SCENE 2: KUFA, House of Taw'ah, a couple other houses, Palace of Ibn Ziyad with stairs leading to rooftop

 

Click here to listen to the sound clip to be played at the beginning of Scene 2 (nighttime desert sounds)

 

(Muslim walks down the street and knocks on a door)

 

Muslim: Assalaamu alaikum! Is anyone there?

 

Kufan 2: (offstage) Go away!

 

Muslim: (Goes onto next door and knocks) Peace be upon you!

 

Kufan 1: (offstage) We don't wanna be disturbed.

 

Muslim: I only want a place to stay.

 

Kufan 1: (offstage) Leave us alone, we don't want your type here.

 

(Muslim walks on)

 

Muslim: Only yesterday, they were treating me like their guest. (sees an old lady standing outside) Assalaamu alaikum, khalah.

 

Taw'ah: Wa alaikum assalaam, servant of Allah. Can I help you?

 

Muslim: Could you spare a cup of water in this desert?

 

Taw'ah: Of course (Reaches down, pours some water from a container or jug, and gives it to him. )

 

Muslim: Thank you. (He drinks but does not leave)

 

Taw'ah: Times are harsh, young man. You'd better be getting on your way. Your wife and children must be worried sick about you.

 

Muslim: My wife and children are far away. I have no one in this city, not even a friend. These people dragged me here and then left me by myself.

 

Taw'ah: Really? Who are you?

 

Muslim: I am the "traitor". I am the "criminal". I am the "fugitive". I am Muslim ibn Aqeel.

 

Taw'ah: (peers at him) Muslim! Is it really you?

 

Muslim: Yes. I am the one whose association is punishable by death. I came to prepare the people to revolt against the long hand of Yazid, and now I stand here, betrayed.

 

Taw'ah: Quick, come inside! (Muslim enters house, where Son of Taw'ah is sitting on the ground, at some partially eaten food) I feel so terrible about what happened, Muslim. If it means anything to you, me and my son are still with you. (looks to Son) Right, son?

 

Son of Taw'ah: (looking away - he's lying) Right.

 

Muslim: It means a lot to me, khalah. One friend is better than none.

 

Son of Taw'ah: (rising) I'll be back.

 

Taw'ah: Wait! Where are you going? Son? Son?

 

Muslim: Don't worry about him. He'll be fine.

 

Taw'ah: He does worry me. The soldiers are everywhere these days.

 

(Guard comes onstage, looking around for something. He is accompanied by soldiers. Son goes to meet him and they have an inaudible conversation pointing at the house. The guard hands him a small bag of coins, which he ties to his belt)

 

Guard: What way did he go?

 

Son of Taw’ah: (pointing) That way.

 

(Muslim and Taw'ah can't hear the conversation)

 

Taw'ah: What can I do to help you?

 

Muslim: You've done more than enough. I'm already in your debt.

 

Taw'ah: Stay in our house tonight. It's not safe for you outside.

 

Muslim: Are you sure? They've put out a big reward for me. I don't want you to get hurt. Times being what they are--

 

Guard: This one, here? (Bangs on Kufan 2's door)

 

Kufan 2: Salaam (offstage)

 

Taw'ah: We'll be fine. No one knows you're here, except for my son. He wouldn't tell anyone-- (they suddenly hear what's going on)

 

Son of Taw'ah: Not that one!

 

Guard: Which house?

Son of Taw’ah: Over there, the small one!

 

Taw'ah: -- would he?

 

(Taw'ah and Muslim look at each other nervously)

 

Taw'ah: That ungrateful child! Curse him! Hide! (goes to door as Muslim steps behind something) Who's there?

 

Guard: Messenger of the State. Open up!

 

(Taw'ah draws hijab tight around face and opens door)

 

Guard: (Turns to Son. Son nods) All right! Who're you hiding in there?

Taw'ah: (Shaking; nervous) Hiding? Me? No one--

 

Son of Taw'ah: He's here, keep looking.

 

(Guard steps inside, clutching sword hilt)

 

Taw'ah: (gasps) (to Son) How could you? He was our guest!

