Di’bil’s Ode for Imam al-Rida (a)

Translated by Br. Muhammed Jaffer. Regarding the life of Di’bil, click here.

This is the famous 120 stanza Taa’iyyah of Di’bil al-Khuzaa’i’s (d. 246 AH) translated into rhyming English couplets, adhering to the meter of iambic pentameter as much as possible. This poem is deeply rooted in early Shi’i identity and creed as it was recited in the presence of Imam Rida (a) in its entirety and was sealed by his approval when the Imam (a) told Di’bil, “Indeed the Spirit of Truth has spoken on your tongue. Well done! Well done!” The translation is accompanied by copious footnotes based on the Persian commentary and translation of the poem by ‘Allamah Majlisi.
تجاوبن بالأرنان والزفراتThey echo in sighs and exasperations
نوائح عجم اللفظ والنطقاتMourners in tongues, odd articulations75
يخبرن بالأنفاس عن سر أنفسOf spirits’ secrets, their breaths are informing
أسارى هوى ماض وآخر آتOf a past love captives and another approaching74
فأصعدن أو أسففن حتى تقوضتLike birds they do flutter in their plight
صفوف الدجى بالفجر منهزماتUntil the dawn quashes armies of night73
على العرصات الخاليات من المهىUpon plains bereft those gazelles of grace72
سلام شج صب على العرصاتBe the praise of a lover, fierce in their chase
فعهدي بها خضر المعاهد مالفاFor my mind does yearn for when they were green
من العطرات البيض والخفراتAdorned by aromas, so pure and pristine71
ليالي يعدين الوصال على القلىAnd for nights that give our longing succor
ويعدى تدانينا على الغرباتAgainst separation and pangs of a lover70
واذهن يلحظن العيون سوافراWhen they did exchange with me stealthy glances
ويسترن بالأيدي على الوجناتAnd covered their cheeks to ward my advances69
وإذ كل يوم لي بلحظي نشوةAnd when each glance instilled such fervor
يبيت لها قلبي على نشواتAnd filled my heart with passion yet further68
فكم حسرات هاجها بمحسرSo what anguish does strike it in Muhasser
وقوفي يوم الجمع من عرفاتWhen it mires in Arafat without its lover?67
ألم تر للأيام ما جر جورهاDon’t you see fate’s crimes and afflictions
على الناس من نقض وطول شتاتUpon the people in their many derelictions?66
ومن دول المستهزئين ومن غداAnd in the reigns of the Truth’s lampooners
بهم طالبا للنور في الظلماتWho are sought in darkness as Light’s pursuers65
فكيف ومن انى يطالب زلفةBut how and from where is sought vicinity
إلى الله بعد الصوم والصلواتTo God after all the fasting and liturgy
سوى حب أبناء النبي ورهطهExcept in the love for Prophetic progeny
وبغض بني الزرقاء والعبلاتAnd hatred of Marwan and Umayyah, the enemy
وهند وما أدت سمية وابنهاAnd of Hind the liver-eater, Sumayyah and son64
أولوا الكفر في الاسلام والفجراتWhose debauchery by none can be outdone63
هم نقضوا عهد الكتاب وفرضهThey negate the Book: its every duty
ومحكمه بالزور والشبهاتAnd fling its truth with doubts unduly
ولم تك الا محنة كشفتهمExcept as a trial to expose their scandal
بدعوى ضلال من هن وهناتTheir reign was not; yes, what a shamble!62
تراث بلا قربى وملك بلا هدىHeritage plundered and a reign misguided,
وحكم بلا شورى بغير هداةRule with no counsel or guidance provided!
رزايا أرتنا خضرة الأفق حمرةAffliction that turns to red aqua horizons
وردت أجاجا طعم كل فراتAnd from every fresh stream sweetness siphons61
وما سهلت تلك المذاهب فيهمA discord not sown except by facility
على الناس الا بيعة الفلتاتFrom that allegiance of “serendipity”60
وما قيل أصحاب السقيفة جهرةBy Saqifah’s folk in clear words brazenly
بدعوى تراث في الضلال بتاتTo spurious claims of Prophetic legatee
ولو قلدوا الموصى إليه أمورهاNay! Had they handed affairs to its heir
لزمت بمأمون على العثراتPreserved it would be with no chance to err:
