Al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (a) (Arabic: الحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب) (b. Sha'ban 3, 4/January 8, 626 – d. Muharram 10, 61/October 10, 680) also known as Abu 'Abd Allah and Sayyid al-Shuhada', was the third Imam of the Shi'a who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala after 10 years of Imamate. He was the second son of Imam 'Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a), and the grandson of the Prophet (s).
At the time of his birth, the Prophet (s) foretold his martyrdom and chose al-Husayn as his name. The Prophet (s) introduced him and his brother, Imam al-Hasan (a), as the Masters of the Youth of Paradise. The Prophet (s) loved the two (al-Hasanayn) and instructed people to love them. Al-Husayn (a) is one of the Ashab al-Kisa', one of the participants of the Mubahala, and one of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) about whom al-Tathir Verse is revealed. There are scores of hadiths narrated directly from the Prophet (s) that only add more to the distinctive status of al-Husayn (a).
There are few reports about his life in the three decades after the demise of the Prophet (s). In the period of the caliphate of Imam 'Ali (a), he accompanied his father and participated in the battles of Siffin, Jamal, and Nahrawan alongside his father. After the demise of Imam 'Ali (a), he followed and supported Imam al-Hasan (a). He confirmed the treaty between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya. Even after the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Husayn (a) adhered to the treaty until the Mu'awiya's death. In response to letters from Kufa which invited him to lead an uprising against Mu'awiya he recommended them to remain patient until the time of Mu'awiya's death.
The imamate of Imam al-Husayn (a) coincided with the rule of Mu'awiya, who supposedly respected the Imam (a) but, at the same time, took pleasure in weakening and subjugating the Shi'a. Imam al-Husayn (a) rebuked Mu'awiya in several cases, he wrote Mu'awiya a letter, condemning him for the murder of Hujr b. Adi. On another occasion, when Mu'awiya introduced Yazid as his successor, Imam al-Husayn (a) refused to pledge allegiance to him, calling him unfit for leadership and proclaimed himself as the rightful leader of the ummah. The sermon of the Imam (a) in Mina can also be regarded as a political lecture against the Umayyads.
After Mu'awiya died, Imam al-Husayn (a) refused to give allegiance to Yazid and considered his rise to caliphate as illegitimate. When al-Walid b. 'Utba, the governor of Medina, was sent to order Imam al-Husayn (a) to either pledge allegiance to Yazid or be killed, Imam al-Husayn (a) made his way from Medina towards Mecca on Rajab 28, 60/May 4, 680. In the four months he stayed in Mecca, he received many letters that urged him to assume the leadership of ummah. As Imam (a) and his companions approached Kufa, the army of 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad intercepted Imam's caravan on Yazid's order.
For fear of revenge from Yazid's army, the people of Kufa reneged on their promises to support the Imam (a). As a result, the Battle of Karbala took place on the Day of 'Ashura'. Imam (a) along with a handful of his companions (around seventy-two) were martyred and the remaining companions were taken as captives to Kufa and Syria.
There are differing views as to the purpose of Imam's (a) journey from Medina to Karbala. Some believe that Imam (a) intended to establish a government, but others hold that Imam (a) merely wanted to protect his own life.
The martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) has had a deep impact on Muslims in general and on the Shi'a in particular; it has been a source of inspiration for various resistance movements and revolutions throughout history.
Following the school of the Imams (a) visiting the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a), the mourning ceremonies, and other associated rituals that ensued to commemorate his martyrdom, found their unique place among Shi'a circles especially during months of Muharram and Safar.
Sunni Muslims speak highly of Imam al-Husayn (a), because of a) the hadiths they have transmitted about his virtues and b) his resistance against Yazid.
Imam al-Husayn's (a) hadiths, letters, sermons, poems, and supplications have been collected in Mawsu'at kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn (The Encyclopedia of Imam al-Husayn's Words) and in Musnad al-Imam al-Shahid (The Musnad of the Martyred Imam). Many works have also been published regarding aspects of his life and personality.
Al-Husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib b. Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim was a Hashemite and from the Quraysh tribe. His father was Imam Ali (a) and his mother was Lady Fatima (a). He is a grandson of the Prophet (s). Imam al-Hasan (a), Abu l-Fadl al-Abbas, and Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya are his brothers, and Lady Zaynab is his sister.
|[Expand]Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)|
According to Shi'a and Sunni narrations, the Prophet (s) followed God's order and named him al-Husayn The names al-Hasan and al-Husayn have no historical precedence before Islam and are translations of Shubbar and Shubayr the names of the two sons Aaron. There are other reports too about why he was named al-Husayn. It is reported, for instance, that Imam Ali (a) initially named him Harb or Ja'far, but the Prophet (s) chose the name al-Husayn for him. However, scholars have regarded such reports as inauthentic.
