A Brief Biography of Ali bin Husain (a.s.)
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A Brief Biography of Ali bin Husain (a.s.)
In the late 50's and early 60's, when I was a madressa student in School Farze in Zanzibar-Africa, there was no such a subject as Islamic History on the madressa curriculum. Naturally, therefore, when I joined the teaching staff of the Huseini Madressa in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania in early 80's and when I was subsequently assigned to teach Islamic History, I was at a loss, not knowing exactly what to teach.
Not that there was no syllabus for this subject. Rather, my main concern was the scope of the syllabus. For at the core of Islamic History syllabus was the study of the life of the Prophet (may peace be upon him and his progeny) and those of the other thirteen MASOOMIN from his progeny.
In my view, besides Yusuf Laljee's excellent book, KNOW YOUR ISLAM, there was no other simple but informative text that could be used comfortably by both the teachers and the students alike. Even then, the section on the life - history of MASOOMIN was rather sketchy in KNOW YOUR ISLAM.
Since those days, I have felt the need to compile brief teaching notes on the lives of our Twelve Imams (may peace be upon them all) with two objectives in mind: First, to focus on ali those areas of information, not exclusively historic, that would enable the learner to appreciate the complex situations in which our Imams lived and performed their duties as divinely appointed guides for the universe. Secondly, to present this information in a style which has at its core the interest as well as the aptitude of the teachers and students alike. I found this task easy to conceive in mind, but very difficult to implement. Needless to say, I could accomplish little in this field until when I migrated to the U.S.A.
As luck would have it, at Huseini Madressa in New York, I was once more assigned to tteach Islamic History. For reasons I need not disclose them here, I found this task even more daunting than it was in Africa.
Fortunately, at this critical time when I was groping in darkness in search of suitable reaching text for my class, I was commissioned by Sayyyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi, the Chief Missionary of Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania to write teaching -units encompassing the lives of our Twelve Imams (may peace be upon them) for the Correspondence Course of the Mission. To me this was Allah - sent bounty in two ways.
Firstly, this commission gave me courage and confidence that I hitherto lacked. Now I had the support of one of the most renowned Shia scholars of our times - Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi.
Secondly, I would not have to worry about searching for sponsors to finance the printing, the publishing and the circulation of my writings; the Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania would do that.
This unit and others to follow Me therefore the result of the initiative and complete support of Saeed Akhtar Rizvi, the administration of Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania and its old chairman Fidahusein Abdullah Hameer.
Both the substance as well as the style of this unit (and the ones to follow) have been overly simplified, to comply with Saeed Akhtar's advice that "We have to keep in mind that these units are meant for youths and not for scholars." All said and done, despite the maximum precautions that were taken to keep this unit free of factual or any other errors, if, however, some have remained uncorrected, the responsibility is mine.
May Allah forgive me for these unintentional errors and may He reward here and in the hereafter all those who have in one way or another, assisted me in the writing, the production and the circulation of this unit.
WASSALAMU ALAYKUM WA RAHMATULLAHI WA BARAKATUH.
MOHAMEDRAZA DUNGERSI. PH.D.
MARCH 15,1995. - SHAWWAL 14, 1415
NEW YORK- USA.
Imam Ali bin Husain (A.S), more known by his title Zainul Abidin than his actual name, is fourth Imam from the progeny of the Prophet Hazrat Muhammed (S.A.W.W).
Like his father Imam Husain (A.S), his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and his grandfather Imam Ali (A.S) and the Prophet (S.A.W.W), he was a Masoom (He did not commit any mistake or sins).
He was born on 5th Shaban (or on 15th Jamadi-ul-Awaal) 38 A.H. (658 A.D) in Medina (some historians say he was born in Kufa).
His father was Hazrat Imam Husain (A.S) and his mother was Hazrat Sheherbanu. She was a princess from Iran. She was the daughter of Yazd gard II, the last king of Pre-Islamic Iran. Thus he was called "Ibn Al-Khiyaratyn". or the son of the best two meaning: The Quraysh from the Arabs and the Persians from non-Arabs.
The Muslims, at the time of Umar Khattab, captured Iran in 21 A.H. The ruler, however, was able to run away from Muslims; later he was killed. Several years later his two daughter's, Sheherbanu and Gayhanbanu were brought as prisoners-of-war at the time when Imam Ali (A.S) was the Caliph of the Muslims. They were sent to Imam Ali (A.S) by his governor, Haris bin Jabir Joafi.
Imam Ali (A.S) freed the two sisters. The elder one Sheherbanu (who was also known as Shahzanan, Sulafa, Ghazala and Sheherbanuya) was given in marriage to Imam Husain (A.S). The younger sister was given in marriage to Muhammed bin Abubakr. Sheherbanu gave birth to Imam Zainul Abidin (A. S) where as Gayhanban gave the birth to Kassim, whose daughter was later married to Imam Mohammed Baqr (A.S).
After her marriage to Imam Husain (A.S), she became very pious. She was regularly praying and g Allah for having brought her to a house in which mercy of Allah was coming every second.
It is reported that once a maid in her house showed pity to Sheherbanu saying that it must have been very hard for her to live in the house of Imam Husain (A.S), she having first lived the life of princess of Persia.
Sheherbanu replied, "You should never talk like that for you do not know where I was and where I am now. I was in the Hell fire and I came to Paradise. I left the house of fire worshippers and came to the house of the worshippers of one Allah...".
Sheherbanu died a few days after giving birth to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S). She was not present in Kerbala.
Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was taken care off, as a child, by a maid whom he came to love and respect like his own mother.
When he was born, Imam Ali (A. S) was still alive and he remained in company of his grandfather for another two years. It is said that time and again Imam Ali (A.S) would hug him and say, "My son you are Zainul Abidin."
One day when Imam Ali (A.S) was praying, the young Zainul Abidin, who then was only one and half years old, started imitating his grandfather. He prayed the same way Imam Ali (A.S) did. On completing his prayers, Imam Ali (A.S) said, "How truthful was the Prophet when he said our young and our old are all the same, all being Muhammed." As a young boy till when he became 12 years of age, he spent a lot his time with his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S).
There after he stayed with Imam Husain (A.S) till 61 A.H. At the time of Imam Husain's martyrdom, Imam Zainul Abidin was a youth of 22 years.
