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Seerah

Al-Qasim and His Brother

Abu Bakr, son of Imam al-Hasan son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), came out. His first name was ‘Abdullah al-Akbar [‘Abdullah senior] and his mother was an “umm walad”8 named Ramla.9 He fought till he was killed.10
 
After the latter, his full-blooded brother, al-Qasim, came out.11 He was a lad who had not yet come of age. When al-Husayn (‘a), looked at him, he hugged him and wept.12

Then he permitted him to fight, so he came out with a face looking like a full moon13 bearing a sword and wearing a shirt and a mantle. On his feet he wore sandals. He had to fight on foot.

The sandal's string on his left foot was cut off,14 so he, the son of the great Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, hated to walk bare-footed on the battlefield.

He, therefore, stopped for a moment to tie his sandal,15 regarding those enemies as no more valuable than his own sandal, paying no heed to their multitude, feeling unconcerned about their thousands.
 
He leaned to mend his shoe
As the war near him drew
Their war, they knew,
Was no more precious than his shoe,
Carrying his sword, by its sheath shaded,
Do not worry about what he did,
For a branch is rendered to its root.
After the clouds comes the rain
And a cub is but a lions' son.16

As he was thus engaged, ‘Amr Ibn Sa’d Ibn Nafil al-Azdi attacked him. Hamid Ibn Muslim asked him, “What do you want to do to this lad? Are you not satisfied to see all the crowd that surrounds him?” He said, “By Allah I shall attack him!” He hit al-Qasim with his sword. The lad fell face forward crying out, “O uncle!”.

Al-Husayn (‘a) came out to his help like an angry lion and struck ‘Amr with his sword. ‘Amr tried to avoid it with his arm, so the Imam cut it off from the elbow, causing him to let out a very loud scream which was heard by the entire army. The cavalry of Ibn Sa’d charged in order to rescue him. ‘Amr met them face-to-face, causing their horses to trample upon him and to eventually kill him.
 
After some time the cloud of dust dissipated, so al-Husayn (‘a) was now seen standing at the head of the young boy, examining his feet. Al-Husayn (‘a) said, “Away with people who have killed you while their opponent on the Day of Judgment will be your grandfather (S)!”

Then he said, “Hard it is, by Allah, that you call upon your uncle to help you and he cannot answer your call, or that he does answer it but cannot do much for you. It is a lone voice whose enemies are numerous and whose supporters are few.”

Then he carried him away. Al-Qasim was on al-Husayn's chest; his legs were dragging on the ground. Al-Husayn (‘a) put the corpse beside that of ‘Ali al-Akbar and of those of his family who had been killed.17

Then he raised his eyes to the heavens and supplicated thus:

“O Allah! Count their numbers, and do not leave any of them alone, and do not forgive a single one of them! Be patient, O cousins! Be patient, O my Ahl al-Bayt! You shall never meet any hardship after today at all.”18
 
Never can I tell you enough about al-Qasim
Son of the chosen one al-Hasan,
Engaged in the war paying no heed
To what in it went on,
As if its swords to him spoke,
As if they were beauties with him flirting,
As if their lances were cups
Served to him by their waiter to drink.
Had he minded any danger or had he
Feared death, he would not have mended a shoe
In its midst before him stood his foe,
As many as the sands in count.
From beneath comes the assault and from high
He would not have worn on his head a shield.
So with his white sword he was painted red,
Except when you did see him being distracted
From the struggle, and souls do slacken,
And that was only a lion's slumber,
One who paid no heed to the number
Of his foes, of what their sword could do,
So he fell down and for help cried,
And the Prophet's grandson did to him respond,
And it was what it was from its da’i.
The falcon took him and with his peers joined.
Their first were killed and so was their last.
Oppressed was he, yet the sun's heads were ripe,
And only his sharp sword was the harvester,
Till became fed-up was the sword,
And from the sword the valley overflowed.
The dark clouds by the steeds raised
Were uncovered showing their riders
And what was hidden was revealed.
He was seen hugging on his chest a moon
Decorated by the blood on his forehead.
He took him carrying him to the camp
And his eyes were reddened by their tears.
On the page of the ground did his feet leave marks
Dotted by his tears, followed by his heart.
O what a shining moon that removed
With his eclipse how he wiped it out!

