Martyrdom (Shadat) in the way of Allah is the greatest blessings bestowed upon mankind by Allah which only fortunate persons and believers achieve. The Holy Quran says about the spirit of martyrdom (Shadat):
"Who so obeyth Allah and the Messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints and martyrs and the righteous. The best company are they!" (Surah-Nisa-V-69)
Hazrat Mu'awaiyah (RA) was succeeded by his son Yazeed. He instructed all the Governors of all the provinces to obtain from people the oath of allegiance to him. In Madinah, the Governor obtained the oath from all the people but Imam Hussain (RA) and Abdullah bin Zubair did not take oath of allegiance, and left Makkah. Their principle was that Caliphate could not be converted into hereditary monarchy and protested that Yazeed was not eligible for Caliphate. At Makkah, Hussain (RA) received an invitation from the people of Kufa to the effect that he should come to Kufa as they would support his Caliphate. Most of the well-wishers of Hussain (RA) advised him that the invitation should not be accepted and the people of that place could not be relied upon. But Abdullah bin Zubair gave a contrary advice and pleaded that the people of Kufa were repenting for the betrayal which they had done with Hazrat Ali (RA). On receiving the report, Hussain (RA) decided to proceed to Kufa in the company of about a hundred persons, including children and ladies. When the party reached Zibla, a midway station, the information was received that all had been lost. The people who had come out in support of the party were ruthlessly crushed and the movement was in favour of Hussain (RA) was suppressed, and within days the people were made to submit, and they denied support to Imam Hussain (RA).
The predicament for Hussain (RA) was whether in view of the changed circumstances he should proceed to Kufa, or he should return to Makkah. And the people began to change their stances and the Bedouins who had accompanied Hussain (RA) also parted company. But after the murder of Aqil other leaders of the Hussaini movement were hunted and killed, the family members of Hussain (RA) insisted that whatever the odds, the movement must continue and they should proceed to Kufa. The party stayed for some time at the wayside station Sharaf. When they moved from Sharaf across the stony rolling plain, they witnessed the forces of Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, (Yazeeds Governor), moving towards them. In order to avoid the encounter with the Umayyad forces, the Imam (RA) and his party turned westward to the plain of Karbala. The Umayyad forces led by Amr b Sa'd chased the party to Karbala, and on encounter asked Hazrat Hussain (RA) to surrender. In the negotiations, Hussain (RA) placed three proposals before the enemy forces. First, that he should be allowed to go back to Makkah or Madinah, second, he be allowed to see Yazeed in Damascus and third, he should be allowed to move anywhere to defend the borders of the Muslim state.
Amr reported these proposals to Ubaidullah who rejected all these proposals and asked Hussain (RA) to surrender and accept Yazeed as the Caliph, unconditionally. Hussain (RA) refused to surrender before the evil and anti-Islamic rule of Yazeed. On the 10th of Moharram, the enemy troops martyred Hussain (RA), his dear ones and his companions. All the male members of his family met martyrdom and the lone survival was that of his son Ali, who could not participate in the Jihad at Karbala due to fever and he later came to be known as Zain-ul-Abidin.
The Shadat of Hussain (RA) guides us that not monarchy but the choice of people must prevail in making a rule and the rule must make Islam as way of life and the basis of its governance. The martyrdom at Karbala teaches us that we should be practical in life and remain firm what our Prophet (SAW) and the Holy Quran teache us. We should not surrender before evil rulers and the wrongdoers who try to damage the spirit of Islam. And in order to keep this spirit alive, we should be ready to sacrifice everything in our lives. This Shadat also gives us the message of peace and unity on the basis of our one Quran, one Prophet (SAW) and one religion.