Imam Hussain ibn Ali (peace be upon them)
Title: Sayyid al-Shuhada (the Master of Martyrs)
Kunya: Aba Abd Allah
Father: Ali ibn Abi Talib (Peace be upon them)
Mother: Fatimah bint Muhammad (Peace be upon them)
Born: 3rd Shaban, 3 AH/626 CE in Madinah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula
Died: 10th Muharram, 61 AH/680 CE, after being martyred during the Battle of Karbala
Age at Martyrdom: 57
Period of Imamate: 10 years
Buried: Karbala, Iraq
Words of Wisdom from Husayn ibn Ali (p)
- Imam Hussain (p) is reported to have said: “Whoever wishes to have an increased life span, an increased sustenance, should maintain relations with his kin.”1
- Imam Hussain (p) is reported to have said: “He who seeks to please God at the expense of people’s displeasure God suffices him in all of his affairs with people. But the one who seeks to please people at the expense of God’s displeasure, God renounces him to those very people.”2
- Imam Hussain (p) is reported to have said: “Know that people’s needs to you are among the graces of God upon you, [therefore], do not be tiresome of the graces lest it turns away to others.”3
- Imam Hussain (p) is reported to have said: “Whoever seeks a matter which entails disobeying God, he will more than likely miss what he hoped for, and quickly to [encounter] what he is cautious of.”4
- Imam Hussain (p) is reported to have said: “O people, be pious of God and know that to him you will return.”5
Salient Features of Imam Husayn ibn Ali (p)
- The Second Grandson of the Prophet
Similar to his older brother, Imam Husayn (p) also had a very close and loving relationship with his grandfather, the Prophet. When Imam Hussain (p) came toward Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), the Messenger of God said, “Welcome O Aba ‘Abdillah (Hussain), O you who is the adornment of the heavens and earth!” Another person present was taken aback and asked, “How can anyone be the adornment of the heavens and earth other than you, O Messenger of God?” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) replied: “… (I swear) by the One who sent me as a Prophet with Truth that the remembrance of Hussain, the son of ‘Ali, is greater in heaven than it is on earth. On the right of God’s throne, he (Imam Hussain) is written as ‘the lamp of guidance and the ship of salvation’”6
On countless occasions, the Prophet would praise Imam Hussain, “Hussain is from me, and I am from Hussain – God loves those who love Hussain.”7
Besides the Prophet’s love and affection for Imam Hussain (p), the Prophet also instilled within him the best of qualities and mannerisms. Together, the pair would recite the words of God, and the Prophet would teach him different surahs from the Quran.8
During these years, the following narration best encapsulates the divine and superior nature of Imam Hussain from his youth, growing up under the Prophet: “Hussain Ibn Ali, son of the dear daughter of the holy Prophet, enjoys nobility, dignity, and wisdom. His distinction is beyond the ability of the pen to write, and the tongue to speak. He is an ocean of knowledge, which has no shore. He is the suitable person for the post of caliphate. He enjoys a brilliant record, an age full of experience, a glorious background, and honorable kinship. He is very affectionate to the youngsters and kind to the elders.”9
After the Prophet’s death, when Ali sought out the Prophet’s wisdom, he turned to Hussain. Imam Ali (p) held his son’s face in his hands and looked into his eyes. Then, he exclaimed, “How closely you resemble the Prophet’s shape and complexion!”10 Hussain was the image of the Holy Prophet, both in terms of looks and character. It is clear that Imam Hussain embodied every aspect of spirituality from the Prophet, Imam Ali, and Lady Fatima Zahra. Hussain was the spiritual and physical manifestation of his forefathers, and he was raised under the light of their divine guidance.
- Du’a and Knowing God
Besides his close relationship with the Prophet, Imam Ali, and Imam Hasan, Imam Hussain is a profound leader based on his own merit.
Through Imam Hussain’s profound wisdom and unmatched devotion, he taught, and continues to teach, generation after generation about the way to know God. In the following prayer by Imam Hussain, known as Dua Arafah, Imam Hussain communicates with God.
