Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin
|Ali ibn Husayn
علي بن حسين (Arabic)
4th Imam of Twelver and 3rd Imam of Ismaili Shia
4 January 659|
(5 Sha'aban 38 AH)
Kufa, Iraq or Medina, Hejaz
|Died||c. 20 October 713
(12 or 25 Muharram 95 AH)
Medina, Umayyad Empire
Cause of death
|Death by poisoning|
|Jannatul Baqi, Saudi Arabia
|Term||680 – 712 CE|
|Predecessor||Husayn ibn Ali|
|Successor||Muhammad al-Baqir according to the Twelver Shia, Zayd bin Ali according to the Zaidiyyah Shia.|
|Spouse(s)||Fatimah bint Hasan
Zayd ibn Ali
|Parent(s)||Husayn ibn Ali
Lady Shāhzanān (aka Shahr Banu)
Sakinah (Fatima al-Kubra) bint Husayn
Fatima al-Sughra bint al-Husayn
|The Fourteen Infallible|
Ali ibn Husayn (Arabic: علي بن الحسين) known as Zayn al-Abidin (the adornment of the worshippers) and Imam al-Sajjad (The Prostrating Imam), was the fourth Shiite Imam, after his father Husayn, his uncle Hasan, and his grandfather Ali, Muḥammad’s son-in-law. He survived the Battle of Karbala and was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph in Damascus. Eventually, however, he was allowed to return to Medina where he led a secluded life with only a few intimate companions. Imam Sajjad's life and statements were entirely devoted to asceticism and religious teachings mostly in the form of invocations and supplications. His famous supplications are well known as Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya.
- 1 Birth
- 2 In Karbala
- 3 The Aftermath of Karbala and His Imamah
- 4 Social Status
- 5 Asceticism
- 6 Selected Sayings
- 7 Works
- 8 Death
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Ali ibn al-Husain was born in Medina, according to most sources in the year 38/658-9.[a] He may have been too small to have remembered his grandfather Ali, but was brought up in the presence of his uncle Hasan and his father Husayn, Muhammad’s grandchildren. It is said that he was related through his mother Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdegerd, to the last Sassanian King of Persia.[b] Thus he was said to be Ibn al-Khiyaratayn, the "son of the best two (the Quraysh among the Arabs and the Persians among the non-Arabs)". According to some accounts, his mother was brought as a captive to Medina during the caliphate of Umar, who wanted to sell her. Ali suggested instead that she be offered her choice of the Muslim men as husband and that her dower be paid from the public treasury. Umar agreed and she chose Ali’s son Husayn.[c]
In 61/680, Muhammad's grandson Husayn along with a small group of supporters and relatives were massacred by the much larger military forces of the Umayyad caliph Yazid (to whom Husayn had refused to give an oath of allegiance) at the Battle of Karbala. Zain al-Abidin accompanied his father on the march toward Kufa and was present at the Battle of Karbala, but survived the battle due to his illness. Once the Umayyad troops had mass murdered Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents and took the skin upon which Zain al-Abidin was laying. It is said that Shemr was about to kill Ali ibn al-Husayn, but his aunt Zaynab was present to make Umar ibn Sa'ad, the Umayyad commander, to let him alive. Zain al-Abidin was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph, and eventually was allowed to return to Medina. During this journey he delivered speeches in the towns of Kufa and Damascus, and informed the people of his father's intentions.
Several accounts are narrated concerning Ali ibn al-Husayn deep sorrow over this tragedy. It is said that for twenty years whenever food was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, "O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?" He replied, "Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[d] though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?"[e]
The Aftermath of Karbala and His Imamah
They were Kufa's people who invited Husayn to come to Kufa and be their Imam, but they did not back him and his family against Kufa's governor who massacred them in their way to Kufa in a place called Karbala. Thus they saw themselves responsible for the tragedy of Karbala and tried to compensate for it by throwing themselves into the struggle to obtain vengeance for Husayn's blood. They chose Sulayman b. Surad al Khuza'I as their leader and called themselves Tawwabun (penitents). They were seeking for an opportunity for action, until Mukhtar al-Thaqafi came to Kufa and claimed to represent Zayn al-Abedin who was still in Medina. He soon gained the authority of a leader and took a sudden vengeance on those who were involved in killing of Husayn. Umar ibn Sa'ad and Shemr were executed and their heads were sent to Zayn al-Abedin. Ubaid Allah was also killed in the battle on the Zab and his head was taken to the very place in Kufa where Ubaid Allah had received the head of Husayn. The governor of Medina, however, did not consider that Zayn al-Abedin was responsible for Mukhtar's action, since he had already left Medina for its outskirts in order not to be involved in political movements. Moreover, there is evidence that he was unmolested and excepted from giving allegiance to Yazid, after the Battle of Harran where Medinans were sacked and looted by Yazid's army.
It was about this time when the question of the right of succession, as between Ali ibn al-Husayn and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, gained the most attention. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah was a pious and brave man who many considered him as their Imam. Other sect of Shiite, however, asserted that it was Zayn al-Abedin who had the right to inherit the Imamah, for, he had been designated by his father, Husayn, as the next Imam. Muhammad said that he was more worthy as he was the son of Ali. But Zayn al-Abidin replied to his uncle, Fear God and make no such claim, After the death of Ibn Zubayr, the governor of Medina, Zayn al-Abedin and Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah agreed to go to Mecca and appeal to Black Stone to see if they could determine which one of them was the true successor. They went to Kaaba where The Black Stone was placed. Muhammad prayed for a sign but no answer came. Afterwards, Zayn al-Abedin prayed and this time The Black Stone go so agitated that it nearly fell off the wall and came the answer in eloquent Arabic that he was the true imaam after Imaam Husayn, to which decision Muhammad consented."[f] After this settlement, Zayn al-Abedin returned to Medina where he led a quiet life with only a few companions who referred him for religious questions.[g]
Ali ibn al-Husayn was held in great respect not only by his followers who considered him as the fourth imam, but also by the learned circle of Medinan scholars who considered him as an eminent traditionist. The famous lawyer Said ibn al-Musayyib, and the great jurist and traditionist al-Zuhri (though attached to the court of the Umayyad), were among his admirers. As it was al-Zuhri who gave him the honorific Zayn al-Abedin (the ornament of worshipers) and narrated many Hadiths from him. Perhaps the most famous evidence for his high position among people is the ode that the well known Arab poet farazdaq. This ode refers to the occasion where the Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik was overshadowed by the respect people showed to the imam. It was the time of Hajj when both of them were trying to reach the Black Stone through the crowd turning around the Kaaba. The people gave way to Zayn al-Abedin while Hisham struggled desperately. This deeply offended the Caliph, and sarcastically asked who the person had been to whom the people had shown such respect. Farazdaq, who was present there, thereupon composed an ode addressing Hisham's question; an ode which is a masterpiece of Arabic literature; and that must be considered as the most reliable contemporary document describing Zayn al-'Abidin.[h]
It is related from the Imam that when he saw a beggar weeping, said: "If the world was in the hand of this person and then it dropped from it, he had not to weep for it." The Imām renounced worldly pleasures, but at the same time he did not give way to poverty and feebleness, rather he was "pious with what God prohibited." However, As the Imām was self-denying and turned away from the world,[i] the Sufis considered him as one of their kind and wrote biographies about him. however the Imam led a life different from that of the Sufis as his asceticism was internal and psychological and internal rather than otherwise. It is narrated from the Imam that while circumambulating the Kaaba, he heard a man asking God for patience, so he turned to him and said: "You are asking (God) for tribulation. Say: O God, I ask You for well-being and gratitude for it." It is also related that a person questioned the Imam about asceticism, he replied: "Asceticism is of ten degrees: The highest degree of asceticism is the lowest degree of piety. The highest degree of piety is the lowest degree of certainty. The highest degree of certainty is the lowest degree of satisfaction. Asceticism is in one verse of Allah’s Book: Hence that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you."[j] As for Ali al-Ridha, the eighth Shiite Imam, when he was appointed a successor to Al-Ma'mun, a Sufi objected him: "The Imam should eat rough food and wear coarse garments." The Imam refuted his view, saying: "Yousif b. Ya‘qub was a prophet; nevertheless he wore silk-like garments embroidered with gold. Allah did not prohibit clothing nor did he prohibit food. However, He wanted the Imām to be fair and just." Then he recited these verse: Say: Who has forbidden the adornment which He has brought forth for His creatures.[k]
- Who honors himself dishonors worldly things.
