Name : Ali (a.s.) – the 4th Holy Imam
Title : Zain-al-Abideen, Syed as-Sajideen, Sajjad
Agnomen : Abu-Mohammad
Father : Imam Hussain(a.s.) – the 3rd Holy Imam
Mother : Bibi Shahr Bano
Birth : At Madina on 15th of Jamadi-al-Awwal 38 AH (658 AD)
Death : In Madina at age 57, on 25th of Moharram 95 AH (713 AD)
Cause of Death/Burial : Martyred by means of poison and buried in the cemetry of Baqi in Madina.
The 4th Imam after Imam Hussain(a.s.) was his son Imam Ali Zain-al-Abideen(a.s.). His mother was Bibi Shahar Bano who was a princess from Persia, the daughter of the Kind Yazd Gard II. She was brought as a prisoner of war during the caliphate period of mam Ali(a.s.) during 31 A.H. and Imam Ali(a.s.) got her freed and married her to Imam Hussain(a.s.). Imam Zain-al-Abideen was born from this wedlock. She, however, died within 10 days of the birth of Imam Sajjad(a.s.).
His title Zain-al-Abideen was granted to him by the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) himself who mentioned that on the day of judgement a call for Zain-al-Abideen will be made and my son Ali bin al-Hussain(a.s.) will responde to the call saying “Labbaik”. His other Title, Syed-us-Sajideen, was given because of his devotion to prayers. He would pray for long durations specially during the nights and would pray a lot of prayers of gratitude – Namaz-e-Shukrana.
Imam Sajjad(a.s.) spent the first 2 years of his life under the care of his grandfater Imam Ali(a.s.) and after his death in 50 A.H., he was brought up under the care of the 2nd Imam Hasan(a.s.). Imam Sajjad(a.s.) was married to the Bibi Fatima(a.s.) – daughter of Imam Hasan(a.s.). Imam Hasan(a.s.) was martyred in 50 A.H. and the Imamate of Imam Hussain(a.s.) started which terminated on 10th Moharram 61 A.H. from where the Imamate of Imam Sajjad(a.s.) began.
Period of Imamate and events of Karbala
Imam Sajjad(a.s.) was about 22 or 23 years old when the sad event of Karbala occured. Since Allah(swt) mentions in his holy Book that this world cannot survive for a moment if there is no Masoom “Imam” present at all times, Allah(swt) arranged it such that Imam Sajjad(a.s.) became severly ill during that battle and could not participate as a warrior. He asked the permission to fight in the battle but Imam Hussain(a.s.) told him that he had been assigned a different type of “Jihad” that was to start after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain(a.s.) – namely leading the women and children of the household of Prophet Mohammad(pbuh&hf) into the bazars and courts of Kufa and Damascus. Imam Sajjad(a.s.) was made a prisoner of war together with the whole family of the Prophet Mohammad(pbuh&hf). It was at this time that he was given the responsibility of Imamate and his was one of the most difficult times when any Imam was given this responsibility. Truly speaking, for him, it would have been very easy to die on the battle field as a martyr than to be taken as prisoner of war and see all the insult and humiliations thrown on him and on the womenfolk of the house of the Prophet. However, he did what Allah wished him to do
After the martyrdom of Imam Hussain(a.s.), the survival of Islam depended on Imam Zainul Abideen(a.s.), and that also at a tender age of 22. He had a very hard job of letting the world know the mission of Imam Hussain(a.s.) and exposing the evil intentions of Yazid and the Bani Umayyah. He had to keep the message of Islam alive and save it from being confused by the evil Bani Umayyah.
The army of Yazid treated him very badly by putting him in heavy chains. As a prisoner of war, he was made to travel on the open back of a camel in burning sunshine from Kerbala to Kufa and then from Kufa to Shaam (Damascus) – a distance of about 750 kilometres. Sometimes, he would be made to walk on the burning sands of the desert. This was not all. Women and children of the family of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh&hf), too, were hand-cuffed and treated like they were slaves. The daughters of Imam Ali(a.s.) and Bibi Fatima(s.a.) were treated worse than criminals, their Hijabs were taken away from them. A caller accompanied them introducing them to the passersbys as “Those who had disobeyed the Muslim ruler, Yazid”. They were then presented as prisoners, first to Ibn-e-Ziyad in Kufa and then to Yazid in Damascus.
