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Oppression of al-Ashdaq

Ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] narrates the following:
Ibn Ziyad wanted to send ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn al-Harith al-Salami to Medina in order to inform ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id al-Ashdaq48 of the killing of al-Husayn (‘a), but he sought to be excused of such an undertaking, claiming to be sick. Al-Ashdaq refused to accept his excuse. Ibn Ziyad was described as very heavy-handed, nobody could tolerate his ire.

He ordered the man to rush and to buy another she-camel if the one he was riding was not fast enough, and not to let anyone reach the destination before him. He, therefore, rushed to Medina. A man from Quraish met him and asked him why he seemed to be in such a hurry. ‘The answer rests with the governor,' was his answer.

When Ibn Sa’id was informed of al-Husayn (‘a) having been killed, he was very happily excited and was subdued with elation. He ordered a caller to announce it in the city's alleys, and before long, the cries and the wailing coming from the Hashemite ladies mourning the Master of the Youths of Paradise (‘a) were heard like never before.

Those cries reached all the way to the house of al-Ashdaq who laughed and quoted a verse of poetry composed by ‘Amr Ibn Ma’di-karib saying,
Noisy with grief were the women of Banu Ziyad
As noisy as our women on the Rabbit Day.

He maliciously added saying, “A wailing noise like the one we raised when ‘Uthman was killed.”49 Then he turned to the grave of the Messenger of Allah (S) and again maliciously said, “Now we have gotten even with you, Messenger of Allah, for what you did to us during the Battle of Badr.” A number of men from the Anar rebuked him with shame for having made such a statement.50
He ascended the pulpit and said, “O people! It is a blow for a blow, and a crushing for a crushing! A sermon followed another! This is sound wisdom, so no nathr can do any good. He condemned us as we praised him, cut off his ties with us though we did not, just as it was his habit, and just as it was ours, but what else can we do to a man who drew his sword with the intention to kill us other than to put an end to the danger to which he exposed us?”
‘Abdullah Ibn al-Sa’ib stood up and said to him, “Had Fatima (‘a) been alive, and had she seen al-Husayn's [severed] head, she would have wept for him.” ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id rebuked him and said, “We are more worthy of Fatima than you: Her father was our uncle, her husband was our brother, his mother was our daughter. And had Fatima been alive, she would have cried but would not have blamed those who killed him in self defense.”51
‘Amr was very crude and uncouth, a man of legendary cruelty. He ordered ‘Amr Ibn al-Zubayr Ibn al-Awwam,52 head of the police force, after al-Husayn (‘a) had been killed, to demolish all the houses of Banu Hashim [the Prophet's clansmen]. He did, persecuting them beyond limits... He also demolished the home of Ibn Muti’ and beat people with cruelty.

They fled from him and went to [‘Abdullah] Ibn al-Zubayr.53 The reason why he was called “al-Ashdaq” [one whose jaws are twisted to the right or to the left] is due to the fact that his jaws were twisted after having gone to extremes in taunting Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (‘a).54

Allah, therefore, punished him [in this life before the hereafter] in the worst manner. He was carried to ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan in chains; once he had profusely remonstrated with the latter, he was ordered to be killed.55
Escorted by a number of women from her kinsfolk, the daughter of ‘Aqil Ibn Abu Talib went out to visit the grave of the Prophet (S) where she threw herself on it, burst in tears then turned to the Muhajirun and the Anasr and came forth instantaneously with these verses:
What will you on the Judgment Day
To the Prophet stand and say?
Surely what you will hear will be true:
Those who betrayed his Progeny were you.
Were you present, or were you not there at all
And justice is combined in the Lord of all...?
You handed it over to those who are never fair
So your intercession with Allah will go nowhere.
Though on the Taff Day absent was he,
Yet all the dead did your very eyes see.
You saw all those who did die
So to Allah you shall never come nigh

All those present wept. There was no such weeping ever before.56 Her sister, Zainab, kept mourning al-Husayn (‘a) in the most somber manner while repeating these verses:
What will you say when the Prophet to you will say:
How did you fare, since you are the last of nations,
With my Progeny and family after my demise?
Some of them were taken captives and some in blood stained.
That was not my reward for having advised you
That you should succeed me in faring ill with my family.57


48. According to p. 240, Vol. 5, of Ibn Hajar al-Haythami al-’Asqalani's book Mujma’ al-Zawa’id, and also according to p. 141 of his other book titled Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, Abu Hurayra is quoted as saying, “I have heard the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny, saying, ‘One of the tyrants of Banu Umayyah shall have a nosebleed on my pulpit, and his blood will flow thereupon.’” ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id did, indeed, have a nosebleed as he was on the pulpit of the Messenger of Allah (S), staining it with his blood.

49. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 368.

50. Shaikh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Nafs al-Mahmum, p. 222.

51. ’Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 131.

52. According to p. 23, Vol. 4, of al-Balathiri's book Ansab al-Ashraf, the mother of ‘Amr Ibn al-Zubayr was Asma’ daughter of Khalid Ibn Sa’id Ibn al-As. Her father was in command of an army which ‘Amr Ibn Sa’id al-Ashdaq dispatched to Mecca to fight ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr. Abdullah's army captured ‘Amr Ibn al-Zubayr, so ‘Abdullah ordered everyone who had suffered an injustice at his hand to whip him. The whipping caused his death.

53. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Al-Aghani, Vol. 4, p. 155.

54. al-Mirzabani, Mu’jam al-Shu’ara’, p. 231.

55. Abu Hilal al-’Askari, Jamharat al-Amthal, p. 9 (Indian edition).

56. Shaikh al-Tusi, Al-Amali, p. 55. On p. 227, Vol. 2, of his book Al-Manaqib, Ibn Shahr Ashub says it was Asma’ who had composed those verses.

57. These verses verbatim are recorded on p. 51 of Ibn Nama's book Muthir al-Ahzan, on p. 96 of Ibn Tawus's book Al-Luhuf, and on p. 36, Vol. 4, of Ibn al-Athir's book Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, but the latter concedes that they were by [Zainab] the daughter of ‘Aqil Ibn Abu Talib, and so does Abul-Rayhan al-Biruni who states so on p. 329 of his book Al-Athar al-Baqiya. The same is stated by Ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] on p. 268, Vol. 6, of his Tarikh, but he quotes only two lines. Ibn Qutaybah, on p. 212, Vol. 1, of his book ‘Uyun al-Akhbar, says that there is a disagreement among the scholars about these verses. On p. 76, Vol. 2, of al-Khawarizmi's book Maqtal al-Husayn, it is stated that they were by Zainab daughter of ‘Aqil Ibn Abu Talib.

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