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Sorrow and Grief for the Martyrs of Karbala – Al Lohuf

The heart-rending massacre of Karbala is invariably the centre of discussion in every Shia gathering and congregation. The incident has been a beacon of guidance and source of inspiration for the Shia society, not only for the past generations but will remain a guiding force for them in future too.

As Mir Babar Ali Anis appropriately said:

Every moment the grief of lord of the times will remain fresh,In every season, the garden of the pain will remain newThe pain has become an integral part of the Shia hearts,Whenever you see, the wound will remain fresh and bleeding.

The annals of history have never recorded an incident like that of Karbala and it will remain unparalleled in the world forever. Why’s and how’s of history is not the subject of our discussion. The answers to these can be found in various issues of Al-Muntazar where all these queries are dealt in detail. The primary objective of this article is introduction of a book, which is most indepth and comprehensive narrative on Karbala .

The name of the book is the purpose of the article. ‘Al-Lohuf ala Qatla al-Tofuf’ was written by renowned Shia scholar, Sayed Raziuddin Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Tawoos al-Hilli (r.a.) better known as Sayed Ibne Tawoos (r.a.). He expired in 664 hijri. Ibne- Tawoos (r.a.) was a top Shia scholar and thinker of the seventh century.

Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) belonged to the family of learned who wielded tremendous influence in the scientific, religious and political circles. However, two members of the family had an entirely distinct place in the whole of the clan.

Firstly, Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) himself, who wrote ‘Al-Lohuf’ and his younger brother Sayed Ahmed bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad Ibn Tawoos (r.a.), the author of ‘Tafsir Shawaahedul Quran’ who expired in 673 Hijri.

The lives of these two brothers were quite similar to the other two brothers of Islam – Sayed Murtuza (r.a.) and Sayed Razi (r.a.), who compiled and commented on the Nahjul Balagha.

They both were matchless and unbeatable in jurisprudential erudition, piety, leadership and literature.

In Shabaan 1426 Hijri issue of Al-Muntazar, a short biography of Ibn Tawoos (a.r.) was published which described the eminence of his family, his special relationship with Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.), his particular way of praying for Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) as also Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) special attention towards Ibne Tawoos (r.a.) under the article ‘Imam-e-Waqt and Ibn Tawoos’. Interested readers are requested to refer the article.

The Status of Al-Lohuf

Since the article is about the introduction of the book, we will have to first establish the significance of the book, the level of the book and its contents. There have been scores of Islamic subjects including history, Tafsire-Quran, jurisprudence, social topics, ethics, Ilm-e-Rejaal (science of narrators of tradition), etc.

Similarly there is one whole range of subjects around compiling Maqtal (accounts of Islamic battles) and the art of Maqtal writing. And the main focus of Maqaatil has always been the incident of Karbala . Muslims, especially Shiah writers, have understood the importance of the incident and have written books in about the tragedy of Karbala.

The incident, which shook the Islamic world in 61 Hijri, has seen a huge time lapse of over thirteen and half centuries yet seems as fresh as ever in the minds of the people in every age and time. The Maqaatil experts have been writing the incident in poem and prose forms since centuries. Invariably, Shiah speakers and orators conclude their speeches on the episodes of Karbala or the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). The basic sources for these speeches on narratives of Karbala are from books of Maqaatil and hence these books are of paramount importance in the Islamic world.

The Narrators of Maqaatil

The first Maqtal on Karbala citing details of the gallant battle of Imam Husain (a.s.) and his companions was the most authentic account of the incident, more so because of eye-witness account of the tragic happenings. These incidents were imprinted on the hearts of the people of that era. In fact soon after the tragic event of Karbala (and especially between 65 A.H. to 72 A. H, when Tawwabeen i.e. those who repented being part of inimical forces or silent spectators), the writing and recording of Maqaatil hit a crescendo.

Apart from these, the most authentic Maqaatil are the ones related by the family of Imam Husain (a.s.) which include his son Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.), his sisters, Janabe Zainab (s.a.), Janabe Umme Kulsum (s.a.), and his daughter, Janabe Sakina (s.a.) who were all present in Karbala and were held captives after? his martyrdom.

The true account of the Maqtal narrated by Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has the most heart-rending and painful effect on the minds of the readers, piercing deep into the sensitive hearts. The Maqtal of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) is simply matchless and remains far ahead of others in terms of expression of feelings and sentiments. For instance, the way Imam Sajjad (a.s.) said:

“I am the son of the one who was slain thirsty in the deserts of Karbala

Or at other place, Imam (a.s.) said:

“This is the grave of Husain who was killed thirsty”.

