نبرد کربلا جنگی بود که در دهم محرم ۶۱ هجری قمری (۲۰ مهر ۵۹ خورشیدی برابر ۱۰ اکتبر ۶۸۰ میلادی) اتفاق افتاد. روز نبرد به عاشورا نیز معروف است. این نبرد میان سپاه کم تعداد حسین بن علی (نوه دختری پیامبر اسلام) و سپاه اعزامی از سوی یزید بن معاویه (دومین پادشاه دودمان اموی) در نزدیکی محلی به نام کربلا (در عراق کنونی) درگرفت. دلیل یزید بن معاویه برای جنگ، بیعت نکردن حسین بن علی با او بود. حسین بن علی (امام سوم شیعیان) نیز حکومت و زمامداری یزید بن معاویه را غیرشرعی و غیرقانونی میدانست که بر خلاف پیمان صلح حسن بن علی و معاویه پسر ابوسفیان به شکلی مورثی به یزید اول رسیده بود.
حسین بن علی روز دوم محرم به کربلا رسید و روز سوم عمر بن سعد با ۴۰۰۰ نفر در کربلا اردو زد. در روز هفتم محرم آب را بر حسین بن علی و همراهانش بستند و در نهم محرم، شمر با ۴۰۰۰ نفر و نامهای از طرف عبیدالله بن زیاد وارد کربلا شد، او در این نامه به عمر بن سعد دستور داده بود با حسین بن علی بجنگند و او را بکشد و اگر این کار از دست او برنمیآید، فرماندهی را به شمر واگذارد.
روز دهم محرم سپاهیان حسین بن علی و عمر سعد در مقابل هم قرار گرفتند. به روایت ابومخنف تعداد سپاه حسین ۳۲ سواره نظام و ۴۰ پیاده و به روایت محمد باقر چهل و پنج سوار و صد نفر پیاده بود. در مقابل او سپاه عمر بن سعد با حدود ۳۰۰۰۰ نفر قرار داشت. جنگ آغاز شد و حسین و یارانش کشته شدند. پس از جان باختن حسین، سپاه عمر بن سعد سر ۷۲ تن از لشکریان حسین به علاوه سر علی اصغر فرزند ۶ ماهه که از شدّت تشنگی در حال مرگ بود او را با تیری سه شعبه جدا کرده و بر بالای نیزهها گذاشتند و بر اجساد کشته شدگان اسب تاختند.
خیمهها تاراج و در نهایت آتش زده شد، ساربان شترهای کاروان حسین بن علی بهنام بجدل بن سلیم برای بدستآوردن انگشتر حسین بن علی، انگشت وی را برید تا انگشتر را بدست آورد و در نهایت سپاه عمر بن سعد اجساد کشتهشدگان کربلا را در بیابان رها کرد و این اجساد پس از سه روز توسط قوم بنیاسد دفن شدند.
پس از رویداد کربلا تعدادی از زنان و کودکان وابسته به سپاه حسین بن علی، اسیر و زندانی شده و با گذراندن آنها از بازار و مکانهای شلوغ آنها را مورد اهانت قرار دادند آنان را به شام محل زمامداری یزید بن معاویه فرستادند. از دیدگاه مسلمانان کشته شدگان در نبرد کربلا شهید تلقی میگردند. پس از این نبرد حسین بن علی ملقب به لقب سیدالشهداء (سرور و آقای همه شهیدان) گردید.
هر چند به لحاظ نظامی ابعاد این نبرد بزرگ نبودهاست اما اثر اعتقادی و سیاسی بزرگی داشتهاست. نبرد کربلا یک واقعه تاریخی و اساسی در سنت و رسم شیعیان و تاریخ این مذهب محسوب میگردد. این درگیری هر ساله و به تناوب با برگزاری یادمانها و عزاداریها روایت و حکایت میشود. این رویداد از یک سو سبب تضعیف مشروعیت سیاسی حکومت بنی امیه شدهاست. بهطوریکه پس از آن قیامهای فراوانی با شعار خونخواهی حسین بر ضد آن حکومت رخ داد و در نهایت منجر به سقوط آن شد. از سوی دیگر نقشی چشمگیر بر هویت اجتماعی و اعتقادی شیعیان طی سدههای بعد تا به امروز داشتهاست.
شیعیان معتقد هستند فداکاری حسین بن علی و رسالت نبرد کربلا به فرمان الهی بودهاست و این رخداد تاریخی را لازمه بیدار شدن و آگاه شدن امت اسلامی و توقف غصب خلافت مسلمین به وسیله یزید میدانند.
حسین بن علی هنگام زمامداری پدرش، او را در جنگهای جمل و صفین و نهروان همراهی کرد. سال ۵۰ هجری قمری هنگام کشتهشدن برادرش حسن بن علی، معاویه حدود ۱۰ سال بهعنوان خلیفه باقی بود. بر پایه قرارداد صلح با حسن، طبق بند دوم صلحنامه معاویه نمیبایست برای خود جانشینی انتخاب کند.
به روایت سلیم پسر قیس یک سال پیش از مرگ معاویه در حج سال ۵۹ هجری قمری حسین بنی هاشم، دویست نفر از اصحاب پیامبر و پانصد نفر از تابعان را در مِنی در خیمه خود گرد آورد. احادیث پیامبر مشتمل بر نصب علی به خلافت در غدیر خم و شأن و جایگاه اهل بیت را به یادشان آورد و آنان بر آن اقرار کردند و نیز از معاویه و ستمش انتقاد کرد. سپس با آنان پیمان بست که این مطالب را به خاندان و قبایل خود برسانند.
معاویه در نیمه رجب سال ۶۰ هجری قمری مرد و پسرش یزید را به جانشینی برگزید. حسین بن علی از همان نخست بیعت وی را نپذیرفت. یزید نامهای به حاکم ولید پسر عتبه حاکم مدینه نوشت و به او دستور داد که از حسین بن علی، عبدالله پسر عمر و عبدالله پسر زبیر برای یزید بیعت بگیرد و اگر حاضر به بیعت نشدند آنها را بکشد. حاکم مدینه در اجرای فرمان سستی کرد و یزید عمرو پسر سعید پسر عاص را به جایش گماشت. حسین که حاضر به بیعت با یزید نبود با خانواده خود شب بیست و هشت رجب از مدینه به مکه رفتند.
در این هنگام مردم کوفه که از مرگ معاویه با خبر شدهبودند نامههای زیادی برای حسین بن علی نوشتند و از او خواستند تا به عراق و کوفه بیاید. حسین بن علی نیز مسلم بن عقیل را به کوفه فرستاد. ابتدا هزاران نفر از مردم کوفه با مسلم بن عقیل همراه شدند. اما با ورود عبیداللّه پسر زیاد که از سوی یزید به حکومت کوفه گمارده شدهبود و مردم کوفه را تهدید کردهبود، مسلم را تنها گذاشتند.[نیازمند منبع] عبیداللّه، مسلم بن عقیل را دستگیر کرد و کشت. حسین با خانواده و یاران خود بهسمت کوفه حرکت کرد و در نزدیکی کوفه بود که خبر پیمانشکنی مردم کوفه و کشتهشدن مسلم را آوردند.
