Hussain ibn ‘Ali

Hassan ibn ‘Ali
June 13, 2018
Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali
June 13, 2018

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Hussain ibn ‘Ali


This chapter speaks about another great companion and martyr. He was born in the month of Sha’ban in the fourth year of hijrah. The beloved grandson of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu ‘Abdullah, Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf al Hashimi al Qurashi.

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:


ان الحسن والحسين هما ريحانتاي من الدنيا

Verily, Hassan and Hussain are my two flowers in this world.[1]


حسين منى وأنا منه أحب الله من أحب حسينًا حسين سبط من الأسباط

Hussain is part of me and I am part of him. May Allah love those who love Hussain. Hussain is one of my grandsons.[2]


The above narrations seek to expound on the virtue of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu.


The poet says:

وبمن هما لمحمد سبطان

اكرم بفاطمة البتول وبعلها
لله در الأصل والغصنان

غصنان أصلهما بروضة أحمد

 Oh, so honoured is Fatimah and her husband; who gave Muhammad his two grandsons,

Branches that stem from the garden of Ahmed; how excellent is the tree and the branches.


The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left this worldly abode whilst Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was merely six years of age yet leaving a lasting impression on this young child. His life is enviable even by the standards of the Greats. This chapter is dedicated to his bravery and immense courage in the face of unfavourable odds, together with the active role played by him in fighting in the path of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. A significant portion of his life portrays his fearless advance in assisting the Islamic faith and raising the ultimate word of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. This passion of his stems from the desire of his grandfather, Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whose wish was to live and die for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.


والذي نفس محمد بيده لوددت أني أغزو في سبيل الله فأقتل ثم أغزو فأقتل ثم أغزو فأقتل

By him in whose hand Muhammad’s soul is, I love to fight in the way of Allah and get killed, to fight again and get killed and to fight again and get killed.[3]


Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu though preoccupied with worshiping his Creator and disseminating knowledge did not allow himself to be unmindful of his duties in fighting the enemies of Islam and breaching their strongholds to spread the religion of his Lord. Just as fulfilling the other obligations is necessary so too is fighting in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala an obligation. One of honour for a Muslim. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu left an example for us in this field as well, in persevering and fighting in Allah’s path. He fulfilled his obligations in a fashion many warriors seek to aspire to. He fought in the lands of Africa, Khurasan, and Tabrastan during the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and in the war against Constantinople during the Caliphate of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. A history of a man brave and courageous.


Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the army marching on Africa

The book Riyad al Nufus, holds the following account. The governor of Egypt, ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh writes to the then khalifah, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, seeking consent to invade Africa. Considering this ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu forwards the request to Miswar ibn Makhramah radiya Llahu ‘anhu requesting his thoughts on sending an army to Africa. Miswar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is for the idea and says so to the khalifah. The khalifah decides to then consult a panel of senior Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and base his decision on the stance they take.

He called on ‘Ali, Talhah, Zubair, ‘Abbas, and some of the other senior Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He gathered them in the Masjid and sought their counsel. They all agreed to what Miswar ibn Makhramah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had said besides Sa’id ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu who sighted the unwillingness of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his era as his reason for vetoing the march on Africa. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, however, quelled his doubts and took the decisive step to send out Muslim armies into Africa.

He then addressed the masses, exhorting them to join the army headed to Africa. The cream of the youth of the Ahlul Bayt and some of the senior Sahabah joined the army such as ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair, Abu Dhar al Ghifari,[4] ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar,[5] ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar, Hassan, and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[6] Besides these greats many others prepared to join the army as well.

This army left the land of Madinah, the earth thundering with the spirit of the warriors under the command of Harith ibn al Hakam reaching Fustat, Egypt. Once in Egypt as per the instruction of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu they payed homage to ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh appointing him as their commander in chief. The Muslim army numbering twenty thousand headed east towards Barqah (Cyrenaica) without encountering any resistance as the people of that area were with the Muslims under the rule of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Reinforcements under the banner of ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi’ al Fahri joined the army there.

The army marched on to Tunis till the legions reached the city of Tarabulus (Tripoli), expanding along the way as good number of Berbers who had accepted Islam joined them. They played an important role in the conquest of Tarabulus for the second time in the 26th year of hijrah.

The Muslims came to Africa, emancipating them from the occupation and enslavement of the loathsome Romans who had laid waste to the people by imposing ludicrous taxes and bad business models, together with degrading and oppressing them.

The commander in chief, ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh, turned his attention to Subaytilah (Sbeitla) which was under the command of a famous Byzantine general named Jarjir. Therein lay him and his army numbering a hundred and twenty thousand! ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh sent an emissary to him giving him one of three options; accept Islam, pay jizyah to the Muslim empire whilst remaining on your religion, or thirdly prepare for battle. Jarjir opted to fight the Muslims and so the severe battles began, beginning at dawn each morning until after noon. When the adhan of zuhr was given each army would retreat to their camp.

