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Karbala

KARBALA

Site of sanctuary honoring Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom.

Karbala is the name of a plain located in Iraq, approximately 55 miles (88.5 km) south-southwest of modern Baghdad and close to the west bank of the Euphrates. The plain is the recorded site of the infamous mass killing, in 680 c.e. (a.h. 61), of the prophet Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali and his small band of supporters by the forces of Yazid ibn Muʿawiya, the second Umayyad caliph. According to tradition, the decapitated body of Husayn was buried in a spot not far from the battlefield. As a result, Karbala and its environs quickly became known as Mashhad al-Husayn (the tomb shrine of Husayn), and today it is still one of the principal pilgrimage centers for Twelver Shiʿite Muslims, who revere Husayn as one of the great imams, or divinely inspired leaders, of the Muslim community.


Each year, for example, beginning on the first and culminating on the tenth of the Muslim month of Muharram, large numbers of pilgrims gather at the shrine complex at Karbala and perform solemn passion plays and other commemorations of Husayn's great martyrdom (other Twelver Shiʿites around the world do the same). According to the common belief of Twelver Shiʿites, Husayn's suffering and death constitute a source of redemption for all who are sincerely devoted to Husayn and his fellow imams. Many Twelvers believe that such practices as ritual visitation to Karbala as well as to other sacred tombs are excellent means of realizing this devotion to the imams and the salvific blessings it entails.


Throughout its long history, Karbala has generally prospered as a richly endowed pilgrimage site. A few notable exceptions to this sanctuary's history of good fortune include its destruction by the Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil in 850 c.e. (a.h. 236), its storming and looting by the muwahhidun (wahhabis) in 1801 c.e. (a.h. 1215), and the widespread devastation it suffered as a consequence of the confrontation after the Gulf War between Iraq's Republican Guard and Shiʿite rebel forces in March 1991.

see also gulf war (1991); husayn ibn ali; muharram.

scott alexander

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"Karbala." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Karbala." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/karbala

"Karbala." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/karbala

Karbala

Karbala (kär´bələ), city (1987 pop. 296,705), central Iraq, at the edge of the Syrian Desert. The city's trade is in religious objects, hides, wool, and dates. Karbala is the site of the tomb of the Shiite leader Husein, who was killed in the city in 680. It is second only to Mecca in being a holy place visited by Shiite pilgrims. The tomb, with a gilded dome and three minarets, is the most notable building; it was destroyed by the Wahhabis in 1801 but was quickly restored by contributions from Persians and other Shiite Muslims. Iranian pilgrims to Mecca traditionally begin their journey at Karbala, and many pious Muslims bring the bones of their dead for burial there. It is sometimes transliterated Kerbela.

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"Karbala." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Karbala." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/karbala

"Karbala." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/karbala

Karbalāʾ

Karbalāʾ. The place where the Prophet Muḥammad's grandson, al-Ḥusain b. ʿAlī, was killed and his headless body buried. The tragedy at Karbalāʾ marks an important point in the development of Shiʿism, and therefore the place attracts many pilgrims. The shrine of the third Shīʿa Imām, al-Ḥusain, is enclosed in a beautiful sanctuary called Mashad al-Ḥusayn (tomb chapel of Ḥusain).

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"Karbalāʾ." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Karbalāʾ." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/karbala

"Karbalāʾ." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/karbala

Karbala

Karbala a city in southern Iraq, which is a holy city for Shiite Muslims, being the site of the tomb of Husayn, grandson of Muhammad, who was killed there in ad 680.

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"Karbala." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Karbala." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/karbala

"Karbala." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/karbala