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The General Rites of Remembrance which Occurred Spontaneously in Medina

When the sad party of the Holy Family were approaching the hills of Medina, Imam Zayn al-'Abidin asked Bashir to go ahead into Medina to announce al-Husayn's death and tell the people of the arrival of the Holy Family. Bashir reported: 'I mounted my horse and galloped into Medina. When I reached the Mosque of the Prophet, I raised my voice and recited: "People of Medina, you have no replacement there now that al-Husayn has been killed. So weep profusely. His body was dyed red with blood at Karbala ' and his head was swung around on the shaft of a spear. Here is coming 'Ali ibn al-Husayn with his aunts and sisters. They have reached your suburbs and have stopped there. I am his messenger to you to tell you where he is."'

Medina already knew about what had happened at Karbala' after 'Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad's messenger brought the news. The family rites of remembrance had been going on in the houses of the Talibid family which were full of people bringing their condolences and discussing the news of Karbala'. Here was what was left of the slaughter of Karbala' by the Umayyad sword, returning to their home draped in the cloth of sadness, with bleeding hearts and tearful eyes.

Bashir ibn Jadhlam described the scene:

'There was not a woman who normally stayed in seclusion nor a woman who kept herself veiled who did not show her face as they were all calling for woe and affliction. Everybody in Medina came out making a great turmoil of weeping. I have never seen more people weeping than I saw on that day. Nor have I seen a more bitter day for the Muslims than it except for the death of the Apostle of God.' Bashir ibn Jadhlam continued:

'I whipped my horses and began to return. I found that the people were already taking to the roads and streets ... 'Ali ibn al-Husayn was entering ... He had come holding a cloth with which he wiped away his tears. Behind him, his servant had a chair which he put down for him. He sat down upon it while still not being able to control his tears. On all sides the voices of the people were raised in weeping as they tried to console him. The place was in a great turmoil. He made a sign with his hand for them to be quiet and their uproar subsided. Then he made an emotional speech to them. Then he went into Medina ...' In this way the whole of Medina was transformed, after the arrival of the Holy Family from Karbala', into one great rite of remembrance which was nourished with emotional agitation by the very centre of sadness and tragedy, the houses of the Talibid family, with the family of Imam al-Husayn at their fore. This transformed their family rites of remembrance into the greatest lamentations.

These spontaneous and overflowing rites of remembrance, which were held in Kufa and Medina and at the stopping-places along the route in the journey of return from Karbala ', carry within them the seeds of the public rites of remembrance as an institution. This is so because those who participated in them only did so as people involved in the problem who claimed that the cause of al-Husayn was Islamic, not something which only belonged especially to one family, that is the Hashimites and the Talibids. Perhaps, even the family rites of remembrance performed at Karbala', Damascus and Medina also participated, in some way, in preparing the atmosphere appropriate for the growth of the foundation of the concept of the public rites of remembrance.

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

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