The Battle of Kerbala

Close to the end of his life Ameer Muawiyyah bin Abu Sufyaan (RA-Radiallahu `Anhu – May Allah be pleased with him) decided to appoint his son Yazid as khalifa of the Muslims, this was an unprecedented act in the history of Islam. No ruler had prior to this appointed his son or family as successor. Several of the Sahaba (RA) were dissatisfied with this deviation from the standard established by The Meseenger of Allah (Sallalahu `Alaihi wasallam) and his righteous guided Khulafa.

Of the Sahaba (RA) present at that time `Abdullah bin Umar, `Abdullah bin `Abbas and `Abdur Rahmaan bin Abu Bakr (RA) opted to accept the reign of Yazid to avoid further bloodshed in the Muslim Ummah. They did not want to see the repeat of conflicts of Siffin and Jamal, which cost many Muslim lives and threw the Ummah into turmoil. `Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) took refuge in Makkah and he remained the ruler of Hijaaz (Makkah, Medina and surrounding areas) for a further ten years.

The other objector to Yazid becoming the Khalifa was Husain (RA) the youngest son of Hazrat `Ali (RA) and Hazrat Fatima (RA). Based on his understanding of the tenets of Islam he understood this to be a deviation from the path of his grandfather, Rasulallah (Sallalahu `Alaihi wasallam). Husain (RA) escaped from Medina to Makkah when the pressures of the governor, Waleed bin `Utba, intensified his efforts to compel Husain (RA) to accept Yazid as the Khalifa of the Muslim Ummah.

While in Makkah, he began receiving letters of support from Kufa – encouraging him to come to Kufa where he will find many supporters who will help him oppose Yazid. When the number of letters of support exceeded 10’000, Husain (RA) considered going to Kufa, despite the objections of the other Sahaba (RA). He sent his cousin, Muslim bin `Aqeel to investigate the situation. `Abdullah bin `Abbas and `Abdullah bin `Umar (RA) tried in vain to dissuade Husain (RA) from leaving the sanctuary of Makkah and going to Kufa. Realising that he would not heed their advice, they tried to convince him to leave his family in Makkah and make the journey with a few of his companions. But Husain (RA) had committed himself to opposing this deviation from the Path of Islam; and was prepared to sacrifice his life and the lives of his family to ensure that the Sunnah (Path of Nabi Sallalahu `Alaihi wasallam) is not altered. Shariah had established the rules for Mashwera (Mutual consultation).

When the cousin of Hazrat Husain (RA), Muslim bin Aqeel arrived in Kufa he found tremendous support for Husain. Nearly 15’000 supporters gathered to pray with him demonstrating their backing of Husain (RA). Encouraged by this situation, Muslim bin `Aqeel wrote back saying the situation was favourable and that Husain (RA) should come to Kufa. But the situation quickly deteriorated when the new governor of Kufa, `Ubayd-Allah bin Ziyad took power and began persecuting the supporters of Husain eventually killing Muslim bin `Aqeel on 9 Dhul-Haijjah 60AH (680 AD) without any resistance from the people of Kufa.

Husain (RA) departed for the 1100km long journey on the 8th Dhul-Hijjah to avoid any conflict in the holy city during Hajj. En-route he heard of the murder of his cousin, Muslim bin `Aqeel and of his supporters deserting his cause, but decided to continue to Kufa saying these famous words:

“… The death is a certainty for mankind, just like the trace of necklace on the neck of young girls. And I am enamored of my ancestors like eagerness of Ya`qoob  to Yusuf (AS)… Everyone, who is going to devote his blood for our sake and is prepared to meet Allah, must depart with us…” (Lohouf, By Sayyid ibn Tawoos, Tradition No.72)

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