Karbala: Holy City and home to Imam Hussein’s shrine
Karbala is one of the holy cities for Shia Muslims and is one of the centers for the annual celebration of martyr Husayn ibn Ali. It also hosts the Imam Hussein Shrine and is considered sacred.
Karbala is a city of two halves, being a tourist attraction and an industrial center (especially for agriculture, mainly derived from dates), governmental and educational buildings in the „New Kerbala“ part of the city and the religious center in the „Old Kerbala“.
Karbala: Home to Husayn ibn Ali’s shrine
The main focus of Karbala is quite possibly the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali which is a destination for many pilgrims who suspect the gates to paradise at this place and commemorate his martyrdom on the Day of Ashura.
This also leads to Karbala’s economic footing in the funeral business as many people want to be buried as close to Husayn as possible.
In the early 90s, Saddam Hussein ordered all houses surrounding the shrines of Husayn ibn Ali and his brother Al-Abbas to be demolished, to create a clear, wide space between the two tombs.
In the belief of the Shia, Karbala is supposed to be one of the holiest places on Earth, even though there are etymological roots that suggest that it not only suggest a nearness to God and paradise but also „the land which will cause many agonies and afflictions“ which unfortunately came true during the 90s, when a Shia rebellion against Hussein caused many deaths and the destruction of wide areas of the city.
Today, Karbala is a religious pin point that finds thousands of people travelling there for the Day of Ashura and thrives from its culture, agriculture and education (with over 100 mosques and 23 religious schools and the Ahlulbait University College, it can be seen as one of the intellectual and religious centers of the country).