While Hussain was making preparations for departure from Mecca, things took a reverse turn for him in Kufa. He however left Mecca on 8th Zilhaja, 60/September 10, 680, the same day Muslim bin Aqil had been killed in Kufa. It was the season of pilgrimage when various tribes from Iraq, Yamen, Taif and other lands were pouring in Mecca, while Hussain was going out of the town with his family. While he was heading towards Iraq, Ibn Ziyad had made Kufa a scene of terror and horror, and imposed strict martial law. He made a declaration that anyone suspected of supporting Hussain, would be hanged without trial, his house would be set on fire, and his property would be confiscated. At the same time, Ibn Ziyad blockaded all the roads leading from Mecca to Kufa, and gave strict orders forbidding anyone from entering or leaving the territory of Kufa. Hussain learned of all these strict measures from the Umayyads, but continued his journey undeterred.
Imam Hussain continued his journey till he reached Taneem, a few miles from Mecca and encamped there. He thence started and effected a junction at a place called Sifah, where according to Tabari (2nd vol., p. 242) he met the poet Farazdaq, and inquired about the conditions in Kufa. Farazdaq replied, "Their hearts are with you, but their swords are with your enemies." Hussain resumed his journey and reached Salabia, which he left very soon and arrived in Waqesia, where his follower Zuhair bin Qayn, alongwith his wife joined the caravan. Khuzaimia was the fifth resting place, and thence he advanced and alighted at Zubala. When he reached Ath-Thalibiya, he received word from some travellers of the executions of Muslim bin Aqil and Hani bin Urwa at Kufa. After leaving it, Hussain reached Batn Aqiq, a place few stages from Kufa; and upon learning of the strong military force stationed at Qadisiya, he changed his route to enter Kufa from another direction. Hussain bin Numayr, the Umayyad commander at Qadisiya, was informed of Hussain's change of route, and sent a detachment of one thousand troops under the command of Hur bin Yazid at-Tamimi to intercept him. When they appeared on the horizon, Hussain ordered his people to pitch their tents at a nearby place called Dhu Husm. The army of Hur soon reached Hussain. The day was very hot and Hur's army had run out of water. Hussain immediately ordered his men to give water to the Umayyad troops and their horses. Hur had a certain regard for the Imam, and even when four of the leading Kufans, who had managed to escape from the city and joined Hussain at this point, Hur did not dare to use force. Hussain explained to his adversaries the reason which had caused him to set out. According to Tabari (2nd vol., p. 298), Hussain said: "O people of Kufa! you sent to me your delegations and wrote me letters saying that you had no Imam and that I should come to unite you and lead you in the way of God.....But if you have changed your minds, have become ignorant of our rights, and have forgotten your delegations and repeated appeals to me to come for the sake of your religion, I shall turn back."
Then Hussain showed Hur two sacks full of letters sent by the Kufans to him, but Hur said that he knew nothing, and that he had come with the orders of Ibn Ziyad to arrest him and his party. Hussain refused to submit, but still Hur did not use force against him. It was however agreed that Hussain should keep on travelling along the Euphrates in the opposite direction from Kufa until fresh orders arrived from the governor, and that Hur would follow Hussain closely.