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The Tragedy of Karbala
By Dr S.Q. Hussain

The new moon of the month of Muharram heralds the New Year of Islamic Calendar. It is customary for all nations to celebrate their New Year with feasting and rejoicing but in contrast, all Islamic countries go into mourning. The New Year is not ushered in with the ringing of bells, display of flags and buntings but by singing dirges and beating of breasts. A person who is not familiar with Islam and its history is at times puzzled at what he beholds and out of curiosity asks for the reasons for the heart rending scenes he sees. When he is told that the mourning is for the Martyrs of Karbala, who laid down their lives for the cause of truth, more than thirteen hundred years ago, he naturally wants to know who the martyrs were and how their sacrifices and suffering evoke such emotions and stir the hearts of such a large number of Muslims in spite of the lapses of centuries.

The history of mankind is replete with the instances of great souls laying down their lives for the sake of ideals they cherished for the sake of causes they espoused, for principles they upheld. Such noble examples are recalled and remembered but very seldom mourned like the tragedy of Karbala. To understand the real significance of this great carnage and its impact on Islamic history it is necessary to study the annals of Islam from its inception. What led Imam Husain, the grand son of the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to sacrifice everything for the sake of truth and the principles of Islam, and what was the cause he was defending, can be understood only by an unbiased and dispassionate study of the chronicles of those times. Only then it can be appreciated that it was not a family feud culminating into a massacre but a fight by Imam Husain, son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of the Prophet (SAW)and his devoted followers, who suffered untold miseries and hardships and laid down their lives for the sake of principles inculcated by Islam, for the ideals which they considered far more precious than their lives.or a peice of land. It was the fight for principles, to show mankind for all time to come that might is not right; to establish beyond doubt that suffering and martyrdom are essential when the cause is just; to prove that the victor and the vanquished cannot be determined by the immediate results of a battle or war but by the long term repercussions of the clash of these ideologies on the course of events and influence on the minds of men.

The incidents of that fateful day-10th of Muharram of 61 AH and its aftermath were so soul stirring that they have left indelible impressions on the minds of millions of Muslims who recall them with the deepest feelings and emotions. The sufferings of Imam Husain and those with him, who participated in those events defy description and it is not possible to do justice to them. This is just a brief attempt to recollect the events of the day and the happenings thereafter.

Holy Prophet is reported to have said that: ‘whoever the friend of Hasan and Husain is my friend and whoever is their enemy is my enemy.’

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