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  Updated: February 24, 2008

Dabal elegy on Ahl-il Bayt (A) - One of the masterpiece of Arab literature

By: Muhammad b. Abbas

Renowned poet in the era of Imam Ali Ar-Ridha, peace be on him, Dabal Al-Khazai, penned a poem in praise of Ahl-ol Bayt, peace be on them. The poem also depicted sufferings of Aal-i-Muhammad, peace be on them. When Dabal recited the poem to the Imam, peace be on him, Imam asked him to add two more couplets therein. Therefore Imam himself recited two couplets regarding his martyrdom and merits of visiting him which Dabal added to his poem.
The poem is regarded as one of the masterpieces of Arab literature and among the sources of Islamic legacy. It is the most famous of Da'bal's poems. It had a strong impression on the Imam, so he wept and fainted three times. That is because Da'bal has mentioned in it the painful tragedies which befell the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them.
Da'bal wore a garment and wrote the poem. He performed the ritual consecration wearing the garment, and then he ordered it to be placed in his own shrouds.
The poem widely spread in that time. Al-Ma'mu`n heard of it, admired it, asked Di'bil to recite it to him, and said to him: "It won't do you any harm; I have given you security from all things. It had been narrated to me, but I want to hear it from your own mouth." So he recited it, and al-Ma'mu`n wept to the extent that his beard became wet out of his tears.
Text of the Poem:
The late 'Abd al-Sahib al-Dujayli has reported the text of the poem in the Divan of Da'bal from a group of handwritten and printed sources; we have reported it from him; the text of the poem is as follows:
The doves whose utterance and speeches are not understood answer each other through sounds and sighs.
They tell through breaths about the secret of souls captives
to past love and another coming.
So they will make happy or help (the lovers) until the kinds of darkness are dispersed and defeated by dawn.
Peace be on the courtyards void of wild cows; (I am) a sad adorer yearning for the courtyards.
As far as I know that their familiar places were green because of the perfumed, white (ones) and the ashamed (ones).
Nights helped friendliness against abandonment, but after me they approached one another out of estrangement.
Then they looked through their unveiled eyes and covered their cheeks with their hands.
And then everyday I have, in my eye, drunkenness for which my heart spends the night drunk.
How many a regret excited by my standing at Mahsar and 'Arafat1 on the Day of Gathering.
Do you not see what the days have brought upon the people through nullifying (the Imamate), long separation, the states of the reckless , and those who sought light through them in the dark?
Just imagine how much more is he who has come to seek nearness to Allah through fasting, prayers, showing love for the children of the Prophet and his family, hating the Banu` of al-Zarqa`' and al-'Abalat, Hind , what Sumayya
had done, her son who showed unbelief and dissoluteness in Islam?
It was they who broke the covenant of the Book, religious duties and clear verses therein through falsehood and vague errors.
And that is a mere trial which has exposed them through a summons of error from among ugly things.
Legacy without nearness (to the Prophet), authority without guidance, and government without consultative council are among the rightly-guided ones.
(These) misfortunes have made us see the greenness of the horizon red and made sweet water tastes salt.
Nothing made easy those creeds among them except the homage of the random errors.
The Companions of the Shelter (saqfa) did not attain an authority because of legacy; rather due to the affair of (their) origin.
If they had entrusted the reins of the caliphate to the testamentary trustee , then they would have been regulated by him who was protected from stumbles.
(He) was the brother of the last of the messengers,the one purified of uncleanness, and the one who killed the heroes at the battles.
If they deny (that), then to him bear witness al-Ghadr, Badr, and Uhd whose elevations are high,
Verses of the Qur'an are recited concerning his excellence, his giving food during famines, and his outstanding qualities he attained out of his preceding laudable deeds which none before him had performed.
(These) laudable deeds were not attained by trickery; nor were they obtained by anything except by the sharp edge of the spear.
Gabriel, the trusted one, whispered to him while you devoted yourselves (to serving) both al-'Izza` and Manat.
At 'Arafat I wept over the traces of the house, and I shed the tears of my eyes (for them).
The traces of the deserted houses untied the handles of patience and exited my longing.
