Born and His Family
The early education of Shaheed e Awwal was under the tutelage of his father at Jabl Amil.
Emigration to Hillah
Then he headed for Hilla, which was the fifth important center of Shialearning after Madina, Koofa, Qom and Baghdad. At the time of the invasion of Baghdad by Halaku Khan, the Shia clergy, and most of their followers, moved to the small town of Hilla, and thus it became the fifth important center of Shia learning. During the time of Shaheed e Awwal it was the most important center for Shia learning. Therefore, Hilla was his first choice for going to further his studies with Allama Hilli. He joined the school of the Allama, and after attending it for a day, he decided to go to Najaf, Karbala and Samarra for Ziarat and resume his studies after returning. When he was returning to Hilla he had the thought that he would be receiving instruction from the mentor of the caliber of Allama Hilli. While he was entering the ramparts of Hilla he saw a big procession carrying a cortege. When it came near him, to his shock, he learnt that Allama Hilli had expired and his mortal remains were being carried to Najaf e Ashraf for burial. He joined the procession with a sad heart. He returned back to Hilla and pursued his studies under Fakhr al Mohaqqaqeen, the erudite son of Allama
Hilli. Fakhr al Mohaqqaqqeen was the scholar who became a Mujtahid at the young age of 9 years.
Why Shaheed E Awwal Is Called So
Persecution of the Shias continued during the entire rule of the Abbasids. But when Halaku invaded Baghdad and demolished the central administration of theAbbasids, smaller principalities sprang up in the Islamic Realm. This provided opportunity for the Shias to move from places ruled by tyrannical rulers to those controlled by milder persons. With the fall of the Abbasid rule the period of our Ulema e Mutakhareen commenced. In this period the persecution of the Ulemaagain reached its zenith. I would like to put forth to you why Abu Abd Allah Shams ud Deen Mohammed has been given the title of Shaheed e Awwal? Ever since the timesa of the Prophet (s.a) there have been martyrs and Shaheed e Awwal lived hundreds of years thereafter. In fact, because of the efforts of Allama Hilli, and the conversion of King Khuda Banda to the faith of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) there was a period of comparative tranquility for the Shias. But this period was short and with the commencement of the period of the Ulema e Mutakhareen, another period of persecution was set into motion. Shaheed e Awwal was the first prominent scholar who was martyred in that period. Allama Amini has written a book “Shohada e Fazilat” in which he has profiled the prominent martyrs in the annals of Shiahistory. Sayed Zeeshan Hyder Jawadi has translated the book into Urdu with the title of “Shohada e Iman”.
On Thursday, 9th jamadi al Awwal, 786 H Shaheed e Awwal was martyred. The scholars differ about his punishment. The author of Qasas al Ulema says that the verdict pronounced that his two legs were to be tied to two camels and they were to be driven in the opposite direction. Thus his body was sundered into two. But Qazi Noor Ullah Shustri Shaheed e Salith writes in his book, Majalis al Momineen, that while he was being taken for the execution he had a paper and pen in his hand. On that piece of paper he wrote, “I am now surrounded by my enemies, please help me!” Then he threw the paper in the wind. When the paper fell down to the ground, on the back of it was found written, “Be patient if you are Allah’s Creature!” A divine message coming in his name is sufficient to prove his greatness. Shaheed e Awwal was being taken for execution. If it was an ordinary crime, the execution would have been with a sword. But it was the result of the hate and enmity of the clerics that he was awarded the most heinous punishment. When his body was rolling restlessly it was also hanged on a tree. Normally a criminal is given a decent burial after execution.. But his body was kept hanging on a tree till the evening and then it was taken down, stoned and arrows were showered on it. Around the time of Maghrib the cadaver was put to flame.
What Was the Reason of His Martyrdom?
Shaheed e Awwal started his work with missionary zeal. People from all the sects visited him with their problems and returned from him with full satisfaction. His name and fame reached far and wide. The Ulema in the city started envying him. They felt that one person had arrived and overshadowed allof them. Ibad ibnal Jimaadthought that he was the cleric of the Shafaee sect but the followers of the sect went to Shaheed e Awwal to seek solutions for their problems. Burhan ud deen Maliki, who was the Chief Qazi of Damascus , and the leading scholar of his sect felt that his followers too went to Shaheed e Awwal to find their solutions. On the other hand the Sultan of Khorasan started corresponding with Shaheed e Awwal and sent valuable gifts to him. The rulers of Syria too felt that Shaheed e Awwalmight bring a revolutionary change in the thinking of the people as was done earlier by Allama Hilli in Iran. The clerics of the different sects joined hands to remove this thorn from their necks. At that time there was a person, Al Yadoosh, who was earlier a follower of the Progeny of Mohammed (s.a), but he had turned an apostate and adopted strange beliefs. He started his own sect but was executed by the ruler terming him an apostate. He had a group of 70 followers who too wereShias in their earlier days.
