Husayn ibn Ali

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Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (حسين بن علي بن أﺑﻲ طالب)‎ (third of Shaban 626, at Medina - tenth of Muharram 680, at Karbala) was the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the son of Ali, the first Shia Imam, and the fourth Sunni Rightly Guided Caliph, and Muhammad's daughter Fatima Zahra. Husayn ibn Ali is revered as the third Imam (Supreme Authority) by Shi’a Muslims.[1]

He was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.[2] 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 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."[3]

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

In Islamic heritage, we notice that successorship of a prophet had always been by explicit declaration by the prophet himself, like Aaron was declared the successor of Moses, by none other than Moses. Also, the successors to most of the prophets of semitic religions had been from the bloodline of the prophets. This was a tradition firmly established by the Islamic God, Allah. And this was perhaps, the most logical cause of confusion as to who should lead the Muslims after the demise of their prophet. However, discarding the tradition of successorship, a caliph was elected by highly regarded political figures of the earliest Muslim community.

This led to a feeling among shia Muslims only that Ali, Husayn's father was, by implication of the Islamic tradition, rightful successor of the prophet and was denied his right. However, Ali maintained that although a right of the successor, leadership of the Muslim state was not to be perceived as successorship to the prophet since Islam was meant to be faith and not state. In 656 AD, when Uthman, the third caliph was killed by a shi'ite, all those who rejected Ali's claim earlier, came to him and pleaded of him to take up the position of the head of the temporal state. He was a caliph for four years and four months only, during this short period he faced continual challenges from the group of Muawiyah and other contenders. In 661 AD Ali was assassinated by Ibn Muljim, in the mosque of kufa.

Ali's followers, Shia, proclaimed that his eldest son Hassan, who was the successor to Ali's Imamate should be the caliph and the Islamic tradition must not be discarded again. Muawiyah had fought Ali for the leadership of the empire and now prepared to fight Hassan. To avoid agonies of another civil war, he signed a treaty with Muawiyah and relinquished the control of what had turned into an Arabian kingdom.

Muawiyah chose to proclaim his son Yazid as the heir to his throne, and the alleged leader of the Muslim state. He died in 680. in Damascus, Muawiyah's capital and the heart of his power, Yazid was now the caliph. Shi'ites in Kufa convinced Husayn to come to Iraq and they will proclaim him as the Caliph. A lot of the righteous friends of Husayn told him not to go to Kufa, since these people are well known for lying and deceiving others in many instances. However, Husayn was too kind and continued his journey to Kufa.

The people of Kufa had sent several letters to Husayn, inviting him to fill the void left by demise of Hassan and to lead them in religious affairs. Yazid, who was already paranoid, perceived this a danger to his throne. He assigned an army to stop the Husayn from going to Kufa, however, he has never told them to kill them or even use force, as shi'its claim.

In order to avoid this sacrilege, Husayn took along his wives, children, a few friends and relatives and headed towards Kufa to fulfill the responsibility of the bearer of Imamate and to fulfill his destiny as was prophesied by his grandfather, Mohammad.

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. The battlefield was a desert region located beside one of the branches of the Euphrates River.

Husayn ibn Ali's group consisted of notable members of Muhammad's close relatives, around 72 men their women and children. On the other side were the armed forces of Yazid I, about 40,000 men led by Umar ibn Sa'ad. It intrigues historians that Hurr, one of the highest ranked commanders of Yazid's army, was the man responsible for stopping Husayn at Karbala and was one of the men who left the overwhelming force of 40,000 soldiers and joined Husayn with his son and a slave. At the 10th of Muharram he died by Husayn's side in the battle killing 41 enemy soldiers.

On the day of the battle, Umar ibn Sa'ad offered refuge to Husayn and his companions if they agreed to submit to Yazid's command and pledged allegiance to Yazid. Husayn's group, their men, women and children unanimously refused this and chose martyrdom over submission, saying: 'If we pay allegiance to Yazid, say goodbye to Islam'. In response to Umar ibn Saad's offer, Husayn gave the historic sermon of Ashura which is considered by Shiites as the manifesto of a hero. Upon refusal of this offer, Umar ibn Sa'ad ordered his forces to commence the attack.

