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Exegesis of Ziyarat e Nahiya

Let us take the discussion on the exegesis of Ziyarat-e-Nahiya forward and try to understand the succeeding phrases.

Peace be on the one whose jugular vein was severed.

Wateen refers to jugular vein, Ibn Manzoor, the author of Lisaan al Arab writes: “Wateen is the vein of the heart, which when cut will result in death of a person.”

In Tafsir-e-Qummi, another meaning for the same is explained thus: “It is the vein that gives reproductive ability and possibly connects with jugular vein.”

Imam-e-Zamana (may Allah hasten his reappearance) in this sentence remembers the heart-rending moment of the martyrdom of his great grandfather, the leader of martyrs, Hazrat Imam Husain (peace be on him), when Shimr the accursed was severing his jugular vein.

Shimr the accursed was seated on the blessed chest of Imam Husain (peace be on him), he then laid his hand on your blessed beard and intended to kill you. You laughed at this moment and asked him, “Will you kill me? Do you not know me?” The accursed replied, “I know you very well. Your mother is Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be on her), your father is Ali (peace be on him) and your grandfather is Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) and Allah is your supporter. However I will kill you and do not care about anybody.”

After uttering these words, the accursed struck him twelve times and separated his blessed head from the holy body.

Salutations of Allah be upon you and curse of Allah be upon those who killed you, those who fought you, and those who stood in opposition to you.

Peace be on the defender (of religion), who himself had no helper

It is apparent, that these words are referring to that moment, when on the Day of Ashura, Imam Husain (peace be on him) was left standing alone in front of the enemies. All his helpers and companions had tasted the elixir of martyrdom. Even the six month infant, Hazrat Ali Asghar (peace be on him) was martyred after a three pronged arrow was shot at him. At this instance, Imam Husain (peace be on him) remembered the martyred ones from his family members and companions, all of whom had left for eternal abode.

Peace be on the gray hair dyed in blood

Gray hair on one’s head and face is referred to as Sheb. Khaseeb refers to dyed hair. In light of traditions one of the characteristics of Bani Hashim is that their hair turns grey sooner. There is a tradition narrated from Imam Husain (peace be on him) himself,

Hair turns grey sooner for us, Bani Hashim.

(Sawaab al-Aa’maal, pg. 269)

The companions of Imam Husain (while reciting war poetry (Rajaz) in front of the enemies) introduced Imam Husain (peace be on him) with the title, leader with grey hair. When the brother of Muslim bin Aqeel, Abdur Rahman bin Aqeel came to the battlefield, he recited the below heroical war poetry.

Recognize my position, my father is Aqeel

I am from Bani Hashim and my brethren are Bani Hashim

He is the master of old and young

He is Husain, of lofty lineage

And like a youth in old age

(Behar al-Anwaar, vol. 45, pg. 33)

As mentioned earlier, Khazeeb refers to someone who has dyed his hair. It is noteworthy that in the religion of Islam, dyeing ones hair and beard is highly recommended. For the sake of brevity we mention just one tradition below for the benefit of our readers:

Hazrat Imam Sadiq (peace be on him) narrates that one man came in the presence of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny). Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) noticed grey hair in his beard and said: ‘this is light’. Then he further mentioned, one whose beard turns grey while adhering to the religion of Islam, it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgment. When he next came in the presence of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) after applying henna, Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) saw him and remarked, this is light as well as Islam. Third time he came to Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) after dyeing his hair black.

Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) said,

This is light, Islam and faith. It is a cause of love for your women and fear for your enemies”.

(Al-Kafi, vol. 6, pg. 480, Chapter on Dyeing)

Sadly the beard of our beloved Imam was dyed with his own blood! On the Day of Judgment, Hazrat Imam Husain (peace be on him) will meet his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) in the condition that his white beard would be dyed in his blessed blood. Hazrat Imam Husain (peace be on him) himself said this on the Day of Ashura:

I will meet Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) while drenched in my own blood and will complain to Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) that I was murdered by so and so.

(Behar al-Anwaar, vol. 45, pg. 53)

The conquest of Makkah occurred in the eighth year of migration. The drought struck Arabian land that, as is evident from the sermon of Fatima Zahra (peace be on her) led to dire economic conditions and majority resorted to vices like robbery, immoral acts and moral degradation.

A large number of people started to migrate towards the fertile lands of Madinah. The chief of Bani Umayyah (may Allah curse him) also changed his homeland. The propagation of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) had gained good momentum and support in Madinah due to which the immigrants plotted many conspiracies to snatch this movement from Bani Hashim and turn it into a rule. This led to dispute between Ibn Obadah (Chief of Ansaar) and the leaders of Muhajir in Saqifah Bani Sa’ada. This led to the enmity with those whom Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) had announced and introduced as his successors, and sealed it with the proclamation at Ghadeer.

The chaotic plotting and treachery at Saqifah laid the foundation of self-proclaimed caliphate of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny). It not only laid the foundation of usurped caliphate but also of the severe enmity towards the Bani Hashim. To cite an example, only a few days had passed after the Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) when the door of the house of his beloved daughter, the chief of the women of Paradise was set ablaze. As blood was shed right in the beginning (breaking of ribs of Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be on her) and the martyrdom of Janab Mohsin (peace be on him), it was natural that this would culminate in Karbala. It is as if these eloquent words of Imam Husain (peace be on him) are describing the events of half a century.

These words of Imam Husain (peace be on him), that he was killed by so and so (the usurpers of caliphate) describe the events of the last half a century in the most beautiful and eloquent manner.

We should ponder on this statement of Imam Husain (peace be on him) and on the deep and vast meanings of the following part of Ziyarat-e-Ashura, he was not martyred by Shimr only.

