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Martyrdom of Maytham Tammar

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One day, the Commander of the Faithful (PBUH) said to Maytham: “O Maytham! After my death, you will be arrested and hung on the gallows. On the second day, blood will flow from your nose and mouth, staining your countenance with blood. On the third day, a spear will pierce your body, thus releasing your soul. The place of your execution is next to a date tree, located near the house of ‘Amro ibn Hureeth.’ Your gallows will be shorter than all others, closer to the earth.”

 The Commander showed the tree to Maytham. After this, Maytham often visited the tree, saying prayers beside it. He murmured, saying: “What a blessed tree you are. I have been nurtured for you, and you have grown for me.”

Muawiya, along with his father, Abu Sufyan, converted to Islam during the “Conquest of Mecca” in the month of Ramadan of the eighth year of Hijri (21 years after the Prophet’s (PBUH) mission). Omar bin Khattab appointed him as the governor of Syria in the 18th year of Hijri, and he held this position until the end of the Caliphate and the death of Uthman.

 From then until his death in the month of Rajab in the year 60 Hijri, he ruled over a vast part of the Islamic territories for approximately 42 years. Muawiya’s power peaked towards the end of his life to such an extent that his invasions of some Islamic territories, like “Yemen,” led to the looting of property and the killing of Muslims during the Caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (PBUH).

When the Imam (PBUH) learned that Muawiya intended to attack the center of the Caliphate, “Kufa,” he wrote letters to him to prevent this. However, these letters and messages had no effect, and as a result, to prevent Muawiya’s attacks, the Imam (PBUH) set off with his army towards “Siffin” on the 25th of Shawwal in the year 36 Hijri.

The Battle of Siffin began on the morning of the first Thursday of the month of Safar in the year 37 Hijri and lasted for several months. Masudi states: “Thousands of people from Sham and the companions of Ali (PBUH), including hundreds who had fought alongside the Prophet (PBUH) in the Battle of Badr, were killed.”

Among the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) who were killed, one could mention Ammar Yasir, Abuhaitham Ansari, Owais Qarni, Hashem bin Utba Mirqal, and Khuzaima bin Thabit Ansari.

Muawiya survived this war, but his resentment did not subside. After the martyrdom of the Commander of the Faithful (PBUH) and the acceptance of the peace treaty by Imam Hassan Mujtaba (PBUH), he continued his disrespect towards Imam Ali (PBUH).

Abu Uthman Jahiz writes:

A group of people from Bani Umayyah said to Muawiya: “Now that you have achieved your goal, it would be good to stop insulting Ali (PBUH).”

Muawiya said: “No, by God, I will not stop until the children are raised in this manner and the elders grow old, and no one speaks of his virtues.”

In any case, Muawiya’s ambition and resentment to erase the traces of the Prophet (PBUH) and Ali (PBUH) reached a point where he issued a directive to all his administrators and governors:

“If you find evidence that someone loves Ali (PBUH) and his household, erase their name from the ledger, and cut off their rights and sustenance.”

In some letters, it is written: “Accuse him of being a lover of Ali and destroy his house!”

Maytham’s arrest

Imam Ali (PBUH) had foretold the future of Maytham Tammar; thus, in the last year of his life, he went to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah. After that, he went to Medina and met Umm Salamah, the esteemed wife of the Prophet (PBUH). He wanted to meet Imam Hussein bin Ali (PBUH), but His Holiness had gone to a distant palm grove around Medina. Therefore, he was unable to meet him. He only sent his greetings and a message saying that, at Allah’s request, they would soon meet in the presence of the Lord.

When Umm Salamah gave him oil and color to dye his hair, he said, “By Allah! There is no need for this color; soon they will dye my hair with my blood.”

When Maytham was returning from Medina to Kufa, Ubaidullah bin Ziyad sent a hundred-man army under the command of someone who knew Maytham to arrest him before he reached his city and home in Kufa. Ubaidullah bin Ziyad threatened this commander that if he did not arrest Maytham, he would kill him. This commander waited in “Hira”, or more accurately in “Qadisiyah”, until Maytham arrived there. Then, he arrested him, who was thin and had nothing left but skin and bones, with disrespect and violence he was taken to Ubaidullah bin Ziyad.

At this time, Kufa was in turmoil: The movement of Imam Hussein bin Ali (PBUH) from Mecca to Iraq had begun. Muslim bin Aqeel (the cousin, ambassador, and representative of Imam Hussein (PBUH)) and Hani bin Urwah had come to Kufa. Ubaidullah bin Ziyad had imprisoned a group of people. Some were in hiding. Some were preparing to welcome and assist Hussein (PBUH). Therefore, Ubaidullah, like a “fearful traitor”, was even afraid of the presence of a skinny old man like Maytham Tammar in Kufa, and for this reason, he arrested him in the desert before he entered the city.

Maytham’s court

Ubaidullah bin Ziyad imprisoned Maytham Tammar for a while. When they brought Maytham to Ubaidullah, someone said to him, “This man is one of the distinguished and chosen ones of Ali (PBUH).”

Ubaidullah said, “Woe to you. This Persian man has managed to achieve such a position and rank with Ali?!”

They said, “Yes.” Then Ubaidullah, intoxicated, intending to strike at Maytham’s morale, insultingly said to him, “Where is your lord to bring a wrongdoer like me to justice?!”

Maytham, with a world of faith and courage, replied:

“By the ambush for every oppressor; and you are one of them!” Ubaidullah, who had become very angry, said: “You, not being an Arab, have achieved this rank and position?! Truly! What news has your master given you about how I will treat you?!”

Maytham said: “My master has informed me that you will hang me at a certain point in Kufa. I will be the tenth person to be executed this way. You will cut off my hands, feet, and tongue, and I will be the first person in the history of Islam to have a gag put in my mouth.”

Ubaidullah said, “To prove your master’s words wrong, I will hang you. But…”. Maytham said, “How can you act contrary to my master’s words when he spoke through the Prophet (PBUH) and the Prophet, in turn, received his message from Allah through Gabriel?!”

Martyrdom on the gallows.

One day, Ali (PBUH), the Commander of the Faithful, said to Maytham:

“O Maytham! After my death, you will be arrested and hung on a gallows. On the second day, blood will flow from your nose and mouth, so much so that your beard will become colored with blood. On the third day, a spear will be thrust into your body, by which you will lose your life. The place of your execution will be beside a palm tree near the house of ‘Amr ibn Hurayth. Your gallows will be shorter than all others and closer to the ground.” He also pointed out the tree to Maytham.”

“If I have the chance, I would offer a thousand lives at your blessed feet.”

After that, Maytham often visited the tree and prayed beside it. He would whisper and say, “What a blessed tree you are. I was raised for you, and you grow for me.” One day, he saw ‘Amr ibn Hurayth and said, “I will soon be your neighbor. Fulfill the rights of neighborliness well.” ‘Amr replied, “Do you want to buy the house of Ibn Mas’ud or the house of Ibn Hakim?”

Maytham Tammar says, another day Imam Ali (PBUH) called me to his presence and said, “O Maytham! How will you feel when the son of Umayya, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, whose father is unknown, arrests you and demands you to disavow me?”

Maytham said, “By Allah! I will never disavow you.”

Imam (PBUH) said, “By Allah! He will hang you on the gallows and kill you.”

Maytham said, “Despite this, I will be patient and resist; because such torment and giving up one’s life in the way of Allah is very small and insignificant.”

Then Imam Ali (PBUH) said:

“O Maytham! Then you will be with me in my rank”; “O Maytham! Henceforth, you will be in Paradise alongside me.” From then on, Maytham would express the words of Ali (PBUH) to anyone he met, showing the place of his martyrdom and the solitary date palm tree by which he would give up his life. In doing so, he revealed the position and greatness of Imam Ali (PBUH) on one hand, and on the other, exposed the wickedness, worldliness, status-seeking, and depth of the crimes of those who claimed to be seekers of truth and servants of the people.

