The heavy, filthy air that surrounded the four walls of the prison was packed with the odor of moisture. The whole atmosphere made breathing very difficult for any human being. The prison was a dark and dingy place infested with rats and cockroaches. The rats were so large and black that the silent prison echoed with their swift climbing on walls and all around the place. Between the high walls of the prison and huge rats sat two little children, Muhammad who was ten years old and Ibrahim who was eight years of age. Their clothes were ripped, soiled and messy. Their hairs were long, sticky and disheveled. Their whole appearance was shabby and unkempt. The dirt on their skin and faces, which used to shine like a mirror once upon a time, covered it completely making it impossible to recognize which family they belonged to.
Sitting next to an empty jug of water Ibrahim tried to bite into a very dry piece of bread. As he did that his eyes filled with tears and he turned to his brother and spoke, "Dear brother, why are we living in such plight?" When will we at least shower? It's been a long time and my body is clammy and smells unpleasant. My eyes are hollow with torture. Since we have come here we have only had dry bread and water and no fruits. We hardly feel satiated with the food we get. When will we get to eat a proper meal?
With his hands folded around his knees, Muhammad was listening to his little brother. Then he came near Ibrahim and brought him closer still by his shoulder and wiped his tears. He said, "My dear, I don't know what we will do. It is not in my hands!" Then whose work is it? Maybe it is that man who has kept us captive in this prison. He is ignoble and irreligious. Every evening he gives us dry bread and water. Today when he comes we shall talk to him and ask him, maybe he will feel pity on us and set us free from this torture. I give it as my feeling he doesn't know that we belong to the Prophet (s.a.w.)'s family. If he were a true Muslim, he would not have done such a thing.
At the same moment, the prison door making a creaking sound opened. The noise made the children stop their conversation. When the door of the prison opened, the rays of light penetrated the dungeon and the light blinded the children. As their eyes adjusted to the light they could see an old man with bread and water in his hands. He kept the tray of food on the floor and started to lock the door behind him. Once again he lifted the tray and began descending the stairs one by one until he was at the end. Reaching near the children he took a deep breath and asked them, "What were you whispering? In the name of God tell me the truth. You think I am an old man so I cannot see and hear?" Muhammad held his arms close to his body in fear and said, No, no! In the name of God, we were not whispering, I mean ... We were not saying anything bad. Only ... "What, what... only what?" This time Ibrahim opened his mouth to speak, "We were speaking about you, that how good you are and we wanted to ask you something. Do you know Muhammad ibn Abdullah? Yes or No?"
The old man put the tray of water and food on the floor and sat beside it with a little discomfort due to his old age and replied, "What kind of a question are you asking me? I know him very well without knowing our prophet (s.a.w.), my religion-Islam would be unaccomplished." Ibrahim and Muhammad regarded each other with happy faces in a long time after hearing the old man's words. This time Muhammad asked, "Do you know Ja'far-e-Tayyar? "Certainly, I know him too. What kind of a Muslim is he who does not know him? He is the one who has been granted wings as a reward for his martyrdom; with which he can move about anywhere he pleases in heaven (Jannat) and as a substitute for the hands, which he lost while fighting the enemies of God. "Do you know who Ali ibn Abi Talib is? " Is it possible that a person does not know Ali? He is the first person to have faith in Islam and acknowledge the Prophet (s.a.w.). Ali was the son of the prophet (s.a.w.)'s uncle, the son-in-law of the prophet (s.a.w.) himself and the husband of the prophet (s.a.w.)'s daughter bibi Fatime (s.a.).Ali is the lion of Allah and without his sword Islam would not have survived to day and we wouldn't have been Muslims today and there wouldn't be any Muslims left. He was the fourth khalifeh of the prophet (s.a.w.) of Islam.
The brothers looked at each other again while Muhammad continued to ask, "Okay, so do you know Aqeel and Muslim?" "Of course I do know. They are the personalities of Islam. Aqeel is the brother of Ali (a.s.) and the son of the Prophet (s.a.w.)'s uncle. Muslim is the son of Aqeel and son-in-law of Hazrat Ali (a.s). Why do you ask so many questions? Strictly speaking you are too young to know such people." Ibrahim choked back his tears, waited for a while and began crying. "How can we not know these people when we are the children of Muslim ibne Aqeel and the descendants of the Holy prophet (s.a.w.)? The old man started pounding his head with his fists feeling remorseful and guilty. "Oh, woe to me! How unfortunate I am. I'm doomed. I've lost my world and my hereafter."
