SCENE 5: KARBALA, 10 MUHARRAM, Dawn

 

Click here to listen to the drum sounds at the beginning of Scene 5 (play them twice)

 

(War drums again)

 

Ali Akbar: (doing the adhaan) Allahu akbar, allahu akbar

 

Imam Husain: Alhamulillah. All praise be to Allah, for Allah has decreed that you will be martyred. Be patient, and prepare for battle. Soon, they will attack.

 

Muslim ibn Awsaja: Let me shoot now while we have the chance.

 

Imam Husain: No. We will not start the battle, even though they marched against us. We will not be in the wrong. (army across the way stands at attention and Ibn Sa'd investigates troops) (pointing to tents) We covered the rear last night with trenches. Our best defense is one line. Over here. Abbas, Muslim, Habib, this way (arranges male companions except Qassim in one battle line and faces army) .

 

(Qassim approaches)

 

Qassim: Uncle, I am ready to fight too.

 

Imam Husain: No Qassim. You are too young. Go back to the tents and guard the women.

 

Qassim: (looks disappointed) Yes, uncle. (leaves)

 

Imam Husain: (Retrieves standard and hands to Abbas) Abbas, my brother, hold this high! As long as they (points to his tents) see it, they will know that we still live.

 

Abbas: I will not let you down.

 

(Imam Husain steps into center position)

 

Imam Husain: O Lord! You are our hope in every adversity, and our trust in every difficulty. To You alone do we complain. Every blessing is from You, and every hope is in You.

 

Ibn Sa'd: (to soldiers) Ready!

 

Imam Husain: [faces Ibn Sa'd] Ya ayyuha an-naas! People! Fear Allah, for this life is short. Do not let the life of this world deceive you, for it will soon desert you, and you will face the consequences of the wrath of Allah. Know that I did not come here to fight for power. I did not come here to fight for status or for wealth. (Looks pointedly at Ibn Sa'd who looks down guiltily) I came here to reform my grandfather's ummah. I came here to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.

 

Shimr: You are the one who is in the wrong, son of Fatimah!

 

Imam Husain: All of you know as well as you know your own sons that your leader Yazid and his followers have taken the religion of Allah into their own hands and are playing with it like a child plays with a toy. Look into their palaces where wine flows faster than water and the hard work of the Muslims feeds their bellies. They have permitted what Allah has prohibited, and prohibited what Allah has permitted, for just as they enjoy living off of you, they suppress the teachings of the Prophet to keep control. Meanwhile, your people are suffering. You all know what happened in Makkah, in Madinah under this rule. The Prophet forbade us to support an unjust ruler, and so I will stand up against your khalifah, whether you support me, or whether I stand alone.

 

Ibn Sa'd: Enough! Prepare to die, transgressors!

 

Imam Husain: People of Kufa! Yes, there are Kufans among you. How much did they buy you for? (some response among soldiers) I came when you called. Eighteen thousand of you wrote to me and said, "We do not have an Imam. Come and guide us, and save us from this calamity." Remind them of what they wrote. (Points to Abbas who pours out a gigantic bag of letters) If you do not want me here, then leave us in peace, and we will go back to where we came from.

 

Ibn Sa'd: The time has passed for that already.

 

Imam Husain: Ibn Sa'd, why do you want to kill us? What crime have we committed? Have we stolen from you, fought you, or killed one of your own? What did we do to warrant this ambush?

 

Ibn Sa'd: We will kill you if you do not do what we want.

 

Imam Husain: Fear Allah. Do you not see that I am the grandson of your Prophet? Yes, the very Prophet that you and your army follow? Do you see any other grandchildren of any Prophet alive today other than myself and my family? Did you not hear my grandfather say, Innal hasan wal husayn sayyiday shababi ahlil jannah, Hasan and Husain are --

 

Ibn Sa'd: (sarcastically) “The chiefs of the youths of Paradise”? We know who you are, and we have made up our minds. You waste your time. Surrender, or die.

