• Ruqayya – Orphan of Karbala

    Ruqayya – Orphan of Karbala

    Ruqayya was one of the youngest martyrs of Karbala, only three or four years of age at the time. Just like any child, she loved her father and her family, and was loved back in return. Then one by one her father, her brothers, her uncles and cousins were all ruthlessly slaughtered in the land of Karbala. Newly orphaned, she and the other survivors of the battle were dragged in chains, first to Kufa and then to Damascus, to face the ignominy of public parade through the streets of those cities.

    In Yazid’s dungeons in Damascus Ruqayya spent her nights weeping, crying out, longing to see her father again. Yazid decided to take matters into his own hands – he had the head of Imam Hussain (a) covered in a cloth, placed on a platter and brought to the cell where Ruqayya was weeping. At first she thought the guards were bringing her food and she refused to respond. But eventually she drew near and took off the cloth, uncovering her father’s severed head. Can you imagine the wail of sorrow that escaped her lips at that moment? She embraced the head with all the love a daughter could show and wet its hair with her tears. With her arms clasped tightly around the head of her murdered father, her soul ascended to Paradise as she passed away. She was buried there, in Damascus.

    The anniversary of Ruqayya’s martyrdom has just passed us, and we took the opportunity of the occasion to recall the suffering that both she and all the other survivors of Karbala endured. But we should also remember that there are still many orphans suffering right now, experiencing the relentless pain of losing a parent. As we wipe away the tears we have shed for Ruqayya, let us also wipe away the tears from the face of the orphans of Iraq and replace them with smiles.

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