عبیداللّه که بر اوضاع کوفه مسلط شدهبود حر پسر یزید ریاحی را برای دستگیرکردن حسین بن علی و همراهانش فرستاد و سپس عمر بن سعد را با ۳۰٬۰۰۰ نفر به کربلا فرستاد. این امر موجب شد تا شمار زیادی از افرادی که با حسین بودند او را رها کنند و تنها نزدیک به ۷۰ تن با او باقی بمانند. عبیداللّه به عمر بن سعد وعده دادهبود که اگر حسین بن علی را بکشد، او را فرمانده ری خواهد کرد؛ اما پس از این ماجرا این کار را نکرد.
تعداد سپاهیانی که ابن زیاد گسیل کرد در منابع مختلف از دست کم ۴۰۰۰ نفر و در برخی گزارشها تا ۸۰۰۰۰ نفر برآورد شدهاست. یکی از منابع شیعه ترکیب سپاه را به شرح زیر بیان کردهاست:
در کل: ۳۱٬۰۰۰ نفر
سپاه حسین بن علی[ویرایش]
بنا بر نقل سید بن طاووس، در کتاب لهوف، صبح عاشورا ابتدا حسین بریر پسر خضیر از زاهدان نامدار کوفه را جهت موعظه جانب لشکر عمر سعد فرستاد، ولی آنان اعتنا نکردند. سپس خود به نزد آنان رفت تا اتمام حجت کند. او گفت مرا بین دو چیز مخیر کردهاند. یا بجنگم یا ذلت پذیرم و با یزید بیعت کنم، ولی ذلت از ما دور است؛ لذا با شما میجنگم.
سپس سپاه عمر سعد جنگ را آغاز کرد. این حمله با تیراندازی عمر سعد به طرف اردوگاه حسین بن علی آغاز شد. شمر هم به نیروهای خود دستور داد که حملهای گروهی بکنند و سپاه حسین را نابود کنند. همه گردانهای سپاه کوفه در این حمله شرکت داشتند. یاران حسین هم در مقابل این هجوم تلاش کردند که از خود دفاع کنند[نیازمند منبع] و نیمی از یاران او (غیر از بنی هاشم) در این حمله نخست کشته شدند. شمار کشتهشدگان این حمله را ۴۱ تن گفتهاند. شماری از آنان (غیر از ۱۰ نفر از غلامان حسین و دودمانش و ۲ تن از غلامان علی)، عبارتاند از:
نعیم بن عجلان، عمران بن کعب، حنظله، قاسط، کنانه، عمرو بن مشیعه، ضرغامه، عامربن مسلم، سیف بن مالک، عبدالرحمان درجی، مجمع عائذی، حباب بن حارث، عمرو جندعی، حلاس بن عمرو، سوار بن ابی عمیر، عمار بن ابی سلامه، نعمان بن عمر، زاهر بنعمر، جبلة بن علی، مسعود بن حجاج، عبدالله بن عروه، زهیر بن سلیم، عبدالله و عبیدالله پسران زید بصری.
جنگ گروهی و تن به تن تا نماز ظهر ادامه یافت. هنگام نماز حسین به زهیر بن قین و سعید بن عبدالله حنفی دستور داد با نیمی از یاران در مقابل او صف بکشند تا بتواند به نماز بایستد. دشمن در هنگام نماز آنها را تیرباران کرد. سعید بدن خود را سپر قرار داد و کشته شد.
صبح روز دهم محرم، حسین لشکریانش را که ۳۰ اسب سوار و ۴۲ پیاده بودند را آماده کرد. سمت چپ سپاه را به حبیب بن مظاهر، سمت راست را به زهیر بن قین و قلب را به عباس سپرد. وی همچنین دستور داد که دور تا دور خیمهها، هیزم جمعآوری کنند و هیزمها را آتش بزنند. خود نیز به خیمهای که قبلاً آماده کرده بود رفت و خود را معطر به مشک نمود و صورتش را اصلاح کرد. سپس در حالی که سوار بر اسب بود و قرآنی به دست داشت، مناجاتی زیبا با خداوند نموده و با مردم کوفه نیز سخن نمود و گفت که خدا ولی اوست و دین را محافظت خواهد کرد. به مردم سخنان محمد که وی و حسن را سرور جوانان بهشت خوانده بود و جایگاه خانواده اش را یادآوری نموده و از آنان خواست تا فکر کنند که آیا کشتن وی، امری مشروع است؟ سپس مردم کوفه را به خاطر اینکه پیشتر از وی خواسته بودند تا پیششان بیاید، سرزنش نمود و درخواست کرد تا اجازه دهند وی به یکی از سرزمینهای اسلامی برود که در آنجا امنیتش تأمین باشد. اما دوباره به وی گفته شد که اول از همه باید تسلیم یزید گردد. حسین در پاسخ گفت که هیچگاه خودش را همانند یک برده تسلیم نمیکند. حسین از اسب پیاده شد و دستور داد تا مهار اسب را ببندند به نشانهٔ اینکه هرگز از معرکه جنگ فرار نخواهد کرد. حر بن یزید بن ریاحی تحت تأثیر قرار گرفت و به سپاه حسین رفت و کوفیان را به خاطر خیانت به حسین سرزنش کرد که البته تأثیری بر روی آنان به وجود نیامد و سر انجام حر در میدان نبرد کشته شد. حسین به اتکای یارانش تا موقعی که تمامی یارانش کشته نشده بودند، وارد جنگ نشد و نمیجنگید.
زهیر بن قین از مردم کوفه خواست که به حرف حسین گوش داده و وی را نکشند. اما آنها با دشنام و تهدید پاسخ وی را دادند و شروع به تیراندازی نمودند. جنگ شروع شد. بال راست سپاه کوفه به فرماندهی عمرو بن حجاج حمله برد اما با مقاومت لشکر حسین مواجه شده و عقب نشست. عمرو دستور داد که لشکرش تن به نبردهای تن به تن درنداده و تنها از دور اقدام به تیراندازی کنند. بال راست سپاه کوفه به رهبری شمر بن ذی الجوشن حمله و محاصرهای بینتیجه انجام داد و فرمانده سواران سپاه، از ابن سعد خواست که پیادهنظام و کمانداران را به کمک وی بفرستد. شبث بن ربعی که قبلاً از حامیان علی بود، حال در لشکر کوفه و تحت امر پیادهنظام ابن زیاد بود. وقتی به وی فرمان حمله داده شد، آشکارا گفت که هیچ میلی به انجام این کار ندارد و سواره نظام و ۵۰۰ کماندار این کار را انجام دادند. سواران لشکر حسین که پاهای اسبانشان قطع شده بود مجبور به پیاده جنگیدن شدند. حسین و هاشمیان تنها از جلو میتوانستند پیش روی داشته باشند و ابن سعد دستور داد که لشکریانش از همه جهات به سمت خیمههای حسین رفته تا آنها را خلع سلاح کنند. اما برخی از حامیان حسین که در خیمهها خوابیده بودند با آنها سرسختانه جنگیده و مقاومت کردند. ابن سعد دستور داد که خیمهها را آتش بزنند. قبلاً حسین دستور داده بود که دور تا دور خیمهها آتش زده شود تا از ورود سپاهیان عمر بن سعد جلوگیری شود. شمر به سمت خیمههای زنان حسین پیش روی نمود و میخواست خیمهها را بسوزاند که همراهانش وی را سرزنش نمودند که شرمگین شد و از این کار منصرف گردید. در یک حمله، سپاهیان ابن زیاد، خیمههای حسین را آتش زدند که این آتش مانع از پیش روی سپاهیان ابن زیاد گردید.
