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Personalities

Students and Companions of Imam Zayn al-Abidin(a.s.) - Part 8

151. Mohammed Ibn Shaha`b

al-Zuhri. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and added that he was an enemy.

He ascribed him to his great grandfather, so his real name is as follows: Mohammed b. Muslim b. 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abd Allah b. Shaha`b. It is necessary for us to talk briefly about some of his affairs:

 

A. His Birth

Al-Zuhri was born in the year 50 A. H. As for what was said that he and the Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin had the same age, it was not right, for the Ima`m was thirteen years older than him.

 

B. His Childhood

Al-Zuhri grew up in Medina (Yathrib). He communicated with Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and took a lot of his knowledge as well as he communicated with other than him from among the sons of the Companions (of the Prophet).

 

C. His Scientific Position

Ibn Hajar and Ibn Kuthayr said: "Al-Zuhri was among the Ima`ms of the Muslims.
Al-Layth said: "I have never seen a scholar more qualified than (Mohammed) b. Shaha`b or more knowledgeable than him. If I hear him speak about the arousal of an interest (targhib), I will say: 'None speaks well (about it) except this (i.e. Mohammed b. Shaha`b).' If he speaks about man, I will say: 'None knows (man) except this.' If he speaks about the Qur'a`n and the Sunna, his speech is comprehensive.'" Al-Layth reported on the authority of al-Zuhri (i.e. Mohammed b. Shaha`b), who said: "None of the people has spread knowledge as I have done.

D. His Generosity

Mohammed was among the generous Arabs. Concerning him 'Umar and Ibn Dina`r said: "I have never seen anyone more conforming to the text of the hadith than al-Zuhri or more than him in making little of the dina`r and the dirham. The dina`rs and the dirhams with him were like dung." Concerning him, Fa`iyid b. Aqram said:

Visit this and praise Mohammed, the generous
and mention his excellencies over the companions.

If it is said: Who gives his possessions generously?

It will be said: The munificent one, Mohammed b.Shaha`b.Raja`' Ibn Haya`t blamed al-Zuhri for prodigality, saying: "The Umayyads may withhold from giving to you, and hence you will destroy your expectations." Al-Zuhri promised to refrain from wasting.

After this Raja`' Ibn Haya`t passed by al-Zuhri and found him spreading table-clothes loaded with honey and other foods, hence he said to him: "O Aba` Bakr, this is not what you had promised to do!" "Dismount! I am the munificent who do not avail himself of experiences!" explained al-Zuhri. A poet composed a poem on these words of al-Zuhri, starting it with:

The clouds of munificence, whose rain is white sliver and gold, are in his fingers!

 

His Ties with the Umayyads

Al-Zuhri had strong ties with the Umayyads. He followed their policy and sincerely defended their persecutions. Hence they gave him properties lavishly. For example Hisha`m gave him eighty thousand dirhams that he mighty pay his debts.

Then al-Zuhri visited 'Abd al-Malik in Damascus, and he gave him a lot of money to help him pay his debts, and appointed for him a share of the Muslim Public Treasury.

 

With Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin

Al-Zuhri admired Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, very much. The historians narrated a group of valuable words through which he praised the excellencies of the Ima`m, his abundant jurisprudence and knowledge. I (the author) mentioned this in the previous chapters.

 

The Ima`m relieved him

Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, removed al-Zuhri's worry. The historians said: "Al-Zuhri was the governor of the Umayyads. He tortured a man to the extent that the man died of torture. He was afraid of Allah, hence he escaped and entered a cave to serve Allah in it. The Ima`m went to the Sacred House of Allah to perform the hajj. He passed by the cave where al-Zuhri was.

He was asked: 'Have you any need with al-Zuhri?' He responded to them and went to meet him in the cave. He found him frightened and hopeless of Allah's mercy. Hence he said to him: 'I fear for you of despair more than I fear for you of your crime. Send blood money to his family and go to your family and your religion.' Accordingly, al-Zuhri became happy and said to him: 'You have relieved me, my master. Allah knows better where to place his message.' Then al-Zuhri left the Ima`m and went to his family.
The Ima`m saved him from a permanent worry which was about to kill him.

