The book “Shi’i Islamic Martyrdom Narratives of Imam al-Husayn” leads the Western reader to a clear and profound understanding of a “universal classic” of Islamic studies, the “Maqtal” literature.
The author, Muhammed-Reza Fakhr-Rohani, deploys his vast erudition and expertise and multiplies the possible points of view on the topic, so that the final result is not only a comprehensive study on martyrdom in Shi‘i Islam but also a sophisticated essay on the human nature and on the different interpretations of heroism, sacrifice, and altruism for the common good and community.
Martyrdom narratives (maqtals) represent a prominent genre of Islamic, particularly Shiʽi, literature. In this genre, the heart-rending aspects of the martyrdom scenes of religiously prominent people are depicted graphically. Although not exclusively limited to the martyrdom accounts of Imam al-Ḥusayn and his companions, who were martyred on the plain of Karbala, Iraq, a great majority of Islamic martyrdom narratives deal with the Ashura episodes.
As the first book-length treatment of this genre in English, this text takes the reader from the dawn of Islam in ancient Arabia, exploring the background of the Battle of Karbala and giving a view of the various maqtals and several related studies. Although examining Arabic and Persian sources, this book presupposes little background knowledge on the part of the reader.
About the Author
Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani is a linguist and translator who has been preoccupied with research on the impacts of Ashura in English sources. In addition to compiling Ashura Poems in English (two volumes; 2011), he has translated many Ashura-oriented works from Arabic and Persian into English. He compiled the first Ashura encyclopedic dictionary in English and an Arabic-English dictionary of the titles and designations of Imam al-Ḥusayn, his step-brother, al-ʽAbbās b. ʽAlī, and his elder son, ʽAlī al-Akbar.
Table of Contents
Part One: Background
Leadership: A Quranic-cum-Prophetic Perspective
Part Two: Imam al-Ḥusayn’s Movement
The Medina Phase
The Mecca Phase
From Mecca toward al-Kufah
On the Plain of Karbala
The Ashura Battle of Karbala
Part Three: The Ashura Battle of Karbala
The Ashura Battles: Non-Hāshimid Martyrs
The Ashura Battle of Karbala: Hāshimid Martyrs
Imam al-Ḥusayn’s Martyrdom
Part Four: Maqtal: A Specific Martyrdom-Oriented Genre
Maqtals and the Husayni Maqtals
Maqtals: An Historical Survey
Maqtals and Ashuragraphies in English
Other Types of Maqtals
Sample Annotated Maqtals
Selected Bibliography and Further Reading
Title:The Shi’i Islamic Martyrdom Narratives of Imam al-Ḥusayn: An Introduction
Author (s): Muhammed-Reza Fakhr-Rohani
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Length: 275 Pages
Pub. Date: 15th June 2023