The First Infallible; the Holy Prophet of Islam
Muhammad Ibn-e Abdallah (Peace Be Upon Him and His Progeny)
Agnomen: Ab al-Qasem
Father's name: Abdollah Ibn-e Abd al-Muttalib
Mother's name: Aminah Bint-e Wahb
Birth: Born in Mecca on Friday, 17th Rabi’ al-awwal, in the Year of Elephant
Death: Demised at the age of 63 in Medina on Monday, 28th Safar, 11 AH; buried in his house, adjoining the mosque, in Medina.
The Holy Prophet said: “The first thing God created was my nur (light).”
The prophet was originally from the oldest and noblest tribe in the whole of Arabia, Bani Hashim. They were the descendants of Ibrahim through his son Ismaeil. The Arabs respected and loved them for their goodness, knowledge and bravery.
In Mecca, baby boy Muhammad (PBUH) was born on 17th Rabi’ al-awwal, 570 AD. His father Abdollah, son of Abd al-Muttalib, died before he was born and when he was six, he lost his loving mother Aminah Bint-e Wahb. His grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib, took the responsibility of his upbringing. At the age of ten, he was bereft because his venerable grandfather passed away, too. On his deathbed, he appointed his son Abu Talib as the guardian of Muhammad (PBUH).
Gentle, soft spoken, tall and handsome, Muhammad (PBUH), accompanied the trading caravans of Abu Talib, across the deserts, giving him deep insight into nature and man.
The wealthy noble lady Khadijah, looking for a manager for her rich mercantile caravans, selected Muhammad (PBUH), the Trustee. Able and fair dealing, Muhammad (PBUH) was a tremendous success. Khadijah, already an admirer, made him an offer of marriage, Muhammad (PBUH) was twenty-five and Khadijah forty. In spite of this disparity in age, the marriage proved to be a very happy one.
Lover of nature and quiet and worried about human sufferings, Muhammad (PBUH) very often retired to Mount Hira' for meditations. One night, Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) a voice addressing him, commanded: "Recite in the Name of thy Lord." (Surah al-Alaq 96:1)”. Deeply excited by the strange phenomenon of Divine Visitation, Muhammad (PBUH) hurried home to his wife, Khadijah, who listened to him attentively and said: "I bear witness that you are the Apostle of God."
After an interval, the voice from heaven spoke again "O thou shrouded in thy mantle, arise, and warn, and magnify thy Lord." (Surah al-Muddathir 74:1-3) This was a signal for him to start preaching the gospel of truth of the One God.
In the beginning Muhammad (PBUH) invited only those near him, to accept the new Faith. The first to embrace Islam among women was Khadijah and among men Ali (PBUH).
For three long years, he labored quietly to wean his people from the worship of idols and drew only thirty followers. Muhammad (PBUH) now decided to appeal publicly to the Quraysh to give up idol worship and embrace Islam.
He invited forty of his kinsmen to a feast. At the gathering, Muhammad (PBUH) stated that he had lived a lifetime among them and asked if they had ever found him lying? Upon receiving their approval, he asked them whether they would believe what he would tell them and all of the people present at the gathering said that they would. So the prophet announced that he was appointed by God as the Prophet. At the end he mentioned that anyone who helped him in this path would be his deputy and caliph. The only person who volunteered to assist the Holy Prophet was Ali (PBUH) (who was then given the title of "Amir al-Mu'minin" (the Commander of the faithful). So, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) appointed him as his deputy and asked everyone to follow and obey Ali (PBUH) thereafter.
In the last year of his life, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went on his last Hajj pilgrimage, to Mecca. On his return to Medina, his strength rapidly failed and the poison (administered at the Khaybar war by a Jewess) took its deadly toll and so ended the life dedicated to the service of God and humanity from first to last, on 28th Safar, 11 AH.
The Holy Prophet of Islam not only inspired reverence, but love owing to his humility, nobility, purity, austerity, refinement and devotion to duty. The Master inspired all who came into contact with him. He shared his scanty food; he began his meals in the Name of Allah and finished them uttering thanks; he loved the poor and respected them, he would visit the sick and comfort the heart-broken; he treated his bitterest enemies with clemency and forbearance, but the offenders against society faced justice; his intellectual mind was remarkably progressive and he said that man could not exist without constant efforts.
Imam Ali (PBUH): “Muhammad (PBUH) is the last of all the prophets. There shall be no prophet after him. Revelation came to an end on his passing away. The sons of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are the best sons and his Ahl al-bayt, are the best Ahl al-bayt. Follow your Apostolic Imams.”
“Faith is not accepted without action, nor is action accepted without faith.”
“Be patient with people so that you too are treated with forbearance.”
“One will not succeed in his work without three things: God-wariness to keep him from committing sins, morals in order to treat people leniently and patience with which they can avoid ill-mannered people.”
“There are three kinds of people who harm the religion: knowledgeable sinners, tyrant leaders and ignorant religious authorities.”
“Be friends with the poor since they have eminence on the Day of Judgment.”
“The best in the eyes of God are those who have better manners.”
“The most beloved servants before God are those who are the most beneficial to the servants of God.”
“The best of you are the best to your wives.”
The Third Infallible, the Daughter of the Holy Prophet, Fatemeh Al-Zahra' (Peace Be Upon Her)
Agnomen: Umm al-A'immah.
Father's name: Muhammad Ibn-e `Abdullah.
Mother's name: Khadijah Bint-e Khuwaylid.
Birth: Born in Mecca on Friday, 20th Jumad al-thany
Death: Passed away at the age of 18 in Medina on 14th Jumad al-ula 11 AH (632 AD); buried in the graveyard called Jannat al-Baqi' in Medina.
Fatemeh, the only daughter of the Holy Prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca on 20th Jumad al-thany (614 AD). The noble Lady Khadijah and the Apostle of Allah bestowed all their natural love, care and devotion on their lovable and only child Fatemeh, who in her turn was extremely fond of her parents. The Princess of the House of the Prophet was very intelligent, accomplished and cheerful. Her sermons, poems and sayings serve as an index to her strength of character and nobility of mind.
The motherly blessings and affection received by Hazrat Fatemeh were only for five years, after which Hazrat Khadijah left for her heavenly home. Hereafter the Holy Prophet brought her up. Her virtues gained her the title "Our Lady of Light". She was tall, slender and endowed with great beauty, which caused her to be called "al-Zahra' " (the Lady of Light). She was called al-Zahra' because her light used to shine among those in Heaven.
When Fatemeh came of age, there came forward a number of aspirants to ask for her hand in marriage. The Holy Prophet was awaiting the Divine order in this respect, till Imam Ali approached him and asked for her hand in marriage.
The Holy Prophet came to Hazrat Fatemeh and asked, "My daughter! Do you consent to be wedded to Ali, as I am so commanded by Allah? "
Hazrat Fatemeh thereupon bowed her head in modesty. Umm-e Salameh narrates: "The face of Fatemeh bloomed with joy and her silence was so suggestive and conspicuous that the Holy Prophet stood up reciting Allah-o Akbar' (Allah is the greatest). Fatemeh's silence is her acceptance."
After arriving in Medina, she married `Ali, in the first year after Hijrah, and she gave birth to her children, Hassan, Hussain, Zeynab and Umm-e Kulthum are well-known for their piety, goodness and generosity. Their strength of character and actions changed the course of history.
The Holy Prophet said, "Fatemeh is a piece of my heart". She is famous and acknowledged as the "Sayyidah al-nisaa al-aalamin" (Leader of all the women of the world for all times). He also said: Whoever injures Fatemeh injures me; and whoever injures me injures Allah; and whoever injures Allah practices unbelief.
Hazrat Fatemeh inherited the genius and wisdom, the determination and will-power, the piety and sanctity, the generosity and benevolence, the devotion and worship of Allah, the self-sacrifice and hospitality, the forbearance and patience, and the knowledge and nobility of disposition of her illustrious father, both in words and deeds. "I often witnessed my mother," says Imam Hussain, "absorbed in prayer from dusk to dawn." Her generosity and compassion for the poor was such that no destitute or beggar ever returned from her door unattended.
Hazrat Fatemeh did not survive more than seventy-five or ninety five days after the demise of her father. Before her demise she bequeathed the following as her will to Imam `Ali:
1. O Ali, you will personally perform my funeral rites.
2. Those who have displeased me should not be allowed to attend my funeral.
3. My corpse should be carried to the graveyard at night.
As a daughter, she loved her parents so much, that she won their love and regard to such an extent that the Holy Prophet used to rise, whenever she came near him.
As a wife, she was very devoted. She never asked `Ali for anything in her whole life.
As a mother, she cared for and brought up wonderful children; they have left their marks on the face of the world, which time will not be able to erase.
The tragedy of her father's death and the unkindness of her father's followers, were too much for the gentle and sensitive lady and she passed away in the prime of her life at the age of eighteen, and was buried in Jannat al-Baqi', Medina.
The Second Infallible; the First Imam, Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib, Amir Al-Mu'minin (PBUH)
Agnomen: Abu al-Hassan
Father's name: Abu Talib Ibn-e `Abd al-Muttalib
Mother's name: Fatemeh Bint-e Asad
Birth: In the Holy Ka'bah in Mecca on Friday, 13th Rajab 23 BH
Death: Martyred at the age of 63, in Kufah (Iraq) on Monday, 21st Ramadan 40 AH; murdered by an assassin who mortally wounded him with a poisoned sword in the mosque of Kufah during the Morning Prayer on 19th Ramadan; buried in al-Najaf al-Ashraf (Iraq).
Ali (PBUH) was born in the Sacred House (Ka'bah). When his mother (Fatemeh Bint-e Asad) came to Ka'bah, she felt weighed down by intense pain of pregnancy. She knelt down before the Holy Structure and prayed humbly to God. Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, saw Ali's mother praying to God. No sooner had she raised her head from supplication, then the wall of the Sacred House split by a solemn miracle. Fatemeh entered the Ka'bah and that portion returned to its normal position.
Imam Ali (PBUH) was born within the Ka'bah with his eyes closed and his body in humble prostration before the Almighty. Fatemeh stayed in the Ka'bah for three days and as the fourth day approached she stepped out, carrying her gem in her arms. To her great surprise, she found the Holy Prophet (PBUH) waiting to receive the newly-born child in his anxious arms. Imamate feeling the subtle touch of prophethood, [Ali] opened his eyes and saluted the Divine Prophet: "السلام علیک یا رسول الله" (Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah).
Imam Ali's birth in the Ka'bah is unique in the history of the world. Neither a prophet nor a Divine saint was ever blessed with such an honor. He was brought up under the care and affection of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Ten years in the company of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had kept him so close and inseparable, that he was one with him in character, knowledge, self-sacrifice, forbearance, bravery, kindness, generosity, oratory and eloquence.
From his very infancy, he prostrated before God along with the Holy Prophet (PBUH). As he himself said: "I was the first to pray to God along with the Holy Prophet (PBUH)".