In the courts of Ibn-e-Ziyad and Yazid, Imam Sajjad(a.s.) gave lion-hearted lectures and presented the true Islam to the listeners and introduced himself and his accompanying members as the descendents of the Prophet Mohammad(pbuh&hf) and the leaders appointed by Allah(swt). His lectures had such an impact on the listeners that despite several attempts to kill him inside the court of both Yazid and Ibn-e-Ziyad could not materialize. Bibi Zainab(s.a.) and other women of the household of Prophet Mohammad(pbuh&hf) became the frontline protectors and were backed by the people in the court of Yazid who had still left some shame in them.
To quote one incidence, Yazid asked one of his employed preachersto go on the ‘Mimber’ (pulpit) of the Mosque and abused Imam Ali(a.s.) and his family. When the preacher finished his lecture, Imam Sajjad(a.s.) turned to him and said, “Be ashamed of yourself, you evil speaker. With your words you have displeased Allah so as to please people”. Then the Imam(a.s.) asked Yazid to let him talk to the people. Yazid refused to do so. The people of Syria, however, forced Yazid to allow the Imam to go on the Mimber.
Once on the Mimber, Imam Zain al-Abideen(a.s.) first praised Allah(swt) and His Messenger(pbuh&hf). After that the Imam gave along and very powerful speech letting the Syrians know the great position of Imam Husain(a.s.) to Allah(swt), and how evil Yazid and his family were. Part of the speech is summarised below:
“O listeners Allah has given us (Ahle Bart) six things which no one else has. He has given us special Wisdom, Patience, Dignity, Power of speech, Courage and Respect. He gave us special benefit of belonging to the family of his Prophet. To us belong Hamza and Jafar. To us belong Asadullah (The lion of Allah, Imam Ali(a.s.)). To us belong the leader of the youths of paradise (Imam Hassan(a.s.) and Imam Hussain(a.s.)).
“Those who know me, know me. Those who do not, then know that I am the son of Mecca and Mina. I am the son of Zamzam and Safa. I am the son of he who gave Zakat to the poor. I am the son of the best of those who have ever put on Ihram and performed ceremonies of Hajj. I am the son of he who was taken on the night journey from house of Allah to the Mosque of Aqsa and then to Miraj. I am the son of he who was taken around by Gibrael to the Lote-tree of the boundary (Sidratul Muntaha).
“I am the son of Muhammad Mustafa(pbuh&hf). I am the son of Ali Al-Murtaza(a.s.) who fought the polytheists in the battle till they submitted to Islam and fought in the presence of the Prophet until his sword was broken and to whom Zulfikar was given. I am the son of he who had the honour to migrate twice in Islam. I am the son of Fatima the best women of the world…”.
The effect of the speech was so powerful that everybody in the Mosque began to weep and to blame Yazid. Yazid was afraid that if the Imam continued his speech, there would be a revolution and revolt. At the same time Yazid could not stop the Imam and get him down from the Mimber. He therefore ordered a “Muazzin” to give Azan, knowing that this would automatically cut the Imam’s speech. But he underestimated the Imam’s bravery and intelligence. The Imam stopped his speech but did not get down from the Mimber. When the Muazzin said ” Allahu Akber” the Imam testified Allah’s greatness. When the Muazzin said, “Ash hadu anna Muhammaddan Rasulullah”, the Imam stopped the Muazzin from going any further. He then turned to Yezid and asked him. “Tell me o Yazid, was Muhammad(pbuh&hf) your grandfather or mine? If you say he was your grandfather it will be an open lie and if you say he was my grandfather then why have you killed his son and imprisoned his family? Why have you killed my father and brought his women and children to this city as prisoners?”
Yazid had no reply to give.
The effect of this was to turn Syrians against Yazid. Everyone of them now found out about Yazid’s crimes that he had committed against the Prophet (pbuh&hf) and his family. They began to blame him and ask for the release of Imam Zain al-Abidin(a.s.) and the womenfolk of the house of the Prophet. Yazid was now afraid that if he did not act fast his rulership would be lost. He therefore freed Imam Zain al-Abidin(a.s.) and let. him return to Medina with full honour and respect.
