Life of Imam Zainul-Abideen (a.s.)

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Birth

In the period of the second caliphate, the Muslims conquered Iran. The daughters of Yazdgard were brought to Madina. All had gathered in the mosque of Madina to see what was the decision of the caliph, about them. He wanted to sell them but Imam Ali (a.s.) stopped him from doing so and said to Urnmer, “leave the girls free so that they marry whosoever they wish.”

One of the girls chose Husain Ibn-e-Ali (a.s.) and the other chose Imam Hasan Mujtaba (a.s.). Imam Ali (a.s.) said to Husain, “Look after this woman very well, because, from her an Imam will come into existence (born) who will be the best of the God’s creations upon the earth and the father of all the Imams (after himself). Not very long after that the sun of his existence arose, on Thursday, the 5th of Shaaban, 38th Hijrah, in Madina. He was named “Ali” later on titled as Zain-ul-Abidin (the decoration of the worshippers) and Sajjad (one who performs much prostration).

The Ethical and Moral Characteristics of Imam (a.s.)

1.    Piety and Abstinence:

One of the special features of Imam’s character was his piety and abstinence. Imam Jaffar Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Ali Ibn-ul-Husain (a.s.) resembled most of all the sons of Bani Hashim, with Ali (a.s.)”.

His son Imam Mohammad Baqir (a.s.) said, “One day I happened to see my father, I saw him (completely) immersed and (thoroughly pre occupied) in the prayers and with all the attention towards God. His color was faded and his eyes were sore and red due to weeping, his feet were swollen by (prostration) and legs, and knees had developed corns.” I said humbly, “O father, why do you loose your self control during the prayers and put yourself in such an inconvenience and discomfort.”

My father wept and said, “O son however and whatsoever amount of prayers I perform even then it is meager and very little as compared to the prayers of your grandfather, Ali Ibn-e-Abi Talib.” Taaoos Yamaani says, I saw Imam (a.s.) lying in prostration saying, “O God your servant, needy towards you, is in your house waiting for your blessing, forgiveness and favor”.

2. Attention to the life and training of people:

Imam Zain-ul-Abidin (a.s.), like his grandfather, was busy in cultivating land and palm date orchards. He offered two rakats of prayer near each palm date tree. During the prayers he would get himself so absorbed that he did not have any attention towards anything except God. He traveled to Mecca, on foot, twenty times. And continuously guided and conducted people through the attractive melody of the Qur’anic verses.

All the human qualities and attributes were collectively present in his personality. He was the complete specimen of tolerance, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. He looked after hundreds of houses of the poor and hunger stricken. Daily a number of goats were slaughtered in his house and he distributed all their meat among the afflicted. He dressed the naked and paid their debts and loans. But he himself took simple meals and put on simple dress.

A person came to Ali Ibn-ul-Husain (a.s.) and started addressing him with filthy and abusive language. Imam (a.s.) turned his face towards him without the slightest anger and quarrel or strife and said,

“O brother, if what you say is right and correct and these vices are present in me then God may pardon and forgive my sin. And if you are telling a lie then God may forgive you and pardon your sin.”

The man was very much ashamed and asked Imam (a.s.) to pardon him. Abu Hamza Somali who was one of the friends of Imam (a.s.) asked his servant to briefly define the character and morals of Imam (a.s.). He said so, “I am at his service for so many years. Whatever I saw was righteousness, piety and purity.”

My lord helps and assists the people and solves their problems, with all the difficulties worries and pre occupations that he himself faces. Zaid bin Usama was lying on the deathbed. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) visited him, Zaid was weeping. When Imam (a.s.) asked him the reason of his weeping he said, “I have to pay fifteen thousand Dinars as my loan and debt and my wealth is not so much as to pay off the debt.” Imam (a.s.) said, “Do not weep and be contented, I will pay all of your loan.”

When the nights would become dark and all the people went to sleep, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) would get up put the food in a sack and on his shoulder. He covered his face so that he is not recognized. Then he took that food to the houses of the inflicted and have-nots and gave it to them.He administrated and looked after nearly a hundred guardian less family in Madina, most of them comprised indigent, helpless and crippled, handicapped and paralytic ones.

What a surprise! None of these families knew that Imam Zainul Abidin (a.s.) was the one who managed and run their lives. But after his death, when the aids were discontinued they came to know that Imam (a.s.) was their helper and friend.

Accompanying and keeping pace with his father

He was beside his father right from the moment of his migration towards Karbala and followed his father. Imam Husain (a.s.) step by step so that, when his father asked for help on the day of Ashoora he got up to extend help to his father. But Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) stopped him and said, “You are the only memorial remnant of this family and the Imam after Imam Husain (a.s.) and you are the guardian of all of us. Your divine mission is to convey the message of the martyrs to the people.”

Although a segment of the people who are unaware consider the Imam to be a sick, invalid, handicapped and weak person. But they are seriously mistaken because the illness of Imam was an expedience and policy of God, so that he may remain safe from the harm of the enemy’s sword, and become the living history of Karbala.

Therefore, after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) and his companions Shimr came into the encampment of Imam along with a group of murderers of Bani Ommayad so that he may kill the remaining ones of the camp of Imam Husain (a.s.). Since he was ill, Shimr’s companions objected upon him and Umar Saad came after them and reprimanded Shimr regarding this decision and turned him out of the encampment. And said, “He is an ill man and cannot do a thing, leave him alone.”