Friday 14th of June 2024
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Martyrdom in Karbala

The Philosophy of the Martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.)

By: Rasul Jafariyan
Translated by: Zahra' Shuja Khani

As a sacred religious movement and as a revolutionary political step the epic of Karbala is the most crucial religio- political uprising in the political culture of the Shi ah. This movement aimed at the revival of the religious laws, the elimination of religious and political deviation, and (as some believe) there placement of the Umayyid regime with the Alawid rule and Imamate. As far as the achievement of its objectives is concerned, the Karbala movement (depending on the perspective) could be said to have been successful from one angle and unsuccessful from another - a political setback, if it is said that its aim was to solely eliminate the rule of the Umayyids and to establish Alawid rule; and a spiritual victory if we took into view that it did succeed in establishing the religious and the fundamental spiritual objectives in the Islamic society. However, if one does not consider the elimination of the Umayyid rule as one of the objectives of Imam Husayn (A.S.), the concept of political setback no longer holds any meaning.
The Karbala movement could be considered as a feasible political endeavour for returning the power of the state to the household of Imam Ali (A.S.). This matter however requires a deeper explanation. There is not the slightest doubt that following the passing away of the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.), Imam Ali (A.S.) found himself deprived of his rightful position, but preferred to keep silent for certain reasons. After the death of Umar bin al-Khattab, it was expected that his rights would be restored to him and, therefore, his followers like Miqdad bin Aswad and Ammar bin Yasir made serious efforts in this direction but these efforts did not bear much fruit. Consequently, during the period of Uthman bin Affan, Imam Ali (A.S.) could foresee that under the new circumstances the leadership of the society faced a gloomy future. At the same time, the insistence of the people -after the murder of Uthman - gave rise to optimism. Nevertheless, his hopes for -establishing the Qur'anic concept of - the leadership of the Ummah, in its truest sense, despite his tireless struggle during the four year and nine month period of his rule, were stifled. The efforts of Imam Hasan (A.S.), too, were soon crushed and a 20-year period until the death of Muawiyah lay in wait. Imam Husayn (A.S.) patiently endured this period - the first ten years along with his brother Imam Hasan (A.S.) - although he did raise political objections against Muawiyah from time to time, and particularly, on the issue of the killing of the prominent adherents of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt ('a).
Talks of Yazid taking on as his successor were raised during the last years of the dishonourable life of Muawiyah against the clauses of the treaty with Imam Hasan (A.S.). Imam Husayn (A.S.) protested even though there was not much hope and moreover, as the Imam, he could not remain silent.
After Yazid assumed power and demanded allegiance from him, Imam Husayn (A.S.) left Madinah in protest and set out for Makkah. It was at this point some rays of hope appeared to shine on the eastern horizon. Although Iraq had in the past been the cause of disappointment and let-down, the fresh rays could not be ignored; and if at all any change could be expected it would have to be from Iraq ant not from Syria or Hijaz. The important question was: would it be possible to overthrow the Umayyid regime with the help of the Iraqi Muslims, among whom the number of Shiahs was substantial, and to establish an Alawid rule? From the look of it, it appeared that the widespread support of the people of Iraq - the news of which had reached the Imam (A.S.) - spoke encouragingly of such a possibility to some extent. However, when Imam Husayn (A.S.) arrived in Kufa the conditions had changed and he was faced with the army of Ibn Ziyad who insisted on his surrender and on bidding allegiance to Yazid, which the Imam (A.S.) firmly declined to do, as a result of which, he and his handful of companions were forced to martyrdom in Karbala.
To explain the above discussion in other words, the Karbala movement could also be called a political endeavour towards the establishment of Alawid rule in a society that was considered to be an Islamic society!
All the prominent figures of the Talibiyyin family, except Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah, Ali bin al-Husayn (A.S.), Abdullah bin Jafar and a few other, were martyred in Karbala, revealing what could be considered as a very dangerous move to eliminate the entire household of the Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.). The question that now lurked was regarding what the remaining members of this family would have to do. If one is familiar with the life history of Imam Ali bin al-Husayn (A.S.) -popularly known as Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A.S.) - it would not be hard to realize how the Imam (A.S.) had to bid farewell to any military policies and it becomes clear that he saw no room for any politico-military move under the given conditions. Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A.S.) neither deliberated upon waging an uprising nor did he cooperate with the anti-Umayyid and the pro-Alawid politico military movements, although he might have sympathy for them. He adhered to this policy to such an extent that he instead managed to launch an academic campaign and benefited others with his vast religious knowledge. It is apparent that had there been even the slightest suspicion of the Imam (A.S.) being involved in any political move, people like Ibn Shihab Zuhari would not have praised him to the extent that they did. Despite this stand adopted by him, The Forth Imam (A.S.) continued to remain the rightful Imam of the Shiahs and his fiqh, his supplications, and his personality were acclaimed among them to be exemplary within the conception of the Imamate.
Following the martyrdom of Imam Ali bin al-Husayn (A.S.), the Shi'ite community was divided into two groups. One group followed the Imam's (A.S.) approach while the other group believed in a revolutionary approach. While the leadership of the first group lay with Fourth Imam's (A.S.) older son, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A.S.) - the testamentary legatee - who was later martyred in 114 or 117AH, the other group thought that the leader was his younger son Zayd bin Ali who was martyred at around forty years of in 122 AH. Zayd respected his brother - as the 5 Imam - but at the same time seriously believed in a revolutionary movement. At the time when he began his military move, his brother Imam Baqir (A.S.) had already departed from this world and the leadership of his followers lay with his son Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A.S.). The Shi'ite mood was divided with some supporting Zayd and believing in a revolutionary move, the majority, however, followed Imam Sadiq (A.S.), who continued to follow the policies of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A.S.) and Imam Baqir (A.S.) Although Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and his followers had great respect for Zayd and even considered the intention and motive behind his uprising as pure, they did not however see any wisdom in taking revolutionary action under the prevalent conditions. According to Imam Sadiq (A.S.), who was now the leader of the Imam Shiahs, such moves would only end in martyrdom.
An interesting point is that Zayd had discovered a lack of support from a section of the Shiahs due to a shortage of supporters, he invited all the Muslim groups to participate in his uprising. There are many evidences that people from all sects were active in his uprising and sympathized with his approach.
This issue of the participation of non-Shi'ites in the uprising fell outside the general line that the Shiahs normally maintained for themselves. Following the Karbala incident, the Shiahs had lost faith in what was called the common Muslim populace. In other words, they considered them as deviants from the original Islamic path. At this juncture, Zayd might not have stressed this conviction since the Khawarij, the Murji'ah, and the Mu'tazilah participated in his uprising; and even if any of the Imami Shiahs had intended to be the ashabal-sayf (lit. the men of sword), they would have been left with no choice but to follow the path of Zayd. On the other hand, the limited Shi'ite population was in no position to initiate any widespread movement.
The problem that lay ahead was that was is a movement were to be initiated along with the cooperation of all the Muslim sects not only would the stability of such a movement be subject to doubt but it would also demand that the Shi'ites move out of their basic paradigms of belief and jurisprudence. Moreover, even if such a movement were to succeed in establishing a rulership, it would not be left with much future choice but to end up as the Abbasid were to do – in future. It is well-known that although the Abbasids had initiated a Shiite movement, after gaining power it was not possible for them (chiefly because of their lack of legitimacy compared to the Alawids) to establish a Shiite rule in a society loosely made up of the common populace. The only thing they could manage to do was to coerce the society into pursuing another path through extremely violent means.
Having said this, the question that faces us now is: how and why the Imam Shiahs, in spite of preferring to be known as the ashab al-Imamah rather than as the ashab al-sayf managed to keep alive the revolutionary spirit of the Karbala movement? As regards the followers of Zayd (later to be called the Zaydiyyah), Karbala was the beginning of a revolutionary military movement that culminated in the movements of Zayd and his son Yahya. However, the question that remains is: what was the interpretation given by the Imami Shiahs to the Karbala uprising?
It is supposed that there were two basic approaches towards Karbala incident with several other intermediate approaches leaning towards either of these two main ones. While according to one of these basic approaches, the Karbala incident was related exclusively to the person of Imam Husayn (A.S.) who had in mind certain specific objectives, as per the second approach, the Karbala movement was of a political nature and was initiated either for purpose of overthrowing the Umayyid rulership or was launched with some other political objectives in consideration. Our aim in the course of this discussion is to throw light upon the causes that led to the popularity of the Sufi interpretation of the Karbala movement. For now we would need to admit that whenever the Shiahs were faced with, either internal or external problems, one of these two interpretations became predominant. At this point we will put aside the historical approach in analysing this development and will focus mainly on the intellectual themes.

Sentimentality and a Political Interpretation
One of the dimensions of the Karbala incident is its sentimental angle. There is no doubt that with the martyrdom of more than sixteen members of the household of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the brutal nature of the incident, the Karbala episode inflicted deep wound in the heart of the Shiite community and the sentimental effects of that incident immediately manifested within the Shi'ites. The Tawwabin (Penitents) were the first group to have been affected by this aspect of the incident and since they considered themselves guilty for their earlier actions of failing to come to the Imam's help in Karbala - in this case they chose the path of martyrdom without any clear political aspirations. It is known that before leaving Kufa for Syria, they visited the grave of Imam Husayn (A.S.) and spent several days mourning bitterly for him. This was indeed a remarkable phenomenon even in the society of those times. In any case, the martyrdom of more than sixteen members of the household of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and that too in such an exceptionally gruesome manner was hard to bear and, thus, the grief that ensued planted itself as a permanent phenomenon within the hearts of the Shiites. Considering the importance that the Imam (A.S.) gave to the mourning for Imam Husayn (A.S.) and to visiting his tomb, it is not hard to understand that the sentimental dimension of the Karbala incident carved a niche for itself rapidly within the Shiah community and even attracted the attention of some Sunni groups; and gradually the custom of the annual Ashura mourning ceremonies took shape. The Shiite literature too, became an elegy-based literature under the impact of this incident and the other gruesome incidents that were inflicted upon the Shi ahs (both Zaydi and Imami).
Thus, it would be important to trace the effects of this sentimental-literary move in the Shiah community. Since then the name of Imam Husayn (A.S.) became inevitably attached with mourning and the Ashura incident came to be considered as the most significant tragedy of history. Mourning and visiting the blessed tomb of the Imam (A.S.) promised unlimited thawab (Divine reward). This sentimental angle gradually grew in dimension and the martyrdom anniversaries of the other Imams (A.S.), too, came to be considered as days of mourning.
A review of the sentimental dimensions of the Karbala incident could help us to shed more light on the subject under discussion. Our question was regarding what was the cause of the political and the Sufi interpretation of the Karbala incident and which of these two approaches had a stronger hold among the Shiah community. There is no doubt that giving importance to the sentimental aspect of an incident could indirectly keep the memories of that incident alive and in some ways transfer its political importance to the future generations. However, it should be kept in mind that this kind of an approach would not directly help in arriving at any specific political interpretation. The purpose of arriving at a direct political interpretation would be to make Imam Husayn's (A.S.) movement a model to be repeated. But them such an interpretation would not be commensurate with the notion of considering that movement as unique in its nature and effect.

The Two Experiences of Peace and Revolt
The other point to be taken into consideration is that according to the Imami Shiah different and diverse actions taken by all the Imam (A.S.) are all of equal religious validity. Prior to the Karbala incident, the Shiite community had experienced Imam Hasan's (A.S.) peace treaty. The specific conditions of those days called for a compromise with the tyrannical rule (of Mu'awiyah). Moreover, if we took into consideration the arguments relating to the differences in the general conditions that prevailed within the Islamic society during the two different periods of Imam Hasan's (A.S.) peace treaty and Imam Husayn's (A.S.) uprising, we would certainly be left at least with an understanding for the need and wisdom of the two diverse policies during the two different periods. Although such varying decisions are logical and rational by their very nature, the question that arises is that: which of the two policies were repeated by the other Imams (A.S.) in the following periods? As stated earlier, following the revolutionary Karbala movement the infallible Imams (A.S.) adopted a peaceful strategy where as the Zaydi leaders proceeded on the basis of the revolutionary stance of the Karbala movement. The purpose here is not to make an evaluation of the outcomes of these two different approaches, the intention is rather to recognize why the following Imams (A.S.) opted apparently for a peaceful strategy rather than a revolutionary one. This is an undeniable fact that history testifies. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the adoption of the peaceful policies by the Imams (A.S.) did not mean that they gave consent to the legitimacy of the rule of the time, nor did it in any way imply that they had given up their rights towards the official and political leadership of the society. Rather, it only meant that they did not find it feasible to resort to military and revolutionary means in the given conditions. A similar type of experience can be witnessed in the life of the Shiite scholars and jurisprudents during different periods through history. To get a better glimpse of this experience, attention should be paid to the arguments between Shaykh Ibrahim Qatifi and Muhaqqiq Karaki over the issue of cooperating and collaborating with the newly established Safawid rule(in Iran at the start of the 16 century cooperation with the Safawid government on the historical experience of Imam Hasan (A.S.).(1)
Having explained the above points it is now possible to arrive at another conclusion on the political and Sufi interpretations of the Karbala incident, that is, the adoption of such a policy could reduce the importance of the political interpretation of the Karbala movement and instead add to the importance of its Sufi interpretation.
What needs to be emphasized here is that the aim of this paper is not to discuss the characteristics of the policies adopted by the Imams (A.S.) for in that case we would have to mark two distinct periods in the policies adopted by them viz., the period of academic and scholarly activities that continued until the times of Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and the period of the wikalat system (system of representation) that began during the days of Imam Musa al-Kazim (A.S.). Prior to this, the Abbasids had begun the system of sending Dais - a system in which they would invite people to religiosity - which was also practiced by the Imami Shiites as well as the Ismailis. But, like the Zaydiyyah, these two movements, too, were never distinguished as the periods of academic and scholarly activities.

The Experience of Politics or Culture
It should be noted that since the policy adopted by the Imams (A.S.) was to indulge in cultural activities and to avoid any serious involvement in politics -mainly far the purpose of forming a Shi'ite community, which they did manage to form, protect, and lead in those days - the Imami Shi'ites did not give any credibility to the ruling powers and instead awaited the reappearance of the 12th Imam (A.S.), who is popularly known as the Mahdi al-Qa'im (A.S.), without feeling any need to get directly involved in politics. Later on, based on the policy of taqiyyah (dissimulation) and also as a general policy adopted by them from the time of the Imams (A.S.) in order to penetrate into the caliphate system, gradually the Shiites began to gain proximity with the rulers. The outcome of this trend was that despite its significant political background, the Shiahs gradually came to lean towards mysticism or at least their fiqh became devoid of any politics. Thus, the question that arises is: how Imam Husayn's (A.S.) martyrdom would be interpreted under such conditions? Was there any other alternative but the upsurge in the Sufi interpretations of the philosophy behind this incident? In this regard, Hamid Inayat a contemporary Iranian writer expresses his view in the following words (this point of view should, however, be taken into consideration with due caution):
With the increasing inclination of the Shi'ites towards the compromising policy of taqiyyah and their acceptance of the ruling system, the issue of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) as being a sacrificial move for the Ummah, was interpreted by the revolutionary Shiahs as a move that breathed strength into their struggle. At the same time, mourning and weeping over the incident rather than relating to it as the source of political awareness, popularly became the only recognized objective of Imam Husayn's (A.S.) movement and struggle. This trend can notably be observed from the titles of most of the Maqtals and the narrations written on the Karbala episode, viz., the Miftah al-Buka (The Keys to Tears), Tufan al-Buka (The Storm of Tears), Muhit al-Buka (The Ocean of Tears), Muthir al-Ahzan (The Evoker of Sorrows), Luhuf (Height of Grief). Interestingly, one rarely comes across a narration of the incident, suggesting gallant retribution; and the overall inclination is to render a lamenting, elegy like narration of the incidents that took place in Karbala.(2)
What needs to be mentioned here is that throughout Shi'ite history there have been people who have emphasized on the political aspect of the Karbala movement. However, it would be important to identify the popularly predominant approach towards this tragedy.

The Concept of "Imam"
The third point that could throw light on this discussion is the perception of the concept and the status of the Imam in the political and spiritual thought of Imam Shi'ah. As we know, except for Imam Ali (A.S.) and his son Imam Hasan (A.S.), none of the other Imams (A.S.) held any political position and this fact also applies to Imam Reza (A.S.) with the only exception being that the Eighth Imam (A.S.), who had openly declined Ma'mun's invitation, was forced by him to accept his offer. Moreover, Imam Reza (A.S.) had laid down the condition that he would not get involved in any political affairs - major or minor. The question now is regarding the impact that the distancing of the Imams (A.S.) from political leadership would have on the concept of Imamate among the Shi'ites. There is no doubt that this would naturally add to the spiritual importance of the concept of Imam. The trend of the growth of tajarrud (seclusion from involvement in worldly affairs) in the concept of wilayah could have stemmed from this non-political, historical experience of the concept of Imam. Wilayah was originally a kind of political guardianship (3) that was defined on the basis of the sublime and matchless qualifications of knowledge and action in the Imam. However, the Sufi interpretation of this concept came to gain precedence as a result of the political abstinence opted by the Imams (A.S.) in the given conditions, and thus, instead of being employed in political affairs this concept came to be applied popularly in its metaphysical sense.
Likewise, a non-involvement in active politics in its true sense induced a focusing on different aspects of the ahadith. Discussions on the characteristics of the Imam as well as the purview of his power and authority reveal that more attention was paid to the Imam's (A.S.) meta-political dimension rather than his political dimension as that of a ruler.
Under such conditions it would not be difficult to guess how an incident likes that of Karbala, which also had a clear and well-defined political and revolutionary message, dissolved into a Sufi trend in the interpretation of Imamate.

The Influence of the Ghulat (pl. of Ghali)
It should be noted that the Ghulat, too, did not play any less of a role in converting the concept of Imamate and the gruesome Karbala incident into a non-political one. They exerted a strong influence the concept of Imamate from politics by attributing an exaggerated metaphysical character to the Imams (A.S.). A glance at the narrations from and about the Ghulat could reveal the extent of their insistence and obduracy in rendering a non-political essence to the concept of Imamate. The dispute between the Shi'ites and the Ghulat was principally over the attribution of a divine status to the Imamate. It is interesting to take note that in explanation of the Qur'anic verse which states, Huwa alladhi fial-sama' Ilah wa fi al-arz Ilah (He is God in Heaven and God on Earth), the Ghulat claim that the terms ilah on earth is in reference to the Imams (A.S.). However, this very misinterpretation prompted Imam Sadiq (A.S.) to declare them as having deviated further than the Zoroastrians, the Christians, the Jews, and even the polytheists.(4)
The question that arises at this point is whether such exaggerated Ghulat claims and beliefs over the divinity of the Imams (A.S.) were merely confined to the concept of Imamate or whether they applied to other areas as well. The point to note is that since the authorities on the science of hadith have insisted on declaring some of the Ghali narrators (ruwat) as unreliable, while also expressing doubts on such works as Basa'ir, proves that their exaggerations were not confined to the attribution of divine status to the concept of Imamate. Instead of attempting to pass any judgement on the Ghali outlook, the main purpose of this inquiry is to reveal that the attributes given to the Imams (A.S.) in such works prove that the Ghulat were more interested in highlighting the role of Wilayah in the metaphysical realms than in the realm active politics.
It is now appropriate for us to enter into a discussion on the Ghali views on Imam Husayn (A.S.) and the political aspect of his movement that apparent to have ended in defeat. It can be discovered that very strangely, the Ghulat have gone to the extent of comparing the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) in the Karbala incident, to the fate of Prophet Jesus (A.S.). Their main concern was to find a way to gracefully justify the sufferings of the Waliyy Allah and, thus, they decided to liken the situation of Imam Husayn (A.S.) on the day of Ashura with that of Prophet Jesus (S.A.W.) on the day of his claimed crucifixion! According to the Ghulat, in the same way that the Jews unknowingly crucified someone else in the place of Prophet Jesus (A.S.), the people of Kufa, too had killed a person by the name of Hanzalah bin Asad al-Shami in place of Imam Husayn (A.S.). It would not be out of place to quote a certain narration on this topic. Allamah Majlisi has recorded this narration in the following words:
Ibn Babawayh has narrated, based on an authentic source, that one day AbaSalt Hirawi related to Imam Reza (A.S.) that there was a group in Kufa which claimed that Husayn bin Ali (A.S.) was not killed in Karbala and that instead Allah had caused Hanzalah bin As as al-Shami to resemble him, and had drawn Imam Husayn (A.S.) into the heavens in the same manner as Prophet Jesus (A.S.); and they narrate the following verse as a proof to their claim: ...And Allah will by no means give the unbelievers a way against the believers. (4:141) (To this) The Imam (A.S.) replied: They are lying. May the wrath and curse of Allah descend upon them! By refuting the news that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) had given regarding the martyrdom of (Imam) Husayn (A.S.) they have turned into unbelievers. I swear by Allah that (Imam) Husayn (A.S.) was killed and even those superior to him, like the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (A.S.), and (Imam) Hasan (A.S.) were killed. Every single member of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) has been and shall be killed; and I too, shall be poisoned to martyrdom with deceit and malice. This news has reached me through the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) who was informed about it by Gabriel, who was in turn made aware of this by Allah. What is implied in this verse by Allah is that the unbelievers shall never succeed in invalidating the reasoning (hujjah) of the believers. How could their interpretation of the verse be valid when Allah has informed us of the unjust killings of His Prophets (A.S.) in the Glorious Qur'an, and (it was in fact) the reasoning of the prophets (A.S.)(that) had always prevailed over that of their opponents and their veracity was known to one and all.(5)
There is another narration according to which there was a note written in the handwriting of the Twelfth Imam (A.S.) himself, stating that the allegation of those who claim that Imam Husayn (A.S.) was not killed is blasphemous, and is equal to refuting the words of the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) and the Imams (A.S.), and proves that they are deviated and have gone astray.(6) The source books of the Ghulat, too, contain such beliefs on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.). In the book al-Haft al-Sharif min Faza'il Mawlana Jafar al-Sadiq there is a section entitled Fi Marifah Qatl al-Husayn ala al-Batin fi Zaman Bani Umayyah (On the Esoteric Knowledge of the Killing of Husayn (A.S.) in the Times of the Bani Umayyah) that contains similar exaggerations on the issue.(7)
As stated earlier, such exaggerations about the Imams (A.S.) basically resulted in the reduction of the political importance of the concept of Imamate among the Shi'ites. If we took into consideration the fact that the Christians only give importance to the metaphysical aspect of alleged crucifixion of Prophet Jesus (A.S.) rather than its political aspect, it would than not be very difficult to gauge the depth of the impact of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) and its comparison to Prophet Jesus (A.S.). In a discussion on the comparison between Imam Husayn (A.S.) and Prophet Jesus (A.S.), in his book Himasih-ye Husayni, Martyr Mutahhari also makes a reference to the error made by some people in applying the belief of the Christians about the supposed sacrifice of the Masih to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.).(8) According to this belief, just as Prophet Jesus (A.S.) consented to being crucified in order to compensate for the sins of his followers, in the same manner Imam Husayn (A.S.), too, opted for martyrdom.

Politics and the Philosophy of Martyrdom
This discussion can begin by providing the answer to an important question on the incident of Karbala, as regards the basic philosophy behind Imam Husayn's (A.S.) martyrdom. What was the philosophy of Imam Husayn's (A.S.) martyrdom? Was this martyrdom political in nature or was it spiritual? Had the incident ended in a political victory there would be no room for the presence of such a question, however, Imam Husayn (A.S.) was killed by the Umayyid army and the members of his household were taken captives and were dragged from one town to another. Keeping this in consideration, what could the aim of such a move be? In other words, what was Allah's purpose in putting His chosen servant (waliyy) through such a plight? The answer provided by some people was that Allah decreed this tragedy on Imam Husayn (A.S.) and his companions so that they could be given a more exalted status in heaven. This answer distances the Imam's move from its political aspect, even though there may be two different evaluations about the achievements of the Karbala movement. The concept of Inna Allaha sha'aan-yaraka qatila could have led some people to believe that Imam Husayn (A.S.) and his companions were martyred for their own sake; implying that since they were dear to Allah and because Allah loved them so dearly, they were called to Him in this manner.
We have mentioned earlier in the discussion that although this view does not possibly contradict the political objectives of the movement, it does however apparently promote the idea that the Karbala episode was merely a personal, spiritual movement rather than a general political one. This answer would certainly lead to another question, viz., what was the outcome of this move for the followers of the Imam (A.S.)? One possible conclusion was that Imam Husayn (A.S.) was martyred so that others could benefit in the Hereafter from the rewards for mourning his martyrdom. We have repeatedly mentioned that our argument is not over the issue of gaining of thawab by mourning and weeping for the Imam (A.S.), but the point to note is rather that these kinds of answers and conclusions gave the impetus and paved the path for the prevalence of Sufi and not the political interpretations of the Karbala incident. Allamah Majlisi, who also held a politically inclined interpretation about the Karbala movement, makes a mention of the benefits that Imam Husayn (A.S.) offers his followers, in these words:
And it should be understood that these apparent worldly humiliations have in fact added to their [the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)] honour, because a friend of Allah is never degraded. Those who intended to belittle them are only mentioned on the face of the earth with curse and despise; their children have perished, and no one knows the whereabouts of their graves. Allah, the Almighty, has elevated the names of those noble beings [the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)] and their knowledge and charisma has filled the world; and both their friends as well as their enemies send them salutations in their salat or otherwise, and seek their mediation (Shifa'at)in appealing to Allah for their worldly requirements. The surfaces of pulpits and edifices as well as coins are beautified with their names and even kings and rulers bow at their doorsteps wholeheartedly and earnestly.
Everyday thousands of people are granted forgiveness for their sake and thousands of people become worthy of entering Paradise for cursing their enemies. Thousands of people shed their sins by weeping and mourning for them and thousands of people achieve eternal salvation for spreading their words and their ahadith. Thousands of people gain marifah and certitude through their ahadith and thousands more achieve sublime levels in ethics by following their Tradition and works. Thousands of physically and spiritually blind people are healed in their holy shrines and thousands more who suffer from physical and psychological diseases are cured through the elevated stations of their healing shrines and their unparalleled knowledge.(9)

The Sufi Outlook
A glance at the Sufi tenets on the concept of Wilayah and its applicability could make our task easier. It should not be taken for granted that despite the existing political inclinations of some Sufis, Sufism is essentially a spiritual trend and is, by its very nature, separated from politics. The concept of leadership has changed into Wilayah in Sufism and the term awliya (pl. of waliyy) is a part of the identity of Sufi thought. For the Sufis, the concept of Wilayah was more of a metaphysical nature and did not have much to do with earthly affairs; and if a tall it had anything to do with the people on earth it was merely in order to connect them with the heavens and to disconnect them from the world. When the concept of Sufism prevailed in the sixth century AH, the Imams (A.S.), too, came to be included in the chain of awliya and aqtab (spiritual poles). Prior to this, the life history of some Imams (A.S.) had appeared in Abu Naim Isfahani's book, Hulyah al-Awliya , but this trend became widespread when the life sketches of all the twelve Imams (A.S.) appeared in some Sufi works, following which, the Wilayah of the Imams (A.S.) came to be accepted, along with that of other Sufi aqtab. There was, however, an issue that remained unresolved and over which there existed some disputes. This was the issue of the Khatamal-Wilayah (the Seal on Divine Guardianship), who according to Muhy al-Dinbin al-Arabi was Prophet Jesus (A.S.), and to which the Shi'ite Sufi, Sayyid Haydar Amuli sharply reacted, proving that the Khatam al-Awliya was Imam Ali bin Talib (A.S.) and not Jesus (A.S.).(10)
Gradually, Sufism became so widespread in the world of Islam, and particularly in the East, that it came to influence, both the Sunnis and the Shiites. The Sunni Sufis got interested in the Imams (A.S.) and began to mention them in their books. Khwajah Muhammad Parsa, an outstanding Naqshbandiyyah Sufi leader, in his book Fasl al-Khitab then included the life histories of the twelve Shi'ite Imams (A.S.), and Hafiz Husayn Karbala'i, too, followed suit through his book, Rawzat al-Jinan wa Jannat al-Jinan. Similarly, the Sufi Fazlullah bin Ruzbihan Khunji wrote a commentary on the sending of salawat (salutations) to the fourteen Infallibles (A.S.) in his book, Wasilahal-Khadim ila al-Makhdum, and also declared that he accepted the Wilayah of the Imams (A.S.) on the condition that it is separated from the issue of caliphate.(11) It was at this juncture that in Sufi thought, the Imams (A.S.) came to be granted a non-political identity despite possessing Wilayah. And it was in such an atmosphere that the famous Sufi, Mulla Husayn Kashifi Sabziwari, wrote the book Rawzah al-Shuhada that became the chief source for rawzah-khwani or the traditional recitation of events of the tragedy of Karbala, form the Safawid period onwards.
The question that is raised is whether his book included his Sufi interpretation of the Karbala incident and the personality of Imam Husayn (A.S.) or not? The answer cannot obviously be negative, because it would not be possible for a person of such caliber to exclude his Sufi thoughts while writing this kind of a book. It is interesting to notice that from then onwards, the book written by a Sunni Sufi became the basis of most analyses on the Karbala movement and this had a great influence in transforming the movement from a political to a non-political or rather into a spiritual and emotional one, containing Sufi tendencies. It should also not be forgotten that the Safawids, too, had a Sufi background and for years, their government was under the obvious sway of a Sufi influence. As a result the social atmosphere was also affected by this trend and despite all the struggles of the Shiite jurists, this concept continued to persist and was never completely eradicated.

