The Fourth Imam Ali ibn Al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin(A.S.)
The fourth Holy Imam, Ali ibn Husayn Zain-ul-Abedin(A.S.) was born in Medina on 5th Shaban 38 A.H. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as "Zain-ul-Abedin". The mother of this Holy Imam was the royal personage, Shahr Banoo, the daughter of King Yazdjerd III, the last Sasanid emperor of Iran.
The Holy Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin(A.S.) spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib(A.S.) and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle, the second Holy Imam Hasan Ibn Ali(A.S.). In 61 H.A. 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 Yezid.
When Imam Husain(A.S.) had come for the last time to his camp to bid good-bye to his family, Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin(A.S.) was lying semi-conscious in his sick-bed and hence he escaped the massacre at Karbala. Imam Husain (A.S.) could only manage a very brief talk with the inmates of his camp and departed nominating his sick son as Imam.
The Holy Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin(A.S.) lived for about 34 years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and supplication to God and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being in prayers to God, Mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was popularly called "Sajjad".
On the 25th of Moharram A.H. when he was in Medina, Waleed bin Abdul Malik 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 (A.S.) and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery Jannat-ul-Baqi" in Medina.
No Imam began his Imamat in a more tragic atmosphere. The first day of his Imamat saw him seriously ill and a captive of the army of Yazid in Karbala. His father and predecessor had sacrificed all he had on the altar of truth; and Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) found himself with a group of helpless widows and orphans being led from place to place, from the durbar of Ibn Ziyad to the court of Yazid. Finally they were thrown into a prison, where the Imam spent the first year of his Imamat, cut off from the followers of his father and unable to look after their affairs.
Understandably, the tragedy of Karbala had created a chaos in the Shi'a world. Shi'as were in the throes of a dark pessimism, and the community was in disarray. A movement had already begun to accept Muhammad al Hanafiyah, son of Amir-ul-Mu'minin 'Ali as the 4th Imam. Muhammad al Hanafiyah himself had no such design. But the problem was: how to stop that movement without putting the life of Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) in danger?
Yazid had not hesitated to murder Imam Husayn(A.S.) in spite of the highest prestige the Imam had in the Muslims' eyes. It would have been far more easier for him to kill Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) a young man of 23 years of age, whose divine virtues were yet to shine before the Muslim community. And it was not in the interest of Islam that Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) be martyred so soon after Imam Husayn(A.S.).
Altogether, Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) had three difficult tasks before him:
To announce his Imamat publicly without seeming to oppose outsiders.
To weld the community together, making a "tasbih" (rosary) out of the scattered beads - doing it in such a way as not to give Yazid and Yazidites an excuse to retaliate.
To expand true faith, providing a beacon of light to guide the seekers of truth to the safety of true faith and virtuous deeds - doing it without attracting untoward attention of his enemies.
Any of these Himalayan tasks would have defeated a lesser being. But Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) under divine guidance did achieve all these aims in such a beautiful and unobtrusive way that even his followers, who tremendously benefited, and are benefiting, from his superb leadership did not consciously realise how they were being guided.
Announcement of His Imamat
This took the form of a family dispute:
Muhammad al-Hanafiyah claimed that he was the Imam after his brother, Imam Husayn (A.S.) as Imam Husayn(A.S.), had become Imam after the eldest brother, Imam Hasan(A.S.). Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) said that his uncle's claim was wrong; that he (i.e. Imam Zayn al-'Abidin) was Imam after his father, by divine appointment. This family "feud" apparently could not be resolved; and ultimately Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) suggested that the "Black Stone" (al-Hajarul-aswad) of Ka'bah be approached for its judgement. Muhammad al Hanafiyah readily agreed and both parties went to Mecca during Hajj season, when thousands of pilgrims had assembled for the pilgrimage.
The stranger than fiction news must have spread like wild fire that 'Imam Ali bin al-Husayn(a.S.) and Muhammad al-Hanafiyah wanted the Black Stone to judge between them. Everyone must have wondered how could a stone judge between two persons. They must have eagerly waited to see the outcome when the two parties would approach the Stone. What would they say when the Stone, being a stone, would not respond to their arguments!
This must have been the feeling of the crowd when the uncle and the nephew slowly advanced towards the Black Stone. First Muharnmad al-Hanafiyah talked to the Stone; there was no response. Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) said: "Had you, O Uncle, been the Wasi and Imam, it would certainly have answered you."
Muhammad al-Hanafiyah said "Now, O Nephew, you pray and ask it." Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) prayed to Allah and then asked the Black Stone to declare in clear Arabic as to who was the Wasi and Imam after Imam Husayn bin 'Ali(A.S.).
There was a tremor in the Stone and then Allah made it speak in clear Arabic: "O Allah, verily Wisayah and Imamah, after al-Husayn bin 'Ali is for Zayn al-'Abidin 'Ali bin al-Husayn, son of 'Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatimah bint Rasulillah." Muhammad al-Hanafiyah accepted the verdict and declared his allegiance for Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.).
(al-Ihtijaj of al-Tabrasi, al-Kafi of al-Kulaini, Basa'-erud-Darajat, A'lumul-wara, Manaqib of Ibn Shahr 'Ashob, Biharul-Anwar, Vol. XI, of Majlisi).
This "dispute" was the beginning of the end of the Kaisaniyah movement, which wanted to accept Muhammad al-Hanafiyah as Imam. The schism in the Shia rank was arrested; and as it was only a "family feud", Yazid could not object to it in any way.
But the miraculous nature of the episode and the timing served its purpose. The pilgrims on returning to heir homes must have felt compelled to narrate this strange event; and thus the Shi'as throughout the Muslim world came to know, without any formal proclamation, that Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) was their divinely-appointed Leader and Guide.
Uniting the Shia Community
This is an even more fascinating aspect of his Imamat.
How was he to unite all the Shi'as in an, ever-lasting bond? What was the factor which could join them permanently?
Philosophical exhortations? But they have effect on only small group of intellectuals; man-in-the-street is not influenced by them. Moreover, it cannot influence the "feelings"; and "unity" is a feeling of oneness. Some joyous aspects of religion? Joy and happiness is a "feeling", no doubt. But it does not necessarily "unite" the people. Many is the time when a man celebrates a joyous function and his brother refuses to join him, because of some minor misunderstandings. But let there be a tragedy in that house, and the same brother would rush therein to share that sorrow.
This tendency of human nature brings us to the third alternative Sorrow.
Sorrow and grief succeeds in binding the mourners together, while intellectual arguments and joyous functions fail to achieve that object. Have not you seen how at the time of a national tragedy all political differences are genuinely forgotten and how the whole nation unites together to share the sorrow and shoulder the resulting responsibilities? Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) under divine command selected this method to unite the community.
And again it was adopted apparently just as a personal way of life, without its being aimed against anyone.
Majlisi (in Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. XI) has written a chapter, "His mourning and Weeping on the Martyrdom of his Father, May Grace of Allah be on Both", in which he, inter alia, writes:
"And it is said that he [i.e. Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.)] continued to weep till his eyes were endangered. And whenever he took water to drink, he wept till the tears filled the pot. Someone talked to him about it and he replied: "Why should not I cry, when my father was denied the water which was free to the beasts and animals?
"And never was food brought to him but that he wept, so much so that a servant told him: "May I be your ransom, O Son of the Messenger of Allah! I am afraid that you would die (of this weeping)". The Imam said: 'I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah and I do not know. Never do I remember the massacre of the children of Fatimah but that tears strangle me.'"
Naturally, this example set by their Imam was followed by the Shias every where; and they joined hands to establish mourning of Imam Husayn(A.S.) whenever possible. This created a feeling of oneness and unity in all persons attending those mourning-sessions.
And how could Yazid or Yazidites tell Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) not to remember his father?
This institution of mourning became the focal-point of all religious activities of the Shia community and the life-line of their faith. In later periods, the enemies of the faith realised the vital role which the "mourning" plays in religious education and character-building of the Shias, and they tried to stop it by the force of their "Fatwa". Now they have changed their tactics. Now they ask: Why should one mourn for an event which occurred more than 1300 years ago? They ask it while they are fully aware that these mourning sessions (Majalis) are the best-organised, well-attended religious schools, where the participants willingly learn the basic tenets of faith, are exhorted to emulate the way of life of Ahl ul-Bayt(A.S.); and thus their Islamic outlook on the life and the world is fortified.
This seat of learning was given to the Shi'a community by Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) so unobtrusively that even the community did not realise its importance and significance in the beginning.
Teaching True Islam
The previous two tasks were stepping-stones to reach this most important of his responsibilities. We have seen how the Imam announced his Imamat by means of a "family feud", and how he gave his followers a platform of unity in the form of his mourning for his father. In neither instance he addressed any outsider; still the message got through. Likewise, in meeting this third and most important of his tasks, he did not address any human being. He selected the form of Du'a (invocation) for this purpose. He recorded his Du'as in a book form and asked his two sons to make copies of the book. This recording itself is an, indication that these invocations were not just a prayer, but also a means of guidance for the Muslims.
How could anyone tell him not to ask his wants from Allah? How could anyone come between Allah and His servant, when raising his hands he called his Lord in a heart-rending voice to come to his aid and to help him out of his difficulties. But those recorded duas are a treasure of Islamic knowledge. One finds in them almost all theological and ethical questions answered eloquently and eruditely. Reading them, the heart is filled with true belief and sincere love of Allah; and the light of virtue and nobleness illuminates the character.
It is not possible to give here even a short review of this sacred book, generally known as"As-Sahifatus-Sajjadiyah" and "As-Sahifatul-Kamilah"; and also called "Psalm of 'Ale Muhammad" and "Injil of Ahlul Bait."
When this book was shown to Egyptian scholars, they were thunderstruck and awed by its beauty. They were amazed and stunned by the purity of thought and perfection of character to which this book irresistibly leads its reader.
The renowned scholar, late Al-Tantawi wrote:
"I have studied this book with utmost care. I have gone through the Du'as (invocations) and Munajats (supplications) with a searching eye. I was stunned by the lofty meanings and deep sense contained therein. I was deeply impressed by the value and magnificence of these invocations. I wonder how the Muslims all along been ignorant of such valuable treasure. They have been in deep slumber all these centuries. They could not even feel that Allah had supplied them with such a precious store of knowledge.
"The invocations in this book have two distinct approaches: the one seeks for the knowledge and guidance to keep away from sins and evil things, while the other persuades and exhorts one to enable one's 'self' by performance of virtuous deeds. We may say that these Invocations, full of knowledge and guidance, are a wonderful treasure of secrets, and contain hints regarding self-reproachment, admission of shortcomings, with tears and self-purification, warding off vicissitudes and difficulties, safe-guarding oneself from the tyrannies of the enemy, recovery from various diseases and so on. All such Du'as are found mostly in the first part of the book, while the later part consists of the loftiness and grandeur of Allah, His creation and other wonders of His power and might.
"Is it not wonderful? Does not it show that these holy personages are unveiling many secrets of learning and unravellirig many mysteries of knowledge for Muslims, who happen to be completely ignorant of it. It is a fact that the affairs of human beings are divided into two parts: The one is to keep away from evil, the other to acquire good traits together with the knowledge of Divine existence, which is essential for self-purification and spiritual perfection."
Then he goes on expounding these points with help of many invocations. In another article, he compares an invocation of Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) with the prayer of the Prophet Nuh (Noah). Just to give an example of the high religious and ethical standard taught by our Holy Imam, I am quoting here extracts from a Du'a, known as Makarim-ul-Akhlaq (Noble Character). This Du'a is enough to lead the reciter on the right path, making him a perfect Muslim and a virtuous believer.
O Lord, Thou art my shelter if I grow sad, and Thou art my resource if I am in need and unto Thee I cry for help, when deeply afflicted, and with Thee is recompense for what is lost, and reformation for what is corrupted, and alteration for what Thou disapprovest:
Therefore, favour me with security before calamity, and bounty before begging (for it) and right direction before error and spare me from bearing me peace on the day of resurrection and favour me with hand some guidance.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and ward off (evil) from me with Thy grace, and nourish me with Thy blessing, and reform me with Thy graciousness and cure me with Thy goodness and hide me in the shelter of Thy mercy and clothe me with Thy approbation, and help me, when matters grow difficult about me, (to choose) the most righteous of them, and when actions become dubious, (to select) the purest of them, and when the creeds conflict, (to adopt) the most praiseworthy of them.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and crown me with sufficiency and adorn me with the grace of Thy love and grant me true guidance and do not try me with prosperity and confer on me the beauty of comfort and do not make my life a succession of trials, and do not reject my prayer with repulsion; for, I do not recognise any as Thy rival, and I do not call upon any as Thy equal.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and restrain me from extravagance and preserve my subsistence from waste and increase my possessions by giving blessing therein and let me walk along the path of benevolence; in whatever I spend my (wealth).
In this way Imam Zayn al-'Abidin(A.S.) spent his life providing guidance not only for the Muslims of his time, but also for the generations to come. When he left this world, he had more than accomplished all that he was entrusted with by Allah.
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).
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.).
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)?
It is said that Imam al-Sajjad(A.S.) did twenty hajj everytime travelling on foot Mecca.
The fourth Imam had a large farm of date trees. He offered two raka'at payers besides each date tree.
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.
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."
"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.
The Second Plunder by the Wahhabis
The Ottoman Empire had added to the splendor of Madina and Makkah by building religious structures of great beauty and architectural value. Richard Burton, who visited the holy shrines in 1853 AD disguised as an Afghan Muslim and adopting the Muslim name Abdullah, speaks of Madina boasting 55 mosques and holy shrines. Another English adventurer who visited Madina in 1877-1878 AD describes it as a small beautiful city resembling Istanbul. He writes about its white walls, golden slender minarets and green fields.
1924 AD Wahhabis entered Hijaz for a second time and carried out another merciless plunder and massacre. People in streets were killed. Houses were razed to the ground. Women and children too were not spared.
Awn bin Hashim (Shairf of Makkah) writes: "Before me, a valley appeared to have been paved with corpses, dried blood staining everywhere all around. There was hardly a tree which didn't have one or two dead bodies near its roots."
1925 Madina surrendered to the Wahhabi onslaught. All Islamic heritage were destroyed. The only shrine that remained intact was that of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.).
Ibn Jabhan says: "We know that the tomb standing on the Prophet's grave is against our principles, and to have his grave in a mosque is an abominable sin."
Tombs of Hamza and other martyrs were demolished at Uhud. The Prophet's mosque was bombarded. On protest by Muslims, assurances were given by Ibn Saud that it will be restored but the promise was never fulfilled. A promise was given that Hijaz will have an Islamic multinational government. This was also abandoned.
1925 AD Jannat al-Mu'alla, the sacred cemetery at Makkah was destroyed alongwith the house where the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) was born. Since then, this day is a day of mourning for all Muslims.
Is it not strange that the Wahhabis find it offensive to have the tombs, shrines and other places of importance preserved, while the remains of their Saudi kings are being guarded at the expense of millions of dollars?
Protest from Indian Muslims
1926, protest gatherings were held by shocked Muslims all over
the world. Resolutions were passed and a statement outlining the crimes perpetrated by Wahhabis was issued and included the following:
The destruction and desecration of the holy places i.e. the birth place of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the graves of Banu Hashim in Makkah and in Jannat al-Baqi (Madinah), the refusal of the Wahhabis to allow Muslims to recite Ziyarah or Surah al-Fatiha at those graves.
The destruction of the places of worship i.e. Masjid Hamza, Masjid Abu Rasheed, in addition to the tombs of Imams and Sahaba (Prophet's companions).
Interference in the performance of Hajj rituals.
Forcing the Muslims to follow the Wahhabis innovations and to abandon their own ways according to the guidance of the Imams they follow.
The massacre of sayyids in Taif, Madina, Ahsa, and Qatif.
The demolition of the grave of the Imams at al-Baqi which deeply offended and grieved all Shias.
Protest from other countries
Similar protests were lodged by Muslims in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey. All of them condemn the Saudi Wahhabis for their barbaric acts. Some scholars wrote tracts and books to tell the world the fact that what was happening in Hijaz was actually a conspiracy plotted by the Jews against Islam, under the guise of Tawheed. The idea was 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.
A partial list of the demolished graves and shrines
· Al-Mualla graveyard in Makkah which includes the grave of Sayyida Khadija bint Khuwailid (A.S.), wife of the Prophet (S.A.W.), the grave of Amina bint Wahab, mother of the Prophet (S.A.W.), the grave of Abu Talib, father of Imam Ali (A.S.), and the grave of Abdul Muttalib, grandfather of the Prophet (S.A.W.)
· The grave of Hawa (Eve) in Jeddah
· The grave of the father of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in Madina
· The house of sorrows (bayt al-Ahzan) of Sayyida Fatima (A.S.) in Madina
· The Salman al-Farsi mosque in Madina
· The Raj'at ash-Shams mosque in Madina
· The house of the Prophet (A.S.) in Madina, where he lived after migrating from Makkah
· The house of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.) in Madina
· The complex (mahhalla) of Banu Hashim in Madina
· The house of Imam Ali (A.S.) where Imam Hasan (A.S.) and Imam Husayn (A.S.) were born
· The house of Hamza and the graves of the martyrs of Uhud
Short Maxims of Imam Zainul Abedin(A.S.)
1 - The highest grade of conviction is to satisfy yourself with the detested act of Allah.
2 - He who honors himself will debase the worldly life.
3 -As he was asked to define the greatest of people, Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) said: The greatest of people is that who does notsee the world as great.
4 -Before Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.), a man said: O Allah, make me do without people," The Imam instructed: This is not accurate. People are in the service of each other. You should say: O Allah, make me do without the evil ones.
5-The richest of people is that who is satisfied with what Allah has chosen for him.
6 -A deed that accompanies God-fearing will not be decreased. How can an accepted deed be decreased?
7 - Avoid telling lies, whether they were significant or venial, or in serious or humorous situations, for a man who tells a trivial lie will surely dare to tell a big one.
8 - To see your enemy plunging in acts of disobedience to Allah because of you is a sufficient victory from Allah to you.
9 -The whole goodness is to protect yourself (against all that which is unacceptable).
10 -Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) said to one of his sons: O son, Allah has accepted me (as a father) for you and has not accepted you (as a son) for me; hence, He has commanded you (to obey me) and has not commanded me (to obey you). Adhere to charity; it is surely a small gift.
11 - Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) answered the man who asked him a definition for ascetics: Ascetics is of ten grades the highest of which the lowest grade of piety. The highest grade of piety is the lowest grade of conviction. The highest grade of conviction is the lowest grade of satisfaction. Ascetics is (summarized) in Allah's saying: "... so that you would not grieve over what you have lost nor become too happy about what Allah has granted to you.( Holy Qur'an 57:23)
12 - Asking from people is the humility of life, the remover of pudency, and the debasement of reverence. It is the permanent poverty. Lack of asking from people is the permanent richness.
13 -The most favorable of you to Allah is certainly the owner of the best deeds. The doer of the best deed to Allah is the most desirous (for Allah's bounty and rewards). The most saved from Allah's agony is the most fearful of Allah. The closest to Allah is the most well-mannered. The most accepted by Allah is the most generous to His family members. The most honorable for Allah is the most God-fearing.
14 - Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) said to one of his sons: O son, do not associate, talk, or accompany five classes of people. "Who are they, father?" asked the son, and the Imam (A.S.) asnwered: Beware of associationg with the liar, for he is as same as mirage: he shows you the near as remote and shows you the remote as near. Beware of associationg with the sinful, for he will disappoint you for a single bite or even something less valuable. Beware of associating with the stingy, for he will let you down when you are in urgent need of his property. Beware of associating with the foolish, for he harms you when he intends to do you favor. Beware of associating with the disregardful of his relatives, for I found him cursed in the Book of Allah.
15- Knowledge and the perfect religion is to avoid intruding into unconcerned matters, dispute others rarely, show clemency and steadfastness, and be well-mannered.
