Allah, the Almighty, has bestowed Imam Husain (a.s.) with such amazing traits that it is impossible for us to comprehend it with our limited intellectual faculties. With all his knowledge and spiritual prowess, man can never comprehend the exalted status that Allah has conferred upon Imam Husain’s (a.s.) illustrious companions. When we are confounded with the status of Imam’s (a.s.) companions, then how can we hope to grasp Imam’s (a.s.) position of distinction? Suffice it is to say in praise of Imam’s (a.s.) companions that the infallible Imams (a.s.) used to visit their graves regularly. Moreover, they exhorted their followers to frequent their graves and recite this statement at their shrines,
‘May my parents be sacrificed upon you.’
‘You have become purified and also the earth wherein you are buried.’
‘You have attained a mighty success.’
‘Alas! Had I been with you, I would also have been successful like you.’
(Ziarat-e-Waaresa) Allah has granted certain merits to Imam Husain (a.s.), which underlines his elevated position. The Holy
Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed:
1. Supplications made below the dome in Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine at Karbala are answered by Allah.
- The dust of Karbala has healing powers.
- The chain of Imamat continues in his progeny.
(Mustadrak al-Wasail by Mirza Husain Noori, vol. 10, p. 335, tradition
Here we shall discuss the significance of the dust of Karbala (Khake Shifa). Readers should note the amazing healing powers of this dust, which shall unfold over the following pages. We shall see the superiority of the land of Karbala vis-à-vis other lands. We shall see how this dust was gifted and how the recipient respected it. We will learn how much the infallibles (a.s.) treasured the dust. We shall read about the miraculous powers of this dust and how those who desecrated the dust were humiliated and disgraced. Land of Karbala and the Prophets (a.s.) The land of Karbala has been a place of visitation (ziarat) for the past Prophets (a.s.). Hazrat Adam (a.s.), Hazrat Nuh (a.s.), Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), Hazrat Ismail (a.s.), Hazrat Yusha b. Nun, Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) and Hazrat Esa (a.s.) have all passed through this land at some point of time. In fact, history is witness that circumstances compelled them to pass through this land. Each one of them was informed about the tribulations and ultimate martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). On this information, each one of them wept bitterly and cursed the Imam’s (a.s.) killers. While passing through the land of Siffeen (during the battle of Siffeen) Imam Ali (a.s.) paused at the land of Karbala. He asked Ibne Abbas loudly, ‘O Ibne Abbas, are you aware of this land?’ Ibne Abbas confessed, ‘I am not aware of it.’ Imam Ali (a.s.) declared, ‘If you had been informed about it, even you would have wept like me.’ After this, Imam Ali (a.s.) wept intensely, till his tears soaked his beard. Then he informed, ‘Over here
(in Karbala) they shall dismount. Here they shall pitch their tents. Here their blood shall be spilled. A group of youths from the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) shall be massacred. Hazrat Jibraeel (a.s.) has shown me the dust of this place.’
(Mojamul Kabeer – Tabaraani, vol. 3 p. 115, tradition 2, 819 from Asraare Shohada, vol. 1 p. 270 – New Edition)
These incidents highlight the fact that the land of Karbala was sacred and revered right from the beginning. Therefore, one can imagine the significance of the events leading to Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom, information of which was given to the Prophets (a.s.) and Imams (a.s.). Holy Ka’bah and the land of Karbala There are numerous traditions informing us that Allah created the land of Karbala 24,000 years before the Holy Ka’bah.
- Allah made the land of Karbala holy and sacred before He did the same with the Holy Ka’bah.
- The land of Karbala was made pure and blessed by Allah much before He originated creation.
- This land will remain holy and blessed. It will excel over all other lands in Paradise.
- In Paradise, this land will be the residence of Allah’s friends (awliyaa Allah).
- This land is holy and sacred due to its dust.
- The Prophets (a.s.), Messengers (a.s.) and the Ulul Azm Apostles (a.s.) will inhabit this land in Paradise.