His childhood was not free from trouble. His mother died when he was only an infant. He lost the care and love of his grandfather when he was only two. As a young boy he saw the injustices that were done to his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S). As a young boy of 12, he saw his Uncle's bier being hit with arrows. It must have pained him to see his Uncle's last wishes of wanting to be buried next to his grandfather, the Prophet (S.A.W. W), being unfulfilled. All these disturbed him and made him sad but, they never shook his faith in Allah. As a matter of fact, the incidents that we are about to describe show how peaceful he was in his mind and how strong his love was for Allah.
As a young boy, he showed great love and respect As a young boy for the sick people. Once, someone in his neighbourhood fell sick, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) spent a lot of his time caring and comforting him. When the sick man became well, he was so pleased with the young Imam that he wanted to pay him back in any way that the Imam wanted.
Ali bin Husain (A.S), and that he came for Hajj in this manner every year.
Imam Hasan (A.S that for the time Ali Bin Husain (A.S) stayed with him, though still only a child, he showed great love for prayers. He would get up in the midst of the night and pray till dawn.
LIFE WITH HIS UNCLE IMAM HASAN (A.S.) AND HIS FATHER IMAM HUSAIN (A.S)
All the Twelve Imams who were the true successors of the Prophet were born Imams, they did not become Imams. They did not attend any school or centre of learning. Their knowledge was directly from Allah. However, there was certain training and information that an Imam got from his father and grandfather who themselves were Imams. In this manner Imam Zainul Abidin's life was influenced by three Imams: Imam Ali (A.S), Imam Hasan (A.S) and Imam Husain (A.S).
So far as his father was alive, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) spent significant part of his life in prayers and in service of human beings. He was the champion of the poor and the sick.
HIS RESPONSIBILITIES AS THE IMAM OF HIS TIMES
When his father, Imam Husain (A.S) left Medina for Iraq in A.H. 60, Imam Zainul Abidin went together with him. Because the world cannot survive even .for one atom of a second without the presence a "Masoom" Imam, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) could note join his farther and other male members of his caravan in becoming martyrs of Islam on the day of Ashura. Allah made a special for that. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.s) was very on the day of Ashura and he could not take part in the Jihad.
Even then, when his father, Imam Husain (A.S) came to visit him, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) requested his father to allow him, too, to give his life fighting in the way of Allah. Imam Husain (A.S) told him that for Islam he had a more difficult "Jihad" to fight than the one he was wishing to do at that time, namely taking responSibility of the womenfolk from the family of the Prophet and staying with them to Kufa, and then to Damascus and then return with them to Medina.
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 Husain (A.S), the survival of Islam depended on Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S), and that also at a tender age of twenty two. He had a very hard job of letting the world know the mission of Imam Husain (A.S.) and exposing the evil intentions of Yezid 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 IMAM AS PRISONER OF WAR
Although the army of Yezid did not kill him because he was sick, they treated him very badly by putting him in heavy chains. As a prisoner, he was made to travel on the open back of a camel in burning sunshine from Kerbala to Kufa and then from Kufa to Sham (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 belonging to the family ofthe Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W), too, were hand-cuffed and treated like they were slaves. The daughters of Imam Ali (A.S) and Hazrat Fatima (A.S) were treated worse than criminals, their Hijab having been taken away from them. A caller would accompany them introducing them to the passers by as "Those who had disobeyed the Muslim ruler, Yezid". They were then presented as prisoners, first to Ibne Ziyad in Kufa and then to Yezid in Damascus.
IMAM ZAINUL ABIDIN (A.S) IN THE COURT OF IBNE ZIYAD IN KUFA.
Yezid's governor ofKufa, Ibne Ziyad, was known for his cruelty and his enmity towards Imam Ali (A.S) and his family. In order to show the people ofKufa how powverful he was, Ibne Ziyad asked how come Ali Bin Husain was not killed by Allah.
Any one else in the position in which Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was, would have kept quiet and bear the insult. But not Imam Zainul Abidin. As the Imam of the time he knew when it was proper for him to show the patience (Subr) of his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and when to show the bravery of his father, Imam Husain (A.S) and to face his enemies like a soldier. Without any fear, he replied Ibne Ziyad saying "I had another brother by the name .of Ali and he was martyred by being killed by your soldiers"
His short but strong reply was enough- to let people know what kind of liar and a beast Ibne Ziyad was. Ibne Ziyad became very angry by the young Imam's bravery. He ordered his soldiers to kill the Imam. Hazrat Zainab (A.S) challenged Ibne Ziyad, saying his soldiers would first have to kill her before they could get hold of her nephew, Zainul Abidin. She then took the Imam (A.S) in the fold of her arms. There was such an uproar in the court, all blaming Ibne Ziyad, that Ibne Ziyad could not do any harm to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S).
But even then the Imam replied Ibne Ziyad saying, "Do you frighten me with death, O Ibne Ziyad? Don't you know that to be killed is our tradition and martyrdom is an honour from Allah?"
IMAM ZAINUL ABIDIN IN THE COURT OF YEZID IN SHAM (DAMASCUS)
Following the instructions of his master, Yezid, Ibne Ziyad sent Imam and the ladies and children of the house of the Prophet (S.A.WW) as prisoners to Damascus.
To show his power and to frighten others, Yezid treated these prisoners very badly. They were first taken from one bazaar to another. The women and children were tied by one rope and treated very badly. The Imam was to remember this incident for the rest of his life. With tears in his eyes he used to say "In Sham (Damascus) we were insulted and treated like we were slaves whose master was not there (to protect them)" They were then put in prison.
Yezid would regularly call Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) to insult him in front of the public. On one such occasion, apreacher who was employed by Yezid went on the 'Mimber' (pulpit) of the Mosque and abused the Imam Ali (A.S) and his family.
When the preacher finished his lecture, the Imam 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 Yezid to let him talk to the people. Yezid refused to do so. The people of Syria, however, forced Yezid to allow the Imam to go on the Mimber.
Once on the Mimber, Imam Zainul Abidin first praised Allah and His Messenger. After that the Imam gave along and very powerful speech letting the Syrians know the great position of Imam Husain (A.S) to Allah, and how evil Yezid and his family were. Part of the speech is summarised below:
"O listeners I 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 Husain (A.S)).
"Those who blow 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 (S.A.WW). I am the son of Ali Al-Murtaza 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 Yezid. Yezid was afraid that if the Imam continued his speech, there would be a revolution. At the same time Yezid could no more 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 Yezid, was Muhammad (S.A.W W) 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?"