16 -O son of Adam-man-: You are on the right as long as you are admonished by your own self, care very much for maintaining judgment with yourself, and betake fear as your slogan and caution as your garment. O son of Adam: You will unquestionably be dead, resurrected, and standing before your Lord the Majestic. You should prepare an answer for all that.
17 - No Qureishite and no Arab (should take pride in his) lineage without modesty. No generosity without God-fearing. No deed without (honest) intention. No worship without knowledge. The most hated of people to Allah is he who believes in an Imam's traditions but does not copy his deeds.
18 -For his supplication (to Allah), the believer gains one of three things: the supplication is saved for him, he is responded immediately, or he is saved for the befalling of an imminent misfortune.
19 -The very hypocrite is that who warns people (against evil deeds) but he does not stop committing them and orders them (to do good acts) but he does not do (such acts). When he stands for offering the prayer he turns right and left, when he genuflects (in the prayer) he huddles, and when he prostrates himself, he pecks. In evenings, his only concern is dinner while he was not fasting. In mornings, his only concern is to sleep while he has not passed (the last) night with worship. The believer, on the other hand, mixes his acts with clemency; he sits down so that he may learn (something); he keeps silent so that he may save himself, he does not divulge his secrets before his friends (even); he does not conceal witnessing for the strangers; he does not act any rightful action out of showing off, he does not neglect any act out of pudency; if he is praised, he fears sayings of the eulogists and seeks Allah's forgiveness for what they do not know; he does not care for the ignorance of those who ignore him.
20 -Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) said to a man who had just been cured from an ailment: Congratulations for the acquittal of the sins. Allah has referred to you; therefore, you should mention Him, and has saved you; therefore, you should thank it for Him.
21 - If you ride for obtaining these five things, you will extermely fatigue your riding animals before you can attain them. They are as follows: The servant (of Allah) should fear nothing except his sins and hope for nothing except his Lord. The ignorant (of a certain question) should not be too shy to learn-or-the unknowledgeable of a question should not be too shy to learn what he ignores. The scholar should not be too shy to confess of their ignorance of a question about which they are asked. The relation of patience to faith is same as the relation of the head to the body. On that account, the impatient are faithless.
22 - Allah says: O son of Adam, satisfy yourself with that which I have given to you and you will be the most abstinent of people. O son of Adam, carry out the duties that I have made incumbent upon you and you will be the best worshipper of people. O son of Adam, avoid acting matters that I have deemed forbidden and you will be the most pious of people.
23 - Many are those whom are deceived by comendation. Many are those whom are swindled by the firm covering up (of their sins). Many are those whom are trapped by favors and graces that they receive.
24 -How bad those whose ones overcome their tens are! (One good deed will be rewarded tenfold, while bad deeds will be reompencsed one for one.
25- This world is about to turn tail and the life to come is about to approach. Each this world and the life to come has its sons. Thus, line up with the sons of the life to come and do not be the sons of this world. Be with those who abstain from (chasing) the worldly pleasures and desire for the (permanent bliss of the) life to come.
The abstinent are those who betake the land of Allah as mat, dust as bed, rocks as pillow, water as odor, and they cut their livelihood in this world. You should know that he whoever longs for Paradise dashes to the good deeds and forgets the passion. Whoever is concerned about the fire (of Hell) takes the initiative to repent to Allah from the sins and stops committing the forbidden matters.
Whoever disregards this world will look upon its misfortunes as ineffectual and will not hate it. There are the servants of Allah whose hearts are deeply attracted to the life to come and its rewards. They behave as if they have seen the people of Paradise living therein eternally with ultimate bliss and seen the people of Hell suffering agony therein.
People are saved from the evils and troubles of such ones. because their hearts are engaged in fear of Allah and away from people. Their sights ae lowered against the forbidden and their needs for people are light. They satisfied themselves with the few livelihood of Allah-namely the food. They tolerated short days for the sake of being saved from the long regret on the Day of Resurrection.
26 -As a man said to him, "I love you very much for Allah's sake, "Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) nodded the head down and said: O Allah, I seek your guard against my being loved for Your sake while You dislike me."The Imam kept silent for while, they he (A.S.) said: I love you for Him for the sake of Whom you love me.
27 - Allah certainly dislikes the stingy that asks others importunately.
28 -Many are those who are deceptively proud. They begin their days with amusement and guffaw. They eat and drink blissfully while they do not know that Allah has become discontent with them so intensely that they will surely endure the fire of Hell.
29 -To spend moderately in times of poverty, give generously in times of luxury, treat people fairly, and greet them initiatively-these manners are within the characters of the believers.
30 -Three conducts save the believers: to stop saying bad wording or backbiting people, engage oneself in matters that will benefit in the Last Judgment as well as this world, and weep heavily for one's guilt.
31 - Looks of mutual affection and amiability between the believers is a sort of worship.
32 - A believer who enjoys the following three characters will be under the care of Allah Who will cast a shadow over him on the Day of Resurrection under His Divine Throne and will save him from the horror of the Grand Day. These three characters are to offer people what you ask them to offer you, to stop extending a hand or treading a single step before you know whether they will be in the obedience or disobedience to Allah, and to stop finding a fault with somebody before you get rid of that fault. A man's faults are sufficient concerns that engage from plunging into others' faults.
33 - After the acknowledgment of Allah, nothing is more favorable for Him than moderation in eating and (sexual) chastity. The most favorable act to Allah is to supplicate to Him.
34 -Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) said to his son Mohammed Baqir(A.S.): Do favor to everybody who asks for it; if he deserves it, then you have hit the target, otherwise you have become one of the people of favors. Accept the apology of him who reviled at you from your right side, then turned to your left to make an apology.
35-Sitting with the virtuous ones urges virtue, adherence to the ethics of the scholars improves the intelligence, Compliance with the men of authority (namely the sinless Imams(A.S.) is the perfect dignity, investment of the property is the perfect personality, guiding the seeker of counsel is a fulfillment of the rights of graces, and abstinence from harming people is a part of the perfection of mind. It also achieves the immediate and gradual physical comfort.
36 -Imam As-Sajjad(A.S.) used to say whenever he recited Allah's saying: "Had you wanted to count the bounties of Allah, you would not have been able to do it" Holy Qur'an 14:34
All praise be to Him Who has not enabled anybody to acknowledge all his favors except through the acknowledgment of the failure to acknowledge them properly. He also has not enabled anybody to acknowledge His Essence properly except through the knowledge that Allah is beyond knowledge. He, the All-powerful the Majestic, has thanked the acknowledgment of the knowledgeable one's being too short to know Him perfectly. He has also regarded their acknowledgment of their failure to acknowledge Him perfectly as their showing Him gratitude. Similarly, Allah has regarded the knowledgeable one's acknowledgment of His being beyond knowledge as faithful believing (in Him).This is because He has comprehended the servant's limits that they cannot exceed.