- (The position of) patience in faith is like that of the head in the body, and he who has no patience has no faith. 
- It has been written in the Bible: 'Seek not the knowledge of what you do not do until you do what you come to know. If knowledge is not put into practice, it increases its possessor nothing except unbelief and remoteness from God.
- All good is in man's safeguarding his soul.
- When been slandered by a mean person he said: If I have what you say, I will ask Allah to forgive me. If I do not have what you say, I will ask Allah to forgive you.
- He would secretly carry food on his shoulders for the poor and needy, and when al-Zuhri asked him; what that is on your back, he said: I am making preparations for a journey.[l] I am preparing provisions for it and carrying them to a secure place.[m]
- The most lovable ways for Allah are two : Repelling rage with clemency and misfortune with forbearance.
- He has also quoted sayings of his grandfather Ali, the first Shia Imam, which is stated in response to some questions of his companion, Zayd ibn Suhan:
Zayd: "Which authority is the most overcoming and strongest?.
Zayd: “Which lowliness is the most lowly?”
Ali: “Clinging to the world.”
Zayd: “Which poverty is the most intense?”
Ali: “Unbelief after belief.”
Zayd: “Which creed is the most devious?”
Ali: “Unreal creed.”
Zayd: “Which creature is the most miserable?”
Ali: “It is he who sells his world for the world of other than him.”
Zayd: “Which creature is the strongest?”
Ali: “The clement one.”
Zayd: “Which of men is the most clement?”
Ali: “It is he who does not become angry.”
Zayd: “Which of men is the most foolish?”
Ali: “It is he who is deceived by the world, while he sees its changeable conditions.”
Zayd: “ Which catastrophe is the most intense?”
Ali: “The catastrophe in the religion.”
According to Chittick the Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya is the "oldest prayer manual in Islamic sources and one of the most seminal works of Islamic spirituality of the early period." Shiite tradition esteem/considers this book with great respect, ranking it behind only the Quran and Ali’s Nahj al-Balagha. This prayer book deals not only with Islamic spirituality, but also provides teachings on different levels, from the theological to the social. The traditional category of ‘faith’, for example, which forms the basic subject matter of most of Islamic thought as developed in kalaam philosophy and Sufism; have been discussed in this book. The Imam also refers frequently to the domain of Islamic practices emphasizing the necessity of following Quran and the hadith's guidelines and the necessity of establishing justice in society.
The Fifteen Whispered Prayers
The Fifteen Whispered Prayers also known as The Fifteen Munajat, is a collection of fifteen prayers attributed to Zayn al-Abidin which some researchers regard it as a supplementary part of the latter collection. These Prayers enable a person to recite the prayer which is in most accordance with his present mood and feeling. The prayers start with 'repentance', as repentance is the first step towards a genuine communion with God.
Supplication of Abu Hamza al-Thumali
Abu Hamza al-Thumali has related that during the month of Ramadhan, Imam Zayn al-Abidin used to spend a greater part of the night in prayers and when it used to be the time of beginning of the fast he recited a supplication which later known as Du'a Abi Hamzah al-Thumali (The supplication of Abi Hamzah al-Thumali). This supplication has been recorded in the book Misbah al-Mutahijjid of Shaykh Tusi.
Treatise on Rights
Zain al-Abidin’s ‘Treatise on Rights’ is the only work attributed to him other than supplications or relatively short sayings and letters. According to Chittick this treatise is especially important for the manner in which it deals with many of the same themes as the Sahifa in a different style and language. As the Imam makes eminently clear in this book, a hierarchy of priorities must always be observed: The individual comes before the social, the spiritual before the practical, and knowledge before action. Each human being has a long series of social duties, but these depend upon his more essential duties, which are first, faith in Allah, and second, placing one’s own person into the proper relationship with the Divine Reality.
