The Hajj. Everyone is in Ihram. Some people are circling the Holy Ka’bah,, and some are going between Safa and Marwa.


Muazzin: (offstage) (Recite Surah al-Qasas ayahs 21-22 in Arabic)


Imam Husain: (listening to recitation, indicating reciter with hand) "So he went forth in fear and apprehension and prayed: O Lord! Save me from those who do wrong. And when he turned his face towards the land of Madyan, he said: It may be that my Lord will guide me towards the right way."


(Soldiers come from offstage march towards edge of stage and wait there, looking around. The pilgrims point and look at them uncomfortably)


Companion: My Imam, are they crazy? What are they doing here? This is the hajj!


Imam: I cannot allow them ruin the sancitity of the house of Allah.


Messenger: (comes running up with a big bundle in his arms) More letters, my Imam. All from Kufa.


Companion: Still from Kufa?


Messenger: Yes. They're all asking him to come there, to save them from (looks around and whispers) Yazid.


(Some soldiers break off from army and begin walking around, hands on swords)


Messenger: (holds out bundle) There are thousands of letters, my Imam. Thousands. Listen to this. (opens one) From your followers, the Muslims in the city of Kufah. We have no Imam other than you. Come to us so that God will unite us under the banner of truth. The gardens are green, and the fruits are ripe. Come here. Our army will defend you. Do not wait. The people are expecting you and will follow no one else. Hasten to Kufa. Peace be upon you.


Companion: My Imam, do not go to Kufa. They killed your father Ali there. They betrayed your brother Hassan there. Stay with us in Makkah. No one else can lead us. Look at these pilgrims here. People will come to you from everywhere and support you just like they come the hajj. Do not leave the holy city. By God, if something happens to you, we will all be enslaved.


(Muhammad ibn Hanafiyah comes running on)


Muhammad: Brother! Imam! Don't go! Stay here. Go to Yemen. Go into the mountains. Go anywhere but Kufa. They will betray you there like they did our father.


Imam Husain: My brother, there is something I didn't tell you. That night, in Madinah, when I saw our grandfather, he told me something, something that I didn't tell you. I was begging him to take me with him, away from this world, but he refused. Instead, he commanded me: "Hasten towards Iraq, my grandson, for Allah desires you to achieve martyrdom." This is the decree of Allah, and I have no choice.


Muhammad: To God we belong, and to God we return. But why our family too -- the women, the children? Don't drag them with you. (Points to the women and the children) They don't need to suffer. They don't need to be martyred as well.


Imam Husain: Our grandfather told me that God desires them to be taken captive as well. (walks towards Zaynab. Muhammad follows) Zaynab, my sister. It's time for us to go.


Muhammad: You don't have to go with him. You don't know how dangerous this journey's going to be. Stay here with your husband. He has rights over you.


Zaynab: My mother did not bring me into this world to sit by and watch as my brother is surrounded by enemies, and no one is there to help him. What could I tell her if I left him? Do you know what she said to me before she died? She said: "Zaynab, from now on, you are your brother's mother and his sister." For fifty-four years, we have never been separated. I cannot bear to be separated from him now.


Imam: (holds out his hand) My brother, peace and salaam be upon you. Ou destiny has been made clear, and I will fulfill it. The Kufans have sworn their allegience. I have already sent our cousin Muslim ibn Aqil ahead of us to Kufa. Mark my words, he will begin an uprising there, perhaps this very day. The revolution has begun, and we must follow its path to the end. Stay here, and guard the holy city.


Muhammad: As you say, brother. I will always be here for you.


Imam: (embraces brother) God be with you.


(Imam Husain breaks away from the conversation and moves towrads the Holy Ka'bah and circles it once)


Hajji: (from group of hujjaj) Come forth and offer allegience to the Hujjat Allah upon His creation! Come forth and offer allegience to your Imam!


(Imam travels between Safa and Marwa)


Imam: (quietly, to himself) "Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the signs of Allah. So if someone performing Hajj or Umrah circles them, there is no sin on him. And if someone obeys his impulse to do good, then God is generous with His reward, and He knows all things." (2:158)


(Soldiers approach closer to Imam, swords drawn, but do not cross the Ka'bah. Imam climbs to a high place.)


Imam Husain: Praise be to Allah! (Everyone drops what they are doing and stares at him) There is no might but with Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. We have left the hajj unfinished, and, instead, in this month of Dhul Hijjah, we have completed the umrah. (Removes the top of his ihram and throws it out to the crowd -- make sure there is some clothing underneath which would be acceptable for the hajj) Death is bound to the sons of Adam the same way that a necklace is bound to the neck of a woman. I long to meet my ancestors the same way that Prophet Ya'qub longed to meet his son Yusuf. I will go out, and I will be martyred.


Muhammad: God....


Imam Husain: No one can escape his destiny, and our satisfaction lies in the pleasure of Allah. We will endure His trials and earn His reward. We will unite with the Prophet in what is right. If you will give up your life and fight for the cause of Allah, then come with me, for I am leaving and we will be victorious.


(Gets down and begins walking slowly offstage, followed by the women in his family. The soldiers back off in fear and part the way. At a sign, the other soldiers turn back and retreat. The people look back and forth at each other. A couple tenatively follow, behind the women.)