Back Home Next 




Chronology after Karbala




Ø Arriving in Medina Imam Zainul Abideen breaks the shocking news of Karbala

Ø Zainul Abideen goes into seclusion

Ø Zainul Abideen follows a policy of shunning politics

Ø Zainul Abideen deputizes his uncle, Muhammad ibn Al‑Hanafiyah to carry on certain tasks

Ø The revolt against Yazid in Medina

Ø Imam Zainul Abideen gives shelters to his enemies

Ø The revolt in Iraq by Al‑Tawwaboon

Ø The revolt against Benu Umayya in Iraq by Al‑Mukhtar to revenge for the blood of Imam Al‑Husain

Ø Marwan becomes the ruler (Khalifa) by use of force

Ø Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan succeeds his father as Khalifa

Ø The continuing revolt against Benu Umayya in Arabia by Ibn Zubair to take over the Khilaafah

Ø Ruthless rule of Al‑Hajjaj in Iraq

Ø Waleed son of Abdul Malik becomes the ruler


IN MEDINA   go to top of page

     People in Medina had anticipated grave news ever since Imam Al‑Husain had left for Kufa.  The media, being what they were, people had to wait for many anxiety‑ridden months to hear the news first hand.

     Upon reaching Medina, it was with extremely heavy hearts that Imam Zainul Abideen, his aunt Zainab, and others broke the news to the loved ones.  The family was devastated, women cried and Imam Zainul Abideen's uncle fainted once he heard the cruelty and treachery dealt to those family members.  The awful news spread to friends and relatives, and all of Medina went into deep mourning.  They felt incessant guilt and anguish, that Imam Al‑Husain, the representative of Muhammad (pbuh), the highest element of learning, had his flesh torn by the swords, and the horrible dismemberment of his head from the body.  The image left them plagued with profound uneasiness and distress.  They vividly remembered how Al‑Husain had quoted the Hadiths, how he had taught the Holy Quran and its Tafseer, how he had guided the people.  They vividly remembered how the Prophet (pbuh) loved him, and the experience of Mubaahala, and the Hadiths said on his behalf.

     The community was in an uproar too.  The people went into shock, being speechless and feeling deeply guilty, very deeply so.  This simmering feeling grew for some time, then it boiled into an outbreak of repulsion.  The people of Medina were extremely angry and wrathful, that such a thing could ever happen.  Their attitude of accommodation and complacency gave way to guilt and grief which focused their energy on the intense desire to revolt and get rid of Benu Umayya government.



     The events and horror of Karbala and its aftermath continued to haunt Imam Zainul Abideen for the rest of his life.  What made it worse was his awareness of the unique position Imam Al‑Husain held in Islam, the lofty ideals he held, and the favors Allah had bestowed on him.

     Initially Imam Zainul Abideen wanted seclusion, away from the people.  The image of the highest figures in the Islamic world (the head of Imam Al‑Husain) along with others, so debased and treated in such a sordid manner, was such as to be shattering to the mind.  Seclusion was a form of solace, and a time to collect thought.

     Imam Zainul Abideen set up a tent a short distance from Medina.  In seclusion he concentrated on praying, on performing Salats, very frequently, excessively so.  He would see very few people, no more than you could count on your fingers. (Seerah of the twelve Imams, H.M. Al-Hassani, Vol. 2, Imam Zainul Abideen.  Also Al-Sajjad, by Husain Baaqir, Page 40, quoting Al-Kash'shi.)  He would communicate with these people on religious matters and points of social importance, but not beyond that.  Zainul Abideen's aunt, Zainab, not only tended to him, but was the principal means to take his answers to the many questions people asked in religious matters.  Zainab, therefore, was the go‑between.  This state of affairs continued for longer than a year. 

    Imam Zainul Abideen shunned dealings in any politics.  (Seerah of the Imams, Hashim M. Al-Hassani, Vol. 2, Page 146.  Also Al-Sajjad, by Husain Baaqir, Page 65.)  He knew he was very closely watched by undercover agents of Yazid for they suspected and worried that he would start an uprising against their rule.

     Because of that, and to avoid any suspicion, Imam Zainul Abideen preferred not to communicate even with his supporters.  Instead, he asked his uncle, Muhammad Ibn Al‑Hanafiyah to act on his behalf.  This case continued for several years. (Al-Sajjad, by Husain Baaqir, Page 87.)

