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Imam al-Husayn’s (as) acts of worship

1. Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih recounts that it was asked of ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (as), “Why are your father’s progeny few?” The Imam (as) answered, “I am surprised at how he managed to sire children at all because he was constantly engaged in prayer every day and night. He used to perform a thousand units [rak‘ahs] of prayer per day. How could he find free time for women?”4

2. Ibn Ṣabbagh Maliki narrates, “Whenever al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) was in a state of prayer, his color would turn pale.” They asked him, “What is this state which arises in you whenever you stand in prayer?” The Imam (as) replied, “You do not comprehend He whom I stand before.”5

3. Zamakhshari recounts that some people saw al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) performing the circumambulation of the Ka‘bah [tawaf]. When he came to the station of Ishmael [Isma‘il], he said his prayers. After praying, he put his face on the station of Ishmael and began weeping and said, “Your humble slave is at the doorstep of your house! Your humble servant is at your doorstep! A destitute is at your doorstep!”

For a long time, he kept repeating these statements. After a while, as he was leaving that place, his sight fell upon some poor people eating crumbs and pieces of bread. Imam al-Husayn (as) went over to them and greeted them with the ceremonial Islamic greeting of ‘salam’. They answered his greeting and invited him to their meal. He sat with them but did not partake of their food. He said, “If your food had not been from charity [sadaqah], I would have partaken of it.” He said to them, “Arise and come with me to my house.” When they arrived at his house, Imam al-Husayn (as) provided them with food and clothes.6

4. It has been narrated that ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr said, “Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as) performed the hajj twenty five times on foot, despite being accompanied by his fine and noble horses.”7

6. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr says, “Al-Husayn (as) was a highly scholarly and religious man. He performed prayer, fasting and hajj a lot.”8

8. On his own chain of transmission [sanad], Tabari narrates that Ḍaḥḥak ibn ‘Abd Allah Mashriqi said, “When darkness fell at Karbala, al-Husayn (as) and his companions spent the whole night praying, seeking forgiveness, supplicating and entreating Allah …” 9


4. Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 2, p. 220.

5. Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 183.

6. Rabi‘ al-Abrar, p. 210.

7. Sifat al-Safwah, vol. 1, p. 321; Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 3, p. 20, Egyptian print.

8. Al-Isti‘ab, vol. 1, p. 393.

9. Tarikh Ṭabari, vol. 5, p. 421.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"