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 The birth of Al Imam Husayn ibn Ali (RA)

After Al Imam Hassan ibn Ali (RA) was born; Fatima al-Zahra bint Muhammad became pregnant with her second child. Fatima started noticing the signs that childbearing was near, but Muhammad (SAW) had already foretold of Al Imam Husayn ibn Ali’s (as) birth.

On Sha`ban 3,4 H.E.Muhammad(SAW) was given news of the birth of Husayn ibn Ali. Muhammad (SAW) hurried to the house of Fatimah al-Zahra his daughter and Ali ibn Abi Talib.Saffiyah bint Abd al-Muttalib,Asma bint Umais and Umm Salama were present when Husayn ibn Ali was born.

When Muhammad (SAW) asked Safiyah bint Abd al-Muttalib to bring him the newborn child, she said: "We have not cleaned him yet.When Muhammad heard this, he said.You clean him? Surely Allah the Exalted has cleaned and purified him."

Asma bint Umais took the newborn child to him wrapped in a piece of cloth. Muhammad (SAW) took him in his arms and recited the call to prayer (Adhan) into his right ear, and read the shorter version (Iqama) in his left ear. He then placed the infant in his lap and wept.

"May my father and mother be your sacrifice", Asma bint Umais asked Muhammad(SAW) Why are you crying?

Because of my son",he replied.

He is a newborn infant",she said.

O Asma", he said,After me, the transgressing party will kill him. May Allah never grant them my intercession."

Then he said: "Asma, do not tell Fatima about this, for she has just given birth to him.

Seven days after the birth Muhammad shaved Husayn ibn Ali’s head and gave the gold equivalent of the weight of his hair as charity for him.

Ali`s caliphate and the claims of his sons

In Islamic heritage, we notice that successorship of a prophet had always been by explicit declaration by the prophet himself, like Aaron was declared the successor of Moses, by none other than Moses. Also, the successors to most of the prophets of semitic religions had been from the bloodline of the prophets. This was a tradition firmly established as the will of God. And this was perhaps, the most logical cause of confusion as to who should lead the Muslims after the demise of their prophet. However, discarding the tradition of successorship, a caliph was elected by highly regarded political figures of the earliest Muslim community.

This lead to a feeling among some Muslims that Ali, Husayn`s father was, by implication of the Islamic tradition, rightful successor of the prophet and was denied his right. However, Ali maintained that although a right of the successor, leadership of the Muslim state was not to be perceived as successorship to the prophet since Islam was meant to be faith and not state. Thus, he stood firm as the bearer of Imamate while not the bearer of caliphate nor did he pledge his allegiance to his predecessors. In 656, when Uthman, the third caliph was killed by a revolting mob, all those who rejected Ali`s claim earlier, came to him and pleaded of him to take up the position of the head of the temporal state. He was a caliph for four years and four months only, during this short period he faced continual challenges from the group of Muawiyah and other contenders. In 661 Ali was assassinated by Ibn Muljim, in the mosque of kufa.

Ali`s followers, Shia, proclaimed that his eldest son Hassan, who was the successor to Ali`s Imamate should be the caliph and the Islamic tradition must not be discarded again. Muawiyah had fought Ali for the leadership of the empire and now prepared to fight Hassan. After a few inconclusive skirmishes between the armies of Hassan and Muawiyah, Hassan reminded his followers of Ali`s position that Imamate is sufficient for successorship of the prophet and that leading the Muslim state was not a criterion. Thus, to avoid agonies of another civil war, he signed a treaty with Muawiyah and relinquished the control of what had turned into an Arabian kingdom; while not having pledged his allegiance to Muawiyah. Even after taking such a stance, Hassan was poisoned and killed in 669 by Muawiyah. This left Husayn as the head of the Alids, the successor to Hassan`s Imamate.

Muawiyah chose to proclaim his son Yazid as the heir to his throne, and the alleged leader of the Muslim state. He died in 680.in Damascus, Muawiyah`s capital and the heart of his power, Yazid was now the caliph. Having realized that unless Husayn, the grandson of the prophet and the legitimate successor to Hassan, submits to his command, his caliphate would not be deemed legitimate due to the clause in Hassan`s treaty with Muawiyah which forbade Muawiyah from appointing a successor to himself. Thus, he tried several times to force Husayn into pledging allegiance to him.

It is a fact of history that Yazid was a man of no faith as he claimed that Islam was no more than a game of the Hashimites to attain temporal power. In the face of such a claim, had the grandson of the prophet submitted to Yazid, it would conclusi