- The brilliance of this land will dazzle the residents of Paradise.
- This is the land that shall announce, ‘…I am the holy, sacred and blessed land. Within me rests the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) and the Chief of the Youths of Paradise (a.s.).’
9. This is the land where Allah spoke to Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) and Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) was engaged in whispered supplications (Munajaat) with Allah. It is the most honoured of all lands.
10. In Islam, there are other lands that have been bestowed with greatness and honour, but none of these lands can be compared to Karbala. Once the land of Ka’bah declared proudly, ‘Which land is like me? Allah has made His House on me. People from all parts of the earth come to pay homage to me. I have been made sacrosanct (haram) and sacred by Allah.’
On hearing this Allah, revealed, ‘Be silent! Wait a little (before you say anything further). By My Might and My Honour, the excellence and distinction I have granted to the land of Karbala is more than what I have given you. Compared to Karbala, your position is like a needle head sized drop in front of the sea. If the dust of Karbala had not been there, I would never have bestowed this honour upon you. If the one resting in Karbala (Imam Husain (a.s.)) had not been there, I would neither have created you nor the House over which you are so haughty. Wait, adopt humility and modesty and don’t be arrogant and boastful. Don’t try to prevail over Karbala in importance (as that is not possible). Else I will be displeased with you and throw you in Hell.’
(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p.267, tradition 13, narrating from Imam Ja’far al-Al-Sadiq (a.s.)) It must have become evident to all that comprehending the significance of Karbala is beyond us. When the land of Ka’bah is like a drop in front of Karbala, then how can we grasp its significance? Narrated hereunder are some traditions to enable our readers to get a fair idea about the distinction that has been conferred upon the land of Karbala
Humility of this land
Allah, the Almighty, has granted this elevated status to the land of Karbala because of its humility. Safwaan Jammaal narrates from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘…when earth and water were boasting about their superiority over the other, Karbala was also asked to narrate its merits. Karbala declared, ‘I am Allah’s blessed and purified land. There are healing powers in my dust and water, however, I do not consider that a
source of pride and arrogance. On the contrary, I stand humbled and disgraced in front of my Lord. I do not consider myself superior to anyone. I thank Allah (for everything). Allah was so pleased with this sign of humility that He elevated the already exalted status of Karbala with the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.).’
Then Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) narrated further,
‘One who is humble in front of His Lord, Allah raises His
status. One who is proud in front of His Lord, Allah
(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 271, Beharul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 109-10, tradition 17)
If one desires to achieve the highest rank, it is necessary for him to be humble and meek before his Lord. This humility should not be for ostentation and display, rather it must be from the depths of the heart. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) supplicates in Dua-e-Makarimul Akhlaq, “O Allah! Just like you have granted me honour in the apparent, also inculcate a sense of humility in my concealed by an equal degree. Proud and arrogance is the basis of humiliation and disgrace.” If only the proud ones could understand this point.
Sajdagaah of prostration
Namaz is among the most important acts of worship. If namaz is accepted (by Allah) then all other acts of worship will be accepted. But if namaz is rejected then all other acts of worship will be rejected. Namaz soothed the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) eyes. In namaz, prostration (sajdah) is a sign of proximity with Allah and assumes tremendous significance. That is why the act of prostration enjoys an elevated station near Allah. It is refusal for prostration that made Shaitaan disgraceful in front of his Lord. According to the Shiite laws, prostration cannot be done on anything and everything. It is permitted only on certain pre-specified objects (as discussed in Tauzihul Masaail – The Articles of Islamic Acts). One of the objects on which prostration is permitted and is even highly recommended and praiseworthy is the dust of Karbala. In fact, prostration on the dust of the land of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) burial has maximum distinction and an incredible reward. We have outlined some traditions in this regard:
Seven layers of earth get illuminated
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) informs, ‘By prostrating on the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave, the seven layers of earth get illuminated.’
Seven veils get lifted
Muawiyah b. Ammar narrates, ‘Imam Jafar Al- Sadiq (a.s.) had a yellow pouch in which he kept the pure soil from Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave. At the time of namaz, Imam (a.s.) used to spread the soil on the place of prostration and prostrated on it.’ In this regard, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) reveals, ‘By prostrating on the soil of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave, seven veils are lifted.’ (Ibid. p. 366, tradition 3) In another tradition it is mentioned that Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) used to prostrate only on the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave to express his humility in front of Allah. Indeed, how amazing are the merits of this dust! The seven layers of the earth are illuminated and the seven veils are lifted. Among the characteristics of light is its inability to penetrate opaque objects. Therefore, the sunlight despite its brilliance and intensity can be blocked easily even by a small curtain. An insignificant mud wall can prevent the sunlight’s progress. Light, regardless of its brilliance and intensity, has to submit to these opaque objects that can hamper its advancement. But the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine at Karbala is so pure and sacred, that a prostration on it can pierce the seven layers of earth with its light and lift the seven veils. Indeed, if this is the significance of the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine, one can only imagine the significance of Imam (a.s.) himself and his martyrdom. It is only with Imam’s (a.s.) momentous sacrifice that namaz and prostration still exist today in the Islamic world. Animals have sight but lack insight. Therefore, they can see the bounties but are not able to grasp that there is a bestower of bounties. Man can see the bounties and also understands that there is a giver. When he is granted a bounty, he shows his appreciation by thanking the bestower. Therefore, while prostrating on the dust of Karbala, it is important that we also thank the one who has shed his blood and given life to namaz and prostration.
In his famous supplication – Dua-e-Abi Hamza Sumaali, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) recites: ‘O Allah! Indeed You are not veiled from Your creatures, rather their actions are a veil between You and them.’
Our sins and irreligious traits have become a barrier between Allah and us. Our evil actions have deprived us of the opportunity to acquire recognition of Allah, Who is closer to us than our jugular vein. However, our detestable actions have driven us very far away from Allah. With the wonderful effect of prostration on Imam Husain’s (a.s.) dust, these veils between the creatures and Allah are lifted. We acquire greater proximity with Allah, and indeed this is the objective of prostration. Renowned scholars have interpreted the lifting of 7 veils and illuminating of 7 layers of earth thus: The self (nafs) has 7 detestable sins that obstruct the light of truth from reaching that person. These sins are – malice, envy, greed, bad behaviour, foolishness, deceit and insulting others. Each of these hateful traits sets a gloom on the hearts and darkens them. The darkness of these sins prevents the light of guidance from penetrating the hearts. As the darkness increases, man sinks into the depths of deviation and misguidance. When man prostrates on the pure dust of Karbala, he is overwhelmed by a sense of humility and devotion and piety, which are necessary traits for worshipping Allah and an important criteria for the acceptance of worship. This sense of humility and devotion cleanse the hearts from detestable sins and allow the light of guidance to pierce the hearts. After this, the heart gets adorned with seven beautiful traits – wisdom, determination, forbearance, good nature, fortitude, modesty and love. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared, ‘Surely Husain (a.s.) is the beacon of guidance and the ark of salvation.’ This is the impact of the pure dust of Karbala – it removes the impurities of sins and makes the worshipper proximate with his Creator. There are some who object to prostration on this sacred dust. They consider it an innovation in religion (bid’at) and declare Shias as polytheists. They protest so vehemently against this prostration that we begin to wonder if they are prejudiced against this dust or against those buried beneath it! The Shias of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) have this firm conviction and belief that the prostration on the dust is solely for Allah, the Almighty, and none else. The opponents of the prostration on dust do not realize this fact and hence the intense opposition. All the Shias prostrate on this dust (to gain proximity with Allah) and do not worship the dust itself. Prostrating on the dust and prostrating the dust are two different actions. All the Muslims prostrate on the earth. That does not mean that they prostrate the earth itself. Earlier, we have outlined that the land of Karbala has gained supremacy over all other lands. Likewise, its dust is also the most exalted. The rewards and merits in prostrating on this dust are also unique and the dusts of other lands do not enjoy the same distinction. Simply because some prejudiced people do not agree with this, does not deprive the dust of Karbala of its distinction.
