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al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi

At the same time when Ibn Ziyad ordered the captives to be brought to his meeting place, he also ordered al-Mukhtar son of Abu ‘Ubayd al-Thaqafi to be brought to him, too. Al-Mukhtar had been in prison since the assassination of Muslim Ibn ‘Aqil.

When al-Mukhtar saw that horrific and most deplorable scene, he sighed loudly and an exchange of harsh words took place between him and Ibn Ziyad wherein the harshest words were al-Mukhtar's. Ibn Ziyad became burning with outrage and ordered him to be sent back to jail.31 Some say that he whipped him, blinding one of his eyes.32
After the execution of Ibn ‘Afif, al-Mukhtar was released due to the interference of ‘Abdullah son of ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab who asked Yazid to have him released. Yazid was the husband of al-Mukhtar's sister, Safiyya daughter of Abu ‘Ubayd al-Thaqafi. But Ibn Ziyad postponed carrying out Yazid's order for three days.

Having ordered the execution of Ibn ‘Afif, Ibn Ziyad delivered a speech wherein he abused the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), causing al-Mukhtar to denounce and to taunt him to his face saying, “You are the liar, O enemy of Allah and enemy of His Messenger! Rather, Praise to Allah Who dignified al-Husayn and his army with Paradise and with forgiveness just as He humiliated Yazid and his army with the fire and with shame.”

Ibn Ziyad hurled an iron bar at him that fractured his forehead, then he ordered him to be sent back to jail, but people reminded him that ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d was the husband of his sister while another brother-in-law was none other than ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Ibn al-Khattab].

They reminded him of his lofty lineage, so he changed his mind of having him killed, yet he insisted on sending him back to prison. For the second time did ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar write Yazid who in turn wrote ‘Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad ordering him to release the man.33
Al-Mukhtar incessantly kept after that informing the Shi’as of the merits which he knew of the companions of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), of how he rose seeking revenge for al-Husayn (‘a), and how he killed Ibn Ziyad and those who fought al-Husayn (‘a).34
One incident he narrated was the following that he recollected about the time when he was in Ibn Ziyad's jail:
‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith Ibn Nawfal Ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and Maytham al-Tammar were among his cellmates. ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith asked for a piece of iron to remove the hair in certain parts of his body saying, “I do not feel secure against Ibn Ziyad executing me, and I do not want him to do so while there is unwanted hair on my body.”

Al-Mukhtar said to him, “By Allah he shall not kill you, nor shall he kill me, nor shall you face except very little hardship before you become the governor of Basra!”

Maytham heard their dialogue, so he said to al-Mukhtar, “You yourself will rise seeking revenge for al-Husayn's blood, and you shall kill the same man who wants us to be killed, and you shall trample on his cheeks with your very foot.”35

This came to be exactly as these men had said. ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Harith was released from jail after Yazid's death and became the governor of Basra.

After only one year, al-Mukhtar rose seeking revenge against the killers of al-Husayn (‘a), killing Ibn Ziyad, Harmalah Ibn Kahil, Shimr Ibn Thul-Jawshan and a large number of the Kufians who had betrayed al-Husayn (‘a).

As Ibn Nama al-Hilli tells us, he [and his army] killed eighteen thousand Kufians, then almost ten thousand36 of them fled away from him and sought refuge with Mis’ab Ibn al-Zubayr. Among them was Shabth Ibn Rab’i who reached him riding a mule whose ears and tail he had cut off and who was wearing a torn outer garment and shouting, “Help! Lead us to fight this debauchee who demolished our homes and killed our honourable men!”37


31. al-Qazwini, Riyad al-Ahzan, p. 52.

32. Ibn Rastah, Al-A’laq al-Nafisa, p. 224.

33. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, pp. 178-179. Al-Qazwini, author of Riyad al-Ahzan, briefly narrates it on p. 58.

34. al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 10, p. 284, citing Ibn Nama's book Akhth al-Thar.

35. Ibn Abul-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, Vol. 1, p. 210 (Egyptian edition). al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 10, p. 284. al-Mufid, Al-Irshad.

36. al-Dinawari, Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, p. 295.

37. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 7, p. 146.

Adapted from: "Maqtal al-Husayn; Martyrdom Epic of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram"