April 2002 Feature
Hazrat Imam Hossein ibn Ali & Karbala
Hossein (AS) was the second child of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Hazrat
Fatimeh(AS). He was born in the year 4 A.H. It was by the divine
command that after the martyrdom of his brother, Imam Hassan,
that he became an Imam.
Hossein was Imam for a total of ten years; the final six months
of which coincided with the caliphate of Muawiyah. Imam
Hossein and his family were subject to the most difficult outward
conditions of suppression and persecution. Religious laws and
regulations had lost much of their weight and credit under Umayyads
tyrannical rule. Muawiyah and his aides used every possible
means to put aside and remove the household of the Prophet and
to obliterate the name of Hazrat Ali all so he could secure the
position for the caliphate of his son, Yazid, who lacked principles
and was opposed by so many. By force, Imam Hossein tolerated the
injustice that brought forth both mental and spiritual agony for
him and those with him until the year 60 A.H, when Muawiyah
died and left the seat of Caliphate for his son, Yazid.
allegiance was an important issue and was common practice among
the Arabs. To break an allegiance was considered disgrace and
dishonor. Muawiyah had asked important people around him
to give their allegiance. He had asked Imam Hossein as well, but
did not press or force the issue. His advice to Yazid was to do
the same and not force the issue on Imam Hossein for Muawiyah
understood the grave consequences of doing so. But, as the result
of his recklessness and egoism, Yazid disregarded his fathers
advice and after Muawiyahs death ordered the Governor
of Medina to either force a pledge of allegiance from Imam Hossein
or to send his head to Damascus.
After hearing the request of Yazid, Imam Hossein asked the governor
some time to think the matter over. That very night, he took his
family and headed toward Mecca, seeking refuge in the sanctuary
of Allah. He remained there for four months. Mean while,
the news spread among the Islamic world. As people were fed-up
with the government, they expressed their sympathy for the Imam.
Letters poured in from all corners, especially Kufa, inviting
him to go to Iraq and accept the leadership of the people and
to eventually overcome the injustice brought forth by Yazid. Naturally,
this posed a threat for yazid.
Hossein decided to remain in Mecca till the time for pilgrimage
so he could perform the rights of Hajj. It was then that he discovered
that along side the pilgrims, Yazids followers had entered
the city, with the mission to kill him. Imam Hossein decided to
shorten the pilgrimage and to head toward Iraq. Amidst the vast
crowd, he gave a short speech, announcing that he was leaving
for Iraq and that he was to be martyred. He then asked Muslims
to help him to attain the divine goal of protecting the truth
and offering their lives in the path of Allah. The following day,
he set out towards Iraq.
Hossein was determined not to give Yazid his allegiance and he
was aware of the consequences of his decision and knew that his
death was inevitable. People of Mecca begged him not to go. He
told them that no matter where he would turn, he would be killed.
He told them that he chose to leave only to preserve the respect
for the Kabba House of Allah.
days in to his journey, Imam Hossein received word that a few
of his influential supporters in Mecca were put to a crude death
to teach the masses a lesson. Imam was forced to move forward.
70 kilometers from Kufa, in the desert of Karbala, Imam Hossein
and his entourage found themselves surrounded by Yazids
army an army made of people who called themselves Muslims
and followers of the Quran and the prophet, who were now after
the prophets family only to murder them. The hold-up lasted
for eight days as they were surrounded by an army of thirty thousand.
On the last night, Imam Hossein called his companions and told
them that death was the conclusion of the situation and that Yazid
was only concerned with his person; should they wish to leave,
they were free to do so. He then turned out the lights for those
who wanted to leave, to have the privacy to do so. Those who had
joined the Imam for their own benefit, left the group. Imam Hossein
was left with only a handful of those who loved the truth and
some of the Banu Hashim a total of 72 all together.
On the 19th day of the month, the last chance to choose between
war or allegiance was again proposed to Imam Hossein. Imam Hossein
asked for a delay to worship overnight, knowing that he would
enter battle the very next day. The day after, the battle began.
The soldiers of truth, lead my their commander, son of Ali the
lion heart, fought bravely till they were killed one by one and
per Yazids order, were decapitated. Yazids army entered
Imams tents and burned everything and took prisoner the
women and children. There were three male prisoners among the
group the twenty-three year old son of Imam Hossein, who
was very ill and unable to move, namely Ali Ibn Hossein
Imam Zayn al Abedin, the fourth Imam; his four year-old son, Muhammad
Ibn Ali, who later became the fifth Imam; and finally Hassan Muthanna,
the son of Imam Hassan.
prisoners were taken to Kufa and then to Damascus before Yazid.
The event of Karbala, the inhumane treatment of the household
of the prophet, the speeches given by Hazrat Alis daughter,
Hazrat Zeinab and the fourth Imam, Ali Ibn Hossein, disgraced
the Umayyads. Eventually, the matter reached such proportions
that Yazid in public disowned and condemned the actions of his
The massacre of Karbala was the major factor in the overthrow of the Umayyad rule and it strengthened the roots of the followers of Ahleh Bayt.
chapter of Islam has been told and retold in different versions
that were twisted by clergymen in ways that displayed such graceful
souls as weak beings who resorted to begging for mercy. For those
who have studied Islam and are familiar with the strength of the
divine souls of the house of Mohammad and those who were their
true companions, know that the martyrs of Karbala willingly gave
their lives for Hagh (the truth). Not for a split second, would
Imam Hossein or his followers would have begged for mercy of the
troops of the enemy to either spare them or spare their young
members of the house of Mohammad will forever be the pillars of
Islam. They are the perfect models and it is in their footsteps
that a righteous Muslim should follow.
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