The Forerunners of Martyrdom
Martyrs who carried messages
‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri
‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri was Imam al-Hussain’s foster brother. According to historical sources, “Imam al-Hussain sent ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri to Kufa to deliver the reply he had written to Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. Ibn Ziyad’s notorious spy, Hasin ibn Tamim, arrested him in an area called Qadissiyyah near Karbala. Hasin ibn Tamim took him to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. ‘Ubayd Allah asked ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri what Imam al-Hussain had sent him to do. He did not give any answer to this question.
‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad ordered him to the top of the palace where he must curse ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab]. (By this ‘Ubayd Allah meant Imam al-Hussain.) ‘Ubayd Allah said, “Then you must come down and get the judgement I will issue for you.”
He went on top of the palace, turned to the people and addressed them, “O people! I am a messenger from al-Hussain son of Fatimah the daughter of Allah’s Prophet. I have been sent to you. The message he entrusted to me to give to you, the people, is that he requests you to help and support him in his uprising against the sons of Marjanah and Sumayyah.”
At this point, ‘Ubayd Allah gave orders to his agents that they should drop ‘Abd Allah ibn Yaqtar Humayri from the top of the palace to the ground. When they did this, his bones were broken. Then, as he was breathing his last, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umayr, a faqih (religious jurisprudent) of Kufa, cut his head off. When the people criticized him for doing so, he sarcastically replied, “I wanted to put him out of his misery.”
Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi
One of the couriers who was martyred was Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi. He had carried a letter from Muslim ibn ‘Aqil to Imam al-Hussain, and was bringing the Imam’s reply to Kufa when he was arrested by the villainous spy Hasin ibn Tamim and brought before ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad asked him what the contents of the letter were.
He replied, “I tore the letter to pieces so that you could not find out what the contents were.” ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad asked, “To whom was the letter addressed and written?” Qays said, “A number of people whose names I do not know.” ‘Ubayd Allah said, “If you do not know their names, then at least go on the pulpit and curse ‘the lying son of the liar’ [kadhdhab ibn kadhdhab].” Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi went on the pulpit and said, “O people! Verily al-Hussain ibn ‘Ali is the best creation of Allah and son of Fatimah the daughter of the Holy Prophet (S). I am a messenger from him sent to you.
We separated from each other at an area called Hajar. You should hasten to join and help him.” At that moment he cursed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad and his father, and sent peace and blessings upon Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali. Ibn Ziyad gave orders to his agents to bring Qays ibn Mashar al-Saydawi down from the pulpit and kill him.”
Kufan Supporters of Imam Hussain
After Muslim ibn ‘Aqil came to Kufa, and before the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain, a number of people were martyred because of paying allegiance or sending messages to Imam al-Hussain. Others were martyred because they wanted to escape and help Imam al-Hussain but were discovered before they could succeed. We will now mention some of them:
‘Ammarah ibn Salkhab Azdi
He was one of the Shi‘a who had paid allegiance to Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in Kufa. When Muslim was captured, Ibn Ziyad also captured ‘Ammarah ibn Salkhab Azdi and asked, “What tribe are you from?” He answered, “I come from the tribe of Azd ibn Ziyad.” ‘Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad gave orders to his agents to take ‘Ammarah to his tribesmen and separate (cut) his head from his neck.
Abu Ja‘far recounts, “They cut his head off in the presence of his tribesmen.”
‘Abd al-A‘la ibn Yazid al-Kalbi
‘Abd al-A‘la ibn Yazid al-Kalbi was an astute horseman and a very brave Shi‘a of Kufa. He was a supporter of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. After Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was deserted by the people, Kathir ibn Shahab arrested ‘Abd al-A‘la and handed him over to ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad.
Abu Mikhnaf recounts, “After the martyrdom of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad called for ‘Abd al-A‘la. He asked him how he was feeling. ‘Abd al-A‘la answered, ‘I came out in order to be a spectator at the battlefield.
I did not have any intention of fighting against you.’ ‘Ubayd Allah asked him to swear upon Allah that he was telling the truth. ‘Abd al-A‘la refused to swear. Therefore, they took him to a place infested with wild and vicious animals and he was martyred there.”
- Tustari, Qamus al-Rijal; Absar al-‘Ayn fi Ansar al-Husayn (as); Dhakhirah al-Darin fima Yata‘alliqu bi al-Husayn wa Ashabih; Ma‘ali al-Sibtayn; Pishva-ye Shahidan (The Leader of Martyrs); Nafs al-Mahmum; Tarikh Tabari; etc.