Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ali al-Asghar ibn Husayn

Ali Asghar in the arms of his father Hussein bin Ali before
Yazid's army at the Battle of Karbala
Abdullah Ali al-Asghar ibn Husayn ( April , 61 AH - Tenth of Muharram the 10th of October, 61 AH) was the youngest child of Husayn ibn Ali (the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the third Shia Imam) and Rubab (the daughter of the chief of the Kinda Imra al-Qays tribe). He is honored by Muslims as the youngest martyr of the Battle of Karbala.


Abdullah "Ali al-Asghar" ("Youngest Ali") ibn Husayn was born in Medina. He was one of the three sons of Husayn. The other two were Ali ibn Husayn, the fourth Shia Imam, and Ali Akbar ibn Husayn, who Yazid's forces also killed in the Battle of Karbala. His sister were Sakina(Rukayya), 4 years old, Sakinah (Fatema Kubra) and Fatema Sugra. Ali al-Asghar was killed by Hurmala who shot an arrow that pierced his neck. According to both Shia and Sunni traditions, the arrow was three-headed.

Imam Husayn's Shrine, where Ali Asghar is buried with his father
Ali Asghar's death at 6 months old occurred on the 10th of October 680CE, 10 Muharram 61 AH, which is known as Ashura. He is considered a martyr.

Reverence after his death

Ali al-Asghar is buried along with his brother Ali al-Akbar with Husayn in Karbala, Iraq, which is now the most visited shrine in the world. In Muharram ceremonies and commemorations, Ali al-Asghar is represented as an innocent child suffering unbearable thirst. His death is mourned at length in rawza-khani (recital of the Rawdat ash-Shuhada "The Paradise of the Martyrs") literature and in early ta'ziya (passion play) traditions, a complete majles was dedicated to Ali al-Asghar, with the infant's cradle a conspicuous element on the stage. Ali al-Asghar is also represented in Muharram processions and celebrated in folklore.
The story of Ali al-Asghar's martyrdom has influenced modern politics. In a June 3, 1963 speech delivered by the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, at the Fayziya Madrasa in Qum, Iran, specific mention was made to Ali Asghar as part of a comparison between the Umayyads actions at Karbala and the policies implemented by the Shah against the maraji. His argument was that just as Ali Asghar had done nothing to incur the wrath of Yazid ibn Mu'awiya, similarly an eighteen year old madrasah student who had been recently killed by the Pahlavi regime had done nothing against the Shah or his government to warrant being murdered.


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