His Teknonym was Abu Abd Allah which, like his name, was given by the Prophet (s) when al-Husayn was a child. Also, Imam al-Husayn (a) was known by other kunyas, Abu Ali, Abu l-Shuhada [father of the martyrs], Abu l-Ahrar [father of the free-minded], and Abu al-Mujahidin [father of the fighters (on the way of God)].
Many titles have been attributed to Imam al-Husayn (a), and some of them are as the same as the titles associated with his brother, Imam al-Hasan (a), such as Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Janna (master of the youth of the paradise). Al-Zaki, al-Tayyib, al-Wafi, al-Sayyid, al-Mubarak, al-Nafi', al-Dalil Ala Dhat Allah, al-Rashid, and al-Tabi' li-Mardat Allah are among the special titles of Imam al-Husayn (a). Ibn Talha al-Shafi'i reports "al-Zaki" as the most popular title and "Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Janna" as the most important of the Imam's (a) titles. In some Shi'a hadiths, Imam al-Husayn (a) is referred to as al-Shahid or Sayyid al-Shuhada. Thar Allah and Qatil al-'Abarat are other titles which are mentioned in some ziyarah texts.
According to a hadith, which is recorded in many Sunni and Shiite sources, the Prophet (s) said, "al-Husayn is a sibt from the asbat." About the meaning of sibt and its plural asbat, it is said that asbat are those descendants of prophets who are chosen as leaders of people.
Imam al-Husayn (a) was born in Medina. While some have recorded that he (a) was born in 3/625, the most preferred account among historians and scholars is that his birth was in 4/626. There is no consensus regarding the day on which Imam (a) was born but it is believed it was most likely on Sha'ban 3. Al-Mufid mentioned his birth on Sha'ban 5.
According to Sunni and Shiite reports, when al-Husayn (a) was born, the Prophet (s) wept and talked about his martyrdom. According to some reports, in his childhood, Umm al-Fadl, the wife of al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib, became his wet nurse.
There is disagreement about the count of the children of Imam al-Husayn (a). Al-Shaykh al-Mufid reports Imam al-Husayn (a) had six children, four boys and two girls. Some scholars counted nine children, six boys and three girls. Few people have said his children were more than ten.
|Shahrbanu||daughter of Yazdgirdو the king of Iran||Imam al-Sajjad (a)||Contemporary researchers doubt this, in some reports she is mentioned as Sindiyya, Ghazala, and Shah-i Zanan|
|Rabab||daughter of Imru' al-Qays b. Adi||Sukayna and Abd Allah||She was present in the Battle of Karbala and went to Syria among the captives of Karbala. Abd Allah was an infant when he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala. Today, Shi'as name him as Ali al-Asghar.|
|Layla||daughter of Abu Murra b. Urwa al-Thaqafi||Ali al-Akbar (a)||Ali al-Akbar (a) was the eldest son of Imam al-Husayn (a), who was martyred in Karbala.|
|Umm Ishaq bt. Talha||daughter of Talha b. 'Ubayd Allah||Fatima||Umm Ishaq was a wife of Imam al-Hasan (a), after his martyrdom, Imam al-Husayn (a) married her.|
|Sulafa or Maluma||from Quda'a tribe||Ja'far||He passed away before the events of Ashura', and was survived by no children.|
In Lubab al-ansab, a sixth/twelfth century source, it is mentioned that Imam al-Husayn (a) had a daughter called Ruqayya. Also, in Kamil-i Baha'i, from the seventh/thirteenth century, reports that the Imam (a) had a four-year old daughter, who passed away in Damascus. The name Ruqayya appears in many later sources. Moreover, some sources mention Ali al-Asghar, the son of Shahrbanu, Muhammad, the son of Rabab, and Zaynab without mentioning her mother's name as the children of Imam al-Husayn (a). In his book Matalib al-sa'ul, Ibn Talha al-Shafi'i has stated that the Imam (a) had ten children.