He thought to himself that he was doing all this for the sake of Islamic government. He brought the children closer to him with tears in his eyes, which poured down his cheeks and vanished into his beard. He begged and pleaded to the children, "Pledge yourself to Allah and tell me that all that you have said just now is it true? Woe to me, woe to me! How have I agonized you? All I ever fed you was dry bread and water; I never even let you see the sun rise; I never permitted you to cry loudly and mourn your loss. I swear by God I did not know whose children you were and that you were Muslims. And now you are telling me that you are from the Prophet (s.a.w.)'s family. I will kiss your hands and feet until you have pardoned me. Henceforth, I will do as you tell me to and serve you as a slave. I have committed so many atrocities on you; tell me what can I do so that we can get on fair terms?"
Muhammad and Ibrahim moved away from the old man, while crying Muhammad said, "We do not want any thing from you. We know that you were obliged to follow orders. Allah will surely forgive you, which you did not know who we really were, but please stop torturing us any further than you already have. We are just two orphans; we are nobody and we do not have anything." "No my dear, my sins will not be forgiven like this. If I keep you in prison even after knowing who you are and I will still be afflicting you. It is not right for you to stay here. Wait for just a few more hours until nightfall, so that when everybody is sleeping I will open the prison door for you and set you free. You can then go wherever you feel like."
"Can we go wherever we feel like? Is that really possible? But doesn't everybody know what a tyrant Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad is? He will capture you and slaughter your wife and children and make your life miserable. We do not intend to sadden you. All we want is for you to stop being cruel to us and we will be ever so grateful to you." "No, my dear let this pagan Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad do as he wishes. My life is over as it is I have lived my life to its fullest, now I will do all I can to release you from this prison. And then I don't care what may happen; so be it. Upon hearing the old man's words Muhammad and Ibrahim were overjoyed as they embraced each other. Weeping with joy they asked one another, "Will we actually be free at last? Have our miserable days come to an end? Will we really be able to see again the trees, the sun and the stars of the sky? And go hear the water, feel it and gulp it down our throat until our thirst is quenched?"
At length it was dusk. The darkness enveloped the earth like a black blanket. The bats in the prison stirred about in the dark humid space of the prison. In the silence they heard footsteps descending the staircase. Muhammad and Ibrahim held their breath and attentively started to listen to them. The prison door screeched open and the noises grew all the more and closer. The light from the old man's candle illuminated his path. As he came into sight, Muhammad and Ibrahim stood up, and without uttering a single word, he indicated the way out of the prison. As they tiptoed their way out, they passed through a narrow corridor and climbed their stairs on the right while counting each step they took. On reaching the eighth step they found a compound in which the old man's house was situated. They understood at once that this was not a public prison but a private one and they were no other guards there. It had been long time since they were brought there as captives, but at that time they were blindfolded and their hands had been tied up so they did not have a clue about the place. When they reached the door the old man put out his candle before opening it. The neighborhood seemed still as nobody could be seen working around.
The old man signaled the children to go out as he pointed towards the door to the gardens outside the prison. He gave them two loaves of bread and water to take along. At that moment tears brimmed the old man's eyes as he wiped them with his sleeve and said, "My dear children, you take this way only and have faith in God and proceed; only He will show you the right way out. Be careful you know that everybody around here is your enemy. Do not introduce yourself to anybody. During daytime you must hide while at night you can continue your journey. Have you understood all that I have said?" "Yes, Mister we have understood." He rested his hands on their heads and bid them farewell. He followed the children in the dark until they were safely outside and then they gradually separated. His gaze followed the children until they faded away into the darkness. The two brothers (Muhammad and Ibrahim) holding each other's hand started walking without knowing for certain where they were heading. They followed the howling of some jackals and the barking of dogs.
