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Khaak-e-Shefa: The Dust with Healing Powers – Part II

From where to acquire the dust?

A common question regarding the dust is – which part of Karbala has the miraculous dust? There are several traditions in this regard. Some traditions declare that the dust can be acquired:

a. From the sacred grave of Imam (a.s.).

b. Upto a distance of 70 yards from the grave.

c. Upto 70 feet from the grave.

d. Upto 1 mile from the grave.

e. Upto 4 miles from the grave.

f. Upto 10  miles from the grave.

g. Upto 5 farsakh from all 4 directions of the grave.

h. Upto 25 yards from the direction of the feet of Imam Husain (a.s.), 25 yards from Imam’s (a.s.) face, 25 yards from Imam’s (a.s.) back and 25 yards from Imam’s (a.s.) side.

i. Upto 20 yards from all 4 sides.  

These traditions though apparently in conflict, do not contradict each other in reality. The probable reason being that the dust of Karbala does not have n independent position that merits greatness and distinction. In reality, the dust draws its merit and excellence from the blood of the martyrs of Karbala . Since the blood of the martyrs was spilled all over the battlefield, the dust in several parts of Karbala possesses these glorious merits and distinctions  Moreover, the closer the dust is to the sacred grave of Imam Husain (a.s.), the greater will be its powers and effects. It is obvious that that part of Karbala that has in it the grave of Imam (a.s.) is superior to all other parts.  

Jibraeel (a.s.) Presents the Dust to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)

One of the important traits of this dust is that it has always remained in pure hands and has been safeguarded with respect and honor.  Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates, ‘Once the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was in Janabe Umme Salma’s house. At that moment, Imam Husain (a.s.) entered the house. Even Jibraeel (a.s.) was present over there. Jibraeel (a.s.) told the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), ‘Your nation will slay this son of yours (Imam Husain (a.s.)).’

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘Show me the dust where he will be martyred and his blood spilled. Jibraeel (a.s.) presented a fistful of dust to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The dust was of red colour.’

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 60, tradition3)

 In another tradition it is mentioned that every angel who used to descend in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would offer his condolences on the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). He would also inform the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about the land of Imam ‘s (a.s.) martyrdom and would
present the dust of the land where Imam (a.s.) would be slain mercilessly.’ (Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 61, tradition 8)

 In one tradition it is revealed that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) gave this sacred dust to Janabe Umme Salma (r.a.).

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 60, tradition 4)

 These incidents underline the importance of this dust and its amazing merits. More importantly they also serve to emphasize the importance of preserving this dust and inhaling its fragrance, as this was the Sunnat (tradition) of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Then those who counter this distinction accorded to the dust and ridicule it instead of honouring it are in
fact directly opposing the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Jibraeel (a.s.)! Butthen how can those who participated in the gruesome murder of Imam Husain (a.s.) and/or were satisfied with it ever respect this sacred dust! If the glorious personality of the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) himself was not honored, what hope is there of his sacred dust being revered!

The Etiquette of Acquiring the Dust

The dust of Karbala is by no means some ordinary dust that one can simply pick up and use. There are some etiquette (aadaab) specified in traditions for picking up the dust and preserving it. A person told Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘I heard you mention that the dust from the sacred shrine of Imam Husain (a.s.) is a cure for every ailment. But I have used it and found no benefit in its use.’ Imam (a.s.) replied,’There are some etiquette for acquiring and using this dust.One who does not adhere to them, will find the dust of no use.’

(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 101 p. 135)

There are several traditions in this regard along with numerous supplications. We have mentioned just two in the following paragraphs.

1. Janabe Abu Hamza Samali (r.a.) narrates from Imam Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘When you wish to pick the dust from Imam Husain’s (a.s.) sacred shrine, recite Surah Hamd, Surah Falaq, Surah Naas, Surah Tauheed, Surah Qadr, Surah Yasin, Ayatul Kursi. Then recite this supplication

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 283-84, tradition 12)

 For conciseness, we have not mentioned the translation of this supplication. The supplication itself has many points worth reflecting upon, which give us some idea of the importance of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the dust of his grave.

2. A person approached Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) and complained, ‘I am often very sick and am afflicted by various types of diseases. I have supplicated Allah several times with many an invocation but to no avail. Imam (a.s.) replied, ‘Why don’t you use the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine?There is a cure to every ailment and a security from every fear. When you wish to use this dust, then recite:

 ‘O Allah! I beseech you by the right of this dust and by the right of the angel (a.s.) who picked the dust, and by the right of the Prophet(s.a.w.a.) who kept this with himself and by the right of the successor (wasi) who rests in it, send blessings on Muhammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.). Make this dust for me a cure for every ailment and a security for every fear.’