     But Imam Zainul Abideen wouldn't spend his time idly, for he put the blueprint and design for a plan to:

  1. outsmart his adversaries,

  2. work in an imperceptible manner as not to raise suspicion,

  3. focus on Karbala and its consequences,

  4. gradually begin to educate people into the genuine Islam and build a base of Piety‑minded community,

  5. build a base of scholars to spread the teachings of Islam to the rest of the Ummah,

  6. at the same time undo the inroads of pre‑Islamic practices that Benu Umayya's government was reviving. (The clan of Benu Umayya (hostile to Islam to the last moment when Muhammad (pbuh) entered Mecca) still suffered from a psychological complex.  Their throne was styled in the Hellenic manner (like the Byzantine), their book-keeping was in Aramaic in Syria and Persia in Iraq (until the time of Abdul Malik), they employed the same previous Byzantine and Persian systems to collect taxes and administer the government, brought back the superiority of the Arabs of Syria over the Arabs of Iraq, and the superiority of the Arabs over the non-Arabs, looked down on the Mawaali, encouraged fabrication of the Hadith, lived in luxury at the expense of the common man, regarded themselves as the privileged class, and continued to rule by shear force, putting down any resistance by ruthless means, and many members felt free to drink alcohol.)

  7. preserve the Islamic Directives from subtle distortions by Benu Umayya.


Imam Zainul Abideen's plan and strategy proved extremely successful.  The execution of his plan took the better part of his lifetime.  Imam Zainul Abideen worked:

     a) diligently,

     b) methodically,

     c) imperceptibly, and

     d) with uncanny determination.

     The result was that we all owe him much of our understanding of Islam as we know it now.  We are indebted to him and his courageous and dauntless efforts.


REVOLT IN MEDINA   go to top of page

     The intensity of the emotions, the agony and deep pain felt for Imam Al‑Husain, coupled with the anger at the atrocities Yazid's government did at Karbala (at the hands of Ibn Ziyad's forces) were too much to take.  The guilt feeling grew expoundedly, that the people had languished, had been apathetic in their Islamic works—therefore they had to stand in the face of tyranny.  There was an outcry to rise against Yazid, to topple the government.  After all the government was invalid from Shari'ah viewpoint, the government came through deceit, duplicity, and coercion.  "This is not what Islam came for," everyone thought.  People were aware that the power‑hungry Benu Umayya were using Islam only as a means to their advantage.

     Being the seat of learning, with numerous Sahaaba (Companions) still living, Medina was buzzing with activity.  Now the outcry in Medina was for everyone to withdraw his allegiance to Yazid.  Once done, this was followed by dismissing the appointee of Yazid, the governor of Medina.  This was followed by looking for any of Benu Umayya, probably intending to punish them.  This escalated and within two years a revolt against Yazid was in full force.

     Imam Zainul Abideen was very aware of his delicate position.  And rather than bring suspicion to himself, he wrote Yazid that he had no connection or association with the revolt.  This proved to be an extremely wise move.


MARWAN ON THE RUN   go to top of page

     Marwan was a very active member of Benu Umayya, and was a prominent member of that clan.  Marwan:

  1. was the Secretary of State and source of trouble during the time of Khalifa Uthman,

  2. fought against Imam Ali during Jamal Confrontation,

  3. killed Talha (who was on Marwan's side, also fighting against Ali), and

  4. before Karbala, suggested to the Medina Governor to arrest and kill Imam Al‑Husain.

  Marwan was a source of a great deal of trouble to the Muslim Ummah, particularly to Ahlul Bayt!  Marwan was a foe and an adversary to Imam Zainul Abideen, yet Zainul Abideen was a friend even to his adversaries as we shall see!

     Now that Marwan and other members of Benu Umayya were being chased by the mutinous people of Medina, Marwan wanted to leave Medina to safer place.  His problem was that it was impossible for him to take his family members and those of other Benu Umayya with him.  Marwan wanted to leave them in safety, in Medina, but everyone refused him.  As many as 400 of Benu Umayya's and Marwan's family were at stake, mostly women and children, they needed sustenance, safety, and protection.  In desperation, when Marwan was refused help by all notables, he proceeded to Imam Zainul Abideen.  Zainul Abideen welcomed him wholeheartedly even though Marwan was his foe.

     Zainul Abideen welcomed them as his valued guests, and [all 400] were fed, had the facilities at their disposal, and made to feel at home, for as long as several weeks, probably months until matters of Medina were settled.  Their treatment was so kind and benevolent that some of them said they felt better in Zainul Abideen's quarters that in their own homes! (Rabi' Al-Abraar, Zamakh'shari.)


THE UPRISING OF MEDINA   go to top of page

     The uprising of Medina culminated in a ferocious battle outside the town.  The forces of Yazid were highly trained professional fighters, far superior to the forces of Medina.  The Medina forces were defeated and numerous people fell dead or wounded.

