The Behavior of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) - Part 3
His Behavior toward his Neighbors
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was the kindest of all the people to his neighbors. He treated them as he treated his family, maintained their weak and poor, visited their sick, escorted their deceased to their final resting place. He did a lot of good for them. He took water to his neighbors in the dark night, as al-Zuhri reported. In the history of mankind, there is nothing like this kindness and charity.
His Supplication for his Neighbors
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was not satisfied with the kindness and charity he did for his Neighbors, rather he supplicated for them. He asked Allah to grant them success, good final results, and correctness, as he prayed for himself and the members of his House. This supplication was among his tasks. He singled out his neighbors with one of his holy supplications. The following is the text of this supplication:
"O Allah, bless Mohammed and his Household and attend to me with Your best attending in my neighbors and friends who recognize our right and war against our enemies! Give (neighbors and friends) success in performing Your prescriptions and taking on the beauties of Your courtesy through acting gently with their weak, remedying their lacks, visiting their sick, guiding their seeker of right guidance, giving good counsel to their seeker of advice, attending to the one among them who returns from travel, hiding their secrets, covering their shameful things, helping their wronged, sharing kindly with them in goods, turning towards them with wealth and bestowal of bounty, and giving what is due to them before they ask!"
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, supplicated for his neighbors with this blessed supplication. He singled out with his supplication the believers and those who knew the right of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, whose love Allah made obligatory, and whom the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, made life-boats, security for mankind, and the ones who guided men to pleasure and obedience to Allah. In the above-mentioned supplication, the Ima`m asked Allah:
1. To grant his neighbors success in performing the sunna of Islam and to enliven its duties and teachings.
2. To grant his neighbors success in taking on the beauties of Allah's courtesy, through:
(A) Acting gently with their weak and having mercy on them.
(B) Meeting the needs of their neighbors and helping them with the affairs of this world.
(C) Visiting their ill brothers.
(D) Guiding their seeker of right guidance.
(E) Giving good counsel to their seeker of advice.
(F) Attending to the one among them who returns from travel.
(G) Hiding their secrets.
(H) Covering their shameful things.
(I) Helping their wronged.
(J) Sharing kindly with them in goods.
(K) Turning towards them with wealth and bestowal of bounty.
These are among the most important issues in the social regulation aimed at spreading love, friendship, and cooperation among people, and aimed at ending all kinds of differences that corrupt social life. Now, let's listen to the last words of this holy supplication.
"Let me, O Allah, repay their evildoer with good doing, turn away from their wrongdoer with forbearance, have a good opinion of every one of them, attend to all of them with devotion, lower my eyes before them in continence, make mild my side toward them in humility , be tender toward the afflicted among them in mercy, make them happy in absence through affection, love that they continue to receive favor through good will, grant them what I grant my next of kin, and observe for them what I observe for my special friends!
O Allah, bless Mohammed and his Household, provide me the like of that from them, appoint for them the fullest share of what is with them, increase them in insight toward my right and knowledge of my excellence so that they will be fortunate through me and I fortunate through them! Amen, Lord of the worlds!(Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya, supplication no 26).
The most important thing which the Ima`m wished was that he wanted to do a lot of good for his neighbors. He wanted to:
1. Repay their evildoer with good doing.
2. Turn away from their wrongdoer with forbearance, this was the behavior of his grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, who turned away with forbearance from those who wronged him.
3. Have a good opinion of every one of them, for having a good opinion of people spreads love, friendship, and cooperation among them.
4. Attend to all of them with devotion, the weak, the poor, the enemy, and the friend.
5. Make mild his side toward them in humility.
6. Be tender toward the afflicted among them in mercy.
7. Make them happy in absence through affection and mercy.
8. Receive favor continuously.
9. Treat them kindly as he treated his next of kin.
10. Observe for them what he observed for his special friends.
These exalted morals represent the essence and reality of Islam. They aim at forming a perfect society with united feelings and firm passions.
After the Ima`m, peace be on him, had made public these noble feelings toward his neighbors, he wanted them to have the same feelings toward him. Then he asked Allah, the Glorified, to provide him the like of that from them, appoint for them the fullest share of what was with them, increase them in insight toward his right and knowledge of his excellence so that they would be fortunate through him and he fortunate through them.