Yezid had no reply to give.
The effect of this was to turn Syrians against Yezid. Everyone of them now found out about Yezid's crimes that he had committed against the Prophet (S.A.W W) and his family. They began to blame him and ask for the release of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) and the womenfolk of the house of the Prophet. Yezid was now afraid that if he did not act fast his ruler-ship would be lost from him. He therefore freed Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) and let. him return to Medina with full honour and respect.
IMAM ZAINUL ABIDIN (A.S) RETURNS TO MEDINA
Having spent not less than one year in the prison of Yezid in Damascus, Imam Zainul Abidin returned to Medina. On reaching Medina, he camped outside the town and let the people of Medina know that he was back. When people came to meet him, without fearing the governor of Kufa, he let people know of all the injustices that were done to the family of the Prophet.
Dressed in mourning dress, he sat on a chair and addressing the people of Medina, he said, "'Praise be to Allah at all times. He gave us strength to bear great hardships. A great loss has taken place in Islam. My father, Aba Abdillah, his dear ones and his friends have been killed. His women and children were taken as prisoners. My father's head was cut and put on the edge of a spear and paraded from one Islamic city to another.
"O people! We were treated like we were non- Muslims and Kafirs, although we had committed no crime or sin and had not in any way wronged Islam. By Allah! If the Prophet of Allah had ordered them to fight against us, they would still have done nothing more than what they did".
THE PROBLEMS FAUNG THE IMAM TO CARRY OUT THE PREACHING OF ISLAM
It will be recalled that Yezid had given the Imam his freedom to return to his home in Medina not out of love but out of fear. The Imam, therefore, was still not out of danger. The Imam, therefore, had to find out a way to preach the true message of Allah without appearing to be working against the government.
This problem became even more difficult as Muslims throughout the empire began to rise against Yezid. For example, Abdullah Ibne Zubair declared himself the ruler of Mecca. In A.H 63 the Muslims of Medina drove away Yezid's governor from Medina and appointed a man of.their own choice in hisplace.
To save his crown, Yezid turned to using force. He decided to kill anyone who opposed him. The Imam had to place himself in such a position that no one could say that he was also amongst those plotting to overthrow Yezid. Otherwise, the Imam would not be able to complete the mission of saving Islam from its enemies. He would either be imprisoned again or even be killed. Who would then be there to serve Islam the way Allah wished it to be served?
HOW THE IMAM KEEPS THE MISSION OF ISLAM ALIVE WITHOUT ANGERING THE GOVERNMENT
When martyrdom was necessary to keep Islam alive, Imam Husain (A.S) publicly opposed Yezid and gave. his life. When silence became necessary to keep Islam alive, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) retired in his house to serve Islam in the best way possible.
From A.H. 62 to A.H. 95 when he left this world, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) led a quiet life, preaching the Islam in two ways.
Firstly, he kept alive the message of Imam Husain (A.S) regarding Islam trough mourning. There was not a day that passed without the Imam crying in memory of his father Imam Husain (A.S) and others who gave their lives in Kerbala. He encouraged his followers also to regard it as their duty to remember the martyrs of Kerbala as often as they could.
The first time he entered Medina when returning from Damascus, he laid down the tradition of mourning for Imam Husain (A.S). He pitched a tent outside Medina and moUming dress he let the Muslims of Medina what was expected of them from then onwards.
A man by the name of Noaman went to Medina three years after the events of Kerbala. He saw the Imam standing near the grave of the Prophet weeping and complaining to the Prophet about the III-treatment that Imam (A.S) and the other members of the Prophet's family had received from the Bani Umayyah. The Imam (A.S) remained in this position until when he fainted and was then taken by his followers to his house.
Noaman went to Imam's house. Then asked the Imam what was the most difficult time he had to face in Kerbala and during his imprisonment to Kufa and Damascus. The Imam said, "A-Sham, A-Sham, A-Sham" and then explained that in Sham the family of the Prophet was treated like animals and presented to the court of Yezid like slaves.
In this way people of Medina were to see him mourning for his father from then till his death some thirty five years later.
It is reported that when the Imam saw water he would weep, remembering the thirst of the martyrs of Kerbala. When he saw a goat or sheep being slaughtered, he would ask the slaughter if he had fed the animal and given it water. On being assured that this had, indeed, been done, the Imam would weep, saying that his father and other martyrs of Kerbala were slaughtered hungry and thirsty of three days.
He held regular mourning session in his house. Those who attended these sessions would then be served with food in the name of his father, Imam Husain (A.S)
One day somebody told him. "O son of Allah's Messenger!. Up to when would you weep like this?"
The Imam replied "'O servant of Allah. Prophet Yakub had twelve sons but only one of them (Yusuf) was taken away form him, he wept so much and for such long that his eyes turned white, his head turned gray and his back was bent although his son Yusuf was still alive. Whereas I watched my father, my brother and seventeen members of my family being slaughtered all around me. How could my sorrow come to an end?".
Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) through such mourning sessions let the world know the reason why it was necessary for Imam Husain (A.S) to sacrifice his life but not accept Yezid as the rightful ruler of the Muslims.
The plot of Yezid and his family of Bani Umayyah to destroy Islam was brought out in the open through the Imam's weeping for his father.
The second most important thing that the Imam did after returning from Damascus was to spend a lot of his time praying to Allah. His prayers were not only in the form of "Namaz" but also in the way of "Duas" or supplications.He would read these supplications and then teach them to his sons Hazrat Muhammad Baqir (A.S) and Hazrat Zaid. These supplications were later complied in a book called SAHIFA KAMILA.(The complete book). This book is also known by other names such as SAHIFA SAJJADIA (the book ofSajjad; Sajjad being another name of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S); Sajjad means one who spends a lot ofhis time in "Sijda"), or ZABURE ALE (PsalmsofthehouseholdofM ed). The SAHIFA as we know it, today is made of 54 Duas, 14 additional 'Duas' and 15 'Munajat'. Over and above the SAHIFA, there are many other supplications of the Imam which appear under different covers.
With the help of these 'Duas', Imam Zainul .Abidin (A.S) taught Muslims not only how to pray to Allah but also what is the essence of Islam. Also the major elements of religion are contained in these Duas. Moreover, the Duas teach us who Allah is and who the Prophet is and what kind of life we should lead. For example, in the Dua called "AKHLAQ" (The excellence of character), the Imam looks at different types and qualities of behaviour which make a man's character and personality, and tells his followers to have those qualities.