Schools of verses (of the Qur'an) are without recitation, and the place of inspiration is (like) courtyards without people.
To the family of Allah's Messenger belong (the houses) at al-Khf part of Mina, al-Rukn, al-Ta'rf, and al-Jamarat
The houses belong to 'Ali, al-Husayn, Ja'far, Hamza, and al-Sajjad the one with calluses (Dhu al-Thafanat);
The houses belong to 'Abd Allah and al-Fadl his full brother to whom Allah's Messenger whispered in privacy;
The houses among which the inspiration of Allah came down to Ahmed (Mohammed), who has been mentioned in the verses, belong to the people through whose guidance (men) have become rightly guided and felt secure from their slip of stumbles.
The houses were (confined to) prayer, reverential fear, fasting, purity, and good deeds.
Gabriel, the trusted one, stopped at the houses carrying from Allah greetings and mercy;
The houses (were the place) of inspiration of Allah, the place of His knowledge, and the path of guidance through clear ways.
The houses have been effaced by the tyranny of every opponent, not by days and years.
O inheritors of the knowledge of the Prophet, upon you be peace with lasting perfumes.
Stop in order to ask the house whose inhabitants hastened:
When was your knowledge of fasting and prayers? Where are those whom the loneliness of remoteness has wronged (and made them like) branches separating in the horizons?
They are the people of the legacy of the Prophet when they are ascribed; they are the best masters and protectors.
They are feeders during famine and every attitude; they have become honorable through favor and blessings.
As for people, they are either envier or liar or spiteful harboring malice or one who is unable to avenge the blood of his dead.
When they (the Qurayshi hypocrites and the people of the Book) remember their dead at (the battles of) Badr, Khaybar, and Hunayn, they shed tears.
So how could they show love for the Prophet and his family while they split open their bowels?
They were gentle to him through their statements but they had hearts containing spites. So if it (the caliphate) is not undertaken except through nearness to Mohammed, then Ha`shim is worthier (of it) than those of bad lineage.
May Allah water the grave in Medina (with) His rain, for therein has rested the Security through blessings.
The Prophet of guidance upon whom his King has called down blessings and given to him as gift His repose.
Allah calls down blessings upon him as long as the sun rises and the night stars appear.
O Fa`tima, if you imagined al-Husayn, who was thrown to the ground and died thirsty by the Euphrates, then you, O Fatima, would strike your cheeks beside him and make the tears of your eye flow on your cheeks. O Fa`tima, arise, O daughter of the good, and mourn for the stars of the heavens in a deserted land.
Graves are in Kufan (i.e. Kufa); others are in Tba; others are in Fakh; blessings are called down upon them.
Other (graves) are in the land of al-Jawza`n; a lonely grave is at Bakhamra.
And a grave is in Baghdad; (it) belongs to a pure soul which the Merciful (Allah) has included in the Gardens.
As for the painful misfortunes which have deeply hurt me through the essence of qualities, (they are) the graves by the River Euphrates in the land of Kerbala', where they (al-Husayn and his companions) stopped at the late night.
They died thirsty by the Euphrates, so would that I died for them before the time of my death.
During my remembering them, I complain to Allah of pain which waters me with the cup of abasement and atrocities.
I fear that if I visit them, I will be exited by their death (which took place) between the valley and the date-palms.
The events of time have divided them; just as you see that they have a district with houses covered (with dust).
Except that in Medina is a group of them, throughout the time, rawboned because of hardships.
None visits them except some visitors from among hyenas, eagles, and vultures.
They are forever asleep in graves standing in various districts of the earth.
In al-Hijaz and (among) its people were courageous ones from among them chosen as leaders.
Hard droughts kept away from neighboring them, and the pebble of the pebbles did not warm them.
(They were) hot, so comets did not visit them; and (their) faces shone by the curtains in the dark.
If they (people) brought horses running very quickly (and carrying) spears, they (the Prophet's Household) were the pokers of the embers of death and hardships.
If they prided themselves (upon their lineage), they brought Mohammed, Gabriel, the Furqa`n (Qur'a`n), and the Suras.
