Wednesday 27th of October 2021
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Martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqil

Martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqil

The situation in Kufa became so dangerous that even good and distinguished supporters like Sulayman bin Surd, Musayyab bin Najba and Rafa bin Shaddad were not seen anywhere and the person, who was the chief of twelve thousand men a day earlier, was wandering in the streets of Kufa in a state of distress and perplexity and could not find his way. Tabari's account of this event which is almost identical with that quoted by Shaykh Mufid in "al-Irshad" is as follows: "Muslim bin Aqil came out of the gate of the Masjid and suddenly found himself alone. There could be seen not even one person, who might show him the way or guide him to a place or defend him if he faced an enemy. He, therefore wandered in the streets of Kufa without knowing where to go".

There is a point that it will not be inappropriate to mention here. It has been for centuries now that the people have reproached the Kufians for their perfidies and breach of promise. Just as they have praised and greeted the faithful companions and friends of the Imam, they have cursed these persons who promised support to him on one day but drew their swords against him on the other day and continued their opposition till he was martyred. To be fair, however, it may be said that the people of Kufa did not do anything that might be unusual or surprising and on both the occasions they acted according to rule i.e. when they wrote the letters to the Imam and also when they drew their swords against him. So long as they were leading peaceful lives and the swords had not been unsheathed and a lenient man namely Nuamān bin Bashir was the ruler of Kufa they could distinguish between truth and falsehood by means of the light which Almighty Allah has bestowed upon man to enable him to differentiate between right and wrong, and between truth and falsehood, and correctly assessed as to who was fit for the Imamate and leadership of the people. They did not consider any other Muslim of that time to be equal to him. This correct discernment of truth and falsehood by them was as usual and according to rule, because so long as a person has not deviated from the path of nature and sound mind by means of factors of deviation, and fear, hope, avarice, profit or loss have not confused and misled him, he knows which is the right path and which is the wrong one and makes no mistake in distinguishing between them.

Allah says: Have We not given him two eyes, a tongue and two lips. Have We not shown him the ways of good and evil? (Surah al-Balad, 90: 8 -10}

However, when these very persons, who could distinguish between truth and falsehood were put to test, the question of fear and avarice and profit and loss arose; hence the paths of religion and expediency got separated from each other. They acted as most of the people usually do i.e. they kept aloof from truth and the truthful, and began to talk about prudence, wisdom, precaution and foresight instead of jihad, sacrifice, resistance, reform and valor. Truly speaking it is not strange that the Kufians did not sacrifice their lives to carry out their responsibility. Those who wonder at their conduct should in the first instance imagine themselves to be placed in the same situation and then decide fairly whether in these conditions and circumstances, would they have acted in a different way?

In fact one should wonder at those persons, who remained steadfast in all circumstances, and in spite of all hardships, supported truth and laid down their lives for it. So much so that even when their bodies were torn to pieces and they fell down on the ground, they were worried whether they had performed their duty of self-sacrifice and combating against injustice and oppression properly, and consequently would feel ashamed before Allah and His Prophet on the Day of Judgment!

Qarza bin Ka'b Khazraji was one of the companions of the Holy Prophet. He participated in the Battle of Uhud and later battles. During the Caliphate of Umar he came to Kufa and imparted instruction in jurisprudence to the people. His son Amr bin Qarzi Ansari was one of the devoted companions of Imam Husayn. As stated by Ibn Tawus in Luhuf so long as Amr did not collapse on the day of Āshura owing to excessive wounds, the Holy Imam did not sustain any injury. Amr received the arrows on his hands and the blows of the swords on his body, and when eventually he fell on the ground and rolled in dust he looked at the Holy Imam's face and said: "O son of the Prophet of Allah! Have I acquitted myself of my duty? Then Imam said in reply: "Yes, you have, and you will enter Paradise I earlier than me. Convey my greetings to the Holy Prophet and tell him that his Husayn is also arriving soon".

The steadfastness and constancy of these noble souls is really astonishing. One must wonder at their resolution and firmness and praise and greet them, because the different aspects of life and severe pain did not change their attitude and did not make them deviate from their Divine course. Many persons who have read or heard Zahhiik bin Abdullah Mashriqi Hamdiini have regretted his weakness, bad luck, and lack of foresight and wondered that while his Imam was surrounded by the enemies this man took leave of the Imam and went away. However, very few have judged fairly and realized that in the particular circumstances it might not have been possible to show even that firmness and steadfastness which was shown by him. One should wonder at his staying with the Imam and participating in the battle rather than upon his eventual departure.

