Karbala (/ˈkɑːrbələ/ KAR-bə-lə,[2][3] also US: /ˌkɑːrbəˈlɑː/ KAR-bə-LAH;[4][5] Arabic: كَرْبَلَاء‎, romanizedKarbalāʾ [karbaˈlaːʔ]; Persian: کربلا‎) or Kerbala is a city in central Iraq, located about 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Baghdad, and a few dozen miles east of Lake Milh.[6][7] Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 700,000 people (2015).

The city, best known as the location of the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE, or the Mosques of Imam Husayn and Abbas,[8][9] is considered a holy city for Shi'ite Muslims in the same way as Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Tens of millions of Shi'ite Muslims visit the site twice a year, rivaling Mecca as a place of pilgrimage.[10][11][12][13] The martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali is commemorated annually by millions of Shi'ites.[14][15][16][17] Up to 8 million pilgrims visit the city to observe ‘Āshūrā’ (the tenth day of the month of Muharram), which marks the anniversary of Husayn's death, but the main event is the Arba‘īn (the 40th day after Ashura), where up to 30 million visit the holy graves. Most of the pilgrims travel on foot from all around Iraq and more than 56 countries.[18][19]



The shrines of Abbas and Imam Husayn (below) in Karbala
The shrines of Abbas and Imam Husayn (below) in Karbala
Karbala is located in Iraq
Location in Iraq
Coordinates: 32°37′N 44°02′E / 32.617°N 44.033°E
Settled690 CE
 • Total690,100[1]


There are many opinions among different investigators, as to the origin of the word "Karbala". Some have pointed out that "Karbala" has a connection to the "Karbalato" language, while others attempt to derive the meaning of word "Karbala" by analyzing its spelling and language. They conclude that it originates from the Arabic word "Kar Babel" which was a group of ancient Babylonian villages that included Nainawa, Al-Ghadiriyya, Karbella (Karb Illu. as in Arba Illu [Arbil]), Al-Nawaweess, and Al-Heer. This last name is today known as Al-Hair and is where Husayn ibn Ali's grave is located.

The investigator Yaqut al-Hamawy had pointed out that the meaning of "Karbala" could have several explanations, one of which is that the place where Husayn ibn Ali was martyred is made of soft earth—"Al-Karbalat".

According to Shi'ite belief, the archangel Gabriel narrated the true meaning of the name Karbalā’ to Muhammad: a combination of karb (Arabic: كَرْب‎, the land which will cause many agonies) and balā’ (Arabic: بَلَاء‎, afflictions)."[20]


Karbala experiences a hot desert climate (BWh in the Koeppen climate classification) with extremely hot, long, dry summers and mild winters. Almost all of the yearly precipitation is received between November and April, though no month is wet.


Battle of Karbala

Destruction of the Tomb of Husain at Kerbela
Destruction of the Tomb of Husain at Karbala on the orders of Caliph al-Mutawakkil.

The Battle of Karbala was fought on the bare deserts on the way to Kufa on October 10, 680  (10 Muharram 61 AH). Both Husayn ibn Ali and his brother Abbas ibn Ali were buried by the local Banī Asad tribe, at what later became known as the Mashhad Al-Husayn. The battle itself occurred as a result of Husain's refusal of Yazid I's demand for allegiance to his caliphate. The Kufan governor, Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad, sent thirty thousand horsemen against Husayn as he traveled to Kufa. The horsemen, under 'Umar ibn Sa'd, were ordered to deny Husayn and his followers water in order to force Husayn to agree to give an oath of allegiance. On the 9th of Muharram, Husayn refused, and asked to be given the night to pray. On 10 Muharram, Husayn ibn Ali prayed the morning prayer and led his troops into battle along with his brother Abbas. Many of Husayn's followers, including all of his present sons Ali Akbar, Ali Asghar (six months old) and his nephews Qassim, Aun and Muhammad were killed.[22]

In 63 AH (682 ), Yazid ibn Mu'awiya released the surviving members of Husayn's family from prison. On their way to the Mecca, they stopped at the site of the battle. There is record of Sulayman ibn Surad going on pilgrimage to the site as early as 65 AH (685 CE). The city began as a tomb and shrine to Husayn and grew as a city in order to meet the needs of pilgrims. The city and tombs were greatly expanded by successive Muslim rulers, but suffered repeated destruction from attacking armies. The original shrine was destroyed by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850 but was rebuilt in its present form around 979, only to be partly destroyed by fire in 1086 and rebuilt yet again.

