On the 2nd day of Muharram 61 A.H. Imam Hussain’s caravan reached the barren plain of Karbala. Imam asked, “What is this place called?” Someone said, “Nainawa!” Another said, “Ghazariya!” “Is there any other name?” asked the Imam. An old man said, “This place is called Karbala”
As the ladies got down from the camels, a yellow dust rose in the air. Imam picked up soil from the ground and said: This is the land of (Karb) sorrow and (Bala) calamity. This is the place where our blood will be shed. This is what my grandfather the Prophet of Allah promised me.
Imam Hussain (a.s) called the tribe of Bani asad who lived near Karbala and bought the land of Karbala from them for 60,000 dirhams.
He gave the land back to them and said to the men, “I will soon be killed here. All the members of my family will be killed too. No one will bury us. When we are dead, please come and put some soil over us.”
Then Imam asked them to point out his grave to those who come for ziyarat. Then Imam said “My second request to you all to look after the people who will come to visit our graves after our death. They will be my guests so please look after them and feed them for three days.”
On learning from Hurr that the Imam had arrived in Karbala, Ibn Ziyad sent a letter to Imam Hussain (a.s) saying that Yazeed l.a had ordered him to kill the Imam or make him pledge allegiance. To this rude message, the Imam’s only response was to give no answer.
Imam (a.s) then ordered the tents to be pitched by the river. It was very hot in Karbala and the supply of water was absolutely essential for survival. Hazrat Abbas (a.s), commander of Imam Hussain’s army, with his men, started to pitch the tents by the river.
The commanders of Yazid’s army ordered their men to pull out Imam Hussain’s tents. They stopped Imam Hussain’s tents from being pitched by the river. Hazrat Abbas (a) became very angry. He pulled out his sword and wanted to kill the enemies.
Imam Hussain (a.s) saw what was happening and quickly intervened. Imam said “My brother Abbas! Put your sword back. Abbas, we have not come here to fight. Later on, people will say that we started the battle for water. Let us move away from here. We will pitch our tents elsewhere.”
Hazrat Abbas (a.s) considered his brother Imam Hussain (a.s) to be his master and always obeyed his commands. He put his sword back and ordered his men to pitch their tents away from the river.
On the 4 of Muharram, Umar ibn Saad reached Karbala with 4000 soldiers. Shimr arrived with 10,000. There were foot soldiers, cavalry, archers and lancers. By the 7th day of Muharram, the Yazeedi army blocked access to the river Euphrates to deny water to Imam Hussain’s camp.
The Imam met Umar ibn Saad on the eve of the 8th of Muharram and tried to guide him reminding him who he was, the son of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). But Umar ibn Saad gave excuses. The Imam said to him “Woe unto you. Do you not fear Allah to whom is your return?”
On the 9th of Muharram in the afternoon, Umar ibn Saad ordered his army to attack. They began to move towards the camp of the Imam. Imam delayed them till the morning. So that Imam and his companions can spend whole night in prayer.
Next day was ‘Ashoora’, the 10th day of Muharram 61 A.H when the battle of Karbala took place. Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions were martyred.