Islamic Wisdom

Struggle of Muslim bin Aqeel (A)

Shaikh Mufeed and some others say, that Abdullāh bin Khazin says, that I was appointed by Muslim bin Aqeel (A) as a spy in the palace so as to inform him of the treatment being meted out to Hāni. When I saw that they had beaten Hāni and later imprisoned him, I mounted my horse and hastened to inform Muslim regarding it. And I saw some women of the clan of Bani Murād calling out amidst one another “O grief for him! O bereavement of him!” I came to Muslim and informed him about the happenings. Muslim told me to go and call out in a loud voice to his supporters. And he had gathered four thousand men in the adjoining houses. I went and called out to them, “O defenders of the nation!”, this being their slogan. Then they informed one another and gathered near Muslim.

Jazari says that Muslim gave the charge of the clan of Bani Kindah to Abdullāh bin Aziz Kindi and told him to walk in front of him. Then he gave the charge of the clans of Mazhaj and Asad to Muslim bin Awsajā Asadi, the charge of the clans of Tameem and Hamadān to Abu Samāmah Sāedi, and the charge of (the battalion of) Madinā to Abbās bin Ja'dah Jadali, and pro­ceeded towards the royal palace. When the news reached Ubaydullāh he hid inside the palace and closed its doors. Muslim surrounded the palace from all sides while the streets and the Mosque became full of people, and they started gathering until the evening. The situation became tense for Ubaydullāh and there was none with him except thirty guards and twenty people from among the noblemen, his family and retainers. While the noblemen came to meet Ubaydullāh from the second door adjoining the building of the Romans, while the people were abusing Ubaydullāh and his father (Ziyād). Ubaydullāh called Kaseer bin Shihāb Hārisi and ordered him to take along with him, a man from among the clan of Mazhaj and roam in the streets, admonishing the people to desert Muslim. Besides he told Muhammad bin Ash'as to go, and with the help of his supporters among the Bani Kinda and Hazramawt, pitch a standard into the ground and to call out that whoever comes under the standard would remain safe. In the same way he instructed Qa'qa' bin Shaur, Shabas bin Rab'ee Tamimi, Hajjār bin Abjar Ajali and Shimr bin Ziljawshan Zababi to do the same. He kept the chiefs and noblemen along with him not wishing to be without them because of the few people left with him.

They went out and started admonishing people from supporting Muslim bin Aqeel (A). Then Ubaydullāh told the noblemen and chiefs who were with him to deceive those people who were subservient to them with false promis­es, and admonish and warn those who were disobedient to them. They did as directed, with the effect that when people heard the words of their noble­men, they started moving away and scattered. Until the situation reached such a stage that women started coming to their sons and brothers and telling them to return, for the other people who were left were sufficient for the task (of supporting Muslim). Likewise men too started coming (to take their relatives) and people started moving away. Ultimately Muslim was left with only thirty men. When he recited the Prayers of Maghrib in the Mosque, thirty people followed him. When he saw this situation he turned towards the door of the Bani Kindah. Only ten people remained with him until he reached the door, but when he stepped out no one was left. Then he turned around and saw that no one was left to guide him or offer him shelter in their house or defend him from the enemy. Hence Muslim wandered in the lanes of Kufā.

Mas'oodi relates that then Muslim stepped down from his Horse and wandered in the streets of Kufā. He was unaware as to which way he was going until he passed from near the houses of Bani Jabala, a branch of the clan of Kindah. He passed from near the house of a woman named Taw'ah, who was a slave girl of Ash'as bin Qays, who had freed her. Later Usayd Hazrami had married her from whom she had a son named Bilāl. Bilāl had gone out with some people and Taw'ah was waiting for him at the door. When Muslim saw her he saluted her and requested her for some water. The woman brought water for him. After drinking Muslim sat at the door. When the woman returned back after keeping the cup in the house, she saw Muslim and asked,

“O servant of Allāh! Did not you drink the water”?

Muslim replied in the affirmative. She continued,

“Then go back to your family.”

When Muslim heard this he became silent. The woman repeated her sentence but Muslim did not answer. The woman said for the third time,

“Glory be to Allāh! O servant of Allāh! Arise, may Allāh give you strength. Then return back to your family, for it is not appropriate for you to sit at my door, nor do I permit you to do so.”

Muslim stood up and said,

“O maid of Allāh! I do not have a house nor my clan in this town. You are among the generous and favorable ones. Perhaps I could compensate you for it in the future.”