Imam Ali (PBUH) is indisputably the first to embrace Islam when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) called upon his listeners to do so.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said of Ali (PBUH): “O Ali, you are my brother in this world as well as in the Hereafter. I am the city of knowledge and 'Ali is the gate. Nobody knows Ali except Allah and I. Nobody knows me except Allah and Ali. If you want to see the knowledge of Adam, the piety of Noah, the devotion of Abraham, the awe of Moses, and the service and abstinence of Christ, look at the bright face of Ali”.
Under Divine instruction, the Apostle of Allah married his beloved daughter Fatemeh to Ali (PBUT), though others vainly tried for her hand.
Among their children, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain, Zeynab and Umm-e Kulthum (PBUT) have left their marks on the history of the world.
After the demise of Hazrat Fatemeh, Imam Ali (PBUH) married Umm al-Banin. `Abbas was born out of this wedlock and was so handsome that, he was fondly called Qamar Bani Hashim. He personified loyalty and bravery and proved it in the battlefield at Karbala'.
In the 40th year of Hijrah, in the small hours of the morning of 19th Ramadan, Imam Ali (PBUH) was struck with a poisoned sword by a Kharijite while offering his prayers in the mosque of Kufah.
The Lion of God, the most brave-hearted and gentle Muslim that ever lived began his glorious life with devotion to Allah and His Apostle and ended it in the service of Islam.
The First Imam:
Imam Ali (PBUH) was present in all the wars in which the Prophet participated, except the battle of Tabuk when he was ordered to stay in Medina in place of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He did not retreat in any battle nor did he turn his face away from any enemy. He never disobeyed the Holy Prophet (PBUH), so that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Ali is never separated from the Truth, nor the Truth from Ali."
On the day of the death of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Imam Ali (PBUH) was thirty-three years old. Although he was foremost in religious virtues and the most outstanding among the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), he was pushed aside from the caliphate on the claim that he was too young and that he had many enemies among the people because of the blood of the polytheists he had spilled in the wars fought alongside the Prophet (PBUH). Therefore, Imam Ali (PBUH) was almost completely cut off from public affairs. He retreated to his house where he began to train competent individuals in the Divine sciences and in this way he passed the twenty-five years of the caliphate of the first three caliphs who (came to power after the Prophet (PBUH); the first by election of few Muslims; the second appointed by the first; and the third, chosen out of six unequal candidates nominated by the second caliph). When the third caliph was killed, people gave their allegiance to him and he was chosen as Caliph.
During his caliphate of nearly four years and nine months, Imam Ali (PBUH) followed, exactly, the way of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and gave his caliphate the form of a spiritual movement and renewal and began many different types of reforms. Naturally, these reforms were against the interests of certain parties that sought their own benefit. Therefore most of the days of Imam Ali's caliphate were spent in overcoming internal opposition. Finally, in the morning of the 19th Ramadan in the year 40 AH, while praying in the mosque of Kufah, he was wounded by one of the Kharijites and died as a martyr during the night of the 21st.
According to the testimony of friend and foe alike, Imam Ali (PBUH) had no shortcomings from the point of view of human perfection. And in the Islamic virtues he was a perfect example of the upbringing and training given by the Holy Prophet
There are many stories told of Imam Ali's kindness to the lowly, compassion for the needy and the poor, and generosity and munificence toward those in misery and poverty. Imam Ali (PBUH) spent all that he earned to help the poor and the needy, and he himself lived in the strictest and simplest manner. Imam Ali (PBUH) loved agriculture and spent much of his time digging wells, planting trees and cultivating fields. But all the fields that he cultivated or wells that he built he gave in endowment (waqf) to the poor. His endowments, known as the "alms of Ali (PBUH)," had the noteworthy income of twenty-four thousand gold dinars towards the end of his life (Shia Islam).
The Fourth Infallible; the Second Imam
Al-Hassan Ibn-e Ali, al-Mujtabaa (Peace Be Upon Him)
Agnomen: Abu Muhammad.
Father's name: Ali Amir al-Mu'minin (PBUH).
Mother's name: Fatemeh (PBUH) (daughter of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)).
Birth: In Medina on Tuesday, 15th Ramadan 3 AH.
Death: Martyred at the age of 46, in Medina on Thursday, 28th Safar 50 AH; buried in Jannat al-Baqi'e, in Medina.
Imam Hassan (PBUH) was the eldest son of Imam Ali and Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUT). When the Holy Prophet (PBUH) received the happy news of the birth of his grandson, he came to the house of his beloved daughter, took the newly born child in his arms, recited Azaan and Iqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and in compliance with Allah's command named him al-Hassan.
The first phase of seven years of his infancy was blessed with the gracious patronage of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), who gifted him all his great qualities and adorned him with Divine knowledge, tolerance, intelligence, bounty and valor. Being infallible by birth and decorated with heavenly knowledge by Allah, his insight had an access to al-lawhul-mahfuz (the Guarded Tablet on which the transactions of mankind have been written by Allah for all eternity).
The Holy Imam immediately became conversant with all the contents of any wahy (Qur'anic verses) revealed when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would disclose it to his associates. To the great surprise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUH) would often recite the exact text of a newly revealed wahy before he disclosed it personally to her. When he inquired, she would inform him that it was Hassan (PBUH) through whom she had learned the revelation.
Remembrance of Allah:
The Holy Imam devoted himself to prayers in such abundance, that all the limbs employed in prostration bore scars and impressions of his sajdah (prostration). Most of the nights were spent on the prayer-carpet. The sense of his absorption and humiliation in prayers to Allah were in such earnest that he would shed tears profusely out of fear of Allah. While performing ablution, he trembled with the fear of Allah and his face grew pale at the time of prayers. His earnest meditation in the offering of prayers and his extreme absorption in communion with Allah would render him entirely unconscious of his environments.
Piousness and Contentment:
Imam Hassan (PBUH) had the worldly possessions at his disposal and could have well enjoyed a luxurious life, but he utilized all of it in the betterment of the condition of the poor. He was so courteous and humble that he never hesitated to sit along with the beggars in the lanes and on the thoroughfares of Medina to reply to some of their religious queries. Through his cordial attitude and hospitality he never let the poor and the humble feel inferior to him when they visited his abode. It is said that he twice gave all his wealth and three times half of his assets to the needy people for the sake of God.
Religious leadership (Imamate):
The demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was followed by an eventful era when the Islamic world (under the false ruling bodies) came in the grip of the fever of expansionism and conquest. But even under such a revolutionary phase, Imam Hassan (PBUH) kept devoting himself to the sacred mission of peacefully propagating Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) along with his great father Imam Ali (PBUH).
The martyrdom of Imam Ali (PBUH) on the 21st of Ramadan marked the inception of Imam Hassan's Imamate. The majority of Muslims pledged their allegiance to him and finalized the formality of bay'ah (oath of allegiance). No sooner had he taken the reins of leadership into his hands than he had to meet the challenge of Mu'awiyah, the Governor of Syria, who declared a war against him. In compliance with the Will of Allah and with a view to refrain from causing the massacre of Muslims, however, he concluded a conditional peace treaty with Mu'awiyah. The treaty, though not totally respected and carried out by Mu'awiyah, yet saved Islam and stopped a civil war. But this peace treaty was never meant as surrendering by him the permanent leadership to Mu'awiyah. It was meant only as an interim transfer of the administration of the Islamic kingdom, subject to the condition that the administration would be surrendered back to Imam Hassan (PBUH) after Mu’awiya’s death and then it would in turn be inherited by Imam Hussain (PBUH). Having relieved himself of the administrative responsibilities, Imam Hassan (PBUH) kept the religious leadership with himself and devoted his life to the propagation of Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Medina.
Mu'awiyah's malice against Imam Hassan (PBUH) led him to conspire with the Imam's wife Ja'dah, the daughter of Ash'ath. She was made to give the Imam some poison which affected his liver. Imam Hassan (PBUH) thus succumbed to Mu’awiyah's fatal mischief and attained his martyrdom on 28th Safar 50 AH. His funeral was attended by Imam Hussain (PBUH) and the members of the Hashimite family. His bier while being taken for burial to the Holy Prophet's tomb was shot at with arrows by his enemies, (under direct supervision and consent of A'ishah), and it had to be diverted for burial to the Jannat al-Baqi`e in Medina. His tomb was demolished along with others on 8th Shawwal 1344 AH (21st April 1926) by the Saudi rulers when they came to power in Hijaz.
The terms of the peace treaty were soon violated, but earned only a short-lived glory for Mu’awiyah. Its aftermath proved disastrous and doomed the fate of his son Yazid and dealt a fatal blow to the entire family of Umayyad. After the death of Mu'awiyah, Imam Hussain (PBUH) emerged as the insurmountable mountain of truth and determination. In the gruesome tragedy of Karbalaa, by sheer force of numbers, and by isolating the seventy-two members of Imam Hussain's party and stopping them from even getting water to drink for three days, Yazid succeeded in annihilating the seventy-two persons including members of the Imam's family who were with him.
This dastardly success of Yazid was, however, short-lived. The Muslims turned against him on learning of the heinous act he had committed and this resulted in the downfall of Yazid and the extinction of the Umayyad power from the face of the earth.
In human perfection Imam Hassan (PBUH) was reminiscent of his father and a perfect example of his noble grandfather. Both Sunni and Shia sources have transmitted this saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) concerning Hassan and Hussain (PBUT): "These two children of mine are Imams (leaders) whether they stand up or sit down" (allusion to whether they occupy the external function of caliphate or not). Also, there are many traditions of the Holy Prophet and Imam Ali (PBUT) concerning the fact that Imam Hassan (PBUH) would gain the function of Imamate after his noble father.
“If you fail to obtain something of worldly benefit, take it as if the thought of it had never crossed your mind at all.”
“Never did a nation resort to mutual counsel except that they were guided by it towards maturity.”
“It is love which brings closer those who are remote by ancestry, and it is (the absence of) love which causes dissociation between those who are related by ancestry.”
“Opportunity is something which is quick to vanish and late to return.”
The Fifth Infallible; the Third Imam
Al-Hussain Ibn-e Ali Sayyid al-Shuhada' (PBUH)
Title: Sayyid al-Shuhada'
Agnomen: Abi `Abdillah
Father's name: Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib
Mother's name: Fatemeh (daughter of the holy Prophet)
Birth: In Medina on Thursday, 3rd Sha'ban 4 AH
Death: Martyred in Karbala' (Iraq) at the age of 57, on Friday, 10th Muharram 61 AH and buried there
In the house of the holy Prophet (PBUH), a child who benefited humanity as if he was a Divine Impression reflecting the earth, was born on one of the nights of the month of Sha`ban. His father was Imam Ali (PBUH), the best model of kindness towards his friends and the bravest against the enemies of Islam, and his mother was Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUH), the beloved daughter of the holy Prophet (PBUH) who had, as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father. Imam Hussain (PBUH) is the third Apostolic Imam. When the good news of his birth reached the holy Prophet (PBUH), he came to his daughter's house, took the newly-born child in his arms, recited Azaan and Iqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and on the 7th day of his birth, after performing the rites of aqiqah, named him al-Hussain, in compliance with Allah's command.
Abdullah Ibn-e Abbas relates: "On the very day when Imam Hussain (PBUH) was born, Allah ordered angel Gabriel to descend and congratulate the holy Prophet (PBUH) on His Behalf and on his own. While descending, Gabriel passed over an island where the angel Futrus had been banished due to his delay in executing a commission assigned by Allah. He was deprived of his wings and expelled to the island where he remained for several years praying and worshipping Allah and asking for His forgiveness.
When the angel Futrus saw Gabriel, he called out: “Where are you going, O Gabriel?” To this he replied: “Hussain (PBUH), the grandson of Muhammad is born, and for this very reason Allah has commanded me to convey His congratulations to His Apostle.” Thereupon, the angel said: “Can you carry me also along with you? May Muhammad recommend my case to Allah.” Gabriel took the angel along with him, came to the holy Prophet, offered congratulations to him on behalf of Allah and himself and referred the case of the angel to him. The holy Prophet said to Gabriel: “Ask the angel to touch the body of the newly-born child and return to his place in Heaven.” On doing this, the angle re-obtained his wings instantly and praising the holy Prophet and his newly born grandson, ascended towards the Heaven.
Hassan and Hussain (PBUT) , the two sons of the holy Imam Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib and Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUT), our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the `Leaders of the Youths of Paradise' as stated by the holy Prophet.
The holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, had openly prophesied that the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Hussain (PBUH), when Yazid, son of Mu’awiyah, would endeavour to destroy it.
Yazid was known for his devilish character and brutish conduct. He was known as the most licentious of men. People, having known and understood the character of Yazid, formed a covenant by which Mu'awiyah could not appoint Yazid as his successor. This undertaking was given by Mu'awiyah to Imam Hassan from whom Mu'awiyah had snatched power. Mu'awiyah violated this undertaking and nominated Yazid who succeeded his father.
Immediately as he came to power, Yazid began acting in full accordance with his known character. He started interfering in the fundamentals of the faith and practiced every vice and wickedness freely with the highest degree of impunity and yet held himself out as the successor of the holy Prophet, demanding allegiance to himself as the leading guide of the faith. Paying allegiance to Yazid was nothing short of acknowledging the devil as God. If a divine personality like the holy Imam Hussain (PBUH) had agreed to his authority, it would be actually recommending the devil to humanity in place of God. Yazid demanded allegiance from the holy Imam Hussain (PBUH), who could have never agreed to it at any cost. People, fearing death and destruction at the hands of the tyrant, had yielded to him out of fear. Imam Hussain (PBUH) said that come whatever may, he would never yield to the devil in place of God and undo what his grandfather, the holy Prophet had established.
The refusal of the holy Imam to pay allegiance to this fiend marked the start of the persecution of the holy Imam. As a result, he had retired to Medina where he led a secluded life. Even here he was not allowed to live in peace, and was forced to seek refuge in Mecca where also he was badly harassed, and Yazid plotted to murder him in the very precincts of the great sanctuary of Ka'bah.
In order to safeguard the great sanctuary, Imam Hussain (PBUH) decided to leave Mecca for Kufah just a day before the hajj pilgrimage. When asked the reason for the mysterious departure from Mecca foregoing the pilgrimage which was only the next day, Imam Hussain (PBUH) said that he would perform this year's pilgrimage at Karbala', offering the sacrifice not of any animals, but of his kith and kin and some faithful friends. He enumerated the names of his kith and kin who would lay down their lives with him in the great sacrifice at Karbala'.
The people of Kufah getting tired of the tyrannical and satanic rule of Yazid, had written innumerable letters and sent emissaries to Imam Hussain (PBUH) to come over and give them guidance in faith. Although Imam Hussain (PBUH) knew the ultimate end of the invitations, he as the divinely chosen Imam could not refuse to give the guidance sought for. When the holy Imam with his entourage had reached Karbala', his horse mysteriously stopped and would not move any further. Upon this the holy Imam declared: "This is the land, the land of sufferings and tortures." He alighted from his horse, and ordered his followers to encamp there saying: "Here shall we be martyred and our children be killed. Here shall our tents be burned and our family arrested. This is the land about which my grandfather the holy Prophet had foretold, and his prophecy will certainly be fulfilled."
On the 7th of Muharram water supply to the Imam's camp was cut and the torture of thirst and hunger started. The holy Imam's camp consisted of ladies, innocent children including babies and some male members of the holy Prophet's family; along with a small band of some faithful friends of Imam Hussain (PBUH) who had chosen to die with the holy Imam, fighting against the devil for the cause of Allah.
The Day of `Ashura (10th of Muharram):
At dawn the Imam glanced over the army of Yazid and saw `Umar Ibn-e Sa'd ordering his forces to march towards him. He gathered his followers and addressed them thus: "Allah has, this day, permitted us to be engaged in a Holy War and He shall reward us for our martyrdom. So prepare yourselves to fight against the enemies of Islam with patience and resistance. O sons of the noble and self-respecting persons! Be patient! Death is nothing but a bridge which you must cross after facing trials and tribulations so as to reach Heaven and its joys. Which of you do not like to go from this prison (world) to the lofty palaces (Paradise)?"
Having heard the Imam's address, all his companions were overwhelmed and cried out, "O our Master! We are all ready to defend you and your Ahl AL-bayt, and to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam."
Imam Hussain (PBUH) sent out from his camp one after another to fight and sacrifice their lives in the way of the Lord. Lastly, when all his men and children had laid down their lives, Imam Hussain (PBUH) brought his six-month old baby son `Ali al-Asqar, and offering him on his own hands, demanded some water for the baby, dying of thirst. The thirst of the baby was quenched by a deadly poisoned arrow from the brute's forces, which pinned the baby's neck to the arm of the helpless father. At last when the six-month old baby also was killed, Imam Hussain (PBUH) addressed Allah: "O Lord! Thy Hussain has offered in Thy way whatever Thou hath blessed him with. Bless Thy Hussain, 0 Lord, with the acceptance of this sacrifice. Everything Hussain could do till now was through Thy help and by Thy Grace." Lastly, Imam Hussain (PBUH) came into the field and was killed, the details of which merciless slaughter are heart rending. The forces of Yazid, having killed Imam Hussain (PBUH), cut and severed his head from his body and raised it on a lance. The severed head of the holy Imam began glorifying Allah from the point of the lance saying, 'Allah-o Akbar'("All glory be to Allah Who is the Greatest!").
After the wholesale, merciless and most brutal slaughter of the holy Imam with his faithful band, the helpless ladies and children along with the ailing son of Imam Hussain (PBUH), Imam Ali Zayn al-`Abidin (PBUH), were taken captives.
Al-Allamah al-Tabataba'i writes:
Imam Hussain (PBUH) (Sayyid al-Shuhada', "the lord among martyrs"), the second child of Imam Ali and Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUT), was born in the year 4 AH, and after the martyrdom of his brother, Imam Hassan Mujtabaa, became Imam through Divine Command and his brother's will. Imam Hussain (PBUH) was Imam for a period of ten years, all but the last six months coinciding with the caliphate of Mu'awiyah. Imam Hussain (PBUH) lived under the most difficult outward conditions of suppression and persecution. This was due to the fact that, first of all, religious laws and regulations had lost much of their weight and credit, and the edicts of the Umayyad government had gained complete authority and power. Secondly, Mu'awiyah and his aides made use of every possible means to put aside and move out of the way the Household of the Prophet and the Shi'a, and thus obliterate the name of Ali and his family. And above all, Mu'awiyah wanted to strengthen the basis of the caliphate of his son, Yazid, who because of his lack of principles and scruples was opposed by a large group of Muslims. Therefore, in order to quell all opposition, Mu'awiyah had undertaken newer and more severe measures. By force and necessity, Imam Hussain (PBUH) had to endure these days and to tolerate every kind of mental and spiritual agony and affliction from Mu'awiyah and his aides - until in the middle of the year 60 AH, Mu'awiyah died and his son Yazid took his place.
Paying allegiance (bay'ah) was an old Arab practice which was carried out in important matters such as that of kingship and governorship. Those who were ruled, and especially the well-known among them, would give their hand in allegiance, agreement and obedience to their king or prince and in this way would show their support for his actions. Disagreement after allegiance was considered as disgrace and dishonour for people and, like breaking an agreement after having signed it officially, it was considered as a definite crime. Following the example of the holy Prophet, people believed that allegiance, when given by free will and not through force, carried authority and weight.
Mu'awiyah had asked the well-known among the people to give their allegiance to Yazid, but had not imposed this request upon Imam Hussain (PBUH). He had especially told Yazid in his last will that if Hussain (PBUH) refused to pay allegiance he should pass over it in silence and overlook the matter, for he had understood correctly the disastrous consequences which would follow if the issue were to be pressed. But because of his egoism and recklessness, Yazid neglected his father's advice and immediately after the death of his father ordered the governor of Medina either to force a pledge of allegiance from Imam Hussain (PBUH) or send his head to Damascus.
After the governor of Medina informed Imam Hussain (PBUH) of this demand, the Imam, in order to think over the question, asked for a delay and overnight started with his family toward Mecca. He sought refuge in the sanctuary of God which in Islam is the official place of refuge and security. This event occurred toward the end of the month of Rajab and the beginning of Sha'ban of 60 AH.
For nearly four months Imam Hussain (PBUH) stayed in Mecca in refuge. This news spread throughout the Islamic world. On the one hand many people who were tired of the iniquities of Mu’awiya’s rule and were even more dissatisfied when Yazid became caliph, corresponded with Imam Hussain (PBUH) and expressed their sympathy for him. On the other hand, a flood of letters began to flow, especially from Iraq and particularly the city of Kufah, inviting the Imam to go to Iraq and accept the leadership of the populace there with the aim of beginning an uprising to overcome injustice and iniquity. Naturally, such a situation was dangerous for Yazid.
The stay of Imam Hussain (PBUH) in Mecca continued until the season for pilgrimage when Muslims from all over the world poured in groups into Mecca in order to perform the rites of the hajj. The Imam discovered that some of the followers of Yazid had entered Mecca as pilgrims (hajjis) with the mission to kill the Imam during the rites of hajj with the arms they carried under their special pilgrimage dress (ihram).
The Imam shortened the pilgrimage rites and decided to leave. Amidst the vast crowd of people he stood up in a short speech announced that he was setting out for Iraq. In this short speech he also declared that he would be martyred and asked Muslims to help him in attaining the goal he had in view and to offer their lives in the path of God. On the next day, he set out with his family and a group of his companions for Iraq.
Imam Hussain (PBUH) was determined not to give his allegiance to Yazid and knew full well that he would be killed. He was aware that his death was inevitable in the face of the awesome military power of the Umayyads, supported as it was by corruption in certain sectors, spiritual decline, and lack of will power among the people, especially in Iraq.
Some of the outstanding people of Mecca stood in the way of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and warned him of the danger of the move he was making. But he answered that he refused to pay allegiance and give his approval to a government of injustice and tyranny. He added that he knew that wherever he turned or went he would be killed. He would leave Mecca in order to preserve the respect for the House of God and not allow this respect to be destroyed by having his blood spilled there.
