Ali ibn Husayn
عَلِيّ ٱبْن ٱلْحُسَيْن
Arabic name of Ali ibn Husayn and one of his titles, "Al-Sajjad"
Ali ibn Hussain ibn Ali
c. 4 January 659
(5 Sha'aban 38 AH) Or (15 Jumada al-awwal 36 AH)
|Died||c. 20 October 713 (aged 54)|
(25 Muharram 95 AH)
|Cause of death||Poisoning by Al-Walid I|
|Resting place||Jannat al-Baqi cemetery, Medina, Saudi Arabia|
(Master of the prostraters)
|Predecessor||Husayn ibn Ali|
|Successor||Muhammad al-Baqir according to the Twelver, and Ismaili Shia, Zayd bin Ali according to the Zaidiyyah Shia.|
|Spouse(s)||Fatimah bint Hasan|
Ali Al Asghar
Umar Al Ashraf
and two Daughters
Umm Kulthoom and Khadija
|Parent(s)||Husayn ibn Ali|
Lady Shāhzanān (aka Shahr Banu)
Fatima al-Kubra bint Husayn
Fatima al-Sughra bint al-Husayn
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (Arabic: عَلِيّ ٱبْن ٱلْحُسَيْن زَيْن ٱلْعَابِدِين), also known as al-Sajjad (Arabic: ٱلسَّجَّاد, "The Consistently Prostrating") or simply Zayn al-Abidin (Arabic: زَيْن ٱلْعَابِدِين, "Adornment of the Worshippers"), (c. 4 January 659 – c. 20 October 713) was a Shiʻi Imam after his father Husayn ibn Ali, his uncle Hasan ibn Ali, and his grandfather, Ali.
Ali ibn Husayn survived the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE, after which he and other surviving family members and companions of Husayn were taken to Yazid I in Damascus. Eventually, he was allowed to return to Medina, where he led a secluded life with a few intimate companions. His life and statements were entirely devoted to asceticism and religious teachings, mostly in the form of invocations and supplications. His famous supplications are known as Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya "The Scripture of Sajjad".
Ali ibn al-Husayn was born in Medina in the Hejaz, now in Saudi Arabia, in the year 38/658–9.[a] He may have been too young to have remembered his grandfather Ali; he was raised in the presence of his uncle Hasan and his father Husayn, Muhammad's grandchildren. It is said that Ali ibn al-Husayn was related through his mother Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdegerd III, to the last Sasanain Emperor.[b]
Ali ibn al-Husayn was known as ibn al-Khiyaratayn, the "son of the best two", meaning the Quraysh among the Arabs and the Persians among the non-Arabs". Ali suggested allowing her to choose a husband from among the Muslims and paying her mahr from the public treasury. Umar agreed; she chose Ali's son Husayn. She is said to have died shortly after giving birth to her only son Ali. And in other stories this happened during the caliphate of Uthman and Ali.
In 61/680, Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali and a small group of supporters and relatives were martyred at the Battle of Karbala by the large military forces of the Umayyad caliph Yazid, to whom Husayn had refused to give an oath of allegiance. Zayn al-Abidin accompanied his father on a march toward Kufa; he was present at the Battle of Karbala but survived the battle because he was ill. Once the Umayyad troops had martyred Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents and took the skin upon which he was laying. It is said that Shemr was about to kill Zayn al-Abidin but his aunt Zaynab made Umar ibn Sa'ad, the Umayyad commander, spare his life. Zain al-Abidin and the enslaved women were taken to the caliph; eventually he was allowed to return to Medina. During the journey, he delivered speeches in Kufa and Damascus, and informed the people of his father's intentions.
Several accounts record Zayn al-Abidin's deep sorrow over the massacre. It is said that for thirty-four years, he would weep when food was placed before him. One day a servant said to him, "O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?" He replied, "Oh person you did not do justice by saying this! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear". His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in the gloom (Quran, 12:84), though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?"
Kufa's people invited Husayn to go to Kufa and be their Imam, but they did not back him and his family against Kufa's governor, who massacred them in Karbala. Thus they thought themselves responsible for the tragedy of Karbala and tried to compensate for it by throwing themselves into the struggle to obtain vengeance for Husayn's blood. They chose Sulayman b. Surad al Khuza'I as their leader and called themselves Tawwabun (penitents). They were seeking an opportunity for action, until Mukhtar al-Thaqafi came to Kufa and claimed to represent Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah. He soon gained the authority of a leader and took vengeance on those who were involved in Husayn's killing. Umar ibn Sa'ad and Shemr were executed and their heads were sent to Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah. Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad was also killed in the battle on the Zab; his head was taken to the place in Kufa where Ubaid Allah had received the head of Husayn.
The governor of Medina did not consider that Zayn al-Abedin was responsible for Mukhtar's action, since he had already left Medina for its outskirts to avoid being involved in political movements. Moreover, there is evidence that he was unmolested and excepted from giving allegiance to Yazid, after the Battle of Harra, where Medinans were sacked and looted by Yazid's army.
Around that time, the question of the right of succession between Ali ibn al-Husayn and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah gained the most attention. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah was a pious, brave man whom many considered him as their Imam. Other Shiʻi sects said Zayn al-Abedin had the right to inherit the Imamate, for his father Husayn had designated him the next Imam. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah said he was more worthy.
