Exegesis of Ziyarat-e-Naahiyah

(Continued from the previous issue Almuntazar Muharram issue)

“Peace be upon the one who settled at Karbala”

The holy and blessed land of Karbala needs no introduction. Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) has devoted an entire chapter in his magnum opus “Behaarul Anwaar” (vol. 101, p. 106) to Karbala and named it  “The chapter on the excellence of Karbala and residing in it.” Let us very briefly go through a few traditions from this chapter.

1)    Safwaane Jammaal narrates that I heard Hazrat Abu Abdillah Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) say:

“Certainly Allah, Blessed and High Be He, has granted excellence to some lands and water bodies (i.e. oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, wells, etc.) over some others. Then some of these expressed pride and arrogance while some others rebelled. Hence, every land and water which renounced humility and modesty was punished to the extent that Allah caused the Holy Kaaba to be overpowered by the polytheists and made the water of Zamzam salty such that its sweetness completely vanished. And certainly, the land of Karbala and the river Euphrates (Furaat) were the first land and water body respectively which Allah – Blessed and High Be He – considered holy and blessed. Then He ordered it: Speak of whatever excellence Allah has bestowed you with. Then it replied, when all the lands and waters were boasting over each other, then Karbala said – I am the sacred and blessed land of Allah. There is cure in my soil and water. But I do not pride over this. Rather I am humbled and feel ordinary in front of the One who has bestowed me with this excellence. I do not pride over others either. On the contrary, I am thankful to Allah. Due to its humility and expressing gratefulness to Allah, He increased its honour and sanctity through Imam Husain (a.s.) and his (a.s.) companions. Then Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: Allah elevates the one who is humble before Him and degrades the one who are proud.” 

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 109, H. 17 narrating from Kamil-uz-Ziyaraat by Ibn Qulawayh (r.a.)]

2)    Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:

“Allah, Blessed and High Be He, created the land of Karbala twenty four thousand years before He created the Holy Kaaba and blessed it with honour and sanctity. This land (Karbala) was blessed and sanctified before the creation of anyone and will remain so always such that Allah will make it the best land and the best abode in Paradise where Allah shall make His friends reside.”

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 107, H. 5]

3)    In another tradition, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:

“When the land of the Holy Kaaba expressed pride and arrogance for the fact that the House of Allah was built on it then Allah revealed to it: Be quiet! If it was not for the soil of Karbala, I would have not honoured you and if it was not for the one whom Karbala has embraced in its arms, I would have neither created you nor this house (Holy Kaaba) about which you feel so proud. Hence, be humble, lowly, modest and obedient like the land of Karbala and never be proud or arrogant or else you shall be destroyed and burnt in the Hell-fire.”

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 106-107, H. 3]

The author of Tafseer-e-Mizaan (a.s.) Allamah Syed Mohammad Husain Tabatabai (may Allah elevate his status) has recited a beautiful couplet of Allamah Bahrul Uloom (r.a.) at Karbala, the meaning of which is

From the conversation between Karbala and Kaaba The high status of Karbala is evident

4)    Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) said:

“Perform the ziyarat of Karbala and never neglect it… there is not a night which passes except that Jibraeel (a.s.) and Mikaeel (a.s.) do not go for the visitation (ziyarat) of Imam Husain (a.s.)”

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 109, H. 16]

This topic is very vast and it is not possible to discuss all its facets in this article. Those who are interested in its deep study can refer to  Behaarul Anwaar, Kamil-uz-Ziyaraat, books on Maqtal and Al Qaem Al Muntazar (Muharram special issue).

“Peace be upon the one for whom the angels of the sky wept.”

The word ‘bakat’ is a verb, the root of which is ‘b-k-y’ and the infinitive is ‘bukaa’ meaning ‘to cry’. It is the fourth seegha of past tense and due to ilteqa-e-sakinain (combining of two sakin alphabets) the ‘y’ is dropped. It is feminine because ‘malaeka’ which is the ‘Jam’-e- Mukassar’ (plural) of the word ‘malak’ is the doer of the action. ‘Malak’ means angel and ‘malaeka’ implies many angels. In the light of reliable traditions which both Shia and Sunni scholars have narrated the angels of the sky, wild animals, birds, fishes in the seas and every human being whose heart is alive weeps for Imam Husain (a.s.). Indeed, the one who does not cry for Imam Husain (a.s.) is worse than an animal and his heart is insensitive.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says,

“Perform the ziyarat of Imam Husain (a.s.) even if it is every year… indeed Allah has appointed four thousand angels at the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) who cry for him (a.s.) and accompany whoever comes to visit him (a.s.) till such time that the visitor does not return to his family. If the visitor falls ill then they (the angels) attend to him and if he dies then they participate in his funeral. They pray for his forgiveness and mercy.”

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 2, H. 3]

In another tradition, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) asked Sadeer:

“O Sadeer! Do you visit the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.) daily? I said: No. Imam (a.s.) replied: You have not fulfilled the right of our love. Do you visit him (a.s.) on Fridays? I said: No. Do you visit him (a.s.) once a month? I said: No. Do you visit him (a.s.) once a year? I said: Yes, sometimes. Then Imam (a.s.) replied: O Sadeer! You have been cruel to Imam Husain (a.s.). Do you not know that there are one thousand angels of Allah who visit the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.) while their wings are scattered, throwing mud on their heads, lamenting, reciting eulogies. Neither do they feel tired nor do they stop. The reward of their weeping is given to the visitor of Imam Husain (a.s.).”

[Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 6, H. 24]

“Peace be upon the one who has a chaste  progeny.”

‘Zurriyat’ implies children. Actually, small children are called ‘zurriyat’ but in common parlance it is used for all children (whether they are big or small). Although it is a plural word but its use is appropriate for both singular and plural. Terminologically, three views concerning the meaning of ‘zurriyat’ are found:

(1)  It is derived from ‘zar’un’ which means ‘to give birth’ and ‘to spread’. Its ‘hamzah’ is bearing a ‘harkat’ like in the case of ‘rawaiyyah’ and ‘bariyyah’.

(2)  Its original word is ‘zurwiyah’.

(3)  ‘Zarrun’ which means ‘to disperse’ and is on the scale of ‘fu’liyyah’ like ‘qumriyyah’. ‘Zurara’ and ‘zurriyaat’ are plural.


The second word is ‘al-azkiyaa’ which is the plural of ‘zaki’. ‘Zaki’ is ‘sifat-e-mushabbahatun bil fe’l’ as well as ‘seegha mubaligha’ (used for emphasis & exaggeration) and is on the scale of ‘fa’eel’. ‘Zaki’ means pure and untainted.

Pay attention to the sentence. Here, Imam-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.) is saying:

“All the children of Imam Husain (a.s.), small or big, are pure and chaste – right from Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) to Janabe Ali Asghar (a.s.). One can never imagine an iota of evil, sins and immorality – neither in their words, thoughts or deeds”

“Peace be upon the chiefs of the religion.”

‘Ya’soob’ is derived from the root word ‘a’-s-b’ and its meaning is ‘a chief’ and ‘a leader’. Here, Imam (a.s.) has been referred to as a chief and leader of religion’. There is no doubt that Imam (a.s.) is the leader of religion, faith and believers. This title was used for the very first time for Ameerul Momineen Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and thereafter for all the other Infallible Imams (a.s.).

“Peace be upon the shelter of the Proofs (of Allah).”

The word ‘manaazil’ is the plural of ‘manzil’ which means shelter, destination, resting place, etc. ‘Baraaheen’ is the plural of ‘burhaan’ which is derived from the root ‘b-r-h’ meaning proof and argument and is on the scale of ‘fu’laan’ like ’rujhaan’. Some interpret the meaning of this word as ‘white’ or ‘luminous’. ‘Burhaan’ is that proof which is the strongest among all proofs and always demands the truth. It should be known that any proof is of five types:

(1)  One which always demands the truth.

(2)  One which always demands falsehood.

(3)  One which is nearer to the truth.

(4)  One which is closer to falsehood.

(5)  One which demands truth and falsehood equally.

There is no scope for anything except the truth in the word ‘burhaan’. The Noble Quran has used this word on eight occasions. Rather, one of the blessed names of the Holy Quran is, ‘Burhaan’. Under the light of this discussion, the Ahle Bait (a.s.) have been referred to as ‘manaazilil baraaheen’ in this part of the ziyarat. It means that they are those holy personalities who have encompassed all the Divine proofs and arguments which are nothing but true, firm, unambiguous and radiant. They are the shelter and asylum of those proofs. In other words, if one wishes to distinguish between truth and falsehood and wants to establish the truth and overturn falsehood, then he should come to the door of Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.) and seek the truth from them. There is no alternative apart from this.

The Holy Quran says,

“And what is there after truth other than error.”

[Surah Yunus (10), verse 32]

“Peace be upon the Imams, the leaders (of mankind).”

The word ‘aimmah’ is the plural of ‘Imam’ and is on the scale of ‘af’ilah’ and ‘saadaat’ is the plural of ‘sayyid’. An ‘Imam’ is the one who is always in front and leads the way and a ‘sayyid’ is a chief and a master. Although it is not possible to discuss ‘Imam’ and ‘Imamate’, it would not be improper that if we briefly glance through the position of an Imam, the windows of its meanings and true recognition will be opened for us. Hence, as per the Shia viewpoint, Hazrat Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) says,

“Who is he that can recognize the Imam, or can possibly select him? It is very far from the truth (the ability to select an Imam). Intellects have gone astray, intelligence is confused, people are amazed, eyes have become dull and tired, the great ones have been humbled, the sagacious ones have become bewildered and bemused, the forbearing one  have lost patience, the orators have become speechless, the intelligent ones have become ignorant,  the poets have become dumbfounded, literateurs have become helpless, people of eloquence have turned wordless in  speaking about of the aspects of his (an Imam who is appointed by Allah) status or any virtue among his virtues. Instead they have all confessed their inability and inadequacy.”

[Al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 201]

When we go through the traditions of Ahle Bait (a.s.), we find that various ranks and grades have been attributed to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). All of them highlight the greatness of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a). There are traditions that speak about his physical appearance, spirituality, his conduct, description of his creation, beginning of the creation, his light creation, etc.  All of these attributes are applicable even for an Imam –  like his lineage, knowledge, divine leadership (from both creation and religious aspect), creation, birth, etc. To conclude the entire discussion, it must be necessarily said that had the Muslims acquired the correct and true recognition of the Infallible Imams (a.s.) especially that of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and his progeny, then neither the events at Saqifah nor the event of Karbala would have occurred. Islam and Muslims would have been respected everywhere and the religion and book of Allah would have ruled the world. But alas!!!

(To be continued Insha Allah in the next issue)