Notes:

8. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 269. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 34.

9. According to Al-Hada’iq al-Wardiyyah, his mother and the mother of al-Qasim was Ramla. On p. 103 of Tathkirat al-Khawass, where the author, namely Ibn al-Jawzi, the grandson, relies on Ibn Sa’d's Tabaqat, Nufayla was the mother of al-Qasim, Abu Bakr, and ‘Abdullah, whereas Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, in his book Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, says that she was “umm walad” whose genealogy was not known. On p. 50 of the same reference, where the author traces Mis’ab Ibn al-Zubayr's genealogy to Quraish, it is stated that al-Qasim and Abu Bakr were both killed at the Battle of al-Taff, leaving no offspring.

10. According to p. 127 of al-Tabarsi's book I’lam al-Wara and to Al-Mujdi fil Nasab of Abul-Hasan al-’Amri, as well as in Is’af al-Raghibin in a footnote referring to p. 202 of Nur al-Absar, he is said to have married Sukayna daughter of al-Husayn (‘a). On p. 64 of his book Al-Mutaradifat, al-Mada'ini, in the first group of rare manuscripts he categorizes, says that ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Hasan was her first husband.

11. All references to the alleged wedding of al-Qasim are not true. Al-Qasim had not yet come of age, and no authentic historical record supports such an allegation. Shaikh Fakhr ad-Din al-Turayhi is a greatly knowledgeable man. Nobody can fairly attribute to him such a myth. Its existence is his book is a deliberate and unauthorized addition, and al-Turayhi shall question [on the Judgement Day] whoever incorporated it in his book. I do not know where his eminence Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad of Lucknow, who is titled the “crown of scholars”, got his information from so he wrote a dissertation about that wedding which he named “al-Qasimiyya” as we are told on p. 4, Vol. 17, of al-Tehrani's voluminous work Al-Thari’ah.

12. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 27. al-Khawarizmi says that al-Husayn (‘a) was reluctant to permit him to go, but the chap kept begging him, kissing his hands and feet, till he consented. I say that this claim is contradicted by what is stated in the discussion of the events during the night that preceded ‘Ashura, when al-Husayn (‘a) informed his companions and family members that they would all be killed, including al-Qasim and his own infant son. Like the tale of al-Qasim's wedding, this is a groundless claim.

13. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 256. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibyyin. I’lam al-Wara, p. 146. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 27.

14. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 256. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-Talibiyyin. al-Mufid, Al-Irshad. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 27. Authors of both Al-Irshad and I’lam al-Wara say “One of his shoe laces was cut off.”

15. Thakhirat al-Darayn, p. 152. Ibsar al-’Ayan, p. 37. I say that it does not surprise me to see how this descendant of the Chosen Prophet (S) thus heedless of the odds on the battlefield. Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, on p. 144, Vol. 11, of his book Al-Aghani, says, “Ja’far Ibn ‘Alyah Ibn Rab’i Ibn ‘Abd Yaghuth of Banu al-Harith Ibn Ka’b was once captured and his shoe string was cut off. He stopped to mend it. A man asked him, ‘Does not the trouble in which you are distract your mind from doing that?' Ja’far answered by composing a line of poetry meaning: ‘More hard for me than shoe-string mending is my foe seeing me to troubles succumbing.'”

16. These verses were composed by the authority Sayyid Mir ‘Ali Abu Tibikh, may Allah have mercy on him.

17. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 257. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, Vol. 8, p. 186. al-Mufid, Al-Irshad.

18. al-Khawarizmi, Maqtal al-Husayn, Vol. 2, p. 28.

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