Al-Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays

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Al-Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays
Wife of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Full NameAl-Rabab bt. Imri' al-Qays b. 'Adi
Religious AffiliationShi'a
Well-known RelativesImam al-Husayn (a) (husband), Sukayna bt. al-Husayn (daughter), Ali Asghar (son)
Places of ResidenceMedina, Syria
EraUmmayid Dynasty
Known forMother of 'Ali Asghar
ActivitiesBeing present in the Battle of Karbala

Al-Rabāb bt. Imriʾ al-Qays (Arabic: الرَباب 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 Battle of Karbala, and was taken as captive to Syria. One year after the Battle of Karbala, she passed away due to grieving and weeping.


Al-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. According to sources, Hind al-Hunud, the daughter of Rabi' b. Mas'ud b. Musad b. Husn b. Ka'b was her mother.[1]


According to al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin: "As quoted from Hisham b. al-Kalbi in al-Aghani, al-Rabab was among the best women in the aspects of beauty, eloquence, and wisdom."[2]


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).[3]

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid mentioned the names of the children of Imam al-Husayn (a), and also his wives, where al-Rabab is named as his wife.[4] Their marriage is narrated as when Imru' al-Qays came to the 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 Imam al-Hasan (a), and al-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 al-Aghani as Kharija. As stated in Ansab al-ashraf, Umm Ya'la 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 al-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 Ya'la, as a child of Imam Ali (a), therefore, accepting this event and this request of marriage seems highly improbable. At least it raises questions that are unanswered in this narration.


Al-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.[5]

Fondness of Imam al-Husayn (a) toward al-Rabab

According to narrations Imam al-Husayn (a) adored al-Rabab,[6] he (a) even wrote poems to her:

I swear I love the house in which al-Rabab and Sukayna are living[7]

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

And no one can disapprove of my admiration toward them.

Presence in the Battle of Karbala

According to narrations, al-Rabab was present in the Battle of Karbala, and was taken captive to Syria. It is said, she witnessed the martyrdom of Ali al-Asghar in the arms of his father, Imam al-Husayn (a).[8] Ibn Kathir stated: "She accompanied Imam al-Husayn (a), and after his martyrdom, she was heavily grieving."[9]

It is also said that 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 several narrations, al-Rabab stayed in Karbala, near the burial site of Imam al-Husayn (a) for a year and then returned to Medina. However, Qadi Tabatabai believes she returned to Medina after the incident. In addition, Imam al-Sajjad (a) would not let her stay in the deserts of Karbala for a year. He also said: no narration has said with certainty that al-Rabab has stayed in Karbala for a year. Even Ibn al-Athir, who narrated it, did not mention the narrator's name. As a result, this narration seems weak and improbable.[10]

When al-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).[11]

Masqalat al-Tahhan 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. Afterward, she ordered to prepare the syrup as it helped to weep for Imam al-Husayn (a).[12]


Ibn al-Athir wrote about al-Rabab: "After the Battle of Karbala, al-Rabab did not live more than a year during which she was mourning and weeping."[13] Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin stated that al-Rabab has passed away a year after 'Ashura, in 62/681-2.[14]

See Also


  1. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 449.
  2. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 449.
  3. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 195; Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Damascus, vol. 69, p. 119.
  4. Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 135.
  5. Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 135.
  6. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 8, p. 228.
  7. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 449.
  8. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 449.
  9. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 8, p. 229.
  10. Qāḍī Ṭabāṭabāyī, Taḥqīq darbāra-yi awwal-i arbaʿīn, p. 198-200.
  11. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 88.
  12. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 466.
  13. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 4, p. 88.
  14. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 449.


  • Amīn, Sayyid Muḥsin al-. Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Taʿāruf, 1421 AH.
  • Balādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-. Ansāb al-ashrāf. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1417 AH.
  • Ibn ʿAsākir, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan. Tārīkh madīnat Damascus. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1415 AH.
  • Ibn Athīr, ʿAlī b. Muḥammad. Al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1386 AH.
  • Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1408 AH.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1363 Sh.
  • Mufīd, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-. Al-Irshād. Beirut: Mufīd, 1414 AH.
  • Qāḍī Ṭabāṭabāyī, Muḥammad ʿAlī. Taḥqīq darbāra-yi awwal-i arbaʿīn ḥaḍrat-i sayyid al-shuhadāʾ. Tehran: Wizārat-i Farhang wa Irshād-i Islāmī, 1383 Sh.