• Abbas

Hazrat Janaab Zuhair Ibn Qain Al-Bajali (r.a)

The single most phenomenal aspect of Karbala is undoubtedly the glorious personality of Imam Husain (a.s.). His station is unmatched and unparalleled. Nevertheless, certain other figures have also contributed significantly in making this event monumental. Companions of Imam Husain (a.s.) individually, with their steadfastness and fortitude, as well as collectively, with their martyrdom have displayed outstanding quaities of sacrifice and self-denial. Each companion in every aspect of his llfe, viz. his convictions, his beliefs, his objectives, his reflections, his ardent desire to embrace death, has flashed glimpses of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) character. Their devotion and submission to him was the reason that caused Imam Husain’s chest to swell with pride. Which is why he (a.s.) has acclaimed them thus.

“I am not aware of companions more faithful and exalted than mine”.

Besides this, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) in his discourses to `Safwaan’ (his companion), on the subject of Ziarat of Martyrs of Karbala, said

“May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you”.

This tribute from an infallible is the last word in exemplifying the greatness of martyrs of Karbala.

Zuhair b. Qain al-Bajali was one such brave individual from among these selfless companions. The earlier parts of his life are hidden in obscurity. However, what little one can gather (from what is known) about him is that, Zuhair a noble, valiant Arab, was a resident of Kufa and a veteran warrior. Then, supporters of Muawiyah were called Usmanis’ and partisans of Ali b. Abi Talib were called ‘Alawis’. Zuhair, belonged to the former and therefore remained aloof from the Ahle Bait (a.s).


This meeting which proved to be the turning point in Zuhair’s life has been covered by Shaykh Abbas Qummi in ‘Nafasul Mahmoom’ page 180 as also by Tabari in his ‘Tarikh’ vol. 3 page 224.

Abu Mikhnaf narrates from Sades b. Faraarah that an `Usmaani recounted to him thus,

‘In one of our journeys with Zuhair b. Qain al-Bajali, we happened to coincide with Hussain b. Ali (a.s.). Now, nothing was more repugnant for us than to assemble with the latter at the same place. And Zuhair given his resentment tried to avoid Husain (a.s.) in every possible way. However, despite our best efforts and much to our consternation, we ended up with Hussain (a.s.) at the same spot. Hussain (a.s.) pitched his tents at one side of the road and we on the other side. We had just got started with our food when a messenger from Hussain’s (a.s.) side interrupted us. He saluted us and addressed Zuhair,

Zuhair! I have been sent by Hussain (a.s.) to persuade you to meet him.’

These words of the messenger took us completely by surprise, so much so that we dropped what food we were eating in our astonishment. All of us were loath to go. Dillaam binte Amr, wife of Zuhair, who was a witness to the entire scene exclaimed `Glory be to Allah! Son of the Prophet (s.a.) wishes to see you and you refuse to go. At least see what Hussain (a.s.) has to say. Zuhair, heeding this counsel, reluctantly crossed over to Imam Hussain (a.s.) side. Before long, he returned looking very grim and solemn. He ordered his tent be relocated next to Imam Hussain (a.s.). He turned towards his wife and said “I release you from matrimony. Return to your family. I do not want to be responsible for any distress or misfortune that may befall you”. Then Zuhair declared “I have decided to accompany Hussain (a.s.). I will sacrifice my life in order to save him”. He then left his wife in the custody of a relative who would escort her back to her family. Dilham b. Amr stood up, sobbed bitterly and bidding farewell to Zuhair said, “May Allah (the Glorified) help you in your affair and attract only goodness and virtues towards you. My only plea is that you remember me on the Day of Resurrection in front of Hussain’s (a.s.) grandfather Muhammad (s.a.).” Zuhair then turned towards his companions and declared, “Those of you who still hold me dear may accompany me. The rest may take this as our last meeting.” Subsequently his friends also joined Zuhair in Imam Hussain’s army.’

Some notable points from the above mentioned incident are worth highlighting:

Only Imam Hussain (a.s.) could have been aware of the turbulence within Zuhair that prevented him from discerning the truth. Only he could have perceived the anguish in Zuhair’s soul and the raging upheaval in his mind. This tumult that made him evade Imam Hussain (a.s.) throughout his journey. It is possible that the conspiracy hatched in Mecca to assassinate Imam Hussain (a.s.) opened Zuhair eyes. It is also quite possible that his wife’s advice to meet Imam Hussain (a.s.) was that crucial turning point. Certainly, his meeting with Imam Hussain (a.s.) was marked with awe and wonder. His conversation with Imam (a.s.) though brief, left an indelible impression on his anguished soul. Imam’s (a.s.) words cut through that anguish and struck Zuhair at the very core of his existence. The Zuhair who left Imam Hussain’s (a