The woman asked him as to what could she do for him. Muslim answered,

“I am Muslim bin Aqeel, these people have deceived me and committed fraud and have brought me out of the place of my safety.”

The woman asked (in aston­ishment) whether he was really Muslim bin Aqeel, to which he answered in the affirmative. She then told him to enter her house, which Muslim did. The woman gave him a separate room, not the one which she used, and spread a sheet for him and gave him food to eat, but Muslim could not eat. Suddenly Taw'ah's son returned back (Kāmil) and noticed that his mother entered the room frequently. He inquired of her as to what concern she had in the room, she did not answer as much as he inquired. The boy forced her and ultimately she revealed to him on oath to keep it a secret and not to reveal it to anyone, hence the boy remained silent.

As regards Ubaydullāh, when the voices of screaming and yelling ceased, he told his supporters to see whether anyone was left. They saw that no one was left and informed him accordingly. Then Ubaydullāh came to the Mosque before the Isha Prayers and made his supporters sit around his pulpit. Then he ordered that it should be proclaimed that,

“The blood of every general, chief of clans and warrior is lawful for us, who does not remain present for the Prayers of Isha.”

Thus the Mosque became full of people and Ubaydullāh lead the Isha Prayers. Then he ascended the pulpit and after Prais­ing Allāh said,

“Now then! Verily the son of Aqeel, an ignorant and illit­erate person, has come to spread dissension and discord as you all have seen. Thus the blood of whosoever offers him refuge in his house shall be lawful upon us. And we shall offer money of his compensation to the one who brings him to us.”

Then he advised people to remain obedient and attend to him. Then he ordered Haseen bin Nameer to seal all the streets and to search the houses. Haseen was in charge of the Police force and was from the clan of Bani Tameem.

Abul Faraj says that Bilāl the son of the old woman (Taw'ah), who had of­fered refuge to Muslim, woke up in the morning and informed Abdul Rahmān bin Muhammad bin Ash'as that Muslim was in his house as his mother's guest.

Abdul Rahmān rushed to his father Muhammad bin Ash'as, who at that moment was seated with Ubaydullāh. He narrated the entire incident in a hush voice to his (step) father. Ubaydullāh inquired as to what he was saying. Muhammad replied that,

“He has brought the news that the son of Aqeel (Muslim) is present in one of our houses.”

Ubaydullāh, pricking him on the side with his staff, said,

“Go immediately and bring him to me.”

Abu Makhnaf says that Qudāmah bin Sa'ad bin Zāedah Saqafi related to him that Ubaydullāh dispatched sixty or seventy people from the clan of Qays, under the command of Abdullāh bin Abbās Salami with Muhammad bin Ash'as, and they came to the house where Muslim was present.

In Kāmile Bahāi it is stated that when Muslim bin Aqeel heard the voice of the neighing of the horses, he recited the supplications speedily. Then he wore his armor and told Taw'ah,

“Verily you have done goodness and have favored me, and you have earned your share of intercession of the Holy Prophet of Allāh (S) who is the Master of men and genie. Last night I had seen my uncle, the Commander of the Faithful Imām Ali (A), in a dream, who told me that tomorrow I would be alongside him.”

In one of the books of Martyrdom (Maqātil), it is stated that when the time of morning Prayers drew near, Taw'ah brought some water for Muslim so that he may perform his ablutions and said,

O my master! Haven't you slept the previous night”?

Muslim replied,

“I slept for sometime and I saw my uncle, the Commander of the Faithful (A), commanding me to hasten and finish speedily, hence I have concluded that today is the last day of my life.”

In Kāmil Bahāi it is stated that when the troops of the enemies reached the house of Taw'ah, Muslim feared lest they would burn her house and hence came outside and slew forty-two men.

Sayyid Ibn Tāwoos and Shaikh Ja'far Ibn Nimā says, that Muslim wore his armor and mounted his horse and striking them with his sword pushed them away from the house.

Regarding the mounting of Muslim upon his horse has been narrated by Sayyid ibn Tāwoos and Ibn Nimā only, and I have found no one else stating it, while all other statements bear testimony to it. It has been specifically mentioned by Mas'oodi in Murujuz Zahab, that before entering the house of Taw'ah, Muslim had mounted his horse, and that then he alighted from his horse and started wandering in the streets of Kufā. He did not know as to which way he was going until he reached the house of a slave girl of Ash'as bin Qays and asked for water. She gave him water to drink and asked him as to who his was. Muslim introduced himself to her, and she was moved and invited him to be her guest.

