After leaving Makkah, Imam Hussain’s caravan was heading towards Kufa. Kufa was the main military headquarter of Yazid’s caliphate. Imam Hussain’s emissary Muslim was already in the city seeking public allegiance for Hussain. Yazid removed the Governor of Kufa and appointed Abdullah Ibne Zayad as the new governor.
Ibne Zayad upon reaching Kufa started mass propaganda against Hussain and started threatening the people of Kufa. By that time more than 0.3 million people had written letters to Imam Hussain seeking his prompt arrival in Kufa so they can pledge allegiance to him against Yazid. following the threats and pressure of the new governor, the people of Kufa started backing out and as Hussain was near the city of Kufa, his emissary Muslim was killed and Hussain had only 6 supporters out of more than 0.3 million reading to pledge allegiance. The people of Kufa betrayed Imam Hussain.
Imam Hussain encountered Hurr, who was the commander of the yazid’s army sent to threaten the Imam Hussain to change his course or kill him in case of refusal, and his companions on the 1st of Muharram, 61 A.H. and provided them water to satiate their thirst.
After the prayers the Imam spoke to the companions of Hurr and said: “We the members of the family of the Holy Prophet are the fittest persons to govern you and to exercise authority over you in material and religious matters as compared with the persons, who are at the helm of affairs these days. They are unreasonable persons and claim to hold a very sacred and delicate office which they do not deserve. They oppress you. Such persons cannot be recognized to be the successors of the Holy Prophet, Imams of the Muslims, defenders of the sacred religion of Islam and the protectors of the Holy Qur’an”.
Hurr bin Yazid Riyahi said in reply to the remarks of the Imam: “I swear by Allah that I am not aware of the letters and the messengers.” The Imam asked Uqbah bin Saman (who was made captive on the day of Ashura but was set free later) to place the letters of the Kufians before Hurr and his men.”
The Imam and Hurr mounted along with their respective companions and adopted a route that led neither to Madina nor to Kufa. Imam Husain was now heading towards Karbala, a land known for its scorching heat, barren desserts and popularly known as the Valley of Death.
In the meantime Hurr said to the Imam by way of sympathy and advice: “I entreat you in the name of Allah not to fight, because if you fight you will be killed”. The Imam got excited and said: “Do you threaten me with death? Will you be comforted by killing me? My reply is the same which the man from Aws tribe gave when he wanted to support the Holy Prophet, but his cousin warned him of being killed and said: “Where are you going? You will be killed”.
That Awsi man replied: “I have selected my path and for a brave man, whose intentions are good, who does not lose the spirit of Islam in the path of jihad and does not care for his life in assisting the good people, keeps aloof from the ignoble persons, and does not accompany the wicked, it is not a matter of shame to die honorably. If I live I will not have to regret and in case I lay down my life in this path I shall not be reproached. The baseness of man lies in the fact that he should live an ignominious and shameful life.”
Then the Imam said: “I am in receipt of your letters through messengers telling me about your allegiance and steadfastness in the path of truth. You have written that whatever the circumstances might be you would not forsake me and would not surrender me to the enemy. Now if you stick to your oath of allegiance and your decision and, as was written by you, do not desist from assisting me you will enjoy good luck, for I am the son of Ali and Fatima and shall remain with you in this sacred jihad.
My wives and children will share the fate of your wives and children. It does not also behoove you to hold the lives of your wives and children dearer than the lives of my family. When I am ready to sacrifice my own life as well as the lives of the members of my family, you, too, should not spare your own lives as well as the lives of the members of your family”.
However, if, in spite of all this, you break your promise and abandon allegiance to me I swear by my life that such an action by people like you will not surprise me, because you have behaved in this very manner towards my father Ali, my brother Hassan and my cousin Muslim bin Aqil. A person who trusts you and becomes proud of your promise is deluded. Nevertheless you should know that if you do so the loss will be yours. You will be deprived of good luck. Whoever breaks his promise is a loser himself and it is possible that Allah may soon make me independent of your assistance”.
The Imam delivered this address before one thousand persons who were the companions of Hurr and all of them heard it, but there was only one person who was impressed by it and showed after a few days that he had properly comprehended the lesson taught by the Imam.
That person was Hurr bin Yazid Riyahi. On the morning of the day of Ashura he went to Umar bin sad and said to him: “Are you really going to fight with Husayn bin Ali? Umar replied: “I swear by Allah that I shall fight with him and it will be a tough fight too”. Hurr said: “Is there any harm if you accept one of the offers made by the Imam?” Umar replied: “If I had possessed authority there would have been no harm and I would have accepted it, but Ibn Ziyad is not prepared to accept anyone of them.” Hurr lead Imam Hussain to Karbala where Imam Hussain was to stay for the next few days surrounded by the army of Hurr and other battalions of Yazid who were marching towards Karbala. The army was coming from all sides and reached a number of 40 thousand soldiers surrounding the caravan of Imam Hussain in the middle of the desert known as the valley of death. Hurr was so impressed by the sermons and ideology of Imam Hussain. His guilt kept him ashamed till he realized he was on the wrong side and joined the caravan of Hussain right a day before his martyrdom fighting for Hussain. To be continued