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Personalities

John

John63, a slave of Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, stood before al-Husayn (‘a) requesting him to grant him permission to fight.

The Imam (‘a) said, “O John! You followed us seeking your good health, so you are excused.” But the old man fell on the Imam's feet kissing them and saying, “I in the time of prosperity lick what is served on your tables; so, should I in the time of hardship betray you?

My smell is surely bad; my lineage is lowly; my colour is black; so do bestow upon me a breeze from Paradise so that my smell will be good, my lineage will be honoured, and my colour will be whitened! No, by Allah, I shall never abandon you till this black blood mixes with yours!” Al-Husayn (‘a), therefore, granted him permission.64

He killed as many as twenty-five men before he himself was finally killed. Al-Husayn (‘a) stood by his corpse and supplicated saying, “O Lord! Whiten his face, make his smell good, join him with Muhammad (S) and link him to the progeny of Muhammad (S)!”
 
Whoever thereafter passed by the battleground was able to smell his corpse emitting a fragrance sweeter than that of musk.65

Notes:

63. On p. 239, Vol. 6, of al-Tabari's Tarikh, his name exists as “Hoy,” and on p. 218, Vol. 2, of his book Al-Manaqib, Ibn Shahr Ashub calls him Juwayn son of Abu Malik, slave of Abu Tharr al-Ghifari. On p. 237, Vol. 1, of his book Maqtal al-Husayn, al-Khawarizmi calls him John, a black slave of Abu Tharr al-Ghifari. [The Translator of this book is of the opinion that his name, the Christian that he was, may very possibly be “John.” N. Tr.]

64. Ibn Nama, Muthir al-Ahzan, p. 33 (Iranian edition). Ibn Nama, Al-Luhuf, p. 61.

65. ’Abdullah Nur-Allah al-Bahrani, Maqtal al-’Awalim, p. 88.

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