A detailed history of the Ka'ba, and each of the 14 Ma'sumin (Infallibles).
It was March 1969 when I phoned The Director of the Islamic Center at Regents Park in London, the Raja of Mahmudabad for an appointment to discuss about setting up an organization for the sole purpose of furthering the education of Muslim youth.
I went to see Raja Saheb with my friend Sayyid Asghar Haider Kazmi. Unfortunately Raja Saheb was unable to see me that evening because of Shaikh Mujibur Rahman’s arrival in London who was with the Raja at that time. I went there the next evening and put before him a constitution by the name of Ahlebayt Academy.
Raja Saheb red the paper and commented that if the name is changed to Muhammadi Trust it would appeal to a wider audience. We agreed and in this way Muhammadi Trust came into being. Although the name changed the object of the association remained the same, which is the education of the Muslim youth on the lines the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet wanted us to learn.
The First Trustees were as follows: H.E. The Raja of Mahmudabad Sayyid Sadiq Husayn Shah Kazmi Dr.Sayyid Sikander Raza, Mirza Baqar Khorasanee Abbas Jethabhai Gokal Hasan Pirbhai Sayyid Muhammad Raza Shabbar (The writer of the present book)
After the resignation of Hasan Pirbhai due to business commitments, Mr. Qasim Husayn who had arrived in London after taking retirement from the Pakistan Air force as Wing Commander, was appointed as Trustee and also its secretary. The Work of the Trust began in earnest.
Muhammadi Trust, London, March 1997
In 1980 we celebrated the 1400 anniversary of the Hijri Calendar and published a short biography of the 14 Ma’sumeen (infallibles). As this was just a one page biography of each Ma’sum, we thought that this time we should make an effort to give the biographies of Ma’sumeen in detail. Our first effort was highly popular and the 3000 copies of our first print were sold out quickly. We had to reprint and even all copies of the second edition were also sold out.
Demand came from all countries from all five continents. Time passed but people still remember our effort and from time to time a call on the phone from Auckland New Zealand or Los Angeles USA reminds us that the need for some detailed biography is still there. Recently many more people asked about the book and we thought that the time has come to make an effort.
Indeed Sheikh Mufid’s Al-Irshad is there, but this is, although authentic, tedious to read and understand. The book appears to be for research scholars only, ordinary people, especially the youth in the West who wish to know about the Ma’sumeen do not have a suitable, extensive, or authentic enough book which tells them who these Ma’sumeen were, what they did and what influence they left on the Muslim society of today.
With this idea in the forefront, the following book is in your hands to read and understand about the 14 Ma’sumeen without taking too much of your time in understanding it. It is a simple, concise biography in simple English with all the necessary references at the end of each biography. Why were these Ma’sumeen called “Ahlul Bayt” ?
Qur’an in 42:23 tells us in the words of Prophet Muhammad,
“ I do not ask you for any recompense for this (communication of the revelation) except the love of the near kinship." (Mawaddata fil-Qurba).
Asking the believers to love the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt.
In 33:33 there is further elaboration of the Ahlul Bayt and their status.
This state of purity, which distinguished Muhammad (S) and his family (Ahlul Bayt) from the common Muslims, agreed with the elevated ranks of the families of the earlier Prophets, but this elevation was not unconditional, they had to be rightly guided to achieve that status. This guidance was confirmed by the following verses, Verse 33 goes like this:
"God desires only to remove any impurities from you, o people of the House (Ahlul Bayt) and to purify you completely.”
Who are the people of the House (Ahlul Bayt)? The pronoun referring to them is in the masculine plural, while the preceding part of the verse is in the feminine plural. This change in gender has evidently pointed the finger to the Five people of the mantle (Ahl Al-Kisa) i.e. Muhammad-’Ali-Fatima-Hasan-Husayn.
For this Verse was revealed when the Prophet (S) was in the house of his daughter Fatima under a Kisa. She is the narrator of this Tradition. When these Five persons were under the Kisa she used a sentence “Fa Lamma Aktamalna” And when we were complete (Under the Kisa).
She did not use the word Ajtam’ana, i.e. when were all gathered or assembled together for it would show the possibility of addition or subtraction from the Five. The word 'Aktamalna' clarified the position that these Five had completed the assembly without further additions.
Tabari in his commentary and Imam Fakhruddin Razi in his Tafsee-e-Kabir in their commentaries on this verse support this interpretation and the names of Five people with the exclusion of the wives of the Prophet.
The Ahlul Bayt of Muhammad (S) meant, as was consistent with the general usage of the term at the time, primarily his blood relations, the same people who were also forbidden to receive Alms ( Sadaqa) in order that their state of purity not be soiled or questioned. This also elevates them to the status of infallible (Ma’sum), that is, free of mistakes in all avenues of life.
To further confirm the names of these Five persons, in 3:61, the Verse of Mubahela clarifies this position in front of the large audience of Muslims as well as Christians. This Verse goes like this:
“ If one disputes with you in this matter (concerning Jesus) after the knowledge which has come to you, come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then let us swear an oath and place the curse of God on those who lie.”
And the personalities Muhammad (S) took with him were the same Five people of the Kisa.
He himself as Prophet of God, his Daughter Fatima (sa) as the women of the family, his two grand sons as the sons and his cousin ‘Ali (as) as the “Self” of the Prophet.
When the Bishop of Najran saw these faces he realized the truthfuof the Prophet and refrained from verbal confrontation of curse on those who lie. Qur’an’s logic plays a great part in understanding what God wanted us to know and what to do when matters are under dispute or subject to various interpretations. 3:31 tells us,
“ Say (O’ Muhammad) if you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins.”
In this Verse, the Prophet is introduced as an exemplar to whose behaviour and morality people should conform their own behaviour and morality, and whom they should take as their precedent. This in itself is a proof of the Prophet’s immunity from sin and error, because, if it were possible for sin and error to proceed from him, there would be no purpose in God, introducing him as a leader and a precedent.
This position then after the Prophet, passed to the Household (Ahlul Bayt) and according to a Hadith, which many Sunni and Shi’i scholars have narrated in their books on the life of the Prophet, in histories and in their own books on Hadith from nearly thirty companions of the Prophet. The Prophet chose his Household (Ahlul Bayt) for the leadership and Imamate. He said,
“ I leave among you two precious things: the Book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt. These two will not be separated until they encounter me at the pool of Kawthar (in paradise). Do not run ahead of them, for you will be ruined, do not neglect them, for you will be ruined and do not seek to instruct them for they are wiser than you.”
Looking at the above Verses of the Holy Book, let there be no doubt in the minds of any readers, believers or non believers, that the Prophet on orders of the Qur’an was a Ma’sum and so were his Ahlul Bayt.
Hence the lives of The Fourteen Ma’sumeen (as) for you to read, understand and follow, because following their footsteps will lead us to Love God. This should be the aim of every Human being on earth to achieve salvation.
The Present book is my life’s ambition which is to give authentic and correct information about the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet in the language that today’s youth understands. I pray that the Imam Sahib’uz-Zaman (aj) will accept this small offering from one of his humble servants.
In the province of Hejaz in the western part of Arabia, not far from the Red Sea, there lies the town of Makka. In the center of this town there is a small square building made of stones, about 60 feet long, 60 feet wide and 60 feet high. Since time immemorial this town and this stone built house has been known to world travelers. This is Baitullah, the House of Allah. Its sanctity and antiquity is older than history itself.
Tradition goes that the Kaaba was ordained by Allah to be built in the shape of the House in Heaven called Baitul Ma’amoor. Allah in his infinite Mercy ordained a similar place on earth and Prophet Adam was the first to build this place.
The Bible, in the Chapter of Genesis describes its building when God ordained Abraham to erect a Shrine for worship when Abraham was ordered to go to the Southern desert with his wife Hagera and infant son Ismael.
The Old Testament describes this building as the Shrine of God at several places, but the one built at Ma’amoor is very much similar to the one at Makka. There is no doubt that it was referring to the stone built house at Makka.
Qur’an brought this story into the full light of history. In Sura 3:90 Qur’an says
“Allah has spoken the Truth, therefore follow the creed of Ibrahim, a man of pure faith and no idolater”.
The first house established for the people was at Makka, a Holy place and guidance to all beings. Qur’an firmly establishes the fact that Ibrahim was the real founder of the Holy Shrine. When Prophet Ibrahim built the Holy Shrine in Makka, his prayers were that this place should remain a center of worship for all good and pious people; that Allah should keep his family the custodians of the Holy place.
Ever since, Ismael the son of Ibrahim who helped his father to build this place and his descendants remained the custodians of the Holy Shrine. History tells us that centuries passed and the guardianship of the Kaaba remained in the family of Ismael until the name of Abde Manaf came into the limelight. He inherited this service and made it much more prominent.
His son Hashim took this leadership and extended it to many other towns of Hejaz so much so that many pilgrims flocked annually to this place and enjoyed Hashims’s hospitality. A feast was given in honor of the pilgrims, food and water was served to all guests by the family of Hashim. This prominence created jealousy and his brother Abdu sham’s adopted son Ummayya tried to create trouble.
There was a dispute in which Ummayya failed and left Makka to settle down in the Northern provinces of Syria(Sham) currently known as Syria. After Hashim his brother Muttalib and after him Hashim’s son Shyba who became known as Abdul Muttalib assumed the leadership of the family. He organized feasts and supplies of water to the pilgrims during the annual festival of Pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.
Prophet Ibrahim built this House for devout worship to one God. But within his lifetime people disobeyed his orders and began to put idols inside the Kaaba. Ibrahim had to clean the House of these idols and of Idle worshippers.
He told the people that this was a symbolic house of God. God does not live there for He is everywhere. People did not understand this logic and no sooner had Ibrahim died the people, out of reverence, filled the place with idols again.
They thronged to this place annually and worshipped their personal gods, It was over Four Thousand years later that the last of the line of prophet (S), Muhammad Ibne Abdullah entered Makka triumphantly, went inside the Ka’aba and, with the help of his cousin and son in law ‘Ali Ibne Abi Talib, (as) destroyed all the idols of Ka’aba with their own hands.
At one stage of this destruction of idols, the tallest of the idol Hubbol was brought down after ‘Ali had to stand on the shoulders of the Prophet to carry out God’s orders. The Prophet of Islam was reciting the Verse from the Qur’an:
“Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished.” (17:81)
This was done in the 8th year of Hijra, January 630 AD after the bloodless victory at Makka by the Prophet of Islam.
Historically when Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to build the Shrine for worship over a small he uncovered the original foundations of the Kaaba built by Adam. Ibrahim with the help of his son Ismael erected the new shrine on the same foundations. Originally it contained only four walls without a roof .
Centuries later during the time of Kusayi who was the leader of the Tribe of Quraish in Makka a taller building was completed with a roof and a quadrangle wall around it to give it the shape of a sanctuary and doors all around the sanctuary walls. People entered through these doors to come to the Ka’aba for worship.
It is now about 60 feet high, 60 feet wide from east to west and 60 feet from north to south. A door is fixed about 7 feet above ground level facing North East. A Black stone (Hajar al Aswad) was fixed into its eastern corner. In front of the building was Maqame Ibrahim, the arch shape gate known as that of Banu Shayba and the Zamzam Well.
Just outside are the Hills called Safa and Merwa and the distance between the hills is about 500 yards. These days both of the hills are enclosed into the sanctuary walls with a roof over it.
The whole building is built of the layers of grey blue stone from the hills surrounding Makka. The four corners roughly face the four points of the compass. At the East is the Black stone (Rukn el Aswad), at the North is el Ruken el Iraqi, at the west al Rukne el Shami and at the south al Rukne el Yamani.
The four walls are covered with a curtain (Kiswa). The kiswa is usually of black brocade with the Shahada outlined in the weave of the fabric. About 2/3rd’s of the way up runs a gold embroidered band covered with Qur'anic text.
In the Eastern corner about 5 feet above ground the Hajar el Aswad (the blackstone) is fixed into the wall. Its real nature is difficult to determine, its visible shape is worn smooth by hand touching and kissing. Its diameter is around 12 inches.
Opposite the North west wall but not connected with it, is a semicircular wall of white marble. It is 3 feet high and about 5 feet thick. This semicircular space enjoys an especial consideration and pilgrims wait in queue to find a place to pray there.
The graves of Ismael and his mother Hajera are within this semicircular wall. Between the archway and the facade (N.E.) is a little building with a small dome, the Maqame Ibrahim. Inside it is kept a stone bearing the prints of two human feet. Prophet Ibrahim is said to have stood on this stone when building the Ka’aba and marks of his feet are miraculously preserved.
On the outskirts of the building to the North East is the ‘Zamzam Well’ (this is now put under ground).
Qur’an in Surah Baqara Verses 121 to 127 described it clearly that Allah had ordained his servant Ibrahim to build the Shrine there for worship of One God. During Kusayi’s time it was rebuilt and fortified. During the early years of Prophet Muhammad (S) before he announced his ministry, the Ka’aba was damaged by floods and it was rebuilt again.
When the Black stone was to be put in its place the Makkans quarreled among themselves as to who should have the honor to place it there. They had just decided that the first comer to the quadrangle should be given the task of deciding as to who should have the honor. Muhammad (S) came in and was assigned this task.
He advised them to place the stone in a cloak and ordered the heads of each Tribe each to take an end and bring the cloak nearer the corner on the eastern side. He himself then took out the stone and placed it in its position. It has been fixed there ever since.
After the martyrdom of the family of the Prophet at Karbala in 61 Hijri (681 AD), the Ummayad Caliph Yazid Ibne Moawiya did not stop there in the pursuit of his destruction. He sent a large contingent under the command of Haseen Ibne Namir to Madina which destroyed the Mosque of the Prophet.
They did not stop there but proceeded to Makka and demolished the four walls of the Ka’aba and killed thousands of Muslims who protested. Yazid died and Ibne Namir returned to Damascus, Ka’aba was rebuilt by Abdullah Ibne Zubayr and his associates.
Umawi forces came back to Makka and killed Abdullah Ibne Zubayr, hung his body on the gates of the Ka’aba for three months for all to see the Umawi power. But eventually this arrogance of power brought its own consequences and Mukhtar became the ruler in Iraq. Under his guidance the Ka’aba was refurbished and pilgrims began to arrive in safety to perform Hajj.
The Ka’aba successfully withstood the Karamatian invasion of 317/929, only the Blackstone was carried away which was returned some twenty years later. In the year 1981 the Wahhabis brought tanks inside the Ka’aba to crush the kahtani revolution against the Saudi regime and almost demolished the South Eastern Wall. This was later restored with the help of the Makkan people.
Every man living in Makka in the 6th and 7th century must out of necessity have had some relationship with the Ka’aba. On the Muhammad (S), the Prophet of Islam, the Qur’an is silent during the Makkans period in this respect. All that is known is that the Muslim community of the period turned towards Jerusalem in prayers.
Subsequently about a year and a half after the Hijra the Muslims were ordered during prayers which were led by the Prophet of Islam himself to turn towards Makka. The particular mosque in Madina where this happened is called Masjid al-Qiblatain, meaning the mosque with two Qiblas. The Qur’an tells the Muslims,
“Turn then thy face towards the sacred mosque and wherever ye be turn your faces towards that part ” (2: 139-144)
At this same period the Qur’an began to lay stress on the religion of Ibrahim, presenting Islam as a return to the purity of the religion of Ibrahim which, obscured by Judaism and Christianity, shone forth in its original brightness in the Qur’an.
The pilgrimages to the Ka’aba and ritual progressions around the building were continued, but were now for the glorification of One God. The Abrahamic vision of the Ka’aba created a means of discerning an orthodox origin buried in the midst of pagan malpractices to which the first Muslims pointed the way.
Every year after the Hajj ceremony the place is closed for one month and on the Day of Ashura the Ka’aba is washed from inside by the Water from the well of Zamzam and a new Kiswa is brought to cover the Ka’aba for the next year.
This is the story of the Ka’aba and the persons who protected it and remained its custodians and protectors from the satanic and evil forces throughout history. Muhammad (S) and the people of his household (Ahlul Bayt) were the protectors of the Ka’aba, and currently the 12th Imam from the direct descent of the Prophet of Islam is the real protector, its custodian and guardian and shall remain as such while in concealment. In the following pages we shall unfold the lives and times of these 14 Ma’sumeen Alaihimussalam.
Born in Makka on 17th Rabiul Awwal about 53 years before Hijra. The year of his birth was called “Amul Feel” due to the invasion of the Ka’aba by Abraha the viceroy of the Abyssinian King. Since the forces of Abraha arrived on elephants which is “Feel” in Arabic, the Arabs called this the year of the elephant. According to the Christian Calendar it was 571 AD.
The Roman Empire was in decline, the Capital was transferred from Rome to Constantinople and the whole of Europe was divided into little kingdoms fighting among each other. On the Eastern side The Sassanid Empire of the Persians was also in decline.
This was the world scene when a boy was born to the most renowned family of the Quraish, the Banu Hashim. His father was Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib and his mother was Amena daughter of Wahb. As a baby he was sent to the nearby Bedouin Tribe where a lady called Halima nursed him.
Muhammad (S) was born an orphan as his father Abdullah died a few months before his birth. His grandfather Abdul Muttalib looked after the boy. Abdul Muttalib died when Muhammad (S) was only 8 years old and then his uncle Abu Talib the father of ‘Ali, took over the upbringing of his nephew. His first journey outside Arabia was to the northern parts of Syria with the trading caravan of his uncle Abu Talib.
During one such journey an old Christian monk called Bohaira met the trading caravan and saw young Muhammad (S) who was about 14 years old at that time. The old monk told Abu Talib to look after the boy well, “for very soon his enemies will try to hurt him”.
The monk also told Abu Talib that he saw unusual signs in the boy who will grow up into someone very important. Muhammad (S) remained with his uncle’s family until the age of 25. It was due to his honesty and straight forward manner that he was successful in trading and became known to many traders in Makka .
One of the leading trading families in those days was the family of Khadija a widow who was looking for an honest young man to look after her business affairs. Muhammad (S) took Khadija's caravan party to Syria and various other places and was a great success. Khadija was impressed and asked him for marriage.
Although being much older than Muhammad (S), (she was 40 years old), the marriage was agreed upon by both families and Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib read the Khutba of marriage and performed the marriage ceremony according to the Abrahamic traditions. The words of the Khutba as described in Sirat-e-Rasullallah by Ibne Hisham were:
“Praises are for Allah who was the God of Ibrahim who worshipped one God and a Muslim. I am the descendent of Ibrahim and have remained on the same religion of One God. May Allah keep this purity among the descendants of Ibrahim forever”. After this Khutba Abu Talib completed the marriage ceremony between Muhammad (S) and Khadija.
Muhammad (S) moved to her house and the partnership from trading to partnership in life began in earnest. A baby daughter was born to Khadija within a few years after the marriage. She was named Fatima (sa).
Khadija had two daughters from her earlier marriage which ended in widowhood. So the three daughters, two from Khadija’s earlier marriages and one from Muhammad (S) grew up together in the same house. History mentions another boy growing up in Muhammad’s house. He was ‘Ali (as) , Abu Talib’s son.
‘Ali (as) was born in the year 30 Amulfeel when Muhammad was 30 years old. Fatima’s birth was recorded some five years later. So the difference of ages between Fatima and ‘Ali was about 5 years. ‘Ali was treated by Muhammad (S) like a son and Muhammad (S) took him everywhere he went.
Ibne Hisham in his Sirat mentions that Muhammad (S) began to meditate more and more. He would leave the town of Makka to the nearby hill called Jabal el Noor. There was a cave at the top of the hill and Muhammad (S) would climb the mountain and sit in the cave to meditate. Sometimes he would stay there for days. Many times ‘Ali accompanied him.
One such story tells us that on one occasion Muhammad (S) did not return for 3 or 4 days and Abu Talib was concerned. His son ‘Ali was also with him. They had taken some food with them. So the searching party from Makka went to the mountain looking for the two.
When they reached the top and entered the cave they found Muhammad (S) and ‘Ali (as) meditating together, safe and sound. Abu Talib asked Muhammad what he did there. Muhammad told his uncle that he and ‘Ali were engaged in meditating about the creator of the universe, the God of Ibrahim and Ismael
This meditation continued until one day a voice was heard inside the cave. It said, “Read”. Muhammad (S) replied what shall I read. The voice said, “Read in the name of thy Lord”. He was Angel Gabriel who told Muhammad (S) that he was ordained by Allah to be the Messenger of Allah and to preach this “Deen” to the people.
This was the first revelation that came over Muhammad (S) when he was told to begin his preaching of the Qur’an to Makkans. Muhammad (S) came home and told Khadija about this who immediately accepted him as the Messenger of God.
She also said that her uncle Warqa had told her that Muhammad (S) had the signs of a great Messenger. When the news of this first revelation of Verse from the Qur’an had reached Warqa through Khadija he told her, “Didn’t I tell you that this husband of yours was the Messenger of God”.
‘Ali (as) was living with Muhammad (S) and had also accompanied him to the Mountain of Hira, and had also experienced the revelation with Muhammad (S). He had no doubts who Muhammad (S) was and was the first to acknowledge him as the Messenger of Allah.
Khadija among the women, their daughter Fatima (sa) and the two daughters from Khadija’s earlier marriage. All acknowledged Muhammad (S) as the Messenger of Allah. Muhammad (S) used to enter the Ka’aba and pray there with Khadija and ‘Ali (S).
The story was mentioned by Ibne Hisham in his Sirat as follows: 'One day these three were praying while Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib, Muhammad’s uncle was sitting on the nearby hill and watching. A trader from Yemen was sitting with Abbas. He asked Abbas who these three people were praying in a strange man.
