The Martyrs Of Karbala

Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
This and the next two articles have been taken from The Light (Dar-es-Salaam) vol. XI No. 6 (1977) and vol. XIV No. 2 (1980).


This article, giving list of, and some details about, the martyrs of Karbala, is based on Ibsaru ’l- ‘Ain of Shaykh Muhammad as-Samawi, Bihar Al-Anwar of ‘Allamah Majlisi, Manaqib of Ibn Shahr ‘Ashub and Muntaha ’l- ‘Amal of Shaykh ‘Abbas Qummi. This list includes those martyrs also who sacrificed their lives for Imam Husayn (peace be upon him) in Kufa and Basrah shortly before or after the tragedy of Karbala.

Banu Hashim

All the martyrs of Banu Hashim should more correctly be called Banu Abi Talib, because it was only the descendants of Abu Talib who gave their lives on the altar of Islam in Karbala; no other family from Banu Hashim participated in that supreme sacrifice (dhibh ‘azim). Various narratives put their number from seventeen to thirty. A more reliable list would be as follows:

A) Children of Amiru ’l-Mu‘minin ‘Ali (a.s.):

1. Imam Husayn (a.s.).
2. ‘Abbas.
3. ‘Uthman.
4. Ja‘far.
5. ‘Abdullah.
6. Ibrahim.
7. ‘Umar. (His case is doubtful.)
8. Muhammad al-Asghar. (Another tradition says that he was sick and was not martyred.)

B) Children of Imam Hasan (a.s.):
1. Ahmad (Abu Bakr).
2. ‘Abdullah.
3. Qasim.
4. Hasan Muthanna was seriously wounded but later recovered.

C) Children of Imam Husayn (a.s.):
1. ‘Ali al-Akbar.
2. ‘Ali al-Asghar (‘Abdullah ar-Radhi’).

D) Children and grandchildren of ‘Aqil:
1. Muslim bin ‘Aqil (martyred at Kufa).
2. Ja‘far bin ‘Aqil.
3. ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman bin ‘Aqil.
4. Muhammad (or Abu ‘Ubaydullah) bin Muslim bin ‘Aqil.
5. ‘Abullah bin Muslim.
6. Ja‘far bin Muhammad bin ‘Aqil.
7. Muhammad bin Abi Sa‘id bin ‘Aqil.

Other two children of Muslim bin ‘Aqil were martyred at Kufa one year after Karbala; and no one remained alive from the progeny of ‘Aqil.

E) Grandchildren of Ja‘far at- Tayyar:
1. ‘Awn bin ‘Abdullah bin Ja‘far.
2. Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Ja‘far.
3. ‘Ubaydullah bin ‘Abdullah bin Ja‘far. (His case is doubtful.)


Five companions (sahabah) of the Holy Prophet sacrificed their lives to help Imam Husayn (a.s.). They are:

1. Anas bin Harth al-Kahili.

2. Habib bin Muzahir.

3. Muslim bin ‘Awsajah.

4. Hani bin ‘Urwah al-Muradi, (age: more than 80 years; martyred at Kufa).

5. ‘Abdullah bin Yaqtur, (a foster-brother of Imam Husayn; martyred at Kufa).


Sixteen slaves or ex-slaves attained the glory of martyrdom with Imam Husayn (a.s.). Their names are:-
1. Nasr bin Abi Naizar (ex-slave of Imam ‘Ali).
2. Sa‘d bin Harth (ex-slave of Imam ‘Ali).
3. Munjih bin Sahm (ex-slave of Imam Hasan).
4. Aslam bin ‘Amr (ex-slave of Imam Husayn).
5. Qarib bin ‘Abdullah Du‘ali (ex-slave of Imam Husayn).
6. Harth bin Nabhan (ex-slave of Hamzah).
7. John bin Huwai (ex-slave of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari).
8. Sa‘id or Sa‘d (slave of ‘Umar bin Khalid as-Saidawi).
9. Nafi‘ or Rafi‘ (slave of Muslim Azdi).
10. Salim (slave of Bani Madaniyyah al-Kalbi).
11. Salim (slave of ‘Amir al-‘Abdi).
12. Shawdhab (ex-slave of Shabib ash-Shakiri).
13. Shabib (slave of Harth Jabiri).
14. Wadhih (slave of Harth Salmami).
15. Sulayman (ex-slave of Imam Husayn. He was martyred in Basrah.)
16. Zahir bin ‘Amr (ex-slave of ‘Amr bin al-Humuq al-Khuza‘i).

