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Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.)

 Whenever the blood-smeared incident of  Karbala is narrated, one is reminded of the two martyrs of Kufa. Rather the martyrdom at Kufa was the preface of the battle at Karbala. The martyrs of Kufa, Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) and Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) are included among the friends and helpers of Imam Husain (a.s.), who were martyred in Karbala. 

The people of Medina  Basra and Kufa hold special importance in the allegiance taken by Yazid after his ascension to the caliphate. This was due to the fact that illustrious and renowned personalities of Islamic history resided in these cities.  

There were many people in Kufa who possessed the love of Ahle Bait (a.s.). Hence, when the news of Muawiya’s death spread in these cities, their prominent citizens wrote to Imam Husain (a.s.) and requested him to come to Kufa. The exact number of people who wrote such letters is unknown. What is famous however, is the number of people who paid allegiance to Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) and according to reports, that figure was either forty thousand or thirty thousand or twenty thousand or eighteen thousand. The figure of eighteen thousand also finds mention in one of the letters of Janabe Muslim (a.s.) addressed to Imam Husain (a.s.). – ‘…and 18,000 of the people of Kufa have pledged allegiance on my hand.’ Due to this revolution in Kufa, some  people reached Karbala after it and joined the ranks of the martyrs (may the peace of Allah be upon them all).  

However, Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) stands out as a luminous personality among those who sacrificed their lives in Kufa for the protection of Imam Husain (a.s.). There is very little information on the lineage of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.). Most of the books extend his narrative only to the company of Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.).

  His lineage has been described thus: Haani Ibne Urwah Ibne al-Fazzah Ibne Imran al-Ghutaimi al-Muraadi. He belonged to the tribe of Mazhaj. Some have also narrated the name of his tribe as al-Muraad. He was the chieftain of his tribe and evoked great respect and awe. In time of war, he could mobilize up to 40,000 armored soldiers and eight thousand infantry along
with him. He was counted among the great nobles of Kufa. That is why  anabe
Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) shifted his base from the house of Mukhtar al-Saqafi to the residence of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.).  

The incident is narrated thus that Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) received the news of the arrival of Ibne Ziyad in Kufa and the threats issued to the Kufans. So he inferred that Ibne Ziyad will try to capture him at the earliest. Hence the decision to change his residence to the house of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) was taken. Some historians write that Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) was averse to give asylum to Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.), but this view is incorrect since most historians opine that Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) had indeed sheltered Janabe Muslim (a.s.) in his house and kept him in concealment.

(Tarikh-e-Islam by Sayyed Hashim Rasooli
Mahallati vol. 3, p.110, taken from Muruj al-Zahab vol. 3, p.59)

 Shareek b. A’war was also present with Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) in the house of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.). Ubaidullah Ibne Ziyad was then the governor of  Basra. Following the arrival of Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.), Yazid ordered him to take immediate charge of Kufa. Consequently, he made his brother Usman Ibne. Ziyad as his successor in Basra and proceeded to Kufa. Along with him were Ubaidullah Ibne Harith Ibne Nawfal, Muslim Ibne Amr Baahili and Shareek Ibne A’war. These people had great affection for the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Shareek b. A’war had even debated with Muawiya.  

Some historians have reasoned that he kept the company of Ubaidullah Ibne Ziyad to keep Imam Husain (a.s.) informed of the planning of Ubaidullah. Ibne Ziyad respected Shareek due to the eminent position that he enjoyed in his tribe. He was making efforts to leave Basra quickly to pre-empt the arrival of  Imam Husain (a.s.) in Kufa and prevent him from entering. But Shareek Ibne A’war and others showed sluggishness in this to defer Ibne Ziyad’s departure. On the way, Ubaidullah Ibne Harith, Shareek b. A’war and his slave Mehran fell sick and discontinued their journey. Ibne Ziyad left them behind to proceed to Kufa via Najaf.

  (Tarikh-e-Islam by Mahallaati, vol.
                                                                                                           3, p.108)

(Since we want to discuss more about Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.), we will overlook the talks pertaining to Ibne Ziyad). 

Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) was among the renowned Shias and hence the ailing Shareek b. A’war, on reaching Kufa, stayed at his residence. Since Ibne Ziyad greatly respected Shareek, he sent a message saying that he was coming to visit him. When he got the news, Shareek informed Janabe Muslim (a.s.) that ‘The sinful destroyer (Ibne Ziyad) will visit me in the evening. When he sits near me, you should attack and kill him and get rid of his evil. If I am cured of this disease, I will make the people of Basra subservient to you.’  

