Chapter 6

The Hard Days

The days of Shawwal were passing away, and cold winds were blowing through Karbala’ alleys foretelling of hard days to come. Al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir, leaving behind eighty-nine winters, has been laid up at the bed of disease, sorrounded by Sayyid ‘Ali al- Tabataba’i, his elder son Muhammad ‘Ali, and Sayyid Mahdi al- Tabataba’i al-Brujerdi, his most eminent disciple, and his envoy to the holy City of Najaf, with others. Clouds of grief and concern were overshadowing all those present there.

“Have you called in the physician?”

“Some of the doctors can identify the useful medicine and some may be mistaken. On last Saturday the physician came and prescribed a medicine that was of no effect.”

“Shall we stand pinioned up in this way?”

“‘Abd al-Husayn went to call upon one of the physicians, and he may be on his way back now.”

In the meantime, al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir opened his eyes and uttered vague words, whereat Muhammad ‘Ali rushed for giving ear to what he would say.

The tired lips moved, bringing out feeble tired words:

“Turn my bed to the qiblah direction.”

Muhammad ‘Ali, dispirited, came toward Sayyid Mahdi and Sayyid ‘Ali, informing them of the approaching of the destined fate.

Silence prevailed all over the muddy room, to the extent that the lying patient’s moaning could be clearly heard.

Sayyid Mahdi asked: Hasn’t the doctor arrived yet? Muhammad ‘Ali opened the Qur’an, embarking on reciting some holy verses, with low voice.

At that moment his daughter entered carrying a tray of herb, as prescribed by the physician. Al-Sayyid opened his eyes, while Allah’s verses were spreading all over the house, whereat Muhammad ‘Ali seemed trying his best to keep off the overshadowing spectre of death.

On the Wings of Verses

“Hurry up please, the medicine was of no effect, and my father’s condition is deteriorating.”

These words were desperately exclaimed by ‘Abd al-Husayn.

The doctor scrubbed his white hair, saying:

“Has he had the combination?” “Yes.”

“You may have left mixing it to the women?”

“On the contrary, I myself have mixed it. Come with me.”

As the physician and ‘Abd al-Husayn intended to enter the alley, they heard a loud wailing raised from al-Sayyid’s house, mixed with Allah’s verses. The grieved son rushed to throw himself upon the laid body, while the Qur’anic verses were loudly recited holding with them the pure spirit up toward the Malakut (Sovereign Power).