When I was trying to clean grime from history of Kufa and wanted to prove that there are hundreds of people from Kufa having enlightened faces in Kufan history then many forgotten and forgiven faces and characters of history came on surface. Attiya Aufi/Kufi is one of those explored enlightened faces and characters, which was consciously forgotten but forgiven by so called mainstream tradition of history. I explored Attiya Aufi during my research on journey of Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari (Died 78 H) to Karbala in Iraq to visit grave of Imam Hussain (R.A) in holy month of Safar-ul-Muzaffar. I was curious to know that why Jabir bin AbdullaH in very old age decided to go to Iraq from city of Madina and to pay tribute Imam Hussain (R.A) and why he choose the day of 20th Safar when 40 days had been completed of Martyrs in Karbala? I was reading travelogues of those people who were on their way to Karbala to pau tribute Imam and his comrades on Arbaeen( 40th day of Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (R.A). I wanted to hear from them something about Attiya Kufi/Aufi (Died 111 H). Attiya was first person and disciple of Jabir bin Abdullah who narrated whole story of journey of Jabir bin Abdullah because he was himself co-traveler of Jabir bin Abdullah. But some people just only mentioned his name while describing the journey of Jabir bin Abdullah to grave of Imam Hussain (R.A). We meet Attiya Aufi as true follower of Imams of House of Muhammad(Ahlebait) who says,
رايت عليا خير من وطىء الحصى واكرم خلق اللّه من بعد احمد
وصي رسول اللّه وابن عمه وفارسه المشهور في كل مشهد
تخيره الرحمن من خير اءسرة لاطهر مولود واطيب مولد
اذا نحن بايعنا عليا فحسبنا ببيعته بعد النبي محمد
When I started enquire into statements and commentary on Attiya Aufi by mainstream history writers of Muslim Arab history then I saw there same tendency to seek some lame excuses for their rejection, forgiven of all those personalities who were in camp of Imams of House of Muhammad. They made much effort to declare Attiya Aufi weak but they could not blame on him of lie. They called him “Weak in narrating saying of Muhammad ( صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم ) and reason in their eyes was his adherence to or bonding with camp of Imam Ali ( R.A). In their thoughts Attiya Aufi was waek because he was inclined to Shiite. Nobody should interpret here word of ‘Shiite’ into Rawāfiḍ as in our age Takfiri Deobandis and Salafis interpret it. Why mainstream Muslim historian called him Shiite? Renown Shafi’I scholar Allama Ibn-i-Hajar Asqalani quoted Al-Saji in his book Tahzeeb-ut-Tahzeeb:
كان يقدم عليا على الكل
His faith was that Ali is most superior among all followers of Muhammad PBUH.
This quote shows that Attiya Aufi in fact was among those people who always preferred Imam Ali in case of dignity, knowledge etc over all other companions R.A of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH. But Question is that was Attiya was only one who thought so? Attiya Aufi was not Sahabi means companion of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH but in fact he was Tabaie —- companion of companion of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH. There are many names of great companions of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH we find in books of history who were Preferentials تفضیلی like Ammar Yasir, Miqdad, Salman farsi. Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari himself a Preferential تفضیلی according to historian. We can understand why Attiya became forgiven but forgotten page of History. Another question is that why some mainstream historian could not reject him totally while calling him Liar کازب or کذّاب ? In my thought this was Muhammad Ibn Sa’ad ibn Mani Az Zuhree ( Died 230 H) who made this impossible for coming mainstream scholar while praising Attiya Aufi as:
و كان ثقة ان شاءاللّه، وله احاديث صالحة
He (Attiya Aufi ) was authentic and he narrated pious sayings from Hazrat Muhammad PBUH.
So courtier Muslim historian just called him weak narrator راوی and not called him liar or accused of lie متھم بالکذب . Every that scholar, researcher and narrator of history in the eyes of courtesan historians was weak and forgiven, rejected person due to his or her link with House of Muhammad PBUH particularly with Imam Ali (R.A), Attiya Aufi was also victim of courtesan tradition of history writing. Today on occasion of Arbaeen I like to show enlightened face of Attiya Aufi.
