Orphans of Karbala

More Muslim pilgrims visit the holy city of Karbala each year than any other city in Iraq. This visitation is not due to any scenic points of interest. On the contrary, the city is largely barren and experiences unbearable heat nearly 7 months out of the year. Then why do millions of Muslims visit it so frequently? This is because Karbala is the location of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain ibn Ali (p), the grandson of Islam’s holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Over 1200 years ago on the desert plains of Karbala, the forces of the tyrannical ruler, Yazid ibn Muawiyah, massacred Imam Hussain (p), many of his family members, and close companions. Yazid was an unjust, corrupt, and barbaric drunkard who insisted on the infallible Imam’s allegiance to his leadership and rule. Those who opposed Yazid faced persecution, punishment, imprisonment, and death. Imam Hussain (p) rejected Yazid’s caliphate and refused to pledge allegiance to such an unjust ruler. (Had the Imam (p) done so, it would have cemented Yazid’s claim as the leader of Muslims and the very religion of Islam would have fallen victim to his drunken whims.) In retaliation for Imam Hussain’s (p) stand against injustice and tyranny, Yazid ordered that he submit or he would have him killed.

In approximately 680 C.E. (61 A.H.), the greatest tragedy in Islamic history unfolded. After Imam Hussain (p) left his home to avoid bloodshed, the army of Yazid in Karbala surrounded Imam Hussain (p), many of his family members, and close companions, including women and children. On the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, while Imam Hussain’s group was starving from three days’ lack of food and water, the savage army of Yazid massacred Imam Hussain (p), nearly all the male members of his family, and his companions.

In just one morning and afternoon, all the children who accompanied the Imam (p) became orphans. According to historical accounts, these children were not met with sympathy or compassion from the enemy soldiers. The trauma of watching their loved ones slain before their young eyes was not enough for the savage army of Yazid. Instead, they would go on to loot the camp of Imam Hussain (p), beating the children harshly and showing no compassion for the fact that they had just become orphans only moments ago. This meant nothing to the ruthless forces of Yazid.  However, countless people lament this tragedy till this very day. These children became the foremost orphans of Karbala.

Today, millions of people of all faiths remember the orphans of Imam Hussain (p), his family, and companions. While we were not there to provide help or comfort to them, we can still preserve their memory by implementing the lessons of Karbala today. Presently, there are orphans that are without fathers, mothers, or both due to religious and ethnic persecution, war, and terrorism.

Orphans in Iraq

Over the past decade, inter-sectarian violence has destroyed many families in Iraq for merely being followers of a certain sect or ethnicity. Specifically, Shia families have been victims of terrorist bombings and murders just for believing in their school of thought. Like the orphans of Karbala, some of these orphans witnessed the demonic execution of their own family members right in front of their eyes. Others said goodbye to their parents as they left the house, not knowing that would be the last time that they saw them before a blast ripped through the market.

Most recently, the same thing has been happening to minority groups such as the Yazidis, Sabeans and Christians. With the rise of ISIS, men from all over Iraq have left their families and homes to join government coalitions in the fight against these terrorists. Unfortunately, many of them never return home. Pictures of slain soldiers who died valiantly defending their families and country against terrorists line the roads.  Their sacrifices have saved countless other families but came at the cost of tearing apart their own family. For almost every soldier that has fallen, there are innocent and helpless families that no longer have anyone to support them. But even this is not a recent development. For many previous decades, sectarian discrimination led to the persecution of millions of Shia Muslims in Iraq, and to the killing of men due to their religious beliefs, leaving again leaving behind their families.

IMAM supports orphan charities across Iraq, such Al-Anwar al-Najafia Foundation for Culture and Development, Al-Khulany Cultural Social Foundation, Bahr al-Uloom Charity Foundation, and others, to aid their efforts to uplift the dire life and spirits of orphans.

Orphans in Afghanistan and Pakistan

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, religious minorities are the target of persecution and murder for their beliefs or cultural identities as well. My Orphans has partnered with charities such as Saviour USA and Orphans Relief, both of whom provide services, programs, and financial assistance for orphans in these countries and in certain cases in India as well.  Donations ensure that families have the necessities required to survive and programs help children become financially independent as they become adults. These orphaned families rely on our generosity and kindness.

Orphans in the United States

Orphaned families who can find asylum in the USA have little more than the clothes on their backs when they arrive. My Orphans provides financial assistance for such families as well as for non-refugee orphan families here in the United States. They are often in need of support to pay for rent, utility bills, and food items.

Regardless of country or ethnicity, all orphans require compassion and attention. There are few better ways to honor and preserve the memory of the orphans of Karbala than to help those orphaned today. Supporting those who are most vulnerable is not only a noble act of human decency and kindness, it is also a rebuttal of hatred and villainy.

Click here to support the orphans of our time.