The HARRA Incident: When “Muslims” attacked he Ka`ba - Article


" الکعبةواقعة الحرة: عندما هاجم "مسلمون" الکعبة






Yasin T. Al-Jibouri


 The text below is originally published on pp. 170 – 179 of my book titled Kerbala and Beyond: An Epic of Immortal Heroism which was published by AuthorHouse of Bloomington, Indiana, and released to the public on August 26, 2011. It is slightly edited from the original, and the editing includes the removal of accented characters, Arabic salutations, etc. You are at liberty to quote this text, reprint it, circulate it, use it in your thesis, dissertation, term paper, post it on your web site or use it in any other way you see fit, and when you do, rest assured that the Almighty will be pleased with you and will reward you in the life of this world and in the Hereafter. This text contains two photos of the site of Harrat Waqim near Medina which I obtained for you from the Internet. May Allah enable all of us to achieve such a great blessing beyond which there is no other blessing at all, Allahomma Aameen.




This incident started on a Wednesday, Thul-Hijja 28, 63 A.H./August 31, 683 A.D. and was led by Abdullah ibn az-Zubair, a cousin of the Prophet of Islam (P). Let us stop here to introduce the reader to this man although he is too well known to any average student of Islamic history.


His full name is Abdullah ibn az-Zubair ibn al-Awwam. His mother was Asma’, the oldest daughter of caliph Abu Bakr and older sister of Aisha, the youngest wife of Prophet Muhammed (P). He was born in 1 A.H. and died in73 A.H. (622 - 692 A.D.) and participated in the Muslim invasions of Persia, Egypt and North Africa and sided with his maternal aunt, Aisha, during the Battle of the Camel against Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as). He lived most of his life in Medina and rebelled against the government of Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah and against Umayyad rulers of Hijaz, declaring himself caliph. He extended his influence to Iraq after the Battle of Marj Rahit till al-Hajjaj ibn Yousuf al-Thaqafi[1] succeeded in putting an end to his reign, executing him in the most ruthless way by nailing him to the Ka'ba..


Abdullah ibn az-Zubair delivered a sermon once wherein he strongly condemned those responsible for killing Imam al-Hussain (as), his family and friends, describing Yazid as a shameless drunkard, a man who preferred to listen to songs rather than to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, who preferred wine drinking over fasting and the company of his hunting party to any majlis where the Qur’an is explained. Amr ibn Sa'd ibn al-`Aas was then governor of Mecca, and he was quite ruthless in dealing with Abdullah ibn az-Zubair, keeping him under constant surveillance, sending spies to his meeting places and constantly harassing him. When Yazid heard about Ibn az-Zubair’s denunciations, he pledged to have him chained, so he dispatched some of his men with a silver chain, ordering them to tie Ibn az-Zubair with it. His deputies passed by Medina on their way to Mecca and met with Marwan ibn al-Hakam who joined them in their effort to arrest Ibn az-Zubair, but the party failed in carrying out its mission, and more and more people pledged to assist Ibn az-Zubair against Yazid.


Having come to know of such failure, Yazid called to his presence ten men from among the most prominent supporters of his bloody regime, and there are always those who support bloody regimes in every time and clime. He ordered these ten men to meet with Ibn az-Zubair to dissuade him from rebelling. But they, too, failed in their attempt due to the public support Ibn az-Zubair was enjoying. Yazid now resorted to deposing Mecca’s governor Amr ibn Sa`d and appointing al-Walid ibn Utbah in his place, prompting Ibn az-Zubair to write Yazid to describe his newly appointed governor as an idiot who never listened to advice nor enjoyed any wisdom. Yazid deposed al-Walid ibn Utbah and replaced him with Othman ibn Muhammed ibn Abu Sufyan, a young man who knew absolutely nothing about politics or diplomacy.


The first action the new governor undertook was dispatching a fact finding committee to Damascus to ascertain all the rumors about Yazid being a corrupt bastard, a man unfit to rule. Among the members of the mission were: Abdullah ibn Hanzalah al-Ansari[2], Abdullah ibn Abu Amr al-Makhzumi, al-Munthir ibn az-Zubair, and a good number of the most prominent men of Hijaz. Yazid received them with open arms and showered them with money and presents, but when they returned, they cursed Yazid for his blasphemy and un-Islamic conduct, encouraging people to revolt against him, using the money they had received from him to finance the rebellion against him. While passing by Medina, the residents heard the report of the members of this committee. They, therefore, deposed their governor, Othman ibn Muhammed, and elected Abdullah ibn Hanzalah as their new governor.


When the Umayyads saw how the public turned against them, they sought refuge at the house of Marwan ibn al-Hakam, cousin of caliph Othman ibn Affan, where they were besieged. The siege was not lifted till those Umayyads solemnly swore not to take any measure against those who laid the siege against them and not to help Yazid in any way whatsoever, a pledge which they did not keep, for Abu Sufyan, Mu'awiyah and Yazid were their mentors, and these men never honored a pledge as long as they lived.


