Muslim b. Aqil
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|Full Name||Muslim b. Aqil b. Abi Talib|
|Companion of||Imam al-Hasan (a) • Imam al-Husayn (a)|
|Wellknown Relatives||The Prophet (s) • Imam Ali (a) • Imam al-Hasan (a) • Imam al-Husayn (a) • Aqil b. Abi Talib|
|Place of Birth||Medina|
|Place(s) of Residence||Medina|
|Death/Martyrdom||Dhu l-Hijja 9, 60/ September 10, 680|
|Cause ofDeath/Martyrdom||Martyred by Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad|
|Activities||Imam al-Husayn's (a) representative in Kufa • participating in the battle of Siffin|
|Mourning of Muharram|
Muslim b. ʿAqīl b. Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: مسلم بن عقیل بن ابي طالب), cousin of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his representative in the Kufa before Battle of Karbala and was from Al Abi Talib. Muslim was present in some conquest of Muslims as well as the Battle of Siffin. He went to Kufa as a representative of Imam al-Husayn (a) to provide the Imam with a status report of the city and make sure that the people of Kufa are persistent and truthful in their invitation of the Imam. In a report to the Imam, he wrote that Kufans were prepared for the Imam's arrival.
However, after that 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad was appointed as the governor of Kufa, and because people were afraid of him, they suddenly left Muslim alone. Thus, he was arrested and martyred on the day of 'Arafa (Dhu l-Hijja 9), 60 (September 10, 680). The story of Muslim being left alone and his martyrdom in Kufa is the theme of a well-known lament recited by the Shi'as. The lament is recited on the day of 'Arafa and sometimes on Muharram 1.
Birth, Lineage and Martyrdom
His birthday is unknown. He was martyred on Dhu l-Hijja 9th 60 in Kufa (September 10, 680). On some accounts, Muslim was 28 years old when he was martyred. However, the account is objectionable because it is inconsistent with accounts according to which Muslim's sons, who were martyred in the Event of Ashura, were 26 and 27. Given that he was reportedly present in conquests as well as the Battle of Siffin, some people believe that he was over 50 when he was martyred. Muslim's grave is located in Kufa on the eastern side of the Mosque of Kufa.
His father Aqil b. Abi Talib (Imam Ali (a)'s brother) was a genealogist and an eloquent speaker.
His mother was a slave woman, Aqil had bought from Syria, called 'Alliyya (or according to al-Baladhuri's report Hilliyya).
Ibn Habban (d. 354/965), a Sunni scholar, writes, "Muslim b. 'Aqil al-Hashimi. His teknonym was Abu Dawud. He was the most similar person to the Prophet (s) among the sons of 'Abd al-Muttalib. He was contemporaneous with some of the companions of the Prophet (s)."
Baladhuri has described him as the most powerful and brave son of 'Aqil.
Wife and Children
Muslim married Ruqayya, the daughter of Imam 'Ali (a). So he was Imam Ali's son-in-law. According to some sources, he also had a wife from the clan of Banu 'Amir b. Sa'sa'a.
Muslim's children are mentioned in accounts of the Battle of Karbala. For example, when they gave the news of their father's martyrdom to Imam al-Husayn (a) on his way from Mecca to Kufa, 'Ali al-Akbar (a) suggested that they return, noting the disloyalty of the people of Kufa. Muslim's children disagreed, however, and encouraged the Imam to go on his way to Kufa. Moreover, some of Muslim's children are mentioned in old sources as martyrs of Karbala, including 'Abd Allah b. Muslim and Muhammad b. Muslim.
There are disagreements in historical sources regarding the names and the number of Muslim's children. In less reliable accounts in later sources, other children of Muslim b. Aqil are mentioned as martyrs of Karbala, such as 'Awn, Muslim, 'Ubayad Allah, Ja'far, and Ahmad. Some sources refer to two young children of Muslim (Muhammad and Ibrahim) who were captured after Imam al-Husayn's martyrdom, imprisoned in Kufa at the command of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, and were martyred after they escaped from the prison. However, some other sources believe that these two boys were not Muslim's children. The names of Muslim's children are differently mentioned in other sources, such as Ibrahim, 'Abd al-'Aziz, 'Ali, Muslim, and a daughter called Hamida or Umm Hamida.
Allegedly Abd Allah b. Muslim, and on some other accounts, both 'Abd Allah and 'Ali, were children of Ruqayya the daughter of Imam 'Ali (a).
