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 Hadhrat Muslim ibn Aqil  (a.s.) And His Two Sons’ Martyrdom


The carvan of Imam Husain (a.s.) was traveling toward the cith of Kufa in Iraq, during the month of Zilhijja 60 A.H. when a messenger (Bakr al Asadi) came from the direction of Kufa and said: “I only left Kufa after Muslim b. Aqil and Habib b. Urwa had been killed. I saw them being dragged by their legs into the market-place.

“We belong to God and to Him we shall return: may God have mercy on them both,” uttered Imam Husain (a.s.) as he repeated over and over several times. The people at that halting place exhorted Imam Husain (a.s.) to not continue beyond that point and to not travel on to the treacherous city of Kufa. Imam Husain (a.s.) turned to the brothers of Muslim who were amongst in the carvan and said:

“ What is your opinion (o sons of Aqil) now that Muslim has been killed”? “By God”, they declared, we will not go back until we have taken our vengeance or have tasted (the death) which he tasted”

Imam Husain (a.s.) went near to the former people and said, “ There is nothing good left in life for these men.” And thus the decision was made to continue his journey. He (a.s.) summoned those who had joined his carvan along the way and stated to them:

“In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. News of the dreadful murder of Muslim b. Aqil, Habib b. Urwa, and Abdullah b. Yuqtar has reached us. Our Shi’a have deserted us. Those of you who would prefer to leave us may leave FREELY without guilt”.

“The people began to disperse from him to right and left until there were only left with him those followers who had come with him from Madinah, and a small group of those who had joined him. Imam Husain (a.s.) had done that because he realized the Arabs who had followed him had only followed him because they thought that he was going to a land where the inhabitants’ obedience to him had already been established. And he did not want them to accompany him without being fully aware of what they were going to”.

Muslim ibn Aqil (a.s.)

Muslim was one of many righteous children of Aqil b. Abutalib. He was the nephew of Amirul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) and the cousin of Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.). He married Ruqaiyyah al-Kubra, daughter of Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) and Sahba from Yammanah, his cousin, and sister to Imam Husain (a.s.), and had four children to her. Of his children, Abdullah (15 yrs.) was martyred along side the family of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the battle field of Karbala. Ibrahim (10 yrs.) and Mohammad (8 yrs), known as Tiflan Muslim, were captured and martyred on the banks of Euphrates River during the month of Zilhijj before the battle of Karbala, and his youngest child, Ruqayyah (4 yrs.) was among the pious womenfolk of the household of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who were attacked and humiliated after the battle on Ashura day.

Aqil ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)

Hadhrat Muslim’s father Aqil ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was the second oldest son of Hadhrat Abi Talib and the cousin of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Abi Talib had four children, Talib followed bt Aqil, Jaffar, Imam Ali (a.s.) and reportedly his only daughter known as Umm Hani. Aqil b. Abi Talib is reported as having many children. His six sons were Abdullah, Jafar, and Abd al-Rahman, who were martyred at Karbala, Abu Saeed whose son was was martyred at Karbala, Muslim and Hisham. Of his daughters were Zainab, Umm Luqman, Umm Hani, Ramla, and Asma.

Aqil had  knowledge of “Nasab shamsi” (acquaintance with lineage) and had a complete knowledge of the identities and recognition of the personages of all tribes and families within the Arab world. It was he whom Imam Ali (a.s.) had requested to find him a wife, after passing of his beloved Lady Fatem az-Zahra (s.a.), who would deliver him a brave and valiant son, at which Aqil suggested Ummul Baneen, and said “marry Ummul Baneen because there is no other brave, valiant and courageous family in Arabia than hers”

The Destiny of Hadhrat Muslim ibn Aqil (a.s.)

The news of the death of despotic caliph Mu’awiya and the dreaded succession of his son Yazid had spread across the lands of Arabia, and was under great discussion amongst Shias of Kufa. In the house of Sulayman b. Surad al-Khuza’I, a companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), a meeting was held wherein Sulayman said:

 “ Mu’awiya is dead. Imam Husain (a.s.) has withheld giving his allegiance to the people (Umayyads) and has left Madina and gone Makkah. You are his Shi’a and Shi’a of his father. If you know (in your hearts) that you will be the helpers and fighters against his enemy, and that our lives will be given on behalf of him, then write to him and tell him of that. But if you fear failure and weakness, do not temp the man (to risk) his own life.”  “No” they declared, “indeed we will fight his enemy and our lives will be given on behalf of him.”  “Then write to him” concluded by Sulayman.

They dispatched their letter with Abdullhb. Musma al-Hamdani and Abdullah b. Walin who found Imam Husain (a.s.)  in Makkah on the 10th Ramadhan 60 A.H. in Makkah and delivered the first of what was to be more than 150 letters from Kufa to follow it. Imam Husain (a.s.) replied to them by stating:

 “ In the Namr of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

From al-Hussain b. Ali, To the leaders of the believers and the Muslims….The main statement of your great men is: “There is no Imam over us. Therefore come, through you,may Allah the Almighty unite us under truth and guidance”. I am sending you my brother, Muslim b. Aqil, who is my cousin and my trustworthy (representative)from my house. If he writes to me that the opinions of your leaders and of the men of wisdom and merit among you, is united in the same way as the messengers who have come to me,have described, and as I have read in your letters, I will come I will come speedily. God willing.For by my life, what is Imam except one who judges by the book, one who professes the religion of truth, and one who dedicates himself to the essence of Allah…Greetings.”

