Martyrdom of Imam al-Ḥusayn in Karbalā (61 A.H. / 680 A.D.)


قَالَ الرِّضَا (عليه السَّلام): «إِنَّ الْمُحَرَّمَ شَهْرٌ كَانَ أَهْلُ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يُحَرِّمُونَ فِيهِ الْقِتَالَ فَاسْتُحِلَّتْ فِيهِ دِمَاؤُنَا وَ هُتِكَتْ فِيهِ حُرْمَتُنَا وَ سُبِيَ فِيهِ ذَرَارِيُّنَا وَ نِسَاؤُنَا وَ أُضْرِمَتِ‏ النِّيرَانُ‏ فِي‏ مَضَارِبِنَا وَ انْتُهِبَ مَا فِيهَا مِنْ ثِقْلِنَا وَ لَمْ تُرْعَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ حُرْمَةٌ فِي أَمْرِنَا . إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْحُسَيْنِ أَقْرَحَ جُفُونَنَا وَ أَسْبَلَ دُمُوعَنَا وَ أَذَلَّ عَزِيزَنَا بِأَرْضِ كَرْبٍ وَ بَلَاءٍ أَوْرَثَتْنَا الْكَرْبَ وَ الْبَلَاءَ إِلَى يَوْمِ الِانْقِضَاءِ فَعَلَى مِثْلِ الْحُسَيْنِ فَلْيَبْكِ الْبَاكُونَ فَإِنَّ الْبُكَاءَ عَلَيْهِ يَحُطُّ الذُّنُوبَ الْعِظَامَ»

Imam al-Ridā (the eighth Imam) says, “The month of Muharram is one of the months during which the people of pre-Islamic (pagans) prohibited fighting. But (in the same sacred month) the people considered it lawful to shed our blood. (In this month) our honor was violated, our progeny and women were made captive, fire was put in our tents, our belongings there were plundered, and no inviolable thing that the Messenger of Allah had in us remained respected. Verily, the Day of al-Hussain made our eyes wounded and let flow our tears and humiliated our beloved in the land of Karbalā, the land of tragedy and affliction that just brought to us sorrow and difficulties till the Last Day. So the weepers should weep over the like of al-Hussain. Indeed, weeping for al-Hussain brings about forgiveness for great sins.  (Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 44, p. 283)

On the tenth of Muharram (61 A.H. / 680 A.D.) a tragedy took place in Iraq at a place known as Karbalā on the bank of Euphrates. A large army which had been mobilized by the Umayyad regime besieged a group of people numbering less than a hundred and put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the oppressor Caliph of the time and submit to his authority. The small group resisted and a severe battle took place in which they were all killed. However, the event that occurred on the 10th of Muharram in Karbalā was to become an inspiration for future generations due to that was an Islamic movement spearheaded by Imam al-Hussain who was the grandson of the Prophet and one of the great leaders of Islam at that time. The principles and laws of Islam demanded that the Imam acts like this to warn the Ummah of the evil situation which it was in and to prevent them from getting progressed. As the Imam himself remarked when he left Medina for the last time:

«أَنِّي لَمْ‏ أَخْرُجْ‏ أَشِراً وَ لَا بَطِراً وَ لَا مُفْسِداً وَ لَا ظَالِماً وَ إِنَّمَا خَرَجْتُ لِطَلَبِ الْإِصْلَاحِ فِي أُمَّةِ جَدِّي صلی الله علیه و آله. أُرِيدُ أَنْ آمُرَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَ أَنْهَى عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَ أَسِيرَ بِسِيرَةِ جَدِّي وَ أَبِي‏ علي بنِ أبي طالبٍ عليه السّلام»

 "I am not arising (against Yazīd) for a sole desire or as an insolent, corruptive, or tyrant person. I have arisen (against Yazīd) seeking to apply amendment in the Ummah of my grandfather (the prophet peace be upon him). I wish to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and act according to the path of my grandfather and father, Ali bin Abī Tālib..." (Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 44, p. 329; Maqtal al-Hussein, vol. 1, p. 88)

However, such a great and infallible person who stood up for the noblest of causes, to defend Islam, along with his loyal companions and household, was cut down in so cruel a manner. His head was removed from his body on the plains of Karbalā, mounted on a spear, and paraded through villages and towns as it was taken to Damascus and presented at the feet of Yazīd. But the greatest tragedy was that his enemies committed this crime by the name of Islam!