SCENE 4: KARBALA, NIGHT OF ASHURA

SCENE 4: KARBALA, NIGHT OF ASHURA

 

Click here to listen to the drum sounds at the beginning of Scene 4 (play it twice)

 

(Note: This scene continues from the prior scene with no scene transition)

 

(more drums. footsteps)

 

Imam Husain: Inna lillah, wa inna ilayhi raji'oun. Wal hamdulillahi rabbil 'aalameen --

 

Akbar: Father, why do you keep saying that?

 

Imam Husain: Our time in this world is nearly through. We have marched through this desert the same way that Fate marches towards us, and we have neared our end.

 

Akbar: But weíre on the right side, aren't we?

 

Imam Husain: Of course, my son. Yes, Ali Akbar. By Allah, we are on the right side.

 

Akbar: Then I don't mind dying, as long as we are in the right.

 

Imam Husain: You are a good son, Akbar. I am blessed to have you. May Allah reward you for your self-sacrifice.

 

Click here to listen to the drum sounds

 

(more drums, war trumpet, loud footsteps followed by Ibn Sa'd, Shimr, and their army)

 

Imam Husain: The army of Ibn Sa'd arrives.[1]


(Children look at it with wide eyes. Zaynab hustles them back to the tent)

 

Shimr: Make way for the army of the khalifah! Make way for the army of Yazid! Make way for the forces of Ibn Sa'd!

 

Imam Husain: Ibn Sa'd, the man who will lead this last offensive.

 

Shimr: Tremble, foes, for you are in the presence of the mightiest commander in the world!

 

Akbar: Why do they want to fight us so badly?

 

Imam Husain: They hate us, and they hate everything we stand for. They don't care about Allah. They only care about their own wealth.

 

(Ibn Sa'd emerges. Soldiers bow/acknowledge him in respect)

 

Ibn Sa'd: Surrender, outlaws! Your fate is in our hands! Pronounce your loyalty to the khalifah, and we will spare your lives. Resist the khalifah, and you will be eliminated!

 

Imam Husain: We will not give allegiance to a tyrant. Leave us in peace, and we will go our way. Attack, and we will fight to the death!

 

Ibn Sa'd: Peace will come when you offer your loyalty to Yazid. He is a kind ruler and generous. He will recompense you handsomely for your support. (Looks at Shimr who tosses over some gold coins)

 

(Someone on Husainís side -- Abbas --throws them back[2])

 

Imam Husain: We do not give allegiance to those who have left the way of Allah.

 

Ibn Sa'd: Allah cannot save you now. Look around you. We have thirty thousand men. (Shimr motions and the soldiers stand up super straight) Thirty thousand! You have -- how many? Ha ha ha. (Laughs loudly and slowly) Pray as much as you want, but when morning comes, you will have two choices -- surrender, or die.

 

(He motions to Shimr, and Shimr begins to laugh also)

 

Imam Husain: We are the family of the Prophet, and we will not accept compromise. Yazid is nothing more than a drunken tyrant, and we will never give our loyalty to him. Humiliation is worse than death.

 

Ibn Sa'd: So be it. (To soldiers) Surround them! Put down these rebels if it's the last thing you do! (To Imam Husain) A commander such as yourself could have reached a great rank under us. It is not too late. Our offer still stands. We will give you the night to think about it. Use this time as you like. (To soldiers) Left flank, halt! (appraoches soldiers, begins talking in a low voice. soldiers break formation, settle down)

 

(Imam Husain faces his people, and they gather around him - women are in the back but are listening)

 

Imam Husain: They have come for me and me alone. You have proven your loyalty to me already. You have done enough. If you stay with me, you will be killed. Tomorrow, none of the men will survive -- not myself, not my brother Abbas (Abbas looks down) -- not my nephew Qassim -- (Um Farwah stifles a sob) -- not my son Ali Akbar (Leila gasps) -- not even (averts eyes from Rabab, who is holding a child) -- not even my infant son.

 

Rabab: No! (clutches child to her)

 

Imam Husain: Only one man will live, the one who is too weak to fight.

 

Imam Sajjad: (weakly, lying down) I want to fight for you, father.

 

Imam Husain: Allah has decreed that you lie ill so you carry on our message and continue our way. Allah has determined this, and you have no choice. But the rest of you, go back to your homes and villages. Spend your time with your families. Do not throw away your lives for my sake.

 

Habib: Our Imam, how could we leave you? You've always been there for us. You helped us when we needed you, and you guided us when we were lost. If we abandoned you , how could we live with ourselves?

Imam Husain: You are such a faithful supporter. May Allah bless you. But the rest of you, you do not have to remain. I will put out the light. When darkness falls, you are free. Take the opportunity and flee in the dark. Once the enemy has me, they will not come after you. Bring me the light. (Akbar brings a lit candle or lantern. Puts out candle.) Go, I say. Go. (There is some shuffling, and a couple defectors

(Imam Husain relights the candle)

Imam Husain: One... two... three... (counting) seventy-two. Seventy-two against thirty thousand.

Habib: (enthusiastically) Kam min fi'atin qaleelatin ghalabat fi'atan katheerah (2:249)

Abbas: (repeating)"And how often has a small force vanquished a large force." [3] We would never leave you to be killed while we are still alive.

Imam Husain: (to Muslim's Son) What about you? You just lost your father in Kufa. Your family can't loose anyone else after Muslim ibn Aqeel.

Muslim's Son: You are also our family. So we have lost our father. How could we lose our Imam? How could we answer for ourselves if we abandoned you? By Allah, we will sacrifice our lives, our wealth, and our family for you. We will fight alongside you until we win or until we are martyred.