Family tree of the Prophet (s)
|Timeline of the Battle of Karbala|
|Rajab 15||Death of Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan|
|Rajab 28||Departure of Imam al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a) from Medina.|
|Sha'ban 3||Arrival of Imam al-Husayn (a) to Mecca.|
|Ramadan 10||Arrival of Kufiyans' first letter to Imam (a)|
|Ramadan 12||Arrival of 150 letters from Kufa|
|Ramadan 14||Arrival of the letter from leaders of Kufa|
|Ramadan 15||Departure of Muslim b. 'Aqil from Mecca toward Kufa.|
|Shawwal 5||Arrival of Muslim b. 'Aqil to Kufa.|
|Dhu l-Hijja 8||Departure of Imam al-Husayn (a) form Mecca|
|Dhu l-Hijja 8||Uprising of Muslim b. 'Aqil in Kufa|
|Dhu l-Hijja 9||Martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil|
|Muharram 1||Asking for help of 'Ubayd Allah b. al-Hurr al-Ju'fi and 'Amr b. Qays in Banu Maqatil|
|Muharram 2||Arrival of Imam (a) to Karbala|
|Muharram 3||Arrival of 'Umar b. Sa'd with 4,000 people to Karbala|
|Muharram 6||Habib b. Muzahir's asking for help of Banu Asad|
|Muharram 7||Banding of water by 'Umar b. Sa'd|
|Muharram 7||Muslim b. 'Awsaja al-Asadi joined Imam (a)|
|Muharram 9||Arrival of Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan to Karbala|
|Muharram 9||Shimr's Safe conduct for Umm al-Banin's children|
|Muharram 9||Announcing of the Battle by 'Umar b. Sa'd and Imam's (a) asking for a delay|
|Muharram 10||Events of Ashura|
|Muharram 11||Moving the captives towards Kufa|
|Muharram 11||Burial of martyrs by Banu Asad|
|Muharram 12||Burial of a few member of martyrs|
|Muharram 13||Arrival of captives to Kufa|
|Muharram 19||Moving the captives from Kufa towards Syria|
|Safar 1||Arrival of the captives to Syria|
|Safar 20||Return of Ahl al-Bayt (a) to Karbala|
|Safar 20||Moving from Karbala toward Medina (in some accounts)|
What is known about Muslim b. 'Aqil's life before his representation of Imam al-Husayn (a) in Kufa is very little and scattered.
Presence in African conquests: one event in Muslim's life, according to some historical sources, is his presence in conquests of Northern Africa in 21/641-2. Muslim b. 'Aqil and some of his brothers, including Ja'far and 'Ali, attended the conquest of the city of al-Bahnasa (in Egypt).
Presence in the Battle of Siffin: another event in Muslim's life was his presence in the Battle of Siffin, as cited in some historical sources.
Imam Husayn's Representative in Kufa
Muslim accompanied Imam al-Husayn (a) when Imam departed Medina toward Mecca. But when Imam received numerous invitation letters from people of Kufa, he sent Muslim to Kufa to check if they are honest in their letters and also if the conditions are ready for his presence.
According to another report, Imam (a) sent Qays b. Mushir al-Saydawi, 'Amarat b. 'Abd al-Saluli and 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Abd Allah al-Arhabi along with Muslim and ordered him to be wary of God, hide his mission and tolerate people and get along with them; then if he sees that people are united and have a unanimous opinion, inform the Imam immediately.
Beginning of the Journey and Problems on the Way
Muslim b. 'Aqil left Mecca on Ramadan 15, 60/June 19, 680. He first went to Medina where he deployed two guides and then departed to Kufa. The journey to Medina was apparently intended to hide his intentions of going to Kufa. However, they were lost in the desert and were hungry and thirsty. The two guides died, but Muslim survived and arrived in an oasis, where he sent a messenger to Imam al-Husayn, told him the story, and asked him to cancel his mission because he took the story of his loss as a forewarning. However, the Imam commanded him to go on his way.
When Imam al-Husayn (a) left Medina to Mecca, he was accompanied by Muslim b. Aqil. When the Imam received letters from the people of Kufa, he sent Muslim to Kufa so that he evaluates the conditions of the city and makes sure about the claims made by Kufis to the effect that the Imam had many followers in the city, and then sends a report to the Imam. According to some hadiths, Imam al-Husayn sent Qays b. Mushir al-Saydawi, Umara b. 'Abd al-Saluli, and Abd al-Rahman b. Abd Allah al-Arhabi along with Muslim b. 'Aqil to Kufa.
Muslim in Kufa
Musilm arrived in Kufa on Shawwal 5/July 9. He stayed in Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd's house, or on some other accounts, in the house of Muslim b. 'Awsaja. The Shi'as frequently visited Muslim's residence, where he read Imam al-Husayn's (a) letter to them.
