3rd Imam- Hussein (PBUH) – Shia Muslim

Imam Hussein (PBUH)

Imam Hussein (PBUH) (Arabic:  حسين )‎; sometimes spelled Hussein, was the son of Imam Ali (PBUH) (fourth Rashidun Caliph of Sunni , and first Imam of Shia Islam) and Lady Fatimah Zahra (PBUH) (daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the younger brother of Imam Hassan (PBUH). Imam Hussein (PBUH) is an important figure in Islam, as he is a member of theAhl Al-Bayt (the household of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Ahl al-Kisa, as well as being the third Shia Imam.

Imam Hussein (PBUH) is highly regarded by Shia Muslims because he refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid the Umayyad caliph, because he considered the rule of the Umayyads unjust. As a consequence, he left Medina, his home town, and traveled to Mecca. There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, asking his help and pledging their allegiance to him. So he traveled toward Kufa. At Karbala his caravan was intercepted by Yazid’s army. He was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala in 680 (61 AH) by Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, along with most of his family and companions. The annual memorial for him, his family, his children and his companions is called Ashura (tenth day of Muharram) and is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims.

The tragedy in Karbala has had an impact on religious conscience of Muslims beyond its sacredness among Shia. In the long term, the cruel killings at Karbala became an example of the brutality of the Umayyad and fueled the later Shia movements. Anger at Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) martyrdom was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine and ultimately overthrow the Umayyad Caliphate.

Early Life


According to most reports, Imam Hussein (PBUH) was born on 10 January 626 CE (3 / 5 Sha’aban 4 AH).

Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his brother Imam Hassan (PBUH) were the last descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) living during his lifetime and remaining after his death. There are many accounts of his love for them which refer to them together.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said that whoever loves them has loved him and whoever hates them has hated him. A famous narration declares them the “Masters of the Youth of Paradise”; this has been particularly important for the Shia Muslims who have used it in support of the right of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants to succeed him. Other traditions record Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with his grandsons on his knees, on his shoulders, and even on his back during prayer at the moment of prostrating himself, when they were young.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) loved them and declared them as his Ahl al-Bayt very frequently.  Shia popular view is the members of the Prophets family that were present at the incident of Mubahala. According to Muhammad Baqir Majlisi who compiled Bihar Al-Anwar, a collection of Hadith, Chapter 46 Verse 15 (Al-Ahqaf) and Chapter 89 Verses 27-30 (Al-Fajr) of the Quran are regarding Imam Hussein (PBUH).


Imam Ali (PBUH) was assassinated by Kharijites (to know more about Kharijites, refer to section “Deviant Sects”) in 661. Six months later in 661, in the interest of peace, Imam Hassan (PBUH) highly regarded for his wisdom and as a peacemaker, the fifth Rightly Guided Caliph for the Sunnis and the Second Imam for the Shia and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), made a peace treaty with Mu’awiyah (to see more, refer to Imamate, Imam Hassan(PBUH). In the Imam Hassan-Mu’awiyah treaty, Hassan (PBUH) handed over power to Muawiya on the condition just to keep the people safe and secure. Imam Hassan (PBUH) and Imam Hussein (PBUH) then moved to Medina. Following this, Muawiyah broke the conditions of the agreement and began the Umayyad dynasty, with its capital in Damascus. This brought to an end the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs for the Sunnis and Imam Hassan (PBUH) was also the last Imam for the Shias to be as a Caliph. On his deathbed Mu’awiyah appointed his son Yazid to succeed him. Yazid was oppressive, and Imam Hussein (PBUH) felt that it was his duty to confront him.

The state that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) established was in accordance withIslamic economic jurisprudence. As the state expanded, the rights of the different communities, as they existed in the Constitution of Medina still applied. The Constitution of Medina instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jews, Christian and pagan communities of Medina, bringing them within the fold of one community. The Constitution established: the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, and a judicial system for resolving disputes where non-Muslims could also use their own laws. All the tribes signed the agreement to defend Medina from all external threats and to live in harmony amongst them. The same rights were later applied to all the communities as the state expanded outside Medina. The Quran also gave rights to the citizens of the state and these rights were also applied. But Yazid was oppressive and Imam Hussein (PBUH) felt that it was his religious duty to confront him and send a message to the future generations that oppressive rulers who take away the rights of people should not be given allegiance.


