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 ‎) known as Zain al-Abidin (the adornment of the worshippers)and Imam al-Sajjad (The Prostrating Imam), was the fourth of the Shiite Imams, after his father Husayn, his uncle Hasan, and his grandfather Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law.[12][13][14]


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, who was killed in 40/661, but he was brought up in the presence of his uncle Hasan and his father Husayn, the Prophet’s beloved grandchildren. Many Shiite sources state that his mother was Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdegerd, the last Sassanian King of Persia.[b][13][12] Thus he was said to be ‘Ibn al-Khiyaratayn’, the ‘son of the best two’, meaning 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] She is said to have died shortly after giving birth to her only son Ali.[13][12]

In Karbala[edit]

In 61/680, when Husayn and many of the male members of his family were killed by the forces of the Umayyad caliph Yazidat Karbala, an event which shook the Islamic world and precipitated the nascent Shiite movement. Zain al-Abidin accompanied his father on the march toward Kufa, but he had fallen deathly ill and was lying on a skin in a tent. Once the Umayyad troops had massacred Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents, stripped the women of their jewellery, and even took the skin upon which Zain al-Abidin was prostrate. The infamous Shemr was about to kill Zain al-Abidin in spite of his helplessness, but Husayn’s sister Zaynab threw herself on top of him to save him, and Umar ibn Sa'ad, the Umayyad commander, told Shemr to let him be. Zain al-Abidin was taken along with the women to the caliph in Damascus, and eventually he was allowed to return to Medina.

Several accounts are related concerning his grief 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 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][15][16][17]

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.”[18]

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. The reason being that he worshipped Allah constantly. 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][16][18][19] The second one being “You have known, therefore do.”[2][20] 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.[21]


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.[22][23] He was buried in al-Baqi cemetery in Medina with his uncle, al-Hasan Ibn Ali.[24]

Early Islam scholars[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other dates mentioned are 33/653-4, 36/656-7, 37/657-8, 50/670
  2. ^ Her name has also been given as Shah-Zanan, Sulaafa, Ghazaala, and Shahr-Banuya, among others.
  3. ^ Muh’sin al-Ameen al-A’mili, A’yan as-Sheea’h, Damascus, 1935, IV, 189.
  4. ^ Quran, 12:84
  5. ^ 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


  1. ^ 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 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. ^ Shadharāt al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p.104.
  6. ^ Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, p.187
  7. ^ 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. ^ a b c 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. 
  13. ^ a b c Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir. The Life of Imām Zayn al-Abidin (as). Translated by Jāsim al-Rasheed. Najaf, Iraq: Ansariyan Publications, n.d. Print. pp. 1, 14–19, and 21–22. 
  14. ^ Dungersi Ph.D., M. M. (December 1, 2013). A Brief Biography of Ali Bin Hussein (as). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1494328690. 
  15. ^ Nūr al-Abbsār, pg. 36
  16. ^ a b Akhbār al-Diwal, pg. 109
  17. ^ al-Sirāt al-Sawi fi Manāqib Al al-Nabi, pg.192
  18. ^ a b Al-Sirāt al-Sawi fi Manāqib Āl al-Nabi, pg. 192
  19. ^ Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, pg. 187
  20. ^ Ibn Qutayba, 'Uyyiun al-Akhbār, vol. 1, pg. 302
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ Moosa, Matti (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780815624110. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  24. ^ Imam Ali Ibn al Husayn (as). Retrieved 21 July 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  25. ^ The Quran
  26. ^ The Great Fiqh
  27. ^ Al-Muwatta'
  28. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari
  29. ^ Sahih Muslim
  30. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  31. ^ Mishkât Al-Anwar
  32. ^ The Niche for Lights
  33. ^ Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective by Syafiq Hasyim. Page 67
  34. ^ ulama,
  35. ^ 1.Proof & Historiography - The Islamic Evidence.
  36. ^ Atlas Al-sīrah Al-Nabawīyah. Darussalam, 2004. Pg 270
  37. ^ 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