Legends of Shahi-Zinda

History of Shakhi Zinda has always raised a lot of questions. This monument is cloaked in mysteries and legends, most of which belong to the name of the complex: “The Living King". All this is related with the name of the Prophet Muhammad's uncle, Kussama ibn Abbas. There are several legends about his death.

The most popular legend states that during the battle with the heathens Kussama Ibn Abbas was mortally wounded. Some legends say he was beheaded, others say it was a wound by an arrow. But they all agree on the fact that during the battle the spirit of the Saint Hazrat Hyzr came down to the mortally wounded Kussama ibn Abbas and helped him escape from the battlefield. Hazrat Hyzr placed Kussama ibn Abbas in the well of Shaaban, where he, having drunk the water of life, recovered and became immortal. Hence the name "The Living King".

Shakhi-Zinda Burial Vault, Samarkand
Shakhi-Zinda Burial Vault, Samarkand
Shakhi-Zinda Burial Vault, Samarkand

After seven centuries, Tamerlane decided to visit the holy places in Samarkand, returning from a trip. When he came to the well, in which Shakhi Zinda had disappeared, he was overcome by doubts. He turned to his suite and said: "I’ve read in history books, and all people know that Shahi-Zinda has hidden in the well, when he was pursued by insurgent Samarkand people, and that he is alive and resides in the well. I want to know whether it is true or Shakhi Zinda has already dead."

And his suite told him:
-Sir, no one but God can know this secret. It is impossible to say whether Shakhi Zinda is alive or dead at the present time, not seeing him with your own eyes.

Then a nobleman said:
- Great sir, I’ve read in a book that Shakhi Zinda will be in prayer in this well until a new messiah comes back to the Earth. Then Shakhi Zinda would come out of the well and appear to the people. But Timur did not believe to his suite. He called volunteers and promised a reward to those who would go down into the well and check whether the Living King resided in the well. He promised vast wealth those who would go down into the well, but no one wanted to risk his life, as the legends talked about a fire-breathing dragon that guarded the entrance to the well. Only one person whose name was Hida offered to go down. Hida was a brave soldier and had a tremendous force. He was tempted by the great wealth and honors, appeared before the emperor and said that he would come down into the well.

Hida tied a rope around his waist and began to descend into the well. At first he saw nothing at the bottom, but Hida was a clever soldier and had seen a lot in his life. He sat down and closed his eyes and then suddenly opened them and saw the light in the well. In the depths of the well he saw the cave and without hesitation went in. He saw an extraordinary picture: a palace faced with precious stones. The palace had sufas on each four sides and its facade looked like it was plastered with molten gold. On each side of the palace there were thrones in each sufa, adorned with precious stones. Hida was fascinated with incomparable beauty of the palace.

He had gone all over many countries, had seen a lot of different rarities, had heard many wonders, but nothing like this palace he had not even dreamed of. However, much as he went around and looked everywhere, nobody came and there was no sign of a man. Hida entered the palace, but it was also empty. Hida went through the palace, and, finally, opening a door, entered into a huge beautiful garden. It was the Garden of Eden. Hida decided to try the fruit on the trees, but suddenly a terrible voice stopped him and Hida ran like a deer away. He found himself in the meadow and saw three old men. They were surrounded by a crowd of people in white and green robes. Hida asked a man, standing next to him: Taksyr (Mister), who is this great man, shedding the light around him and those two noble old men, who sit with him?

The man replied: You should know, the servant of God, that the man, sitting in the center is Shakhi Zinda Kussam ibn Abbas with the Prophet Hyzr on the right and the Prophet Ilias on the left. People, whom you see here, are the souls of future people and the souls of dead sinless people. The first people are in white clothes, others in green. All of them come here every day to worship and serve the Hazrat (holy) Shakhi Zinda, and then fly away on those horses that you see to the right and left, to the east and west, around the world.

At that moment Shakhi Zinda noticed Hida. Hida frightened and fell to the ground. Shakhi Zinda said with anger in his voice: “Servant of God, you made ​​a daring attempt of going down into the well and appearing before the souls of sinless people. Aren’t you afraid to anger me with your visit? Don’t you know that on my order they can make you a member of the permanent world, bring in a primitive, pre-Earth form? If I do this, I will get rid of other impudent people who may also wish to descend into the well and to visit the kingdom of pure souls to satisfy their curiosity.”

Hida began justifying himself in fear: “Oh Hazrat, do not punish me. I descended into the well not of my free will. A great ruler Amir Temur came to the world. He has already won half of the world and wants to take over all the Earth. He sent me here by force. How could I disobey him?”

But Shakhi Zinda replied that Timur did not force him to descend into the well and that Hida came here only because of his own greed. And he added that he would let Hida go, but he had to keep mum about what he had seen, otherwise he would become blind, and all his descendants would also be blind. Timur would also pay for his impudence. He would never conquer China.

When Hida came back to Timur, he asked Hida about Shakhi Zinda. Hida fell to his knees and asked him not to demand the answer, otherwise he and his descendants would go blind. Temur promised to reward Hida and his descendants any lands and vast riches for life. Then Hida said Temur about what he saw, following which two tears rolled out of his eyes and he became blind. And all his descendants were born blind. So the first part of the prophecy came true. About Timur: it is known from history that during the trip to China, the great commander died in Otrar, and did not win that state. The second part of the prophecy of Shakhi Zinda came true too...