Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made a stand against Yazid ibn Muawiyah. Yazid was a tyrannical ruler who had illegally usurped power and was violating the basic rights and dignity of the people. Yazid wanted Hussain to pay allegiance to him, to lend credibility to his own corrupt rule. However Hussain refused to do so, based on his moral values and principles, and was killed by an army of over 30,000 whilst standing with a small number of 72.
After the Battle of Karbala, the forces of Yazid took the women and children of Hussain’s family as captive. They were paraded in chains through the streets of Kufa (Iraq) and Damascus (Syria) – where they were abused by crowds until eventually presented to Yazid and placed in prison.
Though Hussain has died, his movement still continued through his sister Zainab, and son Zain Al-Abideen. Hussain’s sister and his son defied Yazid in his own courtyard through famous sermons which unnerved even his closest allies. Eventually, Yazid had no choice but to free the captives as word spread across the region of the crime he had committed against Hussain ibn Ali and his family.
It is said that the Day of Arbaeen is the day on which Hussain’s family returned to the land of Karbala, to properly bid farewell to the fallen heroes and finally grieve for their loved ones.