Historians record that the Master of Martyrs (‘a) set up a tent on the battlefield,1 ordering those killed from among his companions and Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to be carried to it.
Whenever a fresh martyr was brought, he (‘a), would say, “You have been killed just as the prophets and the families of prophets are killed.”2 He did so to everyone with the exception of his brother Abul-Fadl al-’Abbas (‘a), whom he left where he fell near the riverbank of the Euphrates.3
When ‘Umar Ibn Sa’d accompanied those whom he arrested of the custodians of the Message and left for Kufa, he left behind those who were described by the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) as the masters of martyrs in the life of this world and in the hereafter, an honour to which nobody ever preceded nor will anyone succeed them,4 lying on the sands incinerated by the sun and sought by the wild beasts of the desert.
Among them was the Master of the Youths of Paradise who was in a condition that would split the hardest of the stones, yet divine lights were emanating from his corpse, and sweet scents were surrounding him from all directions.
A man belonging to Banu Asad has narrated the following:
“Once the army had left, I came to the battlefield and saw light emanating from those corpses that were covered with blood yet smelled sweet scents.
I saw a terrifying lion walking between the amputated parts till he reached the Embodiment of Sanctity and the Sacrifice of Guidance. He rubbed himself on his blood and rubbed his body on his as he kept muttering and letting out a very strange sound. I was amazed. Never have I ever seen such a fierce lion abandon what would be for his likes nothing but a meal.
I hid among the marshes and kept watching to see what else he would do. I was more amazed when midnight came. It was then that I saw candles and heard voices that filled the earth with painful cries and wailing.”5
On the thirteenth day of Muharram, Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) came to bury his martyred father (‘a), since only an Imam buries another Imam.6
This brings to memory a dialogue that once took place between Imam [‘Ali son of Musa] al-Riďa (‘a) and ‘Ali Ibn Abu Hamzah. The Imam [by way of testing the veracity of the man] (‘a) was asked, “Tell me: Was al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (‘a) an Imam?”
He (‘a) answered in the affirmative. The Imam (‘a) was again asked, “If so, then who took care of burying him?” ‘Ali (‘a) said, “‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn al-Sajjad (‘a) did.” Imam al-Riďa (‘a) in turn asked him, “But where was ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn at the time?”
‘Ali Ibn Abu Hamzah said, “He was jailed at Kufa inside Ibn Ziyad's prison, but he came out without their knowledge in order to bury his father then returned to the prison once he was through”
Imam al-Riďa (‘a) said, “Then the One Who enabled ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn (‘a) to go to Karbala’ in order to take care of his [slain] father then return is the same One Who will enable the person entrusted with a similar task [meaning himself] to go to Baghdad [from Khurasan, northeast Iran] in order to take care of his father, and he is neither jailed nor confined.”
When al-Sajjad (‘a) came to the place, he saw Banu Asad assembled around the slain not knowing what to do. They could not identify the corpses especially since their killers had separated the heads from the bodies. Had it been otherwise, they could have inquired about them with the families and the tribes of those slain.
But he (‘a), informed them that it was his task to bury those pure bodies. He informed them of the names of the slain, identifying those who belonged to Banu Hashim from the rest. Crying and wailing rose, and tears filled the eyes of everyone present there and then. The ladies of Banu Asad loosened their hair in grief and beat their cheeks.
Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) walked to his father's body, hugged it and wept loudly. Then he came to the gravesite and lifted a handful of its soil. A grave already dug appeared, and so did a pre-constructed shrine...
He placed his hands under the Imam's back and said, “In the Name of Allah, and according to the creed of the Messenger of Allah Allah has said the truth, and so has His Messenger (S). The will of Allah be done; there is no power nor might except in Allah, the Great.”
Then he took it and went down without being assisted by anyone from among the Banu Asad to whom he said, “I have with me someone who will assist me.”
Once he laid it down in the grave, he put his cheek on his father's sacred neck and said, “Congratulations to the land that contains your pure body, for the world after you is dark whereas the hereafter in your light shall shine.
