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‘Ali al-Akbar (a.s.) in Ashura - Part 1

None remained with al-Husayn (‘a) except his Ahl al-Bayt who were determined to face death with their might and to maintain their dignity. They came bidding each other farewell1 the first being Abul-Hasan2 ‘Ali al-Akbar3 who was twenty-seven years old.

He was born on the 11th of Sha’ban, 33 A.H/653 A.D.4, and he was a mirror reflecting the Prophet's own beauty and a model of his own sublime code of ethics, a specimen of his wise speech. One poet of the Messenger of Allah (S) praised him saying:
Never have any eyes seen better than you
Never have women begotten more beautiful than you
Fault-free you have been made
As if you as you wished were made.
Al-Madih al-Akbar says5:
No eyes saw him have ever seen
Anyone walking, bare-footed or not.
Flesh boils till when it is ripe,
The eater finds it not expensive at all,
Whenever fire for it was lighted,
He with lofty honour ignited.
Just as a poor person sees it in hope,
Or a lone man with no family.
Never did he prefer his life over his creed,
Nor did he sell what is right for a misdeed.
I mean the son of Layla, the one of the dew,
I am describing the son of high lineage to you.

‘Ali al-Akbar is the one who branched out of the tree of Prophethood, the man who inherited the great merits. He was truly worthy of being a caliph had it not already been determined by the Lord of the Heavens. The most Glorified One had recorded their names in the tablet brought by Gabriel (‘a), to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny.
He inherited the merits his legacy
From every valiant warrior and brave
In Hamzah's might, in Hayder's bravery
In al-Husayn's loftiness, in Ahmad's dignity
Good in make and in conduct,
Wise in speech like the Prophet Ahmad.6

Once he was about to start his role in defending Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), it rested extremely heavily for the ladies who grew up in the lap of Imamate because he was the one upon whom they rested their hopes for their protection and security, their only hope after al-Husayn (‘a) is gone.

One of them would see the Message about to be muted with his death, while another would see the sun of Prophethood nearing an eclipse, while yet another would see Muhammad's code of ethics coming to an end.

They all surrounded him and pleaded to him saying, “Have mercy on our being strangers in this land! We cannot bear your separation!”

But he did not pay them any attention because he could easily see how his enemies were to the end determined to spill his pure blood. He sought his father's permission then came out riding a horse belonging to al-Husayn (‘a) named Lahiq.7
From the camp of Layla, mother of ‘Ali al-Akbar and daughter of Maymuna daughter of Abu Sufyan,8 a man shouted, “O ‘Ali ! You have kinship with the commander of the faithful Yazid, and we wish to safeguard it; so, if you wish, we can grant you security.”

He (‘a), said, “The kinship I have with the Messenger of Allah, peace of Allah and His blessings be upon him and his progeny, is now more worthy of being safeguarded,”9 then he recited these rajaz verses, identifying his holy self and his sublime objective:
I am ‘Ali son of al-Husayn son of ‘Ali
We, by the House's Lord, are more worthy of the Nabi.
By Allah! We shall never be ruled by the da’i
With the sword shall I defend my family
And strike like a young Hashemi, Qarashi!10

Al-Husayn (‘a) could not help flooding his eyes with tears11 and shouted at ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d: “What is the matter with you?!

May Allah cut off your lineage just as you have cut off mine and just as you have not respected my kinship to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, and may He send upon you someone to slay you on your own bed!”12 Then he uncovered his hair and raised his hands to the heavens supplicating thus:

 “O Allah! Bear witness against these folks that a man who looks most like Your Messenger Muhammad in his physique, manners, and eloquence13 has come out to fight them! Whenever we missed seeing Your Prophet, we would look at him.

O Allah! Deprive them of the blessings of the earth, create dissension among them, and make them into many parties, and do not let their rulers ever be pleased with them, for they invited us to support us, then they transgressed on us and fought us!”
Then he recited the Qur’anic verse saying,

“Allah surely chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of Imran over all people, offspring of one another, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing (Qur’an, 3:34).”14
He kept charging at their right and left wings, diving in their midst. Whenever a group of fighters met him, he would repulse them, all of them, and whenever a brave man faced him, he would kill him:
He assaults the regiments as the ground closes in on them
All because of his fiery might,
So he forcibly sends them back on their tails
In his might he resembles the angry lion.

He killed a total of one hundred and twenty knights. Thirst took its toll on him, so he returned to his father to rest and to complain about suffering from thirst.15


1. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 26.

2. On p. 14 of our dissertation of ‘Ali al-Akbar, we quoted Imam Abul-Hasan al-Riďa (‘a) saying that he was married to a “mother of sons,” hence his kunya “Abu [father of] al-Hasan” after his son by her, al-Hasan. His ziyarat, which is stated on p. 239 of Kamil al-Ziyarat of Ibn Qawlawayh, underscores this fact. Instructing Abu Hamzah, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (‘a) instructed the first to say: “Allah bless you and your progeny and family and bless your fathers, your offspring, and your mothers, the good ones from whom Allah removed all abomination and whom He purified with a perfect purification.” “Offspring” implies a number of persons, at least two.

3. In our dissertation on ‘Ali al-Akbar, we quoted historians saying that he was older than Imam al-Sajjad (‘a). We shall quote Zayn al-’Afif [al-Sajjad] recognizing this fact when we discuss the post-martyrdom events in a dialogue between the Imam (‘a) and Ibn Ziyad.

4. As quoted in Anis al-Shi’ah, a manuscript written by Sayyid Muhammad ‘Abd al-Husayn al-Ja’fari al-Ha’iri which he wrote for sultan Fath ‘Ali Shah.

5. According to p. 32 of Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, this poem was written in memory of ‘Ali al-Akbar [‘Ali Senior].

6. These verses and the ones to follow were composed by the authority Ayatullah Shaikh ‘Abd al-Husayn Sadiq al-’Amili, may Allah sanctify him.

7. According to p. 178 of Fadl al-Khayl by ‘Abd al-Mu’min al-Dimyati (d. 805 A.H./1402 A.D.), one of al-Husayn's mares was named Lahiq, and on p. 183 the author says, “Al-Husayn son of ‘Ali (‘a), had a mare named al-Yamum and another named Lahiq upon which he carried his son ‘Ali al-Akbar Ibn al-Husayn during the battle of the Taff where they were both killed.”

8. Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, Al-Isaba, Vol. 4, p. 178, where the biography of Abu Murrah is discussed.

9. Abu Nasr, Sirr al-Silsila, p. 57, in the discussion of genealogy in general and that of Mis’ab Ibn al-Zubayr of Quraish in particular.

10. The rest of these verses are recorded by Shaikh al-Mufid, may Allah sanctify him, in his book Al-Irshad.

11. Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Ahzan, p. 35. al-Mufid, Al-Irshad.

12. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 30.

13. Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Ahzan. Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 30.

14. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 30.

15. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 47 (old edition). ‘Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 96. al-Naishapuri, Rawdat al-Wa’izin, p. 161. Ibn Shahr Ashub, Al-Manaqib, Vol. 2, p. 222 (Iranian edition). Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Ahzan, p. 35. Ibn Tawus, Al-Luhuf, p. 64 (Saida edition). al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 30.

Adapted from: "Maqtal al-Husayn; Martyrdom Epic of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Abd al-Razzaq al-Muqarram"