Al Mashad al Husain-Karbala: Phases of Destruction & Restoration


Al Mashad al Husain-Karbala: Phases of Destruction & Restoration

By: Dr. Qazi Shaikh Abbas Borhany

PhD (USA), NDI, Shahadat al Aalamiyah (Najaf, Iraq)

Member, Ulama Council of Pakistan

Published in “Daily News”, Pakistan, Weekend magazine – Front page, 27-01-2007

History- Karbala, a city in Iraq is located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad at 32.61°N, 44.08°E. It was at first a desolate place and did not witness any noteworthy activity, although it was rich in water and its soil was fertile. When Imam Husain arrived at Karbala and was surrounded by the forces of Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, he inquired about the name of the place. Someone replied it is Aqr– meaning ‘harsh’. Imam Husain then said: we seek refuge with Allah from Al Aqr. He once again asked the name of the village. Then one of the attendants replied, its name is Karbala. Imam Husain spontaneously declared: land of Karb and Balaa meaning (land of) “torture and trial”. In the time of Imam Husain, the place was also known as al Ghadiriyah, Nainawa, and Shat ul Furat. Imam Husain bought a piece of land, after his arrival at Karbala from Bani Asad. He and his Ahl al Bait were buried in that portion, famous as Hair, where the Shrines are located. The history of destruction and reconstruction of the Shrines of Karbala is long. Both the Shrines were greatly extended by successive Muslim rulers, but suffered repeated destruction from attacking armies. Karbala‘s development was strongly influenced by the Persians. History has recorded the names of several rulers who shared the honour of extending, decorating and keeping the Shrines and there precinct in good condition. Among them is Fateh Ali Qajar, who in 1250 (A.H) ordered the construction of two Shrines, one over Imam Husain’s grave and the other over the grave of his brother, Syedi Abul Fazal al Abbas. The first dome is 27 meters high and completely covered with gold. At the bottom, it is surrounded with 12 windows, each of which is about 1.25 m away from the other, from the inside, and 1.30 m from the outside. The Shrine has an area of 59 m / 75 m with ten gates, and about 65 rooms, well decorated from the inside and outside, used as class rooms for studying. As for the grave itself, in the middle of the precinct, it is called the Rawzah or garden and it has several doors. The most famous one is called al Qiblah or Bab al Zahaab”.

Significance of Ziyarat- Following the 10th of Muharram 61 (A.H), after the Shahadat of Imam Husain, people from near and far approached this place for Ziyarat. Despite many attempts by successive rulers, such as Haroon Abbasi and Mutawakkil Abbasi, who declared a Ban on the Ziyarat, devotees continued to perform Ziyarat of the place in every age. History provides many examples, which showed that devotees sacrificed their lives, just to perform Ziyarat of Imam Husain’s Rawzah. The conventional meaning of Ziyarat is to intend to visit some one, for his veneration or intimacy. And it is said that the reason why Ziyarat is referred to as visiting the saintly human beings, is because it is to deflect from the material routine and draw away from the corporeal world and incline towards the world of spirit, while one is present in the corporeal environment and maintains his/her bodily form. History gives us evidence that the practice of Ziyarat started soon after the Shahadat of Imam Husain, but in the succeeding era, the rulers attempted to remove the sign of the graves of Ahl al Bait, however, the Aqidah of devotees attach great significance to the Ziyarat because of the extraordinary reverence to these sacred places. It is a firm belief of the devotees that Ziyarat is the sure approach of achieving reward from their Rabb. Therefore, to visit the Mashahid means closer proximity with AlIah and they considered Al Mashad al Husain the best rendezvous for the acceptance of their Doa. The reason as to why the Awliya recommended visiting the Mashahid lies in the fact that this act secures many spiritual and social advantages, and these can be enumerated as follows:

(i) It establishes a profound relationship and attachment between the Ahl al Bait and the followers. Our hearts are filled with the high merits and piety of the Aale Mohammad. It reminds us of their spirit of Jihaad for the sake of Allah.

