Karbala

كَرْبَلَاء

Karbalāʾ
Kerbala
Karbala City 3.jpg
صورة جوية لمعالم كربلاء.jpg
Shrine in Karbala.jpg
Northern Gate (30697948596).jpg
Tale Zeynabieh.jpg
كربلا - نهر القمه - مهر 89 - panoramio.jpg
Sothern Palm Sunset.jpg
Imam Hussein Camp 1.jpg
Karbala City 1.jpg
Landmarks of Karbala
Karbala is located in Iraq
Karbala
Karbala
Coordinates: 32°37′N 44°02′E / 32.617°N 44.033°E / 32.617; 44.033
CountryIraq
GovernorateKarbala
Settled690 CE
Population
 (2014)
 • Total690,100[1]

Karbala or Kerbala (Arabic: كَرْبَلَاء‎, romanizedKarbalāʾ [karbaˈlaːʔ], /ˈkɑːrbələ/ KAR-bə-lə,[2][3] also US: /ˌkɑːrbəˈlɑː/ KAR-bə-LAH;[4][5]) is a city in central Iraq, located about 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Baghdad, and a few dozen miles east of Lake Milh.[6][7] Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 700,000 people (2015).

The city, best known as the location of the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE, or the shrines of Imam Husayn and Abbas,[8][9] is considered a holy city for Shi'ite Muslims, in the same way as Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Tens of millions of Shi'ite Muslims visit the site twice a year, rivalling Mecca as a place of pilgrimage.[10][11][12][13] The martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali is commemorated annually by millions of Shi'ites.[14][15][16][17] Up to 8 million pilgrims visit the city to observe ʿĀshūrāʾ (the tenth day of the month of Muharram), which marks the anniversary of Husayn's death, but the main event is the Arbaʿīn (the 40th day after 'Ashura'), where up to 30 million visit the graves. Most of the pilgrims travel on foot from all around Iraq and more than 56 countries.[18][19]

Etymology

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 Husayn ibn Ali's grave is located.

The investigator Yaqut al-Hamawi had pointed out that the meaning of "Karbala" could have several explanations, one of which is that the place where Husayn ibn Ali was martyred is made of soft earth—"Al-Karbalat".

According to Shi'ite belief, the archangel Gabriel narrated the true meaning of the name Karbalā’ to Muhammad: a combination of karb (Arabic: كَرْب‎, the land which will cause many agonies) and balā’ (Arabic: بَلَاء‎, afflictions)."[20]

Climate

Karbala experiences a hot desert climate (BWh in the Koeppen climate classification) with extremely hot, long, dry summers and mild winters. Almost all of the yearly precipitation is received between November and April, though no month is wet.

Climate data for Karbala
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.7
(60.3)
18.8
(65.8)
23.6
(74.5)
30.6
(87.1)
36.9
(98.4)
41.5
(106.7)
43.9
(111.0)
43.6
(110.5)
40.2
(104.4)
33.3
(91.9)
23.7
(74.7)
17.6
(63.7)
30.8
(87.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.6
(51.1)
12.9
(55.2)
17.4
(63.3)
23.9
(75.0)
29.7
(85.5)
33.9
(93.0)
36.4
(97.5)
35.9
(96.6)
32.3
(90.1)
26.2
(79.2)
17.7
(63.9)
12.3
(54.1)
24.1
(75.4)
Average low °C (°F) 5.4
(41.7)
7.0
(44.6)
11.2
(52.2)
17.1
(62.8)
22.5
(72.5)
26.3
(79.3)
28.8
(83.8)
28.2
(82.8)
24.3
(75.7)
19.0
(66.2)
11.6
(52.9)
6.9
(44.4)
17.4
(63.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 17.6
(0.69)
14.3
(0.56)
15.7
(0.62)
11.5
(0.45)
3.5
(0.14)
0.1
(0.00)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.3
(0.01)
4.1
(0.16)
10.5
(0.41)
15.3
(0.60)
92.9
(3.64)
Average precipitation days 7 5 6 5 3 0 0 0 0 4 5 7 42
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)[21]

History

Battle of Karbala

Destruction of the Tomb of Husain at Karbala on the orders of Caliph al-Mutawakkil.

