Rawdat al-shuhada' (book)

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Rawdat al-shuhada'
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
AuthorMulla Husayn Wa'iz Kashifi
Original titleرَوضَة الشُّهَداء
SubjectMartyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the tragedies of the event of Karbala

Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ (Arabic: رَوضَة الشُّهَداء) is a book in Farsi about the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the tragedies of the event of Karbala written by Mulla Husayn Wa'iz Kashifi (d. 910/1504-5). The reason for naming mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn (a) in Iran as "Rawda" has been reciting this book in such gatherings. Rawdat al-shuhada' was the reason for the publication of other Maqtals (reports of Imam's (a) martyrdom) at the times of Safavid and Qajar dynasties. In Hamasa-yi Husayni, Shahid Mutahhari seriously criticized some of the reports in this book.

About the Author

Kamal al-Din Husayn b. Ali Wa'iz Kashifi Sabziwari (d. 910/1504-5) was a scholar of the ninthth/fifteenth and 10th/16th centuries from Sabzevar. Kashifi wrote the book toward the end of his life. Mulla Husayn was a religious lecturer and poet; that is why he had the title of "Wa'iz" and his pen name as "Kashifi". His sessions and lectures have been famous at that time and those contemporary with him have reported about his position among people and before the rulers of his time.[1] One of the features of Rawdat al-shuhada which made it lasting is its fluency and flow of the content.[2] There are different opinions about the religious affiliation of the author.[3]

He died in 910/1504-5 and his grave is now in Sabzevar on the way between the grave of Haj Mulla Hadi Sabziwari and the building of Musalla of the city.

In Words of Aqa Buzurg Tihrani

About the book, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani said, Rawdat al-shuhada is in brilliant Farsi and written by Mawla Wa'iz Husayn b. 'Ali Kashifi Bayhaqi. This book is arranged into 10 chapters and an ending. At the ending of the book, the author has written the lineage of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) and the biography of a group of their descendants. The ending of the book is in 34 pages with the title of "Ansab Sibtay al-Nabi (s)".

Some have mentioned this possibility that this book has been the first Maqtal in Farsi which has spread among Farsi speakers to the extent that the reciter of this book was called "Rawza Khan"; however, it will be mentioned in the chapter regarding Maqtals that Farsi Maqtal existed before Rawdat al-shuhada, from which Kashifi has quoted and that is the Farsi Maqtal written by Abu l-Mafakhir Razi, from whom, Rawdat al-shuhada has quoted a poem.

Purpose of Writing

Following the request of one of the noble people of Harat and since there was no comprehensive text for the tragedies of Imam al-Husayn (a) and the Battle of Karbala, the author found it necessary to write such a text and even tried to translate Arabic poems as well.[4]


The book has 10 chapters and an ending which briefly discusses the lives of the 12 Imams (a), but the main purpose of the author is discussing the tragedies of Imam al-Husayn (a),[5] for which he begins with the trials of the prophets (a) and the cruelties of Quraysh towards the Prophet (s).[6]

Chapters of the Book

  • First Chapter: On the trials of some of the Prophets (Peace be upon them)
  • Second Chapter: on the cruelties of Quraysh and other disbelievers towards the Master of the Righteous (the Prophet (s))
  • Third Chapter: On the demise of the Master of the prophets (a)
  • Forth Chapter: On some of the states of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a)
  • Fifth Chapter: On some of the states of Imam 'Ali (a) from birth to martyrdom
  • Sixth Chapter: On virtues and states of Imam al-Hasan (a) from birth to martyrdom
  • Seventh Chapter: On virtues and merits of Imam al-Husayn (a) from birth to martyrdom
  • Eighth Chapter: On the martyrdom of Muslim b. 'Aqil b. Abi Talib and some of his children
  • Ninth Chapter: On arrival of Imam al-Husayn (a) in Karbala and his severe battle with the enemies
  • Tenth Chapter: On the events that happened to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) after the Battle of Karbala
  • Ending: On the lineage of the Infallible Imams (a)[7]


Although Kashifi has not clearly mentioned the references of Rawdat al-shuhada' , reading through the book, it can be inferred that the books it has quoted from are: Futuh for Ibn A'tham al-Kufi, Rawdat al-ahbab, Shawahid al-Nubuwwa, 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, Kanz al-ghara'ib, Masabih al-qulub, Maqtal al-Shuhada', Nur al-A'imma. The author has also benefited from many unknown and unauthentic sources. He has not followed an accurate method to cite from these sources either.

It seems that the author has been more inclined toward making stories and telling tales than remaining loyal to narrate from authentic sources.[8]

Importance and Features

According to what is mentioned in the preface of the book, strong prose style accompanied with poems, historical account, verses and hadiths, an abundance of theological, historical, and jurisprudential information, benefiting from a variety of sources especially non-Shi'a ones, comprehensiveness and being the first common Maqtal are among the advantages of the book.

Regarding its fluent and beautiful prose style, the book soon became popular at its time and even today it receives indirect attention in mourning ceremonies. It has been translated to different languages and converted to poetic style many times so far.


Regardless of its popularity, this book has been criticized and seriously objected to by scholars and researchers of the next generations due to the weaknesses of its content. From the viewpoint of the critics, the most important problem of Rawdat al-shuhada' is its Sufi tendency, wrong narrations and tale-telling. Critics have pointed out that the book has only mentioned the hardships and does not narrate an epic and political account of the Battle of Karbala and does not look through its causes and nature either.

Scholars such as Mirza 'Abd Allah Afandi in his Riyad al-'ulama', Mirza Husayn Nuri in his Lu'lu' wa marjan and Shahid Mutahhari in his Hamasa-yi Husayni have mentioned objections and criticisms about Rawdat al-shuhada.


This book was first printed in Lahore in 1908-9, then in Mumbai in 1952-3, and later in Tehran in 1954-5. Later, this book was printed many more times.


  1. Nāṣirī Dāwūdī, Tashayyuʿ dar Khurāsān-i ʿahd-i Tiymūrī, p. 177.
  2. Jaʿfarīyān, "Mullā Husayn Wāʿiẓ Kāshifī wa Kitāb-i Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ". p. 267.
  3. Dabīrān and Tasnīmī, "Kāshifī wa naqd wa barrasī-yi Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ". p. p. 28-30.
  4. Jaʿfarīyān, "Mullā Husayn Wāʿiẓ Kāshifī wa Kitāb-i Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ", p. 262.
  5. Jaʿfarīyān, "Mullā Husayn Wāʿiẓ Kāshifī wa Kitāb-i Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ", p. 263.
  6. Jaʿfarīyān, "Mullā Husayn Wāʿiẓ Kāshifī wa Kitāb-i Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ", p. 262.
  7. Kāshifī, Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ, p. 24.
  8. Jaʿfarīyān, "Mullā Husayn Wāʿiẓ Kāshifī wa Kitāb-i Rawḍat al-shuhadāʾ", p. 262-263.


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