Early modern

Like Najaf, the city suffered from severe water shortages that were only resolved in the early 18th century by building a dam at the head of the Husayniyya Canal. In 1737, the city replaced Isfahan in Iran as the main centre of Shia scholarship. In the mid-eighteenth century it was dominated by the dean of scholarship, Yusuf Al Bahrani, a key proponent of the Akhbari tradition of Shia thought, until his death in 1772,[23] after which the more state-centric Usuli school became more influential.

The Wahhabi sack of Karbala occurred in 21 April 1802 (1216 Hijri) (1801),[24] under the rule of Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad the second ruler of the First Saudi State, when 12,000 Wahhabi Muslims from Najd attacked the city of Karbala.[25] The attack was coincident with the anniversary of Ghadir Khum event,[26] or 10 Muharram.[27] This fight left 3,000–5,000 deaths and the dome of the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad and son of Ali bin Abi Talib,[27] was destroyed. The fight lasted for 8 hours.[28]

After the First Saudi State invasion, the city enjoyed semi-autonomy during Ottoman rule, governed by a group of gangs and mafia variously allied with members of the 'ulama. In order to reassert their authority, the Ottoman army laid siege to the city. On January 13, 1843 Ottoman troops entered the city. Many of the city leaders fled leaving defense of the city largely to tradespeople. About 3,000 Arabs were killed in the city, and another 2,000 outside the walls (this represented about 15% of the city's normal population). The Turks lost 400 men.[29] This prompted many students and scholars to move to Najaf, which became the main Shia religious centre.[30] Between 1850 and 1903, Karbala enjoyed a generous influx of money through the Oudh Bequest. The Shia-ruled Indian Province of Awadh, known by the British as Oudh, had always sent money and pilgrims to the holy city. The Oudh money, 10 million rupees, originated in 1825 from the Awadh Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider. One third was to go to his wives, and the other two-thirds went to holy cities of Karbala and Najaf. When his wives died in 1850, the money piled up with interest in the hands of the British East India Company. The EIC sent the money to Karbala and Najaf per the wives' wishes, in the hopes of influencing the Ulama in Britain's favor. This effort to curry favor is generally considered to have been a failure.[31]

Karbala 07402u
Mosque in Karbala (1932)

On April 14, 2007, a car bomb exploded about 600 ft (180 m) from the shrine, killing 47[32] and wounding over 150.

On January 19, 2008, 2 million Iraqi Shia pilgrims marched through Karbala city, Iraq to commemorate Ashura. 20,000 Iraqi troops and police guarded the event amid tensions due to clashes between Iraqi troops and Shia which left 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).[33]

Religious Tourism

Karbala, alongside Najaf, is considered a thriving tourist destination for Shia Muslims and the tourism industry in the city boomed after the end of Saddam Hussein's rule.[34] Some religious tourism attractions include:


Airports in Karbala include:[37]

Religious beliefs

Mesopotamia in the Quran

A map of Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BCE, showing Nineveh (the township of Yunus)),[40][41][42] Qattara (or Karana), Dūr-Katlimmu, Assur, Arrapha, Terqa, Nuzi, Mari, Eshnunna, Dur-Kurigalzu, Der, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Susa, Borsippa, Nippur, Isin, Uruk, Larsa and Ur, from north to south. Note the relative proximity of Babylon and Sippar to Lake Milh, which is near Karbala.[6][7]

Some Shi'ites consider this verse of the Quran to refer to Iraq, land of the Shi'ite sacred sites of Kufah,[43][44] Najaf, Karbala, Kadhimiyyah[a] and Samarra,[46][47] since the Monotheistic preachers Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and Lūṭ (Lot),[48] who are regarded as Prophets in Islam,[49] are believed to have lived in the ancient Iraqi city of Ur,[50] before going to The Blessed Land".[51]

But we delivered him (Ibrahim) and Lut (from their Polytheistic opponents), and directed them to the land which we have blessed for the Worlds.

