Nafas al-mahmum (book)

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Nafas al-mahmum
Bibliographical Information
'Bibliographical Information
AuthorShaykh 'Abbas Qumi
Original titleنفس المهموم
English translation
En. titleNafasul Mahmum, Relating to the heart rending tragedy of Karbala
En. publisherIslamic Study Circle

Nafas al-mahmūm fī muṣībat sayyidinā l-Ḥusayn al-maẓlūm (Arabic: نَفَسُ المَهموم فی مصیبة سیّدنا الحسین المظلوم), is a book written by Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi, regarding the Battle of Karbala and the following incidents. It begins with the birth of Imam al-Husayn (a) and goes on with his virtues and then describes all the events regarding his allegiance and his martyrdom.


'Abbas b. Muhammad Rida al-Qummi (b. 1294/1877-8 - d. 1359/1941), known as Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi or as Muhaddith Qummi, was one of the prominent Shi'a scholars of the 14th/20th century in hadith, history, preaching and sermon.[1] He was the author of many books in various fields, the most famous ones which are; Mafatih al-jinan, Safinat al-bihar, and Muntaha al-amal. Muhaddith Qummi passed away in the year 1359/1941 in Najaf, and was buried in the shrine of Imam 'Ali (a).[2]


Considering his motivation for writing the book, Shaykh 'Abbas has said:

"I longed to write a brief book about the martyrdom of our master Imam al-Husayn (a), and to cover in a book what I consider authentic and has passed to me from reliable narrators and with a complete chain of narrators. But I was constantly restrained from this purpose by barriers and occupations, until I was honored to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Imam al-Rida (a), and in his holy shrine I prayed and asked God to give me a chance and grant my wish, for that was my greatest desire."


The name of the book is inspired by a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that he said; "the breathing of the stricken by the oppression carried upon us is as praising God (tasbih), and the grief over us is the worship of God, and the reservation and concealment of our secret is jihad for the sake of God."[3] Imam al-Sadiq (a) then added; "this hadith must be written in gold letters." Muhaddith Qummi therefore, has called his book this name (the breathing of the stricken), since it reminds of the miseries of Ahl al-Bayt (a).


The book includes five chapters and a conclusion:

  1. The first chapter; is divided into two parts,
  • The first which covers Imam al-Husayn's (a) virtues, and sequentially describes his courage, knowledge, diction, asceticism, humbleness, and worship,[4]
  • The second discusses the reward of weeping for the misery of Imam al-Husayn (a), and the reward of cursing his murderers.
  1. The second chapter; is about what happened to Imam al-Husayn (a) after people pledged allegiance to Yazid b. Mu'awiya, until the martyrdom of his holiness. This is the longest chapter of the book, including 20 sections, which also describes the martyrdom of Rushayd al-Hajari, Hujr b. 'Adi, and 'Amr b. Hamiq, before the Battle of Karbala.[5]
  2. The third chapter; covers the incidents following the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his brothers, children, and companions in several sections.[6]
  3. The forth chapter; describes what happened by the time Imam al-Husayn (a) was murdered, such as; the cry of the sky, the groan of the angels, and the weep of the genies. [7]
  4. The fifth chapter is about the wives and children of the Imam and the merits of pilgrimage to his tomb, and the oppression of tyrants destroying his holy shrine.[8]
  5. The conclusion covers the Tawwabun and Uprising of al-Mukhtar revolts.[9]


Reporting the Event of Karbala, preachers would use various references before the book Nafas al-mahmum was written, such as; Bihar al-anwar vol. 10, Muthir al-ahzan by Ibn Nima al-Hilli, Muhayyij al-ahzan by al-Sayyid 'Abd Allah Shubbar, al-Luhuf by Ibn Tawus, Maqtal of Abu Mikhnaf, etc. None of these books, though, as 'Ali Dawani observed, quenched the thirst of the seekers of the Event of Karbala and were comprehensive.[10] Muhaddith Qummi therefore, compiled his book from all he knew as authentic and valid in reliable sources.[11]

Shaykh 'Abbas has used the following books as sources:

The author has asked readers to mention the book's name and author when narrating or reporting a part of his book. He stated, "I desire this noble book to be perceived among the Maqtals (books describing the Event of Karbala), and I want preachers to observe this stimulation and to pray for me."

Following this observation, Shaykh 'Abbas mentions plagiarism's impropriety, which he considers as even worse than robbery.


Rumuz al-shahada the translation of the book Nafas al-mahmum


  • This book was first translated into Persian by Mirza Abu l-Hasan Sha'rani titled as Dam' al-sujum. He amended the book in 1396 AH/1976 and translated it into Persian a year later. The disadvantage of this translation is that many explanations and annotations (as poetry or prose) are added to the book, while no distinction has been made between them and the book's actual text.
  • Muhammad Baqir Kamari'i also has translated the book into Persian in 1339 SH/1960-1 titled as Rumuz al-shahada or Dar Karbala chi guzasht.[13] Furthermore, he attached to the book a translation of the book Nafthah al-masdur written by the same author, for he knew it as a complementary to Nafas al-mahmum.[14] Another feature of this translation is that the Arabic poems at the end of the book are replaced with some Persian poems by Muhammad Husayn Isfahani and Akhtar Tusi.[15] 'Ali Dawani has acclaimed this interpretation.[16]
  • This book has been translated into English by Aejaz Ali T Bhujwala (Al Husaynee) as "Nafasul Mahmum, Relating to the heart-rending tragedy of Karbala".[17]


Sayyid 'Ali Kashifi Khwansari has summarized and revised this book.[18]


  1. Adhamnizhād, Ḥāj Shaykh ʿAbbās Qummī, ḥadīth-i nijābat, p. 114.
  2. Ḥusaynī Ashkiwarī, al-Mufaṣṣal fī tarājum al-aʿlām, vol. 2, p. 305.
  3. Mufīd, al-Amālī, p. 338.
  4. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 17-27.
  5. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 60-338.
  6. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 339.
  7. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 433.
  8. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 476.
  9. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 501.
  10. Dawānī, Mafākhir Islām, vol. 11 p. 624.
  11. Dawānī, Mafākhir Islām, vol. 11 p. 624.
  12. Qummī, Nafas al-mahmūm, p. 7-11.
  13. Kāshifī, Khāwnsārī, Guzīda-yi afas al-mahmūm, p. 41.
  14. Kamaraʾī, Rumūz al-shahāda, p. 12.
  15. Kamaraʾī, Rumūz al-shahāda, p. 16.
  16. Dawānī, Mafākhir Islām, volume 11, p. 639.
  18. Kāshifī, Khāwnsārī, Guzīda-yi afas al-mahmūm, p. ?


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