On the third day of the blessed month of Sha'ban, the fourth year after Hijrah and a year after the birth of Imam Hasan (A.S.), the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was given the news of the birth of Imam Husain (A.S.). He hurried to the house of Imam Ali and Fatima al-Zahra '. "O Asma '. " he ordered Asma ', the daughter of Umays , "bring me my son."
She took the newborn to him. The infant was wrapped in a piece of cloth. The face of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) lit up upon seeing his grandson. He took him in his arms. He recited the call to prayer (azan) into his right ear, and read the shorter version (iqama) in his left ear. He, then, placed the baby in his lap and wept.
"May my father and mother be your sacrifice, " Asma' asked him, " why are you crying?" "Because of my son," he replied. "He is a newborn baby," she said. "O Asma'," he said, " After me, the transgressing party will kill him. May Allah never grant them my intercession." Then he said: "Asma', do not tell Fatima about this, for she has just given birth to him."
At that moment, the revelation descended on the beloved Messenger, Muhammad (S.A.W.), with the name of the infant. Having received the divine order, the Messenger (S.A.W.) looked at Imam Ali (A.S.) and said: "Name him Hussain."
The aspect of his character
Under the supervision of his grandfather (S.A.W.), his father, and his mother, al-Zahra' ( peace be upon them all), the aspects of his characters fused together personifying the Message of Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, in thought, action and conduct.
Shu'aid bin Abdul-Rahman is reported to have said: "On the way to Taf (Battle of Karbala') a mark was seen on the back of Husain bin Ali (A.S.). Imam Zainul-Abideen (A.S.) was asked about it. "It is the trace," he replied, "of the bag, which he puts on his back carrying food to the house of the widows, orphans and the poor."
The night before the tenth of the month of Muharram, Imam Husain (A.S.) asked the Ummayad army to delay the battle till the following morning. He said: "This night we want to offer our prayers to our Lord, and we want to ask His forgiveness. He knows that I love to offer my prayers to Him, recite His Book, and pray much asking for His forgiveness."
Imam Husain Revived Islam
Whoever follows the life of Imam Husain bin Ali (A.S.) will deeply realize that his role in Islamic life started very early. While still a young man, he contributed, effectively, to the rising movement of Islam. Eminent was his role during the Imamat of father, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (A.S.) and side by side with his brother Imam Hasan (A.S.).
Imam Husain's (A.S.) role is defined by the nature of the social, ideological and political developments of his time. Indeed, Imam Husain (A.S.) faced the deviated Ummayad plot in the Islam and, also, the difficult conditions which the Ummah lived in. He (A.S.) also lived its danger proportions after the signing of the peace document between Mu'awiya and Imam Hasan (A.S.).
Since Mu'awiya decided to appoint his son, Yazid as the caliph of the Muslims after him and which is opposite to the principles of Islam and its regulations, this decision stimulated the Islamic public opinion, particularly the well-known Islamic personalities in the society. And, so, the Ummah stood at the threshold of a new stage in its history. Ahead of it there were two choices:
- Either to develop a strong rejection of the type of life being imposed on it, whatever the price.
- Or to accept the de facto life, wherein it had to give up its message, the source of its greatness and symbol of its pride among other nations.
The Uprising: Why?
If we study the life of Imam Husain (A.S.), the events he witnessed, and the circumstances which beset him, we will easily detect the fact that he had no chance whatsoever of scoring, materialistically speaking, a victory over the oppressive authorities of the Ummayads. Though he was quite sure that he would be killed, he was insisting on starting his uprising and standing his ground till the tragically inevitable end. Why did he insist so? Rather, why was the uprising?
Without Imam Husain's revolution, the way represented by the Ummayad being in all its deviations, oppression and corruption, was the one which represented Islam in the minds of mankind till the present time.
Imam Husain (A.S.), the second son of Imam Ali (A.S.), and the grandson of the holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), was a pure page of the book of Islam, and a vivid translation of its goals and concepts. That is why he first one who responded to the call of faith in his time. In order to honor his commitments to the Shar'ia, he had no other way before him other that of uprising. Without it there would be no reforms. The first communiqué of his uprising incarnated this fact with all its positive implication:
"And I am not taking up arms in order to make merry, or be ecstatic over what I possess. I am not making mischief, nor exercising oppression. But, I am ready to fight for the sole goal of seeking reform of the Ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather, and my father, Ali bin Abi Talib(A.S.) were doing."
These are the basic justifications which gave Imam Husain (A.S.) and his followers the right to start their uprising. An uprising which still echoes in the minds of the people today. It is the revolution that immortalized Islam and inspired the revolutionaries throughout the ages, to defend Islam and fight heroically in the battle of sacred jihad against the unjust and oppressors.
There was no alternative except war. Husain (A.S.) could under no circumstance surrender to Ibn Ziyad: "One like me can never give a pledge of allegiance to Yazid". He continued: "I do not wish a death for myself other than martyrdom, while life among the unjust would be unbearable".
He (A.S.) recited the words he took from the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), which he conveyed to the Ummayad army a few days earlier. He told them: "O people, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) had said:
"Whoever witnesses an unjust ruler considering the prohibitions of Allah, the Almighty, as permissible, breaking the covenant of Allah, opposing the practices of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), treating his servants sinfully and cruelly and had seen all these misdeeds but did not oppose him by words or actions, Allah surely will punish him as He wills."
Imam Husain (A.S.) stared unperturbed and strong hearted at the great army which was equipped to the teeth. Like a towering mountain, determined and unshakable, Imam Husain (A.S.) did not show the smallest sign of weakness. Never did he think of reconsidering his decision. There was no one but Allah to look to. He raised his hands in prayer:
"O Allah! It is You in Whom I trust amid all grief. You are my hope amid all violence. You are my refuge and provision in everything that happens to me. How many grievances that weaken the heart, leaving me with not means to handle them, during which friends desert me, and the enemy rejoices in it. I lay it before You and complain of it to You, because of my desire in You, You alone. You relieve me of it and remove to from me. You are the Master of all graces, and the possessor of all goodness, and the Ultimate Resort of all desires."
That was the outset of a catastrophe and tragedy which victimized the scion of prophethood and the leader of the Muslims, the grandson of the noble Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), Husain bin Ali bin Abi-Talib. The whole tragedy of the Ahlul-Bait (A.S.), and their painful suffering at the hands of their enemies was crystal incarnated in the battle of Karbala'.