Thul-Fiqar: The Sword of Paradise

“Two things saved Islam, the wealth of Khadija, and the sword of Ali.”[1]

—Prophet Muhammad

by James V.

The sword was always part of the greatest moments in human history, and since ancient times it has influenced many myths and legends. The sword is a symbol of justice, bravery, and nobility, and it is by the sword that we fight against evil, aid the truth, kill falsehood, and advance justice. The sword is the most honorable gift that you can give to anyone.

In Arabic culture swords also hold a high status. It is considered to be a source of pride and a badge of honor for its bearer. With the sword, a man defends his religion, his land, his tribe, and his herd. Arabs are known to give their swords multiple names, titles, and attributes and sing poetry in its praise, and among the most famous of all Arabian swords is the sword of Ali, the Thul-Faqar, for which until this day, poetry is still being sung in its praise.

Thul-Faqar is a sword that belonged to Imam Ali, and it was given to him by Prophet Muhammad in one of the battles as a reward for his bravery, and as a religious symbol that represents succession and heirdom that will also be given to Ali from Muhammad. Imam Ali used the Thul-Faqar to defend Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith, and with it he also kept the jinns and devils at bay! Today the Thul-Faqar is worn by Muslims and lovers of Imam Ali as jewelry or inked on their bodies as tattoos as a token of faith and admiration. Replicas, posters, and decorations of the sword are often found in Muslim homes. Many Muslim children are named after this sword, along with cities, military ranks, medals, and weaponry. The Thul-Faqar sword was part of the flags of various Muslim empires and countries, and it was part of its insignia, emblems, and coat of arms, some of which still exists today. Muslim warriors of the past used to place a small icon of the Thul-Faqar on their swords along with a depiction of Imam Ali himself to remind them of Imam Ali’s bravery when facing the enemy[2], and this practice still holds strong to this day with Muslim soldiers still placing icons of the Thul-Faqar on their rifles. The Thul-Faqar sword is also found on amulets, talismans, and prayer books to seek protection and invite blessings. The Thul-Fiqar is ranked in the Top 3 Greatest Swords of All-Time by TopTenz.[3]

“There is no warrior like Ali, and there is no sword like Thul-Faqar.”[4]

—Angel Gabriel

History of the Thul-Faqar:

The Thul-Faqar was a sword created by God, and after creating it, God gave the sword to His Angels and Prophets. The first Prophet to take possession of the sword was Prophet Adam, and from Adam it was passed down to every Prophet that came after him until it reached the final Prophet, Prophet Muhammad, and he gave it to Imam Ali.

  • Qur’an: “And we have sent down the iron, within it lies great power.”[5]

  • In the Tafsir of this Verse it is said: “The iron that God sent down to earth was the Thul-Faqar, He sent it down with Adam.”[6]

  • Imam al-Sadiq said: “[God] sent down to him [Muhammad] from the heavens a sword [Thul-Faqar], and it was without a sheath.”[7]

Meaning the sword was exposed, it had no case or cover, perhaps it is to symbolize Jihad[8], although later on a sheath seems to have been created for it.[9]

  • Imam al-Baqir said: “God sent Muhammad with five swords, three of them were without a sheath…”[10]

  • Ibn Abbas said: “Written on it [the Thul-Faqar sword] was this statement: My Prophets will continue to fight with it, a Prophet after another, and Sideeq upon another Sideeq until Ameer al-Mu’minin [Ali] inherits it, and with it he he will defend the Ummi Prophet [Muhammad].”[11]

  • Prophet Muhammad said: “God gave me the Thul-Faqar and said to me: O’ Muhammad take it [the Thul-Faqar] and give it to the best of people on earth. I [Muhammad] said: Who is this person my Lord?, God said: He is my Caliph on earth, Ali Ibn Abi Talib.”[12]

Other narrations mention that the Thul-Faqar sword was created from iron that Imam Ali was ordered to bring from Yemen[13], and in another narration it is said that the Thul-Faqar was created miraculously by Prophet Muhammad using a branch of a palm tree.