The Objective and the Issue of Prior Knowledge
Another issue that seems to have had a considerable impact on the disputes over the varying interpretations (the political and the Sufi) of the Karbala incident and the philosophy of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) is the argument of whether the Imam (A.S.) had prior knowledge of the fate of his uprising or not. The point is that for someone who is unaware of the fate of a struggle, there would naturally remain no option but to strive for victory over the enemy; and his victory would not merely remain confined to the struggle for the sake of victory but would eventually lead to the establishment of a new rule. The question, thus, would be that if Imam Husayn (A.S.) was supposed to have advanced knowledge about the incident, in such a case the assumption of a political victory, or the victory over the enemy, and the establishment of his rule would weaken. In other words, how could someone possibly follow specific political objectives if he were aware of his impending martyrdom? The views-not necessary correct - that have so far been expressed in this regard are as follows:
A) According to one view the issue of any kind of prior awareness is basically rejected, thus making it easy to reach an analysis over the issue under discussion. A glance at available sources reveals that this view is not widely supported by Shiite theologians and there also exist a large number of contrary historical evidences and ahadith, opposing this view.
B) Another reply that has been provided to this question is that Imam Husayn (A.S.) did know about his eventual martyrdom, but prior to his arrival in Karbala, he was not certain that it would occur in that very journey. In other words, he was aware of his martyrdom in general, but did not know about its details, time, and place. Based on this assumption, it would be possible to consider a specific political goal for the movement before arriving at Karbala and this objective could be the establishment of his rule.
C) The third reply is that we define the objective in a manner that would be commensurate with the Imam's (A.S.) prior knowledge of the incident. If the objective is considered merely to be the ouster of the existing rule, then it seems at least apparently, that there existed some paradoxes in the whole issue; but if the objective is taken to be a kind of sacrifice in order to set off a revolutionary movement, in that case the Imam's (A.S.) martyrdom would itself become of a political nature. This means that Imam Husayn (A.S.) was aware of his imminent martyrdom and yet chose to make this move in order to save the religion from further distortion. This kind of a move is not unusual among the revolutionary people of the world; however, the only problem is that such a political interpretation can be considered to be very limited. In other words, Imam Husayn's (A.S.) movement was mainly directed in order to reject certain existing conditions, but would it also indicate the intention for establishing new conditions? It means that this view does not prove that the Imam (A.S.) had any intentions of taking over from the existing rule but it only indicates that he made this move in order to expose the existing critical conditions and the corruption of the ruler. Of course, this objective should not be mistaken as being of a suicidal nature, as projected by some Sunni theologians of the yesteryears as well as some modern writers with a view to objecting to the Shi'ite beliefs, because as mentioned earlier, such a revolutionary approach is widely accepted by the intellect and the intellectuals. This overall view is advocated by many people.
D) Yet another view in this regard is that Imam Husayn's (A.S.) objective was amr bi'l-maruf wa nahy an al-munker (enjoining of good and forbidding from evil), and does not basically differ too much from the earlier view, excepting that if it is aimed at providing an answer to what has been referred to by some people as suicidal action, it would have to deny the Imam's (A.S.) prior knowledge about the incident. It should also be pointed out that if the advocates of this view do not wish to by some people as suicidal action, it would have to deny the Imam's (A.S.) prior knowledge about the incident. It should also be pointed out that if the advocates of this view do not wish to find an appropriate answer to the said objection and are merely concerned with highlighting Imam Husayn's (A.S.) specific political objective, they would have to find a way to prove the Imam's(A.S.) intention of taking over the government. The inclusion of the purpose of amrbi'l-ma ruf wa nahy an al-munkar does not provide an escape from the questions under discussion, since in that case it would be immaterial whether the Imam (A.S.)aimed at establishing his rule or not. Under such conditions the first question of how anyone could possibly think of forming a government in spite of being aware of his imminent martyrdom remains unanswered.
Now that the issue of the political interpretation of the Karbala movement has concluded in the principle of amr bi'l ma ruf wa nahy an al-munkar it would not be out of place to mention that by accepting amr bi'l-maruf wa nahy anal-munkar as a political objective for the Imam's) uprising we have taken a huge step towards highlighting the political aspects of the Karbala movement. This objective would prompt us not to view the movement as a personal one. In other words, should the whole episode conclude in the issue of a prior awareness as a special Divine Commandment for martyrdom, the political dimension of the movement would to a great extent become limited, even though it would apparently elevate the status of the Imam (A.S.). At this point, it would be appropriate to quote Martyr Ayatullah Mutahhari who was an advocate of the theory of amr bi'l-maruf wa nahy an al-munker. As it shall be clearly observed, Martyr Mutahhari was deeply concerned about an extremist Sufi interpretation of the Karbala movement. In his own words:
One of the things that could deviate the Karbala episode from its genuine path and would thwart its usability for the masses, eventually resulting in the deviation of the main objective behind mourning for Imam Husayn (A.S.), is some people's claim that the Imam's (A.S.) move was the outcome of a personal and confidential Divine Commandment that was transmitted to him through dreams or otherwise. This is because if the Imam (A.S.) had made this move on the basis of a personal command, in that case, it would not be possible for other to take him as their Imam (A.S.) and as their role model. [Please notice the concern over the political interpretation of the Karbala movement for the followers of the Imam (A.S.)]. At the same time, in such case it would also become impossible to identify Imam Husayn (A.S.) with a particular school of thought, which is contrary to the belief that Imam Husayn's (A.S.) move was extracted from the basic teachings and principles of Islam... Usually many people let their imaginations run wild and comment that it was a personal command for the Imam (A.S.) to fight Yazid and Ibn Ziyad, believing that in this way his status would be elevated... We Easterners tend to believe that if it is said that a certain person can person can perform certain unusual feats and miracles (mukashifah, kiramat, mujizah), or has jinns under his command, or is in contact with the angels he possesses a high spiritual status! There is no doubt that Imam Husayn (A.S.) does command a high spiritual status, but that status is much more superior than such things; he is the al-Insan al-Kamil (the Perfect Man) and his status is higher than that of the angels.(12)
The second distortion that has taken place in the understanding of the Karbala incident is because some people say things like: Do you know why Imam Husayn (A.S.) revolted and got killed? It was because it was a personal Divine Command for him. He was ordered (by Allah) to go and get killed and, thus, it does not concern us and it is not something that should be followed! It does not concern the general Islamic teachings... Can there be a treachery worse than this?(13)
When it is said it is necessary to know the Imam of the Age (A.S.), it implies that the philosophy of Imamate is based on leadership and is about having a living role model. The Imam (A.S.) is very much a man of superior qualities is not a superhuman and it is for this reason that he can be a role model for everyone. If he were a super human he could not serve as a role model for human beings and, thus, the more we attribute mystery and super human qualities to such personalities the more we have pushed them aside from playing their roles as leaders.(14)
E) The other answer provided to our question is that it is important to distinguish the zahir (manifest to the general people) from the batin (veiled from the general people) aspects while relating to the Prophets (A.S.) and the Imams (A.S.).It is argued that they were obliged to abide by the externals and, thus, performed their social duties accordingly. At the same time, within themselves they were aware of what Allah had destined for them. As regards this answer, what pertains to our discussion is that even if it is presumed that Imam Husayn's (A.S.) objective was to overthrow the Umayyid rule and to establish a new rule under his own leadership on the basis of a natural human move it could be a rational decision. One example given in this regard is that when the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) had lost his camel, he dispatched some people to people to find it, in spite of being aware of its whereabouts, and did not reveal his knowledge until it was necessary. If one does not theologically doubt this view, it could be said that this argument supports the political interpretation of the movement. Allamah Majlisi is an advocate of this view and has tried to highlight the political aspect of the Karbala movement, even though he did not believe that the Imam's (A.S.) intention was to establish a rule. As a matter of fact, he has given a political as well as a spiritual interpretation - both in equal measure - to the Karbala incident. In the words of the Allamah:
It was not obligatory on the Prophets (A.S.) and the Imams (A.S.) to leave matters to (divinely-inspired) knowledge of fate and, in fact, they shared the same religious obligations as the common man. Thus, they were obliged to abide by the general practical laws pertaining to cleanliness and uncleanness (taharah wanijasah) and in matters concerning the faith and disbelief of people. And if they were obliged to act exclusively upon their divinely-inspired knowledge, they would be forced to keep aloof from everyone and would have to consider eveything as unclean and would regard most people as unbelievers. Thus, Imam Husayn (A.S.) was obliged to act upon the natural laws and fight the hypocrites and the disbelievers along with his companions and since more than twenty thousand people had sworn allegiance to him and since he had received over twelve thousand letters from the disloyal Kufans, if he had not acted upon their request they would have had an excuse against the Imam (A.S.) and the Divine decree upon them would not have been completed.(15)
Most of the Shiite theologians have recognized the existence of the zahir and the batin aspects and the distinction between the two. While referring to the historical evidences had which may suggest Imam Husayn's (A.S.) trip to Kufa did not guarantee any certainty, Ayatullah Mutahhari states:
At the same time, his aspect does not contradict the other one, and at a different level which was at the level of spirituality and Imamate, the Imam (A.S.)knew that he would finally arrive in Karbala and be martyred in that land.(16)
The writer Salihi Najaf Abadi, however, disagrees with the above argument. In his opinion, if one were to argue that Imam Husayn (A.S.) both knew before reaching Kufa that he would be martyred in Karbala and yet, in spite of that knowledge, decided to go to Kufa to from a government, it would lead to an argument that it would be impossible at any level, for Imam Husayn (A.S.) to have decided, both, to go to Kufa as well as not go to Kufa at the same time, since these are two contradictory decisions.
On the whole, Salihi should have known that for there to be a contradiction atleast eight conditions would be necessary, and one of them would be the presence of a single common direction. If the Imam (A.S.) or if any of the Divine Prophets (A.S.) is obliged to decide on two different things, based on the zahir as well as on the batin aspects of any situation, why would it cause any contradiction when one has an overt impact while the other is a covert one? Do we not witness exactly this kind of a situation time and again in the interaction of a father and his little child? The father is well aware of many things within himself, even then, he often deals with situations at two different levels - one, upon the wishes of his child and in the direction of training the child, and the other on the basis of his own prior knowledge of the situation.
Let us return to the political interpretation of the late Allamah Majlisi who was also a proponent of the existence of a contradiction between the zahir and the batin aspects. According to him, the Karbala episode was in order to expose the levels of oppression that had permeated the Islamic would and to revive the true religion of Islam. We have already pointed out that the possibility of the two, zahir and batin aspects does not create any contradictions in the political interpretation of the Karbala episode in spite of the fact that on the basis of some other arguments that we mentioned earlier, it clearly shows a leaning towards Sufi interpretations. It should be noted that Allamah Majlisi has paid attention to both spiritual as well as the non-spiritual leanings in spite of the fact that in the ahadith on this particular subject, there are a large number of ahadith available that give more weightage to the spiritual inclination. We have already thrown light on his spiritual interpretation of the Karbala incident, earlier in this discussion. Now let us focus upon the Allamah's political interpretation of this historical episode. In his words:
And if you studied the facts, that the oppressed Imam (A.S.) sacrificed his gracious life for the cause of the religion of his noble grand-father, and had he agreed to a peace agreement with Yazid and had he not exposed his evil acts, in a very short while the religious shari'ah, the basic fundaments (usul), as well as the practical laws (furu) of the ummah of the Sayyid al Mursaleen (S.A.W.) would have been disintegrated and gone into oblivion. Muawiyah had made all possible attempts towards concealing the efforts of the Prophet (S.A.W.) to the extent that very little of his true teachings had managed to survive, and even what had managed to survive would have soon been destroyed.
The evil acts and the actions of the accursed one (Yazid) would appear as beautiful in the eyes of the people and kufr (disbelief) would have pervaded the world. The martyrdom of the Imam (A.S.), to some extent, shook up the people from their sleep of neglect and they could now see the deterioration of their beliefs and the actions; and such revolutionaries like Mukhtar bin Abi Ubaydahal-Thaqafi and others gathered together and shook up the pillars of Bani Umayyah and that lead to their eventual fall.(17)

