Mention was also made of the discovery of the sacred grave of
the Commander of the Faithful, Ali.
Hafiz: But in what state was
the grave of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali, discovered 150
years after his death?
Well-Wisher: Because Umayyad
oppression was so intense during Ali's later life, he stipulated
in his will that his body should be laid in a grave secretly at
night and that no trace of the grave should be left. Only a few
of his close companions and his sons attended the burial. On the
morning of the 2lst of Ramadhan when he was to be buried, two
conveyances were prepared. One was instructed to go to Mecca,
the other to Medina. This is why for years his grave remained
unknown, except to a few companions and his own sons.
Hafiz: Why was the grave's location
kept a secret?
Well-Wisher: Probably out of
fear of the irreligious Umayyads. They were particularly inimical
to the members of the progeny of the Prophet. They could have
desecrated the grave.
Hafiz: But is it possible that
a Muslim, even though an enemy, might violate the grave of a brother
Well-Wisher: Have you studied
the history of the Umayyads? From the day this wretched dynasty
came to power the door of oppression was opened among Muslims.
Good Heavens! What atrocities they committed! What blood they
shed, and what honors they spoiled! With deep shame, your eminent
scholars recorded their many crimes. Allama Maqrizi Abu'l-Abbas
Ahmad bin Ali Shafi'i recorded the heart-rending atrocities of
the Umayyads in his book Annaza' Wa't-takhasum fima baina Bani
Hashim wa Bani Umayya.
As examples of what they were capable of, I will cite only two
events: the martyrdom of Zaid bin Ali bin Husain, known as Zaid
Shahid (i.e., the Martyr) and the martyrdom of his son, Yahya.
Historians of both Shias and Sunnis recorded that when Hisham
bin Abdu'l-Malik became the caliph, he committed many atrocities.
With regard to the Bani Hashim, he was particularly cruel. At
last, Zaid bin Ali, the son of Imam Zainu'l-Abidin and well known
as a great scholar and a pious theologian, went to see the caliph
to seek redress for the grievances of the Bani Hashim. But as
soon as Zaid arrived, the caliph, instead of greeting him as a
direct descendant of the Holy Prophet, abused him with such abominable
language that I cannot repeat it. Because of this disgraceful
treatment, Zaid left Syria for Kufa, where he raised an army against
the Bani Umayyad. The governor of Kufa, Yusuf bin Umar Thaqafi,
came out with a huge army to face him. Zaid recited the following
war poem: "Disgraceful life and honorable death: both are
bitter morsels, but if one of them must be chosen, my choice is
Although he fought bravely, Zaid was killed in the battle. His
son, Yahya, took his body from the field and buried him away from
the city near the river bank, causing the water to flow over it.
However, the grave was discovered and, under Yusuf's orders, the
body was exhumed, Zaid's head was cut off and sent to Hisham in
Syria. In the month of Safar, 121 A.H., Hisham had the sacred
body of this descendant of the Prophet placed on the gallows entirely
naked. For four years the sacred body remained on the gallows.
Thereafter, when Walid Bin Yazid bin Abdu'l-Malik bin Marwan became
caliph in 126 A.H., he ordered that the skeleton be taken down
from the gallows, burnt, and the ashes scattered to the wind.
This accursed man committed a similar atrocity to the body of
Yahya bin Zaid of Gurgan. This noble man also opposed the oppression
of the Bani Umayya. He too was martyred on the battlefield. His
head was sent to Syria and, as in the case of his revered father,
his body was hung on the gallows - for six years. Friend and foe
alike wept at the sight. Waliu'd-din Abu Muslim Khorasani, who
had risen against the Bani Umayya on behalf of Bani Abbas, took
his body down and buried it in Gurgan, where it is a place of
In view of the misdeeds of this accursed dynasty, the body of
the Commander of the Faithful, Ali was buried during the night,
and no trace of his grave was left. The grave remained virtually
unknown until the days of Caliph Harun ar-Rashid. One day Harun
came hunting in the locality of Najaf, where deer lived in large
numbers. When the hounds chased the deer, they took refuge on
the mound of Najaf, a small hill which the hounds would not ascend.