أخا خاتم الرسل المصفى من القذىBrother of the Seal, purified of corruption
ومفترس الابطال في الغمراتThe paladin hunter in war’s eruption
فان جحدوا كان الغدير شهيدهAnd if they belie, then Ghadeer is his witness
وبدر واحد شامخ الهضباتAnd Badr; and Uhud: of mountains pernicious
وآي من القرآن تتلى بفضلهIndeed the Qur’an does speak of his merit
وايثاره بالقوت في اللزباتThrough disaster charity hymns to his credit59
وغر خلال أدركته بسبقهاMerits that in his cast are cemented
مناقب كانت فيه مؤتنفاتUnique in their form, unprecedented58
مناقب لم تدرك بكيد ولم تنلMerits that fly above all procurement
بشئ سوى حد القنا الذرباتAnd only yield to cold steel’s allurement57
نجي لجبريل الأمين وأنتمBehold! He was Gabriel’s close confidant
عكوف على العزى معا ومناةWhile to ‘Uzza and Manaat you did vaunt!56
بكيت لرسم الدار من عرفاتI weep at Arafat on that House’s remnants
وأذريت دمع العين بالعبراتAnd rain down tears, as though in torrents
وفك عرى صبري وهاجت صبابتيMy patience disbanded, my passions alighted
رسوم ديار قد عفت وعراتAt the signs of abodes left unrequited:
مدارس آيات خلت من تلاوةAcademies of Signs, of rehearsers detained
ومنزل وحي مقفر العرصاتRevelation’s home, in barren terrains
لآل رسول الله بالخيف من منىOf the Prophet’s kin, in Khayf at Mina
وبالبيت والتعريف والجمراتAnd in ‘Arafaat, Jamaraat, and the Kaaba55
ديار لعبد الله بالخيف من منىAbodes of ‘Abdullah, in Khayf at Mina
وللسيد الداعي إلى الصلواتAnd of the Chief Caller to the path of Allah54
ديار علي والحسين وجعفرAbodes of ‘Ali, Al-Husayn, and Ja’far
وحمزة والسجاد ذي الثفناتAnd Hamza and Sajjad: of callus in prayer53
ديار لعبد الله والفضل صنوهOf the son of Abbas and his brother Fadl:
نجي رسول الله في الخلواتThe Prophet’s confidant in secret huddle52
وسبطي رسول الله وابني وصيهOf the Prophet’s grandsons and sons of his heir:
ووارث علم الله والحسناتSuccessor of God’s knowledge and all that is fair51
منازل وحي الله ينزل بينهاYes amidst these dwellings descends His revelation
على احمد المذكور في السوراتOn the Ahmad declared in Divine incantation
منازل قوم يهتدى بهداهمDwellings of a people in whose emulation
فتؤمن منهم زلة العثراتOne is sheltered from all aberration
منازل جبريل الأمين يحلهاDwellings upon which Gabriel descends
من الله بالتسليم والبركاتWith God’s salutations and godsends
منازل وحي الله معدن علمهDwellings in which the Divine takes effect50
سبيل رشاد واضح الطرقاتThe path of the right, in all roads direct
منازل كانت للصلاة وللتقىDwellings of prayers and all things pious
وللصوم والتطهير والحسناتOf fasting, purity, and everything righteous
منازل لا تيم يحل بربعهاDwellings that Taim will never inhabit
ولا ابن صحاك هاتك الحرماتNor Ibn Sahhak, that wreaker of havoc49
ديار عفاها جور كل منابذAbodes that the tyrants will only eschew
ولم تعف للأيام والسنواتBut time’s vicissitudes will always renew48
فيا وارثي علم النبي وآلهOh inheritors of the Prophetic knowledge
عليكم سلام دائم النفحاتUpon you be breezes of peace without stoppage
لقد امنت نفسي بكم في حياتهاMy soul in its life was made by you tranquil
واني لأرجو الأمن بعد مماتيThus after death safety steady fulfill!
قفا نسأل الدار التي خف أهلهاPray ask this edifice in which few tarry47
متى عهدها بالصوم والصلواتWhen were those days of devotion, merry?46
وأين الأولى شطت بهم غربة النوىWhere are their owners, forced into exile
أفانين في الأقطار مفترقاتLike a tree’s many branches, stretched a mile?!45
هم أهل ميراث النبي إذا اعتزواThe Prophet’s bequeathers they are when esteemed
وهم خير سادات وخير حماةThe best of leaders, the defenders of creed!
إذا لم نناج الله في صلواتناThe ones whose names if not mentioned in prayers
بأسمائهم لم يقبل الصلواتThen God rejects as unworthy of favors!
