Hazrat Zainab’s speeches had stirred Kufa. The people of Kufa were filled with remorse. There was unrest in the city. In the market place they were whispering: ‘What have we done? How could we invite the Prophet’s grandson and then desert him to be mercilessly butchered at Karbala’? How can we permit the Holy Prophet’s grand daughters be paraded in the streets like slaves? What have we done?’
Ibn Ziyad feared that the people of Kufa might rise against him. He ordered that the prison be strictly guarded. No one was allowed to visit them. Only the most trusted guards were allowed in or around the prison. In the mean time messengers ran between Kufa and Damascus. Although at first Yazid had ordered that the captives be detained at Kufa until he had completed all the arrangements for their entry into Shaam (Damascus), because of the mood in Kufa, Ibn Ziyad was anxious to have the prisoners out of Kufa as soon as possible. It was agreed that they be taken to Shaam.
Once again the prisoners were assembled and a procession left Kufa. But this time the departure was kept secret from the people of Kufa and took place at night.
So began the fourth journey of tears! It was a long and difficult journey.
The journey from Kufa to Shaam was a long one. It took over twenty days. The women and the children were exhausted. Their suffering was great! Quite often the children would faint under the scorching desert heat and fall off the camels.
The mothers would scream. Imam Zain ul ‘Abideen and Bibi Zainab would go looking for the children. When the caravan reached the outskirts of Damascus Omar Sa’ad sent a message to Yazid that they had arrived. Yazid ordered that the caravan remain where it was until the morning. He wanted the people of Damascus to line the streets to look at the captives and witness his victory. In the meantime the streets through which the captives were to be marched were being decorated with flags and pennants.
Bibi Zainab had conquered Kufa. Now Shaam had come and was waiting for her!
The Court of Yazid
When at long last the caravan reached the outskirts of Damascus, a message was received by Umar Sa’ad that the prisoners were not to be brought into the capital until Yazid had completed all the preparations.
Yazid invited all the ambassadors, foreign dignitaries and leading citizens to his court. People were ordered to line up the streets. Musicians were asked to play music and dancers were told to dance in the streets. Such were the festivities organized by the Khalifah for the entry of the grandson and the grand daughters of the Holy Prophet of Islam into what had become the metropolis of the Islamic Empire!!
Surrounded by the dancers, the musicians and the jeering crowds of the citizens of Damascus the prisoners were led toward the palace of Yazid. Never in the history of Islam had prisoners been treated with disrespect, let alone the cruelty meted out to the members of the Holy Prophet’s household. And now, this ultimate insult of being led into the court of Yazid like a herd of cattle!
They entered the palace and were made to stand in front of Yazid. The tyrant was dressed in his best finery. Imam Husayn’s head was formally presented to him by Umar ibn Sa’ad. Yazid, with a cup of wine in one hand, ceremoniously accepted the ultimate symbol of his victory and commanded Umar Sa’ad to call out the names of the prisoners.
And then, in his drunken arrogance, Yazid recited a few couplets which enshrine a diabolical confession, a confession that explains the history of the division in Islam and the motives not only his but of his father and grand father in accepting Islam! He said:
“If my venerable ancestors who fell at Badr fighting Muhammad had witnessed how the supporters of Muhammad’s faith were thrown into confusion with thrusts given with my spears, they would be blessing me today. The Banu Hashim played a trick to win power. There was never any wahi to them nor did they receive any revelation. Today the souls of my ancestors and friends killed by Muhammad at Badr will rest in peace!”
The raison d’etre of the Umayyad dynasty was vengeance against Islam, a sanguine continuation of Uhud where Yazid’d grand-mother had been only partially successful in her determination to have Ali and Hamza killed in retaliation for the deaths of her father and brother at Badr!! Yazid never believed in Islam, and yet the system forced upon the people after the death of the Holy Prophet had resulted in this worst of all the hypocrites becoming the Khalifah of the Holy Prophet and the Ameer-ul-Mu’mineen of the ummah!!
Yazid looked at the prisoners lined up in front of him. He said: “It has pleased Allah to grant us victory! Look how He has caused the death of Husayn and humiliated his family!” He then recited an ayah of the Holy Quraan which means ‘Allah grants honour to whom He pleases and brings disgrace upon whom He pleases.’
There were over seven hundred dignitaries sitting in the Court. They smiled and nodded approvingly. Hazrat Zainab could stand it no more! She was filled with wrath. How dare this unclean man say such things? How dare he with his najis tongue recite from Holy Quraan? How dare he make mockery of the family of the Holy Prophet? In a loud and clear voice Bibi Zainab said: “O Yazid! Do you think that it is Allah who has caused you to commit all these foul deeds?
Do you blame the Rahman and the Rahim for the oppression we have suffered? Do you blame Allah for the death of the beloved grand son of his most beloved Prophet? How dare you make these false accusations against the Almighty? No, Yazid, it was not Allah! It is you, with your insatiable ambition and greed for wealth and power, who are the only cause of the suffering inflicted not only upon the household of the Holy Prophet but on Islam itself!
Do not forget what Allah has said in the Holy Book: Let not the unbelievers take it that the respite We give them would do them any good. We allow them time in order that they might continue to indulge in sin to their hearts’ content. Indeed a humiliating punishment has been kept ready for them.
Yazid was stunned! The people present there could not but be moved by what this courageous lady had to say. This lady, who had seen and experienced great suffering, dared today defy the very man who had inflicted those sufferings.
Yazid ordered the prisoners to be moved to a prison. This was not a prison. It was a dungeon! Only a part of it had any sort of ceiling. The rest was open to the sky. An iron grill surrounded the place so that no one could get in or out.
Hazrat Zainab reports that the place was so cold at nights that no one could have proper sleep. During the day, it got hot like an oven. It is here that our fourth Imam, still under chains, the ladies and the children spent many days of great agony and discomfort.