Legend of Shahi Zinda complex
On the northern outskirts of Samarkand, on the edge of the Afrasiab hill, among the vast ancient cemetery, there are groups of mausoleums, among which the grave of Kussam, the son of Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Muhammad, is most famous.
Kusam ibn Abbas with a small part of the troops was appointed to Samarkand to establish Islam and introduce the fundamentals of the Shariat ("Muslim law"). According to Arabic sources, Kusam held up to seventy battles near Samarkand with local idolaters who, as a result, were converted to Islam. But, in 676, the heathens of the Pejikent Mountains unexpectedly attacked Samarkand, in which at that time the Muslims were busy with prayer and all were killed.
The very fact of the death of Kusam ibn Abbas was not authentically confirmed in the sources that have survived to our time. Therefore, the only evidence that tells us about the "death" of the brother of the Prophet is a legend about Shahi Zinda passed down from generation to generation. But since the East is a “delicate matter”, the legend itself, depending on the narrator, differs in some details:
Legend about Shahi Zinda, version one
During the attack of the pagans, the minbar (a place for prayer, according to one version) under Kussam split, and he, passing into the formed gap, disappeared from the eyes of infidels and remained alive. Hence the name - Shahi Zinda ("Living King").
Legend of Shahi Zinda, version two
Kussam, fighting off enemies and getting a lot of wounds, with the help of St. Hazret Khizra who came to the aid, reached the Shaaban well and hid in it, where he continues to live until now.
Legend about Shahi Zinda, version three (which is still the most popular)
Having almost reached the well, Kussam, nevertheless, received a terrible blow with a saber, his head was chopped off, but he, taking his severed head in his hands, descended into the well, where he receives immortality after drinking “living water”.
It is in this exposition that one can hear today the story of the events of 676 from the guides and from the pages of numerous guidebooks. The great Amir Timur heard the same version.
And with his name that another legend about the “Living King” is associated
History of Shakhi Zinda, version four (after more than 7 centuries)
Amir Timur returned from a long hike to his capital Samarkand. Timur conquered many lands, brought a lot of property to Samarkand. The emperor was glad to have a successful campaign and was cheerful, but, before starting to celebrate his victories, before giving himself a rest from hardships and military labors, he wished to worship at the graves of saints, many of whom were buried in Samarkand. Timur drove up to the well in which Shahi Zinda had disappeared from pagan enemies. Then Timur fell into doubt - is it true that Shahi-Zinda, the great and revered saint, is alive? He told his companions that he wanted to know for sure whether it was fair that Shahi Zinda had not died. He promised untold wealth to the daredevil, who would go down to the well.
One man from among the warriors, named Hida agreed to come down the well. Having gone down, Hida looked around and saw a cave in one side of the well. He boldly entered the cave and saw a palace similar to the treasury of Faridun (the epic Persian king). Hida walked around the palace, and, finally, he entered a huge garden, so beautiful that it had never been on earth.
For a long time adored Hida wandered around the wonderful garden. Passing it, he saw a beautiful vast green meadow, the end of which was not visible. Many horses grazed in this meadow. All of them were saddled with gold saddles with a set of precious stones; the bridles were the same on them; but the shepherds were not visible. Next, Hida saw a palace with a high terrace. As he approached, he saw a crowd of two hundred thousand men in front of the palace - some were dressed in white, others in green.
On the terrace of the palace Hida saw an old man in white shiny clothes; on the right and left next to him two more old men sat. Gaining courage, Hida respectfully approached the people standing around the palace and asked: “Who is this great man and what are the names of those two noble elders sitting with him?”
Hida got the answer, that the man sitting in the middle is Shahi Zinda Kussam, son of Abbis; sitting on the right is the prophet Khizr, and on the left the prophet Ilyas. The people around are the souls of future people and the souls of deceased righteous people. All of them, by God's command, gather here every day to bow and serve the Hazrat (saint) Shahi Zinda, and then fly away on the horses east and west, around the world.
With an angry gaze, Shahi Zinda looked at Hida. Hida was a brave, fearless man, but even from this look he changed his face, shook like a sheet and fell to his knees. Shahi Zinda bowed his head and thought. Finally, Shahi Zinda raised his head and spoke to him with these words: “You have committed a daring act, descending into a well and appearing between the souls of righteous people. Weren't you afraid to annoy me with your anxiety? Didn’t you know that, at my order, they could make you a participant in the permanent peace, bring you into a primitive, pre-earthly form? If I do this, then I will get rid of other impudent people like you, who may also wish to go down the well and visit for the sake of curiosity in the realm of pure souls”.
Hida, in fear, began to make excuses that he had to go down the well, but Shahi Zinda said: “You are a liar and you are not afraid of God. Amir Timur did not forcibly order you to be lowered into the well: self-interest brought you here: you came down voluntarily in the hope that Timur promised you wealth and honors. This time I will give you life and forgive your action, but with the condition that you somehow do not tell your king or anyone else anything you see here so that you keep all this secret. “If you reveal a secret, you will not fulfill my desire, you yourself will go blind and all your offspring will be born blind. Remember punishment and do not reveal secrets. Now return home, but be afraid another time to bother me! ”
Nevertheless, Hida had to tell Amir Timur about what he saw under pain of death.
Hida told in detail everything that he saw and heard, adding nothing from himself and not hiding. As soon as he finished - two large dark tears rolled out of his eyes and he went blind. Everyone was amazed at this miracle. Since then, the descendants of Hida were born blind - everyone knew about this in Samarkand. Amir Timur kept his promise: he built in Samarkand the Madrasah (Khorazmi Madrasah), in which the blind lived, mostly descendants of Hida.
The punishment predicted to Timur was fulfilled. Already he conquered the whole world, only one kingdom of China was not subject to him. Timur gathered his myriad army. No one doubted victory. The army came out.
The Chinese king was frightened when he found out that invincible Timur was coming to him, he wanted to give all his kingdom to Timur without a battle so as not to shed blood in vain, and sent ambassadors with rich gifts to meet him. But at that very time Timur died before reaching the border of the Chinese kingdom, and his army was dispersed.
If you are interested in the legends of Shahi Zinda and you want to see this complex, and then tell the legends to your ancestors yourself, book tours to Uzbekistan from Peopletravel.