The Day of Tasu'a
In the name of God. Welcome to the program.
Imam Sadeq (AS) said, "Tasu'a is the day on which Hussein and his companions were besieged in Karbala and the troops of Syria gathered against them. Ibn Ziyad and Umar ibn Sa'ad were happy with providing so many forces. On that day they considered Hussein and his companions as weak and were sure that nobody else would come to assist him and the Iraqis wouldn't support him either."
Although the glorious uprising of Imam Hussein (AS) took place on the 10th of Moharram, 61 AH, many events happened prior to this fateful date which were the prelude for it. As the day of Ashura nears the corrupt regime of Yazid leads Imam Hussein towards a historical uprising. One of the important days before Ashura was the day of Tasu'a, the 9th of Moharram. Several events have made this day significant. Firstly, it became certain that there would be a war between the 30,000 strong hordes of Umar ibn Sa'ad and Imam Hussein who had just 72 loyal companions. Secondly, it was evident that the war would occur on the following day, 10th of Moharram.
Although swearing allegiance to Yazid was very disgraceful for Imam Hussein, he didn't like war and carnage. Moreover, the commander of Yazid's forces Umar Sa'ad, being aware of the lofty position of the Prophet's grandson with God and the Prophet, was trying to convince Imam Hussein to pledge allegiance to Yazid. In meeting with Umar Sa'ad, Imam Hussein informed him of the consequences of his job and prevented him of fighting and killing the progeny of the Prophet. However, Umar Sa'ad, enticed by the promise of the rule of Rayy, insisted on Hussein's allegiance to corrupt Yazid. Meanwhile, with the arrival of Shimr ibn Zil Jowshan, a ruthless commander of Yazid's hordes in Karbala, the breakout of war was definite. He had brought 4000 soldiers.
From the 7th day of Moharram water was banned for the camp of Imam Hussein. On the 9th day (Tasu'a) the Imam and his companions were fully besieged and there was no hope of coming of helpers. Shimr had also brought a letter from Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, governor of Kufa, for Umar Sa'ad. The letter insisted that Umar should either take the oath of allegiance from Imam Hussein or fight him. Ibn Ziyad had also threatened Umar that if he hesitated to fulfill the command Shimr would replace him as the commander of the troops.
Thus, fearful of losing the rule of Rayy, Umar Sa'ad announced his decision to fight Imam Hussein.
Moreover, Shimr tried in a vain bid to separate Hazrat Abbas from his brother Imam Hussein. Hazrat Abbas was the son of Imam Ali (AS) whose valour and chivalry had spread not just among Arabs but beyond. To full this diabolical plot, Shimr sent a letter to Hazrat Abbas granting him and his three brothers safety if they left the camp of Hussein. In the letter Shimr had resorted to the familial and tribal bond he had with their mother Lady Um al-Banin. But when Shimr called Hazrat Abbas he didn't even answer him so that Imam Hussein told him to go to Shimr. When Abbas and his brothers were informed of the letter of safety and the call of Shimr for leaving Imam Hussein, they replied strongly, "May God damn you and your safety. How can we have safety while the son of the Prophet's daughter has no safety?!!"
This crushing and brave response foiled Shimr's ploy and he was disappointed of separating Hazrat Abbas from Imam Hussein (AS). Shimr found out that Abbas son of Ali is loyal to Hussein till his last breath.
As the plot of Shimr was thwarted, Umar ibn Sa'ad ordered his troops to get ready for combat. Being informed of the enemy's intention, Imam Hussein (AS) told Hazrat Abbas (AS), "If you can convince them to postpone the war to tomorrow and give us respite tonight so that we supplicate to God and perform prayer for him. God knows that I love prayer and reciting of His Book very much."
Umar Sa'ad at first opposed Imam Hussein's logical and humane request; but some of his commanders convinced him to postpone the war to the following morning.
In the camp of Imam Hussein that night was full of sincerity, spirituality, worship of God and supplication at his court. There was no sign of fearing among the companions of Imam Hussein of the imminent events of the day after. Imam Hussein (AS) once again renounced the oath of allegiance from his companions and asked them to use the cover of night and flee if they want. On these remarks, each of the companions not only rejected any thought of leaving the Imam, but once more they announced their loyalty to him and readiness to sacrifice their life for him.
The 9th day of Moharram (Tasu'a) is a significant day as it is linked with Hazrat Abbas. Many ulema believe that it is because of the position of Hazrat Abbas (AS) that a separate day has been specified for him in the course of the epic of Karbala. It is customary among Muslims to dedicate this day to narrating and glorifying the virtues of Hazrat Abbas. This brave son of Imam Ali (AS) deeply loved Imam Hussein since his childhood. He was brought up by his father beside his brothers Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (peace upon them). Imam Ali (AS) said, "My son Abbas learnt knowledge in childhood and, like a young pigeon which takes water and food from its mother, he acquired teachings from me."
Therefore, Hazrat Abbas was not just a valiant warrior but a pious scholar with lofty moral virtues. That's why Imam Hussein attached great respect to him and considered him as a trustee and his support to the extent that he appointed Abbas (AS) as his standard-bearer.
The day of Ashura was the scene of valour, self-sacrifice and swordsmanship of Abbas son of Imam Ali (AS). He was present everywhere and preserved the tents. He saw his companions courting martyrdom one by one. So, he was waiting impatiently to combat the enemies. His three brothers were martyred in an unequal combat with the ruthless enemies. Nobody was left from the companions of Imam Hussein. Therefore, Hazrat Abbas came to the Imam and asked his permission to fight. According to the narrations, Imam Hussein didn't permit him first as he knew the status and role of his brother for the camp. But when Hazrat Abbas saw the parched lips of the children and their call for water, he asked for the Imam's permission to fetch water for them. Thus, Imam Hussein accepted. This was a very dangerous task as nearly 4000 troops had been stationed on the waterway of Euphrates River not to allow anyone of Imam Hussein's camp to approach it. But the brave lion of Karbala courageously attacked and dispersed the enemy ranks and filled the water-bag.
On the way back to Imam Hussein's camp, Hazrat Abbas was faced with the masses of the enemy troops. Then he started reciting beautiful and lofty poems on bravery, loyalty and love of martyrdom. This champion of Karbala was just thinking of preserving the water-bag. The hordes of Yazid couldn't defeat Abbas so one of them shouted that they should besiege him and attack him all at once. Suddenly one of the enemies severed Hazrat Abbas's right hand. He took the water-bag with his left hand. Then the brave son of Imam Ali recited vociferously, "By God, if you cut my right hand I will keep supporting my religion and the truthful Imam who is the son of the truthful and trustworthy messenger of God."
Then the cowardly enemies cut his left hand. At this moment Hazrat Abbas took the water-bag with his teeth. But the hope of this exemplar of valour and loyalty was undermined when his head was struck with an iron lance causing him to fall from the horse back.
At this moment Imam Hussein, who was witness to the heroic combat of his brother rushed towards him and wept on the state of Abbas, saying, "Now my back is broken and I have little choice."
These phrases show the position of Abbas with Hussein.
The fourth infallible successor of the Prophet, Imam Sajjad (AS) said on his uncle Abul Fazl Abbas, "May God have mercy upon my uncle Abbas. Indeed, he sacrificed himself. He staged a manifest combat till his hands were cut off and he sacrificed life for his brother. In return for this sacrifice, God has granted him two wings – like his uncle Ja'afar Tayyar - with which he flies along angels in paradise. Truly, Abbas has a position with God the Exalted which all martyrs envy and wish to achieve it."