The woman was Muhammad’s wife Khadija and the boy was Abu Talib’s son ‘Ali. “they follow some strange ‘deen’ which we are not familiar with yet,” was Abbas’s reply.
Muhammad (S) said that “Lailaha Illallah” means that there is no god, only Allah that Muhammad (S) is His messenger, and that all men are born equal. He taught against idolatry, and against social injustices of the time. In the beginning this preaching of One God went on secretly.
Zaid and Abubakr were the other two who accepted Islam. The slave community of Makka began to accept this because they liked the tone of equality of all human beings. But once they accepted the faith they became steadfast never to go back to their adulatory even after suffering torture by their masters.
Muhammad (S) preached Islam secretly for 3 years but only a few people were converted to Islam. At the end of the 3rd year Allah told Muhammad to “invite your own family and clan and announce to them that you are preaching Islam.” Muhammad (S) asked ‘Ali to prepare some food. Some bread, meat and milk was brought in.
Over 40 heads of the Tribes of Quraish were invited. They came, ate food then before Muhammad (S) was able to say anything they all dispersed. So the next day Muhammad (S) Invited them again and immediately after food Muhammad (S) announced, “I am the Messenger of Allah and my message is of peace and surrender to One God, anyone who helps me in this work will be my Deputy and will be my successor after me.”
‘Ali who was only 13 years old stood up and told Muhammad (S) he will help him in his work. Muhammad (S) asked ‘Ali to sit down and repeated the same announcement three times and all three times ‘Ali stood alone. In the end Muhammad (S) announced that ‘Ali will be his deputy and successor after him. One head of the tribesmen laughed at this and one even told Abu Talib, father of ‘Ali that “now you should obey your son.”
Now that this religion came out in the open the Quraish of Makka became openly hostile. In the beginning they thought that the whole thing was a joke, but gradually when it became serious, they were angry and became openly hostile. For the people of Makka and towns like Taif, this was a very strange religion.
They disliked it so much that first they persecuted the Muslims, then organized a boycott of Muhammad and his whole family of Banu Hashim. They banished him from Makka and the whole family lived in the Hills and mountains around Makka. The place became known as Sho’be Abu Talib, As Abu Talib as Head of the Clan of Banu Hashim protected the family while they were in exile. For three years the family suffered hunger and great poverty.
The Leaders of Quraish had written down on a piece of goat skin that Banu Hashim shall never return to the city until Muhammad (S) denounces his single god religion. At the end of three years Muhammad told his uncle Abu Talib to go to Makka and tell the Makkans that the piece of skin on which the agreement was written was no more.
As it was sealed and was kept inside the Kaaba and no one was allowed to enter the place, they were surprised. The leaders said that if Muhammad (S) was right and the agreement was no more, then they will lift the siege of Banu Hashim and let them return to the city. The Kaaba was opened, the sealed box was opened and the peace of parchment on which the agreement was written was found to be consumed by insects.
When they saw this they agreed to lift the siege and allowed the family of Banu Hashim to return to the City. Little had they realized that the news of this miraculous knowledge of Muhammad (S) about the disappearance of the parchment, had a great effect on the people of Makka and they began to accept Islam. After this event many more Makkans were accepting Islam readily, especially the poor class of Makka who accepted Islam in earnest.
But with this conversion, the feudal lords of Makka had increased their hostility towards new converts, punishing them and torturing them so much so that in the end Muhammad (S) told them to migrate to another land.
Habasha (Abyssinia) was the nearest country across the seas where they could hope to be safe. So the first migration began and about 83 new Muslims under the leadership of ‘Ali’s elder brother Jaafer Ibne Abi Talib, migrated to Habasha.
Until that time Jaafer was the main writer of the revelation (Wahii) with 2 other companions named Abdullah Ibne Masood and Obai Ibne Ka’aba. Mas’ab Ibne Omair was also an early convert to Islam and a writer of the Revelation. He was sent to Yathrib to teach Qur’an to the people early there who had shown a great interest in this new creed.
‘Ali Ibne Talib, after his elder brother Jaafer’s departure to Habasha became the head among the writers of the Revelation. ‘Ali continued with the writing of the Revelation up to the last Verse of the Holy Qur’an.
This was revealed after the Khutba of the Holy Prophet at Ghadeer Khum on 18th of Zilhijja 10th Hijri. This Verse is in 5:3 which says that “This day I have perfected your Deen for you, and I have completed my blessings on you, and I have approved Islam for your Deen.” Seventy days after the event, the Holy Prophet passed away.
Islam was spreading rapidly, Muhammad’s uncle Hamza entered the fold of Islam which gave great strength to the new creed. It was at this time that Omar Ibne Khattab also came to accept Islam.
After Muhammad’s (S) return from the Shu’be Abi Talib to the normal city life of Makka, Islam had start to spread rapidly under the protection of Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib. But Allah had other plans. Abu Talib and Khadija both died within one year which was a sad blow to the family.
The Hostility of the Quraish had taken a dangerous trend especially after the death of Abu Talib. Abu Lahab and Abu Sofyan who were the leaders of the hostile group against Islam made plans to end Muhammad’s life.
They thought of a scheme where if one person from each tribe of Quraish surrounded Muhammad’s house, entered the house in the morning and killed him then the blame would be on all tribes and Banu Hashim would not be able to take revenge. Allah told the Prophet of this scheme and instructed him to leave the city of Makka and migrate to Yathrib.
Muhammad asked ‘Ali to sleep in his bed to deceive the enemy. ‘Ali asked “ will this save your life,” Muhammad (S) said yes, it will save my life. ‘Ali replied “then I have no hesitation in sleeping in your bed disguised as you.”
While ‘Ali slept in Muhammad’s bed, Muhammad (S) himself left the house undetected by the enemy who had surrounded his house with open swords. Abubakr was with the Prophet, when they left Makka from the southern exit and hid in a cave a few miles away. While they were inside the cave a spider weaved a web on the entrance to the cave to give an impression that no one had entered the cave.
Meanwhile in Makka the enemy with open swords entered Muhammad’s house in order to kill him, but found ‘Ali sleeping soundly. They asked ‘Ali, where was Muhammad to which ‘Ali replied, “have you entrusted him to me?”
The enemy left disappointed, but realized that Muhammad (S) must have gone to Yathrib. They tried to follow the tracks with the help of professional trackers and reached the cave of Thaur where these two were sitting inside. But the spider’s web deceived them and they all came back disappointed.
Muhammad (S) reached Yathrib, the town some 400 kilometers north of Makka and the converts there named the city as ‘the city of the Prophet’ (Madinatun Nabi). Ever since then the town has been known as Madina. The date of this migration was 26th July 623 AD and under the new Islamic Calendar, the first year of the Hijra.
‘Ali stayed in Makka to give back to the owners all the valuables which the people of Makka had deposited with Muhammad for safe keeping. After three days when this important task was completed ‘Ali (as) set out for Madina and arrived there a week later. Muhammad (S) waited for him at the outskirts of the town and entered the town with the whole family.
The People of Madina helped Muhammad (S) settle in this new place. Their help was appreciated so much so that they were called Ansars, the Helpers, while those who came from Makka were called Muhajiroon, the migrants. On orders from Allah, Muhammad (S) brought Muhajirs and Ansars together by making each Ansar a brother to a Muhajir.
