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The life of Imam Sajjad (A.S)

In the name of Allah

The life of Imam Sajjad (A.S)

Imam Sajjad (A.S) is the fourth Imam (spiritual leader) of the holy chain of Shia Imams who was born on the 5th pf month of Sha’ban of the year 38 Hijri in medina.

His respected father is his holiness Hussein son of Ali son of Abu Talib (A.S) and it has been mentioned that his mother is Shahrbanoo, the daughter of the third Yazdgerd who was one of the kings from the Sasani dynasty.

Imam Sajjad’s surname (konyeh) is Abul Hassan and some of his respected nicknames are Zain – ul – Abedin, Sayyed – ul – Abedin, Zaki, Ameen and Sajjad.

Imam Sajjad (A.S) spent, for his growth and spiritual development, for a period of two years during the caliphate of Imam Ali (A.S), for a period of 10 years with his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S), and for a period of 11 years to obtain proper education from his father Imam Hussein (A.S). In 60 Hajri, whom the issue of allrgiance to Yazid was raised, Imam Sajjad started his journey towards Mecca with his father and relatives and therefore he did not swar allegiance to Yazid.

Finally, as a result of pursuance of the government officers on one hand, and the invitation of the people of Kuffa on the other hand, Imam Sajjad’s family was forced to go towards Kufa, however, unfaithfulness of the people of Kufa and attack by Yazid’s army forced them to stop in the land of Karbala.

On the 10th day oh Muharram the fire of war was inflamed between the few number of Imam Hussein’s (A.S) supporters and the great number of the army of Yazid.

His holiness Sajjad (A.S) was not allowed to participate in the bloody war on the daay of Ashura . because of his illness and severe fever, but he witnessed the martyrdom of his father, brothers, uncles and in short every man who was accompanying him. With the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (A.S), the heavy burden of Imamat ( spiritual leadership ) and the guidance of the Muslim community was forwarded to him.

The beginning of the Imamat ( spiritual leadership) of his holiness Sajjad (A.S) coincided with his captivity in Karbala. When he was forced to go from Karbala to Kufa, the enemy had pleased iron collar and chains around his neck and had fastened his hands to his neck.

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful


The Son of Mina (1)


"O! My dear son! Be aware that it is your life and nothing else, that fades away as the hours pass by; and also do know that you will not achieve a blessing, unless you are separated from another blessing. Thus, avoid prolonged wishes, for there were many who made wishes, but failed to achieve them."


(A part of Imam Sajjad's (PBUH) will to his son)


After the tragedy of Karbala and upon the arrival of the family of Prophethood as captives into the city of Shaam, Yazid, the Umayyad ruler of that period, called for a grand ceremony in the mosque of Damascus to celebrate his victory. He ordered to bring the captives into the ceremony. Continuing his father's tradition, Yazid had ordered the speaker to slander Amir al-Mu'minin and Imam Hussain (PBUT). After the speaker was through with his speech, Imam Sajjad (PBUH) said: "Let me climb up these woods and say some words that satisfy Allah and benefit the listeners with rewards and blessings." Yazid's disapproval to the Imam's request triggered people into wanting to hear what the Imam had to say. Yazid was left no choice but to allow the Imam to talk, lest the people come to realize Yazid's true devious character.

Once ascended upon the pulpit, the Imam began his speech by praising Allah (SWT); he then introduced himself to the audience. Due to the misleading propagandas of Yazid and Mu'awiyah, the people of Damascus had completely forgotten the firm and continuous recommendations of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) about Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT). They were therefore unaware of the true position and responsibility the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT) held in the structure of religion. Imam Sajjad (PBUH) said:

"Whosoever knows me, then be so; and whosoever does not, then know that I am the son of Mecca and Mina, I am the son of Zamzam(2) and Safa(3)…"


This sentence though short is offering a world of truth. It is one that recalls that even though Imam Sajjad (PBUH) and the rest of family did not attend Mina this year in Hajj, and even though they did not sacrifice a sheep like they would in the pilgrimage ritual(4), yet Mina is their property. For Mina was nothing more than a dead land as was Medina, Mecca, and even the Ka'ba. They were dead lands free of life and spirituality. And it was them whom by their journey to Karbala revived the land of Mina. Certainly, he who revives a dead land becomes thereafter its owner (5).  The owner of Mina is not one who sacrifices a sheep, camel, or the like in that area; rather its rejuvenator is him who sacrifices father, brother, uncle, and friends, and who offers captives and injured in the way of Allah (SWT). Indeed they are the owners and inheritors of Mina, just as they are the inheritors of Safa, Marwah, Zamzam and the Ka'ba. Their rising revived the Ka'ba, and gave Hajj its value and honor. Sacrificing a sheep, circumambulating the Ka'ba, and running between the mountains of Safa and Marwah are easy challenges everyone can accomplish.