Hours turned into days on the third night they were on the last stages of exhaustion extremely hungry and thirsty. After they had passed the river Euphrates (Furaat) they spotted a faint light at a distance. Advancing towards the light, they caught sight of a house and an old lady standing near it. Her eyes appeared as if she was waiting for somebody. She saw children who moved towards her and greeted her "Peace be upon you, Mother." The lady replied, "Peace be on you too." What are you two children doing all alone in this desert? Right now you should be in your own house with your father and mother. Do you realize the plight of your parents when they don't find you at home?" Muhammad answered, "We are the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). We are wandering about in this desert, not sure where to go. We are orphans. It has been two days and three nights since we have been roaming like this. We are shivering. We do not know where to go. We are so exhausted, hungry and thirsty that we do not even have the stamina to talk.
"Alas, you two children belong to the prophet (s.a.w.)'s family and you are all alone. So what are you doing in this desert of Kufa?" "It's true, it's true. Do you know Muslim ibne Aqeel?" Yes, of course I know him. He was invited as a guest here and then he was left on his own and the executioners of Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad severed his head from his body. But Muslim was such a courageous man that Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad had to send countless soldiers to slay him. Muslim struggled till the end until finally he succumbed to the soldier's force. "Then you know Muslim well." "Right, everybody in Kufa knows that he was the envoy of Imam Husayn (a.s.)." "Fine. We are the two children of Muslim ibne Aqeel. It has been two days since our escape from the prison and now we are strangers in the desert."
The old woman listened to the little children and hugged them. She started kissing them and inhaled their fragrance until tears welled up her eyes and she cried, "Oh! You possess the fragrance of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). I wish I could serve you so that on the day of Judgment my face would glow before our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), but .." "But what?" "But I am scared. Not for myself but for you, because whatever I do, evil will befall you." "If you want to serve us then just allow us a nights rest in your house. We promise we will leave before sunrise." "It would indeed be an honor for me to serve you, but my husband Harith is such a heartless man, working for ibn Ziyad. If he becomes aware of your presence in my house, he will capture you and take you to Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, and he will behead you. Heed my advice and escape from here as soon as possible. I will provide you with all the food and things you require but you must leave this place at once." "Do you know mother, my little brother is just eight years old. He is terrified of the dark and animals so much that last night while coming this way to the desert, he unknowingly stepped on a snake. When the snake hissed he screamed out loudly while the howling of jackals and barking dogs frightened him all the more. He was glued to me the whole time and honestly even I was scared too. If possible please let us be your guests. We do not even want food. Just provide us shelter for one night." "But what if my husband comes?" "Now it is too late, almost midnight we don't think he will come now."
Almost an hour had passed. The children had eaten a hot meal in a long time. After a while they clinged to each other and were soon sound asleep. As the children lay asleep, the old woman brought a green blanket with which to cover them and gently stroked their heads. While laying the blanket neatly, she noticed the bleeding feet of the children due to blisters they had suffered from continuous walking. Their eyes were damp with tears even while they were sleeping. Still concentrating on the two children, she heard "Knock, knock!" The color on her face drained out at the thought of who it could be? She stood up from where she was sitting and drew the children's curtains properly. Whispering she came near the door, "Who is it at this time?" A heavy voice replied with a growl, "It's me, accompanied by my son and my slave. Open the door quickly. I don't have the strength to stand." "Where were you all this while? I had been waiting for you but none of you were to be seen." "Oh you old woman! Hurry up and open the door. Don't ask too many questions. All this time we were wandering in the deserts and jungles of Kufa looking for those two children, but they are not to be seen anywhere. Oh curse those children! We searched a lot but we were unsuccessful in clutching the reward. Now open the door, we want to rest for a while."
