Does the Incident of Karbala a fact or fiction?



I read your translation of the Book on Hadis. I really appreciate your efforts. I have a question. I have a friend of mine who says the Karabala never existed. As it is reported by only one person i.e Khabar Wahid and the liqa (contact) between the writer and the reporter never existed. That is Mursal. What do you think about it?

Anwer, Montreal, Canada

Dear Mr. Anwer

Wa alaikum us salaam wa Rahmatullah e wa Barakatuhu

Thanks for reading the book and your appreciation. As far as existence of the event of Karbala is concerned, there is no doubt about it. Because hundreds of people were present at the spot in both armies. Later on, many people met with Hazrat Zain ul A’abidin رضی اللہ عنہ and female members of his families. So it is proved by Tawatur (perpetual flow of information), not the khabr-e-wahid (single-narrated report).

Although many details of this event provided by our speakers (both Sunni & Shia) during Muharram are fake reports which were invented to intensify the emotions to achieve certain political and religious targets. We can check the authenticity of these detailed reports but existence of this event is beyond any doubt.

Remember in your prayers.


Muhammad Mubashir Nazir

Mr. Anwer wrote:

Thanks for the prompt answer

I wish you had a forum on your website where people could discuss various issues and concerns.

I still need the reference of your position. Because the only historical books that provides the first reference of  Karabala  is Tarikh Tabari “Tarikh ummum wa malook”. and the ravi (narrator) is Abu Mukhnif. Where Abu Mukhnif died approx 60-70 years before Tabari´s birth. And he is the only reporter. So there is no Tawatur. The Shia Hadith books were written later than Sunni Hadith books.

Please provide me with answers with reference.

I have read books by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed refuting the Karabala also Tamanna Imadi´s book Tasweer Ka doosra rukh.


Anwer, Montreal, Canada

I wrote:

Dear Brother

Assalam o alaikum

Sorry for replying late. Actually our weekend is Thu-Fri. We are discussing something but not yet introduced with each other. I am Mubashir Nazir, basically from Jhelum, Pakistan currently working at Jeddah. My profession is “Risk Management” and currently working in a professional audit firm as the head of RM & Internal Audit Services. Study of religion is my interest. Also introduce about yourself.

Thanks for your suggestion about adding a forum on my website. I’ll definitely consider your view while the next upgrading the website.

Before discussing the Karbala issue, I want to say that it is not a religious issue. It is an issue of historical research. Whether someone believes in it or not, Allah will not ask about it in our real life i.e. the Hereafter. So we should spend our time more on the issues which have a direct issue on our career in Hereafter. For your satisfaction, I’m providing some comments. Since I’m not an expert in “Historical Research”, therefore, it is advisable to consult other scholars as well.

Historical traditions are not preserved and researched by Hadith standards. Research about Hadith is something exceptional in the history because describing a fake Hadith has certain serious consequences in the Hereafter.

I’ve seen Dr. Shabbir’s article but it mainly based on the argument provided by you that “Because the only historical books that provides the first reference of  Karabala  is Tarikh Tabari Tarikh ummum wa malook”. and the ravi (narrator) is Abu Mukhnif where Abu Mukhnif died approx 60-70 years before Tabari´s birth. and he is the only reporter.”

Although Tabari (d. 310H) was the first writer who has compiled the history in chronological order but it does not mean that history was not written before him. Especially the scholars of 2nd and early 3rd century have written various books on history. They have written it in biographical format instead of the chronological one.

At the moment, I can provide you with two ready references of historical books before Tabari. You can see the details of Karbala in Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad (d. 230H). It is available under the biography of Hazrat Hussain Bin Ali (رضی اللہ عنہما).

Ahmed Bin Hanbal (d. 241H) has also mentioned this event in “ِAl-Ilal wa Ma’rifatir Rijaal”. If you are interested, I can send you the Arabic version of both of these books.

Therefore, the statement that “the only historical books that provides the first reference of  Karabala  is Tarik Tabari Tarikh ummum wa malook” is against the fact because Ibn Sa’ad and Ibn Hanbal have already described that event 60-70 years before Tabari. More references can also be found with further research.

