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'Ali al-Akbar (a)

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Descendant of Imam
'Ali al-Akbar (a)
Darih of Imam al-Husayn & the grave of martyrs of Karbala.jpg
Ali al-Akbar (a) is buried beside the grave of his father, Imam al-Husayn (a) in Karbala.
Father Imam al-Husayn (a)
Mother Layli bt. Abi Marra
Birth Sha'ban 11, 33/March 10, 654
Place of Birth Medina
Place(s) of Residence Medina
Demise Muharram 10, 61/October 13, 680
Place of Burial Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a), Karbala
Age 27

ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (Arabic:علي بن الحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب ), (b. 33/654 - d. 61/680) known as ʿAli al-Akbar (علي الأکبر) was son of Imam al-Husayn (a). It is reported that he (a) was very much like the Prophet (s) in appearance and personality. 'Ali al-Akbar (a) showed great bravery and sacrifice in the Battle of Karbala and was martyred in fighting with the army of Yazid. According to narrations, he (a) was the first martyr from Banu Hashim on the Day of 'Ashura. His grave is beside his father in Karbala.


'Ali al-Akbar (a) was born in Medina on Sha'ban 11, 33/March 10, 654. His father was Imam al-Husayn (a) and his mother was Layla bt. Abi Murra. In historical reports, his title is mentioned as al-Akbar and his Kunya is Abu l-Hasan.[1]

He was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on Muharram 10, 61/October 13, 680 together with his father, many men of Banu Hashim, and the comanions of Imam al-Husayn (a).[2] He (a) was buried beside Imam al-Husayn (a) in Karbala. Genealogists and historians have reported his name with the title of Akbar as the eldest son of Imam al-Husayn (a).

However, some Shi'a scholars believed that he (a) was smaller than Imam al-Sajjad (a); but, this opinion has been criticized by late Tustari.

Wife and Children

Regarding the texts of ziyarah of 'Ali al-Akbar (a), it seems that he (a) had wife and children, since his Ziyarah reads, "Peace be upon you and upon your family and your household and your forefathers and your children."

Also, Imam al-Sadiq's (a) advice to Abu Hamza al-Thumali was, "when you arrived at his grave, put your face on the grave and say, 'peace be upon you, O Ab al-Hasan!" which suggests that he (a) had a son named Hasan.

Although some genealogists and scholars have clarified that he had no children and the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (a) only continued through Imam al-Sajjad (a).

Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)
'Abd Allah
Lady Fatima
Imam Ali
Umm al-Banin
Imam al-Husayn
Imam al-Hasan
Lady Zaynab
Umm Kulthum
Abd Allah
Umm Kulthum
'Abd Allah
'Abd Allah
Imam al-Sajjad
'Ali al-Akbar
'Ali al-Asghar
Imam al-Baqir
Imam al-Sadiq
'Abd Allah
'Ubayd Allah
Imam al-Kazim
Umm Farwa
'Abd Allah
Imam al-Rida
Imam al-Jawad
Imam al-Hadi
Imam al-'Askari
Imam al-Mahdi


Imam al-Husayn (a) named him 'Ali in order to stand against those who wanted to eliminate the name and manner of Imam Ali (a). Imam al-Husayn (a) did not just name his son 'Ali but he (a) named all his sons Ali.


His face was majestic and shined like the moon. He (a) was adorned by beauty and cleanliness. He was middle height with white skin tending to pink. He (a) had black big eyes with long eyelashes. He (a) had a normal body, not fat and not thin with broad shoulders.

He (a) walked fast as if he (a) was coming downhill. When he (a) turned to someone, he (a) turned all his body towards him. He (a) looked mostly down, rather looking up. He (a) smelled a fragrance of musk.

That was why Imam al-Husayn (a) introduced him the most alike to the Prophet (s) in creation, manner and attributes among people.

Attributes, Virtues, and Merits

Position of Narrating Hadith

Since he (a) narrated many hadiths from his grandfather Imam Ali (a), he (a) was known as a Muhaddith.

Enemy's Admittance to His Merits

Mu'awiya regarded 'Ali al-Akbar (a) deserving caliphate and said, "The most suitable person for ruling is 'Ali son of Husayn, whose grandfather was the Prophet (s) and has the bravery of Banu Hashim, generosity of Umayyads and beauty of Thaqif tribe altogether."

Mirror of the Prophet (s)

As Imam al-Husayn (a) acknowledged, 'Ali al-Akbar (a) was the full mirror of appearance and personality of the prophet (s).

Supporting Imam al-Husayn (a)

On the day of 'Ashura' when 'Ali al-Akbar entered the battlefield. A man shouted, "O Ali! You are a relative of Amir al-Mu'minin (Yazid) and we want to value them, and if you want we can give you safe conduct." 'Ali al-Akbar (a) answered, "the relationship with the Prophet (s) is more important to be valued."

First Martyr of Banu Hashim

'Ali al-Akbar (a) was the first martyr of Banu Hashim on the Day of 'Ashura' and it is mentioned in the text of Ziyara al-Shuhada, "Peace be upon you, O first one murdered from among the generation of good descendants."

