Muharram 2019: Brief History of Hussaini Brahmins
Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. In 2019, it falls in the month of September. According to lunar Hijri calendar, the first month of Islamic New Year is Muharram and is considered a holy month after Ramadan. In fact, the month of Muharram is also known as the month of mourning because Imam Hussain was got martyrdom in this month.
Shia community in Muharram commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Have you ever heard about the battle of Karbala? Why it was fought? Who participated in the Karbala battle? Let us have a look!
Battle of Karbala
The fierce battle of Karbala took place on the 10th day of Muharram also known as Ashura. The battle was fought in 680 CE between Yazid, a tyrant who had usurped the Muslim caliphate and Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and her husband Imam Ali. As, this war took place in the month of Muharram so, it is observed with great solemnity in several parts of the Muslim world.
Let us tell you that the Imam Hussain's army consists of his friends, relatives, family including women and young children. But on the other side the Yazid army comprised thousands of soldiers. They arrested Hussain and his group and did not provide water and food for successive three days in the desert heat. After that, the soldier’s cruelly killed Hussain and his 6-year old son and took the women with them as captives. Muslims observe mourning in the honour of the sacrifice of the innocent lives in the month of Muharram.
Who are Hussaini Brahmins and how they are related with the battle of Karbala?
Hussaini Brahmins are mostly located in Punjab and are also known as Dutts or Mohiyals. They are the true examples who fought for Imam Hussain. It is believed that an ancestor named Rahab travelled from Punjab to Arab and there developed close relations with Imam Hussain. In the battle of Karbala, Rahab fought with Imam against Yazid. Not only this, his sons also joined him and most of them were killed in the battle. After seeing the sacrifice and love of Rahab's, Imam bestowed upon him the title of King or Sultan and told him to go back to India. It is because of this close bond between the ancestors of Rahab and Imam Hussain, they got the name as Hussaini Brahmins.
After Rahab and his sons who survived in the battle of Karbala reached India and settled in the western Punjab. This Hussaini Barhmin sect practiced an intriguing blend of Islamic and Hindu practices that is why they are also known as 'half Hindu' and 'half Muslim'. There is a popular saying about the Hussainis: Wah Dutt Sultan, Hindu ka dharm Musalman ka iman, Adha Hindu adha Musalman.
There is also another story how Dutts of Punjab came to be known as Hussaini Brahmins.
One of the wives of Imam Hussain namely Sahhr Banu, was the sister of Chandra Lekha or Mehr Banu, the wife of an Indian king Chandragupta. When it was clear that Yazid will fought a war with the Imam's then the son of Imam named Ali Ibn Hussain rushed off a letter to Chandragupta for seeking help against Yazid. After receiving the letter, the Chandragupta soon dispatched his army to Iraq to assist the Imam. By the time they arrived, the Imam had been slain. In the town of Kufa, the present day Iraq, they met with Mukhtar Saqaffi, a disciple of the Imam, who arranged a stay for them in a special part of the town which today is known as Dair-i-Hindiya or 'the Indian quarter'.
Under the leadership of Bhurya Dutt, some Dutt Brahmins together with Mukhtar Saqaffi took avenge for the death of the Imam. Some stayed in Kufa and some returned back to India. Here they built up a community and called themselves as Hussaini Brahmins. They did not convert themselves to Islam and kept alive in memory of their links with Imam Hussain.
The Muharram month is extremely holy month for the Muslim community. Shia's mourn the death of Imam Hussain and his family. They pay their respect and pray for them. In fact they refrain them from all joyous events.
The period of mourning starts on the 1st day of Muharram and lasts for 10 days until the death of Imam Hussain. They mourn by putting black clothes, observe abstinence, fasting and they break their fast on the 10th day.
On the other hand, the 10th day of Muharram also marks the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from Pharaoh in Egypt. In 622 CE, when Prophet Muhammad met with the people of Madina, he came to know from the Jews that some people fasted on this day because Allah saved the life of Israel Children from their enemy, the Pharaoh in Egypt and as a sign of gratitude to Allah; the Prophet Musa also fasted on this day. Since then, Muhammad also wanted his followers to observe a two-day fast on the day of Ashura and the day prior. So, it is said that on Ashura, Shias mourn the death of Imam Hussain and Sunni Muslims follow Muhammad and hold fast.
So, now you may have come to know about the Hussaini Brahmins, how they got their name, why they fought Karbala war and significance of the Muharram.