The tragedies of Imam Hussain (as) are well-documented. But what happened after Karbala?
How the Prophet’s Granddaughters Were Treated After Karbala
The tragedy of Karbala is a dark day in Islamic history. All schools of thought within Islam are privy to the battle as well as schools outside Islam. Many followers of other religions also commemorate the battle. If you are not familiar with the battle, we have many articles that can fill you in.
What’s lesser-known are the events that occurred after the battle. Did everyone bury their dead and go home, or did the sufferings of the progeny of the Prophet continue long after the battle?
Here is a chronological and summarised series of events post-battle taken out of a book titled Nafahsul Mahmoom by Sheikh Abbad Qummi, who pieces together the tragedy of Karbala from multiple sources and has compiled it into a book.
Looting The Belongings of Imam Hussain (as) and His Family
The army of Yazid went on to steal his clothes. Amongst the things they took were his trousers, shirt, turban, sandals and ring. After this, they charged towards the tentS; in here were the granddaughters of the Messenger of God (s).
Paying no regard to this, the army set the tent on fire and looted whatever they could, including the veil Lady Zainab (as) (granddaughter of the Prophet) was wearing, their jewellery and camels.
These events were narrated by people present on the day, such as journalist Hammed bin Muslim.
Trampling of Imam Hussain’s (as) Body With Horses
The historian Tabari and Sheikh Tawoos report that Umar ibn Saad (who was Yazid’s commander on the day) asked for volunteers to gallop their horses on the body of Imam Hussain (as).
Imam Hussain (as) and his martyred companions and family members were then left unburied on the hot desert.
Here is where Imam Hussain’s (as) tragedy ends but begins the tragedy of his sister Zainab (as) and daughter Sakina (as) granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the Prophet, respectively, as well as Imam Sajjad (as) the great-grandson of the Prophet.
The Granddaughters and Other Family Members Are Arrested and Taken To Kufa
Umar ibn Saad rounded up the surviving camp of Hussain, chained them up and sat them on camels to take them to Kufa, Iraq. Tabari notes the army deliberately took them on a route to see them pass by Imam Hussain (as) and all their martyred friends and family members to inflict further mental torture. Sakina was no more than five years old when she saw the highly traumatic scene of her father’s dead body.
When they entered Kufa, the army made sure everyone saw them enter. The family of the Prophet were labelled as captives and paraded publicly. Some of these Kufans, upon realising who these people are, started crying, lamenting and helping as much as they could.
Before they made it to Ubaydullah Ziyad’s palace (the Governor of Kufa), the army also placed the heads of Hussain and the martyrs on spears and lances and paraded them along with the captives.
At the palace, the family were further tortured after seeing Ubaydullah poke the head of Imam Hussain.
From Kufa to Damascus
Eventually, the family headed to Yazid’s headquarters in Damascus, Syria. Yazid wished for it to be a day of celebration. In Bihar al-Anwar, it is reported that the streets were decorated, and people were merry and celebrating. In Kamile Bahai, it is further stated people were playing the drums and wore new dresses.
Once the family of the Prophet reached the gates of Syria, they were made to wait for three days. Eventually, they made it to the palace of Yazid, which was also decorated.
The general population had been misled into thinking these were just some ordinary rebels who were captured. One example is a conversation between Imam Sajjad (as), the son of Imam Hussain (as), with a local Syrian who was celebrating their capture. Once Sajjad explained who they were, this Syrian felt so remorseful and regretful of his actions.
At the palace of Yazid, words were exchanged between the former at Zainab and Sajjad. The contents of these are recorded in history books. In short, the latter elucidated their merits and made it known to everyone who they are (the children of the Prophet). This incident led some people to cry in the palace, which was the common outcome once anyone realised who these captives were.
The Syrian Prison
The family were kept in a Syrian prison. The daughter of Hussain, Sakina, died in this prison. This happened because she woke from a dream asking about the whereabouts of her father. This daughter is about 4-5 years old. Yazid’s henchmen answered this request by bringing Imam Hussain’s (as) head to her. The minute she saw the head, she screamed and died from the shock.
Back to Madinah
After eight days in the Syrian prison, Yazid released them and sent them back to Madina. Upon entering Madina, they met with the remaining family who had not left for Karbala in the first place, went back to their place of dwellings for lamentations.
Life would never be the same. Imam Sajjad (as) cried for 40 years over the death of his father. To the point, he could not get himself to drink water because he’d remember how his father was killed thirsty and denied this same water.