Every year on the 10th of Muharam the Shia Muslims all over the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The commemoration start from the first day and the peak reached on the 10th day. Today is the first day of Muharam.
Food coked and given free. Pic: children offer fruits and food to the Coalition Forces
Imam Hussein is the grand son of Prophet Mohammad from his daughter Fatima and his cousin and son in law Ali Bin Abi Talib. Prophet Mohammad used to call him and his brother Hassan as his beloved sons. He is the one who chose their names after they born. They grow in the environment of Bano Hashem, the tribe of Mohammad and Ali. Unlike Bano Omaiyah, Bano Hashem rejects corruption, oppression and racial discrimination. Bano Omaiyah considers themselves above the others and the Arabs above the non Arabs. This discrimination reached its peak during the reign of Maawiyah Bin Abo Sofiyan and his son Yazid in Damascus in Syria. One of the major causes for Imam Hussein to reject the leadership of Maawiyah and Yazid is because of their corruption, oppression, slavery and injustice.
It is very difficult to elaborate about the history in details but will try to write very briefly about the main points.
After the death of Prophet Mohammad and before his burial a new era of struggle for power started. Al Insars who were the inhabitants of Madinah gathered in a place called Saqefat Bani Saiedah which is their community meeting place and selected among them Saad Bin Uobadah to be the leader. The Mohajreen who migrated with Prophet Mohammad the tribe of Koriesh heard this. They left the body of the Prophet and want to the same place. The two sides clashed and argued about who should be the leader. The scene was chaotic with threats from both sides. Ali and the family of Prophet haven't attended and have been ignored. Ali was adopted by Mohammad when he was a boy to help his uncle Abi Talib during economical crises. He was the son in law of the Prophet, his cousin, and brother by choice and the first one to embrace Islam after the prophet and his deputy at least according to many Muslims at that time. Ali was poor and he was disliked by the rich aristocrats of Qurishis.
The trees here is the site of Alskefa
The meeting resulted in taking allegiance to Abo Baker who was one of the Immigrants to Madenah. Some Muslims rejected and some asked to wait until Ali and the prophet kinsmen finished from his burial but the matter moved forward by some. That was a breakthrough point in the history of division in Islam. Soon after this many Muslims refused to pay charity to Abo Baker and that was suppressed by force led by Khaled Bin Alwaled who killed the leader of the region Malek Bin Nowerah and married his beautiful wife on the same day!
Ali (the father of Hussein) hasn't submitted his allegiance until the death of Fatima 6 months later. At this time the power established well in the hands of Abo Baker and Omar and have he not doing so he may have been killed. Abo baker and Omar used Ali as a consultant for them. During the reign of Othman who is from Bano Omayiah there were a lot of unrest in Egypt and Iraq and other parts due to the oppressive and unjust behaviours of the local leaders. Othman appointed leaders among his family and some of them are arrogant to the people. The unrest resulted in surrounding Othman house and Ali tried to stop things but was unable so the revolted people killed Othman. This was a major point in the history of Islam. Here the division started to take a different shape.
Now Ali has been selected by the people to lead and he refused initially but the revolted people and others convinced him that they need his leadership now! He accepted but Muawyaih in Damascus who was the cousin of Othman refused that and entered into many wars with Ali. After the death of Ali (killed during prayer in Kuffa mosque), Maawiyah signed agreement with Ali's eldest Son Hassan to stop blood shade and the power will go to Al Hassan after him but Maawiyah killed Al Hassan by putting poison in his honey. He then forced every one to give allegiance to his son Yazid after him. After his death Yazid sent for Madenah to ask the people to recognize him as the leader. He instructed his army if any one refused to give allegiance to be killed and named Al Hussein as one of the most important people to start with.
Yazid was arrogant, oppressive, and unjust man. His messenger to Al Hussein in the governor of Al Madenah HQ asked Al Hussein after summoning him to submit his will to Yazid. Imam Hussein knew if he does so it means the end of the moral aspects in the religion and the acceptance of the slavery dictatorship of Yazid. He refused and asked the messenger to wait for a while. Imam Hussein then decided to leave with his family (wife, children, brothers and some others) to Iraq because he knew Yazid already planned to assassinate him. He took his family because if he leaves them Yazid will take them as captives. The followers of his father and grand father in Iraq have written to him before to go there and provide him with protection. He then made his mind and went from Madenah to Makkah then across the desert towards Kuffa.
AlHussein leaving the city of his grand father to Iraq
Yazid arranged a huge army of 33,000 men very well equipped and appointed Oubiad Alla Bi Ziad as the governor of Kuffa. Bin Ziad was a known person for his arrogance, un-mercifulness, oppression, and every thing inhuman. He was governor on Basrah. Since his arrival to Kuffa worked in two ways, threat and killing and buying the people with money. He captured the messenger of Imam Hussein and his cousin Muslim Bin Akeel; beating him and throws him from the roof of the palace then crucified him with Hani Bin Urowa his hostess.
Yazid sent his strongest army while Bin Ziad sent an army to surround Imam Hussein and his family and prevent them from changing their direction until Yazid army arrives. Imam Hussein have just over 100 with him most of them among his family.They forced Imam Hussein and his family (the family of Prophet Mohammad) to retreat to Kerbala. Kerbala is two phrases word; ker means anguish and bala means vexation.