Panic stricken the old woman opened the door with shaky hands, she saw three men standing on the door. One was a young black man; the second was another young with Arab attire. The third one was Harith, a bald middle-aged man with a thick moustache. The trio entered the house and closed the door behind them. The old woman asked, "You were talking about some kind of a reward. Who has announced the reward?" Harith impatiently replied, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, two thousand Dirham. Did you understand me two thousand Dirham for the two heads of the children. "What? Two thousand Dirham? For two innocent children?" "Who said they are innocent?" "How can little children be sinners?" "But they were the children of Muslim and have escaped from the prison of governor Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad. And you are still saying they are innocent?" "Now what will you do?" "Now what do you want me to do? You know I just want to catch hold of those two children, cut their heads off and take them to Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad and claim my reward." "Forget about such a reward. That is the value of the heads of the Prophet's family. There is no bounty or blessing in that money and you will suffer for it in this world and in the hereafter." "Alright, alright! There's no luck, there's no blessing! You are acting like a teacher. Money is money, in whichever form you get it; the halaal way or the haraam way. Anyway haven't you heard any news about this?" "What..? Me? What news? You're the one who has been looking for them from dawn to dusk. When you yourselves don't know anything, what news do you expect to hear from me? What are you speaking? Now do you want me to make some food for you after which you can sleep?" "No, we don't need food. We want to sleep and wake up early in the morning so we can continue our search for the two children and collect our two thousand Dirham." Within minutes the three men started snoring.
Muhammad and Ibrahim, in complete exhaustion started to babble in their sleep. "No, no. We are innocent we have not done anything wrong. Have mercy on us. We are only children. We are the family of Allah's Prophet..." Suddenly Harith woke up at the sound and strained his ears to listen to the voices more clearly. He started to follow the voices with the support of the walls in the dark. His hand touched the curtain screening the room in which the children were sleeping. He lifted the curtain and went inside. On catching sight of the children he pulled Ibrahim first with his collar till he was standing on his feet. Ibrahim suppressed a scream and nudged Muhammad. Muhammad woke up, fluttering and rubbing his eyes, "What is it Ibrahim? Why have you woken me up?" "Wake up, wake up! What we had been dreading all along has finally come. Now we are helpless."
Both the children got up from their places with their bodies shivering and teeth chattering like someone standing in the snow without any clothes on. Everybody in the house woke up and gathered around them. "Speak the truth. Who are you?" "Who are you?" "I am the owner of this house. Who are you?" "If we say the truth, are we safe in the name of God and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)?" "Yes, we guarantee your safety in the name of God and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)." "Are you bearing witness to God and the Prophet that we are safe?" "Yes, I bear witness to God and the Prophet that you are safe." "Now that you are telling us we are safe; we are from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)'s family, the sons of Muslim ibne Aqeel, who have escaped from the prison. "Oh, so you're the one's who have run away. I've been searching every nook and corner for you. Now I've laid my hands on you here on earth itself. Bring the rope and tie them. I wouldn't want the two thousand dirham slip through my fingers again." The old woman along with the children started crying, begging and pleading; all in vain.
At sunrise everybody woke up yawning and stretching. The children were tied shoulder to shoulder and taken to the river Euphrates (Furat) where they were made to sit on the riverbed. The children started sobbing pitifully. The three men from the previous night, including Harith were also standing there. Harith then ordered his slave, "Come at once and sever their heads!" The slave drew out his sword from its sheath, "Your command is honored master!" Hearing this the children began to tremble. Tied and kneeling they tried to move backwards. Ibrahim begged, "Oh slave! You very much resemble Bilal the Abyssinian (now Ethiopian) who was the mu'adhdhin of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). Bilal was like you black skinned but white hearted. He was never brutal or cruel to anybody. "Do you know Bilal?" "How wouldn't we know him? We are the Prophet (s.a.w.)'s family." "What did you say?" "Yes, in the name of God, we are the children of Muslim ibne Aqeel and grand children of Ameerul Mu'minin Ali (a.s.)."
When the slave realized what the children had said he started moving backwards. He screamed, threw away the sword and cried, "No, no. I'm shameful. Forgive me Lord. I will never soil my hands with the pure blood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)'s family." The slave at once jumped into the gushing water of the river Euphrates and swam until he reached the opposite side of the river. His master was horror-stricken at his slave's action. Harith then assigned the work to his son. "Now this is your job. If you accomplish this task, you will be esteemed by Ameer Ubaidullah." The young man pulls out his sword from its sheath and advances towards the children. The children continuously begged which moved the young man's heart. Like the slave, he threw his sword away and jumped into the river Euphrates, swimming his way across the river.
