The tragedy of Karbala


In Karbala, Imam Hussain told lbn Zaid, a general of Yazid’s army that he was not looking for an armed conflict and wanted peace. Imam Hussain proposed to accept any of the three conditions:

  • To return back to Madina
  • To be sent to the borders of the Islamic lands
  • To meet Yazid in Damascus in Syria

Ibn Zaid refused to accept peace and warned that tomorrow he would launch the attack. That night Imam Hussain gathered his family and relatives and said “you people are free to go. The enemy only wants me.” Everyone replied, ‘we will stay and die with you.’ All night they prayed and read Quran. In the morning Imam Hussain and 72 of his followers stood and faced the army of Yazid. Before the battle began, the Imam said to the enemy, “O people! Do not be hasty, listen to my words. If you accept my offerings of peace and be just to me then you will be the most fortunate of people. Look who I am! Will torturing and killing me give you a pleasure? Am I not your beloved Prophet’s (peace be upon him) grandson? Am I not the son of Ali, one of the very first to accept Islam? Can you not remember the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding me and my brother that we will be the chiefs of Paradise? Will you still go ahead and shed my blood?”

But the enemy was oblivious to these holy words and in reply immediately launched an attack. Imam Hussain and his followers fought back. The enemy was surprised, they could not break through. For days Imam Hussain  held them back. But the overwhelming numbers of the enemy eventually surrounded the camp and cut off the water supply from the River Euphrates.

The real time of Muharram had arrived. The sun was setting. It was Asr time. The Imam is preparing to leave his tent. Standing amongst his family, their sadden faces and tearful eyes gaze at him. Zainab looked at her injured brother. Sakina took a final look at her father. Sharbanu also looked at her beloved husband perhaps for the last time. The Imam consoled everyone and counseled them to be patient and determined. He said goodbye and left the dark and gloomy tent. He came to sow the seed of speaking out for the truth and to water the fields of Islam with his blood. Since, in nature one body gives way for another to be born in the world. The seed disappears in the soil so that the shoot may appear, buds of cotton lose their identity so that man may wear cotton, wheat grains are milled so that man may get bread, oil burns as the room may shine, coal burns to produce the heat to produce steam to drive the turbines which produce the electricity. The grandson of the Messenger (peace be upon him) of God suffered pain, endured sorrows, allowed his children and relations to be slaughtered so that the people may learn to stand up against tyrants and oppressors. So that people would not submit to cruel rulers. His mouth was like dry wood as he headed straight for the river. Shimr said to Amr “look Hussain is thirsty and weak but still we can’t control him, he is dying but more alive than us. If he is allowed to drink water he will be revitalised, stop him now!”

Amr orders his soldiers to close in on Hussain. The Imam lifts a handful of water to his mouth but a devilish man Ibn Ram fires his arrow at him and it strikes his mouth. He falls back painfully pulling out the arrow. He looks at the heaven and cries; “God who else can I complain to other than you.” Blood gushes from his wounded mouth. Like an injured lion he gets up, takes his sword and charges at the enemy. The son of Haider is ferocious and fights courageously, his sword moves like electric, chopping the heads of the Fussaq. The enemy encircle him, draw closer to him. Hussain is bleeding from his 45 wounds, with arrows stuck all over. Finally Ibn Shareek cuts off his hand, he has bled so much that there is no strength left in his right hand and his legs give in, he falls. Syed is wounded, Syed has fallen, all alone, no one to help. Sunan comes forward and cuts off Imam’s head. Thus the greatest sacrifice was completed.

Iqbal aptly says:

The story of Islam is simple but colourful, it began with Ismail and ended with Hussain.

All were martyred except the women and Ali ibn Hussain , the son of Imam Hussain  who was critically ill. The Imam’s  head was cut off and put on a spear and sent to Yazid in Damascus.

Tragedy of Karbala (download booklet)