مطاعيم في الاعسار في كل مشهدMagnanimous in hardship in every setting
لقد شرفوا بالفضل والبركاتCovered with favor and His Divine treading
وما الناس الا غاصب ومكذبTheir enemies are but usurpers, beliers
ومضطغن ذو أحنة وتراتJealous wretches, and vengeful contrivers44
إذا ذكروا قتلى ببدر وخيبرOn the fallen of Badr and Khaybar they weep
ويوم حنين أسبلوا العبراتAnd on those of Hunayn, such tears they heap!43
فكيف يحبون النبي ورهطهSo how may they claim love of Prophet and family
وهم تركوا أحشاءهم وغراتWhen their hearts still bear tribal animosity?!42
لقد لا ينوه في المقال وأضمرواThey flattered in speech while they concealed
قلوبا على الأحقاد منطوياتHearts borne of rancor, with hatred sealed
فان لم تكن الا بقربى محمدFor if status is wrought but by pedigree
فهاشم أولى من هن وهناتThen it behooves Hashim more than “he-or-she”41
سقى الله قبرا بالمدينة غيثهMay God quench a Medinite grave of His rain
فقد حل فيه الأمن بالبركاتIndeed what a haven for otherworldly gain
نبي الهدى صلى عليه مليكهThe Prophet of guidance, may angels adore40
وبلغ عنا روحه التحفاتAnd to his spirit from us gifts galore
وصلى عليه الله ما ذر شارقMay God deliver to him salutation
ولاحت نجوم الليل مبتدراتAs much as the stars’ and the Sun’s lumination39
أفاطم لو خلت الحسين مجدلاIf you beheld—Fatimah—while fallen, Husayn
وقد مات عطشانا بشط فراتAt Euphrates’ bank, while thirsty and slain
إذا للطمت الخد فاطم عندهYour cheeks you would surely slap at his sight
وأجريت دمع العين في الوجناتIndeed burning tears would your holy face smite38
أفاطم قومي يا ابنة الخير واندبيOh daughter of virtue, do rise and tears rain:
نجوم سماوات بأرض فلاةFor heavenly bodies spread cross desert plain
قبور بكوفان وأخرى بطيبةFor Kufic graves and of Medinite more37
وأخرى بفخ نالها صلواتيAnd yet others in Fakh, blessings on it pour36
وأخرى بأرض الجوزجان محلهاOn graves that do lie in Khorasan’s ground35
وقبر بباخمرى لدى الغرباتAnd others that are in Baakhamraa found34
وقبر ببغداد لنفس زكيةAnd a grave in Baghdad, of a purified soul
تضمنها الرحمن في الغرفاتMay the Merciful in Heaven’s palaces enroll33
وقبر بطوس يا لها من مصيبةAnd a grave in Tus, oh what a great folly
الحت على الأحشاء بالزفراتImposing on viscerae such melancholy
إلى الحشر حتى يبعث الله قائماTill Judgment, when God sends his liberator
يفرج عنا الهم والكرباتOf woes and calamities our exterminator:32
علي بن موسى أرشد الله امرهThe grave of ‘Ali son of Musa, the guided
وصلى عليه أفضل الصلواتSalutations be on him, forever abided31
فاما الممضات التي لست بالغاAnd for those pangs I cannot contain
مبالغها مني بكنه صفاتFor whom all descriptors fall in vain:
قبور ببطن النهر من جنب كربلاOf graves in Karbala in that river’s flank
معرسهم فيها بشط فراتAs though in siesta at Euphrates’ bank
توفوا عطاشى بالفرات فليتنيIndeed they died thirsty, oh what irony--
توفيت فيهم قبل حين وفاتيWould that I died while in their company!30
إلى الله أشكو لوعة عند ذكرهمTo God in their wake I do cast my agony
سقتني بكأس الثكل والفظعاتAnd quench my thirst with the goblet of tragedy
أخاف بان ازدراهم فتشوقنيI fear lest my visitations many
مصارعهم بالجزع فالنخلاتShould break my heart twixt their relics plenty29
تقسمهم ريب المنون فما ترىLo fortunes of fate have scattered their ranks!
لهم عقوة مغشية الحجراتBehold their abodes, of chambers blank!28
خلا ان منهم بالمدينة عصبةExcepting from them a Medinite camp
مدينين انضاء من اللزباتToiling in trials, in hardship’s firm clamp27
قليلة زوار سوى ان زوراOf pilgrims few among the peoples
من الضبع والعقبان والرخماتTheir guests vultures, hyenas, eagles26
لهم كل يوم تربة بمضاجعEach day in their caskets lies dust anew
ثوت في نواحي الأرض مفترقاتFrom lands disparate, of many a hue25
تنكب لاواء السنين جوارهمTheir courtyard years’ torments does repel
ولا تصطليهم جمرة الجمراتNot touched are they by the fires of Hell
وقد كان منهم في الحجاز وأرضهاAmong them are those of renown in Hejaz
مغاوير نحارون في الأزماتAs heroes fearless, but selfless in cause24
حمى لم تزره المذنبات وأوجهPurified are their loins of women unchaste23
تضئ لدى الأستار في الظلماتAnd gloom by their faces of light is effaced
إذا وردوا خيلا بسمر من القناWhen lancers in battle’s midst they receive
مساعير حرب اقحموا الغمراتAs embers of war through torrents they cleave22
وان فخروا يوما اتوا بمحمدIf they flaunt a moment, of Muhammad they tout
وجبريل والفرقان ذي السوراتAnd of both Angel Gabriel and Qur’an they spout21
وعدوا عليا ذا المناقب والعلىOf Ali’s elevation they do call out
وفاطمة الزهراء خير بناتAnd over all women of Fatimah’s clout
وحمزة والعباس ذا الهدى والتقىTo ‘Abbas and Hamza in their piety, stout
وجعفرا الطيار في الحجباتAnd to high-flying Ja’far, over all doubt!20
أولئك لا منتوج هند وحزبهاTo these! Not to Hind and her evil brood
سمية من نوكى ومن قذراتNor to Sumayyah, the foolish and lewd
ستسأل تيم عنهم وعديهاYes! Taim and ‘Adiyy are for them responsible
وبيعتهم من أفجر الفجراتAllegiance to them beyond diabolical!19
هم منعوا الآباء عن اخذ حقهمProhibiting fathers from seizing their rights
وهم تركوا الأبناء رهن شتاتDisplacing their sons to toil in their plight18
وهم عدلوها عن وصي محمدFor they did divert from Muhammad’s heir
فبيعتهم جاءت على الغدراتWhile their allegiance was only a snare!17
وليهم صنو النبي محمدHis son-in-law surely was their true master
أبو الحسن الفراج للغمراتFather of Hasan, relief in disaster!
