Imam Husayn Shrine
|Imam Husayn's Shrine|
Shrine of Imam Husayn ibn Ali
|A series of articles on|
|Husayn ibn Ali
|Husayn ibn Ali in Islamic calligraphy|
The Maqam al-Imam Al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Ali (Arabic: مَقـام الإمـام الـحـسـيـن ابـن عـلي) is the mosque and burial site of Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the third Imam of Shia Islam, in the city of Karbala’, Iraq. It stands on the site of the Mausoleum of Imam Husayn, who was a grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala’ in 680 C.E.. The tomb of Imam Husayn is one of the holiest places for Shi‘ites, outside of Mecca and Medina, and many make pilgrimages to the site. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the city to observe Ashura, which marks the anniversary of Imam Husayn's death.
The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs prevented construction of the shrines and discouraged pilgrimage to the sites. The tomb and its annexes were destroyed by Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850-851 and Shi'a pilgrimage was prohibited, but shrines in Karbala and Najaf were built by the Buwayhid emir 'Adud al-Daula in 979-80.
The boundary wall of the shrine surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. The gates open into a courtyard separated into smaller rooms or precincts with many "Iwans" along the walls. The grave of Imam Husayn is enclosed within a metal-mesh like structure, found directly beneath the golden dome. On 5 March 2013 the process of replacing the zarih (metal mesh like structure) over the tomb of Imam Husayn Ibn Ali was completed and the new zarih inaugurated. Al Abbas Mosque is located nearby. In the coming years the shrines historic dome is set to be replaced with a modern steel framed dome, the project has been met with controversy especially by historic preservationists as it would severely distort the shrine's historic integrity and character. 
History of Karbala’
Karbala’, a city in Iraq, is located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad at 32.61°N, 44.08°E. It was at first a desolate place and did not witness any noteworthy activity, although it was rich in water and its soil was fertile. When Imam Husayn arrived at Karbala’ and was surrounded by the forces of Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, he inquired about the name of the place. Someone replied it is 'Aqr' - meaning 'harsh'. Imam Husain then said: we seek refuge with Allah from Al Aqr. He once again asked the name of the village. Then one of the attendants replied, its name is Karbala’. Imam Husain spontaneously declared: land of Karb and Bal’a meaning (land of) "torture and trial". In the time of Imam Husain, the place was also known as al-Ghadiriyah, Nainawa, and Shatul-Furat. Imam Husain bought a piece of land, after his arrival at Karbala from Bani Asad. He and his Ahl al Bait are buried in that portion, known by as Hair, where the Shrines are presently located. The history of destruction and reconstruction of the Shrines of Karbala’ is long. Both the Shrines were greatly extended by successive Muslim rulers, but suffered repeated destruction from attacking armies. Karbala's development was strongly influenced by the Persians.
History has recorded the names of several rulers who shared the honor of extending, decorating and keeping the Shrines and its precincts in good condition. Among them is Fateh ‘Ali Qajar, who in 1250 (A.H) ordered the construction of two Shrines, one over Imam Husain’s grave and the other over the grave of his brother, Imam Abul-Fazlil ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. The first dome is 27 meters high and completely covered with gold. At the bottom, it is surrounded with 12 windows, each of which is about 1.25 m away from the other, from the inside, and 1.30 m from the outside. The Shrine has an area of 59 m / 75 m with ten gates, and about 65 rooms, well decorated from the inside and outside, and used as class rooms for studying. As for the grave itself, which is in the middle of the precinct, it is called the Rawzah or garden and it has several doors. The most famous one is called "Al-Qiblah" or "Bab al Zah’ab."
Karbala’ consists of some places like Ganj E Shaheedah where all the Followers of Imam Hussain were buried and Qatl Gaah where Imam Hussain and his followers fought with the Syrian Army.
Karbala’: origin and meaning
There are many opinions among different investigators, as to the origin of the word "Karbala". Some have pointed out that "Karbala" has a connection to the "Karbalato" language, while others attempt to derive the meaning of word "Karbala" by analyzing its spelling and language. They conclude that it originates from the Arabic word "Kar Babel" which was a group of ancient Babylonian villages that included Nainawa, Al-Ghadiriyya, Karbella (Karb Illu. as in Arba Illu [Arbil]), Al-Nawaweess, and Al-Heer. This last name is today known as Al-Hair and is where Imam Imam Hussain ibn Ali’s grave is located.
The investigator Yaqut al-Hamawy had pointed out that the meaning of "Karbala" could have several explanations, one of which is that the place where Imam Hussain ibn Ali was martyred is made of soft earth - "Al-Karbalat".