Ali ibn Husayn was the only son of Hussein ibn Ali who survived the Battle of Karbala in 680 when he was twenty three years old. For, he could not take part in the battle due to his illness, and was thus saved from the general massacre. Once again when he was led as a prisoner before Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad in Kufa, the latter ordered his execution but left him alive at the entreaty of his aunt, Zaynab. Later on, however, he was poisoned by Umayyad ruler Ial-Walid through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in Medina. The date of his death is most often given as 94/712-13 or 95/713-14; other dates mentioned are 92/710-11, 93/711-12, 99/717-18 and 100/718-19. He was buried next to his uncle, Ḥasan, in the cemetery of Al-Baqi' cemetery in Medina. After his death many people found out that their livelihood had come from him. He would go out with a sack of food on his back, knocking at the doors of more than 100 families, and gave freely to whoever answered while covering his face in order not to be recognized.
- Ahl Al-Bayt
- Nahj al Balagha
- Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya
- The Fifteen Whispered Prayers
- Al-Risalah al-Huquq
- Other dates mentioned are 33/653-4, 36/656-7, 37/657-8, 50/670
- Her name has also been given as Shah-Zanan, Sulaafa, Ghazaala, and Shahr-Banuya, among others.
- She is said to have died shortly after giving birth to her only son Ali.
- Quran, 12:84
- From Shaykh as-Sadooq, al-Khisal; quoted in al-Ameen, A’yan, IV, 195. The same is quoted from Bin Shahraashoob’s Manaqib in Bih’ar al-Anwar, XLVI, 108; Cf. similar accounts, Ibid, pp. 108-10
- Abū Khālid al-Kābuli was among those who confessed the Imamah of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, but turned to Zayn al-Abedin afterwards, saying "I served Mohammed b. al-Hanafiya for a time of my life. I had no doubt that he was the Imām till I asked him by the Sacredness of Allah, the Sacredness of the Messenger, and the Sacredness of the Commander of the faithful, so he guided me to you and said: ‘Ali b. al-Husayn is the Imām over me, you, and all the creatures.’"
- Canon Sell, op. cit., p. II, quoting Sahifat Al-Abidin, p. 184.
- It goes as follows: "It is someone whose footsteps are known by every place / And it is he who is known to the bayt in Mecca,(i.e. the Kaaba) The most frequented sanctuary; / It is he who is the son of the best of all men of Allah;(i.e. the Prophet Muhammad) / 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-Husain] whose parent is the Prophet; / This is the son of Fatimah, if you do not know who he is; / Whosoever recognizes his Allah knows also the primacy and superiority of this man; / Because the religion has reached the nations through his House..."
- It is said that al-Zuhri when he was asked about the most ascetic one, he answered: “The most ascetic of all the people is Ali b. al-Husayn.
- Quran, 57:23
- Quran, 7:32
- i.e. death
- “Let this boy of mine carry the flour instead of you,” asked al-Zuhri . “ But I do not disdain what will save me during my journey and makes good my going to Whom I will go." Said the Imam. After some days al-Zuhri met him and asked him: “Son of Allah’s Apostle, I do not see any mark of that journey which you ended?” And the Imām explained what he had meant by journey
- Quoted from The Fifteen Whispered Prayers (first prayer)
- Quoted from the Fifteen Whispered Prayers(fifth prayer)
- Quoted from the Fifteen Whispered Prayers (ninth prayer)
- Quoted from Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya (12th Supplication)
- Quoted from Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya (13th Supplication)
- Quoted from the Treatise on Rights, Right of Charitty
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 14
- Kitab Al Irshad, Shaykh Mufid
- Shabbar, S.M.R. (1997). Story of the Holy Ka’aba. Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 15
- Shaykh al-Mufid. "The Infallibles – Taken from Kitab al Irshad". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- WOFIS (2001). A Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibles (3rd ed.). Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services.
- A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. p. 111.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 16
- ibn Khallikan. Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary 2. p. 209.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 58
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 21
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 20
- Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn (1979). Shi'ite Islam. State University of New York Press. p. 201.
- Imam Ali ibn al-Hussein (2001). The Complite Edition of the Treatise on Rights. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. p. 16.
- Imam Ali ubnal Husain 2009, pp. 7–10
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 450
- Dungersi Ph.D., M. M. (December 1, 2013). A Brief Biography of Ali Bin Hussein (as). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1494328690.
