Maulana Ali Akbar, the eighteen year old son of Imam Husain SA was now the commander of his army in Karbala. His uncle, the great warrior Maulana Abbas b. Maulana Ali AS had just been martyred. And now, Ali Akbar had to lead the charge. But how many were there to lead? The small army of 72 had fought valiantly against the enemy hordes. Now no one remained.
All the As’haab and Ahle Bait AS had laid down their lives for Imam Husain AS. And, now it was Maulana Ali Akbar’s AS turn. This was the fateful year, his eighteenth year that was to be perilous for him. Oh what peril lay ahead of him! How would he ask Imam Husain AS to grant him permission to enter the battlefield of Karbala? How would he ask a father to let his son face certain death while he looked on? How would he burden his aging shoulders with one more death?
His uncle was no more. His brothers Maulana Qasim and Maulana Abdullah, the sons of Imam Hasan AS were also gone. His aunt Maulatona Zainab AS had made sure that her sons Aun and Mohammed fought for Imam Husain AS and attained martyrdom. And he was still here. Ali Akbar could not endure it anymore. He longed for martyrdom.
Imam Husain AS looked at the young face of his son as he pondered the inescapable decision. He asked him to reconsider. But in his heart he knew that there was no turning back now. Imam Husain AS tried to stall, so that he could look at his son for a little bit longer. He tried to reason a little more so that he could see the reflection of Prophet Mohammed SA in Maulana Ali Akbar AS one last time. He tried to delay the inevitable just so he could hug his beloved son once more before he fell in the battlefield.
“You bear the likeness of my grandfather, Prophet Mohammed SA; you are the grandson of Maulana Ali SA, named after him! How can I let you go?”
“By the wasila of Prophet Mohammed SA and my grandfather Maulana Ali SA, I ask for your permission” Maulana Ali Akbar beseeched his revered father.
Tears rolled down Imam’s cheeks as he granted him permission. As Maulana Ali Akbar AS left the khaimah, it seemed as if it was only yesterday when they had reached Karbala and how Ali Akbar had setup the khaimah. How Imam Husain SA had instructed his son to accommodate his mother, Maulatona Shehrebanu AS and his aunt, Maulatona Zainab AS with the respect and honor befitting their stature. And now, as Maulana Ali Akbar AS left the khaimah, Imam Husain’s SA heart was heavy with grief.
Maulana Ali Akbar AS entered the battlefield like a fearsome lion. The enemy launched a cunning attack. They offered him peace as his mother was distantly related to their leader. They urged him to abandon the fight and join them and save himself.
Without a morsel of food or a drop of water in three days, under the blazing sun of Karbala and standing upon the scorched and unrelenting desert, against thousands of enemies, Maulana Ali Akbar AS faced certain death. But he was the son of Imam Husain AS. The one, who had sacrificed all that he had but did not bow down to injustice. The one, who had endured three days of thirst and hunger but did not waver from his quest to uphold the tenets of Islam. The one, who had carried 72 shohada on his shoulders but never faltered from the path of righteousness.
Maulana Ali Akbar roared back at the enemy and rejected their offer of peace. He charged at them and broke through their defenses slaying so many, that fear pervaded the enemy camp. The grandson of Ali was displaying his grandfather’s valor and courage in the battlefield.
Unable to face the assault of Ali Akbar’s sword, an enemy threw a spear at him from afar. The spear pierced his heart and he fell to the ground.
Imam Husain AS heard Maulana Ali Akbar AS call to him. Without a second thought the grief-stricken father ran to the aid of his dying son. He had rushed towards his fallen companions, his family members, even his brother, but this was his son! Imam Husain stumbled through the battlefield as he tried to find him. His face was drenched in tears when he found him lying on the scorching sand, his heart pierced by a spear.
He cradled Maulana Ali Akbar’s head in his lap as he tried to remove the spear. As Imam Husain SA grieved his dying son, he asked him a question that would forever enlighten the paths of the believers.
“O son! What do you see?” he asked.
Maulana Ali Akbar answered, “I can see Prophet Mohammed SA, grandfather Ali AS, grandmother Fatema AS and uncle Hasan AS. They have come to receive me. And you, O revered father are here right beside me!”
“Tell them that Husain will soon be with them.” Imam replied as his son drew his final breath in his arms.
Imam Husain SA carried Maulana Ali Akbar AS on his shoulders and laid him with the other martyrs of Karbala. He returned to his khaimah, heartbroken by the loss of his young son. But, his resolve was still strong. The final battle remained.
Maulatona Zainab AS came to Imam Husain SA with Maulana Ali Asger AS in her arms.