“My Lord! Going back and forth between the effects (which lead to You) entails a distanced visit; So gather me unto You through a service that will lead me to You! How can You be proven through that which is in need of You in its very existence? Does something besides You have a manifestation that is not Yours such that it would be the one to manifest You?”
“ When have You ever been hidden, such that You need a proof to show You? When have You ever been distant, such that the effects are what lead to You? Blind is the eye which does not see You, Ever-Watchful over it! It has lost the deal – that of a servant for whom You did not set a share in Your Love…”11
This excerpt represents a peek into the beauty that motivated Imam Hussain (p) at the level of principles. It was with this certainty in knowing God that Imam Hussain (p) made his every move. This deep connection to God enabled the third infallible Imam to lead and strive in defense of the principles that represent humanity.
- The Stand Against Yazid
With Muawiyah death, Yazid quickly assumed the political throne and attempted to force his will upon Imam Hussain (p). Imam Hussain (p) again rejected the sacrilegious Yazid as a ruler and the system of monarchical despotism established by Muawiyah. As the Imam prepared for a stand against tyranny, Imam Hussain (p) also received letters from the people of Kufah, who wrote, “Furthermore; the gardens have greened and the fruits have ripened; So if you wish, then come toward (us) – troops are assembled for you (to lead).”12
Regardless of what support Imam Hussain (p) was to receive, he knew that an eternal stand against the camp of dehumanization was inevitable. The betrayal experienced by Prophet Muhammad, the injustice suffered by Imam Ali and Lady Fatima, the treachery directed toward Imam Hassan, and the murder of innocent life, culminated in Imam Hussain’s movement. Before departing toward Iraq, Imam Hussain (p) wrote the following in his will:
“Indeed, I did not leave out of self-conceit or vanity; neither to cause corruption nor oppression. Rather, I left to seek reform in the nation of my grandfather (Prophet Muhammad) and father (Imam Ali). I wish to promote virtue and prevent vice. So as for those who accept me in accepting the Truth, indeed God is of greater right over the Truth. As for those who reject, I will be patient until God judges between me and the people (who reject), with Truth, and He is the Best of Judges.”13
Imam Hussain (p) led a group of his close family members and companions toward Iraq. Even women and young ones passionately chose to join the third Imam in his epic struggle. On the way, Imam Hussain (p) was informed that his emissary to Kufah had been executed and that the people of Kufah had deserted him. Upon hearing the news, Imam Hussain (p) said, “Our Shia (supporters) have deserted us. Those of you who would like to leave may do so freely, without fault.”14
Those who remained committed to Imam Hussain’s mission were of the highest caliber in intellect, faith, and love. The tragic and heroic events that followed cannot be described adequately in these limited lines. However, every year, across the globe, the principled struggle of the noble 72 defenders – led by Imam Hussain – has been commemorated. The elegies, the reflections, the tears, and the principled actions of sincere devotees pronounce a glimpse of Imam Hussain’s universal message of truth, justice, and love for humanity.
The holy month of Muharram was a month in which bloodshed was considered forbidden among the Arabs, even before the advent of Islam. However, on the tenth day of that month, on the day of Ashura, in the land of Karbala, sacred blood was shed. Imam Hussain (p) was martyred at the hands of heartless terrorists – criminals who falsely claimed to follow Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp). Little did they know that Imam Hussain’s revolution had only just begun. 15
1. Al-Saduq, Oyoon akhbar al-Ridha (p), vol. 1, p. 48.
2. Al-Mufeed, al-Ikhtisas, p. 225.
3. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 75, p. 127.
4. Al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-uqool, p. 248
5. Al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-uqool, p. 249.
6. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 36, p. 204-205.
7. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 43, p. 261.
8.Yaqubi, Tarikh, 2/246.