While on the way to Kufah and still a few days journey away from the city, he received news that the agent of Yazid in Kufah had put to death the representative of the Imam in that city and also one of the Imam's determined supporters who was a well-known man in Kufah. Their feet had been tied and they had been dragged through the streets. The city and its surroundings were placed under strict observation and countless soldiers of the enemy were awaiting him. There was no way open to him but to march ahead and to face death. It was here that the Imam expressed his definitive determination to go ahead and be martyred; and so he continued on his journey.
Approximately seventy kilometres from Kufah in a desert named Karbala', the Imam and his entourage were surrounded by the army of Yazid. For eight days they stayed in this spot during which the circle narrowed and the number of the enemy's army increased. Finally the Imam, with his Household and a small number of companions were encircled by an army of thirty thousand soldiers. During these days the Imam fortified his position and made a final selection of his companions. At night he called his companions and during a short speech stated that there was nothing ahead but death and martyrdom. He added that since the enemy was concerned only with his person he would free them from all obligations so that anyone who wished could escape in the darkness of the night and save his life. Then he ordered the lights to be turned out and most of his companions, who had joined him for their own advantage, dispersed. Only a handful of those who loved the truth about forty of his close aides and some of the Bani Hashim remained.
Once again the Imam assembled those who were left and put them to a test. He addressed his companions and Hashimite relatives, saying again that the enemy was concerned only with his person. Each could benefit from the darkness of the night and escape the danger. But this time the faithful companions of the Imam answered each in his own way that they would not deviate for a moment from the path of truth of which the Imam was the leader and would never leave him alone. They said they would defend his Household to the last drop of their blood and as long as they could carry a sword.
On the ninth day of the month the last challenge to choose between "allegiance and war" was made by the enemy to the Imam. The Imam asked for a delay in order to worship overnight and became determined to enter battle on the next day.
On the tenth day of Muharram of the year 61 AH, the Imam lined up before the enemy with his small band of followers, less than ninety persons consisting of forty of his companions, thirty some members of the army of the enemy that joined him during the night and day of war, and his Hashimite family of children, brothers, nephews, nieces and cousins. That day they fought from morning until their final breath, and the Imam along with his companions were all martyred. Among those killed were two children of Imam Hassan, who were only thirteen and eleven years old; and a five-year-old child and a suckling baby of Imam Hussain (PBUH).
The army of the enemy, after ending the war, plundered the haram (Household) of the Imam and burned his tents. They decapitated the bodies of the martyrs, denuded them and threw them to the ground without burial. Then they moved the members of the haram, all of whom were helpless women and girls, along with the heads of the martyrs, to Kufah. Among the prisoners there were three male members: a twenty-two years old son of Imam Hussain (PBUH) who was very ill and unable to move, namely, `Ali Ibn-e al-Hussain (PBUH), the fourth Imam; his four years old son, Muhammad Ibn-e Ali (PBUH), who became the fifth Imam; and finally Hassan al-Muthanna (PBUH), the son of the second Imam who was also the son-in-law of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and who, having been wounded during the war, lay among the dead. They found him near death and through the intercession of one of the generals did not cut off his head. Rather, they took him with the prisoners to Kufah and from there to Damascus before Yazid.
The event of Karbala', the capture of the women and children of the Household of the Prophet, their being taken as prisoners from town to town and the speeches made by the daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH), Hazrat Zaynab (PBUH), and the fourth Imam who were among the prisoners, disgraced the Umayyads. Such abuse of the Household of the Prophet annulled the propaganda which Mu'awiyah had carried out for years. The matter reached such proportions that Yazid in public disowned and condemned the actions of his agents. The event of Karbala' was a major factor in the overthrow of Umayyad's rule although its effect was delayed. It also strengthened the roots of Shi'ism. Among its immediate results were the revolts and rebellions combined with bloody wars which continued for twelve years. Among those who were instrumental in the death of the Imam not one was able to escape revenge and punishment.
Anyone who studies closely the history of the life of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and Yazid and the conditions that prevailed at that time, and analyses this chapter of Islamic history, will have no doubt that in those circumstances there was no choice before Imam Hussain (PBUH) but to be killed. Swearing allegiance to Yazid would have meant publicly showing contempt for Islam, something which was not possible for the Imam, because Yazid not only showed no respect for Islam and its injunction but also made a public demonstration of impudently treading under foot its basis and its laws. Those before him, even if they opposed religious injunctions, always did so in the guise of religion, and at least formally respected religion. They took pride in being companions of the holy Prophet and the other religious figures in whom people believed. From this it can be concluded that the claim of some interpreters of these events is false when they say that the two brothers, Hassan and Hussain (PBUT), had two different tastes and that one chose the way of peace and the other the way of war, so that one brother made peace with Mu'awiyah although he had an army of forty thousand while the other went to war against Yazid with an army of forty. For we see that this same Imam Hussain (PBUH), who refused to pay allegiance to Yazid for one day, lived for ten years under the rule of Mu'awiyah, in the same manner as his brother who also had endured for ten years under Mu'awiyah, without opposing him.
It must be said in truth that if Imam Hassan or Imam Hussain (PBUH) had fought Mu'awiyah they would have been killed without there being the least benefit for Islam. Their deaths would have had no effect before the righteous appearing policy of Mu'awiyah, a competent politician who emphasized his being a companion of the holy Prophet, the "scribe of the revelation," and "uncle of the faithful" and who used every stratagem possible to preserve a religious guise for his rule. Moreover, with his ability to set the stage to accomplish his desires he could have had them killed by their own people and then assumed a state of mourning and sought to revenge their blood, just as he sought to give the impression that he was avenging the killing of the third caliph. (Shi`a Islam)
“Beware of your apologies; for a true believer does not sin and does not have to apologize, whereas the hypocrite commits sins every day and apologizes every day.”
“When other people turn to you in need, consider it a favour of Allah. Do not be wearied of this favour, or it will move on to someone else.”
“Experience enhances the intellect.”
The Sixth Infallible - The Fourth Imam
Ali Ibn-e al-Hussain, Zain al-‘abidin (PBUH)
Title: Zayn al-’Abidin
Agnomen: Abu Muhammad
Father's name: al-Hussain Sayyid al-Shuhada'
Mother's name: Shahr Banu, daughter of Yazdgerd III, the King of Persia
Birth: In Medina, on Saturday, 15th Jumadi al-ula 36 AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 58, in Medina; poisoned by al-Walid Ibn-e `Abd al-Malik Ibn-e Marwan on 25th Muharram 95 AH; buried in Jannat al-Baqi', in Medina
The holy Imam Ali Ibn-e al-Hussain (Zayn al-Abidin) (PBUH) is the Fourth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as "Zayn al-Abidin". He was the son of the third Imam of Shi’a, Hussain ibn-e Ali ibn-e Abitalib (PBUH), and his mother was the royal personage, Shahr Banu, the daughter of King Yazdgerd III, the last pre-Islamic Ruler of Persia.
Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (PBUH) spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib (PBUH) and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle, the second holy Imam, Hassan Ibn-e Ali al-Mujtabaa (PBUH). 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 Hussain (PBUH) had come for the last time to his camp to bid goodbye to his family, Ali Ibn-e al-Hussain -Zayn al-`Abidin- (PBUH) was lying semi- conscious in his sickbed and hence he escaped the massacre in Karbala'. Imam Hussain (PBUH) could only manage a very brief talk with the inmates of his camp and departed nominating his sick son as Imam.
The holy Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (PBUH) 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. Al-Zuhri, al-Waqidi and Ibn-e 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 you 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 supplicated 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 grandfather, Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib (PBUH), Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (PBUH) used to carry on his own back bags of flour and bread for the poor and needy families in Medina at night and he so maintained hundreds 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.
Political and Religious Condition:
Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (PBUH) along with the Ahl al-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-e Yusuf al-Thaqafi was threatening everyone who professed allegiance or devotion to the Ahl al-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 Ahl al-bayt. Practically every house was searched and every family scrutinized.
Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (PBUH) 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 supplication prayers for the daily use of man in his endeavour to approach the Almighty Lord.
The invaluable collection of his edited prayers is known as “Al-Sahifah al-Kamilah” or “Al-Sahifah al-Sajjaddiyyah”; it is known also as “Al-Zabur (Psalm) of Aal-e Muhammad (PBUH)”. 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-e Abd al-Malik Ibn-e Marwan, the ruler of that time, got this holy Imam martyred by poison. The funeral prayers for this holy Imam were conducted by his son, the Fifth Imam, Muhammad Ibn-e Ali (al-Baqir) (PBUH) and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannat al-Bagi ' in Medina.
Al-`Allamah al-Tabataba'i writes:
Imam Sajjad (Ali Ibn-e al-Hussain entitled Zayn al-’Abidin) (PBUH) 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 Hussain (PBUH) 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, `Abd al-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 contact only with the elite among the Shi’as such as Abu Hamzah al-Thumali, Abu Khalid Kabuli and the like. The elite disseminated among the Shi'a 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 (PBUH)."
The Fourth Imam martyred (according to some Shi’a traditions poisoned by al-Walid Ibn-e `Abd al-Malik Ibn-e Marwan through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham) in 95/712 after thirty-five years of Imamate.
“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.”
The Seventh Infallible; the Fifth Imam
Muhammad Ibn-e Ali Al-Baqir (PBUH)
Agnomen: Abu Ja'far
Father's name: Ali Zayn al-`Abidin
Mother's name: Fatemeh bint al-Hassan, known as Umm-e Abd Allah
Birth: In Medina, on Tuesday, 1st Rajab 57 AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 57, in Medina on Monday, 7th
Zual-hijjah 114 AH; poisoned by Hisham Ibn-e Abd al-Malik; buried in Jannat al-Baqi', in Medina
The holy Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) is the Fifth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Ja'far and he was popularly titled "al-Baqir". His mother was the daughter of Imam Hassan (PBUH). Thus, he was the only Imam who was connected with Hazrat Fatemeh al-Zahra, both from his paternal and maternal sides.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) was brought up in the holy lap of his grandfather Imam Hussain (PBUH), for three years. For thirty-four years he was under the gracious patronage of his father, Imam Ali Zayn al-`Abidin (PBUH).
The holy Imam was present in Karbala' at the time of the gruesome tragedy of the wholesale massacre of his grandfather Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his companions. He also suffered with his father and the ladies of the Prophet’s household (Ahl al-bayt) the heartless captivity and imprisonment at the hands of the devilish forces at the command of Yazid Ibn-e Mu’awiyah.
Political and Religious Condition:
After the tragedy of Karbala', the Imam passed his time peacefully in Medina praying to Allah and guiding people to the right path.
The downfall of the Umayyad had begun since Yazid, the son of Mu'awiyah, had slaughtered Imam Hussain (PBUH). Yazid himself had completely realized the evil consequences of his deeds even during the short period of his rule. His son Mu'awiyah the second, refused to accept the caliphate saying I cannot favour such a throne which has been erected on the basis of oppression and tyranny.
