Meaning of HUSAYN IBN 'ALI, AL- in English

born January 626, Medina, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia] died Oct. 10, 680, Karbala', Iraq Shi'ite Muslim hero, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, and son of 'Ali (the fourth Islamic caliph) and Fatima, daughter of Muhammad. He is revered by Shi'ite Muslims as the third imam (after 'Ali and Husayn's older brother, Hasan). After the assassination of their father, 'Ali, Hasan and Husayn acquiesced to the rule of the first Umayyad caliph, Mu'awiya, from whom they received pensions. Husayn, however, refused to recognize the legitimacy of Mu'awiya's son and successor, Yazid (April 680). Husayn was then invited by the townsmen of Kufah, a city with a Shi'ite majority, to come there and raise the standard of revolt against the Umayyads. After receiving some favourable indications, Husayn set out for Kufah with a small band of relatives and followers. According to traditional accounts, he met the poet al-Farazdaq on the way and was told that the hearts of the Iraqis were for him, but their swords were for the Umayyads. The governor of Iraq, on behalf of the caliph, sent 4,000 men to arrest Husayn and his small band. They trapped Husayn near the banks of the Euphrates River (October 680). When Husayn refused to surrender, he and his escort were slain, and Husayn's head was sent to Yazid in Damascus (now in Syria). In remembrance of the martyrdom of Husayn, Shi'ite Muslims observe the first 10 days of Muharram (the date of the battle according to the Islamic calendar) as days of lamentation. Revenge for Husayn's death was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine the Umayyad caliphate and gave impetus to the rise of a powerful Shi'ite movement. The details of Husayn's life are obscured by the legends that grew up surrounding his martyrdom, but his final acts appear to have been inspired by a definite ideologyto found a regime that would reinstate a true Islamic polity as opposed to what he considered the unjust rule of the Umayyads.

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