 

The Ima`m's Letter to al-Zuhri

Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, wrote the following letter to al-Zuhri. The letter is one of the excellent political documents in Islam. In it the Ima`m criticized him for his relationship with the Umayyads and his rendering services to them. He warned him against Allah's chastisement and punishment. The letter is as follows:

"May Allah spare you and me from discords. May He have mercy on you (through saving) you from the Fire. He who recognizes your condition must have mercy on you. Allah lavished His favors upon you when He gave you sound body and prolonged your span. He established His arguments against you when he charged you with His Book, made you understand your religion, and made you recognize the Sunna of His Prophet Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family.

He appointed for you a duty in every favor which He bestowed upon you, and every argument which He produced against you. When He decreed (a thing), He tried your gratitude toward it and manifested therein His favor toward you. Hence He said: If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, my chastisement is truly severe.

"So think, which sort of man will you be tomorrow when you stand before Allah, and He questions you about His favors toward you: How did you guard them? About His arguments against you, how did you perform them? Think not that Allah will accept your excuse, nor will He be satisfied with your negligence. Far be it from Him! Far be it from Him! This is not His (justice).

He made it in His Book incumbent on the scholars when He said: You shall certainly make it known to men and you shall not hide it.1 Know that the least (thing) you have hidden and the slightest (thing) you have done is that you have entertained the unjust during their lonesomeness, and made easy for them the path to error through your nearness to them when have come near to them, and your response to them when they summoned you.

So I fear that you will return with your sins tomorrow along with the traitors, and that you will be questioned about what you have taken through your helping the oppressive with their oppression. You have taken that which does not belong to you from him who has given to you, and you have approached him who has not returned rights to their owners, nor have you repelled falsehood when he has brought you near.
You have loved those who have swerved from Allah. Did they (the oppressive) not summon you to make you as a pole in order to turn the mill of their persecutions through you, a bridge to cross over you to their afflictions, a ladder to their acts of misguidance, summoner to their error, and a follower of their way? Through you they (make people) doubt the scholars, and incline the hearts of the ignorant toward them. Neither their special ministers nor their strong helpers have reached what you have reached in setting right their corruption and (making) the elite and commonality refer to them.

How little is what they have given to you in comparison with what they have taken from you! How little is what they have set up for you! So how is that which they have ruined against you? Hence reflect on yourself, for none reflects on it other than you. Reckon with it with the reckoning of a responsible man.
"Consider carefully your gratitude to Him who nourished you with His favors when young and old. I fear that you will be as Allah has said in His Book: Then there came after them an evil posterity who inherited the Book, taking only the frail good of this low life and saying: We will be forgiven!1 You are not in the abode of permanence. You are in the abode which has showed departure. One's subsistence after his companions is useless. Blessed is he who is fearful (of Allah) in the world! How miserable is he who dies and his sins remain behind him!

"Beware! For you have been told about (departure). Hasten, for you have been postponed. You deal with Him who is not ignorant. He who keeps against you is not heedless! Prepare yourself, for a distant journey has approached you. Remedy your sins, for they have become dangerous maladies. Think not that I want to scold you or to revile you. However, I want Allah to refresh your past opinion, and to return to you your forgotten religion, and I have mentioned these words of Allah, the Exalted: And continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers.

"Have you disregarded mentioning your past companions and remained behind them like a ewe with broken horn? Think! Were they tried as you have been tried? Did they fall into that which you have fallen? Or do you think that they knew the good which you have mentioned, and were they ignorant of what you have known? Rather you have attained what has rested in the breasts of the populace. For they have followed your opinion and work in accordance with your command. They have clung to you. If you regard something as lawful, they will regard it as lawful, and if you regard something unlawful, they will regard it as unlawful. You have not (such qualities).

However, the things which have made them support you are: their desire in that which in your hands, the absence of their (religious) scholars, the dominance of ignorance over you and them, love for presidency, you and they have sought the world. Do you not consider the ignorance and vainglory in which you are? (Do you not consider) the trial and temptation in which the people are? What they have seen has tempted them and distracted them from their earnings. Hence their souls have yearned for reaching the knowledge which you have reached in order to attain through it what you have attained. Because of you, they have fallen into a see whose depth none can reach, and into a trial which none can ordain. You and we belong to Allah, and we seek help from him.

"Now then, turn away from that in which you are, that you may follow the righteous, who were buried in their worn clothes, whose stomachs were adhered to their backs, whom nothing veiled from Allah, the world seduced not, nor were they fascinated by it, who desired (Allah), sought (Him), but shortly after this, they joined (Him). If the world has attained this degree of you( in spite of your old age, the firmness of your knowledge, and the presence of your origin(then how the youngster is safe in his age, the ignorant in his knowledge, the feeble in his opinion, and the abnormal in his intellect?

