Meesam-e-Tammar was a slave belonging to a woman of Bani Asad. Imam Ali (as) purchased this slave from the woman and set him free in the way of Allah (SWT). He used to sell dates in Kufa Market and on this account he was known as Meesam-e-Tammar.
Imam Ali (as) asked Meesam: “What is your name”? “Saalim”, he replied. Imam Ali (as) said: “Prophet Muhammad (saw) has told me that the Iranians call you Meesam.” Meesam was astonished because no one knew his real name. So, he said: “Allah (SWT) and His prophet are truthful.” Since that day, Meesam had not left Imam Ali (as).
Meesam was one of the distinct and favorite companions of the Commander of the faithful Imam Ali (a.s.), rather he, Umro bin Humaq, Mohammad bin Abu Bakr and Oways Qarani were among his disciples. Keeping in mind their merit and worthiness, Imam Ali (a.s.) had trained them with concealed knowledge and mysteries, which would occasionally be apparent from them. Once Meesam told Abdullah bin Abbas, who was one of the students of Imam Ali (a.s.) and had learn t the Quranic Exegeses from him, and whom Mohammad bin Hanafiyah had referred to as ” the Divine of the nation ” that, ” O son of Abbas! Ask from me whatever you desire regarding the interpretation of the Quran, as I have recited the revelations of the Quran before Imam Ali (a.s.) and have received it`s interpretation from him.”
Meesam-e-Tammar used to take lessons from Imam Ali (as) and Imam Ali (as) acquainted him with a good many secrets of the faith. Imam Ali (as) taught him many branches of knowledge which included ilm-e-Manaya wal Balaya (the knowledge of death and future calamities) and ilm-e-Taweel (Interpretation and exegesis of Glorious Qur`an). At times with the permission of his master, Meesam-e-Tammar used to acquaint the public about the deep secrets learn t by him.
Once Imam Ali (as) told him that he (Meesam) would be hanged on account of love for his master. He also gave the address and told him that he would be hanged in a farm next to the house of Amr ibn Huraith. The tree on which he would be hanged was the smallest of the ten trees existing in the farm at that time. Meesam was also informed that his tongue would be cut out because he would not stop praising his master [Imam Ali (as)].
After getting the information, it is recorded in history that Meesam would go to the palm-tree and looked after the trink which his master has pointed, water its branches and used to clean the place and would say “Oh tree! You are for me and I am for you. Meesam-e-Tammar had visited the palm-tree for more than twenty years. Meesam-e-Tammar would go to Amr ibn Huraith and say, “I will be your neigbour, thus fulfill the rights of neighborhood well.” Amr ibn Huraith would not understand his meaning and would ask, “Do you intend buying the house of Ibne Mas`ood or Ibne Hakeem”? Meesam kept silent. Amr ibn Huraith was puzzled. He wondered: What does Meesam mean?
Months and years passed by, Imam Ali (as) was martyred then Imam Hassan (as) was martyred and Meesam-e-Tammar kept waiting for the time. Finally came 60 AH when Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad was appointed Governor of Kufa, Iraq.
Meesam-e-Tammar then went to Makkah to perform Hajj pilgrimage and there after returned to Kufa, Iraq. Thereafter Meesam went to Kufa and was seized and taken to Ubaydullah. Ubaydullah was told that, “This man is the most beloved of Ali.” He said, “Woe be to you! This Persian man”? He was replied in the affirmative. Then Ubaydullah asked Meesam, “Where is your Lord”? Meesam replied, “In ambush of the oppressors, while you are one of the oppressors.” Ubaydullah said, “Even after being a Persian (non-Arab) you say what you mean (your Arabic is eloquent). Tell me then, what your Master (Imam Ali) predicted to you as to what I shall do to you”? Meesam replied, “Yes, he did tell us that I will be the tenth one whom you shall put to the gallows, and that the timber of my gallow would be the shortest, and also that I shall be closer to the ground than them.” Ubaydullah said, “By Allah! I shall do the opposite of what he said.” Meesam replied, “How can you do the opposite, when by Allah, Imam Ali (a.s.) had heard it from the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), while he had heard it from Jibraeel, who in turn heard it from the Almighty. How can you oppose them? And I even know the place in Kufa where I shall be hanged, and I shall be the first in Islam to be bridled.”
Thus Meesam was imprisoned alongwith Mukhtar bin Abu Ubaydah Saqafi. Al-Mukhtar said to his two friends: “Be ready to meet Allah (SWT)! After Imam Hussain`s killing, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad will kill the Imam Hussain`s (as) supporters.”
Abdullah bin al-Harith said: “Yes, he will kill us sooner or later.”
Meesam said: “No, he won`t kill you. My master, Imam Ali (as) has told me that you (al-Mukhtar) will get revenge of Imam Hussain`s killers. And you will kick Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad`s head with your foot.”
Then Meesam said to Abdullah bin al-Harith: “You`ll rule Basra.”
When Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad called for al-Mukhtar to be killed, a message arrived from Yazid ordering him to free al-Mukhtar. He released him and ordered Meesam to be crucified.
Meesam-e-Tammar was brought to the same tree to be hanged as pointed out by Imam Ali (as). Meesam began singing the praises of his master, and about a thousand people gathered to see Meesam being hanged.
After Meesam was hanged, his tongue carried on singing the praises of Imam Ali(a.s) and the virtues of Ahle Bait(a.s). Meesam said with a smile. “By Allah (SWT), this palm trunk has been created for me! And I`ve been created for it.” Thus, the people knew the secret of Meesam`s visit to the palm-tree throughout the long years.
When the news of Meesam`s praises reached Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, the tyrant ordered that the tongue of Meesam-e-Tammar to be cut and hence the prophecy of Imam Ali(a.s) became true and Meesam died after his tongue was cut. Inna lillahe wa inna elaihe rajioon.
When the visitor leaves the holy city Najaf, on his way to Koofa, he sees a beautiful dome that decorates the shrine of Meesam-Tammar.