9. Ibn Tawus, al-Lahuf, pg. 18.
10. Tabarani, Al-Mojam ul-kabir pg. 3,98.
11. Sayyid Ibn Tawus, Iqbal al-A’mal, vol. 2 pg. 50.
12. Shaykh Ja’far Subhani, al-A’immah al-Ithnay ‘Ashar, pg 55.
13. Shaykh Ja’far Subhani, Siratul A’immah, pg. 152.
14. Shaykh Ja’far Subhani, al-A’immah al-Ithnay ‘Ashar, pg. 56, 6,1.
15. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 44, p. 283-285.
“.١- رُوِيَ عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “من سرّه أن ينسأ في أجله ، و يزاد في “رزقه ، فليصل رحمه
٢- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “من طلب رضى الله بسخط الناس كفاه الله أمور الناس، ومن طلب رضى الناس بسخط الله، وكله الله إلى الناس”
“٣- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “اعلموا إن حوائج الناس إليكم، من نعم الله عليكم، فلا تملوا النعم فتتحول الى غيركم
“٤- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “من حاول أمرا بمعصية الله تعالى كان أفوت لما يرجو، وأسرع لمجئ ما يحذر
“٥- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “أيها الناس اتقوا الله واعلموا أنكم إليه راجعون
٦- روي عم الإمام الحسين (ع): “دخلت على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وعنده أبي بن كعب فقال لي رسول الله عليه السلام: مرحبا بك يا أبا عبد الله يا زين السماوات والأرضين، قال له أبي: وكيف يكون يا رسول الله زين السماوات والأرض أحد غيرك؟ فقال: يا أبي والذي “بعثني بالحق نبيا إن الحسين بن علي في السماء أكبر منه في الأرض، وإنه لمكتوب عن يمين عرش الله مصباح هدى، وسفينة نجاة
“٧- روي عن النبي (ص): “حسين مني وأنا من حسين ، أحب الله من أحب حسيناً
٨- تاريخ اليعقوبي
٩- اللهوف في قتلى الطفوف
١١- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع) في دعاء عرفة: “اِلهى تَرَدُّدى فِى الاْثارِ يُوجِبُ بُعْدَ الْمَزارِ، فَاجْمَعْنى عَلَيْكَ بِخِدْمَة تُوصِلُنى اِلَيْكَ، كَيْفَ يُسْتَدَلُّ عَلَيْكَ بِما هُوَ فى وُجُودِهِ مُفْتَقِرٌ اِلَيْكَ، اَيَكُونُ لِغَيْرِكَ مِنَ الظُّهُورِ ما لَيْسَ لَكَ، حَتّى يَكُونَ هُوَ الْمُظْهِرَ لَكَ،مَتى غِبْتَ حَتّى تَحْتاجَ اِلى دَليل يَدُلُّ عَليْكَ، وَمَتى بَعُدْتَ حَتّى تَكُونَ الاْثارُ هِىَ الَّتى تُوصِلُ اِلَيْكَ عَمِيَتْ عَيْنٌ لا تَراكَ عَلَيْها رَقيباً، وَخَسِرَتْ صَفْقَةُ عَبْد لَمْ تَجْعَلْ لَهُ مِنْ حُبِّكَ نَصيباً”
“١٢- جاء في بعض رسائل اهل الكوفة الى الأمام الحسين (ع): ” قد اينعت الثمار، واخضر الجناب، وانما تقدم على جند لك مجنّدة
١٣- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع): “وأني لم أخرج أشرا ولا بطرا ولا مفسدا ولا ظالما وإنما خرجت لطلب الاصلاح في أمة جدي صلى الله عليه وآله أريد أن آمر بالمعروف وأنهى عن المنكر، وأسير بسيرة جدي وأبي علي ابن أبي طالب عليه السلام فمن قبلني بقبول الحق فالله أولى بالحق، ومن رد علي هذا أصبر حتى يقضي الله بيني وبين القوم بالحق وهو خير الحاكمين.”
١٤- روي عن الإمام الحسين (ع) أنّه قال عند وصول خبر مقتل مسلم إبن عقيل “لقد خذلنا شيعتنا، فمن أحب منكم الانصراف فلينصرف ليس معه ذمام