Secondly, it is also not correct that the first narrator of Tabari is Abu Mukhnif. Although he mentions at many occasion قال أبومخنف but he has described the full sanad at the start of his chapter about 61H.

There is another ravi between Tabari and Abu Mukhnif who is Hisham Ibn Al-Kalabi. Abu Mikhnif is un unreliable person and Hisham Ibn Al-Kalabi is considered the “biggest liar”. Therefore, detailed narrations of both of them are not acceptable, but Karbala incident cannot be rejected.

If Karbala event was a fiction, then a few other questions also arise. Answering these questions is the moral responsibility of people who do not believe that Karbala event was a fact. The questions are as follows:

1. We should have some information about the life of Hazrat Hussain رضي الله عنه after 61H. What information is available about his death? Our scholars have provided all narrations from both Shia and Sunni scholars. So is there any information available on the life of Hazrat Hussain after 61H and how did he die?

2. In 64H, Mukhtar Thaqafi caused anarchy at Iraq. In order to make him popular, he claimed that he want to avenge from the murderers of Hussain. He did that, and later on, he also claimed to be a prophet. A’bdullah Bin Zubair (رضی اللہ عنہما) sent his brother Mus’ab to fight with Mukhtar. So if Karbala was a fiction, then this event of Mukhtar should also be a fiction. But the problem is that it is available in all books of Rijaal and history. Not only this one, there are several revolts against Ummayads in the name of avenging for Hussain’s assassination.

I hope this will help you. Since I’m busy in some other important projects, so I’ll really apologize to conduct a detailed debate. I’ll sincerely suggest you to read the original Arabic books to reach at a conclusion. Since the history books which were written in the later centuries were derived from them, therefore, one should not rely on them. A true researcher should start from the source.


Muhammad Mubashir Nazir

Mr. Anwer wrote:

Salam  Brother

Sorry for not introducing myself, My name is Anwer Ali and  I am originally from Karachi, Pakistan. I live in Canada. Firstly let me thank you for taking your time to reply my question. And also thanks for the pointers to references and would really appreciate if you could email the books (even though I am still trying to learn Arabic but it will be good reference).

Actually the question I am raising came up when I was reading your book about Hadis. Where you mentioned about Mutuatir on page 79. And you mentioned Karbala. One of my friends informed me about Dr. Shabbir’s works and after reading “Karbala ke Haqeeqat” where he destroyed the current notion that current Islamic History has any reliability.

This idea also exonerate the Sahabas (R.A) and Ummayads  from various slanders. However I always wondered If other experts shared his ideas or not. Allama Tamana Imadi also assert the same but in a different manner. Allama Abdurrahman Kandhalvi, Mahmood Abbassi also have similar but ideas. I will attach the references from their books about the reliability of Abu Mukhnif and Kalbi in Isnad.

I agree with you that

“the only historical books that provides the first reference of  Karabala  is Tarik Tabari Tarikh ummum wa malook” is not based on fact. But that was only my assertion and I take it back. I should have added that “I know of”.

Tabaqat Ibn Saad  and Imam Hanbal  belonged  to 2nd Century of Hijra and were not witnesses to Karbala. But it would be good know their input.

I am only a student trying to learn about Islamic History. My main interest is the Quran because the Quran really redeems Sahabas from the various allegations by various sects and my belief is they were able to create and sustain a heaven on earth by following teachings of Quran via Our Beloved Prophet and even after he died, and we also can achieve the similar results if we follow Quran and their examples. …

I found you knowledgeable that is why I posed this question to you and if you would not continue further that will be you choice, but I really appreciate you works on your website. Thanks for all your input it was really helpful and good luck with your projects.


