The world brightened when Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was born, for he would split the fountain of knowledge and wisdom in the earth. He would also show, through his behavior, wonderful examples of self-negation, renouncing the world, and cleaving to Allah. The Prophet's family was very happy to receive this blessed baby, of whom the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, gave good news. All the companions who had good relations with the members of the house (ahl al-Bayt) were happy to hear of the birth of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin.
Misfortunes and pain accompanied him from his childhood. Among them was that his pure mother died while he was still a baby in the cradle.
The Rites of his Birth
Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him or his son Ima`m Husayn, peace be on him hurried to perform the religious rites of birth for the blessed baby; he said the aza`n in his right ear and the iqama in his left year. 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 Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin was received was the words Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great)! These words were printed in his heart and senses, so they became some of his qualities. On the seventh day of his birth, his father sacrificed a ram for him (in the ceremony of a'qiqa ), cut his hair and gave silver or gold as equal to its weight as alms to the poor and needy according to the holy Islamic Sunna.
The Place of his Birth
The historians differed over the place where Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin was born. The following are what they have mentioned:
(A) He was born in Ku`fa.(Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 104).
(B) He was born in Medina.(Ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 187).
He was born in Ku`fa. 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, peace be on him.(Akhbar al-Diwal, p. 109).
It is certain that Ima`m al-Husayn and his family were in Ku`fa along with Ima`m 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. None of them lived in Medina throughout his succession (to authority).
The Time of his Birth
He was born on the fifth day of Sha'ban in the year 38 A.H.(Ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 212).
That was on Thursday.( Nur al-abbsar, p. 136).
The historians and the narrators unanimously agreed that the greatest Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, named his grandson 'Ali b. al-Husayn and gave him the surname of Zayn al-'Abidin. That was ten years before he was created, and that was among the wonderful signs of his prophecy. The accounts have been frequently reported on his authority. The following are some of them:
1.The great Companion Ja`bir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansa`ri reported: "While I was sitting with Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, he put al-Husayn on his lap and played with him, and then he, may Allah bless him and his family, said: 'Ja`bir, a son will be born for him, and the son will be called 'Ali. A caller will call out on the Day of Judgment: 'Let Sayyid al-'Abidin (the Lord of worshippers) stand up.' So his son will stand up. Then a son will be born for him, and the son will be named Mohammed. When you meet him, recite my greetings to him.'"
Ja`bir proclaimed this tradition, and he also met Ima`m Mohammed al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, and recited these greetings to him, and the latter was delighted with them.
2. Al-Ha`fiz b. 'Asa`kir reported on the authority of Sufya`n b. 'Ayyina, on the authority of b. al-Zubayr, who said: "While we were (sitting) with Ja`bir, 'Ali b. al-Husayn came. Ja`bir said to him: 'When I was (sitting) with Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, al-Husayn came to him. He (the Prophet) embraced him (al-Husayn), kissed him, sat him beside him, and said: 'A son will be born for this (i.e., al-Husayn), and a caller will call out on the Day of Judgment: 'Let Sayyid al-'Abidin (the Lord of worshippers) stand up, and he will stand up."(Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 36, p. 142).
3. Sa'id b. al-Musayyab reported on the authority of b. 'Abba`s, on the authority of Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, who said: "A caller will call out on the Day of Judgment: 'Where is 'Ali b. al-Husayn?' I will see my grandson 'Ali b. al-Husayn appear from among the ranks."( Ilal al-Sharaiya', p. 87. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 3).
These are some of the traditions which were narrated on the authority of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. They show that the Prophet named his grandson 'Ali and gave him the nick name of Zayn al-'Abidin (the adornment of the worshippers), and they also show that the Ima`m has an important position with Allah, the Glorified.
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, was given the Kunya of:
1. Abu` al-Husayn.
2. Abu` al-Hasan.
3. Abu` Mohammed.
4. Abu` 'Abd Allah.
His Nick Names
As for his nick names, they show his good inclinations, his excellent qualities, his noble morals, his obedience and worship to Allah. The following are some of them:
1. Zayn al-'Abidin
His grandfather Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, gave him this nick name, namely Zayn al-'Abidin or the Ornament of the worshippers, as we have already mentioned. The Ima`m was given this nick name because of he worshipped Allah abundantly.(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 7, p. 306. Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 104).
He his known and famous for this nick name, which has become his name. No one before or after him has been given this nick name. Indeed he is the ornament of the worshippers and pride of those who obey Allah, the Glorified.
