Speeches at the Battlefield of Karbala

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Speeches at the Battlefield of Karbala were addressed by Imam Hussain’s followers before entering the battlefield. In these speeches, they addressed the people of Kufa and army of Yazid to warn them about fighting with Imam Hussain. The aim was to give reason and persuade enemies to join the army of Imam Hussain or abandon the battlefield.

Address of al-Hurr[edit | edit source]

According to historical sources, al-Hurr was the first to address the enemy, perhaps hoping that he would be able to persuade the thousand horsemen he commanded to see reason and leave their services under the aggressor and to shift their support to the righteous cause. Al-Hurr along with his son, brother, and servant were some among those who had crossed over from Yazid’s army. Therefore, his address to the forces that he commanded until recently was very significant.

In his speech, al-Hurr praised the Lord and the Prophet and he recited verses from the

Qur’an glorifying the Ahl al-Bayt one of whom Imam Husain was. Al-Hurr recited the verses relating to the Prophet Salih, the killing of whose camel had brought down the wrath of God. He reminded them that the killing of Imam Hussain who was from the very the flesh and blood of the Prophet, for no fault, would be a major sin inviting greater wrath of God both in this world and the hereafter. He reminded them that the pleasures and promises of this world were merely a transitory mirage and that the life to come would be the everlasting one. He then recounted his own experience saying that until the last night he commanded Yazid’s cavalry and that he realized that never had Imam Hussain done anything unjust, illegal or contrary to Islam, while Yazid was an imposter, debauch and hypocrite undermining Islam from within. It was this reason why he left the command of Yazid’s cavalry though knowing that he would be martyred.

The enemy had no answer to al-Hurr’s arguments. Realising that al-Hurr’s speech had caused a stir in the rank and file of the enemy, Shimr, the cruelest and stonehearted of all, advised Umar bin S’ad that they should immediately attack and kill al-Hurr before he could utter another word. Al-Hurr went back to seek Imam Husain’s permission to fight the enemy.

Address of Burayr[edit | edit source]

Burayr took permission to address the enemy. In his address, Burayr told the enemy, “Would you refuse to recollect the tradition in which the messenger of Allah had said that he was leaving, among the people, two inseparable and essential things, namely the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt and that following both is obligatory and that if they forsake anyone of the two, Muslims will be confounded and led astray.” In unison, the enemy forces replied, “We admit that the messenger of Allah had done so.” Burayr said, “Would you deny that in the Qur’an Allah declares

that the Ahl al-Bayt are Immaculate, free from the possibility of committing error?”

The enemy soldiers replied, “We cannot deny what you say as it is the truth.” Burayr said, “Do you admit that al-Husain is one of the Ahl al-Bayt and the Imam of the time and that he is pious and righteous?” The soldiers replied, “We do admit.”

Burayr said, “Has al-Husain committed any transgression of divine laws, killed anyone, deprived anyone of his property or has he committed any act that demands his execution?” The enemy forces admitted that Imam Hussain had not committed any such act. Burayr continued, “Do you not remember that Yazid’s father Mu’awiya prevented water in (the battle of) Siffin and that when Ali gained possession of the river, he acted magnanimously in giving water and he refused to act like Mu’awiya or to prevent water to be given to the thirsty enemy.”

The enemy concurred. Burayr then said, “You know that there are women, children and infants in al-Husain’s camp who are being denied even a drop of water since the past three days. You allow heathens, atheists, Christians and Jews and even animals to drink water from the river, but you refuse to allow even a drop of it, to your Prophet’s grandson and his children.”

The enemy replied, “We are soldiers employed by Yazid to wage war. We obey his orders and there is no room for sympathy in a war.” Burayr cursed their blind following and lack of humanitarian considerations, and came back to Imam’s camp.

Address of Zuhayr b. al-Qayn[edit | edit source]

Then, Zuhayr b. al-Qayn took permission to address the enemy ranks. Zuhayr said, “O you people who have gathered here, have you forgotten that the messenger of Allah had advised you to adore and follow the Ahl al-Bayt of whom al-Husain is the most prominent of those present here? This is the time of your test regarding that advice. You claim to be Muslims. Your action will show how you treat al-Husain now in the context of the Prophet’s advice.”

Shimr shot an arrow towards Zuhayr saying, “O old Man, will you face us in combat or you will waste the breath of your old lungs with unnecessary talk? I am anxious to kill all of you.” Zuhayr replied, “Life among people like you is a disgrace and a burden. Death for al-Husain’s cause is indeed a grace, blessing and everlasting pleasure.”

Address of Ibn Awsaja and Ibn Mudhahir[edit | edit source]

Muslim Ibn Awsaja and Habib Ibn Mudhahir went and addressed the enemy similarly, but Shimr, Ibn S’ad, Harmala and Khouli interfered and disturbed their speech to prevent the soldiers from being impressed with the unassailable arguments put forth before them.

Source[edit | edit source]

  •  The Message, in: Shabbir H. Lakhani (Maisami), Zahra (s. a.) Academy, Vol. 11, no. 6, Muharram 1436.