— Qur'an, [Quran 21:71]

Aside from the story of Abraham and Lot in Polytheistic[52] Mesopotamia,[50][51] there are passages in the Quran about Mount Judi,[53][54][55] Babil[56][57] and Qaryat Yunus ("Town of Jonah").[40][41][42]


There are many Shi'ite traditions which narrate the status of Karbala:

"Karbala, where your grandson and his family will be killed, is the most blessed and sacred land on Earth, and it is one of the valleys of Paradise."[58]

— The archangel Gabriel

"God chose the land of Karbala as a safe and blessed sanctuary, twenty-four thousand years before He created the land of the Ka'bah and chose it as a sanctuary. Verily it [Karbala] will shine among the gardens of Paradise, like a shining star shines among the stars for the people of Earth."[59]

"Not one night passes in which Gabriel and Michael do not go to visit him [Husayn]."[60]

Thus the tomb of the martyred Imam has acquired this great significance in Shi'ite tradition because the Imam and his fellow martyrs are seen as models of jihad in the way of God. Shi'ites believe that Karbala is one of the holiest places on Earth according to the following traditions (among others):

Karbala, where your grandson and his family will be martyred, is one of the most blessed and the most sacred lands on Earth, and it is one of the valleys of Paradise.

God chose the land of Karbalā’ as a safe and blessed sanctuary twenty-four thousand years before He created the land of the Ka'bah and chose it as a sanctuary. Verily it (Karbala) will shine among the gardens of Paradise like a shining star shines among the stars for the people of Earth.

  • In this regard, Ja'far al-Sadiq narrates, 'Allah, the Almighty, has made the dust of my ancestor's grave – Imam Husain (a.s.) as a cure for every sickness and safety from every fear.'[62]
  • It is narrated from Ja'far that: "The earth of the pure and holy grave of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (a.s) is a pure and blessed musk. For those who consume it, it is a cure for every ailment, and if our enemy uses it then he will melt the way fat melts, when you intend to consume that pure earth recite the following supplication"[63]
  • The famous quote: "Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala."



Karbalaa FC is a football club based in Karbala.


There are many references in books in films to "Karbala", generally referring to Husayn's death at the Battle of Karbala. Husayn is often depicted on a white horse impaled by arrows. There are films and documentaries about the events of Karbala in both animated and realistic form (see external links "Karbala: When the Skies Wept Blood"; "Safar-e-Karbala").

Video footage of the actual city exists in a British documentary entitled "Saddam's Killing Fields."[64] The documentary shows the March 1991 destruction of the city by Saddam's army through the video camera of two brothers who lived in the city.


Hawza are the Islamic education institutions that are run collectively by mujtahid or Allamas to teach Shia Muslims and guide them through the rigorous journey of becoming and Alim. In terms of the hawaz in Karbala, After the death of a renowned Alama, the Sayyid Muhammad, the leadership in terms of teacher shifted to taqlid to mujtahid. This was a significant factor that lead to the leadership of Ulama to reside in Karbala and as well as Najaf. Initially Karbala's hawza (Islamic education institution) consisted mostly of Iranians and Turkish Ulama. After the death of Sharif-ul-Ulama Mazandarani in 1830 and the repression of the shia population by the Ottomans in 1843 both played an important role in the relocation of many Ulamas and thus Najaf becoming the center of Shia Islamic leadership in education.[65]

As of now, there are two universities in Karbala. University of Karbala, which was inaugurated on March 1, 2002, is one of the top most universities in Iraq regarding academic administration, human resources, and scientific research.[66] The Ahlulbait International University was founded in September 2003 by Dr. Mohsen Saleh Mohammed Baqir al-Qazwini. The university has three major focuses: Faculty of Law, Arts, and Islamic Law. Other majors of education such as medicine, agriculture, informatics etc. are still in the developing stages.[67]

Warith al-Anbiya University in Karbala, has recently been established under a project of Husayn Holy Shrine, having the faculties of engineering, administration, economics, law and pathology, which is ready to receive students for the first academic year 2017–2018.[68]

