Meeting 5: The Impacts of Karbala on Vigilance of Muslims Part 1
Imam Husayn (a.s.): “Indeed, I did not revolt (against the tyrannical regime of Bani-Ummayah) joyfully, arrogantly, to be an oppressor or a corrupted one, rather, I revolted persuading the reformation of the Islamic Ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet”.
Unlike a hasty approach to the event of Karbala which may reflect the idea that the revolution of Imam Husayn was unfulfilled and it was an unsuccessful struggle, when we carefully study the historical events after the tragedy of Karbala we will, no doubt, come to the conclusion that the revolution of Imam Husayn was not only successful in its own nature, but was also the major cause of all the revolutionary movements which took place after Karbala.
In fact, Karbala, in the history of Islam should be regarded as a turning point in the reforming of Muslims. It was only after the tragedy of Karbala that Muslims were encouraged to revolt against all tyrannical regimes, especially the followers of Ahlul-Bait who found their ideal role model. ‘When the Master of the youth of Paradise was willing to sacrifice his life and shed his blood to reform the corrupted society, of course my blood is not more respected than his’.
Such medicine was injected into the semi-dead body of the whole Islamic Ummah by the revolution of Imam Husayn. As a result, all salvation movements, initiated one after the other, right after the tragedy of Karbala were, and still are, inspired by the great revolution of Imam Husayn (a.s.). To this end, Karbala is the luminous torch of human salvation which is lighting forever the high peak of Islamic history to awaken all people throughout the ages.
Imam Husayn and Jesus Christ have something in common. Both were reformers, and according to Christian belief, both were martyred. However, there is a main point which makes Imam Husayn different from the Jesus of present Christianity, i.e. the martyrdom of Jesus in Christianity is a personal issue. Jesus, in Christian belief, has been crucified to save his believers. There is no more responsibility on his followers.
Whereas, our Imam Husayn was martyred to awaken people, and his mission was not a personal mission. His role in the history of mankind is as a role model that must be followed, whereas the role of Jesus, according to Christianity, was to descend to Earth as an embodiment of God, the Father, to be sacrificed for the guaranteed salvation of his believers. Jesus, according to this doctrine, is the personification of God and a ransom and hence his embodiment is impossible to be followed.
There is no doubt that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn had a great impact on the then Islamic Ummah. It was such a great catastrophe that shocked the whole Ummah, to the extent that it not only awakened many Muslims, but some of the Bani-Ummayah were also impressed by the tragedy of Karbala. Historians such as Dr. Hassan Ibrahim in his book ‘The History of Islam’, Kharbotali in ‘The History of Iraq’, and Philip Hatti in ‘The History of Arabs’ have all asserted that the event of Ashoora increased drastically the number of Shiites, to the extent that as P. Hatti says: “We may be able to claim that Shiite movements initiated from the tenth of Moharam 61 A.H.”
Nicolson, the famous orientalist holds in his book ‘The Political History of Islam’ that “the tragedy of Karbala made Bani-Ummayah feel regretful for what they had done, for it united the Shiites to revenge unanimously, especially in areas such as Iraq and Iran, where the new Muslims would like to be rid of the influence of Arabs.”
Mind you, the policy of race discrimination and the privilege given to Arabs by Bani-Ummayah, had annoyed many new Muslims. Among all Muslims, the followers of Ahlul-Bait were the first to be shocked. The following are some of the main revolutionary movements which took place after the tragedy of Karbala which were inspired by Ashoora.
All reliable historical sources have narrated this tragedy which took place almost 3 years after Ashoora. Although right after the catastrophe of Karbala so many protests were mobilized against Yazid, Madina the centre of revelation and the main base of the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) in which hundreds of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) were still living, rebelled against the tyranical government of Bani-Ommaya.
Abdullah son of Handhaleh (bathed by the angels)1 who later on led the movement, upon receiving the news of Karbala, paid a visit along with a delegation from Madina to Damascus, the capital of Yazid. He reported later on, out of what he had observed in Damascus, that the extent of the corruption had gone so far, he wouldn’t be surprised if they were stoned in Damascus from the sky.
As a result, upon his arrival to Madina, he mobilized an army against the government. They captured the House of the Governor in Madina, deported the governor, Othman Ibn Mohammad Ibn Abu-Sofyan from the city and declared an autonomy. By doing this, the first capital of Islam was released from the influence of Bani-Omayya. However, as soon as the news was reported to Syria, Yazid dispatched one of his most vicious and murderous officers named Muslim Ibn Aqabeh2 along with his troops which consisted of 5000 soldiers to suppress the revolt.
In spite of a heroic defense from Madinians, the barbaric troops of Yazid ultimately conquered the city. According to Mas’odi, the famous historian, so many people including Bani-Hashim and the companions of the Prophet were killed. In short, Yazid had permitted his troops to enjoy their total freedom for 3 days in Madina, meaning no chastity, no property and no blood was respected. Tens of pages in the history of early Islam consist of descriptions of the Massacre of Madina.
