is the first month of the Islamic calendar, when Shi'a Muslims
commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn, the grandson of the
Prophet Mohammad and spiritual leader of the Shi'a
martyrdom is a sad day for all Muslims especially the
Shi'a, who mourn the massacre of their "Prince of
Martyrs" and his family in Karbala in 61AH/680CE.
Husayn, who held the title of Imam, meaning spiritual
leader of Islam, refused to swear allegiance to Yazid,
the second Umayyad Caliph. He tried to travel from
Medina to Kufa but was surrounded by forces loyal to
Yazid in the desert at a place now known as Karbala.
Husayn's followers were greatly outnumbered and dying of
thirst, indeed his brother 'Abbas was killed trying to
bring water back to the camp. On the 10th day of
Muharram, Husayn's followers were massacred and their
leader beheaded after declaring, "death with
dignity is better than life with humiliation".
The commemoration of this brutal massacre begins on the
first day of Muharram and continues for 40 days. During
the first 10 days of Muharram millions of Shi'a (and
Sunni) Muslims remember the massacre at Karbala and
strive to feel some of Husayn's pain.
10th day of Muharram is known as 'Ahsura' which recalls
the day of the massacre in Karbala, a town in modern day
Iraq which is second only to Mecca and Najaf as a
spiritual beacon to the Shi'a.
Just 100km south of Baghdad, Karbala houses the shrine
of Husayn and his brother Al-Abbas. For centuries Shi'a
pilgrims flocked here during Muharram, a practice which
was severely limited under the regime of Saddam Hussein.
This year for the first time in nearly 30 years Shi'a
can openly commemorate Muharram in the streets of
Karbala without fear of repercussions. For many pilgrims
this will be their first taste of religious freedom in
Recite the Begining
of the Month Salaat
Recite the following
Dua on the water to be used to take a bath for cure/protection
Subh'anallahi maal-al mizaan Subh'anallahi muntahal
h'ilm Subh'anallahi mublaghar riz'aa Subhanallahi zinatal a'rsh
Glory be to Allah the Supreme balance ,Glory be to Allah the
Ultimate in gentleness, Glory be to Allah the Goal of
devotedness, Glory be to Allah the splendour of the Arsh
On the First of the
Month Recite a 2 Rakat Salaat with Al hamd & 11 times
Ikhlass in each Rakat & recite the following Dua:-
Allah, Thou art the eternal God, this is the beginning
of another new year; I, therefore, request Thee, in
this hour, to keep off Satan (Shaytan), to give me
control over my "self" inclined to sin and
deviation, so that it brings me near Thee, O
Compassionate! O the Owner of majesty and kindness! O
Supporter of him who has no supporter! O Provider of
him who has no provision! O He who watches over him
who has no protection! O He who comes to help him who
has no hope of help! O Reliance for him who has no one
to lean upon! O Treasure of him who has nothing in the
purse! O He who knows well how to put to test and
trial! O the Ultimate Hope! O the Strength of the
weak! O the Rescuer of the drowning! O He who saves
from destruction! O He who bestows bounties! O He who
shows courtesy and treats with benevolence! O he who
treats with kindness and generosity! O He who does
favours! Thou art he before whom prostrate in
adoration the blackness of the night and the
brightness of the day, the moonlight of the moon, the
sunlight of the sun, the ripple of the water, the
trunks of the trees! O Allah, There is no associate
with Thee! O Allah make us generous, good and
high-minded, more than that which they can imagine or
speculate, cover and escort us with that which they
know not, and do not (even) associate us with that
which they say. Sufficient is Allah (for me), there is
no god save He, on Him I rely, and He is the Lord of
the Great Arsh. We believe that all is from our Lord,
and do not say (this) save those who have sincere
hearts and intelligent minds. Our Lord! Cause not our
hearts to stray after Thou has guided us, and bestow
upon us mercy from Thy Presence. Verily Thou art the
antal ilaahul qadeem wa haad'ihi sanatun
jadeedatun fa-as-aluka feehal i's'mata minash
shayt'aan wal quwwata a'laa haad'ihin nafsil
ammaarati bis sooo - i wal ishtighaal bimaa
yuqarribunee ilayka yaa kareem yaa d'al
jalaali wal ikraam yaa i'maada man laa i'maada
lahoo yaa d'akheerata man laa d'akheerata
lahoo yaa h'irza man laa h'irza lahoo Yaa
ghiyaatha man laa ghiyaatha lahoo yaa sanada
man laa sanada lahoo yaa kanza man laa kanza
lahoo yaa h'asanal balaaa-i yaa a'z'eemar
rajaaa-i yaa i'zzaz"z"u-a'faaa-i yaa
munqid'al gharqaa yaa munjiyal halkaa yaa
mun-i'mu yaa mujmilu yaa mufz"ilu yaa
muh'sinu antallad'ee sajada laka sawaadul
layliwa noorun nahaar wa z"aw-ul qamar wa
shu-a'a-u'sh shams wa dawiyyul maaa-i wa
h'afeefush shajar yaa allaahu laa shareeka
laka allaahummaj-a'lnaa khayran mimmaa
yaz'unnoon Waghfirlanaa ma'a laa yaa'-lamoon
wa laa tu-aakhid'naa bimaa yaqooloon
h'asbiyallaahu laa ilaaha illaa huw a'layhi
tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbul a'rshil a'z'eem
aamannaa bihee kullun min i'ndi rabbinaa wa
maa yad'd'akkaru illaa ulul albaab rabbanaa
laa tuzigh quloobanaa baa'-da id' hadaytanaa
wa hab lanaa mil ladunka rah'mah innaka antal
Duaa No. 2
is not a moving creature in the earth but the sustenance
thereof depends on Allah. He knows its habitation and
its repository. All is in the clear (manifest) Book. If
Allah touch you with affliction, there is none that can
relieve therefrom save He; and if He desires good for
your, there is none who can repel His favour. He
satiates whom He wills of His bondmen. He is the
Forgiving, the Merciful. Allah will guarantee, after
hardship, ease. That which Allah wills (will come to
pass)! There is no power save in Allah! Allah is
sufficent for us! Most Excellent is He in whom we trust!
