The New International Encyclopædia/Hasan and Hosein
HASAN, hä'san, and HOSEIN, hṓ-sān'. Two grandchildren of Mohammed, sons of his youngest daughter, Fatima, and Ali. After the assassination of Ali (q.v.), his adherents at Cufa recognized his eldest son Hasan as caliph, while Moawiya asserted his claim to the entire Moslem Empire, and gathered a powerful army to invade Irak. Hasan, a man of little courage, with more taste for the harem than the camp, agreed to abdicate at the first taste of war, and retired to Medina (661). He was poisoned by one of his wives eight years later. On the death of Moawiya (680) the people of Cufa made overtures to Hosein, who was then at Mecca visiting him, to claim the caliphate in opposition to Yezid, Moawiya's son. With a small force he proceeded to Irak. Yezid, well informed of the movement, had made ample preparations to receive him, and he was slain at Kerbela on the 10th of Muharram, 681. The fate of the house of Ali made a deep impression on the Moslem world. The Shiites (see Mohammedan Sects) still refuse to recognize the claims to the caliphate of any except Ali and his sons. They observe the 10th of Muharram as a day of mourning, and devote the nine preceding days of the month to the memory of the martyrs. The so-called ‘miracle play,’ a dramatic representation of the history of Hosein, is given, and the spectators become wrought up to the most extravagant expressions of sorrow, and the highest pitch of fanatical enthusiasm. In one of its forms the play lasts for the entire ten days, culminating on the last day in the representation of the death of Hosein. Consult: Muir, Annals of the Early Caliphate (London, 1883); Pelly, The Miraele Play of Hasan and Hosein, Collected from Oral Tradition (London, 1879).