Buried within the Masjid
The grave of Imam Husayn is found in the middle of the precinct, and is called the "Rawda" or "Garden" and it has several entry gates. The most famous one is called "Al-Qibla" or "Bāb al-Dhahab". When it is entered, one can see the tomb of Habīb ibn Madhahir al-Asadī, to the right hand side. Habīb was a friend and companion of Imam Husayn since their childhood and was honored with martyrdom at the Battle of Karbala.
Within the shrine of Imam Husayn can also be found a grave of all the 72 martyrs of Karbalā’. They were buried in a mass grave which was then covered with soil to the ground level. This mass grave is at the foot of Imam Husayn's grave. As well, beside Imam Husayn's grave are the graves of his two sons: ‘Alī al-Akbar and the 6-month old, ‘Alī al-Asghar. Also buried within the mosque is Ibrāhīm Mujab (son of the seventh Twelver Shī‘ah Imām, Imam Mūsā al-Kādhim), who spent his life preaching about Karbalā’.
Martyrdom and popularity
Karbalā was at first an uninhabited place and did not witness any constructional activity, although it was rich in water and its soil fertile.
Early development and specifications
The historian Ibn Kuluwayh mentioned that those who buried Imam Husayn ibn ‘Alī, made a special and rigid construction with signs above the grave.
Higher and bigger constructions above the grave started during the ruling of al-Saffah, but heavy restrictions were put in place to prevent people from visiting the grave during the rule of Hārūn al-Rashīd.
At the time of al-Mā'mūn, construction around the grave resumed until the year 850, when al-Mutawakkil ordered the destruction and digging of the grave, and then filling the pit with water. His son who succeeded him al-Muntasir, allowed people to visit the grave site, and since then building the precinct to the grave increased and developed step by step.
On the other hand, the historian Ibn al-Athir, stated that in the year 371 AH (981 AD), ‘Adhud ad-Dawlah became the first to largely lay the foundations for large scale construction, and generously decorated the place. He also built houses and markets around the precinct, and surrounded Karbalā with a high boundary wall turning it into a strong castle.
In the year 407 AH (1016 AD), the precinct caught fire due to the dropping of two large candles on the wooden decorations. The state minister at the time, Hasan ibn Fadl, rebuilt the damaged sections.
History has recorded the names of several rulers who shared the honor of widening, decorating or keeping the precinct in good condition. Amongst them is Fat'h ‘Alī Shāh Qājār, who in 1250 AH ordered the construction of two domes, one over Imam Husayn ibn ‘Alī's grave and the other over his brother Imam ‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī.
The first dome is 27 m high and completely covered with gold. At the bottom, it is surrounded with 12 windows, each of which is about 1.25 m away from the outside.
The mausoleum has an area of 59 m / 75 m with ten gates, and about 65 rooms, well decorated from the inside and outside, used as classrooms for studying.
The following events are in chronological order, stating instances that widely involved the shrine, impressing its construction, renovation and series of extremist activities that reduced its structure and killed pilgrims from time to time.
|61||680||October 10: Husayn is said to have been buried on this day. It was Bani Asad who, after the departure of Ahl al Bait, assembled at the grave of Imam Husayn. Historical accounts provide little light on the first builder of the Shrine. It is assumed that Bani Asad also the first, who erected a tent upon the grave of Imam Husayn. A Shaikh of Bani Asad lighted a candle at the grave of the Imam and planted a berry tree a few feet away from the side of the head of the grave, to indicate the grave of Husayn.|
|65||684||A mosque was built by Mukhtar ibn Abu `Ubayd ath-Thaqafi on the spot and a dome was created over the grave. Over the dome he fixed a green flag. Two entrance gates were made for the mosque. He also settled several families around the enclosure.|
|132||749||Another dome was erected over the mosque and additional two gates for entrance were made at the mausoleum during the reign of Abbasid Caliph As-Saffah.|
|140||763||During the reign of Caliph al-Mansur, the roof along with the domes were destroyed.|
|158||774||The demolished roof was rebuilt during the reign of Caliph al-Mahdi.|
|171||787||During the reign of Caliph Harun ar-Rashid, the mausoleum was destroyed and the Berry tree that stood besides the grave of Husayn was cut down. Even then people kept visiting the grave of Imam Husayn, guided by the traces of the ‘Tree of the Berry’, which covered the grave. Harun al-Rashid could not tolerate this, and ordered the tree to be cut off from the roots, with the intention to wipe out the sign of the grave of Husayn and stop the practice of visiting the grave.|
|193||808||The mausoleum was reconstructed during the reign of Caliph al-Mamun.For political advantage against Al - Amin|
|236||850||Caliph al-Mutawakkil destroyed the mausoleum and ordered the nearby land, including the grave, to be ploughed. Shrine of Imam was destroyed four time From 232 hijri until 246 hijri|
|247||861||Caliph al-Muntasir reconstructed the shrine with an iron pillar build a roof over the grave. Under instruction of Al Muntasir, new houses were built around the Shrines.|
|273||886||Once again the mausoleum was destroyed.In order of Talah ibn Jafar Mutwakil al-maruf al-muktafi bi-lah|
|280||893||The shrine was rebuilt by the Alid council and two minarets were constructed on either side of the grave. Two entrance gates for the shrine were also constructed.|
|307||977||A sepulcher was constructed within the shrine using teak wood, by the Buwayhid emir ‘Adhud ad-Dawlah. Surrounding galleries were also constructed. He also constructed the city of Karbala by making houses and the city boundary. ‘Imrān ibn Shahin at that time also constructed a mosque adjacent to the shrine.|
|407||1016||Fire destroyed the shrine. The vizier Hasan ibn Fadl rebuilt the structure.|
|620||1223||The sepulcher was renovated by an-Nasir li-Din Allah.|
|757||1365||The dome and walls of the shrine were reconstructed by Sultan `Uways ibn Hasan Jalayiri. He also raised the walls of the enclosure.|
|780||1384||The two minarets were reconstructed of gold by Sultan Ahmad ibn `Uways. The courtyard was also extended.|
|920||1514||The Safavid shah of Iran Ismail I, constructed a sarcophagus of inlaid glass work over the real grave.|
|1032||1622||Abbas Shah Safavi renovated the sarcophagus with brass and bronze and also the dome with Kashi tiles.|
|1048||1638||Sultan Murad IV whitewashed the dome.|
|1155||1742||Nadir Shah Afshar decorated the shrine and offered expensive gems to the treasury of the shrine.|
|1211||1796||Aghā Muhammad Shāh Qājār covered the dome with gold. He also decorated the Min’ar and gold plated it.|
|1216||1801||Wahhabis attacked Karbala, damaged the shrine and looted the sepulchre.|
|1232||1817||Fat'h ‘Alī Shāh Qājār reconstructed the screens by plating with silver. He also replated the dome with gold and therefore repaired the damage caused by the Wahhabis.|
|1283||1866||Nāsir ad-Dīn Shāh Qājār broadened the courtyard of the mausoleum.|
|1358||1939||Syedna Taher Saifuddin, of the Dawoodi Bohra community presented a set of solid silver screens with gold which were attached to the shrine. This set is made of 500 gold coins (each coin consisted 12 grams weight) and 200 thousand coins of silver, beautified with precious gems.|
|1360||1941||The western minaret was rebuilt by Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin. He spent a considerable amount gold plating all the Min’ar.|
|1367||1948||A road was built around the shrine by the then administrator of Karbala City, Sayyid Abd al-Rasul al-Khalsi. He also broadened the courtyard of the shrine.|
|1411||1991||Major damage to the shrine occurs as the city experiences violent reprisals by the army of Saddam Hussein after an uprising against his regime following the Persian Gulf War.|
|1415||1994||Repairs to the shrine from the damage done in 1991 are completed.|
|1425||2004||2 March: At least 6 explosions occurred during the ‘Āshūrā' commemorations, killing 178 people and wounding 500.|
|1425||2004||December 15: A bomb detonated near the gate of the shrine, killing at least 7 people and injuring 31 others.|
|1426||2006||January 5: Suicide bombers among the crowd between the two shrines, killed at least 60 people and injured more than 100.|
|1428||2007||April 14: A suicide attack 200 m from the shrine killed at least 36 people and injured more than 160 others.|
|1428||2007||Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited the shrine from 21–27 May as an ambassador from Art of Living. He accepted the invitation from Iraqi Government, and during the visit stressed the sacredness of holy city and urged people not to use arms and ammunitions around shrine.|
|1428||2007||December: Construction work began on building a roof over the courtyard of the mosque, with hopes of creating a second floor and expanding the mosque.|
|1429||2008||17 March: A female suicide bomber detonated herself in the market near the shrine, killing at least 42 people and injured 58 others.|
|1429||2008||11 September: A bomb was detonated 800 m from the shrine, killing one woman and injuring 12 others.|
|1430||2009||12 February: A bomb blast killed 8 people and wounded more than 50 others during the commemoration of Arba‘een.|
|1431||2010||Attacks aimed at pilgrims attending the commemoration of Arba‘een:
1 February: A female suicide bomber detonated herself, killing 54 people and injuring more than 100 others.
3 February: A bomb blast killed at least 23 people and injured more than 147.
5 February: A double bomb-blast, or a combination of a bomb-blast and mortar attack killed at least 42 people and left 150 injured.
|1433||2012||Construction of a roof covering the courtyard around the mosque was completed, as pilgrims are increasing every year measures to enhance their experience are being taken.|
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