Imam al-Husayn (a) was seven years old when the Prophet of Islam (s) passed away; nevertheless, even in those short years, he was present in important events of that time together with the Ahl al-Bayt (a), such as in the Event of Mubahala with the Christians of Najran, the event of the Ashab al-Kisa' [the Cloak], giving allegiance to the Prophet (s) and being asked to be a witness when writing letters.
Ibn Sa'd mentioned Imam al-Husayn (a) in the last class (fifth class) of the Companions of the Prophet (s), he was a small child when the Prophet (s) passed away and did not accompany him in any battle.
He was always especially favored by the Prophet (s). It is narrated from the Prophet (s), "Surely, al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the masters of the youths in paradise."
It is narrated from Salman al-Farsi, that the Prophet (s) put al-Husayn (a) on his lap and kissed him and said, "You are noble, son of a noble person and [will be] the father of noble ones; you are an Imam and son of an Imam and the father of Imams; you are the Proof of God, and son of the Proof of God and father of the proofs of God who are nine and the last of whom is their al-Qa'im."
The Prophet's (s) love towards al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) was so much that when they entered the mosque, he (s) would stop his speech, and come down from the pulpit to welcome them with hugs. Anas b. Malik says, "When the Prophet (s) was asked whom he (s) loved more among his family, he (s) replied, 'al-Hasan and al-Husayn.'"
|[hide]Timeline of Imam al-Husayn's (s) Life|
|Sha'ban 3 or 5, 4/January 8 or 10, 626||Birthday|
|7/728-9||Revelation of al-Tathir Verse about Ashab al-Kisa'|
|Dhu l-Hijja 24 9/April 3, 631||Presence in Mubahala|
|Rabi' I 11/June 632||Going with his father, mother, and brother to the houses of Ansar and those who participated in the Battle of Badr to gain support for rightful position of khilafa of his father.|
|Dhu l-Hijja 35/June 656||Protection of 'Uthman's house by the order of Imam 'Ali (a) against oppressors.|
|Dhu l-Hijja 35/June 656||Delivering a sermon for people after they gave allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a).|
|Jumada II 36/December 656||Presence in Battle of Jamal|
|Safar 37/July 657||Presence in Battle of Siffin|
|Safar 38/658||Presence in Battle of Nahrawan|
|41/662||Rrturn form Kufa to Medina|
|Safar 28, 50/March 27, 670||Martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a) and the beginning of Imam al-Husayn's (a) Imamate|
|51/671 or 52/672 or 53/673||Writing critical letter to Mu'awiya as he murdered Hujr b. 'Adi and his companions.|
|Dhu l-Hijja 58/October 678||Delivering a sermon in Mina|
|Rajab 26, 60/May 2, 680||Summoned to Dar al-Imara to pledge his allegiance to Yazid.|
|Rajab 28, 60/May 4, 680||Leaving Medina toward Mecca|
|Sha'ban 3, 60/May 9, 680||Entering Mecca|
|Ramadan 10-14, 60/June 14-18, 680||Delivery of the letters of the Kufans to the Imam (a)|
|Ramadan 15, 60/June 19, 680||Sending Muslim b. 'Aqil from Mecca toward Kufa as his representative|
|Dhu l-Hijja 8, 60/September 9, 680||Departure form Mecca toward Kufa|
|Muharram 2, 61/October 2, 680||Entering Karbala|
|Muharram 9, 61/October 9, 680||Announcing of the Battle by 'Umar b. Sa'd and Imam's (a) asking for a delay.|
|Muharram 10, 61/October 10, 680||Event of 'Ashura and martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions.|
Imam al-Husayn (a) spent around twenty five years of his life under the rule of the three caliphs. He (a) was seven years old at the beginning of the caliphate of the first caliph, nine years old at the beginning of the caliphate of the second caliph and nineteen years old at the beginning of the caliphate of the third caliph. There is not so much information available about the life of al-Husayn (a) during this period which may be due to Imam Ali's (a) withdrawal from the rule.
It is reported that in the first days of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, al-Husayn (a) together with his brother, al-Hasan (a), their mother, Lady Fatima (a) and their father, Ali (a) went to the houses of those who participated in the Battle of Badr to gain support for the rightful position of leadership which belonged to Imam Ali (a).
It is reported in some sources that one of the early days of the caliphate of Umar, al-Husayn (a) entered al-Masjid al-Nabawi where he (a) saw Umar giving a speech on the pulpit of the Prophet (s). So, he (a) stepped up the pulpit and told him, "Come down from the pulpit of my father and go sit on the pulpit of your father!" Umar was astounded at this statement and said, "My father did not have a pulpit!" There are reports about the special respect of the second caliph for al-Husayn (a).