Allegiance of Kufans to Muslim
After his stay in Kufa, Muslim began to get people to pledge their allegiance to Imam al-Husayn (a). The conditions of the allegiance included the call to the Book of God, the tradition of the Prophet (s), fighting against unjust people, defense of the oppressed, helping the impoverished, assisting Ahl al-Bayt (a), peace with people with whom Ahl al-Bayt (a) are in peace and fighting those with whom Ahl al-Bayt (a) fight, listening to words and practices of Ahl al-Bayt (a), and never disobey them.
In Kufa, 12000 people pledged their allegiance to Muslim b. 'Aqil on behalf of Imam al-Husayn (a) and announced their preparation to help the Imam. On other accounts, the number of those who pledged their allegiance amounted to 18000 or 30,000. Having analyzed some events that took place after Muslim's stay in Kufa (including Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's easy defeat of the Uprising of Muslim and his takeover of the city), some researchers believe that the real number of those who pledged their allegiance to Muslim b. 'Aqil is much smaller than is cited in sources. Others have estimated the population of Kufa at the time based on historical accounts, concluding that male warriors in Kufa were over 60,000. Thus, those who pledged their allegiance to Muslim constituted only one-third of the warriors in Kufa. Thus, in an analysis of the conditions in which Imam moved to Kufa, it should be noted that people who did not pledge their allegiance to Muslim were not the Imam's opponents or advocates of the Umayyad dynasty. Many of them only remained neutral and stayed out of the conflict. Thus, the number of people who pledged their allegiance to Muslim was sufficient for an uprising in Kufa. This was why Imam al-Husayn (a) departed to Kufa upon the reception of Muslim's letter.
On Dhu l-Qa'da 11/ August 13, Muslim wrote a letter to Imam al-Husayn (a) in which he confirmed the large number of those who pledged their allegiance and invited the Imam to Kufa. The letter has been quoted differently in different sources. Thus, on different accounts, his letters refer to 12000, 18000, or, on some version, all people in Kufa.
Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's Entrance in Kufa
Upon Muslim's arrival in Kufa, Nu'man b. Bashir was the ruler of the city. According to historical sources, he was pacifist and gentle. According to some narrations, Nu'man was not on good terms with Yazid. When the news of people's allegiance to Muslim b. 'Aqil was circulated in Kufa, Nu'man b. Bashir gathered people and recommended them to avoid divisions. However, he said, "as long as people do not fight with me, I will not fight with them." When advocates of the Umayyad dynasty objected to Nu'man and called him "weak", he replied, "this is more pleasant to me than being strong and disobeying God." Yazid's advocates and agents, including 'Umar b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas and Muhammad b. al-Ash'ath al-Kindi, wrote a letter to Yazid and told him that if he wanted to retain Kufa, he had to act quickly because Nu'man b. Bashir, the present ruler of Kufa, was weak or pretended that he was weak. Thus, Yazid appointed 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, who was the ruler of Basra at the time, as the ruler of Kufa as well. According to historians, in his will to Yazid (which was kept by his servant and was then delivered to Yazid), Mu'awiya recommended Ibn Ziyad as a person who can suppress possible riots.
Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and his father, Ziyad b. Abih, were widely known by people as violent and cruel. Earlier caliphs usually deployed the family to suppress riots. For example, 'Ubayd Allah had violently suppressed Khawarij riots in Basra. Once he arrived in Kufa, things turned against Muslim b. 'Aqil all of a sudden, and many people of Kufa who intended to participate in an uprising against Yazid's government were scattered around to stay out of danger.
When he arrived in Kufa, Ubayd Allah tracked down the associates of Muslim b. 'Aqil. He threatened the heads of tribes and told them to provide him with names and whereabouts of people in their tribes who pledged allegiance to Muslim or promise that no person from their tribe will oppose the Umayyad; otherwise, their blood would be shed and their property would be confiscated.
After 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's arrival in Kufa and his threats and actions, Kufa was no longer safe. Thus, to protect his life, Muslim b. 'Aqil left Mukhtar's house and went to Hani b. 'Urwa, a prominent figure in Kufa at the time, asking him to give him refuge. Although Hani b. 'Urwa was worried about the risks, he gave refuge to Muslim. Thereafter, Shi'as went to Hani's house to meet Muslim.
The Plan to Murder Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad
According to a report cited in many historical sources, one day 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad wanted to give a visit to Sharik b. al-A'war al-Harithi, a Shi'a of Imam 'Ali, a friend of 'Ubayd Allah, and was resting in Hani's house because of his sickness. Before 'Ubayd Allah's arrival in the house, Sharik b. al-A'war suggested that Muslim hide somewhere in the house, and then at the right time, murder 'Ubayd Allah. When Ibn Ziyad arrived in Hani's house, Muslim b. 'Aqil refused to kill him because Hani b. 'Urwa did not want Ibn Ziyad to be killed in his own house, and because of a hadith from the Prophet (s) in which surprise killing was prohibited.
