Skip to main content

al-ḥusain b. ʿAli

al-Ḥusain b. ʿAli (626–80 (AH 4–61)). Third Shīʿa Imām, known from his death as Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ, ‘the Chief of Martyrs’. He was the son of ʿAlī and Fāṭima, and, acc. to numerous ḥadīth, was much loved by Muḥammad. During his youth, Ḥusain distinguished himself for his devotion and service to his father. He remained in the background during Muʿāwiyya's reign, but refused to acknowledge Yazīd as heir-apparent. Upon Yazīd's accession (680), he escaped from Madīna with his family and relatives to Mecca, and then headed for Kūfa to muster support for his cause. However, Ḥusain and his party were intercepted by Umayyad troops near Karbalā. They were surrounded, and cut off from access to water for ten days. On 10 Muḥarram, Ḥusain's weary supporters (92 males) gave battle against 4,000 soldiers. During the fierce engagement, Ḥusain's party was annihilated.

The Karbalā tragedy became the focus of the Shīʾa faith: Ḥusain, impelled by a desire to fulfil the demands of true Islam, had stood up against the evil Umayyads; his sacrifice was to redeem Islam, and to teach people the need of revolt against an unjust (zalim) government.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"al-ḥusain b. ʿAli." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 25 Apr. 2019 <>.

"al-ḥusain b. ʿAli." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (April 25, 2019).

"al-ḥusain b. ʿAli." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved April 25, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.