IntroductionWith the sighting of the new moon the Islamic new year is ushered in. The first month Moharram ul haraam, is a month of great reward and virtue. Moharram itself means `sacred' and is from those months which have been mentioned as sacred in the Holy Qura'an.
Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qura'an:
VirtuesFrom out of the four sacred months, Muharram has been blessed with certain specific virtues:-
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam) said:
These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Qura'an are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared: "One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab."
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah.
In another Hadeeth, Hazrat Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu-Anhu) reports: "that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam) said: "The one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast (in this sacred month)."
(Tabraani)Although the month of Muharram is a sacred month as a whole, the 10 th of Moharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah'. It is one of the most important and blessed days of Allah in the Islamic calendar.
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Almighty Allah. The Hadith citied above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are the most rewardable among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.
The Hadith does not mean that the reward promised for fasts of Muharram can only be attained by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should take advantage of this opportunity.
According to the Holy companion, Ibn Abbas R.A, when the Holy Prophet S.A.W.W migrated to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10 th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa Alayhis Salaam and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously, and the Pharaoh was drowned in its water. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam said, “We are more closely related to Musa than you.” So the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura. (Abu Dawood)
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashura should be either preceeded or suceded by an additional fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9 th and 10 th of Muharram or the 10 th and 11 th . The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam wanted to distinguish the Islmaic-way of fasting from that of the Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to the day of Ashura.
Some Ulama (scholars) are of the opinion that before the fasts of Ramadhan were made compulsory, the fast of the day of Aashora was compulsory upon the Ummah.
This is stated in a Hadeeth reported by Hazrat Aisha (Radhiyallahu-Anha):
But, nevertheless the Prophet (Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam) continued to fast this day and encouraged his Companions to do the same.
One should also observe the fast of the 9th Muharram to safeguard his deed from resemblance with the Non-Muslims who fast only on the 10th Muharram. Hazrat Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu-Anhu) said:
These Ahadeeth indicate clearly that one should fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram. However, if one does not manage to fast on the ninth, then he/she should fast on the eleventh of Muharram instead. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam) said:
Hence, it is important to either fast on the ninth and the tenth or the tenth and the eleventh of Muharram. To fast only on the day of Aashora is Makrooh as stated by Allamah Ibn Aabideen Shaami. One should be generous on one's family and dependants and spend more on them than what is normally spent.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu-Alayhi-Wasallam) said:
"One who generously spends on his family on the day of Aashora, Allah will increase (his provision) for the whole year." (Baihaqi)
The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680) in Karbala, in present day Iraq. The battle was between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Hussein ibn Ali, and a much larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, whom Hussein had refused to recognise. Hussein and all his supporters were killed, including Hussein's six-month-old infant son, Ali al-Asghar ibn Husayn, and the women and children taken as prisoners. The dead are regarded as martyrs by Muslims, and the battle has a central place in Shia (a group of Muslims) history and tradition, and has frequently been recounted in Shia(a group of Muslims) Islamic literature.
The Battle of Karbala is commemorated during an annual 10-day period held every Muharram by the Shia and Alevis, as well as many Sunnis, culminating on its tenth day, Ashura.
Muslims believe Hussain's sacrifice was ordered by God Almighty and was necessary to awaken the ummah and stop Yazid hijacking Islam.
Muhammad's prophecyAccording to the hadis book complied by the Sunni scholar Al-Tabarani, Muhammad told his wife Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya:
"Hazrat Gabriel informed me that my grandson Hussain-ibne-Ali(R.A.) will be killed after me in the land of al-Taff and brought me this Turbah (mudd/soil) and informed me that this is the soil of the place he will be martyred."
On Muharram 10th, also called Ashura, Hussein ibn Ali completed the morning prayers with his companions. He appointed Zuhayr ibn Qayn to command the right flank of his army, Habib ibn Muzahir to command the left flank and his half-brother Al-Abbas ibn Ali as the standard bearer. There is controversy regarding the date for the day of Ashura in the Gregorian calendar. October 10 is a calculated date through calculators. These calculators however, are not always correct. According to the book Maqtal al-Husayn, Muharram 9th is October 12, 680; if that book is correct Muharram 10th was October 13, 680 AD.
Hussein ibn Ali's companions numbered 32 horsemen and 40 infantrymen. Hussein rode on his horse Zuljanah.
Hussein ibn Ali called the people around him to join him for the sake of God and to defend Muhammad's family. His speech affected Hurr, the commander of the Tamim and Hamdan tribes who had stopped Hussein from his journey. He abandoned Umar ibn Sa'ad and joined Hussein's small band of followers.
On the other side, Yazid had sent Shimr ibn Thil-Jawshan (his chief commander) to replace Umar ibn Sa'ad as the commander.
Umar ibn Sa'ad advanced and fired an arrow at Hussein ibn Ali's army, saying: "Give evidence before the governor that I was the first thrower." Ibn Sa'ad's army started showering Hussein's army with arrows. Hardly any men from Hussein ibn Ali's army escaped from being shot by an arrow. Both sides began fighting. Successive assaults resulted in the death of a group of Hussein ibn Ali's companions.
The first skirmish was between the right flank of Hussein's army with the left of the Syrian army. A couple of dozen men under the command of Zuhayr ibn Qayn fought heroically and repulsed the initial infantry attack and in the process destroyed the left flank of the Syrian army which in disarray collided with the middle of the army. Seeing this, the Syrian army quickly retreated and broke the pre-war verbal agreement of not using arrows and lances. This agreement was made in view of the small number of Hussein ibn Ali's companions. Umar ibn Sa'ad on advice of 'Amr ibn al Hajjaj ordered his army not to come out for any duel and to attack Hussein ibn Ali's army together.
`Amr ibn al-Hajjaj attacked Hussein ibn Ali's right wing, but the men were able to maintain their ground, kneeling down as they planted their lances. They were thus able to frighten the enemy's horses. When the horsemen came back to charge at them again, Hussein's men met them with their arrows, killing some of them and wounding others. `Amr ibn al-Hajjaj kept saying the following to his men, "Fight those who abandoned their creed and who deserted the jam`a!" Hearing him say so, Hussein ibn Ali said to him, "Woe unto you, O `Amr! Are you really instigating people to fight me?! Are we really the ones who abandoned their creed while you yourself uphold it?! As soon as our souls part from our bodies, you will find out who is most worthy of entering the fire!
In order to prevent random and indiscriminate showering of arrows on Hussein ibn Ali's camp which had women and children in it, Hussein's followers went out to single combats. Men like Burayr ibn Khudhayr, Muslim ibn Awsaja and Habib ibn Muzahir were slain in the fighting. They were attempting to save Hussein's life by shielding him. Every casualty had a considerable effect on their military strength since they were vastly outnumbered by Yazid I's army. Hussein's companions were coming, one by one, to say goodbye to him, even in the midst of battle. Almost all of Hussein's companions were killed by the onslaught of arrows or lances.
After almost all of Hussein's companions were killed, his relatives asked his permission to fight. The men of Banu Hashim, the clan of Muhammad and Ali, went out one by one. Ali al-Akbar ibn Husayn, the middle son of Hussein ibn Ali, was the first one of the Hashemite who received permission from his father.
Casualties from Banu Hashim were sons of Ali ibn Abi Talib, sons of Hasan ibn Ali, a son of Hussein ibn Ali, a son of Abdullah ibn Ja'far ibn Abi-Talib and Zaynab bint Ali, sons of Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, as well as a son of Muslim ibn Aqeel. There were seventy-two Hashemites dead in all (including Hussein ibn Ali).
Death of Al-Abbas ibn Ali
|The Al Abbas Mosque in Karbala|
|Shrine to those killed at the battle of Karbala|
Death of Hussein ibn Ali
Hussein advanced very deep in the back ranks of the Syrian army. When the enemies stood between him and the tents he shouted:
"Woe betide you oh followers of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb's dynasty! If no religion has ever been accepted by you and you have not been fearing the resurrection day then be noble in your world, that's if you were Arabs as you claim."Then his enemies invaded back toward him. They continuously attacked each other, Until his numerous injuries caused him to stay a moment. At this time he was hit on his forehead with a stone. He was cleaning blood from his face while he was hit on the heart with arrow and he said: "In the name of Allah, and by Allah, and on the religion of the messenger of Allah." Then he raised his head up and said: "Oh my God! You know that they are killing a man that there is son of daughter of a prophet on the earth except him." He then grasped and pulled the arrow out of his chest, which caused heavy bleeding.
He became very weak and stopped fighting. The soldiers approaching him gave up confrontation, seeing his position. One soldier, however, walked up to Hussein and hit him on his head with his sword.
|Imam Hussain R.A shrine|
Hussein got on his horse and tried to leave, but Yazid's army continued pursuit. According to Shia tradition, a voice came from skies stating: "We are satisfied with your deeds and sacrifices." Hussein then sheathed his sword and tried to get down from the horse but was tremendously injured and so the horse let him down. He then sat against a tree.
Umar ibn Sa'ad ordered a man to dismount and to finish the job. Khowali ibn Yazid al-Asbahiy preceded the man but became afraid and did not do it. Then Shimr ibn Dhiljawshan dismounted his horse and cut Hussein's throat with his sword whilst Hussein was prostrating to God. Just before his throat was about to be cut, Hussein asked Shimr ibn Dhiljawshan, "Have you done your prayers today?" and this shocked Shimr because he did not expect anyone in the position of Hussein to ask such a question. Then Imam Hussain (R.A) asked for the permission to do Namaz-e-Asr (because it was the time of 3rd prayer). Shimir gave the permission to say the prayers and Imam Hussain (R.A) started prayer and when he went into Sajda. Lanti Shimr ibn Dhiljawshan betrayed and said: "I swear by God that I am cutting your head while I know that you are grandson of the messenger of Allah and the best of the people by father and mother" he cut head of Hussein ibn Ali with his sword and raised the head . Then ibn Sa'ad's men looted all the valuables from Hussein's body.
Alternative ending of the battle (Shia perspective)While Hussein was resting against the tree, Shimr knew that Hussein was unable to fight and sent one of his men to go and kill him. The man went and seeing Hussein's eyes, he got extremely scared and ran back to his camp. When Shimr asked why he had not killed Hussein, the man replied that looking into his eyes he saw Muhammad. Angrily, Shimr sent another man. This one was so frightened that he dropped his sword and ran back to his camp. This time when Shimr asked him why he had not killed him, he said he saw into his eyes and saw the angry look of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Shimr was angry, said that he would have to do it himself and wearing his armor, he went to where Hussein was. Using his iron boots he kicked Hussein in the ribs. Hussein fell to the ground, when Shimr sat on top of him. Using a blunt knife, he removed Hussein's head from his body.
The army of Ibn Sa'ad rushed to loot the tents. The daughters of Muhammad's family were expelled from the tents, unveiled and barefooted, while weeping and crying for their slain relatives. The army set all the tents on fire. The women were asking: "By Allah, will you make us pass the site of the murder of Husain?" And when they saw the martyrs and wailed. Then Sakinah bint Husayn (died, 117 AH) embraced her father's body until some people dragged her away.
Umar ibn Sa'ad called volunteering horsemen to trample Hussein's body. Ten horsemen trampled his body such that his chest and back were broken.
AftermathUmar ibn Sa'ad sent Hussein's head to ibn Ziyad on Ashura afternoon and ordered the army to sever the heads of his comrades and to send them to Kufa. The heads were distributed to various tribes enabling them to gain the favor of ibn Ziyad. Ibn Sa'ad remained in Karbala until the next noon.
After ibn Sa'ad's army went out of Karbala, some people from Banu Asad tribe came there and buried their dead, but did not mark any of graves, with the exception of Hussain's which was marked with a simple plant. Later Ali ibn Hussain returned to Karbala to identify the grave sites. Hurr was buried by his tribe a distance away from the battlefield.
On Muharram 11 (October 11, 680 CE), all captives including all women and children were then loaded onto camels with neither saddle nor shade and were moved toward Kufa. As they approached Kufa, its people gathered to see them. Some women of Kufa gathered veils for them after learning that they were relatives of Muhammad. Among the captives were Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-'Abidin, who was gravely ill, as well as Hassan ibn Hassan al-Muthanna, who was seriously injured in the battle of Karbala.
Zaynab bint Ali pointed at the people to be quiet. Then she addressed the people of Kufa:
"The praise is exclusively attributed to Allah. And greetings to my father (grand father), Muhammad, and to his pure and benevolent family. And then, Oh people of Kufa! Oh deceitful and reneger people! Do you weep? So let tears not be dried and let groans not be finished. ... Beware, such a bad preparation you have made for yourself that Allah became furious of you and you will be at punishment forever. Do you weep and cry? Yes, by Allah, do weep numerously and do laugh less! Since you brought its shame and fault on yourself and you will not be able to cleanse it forever. ..."During the journey from Karbala to Kufa, and from Kufa to Damascus, Hussein's sister Zaynab bint Ali and Umm Kulthum bint Ali, and son Ali ibn al-Husayn gave various speeches that exposed the truth about Yazid and told the Muslim world of the various atrocities committed in Karbala. After being brought to Yazid's court, Zaynab courageously gave a famous speech in which she denounced Yazid's claim to the caliphate and eulogized Hussein's uprising.
