Husein

Husein.

For some names spelled thus, use Husayn or Hussein.

Husein

(ho͞osīn`) or

Husayn

(–sān`), c.626–680, Muslim leader, second son of AliAli
(Ali ibn Abu Talib), 598?–661, 4th caliph (656–61). The debate over his right to the caliphate caused a major split in Islam into Sunni and Shiite branches, and he is regarded by the Shiites as the first Imam, or leader: Shiite derives from the phrase
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 and FatimaFatima
, 616?–633?, daughter of Muhammad by his first wife, Khadija. Fatima was the wife of Ali, the mother of Hasan and Husein, and reputedly the ancestress of the Fatimids. She is revered by all branches of the Islamic faith and is the subject of many mysteries and legends.
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 (daughter of Muhammad). With the assassination of his father in 661 and the acquiescence of his brother HasanHasan
, c.625–c.669; son of Ali and Fatima (daughter of Muhammad the Prophet). When Ali was killed in 661, Hasan became caliph, but he was not strong enough to withstand the threat of arms of the Umayyads and under pressure abdicated in favor of Muawiya.
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, the caliphate passed out of the Alid family, although many continued to support the claims of the sons of Ali. On the death of Hasan, Husein tried to make good his own claim, but he proved irresolute in crises. Finally he did lead an insurrection, but he and his band were massacred by the UmayyadsUmayyad
, the first Islamic dynasty (661–750). Their reign witnessed the return to leadership roles of the pre-Islamic Arab elite, and the rejuvenation of tribal loyalties. The Banu Ummaya constituted the higher stratum of the pre-Islamic Meccan elite.
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 at KarbalaKarbala
, city (1987 pop. 296,705), central Iraq, at the edge of the Syrian Desert. The city's trade is in religious objects, hides, wool, and dates. Karbala is the site of the tomb of the Shiite leader Husein, who was killed in the city in 680.
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. The day of this defeat, the 10th of Muharram in 61 A.H. (Oct. 10, 680), known as Ashura, became the great holy day of the Shiites, who uphold the legitimacy of the Alid claims. They commemorate the day with an extensive mourning ritual that culminates in the performance of martyrdom plays. The tomb of Husein at Karbala, Iraq, is a holy place of pilgrimage. His name also appears as Hussein and Husain.

Husein

 

(also Husain, Husayn). Born January 626 in Medina; died Oct. 10, 680, near Karbala. Second son of Ali and Fatima; grandson of Muhammad.

After the death of Caliph Muawiyah I, Husein marched with a small detachment from Mecca to al-Kufa, the residence of the caliph’s vicegerent in Iraq. Husein hoped to seize power in the caliphate with the aid of the Iraqi Shiites; however, he was surrounded near the small town of Karbala by the forces of Caliph Yazid I, Muawiyah’s successor. Husein refused to surrender and was killed.

The Shiites regard Husein as a martyr and venerate him as the third imam, second only to Ali and Ali’s first son, Hasan. A religious drama is performed annually during the celebration of Ashurah on the anniversary of Husein’s tragic death, and the city of Karbala, where he is buried, is a site of Shiite pilgrimage.

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