Why Discuss the Tragedy of Karbala?
Certain Muslims do not discuss, remember, or even mention the tragedy of Karbala. I’m not going to mention any particular groups of Muslims, because I think this is bigger than just a sectarian issue. It is clearly an Islamic one. To understand why, we need to ask some crucial questions.
Who was Imam Husayn (peace be upon him)?
1. Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
2. Son of Fatimah (blessings of Allah be upon her), the leader of the women of Paradise.
3. Son of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), the one who loving is a sign of belief and hatred is a sign of hypocrisy; the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, the fourth khalifah, the first male to accept Islam after the Prophet, and the one who washed his body and laid him to rest.
4. He and his brother, Imam Hasan (peace be upon him), are the leaders of the youths of Paradise.
5. The Prophet referred to him and his brother as “my sweet basils in this life.”
6. The Prophet wrapped his cloak around Fatimah, Ali, Hassan, and Husayn and recited, “and Allah wishes to remove all impurities from you, oh Ahlul-bayt, and purify you perfectly.” (Qur’an 33:33), saying, “Oh Allah, these are my Ahlul-bayt.”
7. A wali of Allah, a scholar, and a teacher.
8. A leader of a large movement of Muslims who opposed the repressive regime of Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and later opposed the despot, Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah.
9. A martyr, one of the highest ranks one can achieve in Islam.
10. Father of Imam Ali Zayn-ul-’Abideen, another wali of Allah.
11. Grandfather of other Imams, all awliyah of Allah.
12. The one whose descent is traced by millions of Muslims on every continent in the world.
13. Married a Persian woman, and started a tradition among the family members of the Prophet in marrying people outside of their ethnicity. His progeny is traced through nearly every ethnicity.
14. One of the preservers of the Qur’an and Sunnah, keeping the teachings of the Prophet, the writings of Ali, and the mus-haf of Fatimah with him.
15. A charismatic speaker and leader who polarized those in defense of good against those upholding evil. None doubted that he was on the right path, even some of those who fought against him.
Clearly, the death of Imam Husayn would not just be the death of another person, or even the death of another companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him and his family peace). This personality was so important to the religion of Islam and its people that his death forever changed the course of history. Now magnify that by the fact that 70 of his family members and followers died with him. Magnify that by the fact that the women in his family were paraded indecently, disrespected and defiled by their enemies.
Sunni and Shi’a scholars agree on the story and events that took place. No other single historical event is more unifying. Scholars like the sunni Shaykh at-Tabari have a nearly identical account of the tragedy as Shi’a scholars such as Shaykh al-Mufid.
As Muharram progresses, I will continue this process of evaluating the importance of this tragedy and why all Muslims, not just shi’a, should remember it and learn from it.
SallAllahu ‘ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa ‘ala alihi at-tayyibin wa-tahirin wal-ma’sumin.
As-salaamu Alayka Ya Waritha Muhammadin Rasoulullah, Ya Aba Abdallah il-Hussayn!
We are committed in our efforts to promote a platform for a healthy society which adheres to the tenets of peace, justice and freedom.
Iltemaas E Dua
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi