3rd Shiite Imam
In the house of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household), a child who benefited humanity as if he was Divine Impression reflecting the earth was born on the 3rd night of the month of Sha'ban. His father was Imam Ali (A.S.), the best model of kindness towards his friends and the bravest against the enemies of Islam, and his mother was Lady Fatima (A.S.), who had as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father. When the good news of his birth reached the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household), he came to his daughter's house, took the newly-born child in his arms, recitedazaan andiqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and on the 7th day of his birth, named him Hossein, in compliance with Allah's command. Hasan (A.S.) and Hossein (A.S.), the two sons of the Holy Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S.) and Lady Fatima (A.S.), our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the "Leaders of the Youths of Paradise" as stated by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household).
Imam Hossein (A.S.) was born on the 3rd of Sha'ban, in 4th year of Hijrah inMedina. When the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) heard the news of Imam Hossein's birth, became very happy and came to the house of Fatima (A.S.). Asma, the maidservant ofFatima covered the child in a white cloth and brought him to the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household). The Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) picked the child up in his lap and recited the Azaan in his right ear and iqamah in the left one. As if, apparently, he (A.S.) made the ears of his son familiar and acquainted with the name of God for the first time. On the seventh day of the birth, an angel came from the God and he said, "Just as Haroon was the brother, sympathizer, and helper in each and every difficulty of Moses (A.S.) similarly Ali (A.S.) is your sympathizer, helper and brother in each and every matter of yours. Therefore, keep the name of this child upon the name of Haroon's son "Shabeer," which translated into Arabic becomes 'Hossein'. Thus the name of the second child of Fatima (A.S.) was also selected by God.
On the 7th day of the birth Lady Fatima (A.S.) got a sheep slaughtered as theAqeeqa and distributed its meat among the needy and poor.
The Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) quite often hugged Hossein (A.S.) taking him into his lap and used to weep bitterly, saying, "A very big tragedy will be met by my son Hossein. The brutal and bloody men of Bani Omyaide will slay my dear son. I will not intercede and mediate for them on the Day of Doom.
After the death of Prophet Mohammad and before his burial a new era of struggle for power started.Al Insars who were the inhabitants of Medina gathered in a place calledSaqifatBani Saiedah which is their community meeting place and selected among them Sa'd Bin Uobadah to be the leader. The Mohajreen who migrated with Prophet Mohammad the tribe of Qoraysh heard this. They left the body of the Prophet and want to the same place. The two sides clashed and argued about who should be the leader. The scene was chaotic with threats from both sides. Ali and the family of Prophet haven't attended and have been ignored.Ali was adopted by Mohammadwhen he was a boy to help his uncle Abi Talib during economical crises. He was the son in law of the Prophet, his cousin, and brother by choice and the first one to embrace Islam after the prophet, and his deputy at least according to many Muslims at that time. Ali was poor and he was disliked by the rich aristocrats of Qoraysh.
The meeting resulted in taking allegiance toAbo Baker who was one of the Immigrants to Medina. Some Muslims rejected and some asked to wait until Ali and the prophet kinsmen finished from his burial but the matter moved forward by some. That was a breakthrough point in the history of division in Islam.
Imam Ali hasn't submitted his allegiance until the death of Lady Fatima, 6 months later. At this time the power established well in the hands of Abo Baker andOmar and have he not doing so he may have been killed. Abo baker and Omar used Imam Ali as a consultant for them. During the reign ofOthman who was fromOmayyd family there were a lot of unrest inEgypt and Iraq and other parts due to the oppressive and unjust behaviors of the local leaders. Othman appointed leaders among his family and some of them are arrogant to the people. The unrest resulted in surrounding Othman house and Ali tried to stop things but was unable so the revolted people killed Othman. This was amajor point in the history of Islam. Here the division started to take a different shape.
Now Ali has been selected by the people to lead and he refused initially but the revolted people and others convinced him that they need his leadership now! He accepted but Muawya in Damascus who was the cousin of Othman refused that and entered into many wars with Ali. After the death of Ali (killed during prayer in Kufa mosque), Muawiyah signed agreement with Ali's eldest Son Imam Hasan to stop blood shade and the power will go to Hasan after him but Muawiyah killed Imam Hasan by putting poison in his honey. He then forced every one to give allegiance to his son Yazid after him. After his death Yazid sent for Medina to ask the people to recognize him as the leader. He instructed his army if any one refused to give allegiance to be killed and namedImam Hosein as one of the most important people to start with.