Towards a Political Interpretation
It must be mentioned that the Shiah - especially in Iran - became more political and social-oriented after the period of the Safawids (1501 CE). This was as a result of a closer and more serious interaction in politics. There was active interaction in the Safavid era but the Qajar rule in Iran resented this trend. At the time when the constitutional monarchy was faced with the crisis of a constitutional movement and there were talks of finding an alternative, the issue of the power of Wilayah became more serious even though it did not come to be defined into a social theory. From the angle of active political participation, following the constitutional movement, the ulama' exhibited a kind of serious reaction. This was both because of its isolation as well as the pressure of the ruling power to remove religion from the general scene and to restrict it. At the same time there were some people who kept this flame burning. Religious sentiments reached new heights after 20 Shahrivar/September 1941 CE. Following that, both the western as well as the eastern influences on the political and social views challenged the Shi'ite scholars and their participation in the constitutional movement and their efforts towards defining and explaining the political side of Imam in the treatises that were written in those times brought in dormancy for some time. This stagnation came to an end following the fresh changes that took place in the 1960s and once again the demands for an Islamic leadership that would promote a religious leadership gained escalation. It could be said that even though these treatises did not contain any specific or direct discussions on leadership, the writings however, were full of the Islamic contention for leadership. The combination of an intellectual as well as a political resistance opened the way for benefiting from the movement of Imam Husayn (A.S.). The need for this discussion was clear from several angles. The issue was that of an oppressive regime which needed to be toppled. The issue was that of the martyrs whose executions took place at the hands of the tyrannical Pahlavi regime. The issue was of mobilizing the Shiite society from its dormancy –a dormancy that was the result of an extremist Sufi interpretation of the Karbala movement. At the time when Imam Khumayni wrote his book Wilatat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the jurisprudent) and defined the concept of wilayat-i faqih into the form of a comprehensive state theory, in Iran books like Rah-e Husayn (A.S.) [The Path of Husayn (A.S.)], Alefba-ye Qiyame Imam Husayn (A.S.) [The ABC's of Imam Husayn's (A.S.) Uprising], Shahid-e Jawid (The Immortal Martyr), and Shahdat (Martyrdom) were being published. In spite of the fact that these books- as also the speeches of Martyr Murtaza Mutahhari in the solar year 1348 AH(1969-70) - were written on the basis of various approaches and also sometimes revealed differenced of opinion, everyone had unanimously reached the conclusion that a more serious political interpretation of the movement of Ashura should be made. From among all these books, the Shahid-e Jawid (The Immortal Martyr) had proved to be the most controversial.(18)If we were to put aside the theological discussions and some of the objections that were raised against this book from the theological angle - and some have only criticized that the book from that angle - it was written with the aim of politicizing the movement of Imam Husayn (A.S.) upto the point of claiming that the Imam's (A.S.) intention was to overthrow the existent rule. However, the writer of this book, Salihi Najaf Abadi, refused to even accept the view that the aim of Imam Husayn (A.S.) could have been a kind of martyrdom that is essentially vital for the revival of Islam. He also refused to accept that Imam Husayn (A.S.) had revolted in order to take over the government. It seems that for expressing his point, Salihi indulged in some kind of extremism in politicizing the issue and was, thus, forced to oppose some of the obvious matters. But we must not forget that the mentioned work certainly stood in clear defiance of the Sufi extremist interpretation.
Dr. Hamid Inayat's analysis of this dimension of the book demands attention. He writes:
As is very clear, the main purpose of Shahid-e Jawid was politicizing the aspects of Shiite Imamology, which until recently was purely based on mystical, poetic, and sentimental terminology. This work generated a cautious but increasing inclination among the Shiite revolutionaries so that they could relate to the Karbala incident as a fundamental human tragedy and as a result, not relate to the heroic act of the Imam (A.S.) as a unique and one-time (that cannot be emulated) historical incident and not look at it as something humanly impossible.(19)

The Political Aim: Martyrdom
We must pay attention to the point that generally-speaking the political interpretation of Karbala, among the works that were mentioned earlier, cannot plainly be summarized to mean that Imam Husayn (A.S.) took this step simply to take over the government. In fact, in the view of some of those writers, basically, this idea has also been refuted and they considered martyrdom as the aim of the movement. This is an issue that, although not in it's purely politicized from but in any case, in the form of an analysis, was present even earlier. In the preface of his work Luhuf, Ibn Tawus, after quoting the ahadith relating to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) before the Karbala incident, points out to those who cannot relate to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A.S.) as good fortune (la-ya rifu haqa'iqasharafi al-sa adah bi'l-shahadah); they are those who have related to as a suicidal act. He replies to such people by presenting the hadith that was quoted through Abu Ayyub Ansari that the verse wa la-tulqu bi-aydikum ila-tahlukah -... and cast not yourselves with your own hands into perdition - (2:192), interpret it exactly opposite to this view.(20)
From among contemporaries we could name those like Dr. Ali Shariati who has extracted his political interpretation of the Karbala incident right from the heart of the concept of martyrdom and along with that formally rejects the idea that Imam Husayn (A.S.) had revolted in order to take over the rule.(21) Actually speaking, the political interpretation could be that the Imam (A.S.) took this selfless step as an attempt to compel the people to revolt against the rule. From this angle, mourning and shedding tears for Imam Husayn (A.S.), not based on the Sufi interpretation, but in the from of a political step could prove to be very effective. It is very difficult for those who have taken an extremist point of view in their political interpretation to accept the fact that Imam Husayn (A.S.), like many other selfless leaders of the world wished to shed his blood in order to revive the true message of Islam. It should also be mentioned that many of the revolutionaries who have written books on Imam Husayn (A.S.) in the last few decades have readily accepted that Imam Husayn (A.S.) wanted to shed his blood in order for Islam to be revived. We could recall that Martyr Hashimi Nizhad's book, Darsi keh Husayn (A.S.) beh Insanha Amukht [The Lesson that Imam Husayn (A.S.) gaveMankind] has accepted this viewpoint.

In Conclusion
What is left for us to say is that the Islamic Revolution of Iran, under the resolute, enlightened, and revolutionary leadership of the great leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khumayni , was inspired by the approach of the political interpretation of the movement of Karbala and the late leader had, from time to time, spoken to this effect. A collection of his speeches has been compiled and published under the title Qiyame Ashura dar Kalam wa Payam Imam Khumayni (The Ashura Movement in the Words and the Message of Imam Khumayni), a study of which, on the what has been presented in this discussion thus far, calls for a separate paper. For now, let us suffice by presenting a few sentences from the speeches of Imam Khumayni in conclusion to this discussion:
When the Leader of the Martyrs (A.S.) arrived in Makkah, and when he left Makkah under those circumstances, it was a grand political move; all the moves of the Imam (A.S.) were political moves - religio-political (Islami-siyasi) moves; and it was this very religio-political move that that eliminated the Bani Umayyah, and but for this movement, Islam would have been crushed.(22)
Elsewhere Imam Khumayni says:
The Leader of the Martyrs (A.S.) had also come in order to take over the rulership; in fact he come for this (purpose) and this is an honour. Those who think that the Leader of the Martyrs (A.S.) had also come in order to take over the rulership; in fact he had come for this (purpose) and this is an honour. Those who think that the Leader of the Martyrs (A.S.) had not come to take over the rulership (are mistaken); no, they had come for the rulership because rulership must lie in the hands of the likes of the Leader of the Martyrs (A.S.), in the hands of the likes of those who are the Shi ah (followers) of the Leader of the Martyrs(A.S.).(23)
1. Ja fariyan. Rasul, Safawiyyah dar Arsah-ye Din, Siyasat, wa Farhang, Vol. 1,pp. 1174-73
2. Inayat, Hamid, Andishah-ye Siyasi dar Islam-e Mu'asir, p. 312.
3. Refer to Holy Qur'an, al-Nabiyyu awla bi'l-Mu'minina min anfusihim – The Prophet has a greater claim on the believers than they have on their ownselves -(33:6).
4. Rijal Kashshi (Ikhtiyar Ma rifah al-Rijal, Abu Jafar Tusi; A Research Work by Mustafawi, Mashhad) p. 300.
5. Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, Vol. 2, p. 203; Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Biharal-Anwar Vol. 44, p.271.
6. Bihar al-Anwar Vol.44,p.271.
7. Al-Haft al-Sharif, (researched and edited by Mustafa Ghalib, Beirut: Daral-Andalus)p. 96.
8. Mutahhari, Murtaza, Himasih-ye Husayni, Qum: Sadra 1986, Vol. 3, pp.224-237.
9. Majmu ah Rasa'il Itiqadi Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (Compiled by Sayyid Mahdi Raja'i, Mashhad: Bunyad Pazhuhishha-ye Islami, 1987), pp.198-199.
10. Jami al-Asrar wa Manba al-Anwar, p. 396 onwards.
11. Refer to the preface of the book Wasilah al-Khadim ila al-Makhdum,Fazlullah bin Ruzbihan Khunji, Edited by Rasul Jafariyan, Qum: The Library of Ayatullah Marashi, p. 29 onwards.
12. Mutahhari, Murtaza, Himasih-ye Husayni, Qum: Sadra, 1986, Vol. 3, pp.84-86.
13. Ibid., Vol. 1,pp. 66-67.
14. Ibid., Vol. 1, pp. 66-67.
15. Majmu ah Rasa'il Itiqadi Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, pp. 200-201.
Mutahhari, Murtaza, Himaih-ye Husayn, Vol. 3, p.189.
17. Majmu ah Rasa'il I'tiaadi Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi.
18. Refer to Jafariyan, Rasul, Jarayanha wa Jonbeshha-ye Madhhabi dar Iran (Religious Trends and Movements in Iran), Tehran: Pazhuheshgah-e Farhangwa Andisheh-ye Islami,pp. 214-308
19. Andisheh-ye Siyasi dar Islam-e Muasir, pp. 330-331.
20. Luhuf,pp. 16, 17.
21. Refer to Shahadat (Martyrdom), Ali Shari'ati, pp. 35-36.
22. Sahifah-ye Nur, p.140
23. Ibid., p.190.