Ibn-e Hajar al-Haytami, a famous scholar belonging to the Sunnite School says: "Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) has disclosed the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and unfolded the principles of spiritual and religious guidance. Nobody can deny his exalted character, his God-given knowledge, his divinely-gifted wisdom and his obligation and gratitude towards spreading of knowledge. He was a sacred and highly talented spiritual leader and as a result he was popularly titled ‘al-Baqir' which means `the expander of knowledge'. Being Kind hearted, spotless in character, sacred by soul and noble by nature, the Imam devoted all his time in submission to Allah (and in advocating the teachings of the holy Prophet and his descendants (PBUT)). It is beyond the power of a man to count the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithful. His sayings in devotion and abstinence, in knowledge and wisdom, and in religious exercise and submission to Allah are so great in number that the volume of this book is quite insufficient to cover them all." (al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqah, p. 120)
The holy Imam managed to collect the teachings and reforms of the holy Prophet and his Ahl al-bayt (PBUT) in the form of books. His pupils compiled books on different branches of science and arts under his instructions and guidance.
In the excellence of his personal purity and godly traits, the holy Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) was a model of the holy Prophet and his great grandfather, Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib (PBUT). His admonitions created a spiritual sensation among the Muslims in general. He was not only hospitable even to his worst enemies but also used to continually exhort them to the right path. He urged people to earn their livelihood by their own hard work.
The holy Imam gave much importance to majalis (meetings) in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Kumayl Ibn-e Zayd al-Asadi, one of the most famous and highly talented poets of that time, used to recite the elegy of Imam Hussain in those majalis. Such types of majalis were also greatly encouraged by Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq and Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUT), the Sixth and the Eighth Imams.
He was a man of great virtue and leadership, a man of a vast knowledge, great forbearance, great moral discipline, worship, generosity and kindness.
A Christian man, mispronouncing Imam's name, once said to him,
"Are you Baqar?" (meaning, a 'Cow').
The Imam said:"No, I am Baqir."
The man then said: "Are you the son of female cook?"
The Imam said: “Yes, that is her profession!"
The man then said: "Are you the son of the bad negro woman?"
The Imam said: "If what you say is true, then may Allah forgive her and if what you say is not true, then may Allah forgive you."
This moved the Christian man so much so, that he became a Muslim.
He had profound knowledge and he would answer every question without delay. Ibn-e Ata of Mecca has said this about the Imam:
"I never saw the scholars look such small as they did in the presence of the Imam Mohammad Baqir (PBUH). I saw al-Hakam Ibn-e Utaybah, with all his prestige in the community, but looked just like a child in the presence of Imam Muhammad Baqir (PBUH)."
Mohammad Ibn-e Muslim has said this:
"I asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) all the questions that would come to my mind. I asked him about thirty thousand Hadiths."
The Fifth Imam would recite all the names and all the attributes of Allah very often. His son Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH) has said of his father:
"My father would recite Allah's names very often and even when walking he would keep reciting Allah's names. And the conversation of the people before him would not distract him or stop him from reciting Allah's names. He would pray a lot at night and his tears would flow tremendously during his prayers."
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) continued his preaching peacefully till 114 AH. On the 7th Zual-hijjah when he was fifty-seven years old, Hisham Ibn-e Abd al-Malik Ibn-e Marwan, the ruler of time, got him martyred through poison. The funeral prayer for this holy Imam was conducted by his son Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH), the Sixth Imam, and his body was laid to rest in Jannat al-Baqi' in Medina.
Al-Allamah al-Tabataba'i writes:
Imam Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Baqir (PBUH) (the word `Baqir' means he who cuts and dissects, a title given to him by the Prophet) was the son of the Fourth Imam and was born in 57/675. He was present at the event of Karbala' when he was four years old. After his father, through Divine Command and the decree of those who went before him, he became Imam. In the year 114/732 he martyred, according to some Shiite traditions, he was poisoned by Ibrahim Ibn-e al-Walid Ibn-e Abdillah, the nephew of Hisham, the Umayyad caliph.
During the Imamate of the Fifth Imam, as a result of the injustice of the Umayyad, revolts and wars broke out in some corner of the Islamic world every day. Moreover, there were disputes within the Umayyad family itself which kept the caliphate busy and to a certain extent left the members of the household of the holy Prophet (PBUH) alone.
From the other side, the tragedy of Karbala' and the oppression suffered by the household of the holy Prophet (PBUH), of which the Fourth Imam was the most noteworthy embodiment, had attracted many Muslims to the Imam. These factors combined to make it possible for people and especially the Shi’as to go in great numbers to Medina and to come into the presence of the Fifth Imam. Possibilities for disseminating the truth about Islam and the sciences of the household of the holy Prophet (PBUH), which had never existed for the Imams before him, were presented by the Fifth Imam. The proof of this fact is the innumerable traditions recounted from the Fifth Imam and the large number of illustrious men of science and Shi`a scholars who were trained by him in different Islamic sciences. These names are listed in books of biographies of famous men in Islam. (Shi`a Islam)
“The height of perfection is excellence in the understanding of the religion, endurance in hardships and administration of the affairs of life according to one's means, in the right measure.”
“The scholar ('alim) who derives benefit from his knowledge is better than seventy thousand devotees ('abid).”
“One who disobeys Allah has no knowledge of Him.”
The Eighth Infallible; the Sixth Imam
Ja`far Ibn-e Muhammad al-Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him)
Agnomen: Abu Abdallah.
Father's name: Muhammad al-Baqir.
Mother's name: Umm-e Farwah.
Birth: In Medina, on Monday, 17th Rabi’ul-awwal 83A.H.
Death: Martyred at the age of 65, in Medina on Monday, 25th Shawwal 148 AH; poisoned by al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi, the Abbasid caliph.
The Holy Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq was the sixth in the succession of the twelve Apostolic Imams. His epithet was Abu Abdallah and his famous titles were al-Sadiq, al-Fazil and al-Tahir. He was the son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, the Fifth Imam, and his mother was the daughter of al-Qasim Ibn-e Muhammad Ibn-e Abi Bakr.
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq was brought up by his grandfather, Imam Zayn al-Abidin in Medina for twelve years and then remained under the sacred patronage of his father Imam Muhammad al-Baqir for a period of nineteen years.
Religious leadership (Imamate):
After the martyrdom of his holy father in 114 AH, he succeeded him as the Sixth Imam, and thus the sacred trust of Islamic mission and spiritual guidance was relayed down to his custody right from the Holy Prophet through the succession of the preceding Imams.
The period of his Imamate coincided with the most revolutionary and eventful era of Islamic history which saw the downfall of the Umayyad Empire and the rise of the Abbasid caliphate. The internal wars and political upheavals were bringing about speedy re-shufflements in government. Thus, the Holy Imam witnessed the reigns of various kings starting from Abd al-Malik down to the Umayyad ruler Marwan al-Himar. He further survived till the time of Abu al- Abbaas al-Saffah and al-Mansur among the Abbasids. It was due to the political strife between two groups viz., the Umayyads and Abbasids for power that Imam was left alone undisturbed to carry out his devotional duties and peacefully carry on his mission to propagate Islam and spreading the teachings of the Holy Prophet.
In the last days of the Umayyad rule, their Empire was tottering and was on the verge of collapse, and a most chaotic and demoralized state of affairs prevailed throughout the Islamic State. The Abbasids exploited such an opportunity and availing themselves of this political instability, assumed the title of "Avengers of Banu Hashim". They pretended to have stood for the cause of taking revenge on the Umayyads for shedding the innocent blood of the Holy Imam Hussain.
The common people who were groaning under the yoke of the Umayyads were fed up with their atrocities and were secretly yearning for the progeny of the Holy Prophet to take power. They realized that if the leadership went to the Ahl al-bayt, who were their legitimate heir, the prestige of Islam would be enhanced and the Prophet's mission would be genuinely propagated. However, a group of the Abbasids secretly dedicated their lives to a campaign for seizing power from the hands of the Umayyads on the pretext that they were seizing it only to surrender it to the Banu Hashim. Actually, they were plotting for their own ends. The common people were thus deceived into supporting them and when these Abbasids did succeed in snatching the power from the Umayyads, they turned against the Ahl al-bayt.
The downfall of the Umayyads and the rise of the Abbasids constituted the two principal plots in the drama of Islamic history. This was a most chaotic and revolutionary period when the religious morals of Islam had gone down and the teachings of the Holy Prophet were being neglected, and a state of anarchy was rampant. It was amidst such deadly gloom that the virtuous personage of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq stood like a beacon of light shedding its luster to illuminate the ocean of sinful darkness around. The world got inclined towards his virtuous and admirable personality. Abu Salamah al-Khallal also offered him the throne of the caliphate. But the Imam keeping up the characteristic tradition of his ancestors flatly declined to accept it, and preferred to content himself with his devotional pursuits and service to Islam on account of his many debates with the priests of rival orders like Atheists, Christians, Jews, etc.
The versatile genius of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq in all branches of knowledge was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world, which attracted students from far-off places towards him till the strength of his disciples had reached four thousand. The scholars and experts in Divine Law have quoted many hadiths (traditions) from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq. His disciples compiled hundreds of books on various branches of science and arts. Other than fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), hadith (tradition), tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Qur'an), etc., the Holy Imam also imparted mathematics and chemistry to some of his disciples. Jabir Ibn-e Hayyan al-Tusi, a famous scholar of mathematics, was one of the Imam's disciples who benefited from the Imam's knowledge and guidance and was able to write four hundred books on different subjects.
It is an undeniable historical truth that all the great scholars of Islam were indebted for their learning to the very presence of the Ahl al-bayt who were the fountain of knowledge and learning for all.
Allamah al-Shibli writes in his book Sirat al-Nu`man: "Abu Hanifah remained for a considerable period in the attendance of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, acquiring from him a great deal of precious research on fiqh and hadith. Both the sects -Shi'a and Sunni - believe that the source of Abu Hanifah's knowledge was mostly derived from his association with Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq."
The Imam devoted his whole life to the cause of religious preaching and propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet and never strove for power. Because of his great knowledge and fine teaching, the people gathered around him, giving devotion and respect that was his due. This excited the envy of the Abbasid ruler al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi, who fearing the popularity of the Imam, decided to do away with him.
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq lived a very simple life. He himself would work in his garden growing his own food of vegetables. The Sixth Imam was very generous person, and of excellent moral perfections. He had very polite manners in his social dealings of his visitors and hosted and treated them equally. It has been said, that during his prayers of worship to God, his concentration was so great, he was totally oblivious of his immediate surroundings. In fact so much so, that he would not feel any bodily contact to his person.
On 25th Shawwal 148 AH, the governor of Medina by the order of al-Mansur got the Imam martyred through poison. The funeral prayer was conducted by his son Imam Musa al-Kazim, the Seventh Imam, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi'e.
“One who has these five characteristics is the choicest of men: one who feels joyous when he does something good; one who repents when he does something bad; one who is grateful when he receives something from Allah; one who patiently endures Allah's trials; one who forgives when he is done some injustice or wrong. Closer to Allah: forgiving one who has wronged him; being generous to one who had deprived him; being kind to a kinsman who has not observed his rights of kinship.”
“The true believer does not transgress the limits of fairness in a fit of anger; he does not do anything unjustifiable for the sake of favor to some; neither does he take more than his due share, though he may have the power.”
The Ninth Infallible; the Seventh Imam
Musa Ibn-e Ja'far Al-Kazim (PBUH)
Agnomen: Abu Ibrahim
Father's name: Ja'far al-Sadiq
Mother's name: Hamidah al-Barbariyyah
Birth: In Abwa' (between Mecca and Medina), 7th Safar or 19th Zual-Hijjah 128 AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 55, in Baghdad, on 25th Rajab 183 AH; poisoned by Harun al-Rashid; buried in al-Kazimiyyah, Baghdad
The holy Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) is the Seventh Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu al-Hassan and his famous title was al-Kazim. His matchless devotion and worship of God has also earned him the title of "al-'Abd al-Salih" (virtuous slave of God). Generosity was synonymous with his name and no beggar ever returned from his door empty handed. Even after his death, he continued to be obliging and was generous to his devotees who came to his holy tomb with prayers and behests which were invariably granted by God. Thus, one of his additional titles is also "Bab al-Hawaij" (the door to fulfilling needs).
Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) passed twenty years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his holy father. His inherent genius and gifted virtues combined with the enlightened guidance and education from the holy Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH), showed in the manifestation of his future personality. He was fully versed with the Divine Knowledge even in his childhood.
The holy Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH) breathed his last on 25th Shawwal 148 AH, and with effect from the same date Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) succeeded the holy office of Imamate as the Seventh Imam. The period of his Imamate continued for thirty-five years. In the first decade of his Imamate, Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of his sacred office and carried on the propagation of the teachings of the holy Prophet (PBUH). But soon after, fell victim to the ruling kings and a greater part of his life passed in prison.
Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) was the most knowledgeable person of his time and the best of them. He was very generous, brave and of excellent spiritual perfections and worship with long prostrations in the presence of Allah.
His control over his anger was as such that he was named “AI-Kazim”, which means having great control over one's anger. Al-`Allamah al-Majlisi relates that once Abu Hanifah happened to call upon the holy abode of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH) to ask him about some religious matters (masa'il). The Imam was asleep and so he kept waiting outside till the Imam's awakening. Meanwhile, Musa Ibn-e Ja'far (PBUH), who was then five years old, came out of his house. Abu Hanifah, after offering him his best compliments, enquired:
"O the son of the holy Prophet! What is your opinion about the deeds of a man? Does he do them by himself or does God make him do them?"
"O Abu Hanifah", the five years old son of Imam replied at once, in the typical tone of his ancestors, "the doings of a man are confined to three possibilities. First, that God alone does them while the man is quite helpless. Second, that both God and the man do equally share the commitment. Third, that man does them alone. Now, if the first assumption is true, it obviously proves the unjustness of God who punishes His creatures for sins which they have not committed. And if the second condition be acceptable, even then God becomes unjust if He punishes the man for the crimes in which He is equally a partner. But the undesirability of both these conditions is evident in the case of God. Thus, we are naturally left with the third alternative to the problem that men are absolutely responsible for their own doings."
Political and Religious Condition:
Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the despotic `Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel administration. He witnessed the reigns of al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi, al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. Al-Mansur and Harun al-Rashid were the despotic kings who put a multitude of innocent descendants of the holy Prophet to the sword. Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into horrible dark prisons during their lifetime. These depraved caliphs knew no pity or justice and they killed and tortured for the pleasure they derived from human sufferings.
The holy Imam was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur because the king, being occupied with his project of constructing the new city of Baghdad, could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam. By 157 AH the city of Baghdad was built. This was soon followed by the death of its founder a year later. After al-Mansur, his son al-Mahdi ascended the throne. For a few years he remained indifferent towards the Imam. When in 164 AH he came to Medina and heard about the great reputation of the Imam, he could not resist his jealousy and the spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahl al-bayt was rekindled. He somehow managed to take the Imam along with him to Baghdad and got him imprisoned there. But after a year he realized his mistake and released the Imam from jail. Al-Mahdi was succeeded by al-Hadi who lived only for a year. Then, in 170 AH, the most cruel and tyrannical king Harun al-Rashid appeared at the head of the `Abbasid Empire. It was during his reign that the holy Imam passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison till he was poisoned.
Moral and Ethical Excellence:
As regards his morality and ethical excellence, Ibn-e Hajar al-Haytami remarks: "The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) was such that he was given the title of `al-Kazim' (one who swallows down his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of God and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did wrong to him."
His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and help the poor and destitute of Medina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessities of sustenance secretly. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam's lifetime as to who their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his death.
Time and circumstances did not permit the holy Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) to establish institutions to impart religious knowledge to his followers as his father, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH) and his grandfather, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) had done. He was never allowed to address a congregation. He carried on his mission of preaching and guiding people quietly.
In 179 AH, Harun al-Rashid visited Medina. The fire of malice and jealousy against the Ahl al-bayt was kindled in his heart when he saw the great influence and popularity which the holy Imam enjoyed amongst the people there. He got the Imam arrested while he was busy in prayer at the tomb of the holy Prophet (PBUH) and kept him in prison in Baghdad for a period of about four years. On the 25th Rajab 183 AH, he got the Imam martyred by poisoning. Even his corpse was not spared humiliation and was taken out of the prison and left on the Bridge of Baghdad. His devotees, however, managed to lay the holy body of the Imam to rest in al-Kazimiyyah (Iraq).
“No charity is superior to giving a helping hand to the weak.”
“Never bother to learn something not knowing which does not do you any harm, and never neglect to learn something whose negligence will increase your ignorance.”
The Tenth Infallible The Eighth Imam
Ali Ibn-e Musa Al-Reza (PBUH)
Agnomen: Abu al-Hassan.
Father's name: Musa al-Kazim.
Mother's name: Umm al-Banin Najmah.
Birth: In Medina, on Thursday, 11th Zual-Qa'dah 148, AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 55, in Mashhad (Khurasan), The last day of Safar 203, AH; poisoned by al-Ma'mun, the Abbasid caliph; buried in Mashhad, Iran.
Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) was brought up under the holy guidance of his father for thirty-five years. His own insight and brilliance in religious matters combined with the excellent training and education given by his father made him unique in his spiritual leadership. Imam al-Reza (PBUH) was a living example of the piety of the great Prophet (PBUH) and the chivalry and generosity of Imam Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib (PBUH).
Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) was well aware of the aggressive designs of the government in power against the Imamate and therefore, during his lifetime he declared Imam al-Reza (PBUH) as his successor in the presence of hundred and seventy-one prominent religious divines and called upon his sons and his family to submit to him and refer to him in all matters after him. He also left behind a written document declaring the succession of Imam al-Reza (PBUH) duly signed and endorsed by not less than sixteen prominent persons. All these necessary steps were taken by the great Imam to avoid any confusion that may have arisen after his death.
Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) was poisoned while he was still in prison and expired on 25th Rajab 183, AH and on the same day Imam al-Reza (PBUH) was declared as the Eighth Imam of the Muslim world. Imam al-Reza (PBUH) had the great task before him of coming out with the correct interpretation of the Holy Qur'an; specially under the most unfavorable circumstances prevailing under the government of Harun al-Rashid. Many Shia Muslims were imprisoned and those who were free and could not be jailed faced untold atrocities and sufferings. Imam al-Reza (PBUH), of course, had impressive effects on his age, by carrying on the mission of the Great Prophet (PBUH) in a peaceful manner even during the most chaotic periods, and it was mostly due to his efforts that the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his descendants became widespread.
Imam al-Reza (PBUH) had inherited great qualities and characteristics from his ancestors. He was a versatile person and had full command over many languages. Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari penned very rightly that Imam al-Reza (PBUH) was undoubtedly the greatest sage, saint and scholar of the second century, AH.
Personality and charactor:
Imam al-Reza (PBUH) was very generous to everyone especially the poor. He would help the needy during the night so that no one would recognize him.
He never did any injustice to any one in words or deeds. He was not loud spoken but always spoke softly with a polite manner and was cordial with everyone. He always sat politely and never slouched in presence of others. He would call all the members of his family and servants to have dinner or lunch together.
Telling the Hadith of Silsilah al-Zahab(Golden Chain)
Once, on his way to Khurasan, when he (the Imam) was brought by force by the guards of al-Ma'mun from Medina, he arrived on horseback at Nayshabur. Myriads of people gathered round him and all roads were overcrowded as they had come to meet and see their great Imam. Ishaq Ibn-e Rahawiyya said, "When Imam al-Reza (PBUH) arrived in Nishabur during his travel to Khurasan, some hadith scholars told him, 'O son of the Prophet (PBUH)! Are you going to leave our city without telling us any hadiths?' Then, Imam put his head out of the carriage and said,
"I heard from my father, Musa ibn-e Ja'far who said that he heard from his father Ja'far ibn-e Muhammd and he heard from his father Muhammad Ibn-e Ali and he heard from his father Ali Ibn-e Hussain who heard from his father al-Hussain Ibn-e Ali and he heard from his father Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib who said that he heard from the Prophet (PBUT) who said that he heard from the angel Jabril that he heard from God, Glorious and Almighty, “the word 'La ilah-a illa Allah' is My fortress. So, anyone who enters My fortress, will be safe from My wrath”.
He paused for a moment and continued that there were also a few conditions to entitle the entrance to the fortress and the greatest of all conditions was sincere and complete submission to the Imam of the day; and very boldly and frankly explained to the people that any disloyalty to the Prophet (PBUH) and his descendants would withdraw the right of the entrance to the fortress. The only way to earn Almighty Allah's pleasure was to obey the Prophet (PBUH) and his progeny and that was the only path to salvation and immortality.
The above-mentioned incident speaks clearly of the great popularity of Imam al-Reza (PBUH), and the love, loyalty and respect the Muslims gave their beloved Imam. al-Ma'mun, the king, was conscious of the fact that he would not survive for long if he also did not express his loyalty to the great leader and his intelligence department had made it clear to him that the Iranian people were truly and sincerely loyal to the Imam and he could only win them over if he also pretended to give respect and sympathetic consideration to Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH). Al-Ma'mun was a very shrewd person. He made a plan to invite Imam al-Reza (PBUH) and to offer him the heirship to the throne. The Imam was summoned by a royal decree and was compelled, under the circumstances, to leave Medina - where he was living a quiet life - and present himself at the royal court of al-Ma'mun.
On his arrival, al-Ma'mun showed him hospitality and great respect; then he said to him: "I want to get rid of myself of the caliphate and vest the office in you." But Imam al-Reza (PBUH) refused his offer. Then al-Ma'mun repeated his offer in a letter saying: "If you refuse what I have offered you, then you must accept being the heir after me." But again Imam al-Reza (PBUH) refused his offer vigorously.
Al-Ma'mun summoned him. He was alone with al-Fazl Ibn-e Sahl, the man with two offices (i.e., military and civil). There was no one else in their gathering. Al-Ma'mun said to Imam al-Reza (PBUH), "I thought it appropriate to invest authority over the Muslims in you and to relieve myself of the responsibility by giving it to you." When again Imam al-Reza (PBUH) refused to accept his offer, al-Ma'mun spoke to him as if threatening him for his refusal. In his speech he said, "Umar Ibn-e al-Khattab made a committee of consultation (to appoint a successor). Among them was your forefather, the Commander of the faithful, `Ali Ibn-e Abi Talib (PBUH). (`Umar) stipulated that any of them who opposed the decision should be executed. So there is no escape for you from accepting what I want from you. I will ignore your rejection of it."