Or as he said when he entered Madinah after his return from captivity:

“O People! Verily all the praise belongs to Allah, who tried us with major calamity after the split in the Islamic Ummah. Abu Abdillah and his children were brutally massacred, his women were made captive and his holy head was raised on spears and taken around the cities. It has been such a grave tragedy the like of which can never be found anywhere.”

(al-Lohuf, Sayed Ibn Tawoos, p. 222)

Then Imam Sajjad (a.s.) made a remark which is capable of shaking the conscience of the enemies of Azadari and the opponents of mourning for Imam Husain (a.s.). Imam Sajjad (a.s.) had drawn attention towards the basic human instincts that cannot resist tears when faced with calamities. It’s a different point altogether that the supporters of Yazid try to downplay the whole issue under a different pretext.

Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:

“O People! Who amongst you will express elation after such an incident? Which heart will not feel sorrow after this? Which eyes will not weep at such a tragedy?”

(al-Lohuf, p. 222)

The Universe Mourns

After this Imam (a.s.) said:

“Then indeed the seven skies wept on his (Imam Husain) killing, the seas along with their lashing waves erupted into crying. The skies along with their pillars shed tears. The earth along with its elements, trees along with its branches, seas along with their waves and their inhabitants including fishes, the noble angels and the celestial residents, all mourned his martyrdom.”

(al-Lohuf, p. 222)

After the speeches of Imam Sajjad (a.s.), the elegies and lamentations of Janabe Zainab (s.a.) are most heart-rending and painful. Janabe Zainab (s.a.) cried on the corpse of Imam Husain (a.s.) in the following manner:

“O my grandfather Muhammad!……..
Your Husain is lying uncovered, in a pool of blood; his body mutilated and his limbs hacked. These are your daughters who have been made prisoners.”

(al-Lohuf, p. 150)

According to another version she says:

“O my grandfather Muhammad!
….this is your Husain lying uncovered and unclothed in the
desert of Karbala
….the winds are sprinkling dust on his corpse.”

(al-Lohuf, p. 150)

Similarly, the observations of Janabe Umme Kulsum (s.a.), Janabe Sakina (a.s.) and other eye witnesses are worth a mention. These eyewitness accounts can be seen in Lohuf.

The Second Group of Narrators

The second group of narrators was those who were neither eyewitness of the incident nor were they present in Karbala . However, historians and writers have recorded and related the incidents from their own channels of narrations and sources of research.

Late Allamah Tehrani (r.a.) in his renowned book Al-Zareeah Ilaa Tasaaneef al-Shiah, vol. 22, pp. 20-30 has mentioned 65 Maqaatil. In other volumes of the book, almost the same number of Maqaatil has been mentioned, which means only Shia scholars alone have compiled over 130 Maqaatil. But then this is the result of research of only Allamah Tehrani (r.a.). However, the exact number of Maqaatil is several times more than what Allamah Tehrani (r.a.) could enlist. The ardent devotees of Ahlebait (a.s.) have made some contribution in this field, even though it was to a limited extent.

Famous Maqaatil of Earlier Era

The incident of Karbala had occurred in the second half of the first century since the inception of Islam. The Maqaatil were being recorded soon after the incident and a slew of such Maqaatil were penned in a short period.

Some of them are mentioned below:

1)Maqtale Asbagh bin Nabata Majashaee: He was one of the special companions of Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.). He lived for over a hundred years.

2)Maqtale-Jabir bin Yazid Jofi (died 128 hijri). He has also written the Tafsir of Quran known as ‘Maruf’.

3)Maqtale Abi Mikhnaf Lut bin Yahya bin Saeed Azodi (died in 157 hijri).

4)Maqtale Nasr bin Muzahim al-Minqari bin Attar.

5)Maqtale Abu Ishaaq Ibrahim bin Ishaaq Nahaawandi, who belonged to the second century hijri.

6)Maqtale Ibn Ishaaq Thaqafi (283 A.H.).

7)Maqtale Yaqub well known as Ibne Waazeh. He has also written a book on history known as ‘Tarikh-e-Yaqubi’.

