Imam Husain’s Revolution: Activities and Programs Part 3

War of Nerves

The tyrant ordered a group of Kufian leaders to spread fear and terror among the people and these people began to implement these instructions. They were as follows:

  1. Kathir bin Shahab Harithi

  2. Fa’qa’ bin Shuhur Dhahabi

  3. Hijar bin Abjar

  4. Shimr bin Ziljaushan[1]

These men set out towards the rows of the army of Muslim and began to spread terror and propagate fear among them. They frightened them of the Syrian army. Among the statements of Kathir bin Shahab were:

“O people, stay with your families. Do not hurry into evil actions. Do not expose yourselves to death. These are the soldiers of the Commander of the faithful, Yazid, who are approaching. The governor has given God a promise that if you persist in fighting him and do not go away by nightfall, he will deprive your children of their (right to a) state allotment of money and he will scatter your soldiers in Syrian campaigns. He will make the healthy among you responsible for the sick and those present responsible for those who are absent until none of those rebellious people will remain who has not tasted the evil consequences of what their hands have earned.”[2]

This warning fell like lightning on the heads of Kufians because it contained different cruelties and terror. The following warnings were present in these statements:

A warning to them about the coming of the Syrians who had supposedly set out towards them. So that if they continued disobedience and rebellion they shall be captured, tortured and killed.

They would be deprived of stipends and allowance although the whole province was administered and all received their income from the public treasury.

Gathering them in the battlefields of Syrians and sending them in the battlefields.

If they remain stubborn on their rebellion Ibn Ziyad would announce his military regime and deal with them with the policy of his father among them. And that policy had the signs of death and desolation. In this way Ibn Ziyad would employ all the tactics with those people.

The other nobles spoke in similar vein and helped in spread of terror and fear among the people. Among the slogans that spread among the people were:

“O people of Kufa! Fear Allah! Do not create discord and mischief in this Ummah! And do not make the horsemen of Syria come to you as you have tested them and tested their strength.”  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh Pg. 31
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/370-371

Epidemic of Terror and Fear

Epidemic of terror and fear spread in the hearts of Kufians and their nerves shattered, as if death was hovering upon them, and they were telling each other, “We are hastening towards mischief. What to do? Tomorrow the Syrians would attack us? We should go back and stay in our houses and leave these people so that Allah may cause reform among them.”[1]

Women also came out to their sons, brothers and husbands while their faces had paled due to fear and they said, “Go, the people will be (enough) without you.”[2]

Men were going to their sons and brothers and filling their hearts with fear.

Ibn Ziyad gained absolute control over the situation while the Kufians took off the dress of opposition of Bani Umayyah and donned the raiment of degradation of slavery, which was caused by cruelty and terror spread by the regime. As if blood was flowing between the turbans and the beards.

Defeat of the army

Muslim’s army suffered such a humiliating defeat that its equal is not found in all the ages of history because misleading rumors pulled them towards defeat without the use of any military power. Historians say: “From whichever lane Muslim’s army passed a group of his companions used to separate from him, in such a condition that they used to say, “Why should we interfere with the rulers?”[3]

Not much time when most of them fled Muslim’s army and Muslim prayed the Isha prayer in the great mosque. They were fleeing during the prayer itself. When Ibn Aqil concluded the prayer all the generals of his army had disappeared and none remained even to show him the way. He became worried and he could not find his way[4] while according to historians he was also having multiple injuries.[5] He was absolutely helpless. He neither had any refuge nor anyone to help him in any way.

As a Guest of Tawa

That great commander, the grandson of Hashim and the pride of the clan of Adnan roamed the streets and lanes of Kufa. Full of apprehension and worry he set out for the Kinda locality[6] with the hope of finding a house where he could spend the remaining part of the night, while the streets were completely deserted and a fearful atmosphere reigned. This was so because all the soldiers and companions of Muslim had gone back to their houses and shut themselves inside lest the spies of Ibn Ziyad recognize them as supporters of Muslim and put them into arrest.

[1] Al-Futuh 5/87
[2] Abul Fida, Tarikh 1/189-190, Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/31
[3] Ad-Darul Maslook fi Ahwaalil Anbiya wal Awsiya 1/108
[4] Jurairi, Maqamat 1/192
[5] Al-Futuh 5/87
[6] Al-Ahkbaar at-Tiwaal, Pg. 239

Muslim was caught in a whirlpool, surrounded by griefs and pain and a great sorrow had filled his heart so much that it was about to burst, because the people’s betrayal had put him into apprehension and he realized that there was not a single noble man in that city, to give him refuge for the right, help him and show him the way, while he was not cognizant of the town layout and ways.

He wandered amid the lanes of Kufa without knowing where he was going until he came to the houses of Banu Jabala of Kinda. He went on until he came to a door (at which was) a woman called Tawa. She was a lady possessing the best morals and manners among all the people of the town. She had been a slave-wife (umm walad) of Ashath b. Qais and he had freed her. She had, then, married Usayd al-Hadhrami and had borne him (a son called) Bilal,[1] Bilal had gone out with the people and his mother was standing at the door waiting for him concerned with the terrible events that were unfolding in her town.

When Muslim saw her, he approached her and greeted her. She returned the greeting and asked him, “What do you want?”

“Please give me water to drink.”

She went inside and brought water for him. Muslim drank the water and sat down. She became suspicious of him and she asked, “Haven’t you had your drink?”

“Yes,” was the answer.

“Then go to your people,” She said, “as your sitting here is not right.”[2]

But he was silent. She repeated it but he was still silent. A third time she said, “Glory be to God, servant of God, get up-may God give you health – (and go) to your people. For it is not permitted for you to do it.”

When that lady made it unlawful for Muslim to sit there he was compelled to get up and there was no other way except to leave that place. So he spoke up in a sorrowful tone, “Servant of God, I have neither house nor family in this town. Would you (show) me some generosity and kindness? Perhaps I will be able to repay it later on.”

The lady understood that he was a man of noble descent and possessed good manners and he could repay her kindness. She asked him, “What is it, servant of God?”