The Dua also teaches how Muslims should link themselves with the house of the Prophet, the Ahlul-Bayt. These ideas, if preached in any other form, would without and doubt, invite the government of Bani Umayyah to put the Imam in trouble. But who would complain if the Imam addressed his creator, Allah using "Duas"?
In this way through mourning for his father and praying to Allah, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) kept the true message of Allah alive from the evil-minded Bani Umayyah.
EFFECT OF THE IMAM'S APPROACH TO PREACH TROUGH PRAYERS
The greatest result of the Imam's decision to lead a quiet life was: the government became sure that he was not going to be dangerous to them. They, therefore, left him alone. For example, when Muslim bin Aqaba attacked Medina in A.H. 63, he did no harm to the Imam. Whereas Muslim showed complete disrespect for the Mosque of the Prophet, he did no harm to Imam Zainul Abidin's house. Those who sought shelter of the Imam's house also remained safe from the army's cruelties. In fact Muslim Bin Aqaba called Imam to his headquarters and treated him with courtesy and respect. All this was because the Imam (A.S) had shown no sign of wanting to overthrow the government. What the government failed to understand was that Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was establishing the foundations of truth which would, in future, provide strong basis of Islam which would live for ever.
By being left on his own, not only did Imam (A.S) widened the horizons of Islam, but al so found a place for himself to let the Muslims community see for themselves who truly was the representative of the Prophet. This was a very important job to be done by the Imam. This IS because the rulers of his time Yezid, Marwan, Abdul Malik bin Marwan and Walid bin Abdul Malik all lead very un-Islamic lives yet they presented themselves as the representatives of the Prophet (S.A.W.W). The presence of the Imam was a continuous lesson for Muslims. The Muslims could compare the excellent life of the Imam with that of the rulers and decide for themselves who was the true successor of the Prophet and therefore the leader of the community.
The effect of the teaching and the pure life-style of the Imam was such that he came to be regarded as an excellent person and an authority of the religion of Islam. At his time, there were seven scholar in Medina who were called ""The seven lawyers of Medina", and who were considered to be the best authorities on Islamic traditions and law. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was not only one among these seven scholars, he was the best of them all. One of these seven lawyers called Said bin Al -Musayyab considered the Imam with highest respect: the respect that a lesser pe son shows to a higher person. Another very famous and knowledgeable lawyer, Al-Zuhri, gave the title of Zainul Al Abidin to the Imam!.
Sufyan Suri says that he once asked Zuhri as to why he always called the Imam by the name of Zainul Abidin. Zuhri replied: "On the Day of Judgement a caller will say. Where is Zainul Abidin? Then Husain's son Ali, will come forward."
By the time the Bani Umayyah realised the wisdom of Imam Zainul Abidin's approach to establish Islam through the memory of his father and prayers of Allah, it was too late. Without the knowledge of the government the Imam had raised his position in the Muslims community so high that none of the rulers could reach, with all their wealth and power. The following incident illustrates this point very well.
Hasham, the Bani Umayyah prince, went to Mecca for pilgrimage. After completing his Hajj he wanted to kiss the "Hajare Aswad" but there was such a big crowd that he could not reach there. He was therefore waiting for the crowd to decrease so that he could then get near "Hajare Aswad". With him were standing his royal attendants.
Then came a person dressed in simple clothes. He was approaching the Kaaba very slowly when the crowd saw him they all scattered, making way for him. The man slowly and with ease went round the "House of Allah" (Kaaba) seven times, kissed the "Hajare Aswad" and went away
Hasham, the prince of the Muslims empire, could not believe what he saw. wasn't he the prince? Why had he to wait and a stranger be shown such respect? Who was he after all? He asked his attendants who the stranger was that he should enjoy such a respect with people that even the prince could not.
The attendants said they did not know who the person was, though they knew very well that the person was Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) but were afraid that if they said the truth Hasham would be offended.
However, the famous poet Farazdaq, who was being paid by the king to write poems in praise of the royal family could not keep quiet. He read long poem in praise of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) the most important part of which is ...
"..This is Ali (Bin Husain) whose parent is the Prophet, This is the son of Fatima, if you do not know who he is.
Whoever recognizes his God knows also the greatness and importance of this man,
Because the religion has reached the nations through his house."
Hisham burned with jealousy. He got Farazdaq in prison for praising the Imam (A.S).
When the Bani Umayyah rulers realised their mistake they decided to kill the Imam. By the instructions of Walid Bin Merwan, the governor of Medina poisoned the Imam (A.S). The Imam (A.S) died from this poison on 25th Muharram A.H 95 (A.D. 713).
The beliefthat our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W W), his daughter, Hazrat Fatima (A.S), Imam Ali (A.S) and other eleven Imams (whose biographies we are going to study in this course) are all sinless and make no mistakes, is a very important part of our faith. To us these fourteen personalities were perfect.
However, as each of them had a special job to do and most of them lived in different periods of time, each of them had a chance to show only a few sides of his or her character. In the world in which Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) lived, the parts of his character which people could be seen very clearly are described in the following pages of this Chapter.
He had great love and fear of Allah. These could be seen the way the carried out his daily 'Wajib' prayers and other recommended prayers. Three things can be said about his prayers to Allah:
1) Once he set up his mind to pray to Allah, he forgot about every thing else. He gave himself totally to Allah. Nothing would disturb his prayers. Consider the following incidents.
* Once while he was praying, his house caught fire. To put down the fire and more importantly to save their lives everybody in the house was running here and there. But not the Imam (A.S). He continued his prayers as if nothing had happened. When he finished his prayers, the fire had already been put down. Somebody asked him, no the son Prophet, why didn't you cut-short your "Sajda" when you heard the people shouting that the house was on fire?"
The Imam replied, "When I heard 'fire, fire' I remembered the fire of Hell. I compared that with fire in my house. I found the fire of Hell more severe so I continued praying."
* At another time his son, Hazrat Muhammed Baqir (A.S) had fallen in a well. The child's mother was deeply upset and cried for the Imam's help. The Imam was in the middle of his prayers. He neither broke his prayers nor did he rush to complete his prayers fast. He continued his prayers, at his usual speed. On completing his prayers he went to the well and brought out the child. The child was safe and was not hurt at all.
