect of Syria. In AH. 24, during the reign of Othman, the 3rd Caliph, Mu'awiyah gained many advantages over the imperial forces, took several towns, and reduced the islands of Cyprus, Aradus, and Ancyra, exacting from their inhabitants a yearly tribute which amounted to a considerable sum. After the Assassination of Othman, AH. 35, Mu'awiyah disputed the succession with Ali ibn Abi Talib; and so powerful was the faction in his favor, that, during the reign of 'Ali, the Caliph was in fact divided, Ali reigning over Arabia and the Persian provinces, and Mu'awiyah reigning over Syria and Egypt.

Ali was murdered AH. 40, and his son Hasan, a pious but weak man, was nominated his successor, and was urged to prosecute the war against Mu'awiyah. He therefore led his army towards Syria, but after the first engagement some of his troops mutinied, and he himself nearly lost his life; which so dispirited him, that in spite of his brother Husein's remonstrances, he wrote a letter to Mu'awiyah, offering upon certain terms to resign the Caliphate. Thus did Mu'awiyah become sole Caliph six months after the death of 'Ali, and according to Abu Ja'far at-Tabari, he reigned from the time of Hasan's resignation, 19 years, 3 months, and 5 days.

Mu'awiyah died in the month of Rajab 60 a.c. (April 680). He is said to have been of fair complexion, tall and unwieldy. It is said that he was the first who preached seated to the people, the first who appointed eunuchs for his personal service, and the first with whom his courtiers jested familiarly. Astute, unscrupulous, clear-headed, miserly, but "Lavishly Liberal" when necessary, outwardly observant of all religious duties, but never permitting any human or Divine Ordinances to interfere with the prosecution of his plans or ambitions.

On the whole, Mu'awiyah's rule was prosperous and peaceful at home and successful abroad. It was because of his disciplined life-lead. His daily life, which was curious and interesting. According to Masudi, after the early morning prayers, he received the town-commandant's report. His ministers and privy Councillors then came to him for the transaction of public business.During breakfast he listened to the correspondence from the provinces read to him by one of the secretaries. At midday he issued for the public prayers, and in the Mosque Sean enclosure received the complaints of all who desired to approach him. On his return to the Palace he gave audience to the grandees. When that was over the principal meal of the day was served, which was followed by a short rest. After the afternoon prayers another audience was given to the ministers for the transaction of business. In the evening he dined in state, and afterwards held another reception which closed the day. On the whole Mu'awiyah's rule was prosperous and peaceful at home and successful abroad.

Historians do not agree with regard to his age, which is variously given as from seventy to eighty-five years at the time of his decease. He held rule in Syria, first as Prefect, then as Caliph, for about forty years. He was buried at Damascus, which he made the residence of the Caliphs; and so long as his descendants or the Caliphs of the house of Omayah held the Muslim throne, that city enjoyed this prerogative.

And, before his death, Mu'awiyah, the first from among the Banu Omaya who reigned over the Caliphate, nominated his son Yezid as his successor to the throne under the instigation of Mughira, the governor of Bashra. And his conceived the design of nominating his son as his successor to the throne was as an in direct breach of the covenant that he made with Hassan, but he was successor, supported in his design by the Bastard Ziad [Ziad was an illegitimate son of Abu Sufiyan, the father of Mu'awiyah, and was therefore simply called "ibn Abih," "the Son of his Father," without the mention of any name.] who then ruled as his lieutenant over Iraq and Khorasan.

In the year 51 a.h. Mu'awiyah proceeded to Medina and Mecca to secure the covenant of the people of Hijazuslims — Husain, the son of Ali, Abdullah, the son of Omar (the Caliph), Abdur Rahman, the son of Abu Bakr, and Abdullah, the son of Zubair, refused to take the oath on any condition, and their example gave heart to the Hijazians.

On Mu'awiyah's death, Yezid ascended the throne according to his father's testament. The accession of Yezid gave the death-stroke to the republican principle Yezid I. that "the Commander of the Faithful" should be elected by the plebiscite of the people,—a principle to April 680 which the Arabs were so devoted, and which had led them to ignore the right of the Prophet's family to the spiritual and temporal headship of Islam. Henceforth the rulling sovereign nominated his successor, whose reversion he endeavoured to assure during his lifetime by the oath of fealty of his soldiers and grandees. The celebrated Scholar Hasan of Bashrah, who lived towards the close of the century, declared that "two men threw into confusion the affairs of the Muslims—Amr ibn al-As, when he suggested to Mu'awiyah the lifting of the Qur'ans on the lances, and they were so uplifted, and Mughirah, who advised Mu'awiyah to take the covenant of allegiance for Yezid. Were it not for that, there would have been a Council of Election till the day of resurrection, for those who succeeded Mu'awiyah followed his example in taking the covenant for their sons."

Yezid was both cruel and treacherous; his depraved nature knew no pity or justice. His pleasures were as degrading as his companions were low and vicious. He insulted the ministers of religion by dressing up a monkey as a learned divine and carrying the animal mounted on a beautifully caparisoned Syrian donkey wherever he went. Drunken riotousness prevailed at court, and was naturally imitated in the streets of the capital. Husain, the second son of Ali, had inherited his father's virtues and chivalrous disposition. "The only quality," says Sedillot, "that he lacked was the spirit of intrigue which characterized the descendants of Ommaya." He had served with honour against the Christians in the siege of Constantinople, and combined in his person the right of descent both from the Prophet and Ali. In the terms of peace signed between Mu'awiyah and Hassan, his right to the Caliphate had been expressly reserved. Husain had never deigned to acknowledge the title of the tyrant of Damascus, whose vices he despised, and whose character he regarded with abhorrence, and when the Muslims of Kufa besought his help to release them from the curse of the Ommayade rule, he felt it his duty to respond to the appeal for deliverance. With the exception of Abdullah ibn al-Zubair, who wanted Husain out of his way, and therefore encouraged him in his enterprise, all Husain's friends tried to persuade him not to trust to the Kufan promises. They knew the Iraqian character.

Eager, fierce, and impetuous, the people of Kufa were utterly wanting in perseverance and steadiness. "They knew not their own minds from day to day. One moment ardent as fire for some cause or person, the next they were as cold as ice and as indifferent as the dead." But the assurances that all Iraq was ready to spring to its feet the moment he appeared on the scene, decided him to start for Kufa. He traversed the Desert of Arabia unmolested, accompanied by several of his kinsmen, his two grown-up sons, a few devoted followers, and a timorous retinue of women and children; but as he approached the confines of Iraq he saw no signs of the Kufan army, which had promised to meet him; he was alarmed by the solitary and hostile face of the country, and suspecting treachery, the Ommayade's weapon, he encamped his small band at a place called Karbala near the western bank of the Euphrates. Husain's apprehensions of betrayal proved only too true. He was overtaken by an Ommayade army sent by the brutal and ferocious son of the Bastard. [Obaidullah ibn Ziad, surnamed the Butcher, who was acting as the lieutenant of Yezid.] For days their tents were surrounded; Massacre and as the murderous ruffians dared not come within the reach of Husain's sword, they cut the victims off from the waters of the Euphrates, causing terrible suffering to the small band of martyrs.

In a conference with the chief of the enemy, Husain proposed the option of three honourable conditions: that he should be allowed to return to Medina, or be stationed in a frontier garrison against the Turks, or safely conducted to the presence of Yezid. But the commands of the Ommayade tyrant were stern and inexorable,—that no mercy should be shown to Husain or his party, and that they must be brought as criminals before the "Caliph" to be dealt with according to the Ommayade Sense of Justice.

As a last resource, Husain besought these monsters not to war upon the helpless women and children, but to take his life and end the unequal contest. But they knew no pity. He pressed his friends to consult their safety by timely flight; they unanimously refused to desert or survive their beloved master. One of the enemy's chiefs, struck with horror at the sacrilege of warring against the grandson of the Prophet, deserted with thirty followers "to claim the partnership of Inevitable Death."

Battle of Karbala [Painting]
'In every single combat and close fight the Valour of the Fatimides was invincible. But the enemy's archers picked them off from a safe distance. One by one the defenders fell, until at last there remained but the grandson of the Prophet. Wounded and dying he dragged himself to the riverside for a last drink; they turned him off from there with arrows. Re-entering his tent he took his infant child in his arms; they transfixed him with a dart. And his sons and his nephews were killed in his arms. Able no more to stand up against his pitiless foes, alone and weary, he seated himself at the entrance of his tent. One of the women handed him water to assuage his burning thirst; as he raised it to his lips he was pierced in the mouth with a dart. He lifted his hands to heaven, and uttered a funeral prayer for the living and the dead. Raising himself for one desperate charge, he threw himself among the Ommayades, who fell back on every side. But faint with loss of blood he soon sank to the ground, and then the murderous crew rushed upon the dying hero. They cut off his head, trampled on his body, and with savage ferocity subjected it to every ignominy.

Thus fell one of the noblest spirits of the age, and with him perished all the male members of his family—old and young—with the solitary exception of a sickly child Ali, whom Husain's sister, Zainab, saved from the general massacre.

They carried the head of Husain to the castle of Kufa, and Obaidullah struck it on the mouth with a cane. "Alas!" exclaimed an aged Muslim, "on these lips have I seen the lips of the Apostle of God."

When the young lad Ali was brought before Obaidullah, he thought of murdering him also, to put an end to the progeny of Muhammad; but something in the look of Zainab, her determination to die with her young nephew, struck fear into the tyrant's heart. The women of Husain's family with young Ali were sent to Damascus; the soldiers of their escort carrying on their lances the heads of the martyrs. On their arrival at Damascus, the grand daughters of the Prophet, in their tattered and travel-worn garments, sat themselves down under the walls of Yezid's Palace and wailed as only Arab women can wail. Their sorrowful cry frightened Yezid, and, afraid of some outburst in his capital in favour of the Prophet's family, he hurriedly sent them back to their homes.

The butchery of Karbala caused a thrill of horror throughout Islam. In Medina the feeling was so strong that Yezid sent in haste a special governor to calm the people. At his advice the notables despatched a deputation to Damascus to seek redress for Husain's family. The deputation, however, returned disgusted with Yezid's abominable life and his conduct towards them. Enraged at the unsatisfactory result of their endeavours, the Medinites proclaimed Yezid's deposition and drove his governor from their city.

This news threw Yezid into a fury, and he immediately hurried off a large army, consisting of his Syrian mercenaries and Ommayade partisans, under Muslim, the son of Okba, known in Arabian history as "the accursed murderer."

The Medinites met the A.c. Syrians at a place called Harrah, where a desperate The Battle battle took place. The Muslims were over-matched, and in spite of their heroic valour, were defeated with terrible loss. The flower of the Medinite chivalry and the noblest Companions of the Prophet, both Ansar and Muhajerin, perished in that disastrous fight.

The end.
Not Yet Verified.

Sources:
Syed Ameer Ali, History of the Saracens.

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