Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin

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Ali ibn Husayn
علي بن حسين  (Arabic)

4th Imam of Twelver and 3rd Imam of Ismaili Shia
Grave Fatema(single one) and other Imams.JPG
His desecrated grave at Al-Baqi' in Saudi Arabia
Born c. (659-01-04)4 January 659
(5 Sha'aban 38 AH)[1][2][3]
Kufa, Iraq or Medina,[4] Hejaz[2][5][6][7][8]
Died c. 20 October 713(713-10-20) (aged 54))
(12 or 25 Muharram 95 AH)
Medina, Umayyad Empire
Cause of death
Death by poisoning
Resting place
Jannatul Baqi, Saudi Arabia
24°28′1″N 39°36′50.21″E / 24.46694°N 39.6139472°E / 24.46694; 39.6139472
Ethnicity Arab (Quraysh)
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.
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Fatimah bint Hasan
Jayda al-Sindhi
Children Muhammad al-Baqir
Zayd ibn Ali
Parents Husayn ibn Ali
Lady Shāhzanān (aka Shahr Banu)[8][9][11]
Relatives Ali al-Akbar
Ali al-Asghar
Sakinah (Fatima al-Kubra) bint Husayn
Fatima al-Sughra bint al-Husayn

Ali ibn Husayn (Arabic: علي بن الحسين ‎) (c. 6 January 657 – c. 20 October 713)[7] known by the honorific Zayn al-Abedin (The Jewel of The Worshippers), occupies a prominent position in Islam. He is also referred to as Imam al-Sajjad (The Prostrating Imam) and Sayyid as-Sajjadīn wa Raki‘in (Leader of Those who Prostrate and Bow). A great-grandson of Muhammad, he embodied the same virtues as his great-grandfather such as knowledge, eloquence, courage, generosity, and forbearance. Imam Ali was the son of Imam Husayn (the third Shia Imam) and Shahrbanu (the purported daughter of Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanian King of Persia). Shias recognize him as the 4th Imam and one of the divinely chosen successor to Muhammad. He is known for starting the re-establishment of the school of the Muhammad in Medina.


Imam Ali was born into the household of Muhammad. His father, Husayn ibn Ali, was a grandson of Muhammad and his mother was Shahrbanu (the purported daughter of Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanian King of Persia). The location of Imam Ali's birth is debated amongst historians.[2] Some historians state that he was born in Medina while others state that he was born in Kufa.[2][5][6] According to Bāqir Sharif al-Qarashi, a historian and the author of "The Life of Imām Zayn al-Abidin (as)", states,

"I think that he was born in Kūfa. This is because the narrators and the historians mentioned that he was born two years before the death of his grandfather, The Commander of The Faithful (Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib).[12] It is certain that Imam al-Husayn and his family were in Kūfa along with Imam Ali, The Commander of The Faithful, peace be on him. None of them lived in Medina throughout his succession (Caliphate)."[2]

Similarly, the time and date of his birth is also heavily debated amongst historians and scholars.[2] The majority believe that Imam Ali ibn Husayn was born on the fifth day of Sha‘bān in the year 38 AH on a Thursday (January 4, 659 AD).[1][2][13] While other historians state that he was born on the following dates:

  • 9th of Sha‘bān 38 AH on a Friday (January 8 659 AD)[2][14]
  • The half of Jamādi al-’Ūlā 38 AH (October 659 AD)[2][15]
  • 26th of Jamādi al-Ākhira 38 AH on Friday (November 27, 658 AD)[2][16]
  • 33 AH (This is seen as irregular and not accepted by the historians who mentioned that he was born in 38 AH)[2][17]

Some historians state that Imam Ali ibn Husayn was born weak and thin.[2] Sayyid Abid al-Aziz Sayyid al-Ahal mentions,

“He (Zayn al-Ābidin) was born weak and thin. Gleams as faint as dim worry appeared in his eyes. These broken gleams indicated coming grief.”[2][18]

His childhood was composed of misfortunes and pain.[2] In fact, his mother, Shāhzanān, passed away when he was still a baby.[2]

After his birth, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (his grand father) performed the religious rites of birth.[2] He (Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib) announced the adhan in his right ear and the iqama in his left ear.[2] Sharif comments,

"With this he established in his heart a temple beating with the feelings of piety and righteousness. They were active tunes directing him to kindness and good deeds. The first thing with which Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin was received was the words Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greater)! These words were printed in his heart and senses, so they became some of his qualities."[2]

Upon hearing the birth of Imam Ali ibn Husayn, the household of Muhammad and companions near to the household of Muhammad were filled with happiness and joy.[2] Furthermore, it is documented that on the seventh day after his birth, Imam Husayn sacrificed a ram for him in the ceremony of a‘qiqa, cut his hair, and gave silver or gold as equal to his weight as alms to the poor and needy according to the Islamic Sunna.[2]

His brothers were Ali al-Akbar and Ali al-Asghar. His sisters were Sakinah (Fatima al-Kubra) bint Husayn, Fatima al-Sughra bint al-Husayn and Ruqayyah.


The historical tomb of Al-Baqi' was destroyed in 1925. Imam Ali ibn Husayn is one of four Shia Imams buried here.

