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Hussein's attempt to recreate the Prophet's entry into Medinah


In 681 CE, Hussein, the second son of Ali and thus a grandson of the prophet Mohammed, challenged Yazid's right to the caliphate. Encouraged by factions that opposed Yazid I, Hussein marched to Kufa, expecting to be received with honor and enthusiasm. However, Yazid I sent a strong military force that killed Hussein and all his family on October 10, 680 the 10th of Muharram coincided with Yom Kippur. Hussein was fasting.

When trapped from reaching Kufa, he headed to Nehardea or Pumbedita to receive protection from the Rabbinites.

679 CE, 60 AH, The people of Kufah sent their letters to Imam Husain (peace be upon him) while he was in Mecca. This was in year60 A.H. in which they were asking him to come to Kufah. 680: Death of Muawiyah. Accession of Yazid. Tragedy of Kerbala and martyrdom of Hadrat Hussain. (IH)

A Mohammedan author reports a conversation that took place in the eighth century between a follower of Islam and the exilarch, in which the latter boasted; "Seventy generations have passed between me and King David, yet the Jews still recognize the prerogatives of my royal descent, and regard it as their duty to protect me; but you have slain the grandson [Ḥusain] of your prophet after one single generation" (R. E. J." viii. 122 et seq. p. 125). The son of a previous exilarch said to another Mohammedan author: "I formerly never rode by Kerbela, the place where Ḥusain was martyred, without spurring on my horse, for an old tradition said that on this spot the descendant of a prophet would be killed; only since Ḥusain has been slain there and the prophecy has thus been fulfilled do I pass leisurely by the place" (ib. p. 123). This last story indicates that the resh galuta had by that time become the subject of Mohammedan legend, other examples also being cited by Goldziher. That the personage of the exilarch was familiar to Mohammedan circles is also shown by the fact that the Rabbinite Jews were called "Jaluti," that is, those belonging to the exilarch, in contradistinction to the Karaites (ib.). In the first quarter of the eleventh century, not long before the extinction of the exilarchate, Ibn Ḥazam, a fanatic polemicist, made the following remark in regard to the dignity: "The ras al-jalut has no power whatever over the Jews or over other persons; he has merely a title, to which is attached neither authority nor prerogatives of any kind" (ib. p. 125).