Muslim said with tearful eyes, “I am Muslim bin Aqil, these people have lied to me, incited me (to action) and then abandoned me.”

The lady asked with respect and humility, “You are Muslim?”

“Yes,” he answered.[3]

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/31. And in Al-Futuh 5/88 it is mentioned: Previously she was the wife of Qais Kandi and after that she married a man from Hadramaut named Asad bin Bateen and she bore a son who was called Asad.
[2] Dhahabi, Tahdhib at-Tahdhib 1/151
[3] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/31

“Come in”, she said and he was taken into a room in her house but not the room she used. She was pleased to have the honor of hosting a descendent of Hashim and the ambassador of the son of the Messenger of Allah (s). She spread out a carpet for him and offered him supper but he could not eat because sorrow and grief had destroyed his appetite. He had now become certain of the future calamities and the terrible disaster that was to occur. He was apprehensive because of the letter he had written to His Eminence to come to Kufa.

Soon her son returned. He saw her going frequently to and fro between the rooms and exclaimed, “By God, the number of times which you have gone into and come out of that room this evening, makes me suspect that you have something important (there).”

“My little son, forget about this,” she answered.

“By God, tell me,” he replied.

“Get on with your own business and don’t ask me about anything,” she retorted. However he persisted until she said, “My little son, don’t tell any of the people anything about what I am going to tell you.”

“Indeed,” he answered and she made him take an oath. When he swore (not to do) that, she told him. He went to bed without saying anything.

But the evil-minded man did not go to sleep. He remained awake so that he may sneak out and inform the regime that Muslim was hiding in his house. This was very much against Arab manners, which considered hospitality and helping guests compulsory...These manners were practiced even during the regimes of tyrannical rulers...We shall study this in the social conditions of that time and show that the words and manners of people of that time had reached a decadent and a low level.

Anyway Muslim passed the night in sorrow and grief. He was worried and full of apprehension. On the basis of historians he spent half the night in worship reciting Quran and prayers. He slept for a brief period and saw his Uncle, Amirul Momineen (‘a) in dream who prophesied to him that he would meet him soon. Muslim became certain of his death in the near future.

The Tyrant becomes certain of the Failure of the Uprising

After the people had deserted Muslim bin Aqil, a long time passed for Ibn Ziyad without him hearing the voices of the supporters of Ibn Aqil as he had heard them before. He told his followers to look down at that and see whether they could see any of them. They looked down and did not see anyone. Then he told them to see whether they were in the shadows lying in ambush for them. They removed the (bamboo) roof covers of the mosque and began to lower the torches of fire in their hands, and to look. Sometimes the torches gave light for them and sometimes they did not give (as much) light for them as they would have wished. They let down the torches and sticks of cane tied with rope on which was fire. They were let down

until they reached the ground. They did this in (places in which was) the deepest darkness, (as well as) those parts which were closer and those which were in between. They (also) did that in the darkness around the pulpit. When they saw that there was nothing, they informed Ibn Ziyad that the people had dispersed.

And the tyrant became sure that the uprising has failed and was quelled.[1]

Announcement of Emergency

Early next morning, the tyrant announced the imposition of emergency in all the areas of the city and he ordered his police chief to implement the following:

All houses must be searched for Muslim.

All roads and highways going out of the city must be blocked to prevent Muslim’s escape.

Detention or prevention of all the supporters of rebellion.

The police arrested the following people:

  1. Abdul Aala bin Yazid bin Kalabi

  2. Ammarah bin Salkhab Azadi

  3. Abdullah bin Naufal bin Harith

  4. Mukhtar Thaqafi

  5. Asbag bin Nubatah

  6. Harith Aawar Hamadani[2]

Standard of security

The tyrant ordered Muhammad bin Ashath to wave the flag of security and declare to the people that whoever came under it would be guaranteed safety. The reasons for this course of action are the following:

To recognize the supporters of Muslim so that they may be controlled.

Announcement of their victory and informing about the failure of the uprising.

Paralyzing the movement and telling the people that the power of the regime was in force in all the areas of the country.

The standard of security was waved and the Kufians who had previously been with Muslim hastened forward to come under it in order to remove allegations and to assure the regime of their loyalty to it.

A Doubt

Ibn Qutaybah[3] and Hurr Amili[4] have mentioned a strange matter that Muslim was in Mukhtar’s house. After that he came out to fight Ibn Ziyad. After the failure of the revolt he took refuge in Hani’s house. Hani gave him refuge and told him that Ibn Ziyad would enter his house and Muslim must strike off his neck when he did  

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/372
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 5/314
[3] Al-Imamah was Siyasah 4/2
[4] Ad-Darul Mamlook 1/108

do. However Muslim refused to kill him by trickery. Ibn Ziyad had Hani arrested and sent his policemen to capture Muslim. Muslim fought with them but he could not confront them successfully. Finally he was taken as a prisoner.

But this matter these two writers have mentioned is not written by any other historian and the details of the events are same as we have described. Anything else regarding this matter is a result of weak research.

Ibn Ziyad Speaks

When that oppressor was sure of the failure of Muslim’s uprising and dispersal of his armed forced he ordered his men to gather people in the Mosque.

A group of people arrived in a terrified manner as if danger was hovering over them. The tyrant came forward warning and chastising them. He began to speak:

“Ibn Aqil, stupid and ignorant (man as he is) has attempted the opposition and rebellion which you have seen. There will be no security from God for a man in whose house we find him. Whoever brings him, will have the reward for his blood. Fear God, you servants of God, and keep to obedience and your pledge of allegiance. Do not do (anything which will be) against yourselves.

Whoever brings Muslim to us would be rewarded ten thousand Dirhams. He shall get a high position near Yazid bin Muawiyah and everyday one of his wishes would be fulfilled.”[1]

This address which was filled with harshness and cruelty had the following salient points:

A. Warning of punishment to anyone who gave refuge to Muslim in any place that person had in the province.

B. Blood money of Muslim shall be for one who brought him to Ibn Ziyad.

C. The regime shall reward with 10000 Dirhams anyone who surrendered Muslim to the regime.

D. Whoever brought him would get a high position and earn the trust of Yazid bin Muawiyah.

E. The regime shall reward anyone who brought Muslim, in such a way that everyday one of his wishes shall be fulfilled.

Most people wanted to find Muslim, claim the prize from Ibn Marjana and become proximate ones of Yazid.