Despite the figures of 72 men against 40,000, it is recorded that the battle went on from dawn to dusk. Husayn lost his six mont old son Ali al-Asghar ibn Husayn, as well as all his other male relatives except for his son and later successor Ali ibn Husayn. According to Shia traditions after losing his six month old son, Husayn, on his horse, ran towards the enemy and 30,000 of them were running away from him and 400 men were guarding the river of the Euphrates. He killed all 400 men, and was going to drink water but one of the enemy soldiers said to him: 'You drink, while your women and children are thirsty'. At this point, Husayn dropped the water and killed more of the enemy soldiers until he was shot down by arrows. A little life was still left on the arrow-filled body of Husayn, so a commanding man of the enemy soldiers called Shimr ibn Dhil Jawshan, came to Husayn, kicked him in the leg, sat on his chest then stabbed him 12 times in the throat. The tiny bit of life left in Husayn after 12 stabs, led Shimr to chop his head off with his sword. It is stated in Shia traditions, that each 12 stabs of Shimr was a curse on him by each of the 12 infallible leaders in Islam, including the unborn ones, and when Shimr chopped his head off it was a direct curse from the Messiah of God Jesus and a curse from God himself. It is stated that the moment he died Islam was saved.

His women and children were taken captives. The captives were made to travel to Syria through the deserts of Iraq, tied in ropes and taken on camels without saddles, due to which many of the children fell off the camels and the women were not allowed to even stop and help their children. The graves of these children can still be seen in the desert between Karabla and Kufa. It is to be noted that people who did this with the family of Mohammad were themselves Muslims.

Today, martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali is commemorated during every Muharram, with the most important of these days being its tenth day, Ashura.


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. but in reality his head (raas-ul-husayan) rest in cario, miser. The Imam Husayn Shrine was later built over his grave; it is now a holy site of pilgrimage for Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali

Shi'a views of Husayn

Part of a series on
Shī‘a Islam

Twelver Ismaili Zaidi
People of the House
Ali ibn Abu Talib
Fatima Zahra
Hasan • Husayn
Light of Aql
Succession of Ali
Straying of the Sahaba
View of the Qur'an
Imamate of the Family
Ghadir KhummKarbala
See Also
Views on Shia Islam
History of Shia Islam
Theology of Shia
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Shi'ahs regard Husayn as an Imam (lord of the spiritual kingdom) and a martyr.He is believed to be the third imam. 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".

Sayings of Muhammad about Husayn ibn Ali in Sunni books

"Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise and Fatimah is the chief of their women."
  1. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, p660, on the authority of Abu Sa'id and Hudhayfa
  2. Sunan Ibn Majah, Introduction 8
  3. al-Tabarani, on the authorities of: Umar, Ali, Jabir, Abu Hurayrah, Usamah Ibn Zaid, al-Baraa, Ibn 'Adi, and Ibn Masud.
  4. al-Kubra, by al-Nasa'i
  5. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v1, pp 62,82, v3, pp 3,64, v5, p391
  6. Fada'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Hanbal, v2, p771, Tradition #1360
  7. al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v3, pp 166,167
  8. Hilyatul Awliyaa, by Abu Nu'aym, v5, p71
  9. Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami, v9, p187
  10. Tuhfatul Ashraf, by Lumzi, v3, p31
  11. Ibn Habban, as mentioned in al-Mawarid, pp 551,553
  12. al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 3, p290
  13. Mishkat al-Masabih, by Khatib al-Tabrizi, English Version, Tradition #6154

