Perfect Picture of Youthful Virtues
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“I am Ali ibn Husain ibn Ali; “By the House of Allah, we are the Prophet's nearest kin. “I will keep attacking you with my lance till you mow me down; “I will strike you with my sword that was bestowed on me by my father, “With the strokes of a Hashemite youth, “By Allah, the son of adultery shall not rule over us."
The auspicious 11th of Sha’ban makes us recall the above versified challenge thrown to the enemies on the battlefield of Truth versus Falsehood on the 10th of Muharram in the year 61 AH, by the person who attained martyrdom in the prime of his youth, so that humanitarian values would always remain alive.
As is obvious, these are the words of Imam Husain’s (AS) handsomely virtuous son on the Plain of Karbala. We do not mourn Ali Akbar (AS) today. Rather, we are in the state of rejoicing while celebrating his birth anniversary, which is marked in Iran as the Day of the Virtuous Youths.
It would be repetitive to say that he was the namesake of his grandfather, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), or that he bore a striking resemblance to his great-grandfather (father’s maternal grandfather), Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
No wonder, as he says in his versified challenge to the Yazidi hordes of dubious parentage, in his veins gently ran the unsullied monotheistic blood of Prophet Abraham’s (AS) worthy scion, Hashem, passed through Abdul-Muttaleb, and his sons, Abu Taleb and Abdullah (peace upon them all).
Thus, the youth was neither bragging nor exaggerating his spotlessly pure line of descent over the worthless offspring of the liver-chewing (in the raw) Omayyad idolatress, Hind bint Utbah, who had usurped the caliphate, and ironically, were now demanding allegiance to their Godless rule from its rightful, divinely-decreed heirs.
He was simply putting the facts straight to the deceived neo Muslims (the ‘Salaf’ of today’s Salafi terrorists) that had ganged up against his Household in pursuit of transient power, posts, and wealth, despite the fact that the impeccable pedigree of Ali Akbar (AS) included such peerless ladies of Islam, as Amena bint Wahb (SA), Fatema bint Asad (SA), the One and Only Mother of all True Believers (Omm al-Momineen) Hazrat Khadija bint Khuwailed (SA), and above all the Noblest Lady of all times (Seyyedat an-Nisa al-Alameen min al-awwaleen wa’l-akhereen), his paternal grandmother, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA).
On the maternal side also he had a luminous lineage. If the mother of his brother – his father’s successor, Imam Ali Zain al-Abedin (AS) – was Shahrbano, the noble Princess of Persia, the mother of Ali Akbar (AS) was nonetheless a virtuous lady of Arabia. She was Layla, the daughter of Dawoud Abu Murrah, the son of the Prophet’s loyal companion, Urwah ibn Mas’oud Thaqafi, who was martyred in the Prophet’s lifetime in his hometown Ta’ef while preaching Islam to the polytheist Arabs.
Martyrdom thus flowed in the veins of Ali Akbar (AS). Interestingly, his maternal grandmother Habiba (mother of Layla), was the daughter of Obaidollah ibn Jahsh, a cousin of the Prophet and brother of the Prophet’s wife Zainab bint Jahsh.
With such an impeccable pedigree, this youthful son of the Leader of the Youths of Paradise, whose “Azaan” (Call to Prayer) on the plain of Karbala reminded many – even in the enemy camp – of the voice of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), carved out immortal fame for himself.
No wonder, while sending his son to the field of sacrifice (Zibhin Azim or the Great Sacrifice that had ransomed Abraham’s offering of Ishmael in antiquity), Imam Husain (AS) supplicated to the Lord Most High with the following words: “O Allah, be Witness, now I am sending in your way, the one who resembled Your Messenger the most, to the extent that whenever we desired to have a view of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we used to look at the face of this youth.”
I convey my heartiest felicitations to the Imam of the Age, Mahdi al-Qa’em (may God hasten his reappearance) on the blessed 11th of Sha’ban, and present here the following passage of the Ziyarat-an-Nahiyat-al-Muqaddasa for the Martyrs of Karbala that refers to the martyrdom of his grand uncle, Ali Akbar (AS): “Peace upon you, O First of the Martyrs from among the scions of the noblest descendants of the Prophet Abraham, the Friend of Allah. May Allah bless you and your father, who at your death lamented, "O my son, what made them so bold against the Merciful Allah as to commit such sacrilege against the Prophet. May Allah slay the people who slew you. After you, the world is worthless."
“I salute you as if I were with you, in your vanguard, whilst you fought against the disbelievers, exclaiming …(the verses I have mentioned at the beginning of the column). Until at last, you fulfilled your promise and went to meet your Lord. I bear witness that you are the most preferable to Allah and His Messenger, and that you are a child of Allah's Proof and Allah's Trustee.
“May Allah judge your murderer, Murrah bin Munqiz bin Nu'man al Abdi; the curse of Allah be on him and on whomsoever was his accessory in your murder, or helped the miscreants against you. May He consign them to Hell, and what an awful place it is! And may Allah make us one of those who will meet you and befriend you and who are loyal to your grandfather, father, uncle, brother and your mother, who was oppressed. I dissociate myself from your enemies, most stubborn in rebellion. Peace upon you and the Mercy and Favours of Allah.”