His Behavior toward his Friends
As for the behavior of the Ima`m, peace be on him, with his friends, it was distinguished by high standards and great Islamic manners. The Ima`m, peace be on him, respected and honored those who sat with him, thus he said:
"I respected and honored those who sat with me." One day, Nasr b. Aws al-Ta`'i came to the Ima`m and greeted him, so the Ima`m returned his greeting and asked him:
"Where are you from?"
"From Tay," replied Nasr.
"May Allah greet you! May He greet the people to whom you belong! The best people are your people!" the Ima`m said.
Nasr turned to the Ima`m and asked him: "Who are you?"
"'Ali b. al-Husayn." was the answer.
"Wasn't he killed with his father in Iraq?" asked Nasr.
The Ima`m smiled at him and said: " My little son, if he was killed, you won't see him."
The historians said that Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, did not allow any of his friends to transgress against those who mistreated him. One of his enemies came to him and asked him: "Do you know how to perform the ritual prayers?" Abu` Ha`zim, one of the Ima`m's companions, tried to attack him, so the Ima`m held him back from doing that, saying: "Abu` Ha`zim, take it easy! Indeed, religious scholars should be clement and merciful!" Then the Ima`m kindly turned to the man and said to him: "Yes, I know how to perform them."
The man asked the Ima`m about the peculiarities of the prayers, and the Ima`m answered him, so the man became shy of the Ima`m, apologized to him for that, and said to him: "You have refuted everyone's proof." The Ima`m treated his friends with high moral standards. In this connection he followed his grandfather, the greatest Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, who was sent to complete the high moral standards.
His Behavior toward his Shi'ites
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, wanted his Shi'ites to be an excellent example for mankind in their piety, devotion, and cleaving to religion, so he did his best to educate them with high Islamic manners. He preached to them, gave them commandments, and urged them to cling to piety and good deeds, so he, peace be on him, said to one of his Shi'ites:
"Inform our Shi'ites that nothing will avail them before Allah, and that no one will obtain our intercession but through piety."
Indeed, refraining from what Allah has prohibited is among the most important ways that man is saved from the chastisement and punishment of Allah, and it is also among the most successful ways that leads man to obtain the intercession of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, which is one of Allah's forts.
A group of people came to Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and told him that they belonged to his Shi'ites, so the Ima`m considered their faces carefully but did not see on them the marks of righteousness, so he said to them:
"Where are the marks of the faces? Where are the marks of worship? Where are the marks of prostration (in prayer)? Indeed our Shi'ites are known by their worship and their shaggy hair. Worship injures the inner corners of their eyes, their foreheads, and their limbs of prostration. Their 'Abdomens are hollow, and their lips are withered. They glorify Allah when the people keep silent, and they perform the prayers when the people sleep. They are sad when the people are happy. They are known by asceticism. And Paradise distract them (from this world)."
These qualities which the Ima`m, peace be on him, concern the special Shi'ites and the followers of the Ima`ms, peace be on them, such as 'Amma`r b. Ya`sir, Abu` Dharr, Salma`n al-Fa`risi, Maytham al-Tamma`r, and the like, whose souls were full of piety and righteousness, and who understood the message of Islam. As for the overwhelming majority of the Shi'ites, they are the lovers and followers of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them.
It is worth mentioning that following the Ima`ms, peace be on them, brings about forgiveness. This can be indicated through the following tradition which has been reported on his authority.
When he became ill, a group of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, came to visit him and asked him:
"Son of the Apostle of Allah, may our souls be ransom for you, how are you?"
"I am very well," replied the Ima`m, "I am grateful to Allah for that, and how are you?"
"We are very well," they answered, "Son of the Apostle of Allah, we love you and follow you."
So the Ima`m gave them good news of Heaven because they loved and followed the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, saying:
"Whoever loves us for Allah, Allah will make him dwell in a very shady place on the Day of Resurrection, the day when there will be no shade except His shade. Whoever loves to reward us, Allah will give him Heaven as a reward. Whoever loves us for this world, Allah will give him his livelihood from where he does not expect."( Nur al-Abbsar, p. 127).