‘Abdullah ibn Zubair requested ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh to announce a reward of one hundred thousand gold coins, the hand of Byzantine Commander’s daughter, and governorship over his lands for the person who brought the head of Jarjir, which instilled dread into his heart.

‘Abdullah ibn Zubair then said to ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi al Sarh, the end of this war isn’t in sight with the enemy receiving continuous reinforcements together with having home ground advantage. Our soldiers will fatigue from the continuous fighting and we are far off from Muslim lands. I propose we fight tomorrow as normal leaving behind a legion of brave warriors to rest. At noon when both armies have tired and returned to their encampments we send in the well-rested warriors to strike terror whilst they least expect it. Perhaps Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will grant us the upper hand.

The following day the plan was enacted after the generals of the army agreed to it. A group of fierce and fearless warriors were selected for the task at hand. They blended amidst the Roman army at their camp who remained unaware of them until they launched their attack swift and precise. The Roman army, unable to coordinate a counter attack suffered many losses including Jarjir their commander who was slain at the sword of ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair.

Defeated they retreated to their fortress which the Muslim army besieged and conquered. The massive amounts of wealth retrieved from their city was unlike anything the armies had seen. The share of a mounted soldier was three thousand gold coins and the foot soldiers received one thousand gold coins each.[7]

Many Muslims took part in these battles in Africa and a large number were martyred. After the victory over the oppressive Roman occupation, Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma together with a third of the army returned to the seat of Caliphate, hearts brimming with happiness and contentment on expanding the Muslim borders and spreading the faith of the Lord of the universe.


Conquest of Tabrastan

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent an army to Tabrastan[8] during his reign of the Caliphate under the command of Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[9] The army boasted of many great personalities from the Muhajirin and Ansar such as Hassan, Hussain, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, and Hudhayfah ibn al Yaman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. They overcame the odds there and conquered the area surrounding it in the 30th year of the hijrah.

The army left Kufah halting at Qumis, the people of which held a peace treaty with the Muslims,[10] thereafter heading to Jarjan with whom they enacted a treaty of safety in lieu of two hundred thousand. The army then marched on to Tamisah,[11] a coastal city under the rule of Tabrastan. The Muslim army, unwelcome here faced tremendous odds and fought severe battles having to even perform the prayer for fear.[12] After much difficulty the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala was at hand and the Muslim army forced them to retreat into their strongholds. They laid siege to them, cornering them and reading their every move till they managed to penetrate the stronghold and conquered the city, killing the tenacious disbelievers. A victory of epic proportion.[13]

After conquering Tabrastan and its surrounds the Muslim army under their leader, Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu returned to Kufah.

Many of the historical narrations provide evidence that Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma played an important role as warriors and advisers in the conquests that took place during the era of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Courage ran through the blood of these two brothers just as it did their father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Their passion to sacrifice in the path of advancing the flag of Islam and raising the word of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala was a translation of their fervour to attain martyrdom for a unified cause. The first demand of a true leader.


Waging war on Constantinople

Let us not forget the 50th year of hijrah, wherein an advance on Europe was made by the Muslim armies. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu marched, a warrior in the army fighting with body and soul under the command of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He payed his due to the army and returned to Madinah.


The Karbala’ Incident

One could go on speaking and not tire of his bravery and courage at Karbala’. Standing with seventy-two men, daring and fearless against an army of oppressors, betrayers, and misguided souls numbering five thousand. His resolve did not weaken, nor did he languish in the face of this army stemming from Kufah. He fought as a warrior would till he was killed oppressively on the land of Karbala’. He reached his Lord a martyr. May Allah be pleased with him.

Aisha al Siddiqah and Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma relate that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to one of them:


لقد دخل علي البيت ملك لم يدخل علي قبلها فقال لي : إن ابنك هذا حسين مقتول و إن شئت أريتك من تربة الأرض التي يقتل بها قال : فأخرج تربة حمراء

An angel entered the house who had never entered before, and he said to me, “This son of yours, Hussain, will be killed, and if you wish I can show you the soil from the earth where he will be killed.” Then he took out some red soil.[14]


The incident occurred as prophesised by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred in Iraq in the 61st year of the hijrah at the hands of those who deceived him, not shying away from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and nor from his Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. And those who have wronged are going to know to what [kind of] return they will be returned. The murderers of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu assaulted and betrayed him oppressively after having surrounded him. When Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu realised the people of Kufah have gone back on their word to help and stand by his side, he requested them to allow him to either return to Madinah, join a contingent of mujahidin, or head towards Yazid in Syria. They refused to allow him any of the options and were hell bent on killing him. They fought, and he was murdered together with a significant amount the Ahlul Bayt.

