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Imam al-Husayn's (a) Sermon on Ashura

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The Speech of Imam al-Husayn (a) on the Day of Ashura refers to the Imam’s speech addressed to the troops of Umar b. Sa'd on Muharram 10th, 61 AH/October 13, 680 CE.

In this speech, Imam al-Husayn (a) introduced himself first and then mentioned that the invitation of the Kufans was the reason why he was headed towards Kufa and mentioned some of those who had written him invitation letters and were present among the troops of Umar b. Saʿd. The Imam (a) also emphasized that he would refuse humiliation and would never pledge his allegiance to Yazid b. Muʿawiya.


The speech of Imam al-Husayn (a) on Muharram 10th, 61 AH/ October 13, 680 CE addressed to the army of Umar b. Sa’d (who were sent by Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, the governor of Yazid b. Muʿawiya in Kufa, to counter Imam al-Husayn in Karbala). This speech is reported in Sunni and Shiite sources with some variance.


First, Imam al-Husayn (a) asked the army of Umar b. Saʿd to listen to his speech and not to rush and told them to let him explain why he was headed to Kufa.

The Imam (a) then introduced himself and mentioned his relation to Ali (a), the Prophet (s), Hamza b. Abd al-Muttalib, and Jaʿfar b. Abi Talib. He also reminded them that the Prophet (s) had said about him and his brother that they were “the masters of the youth of Paradise.” The Imam (a) said that if they did not accept his words, they should ask the living Companions of the Prophet (s) such as Jabir b. Abd Allah al-Ansari, Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, Sahl b. Sa'd al-Sa'idi, Zayd b. Arqam, and Anas b. Malik. Then, reminding them again that he was the grandson of the Prophet (s), he asked them whether he had killed or injured any of them or destroyed their properties to deserve persecution.

Afterwards, the Imam (a) addressed Shabath b. Rib'i, Hajjar b. Abjar, Qays b. Ash'ath, and Yazid b. Harith, who had written invitation letters to the Imam (a), and said, “Didn’t you write to me that the fruits have ripened and the gardens have become green, and you will arrive and see a prepared army in your support?”

Then Imam al-Husayn (a) concluded his speech with taking refuge in God from them.


Abu Mikhnaf reports that when Imam al-Husayn (a) asked the army of Ibn Saʿd to listen to him, some of the women and children with him started to cry. The Imam (a) asked Abbas and Ali Akbar to calm them and said, “Let them be silent; by my life, their crying will be a lot [in future].”

Moreover, after the Imam (a) asked the enemy’s army to ask the living Companions of the Prophet (s) about the veracity of his sayings, Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan interrupted the Imam (a) and accused him of lying. In response, Habib b. Muzahir rebuked Shimr and told him, “God has set a seal on your heart.”

It has been said that Shimr interrupted the Imam (a) so as to prevent his speech from influencing the army of Umar b. Saʿd.

After the Imam’s speech, Qays b. Ashʿath asked the Imam (a), “Why don’t you pledge your allegiance to your cousin [i.e., Yazid]?” The Imam (a) responded, “By God, I will not put my hand in your hands with humiliation and I will not escape like slaves.”

Second Speech

Another speech by Imam al-Husayn (a) is reported on the Day of Ashura addressing the army of Umar b. Saʿid. The Imam’s famous words “Your stomachs are filled with the forbidden, and seals have been set on your hearts” is a part of this speech.

See Also