Islamic Months · Muharram

The Tragedy of Karbala [Part 1]


In The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful & The Beneficent

On the 10th of Muharram 61 A.H., a most abominable and tragic event occurred in the desert of Karbala that resulted in the martyrdom (shahadah) of Hussain Ibn Ali radhiAllahi `anhu, the grandson of our Prophet sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam and the son of his daughter, along with most of the members of his family and their supporters. It should be borne in mind that this tragedy did not take place all of a sudden like a bolt from the blue. It was in fact the manifestation of the plot of Sabayees which had claimed the life of Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu, the third Caliph and the son-in-law of the Prophet sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam twenty-five years earlier. Caliph Uthman´s martyrdom took place on 18th of Dhul-Hijjah, 36 A.H.

We must not overlook the fact that the struggle between the forces of good and evil is a continuous process which never ends. In the history of mankind, evil has reigned supreme most of the time whereas the triumph of good has been sporadic and short-lived. Another well-established fact is that the evil forces, even if subdued and subjugated, never acknowledge total defeat. On the contrary, they become submissive for a while and lay low, waiting for an opportunity to strike back. Often the evil forces, when subdued, go underground but never abandon their struggle to cause rift and strife among their opponents. The Prophet of Islam sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam brought about an incomparable and unprecedented revolution in the history of mankind, a unique miracle for all times, and established a state and government to dispense justice to the people over a vast tract of the globe.

In the words of the Qur´an:

وَقُلْ جَآءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَـطِلُ

And say, “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished…” [Surah al-Isra : 81]

But toward the end of the Prophet´s revolution, the evil forces put on a disguise and lay low, waiting for the right moment for a counter-attack. Thus, immediately after the demise of the Prophet sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam, insurgencies raised their ugly heads against the Islamic state. False prophets and defiants of Zakat challenged the central authority and waged wars against the state of Madeenah. These were the counter-revolutionary forces, determined to disintegrate the newly established Islamic state; but through resolute and prompt action, Abu Bakr Siddique radhiAllahi `anhu, the first Caliph, defeated them and consolidated the achievements of the Prophet´s Islamic Revolution. It was a great service to Islam rendered by the first Caliph who had a short but glorious reign.

In the next twenty years which include the reigns of Umar radhiAllahi `anhu and Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu, the second and third Caliph of Islam, many more countries were conquered under the banner of Islam and the Muslim empire extended over a vast expanse of the globe, comprising Iraq, Syria, Iran on one side and a large part of North Africa including Egypt and Morocco on the other. But the historical process has its immutable laws.

As the Revolution of the Prophet sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam was challenged by the reactionary movements on the Arab land, the same happened with the conquests of those two Caliphs. The first target of these reactionaries was Umar radhiAllahi `anhu who was assassinated by Abu Luloo Feroze, a Persian slave from Iran. It was purely an Iranian plot hatched by Hurmuzan, an Iranian general, who thought that if Umar radhiAllahi `anhu was removed from the scene, the empire of Islam would fall like a house of cards. But by the grace of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, it survived the calamity.

Abdullah Ibn Saba, a Jew from Yemen, under the garb of a Muslim, took his sojourn at Madeenah. He had all the trappings of an expert plotter and the Jewish genius at intrigues, an attribute of his clan. He planted subversive ideas among the people. He pleaded for the usurped rights of the house of the Prophet sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam, carried out a propaganda campaign against Caliph Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu and incited the people to revolt. He declared Ali radhiAllahi `anhu to be the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam and dubbed Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu as a usurper. He told people that every Prophet has a wasee and Ali radhiAllahi `anhu is the wasee of Prophet Mohammad sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam and, therefore, entitled to be the caliph after the Prophet. He also preached the divinity of Ali radhiAllahi `anhu, thus striking at Tauheed, the very root of Islam.

The Iranians, who had embraced Islam only a few years before, were taken in by this propaganda because they had a long history of kingship and hero-worship. They were familiar with the divine rights of kings, and hero-worship was diffused in their blood. They readily accepted these ideas and became their champions.

Abdullah Ibn Saba travelled all over the Muslim lands and set up his propaganda centers at Basra and Kufa, but his attempts failed in Damascus. Then he went to Egypt where he formed a party of his supporters. Consequently, the last two years of Caliph Uthman´s radhiAllahi `anhu reign were filled with machinations, intrigue, and turmoil all over Muslim territories. It culminated in the most unjustified murder (martyrdom) of Caliph Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu who was the ruler of a vast empire and had tens of thousands of soldiers under his command but refused to shed the blood of Muslims in self-protection. Governors of provinces from all over the empire besought the Caliph to allow them to send troops to quell the uprising and to protect his person from the rebels who had surrounded his residence, but he remained strict and steadfast in his decision. It is perhaps a unique and unprecedented episode in the entire history of mankind that a very powerful man, like the Caliph Uthman radhiAllahi `anhu, refused to use authority for his personal safety and let himself be assassinated.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala shower His blessings on him.

Book: The Tragedy of Karbala
Author: Dr. Israr Ahmad
Download PDF in Urdu: Saniha-e-Karbala_Book

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