The rulers, with the help of the 70 apostates, got a document prepared and all the 70 signed it saying that they were all the followers of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) but they bore witness that Shaheed e Awwal considered the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) as gods and also that he had been deriding and lampooning the enemies of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) who were held in high respect by the ruling clique. About 1,000 prsons from different sects signed the document to witness the canard. The Qazi of Bahrood sent the false document to Damascus. Shaheed e Awwal was in Damascus at that time and the Shafaee scholar, Ibad ibn al Jimaad, too was in Damascus. He was against Shaheed e Awwal since the early days. when they were both studying at the same seminary. He cunningly sent the petition to the Maliki Scholar and Chief Qazi, Burhan ud deen Maliki for his signature and verdict. One incident had taken place a few days earlier that had angered Ibn e Jumaad against Shaheed e Awwal. Ibn e Jumaad called on him one day. Shaheed e Awwal was sitting on his desk and writing something. Simultaneously they continued to talk. Generally when scholars met, they discussed some topics of mutual interest. Ibn e Jumaad made a pun on Shaheed e Awwal saying that he was hearing a voice from behind the pen but no person was visible there! He meant it as a pun on the Shaheed e Awwal meaning that he was so lean and thin that he was almost invisible! Shaheed e Awwalimmediately retorted saying that Ibn e Jumaad meant a son of many men and across the table was only a person who was ibn e Wahid the son of one man! This retort angered Ibn e Jumaad and he departed without uttering a single word.. Within a few days Ibn e Jumaad got the petition prepared and forwarded to Burhan ud Deen, the Qazi, a ttesting his own signature and asked him to immediately pass the verdict. Shaheed e Awwal was then arrested and brought to the court. The petition and the verdict were read to him that he was to be executed because he was an apostate. He asked how a verdict could be passed without hearing the accused person? He asked the court to permit him to argue his case with the witnesses. The Qazi said that the verdict was passed and it was to be executed. Shaheed e Awwal suddenly turned towards Ibn al Jimaad and said, “I am a follower of the Shafaee Fiqh and there is no capital punishment in this faith! Since you are aShafaee cleric and Qazi, you must pass the verdict” Ibn al Jimaad couldn’t do anything but say that since the person has professed to Shafaee Faith, he could only be put in jail for one year which is the punishment prescribed in his Fiqh for a Murtid and he must be asked to express repentance of his apostasy. Shaheed e Awwal asked what wrong he had done to express repentance for that? In our Shariah it is permissible to do Tauba to save oneself. But he knew that he wasn’t talking to men of piety. If he confessed to apostacy, they would certainly execute him. Then the Shaheed e Awwal was put into jail for one year. While he was in the jail the clerics used to visit him for discussions and advice.
During the period of his incarceration he received a letter from the king of Khorasan to go over there and take charge of the administration as the Naib e Imam. He expressed his inability but promised to write a book that would help the king to administer his realm according to the norms of Shariah. He wrote the famous book “Lam-aa” within a short period of seven days. It is a miracle that in the jail he didn’t have access to any books of reference and he wrote everything from his memory. Another miracle was that during those seven days none of the clerics visited him. If anyone had detected that he was writing a book, they would have confiscated the manuscript from him. He sent the book to the King of Khorasan with a very dependable person. The person carried the book with more care than he would carry his own life. On the way when he met the followers of the Infallibles (a.s) they wanted to get the book from him. He told them that it was a trust with him and he had to reach it to the destination. The persons however copied a few pages at each stop and a collection of those copies forms that book that is with us even now. After one year had elapsed they forced him to confess to apostasy that they release him according to the Shafaee Fiqh. When they forced him very much, he had to acquiesce to their request. Now Burhan ud Deen Maliki said that since he had confessed to apostasy, he must be executed.
1)Al Luma’a Ad Dimashqiyyah which contains all fiqh Rules . All Mujtahids even today must study this to become Mujtahid. This book was written miraculously, in a span of one week only, when he was in prison., without having access to any other books (i.e. out of memory)
6)Al Alfiyyah (containing 1000 wajibat of salat)
7)Al Nafaleyah (containing 3000 Mustahabat of Salat)