The month of Muharram bears a lot of significance for Muslims across the world for a wide variety of reasons. For starters, it is the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar. It’s also month of mourning and remembrance, particularly for the Shia sect, in light of the unfortunate events during the Battle of Karbala wherein the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson Imam Hussain along with 72 of his followers were first deprived of water and then eventually killed by the army of Yazid.
This Hindu community holds the month of Muharram in high regard and mourn the events
A certain clan of Hindus who identify themselves as “Hussaini Brahmins” carry out their own processions during the Ashura. They are a sub sect of the much larger Moyal community of Hindus with spiritual links to both Hinduism and Islam.
The Hussaini Brahmins are now spread across Sindh in Pakistan and in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi in addition to some other parts of India and the Middle East. These people trace their lineage back to someone named Rahab Sidh Dutt who they believe had fought alongside his sons in service of Imam Hussain during the Battle of Karbala.
According to folklore, Rahab Sidh Dutt was a Hindu trader in the Arab Peninsula that had close ties to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Sisir Kumar Mitra, in his book ‘The Vision of India’, has talked about the presence of many Hindu traders in the region before the events of Karbala took place.
According to legend, a Hindu trader and his seven sons were part of the battle of Karbala, having fought for Imam Hussain
Trade between present day Saudia Arabia and India had existed back till third millennium BC way before the arrival of Islam. During 1000 AD the trade between both regions is said to have flourished.
According to some sources, mercenaries of Indian origin were also hired by Arab armies during that time. According to historian T.P. Rusell Stracey, who wrote in 1911, around 1400 Brahmins resided in Baghdad, alone, during that time.
As per legend, the childless Rahab Sidh Dutt had went to Imam Hussain expressing his desire to have a child and asking for Imam Hussain’s help. Initially, Imam Hussain had told Dutt that he will remain childless for the rest of his life, upon hearing the tragic news, Dutt immediately burst into tears following which Imam Hussain told him that he will have one soon. Imam Hussain then told Dutt that he will have one more. The whole ordeal continued after Dutt was promised the Basharat of seven sons.
The role of Rahab Sidh Dutt and his seven sons in the Battle of Karbala has many versions
According to one folklore, Dutt and his sons had embarked on their mission to look for Imam Hussain when they heard of his migration from Mecca. By the Dutt and his clan arrived in Karbala, the Imam had been killed by Yazid’s forces. Dutt and his sons came across the murderers who were running away with the severed head of Imam Hussain to Kufa. Dutt killed them, retrieving the head which he is then said to have washed and carried to Damascus.
Later on, it is said that Dutt and his sons were captured by Yazid’s men who went on to demand Imam Hussain’s severed head. Instead Dutt offered the head of all his sons one after the other but Yazid didn’t want that.
As per the legend, Rahab Dutt being distraught from the loss of Imam Hussain left Arabia and ventured back to his hometown which is present day Lahore.
The remaining Brahmins in Arabia were said to live under the leadership of Bhurya Dutt who stayed behind in Kufa. Here they are said to be given a special place to stay in that is now known as Dair-i-Hindiya or the Indian quarter.
Cover image via: Yusra Husain / YouTube