What is Karbala?
The Battle of Karbala ( battle of perseverance ) took place on October 10, 680 (10th Muharram). In the Battle of Karbala Aly-Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), and son of Hazrat Ali led a small army that fought against the Ummayad army sent by Yazid I and was defeated and massacred by Ummayad’s. After this battle 10th Muharram became the day of mourning for the Muslims.
Following in the footsteps of His Grandfather (Holy Prophet), Imam Hussain on this day 14 centuries ago took the action in which He raised the voice for the rights of everyone and confronted the Ummayad. Many revisionists say that Karbala was the struggle for the power, but Imam Hussein himself clarified that, in a sermon at Mina, He said, ‘O GOD’ you know everything, and you know that whatever we did was to protect the rights and values of the people not for the power struggle. It was a political struggle to get the deserving rights of the Muslims and every oppressed person.
Karbala was, in fact, a war for these ideals, a stand for the oppressed and vulnerable against the arrogant and pretentious. Scholars of repute have interpreted the battle’s events and their devastating repercussions. However, after the tragedy that befell his family on Ashura, one major witness of Karbala, Imam Ali ibn al-Husain Zain al-Abidin, Imam Husain’s son, who was unable to participate in the fight due to his indisposition, has explained the problem of rights in a very lucid and succinct manner.
The Karbala massacre is regarded as one of the darkest and most tragic days in Islamic history. Hussein was slain along with his entire family, including women and children, on the tenth day of the sacred Islamic month of Muharram in the year 61 A.H., almost 50 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
10th Muharram (Battle of Karbala)
On that day, a huge section of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) family and descendants were wiped out.
10th Muharram is the day that is not just a tragic day for Shiites, but it is a tragic day for all Muslims. This day is also the day of unity as all the Muslims of every sect mourn on this day and remember the pain of this day. All Muslims criticize Yazid and his henchmen’s acts and recite poetry in memory of Hussein and his companions.
Karbala taught us how to fight for our rights with tenacity and pay any price necessary to defeat evil. Imam Husain’s enormous sacrifice is unparalleled in history.
The idea of Karbala is that the unjust ( Zalim ) is not only one who commits crimes, but also one who stands by and watches them happen.”
Tragedy of Karbala
Imam Hussein and his followers, after leaving the region Hejaz made their way northwards by foot, which was a hundred miles across the Arabian Desert, and head to the city of Kufa in southern Iraq. Imam Hussein, there was to meet the armies who had made allegiance with them to take on the Ummayads.
After Hazrat Ali (son-in-law of Holy Prophet) was assassinated Muawiya took the control of the caliphate. Upon this, the followers of Hazrat Ali pledged their allegiance to Imam Hussein. However, to unite the caliph, who has been a victim of blood feuds fueled by sectarianism, Hassan ceded power to his rival Mu’awiyah on the condition that he did not designate his son as his successor.
This promise made by Muawiya was broken. He appointed his son Yazid as the new leader of Damascus. This angered the people of the Kufa, which was the stronghold of Hazrat Ali. People of Kufa on this treachery asked Imam Hussein to lead them to get their rights back.
Oppression continued, they further executed the two companions of Hazrat Ali, Muslim bin Akil, and Hani bin Urwa. At the time, the famous Islamic scholar Abdullah bin Abbas advised Hussein not to respond to his calls for rebellion. A famous poet also said: “Do not go to Kufa, their hearts are with you, but their swords are with the Umayyad children.”
Imam Hussein was so furious about the continued oppression and undermining of the rights, he refused to listen to the advice and headed towards Kufa along with his followers. Before arriving at the destination, a group that had pledged allegiance to Imam Hussein had abandoned them and joined the Ummayads army. During the battle, all Hussein’s guards were slaughtered until Hussein was completely defenseless.
At that time, Omar bin Saad ordered a march on Hussein. Hussein was hit in the head by a sword and then shot in the throat by an arrow. The fatal blow was caused by an Umayyad soldier named Shamir, who also fought alongside Yazid’s father Muawiyah against Hussein’s father Ali in the Battle of Safin. 72 members of the Hussein family and 88 Kufa soldiers died with him.
Karbala delivered a message of peace to us.
Imam Husain gave Sharia, or the system of law, a new lease on life after it was handed down to him by his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Holy Prophet taught his disciples how to withstand adversity, agony, and suffering while remaining victorious (PBUH). His Household (Ahl-i-Bayt) exemplified everything he had wished for all of his followers.
The purpose of Imam Husain’s sacrifice was to uphold the supremacy of Islam. Husainiyyat aimed to bring Muslims together rather than divide them.
Hussein’s body was buried in Kerbela by his allies, and the Abbasid ruler Mutawakkil built a shrine over his grave. The Buweyhids, the Seljuk sultan Melikshah, the Ilkhanid leader Ghazan Muhammad, and the Ottoman emperor Murad III all rebuilt the shrine at various times.
Though centuries had passed since the tragedy of Karbala took place still the bravery Imam Hussein showed while the journey to Karbala and the sacrifices made by them in this battle has earned the Imam a life that has been recognized by the globe throughout the ages.
For everyone who believes in the just order in this world, Imam Hussein’s courage and sacrifices, and tragedy of the Karbala is the point of unity for all such people.