I confide my cause unto Allah. Verily Allah is Seer of
(His) servants. There is no god save Thee. Be Thou
glorified. Verily I have been a wrongdoer. My Lord!
Whatever good Thou sends down for me, I am needy, My
Lord! Leave me not alone (Childless), though Thou art
the Best of inheritors.
maa mindaabbatin' filarz"i Illaa a'lallaahi
rizquhaa wa yaa'-lamu mustaqarrahaa wa
mustawda-a'haa: Kullun fee kitaabim mubeen Wa
in'y Yamsas-kallaahu bi-z"urrin falaa
kaashifa lahooo illaa huw: wa in'yyuridka bi-khayrin'falaa
raaadda li-faz"lih: yus'eebu bihee man'y
yashaaa-u min i'baadih: wa huwal ghafoorur
rah'eem Sayaj-a'lullaahu baa'-da u'srin'y yusraa
maa shaaa-allaah laa quwwata illaa billaah
h'asbunallaahu wa nia'-mal wakeel wa
ufawwiz"u amree ilallaah: innallaaha
bas'eerum bil i'baad laaa ilaaha illaaa anta
subh'aanaka innee kun'tu minaz'z'aalimeen rabbi
innee limaa anzaltal ilayya min khayrin' faqeer
rabbi laa tad'arnee fardan'wwa an'ta khayrul
Perform a bath, go under the
sky, pray 2 Rak-a't Namaaz, like Fajr Namaaz, and recite the
following "Ziyaarat" of Imam Husayn (A.S.), after
the Salaam, facing Karbala:
[Imam Muhammad bin Ali Al Baaqir (A.S.) told Alqama ibn
Muhammad to recite this dua'a on the day of Ashooraa
and whoso recites this Ziyaarat enjoys the status of the
Martyrs of Karbala, and gets the recompense like those who
go to Karbala to perform Imam Husayn's Ziyaarat]
Peace be upon you, O Aba Abdullah! Peace be upon you, O son of
the Messenger of God!
peace be upon you, O son of the commander of the faithful, the
forebearer of the successors!
Peace be upon you, O son of Faatimah, the choicest among the
women of the worlds!
Peace be upon you, O the select, surpassing, chosen in
preference over all good of God, and son of God's (such) good.
Peace be upon you, who was martyred while fighting heroically
in the cause of God, the son of God's fearless warrior, you
were isolated and had been attacked with a vengeance!
Peace be upon you and on those souls who had gathered in your
camp, and strided along with you, in your journey.
I pray and invoke God to keep all of you tranquil and restful,
forever; as long as I am alive, this is my prayer, and till
night and day follow each other.
O Abaa Abdullah! Peace and blessings of God be upon you,
unbearable is the sorrow, nerve-racking is the agony, you put
up with, for us and for all the (true) Muslims, crimes
committed against you also shocked and unnerved the dwellers
of the heavens, one and all.
May God curse the people who laid the basis and set up the
groundwork, to wander astray and turn aside from not only you
and your family but to take liberties and bear hard upon you.
May God curse the people who tried to obscure and deny your
office and status, wilfully neglected your rank and class God
had made known in clear terms.
May God curse the people who killed you. May God condemn and
damn the abettors who instigated and had a part in your
I turn to you and God, away from them, their henchmen, their
followers and their friends, O Abaa Abdullah, I pray and
invoke God to send blessings upon you. I make peace with those
who make their peace with you, I make war on those who go to
against you, til the Day of Judgement.
May God curse the family of Ziyaad and the family of Marwaan;
may God curse the tribe of Umiyyah, one and all, altogether;
may God curse ibn Marjaanah; may God curse Umar bin Saad; may
God curse Shimr; may God the people who celebrate, enjoy, sing
and dance on the day of your martyrdom.
I, my father and mother are at your disposal. I pray and
invoke God to send blessings upon you; profound is my sorrow
for you. I ask God, who honoured you above others, to be
generous towards me on account of you, and give me the
opportunity to be with the victorious Imam, the descendant of
Muhammad (Godís peace and blessing be upon him and his
family) at the time of the final and decisive battle war
against God's enemies.
O God make me attend to Thy cause, sincerely, in every respect
following in Husayn's footsteps, in this world and the
O Abaa Abdullah, I pray and invoke God to send blessings upon
you. I come nearer and seek greater intimacy with God, with
His Messenger, with the Commander of the faithful, with
Faatimah, with Hasan and with you, with the help of your love
and patronage, cutting off every connection with those who
took up arms against you and killed you.
I sever all links with those who, in the beginning, took the
first steps to take liberties with and bear hard upon you, I
take refuge with God and His Messenger (blessings of God be
upon him and on his children), free from the guilt of
associating with those who laid the foundation for (your
suffering), devised and carried out their corrupt plan of
action, boldly gave currency to reign of terror and cruelty to
oppress you and your friends and followers; I detach myself
from them and present myself to God and to you, I (first) seek
greater intimacy with God and then with you to win your love
and patronage, and to make friends with your friends, cut off
all links with your enemies, and with those who planted the
seeds of hostility against you, and reject and discard their
associates, their followers and their friends.
O Abaa Abdullah, I make peace with those who made peace with
you, I search out and confront those who waged war against
you, I make friends with those who stood by you, I strive
against those who came in conflict with you, therefore, I make
a request to God to acquaint (me) with the awareness that
perceives you and your friends, to set me free from the
corrupting influence of your enemies, to make me keep company
with you in this world and in the Hereafter, stand firm beside
you and follow your footsteps closely in this world and in the
I beseech Him that He helps me to reach your highly praised
station, given to you by God, (to meet you), that He provides
me the opportunity to fight for justice and fair play along
with and under the leadership of the rightly guided guide
(from your progeny) who surely will come and speak the truth.
I beseech God in the name of your right and the purpose He
assigned to you, that He verwhelms me with grief in memory of
your sorrows, more than the personal grief that torments
anyone who is in great agony, sorrows which have no parallel
and overshadow all calamities that took place in the history
of Islam, or for that matter, throughout the whole universe.
O my God, in my on the spot situation, treat me like him (or
her) who obtains from Thee (Thy) blessings, mercy and
forgiveness. O my God, bring me to life again, after death, in
the place Muhammad and his "Aal" (children) are
dwelling, and make me depart from this world like Muhammad and
his "Aal" (children) had left.
O my God this day is a day of rejoicing for the "Bani
Umayyah", the herd of hardened criminals, the eternally
damned and accursed group, a fact that had been made public by
Thee and by Thy Prophet (blessings of God be on him and on his
children), who, in every place and at all occasions, drew
attention of people to this truism.
O my God curse Abu Sufyaan, Mu-a'awiyah bin Abu Sufyaan, Yazid
bin Mu-a'awiyah and let it be an everlasting curse upon their
from Thee. Today the descendants of Ziyaad and Marwan make
merry, laugh and dance because on this day they killed Husayn
(blessings of God be on him). O my God, therefore, double up
the curse Thou bringe upon them and also the punishment Thou
decree for them.
O my God, I seek nearness to Thee today in this frame of mind,
cutting off all links with them for the rest of my life,
denouncing them because of my love for Thy Prophet and his
children, peace be on him and them.
O my God curse the first tyrant who unjustly and wrongfully
usurped that which rightly belonged to Muhammad and the
children of Muhammad, and bring curse upon those who, after
him, followed in his footsteps. O my God curse those
conspirators who vexed and harassed Husayn, showed eagerness,
agreed mutually, and joined hands to kill him. O my God bring
curse upon all of them.
Peace be upon you, O Abaa Abdullah, and on those souls who
came to your camp to put themselves at your disposal. So far I
am alive and the days and nights follow each other. I invoke
God to send blessings upon you forever and ever. May God not
make my this pledge of close association, physical as well as
spiritual, with you the last fulfilment.
Peace be on Husayn,
and on Ali son of Husayn,
and on the children of Husayn,
and on the friends of Husayn.
O God, let the curse I call down on the head of the first
tyrant stick like a leech; and stay put forever on the first,
then the second, the third and the fourth. O God curse on the
fifth Yazid son of Mua'awyah, and bring a curse upon
Ubaydullah bin Ziyaad, ibn Marjanah, Umar bin Saad, and Shimr,
and on the descendants of Abu Sufyaan, on the descendants of
Ziyaad, on the descendants of Marwaan, till the Day of
O God! (All) praise is for Thee (alone); praise of the
"Ever-thankful to Thee", who glorify Thee whatever
come to pass. (All) praise is for God for my deepfelt intense
grief. O my God make available for me the recommendations of
Husayn on the day I present myself before Thee, let me stand
firm in safety before Thee on account of my sincere attachment
with Husayn, along with him and his comrades, who sacrificed
everything they had (heart, mind, soul and life)for Husayn,
peace be upon him.
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 Husayn and his
companions are commemorated.
Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was brutally
massacred in Karbala alongside his family and friends in the
year 680 CE/61 AH. Their martyrdom is a sad day for all
Muslims, especially the Shi'a, who hold mourning ceremonies to
recall the righteous virtues for which the valiant martyrs
stood and the grave calamities that they thus had to bear.
Husayn, the third of the twelve Imams (Divinely appointed
leaders) according to the Shi'a faith, refused to swear
allegiance to Yazid. Yazid was not only an open sinner and
transgressor of the teachings of Islam, but he was also a most
cruel tyrant who oppressed those over whom his rule prevailed.
Husayn's followers were greatly outnumbered and dying of
thirst on the day of their martyrdom, also known as the day of
Ashura. The small band of about 72 thirsty companions were
confronted by an army in excess of 30,000, yet they faced them
with resolute strength and unwavering conviction. Each one of
the seventy-two exhorted their killers towards righteousness
before and during battle, in the midst of flying spears and
The commemoration of this brutal massacre begins on the first
day of Muharram and continues for 40 days. During the first 10
days of Muharram, millions of Muslims remember the massacre at
Karbala and strive to strengthen their individual characters
by paying heed to lessons learnt from Husayn in Karbala.
Today the shrines of Husayn and Abbas, Husayn's brother, in
Karbala about 100km south of Baghdad, are flocked by
millions of devotees who pay homage to them and renew, through
their message, their eternal struggle against humiliation and
God! Here is the place where our blood will be shed. Here is
the place where our graves will be." - Imam Husayn
This is a day by day account of Husayn's time in Karbala
leading up to the massacre on Ashura.