Information Regarding Muslim’s whereabouts

Bilal, son of lady Tawa who had accorded refuge to Muslim, spent the long night because he was impatiently waiting for the morning so that he may inform the regime about the whereabouts of Muslim who was taking refuge in his house. He could not sleep that night because of the excitement and because he was thinking of all his aspirations and dreams that were about to be fulfilled.

[1] Al-Futuh 5/90

When morning came he hastened to the palace in an apprehensive state which was very much visible on him. He went to Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ashath a relative of his and who had no kind of nobility or courage. He told him that Muslim was put up in his house. Abdur Rahman told him to be quiet lest someone hears it and informs Ibn Ziyad about it to claim the reward first. Abdul Rahman hastened to his father Muhammad Ibn Ashath and told him about it. Ibn Ziyad accorded importance to this topic and he asked Ibn Ashath, “What has Abdul Rahman told you?”

“May Allah give health to the governor. It is great news!”

“What is that good news?”

“This son of mine has informed me that Muslim bin Aqil is in Tawa’s house.”

Ibn Ziyad was elated and he could not conceal his joy. He promised Ibn Ashath of rewards and money and said, “Get up and bring him to me. You shall get any recompense and position you want.”

Ibn Marjana was able to arrest the grandson of Hashim to make his sacrifice a revenge for Umayyads. This was so because Ibn Ziyad and his father were absolutely devoid of any sort of human values and they committed every misdeed that religion had prohibited. They considered all such evil deeds lawful for themselves.

Muslim Attacked

The tyrant dispatched his police chief, Amr bin Hareeth Makhzoomi and Muhammad bin Ashath to fight Muslim. Additionally 300-armed horsemen accompanied them. Those wild beast set out to fight that great leader who had come to release them from humiliation and oppression.

They went to the house where Muslim bin Aqil was lodged. When the latter heard the beating of horses’ hooves and the voices of men, he knew that it was him they had come for. He dressed up and took the sword. Then he faced the lady of the house first thanking her for her hospitality and refuge. Then he told her that these people have come because her lowly son had passed the information.[1]

Then he went out against them with his sword (drawn) as they rushed blindly towards the house. He fell upon them and struck them with his sword so that he drove them away from the house. They repeated the attack, and Muslim counter- attacked in the same way. He striked off their heads. He displayed such valor and rare courage that it has no equal in history in all actions of battle. He fought them reciting the following song of war:

“This is death, woe be to you. Do whatever you like the cup of death shall reach you.

So be patient with the command of God because God’s command is in force  

[1] Al-Futuh 5/92-93

among the people.”[1]

Hashim’s grandson displayed such valor and strength in his fight that it astonished the intellects. He killed 41 men apart from those he injured.[2] Such incomparable was his strength that he used to get hold of a man and throw him on the housetop.[3] Such physical prowess was not seen anywhere in the history of humanity. However it was not surprising because he was the nephew of Ali Ibn Abi Tali who was the bravest and the most powerful warrior of all times.

The Kufians cowards fought him with extraordinary and unusual tricks. They climbed up the roofs of surrounding houses and began to hurl stones and lighted sticks on Muslim.[4] If this battle had been fought in an open field Muslim would have indeed emerged victorious but here the confrontation was enacted on streets and lanes.

Soldiers Defeated

The soldiers of Kufa were defeated and they failed to subdue the valiant fighter. A large number of their men were killed and a terrible loss was inflicted on them. Such that the coward betrayer, Muhammad Ashath fled to Ibn Marjana and implored him to send more horsemen and infantry for their help as they had become helpless in subduing Muslim.

The tyrant scolded him saying, “Glory be to God. We sent you to bring one man to us. He has killed a large number of your companions.”[5]

This ridicule was too much for Ibn Ashath. He spoke in praise of Ibn Aqil, “Do you think you sent me to a grocer of Kufa or to Juramiqa Hira?[6] While you sent me to a formidable lion and a sharp sword in the hand of a brave warrior[7] from the famous clan of the best of the people.”[8]

Ibn Ziyad sent a huge battalion to replenish his forces. Those men conducted a furious battle with Muslim, while he was reciting following lines:

“I swear I will only be killed as a free man, although I see death as something horrible,

Or it makes the cold a bitter heat and deflects the rays of the sun (forever).

Every man one day will meet an evil, I fear that I will be cheated and deluded.”[9]

O son of Aqil, you were the leader of noble men. That is why you waved the flag  

[1] Ibne Shahr Aashob, Manaqib 4/93
[2] Ibne Shahr Aashob, Manaqib 4/93
[3] Ad-Darun Nazeed, Pg. 164. translation of Nafasul Mahmoom, Pg. 52
[4] Baihaqi, Al-Mahasin wal Masawi 1/60
[5] Al-Futuh 5/93
[6] Muqarram, Maqtal Husain, Pg. 159
[7] Juramiqa is a non-Arab tribe that lived in Mosul
[8] Al-Futuh 5/93-94
[9] Tabari, Tarikh 5/374

of respect and nobility and raised the slogan of independence and lofty human values and your foes are degraded because they are slaves as they have accepted humility and lowliness.

Dr. Yusuf Khalif has explained this war song as follows: From the aspect of flow the Rajaz was absolutely correct and it has expressed the flow of the thought of the composer. It was so because he had fallen into such difficult circumstances because more than everything else he had decided to retain his freedom even if it caused him to be killed. He clearly and truthfully announced that death was an undesirable thing because even those who exaggerate do not claim that death is lovely. Rather they are frank about their views about death. That it is something abhorrent. But he is not running away from it while he wants to protect his freedom. Then he tries to quell his worries and control this horrifying thought instead of entrusting his heart to fear and cowardice. So he speaks to himself that the world is always changing and all are helpless to face things that they may abhor. Through these lines he displays his art as well as expresses deep thoughts.”

