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Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays

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Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays
Wife of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Full Name Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays b. 'Adi
Well-known As Rabab
Religious Affiliation Twelver Shi'a
Well-known Relatives Imam al-Husayn (a) (husband), Sukayna bt. al-Husayn (daughter), Ali Asghar (son)
Places of Residence Medina, Syria
Death/Martyrdom 62/681-2
Era Yazid b. Mu'awiyya, Ummayid Dynasty
Known for Wife of Imam al-Husayn (a), Mother of Ali Asghar
Activities Being present in the Event of Karbala

Rabāb bt. Imriʾ al-Qays (Arabic: رَباب بنت إمرِئ القَیس) was the wife of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the mother of 'Ali al-Asghar ('Abd Allah al-Radi') and Sukayna. She was known as a knowledgeable and eloquent woman. She was present in the Event of Karbala, and she was taken as captive to Syria. She passed away one year after the Battle of Karbala due to grieving and weeping.


Rabab was the daughter of Imru' al-Qays b. 'Adi. Her father was 'Arab Christian from Syria who converted to Islam in the time of the second caliph, 'Umar b. al-Khattab. According to sources, Hind al-Hunud, the daughter of Rabi' b. Mas'ud b. Musad b. Husn b. Ka'b, was her mother.


According to al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin: "As quoted from Hisham b. al-Kalbi in al-Aghani, Rabab was among the best women in the aspects of beauty, eloquence, and wisdom."


It is narrated due to fondness toward 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), Imru' al-Qays accepted the marriage of his three daughters with Imam 'Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), and Imam al-Husayn (a).

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid mentioned the names of the children of Imam al-Husayn (a), and also his wives, where Rabab is named as his wife. Their marriage is narrated as: When Imru' al-Qays came to mosque and converted to Islam in the time of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, he saw Imam 'Ali (a) and his sons, Al-Hasan (a) and Al-Husayn (a), on the way back to his house. Imam 'Ali (a) said to him: I am 'Ali b. Abi Talib, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad (s), and they are my sons. We request to marry your daughters. Then Imru' al-Qays accepted their request and let his daughter Mahya marry Imam 'Ali (a), Salma (according to al-Baladhuri: Zaynab) marry with Imam al-Hasan (a), and Rabab marry with Imam al-Husayn (a).

Apparently 'Awf was the only narrator of the cited event, whose father's name was mentioned in Ansab al-ashraf as Haritha, and in Tarikh madina al-Dimashq (History of Damascus) and in al-Aghani as Kharija. As stated in Ansab al-ashraf, Umma Yu'li was the child of Imam 'Ali (a) and Mahya, Imam al-Hasan and Zaynab did not have a child, while Sukayna was the child of Rabab and Imam al-Husayn.

Because this event was only narrated by only one source, also al-Shaykh al-Mufid did not mention the name of Umm Yu'li, as a child of Imam 'Ali (a), as result accepting this event and this request of marriage seems highly improbable. At least it raises questions which are unanswered in this narration.


Rabab gave birth to two children from Imam al-Husayn (a), Sukayna and 'Abd Allah. 'Abd Allah ('Ali al-Asghar) was martyred in the Battle of Karbala in the arms of his father, while he was an infant.

Fondness of Imam al-Husayn (a) toward Rabab

According to narrations Imam al-Husayn (a) adored Rabab, he even wrote poems to her:

I swear I love the house in which Rabab and Sukayna are living

I loved them dearly and I sacrifice all my belongings to them

And no one can disapprove my admiration toward them.

Presence in the Battle of Karbala

According to narrations, Rabab was present in the Battle of Karbala, and she was taken as captive to Syria. It is said, she witnessed the martyrdom of 'Ali al-Asghar in the arms of his father, Imam al-Husayn (a). Ibn Kathir stated: "She accompanied Imam al-Husayn (a), and after his martyrdom she was heavily grieving."

It is also said she held the holy head of Imam al-Husayn (a) in the palace of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad and said:

Oh, Husayn; I will never forget you your body was hurt by enemies' spear They betrayed him in Karbala and martyred him Oh! Allah, bring drought to Karbala

After the Battle of Karbala

As stated in a number of narrations, Rabab stayed in Karbala, near the burial site of Imam al-Husayn (a), for a year and then returned to Medina. However, Qadi Tabatabai believed, she came back to Medina after the incident. In addition, Imam al-Sajjad (a) would not let her stay in deserts of Karbala for a year. He also said: no narration has said with certainty that Rabab has stayed in Karbala for a year. Even Ibn al-Athir, who narrated it, did not mention the name of the narrator. As a result this narration seems weak and improbable.

When Rabab came back to Medina, she was offered requests for marriage and she refused them all; she said I want no other father-in-law after the Prophet Muhammad (s).

Masqalat al-Tahan narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a): When Imam al-Husayn (a) was martyred, his Kilabiyya wife held mourning ceremonies and they all wept for Imam until their tears gone dry, except for one of the servants who was still constantly weeping for Imam al-Husayn (a). When she asked her about the reason, she replied: I drank Sawiq syrup. Afterwards she ordered to prepare the syrup as it helped to weep for Imam al-Husayn (a).


Ibn al-Athir wrote about Rabab: "After the Battle of Karbala, Rabab lived only for a year, in which she was mourning and weeping." Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin stated that Rabab has passed away a year after 'Ashura, in 62/681-2.

See Also