Battle of Karbala

Hurr’s soldiers surrounded the Imam’s camp. but no one knew what was going to happen until two days later on the 4th of Muharram that another contingent of 4000 men arrived from Kufa. The next day Shimr arrived with another 10,000 men to fight an army of about 40 people, among them were men of over 80 and children of 13 and 11 and even a 6 month old baby, the youngest son of the Imam who was only a month old when Imam left Madina in the Month of Rajab 5 months ago. Shimr ordered the Imam and his entourage to leave the River Bank and pitch their tents away from it.

Imam’s brother Hazrat Abbas(AS) and others refused,but Imam told them to move the tents. The tents were moved about 200 yards away from he River Bank and the river was immediately occupied by the soldiers of Yazid newly arrived from Kufa.

Next day 7th, All water supply was stopped for the Imam’s party and soon the cry of thirst heard from the children in the camp. Whatever water they would have stored was finished within a day and by the 8th there was no water left in the camp.

In the scorching heat of the desert even a few hours without water was impossible yet for three days these people were
without water.

On the afternoon of the 9th, Yazid’s army moved forward in a formation of attack. Imam was informed and he sent Hazrat Abbas(AS) and Hazrat Ali Akber(AS) to enquire about this. The reply was that orders were from Kufa to commence fighting and finish off with the family of the Prophet(SAW).

Imam asked them to give them a stay of one night for they all wished to spend their last night in meditation and prayers to God.

The night was dark and horrible, flickering lights from the Camp of the Imam was showing few people busy in prayers. The sound of their prayers in unison was coming out of the camp as if Honey bees were busy to build their nest.

Whereas on the enemy side music and dancing had gone on all night. Many soldiers from Yazid’s army saw this difference and realised in awe who was on the path of God and who was not. Some soldiers slipped away from Yazid’s camp towards the Imam’s camp knowing fully well that if fighting started the next morning they would surely perish. About 30 such people moved to Imam’s camp.

Imam held a meeting of his battered and thirsty companions and told them that the enemy wanted only his life. They have no animosity with any one else. When no one moved Imam asked that the candles should be put off, in case some of them were ashamed to show themselves running away from the Imam. The Imam also said that he was taking away the burden of the Oath of allegiance from them and made them free to go. “Take few of my relations with them” But when the candles were lit again, all were there, no one moved. One of the older companions named Muslim Ibn Awsajah came forward and declared that they were all one solid rock to fight for the Imam. If they were killed 70 times and then were made alive again they would still prefer to achieve martyrdom with the Imam rather than live with the oppressive rulers like Yazid.

Morning appeared on 10th Muharram 61 AH (October 10 680AD)and before Sunrise Hazrat Ali Akber(AS) gave the Azan and all of them completed their morning prayers behind their Imam.

Imam made his brother Hazrat Abbas(AS) as the flag bearer of the tiny army of 70 persons in all when all of a sudden two more soldiers defected from Yazid’s army. One was Hur who was the leader of the contingent who brought the Imam’s party to Kerbala and also his son.

Both of them arrived with their hands tied to apologise to the Imam for what they had done and asked his permission to fight for them and become first martyrs.

Imam did not give orders to commence fighting until arrows came from the enemy camp. Then Hur went out to fight. Overwhelmed by the numbers on the other side, he soon died. His son went and he also died.

Then one by one each companion of the Imam went and died until Zohr time when Saeed ibn Abullah al Bijilly came forward and informed the Imam that it was prayer time for Zohr. Battle was raging, arrows were coming towards the Imam’s camp, how could they have formed lines for prayers.

But they stood in single foil to perform their last prayers while two companions of the Imam Saeed and Zohair stood in front of this line to hold back all the arrows that were coming towards them.

Once the Imam finished the last words of the prayers these two soldiers died of exhaustion. The Last of the companions of the Imam died and only the relatives remained.

First to go was Imam’s son Ali Akber who fought bravely but thirst for three days was the most important factor in the fall of these martyrs. He was also killed and then Imam’s nephew Qasim went and was killed.

Then four of his brothers, Osman, Jafar, Abullah and Hazrat Abbas(AS) were killed.

Imam then brought his 6 month old son Ali Asgher. He brought him in his arms under the shade of his cloak. He told the audience, "this baby has not done any harm to you. He is thirsty, give him some water." The Commander of Yazid’s army ordered Hurmula who was the best marksman to kill the baby. Hurmulah pulled the bow and the arrow killed the baby instantly.

Imam brought the baby near the camp, informed his mother of the martyrdom of the baby. He then buried the baby in the sand.

Afterwards Imam himself went for battle. But before that he introduced himself again that he was the grand son of the Prophet in case anyone had any doubts about him and that his guilt was only to refuse to accept the Oath of allegiance of the Tyrannical ruler Yazid.

The enemy was thirsty for the blood of the Imam, they were blind in their eagerness to kill the last of the family of the Prophet. They fell upon his injured and tired body like blood hounds and soon the Imam was also killed. The battle ended in one day.

The evening of the 10th Muharram was the darkest for the women and children of the family of the Prophet. Camps were set alight and burnt, their possessions were looted. It was Late at night while they were huddled together waiting for further tortures from the enemy side, that they saw the wife of Hur coming towards them with food and water. They were hungry and thirsty but none of them was keen to take anything, not even the youngest of the children.

Imam Hussain’s youngest daughter Sakina took the tumbler of water and ran towards the open field. Her aunt Zainab asked where was she running to and she replied, her little brother Ali Asgher was thirsty, she was taking some water for him, not knowing that little Ali Asgher was already dead, being the victim of Hurmula’s arrow.

Night passed and the morning came with more pain and grief when they saw that the bodies of the enemy were buried but the grand son of the Prophet with all his sons and brothers and companions lie unburied on the desert sand. The Women and children were taken prisoners with the ailing son of Imam, the 22 year old Ali, leading this battered caravan towards Kufa as the Imam of the family. He was now the 4th Imam.

The Bodies of these Martyrs were buried on 3rd day by tribesmen of Bani Asad, guided by the fourth Imam who was with them miraculously while in prison in Kufa.

Today, death of Hussein ibn Ali is commemorated during every Muharram, with the most important of these days being its tenth day, Ashura.


Imam Hussain’s(AS) body is buried in Karbala, near the site of his death. The Imam Hussein Shrine was later built over his grave; it is now a holy site of pilgrimage for Shia Muslims.

Commemoration of Imam Hussain ibn Ali(AS)

Mourning of Muharram

Ashura is the day that Shia muslims all over the world commemorate the death of Imam Hussain ibn Ali(AS), his relatives and his followers. It is especially mourn on the first ten days of Muharram, first month of the Islamic calendar, and ends by the 10th day. Although, the mourning continues through the whole month and well into Safar till eighth rabi-ul-awal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.