* * *
Allamah Tabatabai writes:
Imam Sajjad ('Ali ibn al-Husayn entitled
Zaynu'l-'Abidin and Sajjad) was the son of the Third Imam and his wife, the queen among
women, the daughter of Yazdgerd the King of Iran. IIe was the only son of Imam Husayn to
survive, for his other three brothers 'Ali Akbar, aged twenty-five, five-year-old Ja'far
and 'Ali al-Asghar (or 'Abdullah) who was a suckling baby were martyred during the event
of Karbala'. The Imam had also accompanied his father on the journey that terminated
fatally in Karbala', but because of severe illness and the inability to carry arms or
participate in fighting he was prevented from taking part in the holy war and being
martyred. So he was sent with the womenfolk to Damascus. After spending a period in
imprisonment he was sent with honour to Medina because Yazid wanted to conciliate public
opinion. But for a second time, by the order of the Umayyad caliph, 'Abdu 'l-Malik, he was
chained and sent from Medina to Damascus and then again returned to Medina. The Fourth
Imam, upon returning to Medina, retired from public life completely, closed the door of
his house to strangers and spent his time in worship. He was in con- tact only with the
elite among the Shi'ites such as Abu Hamzah ath-Thumali, Abu Khalid Kabuli and the like.
The elite disseminated among the Shi'ah the religious sciences they learned from the Imam.
In this way Shi'ism spread considerably and showed its effects during the Imamate of the
Fifth Imam. Among the works of the Fourth Imam is a book called Sahifah Sajjadiyyah. It
consists of fifty-seven prayers concerning the most sublime Divine sciences and is known
as "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet." The Fourth Imam died (according
to some Shl'ite traditions poisoned by al-Walid ibn 'Abdi 'l-Malik ibn Marwan through the
instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham) in 95/712 after thirty-five years of Imamate.
al-Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn, peace be Upon
Refrain from lying in all things, big or
small, in seriousness or in jest. For when one starts lying in petty matters, soon he will
have the audacity to lie in important matters (also).
A man need not fear Allah except on account
of his own sins, and should place his hopes only with his Lord. When about something one
does not know, one should not be ashamed of having to learn about it. And patience is to
faith what the head is to the body; one who does not have patience also lacks faith.
* * *
Ali ibn al-Husayn Zaynul-'Abidin
( Peace be Upon him )
Agnomen: Abu Muhammad.
Father's name: al-Husayn Sayyidu 'sh-Shuhada'.
Mother's name: Shahr Banu, daughter of Yazdeger III, the King of Persia.
Birth: In Medina, on Saturday, 15th Jumada 'I-ula 36 AH.
Death: Died at the age of 58, in Medina; poisoned by al-Walid ibn 'Abdi 'I-Malik ibn
Marwan on 25th Muharram 95 AH; buried in Jannatu 'I-Baqi', in Medina.
The holy Imam 'Ali Zaynu 'l-'Abidin is the
Fourth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as
"Zaynu'l-'Abidin". The mother of this Holy Imam was the royal personage, Shahr
Banu, the daughter of King Yazdgerd, the last pre-Islamic Ruler of Persia. Imam
Zaynu'l-'Abidin spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather
'All ibn Abi Talib and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle,
the second Holy Imam al-Hasan ibn 'All. In 61 AH, he was present in Karbala', at the time
of the gruesome tragedy of the wholesale massacre of his father, his uncles, his brothers,
his cousins and all the godly comrades of his father; and suffered a heartless captivity
and imprisonment at the hands of the devilish forces of Yazid. When Imam Husayn had come
for the last time to his camp to bid goodbye to his family, 'Ali Zaynu 'l-'Abidin was
lying semiconscious in his sickbed and hence he escaped the massacre in Karbala'. Imam
Husayn could only manage a very brief talk with the inmates of his camp and departed
nominating his sick son as Imam.
The Holy Imam Zaynu'l-'Abidin lived for
about thirty-four years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and
supplication to Allah and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being
in prayers to Allah, mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was
popularly called "Sajjad". The knowledge and piety of this Holy Imam was
matchless. az-Zuhrl, al-Waqid; and Ibn 'Uyaynah say that they could not find any one equal
to him in piety and godliness. He was so mindful of Allah that whenever he sat for
ablution for prayers, the complexion of his face would change and when he stood at prayer
his body was seen trembling. When asked why this was, he replied, "Know ye not before
whom I stand in prayer, and with whom I hold discourse?"
Even on the gruesome day of 'Ashura when
Yazid's forces had massacred his father, his kith and kin and his comrades and had set
fire to the camp, this Holy Imam was engrossed in his supplications to the Lord. When the
brutal forces of Yazid's army had taken the ladies and children as captives, carrying them
seated on the bare back of the camels, tied in ropes; this Holy Imam, though sick, was put
in heavy chains with iron rings round his neck and his ankles, and was made to walk
barefooted on the thorny plains from Karbala' to Kufah and to Damascus; and even then this
godly soul never was unmindful of his prayers to the Lord and was always thankful and
supplicative to Him. His charity was unassuming and hidden. After his passing away, the
people said that hidden charity ended with the departure of this Holy Imam. Like his
grand-father 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, 'Ali Zaynu'l-'Abidin used to carry on his own back at
night bags of flour and bread for the poor and needy families in Medina and he so
maintained hundred of poor families in the city.
The Holy Imam was not only hospitable even
to his enemies but also used to continually exhort them to the right path. Imam Zaynu
'l-'Abidin along with the Ahlu 'I-Bayt passed through dreadful and very dangerous times,
for the aggressions and atrocities of the tyrant rulers of the age had reached a climax.
There was plunder, pillage, and murder everywhere. The teachings of Islam were observed
more in their breach. The heartless tyrant al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ath-Thaqaf; was threatening
every one who professed allegiance or devotion to the Ahlu 'I-Bayt; and those caught were
mercilessly put to death. The movement of the Holy Imam was strictly restricted and his
meeting with any person was totally banned. Spies were employed to trace out the adherents
of the Ahlu 'I-Bayt. Practically every house was searched and every family scrutinized.
Imam Zaynu 'l-'Abidin was not given the time
to offer his prayers peacefully, nor could he deliver any sermons. This God's Vicegerent
on earth therefore, adopted a third course which proved to be very beneficial to his
followers. This was in compiling supplicative prayers for the daily use of man in his
endeavour to approach the Almighty Lord. The invaluable collection of his edited prayers
are known as as-Sahifah al-Kdmilah or as-Sahifah as-Sajjddiyyah; it is known also as
az-Zabur (Psalm) of Al Muhammad The collection is an invaluable treasury of wonderfully
effective supplications to the Lord in inimitably beautiful language. Only those who have
ever come across those supplications would know the excellence and the beneficial effect
of these prayers. Through these prayers the Imam gave all the necessary guidance to the
faithful during his seclusion. On the 25th of Muharram 95 AH when he was in Medina,
al-Walid ibn 'Abdi 'l-Malik ibn Marwan, the then ruler got this Holy Imam martyred by
poison. The funeral prayers for this Holy Imam were conducted by his son the Fifth Imam,
Muhammad al-Baqir and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannatu 'l-Baqi' in
(A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles, p.