The Arrival of Jabir and Atiyya in Karbala
Shaykh Tusi writes in his book entitled Misbāhul Mutahajjid that 20th of the month of Safar is the day on which Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari a companion of the Holy Prophet came from Madina to Karbala to pay homage to the sacred grave of Imam Husayn and he was the first person who performed homage to the grave of the Imam. Homage of Imam Husayn on that day is recommended and it is this very homage that is called Ziyuratul Arba'in. Shaykh Tusi appears to say that Jabir left Madina with the object of paying homage to the sacred grave of Imam Husayn Iand arrived at Karbala on the 20th day of Safar and not that he reached Karbala after forty days of the martyrdom of the Imam by chance. It is not unlikely that it was so, because after the arrival of Ahlul Bayt in Kufa Ibn Ziyad immediately dispatched Abdul Malik bin Abil Hārith Salami from Iraq to the Hijaz so that he might arrive in Madina as early as possible and inform Amr bin Sa'id bin Ās Amavi, the Governor of Madina, about the martyrdom of the Imam and his companions and Abdul Malik proceeded to Madina at once, reached there after a few days, and formally conveyed the news of the martyrdom of the Imam to the governor.
In that case it is possible that on hearing about the tragedy of the martyrdom of the Imam and Bani Hashim and the companions of the Imam, Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, who according to some narration had lost both of his eyes by that time, might have departed from Madina with the intention of paying homage to the graves of Imam Husayn and his devoted friends, who bravely met martyrdom, and might have arrived in Karbala on the 20th of safar i.e. that is exactly forty days after the martyrdom of the Imam and the tradition of the Ziyartal Arba'in of the Imam was commenced by him. Jabir did not perform this journey alone and had with him a companion who was younger than him and at the same time very learned and respectable. Owing to ignorance some persons have called this great man the slave of Jabir. In fact he enjoyed a high position which has been misrepresented in many religious circles like many other realities. This great man was Atiyya bin Sād bin Junāda Awfi Kufi who was a distinguished Tābie' (i.e. the companion of the companion of the Holy Prophet). Atiyya, though not a companion of the Holy Prophet had seen many of his companions like Abdullah Ibn Abbas and acquired knowledge from them.
Tabari, writes in his book entitled Muntakhab Zaylul Muzayyal that Atiyya bin Sād bin Junada belonged to the Judaila family of the tribe known as Qays and his patronymic appellation was Abdul Hasan. Thereafter he narrates that Sād bin Junada i.e. the father of Atiyya came to Imam Ali in Kufa and said: 'O Commander of the Faithful! Allah has given me a son. Kindly propose his name". Ali said: "He is the Atiyya i.e. gift of Allah". In this sentence Ali also proposed his name and he was named Atiyya.
Tabari continues to say about Atiyya that in 81 A.H. he fought against Hajjāj bin Yusuf Thaqafi, the well-known tyrant Governor of Iraq, in the company of Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ashath. After Abdur Rahman was killed in 85 A.H. Atiyya ran away to Iran. Hajjāj wrote to Muhammad bin Qasim Thaqafi to summon Atiyya and ask him to curse Ali and, in the event of his refusal to do so, to slash him four hundred times and to shave his head and beard. Muhammad summoned Atiyya and read over Hajjāj's letter to him so that he might choose one of the two alternatives. Atiyya declined to curse Ali and did not do it and had consequently to agree that four hundred lashes might be struck on him and his head and beard might be shaved according to Hajjāj's orders. When Qutayba bin Muslim became the Governor of Khurasān Atiyya migrated to that place and continued to stay on there till the time when Umar bin Habira became the Governor of Iraq. Atiyya wrote a letter to him seeking permission to return to Iraq. Umar accorded him permission and he went to Kufa and continued to reside there till he died in 111 A.H. Then Tabari writes that Atiyya quoted many traditions and is reliable.
The aforesaid event has also been narrated on the same lines in the sixth volume of Tabaqāt-i Ibn Sād and it has been added that Atiyya's mother was Roman slave-girl.
Besides being one of the narrators of traditions and a Muslim Mujahid Atiyya was a great commentator of the Holy Qur'an and he wrote a commentary on it in five volumes. As reported in Balāghātun Nisa he quoted the speech of lady Fatima Zahra about Fadak from Abdullah Mahz i.e. Abdullah bin Hasan bin Hasan whose father was Hasan Muthanna, son of Imam Hasan and whose mother was Fatima, daughter of Imam Husayn. Atiyya remained a pupil of Ibn Abbas for some time and attended his lectures on exegesis. He himself says: "I had three courses of the exegesis of the Qur'an and seventy courses of the reciting of the Qur'an with Ibn Abbas". It means that Ibn Abbas gave two kinds of instruction, one of which consisted of exegesis of the Qur'an and the other of reciting the Qur'an, and Atiyya attended three courses of the former and seventy of the latter.
"A Probe into the History of Ashura"
By: Dr. Ibrahim Ayati