This way they shared each other’s property like brothers. Muhammad (S) took ‘Ali (as) as his brother in faith, although ‘Ali was his cousin in relation to blood. (Sirat Ibne Hisham).
Muhammad’s daughter Fatima was about l 9 years old and there were many suitors, but whenever somebody asked Muhammad (S) for Fatima’s hand in marriage he kept quiet. One day ‘Ali (as) came to the mosque and asked for Fatima’s hand in marriage.
Muhammad replied "Yes, this has been ordained by Allah." He asked , "What property do you have," to which ‘Ali replied, "not much." He had a sword, a horse and a protective shield. Muhammad said "sell the shield, because you will need the horse and the sword for the protection of Islam."
‘Ali sold his shield for 200 Dirhams, brought the money to Muhammad (S) who added another 200 Dirhams over it and asked his companions to buy household goods to set up home for the newlyweds. He then read the Khutba and finalized the marriage of ‘Ali (as) and Fatima.
This was in the First year of the Hijra. This was a simple Islamic marriage which should be copied by all Muslims instead of spending lavish amounts of money and huge dowries to cripple the parents economically forever.
As Islam was the religion of peace and surrender to the Will of God, aggression had been forbidden. In spite of various attacks on the newly converted Muslim community in Madina, Muhammad (S) had forbidden all retaliation. News came from Makka that all those who left Makka had lost their property. The Makkans had taken all they had left behind.
Muhammad’s uncle Hamza asked Muhammad (S) to fight with the Kuffars of Makka but he did not agree. In the end when news came that the Makkans were marching towards Madina to fight Muhammad (S) and his newly converted Muslim community, the Verses came down on Muhammad (S) to stand up and defend your “Deen”, but do not exceed the limits. In other words you can only defend, aggression was totally forbidden. ( 2: 173-174)
In the 2nd year of Hijra, 624 AD, 'The Battle of Badr' took place. The Makkans marched towards Madina with 1000 soldiers. Muhammad (S) with his army of 313 men came out of Madina. Badr is situated some 10 miles south of Madina and 240 miles north of Makka. The Makkans travelled all the way to Madina to defeat Islam. The Muslims had no choice but to defend Islam.
Hamza, ‘Ali Obaida came out of the Muslim side in single combat with the chiefs of Makka who were all slain. The battle ensued and at the end of the day the Makkans were defeated with 70 dead, while very few Muslims were killed.
Those Makkans who were taken captive were told that if they could teach Muslims to read and write, they would live freely in the city and be provided with food and shelter. This was a clear direction that gaining knowledge was the first priority in Islam.
In the 3rd year of Hijra, ‘The Battle of Ohud’ took place. The Makkans did not like their defeat in Badr and began their preparations in earnest. They came with 3000 men to fight Islam. Muhammad (S) heard the news and came out of Madina with 700 men.
Muhammad (S) arranged his small army in such a way that the mountain was behind them. Some 30 archers from the army were strategically placed in an opening in the mountain to protect the Muslims from any attack from behind.
Initially the Makkans were no match for the valor of the Muslim soldiers and they began to run away. Newly converted Muslim soldiers prematurely thought they had won the war, so they began to take possession of the booty of war.
When the 30 archers saw this, they left their strategic mountain pass to join the others. Khalid Ibne Walid saw this opening and cleverly attacked from behind on the person of the Prophet himself. It was ‘Ali (as) and a few other true companions of the Prophet that saved the day and saved the life of the Prophet. The Prophet was himself injured by a stone.
Khalid Ibne Walid shouted ‘Muhammad is killed’, upon which hearing this, many companions began to run away in panic. The wounded Prophet was left in the battlefield with only ‘Ali, Hamza, Abu Dajjana and Zakwan to defend him.
These brave warriors fought fiercely and during this encounter Hamza was killed by a spear wound inflicted by the Slave of Abu Sofian’s wife Hind. Zakwan and Abu Dajjana lay wounded and ‘Ali was left alone to defend the Holy Prophet.
‘Ali had received 16 wounds during this battle. He picked up the Holy Prophet while he was surrounded by the enemy and with Khalid shouting to finish the Prophet off for good. ‘Ali fought against them, killing two of them, which led the others to run away. ‘Ali (as) boldly lifted the Holy Prophet and carried him to the mountain and safety.
‘Ali kept shouting “ the Holy Prophet is alive” so that the Muslims who ran away might come back. Those Muslims who had not run far returned and saw the wounded Prophet and his daughter Fatima (sa) attending to his wounds. They took heart and began to fight the enemy under the command of ‘Ali (as) and drove them away.
The victory was gained. The Prophet returned to Madina and declared three days of mourning for his uncle Hamza. The Holy Prophet said afterwards that ‘Ali’s bravery was applauded by Angel Gabriel who said that there is no braver youth than ‘Ali and no better sword than Zulfiqar.(Details of this battle can be read in the History of Tabari, Waqidi and Abul Fida).
The Battle of Khandaq: 4th year of Hijra, 626 AD: At the end of the battle of Ohud when Abu Sofian was unable to hurt the Holy Prophet, he returned to Makka after promising that he will come back next year and will take revenge for the defeats of Badr and Ohud. This time it was not only the non believers of Makka who were with him. He had also taken the help of the Jews of Madina to defeat Islam forever.
The Jewish tribes of Madina promised to help in two ways, one to send soldiers to fight in the battlefield and two to create fear among the women and children who were left in the town unprotected.
The Prophet’s companion Salman Farsi suggested that the Muslims must dig a moat on the unprotected side of the town. The Muslims took this advice and the moat was ready within 3 days in which the Prophet himself took part. When the enemy forces arrived at the scene they were unable to enter the city due to the newly dug moat and they stayed on the outer side.
But one of their most famous soldier's named Amr Ibne Abde Wud jumped the moat with his horse and challenged the Muslims to fight with him. When The Prophet asked his bravest to go and fight Amr none of them was eager to come out. Omar Ibne Khattab even suggested that this man was so brave that he fought one thousand men alone and defeated them.
‘Ali was eager as ever to fight this man and he came out with the blessings of the Holy Prophet who said, ‘Today the whole faith has come out to fight the whole infidelity. ”‘Ali was able to kill the enemy soon and when the Prophet saw ‘Ali victorious he uttered the words “Verily one blow of ‘Ali’s sword on the day of Khandaq is superior to the worship of all beings until the Day of Judgement.”
Amr was killed, but the battle was not over. Armies of non-believers were on the other side of the ditch while the Muslims were inside the city almost besieged without any provisions. After a while with the prayers of the Holy Prophet a storm blew up that frightened the army of the non-believers and they ran away never to come back again.
After the battles of Badr, Ohud and Khandaq the infidels of Makka avoided any further military ventures. The Prophet decided to perform Umra in the 6th year of Hijra (628 AD). As the Muslims approached Makka, the infidels of Makka did not like this and stopped the Muslims entering Makka. Seeing them bent on aggression, the apostle of God agreed to a treaty with the Makkans.
It was wisely drafted by Imam ‘Ali (as) , the terms outwardly looked humiliating to Muslims that if a Muslim was taken captive by the infidels he will not be returned but if an infidel comes to the hands of the Muslims he will be released immediately.
