You are on page 1of 12



61 H.J680 C.E.
Kwamina A. Muhammadu

P.o. BOX 53398
CHICAGO, IL 60653, U.S.A.



In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

This is a selection of Islamic sources on John, the Black Martyr of Kur-
bala, Iraq, in the company of Imam Husayn (A.), the grandson of Pro-
phet Muhammad (p.) in 61/680.

It is arranged chronologically from the earliest sources found, the
year 252 H-'866 C.E. Only the reference, the title, the author and the
translation of the related passages are presented.

By no means this list can be considered complete; only book
available at the private library of Sayyid Jalall we consulted, hoping to
supply more references in the future editions.

Kwamina A. MuhammadU
Chicago, IL. USA

I_HI.;. 'J, i-L- .•.•'J, i).~!'1, iJ.!I (J~I ~

(.r ) <J .l_7;' ~ I ~ C::J.••'il --:-llal ~~ /- 1 4; I,
r.- •.•I, ~.:ll J LJ';\' J ,r1l~.,..(.:,1 .l!)

"My Mission is tu lead to the right path
1/1/(110 correct that which is wrong .... "
Imam Husayn


Muharram- What is it?
The IIICIIHII Y 01 Muharram is alive ill the hearb of every Muslim, the
followers of Alii al-Bayt. 11 is a source: 01 inspn uuon, courage, and heroic at-
titude t •. ,talld uguinst evil.
Muluu r am is the first month of the: Islamic culeudur during which Muslnus
couuucmorurc the uuutyrdoru of IlIIalO Husayu, the: go .•. I~.l)l\ 01 the Prophet
Muhauuuad 1'10111his daughter latima al-Zahra (P),


Imam IlmaYII was born on 3rd of Shu'ban in the: 4th year of the: Islamic
calendar. b25 C. E. in the Holy city of Medina, Arabia. I lis grandfather
named him l lusayu which means one of high esteem and beautiful character.
Only, to horn, his grandfather, his father, his mother, and his brother, the Ho-
ly Qur'an refers: "Indeed God desires 10 purify you; Oh; the people: of the
house." The Qur'an 33:33, Thus, on many occasions, the Prophet (P) in-
dicated that his grandson al-Husayn is the most qualified as huam. Once he
said: "Husayu is horn me, ami I am from Ilusayn." 1'1·,' Prophet (1)) also said
of him and his brother al-Hasan: "These twu are may sous. .. They are two 111I-

With ('Illiph •.•te

Oil the urhcr hand, contrary to the teachings of the Prophet, fur the: first
time ill thc: lstamic history, Mu'awiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan changed
Muslun leadership to an inheritance as opposed to all election. lie thereby ap-
pointed his son Yazid as his successor, who was not fit for tlus position, AI this
puiut , luuuu IIl1saYII declared t he false foundation of such a change. Conse-
qucnuy, allt~' the death of Mu'awiya, most uf Muslims looked toward Imam
111I,>ayn as their religious leader. Thus, creating rescuuueru on the: pari of
Ya/id, he deuuuulcd relinguishmcru of Imam l lusayn's leadership.

Thr Mlsslun

huarn Ilusayn declared that: "We are Ihe family of the Prophet ami wc have
the true message of God. Yazid is a corrupt person and 1 cauuot support him."
Meanwhile, most of residents of the city of Kufa, Iraq, sent over IO.I)()() letters
of support to the Imam inviting him to their city which wus OIlC of the largest
city at the time. Therefore, the Imam sent his cousin Muslim SUII of Aqed to
review the circumstances concerning the invitation. The people overwhelming-
ly welcomed him, but the propaganda of ( nnayyads was able 10 crush the mis-
furthermore, lmam l lusavn declared that "I was not born an evil nm a cruel
man. I alii not a corrupt person. My mission is 10 lead the Muslim nation 10 the
right path and to correct that which is wrong. I must follow (.iod's orders 10
couunend kindness and stop evil."

Imam and Yazld

However, Imam was fully aware that Yazid will never allow him to live
because: the life of IlIIalO Husayn was a threat 10 Yazid's throne. The throne
which had foundation of cruelty, injustice and hvpocricy ill contrast 10 the
true Muslim leadership which was established to protect Muslim nation. Final-
ly, as huam had predicted, the army of Valid attacked Ituaru lIusayn's small
party totaled 72 persons, fighting against the army of Valid of IU,OO() rneu as it
is documented.

The just cause

The Iloly Qur'an says: "Fight ill the cause of God those whu fight against
you, bUI do not exceed the limit. It The Qur'an 2: 190. Accordingly, lmam Hu-
saYII gave his life to very just cause and his martyrdom became the symbol uf
just ice.
Annually, 011 Ashura, the IOlh of Muharr am, the fi'SI ruouth of Islamic
calendar. Muslims conunemorute this mart yrdom. Beginning wit h the Jirst UII·
til IOlh of Muharram, Majalis (gatherings) are held almost ill every residence
of Ihe followers of Ahl al-Bayt 10 read the events which had Ia"W plan: during
these ten days in the desert of Karbala, Iraq. Furthermore, on this anniversary,
some travel Irom around the world tu huld III attend t!ln.: g.uher iugs ill the
lIoly city or Karbala where the actual events took place.
III short , Ihe eve," ~ of Muh.u ram changed Ihe history of lvl.uu and ga ve Ihe
hc\t ex.uuplc ul scltvacr itice tor the sake 01 truth and ill~liu:.

Mnlunn uuu! 1I1/\!JUIII Julali


252 A.H./866 C.E.
260 A.H.l873 C.E.

Imam recommends the followers of Ahl-at-Bayt to send their salutes
to all martyrs of Kurbala. In their Zlyara·, the following should be

"Assalam 'ala John maula Abl dhar al-Ghltary."
Salutation to John of Abl dhar al-Gnltar].

This is repeated by:

1. Abu Ja'far Muhammad Ibn Hasan al-Tusl, d. 460/1067 said,
2. Shaykh Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad b. Ahmed b. 'Ayash said,
3. Shaykh Abu Mansur b. Abdul Mun'im b. Nu'man al-Baghdadi
4. Shaykh Muhammad b. Ghallb Isfahani reported the Ziyarat " in
the year 252 A.H./866 C.E.

Both Sayyid Ibn Tawus d. 664/1246 and Ibn al-Mushhad, d. 569/1173,
mention their chain of Isnad to al-Tusl, d. 460/1067.

Ibn Tawus, Radi ai-Din 'Ali b. Ja'far al-Hilll, 664/1246, /qba/ et-A'me),
Tehran, Oar al-Kutub al-Islamyyih, 1390, p. 712.

Mohammad b. al-Nu'rnan al·Bughdadl

He reports that Imam 'Ali b. al-Husayn (A) said, "I was sitting on the
night before the day on which my father was killed, my aunt, Zalnab,
was with me taking care of me, suddenly my father left to his tent.
With him was Joon the maula of Abu Dhar al-Ghifari while preparing
his sword.

Mufid, Muhammad b. Nu'man, ei-trsnea, Haydarlyyah Press, Najaf,
Iraq, 1381 = 1962, p. 232.


In his bibliographical source known as Rija/ al· Tusi lists the name
of John among the companions of Imam Husayn (A). In this source on-
ly one name as "John" is listed.

Tusi Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Hasan, d. 460/1067.
Rijal et- Tusl, NaJaf: Haydaryyah Press, p. 72.


This source reports the collective Ziyarah' of Martyrs of Kurbala.
The chain of Isnad from the author to the Shaykh al-Tusi, d. 460/1067
goes as follows;
1. Ibn al-Musnnadt Muhammad b. Ja'Iar b. 'Ali b. Ja'far al-Ha'lri, d.
after 569/1173 said,
2. Sharif Abu Muhammad b. Muhammad Jafaryyah said,
3. Shaykh 'Imad al-Dln Muhammad b. Abi Qasim al-Taban said,
4. al·Shaykh al-Tusl reports the Ztyarat ' [also,]
5. Shaykh Abu 'Abdallah Husayn b. Hibat b. Rutbah, said
6. Abu 'Ali Hasan b. Muhammad al-Tusi said,
7. [His father) al·Shaykh al-Tusl reports the Ziyarat. *

Ibn al-Mashhadi, Muhammad b. Ja'far, 569H/1173C. Manuscript
Sayyid Jalali's private library #569.


In his book Manaqib al Abi Talib reports two of poems that John
saidl when he started his fight on the day of Ashura* Muharram* 10,
61/679. His poems read:

How the world of sinful see the fight of the Black.
By his sword that cuts sharply,
By the shining sword to help the children of Muhammad
I defend them by [both] tounge and heart.

Ibn Shahrashab, Rashid al-Din Muhammad b. 'Ali, d. 588/1192,
Manaqib a/ Ab; Talib, Qum, 1379, v. 4, p. 103.



He refers to John in his book al-Iqbal the Ziyarat mentioned before
(see p. ). In addition, in his book al-Luhuf, says In parts .
. j,>-

Then John the Black al Abi Ohar went and asked permission of lrn-
am Husayn to fight. Imam said, you came with us to seek life not
death; do not bring harm to yourself by following our way.