Imam Sajjad (PBUH) then continued: "I am son of him who was taken to heavens …; I am the son of the Messenger of Allah, and I am the son of Ali". He paused and said: "I am the son of Fatimah al-Zahra, master of all women of the world."

With this speech, the battle that began with the forced demand of allegiance from Imam Hussain (PBUH) for Yazid, ended with Imam Hussain's (PBUH) victory in Damascus. As a consequence of Imam Sajjad's (PBUH) speech, people who had been celebrating thinking they had gained victory over non-believers, awakened from their ignorance and transformed the celebration to a mourning ceremony.


(Selection taken from Hamasah and Irfan, by Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli, with additional explanations)


Please accept our condolences on the 25th of Muharram, upon the martyrdom of Imam Ali Ibn Hussain (PBUH), the master of prostrators and the ornament of worshipers.


Roshd Islamic Shia Website




1- Mina is a land near Mecca that sacrificing (a Hajj ritual) is done there.

2- Zamzam is a well in Makkah around Masjid al-Haraam.  

3- Safa is a remnant of a mountain in Mecca from which the Hajj pilgrims must walk or run to Marwah.

4- Imam Hussain (PBUH) did not perform Hajj in the 60th year A.H. and as a result did not go to Mina. The reason was that Yazid had intended to assassinate Imam in Mecca, as he knew the Imam would be a threat to his government. Thus Imam was urged to only perform Umrah and move to Karbala.

5- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: "Anyone who revives a dead land, that land would be his/her property." (Tahdhib, vol. 7, p.152) Wiladat of Imam Zain al Abideen (A.S) our fourth Imam mubarak

Imam Ali Zainul Abideen (peace be upon him)



‘Ali ibnul Husain



Az-Zainul Abideen, As-Sajjaad



Abu Muhammad



15th Jamadi-ul-Awwal 37 A.H. in Madina



Imam Husain As-Shaheed (peace be upon him), 3rd Holy Imam



Shahr Bano, daughter of King Yazdigard II




21st Muharram, 95 A.H.


Madina, Arabia



58 years



Poisoned by Waleed bin Abdul Malik Marwan



Madina in Jannatul-Baqi

The holy Imam ‘Ali Zaynu ‘l-’Abidin is the Fourth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as “Zaynu’l-’Abidin”. The mother of this Holy Imam was the royal personage, Shahr Banu, the daughter of King Yazdgerd, the last pre-Islamic Ruler of Persia. Imam Zaynu’l-’Abidin spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather ‘All ibn Abi Talib and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle, the second Holy Imam al-Hasan ibn ‘All. In 61 AH, he was present in Karbala’, at the time of the gruesome tragedy of the wholesale massacre of his father, his uncles, his brothers, his cousins and all the godly comrades of his father; and suffered a heartless captivity and imprisonment at the hands of the devilish forces of Yazid. When Imam Husayn had come for the last time to his camp to bid goodbye to his family, ‘Ali Zaynu ‘l-’Abidin was lying semiconscious in his sickbed and hence he escaped the massacre in Karbala’. Imam Husayn could only manage a very brief talk with the inmates of his camp and departed nominating his sick son as Imam.

The Holy Imam Zaynu’l-’Abidin lived for about thirty-four years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and supplication to Allah and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being in prayers to Allah, mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was popularly called “Sajjad”. The knowledge and piety of this Holy Imam was matchless. az-Zuhrl, al-Waqid; and Ibn ‘Uyaynah say that they could not find any one equal to him in piety and godliness. He was so mindful of Allah that whenever he sat for ablution for prayers, the complexion of his face would change and when he stood at prayer his body was seen trembling. When asked why this was, he replied, “Know ye not before whom I stand in prayer, and with whom I hold discourse?”