2. Sayyid al-'Abidin
Among his prominent nick names is Sayyid al-'Abidin or the Lord of the worshippers, for he yield to Allah and obeyed Him, and no one worshipped Allah as he did except his grandfather, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him.
3. Dhu` al-Thafana`t
He was given the nick name of Dhu` al-Thafana`t or the one with calluses because something like the calluses of the camel appeared on the parts on which he prostrated.(Subha al-A-Shi'a, vol. 1, p. 452. Bahr al-Ansab, p. 25. Tuhaf al-Raghib, p. 13).
Ima`m Abu` Ja'far al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, said: "My father had prominent marks on the places on which he prostrated, and he cut them twice a year: (He) cut five calluses every time, so he was called Dhu` al-Thafana`t (the one with calluses)."'(Illal al-Sharaiya', p. 88 4. Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. vol. 4, p. 977. 'Illal al-Sharaiya' p. 88).
In another narration it is said that he collected his calluses in a bag and asked his children to bury them with him.
Among his holy nick names for which he is famous is Al-Sajja`d. or the one who constantly prostrated himself in prayer. He prostrated himself in prayer to Allah and obeyed him more than the people did. Ima`m Abu` Ja'far al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, talked about the constant prostration of his father, saying: "When 'Ali b. al-Husayn mentioned Allah's favors toward him, he prostrated himself in prayer. (When he) read a verse with prostration of the Book of Allah, the Great and Almighty, he prostrated himself in prayer.
When Allah drove away from him a misfortune which he was afraid of, he prostrated himself in prayer. (When he) finished his obligatory prayers, he prostrated himself in prayer. The marks of prostration were prominent on the parts on which he prostrated, so he was called al-Sajja`d." Ibn Hamma`d composed a poem about the constant prostration and worship of the Ima`m. The following are some lines of the poem:
The monk of ahl al-Bayt was and is still given the nick name of al-Sajja`d because of his worship.
He spent his days fasting, to turn to Allah in repentance, and he passed his night with night prayer.
Therefore, who is strong enough to perform his knowledge and his faithfulness, and who is strong enough to perform his piety and worship?
He was given the nick name of al-Zaki or the pure one because Allah purified him, as He took away uncleanness from his grandfathers and purified them completely.
Among his holy nick names for which he is famous is al-Amin or the trusted one.(Ibn al-Sabbagh, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 187. Bahr al-Ansab, p. 52. Nur al-Abbsar, 137).
He was ideal for this noble quality, so he, peace be on him, said: "If the killer of my father deposited with me the sword with which he killed him, I would give it to him."
7. Ibn al-Khiyaratayn
Another of his holy nick names for which he is famous is Ibn al-Khiyaratayn or the son of the best two. He was proud of this nick name and said: "I am the son of the best two." He referred to the words of his grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, who said: "Allah, the Glorified, has the best two from among His servants, so His best one from among the Arabs is Ha`shim and from among non-Arabs is the Persians."(Al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, vol. 1, p. 222. Ibn Khullakan, Wafayat al-A'yan, vol. 2, p. 429).
The Death of his Mother
The first misfortune which befell the Ima`m occurred in the early stages of his childhood with the death of his mother, who suffered from childbed fever.
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, did his best to save her from this dangerous illness but he was unable to do that. The illness destroyed her completely where she lost her vitality and became a lifeless body. She looked with pain and sorrow at her thin son, who was deprived of her affection and love.
The fever attacked her intensely, and she suffered from severe pain for numerous days till her soul ascended to heaven, so it was the most sublime soul that went to heaven.(Al-Mas'udi, Ithabat al-Wasiya, p. 143).
When she died, one of the plain pages of virtue and chastity and modesty ended. It was a sad day for the Prophet's family when this great lady died, for she represented honor and virtue. Ima`m Husayn, the prominent Muslim figures, and a large number of Muslims escorted her to her final resting house.
They buried her holy body in Ku`fa. Ima`m al-Husayn felt pain for the death of this lady, who lived among them for days like the days of flowers, namely she did not live for a long time.
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, suffered the death of his mother while he was in the early stage of his childhood. This was the beginning of the adversities and misfortunes which poured on no one else except him.
Ima`m al-Husayn, peace be on him, asked a pure lady from his slave-wives to look after his son Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin. This righteous woman took great care of him; she treated him as the affectionate mother treated her own son.
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him grew in an atmosphere of intense secrecy. No one told him about the death of his mother till he became a grown-up lest he should be upset and worried.1
His Physical Qualities
The historians have mentioned the Ima`m's physical features and qualities as follows: "'Ali b. al-Husayn was brown, short, thin, and gentle."(Nur al-Abbsar, p. 36. Akhbar al-Diwal, p. 109. Al-Sirat al-Sawi fi Manaqib al-Nabi, p. 192).
