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Book Review: “Asraar-e-Shahaadat”

Here, we will present an introduction of the book “Asraar-e-Shahaadat”. Our esteemed readers must have come across the name of this book in various articles written in previous Muharram issues.

To summarize and review a colossal book like ‘Asraar-e-Shahaadat’ in a small treatise like this is a nigh impossible task. We may not be able to do justice to this outstanding book. But we hope that the readers will be informed – to some extent – of the importance, significance and benefit of this book – Inshallah. And with this hope, we invoke the help and support of Imam Husain (a.s.) and present to you a short review of the book.

Name of the Book:      Ikseer-ul-Ibaadaat fi Asraar-e – Shahaadat

Author:                        Allamah al – Faqih Shaikh Aga bin Aabid Shairwani Haieri

Famous as:                 Al-Faazil Darbandi

Language:                   Arabic (3 Volumes)

Printed in:                   1415 AH / 1994

Published by:   Shirkat-ul-Mustufa lil Khidmaat -e-Saqafi, Bahrain

About the author

His full name has been mentioned above. He has been attributed to Shairwan, Haier and Darband. Haier means the ‘courtyard of the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.).’ Since the author spent an extensive part of his life as a servant in the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.), he is remembered as “Haeri”. He is buried in ‘Bab-e-Saaqee’ near the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.) He was born in Darband near Tehran. Hence he is also called as ‘Darbandi’. He did his basic and elementary schooling in Darband itself. Later he travelled to Qazvin for higher studies. He studied Fiqh (Jurisprudence), Usool (Principles of Jurisprudence) and Hadees (traditions) under the tutelage of the eminent scholar Shaikh Muhammad Saleh Barghani Haeri and philosophy under the guidance of Maula Aga Haakim Qazvini. In 1242 AH, he studied under various scholars in Karbala – the most famous among them being Shaikh Muhammad Mazandarani. After the demise of Shaikh Mazandarani, Aga Darbandi migrated to the holy city of Najaf and served as a helper in the shrine of Ameerul Momeneen Ali (a.s.) and at the same time, he was also engrossed in the pursuit of knowledge. He also attended the lectures of Shaikh Ali bin Jafar Kashful Gita in the subject of fiqh.

He attained the distinguished status of ‘Ijtehaad’ due to his profound knowledge in fiqh, Usool, logic, tradition and ‘Ilm-e-rejal’ (the study of the narrators of traditions), and also owing to his piety and distinction. He returned to Karbala for good and involved himself in learning and teaching Islamic sciences and giving lectures on ‘Amr-bil-Ma’roof’ (enjoining good) and ‘Nahy-anil-munkar’ (refraining from evil)

Aga Darbandi and Imam Husain (a.s.)

Aga Darbandi would attach great importance to the gatherings (majalis) arranged for commemorating the incident of Karbala. His wailing and mourning as well as his ‘chest-beating’ for Imam Husain (a.s.) were well known. This mourning on the event of Karbala – especially on the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) left an indelible mark upon him and increased his anger and desire to avenge the blood of Imam Husain (a.s.).  When he would recite ‘majlis’ from the pulpit during Muharram, he used to weep bitterly and beat his head in grief. It would have a profound effect on the listeners and they too would shed tears inconsolably.   In this book (Asraar-e-Shahaadat), the author has brought a tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) which is very much relevant and applicable upon the author himself.

The narrator of this tradition says that once he was sitting in a gathering with Imam Sadiq (a.s.). At that time, he (a.s.) said something about Imam Husain (a.s.) and cursed his (a.s.) killers. Then Imam Sadiq (a.s.) began to weep and we too started to cry.’ The narrator says that after this Imam Sadiq (a.s.) raised his head and said,

“I was killed cruelly and ruthlessly. No believer will remember me except that he will weep and cry.”

(Asraar-us-Shahaadat, 1 / 102)

Note: There is a difference between the words “A-ba-rah” and “E-ba-rat”. The word “A-ba-rah” means ‘tears’ while the word ‘Ebarat’ means to ‘take a lesson’ Thus, to translate the phrase ‘qateel-ul-Abarah’ as ‘qateel-ul-Ebarat’ is not correct.

