Prior to the departure of Imam Husain towards Kufa and before his caravan could make travelling requirements, , Imam Husain selected a guide upon whom he had complete faith and sent him towards Kufa so that he could ensure the authenticity of circumstances over there.
Imam Husain selected his cousin Muslim Bin Aqeel bin Abi Talib. Muslim went to Medina from Mecca and selected two persons who were conversant with the passage and started the journey across the desert. On the way, one guide died of thirst and in some traditions it is written that both the guides died of thirst. Muslim considered it a bad omen and wrote to Husain a letter.
“I came to Medina and hired two men and took them along with me. They lost the way and died of thirst. I too was half dead with thirst. After great tribulations, I have reached a place which is called Mazeeq, situated in the valley of Khabeesat. I consider it to be a bad omen. If possible please excuse me, and send someone else in my place.” Imam
replied that he would have to go to Kufa (Hazrat Muslim’s disinclination is not corroborated by standard traditions).
Muslim reached Kufa and stayed with Hani Bin Urwa, a Shia. Shias started pouring to his house. When a substantial number of people would gather, Muslim would read the letter of Imam Husain. These persons would cry and promise feverently to help Imam Husain. Almost twelve thousand people paid fealty to him. Therefore, Muslim joyously dispatched a letter of congratulations to Imam Husain who was in Mecca awaiting the letter.
When Muslim entered Kufa, at that time the commander of the city was Noman Bin Basheer Ansari. Well wishers of Yazeed wrote him a letter, “If you want to control Kufa then appoint someone else as the ruler of Kufa. Noman is not able to govern well and Muslim has been extremely successful in his mission to promote Imam Hussain.”
Yazeed dismissed Noman and appointed Ubbaidulla Ibne Ziyad as the governor of Kufa who was then the ruler of Basrah and ordered him to murder Muslim. Yazeed summoned Hani Bani Urwa who belonged to the tribe of Murad, Yazeed ordered him to be jailed and eventually murdered.
This news circulated in the city like wild fire. Women of the tribe of Bani Murad started crying and weeping. Muslim got enraged and organized four thousand people of Kufa to accompany him with the intention of releasing Hani. But the behavior of the people of Kufa was very astonishing. Tabari in his history and Abulfaraj Isfahani in Maqatil Al Talib writes
“Each woman of Kufa would come inside the ranks of the army, would hold the hand of her son and say, “These huge crowds which have gathered for Muslim are sufficient
for his protection and would pull her son out. Some people would hold the hand of their brothers and sons and would say, “Tomorrow, the Syrian army is arriving. How can you fight with them? Come away.” And in this way, people began leaving the company of Muslim one by one. Things came to such a pass that he performed the Magrib Prayer with only thirty people in attendance. After performing the Namaz when he proceeded out of the mosque’s main gate, barely ten people were with him. When he came out of the mosque he was alone.”
Muslim was wandering on the streets of Kufa in a distressed state, friendless and without a single place of refuge. He passed through the house of an old woman who was waiting for her son who had ventured out along with other people. Muslim greeted her and asked for water. That woman Toa brought water for him. Muslim drank water and kept on standing there. The woman got suspicious and asked him to go to his house. She repeated this request thrice.
Muslim replied, “I am a servant of God. By God, I don’t have a house in this city. Can you do me a kindness? May be that I may be able to return that kindness.”
Woman asked “O servant of God what do you want?”
Muslim replied, “I am Muslim bin Ageel. People of this city made false promises to me and then left me alone.”
Toa took him inside her house, and provided dinner for him but Muslim did not partake of the food. The woman informed her son about Muslim staying in her house. It was just before the dawn that the commander of the town came to know about it.
The army encircled Muslim from all four sides. He got ready to be killed. Muslim came to face with sixty or seventy soldiers clad in chain mails. But these soldiers were unable to confront him, and began throwing burning torches towards him. Muslim unsheathed his sword and confounded their rows and ranks. Mohammad Ibne Ashash told Muslim, “You are granted amnesty. Do not ruin yourself.”
Muslim did not accept this term and kept on fighting and kept reciting these verses, “I have taken an oath that I will die as a free man even though death may be very hard on me. Every man has to face death one day. I have a suspicion that these people are telling me lies and they want to deceive me.
Son of Ashash said, “Neither are we telling you lies nor we want to deceive you. These people are like your cousins and they don’t want to torment or murder you. By this time, Muslim had been deeply hurt. He took the support of a wall and stood up. From all four sides people made promises to give him security. Muslim stopped fighting. For carrying Muslim they brought a mule and made Muslim sit on it. Later on, they disarmed him and took away his weapons, Muslim became suspicions of their amnesty.
Muslim was taken to Ibne Ziyad, who decreed that Muslim be murdered on the top storey of the palace and the body be flung down. As for Hani, he should be crucified in the market.
Tabari narrates through the source of the person who was present at time, “After Muslim’s heartless murder, they tied Hani’s hands and took him to the market where goats were sold. He called people of tribe of “Nadhaj” for help. When he saw that no help was forth coming, he broke the cord binding his hands and declared that he should be provided with a stick,
a knife, a stone or a bone with which to defend himself. Again people collected in crowds and overpowered him. They tied him tightly and asked him to stretch his neck. But he did not agree to this. At that time a slave of Ubaidullah Ibne Ziyad gave him a blow and another person murdered him. People silently observed the spectacle.
While these misfortunes were taking place in Kufa, the Ahl-Bait in Mecca was reading the letter of Muslim, in happier times. These letters described the good news of fealty of people of Kufa and the eager anticipation of the Kufies for their arrival. After receiving letter of Muslim, Husain ordered his Ahl-Bait to get ready for the journey towards Kufa, and did not wait for the verbal message from Muslim to reach him.
When Muslim became certain of his death, he started crying. Someone said,
“A person who is ready to sacrifice for a noble cause should not cry on the calamity which has fallen him.” on
Muslim replied, “By God, I am not crying over myself. I do not care at all about my murder. I am crying for Husain and his children who are on their way to Kufa.” Then he addressed Mohammad Bin Ashash who had given him security and said.
“O, servant of God! I know that you are helpless in giving me amnesty. But can you send a person to Husain who will personally deliver my message to him?”
When this messenger would reach Hussain, he should say, “I am the messenger of Muslim bin Aqeel who has been arrested by the people of Kufa and is soon to be murdered. I beg you to please return back along with your Ahl Bait so that these treacherous people may not deceive you. These are the
people, which caused your father to wish for death. Kufians made false promises to you and to me. Liars cannot very same be trusted.’
Son of Ashash swore, “By God! I will send the message to Husain.” Husain had left Mecca much before the arrival of the letter. Indeed at the time of his departure from Medina, Imam Husain had recited a verse of Yazeed bin Mafragh which truly reflected his destiny.
“Death is keeping a watch on me so that I may not change the course and turn towards some other passage.