Hussain ibn Ali (RA) was the second grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) born in 4th Hijri to his beloved daughter Fatima (RA) and her husband Ali (RA). Hussain (RA) and his brother Hassan (RA) were very close to the Prophet (PBUH) and he loved them dearly.
Hussain (RA) and his brother spent the early years of their lives under the shadow of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and their father Ali (RA) who were both exemplary men. Hence from an early age, Hussain (RA) was well aware of his duties as a Muslim and as a good human being – he used to go to congregational prayers and offer the daily prayers with devotion. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) trained Hussain (RA) and his brother according to the Quran and since the beginning, they were a specimen of the morals and values that Islam stands upon. Hussain (RA) used to listen to stories of wars and used to help the needy and poor just like his grandfather.
Hussain’s (RA) love for his religion was strong and unwavering. He saw the Holy Prophet (PBUH) striving for Islam and the way he handled responsibilities, hence it is no surprise that Hussain (RA) too had a passion for Islam. Even though Hussain (RA) only lived under the care of the Prophet (PBUH) and his exemplary character for only 7 years, he learned lessons that made him into the incredible Muslim and leader that he is remembered as today.
When Ali (RA) became the caliph, Hussain (RA) was always there to assist his father and to learn from him. He learned to be brave and courageous from his father and was involved in 3 battles that were fought during the caliphate of Ali (RA). In the battle of Jamal, Hussain (RA) was the commanding officer of the army, his first victory on a battlefield occurred in Siffin where Hussain (RA) and his army freed the river Euphrates. Hussain (RA) was always very active in the arena of politics and was witness to the arbitration between Muawiyah and Ali (RA).
Even when his brother Hassan (RA) took leadership after the death of Ali (RA), Hussain (RA) always supported his brother in all his decisions and endeavors. Like his brother, Hussain (RA) believed that peace was a key factor for the propagation of Islam.
Hussain – the leader
After the death of his brother, Hassan, the burden of leadership and uniting the believers fell upon the shoulders of Hussain (RA) who accepted his duties wholeheartedly. Hussain (RA) was well aware that the religion of Islam had always been based on heroism and sacrifices of kin and blood. Hence when the test of times came, Hussain (RA) was ready and willing to lead the people towards the truth and to save Islam even at the cost of his life and that of his family’s.
Muawiyah made an oath to Hassan (RA) that after his death, Hussain (RA) will be the true leader of the Muslim nation. However, when it was time to hand over responsibilities to Hussain (RA), Muawiyah chose his son Yazid as the next leader. This led to one of the biggest battles in the history of this religion. Yazid demanded that Hussain (RA) and his people pledge allegiance to him but Hussain (RA) knew that Yazid was in the wrong hence he refused. The people abandoned Hussain (RA) out of fear but he remained steadfast in his decision to defend his faith at all costs.
The trajectory of events at Karbala are known to us all: man after man was slaughtered and brutally murdered by the army of Yazid who had rendered Hussain (RA) and his followers as traitors and ordered his army to kill them all. Hussain (RA) knew of the fate that his followers, his family and even he himself were to face but he knew that he could not surrender to a tyrant. Hussain’s (RA) sacrifices kept the religion alive and thriving. Hussain (RA) was fearless, brave and steadfast.
The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said:
“These two sons of mine [Hassan and Hussain] are the leaders of youth in Paradise” (Tirmidhi 5:426:3793). And it is rightfully so that Hussain (RA) and his brother were granted this status because the sacrifices that were made by them still remain unmatched.
Hussain (RA) lost his life on the 10th of Muharram in the battlefield of Karbala but in his death, he made Islam the eternal truth for all of mankind to follow till eternity.