The grandson of Muhammad, Imam Hussein, refused to accept Yazid I's rule. Soon after in 680 C.E., Yazid sent thousands of Umayyad troops to lay siege to Hussein's caravan. During the Battle of Karbala, after holding off the Umayyad troops for six days, Hussein and his seventy-two companions were killed, beheaded, and their heads were sent back to the caliph in Damascus. These seventy-two included Hussein's friends and family. The more notable of these characters are Habib (Hussein's elderly friend), Abbas (Hussein's loyal brother), Akbar (Hussein's 18-year-old son), and Asghar (Hussein's six month old infant). On the night of Ashura (which is called Sham-e-Gharibaan), the army of Yazid burned the tents which Hussein's family and friends had lived in. The only occupants of the tents after the war were the women, children, of Hussein's companions along with Hussein's last ill son named Zain-Ul-Abideen (who became the next Imam after Hussein). During the raid, Yazid's forces looted, burned, and tortured the women and children. They then took the heads of the martyrs, planting them on spearheads to parade. The women's shawls and headdresses were also stripped and they were forced to march beside their men's heads all the way to Damascus. They stayed in prison there for about a year. While Imam Hussein's martydom ended the prospect of a direct challenge to the Umayyad caliphate, it also made it easier for Shiism to gain ground as a form of moral resistance to the Umayyads and their demands. There was also the Umayyad tradition of cursing Ali.
Siege of Baghdad
After the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258, prejudice against Shias became more frequent, reminiscent of blaming Shias for every problem.
Persecution under Seljuk/Ottoman Empire
In response to the growth of Shiism, the Ottoman Empire killed Shias in Anatolia. Hundreds of thousands of Shias were killed in the Ottoman Empire, including the Alevis in Turkey, the Alawis in Syria and the Shi'a of Lebanon.
In the past Shias in India faced persecution by some former Sunni rulers and Mughal Emperors, resulting in the death of Indian Shia scholars like Qazi Nurullah Shustari (also known as Shaheed-e-Thaalis, the third "Martyr") and Mirza Muhammad Kamil Dehlavi (also known as Shaheed-e- Rabay, the fourth "Martyr") Qutubuddin Shaheed, also spelled
Qutbkhan Qutbuddin, Ahmedabad, India was the 32 nd Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Musta‘lī Islam. He succeeded the 31st Dai Kasim Khan Zainuddin who are three of the five martyrs of Shia Islam. Shias also faced persecution in India in Kashmir for centuries, by the Sunni invaders of the region which resulted in the killing of many Shias and as a result most of them had to flee the region.
Shias in Kashmir in subsequent years had to pass through the most difficult period of their history. Plunder, looting and killing which came to be known as ‘Taarajs’ virtually devastated the community. History records 10 such Taarajs also known as ‘Taraj-e-Shia’ between 15th to 19th century in 1548, 1585, 1635, 1686, 1719, 1741, 1762, 1801, 1830, 1872 during which the Shia habitations were plundered, people killed, libraries burnt and their sacred sites desecrated. The community, due to their difficulties, went into the practice of Taqya in order to preserve their lives.
Villages disappeared, with community members either migrating to safety further north or dissolving in the majority faith. The persecution suffered by Shias in Kashmir during the successive foreign rules was not new for the community. Many of the standard bearers of Shia’ism, like Sa’adaat or the descendants of the Prophet Mohammad and other missionaries who played a key role in spread of the faith in Kashmir, had left their home lands forced by similar situations.
During Aurangzeb's rule, many Shia Muslims from North Karnataka had to leave their cities to save themselves. They settled in Bangalore, Mysore, Alipur, Karnataka and other southern cities.
Present day India is a secular state and adherents of Shia Islam in India are free to practice their faith freely. Additionally the day of Ashura, listed as Moharram, and the birthdate of Ali are recognized as public holidays.
However Shias Muslims in Kashmir are not allowed to practice mourning on the day of Ashura. The state government of Jammu and Kashmir has placed restrictions over Muharram processions which is seen as opposite to the right to freedom of religion that is fundamental right of Indian citizens. Every year clashes take place between the mourners and Indian guards on the eve of Karbala martyrdom anniversaries.
Most foreign slaves in Xinjiang were Shia Ismaili Mountain Tajiks of China. They were referred to by Sunni Turkic Muslims as Ghalcha, and enslaved because they were different from the Sunni Turkic inhabitants. Shia Muslims were sold as slaves in Khotan. The Muslims of Xinjiang traded Shias as slaves.