8)Maqtale Jaludi of Abdul Aziz bin Yahya Jaludi (died 332 A.H.). He has written several books and is popularly known among the scholars who have written books on Mukhtarnaama and Maqaatil.

9)Maqtal Shaikh Saduq (died 380 A.H.). Shaikh Saduq has mentioned this in his book ‘Al Khesaal’.

10)Maqtale Khaarazmi Muwaffaq bin Ahmed (died 468 A.H.). He has also written books on Fiqh and Traditions.

The Author of al-Lohuf

We had briefly mentioned about him in the beginning of this article. We will relate some more little known things about Sayed Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) here.

Sayed Ibn Tawoos had himself listed the names of the traditionalists and narrators who interacted with him and in the process benefited from his company. These include,

1)Shaikh Husain bin Muhammad Sorawi

2)Shaikh Abul Hasan bin Yahya al Hannaat

3)Shaikh Abu Saadaat Asad bin Abdul Qadir bin Isfahani

4)Shaikh Najeebuddin Ibne Numa

5)Sayed Shamsuddin Fakhkhaar bin Ma’ad Musavi

6)Shaikh Tajuddin Hasan bin Durrabi

The list of his students is equally long. Some of them are as follows:

1)Shaikh Sadidudeen bin Yusuf bin Ali bin Mazhar (father of Allamah Hilli (r.a.))

2)Shaikh Jamaluddin Yusuf bin Haatim Shaami

3)Jamaaluddin bin Hasan bin Yusuf bin Mazhar (better known as Allamah Hilli (r.a.))

4)Sayed Ghaayatuddin Abdul Karim bin Ahmed bin Tawoos

His Compilations:

Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) can be enumerated among the most prolific writers and has over 60 books to his credit as an author and compiler. We will briefly mention only 14 of them here.

1)Al-Taraa’ef – This book was written as evidence for the mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.). The book was subsequently translated in Persian as well.

2)Ad’iyat al-Saa’aat

3)Asraar al-Daaawat le Qazaa al-Haajaat

4) Al-Iqbaal le Saaleh al-Aamal

5)Al-Amaan min Akhtaar al-Asfaar wa al-Azmaan

6)Al-Anwaar al-Baahera fi Intesaar al-Taaherah

7)Rabee’al-Shiah

8)Tafsir-o-Sa’d al-So’ood

9)Sultaan al-Waraa le Saakin al-Saraa fi Qazaa al-Salawaat wa al-Amwaat (Fiqh)

10)Misbaah al-Zaaer wa Janaah al-Musaafir

11)Al-Lohuf

12)Kashf al-Bahjah

13) Jamaal al-Usboo’

14)Muhaasabah al-Malaaekah

Basic Source for Supplications

Although we have already listed a few books of Sayed Ibne Tawoos (a.r.), we want to draw the attention of the devotees of Ahle-Bait (a.s.) towards one specific point. All the books compiled on duas and supplications after the death of Sayed Ibne Tawoos (a.r.) sourced their duas and reference materials from the books of Ibne Tawoos (a.r.), while his book Mohaj al-Da’waat tops the list.

Mafatihul Jinaan, Wazaaef al-Abraar,Tohfah al-Awaam, etc. all these books have sourced their contents from Mohaj al-Daawaat, Jamaal al-Usboo’, Misbaah al-Zaaer and Iqbaal. That is why these books are called as the references for duas.

Al-Lohuf: Intent of Writing

In the preface of his book al-Lohuf,Ibn Tawoos (a.r.) has written that when I finished writing Misbaah al-Zaaer wa Janaah al-Musaafir, I realized that the book had included almost all the A’maal of day and night. Moreover whoever possessed Misbaah al-Zaaer did not need books like the Misbaah (Misbaah of Shaikh Kaf’ami and Misbaah al-Mutahajjid of Shaikh al-Toosi (a.r.)) anymore since it fulfilled all his requirements. Hence I decided that whoever carried this book should not need any other Maqtal and Ziyarate Ashura. Hence I have briefly written the Maqtal.

Keeping in view the paucity of a pilgrim’s time and his wish to fulfill all the essential deeds in the given time, I have restricted the Maqtal to essential brevity and avoided lengthy and long narratives.

(al-Lohuf, Preface, p. 24)

The Structure of al-Lohuf

The learned author himself has said in the preface that the book contains the means for opening the doors of sorrow and grief as also the source of salvation for the believers. Ibn Tawoos (a.r.) says ‘Since the words are full of eloquence and depth and explain my purpose of writing this book I have named the book as Al Lohuf ala Qatla al-Tofuf’.