 

Son of Taw’ah: I – I- it’s for the khalifah, we have to do it for Yazid.

 

(Taw'ah's eyes fall on the bag of money tied to her son's belt)

 

Taw’ah: You are no son of mine!

 

Son of Taw’ah: Mother, please!

 

(Taw’ah turns away)

 

Guard: Tell me where he is, now!

 

(Muslim steps out. Guard gapes)

 

Muslim: Stay away from her. (Guard steps back) (to Taw'ah) I thank you for your generosity and goodwill, khalah. I would not repay it by spilling blood in your own house.

 

Taw'ah: I'm so sorry.

 

Muslim: You did what you could. It was not in vain. I can see that the Prophet will intercede for you on the Last Day, for I am close to death.

 

Taw'ah: No...

 

Muslim: Yesterday, I saw my martyred uncle, Amir Al-Mu'mineen, in a dream. He told me that I would join him the next day. Since then, it has only been a matter of time.

 

Taw'ah: Subhanallah.

 

Muslim: I implore you, good lady, remember your Imam.

 

(Muslim rushes outside)

 

Guard: Get him! Now!

 

Fellow Soldier: Are you crazy? We can't fight him! (Uneasy Soldier attacks and Muslim kills him) He's no ordinary man!

 

Guard: Reinforcements! (Soldiers rush onto stage and attack) Get him from behind! That way! Hold him down! (Muslim is subdued and a guard ties his hands up) You -- you're gonna have a talk with your governor. (drags him along)

 

Muslim: My Imam! Hear what I am saying! Leave this place! Do not come here!

Guard: (hitting him with sword hilt) Stop that racket!

 

Muslim: My Imam...(hit again)

 

(Muslim is led in front of palace where Ibn Ziyad is seated. Town crier is next to him. All fall silent. Guards drop to their knees)

 

Guard: All hail, great leader.

 

Town Crier: All hail His Eminence Ibn Ziyad. (takes a couple steps towards Muslim) Greet your leader

 

Muslim: He is not my leader.

 

(Motions to Guard who puts his sword to Muslim's neck)

 

Town Crier: Greet your leader.

 

Muslim: Peace be upon those who followed the right guidance.

 

Ibn Ziyad: Leave him. (Guard drops sword) Whether he greets me or not, he will still be killed.

 

Muslim: People worse than you have killed people better than me.

 

Ibn Ziyad: Listen to him now! He insults the khalifah! You, Muslim ibn Aqil, have been tried and convicted of inciting the masses, spreading disunity, and treason to the State.

 

Muslim: Is that so? Then you should die, for you are the one who has betrayed the command of the Prophet!

 

Ibn Sa’d: (clutches sword hilt, clenches face, and turns red in anger) (not too loudly) Insolent man…

 

Muslim: God, grant me the gift of being martyred by the worst of Your creation.

 

Ibn Ziyad: Get him out of here!

 

(Guard pushes him upstairs with sword pointed to his back)

 

Muslim: (quietly, dhikr as he is being led) Subhanallah wal hamdulillah wa laa ilaaha illa allahu wa allahu akbar.

 

(They reach the top)

 

Muslim: Wait! Grant me one last request!

 

Ibn Ziyad: Spare us the pleas for your life.

 

Muslim: Ha! (a response to indicate "never") My request is for another.

 

Ibn Ziyad: In that case -- (to Town Crier) This should be worth hearing -- Tell us what you want.

 

Muslim: Tell my master Husain that his people have turned against him. Tell him to go back to Madinah. Tell him--

 

Ibn Ziyad: Get rid of him, NOW!

 

Muslim: (quietly, dhikr) Subhanallah wal hamdu lillah wa laa ilaaha illa allahu wa allahu akbar. O Allah! Judge between us and the people who lied to us, deceived us, and betrayed us.

 

(Guard pushes Muslim off of the rooftop)

 

Muslim: (calling out) Assalaamu alaika ya aba 'Abdillah...

 

Guard: He's gone!

 

(A loud crash, and silence. Town Crier nods to Ibn Ziyad. Ibn Sa'd makes a fist and shakes it. Lights out)