Muslim son of Aqeel – the Holy Imam’s Deputy to Kufa – #Muharram

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The Holy Imam commanded his cousin Muslim son of Aqeel, to proceed to Kufa which used to be the capital of Iraq at that time. And to report from there, after studying the bona fide of the call from the people of the place. In the middle of Ramadan 60 Hijra Muslim son of Aqeel left Makkah with two of his young sons Muhammad and Ibraheem. It is said that Muhammad was just ten (10) years old and Ibraheem was eight (8) years old.

After reaching Kufa, he stayed in the house of Al-Mukhtar son of Abi Ubayda. The Kufees gave Muslim son of Aqeel a very warm reception and eighteen thousands (18,000) of them paid their ‘Allegiance’ to the Holy Imam on the hands of Muslim son of Aqeel. Poor Muslim son of Aqeel, impressed with and guided by the enthusiasm of the deceitful Kufees and not knowing what would befall him the very next day, wrote a letter to Imam Hussain to come over to Kufa. When the letter inviting the Holy Imam had gone with a favorable report about the situation at Kufa, Muslim son of Aqeel learnt of the treachery, i.e., the turn of the tide of the situation. Yazid, having learnt of Muslim’s arrival at Kufa as the Deputy of the Holy Imam and the Kufees having paid their homage to the Holy Imam, as their religious head, sent Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad, a well-known enemy of the Prophet’s family from Basra to handle the situation in his favor, by replacing previous Governor of Kufa Al- Numan son of Bashir.

When Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad reached Kufa, he was wearing a black turban and he was veiled. News of Imam Hussain’s departure had reached the people of Kufa and they were expecting Imam’s arrival. When they saw Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad, they thought that he was Imam Hussain. Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad did not pass a group of people without them welcoming and greeting him. They were saying: “Welcome, son of the Apostle of God, your arrival is a happy (event).”

When Muslim son of Aqeel heard of the coming of Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad to Kufa, he left the house of Al-Mukhtar son of Abi Ubayda and went to the house of Hani son of Urwa and went in to stay there. The People of Kufa began to visit Hani’s house secretly to keep it hidden from Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad and they enjoined that it should be kept secret.

In a day or two, almost all the leaders of the town were bribed; some of the tribal leaders were arrested and put them into prison. Strong threats from Yazid’s deputy the Governor of Kufa, made the people of the town as a whole, desert poor Muslim son of Aqeel. Under the strict ordinances issued against those who gave even shelter to him, Muslim son of Aqeel was left all alone in Kufa. None in Kufa would now even speak to Muslim and he was left actually homeless, wandering in the streets with everyone in town, now hostile to him. None would allow him even to rest for a while in the shade of his house. At every door he stood, he was being driven away, not even a cup of water he could have from anyone in the town. Hungry and thirsty, the helpless Deputy of the Holy Imam actually wandered in the streets of Kufa with his two innocent children, in the hope of help from someone, but none took pity on him, and not even on the innocent young children.

Hani son of Urwa, the good-hearted Kufee who offered hospitality to Muslim son of Aqeel was mercilessly butchered. All those miseries and persecution did never upset Muslim son of Aqeel in the least but the one and only worry he felt, and which grieved him the most of which he frequently shed tears, was that he had written to the son of Fatima, the Holy Imam, in favor of such a treacherous people and had invited him to go over to a place where only death and destruction waited for him. He could not leave the town for he was not allowed to do it, nor could he send any note to the Holy Imam to intimate the treacherous change in the situation.

At last Muslim son of Aqeel somehow managed to send his two young children out of Kufa with his message to the Holy Imam, a counter to his previous communication to him, requesting Imam Hussain never to think of Kufa anymore. The two innocents of the House of the Holy Prophet with the divine gift of bravery and courage against the odds and the miseries in the way of the Lord, walked through the desert during nights, hiding themselves from the sight of the people and during day time. The two young innocent fugitives were passing through a dreadful and mortal atmosphere. They were passing through the Valley of Death. Whenever they happened to meet anyone they would not disclose their identity and if any one took pity on their age and their plight, and offered any hospitality, they accepted it; otherwise they contented themselves with their lot but always mindful of the Lord and prayerful to Him.

Having dispatched his sons, Muslim son of Aqeel, discarded by one and all in Kufa and hunted by the men of Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad, wandered in Kufa, as a homeless destitute without any shelter or shade to lay his head or even to rest a while against the scorching sun. None dared to give him even a cup of water. Passing through a street Muslim son of Aqeel halted at the door of a Godly woman Tawah, She had been a slave-wife (Umm Walad) of Al-Ashath Bin Qays and he had freed her. She had, then, married Usayd al-Hadrami and had borne him (a son called) Bilal. Bilal had gone out with the people and his mother was standing at the door waiting for him.

