Worship and Piety of Imam Baqir (a.s.)

Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi


Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.) was among the monks of this community in his worship and piety. He was given the nick-name of Zu al-Thafanat (the one with calluses). That was because of his many prostrations (in prayer). He was also given the nick-name of al- Mujtahid (the hardworking one), Zayn al-Aabedin (the ornament of the worshipers), and Sayyid al-Aabedin (the Lord of the worshipers).1 The nick-name of Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.) refers to his constant worship and his great cleaving to Allah. The historians reported that when he (a.s.) used to perform ritual ablutions, his skin would turn yellow. Thus, his family said to him: “What is that which hits you during the ablution? “He (a.s.) said to them:

“Do  you  not  know  before  whom  I  want  to stand?”

(Durr al-Abkar fi Safwat al-Akhyar)

His son, Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), came to him. He found him worshipping Allah to the extent that he turned pale because of staying up at night, his eyes had white secretion because of weeping, his forehead festered because of much prostration (in prayer), and his legs swelled because of praying at night. So, his son burst into tears. However, Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.) was praying. When he saw his son, he ordered him to give him the parchments in which there was the (practice of) worship of his grandfather, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be on him. His son gave  him  those  parchments.  He  considered  them carefully. Then he left them out of boredom and said:

“Who is strong enough to perform the worship of Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.)?”2

When he, peace be on him, rose to pray before Allah, he turned toward the Great Creator with his heart and his feelings. No affair of this life made him busy. Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) said: “When my father rose to pray, he did not busy himself in other than it and did not hear anything, for he devoted himself to it. “One of his children fell and broke his hand. His family cried. Then they sent for the bone setter. He set the hand of the child who was crying because of the intense pain. The Imam (a.s.) did not hear anything. When he entered upon morning and saw the boy’s splint hand, he asked about that. So, his family told him about that.

(Al-Dur al-Nazim, p. 179)

Worship strained him very much. Indeed he overexerted himself for it. Thus, his family feared for his safety. They begged him to decrease his worship. However, he refused that. Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, said: “When Fatima, the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, saw her nephew, Ali bin al-Husain, overexerting himself in worshipping, she went to Jabir bin Abd Allah al-Ansari and said to him: “O Companion of the Apostle of Allah, indeed, we have rights with you. Among our rights with you is that when you see one of us overexerting himself, you must make him remember Allah and ask him to relieve himself. The nose of Ali bin al-Husayn (a.s.), the rest of his father, al-Husayn (a.s.), has been torn. His forehead, his kneels, and his palms (of the hands) have become swollen. That is because he has overexerted himself in worshipping.”

(Aalam al-Waraa, 360)

So, Jabir went to Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.). He found him overexerting himself in worshipping at his mihrab. The Imam rose to receive Jabir. He seated him beside him and asked him very much about his condition. Then Jabir asked the Imam:

“O Son of the Apostle of Allah, do you not know that Allah has created Paradise for you and for those who love you and created Fire for those who hate you and show enmity towards you? So, why do you overexert yourself?”

The Imam (a.s.) answered Jabir with kindness and affection:

“O Companion of the Apostle of Allah, do you not know that Allah has forgiven my grandfather, Allah’s Apostle, his past and following faults? Still he overexerted himself for Allah. May my father and mother be ransom for Allah’s Apostle, he worshipped Allah till his leg and his foot became swollen. It was said to him: ‘do you do that while Allah has forgiven you your past and following faults?’ Thus, he said: ‘should I not be a grateful servant?’ ”

When Jabir knew that the Imam insisted on overexerting himself, he said to him: “O Son of the Apostle of Allah, spare your life. That is because you are from the family through whom the tribulation is driven away, through whom the illness is cured, and through whom the sky rains.”

The Imam (a.s.) replied him with a faint voice: “I will continue the way of my father and of my grandfather. I will follow their example till I meet them.”

Jabir was astonished. Thus, he said to those who were around him: “No child of the prophets was like Ali bin al-Husayn except Joseph, the son of Jacob. By Allah, the children of al-Husayn are better than the children of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Indeed one of them will fill the earth with justice as it had been filled with injustice.”

(Ahmed Fahmi, Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.), pp. 72-73)

Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.) was the Imam of the pious and the repentant. Indeed he overexerted himself in his worshipping. He was loyal in his obedience. He cleaved to Allah to the extent that even saints did not do that.