After he was martyred his killer severed his blessed head from his body. When his head reached the oppressor ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, he started playing with a stick at the nose and mouth of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu and saying something about his handsome features. Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu who was present and was of advanced age began to cry uncontrollably at this sight. ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad inquired as to why he was crying so profusely upon which Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “By Allah! I will retaliate, lift your hand, I had seen the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kiss the place your hand is on.”[15] Another said,[16] “Lift your hand, I had seen Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lips kissing the same place.”

Zaid ibn Arqam radiya Llahu ‘anhu says:


I was at ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad when the head of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was brought and he began playing with a stick at the nose and mouth of Hussain’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu head and saying something about his handsome features, I had never seen teeth so perfect as Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu as though they were pearls. I could not control myself and began crying loudly which forced him to pay attention to me. I said to him, I saw Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kissing the same and saying, “O Allah I love him, so you too love him.”[17]

و كفاك اجراما و كف تاثما

ارفع يمبنك والقبيضك مجرما
فرايت سيدكم يقبل ذا الفما

اني دخلت علي الحسين بليلة

 Raise your hand and stick oppressor; you have oppressed enough and sinned,

I saw Hussain one night; and your Master kissing his mouth.


These are greats, who are martyred with swords in honour. As for the oppressors they die lonely in their beds, disgraced and cowards. He was martyred on Friday the 10th of Muharram in the 61st year at Karbala, Iraq. He was 58 years at the time of his death.

Though the assassination of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a great evil and sin, in relation to him it was goodness and honour. A murder in someone else’s fate, martyrdom in his lot. Ibn Taymiyyah writes:

Hussain and his brother are the princes of the youth in paradise and grew up when Islam was flourishing. They did not experience the early persecutions, jihad, and hijrah which the other Ahlul Bayt experienced. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala honoured them with martyrdom as a means of completing their honour and raising their status.[18]


NEXT⇒Umm Kulthum bint Ali

[1] Sahih al Bukhari, 3534; Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 3770. The wording is of the latter on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

[2] Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 3775; Sunan Ibn Majah, 144. The wording is of the latter. Others have narrated it on the authority of Ya’la ibn Murrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Al Albani has certified it as authentic, see Silsilah al Sahihah, 1228. Another narration has the following words, “Hussain is part of me and I am part of him. May Allah love those who love Hussain. Hassan and Hussain are my grandsons.” Al Albani has certified it as authentic, see, Sahih al Jami’, 5457.

[3] Sahih Muslim, 1876.

[4] Riyad al Nufus, vol. 1 pg. 8/9; Al Jihad wa al Qital li Haikal vol. 1 pg. 556.

[5] Al Bidayah wa Al Nihayah, vol. 8 pg. 59.

[6] Libya Min al Fath al Arabi Hatta Intiqal al Caliphate al Fatimiyyah, Dr Salih Mustafa pg. 41; Al Sharf wa al Tasami bi Harakah al Fath al Islami, Sallabi pg. 19.

[7] For further reading regarding the battle of Subaytilah refer to, Al Kamil fi al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 483; Al Bidayah wa Al Nihayah, vol. 8 pg. 59.

[8] A fully-fledged city with plenty of water, fruits, and tress. Entry to it is through Rayy, Tehran. See Nuzhah al Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq al Afaq, pg. 678.

[9] Before his departure the great Companion, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir left Basrah to conquer Khurasan.

[10] This was a previous treaty enacted by Hudhayfah after Nahawand.

[11] Tamisah is a city on the shores of the Caspian Sea, an endorheic basin located between Europe and Asia. Iran and Russia both border it.

[12] It is known that the Prayer of Fear is only read in the severest of battles. The leader of the army Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked Hudhayfah ibn al Yaman radiya Llahu ‘anhu regarding the specifics of this prayer and asked him how Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had performed it. After informing him, Sa’id ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu led the prayer whilst fighting. See Tarikh al Umam wa al Muluk vol. 5 pg. 57.

[13] See, Tarikh al Umam wa al Muluk vol. 5 pg. 57; Al Futuhat al Islamiyyah vol. 1 pg. 175.

[14] Musnad Imam Ahmed, 15113. Al Haythami has recorded its narrators as strong in Majma’.

[15] Al Tabarani has included this narration in al Kabir with the above-mentioned words, 2878; as well as Musnad Abu Ya’la, 3981; and Ibn ‘Adi in al Kamil, vol. 5 pg. 198. Sahih al Bukhari, 3538 has the hadith with the following words, the head of Hussain was brought to ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad and was put in a tray. Then Ibn Ziyad started playing with a stick at the nose and mouth of Hussain and saying something about his handsome features. Anas then said (to him). Hussain resembled the Prophet more than the others did Anas added. His hair was dyed with wasma (i.e. a kind of plant used as a dye).

[16] Abu Barzah al Aslami. See Tarikh Tabari vol. 3 pg. 298. Others such as Ibn ‘Asakir have narrated it from him with differing words.

[17] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 3 pg. 315; Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 1 pg. 946.

[18] Majmu’ Fatawa ibn Taymiyyah, vol. 4 pgs. 511/512.