The Epic Tragedy of Karbala

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The tragedy of Karbala has no match in the annals of human history. Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of our Holy Prophet (SAW) was martyred along with seventy two of his followers including his family members in the land of Karbala. They sacrificed their pious and noble lives for the cause of Islam which continues to serve as a beacon light to all those aspiring for freedom, truth, justice, dignity, and honor. Imam Hussain (AS) services to Islam are countless and precious. He lived his life preserving the fundamentals of Islam in words and action.
Imam Husaain AS) was born on 4th AH in the Holy city of Medina. He was the son of Fatima AS), the holy daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Hazrat Ali (RA) (the lion of Allah) was his father. Imam Husaain (AS) was brought up under the able guidance of these Holy people.
He was loved by all particularly by Holy Prophet (SAW) in the company of noblest of people on this planet. Imam Hussain (AS) grew up to become a character of great faith, patience, politeness, and bravery. In short, Imam Hussain (AS) became a true reflection of the Holy Prophet’ s faith and action.
Hazrat Imam Tirmidhi (RA) reported that once the Holy Prophet (SAW) held Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain and said, ‘whoever loves me and these two, along with their mother and father; they will be with me on the Day of Judgment.
Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that once the Holy Prophet (SAW) lifted Imam Hussain (AS) up onto his shoulders. A man saw this and remarked to Imam Hussain (AS), a great person you have mounted upon a child. The Prophet (SAW) replied, and great is the one who is mounted on me.
After the death of Muawiya on the 15th of Rajab, 60 AH, his son Yazid became the leader. Yazid created serious problems to the Muslims of his jurisdiction. Yazid was cruel, tyrannical and oppressive.
The governor of Madina Walid Ibn Uqba received orders from Yazid who told him to take an oath of allegiance from Imam Hussain(AS). In his letter to the governor Yazid wrote, “Siege Hussain to get the oath of allegiance. Act so fiercely that they have no chance to do anything before giving the oath of allegiance”.
Imam Hussain (RA) straight way rejected his offer.
The people of Kufa , now in Iraq, too had rejected Yazid as their leader. They decided to call Imam Hussain (AS) to Kufa so that they would take an oath and accept Imam Hussain (AS) as their leader and guide. They sent several letters to Imam Hussain (AS) , insisting him to come to Kufa. Then, Imam Hussain (AS) decided to send Muslim Ibn Akeel to Kufa to assess the situation there. Muslim Ibn Akeel went there along with his two young sons. When the people of Kufa learnt about the arrival of Muslim Ibn Akeel, they came out in large numbers to greet him. It is written in the pages of history that near about twelve thousand took oath of allegiance to him upon his arrival only. In the coming days, more people came and took the oath. After assessing the situation and finding it in their favor, he wrote a letter to Imam Hussain (AS) to come along with all his family members.
The friends and well-wishers of Imam Hussain (AS) were well aware of the Kufa and its inhabitants. They knew about their reputation of being unfaithful, so they suggested Imam Hussain (AS) not to go there. But, the tragedy began soon when the letter of Muslim Ibn Akeel was received by Imam Hussain (AS). In this letter , Imam Hussain (AS) found favorable findings, so it was decided to leave for Kufa on the 8th of Zul-Hajj 60 AH.
But, at the same time, the situation in Kufa drastically changed and became worse. The Kufans broke the allegiance and deserted Muslim Ibn Akeel who was martyred in the same house where he had taken shelter and his body was thrown from the top of the house.
When Imam Hussain (AS) reached Iraq, the troops of Ibn Ziyad blocked his way and laid a siege around the caravan. Ibn Ziyad sent Hurr Ibn yazid to Imam Hussain along with one thousand troops to meet Imam Hussain (AS) to persuade him to surrender and accept Yazid as his leader. After an exchange of words between the two, Imam Hussain (AS) said to Y’azids troops, “I have come because you wrote letters inviting me to come and unite for the cause of justice and truth. But, now if you have changed your mind and you dislike my presence here, I am ready to go back”. But Imam Hussain (AS) continued his journey and reached the fateful plain of Karbala.
Imam Hussain (AS) camped on the soil of Karbala on the 2nd of Muharam 61 AH along with relatives, friends, nears and dears. From the 2nd to the seventh of Muharram, the troops were increased to surround Imam Hussain (AS) and his followers on the orders of Ibn Ziyad. These troops demand an allegiance from Imam Hussain (AS). On the seventh of Muharram, the army of Yazid cut off water supplies to Imam Hussain(AS). Yazid deployed his troops around the river to guard it and to prevent Imam Hussain (AS) from taking water. Imam Hussain (RA) and his followers were without food and water, in the unbearable and open fields of Karbala.
On the fateful day of 10th of Muharram, Ibn Saad the commander of Yazid’s army, insisted Imam Hussain (AS) to come out in the battle field and decide the matter by sword.
On the 10th of Muharram till midday, most of Imam Hussain’s(AS) followers were martyred. His own son Ali Akbar was martyred by the cruel forces of Yazid. Even the infant Ali Asghar was not spared!
Despite all these hardships on the battle field of Karbala , Imam Hussain(AS) did not forget his duties towards Almighty Allah. He led the prayers while the fighting continued.
Imam Hussain (AS) was left alone as all his associates were martyred one by one. Dead bodies of his associates lay scattered all over on the battle field of Karbala. One last time Imam Hussain (AS) embraced his son Zain al Abidin, and gave instructions to his family members and awarded his last and final goodbye to his sister Zainab, and his seven year old daughter Sakina.
Imam Hussain (AS) came out and drove towards the battle field of karbala. After a daring attack by our beloved Imam, he (AS) was hit by the arrows and swords of the cruel forces of Yazid.
Imam Hussain (AS) fought bravely and with great courage. At last , a blow struck his left hand. He (AS) fell on the ground. Sinan Ibn Sharik (May Allah’s curse on him) attacked Imam Hussain (AS) and stabbed him. Imam Hussain (AS) (the sovereign of martyrs) got thirty three stab wounds and thirty four blows. He was martyred along with his seventy two followers in which sixteen were his relatives.
The message of Karbala is that Muslims should always be obedient to Almighty Allah and fight the forces of occupation, rely on quality instead of quantity and always side with the truth. May Allah Almighty guide us all and shower his blessings upon us.

The author is a PhD Research Scholar. He can be reached at: