Every year around this time Shi‘a Muslims around the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali(a). The events of the last days of the life of Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husayn(a), have a significant meaning for the Muslim Shi‘a who follow the teachings of the Prophet via his progeny, from Imam Ali(a) to the Imam of our time; the Mahdi(aj).
The story of Karbala started long before the day of Ashura, when Imam Husayn received letters from some personalities of the town of Kufa in Iraq, requesting him to go there and be their leader and Imam. Imam had his doubt about their intention but decided to answer this request. Yazid the impostor caliph and the sworn enemy of the family of the Prophet, came to know about the letters. He threatened and manipulated some weak hearted people of Kufa to hand Imam Husayn over to him and not giving him elegances.
Imam’s family and close followers decided to accompany their Imam and leader on his journey. Imam left Madinah to go to Makkah to perform Hajj pilgrimage, and from there he made his way towards Kufa. It was a long, tiring and difficult journey.
On the way, soldiers of Yazid blocked Imam’s caravan at the plane of Karbala. The people of Kufa betrayed the grandson of their Prophet and sent Imam and his family right into the hands of his enemy. And that is where the bloodiest, most horrific bloodshed of the Prophet relatives started. The day is called Ashura.
Yazid did everything to bring Imam and his followers to their knees, little did he know that bravery and steadfast of Imam would, for centuries, be remembered and cherished, and would put Yazid, his army and followers in the hole of shame.
Yazid blocked the access to the water wells, burned the tents where Imam’s family with tearful eyes witnessed their Imam, their members of family and followers fought against the army of Yazid and in the process, his children and children of his brother Hassan(a) were martyred one by one.
Imam Husayn(a) was the last one to be martyred. Yazid who now felt triumphant ordered for the remaining members of Imam’s family to be gathered and put in shackles as prisoners and to be taken to the city of Kufa and Damascus. The caravan of Imam then consisted of his son, his sister and some other female and children. Almost 72 people were killed that day.
What the remaining family members, including his son and spiritual heir, Imam Ali Zain ul Abeddin(a), women and children, went through during their capture only added another page to the book of sins and disasters imposed by Yazid. He showed his utmost disrespect and humiliation towards Imam’s family. Some misguided people following in his footstep started throwing stones and rubbish towards them.
People saw the family of their Prophet in shackles, being pushed around and disrespected. When they came to realisation as what they have done, and how their betrayal caused that horrific scene, in total disbelief, started crying and weeping, but it was too late, the damage was done.
Every year by commemorating the death of Imam Husayn(a), his family and followers, we renew our bond and love towards them. We say that we would not be like the people of Kufa who abandoned the Imam. We promise to keep alive the pure Islam that he guarded with his blood.