The city is one of Iraq's wealthiest, profiting both from religious visitors and agricultural produce, especially dates. It is made up of two districts, "Old Karbala," the religious centre, and "New Karbala," the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings. At the centre of the old city is the Masjid al-Hussein, the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad by his daughter Fatimah Zahra and ‘Alī ibn Abu Tālib. Hussein's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Shī‘ī Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the battle, the Day of ‘Āshūrā. Many elderly pilgrims travel there to await death, as they believe the tomb to be one of the gates to paradise. Another focal point of the Shī‘ī pilgrimage to Karbala is al-Makhayam, traditionally believed to be the location of Hussein's camp, where the death of Hussein and his followers is publicly commemorated. Many pious Shi'a ask to be buried in and around Karbala and a good portion of Karbala's economy is wrapped up in the funeral business. The city's association with Shī‘a Islām have made it a centre of religious place as well as worship; it has more than 100 mosques and 23 religious schools, of which possibly the most famous is that of Ibn Fahid, constructed some 440 years ago. The city sprang up around the two shrines of Hussein ibn Ali and his brother al-Abbas, and as such the layout of the city is centered around the shrines. In 1994, Saddam Hussein destroyed the houses between the shrines in order to created a huge concrete highway between the two.
کربلا را کربلاییان می شناسند و بس. اینجا تربت پاک سیدالشهدا و یاران باوفای اوست. اینجا تربت قمر بنی هاشم است. اینجا محل ریخته شدن خون خداست.
فداي سلطان عشقم شتاق ديدار حسينم