Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi

Published: 1432 AH

Praise be to Allah Taʿala and salaam upon His chosen devotees.


The dawn of 1432 AH heralds the Centennial Milad Mubarak of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. As this momentous occasion approaches, it is an apt time to reflect upon the various meanings, implications and allusions of the number 100. An Arabic couplet composed by al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA indicates that the passing of 100 years between him and wali al-neʿmah (ولي النعمة) al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA signifies a subtle allusion. The use of the plural form of ‘hundred’ here is interesting since two sets of 100 years have now passed. The culmination of the first 100 years saw the coronation of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and the birth of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. This year, 1432 AH, witnesses the conclusion of the second 100 years. The birth of Syedna al- Dai al-Ajal RA at the end of the first 100 years was a momentous occasion full of intimations and tidings of the maqaam Allah Taʿala had destined for him, the greatness he would achieve and the glories he would attain in the subsequent 100 years.

In Fatimi literature the 21st Imam, Maulana al-Imam al- Tayyib AS is referred to as zu al-ʿumrayn ( ذوالعمرين- Imam of two periods) since his reign covered the periods of both kashf (كشف) and satr (ستر). Similarly, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA born at the precipice of two 100 year periods, is like the historical figure Zu al-Qarnayn (ذو القرنين), ‘a person of two centuries’. Qarn also refers to the two halves of the world: east and west. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA auspiciousness and yumn1( يمن- a word whose numerical value also equals 100) over the last 100 years has spread the world over.

There are 100 days between Aashuraa and the milad mubarak of Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA. The Day of Aashuraa, known as the eid of grief and sorrow, is numerically and philosophically linked to the eid of the milad of Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA. Observing and celebrating the 100 days from Aashuraa to the 100th milad mubarak of Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA is a journey each mumin shall embark upon; a journey that has commenced with the zikr (ذكر) of Imam Husain AS. That there are 100 days between these eidayn (عيدين – two eids) stresses the historic nature of the Centennial Milad Mubarak and the convergence of the barakaat of ʿibaadah (عبادة) and ʿaayaad ( اعياد plural of eid). A similar period of 100 days exists between the first day of Ramadaan al-Mu ʿazzam and Ayyaam al-Tashreeq (the three days that follow Eid al-‘Adhaa). These 100 days are not mere measurements of time, but signifiers of the maqaamaat of Awliyaullah AS, our true ’aayaad.

Centennial tidings can also be gleaned in the historic restoration of al-Jamiʿ al-Anwar. At the onset of the 15th century AH, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA ushered in the 100 years to follow with the inauguration of this Jamiʿ : a masjid in which one salaah (صلاة) equals 100. One hundred is also the number that signifies theʿaalam al-deen (عالم الدين) or spiritual realm in Dawat texts. With the restoration of al-Jamiʿ al-Anwar, Mumineenwitnessed prosperity and barakaat in their spiritual as well as temporal affairs.

The meanings of 100 further resonate in Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA chronological position amongst Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA and in the composition of his mubarak name. Hundreds, being the thirdplace value after ones and tens, is similar to Syedna al- Dai al-Ajal’s RA position as thirdin the eighth septet of Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA.2 Similarly, meem, the thirdletter of his name, is the ‘meem of mi’ah (ِمئة – hundred). The combination of the number three and the place value of hundreds results in 300: the Hijri year which Rasul Allah SAW foretold as being the time of Imam Abdullah al-Mahdi’s AS zuhoor3(ظهور). These centennial indications reveal Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA great maqaam (مقام) and the celebrated place his era holds in the history of Daʿwat. Furthermore, of the remaining place values (as established in Rasaa’il Ikhwan al-Safaa), all that exists is the final, culminating place of thousands; an augury that after 900 years since the beginning of satr (532 AH to 1432 AH), on the cusp of 1000, all that remains is its culmination.

In the 100 days between Aashuraa and the Centennial Milad Mubarak, understanding the meanings and connotations of ‘hundred’ will aid us in our preparations for and impart upon us a deeper appreciation of the far-reaching implications of this momentous event. The knowledge that Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA has commenced this centennial year with the zikr mubarak of Imam Husain AS is of unparalleled centrality. This action is synonymous with Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA ubiquitous duʿaa mubarak, that Allah Taʿala show Mumineenjoy and prosperity and show them no grief other than that of Imam Husain AS. Indeed, the grief and sorrow we demonstrate during Asharah Mubarakah, our bukaaʾand maatam for Imam Husain AS shall heighten and intensify the joy and delight we experience in celebrating Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA milad mubarak.

