MUHARRAM SERIES – Imam Hussain Encounters Hurr

SHAFAQNA – Imam Husayn encountered Hurr and his companions on the 1st of Muharram, 61 A.H. and provided them water to satiate their thirst.

It was now the time for noon prayers and Hajjaj ibn Masruq Juafi, one of the honourable martyrs of Karbala, called to prayers under the orders of the Imam.

The Imam then came out of his tent and conversed with them. He said, “O people! My excuse before Allah and you Muslims of Kufa is that I did not proceed to Iraq without reason. Your representatives came to me and you wrote in your letters that you had no Imam and asked me to come to you so that Allah might guide you through me. I have come now. If you are prepared to assure me by renewing your promises and covenants I shall come to your city, but if you don’t do so or are worried and disturbed on account of my arrival I am prepared to return to the place from which I have come”.

Hurr and his companions did not, however, give any reply to the Imam.

As directed by the Imam, Hajjaj pronounced iqamah and both the armies offered congregational prayers led by the Imam, and after taking rest they also offered the afternoon prayers in a similar fashion.

After the prayers the Imam spoke to Hurr’s companions once again and said: “O people! If you fear Allah and are pious and recognize the right of the rightful persons Allah will be pleased with you.”

Then he added: “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 Quran”.

Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi replied to the Imam as follow: “I swear by Allah that I am not aware of the letters and the messengers.”

The Imam asked Uqbah ibn 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.”

However, Hurr stressed: “We have not written any letter and we shall not leave you until we take you before Ibn Ziyad”.

To which the Imam said: “This is not possible before death”.

The Imam and Hurr mounted along with their respective companions and adopted a route that led neither to Medina nor to Kufa. 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 honourably. 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.”

Imam Hussain and Hurr accompanied by their respective companions reached a halting place called Bayza. Here also the Imam spoke to the people and made it clearer than before that at that time he was under an obligation to perform a duty. The contents of this speechare as follows:

“Yazid is a tyrannical and oppressive caliph, who considers lawful the things declared by Allah to be unlawful. He breaks Divine covenants, opposes the path of the Prophet and oppresses the people. The Holy Prophet has said that in such circumstances if someone does not restrain such a caliph with his words and conduct from committing evil deeds it is necessary for Allah to send him to the same place to which He sends that oppressive caliph”.

Imam Hussain then spoke of the downward spiral the community found itself stuck in under the command of Yazid and those who preceded him.

“You should know that these people namely the agents of the Caliphate of Bani Umayya follow Satan, carry out his orders and do not forsake his obedience. In the same proportion they have disobeyed Allah and started committing crimes openly and have suspended the Divine punishments.


They have appropriated the property of the Muslims to themselves. Now that they have created these conditions, who can be more responsible to change them and eliminate the causes of the decline of the Muslims in accordance with the orders of the Holy Prophet than myself. I am Hussain ibn Ali, the son of Fatima, and one of those for whose sake the verse of Purification (33:33) and the verse of Mubahila (3:61) were revealed, and I am the disciple of Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful.”

Indeed, who could perform the task performed by Hussain bin Ali? Who could obtain friends like his friends and who could take his place in this movement?

This is of course not to say that there were no great men and women among Imam Hussain’s company, only that his task could only ever be carried by his person, due to the exceptional quality of his person.

Who could compare to Hussain ibn Ali? Who could compare to Hussain but the Prophet of God himself?

stage and even prepared his survivors for its guidance till they were subjected to extreme torture and captivity.

Then Imam Hussain 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 behove 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”.

Note here that while Imam Hussain took it upon himself to liberate his people, he did not claim to hold to a higher station, or demand that special favours be bestowed his kin.

There is great beauty in such pious humility.

He then went on: “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 Hasan 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 a crowd of one thousand – Hurr’s companions.

Of the one thousand souls present that day only one heard the call of his Imam: Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi.

On the morning of Ashura Hurr went to Umar ibn Sad and said to him: “Are you really going to fight with Hussain ibn Ali? Umar replied: “I swear by Allah that I shall fight with him and it will be a tough fight too.”

Hurr then 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.”

Prompted by faith Hurr could not bring himself to draw his sword against the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad. He declared: “By Allah; I have reached a place where the ways to Paradise and Hell part. By Allah, even if I am cut to pieces and burnt a number of times I shall not prefer anything to Paradise”.

Hurr then went on to join Imam Hussain never to leave him. A lot can be said of the worth of a man who chose death so that his faith would not be sullied.

It is for the love of the House that Hurr went where none chose to follow – it is martyrdom he bought himself, and there among the progeny of our prophet he drew his last breath.

As he reached Imam Hussain, Hurr said: “Almighty Allah knows that I was not aware that the matters would take such a turn. I have now come to repent, but I do not know whether my repentance can be accepted”.

The Imam replied: “Of course, Allah will accept your repentance and shall forgive you”. Then the Imam asked his name. He replied: “I am Hurr ibn Yazid”.

The Imam said: “You are a free person as your mother named you Hurr (free). You are free in this world as well as in the Hereafter. You should dismount now.”

Hurr replied: “Will it not be better that I should combat with these horsemen for some time and dismount after attaining the honour of martyrdom?”

To which the Imam said: “May Allah bless you. You may do as you like”.

Hurr returned to the people of Kufa in a last ditch attempt to convince them of the folly of their endeavour.

“O people of Kufa! May you die and may Allah make your mothers mourn. You invited this servant of Allah, and when he accepted your invitation and came to you, you withheld your assistance from him. You, who promised earlier that you would sacrifice your lives for his sake, have encircled him today and have drawn your swords to kill him.

You have besieged him and made it impossible for him to breathe. You are troubling him from every side and do not wish that he should be free, and he and the members of his family should find refuge somewhere. You have made him helpless like a captive. You have deprived him and his women, children and companions of the water of the river Euphrates which is drunk by all Muslims and non-Muslims, and in which the desert birds of Iraq bathe. They are almost exhausted on account of thirst. How badly you have treated the descendants of the Holy Prophet after him! If you do not repent even now, and do not abandon the idea of killing him, Allah will not quench your thirst on the Day of Judgment”.

Sitting at the edge of a precipice, Hurr chose Salvation instead of Perdition. The man who had once blocked the path of Imam Hussain was now standing by his side, determined to die a righteous death in the defence of his Imam, the Commander of the Faithfuls.

“Allah is the Guardian of the believers. He takes them out of darkness into light.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:257)

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna

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