Mourners of the oppressed Imam!
Yesterday I had spoken about the repentance of Hurr. Today you will hear about another companion of the holy Imam, Zuhair Ibn Qayn because he is also considered among the repentants.
However, his repentance was different. He was an Uthmani, a partisan of Uthman Ibn Affan. He was among those who thought that Imam Ali (A) was responsible for Uthman’s murder. Hence he did not have a favorable opinion about Imam Ali (A).
Whenever Imam Al-Husayn (A) confronted an adamant enemy, he used to show such confidence that no power could decrease his honour; leave aside the chance of bowing his head down. Often the Imam used to be in a situation when it was necessary to guide some people; in such cases he even ignored the carelessness of those people.
Zuhair was returning with his caravan from Mecca to Iraq and Imam Al-Husayn (A) was also traveling on the same route to Iraq. Zuhair was trying not to meet Imam Al-Husayn (A) face to face somehow.
When he used to see that the caravan of Imam Al-Husayn (A) was getting closer, he used to take his caravan away. Imam knew that Zuhair was keeping away because he was unaware of the facts. In spite of this, Imam (A) wanted to remind him of something because the Almighty Allah has said:
فَذَكِّرْ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مُذَكِّرٌ
(Therefore do remind, for you are only a reminder). (88:21)
Imam wanted Zuhair to come out of ignorance; he didn’t want to force him. Even though Zuhair was ignoring the Imam, the latter wanted to guide him because his heart was full of the light of faith.
Zuhair knew that Al-Husayn was the son of Allah’s beloved; and what his right on Ummah was. He feared that if he met the Imam, the latter may ask for something that he could not fulfill; and it would be a great defect.
At one station, much against his wish, Zuhair had to halt near the Imam. Imam Al-Husayn (A) had halted at that place and thus, both the caravans halted at the same well. Imam (A) sent a messenger to call Zuhair. Zuhair and his companions were having food in one of the tents. Suddenly, the curtain of the tent was lifted and a person said, “O Zuhair! Al-Husayn is calling you.”1
Hearing this, Zuhair’s face became pale and he murmured, “This is what I feared.” His companions were also aware of the entire situation.
It is mentioned in books that Zuhair and his companions stopped eating because Zuhair was well-aware of the status of Imam Al-Husayn (A). Hence, he could neither reject the invitation nor accept it whole- heartedly. He knew that it wasn’t proper to reject the invitation of Imam Al-Husayn (A). He sat frozen, like the saying goes in Arabic, “As if a bird was sitting on his head.”2 In short, the entire atmosphere became tense.
When Zuhair’s wife (Dalham Bint Amr) came to know that Imam Al-Husayn (A) had sent a messenger inviting Zuhair to him but Zuhair has not yet replied to him, she came forward and said: “O Zuhair! The beloved one of Fatimah is calling you and you are rejecting the invitation instead of taking it as an honour? Zuhair! You must go to him.”
Eventually Zuhair got up helplessly and went to meet the Imam. Sometimes, reminders show their effect in this way also.
I don’t know, that is it is not mentioned in any history and perhaps no one knows what was discussed and how they felt when Zuhair met Imam Al-Husayn (A) because Zuhair’s face was pale when he went to meet the Imam and it looked bright and young when he came out of the meeting.
I don’t know how Imam Al-Husayn (A) transformed Zuhair’s thinking. I also don’t know what the Imam reminded him of but I certainly know that a revolution had appeared in Zuhair’s heart. He was completely transformed. People saw that Zuhair was no longer his old self.
When he returned, he ordered his tent to be moved from its place and shifted next to the tent of Imam Al-Husayn (A). “Now I would live and die with Aba Abdillah only.” He also started making a will about how his property should be utilized. He also willed about his sons and daughters. He ordered that his wife should be sent to her father’s house after him.
Zuhair spoke and bid farewell in such a manner that everybody understood that he was not going to return. When he came out of his tent fully armed, his wife caught the tail of his robe and said weeping, “Zuhair! You have chosen martyrdom with the beloved of Fatimah so that she may intercede for you on Judgment Day.
Zuhair, do not act in such a way that you and I are separated on Judgment Day. I am holding onto you only with the hope that you would ask Lady Az-Zahra to intercede for me on the Judgment Day. Zuhair! Promise me that you would request for my intercession. I want Lady Fatimah to intercede for me.”3
After that, it is this same Zuhair who is seen in the forefront among the rows of the companions of Al-Husayn (A) and the Imam had given him the command of the right wing. How surprising!
Zuhair had displayed such a character that when Imam Al-Husayn (A) was left alone on the Ashura day and none of the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) was left, he called out his companions and Zuhair was one of them.
The oppressed Imam said, “O my dear ones! O my brave ones! O Muslim Ibn Aqeel! O Hani Ibn Urwah! O Zuhair! Why are you asleep? Get up and safeguard the sanctity of your Prophet from those shameless traitors.”4
When the battle ended, Zuhair’s wife was worried. She thought that others would be shrouded while Zuhair’s body would lie unshrouded. Thinking this, she sent her slave ordering him to shroud his master. When the slave came, he saw all the martyrs lying without shroud and felt ashamed. He could not bear to shroud Zuhair and leave his master, Al-Husayn (A), unshrouded.5
وَسَيَعْلَمُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَيَّ مُنْقَلَبٍ يَنْقَلِبُونَ
And they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back. (26:227)
- 1. O Zuhair! Aba Abdullah al-Husayn has sent me to call you. Lohoof, Pg.72
- 2. We were sitting quietly as if we had a bird sitting on our heads and would have flown away if we moved. Lohoof, Pg. 72.
- 3. Zuhair’s wife said, “God is your helper. Whatever happened to you has goodness in it. I wish that Husayn’s grandfather remembers me too at the time of intercession on the Judgment Day.” Lohoof, Pg. 73; Maqtal al-Husayn, Pg. 178; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 372.
- 4. Imam Husayn (A) looked around and saw that all his companions were martyred. His brothers and sons were lying on the earth smeared with their blood. Imam (A) called out aloud,
“O Muslim Ibn Aqeel! O Hani Ibn Urwah! O Habib Ibn Mazahir and O Zuhair Ibn Qayn! O my true and brave companions! O those who fought alongside me! O honest and honoured youths! Wake from your sleep and save the family of your Holy Prophet from those mean traitors.” Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg 484.
- 5. Lohoof, Pg. 71; Maqtal al-Husayn, Pg. 177; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 342; Tarikh al-Ashura, Pg. 198 published by Jame Taalimaat al-Islami, Pakistan.