Maqtal al-Husayn (by al-Khwarizmi)

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Maqtal al-Husayn (by al-Khwarizmi)
مقتل خوارزمی.jpg
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 known as Manaqib.

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.


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


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.

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:

  • A manuscript in the National Library of Tabriz.

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.