Muslim ibn 'Aqil had taken two of his sons to Kufah with him. The older son was called Muhammad and the younger Ibrahim. Both of them were under the age of ten years. When Muslim ibn 'Aqil realized how dangerous a threat Ibn Ziyad was, he called for Qadi Shurayh and handed over his two sons to him. Qadi Shurayh kept the two boys in his house until the martyrdom of Muslim ibn 'Aqil.
After the death of Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Ibn Ziyad issued a warning saying that anyone who was aware of the whereabouts of the sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and did not inform him would be put to death. On hearing this, Qadi Shurayh went to the sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil. He showed them affection and kindness as he shed tears. The boys asked him, "Why are you weeping?"
Shurayh replied, "Your father has been mercilessly killed." The children cried in grief, "O father! O exile!" After Shurayh had consoled them, he informed them of Ibn Ziyad's threats against them. Hearing this, the children stopped crying out of terror. Seeing this Shurayh said, "Do not be frightened. You are the apples of my eye. I will not allow any harm to come to you. I have arranged for you to be in the care of a trustworthy person who will see to it that you taken back to Medina."
Shurayh called for his son Asad and gave him the following instructions, "News has come to me that a caravan is preparing to depart for Medina. Take these children and hand them over to the trustworthy person who will see to it that they reach Medina safely." Shurayh kissed the two boys and gave them each 50 dinars. Then he bade them farewell and handed them over to his son Asad.
In the darkness of the night, Asad carried the two boys in his arms until he was a few kilometres outside Kufah in order to meet with the caravan. However, the caravan had set off before they arrived. The dark shapes of the rear of the caravan were barely visible in the distance. Asad bid the two orphans of Muslim ibn 'Aqil farewell and told to run after the caravan until they caught up with it. Under no circumstances were they to stop before they had reached it.
In the darkness of the night the two orphans started running through the desert towards the caravan. However, tiredness overcame them and they paused for a while. It was at this moment that an inhabitant from Kufah happened to be passing. He saw the two boys and recognised them as being the orphans of Muslim ibn 'Aqil. He seized them and brought them to Ibn Ziyad.
Ibn Ziyad summoned the jailor and handed the two orphans over to him. The jailor was a person by the name of Mashkur and he was among the lovers of the Household of the Prophet. When Mashkur learned of the identity of the two boys, he treated them with great kindness and affection and brought them food and water. Finally in the middle of the night, Mashkur decided to free the two boys. He gave them his ring and instructed them to go to Qadisiyyah where they would find his brother. He told them to give the ring to his brother who would then assist them to get to Medina. When news of Mashkur's freeing of the boys was given to Ibn Ziyad, he ordered him to be given fifty lashes. Mashkur died as the sentence was being carried out.
On the same night Ibrahim and Muhammad, the sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil, left Kufah and started their journey towards Qadisiyyah. They walked all night. However, due to the darkness and the fact that they did not know the way, they found themselves still on the outskirts of Kufah in the morning. The frightened boys saw a palm-grove and went to it. There they hid themselves on top of a date palm.
An Ethiopian maid came to the palm-grove to drink some water from a pond underneath the tree in which the children were hiding. As she knelt down by the pond, she saw the reflection of the two children in the water. The maid quickly looked up at the tree and saw the young boys concealed in it. She treated them with kindness and gentleness and took them to her mistress, who was the wife of Harith ibn 'Urwah. As soon as this woman saw them, she put her arms around them and asked them who they were. They replied, "We are from the family of the Prophet and are the sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil." When she learned of their true identities, she showed them greater affection and embraced her maid in joy. However, she warned her to not to inform her husband Harith about the boys because she knew of his evil disposition.
After the boys had eaten and gone to bed, Harith returned home in a state of rage. When Harith's wife asked him of the reason for his anger, he replied that that he had been in search of the two sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil who had been freed by Mashkur the jailor. He said that it had been announced in the palace of Ibn Ziyad that the one who captured the boys would be rewarded handsomely. However, despite a lengthy search during which his horse had died of exhaustion and in which he himself had become tired, he had been unable to find them. At this Harith's wife said, "May sorrow be your lot! Fear God and the day on which Muhammad the Messenger of Allah will be your opponent. Do not harm those children." Harith replied, "Silence! O woman! If I were to find them, I should be rewarded by vast amounts of gold and silver from Ibn Ziyad. Get up and prepare my supper."
After eating his supper Harith went to his bed. Muhammad and Ibrahim were asleep in one of the rooms. Suddenly Muhammad the elder brother of the two woke up from his sleep. He had had a dream that had disturbed him. He said to Ibrahim, "Wake up! O brother! I have just had a dream and I am afraid that that we will soon be killed. I saw the Prophet with Imam Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and Lady Fatimah sitting in Paradise with our father. The Prophet looked at us and wept. Then he turned to our father and said, 'O Muslim! How could you leave your sons among the enemies?' At this our father said that they would be united with us tomorrow." Ibrahim replied, "I have had the same dream." The children embraced each other in the darkness of the night, frightened and not knowing what was to become of them.
Harith was woken from his sleep by the sound of the children's voices. Holding a candle he came inside the room and saw the two frightened children sitting in a corner of the room clinging to each other. He asked, "Who are you?" They answered, "We are your guests, the family of the Prophet. We are the sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil." Harith shouted angrily, "I have destroyed myself and my horse in searching for you while you were sitting inside my own house?"
Harith began to slap the children viciously. Then he tied their hands and feet and pushed them into a corner of the room. Harith's wife came to him and kissed his hands and feet begging him to not to harm the children as they were orphans and from the family of the Prophet and their guests. However, the hard-hearted man was without any compassion and paid no heed to her pleas. Thus the boys were left in that state until the morning.
In the morning Harith, with his sword in his hand and accompanied by his son and his servant, took the two sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil to the banks of the Euphrates. Harith's wife was crying and pleading with him as she followed them. However, whenever she got near to them, Harith would push her away with his sword. At the Euphrates Harith gave his sword to his servant and ordered him to behead the two boys. The servant refused to carry out his orders and Harith killed him. After this Harith handed the sword to his son and told him to behead the two children. At this his son replied, "I seek refuge with Allah! Never will I commit such a crime and I will not allow you to kill them." Harith's wife cried out, "What crime have these children committed? Take them alive to the governor." Harith answered, "I have no option but to kill them, I have no guarantee that members of the Shi'ah will not rescue them from me while I make my way to the governor."
At this Harith took hold of his sword with an intention of killing his own son. His wife screamed and begged for mercy but to no avail. Harith took his son's life. Then he turned to the children who were crying and shaking with fear at what they had witnessed. They children begged for some time for them to offer their final prayers but Harith did not grant them their wish. Harith grabbed hold of Muhammad but Ibrahim threw himself on Muhammad in an attempt to save him. Muhammad did the same in order to save the life of his younger brother. Impatiently Harith struck his sword at Muhammad beheading him. Ibrahim grabbed the head of his brother in his lap. As he wept over his brother, Harith struck at Ibrahim neck beheading the orphan.
Harith threw the headless bodies of the orphans of Muslim ibn 'Aqil in the river and placed their heads on a stake and set off to the palace of Ibn Ziyad.
The heads of the orphans of Muslim ibn 'Aqil were brought and placed in front of Ibn Ziyad. The latter asked, "Whose heads are these?" Harith replied, "These are the heads of your enemies whom I caught and beheaded in return for the reward that you promised." Ibn Ziyad asked, "Which of my enemies?" Harith answered, "The sons of Muslim ibn 'Aqil." Ibn Ziyad asked for the heads to be washed and brought on a tray. Then he gazed at them and said to Harith, "May sorrow be your reward! What wrong did these children do to you?" 
Ibn Ziyad called for his personal jester Muqatil who was a devoted lover of the Holy Family and to deny the murderer death at the hands of soldiers said, "This accursed man has killed these children without my permission. Take him to the banks of the Euphrates where he murdered the children and execute him as you will." Muqatil grabbed Harith by the shoulders and marched him through the streets of Kufah bare-footed and bare-headed as he showed the heads of the orphans to the onlookers shouting, "O people! This is the murderer of the two orphans of Muslim ibn 'Aqil." The people wept at the sight of the orphan's heads and cursed Harith. As Muqatil proceeded to the river, the people gathered with him to witness Harith's execution. When they arrived at the place where the children were killed, they found the dead bodies of Harith's son and his slave and his bruised wife crying over her son. The people were extremely disturbed at the scene.
Harith asked Muqatil to release him for the sum of ten thousand dinars.
To this Muqatil replied, "By Allah! If all the wealth of the entire world were yours and you offered it to me, I would not accept. I desire to attain the Paradise of Allah by executing you." Muqatil cut off the hands and the feet of Harith. Then he cut off his ears and nose and tore out his stomach. After that the people burned his body.

