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The Fourth Imam Ali ibn Al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) - Part 2

The Ibadah of Imam Zaynul Abideen (A.S.)

Holy Imam's titles Zaynul-'Abideen (adornment of worshippers) and Sayyidus-Sajideen (chief of those who prostrate) indicate that he was a great worshipper.

Few incidents from the life of Imam as-Sajjad (a).

Incident 1

Shaykh al-Mufid states in Kitaab al-Irshaad that once Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammd al-Baqir(A.S.) visited his father Imam 'Ali bin al-Husayn(A.S.). He saw that Imam as-Sajjad(A.S.) had reached an unprecedented state of 'ibadah. "His color had paled from keeping awake all night; eyes sored from weeping; forehead and nose bruised due to prolonged sajdahs; and his feet and ankles were swollen from standing in salaat." Such was the state of our fourth Imam during the worship that our fifth Imam says that he could not help breaking into tears. "I wept out of compassion that I felt for him," commented Imam al-Baqir(A.S.). Some time passed before the Imam realized that his son has come. Upon seeing him, Imam as-Sajjad(A.S.) asked for the parchments which describe the great 'ibadah of Imam 'Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S.). The fourth Imam read something from it and let it go from his hands in exasperation commenting, "Who has the strength to worship like 'Ali b. Abi Talib(A.S.).

Incident 2

Shaykh al-Toosi writes that once Abu Hamzah al-Thumaalee saw Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn(A.S.) saying his prayers and his cloak slipped from his shoulders. The Imam did not arrange it. After the prayers Abu Hamzah asked him about it. The Imam responded: Woe to you, don't you know before whom I stood (Wayhaka, atadaree bayna yaday man kuntu)?

Incident 3

It is said that Imam al-Sajjad(A.S.) did twenty hajj everytime travelling on foot Mecca.

Incident 4

The fourth Imam had a large farm of date trees. He offered two raka'at payers besides each date tree.

Incident 5

His daily practice of salaat. His father Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A.S.) states: "'Ali b. al-Husayn(A.S.), used to pray a thousand rak'aat during the day and the night. The wind would sway (his body) forward like an ear of corn." reports al-Mufid in al-Irshaad.

Incident 6

His style of entreating the Almighty is well known to all of us who have had a chance of reading from his famous du'as found in Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah.

Reflection on the Ibadah of theHoly Imam (A.S.)

Imam al-Sajjad(A.S.) used to say a lot of mustahab (supererogatory) prayers. The Imam also had to look after his family members (15 children), the poor and destitute, also his business ( e.g. date farms). It is said that he used to purchase hundreds of slaves whom he used feed, clothe, house and train them and then free them. All this required wealth. He used to work to earn this money.

Why would Imam al-Sajjad go on foot to Mecca. Crossing the desers of Arabia under that hot scorching sun, and those long distances! Why endure all these difficulties and hardships? He could have chosen, at least, camels instead of horses? Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate that when going to the House of God, one should adopt most humble and humiliating way. Or was it to show that when being grateful (doing shukr) for the unceasing favours from God one has to also give some time and put efforts when worshipping the Sustainer?

Why would the Imam weep so much that the eyes used to become sore? Was it due to the awe and fear of the Almighty? After all the Qur'an declares that the most fearful amongst God's creatures are the learned (35:28). The Imam was indeed learned and must have felt that he was unable to worship his Creator and Provider in a way that befits Him.


The Caravan to Hajj

A caravan of Muslims was headed towards Mecca. As it arrived in Madina, it rested a few days, and continued on towards Mecca.

On their way from Madina to Mecca, a man joined the group. This man noticed one of them who had the appearance of a guided person. He was eagerly busy in service of the passengers. The man recognized him. With much surprise, he asked the pilgrims if they knew this man who was at their service.

"No, we don't know him. He joined us in Madina. He is a descent and pious man. We haven't asked him for help. But he has been eager in helping us."

"Obviously you don't know him. For if you did, you would never have allowed a man like him to be at your service."

"Who is this person?"

"This is 'Ali ibn al-Hussein, Zain al-'Abideen(A.S.)."

The group stood with shame and apologized to the Holy Imam (A.S.). Then complaining to him, they said:
"Why did you treat us as such? We may have gone beyond our bounds in our ignorance, and would have commited a big sin in being disrespectful to you."

Imam (A.S.)

