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Maqtal Works during the Safawid and Qajarid Eras

By: Rasul Ja'fariyan
A major portion of Shi‘ite historiography of the past few centuries is made of maqtal works. It is a well established fact that the holding of mourning ceremonies for Imam Husayn (‘a) was very much in vogue in the eastern parts of Iran before the Safawids came to power. Kāshifī wrote the Rawzah al-Shuhadā’ for the predominantly Sunnis region of Herat and Khurāsān at a time when the Safawid state was being established in western Iran and had no sway in the east. However, with the establishment of the Safawid State, ‘Ashurā’ ceremonies became more profound and new books were compiled in this regard. This trend grew and spread all over Iran until the end of the Qajarid dynasty and each year new works both in prose and poetry were added to the existing heritage. Unfortunately, during this period, no care and precision was taken from the perspective of historical value and the principal sources were not consulted with meticulosity. What such writings mainly focus on in this period is mourning, elegy and tragedy. This is actually how the issue of martyrdom was viewed in this period and less attention was paid to the historical context. The majority of these works have been prepared to suit mourning ceremonies in order to make the people cry more. The following is a list of such books which have been written since the Safawid era onwards. Most of these books belong to the Qajarid era.
Iksīr al-‘Ibādah fī Asrār al-Shahādah by Mullā Aqā Darbandī (Storey, p. 986)
Amwāj al Bukā’ (Storey 979; Mar‘ashī, 7165)
Bahr al-Bukā’ fī Masā’ib al-Ma’sumīn (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 26/84)
Bahr al-Huzn (Storey, p. 990)
Bahr al-Dumu‘ (Mar‘ashī, 2592)
Bahr-i Gham ( Storey, p. 964)
Bustān-i Mātam (Storey, p. 1001)
Bukā’ al-‘Ayn (Mar‘ashī, 6582)
Balā wa Ibtilā dar Ruydād-i Karbalā’ (Storey, p. 960)
Bayt al-Ahzān (Storey, p. 976)
Khulāsah al-Masā’ib (Storey, p. 1017)
Dāstān-i Gham (Storey, p. 964; Mar‘ashī, 2916)
Dam‘ al-‘Ayn ‘alā Khasā’is al-Husayn (Storey, p. 995)
Al-Dam‘ah al-Sākībah fī al-Musībah al-Rātibah (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 264/8)
Riyāz al-Bukā’ (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 6/1)
Rawzah Husayniyyah (Storey, p. 951; Mar‘ashī, 6224, 6545)
Rawzah al-Khawāss (Mar‘ashī, 3001)
Rawzah al-Shuhadā’-i Yazdī (Mar‘ashī, 156)
Riyāz al-Ahzān (Storey, p. 172)
Riyāz al-Ahzān (Masjid-i A‘zam Library Catalogue, Qum, 215)
Riyāz al-Shahādah fī Zikr Masā’ib al-Sādah (Storey, p. 958)
Sirr al-Asrār fī Musībah al-A’immah al-Athār (Storey, p. 996)
Tarīq al-Bukā’ (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 15/164)
Tufān al-Bukā’ (Storey, p. 967)
‘Ummān al-Bukā’ (Storey, p. 982)
‘Ayn al-Bukā’ (Storey, p. 941)
‘Ayn al-Dumu’ (Mar‘ashī, 440)
Fayz al-Dumu‘ (Storey, p. 988)
Qabasāt al-Ahzān (Storey, p. 989)
Kanz al-Bākīn (Storey, p. 4550)
Kanz al-Mihan (Storey, p. 991)
Kanz al-Masā’ib (Storey, pp. 969, 987)
Lubb ‘Ayn al-Bukā’ (Storey, p. 942)
Lisān al-Dhākirīn (Storey, p. 970)
Mātamkadah (Storey, p. 963, 975)
Mubkī al-‘Uyun (Mar‘ashī, 5006)
Majālis al-Mafja‘ah (Storey, p. 945)
Mujrī al-Bukā’ (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 2/40)
Majma‘ al-Masā’ib fī Nawā’ib al-Atā’ib (Mar‘ashī, 3369, 5425, 6643)
Majma‘ al-Masā’ib Māzandarānī (Mar‘ashī, 6572)
Muhriq al-Qulub (Storey, p. 943)
Muhīt al-‘Azā (Storey, p. 945)
Makhzan al-Bukā’ (Mar‘ashī, 1645; Storey, p. 969)
Ma‘din al-Bukā’ fī Maqtal al-Sayyid al-Shuhadā’ (Mar‘ashī, 3017)
Miftāh al-Bukā’ fī Musībah Khāmis al-‘Abā (Mar‘ashī, 2363)
Miftāh al-Bukā’ (Mutahharī Library, 5/921)
Manāhil al-Bukā’ (Mar‘ashī, 3455)
Manba‘ al-Bukā’ (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 22/358)
Muhayyij al-Ahzān (Storey, p. 959)
Najāh al-‘Asīn (Storey, p.1000)
Nur al-‘Ayn fī Jawāz al-Bukā’ (al-Dharī‘ah, vol. 24/372)
Wasīlah al-Bukā’ (Mar‘ashī, 5500)
Wasīlah al-Najāh (Storey, p. 961)
Yanbu‘ al-Dumu‘ (Mar‘ashī, 3083)
Paying close attention to the names of these books shows that there are some key words in them such as bukā’ (crying), huzn (sadness), ibtilā’ (suffering), ashk (tears), and musībat (calamity). During this era Karbalā was viewed more from the angle of such meanings than from the historical viewpoint. Another noteworthy point in these works is that the astonishment rising from the death of Imam Husayn’s (S) companions led these latter day authors to exaggerate the figures of the enemies killed by them in battle. In this regard a look at the work Asrār al-Shahādah by Mullā Aqā Darbandī shows astronomical figures which cannot be proved through any historical means. Such works were so far from reality that even Mīrzā Husayn Nurī who was an akhbārī scholar has included the greater part of such weak narrations in his book Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, and later he decided to write a separate book entitled Lu’lu’ wa Marjān in which he has launched a scathing attack on the writers of maqtal and the reciters of such weak narrations.

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