* It is said that once Shaitan (Devil) decided to disturb the Imam's prayers. The Devil then took the form of a snake and stung the Imam's legs continuously. The Imam felt the pain but he continued praying as if nothing had happened. When he had finished he told the Shaitan to go away. Then came a voice from Heavens saying, "You are Zainul Abidin (A. S) (the decoration of the pious)"; every body who was present heard this and the Imam (A. S) became famous by that name; * It is common with human beings, to shorten their prayers or even to neglect them at the time of difficulties. This was not so with the Imam (A.S). On the evening of Ashura in Kerbala, Imam (A.S) went through a very hard time. He remembered these hard times throughout his life But his prayers remained as pure as ever- He Spent the whole night in "Sajda" praising Allah in these words:
"There is no other God but Allah and that is the truth. There is no other God but Allah in terms. of faith and truth. There is no other God but Allah. I testify this by praying to Him".
Throughout his difficult journey from Kerbala to Kufa and from Kufa to Damascus and all the time he was in prison, his prayers remained the same as they had been during the normal times.
2) He spent a lot of his time in prayers. Beside the daily obligatory prayers like his grandfather Imam Ali (A.S), he prayed 1000 rakats of recommended prayers (Mustahab) daily in the day and at night. If there was any time left that, too, he would spend in "Duas" and "Sujud".
* Taoos Yamani reports that once he went to the House of Allah and there he saw Ali Bin Husain (A.S) near "Hajare Aswad" (Black stone). He first prayed and then bowed down in 'Sajda'. Taus says that he went near the Imam to hear what he was saying and he heard the Imam say in presence of Allah:
"Your humble servant is at your courtyard"
"Your sad one is at your courtyard"
"Your poor one is at your courtyard"
"Your beggar is at your courtyard"
Taoos says since that time whenever I need help from Allah I address Him in this way and I get the help that I need.
* It is reported that the Imam would get out of his bed at midnight daily and go to his prayer carpet saying, "O my creator, the thought that I will have to face you on the Day of Judgement has got me out of my bed and made me sleepless." Having said so, he would bow-down in prayers and put his cheeks on the ground. He would then weep in fear of Allah and weep so much that the ground would become wet with his tears. His family would gather around him but he would not even notice them. He would continue addressing Allah saying, "O my creator, I don't wish for the restful life of this world. I ask for your mercy at that time when I shall be brought in your presence."
* A man by the name of Zurara Bin Ayan once heard at midnight a caller saying, "Where are those people who give away this world for the next world?" another call came as a reply from the graveyard of Baqi saying, "Such a person is Ali Bin Husain (A.S)."
* If any member of his family asked him as to why he was praying like this even though he was sinless, he would reply, "Why shouldn't I try to be nearer to Allah than I am now?"
* It is reported by Sheikh Mufid that once Imam Muhammed Baqir (A.S) saw that his father's face had turned yellow through weeping all night. His forehead was hurt. His legs and feet were swollen from standing long hours in prayers. Imam Baqir started weeping. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) asked his weeping son to bring to him the book containing the prayers of Imam Ali (A.S). He then read from the book for a while and closing it, he said,." who is strong enough to worship the way Ali Ibne Abi Talib used to do?" the massage from Imam Zainul Abidin was: compared to my grandfather my prayers are too short and too little. So let me do as much as I can.
Fatima Binti Ali, the Imam's aunt called Jabir Bin Abdullah Ansari and requested to talk to the Imam and persuade him not to pray so much that his health could suffer. When Jabir talked to the Imam, the Imam reminded Jabir about the Prophet's long prayers which led to the revelation of those Quranic verses in which Allah tells the Prophet to reduce his night prayers. The Prophet's Allah. In the reason for such long prayers was to thank same way the Imam's long prayer were only to thank Allah.
Whenever he heard of good news, he would bow down in "Sajda" to praise and thank Allah. Whenever his desires were fulfilled he would go in sajda. Whenever his problems were solved he would go in sajda. So much did he spend his time in sajda; praying or praising or thanking Allah that he became known as "Sayyidu Sajidin" or the leader of those who do "Sajda".
Because he bent so much in prayers the skin over his knees and on his forehead was as hard as that of the camel. From time to this skin had to be peeled-off His forehead, too, was wounded because of remaining in the position of "Sajda" for long hours.
3) Both before prayers and during prayers the Imam's behaviour would change in fear of Allah. For example, when he did his "Wudhu" his face would become pale and his body would shake. When he was asked for a reason he would reply , "Don't you know before whom I am preparing to stand?".
Throughout his prayers his face continued to remain pale. After completing his prayers, in his "Duas" and "Sajdas" he would weep so much that his beard would be wet with tears.
Once someone saw him praying in the mountains on a bare rock which had become hot with the sun's ray's. The man asked for the reason. The Imnam explained saying, "This heat from the rock reminds me of the heat of the Hell and gives me a better understanding when I pray for forgiveness from Hell fire."
It was because of his prayers that he became known as "Zainul Abidin" or the decoration of the pious people.
His piety was not just in prayers. He used to spend almost all his days fasting. A maid who spent several years serving Imam reports that throughout her service she never cooked any food for him nor prepared his bedding at night.
By some accounts he fasted everyday except on forbidden days such as on Idd days.
When he went for 'Hajj' he would do so most of the time walking. When he did use a beast of burden, he would never beat to make it move faster It therefore took him twenty days to travel between Medina and Mecca.
Once he was on such a pilgrimage to Mecca. He put on his "Ihram" and was about to say "Labaik Allahumma Labaik" which is required from every person doing "Hajj", his face turned yellow and he could not say "Labaik" loudly. When he was asked why he did not do so, he replied, "Suppose I said Labaik and Allah replied LaLabaik (I don't accept your Labaik) what would happen to me?" It is reported that his whole Hajj was spent in fear of Allah.
HIS PATIENCE ("SABR") AND FORGIVING- NATURE
Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was similar to his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and his grandson Imam Musa Kazim (A.S) (Our 7th Imam) by showing a lot of pat, ience to their enemies.
You will remember that after the events of Kerbala, he went through very bad times in the hands of his enemies, but at no occasion did he show sign of anger or impatience. Whenever necessary, he replied to his enemies bravely but without showing any anger or loss of patience. Consider the following incidents.
