On the third of Sha'ban in the year 4 A.H. (1) the city of Medina witnessed the birth of a boy in the house of Lady Fatimah (PBUH) and Imam Ali (PBUH); he was later nicknamed the "Master of Martyrs." This newly born baby was the second son of a family whom the Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) saluted by the name of "Ahl al-Bayt" (people of the house of the Prophet). They were referred to as Ahl al-Bayt after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) received the verse of Tat'hir (Purification) (The Holy Quran, 33:33). His mother was Lady Fatimah (PBUH), one of the greatest women in history, whose deep knowing, morality, purity, and other great characteristics are well known to all, a mother whose rank and status is described by the Holy Quran in a whole chapter.
His father, Imam Ali (PBUH), hugged his newborn second son in his arms. Imam Ali (PBUH) was the first person who became Muslim, most knowledgeable in religion, and most eloquent in the Arab language. As his exceptional record of self-sacrifice and courage in defending the religion of Allah (SWT) was passed down with the rise and expansion of Islam. He was the one whom Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) constantly announced as his successor by the command of Allah (SWT).
On such an auspicious day, Imam Ali (PBUH) took his son to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), as was the custom of respect, in order for a name to be chosen for his newborn son, just as he had done for his first son. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) named him ?Hussain? by the order of Allah (SWT). Hussain is the Arabic equivalent of Shubayr in Hebrew. Shubayr was the name of the second son of Haroun/Aaron, the successor of Musa/Moses (PBUH).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) once informed Imam Ali (PBUH) about the similarity found between Muhammad and Musa, Ali and Haroun, Shubbar and Hassan, Shubayr and Hussain: "O Ali, your status with respect to mine is equivalent to the status of Haroun with respect to Musa, except there will be no prophet after me."
Hussain (PBUH) spent his childhood with Lady Fatimah (PBUH), Imam Ali (PBUH), and especially with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The love and affection Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had towards Hussain (PBUH) was so unique that all the companions were aware of it, had frequently seen its manifestation, and had heard of it repeatedly. Moreover, historians have recorded incidents and narrations in this respect. In one account it has been said that the Prophet's prostration took longer than usual in his prayer. People came to the Prophet and asked, "Were you receiving a revelation or order from Allah during prostration?" Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) replied, "No, my son Hussain had climbed onto my back; I waited until he wished to come down." This is an example showing how the best creature of Allah (SWT) treated Hussain (PBUH) while he was in the best state of worship.
The companions had seen Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) repeatedly put Hassan and Hussain (PBUT) on his shoulders and play with them. At other times he would kiss Hussain (PBUH) and say, "Hussain is from me, and I am from Hussain. May Allah love him who loves Hussain." In other traditions the Prophet would say, "Hassan and Hussain (PBUT) are my two aromatic flowers from this world."
Nonetheless, most people knew that the Prophet's love for his two grandchildren, especially for Hussain (PBUH) was not a usual love of a grandfather for his grandchild. According to the Holy Quran, the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) actions and words are apart from his desires: "Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow ..." (The Holy Quran, 33:21) On the other hand, although Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had other adopted daughters and a son, the specific affection and recommendations were only shown towards Hassan and Hussain (PBUT).
Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) recommendations and affections for Hussain (PBUH) were in fact portraying an important fact. He would repeatedly inform people that salvation and prosperity can only be found through the friendship and love of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Umar Ibn Khattab narrates from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): "Hassan and Hussain are masters of the youth in heaven. Whosoever loves them has loved me, and whosoever has animosity with them, is my enemy." In another account the Holy Prophet has also said, "You came to awareness by me; you found the right path and were guided by Ali; you were given blessings through Hassan; but your eternal salvation is with Hussain. Be aware that Hussain is a door from the doors of heaven. Whosoever has animosity towards him can never enter heaven."
Imam Hussain (PBUH) was still a child when several verses of the Holy Quran were revealed either about or referring to him. One of those verses is referred to as the verse of Mubahilah (3:61). On the day of Mubahilah when a spiritual contest between Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and the Christians of Najran was set up to invoke the curse of Allah (SWT) on the liars, Hussain (PBUH) and his family were the only ones accompanying the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had orders from Almighty Allah (SWT) through the verse of Mubahilah to take Hassan and Hussain (PBUT) as his children with him.
Hussain (PBUH) was one of the five people in regards to whom the verse of Tat'hir (Purification) was revealed. He, his father, brother, and mother were under the Prophet's cloak when Allah (SWT) revealed to His Messenger: "Verily Allah desires to remove all kinds of uncleanness from only you, O Ahl al-Bayt (people of the house), and to definitely purify you." (The Holy Quran, 33:33) This verse of the Holy Quran is clear proof of the infallibility of this family and their separation from all sins and mistakes.
In another verse, Allah (SWT) commands all Muslims to love those closely related to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): "Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives?" (The Holy Quran, 42:32). When the companions asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) who these "near relatives" were, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) replied: "They are Ali, Fatimah and their two children."
