I am interested in knowing what exactly happened in the battle of Karbala? I would also like to ask if there are any good books you could advise me in buying that could explain to me what happened in this battle.
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger.
Many books have been written about the killing of Hussain but we can summarize as follows:
Hussain Ibn Ali was martyred in Kerbala when he was 56 years old. The main reason as we can find in the book of Ibn al-Imad “The Golden fragments” was that he refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid after his father Muawiya chose him as the Caliph. Hussain Ibn Ali was one of four who refused to acknowledge Yazid Ibn Muawiya for Caliphate, other were Abdullah Ibn Umar , Abdullah Ibn al-Zubair and Abdul Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr .
When Muawia died, the messages came from Iraq asking Hussain to come and to stay with the people there. He took his whole family and when he reached Karbala, close to Kufa, Abdullah Ibn Zeyad attacked and killed him. Amongst those killed also were:
– Ali al-Akbar and Abdullah Hussain ‘s sons, Jafer , Muhammad , Ateeq , al-Abbas al-Akbar Hussain ‘s brothers.
– al-Qasim Hassan ‘s son.
– Muhammad , Aoun sons of Hussain ‘s uncle Abdullah Ibn Jafer Ibn Abi Talib .
– Muslim Ibn Aqeel Ibn Abi Talib and his two sons Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman .
Some members of his family slipped away:
– Ali al-Asgar Hussain ‘s son
– Hassan son of Hassan Ibn Ali ,
– Amr Ibn Hassan ,
– Qassim Ibn Abdullah Ibn Jafar ,
– Fatimah and Sakeena , daughters of Hussain ,
– al-Rabbab al-Kalbiya Hussain ‘s wife and mother of Sakeena ,
– Muhammad ‘s mother, daughter of Hassan Ibn Ali ,
– And some of their slaves.
The summarized story about this sad event is that when Yazid became the Caliph after his father Muawiya , and people acknowledged him for a Caliph. Yazid sent an order to his employee al-Waleed Ibn Utba in Madina to take a pledge to him (Yazid ) so Waleed was sent to Hussain and Abdullah Ibn al-Zubair . They went to Waleed in the night and said: ‘The people like us don’t pledge secretly, but in front of the witnesses’, and they left him. It was the end of Rajab when Hussain went to Makkah and stayed there. Afterwaeds he left Makkah on the tarweya day traveling towards Kufa (Iraq).
So Abdullah Ibn Zeyad sent Umar Ibn Saed Ibn Abu Wakkas (some reports say he sent Ubaydullah Ibn al-Haris al-Tamimi) to fight Hussain saying: ‘Keep him in custody!’ Umar Ibn Sa’d prepared 4000 fighters against Hussain , Ubaidullah Ibn Zeyad joined him at the camp and their numbers reached 22000; their leader was Umar Ibn Saed Ibn Abi Wakkas . They agreed to kill Hussain on the tenth (of Muharram-Ashoura), (it is said on Friday, Saturday, Sunday) in the place called al-Taff.
Besides Hussain , 82 men were killed; al-Harith Ibn Yazid al-Tamimi was at first amongst Hussain ‘s opponents. In the last moments he repented when they didn’t give him water and they turned against him.
In Hussain ‘s body were found 33 stab wounds and 34 bruises. From Fatimah ‘s family 17 men died. Hassan al-Basri said: ‘Together with Hussain were 16 from Ahl-al-Bait (house of the Prophet . I have seen nothing like it before. One some of the dissolutes came to Ibn Zeyad with Hussain’s head saying: ‘Heavy load my horse’s pocket with gold and silver. Indeed I killed the man of the best mother and father amongst the people’.
Ibn Zeyad became angry with him and said: ‘If you knew that, then why did you kill him? By Allah, I will make you to reach him ( Hussain ) and he cut the killer’s head off. (It is said that Yazed killed the killer of Hussain ). When Hussain was killed, his head, wives and Zainul Abedeen were sent to Damascus as captives. May Allah disgrace the killer, and that who ordered such killing and whosever is pleased with it…’
We should know that killers of Hussain were not disbelievers, but they were unjust sinners. Allah (Almighty) honored Hussain and his family with martyrdom by these people, may Allah be pleased with him.
For more information about this event, please see the book ‘Shazratul-zahab’ by Ibn al-Imad and ‘al-Bidaye wal-Nihaya’ by Ibn Kathir, and Fatawa by Ibn Taymiya .
Allah Knows best