Obaidullah ibn Ziyad tried in every possible way to prevent the prophecy of Imam (PBUH) from coming true, in order to diminish his stature and truthfulness, as well as the devotion and obedience of his followers and supporters! Therefore, he ordered that the date palm tree, which Imam (PBUH) had shown as the gallows to Maytham and others, be cut down so that this sign would not remain. One of the carpenters bought the cut-down tree and divided it into four parts. When Maytham heard this news, he instructed his son, Saleh, to engrave the name of Maytham and his father’s name on a part of that tree trunk with an iron nail, as evidence of Ali’s (PBUH) truthfulness and Maytham’s prophecy.

The fated day arrived. Kufa, the city of fear and confusion, had not been more than a few days since the martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqeel and Hani bin Urwah. The Umayyad despots were resorting to all sorts of bloodshed and murder to suppress the chaos. The officials of Obaidullah ibn Ziyad brought Maytham out of prison and took him toward the outskirts of Kufa and the location where that tree stood. On one hand, it’s a heartbreaking and oppressive scene, and on the other hand, the greatness of faith and obedience of Imam Ali’s (PBUH) followers is on display.

When “Thabit Thaqafi” saw this scene, he said to Maythamm, “Why are you putting yourself through so much pain and hardship?!”

But Maytham, while smiling, pointed at that tree and said, “I swear by Allah! I was created for this tree, and this tree has grown for me.”

The time for testing and valor arrived. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) had said:

“A believer is more steadfast in his religion than the immovable mountains…”.

The gallows were firmly erected on the ground, and the executioners of Obaidullah ibn Ziyad tied the noble Maytham from the top of it with a rope. Amro bin Hareth, who now understood what Maytham meant when he said, “I will become your neighbor, so be a good neighbor,” ordered his maid to sweep beneath the gallows, sprinkle water, and spread a pleasant fragrance!.

In any case, just as Imam Ali (PBUH) had said and Maytham himself had repeatedly reiterated, the ruthless and brutal Umayyad officials, with utmost shamelessness and violence, tied Maytham from the top of the gallows with a rope, and in front of a large crowd, amputated his hands and feet.

Blood was pouring from Maytham’s severed hands and feet, and the onlookers, both supporters and opponents, were watching the scene. But Maytham cried out loudly, “O people! Don’t you want to hear the secrets that my master Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) taught me until the Day of Resurrection?” The people drew closer to listen to Ali’s virtues. The officials, for the first time in the history of Islam, gagged Meesam!

Amro bin Hareth, the hypocrite, when he came out of his house and saw a huge crowd and heard Maytham’s fiery and faithful words, hurriedly reported to Obaidullah ibn Ziyad in the governor’s house that Maytham was stating Ali’s virtues. If these words continue, the people of Kufa will rise up against the Emir.

Then Obaidullah told his guard who was standing above him, “Go cut off Maytham’s tongue as well.” When the officer went to Maytham to carry out Obaidullah’s order, Maytham declared his readiness and said, “Did you see that the son of the impure woman wanted to deny the claim of me and my master Ali (PBUH), and couldn’t?!”

Anyway, the bloodthirsty Umayyads cut off Maytham’s tongue. While he was hanging on the gallows, thick blood was flowing from his nose and mouth, just as Imam Ali (PBUH) had predicted. On the third day, while he was dying, one of the ruthless Umayyad officers hit him in the side with a spear and said, “I swear to Allah, you fasted during the days and worshipped during the nights,” and Maytham, saying “Allahu Akbar,” gave up his soul on top of the gallows.

Maytham Tammar’s Burial

 Maytham Tammar was martyred on those very gallows. Saleh, his son, says:

“A few days after my father’s martyrdom, I visited those gallows. I saw it was the same piece of date palm trunk that I had inscribed and marked his name on with a nail by his order.”

According to narratives, the martyrdom of Maytham Tammar took place ten days before the arrival of Hussein ibn Ali (PBUH) in Karbala (on the 2nd of Muharram in 60 AH) and eighteen days before the martyrdom of that great Imam, i.e., on the 22nd of Dhu al-Hijjah in 60 AH. Based on historical evidence, Maytham’s age can be estimated at about 63.

