The idea of defiance against tyranny and oppression owes a great deal to Hussain ibn Ali (as), the hero of the battle of Karbala in 680 AD.; with just 72 valiant followers and family members, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) faced the military might of the Muslim empire ruled then by the despot, Yazid bin Mu‘awiya. Hussain refused to sanctify Yazid’s reign through allegiance and consequently, he and his small contingent were martyred in the most brutal of fashions. The accompanying women and children were imprisoned for months in the dark alleys of Damascus.

Imam Hussain (PBUH), the spiritual custodian of Islam, staunchly stood against a shifting tide, and his unprecedented sacrifice was intended to shake the Muslim conscience and expose the misleading path introduced in the name of Islam. It was a matter of principle for him – one of human dignity and honor. Challenging the newly introduced monarchical system of government was another important feature of this struggle. In his last sermon before departing from Madina on his journey towards Karbala, Iraq, he made clear his mission: “I seek to reform the (Ummah) nation of my grandfather”(1).

“History Lessons from Karbala”, by Dr. Hassan Abbas (published in Journal of Foreign Policy December 11, 2011)

1. Manaqib ibn Shahr Aashub, vol. 4, p. 89