Unfortunately, the sweet years of Hussain's childhood were soon over. He was about seven years old when the Prophet departed from this world, after having said his final words about his Ahl al-Bayt. Alas the Islamic world mourned.
The Prophet's burial ceremony was not over yet, when the conspiracies were applied to rob the caliphate. People ignored all the numerous commandments and recommendations the Holy Prophet had made in regards to his successor. The great event of Ghadir had been veiled by negligence and disregard, and despite Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) frequent emphasis on Ali (PBUH) as his successor, his right for Islamic governorship was usurped. Even Fadak, a fertile land given by the Prophet to his daughter, was seized from the Prophet's progeny by the government. The Prophet's basil witnessed the harms and injuries caused upon his mother over the conflicts of allegiance, and as a result, lost his mother at the age of eight because of the crisis. The loss of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Imam Hussain?s (PBUH) mother on the one hand, and the oppression upon Imam Hussain?s (PBUH) father on the other hand, in addition to the pressures he faced from the government, were bothering Hussain's (PBUH) clean soul. This period coincided with the three caliphates' era.
During this time Hussain (PBUH), as a Muslim and a follower, followed the path of Ali (PBUH) and was determined to defend truth with any opportunity he received, even though he was in his youth. He would warn people about the alterations made to Islam after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). In the best of manners Hussain (PBUH), his father, and brother would express their objection to the alterations rulers of their time had made to the religion. In one of the cases for example, the third Caliph had exiled Abu Dhar, a close companion of the Prophet, for the ?wrongdoing? of expressing his complaints about the Caliph's deviation from the path of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Although the Caliph had banned all from bidding farewell to Abu Dhar, Imam Ali, Hassan, and Hussain (PBUT) all went to bid their farewells to Abu Dhar to express their objection. Upon departing, Hussain (PBUH) turned to Abu Dhar and said,
"Dear Uncle, the Almighty Lord is powerful and able. He can change everything that has happened to you. These people seized your comfort, world, and life. Yet, you protected your religion from their deviations; truly you are not in need of this world and the people dependant upon this world. Their world has no value in your eyes, even though they are in great need of your way in life. Strengthen your heart and refrain from greediness and lowliness. Do not fear, and seek refuge in Allah, for perseverance is a sign of faithfulness and greatness."
Hussain (PBUH) supporter of father
Hussain (PBUH) was about 32 when authority over Muslims was handed back to its rightful owner, as people paid their allegiance to Ali (PBUH). After some time, Imam Ali (PBUH) migrated to Kufah with his sons, and therein established the new capital of the Islamic government. During the span of his father's rule, Hussain (PBUH) was a true supporter and close assistant to his Imam and father in all political and military stages. He showed his utmost respect to his father and remained obedient to his commands at all times.
Hussain (PBUH) was trained and raised by the greatest defender of Islam; he had learned courage and bravery from his father; and he was seriously involved in the three wars during his father's Caliphate. In the battle of Jamal, Hussain (PBUH) was responsible for commanding the left side of the army of Amir al-Mu'minin (PBUH). He also achieved the first victory for the army of Ali (PBUH) in the battle of Siffin, where he and his companions freed the Furat (Euphrates) River.(2) Moreover, his role as a witness in the Hakamiyah arbitration between Muawiyah and his father, Imam Ali (PBUH), is clear proof of his active participation in the society.
Hussain (PBUH) a follower of his brother
After the martyrdom of Amir al-Mu'minin (PBUH), Imam Hassan (PBUH), by the will of Allah (SWT) and the recommendations of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), became the Imam and leader of the Muslims. He took responsibility in leading the Islamic society and in preaching the religion of Allah (SWT).
As in the case of his father, Hussain (PBUH), like a true follower, continued to obey and respect his brother, while remaining firmly obedient in even the smallest matters. His manners and obedience towards his brother was so exemplary that historians have acknowledged and recorded many of the cases. In one example, they have recorded a narration from Imam Baqir (PBUH) as follows: "Due to the high respect that Imam Hussain (PBUH) held for his brother, he refrained from walking ahead of or talking before his brother, Imam Hassan (PBUH)."
As mentioned, Hussain (PBUH) was always in a state of obedience and support to Imam Hassan?s (PBUH) actions in political and social matters, especially concerning peace treaty with Mu'awiyah. Despite the unfaithfulness of all Muslims towards Imam Hassan (PBUH), Hussain, the son of Ali (PBUT), a known character in the world of Islam, defended Imam Hassan's (PBUH) decision on the peace treaty. Imam Hussain (PBUH) believed peace was the key factor in Islam's maintenance.
After the peace treaty, Hussain (PBUH) and his brother moved from Kufah to Medina, their birth place and city, in which the Prophet's shrine was built. In Medina, they continued to educate, enlighten, interpret, and explain the commandments of Allah (SWT) to the people. Not long after, however, Imam Hassan (PBUH) was poisoned and martyred by the order of Mu'awiyah. As Imam Hassan (PBUH) departed this world, the divine position of Imamate was once again passed to the most deserving. His brother Hussain (PBUH) became the next Imam in Islam.