He further adds, “He desires to live but is also needful of freedom but he has refuted himself because he was fearful lest his enemies may accuse him of lying, deceive him or kill him without allowing him to fulfill his oath and that he dies in the path of his freedom or they may capture him and take away his freedom which he considered more precious than his life.

We see how his difficult situation is presented in these eloquent lines.

Don’t you see how he is describing his straitened circumstances in a poetic manner, in a true manner and without any show off and without any intention of misleading others. Another thing is that it is exceedingly prominent and attractive? It is this very secret that the effect these couplets have put in our hearts and make us understand his grief. It enables us to confront the enemies internally and except for confronting them externally and nothing can equal it.[1]

Ashath Guarantees Security

When Muhammad bin Ashath heard the Rajaz of Muslim that he has sworn to die a death of freeman and it should not be that he is deceived he went to him and said, “You will not be cheated, deluded or deceived.” These people (i.e. Bani Umayyah) are your cousins and they will not fight you or strike you.”[2]

Muslim paid no heed to him and continued fighting in the same ferocious manner. They began to flee from him and climbed the roofs of their houses and from there began to throw stones upon him. Muslim objected to them about it and told them, “Woe be to you that you are stoning me like infidels throw stones? While I am from Ahle Bayt of the righteous ones. Woe be to you, do you not have any regard to the right of the Messenger of Allah (s) and his progeny…?”

[1] Hayatush Sha’ar fil Kufa, Pg. 371-372
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/33

They fell weak from fighting him face to face and they were frightened to battle with him directly. Ibn Ashath was also extremely apprehensive. He cried at the soldiers, “Leave him, so that I can talk to him.” He came near Muslim and said, “Do not kill yourself. You can have my guarantee of security and we are responsible for your safety.”

Muslim did not pay attention to him because he knew that there was no example of nobility or loyalty in the history of Ashath and his family. Therefore he said to him, “O Ibn Ashath, as long as I have the strength to fight, I will not surrender myself to anyone. By Allah, it would never be so.”

Muslim attacked Ibn Ashath and he fled screaming like dogs. Muslim was extremely thirty and he was feeling very weak. He began to speak up and said, “O Allah, I am terribly thirsty.”

Soldiers outnumbered him but all of them were fearful and apprehensive. Ibn Ashath cried to them, “This is the same disgrace and helplessness that you cannot subdue a single man. Attack him all together.”[1]

They attacked him in unison and Bakeer bin Humran Ahmari hit him a terrible strike and slashed his upper lip and it went upto his lower lip. But Muslim requited him with such a strike that he fell down at that same spot.

Muslim taken Prisoner

After Muslim had been hurt by stones and fighting he was arrested by these filthy people. They were competing with each other to be the first to convey this ‘good news’ to Ibn Ziyad so that they may receive the rewards of taking as prisoner one who had come to free them from degradation and oppression. That tyrant was also highly pleased because he had won the contest and it became clear to him that the revolution was destroyed…As for the arrest of Muslim there are differences among historians. Following are some varying opinions:

  1. Ibn Asim Kufi says: Muslim sat hurt and terribly wounded and he was attacked by a Kufian coward from the back. This hit felled him to the ground and he was taken a prisoner.[2]

  2. Shaykh Mufeed says: He (Muslim) had been hurt by stones and weakened by the fighting. He was out of breath and he was propping his back up against the wall of that house. Ibn al-Ashath told him, “You shall get security.”

Muslim said, “Am I granted security?”

“Yes,” he replied and he said to the people who were with him, “Would he have security from me?”

“Yes,” replied the people, except (Amr) b-Ubaidullah, b. al-Abbas al-Sulami.

“I say neither yes or no,” and he turned aside.

[1] Al-Futuh 5/94-95
[2] Al-Futuh 95-96

“If you had not granted me security”, declared Muslim, “I would not have put my hand in yours.”

A mule was brought and he was put on it. They gathered around him and pulled his sword away. At that he was in despair for his life and his eyes were filled with tears.

“This is the first betrayal”, he cried.[1]

  1. Abu Mikhnaf says: “They dug up a pit for him and covered it with dust. Then they ran away from him. Muslim attacked them and they pushed him back till he reached the edge of the pit and stumbled backwards into it. They surrounded him and put him into captivity.”[2] But except for Abu Mikhnaf no one has mentioned this.

With Ubaidullah Sulami

At that time Muslim was not worried as to what his fate would be at the hands of the tyrant, Ibn Marjana. Whether he would be killed or tortured etc. he was more concerned with the letter he had written to Imam Husain (‘a) inviting him to Kufa. He was certain that if the Imam were to arrive in Kufa he would also fall into the same fate as he had fallen. Therefore he began to weep in apprehension. Ubaidullah bin Abbas Sulami thought that he was weeping due to his defeat and arrest. He criticized him saying, “One who has sought for the like of what you have sought for, should not weep when there befalls him what has befallen you…”

Muslim removed his misconception and said, “By Allah, I do not weep for myself, nor do I grieve for my own death, even though I have not the slightest desire for destruction. But I am weeping for my family who are coming to me, I am weeping for Husain and the family of Husain, peace be on them…”[3]

The streets and lanes were filled with people eager to see what would be the consequences of Muslim, the great leader, and what treatment he receives at the hands of the Umayyads. Not one of them dared to say anything against the oppressive regime.

With Bahili

They brought Muslim as a prisoner in such a way that guards were surrounding him with naked swords. When they took him to the governor’s palace he saw a jug of water there. Since he was extremely thirsty he told the people around him, “Please give me some water.”

The degraded and filthy man, Muslim bin Amr Bahili glanced at him and asked, “Don’t you see how cool the water is? By God, you shall not have a drop of it till you taste boiling water in Hell fire.”

[1] Al-Irshad, 2/58-59. Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/33
[2] Abi Mikhnaf, Maqtal Pg. 54
[3] Al-Irshad, 2/59

There is no limit to the oppression of man and there is no end to his tyranny and beastly actions. What problem those oppressors had if they had given water to Muslim, while he was their prisoner and had no choice of his own. This was the limit of backwardness and decadence of those degraded people, which was the distinguishing quality of the killers of reformers.

