Reliving Karbala: Martyrdom in South Asian Memory

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In 680 CE, the prophet Muhammad's grandson, Husain, led a small band of followers in rebellion against the caliph, Yazid. Husain and his followers were slain at Karbala, in modern-day Iraq, leading to the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that persists to this day. Syed Akbar Hyder examines the myriad ways that the story of Karbala has been used in South Asia - the region that is home to the largest number of Muslims, along with many non-Muslims who have adopted Islamic cultural and historical idioms. Tracing the development of the story from the earliest historical sources to the beginning of the twenty-first century, Hyder demonstrates the incredible flexibility of the idea of Karbala . For millions of Muslims, Karbala serves as the archetypal martyrdom story, but Hyder shows that this is far from the only way the tale is used. In fact, he demonstrates, Karbala means many things to many people, and is even invoked in contexts that are explicitly anti-religious. It serves as a celebration of martyrdom, a source of personal and communal identity, and even a tool for political protest and struggle. through his multifaceted examination of this seminal story in Islamic history, Hyder offers an original, complex, and nuanced view of Islamic martyrdom.