The Behavior of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) - Part 1
As for the behavior of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, it was similar to that of his grandfathers, who were the source of guidance to mankind. The Ima`m spared no effort to follow the behavior and guidance of his grandfather Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him.
The narrators said: "He (Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin) followed his grandfather's behavior. When worship made him tired, he sighed deeply and said with regret: 'I am not strong enough to perform the worship of my grandfather, the Commander of the faithful.'"
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin carried in his inner self the spirit of his grandfather, the Commander of the faithful and the Lord of those who were cognizant of Allah. He followed his method and imitated his actions. Now, we will talk about some aspects of this part of his life.
His Behavior in his House
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was the most merciful of all the people and the kindest of them to the members of his house. He did not distinguish himself from them, rather he was one of them. It was reported on his authority that he said: "To buy meat from the market with the dirhams which are on me for my family when they long for meat is more lovable for me than freeing a slave."(Al-Bihar, vol. 46, p. 67).
He went out early in the morning to seek the daily bread of his family. He was asked: "Where do you go?" He replied: "I go to seek earning for my family by seeking lawful daily bread because it is (the daily bread) is alms from Allah, the Great and Almighty, for them."
He helped his family in meeting their needs. He did not order anyone of them to carry out his personal affairs; he performed them himself, especially if it concerned the affairs of his worship; he did not ask anyone of them to perform them.
The Ima`m's behavior toward his household was unique; he behaved exceptionally with his family. His behavior was full of mercy, cooperation, kindness, and self-negation.
His Kindness to his Nursemaid
When Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, grew up, he found out that his mother died, that his nursemaid treated him kindly in order to seek nearness to Allah. As a result he treated her with great kindness to the extent that he prevented from eating with her. The people blamed him for that and asked him frequently: "You are the kindest of all the people and the best of them in taking care of your blood relatives, so why do you not eat with your mother?"
He replied to them with great politeness: "I fear that I stretch out my hand for what she stretches out her hand for.2, then I am disobedient to her." (Ibn Qutayba, 'Uyyn al-Akhbar, vol. 3, p. 97).
Which humanity is similar to this humanity? Which angelic soul is this soul? It is sufficient for this Ima`m that he is the son of al-Husayn, who filled the world with his honor and perfection.
His Behavior toward his Parents
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was the kindest of all the people to his parents because he treated them with great love and mercy and obedience. He was so kind to his father that he asked his aunt Zaynab, the heroine of Karbala`', to give the sticks to lean upon and a sword to defend his father at the Battle of al-Taf.
This was while he was ill to the extent that he was unable to walk, but his aunt prevented him from doing that lest the progeny of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, should be destroyed. Therefore, which kindness is similar to this kindness? Among the services which he rendered to his father, after his martyrdom, was that he settled the heavy debts his father spent on the needy and the deprived. Among his acts of kindness to his parents is his supplication for them.
His Supplication for his Parents
As for the supplication of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, for his parents, it concerns one of the most brilliant rules of Islamic education. This rule aims at achieving the reform and happiness of the family, spreading love and respect among its members. It is natural for society to be righteous when the family is righteous, and when it is corrupt, the society is also corrupt. This is because it is the first cell of building and forming society. The following is the masterpiece of his supplication:
"O Allah, bless Mohammed Your servant and Your messenger and his Household, the pure, and single them out for the best of Your blessing, Your mercy, Your benedictions, and Your peace! And single out my parents, O Allah, for honor with You and blessings from You, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
"O Allah, bless Mohammed and His Household, teach me through inspiration, knowledge of everything incumbent upon me toward them, and gather within me knowledge of all that completely! Then make me act in accordance with what You have inspired me and give me success to put into practice the knowledge You have shown to me, lest I fail to act according to something You have taught me or my limbs feel too heavy to perform that with which You have inspired me!"
These brilliant words represent the high manners and morals and respect of the Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin toward his parents. He supplicated to Allah to single them out with honor and dignity and to help him perform their rights against him. Now let's listen to another masterpiece of his supplication for them.
"O Allah, bless Mohammed and His Household, as You have ennobled us through them and bless Mohammed and His Household as You have made incumbent upon us rights toward the creatures because of him.
"O Allah fill me with awe of my parents, the awe one has toward a tyrannical sovereign, and let me be devoted to them, with the devotion of a compassionate mother! Make my obedience and devotion to them more gladdening to my eyes than sleep to the drowsy and more refreshing to my breast than drink to the thirsty, so that I may prefer their inclination to my inclination, set their satisfaction before my satisfaction, make much of their devotion to me though it be little, and make little of my devotion to them though it be great."
In the world of obedience and kindness to parents, there is nothing like that which the Ima`m has mentioned in this paragraph. He asked Allah, the Almighty, to fill him with awe of his parents to obey them and not to disobey them and to be devoted to them with the devotion of a compassionate mother and to prefer their inclination to his inclination and to set their satisfaction to his satisfaction and to thank them for their kindness to him and to regard as little his devotion to them. It is natural that such children treat their parents in such a manner which agrees with the troubles of life and pains of old age, and which brings about the happiness of family and the prosperity of social life. Now let's continue mentioning the brilliant paragraphs of his supplication for his parents.