The tasbih of Janabe Zahra (s.a.) is among the most important ta’qeebaat (recommended acts of worship after namaz). Janabe Zahra (s.a.) had made the beads (of tasbih) from a thread and used to remember Allah with it. After the martyrdom of Janabe Hamza (a.s.) she prepared the beads from the dust of Janabe Hamza’s (a.s.) grave. This tradition continued and after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), the beads were made from the dust of his grave. (Beharul Anwaar, vol. 101, p. 33, Makaarimul Akhlaq, p. 281)
Six Thousand Virtues
The beads of tasbih prepared from the pure dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave has some unique merits. Imam Reza (a.s.) narrates, ‘If a person recites the glorification – subhaanal laah – Allah will grant him 6,000 virtues for every bead, will forgive 6,000 of his sins and raise his level by 6,000 degrees. He also grants him intercession by the same degree.’
The chain of reward prevails
Another amazing merit of this tasbih is that even if the worshipper extends his hand to pick up the beads but does not recite anything, he will continue to get the reward.
Desire for fairies (hoor)
When an angel intends to descend on earth, the heavenly fairies request him to get beads (of tasbih) from the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave.
A necessary possession for the Shias
Imam Moosa Kazim (a.s.) narrates,
‘It is necessary for the Shias to always keep 4 possessions – mat made from date leaves on which he can recite namaz, a ring, a toothbrush and a string with 33 beads made from the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave. When he turns the beads by reciting some remembrance of Allah (zikr), he will get 40 virtues and if he turns the beads without reciting anything, he will get 20 virtues.’
Invaluable gift While presenting a gift to his friend, man selects an invaluable present for him. Gifts strengthen relations. We have already mentioned that the Hur request the angels to procure beads from the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave. This underlines the fact that the dust of Karbala is dearer and more valuable to the residents of Paradise than the residents of earth. We can gauge the importance of this dust further from this tradition: Imam Reza (a.s.) sent a dress from Khorasan to a person. In that dress there was also the dust (of Karbala). The recipient of the dress asked Imam’s (a.s.) messenger – ‘What is this dust?’ The messenger replied, ‘This is the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) sacred grave. Whenever Imam Raza (a.s.) gifts a dress or any other present, he always sends the dust of Imam’s (a.s.) grave along with it. Then Imam Reza (a.s.) declares, ‘With Allah’s permission this dust will grant you security.’
Cure for every disease
There are thousands of diseases and sicknesses in this world. For every disease there is a cure and a medicine to heal it. Each sickness has a particular remedy and medication. The same prescription can be harmful for another sickness. Moreover, the drug takes time to heal. But the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave has unique healing powers that can cure any sickness. In this regard, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates, ‘Allah, the Almighty, has made the dust of my ancestor – Imam Husain (a.s.) as a cure for
every sickness and safety from every fear.’
(Amaali Shaikh-e-Tusi (r.a.), p. vol. 1, p. 326) In another tradition, it is mentioned, “The dust of Imam Husain (a.s.)’s sacred shrine is cure for every sickness and salvation from every fear.”
Also, it has come in another tradition that, ‘The dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) sacred shrine is a cure for every sickness and this is the biggest medicine”
(Kaamil al-Ziarat, p. 275) These traditions highlight the healing prowess of the dust of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine. It is the best medicine for every sickness, offering security from every fear. The sickness could be physical – dealing
- This is the land that shall announce, ‘…I am the holy, sacred and blessed land. Within me rests the Chief of Martyrs (a.s.) and the Chief of the Youths of Paradise (a.s.).’