Imam Hussein (PBUH) left Medina with his sisters, daughters, sons, brothers, and the sons of Imam Hassan (PBUH). He took a side road to Mecca to avoid being pursued, and once in Mecca Imam Hussein (PBUH) stayed in the house of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and remained there for four months.

In Mecca Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr, Abdullah Ibn Omar and Abdullah Ibn Abbas advised Imam Hussein (PBUH) to make Mecca his base and fight against Yazid from Mecca. Imam Hussein (PBUH) opposed Yazid and declared that Umayyad rule was not only oppressive, but also religiously misguided. In his view the integrity and survival of the Islamic community depended on the re-establishment of the correct guidance. Imam Hussein (PBUH) also believed that the succession of Yazid was an attempt to establish an illegitimate hereditary dynasty.

The religious attitudes of the Umayyad also inspired the people of Kufa to believe that leadership of the Muslim community belonged to the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), so they urged Imam Hussein (PBUH) to join them, come to Kufa to establish his Caliphate since they had no Imam and help them to be released from cruel rulers. As he prepared for the journey to Kufa, Abdullah Ibn Omar and Abdullah Ibn Abbas argued against his plan and, if he was determined to proceed to Kufa, asked him to leave the women and children in Mecca.

Imam Hussein (PBUH) sent one of his companions, Moslem Ibn Aqeel to Kufa to check the situation and see how many people want Imam Hussein (PBUH) to be their caliph.

In Kufa Yazid replaced Noman Ibn Bashir with Ubayd-Allah Ibn Ziyad, ordering the latter to disperse the crowd supporting Muslim Ibn Aqeel. Ubaid-Allah treated people and killed some of them to dissuade them about Imam Hussein (PBUH). Then Ibn Aqeel was found and delivered to Ubayd-Allah, and while Muslim bin Aqeel was going to send a message to Imam Hussein (PBUH) with the following: “return with your family, and don’t be deceived by the people of Kufa. They have misled you and me”, Ubayd-Allah bin Ziyad killed him. However, the message was not received to Imam Hussein (PBUH) when he decided to leave Mecca.

The Battle of Karbala

Imam Hussein (PBUH) in his path toward Kufa encountered the army of Ubaydllah Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, led by Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi, a top commander in the Umayyad army who later changed sides. It is said that when Hurr and his one thousand men army initially encountered Imam Hussein (PBUH) on the day of 4th Muharram, Hurr and his army were thirsty as they had been on the way to capture Imam Hussein (PBUH) for many days. Imam Hussein (PBUH) offered his storage of water to Hurr, his army, and their horses. It is said that if Imam Hussein (PBUH) had not offered the water to Hurr and his army, the water in Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s camp would have lasted until 19th day of Muharram. Hurr did not arrest Imam Hussein (PBUH), but told him to set a camp in Karbala and stop his journey to Kufa. Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his family were also not allowed to set up tents close to the bank of the Euphrates. On the 7th day of Muharram, the water storage in Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s camp was finished. Imam Hussein (PBUH) requested Ibn Ziyad’s army to allow him and his family members’ access to water, but his request was denied. Imam Hussein (PBUH) sent his brother Al-Abbas Ibn Ali (PBUH) to the river bank to bring water, but Ziyad’s army fought with Abbas, cut off both his arms, hit his head and killed him. Abbas (PBUH) was half-brother of Imam Hussein (PBUH) but always Abbas have been respecting his brother who was his Imam and have been calling him my lord. When Abbas (PBUH) fell down from his horse while his head was bloody and his hands were cut off, called Imam Hussein (PBUH): “O! My brother” He called Imam Hussein (PBUH), my brother for the first and last time. Imam Hussein (PBUH) came to him and held his head but Abbas (PBUH) put his head on the ground and said: “No, don’t hold me because when they kill you, I am not there to hold you”

Ibn Ziyad’s army also killed Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) six -month-year- old son, when Imam Hussein (PBUH) asked for water for his little son, but the army launched arrows toward Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) son, the arrow torn the throat of little Ali Asghar (PBUH).