* When the Imam was a prisoner of Yezid in Damascus and was being taken to the court, a Syrian came forward and abused the Imam saying, "Tell me who has come out successful you or Yezid?"
Without getting angry the Imam replied, "When you hear the Azan you make your own decision as to who is and who a failure."
In the same way, another old man of Syria addressed the Imam saying "Praise be to Allah who destroyed you, who killed your brought peace in the country by giving victory to the caliph of Muslims."
The Imam first the verse of Qur'an (42:23) meaning: "O Prophet to them "I do not ask to be paid back for my services except they you should love my verses?"
The old man replied that, indeed, he had read those verses but he did not know how these verses had anything to do with the Imam.
The Imam then read two more verses from the Qur'an, meaning:
"Know o you believers'. Whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for the Prophet and for the Prophet's family (8:41).
"Allah wishes to keep you away from uncleanness, O you the people of the house, and to purify you with complete purification. (33:33)
Then the Imam told the that he prisoners were the family of the Prophet in these verses and they were the ones for whom the Prophet had asked for respect and love.
The old man then felt very sorry and apologized and the Imam forgave him.
* Hisham Bin Ismail, the governor of Medina used to give a lot of trouble to the Imam. As time went by, he was removed from his position by Walid, the king. As his punishment, he was made to stand at a public place. People were given permission to do whatever they wished to him. Imam (A.S) had suffered the most from his hands and the chance to take his revenge. Instead, the Imam now was (A.S) went to him and greeted him with respect and kindness knowing that if he did so then others would follow him and save Hisham from insults and injury.
Together with his patience was his forgiving nature and his kindness. The following incidents from Imam's life show this very clearly.
* Once a slave girl, while serving him, dropped on him a heavy jug full of water and cut his face. She said to him, ," Allah, the most high says: those who control their anger." "Before she could complete this verse of the Qur'an, he said, "I have controlled my anger."
She continued, saying, "And those who forgive the people .." He replied. "'May Allah forgive you." She went on, saying, ", Allah loves those , who do good. "He replied, "'Go, you are a free person in the presence of Allah, The High, The Mighty."
* Once the Imam called his slave but the slave did not reply him. The Imam called him two more times; only then he replied. The Imam asked him if he did not hear being called. The slave replied that he did hear but he ignored to answer because he knew that no harm would come to him from the Imam (A.S).
When the Imam heard this he said, "Praise be to Allah who made my slave safe from me."
During the times of the Imam (A.S) slavery was common. Slaves would come from wars. The Imam used to get them as "Khums" from those who took part in these wars. Also the Imam used to purchase some slaves and then set them free.
He treated his slaves very well and would never beat them for any mistakes. Instead, he would record all their mistakes. At the end of the month of Ramadhan, he would call them and let them know of all their mistakes. He would then tell them to pray to Allah to forgive the Imam the way the Imam forgave them (the slaves). He would then set free all slaves and give them generous gifts.
It is said that one of his such slaves whom the Imam had set free progressed so much that on one occasion he loaned 10,000 dinars to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S). The Imam (A.S) later repaid this loan.
* A person once spoke very harshly to the Imam and wrongly blamed the Imam for things he had never done. The Imam listened to all these quietly and without answering him. The man got tired and went away.
After he had gone the Imam asked his followers to go with punish the person. They all went with the Imam (A.S). On his way the Imam started reading the following verses of Qur'an:
"'Those who control their anger and forgive the people, Allah loves those who do good." (3'133).
His companions immediately knew that the Imam would forgive the person.
When they arrived at the person's house and when the person saw them all, he was sure, the Imam had come to punish him. However, the Imam addressed him very gently saying, "Brother, you said things about me, if truly I have those faults, then I pray to Allah to forgive me. If, however, I do not have those faults, I pray to Allah to forgive you."
The man was put to shame. He said, "You are free from all those faults. May Allah forgive me for making those false claims against you."
* Once a man abused the Imam (A.S) in his presence. The Imam acted like he did not hear it. Then the man shouted, "I mean you." The Imam (A.S) replied, "And from you I am turning away." By this the Imam (A.S) was acting according to the Qur'an which says "'Go to what is honourable and turn away from the ignorant" (7:199).
His acts of piety did not end with only spending his time communicating with Allah. He spent a lot of his time 34 serving human beings also. He regularly visited the poor and the sick and provided for their necessities of life without their knowledge. In the darkness of the night, he would carry on his back bags of bread and food, cover his face so that no one could recognize him and go from door to door of the needy and serve them food. None knew that this person was Imam Zainul Abidin(A.S) until his death
Zuhir says that once when it was raining heavily at night, he saw the Imam carrying a heavy load on his back. He offered to help. The Imam said he was on his way to a journey. The next day Zuhir still saw the Imam in Medina. Had the Imam postponed his journey? No. The Imam explained that he was preparing for the journey of the next world. He was on his way to feed the poor and did not want Zuhir to go with him as this could lead to the poor to recognize who their benefactor was.
Sheikh Mufid records that Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) paid a visit to Zaid Bin Uthama Bin Zaid who was very sick. Zaid was weeping because he had debt of fifteen thousand dinars. The Imam promised Zaid that he would pay the full debt immediately and he did so.
These acts of generosity were not meant for the poor and for the Imam's friends only. It was extended even to - his enemies. As will be illustrated in the following incidents.
You will recall that in A. H 64 the people of Medina removed Yezid's governor from his post of governorship in Medina, Fearing for their lives, the Bani Ummayyah started running away from Medina. Marwan Bin Hakam had a large family of women and children and could not run away for his life unless he could find someone who would agree to house his women and children. Marwan approached several people including Abdullah Bin Omar Bin Khattab but all refused to help him.
Finally Marwan turned to Imam Zainul Abidin for help.
Marwan was enemy number one of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) and his family. As a matter offact, the Prophet (S.A.W W) had ordered Marwan and his father Hakam Bin Aas to leave Medina as unwanted persons. It is the same Merwan who had fought against Imam Ali (A.S) in the Battle of Jamal. Merwan also was one ofthose who prevented Imam Hassan to be buried next to his grandfather's grave. Again, it was Merwan who had told Walid, the Governor of Medina in A.H. 60 to force "Bayah" from Imam Husain (A.S) in the court or to cut-off his head if he refused.
Despite this, the Imam (A.S) agreed to help Marwan. Merwan's family stayed with the Imam in Imam's house for as long as they wished. The Imam then arranged for them to go to where Merwan was.