Muslim son of Aqeel greeted her and she returned the greeting. Then she asked him without recognizing: “O’ Servant of God, why don’t you go home and rest?”

Muslim son of Aqeel replied: “Where to go? I have no home or nor clan in this town.”

Tawah looked at Muslim son of Aqeel and asked: “Who are you?”

Muslim son of Aqeel replied: “I am Muslim son of Aqeel, the Deputy of Imam Hussain! Hunted by Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad.”

Tawah, immediately identified of Muslim son of Aqeel and the name of the Holy Imam, told him to get into her house and Muslim son of Aqeel taken shelter in Tawah’s house, the son of Tawah, an incorrigible delinquent, returned home and Tawah advised the lad repeatedly not to let any one know about the where about of Muslim son of Aqeel. Early next morning, the lad informed the state authorities. Muslim son of Aqeel heard the approach of the soldiers to Tawah’s house and apprehending that if he stays any longer in the house, the house of the poor lady will be ruined, rushed out and shown great resistance. He killed many of them and they could not defeat him, so they dug a hole behind him and allured him to it. He fell into the hole and they captured him by the contingent and carried to the court (Dar Al-Imarah) of the Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad. Muslim son of Aqeel entered the court without the usual salutation to the Governor. “Don’t you greet the Governor?” demanded the guard.

“If he wants my death, what is (the point of) my greeting him with words of peace?” he replied. “If he did not want my death, my greetings (of peace) to him would be profuse.”

Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad called his men and commanded Muslim son of Aqeel to be taken on the roof of a Castle to be beheaded and his body to be thrown down from the top, to the ground.

Hearing the verdict, Muslim son of Aqeel replied: “I am ready to pass on in the way of the Lord” and then turning to the audience in the court asked, if there was any Quraishites among them there to hear his last desire in this world and execute it. Omar son of Sa’d, a Quraishites, replied: “Yes! I am here! Say what you have to say!”

Muslim son of Aqeel said: “Look O’ son of Sa’d! The first thing I request you to do is to write to the Holy Imam or send a message at once to him never to think of coming over to Kufa!”

Secondly, “I owe seven hundred dirhams to the people here in Kufa. Here is my horse and my armor. Sell these two things and disburse the dues.”

And finally! “Bury my body out of my own money raised by the sale of my belongings without any obligation from any one of the Kufees.”

Omar replied we will act as deemed desirable by us. The people seated around in the court wept but none spoke a word against the brutal behavior against Muslim son of Aqeel.

When Muslim son of Aqeel was taken on top of the Castle, asked respite of the executioners to offer his last prayer to the Lord. After the prayer he turned toward Makkah and cried:

“Pardon me O’ Holy Imam, for misleading you. But think not to come towards Kufa!”

No sooner Muslim son of Aqeel had finished his prayer, and his cry to the Holy Imam, fell the stroke of the sword from the executioner. His head was taken and the body was thrown down on the ground. The heads of Hani son of Urwa and Muslim son of Aqeel were despatched to Yazid as a token of the faithful execution of his orders by his Deputy Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad.

The bodies of Hani son of Urwa and Muslim son of Aqeel, with a rope tied in the legs, were dragged into the streets of Kufa, as an active and visual warning to the people against their loyalty to the House of the Holy Prophet and particularly to Imam Hussain. At last the body of Hani son of Urwa and Muslim son of Aqeel were hung at the gateway of the City and remained there hanging for days together. None of the last desires of Muslim son of Aqeel was executed and immediately orders were issued to comb the city and its surroundings and find out the children of Muslim son of Aqeel. A tempting prize was announced on the heads of the innocents.

Muslim son of Aqeel attempted rising in Kufa was on Tuesday, 8th of Dhu al-Hijja in the year 60 Hijra. He (May God have mercy on him) was martyred on Wednesday, 9th on the Day of Arafa.

The two young souls of Muslim son of Aqeel in their concealed march from Kufa, traveling during nights, lost their way in the desert. Once they were arrested and put into a dungeon.

On the 20th of Dhu al-Hijja in 60 Hijrah, when the Jailer came to give the children their evening meal, he saw them saying their prayers. The Jailer waited. When the boys had finished their prayers, he asked them who they were. When the Jailer learnt that they were the sons of Muslim and the Grandsons of Imam Ali (pbuh), he let them escape. The children came out of the prison.

It was a dark night. Their first thought was to go to Imam Hussain and warn him not to go to Kufa. Everywhere they went, they found the roads blocked by Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad soldiers. It was impossible to get out of Kufa. Now it was almost day-break. Where could these two young boys go?

They found themselves by the side of the river Euphrates. They drank some water from the river and then went up a tree to hide for the day. Just then a woman came to the river to get water. She saw the two young boys and asked them who they were. Ibraheem said, “We are two orphans, could you please leave us alone and not tell any one that you have seen us?” The woman asked them to accompany her to her mistress who would help them.