  • Imam Ali said: “My sword broke during the battle of Uhud, so I went to the Messenger of God [Muhammad] and I said to him: ‘A man fights with his sword and my sword is broken’, so he [the Messenger of God] looked at an old and dry branch of a palm tree that was laying on the ground, he took it with his hand and shook it, and it became his sword the Thul-Faqar and he gave it to me…”[14]

Others have also said that the sword was a gift from the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, or that it was a gift given to Prophet Muhammad, or that it was taken by the Prophet from someone he killed, or that it was part of the spoils in one of battles that was acquired by Prophet Muhammad and he gave it to Imam Ali[15], but these sayings are not correct and I have only included them here for general knowledge. What is correct is that the Thul-Faqar sword was created by God and it was sent down to earth with Adam.

What does the name ‘Thul-Faqar’ mean?

The name ‘Thul-Faqar’ carries multiple meanings and interpretations, and it was described in various ways by the Imams as well. At times the sword was described through its literal and physical features, and other times it was given more of a spiritual or a mystical meaning. The sword was also described through the persona of Imam Ali himself, and the type of damage he caused upon others using the Thul-Faqar.

Thul-Faqar means the splitter, or the divider, or the differentiator, or the separator, or the slicer, or the slayer, or the depriver, or the halfer, or the partitioner, or the spacer, or the distinctor, or the parter, or the cleaver of the spine, or the spine splitter.

Some other meanings include, the spaced sword, or the separated sword, or the grooved sword, or the notched sword, or the split sword, or the sword that discerns between good and evil, or the sword with the vertebrae, or the paired sword, or the sword which slays the enemy into two parts, or the sword of two points, or the sword of the two halves, or the double sword, or the sword of the two blades.

Thul-Faqar consists of two words in Arabic, ‘Thu’ and ‘al-Faqar’. ‘Thu’ means ‘the possessor of’ and ‘al-Faqar’ is explained above, but if we were to choose one meaning for it as in ‘separation’ for example, then the Thul-Faqar will mean ‘that which possess a separation’ or ‘the sword that possess a separation’.

It can also be spelled or pronounced as Thul-Fiqar, or Thal-Faqar, or Thil-Faqar, with all variations may be used interchangeably.

  • Imam al-Sadiq was asked regarding the name ‘Thul-Faqar’ he said: “[The sword of Ali is named in this name] because when he [Ali] strikes someone with it [the Thul-Faqar] he [the one who is being struck] becomes parted from life in this world, and he will become parted from Heaven in the next world.”[16]

The description of the name also goes along with many of the titles and attributes of Imam Ali that indicates that he is the owner or the divider of two things. I will list a few here:

  • Qassim al-Jannah wal-Narr (The divider of Heaven and Hell), Thul-Qarnain (The one with two horns), Thul-Nurain (the father of the two lights, Hassan and Hussain), Al-Farouq (The one who separates the truth from falsehood), Abal-Hassanain (the father of the two Hassans), Abal-Sibtain (the father of the two grandsons of the Prophet), Abal-Rayhanatain (the father of the two flowers), Mufariq al-Ahzab (the divider of the Ahzab), Mawla al-Kawnain (The master of the two worlds), Imam al-Thaqalain (The Imam of humans and jinns), and Imam Ali is also the differentiator between the believers and the hypocrites per the Hadith of the Prophet.[17]

And what was shouted from the heavens is also a two sentence slogan: “There is no warrior like Ali. There is no sword like Thul-Faqar.”[18]

  • Imam Ali said: “Whomever I strike with the Thul-Faqar, I divide him into two pieces.”[19]

  • Imam Ali said: “…I migrated in the two emigrations, and witnessed the two allegiances. I am the master of Badr and Hunain, I am the fighter of the two swords, and the one who rode the two horses…”[20]

  • Imam Ali said: “God did not create me short, nor did he create me tall, rather he created me with perfect height. If a man is taller than me I strike him from his side and divide him into two halves, and if he is shorter than me I strike him from the top and I divide him into two halves.”[21]