Imam Hussein (PBUH) lost his sons, his brother’s sons, his companions in this battle which was forced to him and his family and finally the enemy killed him by many arrows and sword, at last they cut his head and crossed on his holy body by horses. At the Battle of Karbala it is recorded that seventy two people were killed, the whole companions of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

When Imam Hussein (PBUH) clashed with Yazid’s army, he said:

… Don’t you see that the truth is not put into action and the false is not prohibited? The believer should desire to meet his Lord while he is right. Thus I do not see death but as happiness, and living with tyrants but as sorrow.

On 13 October 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH), he and his small group of his followers and family members, who were between 72, fought with a large army under the command of Umar Ibn Sa’ad, son of Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas. Imam Hussein (PBUH) and all of his men were killed and beheaded. The bodies were left for forty days without burial and survivors from Hussein’s family were taken as prisoners to al-Sham (Syria and Lebanon today) to Yazid.

Part of his speech on Ashura:

“Behold; the illegitimate, son of the illegitimate [by birth], has settled between two, between unsheathing [the sword] and humiliation, and how impossible is humiliation from us! Allah refuses that for us, and his messenger, and the believers, and laps testified and purified, and zealous noses [expression: heads that do not bow in humility], and repudiating souls [who repudiate/refuse oppression], that we desire obedience to the mean ones, than the killings of the honorable [martyrdom]. Behold that I move slowly with this family, despite the little number and deserting of helpers.”

Today, the death of Imam Hussein (PBUH) is commemorated during every Muharram by Shia Muslims, with the most important of these days being its tenth day, Ashura. However, Ashura is commemorated by some Sunni Muslims for reasons of martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) body is buried in Karbala, near the site of his death. His head is said to have been returned from Damascus and interred with his body. Shia believe that Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s head was first buried in the courtyard of yezid mahal (Umayyad Mosque) than transferred from Damascus to Ashkelon to Cairo.

Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) grave became the most visited place of pilgrimage (Ziyarat) for Shias. The Imam Hussein (PBUH) Shrine was later built over his holy grave. In 850 Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil, destroyed his shrine in order to stop Shia pilgrimage. However, pilgrimage continued.

Return of the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) to his body

Several Shia and Sunni sources confirm the return of Imam Hussein’s head to his body in Karbala. According to Shaykh Saduq, Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) son, Imam Ali Ibn Hussein (PBUH) (the only man who survived from Karbala, because during the battle he was sick and he couldn’t fight), took it back from Sham and returned it to Karbala. Fetal Neyshabouri and Majlesi have confirmed this in their books, Rouzato-Waisin and Bihar al-Anwar respectively. Sharif al-Murtaza also mentions this in his book Rasaa’el. Ibn shahrashub verifies Sharif al-Murtaza stating the same thing about the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH). He also narrates Shaykh Tusi that this event, i.e. returning the head to the body, happened forty days after Ashura and that is why there are specific rituals for this day. This day is recognized by Shias and is known as Arba’een. Similar statements are documented by famous Shia scholars e.g. Ahmad Ibn Tawoos and Muhaqeq Helli. Among Sunni scholars, Abu Rayḥan al-Biruni in his famous work The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries has stated that Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) head was returned to his body and was buried altogether on 20th of the lunar month of Safar (Arba’een). Similar statement is mentioned by Sunni scholar Zakariya al-Qazwini, in his book ʿAja’ib al-makhluqat va ghara’ib al-mawjudat. Qurtobi narrates from Shias on the return of the head to the body on Arba’een.

On the second day after the battle of Karbala, the forces of Yazid raised the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) on a lance. They took it to Kufa to present it to Ubayd-Allah Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, leaving behind the mutilated body of Imam Hussein (PBUH). The headless body was thus buried there by the tribe of Bani Assad, who were living in the vicinity of Karbala. After the exhibition and display of the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH), Ibn Ziyad dispatched it to Damascus to be presented to Yazid as a trophy.

Yazid celebrated the occasion with great pomp and show by displaying the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) in his crowded and decorated court. The head was then buried in a niche of one of the internal walls of Jame-Masjid, Damascus, Syria. Afterwards, the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) remained confiscated and confined in Damascus by the order of the Umayyad monarch, Sulayman Ibn Abd al-Malik, in this condition for about two hundred twenty years.

