Historical background of the Battle of Karbala | Yazid ibn Muawiyah vs Hussain | Who killed Hussain?

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The battle of Karbala is one of the most important incidents in the history of Islam. The grandson of Prophet Muhammad Muhammad was killed in this battle. The battle took place only 48 years after the death of prophet Muhammad. thousands of the companions of the prophet (The Sahabas) were alive at that time. These companions were willing to sacrifice their life for the Prophet’s family. Where were they when Hussain the grandson of Prophet Muhammad was killed? How could someone kill the prophet’s grandson, when all of his companions were alive? What happened? Why Hussain went to Karbala with his family? Who ordered the killing of Hussain? How it all started? We will look at everything in detail. Video will be in detail, so bear with us.

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After the death of Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, Abubakar became the leader of the Muslim empire. After Abubakar, Umar became the new caliph in 634 CE, and then Osman came after Umar in 644 CE. Osman was the third caliph of Muslims. There were allegations on Osman that he appointed his relatives on the prime posts instead of upholding merit. Osman was killed by a rebellious group after a siege to his house.

Historical background of the battle of Karbala
Historical background of the battle of Karbala


After Osman, Ali became the fourth caliph of the Muslim empire in 656 CE. Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Unlike the previous three caliphs, Ali shifted the headquarter of the Islamic empire to Kufa. before it was Madinah. It is a wise decision of Ali to shift the headquarter to Kufa, as the Islamic Empire has increased its spread extensively reaching the borders of Afghanistan. Kufa was in the center of the empire contrary to Madinah which is located at the left corner of the Arabian peninsula.

Read more: Sects in Islam Explained

Ali shifted headquarter from Medinah to Kufa
Ali shifted headquarter from Medinah to Kufa
 Ali shifted headquarter from Medinah to Kufa during his reign
Ali shifted headquarter from Medinah to Kufa during his reign


Muawiyah the governor of Syria was the cousin of Caliph Osman. Muawaiyah was appointed the governorship of Syria by Caliph Umar, after the death of his brother. Muwaiyah wanted Ali to take punish Osman’s murderer to death. He said he won’t pledge his allegiance to Ali until the murderers of Caliph Osman are punished. Ali was not able to punish the murderer of Osman at that time. Osman’s murderer had created such a strong monopoly that if Ali punished them, it would be difficult for Ali’s government to sustain.

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Ali vs Muwaiyah territory at the Battle of Siffin
Ali vs Muwaiyah territory at the Battle of Siffin

Ali said to muawiyah that it is not the right time to take revenge. He insisted that first, you pledge my allegiance and help me making my government strong, then we will punish the murderer of Osman. Muawiyah refused. Ali’s inability to punish the murderers of Osman and Muawiyah’s refusal to pledge allegiance eventually led Ali to a battle between Ali and Muawiyah known as the battle of Siffin in 657 CE. After that, the matter between Ali and Muawiyah was settled by arbitration. Ali was able to complete his reign until he was murdered in 661 by the same rebellious group that killed Osman.

Ali vs Muwaiyah army at the Battle of Siffin
Ali vs Muwaiyah army at the Battle of Siffin

After the death of Ali, Hassan, The son of Ali, and the grandson of the Prophet became the next caliph of Muslims. Hassan rema ined caliph for six months only and offered caliphate to muawiyah as he wanted to avoid conflict between Muslims. When Muwaiyah became the caliph, Hassan pledged his allegiance to him. Muawiyah remained caliph for 20 years. after the first 10 years, on the advice of his colleagues, muawiyah decided to appoint his successor. In 670 CE, after discussing with the ministers of the government, Muawiyah decided to appoint his son Yazid as his successor. All the companions of the prophet accepted Yazid as the successor of Muawiyah except for the five.

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Except these five all the other companions pledge allegiance to Yazid in the life of Muawiyah. These five companions were really important in order to understand the battle of Karbala. The five companions who didn’t pledge allegiance to Yazid were Abdur Rehman Bin Abubakar the son of Abubakar the first caliph of Muslims, Abdullah ibn Umar the son of the second caliph of Muslims, Abdullah ibn abbas the son of Abbas the uncle of Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah ibn Zubair the son of Zubair the cousin of Prophet Muhammad and the last and most important one Hussain ibn Ali, the son of Ali and the grandson of a prophet Muhammad.

Five Companions of Prophet who didn't pledge allegiance to Yazid
Five Companions of Prophet who didn’t pledge allegiance to Yazid

These companions believed that Yazid was not worth of caliphate. Muwaiyah did not force them to pledge allegiance to Yazid in his life. All the life companions had pledged allegiance to muawiyah, so Muwaiyah has no problem with them. Muawiyah died in 680 CE. Among the five companions who didn’t pledge allegiance to Yazid only four left. Abdur Rehman ibn Abu bakar had died. two of the five, Abdullah ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Umar decided to pledge allegiance to Yazid to avoid civil war between Muslims. These two companions were seniors and knowledgeable among the four companions who denied the allegiance of Yazid. They knew that Yazid was not worthy of the caliphate, but to avoid chaos among Muslims they pledge allegiance to Yazid.

Abdullah ibn Zubair and Hussain ibn Ali decided to resist the regime of Yazid
Abdullah ibn Zubair and Hussain ibn Ali decided to resist the regime of Yazid


The rest of the two Companions Abdullah ibn Zubair and Hussain ibn Ali decided to resist the regime of Yazid come what may. However, a difference of opinion arose between them. Abdullah ibn Zubair wanted to stay in Madinah and established a resistance movement against Yazid from there. Hussain was receiving a lot of letters from Kufa, that the people of Kufa were willing to pledge his allegiance. Kufa was the headquarter of his father Ali. so his idea was to move to Kufa, and to start a resistance movement from there against Yazid.

For that Hussain sent Muslim bin Aqeel to Kufa to check the status of people there and surprisingly more than 10,000 people pledge allegiance to Hussain. The moment Hussain came to know about this, he prepared to move to Kufa with his family members and his followers. Though the companions of the Prophet including Abdullah ibn Zubair, Abdullah ibn Omar, Hussain insisted on going to Kufa.

Hussain sent Muslim bin Aqeel to Kufa
Hussain sent Muslim bin Aqeel to Kufa

When Yazid came to know about this, he changed the governor and appointed a new governor of Kufa Ibn Ziyad. Ibn Ziyad was an aggressive ruler. Due to the brutality of Ibn Ziyad, the People of Kufa broke the pledge of allegiance to Hussain. Ibn Ziyad even killed Muslim bin Aqeel. Hussain was on his way to Kufa with his family and followers, when he came to know that Muslim bin Aqeel was killed and the People of Kufa broke the pledge. Hussain wanted to go back to Madinah, but the son of Muslim bin Aqeel insisted that we should not go back without taking revenge of my father.

Hussain met the Army of Ibn Ziyad at the ground of Karbala
Hussain met the Army of Ibn Ziyad at the ground of Karbala


Hussain met the Army of Ibn Ziyad at the ground of Karbala. Ibn Ziyad ordered his army to bring Hussain in front of him, and force him to pledge his allegiance. Hussain asked them to escort him to Yazid and said he will deal with Yazid. The people of Kufa were afraid that if Hussain went to Yazid, he will tell Yazid the truth that they were the ones who called Hussain here. So the people who are really responsible for the murder of Hussain were the people of Kufa. When the Army of Ibn Ziyad didn’t allow Hussain to met Yazid, Hussain and his follower has no other choice left other than fight. Then what happened in the battle of Karbala is known to everyone. How the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad and his followers were killed in this battle?

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