Ali ibn Al-Husayn (a.s.)
Zayn al-'Abidin, Al Sajjad
He was born in 38 A.H. in Madina.
He died of poison in the year 94 or 95 A.H. at Madina and
is buried at Baqi near his uncle Hasan (a.s.).
Birth and blessings
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
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
"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
"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
His Life in
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.
Imam(a.s.) kept his life very
personal and preferred to stay in a town close to Madina from where he would
preach the true religion of Allah(swt) quietly and with character. His
character and preaching inspired a large number of people specially in the
vicinity of Madina and Makkah. Slowly the tyrrant rulers of his time began
to realize the dangers that they faced from the Imam(a.s.)'s preaching and
character. His period of Imamte was full of tyrant rulers such as Yazid
untill 64 A.H., Moawiya bin Yazid and Marwan bin-al-Hakam until 65 A.H, then
from 68 A.H. until 86 A.H. was the rulership of Abdul Malik bin Marwan and
finally from 86 A.H. until 96 A.H. was the period of Walid bin Abdul Malik.
Amid this growing threat, Walid decided to poison and kill the Imam and
finally he succeeded in his ulterior motives and Imam Sajjad(a.s.) was
poisoned by the governor of Madina and martyred on 25th Moharram 95 A.H.