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Story 74: A Kind Reprisal

After twenty-one years of his despotic rule, Abdul Malik ibn Marwan died in the year 86 after Hijrah. His son, Walid, succeeded his father. In order to appease public discontent, Walid decided to implement amendments to the system of government, trade, and the management of public affairs.

He especially wanted to attract the support of the inhabitants of Madinah, which was considered to be one of the two Holy Centers of Islam, as well as the city of the Holy Prophet’s (S) descendants and companions, in addition to the scholars of Islamic jurisprudence and prophetic traditions.

That is why Walid dismissed Hisham ibn Isma’il Makhzumi, Abdul Malik’s father-in-law, the ex-governor of Madinah, who had tyrannized people, thus they always wished for his removal from the office of governor.

Hisham ibn Isma’il had subjected the citizens of Madinah to severe oppression and had offended people a great extent. He had lashed Said ibn Mussayib, the famous narrator of prophetic traditions and a well-respected person in Madinah with sixty lashes; then had him dressed in a coarse garment, and mounted him on a camel which paraded him round the city of Madinah.

With regard to the household of Imam Ali (‘a), particularly the most eminent of them, Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn Zainul Abidin (‘a), was treated worse than others.

Walid discharged Hisham and appointed in his place his young cousin, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, as the governor of Madinah. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz had a good reputation among people for his justice and good-will. In order to alleviate people’s suffering, Umar ordered that Hisham ibn Isma’il be taken in front of Marwan ibn Hakam’s house, and anyone who had suffered any hardship from Hisham, or had heard of his evil behaviour, was invited to go there and take their revenge.

The people came in crowds, showering abuse on Hisham ibn Isma’il and greeting him with a stream of curses. As for Hisham, he was more afraid of Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) and Imam Ali’s (‘a) descendants, than anyone else. He thought that the revenge for all the oppression, insults and abuses with regards to his eminent father and ancestors, would not be less than death.

On the other hand, the Imam (‘a) said to Imam Ali’s (‘a) descendants, “It is not our nature to kick someone when they are down, and to take revenge on an enemy after he becomes weak. On the contrary, our morality is to help and comfort those who are weak.”

Accompanied by all Imam Ali’s (‘a) descendants, the Imam (‘a) came towards Hisham ibn Isma’il. Hisham's face turned completely pale. He thought that the moment of his death had arrived. However, contrary to his expectations, the Imam (‘a), as is customary for Muslims when they greet each other, said, “As-salamu Alaykum”, shook his hand and added compassionately, “If I can be of any help to you, I am ready to do so." After this incident, the inhabitants of Madinah stopped cursing him for his evil deeds.1

  • 1. Bihar ul-Anwar, v. 11, p. 17 and 27. Al-Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), v. 1, p. 111, Al-Imam Zainul Abidin translated by H. Wujdani, p. 92.