Martyrdom of Muslim Ibn Aqil in Kufah

Muslim Ibn Aqil in Kufah
Imam al-Husayn chose Muslim ibn 'Aqil, son of his uncle and the husband of his sister Ruqayyah, to take back the reply to the letters of the people of Kufah.
Muslim ibn 'Aqil together with his companions set off for Kufah and arrived there on the 5th Shawwal, 60 A.H. Muslim ibn 'Aqil stayed at the house of Mukhtar ibn Abi 'Ubaydah Thaqafi, better known as the house of Salim ibn Musayyib. In another account given by Tabari, he stayed at the house of Muslim ibn 'Awsajah. A large number of the Shi'ah gathered at the house and Muslim ibn 'Aqil read to them the letter of the Imam. Upon hearing the contents of the letter, they wept. The letter read: "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate, from al-Husayn ibn 'Ali to the Muslim believers. Hani' and Sa'id have conveyed your letters to me. These were your last messengers to me. After reading your letters asking me to come to you in order for Allah to guide you, I have chosen to send to you my brother and my cousin, Muslim ibn 'Aqil, who enjoys my confidence and trust. If Muslim ibn 'Aqil advises me that the views and the opinions of your wise and learned men are in accordance with what you have stated in your letters, then, by the Will of Allah, I will soon be with you. By my life! An Imam is only one who rules by the Book, stands with justice, adheres to the true religion and restricts himself to what is pleasing to Allah." 
(Kitab al-Irshad)
The Account of Muslim ibn Aqil's Martyrdom
Gradually the people started to visit Muslim ibn 'Aqil and pledged allegiance to him on behalf of Imam al-Husayn. Eighteen thousand people gave the pledge of allegiance to Muslim ibn 'Aqil. He then sent the news of this to the Imam in a letter. 
At that time Nu'man ibn Bashir was the governor of Kufah. The supporters of Yazid were concerned that Nu'man had not been sufficiently watchful and wrote to Yazid informing him of the state of Kufah. When Yazid received this report, he consulted his advisors. After taking their advice, Yazid decided to designate 'Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, who was already the governor of Basrah, as the governor of Kufah as well. Yazid wrote a letter to 'Ubayd Allah informing him of the events in Kufah and giving him full authority in order for him to regain full control of the town and to repress the rebellion of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and his followers.
Ibn Ziyad's Deception
Ibn Ziyad immediately upon receiving the letter appointed his brother 'Uthman ibn Ziyad as his deputy in Basrah while he himself set off for Kufah. As he approached Kufah he put a black turban on his head and veiled his face so that he resembled a Hashimite. In this state he entered Kufah with his entourage. The people of Kufah, anticipating the coming of the Imam, mistook Ibn Ziyad as the Imam due to the way he was dressed. As a result they welcomed him chanting, "Welcome! O son of the Prophet! We are with you. Allah is the greatest!" The people who thought that it was the Imam who had arrived, grew in numbers until they reached forty thousand. Muslim ibn 'Amr, one of the party that had come with Ibn Ziyad, ordered the people to disperse and informed them that it was Ibn Ziyad, the new governor of Kufah, that had arrived and not the Imam. On hearing this, some of people who had gathered dispersed while others remained still thinking that it was the Imam who had arrived. As evening approached, Ibn Ziyad reached the governor's palace. Nu'man ibn Bashir, the governor of Kufah, bolted the doors of the palace thinking the Imam had come to take control of the palace. When he was ordered to open the doors, Nu'man stretched out his head from high in the palace and said, "O son of the Prophet! I will not hand this office, which has been entrusted to me, over to you and there is no need for a battle to take place between us." At this Ibn Ziyad drew nearer to the palace. He introduced himself to Nu'man and ordered the doors to be opened. Hearing the voice of Ibn Ziyad, the rest of the people of Kufah finally realized that this was the son of Marjanah (i.e. Ibn Ziyad) and not the Imam. Ibn Ziyad entered the building and shut the doors in the faces of the people outside. At this point the gathering finally dispersed.
The next morning 'Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad addressed the people saying: "The blood and wealth of anyone who opposes us will become lawful for us. I inform the heads and the chiefs of the communities that anyone who knows the whereabouts of the enemies of Yazid and does not inform us will be crucified on their own door and their monthly income will be discontinued."
(Kitab al-Irshad)
It is also reported that when Ibn Ziyad entered into Kufah, the people thought that it was the Imam and they flocked to him crying out, "We are with you." Their numbers were said to be more than forty thousand. A woman shouted out, "Allah is great! O son of the Messenger!" And the people chanted the same.
(A'yan al-Shi'ah)
Ibn Ziyad's Informer
When the news of Ibn Ziyad's arrival and his warnings reached Muslim ibn 'Aqil, he moved from the house of Mukhtar to the house of Hani' ibn 'Urwah, who was an important leader of the tribe of Madhhij. There the Shi'ah secretly went to meet with him.
Ibn Ziyad called for his servant Ma'qal and gave him three thousand dirhams. He told him to find Muslim ibn 'Aqil and get close to him and his followers and in order to gain their confidence. he was to hand over the money to them and say that it was for fighting their enemies. Ma'qal was told to inform Ibn Ziyad of Muslim ibn 'Aqil's every move and of the people he met. Ma'qal did as he was told to the extent that he would be the first to come to Muslim ibn 'Aqil and the last to leave the gathering. He informed Ibn Ziyad of the affairs of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and his followers.
(Kitab al-Irshad)
The Disloyalty of the People of Kufah
After Ibn Ziyad had received information about Muslim ibn 'Aqil, he summoned Hani'. He demanded that Hani' hand Muslim over to him. Hani' refused to do that and Ibn Ziyad had him thrown into prison. When Muslim got news of what had happened, he realised that his position had been compromised. He summoned the people to attack Ibn Ziyad. Four thousand of them gathered outside the governor's palace. Ibn Ziyad with his entourage remained inside and he summoned the tribal leaders to join him, for he had already won them over to his side by bribery. They began to infiltrate among the people telling them to withdraw because the Syrians would soon arrive. Some of their fellow tribesmen believed them and withdrew. Others were persuaded to withdraw by their frightened wives and mothers. 
Gradually the number of the people with Muslim ibn 'Aqil decreased. When it was time for the evening prayer. Muslim ibn 'Aqil went to the mosque and found that there were only a small group of people to pray with. This was a mosque where the congregation used to reach ten thousand people. When Muslim ibn 'Aqil left the mosque, only ten people accompanied him. By the time he reached the gate of the quarter where the tribe of Kindah lived, there was no one with him. Muslim ibn 'Aqil was made a stranger to Kufah. He wandered the streets looking towards right and left. He was in a state of dire confusion not knowing where to go. He went into an alley that he did not know. There he found an old woman by the name of Taw'ah standing outside her house waiting for her son. Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked the woman for some water. She gave him water and after drinking it, Muslim ibn he sat near her door in exhaustion. Although Taw'ah was a member of the Shi'ah and a lover of the family of the Prophet, she did not recognise Muslim ibn 'Aqil. When Muslim sat down, she told him that it was not appropriate for him to stay there. Hearing this, Muslim ibn 'Aqil said, "O maid of Allah! I do not have a place to stay. Will you allow me to stay in your house tonight? If Allah wills, I will pay back the debt." "Who are you?" asked Taw'ah. He replied, "I am Muslim ibn 'Aqil. These people invited me here. Now they have abandoned and driven me away." Learning that the man was Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Taw'ah allowed him inside the house.
When Taw'ah's son Bilal returned home, he enquired about the guest. Taw'ah made him take an oath that he would not tell anyone about their guest nor of his whereabouts. Then unwillingly and with a heavy heart, she told him that it was Muslim ibn 'Aqil. Bilal stayed the night at the house but on the following morning he went to 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Ash'ath and informed him of where Muslim ibn 'Aqil was. 'Abd al-Rahman went and relayed this information to his father Muhammad ibn Ash'ath. Muhammad ibn Ash'ath, the tribal leader of Kindah, was a close associate of Ibn Ziyad who went to Ibn Ziyad and informed him of the whereabouts of Muslim ibn 'Aqil. 
Immediately Ibn Ziyad ordered Muhammad ibn Ash'ath to arrest Muslim ibn 'Aqil and bring him from the house of Taw'ah. Muhammad ibn Ash'ath set off for the house of Taw'ah with 'Amr 'Ubayd Allah ibn 'Abbas al-Sulami and seventy soldiers
During the night, Taw'ah had brought supper for Muslim ibn 'Aqil but he had refused to eat anything. He had slept only a little and then he had got up to spend the rest of the night in prayers and devotion. When dawn was approaching, Taw'ah brought water for Muslim ibn 'Aqil to perform the ablutions for prayer. She said to him, "My master! You have not slept the whole night." Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "I slept a while and in my sleep I saw my uncle, the Commander of the Faithful. He was saying to me, 'O Muslim! Hurry and quickly come to us.' I fear that the last day of my life has approached." Then Muslim ibn 'Aqil had performed the ablutions. 
After he had finished the prayer and was making prayers of supplication, he heard the sounds of the approaching soldiers. Muslim ibn 'Aqil quickly finished the supplications and started to put on his armour saying, "Go and face death from which there is no escape." Taw'ah asked him, "O master! Have you submitted to death?" "I have no escape save death. May the Prophet of Allah intercede for you for the favour that you have shown," Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied.
A party of up to three hundred soldiers forced their way into the house of Taw'ah to arrest Muslim ibn 'Aqil. Who took his sword in hand and drove them back into the street. When he looked out Muslim ibn 'Aqil saw that some soldiers had climbed on the rooftops of neighbouring houses and were throwing stones and flaming torches at the house. Fearing that the soldiers would set fire to the house, he went out to fight them. Muslim ibn 'Aqil fought single handedly even though he was surrounded and being pressed from all directions. It is reported that as he fought Muslim ibn 'Aqil unhinged the door of the house and used it as his shield. So fiercely did he fight that he killed a hundred and eighty of those who were on horses. 
On two occasions Muhammad ibn Ash'ath had to send to Ibn Ziyad for help. On both occasions Ibn Ziyad responded by dispatching soldiers. At the third request, Ibn Ziyad replied, "May your mother weep at the sorrow of your death! Can you not overpower a single person? 
What will become of you when faced with an opponent stronger then him?" By this he meant the Imam. To this Muhammad ibn Ash'ath replied, "Are you not aware that this man is the sword of the Prophet, a brave lion and a warrior, not a farmer or a grocer of Kufah?" Ibn Ziyad sent a further five hundred men with instructions that Muhammad ibn Ash'ath should grant safe-conduct to Muslim ibn 'Aqil in order to secure the lives of his men. 
