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|Shi'a Muslims make their way to the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala, Iraq in 2008.|
|Time zone||Arabia Standard Time|
- Note: When the word "Karbala" is used in the context of Muslim history or culture, it almost invariably refers to the events around the Battle of Karbala in which Hussein was slain, not the city that stands there today.
Karbala (Arabic: كربلاء; BGN: Al-Karbalā’; also spelled Karbala al-Muqaddasah) is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km (60 mi) southwest of Baghdad at 32.61°N, 44.08°E. In the time of Husayn ibn Alī's life, the place was also known as al-Ghadiriyah, Naynawa, and Shathi'ul-Furaat. The estimated population in 2003 was 572,300 people. It is the capital of Karbala Governorate. Shi'a Muslims consider Karbala to be one of their holiest cities after Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and Najaf. The city is best known as the location of the Battle of Karbala.
There are several theories as to the origin of the name Karbala. One traditional hypothesis is geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi's belief that the name is an alternate Arabic feminine version of karbalah "soft earth".. Another theory is that the name came from the Aramaic root Karb or Qarb; meaning "Near", and Alah; meaning God. Hence, the word 'Karbala' signifies 'Near God'.
About the city
The city is one of Iraq's wealthiest, profiting both from religious visitors and agricultural produce, especially dates. It is made up of two districts, "Old Karbala," the religious centre, and "New Karbala," the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings.
At the centre of the old city is the Masjid al-Husayn, the tomb of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, grandson of Muhammad by his daughter Fatima tuz-Zahra and ‘Alī ibn Abu Tālib. Hussein's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Shī‘ī Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the battle, the Day of ‘Āshūrā. Many elderly pilgrims travel there to await death, as they believe the tomb to be one of the gates to paradise. Another focal point of the Shī‘ī pilgrimage to Karbala is al-Makhayam, traditionally believed to be the location of Husayn's camp, where the martyrdom of Husayn and his followers is publicly commemorated.
The city's association with Shī‘a Islām have made it a centre of religious instruction as well as worship; it has more than 100 mosques and 23 religious schools, of which possibly the most famous is that of Ibn Fahid, constructed some 440 years ago.
Karbala's prominence in Shīa is the result of the Battle of Karbala, fought on the site of the modern city on October 10, 680. Both Husayn and his brother ˤAbbās ibn ˤAlī were buried by the local Banī Asad tribe at what later became known as the Mashhad Al-Hussein. The city grew up around the tombs, though the date of construction of the first sanctuary is not known.
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.
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 Hussayniyya Canal. In 1737, the city replaced Isfahan in Iran as the main centre of Shī'a 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 Shī'a thought, until his death in 1772, after which the more state-centric Usuli school became more influential. It suffered severe damage in 1802 when an invading Wahhabi army sacked the city. Following the Wahhabi invasion, the city's sheikhs established a self-governing republic which was ended by a reimposition of Ottoman rule in 1843. This prompted many students and scholars to move to Najaf, which became the main Shī'a religious centre.
Karbala's development was strongly influenced by the Persians, who were the dominant community for many years (making up 75%of the city's population by the early 20th century). The Kammouna family (Arab) were custodians of the shrines for many years and effectively ran the city until it fell under the control of the British Empire in 1915. The Persian influence was deliberately reduced under British rule, with a series of nationality laws (such as a prohibition on foreigners occupying government posts) being introduced to squeeze out the Persian community. By 1957, they accounted for only 12% of the city's population. They were subsequently assimilated into the Iraqi population, accepting Iraqi nationality.
The association of the city with Shīˤa religious traditions led to it being treated with suspicion by Iraq's Sunni rulers. Under Saddam Hussein's rule, Shīˤa religious observances in the city were greatly restricted and many non-Iraqi Shīˤa were not permitted to travel there at all.
In 1991, the city was badly damaged and many killed when a rebellion by local Shīˤa was put down with great brutality by Saddam's regime. The 2004 pilgrimage was the largest for decades, with over a million people attending. It was marred by bomb attacks on March 2, 2004, now known as the Ashoura massacre, which killed and wounded hundreds despite tight security in the city.
