Short Biography of Imam Hossein AS
Imam Hossein AS was the second son of Imam Ali AS and Hadhrat Fatima AS. He was born in Medina, on 3rd of Sha’ban of 3rd year of Hijri (22nd of January, 625). He was 6 months and 10 days younger than his older brother, Imam Hasan AS. He lived 7 years with his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He then lived 30 years with his father, Imam Ali AS, and 10 years afterwards with his older brother, Imam Hasan AS, and became Imam in 50th year of Hijri after his brother’s murder.
His Imamat coincided with the reign of Mo’aviyeh, with whom Imam Hasan AS had signed a peace treaty. Imam Hossein also continued complying with the conditions of the treaty. The disagreements started from the time Mo’aviyeh acted against the treaty and assigned a successor, his son, Yazid, and tried to get approvals of everybody including Imam Hossein AS. Mo’aviyeh, himself, was the first to officially acknowledge Yazid’s rulership. With Mo’aviyeh’s death in 60th of hijri, Yazid became the new ruler. He then ordered Medina’s ruler to collect signatures of approval from all the prominent leaders and people in Medina, and to start from Quraysh, and Imam Hossein AS. When the ruler of Medina sent for Imam Hossein’s approval, Imam answered: “we are the progeny of the Prophet and the repository of his prophecy, and Yazid is a murderer, lewd, and a villain. The like of me will not shake hands with the like of him.”
Maoudi also says, Yazid was a boon. He kept birds, dogs, monkeys, and cheetahs. He drank a lot, and allowed drinking, dancing and frivolity to be practiced publicly. His behavior towards his citizens was described as: “Pharaoh’s treatment with people was more lenient than him and he was more just towards them.”
Imam Hossein, after seeing the turbulent condition of Medina, left there on the last two days of Rajab and headed towards Mecca. Imam describes in his will to his brother Mohammad bin Hanife, his aim in leaving Medina as: “the truth is that I did not leave Medina because of its corruption, but in order to revive my grandfather’s religion. I will command towards righteousness and prohibit from wrong doing and act upon my father and grandfather’s tradition.” Imam Hossein AS entered Mecca in 3rd of Sha’ban.
When citizens of Kufa learned about Mo’aviyeh’s death, and Imam Hussein’s disapproval of Yazid, they signed letters in support of Imam Hossein AS and invited Imam Hossein to Kufah. They wrote: “We are waiting for you, and will not sign any agreements with anyone else, except you, and will not attend Namaz-e-Jomeh under anyone else’s Imamat except you.”
Imam Hossein AS in response to their letters sent Moslem, son of Aqil, in the 15th of Ramadhan to Kufa to check out if the requests had been true and people indeed were asking for Imam’s attendance and to inform him, so that if their intentions had been real , Imam Hossein AS would also join him.
Moslem arrived at Kufa 20 days later. When his arrival was learned, about 12 thousand people came to welcome him and promise their allegiance. Moslem informed Imam Hossein of people’s reception and affirmation, and invited him to join him in Kufa if he willed so. The news of Kufa reached Yazid. Yazid displaced the ruler of Kufa, No’man-ibn-Bashir, with Obeydullah-ibn-Ziad and commanded him to kill Moslem. On the other hand, he hired assassins to kill Imam Hossein AS in Mecca.
When Imam Hossein AS learned about Yazid’s intentions, he left Mecca before finishing his pilgrimage to prevent any harms to Ka’ba and the Islamic tradition of Haj and moved towards Iraq.
Obeydullah killed Moslem and his host Hani-ibn-Orveh in Kufa with cruelty, and since he knew Imam Hossein AS was heading towards Kufa, he sent an army led by Hor-ibn-Yazid Riyahi to stop him before reaching Kufa and ordered him to stop and surround him and his league in a desert with no water and no place to hide, and Hor stopped Imam Hossein AS in a placed called Karbala. The next day Omar-ibn-Sa’ad reached Karbala with 4 thousand soldiers.
Hor conscience-stricken with what he had done to Imam Hossein repented and joined Imam Hossein’s league. Omar three days prior to Ashura (10th of Moharram) set 500 soldiers to guard Forat River and to prevent Imam Hossein’s access to water. On 9th of Moharram (Tasoo’a) Omar’s army closed around Imam Hossein’s small league, ensuring that no one could join his army anymore. In the evening of the same day the enemy intended to start the battle, but Imam Hossein sent his brother Abbas bin Ali to negotiate with them to postpone the battle to the next day.
On the 10th day of Moharram (Ashura) Omar with 30 thousand soldiers started the battle against Imam Hossein AS with a league of 72 men. When all the Ashab (soldiers who weren’t blood relatives) were martyred, Imam Hossein’s family entered the battlefield, the first of whom had been Ali Akbar (the elder Ali), Imam Hossein’s eldest son and the most resembling living person to the deceased Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Ali Akbar’s resemblance to the prophet had been so great that many of the soldiers in the enemy’s army stopped fighting, frightened that the Prophet had been resurrected. Following the cruel murder and mutilation of Ali Akbar, the rest of Imam Hossein’s family were also cruelly slayed. The enemy did not even show mercy to Imam Hossein’s six-months-old infant, Ali Asghar and killed the baby by shooting an arrow into his throat. Finally when no man was left alive, and Imam Hossein was alone, he went to battle. After a great fight, the army surrounded him, shooting him with arrows and throwing stones at him, till not a single spot left unharmed in his body. When Imam finally hit the ground, Shimr, God’s curse be on him, beheaded Imam and Omar commanded a group of his army to trample Imam’s body with their horses.