Harith was furious and while he took out his sword, his face reddened and his eyes bulged out in anger. He moved towards the children, while they trembled and repeatedly begged & spoke, "O Harith! Take us to the market and sell us, there you will fetch your price. Please for God's sake don't kill us. If you kill us you will antagonize Allah's messenger." "That is not possible. There is a reward of two thousand dirham on your heads. I will never fetch a price like that in the market. The reward is on your lives." "At least, think of the relation we have with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) And let us go." "You have no relation with Allah's messenger you two are just lying." Don't kill us. Just take us to Ubaidullah alive and then whatever he wishes to do with us, we will abide by it. No, that is impossible. I must kill you after which my standing in the eyes of Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad will enhance. "Then feel pity on our age." "Sorry, I have not been granted a compassionate heart." All right, at least give us the permission to say a two-rak'at prayer before killing us. "Fine, I will accept this condition of yours. If you think that your pain and grief will reduce by praying then so be it, of course with your hand tied."
The children stood up in prayer, their eyes welling with tears, sighing and lamenting. When they finished their prayers they raised their heads towards the sky and supplicated the following dua:
"Oh the Alive, O the Self Subsisting, O the forbearing One, O the Wise, O the Best Judge, you yourself makes the right judgment between this man and us."
Harith heard the dua and laughed in mockery. He charged towards the sobbing and trembling Ibrahim with his sword. Muhammad then said, "O Harith, my brother is younger than me and I am responsible for him. Therefore, it would be better if you killed me first." "Alright, it does not make any difference to me. Sooner or later I will have to finish my work. It appears to me you want to die first. I have no objection to that." Within a few minutes, Harith concluded his task. He severed the heads of the two children and threw their bodies in the river Euphrates where they flowed with the water. He cleansed the blood from the head and faces of the children and went on his way to meet Ubaidullah.
Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad was seated on his throne in his palace in kufah with an heirloom in his hand. People were seated on both sides of his throne. Harith was present too and with a single gesture of Ubaidullah he came forward and greeted him. From beneath his arms, Harith produced a bundle wrapped in cloth and place it on the table facing ibn Ziyad. He untied the knot and seeing the contents in the cloth the whole crowd stood baffled and dumbfounded. On catching sight of the two heads Ubaidullah rose from his throne and sat again repeating this act three times.
Ubaidullah regarded Harith and asked him, "While you were killing them did they say something to you?" "Yes, they begged me not to kill them for the Prophet (s.a.w.)'s sake, instead to sell them in the market or to bring them to you alive. They said they were only little children and that I should feel pity on them and set them free. But I told them that God did not grant me a soft heart. I granted just one wish of theirs. "Good and what was their wish?" "They wanted to pray two rak'at namaaz. I told them they could pray as much as they liked to ease their pain. I stood behind them listening and after their namaaz they started reciting a prayer. I heard them say "Oh Allah, you are the ever living; you make the judgment between this man and us." Ameer intervened, "Prayer? What prayer? What did the children say?" "Nothing important, oh ruler." Ubaidullah insisted, "Tell me what did they say." "Well they said, "O the Alive, O the self subsisting, O the Forbearing one, O the Wise, O the Best judge, you yourself make the right judgment between this man and us."
On hearing this Ubaidullah got up from his throne hitting the heirloom on Harith's head, "Incidentally, this prayer is very important because taking this name is very helpful and their prayers are surely answered." Ubaidullah ordered his executioner, "Oh Jallad, come here at once." A strong and powerful man came forward with large arms and a pink mask on his face. With a heavy sword he came swiftly to Ubaidullah bowing and saluting. "I am at your service, master." "Take this man to the same place where he killed the two children and kill him but make sure his dirty and contaminated blood does not mix or mingle with their pure blood. Now go!" Harith's face turned deathly pale and his body began to tremble and he cried and begged, "Oh Ameer, what wrong have I done? I thought I was doing all this to please you. Please have mercy on my wife and children." Ubaidullah answered, "Coincidently, I am an example of yourself. God has not placed an iota of mercy in my heart." Meanwhile Harith was dragged out of the palace by the executioner and a couple of other soldiers.
Before it was time for the Azan, Harith was beheaded and his head was kept on a sword and was moved around in the whole of Kufah. Little children pelted the head with stones shouting, "This is the head of the killer of the Prophet (s.a.w.) of Islam's offspring." For More Information Click Here