Muhammad said, "The member of my home (family members specified in other narrations as Fatima, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn) is from me and I am from Them."
  1. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v4, p172
  2. Fadha'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Hanbal, v2, p772, Tradition #1361
  3. al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v3, p 177
  4. Amali, by Abu Nu'aym al-Isbahani, p 64
  5. al-Kuna wal Asmaa, by al-Dulabi, v1, p88
  6. al-Tabarani, v3, p21
  7. Adab by al-Bukhari, also al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, as quoted in:
  8. al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 3, p291
  9. Mishkat al-Masabih, by Khatib al-Tabrizi, English Version, Tradition #6160

Muhammad looked toward Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, and Husayn, and then said, "I am in war with those who will fight you, and in peace with those who are peaceful to you."
  1. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, p699
  2. Sunan Ibn Majah, v1, p52
  3. Fadha'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p767, Tradition #1350
  4. al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v3, p149
  5. Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami, v9, p169
  6. al-Kabir, by al-Tabarani, v3, p30, also in al-Awsat
  7. Jami' al-Saghir, by al-Ibani, v2, p17
  8. Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v7, p137
  9. Sawaiq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, p144
  10. Talkhis, by al-Dhahabi, v3, p149
  11. Dhakha'ir al-Uqba, by al-Muhib al-Tabari, p25
  12. Mishkat al-Masabih, by Khatib al-Tabrizi, English Version, Tradition #6145

Muhammad said, "He who loves al-Hasan and al-Husayn, has loved me, and he who makes them angry has made me angry."
  1. Sunan Ibn Majah,
  2. al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, from Abu Hurairah
  3. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, as quoted in:
  4. al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 3, p292

Maxims attributed to Hussayn ibn Ali

  1. O Allah, what did he find who lost you, and what did he lose who found you?
  2. 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.
  3. 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."
  4. 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. ... "

Preceded by
Hasan ibn Ali
Shia Imam
Succeeded by
Ali ibn Husayn

See also


1. ^ "al-Husayn ibn 'Ali". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved on 2007-10-12. 
2. ^ Gordon, 2005, pp. 144-146
3. ^ Muhammad Ibn Ismail Bukhari and Muhammad Muhsin Khan (1996). The English Translation of Sahih Al Bukhari With the Arabic Text. Al-Saadawi Publications. ISBN 1881963594. 



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Sayyid Hussein bin Ali (1855 — June 4, 1931) (حسین بن علی; Ḥusayn bin ‘Alī) was the Sharif of Mecca, and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917, when he proclaimed himself king of Hejaz, which
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Prophets of Islam are male human beings who are regarded by Muslims to be prophets chosen by God. The term for prophet in Islam is nabi (pl. anbiyaa).
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Shī‘a terms

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Shī‘a Islam, also Shi‘ite Islam or Shi‘ism
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An imam (Arabic: إمام, Persian: امام) is an Islamic leader, often the leader of a mosque.

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Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam. Sunni Islam is also referred to as Sunnism or as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h (Arabic:
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The Rightly Guided Caliphs or The Righteous Caliphs (الخلفاء الراشدون transliteration:
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Fatimah (Arabic: فاطمة; fāṭimah. c.
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An imam (Arabic: إمام, Persian: امام) is an Islamic leader, often the leader of a mosque.

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An anniversary (from the Latin anniversarius, from the words for year and to turn, meaning (re)turning yearly; known in English since c. 1230) is a day that commemorates and/or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event.
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Day of Ashura (عاشوراء transliteration: ‘Āshūrā’
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Shī‘a Islam, also Shi‘ite Islam or Shi‘ism
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martyr (Greek μάρτυς "witness") initially signified a witness in the forensic sense, a person called to bear witness in legal proceedings. With this meaning it was used in the secular sphere as well as in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of
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Asma bint Umais (Arabic: أسماء بنت عميس) from the Banu Hashim tribe.

Early life

Her father is Umays ibn Ma'ad and her mother is Hind bint Awf
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Hind bint Abi Umayya (Arabic: هند بنت أبي أمية) (c. 596 - 680) was a wife of Muhammad, and therefore a Mother of the Believers.
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Muawiyah I
Reign 661 – 680
Full name Mu‘āwīyah ibn Abu Sufyān
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Died May 6, 680
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