Zuhayr b. al-Qayn

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Zuhayr b. al-Qayn
Martyrs of Karbala.jpg
Native nameزهیر بن القین
Full NameZuhayr b. al-Qayn al-Bajali
Companion ofImam al-Hussain
LineageAl-Bajila tribe
Place(s) of ResidenceKufa
Cause of
Martyred in the Event of Ashura
Burial PlaceKarbala
ActivitiesCommander of the right wing of Imam al-Hussain's army in the Event of Ashura

Zuhayr b. al-Qayn (Arabic: زهیر بن القین) was a senior member of the al-Bajila tribe who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. He was a noble man and highly respected in virtue of participating in many battles. In some sources, al-Qayn—Zuhayr's father—is mentioned as one of the companions of the Prophet. Zuhayr was among prominent companions of Imam Hussain and a high-ranking member of his army.

Joining to the Imam Hussain's army[edit | edit source]

Zuhayr was an advocate of Uthman. In 60/680, Zuhayr and his wife were returning from hajj pilgrimage to Kufa together with their relatives and fellows. There they met Imam Hussain and his companions in a resting area, called Zarud, on the way. Imam Hussain and his companions were also on their way to Kufa. According to al-Dinawari, the meeting occurred in Zarud resting area.[1]

Imam Hussain sent a messenger to Zuhayr and asked him for a meeting. Zuhayr was first reluctant to meet the Imam, but when his wife, Daylam or Dalham, the daughter of Amr,[2] encouraged him to do so, he went to Imam Hussain. The meeting changed his life's path. After the meeting, he happily went back to his family and friends, and had his camp and stuff moved near Imam Hussain's camp.[3]

Zuhayr said farewell to his wife, and, based on another account, divorced her, and told her: "I am going to be martyred besides Imam Hussain. You go back to your family together with your brother because I do not want you to see anything harmful from me".[4]

Zuhayr then asked his companions to join him if they are willing to be martyred; otherwise, this would be their last visit. According to some sources, Salman b. Mudarib—Zuhayr's cousin—accompanied him and joined Imam Hussain's army.[5]

Speech in Dhu Husam[edit | edit source]

Encountered Hurr b. Yazid's army, Imam Hussain delivered a speech in Dhu Husam area. In this speech, Imam mentioned many changes happened to the world, corruptions dominant in the society, and the insignificance of this-worldly life.[6] When the Imam's speech was over, Zuhayr was the first one who declared his obedience of Imam Hussain. The Imam prayed for him and appreciated him.[7]

Suggestion of Attack on Hurr's Army[edit | edit source]

On second of Muharram, 61/October 2, 680, Imam Hussain's caravan arrived in Ninawa. At the same time, a messenger from Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad delivered a letter for Hurr in which Ibn Ziyad ordered him to remain strict on Hussain and force him to dwell in a desert with no water. Hurr informed the Imam of the letter. Imam Hussain asked Hurr to let him dwell in Nineveh, Ghadiriyya or Shufayh. But Hurr replied that this was not possible since Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad had spies there.

Zuhayr suggested to Imam Hussain to attack Hurr's army, since it was easier to fight with them than with the group that was about to arrive. But Imam Hussain replied that "I will not start the war".

Zuhayr proposed another idea and suggested to dwell in a land near the Euphrates called al-Aqar, since it had natural ramparts. He proceeded on his suggestion and said if the army of Hurr would prevent them from going there they would fight the army of Hurr since fighting them is easier than the army that will come after. Imam Hussain said: "I refuge to God from al-Aqar!"[8]

On the Day of Tasu'a[edit | edit source]

In the afternoon of Tasu'a, Imam Hussain's sent his brother, Abbas b. Ali to Umar b. Sa'd's camp to see what they had in mind. Abbas and twenty of Imam Hussain's companions, including Zuhayr b. al-Qayn and Habib b. Muzahir, went to the enemy's army and asked them what they wanted and what they had in mind.

They said: "we are ordered to fight you if you do not abide with Ibn Ziyad's orders". Abbas told them to wait until he delivers the message to Imam Hussain. They agreed and waited for the reply. In the meanwhile, Habib b. Muzahir and Zuhayr b. al-Qayn seized the opportunity to preach Umar b. Sa'd's army.

Uzra b. Qays (from Umar b. Sa'd's army) said:

"O' Zuhayr! You were not a Shiite (follower) of this household and were an advocate of Uthman!"

Zuhayr replied:

"Does not my presence here mean that I am with them now? I swear to God that I never wrote a letter to al-Hussain b. Ali and never sent a messenger to him and never promised to help him, but our paths met and when I met him and remembered the Prophet and al-Hussain's place for him and learned that he was going to his enemy and your party, then I decided to help him and be in his group and sacrifice my life for the right of God and the Prophet that ignored by you."

The Night Before Ashura[edit | edit source]

The night before Ashura, Imam Hussain gave his companions and household the permission to leave him and save their lives. However,all companions declared their allegiance and faithfulness to him. After members of Imam Hussain's household expressed their allegiances, Muslim b. Awsaja al-Asadi declared his faithfulness. Then Zuhayr b. al-Qayn stood up and said:

"I swear to God that I want to be killed, then be alive again, and then be killed again for a thousand times so that God protects you and your household from being killed".[9]

Commandership of the Right Front of the Army[edit | edit source]

On the day of Ashura, after the morning prayer, Imam Hussain appointed Zuhayr b. al-Qayn as the commander of the right front of his army, and Habib b. Muzahir as the commander of its left front. He gave the flag to his brother, Abbas.[10]

Preaching the Army of Umar b. Sa'd[edit | edit source]

On the day of Ashura when the two armies finally confronted, Imam Hussain preached the army of enemy. After the Imam's speech, Zuhayr b. al-Qayn asked the Imam to let him give a speech. He addressed the people of Kufa and warned them about fighting with Imam Hussain. But the army of Umar b. Sa'd responded by cursing Zuhayr and praising Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, and insisted on the war. Finally, Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan threw an arrow to him.

Someone from Imam Hussain's army called Zuhayr and told him that:

Imam Hussain told you to come back. As the believer from the Pharaoh's household preached his tribe but to no avail, you too have preached them enough.[11]

Zuhayr’s Speech[edit | edit source]

(Tabari) Azdi says that As’ad Shami related to me from one of his tribes­man named Kaseer bin Abdullah Sha’abi, who was present in Karbala, that when we laid siege upon Imam Hussain, Zuhayr bin Qayn came towards us riding a horse with a thick tail, and he was well-equipped with arms.

He said, “Beware of the wrath of Allah. It is obligatory upon a Muslim to advise his brother Muslim. We are still brothers of one another and follow­ers of the same Religion. Until the swords have not separated us, we are of the same creed, thus advising you is obligatory upon me. But when the swords come in between us, the bond of brotherhood will break off, then we will be another nation and you another one. Allah the Almighty has tied us by means of the progeny of Prophet Muhammad so that He may be aware as to what you and we do. We now invite you to assist him (Imam Hussain) and call upon you to abandon the unruly son of the unruly father Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad, from whom you have witnessed and seen nothing except evil. They pierce rods into your eyes, amputate your hands and feet, they hang you upon the gallows and cut off your ears and nose. And they kill the virtuous and the intellectuals among you viz. Hujr bin Adi and his companions, Hani bin Urwa, and others similar to them.”

The narrator says that when they heard this speech, they started abusing Zuhayr and praising Ubayd Allah and said, “By Allah! We shall not retreat back from here until we have killed your master and all those who are along with him or to dispatch him along with his companions to the commander Ubayd Allah in peace.”

Then Zuhayr said, “O servants of Allah! The son of Fatima is more worthy for friendship and aid than the son of Sumayyah. If you do not assist him, then by Allah give him refuge and do not kill him. Take him to the presence of his cousin Yazid. By my life! Yazid will be pleased with you if you do not kill him.” Hearing this Shimr shot an arrow at him and said, “Be quite, may your voice be subdued! Verily you have exhausted us through your excessive speech.”

Zuhayr replied, “O son of a nomad! I am not speaking to you. Verily you are an animal and by Allah! I am of the opinion that you cannot even recite two verses of the Qur’an accurately. Then I give glad tidings to you of the disgrace and irksome wrath on the day of Qiyamah.” Shimr said, “Very soon Allah will kill you and your mas­ter.”

Zuhayr said, “Are you frightening me by death? By Allah! Dying with the Imam is more preferable in my eyes than immortality with you.” Then Zuhayr turned towards the other people and said, “O slaves of Allah! Beware lest these base oppressors and their accomplices may deceive you. By Allah! The intercession of Muhammad shall not reach them, who will spill the blood of his Progeny and his family, and kill those who assist them or defend their sanctity.” Then a person called out to him saying, “Abu Abdullah (Imam Hussain) says that by my life O Zuhayr! Go back. Verily you have advised and admonished like the believer of the people of Fira’un had advised and admonished his community.”

Zuhayr's Fame Among People of Kufa[edit | edit source]

Zuhayr was known as a brave, distinguished and prominent figure of Kufa. Thus he was challenged to individual battles by Salim and Yasar—servants of Ziyad b. Abih and Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad—who were chanting paeans. When Abd Allah b. Umayr al-Kalbi went to fight with them, they told him: "we do not know you. Let Zuhayr b. al-Qayn or Habib b. Muzahir come and fight with us".[12] Zuhayr raised to smash them, but Imam al-Hussain did not let him go, and sent Abd Allah b. 'Umayr to fight them.

Preventing the Attack on Imam's Camps[edit | edit source]

Shimr b. Dhi l-Jawshan, accompanied with a number of his soldiers, invaded Imam Hussain's camp from the back. Shimr hit the Imam's camp with a spear and cried: "bring a fire so that I burn the place with its residents". Imam Hussain replied: "O' the son of Dhi l-Jawshan! You need fire to burn the camp and my household? May God burn you with fire!" At this time, Zuhayr and ten people from his companions attacked Shimr and his soldiers and forced them out. Zuhayr killed Abu Izza al-Dababi—a friend and a relative of Shimr.[13]

Joint Battle[edit | edit source]

After the martyrdom of Habib b. Muzahir, Zuhayr and Hurr went to the battlefield. They supported one another; whenever one was surrounded by the enemies, the other helped him out. They fought until Hurr was martyred and Zuhayr went back to the camp.[14]

Protection of Worshipers at the Noon of Ashura[edit | edit source]

On the day of Ashura, Imam Hussain and some of his companions were saying noon prayers while Zuhayr b. al-Qayn and Sa'id b. Abd Allah al-Hanafi protected them against the attacks of the enemy. They shielded themselves against the arrows until the prayer was finished.[15]

Martyrdom[edit | edit source]

Zuhayr went to the battlefield with Imam's permission. It is said that he killed about 120 people from the enemy's army, and was eventually martyred by Kathir b. Abd Allah al-Sha'bi and Muhajir b. Aws al-Tamimi.[16]

Imam al-Hussain's Pray for Zuhayr[edit | edit source]

When Zuhayr was martyred, Imam Hussain prayed for him thus: "O, Zuhayr! May God bless you with His mercy and curse your killers with an eternal curse, like that of Israelites who were transshaped by God."[17]

Zuhayr's Name in Ziyara al-Shuhada'[edit | edit source]

Zuhayr b. al-Qayn is mentioned in Ziyara al-Shuhada' as follows:

"Peace be upon Zuhayr the son of al-Qayn al-Bajali; when the son of the Prophet gave him the permission to leave, he replied: 'I swear to God that I will never abandon the son of the Prophet —may peace be upon him and his progeny. Do I leave the son of the Prophet while he is surrounded by the enemies and save my life? May such a day never come!"[18]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 246.
  2. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 167; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 298.
  3. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 167; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 298.
  4. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 396.
  5. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 246-247.
  6. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 396.
  7. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 171; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 305.
  8. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 251-252; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 167; Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 51-52.
  9. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 318; Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 92.
  10. Dīnawarī, al-Akhbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 256; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 187; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 320.
  11. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 323-324; Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 63-64
  12. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 327; Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 101.
  13. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 334; Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 69-70.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 336; Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 71.
  15. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 20.
  16. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, p. 196; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 336.
  17. Khwārizmī, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn, vol. 2, p. 20.
  18. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Iqbāl al-aʿmāl, vol. 3, p. 77-78.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Balādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-. Ansāb al-ashrāf. Beirut: Dār al-Taʿāruf, 1977.
  • Ibn al-Athīr, ʿAlī b. Muḥammad. Al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1965.
  • Ibn Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Iqbāl al-aʿmāl. Edited by Jawād Qayyūmī. Qom: Daftar-i Tablīghāt-i Islāmī, 1376 Sh.
  • Khwārizmī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad. Maqtal al-Ḥusayn. Edited by Muḥammad al-Samāwī. Qom: Maktabat al-Mufīd, [n.d].
  • Mufīd, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-. Al-Irshād. Qom: Kungira-yi Shaykh al-Mufīd, 1413 AH.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk. Second edition. Beirut: Dār al-Turāth, 1967.

Source[edit | edit source]