Karbala...Karbala..the garden of swords, blood and inspiration for innumerable pens

Karbala is the word of right...the hymn on the lips of time.

Karbala is a poem...a rhyme of anguish and pain.

Karbala never passes away. Its sun never sets in the horizon of history. Its anguish can never be effaced from the conscience of freemen by the collective conspiracy of tyrants.

At Karbala clouds of blood rained and generations of martyrs and revolutionaries took root and sprouted. The sound of the fearless voice of Imam Hussein still echoes in the valley of Al-Tufoof, ringing in the ears of time. It is a hurricane that chafes and shakes the tyrants. It is a volcano of blood, violently jolting the despots' thrones. It awakens free consciences and stirs within man the spirit of revolution and Jihad. His voice is still echoing in the ears of mankind:

By Allah, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave."

Who actually is Hussein' What is the background of this exceptionally unique and great personality? This prominent man of history, the legend of epics, the word of pride and honour was no less the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the son of his daughter Fatimah al-Zahra and her cousin and husband the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abi-Talib bin Abdul-Mattalib bin Hashim.

The martyr Hussein was born in al-Madinah on the fifth of Sha'ban 4 A.H. His birth was applauded by the prophetic family. The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself named him Hussein.

He was raised under the care of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), his daughter Fatimah (a.s.) and the Commander of the Faithful Ali (a.s.). Hussein imbibed prophetic morals and drank deeply of the Islamic principles of justice and righteousness. He was dearly loved by the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), who used to carry him and his elder brother, Imam Hassan (a.s.) in his arms and declare expensively in front of his companions.

"O Allah, I love them and love those who love them."

He expressed his deeply felt love for Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) in these words:

"These two sons of mine are my two plants of sweet basil in this world."

"Whoever loves Hassan and Hussein then he loves me and whoever dislikes them then he dislikes me."

The Apostle of Allah would offer his prayers while Hassan and Hussein would take turns in straddling his back. Some of the companions of the Apostle of Allah would try to remove them therefrom but he would respond:

"Leave them, may my father and mother be their ransom, who ever loves me, he should love them."

"Whoever is pleased to look at a man from the people of paradise, then let him look at Hussein."

Thus Imam Hussein was introduced to the ummah, while still in the bloom of his childhood as a martyr. His status was identified by the Apostle of Allah lest the ummah do him harm.

Decades passed by. The disobedient forgot the words of the Apostle of Allah regarding the high rank of Hussein. They caused grief to the Apostle of Allah by brutally killing his grandson.

"Ibn Umar reminded Muslims of this as it was reported that, 'Once Ibn Umar was asked about the hajj (pilgrim) and whether it was permissible to kill flies'. He retorted, "The people of Iraq ask me about the killing of flies during hajj, whereas they had killed the son of the daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.)'. The Apostle of Allah referred to them as, 'My two plants of sweet basil in this world.'

History provides another insight, taken from Anas bin Malik, in which he compared two scenes; the first of which was that of the Apostle of Allah kissing Hussein on his mouth and hugging him. The second one showed Ibn Ziyad the Umayyad governor of Kufa, following the martyrdom of Hussein, poking the head of Hussein which had been placed in a basin. He reported, "After the murder of Hussein bin Ali (a.s.), his head was carried to Ibn Ziyad who started to poke at the teeth with his cane and said, "He was good-looking.' 'Let me disturb you', I said, 'I saw the Apostle of Allah kiss the place you poke at on his mouth'." This account was reported by al-Dhah'hak.

Abu-Bakr al-Siddiq said:

"I heard the Apostle of Allah saying Hassan and Hussein are two lords of the youth of paradise."

Thus was Hussein in the heart of the Apostle of Allah and described in his divine message. He was brought up in the noblest and most dignified house in Islam: Namely the house of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.). Hussein partook of his virtues and principles, hence he was the symbol of piety and example of faithfulness, asceticism and worship. He was unflinching and brave in defending the ummah and of magnificently outstanding personality. He firmly adhered to right and was strong-willed and never feared the censure of any censurer in defending the divine laws.

It is because of these majestic attributes, his ingenious personality, and his lofty social rank that Hussein was destined to become a dynamic, active force in Islamic history and his life a brilliant testament leaving an indelible mark on all generations. Honour enshrined the visage, of Hussein in the heart of every freedom-loving individual who knows humanity's real worth and the merit of principle and values.

The Muslims loved the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and revered hussein (a.s.j as one of the Imams from this household. Consequently, the catastrophe of his loss set off continuous pangs of pain in the ummah's conscience, and became a ceaseless cause of sadness. For these reasons, this personality won the hearts and minds of people. The magnetic power of Hussein made emotions overflow and the hearts cling passionately to him. Poets, generation after generation, during these fourteen centuries created inspired verse concerning him. The wellspring of this particular literature has yet to dry up. The poetic and artistic depiction of deepest remorse created by that tragedy and sacrifice are still pulsing with life.

People wrote incessantly but the ink did not desiccate nor did expressiveness become stale. In his name uprisings were commenced, the spring of blood did not cease to flow, nor did the wills of aspirants to that noble path wane. In his name slogans were chanted and transformed into institutions that did not die. Nor did the myriad voices echoing the magnificently grand Husseini uprising trail off.


Muslims knew full well that it was the flesh of the Apostle of Allah from which the blood is still gushing on the dust of Karbala. A heinous crime was enacted against the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that can never be expiated short of punishing the enemies of Islam and reviving the values of the revolt. Thus rebellions exploded and the penitents rose up in arms. The blood of Hussein was the catalyst that shook the Ummayad throne and pulled it down.

Feelings of guilt and the complex of having failed the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.) cemented in the Muslims' conscience in the wake of Hussein's martyrdom. As a result, men seeking vengeance rose up and movements dedicated to punishing the criminals were formed. This was characterized by the armed protest of the "Tawwabeen" (penitents) and al-Mukhtar who avenged the murder of Hussein. There was a series of revolutions and their repercussions have yet to die down.

Muslims have continuously sat in sessions for remembering Hussein. They relieved the massacre of al-Taf from the very day of Hussein's martyrdom till the present. The wailing did not cease and the tears did not vanish. The calamity which is still vivid grows and interacts with the human conscience, affects the ummah's awareness and intensifies its feelings of grief. A literary school took shape and a Husseini tradition evolved which nurtures the tragedy and revives it and relates it perpetually to successive generations. Thus was Karbala; a brilliant torch for revolt against tyranny, a symbol for revolutionaries, a cause for grief and wailing. Hussein is a touchstone of love and loyalty erected in the hearts of every noble and free man.

He is the example for the self-conscious, uncompromising revolutionary...the one who advocated the rights of the oppressed. He is one of the near relatives of the Prophet whom Allah orders us to love:

"... Do not ask for any reward for it but love for my near relatives and whoever earns good, we give him more of good therein..."

Hussein was a member of the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.) whom Allah has kept uncleanness away from:

"Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the house! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying." Holy Qur'an (33:33)

Hussein was one of those counted with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) when the contest of prayers with the Christians of Najran was staged:

"And whoever disputes with you concerning him (Jesus) after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves, then let us earnestly pray for the curse of Allah on the liars". Holy Qur'an (3:61)