Marhoom Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) has narrated this incident in detail in his book, ‘Jalaa al-Oyoon’. Briefly, Shareek b. A’war was insisting on the assassination of Ibne Ziyad while Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) and Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) considered this kind of killing as unbecoming and inappropriate. The course of action was yet undecided when Ibne Ziyad arrived. Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) told Janabe Muslim (a.s.) that he was not comfortable with the fact that Ibne Ziyad would be murdered under his roof. Ibne Ziyad entered the house and sat near Shareek. He started enquiring about his health and the cause of his sickness.  

Shareek b. A’war was waiting for the attack of Janabe Muslim. When he did not appear, Shareek started reciting a couplet to intimate Janabe Muslim (a.s.) of Ibne Ziyad’s arrival and prompt him to emerge and kill him. The purport of the couplet was: ‘What are you waiting for, why do you not come out, pour the goblet of death on his body. Then Shareek added: The mercy of Allah is on your father; let me make a drink from that goblet too, even if it meant giving up my life.’ When Shareek repeated his poem, a confused Ibne Ziyad asked, ‘Why are you talking gibberish?’ On this, Haani (r.a.) quickly intervened, ‘He has been talking thus since dusk had fallen.’ Ibne Ziyad left the place. When Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) came out of the room, Shareek asked, ‘Why did you not kill him?’ Janabe Muslim (a.s.) replied, ‘Two things stopped me. Haani had ordered me against committing this act and secondly, people have narrated a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):

‘Surely faith restricts to capture or kill a person unawares. A believer never attacks a person unawares.’ (Tarikh-e-Islam of Mahallaati, vol.
3, p.111) 

Shareek lamented, ‘I swear by Allah! If you had killed him, you would have put to death an avaricious unbeliever who breaks promises.’  

Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.) has narrated yet another reason. He writes, “Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) said, ‘When I wished to come out, a woman of the household pleaded: I beseech you by Allah, do not kill Ibne Ziyad in our house.’ When Haani came to know of this, he remarked: Woe betide that woman who has gotten me and herself killed and put us in the very same situation which she wanted to avoid. (Nafas al-Mahmoom, p.51)

 Under any case, Shareek Ibne A’war expired three days after the incident and Ibne Ziyad eventually came to know of the aborted plan. He said, ‘If my father’s grave would not have been in between his grave (i.e. where Shareek had been buried), I would surely have dug it up and desecrated it.’

  Ibne Ziyad began the search for Janabe Muslim (a.s.). He could not enter Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah’s (r.a.) residence easily nor was he very sure that Janabe Muslim (a.s.) was hiding there. Hence he appointed his slave Ma’qal to execute this task. Ma’qal was cunning and devious, and enjoyed the total confidence of his master. Ibne Ziyad handed him three thousand dirhams and instructed him to find out where Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) was hidden. Ma’qal’s strategy was to be recognized as one of the Shias of Ahle Bait (a.s.) to the effect that they would divulge their secrets to him.  

Ma’qal took the money and reached Masjid-e-Kufa. He sat near Muslim Ibne Awsaja (r.a.), who had been nominated by Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) to elicit in secrecy, the allegiance of Shias of Ahle Bait (a.s.) for Imam Husain (a.s.). When Muslim Ibne Awsaja (r.a.) completed his prayers, Ma’qal approached him, ‘I am a resident of Syria. God has bestowed upon me, the benefit of the friendship of the ousehold of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’. Then crying, as though in grief, he ontinued, ‘I have three thousand dirhams with me. I have heard that a person rom the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is present here and taking allegiance rom people. I have just come to the mosque and people have directed me to you. herefore, take charge of this money from me and direct me to its owner, ecause I too am from among your brothers. You take my allegiance right here at his moment before going there.’Muslim Ibne Awsaja (r.a.) initially refused the request but elented on persistence. He took the allegiance and a firm promise from a’qal
that he would keep the matter a secret. And this is how Ma’qal reached  Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.). Thereafter he would visit Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) regularly, gathering information on those who visited him and the discussions that took place.

  Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) turned the money over to Abu Thamaama al-Saaedi, his treasurer and entrusted him to procure arms. He was included amongst the fearless, courageous and highly esteemed Shias of Kufa. Ma’qal sent daily reports of the proceedings to Ibne Ziyad.

                                           (Kitab al-Irshad of Shaykh Mufeed (a.r.))

 The capture of Haani (r.a.)

It was difficult for Ibne Ziyad to arrest Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel in the presence of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.). Hence he devised a plan to detain Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) first to facilitate the unhindered arrest of Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.).  