(Maqtal al-Husayn Abu Mikhnaf)
As Muslim ibn 'Aqil was continuing gallantly to fight the fierce battle, Muhammad ibn Ash'ath called out to him, "O Muslim! Do not destroy yourself. We grant you safe-conduct. Stop fighting." Muslim ibn 'Aqil was not convinced and continued to fight. Muhammad ibn Ash'ath called out again, "O Muslim! It is not a lie or a trick. This is the son of your uncle (meaning Ibn Ziyad) and he has given you his word that no harm will come to you."
Muslim ibn 'Aqil was now was covered in wounds from the constant hail of stones and arrows. Due to intense fatigue, he paused to rest and sat with his back to the wall of Taw'ah's house. Once again Muhammad ibn Ash'ath shouted and asked Muslim ibn 'Aqil to cease fighting and take the offer safe-conduct. At this Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked, "Will you truly spare my life?" "Yes! Your life will be spared," came the reply from the host that surrounded him.
Muslim ibn 'Aqil no longer had the strength to fight and was forced to agreed to the offer of safe-conduct. A mule was brought for him. No sooner had he mounted the mule than the soldiers surrounded him, took his sword away and made him their prisoner. Tears rolled down his blessed cheeks as he said, "This is the first deception." 
(A'lam al-Wara')
Muslim Ibn Aqil's Encounter With Ibn Ziyad
When Muslim ibn 'Aqil was brought into the palace as a prisoner, he did not salute Ibn Ziyad with the greeting of peace. The guard standing at the door said to Muslim ibn 'Aqil, "Salute the commander and chief." Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "Silence! May sorrow be your lot! He is not my commander."
At this Ibn Ziyad declared, "It is all the same whether you salute me or not. You will be executed." Muslim ibn 'Aqil retorted, "It will not be the first time that worse than you have killed better than me." Ibn Ziyad shouted, "O recalcitrant opponent! You have risen against the ruler and caused discord and disunity within the community." Muslim ibn 'Aqil answered, "O Ibn Ziyad! It was Mu'awiyah and his son Yazid who have caused disunity within the community and it was you and your father that have spread corruption in it. I am hopeful that Allah will grant me martyrdom by the hands of the worst of his creatures." Ibn Ziyad admonished him, "You were desirous of something (i.e. the Caliphate) that Allah did not bring to fruition in you but placed with people who deserve it." Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked, "O Ibn Ziyad! And who is worthy of that?" Ibn Ziyad replied, "Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah." Muslim ibn 'Aqil said, "Praise be to Allah! We are pleased with His pleasure! May He decide between you and us!" Ibn Ziyad, now in a state of fury, abused Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Imam 'Ali, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn. To this Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "O enemy of Allah! Do what you will. You and your father are worthier of this abuse."
Ibn Ziyad ordered Bukayr ibn Humran to take Muslim ibn 'Aqil to the top of the palace and to behead him. As Muslim ibn 'Aqil was being lead to his execution, he praised and glorified Allah and invoked His blessings and benedictions upon the Prophet and his family saying, "O Allah! You be the final judge between us and these people who have summoned us, lied to us and betrayed us."
Earlier that day Bukayr ibn Humran had been one of the men who had fought against Muslim ibn 'Aqil. During the fight Muslim had struck him with a fierce blow and wounded him. He was filled with a deep hatred of Muslim and showed himself to be utterly merciless as he carried out Ibn Ziyad's orders. He took him to the roof of the palace and ordered him to kneel and stretch his head over the edge of the wall of the palace. Then he mercilessly beheaded him. When the axe split his neck, Muslim ibn 'Aqil's head fell from the top of the palace to the ground. After this the soldiers were ordered to throw his body to the ground. In this way Muslim ibn 'Aqil's blessed soul departed from his wounded body to Eternal Bliss and the Abode of the Hereafter. 
(Al-Luhuf & A'lam al-Wara')
Muslim Ibn Aqil's Last Will and Bequest
The following is an account of Muslim ibn 'Aqil's final encounter with Ibn Ziyad as reported in Kitab al-Irshad: Muslim ibn 'Aqil was extremely thirsty as he was brought wounded to the palace. A group of people was standing at the door waiting for the permission to enter. Standing with them was 'Amr ibn Hurayth and next to the door was placed a pitcher of water. Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked 'Amr ibn Hurayth for some water as he sat at the door resting his back against the wall. 'Amr ibn Hurayth ordered his servant to give Muslim ibn 'Aqil some water. Water was brought to him but when Muslim ibn 'Aqil tried to drink it, the dripping blood from his wounded mouth and lips poured into the water. New water was brought and again the same thing happened. At the third time when Muslim ibn 'Aqil attempted to drink the water his front teeth, that had been broken during the battle fell into the vessel. Muslim ibn 'Aqil spilt the water and said, "All praise is due to Allah! Had provision been granted me, I would have surely drunk it."
Ibn Ziyad's men led Muslim ibn 'Aqil to him and after an exchange of words Ibn Ziyad mercilessly said, "You will surely be killed." Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "If you are determined to kill me, then allow me to make my last will?" Ibn Ziyad agreed that Muslim ibn 'Aqil could do that. 
Muslim ibn 'Aqil called to 'Umar ibn Sa'd who was standing nearby, "O Ibn Sa'd! There is kinship between us. For the sake of that, I ask you to give me an oath of secrecy and to honour my last will." Ibn Sa'd refused to listen. Seeing this, Ibn Ziyad ordered Ibn Sa'd, "Listen to what the your cousin has to say."
Under the eyes of Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Sa'd went to Muslim ibn 'Aqil and they both retreated to a corner where they sat down. Muslim ibn 'Aqil told Ibn Sa'd, "I borrowed seven hundred dirhams in Kufah. Sell my coat of mail and my sword and pay off my debt. After I am executed, take my body from Ibn Ziyad and bury me. Send word to Imam al-Husayn to not to come to Kufah. I have sent a letter to him informing him of the loyalty of the people of Kufah and their eagerness to be led by him. I fear he has commenced his journey towards Kufah."
Fearing Ibn Ziyad may suspect him of something, Ibn Sa'd went to him and informed him of Muslim ibn 'Aqil's last will. Ibn Ziyad taunted Ibn Sa'd for his actions and said that a trustee does not betray a secret when it is entrusted to him. By this he meant that if Ibn Sa'd been a trustworthy person, he would never have divulged what Muslim ibn 'Aqil had told him in confidence. However, despite that, he ordered Ibn Sa'd, "As for his debt, pay it off after his death if you wish. As for his burial that too I will allow if you wish to bury him. But as far as al-Husayn is concerned, we have no quarrel with him if he does not interfere with us."
Then Ibn Ziyad turned towards Muslim Ibn 'Aqil and began to insult him. After a heated exchange of words in which Muslim ibn 'Aqil was accused of disuniting the people, Ibn Ziyad said to Muslim ibn 'Aqil, "What concern is the unity of the people to you? Why did you not concern yourself with that when you were drinking wine with the people in Medina?" At this Muslim retorted, "By Allah! You are lying! You, who lap the blood of Muslims and murder those whose life Allah has deemed sacred, are more correctly described as drinking wine than me." Ibn Ziyad could no longer contain him self and ordered Muslim ibn 'Aqil to be beheaded and his body to be thrown to the ground from the top of the palace. 
(Kitab al-Irshad)
The Martyrdom of Hani ibn Urwah
Hani' ibn 'Urwah has already been mentioned as the person that Muslim ibn 'Aqil went to stay with after the arrival of Ibn Ziyad in Kufah. He was among the renowned personalities from the Shi'ah and belonged to the tribe of Madhhij. According to one report, Hani ibn 'Urwah had witnessed the era of the Prophet and was considered to be among his Companions. At the time of his martyrdom, he was eighty-nine years of age. According to Ya'qubi, Hani' enjoyed a high social status and had four thousand mounted soldiers and eight thousand foot soldiers under his command. 
(Muntaha al-Amal)
As has been mentioned, Hani' allowed his house to be used by Muslim ibn 'Aqil and supported him. Hani' was arrested by Ibn Ziyad and imprisoned when he refused to hand over Muslim ibn 'Aqil. After the death of Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Ibn Ziyad ordered his servant Rashid to behead Hani' in the market. According to Muthir al-Ahzan the eighty-nine year old man was dragged to the Kunasah Square where he was killed and later crucified on a door. 
According to a report cited by Sayyid Ibn Tawus, Hani' was dragged from prison to be executed. He repeatedly cried out, "O tribe of Madhhij! Why do you not come to my aid?" At this the executioner, Rashid a Turkish retainer of Ibn Ziyad, ordered Hani' to compose himself for the execution. Hani retorted, "By Allah! I will not aid you in my killing." Rashid struck at Hani''s head but could not kill him. Hani' cried out as he fell to the ground, "To Allah is the final return! O Allah! To your mercy and pleasure do I return." Rashid once again struck at Hani' and his blessed head was severed from his body.
Ibn Ziyad sent the severed heads of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah to Yazid together with a letter were explaining the situation in Kufah. Yazid wrote back to Ibn Ziyad thanking him and instructing him to prepare himself for the coming of the Imam al-Husayn. Yazid also gave orders for the heads to be hung on the gate of the city of Damascus.
'Abd Allah ibn al-Zabir recited the following verses concerning Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah:
If you do not know what death is,
Then look at Hani' and Ibn 'Aqil in the marketplace. 
Look at a hero whose face the sword has covered with wounds 
And at another who fell dead from a high place.
The command of the governor struck them down, 
And they became legends for those who travel on every road.
You see a corpse whose colour death has changed 
And a spattering of blood, which has flown abundantly.
(Kitab al-Irshad)
Two men, Aradil and Awbash, tied the headless bodies of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah behind their horses with ropes and dragged them through the streets of Kufah. The tribe of Madhhij, after learning about the fate of Hani' ibn 'Urwah and Muslim ibn 'Aqil mounted their horses and fought with Aradil and Awbash until they reclaimed the two bodies. Then they washed, shrouded and buried the bodies. 
(Ma'ali al-Sibtayn)
An Arab poet recites in the lamentation of Muslim ibn 'Aqil
They threw your body from the palace after tying you. 
Has any limb remained intact?
You were tied and dragged through their streets. 
Were you not their commander until yesterday?
Will you die without the wailing women crying for you? 
Do you not have anyone to weep for you in this city?
Even if you were mercilessly killed, cries of grief were heard 
As news of your death reached [the people of] Zarud
It is also reported that Ibn Ziyad ordered the headless bodies of Muslim and Hani' to be tied by their feet behind horses and dragged through the streets. Then their bodies were crucified upside down on the gate of Kunasah and were sent off to Yazid. Yazid had the two heads mounted on the gates of Damascus.
(Maqtal al-Husayn Al-Muqarram)

source : http://abna.ir
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