Muslim wanted to know who this transmogrified man was, who was very distant from the simplest human values so he glanced at him and asked, “Who are you?”

The man, proud of his post as an officer in Umayyad regime said, “I am the one who recognized the truth when you denied it; who was sincere to his Imam when you deceived him; who was obedient to him when you opposed him. I am Muslim b. Amr al-Bahili.”

What truth has this Bahili realized? And which loyalty has this decadent oppressor acted upon with regard to the well-being of the Ummah? He, that was sunk in falsehood and drowned in misguidance, has the greatest pride that he was in service of Ibn Marjana, while it was a matter of great shame in all the history of humanity.

Muslim responded with logic, “May your mother mourn for you. How coarse you are, how tough, how hard your heart is, Man of Bahila, you are more appropriate for the boiling water of Hell and to remain there forever, than I am.”

Ammarah bin Uqbah[1] felt ashamed at the cruelty and hard-heartedness. He called for cold water and poured it in a utensil. Muslim took it but whenever he tried to drink it, it used to become filled with blood. He repeated this thrice. When his heart was melting with thirst he said, “If a portion of it had been destined for me, I would have drunk it.”[2]

In other words Muslim remained deprived from water and passed away from this world thirsty. In the same way as his cousin, the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s) achieved martyrdom.

In the Presence of Ibn Ziyad

The greatest difficulty that befell Muslim was that he was taken as a prisoner to Ibn Ziyad while he would have preferred to have sunk in the ground rather than to stand facing Ibn Ziyad. However, history wished that he undergo this difficulty. He was brought to Ibn Ziyad surrounded by guards but that stalwart did not pay any heed to Ibn Ziyad. Then he saluted him but he did not reciprocate. A guard who was of the most degraded person of Kufa, objected to him and asked, “Why don’t you salute the governor?”

[1] In Al-Irshad, 2/60 it is mentioned: Amr bin Hareeth sent his slave and he brought a cup that had a kerchief and a vessel covering it. He poured water in it and told him: Drink!
[2] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/34.

Muslim considered him and his governor worthless and he cried at him, “Shut up! May your mother die! Who are you to say this? By Allah, he is not my Amir, that I should salute him.”

How can Ibn Marjana become the Amir of Muslim, the leader of noble men and a martyr on the path of perfection and humanity? He was that transmogrified man who did not have anything except shamelessness. Could be become the Amir of Muslim?

That tyrant was infuriated due to the indifference and carelessness of Muslim towards him. He cried, “No problem whether you salute or not, you shall be killed.”

That tyrant had no thought except to shed prohibited blood. He thought that this matter would frighten Muslim or it may cause him to become despaired and defeated. That he would humble himself before him. However, that stalwart from the clan of Adnan, along with self respect and reliance said, “If you kill me, he is worse than you who killed one who was better than me.”

This solid fact vanquished his pride because by these words Muslim had him joined with killers and murders of reformers.

Therefore that oppressor cried at Muslim, “Oh mischief- maker! O evil-doer! You have attacked the Imam of your time, destroyed the unity of Muslims and incited the flame of mischief.”

What Imam was it against whom Muslim had come out, what Muslim unity had he destroyed and what flame of mischief had he ignited? He had only risen up against one who cultivated the company of dogs and monkeys in order to save the community from his dark regime and hardships.

Muslim replied to him. “By Allah! Muawiyah did not become caliph by consensus of the Ummah. He obtained caliphate by deceit and fraud and usurped the seat of Prophet’s successorship. And his son Yazid is also like him…but you and your father, Ziyad from the ignoble infidel family have ignited the flames of mischief.

I am desirous that the Almighty Allah bestow martyrdom to me at the hands of the worst people. By Allah, neither have I rebelled nor disbelieved or wrought any changes. I am only obeying the leader of believers, Husain Ibn Ali. We are more rightful for caliphate than Muawiyah, his son and the progeny of Ziyad.”

These words were more distasteful for Ibn Ziyad than death since Muslim had exposed his reality before his officials and servants and had showed him to be bereft of morals and human nature. In this way he had described him as the lowliest creature of the earth. That filthy man had no way to take refuge. Except that he should take the help of concocted facts and allegations. This was the old trick played by his father. Therefore he alleged Muslim to have committed an act he was blameless of and said, “O you sinner! Did you not imbibe wine in Medina?”

Muslim cried at him, “By Allah, it is you who are more correctly described as drinking wine than me, (you) who lap the blood of Muslims and kill the life whose killing God has forbidden and (you are one) who sheds sacred blood on behalf of usurpation, enmity and evil opinion while he (Yazid) enjoys himself and plays as if he had done nothing.”

That tyrant changed his opinion and learnt that the lie had not availed him anything. So he said to Muslim, “You great sinner, your own soul made you desire what God prevented you from having (i.e. authority) (because) God did not regard you as worthy of it.”

Muslim ridiculed him and asked, “Who is worthy of it, if we are not worthy of it?”

“The commander of the faithful, Yazid Ibn Muawiyah.”

“Praise be to God,” called out Muslim. ”We will accept God’s judgment between us and you in every circumstance.”

“Do you think you have a share of this rule?”

“No by God we are sure of our rightfulness.”

“May God kill me, if I do not kill you.”

“You will never abandon evil murder, wicked punishment, shameful practice, and avaricious domination to anyone (else). By Allah! If I had ten reliable people and had water to drink you would have seen me in this palace for a long time. But if you have decided to kill me send me a man of Quraish so that I can make my bequest to him.”[1]

That tyrant allowed him to make the bequest.

Muslim’s Bequest

Muslim glanced at the assembly and decried Umar bin Saad and expressed his desire to make a bequest to him. So he told him, “There is no one except you from Quraish here.[2] I am also having a secret wish from you...”[3]

Ibn Ziyad because infuriated because Muslim had not considered him from Quraish and considered it untrue that he was from Bani Umayyah thus refusing to acknowledge his lineage of Bani Umayyah, which was proved by the testimony of Abu Maryam, the wine-seller. Ibn Ziyad could not say anything.

