Martyrdom of Muslim Ibn Aqil in Kufah
Muslim Ibn Aqil's Encounter With Ibn Ziyad
When Muslim ibn 'Aqil was brought into the palace as a prisoner, he did not salute Ibn Ziyad with the greeting of peace. The guard standing at the door said to Muslim ibn 'Aqil, "Salute the commander and chief." Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "Silence! May sorrow be your lot! He is not my commander."
At this Ibn Ziyad declared, "It is all the same whether you salute me or not. You will be executed." Muslim ibn 'Aqil retorted, "It will not be the first time that worse than you have killed better than me." Ibn Ziyad shouted, "O recalcitrant opponent! You have risen against the ruler and caused discord and disunity within the community." Muslim ibn 'Aqil answered, "O Ibn Ziyad! It was Mu'awiyah and his son Yazid who have caused disunity within the community and it was you and your father that have spread corruption in it. I am hopeful that Allah will grant me martyrdom by the hands of the worst of his creatures." Ibn Ziyad admonished him, "You were desirous of something (i.e. the Caliphate) that Allah did not bring to fruition in you but placed with people who deserve it." Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked, "O Ibn Ziyad! And who is worthy of that?" Ibn Ziyad replied, "Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah." Muslim ibn 'Aqil said, "Praise be to Allah! We are pleased with His pleasure! May He decide between you and us!" Ibn Ziyad, now in a state of fury, abused Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Imam 'Ali, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn. To this Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "O enemy of Allah! Do what you will. You and your father are worthier of this abuse."
Ibn Ziyad ordered Bukayr ibn Humran to take Muslim ibn 'Aqil to the top of the palace and to behead him. As Muslim ibn 'Aqil was being lead to his execution, he praised and glorified Allah and invoked His blessings and benedictions upon the Prophet and his family saying, "O Allah! You be the final judge between us and these people who have summoned us, lied to us and betrayed us."
Earlier that day Bukayr ibn Humran had been one of the men who had fought against Muslim ibn 'Aqil. During the fight Muslim had struck him with a fierce blow and wounded him. He was filled with a deep hatred of Muslim and showed himself to be utterly merciless as he carried out Ibn Ziyad's orders. He took him to the roof of the palace and ordered him to kneel and stretch his head over the edge of the wall of the palace. Then he mercilessly beheaded him. When the axe split his neck, Muslim ibn 'Aqil's head fell from the top of the palace to the ground. After this the soldiers were ordered to throw his body to the ground. In this way Muslim ibn 'Aqil's blessed soul departed from his wounded body to Eternal Bliss and the Abode of the Hereafter.
(Al-Luhuf & A'lam al-Wara')
Muslim Ibn Aqil's Last Will and Bequest
The following is an account of Muslim ibn 'Aqil's final encounter with Ibn Ziyad as reported in Kitab al-Irshad: Muslim ibn 'Aqil was extremely thirsty as he was brought wounded to the palace. A group of people was standing at the door waiting for the permission to enter. Standing with them was 'Amr ibn Hurayth and next to the door was placed a pitcher of water. Muslim ibn 'Aqil asked 'Amr ibn Hurayth for some water as he sat at the door resting his back against the wall. 'Amr ibn Hurayth ordered his servant to give Muslim ibn 'Aqil some water. Water was brought to him but when Muslim ibn 'Aqil tried to drink it, the dripping blood from his wounded mouth and lips poured into the water. New water was brought and again the same thing happened. At the third time when Muslim ibn 'Aqil attempted to drink the water his front teeth, that had been broken during the battle fell into the vessel. Muslim ibn 'Aqil spilt the water and said, "All praise is due to Allah! Had provision been granted me, I would have surely drunk it."
Ibn Ziyad's men led Muslim ibn 'Aqil to him and after an exchange of words Ibn Ziyad mercilessly said, "You will surely be killed." Muslim ibn 'Aqil replied, "If you are determined to kill me, then allow me to make my last will?" Ibn Ziyad agreed that Muslim ibn 'Aqil could do that.
Muslim ibn 'Aqil called to 'Umar ibn Sa'd who was standing nearby, "O Ibn Sa'd! There is kinship between us. For the sake of that, I ask you to give me an oath of secrecy and to honour my last will." Ibn Sa'd refused to listen. Seeing this, Ibn Ziyad ordered Ibn Sa'd, "Listen to what the your cousin has to say."
Under the eyes of Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Sa'd went to Muslim ibn 'Aqil and they both retreated to a corner where they sat down. Muslim ibn 'Aqil told Ibn Sa'd, "I borrowed seven hundred dirhams in Kufah. Sell my coat of mail and my sword and pay off my debt. After I am executed, take my body from Ibn Ziyad and bury me. Send word to Imam al-Husayn to not to come to Kufah. I have sent a letter to him informing him of the loyalty of the people of Kufah and their eagerness to be led by him. I fear he has commenced his journey towards Kufah."