In reply, Imam al-Reza (PBUH) said: "I will agree to what you want of me as far as succession is concerned on condition that I do not command, nor order, nor give legal decisions, nor judge, nor appoint, nor dismiss, nor change anything from how it is at present." Al-Ma'mun accepted all of that.
On the day when al-Ma'mun ordered to make the pledge of allegiance to Imam al-Reza (PBUH), one of the close associates of Imam al-Reza (PBUH), who was present, narrates, "On that day I was in front of him. He looked at me while I was feeling happy about what had happened. He signalled me to come closer. I went closer to him and he said so that no one else could hear, `Do not occupy your heart with this matter and do not be happy about it. It is something which will not be achieved.' "
Quoting al-Allamah al- Shibli from his book al-Ma'mun, we get a very clear picture of how al-Ma'mun decided to offer his leadership to Imam al-Reza (PBUH).
"Imam al-Reza (PBUH) was the Eighth Imam and al-Ma'mfrn could not help holding him in great esteem because of the Imam's piety, wisdom, knowledge, modesty, decorum and personality. Therefore, he decided to nominate him as the rightful heir to the throne. Earlier in 200, AH he had summoned the Abbasids. Thirty-three thousand Abbasids responded to the invitation and were entertained as royal guests. During their stay at the capital he very closely observed and noted their capabilities and eventually arrived at the conclusion that not one of them deserved to succeed him. He therefore spoke to them all in an assembly in 201, AH telling them in categorical terms that none of the Abbasids deserved to succeed him. He demanded allegiance to Imam al-Reza (PBUH) from the people in this very meeting and declared that royal robes would be green in future, the color which had the unique distinction of being that of the Imam's dress. A Royal decree was published saying that Imam al-Reza (PBUH) will succeed al-Ma'mun.
Even after the declaration of succession when there was every opportunity for the Imam to live a splendid worldly royal life, he did not pay any heed to material comforts and devoted himself completely to imparting the true Islamic conception of the Holy Prophet's teachings and the Holy Qur'an. He spent most of his time praying to God and serving the people.
Taking full advantage of the concessions given to him by virtue of his elevated position in the royal court, he organized the majalis (meetings) commemorating the martyrdom of the martyrs of Karbala. These majalis were first held during the days of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUT), but Imam al-Reza (PBUH) gave the majalis a new impetus by encouraging those poets who wrote effective poems depicting the moral aspects of the tragedy and the suffering of Imam Hussain and his companions.
Al-Ma'mun had been very scared of the growing popularity of the Imam and he had appointed him as his heir to the throne only for the fulfilment of his own most ambitious and sinister designs and getting the Imam's endorsement to his tricky plans. But the Imam naturally refused to give his endorsement to any such plans which were against the teaching of Islam. Al-Ma'mun therefore became very disappointed with him and decided once and for all to check his growing popularity and ensuring his own survival by acting according to the old traditions of killing the Imam. Wanting to do it in a more subtle manner, he invited the Imam to dinner, and fed him poisoned grapes. The Imam martyred on 17th Safar 203, AH, he was buried in Tus (Mashhad) and his Grand Shrine speaks well for the great personality the Imam possessed. Myriads of Muslims visit his Shrine every year to pay their homage to this Imam.
Al-Imam al-Reza (PBUH) said:
A Muslim is not considered as a wise person, unless you observe ten characteristics in him/her:
1. People being hopeful to his kindness and benevolence;
2. People feel secure from his enmity and wickedness;
3. Even slight kindnesses of people are considered as important ones by him;
4. He may underscore his own kindness and good works;
5. Never feels or expresses tired or unhappy upon needs and requests of the people;
6. Never, in his whole life, he leaves education and knowledge;
7. He prefers poverty than wealth for himself for God’s sake;
8. He prefers modesty than pride and arrogance before the God’s enemy for God’s sake;
9. He prefers anonymity than renown and population;
10. If he met anyone, he may consider him better and more pious than himself.
The Eleventh Infallible, the Ninth Imam
Muhammad Ibn-e Ali Al-Jawad (Al-Taqi) (PBUH)
Title: al-Jawad or al-Taqi
Agnomen: Abu Ja'far
Father's name: Ali al-Reza
Mother's name: Sabikah (or Khayzuran)
Birth: In Medina, on Friday, 10th Rajab 195 AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 25, in al-Kazimiyyah on Wednesday, 30th Zual-qa’dah 220 AH, poisoned by Mu'tasim, the Abbasid caliph; buried in al-Kazimiyyah, Baghdad
Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (or al-Taqi) (PBUH) is the Ninth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Ja'far and his famous titles were al-Jawad and al-Taqi. Since Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), the Fifth Imam was called Abu Ja'far, historians have mentioned this Imam as Abu Ja'far the Second.
Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was brought up by his Holy father Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) for four years. Under the force of circumstances Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) had to migrate from Medina to Khurasan (Iran), leaving his young son behind him. Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) was fully aware of the treacherous character of the ruling king and was sure that he would return to Medina no more. So before his departure from Medina he declared his son Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) as his successor, and imparted to him all his stores of Divine knowledge and spiritual genius.
Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) was poisoned on the last day of Safar 203 AH and with effect from the same date Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was commissioned by Allah to hold the responsibility of Imamate. At the tender age of eight, there was no apparent chance or means of the young Imam reaching great heights of knowledge and practical achievements. But after a few days he is known not only to have debated with his contemporary scholars on subjects pertaining to fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), hadith (tradition), tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), etc. and outwitted them, but also to exhort their admiration and acknowledgment of his learning and superiority. Right from then the world realized that he possessed Divine knowledge and that the knowledge commanded by the Holy Imam was not acquired, but granted by Allah.
Literary Attainments and Excellence:
The span of the life of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was shorter than that of his predecessors as well as his successors. He became Imam at the age of eight years and was poisoned at the age of twenty-five; yet his literary attainments were many and he commanded great respect and esteem.
The Holy Imam al-Jawad (PBUH) was the symbol of Prophet Muhammad's affability and Imam Ali (PBHT)'s attainments. His hereditary qualities comprised of gallantry, boldness, charity, learning, forgiveness and tolerance. The brightest and most outstanding phases of his nature and character were to show hospitality and courtesy to all without discrimination, to help the needy; to observe equality under all circumstances, to live a simple life; to help the orphans, the poor and the homeless; to impart learning to those interested in the acquisition of knowledge and guide the people to the right path.
Migration to Iraq:
For the consolidation of his empire, it was realized by al-Ma'mun, the Abbasid king, that it was necessary to win the sympathy and support of the Iranians who had always been friendly to the Ahlu'l-bayt. Consequently, al-Ma'mun was forced, from a political point of view, to establish contacts with the tribe of Bani Fatimah at the expense of the ties with Bani Abbas and thereby win the favor of the Shi'a. Accordingly, he declared Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) as his heir even against the Imam's will and got his sister Umm-e Habibah married to him. Al-Ma'mun expected that Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) would lend him his support in political affairs of the State. But when he discovered that the Imam was little interested in political matters and that the masses were more and more submitting themselves to him due to his spiritual greatness, he got him poisoned. Yet the exigency which directed him to nominate Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) as his heir and successor still continued. Hence he desired to marry his daughter Umm al-Fazl to Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH), the son of Imam Ali al-Reza (PBUH) and with this object in view, he summoned the Imam from Medina to Iraq.
The Bani Abbas were extremely disconcerted when they came to know that al-Ma'mun was planning to marry his daughter to Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH). A delegation of some leading persons waited on him in order to dissuade him from his intention. But al-Ma'mun continued to admire the learning and excellence of the Imam. He would say that though Imam al-Jawad (PBUH) was still young, yet he was a true successor to his father in all his virtues and that the profoundest scholars of the Islamic world could not compete with him. When the Abbasids noticed that al-Ma'mun attributed the Imam's superiority to his learning they chose Yahya ibn-e Aktham, the greatest scholar and jurist of Baghdad, to contend with him.
Al-Ma’mun issued a proclamation and organized a grand meeting for the contest which resulted in a huge gathering of people from all parts of the kingdom. Apart from noble and high officials, there were as many as nine hundred chairs reserved for scholars and learned men only. The world wondered how a young child could contest with the veteran judge in religious laws (qazi al-quzat) and the greatest scholar of Iraq.
Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was seated beside al-Ma'mun on his throne face to face with Yahya Ibn-e Aktham, who addressed the Imam thus:
"Do you permit me to ask you a question?” "Ask me whatever you wish," said the Imam in the typical tone of his ancestors. Yahya then asked the Imam, "What is your verdict about a man who indulges in hunting while he is in the state of ihram." (In the code of religious law hunting is supposed to be forbidden for a pilgrim.)
The Imam at once replied, "Your question is vague and misleading. You should have definitely mentioned whether he hunted within the jurisdiction of the Ka'bah or outside; whether he was literate or illiterate; whether he was a slave or a free citizen; whether he was a minor or a major; whether it was for the first time or he had done it previously; also whether, that victim was a bird or some other creature; whether the prey was small or big; whether he hunted in the day or at night; whether the hunter repented for his action or persisted in it; whether he hunted secretly or openly; whether the ihram was for umrah or for hajj. Unless all these points are explained no specific answer can be given to this question."
Al-Qazi Yahya was staggered in listening to these words of the Imam and the entire gathering was dumbfounded. There was no limit to al-Ma'mun's pleasure. He expressed his sentiments of joy and admiration thus, "Bravo! Well done! O Aba Ja'far! (Ahsanta, ahsanta ya Aba Ja'far), your learning and attainments are beyond all praises."
As al-Ma'mun wanted that the Imam's opponent be fully exposed, he said to the Imam, "You may also put some question to Yahya Ibn-e Aktham". Then Yahya also reluctantly said to the Imam, "Yes, you may ask me some questions. If I know the answer, I will tell it; otherwise, I shall request you to give its answer."
Thereupon, the Imam asked a question to which Yahya could not reply. Eventually, the Imam answered his question.
Then al-Ma'mun addressed the audience thus: "Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning? Is there anyone in the world who can match even the children of this family? "
All of them shouted, "Undoubtedly there is no one parallel to Muhammad al-Jawad." In the same assembly al-Ma'mun wedded his daughter Umm al-Fazl to the Imam and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his subjects as a mark of rejoicing. One year after his marriage the Imam returned to Medina from Baghdad with his wife and there he set about preaching the commandments of Allah.
When after the death of al-Ma'mun, al-Mu'tasim ascended the throne, he got an opportunity to persecute the Imam and to ventilate spite and malice against him. He summoned the Imam to Baghdad. The Imam arrived at Baghdad on 9th Muharram 220 AH and al-Mu'tasim got him poisoned in the same year. He martyred on the last day of Zu’al qa'dah 220 AH and was buried beside his grandfather, Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) the Seventh Imam, in al-Kazimiyyah, in the suburb of Baghdad (Iraq).
“The trust in Allah is the price of everything that is precious and the ladder to every goal which is high and sublime.”
“One who follows his desires, concedes to the wishes of his enemy.”