Abul Faraj says that when Muslim heard the sound of the hooves of the horses and voices of the people, he perceived that they had come for him and he unsheathed his sword. The people had entered the house and scattered therein, seeing this he attacked them fiercely. When they saw this, they ran up to the roof and started hurling stones and burning wood upon his head. When Muslim saw this he muttered to himself,

“Verily this struggle is for the sake of the murder of the son of Aqeel. O my self! Go forth to­wards the inevitable death.”

Then he drew his sword and confronted them in the streets.

Mas'oodi and others say that when combat ensued between Muslim bin Aqeel (A) and Bukayr bin Humrān Ahmari, Bukayr struck the mouth of Muslim bin Aqeel with his sword, which cut the upper lip and landed on the lower one cutting it too. Muslim dealt a terrible blow upon his head and another on his shoulder, which reached his stomach. Muslim was reciting the following Rajaz:

“I swear, I will only be killed as a free man, although I consider death as something horrible, every man one day will meet an evil, I fear that I will be cheated and deluded.”

When Muhammad bin Ash'as saw this, he went up to him and said,

“We shall not lie to you nor commit deceit.”

Then he offered Muslim protection, hence Muslim accepted his offer. They mounted him on a mule and took him to the presence of Ubaydullāh bin Ziyād. When Muhammad ibn Ash'as offered protec­tion to Muslim, he took away the sword and other arms from him. A poet points out to Muhammad's satire in these words:

“You abandoned your uncle and were sluggish in assisting him, Alas! he would have acquired a secured place if you had not been there, Alas! you killed the one sent by the Progeny of Muhammad (S), you shamelessly pulled away the sword and shield off him.”

While the above couplet refers to the incident of Hujr bin Adi regarding whom it shall be discussed later.

He killed forty-one people out of them. Muhammad bin Abu Tālib says that when Muslim had killed numerous men, and this news reached Ubaydullāh, he dispatched someone to Muhammad bin Ash'as with a message that,

“We have sent you to (fight) a single man and commanded you to bring him to us, while a severe crack is visible among your men. Then what would be your state if we sent you to someone other than him”?

Muhammad replied back,

“O commander! Do you think that you have sent us in pursuit of a vegetable vendor of Kufā or a foreign refugee? Do you not know that you have sent us against a ferocious lion, a swordsman, and a renowned champion, who is from the family of the best of creations.”

Ubaydullāh sent a reply saying,

“Offer protection to him until you gain control over him.”

In some books it is stated that Muslim was like a lion, and the strength of his arms was such that he lifted up people with his hands and threw them on top of the roofs.

Sayyid Ibn Tāwoos in his Malhoof writes, that when Muslim (A) heard the sound of the hooves of the horses, he wore his armor and mounted his horse. Then he attacked the army of Ubaydullāh until he had killed numerous among them. Muhammad bin Ash'as called out to him in a loud voice,

“O Muslim! There is protection for you.”

When Muslim heard him he said,

“How can one rely upon the promise of deceptors and evil doers”?

Then he turned towards then and started fighting while reciting the Rajaz of Humrān bin Mālik Khas'ami:

“I swear, I will only be killed as a freeman, although I consider death as something horrible. Or it turns the cold into 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.”

Then the army raised a hue and cry and called out,

“No one shall lie to you nor deceive you”,

but he did not pay any heed to their words. Then a large battalion attacked him, he received numerous wounds on his body and a man dealt a blow from behind with his lance. Muslims fell off his horse and was arrested.

In Manāqib of Ibn Shahr Āshob it is written that Muslim bin Aqeel (A) was wounded such severely with the arrows and stones, that he was exhausted and sat with his back leaning against a wall. Then he said,

“What is the matter that you have been hurling stones at me as is done to an infidel, while I am from the Household of the ethical Prophet. Do you not have regard for the Household (Ahlul Bayt) of the Prophet due to his right”?

Then Muhammad bin Ash'as said,

“Do not kill yourself, verily you are under my protection.”

Muslim replied,

“I shall not surrender to be imprisoned by you until the strength remains within me, by Allāh, this will never happen.”

Saying this he attacked them and they fled away. Then Muslim said,

“O Allāh! Thirst is killing me.”

Then they attacked him from all sides and Bukayr bin Humrān Ahmari cut off his upper lip with a stroke of his sword. Then Muslim dealt him a blow with his scimitar, which pierced his stomach and killed him. Then someone attacked him from behind with a spear and he fell down from his horse and was thus arrested.