Since this article is about an introduction to a book, hence it will not be out of place to mention some of the other literary efforts of the author. We will mention a few of his books based on the topics on which they have been written.

(A) Fiqh

(1)  al – Khazain -ul – Ahkaam

(2)  ar – Risalat – ul –  Amaliyyah

(3)  al – Masail -ut – Tamriniyyah

(B) Ilm-e-Usool

(1)  Khazail -ul – Usool

(2)  Al – Anaween

(3)  Hujjiyat -ul-Usool al -Mushatab be Aqsameha

(C) Aqaed

(1) Al – Fanno ala fi Eteqaadat

(D) Rejaal wa Deraayah

(1) al – Qawamis fi ilm-e-rejaal

(2) Al-Risalato fi Deraayah

(E) Maqaatil

(1)  Jawaaher -ul – Eeqaan

(2)  Sa’adat -e – Nasir (A Persian summary of the book ‘Asraar-e-Shahaadaat’)

(3)  Ikseer-e-Ibadaat fi Asrar-e-Shahaadat (whose introduction we presenting in this article)

This book was first published in Tabrez in Iran in the year 1279 (A.H.). The second time it was published from Karbala with some additions. And in the year 1415 A. H (1994) it was printed for a third time from Bahrain. This article is based on the third edition of the book.

First Volume

The first volume comprises of 600 pages and to mention all the topics of this volume will make this article protracted. Hence we shall only mention the essential topics of this volume. For instance, why Imam Husain (a.s.) undertook the journey to Karbala with his family and children – views and opinions of historians and scholars,  the meaning of ‘calamity’ and the reason for Prophets (a.s.) and Imams (a.s.) being involved in difficulties and calamities. We mention a small incident concerning this point.

A person arrived in the presence of the third special deputy, Janab Husain bin Rauh (r.a.) and said ‘I want to ask you certain questions’. Janab Husain bin Rauh said, ‘Please ask what you want to know’. The person said, ‘Tell me. Was Imam Husain (a.s.) a friend of Allah?’ Janab Husain replied ‘Yes’. The person said, ‘Tell me. Were his killers the enemy of Allah?’ Janab Husain said, ‘Yes’. The person said, ‘Is it possible that Allah will grant authority to His enemies over His friends?’ Janab Husain bin Rauh replied (we present a summary of his reply) ‘Neither Allah has spoken directly with the people nor has He manifested Himself before the people. He has sent Prophets (a.s.) in the form of humans – empowering them with miracles and signs. The people saw their miracles, extraordinary powers and accomplishments. Some of them believed in the prophets (a.s.) while others rejected them (a.s.). The deniers tormented the prophets, killed them (a.s.) and at times also subjugated the Prophets (a.s.). Had they been victorious at all times and not involved in difficulties, then the people would have always worshipped only Allah. But this worship of Allah would be a ‘forced’ worship. Then patience, examination and free-will would have no significance and value. In short, Allah has kept His Prophets (a.s.) and His friends in the same circumstances as others. Thus, when the people see that Prophets (a.s.) are patient in the face of calamities, grateful when confronted with enemies and humble and modest in their lives – they too realize that Allah is with them. He is their Creator and Regulator. Then, the people will worship Him and be obedient to His Messengers (a.s.). In this way, the love of Allah – for His friends – is proved for those who dispute on this matter. Then the evidence (Baiyyenah) is the cause of success as well as destruction.

