The Historical Uprising of Medina
It is one of the important revolts which moved the Muslims' feelings and sentiments. It is regarded as important after the tragedy of Karbala`'. It is necessary for us speak briefly about it.
The Causes of the Revolt
As for the causes of this violent revolt, they are as follows:
1. The overwhelming majority of the people of Medina (Yathrib) harbored malice against the Umayyads and opposed their government. The Ansa`r showed enmity toward the Umayyads. It was they who attacked 'Uthma`n and killed him. Then they pledged allegiance to Ima`m 'Ali and supported him. They thought that the Prophet's family was worthy of leading the community.
Abu` Ayyu`b al-Ansa`ri, a great struggler, headed them. He and seventy of the Ansa`r took part in the Battle of Siffin headed by Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. The Umayyads knew that the Ansa`r detested them. Yazid b. Mu'a`wiya sent for Ka'b b. Ju'ayl, a well-known poet, and ordered him to satirize the Ansa`r.
However, Ka'b refused to respond to Yazid, and said to him: "Do you want to return me to polytheism after faith?" I will not satirize the people who supported Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family! Any how, I will lead you to a Christian boy, who belongs to us." He led him to al-Akhtal, who satirized the Ansa`r and 'Abd al-Rahma`n b. Hassa`n through a poem in which he said:
Quraysh have all the noble traits, while ignobility
is under the turbans of the Ansa`r.(Al-'Aqdd al-Farīd, vol. 3, p. 140).
Besides the following families harbored malice against the Umayyads:
A. The Prophet's family, who thought that they were worthier than the Umayyads of the Caliphate.
B. Al-Zubayr's family.
C. Abi Bakr's family.
D. 'Umar's family.
These families harbored malice against the Umayyads, and plotted against them. They spared no effort by day and night to overthrow the Umayyad government.
2. The family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, were liable to murder, sever punishments, and captivity. This moved the people to revolt against the Umayyads. The Ha`shimite ladies wept and lamented for Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, hence they inflamed the feelings and emotions of the people. One of the ladies addressed the Muslims and recited:
What would you say if the Prophet asked you: What have
you, the last of the (religious) communities, done with my
offspring and my family after my departure from them?
They are prisoners and slain and have been stained with
their own blood.
What sort of reward is this for my advice to you, that you
should oppose me by doing evil to my blood relations?
The lamentation for the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, stirred up the people in Medina (Yathrib), and they mutinied against the Umayyad government.
3. Yazid openly practiced dissoluteness, committed offenses and acts of disobedience (to Allah). Hence the good and Allah-fearing thought that it was incumbent on them to revolt against the government of Yazid. 'Abd Allah b. Hanzala, a leader of the revolt, said: "We revolted against Yazid because we were afraid that stones would be thrown at us from the heaven. Yazid married mothers and (their) daughters, drank wine, and left the prayers. By Allah, if there was none of the people with me, I would stand the good test in fighting against him for the sake of Allah!(Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqa`t).
Al-Mundhir b. al-Zubayr, a great leader of the revolt, said: "Yazid has given me one hundred thousand (dina`rs). His benefaction toward me does not prevent me from telling you about him: By Allah, he drinks wine and becomes drunk to the extent that he leaves the prayers!(Al-Tabari, Tarikh, vol. 4, p. 368).
I (the author) think that these are the most important factors which moved the people in Medina to revolt against the government of Yazid.
Dismissing the Governor of Medina
The revolutionists decided to dismiss the governor of Medina (Yathrib) and all the Umayyads. They formed and managed a temporary government. The governor was 'Uthma`n b. Mohammed b. Abi Sufya`n. He was a self-conceited young man. Experiences did not harden him, nor did the days educate him. The people threw stones at him and the Umayyads.(Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqa`t, vol. 5, p. 47).
Marwa`n seeks Refuge in the Ima`m
Marwa`n was very afraid of the revolt, for he was a destructive, corrupt person. He feared that the revolutionists would attack his womenfolk. Hence he went to 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar and asked him to protect them. However, Abd Allah b. 'Umar refused to respond to him. Marwa`n burnt with grief and said:
"May Allah make ugly such an affair!(Abu` al-Farajj al-Asfaha`ni, al-Agha`ni, vol. 1, p. 24).
Then he hurried to Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, who was the source of mercy and clemency.
Marwa`n presented the affair in the presence of the Ima`m, and he, peace be on him, responded to him. The Ima`m added Marwa`n's womenfolk to his womenfolk and took them to Yanbu'. Then 'A'isha, daughter of 'Uthma`n and Marwa`n's wife, went to al-Ta`'if. She passed by Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and he feared for her.
