Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
We do not greet the first night of Moharram – with merry-making, nor celebrate it by holding parties. Our hearts are filled with sadness and grief because we remember those martyrs who were killed in Kerbala.
For the next twelve days and nights, we hold Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s) to mourn the death of Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions.
The word ‘majaalis’ means, seatings where people gather and sit.
In Majaalis of Moharram, we recall the events of the martydom of Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions, and the hardship and suffering of those in his family who survived the tragedy of Kerbala.
The first Majlis-e-Hussain (a.s) was started by his sister, Bibi Zainab(s.a), as soon as they were set free by Yazid. Since then all the Imams and Shi’as have continued the Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s) regularly.
Why do we hold these Majaalis?
To thank Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions for the great sacrifice in Karbala for saving us and Islam. We hold these Majaalis because we love our Imam and feel sad to hear about his hardship and suffering in Karbala, and also to comfort and please Bibi Fatima (s.a) – Imam Hussain (a.s)’s mother.
Bib Fatima (s.a) comes to Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s). Though we cannot see her, she prays for us and our families’ safety. She collects our tears when we cry for Imam Hussain (a.s) and his family. On the Day of Judgement she will return all those tears we have shed for her family. These tears will protect us from the Fire of Hell.
On the 1st of Moharram, Imam Hussain (a.s)’s caravan had reached just outside Karbala. They pitched their tents for the night.
Hussain (a.s) and his sister, Zainab (s.a), were standing talking outside Hussain (a.s) tent.
Together they both sighted the moon of 1st of Moharram.
Tears flowed from Hussain (a.s) eyes.
Zainab (s.a) grew worried and asked her brother:
“My dearest brother Hussain (a.s), why are there tears in your eyes?”
“Zainab! My sister Zainab! Please pray for me that I keep my promise to Allah (S.W.T.). Pray, my sister, that I succeed in completing my mission to save Islam. Zainab! Pray for me that I do not hesitate in giving up my life for Islam.”
Hussain (a.s) was not crying because he was worried about dying. Hussain (a.s) did not ask his sister to pray to Allah (S.W.T.) to save his life. All he was concerned about was saving us and Islam.
Bibi Zainab (s.a) eyes were filled with tears when she heard what Hussain (a.s) asked her to do.
“My beloved sister Zainab! Don’t cry! You will have to perform a greater duty after my death. Be brave and patient!”
Bibi Zainab went to her tent. Ali Akber joined his father, Hussain (a.s).
“My son, Ali Akber! I saw a dream last night. I saw a group of people heading for a place where death was waiting for them. I saw them all killed, one-by-one.”
“Father! I know these people. Those people are us. But, tell me father, are we on the right path?”
“Yes, my son Akber, yes We are on the right path.”
“Then let us not worry? Father, if we are on the right path, then let us die happily. We should continue our journey and greet our death with a smile.”
“I am proud of you, my son Akber!”
(ARRIVAL IN KARBALA )
On the 2nd day of Moharram, Hussain(a.s)’s caravan reached Karbala. Thousands of Yazid’s soldiers were already there, having arrived long before the Imam.
The small tribe living in Karbala gathered around Hussain(a.s)’s caravan. Imam Hussain(a.s) enquired about the price of the land in Karbala. He then bought the entire land.
Then, he first spoke to the menfolk of the tribe.
“O, menfolk of Karbala! We have not come here to fight. Yazid’s soldiers will fight with us and we will be killed. They will not bury our bodies and our bodies will be left to the wild animals of the desert. I request a favour from you. Please, bury our bodies.
Imam Hussain(a.s) then turned to the womenfolk of the tribe.
“Ladies of Karbala! Your menfolk, out of fear of Yazid’s soldiers might not bury our bodies. Ladies! When your men are working in the fields, please come out of your houses and bury our bodies.
Somehow Imam Hussain(a.s) did not feel the men nor the women would carry out his request.
Sadly, he turned to the children who had gathered and spoke gently to them.
Children! If your father or your mother are unable to bury us, I beg you to throw a fistful of sand over our bodies while you are playing in the fields. That way, children, our bodies will slowly get buried.”
Then, he turned to everyone who had gathered around and spoke again.
“My second request to you all is to look after the people who will come to visit our graves after our death. They will be my guests so please look after them and feed them for three days.”
Imam then ordered the tents to be pitched by the river. It was very hot in Karbala and the supply of water was absolutely essential for survival.
Abbas(a.s), commander of Hussain(a.s)’s army, with his men, started to pitch the tents by the river. The commanders of Yazid’s army ordered their men to pull out Hussain(a.s)’s tents. They stopped Hussain(a.s)’s tents from being pitched by the river.
Abbas(a.s) became very angry. He pulled out his sword and wanted to kill the enemies.
Abbas(a.s), the lion son of Ali(AS), was like his father. He was very brave and strong. The enemies feared him. If he wanted the tents to be pitched by the river, then Yazid’s men even though in thousands, would not be able to stop him.
Hussain(a.s) saw what was happening and quickly intervened. He knew his brother’s temper and strength.
“Abbas(AS), My brother Abbas(AS), Put your sword back. Abbas(AS), we have not come here to fight. Later on, people will say that we started the battle for water. Abbas(AS)! My brother Abbas(AS)! Calm down and put your sword back! Let us move away from here. We will pitch our tents elsewhere.”
Abbas (AS)considered his brother to be his master and always obeyed his commands. He(AS) put his sword back and ordered his men to pitch their tents away from the river.
This was the 2nd of Moharram. As nights and days passed by, the scene in Karbala changed.
Day by day Yazid’s army increased in number. Nearly 20,000 of Yazid’s soldiers surrounded Hussain(a.s)’s tents.
Why so many to fight no more than 72 men in Hussain(a.s)’s army?
Despite having so many men in Yazid’s army, his commanders were still worried because the 72 men in Hussain(a.s)’s army were no ordinary men. They were brave, faithful and did not fear death.
Yazid’s soldiers knew this and therefore thought of a way to weaken Hussain(a.s)’s army.
On 7th Moharram, Yazid’s commanders ordered their men to stop water from reaching Hussain(a.s)’s tents.
There were many ladies and children with Hussain(a.s) and they suffered a lot without water and food.
For three days, one could hear children crying for water.
“AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH! WATER! WATER! WATER! THIRST! THIRST! THIRST!”
Abbas (AS)could hear this. He could hear his beloved Sakina (SA)crying for water. Abbas(AS) loved Sakina (SA)dearly and always got her anything she wanted.
Everytime Abbas(AS) heard Sakina(SA) crying for water, he shook with grief.
Abbas(AS)! Poor Abbas(AS), could not bear to hear Sakina(SA) crying.
“AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH!” echoed through the land of Karbala for three days and nights. Many little children died from thirst and hunger.