As to the night, it is the harbinger of sleep, while grief remains forever, for Allah shall choose for your Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) your abode wherein you shall abide. From me to you is Salam, O son of the Messenger of Allah, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”
On the grave he wrote: “This is the grave of al-Husayn son of ‘Ali son of Abu Talib, the one whom they killed even as he was a thirsty stranger.” Then he walked to the body of his uncle, al-’Abbas (‘a), and he saw him in a condition that had left the angels in the heavens' strata baffled and caused the huris to weep even as they were in the chambers of Paradise
. He fell upon it kissing his sacred neck and saying, “May the world after you be obliterated, O moon of Banu Hashim, and peace from me to you, O martyr, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”
He dug a grave for him and took him down in it by himself just as he had done to the corpse of his martyred father (‘a). He said to Banu Asad, “There is someone with me to help me.”
Yes, he gave a piece of jewelry to Banu Asad as a token of appreciation for consoling him in burying the martyrs, and he assigned for them two places, ordering them to dig two pits in the first of which he buried those slain from Banu Hashim and in the second those slain from among their companions.7
As regarding al-Hurr al-Riyahi, his corpse was taken away by his tribe that buried it where it now stands. It is said that his mother was present then and there, and when she saw what was being done to the corpses, she carried her son's corpse somewhere else.8
The closest in proximity to the grave of al-Husayn (‘a) from among the martyrs is his son ‘Ali al-Akbar (‘a).
In this regard, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) says to Hammad al-Basri, “The father of ‘Abdullah was killed as a stranger, away from home; he is mourned be whoever visits his gravesite, and whoever does not visit it grieves for him; whoever does not see him is very depressed on account of being deprived of doing so, therefore he grieves; whoever sees the grave of his son at his feet in a desolate land, far away from his kin, invokes Allah's mercy for him because of the fact that he was not supported when he called upon people to uphold righteousness, and because the renegades assisted one another against him till they killed him and did not have any respect for him, so much so that they exposed his corpse to the wild beasts and prohibited him from drinking of the water of the Euphrates of which the dogs drink.
They disregarded their obligations in his regard towards the Messenger of Allah (S) who had enjoined them to be kind to him and to his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). He was abandoned in his grave, slain among his kinsfolk and Shi’as.
In loneliness, being near his grave removes the pain of loneliness and so is his being distant from his grandfather (S) and from the house which none could enter except those whose conviction of heart Allah tested, and by those who recognize our rights.
My father has told me that since he was killed, his place has never been empty of those who bless him from among the angels, the jinns, mankind, and even the wild beasts. Whoever visits it is envied and is rubbed for blessing, and looking at his grave is done in anticipation of earning goodness.
Allah boasts to the angels of those who visit it. As far as what such pilgrim receives from us, we invoke Allah's mercy for him every morning and every evening. It has come to my knowledge that some Kufians as well as others in Kufa's outskirts pay it a visit in the eve of the middle of Sha’ban. They recite the Holy Qur’an; they narrate his story; they mourn him, and women eulogize him while others compose their own eulogies.”
Hammad said to the Imam (‘a), “I have personally witnessed some of what you have just described.” The Imam (‘a), then said, “Praise to Allah Who has made some people come to us, praise us, and mourn us, and praised is He for making our enemy shame them for doing so, threaten them, and describe what they do as ugly.”9
- 1. al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 6, p. 256. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil, Vol. 4, p. 30. al-Mufid, Al-Irshad.
- 2. This is narrated on p. 211, Vol. 10, and p. 125, Vol. 13, of al-Majlisi's Bihar al-Anwar where al-Nu’mani's book Al-Ghayba is cited.
- 3. This is what a group of historians have recorded. Refer to p. 115 of my book Qamar Bani Hashim (Hayderi Press edition, Najaf).
- 4. Ibn Qawlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 219.