He was worried that in the event of the arrest of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.), his tribesmen would rise up in revolt and there would be a great furor while the tribes having a ‘pact of collaboration’ with them would also join them in the uprising. To avoid this eventuality, he started spending uninhibitedly from the public treasury (as is the custom of using this ploy in every era). On the other hand, he started to divide the tribes through treachery, cunning and deceit. Janabe Haani (r.a.), being the host of Janabe Muslim (a.s.) perceived danger from Ibne Ziyad and avoided meeting him. Ibne Ziyad inquired from the people the reason of Haani’s behavior. He was told that he is ill. He retorted, ‘Had I known he was ill, I would have gone to visit him.’ Thereafter, he called Muhammad Ibne Ashath, Asmaa Ibne Khaariji, Amr Ibne Hajjaje Zubaidi and instructed them, ‘I have heard that Haani has regained his health and stays in his house, so you should go to meet him and convey to him not to squander our right. Because I do not like that the right of any of the elders of Arab should to be ruined due to me.’

  These people came to Janabe Haani and after much persuasion convinced him into meeting Ibne Ziyad. When Janabe Haani reached the palace, he sensed danger that if he entered the palace, he may never return. Hence, heasked Hassaan Ibne Asmaa ‘O son of my friend, I fear this man, what is your opinion?’ He replied, ‘O uncle, By God, I never feared him. Take this scare out of your heart’. Hassaan did not know why Ibne Ziyad had invited Haani.  

Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) reached before Ibne Ziyad, who was surrounded with people. As soon as Haani entered, Ibne Ziyad exclaimed, ‘He has himself walked into a death trap’. Ibne Ziyad even recited a couplet meaning: ‘I wish for him to live and he wishes my death.’ Janabe Haani inquired: ‘O Amir! What is the matter?’ Ibne Ziyad replied: ‘What is this that you are doing in your house? Do you want to cause harm to Yazid and Muslims? You have given shelter to Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel in your house and are gathering arms. Did you think that this would remain hidden from me?’ Janabe Haani (r.a.) denied these charges and rejected the idea of being involved in the whole affair. The argument continued when  bne Ziyad called for ‘Ma’qal’. When Ma’qal arrived, Ibne Ziyad asked Haani: Do you know him? Only then did Janabe Haani realize that he was a spy of Ibne Ziyad. Janabe Haani countered: ‘By Allah, I have not invited Muslim. According to Arab custom, his hospitality became my duty and thereafter, you know the entire situation. Hence, if you so wish, we will enter into an agreement that I will not rise against you, turn Janabe Muslim out of my house so that he may go wherever he wants and will remove my protection from him, send him away and come back to you in friendship.’

 Ibne Ziyad said: ‘I will not release you till you bring Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) to me.’ Haani stated: ‘By Allah, I will not do it.’ When the argument between the two became heated, Amr Baahili, who was from  mong the Syrians, stood up and requested for a private conference with Janabe Haani. The two retired to a corner. Ibne Ziyad watched the two engaged in a discussion and suddenly their voices were raised. People heard Janabe Haani saying – ‘This is degradation for me and will bring me shame. How could I turn my guest, who takes shelter with me, over to the enemy, despite the fact that I am alive, healthy, seeing and hearing? My shoulders are firm and my helpers are many. By Allah, even if I was alone and without any support, I would not turn him over to the enemy. Even if I lose my life, I don’t care about it.’ Janabe Haani did not relent in turning Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) over to the enemy. On hearing this, Ibne Ziyad thundered: ‘Bring him to me.’ He reiterated, ‘Either bring Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) to me or I will cut off your head.’ Janabe Haani retorted: ‘By Allah, (if you do such a thing) it will result in the striking of swords.’ Ibne Ziyad said furiously: ‘Are you threatening me with the striking of swords?’ Turning to his men, the tyrant turned said: ‘Bring him to me.’ When he was brought closer, Ibne Ziyad, who had a whip in his hand, struck it on Janabe Haani’s forehead and head. The blow bruised his face and the whip broke.  

Janabe Haani attacked and tried to arm himself by snatching the soldier’s sword but was unsuccessful. Ibne Ziyad threatened: ‘Your blood has become lawful.’ Then he was pushed to the ground and dragged to the confines of a room. When Hassaan Ibne Asmaa protested, Ibne Ziyad asked: ‘Are you still here?’ Then he too was beaten up and pushed aside. Muhammad Ibne Ashath said: ‘Whatever the Amir (Ibne Ziyad) is doing, we are satisfied with it.’ When Amr Ibne Hajjaj heard the news that Haani was killed, he came along with  he
tribe of Mazhaj (Haani’s tribe) and surrounded the palace. He called out loudly, ‘I am Amr b. Hajjaj and these are our riders. We have not separated from the Muslims, nor turned back from the allegiance of the Amir. Then why was one of our elders killed?’

 People informed Ibne Ziyad that the tribe of Mazhaj had surrounded the palace. Ibne Ziyad instructed the Shareeh (the official jurist) to go to Haani, see his condition, then go out to the crowd and inform them that Haani is still alive and has not been killed. Ashath went to meet Haani who asked: ‘O Muslims, have the people of my tribe been destroyed? Where are the pious people of my tribe? Where are the people of this city?’ His face was bleeding profusely. Meanwhile he heard the shouting outside the palace and remarked: ‘Even if ten people enter the palace, then they will free me.’ hareeh climbed to the upper portion of the palace and addressed the tribe of Mazhaj: ‘As soon as the Amir heard of your arrival, he sent me to Haani. I met Haani and now I am ordered to inform you that Haani is very much alive. If someone has told you that Haani is dead, he has lied.’ The crowd, on hearing this, dispersed. Then Ibne Ziyad, along with his office-bearers, came to the mosque and delivered a sermon in which he issued a veiled threat: ‘Do not cause dissension among the people in the following of God and your leaders by which you will be destroyed, degraded and killed. You will surely be oppressed and rendered homeless. Surely your brother is the one who is truthful to you.’

What a strange tale, like a criminal chiding the police! It is indeed regretful that the dissenters among the Islamic nation are calling themselves as the abstentious followers of Allah and his Prophet (s.a.w.a.).  

 The Martyrdom of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.)

After the martyrdom of Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.), Muhammad Ibne Ashath entreated to Ibne Ziyad that Haani should be released from captivity. He told Ibne Ziyad, ‘You have understood the stature of Haani in this city. The people of his tribe know that I am his friend and it was I who brought him to you. I ask you for the sake of Allah! Return him to our custody, because I do not desire enmity with his tribe.’  

Ibne Ziyad promised to accept his intercession. But he violated his promise and ordered the soldiers to bring Haani before him. When Haani was brought, he ordered: Take him to the sheep market and behead him. His hands tied, Haani was crying out aloud: ‘O tribe of Mazhaj, where are you? Is Mazhaj not there for me today?’ But nobody paid any attention to him. When he found no assistance forthcoming, he freed himself of his ropes with a bit of effort and starting asking: ‘Is there no stick, knife or axe by which I can defend myself?’

  The soldiers pounced upon him and firmly tied his hands and were shouting: Cut his neck so that we can hack him to pieces. Haani bravely countered: ‘I will not gift you my life nor will I make it easy for you to take it.’  

At that moment, Ibne Ziyad’s Turkish slave – Rasheed, attacked Janabe Haani (r.a.) with his sword, but did not succeed. Haani prayed: Towards Allah is the return. O Lord! Towards Your Mercy and Your Satisfaction!’ The Turkish slave attacked again and martyred Haani (r.a.).  

‘May Allah’s Mercy, Salutations and Peace be upon Haani.’  

After the martyrdom of Janabe Haani (r.a.) and Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.), Ibne Ziyad sent their severed heads and a letter along with Hayyah Waadeii and Zubair Ibne Arwah al-Tamimi to Yazid in Syria. The answer (to the letter) written by Yazid to Ibne Ziyad is a slap on the face of the supporters of Yazid, especially those who place the entire blame of the incident of Karbala squarely on the shoulders of Ibne Ziyad (in an attempt to exonerate Yazid of any wrong doing).

  The Tone and Tenor of the Letter

The letter (written by Yazid as a reply) states: Surely, you are just as I had hoped you would be. You have acted like a man of vision by attacking fearlessly with courage and made me needless of defending myself against my enemies. You have turned all my hopes for you into a reality and my opinion about you favorable. I have inquired regarding your situation from he two messengers that you have sent. I have news that Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) has turned towards Iraq. Search them with an armed force and wherever you find them, make them prisoners. Then inform me about developments.’

(Ansaab al-Ashraaf, vol.1, first

If Yazid had not instructed Ibne Ziyad to act in such a dastardly manner, he would never have reported him thus.

‘May Allah’s Curse be upon Yazid and Ibne Ziyad.’  

The grave of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) is situated outside the Mosque of Kufa in the city of Kufa in the right hand side corner at the back. The visitors to the mosque invariably visit the grave of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.). The graves of Janabe Muslim Ibne Aqeel (a.s.) and Mukhtar al-Saqafi are right opposite to it. The martyrdom of Janabe Haani Ibne Urwah (r.a.) occurred in Zilhajj, 60 A.H. His Ziarat is recited in the following manner:  

O Allah! Hasten the reappearance of Imam Zamana (a.t.f.s.) and fulfill the promise of avenging the blood of the martyrs.  

{Note: For details, refer to the following books: Jalaa al-Oyoon by Allamah Majlisi (a.r.); Kitab al-Irshad by Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.); Ahsan al-Maqaal (the Urdu translation of Muntahal Aamaal) by Shaikh Abbas Qummi (a.r.)}.

September 2, 2020