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tion disqualified him to cope with the chief of Damascus, to whom, after a reign of six months, he resigned the government. He then retired, intending to spend the rest of his days in quiet and devotion, but was very soon poisoned by the direction of Moawiyah, who still feared this meek and humane man.
F. What horrid people they were, Uncle!
U. 0. The deeds are horrible: but they are not peculiar to the Arabians. The same things, or things as bad, have been done in all countries, because there is no country in which men, led on to crime by ambition and envy, have not been found. Well, this Moawiyah being now the only sovereign, wished to exclude for ever the family of Ali, by making the throne hereditary in his own house. So he declared his son Yezid his successor, and got the principal Arabs to swear to be true to him before his own death. Yezid was a dissolute young man, and some of the principal chiefs refused to comply; and when his father died, the inhabitants of Kufah, where Ali and his son had reigned, determined to make an effort in behalf of Hossein, the second son of Ali, and sent to invite him to come to them, assuring him that there were 140,000 men in that part of the country who would join him as soon as he appeared near the Euphrates. So Hossein, who was a man of great spirit and courage, immediately left Mecca, in Arabia, and crossed the desert with only forty horse and one hundred foot, besides a pretty numerous train of women and children, consisting of his own family and part of his late brother's. But in the meantime the governor of Kufah got information of what was going on, and by punishing some, and gaining over others, broke up the party for Hossein in that city. So when the son of Ali arrived in the plains of Kerbelah, he found a different reception to what he had expected. He was there met and surrounded by 5000 soldiers, who had orders to bring Hossein or his head to Kufah. Finding it hopeless to make a honourable peace, Hossein and his friends determined to resist to the last. They all perished.
H. Hossein also ?
U. O. Yes. He was the last that remained alive; for his faithful friends one after another threw themselves between him and the weapons of his enemies. Among these were his five younger brothers and his eldest son. Then the son of Ali was left alone, and then his heart swelled with anguish. Weary and wounded, he sat down at the door of his tent, and offered up his supplications to God. His infant son was brought out to him, and while he pressed the little creature to his bosom; an arrow pierced it through the heart ; and immediately after the head of his nephew, a little boy, was struck off as he ran to embrace his uncle. Hossein himself was wounded in the mouth as he was moistening his lips with a drop of water, for dreadful had been the agonies of thirst which all had suffered that day. Then his enemies closed around him, when his dear sister, Zeinah, rushed from the tent, and conjured them to spare the grandson of the prophet. But Hossein himself rose, like a lion refreshed, and threw himself in the midst of the armed men around him, the boldest of whom retreated before him ; until the reproaches of their general removed their awe, when they again closed around him, and destroyed him by thirty-three wounds. The conquerors struck off his head and carried it in triumph to Kufah. It was presented to the governor, who viewed it with savage satisfaction, and struck it on the mouth with
his cane. There was an old Arab present who, when he saw that, could not refrain from crying out;—“Alas! alas ! on these lips have I seen the lips of the apostle of God!"
H. Meaning his grandfather, Mohammed ?
0, U. It is indeed. All this properly belongs to the history of Arabia ; but I have thought it best to relate it to you now, as you would not very well be able, without it, to understand the difference between the Persians and other Mohammedans.—But this will suffice for the present: at our next meeting we will consider what that difference is.
THE RELIGION OF THE PERSIANS.—THE
Uncle Oliver. The religion which the Persians received when their country was conquered by the Arabians in the time of the caliph Omar, was the same that was professed by other moslems, and so it continued until about three hundred and fifty years ago. The change took place in this manner :
There resided in Persia a family which enjoyed a great reputation for holiness, and which claimed to be descended from one Moosa, who was the seventh Imaum.
Frank. What is that?
U. O. It means a sort of pope—the head of their religion. The Persians confine this dignity to Ali and his descendants to the ninth generation, making altogether twelve Imaums. The twelfth, whom they call the Imaum Mehdee, they believe not to be dead, but only concealed;