Islamic History


Ashura refers to a tragedy in the early history of Islam when Imam Al-Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), members of his family, and dozens of companions, were deliberately killed by Yazid’s forces in Karbala, Iraq. The term Ashura means in Arabic ‘the tenth’ and denotes the tenth of Muharram (the first month in the Hijri calendar) – the day when Imam Al-Hussein killed. In this context, the vast majority of Shiites’ Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Al-Hussein annually from the first to the tenth of Muharram.

Generally, the term Ashura intertwines with term of Karbala where the tragedy occurred and where Imam Al-Hussein, a member of his family and dozens of his companions were buried. This tragedy, which occurred on 10 Muharram 61 AH (≈10 October 680), cannot be a considered a military battle between two forces because thousands of Yazid’s army attacked nearly a hundred of Imam Al-Hussein’s fighters (from his family and companions).

The attack was unjustified and it was under a pretext that Imam Al-Hussein did not pledge his allegiance to Yazid who illegitimately designed himself the caliphate after the death of his father Mua‘wiya ben Abi-Sufyan. Indeed, Imam Al-Hussein refrained from pledging his allegiance and pointed that Yazidis unsuitable to lead Muslims, and hence he is a danger threat against Islam. As a result, Imam Al-Hussein led a reformation movement against Yazid. When he received a huge number of letters of support from Iraqis, particularly from the city of Kufa, Imam Al-Hussein left the city of Medina with his family to Iraq. However, he was faced by Yazid’s army at Karbala. The martyr of Imam Al-Hussein did not terminate his values, or stop his calls for reforms and justice, or refrain his lovers and followers from reviving this tragedy every year.

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