Ibn Saad refused to accept the request of Muslim so that he may please his master, Ibn Marjana and remain in his good books. Ibn Ziyad noticed his hesitation to accept Muslim’s request but he concealed it. And he saw that he preferred to lead an army against the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s).

Ibn Ziyad ordered Umar Ibn Saad to heed Muslim’s request and listen to his  

[1] Al-Futuh 97-99
[2] Jawahirul Matalib dar Manaqib Imam Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) Pg. 2/268
[3] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/34. Al-Irshad, 2/61

bequest. Ibn Saad arose and approached Muslim. Muslim made the following bequest to him:

  1. He owed 700 dirhams in Kufa so he were to sell his sword and coat of mail and pay his debt[1] as it was a matter accorded much importance and emphasis in religion. And if any amount remained from that, it was to be handed over to lady Tawa.

  2. Take his corpse from Ibn Ziyad so that it may be buried in a proper way[2] because Muslim was aware that they would not refrain from cutting it up into pieces.

  3. Write a letter to His Eminence, Husain (‘a) regarding his condition[3] as he was very much apprehensive about him because he had written to the Imam and invited him to Kufa.

Ibn Saad, acting like a coward turned to Ibn Ziyad and said, “O Amir! You know what he told me? He said such and such…”[4]

Ibn Ziyad objected to him why he was exposing his secret and he said, “The faithful would not betray you, but the traitor was confided in. As for what you have, it is yours, and we will not prevent you from doing with it what you like. As for Husain, he does not intend (harm) to us, we will not intend (harm) to him. As for his dead body you shall not get intercession in it.”[5]

That oppressor did not accept the intercession of Ibn Saad regarding the corpse of Muslim because he had decided to cut it up into pieces. Thus extracting his revenge and also terrifying the people.

Muslim and the Oppressor

Ibn Marjana screamed at Muslim and said, “Why did come to this city? Ibn Aqil, you came to the people while they were all (united) and you scattered them and divided their opinions so that some of them attacked others.”

Pride of Bani Hashim said with self respect and determination, “I did not come for that but (because) the people of the town claimed that your father had killed their best men, shed their blood and appointed governors among them like the governors of Choesroe and Caesar. We came to enjoin good and forbid evil and urge them to rule by the Book and Sunnah, as we are more deserving to do so. Amirul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib was martyred, the caliphate was ours and that caliphate also needs people like us as we have undergone hardships regarding it…You were the first to rebel against the Imam of guidance and created disunity  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/34 and in Tabari 5/376 it is mentioned: I owe 700 dirhams and in Al-Ahkbaar at-Tiwaal, Pg. 241 it is said: I owe 1000 dirhams.
[2] Tabari, Tarikh 5/376
[3] Al-Irshad, 2/61
[4] Tabari, Tarikh 5/377
[5] And in Al-Irshad, 2/61 it is mentioned: “As for his dead body, after we have killed him, it is not important for that what we do with it.”

among the Muslims, taken away caliphate and dealt with cruelty with those who were deserving of it...”[1]

Muslim, in this statement has spoken about the factors associated with the uprising of Imam Husain (‘a) against the regime as he had himself announced. That oppressor was stunned at the discourse of Muslim and he became confused and being intoxicated in his apparent victory he could not find a way to satisfy his anger except that he began by cursing Ali, Hasan and Husain. Muslim stood up before him and said, “You and your father are more appropriate for cursing, order whatever you like, we are the Ahle Bayt and hardships are destined for us.”[2]

Till his last moments Muslim retained his courage and faced perils in a valiant manner and no one else could be compared to Muslim as far as his self-defense and logical arguments with Ibn Ziyad are concerned.

Towards God

The moment arrived when this great leader, after having loyally fulfilled the duties of his mission departed for the other world while being bestowed with martyrdom at the hands of the most evil person of the world at that time, i.e. Ibn Marjana.

Ibn Ziyad ordered Bakeer bin Humran to strike his head as Muslim had struck him. He told him, “Climb up, and you be the one who cuts his head off. So that you may extract your revenge.”

Muslim glanced at Ibn Ashath who had guaranteed security to him and said, “O Ibn Ashath! By Allah! If you had not guaranteed security to me, I would not have surrendered. Get up and defend me with your sword.”

Ibn Ashath paid no heed to him.[3]

Muslim welcomed death with a smile. They took him to the top of the palace while he was at complete ease, having firm faith in Allah and satisfied by his fate. He was reciting glorifications of Allah and seeking His forgiveness and praying for blessings on the Apostle, saying: “O God, judge between us and a people who have enticed us, lied against us and deserted us.”[4]

The executioner took him to a part, which overlooked where the shoemakers are today. He striked off his head and threw his head and body down.[5] In this way came to end the life of the stalwart who was in the manners of his uncle, Amirul Momineen (‘a) and the hope of his cousin, His Eminence, Husain (as.) and he was martyred in the path of defending religion and the rights of the oppressed and deprived people.

[1] Al-Futuh 5/101
[2] Al-Futuh 2/102-103. And in Tarikh Ibne Athir 4/35 and Irshad 2/63 it is mentioned that Muslim did not speak to Ibne Ziyad after he had resorted to foul language.
[3] Tabari, Tarikh 5/378
[4] Al-Futuh 5/103
[5] Muruj az-Zahab 3/59

When the evil-doers came down, Ibn Ziyad went to welcome them. He asked, “What did he say when you took him to the top?”

“He praised God and sought His forgiveness. When I wanted to kill him, I said to him, ‘Thanks be to Allah that He gave me power over you to take revenge from you.’ Then I hit him a strike but nothing happened and he said to me, ‘Do you see a defect in me that due to it you blame me instead of your blood, O slave?’”

Ibn Ziyad was astonished and he expressed surprise and he considered him great. He said, “Did he have pride even at the time of death?”[1]

By the martyrdom of Muslim the bright page of the most prominent pages of faith and Jihad in Islam was closed. He was killed in the way of social justice and for emancipating the people from oppression and injustice. He was the first martyr from the family of the Prophet who was openly murdered in presence of Muslims who failed to defend him.