Indian subcontinent

In the Indian subcontinent, Karbala, apart from meaning the city of Karbala (which is usually referred to as Karbala-e-Mualla meaning Karbala the exalted), also means local grounds where commemorative processions end and/or ta'zīya are buried during Ashura or Arba'een, usually such grounds will have shabeeh (copy) of Rauza or some other structures.[69][70]

In South Asia where ta'zīya refer to specifically to the miniature mausoleums used in processions held in Muharram. It all started from the fact that the great distance of India from Karbala prevented Indian Shi'is being buried near the tomb of Husayn or making frequent pilgrimages (ziyarat) to the tomb. This is the reason why Indian Shi'is established local karbalas on the subcontinent by bringing soil from Karbala and sprinkling it on lots designated as future cemeteries. Once the karbalas were established on the subcontinent, the next step was to bring Husayn's tomb-shrine to India. This was established by building replicas of Husayn's mausoleum called ta'zīya to be carried in Muharram processions. Thousands of ta'zīyas in various shapes and sizes are made every year for the months of mourning of Muharram and Safar; and are carried in processions and may be buried at the end of Ashura or Arbain.[71]

See also


  1. ^ Kadhimyyah used to be a township of its own, but is now a part of the city of Baghdad.[45]


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Further reading

Published in the 19th century

  • Louis de Sivry, ed. (1859). "Karbala". Dictionnaire geographique, historique, descriptif, acheologique des pèlerinages anciens et modernes (in French). Paris.

Published in the 20th century

  • "Kerbela", The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910, OCLC 14782424

Published in the 21st century

  • C. Edmund Bosworth, ed. (2007). "Karbala". Historic Cities of the Islamic World. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill.
  • Michael R.T. Dumper; Bruce E. Stanley, eds. (2008), "Karbala", Cities of the Middle East and North Africa, Santa Barbara, USA: ABC-CLIO

External links

2003 Karbala bombings

The 2003 Karbala bombings consisted of four suicide attacks on the coalition military barracks in Karbala, Iraq, 110 kilometres (68 mi) south of Baghdad on December 27, 2003.

The attackers targeted two coalition bases and a downtown Iraqi police station where U.S. military police were stationed. All of the attacks occurred within a 20-minute span.

2004 Karbala and Najaf bombings

The 19 December 2004 Karbala and Najaf bombings were car bombings that tore through a funeral procession in Najaf and through the main bus station in nearby Karbala—two Shia holy cities. 66 people were killed and 191 wounded.

2008 Karbala bombing

The 2008 Karbala bombing occurred on 17 March 2008 in Karbala, Iraq.

The suicide bomb detonated outside a cafe near the shrine. The bombings killed at least 22 people and injured 30. The dead include seven Iranians.

2011 Karbala bombing

The 2011 Karbala bombing was an attack that took place in the city of Karbala on the 25 September 2011. A car bomb exploded next to a crowded identity card office early in the morning and as people gathered to help injured in the first attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives. News reports indicated that at least 25 perished in the twin blasts, with many other injured and in serious condition.

Abbas ibn Ali

Al-Abbas ibn Ali (Arabic: العباس بن علي‎, romanized: al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī), also known as Qamar Banī Hāshim (Arabic: قمر بني هاشم) (the moon of Banu Hashim) (born 4th Sha‘bān 26 AH – 10 Muharram 61 AH; approximately May 15, 647 – October 10, 680), was a son of Ali (who was the first Imam of Shia Muslims and the fourth Caliph of Sunni Muslims), and Fatima bint Hizam, commonly known as Mother of the Sons (Arabic: أم البنين‎).

Abbas, also known as Abbas Alamdar, is highly revered by Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims for his loyalty to his brother Husain, his respect for the Household of Muhammad, and his role in the Battle of Karbala. Abbas is buried in the Shrine of Abbas in Karbala, Karbala Governorate, Iraq, where he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura. He was praised for his "handsome looks" and was also well known in the Arab community for his courage, bravery, strength and ferocity as a warrior. Ibn Manzur narrates in his al-Ayn that Al-Abbas was the "lion that other lions feared" as a testament to his accolades as a warrior. Sheikh at-Turaihi describes Abbas's appearance as resembling an unshakable mountain, with his heart firmly rooted, due to his qualities as a "unique horseman" and a "fearless hero".