When he became old, he became thin and weak. This is because he worshipped Allah constantly. Moreover, the tragedy of Karbala`' drowned him in sorrow and pain, for its terrors accompanied him till he met the Highest Comrade (i.e. Allah).
The Ima`m's face shined with the light of the prophets. Hence the faces and foreheads yielded to his solemnity. Al-Farazdaq, the greatest Arab poet, described his solemnity in his wonderful ode, saying:
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
He only speaks when he smiles.
Al-Shaykha`ni al-Qa`diri said: "The beholders were fixed in gaze at the handsomeness of his face."(Al-Sirat al-Sawi fi Manaqib Al al-Nabi, p. 192).
His solemnity was similar to that of his grandfather, the greatest Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. Muslim b. 'Aqaba( who was criminal, blood-thirsty, violated all Islamic values and manners( admired his solemnity. When he saw the Ima`m, he shook with fear. Hence he received him warmly, treated him kindly, honored him, and said to those around him: "Indeed 'Ali Zayn al-'Abidin has the qualities of the prophets."
The Inscription of his Ring
As for the inscription of his ring, it showed that the Ima`m depended on Allah in all his affairs. The inscription of his ring read: "My success is not but by Allah.(Ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 187. Akhbar al-Diwal, p. k109. Al-Sirat al-Sawi fi Manaqib Al al-Nibi, p. 192).
CONGRATULATION ON SACRED BIRTHDAY OF IMAM ZEYNOLABEDIN (PEACE BE UPON HIM) TO ALL THE SHIITE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
The sun of being of Hazrat Ali Ibn Hossein- Zeynolabedin AlSajad (p.b.u.h.) from east side of Iranian queen and the Arab bride, Shahrbanoo rose in the year: 38 Hijri, two years before the martyrdom of his grand father, Amiralmomenin (p.b.u.h.) in Kufa. His sacred name was Ali, originated from transcendence, given from the name of his grandfather, having been originated from the name of Almighty God.
Shahrbanoo, daughter of Yazdgerd, Iranian king, having enjoyed an excellent education and spiritual goodness, peak of wisdom and knowledge, died as it is narrated, after Ali son of Hossein (p.b.u.h.) was born, thus, a woman named Shahrbanoo who was among the captives of Karbala, was not mother of Ali son of Hossein (p.b.u.h.), wife of Seyed-Al Shohada, daughter of Yazdgerd.
Imam Zeynolabdin returned Hajar Alasvad from Quaramites and installed it on sacred house at Mecca. The paradise stone spoke to witness that Hazrat Sajad was Imam. Most of the historians have registered the event. When there was a difference on Imamate after Imam Hossein (p.b.u.h.) between the followers of Hazrat Zeynolabedin (p.b.u.h.) and Mohammad son of Hanifeh, they stood against Hajar Alasvad and the stone clearly confirmed Imamate of Hazrat Zeynolabedin Imam Sajad (p.b.u.h.) in presence of many people.
One night, the fourth Imam was praying when Satan appeared to him as an awesome dragon and stood against him to abrupt him. The dragon kept a finger of Hazrat and pressed it. Imam Zeynolabedin (p.b.u.h.) paid no attention like his great grandfather Amiralmomenin (p.b.u.h.) and had a meditation with God, so he was named after the event: ZEYNOLABEDIN.
Imam Mohammad Bagher (p.b.u.h.) stated: "My father suggested to me not to company five types of the people: 1. A lewd man who will sell you with an impure price. 2. A greedy man who will far you from his needs. 3. A liar man who will like a mirage and will near whatever is far and will far whatever is near. 5. A stupid man who can not recognize your profit and your loss. 6. A man having no relationship with his family, who is cursed three times in Quran."
Unfortunately, many ignorant people call the fourth Imam as a patient Imam and by mentioning the title, they think about a suffering, disable man, having a pale face and oppressed soul, while it is not the truth. Because the fourth Imam was sick only when the event of Karbala happened and thereafter he was recovered and lived about 35 years like the other Imams, enjoying health.
Doubtless, his short term sickness during the event was a God's will so that he would be exempted of fighting to keep safe of Yazid and his mercenary, so that the line of Imamate would not disconnect. If Imam was not sick at that time, he should fight with Yazid and would be martyred like his father and the light of guidance would turn off.
