“My God, should I be unworthy of Your mercy, You are worthy of showing me generosity out of the grace of Your bounteousness!
“My God, I figure to myself as standing in front of You, my soul covered by the shade of my trust in You, and You say to me [treat me] what [as] is worthy of You and enfold me in Your pardon!
“My God, I have spent my entire life in the iniquity of heedlessness towards You, worn out my youth in the stupor of farness from You!”
“My God, how shall I despair of Your kindly care after my death, when You have never treated me except with gracious attention throughout the course of my life?!
What you heard were passages of the famous “Munajaat ash-Sha’baniyyah” or the whispered supplications to God Almighty in the month of Sha’ban, taught to us by the Commander of the Faithful and the Leader of the Pious, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), for striving towards the floodgates of mercy of the All-Forgiving Lord, with sincerity of intention and hearts full of repentance, without any feeling of despair or despondency. This wonderful “Munajaat” in its original flawlessly eloquent Arabic is recited in detail daily in the month of Sha’ban on Iranian Radio and TV channels for the benefit of millions at home and abroad. At mosques, it is a normal sight to see people of all ages, whether teenagers or the elderly, hymning this “Munajaat” in earnestness individually. Millions of others do it in the privacy of homes and reflect upon its eloquently dynamic contents as food for thought. Glory to the Lord Most High for granting us such Infallible Leaders whose expressions are passwords for opening the windows of wisdom, especially for our youth, as well as for those who had erred in whiling away their youth in the stupor of negligence.
The reason we emphasize on the word “Youth” is because of the significance of this day – the 11th of Sha’ban which is marked in the Islamic Republic of Iran as the “Day of the Virtuous Youths”. It is the day on which we celebrate the birthday of an Immortal Youth, who was the picture of perfection, both physical and spiritual. He was destined to remain a youth forever, because life for him did not progress beyond his youthful years. Yet during his brief stay in this transient world, this wondrous youth left such an indelible mark on life that till this day the young and the old draw inspiration from him and flock to his banner whenever his name is mentioned. He had surely recited the “Munajaat ash-Sha’baniyya” from his childhood years since this was a household affair for him and he was a direct grandson of the Commander of the Faithful.
Irrespective of whether he was born in 33 AH during the lifetime of Imam Ali (AS) or in 42 AH, that is, two years after the martyrdom of his grandfather, he was named “Ali”, and to be more precise carried the epithet “al-Akbar” along with his name, which means he might have been the elder son of Imam Husain (AS), the Martyr of Karbala. The most significant fact about “Ali al-Akbar” is that he was a carbon copy of his great-grandfather, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). This fact proves that the bestial Yazidi hordes were not Muslims despite their claim, or else they would not have dared to gang up against Imam Husain (AS), who while sending him to the battlefield, had remarked:
“O Allah, be Witness, now I am sending in Your way, the one who resembled Your Messenger the most, to the extent that whenever we desired to have a view of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we used to look at the face of this youth.”
Thus, Ali al-Akbar was in the prime of youth on the epic day of Ashura, that is, 10th Moharram 61 AH, in Karbala, where he chose to drink the elixir of martyrdom, as he marched into the battlefield in the state of acute thirst against numerically superior foes, by reciting the following verses:
“I am Ali ibn Husain ibn Ali; “By the House of Allah, we are the Prophet's nearest kin. “I will keep attacking you with my lance till you mow me down; “I will strike you with my sword that was bestowed on me by my father, “With the strokes of a Hashemite youth, “By Allah, the son of adultery shall not rule over us."
Today, on the 11th of Sha’ban we convey our heartiest felicitations to the Imam of the Age, Mahdi al-Qa’em (God hasten his reappearance to usher in the global government of peace and justice). Here we present a passage of the Ziyarat-an-Nahiyat-al-Muqaddasa for the Martyrs of Karbala, as narrated by the Imam of the Age that refers to the martyrdom of his great grand uncle, Ali al Akbar (AS):
Here is a poem in praise of Hazrat Ali Akbar (AS) composed by Iran’s English language poet Dr. Hassan Najafi:
Today is a festive day
Pleasures in the Prophet’s House sway.
In this youth see beauty’s blaze
Angels in awe as they gaze,
Shady walk in waving greens
Nodding nature with celestial scenes,
The lively cheer of beauty born
In this birth is the approach of Prophetic morn.
Hold your breath, and with sincerity survey
See how the Prophet’s resemblance is on display.
Till sinks the fabric of the world
Your name exists as a corn in the beak of a bird.
There are no limits though little your reign
Your empire is of tears and love – a lovely domain.
Your exuberant health of rosy hue
The Prophet’s reflection, it is in you.
You – Prophet Mohammad’s picture of youth
Our weary souls soothe.
You – the sunshine of every manly chest
Which, if with your love possest,
Your love in heart, years cannot cage
Throughout the slow consuming age,
You resembled closely the Prophet
Thrilled was he, who longed for the Prophet.
You, a flower plucked before its time,
And withered in its prime,
You represent the firm unaltered truth
And reflect mirror like the Prophet’s youth
Your eulogy never soothe a pensive ear
In your love never dries a nightly tear.
Enemies for dear life ran from the battlefield,
When you manly the sword did wield,
You, the grandson of the Son of Ka’ba, stand
Dauntless on Karbala’s sand,
In glittering arms and glory drest
High your stature as if with a ruby crest,
There the press, there the din
As the thundering strokes you begin.
Banking on the sea of blood on martyrs’ shore
Your sword echoes to the battle’s roar.
Where your glowing eye balls turn
Stampedes the enemy’s army as they flee to run,
Agony pants to breath
Enemy collapses obnoxiously beneath.
In your love so lost, cannot stir my feet
From far dipped in tears I greet.