Day 1 AH 61 (1st October 680)
Husayn and his followers are prevented from reaching Kufa by
Caliphate general, al-Hurr, at-Tamini's 1,000-strong army, and
are forced to make camp in the desert at Karbala, 75km from
Kufa. It is here at this fateful place that Husayn and his
followers' torment began.
Husayn speaks to his followers at the camp and assures them of
their goodness and truth. In return, they pledge their loyalty
to him. Then, foreseeing his death, Husayn purchases about
four square miles of land to be the site for his and his
family's graves from the local residents of the area.
Four thousand additional troops under the command of Umar ibn
Sa'd arrive with instructions from Ubaydu'llah ibn Ziyad that
they should prevent Husayn from leaving until he signs a
pledge to the Caliph, Yazid. Ibn Sa'd's men prepare for battle
and surround Husayn's party, cutting them off from the river,
their only source of water.
Husayn begins negotiations with ibn Sa'd stressing he has no
desire to initiate bloodshed and asks to be allowed to
withdraw to Arabia but ibn Sa'd refuses to relent. Meanwhile
the situation in Husayn's camp is becoming more and more
desperate due to the lack of water and fresh supplies.
The size of the army facing Husayn's small band of followers
swells as even more troops arrive to join their brothers in
arms on the banks of the Euphrates River.
The lack of water leads to desperate measures. Husayn uses a
tent pole to dig a well, but their relief is short-lived as it
dries up. Ibn Ziyad sensing their anguish, sends 500 troops to
reinforce the cordon around the Euphrates.
Fearing for the health of the women and children, Husayn asks
his brother 'Abbas to conduct a midnight raid past the
Caliphate troops to bring back water from the river. Despite a
brief skirmish 'Abbas brings back some precious water to camp
earning himself the title, 'Saqqa', or water bearer. The water
is a godsend but does little to assuage the thirst of the
In desperation Husayn sends a message to Sa'd requesting they
meet, he questions Sa'd's allegiance to Yazid by asking,
"Don't you fear God on the Day of Judgement? You know who
I am". Sa'd's loyalty is unshaken; he considers trying to
act as a peacemaker between Husayn and Yazid but is dissuaded
when his supporters urge him not to compromise.
After a long, hot day in the desert filled with the cries of
children for water, Husayn's camp prepares for the attack they
know is coming and are powerless to stop. Husayn gathers his
companions together and pleads with them; "Whoever
remains with me will be killed tomorrow; so consider this
opportunity as Allah sent and take advantage of the darkness
and go home to your villages." He then extinguishes all
the lights in the camp to allow those who want to leave to do
so. His followers weep and reply, "Oh master do not thus
shame us before Allah..were we to desert you, may the wild
beasts of the jungle tear us to pieces."
Husayn sends one last message to Sa'd asking to be spared one
last night so that they may pray to Allah and recite the
Qur'an. Sa'd reluctantly agrees and the Imam gathers his
followers together for one last sermon. Again, his followers
protest their loyalty and vow to die alongside their master.
Such was the power of their faith that when the enemy saw them
praying 32 soldiers switched sides and joined them including
Hurr, the commander of the original army that had routed
Husayn from Kufa. He became one of the first martyrs to fall.
Friday 10th Muharram, 61 AH (10th October AD680) On what was
to be his last day Husayn and some of his followers implore
the ibn Sa'd troops for the final time not to shed the blood
of the Prophet's house. Leading by example, ibn Sa'd is the
first to shoot an arrow into the pitifully small camp. Despite
their lack of numbers, Husayn's followers fight ferociously
refusing to give up.
By mid-afternoon Husayn and his relatives face the marauding
army, their defence spent. One by one they fall including
Husayn's sons aged just 11 and 13. Husayn continues to appeal
to the enemy's humanity; he takes his six-month-old baby son
and pleads for water. The enemy respond by shooting poisoned
arrows which pierce the neck of the baby killing it instantly.
Finally Husayn is the last left standing finally falling on
the battlefield next to his dead comrades. Covered in wounds,
Husayn is then decapitated and his body is mutilated in order
to send souvenirs back to Yazid. His followers suffer a
similar fate. Their bodies are trampled by enemy horses and
left where they fell denying them a Muslim burial.
Yazid's soldiers then loot and plunder the remains of the camp
taking the women and children prisoner including 'Ali, the
only surviving son of Husayn.
out more about the key people mentioned in the historical
events surrounding the Ashura massacre in Karbala.
(NB: Hijri dates are given beforehand followed by Gregorian
dates, thus 132AH/750CE)
Ali (Abu'l - Hasan 'Ali ibn Abi Talib)
Though not directly involved at Karbala, 'Ali is a vitally
important character in Islamic history. The fourth Caliph and
the first Shi'a Imam his place in Shi'a history is guaranteed.
The cousin of the Prophet and husband of Fatima, Ali inspired
the name Shi'a ( Shi'a at Ali - the party of 'Ali). It was the
usurpation of Ali's rights preventing him from succeeding the
Prophet Mohammad as leader of the Islamic community which is
looked upon by Shi'a as the event that sparked their movement.