( Asraar-e-Shahaadaat, P. 67 – 69)

Other Topics

Some of the other topics discussed in this volume are:

Traditions on the importance of mourning on the calamities of the Progeny of  Muhammad (a.s.), love of Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) is obligatory on every individual, mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) is a proof of the love and mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the rank of the one who recites a majlis on Imam Husain (a.s.), the one who recites a poem in honour of Imam Husain (a.s.) receives a house in paradise and such reciters are assisted by the angel ‘Ruh-ul-Qudoos’ in their recitation; the difference between music, elegy (marsiya) and lamentation (nudbah), Azadari (mourning) and shabeeh (depiction) have their roots in the sunnah and traditions, the use of tambourine and drums (tabla) in the mourning ceremonies of Imam Husain (a.s.), a few frightening and thought provoking incidents concerning the enemies of Azadari, arranging and organizing majaalis (gatherings) for the sake of Imam Husain (a.s.) is a sign of faith, spending even a small amount for the sake of Azadari of Imam Husain (a.s.) is loved by Allah, wearing black clothes is recommended on the day of Aashura, the angels of heavens are the first to wail and recite marsiya (elegy) on Sayyed-us-Shohdah (a.s.), the reward for offering water to someone, the reward for cursing the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.) and remembering him (a.s.) at the time of drinking water, the meaning of the tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) in which he (a.s.) says ‘Imam Husain (a.s.) was massacred like a sheep is slaughtered’, Prophets (a.s.) and Messengers (a.s.) visit Karbala, the mourning of Prophets (a.s.) on the calamities that befell Imam Husain (a.s.), the astonishment of Prophets (a.s.) on the patience and fortitude of Progeny of Muhammad (a.s.), Yazid and the massacre of the people of Madina, traditions by the scholars of Ahle Sunnah  condemning Yazid, condolences offered by the angels to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) on the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the importance of visiting the sacred shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.), the significance and status of the land of Karbala; incredible miracles relating to the ziyarat (visitation) of the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) in Karbala; the journey of Imam Husain (a.s.) from Madina to Makkah and then to Karbala; the martyrdom of Muslim Ibn Aqeel (r.a.); the events of the day of Aashura; the valiant and fearless battle of Imam Husain (a.s.) and his (a.s.) martyrdom.

Second Volume

The topics covered by the author in the second volume are:

The reason why Imam Husain (a.s.) left Madina (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.) in the house of Waleed, the damage caused by Marwan to the cause of Islam, the liberators from the progeny of Aale Hakam, the bodies of the representatives of Allah never decay in the grave, the martyrdom of Muslim Ibn Aqeel, the correspondence of the tribe of Haani ibn Urwah with Imam Husain (a.s.), the letter of Imam Husain (a.s.) to the dignitaries of Basra, the martyrdom of the sons of Muslim Ibn Aqeel, the meeting of Imam Husain (a.s.) with Farazdaq, the sermons of Imam Husain (a.s.) in Makkah, the discussion of Imam Husain (a.s.) with Ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Jafar, Abdullah bin Umar, the dream of Imam Husain (a.s.) while he (a.s.) was passing by a place called Taaliyah,  the circumstances surrounding Hurr, the role of Ibn Ziyad in the tragedy of Karbala, the role of Ibn Sa’d in the episode of Karbala, compelling evidence to prove that Imams (a.s.) can see the angels, the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the night of Aashura and other related matters, the occurrences  related to Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) and Janab Sakina (s.a.), the matters related to the martyrdom of the companions of Imam (a.s.), the martyrdom of the close friends and relatives of Imam Husain (a.s.), the tearing and ripping apart of the tents of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the humiliation of the children and the women, the majesty and greatness of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), Hazrat Qasim (a.s.) and Hazrat Aliakbar (a.s.), the secret behind the martyrdom of a six month infant (Hazrat Aliasgar), the coming out of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) for the help of Imam Husain (a.s.), the will of Imam Husain (a.s.) to Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and the incident of  Ja’far  (a Jinn)

