there have been times an infant this has shown
that age does not define how much you know
the wisdom that we look for in the skies
is oft found in the youngest child’s cries
there have been times without having to speak
servants of God managed the greatest deeds
unrecognized by servants of this world
young soldiers in the service of their Lord
such tyrants history had come to see
the likes of which before there’d never been
yet, by this Pharaoh’s reign would come to end—
a infant’s basket down the river bend
such miracles which had not yet been done
Maryam, untouched, had given birth—a son
protect his mother, Isa had been able
words spoken by one resting in his cradle
such darkness had been spread in Karbala
when called a question out Aba Abdillah
an answer given by his infant son
showed clearly who the battle truly won
when tender Ali Asghar raised his arms
eager to save the life of his Imam
it demonstrated no matter your age
we all have our own separate part to play
when his tongue was run over thirsty lips
soldiers of greed found that their choice was this:
repent and turn back from the way they’d come,
or seal their fate with Asghar’s martyrdom
perhaps some men start shuffling their feet
perhaps this truth they slowly start to see
what excuse do they have to truly give
for not letting an infant child live?
what is it, in the gasping of his breath?
what is it, resting on his father’s chest?
that causes seasoned soldiers to grow scared
as if a dark abyss before them stares
without words Ali Asghar sends a message
the only weapon that you need is courage
the smallest acts will always aid the fight
to overcome the darkness with the light
the cries of Ali Asghar reach their ears
the piercing of a soldier’s driving spears
tears making plain the message of Islam
cannot be made separate from the Imam
with tears he strikes such fear into their souls
with tears demanding each of them to know:
his tears are tears that smother flaming fires
his tears are tears that topple grand empires
all murdered but Hussain still stands unbeaten!
before them, Ali Asghar undefeated!
…and so an archer raises up his bow
the coward’s old response to the hero
an arrow from a grown man’s hand takes flight
the small neck of a sweet child it strikes
goes limp an infant in his father’s arms
rivers of blood left pooling in his palms
and yet, the patience of Hussain remains
in tears towards the sky such words he says
how easy hardships that on me befall
when witnessed in the presence of Allah…
was this the tyrant’s wish? a desert grave?
in which a tiny body is to lay?
how can the heart hold back its wailing screams
thinking of how small this grave must be…
wails sounding from a mother’s empty arms
for centuries this grief will now live on
until that moment comes on Judgement Day
when every tyrant’s sentence is proclaimed
when angels will scream, wa Museebata!
as brought forth are tyrants of Karbala
an infant’s justice will be realized
appearing with this question in his eyes:
speak of your sins, explain before Allah!
is on your hands, blood of RasoolAllah!
speak as your hearts with terror now are filled—
for what sin with such cruelty was I killed?

*Shaykh Mufid in Kitab al-Irshad, tr. IKA Howard, p. 379, refers to the fourth Shi’i Imam as Ali b. al-Hussain al-Akbar, and the Ali whose mother was Layla, is addressed as Ali b. al-Hussain al-Asghar. The infant who was martyred in Karbala is named Abdallah b. al-Hussain or Abdallah al-Radi (i.e., the suckling child). Thus, in historical sources, Ali al-Asghar does not refer to the infant son of Imam Hussain. However, I have chosen to use Ali al-Asghar in this poem to avoid confusion as it has become commonly known to refer to the infant as such, while acknowledging that the infant being referred to is, in fact, Abdallah al-Radi.