Rafed English

Significance of Karbala

"Allah created Karbala twenty thousand years before the Ka’ba (was built by Adam) and made it chaste and pure. The prime position of Karbala will remain forever. Allah has made it from the most superior earth of paradise."

The above hadith in the renowned compilation titled Behar al-Anwaar, has been mentioned on the authority of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWA) first-ever namesake amongst his direct descendants, whose birth anniversary, according to an account, occurred this day on Safar 3.

As is clear from the wordings, Imam Muhammad Baqer (AS) is on no account trying to negate the importance of the holy Ka’ba, the first ever house built on the first ever piece of land that emerged from under the waters and caught the sun’s rays.

He doesn’t mean to say that just because his grandfather, Imam Husain (AS) was tragically martyred in Karbala that piece of land took sudden precedence over the Symbolic House of God – which is also not something unrelated to him, since the Ka’ba happens to be the site of birth of his great-grand father, the One and Only Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).

As a matter of fact, the recipient from the Prophet, of the epithet Baqer al-Uloum (Splitter and Spreader of Sciences), the person on whose authority not just the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt but also scholars of other denominations of Islam wrote accounts of the campaigns of the Last Messenger of God, as well as incidents from the life of the previous prophets, is clearly pointing to the significance that God has bestowed upon the land of Karbala which the Almighty created several thousand years before Adam was commanded to build the holy Ka’ba on the first ever piece of land that emerged from under the waters in what is now Mecca.

The Fifth Imam should know better. To him the Prophet’s Sunnah and Seerah (practice and behviour) was a household affair, since he was the direct grandson through his parents, of the Two Leaders of Paradise, the Prophet’s revered grandsons – Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS).

In other words, unlike the weird and contradictory accounts of the Prophet’s practice and behaviour that we find in the books written by persons far removed from the Prophet’s time, and that too by citing dubious chains of sources from the supposed companions of the Prophet – who certainly cannot be considered more reliable than the family members – Imam Muhammad Baqer (AS) was imparting to the Ummah the undeniable realities of the creation of the world, and of Islam.

Moreover, he, his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, paternal and maternal uncles, brothers (incidentally Safar 2 was the martyrdom anniversary of his younger brother, Zaid ibn Ali in 121 AH as forecast by the Prophet), sons, grandsons, grandsons, and their descendants, had offered sacrifices for the sake of Islam, and for preserving the pure and pristine teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), which the self-styled caliphs had unsuccessfully tried in every age and generation to obliterate.

A short newspaper column is unable to do justice to the Fifth Imam, who was present in Karbala as a four-year old boy, and who in its aftermath suffered imprisonment in Damascus, along with his parents, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and Fatema bint al-Hasan (AS). He was also destined to be imprisoned again in Damascus, along with his son and successor, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), during the last years of his own Imamate, before returning to Medina and drinking the elixir of martyrdom in 114 AH.

Incidentally it is from the reliable source of Imam Baqer (AS) that the famous Ziyarat al-Ashura or the standard form of salutation on the 10th of Muharram for Imam Husain (AS), has reached us. He told his disciple Alqama bin Hadhrami on its regular recitation, with the following instructions: “With face turned towards the shrine of Imam Husain (AS), first send salaams upon him and imprecate (la’nah) his killers. Then after performing a (special) two-rak’at prayer, recite the Ziyarat al-Ashura.
"O Alqama! If you recite this Ziyarah in this manner, it is as if you have performed the pilgrimage of Imam Husain (AS) in the manner of angels, and Allah will write for you thousands and thousands of rewards and forgive your thousands and thousands of sins. The one who recites this Ziyarah will be exalted by 100,000 degrees while his reward would be equal to those martyred along with Imam Husain (AS), to the extent that he will share the rewards of the martyrs (of Karbala) and will be recognized as from among them. His rewards will also equal the rewards of pilgrimages performed by every Prophet and Apostle since the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS) till this day. O Alqama, if possible, perform the pilgrimage of Imam Husain (AS) every day by (recitation of) this Ziyarah."

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