“The Mothers of the Martyrs” by Athar Ibrahim

~ Dedicated to the mother of Yousef Zayni, may Allah rest his soul and grant her patience, and to the most patient person I know, my mother.

 I am the mother of Ali Al-Akbar.

 The Prince of Bani Hashem, our light in the midst of our darkness, the essence of our Prophet Muhammad in appearance and manners, the first sacrifice of our Imam Hussain on that treacherous day.

My first child, my eldest son, my protector.

 As you made your final steps towards the battlefield in Karbala, I stayed behind, prostrating in my tent, praying:

“Oh Allah, you brought Yousef back to his father Jacob, please bring my son back to me.”

 While you valiantly charged into the battlefield, I had to endure, helpless, your final moments of thirst as you returned to me weary, weak and weeping, begging me to let you go to drink from the fountain of Kawthar upon your death.

 My name is Layla.

 I am the mother of Kassim,

 The brave fourteen year old, leader of the youths of Bani Hashem, reminiscent of his father Hassan and his legacy.

 I looked on as you urged your uncle Hussain to let you battle the tyrants in Karbala, describing death as “sweeter than honey.”

My beautiful boy, who fearlessly rode on to fight in his father’s armour.

 While I stood behind you all the way, dawning on me I would never see you a bridegroom and attend your wedding and you my funeral in this world, I heard your cries asking me to remember you whenever a wedding party passed me by, as you ran back into the open arms of your father.

My name is Ramlah.

 I am the mother of Ali Al-Asghar.

 My six-month-old baby Abdullah, the youngest martyr of Karbala.

I rocked you gently day and night close to my chest trying to soothe your thirsty cries amid the stifling heat. Meanwhile, each moan broke away another piece of my heart but I had no milk to feed you and the guilt ate away at me.

I tearfully watched your newly lit candle slowly flicker away before my tired eyes, as you looked at me, each time hopeful.

I had to prise you away from my arms and hand your frail body to your father Hussain, willing myself to believe the enemies would take pity on your innocence and relieve your suffering.

I then observed, tormented as they pierced your starved torso with a three-headed arrow, freeing your pure soul, and could only stop myself from falling when I witnessed the drops of your blood returning to our Lord.

 I lay sobbing at your father’s feet as he dug your tiny grave and explained to your sister Sukaina what they did to her beloved brother, and mourned knowing when I finally quenched my thirst and had milk to feed you again, you had died thirsty.

 My name is Rabab.

 I am the mother of sons, three stars, Abdullah, Uthman, Jaafar, and one moon, Abbas, to orbit around our light, my most beloved son, the master of martyrs, Hussain.

 I gave birth to the moon solely to watch over our light, and shine on him on the darkest of nights.

 I nurtured his arms to carry the flag of Bani Hashem in one hand and Hussain’s burdens in the other, until they were slain to rest near the river Euphrates while their blood flowed alongside.

 I lamented, broken-hearted, as all my sons departed Madina for Karbala, and waited agonisingly before news reached me of their deaths; the first broke me, the second shattered me, the third overcame me, the fourth took my breath away and the fifth, Hussain, caused me to fall to my feet.

 My name is Ummul Baneen.

 I am the mother of the martyrs of Karbala and the widowers and children left behind.

I bade my final farewells one by one before the men of my household stepped onto the battlefield, consoling the bereaved mothers and orphaned children, whilst grieving over my own two sons.  

I ran to the bodies, massacred like sheep and wept over them besides my brother Hussain, each time asking him what brutality those enemies had inflicted.

I stood hopeless after our final flag-bearer fell, and heard my brother over the deserted dunes question: “Is there anyone to help us?” his call echoing throughout every time and place in history.

 I acted in place of my mother when Hussain had no one left to defend our honour, and kissed the neck of my brother just like the prophet our grandfather, fulfilling her final request of her daughter.

I was left the charge of protecting the camp when there were no men left to stand by us, and remained patient as the enemies shackled us in chains mercilessly dragging us along our journey to Shaam, suffering as my eyes became blinded by the sight of our martyrs’ heads on spears.

 I was the woman who stood up in court and declared to Yazid the calamities he had brandished upon the prophet’s family, and then withstood the wails and screams of our women and children whilst imprisoned.

I returned to the scene of the tragedy after forty days and nights to bury my sons and brothers, collecting scattered limbs and bodies laid bare since they perished in battle.

 My name is Zainab Al-Kubra.

 I am the mother of the prophet’s household.

 I am, the carrier of the cloak, lady of light, the mistress of the women of the worlds.

I am my father’s daughter, yet they call me my father’s mother.

I am the bearer of the prophet’s household, all who were sacrificed in the way of Allah; from the poisoned Hassan, the patient Zainab and Um Kulthoom, master of martyrs Hussain and the son still in my womb, Mohsen.

 I raised all my children in servitude to our prophet and Allah, so that one day they would continue the message of Islam, each through their own revolution.

I endured from afar each member of my household being ruthlessly slaughtered by our enemy, as the skies turned red and the angels wept alongside me, sharing my sorrow.

 I proudly witnessed my daughter though shrouded by grief, bravely address the tyrant Yazid and relay what happened on Ashura, reigniting our message in a manner unmatched by anyone but her mother.

I wept as the ladies of my household returned to Karbala and reclaimed the remains of our martyred men from the bleeding sands.

I listened, heartbroken, as my anguished daughter Zainab returned to my grave to complain to me and utter the painful words: “Mother, I have so much to tell you….”

 My name is Fatima Al-Zahra.

 These are the mothers of the martyrs; the tears from their eyes, the cries echoed in their ears, the scars they bear, narrate volumes more than words can speak and ink can reveal.  

These ladies of the purified household bore sons and daughters knowing their predestined fate in this life for the sake of welcoming paradise in the afterlife.

In times of struggle call upon them to share your grief, adorn your heartache and mourn alongside you.

Patience is their bequest, sorrow bears their strength, and at their feet lays paradise.

By Athar Ibrahim

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