The morning of 10 Muharram arrived and the battlefields were ready. On one side were more than 70 devoted members of Ahl-e-Bait – the people of the house of Muhammad; on the other, stood 5,000 strong, battle-ready soldiers.
As his last effort to establish peace, Hazrat Imam Hussainra addressed the soldiers:
“When I responded to your call and came here, you revolted against me. If you want to help me even now, I want that you should not kill me and leave me alone so that I may go to Mecca or Medina and become absorbed in prayer, and Allah will judge in this very world who was right and who was wrong.” (Akbar Shah Najeebabadi, The History of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 77)
The darkened hearts seemed to dim the light of the sun that day. No word had a single effect on any soldier, except al-Hurr who had seen the error of his ways and begged Hazrat Imam Hussainra for forgiveness and sought his permission to fight from his side. Being granted what was salvation to him, he fought the battle on behalf of Ahl-e-Bait and died a brave death. (I K A Howard, The History of al-Tabari, The Caliphate of Yazid, pp. 127-128)
Not an hour had passed since the first arrow was drawn and the battle was already over; the casualties, including a six-month-old child, were murdered mercilessly by blinded anger. On the orders of Obaidullah bin Ziyad, the head of Hazrat Imam Hussainra was severed and his body trampled over by horses. (Akbar Shah Najeebabadi, The History of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 79)
اِنَّا لِلہِ وَ اِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
With the severed heads of the Ahl-e-Bait and their women and children held captive, the proud army entered Kufa to present their kill to the Governor. This procession was sent to Damascus to be attended in the court of Yazid. In time, the remaining prisoners, consisting of Imam Hussain’sra family, were returned to Medina.
Three years after the massacre, Yazid died in 64 AH (683 AD). He was about forty years old.
No progress was made during his rule to extend Islam; on the contrary, there were serious disasters in North Africa and the unity of Muslims was shredded beyond any hope of repatriation. In his first year, he killed Imam Hussainra, son of Hazrat Alira – grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Rasulullah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. In his second year, he attacked Medina, and in his third year, he charged upon the Ka‘bah. While Mecca was under siege, Yazid died and mercifully, the Holy City was spared. His funeral was led by his son, a fragile 21-year-old young man – Muawiya bin Yazid.
Forced to the throne to follow in the footsteps of his late father, he abdicated. Having assembled the council of the important men of court, he stated that when he first entertained the thought of abdicating himself, he wanted to follow the example of Hazrat Abu Bakrra and nominate a successor as the first Khalifa had done, but he did not find, as Abu Bakrra did, men like Umarra.
Thus, he told them, “I have sought for you six men to consult among themselves like the six appointed by Umar, but I have not found them.” He added, “I am therefore resolved to leave the choice entirely to you.” After the meeting was adjourned, he locked himself in his residence, from where his lifeless body would emerge not too long thereafter. (There are two different viewpoints on Muawiya bin Yazid, also known as Muawiya II. For further reading on his short-lived reign, see al-Tabari, Vol XX, pp. 45-49, and [Brill] Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 7, pp. 268-9.)
The death of Muawiya bin Yazid threatened the end of the Umayyad dynasty. The house of Umayyad, however, survived and reigned for another 67 years, till they were defeated in 750 by Abbasids. (John Joseph Saunders, A History of Medieval Islam, 2002, p. 106)
One of the reasons that lives of prophets are so extraordinary is their knowledge of the future, which sometimes can range thousands of years. The Holy Prophetsa of Islam, summarising the events from the time of his demise to the time when the Messiah of Islam would be raised in a faithless world, foretold the predestined plans of God in these simple yet profound words:
“Prophethood shall remain amongst you for as long as Allah wills. He will then cause it to end. Then a Khilafat will be established on the precepts of prophethood, which will last for as long as Allah wills. He will then cause it to end. Oppressive kingship will follow [which will inflict great pain and misery on its subjects]. Its rule will last for as long as Allah wills. He will then cause it to end. After this, tyrannical monarchy will follow. Their rule will last for as long as Allah wills. Allah will then cause it to end. Khilafat will then be re-established on the precepts of prophethood. Thereafter, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) became silent.” (al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 5378)
The darkness that engulfed humanity on the fateful day of 10 Muharram 680 was to last over a thousand years. The blood of men usurped by the land of Karbala took away the peace from hearts of humans – Khilafat had ended in cold blood. The Umayyad dynasty, which started with Muawiyara in 680, came to an end when it was defeated by the Abbasids in 750. The Abbasids were the longest ruling dynasty for about 500 years when in 1258, Baghdad fell to the Mongols. After the relatively short-lived Mongol rule, Islam found a new life and up until 1700, expanded from Europe to the Far East. However, the second age of Islam was remarkably different than the first. The Arabs played little, if any, part in it and were subjugated under the Ottomans. The culture of the Ottomans and the Mughals was largely Persian; an attribute despised by the Arabs. By the 1700s, the Muslim empire was starting to crumble under the relentless pressure of Western powers. In India, the base of the Mughal Empire, the Muslim identity was lost and Islam was being defeated on all fronts by Christian missionaries. It was during these trying times that God, in His infinite mercy, raised the Messiahas who was to save the world from the destruction it was speeding towards.
The peace and guidance that comes with angels spreading their wings to bring down the word of God returned 1200 years later, allowing enlightenment to return to mankind. The desolate town of Qadian became the recipient of the revelations of God, just as Mecca and Medina were during the life of our beloved master, Muhammad Mustafasa.
This guidance that saved humanity took place in the form of “our Mahdi” (Sunan al-Daraqutni, Book of Eidain), the Messiah of Muhammadsa, our beloved Imam, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas.
Today, we are fortunate that the spiritual leadership founded on the same principles as prophethood is among us and a Khalifa guides us towards all that is good. How blessed are we to have found this guidance and how blessed are we to be the “Aakharina minhum”!