Battle of Karbala

Ibn Sa'd shot an arrow into the Hussainid camp, calling all to witness that he struck the first blow, marking an outbreak of the battle. Hence, a skirmish ensued, but the men of Hussain kept within their camp, where they could only be reached by the archers. From time to time there were single combats in defiance. It began in the morning and ended shortly after noon as both parties desisted from the fight at the hour of noontide prayer. It was in the afternoon that the battle became fiercer, and Hussain's handful supporters one after the other fell fighting in front of him, and finally it was the turn of his relatives to perish. The first to be killed was Ali Akbar, the son of Hussain, followed in quick succession by the son of Muslim bin Aqil, the sons of Aqil, three brothers of Abbas bin Ali, then Kassim, the son of Hasan; and eventually there remained only two: Hussain and his half-brother Abbas bin Ali. With broken hearts and distressed, both brothers went together and fell upon the enemy. The enraged Abbas penetrated deep into the ranks of his foes, became separated from Hussain, and was killed some distance away. Alone and weary, Hussain returned to his tents to console the terrified women and children, and to bid them farewell for the last time, and to consign spiritual authority of Imamate to his son, Ali Zayn al-Abidin. Exhausted and wounded, Hussain sat in front of the main tent, sheltering the women and children. Yet nobody dare to attack him, until Shimar ended the delay. He caused Hussain to separate from the tent, and several soldiers fell upon him and killed him, with 33 thrusts and 34 cuts to the body. Sinan bin Anas bin Amr raised his sword to make the final blow on Hussain, and cut off his head in front of the tent. Khawali bin Yazid al-Asbahi took the head into his custody. It was on the 10th Muharram/October 10, on a Friday that the pathetic tragedy in the history of Islam ended, known as the Battle of Karbala. Edward Gibbon remarks in his "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" (London, 1848, 5th vol., p. 391) that, "In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Husayn will awaken the sympathy of the coldest readers."

On 12th Muharram/October 12, however, when the Umayyad forces left Karbala, the people of Banu Asad from the nearby village of Ghadiriya came down and buried the bodies of Hussain and his companions on the spot where the massacre had taken place.

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