On 20th Safar second month of Islamic calendar when 40 days had been passed after tragedy of Karbala,This was renown old age companion of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH Jabir bin Abdullah (Died in 78 H) visited grave of Imam Hussain. This was age of governorship of Obaidullah bin Zayad and Camp of Imam Ali in Iraq was in great repression, oppression and restrictions. Those who dared to show their support, adherence, bonding with Imam Ali or Imam Hussain either sentenced of putting him into prison or directly killed. Every person who refused to declare Imam Hussain a rebellion of so called Islamic Caliphate was also state enemy and stern action was taken against such person. There was like a Martial Law situation in Iraq. There was still strict surveillance on Iraqi people. So in such condition journey of Jabir bin Abdullah has some special purpose and aim. Jabir bin Abdullah did not came alone to Karbala. His disciple Attiya Aufi was also along with him, who narrated this journey in detail.
Here it is very necessary to know about Attiya Aufi so that we can examine that process which paved way to transform event of visiting grave of Imam Hussain by Jabir bin Abdullah into a great event or ceremony of offering tribute Imam Hussain and their comrades called Arbaeen or Arbaeen-i-Karbala.
There are very rare young persons who know something about Attiya Aufi. And I have mentioned above that big reason which made Attiya Aufi a lost page of Muslim history. His complete name was Attiya bin Saad bin Junadah. His father was companion of Hazrat Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم and from tribe of Jadila and He رضی اللہ عنہ was first person from Ta’if who had accepted Islam. His father also close companion of Imam Ali-R.A. He went Iraq along with army of Imam Ali and fought War of Camel, Siffin, Neharwan along with Imam Ali. Attiya Aufi was born in last days of Caliphate period of Imam Ali-R.A. In books of Muslim history we find that father of Attiya came and informed Imam Ali about birth of his son and ask him to suggest a name for his newborn baby. Imam Ali called that baby a gift from God,and suggest name Attiya for him. So Attiya opened his eyes in a house of companion of Hazrat Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم and he was trained by that person who was very close to Imam Ali. After Imam Ali Attiya Aufi adopted company of Jabir bin Abdullah. Strange thing is that all historians and compilers of Ahadiths included him in disciples of Jabir bin Abdullah but did not tell us detail how he went Madina and joined study circle of Jabir bin Abdullah. My view is that when Moavia came in power after withdrawal of Imam Hassan then perhaps Attiya’s family dicied to quit Kufa and went Madina and there in Madina Attiya joined circle of disciples of Jabir bin Abdullah. Attiya got Knowledge of Islamic history,Tafseer, Hadith, Quran and others branches of Islamic Knowledge from Jabir Bin Abdullah and also from Abdullah bin Abbas. His Tafseer-i-Quran was published in three volumes from Kufa. History tells us that Attiya Aufi like his father have great faith in Imam ali and other Imams of House of Muhammad. He was very vocal in support of camp of Imam Ali in Iraq. This was his bonding with Imam Ali and his camp which forced historians from courts of Umayyad and Abbasid to declare his opinion or narration – روائت unacceptable in legal and faith matters while they wrote him ‘Weak’ – ضعیف . but not a single historian from primary sources dared to write him ‘liar’ or accused of lie- مھتم بالکذب. But Now-e-days we see Salafi or Deobandi historians or propagandists who not only reject Attiya Aufi but write him Rawfidi and thus distort personality of Attiya Aufi completely.They try to sideline Attiya Aufi and to make him less important or try to hide him from public in Muslim history. Wahhabi and Neo Deobandi camp funded by Saudis is running organized campaign against every that person who was in camp of Imam Ali in the days of Fitna. This camp never describe greatness of Jabir bin Abdullah and even avoids to mention of Jabir bin Abdullah. Saudi Camp spent its whole energy either to hide or to prove false the news of arrival of Jabir bin Abdullah along with Attiya at grave of Imam Hussain on 20th Safar. Salafi and Deobandi writers funded by Saudi Arabia in fact try to hide faces of real culprits involved in tragedy of Karbala and obfuscate identity of those people who committed heinous crimes against House of Muhammad while discrediting those personalities who honestly compiled Muslim history and never gave walkover to those culprits who killed thousands of people of Iraq just due to their love for Imam Ali and other members of House of Muhammad. Attiya Aufi is also victim of this false engineering made by Salafis and Deobandis. Modern Neo Deobandis and Salafis belong to Takfiri Fascism try to show events like Ashura or Procession of Milad and Arbaeen isolated from mainstream Islam and reject every tradition supporting these things.
