Hussain ibn Ali was born in 620 AD to a family famed for their values of equality, love and peace. Raised by his grandfather Muhammad (the last prophet of Islam), Hussain was known for his integrity, generosity of spirit and blindness to colour and social class. It was for this reason that people flocked to him and his family.
Despite cultural expectations of him as a ‘prince’ of his tribe and a prominent figure in the Islamic Empire, Hussain would shun the grandeur of his status in favour of breaking bread with the poor and needy. He broke all cultural moulds, brought people together and helped where he could. A celebrated example was when he and his brother Hassan cared tirelessly for a poor blind man they came upon in their city, in spite of traditional social expectations.
Not long after the passing of Muhammad, the leadership of the vast Islamic Empire had fallen into the hands of the corrupt. The good values that Muhammad had spent his life instilling into society was slowly eradicated as the new ruler, Yazid, from the Ummayad dynasty was determined to gain complete control.
Hussain witnessed the fundamental human rights of his fellow citizens being usurped and the morality from his society being drained under Yazid’s rule. He knew something had to be done.
Yazid ruled with an iron fist and demanded Hussain pay him an oath of allegiance, to lend credibility to his rule or be killed. It was here Hussain faced his dilemma… Should he give his oath of allegiance to a tyrant – and stand aside as the people around him were being oppressed? Or should he make a stand and risk great personal loss?
The timeless words of his grandfather Muhammad echoed in his heart, and Hussain knew what he had to do: “The greatest stand is to speak the word of truth in the face of a tyrant.”
Hussain chose to take a stand against Yazid and was forced to leave his home city under the threat of assassination by Yazid’s men. Alongwith his family and loyal companions, Hussain made his way towards the East in an attempt to avoid any violence. It was on this journey Hussain, his family and companions were forced to stop by an army of over 30,000, on the hot plains of a land called Karbala.
Hussain chose to take what was the macrocosm of his life and demonstrate it in a single act of extraordinary devotion. In 680 AD, after three days of no water and food in the scorching heat on the deserts of modern day Iraq, Hussain stood and fell valiantly to defend those around him being oppressed and whilst standing for his principles. What’s all the more extraordinary is Hussain chose to stand against this mammoth army despite having only 72 companions with him. Read more of the story here.
Through this tragic end but heroic act of sacrifice, Hussain inspired millions around the world. His legacy is that despite being killed for what he stood for, ultimately he was victorious as his death became the catalyst for changes and led to the collapse of Yazid’s tyrannic rule.
From people who volunteer at their local charities to civil rights leaders like Gandhi, millions of people across the world are inspired by his selflessness, courage and determination. The story of Hussain ibn Ali stands as an inspiration to all, no matter what colour or creed.
This campaign is simply that; not about personal beliefs or social class. It is about our collective humanity, our common causes towards goodness, and the prospect of the beautiful world that’s within our grasp, if each of us were to give back what little we can.