Steadfastness on the Path of Truth

At the station of Banu Maqatil, Imam al-Husayn (a) took a short sleep and after waking up repeatedly said, "'Indeed we belong to Allah, and to Him do we indeed return (Qur'an 2:156). And All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds". 'Ali al-Akbar (a) asked about the reason and Imam (a) answered, "O My son! I fell asleep and suddenly heard a horseman saying, 'This caravan moves on and death follows them.' So, I learned that our death will come." 'Ali al-Akbar (a) said, "Dear father! May God never wills bad for you, Are we not having the rights?" Imam (a) said, "Yes, by the One all servants return to!" 'Ali al-Akbar (a) said, "O father! While we are having the rights, I do not fear death." Imam (a) prayed for 'Ali al-Akbar (a) and said, "May God gives you best of rewards a child may receive from his father."

'Ali al-Akbar's (a) Motto on the Day of 'Ashura'

After 'Ali al-Akbar (a) rejected the safe conduct of 'Umar b. Sa'd, he (a) began his recurrent attacks on them with this motto, "I am 'Ali son of Husayn (a), the son of 'Ali (a). By the house of God (Ka'ba) I swear we are the closest to the Prophet (s); By God, this son of adultery cannot rule over us. I will kill you by sword and support my father, a blow of sword by a young Hashemite from Quraysh."

Imam al-Husayn's (a) Word about 'Ali al-Akbar (a)

Imam al-Husayn (a) was watching the fight of 'Ali al-Akbar (a) and shouted, "O son of Sa'd! May God blocks your generation, the way you blocked mine and did not respect my relationship with the Prophet (s); May God assigns someone to rule over you who beheads you in your bed."

He (a) then continued, "O God! I hold You witness upon these people. Against them, a man has gone to fight who is the most alike among people in appearance, manner and speech to Your Messenger (s), Muhammad (s)."

He (a) also said, "[O God!] when we loved to see Your Prophet (s), we looked at him ('Ali al-Akbar (a))."

Imam (a) also said, "O God! Prohibit the blessings of the earth from them and make disunity among them, and severely tear them apart and place them in different factions; do not make statesmen and rulers happy with them; they actually invited us to support us, but then they became our enemy and began fighting us while they themselves invited us."

Then Imam (a) recited two verses of Sura Al 'Imran: "Indeed Allah chose Adam and Nuh, and the progeny of Ibrahim and the progeny of Imran above all the nations (33) some of them are descendants of the others, and Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing."


First Fight

In his first fight, 'Ali al-Akbar (a) attacked the army of Kufa in the left and right and the center. None of them managed to resist him. They say he dropped 120 horsemen in his attacks while thirst had taken away his strength. To regain his energy, he (a) returned to his father and let him about this thirst.

When Imam (a) found about that, began crying and said, "take out your tongue" and then sucked it [possibly to show him that his own tongue was also dry.]

Then, Imam (a) gave 'Ali al-Akbar (a) his ring and said, "take this and put it in your mouth, I hope you soon meet your grandfather and he (s) will remove your thirst with a bowl of water so that you would never again be thirsty." These statements have been narrated by Sayyid b. Tawus with slight differences.

Second Fight

After 'Ali al-Akbar (a) met Imam al-Husayn (a), returned to the battlefield and dropped about 200 of the people of Kufa. However, they did not still show any interest in killing him.

His Martyrdom

When 'Ali al-Akbar (a) bravely attacked the enemy, suddenly the eyes of Murra b. Munqidh fell on 'Ali al-Akbar (a) and said, "I accept responsibility for sins of Arabs if I do not make his father mournful for his death." And blow his sword on Ali's (a) head which made him confused and others attacked him and hit him all over his body. He (a) still had a little strength when he (a) shouted, "O Father! Peace be upon you, this is my grandfather, the Prophet (s) who now has come and removed my thirst with an overflown bowl of water. He (s) says, 'Rush to us'" and then breathed his last and passed on to the next."

After Martyrdom

Coming of Imam al-Husayn (a) to his Son

Imam al-Husayn (a) came to his son and throw himself on him and put his chick on his son's. Imam al-Husayn (a) cursed them: "May God kills people who killed you." He (a) then said, "O my son! How rude and shameful these people are and they disrespect the holiness of the Prophet (s)." and continued, "After you, O my son! Woe be to this world!"

Throwing 'Ali's (a) Blood to Sky

Imam (a) then took a hand full of 'Ali's (a) blood and throw towards the sky. And not a drop of that spilled on the ground.

It is mentioned in a Ziyarah text with reliable source which has been taught by Imam al-Sadiq (a) to Abu Hamza al-Thumali that, "May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O who outrun your father who regarded you and mourned for you. His heart was burned by your tragedy and he (a) threw your blood towards sky in a way not a drop of it returned; and your father's grief for you did not calm down."

Moving his Body towards the Tent of Martyrs

Zaynab al-Kubra (a) came forth mourning together with other women and cried, "O my brother! O my brother!" She (s) came and throw herself on 'Ali's body. Imam al-Husayn (a) sent her sister towards tents. To move 'Ali's (a) body, Imam al-Husayn (a) called the youths of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) saying, "carry your brother!" So, they took 'Ali al-Akbar (a) from where he (a) was martyred and placed him on the ground against the tents.

Cursing the Killers of 'Ali al-Akbar (a)

The murderer of 'Ali al-Akbar (a) has been cursed by Imam al-Mahdi(a) in the Ziyarah al-Nahiya al-Muqaddasa where it reads, "May God Himself judges about your killer, Marra b. Munqidh b. Nu'man al-'Abdi. May God curses him and humiliates him; and makes anyone who participated in your killing and assisted them taste hell which is such a very bad place."


  1. Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, P. 86.
  2. Al-Samawi, Salahshuran-e-taff, P.61.


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