When Uthman exiled Abu Dhar to Rabadha, he forbade anyone from accompanying or bidding him farewell. Al-Husayn (a) with his father, his brother al-Hasan (a), his uncle (Aqil b. Abi Talib), his cousin (Abd Allah b. Ja'far), and Ammar b. Yasir disregarded the caliph's order and bid farewell to Abu Dhar.
According to some Sunni sources, al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) participated in the Battle of Ifriqiyya in 26/646-7 and in the Battle of Tabaristan in 29/649-50 or 30/650-1. This report is not affirmed in any Shiite sources. Moreover, it is said that no fight occurred in those battles, and the two sides made peace. Scholars disagree as to the authenticity of the reports that indicate the presence of the two Imams (a) in these battles. For instance, considering the weakness of their chains of transmitters and the disagreement of the Imams with the conquests, al-Sayyid Ja'far Murtada al-'Amili maintains that these reports are inauthentic. He mentions that the fact that Imam Ali (a) did not allow them to fight in the Battle of Siffin is further evidence that those reports are fabricated. However, some other scholars hold that the participation of the two Imams (a) in those battles were for the greater good of the Ummah and in order to provide Imam Ali (a) with accurate information about the circumstances and also to acquaint people with Ahl al-Bayt (a).
Despite dissatisfaction regarding the leadership of the Third Caliph, Imam 'Ali (a) ordered al-Husayn (a) and al-Hasan (a) to go and protect 'Uthman's house, when people rose against his oppression and stormed towards his house. This report has supporters and deniers.
It is reported that when people paid allegiance to Imam Ali (a), al-Husayn (a) delivered a speech. During the Battle of Jamal, he was the commander of the left wing of his father's army. In the Battle of Siffin, he delivered a speech, encouraging people to jihad, and became the commander of the warriors of the right wing of the army. However, al-Hasanayn's (a) role in Siffin was limited, according to sources that allude to Imam Ali's (a) preference not to involve his sons in the fighting only to protect them, on one occasion, it is reported that in this battle al-Husayn (a) was present in a successful attempt to reclaim the control of water, which Imam Ali (a) later described the act as the first success achieved due to sheer blessing given upon the presence of al-Husayn. Reports that al-Husayn (a) participated in the Battle of Nahrawan also exist.
Some sources report that when Imam Ali (a) was martyred, al-Husayn (a) was with him and participated in his burial ceremony. However, according to some other sources, al-Husayn (a) was on a mission in al-Mada'in when his father was attacked and wounded by Ibn Muljam. He returned to Kufa when he received the letter of his brother informing him about the assassination.
Al-Husayn (a) had the utmost respect for his brother. It is reported, for instance, that if Imam al-Hasan (a) was present in a session, al-Husayn (a) would not speak. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a) a group of Khawarij, who did not want to give up fighting against the Syrians, refused to pledge allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (a) and came to al-Husayn (a) to choose him as their leader. He told them, "God forbid that I accept your allegiance while al-Hasan (a) is alive." When Imam al-Hasan (a) made peace with Mu'awiya, al-Husayn (a) defended his brother's decision against the people who opposed it. He stated that al-Hasan (a) "is my Imam." It is reported that when the peace treaty was made, Imam al-Husayn (a), like his brother, paid allegiance to Mu'awiya. He remained faithful to the treaty after the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a). There are, however, some reports indicating that al-Husayn (a) did not pledge allegiance to Mu'awiya and was not pleased with the treaty, but, considering the evidence against such reports, scholars have regarded them as unreliable. According to reliable reports, at the time of the treaty of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya, some followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) asked al-Husayn (a) to oppose this political peace treaty and stand against Mu'awiya. However, he (a) firmly supported his brother's treaty. When Qays b. Sa'd asked al-Husayn's (a) view on the treaty, he (a) openly shared his support for Imam al-Hasan's (a) decision. After the peace treaty was signed, al-Husayn (a) returned to Medina and remained there.
The beginning of the imamate of Imam al-Husayn (a) coincided with the tenth year of Mu'awiya's rule. After the peace treaty with Imam al-Hasan (a) in 41/661, Mu'awiya became the caliph of the Muslim ummah and established the Umayyad dynasty. Acco