 Then Imam (a.s.) explained,

‘The angel who picked this dust is Jibraeel (a.s.), who thenshowed this to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and informed him (s.a.w.a.) that it was the dust from the grave of his beloved son, who would ultimately be martyred by his nation. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who kept this dust is Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.). The successor who is resting in it is Imam Husain (a.s.).’

 The narrator asked, ‘I appreciate that the dust is a cure for every ailment but how is it a security against every fear?’ 

Imam (a.s.) informed,’If you fear a king or any other tyrant, keep this sacred
dust with you and recite this supplication The narrator informs that I did exactly as Imam (a.s.) instructed me. Consequently, I was cured completely from all ailments and was secure from every fear. Thereafter, I never faced any problem.’

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 282-83, tradition 10)

The Etiquette of Using the Dust

We find that the method of acquiring and consuming Khake Shifa is detailed in narrations and various supplications have been specified for this purpose. For brevity, we rely on just one narration.

 It is narrated from Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) that, ‘The earth of the pure and holy grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) is a pure and blessed musk. For those who consume it from among our Shias, it is a cure for every ailment, and if our enemy uses it then he will melt the way fat melts, when you intend to consume that pure earth recite the following supplication

(Mustadrakul Wasail, vol. 10pg 339-40 tradition 2; New edition of Makarimul Akhlaq p.189; Beharul Anwar,vol. 101, p. 23, tradition 60)

 Besides the above another short supplication to be recited at the time of using Khake Shifa is as follows

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 284,tradition 2)

 There are several more detailed manners that are narrated under the above subject. It is evident from the above supplications themselves that this blessed earth has a cure for the ailments, liberation from fear along with beneficial knowledge and abundant sustenance. 

The Measure to be Used

Traditions say that Khake Shifa should be used in quantity of the size of a gram seed (chana). And after eating it one should drink water in slow sips.

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 286) 

Eminent jurists, in the light of traditions, declare that consuming earth is prohibited. Yet they unanimously hold that using the sacred earth of the holy grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) is permitted. (We have already mentioned the discussion regarding the area referred). In fact it is recommended that this earth be given to the child at the time of its birth and also this sacred earth be placed in the grave.  

Some Incidents

1. Dust transforms into blood Said b. Jubair narrates from Abdullah b. Abbas that I heard the lamentation from the house of Janabe Umme Salma (r.a.) – the wife of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), when I came out of my house I saw people heading towards the house of Janabe Umme Salma (r.a.). I went to her and inquired: ‘O Ummul Mo’mineen! Why are you so grieved? She did not reply to me and turned to the ladies of the house and asked them to mourn with her saying: Your master, the Leader of the Youths of Paradise , the son of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is killed!’ The people asked her from where she had received this news. She replied: ‘I saw the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in my dream and his head was covered in dust. When I asked him (s.a.w.a.) he replied, ‘My son Husain (a.s.) has been murdered. I immediately went and looked for the earth given by Jibraeel (a.s.), as I had been informed that this earth will change into blood when Husain (a.s.) is killed. I saw that there was fresh blood.’ Janabe Umme Salma (r.a.) smeared that blood on her face.

(Amaali Sheikh Toosi, vol. 1, p.322)

This is the earth of Karbala  that turns into blood grieving for Imam Husain (a.s.). 

2. Completely cured This sacred dust has benefited innumerable people. In fact, we all know how someone or the other has benefited from it. And if we compile these incidents they would surely make a voluminous book. We narrate one such incident, which has been related through reliable traditionalists. As the narration is quite lengthy we bring here a concise report. 

Muhammad Ibne Muslim (r.a.) who was among the trusted companions of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates:

‘I visited Medina at a time when my legs were paining so much that I even found it difficult to stand up. When Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) was informed of my ailment, he sent his slave to me with a drink, which was covered with a kerchief. The slave asked me to drink what he had brought and told me that he was instructed by Imam (a.s.) to return only when I had finished drinking it. The drink was cold, it tasted good and had the scent of musk. When I was through with the drink, the slave told me, ‘Your master has instructed that after finishing the drink you should visit him.’ I was perplexed that I could not even get up then how was I supposed to visit Imam (a.s.). But as soon as the drink reached my stomach, my ache disappeared and I, who could not even get up, began walking with great ease and presented myself before Imam (a.s.) and asked for permission to enter. Imam (a.s.) called me in a loud voice affirming my return to good heath. I came near him crying and kissed his (a.s.) hands and forehead.