Some contemporary researchers have examined reports of the event and cast doubts over its accuracy. Some others take it to be totally fake and fabricated.
The Arrest of Hani and Muslim's Uprising
Muslim's connections to Shi'as were secret. However, 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad sent a spy called "Ma'qil" who pretended to be an advocate of Muslim b. 'Aqil and interested in meeting him, and Ibn Ziyad learned about Muslims' place through the spy. He then summoned Hani b. 'Urwa to his palace and asked him to surrender Muslim to him. Since Hani refused to do so, he was arrested. When Muslim heard about Hani's arrest, he asked his followers to start an uprising. According to historical sources, about 4000 people gathered together with the motto, "Ya Mansur, Amit" (Oh the victorious! Bring death). Muslim's forces included Abd al-Rahman b. Kariz the commander of Kindis, Muslim b. Awsaja, the commander of the Midhhajis, Abu Thumama al-Saydawi, the commander of Tamim and Hamdan, and 'Abbas b. Ja'da b. Hubayra, the commander of the Quraysh and Ansar. They advanced towards and surrounded the palace. Inside the palace were only 50 people including 'Ubayd Allah's guards and close associates.
'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad asked some prominent figures of Kufa who were inside the palace with him, such as Muhammad b. Ash'ath, Kathir b. Shihab, Shabath b. Rib'i, Qa'qa' b. Shur, Hajjar b. Abjar, and Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan to go to the crowd, give them promises, and threaten them against the army of al-Sham in order to deter them from helping Muslim and Imam al-Husayn (a). The trick worked. According to historical reports, people were scared after the propagations of Ubayd Allah's companions. They ran away quickly until Muslim was left alone at night without a place to go to.
Muslim's Arrest and Martyrdom
When Muslim was left alone and without shelter, he took refuge in the house of a woman called Taw'a. However, in the morning, Taw'a's son informed governmental agents about Muslim's hideout. Ibn Ziyad sent Muhammad b. Ash'ath with seventy other people to arrest Muslim and take him to the palace.
After skirmishes between Muslim and governmental forces, Muhammad b. Ash'ath told Muslim that he would be safe if he surrenders himself. Thus, Muslim surrendered himself and was taken to the palace. However, Ibn Ziyad rejected Ibn Ash'ath's safe conduct, and after arguments between him and Muslim, he commanded Bukayr b. Hamran (who was injured in a skirmish with Muslim) to take Muslim to the roof of the palace and then decapitate him. When Muslim was beheaded, his torso was thrown down of the palace.
According to historical accounts, Muslim was worried about Imam al-Husayn. Thus, he asked 'Umar b. Sa'd, who was from the Quraysh, to hear and enforce his will. His first will was that someone be sent to the Imam to dissuade him from going to Kufa. The second will was that his corpse be shrouded and then buried, and the third was that his debts be paid by selling his sword and other items at his disposal.
After Muslim's martyrdom, Ibn Ziyad commanded the murder of Hani b. 'Urwa as well and then sent their heads to al-Sham to Yazid b. Mu'awiya.
The Reason for the Failure of the Uprising of Kufa and Muslim's Mission
Given the information in relevant sources, most authors believe that the uprising of the people of Kufa when Muslim was in the city failed because of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's policies of terrifying people, the social structure of Kufa that prevented any union or solidarity among its people, as well as the psychology of these people as they were emotional, unable to be organized, and were attached to the material world. Recently, an author has added another reason for the uprising's failure: the weak commandership of the uprising, although he did not provide clear grounds for the claim. It seems that remarks and speeches by Imam al-Husayn's associates after the Event of Ashura, including Zaynab's speech after her arrival in Kufa when the army of 'Umar b. Sa'd captured her, are evidence for the former account of the grounds of the failure of the uprising.
- ↑ Amin, A'yan al-shi'a, vol.1 p.593
- ↑ Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Isti'ab, vol.3 p.1079
- ↑ Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Istidhkar, vol.8 p.249
- ↑ Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p.52
- ↑ Baladhari, Ansab al-ashraf, vol.3 p.224
- ↑ Ibn Habban, al-Thiqat, vol.5 p.391
- ↑ Baladhari, Ansab al-ashraf, vol.2 p.77
- ↑ Ibn Qutayba, al-Akhbar al-tiwal, p.230
- ↑ Mufid, al-Irshad, p.295-297
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