The Story of the Martyrdom of Shahid Thani by a Witness

The Story of the Martyrdom of Shahid Thani by a Witness, Qutb al-Din Muhammad Nahrawali (917-990 AH)

Qutb al-Din Nahrawali1 is one of the notable historians of the tenth century hijri, several of whose historical and literary works have survived. His book al-I’lam bi-A’lam Bayt Allah al-Haram is one of his significant historical works about Makkah. His literary work includes al-Tamthil wa al-Muhadara, which has been published, and another, al-Fawa’id al-Saniyyah, which is a travelogue with extensive literary and historical information. Al-Fawa’id al-Saniyyah, sometimes called Nahrawali’s memoir, was published in 2022 by the German Institute in Beirut and contains a report about the event of the assassination of Shahid Thani on the 8th of Sha’ban in the year 965 AH by order of the Ottoman Prime Minister [Rustam Pasha]. I2 tried to translate it to the extent I could understand.

Nahrawali writes:

On the eighth of Sha’ban [965 AH, coinciding with 25th May 1558], the Prime Minister ordered the assassination of Shaykh Zayn al-Din Jabal Amili. He was brought to the court, and they asked him nothing; they ordered him to be taken for execution and there, his head was severed, and both his legs were cut off with the sword. While his head was being severed, he was reciting the Shahada.

His story was that during the days of Hasan Beg Efendi [the judge] of Damascus, he was accused of Rafdh. He was arrested and brought before Hasan Beg Efendi. Zayn al-Din said: I am Shafi’i. They debated with him academically, and they found him learned and proficient. He also used “May Allah be pleased with them” for the companions and spoke of the virtues of them and the two Shaykhs. Efendi favoured him and set him free. When he left, someone told Efendi: This person is one of the great scholars of the Rafidha and a jurist of their sect, and he has several books on the Rafidi sect. Efendi called for him again. This time Zayn al-Din went into hiding and did not appear. This remained as a grudge in the heart of Hasan Beg, the judge of Damascus, and he was upset about having set him free. He was dismissed from the judgeship of Damascus and then became the judge of Makkah.

It was precisely when Shaykh Zayn al-Din had also settled in Makkah. Efendi, learning of his presence in Makkah, ordered his arrest. They arrested and imprisoned him. Many people tried to secure his freedom and gave money. The judge took the money and asked, “Whose money is this?” They said, “It’s from Khwaja Muhammad Makki.” He summoned him and questioned him, but he denied it. The money was lost, and the Shaykh was not freed. Hasan Beg sent him bound with Hussein Beg, the steward of Jeddah, to the city [Istanbul] and instructed him to hand him over to the Prime Minister. He delivered him to the minister, and as said, they killed him. Zayn al-Din was a man who outwardly was the epitome of integrity, and God knows his inner truth. And he had complete virtue, good neighborliness, and pleasant conversation. May God forgive him and pardon his sins. The sword wipes away sins. (al-Fawa’id al-Saniyyah, pp. 484-485)


  1. From Empires Between Islam and Christianity, 1500-1800 by Sanjay Subrahmanyam, pg. 331:

    The Hanafi jurist Qutb al-Din Muhammad Nahrawali (1511-82) hailed from a great medieval town in Gujarat (Anhilwada-Patan or Nahrawal), and was one of a fair number of figures whose intervention helped cement relations between Gujarat and the Muslim holy cities in the century of the Mughal conquest of South Asia. Richard Blacbkburn has written of Nahrawali: “Indian by birth, Meccan by adoption, Arab in culture, and Ottoman in political adherence, Shaykh or, as the Ottomans referred to him, Mevla Qutb al-Din al-Makki was recognized among later writers for his depth and breadth of learning and for his skills in Arabic, particularly in poetry and epistolary composition.”

  2. This post is a translation of a post written by Shaykh Rasul Jafariyan. Source.