When the Abbasids took power from the Umayyad, in the garb of taking revenge of Ahl al-Bayt, they also confiscated the head Imam Hussein (PBUH) and proved to be worse enemies than the Umayyad. It was the Abbasid emperor Al-Muqtadir (d. 295/908), an enemy of the Ahl al-Bayt He attempted many times to stop the pilgrimage to the head, but in vain. He thus tried to completely eliminate the sign of the sacred place of Ziyarat; he transferred the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) to Ashkelon (located 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Gaza Strip and 58 km (36 mi) south of Tel Aviv, Israel) in secrecy, so that the pilgrims could not find the place.

It was Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz Billah(d.386 AH/996) who traced the site of the head of his great-grandfather through the office of his contemporary in Baghdad, in 985. In the city of Ashkelon, Israel, it remained buried at “Baab al Faradis”, for a long time (about 250 years up to 1153).

Commander of the Fatimid forces Dai Badrul’jamali (d. 487/1095) conquered Palestine, during the period of Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah (d. 487/1094). He assigned him to discover the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) Ibn. The Dai, in 448 (A.H) discovered the place of the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

Under the instructions of the Fatimid Imam Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah, Badr al-JamImam Ali (PBUH)constructed a mosque and donated several huge properties to meet the expenditure of the ‘Trust’, so as to maintain the affairs of the Mashhad the place of burial. He also prepared a wooden minbar (pulpit) and placed it in the mosque, where Raas al Hussein (PBUH) was buried. This minbar bears the historical account which is engraved in Arabi Fatemi Kufic script about the Raas al Hussein (PBUH).

The shrine was described as the most magnificent building in Ashkelon. In the British Mandate period it was a “large maqam on top of a hill” with no tomb but a fragment of a pillar showing the place where the head had been buried.

After the 21st Fatimid Imam At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim went into seclusion, his uncle, Abd al Majid occupied the throne of the Fatimid Empire. Fearing disrespect and the atrocities of the traitors and enemies, the Majidi-monarch, Al-Zafir, ordered the transfer of the head to Cairo. The ruler of the city of Ashkelon, Al Amir Sayf al Mamlaka Tamim along with the custodian of the Mashhad, Qazi Mohammad bin Miskin, took out the buried casket of Raas al Hussein (PBUH) from the Mashhad, and with due respect and great reverence, on Sunday 8 Jumada al-Thani, 548 (31 August 1153) carried the head from the city of Ashkelon to Cairo, Egypt. Sayedi Hassan bin Asad (Hir’az, Yemen) discussed this event in his Risalah manuscript as follows: “When the Raas (head) al Hussein (PBUH) was taken out of the casket, in Ashkelon, drops of the fresh blood were visible on the head of Imam Hussein and the fragrance of Musk spread all over.”

Historians, Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad al-Qalqashandi, and Ibn Muyassar (d.1278) have mentioned that the casket reached Cairo on Tuesday 10 Jumada al-Thani (2 September 1153). Ust’ad Maknun accompanied it in one of the service boats which landed at the Kafuri (Garden). Buried there in the place known “Qubbat al Daylam” or “Turbat al Zafr’an” (currently known as “Al Mashhad al Hussein (PBUH)”. This place is also known as “B’ab Makhallif’at al Rasul” and located in Al-Hussein Mosque.

During the golden era of the Fatimid Caliphate, on the day of Ashura, every year the people of Egypt from far and near used to gather and offer sacrifices of camels, cows, goats in the name of Allah, recite Marsiyah-elegies on the Ahl al Bayt and the companions of Imam Hussein (PBUH) and pronounced L’anat (curse) loudly on Yazid, Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, Ibn Ziyad and other murderers of Imam Hussein (PBUH). During the tenure of Saladin, all mourning commemorations for Imam Hussein (PBUH) were declared officially banned.

