Unlike any other city, Karbala has its named engraved in the memory of generations, and in the expanse of the Muslim world...
Believers remember that name with sorrow and distress, for they remember the history of the master of all martyrs, Imam Husain, peace be upon him, and his sacrifice for Islam.
The wave of visitors never stopped coming to Karbala, from the time the Umayyad and Abbaside caliphs prevented the construction of the shrines to the time the believers were able to build the precinct, despite the hardships and difficulties imposed on them.
And today, since Karbala is witnessing new calamities, and the mausoleums of Imam Husain [a] and his companions are subjected to destruction and neglect, and visitors are prevented from reaching that place, it is suitable to familiarise ourselves with Karbala...
Two main roads lead the visitor to Karbala. One is from the Iraqi capital Baghdad, through Al-Musails, and the other is from the holy city of Najaf. However, either one excites the visitor with its greenish scenery along the sides.
Upon reaching Karbala, the holy place would draw the visitor's attention to its glorious minarets and domes shining due to the light of its 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 architechture similar, to some extent, to modern ones.
Upon reaching the holy shrine, one finds himself in front of a boundary wall that surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations, and when one enters one of those gates, he enters a precinct surrounded by small rooms called "Iwans".
The holy grave is located in the middle of the precinct, surrounded by square shaped structures called "Rawaq".
The grave itself is located in the middle of the grave site with golden windows around it, with beautiful illumination. It really is something great to see.
to become a city.
"Karbala" Origin & Meaning
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 analysing 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, Al-Nawaweess, and Al-Heer. This last name is today known as Al-Hair and is where Imam Husayn's [a] grave is located.
The investigator Yaqut al-Hamawy had pointed out that the meaning of "Karbala" could have several explanations, one of which is that the place where Imam Husayn [a] was killed is made of soft earth - "Al-Karbalat".
Other writers made the connection between the name and the disastrous event which painted the desert with blood, and so the word "Karbala" was said to compose of two Arabic words: "Karb" meaning grief and sorrow, and "Balaa" meaning affliction. Such a connection, in fact, has no scientific evidence, since Karbala was known as such even before the arrival of Imam Husain, peace be upon him.
Martyrdom and popularity
Karbala was at first an uninhabited place and did not witness any construction activity, although it was rich in water and its soil fertile.
Following the tenth of Muharram 61 AH (680 AD), after the martyrdom of Imam Husain [a], people from far as well as tribes living nearby started visiting the holy grave.
A lot 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 Al-Rashid and Al-Mutawakkil, to put a restriction on the development of this area, it has nonetheless spread with time to become