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Al-Muhsin b. al-Imam 'Ali (a)

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Descendant of Imam
Al-Muhsin b. al-Imam 'Ali (a)
Father Imam Ali (a)
Mother Lady Fatima (a)
Demise 12/632

Al-Muḥsin b. ʿAlī (Arabic: المُحسِن بن علي) is the fifth child of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a). When a group of people promoting the caliphate of Abu Bakr attacked Imam Ali's (a) house to force him pay allegiance to Abu Bakr, Muhsin was aborted and martyred. The date of his martyrdom has not been precisely documented but according to historical accounts, it has occurred forty days or more after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s).


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

According to some narrations, the Prophet (s) named Lady Fatima's (a) third son as Muhassin.

Since Shi'a believes that Muhsin b. Ali was martyred before his birth, only the date of his martyrdom has been mentioned in Shi'a sources.

However, Sunni scholars have two different views regarding his birth and demise. A small number of them believe that both his birth and demise happened during the Prophet's (s) life; while most of their sources have been silent on the date of his birth and only have mentioned that he passed away in childhood. This could be understood from their statements such as:

Ibn Hazm, Ibn Hajar, Abu l-Fida', and Qunduzi have written, "He died in childhood".

Ibn Dimashqi and Ibn Kathir have written, "He died when he was a child."

Al-Tabari and Ibn Athir have written, "He died in childhood".

Ibn Qutayba and Ahmad al-Tabari have said, "He perished when he was a child" and "He perished in childhood".

Al-Baladhuri has mentioned, "He passed on in childhood".

Sibt b. al-Jawzi has said, "He died as an infant".

Salihi al-Shami and Ibn Sabbagh al-Maliki have written, "He died due to miscarriage".

None of the above mentioned sources has stated "during the Prophet's (s) lifetime". The above mentioned statements even may imply that Muhsin was born dead. Only Ibn Hazm has written, "He died in childhood very soon after his birth" which implies that he might have been born alive. So, their statements do not demonstrate that whether Muhsin's birh and demise happened during the Prophet's (s) lifetime or after his demise.

Muhsin in References

The majority of Shi'a and Sunni historical and genealogical references have spoken of Muhsin and a large number of hadiths and historical reports leave no doubts about his existence. Although Shi'a and Sunni references disagree about the date of his birth and the way he passed away, the fact of his existence cannot be false due to the large number of reports.

Shi'a References

Shi'a references have indicated that the reason of Muhsin b. 'Ali's martyrdom was miscarriage, although there are disagreements among them over the way and the time of martyrdom and the person who caused it. Most of Shi'a references have stated that Muhsin b. 'Ali was the son of Lady Fatima (a), some of which are:

And many other Shi'a scholars of next centuries have mentioned his name as the son of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a).

Sunni References

The Sunni references which have mentioned the name of Muhsin as the son of Lady Fatima (a) are as followes:

  1. Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855) in Musnad
  2. Al-Bukhari (d. 256/870) in al-Adab al-Mufrad
  3. Ibn Qutayba (d. 276/889) in al-Ma'arif
  4. Al-Baladhuri (d. 279/892) in Ansab al-ashraf
  5. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Dulabi (d. 310/922) in al-Dhurriyyat al-tahira
  6. Al-Tabari (d. 310/922) in Tarikh al-rusul wa al-muluk
  7. Ibn Hibban al-Busti (d. 354/965) in al-Thiqat
  8. Al-Hakim al-Nishaburi (d. 405/1014) in al-Mustadrak 'ala l-sahihayn
  9. Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (d. 456/1064) in Jamhara ansab al-a'rab
  10. Al-Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066) in al-Sunan al-kubra
  11. Ibn 'Abd al-Barr al-Qurtubi (d. 463/1071) in al-Isti'ab
  12. Al-Shahristani (d. 545/1150) in al-Milal wa al-nihal
  13. Ibn 'Asakir al-Dimashqi (d. 571/1175) in Tarikh Dimashq (in the biography of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a)
  14. Ibn 'Asakir, in Tarjumat al-Imam al-Husayn 'alayhi al-salam min tarikh
  15. Ibn Athir (d. 630/1233) in Usd al-ghaba and in al-Kamil
  16. Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 654/1256) in Tadhkirat al-khawas
  17. Muhibb al-Din al-Tabari (d. 694/1295) in Dhakha'ir al-'uqba
  18. Abu l-Fida' (d. 732/1332) in al-Mukhtasar fi akhbar al-bashar
  19. Shahab al-Din al-Nuwayri (d. 733/1333) in Nihayat al-arab
  20. Shams al-Din Dhahabi (d. 748/1347) in Siyar a'lam al-nubala'
  21. Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1372) in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya
  22. Al-Zarandi (d. 750/1349) in Nazm durar al-simtayn
  23. Haythami (d. 807/1404) in Majma' al-Zawa'id
  24. Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852/1448) in al-Isaba
  25. Ibn Dimashqi (d. 871/1467) in Jawahir al-matalib
  26. Salihi al-Shami (d. 942/1535) in Subul al-huda wa al-rashad
  27. Al-Qunduzi (d. 1294/1877) in Yanabi' al-mawadda

And many others have mentioned the name of Muhsin in the list of Fatima (a) and Ali's (a) children.