Arba'een (Arabic: الأربعين‎, romanized: al-Arba‘īn, lit. 'forty'), Chehlom (Persian: چهلم‎, Urdu: چہلم‎, "the fortieth day") is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, who was killed on the 10th day of the month of Muharram. Imam Husayn ibn Ali and 72 of his companions were killed by Yazid's army in the Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 CE).

Arba'een or forty days is also the usual length of mourning after the death of a family member or loved one in many Muslim traditions. Arba'een is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which up to 45 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq.The significance of the number 40 has roots in a saying (hadith) of Muhammad: "On the day of judgment, among my people, God will consider whoever memorized forty Hadiths as an erudite man". Numerous Islamic scholars have gathered collections of forty hadith, quoting from the prophet and the Imams who followed him in Shia Islam.

Arba'een Pilgrimage

The Arba'een Pilgrimage is the world's largest annual public gathering that is held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali's in 680. Anticipating Arba'een, or the fortieth day of the martyrdom, the pilgrims make their journey to Karbala on foot, where Husayn and his companions were martyred and beheaded by the army of Yazid I in the Battle of Karbala.The number of participants in the annual pilgrimage reached 20 million or more by 2016. On the routes of the pilgrimage, food, accommodation and other services are provided for free by volunteers. Husayn is believed to transcend all cultural boundaries and be a symbol of universal freedom and compassion.Some of the pilgrims make their journey from cities as far as Basra, about 500 kilometres (310 mi) away by road. The ritual has been described as "an overwhelmingly powerful display of Shia belief and solidarity". Iran and Shias however have criticized mainstream media for ignoring the event.


Yom Ashura or Ashura (Arabic: عاشوراء‎, romanized: ʻĀshūrā’ [ʕaːʃuːˈraːʔ]) is the tenth day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. It marks the day that Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. Ashura is a major holiday and occasion for pilgrimage and fasting in Shia Islam, as well as a recommended but non-obligatory day of fasting in Sunni Islam. Ashura has origins in Yom Kippur from Judaism.Ashura marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram, the annual commemoration of the death of Husayn and his family and supporters at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (in AHt: October 10, 680 CE). Mourning for the incident began almost immediately after the battle. Popular elegies were written by poets to commemorate the Battle of Karbala during the Umayyad and Abbasid era, and the earliest public mourning rituals occurred in 963 CE during the Buyid dynasty.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Pakistan Ashura has become a national holiday, and many ethnic and religious communities participate in it.For Sunni Muslims, Ashura also marks the day that Moses and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Sea or Noah leaving the Ark.

Battle of Karbala

The Battle of Karbala was fought on 10 October 680 (10 Muharram in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar) between the army of the second Umayyad caliph Yazid I and a small army led by Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, at Karbala, Iraq.

Prior to his death, the Umayyad caliph Muawiyah I had nominated his son Yazid as his successor. Yazid's nomination was not generally seen as favorable by the community, as he was widely viewed as un-Islamic and had adopted the practices of the Age of Ignorance. Upon Muawiyah's death in 680 CE, Yazid sought to legitimize his rule by demanding that Husayn, Muhammad's grandson, pledge allegiance to him. Husayn did not give allegiance to Yazid and traveled towards Kufa. The people of Kufa were averse of the Syria-based Umayyad rule and had a long-standing attachment to the house of Ali (Husayn's father). As Husayn traveled towards Kufa with a retinue of some 70 men, his caravan was intercepted by a 1,000 strong army of the caliph at some distance from Kufa and pushed north. He was forced to pitch tents in the plain of Karbala on 2 October, where a larger army of 4,000 arrived soon afterwards. Negotiations failed after the Umayyad governor Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad refused to let Husayn go without submitting to his authority, a condition declined by Husayn. Battle ensued on 10 October in which Husayn was killed along with most of his relatives and companions, while his family were taken prisoner. The battle was followed by the Second Islamic Civil War, during which the Iraqis organized two separate campaigns to avenge the death of Husayn; the first one by the Tawwabin and the other one by Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and his supporters.