The prisoners were held in Damascus for a year. During this year, some prisoners died of grief, most notably Sukayna bint Husayn. The people of Damascus began to frequent the prison, and Zaynab and Ali ibn al-Husayn used that as an opportunity to further propagate the message of Hussein and explain to the people the reason for Hussein's uprising. As public opinion against Yazid began to foment in Syria and parts of Iraq, Yazid ordered their release and return to Medina, where they continued to tell the world of Hussein's cause.
Following the Battle of Karbala, Husseins second cousin Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr then confronted Yazid. Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr was the son of a al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam a cousin of Ali and Muhammad and the son of Asma bint Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr's daughter.
Asma’s son, Abdullah, and his cousin, Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, were both grandsons of Abu Bakr and nephews of Aisha. When Hussein ibn Ali was killed in Karbala, Abdullah, who had been Hussein’s friend, collected the people of Mecca and made the following speech:
- “O people! No other people are worse than Iraqis and among the Iraqis, the people of Kufa are the worst. They repeatedly wrote letters and called Imam Hussein to them and took bay’at (allegiance) for his caliphate. But when Ibn Zeyad arrived in Kufa, they rallied around him and killed Imam Hussein who was pious, observed the fast, read the Quran and deserved the caliphate in all respects.”
Yazid tried to end Abdullah’s rebellion by invading the Hejaz, and he took Medina after the bloody Battle of al-Harrah followed by the siege of Mecca. But his sudden death ended the campaign and threw the Umayyads into disarray, with civil war eventually breaking out. This essentially split the Islamic empire into two spheres. After the Umayyad civil war ended, Abdullah lost Egypt and whatever he had of Syria to Marwan I. This, coupled with the Kharijite rebellions in Iraq, reduced his domain to only the Hejaz.
Following the sudden death of Yazid and his son Mu'awiya II took over and then abdicated and died in 683, Ibn al-Zubayr expelled Yazid's forces from most of Arabia. In Syria Marwan ibn Hakim, a cousin of Mu'awiya I, was then declared caliph. Marwan had a short reign dying in 685 but he was succeeded by his able son Abd al-Malik. The Kharijite in Iraq weakened Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and after a battle with the Umayyads in Syria, he was isolated in the Tihamah and the Hejaz regions the Kharijite rebels then established an independent state in central Arabia in 684.
Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr was finally defeated by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who sent Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. Hajjaj was from Ta’if, as were those who had killed Hussein. In his last hour, Abdullah asked his mother Asma what he should do. Asma replied to her son:
- “You know better in your own self that if you are upon the truth and you are calling towards the truth go forth, for people more honorable than you were killed and have been killed, and if you are not upon the truth, then what an evil son you are, you have destroyed yourself and those who are with you. If you say what you say, that you are upon the truth and you will be killed at the hands of others then you will not truly be free, for this is not the statement of someone who is free... How long will you live in this world, death is more beloved to me than this state you are on, this state of weakness.”
- “I did not come to you except to increase myself in knowledge. Look and pay attention to this day, for verily, I am a dead man. Your son never drank wine, nor was he fornicator, nor did he wrong any Muslim or non-Muslim, nor was he unjust. I am not saying this to you to show off or show how pure I am but rather as an honor to you.”
The defeat of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr re-established Umayyad control over the Empire.
A few years later the people of Kufa called Zayd ibn Ali, the grandson of Hussein, over to Kufa. Zaydis believe that in Zayd’s last hour, he was also betrayed by the people of Kufa, who said to him: “May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab?” Zayd ibn Ali said, “I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing either of them, nor saying anything but good about them... When they were entrusted with government, they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah.”
The presence of MuhammadAlthough Muhammad had died before the Battle of Karbala. According to the hadith book compiled by the Sunni scholar Mishkat al-Masabih. Salma went to visit Muhammad's wife Umme Salamah. Finding Umme Salma crying, she asked why was she crying.
"I went to visit Umm Salamah and found her weeping. I asked her what was making her weep and she replied that she had seen Allah's Messenger (meaning in a dream) with dust on his head and beard. She asked him what was the matter and he replied, `I have just been present at the slaying of al-Husayn.'"Her ibtda say pehlay her inetha k bad.
“Zaat-e- Nabi” buland hay “Zaat-e-khuda” k bad.
Dunya main ahtram k kabil hain jitnay lòg.
Main sub ko manta hon magar “Mustafa” k bad.
qatl-e-HUSSAIN” asl main marg-e “Yazeed” hay.
Islam zinda hota hay her karbala k bad.
May Almighty give us strength to follow the foot prints of these pious people to sacrifice our lives for Islam. May Allah guide us all upon the Straight Path and save us from every act which brings His displeasure.