Third Volume

The third volume includes the following topics,

The departure of Imam Husain (a.s.) to the battlefield and his conversations with his immediate relatives, the letter of Fatima binte Husain (s.a.), the martyrdom of Abdullah bin Husain, the falling down  of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the land of Karbala, the slaying of Imam Husain (a.s.) by Shimr (may Allah subject him to His eternal chastisement), the running of  Zainab Binte Ali (s.a.) towards the body of Imam Husain (a.s.), the entire event of Karbala in the words of Imam Baqir (a.s.), the voice from the sky at the time of martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the coming of Hazrat Jibraeel, the condition of the sun and the earth at the time of martyrdom, the rain droplets of blood from the sky, the lamentation of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) at the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.),  the reason for the lamentation of everything on the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.),  the plundering of the tents the Progeny of  Muhammad (a.s.), the incident of Shahr Baanoo, the incident of a lion who wandered into the plains of Karbala and his weeping on the body of Imam Husain (a.s.), the duration for which the heavens and the earth wept after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the wailing of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.), the instigation by Ibn Sa’d to his army for setting ablaze the tents of Imam Husain (a.s.), the one who abuses and curses Ameerul Momeneen Ali (a.s.) will be raised blind.

The returning of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to Karbala and burying the martyrs, the exhortation of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to the people for visiting the grave of his father (a.s.), the conditions of the bodies of Prophets (a.s.) and Imams (a.s.) in the grave, an explanation for the different places mentioned for the burial of the sacred head of Imam Husain (a.s.), the land of Karbala is superior to the land of Ka’aba, the intercession of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) on the Day of Resurrection, the total number of martyrs of Karbala,  the reaching of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) to Kufah, the condition of the womenfolk, the sermon of Hazrat Zainab (s.a.), the sermon of  Hazrat Fatima Sughra, the sermon of Hazrat Umme Kulsum, the sermon of Imam Sajjad (a.s.), the first person to recite an elegy on the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the eloquence and lucidity of the sermons.

The arriving of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) in the court of Ibn Ziyad, the meeting of Hawar ibn Ziyad with Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) and Imam Sajjad (a.s.), Ibn Sa’d and the country of Raiy, the recitation of the Holy Quran by the severed head of Imam Husain (a.s.), the conversation of the severed head of Imam Husain (a.s.) with Ibn Wakidah, the secret of ‘talking’ by the head of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the reason of its recitation of Surah Kahf.

The events after martyrdom, the people of Madina coming to know of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), some of the events of Madina, the events of Shaam (Syria), Qaadesiyyah, Waadi-e-Nakhlah, Mosul, the incident of the Christian scholar, the arrival of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) in Ba’labak, the events of Halab (Aleppo – Syria), the situation in Damascus, the rejoicing of Yazid (l.a) at the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the sermon and assertion of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) in the court of Yazid (l.a), the family of Imam Husain (a.s.) in the dungeons, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Minhal, a Christian and the head of  Imam Husain (a.s.), the coming of Prophets (a.s.) and angels for the visitation (ziyarat) of the sacred head of Imam Husain (a.s.), the incident of Umme Habibah – the wife of Yazid (l.a), the objections raised by the courtiers of Yazid (l.a) when Imam Husain (a.s.) was praised and glorified in the court, the incident concerning  the dream of  Hind, the events after being released from the prison, the happenings in the journey from Shaam to Madina, reaching Karbala on the day of Arbaeen, the events on the way from Karbala to Madina, the narration of Bishr bin Zarlam, the mourning of Zainab (s.a.) and Umme Kulsum (s.a.) on the grave of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the conditions of Hazrat Mukhtar al-Thaqafi, Hajar Aswad (of Ka’aba) giving testimony on the Imamat of Imam Sajjad (a.s.), the incidents of those who were killed by Janab Mukhtar, the manner of Yazid’s (l.a) death, the salutation by the sacred head of Imam Husain (a.s.) to Imam Sajjad (a.s.), the blood of Imam Husain (a.s.) will remain distressed and agitated till the time Imam Mahdi (a.s.) avenges the unjust killing of his ancestor Imam Husain (a.s.) and other martyrs of Karbala, the fate of the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.) as mentioned in the books of Ahle Sunnah,

At the conclusion, the author has given some advices. We mention one of them over here:

‘I advice you to fear Allah and to cling on firmly to the strong rope of Allah i.e. the mastership (Wilayah) of Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.). By this I desire that you continue and persevere in the Azadari of Imam Husain (a.s.) i.e. recite elegies in his (a.s.) remembrance and indulge in chest-beating.

Peace be upon you, O Aba Abdillah, and the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings!