Hussain was born in 626 AD in the city of Medina, to Ali and Fatimah, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. He was born in a family renowned for their honesty, compassion, and justice. He and his brother Hassan were respected and revered as the `Leaders of the Youths of Paradise’ as stated by the Prophet (1). As a young child, Hussain witnessed the Prophet strive to guide people towards Islam and establish a morally just society. Nevertheless, about 50 years after the death of the Prophet, because of increasing deviations from his teachings, a man called Yazid son of Mu’awiya came to power. He continued the campaign of distorting the fundamentals of the faith and practised every vice freely with impunity and yet held himself out as the successor of the Prophet, demanding allegiance to himself as the leader of the faith.

Hussain knew that if he gave his allegiance to a man like Yazid, the existence of true Islam would be in danger. In a powerful sermon, he said: “I did not rise up for the cause of wickedness, amusement, corruption or oppression, but I rose up to reform the nation of my grandfather. I want to promote virtue and prevent vice.” (2)

Since Hussain did not want Yazid’s ruthless forces to attack the Holy sites of Islam, he made his way towards the East, along with his family and companions. They were forced to stop by an army of over 30,000, on the hot plains of Karbala (in present-day Iraq). Yazid’s forces cut the supply of water for Hussain’s family and companions, including women and children. In 680 AD, after three days of no water in the scorching heat, Hussain stood and fell valiantly in what is known as The Battle of Karbala. He eventually sacrificed himself on the path of his Lord, whilst defending those around him being oppressed and whilst standing for his principles.

Through this tragic end but heroic act of sacrifice, Hussain was ultimately victorious, as he revived the religion of his grandfather. Just as those who lived in the 7th century were inspired by Hussain’s stand, so are the many today who pay homage to Hussain for his stand. The story of Hussain ibn Ali stands as an inspiration to many, no matter what color or creed.

(Selected from, with modest changes)

1) Sunan ibn Majah; Vol. 1 Pg. 135
2) Manaqib; Vol. 4 Pg. 89