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Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.)

Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.)
Adopted from : Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (ÍÓíä Èä Úáí) (third of Shaban 626, at Medina - tenth of Muharram 680, at Karbala) was the grandson of Muhammad. His mother was Muhammad's daughter Fatima Zahra and his father was Muhammad's cousin, and is the first caliph to Shia Muslims, and the fourth Caliph to Sunni Muslims, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Husayn ibn Ali is revered as the third Imam (caliph) by Shi’a Muslims.

He was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. The anniversary of his death is called Ashura and it is a day of mourning and religious observance for Shi'a Muslims. This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali the grandson of Muhammad, along with 72 members of his family and close friends at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Yazid I Ibn Muwa'via Ibn Abu Sufyan was in power then and wanted the Bay'ah (allegiance) of Husayn ibn Ali. Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam in public and changing the sunnah of Muhammad. Historians agree that if Husayn ibn Ali had not taken the stance that he did, the religion of Islam would not be what it is today. It is reputed that Mahatma Gandhi said: "I learned from Hussein, how to be wronged and yet emerge a winner."

The birth of Husayn ibn Ali

After Hasan ibn Ali was born; Fatima al-Zahra bint Muhammad became pregnant with her second child. Fatima started noticing the signs that childbearing was near, but Muhammad had already foretold of Husayn ibn Ali’s birth. On Sha'ban 3, 4 H.E., Muhammad was given news of the birth of Husayn ibn Ali. Muhammad hurried to the house of Fatimah al-Zahra his daughter and Ali ibn Abi Talib. Saffiyah bint 'Abd al-Muttalib, Asma bint Umais, and Umm Salama were present when Husayn ibn Ali was born. When Muhammad asked Safiyah bint 'Abd al-Muttalib to bring him the newborn child, she said: "We have not cleaned him yet." When Muhammad heard this, he said: "You clean him? Surely Allah the Exalted has cleaned and purified him."

Asma bint Umais took the newborn child to him wrapped in a piece of cloth. Muhammad took him in his arms and recited the call to prayer (Adhan) into his right ear, and read the shorter version (Iqama) in his left ear. He then placed the infant in his lap and wept.

"May my father and mother be your sacrifice", Asma bint Umais asked Muhammad, "Why are you crying?"
"Because of my son", he replied.
"He is a newborn infant", she said.
"O Asma", he said, "After me, the transgressing party will kill him. May Allah never grant them my intercession."
Then he said: "Asma, do not tell Fatima about this, for she has just given birth to him."1

After Husayn ibn Ali was born, Archangel Gabriel descended to Muhammad and revealed to him to give the newborn child the name Al-Husayn. Al-Husayn is the Arabic version of the old Hebrew name Shabir, which was the name of Harun’s second son. When Gabriel descended to Muhammad, scores of angels accompanied him to congratulate and console Muhammad for Husayn ibn Ali's birth and expected death. Seven days after the birth Muhammad shaved Husayn ibn Ali’s head and gave the gold equivalent of the weight of his hair as charity for him.

Ali's caliphate and the claims of his sons

Husayn's father, Ali, was caliph from 656 to 661. He faced continual challenges to his rule, and was assassinated by Ibn Muljim, in the city of Kufa. Ali's followers proclaimed his eldest son Hassan as caliph. Muawiyah had fought Ali for the leadership of the empire and now prepared to fight Hassan. After a few inconclusive skirmishes between the armies of Hassan and Muawiyah, Hassan decided to spare his followers, and the Islamic empire, the agonies of another civil war. He signed a treaty with Muawiyah and retired to private life in Medina.

This could have been a temporary reverse for the Alids and their supporters. When Muawiyah died, the caliphate would be open again, and Hasan and Husayn, as grandsons of Muhammad and the sons of a caliph, would have a good claim to leadership. Hasan was poisoned and died in 669 by Muawiyah, leaving Husayn as the head of the Alids. However, Muawiyah chose to proclaim his son Yazid his heir while he was still alive, thus attempting to turn the caliphate from an elective into an inherited position, and removing Husayn from consideration as the next caliph.

Muawiyah died in 680. In Damascus, Muawiyah's capital and the heart of his power, Yazid was acclaimed as caliph. However, other parts of the Islamic empire were less willing to acknowledge Yazid. Citizens of Kufa, in what is now Iraq, invited Husayn, Ali's eldest surviving son, to come lead them in a revolt against Yazid. Husayn was then in Mecca, having fled Medina to evade the forces of Yazid. He gathered his wives and children, and the few warriors who would commit to him, and marched towards Kufa.

Battle of Karbala

The Shrine of Imam Hussain ibn Ali in Karbala, IraqMain article: Battle of Karbala The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, 61 AH (October 9 or 10, 680 CE) in Karbala. On one side were supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali; on the other side was a military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph. Husayn ibn Ali's group consisted of notable members of Muhammad's close relatives, around 72 men. Husayn and some members of his group were accompanied by some of the women and children from their families. On the opposite side, the armed forces of Yazid I were led by Umar ibn Sa'ad and contained at least 40,000 men.

The battle field was a desert region located beside one of the branches of the Euphrates River. The battle resulted in the military defeat of Husayn ibn Ali's group, the murder of all of his men, and the captivity of all women and children.