Several times, when the hounds retreated, the deer would come
down, but when the hounds again leapt at them, the deer took refuge
on the mound. Understanding that there was a reason for the hounds'
behavior, Harun sent his men to inquire in Najaf. They brought
an old man to him and the caliph asked about the secret of why
the hounds did not climb up on the mound.
The old man replied that he knew the secret, but that he was afraid
to disclose it. The caliph guaranteed him safety, and the man
told him: "Once I came here with my father, who went on the
mound and offered prayers there. When I asked him what was there,
he said that they had come there with Imam Ja'far Sadiq for a
visit (Ziarat). The Imam had said that this was the sacred grave
of his revered grandfather, the Commander of the Faithful, Ali,
and that it would shortly become known." At the caliph's
behest that place was dug up, and the signs of a grave became
apparent along with a tablet with an inscription in Syriac, meaning:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This
grave has been prepared by the Prophet Noah for Ali, the Vicegerent
of Muhammad, 700 years before the Deluge."
Caliph Harun paid respects to the place and ordered the restoration
of the earth. He then performed two rak'ats of prayer. He wept
much and laid himself on the grave. Thereafter, on his orders,
the whole matter was disclosed to Imam Musa Kazim at Medina. The
Imam confirmed that the grave of his revered grandfather, Commander
of the Faithful, Ali, was at that place. Harun then decreed that
a stone building be erected over Commander of the Faithful's sacred
grave, which came to be known as Hajar Haruni, "The stone
structure built by Harun." In due course, the news spread,
and Muslims visited the holy place. Ibrahim Mujab, the great,
great grandfather of Sultanu'l-Wa'izin (Well-Wisher) also left
Shiraz for this holy visit, and after performing the Ziarat, died
in Karbala. He was buried near the sacred grave of his great grandfather,
Imam Husain. His grave is located in the Northwestern corner of
his sacred mausoleum and is visited regularly by his admirers.
Hafiz: Despite these conclusive
remarks, I think that the grave of Ali (may Allah bless him) is
not located in Najaf. Scholars differ on this point. Some say
it is in the State House in Kufa; some say it is in the Qibla
of the Central Mosque of Kufa; some say that it is in the gate
known as Bab-e-Kinda of the Mosque of Kufa; some hold that it
is in Rahba in Kufa; still others say it is beside the grave of
Fatima in Baqi. In our Afghanistan, too, there is a place near
Kabul known as the Mausoleum of Ali. According to one account,
the sacred body of Ali was placed in a box and laid on the back
of a camel and sent toward Medina. A party of men snatched the
box, believing it contained valuables. On opening it, they saw
the sacred body, brought it to Kabul, and buried it at this place.
That is why people revere this place.
Well-Wisher: These differences
arose because of the details of his will, which stipulated that
the arrangements for his burial obfuscate his burial place. It
is related from Imam Ja'far Sadiq that at the time of his death,
the Commander of the Faithful told his son, Imam Husain, that
after burying him in Najaf, he should prepare four graves for
him in four different places: in the Mosque of Kufa, in Rahba,
in the house of Ju'da Hira, and in Ghira. The Shia agree that
his sacred grave is in Najaf. Whatever they have learned from
the Ahle Bait is authentic. The people of the house know best
about what relates to the house.
I really wonder at your scholars, who have neglected the sayings
of the progeny of the Holy Prophet in every matter. They did not
inquire about the location of the grave of the father from his
own sons in order to learn the truth. It is certain that the children
know more about the grave of their father than others do. If any
of these current theories had been correct, the Holy Imams would
have informed their followers of it. But they have confirmed the
location in Najaf, visited the place themselves, and have exhorted
their adherents to visit it. Sibt Ibn Jauzi has, in his Tadhkira,
mentioned these differences. He says: "The sixth view is
that it is in Najaf at the well known place, which is commonly
visited. To all appearances, this is the correct view." Similarly,
your other scholars, such as Khatib-e Khawarizmi in Manaqib, Muhammad
bin Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha,
Firuzabadi in his lexicon, Qamus, under the word Najaf, and others,
have held that the Commander of the Faithful's grave is located