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In my previous three parts of this cyclic Article (Part- I, II and III), I had presented some characters named as A to E. Their tragic stories are not imaginary ones, but they all are based on facts. As I had made clear formerly and hence by giving no real names, I have said what I had to. But, here, in this last and final part of my subject above, I’ll not hesitate to write openly and specifically as it is the historical fact and also known to the most of the world and particularly to Shi’ite Muslims – the tragedy of Kerbala (Martyrdom of Imam Hussein A.S. and his companions), always live in their minds and paining to their hearts even after the passing of about 14 centuries.
Volumes and volumes have been written to describe the tragic history of Kerbala; but, here in my Article, I’ll narrate in brief how a pious woman named Janabe Zainab (a.s.), with her nearest ones and the Fourth Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) – the only male member accompanying them was imprisoned by Yazid, the most cruel enemy of Islam and the members of the family of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). It was a time when Janabe Zainab was being greeted and honored as the daughter of Hajarat Imam Ali (a.s.) and the grand daughter of the Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.). After the Martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and all his colleagues, the female relatives and the only son of him – Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) who was sick then were brought as the captives in the Capital of Yazid’s kingdom.
The journey from Kerbala to Damascus was very terrific. The women had no veils over their heads. They were tied in ropes and seated on the bare backs of the camels without saddles. They were denied even water for the children under the burning sun and scorching sands. These were the physical tortures but the mental tortures were beyond words. The caravan was lead surrounded by the slaughtered heads of the loved ones atop the points of spears much paining them, with a group of thirstily wailing children, chained and manacled Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) on top of all hordes of onlookers who were ridiculing at that pathetic sight. In brief to say the atmosphere was hostile and every glance was full of hatred. Edward Gibbon has noted that the tragic scene of the death of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and his companions and also the oppressions made to his female family members and children are such that will awaken the sympathy of even the coldest Readers till the numerous millenniums to come.
Now, let me come to my subject of the prison and lead you to such a horrible place where these unhappy oppressed people were kept as prisoners. It was a dark under ground cell and a few stale morsels of bread and a very little water which was barely enough for every one was being served to them. The renowned historian al-Biruni has stated, “Nobody in the history of the human kind has seen such atrocities.” Thomas Carlyle, Dr. K. Sheldrake, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and many more Non – Muslim personalities of the world have expressed their views on tragedy of Kerbala, the Martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and post Ashura sufferings of women and children in their own words, but here there is no scope to present those in detail due to my limitation in this briefly summarized text.
Again, we return to the dangerous dungeon where we can see a female child named Sakina, the most beloved daughter of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and who used to sleep on the father’s chest every night and missing him the great. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) tried her best to console and stop her from crying and make her go to sleep, but all in vain. Sometimes, she herself became calm thinking that her weeping might upset all the members in the cell and therefore she cried silently and wiped away her tears quickly. As and when she happened to be out of the prison, she stared at the flock of birds flying to their nests at sunset and asked Janabe Zainab (a.s.) whether they all would go home like those birds.
Then, on one dreadful night, the child Sakina went to bed on the cold floor of the prison. For a long time she stared into the darkness! The time for the Morning Prayer came. She was still lying with her eyes wide open. Her mother-Shahr-i-Banu and Aunt-Janabe Zainab (a.s.) called out:”Wake up, Sakina, wake up; it is time for prayers, dear child!” There was only the painful silence! The fourth Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) walked up to where Bibi Sakina (a.s.) lay. He put his hand on her forehead. It was cold! He put his hand near the mouth and the nose. Bibi Sakina (a.s.) had stopped breathing. In between sobs, Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) said:”Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raaji’oon!”(Surely, from the Almighty God we come and to Him shall we return.). All the women in the cell began to cry standing around the dead body of their beloved child.
Bibi Sakina was buried in the same dungeon. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) held the still child as Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (a.s.) dug a grave for his sister in the dungeon. Her clothes were burnt in Kerbala, and due to injuries had intermingled with her flesh. Therefore, she was buried in the same burnt, ripped clothes right there in the Dungeon of Syria (Zindan-e-Shaam). As the grave was being filled up after the burial, the mother let out a scream. All the ladies huddled around her, and the prison walls began to shake with the cry, “Ya Bibi Sakina, Ya Mazloomah (O Sakina! O Oppressed one!)”. Such was the tragic end of Bibi Sakina, the young Hashemite princess. It was she whose father Imam Hussein (a.s.) was brutally killed in Kerbala. It was she whose baby brother Ali Ashgar who had an arrow shot through his neck. It was she whose beloved uncle Hajart Abbas (a.s.) had both his arms cut off.
With a heavy heart, I put an end of my Article here just with the conclusion that any kind of inhuman treatment towards not only the prisoners but all human kind is liable to be condemned if we like to be recognized ourselves as the civilized people.
May God prevent our hands from committing oppressions; May He bestow on people with dignity and peace of mind; May He confer on prisoners throughout the world with repentance, understanding of turning away from sins, freedom and peace; May He bestow upon those who are ruling with justice and kindness; and May He favor those who are ruled with just treatment and good character.*
– Valibhai Musa
Dtd. : 7th January, 2008
*(The content of the prayer at the end is based on a supplication that has been reported from The Twelfth Imam, Al-Qa’im Al-Mahdi (peace be upon him), the renowned descendent of the Ahl al-bayt (a.s.), The Just Leader of Humanity, The Alive but Hidden – The Imam of the Age, according to the faith of the Shi’ite Muslims.)