Abd Allah b. Yaqtar

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Abd Allah b. Yaqtar
Martyrs of Karbala.jpg
Native nameعبد الله بن یقطر
Full NameAbd Allah b. Yaqtar
Companion ofImam al-Hussain
LineageBanu Layth
Wellknown RelativesImam al-Hussain
Place(s) of ResidenceMedina
Cause of
Killed by 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad
ActivitiesRepresentative of Imam al-Hussain in Kufa

ʿAbd Allah b. Yaqtar (Arabic:عبد الله بن یقطر ) was Imam al-Hussain's representative in Kufa along with Muslim b. 'Aqil. He was captured by Hussain b. Numayr, a commander of Ibn Ziyad in Qadisiyya. According to some sources, he refused to curse Imam Ali and Imam al-Hussain therefore was thrown off the Dar al-Khilafa. Other sources attribute this event to Qays b. Musahhar and have included 'Abd Allah among the martyrs of Karbala.

Lineage[edit | edit source]

'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar b. Abi 'Aqb Laythi was a descendant of Banu Layth b. Bakr b. 'Abd Manaf b. Kinana. He was known as the Rida'i brother of Imam al-Hussain, meaning that they were both suckled as infants from the same woman. Within many schools of Islamic thought, Rida has certain legal implications. Due to this relationship with the Imam, Ibn Hajar considered 'Abd Allah among the Companions. He was born in Medina.

Birth and Childhood[edit | edit source]

According to most historians, 'Abd Allah's father was named Yaqtar (al-Tabari is an exception and named him as Baqtar) and his mother was named Maymuna. Yaqtar was a servant of the Prophet and his wife, Maymuna, worked in the house of Imam Ali. According to some reports, 'Abd Allah was born three days before Imam al-Hussain. Thus Maymuna took care of Imam al-Hussain in his childhood. She became famous as Rida'i mother of Imam, although whether she actually suckled the Imam or just took care of him is disputed. Recent scholars do not accept that his mother suckled Imam al-Hussain and believe that Imam was not suckled by anyone other than Lady Fatima.

Ambassador to Kufa[edit | edit source]

Most scholars state that Imam al-Hussain sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar to Kufa with a letter to Muslim b. 'Aqil informing him of Imam's caravan heading off.

However, there are alternate reports about the time of his travel to Kufa. Some state that he went to Kufa before Muslim and others state that he went there at the same time as Muslim and saw the betrayal of the people of Kufa. Many reports state that 'Abd Allah was captured and his mission remained unfinished.

Imam al-Hussain's Letter[edit | edit source]

In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. From Hussain b. Ali to Muslim and his faithful brothers. Peace be with you. Praise be to God, there is no God other than Him. I received the letter of Muslim. That letter showed your unity and good thoughts of yours for helping us and taking back our lost rights. I ask God to make our destiny good and grant you best of rewards for your good deeds. I moved from Mecca to see you on Tuesday, 8th of Dhu l-Hijja, the Day of Tarwiya. When my representative comes to you, hasten in your affairs and try and be prepared that I will, God willing, meet you soon. May the blessings and mercy of God be upon you.

Capture of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar[edit | edit source]

Hussain b. Numayr or Hussain b. Tamim caught 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar and sent him to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad. Ibn Ziyad asked him to go up on the roof of the Dar al-Imara palace and curse at Imam al-Hussain and his father. He did go up on the roof of the palace, but instead of cursing, said, "O people, I am sent by al-Hussain. Help him against Ibn Marjana and Ibn Sumayya!" He also called Ibn Ziyad, "Vile, the son of vile".

Finding Muslim b. 'Aqil's Letter[edit | edit source]

Malik b. Yarbu' al-Tamimi showed a letter to Ibn Ziyad that he had taken from 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar. In that letter, it was written,

To Hussain b. Ali b. Abi Talib. So, I inform you that a group of the people of Kufa who are such and such have given allegiance to you. When you receive my letter, move (towards Kufa) immediately because majority of people are with you and do not side with Yazid.

Martyrdom[edit | edit source]

Ibn Ziyad gave the order to throw 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar off the roof of the palace. This did not kill him, but broke his bones and left him in considerable pain. Then a man went down and beheaded him. When people in the area objected to his murder, the man stated he simply wanted to relive him of his pain. Al-Tabari states this man was 'Abd al-Malik b. 'Umayr al-Lakhmi. He was a judge during a period of Umayyad rule and was famous for mischief and wrong doing.

In contrast, Ibn Kathir relates the same story to Qays b. Musahhar. He states that 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar was martyred on the Day of 'Ashura together with Imam al-Hussain. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid also counted him among the martyrs of Karbala on the Day of 'Ashura. Like Ibn Kathir, he considers Qays b. Musahhar to be the letter-bearer. He does also mention 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar in al-Irshad, but considers it a weak report.

This is while Ibn Sa'd reported 'Abd Allah was martyred on the first day of Ibn Ziyad arrival to Kufa, before the martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil.

Ibn Qutayba and Ibn Miskawayh have a slightly different narrative, stating that the person Imam al-Hussain sent with a letter to Muslim was Qays b. Musahhar, but that 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar was sent together with Muslim b. 'Aqil. When Muslim saw that people left him alone, he sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar back to Imam to inform him of what happened to him. However 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar was caught by Hussain b. Tamim and was sent to 'Ubayd Allah.

Imam al-Hussain and the Martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar[edit | edit source]

When Imam al-Hussain was informed about the martyrdom of 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar, he made a speech saying,

O people! Our supporters abandoned us. Muslim, Hani, Qays b. Musahhar, and 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar were killed.

Then, Imam turned to his companions and told them that they were free to leave if they wanted. Many of the people who had come with Imam for worldly desires left and only those who had come with him from Medina remained.

Reconciling the Contradicting Narratives[edit | edit source]

Some scholars have reconciled the contradicting narratives of whether 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar or Qays b. Musahhar were the letter bearer by deducing that both were given the task. As such, the Imam first sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar with a letter to Kufa. Then, he gave another letter to Qays b. Musahhar, but sent him to Kufa from another path. But they both were caught by the agents of Ibn Ziyad and were martyred in a similar manner. Thus, the Imam sent 'Abd Allah b. Yaqtar through a region called Hajiz and heard the news of his martyrdom in a place called Zubala. He sent Qays b. Musahhar from a place called Bayda and received the news of his martyrdom in a place called 'Udhayb.

References[edit | edit source]