Arrival of Jabir bin Abdullah at grave of Imam Hussain on 20th Safar,61 H was not such news easily ignored. Jabir bin Abdullah has very special status in Islamic society. He was very active in Madina after withdrawal of Imam Hussain in support of House of Muhammad and Imam Ali. He set up a study circle in Mosque of Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم and he roamed in streets of Madina city particularly he contacted to Ansar of Madina and asked them to educate their children for love and respect of Imam Ali and his family. That was the era in which Umayyad rulers have ordered their governors to force people to curse Imam Ali and his family. An organized campaign of character assassination of Imam Ali was in full swing not only in Hijaz but in Iraq and Syria also. To praise and to show love for Imams of House of Muhammad were unforgiveable crimes in eyes of Umayyads. Many Companions of Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم adopted silent path and they neither cursed Imam Ali and his family nor they stood against rulers of Umayyad. But Jabir bin Abdullah did not remain silent on this. He started a campaign for Imam Ali and his family. He started to narrate all those things which he had heard from Hazrat Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم in praise of Imam Ali, Imam Hassan, Imam hussain and others. When people ask him about Imam Ali then he says, Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم declared Imam Ali the best and most superior man among all companion of mine and if you deny this then you are not true Muslim. So we can say that Jabir bin Abdullah was prominent leader of camp of Imam Ali in Madina and Attiya Aufi was also in that camp. To visit grave of Imam Hussain and paying him tribute from Jabir bin Abdullah was act to discredit all those effort of cursing Imam Ali and his family made by rulers of Umayyads. Rulers of Umayyad also saw Attiya Aufi as very dangerous man for their rule. Great Sunni historian Muhammad bin Saad registered an incident in his famous book Tabqaat-ul-Kabeer:
خرج عطيّة مع ابن الأشعث على الحجّاج، فلمّا انهزم جيش بن الأشعث هرب عطيّة إلى فارس. فكتب الحجّاج إلى محمّد ابن القاسم الثقفي أن ادْعُ عطيّة فإن لعن عليّ بن أبي طالب وإلا فاضْرِبْه أربعمائة سوط واحْلق رأسه ولحيته. فدعاه فأقرأه كتابَ الحجّاج فأبَى عطيّة أن يفعل، فضربه أربعمائة وحلق رأسه ولحيته. فلمّا ولي قُتيبة خُراسان خرج عطيّة إليه فلم يزل بخراسان حتى ولي عمر بن هُبيرة العراق، فكتب إليه عطيّة يسأله الإذن له في القدوم فأذن له، فقدم الكوفة فلم يزل بها إلى أن توفّي سنة إحدى عشرة ومائة.
Attiya Aufi stood against Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf along with army of Al-Ash’ath ibn Qays, When army of Al-Ash’ath ibn Qays defeated then Attiya fled to Persia. al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf wrote a letter to his nephew Muhammad bin Qasim ( Yes, this is same Muhammad bin Qasim who is hero of Deobandis, Salafis and Jamat Islami Pakistan) and asked him to invite Atiyya Aufi and to order him to curse Imam Ali and if he would deny to do so then hit him four hundred sticks and saved his beard and head. Muhammad bin Qasim called Attiya and read letter of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf Attiya denied to curse Imam Ali and accepted 400 lashes and shaving his beard and head as punishment. When Qutayba ibn Abī Ṣāliḥ Muslim ibn ʿAmr al-Bāhilī became governor of Khurasan Attiya went there. When Umar ibn Hubayra al-Fazari became governor of Iraq, he allowed Attiya to come back Kufa. Atiyya came in Kufa and remained there till his death. So we can see that Attiya faced great hardship, exile and punishment of lashes due to just only his bonding with Imam Ali and his family. He denied to compromise and to adopt silent path. Keep in your mind that incident mentioned above is in very authentic book al-Tabaqat al-Kabir and this book was compiled by Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Sa‘d ibn Manī‘ al-Baṣrī al-Hāshimī(Died 230H) and he has great status in Sunni School of thought. This book is so important that Sunni scholars managed to write its various copies.
(وتظهر أهمية كتاب الطبقات في كونه حوى كثيراً من الفنون العلمية في شتى الميادين المتخصصة، مما أهّله ليكون مرجعاً أساسياً لدى العلماء والباحثين، فهو مرجع أساسي في سيرة المصطفى وغزواته، ومعرفة دلائل نبوّته وشمائله، وهو مرجع أساسي في معرفة السنن والآثار لاشتماله على كمّ هائل من أقوال الصحابة والتابعين- بالإضافة إلى الأحاديث-، وهو مرجع أساسي في معرفة تراجم الرواة وأحوالهم وأنسابهم، ومنزلتهم في ميزان الجرح والتعديل، هذا فضلاً عن كونه مرجعاً أصلياً في علم الطبقات. فهو كتاب ينهل منه المحدّث والفقيه والمفسّر والمؤرخ والنسّابة والواعظ والداعية، وغيرهم. ولأجل هذا وغيره فقد اهتم العلماء بكتاب الطبقات اهتماماً كبيراً)
So this was Attiya Aufi who was co-traveler of Jabir bin Abdullah and preserved whole narration of this journey. Attiya Aufi describes, “that I accompanied Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari for the pilgrimage to the grave of Imam Husayn (a.s.). When we entered Karbala, Jabir went towards the river Euphrates and performed bath. Then he wore his pants and placed a robe upon his shoulders, and then he opened a purse of Sa’ad (a perfume) and applied it upon his body. He then started glorifying Allah at each step until he reached the grave, then he told me, “Bond me to the grave”. I joined him to the grave and he fell down unconscious upon it. I sprinkled water upon him and he regained consciousness while repeating thrice “O Husayn”! Then he said, “Why does the friend not reply to his friend? How could he reply when the blood of his neck lies smeared upon his throat, while there is separation between his head and body? I bear witness that you are the son of the best of women. And why would it not be so, when you have been fed by the hands of the Master of the Prophets, and brought up in the laps of the pious, and have consumed milk from the breasts of faith and you weaned along with Islam. You died in chastity as you lived in chastity, while the hearts of the believers are aggrieved due to your separation and there is no doubt in your fruitful end. Thus peace of Allah and His Paradise upon you! I bear witness that you have treaded the path similar to your brother (Prophet) Yahya bin Zakariyyah”. Then he turned his eyes upon the grave and said, “Peace be upon the souls that descended near the grave of Husayn (a.s.) and sat their camels thereat! I bear witness that you established the Prayers and you gave the Zakat, and you invited towards virtue and forbade against evil, and you fought against the pagans and worshipped Allah until death approached you. By Him Who sent Muhammad (S) rightly as a Prophet, we are associated with you in the struggle of yours”.
Atiyyah says that hearing this I asked, “How are we associated with them? When we did not alight at any valley or mountain, nor did we raise the swords. While these martyrs gave away their heads and bodies and are now separated from their children, while their women have been widowed?”
Jabir replied, “O Atiyyah! I have heard my friend, the Prophet of Allah (S) say, that those who love some men, they shall arise along with them, while those who are pleased at the task of the nation, remains associated with them in their task. By Him Who sent Muhammad (S) rightly as a Prophet! My intention and those of my companions are similar to that of Husayn (a.s.). Now take me to the houses of Kufa”.
When we had paved a short distance, he said, “O Atiyyah! I recommend to you, and I do not perceive that I shall meet you again after this journey, befriend the friends of the Progeny of the Prophet (S), and how I befriend them! And bear enmity with the enemies of the Progeny of the Prophet who bear enmity with them, although they be one of those who fast and remain awake at night (in worship). Then be merciful towards the friends of the Progeny of Muhammad (S), for if one of their feet slips due to access sins, the other one will remain steadfast due to their affection. Their friends shall return back to Paradise and their enemies to hell”.
This is very important story which was told us by Attiya Aufi and this story built mythology of Arbaeen and now this event has become global event. For Shiite and Sunnis its important has religious meaning but for whole humanity this event is source of showing their solidarity for all oppressed people in the world.