Fearing Ibn Ziyad may suspect him of something, Ibn Sa'd went to him and informed him of Muslim ibn 'Aqil's last will. Ibn Ziyad taunted Ibn Sa'd for his actions and said that a trustee does not betray a secret when it is entrusted to him. By this he meant that if Ibn Sa'd been a trustworthy person, he would never have divulged what Muslim ibn 'Aqil had told him in confidence. However, despite that, he ordered Ibn Sa'd, "As for his debt, pay it off after his death if you wish. As for his burial that too I will allow if you wish to bury him. But as far as al-Husayn is concerned, we have no quarrel with him if he does not interfere with us."
Then Ibn Ziyad turned towards Muslim Ibn 'Aqil and began to insult him. After a heated exchange of words in which Muslim ibn 'Aqil was accused of disuniting the people, Ibn Ziyad said to Muslim ibn 'Aqil, "What concern is the unity of the people to you? Why did you not concern yourself with that when you were drinking wine with the people in Medina?" At this Muslim retorted, "By Allah! You are lying! You, who lap the blood of Muslims and murder those whose life Allah has deemed sacred, are more correctly described as drinking wine than me." Ibn Ziyad could no longer contain him self and ordered Muslim ibn 'Aqil to be beheaded and his body to be thrown to the ground from the top of the palace.
The Martyrdom of Hani ibn Urwah
Hani' ibn 'Urwah has already been mentioned as the person that Muslim ibn 'Aqil went to stay with after the arrival of Ibn Ziyad in Kufah. He was among the renowned personalities from the Shi'ah and belonged to the tribe of Madhhij. According to one report, Hani ibn 'Urwah had witnessed the era of the Prophet and was considered to be among his Companions. At the time of his martyrdom, he was eighty-nine years of age. According to Ya'qubi, Hani' enjoyed a high social status and had four thousand mounted soldiers and eight thousand foot soldiers under his command.
As has been mentioned, Hani' allowed his house to be used by Muslim ibn 'Aqil and supported him. Hani' was arrested by Ibn Ziyad and imprisoned when he refused to hand over Muslim ibn 'Aqil. After the death of Muslim ibn 'Aqil, Ibn Ziyad ordered his servant Rashid to behead Hani' in the market. According to Muthir al-Ahzan the eighty-nine year old man was dragged to the Kunasah Square where he was killed and later crucified on a door.
According to a report cited by Sayyid Ibn Tawus, Hani' was dragged from prison to be executed. He repeatedly cried out, "O tribe of Madhhij! Why do you not come to my aid?" At this the executioner, Rashid a Turkish retainer of Ibn Ziyad, ordered Hani' to compose himself for the execution. Hani retorted, "By Allah! I will not aid you in my killing." Rashid struck at Hani''s head but could not kill him. Hani' cried out as he fell to the ground, "To Allah is the final return! O Allah! To your mercy and pleasure do I return." Rashid once again struck at Hani' and his blessed head was severed from his body.
Ibn Ziyad sent the severed heads of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah to Yazid together with a letter were explaining the situation in Kufah. Yazid wrote back to Ibn Ziyad thanking him and instructing him to prepare himself for the coming of the Imam al-Husayn. Yazid also gave orders for the heads to be hung on the gate of the city of Damascus.
'Abd Allah ibn al-Zabir recited the following verses concerning Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah:
If you do not know what death is,
Then look at Hani' and Ibn 'Aqil in the marketplace.
Look at a hero whose face the sword has covered with wounds
And at another who fell dead from a high place.
The command of the governor struck them down,
And they became legends for those who travel on every road.
You see a corpse whose colour death has changed
And a spattering of blood, which has flown abundantly.
Two men, Aradil and Awbash, tied the headless bodies of Muslim ibn 'Aqil and Hani' ibn 'Urwah behind their horses with ropes and dragged them through the streets of Kufah. The tribe of Madhhij, after learning about the fate of Hani' ibn 'Urwah and Muslim ibn 'Aqil mounted their horses and fought with Aradil and Awbash until they reclaimed the two bodies. Then they washed, shrouded and buried the bodies.
An Arab poet recites in the lamentation of Muslim ibn 'Aqil
They threw your body from the palace after tying you.
Has any limb remained intact?
You were tied and dragged through their streets.
Were you not their commander until yesterday?
Will you die without the wailing women crying for you?
Do you not have anyone to weep for you in this city?
Even if you were mercilessly killed, cries of grief were heard
As news of your death reached [the people of] Zarud
It is also reported that Ibn Ziyad ordered the headless bodies of Muslim and Hani' to be tied by their feet behind horses and dragged through the streets. Then their bodies were crucified upside down on the gate of Kunasah and were sent off to Yazid. Yazid had the two heads mounted on the gates of Damascus.