(ii) As a result of great congregations at the Mashahid, people come closer to each other and come to know each other’s problems. It cements cordial relations among the Zaereen as a result of which they are drawn much nearer. In this way the spirit of obeying the Divine commands becomes common among all the Zaereen.

(iii) Salaam during the time of paying homage to the Mashad of the Ahl al Bait confirm our abiding faith in Tawhid, the sanctity of the teaching of Islam and the Nubuwat.

Rasulullah (S) instructed to Syedna Jabir bin Abdullah al Ansari as follows:

“O Jabir! You must visit the Qabar of Husain – after his Shahadat in Karbala, as in his Ziyarat, Allah shall bestow you Sawaab equaling 100 Haj and 100 Umrah.

It was Jabir who achieved the honour to become the first Zaeer of the grave of Imam Husain and recited his famous Salaam on Arbaeen – 40TH Day After Aashurah. Imam Jafar Assadiq said: “The one, who would visit the grave of Imam Husain on the day of Ashurah, would be counted amongst those who were present on the day of Ashurah and were slaughtered with Imam Husain. (“Bihaar al Anwaar”, vol.98, pg.105). Ziyarat holds a special position among the admirers, irrespective of Sunni or Shia. Ziyarat is equivalent to the announcement of affiliation and declaration of social and political attachment. Ziarat means to pay Salaam or homage upon dignified spiritual guides. To visit the graves of Imam and recite Salaam over there is, to commemorate and to strengthen once Aqidah towards the Right Path. Imam Sadiq has explained: “Ziyarat of grave of Imam Husain earns the Ajar of contribution in the Jihaad with Rasulullah and Imam al Aadil. (“Sawaab al Aamaal”, page No.81). Imam Sadiq has counted the Ajar of Ziyarat to the grave of Imam Husain, with the Ajar of the Suhadaa of the Ghazwah Badar. (“Kamil al Ziyaraat”, page No.183). Once a man asked Imam Sadiq several questions about the Ziyarat of Imam Husain. He asked: if a person is killed during Ziyarat to the grave of Imam Husain, by the tyranny and torture of a ruler, so what will be his Ajar? Imam Sadiq replied: “All his sins will be forgiven from the first drop of his blood. He asked: what is the Ajar of the person who is imprisoned in the cause of Ziyarat? Imam replied: each day he spends in his prison will be changed into joy and happiness at the day of Qiyamat. He again asked, what is the Ajar of the person who has been hurt and tyrannized in prison during Ziyarat journey? Imam answered, “He will get one good deed against every wound. (“Kamil al Ziyaraat”, page No.124). The question which clicks here in the mind of a person is why the Ziyarat to the grave of Imam Husain so much difficult and dangerous? Shaikh Abbas al Qummi has transmitted as follows: “In the period of Haroon al Rashid Abbasi the tradition of the Ziyarat of Imam Husain was at the peek. Not only Shia but Sunni admirers from far and near visited the grave of Imam Husain. Therefore, the Mashad was always filled with Zaereen. This situation frightened the ruler, Haroon al Rashid Abbasi, a staunch opponent of Ahl al Bait. He was afraid that this Ziyarat provided an opportunity to the admirers to gather at one place. If they turned towards the progeny of Fatemah and supported them politically, naturally power would be shifted from Bani Abbas to Bani Fatemah. Therefore, Haroon Abbasi issued explicit instruction to his governor at Kufa, Musa bin Essa to raze the grave of Husain to the ground, plough the land and use it for cultivation. In compliance of the order, the governor removed all the signs of the grave of the Imam and turned the Mashad into a field and grew plants and crops there. (“Tatammat al Muntaha”, Shaikh Abbas al Qummi, page No. 240-241). This did not shake the Aqidah of the Zaereen. After Haroon Abbasi, other emperors paid little heed to eliminate the sign of Ziyarat at Karbala. As soon as Mutawakkil Abbasi came to the throne and learnt that devotees had been visited the grave of Husain Ibn Ali more and more, he sent his troop to destroy the grave of Imam Husain yet again, but it could not deter the people from performing the Ziyarat. They continued the Ziyarat and paid homage to the grandson of Rasulullah(S). The ruler would kill them but still the people never stopped the Ziyarat. They sacrificed their lives but were not deterred by the Zulm. They said: “If we all are slaughtered then still our offspring will not stop Ziyarat of Imam Husain.” (“Tatammat al Muntaha”, Shaikh Abbas al Qummi, page No.240-241).