ملامك في آل النبي فإنهمFor this family Prophetic blame me not:
أحباي ما داموا وأهل ثقاتيBeloveds forever, my pact with them taut
تخيرتهم رشدا لنفسي انهمI choose them as mine in the fullest conviction
على كل حال خيرة الخيراتFor they are the best in my every condition
نبذت إليهم بالمودة صادقاI do cast upon them my truest affection
وسلمت نفسي طائعا لولاتيAnd yield myself to them in utter submission
فيا رب زدني في هواي بصيرةSo increase oh my Lord the insight of my ardor
وزد حبهم يا رب في حسناتيAnd of my good deeds my love for them charter
سأبكيهم ما حج لله راكبFor them I do cry, as long as a pilgrim
وما ناح قمري على الشجراتTo God’s house does visit, or does croak a pigeon
وإني لمولاهم وقال عدوهمWith them I align, while shunning their foe
وإني لمحزون بطول حياتيAnd all through my life I live with their woe
بنفسي أنتم من كهول وفتيةMay I be your ransom, for in youth and age
لفك عناة أو لحمل دياتYou freed the captives and bore others’ blood-wage16
وللخيل لما قيد الموت خطوهاAnd horses when death encircled their hooves
فأطلقتم منهن بالذرباتYou did release with your blades’ swift moves15
أحب قصي الرحم من اجل حبكمFor your sake I love those distant of relation
وأهجر فيكم زوجتي وبناتيWhile of wife and daughters in renunciation14
واكتم حبيكم مخافة كاشحFor you do I hide my love fearing villains
عنيد لأهل الحق غير مواتيFirm against truth, of vile dispositions13
فيا عين بكيهم وجودي بعبرةOh my eye for them cry and do shed a tear
فقد آن للتسكاب والهملاتAs surely the time for mourning draws near!12
لقد خفت في الدنيا وأيام سعيهاThrough this world and its days I toil in fright
واني لأرجو الامن بعد وفاتيHence after my death may my safety alight11
ألم ترني مذ ثلاثين حجةDo you not see me for the past thirty years
أروح وأغدو دائم الحسراتDay and night roaming, constantly drear?!
أرى فيأهم في غيرهم متقسماI see their estate to others acquired
وأيديهم من فيئهم صفراتWhile left are their hands of it as ciphers10
فكيف أداوى من جوى لي والجوىPray how may I heal these wounds of agony
أمية أهل الفسق والنبعاتThe agony of a cursed Umayyad family
وآل زياد في القصور مصونةAnd Ziyad’s family, in their palaces guarded
وآل رسول الله في الفلواتWhile the Prophet’s family in ruins bombarded?!9
سأبكيهم ما ذر في الأرض شارقI weep them as long as the Sun does rise
ونادى منادي الخير بالصلواتOr to prayer virtue’s summoner cries
وما طلعت شمس وحان غروبهاFrom daybreak till the Sun does dwindle
وبالليل أبكيهم وبالغدواتMourning mornings and night-vigil—
ديار رسول الله أصبحن بلقعاHomes of God’s messenger, desolated
وآل زياد تسكن الحجراتBut Ziyad’s folk in lodges, elevated!
وآل رسول الله تدمى نحورهمKin of God’s messenger, liquidated
وآل زياد ربة الحجلاتBut Ziyad’s folk in alcoves, venerated!
وآل رسول الله تسبى حريمهمKin of God’s messenger, incarcerated
وآل زياد آمنو السرباتBut Ziyad’s folk to safety, relegated!
إذا وتروا مدوا إلى واتريهمIf for their murder they seek retribution
أكفا عن الأوتار منقبضاتTheir hands are constrained, in destitution8
فلو لا الذي أرجوه في اليوم أو غدThus had it not been for my hope of the morrow
تقطع نفسي أثرهم حسراتيMy soul would be cleft for them out of sorrow
خروج امام لا محالة خارجA leader whose advent is no doubt  inevitable
يقوم على اسم الله والبركاتBy God’s name and blessings, rising veritable
يميز فينا كل حق وباطلBetween truth and falsehood, our supreme divider
ويجزي على النعماء والنقماتOf graces and vengeances, the requiter7
فيا نفس طيبي ثم يا نفس أبشريOh my soul thus rejoice and do take solace
فغير بعيد كلما هو آتيFor not far is that which you hold a promise!
ولا تجزعي من مدة الجور اننيAnd at reigns of terror don’t you despair
أرى قوتي قد آذنت بثباتFor I spy my might at the brink of repair
فان قرب الرحمن من تلك مدتيFor if the Most-Merciful grants me longevity
واخر من عمري ووقت وفاتيAnd unto my lifespan bestows His clemency
شفيت ولم اترك لنفسي غصةI will heal and relieve myself of discretion
ورويت منهم منصلي وقناتيThrough my sword and lance against them I'll freshen6
فاني من الرحمن أرجو بحبهمAnd from the Rahman I hope through their love
حياة لدى الفردوس غير تباتTo garner a place in Firdaus up above
عسى الله ان يرتاح للخلق انهPerchance that Allah will relieve his creation
إلى كل قوم دائم اللحظاتForbearing He is to His every nation5
فإن قلت عرفا أنكروه بمنكرBut should I be kind, they retort with evil
وغطوا على التحقيق بالشبهاتAnd hide the truth with queries feeble!4
تقاصر نفسي دائما عن جدالهمMy soul does fall short of their disputation
كفاني ما ألقى من العبراتNay! Sufficient for me is my lacrimation.
أحاول نقل الصم عن مستقرهاShould I try to uproot these boulders, grounded
وإسماع أحجار من الصلداتOr make hearken hearts of stone, compounded?
فحسبي منهم أن أبوء بغصةNay! Enough for me is to bear what does stifle
تردد في صدري وفي لهواتيMy chest and my throat, to echo and cycle3
فمن عارف لم يقتنع ومعاندAmidst them are those who know, still unsure
تميل به الأهواء للشهواتAnd those who are stubborn, inclined to allure2
كأنك بالأضلاع قد ضاق ذرعهاHow narrow your ribs have become in your breast
لما حملت من شدة الزفراتFrom your pangs of anguish, dispossessed!1

Footnotes

  1. The final line of poetry in Arabic, being the most important, ends with a powerful flourish where the beginning of the eulogy started: recounting the wails of the heart’s birds and how their intensity has straitened the confines of the ribcage.
  2. In this line, the speaker separates the masses into two groups, equally unworthy of admonishment: 1) those who are aware of the status of the Ahlulbayt and their calamities, but continue to roam in the affliction of skepticism and 2) those who are recalcitrant who are diverted by their whims towards vain desires.
  3. The speaker here notes that he is forced to suppress his grief and sorrow, again reflecting the realities of dissimulation imposed on the Shi’a of that time.
  4. Returning back to the lamentable realities of his time, the speaker notes how his contemporaries shun him and try to obscure the truth.
  5. The speaker expresses his wish that God hasten the salvation of mankind through the advent of the Twelfth Imam, being as how He always looks at His creation with His Providence.
  6. Literally, “I will quench my sword and my spear with them [their blood].”
  7. Referring to the savior of mankind, Imam al-Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) who will exact vengeance on the behalf of the Ahlulbayt on all their enemies. It is reported that when Di’bil reached these lines, the Imam stood up in reverence while bowing and placed his right palm on his forelock, exclaiming, “Oh Allah hasten his advent, and facilitate his uprising, and help him with a mighty succor!” Some scholars note that this is the origin of this Shi’i custom of reverence upon mention of the 12th Imam’s name. It is also narrated that the Imam wept profusely at these lines and stated, “Oh Khuzaa’i! The Holy Spirit has spoken on your tongue with these two couplets!” He then narrated some details about our twelfth Imam’s advent that can be found in books of hadith.
  8. In Arabic, there is a play on the various meanings of the root word w-t-r that is unfortunately impossible to preserve in English. Literally, the speaker states that when the Ahlulbayt are killed or oppressed (wutiroo), they can only extend empty hands to their oppressors, constrained and devoid of all tools (awtaar) to exact any semblance of vengeance. Indeed, this can be seen in how each Imam had to face the tyrant of his time who clandestinely poisoned his late father, unable to publicize the crime or seek revenge.

    It is said that when Di’bil reached this line of the poem, the Imam began to wring his hands together and said, “Yes! By God [our hands are] constrained! By God constrained!”
  9. The speaker reflects here on the cruel realities of this world, where the people of righteousness are left in shambles while those of falsehood are relegated comfort and abundance.
  10. The word fay’, which we have rendered as “estate,” in Arabic refers to the spoils of war which per Qur’anic injunction belong to the family of the Prophet; in this couplet, the speaker laments the Ahlulbay’s right to this wealth. It is said when Di’bil reached this line, Imam Ridhaa cried aloud and exclaimed, “You have spoken the truth oh Khuzaa’i!”Al-Majlisi notes here that the crying of the Imam was not due to the fact of deprived wealth, as they had always loathed this mundane world. Rather, it is due to the fact that God’s laws and injunctions have been thwarted by the masses.
  11. It is narrated that when Di’bil reached this line in his eulogy, Imam Ridhaa prayed, “Oh Di’bil may Allah grant you protection on that Day of the Great Fright (Resurrection)!”
  12. The speaker personifies his own eye as a form of hyperbole to his mourning. We have used the word mourning in translation while the Arabic utilizes two separate near-synonymous words: “at-taskaab” (lit. effusion) and “al-hamalaat” (lit. outpouring).
  13. In this couplet lies an endorsement of the doctrine of dissimulation, in which the Shi’a of the time were forced to hide their love for the Ahlulbayt due to the presence of adversaries.
  14. Per Al-Majlisi, the implication here is that the speaker renounces his own womenfolk, over whom Arabs are particularly avaricious in protecting, as long as they do not revere the Ahlulbayt.