In fact, Imam's house was open for anyone who came seeking for protection at this time.
To put down the rebellion in Medina, Yezid sent a strong army under the one-eyed general called Muslim Bin Aqaba. Muslim brought back Medina under the control of Yezid but before he could do the same to Mecca he died.
Hasin Bin Namir took-over from Muslim and went to Mecca, to deal with Abdullah Ibne Zubair whohad taken control of Mecca from Yezid. Before Hasin could win back Mecca, he got the news that Yezid had died.
Hasin hurried back to Damascus with whatever that he was left without food was left of his army. On the way and water. He and his army were about to die in the desert out of thirst and hunger. Then he saw a man coming in his direction. The man had a camel loaded with food and water. Hasin begged the man to sell to him the food and water which he had with him for any price. The man replied that his provisions were not for sale. However, as Hasin needed them so badly he could have it all for free.!
In his conversation with the stranger, Hasin recognized the stranger as being no other person than Ali Bin Husain (A.S). Thinking that the Imam had not recognised him, Hasin asked the Imam if he knew to whom the Imam was extending his generosity.
The Imam replied, "I know that you are the murderer of my brother and father and that you denied my father water and food till his martyrdom but that shows who you are and my generosity shows what I am".
Hasin offered to help the Imam take control of Damascus. The Imam refused saying, all that he did for him was because he was a human being needing help. The Imam needed no reward or thanks. Saying so he went away - leaving behind Hasin to bite his figures in disbelief
Such was the generosity of our fourth Imam, Ali Bin Husain, Zainul Abidin (A.S).
WHAT IS A MIRACLE?
Allah has made laws for all his creation. These laws can be divided into two types. First, there are those laws which no one can change. These are sometimes called the laws of nature. For example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The character of water is to cool and that of fire is to burn. No one can bring the dead back from death; these are but a few examples of the laws of nature.
Then there are the laws of Allah which are in the hands of man and they can change them against the will of Allah. For example, the law of Allah forbids to have relationship with another man as if he was a woman. (This act was very common with the people who lived during the times of Nabi Loot) But man can change this law, though by doing so he commits a sin.
Miracle is said to have taken place when a law of nature, which in normal conditions cannot be changed, is indeed changed. For example, the Qur'an tells us of the miracles of Nabi Isa (A.S). He was born without his mother having any relationship with a man. Again, when he was born, he started talking, telling people that he was a Prophet with a book from Allah. Or that he made the dead return to life. These acts are not normal and they are called miracles or "Mojiza".
Miracles take place only when Allah wishes and He does so for very special reasons. The main reason is that: Allah wants to prove his existence. The Prophets and 12 Imams show miracles only when Allah wishes them to do so. For example, Nabi Musa could turn his stick into a snake to show that he had this power given to him by Allah.
Another good example of miracle is that': Our Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.WW), split the moon into two parts to prove to the "Kuffar" of Mecca that he was a true Messenger of Allah.
Besides the Prophet (S.A.W.W), the other 13 Masoomin (That is Hazrat Fatima and our 12 Imams) also did show miracles when it was necessary to do so and when Allah wished them to do so.
Before I give examples of the miracles that Imam Zainul Abidin showed, I shall explain the difference between a miracle and magic.
Whereas a miracle is the work of the men of Allah, magic is the work of Shaitan or only a trick performed so cleverly that for sometime we see a change in natural laws. For example, in the Qur'an we are told that Firawn (Pharo) called magicians who could turn threads into snakes. The difference between magic and miracle is the same as the difference. between the snakes of magicians and that of Nabi Musa. The magician's snakes were not real, the one of Nabi Musawas. As a result, the magician's snakes only appeared like snakes and therefore could do no harm or even fight with Nabi Musa's snake which swallowed the threads of the magicians. The threads disappeared for good.
THE MIRACLES OF IMAM ZAINUL ABIDIN (A.S)
Several miracles were shown by the Imam (A.S) but we shall look at only two of them.
After the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S), the army of Yezid cut-off the heads of all the martyrs of Kerbala and removed them from their bodies. Then they left those bodies without burying them. They did not allow Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) to bury these martyrs. Instead, they took him a prisoner to Kufa.
After the army of Yezid had left for Kufa, the tribe of Bani Asad, who lived in the neighbourhood of Kerbala, came to bury the martyrs. Since there was no way by which they could know whose body belonged to whom, they were worried.
Suddenly, they saw a man on a horse coming in their direction. Fearing that this could be a spy of Yezid coming to check on them, the Bani Asad went into hiding. The man came where they were hiding and called them to come out. He told them that he was Ali Ibn Husain (A.S) and had come through miracle from Kufa to help them identify and bury the martyrs.
In this way Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) buried the martyrs and his father where they lie buried today.
His coming to Kerbala was very important for two reasons. Firstly, an Imam from Allah has to be given the burial services, when he dies, by the Imam who takes over from him. No one could give the burial services to Imam Husain (A.S) except him. But he was miles away and in chains as a prisoner of Ibn Ziyad in Kufa. He therefore came to Kerbala by miracle. Secondly only he knew who was who. Otherwise, we would never know who was buried where the way we know today.
After the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S) and after Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) had returned to Medina, some people began to consider Hazrat Muhammad Hanafiya as their Imam. Hazrat Muhammad Hanafiya was Imam Husain's younger brother He was very pious and had not himself said that he was Imam. Only some misguided people began to consider him as their Imam.
It became necessary to remove this misunderstanding. Therefore, Imam (A.S) and his uncle, Muhammad Hanafiya decided to go together to where "Hajar Aswad" (The black stone near Ka'aba) was.
At first, Hazrat Muhammad Hanafiya addressed the Hajar asking it to confirm who the Imam was. But there was no reply. Then Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) addressed the Hajar. Aloud and clear voice came from "Hajar Aswad" saluting the Imam by his full name and confirming that he and he alone was the Imam of the time.
Let it be remembered that Hazrat Muhammad Hanafiya himselfhad never claimed to be Imam. He fully supported Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) but he addressed Hajar Aswad only to let the misguided people see for themselves that he was not an Imam.
As he have seen before, the politics of his times were so bad that Imam (A.S) could not openly preach Islam. If he did so, his enemies would get a chance of preventing him from doing so by putting him away in prison or even killing him. He could not therefore all the time preach as openly as his grandparents had done before him.