Hence he sent with her his son 'Abd Allah to protect her. 'Abd Allah stayed with 'A'isha until the event was over. The historians said: "The Ima`m, peace be on him, guaranteed four hundred women along with their children, protected them, and added them to his family until Muslim b. 'Aqaba left Medina. One of the women swore by Allah that she had never witnessed rest and ease in her father's house as she witnessed in the house of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.(Ahmed Fahmi, al-Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, p. 64).
Muslim bin 'Aqaba entrusted with War
The people of Medina (Yathrib) broke their pledge of allegiance to Yazid. They decided to overthrow his government, so they dismissed his governor. These news reached Damascus, and Yazid, the tyrannical, was anxious. He feared that the revolt would include the rest of the Islamic countries. Hence he appointed Muslim bin 'Aqaba, the most dangerous criminal and terrorist, to war against the people of Medina (the City of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family).
Al-Fakir said: "Muslim bin 'Aqaba was one of the Arab tyrants. He was an old man when Yazid entrusted the Battle to him."
The author of al-'Aqdd al-Farid has mentioned Muslim's characteristics as follows:
"Muslim bin 'Aqaba was one-eyed, wide-mouthed, and white-haired. He walked as if he drew his legs from mud." Dozey, an orientalist, said: "Muslim bin 'Aqaba did not believe in Allah, nor did he believe in Islam. He was ill. When Yazid entrusted the leadership of the army to him, delight seduced him." Yazid said to him: "If you want, I will release you, for I see that you are ill and exhausted." However Muslim bin 'Aqaba, the wicked one, said to him: "I swear by Allah that you should not deprive me of the wage which Allah has driven (to me)!('Umar Abu` al-Nasr, Mu'a`wiya bin Abi Sufya`n, p. 266).
Then Yazid supplied Muslim bin 'Aqaba with these evil commands: "When you go to Medina and they hinder you, kill them with the sword, leave none of them, plunder their properties therein for three days, put their wounded to death, and kill those who turn their back in flight.(Al-Mas'u`di, al-Tanbīh wa al-Ashra`f, p. 263).
In these commands, Yazid has expressed his wicked inclinations, for he harbored malice against man and was happy with mistreating him.
The Troops advanced toward Medina
The troops of error headed by Muslim bin 'Aqaba, the terrorist, advanced toward Medina to occupy it. They passed by Yazid, who stood on a hill to greet them. The senior officials and the commanders of his army surrounded, and he recited:
Tell Aba` Bakr when the event occurs
and the banners are hoisted in Wa`di al-Qura` (the Valley of
I wonder: Have these people gathered by drunk
or wakeful?(Al-Tanbīh wa al-Ishra`f, p. 263).
The leaders of the opposition said that Yazid drank wine heavily. Hence, in this poetry, he asks them: "Have these troops been dispatched by drunk or wakeful?"
Yazid's troops covered the desert quickly, reached Medina, and besieged it. The people of Medina dug a trench similar that which dug by Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, at the Battle of the Allies. Addressing Yazid, their poet said:
Surly in the trench crowned with glory, there is striking
which has resulted from happiness.
You do not belong to us, nor does your uncle belong to
us, O you who have lost the prayers out of pleasures.
If you slay us, then be a Christian, drink wine, and leave
Friday prayers!(Al-Tanbīh wa al-Ishra`f, p. 263).
Yazid's troops were unable to occupy Medina. However, according to his father's orders, 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n hastened to Muslim b. 'Aqaba and told him about the defects of Medina. Hence Muslim was able to make his troops enter Medina. Then the two armies met each other at a bloody battle.
'Abd Allah b. Hanzala (a Muslim hero), his sons, a chose of the sons of the Muha`jirin and the Ansa`r were martyred at this Battle. Moreover Medina lost eight Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his family), to the extent that there was no Badri (those who took part at the Battle of Badr) in it. It also lost seven hundred people from Quraysh and the Ansa`r, ten thousand people from the rest of the people.(Al-Tabari, Ta`rikh, vol. 7, pp. 5-12).
Tragedies and Atrocities
Muslim b. 'Aqaba, the terrorist, committed all kinds of serious offenses and crimes. He violated the sacredness of Medina (the City of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family). He named it Fitna( Al-Mas'u`di, Muru`jj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 17), while the Messenger called it Tiba. He permitted his army to violate it, and it killed innocent children, old men, women, dishonored them, and forced the rest of the people to pledge allegiance to Yazid as slaves.(Abu` al-Fida`', vol. 1, p. 206).
Al-Sayyid Amir 'Ali al-Hindi described the event and commented on it saying: "This Battle caused evil results to Islam. At it the choice of the people of Medina, from among the heroes and the special Companions of Allah's Apostle ( may Allah bless him and his family), were martyred. In this manner the Umayyads violated Median and defiled it. Such was Medina, which sheltered the Messenger throughout his lifetime, and was the shelter of his Message. Besides its inhabitants, who granted sanctuary to the Messenger and sacrificed their lives for him at the hour of hardship, suffered the severest kind of torture and atrocity of which there is no like in history, except those committed by Constable, the French, and the Lutherans (supporters of George) when they besieged Rome.
"No wonder! Yazid's troops turned the Mosque into stable for their horses. They demolished the Sacred Places and looted their furniture. Hence paganism won a victory over Islam even for a time. This paganism took revenge on Islam this time, as a European historian said. In this manner they treated Islam, which treated them with mercy and clemency when it triumphed over them.
"As for the chose from among the people of Medina: some of them were martyred; some of them fled to the remote countries in order to save their souls. As for the rest of them who remained in Medina, they accepted to be treated as prisoners and slaves of Yazid b. Mu'a`wiya. As for those who refused (to accept this state), they were disgracefully branded on the neck!
(Mu'a`wiya b. Abi Sufya`n, pp. 265-266).
The Ima`m and Muslim b. 'Aqaba
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, felt fear of Muslim b. 'Aqaba, for he saw that the sacredness of Medina was violated, the blood of the Muslims was shed without any right. Hence he, peace be on him, supplicated with this supplication:
"My Lord, how many a favor you have bestowed upon me, but my thanksgiving to You for it is little! How many an affliction through which You have tested me, but me patience toward it is little! So abandon me not! O Possessor of kindness which never cuts off! O Possessor of favors which cannot be counted in number! Bless Mohammed and his Household, and repel his evil from! For I ask You to turn him away from me, and seek refuge in You from his evil!( Al-Qa`ni, Bahjat al-Abra`r).
When this wicked criminal, Muslim b. 'Aqaba, invaded Medina (the City of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family), the Ima`m, peace be on him, hurried to the grave of his grandfather, Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. He sought sanctuary with it. He was captured and brought to Muslim b. 'Aqaba, the tyrannical.
When Muslim saw him, he shook with fear. He stood in honor for him and said to him: "Ask me for your needs." Accordingly, the Ima`m interceded with him for those who were sentenced to death, and he responded to him. When Muslim went away, the Ima`m was asked: "We saw you moving your lips, what did you say?"
The Ima`m replied: [I said:] "O Allah! Lord of the seven heavens and what they shade! (Lord of) the seven earths and what they carry! Lord of the Great Throne! Lord of Mohammed and his pure Household! I seek refuge in You from him, and ask you to turn him away from me! I ask You to give me his good, and spare me of his evil!"
It was said to Muslim b. 'Aqaba: "We heard you cursing this boy and his fathers. Why did you magnify him when he came to you?" "This was not my opinion," answered Muslim, "but he filled my heart with fear.(Al-Mas'u`di, Muru`jj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 18).
The Ima`m did not pledge allegiance to Yazid, neither did 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abba`s. Hence al-Husayn b. Numayr said: "Our nephew shall not pledge allegiance (to anyone) except him to whom 'Ali b. al-Husayn Pledge allegiance, for he is the cousin of the Commander of the faithful (Yazid); otherwise war (will break out) among us. Hence 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah was released from pledging allegiance to Yazid. He boasted of his uncles, who protected him from Muslim b. 'Aqaba, and recited:
My father al-'Abba`s, the children of Qusay, and my uncles
(who are the kings from among the children of Wali'a),
defended me on the day when the phalanxes of Musrif
(Muslim b. 'Aqaba) and the children of al-Laki'a (the
ignoble woman) came.
He wanted to do for me that in which there was no glory,
but the strong hands prevented him from this.(Al-Mubarrad, al-Ka`mil, vol. 1, p. 222. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Ka`mil).
The Heads before Yazid
Muslim b. 'Aqaba, the criminal, ordered the heads of the martyrs from among the children of Medina (Yathrib) to be cut off. They were cut off and sent as gifts to Yazid. When they were placed before him, he became overjoyed and recited:
Had my chiefs at the (Battle of) Badr witnessed the
impatience of the Khazrajj of the stabbing of the spears,
they would feel happiness and say: O Yazid, may (your
hand) not be paralyzed!(Ibn Hisha`m, Sīra, vol. 3, p. 143. Ibn Sala`m, p. 89).
He had recited these lines of poetry when the head of al-Husayn(the plant of sweet basil of Allah's Messenger, Lord of the youths of the heaven(was placed before him. He wanted his fathers, whose heads were cut off by the swords of the Muslims, to be present. He wanted them to see that he took revenge on the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and the Muslims.
This battle was one of the most dangerous disasters in the world of Islam. As for Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, he was very sad to see Yazid's Army destroying Medina (the City of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family), filling its houses with bereavement and mourning.
With this we will end our speech about this Battle, which is better known as the Battle of al-Harrah.