Husain (A.S.) was the son of Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) cousin, and first Imam Ali bin Abu Talib (A.S.), and his daughter Fatima (A.S.). He was the 3rd Shia Imam, becoming Imam after his brother Hassan (A.S.).
Husain (A.S). and his brother Hassan (A.S). were the last descendants of Muhammad (S.A.W.) living during his lifetime and remaining after his death. Muhammad (S.A.W.) said that whoever loves them has loved me and whoever hates them has hated me. The Prophet of Islam introduced them as the flowers of the Prophet, the Imams and leaders of the Muslims whether they fight or make peace (with the enemy), and the leaders of the youth of Paradise.
During the reign of his father, Husain (A.S.) playing upon his life used to be busy defending Islam and fighting against the tyrants and brutal. He fought against the enemies by the side of his father like his brother Hassan (A.S.) in the battles of Jamal, Safeen, and Neherwan.
Husain (A.S.) and the battle of Karbala
During Husain’s (A.S.) imamate Muawiya was the Caliph. According to the treaty he made with Hassan (A.S.), Muawiyah was to appoint Husain (A.S.) as the Caliph, but instead he appointed his son Yazid as his successor. Yazid was a tyrant, who openly disobeyed Islamic practices, and violated human rights. To abate the civil unrest and unhappiness with him, he tried to get allegiance from Husain (A.S.). Husain (A.S.) however refused to endorse his corrupt governance and left Medina for Kufa.
From the day he left Medina, Husain (A.S.) made his mission clear. It was not to fight Yazid to get the throne of the empire over which the Caliph ruled. Husain’s (A.S.) mission was to reawaken the spirit of Islam and rekindle the Islamic conscience which was nearing extinction by the conduct of Muawiya and Yazid. Justice and morality were gradually being destroyed by the greed for land and power of those who had become rulers.
Yazid was scared of the support that Husain (A.S.) would be able to rally in Kufa which was his fathers capital, that he sent an army to stop Hussain (A.S.) from entering Kufa and instead made him camp out at the plains of Karbala. In Karbala Husain (A.S.) was threatened by the huge army which tried to coerce his allegiance. When Husain (A.S.) refused, they openly declared war on his small party of friends and followers. Husain (A.S.) knew that Yazid was going to kill him, so he asked everyone else to leave him, but his friends and family refused to abandon their Imam. Husain (A.S.) preferred martyrdom over life under a tyrant; he preferred a glorious death against a life in which he could have attained the highest worldly position had he pledged allegiance to Yazid.
On 10th of Muharram, the day of Ashurah, Yazid’s army massacared Imam Husain’s (A.S.) party from morning till afternoon. The heroes began to fall, all men of valor, welcoming martyrdom, one brave after another. Even his 6 month old son. The heads of the dead were removed and planted on spears, and their deadbodies were trampled with horses. Their tents were burnt, their possesions looted, and the women and children were paraded through the markets of Damascus and then put in the dungeons for more than a year.
Karbala is the cruelest tragedy humanity has ever seen. It was only through Imam Hussain’s (A.S.) surviving son, Sajjad (A.S.), and his sister Zainab (A.S.) that the general public was informed of the atrocities committed by Yazid. The recount of the tyrannical events in Karbala proved like a powerful volcano that shook the very foundation of Muslims, it stirred their consciousness. For sincere Muslims, Karbala turned into a triumph. The tragic event became the very beacon of light to always remind Muslims to practice Islam honestly and sincerely, to do what is right irrespective of consequences, and fear no one except Allah (S.W.T.).
Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, “Husain is from me, and I am from Husain”. Husain (A.S.) being his grandchild was from him; and the sacrifice that Husain (A.S.) gave to save and revitalize the message of his grandfather explains why Muhammad (S.A.W.) foretold ‘I am from him’.
Sayings from the Imam:
- Beware of things for which you apologize. The true believer should not make mistakes and should not apologize. The hypocrite makes mistakes and apologizes everyday. [*]
- Some people worshipped Allah for the purpose of gaining His gifts. This is the worship of the merchants. Some worshipped Him for the purpose of avoiding His punishment. This is the worship of the slaves. Some worshipped Him as showing gratitude to Him. This is the worship of the genuine ones. It is the best worship. [*]
- Before leaving Madinah, he wrote: “I have risen (against Yazid) as I seek reform the ummah (community) of my grandfather. I wish to bid the good and forbid the evil, and follow the way of my grandfather and my father, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib’.” [al-Khatib al-Khuwarazmi, Maqtalu 'l-Husayn, vol. 1, p. 88].
- Kitab-ul-Irshad: The Book of Guidance by Shaykh Al-Mufid
- The 5th Infallible – Husain (description)
- Maqtal al-Husain: Martrydom Epic of Imam al-Husain (‘a) by ‘Abd al Razzaq al-Muqarram
Books available at IMAN Library:
- Husain: The Savior of Islam by S.V. Mir Ahmed Ali
- Kitab Al-Irshad: The Book of Guidance by Shaykh Al-Mufid
- IMAM Husayn: The Savior of Islam by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
- Son of Karbala by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri