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The Tragedy of Karbala

A remembrance to defend the honor and dignity of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W and his family

What is Muharram

It is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Instead of joyous celebration, Muslims mark the beginning of the New Year by taking up the black attire of sorrow and participate in mourning gatherings in which the sacrifices of Imam Hussain and his companions are commemorated.

The grandson of the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W, was brutally massacred in Karbala alongside his family and friends on ‘Ashura’ 10th day of Muharram year 680 CE/61 AH.

What is Ashura

It is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month. It is also called Yaumu-l ‘Ashurah, or simply Ashura meaning, ‘the tenth day’. 

It is well-known because of historical significance and mourning for the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad S.A.W at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). It is a day of speeches, public processions, and great grief. Men and women chant and weep, mourning Imam Hussain A.S, his family, and his followers.

Where is Karbala

Karbala is a city in Iraq, where the battle of Karbala took place between the Good (Imam Hussain A.S) and the Evil (Yazid).

Every 10th of Muharram Millions of Muslims from all over the world visit Karbala for annual mourning rituals which makes it world’s biggest gathering. (last year recorded figure over 15 Million mourners)


What others say about Imam Hussain A.S

Prophet Mohammed (SAWW)

“Hasan (Imam Hussain’s elder brother) and Hussain are the leaders of the youth of Paradise”

“As a result of the assassination of Hussain such a warmth will be kindled in the hearts of the believers that shall not become cold till the Day of Resurrection.”

"Hussain is from Me, and I am from Hussain."

Mahatma Gandhi: (Father of the Nation - India)

I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed.
My faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain.
If India wants to be a successful country, it must follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain.
If I had an army like the 72 soldiers of Hussain, I would have won freedom for India in 24 hours.

Edward Gibbon (English historian and member of parliament)

"In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader."

[The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1911, volume 5, pages 391-2]

Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian and essayist)

“The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Hussain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Hussain, despite his minority, marvels me!”

Charles Dickens (English novelist)

“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.”

William Muir (Scottish orientalist)

“The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the Caliphate, but also of Mohammadan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and is appeared.” (Annals of the Early Caliphate, London, 1883, p.441-442)

Antoine Bara (Lebanese writer)

“No battle in the modern and past history of mankind has earned more sympathy and admiration as well as provided more lessons than the martyrdom of Hussain in the battle of Karbala.” (Hussain in Christian Ideology)

Highlights of the battle of Karbala

The events of Karbala reflect the collision of the good versus the evil, the virtuous versus the wicked, the collision of Imam Hussain (the head of virtue) versus Yazid (the head of impiety). Al-Hussain was a revolutionary person, a righteous man, the religious authority, the Imam of Muslim Ummah. As the representative of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Hussain's main concern was to safeguard and protect Islam and guide fellow Muslims. On the other hand, the staying power of the rulers (Mu'awiya and his son Yazid) depended solely on the might of the sword. They used brute force to rule over the Muslim empire even by all possible illicit means.  

Karbala was about standing in the face of oppression, regardless no matter the cost. Thus, in Karbala, Al-Hussain the 57 year old grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), sacrificed his totality and all he had, for one goal. This goal was to let the truth triumph over falsehood eventually, and he did that brilliantly. His goal was to foil the plan that Mu'awiya had expertly developed for his son, Yazid, which was to establish a permanent Banu Umayya rulership over the Muslim Ummah (even by sacrificing the Islamic principles), but doing it in the name of Islam. Brilliantly, Imam Hussain succeeded in foiling this plan and he exposed the disreputable nature of Banu Umayya though this was at the expense of his life. The tragedy continued when the capture & deveiling of women and children of the Household of Prophet (pbuh&hf) their being paraded as prisoners from town to town, and the speeches made by Holy Lady Zaynab (sa), the granddaughter of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf) who was one of the captives, eventually became a disgrace and dishonour for Umayyad Kingdom, the rulers of that time and hence such an abuse of the Household of Prophet (pbuh&hf) nullified the propaganda which the tyrant rulers had built up for years. The sacrifice of Imam Hussain (as) is commemorated every year and thus kept alive, as a token of love, respect, loyalty, commitment and so to derive inspiration from it.

Beating of the chest has long been a symbolic method of declaring grief, of mourning in Islam. In our times this method of mourning is most conspicuous amongst the Shia Muslims.

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