When the rebellion reached such a point, Yazid realized that he had lost control over the people of Hijaz, and that only an army sent against them from Damascus would do the job. He, therefore, appointed a ruffian man named Muslim ibn Uqbah al-Murri who was, at the time, quite advanced in age, to undertake such a task. Despite his age, Muslim agreed to shoulder the responsibility of quelling the rebellion. An army, hence, of twenty thousand strong set out from Damascus to quell the rebellion in Hijaz with clear orders from Yazid to "... Invite the people to renounce their rebellion and to renew their pledge of loyalty [to Yazid]. Give them three days to consider doing so. If they persist in their defiance, let the soldiers have a free hand in the city for three days: Any money or weapons or food they lay their hands on is theirs. Once the three days are over, leave the people alone, and spare Ali son of al-Hussain (Imam Zainul-`Abidin) (as), and admonish everyone to be good to him and show respect to him, for he did not join the rebellion," as at-Tabari tells us on the first pages of Vol. 4 of hisTarikh (Beirut, Lebanon: Al-Amira Publishers, 1426 A.H./2005 A.D.) where more details are provided about this horrific crime of burning the Ka`ba, the holiest of holies in Islam.

Harrat Waqim


Yazid’s troops first attacked Medina then Mecca. In Medina, according to al-Mas'udi and al-Daynuri, they demolished homes, raped women, girls and even children, plundered anything and everything they found in their way, committing untold atrocities justified only by those who follow Yazid and who do not curse or condemn him, hence they shall receive their share of the Almighty’s condemnation on the Day of Judgment and shall be lodged in hell in the company of Yazid and his likes. In his renown Tarikh, Ibn Katheer tells us that as many as seven hundred men who knew the text of the Holy Qur’an by heart, including three close sahabis of the Prophet (P), were killed in that incident which is referred to in the books of history as the Incident of the Harra, a reference to "Harrat Waqim" where Yazid’s army first attacked. This place is named after a man belonging to the Amaliqa (“the giants”) and is one of two Medina suburbs bearing the same name: the eastern Harra, this same “Harrat Waqim,” located on the eastern side of Medina, and the western Harra, as we are told by Imam Shihabud-Deen Abu Abdullah Yaqut ibn Abdullah al-Hamawi ar-Rami al-Baghdadi, famous as Yaqut al-Hamawi, who describes several places each one of which is called “Harra,” then he details Harrat Waqim (see image below) and comments saying the following on pp. 287-288, Vol. 2, of his voluminous work Mu'jam al-Buldan:


Harrat Waqim near Medina, Hijaz


It was at this Harra that the famous “Harra Incident” took place during the lifetime of Yazid son of Mu'awiyah in the year 63 A.H./683 A.D. The commander of the army, who had been appointed by Yazid, was Muslim ibn Uqbah al-Murri who, on account of his ugly action, was called “al-musrif” (the one who went to extremes in committing evil). He [Muslim] came to Harrat Waqim and the people of Medina went out to fight him. He vanquished them, killing three thousand and five hundred men from among the mawali, one thousand and four hundred from among the Ansar, but some say one thousand and seven hundred, and one thousand and three hundred men from among Quraish. His hosts entered Medina. They confiscated wealth, arrested some people and raped women. Eight hundred women became pregnant and gave birth, and the offspring were called “the offspring of the Harra.” Then he brought prominent personalities to swear the oath of allegiance to Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah and to declare that they were slaves of Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah. Anyone who refused was killed.


The people of Medina had re-dug the moat (khandaq) which had been dug during the Battle of the Moat, preparations for which started at the beginning of the month of Shawwal, 5 A.H. (the end of February, 627 A.D.), according to the orders of the Prophet (P) and in response to a suggestion presented to him by the greatsahabi Salman al-Farisi as they stood to defend themselves against a huge army raised by Abu Sufyan to fight them. They also tried to fortify their city with a bulwark.


Yazid’s army succeeded in putting an end to the rebellion at a very high cost, but Abdullah ibn az-Zubair survived unscathed. A number of highly respected sahaba and tabi’een as well as narrators of hadith and Sunna were branded like animals as an additional insult.



Having finished with the people of Medina, Muslim, the aging commander of Yazid’s handpicked troops, marched to Mecca. On the way, he camped at a place called al-Mushallal. There, he felt that death was approaching him, so he called to his presence al-Haseen ibn Nameer as-Sukuni and said to him, "O son of the donkey’s saddle! By Allah, had I not felt that death was approaching me, I would never have given you command of this army. But the commander of the faithful (meaning Yazid) had put you second in command, and none can override his orders. Listen, therefore, carefully to my will, and do not listen to any man from Quraish at all. Do not stop the Syrians from slaughtering their foes, and do not stay for more than three days before putting an end to the reprobate Ibn az-Zubair." This is sated by at-Tabari on p. 381, Vol. 4, of the Arabic text of his famous voluminous Tarikh where he provides details of this incident. Muslim died and was buried there. Once the Syrian army left al-Mushallal, people dug up his grave, took his corpse out and hanged it on a palm tree. When the army came to know about this incident, a detachment was sent to investigate and to kill those suspected of hanging the corpse which was buried again and soldiers were assigned to guard it at all times. These details and many more are stated on p. 251, Vol. 2, of al-Ya'qubi’s Tarikh.


Catapults were installed around Mecca and in the vicinity of the Ka'ba, the holiest of holies in Islam. Fireballs were hurled and the Ka'ba was soon in flames... Its walls collapsed and were burnt, and its ceiling crumbled... According to pp. 71-72, Vol. 3, of al-Mas'udi’s voluminous book Muraj at-Thahab, a thunderbolt hit the Syrian army on a Saturday, Rab'i I 27, 61 A.H./December 28, 680