Plundering Muslim

Offspring of betrayal, Muhammad bin Ashath,[2] began to plunder Muslim and he took away his sword and coat of mail. He didn’t care for disgrace and shame while he was denounced about this in all the gatherings of Kufa. Thus a poet has composed some couplets in this regard:

“You abandoned your cousin (to be killed) and in a shameless way you did not defend him. While if you hadn’t been there he would not have been caught.

You killed the ambassador of the Progeny of Muhammad and plundered the swords and armors.”[3]

Some ignoble persons of Kufa indulged in looting the cloak and clothes of Muslim.

Hani is sentenced to Death

The tyrant ordered that the great leader, Hani bin Urwah be arrested so that by humiliating a leader of Kufa and by spreading terror among people he may subdue all possibilities of rebellion against his regime.

Being scared of Hani’s clan, Muhammad bin Ashath stood up to intercede on his behalf, and he said, “May the Lord give health to the governor, do you know of the position of Hani in the town and of his House in the clan?[4] His people know that I and Asmaa bin Kharija brought him to you. I adjure before God, hand him over to  

[1] Ibne Athir, Tarikh 4/35-36
[2] Ashath bin Qais was named such because of his baldness. His real name was Sa’ad bin Karb. He was killed 40 days after the martyrdom of Amirul Momineen (a.s.). He was 63 at that time. This is mentioned on Pg. 35 of Tarikh as-Sahaba. But Muhammad bin Ashath’s mother, Umme Farwa was the sister of Abu Bakr from her father’s side. This is mentioned in Ar-Riyadhul Mustab, Pg. 8
[3] Muruj az-Zahab 3/59
[4] And it is mentioned in a report: “Do you know his position in his town?”

me for I would not like (to face) the enmity of the town and his family…”[1]

Ibn Ziyad paid him no attention and instead scolded and screamed at him. That man fell silent.

They took the brave warrior, Hani to the area where sheep were sold so that he may be insulted further, when he realized that he was going to be killed, he called out for help from his clan and he began to shout, “O Madhij! Is there no one from Madhij for me today? O my relatives!”[2]

If Madhij had any nobility and principles remaining it would have taken action for release of its leader. However they, like the other tribes of Kufa, had divorced goodness…

When he realized that no one was going to help him, he pulled his hand and wrenched it free of the chain. So that he may catch hold of a weapon to defend himself. When they saw this they jumped upon him and tied the chains (more) tightly. He was told, “Stretch out your neck.”

With firm determination and right faith he answered, “No, by Allah! I will not help you to take my life.” At that moment a Turkish retainer (mawla) of Ubaidullah called Rashid[3] struck him with a sword but it did not do anything. “To God is the return, O God to Your mercy and Your Paradise. O Allah! Make this blood as an atonement of my sins, because I have supported the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s)...”

Then the oppressor struck him with another blow and he fell down bleeding. He passed away after a short time.[4] He was aged 99 years on the day of his martyrdom.[5]

He achieved martyrdom on the path of his faith and the noble men and reformers were shocked and aggrieved at his murder. Abu Aswad Duali has versified as follows:

“That praiseworthy battle that neither was won against the oppressors nor does it lose our sincere admiration.”[6]

Akhtal bin Ziad also says in his elegy:

“Neither the son of Urwah disappeared in the day nor the son of Aqil vanished in the night.

[1] Al-Futuh 5/104
[2] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 2/340. Al-Futuh 5/105
[3] Abdur Rahman bin Haseen stood up to revenge the killing of Hani and killed Rashid. And he says about this: I killed Rashid Turki and I attacked him with a white sword and through this I have pleased the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). This matter is mentioned in Ansaab al-Ashraf, Vol. 2/340
[4] Al-Futuh 5/105
[5] Miraat az-Zamaan, Pg. 85
[6] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 2/341. Diwan Bu Aswad, Pg. 102

That praiseworthy battle was neither won from the oppressors nor did it reduce the heaviness of the heart.”[1]

Dragging the corpses of Muslim and Hani through the streets

The tyrant ordered his slaves and officers to drag the corpses of Muslim and Hani through the streets and market places. They tied up their legs with ropes and dragged their corpses through the roads in order to terrorize the common people and put awe into their hearts. That it should serve as a lesson for anyone who may be thinking of staging a rebellion against the Umayyad regime.

Hani was killed in the very presence of his clansmen and community. If they had the least nobility and zeal they would have rushed to get release of the corpse of their leader from these ignoble rascals who were trying to humiliate it.

Hanging the Corpses at City Gate

After the tyrant had fulfilled his desire of dragging the bodies of Muslim and Hani through the streets he ordered that now the corpses must be suspended at the city gates. The two bodies were hung upside down[2] at Muzbala[3] on the gate. And on the basis of what historians say, Muslim was the first martyr of Bani Hashim whose corpse was hung at the City Gate.[4]

Muslims were severely considering this dangerous incident as significant because this terrible punishment was prescribed for anyone who fought with Allah and His Prophet and spread mischief in the earth, while Muslim and Hani were those who wanted truth and desired reform in the earth.

Anyway, by the killings of Muslim and Hani, Ibn Ziyad the tyrant, managed to subdue Iraq that had dared to rebel and other provinces also without any additional effort.

Severed heads taken to Damascus

Ibn Marjana dispatched the severed heads of Muslim, Hani and Ammarah Bin Salkhab Azadi[5] to his master, Yazid, in Damascus so that he may obtain reward for it and also achieve the affections of the ruling family. Along with the severed heads he sent the following letter:

“Praise be to God, Who exacted the dues of the Commander of the faithful and has given him sufficient provisions against his enemy. I (am writing) to inform the Commander of the faithful that Muslim bin Aqil took refuge in the house of Hani bin Urwah al-Muradi. I set look-outs and spies on them, concealed men against them, I tricked them until I brought them out. God gave me power over them. Thus I came upon them and had them executed. I have sent their heads to you with Hani  

[1] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 2/341. Khwarizmi, Maqtal 1/215
[2] Ibne Shahr Aashob, Manaqib 4/94
[3] Al-Manaqib wal Mathalib, Pg. 172
[4] Muruj az-Zahab 3/60
[5] Ansaab al-Ashraaf 2/342

Bin Abi Hayya and al-Zubayr bin Arwah al-Tamimi. They are both people who are attentive and in obedience to you, and of sincerity. Let the Commander of the faithful ask them about whatever of the affair he may wish; for they have knowledge and truth

Farewell. Greetings.”[1]

This letter mentioned the actions that the oppressor took to quell the revolt. Most important of them were as follows:

Using scouts and spies to understand the factors of uprising and to learn its secrets. These duties were carried out by his slave, Maqil.