After the event of Ashoura, the fourth Imam had a dilemma. He would oppose the ruling regime by exciting the people, as he was able to do so, among those who believed in Imam and his movement, to create a hilarious occurrence, which would of course be removed like a flame due to lack of circumstances necessary for a deep action and resistance to make the field of thought and policy empty, ready for attacks of Bani Omayeh, or to control the surface sentiments by a proper policy, and to prepare firstly the requirements necessary for the great action.
A guiding thought and some pure elements are needed for commencement of the main action- renewal of being of Islam, recreation of the society and Islamic system. He should protect the lives of his limited followers, so that they would not empty the field for the enemy, as long as they were living and as long as they could be concealed of the searching frightened looks of Bani Omayeh regime, keeping the front- the front of construction of pious men, the front of education of thought, continuing a hidden fight. He would let the Imam who would come after him, to continue the same path, till reaching the destination, …. Doubtlessly, the first path was that would be selected by those who would sacrifice themselves. But a leader of a religion whose action's effects would cover not only the limited circle of his time, but the whole life of the history, should not suffice making sacrifices, but he shall enjoy deep thought and should be patient and wise. Such conditions made Imam to select the second path. The fourth Imam selected the second path to commence a series of guiding cultural, educational programs and indirect resistance, without making the government sensitive. The activities he made are as follows:
1. Keeping Alive the Memory of Ashoura:
Since martyrdom of Imam Hossein (p.b.u.h.) and his followers remained an impact on the public thought which was dangerous for the Omavid governors, making the people doubtful of legitimacy of such a government, Imam was crying for the martyrs not to allow the fire extinguish and to keep the memory alive. He continued an opposition by crying on the martyrs.
Indeed, reaction of Imam Sajad (p.b.u.h.) had a political result. He was reminding the people repeatedly of the event of Karbala, not letting the betray and crime of Omavid be forgotten. Whenever he wanted to drink, whenever he saw water, he tore and if he was asked the result of his tears, he would say, how can I help crying when they let the animals have water in the deserts, but they did not my father drink water?!
2. Guidance of the Nation:
Since the fourth Imam was living in the era of strangulation, he could not clearly express the definitions he considered, so he was preaching and though his preaches, he was making the people familiar with true Islamic thoughts and was reminding to the people the pure and original thoughts which had been forgotten during the time due to negative advertisement of the evil rulers. He was introducing to the people and to the Islamic society as much as possible the realities of Islam.
A sample of one of the statements of Imam (p.b.u.h.) was a detailed preach he made to Abou Hamzeh Samali- one of his best friends and closest followers.
3. Elaboration of Cultures at Classes of Prayers:
Since at the time of the fourth Imam (p.b.u.h.) there were stifling rulers, he had to express his goals and aims within prayers. Collection of his prayers is known as Sahifeh Sajadieh, making a valuable treasury of realities and divine instructions after Quran and Nahjolbalagheh, so that it has been named by distinguished scientists as Okht Alquran, Bible of Prophet's Family, Testament of followers of Mohammad.
4. Encountering and Fighting with Royal scientists:
One of the most sensational discussions about lives of Imams is their encountering with improper thoughts and cultures in the Islamic societies of their eras, i.e. the jurists, interpreters, scholars, and royal judges. They were those who were guiding the beliefs of the people for the benefit of the oppressive powers, making them get used to the situation concerned by caliphs of Bani Omayeh and Bani Abbas, making them obedient and submissive to the situation, creating for them fields of thought and mind, so that they would accept their government.
5. Advertisement of Decrees and Educational and Moral Effects:
One of the other dimensions of fights of the fourth Imam with the evils and immorality of his era was advertisement of Islamic decrees and elaboration of educational and ethical discourses.
6. Helping the Needy:
One of the bright dimensions of life of the fourth Imam (p.b.u.h.) was his social services fulfilled during the dark era. He was taking as an stranger the bags of bread and food to the needy. He stated: a hidden alms will extinguish the fire of God's Fury."
7. Educational Center:
At advent of Islam, slavery was common throughout the world, because such an extended phenomenon could not be removed suddenly, Islamic paved the way for gradual removal of slavery in different ways. Islam decreased the ways of slavery and limited it on one part and announced compulsory releasing the slaves as a gift to God to forgive many sins and this way made many slaves, free.
The fourth Imam (p.b.u.h.) considered it humanistic and educational to release the slaves. He was buying the slaves, was instructing them and then was releasing them, so that they would make cultural and educational activities as models of good men. None of them stop their relationship with Imam after being released.
This program of Imam (p.b.u.h.) is worth considering, taking into account the limitations he had in direct guidance of society.