And they numbered 'Ali, possessor of laudable deeds and exaltedness, Fa`tima al-Zahra`' the best daughter, Hamza possessor of guidance and piety, and Ja'far, who flies in the Gardens.
Those, not the product of Hind and her party Sumayya from among the foolish and the dirty.
Taym and 'Adi will be asked about them and their homage which was the greatest sin.
It was they who prevented the forefathers from taking their own right, and it was they who left the children hostage to separation.
It was they who took it (the caliphate) from the testamentary trustee of Mohammed, so their pledge of allegiance was treacherous.
Stop your blaming me for (my showing love for) the Household of the Prophet; they are my lovers and I have confidence in them as long as they live.
I have chosen them as a guide to my own affairs, for they are, any how, the most excellent choice.
I have sincerely shown love for my masters and willingly submitted my own soul to them.
Therefore, O my Lord, increase me in the insight of my sureness and add, O my Lord, my love for them to my good deeds.
I will weep over them as long as a rider makes a pilgrimage to (the House of) Allah and as long as a dove coos in the trees.
I will sacrifice my own soul for you; (your) middle-aged and youths release captives and collect blood-money (for the people).
When death limits the steps of the horses, you release them (and use) sharp spears and swords.
I love those far because of their love for you, and for you I abandon my family and my daughters.
I conceal my love toward you out of fear of him who is hostile, stubborn to the men of the truth and disobedient to (them).
O my eye, weep over them and shed abundant tears; it is time for you to shed tears.
Certainly the days have surrounded me with their own evil, and surely I hope for security after my death.
Do you not see that I have gone and come for thirty years, and I am always in sorrows?
I see that their fayya' is divided among other than them, and their hands are void of their fayya'.
So how can I be cured of an intense sorrow, and the intense sorrow is the Umayyads, the men of dissoluteness and (bad) results?
The family of Allah's Messenger are thin-bodied, while the family of Ziya`d are big-necked!
Ziya`d's daughters are protected in the palaces whereas the family of Allah's Messenger are in the deserts!
I will weep for them as long as the sun shines on earth and the caller of good calls (men) to prayer;
(I will weep for them) as long as the sun shines and sets; and I will weep for them at night and in the early morning.
The houses of Allah's Messenger have become a desert, and the family of Ziya`d live in palaces.
The throats of the family of Allah's Messenger are bled, and the family of Ziya`d are at ease.
The womenfolk of Allah's Messenger are taken as captives, and Ziya`d's womenfolk (are respected).
When one of them is killed, they stretch out for the killers palms of the hand and prevent them from taking blood money.
Had it not for him whom I expect today or tomorrow, I would be out of breath due to the sorrows for them.
Certainly an Ima`m will appear and rise in the name of Allah and the blessings.
He will distinguish among us everything right and wrong, reward for favors and vengeance.
I will intensely withhold myself from arguing with them; enough for me is what I find of the moral lessons.
So, O my soul, renounce (the world); then O my soul, be delighted, for it is not far all that which will come;
Do not be impatient of the period of tyranny; surely I can see that my strength shows signs of separating (from the world).
So if the Most Gracious (Allah) brings near that period of mine and delays my life span for prolonging my life, then I will avenge (myself upon them), will not leave any calamity for myself, make my sword and spear quench their thirst with their blood.
For surely I hope for from the Most Gracious (Allah),
through showing love for them an uninterrupted life in Paradise.
May Allah give shelter to this creature; surely He is permanent in glances toward every people.
If I say something good, they deny it with something evil and cover the realities with vague errors.
I try to remove the sun from its place and to make solid stones hear.
So they are either a knower who does not make use of (my statement) or a stubborn one who inclines to (his) caprices and lusts.
I am negligent of them when I die of a pang frequenting in my chest and in (my) epiglottis.
Although my own ribs are wide, they have become narrow because of the intense sighs they have contained.
This ode called al-'Assma`' has terminated. As for the Imam, he was satisfied with it and supplicated for Da'bal in order to be successful on the Day of the Greatest Fear.
The Imam awarded to Da'bal for reciting elegy a parcel in which there were ten thousands of the dirhams struck with his name.


 
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