'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar

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Companion of Imam (a)
'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar
Full Name 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar
Companion of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Lineage Banu Layth
Wellknown Relatives Imam al-Husayn (a)
Place(s) of Residence Medina
Death/Martyrdom 61/680
Cause of
Death/Martyrdom
Killed by 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad
Activities Representative of Imam al-Husayn (a) in Kufa

ʿAbd Allāh b. Yaqṭar (Arabic:عبد الله بن يقطر) was Rida'i brother of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his representative in Kufa who accompanied Muslim. He was caught by Huṣayn b. Numayr, a commander of Ibn Ziyad in Qadisiyya. After that he refused to swear at Imam Ali (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), he was thrown down from Dar al-Khilafa. Some sources have mentioned the same about Qays b. Musahhar and regarded 'Abd Allah among the martyrs of Karbala.

His Lineage

'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar b. Abi 'Aqb Laythi is a descendant of Bani Layth b. Bakr b. 'Abd Manaf b. Kinana was Rida'i brother of Imam al-Husayn (a), therefore, Ibn Hajar considered him among the Companions. Since he belonged to Himyar, some considered him Yemeni and from Himyar tribe. He was born in Medina.

His Parents

'Abd Allah's father was Yaqtar and his mother was Maymuna. According to some historians, his father was originally Yemeni. Yaqtar was a servant of the Prophet (s) and his wife, Maymuna worked in the house of Imam Ali (a), thus Maymuna took care of Imam al-Husayn (a) in his childhood and became famous as Rida'i mother of Imam (a). In Khulasa, al-'Allama al-Hilli mentioned the name of his father as Yaqtar, but al-Tabari mentioned it as Baqtar. Yusufi Gharawi reported al-Tabari's quote and mentioned that, "our sources regarded Yaqtar correct."

His Birth and Childhood

Many sources regarded 'Abd Allah as Rida'i brother of Imam al-Husayn (a), thus his birth can be regarded in 4 AH. According to some reports, he was born three days before Imam al-Husayn (a).

However, some recent scholars do not accept that his mother suckled Imam al-Husayn (a), but they say that, 'Abd Allah's mother took care of Imam al-Husayn (a) and that was why she became famous as his Rida'i mother. They believe that Imam (a) was not suckled by anyone other than Lady Fatima (a). Some sources mentioned his title as Himyari.

Ambassador in Kufa

After Muslim b. 'Aqil went to Kufa, Imam al-Husayn (a) sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar to Kufa too. He went to Kufa after Muslim b. 'Aqil sent a letter to Imam (a) and informed him of the allegiance of the people of Kufa with Imam (a). Thus, Imam (a) sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar with a letter to Muslim to inform him of the moving of Imam's (a) caravan.

However, there are different reports about the time of his travel to Kufa:

  • Before Muslim b. 'Aqil
  • After Muslim and after his letter
  • Accompanied Muslim to Kufa, but after Muslim saw the betrayal of the people of Kufa, sent him to Imam (a) to deliver the news of Kufa to him.

According to some reports, 'Abd Allah was caught in this travel.

  • He accompanied Muslim, and when people gave allegiance to Muslim, he sent 'Abd Allah to Medina to give him the news about allegiance of people.

Imam al-Husayn's (a) Letter

"In the Name of God, the All-Compassionate, the Most Merciful. From Husayn b. Ali (a) to his Muslim and faithful brothers. Peace be with you. Praise be to God, there is no god other than Him. So, I received the letter of Muslim. That letter showed your unity and good thought of yours for helping us and taking back our lost rights. I ask God to make our destiny good and grant you best of rewards for your good works. I moved from Mecca to see you on Tuesday, 8th of Dhu al-Hijja, the Day of Tarwiya. When my representative come to you, hasten in your affairs and try and be prepared that I will, God-willing, soon meet you. Blessings and mercy of God be upon you."

Capturing of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar

Hasin b. Numayr or Hasin b. Tamim caught 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar and sent him to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad. Ibn Ziyad asked him to go up on the roof of Dar al-Imara palace and swear at Imam al-Husayn (a) and his father and calls them liar. He went up on the roof of the palace and said, "O people, I am sent by al-Husayn (a), help him against Ibn Marjana and Ibn Sumayya." And called Ibn Ziyad, "Vile, son of vile".

Finding Muslim b. 'Aqil's Letter

Malik b. Yarbu' al-Tamimi sent a letter to Ibn Ziyad, he had taken from 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar. In that letter, it was written,

"To Husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib (a). So, I inform you that a group of the people of Kufa who are such and such have given allegiance to you. When you receive my letter, move (towards Kufa) immediately because majority of people are with you and do not side with Yazid."

Then, Ibn Ziyad ordered to kill 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar.

His Martyrdom

Ibn Ziyad ordered to throw 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar down the roof of the palace, when his bones were broken. Then, someone went forth and beheaded him and when people objected, he said that he wanted to relieve him of pain. Al-Tabari mentioned 'Abd al-Malik b. 'Umayr al-Lakhmi as his killer. He was a judge during a period of Umayyad rule and was famous for mischief and wrong doing.

Ibn Kathir reported the same story about Qays b. Musahhar. He reported the martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar on the Day of 'Ashura together with Imam al-Husayn (a). Al-Shaykh al-Mufid counted him among the martyrs of Karbala on the Day of 'Ashura too. He considered Qays b. Musahhar as the letter-bearer. Although in al-Irshad, he also mentioned about 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar as a weak report. Ibn Sa'd reported his martyrdom on the first day of entering Ibn Ziyad to Kufa which was before the martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil.

Ibn Qutayba and Ibn Miskawayh said that the person Imam al-Husayn (a) sent with a letter to Muslim was Qays b. Musahhar. They said that 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar was sent together with Muslim b. 'Aqil and when Muslim saw that people left him alone, sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar back to Imam (a) to inform him of what happened to him, but 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar was caught by Husayn b. Tamim and was sent to 'Ubayd Allah.

Imam al-Husayn (a) and the Martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar

When Imam al-Husayn (a) was informed about the martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar, he (a) made a speech and said that, "O people! Our supporters abandoned us and Muslim, Hani, Qays b. Musahhar and 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar were killed." Then, Imam (a) turned to his companions and told them that they were free to continue the way with Imam (a). Many of the people who had come with Imam (a) for worldly desires left and only those who had come with him from Medina remained.

Letter-bearer was 'Abd Allah or Qeys?

In many sources, the martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar and Qays b. Musahhar have been reported similarly, so that one story has been reported for both of them exactly the same way. With a careful analysis of the sources, it can be learned that there are differences between delivering the letter by each of them.

Imam (a) first sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar with a letter to Kufa and he went there from a path. Then, he (a) gave another letter to Qays b. Musahhar, but sent him to Kufa from another path. But they both were caught by the agents of Ibn Ziyad and were martyred. Howevver, the way they were martyred was similar:

  • Imam (a) sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar through a region called Hajiz and heard the news of his martyrdom in a place called Zabala.
  • He (a) sent Qeys b. Musahhar from a place called Bayda and received the news of his martyrdom in a place called 'Udhayb.

References