The Battle of Karbala is one of the most significant and tragic battles in the history of Islam. This battle also had significant effects on formation of subsequent revolts against the Umayyad dynasty. The battle of Husayn ibn Ali is commemorated during every Muharram, with the most important of these days being its tenth day, Ashura.

Husayn opposed Yazid, and declared Yazid a heretic. This angered Yazid, who declared war on Husayn, his companions and his family. He prevented them from securing drinking water for three days ,they were also not given food for three days because Yazid was afraid that Husayn will kill him so he decided not to give them food and water so they had no chance of winning the battle. He also subjected the captives to torture. Husayn's 6 month old son, Ali Asghar ibn Husayn, was killed, along with many other young children whose mothers were ready to sacrifice them for their conception of Islam. While in combat, Husayn kept on trying to influence the enemy by telling them to join his side. He told them that Yazid is a heretic and unfit for leadership over muslims and that Islamic leadership is rightfully his. Many soldiers turned their backs on Yazid and fought with Husayn. Of these included a man called Hurr, who begged Husayn's forgiveness and fought with the enemy, killing about 41 of them before being killed. The Shi'ah believe this to have set an example that will be remembered until the Qiyamah Judgement Day.

Husayn is known to Shias as "the resurrector of Islam". The reason for this is that when Ali died Mu'awiah became caliph and this lead to the destruction of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad. Mu'awiah claimed his son Yazid as the caliph after his death and this made things worse. Upon knowing the death of Husayn, men who were former fighters of Yazid started sympathising and turning sides to Ali ibn Husayn, the succesor to his father Husayn.


Husayn's body is said to have been buried in Karbala, near the site of his death. Most accounts say that his head was later retrieved and interred with his body. However, various sources identify eight possible locations for the head's resting place. The Imam Husayn Shrine was later built over his grave; it is now a holy site of pilgrimage for Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Shi'a views of Husayn

Shi'ahs regard Husayn as an Imam(caliph) and a martyr.He is believed to be the third caliph. He set out on his path in order to save Islam and the Ummah from annihilation at the hands of Yazid. According to Shi'a belief he was a willing sacrifice to religious necessity, and Shi'as view Husayn as an exemplar of courage and resistance against tyranny. Ashura, a day of mourning and self-reflection, is held in honor of his suffering.

The saying, "Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala," is a reminder to live one's life as Husayn did on Ashura, with total sacrifice to Allah and for others. This saying also signifies "We must always remember, because there is suffering everywhere".

Hadith of Muhammad about Husayn ibn Ali

Ibn Saad narrates from ash-shabi:
Ali ibn Abi Talib while on his way to the battle of Siffin, passed through the desert of Karbala, there he stopped and wept very bitterly. When interrogated regarding the cause of his weeping, he commented that one day he visited Muhammad and found him weeping. When he asked Muhammad as to what was the reason which made him weep, he replied, "O Ali Gabriel has just been with me and informed me that my son Husayn would be martyred in Karbala, a place near the bank of the River Euphrates. This moved me so much that I could not help weeping."

Anas ibn Harith narrates:
One day Muhammad ascended the pulpit to deliver a sermon to his associates while Husayn and Hasan sons of Ali were sitting before him. When address was over, he put his left hand on Husayn and raising his head towards Heaven and said: "O my lord! I am Muhammad Your slave and your prophet, and these two are the distinguished and pious members of my family who would fortify my cause after me. O my Lord! Gabriel has informed me that son Husayn would be killed. O my Lord! Bless my cause in recompense for Husayn's martyrdom, make him the leader of the martyrs, be You be his helper and guardian and do not bless his murderers".

Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti says:
He gave his head but did not put his hand into the hands of Yazid. Verily, Husayn is the foundation of "La ilaha il Allah ". Husayn is lord and the lord of lords. Husayn himself is Islam and the shield of Islam. Though he gave his head (for Islam) but never pledged Yazid. Truly Husayn is the founder of "There is no Deity except Allah".

Maxims attributed to Hussayn ibn Ali

O Allah, what did he find who lost you, and what did he lose who found you?
Some people worship Allah for the purpose of gaining His gifts. This is the worship of the merchants. Some worship Him for the purpose of avoiding His punishment. This is the worship of the slaves. Some worship Him as showing gratitude to Him. This is the worship of the genuine ones. It is the best worship. When he clashed with vanguards of ibn Ziyad led by Hurr during his journey toward Karbala: "... Don't you see that the truth is not put into action and the false is not prohibited? The believer has got to be fond of meeting his God justly. So I do not consider the death but blessedness and living with the oppressors other than abjectness." Part of his speech on Ashura: "... Lo and behold; an ignoble (i.e ibn Ziyad), son of other ignoble (i.e. Ziyad ibn Abihi), has entangled me in a bifurcation, between either unsheathing the swords or accepting abjectness. And far be it that we accept abjectness. Allah abominates that for us, plus his proph­et, believers, the chaste pure gentlewomen, those who do not accept oppression as well as the souls who do not submit to meanness abominate it. They disapprove that we prefer obedience of scrooges to the best sites of murder. Beware; I assault you together with this family while they are few and when the helpers deserted . ... "


1 Muhammad Ibn Ismail Bukhari and Muhammad Muhsin Khan (1996). The English Translation of Sahih Al Bukhari With the Arabic Text. Al-Saadawi Publications.

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