Remembering Karbala

Peace, one and all…


Today is the day of Ashura, which marks the death of Imam Hussein (the grandson of Muhammad, alaihi al-salatu wa al-salam).  During the last few weeks, I have written three poems on this broad topic and so I offer them here.

The Day of Karbala

O Sun of Karbala!
Rise no more
for my beloved has gone.

O Dawn of Karbala!
Hold back your light,
for my beloved has gone.

O Noon of Karbala!
Hold your bright face in dark shame,
for my beloved has gone.

O Setting Sun of Karbala!
Cover me in bitter sorrow,
for my beloved has gone.

O Lonely Night of Karbala!
How you chill my very bones.
My beloved has gone.

O Lonely Flag

O lonely flag,
moving in slow funeral dirge
amidst the sad wind of Karbala.

O lonely flag,
your head is lowered in sorrow,
at the thought of all you have seen.

O lonely flag,
dust covers your proud face,
as it covers those who walked beneath you.

O lonely flag,
your tears of grey sorrow
stand witness to the strength of your love.

O lonely flag,
lift up you eyes in hope,
for love does not end in sorrow.

O lonely flag,
have patience still
for you shall see your days renewed.

March Forth

March forth from the narrow defile
of your limitations
into the wide plains of open humanity.

March forth from your narrow self
into the ever-opening hand
of All Life.

March forth against despair,
taking strength
from those who have gone before you.

March forth towards your destiny.
Be like Hussein
and march forth bravely towards your own Karbala.

However, the last word should go to Mevlana (may Allah sanctify his secret), as it is the place of honour:

Why Do You Sit There? 

‘Why do you sit there with your own thoughts?
If you are a man, go to the Beloved!

Do not say, ‘Perhaps He does not want me’.
What business has a thirsty man with such words?

Does the moth think about the flames?
For Love’s spirit, thinking is a disgrace.

When the warrior hears the sound of the drum
at once he is worth ten thousand men!

You have heard the drum, so draw your sword without delay!
Your spirit is the sheath of the all-conquering Dhu al-Fiqar!

You are Husayn at Karbala, think not of water!
The only ‘water’ you will see today is the sheath of the first water!
(Mevlana Rumi, Kulliyyat 3656-62, trans. W.C. Chittick)

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman


17 thoughts on “Remembering Karbala

  1. greetings abdur-rahman. perfect timing! Alhamdulillah! i’m here exploring your blog for the first time and i see so many things i share in common with you. i hope it’s ok to add you to my blogroll?

    as i was reading another entry, it appears you published your poetry. i just finished the first one and am so psyched to get to the others.

    my poetry blog is here:

    i haven’t updated recently, but will most likely do so soon.

    i am so glad that the Divine has brought us together!

  2. Salaams,

    Welcome, welcome and thrice welcome. 🙂 Please make yourself comfortable in my online home.

    Perfect timing indeed! Though the timing is Hu’s and not mine. I’ve visited your blog several times before. Ma sha Allah! It’s nice to meet a fellow poet, especially one with such passion. Allah!

    I am honoured indeed that you have enjoyed some of my work. Allah bless you for your kind thoughts.

    I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you, insha Allah.

    Abdur Rahman

  3. Dear Abdur Rahman,
    Many thanks for the remembrance of Husayn.I have just returned from Cairo where I had the singular fortune of the ziyarah at Ras al Husayn. Reading these words reminded me of the tranquility,sakinah and the barakah at that sacred precinct. A Shi’i slogan that caught my eye reads:Live like Ali Die like Husayn. At once a prayer,aspiration and encouragement. May you be rewarded for this remembrance.
    Mohamed Husayn

  4. Assalamualaikum Br. Abdur Rahman

    These words of your poetry are absolutely inspiring and reflect your universal understanding of the true message of Islam.
    You have claimed your Hussian and made him your worrier in fighting your Yzid on the plane of your Karbala, as you divinely expressed “Be like Hussein
    and march forth bravely towards your own Karbala.”

    May Allah bless you



  5. Hu!

    Many thanks as ever dear Abdur Rahman for your wonderful poems on Karbala. It’s always inspiring, alhamdulillah, to read your posts. Yet, one mind-boggling and extremely moving anecdote about Karbala is when the Caravan of captives comprising of the household of Imam Husayn (alaihi al-salatu wa al-salam), all in rags and wounds and chained together, were brought in the court of Ibn Ziyad [Yazid’s governor in Kufa]….the latter (may Allah treat him and his ancesters and commanders and cronies as they deserve!) asked Zaynab [Imam Husayn’s sister, Imam Ali’s elder daughter and the Prophet’s granddaughter – peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all], “How did you see what God brought to your brother Husayn?” She replied whole-heartedly: “By God, I saw nothing but beauty.”

    Thanks again dearest brother, and May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward you with the best of rewards.


  6. Salaams Mohammad Husayn,

    ‘Live like Ali, die like Husayn’ indeed!

    Jazak Allah for your kind thoughts. Insha Allah, your trip was refreshment for the soul.

    Abdur Rahman

  7. Salaams Katib,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. As for my understanding, it is limited and partial – though I hope that Allah will aid me to grow further.

    I wish I could be like Husayn. Too often, I have been my own Shimr!


    Abdur Rahman

  8. Salaams Safa,

    O Imam Husayn! Eyes weep and hearts fall silent in sorrow!

    But, in the end, Husayn’s name has become a by-word for bravery and perseverance, whilst Yazid’s has most definitely not!

    Abdur Rahman

  9. Salaams Yursil,

    Thank you once again for the link to this excellent post. Yes. The eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf have indeed witnessed this.

    But, is sorrow for the passing of one brave and beloved, as well as joy for his sacrifice for love, wrong?

    Abdur Rahman

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