The Battle of Karbala galvanized the development of the pro-Alid party (Shi'at Ali) into a unique religious sect with its own rituals and collective memory. It has a central place in the Shi'a history, tradition, and theology, and has frequently been recounted in the Shi'a literature. For the Shi'a, Husayn's suffering and death became a symbol of sacrifice in the struggle for right against wrong, and for justice and truth against injustice and falsehood. It also provides the members of the Shi'a faith with a catalog of heroic norms. The battle is commemorated during an annual ten-day period during Muharram by Shi'a, culminating on tenth day of the month, known as the Day of Ashura. During this period, Shi'a Muslims mourn, hold public processions, organize religious gathering, beat their chests and in some cases self-flagellate. Sunni Muslims likewise regard the incident as a historical tragedy; Husayn and his companions are widely regarded as martyrs by both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.

Dasht-e Karbala Darreh Dahak

Dasht-e Karbala Darreh Dahak (Persian: دشت كربلادره دهك‎, also Romanized as Dasht-e Karbalā Darreh Dahak; also known as Dasht-e Karbalā and Karbalā’) is a village in Mishan Rural District, Mahvarmilani District, Mamasani County, Fars Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its existence was noted, but its population was not reported.

Family tree of Ali

Alī ibn Abī Tālib (Arabic: عَـلِي ابـن أَﺑِﻲ طَـالِـب‎, 599 – 661 ACE) was an early Islamic leader. Ali is revered by Sunni Muslims as the last of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs, and as a foremost religious authority on the Qur'an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Shi'a Muslims consider him the First Imam appointed by the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the first rightful caliph. Ali was the cousin of Muhammad, and after marriage to Fatimah he also became Muhammad's son-in-law. His descendants through Fatimah are revered today in Shia Islam as Imams, Sharifs or Sayyids.

His father was Abu Talib and his mother was Fatima bint Asad, but he was raised in the household of Muhammad, who himself was raised by Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle. When Muhammad reported receiving a divine revelation, Ali was the first child to accept his message and first to convert to Islam at the age of 12, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.In Muslim culture, Ali is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty to Islam, deep loyalty to Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies, and therefore is central to mystical traditions in Islam such as Sufism. Ali retains his stature as an authority on Quranic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and religious thought. Ali holds a high position in almost all Sufi orders which trace their lineage through him to Muhammad. Ali's influence has been important throughout Islamic history.

Husayn ibn Ali

Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (Arabic: ٱلْحُسَيْن ابْن عَلِي ابْن أَبِي طَالِب‎, romanized: al-Ḥusayn ʾibn ʿAlī ʾibn ʾAbī Ṭālib‎; 10 January 626 – 10 October 680) was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Shia Imam and the fourth Rightly Guided Caliph of Sunni Islam) and Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. He is an important figure in Islam as he was a member of the Household of Muhammad (Ahl al-Bayt) and the People of the Cloak (Ahl al-Kisā'), as well as the third Shia Imam.

Prior to his death, the Umayyad ruler Mu'awiya appointed his son Yazid as his successor, contrary to the Hasan-Muawiya treaty. When Muawiya died in 680 CE, Yazid demanded that Husayn pledge allegiance to him. Husayn refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid, even though it meant sacrificing his life. As a consequence, he left Medina, his hometown, to take refuge in Mecca in AH 60. There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, asking his help and pledging their allegiance to him. So he traveled towards Kufa, but near Karbala his caravan was intercepted by Yazid's army. He was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala on 10 October 680 (10 Muharram 61 AH) by Yazid, along with most of his family and companions, including Husayn's six month old son, Ali al-Asghar, with the women and children taken as prisoners. Anger at Husayn's death was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine the Umayyad caliphate's legitimacy, and ultimately its overthrow by the Abbasid Revolution.The annual commemoration of Husayn and his children, family and companions occurs during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and the day he was martyred is known as Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram, a day of mourning for Shi'i Muslims). Husayn's actions at Karbala fueled later Shi'a movements, and his death was decisive in shaping Islamic and Shi'a history. The timing of Husayn's life and death were crucial as they were in one of the most challenging periods of the seventh century. During this time, Umayyad oppression was rampant, and the stand that Husayn and his followers took became a symbol of resistance inspiring future uprisings against oppressors and injustice. Throughout history, many notable personalities, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, have cited Husayn's stand against oppression as an example for their own fights against injustice.