The Battle of Karbala was fought on the bare deserts on the way to Kufa on October 10, 680  (10 Muharram 61 AH). Both Husayn ibn Ali and his brother Abbas ibn Ali were buried by the local Banī Asad tribe, at what later became known as the Mashhad Al-Husayn. The battle itself occurred as a result of Husain's refusal of Yazid I's demand for allegiance to his caliphate. The Kufan governor, Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad, sent thirty thousand horsemen against Husayn as he traveled to Kufa. The horsemen, under 'Umar ibn Sa'd, were ordered to deny Husayn and his followers water in order to force Husayn to agree to give an oath of allegiance. On the 9th of Muharram, Husayn refused, and asked to be given the night to pray. On 10 Muharram, Husayn ibn Ali prayed the morning prayer and led his troops into battle along with his brother Abbas. Many of Husayn's followers, including all of his present sons Ali Akbar, Ali Asghar (six months old) and his nephews Qassim, Aun and Muhammad were killed.[22]

In 63 AH (682 ), Yazid ibn Mu'awiya released the surviving members of Husayn's family from prison. On their way to Mecca, they stopped at the site of the battle. There is record of Sulayman ibn Surad going on pilgrimage to the site as early as 65 AH (685 CE). The city began as a tomb and shrine to Husayn and grew as a city in order to meet the needs of pilgrims. The city and tombs were greatly expanded by successive Muslim rulers, but suffered repeated destruction from attacking armies. The original shrine was destroyed by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850 but was rebuilt in its present form around 979, only to be partly destroyed by fire in 1086 and rebuilt yet again.

Early modern

Like Najaf, the city suffered from severe water shortages that were only resolved in the early 18th century by building a dam at the head of the Husayniyya Canal. In 1737, the city replaced Isfahan in Iran as the main centre of Shia scholarship. In the mid-eighteenth century it was dominated by the dean of scholarship, Yusuf Al Bahrani, a key proponent of the Akhbari tradition of Shia thought, until his death in 1772,[23] after which the more state-centric Usuli school became more influential.

The Wahhabi sack of Karbala occurred in 21 April 1802 (1216 Hijri) (1801),[24] under the rule of Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad the second ruler of the First Saudi State, when 12,000 Wahhabi Muslims from Najd attacked the city of Karbala.[25] The attack was coincident with the anniversary of Ghadir Khum event,[26] or 10 Muharram.[27] This fight left 3,000–5,000 deaths and the dome of the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad and son of Ali bin Abi Talib,[27] was destroyed. The fight lasted for 8 hours.[28]

After the First Saudi State invasion, the city enjoyed semi-autonomy during Ottoman rule, governed by a group of gangs and mafia variously allied with members of the 'ulama. In order to reassert their authority, the Ottoman army laid siege to the city. On January 13, 1843 Ottoman troops entered the city. Many of the city leaders fled leaving defense of the city largely to tradespeople. About 3,000 Arabs were killed in the city, and another 2,000 outside the walls (this represented about 15% of the city's normal population). The Turks lost 400 men.[29] This prompted many students and scholars to move to Najaf, which became the main Shia religious centre.[30] Between 1850 and 1903, Karbala enjoyed a generous influx of money through the Oudh Bequest. The Shia-ruled Indian Province of Awadh, known by the British as Oudh, had always sent money and pilgrims to the holy city. The Oudh money, 10 million rupees, originated in 1825 from the Awadh Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider. One third was to go to his wives, and the other two-thirds went to holy cities of Karbala and Najaf. When his wives died in 1850, the money piled up with interest in the hands of the British East India Company. The EIC sent the money to Karbala and Najaf per the wives' wishes, in the hopes of influencing the Ulama in Britain's favor. This effort to curry favor is generally considered to have been a failure.[31]

In 1915, Karbala was the scene of an uprising against the Ottoman Empire.[32]

Mosque in Karbala (1932)

Defense of the City Hall in Karbala - a series of skirmishes fought from April 3 to April 6, 2004 between the Iraqi rebels of the Mahdi Army trying to conquer the city hall (in the memories of Polish soldiers referred to as City Hall) in the center of Karbala, and the defending Polish and Bulgarian soldiers Multinational Division Center-South.

On April 14, 2007, a car bomb exploded about 600 ft (180 m) from the shrine, killing 47[33] and wounding over 150.

On January 19, 2008, 2 million Iraqi Shia pilgrims marched through Karbala city, Iraq to commemorate Ashura. 20,000 Iraqi troops and police guarded the event amid tensions due to clashes between Iraqi troops and Shia which left 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).[34]

Religious tourism

Karbala, alongside Najaf, is considered a thriving tourist destination for Shia Muslims and the tourism industry in the city boomed after the end of Saddam Hussein's rule.[35] Some religious tourism attractions include: