Al‑Asbagh b. Nubata

Al‑Asbagh b. Nubata is accredited with the first known account of the martyrdom of the Imam al‑Husayn.

He was a prominent member of the Shi’i community who came from Kufa. It is claimed that he was in charge of the shurta in Kufa for the Imam `Ali. He seems to have lived well into the second half of the 1st century. All and was contemporary with the events of the martyrdom1.

It seems that little or nothing of his work survives. However, Ibn al‑Kalbi (in al‑Tabaris version of his account) and al‑Mada'ini (as reported by Abu al‑Faraj) give reports emanating from his son al‑Qasim. These may, in fact, belong to his father's book.

The account from Ibn al‑Kalbi tells how when the Imam's camp was overrun, he attempted to reach the water and was stopped by a tribesman leading a group of his tribe. The Imam al‑Husayn calls on God to make him thirsty, and the tribesman's retort is to shoot an arrow into his throat. The Imam catches the blood with his hands after pulling the arrow out. The account then goes on to describe how that man suffered from an illness so that water would not quench his thirst, and eventually the amount he drank of it killed him2.

The second report tells of the sufferings of the killer of al‑‘Abbas b. Ali. This killer dreamed of being flung into hell, so that every night he woke up screaming3.

  • 1. Al‑Tusi, op. cit., pp. 62‑63; Ibn Hajar, Tadhib al‑Tahdhib.
  • 2. Al‑Tabari, op. cit., II, 361‑2.
  • 3. Abu al‑Faraj al‑Isfahani, Maqatil al‑ Talibiyyin (Najaf, 1965), pp. 78‑9.