     Having won the battle, Yazid's army played havoc in Medina—mind you this is the Prophet's city, the place of growth of Islam, and the town of learning.  Yazid's fighters were given freedom to do anything they pleased for 3 days.  So:

Property was pilfered,

numerous ordinary citizens killed in cold blood, and

women assaulted!

     It is said that more than 1750 Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) lost their lives, many of them were very knowledgeable and highly learned.  This is beside an estimated 5,000 (even 10,000) ordinary citizens killed! (Taareekh Al-Islam, Vol. 1, Page 36.  Also Taareekh Al-Kamil Vol. 4, Page 49.Also Seerah of the Imams, H.M. Al-Hassani, Vol. 2, Page 133.)  Besides, a number from Abu Talib's and Benu Hashim's family were killed as well as more than 90 highly respected men from Quraish and about 90 from men of the Ansaars.  The killing of the Sahaaba (Companions) of the Prophet (pbuh) was pivotal in depriving the Islamic Ummah of their knowledge.  This number constituted a high percentage of the learned of Medina. (Murooj Al-Dhahab, Al-Mas'oodi.  Also Ibn Qu'taiba.)

     As if this was not enough, Yazid's forces forced the people of Medina to acknowledge to have become as slaves to Yazid otherwise they would be put to the sword.

     Medina was never the same for a long time to come.  The devastation was too massive, the orphaned, the widowed, and the loss of livelihood were very large.



     Because of his previous letter to Yazid dissociating himself from the uprising, and because of the high position he held Islamicly, Imam Zainul Abideen was unharmed.  He was treated well, especially after learning of the great favor he did to Marwan and his family members.


IBN ZUBAIR'S REVOLT   go to top of page

     Ibn Zubair was the grandson of Khalifa Abu Bakr; his mother was Asmaa', the daughter of Abu Bakr, and his father was Zubair, a notable Companion.

     Ibn Zubair was not much of a sympathizer of Ahlul Bayt, he was very much after his own interest.  Ibn Zubair was solely and utterly after the Khilaafah—he coveted the Khilaafah and yearned for it.  He was a power‑hungry man, cruel at times, but well known to the people of Medina, Hijaz and other areas.  He was of the mercurial nature, an opportunistic kind of a man, and very stingy.  People knew that.

     Ibn Zubair was agitating in Medina, but when the revolt failed, he escaped to Mecca and was able to gain the loyalty of the people there, and declared his claim to Khilaafah challenging Yazid.  As a result, Yazid's army (that had just ransacked Medina) went to meet him in battle in Mecca.


YAZID DIES   go to top of page

     Yazid was imposed on the Ummah by his father Mu'awiya, though Islam is against rule-by- inheritance.  Yazid was a very wicked man, a pervert.  He was not fit for anything let alone being Khalifa.  Within 3 years of his rule, Yazid managed the unparalleled atrocities at Karbala, the desecration of Medina and its blood bath, and his army was attacking Ibn Zubair's forces in Mecca at the time of his death.  Yazid's forces had many confrontations with Ibn Zubair's forces, they even threw rocks by catapult at the Ka'ba, and burned the Ka'ba's cover!  It was at this time that the news of Yazid's death reached Medina.  Having heard that Yazid had died, his army left for Damascus.

     Yazid, 30 year old when he became the ruler, died 3 years later.  The devastation he left, and the fracture of the Islamic Ummah was such, that even today we suffer the consequences.


MARWAN THE KHALIFA   go to top of page

     After Yazid's death there came a time when the Khilaafah was for grabs.  The son of Yazid abdicated after 4 months as Khalifa, acknowledging in a Friday Khutba that Khilaafah did not belong to him, to his father (Yazid), or to his grandfather (Mu'awiya).  After abdicating he was poisoned by members of Benu Umayya (his family).

     By shear use of force, aligning with some tribes, Marwan became a Khalifa.  But only 9 months later, Marwan's wife chocked him to death by putting a pillow on his face and sitting on it.

     At this time, Ibn Zubair's rule was all over Arabia, Yemen, and south of Syria.  Also there was a revolt in Iraq against Benu Umayya's rule, to take revenge for Imam Al‑Husain.

     Once Marwan was killed, his son Abdul Malik was proclaimed the ruler or Khalifa.  Abdul Malik was a shrewd but capable administrator, a tough person taken to violence, and believing in harsh firmness.  His domain by this time was only Syria, the rest of the Islamic territories were in the hands of others. (Murooj Al-Dhahab, by Al-Mas'oodi, Vol 3.)


