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Hussein ibn Ali killed at Karbala

This Day in World History

October 10, 680 CE

Hussein ibn Ali killed at Karbala

October 10 marks a signal date in Islamic history. On that day, Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was defeated and killed at Karbala, in modern Iraq. His death cemented deep and lasting division among Muslims that persist to this day.

Hussein was the son of Ali – Muhammad’s cousin, close friend, and trusted aide – and Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter. Before his death, Muhammad had made statements praising Ali that some members of the Muslim community interpreted as naming him as his successor. When Muhammad died in 632, however, three others were chosen in turn as caliph (literally, “successor”) before Ali’s turn came in 656. Ali’s rule was marked by rebellions, and just four years after taking office, he was assassinated. As a result of his death, Shiites (from Arabic for “the party of Ali”) split from the majority Muslim community, called Sunnis.

The Shiites were restive under the rule of Ali’s successor, Muawiya. Though Hussein accepted his authority, he balked when Muawiya’s son Yazid claimed office upon the his father’s death. The Shiites of Kufa (in Iraq) threatened revolt and asked Hussein to join them. He left for the city but arrived after Sunni forces had reached the area and—unknown to Hussein—enforced allegiance. Expecting reinforcements, Hussein led his force of fewer than a hundred against an army of a few thousand. No help arrived, and he and his men (and Hussein’s youngest child) were all killed.  After the battle, their bodies were mutilated.  The debacle at Karbala gave the Shiites a martyr to idolize—and solidified their anger at the Sunni majority.

Shiites around the world commemorate Hussein’s death in the religious festival of Ashura.  Comparable in its solemnity to Yom Kippur or Good Friday in the Jewish and Christian calendars, Ashura traditionally was celebrated by processions of flagellants passing thought the streets, beating themselves to expiate for the sufferings of Imam Hussein and his tiny band of companions.   In Iran, where the population is overwhelmingly Shia, the death of Hussein—“leader of the martyrs”—is regularly commemorated in passion plays not unlike Good Friday celebrations in many parts of the Christian world.

Ashura celebration in Bangladesh. Source: Associated Press

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Recent Comments

  1. Inzemam Hussain

    Hussain was not defeated before writing get yourself some information. He was invited by the king Yaseed and then Yaseed told Hussain to tell all his followers that he Yaseed is god and preach him. But Hussain didn’t gave his hand and told him that he only believes and worships Allah swt. So the thousands of Yaseedi army fought a battle with 72 of Hussain’s family. And the Shia’s don’t show their anger to Sunnis. They wear black as a sign of sadness and they hurt themselves becuase Yazeed was one of them.

  2. Leila

    Today we take time to remember a wounderful man named Hussain. A man who fought and sacrificed his life for justice. Hussain will never be forgotten and will stay in my heart and in the heart of many.

  3. Ishrat Hussain

    rogue killers killed Hussain

  4. Aarifa Zehra

    Yazid the son of muaviyah was a tyrant who wanted to change Islamic laws as per his wish. To gain complete authority,he asked Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), grandson of prophet Muhammad to pay allegiance to him to which Imam Hussain refused. From this rejection, yazeed ordered his men to either take Imam Hussain’s allegiance forcefully or kill him. In order to let the world clearly know who & what was the reason for Imam’s martyrdom, Imam Hussain travelled from Medina to Karbala where he fought along with his 72 men against the thousands of yazeed’s army and attained martyrdom. Imam Hussain had resided in Karbala for 10 days where the yazeed’s army later on had cut down water supplies for imam and his supporters and family and hence they fought the huge army thirsty and hungry.

  5. Sajjad

    writer wrote that Imam Hussain was defeated and killed in Karbal, which is totally wrong. Imam Hussain sacrifice himself and companion, followers and family members for Islam.
    Yazeed (L) wants to change the islam as per his own wish and Hussaim ibn Ali take strong stand against his wish and in favor of islam. Imam Hussain win the battle of Karbala.

  6. Taher murtaza nasikwala

    Imam hussain was not defeated his son ali zainul abedin was alive and so on now sayedi mufaddal saifuddin is alive he was never defeated

  7. Aamir

    Imam was not defeated he sacrificed his entire family for the goodwill of humanity my suggestion to the writer is to Google Karbala and he will know who is the winner.

    And he was not going for war he was travelling with his family and kids and no one goes for war with family and kids my dear writer please be careful do some home work before publishing such statements.

  8. Atta abbas

    Yazid is a rogue,scoundrel,illegal person he killed Imam Hussain who was the grandson of our holy prophet (s.a.w) without caring about Hussain was who’s son I wish I could be in Karbala and die in the love of Imam Hussain and I wish I could be killed and then again be alive and then again be killed and I wish I would be killed 1000 times like this but I would not live hussain for ever

  9. Ali Raza

    Dear Blogger,
    First of all I demand some corrections in the above blog and else running on OUP Blog site concerning to Hussain Ibne Ali A.S.
    1-Hussain Ibne Ali A.S and their 72 loyal companions were not defeated nor Yazid ibne Mouwiya’s Army won that so called war.It was a incident of peak of brutality.
    War means fight between two groups or two forces but in Karbala Yazid’s Army was well equipped whereas Hussain Ibne Ali A.S was camping in the desert along with there family members including women,children and few male companions and all of them were not equipped as they were traveling to Kufa with family for preaching only.So the word War is baseless here simlarly don’t use Hussain A.S was killed ,he was Martyred by Yazid Ibne Mouwiya’s Army.

    If anyone needs any reference I will welcome him.

    Labaik Ya Hussain A.S

  10. Shahnawaz Bhutto

    I suppose you have no knowledge of what defeated means! Imam Hussain never pledged his support or loyalty to tyrant of his time Yazid. If Yazif and his forces were successful in killing Iman Hussain and his companions but no more anyone knows about them, they perished! But the Legacy of Hussain continues to inspire millions and millions each year. Yazid and his forces were destroyed by History! Hussain istil rules millions of hearts! So please before writing something without having an insight perspective is wrong. Victory to saviour of Humanity!

  11. Mohsin bin dilawar

    Completely agree with Inzemam hussain,, please do edit that hazrat hussain RA was not defeated he knows about it since child hood..

  12. Ghulam-e-Hussain

    The blogger must be from the lanati progeny of lanati yazeed….Lanat on you oupblogger…curse on you and your family

  13. Mohammad Meesam Raza

    Please have some corrections:
    Imam Hussain a.s was not killed or defeated. He sacrificed his progeny for Islam. Remember his name is still loved and will remain in our heart’s till our death
    But Yazid lose because no one remembers him but only curse him and his progeny may Allah burn his soul in darkest fire of hell please have some corrections.

  14. A Hanif

    It wasn’t a battle. 1 lakh equipped military one side and aged imaan Hussain with his household and sahabas and 6 months old child. And women and little daughter and neice at otherwise but a dastardly act of cowardice by yazid and still they had broken the rule of battle instead of one to one battle they sent 100 to attach each one.
    Still writer need more info to correct his wrong statement.
    Islaam was there and still is here
    Yazid was there and Hussain is still here.
    Say who stands defeated

  15. Syed Lateefuddin

    Editor I request you to remove defeated word. as Imam Hussain was with family & friends with just 72 numbers. He was gone their for a dialogue but Yazid sent 12,000 millitary to fight with Imam Hussain. Now you decide is it a war or trap. So use appropriate word, Killed or murdered Imam Hussain.

  16. Raashid Haider

    I can only hope to see peace among the Muslims. I feel some scholars are exaggerating the story only to create further differences between the sunnis & shias. May Allah guide us all and give us strength to tolerate each other. Ameen

  17. Dr. Muhammad Younus Javed

    Please keep this in mind that Hazrat Hussain didnt defeated . He was not there with purpose of war.

  18. Labaik ya Hussain

    The writer is biased and has failed to note all the facts. He has ignored who martyred Imam Hussain, he has ignored the Ghadir Khum event, he has ignored the fact that Ali was the chosen by God to rule the Islamic community. Badly written with no research and very superficial information

  19. Khurram Khurshid

    Sunni did not kill Hussain a.s, those were evil rulers of that time who were ensuring to keep the throne and masked themselves as Muslims.

  20. […] was succeeded by his two sons Hasan, who was later poisoned, and Hussein, who was also murdered. Hussein’s martyrdom is remembered each year on the Shiite Muslim holiday […]

  21. Ugaas raage

    Shii’a killed hussein because they called him from and did not defend him.

  22. Servant of Imam Ali(a.s)(kaniz of Imam Ali)

    Shia has not killed HUSSAIN ibne Ali some people get wrong information shia are the followers of Imam Hussain,The writer is biased and has failed to note all the facts. He has ignored who martyred Imam Hussain, he has ignored the Ghadir Khum event, he has ignored the fact that Ali was the chosen by God to rule the Islamic community. Badly written with no research and very superficial information

  23. Kamal Dew Simoom

    What is the death history of Yazid?

  24. […] en la glorificación chií del martirio, cuyo origen histórico se remonta al asesinato del Imán Hussein, nieto del Profeta Mahoma, de mano de sunitas en la ciudad de Karbala en el año 680, los ayatolás […]

  25. Fariha

    According to ur blog there were many mistake.. They didn,t go there for war….they were invited for dine….so plx would u properly get the full information and thn inform it to other,s…

  26. Zeeshan

    What kind of blog is this? Zero research. Imam Hussein (A.S.) was martyred along with his family. How can a man with his family and small children go to war as wrongly insinuated here? Has anyone even thought about this? Did they even read what they wrote once? They were attacked and brutally martyred. How was this published without proper facts and disregarding Truth?

  27. Ike

    He left for the city but arrived after Sunni forces had reached the area and—unknown to Hussein—enforced allegiance. Poor writing skill in these lines. Where he was, in the jungle, and he left jungle to go to city. Where Sunni forces had reached? Jungle or city? I don’t know the story and I am totally confused.

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