I wrote:

Dear Brother

Assalam o alaikum

Hope you’ll be fine. It is good that you are learning Arabic. Please find attached the three books:

1. Tareekh Kabeer by Imam Bukhari See Vol 2, No. 2846

2. Tabaqat Ibn Saad, See Vol 4 P. 19, Vol 5 P. 51, 77, 115.

3. Al Ilal wa Ma’rifatur Rijal by Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal Vol 2, P. 99 No. 2166

I fully agree with you that a lot of fiction has been created by the extremists about the Karbala event to portray a bad image of Sahaba Kiraam as well as rulers of Banu Ummayyah. The only thing I’m highlighting is that existence of the Karbala event is a fact, but a lot of fictitious traditions are added by those having a political agenda to overthrow the Ummayad regime.

It is just like 9/11. Claims of Muslims, Jews and Christians about this event are different. All of them accuse each other for this event but no body can deny the event itself that it happened. For example, in order to deny the blame of attacking WT Center, if a Muslim after 500 years, says that there was no 9/11. It is a fake story created by the Jews to accuse Muslims. His attitude will not be that of a truth seeker. The right attitude is to accept the event and try to find out the real facts from unbiased sources….

In his book, Mahmud Abbasi has not denied the Karbala incident itself. He has identified the fake stories generated by political activists. Tammana I’madi has also criticized on the fake traditions.

I have checked the biographies of Abu Mukhnif, Muhammad Bin Saib Al Kalbi, Hisham Bin Muhammad Al Kalbi and Muhammad Bin U’mar Al-Waqidi in Lisan ul Mizan of Ibn Hazr A’sqalani. All of them are not considered reliable. Kalbi, his son Hisham and Waqidi are considered “the biggest liars” whereas Abu Mukhnif is also a biased person, although he is not considered a big liar by Muhadisin. Most of the traditions about Karbala are reported by these people. (You can see the details in Lisaan ul Meezaan of Ibn Hajr A’sqalani).

Therefore, my conclusion is that the incident of Karbala was a fact. We cannot deny it because it is available from diverse sources including the books of Rijaal, History, Hadith and even Fiqh. But a lot of fiction is created about this event to intensify the emotions of people. The objective of this fiction was to develop a strong rage against Ummayads in order to overthrow their regime.

If you are interested in unveiling the truth, I’ll suggest you the following course of action:

1. Collect all the reports available about the event of Karbala from all available sources.

2. Conduct the research on the narrators.

3. Reject the reports reported by unreliable narrators.

4. Compile the history based on true reports only.

5. Discuss the issues in the reports rejected in No. 3.

I expect that you will find only 10% of such reports true whereas the rest of it will be a fiction.

Remember in your prayers.


Muhammad Mubashir Nazir

Mr. Anwer wrote:

Salam  Br.Mubashir

Happy belated Eid and once again thanks for all the help. As you know human being is endowed with great power of imagination. Reports of killing of Hz Hussain and his family ever happened in Karbala should not be considered as fact just because they were reported in few doubtful reports or by reporters. (My opinion of course). Similarly things like Satanic Verses and Ghadeer khum cannot be considered as fact either because they were just reported in our so called historical books.

However  if these incidents ever happened truth should be brought out by our scholars and researchers sans myths associated with them, I also understand Allam Tamana Imadi, Khandhalvi etc do not outright reject Karabala, but they refer it as “hadsa”e Karbala.

I thinks I read somewhere Hz Hussain was referred to as Shaheed e Nainwa. (I forgot the source and still looking for it)  These authors did a great favor to Muslims by their research. Unfortunately their work is not known widely in general public, but thanks to internet it is changing but very slowly.

I am looking for Mahmood Abbassi’s Book “Khilafat Mu’awiyah o Yazeed” is it available online? Thanks for the suggestions about approaching the research  and also thanks for the books.



Mr. Anwer wrote:

Wa alaikum us salam wa rahmatullah e wa barakatuhu

Many thanks for your mail. I fully agree with you and those scholars who declare it “hadsa-e-karbala.” Satanic verses, ghadeerkhum etc. are fake reports and old Muhadisin also declare it maudu’ (fake). The books of Abbasi are available at the following link.


Muhammad Mubashir Nazir

Don’t hesitate to share your questions and comments. They will be highly appreciated. I’ll reply as soon as possible if I know the answer. Send at

Does the Incident of Karbala a fact or fiction?
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