His Life in Madina
Yazid had to free the Imam(a.s.) out of fear of his own rulership, therefore, Imam(a.s.) was still not completely safe from his evil designs even upon reaching back to Madina. Once in Madina, Imam(a.s.) gathered the people and told them the horrifying stories of Karbala and informed them that his father Imam Hussain(a.s.) and his companions were martyred and his family members were made prisoners and were taken from one city to another and branded as traitors.
Imam Sajjad(a.s.) started regular mourning session right from the day he arrived in Madina and apprised the people of the hard times that the family of the Prophet(pbuh&hf) had to to through. Day in and day out, people used to go to Imam(a.s.) and present condolence and hear the events of Karbala. Once a visitor named Noman came to Imam(a.s.) and asked him which was the most difficult time he had to face and the Imam(a.s.) cried for a long time and three times said “AS-SHAAM AS-SHAAM AS-SHAAM”. Another visitor asked him as to how long would he continue mourning and crying and he replied that Prophet Ayub(a.s.) had 12 sons and only one of them got lost and he know that he was still alive but he continued crying until his eyes became white and his back got bent – I had seen 17 members of my family being slaughtered around me like sheep and you ask me as to how long I would continue mourning.
Another task that Imam Sajjad(a.s.) did after coming back from Syria was that he started praying and saying supplications with full devotion. His devotion was so strong and felt by his companions and visitors that they started collection his supplications which still exist by the name of SAHIFA-E-KAMILA. It is also know as SAHIFA-E-SAJJADIA. It consists of 54 Duas, 14 additional duas and 15 Munajaat. In addition to the SAHIFA there are several other supplications of the Imam(a.s.) which appear under different cover names.
Martyrdom of Imam Zayn al-Abidin(A.S.)
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, became old and weak. This is because he exhausted himself by hard worship and obedience to Allah. The historians unanimously agreed that the Imam passed most his lifetime fasting by day and standing in prayer by night. Meanwhile, he remembered the tragedy of Karbala`’. When he looked at his aunts and his sisters, he remembered their escape from one tent to another, and the caller of the people called out: “Burn the houses of the wrongdoers!” These memories saddened him very much and affected his body.
The Imam is given Poisoned
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin enjoyed great popularity. The people spoke with admiration about his knowledge, his jurisprudence, and his acts of worship. The assemblies admired his patience and all his other qualities. The Imam occupied the hearts and feelings of the people. Hence blessed was he who saw him, met him, and listened to his words.
This situation frightened the Umayyads, especially as it concerns al-Walid b. ‘Abd al-Malik, who was the most spiteful toward the Imam.
Al-Zuhri reported on the authority of al-Walid b. ‘Abd al-Malik, who said: “I cannot have a rest as long as ‘Ali b. al-Husayn is in this world!(Haya`t al-Imam Mohammed al-Ba`qir, vol. 1, p. 51).
When al-Walid became king, he decided to assassinate the Imam. He sent poison to his governor of Medina, and ordered him to mix the poison (with liquid) and give it to the Imam to drink.(Al-Itha`f bi Hub al-Ashra`f, p. 52. Al-Sawa`’iq al-Muhriqa, p. 53).
The poison reacted on the Imam’s body, and he suffered severe pain. The Imam remained on the bed of illness for some days. He complained to Allah of this and asked Him for forgiveness and good pleasure. The people crowded to visit him, and he, peace be on him, praised and lauded Allah for providing him with martyrdom at the hand of the most wicked creature.
His Designation of al-Baqir for the Imamate
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, entrusted the Imamate to his son al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, who was the pioneer of the cultural, scientific movement in Islam.
Al-Zuhri said: “I visited ‘Ali b. al-Husayn and asked him: If Allah’s inevitable command comes, whom shall we follow after you?”
The Imam gently looked at him and replied: “(Follow) this son of mine (pointing to his son Mohammed al-Ba`qir), for he is my testamentary trustee, my inheritor, the box of my knowledge, the origin of knowledge, and the one who will split knowledge open.”
“Why have you not appointed your most obedient son as your testamentary trustee?” asked al-Zuhri.
Al-Zuhri did not understand the affair of the Imamate. He thought that it was based on the tribal customs.
“O Aba` ‘Abd Allah, the Imamate is not based on oldness and youngness. In this manner, Allah’ Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, entrusted (the Imamate) to us, and in this manner we have found it in the tablet (lawh) and the parchment (sahifa),” answered the Imam.
Demanding more information, al-Zuhri asked: “O Son of Allah’s Apostle, did your Prophet appoint you as testamentary trustees after him?”