His enjoining the Shi'ites to practice Precautionary Dissimulation
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, made it incumbent on his Shi'ites to conform to precautionary dissimulation because they witnessed critical conditions during the rule of the Umayyads, who spared no effort to look for the followers of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, and to kill them, thus the Ima`m enjoined his followers to practice precautionary dissimulation and to conceal their belonging to him. This order of the Ima`m, peace be on him, agreed with wisdom and the spirituality and essence of Islam. In this connection, he, peace be on him, said: "Allah forgives the believer every sin and purifies him from it in here and the hereafter except two sins, namely leaving precautionary dissimulation and losing his brothers (friends)."
Indeed precautionary dissimulation prevented the blood of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, from being shed during those black times when the Umayyads sought them everywhere and killed a great number of them to the extent that they (the Shi'ites) preferred belonging to the Jews and Christians to belonging to the followers of the Household of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family.
Those who have no awareness from among those who harbor malice against the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, condemned the Shi'a for precautionary dissimulation, for they did not know that it was an important Islamic measure for the Shi'ites to save themselves from being killed. Were it not for that the Shi'ites cleaved to precautionary dissimulation, no one would adopt the doctrine of the pure Ima`ms.
His Asking Forgiveness for the Shi'ite Sinners
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, loved his Shi'ites and followers to the extent that he supplicated for them every day, so he, peace be on him, said to Umm Farwa, daughter of al-Qa`sim b. Mohammed b. Abu` Bakr:
"I supplicate for the Shi'ite sinners a hundred times a day, for we are patient toward what we know, and they are patient toward what they do not know."(Al-Wafi, vol. 2, p. 183. 'Yyun al-Mu'jizat, p. 76).
This tradition shows that the Ima`m was kind to his Shi'ites, for he asked Allah, the Glorified, to forgive the Shi'ites and to be pleased with them. Therefore which kindness is better than this kindness?
His Behavior toward his Enemies
As for the behavior of the Ima`m toward his enemies, those who harbored malice against him, and those who wronged him, it was distinguished by kindness to them.
The historians said: "Isma`'il b. Hisha`m al-Makhzu`mi, the governor of Medina, harbored malice against the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, hurt Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, and cursed his grandfathers on the pulpits in order to seek nearness to the rulers of Damascus.
When al-Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik became caliph, he removed Isma`'il b. Hisha`m al-Makhzu`mi from office because of a previous enmity between them. He ordered him to be stood up before the people to take their rights from him. Isma`'il b. Hisha`m al-Makhzu`mi was very afraid of the Ima`m because he transgressed against him many times and mistreated him, so he said: 'I fear no one except 'Ali b. al-Husayn, for he is a righteous man, so the people will listen to his words concerning me.'
As for the Ima`m, he asked his companions and followers not to mistreat Isma`'il, and then he hurried to him smiled at him and said to him: 'Cousin, may Allah make you prosperous, what was done against you has displeased me and urged me to do what you love.' Isma`'il b. Hisha`m was astonished to hear these words of the Ima`m, thus he said with admiration: 'Allah knows better where to put His message."( Hayat al-Imam al-Baqir, vol. 1, p. 35. Tabaqat b. Sa'd, vol. 5, p. 220).
Now, let's carefully listen and consider to his holy supplication for his enemies, and those who wronged him:
"O Allah, if any of Your servants should harm me in what You have forbidden or violated me in what You have interdicted, and if he should pass into death with my complaint or I come to have a complaint against him while he is alive, forgive him what he did to me and pardon him that through which he turned his back on me! Inquire not from him about what he committed toward me and expose him not through what he earned by me! Make my openhandedness in pardoning such servants and my contribution in charity toward them the purest charity of the charitable and the highest gift of those seeking nearness to You! Recompense me for my pardoning them with Your pardon and for my supplicating for them with Your mercy so that each one of us may gain felicity through Your bounty and each may attain deliverance through Your kindness!"(Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya, supplication no. 39).
Indeed, there is no one in the history of mankind similar to Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, except his grandfathers. In his behavior he represented a matchless world of honor, nobility, and humanity.
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