Yazid was arrogant, oppressive, and unjust man. His messenger to Imam Hosein in the governor of Medina asked Imam Hosein after summoning him to submit his will to Yazid. Imam Hosein knew if he does so it will be the end of the moral aspects in the religion and the acceptance of the slavery dictatorship of Yazid. He refused and asked the messenger to wait for a while. Imam Hosein then decided to leave with his family (wife, children, brothers and some others) to Iraq because he knew Yazid has already planned to assassinate him. He took his family because if he leaves them Yazid will take them as captives. The followers of his father and grand father in Iraq have written to him before to go there and provide him with protection. He then made his mind and went from Medina to Mecca then across the desert towards Kufa.
Map of the rout Imam Hosein passed toward Kufa
Yazid arranged a huge army of 33,000 men very well equipped and appointed Oubiadallah Bin Ziad as the governor of Kufa. Bin Ziad was a known person for his arrogance, un-mercifulness, oppression, and every thing inhuman. He was governor on Basra. Since his arrival to Kufa worked in two ways, threat and killing and buying the people with money. Hecaptured the messenger of Imam Hosein and his cousin Muslim Bin Aqeel; beating him and throws him from the roof of the palace then crucified him with Hani Bin Urowa his hostess.
Yazid sent his strongest army while Bin Ziad sent an army to surround Imam Hosein and his family and prevent them from changing their direction until Yazid army arrives. Imam Hosein have just over 100 with him most of them among his family. They forced Imam Hosein and his family (the family of Prophet Mohammad) to retreat to Karbala. Karbala is two phrases word; kar means anguish andbala means vexation.
Imam Hosein debated with them that they are themselves send for him to come and tried to convince them that they are in actual fact surrounding the women and children of their Prophet but they refused to let him to go. They said that he has to submit completely his will to Bin Ziad and then Yazid or he will face his fate. He showed them more than 500 letters that they sent but they denied it!
After a long journey through the desert his children were thirsty as well as the women and the men. They prevent him from the Euphrates water. Even on the 10th Muharram, Imam got his 6 months old baby who was crying aggressively for water and he took him to the army asking for water just for this baby, instead they throw the baby with a dart which strike him on his neck and killed him instantly. Imam Hosein then took the blood of his baby in his hand and throw it to heaven asking God to witness what these people done to a baby belong to the family of their prophet.
The night before the war Imam Hosein gathered his family and followers and told them that the army wants him himself and so he told them you are free to go while it is dark, thence just a group of about 72 warriors remained. One of those who fought with him was a Christian young man called John.
On the 10th of Muharram aroundmidday Yazid army attacked Imam Hosein camp. Imam Hosein first advised them saying that we are until now one nation but if the sword happened between us then we became two nations; you are one and we are different. From that time the practical division between Shia and Sunni manifest itself very clearly and widely. Shia means the supporters or followers of Ali and Ahl Al Biat (the family of the Prophet Mohammad).
In few hours all Imam's followers and members of family were killed in the battle and when Imam Hosein remained alone he asked loudly if there is any one protects the family of the messenger of God! Yazid's Army attacked him and then racked him with the feet of their horses when he tumbled. They then cut his head and the heads of his brothers and followers and raise them on spears.
Hosein (A.S.) came to his death on Saturday, the 10th of Muharram in the year 61 A.H. after the time for the mid-day prayer. He was killed wrongfully, while thirsty, always showing fortitude but forced to be detained, as we have already explained. His age on that day was fifty-eight years. Of these, he spent seven with his grandfather, the Prophet, thirty-seven with his father (A.S.) and forty-seven with his brother, Hasan (A.S.). The period of his succession to Imamate after his brother was eleven years.
After this they attacked the women and put the tents in fire. The children escaped in all directions and the women tried to protect them. They beaten the children and women by the whips and ripped off their belonging. Then they took them as captives!!! Children and women!! Among them was Zaynab the sister of Imam Hosein who witnessed the massacre of her sons, brothers, nephews and other relatives in the bloodiest way of barbaric killing.
Bin Ziad looked to the head of Imam Hosein and started to strike his mouth with a cane, feeling the joy and happiness filling his sadistic inhuman personality. He then turned to humiliate the women of the family of Prophet Mohammad. Zaynab then delivered a strong speech describing the magnitude of their crime. Bin Ziad ordered his guards to kill Ali the son of Hosein (the 4th Imam) who was a young boy and haven't joined the battle because he was ill. Zaynab throw her self over the boy and said if you want to kill him you have to kill me first before him. Bin Ziad withdraws his devilish wish after Zaynab insistence.
