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The Funeral and Remembrance Rites of the Family of Husayn (a.s.) in Medina

Shaykh al-Mufid has reported in Irshad that Yazid ibn Muawiya despatched'Abd al-Malik ibn Abi al-Harith al-Sulami to Medina to take the news of the death of al-Husayn to his governor there. 'Abd al-Malik reported: 'When I went to 'Amr b. Sa'd, he asked, "What is your news?" "Something which will please the governor," I replied. "Al-Husayn ibn 'Ali has been killed." He ordered me to go out and announce the news of his death. I announced it and I have never heard such wailing of the Hashimites in the houses for al-Husayn ibn 'Ali when they heard the announcement of his death.'

There is no doubt that when the men and women of the Talibid family learnt of the end of al-Husayn and his family at Karbala ', they held rites of remembrance in their houses, in the streets and in the public squares as the reports suggest.

Umm Luqman Zaynab bint 'Aqil ibn Abi Talib came out with her sister when she heard the news of the death of al-Husayn to weep for their dead on the Bank of the Euphrates. She was reciting:

'What will you say if the Prophet asks you: "What have you, the last umma, done With my offspring and my family after I left them? Some of them are prisoners and some of them lie killed, stained with blood. What sort of reward to me is this after I had advised you, that you should oppose me by doing evil to my family?'

After the arrival of the news of the dreadful event in Medina, the Talibids began rites of remembrance which continued and reached their climax with the arrival of the sad party in Medina.

There were rites of remembrance which were carried out by the men and there were rites of remembrance which were carried out by the women.

The men and women of Medina must also have attended these rites of remembrance, consoling, indignant and showing how they shared with the Talibids in their painful tragedy.

We consider that the rites of remembrance held by the men used to begin with expressions of condolence After that the stories of the battle and its circumstances would be told. These stories would be full of cries for vengeance against the Umayyads and their followers. History has preserved for us a picture of rites of remembrance held by men. These were the rites of remembrance for 'Abd Allah ibn Ja'far.

The rites of remembrance of the women would have been more heated and emotional as is the nature of the case. Some of them would have been held in the houses and some would have been held in the cemetery of al-Baqi'. The Medinan women would have attended these rites of remembrances Perhaps, even some of the men attended them as well, as may be deduced from some reports. In our view the rites of remembrance of the Talibid women would have included an account of the battle in emotional language and an explanation of the great virtues of the martyrs. That would be permeated with a wailing kind of poetry. It may also have been accompanied by the beating of faee and breasts.

We believe that the rites of remembrance for al-Husayn carried out by women have preserved their basic characteristics through the ages. No change worth mentioning has been introduced into them other than the language of the wailing kind of poetry and of the story of the battle. Certainly this language has changed insofar as it was classical and it has become colloquial or almost colloquial.

History has preserved a picture of some of these family rites of remembrance held by the women:

'Umm Banin-and she is Fatima bint Hizam al-Kilabiyya, the mother of al-'Abbas and his brothers, Abd Allah, Ja'far and 'Uthman, who were killed with their brother, al-Husayn on the Day of 'Ashura'_used to go every day to the cemetery of al-Baqi', carrying ' Ubayd Allah, the child of her son, al-'Abbas. She would mourn for her four sons with the deepest and most tormented grief. The people would gather and listen to her grieving. Marwan ibn al-Hakam used to come with those who came for that purpose and he would continue to listen to her grief as he wept.' 5

Then there were the rites of remembrance of al-Rabab, the wife of al-Husayn. However the greatest of the family rites of remembrance held by the women was undoubtedly the rites which Zaynab, daughter of 'Ali, held. They were solemn rites under the leadership of Zaynab. These rites and the anti-Umayyad reactions they generated in Medina prompted the governor of Medina, 'Amr ibn Satld ibn al-'As to write to Yazid ibn Mu'awiya: 'The presence of Zaynab among the people of Medina is inflAminatory. She is eloquent, clever, intelligent. She and those with her are determined to take vengeance for the death of al-Husayn.'

This led to her being taken away from Medina and sent to Egypt where she died on 14th Rajab in the year 62.

5. al Tabari, op cit, V

Adapted from the book: "The Revolution of al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din"

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