Imam Hussein debated with them that they are themselves send for him to come and tried to convince them that they are in actual fact surrounding the women and children of their Prophet but they refused to let him to go. They said that he has to submit completely his will to Bin Ziad and then Yazid or he will face his fate. He showed them more than 500 letters that they sent but they denied it! After a long journey through the desert his children were thirsty as well as the women and the men. They prevent him from the Euphrates water. He got a 6 months old baby who was crying aggressively for water and he took him to the army asking for water just for this baby, instead they throw the baby with a dart which strike him on his neck and killed him instantly. Imam Hussein then took the blood of his baby in his hand and throw it to heaven asking God to witness what these people done to a baby belong to the family of their prophet.
On the 10th of Muharam around midday Yazid army attacked Imam Hussein camp. Imam Hussein first advised them saying that we are until now one nation but if the sword happened between us then we became two nations; you are one and we are different. From that time the practical division between Shias and Sunni manifest itself very clearly and widely. Shia means the supporters or followers of, and here it means the supporters of Ali and Ahil Al Biat which means the family of the Prophet Mohammad.
The night before the war Imam Hussein gathered his family and followers and told them that the army want him himself and so he told them you are free to go while it is dark but all of them refused. One of those who fought with him was a Christian young man called John.
Last moments before battle
In few hours they killed every one and when Imam Hussein remained alone he asked loudly if there is any one protects the family of the messenger of God! They attacked him and then racked him with the feet of their horses when he tumbled. They then cut his head and the heads of his brothers and followers and raise them on spears. After this they attacked the women and put the tents in fire. The children escaped in all directions and the women tried to protect them. They beaten the children and women by the whips and ripped off their belonging. Then they took them as captives!!! Children and women!! Among them was Zainab the sister of Imam Hussein who witnessed the massacre of her sons, brothers, nephews and other relatives in the bloodiest way of barbaric killing.
Back without Hussein! Zainab asked; Oh horse, where is Hussein my beloved brother?
They cut the heads and left the bodies unburried!
Yazid army set fire in the camp and terrified women and children.
This is the present site where Imam Hussein killed and slaughtered
Bin Ziad looked to the head of Imam Hussein and start to strike his mouth with a cane, feeling the joy and happiness filling his sadistic inhuman personality. He then turned to humiliate the women of the family of Prophet Mohammad. Zainab then delivered a strong speech describing the magnitude of their crime. Bin Ziad ordered his guards to kill Ali the son of Hussein who was a young boy and haven't joined the battle because he was ill. Zainab throw her self over the boy and said if you want to kill him you have to kill me first before him. Bin Ziad withdraws his devilish wish after Zainab insistence.
The Tomb of the body of Al Hussein. The head buried in Cario!
The tomb of the martyrs who died with Hussein
The army then took the women and children on a camel caravan to Damascus. They passed many cities and villages. They told the people that those women and children are among foreigners who were out law and refused to submit to the Caliph Yazid. Fear and Terror producing strategy exactly like Saddam. They haven't told the truth that they are the prophet's family to prevent revolt.
Captives with chains to Bin Ziad.
Before they arrive to Damascus there was a Priest in his remote chapel he spotted the caravan from a distance and saw a light shining from the head of Hussein up to the sky. The Priest stopped them and asked them who is that head for? They refused to tell him. After he gave them money they told him that the head belongs to Al Hussein the son of Fatima the daughter of Prophet Mohammad. He got some money with him and asked them to take it and let the head with him for a while. They took the money and gave him the head. The Priest washed it and heard recitation of the holly Quran coming from the head!
In Damascus Yazid put them chained in a ruin before depart them to Madenah. Many of the children died from starvation, diseases and beating during this long journey. The little daughter of Imam Hussein while in the abandond ruin in Damascus start to cry and insisted to see her father. Zainab tried to please her but she never stopped crying. Then they brought the head and told her this is your father. She hugged the head and took a deep sigh and passed.
In the palace of the tyrant!
Imam Hussein remembered as a symbol of freedom and dignity against tyrant and slavery. Hussein never bowed to tyrant and oppressive regime of Yazid. This is why the similar tyrant like Saddam prevents the commemoration because of its symbolic state which rejects not only Yazid but every tyrant in history like Saddam. Ghandi the strongman of India said (I learnt from Hussein how I be tyrannized and achieve victory!). A woman who was mourning in Muharam has been asked about it. She said to mourn for a beloved one is a personal thing which will fade with time but to mourn for Imam Hussein is to mourn for the mankind which will never fade as far as there is tyranny and oppression and slavery. Imam Hussein said; dignified death is better than humiliating life.
Many intellectuals wrote about Imam Hussein. Gerhard Konsilman a German journalist said that Yazid used to despise the people, salving and oppressing them and irresponsible sinful person. Imam Hussein by his realistic personality and death defeated the tyrant. His revolt was the ignition for the end of Umayyad density. Konsilman added that the dead Hussein was more dangerous on Yazid than the live Hussein. The martyrdom of Hussein in Kerbala remained the symbol for freedom, dignity and rejection of the tyrants.
There are some similarities between Jesus Christ and Hussein in that both of them rejected tyrant and wrongful and gave themselves in the way of freedom, salvation, dignity and righteous aspect of life. Their path is one and their salvation is by following their path of peace and justice. Before them Moses and Aaron defied the tyranny of Pharaoh and Aaron was deemed weak by his own people when Moses left to receive the Ten Commandments.
Al Hussein will remain as a revolution against all tyrants and oppressors. He will continue as a symbol for dignity and freedom for all the mankind and not only the Shias Muslims