در ظهر، حسین و یارانش نماز ظهر را به صورت نماز خوف به جا آوردند که لشکر یزید آن هارا تیر باران کرد. بعد از ظهر، سپاهیان حسین، به شدت تحت محاصره قرار گرفتند. سربازان حسین پیش رویش کشته میشدند و کشتار هاشمیان که تا به حال راهشان برای ترک میدان جنگ باز بود نیز شروع گردید. اولین هاشمی ای که کشته شد علی اکبر پسر حسین بود. سپس پسران مسلم بن عقیل، پسران عبدالله بن جعفر، پسران عقیل و قاسم بن حسن کشته شدند. قاسم جوان و زیبا بود و به شدت زخمی شده و از عمویش حسین درخواست یاری کرد. حسین خشمگینانه برجست و با شمشیرش ضارب قاسم را ضربتی زد. آن شخص زیر سم اسبهای سپاهیان ابن زیاد افتاده و لگد مال شد. وقتی گرد و غبار ناشی از سم اسبها کنار رفت، حسین پدیدار شد در حالی که بدن قاسم را در آغوش داشت و به قاتلینش لعنت میفرستاد. میگویند حسین جسم بی جان قاسم را به خیمههایش برد و در کنار دیگر قربانیان قرار داد.
جزئیات کشته شدن عباس در طبری و بلاذری نیامدهاست. تنها به این اشاره شده که حسین که تشنگی بر وی غالب گردیده بود، از عباس خواست تا به فرات رفته و آب بیاورد. عباس وقتی به سمت فرات میرفت نگاهبانان یزید که از رسیدن حسین و یارانش به فرات جلوگیری میکردند از ترس فرار کرده و عدهای زیر دست و پا جان دادند. عباس وقتی به فرات رسید میخواست آب بنوشد اما از اینکار منصرف شده و مشک را پر کرده و برگشت اما قبل از رسیدن وی به خیمهها با عمود آهنین بر فرق وی کوبیده با تیر چشمش و دهان و مشک وی زده و با شمشیر دستانش را قطع کردند. باید روایات دقیقی در مورد کشته شدن عباس در کربلا وجود داشته باشد که شیخ مفید به آنها اشاره کرده و میگوید که حسین و عباس در کنار هم در کنار رودخانه فرات پیش روی نموده اما عباس از حسین جدا شده و توسط دشمن محاصره گردیده و شجاعانه جنگید و در مکانی که امروز مزارش در آنجا است کشته شد.
در این هنگام سپاهیان ابن زیاد به حسین بسیار نزدیک شده بودند اما کسی جرات نمیکرد به سوی حسین دست دراز کند. تا اینکه مالک بن نسیر کندی ضربتی به سر حسین زد و کلاهخودش از خون سرش پر گردید. حسین کلاه خودش را عوض نموده و سرش را با عمامه بست. مرد کندی کلاه دریده را غارت نمود. اما این سودی به حالش نکرد. چرا که بعد از آن پیوسته فقیر بود و با خواری زندگی میکرد. بخش حزنانگیز دیگر این لحظات، کشته شدن طفلی است که حسین وی را بر زانوانش قرار داده بود. بر طبق یعقوبی، این طفل، نوزاد بود. تیری گردن طفل را درید و حسین خون طفل را در کف دستانش جمع نمود و به آسمان پاشید و خشم خدا را از قوم پیرو شیطان خواستار گردید.
شمر با سپاهی به سمت حسین رفت، اما جرات ننمود به وی حمله کند و تنها درگیری لفظی بین آن دو شکل گرفت. حسین آماده جنگ شد. باید توجه داشت که حسین در آن زمان ۵۵ سال سن داشت و به اقتضای سنش نمیتوانست مداوم بجنگد. به نقل از بسیاری از روایات، عبدالله بن حسن بن علی (برادر زاده حسین) خود را سر راه حسین قرار داد و هر چه حسین و زینب به وی میگفتند که به خیمهها برگردد، گوش نمیکرد. عاقبت دست عبدالله بر اثر ضربت شمشیر قطع شد و حسین به وی وعده بهشت داد و سعی در تسکین درد برادرزاده اش داشت. از یاران حسین، ۳ یا ۴ تن بیشتر نمانده بودند و حسین به سپاهیان ابن زیاد حمله برد. حسین چون بیم داشت که پس از مرگش عریان در صحرا رها شود، چندین جامه پوشیده بود. اما بعد از کشته شدنش تمامی آن لباسها را غارت نموده و بدنش عریان در صحرای کربلا رها شد. ابن سعد ظاهر گردید و زینب به او گفت: حسین دارد کشته میشود و تو تنها تماشا میکنی. ابن سعد اشکهایش با شنیدن این سخن جاری گشت. حسین شجاعانه میجنگید و یعقوبی و چند منبع شیعی دیگر میگویند که دهها تن را کشت. اما برخی منابع دیگر حاکی از آن هستند که سربازان ابن زیاد اگر میخواستند میتوانستند حسین را در جا بکشند. حسین وقتی به طرف فرات میرفت تا آب بنوشد، تیری به چانه اش یا گلویش خورد. سرانجام حسین از ناحیه سر و بازو آسیب دیده و بر صورت به زمین افتاد. به خولی بن یزید اصبحی دستور داده شد که سر حسین را از بدن جدا کند، اما وی متزلزل شد و نتوانست این کار را بکند. از همین رو، سنان بن انس عمرو نخعی بعد از اینکه ضربتی دیگر به حسین زد، سر وی را از بدن جدا نمود. سنان سر حسین را به خولی داده و خولی سر را پیش ابن زیاد برد.
حجاج بن عبدالله بن عمار از سپاهیان ابن زیاد و مخالفان حسین گوید: «به خدا هرگز شکستهدلی را ندیده بودم که فرزند و کسان و یارانش کشته شده باشند و چون او محکم دل و آرام خاطر باشد و دلیر بر پیشروی. به خدا پیش از او و پس از او کسی را همانندش ندیدم وقتی حمله میبرد پیادگان از راست و چپ او چون بزغالگان از حمله گرگ، فراری میشدند.»
نبرد به پایان رسید و سربازان ابن زیاد رو به غارت آوردند. لباسهای حسین، شمشیر و اثاثیه اش، کفشها و روپوش یمانی اش همگی غارت گردیدند. همچنین زیورآلات و چادر زنان نیز غارت گردید. زین العابدین علی بن حسین که بیمار بود در یکی از خیمهها بود و شمر میخواست او را بکشد. اما ابن سعد مانع شد و اجازه نداد کسی به خیمهٔ وی وارد شود. صفوف عزاداران حسین به خاطر وجود علی بن حسین است و نام «شهدای کربلا و طف» با نام وی عجین شدهاست. ۷۲ تن یاران حسین که ۱۷ تن از آنان هاشمی بودند و بر طبق محسن الامین، از لشکریان ابن زیاد ۸۸ تن کشته شدند. حر بن زیاد ریاحی، ۴۰ نفر و بریر بن خضیر ۳۰ نفر، نافع ۱۲ یا ۱۳ نفر و حسین تعداد زیادی از لشکریان ابن زیاد را کشتند.
عمر بن سعد دستور داد تا حسین بن علی و همراهانش را محاصره کنند و آب را به روی آنان ببندند. سرانجام حسین بن علی در روز عاشورا، ۱۰ محرم سال ۶۱ در کربلا کشته شد و همهٔ خیمههای خانواده و یارانش رابه آتش کشیدند. سپس بعد از کشته شدن تمامی یاران حسین بن علی تمامی سرهای آنان را از بدنشان جدا کردند و بر نیزه کردند و به شام فرستادند زنها و بچهها به اسارت درآمدند و تمامی اجساد را در صحرای کربلا رها کردند تا پس از سه روز توسط قبیله بنی اسد دفن شدند. اسامی شماری از خویشاوندان حسین بن علی که در نبرد کشته شدند به ترتیب زیر است:
فرزندان علی بن ابیطالب[ویرایش]
فرزندان حسن بن علی[ویرایش]
فرزندان حسین بن علی[ویرایش]
فرزندان عبدالله بن جعفر و زینب بنت علی[ویرایش]
پس از نبرد[ویرایش]
پس از کشتهشدن یاران و خانواده حسین بن علی در واقعه کربلا، عمر بن سعد دستور داد تا سرهای آنان را ببرند. پس از آن، سرها را بین قبایل قسمت نمود[نیازمند منبع] تا آنان بدین وسیله به ابن زیاد نزدیکتر شوند. قبیله کنده به ریاست قیس بن اشعث کندی ۱۳ سر، قبیله هوازن به ریاست شمر بن ذی الجوشن ۱۲ سر، تمیم هفده سر و بنی اسد ۱۶ سر بر نیزه کردند و در مجموع با ۷۱ سر بریده وارد کوفه شدند.[نیازمند منبع]
هنگام طلوع آفتاب سرهای کشتهشدگان و کاروان اسیران از بابالساعات وارد مسجد اموی شد. آنگاه به دستور یزید، تمامی سرها تا ۳ روز بر دروازههای شهر و مسجد اموی آویزان گردید. علی پسر حسین پس از گذشت چهل روز (در روز اربعین) موافقت یزید را گرفت تا سرها را به بدنها ملحق کند و سر حسین و دیگر کشتهشدگان را به کربلا برد و به اجسادشان ملحق کرد.
The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 AD)a in Karbala, in present-day Iraq. The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.
When Muawiyah I died in 680, Husayn did not give allegiance to his son, Yazid I, who had been appointed as Umayyad caliph by Muawiyah; Husayn considered Yazid's succession a breach of the Hasan–Muawiya treaty. The people of Kufa sent letters to Husayn, asking his help and pledging allegiance to him, but they later did not support him. As Husayn traveled towards Kufa, at a nearby place known as Karbala, his caravan was intercepted by Yazid I's army led by Al-Hurr ibn Yazid al Tamimi. He was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala by Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, 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. The battle was followed by later uprisings namely, Ibn al-Zubayr, Tawwabin, and Mukhtar uprising which occurred years later.
The dead are widely regarded as martyrs by Sufi, Sunni and Shia Muslims. The battle has a central place in Shia history, tradition and theology and it has frequently been recounted in Shia Islamic literature. Mainstream Sunni Muslims, on the other hand, do not regard the incident as one that influences the traditional Islamic theology and traditions, but merely as a historical tragedy.
The Battle of Karbala is commemorated during an annual 10-day period held every Muharram by Shia and Alevi, culminating on its tenth day, known as the Day of Ashura. Shia Muslims commemorate these events by mourning, holding public processions, organizing majlis, striking the chest and in some cases self-flagellation.
The Battle of Karbala played a central role in shaping the identity of Shia and turned the already distinguished sect into a sect with "its own rituals and collective memory." Husayn's suffering and death became a symbol of sacrifice "in the struggle for right against wrong, and for justice and truth against wrongdoing and falsehood."
During Ali's Caliphate, the Muslim world became divided and rebellion broke out against the ruling Ali by Muawiyah I. When Ali was assassinated by Ibn Muljam (a Kharijite) in 661, his eldest son, Hasan, succeeded him but soon signed a peace treaty with Muawiyah to avoid further bloodshed. In the treaty, Hasan was to hand over power to Muawiya on the condition that he be just to the people and keep them safe and secure and that he would not establish a dynasty. This brought to an end the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and Hasan ibn Ali was also the last Imam for the Shias to be a Caliph.[not in citation given] Husayn ibn Ali became the head of Banu Hashim after his older brother, Hasan ibn Ali, was poisoned to death in 670 (50 AH). His father's supporters in Kufah gave their allegiance to him. However, he told them he was still bound by the peace treaty between Hasan and Muawiyah I as long as Muawiyah was alive.
Yazid's succession to Mu'awiyah
The Battle of Karbala occurred within the crisis environment resulting from the succession of Yazid I. Mu'awiyah persuaded several leading companions to swear loyalty to his son, Yazid, and appointed him as his successor both in breach of the peace treaty and the Shura succession principle, for many Muslims instead wanted Husayn ibn Ali to be their Caliph.
Later, Husayn ibn Ali did not accept Muawiyah's request for his son Yazid's succession, referring to the peace treaty.[self-published source] The legitimacy of Yazid's succession as well as his "worthiness" for this position was questioned at the time, and people like Said ibn Uthman, Ahnaf ibn Qais, denounced the Yazid caliphate. Also, Husayn ibn Ali along with the sons of several other well known companions of Muhammad namely, Abd Allah ibn Umar, and Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rejected the caliphate of Yazid, because he considered the Umayyads an oppressive and religiously-misguided regime. He insisted on his legitimacy based on his own special position as a direct descendant of Muhammad and his legitimate legatees. As a consequence, he left Medina, his home town, to take refuge in Mecca in 60 AH. Mu'awiyah warned Yazid specifically about Husayn ibn Ali, since he was the only blood relative of Muhammad. Abd Allah ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Umar did not want to start another civil war and wanted to wait. Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr challenged them and went to Mecca.[unreliable source]
According to Fitzpatrick et al. the Yazid succession, which was considered as an "anomaly in Islamic history", transformed the government from a "consultative" form to a monarchy, named the Umayyad dynasty, with its capital in Damascus.
