Martyrdom of the two infant sons of Muslim bin Aqeel bin Abi Talib (a.s.)
Source: Nafasul Mahmum by Ayatullah Shaykh Abbas Qummi
Shaikh Saduq has related in his Amali from his father (Ibn Babawayh Awwal), from Ali bin Ibraheem, who relates from his father, from Ibraheem bin Raja, from Ali bin Jabir, from Usman bin Dawood Hashmi, from Muhammad bin Muslim, from Humran bin A’ayan from Abu Muhammad, one of the noblemen of Kufa.
He says that when Imam Husayn (a.s.) was martyred, two infant boys from his cantonment were arrested and taken to Ubaydullah bin Ziyad. Ubaydullah called for the prison guard and said, “Take away these two children and imprison them. Do not give them good food or cold water, and harass them.”
The infants fasted during the day and when night came the guard brought two breads of barley and a jar of water for them. When one year passed in this manner, one of them said to the other, “We have spent quite a long time in the prison and our lives are passing away, while our bodies have worn out. When the old prison guard comes to us, we shall reveal to him our status and ancestry, so that he might be compassionate towards us.”
Thus during night as usual the old prison guard came with two breads of barley and a jar of water. The younger one said, “O Shaikh! Do you know Prophet Muhammad (S)”? He replied, “How should I not know him, for he is my Prophet.” The child then said, “Do you then know Ja’far bin Abi Talib (a.s.)”, to which he replied in the affirmative and said, “Allah has bestowed him with two wings, so he flies along with the Angels wherever he desires.” The child then said, “Do you then know Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.)”? The old man said, “Yes I do know him, for he is the cousin and brother of my Prophet.” The child retorted, “O Shaikh! We are from the progeny of your Prophet and are the sons of Muslim bin Aqeel bin Abi Talib (a.s.). We have been in prison under you for a long time. You do not give us good food and you persecute us in the prison.”
The prison guard fell upon their feet and said, “May my life be your ransom O progeny of the chosen Prophet of Allah! The doors of this prison are open for you, you may go away to whichever place you desire.” When night fell, he brought two bread of barley and a jar of water and showed them the way, then said, “Travel during the night and hide during the day till Allah grants you relief.”
The two children came out at night and went to the house of an old woman and said, “We are small travelers and do not know the road, and the darkness of the night has fallen. Give us refuge in your house for today’s night, and we shall go away as soon as it dawns.” The woman said, “Who are you my dear ones? I have never smelt a similar fragrance which is emanating from you.” They replied, “O woman! We are from the progeny of the Prophet and have escaped from the prison of Ubaydullah bin Ziyad having escaped death.”
The woman said, “O dear ones! My son in law is an evil man, who was present in the massacre of Karbala among the faithfuls of Ubaydullah. I fear lest he finds you here and kills you.” The children replied, “We desire to halt here only for a night, and as soon as it dawns, we shall go away from here.” The woman agreed and brought some food for them. The children had food and water and went to sleep. The younger brother said to the elder one, “O dear brother! I desire that we spend this night in peace. Come closer so that we may embrace one another and go to sleep and kiss each other, lest death might part us.” They embraced each other and went to sleep.
When night advanced, the evil son in law of the old woman came and slowly knocked at the door. The woman inquired as to who it was. He replied that he was her son in law. The woman told him, “Why have you come at this unearthly hour”? The man replied, “Woe be to you! Open the door before I may turn insane and my bladder may burst due to pursuit and due to what has befallen me.” The woman said, “Woe be to you! What has befallen you”?
He replied, “Two children have escaped from the clutches of Ubaydullah bin Ziyad, and he has announced that whoever brings one of their heads to him, he shall be rewarded one thousand Dirhams. While he shall give two thousand dirhams for both their heads, and I have borne pains (in pursuing them), while nothing has reached my hands.” The old woman said, “Fear the wrath of the Holy Prophet on the day of Qiyamah.”