 

Imam Husain: Beware the wrath of Allah, for the wrath of Allah will descend upon you if you spill my blood. Turn back before it is too late.

 

Ibn Sa'd: Talk as much as you like, son of 'Ali. You are here to talk, but we are here to fight. (to soldiers) Ready!

 

Hurr: Ibn Sa’d, you aren't really going to kill the son of Fatimah!

 

Ibn Sa'd: Of course we are, Hurr, that's why we're here!

 

Hurr: But you heard what he said. If you let him go, he won't bother you. He wants to be left in peace.

 

Ibn Sa'd: My orders are to kill him, and so I will kill him. And now that I see him, I want to kill him too.

 

Hurr: Dear God.

 

Ibn Sa'd: Straighten up, Hurr. War is war.

 

Hurr: War is war... (walks off, trembling slightly, and looks off into the distance)

 

Harmala: You're gonna attack him, right?[1]

 

(Hurr looks down, shivers, and looks frightened)

 

Harmala: You? Scared?

 

Hurr: I see myself standing between jannah and jahannom. I stand atop a thin bridge, and the slightest misstep will send me plunging into Hell.

 

Harmala: What?


Hurr: By Allah, I will not choose against jannah, even if I am burnt alive! (Turns shield around and rushes off towards Imam Husain's side)

 

Muslim: He’s attacking! (raises bow)[2]

 

Imam Husain: Wait! He’s not armed.

 

Hurr: (puts hands on head like a prisoner) O Allah! I am turning back to You. Forgive me! I have fought against the most beloved of Your Creation and the children of Your Prophet! My Imam! I prayed behind you and drank your water, and in return I denied you water and led you to your death. (falls to ground) How can I repent?

 

Imam Husain: (puts his hand on him - dramatic pause) You are already forgiven, Hurr. Join us.

 

Hurr: Let me die defending you. I have to offer my life in repentance.

 

Imam Husain: Your mother named you well, Hurr, for you are indeed Hurr -- free in this life, and free in the next.

 

Harmala: Defector!

 

Ibn Sad: Silence. I will deal with him myself. (calls across plain) Hurr, what ploy is this?

 

Hurr: Fear Allah, Ibn Sa'd. You are standing before the grandson of Rasul Allah. You are standing before the most beloved to Allah on this earth. I fought him, and he forgave me. Lay down your arms. Let these people go. They do not want to fight.

 

Ibn Sa'd: What nonsense is this? Hurr, you are not the same man you were yesterday!

 

Hurr: No, I am not. I have seen myself standing above a pit of fire, the fire that never dies, the fire that burns your skin and all that comes near it. I have seen myself standing over it, and I have reached towards the next world and chosen the Hereafter. I have seen the naaqat Allah hamstrung, and I have left those people who transgressed. I have chosen Allah and the path of Allah. Join me, and save yourselves. You say you are Muslims; follow your religion.

 

(Soldiers are looking at one another and whispering)

 

Shimr: (To Ibn Sa'd) He's influencing the troops.

 

Ibn Sa'd: Hurr, you're one of my best. Abandon this folly. Don't let this demagogue bewitch you.

 

Hurr: You are the one who is deceived. Repent, and Allah will forgive you.

 

Shimr: (whispering) Take him out now

 

Ibn Sa'd: We can't, he'll kill anyone we send out there

 

Shimr: Then attack him all at once

 

Ibn Sa'd: We are men. We fight man to man.

 

Shimr: Then fight him yourself. I won't. But you have to stop him.

 

Ibn Sa'd: We can fight man to man once he's dead. (raises voice and strings bow) Look here! The time for talking has ended, and the time for valiance has come! On my honor, witness all that I, ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d, am the first to start this battle! (shoots arrow) Attack! (multiple soldiers charge out)

 

Harmala: (shooting arrows) Traitor!



[1] The man who said this was actually al-Muhajir, but I gave these lines to Hurmula to reduce the # of people onstage and to characterize him

[2] This is not an action that was ascribed to him, but it was given him to reduce the number of people onstage.