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A BRIEF HISTORY OF IMAM HUSSAIN’S SHRINE‎

A BRIEF HISTORY OF IMAM HUSSAIN’S SHRINE‎

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Published by Yasin T. al-Jibouri
This is a brief research detailing the history of one of Islam's most revered religious shrines, the people who built it or who constantly tried to demolish it, etc.
This is a brief research detailing the history of one of Islam's most revered religious shrines, the people who built it or who constantly tried to demolish it, etc.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Yasin T. al-Jibouri on Jun 27, 2011
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05/12/2014

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF IMAM HUSSAIN’S SHRINE
 By
Yasin T. al-Jibouri
Waves of visitors have never stopped coming to Kerbala from the time of the Umayyads, whoincurred the Wrath of the Almighty when they massacred the family of His Prophet’s grandson,and that of the Abbaside caliphs, who did all they could to prevent the construction of his shrine,till the time when the faithful were finally able to build the precinct despite the hardships anddifficulties imposed on them. It befits this text to familiarize the reader with Kerbala.Two main roads lead the visitor to Kerbala. One is from the Iraqi capital Baghdad, throughMosul, and the other is from the holy city of Najaf. Upon reaching Kerbala, the holy place woulddraw the visitor's attention to its glorious minarets and domes that shine due to the light of their Lord. At the city's entrance, the visitor finds a row of houses decorated with wooden columns,and while proceeding further towards the holy mausoleum, he sees architecture similar, to some
 
 2extent, to modern ones. Upon reaching the holy shrine, one finds himself in front of a boundarywall that surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. When one enters one of thesegates, he enters a precinct surrounded by small rooms called "
iwans
 
اتا
". The holy grave islocated in the middle of the precinct, surrounded by square shaped structures each of which iscalled "
rawaq
قاور
 
". The grave itself is located in the middle of the grave site with goldenwindows around it very beautifully illuminated. It really is a great site to see, and we have pictures to show you in this book.
"KERBALA": DERIVATION & MEANING
There are many opinions among different researchers about the origin of the word "Kerbala".Some have pointed out that "Kerbala" has a connection to the "Kerbalato" language, while othersattempt to derive the meaning of the word "Kerbala" by analyzing its spelling and language.They conclude that it originates from the Arabic word "Kar Babel" which was a group of ancientBabylonian villages that included Nainawa (Nineveh), al-Ghadiriyya, Karbella, al-Nawawees,and al-Heer. This last word is now known as
 Al-Haa’ir 
 
ا
; it is here that Imam Hussain'sgrave is located. The traveler Yaqut al-Hamawi (1179 – 1229 A.D.), author of 
Mujma’ al- Buldan
, had pointed out that the meaning of "Kerbala" could have several explanations one of which is that the place where Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) was killed is made of soft earth, "al-Kerbalat".Other writers made the connection between the name and the disastrous event which painted thedesert with blood, so the word "Kerbala" was said to be comprised of two Arabic words: "Karb",which means grief and sorrow, and "Balaa", which means affliction. But Kerbala was known bythis name even before the arrival of Imam Hussain (
ع
).
KERBALA’S POPULARITY
Kerbala was at first an uninhabited place and did not witness any construction activity, althoughit was rich in water and fertile soil. Following the tenth of Muharram of 61 A.H. (October 10according to the Julian or the 13
th
according to the Gregorian calendar, 680 A.D.), after themartyrdom of Imam Hussain (
ع
 ), people from far away as well as tribes living nearby startedvisiting the holy grave. Many of those who came stayed behind and/or asked their relatives to bury them there after their demise. Despite many attempts by successive rulers, such as Haroun“al-Rashid” (763 – 809 A.D.) and “al-Mutawakkil ala Allah” Ja’far ibn al-Mu’tasim Billah (821 – 861 A.D.), to put restrictions on the development of this area, it has nonetheless spread as time passed by to become a large city.The historian Ibn Qawlawayh
1
has indicated that those who buried Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) made aspecial and rigid construction with signs marking the grave perhaps due to their knowledge of real attempts at the time to deface it. Higher and bigger constructions above the grave startedduring the regime of the first Abbaside ruler, “Abul-Abbas” Abdullah ibn Muhammed al-Saffah(the latter title meaning “the blood shedder”) (721 – 754 A.D.), who was busy battling the
1
 
His name is “Abu al-Qasim” Ja’far ibn Muhammed ibn Ja’far ibn Mousa ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi, thesenior 
 faqih
mentor, a man of high prestige, reliability and in-depth researching in
 fiqh
and
hadith
. IbnHajar al-Asqalani regards him as one of the senior and renown Shi’a scholars. His date of birth isunknown but he died in 368 or 369 A.H./979 or 980 A.D.
 