Shi'a historians emphasise the strong bond that existed
between the Prophet and 'Ali. It was 'Ali's father who looked
after the Prophet after his parents died and thus Mohammad
became very close to his young cousin. Aside from Khadija, the
Prophet's wife, 'Ali was the first person to acknowledge the
Prophet's mission and convert to Islam. In the eyes of both
Shi'a and Sunni Muslims 'Ali has acquired an almost legendary
reputation as a paragon of virtue and a veritable fount of
Hasan - Imam Hasan ibn Ali
Known as the chosen (al - Mujtaba) Hasan is considered by
Shi'a to have become the religious leader (Imam) following the
death of 'Ali. Hasan was born in the year 3AH/625CE in Medina
and was raised with his younger brother Husayn in the
Prophet's household. Mohammad said of his beloved
grandchildren, "he who has loved Hasan and Husayn has
loved me and he who has hated them has hated me". Hasan
was declared Caliph after the assassination of his father but
relinquished the Caliphate to his political rival Mu'awiya to
prevent a rift in Islamic society. Some have criticised Hasan
for relinquishing control but Shi'a historians claim his
abdication was realistic, compassionate and avoided bloodshed.
Hasan, after his abdication in 41AH/661CE retired to Medina
and led a quiet life away from the spotlight. Hasan died in
50AH/670CE aged 47, Shi'a say he was poisoned by his wife at
the instigation of Mu'awiya but it can't be proved.
Husayn - Imam Husayn ibn Ali
The 'Master of Martyrs' (Sayyid ash - Shuhada) as many Shi'a
call him was born on the '3rd of Sha'ban' in the fourth year
of the Hijra (626CE). His grandfather, the Prophet Mohammad
named him Husayn, meaning one of beautiful character. Husayn
was brought up with his older brother Hasan in the household
of the Prophet who referred to the two children as the
"chiefs of the youths of paradise". When his brother
Hasan died, Husayn became head of the household but did not
act against the ruling Caliph at the time, Mu'awiya. Upon
Mu'awiya's death the Caliphate was controversially passed to
his son Yazid. Husayn could not accept Yazid's rule which led
to his murder by Yazid's forces on the 10 Muharram AH61/680CE,
a day known as Ashura. His body lies in a holy shrine in
Karbala and has become a pilgrimage site for millions of Shi'a.
He became Caliph at the age of 59 after 'Ali's assassination
in 661CE. He engineered an agreement with Hasan to relinquish
the Caliphate in return for promising peace and not requiring
the members of the House of the Prophet to swear allegiance to
him. The peace treaty asserted that, "he (Mu'awiya) would
harbour no evil or harmful schemes towards Husan..his brother
Husayn, or any of the people of the House of the Messenger of
God". Some say part of the agreement was that the
Caliphate would revert to Hasan on Mu'awiya's death. Instead,
prior to Mu'awiya's death in 60AH/680CE, he arranged for his
son, Yazid, to succeed him as part of the Umayyad dynasty
which ruled until 132AH/750CE.
Son of Mu'awiya, Yazid was born in 21AH/642CE and inherited
the Caliphate from his father. He ruled for just three years
amidst reports of bribery and threats. Most historians view
Yazid as a drunkard who openly flouted the laws of Islam.
Despite his father's wishes to respect the agreement that he
had made with Imam Hasan, Yazid required the Prophet's
grandsons to swear allegiance to him to ensure his
credibility. Husayn refused to swear allegiance to Yazid which
resulted in the massacre at Karbala on Ashura.
'Ubaydu 'llah ibn Ziyad
Ziyad was the governor of Basrah who was appointed by Yazid to
take control of Kufa. Under his tough leadership, Ziyad
successfully intimidated the Kufans, who had declared their
support for Husayn, into not joining him. It was his orders,
relayed to the armies at Karbala that resulted in the Ashura
The sister of the Imam, Zaynab was taken prisoner after the
massacre at Karbala by ibn Ziyad on behalf of Yazid. She
reportedly conducted herself with dignity and courage. When
there was the possibility of ibn Ziyad killing her nephew,
'Ali, the only surviving son of Husayn, she threw her arms
around 'Ali's neck exclaiming, "by God, I will not be
parted from him and so if you are going to kill him, then kill
me with him". Ibn Ziyad imprisoned the captives and did
not kill 'Ali but sent them to Yazid with the head of Husayn.
Although ibn Yazid mocked 'Ali and Zaynab he eventually
allowed them to return to Medina.
Al-Hurr at Tamimi
He was the young commander of a 1000-strong military
detachment who intercepted Husayn's party as it approached
Kufa. But on the morning of Ahsura, Hurr was one of the 32
troops once loyal to Yazid who switched sides when faced with
the emotive words of Husayn and the enormity of act of
violence he was about to commit. He was one of the first
martyr to fall fighting to protect Husayn. His shrine now lies
in Karbala, Iraq.
Muslim ibn Aqeel
He was Husayn's cousin who was sent ahead as an envoy to Kufa
to see if the people could be trusted to be loyal. He sent
word back saying that the Kufans were loyal but was murdered
by the governor Ziyad who was loyal to ibn Yazid.
Al - Abbas
'Abbas was the half-brother of Husayn who was given the title
of water bearer (Saqqa) and was killed at Karbala when he was
ambushed whilst trying to get badly needed water to his
brother and his followers. His shrine, as with Husayn's, is in
captives were taken to Kufa where Zaynab, Husayn's sister is
defiant in the face of ibn Ziyad, one of battlefield
commanders. They are forced to travel to Damascus where Yazid
gloats over the head of Husayn and insults Ali and Zaynab, the
only family who survived the massacre at Karbala. They are
later released and allowed to return to Medina after Yazid
begins to fear the backlash as news of the massacre spreads.