Indeed, Maytham’s wounded body was still hanging from the gallows, and people, fearing the officials of Obaidullah ibn Ziyad, who even feared the lifeless body of Maytham and kept it under surveillance, did not dare to approach it. Then the night came. Seven of Maytham’s colleagues, i.e., the brave date sellers who could not bear this heartbreaking scene, decided to take down the body.

They devised a plan to light a fire nearby to create a distance between the gallows and the guards. Then, with shrewdness and haste, they removed the body from the gallows and buried it in the “Bani Murad” neighborhood, in a small river where there was a little running water, and let the water flow over it to protect it from the harassment of the Umayyad officials, and threw the gallows into a ruin.

When the darkness of the night retreated and the weather cleared, the officials realized there was no sign of the body. They searched everywhere but found no trace of it. They then gave up and left.

Maytham Tammar gave his life under such circumstances and attained the lofty status of martyrdom with utmost dignity. Some sources also state that the brave wife of Maytham Tammar, on one of the nights, covertly transferred the bodies of Muslim Ibn Aqeel, Hani, Hanzala bin Marrah, and Maytham Tammar (peace be upon them) to her home.

 In the middle of the night, she buried them away from the prying eyes of Ibn Ziyad’s henchmen, next to the Grand Mosque of Kufa, and no one became aware of this event, except for Hani bin Urwa’s wife, who was her neighbor.

If this narration is correct, it is understood that the bodies were taken down from the gallows at night and each was buried in a different place so they could not be identified.

References:

[1] The Prophetic Biography, vol. 4, p. 45; History of the Prophet of Islam, p. 568.

[2] The Prophetic Biography, vol. 4, p. 45; History of the Caliphs, p. 196.

[3] Nasikh al-Tawarikh Khulafa, vol. 2, p. 283.

[4] History of the Caliphs, p. 156.

[5] The Prophetic Biography, vol. 4, p. 45.

[6] Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, pp. 352 and 394; Refer to Imam Hussein (PBUH) and Ashuraeans, pp. 135-139.

[7] Ibid.

[8] The Manifestation of Imamate, an Analysis of the Government of Ali (PBUH), Seyyed Asghar Nazemzadeh Qomi, pp. 56 and 57.

[9] Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, p. 411; Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 4, p. 57.

[10] Al-Ghadeer, vol. 11, p. 29.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, pp. 124 and 125; Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 292; Safinat al-Bihar, vol. 4, p. 338.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Some have thought “Arif” was a personal name, while this word is a title for a military expert or official. See: Al-Munjid, p. 500.

[15] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, p. 125.

[16] The admission of Meesam being an Ajami could confirm the claim of his Iranian origin.

[17] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 293; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 42, p. 125.

[18] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 292; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 42, p. 124.

[19] Saadi’s Collection, p. 528.

[20] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 292; Nafas al-Mahmoom, p. 61.

[21] Divan of Hafez, p. 237. The word “Shah” was changed to “Agha”.

[22] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, p. 126; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 42, p. 130.

[23] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, pp. 124 and 127.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Safinat al-Bihar, vol. 1, p. 100.

[26] Saadi’s Gulistan, p. 240.

[27] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 293. It should be noted that Amro bin Harith was a hypocritical character who did this for a social ceremony or to please the Umayyads.

[28] Divan of Hafez, p. 101.

[29] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, p. 128.

[30] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 294; Muntahe al-Amal, vol. 1, p. 254; Nafas al-Mahmoom, p. 61; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 41, p. 345.

[31] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, p. 127; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 42, p. 133.

[32] Explanation of Nahj al-Balagha, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 2, p. 294; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 41, p. 345; Muntahe al-Amal, vol. 1, p. 254.

[33] Bahjat al-Amal, vol. 7, p. 126; Nafas al-Mahmoom, p. 62.

[34] Divan of Hafez, p. 147.

[35] The Story of Friends, Mohammadi Eshtehardi, pp. 5-7.

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