The Journey of Muslim ibn 'Aqil
- :Ali Hussain Jalali
The Imam sent three people with Muslim: Qays Ibn Mash'ar al-Saydawi, 'Imarah Ibn 'Abdullah al-Saluli and 'Abdul Rahman Ibn 'Abdullah al-Azdi. The Imam said to Muslim, "Fear God, and check to see if whatever the people of Kufah are saying in their letters is true. If that is the case, write me a letter immediately about the situation."
Muslim left Mecca on the 15th of Ramadan traveling by way of Medinah. He went to Masjid al-Nabi and prayed there. Then he bade farewell to his relatives and asked two people to help lead the way for him to Kufah. On the way, they were lost and decided to stop, but Muslim kept going. He did not stop until he reached a place called Batn al-Khabt where he found some water and stayed. He immediately sent a messenger to Imam Husayn and informed him of what happened. The Imam replied that he should continue towards Kufah without any delay. On his way he stayed near the water of the tribe of Tay, then he left.
He arrived in Kufah on the 5th of Shawwal and went to the house of Mukhtar Ibn Abi Ubayd al-Thaqafi who was an intelligent, experienced person and a follower of the People of the House. From his arrival, all the Followers of Kufah gathered to Muslim's house expressing their welcome and obedience to the Imam. After Muslim read the Imam's letter to them, 'Abis Ibn Shabib al-Shakiri stood up and said, "I am not talking on behalf of these people and I do not know what they have in mind and I do not deceive you. I swear by God I tell you what I believe and what I will do, I will be there whenever you call me and I fight for you against your enemy, and I shall use my sword for you, until I reach my Lord, and I do not need anything but nearness to God."
Habib Ibn Muzahir stood and said, "You said what is in your heart briefly, and I swear by God that I say the same thing." Sa'id Ibn 'Abdullah al-Hanafi stood and said similar things and then people paid allegiance to Muslim, and they were counted as 18,000, and in another report 25,000, and in Shi'bi's report, 40,000. Then, Muslim wrote a letter to the Imam and sent it with 'Abis Ibn Shabib al-Shakiri, explaining the situation and the intense desire of the people for his arrival. In his letter he said, "A leader does not lie to his people. The people of Kufah, so far, have paid allegiance to me, 18,000 of them, so depart for Kufah as you receive my letter."
This happened twenty-seven nights before Muslim's death. The Kufans wrote to the Imam, "Continue on your way. You have 100,000 swords here. Please do not hesitate to come as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, those who were allied with the Umayyads, such as 'Umar Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas wrote to Yazid telling him of the movement of Muslim and the people of Kufah and pointing out that his present governor, an-Nu'man Ibn Bashir is not fit to stand against them. Yazid consulted his Christian chief advisor, Sirjawn. He advised Yazid to replace the governor with 'Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad who was a known bastard. Marjanah 1 is his mother and he is called Ibn Ziyad even though the identity of his father is not known. Sirjawn reminded Yazid that his father, Mu'awiyah adopted Ibn Ziyad and trained him in the military, and added that it was Mu'awiyah's wish to use Ibn Ziyad. Then, he gave Yazid a letter sealed by Mu'awiyah, predicting the importance of Ibn Ziyad in difficult situations. Yazid immediately opened the letter and implemented his father's plan.
'Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyad was in Basrah, not far from Kufah. Yazid wrote to him, "Go to Kufah, capture Muslim Ibn 'Aqil, and see what is appropriate to imprison him, send him to exile, or kill him."
Ibn Ziyad went with five hundred people from Basrah and he did not delay or stop for any reason. Some of his people got sick on the way, and he left them to die in the desert. When he arrived in al-Qadisiyyah, his servant, Mahran, fell behind, and Ibn Ziyad left him to die.
Before he reached the city, Ibn Ziyad dressed up like Imam Husayn so that, when he passed through the guards and the people, they would think that he was the Imam. They came to him and said, "O, grandson of the Prophet of God," but he did not reply at all. When he reached Kufah from the Najaf entrance, people came to him welcoming him with one voice, but he did not reply and continued immediately towards Qasr al-lmarah, the castle of the governor. When he knocked on the door, the governor an-Nu'man did not open. Instead, he went up to the roof and said, "O Son of the Messenger of God! I am not going to welcome you in this castle!"
Ibn Ziyad said, "Open the door, your night will be too long."
When someone heard him and realized that it was a trick, he said, "O people! I swear by the Ka'bah that this is Ibn Ziyad, not Imam Husayn!"
The people all ran away to their houses, and in the morning Ibn Ziyad announced a meeting in Masjid al-Kufah, and made a speech warning them and encouraging the enemies of the Prophet's House by giving bribes.
He said, "Anyone who helps the enemy of the governor and does not report that to us will be hanged in front of his own house!"
1 Marjana, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad's mother, was such a notorious prostitute that everybody all over the Islamic State had heard of her name.
Adapted from the book: "Karbala & Ashura" by: "Ali Hussain Jalali"
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