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The Companion of the Holy Prophet - Maitham al-Tammar

By: Kamal al-Syyed
Translated by: Jasim al-Alyawy


It was dawn. As usual, Maitham went to the date-palm trunk. He splashed it with water. The good ground sent out a sweat smell. Maitham said two Rikaas. Then he put his back against the date palm trunk.

Maitham had visited the date palm for more than twenty years. It had not been a mere dry trunk. It had been a tall date palm before twenty years.

Days, months, and years passed.

Maitham said two Rikaas near the date palm. Then he addressed it: "Allah has created you for me. And He has created me for you."

Maitham liked that date palm. He watered it when it was green.

One day, he came to the date palm. He found it a dry trunk. He cut the top of the trunk. That tall date palm became a mere short trunk. Still Maitham went on visiting that dry trunk.

Who was Maitham? What was the relationship between him and that date palm?

Maitham's Origin

Maitham was born at Nihrawan near Kufa. He belonged to Iran. A woman from bani Asad bought him. One day, Imam Ali (A.S.) bought and gave him his freedom. Maitham became free. He sold dates in Kufa Market.

Maitham lived a simple life. Two things grew in his heart: faith in Islam and love for Imam Ali (A.S.). Imam Ali (A.S.) taught him that Islam was the only way to freedom.

Imam Ali (A.S.) liked Maitham because he was a good man. The Imam went to Maitham's shop. He taught him about Islam.

The Real Name

Imam Ali (A.S.) bought Maitham from a woman belonged to bani-Asad. The Imam asked Maitham: "What is your name"?

"Saalim", he replied.

The Imam said: "Allah's Apostle (P.B.U.H.) has told me that the Iranians call you Maitham."

Maitham was astonished because no one knew his real name. So, he said: "Allah and His Apostle are truthful."

Since that day, Maitham had not left the Imam.

In the Desert

Whoever goes to the desert at night will see the sky full of stars. His heart will be afraid of Allah.

Imam Ali (A.S.) went to the desert at night to say his prayers. He took a friend of his to that desert to teach him a lesson about Islam.

Sometimes, Imam Ali (AS.) took Maitham to the desert. He told him about future matters. The Imam did not know the unseen. He learnt future matters from our master Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).

Maitham listened to Imam Ali's words. The Imam said his prayers. Maitham said them behind him. He listened with awe to the Imam's prayers.

At al-Tammar's Shop

Imam Ali (A.S.) went to the market to meet Maitham al Tammar. He sat and talked with him. Some people passed by them. They did not know the Imam. And some knew him. They were astonished to see the Imam sitting with a dates-seller.

One day Imam Ali (A.S.) went to the market. He sat with Maitham. After a while, Maitham wanted to go to by something. He asked the Imam's permission and went away.

The Imam stayed behind to sell dates. In the meantime, a man came to buy some dates for four dirhams. The man took the dates and went away.

Maitham came back. He was astonished to see the Dirhams because they were false. The Imam smiled and said: "The owner of the Dirhams will come back."

Again Maitham became astonished. He wondered: The man bought the dates by false Dirhams! How will he come back?

After an hour, the owner of the Dirhams came back. He said with annoy: "I do not want these dates! They are bitter! Why are they bitter"?

The Imam said: "Because your Dirhams are false."

The man was full of astonishment. He took the Dirhams and went away.

The Nation's Scholar

Maitham was a brilliant. He learnt his knowledge from Imam Ali (A.S.). One day he said to Abdullah bin Abbas, the nation scholar:

"Ask me whatever you want to know about the Koran explanation. I've learnt everything from Imam Ali (A.S.)."

So, bin Abbas sat before Maitham to learn lessons about the Quran's explanation.

Amru bin Huraith

Amru bin Huraith was a leader from Kufa. Maitham said to him: "I'll be your neighbour. Treat me kindly."

Amru said: "Do you want to buy bin Masoud's house or bin al-Hakim's"?

Maitham kept silent. Amru bin Huraith was puzzled. He wondered: What does Maitham mean?

Days and years passed. Unjust rulers succeeded each other over Kufa. They treated people rudely.

The Market

Zyyad bin Abeeh became a ruler over Kufa. He began killing Imam Ali's companions. He carried out Mu'awiyah's orders. Mu'awiyah was full of spite. He ordered people to abuse Imam Ali (A.S.).

The ruler appointed a man to look after the market. The man was unjust. The people complained of his bad treatment. The people were afraid of the man. Thus, they went to Maitham. They asked Maitham to go with them to the Prince. They said to him: "Maitham, come with us to the prince."

Maitham went with them. He met the Prince and told him about the rude treatment in the market. A policeman in the Palace was displeased with Maitham's words. He said to the Prince:

"Your Highness, the Prince, do you know this man?"

The Prince said: "No"

He's a liar! The supporter of the liar! said the policeman.

The policeman meant that Maitham was one of Imam Ali's companion.

Maitham said: "Surely, I'm truthful! I'm supporter of the truthful man. Really, he's Amirul-Momineen! (The Commander of the faithful)."

A Meeting on the Road

Habeeb bin Muzahir was a good companion. After our master Mohammed's demise, Habeeb had a close relationship with Imam Ali (A.S.).

One day, Maitham was riding a horse. Habeeb bin Muzahir was riding a horse, too. They met each other before bani-Asad. They had a short talk. Bani-Asad listened to their talk. Habeeb said with a smile:

"I predict that a bald man with a big belly will sell melons at Dar al-Rizk. The man will be killed for the love of his Prophet's family."

Maitham said: "I know that a red man with two plaits would appear. The man will support the son of the daughter of his Prophet. The man will be beheaded. His head will be carried through the streets of Kufa."

The two friends saw off each other. Bani Asad said: "They are liars."