- Madelung, Wilferd. "ʿALĪ B. ḤOSAYN B. ʿALĪ B. ABĪ ṬĀLEB". ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Muh’sin al-Ameen al-A’mili, A’yan as-Sheea’h, Damascus, 1935, IV, 189.
- Donaldson, Dwight M. (1933). The Shi'ite Religion: A History of Islam in Persia and Irak. BURLEIGH PRESS. pp. 101–111.
- Imam Ali ubnal Husain 2009, p. 10
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 163
- Lalani, Arzina R. (March 9, 2001). Early Shi'i Thought: The Teachings of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir. I. B. Tauris. p. 31,78. ISBN 978-1860644344.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, pp. 94–96
- Imam Ali ubnal Husain 2009, pp. 7–8
- jafri 1979, pp. 243–46
- Shaykh Hurr al-`Amuli. Al- Fuṣūl al-muhimma fī taʼlīf al-umma. Najaf: An-Naǧaf : Dār an-Nuʻmān li'ṭ-Ṭibāʻa wa'n-Našr,. p. 192.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, pp. 67–68
- Munūfī, al-Sayyid Maḥmūd Abū al-Fayḍ (1967). Jamharat al-Awliyā', vol. 2. Al-Qāhirah Mu'assasat al-Ḥalabī. p. 71.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, pp. 68–69
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 229
- Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Hussein ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al-Qummi Known as (Sheikh Sadooq). UYUN AKHBAR AL-REZA The Source of Traditions on Imam Reza. Qom: Ansariyan Publications.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 331
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni. Usūl al-Kāfi, Vol. 2. p. 89.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 351
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 355
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 361
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 53
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 67
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 258
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, pp. 378–489
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, pp. 474–475
- Imam Ali ubnal Husain 2009, p. 28
- Chirri, Mohamad Jawad (1986). "Al-Sahifat Al-Sajjadiyya" (Revised ed.). The Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- "A glance at three translations and seyyed mehdi shojaee's viewpoint about the Ramadan's prayers" (in Persian). IBNA. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- Mesbah-Yazdi, Mohammad-Taqi (1390). "Sajjadeha-e Soluk" (in Persian). The Imam Khomeini Education & Research Institute.
- Māmqānī, ‘Abd Allāh (2002). Tanqīḥ al-maqāl fī ‘ilm al-rijāl (in Arabic). Qum: Mu’assasat Āl al-Bayt li-Iḥyā’ al-Turāth.
- Sharif al-Qarashi 2000, p. 500
- Hoseini-e Jalali, Mohammad-Reza (1382). Jehad al-Imam al-Sajjad (in Persian). Translated by Musa Danesh. Iran, Mashhad: Razavi, Printing & Publishing Institute. pp. 214–217.
- jafri 1979, p. 213
- Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780815624110. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Shaykh al-Mufid. Imam Ali Ibn al Husayn (as). Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir (2000). The Life of Imām Zayn al-Abidin (as). Translated by Jāsim al-Rasheed. Iraq: Ansariyan Publications, n.d. Print.
- Imam Ali ubnal Husain (2009). Al-Saheefah Al-Sajjadiyyah Al-Kaamelah. Translated with an Introduction and annotation by Willian C. Chittick With a foreword by S. H. M. Jafri. Qum, The Islamic Republic of Iran: Ansariyan Publications.
- Jafri, Syed Husain Mohammad (1979). The Origins and Early Development of Sheea’h Islam. Beirut: Oxford University Press.
- As-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya
- Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)
- Dua'a Abu Hamza Thumali
- Fifteen Whispered Prayers text in Arabic, English, and Urdu
- Fifteen Whispered Prayers-English Audios
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- The life of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) by Bāqir Sharif al-Qarashi
- Life of Imam az-Zayn al-Abideen as-Sajjad by Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy .
- Ali ibn Husayn by Wilferd Madelung, an article in Encyclopædia Iranica
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu QuraishBorn: 5th Sha‘bān 38 AH ≈ 657 CE Died: 25th Muharram 95 AH ≈ 713 CE
|Shia Islam titles|
Husayn ibn Ali
|4th Imam of Twelver and 3rd Imam of Ismaili Shia
680 – 713
Zayd ibn Ali