Tabari quotes the story from Zahhiik himself in these words: "Malik bin Nazr Arji and I went to see Imam Husyan and sat down before him after paying due respect to him. He welcomed us and said: "For what purpose have you come to see me?" We said: "We have come to greet you and to seek your blessings, so that we may renew our pledge, and also inform you that the people of Kufa are ready to fight against you. The Imam said: "Allah is sufficient for me and He is the best Helper".

When we bade farewell to him Imam Husayn said: "Is there anything against your rendering me assistance? My companion Mālik bin Nazr said: "I am indebted and have also to support my wife and children". I said: "I, too, am faced with the same problems. Notwithstanding this, however, if you give me an option that I may go away in case you become alone and my support is no longer of any use to you, I am prepared to stay on and assist you till that time". The Imam accepted my services on this condition and I stayed on with him. When on the day of Āshura all his supporters were martyred and the enemy reached up to the Imam and the men belonging to his family, and none remained with him except two persons namely Sawayd bin Amr bin Abi Muta Khasami and Bashir bin Amr Hazrami I said to him: "O son of the Prophet of Allah! As you are aware, we had agreed that so long as you have supporters I shall also remain with you and assist you and when they are killed I shall be free to go away. The Imam said: "You are right, but how can you escape this army? If you can find a way out I have no objection to your going away".

Zahhāk adds: "When the soldiers of Amr bin Sā'd were pursuing our horses I had tied my horse in one of the tents and was fighting on foot, so that J succeeded in killing two enemies of the Imam and amputated the hand of another. On that day the Imam praised my performance repeatedly and said: "When he permitted me to leave I brought out my horse, mounted it, and struck it till it stood up on its hind hooves. Then I let it go. The enemies were, therefore, forced to let me pass and I came out of their rows. Eleven persons pursued me and were about to capture me, but Kathir bin Abdullah Shabi, Ayyub bin Musrah Khaivani and Qays bin Abdullah Saidi identified me and I was saved on account of their intercession".

It is true that one must feel sorry for this man, because he missed such a blessing, left such an Imam alone, and lost such an opportunity in vain, although he could also become one like Habib ibn Mazahir Asadi and Burayr bin Khuzayr Hamdani. However, his case is quite different from that of the people of Kufa. This man had not written any letter to the Imam and had not promised any sacrifice. He had also not taken an oath of allegiance to Muslim bin Aqil. And when he reached the Imam he did what he had undertaken to do, and did not boast that he would go to any length in making sacrifices. On the other hand he himself stated to what extent he was prepared to go. However, the people, who took the oath of allegiance to Muslim bin Aqil left him alone during the night of 9th of Zilhaj in the streets of Kufa, and if a woman had not admitted him into her house and quenched his thirst, there was no one who might have rendered him even that much service. Muslim spent the last night of his life in that woman's house and when on the following day Ibn Ziyad took steps to arrest him and his men besieged the house, he was obliged to come out of the house to meet martyrdom.

When Muslim was taken prisoner he made a request to Muhammad bin Asha'th that he might send someone to inform Imam Husayn about his (Muslim's) martyrdom and also to convey the following message to him: "May my parents be your ransom! Return from this journey along with the members of your family lest the Kufians should deceive you. They are the companions of your father, who wished to get rid of them by means of death or martyrdom. The people of Kufa lied to you as well as to me, and nothing can be achieved by means of falsehood". In the court of Ibn Ziyad also he made two requests to Umar bin Sād; firstly that he should sell his coat of mail and sword and repay his debt amounting to seven hundred dirhams; secondly that he should obtain his dead body from Ibn Ziyad and bury it".

Muslim and Hani were martyred on the same day and their heads were cut off and sent to Yazid in Damascus.


Muhammad bin Hanafiya

When Imam Husayn left Madina for Makkah along with the members of his family, his brother Muhammad bin Hanafiya remained in Madina. The mother of Muhammad, the son of Ali, belonged to a tribe named Bani Hanafiya and on this account he was called Muhammad bin Hanafiya. He was a magnanimous, brave and pious person. Although Kaisaniya sect considered him to be an Imam he himself believed in the imamate of his brother Imam Hasan after his father Imam Ali, and thereafter in the imamate of his second brother Imam Husayn and then in the imamate of his nephew Ali bin Husayn. He was a distinguished person among the Ahlul Bayt and showed great valor in the battles fought by Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful. [18]

When Imam Husayn left Madina for Makkah he wrote a testament for his brother Muhammad bin Hanafiya. It has been narrated by Ibn Tawus. In this testament the Imam mentioned the motive for his rising and clarified the policy which he intended to pursue in all circumstances. He also referred to the false motives which instigate a man and make him fight to satisfy his carnal desires and stated that the godly persons are free from such motives. The testament reads as follows:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.


