I have been wanting to share this experience since the first time I had heard about it. So it gives me great pleasure to be writing about it today. In this post I will share with you a beautiful exhibit created by a team of volunteers to convey the historical story of Karbala, in a way that I’ve never seen before.
After having children, I am realizing more and more how visual my kids are when it comes to learning. So when it comes time to introduce Islamic historical concepts to them, in particular Muharram and the events of Karbala, I was struggling to find visual sources to teach them about this powerful part of our history. I must say though, there’s a lot more now then there was when I was a child. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the flyer for The Steps of Hussain (AS) Exhibit near my home.
The Steps of Hussain (AS) is an exhibition set up by a team of volunteers at Bait Wali-e-Asr Center in Freehold, NJ and it’s a surreal experience for the entire family. This exhibit brings you straight into the plains of Karbala, so you that you may feel for a moment that you are transported back to 61 AH and standing in the tents of Bani Hashim.
As you enter the tent, there are informational posters hanging in sequential order all along the walls of the tent, explaining the story of Karbala. It definitely helps to listen to the audio commentary to walk you through the tent.
For those who don’t know, Karbala is the story of how Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of our Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) stood up against the tyrant leader of his time. Imam Hussain and his family, and 72 companions traveled to a land called Karbala, where they bore hunger and thirst and fought valorously against the grand army of thousands. All died in this battle, but the principles Hussain stood for live on today, in our hearts.
As you delve further into the tent, you come up upon a detailed, intricate replica of the battle scene of Karbala, complete with tents, figurines, soldiers and flags. It is the most impressive and artistic display, and a great visual aid for children.
I can’t really explain the feeling, but it is a powerful one. As I walked into the tent, taking it all in, I could feel all my senses became heightened. I could feel goosebumps as I studied the display, and chills down my spine when I saw the replica of a cradle set up inside the tent, representing the suffering children of Karbala. (Specifically Ali Asghar, son of Hussain, 6 months)
It truly is a moving experience and one that I would love to take my children to again, when they are able to understand the tragic story of Karbala. I sincerely hope that more centers adopt this walk-through experience in their own way and open it to the public.
All photos provided by Sr. Zainab Razvi, IZFNA