We belong to Allah and to Him is our return! To whom shall we speak? And whom shall we admonish? We complain to Allah of our grief and what we see in you! Allah is sufficient for us regarding our affliction through you!

"Hence, think! How will you thank Him who nourished you through His favors when young and old? How will you magnify Him who has adorned you with His religion among the people? How will you preserve the covering of Him who has covered you over among them? How is your nearness and remoteness from Him who commanded you to be near to Him in lowliness?

Why do you not be attentive of your heedlessness, release (yourself) from your stumble, and say: By Allah, I did not stand for Allah one time through which I gave life to religion or deadened falsehood for His sake? Is this your thanksgiving to Him who has charged you (with His Book)? I fear that you will be as Allah has said in His Book: Who neglected prayers and followed the sensual desires, so they will meet perdition.1 Allah has entrusted you with His Book, and deposit His knowledge with you, but you have neglected them.
As a result, we praise Allah who has released us from that through which He has tried you! Greetings! I (the author) thing that there is no political document more wonderful than this one. This is because the Ima`m:

* criticized al-Zuhri for his communicating with the Umayyads, for he had exalted scientific position.
* made it incumbent on (the Muslims) to refrain from communicating with the Umayyad unjust government.
* showed that al-Zuhri made the hearts of the people inclined to the Umayyads when he joined them.
* indicated that the Umayyads employed al-Zuhri as bridge to cross over him in order to persecute the subjects and to deprive them of their rights.

* explained that the Umayyads spent lavishly on al-Zuhri to strip him of his religion and dignity.
* proved that the youths sought knowledge for attaining official jobs, not for Allah, as al-Zuhri did.
* reminded al-Zuhri of Allah's favors toward him and warned him against His punishment and
vengeance.

 

AL-Zuhri's Narrations from the Ima`m

Al-Zuhri narrated a group of traditions from the Ima`m. Some of the traditions concern Islamic law; some concern the manners of conduct and noble moral traits; some concern the Ima`m's affairs and conditions. We mentioned these traditions in the previous chapters.

Al-Zuhri accused of Showing Enmity toward Ahl al-Bayt

In his book 'al-Rija`l', Shaykh al-Tu`si mentioned that al-Zuhri was among those who detested the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them. This has been mentioned by some other eminent religious scholars. However, our sources which have mentioned many of his affairs have not mentioned that he showed enmity toward them.

Al-Sayyid al-Khu`'i said: "According to what we have mentioned, it seems that the enmity which has been ascribed to him (al-Zuhri), according to what Shaykh (al-Tu`si) has mentioned, has not been established. Rather it is not authentic apparently.

 

The Death of al-Zuhri

Al-Zuhri died in the year 123 A. H. It was said that he died in a year other than this.

152. Mohammed Ibn 'Ali

b. al-Husayn3, Ima`m al-Ba`qir, the one who split open the knowledge of those who were before and after him. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of those who narrated on the authority of his father ,Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.

He, peace be on him, was among the great figures of the world, among those who made the history of the Muslim community when he spread knowledge all over its lands. Praise belongs to Allah, I (the author) had the honor to write about his brilliant behavior, which belonged to that of his fathers, from whom Allah took away the uncleanliness and purified completely, hence I think that there is no need to write about it again. For further information, please, see 'The Life of Ima`m Mohammed al-Ba`qir'.

153. Mohammed Ibn 'Umar

b. Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and added: "It was said that he did not narrate on his authority."

Ibn Shara`shu`b said: "His father, 'Umar, mistreated Ima`m 'Ali b. al-Husayn, and shortly after this Mohammed came to the Ima`m and began kissing him, hence the Ima`m said to him: 'My cousin, your father's turning away from me will not prevent me from continuing ties with my blood relations; to prove this I am going to marry you to my daughter, Khadija.

154. Mohammed Ibn Qays

al-Ansa`ri. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.

155. Muslim Ibn 'Ali

Ibn Butayn. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.

156. Ma'ru`f Ibn Kharbu`dh

Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.
Al-Kashi numbered him as one of the group of the people whom the band (i.e. the Shi'ites) regarded as trustworthy and followed in jurisprudence.

He narrated on the authority of Ima`m 'Ali b. al-Husayn, Ima`m Abi Ja'far, peace be on them, Abi al-Tufayl, and al-Hakam b. al-Mustawrad. Hana`n b. Sudayr, al-Rabi' al-Musalli, 'Abd Allah b. Sana`n, and others reported on his authority. Ibn Hayya`n regarded him as trustworthy.

157. Mundhir al-Thawri

Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.
Ibn Hajar said: "Al-Mundhir b. Ya'li, Abu` Ya'li al-Ku`fi, reported on the authority of Mohammed b. 'Ali b. Abi Ta`lib, al-Rabi' b. Khuthaym, Sa'id b. Jubayr, and others." Ibn Sa'd numbered him as one of the third class in Ku`fa and said: "He was a reliable (traditionalist) and narrated few traditions.

158. Al-Minha`l Ibn 'Amru`

al-Asadi. According to this title, Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, and of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.

He narrated on the authority of Ima`m 'Ali b. al-Husayn, Ima`m Abi Ja'far, and Ima`m Abi 'Abd Allah, peace be on them. Ibn Ma'n, al-Nisa`'i, and others regarded him as trustworthy.

159. Al-Minha`l Ibn 'Amru`

al-Ta`'i. He met Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, in Syria when he was taken as captive to the most tyrannical of the Umayyads, Yazid b. Mu'a`wiya, and asked him: "How have you received the evening, O son of the Apostle of Allah?"

The Ima`m, peace be on him, him and answered him: " Woe unto you! How have we received the evening? We received the evening like the Israelites among the people of Pharaoh: they kill their sons and take their women captive.

160. Maymu`n al-Ba`n

Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, of the companions of Ima`m al-Ba`qir, and of Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on them.

161. Maymu`n al-Qidda`h

Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.
Maymu`n frequently visited the pure Ima`ms, peace be on them, hence he understood their words and purposes. In this connection Sala`m b. Sa'id al-Makhzu`mi said: "While I was sitting with Abi 'Abd Allah, peace be on him, 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr (the worshipper of the people of Basrah), b. Shurayh (the jurist of the people of Ku`fa) came to him. Maymu`n al-Qidda`h, the retainer of Abi Ja'far, peace be on him, was already with Abi 'Abd Allah, peace be on him. 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr asked:
'O Aba` 'Abd Allah, how many garments did you use to shroud Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family?' '(We used three garments: two garments called Saha`ri and one garment was called Hibra, and it was little cold,' answered Aba` 'Abd Allah. It seemed that 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr was not satisfied (with this answer), hence Abu` 'Abd Allah said: 'The date-palm of Maryam was a stone when it came down from the heaven.'

When they left him, 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr said to b. Shurayh: 'By Allah, I do not know (the meaning) of this example Abu` 'Abd Allah gave to me.' Hence b. Shurayh said: 'This young man (i.e. Maymu`n al-Qudda`h) can tell you (about its meaning), for he belongs to them (the Ima`ms).' 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr asked Maymu`n, and he answered: 'Do you not know what he said to you?'

'No, I do not,' replied 'Abba`d b. Kuthayr. 'He gave you an example concerning himself; he told you that he was among the children of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, hence he has the knowledge of Allah's Messenger; therefore their knowledge is right and others' knowledge is wrong.

162. Yahya` Ibn Umm al-Tawil

al-Matt'ami. Shaykh al-Tu`si numbered him as one of the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.

Yahya was an excellent believer. It is enough for his high position that Ima`m Abu` 'Abd Allah al-Sa`diq said: "After the murder of al-Husayn, peace be on him, the men renounced their (doctrine) except three persons, who were Abu` Kha`lid al-Ka`buli Yahya`, Ibn Umm al-Tawil, and Jubayr b. Mtt'im, and then the men followed (us) and became great in number.

Al-Hajja`j b. Yousif al-Thaqafi ( the tyrannical, criminal governor ) ordered Yahya` to be brought before him. When Yahya`was brought before him, he ordered him to curse Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, but Yahya refused to curse the Ima`m. Hence al-Hajja`jj commanded his swordsmen to cut off his hands and his legs and to kill him, and they did.1 As a result, Yahya` died martyr for his faith and religion.

163. Abu` Maryam

He was among Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin's companions who were called with their kunya. His real name is Bukayr b. Habib. I (the author) have found no other information about him.

164. Umm al-Birr

She was one of the women who narrated on the authority of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him. She was a meritorious lady. It was said that her name was Habba`ba al-Wa`libiya.. With this we will end our speech about the companions of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, the narrators of his traditions, and his students who formed the science society in that time, for they availed themselves of his knowledge, which played an important role in creating the science movement in those times.