37 - All praise be to Him Who has regarded the acknowledgment of His favors as praise. All praise be to Him who has regarded the acknowledgment of the failure to thank Him properly as showing him gratitude.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin's Acts of Worship
The Muslims unanimously agreed that Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was the most worshipful of all the people, and the most obedient of them to Allah, the Exalted. The people never saw a person like him in great turn to Allah in repentance and worship. The pious and the righteous admired him, and it is sufficient for him that only he was given the nick-name of Zayn al-'Abidin (the ornament of the worshippers) and Sayyid al-Sa`jjidin (the lord of those who prostrate themselves in prayer).
As for his worship, it was not traditional; rather it resulted from his firm faith in Allah, the Most High, and his perfect knowledge of Him. He worshipped Allah not due to desire of His garden, nor did he worshipped him out of fear of His fire; rather he found Him worthy of worshipping, Hence he worshipped Him.
He was similar to his grandfather, Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, the Lord of the knowers, and the Ima`m of the Allah-fearing, who worshipped Allah with the worship of the free, Hence his grandson, Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, followed him when he said:
"I hate to worship Allah and I have no objective except His reward; therefore I will be like the desirous servant, who works when he is desirous; otherwise he does not work. I hate to worship Him because of fear of His torment, Hence I will be like the bad servant, who works when he is afraid."
One of those who were sitting interrupted him and said to him: "How do you worship Allah?"
The Ima`m answered him faithfully: "I worship Allah through his bounties and blessings (toward me), Hence He is worthy of (worship).( Al-'Askari, Tafsir, p. 132).
The Ima`m's worship resulted from his knowledge which was void of doubts and imaginations. It did come out of desire or fear; rather it issued from firm faith (in Allah). He, peace be on him, talked about the kinds of worship, saying: "If people worship Allah, the Great and Almighty, because of fear (of Him), their worship is (similar to that) of slaves.
If they worship Him because of desire, their worship (similar to that) of traders, and if they worship Him to show gratefulness toward him, their worship is that of the free."(Siffwat al-Safwa, vol. 1, p. 53. Shadhrat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 105. Hulyat al-Awliya', vol. 3, p. 134. Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, vol. 9, p. 105. Durrar al-Abkar, p. 70).
These are the kinds of worship and obedience; the heaviest of them in scale and the most lovable of them for Allah is the worship of the free, which is gratefulness to the Almighty Benefactor, not because of craving for His reward nor because of fear of His punishment. The Ima`m, peace be on him, underlined this in another tradition of his, saying: "The worship of the free is thankfulness to Allah, not because of fear and desire."(AlKawakib al-Durriya, vol. 2, p. 139).
The Ima`m's love for Allah was firm in his heart and sentiments, Hence it was among his qualities. The narrators said: "He (Zayn al-'Abidin) always worshipped Allah and obeyed him." A slave girl of his was asked about his worship and she answered: "Shall I elaborate (on it) or shall I (talk about it) briefly?"
"Briefly," was the answer.
"I did not bring him food by day nor did I spread for him bed by night," the slave girl answered.(Al-Khisal, p. 488).
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, spent most his lifetime fasting by day and praying by night. He was busy praying or giving charity in secret. It is certain that there is no person in the history of the ascetics and worshippers like 'Ali b. al-Husayn in loyalty and obedience to Allah. Now, we will mention some acts of his worship:
His Ritual Ablution
As for ablution, it is light and purity from sins and is the first act for prayer. The Ima`m, peace be on him, always performed the ritual ablution. The narrators talked about his humility to Allah during his ablution, saying:
"When he used to perform ritual ablutions, his skin would turn yellow. Hence his family asked him: 'What is it that has afflicted you?'"
He answered them with fear of Allah, saying: "Don't you know Whom I am preparing to stand before?"(Durr al-Abkar, p. 70. Nihayat al-Irab, vol. 21, p. 326. Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', vol. 4, p. 238. Al-Ithaf bi Hub al-Ashraf, p. 49, Akhbar al-Diwal, p. 109. Hulyat al-Awliya', vol. 3, p. 132. Al-'Aqdd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 103).
He took great care of his ablution to the extent that no one helped him with it. He himself brought water for his ritual ablutions and prepared it before he slept. When he got up at night, he started with tooth cleanser (siwak) , and then he performed his ablution. Having finished it, he began praying.( Saffwat al-Siffwa, vol. 2, p. 52. Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', vol. 4, p. 38).
As for prayer, it is the journey of every believer (to the seven heavens) and is the sacrifice of every pious one, as it is in the tradition. Prayer was among the most important desires of the Ima`m, peace be on him. Through it he communicate with Allah, the Creator of the universe and Giver of life. He shook all over when he wanted to pray, Hence he was asked about that, and he replied: "Don't you know Whom I am preparing to stand before and to Whom I am going to whisper (in prayer)?"(Wasilat al-Mal, p. 207. Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', vol. 4, p. 38. Saffwat al-Saffwa. vol. 2, p. 52).
We will mention some of his affairs during his prayers and perfuming himself:
Perfuming his Garments
When the Ima`m wanted to pray, he perfumed himself from a bottle which he put in the room of his prayers,(. Al-Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46. p. 58).
which was full of musk.
His Garments during his Prayer
When the Ima`m wanted to pray, he wore coarse woolen garments(Al-Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46. p. 58).in order to behave humbly before the Almighty Creator.
His Humbleness during his Prayer
As for the prayer of the Ima`m, peace be on him, it represented full devotion to Allah, the Exalted, and freedom from the material world. He did not feel the things around him; rather he did not feel even himself, for his heart clung to Allah. The narrators described him during the time of his prayer, saying:
"When he stood to perform the ritual prayer, his skin would turn yellow, and he shook all over because of fear of Allah. He stood during his prayer as the abased slave who stood before a great king. He prayed with the prayer of the one who would leave (the world). He thought that he would never pray again."
Ima`m al-Ba`qir talked about the humbleness of his father during his prayer, saying: "When 'Ali b. al-Husayn stood to perform his ritual prayers, he was like the trunk of a tree. Nothing of him moved except that which the wind moved."(Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 4, p. 685).
Aba`n b. Taghlub related to Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him, the prayer of his grandfather, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, saying: "When 'Ali b. al-Husayn stood to perform the ritual prayers, his skin would turn yellow." Hence Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him, admired his grandfather and said: "By Allah, 'Ali b. al-Husayn knew Him before
Whom he stood."(Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 2, p. 286. Al-Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 79). Yes, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin completely knew the mightiness of the Wise Creator, Hence he worshipped Him due to knowledge and obeyed Him because of faith.
Among the aspects of his humbleness during his prayer was that when he prostrated, he did not raise his head until he oozed sweat as if he sank in water, for he wept abundantly.(Al-Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 108).
The narrators reported on the authority of Abu` Hamza al-Thuma`li, who said: "I saw the Ima`m praying and his clock falling off one of his shoulders. He did not set it right, Hence I asked him, and he answered me: 'Woe unto you! Didn't you know before Whom I had been? (Allah) does not accept the servant's prayer unless his heart clings to Him."('Ilal al-Sharai', p. 88. Al-Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 61. Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 4, p. 688).
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin clung to Allah to the extent that one of his sons fell into a well, and the people of Medina hurried to him and saved him from the well, while the Ima`m was standing in prayer in his mihrab and did not know that. When he had finished his prayer, he was told about that, and he said: "I did not feel that, for I was whispering to the Almighty Lord.(Akhbar al-Diwal, p. 110. 3. Majjlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 99).
A fire occurred in the Ima`m's house, but he paid no attention to the fire, for he was busy praying. When he had finished his prayer, he was asked about that, and he replied: "The greatest fire (in the hereafter) distracted me from this fire!"(Saffwat al-Saffwa, vol. 2, p. 52. Al-Muntazam, vol. 6, p. 141. Nihayat al-Irab)
'Abd al-Karim al-Qushayri explained this wonderful aspect, which accompanied the Ima`m during his prayer, saying: "The heart sometimes becomes heedless of knowing the affairs of creatures, for it is busy pondering that which comes to it. It becomes inattentive of feeling itself or other than it when it remembers a reward or a punishment.."
A one thousand Ruk'a` Prayer
The biographers unanimously agreed that Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, prayed one thousand Ruk'a`s by day and night., and that he had five hundred date-palms, Hence he said two ruk'as by each date-palm.. As he prayed abundantly, he had calluses like those of the camel on the places of his prostration. Some calluses fell off every year, and he put them into a bag. When he passed away, they were buried with him.
His Performing the Superfluous Prayer (nawa`fil)
No superfluous prayer escaped the Ima`m throughout his life. He performed at night the prayers that escaped him by day. He advised his children to perform such prayers and said to them: "My children, these (prayers) are not obligatory for you, but I want you to habituate yourselves to them.."
His Abundant Prostration (in prayer)
The servant is close to his Lord when he is in the state of prostration, as it is in the tradition. Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, prostrated himself abundantly for his Lord to show submission to Him and lowliness before Him. The narrators said: "One day, he (Zayn al-'Abidin) went to the desert, and a retainer of his followed him. The retainer found him prostrating on a coarse stone and heard him saying one thousand times: There is no god but Allah in all certainty! There is no god but Allah in worship and slavery! There is no god but Allah in faith and truth!(Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 4, p. 981)
He performed the prostration of thanks and said during it one hundred times: "Praise belongs to Allah, thanks (be to Allah)!" After that he said: "O Possessor of favor which never ceases, and which none other than Him can count! O Possessor of kindness which never comes to an end! O Generous! O Generous!" Then he prayed humbly (to Allah) and mentioned his need.(Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 4, p.1079)
His Abundant Glorification
The Ima`m was always busy mentioning, glorifying, and praising Allah. He glorified Allah with these brilliant words: "Glory be to Him whose light illumines every darkness. Glory be to Him Who predetermines every power through His power. Glory be to Him Who has concealed Himself from the servants through the ways of their souls, Hence there is nothing to conceal Him. Glory and praise belong to Allah."(Al-Quttb al-Rawandi, Da'awat, p. 34)
His Performing the Night Prayer frequently
Among the superfluous prayers (nawafil) which Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, performed was the night prayer. He frequently performed it during travel and at home 1 until he met the Highest Comrade (Allah).
His Supplication after the Night Prayer
When he, peace be on him, had finished the night prayer, he supplicated with this holy supplication, which is among the outstanding supplications of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them. It is as follows:
"O Allah, O Possessor of kingdom perpetual in everlastingness, authority invincible without armies or helpers, might abiding through aeons past, years gone by, times and days elapsed! Your authority is mighty with a might that knows no bound by being first nor utmost end by being last! Your kingdom towers high with a towering before which all things fall down without reaching its term; the least of it which You have kept to Yourself is not reached by the furthest description of the descripers! Attributes go astray in You, descriptions fall apart below You the subtlest of imaginations are bewildered by Your magnificence!
Hence are You, Allah, the first in Your firstness, and Hence are You everlastingly. You do not pass away. However, I am the slave feeble in works, immense in hopes. Your tying links are outside my hand, except what is tied by Your mercy; the bounds of hopes have been cut away from me, except the pardon to which I hold fast. Little on my part is the obedience toward You upon which I count, and great against me the disobedience toward You to which I have reverted. However, pardoning Your slave will not constrain You, even if he be bad, Hence pardon me!"
This paragraph of his supplication contains glorifying Allah, professing belief in His unity, and mentioning some of His exalted attributes such as kingdom perpetual in everlastingness and authority invincible without armies or helpers, Hence attributes and descriptions are unable to depict Allah, the Most High.
Then the Ima`m goes on showing absolute humility, submission, and slavery to Allah, the Exalted, saying:
"O Allah, You commanded me, and I refrained, You prohibited me, and I committed. Evil thoughts tempted me to offend, and I was negligent. I cannot call upon daytime to witness my fasting, nor can I seek sanctuary in night because of my vigil; no sunna praises me for keeping it alive, only Your obligations, he who neglects which has perished.
I cannot seek access to You through the excellence of a supererogatory work, given the many duties of Your obligations of which I have been heedless and the stations of Your bounds which I have transgressed, thereby violating sacred things and committing great sins, though You have given my safety from their disgraces as a covering. This is the station of him who is ashamed of himself before You, angry with himself, and satisfied with You. He meets You with a humble soul, a neck bent down, a back heavy with offenses, hesitating between longing for You and fear of You.
You are the most worthy of those in whom he might hope, the most deserving for him to dread and fear. Hence give me, my Lord, what I hope for, make me secure against what frightens me, and act kindly toward me with the kindly act of mercy! Surely You are the most generous of those from whom are asked!"
The Ima`m, the monk of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, showed his humility and submission before Allah. He thought that all his good deeds such as spending night in prayer, day in fasting, performing all the superfluous prayer (nawafil), desirable deeds (mustahabbat), enlivening the Islamic laws, and other countless good deeds were insufficient for performing the rights of Allah against him. Hence which turn to Allah in repentance better than this turn? Which devotion to Him is better than this devotion? Indeed, this Ima`m was a unique example in the world of the pious and the righteous.
Now, let's listen to another part of this supplication: "O Allah, since You have covered me with Your pardon and shielded me with Your bounty in the abode of annihilation and the presence of equals, grant me sanctuary from the disgraces of the Abode of Subsistence at the standing places of the Witnesses (the angels brought nigh, the messengers honored, the martyrs, the righteous) before the neighbor from whom I have hidden my evil deeds and the womb relative before whom I feel ashamed in my secret thoughts! I trust them not, my Lord, to cover me over, but I trust You, my Lord, to forgive me!
"O Allah, Your knowledge watches over hidden works, every covered thing is exposed before Your awareness, the intricacies of things are not concealed from You, and unseen mysteries slip not away from You. But over me Your enemy has gained mastery:
He asked a delay from You to lead me astray, and You gave him the delay! He asked a respite from You until the Day of Doom to misguide me, and You gave him the respite! Hence he threw me down, though I had fled to You from small, ruinous and great, deadly works, until, when I had yielded to disobeying You and merited Your anger through my bad efforts, he turned the bridle of his treachery away from me, met me with the word of his ingratitude, undertook to be quit of me, turned his back to flee from me, threw me to the desert of Your wrath alone, and sent me as an outcast into the courtyard of Your vengeance.
There is no intercessor to intercede for me with You, no protector to make me feel secure against You, no fortress to veil me from You, no shelter in which to seek asylum apart from You! This is the station of him who takes refuge with You, the place of the confessor to You: Let not Your bounty be too narrow for me, let not Your pardon fall short of me! Let me not be the most disappointed of Your repentant servants, nor the most despairing of those who come to You with expectations! Forgive me, surely You are the best of the forgivers!"
In these paragraphs the Ima`m, peace be on him, talks about the weakness of man's soul before desires and its inability to resist stoned Satan, who employs it through wicked inclinations such as greediness and haughtiness. Satan controls man's feelings and sentiments, employs him in the fields of sins and offenses, and drives him away from seeking nearness to Allah.
The Ima`m continued supplicating: "I trust them not, my Lord, to cover me over1, but I trust You my Lord, to forgive me! You are the most worthy of those in whom confidence is had, the most giving of those who are besought, and the most clement of those from whom mercy is asked."
In this paragraph the Ima`m, peace be on him, expresses his great confidence in Allah and his hope in Allah's forgiveness and favors. He asks Allah to forgive him and to be pleased with him in the hereafter. He, peace be on him, mentions that Allah covers over His disobedient servants. Moreover, he asks Allah to grant him sanctuary from the disgraces of the Abode of Subsistence at the standing places of the Witnesses, the angels brought nigh, the messengers honored, the martyrs, and the righteous. In this manner, he, peace be on him, urges the disobedient to turn to Allah in repentance and to do good deeds, that they may attain Allah's good pleasure and mercy, which embraces all things. Now, let's return to consider another part of this holy supplication:
"O Allah, You caused me to descend as mean water from loins of narrow bones and tight passages into a constricted womb which You had covered with veils; You turned me about from state to state until You took me to the completion of the form and fixed within me the bodily parts, as You have described in Your Book: a drop, then a clot, then a tissue, then bones, then You garmented the bones with flesh, then You produced me as another creature as You willed.
Then, when I needed Your provision, and could not do without the aid of Your bounty, You appointed for me a nourishment from the bounty of the food and drink which You bestowed upon Your handmaid in whose belly You gave me to rest and in lodging of whose womb You deposited me. Had You entrusted me in those states, my Lord, to my own force, or driven me to have recourse to my own strength, force would have removed from me and strength taken far away.
Hence You have fed me through Your bounty with the food of the Good, the Gentle; You have done that for me in graciousness toward me up to this present point. I do not lack Your goodness, nor does Your benefaction keep me waiting. Yet with all that, my trust has not become firm enough that I might free myself for that which is more favored by You.
Satan has taken possession of my reins through my distrust and frail certainty. I complain of his evil neighborhood with me and my soul's obedience toward him! I ask You to preserve me against his domination, and I plead with You to turn his trickery away from me! I ask You to make the path to my provision easy, since to You belongs praise for Your beginning with immense favors and Your inspiring gratitude for beneficence and bestowing favor!
Bless Mohammed and his Household, and make the way to my provision easy for me! (I ask You) to make me content with your ordainment for me, to make me satisfied with me lot in that which You have apportioned for me and to place what has gone of my body and my life-span into the path of Your obedience! Surely You are the Best of providers!"
In this paragraph there are some reliable proofs of the existence of the Great Creator. They are as follows: Allah, the Most High, created man from mean water, put him into a narrow womb, turned him from state to state until he took him to the completion of the form. Man is the greatest creature of Allah.
He has wonderful organs such as brain, eye, ear, and they all indicate the existence of the Wise Creator. The Ima`m, peace be on him, derived his views from the Holy Qur'a`n, which talked in detail about the creation of man. It is worth mentioning that the Qur'a`n has accurately showed how the embryo is formed, Hence it supplies man with this wonderful reality. Sayyid Qutub said:
"Man stands astonished before the reality which the Qur'a`n has displayed concerning the form of fetus. (This reality) was discovered when embryology developed. This is because the cells of bones are different from those of flesh. It has been established that the cells of bones are formed in embryo before those of flesh. None of the cells of flesh is seen unless those of bones appear, and the skeleton of fetus is complete. The Qur'a`nic text has mentioned this reality."
Any how, when the Ima`m, peace be on him, had mentioned the greatest blessings of Allah, he asked Allah to save him from the trickery and delusions of Satan, who is the first enemy of man. Now, let's read on the last paragraphs of this supplication:
"O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the Fire through which You are harsh toward him who disobeys You and by which You have threatened him who turns away from Your good pleasure; from the Fire whose light is darkness, whose ease is pain, and whose far is near; from the Fire parts of which devour parts and parts of which leap upon parts; from the Fire which leaves bones decayed and lets its people drink boiling water; from the Fire which does not spare him who pleads to it, has no mercy on him who seeks sympathy from it, and has no power to relieve him who humbles himself before it and yields himself to it; it meets its inhabitants with the hottest that it possesses: painful punishment and intense noxiousness.
I seek refuge in You from its gaping-jawed scorpions, its scraping-toothed serpents and its drinks, which tear a part the intestines and hearts of its inhabitants and root out their marrows. I ask guidance from You to that which will keep far from it and make it retreat!
"O Allah, bless Mohammed and his Household, grant me sanctuary from it through the bounty of Your mercy, release me from my stumbles through Your good releasing, and abandon me not, O Best of the sanctuary-granters. O Allah, You protect from the disliked, give the good, do what You will, and You are powerful over everything.
