He was known as Hujr al-Khayr. His Kunya was Abu `Abd al Rahman b. `Adi b. al-Harth b. `Amr b. Hujr. He was given the nickname (i.e., laqab) of Akil al-Mirar. He was from Kinda tribe and he was the Chief of his tribe.
He was a lord from the lords of the Muslims in Kufa.
Hujr and his brother Hani’ b. `Adi came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. In his book `al-Isti’ab’, b. `Abd al-Bir al Maliki said: “Hujr was among the excellent Companions, and his age was less than their old ones.” In his book `Asad al-Ghaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba’, Ibn al-Athir has mentioned him with words similar to these ones. In his book `al-Mustadrak’, al-Hakim has described him as: “the monk of the Companions of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his family.”
Hujr worshipped (Allah) to the extent that when he made ritual impurity, he performed the ritual ablution; when he performed the ritual ablution, he prayed. He performed one thousand rak`as a day. His religious piety was apparent, and his supplication was accepted. He was among the chosen reliable figures. He preferred the hereafter to the life in this world to the extent that he subjected his life to killing, refusing to renounce his Imam. He had a high social position.
Hujr was in the army that conquered Sham (Syria), and in the army that conquered Qadisiya ( a city in Iraq). He took part in the Battle of the Camel headed by ‘Ali. He was the commander of Kinda at the Battle of Siffin, and the commander of the left wing of the army at the Battle of al-Nahrwan. He was the brave man who defeated al-Dahhak b. Qays in the western part of Tadmur. It was he who said: “We are the children of war and appropriate for it. We start it and end it. We have known it (i.e., war) and it has known us.”
Hujr was the first patient martyr in Islam.
Mu’awiya b. Abu Sufyan killed Hujr and six of his companions at Marj `Athra’ twelve miles away from Damascus in the year 51 A.H.
Up till now, Hujr’s grave is apparent and famous.
There is a firm dome on it. old marks can be seen on the dome that is beside a wide mosque. Hujr’s companions who were killed with him are in his shrine.
Ziyad b. Abih demolished Hujr’s house in Kufa.
Reports from Syria say Wahhabi extremists have desecrated the grave of an ancient Muslim figure near the capital, Damascus.
Reason of Martyr
Hijr ibn Adi and his son were killed in 660 CE by Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan, due to his firm loyalty to Imam Ali (as).
Sunni scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi in his book Caliphs and Kings writes:
“Hijr ibn Adi was a pious companion of the Prophet (saw) and played a vital role in the correction of the Ummah. During Muawiyah’s reign when the custom of cursing Ali from the pulpit’s of Mosques began, hearts of the Muslims were being bled dry but people bit their tongues fearing death. In Kufa, Hijr ibn Adi could not remain silent and he began to praise Ali (as) and condemn Muawiyah. Until Mughira remained the Governor of Kufa, he adopted a lenient attitude towards this, but when Ziyad’s Governorship of Basra was extended to include Kufa, serious altercations arose. He would curse Ali (as) during the sermons and Hijr would refute him.
On one occasion he (Hijr) warned Ziyad for being late for Jummah prayers. Ziyad then arrested him along with twelve of his companions on false accusations of forming an opposition group to overthrow the Khalifa. He also gathered witnesses to testify against them alleging that they claimed that khilafath was the exclusive right of the lineage of Ali (as) and further accused them of creating an uproar, of sending blessings upon him and hating his enemies.
The accused were sent to Muawiyah and he sentenced them to death. A condition was placed that if they cursed Ali (as) and showed their hatred to him they would be pardoned. They refused and Hijr ibn Adi said `I will not say that which would displease Allah’.
Finally Hijr ibn Adi, his son Humaan ibn Hijr and his seven companions were murdered. From amongst them Abdur Rahman bin Hasan was sent back to return with a written instruction that he be murdered in the worst possible manner, Ziyad buried him alive.”
[Chapter 4: “The elimination of freedom of speech” by Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi].
In other traditions, it is said that Hijr’s final wish was that his son be killed before him, in fear that his son would be terrified of death and give in to the demands to curse Ali (as).
Hijr saw his son be killed before he too stepped forward for martyrdom, both giving their lives in loyalty to Ali (as) and for the sake of Allah (swt).