Battle of Karbala

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(Redirected from Battle of Kerbela)

The Battle of Karbala took place on October 10, 680, in Iraq. In the Islamic calendar the date is the 10th of Muharram, 61 AH.

The battle saw the large and professional army of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid, face the army of Imam Husayn, which, according to some legends, consisted of 72 men and boys, 2 of whom were the Husayn's sons. The forces of Yazid prevailed, and ended the threat to his claim over the caliphate from Husayn. Omar bin Sa'ad, was the commander of the enemy's army came with 30,000 of troops.

Upon learning that his army had succeeded to lay a siege around the Imam's camp, Governor Ibn Ziyad sent additional military units to Karbala. Imam Husain (a.s.) opened a dialogue with Umar Ibn Sa'ad and convinced him to lift the siege so that the Imam with his family and companions could leave Iraq. Umar Ibn Sa'ad liked the Imam's proposal and sent a message to Governor Ibn Ziyad notifying him about the results of the talks with Imam Husain (a.s.). Ibn Ziyad also found the Imam's proposal acceptable. However before agreeing to it officially, Shimr Bin Dhil-Jawshan, opposed it strongly. As a result Ziyad wrote a letter to Umar Ibn Sa'ad commanding him to either go to war with Imam Husain (a.s.) or be relieved of his duties as commander of the army and Shimr would not only replace him but despatch Ibn Sa'ad's head to Kufa.

Umar Ibn bin Sa'ad got the letter. After pondering over the consequences he decided to fight Imam Husain (a.s.). On the 7th day of Muharram he moved his troops closer to the camp and began to surround the Husain's camp. Ibn Sa'ad laid a blockade around the camp to cut it off from access to the river Euphrates, to deprive it of water in a move to force them to surrender.

Two days later, (on the 9th of Muharram), the enemy's military forces closed in on the camp of Imam Husayn (a.s.). Imam asked his brother, Abbas, to talk to Ibn Sa'ad and request a delay of the aggression by one night. Umar Ibn Sa'ad agreed to the demand. He ordered his troops to delay the aggression till next morning. Imam Husain and his pious companions spent that night in prayers.


Imam Husain (A) and his companions had spent the entire night in prayer. In the morning Ali Akbar( Son of Husayn) gave the Adhan.

After the morning prayer, Imam's (A) followers took it in turns to come forward to address Yazid's army. Many had relatives and friends in the enemy camp and they tried to convince them of the terrible crime they were about to commit.

Finally, Imam Husain (A) came forward himself and addressed the enemy. Hearing his address, one of Yazids generals, named Hurr, changed side to face certain death with Husayn.

Seeing the result of the words of Imam Husayn, Amr ibne Sa'ad, became concerned that the morale of his troops would be affected. He therefore declared that all should witness that he was casting the first arrow in battle and he shot an arrow towards Imam Husayn(A).

This was the beginning of the battle. Imam Huayn(A) had only 72 soldiers in all. He had fortified his camp by locating it so that it was enclosed by a chain of hills on three sides. This area is known as "Haa-yer".

He pitched his tents close together and dug a ditch at the exposed rear. The ditch was filled with firewood which was set alight when the enemy attacked the camp. After a few single combats, there was a general attack. Although the enemy was repulsed. Most of the army of Imam Husayn(A) was killed.

In the afternoon, it was the turn of the family of the Prophet Mohammed(S), to sacrifice themselves. Ali Akbar (A) was the first to go and within an hour, no adult male remained alive in Imam Husayn's (A) camp except his ill son Ali Zainul Abideen (A) and himself.

The mother of Ali Asghar, Imam Husain (A)'s six month-old child, requested the Imam to ask Yazid's army for some water as the infant had been thirsty for three days. The Imam held the child in his arms and brought him infront of Yazid's army. Instead of providing him with water, Hurmala bin Kahil on orders of Omar bin Sa'ad, shot the baby with an arrow, killing him in the arms of his father.

After burying the baby, Imam Husayn entered the battle-field. He gave his last speech, once more urging the enemy to consider their actions. Yazid's army did not want to listen. They wanted to fight. The Imam met in duel with many a man, killing them all.

Thereupon Omar bin Sa'ad yelled at the crowd, "Mind! He is the son of the Ali ibn Abi Talib of the Arabs. Set upon him from every direction." They rained him with 4,000 arrows. The soldiers cut him off his camp. Imam Husain (A) fought bravely, scattering them wherever he turned. The enemy could not stop him.

Finally, Imam Huayn(A) paused. He was dizzy with the loss of blood. He slid off his horse. Here the enemy found him with his head in Sajdah. The accursed Shimr beheaded Imam Husayn (A).

The body of Husayn was decapitated, and the head was brought back to Yazid.

The day is remembered by Muslims as Aashurah, and is extremely important to the Shia. Yazid's actions in regards to Husayn and the battle have made him a controversial figure. He is detested by Shias, many of whom curse him as part of their rituals commemorating Husayn's death on Aashurah. Though Sunnis generally agree that Yazid was not a righteous ruler, some Sunni sources have claimed that he did not order Husayn's death and attribute the tragedy at Karbala to overzealousness on the part of Yazid's Iraqi generals.

The commemoration of this event does not follow the Western calendar, but the Islamic one. Therefore, in the Islamic world, the date 10 October has no relevance.

External Shi'a links

More history on the battle of Karbala may be found at

Template:Mil-stub Template:Islam-stub

de:Schlacht von Kerbela


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