Just before the invasion of Iraq by the allies, I drove with a friend to the city of Kerbala which is an hour’s drive south of Baghdad. It was a quiet day although the mosque was busy. People come here from all over because Kerbala is a major pilgrim destination for Shia Muslim as it was here, in 680 AD that the Battle of Kerbala took place between the Damascus-based Caliph and Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the prophet Muhammad. The battle took place because the Caliph’s right to rule had been challenged. Hussein was killed and it is here that he is remembered especially today, known as Arbain.
If this interests you, have a look at my website http://www.maryrussell.info and you’ll find news of the book I wrote after travelling round Syria and also to Baghdad. Great places both of them.