Imam Husain (a.s.) summoned Hadhrat Muslim and told him to prepare for his journey and his task. He said he said some thing like, “Muslim, the whole world knows that you are one of the bravest warriors. It is just possible that seeing you in Kufa some people may think that our intention is to fight Yazid. Take your two sons Muhammad and Ibrahim with you, When they see you with such young children, they will know that our intentions are peaceful.”

Muslim b. Aqil had travelled with the carvan of Imam Husain (a.s.) with his wife and children from Madinah to Makkah. From there he first traveled to Madinah to pray at the grave site of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). He said good bye to the dearest members of his family before he setoff with two hired guards into the desert toward Kufa, Iraq.

After his two guards became lost and died of severe thirst, Hadhrat Muslim was only just able to find his way, by the Grace of Almighty Allah, to a place known as al-Maqid. From this place he wrote to Imam Husain (a.s.) stating that the guards have died and their lives had only been savedin the last moments when they found water. He requested Imam Husain (a.s.) to release him of his duty and replace him with another person due to this bad omen as he saw it. Where upon Hadhrat Muslim received a reply from Imam Husain (a.s.) stating, “I am afraid that your urging me in the letter to relieve you from the taskwhich I sent you onis only cowardice. Therefore, go on with your taskwhich I gave you. Greetings.”  Muslim said it was not for himself that he was afraid of the safety of his two children who were with him, and continued journey on to Kufa. Upon arrival in Kufa, Muslim bin Aqeel was greeted by thousands of people at the Kufa mosque in one of the daily salats.  After  learning this, the Governor Ibn Ziyad threatened the people with their lives if they attended the next salat. Hardly, any one showed up for    the next salat.

Meanwhile, as Al-Husain (a.s.)’s caravan got closer to its destination (Kufa),  reaching  to a place called Zubalah, where Imam Husain (a.s.) unexpectedly received shocking news. The shocking news was about Muslim Ibn Aqeel and the person who provided him shelter, Hani’s Ibn Urwah, both of whom were arrested and beheaded by the Governor Ibn Ziyad. Mukhtar was also arrested and imprisoned and tortured by Ibn Ziyad.

Hadhrat Muslim (a.s.)’s Two Children:

After Hadhrat Muslim was executed, his two children Muhammad and Ibrahim were put in a dungeon. On the 12th Zilhijja in 60 Hijra , when the jailor came to give the children their evening meal, he saw them saying their prayers. The jailer waited. When the boys finished their prayers, he asked them who they were. When jailer learned that they were the sons of Muslim ibn Aqil and the grand sons of Aqil ibn Abi Talib, he let them escape. It was dark night. They found roads were  blocked by soldiers. Walking all night, they finally reached on the side of river Euphrates. They drank some water from the river and went up a tree to hide for the day. Just then a woman came to the river. She sawthe two young boys and asked them who they were. Ibrahim said, “ we are two orphans, could you please leave us alone and not to tell any one that you have seen us.The woman asked them to accompany her to her mistress who would help them. She is a kind lady. Children agreed and came to the house. After talking to the boys for a while, the lady relized who they were. She gave them food, and said to them, “ You can spend the day here and I will try to help you. Unfortunately, my husband Harith is working for Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. You can rest in the spare room and make no noise otherwise when he comes back, he will find out you are here. The children said their prayers and went to sleep.In the evening Muhammad woke up and started crying.Ibrahim asked him why he was crying, he said, “I saw our father in a dream. He was calling out for us.” Ibrahim said, “Brother, be patient. I also saw our father in a dream beckoning us to him. Harith, who had come back, heard the noise. He opened the door and asked the children who they were. On learning they were children of Muslim bin Aqil, he tied both the boys to a pillar. Harith’s wife tried to stop him, but he beat her up. Harith wanted to collect the reward for capturing Muslim’s two children.

The children spent the whole night tied to the pillar. In the morning, Harith dragged them to the river-bank and took out his sword. Ibrahim asked, “Are you going to kill us?” Harith said, “Yes!”Ibrahim said, in that case, give us time to finish our Fajr prayers”. The two boys said their prayers, and then cried out,”Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un! O God we are coming to you. Give our mother courage when she hears of our death.” The sword came down and there were splashes in the river. Two young bodies were seen floating away in the waters of the Euphrates river. It is said, that bodies of Hadhrat Muslim’s two children were buried near the town of Musayyib, Babil, Iraq.


   IMAM ALI (a.s.) said:
With every individual there are two angels to protect him; when destiny (death) approaches they let it have its own way with him . Certainly, the appointed time is a protective shield (against the events which occur before it).
(Nahjul Balagha, Quote # 201)
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