  • Prophet Muhammad said: “The strike of Ali on the Day of Khandaq is greater than the entire worship of the Thaqalain (the two weighty things: humans and jinns).”[22]

  • Angel Gabriel said: “…when Ali struck [Marhab] with his Hashemite strike and recited Takbir, I was ordered [by God] to hold his sword [to prevent it from reaching the soil of earth] so that he would not split the earth with it [the Thul-Faqar]…”[23]

As you can see here there is a pattern and a constant theme of pairing or dividing associated with Imam Ali, and this abundance of text gave influence to the meaning of his sword.

What did the Thul-Faqar sword look like?

The Thul-Faqar is a bifurcated sword. It is divided, seperated, or spaced in the middle of its blade, resulting in the sword having two halves (two blades) and two tips, and this is how it has been depicted for most of history. It is also said that the two halves of the sword are connected by tiny lines in the middle of the sword and this gives the illusion of a vertebra which makes the sword look like a spine. In old times the Thul-Faqar sword was depicted with an exaggerated split to emphasize the separation within the sword, and in our modern times the Thul-Faqar sword is depicted with a simplified split, and both depictions are acceptable symbolism.

  • Imam al-Sadiq said: “The sword of Amir al-Mu’mineen [Ali] the Thul-Faqar was named with this name because in the middle of the sword there is a line[s] [or separation] on the entire length of the sword that resembled the vertebra of the spine.”[24]

What is understood from this narration is that there is a line that divides or separates the blade of the sword in the middle, in half resulting in the sword having two blades and two tips, and the vertebra is the ‘connectors’ that connect the split in the sword together, giving the illusion that the sword looks like a spine, and the human spine itself exists in the middle of the body. Below is a visualization of what it might have looked like:

  • Imam al-Sadiq was asked regarding the name ‘Thul-Faqar’ he said: “[The sword of Ali is named in this name] because when he [Ali] strikes someone with it [the Thul-Faqar] he [the one who is being struck] becomes parted from life in this world, and he will become parted from Heaven in the next world.”[25]

  • Narrated from Ibn Shahrashub: “The Rod of Musa had two tips, and the Thul-Faqar of Ali had two tips, and the ‘Ayn in the name of Ali (علي) (عـ) has two tips (referring to the letter ‘Ayn (عـ) in the Arabic alphabet which has two tips, which is equivalent to the letter (A) in English which also has two tips).”[26]

  • Imam al-Baqir said: “…the Rod of Musa had two tips...”[27]

This similar symbolism that exists between Prophet Musa and Imam Ali is very important because it carries a religious significance, and both the Rod of Musa and the Thul-Faqar of Ali hold the same status, and both are given similar, seemingly interchangeable powers. They carry similar qualities, and have similar descriptions, like the two tips that were mentioned, and that both the Rod and the Thul-Faqar speak, and that Imam Mahdi will have them both with him, along with other qualities and similarities that are too long to be mentioned here. You can read more about it in Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 13.

  • Allamah al-Majlesi in his commentary on the Hadith of Imam Ali where he mentioned fighting in two swords, he said: “Perhaps it is meant that he fought with the sword of Tanzil and the sword of Ta’weel, or that he fought with two swords together in some battles, or a sword followed by another sword, like in the Battle of Uhud when he was given the Thul-Faqar after his sword was broken, or he is referring to the Thul-Faqar itself [because since the Thul-Faqar has two tips, it is considered to be two swords in one] referring to what is popular that the Thul-Faqar had two tips.”[28]

  • Ibn Abbas said: “…[the Thul-Faqar] had two silver rings on it…” [29]

It has also been said that the two tips of the Thul-Faqar represent the two worlds, the seen world and the unseen world. In the seen world Imam Ali fights the humans, and in the unseen world he fights the jinns[30], and that when Imam Ali strikes someone, he only strikes him once, and splits him in into two halves. No man survives his strike, and everyone that Imam Ali kills with the Thul-Faqar goes to Hell.[31]

The Thul-Faqar used to become bent because of how hard Imam Ali used to strike the enemy with it, and he would straighten it back into its original form using his knee[32], and this happened repeatedly in the Battle of Siffin. The fighting was intense and Imam Ali in this battle killed more than 500 people by himself, but his sword would become bent over and over again, and this forced Imam Ali to pause his fighting for a short while to fix the sword and then return to fighting, but what is interesting is what Imam Ali said during this battle, indicating that the Thul-Faqar was indeed of two blades.