John replied, "Oh the son of Messenger of God! I was with you dur-
ing the easy time, I will not leave at the difficult time. By God my :,.:

genealogy-Is not like yours and I am black so permit me to fight so I
find relief In paradise. By God, I do not leave you until this black blood
mixes with your blood." Then he fought and he Vias killed.

lbn Tawus, Radi ai-Din 'Ali, 664/1246, et-Lukut fi Qatla et- Tufut, Na·
jaf: Haydriyyah Press, p. 45.


He designed his book on the biography of Shl'ah into two sections.
The first section, he list all of these what has been praised. Among
them, he lists John.

Ibne Oawud, Taqi al-Dln Hasan b. 'Ali b. Dawud al-Hilli, d. 707/1307c.
Kifab et-Biiet, Najaf: Haydariyyah Press, 1392/1972, p. 67.


In his biographical source A 'yan et-Shiten quotes the sources
before him. The most Important point is that John was of Tarnim tribe.
He is Juwayn, son of Malik, son of Qayth, son of Ta'laba al-Tanlrnl. He
joined his tribe to fight against Imam Husayn. But when he saw the
Imam and found the truth he joined the Imam's camp.

Amin, Muhsin, 137111952, A 'yan et-Snren. Beirut: Oar al-Ta'arf,
1406 = 1986, v, 4, p. 299.


,.. In his book, Maqtal al·Husayn, the martyrdom of Imam Husayn,
gives the conversation which tc-k place between John and the Imam
(A). He adds few sources to the conversation mentioned before (see
'- page ). Muqarram lists the sources that differ on the spelling of
John's name as follows: et- Tabari, v. 6, p. 254 (Hawa>;"Manaqib Ibn
Shahrashah, v. 2. p. 218, (Jewin); Msqtal a/·Hussyn by Khawrazmi, v, 1,
p. 237 (Joan). From the conversation see Muthlr al·Ahzsm by Ibn Nairn,
p. 33, et- Tuhuf, p. 61, and Maqta/ a/·'Awalim, p. 88.

Muqarram, Abd al-Razzaq, 139111971. Beirut: Oar al-Kltab al-lslamt,
1979 1899.


Masjllsl, In two of his books, mentions John. In al·Wa; al-Rijal
says that "John was among the martyrs of Karbala." In his Blhar et-
Anwar list the Zayrah* In which the name of John listed among the
martyrs twice.

Majllsi, Muhammad Baqir, 1111/1699, al-Wa/lza fi al-Rijal, private
manuscript Sayyld Jalall's Library, and Bihar a/-Anwar, v. 45, p. 22. and
v. 101, p. 340, Oar al-Kutub al-Islamyyah, 1380.


He quotes all the sources before him in a lengthy biography. The im-
portant parts are the following: John was son of Hawa, son of Qutada,
son of A'war, son of Sa'lda, son of Aauf, son of Ka'b, the Moula of Abu
Dhar al·Ghaffarl. He was slave of Mufudal b. Abbas. Imam 'All bought
him for 15 dinars and was with Abu Ohar in 'Rabadhan*. He was with
Abdu Dhar until his death In 32 A.H. and remained with Amer al-
Mumeneen, then Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. He went with Ahl-al-
Bayt to Karbala. -

Mamaghanl Abdullah, 1351/1932, Tanqih al-Maqal, Naja':
Lethograph, 1349, V. 1, p. 238.



In his biographical source, Mu'jan Rijal el-Hedith, says, "Juwayn
(Juwar) son of Malik is the companion of Imam Husayn (A)... He is
listed among the martyrs with Imam (P).There is greeting upon him in
two Ziyarats' known as al·~<lhiyyah· and al-Haiablvah ' ."

Khu'i, Abul-Oasirn, Mu'jam Rijal·al·Hadith, Najaf: Adab, 1973, v. 4, p.

Note: The two mentioned ziyarats are recorded in Bihar al·Anwar, el-
Nahiyyah in v. 101, p. 273, and al·Rajabiyyah in vol. 101, p. 340.
Islamyyah Press, 1388.


In his biographical source quotes all of the sources before namely:

RiiAI al- Tusi, et-Hurut, a/-Bihar,
et-trsned, and et- Taburi.

Tustari, Muhammad Taqi, Qamus al·Rijal fi Tahqiq Rowat et-Sni'o
Tehran: Markaz Nashr Kltab, 1389, v. 2, p, 467.


In his book, Malaral Ahl ut-Beyt, the Shrines of Ahl ul-Bayt, he lists
the names of 72 companions of Imam Husayn who were martyred in
Karbala, Iraq, on the day of Ashura", 10th of Muharram', 61/680. He
says, "John the Maula ' of Abu Dhar fought and killed 25 men from the
enemies of Imam Husayn until he was killed."

Jalali, Muhammad Husayn, Mazarat Ah/ ul-Bayt. Beirut: oarl al-
Zahrali o. 82. First edition, 1409/1988, p. 82.