He sent prominent persons to get Hani to him because Hani was an important part of the uprising. In the same way he was able to have Muslim in his control. He also instructed well-known people of Kufa to spread terror and fear among the people. This also helped in dispersing the forces of Muslim.

Yazid’s reply

When the severed heads reached Damascus, Yazid was extremely elated and he wrote a reply to Ibn Marjana and thanked him profusely. The text of that letter was as follows:

“You have not gone beyond what I wanted. You have acted with the decisive action I wanted. You have launched into the attack with the violence of man who has control of his emotion. You have satisfied me, been sufficient for (the task) and corroborated my view of you and my opinion of you. I have summoned your two messengers and questioned them, and talked to them. I found them in their views and merit as you have mentioned. Receive them both with kindness on my recommendation. I have been informed that Husain has set out for Iraq. Therefore set look-outs and watches, be vigilant and detain suspicious (characters). Put to death (any who are) accused and write to me about any news which occurs. God the Exalted, wishing.”[2]

[1] Tabari, Tarikh 5/380
[2] Al-Futuh 5/109. Ansaab al-Ashraaf, Part I, Vol. 1, Al-Futuh 5/109. Ansaab al-Ashraf, Part 1, Vol. 1. But historians have no indication where these severed heads were finally placed. Were they buried in Damascus or some other place and they have found this problem unsolved. Except that in Miratuz Zaman, Pg. 59 it has come regarding the severed head of Hani: This year (that is 302 AH) information has reached Baghdad that a huge room has been discovered in a castle in Khorasan in which a thousand severed heads are kept in a tower. Each of these have a silk thread pierced to the ear with a paper tied to it, containing the name of the owner of that head. Among them is the severed head of Hani Ibne Urwah, Hatim bin Hanna, Talaq bin Maaz and others. The year these were kept in that room is 7 AH.Zarkali in his Hashiya Alaam 9/51-52 quotes from Tarikh Tabari 11/59-60 in the events of the year 304 AH that it is mentioned: A letter arrived from Khorasan to Baghdad saying that in the city of Khandhar are towers and in an adjoining tower they found 5000 severed heads of which 29 are labeled and the severed head of Hani is among them. And it is said: They are as they were originally except that the skin has dried but the hairs remain without any change.

This letter has acknowledged the talent of Ibn Ziyad and described him as a “man who has control of his emotions.” Who has corroborated the view of Yazid about him and that he had been sufficient for the task. Yazid informed him about the decision of Imam Husain (‘a) to move towards Iraq and he ordered Ibn Ziyad to do as follows:

Set up lookouts and watches on all highways and roads.

Be vigilant and detain suspicious (characters), subdue the people through terror and cruelty.

Write to Yazid about any news which occurs in the provinces.

Ibn Marjana compiled with all instruction and undertook following actions:

Declaring Martial Law

After the tyrant quelled Muslim’s uprising, he took hold of Iraq in an iron grip. He declared military rule in all the Iraqi provinces. In order to achieve his plans he employed cruel acts and spread such oppression and injustice as defies description. In such a way that the mere mention of his name used to induce terror into the hearts of Iraqi people, just as previously his father’s name had.

The Damascus regime accorded wide ranging powers to Ibn Ziyad and ordered him to arrest people merely on suspicion and execute anyone who harbored enmity to the Umayyad rule or associated with any power that dared to oppose it. By these dreadful means they assured that all the people of Iraq would be compelled to fight against Imam Husain (‘a). For if anyone restrained from it he shall be sentenced to death by the regime.[1]

Sealing Borders of Iraq

Ibn Ziyad stationed troops on all the borders of Iraq and sealed the frontiers so that neither could anyone enter nor leave the boundaries of Iraq without the special permission of police.

Whenever they found anyone entering or leaving the borders they used to conduct a through investigation and if found innocent they were released and if any suspicion remained they used to deport them to Kufa so that the central government may conduct further inquiry. They exercised extreme precaution and vigilance in the matter so that no Shia of Imam Husain (‘a) should be able to enter Iraq or leave it.

Historians say: Ibn Ziyad stationed his spies and informers on all highways and behind roof-tops in the same way as he placed sentries and garrisons in the desert to keep all movements under surveillance. He also sent his police chief, Haseen bin Numair to Quddisiya and from there to Khifan and then to Qutqutaniya and Koh-e-la’la' and in all these areas he stationed a group of riders to prohibit anyone from entering or leaving the limits. This was to assure that these areas do not take part in  

[1] Ad-Daulatul Amawiya fish Shaam, Pg. 56

any action against the regime. Moreover he kept the letters and correspondence between Kufa and Syria under surveillance, so that the officials are able to arrest the messenger of Imam Husain (‘a) and hand him over to Ibn Ziyad in Kufa. We shall describe these events below.

Widespread Arrests

Ibn Ziyad ordered widespread arrests of Shias in order to avoid any confrontation from them and to ensure that their power does not spill out to other areas. A large number of people were put under arrest. According to historians 12000 people were arrested[1] and among those detained were Sulaiman bin Surd Khuzai and Mukhtar bin Yusuf Thaqafi and 4000 other prominent persons.[2]

These steps not only caused terror and fear in Kufa but also in all the areas of Iraq. Kufians distanced themselves from every political interference and they did not dare to put up any opposition. They had become certain that they were incapable of any confrontation with the Umayyad regime and thus they continued to live under the yoke of the cruel rule.

[1] Al-Mukhtar, Miraatul Asrul Amawi, Pg. 74-75
[2] Ad-Darul Maslook fi Ahwaalil Anbiya wal Awsiya 1/109