Karbala was a watershed for Yazid. The bloodbath at Karbala,
the imprisonment of the women and children of the Household of
the Prophet, their parading in chains from town to town, and
the speeches made by Zaynab, Husayn's sister, all contributed
to the end of Yazid's rule and the overthrow of the dynasty
Whilst it would seem that the birth of Shi'a can be linked to
the assertion that only 'Ali could succeed Mohammad as Caliph,
the tragedy of Karbala revitalised the official Shi'a
movement. The tragedy played an enormous role in the
galvanising of Shi'a identity. The fate of Husayn was destined
to become the most important agent in the propagation and
comparatively rapid spread of Shi'a Islam.
In giving his life, Husayn ensured the survival of his faith.
holy city of Karbala, situated 100 km south of Baghdad,
derives its name from the ancient Babylonian meaning
"sacred place of God" from the two shrines it houses
of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Husayn and his brother 'Abbas.
The brothers and 72 of their followers were massacred here by
troops loyal to Caliph Yazid some 1300 years ago. This event
had far-reaching effects for Islam, led to the downfall of the
Umayyad dynasty and consolidated the Shi'a identity.
Commemoration of this event at Karbala is one the most
important events in the Shi'a calendar.
For Shi'a Muslims Karbala is second only to Mecca and possibly
Najaf as a sacred site and millions of the faithful throughout
history have flocked to the shrines of Husayn and 'Abbas
especially during the month of Muharram to commemorate the
martyrdom of their "Master of Martyrs".
Karbala has a long history as a sacred city. On the edge of
the Syrian desert, this trading town has a rich history going
back to Babylonian times when it was used as a Christian
Construction of the present city of Karbala began on 12th
Muharram 61AH/680CE when the people from the local Bani Asad
tribe buried the bodies of Husayn and his companions on the
spot where the massacre had occurred.
the years, the burial place became known as a shrine and
Muslim rulers constructed a dome, galleries, gardens and a
mosque around the tomb. Defensive walls followed to protect
tombs of Husayn and his doomed supporters with their lofty
minarets became a symbol of grace and hope for the destitute.
They also transformed Karbala into a thriving oasis town and a
focus of Shi'a scholarship in Iraq.
Not everyone shared the Shi'a reverence for the final resting
place of Husayn and his followers which have been subjected to
numerous acts of vandalism.
The original shrine was destroyed by the 'Abbasid Caliph
Mutawakkil in 235AH/850CE and the site ploughed over. After
the death of this Caliph, a shrine of some sort was again
erected but the bulk of the present shrine probably dates from
the time of 'Adudu'd-Dawla, the Buyid prince, 369AH/979CE. The
building was subjected to further violations including the
dome burning down in the 11th century.
The most serious damage to the shrine was inflicted by the
Wahhabis in 1801 and the Ottoman army under Najib Pasha in
1843 when Karbala was sacked and the tombs of Husayn and 'Abbas
stripped of all their gold and precious ornaments. This was
quickly restored by contributions from Persians and other
The last important restoration of the shrine occurred at the
behest of Nasiru 'd-Din Shah in the 1850s when the dome was
gilded and other important structural work carried out. The
enclosed area around the shrine is called the Ha'ir and is
strictly off limits to non-believers.
In addition to the Shrine of Husayn lies the equally imposing
Shrine of 'Abbas, the half brother of Husayn, where he and the
other members of the family of 'Ali are said to have been
commemorates the events that took place in Karbala in
61AH/680CE which culminated in the massacre of Husayn and his
As a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammad Imam Husayn was
considered by Shi'a Muslims to be their spiritual leader and
their tradition dictated he should lead the Islamic community
as Caliph (political and spiritual leader).
But when Husayn was to have assumed the Caliphate his claim
was dismissed by the then ruling Caliph, Mu'awiyah, the son of
one of the Prophet's enemies. He claimed that his superior
military strength, political abilities and age made him a
better candidate than either Hasan (Husayn's older brother) or
On Mu'awiyah's death, the Caliphate passed to his son Yazid
who required Hasan and Husayn to pay homage (Bay'at) to him as
Husayn was unwilling to swear allegiance to Yazid and decided
to travel to Kufa in Iraq to lead his supporters there against
ordered an army to intercept Husayn and stop him from reaching
Kufa. The martyr's family and supporters got as far as Karbala
before they were surrounded by a large number of Yazid's
Husayn, still refusing to swear allegiance to an authority he
did not believe was legitimate, faced a desperate situation.
His party of 72 armed men, 18 family members and 54 supporters
were stranded in the harsh desert without water or supplies.
Desperate to avoid bloodshed, Husayn put his case to Yazid's
generals over eight long days, appealing to their sense of
humanity and faith to no avail.
At dawn on the 10th day - Ashura - after Husayn addressed his
followers for the last time, Yazid's troops fired arrows at
the camp and the battle was underway.
Hopelessly outnumbered Husayn's followers were unable to
resist the onslaught, one by one all of the men fell including
Husayn, his brother 'Abbas had been killed earlier, only the
women and children were spared.
Husayn was decapitated, his body mutilated and trampled by
horses. After the troops left, the desert people around what
was to become Karbala retrieved Husayn and 'Abbas' bodies and
buried them. Pilgrims have come to Karbala ever since and it
is now one of the most important Shi'a shrines in the world.
year on the 10th of Muharam the Shia Muslims all over
the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein.
The commemoration start from the first day and the
peak reached on the 10th day. Today is the first day
Food coked and given free.