When the Holy Prophet signed the treaty, Umar Ibne Khattab disliked it so much that he uttered the words,” I have never doubted about the Prophethood of Muhammad (S) this much as I did today.” He questioned the Prophet about this humiliating agreement to which the Prophet replied, "I am the Messenger of Allah and all my acts are on the orders from Allah."
But it is evident that this deviation from the path of the Prophet was later to become an acceptable norm rather than an off the cuff event. Later you will see how this misconceived habit of contradicting the infallible Prophet of Islam created divisions within the religion itself. Those who followed ‘Ali as the follower of the Sunna of the Prophet became the partisan of ‘Ali, others followed Omar ibn Khattab.
(see Saheeh Bukhari, Kitab-alKholafa)
The Jews of Madina ever since their treachery during the battle of Khandaq, were always on the lookout for some mischief to hurt Islam. This mischief mongering increased so much so that they were banished from the city to live outside Madina. They had extensive lands and had built strong fortresses where most of the Jewish community lived.
The fort of Khyber was a strong fort built of stone with an iron gate. It was the strong hold of the Jews who invaded Muslim lands and villages around the area. They killed Muslims and looted their property. Warnings were given to the Jews of Khyber to stop their mischievous deeds but they did not bother even to acknowledge their misdeeds.
The Holy Prophet proceeded to stop this problem for the Muslims. Muslim forces encamped outside this fort. It was in the month of Muharram in the 7th year of Hijra. On the First day Abubakr led the Muslim forces to fight the Jews.
The Jews came out of the fort. A furious battle was fought; Muslims could not break the Jews onslaught and retreated back to their camp. The Next day Omar Ibne Khattab took the flag and tried to defeat the Jewish forces without success.
That night the Prophet announced,” Tomorrow I will give the flag of Islam to a man who is brave and does not run away from the battlefield, he loves Allah and the Prophet of Allah and Allah and His Prophet love him.”
The Next day, after morning prayers the Prophet called for ‘Ali (as) and gave the Flag in his hands. ‘Ali (as) holding the flag in his hand went towards the fort. Noticing that only one man was coming towards the fort the Jews did not come out in the open field. Reaching the gates of the fort ‘Ali fixed the pole on a hard stone slab. Noticing the fixing of the flag on a hard stone, a Jew who was a learned scholar, asked from the top of the wall, " who are you? ”
‘Ali replied, “I am ‘Ali son of Abu Talib.” Hearing the name the learned scholar turned towards his people and told them, “I have read in the sacred both at a man of this name will defeat you." In accordance with the convention of the Arabs, ‘Ali announced his challenge and demanded the bravest of them to come out and fight him in single combat. Merhub, one of the brave and skilled warriors came out and was killed by ‘Ali (as) in one blow.
His brother Anter came out and he was also killed in a single blow of ‘Ali’s sword Zulfiqar. Once these brothers were killed ‘Ali went towards the iron gates and brought them down. Once the gates were open Muslims entered the fort and soon the Jews were defeated.
This was a great victory for Muslims, for the Jews were a mischievous lot and had been giving a lot of trouble to Muslims of Madina and those living around. Most of the Jewish land came into the Muslims hands. It was at this time that a Palm orchard called Fadak also came into the Muslim hands. The Prophet of Islam took this orchard for himself and later gave it to his daughter Fatimah.
The battle of Khyber was a turning point in the defeat of the Jews of the Province of Hejaz and victory for Islam.
On the 10th of Ramadan 8th year of Hijra the Holy Prophet left Madina for Makka with a large number of his companions. On arrival at Makka the Prophet met no resistance. The people of Makka were so overawed that they did not come out, and most of them for fear of their lives hid themselves in their houses.
Prophet’s uncle Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib took Abu Sofian to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet asked him, “ Has the time not come for you to verify the truth of accepting Allah and my Prophethood.” Abu Sofian replied, "for that my heart still wavers."
Abbas hearing this reply said loudly, "woe to you, be quick in accepting Islam or you might be killed.” Thereupon Abu Sofian verified that Muhammad was the Prophet of Allah and recited the Kalema. His son Moawiya also came in the fold of Islam at this time together with other children of Abu Sofian.
The Holy Prophet then declared that anyone who enters Abu Sofian’s house would be safe. Holy Prophet then entered the Ka’aba and began to demolish all the 364 idols perched inside the Holy shrine. The biggest one was Hubul and to destroy that idol The Prophet asked ‘Ali to climb over his shoulders and bring the idol down to the ground.
This way the Ka’aba was cleared of the idols and was purified in the same manner as Holy Prophet’s ancestor Hazrat Ibrahim did in the beginning when he built the Shrine for the service of one God and none else.
After the bloodless victory of Makka, the battle of Hunain took place in which ‘Ali (as) was the main champion who had defeated the non-believers and most of the tribes around Makka accepted Islam. The battle of Tabuk took place in the same year when Prophet went to the North of Madina. In this battle he did not take ‘Ali (as) with him.
Instead he appointed ‘Ali as the leader in Madina while the Prophet was away. Some mischievous persons told ‘Ali (as) that he was left with women and children rather than fighting with the Prophet. When ‘Ali (as) enquired this from the Prophet he replied,” would you not prefer the state of affair as it was between Moses and his brother Aaron, except that there will not be a Nabi after me.
What the Holy Prophet meant that by leaving ‘Ali inside the city of Madina as his deputy, The Prophet was setting the example of Moses when he left Aaron in his place and left for Mount Sinai. This Hadith is called Hadith-e-Manzelat which clearly declares that ‘Ali was to become Prophet’s successor after him.(see Saheehe Bukhari Kitab el Ahlul Bayt, Also Soyuti Kitab al Khulafa)
The 9th year of Hijra was of great importance because of the treaty with the Christians of Najran, This treaty is regarded of vital importance because it was the result neither of war nor of any discussion but ended in Mubahela between the Holy Prophet and the Christians of Najran.(This means cursing each other).
The Christians of Najran were unhappy because of the rapid spread of Islam in the land of Arabs. They wished to discuss this matter with the Prophet and arrived in Madina. Few learned scholars were selected by the Christians who had a continuous dialogue with the Prophet for three days.
It started on Saturday, when Sunday arrived and they asked to leave to go outside the city to pray the Prophet told them to stay and pray inside the Mosque of the Prophet which they did to their surprise.
Prophet of Islam was setting the example that there is freedom of worship in Islam for all who believe in God. After their Sunday service their discussion continued. They were unable to arrive on any mutual understanding. The sticking point was the claim by the Christians of the divinity of Jesus Christ as the son of God.
The Holy Prophet told them, “ The birth of Jesus Christ is similar to the birth of Adam. Allah created Adam without father and mother while Jesus was born without a father and from his mother only. None of the two was the son of God.
This is the truth, for you accept the creation of Adam without parents yet do not claim him to be of divine essence. Why then do you deviate from this truth." When they did not agree on this point revelation from Allah came on the Prophet.
(3:61) The Verse reads like this
“If you are not prepared to accept the truth after the fact that you have failed in your arguments, Say, Come now, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our Selves and Your Selves, then let us humbly pray and so lay God’s curse upon the ones who lie.”
The next morning the Holy Prophet emerged from his house with his closest family. He held the hand of Imam Hasan (as) walking beside him, held Imam Husayn (as) in his arms, followed by his daughter Fatimah (S). She was followed by ‘Ali (as).
He came and stood with this family in front of the Christian Bishops who also came forward to perform the Mubahela. The chief of the Christians was Bishop Abul Harris.
