Map of Imam Husayn’s Journey to Karbāla′

About the Map

This map shows Imam Husayn’s journey from Medinah to Karbāla’ in 60/680 CE, and the journey of his family from Karbāla’ to Damascus and back to Karbāla’. The route of the Imam’s journey was determined by cities mentioned in Maqtal al‑Husayn by ′Abdul Razzaq Muqarram. Some of the cities are positioned according to locations given by Tavo in a map of Islamic Arabia until the death of the Prophet. The route that the Imam took from Mecca to Karbāla’ follows, in reverse, a popular pilgrim route from Kufah to Mecca, which later became Tariq Zubayda. The Imam followed this route until prevented by Hurr from continuing towards Kufah. Thereupon, he deviated from the route and headed towards Karbāla’. However, due to difficulty in determining the exact location, not all cities mentioned in Maqtal al‑Husayn appear on the map

The journey of the Imam’s family after the massacre of Karbāla’ in 10th Muharram 61/680 is described as going through major cites and the only names mentioned are Aleppo and Hamah. At that time two main routes existed from Kufah to Damascus. One followed the Euphrates Northwest to Aleppo and then South to Hamah, then Damascus. The other goes west across the desert directly to Damascus. It was concluded that the army took the Imam’s family on the river route through Aleppo and Hamah, and upon leaving Damascus the family used the desert route in order to reach Karbāla’ on the occasion of ‘Arba’in, 20th of Safar.

The following sources were consulted:

Al-Faruqi, Isma’il Ragi. Historical Atlas of the Religions of the World. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.
Iraq: Official Standard Names Approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Washington, D.C.: Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, 1957.
Powell, Grace L. Atlas of the Middle East. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1975.
Rebstock, Ulrich. “Das Islamisch Arabien his zum Tode des Propheten” in Tubinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO). Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1987.

Hasan Hussain Jalali
Chicago, 1994