Martyred after Imam Husayn

Four persons were martyred in Karbala after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.). They were:-

1. Suwayd bin ‘Amr bin Abi ’l-Muta‘. He was unconscious having been fatally wounded at Karbala. When the din of jubilations of Yazid’s army, mingled with the cries of the family of Imam Husayn reached his ears, he regained consciousness. He had hidden a knife in his socks. With it he attacked the enemy and was killed.

2. Muhammad bin Abi Sa‘id bin ‘Aqil. This innocent child was a nephew of Muslim bin ‘Aqil. After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn when he saw the the women crying, he took a stick in his hand and came out of the tent, looking to right and left nervously. Laqit al-Juhani mercilessly killed him then and there. His name has already been mentioned in I.

3. Sa‘d bin Harth;

4. and his brother ‘Abdu ’l-Hatuff. They were in the army of Yazid. When the Imam was beheaded and they heard the anguished cries of the family of the Imam, suddenly the spark of faith came to life in their hearts and they attacked their own army. They faught bravely and were killed.

Wounded and Died Afterwards

Three helpers of the Imam were seriously wounded and afterwards succumbed to death. They were:-

1. Sawwar bin Mun‘im Abi ‘Umayr an-Nahm. He was seriously wounded in the first attack and died as a result of those wounds within six months.

2. Muwaqqa‘ bin Thamamah. He was also wounded seriously and then arrested. He died by end of the year.

3. ‘Amr bin ‘Abdullah al-Hamadani al-Jundu‘iy. He fell on the ground seriously wounded, again was struck on head by a sword. His tribemen took him away but he could not recover and died by end of the year.

With Family

Apart from the Banu Hashim, only three companions of Imam Husayn had come to Karbala with their families:-
1. Junadah bin Harth Salmani: He and his family remained with the Imam. When he was martyred, his widow told her child, ‘Amr, to go and sacrifice his life for the Imam. The Imam refused to allow him to fight, saying: “His father has just been killed in this battle; his mother, perhaps, would not like to part with her son also.” The child answered: “But it is my mother who has sent me to fight.” In the end, he also laid his life in the way of Allah.

2. Wahab bin ‘Abdullah al-Kalbi. He had accompanied the Imam from Bi‘r Jud. His mother and wife were with him. When he was fighting, his mother was there to exhort him to do his best. When he was killed, his wife went to his side and she was also killed. She was the only woman martyr of Karbala.

3. Muslim bin ‘Awsajah. He also came to the Imam with his family. When he was martyred, his maid rushed out from the tent, crying “Oh Muslim!” (See II)

Fathers and Sons

Five martyrs were killed in Karbala together with their sons:-

1. Imam Husayn (a.s.) with his sons, ‘Ali al-Akbar and ‘Ali al-Asghar (‘Abdullah). (See I)

2. Junadah bin Harth Salmani with his son, ‘Amr. (See VI)

3. Zayd (or Yazid) bin Thubayt al-Qaysi al-Basri, with his sons, ‘Abdullah and ‘Ubaydullah.

4. ‘Abdullah al-‘A’idhi with his son, Mujamma‘.

5. Mas‘ud bin Hajjaj with his son, ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman.

6. ‘Amr bin Khalid as-Saydawi with his son, Khalid.

There was one martyr whose father had sacrificed his life helping the father of Imam Husayn. He was ‘Ammar son of Hasan bin Shurayh at- Ta‘i. His father was among the martyr of Siffin.

There were also two martyrs whose father was martyred in Kufa in the cause of Imam Husayn. They were ‘Abdullah and Muhammad, sons of Muslim bin ‘Aqil. (Muslim’s two other sons were arrested after Karbala and were killed one year later.)


There were many martyrs in Karbala who were killed with their brothers:-

1-7. Imam Husayn and his six brothers: ‘Abbas, ‘Uthman, Ja‘far, ‘Abdullah al-Akbar, Muhammad (who is known as Abu Bakr) and Ibrahim.
8-9. ‘Ali al-Akbar and ‘Ali al-Asghar (‘Abdullah), sons of Imam Husayn.
10-12. Qasim and his two brothers, Ahmad (Abu Bakr) and ‘Abdullah, sons of Imam Hasan.
13-15. Muslim and his two brothers, ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman and Ja‘far, sons of ‘Aqil.
16-17. ‘Awn and Muhammad, sons of ‘Abdullah bin Ja‘far. (All the above names were mentioned in I.)
18-20. Qasit, Kurdus (or Karsh) and Muqsit, sons of Zahir (or Zuhayr) at-Taghlibi.
21-22. ‘Abdullah and ‘Ubaydullah, sons Zayd (or Yazid) bin Thubayt al-Qaysi. (See VII)
23-24. ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman, sons of ‘Urwah bin Hiraq al-Ghifari.
25-26. Nu‘man and Julas (or Hulas), sons of ‘Amr ar-Rasibi.
27-28. Sa‘d and his brother ‘Abdu ’l-Hatuff, sons of Harth al-Ansari. (See IV)
29-30. Malik and Sayf Jabiri. (There were half-brothers.)