“We have found twelve names in the parchment and the tablet.
Their Imamate, the names of their fathers, and of their mothers have been written in the tablet,” replied the Imam, “and seven testamentary trustees will come out of the loins of my son Mohammed. Al-Mahdi will be one of them.”
(Al-Khazza`z, Kifa`yat al-Athar. Ithba`t al-Huda`t, vol. 5, p. 264).
Some Shi’ites visited the Imam, and he nominated his son Mohammed al-Ba`qir before them, and ordered them to follow him. Then he gave him a document and a box in which were the inheritances of the prophets, the weapon and books of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family.
(Basa`’ir al-Daraja`t, p. 146. Ithba`t al-Huda`t, vol. 5, p. 268).
His Commandments to his Son al-Ba`qir
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, entrusted his commandments to his son Imam Mohammed al-Ba`qir, peace be on him. The following is some of his commandments to him:
1. He commanded him (to take care of ) his she-camel. He said to him: “I performed the hajj on this she-camel of mine twenty times, yet I did not whip it. When it dies, bury it. Let not the beasts eat its meat, for Allah’s Messengers, may Allah bless him and his family, said: ‘If a camel stops seven times at ‘Arafa, Allah will place it among the favors of the Garden, and bless its offspring.(Al-Barqi, Maha`sin, vol. 2, p. 635).
Imam al-Ba`qir carried out these commandments of his father.
2. The Imam gave to his son this commandment, which displays the brilliant sides of the qualities of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them. He said to him: “O my little son, I will command you with what my father commanded me when death was close to him. He said to me: ‘O my little son, beware of wronging him who finds no helper against you except Allah.(Al-Ama`li, p. 161. Al-Khisa`l, p. 185).
3. He commanded him to wash and shroud him and to undertake all his other affairs until he buried him in his final resting place.
To the Shelter Garden
The state of the Imam became worse. His illness became intense. The Imam suffered exhausting pain, for the poison reacted on all the parts of his body. He told his family that he would move to Paradise at night. He fainted three times. When he came to consciousness, he recited Surat al-Fa`tiha, and Surat Inna` Fatahna`. Then he, peace be on him, said: “Praise belongs to Allah, Who has made good to us His promise and made us inherit the land; we may abide in the garden where we please; so goodly is the reward of the workers.
Then the Imam’s great soul went to its Creator, as the souls of the prophets and the messengers did. Allah’s angels, favors and greetings surrounded it with magnification and admiration.
This great soul met its Creator after it had illuminated the horizons of this world with knowledge, worship, and freedom from all inclinations of caprice.
His Preparation for Burial
Imam Abu` Ja’far al-Ba`qir undertook the preparation of the corpse of his father. He washed his pure body. The people saw the places of his prostration, which were like the knees of camels, out of his abundant prostration (in prayer) for Allah, the Exalted. They also saw his shoulders, which were like the knees of camels. Then they asked al-Ba`qir about this, and he replied: “He would put food into his bag, carried it on his shoulders, and divided the food among the poor and the deprived.(Haya`t al-Imam Mohammed al-Ba`qir, vol. 1, p. 54).
When al-Ba`qir had finished washing the corpse of his body, he shrouded it, and prayed over it with the written prayers.
Escorting him to his Final Resting Place
Great escorting was held for the Imam. Medina (Yathrib) had never witness such escorting before. This is because the righteous and the sinful escorted him. The masses surrounded the great coffin. They wept and lamented for the Imam in humbleness. They felt a heavy loss, for they lost immense good, and unique spirituality.When the Imam died, the tongues kept silent, and the intellects became perplexed. Hence the people of Medina crowded all around the Holy Corpse.
At his Final Resting Place
In the middle of a halo of exclaiming Allah is great and praising Him, the people brought the Holy Corpse to al-Baqi Cemetery. They dug a grave for him beside the grave of his pure uncle, Imam al-Hasan, the master of the youths of Paradise, and the plant of sweet basil of Allah’s Apostle, may
Allah bless him and his family.
Then Imam al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, buried his father in his final resting place. With him he buried knowledge, kindness, reverential fear, spirituality of the prophets and of the Allah-fearing. After Imam al-Ba`qir had finished burying his father, the people hurried to him to condole him. The Imam, his brothers, and the other Ha`shimites, thanked them for their condolences.