Hussein is the grand son of Prophet Mohammad from his
daughter Fatima and his cousin and son in law Ali Bin
Abi Talib. Prophet Mohammad used to call him and his
brother Hassan as his beloved sons. He is the one who
chose their names after they born. They grow in the
environment of Bano Hashem, the tribe of Mohammad and
Ali. Unlike Bano Omaiyah, Bano Hashem rejects
corruption, oppression and racial discrimination. Bano
Omaiyah considers themselves above the others and the
Arabs above the non Arabs. This discrimination reached
its peak during the reign of Maawiyah Bin Abo Sofiyan
and his son Yazid in Damascus in Syria. One of the
major causes for Imam Hussein to reject the leadership
of Maawiyah and Yazid is because of their corruption,
oppression, slavery and injustice.
It is very difficult to elaborate about the history in
details but will try to write very briefly about the
After the death of Prophet Mohammad and before his
burial a new era of struggle for power started. Al
Insars who were the inhabitants of Madinah gathered in
a place called Saqefat Bani Saiedah which is their
community meeting place and selected among them Saad
Bin Uobadah to be the leader. The Mohajreen who
migrated with Prophet Mohammad the tribe of Koriesh
heard this. They left the body of the Prophet and want
to the same place. The two sides clashed and argued
about who should be the leader. The scene was chaotic
with threats from both sides. Ali and the family of
Prophet haven't attended and have been ignored. Ali
was adopted by Mohammad when he was a boy to help his
uncle Abi Talib during economical crises. He was the
son in law of the Prophet, his cousin, and brother by
choice and the first one to embrace Islam after the
prophet and his deputy at least according to many
Muslims at that time. Ali was poor and he was disliked
by the rich aristocrats of Qurishis.
The trees here is the site of Alskefa
The meeting resulted in taking allegiance to Abo Baker
who was one of the Immigrants to Madenah. Some Muslims
rejected and some asked to wait until Ali and the
prophet kinsmen finished from his burial but the
matter moved forward by some. That was a breakthrough
point in the history of division in Islam.
Soon after this many Muslims refused to pay charity to
Abo Baker and that was suppressed by force led by
Khaled Bin Alwaled who killed the leader of the region
Malek Bin Nowerah and married his beautiful wife on
the same day!
Ali (the father of Hussein) hasn't submitted his
allegiance until the death of Fatima 6 months later.
At this time the power established well in the hands
of Abo Baker and Omar and have he not doing so he may
have been killed. Abo baker and Omar used Ali as a
consultant for them. During the reign of Othman who is
from Bano Omayiah there were a lot of unrest in Egypt
and Iraq and other parts due to the oppressive and
unjust behaviours of the local leaders. Othman
appointed leaders among his family and some of them
are arrogant to the people. The unrest resulted in
surrounding Othman house and Ali tried to stop things
but was unable so the revolted people killed Othman.
This was a major point in the history of Islam. Here
the division started to take a different shape.
Now Ali has been selected by the people to lead and he
refused initially but the revolted people and others
convinced him that they need his leadership now! He
accepted but Muawyaih in Damascus who was the cousin
of Othman refused that and entered into many wars with
Ali. After the death of Ali (killed during prayer in
Kuffa mosque), Maawiyah signed agreement with Ali's
eldest Son Hassan to stop blood shade and the power
will go to Al Hassan after him but Maawiyah killed Al
Hassan by putting poison in his honey. He then forced
every one to give allegiance to his son Yazid after
him. After his death Yazid sent for Madenah to ask the
people to recognize him as the leader. He instructed
his army if any one refused to give allegiance to be
killed and named Al Hussein as one of the most
important people to start with.
Yazid was arrogant, oppressive, and unjust man. His
messenger to Al Hussein in the governor of Al Madenah
HQ asked Al Hussein after summoning him to submit his
will to Yazid. Imam Hussein knew if he does so it
means the end of the moral aspects in the religion and
the acceptance of the slavery dictatorship of Yazid.
He refused and asked the messenger to wait for a
while. Imam Hussein then decided to leave with his
family (wife, children, brothers and some others) to
Iraq because he knew Yazid already planned to
assassinate him. He took his family because if he
leaves them Yazid will take them as captives. The
followers of his father and grand father in Iraq have
written to him before to go there and provide him with
protection. He then made his mind and went from
Madenah to Makkah then across the desert towards Kuffa.
AlHussein leaving the city of his grand father to Iraq
Yazid arranged a huge army of 33,000 men very well
equipped and appointed Oubiad Alla Bi Ziad as the governor
of Kuffa. Bin Ziad was a known person for his arrogance,
un-mercifulness, oppression, and every thing inhuman. He
was governor on Basrah. Since his arrival to Kuffa worked
in two ways, threat and killing and buying the people with
money. He captured the messenger of Imam Hussein and his
cousin Muslim Bin Akeel; beating him and throws him from
the roof of the palace then crucified him with Hani Bin
Urowa his hostess.
Yazid sent his strongest army while Bin Ziad sent an army
to surround Imam Hussein and his family and prevent them
from changing their direction until Yazid army arrives.
Imam Hussein have just over 100 with him most of them
among his family.They forced Imam Hussein and his family
(the family of Prophet Mohammad) to retreat to Kerbala.
Kerbala is two phrases word; ker means anguish and bala
Imam Hussein debated with them that they are themselves
send for him to come and tried to convince them that they
are in actual fact surrounding the women and children of
their Prophet but they refused to let him to go. They said
that he has to submit completely his will to Bin Ziad and
then Yazid or he will face his fate. He showed them more
than 500 letters that they sent but they denied it!
