Swedish scholar Torsten Hylén’s studies on Ashura tragedy published in Persian 

July 25, 2022 - 19:9

TEHRAN – Swedish scholar Torsten Hylén’s book “Dating Versions of the Karbala Story” about the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of the Shia, on Ashura, has been published in Persian.

Published by Kargadan in Tehran, the book has been translated by Ehsan Musavi Khalkhali.

Despite its importance for the Shia and other Muslims, the story of the death of Imam Hussein (AS) at Karbala in 680 is clearly under-researched. 

So, for example, except for Borrut (2015) hardly any of the previous studies made have compared different versions of the story and attempted to set a relative date to them. 

Such a study is necessary in order to map the development of the Karbala story and the image of the Imam in the emergence of Shia ideology. 

“In this paper, I will discuss the relative date of two important versions of the Karbala story related by Tabari: one, relatively short and lacking in detail, is ascribed to Imam al-Baqir (d. 114/732); the other, much longer and more detailed, is compiled by Abu Mikhnaf (d. 157/774),” Hylén wrote in an introduction to the book. 

“Studies in other fields, such as ‘historical Jesus-studies,’ have shown that brevity and lack of details is not a certain criterion for the old age of a version of a story,” he added.

“In order to ascertain the relative age of two versions, detailed studies have to be made and conclusions drawn from case to case,” he noted. 

“By comparing three passages in the two versions of the Karbala story: [Imam] Hussein’s encounter with al-Hurr; [Imam] Hussein’s attempt to negotiate with the enemy; and the killing of [Imam] Hussein’s baby boy, I hope to demonstrate that the version ascribed to [Imam] Al-Baqir [AS] is indeed the older of the two, although its authorship cannot be established with certainty,” Hylén explained.

He also shares some thoughts about the historicity of the events described in the three passages analyzed.

Photo: Front cover of the Persian edition of Torsten Hylén’s book “Dating Versions of the Karbala Story”.


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