The Way He Was Martyred

In many references it is recorded that Muhsin was martyred when the house of Lady Fatima (a) was attacked to force Imam Ali (a) to give allegiance. Ibrahim b. Sayyar known as al-Nazzam (d. 230/845-6), a nobleman of Mu'tazila, and al-Shahristani (d. 548/1153-1154), in his book al-Milal wa al-nihal, say that the blow of the door to the stomach of Lady Fatima (a) on the day of allegiance caused miscarriage of Muhsin. He writes:

"On the day of allegiance, the stomach of Lady Fatima (a) was struck so that she (a) lost her baby and there was a shout that, "Burn her house and those inside it."

Because of this belief and some other beliefs, al-Nazzam has been excommunicated by some Sunnis. This shows that al-Nazzam believed this event has happened, and Shi'a scholars have considered it as an admission by Sunnis and have mentioned it in their works. Also, Ibn Abi l-Hadid has mentioned miscarriage of Muhsin on the day of allegiance in his discussion with his teacher, Abu Ja'far al-Naqib. It is evident that miscarriage of Muhsin happened after the demise of the Prophet (s), when the agents of Abu Bakr were trying to force Ali (a) to pay allegiance.

Date of Martyrdom

The exact date of Muhsin's martyrdom is not known. However, through investigating the historical reports, it can be understood that this event occurred one month after the demise of the Prophet (s) or later and it is not true that the house of Ali (a), as it is widely believed, was attacked several days after the demise of the Prophet (s).

This mistake has happened because, according to the historical reports, the house of Fatima (a) was attacked several times. During the first attack no conflict has occurred, but because some people think that the door of the house was burned in the first attack, they say that Muhsin was martyred several days after the demise of the Prophet (s).

Accordingly, Muhsiniyya Days, which is several beginning days of Rabi' I [and is considered to be the anniversary of martyrdom of Muhsin], is not confirmed by historical reports.

There is some evidence that proves this matter, including social and political movements of Lady Fatima (a) and the return of the army of Usama b. Zayd.

Social and Political Movements of Lady Fatima (a)

Seeking help at night for taking back Fadak could not have happened when Lady Fatima (a) was sick, because, according to a tradition quoted from Imam al-Sadiq (a), Lady Fatima (a) became seriously sick after being struck. This tradition indicates that some of social movements of Fatima (a) against the government have been before her sickness, some of which are as follows:

Seeking Help from Muhajirun and Ansar

One of the social movements of Lady Fatima (a) was going to Muhajirun and Ansar's houses to gather support. According to Salman al-Farsi's sayings, after caliphate was usurped and Fadak was expropriated, Ali (a), Fatima (a), and Hasanayn (a) went to Muhajirun and Ansar's houses and invited them to support them to regain their rights. Since, according to Salman's words, after the event of attack to the house of Lady Fatima (a) and miscarriage of her baby, she (a) was constantly sick until she (a) was martyred, it can be concluded that her house was not attacked before her nightly visits with Muhajirun and Ansar. Because in the case of attacking her house, she (a) would not be able to go to many houses of Muhahirun and Ansar (even only the houses of those who participated in the ‌‌‌Battle of Badr).

Fadakiyya Sermon

Main article: Fadakiyya Sermon

Fadakiyya Sermon and the way Lady Fatima (a) went to the mosque indicate that she (a) was not sick that time. Regarding the way Lady Fatima (a) went to the mosque to deliver Fadakiyya Sermon, Ibn Abi l-Hadid writes, "She (a) went to the mosque accompanied by a group of women, wearing a chador which reached the ground. She (a) walked like the Prophet (s)". From this description it can be understood that at the time of delivering the sermon, the attack had not taken place yet. Because if her house was attacked and she (a) was struck, she (a) would not be able to walk in the ordinary way so that the narrator could not analogize her walk to the Prophet's (s).

The return of Usama b. Zayd to Medina

According to some evidence, the house of Lady Fatima (a) was attacked after the return of Usama b. Zayd's army. The presence of a person called Burayda b. Husayb al-Aslami, whose name has been mentioned in the event of attack and who had attended Usama's army, indicates that the attack could not happen in the beginning days of Rabi' I, because Usama's army returned to Medina almost more than one month after the demise of the Prophet (s). Burayda supported Imam Ali (a) during this event.


  • The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from محسن بن علی in Farsi Wikishia.