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Last updateSat, 17 Feb 2018 3pm

Ali Akbar, the Hashemite Prince

The scene of Ali Akbar's march towards the battlefield was such as would defy description. The cries of ladies and children of Hussain's (A.S) camp were rising above the din of battle-cries and beating of enemy drums. It was appearing as if a dead body of an only son, dead in the prime of youth, was being taken out of a house for the last rites.
Ali Akbar was now facing the enemy hordes. He was addressing the forces of Umar ibn Sa'ad with an eloquence which he had inherited from his Grandfather and the Prophet. He was telling them that Hussain (A.S), his father, had done them no harm and had devoted his life to the cause of Islam. He was explaining to them that by shedding the blood of Hussain (A.S) and his kinsmen. They would be incurring the wrath of God and displeasure of the Prophet who had loved Hussain (A.S) more than any other person. He was exhorting them not to smear their hands with the blood of a person so holy, so God-fearing and so righteous. His words cast a spell on the army of the opponents. The older ones from amongst them were blinking their eyes in amazement and wondering whether the Prophet had descended from the Heavens to warn them against the shedding of Hussain's (A.S) blood. What a resemblance there was with the Prophet, in face, features and even mannerism! Even the voice was of Muhammad! But on second thoughts, they realized that this was Ali Akbar, the 18 year old son of Hussain (A.S), about whose close resemblance with the Prophet people were talking so much.
Seeing the effect which Ali Akbar's address had produced on his soldiers, Umar ibn Sa'ad exhorted them to challenge him to single combat. A few of them, coveting the honor and rewards they would get if they overpowered and killed this brave son of Hussain (A.S), emaciated by three days of hunger and thirst, came forward to challenge him. One by one he met them in battle, gave them a taste of his skill and prowess in fighting and flung them from their horseback to meet the doom they so much deserved. Now it was his turn to challenge the warriors of Yazid to come forward. Seeing that in spite of his handicaps, he was capable of displaying valor and battle craft for which his grandfather Ali had acquired name and fame and which had struck terror into the hearts of enemies of Islam none dared to come forward.
Ali Akbar had received several gaping wounds in the course of his victorious single combats. He was fast losing blood and the effect of his thirst was getting accentuated with every second that was passing. He realized that the treacherous enemies would attack him in masse. He had left his mother in a dazed condition. An irresistible urge to see his dear ones for the last time seized him and he turned his horse towards his camp.
He found his father standing at the doorstep of the tent and his mother and aunt standing inside the tent. Hussain (A.S) had been watching the battles of this thirsty youth and the two ladies were watching his face: they knew that if any calamity befell Ali Akbar, Hussain's (A.S) expression would indicate it. Whilst watching Hussain's (A.S) face, they were both praying offering silent prayers:
O Allah, Who brought back Ishmael to Hagar (Hajar); O Allah, Who granted the prayers of the mother Musa and restored her son to her; O Allah, Who reunited Jacob with his son Joseph in response to the aged father's supplications, grant us our one wish to see Ali Akbar for once.
Was it the effect of these prayers that brought back Ali Akbar to the camp?
Ali Akbar was now facing his aged father and his loving mother and Zainab. With an exclamation of joy and relief they clung to him. Hussain (A.S) lovingly embraced his son saying:
Bravo, my son. The gallantry you how displayed today reminded me of the battles of my revered father, Ali. The only difference was that, during his fights, my father Ali had not to battle against hunger and thirst as you had to.
Ali Akbar with his head bent replied:
Father, thirst is killing me because my wounds have added to its effect. It is usual to ask for rewards from parents for celebrating victories in single combats and I would have asked for a cup of refreshing water from you. But alas! I know that you have not even a drop of water with which you can quench the thirst of the young children. Father, knowing this, I shall not embarrass you by asking for water. I have come only to see you and my dear ones for the last time.
Ali Akbar met each and every one of his family. The second parting was sad as the first one, perhaps sadder. Without being told, every one realized that this was the last time they were beholding Akbar. Fizza, the faithful maid of Fatima and Zainab, was as disconsolate with grief as Zainab and Umme Laila. Hussain (A.S) followed Ali Akbar out of the tent. As he rode away, Hussain (A.S) walked behind him with a brisk pace for some distance, as a man follows his sacrificial lamb in Mina. When Akbar disappeared from his sight, he turned heavenwards and, with his hands raised, he prayed:
