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The lessons of Karbala

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12th-Oct-2016       
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On the 10th day of the month of Muharram 61H (October 11th 680 AD), a tragic event took place in the southern part of Iraq at a place known as Karbala on the bank of the Euphrates river. It seemed in those days insignificant from the historical point of view. A large army of 30,000 that had been mobilised by the Umayyad regime, besieged Imam Husein, the grandson of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Sm), and 71 of his loyal companions and forced them to pay allegiance to the corrupt Yazid and to submit to his authority. The small group resisted and a severe battle took place in which the Imam and all his companions were killed, and his female family members were taken as war prisoners.
It appeared at that time, like hundreds of similar events, that this battle would be recorded in history and forgotten in time. However, the events that occurred on the 10th of Muharram in Karbala were to become a beacon and an inspiration for future generations, and a reflection of good versus evil.
Who was this small group? The leader of the small band of men who were martyred in Karbala was none other than Husein (Ra), son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Ra) and Fatima (Ra), daughter of the Prophet (Sm), and grandson of the Prophet for whom he once said, "Husain is from me and I am from Husein. May Allah love whoever loves Husein."
Accompanying this small group were Husein's immediate family relatives, and close companions.
Upon the murder of his brother Hasan (Ra), Husein (Ra) became the leader of the household of the Prophet (Sm). Husein honoured the agreement of peace signed by his brother Hasan (Ra), in order to safeguard the security of the Muslim nation, which was at stake with the ruler Mu'awiyah. Despite the urging of his followers, Husein (Ra) did not undertake any activity that threatened the political status quo. Rather he continued with the responsibility of looking after the religious needs of the people and was recognised for his knowledge, piety, and generosity.
The second Khaliph appointed Mu'awiyah as the governor of Syria. Mu'awiyah became a Muslim only when the Prophet (Sm) triumphed over Makka. Upon seizing power, Mu'awiyah took advantage of the rich public treasury, using it personally to buy favours and influence people. He also started campaigning to introduce monarchy into the political system of Islam. Mu'awiyah sent his agents to prominent members of the communities to obtain allegiance of loyalty to his son Yazid. People protested vigorously and Mu'awiyah used his traditional method of coercion-money and the sword. Upon his death, his son Yazid, age of 30, managed to impose himself on the people and became the Khaliph using all possible means like bribery, pressure, threats and force. People refused to recognise him as the representative of the Prophet (Sm) and the leader of the Islamic nation. Yazid commissioned his governor over Madina, to ask for Imam Husein's allegiance of loyalty or else his life. Imam Husein (Ra) was quick to realise that giving allegiance of loyalty to Yazid would serve no purpose but to jeopardise the survival of Islam. The principles and laws of Islam demanded that Husein (Ra) act to wam and safeguard the Islamic nation of the evil situation which it was in, and to stand in the way of the deviating ruler.
Imam Husein (Ra) was certain that by awakening the miserable lives of the Muslim nation, under the tyrannical rule of Yazid, was to sacrifice his blood for the sake of defending Islam. The people of Kufa (a town in southern Iraq) sent over 12,000 letters to Imam Husein inviting him to their city in support for his leadership. Imam Husein (Ra) remarked when he left his hometown with his family and companions for the last time, "I am not rising against Yazid as an insolent or an arrogant person, or as a mischief-monger, or tyrant. I have risen against Yazid as I seek to reform the Ummah (Islamic nation) of my grandfather. I wish to bid the good and forbid the evil."
Before reaching the city of Kufa, Imam Husein's small group was intercepted by the large army of Umayyad. The army quickly surrounded and trapped Imam Husein (Ra), his family, and companions in the desert plains called Karbala. Within 10 days, Imam's camp was subject to hunger, thirst, and brutal killings. The 10th of Muharram marked the end of the tragedy but the beginning of enlightenment. While praying, Imam Husein was killed, his body trampled beneath the hoofs of horses and his head cut off, speared, and paraded before his captivated family and a few companions, and through the villages and towns as they were taken to Damascus and his head presented at the feet of Yazid!
Why do Muslims remember Ashura? Imam Husein (Ra) sacrificed his life along with 72 believing men, all for the sake of truth over falsehood. The tragedy of Karbala represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The whole nation had failed to stand up to Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways that were increasing.
Passiveness by Husein (Ra) in this situation would have meant the end of Islam, as we know it. Imam Husein took it upon himself the responsibility of the whole nation. The greatest tragedy was he stood up for the noblest of causes-the defense of Islam, and was killed in such a cruel manner.
It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husein (Ra) is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world. The tragic event shook the very foundations of the nation, stirred their consciousness, and became a beacon of light and guidance.
The 10th of Muharram, Ashura serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of the family of the Prophet (Sm). It also makes Muslims aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (Sm) and all that they stood for, as well as those who watched, listened, and did nothing.
After the death of Mu'awiyah, Imam Husein (Ra) faced two bitter choices by the governor of Madina either to pay allegiance to the tyrant Yazid or to face execution. Because of the threat Imam Husein was forced to leave his birthplace, the city of Madina, to Makkah on the 29th of Rajab 60H/May 6th 680AD.
The distance between Madina and Makkah is 420km. It took the Imam and his family five days to travel to Makkah, they arrived on the 4th of Sha'ban 60H/May 11th 680AD.
Imam Husein stayed in Makkah for 120 days, from the 4th of Sha'ban to the 7th of Dhil Hijjah 60H/May 11th to September 9th 680AD. During this time Imam Husein received thousands of letters and delegates from Iraq inviting him to lead the movement against the unjust rule of Bani Umayyad.
Imam Husein, his family, and compnnions abruptly departed Makkah and headed towards Iraq on the 8th of Dhil Hijjah/September 10th 680AD, the same day that the pilgrims leave for Makkah to Mina to perform the pilgrimage.
The distance between Makkah and Karbala, Iraq is 1,470km.
At an average rate of 64km, it took the caravan of Imam Husein 23 days to journey to Karbala. After passing 38 resting stations and villages Husein's (Ra) caravan finally reached the land of Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram 61H/October 3rd 680AD.
The army of Bani Urnayyad surrounded the camp of Imam Husein in Karbala on the 9th of Muharram/October 10th 680AD. The army numbered 30,000 soldiers commanded by Omar ibn Sa'd.
The army of Bani Umayyad launched the battle of Ashura on the 10th morning of Muharram 61H/ October 11th 680AD. The battle lasted for several hours. Imanl Husein, his family members, and his 72 companions were massacred. Only one man survived, his son Imam A1i ibn AI-Husein Zainul Abidin, who assumed the Imamah (succession to the Prophet Sm).
The remaining women and children of the family of Imam Husein (Ra) were driven as prisoners of war on the 11th of Muharram/October 12th to the city of Kufa to meet with Ibn Ziyad, the Governor of Bani Umayyad in Iraq.
"I did not leave Madina for doing mischief, corruption, or injustice; but I only left with an aim of reforming the tradition of my grandfather. I intend to enjoin what is good and to prohibit what is evil." -Imam Husein (Ra)
--Imam Husein -http:/alqazwini.org

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