On the day of Tasu’a, the army of Shaam completely besieged Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his companions, and they got prepared to start the battle. Abbas (PBUH) realized their intention from the loud noise, so he went to Imam Hussain (PBUH) and said,” O brother! The army (of Umar Sa’ad) is coming towards you”. Imam Hussain (PBUH) stood up and said,” O brother Abbas! Get on your ride and go meet with them, may I sacrifice my life for you!”
Abbas (PBUH) and twenty cavaliers went to the army of Shaam and asked them,” What is all this uproar and movement about?” They replied,” The Caliph has ordered us to ask you to go under his command and obey him; otherwise we will fight you”. Abbas (PBUH) answered,” So do not rush until I take your message to my brother and return to you”. Then he quickly went to Imam Hussain (PBUH) and conveyed the message. Imam Hussain (PBUH) said,” Go back to them, ask them to give us respite for tonight and leave the battle for tomorrow, so that I would pray, supplicate and worship tonight; Allah (SWT) knows that I love prayer, reciting the Holy Quran, supplication, and asking Allah (SWT) for forgiveness”(1).
As such, Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his companions got this opportunity to spend the entire night in worship, supplication, recitation of the Holy Quran, and prayer in a way that the voice of their supplication and Quran recitation was loud.
On the day of Ashura, the army of Shaam began the battle. First, Umar Sa’ad threw an arrow towards Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his army also threw arrows towards the army of the Imam (PBUH). The arrows fell at the army like drops of rain. There, Imam Hussain (PBUH) turned towards his companions and said,” Get up and be prepared for death, because there is no escape from it. May Allah (SWT) include you in His mercy”. After this order, the companions started fighting; the attacked the army of Umar Sa’ad and fought bravely until all of them got martyred one after another.
In the evening, there was no one left from the companions of the Imam (PBUH). Then, Imam Hussain (PBUH) looked around himself and found all of his seventy two companions martyred with their bodies on the ground. So after bidding farewell to the women and children, he went towards the battlefield. Anyone who went towards him got killed to a level that the Imam (PBUH) killed so many of the brave warriors of the opponent army.
One of the narrators of the incident of Karbala who was among the army of Umar Sa’ad has described this as follows:” I swear to God that I have never seen a man being besieged by a huge army, all his companions and children being killed, his family being surrounded, yet keep up his bravery and assurance like Hussain (PBUH). Although he was bounded with calamities, suffered from severe thirst and had got wounded, he was not agitated; his appearance and actions were filled with dignity; he did not get overwhelmed as he continued fighting. When the brave soldiers would attack him, he would fight back so intensely that they would get dispersed like a flock of sheep when they see a wolf. When the army would get together again and those thirty thousand people would attack him, he would attack the huge army and they would again get dispersed like a flock of locusts. He would attack the heart of the army while reciting “There is no might or power except by Allah (SWT)” (2).
Ibn Shahr Ashub and others have narrated that Imam Hussain (PBUH) killed a great number of the army besides those whom he injured. At this point, Umar ibn Sa’ad realized that no one could confront Imam Hussain (PBUH) individually, and if things went on like that, he would kill the entire army with his sword. Therefore, he called upon his army and said,” Vow on to you! Do you know whom you are fighting? Do you know which brave man you are facing? This is the son of the victorious of all victorious ones, Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH). This is the son of the father who killed the brave men among Arabs. Get together and attack him as a group” (3).
So the army attacked the Imam (PBUH) in group; however, many of them got killed by the strike of Imam Hussain’s (PBUH) sword. Then, being thirsty, Imam Hussain (PBUH) turned towards Euphrates. The army knew that if Imam Hussain (PBUH) drank water, he would gain power. So they made a line in front of the river and blocked the way. Whenever Imam Hussain (PBUH) went towards the river, they attacked him and made him go back. So Imam Hussain (PBUH) had to continue fighting while being thirsty and exhausted.
The army surrounded Imam Hussain (PBUH) from every direction and around 4000 archers started throwing arrows at the Imam (PBUH). The entire army had surrounded the Imam (PBUH) in a way that his way towards his tents was blocked as a group among the army attacked the tents. As soon as Imam Hussain (PBUH) realized this, he screamed,” O followers of Abu Sufyan! If you do not follow the religion and fear the Day of Judgment, (at least) be free men in this world”.
Having heard the saying of the Imam (PBUH), Shimr turned towards him and said,” What are you saying O son of Fatimah?”
Imam (PBUH) replied,” I am saying that I am fighting you and you are fighting me. What is the sin of these women? (At least) As long as I am alive, stop your aggressive men from attacking my tents”.
At this point, Shimr shouted,” O army! Get away from the tents of this man; he is an honorable man. Get prepared to kill him since this is our purpose.” (4)
Once again, the entire army surrounded Imam Hussain (PBUH) based on Umar Sa’ad’s command and started throwing arrows at him. The arrows sat the Imam’s (PBUH) face, neck, and chest to the extent that his chest became like a hedgehog due to abundance of arrows. At this point, Imam Hussain (PBUH) pause for a moment and the army also stopped fighting. Then, again the army attacked the Imam (PBUH), surrounded him, and eventually martyred him while thirsty, oppressed (5).
(The above is a selection taken from “Muntaha al-Aamaal”, by Late Shaykh Abbas Qummi (with some changes))
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all freemen of the world, especially you dear friend, upon Ashura, the anniversary of the martyrdom of master of martyrs and the leader of the freemen, Imam Hussain (PBUH), and his respected companions.
1. Irshaad of Shaykh Mufid, vol. 2, pp. 81-91
2. Tarikh Tabari, vol. 6, p. 259-Maqtal Abi Mikhnaf, p. 194 (Quotation from Abdullah ibn Ammar ibn Yaghooth- Luhoof, p. 199- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 50
3. Manaaqib Ibn Shahr Ashub, vol. 4, p. 110
4. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 51