O Allah! Curse the first tyrant who oppressed the right of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and the next person who followed him on this path. O Allah! Curse the first tyrant on the progeny of Muhammad and those who snatched their rights. O Allah single out the first usurper of the right of the progeny of Muhammad and all those who innovated evil practices till the day of judgment.

Peace be on the dust-smeared cheeks

Khad used in the Arabic text of the Ziyarat refers to cheeks and Tareeb means covered in dust. Tareeb as per Arabic grammar is the sujbect (Ism-e-Mafool) meaning dust-smeared. The same cheeks the Prophet of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) would shower his kisses on, were covered in dust and blood on the scorching plains of Karbala. The disbelievers claiming to be Muslims were silent spectators.

Peace be on the body robbed of its clothes

It is clear that badan means body. What does saleeb mean? The famous Mohaddith and Faqih and author of the book Majma al Bahrain, Sheikh Fakrudidin Turiahi (exp. 1085 AH), who is also a teacher of esteemed scholars like Allamah Majlisi, Sayed Hashim Bahrani, Sheikh Hurre Amili (may Allah be pleased with them), among others, explains the meaning of saleeb in this manner:

It refers to the person killed in a battle, and is robbed of whatever he possessed, like clothes, weapons, etc. In other words, the enemies robbed the holy body of Hazrat Imam Husain (peace be on him), and did not even feel ashamed while robbing him. Ya Zahra!

Peace be on the teeth that were disrespected with a whip

Sageer means the front teeth. Makroo is subject (Ism-e-Mafool) means the one who is beaten. And Qaseeb refers to stick or a whip.

The background to this sentence is that, when the killers of Imam Husain (peace be on him) reached Damascus with the head of Imam Husain (peace be on him), ran to the accursed Yazid and told him to shower him with gold and silver, for he had killed the hidden king and the son of the best father and mother. When the accursed Yazid, heard these words from him, he retorted, if he was the son of best father and mother then why did you kill him? Yazid immediately ordered to kill that man. Then the blessed head of Hazrat Imam Husain (peace be on him) was brought to him in a tray. The accursed Yazid was looking at your blessed teeth and recited few couplets the essence of which were that if his elders killed in the battles of Badr and Ohud were alive, they would see how he has avenged their killing from the progeny of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny). After reciting these couplets, the accursed Yazid, with the impure stick in his hand, was disrespecting the blessed tooth of Imam Husain (peace be on him). At this moment, the companion of Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) Zaid ibn Arkam entered the palace and saw that there is a head kept in a tray and Yazid is misbehaving with the teeth. Zaid said, “Stop and do not disrespect these teeth because I have myself witnessed many times, that Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) kissed them frequently”.

This upset Yazid who said: “Had it not been for your old age, I would have killed you immediately”.

Yazid had not even finished his speech when a Jew scholar entered and asked as to whose head it was. Yazid replied, it is of a transgressor! The Jew asked, who was he? He replied, Husain. He then asked, is he? Yazid replied, he is Ali’s son. He then inquired about his mother. Yazid replied, Lady Fatima (peace be on her). The Jew then asked, whose daughter was she? Yazid replied unabashedly, she is the daughter of Mohammed (peace be on him and his progeny). The Jew then asked, Who Muhammad? Your Prophet? Yazid replied in the affirmative.

The Jew started hitting his head and cursed him, may Allah never bestow goodness on you. Your Prophet was amongst you till yesterday and today you have killed his grandson! Curse be on you! There is a gap of more than thirty generations between me and Hazrat Dawood (peace be on him and his progeny), yet the Jews still respect me today. Saying this Jew went towards the blessed head of Imam Husain (peace be on him), kissed it and said I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and that your grandfather, Muhammad (peace be on him and his progeny.) is the messenger of Allah. After saying this, he started to leave when Yazid ordered to kill him.

(Behar al-Anwaar, vol. 45, pg. 187-188 narrating from Al-Khratij wa al-Bahraij, Saad bin Hibatullah, famous as Baqtab al Deen Rawandi)

Peace be on the severed jugular vein

Al-Wadaj means the jugular vein. It is the vein in the neck of a person.

(Lisan al-Arab, vol. 2, pg. 397)

This vein, when it is cut, the soul of a person immediately leaves his body.

Peace be on the head raised on a spear.

Who introduced the barbaric tradition of raising the severed heads of enemies on spears and roaming around with them on the streets and markets? If we glance through the pages of history, we will see that Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan was the first king who introduced this barbaric tradition amongst the Muslims. When Muawiyah was informed that one of the prominent companions of Imam Ali (peace be on him), Amr ibn Al-Hamiq al-Khuzai has gone to Mosul from Kufa, he ordered his soldiers to arrest him. When Amr hid himself in the jungles of Mosul and they were not able to find him, Muawiyah ordered that his wife should be arrested and imprisoned. Finally Amr was arrested and on the orders of Muawiyah he was beheaded and his head was taken on the streets. The barbarism of Muawiyah did not end at this. He then ordered that the head of Amr should be thrown in the lap of his wife. On this she fell unconscious. On gaining conscious she recited an eulogy for him and prided on his faith. Now the son of this accursed, Yazid was repeating this same shameful and barbaric tradition with the blessed heads of Imam Husain (peace be on him) and his companions.

Peace be on the parts of body scattered in the desert

(Here, such heart-rendering sufferings are mentioned, translating which is not possible let alone explaining them).

O the one who has mercy on tears! Bestow us the good fortune of reciting this Ziyarat along with Hazrat Imam-e-Zamana (may the Almighty hasten his re-appearance).

(to be continued…)

September 3, 2020