  15. This is a form of synecdoche for the purposes of hyperbole. The speaker implies by these words that death loomed so close to the cavalrymen, that it was as if it had tied the hooves of their horses together so they couldn’t flee from it. The parallelism in meaning with the previous couplet is particularly poignant, all reflecting how the Ahlulbayt used to relieve others of woe and suffering.
  16. The “you” here is addressed in the plural, referring to all of the Ahlulbayt, who used to make it their custom to free oppressed slaves and relieve the debts of the impoverished in paying back blood-money to others.
  17. Literally, “for their allegiance issued forth on the basis of treacheries.”
  18. By seizing the inheritance of Imam ‘Ali, they plundered him of his property as a father and left his children displaced from their heritage. As it is said, “Imam Husayn had been martyred since the allegiance of Saqifa.”
  19. Taim was the tribe of Abu Bakr while ‘Adiyy was the tribe of ‘Umar, alluding to the intended individuals. The speaker clarifies the important reality that had it not been for their usurpation of Imam ‘Ali’s position, the Umayyads and ‘Abbasids would not have had the precedent needed to substantiate their caliphates.
  20. Referring to Ja’far at-Tayyaar, the uncle of the Prophet who was martyred in the Battle of Mu’tah.
  21. If they would ever boast, they don’t indulge In self-adulation, but rather they recount the status and rank that Allah has bestowed upon them through their kinship to the Prophet and their relationship with the Divine revelation.
  22. The beauty of the Arabic imagery is difficult to render in English, but there are several antitheses at play here: there is the juxtaposition of the wooden lancets of the lancers to the flaming embers that the Ahlulbayt were in the battlefield. Then, there is the juxtaposition of torrents to blazing embers, implying the power contained in their combat to extinguish the deluge of enemy troops.
  23. Literally, “sanctuaries that sinful women do not visit.” As Arabic is a euphemistic language, we have chosen to translate the word “sanctuaries” (himan) as loins in this line, as this is the actual connotation of the word.
  24. The Arabic is maghaaweer plural of mighwaar, meaning “conquerors in the battlefield” but at the same time meaning “harbinger of rain and goodness.” The second word used is nahhaaroon plura of nahhaar, meaning “those who sacrifice the necks of their most-prized camels in times of famine.”
  25. Meaning that they are always martyred in places that are far-off from each other, such that they cannot rest in peace within each other’s vicinity.
  26. Asyndeton is used here for the purposes of meter. The timelessness of this line persists, as the Shi’a of Ahlulbayt are time-and-again prohibited from visitation and assembly at Jannatul Baqee’ until the modern-day.
  27. Referring to those among the Ahlulbayt who reside in Jannatul Baqee’. The Arabic literally meaning, “humiliated and made scarce due to tribulation.”
  28. In other words, their places of residence and chambers are not together in one place, but rather disjointed and spread out making it difficult for people to assemble in them.
  29. Literally, “I fear my visitation of them lest the places of their martyrdom among valleys and trees make me overflow [in passion].”
  30. Al-Majlisi states that the river of Karbala known as al-‘Alqamah is actually merely a tiny stream relative to the Euphrates, which is approximately 20 miles’ distance from Karbala. The purpose of the poet here is to point out that the adversaries of Imam Husayn did not even allow him to drink from even a small stream let alone a river.
  31. These lines mark the identification of the grave of Tus by the speaker yet again.
  32. These lines were added by Imam Ridhaa himself as he heard the poem of Di’bil. It is narrated that when Di’bil reached this part of his eulogy, the Imam stated: “May I add to your poem two couplets through which your poem may be completed?” Di’bil of course replied in the affirmative, upon which the Imam recited these lines. Di’bil then asked, “Oh son of God’s messenger: that grave of Tus, whose is it?” The Imam answered, “This is my grave Oh Di’bil, and it will never cease that the city of Tus will be a place of gathering and visitation for my Shi’a. Indeed, whoever visits me in Tus in my loneliness, he will be with me in my rank on the Day of Resurrection, his sins forgiven.
  33. A reference to the martyrdom of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, who was poisoned by the ‘Abbasids and whose body was hurled onto the bridge of Baghdad.
  34. Baakhamraa is a place within approximately sixty miles of Kufa, where the leader of the ‘Alid revolt against the ‘Abbasids, Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdillah ibn al-Hasan, was killed.
  35. The literal Arabic is “Jozajaan,” another name for Khorasan, the city where Yahya ibn Zayd ibn ‘Ali ibn Husayn staged an uprising at the time of Al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik and was crucified.
  36. Fakh is a valley in proximity of Makkah, in which the Hasani sayyids Husayn ibn ‘Ali and Sulayman ibn ‘Abdillah along with their families were martyred in an ‘Alid revolt during the reign of Musa “al-Haadi,” the fourth ‘Abbasid caliph and contemporaneous to Imam Musa al-Kadhim. It is said that in Shi’a history, after Karbala, this is one of the biggest tragedies in scale that befell the Shi’a. The ‘Abbasid caliph had appointed a corrupt and evil governor over Medina, who used to harm the Ahlulbayt greatly. Approximately 26 Hasani sayyids staged an uprising with their followers and were brutally martyred.
  37. “Kufic graves” is an allusion to the grave of Imam ‘Ali, Imam Husayn, and the martyrs of Karbala, who are all buried in the vicinity of Kufa. Those of “Medinite” refer to the graves of the Holy Prophet, Lady Fatimah, and the Imams buried in Baqee’.
  38. Literally, “and you would make flow the tear of the eye onto the cheeks.” In this couplet two words are used to denote cheeks: khadd (in the 1st line) and wajanaat (in the literal translation of the 2nd line). The former refers to the cheek itself, while the latter refers to the part of the cheek directly underneath the lower eyelid.
  39. This is a popular literary device in Arabic, known as ta’beed, in which the extent of something is linked to a fixed affair in order to emphasize the desire for its persistence. It exists in the Qur’an as well, where Allah says, “Eternally they abide therein, for as long as the heavens and the earth endure” (11:108)
  40. Or alternatively, “The Prophet of The Guide [referring to Allah], may His angels send blessings upon him.”
  41. At Saqifah, the usurpers used the argument against the Ansaar that we are closer to the Prophet Muhammad in familial relation and thus more worthy of the caliphate. Here, the speaker notes that if that is their argument, then Banu Hashim is more worthy than they, as they were the blood-kin of the Prophet.
  42. Literally, “when they [the Ahlulbayt] leave their insides burning [in hatred]” due to their having conquered their tribes and kinsfolk.
  43. These enemies recount the slain of Badr and Hunayn, where Imam ‘Ali decimated the ranks of their disbelieving ancestors and relatives. Per al-Majlisi, Khaibar is mentioned here as well, because Imam ‘Ali put them all to shame in his conquest while they returned in failure; thus they cry out of jealous angst.
  44. The literal being, “And people are not except…” although as al-Majlisi states the meaning of people here is the enemies of Ahlulbayt (generalized only for emphasis) and thus in the translation this was substituted. The usurpers and beliers are those who stole their rights or attribute falsities to them in order to disparage them. The speaker then notes that they are full of vengeful hate for the Ahlulbayt due to the blood that Imam ‘Ali and the Holy Prophet spilled in the wars against their ancestors.
  45. Literally, “where are those who have been splintered by lonely distance, as though branches of trees disparate?” referring to the fact that the Ahlulbayt were forced to migrate from their homes time and again due to the pressures of unjust rulers.
  46. Literally, “when was its memory of prayer and fasting?” Now the tyrants of the time have replaced these Prophetic relics of piety with mundane entertainment, merry-making, murder, and plunder.
  47. The Arabic is addressed in the dual form, meaning literally “Stop [you two] let’s ask this home…” The use of the dual in Arabic like this in general commands is a widespread and well-known phenomenon within Arabic poetry. Opinions vary on its linguistic utility, but some believe that it is for emphasis while others maintain that an appeal to one’s companions in Arab custom is typically done most comfortably in groups of three. The edifice here refers to the home of the Ahlulbayt, which are abandoned and which now only a minority pay heed to.
  48. In other words, these are homes that every tyrant seeks to eradicate through negligence, however they are never forgotten; rather, their furnishings are replenished in each epoch.
  49. Taim here is a reference to the tribe of Abu Bakr, and Ibn Sahhak is the appellation of ‘Umar, meaning that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar can never fill these vacancies. Al-Majlisi notes that the reference to dwellings in this line is likely symbolic, meaning that these two can never inhabit the elevated stations of Imaamah and Khilaafah.
  50. Literally, “abodes of God’s revelation and the treasure-mine of his knowledge.”
  51. Referring to the grandsons of the Prophet Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn, the sons of the rightful successor to the Prophet.
  52. The homes of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas and his brother Fadl, who were the ancestors of Ma’moon the ‘Abbasid Caliph. Al-Majlisi holds that these lines may have been said out of dissimulation on the part of the speaker.
  53. Referring to the abodes of the Prophet’s close family; mentioned here is the fact that they used to pray so much that they would develop calluses on their foreheads and would need to peel them off yearly.
  54. The ‘Abdullah referenced here is the father of the Holy Prophet, who used to reside in Khayf at Mina. The chief-caller is of course a reference to our Holy Messenger, Muhammad (pbuhahf).
  55. The speaker now laments the tragedy of the homelands of the Ahlulbayt, which he sees stripped away from their presence. Due to the oppression of the unjust, the original habitats of revelation are left devoid of their original owners’ commentary, recitation, and guidance.
  56. Meanwhile Imam ‘Ali was hearing the words of revelation straight from Gabriel himself, his future adversaries were worshipping ‘Uzza and Manaat, two of the grand idols of Quraysh.
  57. In other words, these merits that Imam ‘Ali has reached are not obtained by wealth or stratagem, but only by unmatched bravery in wielding sword and spear
  58. Literally meaning “[His witness is also] the glittering ranks that his merits reached through precedence, in which he was the pioneer.”
  59. The reference here is to the celebrated Surah Insaan, where the altruism of Imam ‘Ali in preferring to feed the destitute while himself hungry in a season of drought, as well as the countless other examples of Imam ‘Ali’s preferring others over his own self.
