Agnomen: Abu ‘Abdillah.
Father’s name: Ali Amir al-Mu’minin
Mother’s name: Fatimah (daughter of the Holy Prophet).
Birth: In Medina on Thursday, 3rd Sha’ban 4 AH
Death: Martyred in Karbala’ (Iraq) at the age of 57, on Friday, 10th Muharram 61 AH and buried there.
In the house of the Holy Prophet, which presented the best image of both the worlds – the heaven and the earth – a child who benefited humanity as if he was a Divine Impression reflecting the earth, was born on one of the nights of the month of Sha’ban. His father was Imam Ali, the best model of kindness towards his friends and the bravest against the enemies of Islam, and his mother was Hadhrat Fatimah, the only daughter and child of the Holy Prophet, who had as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father. Imam Husayn, is the third Apostolic Imam. When the good news of his birth reached the Holy Prophet, he came to his daughter’s house, took the newly-born child in his arms, recited Adhan and Iqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and on the 7th day of his birth, after performing the rites of aqiqah, named him al-Husayn, in compliance with Allah’s command.
‘Abdullah ibn Abbas relates: “On the very day when Imam Husayn was born, Allah ordered angel Gabriel to descend and congratulate the Holy Prophet on His Behalf and on his own. While descending, Gabriel passed over and island where the angel Futrus had been banished due to his delay in executing a commission assigned by Allah. He was deprived of his wings and expelled to the island where he remained for several years praying and worshipping Allah and asking for His forgiveness.
“When the angel Futrus saw Gabriel, he called out, ‘Where are you going, O Gabriel?’ To this he replied, ‘Husayn, the grandson of Muhammad is born, and for this very reason Allah has commanded me to convey His congratulations to His Apostle.’ Thereupon, the angel said, ‘Can you carry me also along with you? May Muhammad recommend my case to Allah. ‘Gabriel took the angel along with him, came to the Holy Prophet, offered congratulations to him on behalf of Allah and himself and referred the case of the angel to him. The Holy Prophet said to Gabriel, ‘Ask the angel to touch the body of the newly-born child and return to his place in Heaven.’ On doing this, the angel re-obtained his wings instantly and praising the Holy Prophet and his newly born grandson, ascended towards the Heaven.”
Hasan and Husayn, the two sons of the Holy Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hadhrat Fatimah, our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the ‘Leaders if the Youths of Paradise’ as stated by the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him and his progeny, had openly prophesied tht the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Husayn, when Yazid, son of Mu’awiyah, would endeavour to destroy it.
Yazid was known for his devilish character and brutish conduct. He was known as the most licentious of men. The people having known and understood the character of Yazid, formed a covenant by which Mu’awiyah could not appoint Yazid as his successor. This undertaking was given by Mu’awiyah to Imam Hasan from whom Mu’awiyah had snatched power. Mu’awiyah violated this undertaking and nominated Yazid who succeeded his father.
Immediately as he came to power, Yazid began acting in full accordance with his known character. He started interfering in the fundamentals of the faith and, practised every vice and wickedness freely with the highest degree of impunity and yet held himself out as the successor of the Holy Prophet, demanding allegiance to himself as the leading guide of the faith. Paying allegiance to Yazid was nothing short of acknowledging the devil as God. if a divine personality like the Holy Imam Husayn had agreed to his authority, it would be actually recommending the devil to humanity in place of God. Yazid demanded allegiance from the Holy Imam Husayn, who could have never agreed to it at any cost. The people fearing death and destruction at the hands of the tyrant had yielded to him out of fear. Imam Husayn said tht come whatever may, he would never yield to the devil in place of God and undo what his grandfather, the Holy Prophet had established.
The refusal of the Holy Imam to pay allegiance to this fiend, marked the start of the persecution of the Holy Imam. As a result he had retired to Medina where he led a secluded life. Even here he was not allowed to live in peace, and was forced to seek refuge in Mecca where also he was badly harassed, and Yazid plotted to murder him in the very precincts of the great sanctuary of Ka’bah.
In order to safeguard the great sanctuary, Imam Husayn decided to leave Mecca for Kufa just a day before the Hajj Pilgrimage. When asked the reason for the mysterious departure from Mecca foregoing the pilgrimage which was only the next day, Imam Husayn said tht he would perform his year’s pilgrimage at Karbala’, offering the sacrifice not of any animals, but of his kith and kin and some faithful friends. He enumerated the names of his kith and kin who would lay down their lives with him in the great sacrifice at Karbala’.
The people of Kufa getting tired of the tyrannical and satanic rule of Yazid, had written innumerable letters and sent emissaries to Imam Husayn to come over and give them guidance in faith. Although Imam Husayn knew the ultimate end of the invitations, he as the divinely chosen Imam could not refuse to give the guidance sought for. When the Holy Imam with his entourage had reached Karbala’, his horse mysteriously stopped and would not move any further. Upon this the Holy Imam declared: “This is the land, the land of sufferings and tortures.” He alighted from his horse, and ordered his followers to encamp there saying: “Here shall we be martyred and our children be killed. Here shall our tents be burned and our family arrested. This is the land about which my grandfather the Holy Prophet had foretold, and his prophecy will certainly be fulfilled.”
On the 7th of Muharram water supply to the Imam’s camp was cut and the torture of thirst and hunger started. The Holy Imam’s camp consisted of ladies, innocent children including babies and some male members of the Holy Prophet’s family; along with a small band of some faithful friends of Imam Husayn who had chosen to die with the Holy Imam, fighting against the devil for the cause of Allah.
Reference: The Fourteen Infallibles