The army then took the women and children on a camel caravan to Damascus. They passed many cities and villages. They told the people that those women and children are among foreigners who were out law and refused to submit to the Caliph Yazid. Fear and Terror producing strategy. They haven't told the truth that they are the prophet's family to prevent revolt.
Before they arrive to Damascus there was aPriest in his remote chapel he spotted the caravan from a distance and saw a light shining from the head of Hussein up to the sky. The Priest stopped them and asked them who is that head for? They refused to tell him. After he gave them money they told him that the head belongs to Imam Hosein the son of Lady Fatima the daughter of Prophet Mohammad. He got some money with him and asked them to take it and let the head with him for a while. They took the money and gave him the head. The Priest washed it and heard recitation of the holly Qurancoming from the head!
In Damascus Yazid put them chained in a ruin before depart them to Medina. Many of the children died from starvation, diseases and beating during this long journey. The little daughter of Imam Hosein, while in the abandoned ruin in Damascus, started to cry and insisted to see her father. Zaynab tried to please her but she never stopped crying. Then they brought the head and told her this is your father. She hugged the head and took a deep sigh and passed away.
Imam Hosein is remembered as a symbol of freedom and dignity against tyrant and slavery. Imam Hosein never bowed to tyrant and oppressive regime of Yazid. Gandhi the strongman of India said: "I learnt from Hossein how I be tyrannized and achieve victory!". A woman who was mourning in Muharram has been asked about it. She said to mourn for a beloved one is a personal thing which will fade with time but to mourn for Imam Hosein is to mourn for the mankind which will never fade as far as there is tyranny and oppression and slavery.
An aero view of Karbala and Imam Hosein's Shrine
Many intellectuals wrote about Imam Hosein. Gerhard Konsilman a German journalist said that Yazid used to despise the people, salving and oppressing them and irresponsible sinful person. Imam Hosein by his realistic personality and death defeated the tyrant. His revolt was the ignition for the end of Umayyad density. Konsilman added that the dead Hussein was more dangerous on Yazid than the live Hussein. The martyrdom of Hussein in Karbala remained the symbol for freedom, dignity and rejection of the tyrants.
Merits of Pilgriming Imam Hosein's Shrine
Many reports have come down about the great merit to be acquired by visiting his grave indeed of it being necessary for everyone who accepts the Imamate of Hosein (A.S.), as being bestowed on him by God, the Mighty and High. It is reported from Imam Jafer Sadiq (A.S.) that he said: Visiting the grave of Hosein (A.S.) is equal to a hundred acceptable pilgrimages and a hundred acceptable lesser pilgrimages ('umra). Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his household) said: Whoever visits the grave of Hosein (A.S.) after the latter's death, will have heaven as his reward.
The Similarity between Jesus Christ and Hosein
There are some similarities betweenJesus Christ and Hosein in that both of them rejected tyrant and wrongful and gave themselves in the way of freedom, salvation, dignity and righteous aspect of life. Their path is one and their salvation is by following their path of peace and justice. Before them Moses and Aaron defied the tyranny of Pharaoh and Aaron was deemed weak by his own people when Moses left to receive the Ten Commandments.
Hosein will remain as a revolution against all tyrants and oppressors. He will continue as a symbol for dignity and freedom for all the mankind and not only the Shia Muslims.
Imam Hosein had married five times. The names of his wives are:
1- Shahr Banu the daughter of Yazd Gerd, the last emperor of Iran. Imam Zaynul Abedin (A.S.) our fourth Imam was her son. She died within ten days of our fourth Imam's birth.
2- Rabab was the daughter of Imra'u Al Qays the chief of the tribe of Kinda. Rabab was the mother of Sakina and the baby Abdallah (also called Ali Asghar). She was present inKarbala with Imam Hossein (A.S.) and died after one year of return toMedina after the tragedy of Karbala.
3- Layla was the daughter of Abu Murra, the son of Urwah bin Mas'ud Al Thaqafi. Her mother was Maymunah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan and thus she was the cousin of Yazid. Her aunt Umm Sa'id, daughter of Urwah was a wife of Imam Ali (A.S.). Layla was the mother of Ali Akbar. According to scholars she was not alive at the time of the Tragedy of Karbala. Her name has not been mentioned in the old books written aboutKarbala. Nor was her name mentioned in the court of Yazid and there is no account of anyone blaming Yazid for imprisoning his own cousin.
4- Umm Isaac was the daughter of Talha bin Ubaydallah Taimi and she is the mother of Fatima Kobra.
5- Quda'iyah was from the tribe of Quda'ah. She gave birth to one child Ja'far who died in Childhood.
* Kitab al Irshad by Sheikh al Mufid