Rafed English

The virtues of clay from Karbala

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

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates from ‘Amir Shatibi, “I once accompanied ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib on a journey. He was traveling to Siffin. When he reached the valley of Naynawa, he shouted out, ‘O Aba ‘Abd Allah! Bear patiently near the River Euphrates.’ ‘Amir Shatibi says, ‘I asked him: why?’ ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) answered, ‘One day I went to visit the Holy Prophet and found him crying. I asked him, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Has anyone annoyed you? Why are you crying?’ The Holy Prophet (S) answered, ‘No one has annoyed me, but just a while ago the Archangel Gabriel left. He brought the news that al-Husayn will be martyred near the River Euphrates. Gabriel asked me if I wanted to smell the scent of that soil. I agreed. Then, he brought out a handful of soil from the place where al-Husayn will be martyred in Karbala. It was at that moment that I could not control myself and started crying.’’”20

2. Umm Salamah says, “One day, the Prophet of Allah woke up in a very disturbed state. He slept again and once more woke up in the same agitated state. He repeated this three times. When he woke up for the third time, I saw him holding red soil in his hand. He was kissing it while shedding tears. I asked him, ‘O Prophet of Allah! What is that soil?’ He said, ‘Gabriel has informed me that my son al-Husayn will be martyred in Iraq. I asked Gabriel, ‘Show me the soil where al-Husayn will be martyred’ Gabriel brought this soil and gave it to me’.”21

It is essential to point out that there is a difference between “the one for whom prostration is done” and “on what material it is done”. The Shi‘ahs do not consider the soil from Karbala to be “the one for whom prostration is done”.

On the contrary, they consider it to be “the material on which prostration is done”. This means that the Shi‘ahs do not prostrate for or to the soil of Imam al-Husayn. On the contrary, they prostrate before Allah, the Exalted, by using the soil of Imam al-Husayn (as) as a pure place where they place their foreheads (a medium of prostration). There is a clear distinction between these two.


20. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, p. 60.

21. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 4, p. 398.


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