  • Imam Ali said after his sword, the Thul-Faqar became bent in the Battle of Siffin: “I seek forgiveness from God and from you [my companions and soliders] from this [the bend in the sword, that makes me pause my fighting to fix it], I wanted to weld it [together], but I have heard the Messenger of God [Muhammad] say: There is no sword like Thul-Faqar, and there is no warrior like Ali, [so I left it as it is].”[33]

Here Imam Ali wanted to weld the separation that existed in middle of the Thul-Faqar as an attempt to give it extra strength and prevent it from bending repeatedly, but he left it alone because in the Hadith it is stated that: “There is no sword like Thul-Faqar.” Meaning the Thul-Faqar must remain unique its design, and it must not resemble other swords that have one blade and one tip. This narration may also indicate that the Thul-Faqar is designed as a defensive weapon, and this attribute goes along with the mannerism of Imam Ali in wars where he has stated that he does not begin the fighting until the opponent begins it, and he never rides a horse in wars because he does not chase who runs away from the battlefield.[34]

The Thul-Faqar sword was coated or decorated with silver[35], its size was 7 spans in length (63 inches) and its width is 1 span (9 inches)[36], as for its weight, it was 7 Amnan (15.4 pounds).[37]

What is written on it?

Many things were written on the Thul-Faqar, from Qudsi Hadiths, to prayers, and to passages of wisdom. The hilt of the sword also had a hidden pocket in which secret knowledge was stored, and I will list a few here:

  • From Imam Ali, this prayer was written on the Thul-Faqar: “O’ God, You who knows every secret, You who built the skies with Your power, and with Your power you made earth a vast land, O’ You whose the sun and moon take their light from Your Light…”[38]

  • From Imam Ali, this was written on the Thul-Faqar: “Visit who abandoned you, and do good to those who did evil to you, and speak the truth, even against your own self.”[39]

  • From Imam al-Baqir, this was written on the hilt of the Thul-Faqar: “God hates three people: the one who kills other than his killer, the one who strikes other than his striker, and the one who gives shelter to a Muhdith, then none of his deeds will be accepted or follows other than his masters [the Ahl al-Bayt]...”[40]

  • From Imam al-Baqir, this also was written on the hilt of the Thul-Faqar: “In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful. O’ Allah, O’ Allah, O’ Allah, I ask you O’ King of Kings, O’ First One, O’ Old One, O’ He who will last forever, I ask You to protect me from those who want to harm me.”[41]

  • From Ibn Abbas, this was written on the Thul-Faqar: “My Prophets will continue to fight with it, a Prophet after another, and Sideeq upon another Sideeq until Ameer al-Mu’minin [Ali] inherits it, and with it he he will defend the Ummi Prophet [Muhammad].”[42]

The sword speaks:

By now you should know that the Thul-Faqar is a sword like no other sword. It is unique and has unique powers, and one of those unique powers it has is its ability to speak! The Thul-Faqar spoke many times with Imam Ali, and it will speak again with Imam Mahdi at the time of his reappearance.

  • Imam al-Sadiq said: “When Ali killed Amr Ibn Abd Wud, he gave his sword [Thul-Faqar] to [his son] Hassan and asked him to give it to his mother [Fatima] to wash it, then while Ali was with the Prophet [Hassan returned with the sword and gave it to Ali] and he [Ali] noticed a blood stain on the sword that was not removed, so he asked [Hassan] did your mother al-Zahra’ [Fatima] wash it? Hassan replies by saying ‘yes’ then Imam Ali said then what is this stain? The Prophet said, ask Thul-Faqar. Imam Ali said to the Thul-Faqar did the most pure one wash you from the blood of the impure? The Thul-Faqar said Yes but he is the most hated among the angels so god ordered me to soak his blood, and this is my share so every time to raise me and the angels see his blood they will send blessings upon you.[43]

  • Prophet Muhammad said: “O’ Ali with our Qa’im there will have three hundred and thirteen people the same number of the people of Badr, and during the time of his rising the sword [Thul-Faqar] will say to him: Rise O’ Wali of God, and use me to kill the enemies of God.”[44]

Where is the sword now?

Today the sword is with Imam Mahdi.[45]

Imam Mahdi and the Thul-Faqar:

One of the first things that Imam Mahdi will do is to reveal to the people his sword, the Thul-Faqae. It is said that the Imams prove their Imamah, identity, and legitimacy by possessing the Thul-Faqar.[46]

The Thul-Faqar will play a major role in all the battles and wars of Imam Mahdi, and he will be victorious in all of them. Those who hate Ali will be killed, and those who love Ali will live.

Thul-Faqar in the Raj’a and in the Afterlife:

The Thul-Faqar will return back to the scene with Imam Ali again in the period of Raj’a (Return/Second Coming). During this period all the Prophets and Imams will return back to earth, along with every evil being. Throughout the Raj’a some battles will take place and Imam Ali with his sword will take on the role of defending the Prophets of God from the evils of humans and jinns. It is stated that in the Raj’a Imam Ali, while holding his great sword, he will rule earth for thousands of years.

And in the Afterlife Imam Ali will be there again with the Thul-Faqar. If anyone did not submit to his Wilayah he will strike him with the Thul-Faqar preventing him from crossing the Sirat.

The hidden Thul-Faqar:

In our Batin belief it is known to us that Imam Ali is the first Adam, and he existed with his sword with every Prophet, defending them from the evils of jinns and devils, but this is a topic for another article.


Researching this topic gave me so much joy, and it made me more connected to Imam Ali and to my Thul-Faqar necklace, and I hope through this article Shias will learn more about this holy sword.

I would like to end this article by these words from our Lady, Fatima al-Zahra’:

  • “What is it about Abu al-Hassan [Ali] that they hate so much? By God, they hate the strength of his strike. they hate his strong steps in the path of God, they hate the calamities that follows his strike upon them, they hate the strength of his sword [Thul-Faqar], they hate his mastery in the Book of God, and they hate that he is like a tiger who does not hesitate in executing the commands of God.”[47]


1- Shajarat Tuba, Vol. 2, Pg. 233

2- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 41, Pg. 150

4- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 20, Pg. 105

5- Qur’an 57:25

6- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 57

7- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, Pg. 317

8- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, Pg. 326

9- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 40, Pg. 277

10- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 100, Pg. 16

11- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 57

12- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 67

13- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 57

14- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 20, Pg. 78

15- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 58

16- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 58

17- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 29, Pg. 644

18- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 21, Pg. 40

19- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 20, Pg. 78

20- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 39, Pg. 341

21- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 35, Pg. 54

22- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 39, Pg. 2

23- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 21, Pg. 40

24- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 65

25- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 58

26- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 39, Pg. 61

27- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 13, Pg. 45

28- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 39, Pg. 342

29- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 16, Pg. 125

30- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 63, Pg. 86

31- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 33, Pg. 500

32- Safinat al-Bihar, Vol. 4, Pg. 396

33- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 32, Pg. 529

34- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 59

35- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 66, Pg. 537

36- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 58

37- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 40, Pg. 277

38- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 83, Pg. 192

39- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 16, Pg. 99

40- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 74, Pg. 125

41- Mizan al-Hikmah, Vol. 2, Pg. 1332

42- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 57

43- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 20, Pg. 249

44- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 36, Pg. 410

45- Mir’at al-Iqoul, Vol. 26, Pg. 156

46- Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 25, Pg. 117

47-Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, Pg. 158