In the house of the Holy Prophet, which presented the best image of both the worlds - the heaven and the earth - a child who benefited humanity as if he was a Divine Impression reflecting the earth, was born on one of the nights of the month of Sha`ban. His father was Imam Ali, the best model of kindness towards his friends and the bravest against the enemies of Islam, and his mother was Hadrat Fatimah, the only daughter and child of the Holy Prophet, who had as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father. Imam Husayn, is the third Apostolic Imam.
Hasan and Husayn, the two sons of the Holy Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hadrat Fatimah, our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the `Leaders of the Youths of Paradise' as stated by the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him and his progeny, had openly prophesied that the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Husayn, when Yazid, son of Mu'awiyah, would endeavour to destroy it.
Yazid was known for his devilish character and brutish conduct. He was known as the most licentious of men. Immediately as he came to power, Yazid began acting in full accordance with his known character. He started interfering in the fundamentals of the faith and, practiced every vice and wickedness freely with the highest degree of impunity and yet held himself out as the successor of the Holy Prophet, demanding allegiance to himself as the leading guide of the faith.
The refusal of the Holy Imam to pay allegiance to him marked the start of the persecution of the Holy Imam. As a result he had retired to Medina where he led a secluded life. Even here he was not allowed to live in peace, and was forced to seek refuge in Mecca where also he was badly harassed, and Yazid plotted to murder him in the very precincts of the great sanctuary of Ka'bah.
In order to safeguard the great sanctuary, Imam Husayn decided to leave Mecca for Kufah just a day before the hajj pilgrimage. When asked the reason for the mysterious departure from Mecca foregoing the pilgrimage which was only the next day, Imam Husayn said that he would perform this year's pilgrimage at Karbala', offering the sacrifice not of any animals, but of his kith and kin and some faithful friends. He enumerated the names of his kith and kin who would lay down their lives with him in the great sacrifice at Karbala'.
The people of Kufah, getting tired of the tyrannical and satanic rule of Yazid, had written innumerable letters and sent emissaries to Imam Husayn to come over and give them guidance in faith. Although Imam Husayn knew the ultimate end of the invitations, he as the divinely chosen Imam could not refuse to give the guidance sought for. When the Holy Imam with his entourage had reached Karbala', his horse mysteriously stopped and would not move any further. Upon this the Holy Imam declared: "This is the land, the land of sufferings and tortures." He alighted from his horse, and ordered his followers to encamp there saying: "Here shall we be martyred and our children be killed. Here shall our tents be burned and our family arrested. This is the land about which my grandfather the Holy Prophet had foretold, and his prophecy will certainly be fulfilled."
The Imam (as) would be killed in this land in the most heart-wrenching manner, leaving his family members behind to continue his quest of saving Islam and propagating it in its true form, the form which Imam Hussein's grandfather the Messenger of Allah had done.
Source: A Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibles (Ansariyan Publications)