The Stranger-A poem written by the greatgrandson of the Prophet ﷺ

Ali ibn Husain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, better known as Zain al-‘Abideen, was the great-grandson of the Prophet ﷺ and one of the few members of Ahl-Bayt to survive the massacre at Karbala. In addition to being known for his ascetism, worship, and piety, he was from the early scholars of orthodox Islam. He is counted amongst the jurists of the tabi’een and  his narrations are mentioned in all six books of hadith. Amongst those who narrated from him are the famous scholars Tawus ibn Kaisan, Amr ibn Dinar, Hisham ibn ‘Urwah, and Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri (the father of hadith compilation). Ibn ‘Abbas would greet Zain al-‘Abideen by saying “Welcome oh beloved and son of the beloved.”

The following is a famous poem he is said to have composed:

لَيْسَ الغَريبُ غَريبَ الشَّأمِ واليَمَنِ * إِنَّ الغَريبَ غَريبُ اللَّحدِ والكَفَنِ

The stranger is not the foreigner to the East or West
Rather, the stranger is the one foreign to the shroud and the coffin.

إِنَّ الغَريِبَ لَهُ حَقٌّ لِغُرْبَتـِهِ * على الْمُقيمينَ في الأَوطــانِ والسَّكَنِ

For even the foreigner from afar has rights due to him
From the people of the nations and towns through which he travels.

لا تَنْهَرَنَّ غَريبًا حَالَ غُرْبَ الدَّهْرُ يَنْهَرَهُ بالذُّلِ و المِحَنِ

So chide not this foreigner about his condition –
For Time already chides him with troubles and humiliation:

سَفَري بَعيدٌ وَزادي لَنْ يُبَلِّغَنـي * وَقُوَّتي ضَعُفَتْ والمـوتُ يَطلُبُنـي

My journey is far and my provisions will not suffice me;
My strength has been sapped, and Death calls out to me.

وَلي بَقايــا ذُنوبٍ لَسْتُ أَعْلَمُها * الله يَعْلَمُهــا في السِّرِ والعَلَنِ

And yet I have a surplus of sins that I have overlooked –
But Allah knows of them, those done in secret and openly.

مـَا أَحْلَمَ اللهَ عَني حَيْثُ أَمْهَلَني * وقَدْ تَمـادَيْتُ في ذَنْبي ويَسْتُرُنِي

How forbearing has Allah been to me! Granting me respite
Though I persisted in sin, He has always veiled me.

تَمُرُّ سـاعـاتُ أَيّـَامي بِلا نَدَمٍ * ولا بُكاءٍ وَلاخَـوْفٍ ولا حـَزَنِ

And so the hours of my life passed without regret
With neither tears, nor fear, nor sadness – but blissfully;

أَنَـا الَّذِي أُغْلِقُ الأَبْوابَ مُجْتَهِداً * عَلى المعاصِي وَعَيْنُ اللهِ تَنْظُرُنـي

For I was the one who secured the doors vigorously
Seeking refuge from the world while behaving sinfully;
Heedless that the Eye of God was always watching over me.

يَـا زَلَّةً كُتِبَتْ في غَفْلَةٍ ذَهَبَتْ * يَـا حَسْرَةً بَقِيَتْ في القَلبِ تُحْرِقُني

Oh! The mistakes that have been inscribed for me,
Performed in a time of heedlessness, come fleetingly,
Now passed, so only regret remains in my heart, consuming me.

دَعْني أَنُوحُ عَلى نَفْسي وَأَنْدِبُـهـا * وَأَقْطَعُ الدَّهْرَ بِالتَّذْكِيـرِ وَالحَزَنِ

Leave me to weep for my soul and to wail
To spend the time that remains in mourning and misery.

دع عنك عذلي يامن كان يعذلنـي*لوكنت تعلم مابي كنـت تعذرنـي

Leave off your Blaming of me O you who do so…
If you were but to know my situation you would have excused me…

دعني أسح دموعا لا انقطاع لهـا*فهل عسى عبرة منهـا تخلصنـي

Leave me to weep these tears unceasingly –
Perhaps by this exertion I will attain purity.

كَأَنَّني بَينَ تلك الأَهلِ مُنطَرِحــَاً * عَلى الفِراشِ وَأَيْديهِمْ تُقَلِّبُنــي

It is as if I am lying prostrate, amongst my family
Upon the bed, as their hands turn me over repeatedly;

وقد تجمع حولي من ينـوح ومـن*يبكـي علـي وينعانـي ويندبنـي

Gathered around me are those concerned for me,
They wail, and grieve, and mourn for me.

وَقد أَتَوْا بِطَبيبٍ كَـيْ يُعالِجَنـي * وَلَمْ أَرَ الطِّبَّ هـذا اليـومَ يَنْفَعُني

They come now with a doctor, seeking some remedy –
But today I know no medicine can benefit me..