Imam Husayn Shrine

The Imam Husain Shrine or the Station of Imam Husayn ibn Ali (Arabic: مَقـام الإمـام الـحـسـيـن ابـن عـلي‎, romanized: Maqām al-Imām al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī) is the mosque and burial site of Husayn ibn Ali, the third Imam of Shia Islam, in the city of Karbala’, Iraq. It stands on the site of the Mausoleum of Husayn, who was a grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala’ in 680 C.E. The tomb of Husayn is one of the holiest places for Shi‘ites, outside of Mecca and Medina, and many make pilgrimages to the site. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the city to observe Ashura, which marks the anniversary of Husayn's death. Every year for Arba'een rituals that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura up to 45 million people go to the city of Karbala.

Karbala (Cappadocia)

Karbala was a town of ancient Cappadocia, inhabited in Byzantine times. It is noted as the birthplace of Gregory of Nazianzus.

Its site is located near Güzelyurt, Asiatic Turkey.

Karbala Governorate

Karbala Governorate (Arabic: كربلاء‎ Karbalāʾ) is a governorate in central Iraq. Its administrative center is the city of Karbala, a holy city for Shia Muslims for housing the shrine of the revered Imam Hussein. The population is 100% Shia. The governorate includes part of the artificial Lake Milh.

Karbala stampede

The Karbala stampede occurred on 10 September 2019, 31 people were killed and approximately 100 more were injured in a human stampede during Ashura processions in Karbala, Iraq. There are conflicting accounts of what caused the stampede, one claimed that a walkway collapsed, leading the crowd to panic. Another account stated that one person tripped and fell among the runners and others fell over him.

List of casualties in Husayn's army at the Battle of Karbala

This article contains the list of casualties of Husayn ibn Ali's companions in the Battle of Karbala. The battle took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 AD) in Karbala, situated in present-day Iraq.The battle was between cruel Yazid's army from Syria reinforced by troops from Kufa, and the caravan of families and friends of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is claimed that 72 men (including Husayn's 6 months old baby son) of Husayn's companions were killed by the forces of Yazid I.

Mourning of Muharram

The Mourning of Muharram (also known as the Remembrance of Muharram or Muharram Observances) is a set of rituals associated with Shia Muslims; and all believers in Islam , as well as some non-Muslims, also take part in the remembrance. The commemoration falls in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Many of the events associated with the ritual take place in congregation halls known as Hussainia.

The event marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, when Imam Hussein ibn Ali, a grandson of Muhammad, was killed by the forces of the second Umayyad caliph. Family members and companions accompanying him were killed or subjected to humiliation. The commemoration of this event during the yearly mourning season, with the Day of Ashura as the focal date, serves to define Shia communal identity. Muharram observances are carried out in countries with a sizable Shia population.

Both Sunni and Shia Muslims mourn during Muharram, although Sunnis do so to a much lesser extent. Storytelling, weeping, self-flagellation, and re-enactments of the Battle of Karbala form the crux of the observances.

Zaynab bint Ali

Zaynab bint ʿAli (Arabic: الـسَّـيّـدة زَيـنـب بـنـت عـلي‎, Also: 'Zainab') was the daughter of the Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatimah bint Muhammad. The Islamic Nabi (Arabic: نَـبِي‎, Prophet) Muhammad was her maternal grandfather, and thus she is a member of his Bayt (Arabic: بَـيـت‎, Household). Therefore, she is often revered not only for her characteristics and actions, but also for her membership in, and continuation of, the biological line of Muhammad. Like other members of her family she became a great figure of sacrifice, strength, and piety in Islam – in the Sunni and Shia sects of the religion.

Zaynab married ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far, and had three sons and two daughters with him. When her brother, Husayn, fought against Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah in 680 CE (61 AH), Zaynab accompanied him. She played an important role in protecting her nephew, ‘Ali ibn Al-Husayn, and because of this, she became known as the "Heroine of Karbala". Zaynab died in 681 CE, and her Masjid is located in Damascus, Syria.

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Climate data for Karbala
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.6
Average low °C (°F) 5.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 17.6
Average precipitation days 7 5 6 5 3 0 0 0 0 4 5 7 42
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)[21]
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