In the meantime, Rasheed al-Hajry passed by bani-Asad. He asked them about Habeeb and Maitham. Bani-Asad said: "They have just gone away."

Then bani Asad told Rasheed about Habeeb and Maitham's predictions.

Rasheed said with a smile: "May Allah have mercy on Maitham. He's forgotten who brings the head will be given an extra hundred dirhams."

Rasheed went away. Bani Asad were astonished at his words. Then they said: "Rasheed is a liar too."

Days passed. In Muharram, 61 A.H., bani Asad saw Habeeb's head. It was tied to a long spear. They saw bin Zyyad's policeman carrying the head and walking through the streets of Kufa.

The Caravan

Mu'awiyah bin Abu-Sufyan died. His son Yazeed succeeded him. Yazeed was a young man aged thirty. He drank alcohol. He amused himself with dogs and the monkeys.

So, Imam Hussein (A.S.) refused to pay Yazeed homage. Meanwhile, the Kufians were tired of Mu'awiyah's persecution. Thus, they sent Imam Hussein (A.S.) many letters. In their letters, they asked the Imam to come to save them from Umayyad persecution.

The spies told Yazeed about the situation in Kufa. Yazeed had a spiteful Christian doctor called Sergon. He asked the advice of the doctor. Sergon advised him to appoint Ubaidullah bin Zyyad a ruler over Kufa.

The Prison

Many companions of Imam Ali (A.S.) supported Imam Hussein (A.S.). Many Muslims supported him too.

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad arrived in Kufa. He began arresting and imprisoning Imam Hussein's supporters.

Maitham, al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafy, and Abdullah bin al-Harith were in the same prison.

Imam Hussein (A.S.) died a martyr for Islam. The prisoners felt pain for him.

Al-Mukhtar said to his two friends: "Be ready to meet Allah! After Imam Hussein's killing, Ubaidullah bin Zyyad will kill the Imam's supporters."

Abdullah bin al-Harith said: "Yes, he will kill us sooner or later."

Maitham said: "No, he won't kill you. My dear Imam Ali (A.S.) has told me that you (al-Mukhtar) will get revenge of Imam Hussein's killers. And you will kick Ubaidullah's head with your foot."

Then Maitham said to Abdullah bin al-Harith: "You'll rule Basra."

Faith

Maitham deeply believed in Allah. He was not afraid of the unjust. People were afraid of bin Zyyad. They shook with fear when they saw him. But Maitham did not pay attention to him. He knew that Ubaidullah's death was certain. He knew that the unjust would not stay alive forever.

Mu'awiyah and his son Yazeed prevented people from loving Imam Ali (A.S.). The police arrested and killed the Imam's companions.

Imam Ali (A.S.) had told his companions about the Umayyad police. One day he said to Maitham: "The Umayyads will order you to disown me. Will you do that"?

Maitham said "No."

Maitham thought that to disown Imam Ali (A.S.) meant to disown Islam. And to disown Islam meant to disown Allah. The Imam said: "Surely, you'll be killed."

Maitham said: "I'll be patient! Death is little for Allah."

The Imam said: "You'll be with me in the Paradise."

The End

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad ordered the police to bring Maitham. He said to him: "I've heard that you're a companion of Ali's."

Maitham said: "Yes."

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad said to Maitham: "Will you disown him"?

Maitham said: "By Allah, Imam Ali (A.S.) has told me that you will kill me! He has told me that you will cut my hands, legs, and tongue."

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad angrily said: "Your Imam is a liar."

Maitham jeered at that foolish person (Ubaidullah bin Zyyad).

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad ordered the police to tie Maitham to the date palm trunk near the house of Amru bin Huraith. Besides, he ordered them to cut off his hands and legs.

The Neighbour

Maitham was tied to the date palm trunk.

Amru bin Huraith saw him. Amru remembered Maitham's words: "I'll be you neighbour. Treat me kindly."

So, Amru bin Huraith ordered one of his daughters to sweep the ground around the date palm trunk. He also ordered her to splash it with water.

A person looked at Maitham and said: "Disown Ali to save your soul."

Maitham said with a smile. "By Allah, this date palm has been created for me! And I've been created for it."

Thus, the people knew the secret of Maitham's visit to the date palm throughout the long years.

People!

Maitham addressed the people:

"People, If you want to hear some information about Ali bin Abu-Talib, then come to me."

The people crowded around Maitham. He began teaching them various kinds of knowledge.

The spies told Ubaidullah bin Zyyad about Maitham's words.

Ubaidullah bin Zyyad ordered a policeman to cut off Maitham's tongue.

Maitham said: "Amirul-Momineen has told me about that."

Then the policeman cut off Maitham's tongue. Another policeman stabbed him with a sword.

Thus this Mujahid's life put out as the candles did!

Maitham's Body

Maitham did a lot good for the people. The people loved him very much. They wanted to take Maitham's body to bury it, but the police strictly prevented them from approaching it.

One night, seven dates-sellers came. They saw the policeman burning a fire. Two of them sawed the trunk. The seven dates-sellers carried Maitham's body outside Kufa. They buried it at a known place. Then they came back home.

Six years passed. Al-Mukhtar announced his revolution in Kufa. His army met Ubaidullah's on Al-Khazir Riverbank.

Ibraheem al-Ashtar could behead Ubaidullah bin Zyyad.

Some fighters brought al-Mukhtar Ubaidullah's head. He stood up and kicked Ubaidullah's head. He remembered Maitham's words in the prison: "Al-Mukhtar, you'll get out of prison. You'll get revenge on Imam Hussein's killers."

Days passed. Imam Hussein's killers parished. People have cursed them throughout history.

Today, the visitor leaves the Holy Najaf City. He goes to see Kufa ruins. On the way he sees a beautiful dome. The dome decorates Maitham's shrine.