Syedah Zainab has confirmed in the evening of Aashurah to her nephew, Imam Sajjad, and she said: “In the land of Karbala, we will engrave a sign on the grave of your father Imam Husain, which will remain there till Qiyamat. The admirers and devotees of Ahl al Bait from all corners of the world will come to Ziyarat. The rulers and their offspring will struggle a lot to destroy and to deter the people from the Ziyarat of Husain every time. But your remnants will blossom more and more and the Ziyarat will constantly attain highest peek.” (“Tammat al Muntaha”, Shaikh Abbas al Qummi, page No. 240-241).

A.H. 61 – C.E. 1st Oct., 680 Imam Husain was buried at Karbala. It was Bani Asad who, after the departure of Ahl al Bait, assembled at the grave of Imam Husain and performed Ziyarat. Historical accounts provide little light on the first builder of the Shrine. It is assumed that Bani Asad was also the first, who erected the tent upon the grave of Imam Husain. A Shaikh of Bani Asad lighting the Chiragh at the grave of the Imam and planted a Berry tree at the head side of the grave, to indicate the grave of Husain.

A.H. 65 – C.E. 18th Aug., 684 Mukhtar bin Abu Ubaidah al Saqafi built an enclosure around the grave and erected a dome over it. Over the dome he had fixed green flag. At that time there were two entrances to this Mashad. He also settled several families around Al Mashad al Husaini.

A.H. 132 – C.E. 12th Aug., 749 A roof was built over the part of the Masjid and two entrances were added during the reign of al Saffah.

A.H. 140 – C.E. 31st Mar., 763 Al Mashad al Husaini was demolished by the order of the ruler Mansoor Abbasi.

A.H. 158 – C.E. 11th Nov., 774 During the reign of Mahdi, the roof over the grave was reconstructed.

A.H. 171 – C.E. 22nd June, 787 Under the instruction of Haroon Abbasi the Mashad was demolished and the Berry tree, which indicated the sign of the grave of Imam Husain, was cut down. Even then people kept visiting the grave of Imam Husain, guided by the traces of the ‘Tree of the Berry’, which covered the grave. Haroon al Rashid Abbasi did not tolerate even this mark of indication, so he ordered to cut the Tree, with the intention to wipe out the sign of the grave of Husain and stop the practice of Ziyarat. At that time, the learned then understood the meaning of the following Hadith. Rasulullah(S) clearly recited Lanat thrice upon the Cutter of the Tree of the Berry as follow:

“Laan’Allah Qatey al Sidrat”-Lanat of Allah upon the Cutter of the Berry”.

(Al Manaqib, vol.4, page 64).

A.H. 193 – C.E. 25th Oct., 808 During the reign of Amin Abbasi, al Mashad al Husain was reconstructed.