After the death of Ibn Zubayr, the governor of Medina, Zayn al-Abedin and Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah agreed to go to Mecca and appeal to the Black Stone of the Kaaba to try to determine which one of them was the true successor. They went to the Kaaba, where the Black Stone was placed. Muhammad prayed for a sign but no answer came. Afterwards, Zayn al-Abedin prayed and the Black Stone became agitated and nearly fell off the wall; thus came the answer that Zayn-al-Abidin was the true Imam after Husayn, an answer which Muhammad had already known and accepted and he showed to other people.[c] After this, Zayn al-Abedin returned to Medina and led a quiet life with a few companions who referred to him for answers to religious questions.[d]
Ali ibn al-Husayn was respected by his followers, who considered him as the fourth imam, and by the circle of Medinan scholars who considered him as an eminent traditionalist. The lawyer Said ibn al-Musayyib and the jurist and traditionist Al-Zuhri—though attached to the court of the Umayyad—were among his admirers. Al-Zuhri gave him the honorific Zayn al-Abedin—the ornament of worshippers—and narrated many Hadiths from him. Evidence for his high position among people comes from an ode told by the well-known Arab poet Farazdaq. This ode mentions an occasion when the Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik was overshadowed by the respect people showed to the imam. It was the time of Hajj when both of them were trying to reach the Black Stone through the crowd turning around the Kaaba. The people gave way to Zayn al-Abedin while Hisham struggled desperately. This deeply offended the Caliph, who sarcastically asked to whom the people had shown such respect. Farazdaq, who was present there, composed an ode addressing Hisham's question; it is considered a masterpiece of Arabic literature and the most reliable contemporaneous document describing Zayn al-Abidin.[e]
It is narrated from the Imam that when he saw a beggar weeping, he said: If the world was in his hands and suddenly it dropped from him, it would not be worth weeping for. The Imam renounced worldly pleasures but did not give way to poverty and feebleness, rather he was "pious with what God prohibited". The Imam was self-denying and turned away from the world,[f] and Sufis consider him as Sufi and wrote biographies about him.
It is known from the Imam that while circumambulating the Kaaba, he heard a man asking God for patience, so he turned to him and said: "You are asking (God) for tribulation. Say: O God, I ask You for well-being and gratitude for it." It is also related when asked about asceticism, Zayn al-Abidin replied, "Asceticism is of ten degrees: The highest degree of asceticism is the lowest degree of piety. The highest degree of piety is the lowest degree of certainty. The highest degree of certainty is the lowest degree of satisfaction. Asceticism is in one verse of Allah’s Book: 'Hence that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you.' "[g]
According to William Chittick, the Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya is the "oldest prayer manual in Islamic sources and one of the most seminal works of Islamic spirituality of the early period". Shia tradition considers this book with great respect, ranking it behind the Quran and Ali's Nahj al-Balagha. This prayer book deals with Islamic spirituality and provides teachings on levels from the theological to the social. The traditional category of "faith", for example, which forms the basic subject matter of most of Islamic thought as developed in kalaam philosophy and Sufism, has been discussed in this book. Zayn al-Abidin refers frequently to Islamic practices, emphasizing the necessity of following the Quran and the hadith's guidelines, and the necessity of establishing justice in society.
The Fifteen Whispered Prayers also known as The Fifteen Munajat, is a collection of fifteen prayers attributed to Zayn al-Abidin, which some researchers regard as a supplementary part of the latter collection. These prayers enable a person to recite the prayer that is most in accordance with his present mood. The prayers start with repentance, which is the first step towards a genuine communion with God.
According to Abu Hamza al-Thumali, during the month of Ramadhan, Imam Zayn al-Abidin would spend most of the night in prayer. At the beginning of the fast, he recited a supplication later known as Du'a Abi Hamzah al-Thumali (The supplication of Abi Hamzah al-Thumali). This supplication is recorded in the book Misbah al-Mutahijjid of Shaykh Tusi.
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin
Zain al-Abidin's Treatise on Rights is the only work other than supplications, short sayings and letters, attributed to him. According to Chittick, this treatise is especially important because it deals with many of the same themes as the Sahifa in a different style and language. In this book, Zayn al-Abidin clarifies that a hierarchy of priorities must always be observed: The individual comes before the social, the spiritual before the practical, and knowledge before action. Each human being has a long series of social duties, but these depend upon his more essential duties; faith in Allah, and placing one's own person into the proper relationship with the Divine Reality.
Zayn al-Abidin was poisoned by Umayyad ruler Al-Walid through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in Medina. The date of his death is 95/713-14; he was buried next to his uncle, Hasan, in the cemetery of Al-Baqi' cemetery in Medina. After his death many people discovered their livelihoods had come from him. He would go out with a sack of food on his back, knocking at the doors of more than 100 families, and gave freely to whoever answered while covering his face to avoid being recognized.
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu QuraishBorn: 5th Sha‘bān 38 AH ≈ 657 CE Died: 25th Muharram 95 AH ≈ 713 CE
|Shia Islam titles|
Husayn ibn Ali
| 4th Imam of Twelver and 3rd Imam of Ismaili Shia
680 – 713
Zayd ibn Ali