On the 3rd of Muharram 61 AH, the arrival of Omar Ibn Sa'ad army to Karbala to fight Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him).

On the 3rd Muharram, Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) arrived from Kufa with 30.000 (or 4000 in some books) soldiers. This cavalry of soldiers had originally been sent by Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad (la) to subdue the people of Daylam in Dastaba. By then, ibn Ziyad (la) had appointed Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) as governor of Raye (present day Bahrain). However, with Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) heading towards Kufa, ibn Ziyad (la) changed ibn Sa’ad (la)'s assignment. His instructions to ibn Sa’ad (la) were "Go to al-Hussayn (peace be upon him). When you complete this, you may return back to your governorate." Omar Ibn Sa’ad (la) replied, "If you can relieve me of this mission, please do so. May Allah have mercy on you." Ubaydullah (la) replied, "Yes, if you leave the position of governor of Raye." Ibn Sa'ad (la) requested a day to think over the matter.

Next day, Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) went to ibn Ziyad (la) and said, "May Allah make you prosperous. You have entrusted me with the governorship of Raye and the mission against al-Hussayn (peace be upon him). People have already been informed of my appointment. If you still consider me suitable, then do this. Otherwise, dispatch an army from the eminent leaders of Kufa. I am not the best candidate to fight on your behalf." Then he proposed some names.

Ibn Ziyad (la) replied, "Do not try to tell me who are the eminent leaders of Kufa. I am not seeking your advice on who I should send. Either you set out against al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) with your soldiers or hand over your governorate." After hearing these words from Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad (la), ibn Sa’ad (la) agreed to march against Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) with 30,000 soldiers. They arrived at Naynawa the next day, 3rd Muharram.

Meeting of Omar Ibn Sa’ad and the Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him)

Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) instructed Azrah ibn Qays to go to Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and ask Imam Al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) why He has come here and what His intentions are. Azrah was one of those who had sent a written invitation to Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and was embarrassed to go to him. Others had also written Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and now faced the same situation, so they refused to go meet Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him)…

Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) called Qurrah ibn Qays Hanzali and said to him, "Shame on you, Qurrah. Go to Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and ask Him what has brought Him here and what He wants." Qurrah began to walk towards the camp of Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him). When Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) saw him approaching, He asked, "Does anyone know him?" Habib ibn Mudhahir replied, "Yes. He is from the Hanzalah tribe of Tamim and the son of our sister. I used to know him as a man of intelligence and would not have imagined him being present on the other side."

Qurrah entered and greeted Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him). Then he conveyed Omar ibn Sa’ad (la)'s message to Imam (peace be upon him). Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) replied, "The people of your town wrote to Me asking Me to come. If they now do not wish for Me to be here, I shall leave them and go." Qurrah returned to Ibn Sa’ad (la) to inform him of what was said. Ibn Sa'ad said, "I hope that Allah will exempt me from having to declare war on Him."

Letter of Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) to ibn Ziyad (la)

Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) wrote a letter to Ibn Ziyad (la). "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

When I reached al-Hussayn (peace be upon him), I sent my messenger to Him and asked Him what was His purpose for coming here and what He wanted. He responded "The people of this town wrote to Me and asked Me to come to their aid. Therefore, I have come to them. Since they are displeased with My presence here and their views differ from what their messengers brought to me, I am prepared to return back."

When this letter was read to ibn Ziyad (la) he said, "Now that we have seized Him in our grasp, He seeks a way out, but now there is no escape."

Response of ibn Ziyad (la) to Omar ibn Sa’ad (la)'s letter

Ibn Ziyad (la) wrote the following the Omar ibn Sa’ad (la): "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I have received your letter and fully understand its meaning. Offer al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and His companions the opportunity to pledge allegiance to Yazid (la) ibn Mua’wiyah (la). If they do, then we will determine our decree. Peace."

Upon reading the letter, ibn Sa’ad said, "I had a feeling that ibn Ziyad (la) will not accept a conciliatory posture."

Few days later another letter came from Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad (la) addressed to Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) "Prevent al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and His companions from reaching the water supply. They should not be allowed to taste a single drop of it - as was done with the righteous, pious, and oppressed caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (la)." As a result, Omar ibn Sa’ad (la) stationed Amr ibn Hajjaj (la) with 500 horsemen along the river to prevent Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and His companions from being able to obtain a single drop of water. This was done three days before the battle against Imam Al-Hussayn (peace be upon him).

After that, Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) said in his sermon: “Indeed, that baseborn son of a baseborn father has left me only two alternatives to choose from: the sword or disgrace. And far from us is disgrace! It is disdainful to God, His Messenger and the faithful that we should yield to anything of that kind, and those born of chaste mothers and high-minded fathers and possessing a lofty sense of honor disdain that submission to vile men should be preferred to honorable death!..”
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