He replied, “Woe be to you! This world should certainly be desired.” She said, “What will you do with this world when it is not accompanied by the Hereafter”? The man answered, “Why do you defend them such drastically as if you are aware of their whereabouts. Come, so that I may take you to the commander.” The woman said, “What work does the commander have with me, an old woman, who lives in a corner of the desert”? He said, “I am in their pursuit. Open the door so that I may relax a bit and during morning I may think what mode should I adopt to seek them.” The woman thus opened the door and brought food for him. He ate and slept.
At midnight he heard the voices of snoring of the children and advanced towards it like a wanton Camel. He started howling like a Cow and hit his hands on the wall, until his hand touched the side of the younger one. The child asked him as to who he was? He replied that he was the owner of the house and asked them as to who they were? The younger one woke up his elder brother and said, “Arise O brother! For we have fallen prey to that what we feared.” He again inquired of them as to who they were, to which they replied, “O man! Do you promise our safety if we reveal to you our identity”? He replied in the affirmative.
They said, “Do you swear protection and responsibility of Allah and His Prophet”? to which he replied in the affirmative. They again said, “Prophet Muhammad the son of Abdullah (S) is the witness”? He agreed. They said, “Allah is the judge and witness upon whatever we shall tell you now”? He accepted it. Then the children said, “We are from the progeny of your Prophet Muhammad (S) and have escaped from the prison of Ubaydullah bin Ziyad in fear of being killed.” He replied, “You have escaped from death and have again fallen prey to it. Praise be to Allah Who has given me victory over you.”
Saying this he arose and tied the hands of the children. The children’s hands lay tied until morning. And when it dawned, the man called his black slave named Faleeh, and said, “Take these two children to the shore of Euphrates and strike off their heads and bring it to me, so that I may take it to Ubaydullah and earn the reward of two thousand dirhams.” The retainer lifted his sword and started walking with the children. They had not reached far from the house, when one child told him, “O black slave! You resemble Bilal the Mu’ezzin (the caller of Prayer) of the Prophet of Allah (S).”
The retainer said, “My master has ordered me to kill you, but tell me as to who you are”? They replied, “We are from the progeny of your Prophet Muhammad (S), and have escaped from the prison of Ubaydullah bin Ziyad in fear of death. The woman had offered us shelter in her house while your master intends killing us.”
The retainer fell on their feet and kissing them said, “May my life be your ransom, and may my face act as a shield for yourselves, O children of Allah’s chosen Prophet! By Allah! I shall not perform the act which would invite the wrath of Muhammad (S) on the day of Qiyamah.” Saying this he threw away his sword and jumped into the sea and swam away to the opposite shore. When his master saw it he screamed, “You have disobeyed me.” To which he replied, “I have never disobeyed you until you yourself disobeyed Allah. And now that you have disobeyed Allah, I disown you in this world as well as the Hereafter.”
Then the man called his son and said, “I have gathered for you through lawful and unlawful means, while this world is such that it should be acquired. Hence take these children to the shore of Euphrates and severe their heads and bring them to me, so that I may take them to Ubaydullah and get two thousand dirhams as reward for it.” His son lifted the sword and started walking ahead of them. They had not reached far when one of the child told him, “O youth! How I fear your youth being burnt in the fire of hell.” The youth asked them as to who they were? They replied, “We are from the progeny of your Prophet, and your father intends killing us.”
Hearing this, the youth fell upon their feet and kissing them repeated the words of the slave and jumped into the sea and swam to the opposite shore. When his father saw this he called out, “You disobey me”? To which he replied, “Allah’s obedience is more dear (to me) than your’s.” Hearing this the accursed said, “No one will be ready to kill you except myself”, saying this he lifted the sword and went towards them.
When they reached the shore of Euphrates, he unsheathed his sword. When the infants saw the naked sword, their eyes became full of tears. Then they said, “O Shaikh! Take us to the market and sell us and do not invite the wrath of the Prophet in Qiyamah.” He replied, “No, verily I shall kill you and take your heads to Ubaydullah and thereby earn reward from him.” They said, “O Shaikh! Do you not consider the relation we share with the Prophet”? To which he said, “Verily you have no relation with the Prophet as such.” They again said, “O Shaikh! Then take us to the presence of Ubaydullah, so that he may decide what to do with us.”
He replied, “I do not have any other way, except that I may earn his nearness by spilling your blood.” The children said, “O Shaikh! Do you not have pity upon our infancy”? to which he replied that, “Allah has not allotted mercy in my heart.” Then they said, “O Shaikh! Now that there is no hope left, give us respite to recite some units of Prayers.” He said, “Pray as much as you like if it benefits you.” The children recited four units of Prayers, then lifted their eyes towards the heavens and cried, “O Ever-Living! O Wise! O the Best of Judges! Judge between us with righteousness.”
He stood up and severed the head of the elder brother and kept his head in a bag. The younger brother, who had smeared his body in the blood of his elder brother, said, “I desire to meet the Prophet of Allah (S) in this very state drenched in the blood of my brother.” He said, “Do not fear, for I shall soon join you with your brother”, saying this he severed his head too and placed it in the bag. Then he threw their bodies into the river of Euphrates.
He then brought the heads to Ubaydullah, who was seated on his throne with a bamboo staff in his hands. He placed the heads of the children facing Ubaydullah, who after seeing it arose and sat down thrice. Then he said, “Woe be to you! Where did you find them”? He said, “A woman from our family had given them refuge.” Ubaydullah said, “Then did you not honor the right of guesthood”? He replied in the negative. Ubaydullah asked, “What did they say to you”? He replied, “They said: Take us to the market and sell us and tie our hands and do not earn the wrath of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s) in Qiyamah.”
Ubaydullah said, “Then what did you reply”? He said, “I said: No, verily I shall kill you and take your heads to Ubaydullah and thereby earn reward of two thousand Dirhams from him.” Ubaydullah said, “Then what did they reply”? He said, “They said: Then take us alive to the presence of Ubaydullah, so that he may decide what to do with us.” “Then what did you say”, asked Ubaydullah. He replied, “I said: No, but I seek to earn his nearness by spilling your blood.” Ubaydullah asked, “Why did you not bring them to me alive, so that I could have gifted you four thousand dirhams”? He replied, “My heart did not give me respite except to earn your nearness by spilling their blood.”
Ubaydullah then asked him as to what they then said. He replied, “They said: At least honor the relation we have with the Prophet” and I said “Verily you have no relation with the Prophet as such.” Ubaydullah said, “Woe be to you! Then what did they say”? He said, “They then said, “Do you not pity our infancy and I replied that Allah had not placed mercy in my heart.” Ubaydullah said, “Woe be to you! What else did they tell you”?
He replied, “Then they said: Give us some respite so that we may recite some units of Prayers”, and I replied, “Pray as much as you like if it benefits you. The children then recited four units of Prayers.” Ubaydullah said, “What did the children say after ending their Prayers”? He said, “They lifted their eyes towards the heavens and said, “O Everliving! O Wise! O the Best of Judges! Judge between us with righteousness.”
Hearing this Ubaydullah said, “Allah has verily judged between you. Who shall come forth to kill this accursed man”, hearing this a Syrian came forward. Ubaydullah said, “Take him to the same spot where he slayed the children and strike his head, and spill his blood over theirs, and hasten to bring his head to me.” The man did exactly as told and when his head was brought, it was placed on a lance and children threw stones and arrows at it and said, “This is the murderer of the progeny of the Prophet.”
Note: As regards Ubaydullah’s putting to sword the murderer of these children is not astonishing, for Ubaydullah was a shrewd and cunning man. He distributed gifts among the murderers of Imam Husayn (a.s.), at the same time he feared lest people might start killing one another in greed for the gifts, claming that the one killed was the follower of Imam Husayn (a.s.).
In the above case, his motive (of killing the infants) was already achieved, and thus simply to shift the blame off his head, he punished their murderer. No mercy can ever be imagined from the one who instigated the bloody coup at Karbala. His putting to death Meytham at Tammar, Hani bin Urwah, Muslim bin Aqeel etc. and above all his harsh treatment towards the imprisoned ladies and children of the Prophet’s Household bear witness to his despotic character.