A.H. 232 However, 40 years later, Mutawakkil Abbasi attempted several times to destroy the Shrine. Historical account provide details, he committed four attempts, for destruction, but in vain. First time in 233 (A.H), when his lady court singer visited for Ziyarat. According to Al Tabari, the second attempt was made in 236 (A.H), Mutawakkil Abbasi demolished Al Mashad al Husain and ordered that the land of the grave should be ploughed. He also instructed to dig a canal, through river Furaat, which would eliminate the signs of the grave, but he could not accomplish his nasty and evil plan. The 3rd attempt was made in 237 (A.H) and the last in 247 (A.H), but to no avail. In his malicious attempt he used bulls to drag the Haram, and remove the sign of the grave of Imam Husain, but the Bull would not step forward into the premises of the grave, although the soldiers brutally tortured the Bulls. Whenever the forces of Bani Abbas wished to perform this operation, the devotees of Ahl al Bait stood before them. Abbasi forces fired arrows to kill the devotees, who created obstacles, and by the will of Allah, situation turned, and a hue and cry was created, whereby a number of Abbasi solders became targets of their own arrows, shot by them, resulting in heavy losses to them. Mutawakkil Abbasi used abusive language against Syedah Fatemah. The masses hated him, but due to fear of swords they were helpless. People used to write on the walls of Masajid, couplets against Bani Abbas and in praise of Ahl al Bait. In these verses, recorded in “Bihaar al Anwaar” a poet has expressed his burning feelings and condemned the act of the Bani Abbas in following words:

  • Wallah! Bani Umayyah had killed the grandson of Rasulullah (S), while he was sinless and Mazlum
  • And today offspring of Abbas, uncle of the Nabi(S) are also committing an equal Zulm
  • This grave of Husain is uncovered, Bani Abbas feels restlessness as why they did not contribute in the slaughter of Husain, with Yazid and Ibn Ziyad
  • And why they were deprived with this honour, through which they could have helped the Bani Umayyah
  • Know they compensate their loss through digging the grave of Husain.

There is a worth mentioning event, which was narrated by Zaid, who visited al Mashad with a little difference of time from Buhlul Danishmand. In that period many calamities were faced by the people, due to the harassment, torture and cruelties upon the visitors of the grave of Imam Husain. Zaid says: One day I saw a huge procession of mourners, who wore black dresses. They were accompanying a coffin. I thought that may be Mutawakkil had expired. When I asked, they replied that Rehana, beloved mistress of Mutawakkil had died. Musk and Anbar were placed in the grave of Mutawakkil’s charming darling and a tomb was built on it. Seeing this, Zaid lamented thus: “Alas ____ a concubine deserves sorrow and lamentation, but the grandson of Rasulullah (S) was killed and nobody realized it, none lamented, nor any ruler build a Shrine, but always attempts were made to eliminate the signs of the grave”. After this incident Mutawakkil Abbasi was killed by his Turks slaves, under instruction of his own son. Mutawakkil’s son, Muntasir, warned his father time and again, but he did not pay attention to his son’s explicit warning, Under Muntasir’s instruction, his father Mutawakkil was executed. After he took over the charge, Muntasir Abbasi removed the check post, and stopped practice of harassment of the Zaereen. He instructed his functionaries to rebuild Al Mashad al Husain.

A.H. 247 – C.E. 17th Mar., 861 Al Muntasir Abbasi instructed his courtiers to build a roof over the grave and set up an iron pillar near it, to serve as a landmark for the Zaereen, but the official builder was hostile to the faith; therefore, he used low quality material. Under instruction of Al Muntasir, new houses were built around the Shrines.

A.H. 273 – C.E. 8th June, 886 The roof was demolished, due to low quality material. The major portion of Al Mashad was destroyed. Unlimited numbers of Zaereen perished. Reason was discovered, unfit material of construction.

A.H. 280 – C.E. 23rd Mar., 893 One Alavi Nobel dignitary built a dome in the center, with two roofs, on both side and an enclosure with two entrances. He settled in the city with his sons. His name was Syed Ibrahim al Mujab al Dhareer al Kufi.

A.H. 283 After ten years of the destruction of the roof, Mohammad bin Zaid, ruler of Tibiristan built al Mashad for the forth time. He used best quality of material and built the Shrine as a master piece of superb architecture. This work of art of the Muslim civilization, flourished in the central Asian region, and it represented that era.

A.H. 307 – C.E. 19th Aug., 977Buwehi Amir rebuilt Al Mashad al Husain, and constructed a Maqsurah – grill of teakwood around the sepulcher. He also constructed houses around the Rauzat and erected the boundary wall to secure Karbala. At the same time Imran Ibn Shahin built a Masjid adjacent to the Rauzat.