When he saw this small family of the Prophet he turned towards his fellow Christians and told them, “Do not indulge in Mubahela with this family, for I am observing such pious faces that if they would order the mountain to come to them the mountain shall move towards them.
It is therefore prudent to make treaty with them rather than confrontation of this spiritual imminence. They asked the Prophet for peace and it was accepted. The Holy Prophet extended the hand of friendship towards them, a treaty was signed and both parties left on friendly terms.
On the 25th Zeeqaad of the 10th year of Hijra the Holy Prophet left Madina for a pilgrimage to the Holy Ka’aba at Makka. This was to be the last pilgrimage of the Holy Prophet.
A very large number of people were with him who performed this last pilgrimage with the Prophet. At the mount of Arafat the Prophet gave his last sermon and came out of Makka towards Madina. Half way through their route the caravan arrived at a place called Ghadeer-e-Khum. It was 18th of Zilhijja 10th year of Hijra.
The Prophet stopped there and made a general announcement to stop all those pilgrims with him. When all companions were assembled at the place the Prophet announced, “Know all my followers that I am about to leave this mundane world. I am leaving behind two valuable things for your future guidance. One is the Book of Allah and the other is my Ahlul Bayt, that is my family. If you follow these two you will never be misled."
After this the Holy Prophet took ‘Ali by his hand, raised him up so that all can see him. The Prophet said, “ Do you accept that my Self is above your Selves. When all the companions replied in unison, "Yes, Prophet of God, we accept, "then he announced that whoever accepted him as his master, then ‘Ali is to be their master. "O’ God, be witness that I have passed your message as thou have ordered. Those who have love for ‘Ali will have love for me and those who will love me will love Allah."
After this Khutba the Prophet arrived back in Madina at the end of the month of Zilhijja.
In the month of Safar 11 Hijra, the Holy Prophet fell ill. Most of this time with the agreement of his wives the Prophet stayed at the house of Ayesha from where he would come out to the mosque and lead the prayers. One day he was very ill so he asked Ayesha to call ‘Ali for prayers. She called her father Abubakr instead and asked him to lead the prayers.
While Abubakr was leading the prayers The Prophet woke up. When he realized who was leading the prayers, he came out of the house with the help of his uncle Abbas and his Moazzin Bilal, stood in front of Abubakr and led the prayers. From there the Prophet returned to the House of his daughter Hazrat Fatimah where he stayed until the last day of his life.
It is narrated in Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim that Ibne Abbas narrated:
When the Holy Prophet was seriously ill, and all of us were around him, he opened his eyes and said, bring me pen and paper so that I may write something which shall always guide you and shall keep you on the Right Path and shall save you from being astray.
Hearing these words from the lips of the Holy Prophet, Omar said, " Ur- Rajulo la -Yahjur” meaning this man was talking which makes no sense.”Hasbona Kitab Allah” The Book of God is sufficient for us.
This gave rise to a dispute among the companions. Some were of the opinion that as the Holy Prophet was to be obeyed at all times and under all circumstances a pen and paper should be provided to him, while some of them were on the side of Omar.
The hot discussion on that point between the companions gave rise to noise and the Holy Prophet angrily told them to go away from his presence and leave him alone.”
Whenever Ibne Abbas, who was the most profound scholar and commentator of the Holy Qur’an and the most reliable narrator of the traditions, remembered the event of the day, he used to weep and would say, “Alas, what an unfortunate day it was when the Holy Prophet demanded that a pen and paper be provided to him and there arose a dispute among his companions and they made such a noise that the Holy Prophet told them to get away from him and leave him alone.”
The Holy Prophet asked ‘Ali to come close to him. ‘Ali (as) came and observing the ailing condition of the Holy Prophet raised his head and placed it on his own chest. The Prophet passed away while his head was resting on the chest of ‘Ali (as) .
The news of the death of the Holy Prophet spread quickly among the companions. All of them came out of their house weeping and crying loudly. Umar was very upset. He took his sword out and said, nobody should say that the Prophet was dead. Then he took Abubakr away from the place to a house outside Madina called Saqeefa Bani Sa’ada.
Many companions went with them. While ‘Ali (as) and most of the Bani Hashim stayed in the house of the Holy Prophet while ‘Ali (as) prepared for his burial. The Historian Ibnul Wardi mentions in his book that the funeral bath to the Holy Prophet was given by ‘Ali (as) , assisted by his uncle Abbas and many other relatives.
The Holy Prophet laid to rest on the night of Wednesday. He was 63 years of age. He was buried in the house of his daughter Fatimah which was annexed to the Mosque of the Prophet.
The best known description of the Holy Prophet appears in 'Universal History' by Tabari(d.Baghdad 310AH 923 AD) and is attributed to Imam ‘Ali (as) Prophet’s cousin and also his son-in-law.
Asked for details of the Prophet’s external appearance, ‘Ali said, “ He was of medium height, neither very tall nor very short. His complexion was pinkish white, his eyes were black, and his hair was thick, glossy and beautiful. A full beard framed his face. Hairs of his head were long, falling to his shoulders. They were black.
His walk was so energetic that you would have said that he tore himself from the rock with each step, and yet at the same time he moved so lightly that with each stride he seemed not to touch the ground. But he did not walk proudly, as princes do. There was so much gentleness in his face that once in his presence, it was impossible to leave him.
If you were hungry, you were satisfied by looking at him and thought no more of food. Any man suffering from an affliction forgot his troubles when in his presence, charmed by the gentleness of his features and his discourse. All, who saw him, agreed that they never met, neither before nor after, a man whose discourse was so delightful.
His nose was straight; there was a gap between his teeth. Sometimes he would let the hair of his head fall naturally, at other times he wore it knotted into two or four bunches. At sixty three years, no more than fifteen hairs on his whole body had yet become white with age.”
1. "Seek knowledge even if it were in China." It was knowledge of good from evil, which made man worthy of getting the great job of the vice-regency of God on earth. Knowledge has given man superiority over more powerful creatures. It is self evident that nations, which had more knowledge, acquired greater power. The above tradition stresses the need of acquiring knowledge even if one has to travel long distances.
2. "Masses follow the religion of their rulers.” A deep study of history surely reveals the truth of this proverbial saying. Christianity was going through a very hard time until Constantine the great made it a state religion of the Roman Empire.
After acquiring this status Christianity spread throughout the Empire like bush fire. More or less the same thing happened in the East when Islam became the religion of the ruling class. Even now in this age of so called individual freedom and a democratic life style, in most countries force is used to subdue and subjugate the people who dare to defy the policy of the ruling classes.
This clearly means that a just and guided ruler is essential for the up lifts of the people as a whole, hence the need of the presence of an Imam to guide them.
3, “ Refrain from slanderous situations. People say that such and such a person associates with thieves, he must be a thief himself. A wise man keeps himself away from such situations.”
4. “ Actions are determined by their intentions.” Saying prayers while your mind is somewhere else is worthless."
5. "To associate with a learned man for an hour is better than the company of a worshipper for seventy years."
6. “ Someone asked the Holy Prophet during the battle of Badr, “What is Deen”. The Prophet replied, Belief in One God and service of the people.”
The Prophet of Islam had only one daughter named Fatima. Her mother Khadija had two other daughters from her two earlier marriages. When The Prophet married her, both daughters came with her mother to live in the house of the Prophet.