The woman’s mistress was a good-hearted lady. After talking to the boys for a while she realized who they were. She gave them food and said to them, “You can spend the day here and I will try to help you. Unfortunately my husband Harith is working for Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad, who is already in search of you to win the rich reward. He is out at the moment. You can rest in the spare room but make no noise otherwise when he comes back, he will find out you are here.”

The children said their prayers and went to sleep. In the evening Muhammad woke up and started crying. Ibraheem asked him why he was crying. Muhammad said “I saw our father in a dream, he was calling out for us.” Ibraheem said, “Brother, be patient. I also saw our father in a dream beckoning us to him.” They both started weeping. Harith, who had come back, heard the children crying. He opened the door and asked the children who they were. On learning they were the sons of Muslim, he jumped  with joy and getting into the room dragged those two young souls out of their beds saying:

“I killed myself in your search the whole day for you and you are here in my own house.”

The brute tied both the boys to a pillar. Harith’s wife tried to stop him, but he beat her up. Harith wanted to collect the reward which Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad had offered to anyone capturing the children. The children spent the whole night tied to the pillar. In the morning Harith dragged them to the river-bank and the good lady accompanied them pleading for them. When Harith wanted to behead them, the children cried to the good lady addressing her as ‘Mother dear!’ The poor lady was already imploring the brute of her husband not to lay his hands on the helpless innocents. But the heartless brute would not listen to the implore from the lady. When he raised his sword, the lady ran to intervene and stop the stroke, and got her two hands severed.

Ibraheem asked him, “Harith, are you going to kill us?” Harith said “Yes!” Ibraheem said, “In that case give us time to finish our morning prayers.” The two boys said their prayers. They raised their hands and cried out “Inna Lillahe wa Inna Ilaihe Raje’oon, O God we are coming to you. Give our mother the courage when she hears of our death and judge between us and our killers!” and no sooner the holy souls had finished their supplication to the Lord, then Harith wanted to behead them. The elder brother implored saying: “O’ man! Listen behead not my younger brother before me for my mother when we parted from her last, handed him over to me. Oblige me by beheading me first.”

With a stroke of the sword the head of the elder one of the two innocents fell and Harith threw the body into the river, and then turning to the younger one, he did the same. It is said that the body of first floated stationary in the waves of the river until the body of the second one joined it and both floated away together. Harith cleansed the blood from the head and faces of the children and went on his way to meet Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad.

Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad was seated on his throne in his palace in Kufa with an heirloom in his hand. People were seated on both sides of his throne. Harith was present too and with a single gesture of Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad he came forward and greeted him. From beneath his arms, Harith produced a bundle wrapped in cloth and place it on the table facing Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad. He untied the knot and seeing the contents in the cloth the whole crowd stood baffled and dumbfounded. On catching sight of the two heads Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad rose from his throne and sat again repeating this act three times.

Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad regarded Harith and asked him, “While you were killing them did they say something to you?” “Yes, they begged me not to kill them for the Holy Prophet’s sake, instead to sell them in the market or to bring them to you alive.” They said they were only little children and that I should feel pity on them and set them free. But I told them that God did not grant me a soft heart. I granted just one wish of theirs. “Good and what was their wish?” “They wanted to pray two rak’at namaaz.” I told them they could pray as much as they liked to ease their pain. I stood behind them listening and after their namaaz they started reciting a prayer. I heard them say “O God, you are the ever living; you make the judgment between this man and us.” Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad intervened, “Prayer? What prayer? What did the children say?” “Nothing important.” Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad insisted, “Tell me what they said.” Well they said, “O the Alive, O the self subsisting, O the Forbearing one, O the Wise, O the Best judge, you yourself make the right judgment between this man and us.”

On hearing this Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad got up from his throne hitting the heirloom on Harith’s head, “Incidentally, this prayer is very important because taking this name is very helpful and their prayers are surely answered.” Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad ordered his executioner, “Oh Jallad, come here at once.” A strong and powerful man came forward with large arms and a pink mask on his face. With a heavy sword he came swiftly to Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad bowing and saluting. “I am at your service, master.” “Take this man to the same place where he killed the two children and kill him but make sure his dirty and contaminated blood does not mix or mingle with their pure blood. Now go!” Harith’s face turned deathly pale and his body began to tremble and he cried and begged, “Oh Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad , what wrong have I done? I thought I was doing all this to please you. Please have mercy on my wife and children.” Ubayd Allah son of Ziyad answered, “Coincidently, I am an example of you. God has not placed an iota of mercy in my heart.” Meanwhile Harith was dragged out of the palace by the executioner and a couple of other soldiers.

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