Husayn ibn Ali is an important figure in Islam.

Several quotes pages attribute a quote about him to English novelist Charles Dickens:

If Hussain had fought to quench his worldly desires… then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.

Examples include:

Did Charles Dickens write this quote?

  • 5
    Google Books results only confirm that this quote was circulating in the Islamic world around 1980-1990. I think it is a fake quote but the original source is offline, as Wikiquote indicates.
    – Avery
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 18:51
  • 1
    Wikiquotes is pretty good at tracking down originals of quotes if they exist. If they can't find anything it's probably made up. Also the works and letters of Charles Dickens are well known and extensively studied. If a letter or something similar written by him existed, scholars would be eager to see it and analyse it. Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


the search is massively hampered by the name being variously rendered as 'Husein', 'Hussein', 'Hosain', 'Hosayn', 'Husayn', 'Husain', 'Hussain'... - sometimes in the same book (referring to the same person)

the earliest finds are

  • 1978 in the quarterly(?) 'the Light' by 'Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania' (Indian founded muslim mission)

  • 1975 'Elia & Islam in Ancient Scriptures' by Peermahomed Ebrahim Trust (Pakistan founded muslim enterprise)

  • 1973 'The Biography of Amir Mukhtar' by Ghulamali Ismail Naji (Peermahomed Ebrahim Trust)

the 1973 and 1975 books have an interesting peculiarity: just before the contested Dickens quote both have the (Gibbon-attributed) quote: "In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Husain (A.S.) will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader." (Though, in one book it's 'climate' and in the other 'eliminate' (an obvious misreading + typo of 'climate')) - this 'parallel' quote is true: found in Edward Gibbon's 1790 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

... perhaps someone can suss out where the Dickens one (1 century later than Gibbon) entered the quote-circus?


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