Yazid instructed his Governor Walid in Medina to force Husayn ibn Ali as well as the other prominent figures to pledge allegiance to Yazid. Husayn refused it and said that "Anyone akin to me will never accept anyone akin to Yazid as a ruler." Husayn departed Medina on Rajab 28, 60 AH (680 AD), two days after Walid's attempt to force him to submit to Yazid I's rule. He stayed in Mecca from the beginnings of the month of Sha'aban and all of the months of Ramadan, Shawwal, as well as Dhu al-Qi'dah.
It is mainly during his stay in Mecca that he received many letters from Kufa assuring him their support and asking him to come over there and guide them. He answered their calls and sent Muslim ibn Aqeel, his cousin, to Kufa as his representative in an attempt to consider the exact situation and public opinion.
Husayn's representative to Kufa, Muslim ibn Aqeel was welcomed by the people of Kufa, and most of them swore allegiance to him. After this initial observation, Muslim ibn Aqeel wrote to Husayn ibn Ali that the situation in Kufa was favorable. However, after the arrival of the new Governor of Kufa, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, the situation changed. Muslim ibn Aqeel and his host, Hani ibn Urwa, were executed on Dhu al-Hijjah 9, 60 AH (September 10, 680 AD) without any real resistance of the people. This shifted the loyalties of the people of Kufa, in favor of Yazid and against Husayn ibn Ali. Husayn ibn Ali also discovered that Yazid had appointed `Amr ibn Sa`ad ibn al Aas as the head of an army, ordering him to take charge of the pilgrimage caravans and to kill al Husayn ibn Ali wherever he could find him during Hajj, and hence decided to leave Mecca on 8th Dhu al-Hijjah 60 AH (9 September 680 AD), just a day before Hajj and was contented with Umrah, due to his concern about potential violation of the sanctity of the Kaaba.
He delivered a sermon at the Kaaba highlighting his reasons to leave, that he didn't want the sanctity of the Kaaba to be violated, since his opponents had crossed any norm of decency and were willing to violate all tenets of Islam.
When Husayn ibn Ali was making up his mind to leave for Kufa, Abd Allah ibn Abbas and Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr held a meeting with him and advised him not to move to Iraq, or, if he was determined to move, not to take women and children with him in this dangerous journey. Husayn ibn Ali, however, had resolved to go ahead with his plan. He gave a speech to people the day before his departure and said:
On their way to Kufa, the small caravan received the news of the execution of Muslim ibn Aqeel and the indifference of the people of Kufa. Instead of turning back, Husayn decided to continue the journey and sent Qays ibn Musahir Al Saidawi as messenger to talk to the nobles of Kufa. The messenger was captured in the vicinity of Kufa but managed to tear the letter to pieces to hide names of its recipients. Just like Muslim ibn Aqeel, Qays ibn Musahir Al Saidawi was executed.
Husayn and his followers were two days away from Kufa when they were intercepted by the vanguard of Yazid's army; about 1,000 men led by Hurr ibn Riahy. Husayn asked the army, "With us or against us?" They replied: "Of course against you, oh Aba Abd Allah!" Husayn ibn Ali said: "If you are different from what I received from your letters and from your messengers then I will return to where I came from." Their leader, Hurr, refused Husayn's request to let him return to Medina. The caravan of Muhammad's family arrived at Karbala on Muharram 2, 61 AH (October 2, 680 AD). They were forced to pitch a camp on the dry, bare land and Hurr stationed his army nearby.
Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad appointed Umar ibn Sa'ad to command the battle against Husayn ibn Ali. At first Umar ibn Sa'ad rejected the leadership of the army but accepted after Ibn Ziyad threatened to take away the governorship of Rey city and put Shimr ibn Thil-Jawshan in his place. Ibn Ziyad also urged Umar ibn Sa'ad to initiate the battle on the sixth day of Muharram. Umar ibn Sa'ad moved towards the battlefield with an army and arrived at Karbala on Muharram 3, 61 AH (October 3, 680 AD).
Order of battle and water denial
Ibn Ziyad sent a brief letter to Umar ibn Sa'ad that commanded, "Prevent Husain and his followers from accessing water and do not allow them to drink a drop [of water]". Ibn Sa'ad followed the orders, and 5,000 horsemen blockaded the Euphrates. One of Husayn's followers met Umar ibn Sa'ad and tried to negotiate some sort of access to water, but was denied. The water blockade continued up to the end of the battle on Muharram 10th (October 10, 680 AD).
Umar ibn Sa'ad received an order from Ibn Ziyad to start the battle immediately and not to postpone it further. The army started advancing toward Husayn's camp on the afternoon of Muharram 9th. At this point Husayn sent Al-Abbas ibn Ali to ask Ibn Sa'ad to wait until the next morning, so that he and his men could spend the night praying. Ibn Sa'ad agreed to the respite.
On the night before the battle, Husayn gathered his men and told them that they were all free to leave the camp in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness, rather than face certain death if they stayed with him. None of Husayn's men defected and they all remained with him. Husayn and his followers held a vigil and prayed all night.
The day of the battle
On Muharram 10th, also called Ashura, Husayn 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. Husayn ibn Ali's companions numbered 32 horsemen and 40 infantrymen. Husayn rode on his horse Zuljanah.
Husayn 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 Husayn from his journey. He abandoned Umar ibn Sa'ad and joined Husayn's small band of followers.
The battle begins
Umar ibn Sa'ad advanced and shot an arrow at Husayn ibn Ali's army, saying: "Give evidence before the governor that I was the first thrower." Ibn Sa'ad's army started showering Husayn's army with arrows. Hardly any men from Husayn 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 Husayn ibn Ali's companions.
The first skirmish was between the right flank of Husayn's army and the left of the Syrian army. A couple of dozen men under the command of Zuhayr ibn Qayn repulsed the initial infantry attack and destroyed the left flank of the Syrian army which in disarray collided with the middle of the army. The Syrian army 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 Husayn 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 Husayn ibn Ali's army together.
`Amr ibn al-Hajjaj attacked Husayn 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, Husayn'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, Husayn 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 Husayn ibn Ali's camp which had women and children in it, Husayn'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 Husayn'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. Husayn's companions were coming, one by one, to say goodbye to him, even in the midst of battle. Almost all of Husayn's companions were killed by the onslaught of arrows or lances.
After almost all of Husayn'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 Husayn 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 Husayn 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 Husayn ibn Ali).
Death of Al-Abbas ibn Ali
There are two accounts regarding the death of Abbas ibn Ali; One is by Abu Mikhnaf which mentions no detail on the death and, however, the other well known report clearly details how he was killed somewhere near the river and far from the camp while fetching water with a large skin of water, since the besieged Ahl al-Bayt were thirsty. Al-Abbas ibn Ali advanced towards a branch of the Euphrates along a dyke. Al-Abbas ibn Ali continued his advance into the heart of ibn Sa'ad's army. He was under a shower of arrows but was able to penetrate them and get to the branch, leaving heavy casualties from the enemy. He immediately started filling the water skin. In a gesture of loyalty to his brother and Muhammad's grandson he did not drink any water despite being extremely thirsty. He put the water skin on his right shoulder and started riding back toward their tents. Umar ibn Sa'ad ordered an assault on Al-Abbas ibn Ali saying that if Al-Abbas ibn Ali succeeded in taking water back to his camp, they would not be able to defeat them till the end of time. An enemy army blocked Al-Abbas' way and surrounded him. He was ambushed from behind a bush and his right arm was cut off. Al-Abbas ibn Ali put the water skin on his left shoulder and continued on his way but his left arm was also cut off. Al-Abbas ibn Ali now held the water skin with his teeth. The army of ibn Sa'ad started shooting arrows at him, one arrow hit the water skin and water poured out of it, now he turned his horse back towards the army and charged towards them but one arrow hit his eyes and someone hit his head with a gurz and he fell off the horse. In his last moments when Al-Abbas ibn Ali was wiping the blood in his eyes to enable him to see Husayn's face, Al-Abbas ibn Ali said not to take his body back to the camps because he had promised to bring back water but could not and so could not face Bibi Sakinah, the daughter of Husayn ibn Ali. Then he called Husayn "brother" for the first time in his life. Before the death of Abbas, Husayn ibn Ali said: "Abbas your death is like the breaking of my back". Zayd ibn Varqa Hanafi and Hakim ibn al-Tofayl Sanani are reported to be Abbas ibn Ali's murderers.
Death of Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali told Yazid's army to offer him single battle, and they gave him his request. He killed everybody that fought him in single battles. He frequently forced his enemy into retreat, killing a great number of opponents. Husayn and earlier his son Ali al-Akbar ibn Husayn were the two warriors who penetrated and dispersed the core of ibn Sa'ad's army, a sign of extreme chaos in traditional warfare.
By the afternoon of the tenth day, Husayn was left alone surrounded by the enemy. There were hesitation among the individuals over accepting the responsibility of Husayn's death. According to Lohuf, Husayn advanced very deep in the back ranks of the Syrian army shouted:
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 an 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.
A man from Banu Badaa' tribe, reportedly Malik ibn al-Nusair, struck Husayn's head with his sword causing it to bleed.
According to Sayyed Ibn Tawus, the enemies hesitated to fight Husayn, but they decided to surround him. At this time Abdullah ibn Hasan, an underage boy, escaped from the tents and ran to Husayn. When a soldier intended to slay Husayn, Abdullah ibn Hasan defended his uncle with his arm, which was cut off. Husayn hugged Abd-Allah, but the boy was already hit by an arrow.
Husayn got on his horse and Yazid's army continued pursuit. According to Shia tradition, a voice came from the skies stating: "We are satisfied with your deeds and sacrifices." Husayn 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. Husayn's attempt to reach water of Euphrates failed and he was soon after injured on his neck by an arrow thrown by a man reportedly, Husayn ibn Numair.
Husayn's murder is attributed to either Sinan ibn Anas or Shimr bin Thiljoshan. According to Sayyed Ibn Tawus, Umar ibn Sa'ad ordered a man to dismount and to finish. Khowali ibn Yazid al-Asbahiy preceded the man but became afraid and did not do it. Then Shimr bin Thiljoshan dismounted from his horse to do the job. Husayn ibn Ali asked for the permission to do Asr prayers. Shimir gave the permission to say the prayers and Husayn ibn Ali started prayer and when he went into Sajda, 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 off the head of Husayn ibn Ali with his sword and raised the head. Then ibn Sa'ad's men looted all the valuables from Husayn's body.
Following the battle, Umar ibn Sa'ad's army stormed the camp of the family of Husayn, looting any valuables and setting fire to the tents. They captured the family of Husayn and sent Husayn's head and the deceased to ibn Ziyad in Kufa in the afternoon. Subsequently, Husayn's family were moved to the Levant by the forces of Yazid.
Prisoners' Journey to Damascus
The sermon of Zaynab bint Ali in the court of Yazid
According to an account by Rasheed Turabi, on the first day of Safar, they arrived in Damascus and the captured family and heads of the dead were taken to Yazid. Yazid asks identity of each dead and then notices a woman with a defiant demeanour and asks "who is this arrogant woman?" The approaches him and retorts: "Why are you asking them [the woman]? Ask me. I will tell you [who I am]. I am Muhammad’s granddaughter. I am Fatima’s daughter." People at the court were awestruck by her oratory skills. Zaynab bint Ali then proceeds to give a sermon which according to Turabi is among the three most memorable sermons by the family of the Prophet According to narration of Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, a man with a red skin asked Yazid one of the captured woman as bondwoman. Yazid is also so to have knapped at Husayn's teeth with the staff of his hand while saying: "I wish those of my clan who were killed at Badr, and those who had seen the Khazraj clan wailing (in the battle of Uhud) on account of lancet wounds, were here. At this time, Zaynab bint Ali began to give her sermon to stop Yazid.
The sermon of Ali ibn Husayn in Damascus
According to Bihar al-Anwar, in Damascus Yazid ordered a pulpit to be prepared. He appointed a public speaker to bash Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. The public speaker sat on the pulpit and began his lecture by praising Allah and insulting Ali and his son, Husayn. He devoted a long time to praising Yazid and his father Muawiyah. In the meantime Ali ibn Husayn seized the opportunity and began to give a sermon by Yazid’s permission, introducing himself and his ancestors. He also related the story of Husayn ibn Ali's murder.
Burial of dead bodies
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 the graves, with the exception of Husayn's which was marked with a simple plant. Later Ali ibn Husayn returned to Karbala to identify the grave sites. Hurr was buried by his tribe a distance away from the battlefield. 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 Husayn and explain to the people the reason for Husayn'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 Husayn's cause.
Battle of Karbala and Husayn's death was a stimulus for further movements in Kufah with many people expressing their regret for their "apathy".
Ibn al-Zubayr's revolt
Following the Battle of Karbala, Husayn ibn Ali's second cousin Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr confronted Yazid. The people of Mecca also joined Abdullah to take on Yazid. Eventually Abdullah consolidated his power by sending a governor to Kufa. Soon Abdullah established his power in Iraq, southern Arabia, the greater part of Syria and parts of Egypt. 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. 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 Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr was finally defeated by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who sent Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. The defeat of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr re-established Umayyad control over the Empire.
After the killing of Husayn ibn Ali in Karbala, Shia were regretful and blamed themselves for not doing anything to help their Imam. Due these emotions a first uprising was begun by a group of Shia of Kufa that came to be known as Tawwabin. The uprising started under the leadership of five followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib, father of Husayn ibn Ali, with a following of one hundred of Kufa's people. They held the first meeting in the house of Sulayman ibn Surad Khuzai, one of the Sahabahs of Islamic prophet Muhammad, in 61 AH. In this meeting, Sulayman was elected as the uprising's leader. They also decided to keep their uprising a secret. This conspiracy remained hidden until 65 AH. One of the reasons given to explain the absence of Sulayman at the battle of Karbala was that he had been imprisoned by Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad at the time of the battle.
