He is Sajjad: Tears are Gems Not Simply Sorrow

He is Abid, He is Sajjad.

The day of the Ashura has come, the night of sorrows has gone.
His caravan is on it’s way to Shaam.
This is Sajjad’s Ashura, this is Sajjad’s battle.
Not slaughtered, but still, treated like cattle
Sajjad watches them: his aunts, his sisters, his mother
Herded from one town to the next, from one city to another

And he speaks to them.

He speaks to Layla of her Akbar:
Of his beautiful face, and his fine character,
His broad and strong chest that housed his loyal and loving heart, and
of the spear that pierced that chest, of the blood that purified that sand.

He speaks to Farwah of her Qasim:
Of his eagerness, and his devotion
That could not be contained and so scattered into pieces on the plains of Karbala,
Each fragment individually bearing witness to the unity and justice of Allah.

He speaks to Bano of her Asghar:
Of his delicate skin and gentle breath.
Of how his small body, which could neither mount a horse nor lift a sword nor speak his mind,
Protected the body of Hussain, wordlessly announcing the rightfully appointed Imam of his time.

He speaks to Sakina of her Abbas:
Of the unfulfilled promise, the loyalty, and the loss.
Of the warm embrace of his strong arms,
Of the aftermath, the burning tents, the snatched earrings, the bruised face, the lost home.

He speaks to Zainab of her Hussain:
Of the beautiful neck that the Prophet kissed,
Of the brother who will be so desperately missed.
Of the strength of the children of Zahra that gets passed from one to the other,
Of the sacrifices of the father, the brothers, the sisters, the mother.
Of the grand plan.
Of the heads of Zainab and Hussain,
Both once covered by the chadar of Tathir,
now paraded through bazaars and cities.

He fills his heart with the pain of others
With the tears of sisters and aunts and mothers.
Is it any wonder that he cries a flood?
Do they surprise you, his tears of blood?

Who does he talk to, this Abid, this Sajjad?
Who does he turn to, save for God?

He speaks to Allah of Akbar and Abbas.
He speaks to Allah of the grief, the loss.
He speaks of them all, one by one, name by name.
But in his conversations, there is no complaint.
There is no lament, no grumble. And no objection.
Instead there is contentment, and gratitude, courage and conviction.

And there is an invitation.

Come, even the chains around his body say,
Come and listen, come and pray.
Learn from us how to live this life,
Learn from us how to find solace in strife.
There is no ailment this grief cannot cure,
There is no death if your heart is pure.

He is Abid, he is Sajjad.
This design is the work of God.
He knows this journey, he knows the direction.
He knows that he carries the promise of perfection.
The message is his to carry on,
It has been since the very first dawn.
His tears are gems, do not mistake them for simply sorrow.
They are our shifa’a: guiding our paths, illuminating our tomorrow.

Imam Sajjad

Imam Sajjad


Ailia H. Rizvi is currently working on an MA in The Study of Contemporary Pakistan at SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies ), focusing on Muharram-centric cultural and literary production and how it informs Shia identity in Pakistan.She holds an MA in English Literature and had been teaching writing and literature at a community college previously.


Biography of Imam Sajjad