Soil of Imam al-Husayn's (a) grave
Soil of Imam al-Ḥusayn's (a) grave (Arabic: تربة قبر الإمام الحسين) is a soil taken from around the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a). According to hadiths, the soil has a great value and putting the forehead on it in sujud is recommended. The significance and blessings of this soil have been mentioned in various narrations. Shi'as use the soil for making turba and misbaha. Regarding the significance of the soil it has special rulings.
The area suitable for collecting the soil is mentioned differently. The closer the soil to the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a) the more its magnificence and effects.
Reddening of Turba
It is reported that long before the day of 'Ashura, Gabriel - or another angel - brought the Holy Prophet (s) some soil from Karbala, and told him that it would turn the color of blood when Imam al-Husayn (a) was martyred. The Holy Prophet (s) was very touched, and gave the soil to Umm Salama, who kept it in a glass container. Imam al-Husayn (a) related the story of the soil given to Umm Salama when he arrived at Karbala. According to some narrations, she told him about it when he was about to start his journey from Medina. Some Shi'a narrations state that the soil was with Umm Salama until her death, while others say that it was with Imam al-Baqir (a).
This event has been narrated in both Shi'a and Sunni sources by numerous companions and some wives of the Holy Prophet (s). Due to differences in the reports regarding which angel brought the soil, some suggest that it may have occurred more than once. There are also explicit and implicit mentions of the event in some supplications of the Imams.
Imam 'Ali's (a) Narrations
When Imam 'Ali (a) was passing Karbala before and after the battle of Siffin, he told his companions what the Holy Prophet (s) had said about the significance of the soil of Karbala. When Imam 'Ali (a) was passing the location of Imam al-Husayn (a)'s martyrdom, he cried, referred to the event of 'Ashura and mentioned the significance of the soil of Karbala. In one of these accounts, Imam Ali (a) takes a handful of Karbala's soil and after smelling it says "O' soil! there will be resurrected upon you a group of people who shall enter paradise, provided therein without any reckoning."
Prophet 'Isa (Jesus Christ), along with foreseeing the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), explained the significance of the soil on which he would be martyred to his disciples. Imam al-Rida (a) has kissed soil of Karbala and cried. The Imams have described the soil as being "mubaraka" (blessed), "tahira" (immaculate) and "miska mutabarrika" (blessed Musk). Some reports mention the angels' affection towards the soil of Karbala.
There is a consensus among Shi'a scholars about the permissibility of seeking healing through the soil of the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a), and many works have been produced on the subject. According to some narrations, the healing effect of the soil is conditional to believing in it or believing in the Imamate of Imam al-Husayn (a). The manner of collecting and consuming the soil is also important for its effect.
It is highly recommended to carry some of the soil of Karbala with oneself, as it attracts divine blessings and keeps one secure. Imam al-Rida (a) would put a little of the soil along with anything that he wanted to carry, seemingly for the sake of security.
In the Grave
It is also recommended to place some of the soil in the grave along with a deceased body as means of protection from grave sufferings.
Soil of Karbala causes growth in sustenance, dignity and beneficial knowledge, and eliminates poverty. There is a disagreement as to whether these effects are from consuming the soil or from carrying it.
Soil of the Imam al-Husayn's (a) grave is the best thing to put one's forehead on in sujud (prostration to Allah). Imam al-Sadiq (a) kept some of the soil in a yellow silk cloth, and at the time of prayer, he would put some on his sajjada (prayer mat) for sujud. Performing sujud on the soil and reciting tasbih with a misbaha made of the soil causes one to have a lenient heart (riqqat al-qalb).
The first time that the turbah made from the soil of Karbala - as it is used today for sujud - appears in historical texts, is in a letter from Imam al-Mahdi (a) in the year 308/921 in response to the questions of Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far al-Himyari. In this letter, "lawh min tin al-qabr" (a tablet made from the soil of the grave) is mentioned.
According to a narration from Imam al-Sadiq (a), Lady Fatimah (a)'s misbaha was first made of a woolen thread on which knots were tied to aid in counting. When Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib was martyred in the battle of Uhud, she then made a misbaha using beads made from the soil of his grave. After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), the use of soil from his grave was initiated. According to a narration from Imam al-Sadiq (a), the misbaha made from soil of Imam al-Husayn (a)'s grave are preferred over those made from the soil of Hamza's grave.
Due to its sanctity, there are specific jurisprudential rulings regarding Turba.
- It is forbidden to make the soil najis. If this is done deliberately, it can be considered to be blasphemy.
- The soil that is buried with the body of a deceased person should be placed in a way that does not show disrespect to it.
- Eating the soil for the sake of healing is permissible, while consuming normal soil is forbidden. The amount of the soil permissible to eat for this purpose is limited to the size of a chickpea.
- It is not permissible to consume the soil of the graves of other Imams. The narrations which state that this is permissible are in conflict with other narrations and are generally not accepted by the scholars.
According to different narrations, the area suitable for collecting the soil could be 20 cubits, 25 cubits, 70 cubits, one mile, 4 miles, 10 miles, one league, or 5 leagues from the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a). Although any of these are acceptable according to scholars, it is understood that the closer the soil is from the grave, the more its magnificence and effects.
There are many rituals and prayers for collecting, consuming, and carrying the soil. These include having a ritual bath (ghusl), reciting some verses of the Quran, kissing it, and rubbing it on the eyes. Although the effect of the soil does not depend on these rituals and prayers, performing them may increase the speed and power of the effect.
Hadiths related to the soil of Imam al-Husayn's (a) grave is mentioned in many hadith sources. There is also some works dedicated to the merits and benefits of the soil, including:
- Risala al-sajda 'ala al-turba al-mashwiyya by al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki
- Al-Ardh wa l-turba al-Husayniyya by Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita'
- Al-Istishfa bi l-turba al-sharifa al-Husayniyya by Abu l-Ma'ali al-Kalbasi
The content of this article is mainly taken from تربت in Farsi WikiShia.
- Kamil al-ziyarat, 280, 282, 284, 285 and Bihar al-anwar 98:118,129
- Bihar al-anwar 44:255