A big Shia festival passed off peacefully amid fears of possible violence that brought thousands of troops and police into the city. Hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims who had come together to celebrate the Shaabaniya ritual began leaving the southern city after September 9, 2006 climax ended days of chanting, praying and feasting. Heavy presence by police and Iraqi troops seemed to have kept out Wahhabi/Takfiri Al-Qaeda suicide bombers who have disrupted previous rituals. Three million people attended. Worshippers heard SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim repeat demands for legislation to let mainly Shia regions of the oil-rich south merge into an autonomous federal region that would neighbour Iran.
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 Muslims which left 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).
sunni and shia Muslims believe that Karbalā is one of the holiest places on Earth according to the following traditions (among others):
|“||“Karbalā, where your grandson and his family will be killed, is the one of the most blessed and the most sacred land on Earth and it is one of the valleys of Paradise.”||”|
|“||“God chose the land of Karbalā as a safe and blessed sanctuary twenty-four thousand years before He created the land of the Ka‘bah and chose it as a sanctuary. Verily it (Karbalā) will shine among the gardens of Paradise like a shining star shines among the stars for the people of Earth.”||”|
- "When an angel descends on the earth, the Hur request him to get beads (of tasbih) from the dust of Imam Husain's (a.s.) grave." 
- In this regard, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) narrates, 'Allah, the Almighty, has made the dust of my ancestor's grave - Imam Husain (a.s.) as a cure for every sickness and safety from every fear.' 
- It is narrated from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) that, 'The earth of the pure and holy grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) is a pure and blessed musk. For those who consume it from among our Shias, it is a cure for every ailment, and if our enemy uses it then he will melt the way fat melts, when you intend to consume that pure earth recite the following supplication:…’ 
- Battle of Karbala
- 1991 Uprising in Karbala
- Recent violence:
- ↑ Muslims, Islam, and Iraq
- ↑ http://english.bayynat.org.lb/occasions/karbala.htm
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 al-Qummi, Ja'far ibn Qūlawayh (2008). Kāmil al-Ziyārāt. trans. Sayyid Mohsen al-Husaini al-Mīlāni. Shiabooks.ca Press. p. 545.
- ↑ Juan Cole, Sacred Space and Holy War, IB Tauris, 2007 p71-2
- ↑ "Iraq prime minister to visit Iran". Al Jazeera. September 9, 2006.
- ↑ Hamourtziadou, Lily (2007-04-15). "'A Week in Iraq'". iraqbodycount.org. http://iraqbodycount.org/editorial/weekiniraq/40/. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
- ↑ BBC NEWS, Iraqi Shia pilgrims mark holy day
- ↑ al-Qummi, Ja'far ibn Qūlawayh (2008). Kāmil al-Ziyārāt. trans. Sayyid Mohsen al-Husaini al-Mīlāni. Shiabooks.ca Press. p. 534.
- ↑ Bihar al-Anwar by Muhammad Baqir Majlisi vol. 101, pg. 136
- ↑ Amali by Shaykh Tusi (r.a.), vol. 1 pg. 326
- ↑ Mustadrakul Wasail, vol. 10, pg 339-40 tradition 2; Jadid Makarimul Akhlaq pg.189; Beharul Anwaar vol. 101, tradition 60
- Iraq Image - Karbala Satellite Observation
- Shia Shrines of Karbala - Sacred Destinations
- Online Sunni book: The Tragedy of Karbala and the Martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) - By Hazrat Sheykh Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat Ali QSA
- Karbala - A Lesson for Mankind
- KARBALA: When Skies Wept Blood Docufilm Homepage
- Karbala & Imam Hussain
Coordinates: ar:كربلاء bg:Кербала da:Karbalaet:Karbalā’fa:کربلاid:Karbalaku:Kerbela (parêzgeh)ja:カルバラー no:Karbala nn:Karbalapt:Karbala ro:Karbala ru:Кербела sr:Карбала fi:Karbala sv:Karbala tr:Kerbela ur:کربلا