 
 3Umayyads for power, defeating them and eventually becoming founder of the Abbasid dynasty.But Haroun al-Rashid later on put heavy restrictions in order to prevent people from visiting thegrave. During the time of al-Ma’mun son of Haroun al-Rashid (786 – 833 A.D.), constructionaround the grave resumed until the year 236 A.H./851 A.D. when the Abbasid ruler “al-Mutawakkil ala Allah” Ja’far ibn al-Mu’tasim (821 – 861 A.D.) ordered the destruction andinterring of the grave, then the filling of the pit with water... His son, al-Muntasir, who succeededhim in 861 and who is suspected of having killed him, allowed people to visit the grave site.Since then, building the precinct to the grave increased and developed step by step.The historian and biographer “Ibn Al-Atheer”, namely Izz ad-Deen ibn al-Atheer “Abu al-Hassan” Ali ibn Muhammed al-Jazri (some write it al-Juzri) (1160 – 1233 A.D.), has stated thatin the year 371 A.H./982 A.D., Adhud ad-Dawlah “Abu Shuja’ Fana Khosroe son of Rukn ad-Dawlah al-Buwayhi
ةوا
 
كر
 
ب
 
وخ
 
ف
 
عش
 
بأ
 
ةوا
 

 
who lived from 937 to 983 A.D. andruled Persia from 951 till his death in 983, became the first to largely lay the foundations for alarge scale construction, generously decorating the place. He also built houses and marketsaround the precinct, surrounding Kerbala with a high boundary wall and turning it into a strongcastle. In the year 407 A.H./1016 A.D., the precinct caught fire due to the dropping of two largecandles on the wooden decorations, but Hassan ibn Fadl, then state minister, rebuilt the damagedsections.History has recorded the names of several rulers who shared the honor of expanding, decoratingor keeping the precinct in good condition. Amongst them is Fatih Ali al-Qajari who, in 1250A.H./1737 A.D., ordered the construction of two domes, one over Imam Hussain's grave and theother over that of his brother, Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas (
ع
 ). The first dome is 27 meters high andcompletely covered with gold. At the bottom, it is surrounded with 12 windows each of which isabout 1.25 m away from the other from the inside and 1.30 m from the outside.The mausoleum has an area of 59 m / 75 m with ten gates, and about 65 rooms (
iwans
), welldecorated from the inside and outside and used as classrooms for studying. As for the graveitself, which is located in the middle of the precinct, it is called the "
rawda
", garden, and it hasseveral gates. The most famous of these gates is called that of 
al-qibla
or "bab al-dhahab", goldgate. Upon entering through it, one can see the tomb of Habib ibn Madhahir al-Asadi to the righthand side. Habib was a friend and companion of Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) since their childhood, and hewas one of those who were honored with martyrdom in the Battle of Kerbala.
THE RESTING PLACE OF ABBAS SON OF ALI IBN ABU TALIB (
ع
)
Abu al-Fadl Abbas (
ع
 ) was brother of Imam Hassan (
ع
 ) and Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) and the standard- bearer of Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) in the Battle of Kerbala. He is well known in history for his valor,loyalty and similarity to his father, the Lion of God, Ali ibn Abu Talib (
ع
 ). The resting place of Abbas (
ع
 ) received similar attention as that of Imam Hussain (
ع
 ). In the year 1032 A.H./1623A.D., the Safavid King Tahmasp of Ghazvin, Persia, who ruled from 1500 to 1730s, ordered thedecoration of the grave's dome. He built a window on the
'darih' 
 
حض
(shrine) around the graveand organized the precinct. Other similar activities were done by other rulers.Kerbala contains, besides the grave of Imam Hussain (
ع
 ) and his brother al-Abbas (
ع
 ), thegraves of all the 72 martyrs of Kerbala, all males. They were buried in a mass grave which was

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