After a long journey through the desert his children were
thirsty as well as the women and the men. They prevent him
from the Euphrates water. He got a 6 months old baby who
was crying aggressively for water and he took him to the
army asking for water just for this baby, instead they
throw the baby with a dart which strike him on his neck
and killed him instantly. Imam Hussein then took the blood
of his baby in his hand and throw it to heaven asking God
to witness what these people done to a baby belong to the
family of their prophet.
On the 10th of Muharam around midday Yazid army attacked
Imam Hussein camp. Imam Hussein first advised them saying
that we are until now one nation but if the sword happened
between us then we became two nations; you are one and we
are different. From that time the practical division
between Shias and Sunni manifest itself very clearly and
widely. Shia means the supporters or followers of, and
here it means the supporters of Ali and Ahil Al Biat which
means the family of the Prophet Mohammad.
The night before the war Imam Hussein gathered his family
and followers and told them that the army want him himself
and so he told them you are free to go while it is dark
but all of them refused. One of those who fought with him
was a Christian young man called John.
Last moments before battle
In few hours they killed every one and when Imam Hussein
remained alone he asked loudly if there is any one
protects the family of the messenger of God! They attacked
him and then racked him with the feet of their horses when
he tumbled. They then cut his head and the heads of his
brothers and followers and raise them on spears.
After this they attacked the women and put the tents in
fire. The children escaped in all directions and the women
tried to protect them. They beaten the children and women
by the whips and ripped off their belonging. Then they
took them as captives!!! Children and women!! Among them
was Zainab the sister of Imam Hussein who witnessed the
massacre of her sons, brothers, nephews and other
relatives in the bloodiest way of barbaric killing.
Back without Hussein! Zainab asked; Oh horse, where is
Hussein my beloved brother?
They cut the heads and left the bodies unburried!
Yazid army set fire in the camp and terrified women and
This is the present site where Imam Hussein killed and
Bin Ziad looked to the head of Imam Hussein and start to
strike his mouth with a cane, feeling the joy and
happiness filling his sadistic inhuman personality. He
then turned to humiliate the women of the family of
Prophet Mohammad. Zainab then delivered a strong speech
describing the magnitude of their crime. Bin Ziad ordered
his guards to kill Ali the son of Hussein who was a young
boy and haven't joined the battle because he was ill.
Zainab throw her self over the boy and said if you want to
kill him you have to kill me first before him. Bin Ziad
withdraws his devilish wish after Zainab insistence.
The Tomb of the body of Al Hussein. The head buried in
The tomb of the martyrs who died with Hussein
The army then took the women and children on a camel
caravan to Damascus. They passed many cities and villages.
They told the people that those women and children are
among foreigners who were out law and refused to submit to
the Caliph Yazid. Fear and Terror producing strategy
exactly like Saddam. They haven't told the truth that they
are the prophet's family to prevent revolt.
Captives with chains to Bin Ziad.
Before they arrive to Damascus there was a Priest in his
remote chapel he spotted the caravan from a distance and
saw a light shining from the head of Hussein up to the
sky. The Priest stopped them and asked them who is that
head for? They refused to tell him. After he gave them
money they told him that the head belongs to Al Hussein
the son of Fatima the daughter of Prophet Mohammad. He got
some money with him and asked them to take it and let the
head with him for a while. They took the money and gave
him the head. The Priest washed it and heard recitation of
the holly Quran coming from the head!
In Damascus Yazid put them chained in a ruin before depart
them to Madenah. Many of the children died from
starvation, diseases and beating during this long journey.
The little daughter of Imam Hussein while in the abandond
ruin in Damascus start to cry and insisted to see her
father. Zainab tried to please her but she never stopped
crying. Then they brought the head and told her this is
your father. She hugged the head and took a deep sigh and
In the palace of the tyrant!
Imam Hussein remembered as a symbol of freedom and dignity
against tyrant and slavery. Hussein never bowed to tyrant
and oppressive regime of Yazid. This is why the similar
tyrant like Saddam prevents the commemoration because of
its symbolic state which rejects not only Yazid but every
tyrant in history like Saddam. Ghandi the strongman of
India said (I learnt from Hussein how I be tyrannized and
achieve victory!). A woman who was mourning in Muharam has
been asked about it. She said to mourn for a beloved one
is a personal thing which will fade with time but to mourn
for Imam Hussein is to mourn for the mankind which will
never fade as far as there is tyranny and oppression and
Imam Hussein said; dignified death is better than
Many intellectuals wrote about Imam Hussein. Gerhard
Konsilman a German journalist said that Yazid used to
despise the people, salving and oppressing them and
irresponsible sinful person. Imam Hussein by his realistic
personality and death defeated the tyrant. His revolt was
the ignition for the end of Umayyad density. Konsilman
added that the dead Hussein was more dangerous on Yazid
than the live Hussein. The martyrdom of Hussein in Kerbala
remained the symbol for freedom, dignity and rejection of
There are some similarities between Jesus Christ and
Hussein in that both of them rejected tyrant and wrongful
and gave themselves in the way of freedom, salvation,
dignity and righteous aspect of life. Their path is one
and their salvation is by following their path of peace
and justice. Before them Moses and Aaron defied the
tyranny of Pharaoh and Aaron was deemed weak by his own
people when Moses left to receive the Ten Commandments.
Al Hussein will remain as a revolution against all tyrants
and oppressors. He will continue as a symbol for dignity
and freedom for all the mankind and not only the Shias