A.H. 369 After half a century, a notorious looter, Zabba bin Asdi looted the Khazanah of the Ruzat al Imam, when he was Amir of Aynu Tamr. Buwehi Emperor Azaduddula punished him severely. The forth construction was completed by Azaduddula. Amir Moizuddula and Amir Azaduddula were fortunate; they achieved the honour to decorate magnificently the interior and exterior of the Mashad. Azaduddula built a trade center and residential area around the Mashad. For safety from bandits, he built a strong concrete wall around the city and made Karbala safe like a fort. For the facility of the Zaereen, he provided water and lighting. He visited Karbala every year for Ziyarat and examined the facilities provided for Zaereen personally.

A.H. 371 Azaduddula distributed hundred of thousands of Darahim among the relatives of the Ahl al Bait, not as a Sadaqah but as a gift. Famous historian, Ibn Aseer, mentioned that in the year 371 (A.H), Azduddaulah Buwayhi was prominent among those who contributed huge amount for construction, decoration of Al Mashad al Husain generously.

During the period of the Ottoman Empire, under the instruction of Emperor Murad IV, several money generating strong trusts, which were exclusive property of Al Mashad al Husain were confiscated, and unlawfully spent on the renovation of the burial place of Shaikh Abd al Qadir Jilani.

A.H. 372- The first enclosure of Hair was built in year 372 (A.H), and its area is estimated as 2400 meters square.

A.H. 407 – C.E. 10th June, 1016 Due to the conspiracy of the State Caretaker of the Shrine, a fire broke out at midnight. Apparently two big chandeliers, which had fallen down were the cause of fire. Buwehi Umara was still in power. Thus the enemies of Ahl al Bait were not in the position to sabotage Al Mashad al Husain openly. Under the malicious instruction of Qadir Abbasi, a secret plan was prepared to burn Al Mashad al Husain. This fire burnt the valuables of Al Mashad al Husain but ultimately burnt the entire Abbasi Empire. Fearing retaliation of the public, on the destruction of Al Mashad al Husain, Qadir Abbasi appointed Ibn Sahlaan and instructed him to handle the situation. Ibn Sahlaan paid full attention towards the Al Mashad al Husain. He reconstructed al Mashad, thus it was the six construction of the Shrine.

A.H. 412- The Wazir, Al Hasan bin al Fazal bin Sahlan built the second fence of the city in year 412 (A.H)., and fixed four iron doors at its sides.

A.H. 479- Khafajah also attacked Karbala in year 479 (A.H), during the time of Saifuddaulah.
A.H. 526 Mustarshid Abbasi confiscated the valuable Khazanah of Al Mashad al Husain. He distributed the Khazanah among his nearest and dearest courtiers.

A.H. 575 When Nasir took over the charge, he paid full attention and due respect to the Shrines of Karbala and Najaf. Even if any criminal or any insurgent took refuge over there, as per the instruction of the ruler, the authorities overlook them. During pervious tyrannical period only limited number of Zaereen visited Karbala and Najaf, but during the period of Nasir, who provided enough facilities to Zaereen, unlimited number of devotees visited regularly. His established institutions were carried out till 727 (A.H). The famous historian, Ibn Batutah discussed Karbala at length. Although in that period, the bloody swords of Mongols, coloured the land of Iraq and Iran with human blood, but Al Mashad al Husain remained safe. It is noteworthy that Ghaza Khan and Khuda Bund Khan had performed great services for the Shrines. It is enough to know that Tataar became devotees of Ahl al Bait and children of Halaku Khan openly followed them from the time of Ghazan Khan.

A.H. 620 – C.E. 4th Feb., 1223 Nasir reconstructed the Maqsurah _ grill around the grave.

A.H. 757 C.E. 18th Sept., 1365 Sultan Owais Ibn Hasan Jalairi remodeled the dome and raised the walls of the enclosure.