O Allah, Thou art my Witness that on this day I have sent away for sacrifice one whom I loved and cherished most, to defend the cause of righteousness and truth.
He sat on the ground as if trying to listen expectantly to some call from the battlefield.
It was not very long before he received a wailing call, a call from Ali Akbar, a call of anguish and pain:
Father, Akbar has fallen with a mortal wound in his chest. Father, come to me for I have not long to live. If you cannot reach me, I convey my last salutations to you and my dear ones.
Though Hussain (A.S) was anticipating such a call, what a ghastly effect it had on him! He rose from the ground and fell; he rose again and fell again. With one hand on his heart he struggled to his feet. Torrential tears were flooding his eyes. He rushed in the direction from which the cry had come. It seemed as Hussain's (A.S) strength had ebbed away on hearing that fateful cry of his dearest son, for he was falling at every few steps. He was sobbing:
Akbar, give me another shout so that I can follow its direction. Akbar, my sight is gone with the shock I have received and there is nobody to guide me to where you lie.
Abbas came rushing to the aid of his master. Holding his hand he led him on to the place from where Akbar's dying cry had come.
Now Hussain (A.S) was stumbling his way onwards resting his hands on Abbas' shoulders. The distance seemed interminable but at last Hussain (A.S) and Abbas reached the place where Akbar was lying in a pool of his own blood. Ah, that tragic sight! May no father have occasion to see his young on in such a conditions. With one hand on his chest covering a deep wound from which blood was gushing out, with his face writhing with pain, Akbar was lying on the ground prostrate and unconscious. With the agony he was enduring on account of the wound and the thirst that he was offering, he was digging his feet into the sand. With a cry of anguish Hussain (A.S) fell on the body of Akbar.
My son, tell me where you are hurt; tell me who has wounded you in the chest. Why don't you say something? My Akbar, I have come in response to your call. Say one word to me, Akbar.
Seeing that Akbar was lying there without any response to his entreaties, Hussain (A.S) turned to Abbas and said:
Abbas, why don't you tell Akbar to say something to me. My dutiful son, who used to get up on seeing me, is lying on the ground pressed by the hand of death.
Hussain (A.S) once again flung himself on the body of Akbar. His breathing was now heavier; a gurgling sound was coming from his throat. It seemed that his young life was engaged in an uneven struggle with death. Hussain (A.S) put his head on Akbar's chest. He lifted it and put his own cheeks against Akbar's and wailed:
Akbar, for once open your eyes and smile, as you were always smiling to gladden my heart.
Though Akbar did not open his eyes, a faint smile appeared on his lips as if he had listened to his father's request. With the sweet smile still playing on his lips, he heaved a gasp and with that his soul departed. The cheeks of the father were still touching the cheeks of the son, in death as so many times in life.
He made all the efforts that he was capable of and, assisted by Abbas, he lifted the body of Akbar. Clasping it close to his bosom, he started the long walk to his camp. How he reached is difficult to say. It would not be too much to imagine that his grandfather Muhammad, his father Ali, his brother Hasan and perhaps his mother Fatima had descended from heaven to help him in this task.
Hussain (A.S) reached the camp and laid down Akbar's body on the ground. He called Umme Laila and Zainab and Kulsum, Sakina and Rokayya, Fizza and the other ladies of the house to see the face of Akbar for the last time. The loving mother came, the loving aunts came, the children came, and surrounded the body of Ali Akbar. They looked at Akbar's face and then at Hussain's (A.S). They knew that their weeping would add to Hussain's (A.S) grief which was already brimful. Ali Akbar's mother went up to her husband and with stifled sobs and bent head, she said to him:
My master, I am proud of Akbar for dying such a noble death. He has laid down his life in the noblest cause and this thought will sustain me through the rest of my life. I implore you to pray for me, to pray for ail of us, that Almighty Allah may grant us patience and solace.
Saying this she turned to the dead body of her son lying on the ground and put her face on his. Zainab and Kulsum, and Ruqayyah had all flung themselves on Akbar's body. The tears that were flowing from their eyes were sufficient to wash away the clotted blood from the wounds of Akbar.
Hussain (A.S) sat for a few minutes near the dead body of his son; the son whom he had lost in such tragic circumstances; the son who had died craving for a drop of water to quench his thirst. He felt dazed with grief. He was awakened from his stupor by Qasim, the son of his brother, who had come to seek his permission to go to the battlefield. He rose from the ground, wiped the tears from his aged eyes and muttered:
Verily from God we come, and unto Him is our return.

This article borrowed from shia.org.

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