The book has been divided into three main parts:

1)The events before martyrdom (from the birth of Imam Husain (a.s.) until the day of Ashura)

2)The incidents of Ashura and gallantry of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) companions

3)The incidents after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.)

(Al Lohuf p. 26)

The Importance of al-Lohuf

The book is known for its authentic accounts, brevity of prose, comprehensive perspective and reliable references. It has been widely acclaimed among the devotees and friends of Ahlebait (a.s.). It’s for this reason that the book has been widely reprinted over 20 times in Iran and Iraq and has been translated several times in Persian. The book has been translated in Urdu and English and published in India and Pakistan in multiple editions.

The book has been translated by Shaikh Ali bin Shaikh al -Iraqain, which was published in 1399 A.H. The other translators of the book are as follows:

1)Mirza Razzaqali

2)Shaikh Ahmad bin Salamah Najafi

3)Muhammad Ibrahim

4)Sayed Ahmed Fehri Zanjani

5)Sayed Muhammad Zahfi

6)Dr Abdur Rahim Aqeeqi Bajshayashi

The several translations and multiple reprints only establish the popularity of the book. A major part of the article is sourced from al-Lohuf.

Among the orators of India ,Pakistan and Iran , Lohuf has been a major research material and frequently quoted book in their speeches. The reason is that every book, big or small has sourced its material from al-Lohuf.

Following are some excerpts from the book:

Sayed Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) has quoted from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) that when Imam Husain (a.s.) was leaving Mecca a contingent of angels who had earlier assisted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) in his battles, astride on celestial horses paid a visit to Imam (a.s.) and said:

“O Proof of Allah on His creation! After your grandfather, your father and brother, surely Allah have sent us to your aid.”

Imam Husain (a.s.) replied:

“My promised land is ‘Karbala ‘, the place where I will be killed and buried. When I reach that place you can meet me there”.

The angels replied:

“Allah has ordained us to obey you. If you apprehend an attack from the enemies then we are at your beck and call.”

Imam (a.s.) said:

“They cannot harm me unless I reach Karbala .”

(al-Lohuf, p.82)

After angels, it was the turn of the Jinns who offered to assist Imam Husain (a.s.). Imam Husain (a.s.) prayed for their well-being.

The Jinns replied: “By Allah, if your obedience was not compulsory, then we would have differed with you and annihilated your enemies”

Imam Husain (a.s.) retorted:

“By Allah, if I really want them to be eliminated then I am much more powerful in its execution. However, (since I want to complete the argument once for all) I want those to be annihilated may perish after the completion of argument and those who prosper and attain glory may also do so after the completion of argument.”

(al-Lohuf p. 84)

Important Reminder

Obedience of Imam (a.s.) is not only mandatory on humans but also on angels and Jinns. Imams (a.s.) despite their unlimited power, delegated on them by the Almighty, are still bound by divine will and consent. Like friends, Imams also intend a finality of proof for their enemies as well. We have briefly enlisted some instances here; those interested may refer al-Lohuf.

The migration of Imam (a.s.) from Madina, the call of residents of Kufa, martyrdom of Hazrat Muslim bin Aqeel (a.s.), the sermons of Imam Husain (a.s.) on various junctures, the martyrdom of friends, companions and relatives of Imam Husain (a.s.), the expression of grief and mourning of Janabe Zainab (s.a.), Janabe Umme Kulsum (s.a.), Janabe Sakina (s.a.) and other womenfolk, the sermons of Janabe Zainab (s.a.), Umme Kulsum (s.a.) and Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.), the incidents en route to Kufa and Syria, return to Madina and narration of the tragedy of Karbala in the words of Janabe Zainab (s.a.) on the grave of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

The Death of Sayed Ibn Tawoos (r.a.)

On 5 Zilqad, 664 Hijri, Sayed Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) breathed his last and was buried in Kazmain in Iraq . Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) was the privileged recipient of the Imam Zamana’s (a.t.f.s.) blessings and attention during his lifetime and if the popularity of his books is any indication,Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) blessings continue on him even after his death. Al-Lohuf is an excellent gift for the devotees of Ahlebait (a.s.).

O Allah! Hasten the reappearance of our master Imam-e-Zamaana (a.t.f.s.) and enlist us among his helpers and soldiers! Aameen!