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Karbala is a modern city located in central Iraq. However, Karbala as a legendary space is best known as the site of a historic conflict that took place on the plains there in 680 CE. Husayn, the third Imam by Shi'i Muslim accounts, revolted against the Umayyad caliph Yazid. Yazid's much larger force brutally crushed Husayn's contingent and proceeded to round up the noncombatants and parade them in defeat around the capital at Damascus. Husayn's death at Karbala and subsequent events are viewed as a defining moment in collective Shi'i memory. In more recent years, the battle of Karbala has been largely reinterpreted as strictly an occasion for mourning. Modern retellings of the battle have transformed the traditional emotionally charged mourning of the battle into ...

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