Maqtal al-Husayn (by al-Khwarizmi)

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Maqtal al-Husayn (a)
AuthorAl-Muwaffaq b. Ahmad al-Khwarizmi
Original title مَقتَلُ الحُسَین
SubjectImam al-Husayn (a)
PublisherAnwar al-Huda

Maqtal al-Ḥusayn (a) (Arabic: مَقتَلُ الحُسَین), known as Maqtal al-Khwārizmī (Arabic: مقتل الخوارزمی) is a book written by al-Muwaffaq b. Ahmad al-Khwarizmi (d. 567/1171-2), a sunni scholar. Although the book is called "maqtal" (which refers to books concerned with how Imam al-Husayn (a) was martyred), a considerable part of it as well as its epilogue are concerned with Imam al-Husayn's (a) Uprising and the Event of Karbala. The book is hadith-centered and chains of narrations of hadiths are also mentioned. Although the author is a Sunni scholar, his accounts are considered by many Shiite scholars.


Al-Muwaffaq b. Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Maliki al-Khwarizmi, known as Akhtab Khwarazm (b. 484/1901-2 - d. 567/1171-2), was a scholar of fiqh and hadith, an orator, a man of literature, a poet, and an expert of history and biography. He wrote works such as Manaqib al-Imam Abi Hanifa, Radd al-shams li Amir al-Mu'minin, Qadaya Amir al-Mu'minin, Maqtal Amir al-Mu'minin, Maqtal al-Imam al-Sibt al-Shahid, al-Masanid 'Ali al-Najjari, collection of poems, and Fada'il Amir al-Mu'minin (a) known as Manaqib.[1]

Method of Writing

The book is based on citing hadiths. He also mentions chains of narrations of these hadiths. Some hadiths are short and some are long. The major part of his account of Imam al-Husayn's (a) travel to Karbala is cited from Ibn A'tham, but the events of the Day of 'Ashura are cited from Abi Mikhnaf and other historians.

Khwarizmi's citations from Ibn A'tham are not accurate. He does not quote Ibn A'tham's exact words. He changed the words, although the meaning is preserved.[2]


Although the book is called a "maqtal", its bulk is concerned with other issues. The first third of the book is an elaboration of Ahl al-Bayt's (a) virtues, the second third is about the Event of Karbala, and the last third is about al-Mukhtar's Uprising. The book consists of 15 chapters as follows:

  • Imam al-Husayn (a) in Mecca
  • Imam al-Husayn's (a) leaving Mecca until his martyrdom
  • The fate of Imam al-Husayn's (a) killers
  • Poems and elegies
  • Visiting Karbala
  • Al-Mukhtar's Uprising[3]


Maqtal al-Khwarizmi is significant in different respects:

  • It is old: it is even a century before books such as Luhuf.
  • It cites old sources, such as al-Futuh.
  • His non-Shiite position. Although the author is not Shiite, his book was highly regarded by Shiites, and Imami authors cited his hadiths in their books.[4]

Manuscripts and Publications

Sayyid 'Abd al-'Aziz Tabataba'i mentioned three manuscripts of the book in his Ahl a-Bayt fi l-maktaba al-'arabiyya:

  1. A manuscript in the library of the household of Thiqat al-Islam Tabrizi in Tabriz with the handwriting of Muhammad b. Husayn 'Amidi Najafi.
  2. A manuscript in the National Library of Tabriz.
  3. A manuscript written by Shaykh Muhammad Samawi in Muharram 15, 1361/February 2, 1942.[5]

Maqtal al-Khwarizmi was published three times with the preface of Shaykh Muhammad Samawi: the first was in Najaf in 1367/1947-8 in Matba'a al-Zahra, the second was by Maktabat al-Mufid in 1399/1978-9, and the last was by Dar Anwar al-Huda in 1418/1997-8.[6]


  • Khwārizmī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad. Maqtal al-Ḥusayn (a). Qom: Anwār al-Hudā, 1423 AH.
  • Ranjbar, Muḥsin. Muʿarrifī wa barrasī-yi Maqtal al-Ḥusayn (a) (nigāshta-yi Khwārizmī). Tārīkh-i Islām dar āyina-yi pazhūhish 4 (1383 Sh).
  • Ṣādiqī, Muṣṭafā. Sharḥ-i gham-i Ḥusayn (a): tarjuma-yi taḥqīqī-yi bakhsh-i aṣlī-yi maqtal-i Khwārizmī. Qom: Intishārāt-i Masjid-i Muqaddas-i Jamkarān, 1388 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. Ahl al-Bayt fī l-maktabat al-ʿArabīyya. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1417.
  1. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Ahl al-Bayt fī l-maktabat al-ʿArabīyya, p. 541 and 542.
  2. Ṣādiqī, Sharḥ-i gham-i Ḥusayn (a), p. 10.
  3. Ṣādiqī, Sharḥ-i gham-i Ḥusayn (a), p. 9 and 19.
  4. Ṣādiqī, Sharḥ-i gham-i Ḥusayn (a), p. 8.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Ahl al-Bayt fī l-maktabat al-ʿArabīyya, p. 544 and 545.
  6. Ranjbar, Muʿarrifī wa barrasī-yi Maqtal al-Ḥusayn (a).