Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Ashura 2011 Series Post #3: Latmiya & Portraits of 'Ali Akbar, Son of Imam Husayn

Shi'i artwork depicting Imam Husayn holding his mortally wounded son, 'Ali Akbar, at Karbala

This latmiya (mourning recitation) is, if I'm not mistaken, written as if from the third Shi'i Imam, Husayn bin 'Ali, to his son 'Ali Akbar, who was killed by the Umayyad army before his father on the plain of Karbala in 680 C.E. Traditional Twelver Shi'i accounts report that 'Ali Akbar requested permission from his father before going into battle against a much larger Umayyad military force sent by Yazid bin Mu'awiya's governor 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad under the command of 'Umar ibn Sa'd. His mother and sisters pleaded with him not to go but 'Ali Akbar insisted that he had to go defend them and the religion of Islam as represented by the Ahlul Bayt, in Shi'i conception the family of the prophet Muhammad through Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatima. Surrounded by Yazid's soldiers, 'Ali Akbar was mortally wounded with blows from swords and spears.

The video accompanying this latmiya includes many traditional Shi'i portraits of Imam Husayn and 'Ali Akbar.

The famous English historian Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) wrote of the tragedy of Karbala in his classic book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

"In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussein will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader." Indeed, it is not necessary to be a Shi'i Muslim or Muslim at all to relate to the tragedy of a father witnessing the brutal killings of not one but two of his sons, 'Ali Akbar and 'Ali Asghar, as well as other close relatives and friends.


First post in this series HERE

Second post in this series HERE

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