As an Imam appointed by Allah, he knew when to openly expose the enemies of Islam and when to preach Islam without openly naming the enemies. Whenever possible, he gave sermons in which he openly named the enemies of Islam and the wrongs that they did to the family of the Prophet, though such moments were rare. Otherwise, the Imam used the supplications (Duas) and sayings to teach proper Islam as opposed to Islam which was being preached by the oppressive government of Bani Umayyah.
The only chance that the Imam had to give an open sermon was in the court of Yezid. It was very important for him to do so because all along, the people of Syria were being told lies about the Prophet (S.A.W W) and his family, especially about Imam Ali (A.S), Hazrat Fatima (S.A), Imam Hassan (A.S) and Imam Husain (A.S). In the eyes of the Syrians, Muawiya and Yezid were the true representatives of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) and Imam Ali (A.S) and his children were the enemies of Islam. As a matter of fact, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) and the family of the of the Prophet were presented in the court of Yezid as those who had fought against Islam. It was very important for the Imam therefore to tell the Syrians what was the truth. That is to say that Muawiyyah and Yezid were the enemies of Islam and they had murdered the innocent members of the family of the Prophet (S.A.W W); and the Imam gave a very powerful sermon which you have already seen in Chapter 2.
Notice that in this sermon, the Imam describes very openly high position of the Prophet (S.A.W W) his family and other relatives of the Prophet. He also proves that Yezid, his parents and his grandparents were truly the enemy of Islam. Although he never got another chance to give a sermon like this, this one sermon was enough to awaken the Syrians from the sleep of ignorance. This sermon will always be a guide to those Muslims who need to know truly how evil the Bani Umayyah were and how virtuous the Ahlul Bayt were.
The other sermon that the Imam gave was very short but very effective. We saw that in Chapter 2. This was given to the people of Medina on the day the Imam returned from the prison of Yezid. The people of Medina were not in darkness regarding the goodness of the family of the Prophet, the way the people of Syria were. It was not at this time necessary for the Imam to remind the people of Medina about the evils of Bani Umayyah; what the people of Medina needed to be told were two things.
First, they had to be made to know what Bani Umayyah did to Imam Husain (A.S). Secondly, they needed to be told of what was expected of them now that Imam Husain (A.S) had given his life. And the Imam did just that in this short address to them which you have already seen in Chapter 2.
Supplications ("Duas") are a kind of prayers to Allah. A person who reads a "Dua" is actually addressing Allah.
In the Qur'an itself Allah tells us of the "Duas" of several Prophets such as Nabi Nuh, Nabi Ibrahim and Nabi Musa. The Prophet taught his companion S several Duas. Imam Alitaught Kumayl Bin Ziyadthe DuaofNabi Khizrwhich came to be known as "Dua-e-Kumayl" and which is read every Thursday evening. Imam Husain's (A.S) Dua of the day of Arafat was introduced to you when .we were learning about the biography of Imam Husain (A.S). Imam Zaiunl Abidin (A.S) therefore was not the first person. to start this art of addressing Allah through a supplication.
What makes Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) so special is that: he made "Duas" on almost every important occasion in a Muslim's life and filled these Duas with knowledge of very branch of Islam. No Imam before him or after him has taught us as Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) did through Duas.
Most of the supplications of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) today exist in a book called "Sahifa Sajjadiya" (The book of Sajjad) or "Sahifa Kamila" (A complete book) or ""Zabur-e-Ale Muhammad" (The psalms of the house of Muhammad). The Imam used to teach these Duas to his sons Imam Muhammad Baqir (A.S) and Zayd, the martyr These books remained in the family of Imam Zaiunul Abidin from generation to generation and has survived till today.
The "Sahifa" as we know it today is a collection of 54 Supplications, I 4 other supplications and 15 Munajat.
These "Duas" can be put into two groups: The Duas that can be read on any occasion (E.g. Supplication for ones Parents, Supplication in asking for Pardon) and those which are for special occasions (E.g. Supplications for day of Arafat, The day of Idd). These "Duas" are full ofknowledge on Islam. The subjects listed here are but a few examples of what is contained in these Duas:
How to address Allah
Merits of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) and his family
What are the main parts of Iman (Faith)
What behavior is expected from Muslims
Through these Duas, the Imam taught the standards and principles for Muslims who would then be able to save themselves from "Corrupted Islam" that was being taught by the Bani Ummayya.
Whenever he got a chance, the Imam would advise his followers on how they were to lead their lives. These advises or sayings are in plenty.
Over and above that, the Imam gave a lengthy advice on human rights. These today appear in a book form and is called RISALAT AL-HUQUQ (Or a treatise on rights). In this book, the Imam (A.S) gives examples of 51 different rights.
We shall reproduce here a few sayings of the Imam and few rights that the Imam (A.S) describes fully in his RISALAT AL-HUQUQ.
A SMALL SELECTION OF HIS SAYINGS
1) Once, one of his companions complained to him that out of jealousy some people whom he had served very well were treating him badly. The Imam gave him some advice which was:
* Guard your tongue and do not speak about people whatever comes out of your mouth, otherwise you will turn your friends into your enemies.
* Avoid saying things which the minds of people are not prepared to accept.
* He who does not have wisdom will be ruined by the a smallest thing (Mistake).
* What harm will come to you if you take all Muslims to be your family and your relations? Consider your elders to be your parents, those younger than you as your children and those of your age as your brothers. If you do so who is going to harm or abuse you?
* Whenever a thought comes in your mind that you are better than any other person, then think along these lines : If the person is older than you then remind yourself that this person is better than you in matters of Islam because he has done more good deeds than you have. If the person is younger than you then remind yourself that this person is better than you because he has committed less sins than you have. If he is of your age than your argument should be : he is better than you in matters of Islam since you know of your own sins but not of his.
* If people show respect to you, think that this is because the people are very good not that you are good. If the people say bad things about you, think that something is really wrong with you. If you live in this way, life will become pleasant for you, you will make many friends and your enemies will be few.
(2) The Imam said, "Do not have relationship with, nor talk with nor give company to 5 types of people:
* The Liar: because they are like mirage : With their words they show things different from what they really are. What is near they make it look far and what is far they make it look near. In this way, they take you away from truth.
* The Greedy and the Sinner: because you cannot rely on their friendship; for a small piece of food or even
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