Islamic History Podcast 3-5: Husayn And Zubayr

Islamic History Podcast 3-5: Husayn And Zubayr

البصرة ثمان وخمسون سنة هجرية

Basrah, 58 AH

Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad stood among the spectators watching the racehorses line up. He had placed a small wager on one of them and hoped it would win.

Four years earlier, Ubaydullah had gone to Damascus, begging Muawiyyah for a government position. At first Muawiyyah hesitated, but eventually, he relented.

His first assignment was as governor of Khurasan, a remote sub-district of Basra.

Ubaydullah performed well and eventually Muawiyyah promoted him to governor of Basra.

On this day, the governor did not notice the group of men approaching him until the captain of his Shurta pointed them out.

“Oh tyrant!” one of the men yelled. “You are like the people of ignorance who came before us!”

The man was looking directly at Ubaydullah, while his friends looked around warily.

“You build monuments to yourself and live in huge palaces. Do you think they’ll make you live forever?”

“Urwah, are you crazy?” the man’s friends asked him. “Don’t you know Ibn Ziyad will kill you?”

“I’m not afraid of Ubaydullah, Son of the Bastard.”

Hearing his father insulted made the rage boil deep down inside of Ubaydullah.

But instead of lashing out, Ubaydullah channeled his father, and swallowed his rage. Then he silently left the race.

That evening, he sent his shurta to arrest Urwah but the man had already fled to Kufah.

Ubaydullah sent one of his fastest messengers to Kufah with a letter warning the governor that Urwah was a Kharijite and should be sent back to Basra if apprehended.

Barely a week later, Urwah was dragged before Ubaydullah.

“Anything to say now,” the governor asked.

Urwah’s face was covered in bruises. He had not come willingly.

“I think”, he said through bloodied lips, “that you have ruined this world for me.”

“Not yet,” said Ubaydullah turning to his captain. “Cut off this rebel’s hands and feet.”

There was a flurry of activity as Urwah frantically fought against his chains. Six, seven, eight Shurta rushed to hold him as he swung in every direction.

They wrestled Urwah to the ground, pinning him down, two men to a limb.

Ubaydullah’s captain unsheathed his sword and went from limb to limb, hacking off Urwah’s hands and feet with practiced precision.  Urwah screamed as the sword crunched through his flesh and bone and tendon. The air filled with the smell of roasting flesh as his bloody stumps were cauterized.

When it was all done, Urwah writhed on the bloody ground, his screams turning to pitiful moans.

“Now,” said Ubaydullah, “anything else to say?”

“I think,” Urwah choked painfully, “that you have ruined the next world for yourself.”

“Defiant to the end,” sighed Ubaydullah in disgust. “Bring in the girl.”

A young woman, no more than fourteen years old was hauled in. She screamed when she saw Urwah on the floor and tried to rush to his side, but the Shurta held her back.

“When you rebel against the regime,” bellowed Ubaydullah, not bothering to swallow his rage this time, “you bring ruin to yourself and your family! Kill them both!”

Urwah and his daughter were dragged away, and Ubaydullah smiled softly to himself.

His father would be proud.

Show Notes

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