Even on the gruesome day of ‘Ashura when Yazid’s forces had massacred his father, his kith and kin and his comrades and had set fire to the camp, this Holy Imam was engrossed in his supplications to the Lord. When the brutal forces of Yazid’s army had taken the ladies and children as captives, carrying them seated on the bare back of the camels, tied in ropes; this Holy Imam, though sick, was put in heavy chains with iron rings round his neck and his ankles, and was made to walk barefooted on the thorny plains from Karbala’ to Kufah and to Damascus; and even then this godly soul never was unmindful of his prayers to the Lord and was always thankful and supplicative to Him. His charity was unassuming and hidden. After his passing away, the people said that hidden charity ended with the departure of this Holy Imam. Like his grand-father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, ‘Ali Zaynu’l-’Abidin used to carry on his own back at night bags of flour and bread for the poor and needy families in Medina and he so maintained hundred of poor families in the city.

The Holy Imam was not only hospitable even to his enemies but also used to continually exhort them to the right path. Imam Zaynu ‘l-’Abidin along with the Ahlu ‘I-Bayt passed through dreadful and very dangerous times, for the aggressions and atrocities of the tyrant rulers of the age had reached a climax. There was plunder, pillage, and murder everywhere. The teachings of Islam were observed more in their breach. The heartless tyrant al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ath-Thaqaf; was threatening every one who professed allegiance or devotion to the Ahlu ‘I-Bayt; and those caught were mercilessly put to death. The movement of the Holy Imam was strictly restricted and his meeting with any person was totally banned. Spies were employed to trace out the adherents of the Ahlu ‘I-Bayt. Practically every house was searched and every family scrutinized.

Imam Zaynu ‘l-’Abidin was not given the time to offer his prayers peacefully, nor could he deliver any sermons. This God’s Vicegerent on earth therefore, adopted a third course which proved to be very beneficial to his followers. This was in compiling supplicative prayers for the daily use of man in his endeavour to approach the Almighty Lord. The invaluable collection of his edited prayers are known as as-Sahifah al-Kdmilah or as-Sahifah as-Sajjddiyyah; it is known also as az-Zabur (Psalm) of Al Muhammad The collection is an invaluable treasury of wonderfully effective supplications to the Lord in inimitably beautiful language. Only those who have ever come across those supplications would know the excellence and the beneficial effect of these prayers. Through these prayers the Imam gave all the necessary guidance to the faithful during his seclusion. On the 25th of Muharram 95 AH when he was in Medina, al-Walid ibn ‘Abdi ‘l-Malik ibn Marwan, the then ruler got this Holy Imam martyred by poison. The funeral prayers for this Holy Imam were conducted by his son the Fifth Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannatu ‘l-Baqi’ in Medina.

* * *

Allamah Tabatabai writes:

Imam Sajjad (‘Ali ibn al-Husayn entitled Zaynu’l-’Abidin and Sajjad) was the son of the Third Imam and his wife, the queen among women, the daughter of Yazdgerd the King of Iran. He was the only son of Imam Husayn to survive, for his other three brothers ‘Ali Akbar, aged twenty-five, five-year-old Ja’far and ‘Ali al-Asghar (or ‘Abdullah) who was a suckling baby were martyred during the event of Karbala’. The Imam had also accompanied his father on the journey that terminated fatally in Karbala’, but because of severe illness and the inability to carry arms or participate in fighting he was prevented from taking part in the holy war and being martyred. So he was sent with the womenfolk to Damascus. After spending a period in imprisonment he was sent with honour to Medina because Yazid wanted to conciliate public opinion. But for a second time, by the order of the Umayyad caliph, ‘Abdu ‘l-Malik, he was chained and sent from Medina to Damascus and then again returned to Medina. The Fourth Imam, upon returning to Medina, retired from public life completely, closed the door of his house to strangers and spent his time in worship. He was in con- tact only with the elite among the Shi’ites such as Abu Hamzah ath-Thumali, Abu Khalid Kabuli and the like. The elite disseminated among the Shi’ah the religious sciences they learned from the Imam. In this way Shi’ism spread considerably and showed its effects during the Imamate of the Fifth Imam. Among the works of the Fourth Imam is a book called Sahifah Sajjadiyyah. It consists of fifty-seven prayers concerning the most sublime Divine sciences and is known as “The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet.”

The Fourth Imam died (according to some Shl’ite traditions poisoned by al-Walid ibn ‘Abdi ‘l-Malik ibn Marwan through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham) in 95/712 after thirty-five years of Imamate.

Al-Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, peace be Upon him, said:

Refrain from lying in all things, big or small, in seriousness or in jest. For when one starts lying in petty matters, soon he will have the audacity to lie in important matters (also).

A man need not fear Allah except on account of his own sins, and should place his hopes only with his Lord. When about something one does not know, one should not be ashamed of having to learn about it. And patience is to faith what the head is to the body; one who does not have patience also lacks faith.

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