The burial place is now also known as Imam Hussein (PBUH) shrine and it is visited regularly by all Shia. In the shrine, around the holy grave there is a silver netted wall that is named Zarih. The presentation of the Zarih is also unique in the history of loyalty and faithfulness. The Zarih of Raas (head) al Hussein was originally constructed for the Abbas (PBUH) (Imam Hussein’s brother) Mosque at Karbala, Iraq. When this Zarih reached the mosque of Abbas Ibn Ali (PBUH) it would not fit on the place. The size of the Zarih and the site of the fitting place differed at the time of fitting, although every technical aspects and measurements of the site were taken into account very precisely. The engineers were astonished, as what had happened, although every minute detail was handled very professionally. The loyalty of Abbas Ibn Ali (PBUH) was also witnessed on that day too, as it had been witnessed on the day of Ashura. There a divine guidance came to the effect by way of intuition that a sincere, faithful, loyal and devoted brother could not tolerate, that the head of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein (PBUH), buried in Cairo, Egypt, should be without a Zarih, thus how could he accept this gift for himself. Hence even after martyrdom, Abbas Ibn Ali (PBUH) paid his tribute to Imam Hussein (PBUH) and presented his own Zarih for Raas al Hussein (PBUH). When this above-mentioned Zarih was brought from Karbala, Iraq, to Al Moizziyat al Qahera, Cairo, Egypt, it fitted upon the original position of the grave known as Mashhad of Raas al Hussein in such a manner, as if it had been fabricated for Raas al Hussein itself.

Arab traveler Ibne Batuta also wrote in his itinerary (rihla) that, after the incident of Karbala the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) was in the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus. From there it was taken and buried in Ashkelon. During the crusade the Fatimid ruler of Egypt exhumed the head and brought it to Egypt. Thereafter the head of Imam Hussein (PBUH) was buried again in the al Qarrafa graveyard in Cairo. The site of the graveyard became the mausoleum called Raas Al-Hussein (inside Imam Hussein (PBUH) Mosque).

During the period of Saladin, and by his order, the minbar made by Dai Badr-ul Jamali was transferred from Ashkelon to the Mosque Khalil al Rahman (Cave of the Patriarchs), Hebron in the West Bank, Palestine. Saladin did not know that this minbar contained an inscription showing the history of Imam Hussein (PBUH). The 51st al Dai al Fatemi/Dawoodi Bohra, Taher Saifuddin (d.1385/1965) got the honor to visit Mosque Khalil al Rahman, and he discovered the Fatamid minbar, one thousand years after the seclusion of the Fatamid leaders.

The Mosque of the Ashkelon known as “Masjid Al Mashhad al Hussein” was blown up deliberately as part of a broader operation of defense force in 1950 at the instructions of Moshe Dayan, but the devotees of Ahl al Bayt did not forgotten it.

A few years ago, the 52nd Fatamid/Ismaili/Mustali/Dawoodi Bohra Dai Muhammad, built a marble platform, as per traditional Fatimid architectural design, at the site, on the ground behind the Barzilai Hospital, Ashkelon and since then thousands of devotees have come from across the world, year round to pay tribute to Imam Hussein (PBUH).


Imam Hussein (PBUH) was the son of Imam Ali (PBUH) (Prophet Muhammad’s cousin) and Lady Fatimah (PBUH) (the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)). Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his brother Imam Hassan (PBUH) were regarded by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as his own sons due to his love for them and as they were the sons of his daughter Lady Fatima (PBUH) and he regarded her children and descendants as his own children and descendants, and he said “Every mothers children are associated with their father except for the children of Fatima (PBUH) for I am their father and lineage” Thus only the descendants of Lady Fatima (PBUH) are the descendants and progeny of the Prophet and his Ahl al Bayt.

Commemoration of Imam Hussein (PBUH)

The Day of Ashura is commemorated by the Shia society as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at the Battle of Karbala. The commemoration of Imam Hussein (PBUH) has become a national holiday and all ethnic and religious communities participate in it.

It is said by later Imams that a pilgrimage to Karbala and Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) shrine there in has the merit of a thousand pilgrimages to Mecca, thousands of martyrdom, and of a thousand days of fasting.


The effect of the events in Karbala on Muslims has been deep and is beyond the passion in Shiaʿism. While the intent of the major players in the act has often been debated, it is clear that Imam Hussein (PBUH) cannot be viewed as simply a rebel risking him and his family’s lives for his personal ambition. He did not pledge allegiance to Yazid, who had been chosen as successor by Moawyah in violation of his treaty with Imam Hassan (PBUH). Yet he also did not actively seek martyrdom and offered to leave Iraq once it became clear that he no longer had any support in Kufa. His initial determination to follow the invitation of the Kufan Shias in spite of the numerous warnings he received depicts a religious conviction of a mission that left him no choice, whatever the outcome.