A.H. 780- C.E. 24th Feb., 1384 Ahmad Ibn Owais erected two Minarat covered with gold and extended the courtyard.

A.H. 795 When some tribes started looting in Karbala, Emperor Amir Taimur punished them and recovered the looted property and returned the valuables to their owners.

A.H. 796 Emperor Amir Taimur himself visited Karbala for Ziyarat and ordered expension of the building of Al Mashad al Husain.

A.H. 858 Al Musha occupied Karbala and plundered the Shrine of Imam Husain and killed people and captured the rest of them and imprisoned them in his castle in Basrah.

A.H. 920 – C.E. 26th Feb., 1514 60 Years later, when Emperor Ismail Safavi visited Al Mashad al Husain, he built a beautiful dome, decorated with inlaid glass-work. During the period of Shah Ismail Safavi, especial arrangements were made, for the welfare of the natives, for the progress of the city and for the renovation of Al Mushad, his contribution is unforgettable. Valuables were presented to Al Mashad al Husain, chandeliers, crystal glass; gold trees and cut glass work on the wall were done by him. Precious gifts were also bestowed to the Caretaker. When he came back to his capital, he called all master craftsmen and prepared engraved designed covering of the graves. These replaced the old ones. He did not forget Ahl al Bait in the lust of empire.

A.H. 941 When Emperor Sulaiyman the magnificent ascended the throne, he did not follow the footsteps of Emperor Salim, who was biased by nature. Salim had engineered operation clean up against his own citizens, who did not follow his school of thought and declared religious war against Iran. In this sectarian operation he brutally assassinated major population of Shia Muslims. Where ever he found influence of Ahl al Bait he destroyed them. He also attacked Iraq in the name of religion, many wars were fought. Sulaiyman the magnificent entered Baghdad on 18th Jamadil Awwal 941 (A.H). He visited Najaf and Karbala and offered Doa over there, for help. When he reached Najaf and saw the glimpse of the Ruzat, from far, he descended from his horse in reverence. When his noble attendants asked reason of this action, he replied that on seeing the Ruzat, a cold shiver ran through his body. Someone said that Najaf is half mile away and you cannot go by foot. He replied: I will do according to the guidance of the Faal. Quraan was opened for guidance and this Ayat appeared first on the beginning line. In the Ayat instruction was given to Musa Nabi to remove his shoes before entering in to the “Wadil Muqaddas Tuwa”. Emperor Sulaiyman the magnificent not only performed Ziyarat but he also looked after the affairs regarding maintenance of al Mashahid. Sometimes Flood used to enter the city, thus he built dams, which controlled the floods. He renovated the famous lake Husainiyah and presented several valuables for the Shrines. This event shows the gratitude of Sulaiyman the magnificent & denial is not needed because Muslims at large love to Ahl al Bait. He donated several trust to the Mashahid. The role played by Safavi Emperors is unforgettable, with especial reference to the care and welfare of the Shrines. Shah Ismail Al Safavi visited Karbala in year 941 (A.H), and dug a deep canal, renovated it and constructed Imam Husain’s Shrine as well. After Emperor Ismail Safwi, Emperor Tehmasap paid great attention to the renovation of Al Mashad al Husain. He extended the courtyard of the Shrines, and rebuilt the building. Beatification work was done under his care in the interior side of the Shrines. He extended the Masjid, adjacent to Al Mashad al Husain, and renovated the Ewaan.

1013 A.H. Mahnasids tribe attacked Karbala, under the command of Nasir bin Mahna, and ruled Karbala for 40 years.

A.H. 1032 – C.E. 5th Nov., 1622 Emperor Abbas Safavi conquered Baghdad in 1032 (A.H), and performed Ziyarat. He constructed the Maqsurah-grill of brass and bronze and decorated the dome with Kashi tiles.

A.H. 1048 – C.E. 15th May. 1638 When Emperor Murad IV visited Al Mashad al Husain, he ordered to wash the dome.

