Imam Hussain (A.S.), the Chief of the Martyrs, the Grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Chief of the Youth of Paradise who saved Islam from complete destruction by his great sacrifice at the battlefield of Karbala was born in the holy city of Madinah on the 3rd day of the month of Shaban in the fourth year after the Hijrah.
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 Divine Impression reflecting the earth, was born on one of the nights of the month of Shaban (3rd Shaban). 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 Hazrat Fatimah, the only daughter and child of the Holy prophet who had as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father.
Imam Hussein, 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-Hussein, in compliance with Allah’s command.
Hasan and Hussein, the two sons of the Holy Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hazrat Fatimah, our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the ‘Leaders of the Youths of Paradise’ as stated by the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him and his progeny, had openly prophesied that the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Hussein, when Yazid, son of Muawiayh, would endeavor 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 Muawiyah could not appoint Yazid as his successor. This undertaking was given by Muawiyah to Imam Hasan from whom Muawiyah had snatched power. Muawiyah 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 practiced 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 Hussein 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 Hussein, 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 Hussein said that 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 Karbalah.
The people of Kufah getting tired of the tyrannic and satanic rule of Yazid, had written innumerable letters and sent emissaries to Imam Hussein to come over and give them guidance in faith. Although Imam Hussein 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 encourage 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 Muharram water supply to the Imam’s camp was cut and his 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 Hussein who had chosen to die with the Holy Imam, fighting against the devil for the cause of Allah.