AL‑TAWWABOON, REVOLT IN IRAQ   go to top of page

     Karbala shook the Islamic world severely and deeply.  This was more so in places like Mecca, Medina, and Iraq.  While events were taking place at a fast rate in Medina and Mecca, people in Iraq were feeling extremely guilty.  These people felt they had betrayed Imam Al‑Husain in the ugliest way possible.  The intensity of their guilt feelings escalated to new heights; and they wanted to correct the error.  To correct their error many people wanted to take action.  This gathered steam, and in about 4 years after Karbala the momentum to take action had been such that a large number of people took up arms.  They were called Al‑Tawwaboon, meaning the repenters.

     Vowing to fight unto death, they marched toward a Syrian force headed by Ibn Ziyad (the killer of Imam Al‑Husain) and a ferocious battle took place.  Ibn Ziyad was near defeat when Syrian reinforcements poured in at a steady stream.  Being so outnumbered, the Tawwaboon continued to fight until almost everyone of them was killed (as many as 16,000).


AL‑MUKHTAR, REVOLT IN IRAQ   go to top of page

     Not too long after the Tawwaboon's uprising a leader by the name of Al‑Mukhtar was calling to take revenge for Imam Al‑Husain in Kufa.  Numerous people came to his side.  Al‑Mukhtar had connections with Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah who represented Imam Zainul Abideen.  In the beginning Al‑Mukhtar was successful and in a short time all of Iraq came under his rule.  Well supported by the local people, Al‑Mukhtar was able to take advantage of the disintegration that had taken place in Benu Umayya's power following the death of Yazid.

     About a year or so later Al‑Mukhtar had to face a large force heading toward him, coming from Syria.  The force was sent by Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan the new Khalifa.  Abdul Malik sent a force consisting of 80,000 strong, with the best generals, under the leadership of Ibn Ziyad, the killer of Imam Al‑Husain in Karbala. (Ibn Ziyad was the appointee of Yazid as the governor of Kufa and the one in charge of the atrocities of Karbala.)

     A fierce battle took place with many casualties, especially to the Syrians.  Ibn Ziyad, their leader, and numerous other generals were killed, and after that their army surrendered.


AL‑MUKHTAR'S REVENGE   go to top of page

     Al‑Mukhtar was now reigning all over Iraq and conditions seemed to be in his favor.  He scrutinized Kufa and vicinity hunting for everyone who had fought Imam Al‑Husain and participated against him in Karbala.  Shimr, the killer of Imam Al‑Husain, Omar Ibn Sa'ad, the leader of the forces against Imam Al‑Husain, and numerous others were all arrested.  They were all executed though not in the cruel manner in which they had killed Imam Al‑Husain.  It is said, most, if not all, of those who fought Imam Al‑Husain were killed, only a matter of a few years after the events of Karbala.


THE END OF AL-MUKHTAR   go to top of page

     Some time later there was intrigue behind the back of Al‑Mukhtar.  Through the combination of the forces of Ibn Zubair, under the leadership of his brother, along with some local people who were not sympathetic to Al‑Mukhtar, a revolt against Al‑Mukhtar was staged in which he was killed.  As a result Iraq came under the sovereignty of Ibn Zubair whose rule now extended over all of Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, and the southern part of Syria. Benu Umayya's domain consisted only of Syria proper.


BENU UMAYYA   go to top of page

     With Al‑Mukhtar gone, Abdul Malik, who was on the throne in Syria, had only one foe left, Ibn Zubair.  Ibn Zubair's headquarter was in Mecca, his domain was quite extensive, and he had been claiming the Khilaafah with the majority of people behind him.  Imam Zainul Abideen and Benu Hashim, however, refused to give him allegiance for they knew his character and that he was after his personal ambitions and interests. (Ibn Zubair was not much of a sympathizer of Ahlul Bayt.)  Not only that, but also they knew that from the Shari'ah point of view the Khilaafah belonged to no one but them.

     To subdue Ibn Zubair, Abdul Malik sent a large force under Al‑Hajjaj Al‑Thaqafi's leadership.  A fierce and ferocious battle broke out in Mecca, and again the sacred Ka'ba was hit with large stones by catapult!

     Ibn Zubair's forces were no match, and his forces disintegrated.  It is said because he was so stingy in paying his fighters (not paying them or feeding them enough), they left him rather than risk their lives for such a man!  Ibn Zubair was finally killed with only few loyalists fighting by his side.



     The period during which Marwan became Khalifa, then chocked to death by his wife, and his son Abdul Malik ascending to the throne, witnessed general turbulence and high dissatisfaction of the public.  After Al‑Thaqafi had defeated Ibn Zubair in Mecca, he was dispatched to Iraq which was economically the breadbasket of the Middle East because of the revenue it generated.  Al‑Hajjaj was promised the Governorship of Iraq if he succeeded in subduing the rebellious Iraqis.  With that in mind, Al‑Hajjaj started with a terrifying suppression of the people.  Devastation and liquidation of numerous people and families took place.  Mind you, in many cases this was because people showed dissatisfaction with the situation!  Al‑Hajjaj was a sworn enemy to any sympathizer to Ahlul Bayt, and he killed even Companions of the Prophet because of that!  Such sympathizers were targeted as potential enemies of the State.

     It is said that as many as 250,000 people perished at his hands.  Al‑Hajjaj even put men and women in tiny cells of prison, so tiny they had to stand side by side like a bundle; and in the heat of summer—malnourished, crying and moaning—he ordered to pour hot ashes on their heads, to let them die!

     Because the people could not stand the cruelty, a number of revolts took place in Iraq, which Al‑Hajjaj was able to subdue.  By such use of force, under such tyrannical conditions, the country was subdued after about 6 years.  Al‑Hajjaj was so hated and the conditions were such, that afterwards he had to build a new town (Wasit) to make it the capital of the province.  He had to utilize only loyal Syrian Arabs to form the bulk of his forces.  No Iraqi would be on his side, neither did he trust them.

     The rule of Benu Umayya, as dictatorial as it was, was done by Muslims who paid little heed to the clear Islamic Directives, human rights, dignity, justice, love, humility, and righteousness.  Al‑Hajjaj was the same person whose forces threw large stones at the Ka'ba by catapult!  Who tore apart the propriety of Allah's House, the Ka'ba, a spot where a person is supposed to be safe and secure.  Al‑Hajjaj even suggested to Abdul Malik (and volunteered himself for the task) to kill Imam Zainul Abideen, so that there would be no potential danger to the throne! (Bihaar Al-Anwaar, Vol. 46, Section 19-2.)

     During his governorship, Al‑Hajjaj managed to kill such Sahaaba (Companions) as Ibn Jubair, and Aamir Abu Tufail, and even the aged Qanbar, the servant and devotee of Imam Ali, because each of them refused to curse or condemn Imam Ali!  Abu Tufail was the last of the Sahaaba left.

     Imam Zainul Abideen remained detached from politics, and passed through this horrible stage in Islamic history with agonizing pain.  He noticed and heard much about what was going on.  He continued to deliver the authentic Islamic information, his Du'aas and teachings during this difficult period which lasted for about 20 years.  Finally the tyrant Al‑Hajjaj died of what seems to be an intestinal disease at the age of 54!  He died almost in the same year Zainul Abideen died.


QUESTIONS   go to top of page

  1. Discuss the feelings and conditions in Medina when Al‑Husain's family returned to Medina after the events of Karbala.

  2. Name the person who went into seclusion (after the events of Karbala) and why?

  3. List the rulers Zainul Abideen was contemporary with during his life‑time.

  4. Why did Zainul Abideen's uncle, Muhammad Ibn Al‑Hanafia, act on behalf of Zainul Abideen in many matters at first?

  5. List the 7 points in the plan of Zainul Abideen for future action.

  6. Explain the reasons for Medina to revolt against Yazid.

  7. Describe Marwan's status and why he needed protection for himself and family.

  8. Discuss the aftermath of the revolt of Medina.

  9. Describe Ibn Zubair's uprising.

  10. In what manner did Marwan die?

  11. Who are the Tawwaboon?

  12. Describe the outcome of the Tawwaboon.

  13. Who is Al‑Mukhtar?

  14. How did the forces of Al‑Mukhtar defeat the forces of Benu Umayya?

  15. What did the forces of Al‑Mukhtar do to Ibn Ziyad?

  16. Discuss the revenge Al‑Mukhtar took against the killers of Imam Al‑Husain.

  17. What happened to Shimr and Ibn Sa'ad?

  18. Explain the end of Al‑Mukhtar's rule.

  19. Who was Abdul Malik?

  20. To subdue Ibn Zubair, whom did Abdul Malik send with a large Syrian force?

  21. Mention an important reason for Ibn Zubair's defeat.

  22. Describe Al‑Hajjaj.

  23. What did Al‑Hajjaj do in Iraq?

  24. In the name of consolidating power in the hands of Benu Umayya, Al‑Hajjaj played havoc in Iraq, but in particular against certain loyalists.  Who were they?

  25. What did Al‑Hajjaj do to some Sahaaba and to Qanbar?