Al-Fakhri in his History describes this bitter part of Islamic history as: during those 3 days, hundreds of the Prophet’s companions were killed. The troops of Yazid entered the Masjidul-Nabi, and polluted the mosque. Around 900 girls were raped. For many years, Madinians would not guarantee the virginity of their daughters when marrying them. By the way, although the people of Madina were defeated in that battle, the protesting flag was transferred to Mecca, where the Holy Mosque and the Qibla of Muslims were.
Right after the Massacre of Madina, Meccans had an uprising against the central government. Although this movement was also inspired by the revolution of Imam Husayn, the leader of the revolution of Mecca, Abdullah Ibn Zobair, had no intention of vengeance for Imam Husayn. In order for Yazid to suppress this movement too, he also ordered Muslim Ibn Aqabeh to attack Mecca, though Allah, the Almighty did not give him any further opportunity and he died on the way to Mecca.
At that stage, Hosain Ibn Nomayr, the murderer of Abbas at Karbala, led the army of Yazid. Ibn Zobair who failed to continue the defense, sought refuge in the Holy Mosque. However, the troops of Yazid had no respect and hence they started firing at the Mosque. As a result, the curtains of the Mosque were set on fire and some parts of the walls of the Ka’ba were destroyed by fire.
This event also took place in the year 63 A.H. and Yazid, the most vicious figure of Bani-Omayya’s tyranny died 11 days after the event of Mecca. Apparently, Meccans again were defeated in that battle. However, the more the crimes of Bani-Ummayah increased, the more the people rose up against Bani-Ummayah. The kingdom of Bani-Ummayah began shaking day by day until the beginning of the year 65 when the Bani-Ummayah dynasty fell into the rubbish bin of history forever. The details of the story will be discussed Inshallah in the next meeting.
Imam Husayn (a.s.): “Regarding Sakina, she is engrossed by the perpetual beauty of God and hence she is not ready to marry anyone.” Sakina was one of the daughters of Imam Husayn. She and her brother Abdullah (known as Ali-Asghar)3 were from the same mother, Robab. Based on the most reliable historical documents, Sakina must have been over the age of 9 in Karbala.
Since her cousin, Hasan Mothanna (the eldest son of Imam Hasan who was miraculously saved on the day of Ashoora after losing consciousness during the battle) had asked for her hand in marriage. As a matter of fact, Imam Husayn did not give her to Hasan, the reason being, she had been engrossed by the eternal beauty of God, as Imam Husayn has described her character. Instead, he offered his older daughter, Fatima.
It is interesting to know that she was about 70 years old when she died in the year 117 A.H.4 Her life coincided with the 4 Imams, i.e. her father, her brother and her nephews Imam Baqir and Imam Sadeq. She was such a knowledgeable lady that many Shiite and Sunni scholars have written her biography.5
She witnessed the whole catastrophe of Karbala. On the day of Ashoora she heard the painful voice of her father calling for assistance. In fact, she is one of the eye witness reporters of Ashoora who has quoted many things for us.
I am wondering which one of these to choose, whether the time that the bloodstained horse of Imam Husayn came back to the tents, the time that she threw herself on the body of her father, when in the evening of Ashoora her caravan passed over the martyrs, her painful experience of being exhibited for sale in the markets of Kufa and Damascus, her experience of being bound by iron chains all the way to Kufa and Damascus, or ...
I believe the most heart-breaking part of her tragedy, in the evening of Ashoora, when all the tents had been set on fire. Imagine the scene! Imagine the young children, orphaned boys and girls who had just lost their fathers. All throughout the day their throats had been on fire due to the intense thirst, and now their tents were on fire too. At the same time, the barbaric army of Ibn Ziad was plundering the tents. The whole land of Karbala was full of fire, smoke, plundering and savagery.
Let us listen to one piece of the story from Sakina herself: “I was in my tent when the enemies of Allah attacked it. They were so cruelly looking for whatever they could plunder, until one of them noticed the necklace that I was wearing. He attacked me, trying to grab it from my neck. I was escaping from him until he pulled off my scarf. I fell down unconscious and all I remember was that I awoke in the bosom of my aunt, Zainab.”
- 1. Handhaleh, the father of Abdullah was among the martyrs of the battle of Uhod who had just married one night before the battle. Since he had directly gone from his wedding night to the battle without having his ritual bath done, the Prophet gave him the title of ‘being bathed by the angels’. Abdullah, his son was the only child he left behind as a result of the one and only communication he had with his wife.
- 2. Due to his numerous crimes, some historians have named him instead of Muslim ‘ Mojrem’ (meaning criminal).
- 3. There are two different narrations in regards to the name of the baby of Imam Husayn. According to Ibn Shahr Ashoob and Ibn Tawoos, the name is Ali-Asghar, whereas Mofid in his book Ekhtesas, confirms the name as Abdullah.
- 4. Tabari 8:228, Shadharatul-Dhahab 1:154, Ibn-Athir 5:71
- 5. As there are so many misconceptions regarding the life of lady Sakina, for the best study of her life see: Moqarram : Sayyedah Sakina.