" O Allah, bless Mohammed and his Household when the pious are mentioned and bless Mohammed and his Household as long as night and day come and go with a blessing whose replenishment is never cut off and whose number cannot be counted, a blessing that will fill up the air and crowd the earth and the heaven! Allah bless him until he is well pleased and Allah bless him and his Household after good pleasure with a blessing that has neither bound nor utmost limit! O Most Merciful of the merciful!"
These paragraphs contain fearful descriptions of the Fire of Hell, which Allah has prepared for the sinful and tyrannical ones from among his creatures, who spread oppression and corruption in the earth, Hence they will suffer various kinds of indescribable terrible torture in the Fire of Hell, may Allah protect us from it.
With this we will end our talk about this holy supplication, which the Ima`m used to recite after the night prayer, and which is among the outstanding supplications of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them.
His Frailty and Weakness
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, became frail because of his many prayers, for worship strained him very much, and he was Hence weak that the wind would bend (his body) to left and right like an ear of corn.( Al-Mufeed, al-Irshad, p. 272, Roudat al-Wa'izin, no. 1, p. 237)
This is because he had no power to stand. His son 'Abd Allah reported: "My father used to pray at night. When he had finished (praying), he crept to his bed."(Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46. p. 99)
This means that he had no power to stand because of tiredness, weakness and faintness.
His family and those who loved him felt pity for him because of the intense weakness resulted from his many prayers. They feared that he would die, Hence they talked with him about that, but he refused to answer them, and he went on performing his prayers until he met his fathers. The following is some of those who talked with him:
1. One of his Sons
One of his sons feared for his safety, Hence he asked him with regret and fear: "Father, how long will you continue (praying)?"
The Ima`m answered him with kindness and affection: "Do you make me love my Lord?1"
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, loved his Lord and drew near to Him through all ways. There is no one in the world of the pious and the righteous like him in turning to Allah in repentance and intense clinging to Him.
2. Ja`bir al-Ansa`ri
The great companion (of the Prophet), Ja`bir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansa`ri, felt pity for the Ima`m, peace be on him, and asked him to reduce his prayers and not to strain himself. Ima`m al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, reported his tradition, saying: [When Fa`tima, daughter of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, saw that her nephew, 'Ali b. al-Husayn, strained himself with prayer, she went to Ja`bir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansa`ri and said to him:]
"O Companion of Allah's Apostle, we have rights against you. Among our rights against you is that when you see one of us strain himself (with prayer), you must remind him of Allah and to ask him to spare his life. This is 'Ali b. al-Husayn, the surviving one of his father al-Husayn, has carried out in worship (to the extent that) his nose has been squashed; his forehead has been bruised; his legs and feet have been swollen."
Hence Ja`bir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansa`ri went to Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, and found him in his mihrab exerted by worship and obedience (to Allah). When the Ima`m saw Ja`bir, he received him and sat him beside him and asked him very much about his conditions, Hence Ja`bir turned to him and said to him: "O Son of Allah's Apostle, didn't you know that Allah has created Heaven for you and for those who love you, and He has created the Fire for those who hate you and show enmity toward you, Hence why have you strained yourself (in worship)?"
The Ima`m kindly and gently answered him: "O Companion of Allah's Apostle, didn't you know that Allah forgave my grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, his previous and next sins? Yet, he did not leave exertion (in worship), may my father and mother be ransom for him, to the extent that his legs and feet were swollen, Hence he was asked: 'Do you do this, while Allah has forgiven you your previous and next sins?' Hence he replied: 'Shall I not be a grateful servant?'"
When Jabir knew that it was difficult for him to convince the Ima`m to leave exertion in worship, he said to him: "O Son of Allah's Apostle, spare your life, for you are from among the family through whom tribulation is driven away, through whom cures are discovered, and through whom the sky is asked to rain."
The Ima`m answered him with a faint voice: "I will continue the method of my fathers until I meet them."
Hence Ja`bir admired the Ima`m, turned to those who around him, and said to them: "None of the sons of the prophets was like 'Ali b. al-Husayn except Yousif b. Ya'qu`b. By Allah, the progeny of al-Husayn is better than the progeny of Yousif b. Ya'qu`b. Surely one of them will fill the earth with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny"
Yes, by Allah, no one of the sons of the prophets was like 'Ali b. al-Husayn in piety, Allah-fearingness, and all other ideals that raised him to the zenith which the great figures from among his fathers reached. Ja`bir declared that the progeny of al-Husayn was better than the progeny of Yousif b. Ya'qu`b, for among them is the great reformer, the Qa'im of the family of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, of whom the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, gave good news, and who will fill the earth with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, that will occur during the days of his government and authority.
'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n was among those who pitied for Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him. That was when the Ima`m went to him to intercede with him for some Muslims whom the authority had arrested. When 'Abd al-Malik saw him, he admired the marks of prostration between his eyes, Hence he said to him:
"The exertion (in worship) has appeared on your face, while Allah has already promised you good, you are part of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, your lineage is close (to him), your relation (with him) is certain, you are the most meritorious of the family of your House and the people of your time, you have been given merits, knowledge, religion, piety of which none before or after you has been given."
'Abd al-Malik flattered the Ima`m, reminded him of his merits and laudable deeds. When he ended his talk, the Ima`m said to him: "All what you have mentioned is attained through the bounty, support, and success of Allah, the Glorified. Hence where is our gratefulness to Him for what He has bestowed (upon us)? Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, stood in pray to the extent that his feet were swollen and became thirsty during fast to the extent that his mouth became dried, Hence he was asked: 'O Allah's Apostle, didn't Allah forgive you your past and next sins?' Hence he, may Allah bless him and his family, replied: 'Shall I not be a grateful servant?'
"Praise belongs to Allah for what He has rendered and tested, and praise belongs to Him for here and the hereafter. By Allah, even if my limbs are severed, and my tears flow onto my chest, I will be unable to give thanks to Allah, the Great and Almighty, for the tenth of the tenth of one blessing of all His blessings which calculators cannot count, and no one can attain a blessing of them through all the praise of the praisers.
No, by Allah, doesn't Allah see that nothing distract me from thanking Him and remembering Him by day and night, secretly and openly? Were it not for that my family had right against me, and that people in private and in general had rights against me, I would look at the sky with my eye and at Allah with my heart, and then I would not prevent them (from that), until Allah made me die, and He is the Best of judges."
The Ima`m bitterly wept. His words and his painful sight had a great effect on 'Abd al-Malik, the tyrannical caliph, who said with admiration: "There is a great difference between a servant who seeks the hereafter and a servant who seeks this world."
Then 'Abd al-Malik yielded to the Ima`m and released the persons for whom he interceded.
These are some of those who felt pitied for the Ima`m because of his many prayers and abundant worship and asked him frequently to decrease them and to have a rest, but the Ima`m did not respond them for that, for he found in prayers a unique, psychological rest.