Imam Husain’s AS zikr has an exponential, multiplying quality. Every tear shed in the grief and zikr of Imam Husain AS is rewarded with eight jannat (جنة) and each time Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA says ‘Ya Husain’, Mumineenreciprocate a thousand-fold. The Quran-e-Majeed refers to those who spend in the way of Allah Taʿala in a similar manner, saying that their parable is that of a grain that sprouts seven ears, with each ear containing another 100 grains. ‘Allah multiplies for whom He pleases and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.’ This phenomenon is evident in the zikr of Imam Husain AS and the barakaat it encompasses, specifically in the marthiya mubaraka, Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi.

The marthiya mubaraka Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi has been a source of solace and hundred-fold barakaat for Mumineenever since its composition by al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA in Karachi in the year 1348 AH. Each of the seven lines of every verse, like the seven ears mentioned above, contain hundreds of grains of barakaat and saʿaadaat (سعادات). The recitation of this marthiya mubaraka is a means of increasing barakaat, changing sayiʾaat into hasanaat, and quelling korobaat. With this marthiya mubaraka, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA has immortalised his dedication to Imam Husain’s AS bukaaʾand zikr and eternalised a means for Mumineento obtain manifold barakaat.

Like his predecessor, mentor and father, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA has spent his life engrossed in the zikr of Imam Husain AS. Both Syedna al-Muqaddas’ RA and Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA bukaa’ as well as that of their mansoos Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS transcends time. Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA emphasises this eternality in the first verse of his marthiya mubaraka:

طول الزمان بكائي

Throughout time I shall weep.

Likewise, his mansoos (منصوص) and shahzada declares in his marthiya mubaraka:

ابكيه دابا فاديا

I express my tafaadi by mourning him always.

The permanence of Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi is further seen in its integration into the private and social aspects of the Dawoodi Bohra community. No Ashara majlis or waʿaz (وعظ) goes unadorned without the verses of this marthiya. No child in madrasa (مدرسة)remains unacquainted to its sound. No Mumin’shome exists, but is blessed with its barakaat. However, the paramount expression of this eternality is its continuing recital upon the labb mubarak (لب مبارك) of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.

With our bukaaʾ, maatam and prayers for the tul al-baqaaʾطول البقاء of Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS we prepare for the Centennial Milad Mubarak. The tilaawat of Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi along with Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal’s RA Fulk al-Husain bi Karbala are pivotal to this preparation. As a source of inspiration and guidance, the following pages provide an English summary of the marthiya mubaraka Ya Syed al-Shohodaaʾi. Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA alluded to the significance of the 100 year duration and with our humble understanding of these implications, we pray may Allah Taʿala grant Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS a life of many, many more hundreds of years in health and happiness till the Day of Qiyaamat.

Marthiya Mubaraka: Ya Syed al-Shohadaaʾi

Each verse consists of seven lines, with the last two lines recurring in all 51 verses.

Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA begins the marthiya mubaraka by addressing Maulana al-Imam al-Husain AS as the syed of all shohadaaʾ, or leader of all martyrs. He is the fifth of Ahl al-Kisaaʾ, Panjatan Paak AS. Following this address, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA laments the intense calamity that befell upon him in Karbala. This verse, like all subsequent verses, ends with ‘waa lahfataa yaa Husainaa’ (والهفتاياحسينا) and ‘Yaa Syed al-Shohadaaʾi’. ‘Waa lahfataa’ is an expression of grief often combined with a call to the befallen of the misfortune or tragedy. With this recurring chorus, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA continuously calls Imam Husain AS with an unceasing expression of sorrow.

In the second verse, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA describes Maulana al-Imam Husain’s AS various traits, adding to our maʿrifa (معرفة-understanding) of him. He combines the description with expressions of grief signifying that the grief upon Imam Husain AS is greater than others because of his exalted position. He is Rasul Allah’s SAW shahzada and a virtuous shahanshah (شاهنشاه). After further proclamations of sorrow, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA declares that his crimson tears upon this tragedy shall flow forever, one after another.

As a petition to himself, in the third verse Syedna al- Muqaddas RA implores his soul to pass away in grief, his eyes to shed tears. Why? Because:

Your Moula Husain AS has been slain by the blade of an enemy who is the worst of the cursed, damned oppressors.

Having addressed his personal lament, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA now turns to Mumineen with a summons for bukaaʾand maatam in the next three verses (4, 5 & 6).

O Mumineen! Wail upon this imam mubeen (مبين – evident), bemoan this benevolent sovereign, shed tears for this trustworthy walee (ولي): the honourable shahzada of Maulatona Fatema AS. Devote yourselves to the bukaaʾof Imam Husain AS for he was haqq (حق) personified and a spring of benevolence. Deprived of food and water for three days in the deserts of Karbala, he willingly chose shahaadat (شهادة) in the cause of Allah. Continuously wail upon Imam Husain AS every morn and eve, so that on the Day of Qiyaamat you are rewarded manifold thawaab ( ثواب).

With verses seven and eight, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA begins the description of Maulana al-Imam al-Husain’s AS plight. Nabi Mohammed’s SA shahzadah, separated from his home, was slain in Karbala. After his shahaadat, his persecuted and enslaved haram were made to wander through wastelands surrounded by hordes of enemies. The millstone of misfortune ground the children of Nabi Mohammed SA, the hands of time subjected them to oppression, and, ultimately, on the day of ʿAashuraa, the celestial stars of Ahl Bayt AS set into the sands of Karbala.

The next two verses (9 & 10) narrate Imam Husain’s AS demand for water; a pretext to establish his arugment against his oppressors. Amidst the hordes of his enemies, Maulana al-Imam al-Husain AS declared that he was the shahzadah of Nabi Mohammed SA, named Taha (طه) and Saad (صاد) in al-Quran al-Majeed. “For three days you have denied me water, and all I ask is one sip.” They heeded not a single word, however, and in all their ruthlessness martyred a parched Moula whose benevolence spreads over the entire world.

Maulatona Zainab’s AS hardships, and through her those of Maulatona Sakinah’s AS and Maulana al-Imam Ali Zain al-Abideen’s AS, are eloquently expressed by Syedna al-Muqaddas RA in the next six verses (11 to 16). After an expression of anguish, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA depicts Maulatona Zainab’s AS condition as she mourns her esteemed brother Imam Husain AS. Her purdah seized, MaulatonaZainab AS soaks her hair in Imam Husain’s AS blessed bloodand sheds a deluge of tears. She cries:

My mother, Maulatona Fatema’s AS noble shahzadah, Nabi Mohammed’s SA grandson, the afternoon sun and full moon! My sorrow is insurmountable, my grief unbearable, all day and all night!

Amidst this depiction of Ahlebait, Maulatona Zainab AS expresses her sorrow and grief and calls out to Imam Husain AS highlighting the various aspects of their tragedy.

O Sorrow, Ya Husain!

O Separation, Ya Husain!

O Calamity, Ya Husain!

O Ruin, Ya Husain!

O refuge of the pious! Maulatona Zainab AS goes on to say:

Dear brother Husain! Your beloved Sakinah is being disrespected, struck and painfully wounded. In her agony she screams, “Rise bawaaji saheb! Why do you lie there! I am being ill-treated and tormented, save me from these savages!”

Inconsolable, she continues to wail,

Bawaji saheb! Abi (ابي)! Why have you left me alone and gone away? Have you forgotten your daughter? Wherever you are, take me with you, for I cannot live apart from you any longer!”

Maulatona Zainab AS continues to describe the tragedies befalling Ahlebait to Husain Imam AS:

“My beloved brother! Ali Zain al-Abideen AS is extremely ill and enfeebled. Chained in shackles and fetters, he is forced to walk barefoot from Karbala to Shaam on the scorching desert sands!”

Syedna al-Muqaddas RA in the 17th verse voices the plight of the sayyidaat. The daughters of khayr al-bariyah Rasul Allah SA, the most virtuous of mankind, have been imprisoned by savage barbarians and paraded like slaves. This is undoubtedly the most severe of misfortunes, the most dire of tragedies.

The three verses that follow (18, 19 & 20) are dedicated to Maulana Aliakber AS, Maulana Aliasger AS and Maulana Abbas AS respectively and each begin with the rueful expression of ‘waa lahfataa’. Maulana Aliakber AS, the image of Rasul Allah SA, was courageous, honourable and unwilling to accept the rule of the illegitimate over Awliyaaʾ Allah AS. Maulana Aliasger AS, the six month old shahzadah of esteemed stature, was slain by a vile coward’s arrow when Imam Husain AS brought him forth seeking water. He passed away in the hands of his revered father. O Sorrow for Maulana Abbas AS, lion of the battlefield, who was his brother Imam Husain AS al-qasqaas’ (القسقاس – guide towards haqq) most supportive ally, ultimately attaining shahaadat suffused in his own dumm mubarak.

The heartbreaking marriage of Maulatona Sakina AS with Imam Hasan’s AS shahzadah Maulana Abdullah AS in Karbala is the subject of verse 21. “O Grief,” exclaims Syedna al-Muqaddas RA “for this wedding of two pure souls, held amidst an ongoing battle.” Both were in tears as Maulana ʿAbd Allah AS bade farewell to his bride and headed for the battlefield.

The next verse (22nd) describes the woeful wadaa ́ (وداع) of Imam Husain AS from his haram and shahzadah, Imam Ali Zain al-Abideen AS. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA fills the verse with such intense, palpable emotion, that his hands must have trembled when writing. “The day of Aashuraa’,” he says, “the moment of Imam Husain’s AS final parting from his haram was more distressing and frightful than the Day of Qiyaamat.” This vivid depiction is coupled with literary merit in the usage of the homograph arwa ́ (اروع). In the first line it is used as a verb and means ‘more frightening’, and in the second, it is used as an adjective that describes Imam Husain AS as ‘one whose elegance overwhelms’. Thus, in seeking his shahaadat, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, Imam Husain AS is the epitome of tranquility and serenity. With his final farewell, Imam Husain AS anointed Imam Ali Zayn al-Abideen’s AS with the taaj of nass.

The following eight verses (23-30) describe the difficulties faced by the sayyidaat (سيدات) of Imam Husain’s AS haram following his shahaadat. O Sorrow for the shahzadi of Kisra (Maulatona Shehrebanu AS) and her imprisonment! She is the pious maa saahiba of all the virtuous Aiʾmmat Tahireen SA. O Anguish for Maulatona Rabaab AS who is in great distress and suffering! Her heart is in despair, her tears are incessant and all the while she bewails Imam Husain AS with her rithaa’ (رثاء- elegiac poetry; lament). O Despair for Fatema al-Kubraa and Fatema al-Sugraa! Faced with an immense and unrelenting kubraa (كبرى – calamity), they are inconsolable and incapable of forbearance. Relentless in her maatam and mourning for her revered brother Husain AS, Maulatona UmmeKulsum AS sheds crimson tears sobbing and sighing heavily. Woe for her as she rends her garments in grief and in an attempt to preserve her honour, veils her radiant wajh mubarak (وجه مبارك – face) with her hair as her pardah has been snatched.

Woe for the widows of the haram who carry their orphaned children. They have lost their men; noblemen, respected and venerated, who now lie slain upon the desert sand underneath the open sky. Great is my grief for these pious sayyidaat, surrounded by enemies, full of remorse and pain, wailing for the loss of Imam Husain AS, his As-haab and Ahlebait. Robes rent and hearts distressed, they bear the hardships inflicted upon them and suffer the severe difficulties that lay ahead.

The children, too, were not spared from torment. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA in the 31st verse declares his anguish for the Ahlebait’s children who are wailing and weeping. Even their little hands and feet have been bound and following the loss of their fathers, they are left with no one to turn to.

Having mourned the sayyidaat and their brave children, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA describes the valour of the youth of Ahlebait in the 32nd verse, who with immense courage and resolve defended Imam Husain AS. Ultimately, their tafaadi led them to their shahaadat. Continuing on, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA lauds the tafaadi of As-haab Kiraam (verses 33, 34 & 35), the resolute warriors, lions of the battlefield. Felled upon the battlefield of Karbala, they fulfilled the true meaning of loyalty and tafaadi. Of these shohadaa’, some were wounded with spears, some martyred and fallen, while others were severed from their heads, lying slain upon the sands of Tuff, Karbala. Pure, blessed, honourable, distinguished, exemplary, noble and pious; these were the characteristics of the shohadaa’ of Karbala.

In his final sajda, Imam Husain’s AS raʾs mubarak was severed from his jism mubarak (جسم مبارك) by the cursed Shimar. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA discusses both in the following three verses. After a declaration of devotion and sacrifice towards Imam Husain’s AS radiant shabh nuraani (شبح نوراني), Syedna al-Muqaddas RA states that the essence of ages, the dwelling place of rabb al-zuhur is now being trampled upon by the horses of scoundrels. In a revelation of anguish and pain, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA puts forth an emotional question: Shall a mumin remain unperturbed! Is there any greater calamity! The raʾs mubarak of Maulana al-Imam al-Husain AS, shining like the sun, is raised upon a spear point by his assailants! The disrespect and shamelessness does not end here. O Woe, for the vessel in which Imam Husain’s AS raʾs mubarak lies whilst Laʿeen Yazeed, seated upon his throne, mockingly prods at his choka mubarak (چوكا مبارك – teeth).

The 39th and 40th verses are Syedna al-Muqaddas’ RA behest to Mumineento lament Imam Husain AS.

Rasul Allah SA, Maulatona Fatema AS, Ameer al-Mumineen Maulana Ali AS, Imam Hasan AS and all the honourable Prophets are engaged in bukaaʾ. The heavens and the earth wail as does al-Dawat al-Gharraa’. Therefore, O Mumineen, mourn him as well!

Syedna al-Muqaddas RA then rebukes Imam Husain’s AS oppressors (verses 41 & 42) for martyring the heart and essence of deen , the purest of the pure. He condemns them for slaying a pious, nuraani (radiant) and divine soul.

The marthiya mubaraka began with a solemn address to Imam Husain AS, and again towards its finish, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA supplicates his Maula.

O hujjat of Rahmaan (Allah Taʿala), essence of the ages and emblem of ‘imaan (ايمان). O bestower of wishes and desires; the noblest of noblemen. Maula!

Your servant mourns you, laments you with rithaaʾ. He sacrifices for you and as a means of fulfilling the haqq of tafaadi, has dedicated this marthiya in your honour.

Syedna al-Muqaddas AS affirms his loyalty to Imam AS, the heir and shahzadah of Rasul Allah SA and Ameer al-Mumineen AS. As a gesture of his tafaadi, he offers his soul, his family, mother, father and children.

Then, signifying the continual, uninterrupted chain of imaamat Syedna al-Muqaddas RA addresses Imam al-Zamaan AS:

O Imam al-Zamaan AS, shahzadah of Imam al-Husain al-Shaheed AS, you are ever-present and all observing. Like your bawaaji saaheb Imam Husain AS, you are the hujjat of Rabb-e-Majeed. Upon you, guidance seekers depend and towards you, the pure and sincere seek refuge. Imam al-Zaman AS! Grace your servant with your benevolence. Forgive him, redeem him and bring him closer to you, for he has no sanctuary other than you, the zill (ظل – shade) of Allah Taʿala.

The marthiya mubaraka (verses 48 to 51) ends with Syedna al-Muqaddas’ RA entreatment to Allah Taʿala to continuously shower His salawaat (صلوات) and barakaat upon Imam Husain AS, to honour him and, to venerate him and have mercy upon him for as long as rain continues to falls from the skies. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA continues his plea by seeking Allah Taʿala’s salawaat upon (verse 49) Imam Husain’s AS noble judd (جد – grandfather) and respected father, wajh al-ilaah (وجه الاله), his honourable mother and virtuous brother, his devoted as-haab and eminent progeny, persons of radiance and glory.

Syedna al-Muqaddas RA (verse 50) invokes Allah Taʿala with the waseelah of Khamsat At-haar ASS and Aiʾmmat Tahireen AS to dispel all troubles, increase barakaat, change sayyi ́aat into hasanaat and to answer his humble supplication. Lastly, verse 51 is Syedna al-Muqaddas’ RA plea to condemn Laʿeen Yazid and all those who aided and abetted him in oppressing the distinguished Ahlebait of Rasul Allah SA.


  1. Good fortune; prosperity 
  2. The seventh septet ends at 49, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS is the 52nd Dai Mutlaq making him the third in the eight septet, or saatraa-ساترا 
  3. The first official decree of the Fatimi Kingdom was issued on the 20th of Rabi ́al-Akhir 297 AH.