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Elegy of the Caravan Leader

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Rawda-yi Sāribān (Farsi: روضه ساربان) or Elegy of the Caravan Leader is one of the elegies of the evening of 'Ashura. In this elegy, the story of cutting the finger of Imam al-Husayn (a) is mentioned, when the caravan leader cuts the finger of Imam (a) to get the ring. However sometimes, Sariban refers to the leader of the caravan or cameleer of captives.


In al-Hidaya al-kubra, al-Husayn b. Hamdan al-Khasibi (d. 334/945-46) mentions a report that once a person who did not have hands was crying while circumambulation around Ka'ba. He was asked about the reason and that man said, "When Imam al-Husayn (a) was going to Iraq, I was the caravan leader. When I looked at Imam's (a) belt, I found that it was precious, so I was looking for a chance to take it. After Imam (a) was martyred, I tried to open his belt at night, but he (a) took it with his right hand and I took a broken sword and cut his right hand. Then, he (a) prevented me by his left hand and I cut his left hand too. Then, I saw a conveyance coming from the sky on which the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), Lady Fatima (a), and angels were. The head of Imam al-Husayn (a) was placed on his neck and spoke to his mother and complained about me to his mother and the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) came forth and admonished me and cursed me and there, my hands fell off."

Some sources have mentioned his name as Burayda b. Wa'il. Since the original narrator of this story has been al-Khasibi and he has been mentioned as unreliable in sources of rijal (biographical evaluation), this story cannot be accepted, however, the person who cut the finger of Imam (a) to steal his ring was Bajdal b. Sulaym al-Kalbi. It seems that the two stories have been confused among lay people.


In such a gathering, the rawdakhan (the one who narrates the elegy) attributes cutting of the finger of Imam al-Husayn (a) to the caravan leader. Since this incident is said to have happened at night on 'Ashura, this elegy is usually recited in Sham-i Ghariban. However, this is among popular elegies referred to on different occasions. However sometimes, Sariban is mentioned in other elegies referring to the leader of the caravan of captives to Kufa and Syria.

See Also