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Medina: the Roots of Karbala

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When the oppression actually beganThe sacred blood of Imam Hussain, his family, and his companions (peace be upon them all) was spilled on the plains of Karbala on the 10th of Muharram. Their mutilated bodies lay on the sand with their heads raised on spears. Women, children, and the sick Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) were taken captives.

Surely Ashura is a tragedy like no other tragedy. But the reality of this tragedy was not limited to the year 61 AH. The horrendousness of what was done to the Household of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) was not the act of the Umayyad dynasty alone. The injustice that took place in Karbala was the fully grown evil tree of the seeds planted 50 years ago in Medina.

The Tragedy of Medina

It was right after the Prophet was martyred. While he was still unburied, some of the people in Medina rushed to select the next ruler at Saqifa. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and some of the Prophet's close companions stayed far from that.

The events that soon unfolded became a tragedy in themselves. And this tragedy was the path that paved the road for the enemies of Ahlul Bayt to commit those heinous acts on the 10th of Muharram.

Women... Children... So What?

We heard that call after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions. The likes of Umar ibn Sa'ad and Shimr were reported beating the women and children with whips. They tied defenseless women and children and dragged them from city to city.

One wonders how such injustice can happen. But how can we be surprised when the daughter of the Prophet, shortly after her father's death, was beaten with the whip on her arms until they blackened. Her eye became red, and the earrings from her ears shattered at the force of the hands that struck her. (Bayt al-Ahzan)

This was the Prophet's daughter, and this is how she was treated while still in Medina. And it happened right before the very eyes of her young children. The attackers also burned the door of Lady Fatima's house, the very same door that the Prophet stood and knocked to get permission to enter.

In Karbala, there were no doors but tents. But like Medina, the fires burned the house of the family of the Prophet. Indeed, in Medina, we hear that same response when that man was warned about Lady Fatima being in the house he was threatening to burn: "So what?"

The Piercing Arrows

The monsters who fought Imam Hussain in Karbala had no mercy whatsoever. They did not respect the family of the Prophet. However, it is one thing to ignore the voice of righteousness and the voice of God embodied in Imam Hussain, but it is a completely different thing to actually attack and kill him while claiming to belong to the same religion. One could ask: what kind of audacity is that?

The answer lies in the cries of Lady Fatima. Not long after her father's martyrdom, she was crushed between the door and the wall. Her chest was pierced with a nail. A rib was broken. She suffered a miscarriage. She was beaten, hurt, injured, and left bleeding by the enemies of God.

If the daughter of the Prophet was treated in such a cruel manner by certain hypocritical companions of the Prophet, it comes as no surprise that there were so-called Muslims in Karbala who fired spears and arrows at the grandson of the Prophet.

Spare No Children

One of the most heartbreaking moments in Karbala was the martyrdom of the six-month-old Ali Al-Asghar (peace be upon him). He was a baby whose only 'crime' was being the son of Imam Hussain. Yet Yazid's army did not spare him and even slaughtered him.

One stands in shock before this disturbing image. Today, human rights organizations stand to defend every person, especially children and babies. Even if the baby is still in the womb of the mother, its right to life is respected.

But Medina holds a memory of its own. The attack on Lady Fatima not only injured her own body, but they led to her miscarriage.

This alone shows the cruelty of the attackers. Not only did they disregard the fact that she was the daughter of the Prophet and a woman, they disregarded the fact that she was pregnant. They attacked her despite all that.

Attacking a mother and a baby yet to be born was only the beginning, and the Umayyads followed this terrible legacy by killing the infant children of the Prophet's Household.

Maybe the mother of Ali al-Asghar found solace in Muhsin (peace be upon him), who was martyred even before coming into this world. Yes, the heinous act of massacring innocent childen did not begin in Karbala. We saw it 50 years earlier in Medina.

The Roots Indeed...

The Ahlul Bayt suffered tragedy after tragedy, and their followers continue to be oppressed to this very day. But Imam Hasan (peace be upon him) summarized the crux of the matter when he said, "No day is like your day, O' Aba Abdillah."

But as we commemorate the tragedy of Karbala, let us remember that the tragedy of Lady Fatima Zahra laid the foundation for the Umayyads' massacre at Karbala. It was also the foundation for the oppressors who followed to kill and torture the Ahlul Bayt and their followers to this day.

Author of this article: Ali Jamaleddine
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