Shaikh Mufeed, Jazari and Abul Faraj say that Muslim was utterly wounded and was exhausted while fighting. Then, breathing heavily, he came and sat with his back (leaning) towards the wall of a house. Muhammad bin Ash'as came near him and said that he would give him protection. Muslim turned towards the people and asked whether they all agreed to it and they an­swered in the affirmative except Ubaydullāh (or Abdullāh) bin Abbās Salami, who said that,

“I have nothing to do with it”,

saying this he stepped aside. Muslim replied,

“By Allāh! If you do not grant me security, I will never place my hand in yours.”

They brought a mule and mounted him on it. They surrounded him from all sides and took away his sword. Muslim was now utterly disappointed, tears started flowing from his eyes. He realized that these people would ultimately kill him and hence said,

“This is the first betrayal.”

Muhammad bin Ash'as said,

“I hope that there will be no danger for you.”

Muslim said,

“Is there only a hope? Then where is your promise of protection? Verily we are Allāh's, and verily unto him shall we return.”

Then he started weeping, and Ubaydullāh bin Abbās Salami said,

“The person who desires what you have desired and when he comes in a state in which you are now, he should not weep.”

Muslim replied,

“I do not weep for myself nor do I fear being killed, even though I do not befriend being killed, but I weep for my relatives and the people of my household, who would be reach­ing here shortly, and I weep for Husayn and his family.”

Then Muslim turned towards Muhammad bin Ash'as and said,

“I believe that you are unable to fulfill the promise of security.”

Then he desired that a messenger be sent to Imām Husayn (A) to apprise him of the situation so that he may not come there.

Shaikh Mufeed relates that Muslim told Muhammad bin Ash'as that,

“O slave of Allāh! I see that you are unable to fulfill the promise of security that you have given me, then you may perform a good act. Dispatch someone to­wards Imām Husayn (A), who would narrate my words to him. For I think that today or tomorrow he might proceed to come here with his household. The messenger should convey to him that he has been sent by Muslim bin Aqeel, who has been arrested by them, and he presumes that before today evening he might be killed. He sends message that: May my parents be your ransom! You along with your Household may retreat back, do not let the people of Kufā deceive you. These are the very same companions of your father, regarding whom your blessed father (Imām Ali) desired that he would die and thus be relieved of them. The people of Kufā have lied to you, and the one who has been lied has no judgment.”

Hearing this Muhammad bin Ash'as replied,

“By Allāh! I shall surely convey your message.”

Azdi relates from Ja'far bin Huzayfa that Muhammad bin Ash'as called Ayās bin Atal Tai, who was from the children of Mālik bin Umro bin Samāmah. Ayās was a poet and was the confidante of Muhammad, who told him,

“Go to the presence of Imām Husayn (A) and present him this letter.”

Then he wrote down the contents, which Muslim had told him and said,

“These are the provisions for your journey and these are expenses for your family (in your absence).”

Ayās replied,

“I am in need of a mount, for my Camel has turned feeble.”

Muhammad replied,

“Take this saddled Camel of mine and go.”

Ayās left and after a lapse of four nights reached Imām Husayn (A) at Zubālah and conveyed the message to him and handed him the letter of Muslim. After hearing him Imām Husayn (A) said,

“Whatever has been destined shall occur, and we desire from Allāh to judge between ourselves and the mis­chief of the people.”

When Muslim bin Aqeel (A) had taken shelter in the house of Hāni bin Urwāh and eighteen thousand people had taken the oath of fealty to him, Muslim dispatched Ābis bin Abi Shabeeb Shakiri with a letter to Imām Husayn (A) which read as follows:

“Now then! The one who goes in search of water does not lie regarding it to his family. Eighteen thousand men from among the people of Kufā have sworn the oath of fealty to me, hence hasten as soon as you receive my letter, for all the people are with you while their view and desire are not with the progeny of Mu'āwiyah. Greetings.”

The above-referred letter has also been quoted in Museerul Ehzān, which was dispatched along with Ābis bin Abi Shabeeb Shakiri and Qays bin Musah­hir Saydawi,

“Now then! The one who goes in search of water does not lie regarding it to his family. All the people of Kufā are on your side and eighteen thousand men from among them have taken the oath of allegiance to me. As soon as you read my letter, hasten, peace be upon you and Allāh's Mercy and Blessings.”



Nafasul Mahmum, Relating to the heart rending tragedy of Karbala', Sheikh Abbas Qummi, ISLAMIC STUDY CIRCLE, Mumbai, India