Other Martyrs

So far, names of about eighty martyrs have been enumerated. Now, the names of remaining martyrs are given in order of the Arabic alphabets. This list is based on Ziyarat an-Nahiyah and other traditions:-

1. Aslam bin Kuthayr al-Azdi.
2. Bishr bin ‘Umar al-Hadhrami.
3. Jabalah bin ‘Ali ash-Shaybani.
4. Jundab bin Hijr al-Khawlani.
5. Hubab bin Harith as-Salmani al-Azdi.
6. Hajjaj bin Masruq al-Ju‘fi.
7. Hajjaj bin Zayd Sa‘di.
8. Hurr bin Yazid ar-Riyahi.
9. Handhalah bin Sa‘d (or As‘ad) ash-Shabami (or ash-Shaybani).
10. Huwai bin Malik adh-Dhabu‘i.
11. Zuhayr bin Bishr al-Khath‘ami.
12. Zuhayr bin Sulaym al-Azdi.
13. Zuhayr bin Qayn al-Bajalli.
14. Zayd bin Ma‘qil al-Ju‘fi.
15. Sa‘d bin ‘Abdullah al-Hanafi.
16. Sayf bin ‘Abdullah bin Malik.
17. Shabib bin al-Harith bin Sari’.
18. Shabib bin ‘Abdullah an-Nahshali.
19. Dirghamah bin Malik.
20. ‘Abis bin Abi Shabib ash-Shakiri.
21. ‘Amir bin Muslim.
22. ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman bin ‘Abdullah bin al-Kudar al-Arhabi.
23. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umayr al-Kalbi.
24. ‘Ammar bin Abi Salamah al-Hamdani.
25. ‘Ammar bin Hasan bin Shurayh at- Ta‘i.
26. ‘Amr bin Dhubai‘ah Dhubu’i.
27. ‘Amr bin Qarazah al-Ansari.
28. ‘Amr bin Khalid as-Saydawi.
29. ‘Umar bin Jundab al-Hadhrami.
30. (Abu Thamamah) ‘Umar bin ‘Abdullah as-Sa’idi (as-Saydawi).
31. ‘Imran bin Ka’b bin Harith al-Ashja‘i.
32. Qasim bin Habib al-Azdi.
33. Qa‘nab bin ‘Amr at-Tamri.
34. Qays bin Mushir as-Saydawi (martyred at Basrah).
35. Kananah bin ‘Atiq.
36. Malik bin ‘Abd bin Sari’.
37. Nafi‘ bin Hilal bin Nafi‘ al-Bajalli (or al-Jamali).
38. Nu‘man bin ‘Ajlan al-Ansari.
39. Yazid bin Hasin al-Hamdani.
40. Yazid bin Ziyad bin Muhasir al-Kindi.
41. Adham bin Umayyah.
42. Umayyah bin Sa‘d at- Ta‘i.
43. Bakr bin Hai at-Taymi.
44. Hajjaj bin Badr Basri.
45. Sayf bin ‘Abdullah al-‘Abdi.
46. ‘Abdullah bin Bishr.

In this way we get a golden roll of about 120 martyrs who sacrificed their lives “in the way of Allah”, in the battle of Karbala or shortly before or after that supreme encounter between Iman and kufr.

Their sacrifice is unique in the history; their devotion to Islam and their loyalty to Imam Husayn (a.s.) were unparalleled. Our words cannot do justice to their pristine faith and sincere deeds. It was left to Imam Husayn to appreciate their faith and loyalty in these words: “By Allah, I do not find a family of any prophet or his successor having more filial piety than my family-members; nor companions of any prophet or his successor more loyal than my companions.”

With humility and reverence, we salute them, as we have been taught by our Imams:-

Peace be upon you, O saints of Allah and His beloved ones; Peace be upon you, O chosen ones of Allah, and His dear ones; Peace be upon you, O helpers of the religion of Allah;

Peace be upon you, O helpers of the Messenger of Allah; Peace be upon you, O helpers of the Commander of the faithfuls; Peace be upon you, O helpers of Fatimah az-Zahra’, the lady of the woman of the worlds;

Peace be upon you, O helpers of Abu Muhammad, Hasan bin ‘Ali, the friend of Allah, the pure, the sincere;

Peace be upon you, O helpers of Abu ‘Abdillah (al-Husayn); May my father and mother be your ransom;

Pure and clean were you, and pure and clean became the earth wherein you are buried;

You achieved the great success;

Would Allah I had been with you to share the success with you.

Now we would like to mention two things which may be of interest to our readers.

The Martyrs of the First Attack

The following companions of Imam Husayn (a.s.) were martyred when the army of Yazid, sometime after the encounter had begun, attacked with full force, abandoning the Arab custom of individual encounters: -

1. Adham bin Umayyah.
2. Aslam bin ‘Amr.
3. Umayyah bin Sa‘d at- Ta‘i.
4. Bishr bin ‘Umar al-Hadhrami.
5. Bakr bin Hai at-Taymi.
6. Jabalah bin ‘Ali ash-Shaybani.
7. Julas (or Hulas) bin ‘Amr ar-Rasibi.
8. Junadah bin Ka‘b (see VI)
9. Jundab bin Hijr (or Hujayr) al-Khawlani.
10. Juwayn bin Malik at-Taymi (or Dhabu‘i?).
11. Habab bin ‘Amir at-Taymi (?).
12. Hajjaj bin Badr Basri.
13. Hubab bin Harith
14. Handhalah bin ‘Amr (or Sa‘d) ash-Shabami.
15. Zahir bin ‘Amr.
16. Zahir, slave of ‘Amr bin al-Humuq al-Khuza‘i.
17. Zuhayr bin Bishr (or Bashir) al-Khath‘ami.
18. Zuhayr bin Sulaym.
19. Salim bin ‘Amr.
20. Sa‘d bin Harth.
21. Sayf bin ‘Abdullah al-‘Abdi.
22. Sulayman.
23. Sawwar bin Abi ‘Umayr an-Nahmi; (according to other traditions he was wounded and died withith six months). See V.
24. Sayf bin Malik an-Namiri.
25. Dhirghamah bin Malik at-Taghlabi.
26. ‘Amir bin Muslim al-‘Abdi.
27. ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman al-Arhabi.
28. ‘Abdullah bin Zayd (or Yazid) al-Basri.
29. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Urwah al-Ghifari.
30. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umayr.
31. ‘Ayidh bin Mujamma’ bin ‘Abdullah al-‘Ayidhi (doubtful).
32. ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman bin Mas‘ud bin Hajjaj at-Taymi.
33. ‘Abdullah bin Bishr.
34. ‘Amr bin Dhubi‘a bin Qays Dhubu’i.
35. ‘Ubaydullah bin Zayd (or Yazid) al-Basri.
36. ‘Ammar bin Abi Salmah ad-Dalani.
37. ‘Ammar bin Hasan bin Shurayh at- Ta‘i.
38. ‘Amr Junda‘i.
39. ‘Amr bin Mushi‘a.
40. ‘Imran bin Ka‘b bin Harith Ashja‘i.
41. Qarib bin ‘Abdullah.
42. Qasim bin Habib al-Azdi.
43. Qa‘nab bin ‘Amr an-Namri.
44. Qasit bin Zahir (or Zuhayr).
45. Kananah bin ‘Atiq at-Taghlibi.
46. Mujamma’ ‘A’idhi.
47. Mas‘ud bin Hajjaj.
48. Muslim bin Kathir.
49. Munjih bin Sahm.
50. Muqist bin Zuhayr at-Taghlabi.
51. Nasr bin Abi Naizar.
52. Nu’man bin ‘Amr ar-Rasibi.
53. Nu’aym bin ‘Ajlan al-Ansari.
54. Yazid bin Thubayt.
55. (Abu ‘Amr) Ziyad bin Gharib al-Hanzali.
56-61. Six slaves of Imam Husayn (a.s.).

Heads of the Martyrs

‘Umar bin Sa‘d, the commander of Yazid’s army, sent the head of Imam Husayn (a.s.) to Kufa the day of ‘Ashurah with Khawli and Hamid bin Muslim. Then other martyrs were beheaded and the heads were sent with Shimr bin Dhi ’1-Jawshan.

According to Muhammad bin Abi Talib, the heads were divided among various tribes in the army of Yazid, so that they might get rewards and appreciation from Ibn Ziyad and Yazid. So far as it is known, the following tribes got the heads as follows: Kinda (13); Hawazin (12 or 20); Tamim (17 or 19); Asad (16 or 9); Madhhij (7); other tribes (13).

The author of Ibsaru ’l- ‘Ain says that heads of all the martyrs were severed, except the head of the infant child of the Imam, because the Imam had buried him in a grave dug by his sword; also, the body of Hurr was not beheaded because his tribemen (Banu Tamim) objected and removed his body far from other martyrs.

The heads of Muslim bin ‘Aqil and Hani bin ‘Urwah were sent to Syria before the heads of the martyrs of Karbala reached Kufa.