The Islamic history is full of great and influential personalities, whether on the political, religious or social level, and when one these personalities is influential at the intellectual, religious, political and preaching levels, it will be great to know all the sides of his life, especially if this personality had the attention of the Imams of Ahl Al-Bayt (peace be upon them) such as the righteous companion Kumayl Ibn Ziyad Al-Nakha'i, who was one of the followers and close friends of the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him), as he fought at his side in the war of Siffin and he was a courageous warrior and an ascetic worshiper. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) taught him the known supplication -Dua Kumayl- that was the supplication of Al-Khidr (peace be upon him). Kumayl (God bless him) had a great personality and had high confidence of the Imam (peace be upon him) as he (peace be upon him) was telling him some matters that nobody other than him knew, and so he was called "The secret keeper of the Imam".
Kamil has narrated some of the sayings of the Prophet (Allah's prayers be upon him and his holy Household) and he was mentor, ascetic, worshiper, adviser and an eloquent reformer and he was one of the most prominent scholars of Kufa. His lips never stopped of the recitation of the Holy Quran and Dhikr.
The bright jihadist life of the righteous companion Kumayl began in the era of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), and he was one of his senior supporters during the time of khilafah. He was so closed to the Imam (Peace be upon him) that he used to take him out with him in the middle of the night to teach him morals and secrets.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) taught his companion whatever they wanted. One day, he took Kumayl with him outside Kufa. It was night. The sky was full of stars. Northern fresh breeze was blowing. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) told him: "Kumayl, these hearts are containers (of knowledge). The best of them are those that best preserve knowledge. Therefore, preserve what I say to you: There are three classes of people. The first class knows Allah. The second learns knowledge as means of salvation. And the third is rabble: followers of every crier, who bend with every breeze. These men do not seek to be illuminated by the light of learning, nor do they resort to any authority. Kumayl, knowledge is better than wealth. Knowledge guards you while you guard wealth. Wealth is diminished by expenditure while knowledge is increased even by giving it away. Kumayl, those who amass wealth die even as they live while those who have knowledge will continue to exist for as long as time lasts."
When people have pledged allegiance to Imam Ali (peace be upon him), he appointed in the place of the disqualified governors and leaders those who have the ability for these positions, one of them was Kumayl who was appointed governor of the Iraqi city Heet that lies on the Euphrates River in Iraq. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) trusted him so much that he named a trustworthy and responsible of the House of money in his letter written to the clerk of the house of money; Ubaydullah Ibn Abi Rafi'.
Kumayl (may Allah bless him) was martyred by the tyrant of his time Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who had killed the best of believing Muslims, especially the loyal companions and followers of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). It is narrated that when Al-Hajjaj was appointed governor, Kumayl Ibn Ziyad fled from him. Al-Hajjaj used a new way to arrest Kumayl. He ordered the police to annoy Kumayl followers. He deprived them of money. So, their economic condition was bad. After hearing the news about the torturing of his family members and friends, Kumayl decided the only thing to do was to turn himself in to save them from persecution. He got his walking stick, ready to turn himself in. People around Kumayl asked him "Kumayl, these people want you why don't you just hide."Kumayl replied, "No, no more. A man who insults my master (referring to Imam Ali) is not a man I hide from. Who dare he insult. He (referring to Hajjaj) says where are the lovers of Abu Turab (Imam Ali). I am a lover of Abu Turab." Nonetheless, Hajjaj forces brought Kumayl to him at his palace. When presented to Hajjaj, Kumayl saw a headsman carrying a sword with guards (who surrounded Hajjaj). Kumayl knew that death was certain. But, before his death Hajjaj and Kumayl engaged in the following dialog.
Hajjaj: "So you are Kumayl ibn Ziyad al-Nakha'i?" Kumayl: "Yes." Hajjaj: "I heard stories about you. When you were younger, you spoke out against the great caliph Uthman. " Kumayl: "Yes that's me." Hajjaj: "And I heard you are the one who tried to speak out against Mu'awiyah." Kumayl: "Yes." Hajjaj: "I heard you are the one who loves Ali ibn Abi Talib. You love Abu Turab." Kumayl: "Yes, I love Abu Turab." Hajjaj: "Curse be on you and on Abu Turab. Dissociate from Abu Turab and I will let you go." Kumayl: "Show me a way better than Abu Turab's way. I will follow it. My master, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has told me that you will kill me. Allah's enemy, do whatever you like! And know that Judgement Day will be after killing." Hajjaj: "Disown Ali to save your soul." Kumayl: "Show me a religion better than Ali's." Since Kumayl took a hardline stance for his love of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), Hajjaj ordered the headsman to behead Kumayl. He was martyred at the age of 84 years.
His shrine is known in Najaf, it is located near the Masjid of the head of al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) and away from the holy shrien of Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) almost two kilometers from the western side on the road linking between Najaf and Kufa. His sanctuary is visited weekly by thousands of visitors from inside and outside Iraq and he has blessings witnessed by many of his visitors. On Thursday nights, sweet words fly high in the sky full of stars. The words remind people of that great martyr whose name is connected with the supplication. So, his name will be immortal.