A.H. 1155 – C.E. 8th Mar., 1742 Nadir Shah Durrani visited Al Mashad al Husain. He decorated it and offered valuable presents to the Khazanah of the Shrines.

A.H. 1207 Qajar Emperors also contributed for the development of the Shrines. Sultan Agha Mohammad Khan, who was the 1st Qajari Emperor, decorated the dome with gold. He also decorated the Manaar and gold plated it. After a few years, the gold plated work became dull. Emperor Fathe Ali Shah Qajar permanently fixed gold covering, instead of gold plating.

A.H. 1211 – C.E. 7th July 1796 Emperor Muhammad Shah Qajar covered the dome of al Mashad al Husain with gold.

18th Zil Hijjah A.H. 1216 – C.E. 22nd April 1801 A powerful tribal force consisted of 24000 solders attacked Karbala. The forces entered in to the city through the hole in the wall and opened the door of the city. It was the horrible day, in the history of Karbala. Writer of “Tarikhe Najdu Hijaz”, Mufti Mohammad Abdulqayyum Qadri has provided painful details of the tragic event on page No. 57 as follows: “Masood Aalam Nadvi says: The natives tried unsuccessfully to hide and protect themselves, but in vain. Invaders sized the Shrines and confiscated all the valuables. Precious gems, 20 swords of different emperors, utensils of gold, 2000 swords of silver, guns, beautiful crystal-jars, the super fine silken carpets, chandeliers- decorated with gold ornaments, doors, prepared by gold decorated with gems, in short, uncounted numbers of treasury of several generations of the well known Empires were looted by them. The force never stayed there long and returned to their region. At that time Iraq was under the Ottoman Empire. Karbala- place of homage was plundered brutally. 500 innocent Zaereen were alone killed inside the Shrines. Fire was opened on it; all those who were inside were executed immediately. The invaders molested women, and escaped successfully, while Ottoman forces arrived there. Historians noted that it was the largest military expedition on the land of Karbala, after the attack of Yazidi forces.

(1-An excerpt from lecture of Dr Walid Al-Bayati about razing of Islamic signs in the holy cities of Makkah and Medinah delivered in Al-Abrar Foundation Center, London, United Kingdom;2- History of demolition of Islamic heritage, By: Syeda Abeeda tuz Zahra Moosavi Advocate )

A.H. 1221/C.E. 1806- Five years later, a powerful Tribal Forces again launched an attack against Karbala, but the inhabitants countered the attack.

19 A.D. – When one noted Nawab of Awadh visited the Karbala, he was restless to see the destruction wrought by the Najadi force. He re-built the markets, re-established the affected ones, erected concrete walls around the city, especially built watch towers, fixed heavy artillery for defense, and made all possible arrangements, which could provide protection from any looters. Major credit goes to the Nawabs of Awadh, who took great interest in the development of Al Mashad al Husain. Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah of Awadh got the honour to build the Shrine of Hurr. It was Nawab Amjad Ali Shah, who got the honour to build the Shrines of Syedna Muslim and Hani, at Kufah.

A.H. 1232 – C.E. 21st Nov., 1817 Emperor Fateh Ali Shah Qajar renovated the Maqsuraat (grills covering the graves) and plated them with silver. He also gold plated the center of the main portico, and repaired the damage done by the Najadis. The Emperor took revenge of this massacre from them at Najad and at Musqat. His son and Governor of Kirman, Mirza Mohammad Ali personally took great interest to build new establishments and in the beautification of the Shrines. Queen of the Emperor, Fateh Ali Shah Qajar, gold plated the Minaar.

A.H. 1276 Emperor Nasiruddin Shah Qajar gold plated the dome of Al Mashad al Husain and extended the Ewaan. The Emperor also sent Shaikh Abdulhusain Tehrani to re-coat gold over the domes and to build the beautiful designs of famous Kashi work. He re-built the wooden box over the grave, which was burnt by the Najadi forces. The floor was also re-built and extended the portion, near the head side of the grave.