- 5. Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, Madinat al-Ma’ajiz, p. 263, chapter 127.
- 6. al-Mas’udi, Ithbat al-Wasiyya, p. 173. On p. 402 of my book Zayn al-’Abidin, I quoted the traditions proving that an Imam is not buried except by another Imam. Traditions do not reveal such a safeguarded mystery. Perhaps it is to be understood that the corpse of an infallible person, when journeying to the Supreme One, at the termination of his earthly life, is granted certain privileges such as nobody can come close to it unless he is one of his status. A case in point is how one particular person came close to the Seat of Divinity two bow's throw or even closer, arriving at a station from which even the Trusted One (Gabriel) kept his distance, leaving the Prophet (S) alone in the oceans of the divine domain. A claim put forth with regard to our Imams is not out of the ordinary, especially since, in all reality, they were created of the same substance [noor] from which Muhammad (S) was created.
They shared all the merits of their grandfather with the exception of Prophethood and consorts. Such is stated on p. 22 of Sulayman al-Hilli's book Al-Muhtadir (Najafi edition). Such mysteries cannot be realized by a human mind, and there is no way to deny them just because we cannot fully comprehend them unless they reach the limit of impossibility. Authentic traditions have stated that there are many unusual situations which surround the Imams (‘a), situations which other humans cannot emulate, such as bringing the dead back to life in the latter's original physical forms, their ability to see one another [despite the distance that separates them or the time], their bodies ascending to heavens, and their listening to the greetings of those who visit their gravesites.
All of this is endorsed by our mentor, al-Mufid, as stated on p. 84 of Al-Maqalat (Tehran edition), by al-Karakji in his book Kanz al-Fawa’id, by al-Majlisi on p. 373, Vol. 1, of his book Mir’at al-’Uqul, by Kashif al-Ghiťa’ on p. 51 of his book Manhaj al-Rashad, and by al-Nawari on p. 289, Vol. 1, of his book Dar al-Salam.
- 7. See Al-Kibrit al-Ahmar (of Shaikh Muhammad Baqir al-Birjandi al-Safi), Asrar al-Shahada (of Sayyid Kaďim al-Rashti al-Ha’iri), and Al-Iyqad.
- 8. Shaikh Muhammad Baqir al-Birjandi al-Safi, Al-Kibrit al-Ahmar. On p. 344 of his book Al-Anwar al-Nu’maniyya, Sayyid al-Jaza’iri cites testimonials to this statement. He, for example, details how [sultan] Isma’il al-Safawi [founder of the Safavid dynasty who lived from 904 - 930 A.H./1499 - 1524 A.D. and ruled Iran from 907 - 930 A.H./1502 - 1524 A.D... N. Tr.] dug up the place, whereupon he saw the deceased as though he had just been killed, and there was a bandage on his head.
Once he untied it, blood started pouring out, and the bleeding did not stop till he tied it back again.
He built a dome above the grave and assigned someone to tend to it. So, when al-Nawari, in his book Al-Lulu’ wal Marjan, denies that he had been buried, he did not support his denial with any evidence.
On p. 37, Vol. 1, of Tuhfat al-’Alim, Sayyid Ja’far Bahr al-’Ulum states that Hamad-Allah al-Mustawfi has indicated in his book Nuzhat al-Qulub saying that there is in Karbala’ the grave of al-Hurr [al-Riyahi] which is visited by people. He is the latter's grandfather up to 18 generations back. One of them used to say:
Point out to the Hurr and see,
How doing so suffices every man free.
The authority Sayyid Muhammad al-Qazwini responded to him with these verses:
Visit the Hurr, the martyr, and do not delay,
The first of the martyrs should you his visit pay;
Do not hear one who calls and does say
Point out to the Hurr then a salutation pay.
- 9. Ibn Qawlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 325. al-Majlisi, Mazar al-Bihar, p. 124, citing the previous reference.
- 10. This poem was composed by Sayyid Hayder al-Hilli, may Allah enlighten his mausoleum.