Muslim ibn Aqeel was the cousin of the third Shi’a Imam, Husayn ibn Ali, and was the son of Aqeel ibn Abu Talib. Muslim ibn Aqeel was sent ahead as an envoy to Kufa to see if the people could be trusted to be loyal. He sent word back saying that the people of Kufa were loyal but was murdered by the governor, Ibn Ziyad, who was loyal to Yazid ibn Muawiyah.
Husayn ibn Ali received a letter from people of Kufa with these words: “We invite you to come to Kufa as we have no Imam to guide us. Through you Allah will unite us on the path of truth.” A few days later the people of Kufa sent an emissary, a special messenger, to Husayn ibn Ali to persuade him to go to Kufa. There followed hundreds of other letters and many special emissaries from the people of Kufa to Husayn ibn Ali.
Receiving so many petitions and messages from Kufa, Husayn ibn Ali decided to send Muslim ibn Aqeel, who was a famous warrior, as his emissary to Kufa to study the situation there and report to Husayn ibn Ali.
He wrote a letter to the people of Kufa and gave it to Muslim ibn Aqeel. In this letter Husayn ibn Ali said, “I am sending my cousin and one of the most trusted ones from my family, Muslim ibn Aqeel, to report to me about your affairs. If his report agrees with what you have written I will soon be with you. You must be clear of the fact that the Imam is the only one who follows the book of Allah, and serves Allah in all matters and affairs with justice, honesty and truth.” Husayn ibn Ali also said to Muslim ibn Aqeel: “Muslim, the whole world knows that you are one of the bravest warriors. It is just possible that seeing you in Kufa some people may think that our intention is to fight Yazid. Take your two sons Muhammad and Ibrahim with you. When they see you with such young children, they will know that our intentions are peaceful.” According to reports Muslim ibn Aqeel’s sons were too young that they could not even tie up the buttons of their shirts.
On reaching Kufa, more than eighteen thousand people appeared before Muslim ibn Aqeel and pledged their allegiance to Husayn ibn Ali as their Imam. Seeing this Muslim ibn Aqeel reported to Husayn ibn Ali that he should proceed to Kufa as situation is ok.
Amongst the people of Kufa there were many spies employed by Yazid to report to him direct. When Yazid heard from them of the invitations to Husayn ibn Ali and the arrival in Kufa of Muslim ibn Aqeel ibn Aqeel he was filled with fury. He sent a message to his Governor in Basra Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad to go to Kufa and take over the position of Nu'amaan ibn Basheer, the governor of Kufa. Ibn Ziyad was also told to arrest Muslim and kill him.
Arriving in Kufa, he addressed the people of Kufa announcing his appointment as Yazid's governor. He then ordered them to surrender Muslim ibn Aqeel to him. Ibn Ziyad sealed Kufa.
At this time Muslim ibn Aqeel was staying with Hazrat Amir Mukhtar. Then he moved to Hani ibn Urwa’s house secretly, but ibn Ziyad found out where Muslim ibn Aqeel was. Hani was arrested and thrown into prison. Muslim ibn Aqeel and his two sons left Hani's house leaving the children with Qadhi Shurayb, a judge, and went into the desert to try and get back to Husayn ibn Ali to warn him not to come to Kufa.
On the eighth (the day when Husayn ibn Ali converted his pilgrimage (Hajj) into off-seasonal Pilgrimage (Umra) and started his journey from Mecca towards Iraq so to save the sanctity and honor of this sacred place (Kaaba), tired, hungry and exhausted Muslim ibn Aqeel knocked at the door of a house on the outskirts of the city. A lady opened the door. Muslim ibn Aqeel requested for a little water to quench his thirst. The lady when she learnt who he was invited him in and offered him shelter for the night as she was a lover of Muhammad’s progeny. But when her son learnt that the man ibn Ziyad was looking for was in his mother's house, he in greed of reward gave the information to a captain in ibn Ziyad army. Early the next morning, five hundred soldiers surrounded the house and demanded Muslim ibn Aqeel's surrender. Muslim ibn Aqeel came out holding his sword. Three times he drove the enemy away. Twice ibn Ziyad had to send in reinforcements.
When Muslim ibn Aqeel ibn Abi Talib was arrested, ibn Ziyad told ibn Aqeel that he would be killed and asked him if he had any last wishes. Muslim ibn Aqeel said: “I owe a debt which should be discharged by selling off my sword and armor. Secondly I want my body to be given a proper burial. Thirdly I want a message sent to Husayn ibn Ali advising him not to come to Kufa.” ibn Ziyad agreed to the first request refusing the last two. He then ordered Muslim ibn Aqeel to be taken to the roof of the palace to be executed and his body thrown to the ground.
Immediately after Muslim's death, Hani ibn Urwah was dragged to the rooftop and executed. Hazrat Muslim bin Aqeel’s two sons, Mohammad and Ibrahim, also were killed in Kufa.