"O Allah lower before them my voice, make agreeable to them my words, make mild before them my temper, make tender toward them my heart, and turn me into their kind companion, their loving friend!
O Allah thank them for my upbringing, reward them for honoring me, and guard them as they guarded me in my infancy!
O Allah and whatever harm has touched them from me, detested thing has reached them from me, or right of theirs which has been neglected by me, allow it to alleviate their sins, raise them in their degrees, and add to their deeds!
O He who changes evil deeds into manifold good deeds!"
This masterpiece represents the high education and morals of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them. In it, the Ima`m has added other rights to the parents' rights he has already mentioned, they are as follows:
1. The son should lower his voice before his parents.
2. He should make his temper mild before them.
3. He should make his heart tender toward them.
4. He should ask Allah to forgive them and to be pleased with them for their kindness to him during the days of his infancy.
5. He should ask Allah to reward them for whatever harm has touched them from him, detested thing has reached them from him or right of their rights which has been neglected by him. In the world of ideal education there is no morals like these morals through which man is sublime and his life is prosperous.
Now, let's listen to another part of the supplication of the Ima`m, peace be on him.
"O Allah, whatever word through which they have transgressed against me, act through which they have been immoderate with me, right of mine which they have neglected, or obligation toward me in which they have fallen short, I grant it to them and bestow it upon them, and I beseech You to remove from them its ill consequence, for I do not accuse them concerning myself, find them slow in their devotion toward me, or dislike the way they have attended to my affairs, my Lord!
They have rights against me which are more incumbent, precedence in beneficence toward me that is greater, and kindness toward me that is mightier than that I should settle accounts with justice or repay them with equivalents. Where then, my Allah, would be their long occupation with bringing me up? Where is the hardship of their toil in taking care of me? Where is the stinting of themselves to provide me with plenty?
What an idea! I can never discharge their right against me, fulfill my obligations toward them, or accomplish the duty of serving them. So bless Mohammed and his Household and help me, O Best of those whose help we seek! Give me success, O Most Guiding of those whom we beseech! Place me not among the people of disrespect to fathers and mothers on the day when every soul will be repaid for what it has earned; they shall not be wronged."
Indeed this 'Alid education is a breath of Allah's spirit and is a signpost for peoples and nations to raise the value of man and exalt him to the Kingdom. This pious Ima`m shows that it is incumbent on children to forgive their parents for whatever word through which they have transgressed against them, act through which they have been immoderate with them, right of theirs which they have neglected, or obligation toward them in which they have fallen short. They must grant it to them and bestow it upon them as a reward to them for their education, their taking care of them, and their blessing toward them.
Now, let's listen to the last part of the Ima`m's supplication:
"O Allah, bless Mohammed, his Household, and his progeny and single out my parents for the best which You have singled out for the fathers and mothers of Your faithful servants, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
O Allah, let me not forget to remember them after my ritual prayers, at every time throughout my night, and in each of the hours of my day!
O Allah, bless Mohammed and his Household, forgive me through my supplication for my parents, forgive them their devotion toward me with unfailing forgiveness, be pleased with them through my intercession for them with resolute good pleasure, and make them reach through Your generosity the abodes of safety!
O Allah, if Your forgiveness reaches them first, make them my intercessors, and if Your forgiveness reaches me first, make me their intercessors, so that we may gather together through Your gentleness in the house of Your generosity and the place of Your forgiveness and mercy! Verily You are Possessor of abounding bounty and ancient kindness, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful!"(Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya, supplication no 24).
In this last paragraph, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, supplicated for his parents asking Allah to forgive them and to be pleased with them and to forgive him through the blessing of his supplication for them and to forgive them through their kindness to him, so which love and mercy for the parents is like this love and mercy?
His Behavior toward his Children
As for the behavior of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, toward his children, it is distinguished by exalted Islamic education. He planted in his children his good inclinations and great reformatory trends, so they became among the most brilliant men of thought, knowledge, and struggle in Islam.
For example, his son Ima`m Mohammed al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, is among the most famous Ima`ms of the Muslims and the most knowledgeable of them. He was the founder of the greatest jurisprudence school from which the great jurists and religious scholars graduated, such as Aba`n b. Taghlub, Zara`ra b. A'yun, and the like, from among those who enlightened the ideological life in Islam. As for his son 'Abd Allah al-Ba`hir, he was among the leading Muslim scholars with excellent qualities and high scientific position, so the people reported that on his authority.(Ghayat al-Ikhtisar, p. 106).
As for his son Zayd, he was among the great Muslim religious scholars, and he was a specialist in many sciences such as jurisprudence, tradition, interpretation of the Qur'a`n, theology, and the like. It was he who adopted the rights of the oppressed and the persecuted , and he led their movement of struggle. That was when he proclaimed his immortal revolt which spread political awareness in the Islamic society. He also took part in overthrowing the Umayyad rule.
We will mention in brief some parts of the behavior of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, toward his children.
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