Qanbar and Hajjaj

Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi, the governor of ‘Abdul Malik bin Marwan in Iraq, was a tyrant who used to boast that, “The most tasteful thing to me in the world is shedding the blood.” His name has become a proverb in tyranny. He killed 120,000 people whose only crime was their love for and devotion to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and the Ahlul Bayt. This number does not include those who were killed by him in the battles. He tried very hard to eliminate the Shi’ahs of ‘Ali from Iraq. Sa’id bin Jubayr and Kumayl bin Ziyad were two of his victims.
Once Hajjaj asked, “Is there anybody left from the followers of Abu Turab [i.e., ‘Ali] so that I may please Allah by killing him?” He was told that there was Qambar, his slave.
So Qambar, then a very old man, was captured and brought to him. Then the following talk took place between Hajjaj and Qambar:
Hajjaj: “Are you the slave of ‘Ali?”
Qambar: “Allah is my Master and ‘Ali is my benefactor.”
Hajjaj: “What was your duty in the service of ‘Ali.”
Qambar: “I used to bring water for his ablution (wuzu).”
Hajjaj: “What was ‘Ali reciting after finishing the wuzu?”
Qambar: “He used to recite this verse: ‘And when they forgot that which they had been admonished, He opened for them the door of all things (of enjoyment); until when they rejoiced in what they were given, we caught them suddenly, when, lo! They were in utter despair.”[6:44]”
Hajjaj: “I suppose he meant us to be included in this verse?”
Qambar: “Yes.”
Hajjaj: “You better leave the religion of ‘Ali.”
Qambar: “Before I leave his religion, tell me which religion is better than his.”
Hajjaj: “What will you do if I cut your head?”
Qambar: “Then it will be good luck for me and bad luck for you.”
In another tradition, this last question and answer have been recorded differently:
Hajjaj: “I surely intend to kill you. You better choose your own method of death.”
Qambar: “It is up to you. Kill me in whatever way you like, because I kill you in the same way on the Day of Judgment. And, as a matter of fact, my master had told me that you would behead me.”
Hajjaj ordered him to be beheaded. Qambar was martyred in the cause of his faith. Today his grave in Baghdad is the place of pilgrimage for thousands of pilgrims.

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