واشَتد نَزْعِي وَصَار المَوتُ يَجْذِبُـها * مِن كُلِّ عِرْقٍ بِلا رِفقٍ ولا هَوَنِ

And now it comes – the tearing out of my living entity –
From every vein. The harshness! The cruelty!

واستَخْرَجَ الرُّوحَ مِني في تَغَرْغُرِها * وصـَارَ رِيقي مَريراً حِينَ غَرْغَرَني

My soul rushes from me, escaping this earthly body –
I taste the bitterness of my death, as it pushes past my throat and out of me.

وَغَمَّضُوني وَراحَ الكُلُّ وانْصَرَفوا * بَعْدَ الإِياسِ وَجَدُّوا في شِرَا الكَفَنِ

They close my eyes, and all of them have left me
Having lost hope in my life, they seek now to bury me.

وَقـامَ مَنْ كانَ حِبَّ لنّاسِ في عَجَلٍ * نَحْوَ المُغَسِّلِ يَأْتينـي يُغَسِّلُنــي

And quickly rises, he who was dearest to me
To summon the person who is to wash me

وَقــالَ يـا قَوْمِ نَبْغِي غاسِلاً حَذِقاً * حُراً أَرِيباً لَبِيبـاً عَارِفـاً فَطِنِ

He cries out “Oh people, we seek one who can wash him,
Properly, expertly, respectfully…”

فَجــاءَني رَجُلٌ مِنْهُمْ فَجَرَّدَني * مِنَ الثِّيــابِ وَأَعْرَاني وأَفْرَدَني

So then one of the men came and removed my clothing,
He undressed me and uncovered my body.

وَأَوْدَعوني عَلى الأَلْواحِ مُنْطَرِحـاً * وَصـَارَ فَوْقي خَرِيرُ الماءِ يَنْظِفُني

He lay me prostrate upon a tablet,
And a stream of water descended, cleansing me;

وَأَسْكَبَ الماءَ مِنْ فَوقي وَغَسَّلَني * غُسْلاً ثَلاثاً وَنَادَى القَوْمَ بِالكَفَنِ

He poured the water, washing me
Three times, before calling the people to enter with the shroud for me.

وَأَلْبَسُوني ثِيابـاً لا كِمامَ لهـا * وَصارَ زَادي حَنُوطِي حيـنَ حَنَّطَني

In a garment with no sleeves, they dressed me
And the perfume between my lips became the only provision for me.

وأَخْرَجوني مِنَ الدُّنيـا فَوا أَسَفاً * عَلى رَحِيـلٍ بِلا زادٍ يُبَلِّغُنـي

Then they took me from this world – ah, woe upon me!
Who was forced from the world, without provisions sufficient for this journey.

وَحَمَّلوني على الأْكتـافِ أَربَعَةٌ * مِنَ الرِّجـالِ وَخَلْفِي مَنْ يُشَيِّعُني

Four men upon their shoulders carry me
Those who have come to bid farewell trail behind respectfully.

وَقَدَّموني إِلى المحرابِ وانصَرَفوا * خَلْفَ الإِمـَامِ فَصَلَّى ثـمّ وَدَّعَني

They carry me to the mosque, before retreating hastily
Behind the Imam to pray, bidding farewell to me.

صَلَّوْا عَلَيَّ صَلاةً لا رُكوعَ لهـا * ولا سُجـودَ لَعَلَّ اللـهَ يَرْحَمُني

They pray a prayer with neither bowings nor prostrations
That perhaps my Lord will grant to me his Infinite Mercy.

وَأَنْزَلوني إلـى قَبري على مَهَلٍ * وَقَدَّمُوا واحِداً مِنهـم يُلَحِّدُنـي

Then they lower me into the grave, carefully:
A friend descends to lay me down properly.

وَكَشَّفَ الثّوْبَ عَن وَجْهي لِيَنْظُرَني * وَأَسْكَبَ الدَّمْعَ مِنْ عَيْنيهِ أَغْرَقَني

He raised the garment from my face to gaze upon me
And the tears spilled from his eyes awashing me

فَقامَ مُحتَرِمــاً بِالعَزمِ مُشْتَمِلاً * وَصَفَّفَ اللَّبِنَ مِنْ فَوْقِي وفـارَقَني

Then a man rises and begins, expertly
To construct my tomb, isolating me.

وقَالَ هُلُّوا عليه التُّرْبَ واغْتَنِموا * حُسْنَ الثَّوابِ مِنَ الرَّحمنِ ذِي المِنَنِ

“Cover him!” He calls, as they pour the earth over me,
“And receive the best of rewards, from He of Greatest Mercy!”

في ظُلْمَةِ القبرِ لا أُمٌّ هنــاك ولا * أَبٌ شَفـيقٌ ولا أَخٌ يُؤَنِّسُنــي

There, in the darkness of the grave, no mother is to be found,
Nor a merciful father, nor a brother to give me company;

فَرِيدٌ وَحِيدُ القبرِ، يــا أَسَفـاً * عَلى الفِراقِ بِلا عَمَلٍ يُزَوِّدُنـي

Alone… The only inhabitant of the grave, oh how sorrowful!
Am I on parting the world bearing no deeds to provision me?

وَهالَني صُورَةً في العينِ إِذْ نَظَرَتْ * مِنْ هَوْلِ مَطْلَعِ ما قَدْ كان أَدهَشَني

And now I grow terrified, as sight returns to me,
And an image forms, petrifying me –

مِنْ مُنكَرٍ ونكيرٍ مـا أَقولُ لهم * قَدْ هــَالَني أَمْرُهُمْ جِداً فَأَفْزَعَني

Munkar and Nakeer, what shall I say to them?
I am alone, frightened to rigidity.

وَأَقْعَدوني وَجَدُّوا في سُؤالِهـِمُ * مَـالِي سِوَاكَ إِلهـي مَنْ يُخَلِّصُنِي

And they made me to sit and put forth their questions
I have none other than You now, O Lord, to deliver me!

فَامْنُنْ عَلَيَّ بِعَفْوٍ مِنك يــا أَمَلي * فَإِنَّني مُوثَقٌ بِالذَّنْبِ مُرْتَهــَنِ

So please, my Only Hope! Bless me with forgiveness from Thee,
For indeed, my sins are as shackles, subduing me.

تَقاسمَ الأهْلُ مالي بعدما انْصَرَفُوا * وَصَارَ وِزْرِي عَلى ظَهْرِي فَأَثْقَلَني

My family, returning home, splits my wealth evenly,
They take the spoils while I carry the burden solitarily.

واستَبْدَلَتْ زَوجَتي بَعْلاً لهـا بَدَلي * وَحَكَّمَتْهُ فِي الأَمْوَالِ والسَّكَـنِ

My wife replaces me with another
Granting him authority over my wealth and property.

وَصَيَّرَتْ وَلَدي عَبْداً لِيَخْدُمَهــا * وَصَارَ مَـالي لهم حـِلاً بِلا ثَمَنِ

My child becomes as a servant to her,
And they spend of my earnings freely.

فَلا تَغُرَّنَّكَ الدُّنْيــا وَزِينَتُها * وانْظُرْ إلى فِعْلِهــا في الأَهْلِ والوَطَنِ

So do not be deceived by this material life and its beauty
But look instead to what it has wrought upon family and country.

وانْظُرْ إِلى مَنْ حَوَى الدُّنْيا بِأَجْمَعِها * هَلْ رَاحَ مِنْها بِغَيْرِ الحَنْطِ والكَفَنِ

And look also to those who have conquered it in its entirety –
Did they leave with more than soil in their mouths, and a memory for posterity?

خُذِ القَنـَاعَةَ مِنْ دُنْيَاك وارْضَ بِها * لَوْ لم يَكُنْ لَكَ إِلا رَاحَةُ البَدَنِ

Be satisfied with your material wealth, and worship thankfully
Though you may have nothing more than health and a sound body.

يَـا زَارِعَ الخَيْرِ تحصُدْ بَعْدَهُ ثَمَراً * يَا زَارِعَ الشَّرِّ مَوْقُوفٌ عَلَى الوَهَنِ

You who sow good, know this!  You shall reap your reward happily;
You who sow evil, know this! You shall stand in weakness and misery.

يـَا نَفْسُ كُفِّي عَنِ العِصْيانِ واكْتَسِبِي * فِعْلاً جميلاً لَعَلَّ اللهَ يَرحَمُني

Oh my soul! Cease your evil inclinations and work acts of beauty
Acts of good and righteousness, that Allah might show you mercy!

يَا نَفْسُ وَيْحَكِ تُوبي واعمَلِي حَسَناً * عَسى تُجازَيْنَ بَعْدَ الموتِ بِالحَسَنِ

Woe to you, my soul! Repent, and do good,
That you may be rewarded in kind after death has taken thee.

ثمَّ الصلاةُ على الْمُختـارِ سَيِّدِنـا * مَا وَصَّـا البَرْقَ في شَّامٍ وفي يَمَنِ

Lastly sending prayers upon the Chosen one, Our Leader
Who illuminated all that was between East and West equally;

والحمدُ لله مُمْسِينَـا وَمُصْبِحِنَا * بِالخَيْرِ والعَفْوْ والإِحْســانِ وَالمِنَنِ

All thanks are due to Allah, who lets us rise and retire peacefully,
With goodness, forgiveness, and blessings, with grace and equity.

Translation based on translation done by Zacharia al Khatib at zalkhatib.wordpress.com and Amirah and Mawadah at IslamicBoard.com. 

 

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