Muslim ibn Ausaja: I will fight for you, even with my bare hands. (facing army) Kill me seventy times! I will die for you again and meet my Creator as a shaheed.[4]

Imam Husain: You are the most loyal companions I have ever found. May Allah reward you all. To Allah we belong, and to Allah we return. This will be the final night of your lives. Use it in prayer, and preparation. (Harmala on Ibn Sa'd side pops open a wine bottle and takes a swig. He hands it to Shimr. Someone on their camp begins playing a drum, and a few begin dancing) You are fighting for nothing but the way of Allah. In the morning -- (a couple soldiers laugh loudly) -- in the morning, we fight.

(Imam Husain turns to pray. Others follow. One begins reciting the surah "wal adiyat" and a young person begins reciting "inna allaha ma'a alladhina itaqaw walladheena hum muhsinoun". Someone also does takbir. Fade out on both sides. Qur'an as interscene transition)

 

Click here to listen to the sound clip for the end of Scene 4 (du'a)



[1] Historically, Ibn Sa'd's army arrived before the 9th of Muharram, but the timing was changed in the play to facilitate the flow of the story

[2] This is not a recorded story but just a visual technique

[3] It's not in the books. But it's Qur'an and a translation.

[4] These words were ascribed to Sa'id ibn Abdullah Al-Hanafi, but since he is not a character they were given to this character

 

 

(Hurr is camped there with his army)

 

(Imam Husain (as) comes out of sajdah on dirt. Looks as if he has just heard something. )

 

Imam Husain: (raising head and turning it towards Kufa) Wa alaikum assalaam. (Stands) Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji'oun. Walhamdulillahi rabbil 'aalameen.

 

(Children come up to him crying. Roqayyah comes and tugs on Imam Husain's clothes)

 

Roqayyah: Baba, Baba

 

Sukayna: We're thirsty.

 

Zainab: The children haven't had water for two days. They can't take it anymore.

 

Sukayna: Abbas brought us water two days ago. He can go again.

 

Roqayyah: Abbas, water?

 

Abbas: (looking across to river) No. Not now. Not with that army here. Not this time.

 

Imam Husain: It kills me not to be able to help them. Curse that army that's holding us here. (calling across the plain) Hurr, you still deny these children water! You and your men were dying of thirst, six days ago, and we gave you and your men and your horses water from our own supplies. This is the desert. We're next to a river. (points to Euphrates) You have no right to block it!

 

Hurr: I hear you, grandson of the Messenger of Allah. I know we drank your water. I know we prayed behind you. I know it's only been a few days. But I'm under orders. Ibn Ziyad sent me another message yesterday. All I can do is let you stay here. I was supposed to arrest you and take you to Kufa. At least here, you're free. We haven't taken you captive yet.

 

Imam Husain: Don't talk about your orders, Hurr. You are choosing for yourself, and you are choosing the Fire.

 

Hurr: I'm sorry. I really have no choice.

 

Imam Husain: May Allah guide you, for if you continue like this, your suffering in the Hereafter will be much worse than theirs in this desert. (indicates children)

 

(Old Man in traditional dress walks onstage and observes their discourse)

 

Zaynab: No water?

 

Imam Husain: Not yet, my sister. Try to distract them. But, to be honest, even I cannot stand this thirst. (Detaches Roqayyah and returns her to Zaynab and walks to greet the man)

 

Imam Husain: Assalaamu alaikum

 

Old Man: Wa alaikum assalaam, stranger.

 

Imam Husain: Do you live here?

 

Old Man: Yes, but no one else ever comes here. I've never seen so many people here before. (looks at Imam Husain's camp and then at the army)

 

Imam Husain: What do you call this place?

 

Old Man: Some call it Ghadiriyyah.

 

Imam Husain: They do, but certainly they call it something else.

 

Old Man: Some call it Al-Taff.

 

Imam Husain: That too; but surely it has a third name.

 

Old Man: Yes, it has another name, not used much. Some call it Karbala. Land of sorrows and sufferings. I don't know why, except for maybe the heat. The whole desert burns during the daytime, especially these days. They say that the Prophets of old used to come here and shed tears. They say even Prophet Issa (as) came here and wept. Some say Prophet Adam (as) met his end here. Of course, maybe these all are just stories.

 

Imam Husain: They are not stories, brother. We have come to fulfill their prophecies.

 

Old Man: (eyes widening) What times have we come to.

 

Imam Husain: We wish to purchase some of your land.

 

Old Man: Why? Iím just asking - no one has ever wanted it before.

 

Imam Husain: We wish to purchase it, for we will not be leaving it alive, and I do not want to burden you with our resting place.

 

Old Man: That army's after you? Iíd help you fight, but I can't anymore. (Imam Husain gestures to Abbas, and he brings some money) It's yours, of course, if you want it.

 

Imam Husain: (pointing) We will buy from there to there. (Abbas gives Imam Husain the money, who gives it to the man)

 

Old Man: (looking at the money) This is too much. Our land isn't worth anything, really.

 

Imam Husain: We don't need it for long. As soon as we are finished, you can have it back.

 

Old Man: You're buying this desert so you can give it back to me?

 

Imam Husain: Yes.

 

Old Man: For what?

 

Imam Husain: On one condition. Promise us that you will allow us to be buried here (points to the area that he bought), and promise us that you will host anyone who comes to visit our graves.

 

Old Man: For how long?

 

Imam Husain: Three days. Look after them for three days. But do it until the end of time.

 

(drums in the distance; a war trumpet)

 

Old Man: Agreed. If anyone comes here, I will take care of them, insha'allah. (looking over uneasily) The sun is going down. I have to go.

 

Imam Husain: God be with you.

 

Old Man: God be with you too, stranger. (Old Man goes offstage)