The Brilliant Sun Of Youth
Among the elegant faces of the family of prophethood was one whose name is written, spoken and heard always with the appellation of “the youth”. This is Ali ibn al-Husain, commonly called Ali Akbar, (That is Ali, the elder).
This son of Imam Husain (a.s) had just stepped into adolescence. A brilliant face and such a beautiful way of speech and movement that it seemed Providence had created him with special care. On the day of Ashura he was eighteen years old. His mother was the noble lady named Laila. She was a descendant of Urwah Ibn Masood Thaqafi, one of the four bravest warriors of Arabs in the period prior to Islam. Imam Husain (a.s) had named all his sons after his respected father. May be since the names of all the three sons was Ali, they were addressed with different appellations of Ali Akbar (Ali, the elder) and Ali Asghar (Ali, the younger) etc. for the sake of identification.
Ali Akbar resembled Ali (a.s) in his intelligence, valor and personality, and his physical appearance, facial features; way of walking and talking was exactly like that of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.).
Ali Akbar was the first youth to have taken to the field in Kerbala. According to some other reports he was the first of the youths of Bani Hashim who attacked the opponent army with great zeal and achieved martyrdom for the assistance of his respected father.
When Ali Akbar came to Imam Husain seeking permission to take to the battlefield, the Imam glanced at an army of 30000 and then looked at Ali Akbar, that he was going to fight that huge multitude all alone. (We don’t know how Imam Husain felt at that moment). Though he gave the permission, he added, “My son, Ali Akbar! Bid farewell to your paternal aunt, mother and sisters and then go out for the battle.” Ali Akbar went inside the tent and the ladies surrounded him. There was absolute chaos in the tent. The ladies were saying, “O the memento of the Prophet of Islam, have mercy on our honor and alienhood. We would not be able to live without you.”
But Ali Akbar was such a dignified young man that he saw his father besieged by the foes; and the ferocious army was ready to murder the son of the Prophet. How was it possible to continue seeing the oppressed condition of this father and the painful circumstances to which the women and children were subjected? Thus he bid farewell to the ladies of his family and left for the battleground.
The holy Imam accompanied him for some distance. Then he looked at the sky in an expectant way and said, “O my Lord! Be a witness that one who is going to the battlefield resembles Your Prophet in the ways of talking and walking, facial features and habits. Whenever, we, Ahle Bayt, wanted to have a view of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) we used to look
at Ali Akbar and cool our hearts. O God! Remove the bounties of the world from these army men and subject them to confusion and calamities, in such a way that they can never rule upon us. Because they had invited us to come here, and now they are opposed to us and ready to fight and kill us.”
After that the oppressed one of Kerbala called the son of Saad and said, “May Allah cut off your generations and may you never obtain what you lust for. And may Allah give power to such an oppressor over you as he beheads you when you are in bed. Because due to the martyrdom of this elegant youth you have cut off my generations that were to arrive through him, and you have not even paid any regard to my relationship with my maternal grandfather (the Prophet).”
Ali Akbar arrived in the battlefield and in keeping with custom of that time recited a zealous Rajaz (versified introduction of himself and his aim in brief):
I am Ali the son of Husain, whose grandfather was the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.). By Allah! We are the rightfully deserving ones of the vicegerency of Allah. By God! These spurious descendants cannot rule over us. I would indeed fight with you with a sword and even if the sword breaks, I would fight with a dagger till it breaks, so that you know the power of a Hashemite youth.”
After that he launched a terrific attack and scattered the rows of warriors and came back to his place. He attacked in the same way again and again till all the rows and columns of the opponent army were in disarray.
Thirst…such thirst as cannot be imagined. It was only thirst that had changed the condition of Ali Akbar. After he had killed a hundred and twenty Nasibis (enemies of Ahle Bayt), there were screams for help in the army of Yazid. This youth who displayed the valor of Ali (a.s) came back to his father and said, “Father! Thirst is killing me. If I could get only a little water I would change the face of this battle.” Imam Husain (a.s) did not say that there was no water and that he too was thirsty like Ali Akbar. He kept his tongue in the mouth of his son so that he could suck whatever moisture was there in it. However, Ali Akbar pulled back his tongue and said, “Father! Your tongue is drier than mine!”
After this, Ali Akbar returned to the battlefield and this time enemies surrounded him and attacked him from all sides in unison. Repeated strokes fell on him and his body was cut into pieces and he fell down from his horse.
According to a narration when Imam Husain (a.s) came to his son, he had already departed for Paradise . Imam Husain (a.s) placed his head on his thigh and recited the dirge:
“My son, you have bid farewell to the world. You are released from the griefs and sorrows of the world but your father is left alone for martyrdom.”
At that time when the world had become dark for the Imam he called out, “O youths! Take the last remains of your brother from the field to the camp…”