In Rabi' al-thani of 65 AH, Sulayman summoned to Nukhayla the men who had joined his army. It is said that of the 16,000 Shia who had promised to show up, only 4,000 arrived. One of the reasons was that Mukhtar al-Thaqafi believed that Sulayman had no experience in war, so many Shia, especially Shia from Mada'in and Basra, from Khuzai's army began to desert in large numbers. Finally, 1,000 others left the army. The remainder spent three days in Nukhayla then went to Karbala to pilgrimage to the tomb of Husayn. The Tawwabin army fought an Ummayad army in the battle of 'Ayn al-Warda. Their leaders were killed in this battle and they were defeated.
While Tawwabin uprising was based on "feelings and was hasty," and led to failure from a military viewpoint, it had significant impact on the larger Muslim community. The uprising had also real effect on other Shia movements, such as the Mukhtar uprising, which finally led to the decline of the Ummayad. Those Shia movements lacked military "tactics and techniques" as they believed that their "sacred" goal sufficed.
Mukhtar al-Thaqafi led a revolt centered on Kufah, one considered to be on behalf of Mohammad ibn al-Hanafiyya, a son of Ali. The uprising which lasted from 685 to 687, was against Ibn Zubayr in the first instance. The goal of the uprising was to avenge Husayn's blood in Karbala and to defend the Ahl al-Bayt.
Mukhtar was imprisoned by Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, when the Tawwabin uprising was defeated in battle of 'Ayn al-Warda. Mukhtar contacted the remaining members of Tawwabin from prison and promised to help them very soon. They replied that they could break into prison and release Mukhtar, but Mukhtar rejected the offer. He was released later via his sister's husband, Abdullah ibn Umar's mediation. After Mukhtar was released, he gathered Shia leaders such as Ibrahim ibn Malik al-Ashtar, who was an influential figure and thus very effective in recruiting men. Mukhtar was considerably supported by Mawali, non-Arab Muslims, mostly from Kufah, Basra and Al-Mada'in.
In the night before 14th Rabi' al-awwal of 65 AH, Mukhtar's followers began the revolt by shouting Ya Mansur-o Amet (O victorious, make [them] die!), a slogan originally used by Muslims in battle of Badr, and Ya Lisarat al-Husayn (O Those Who Want to Avenge the Blood of Husayn). Forces allied with Mukhtar entered Kufah. Iranian forces called Jond-o-l Hamra'a (Red Army) were the core of Mukhtar's forces. Finally, Mukhtar captured Ibn Ziyad's palace and announced the victory of his uprising on the following day, when he led prayers in a mosque, as well as holding a lecture regarding the goals of his uprising.
Mukhtar's uprising had large scale participation by a client class. His reliance on clients and Persians, as they were "more obedient" and "more faithful and swift in performance" according to Mukhtar, and raising the social status of Mawalis to that of Arabs, made the Ashraf of Kufah revolt against Mukhtar. According to Mohsen Zakeri, Kufa were not ready for such "revolutionary measures" and this may be counted as one of the reasons behind Mukhtar's failure. Finally, Mukhtar was attacked by Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's brother, he urged on by some leaders in Kufa. Mus'ab besieged Mukhtar in his palace for four months. Mukhtar was finally killed on 14th Ramadan, after he had left the palace.
Impacts on culture and politics
Battle of Karbala played a central role in shaping the identity of Shia and turned the already distinguished sect into a sect with "its own rituals and collective memory." Husayn's suffering and death became a sacrifice symbol "in the struggle for right against wrong, and for justice and truth against wrongdoing and falsehood."
The battle was a determining event in the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
As the "height of oppression" and "the peak of Umayyad brutality against the Prophetic family", "Karbala paradigm" had its own political impacts since pre-Safavid times and oppressors were often called "Yazids of the age." Revenge for battle of Karbala became "the core of the Shia collective memory and sentiment" since then and it had a determining role on "shaping religious perceptions." From political viewpoint, "Karbala-oriented epic literature" acted as an ideological stimulus to the Safavid revolution and Mourning of Muharram kept its political functions under the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The first political uses of Karbala symbols date back to the year of the battle. Buyid rulers promoted the public rituals of Muharram, the earliest documented account of Muharram procession, along with a celebration of Ghadir Khumm "to promote their religious legitimacy and to strength of Shia identity in and around Baghdad." Similarly, Safavid rulers fairly used the rituals to promote their legitimacy, with their Sunni rivals in east (the Uzbeks) and west (the Ottomans). Moḥarram festival then became a unifying force for the nation.
The Islamic revolution of Iran was inspired by Ashura uprising with its first sparks lit during Muharram. June 5, 1963 demonstrations in Iran, a turning point in history of Iranian revolution, happened two days after Khomeini’s speech on the afternoon of Ashura. Ashura uprising was not merely a historical issue at the time and was "the axis of mobilization" against Pahlavi regime. In Bahrain, calling for Muharram processions and commemorating Husayn ibn Ali's memory in public led to 1979 Qatif Uprising, when the procession was "brutally" repressed by the Saudi government.
Historiography of the battle of Karbala
The first historian to systematically collect the reports of eyewitnesses of this event was Abu Mikhnaf (died in 157 AH/774 AD) in a work titled Kitab Maqtal Al-Husayn. Abi Mikhnaf's original seems to have been lost and that which has reached today has been transmitted through his student Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi (died in 204 AH) There are four manuscripts of the Maqtal, located at Gotha (No. 1836), Berlin (Sprenger, Nos. 159–160), Leiden (No. 792), and Saint Petersburg (Am No. 78) libraries.
According to Rasoul Jafarian, among the original works on maqātil (a generic name for narratives of Hosayn bin ‘Ali’s tragic death in Karbala) the ones that could be relied upon for reviewing the Karbala happenings are five in number. All these five maqtals belong to the period between the 2nd century AH (8th century AD) and the early 4th century AH (10th century AD). These five sources are the Maqtal al-Husayn of Abu Mikhnaf; the Maqtal al-Husayn of Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi, Sunni historian; the Maqtal al-Husayn of Al-Baladhuri, Sunni Historian; the Maqtal al-Husayn of Abū Ḥanīfa Dīnawarī, and the Maqtal al-Husayn of Ahmad ibn A'zham. However, some other historians have recognized some of these as secondary sources. For example, Laura Veccia Vaglieri has found that Al-Baladhuri (died 279 AH/892-893 AD) like Tabari has used Abu Mikhnaf but has not mentioned his name. On the basis of the article of "Abi Mikhnaf" in "Great Islamic Encyclopedia" Ahmad ibn A'zham has mentioned Abu Mikhnaf in "Al-Futuh" thus he should be recognized as a secondary source.
Then latter Muslim historians have written their histories on the basis of the former ones especially Maqtal Al-Husayn of Abu Mikhnaf. However they have added some narrations through their own sources which were not reported by former historians.