  60. Now the speaker makes it clear who the real culprits of this tragedy are, identifying the allegiance of Saqifah is the original travesty that opened the door for turmoil. He identifies it as the allegiance of “serendipity,” or in Arabic “faltah,” meaning “an act done haphazardly without any planning.” This is also a reference to ‘Umar’s famous statement that the allegiance to Abu Bakr was a “faltah from whose evil Allah protected the Muslims.”
  61. The reference here is to the well-known opinion among Arabs and Persians that when affliction strikes an individual, his/her world becomes dark and what was formerly delicious becomes bitter. Al-Majlisi notes that this may also be a reference to the hadiths that report that after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the skies became dark red; there is also a hadith that when the right of Imam ‘Ali to the caliphate was usurped, the rain became brackish and lost its sweetness.
  62. The Arabic also mentions that they only did this “min hanin wa hanaati,” a euphemism for ugliness, thus meaning that their usurpation was only due to rancor, hate, and disbelief.
  63. The literal translation here is, “the disbelievers in Islam and [the sons of] wicked women.” Al-Majlisi provides ample commentary here substantiating the fact that many of Banu Umayyah were hypocrites that did not believe in the message of Islam, although they pretended to publically in order to secure their positions of leadership.
  64. In other words, how is proximity to God sought after liturgy (salawaat) and fasting (sawm) except through love of the Prophetic household and hatred for its enemies? The enemies mentioned in this line are literally translated as “sons of the blue-eyed woman and [the sons of] ‘Abalaat.” Given the cryptic nature of these references, we have substituted them as Marwaan and Umayyah, who are the referred individuals. Marwaan is called the son of the blue-eyed woman, a reference to his grandmother who was known as an adulteress in the marketplaces of early Arabia. Meanwhile, ‘Abalaat is a reference to the great grandmother of Umayyah, ‘Ablah bint ‘Ubayd. Hind refers to the wife of Abu Sufyaan, who ate the liver of Hamza bin ‘Abd al-Muttalib after the Battle of Badr due to her hatred. Finally, Sumayyah is the mother of Ziyaad and bore him out of adultery with Abu Sufyaan. Ziyaad’s son was the vile ‘Ubaydullah ibn Ziyaad, the governor of Kufa who killed Imam Husayn.
  65. The “Truth” here is a reference to religion, creed, and the rightful Imams of the Muslims. In some versions of the poem, the word mustahtireen is used instead, which means “the vainglorious.”
  66. The crime and affliction is of course an allusion to the deprivation of the Imams of Ahlulbayt from being rendered their true status and rank. The derelictions refers to the people’s neglect of these rightful owners of leadership and their never-ceasing schisms.
  67. Some liberality has been taken in the translation to render a sense of the original import by the speaker. He laments here that his passion is coupled by anguish in the valley of Muhasser (a valley at Hajj situated between Mina and Muzdalifah) when he stands there and cannot find the Imam of his time in his midst. The literal translation is “when I stand on the day of gathering at Arafat,” with the subject of whom is being referred to implied. However, as al-Majlisi translates, the reference is to the rightful leader and caliphs of the people: the Imams of Ahlulbayt. At this point, the poem completes its rhapsodic flourish and segues its focus to discussing their calamities.
  68. The speaker describes how the mere glimpse of his beautiful beloved filled him with such enthusiasm and made him spend the night in the consequent exhilaration.
  69. The literal translation here is “and when they would glimpse at the eyes [gazing at them], while their faces were uncovered, and hide their cheeks with their hands [out of chastity].” The implication being that the beloved would try to hide the splendor of her beauty from her lover out of her modesty.
  70. The speaker now recalls those nights and times of proximity spent with the beloved and how these memories assist him against the imposed separation.
  71. It is difficult to capture the nuance of the Arabic, however the speaker notes that he still remembers when the pastures of his beloved were rendered green and lush by her exquisitely beautiful features and scents. Notwithstanding these traits, her virtuous chastity did not escape her.
  72. The “gazelles [of grace]” is an allusion to the beloved roaming in her natural habitat. The speaker is sending his sorrowful salutations upon those now-empty pastures that once were inhabited by his beloved
  73. Literally meaning that these birds continue to take flight and alight in restlessness on account of their mourning the lovers’ pangs, until the secretive covering of the night is vanquished.
  74. The mourning birds with each breath they take are telling the secrets of these lovers, who have fallen captives to a love that has already passed and another that is still yet to materialize. In the Arabic, there is a play on words in the use of anfaas (breaths) and anfus (souls) both of which come from the same Arabic root n-f-s.
  75. Al-Majlisi notes that it was customary among the Arabs to start their poetry with stanzas commemorating love, burning passion, grievances against time, or description of the craved beloved as far-off and isolated. This was a unique literary device known as tashbeeb (rhapsody) to capture the attention of the listener and pique his/her interest in the lines to come. In this case, the eulogy begins with a description of mourners, nawaa’ih, classically taken to mean birds, that in their inscrutable echoes of sorrow are mourning the pangs of the lover for his beloved.