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  • Date :
  • 1/12/2008

Shaam-e-Gareeban, the night of homeless

Imam Hussein(as)

It was after Asr on the day of Ashura. Imam Hussain (pbuh) lay dead. The earth had trembled! Furaat had broken its banks! From the camp of the family of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) such lamentation arose as had never been heard before!

'Umar son of Saad' received a letter from 'Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad'. The Governor of Kufa instructed that they should not be satisfied with the death of Imam Hussain (pbuh). His body must be subjected to the ultimate insult of being trampled by the hooves of horses. And this was done to the Grandson of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)!

As the sun was setting in the horizon, the soldiers rushed to Imam Hussein’s camp in search of booty. They looted every tent. Every lady and every girl was stripped of her veil. Fatima's daughters were left bareheaded. Sakina's ear-rings were pulled off her ears, splitting her ear lobes. When the little girl pleaded for her veil to be left untouched, she was slapped.

Surely they would stop now? But they did not. They set fire to all the tents. Bibi Zainab (pbuh) was very distressed. She turned to Imam Zainul Abideen (pbuh) and said "You are our Imam now. Tell us what we should do now, should we stay in our tents and burn, or go out without our veils?" Imam Zainul Abideen (pbuh) told her that it was their religious duty to try and save their lives. Bibi Zainab (pbuh) gathered everyone and waited outside, while their tents burnt down. When the fire was out, they took shelter under one of the tents which had not been completely destroyed.

'Humayd son of Muslim' describes how he saw a little girl with her dress on fire, her ears bleeding, running from the scene of carnage. He says: "I ran after her. I took her by hand. Put out the fire in her dress. I wiped the blood off her ears." She looked at me and said, "You seem like a kind person, are you a Muslim?" I told her I was. She thought a while and then said, "Can you please show me the way to Najaf?" I asked, "Why do you want to go to Najaf at this hour and in this state?" She said, "I want to go and complain to my Grandfather 'Ali son of Abu Talib' about how they killed my father." Realizing that she was Hussain's daughter Sakina, I took her back to her aunt Zainab (pbuh).

As the night descended, Bib Zainab gathered all the ladies and children, into one small space in between the gutted tents. Imam Zainul Abideen (pbuh) lay on the ground surrounded by these widows and orphans. There was no fire, no light. Only the moon cast its dull light.


'Umar son of Saad' asked Hurr's widow to take some food and water to the ladies and the children. As she neared to where they were resting, Bibi Zainab (pbuh) recognized her. She stood up, went towards Hurr's widow and offered her condolences for the death of Hurr. This gesture on the part of Zainab (pbuh), who had suffered so much, lost so many, and carrying so much grief in her heart, is a lesson in Islamic ethics which the world should never be allowed to forget. When Bib Zainab (pbuh) saw the bread and water she cried.

Imam Hussein(as)

"Imam Hussain and his brave soldiers had died hungry and thirsty, and now the same people who martyred them were bringing bread and water to their widows and orphans." She looked at the sky and prayed to God to give her courage. Zainab (pbuh) remembered the words of her brother to give water first to Sakina (pbuh). Zainab (pbuh) took the jug of water. She went to Sakina (pbuh) who had fallen into a fretful sleep.

Gently she stroked the girl's disheveled hair. Sakina opened her eyes. Zainab (pbuh) said, "Here is some water, Sakina. Please drink a little. You have been thirsty for so long!" On hearing the word 'water' Sakina cried out hopefully, "Has my uncle Abbas come back?" When she was told that Hurr's widow had brought the water, she got up, went to Hurr's widow, thanked her and then asked Zainab: "Have you all drunk water?" Zainab shook her head as no. Sakina asked, "Why then do you ask me to drink water?" Zainab said, "Because, my dear, you are the youngest." Sakina replied, "No! No! Ali Asgher is the youngest!" Sakina took the jug of water, ran towards where Ali Asgher lay buried, crying "Wa Asghera! Wa Asghera!"

This was how the homeless spent their night in Karbala. They had lost everything. Their men had died. Their children had been martyred. In this desolate desert fourth Imam, the women and the remaining children are huddled where only a few hours before had stood their camp. Abbas, Qasim and Ali Akbar had taken turns to guard the camp. Now Zainab and Kulthoom lay awake to make sure that Imam Zainul Abideen (pbuh) and the children were not attacked.

Suddenly, Bibi Zainab (pbuh) notices that Sakina (pbuh) has disappeared. She is alarmed. She looks around but Hussain's darling daughter is not to be seen. Zainab (pbuh) slowly walks to the battlefield. She comes to where Abbas (pbuh) lay. "Abbas! Abbas! My dear brother, have you seen Sakina?" There is silence! She makes her way to where Hussain's headless body lay. There, hugging her father, she finds Sakina, deep in sleep!

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