 Imam (a.s.) enquired regarding the drink he had sent. I replied, ‘I bear witness that you Ahle Bait (a.s.) are surely a mercy and that you are the successors of the vicegerents. When your slave brought that drink to me, ‘I was unable even to stand up and despaired. When I drank it, I found it to be cold and tasty and sweet-scented as no other drink. Then the slave informed me that Imam has called you. I was thinking that I will surely go even if it costs me my life. But after consuming that drink, my pain vanished. Praise is for Allah who has sent you as mercy for your Shias.  

Imam (a.s.) replied, ‘O Muhammad! The sacred dust of the holy grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) was mixed in the drink, which you had. This is the best thing for cures and nothing can be compared to this. We give our women and children this very dust and draw divine blessings.’

(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 275-77, tradition 7)

 From this incident we learn how much our Imams (a.s.) love us and the level of concern they have for us. Then we should be like Muhammad b. Muslim (r.a.). The effect of the dust is definitely there, provided we have the faith in it and in the one offering it to us, like Muhammad b. Muslim (r.a.) had the faith in Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.).  

Dust of Paradise

During the Safawide rule in Iran, a European cleric came to Isfahan (Iran) to derive evidence from the Islamic scholars about the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Prophethood. The cleric was very talented and had complete command over mathematics and astronomy among other sciences. He could inform people about their condition, thereby proving his ability and authority, and striking awe in the hearts of the people. One day, he requested the king to gather all the scholars of the kingdom so that he could display his many talents and faculties. As per his request all the scholars were made to assemble in the court. Among these scholars, was also present the illustrious and acclaimed scholar of the Shiite world – Muhaddis-e-Faiz Kashani (r.a.) -the compiler of several renowned works like Tafsir-e-Safi and Kitab-e-Wafi.Muhaddiss-e- Kashani (r.a.) told the European cleric, ‘Indeed, your people are foolish. They have sent an incompetent and novice like you for this great task.This task requires a multi-faceted person with a wide range of skills and talents.’

 The cleric was infuriated at this comment and began trembling in anger. He exclaimed, ‘O Islamic scholar! Speak with a little respect and etiquette. I swear by Jesus (a.s.) and his mother (s.a.), if you were aware of my enormous skills and talents you would never have rebuked me in this manner. Indeed women have not given birth to one like me. I am the epitome of skills and talents. Examine me if you want. For, it is at the time of
examination that one’s true worth is underlined.’

 Muhaddis-e-Kashani (r.a.) put his hand inside his pocket and removed his clenched fist. Then he demanded, ‘What is in my fist?’ The cleric was struck by this challenge and reflected on the question for long. He tried hard to guess the answer until the colour of his face changed in utter frustration.

 Muhaddis-e-Kashani (r.a.) remarked, ‘You have failed to answer my question. Your ignorance is now evident and the reality has unfolded.’

 The cleric exclaimed, ‘I swear by Jesus (a.s.) and his mother (s.a.), I already know what is in your clenched fist, I am only trying to guess as to how it came in your possession!’ 

Muhaddis-e-Kashani (r.a.) demanded, ‘What is in my fist?’ The cleric replied, ‘Your fist has the dust of Paradise . I am trying to figure out how you came to possess it.’  

Muhaddiss-e-Kaashshani (r.a.) tried to test him further by saying, ‘It is possible that your calculation and estimate is wrong and you are mistaken.’

The cleric stood his ground and replied, ‘No I am certain of it (dust of Paradise ). I am only confused about how you have got it.’

 Muhaddis-e-Kashani (r.a.) elaborated, ‘O cleric! I have with me the dust of Karbala . Our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed us that Karbala is a part of Paradise . If your calculation and assessment is correct, then you should accept the truthfulness of our Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and testify your faith in him (s.a.w.a.).’  

The cleric agreed, ‘You are right!’ He immediately testified to the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and became a Muslim.

(Asraare Shahadat, vol. 1, p. 523-24, new edition)

 Indeed not only is Imam Husain (a.s.) the light of guidance, but everything that comes in contact with him is blessed with these powers. Now we begin to understand the words of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) There are more things to write on this topic. But brevity demands that we conclude this treatise over here. At the end we supplicate to Allah, the Almighty, to make this sacred dust of Karbala a cure for all our spiritual and physical diseases nd to grant us security from every fear. And finally to make us pure and sacred just like this dust. 

September 2, 2020