The horse of Imam Husayn

source:, courtesy of Abbas Beheshti

In the context of Muslim non-human sensibility, the horse of Husayn*, named Zuljanah, who was purchased and raised by the prophet of Islam Muhammad himself, has gained the status of a saint. She is often commemorated alongside Husayn to the level of idolatry every year during the Muharam (first month of the Islamic lunar calendar) in many Shia-majority countries.


The horse was the one who gave the message (of Husayn’s death) to his family members. In the typical enactment of Zuljanah, in the yearly theatrical ritual of Tazia, her body is often pierced by numerous arrows from all sides, while enveloped and touched by a group of women on their knees. The weeping women let their body grow dirty, sorrowfully embodying the dust and dirt. The horse-hero who suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous tyrants, becomes a force of intrigue and contact. Unlike the body of Imam that is untouchable, the horse is something that can be touched.



Last modified: November 22, 2023