"I intentionally joined your group, for you didn't know me. When I join a group, where people know me, for the sake of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), they are very kind to me. They don't allow me to be of some service. Thus I was eager to join a group where I will be anonymous, so that I may have the honor of being of some service to my brethren." (1)


(1): Bihar, v.1 p.21

In Praise of Imam Zaynul Abideen (A.S.)

Farazdaq, in this poem, refers to the occasion when the Caliph Hisham b. Abd al Malik was overshadowed by the respect which people showed towards the great grandson of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hf), at the time of Hajj when both of the individuals were trying to reach the crowds around the Kaab'ah to get to the black stone. The people gave way to the Imam (as) while the Caliph struggled desperately. The Caliph, deeply offended, inquired in a sarcastic tone, who the person was who people had shown such preference.

Farazdaq, who was also present at the moment composed an ode and recited it, addressing himself to Hisham.

It is someone whose footsteps are known by every place
And it is he who is known to the Bayt in Mecca
the most frequented sanctuary;
It is he who is the son of the best of all men of God
and it is he who is the most pious and devout,
the purest and most unstained
the chastest and most righteous
a symbol [for Islam]
This is Ali [b. al Husayn] whose parent is the Prophet
This is the son of Fatima, if you do not know who he is
Whosoever recognizes his God knows also
the primacy and superiority of this man
Because the religion has reached nations
through his House.
History of the Cemeteryof Jannat al-Baqi
Where Four Holy Imams are Buried

On 8th Shawwal, Wednesday, in the year 1345 AH (April 21, 1925), mausoleums in Jannatul al-Baqi (Madina) were demolished by King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia.

In the same year (1925), he also demolished the tombs of holy personages at Jannat al-Mualla (Makkah) where the Holy Prophet (s)'s mother, wife, grandfather and other ancestors are buried.

Destruction of sacred sites in Hijaz by the Saudi Wahhabis continues even today. According to some scholars what is happening in Hijaz is actually a conspiracy plotted by the Jews against Islam, under the guise of Tawheed. The idea is to eradicate the Islamic legacy and heritage and to systematically remove all its vestiges so that in the days to come, Muslims will have no affiliation with their religious history.

The Origins of Al-Baqi

Literally "al-Baqi" means a tree garden. It is also known as "Jannat al-Baqi" due to its sanctity, since in it are buried many of our Prophet's relatives and companions.

The first companion buried in al-Baqi was Uthman b. Madhoon who died on the 3rd of Sha'ban in the 3rd year of Hijrah. The Prophet (S.A.W.) ordered certain trees to be felled, and in its midst, he buried his dear companion, placing two stones over the grave.

On the following years, the Prophet's son Ibrahim, who died in infancy and over whom the Prophet (S.A.W) wept bitterly, was also buried there. The people of Madina then began to use that site for the burial of their own dead, because the Prophet (S.A.W.) used to greet those who were buried in al-Baqi by saying, "Peace be upon you, O abode of the faithful! God willing, we should soon join you. O' Allah, forgive the fellows of al-Baqi".

The site of the burial ground at al-Baqi was gradually extended. Nearly seven thousand companions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) were buried there, not to mention those of the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.). Imam Hasan b. Ali (A.S.), Imam Ali b. al-Husayn (A.S.), Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A.S.), and Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.) were all buried there.

Among other relatives of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who were buried at al-Baqi are: his aunts Safiya and Aatika, and his aunt Fatima bint al-Asad, the mother of Imam Ali (A.S.). The third caliph Uthman was buried outside al-Baqi, but with later extensions, his grave was included in the area. In later years, great Muslim scholars like Malik bin Anas and many others, were buried there too. Thus, did al-Baqi become a well-known place of great historic significance to all Muslims.

Al-Baqi as viewed by historians

Umar bin Jubair describes al-Baqi as he saw it during his travel to Madina, saying "Al-Baqi is situated to the east of Madina. You enter it through the gate known as the gate of al-Baqi. As you enter, the first grave you see on your left is that of Safiya, the Prophet's aunt, and further still is the grave of Malik bin Anas, the Imam of Madina. On his grave is raised a small dome. In front of it is the grave of Ibrahim son of our Prophet (S.A.W.) with a white dome over it, and next to it on the right is the grave of Abdul-Rahman son of Umar bin al-Khattab, popularly known as Abu Shahma, whose father had kept punishing him till death overtook him. Facing it are the graves of Aqeel bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Ja'far al-Tayyar. There, facing those graves is a small shrine containing the graves of the Prophet's wives, following by a shrine of Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib.