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari narrated this story on the basis of Abu Mikhnaf's report through Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi in his history, History of the Prophets and Kings. Also there is a fabricated version of Abu Mekhnaf's book in Iran and Iraq. Then other Sunni Muslim historians including Al-Baladhuri and Ibn Kathir narrated the events of Karbala from Abu Mikhnaf. Also among Shia Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid used it in Irshad. However, followers of Ali attached a much greater importance to the battle and have compiled many accounts known as Maqtal Al-Husayn.
Salwa Al-Amd has classified Shia writings in three groups:
As Jafarian says "The holding of mourning ceremonies for Husayn ibn Ali was very much in vogue in the eastern parts of Iran before the Safavids came to power. Kashefi wrote the "Rawzah al-Shuhada" for the predominantly Sunni regions of Herat and Khurasan at a time when the Safavid state was being established in western Iran and had no sway in the east."
After the conversion of Sunni Iran to the Shia faith, many Iranian authors composed poems and plays commemorating the battle. Most of these compositions are only loosely based upon the known history of the event.
Some 20th-century Shia scholars have protested the conversion of history into mythology. Prominent critics include:
Impact on literature
Va'ez Kashefi's Rowzat al-Shohada (Garden of Martyrs) authored in 1502, is one of the main sources used for quoting the history of the battle and aftermath in later histories. Kashfi's composition was "a synthesis of a long line of historical accounts of Karbala," such as Said al-Din's Rowzat al-Islam (The Garden of Islam) and al-Khawarazmi's Maqtal nur 'al-'a'emmeh (The Site of The Murder of the light of The Imams). Kashefi's composition was an effective factor in formation of rowzweh khani, a kind of ritual. The name of Husayn ibn Ali appears several times in the work of the first great Sufi Persian poet, Sanai. According to Annemarie Schimmel, the name of the martyred hero can be found now and then in connection with bravery and selflessness, and Sanai sees him as the prototype of the shahid (martyr), higher and more important than all the other martyrs who are and have been in the world.
The tendency to see Husayn ibn Ali as the model of martyrdom and bravery continues in the poetry written in the Divan of Attar. When Shiism became the official religion of Iran in the 15th century, Safavid rulers such as Shah Tahmasp I, patronized poets who wrote about the Battle of Karbala, and the genre of marsia, according to Persian scholar Wheeler Thackston, "was particularly cultivated by the Safavids."
Azeri and Turkish literature
Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai of Bhitshah (1689–1752) devoted "Sur Kedaro" in his Shah Jo Risalo to the death of the grandson of Muhammed, and saw the battlet of Karbala as embedded in the mystical tradition of Islam. A number of poets in Sindh have also composed elegies on Karbala, including Sayed Sabit Ali Shah (1740–1810).
In the Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi kingdom of Deccan, marsia flourished, especially under the patronage of Ali Adil Shah and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, marsia writers themselves, and poets such as Ashraf Biyabani. Urdu marsia written during this period are still popular in South Indian villages. Ghalib described Husayn ibn Ali, by using metaphors, similar to the ones he used in his odes. Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Rafi Sauda wrote marsia in which the Battle of Karbala was saturated with cultural and ceremonial imagery of North India.
Josh Malihabadi known as "Shair-i inqilab", or the poet of revolution, used the medium of marsia to propagate the view that Karbala is not a pathos-laden event of a bygone era, but a prototype for contemporary revolutionary struggles.
Vahid Akhtar, formerly Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Philosophy at Aligarh Muslim University, has been crucial in keeping the tradition of marsia dynamic in present-day South Asia. Akht disagrees with the interpretation of the deaths at Karbala as mere Islamic history; but sees them as part of the revival of an ideal Islamic state of being.
The events of the battle and the following rebellion of Mukhtar al-Thaqafi of 66 AH have been the subject of major works in the Albanian Bektashi literature of the 19th century. Dalip Frashëri's Kopshti i te mirevet (Garden of the martyrs) is the earliest and longest epic so far written in Albanian language. It seems that Frashëri's initial idea was to translate and adapt Fuzûlî's work with the same name, it ended up as a truly national and comprehensible composition on its own. The poem is made of around 60,000 verses, is divided in ten sections, and is preceded by an introduction which tells the story of the Bektashism in Albania. The poem cites the sect's important personalities, latter additions, and propagation. It follows with the history of the Arabs before Islam, the work of the Prophet, his life and death, and events that led to the Karbala tragedy. The Battle of Karbala is described in detail; Frashëri eulogizes those who fell as martyrs, in particular Husayn ibn Ali.
His younger brother Shahin was the author of Mukhtarnameh (Book of Mukhtar), Albanian: Myhtarnameja, an epic poem of around 12,000 verses. It is also one of the longest and earliest epics of the Albanian literature.
Both works established a subgenre in the Albanian literature of the time, and served as the model for the better known work Qerbelaja (Karbala) of Naim Frashëri, the Albanian national poet and a Bektashi Sufi follower as well.
Commemoration of Husayn's death commenced soon after year 61 AH with small gatherings. By the time of Muhammad al-Baqir and Jafar al-Sadiq, two of Husayn's descendants and Shia Imams, Karbala had become an important Shia pilgrimage site. Shia ritual during Muhraam, i.e. mourning of Muharram, was not documented until the tenth century and the earliest account concerning this public ritual is the one concerning the events took place in 963 during the reign of "Moe'z al-Dowleh, the Buyid ruler of southern Iran and Iraq." Shi'a rituals developed mostly during Safavid state in 1501, and took a new meaning in that era.
According to Yitzhak Nakash, rituals of Muharram has an "importance" effect on the "invoking the memory of Karbala", as it induces moods and motivations in the believers via the symbol of Husayn's "martyrdom surface" and fuses the world as lived and the world as imagined.
Shia Muslims commemorate the Battle of Karbala every year in the Islamic month of Muharram. The mourning of Muharram begins on the first day of the Islamic calendar and then reaches its climax on Muharram 10, the day of the battle, known as Ashurah. It is a day of Majlis, public processions, and great grief. In the Indian sub-continent Muharram in the context of remembrance of the events of Karbala means the period of two months & eight days i.e., 68 days starting from the evening of 29 Zill-Hijjah and ending on the evening of 8 Rabi-al-Awwal. Men and women chant and weep, mourning Husayn ibn Ali, his family, and his followers. Speeches emphasize the importance of the values the sacrifices Husayn ibn Ali made for Islam. Shia mourners in countries with a significant majority self-flagellate with chains or whips, which in extreme cases may causing bleeding. This mainly takes place in countries such as Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Most Shias show grievances, however, through weeping and beating their chests with their hands in a process called Lattum/Matam while one recites a Latmyah/Nauha. Forty days after Ashurah, Shias mourn the death of Husayn ibn Ali in a commemoration called Arba'een.
In South Asia, the Battle of Karbala has inspired a number of literary and non-musical genres, such as the marsia, noha, and soaz. In Indonesia, the Battle of Karbala is remembered in the Tabuik ceremony.