Historians have mentioned the Imam Ali ibn Husayn's physical features and qualities,

“‘Ali ibn Husayn was brown, short, thin, and gentle.”[2][19][20][21]

Some Shia scholars have described his face as "shining with the light of the prophets. Hence, his solemnity yielded their faces and foreheads."[2] Other scholars such as al-Shaykhāni al-Qādiri state,

“The beholders were fixed in gaze at the handsomeness of his face.”[22]

Imam Ali ibn Husayn's solemnity was similar Muhammad, his great-grand father. Furthermore, Muslim ibn Aqaba, Blood-thirsty criminal who violated all Islamic values and manners, admired his (Imam Ali ibn Husayn) solemnity. It is documented that when Muslim ibn Aqaba saw the him, Muslim trembled in fear.[2] However, Muslim ibn Aqaba received Imam Ali ibn Husayn warmly, treated him kindly, honored him, and said to people surrounding him,

“Indeed ‘Ali Zayn al-Ābidin has the qualities of the prophets.”[2]

Al-Farazdaq, a great Arabian poet, described his solemnity in his ode stating,

"When he comes to touch the corner of the wall of the
Kaaba, it almost grasps the palm of his hand.
He takes care to be modest and he is protected from his terror.
He only speaks when he smiles."[2]

As he aged, Imam Ali ibn Husayn became thin and weak.[2] The reason being that he worshipped Allah constantly.[2] In addition, the Tragedy of Karbalā drowned him in sorrow, grief, and pain. The sorrows accompanied Imam Ali ibn Husayn till he met the King of all kings (Allah).[2]

Ring Inscription[edit]

There are two inscriptions that Imam Ali ibn Husayn had. The first being “My success is not but by Allah."[2][20][22][23] The second one being “You have known, therefore do.”[2][24] According to Sharif, the inscriptions showed that Imam Ali ibn Husayn depended on Allah in all his affairs.[2]


He dedicated his life to learning and became an authority on prophetic traditions and Sharia. He is regarded as the source of the third holiest book in Shia Islam after the Quraan and the Nahj al Balagha: the Saḥīfa al-Sadjadiyya, commonly referred to as the Psalms of the Household of Muhammad. Also, Risalah al-Huquq, is a charter of rights attributed to him. Moreover, The Fifteen Whispered Prayers is another work by him. Al-Ḥusayn had many supporters such as Sa'id ibn Jubayr.

He traveled to Karbala with his father. He was the only son of Hussein ibn Ali who survived the Battle of Karbala in 680 C.E. because he did not take part in the battle due to illness.[25]


He died at the age of 58, in Medina. He was poisoned by Umayyad ruler al-Walid ibn 'Abdi 'I-Malik ibn Marwan through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham on 25th Muharram 95 AH.[26][27] He was buried in al-Baqi cemetery in Medina with his uncle, al-Hasan Ibn Ali.[28]

Early Islam scholars[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, pg. 212
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir. The Life of Imām Zayn al-Abidin (as). Trans. Jāsim al-Rasheed. Najaf, Iraq: Ansariyan Publications, n.d. Print. Pgs. 1, 14-19, and 21-22
  3. ^ 1. Kitab Al Irshad, Shaykh Mufid.
  4. ^ Shabbar, S.M.R. (1997). Story of the Holy Ka’aba. Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Shadharāt al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p.104.
  6. ^ a b Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, p.187
  7. ^ a b Shaykh al-Mufid. "The Infallibles – Taken from Kitab al Irshad". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  8. ^ a b c A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. p. 111. 
  9. ^ a b c ibn Khallikan. Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary 2. p. 209. 
  10. ^ A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Ansariyan Publications. p. 112. 
  11. ^ Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn (1979). Shi'ite Islam. State University of New York Press. p. 201. 
  12. ^ Akhbār al-Diwal, p.109.
  13. ^ Nūr al-Abbsār, pg. 136
  14. ^ Roudat al-Wā'izin, vol. 1, pg. 222
  15. ^ Bahr al-Ansāb, pg. 52
  16. ^ al-Imāma fi al-Islām, pg. 116
  17. ^ al-Nafha al-Anbariya
  18. ^ al-Imām Zayn al-Ābidin, pg.18
  19. ^ Nūr al-Abbsār, pg. 36
  20. ^ a b Akhbār al-Diwal, pg. 109
  21. ^ al-Sirāt al-Sawi fi Manāqib Al al-Nabi, pg.192
  22. ^ a b Al-Sirāt al-Sawi fi Manāqib Āl al-Nabi, pg. 192
  23. ^ Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, pg. 187
  24. ^ Ibn Qutayba, 'Uyyiun al-Akhbār, vol. 1, pg. 302
  25. ^ Jafri, S.H Mohammad. "The Origin and Early Development of Shi'a Islam,”, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 166, ISBN 978-0-19-579387-1
  26. ^ "The Sixth Infallible The Fourth Imam : Ali Ibn Al-Husayn Zaynu'l-`Abidin (Peace be on him)". Brief History of Fourteen Infallibles. World Organization for Islamic Services ( WOFIS). Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  27. ^ Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780815624110. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Imam Ali Ibn al Husayn (as). Retrieved 21 July 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  29. ^ The Quran
  30. ^ The Great Fiqh
  31. ^ Al-Muwatta'
  32. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari
  33. ^ Sahih Muslim
  34. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  35. ^ Mishkât Al-Anwar
  36. ^ The Niche for Lights
  37. ^ Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective by Syafiq Hasyim. Page 67
  38. ^ ulama,
  39. ^ 1.Proof & Historiography - The Islamic Evidence.
  40. ^ Atlas Al-sīrah Al-Nabawīyah. Darussalam, 2004. Pg 270
  41. ^ Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz by Imam Abu Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hakam died 829

External links[edit]

Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 5th Sha‘bān 38 AH 657 CE Died: 25th Muharram 95 AH 713 CE
Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Husayn ibn Ali
4th Imam of Twelver Shi'a Islam
680 – 713
3rd Imam of Ismaili Shi'a Islam
Succeeded by
Muhammad al-Baqir
Succeeded by
Zayd ibn Ali
Zaidi successor