“Do not be an apparent friend of Allah in open and a secret enemy of His in private.”
The Twelfth Infallible; the Tenth Imam
Ali Ibn-e Muhammad al-Naqi (al-Hadi) (PBUH)
Title: al-Hadi or al-Naqi
Agnomen: Abu al-Hassan (the third)
Father's name: Muhammad al-Jawad (al-Taqi)
Mother's name: Sumanah
Birth: In Sarya (in the environs of Medina), 15th Zual-Hijjah or 2nd Rajab, 212 AH.
Death: Martyred at the age of 42, in Samarra, on Monday, 25th or 26th Jumad al-thany 254 AH; poisoned by al-Mu'tazz, the `Abbasid caliph; buried in Samarra'; North of Baghdad (Iraq)
The Tenth holy Imam, Ali Ibn-e Muhammad al-Naqi (PBUH), like his father, was also elevated to the rank of Imam in his childhood. He was six years old when his father Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was martyred. After the death of al-Ma'mun, al-Mu'tasim succeeded him, and was later followed by the caliph al-Wathiq. In the first five years of the reign of al-Wathiq, Imam `Ali al-Naqi (al-Hadi) lived peacefully. After al-Wathiq, al-Mutawakkil came to power. Being too occupied in State affairs, al-Mutawakkil did not get any time to harass the Imam and his followers for four years. But as soon as he freed himself from State affairs, he started to molest the Imam. The holy Imam devoted himself to the sacred mission of preaching in Medina and thus earned the faith of the people as well as their allegiance and was recognized for his great knowledge and attributes. This reputation of the Imam evoked the jealousy and malice of al-Mutawakkil against him.
Political and Religious Condition:
During his lifetime, the tenth Imam was contemporary with seven of the Abbasid caliphs: Ma'mun, Mu'tasim, Wathiq, Mutawakkil, Muntasir, Musta'in and Mu'tazz. It was during the rule of Mu'tasim in 220 AH that the Imam’s noble father was martyred through poisoning in Baghdad. At that time Ali Ibn-e Muhammad al-Naqi (PBUH) was in Medina. There he became the Imam through Divine Command and the decree of the Imams before him. He stayed in Medina teaching religious sciences until the time of Mutawakkil. The governor of Medina wrote to al-Mutawakkil that Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) had been manoeuvring a coup against the government and a multitude of Shi’as were pledged to his support. Although enraged by this news al-Mutawakkil still preferred the diplomacy of not arresting the holy Imam. In 243 AH, as a result of certain false charges that were made, Mutawakkil ordered one of his government officials to invite the Imam form Medina to Samarra’ which was then the capital. He himself wrote the Imam a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to the capital where they could meet. Upon arrival in Samarra’ the Imam was also shown certain outward courtesy and respect. Yet at the same time Mutawakkil tried by all possible means to trouble and dishonor him. Many times he called the Imam to his presence with the aim of killing or disgracing him and had his house searched.
Prior to his imprisonment, in a series of correspondence with the Imam, he expressed the view that he was convinced of all the claims of the Imam and was ready to settle them amicably. He wrote to the Imam that having been acquainted with his great personality, his matchless knowledge and his peerless attributes, he was impatiently looking forward to the honour of seeing him, and he most cordially invited him to Samarra'. Although the Imam was well aware of al-Mutawakkil's treacherous intentions, he, anticipating the fatal consequences of refusing the offer, reluctantly decided to leave Medina. But when the Imam arrived at Samarra' and al-Mutawakkil was informed about it, he took no notice of the Imam's arrival. When asked about where the Imam should stay, he ordered that the Imam should be put up in the inn meant for beggars, destitute and homeless people.
In his enmity toward the household of the holy Prophet (PBUH), Mutawakkil had no equal among the Abbasid caliphs. He was especially opposed to Imam Ali (PBUH), whom he cursed openly. He even ordered a clown to ridicule Imam Ali (PBUH) at voluptuous banquets. In the year 237 AH he ordered the mausoleum of Imam Hussain (PBUH) in Karbala and many of the houses around it to be torn down to the ground. The water was turned upon the tomb of the Imam. He ordered the ground of the tomb to be plowed and cultivated so that any trace of the tomb would be forgotten. Pressures of a similar kind were put on the descendants of Imam Ali (PBUH) who lived in Egypt. The tenth Imam accepted in patience the tortures and afflictions of the Abbasid caliph Mutawakkil until the caliph died.
Al-Mutawakkil who was a deadly enemy of the Ahl al-bayt, removed the Imam from this inn and entrusted him to the custody of a stone-hearted brute named Zurafah. But, by the grace of Allah, his enmity was, in a short time, transformed into love and devotion for the Imam. When al-Mutawakkil learnt about it, he shifted the Imam into the custody of another cruel man called Said. The Imam remained under his strict vigilance for a number of years, during which he was subjected to boundless tortures. But even in this miserable imprisonment, the Imam kept devoting himself at all times to the worship of Allah. The watchman of the prison used to comment that Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) seemed to be an angel in human garb.
When Fat’h Ibn-e Khaqan became the vizier of al-Mutawakkil, he, being a Shi'a, could not stand the idea of the Imam's captivity. He endeavoured to have him released from imprisonment and arranged for his comfortable residence in a personally purchased house at Samarra'. Still al-Mutawakkil could hardly refrain from his antagonism to the Imam and he appointed spies to watch the Imam and his connections. But, through all these attempts, his hope of creating some fabrication to prove the Imam's activity against himself could not be realized.
In the time of al-Mutawakkil there was a woman named Zaynab who claimed to be a descendant of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Al-Mutawakkil sought the confirmation of Zaynab's claim from the Imam. Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) said: "That as the beasts are prohibited to eat the flesh of the descendants of Imam Hussain (PBUH) he would throw Zaynab to the beasts and test her claim." On hearing this, Zaynab began to tremble and confessed that she was a fake. Al-Mutawakkil then ordered the Imam to be thrown to the beasts to test the claim. To his great surprise, he witnessed the beasts prostrating their heads before the Imam.
Once, al-Mutawakkil happened to suffer from a serious malady which was eventually declared incurable by his physicians. When the Imam was approached for some remedy, he prescribed an application which resulted in a spontaneous cure.
Once, al-Mutawakkil was informed that the Imam was preparing a revolt against him. Thereupon, he ordered a detachment of the army to launch a raid on the Imam's residence. When the soldiers entered his house, they found him sitting on a mat, reciting the holy Qur'an.
Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) remarkably excelled all others of his time in the fields of human perfections, as vast knowledge, generosity, politeness of manners, worshipping of Allah(swt), with moral qualities and discipline.
As one example of his generosity is that he paid thirty thousand Dirhams to an Arab man of Kufa, saying to him: "We pay your debts." The man then, thanking the Imam said: "Sir, the debts on me is only about one third of the amount you gave!" The Imam added: "Spend the rest on your family and your people."
The man in astonishment of the Imam's generosity said: "Allah knows who to entrust with His Message of Divine Guidance!" Then he left.
Not only al-Mutawakkil, but his successors' opposition to the Imam was fierce. After the death of al-Mutawakkil, al-Mustansir, al-Musta'im and al-Mu'tazz carried on the same mission of harassment against the family of the Imam. Al-Mu’tazz, understanding the uncontrollable and intense devotion of the people towards the Imam, eventually contrived the Imam's assassination. He got him poisoned through an ambassador which resulted in the Imam's martyrdom within a few hours. The martyrdom occurred on 26th Jumad al-thany 254 AH, and his funeral prayer was conducted by his son, Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH). Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) was only forty-two years old at the time of martyrdom. The period of his Imamate was thirty-five years. He was buried in Samarra', Iraq.
Al-Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) said to al-Mutawakkil, the `Abbasid caliph:
“Do not expect honesty and purity of intention from someone who has suffered from your malice; do not expect loyalty from one to whom you have been disloyal; do not expect goodwill from someone whom you regard with ill-will: his heart towards you is the same as your heart towards him.”
“People are respected in this world for possessing wealth and in the Hereafter for possessing righteous deeds.”
“Arrogance is an obstacle of obtaining knowledge and diverts man towards ignorance and humiliation.”
Al-Hassan Ibn-e Ali al-Askari (PBUH)
The Thirteenth Infallible; the Eleventh Imam
Agnomen: Abu Muhammad
Father's name: `Ali al-Hadi (al-Naqi)
Mother's name: Hudayth (or Susan)
Birth: In Medina, on Friday, 8th Rabi` al-thani 232 AH
Death: Martyred at the age of 28, in Samarra', on Friday, 8th, Rabi` al -awwal 260 AH
The Holy Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) spent twenty-two years of his life under the patronage of his father, Imam Ali al-Hadi (al-Naqi) (PBUH) after whose martyrdom he became his divinely commissioned Imam.
Religious leadership (Imamate):
Imam Hassan Ibn-e Ali al-Askari (PBUH), the son of the Tenth Imam, was born in 232/845 and according to some Shia sources was poisoned and killed in 260/872 through the instigation of the Abbasid caliph al-Mu'tamid. The Eleventh Imam gained the Imamate, after the martyrdom of his noble father, through Divine Command and through the decree of the previous Imams. During the seven years of his Imamate, due to untold restrictions placed upon him by the caliphate, he lived in hiding and dissimulation (taqiyyah). He did not have any social contact with even the common people among the Shia population. Only the elite of the Shias were able to see him. Even so, he spent most of his time in prison.
There was extreme repression at that time because the Shi`ite population had reached a considerable level in both numbers and power. Everyone knew that the Shias believed in the Imamate, and the identity of the Shia Imams was also known. Therefore, the caliphate kept the Imams under its close supervision more than ever before. It tried through every possible means and through secret plans to remove and destroy them. Also, the caliphate had come to know that the elite among the Shia believed that the Eleventh Imam, according to traditions cited by him as well as his forefathers, would have a son who was the promised Mahdi (PBUH). The coming of the Mahdi (PBUH) had been foretold in authenticated hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in both Sunni and Shia sources. For this reason the Eleventh Imam, more than other Imams, was kept under close watch by the caliphate. The caliph of the time had decided definitely to put an end to the Imamate in Shi'ism through every possible means and to close the door to the Imamate once and for all.
Therefore, as soon as the news of the illness of the Eleventh Imam reached al-Mu'tamid, he sent a physician and a few of his trusted agents and judges to the house of the Imam to be with him and observe his condition and the situation within his house at all times. After the martyrdom of the Imam, the secret agents of the caliph searched for the successor of the Imam until they lost all hope.
The Eleventh Imam was buried in his house in Samarra' next to his noble father.
Here it should be remembered that during their lifetime the Imams trained many hundreds of scholars of religion and hadith, who have transmitted to us information about the Imams.
“Generosity has a limit, which when crossed becomes extravagance; caution has a limit which when crossed becomes cowardice; thriftiness has a limit, which when crossed becomes miserliness; courage has a limit, which when crossed becomes fool-hardiness. Let this moral lesson suffice: refrain from doing anything which you would disapprove of if done by someone else.”
“The occultation of my son will be so much prolonged that people will fall in doubt except for those whose faith is preserved by God.”