"This is the testament of Husayn bin Ali bin Abi Talib written by him for his brother Muhammad, known as Ibn Hanafiya. Indeed Husayn testifies that there is no god except Allah and no being other than Him is fit to be worshipped and He has no partner. He also testifies that Muhammad is Allah's servant and messenger, who has brought truth from Him, and that Paradise and Hell do exist and the Day of Judgment is bound to come and there is no doubt about it, and on that day, Allah will bring the dead to life".

What the Imam said consists of the very doctrines which it is necessary for every Muslim to hold, and one who does not hold them cannot be a Muslim. Apparently the Imam meant to say that these very principles were in danger and, if the matters were allowed to continue in that manner, it was possible that the regime of the time might not refrain even from attacking these Principles of Faith. In fact the real motive for the Imam's rising was the protection of these very principles on which other religious and social tenets of Islam are based.

The Imam continued: "This movement of mine is not on account of stubbornness, rebellion, worldly passions or instigation by Satan. It is also not my object to create trouble or to oppress anyone. The only thing which invites me to this great movement is that I should reform the affairs of the followers of my grandfather, eradicate corruption, undertake enjoining to do good and restraining from evil and follow the tradition of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah and my father, Ali". This testament does not mention the formalities that usually form part of the last will made nowadays. On the other hand the Imam wished to clarify his motive. He wanted to tell the people that his movement was not an ordinary one based on human passions and worldly desires. He, therefore, says: I am not going out for merry-making and amusement or to create mischief. I am also not perusing the path of oppression". He adds: "I have come out to reform the followers of my grandfather". These words show that in the year 60 A.H. the Muslim ummah was faced with a dreadful social and religious crisis, which could not be overcome with a severe and bloody revolution. It was a danger that could be faced only by a leader like Husayn bin Ali, whose infallibility has been testified by the Holy Qur'an in the verse of Purification of Surah al-Ahzab (33:33). It was a peril that could not be dealt with by means of speeches and religious sermons. He added: "If the people respond to my call, and accept truth from me, well and good; and if they do not accept it, I shall observe patience and am not afraid of unpleasant events, hardships, and sufferings". By saying that he would observe patience, the Imam did not mean to say that he would sit with folded hands so that Yazid might do whatever he liked. On the contrary he used this word in its correct sense, which is suited to the position of an Imam, and is the basis of faith and godliness. In other words he said: "Even if I am alone I shall pursue this path till Allah decides justly between me and these people, and He is the most Wise and the most Powerful of the judges".

Thereafter he wrote: "O my brother! This is my testament for you. I do not seek assistance from anyone except Allah. I depend on Him alone and have to return to him".



[18] It is said that the Roman Emperor sent two herculean athletes to Muawiya to measure their strength with the Muslim athletes. One of them was tall and corpulent and the other was powerful with a strong grip. Muawiya said to Amr bin As: "We have got a match for the tall man in the person of Qays bin sad bin Ubada, but as regards the other man you should think over it as to who can measure his strength with him and defeat him". Amr said: "I have two persons in view but you are inimical towards both of them. One of them is Muhammad bin Hanafiya and the other is Abdullah bin Zubayr". Muawiya said: "You should summon him who is nearer to us at present. Amr asked Muhammad bin Hanafiya to meet the challenge. Muawiya took his place in the general assembly and the dignitaries of the State also attended. The powerful person was the first to enter the field and came face to face with Muhammad. Muhammad said to him: "Either you should sit down and let me hold your hand so that I may pull you off from your seat, or I may sit down and you may lift me from my place. Now let me know whether you are going to sit down or I should do so?" The Roman said: "You may sit down. Muhammad sat down and let the Roman hold his hand. In spite of his best efforts, however, the Roman could not move Muhammad from his place, and acknowledged his weakness. Then Muhammad stood up and the Roman sat down and let Muhammad hold his hand. Muhammad immediately lifted him from his place with one jerk, held him in the air, and then threw him on the ground. Those present applauded him for his strength and Muawiya too was very happy. Now the second Roman champion who was tall statured entered the field to compete. Qays bin Sād who was present went in a corner, took off his underwear and gave it to the Roman to wear. When the Roman put it on it reached his breast and also trailed along behind his feet. Thereupon, he felt ashamed and sat down. The elder amongst the Ansar were very much annoyed on Qays having taken off his underwear in such a formal meeting and rebuked him. He, however, composed some verses in which he apologized for his conduct.


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