A.H. 1283 – C.E. 16th May, 1866 Emperor Nasiruddin Shah Qajar extended the courtyard of Al Mashad al Husain.

A.H. 1353 = 1934 A.D. – Vicegerent of the Fatemi Imam, Sultan al Bohra, Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin visited Karbala to perform Ziyarat. He strongly disapproved a portrait-painting of the Imam, hung over the Maqsurah. My learned teacher, at Al Hawzah, Ayatullah Behr al Ulum informed me as follows: “Sultan al Bohra” contacted the authority, and also approached the prominent Shia scholars and requested them to remove the painting. Ulama appreciated his efforts and seconded his cause to remove the Bidaat. Syedna Taher Saifuddin also noticed that the condition of the Maqsurah on the grave of Imam Husain has become dilapidated and required to be replaced. He decided to fix a new Maqsurah on the grave. When he returned to Mumbai, he gave instructions to fabricate a new Maqsurah, in a place known as “Al Qasr al Husaini” (this place was selected as final resting place of this great Dai. Maqsurah of Imam Husain and Amir al Mumineen Ali were prepared here. It is known around the global village as “Rawzat Tahera”- a wonder of world, as entire Quraan is inscribed on the inner walls of the Shrine). Master Indian craftsmen showed their utmost ability with devotion in its construction. The Maqsurah is made of 500 gold coins (each coin consisted 12 grams weight) and 200 thousand coins of silver, beautified with most precious gems. (“Note Book”- Ayatullah Behr al Ulum, Najaf, Iraq)

A.H. 1354 Under the instruction of the government of Iraq, the famous third Minarat, which was built by Marjaan, slave of Emperor Awees Jalaery, was demolished. Those 600 years old famous and beautiful Minarat was one of the wonders, which also increased the exterior beauty of al Mashad. The major motive behind the destruction was to misappropriate the funds of the trusts, which were fixed and donated exclusively for the maintenance of that Minarat. Finally that trusts were utilized completely for the Sunni establishments.

A.H. 1358 – C.E. 21st Feb., 1939Al Dai al Fatemi, Sultan al Bohra, Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin offered a set of beautiful unique Maqsurah of solid silver and gold, which was fixed in the Rawzat.

A.H. 1360 – C.E. 29th Jan., 1941 51st Al Dai al Mutlaq, vicegerent of the Fatemi Imam, Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin, rebuilt the western Minarah. He spent a huge amount generously for the purpose of gold plating all the Minaar. From top to bottom, pure gold was installed. In the history of devotion, he achieved this honour after the munificent contribution of the Emperor of Tibristan, Mohammad bin al Hasan al Hasni, who served in the year 283 A.H.

A.H. 1367- C.E. 20th Dec., 1948 Syed Abd al Rasul Khalsi, Administrator of Karbala acquired the houses in the neighborhood of the courtyard according to the price fixed by the government, to build a road around the Mashad and to extend the courtyard.


  1. “Bihaar al Anwaar”, vol.98, pg.105,Iran
  2. “Sawaab al Aamaal”, page No.81,India
  3. “Kamil al Ziyaraat”, page No.183,India
  4. “Tatammat al Muntaha”, Shaikh Abbas al Qummi, page No. 240-241,Iran
  5. “Al Manaqib”, vol.4, page 64,Beirut
  6. An excerpt from lecture of Dr. Walid Al-Bayati about razing of Islamic signs in the holy cities of Makkah and Medinah delivered in Al-Abrar Foundation Center, London, United Kingdom
  7. “History of demolition of Islamic heritage”, By: Syeda Abeeda tuz Zahra Moosavi Advocate
  8. “Tarikhe Shiane Ali”, Ali Husain Rizvi, Imamiyah academy – Karachi
  9. “Tarikhe Najdu Hijaz”, Mufti Mohammad Abdulqayyum Qadri, page No. 57,Lahore
  10. “Diary”- Ayatullah Behr al Ulum, Najaf, Iraq

The Writer is Attorney at Law & Religious Scholar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s