The grave of Hasan bin Ali (A.S.), situated near the gate to it's right hand, has an elevated dome over it. His head lies at the feet of Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, and both graves are raised high above the ground, their walls are panelled with yellow plates and studded with beautiful star-shaped nails. This is how the grave of Ibrahim, son of the Prophet (S.A.W.) has also been adorned. Behind the shrine of Abbas there is the house attributed to Fatima(A.S.), daughter of our Prophet (S.A.W.), known as "Bayt al-Ahzaan" (the house of grief) because it is the house she used to frequent in order to mourn the death of her father, the chosen one, peace be upon him. At the farthest end of al-Baqi is the grave of the caliph Uthman, with a small dome over it, and there, next to it, is the grave of Fatima bint Asad, mother of Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S,)"

After a century and a half, the famous traveller Ibn Batuta came to describe al-Baqi in a way which does not in any way differ from the description given by Ibn Jubair. He adds saying, "At al-Baqi are the graves of numerous Muhajirin and Ansar and many companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), except that most of their names are unknown."

Thus, over the centuries, al-Baqi remained a sacred site with renovations being carried out as and when needed till the Wahhabis rose to power in the early nineteenth century. The latter desecrated the tombs and demonstrated disrespect to the martyrs and the companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) buried there. Muslims who disagreed with them were branded as "infidels" and were subsequently killed.

The First Destruction of Al-Baqi

The Wahhabis believed that visiting the graves and the shrines of the Prophets, the Imams, or the saints was a form of idolatry and totally un-Islamic. Those who did not conform with their belief were killed and their property was confiscated. Since their first invasion of Iraq, and till nowadays, in fact, the Wahhabis, as well as other rulers of the Gulf States, having been carrying out massacres from which no Muslim who disagreed with them was spared. Obviously, the rest of the Islamic World viewed those graves with deep reverence. Had it not been so, the two caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar would not have expressed their desire for burial near the grave of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.).

From 1205 AH to 1217 AH, the Wahhabis made several attempts to gain a foothold in Hijaz but failed. Finally, in 1217 AH, they somehow emerged victorious in Taif where they spilled the innocent blood of Muslims. In 1218 AH, they entered Makkah and destroyed all sacred places and domes there, including the one which served as a canopy over the well of Zamzam.

In 1221, the Wahhabis entered Madina to desecrate al-Baqi as well as every mosque they came across. An attempt was even made to demolish the Prophet's tomb, but for one reason or another, the idea was abandoned. In subsequent years, Muslims from Iraq, Syria, and Egypt were refused entry into Makkah for Hajj. King Al-Saud set a pre-condition that those who wished to perform the pilgrimage would have to accept Wahhabism or else be branded as non-Muslims, becoming ineligible for entry into the Haram.

Al-Baqi was razed to the ground, with no sign of any grave or tomb whatsoever. But the Saudis were still not quite satisfied with doing all of that. Their king ordered three black attendants at the Prophet's shrine to show him where the treasure of valuable gifts were stored. The Wahhabis plundered the treasure for their own use.

Thousands of Muslims fled Makkah and Madina in a bid to save their lives and escape from the mounting pressure and persecution at the hands of the Wahhabis. Muslims from all over the world denounced this Saudi savagery and exhorted the Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire to save the sacred shrines from total destruction. Then, as it is known, Muhammad Ali Basha attacked Hijaz and, with the support of local tribes, managed to restore law and order in Madina and Makkah, dislodging the Al-Saud clansmen. The entire Muslim world celebrated this victory with great fanfare and rejoicing. In Cairo, the celebrations continued for five days. No doubt, the joy was due to the fact that pilgrims were once more allowed freely to go for Hajj, and the sacred shrines were once again restored.

In 1818 AD, the Ottaman Caliph Abdul Majid and his successors, Caliphs Abdul Hamid and Mohammed, carried out the reconstruction of all sacred places, restoring the Islamic heritage at all important sites. In 1848 and 1860 AD, further renovations were made at the expense of nearly seven hundred thousand pounds, most of which came from the donations collected at the Prophet's tomb.

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