In culture

Historian Edward Gibbon was touched by Imam Hussein (PBUH), describing the events at Karbala as “a tragedy”. Mahatma Gandhi attributes the historical progress of Islam, to the “Sacrifices of Muslim saints like Imam Hussein (PBUH)” rather than military force.

The traditional narration “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala!” is used by the Shia as a mantra to live their lives as Imam Hussein (PBUH) did on Ashura, i.e. with complete sacrifice for God and for others. The saying is also intended to signify that what happened on Ashura in Karbala must always be remembered because in each land always there is right and wrong sides and every day we have to choose between them and fight with the opposite one.





Dhuljanah (Arabic: ذو الجناح‎) was the horse of Imam Hussein (PBUH). The original name of Dhuljanah was Murtajiz and Maymoon and the reason for it being named that way was because of its sound of neighing being sweet, furious and high making it different from other horses. It was purchased by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from an Arab called Haris. It features prominently in the traditional narrating of the story of the Battle of Karbala and it is thought to have been a white stallion.

According to the narrations, when Imam Hussein (PBUH) was a mere child and learning to crawl, he used to go to the stable of Dhuljanah and look at it. Once the Prophet of Islam said that his grandson was curiously looking at the horse as if some mysterious conversation was taking place, so the Prophet asked the child if he wished to ride the horse and on being answered the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ordered the horse to be mounted and when Imam Hussein (PBUH) approached the horse it amazingly lowered itself to the ground allowing the child to mount him.

The Role of Dhuljanah in the Battle of Karbala

In the battle of Karbala, Imam Hussein (PBUH) used the horse and went to the battlefield. According to a collection of Hadith, Dhuljanah on its own killed 60 enemies of Imam Hussein (PBUH) in the Battle of Karbala.

It is also believed that Dhuljanah wept in sorrow of Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) martyrdom.

After the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), Dhuljanah went to the camps of Lady Zaynab (PBUH) (the daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH) and Imam Hussein’s sister) and then went to the Euphrates River never to be found again.

The practice of taking out the replica of Dhuljanah is still prevalent in processions during Muharram.

Shia Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, India, Bahrain and Iraq decorate a replica of Dhuljanah and take it along with them in an Azadari/Maraseem(mourning) procession. This replica reminds them of the real Dhuljanah and people often feed the replica with their own hands.


Arba’een (Arabic: الأربعين, Persian: چهلم‎, Urdu: چہلم‎) “the fortieth day”, is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashurato commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad which falls on the 20th day of the month of Safar. Arba’een is also observed 40 days after the death of a family member or loved one. Forty days is the usual length of the time of mourning in many Islamic cultures. Arba’een, is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which over 17 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq.

The occasion reminds the faithful of the core message behind Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) martyrdom: establishing justice and fighting injustice, no matter what its incarnation—a message that strongly influenced subsequent Shia uprisings against the Umayyad and Abbasid rule.

In the first Arba’een gathering in the year 62 AH, Jabir Ibn Abd-Allah, acompanion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was one of the people who performed a pilgrimage to the burial site of Imam Hussein (PBUH). Due to his infirmity and probable blindness, he was accompanied by Atiyya bin Saad. His visit coincided with that of the surviving female members of Prophet Muhammad’s family and Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) son and their Imam Zain al-Abideen, who had all been held captive in Damascus by Yazid, the Umayyad Caliph. Imam Zain al-Abideen had been too ill to participate in the Battle of Karbala. He later devoted his life to mourning and spreading the message of Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s supreme sacrifice.

The city of Karbala in Iraq, the third holy place of Shia Islam, is the center of the proceedings. Many pilgrims travel miles on foot to reach Karbala.

Observance of Arba’een in Karbala was banned for many years when Saddam, was president of Iraq. For nearly 30 years under Saddam’s regime it was forbidden to mark Arba’een publicly in Iraq. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the observance in April 2003 was broadcast worldwide.

Arba’een is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in history. In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on Karbala to commemorate Arba’een. However, in 2009, the number of people visiting Karbala on Arba’een significantly increased. According to the official website of BBC News and Press TV, over ten million people had reached the city of Karbala one or two days before Arba’een. The number of pilgrims was expected to rise to 18 million during the next two days. in Arba’een 2014, over 20 million pilgrims reached to the Karbala, Iraq.

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