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Hossein (Husayn) ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (3rd Sha‘bān 4 AH - 10th Muharram 61 AH; 8 January 626 AD - 10 October 680 AD) was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah (daughter of Muhammad). Husayn is an important figure in Islam as he is a member of the the household of Muhammad as well as being a Shī‘a Imām, and one of The Fourteen Infallibles of Shī'a Twelvers. Husayn ibn ‘Alī is revered by all Shi'a as a martyr who fought tyranny, as he refused to pledge allegiance to Yazīd I the Umayyad caliph. He rose up to create a regime that would reinstate ####a "true" Islāmic polity as opposed to what he considered the unjust rule of the Umayyads. As a consequence, Husayn was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbalā in 680 (61AH) by Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan. The anniversary of his martyrdom is called ‘Āshūrā ("tenth" day of Muharram) and is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims. Revenge for Husayn's death was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine the Umayyad caliphate, and gave impetus to the rise of a powerful Shī‘ah movement. Husayn, and his brother Hasan, were the last descendants of Muhammad living during his time and remaining after his death. There are many accounts of Muhammad's great love for them, and referring to them together, but at times confusing them with each other.
Husayn and Caliphate
The Shi'ah claim that Ali's eldest son, Hasan, who was the successor to Ali's Imamate, should be the caliph and that the Islamic tradition should not be discarded again. 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 reminded his followers of Ali's position that Imamate is sufficient for successorship of Muhammad and that leading the Muslim state was not a criterion. Thus, to avoid the agonies of another civil war, he signed a treaty with Muawiyah and relinquished the control of what had turned into an Arabian kingdom. After a few years of making this treaty Hassan was secretly poisoned by Muawiyah (according to Shia sources). This left Husayn as the head of the Alids and the successor to Hassan's Imamate.
When Hasan ibn Ali agreed to make a peace treaty with Muawiyah I, the first Umayyad caliph, he left Kufa and went to Medina with his brother Husayn. According to the Shi'ah belief, he lived under the most difficult outward conditions of suppression and persecution. This was due to the fact that, first of all, religious laws and regulations had lost much of their weight and credit, and the edicts of the Umayyad government had gained complete authority and power. Secondly, Mu'awiyah and his aides made use of every possible means to put aside past disputes and move out of the way the Household of Muhammad and the lovers of Ali and his sons and thus obliterate the name of Ali and his family. Muawiyah I ordered for public curses of Ali and his major supporters including Hasan and Husayn.
One of the important points of the treaty made between Hasan and Mu'awiyah was that Mu'awiyah will not designate anyone as his successor after his death and the decision will be left to the Ummah (the Nation). But after the death of Hasan, he, thinking that no one will be courageous enough to object his decision as the Caliph, designated his son, Yazid I, as his successor in 680CE, literally breaking the treaty. When Yazid I became the Caliph, he forced Husayn ibn Ali and Abd Allah ibn Zubayr to pledge allegiance to him, but they refused and migrated from Medina to Mecca in that year.. Husayn left Medina with his sisters, daughters, sons, brothers, and the sons of Hasan. He took a side road to Mecca to avoid being pursued, and once in Mecca Husayn stayed in the house of `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and remained there for four months. Husayn opposed Yazid I and declared that Umayyad rule was not only oppressive, but also religiously misguided. In his view the integrity and survival of the Islamic community depended on the reestablishment of the correct guidance. Husayn also believed that the succession of Yazid I was an attempt to establish an illegitimate hereditary dynasty. The religious attitudes of the Umayyad also inspired people who believed that leadership of the Muslim community rightly belonged to the descendants of Ali, so they urged Husayn to join them and come to Kufa to establish his caliphate since they had no imam. They told him that they did not attend the Friday prayer with the governor of Kufa, No'man ibn Bashir, and would drive him out of the town as soon as Husayn agreed to come to them. To convince Husayn to come they sent him seven messengers with bags of letters of support by Kufan warriors and tribal leaders. Husayn wrote the Kufans and told them that he understood from their letters that they had no imam and they wished him to come to unite them by the correct guidance. He informed them that he was sending his cousin Moslem ibn Aqil to report to him on the situation. If he found them united as their letters indicated he would quickly join them, for it was the duty of the imam to act in accordance with the Quran and to uphold justice, proclaim the truth, and to dedicate himself to the cause of God. The mission of Moslem was initially successful. The Kufan Shias visited him freely, and 18,000 men are said to have enlisted with him in support of Husayn. He wrote to Husayn, encouraging him to come quickly to Kufa. Husayn was also visited by a Shia supporter with two of his sons from Basra, where Shia sentiment was limited. He then sent identical letters to the chiefs of the five divisions into which the Basran tribes were divided. He wrote them that Muhammad's family were his family and were the rightful heirs of his position, and that others had illegitimately claimed the right which belonged exclusively to Muhammad's family. The family had initially consented to the actions of the first caliphs for the sake of the unity of the nation. He said that the caliphs who had seized the right of Muhammad's family had done many good things, and had sought the truth. The letter closely reflected the guidelines set by Ali, who had strongly upheld the sole right of the family of Muhammad to leadership of the Muslim community but had also praised the conduct of the first caliphs Abu Bakr and Omar. While most of the recipients of the letter kept it secret, one of them suspected that it was a ploy of the governor Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziad to test their loyalty and turned it over to him. Ubayd-Allah seized and beheaded Husayn's messenger and addressed a stern warning to the people of Basra. In Kufa the situation changed radically when Yazid replaced Noman ibn Bashir with Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziad, ordering the latter to deal severely with Huseyn's cousin, Moslem ibn Aqil. Ubayd-Allah succeeded in intimidating the tribal chiefs, and a revolt collapsed when the rebels failed to capture the governor's palace. Moslem was found and delivered to Ubayd-Allah, who had him beheaded on the top of the palace and his body thrown down to the crowd. Yazid wrote to Ubayd-Allah, commending him highly for his decisive action and ordering him to set up watches for Husayn and his supporters and to arrest them but to kill only those who would fight him. Yazid perceived Husayn's refusal to pledge allegiance as a danger to his throne because he was Muhammad's family, so he plotted to kill the grandson of Muhammad during the Hajj, in the precincts of the Holy Kaaba, thus defiling and desecrating it (killing a person in Mecca is prohibited in Islam). 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, Muhammad. Husayn in his path toward Kufa encountered the army of Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, led by al-Hurr al-Riyahi (a top commander in the Umayyad army who later changed sides). At the Battle of Karbala it is recorded that seventy two people were killed. On his way toward Kufa, Husayn encountered the army of Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, which was led by Hurr.
Husayn's body is buried in Karbala, near the site of his death. His head is said to have been returned from Damascus and interred with his body. Husayn's grave became the most visited place of pilgrimage for Shias. The Imam Husayn Shrine was later built over his grave. In 850 Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil, destroyed his shrine in order to stop Shia pilgrimages. However, pilgrimages continued. It is now a holy site of pilgrimage for Shia Muslims. Shias regard Hussein as an Imam (Spiritual leader) 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 Sunni belief he was a willing sacrifice to religious necessity, and Sunni view Hussein as an exemplar of courage and resistance against tyranny. Ashura, a day of mourning and self-reflection, is held in honor of his suffering.
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