Hazrat Fatima (sa) was born five years before Bethat when Muhammad (S) was about 35 years old and her mother Khadija was about 50 years old. She has many other titles. Zahra (Lady of Light) and Sayyidatun Nisa al Alamin (Leader of the women of the worlds). The Date of her birth was 20th Jamad al Akhar.
After the death of her mother Khadija, she looked after her father the Prophet of Islam so devoutly that Muhammad (S) used to call her “Umme Abiha”, i.e. the mother her father. This was the hardest time for the family because in the same year Abu Talib who was the protector of Muhammad (S) from the animosity of the Quraish also died in the same year as Khadija.
Muhammad (S) married Umme Salama, an old widow after the death of Khadija to have someone to look after the household chores.
When Umme Salama was requested to tutor the child Fatima (sa), the wise woman replied “How can I tutor one who is the personification of high virtues and purity. It is I who should learn from her.” Her childhood, therefore, was passed in a very chaste and modest environment.
It was then that she saw her revered father preaching Islam in the most hostile atmosphere. The hostility of the Quraish after the death of Abu Talib and Khadija was the strongest. Fatima saw and dressed the wounds sustained by her father due to the stones thrown on him by the non- believers who were ho to the preaching of Islam.
She might have heard and seen that certain wretched women hurled rubbish on her noble father. She might have learnt of the plans made to put an end to her father’s life. But from all these things Fatima was neither frightened nor disheartened. She comforted her father, tended to his wounds even at that tender age.
The entire family was blanketed with clouds of sorrowful gas a result of the almost daily humiliation and mockery to which her most revered father was subjected.
When the migration took place, Fatima was left in Makka with the rest of the Family which included her step mother Umme Salama, ‘Ali’s (as) mother Fatima binte Asad and many others. ‘Ali (as) was in charge of the family.
He stayed in Makka for another 3 days to give back the deposits to the Makkans who entrusted these to the Prophet for safe keeping. After fulfilling this duty ‘Ali (as) brought the family to Madina
After one year’s stay in Madina when Fatima (sa) was about 18 years old that proposals for marriage began to be received by the Prophet who politely refused to accept by simply saying that it is in the hands of Allah, that he was awaiting Allah’s decree in this matter.
Fatima (sa)was the model of Prophet’s teaching among women just as ‘Ali (as) was the best embodiment of his instructions and manly qualities among men. They were the most suitable couple to be married. But ‘Ali (as) was too modest to speak about it.
After some persuasion from friends he finally went to see the Prophet in the mosque and proposed for marriage. Prophet told Fatima about it and asked her whether she would approve. After receiving her consent the marriage of Fatima (sa) and ‘Ali (as) took place in the simplest possible manner.
‘Ali (as) sold his shield of armor for 200 Dirhams, brought the money to the Holy Prophet who added a similar amount and asked his companions to buy household goods to set up home for the Holy Family. Marriage was solemnized by the Prophet himself and after marriage the couple went to live in a separate house next to the House of the Prophet around the Mosque.
Hassan (as) was born in the 3rd year of Hijra, Husayn (as) was born in the 4th year of Hijra, Zainab was born in the 6th year of Hijra, Umme Kulthoom was born in the 7th year of Hijra.
It was in the same house that the famous Verse of Purification (Surah 33.Verse 33) was revealed on the Holy Prophet and its narration by Fatima has become so famous that it is read in every Muslim house as Hadith-e-Kisa. The Reading of this Hadith brings blessings to the household.(Tafseer-e- Kabir by Al-Razi).
It was in the same house where this blessed family fasted for three days continuously without eating any food giving away their Iftari to a beggar, an orphan and a prisoner who arrived at their door and asked for food. The Verse in Surah Dahr revealed in praise of their extremely charitable act in the way of Allah.
It was in the same house where every morning the Holy Prophet stood outside and said loudly “Assalamo Alaikum Ya Ahlebaitin Nubuwwah” Peace and blessings on the people of the Household of the Nabi.
There was so much respect in the heart of the Holy Prophet for Fatima (sa) that whenever Fatima (sa) arrived in the mosque of the Prophet, the Holy Prophet stood up to respect her. This gesture was also to show the companions respect for women generally which was lacking in the Arabian society of the day.
These acts of the Prophet were to show the companions that this house and its occupants have a special place in the way of Allah and that this status should be maintained after the death of the Prophet. Unfortunately this was not done as the Holy Prophet intended his companions to do. History tells us some very sad moments connected with this house.
After the death of the Prophet when ‘Ali (as) did not come out to give his oath of allegiance to Abubakr, the door of the house was burnt down to get him out and in the process Fatima (sa) was injured. Her 5th unborn child died because of this harsh action of some of the companions and she herself died within 3 months of the death of her Holy father.
The following lines of poetry show her ordeal after the death of her holy father very clearly.
“After the death of my father My sufferings were so great that if such hardships fell upon days, the days would turn into nights.”
Fatima (sa) was a symbol of womanhood in Islam. How a daughter, a wife and a mother should behave in their ordinary lives. She was devoted to her father, looked after him when he was in distress by the hands of the non-believers of Makka, she was the exemplary wife, queen of her household yet fair to her maid servant Fizza to divide household chores between herself and the maid servant, she was a devout wife and the most loving mother to her children.
There were occasions when there was no food for the family, but she would never complain. Once ‘Ali (as) went out to do some work to get food for the family but returned empty handed. Fatima asked ‘Ali (as) what happened to the food.
‘Ali (as) said that he did earn some money and bought food, but while on his way home he met some poor hungry persons and gave away all the food to them. When the Prophet heard of this situation he brought some food for the family and told them that ‘Ali’s charitable act was of the greatest value in the eyes of Allah.
The whole family was thankful to Allah and there were no complaints against anyone.
She would go to the mosque of the Prophet to participate in the prayers with all the ladies, she would go out in the battlefield to tend the wounded. In the battle of Ohud when her father was injured she tended him, cleaned his wounds, put some burnt wool on the wounds to stop blood flowing. When the Holy Prophet recovered, he thanked her for her great work in the battlefield.
On 3rd of the month of Jamad al Thani Hazrat Fatima (sa) died. This was about 90 days after the death of her Holy father. Asma binte Umais in the same house to help her household work tells the story of her death in a very moving manner. When the day arrived she prepared food for her children, then she told Asma that she was going to her prayer room.
She would say Takbeer loudly at various intervals. When Asma does not hear the sound of Takbeer she should go out to the mosque and tell Hazrat ‘Ali (as) about the death of his wife. If in the meantime the children come home give them food before telling them about the death of their mother. Hasan and Husain arrived and Usma brought some food for them.
They said they do not eat without their mother and she had to tell the children of the death of their mother. Both entered the prayer room and stayed with her for a while. Hazrat ‘Ali (as) arrived and prepared for the last rites. When he was giving her last bath he cried loudly.
Asma asked the reason and he said he could not bear to see the wound by her side when the door of the house fell on her due to commotion by some of the companions of the Prophet when they all wanted ‘Ali (as) to come out of the house for the oath of Allegiance to Abubakr.
After performing the last rites she was taken to the cemetery of Baqii in the darkness of the night for burial. Very few family members were present at the burial of the daughter of the Prophet. Some historians say that she was buried in her own house which became part of the Masjid-e-Nabavi during the reign of Umavi Caliph Umar Ibne Abdul Aziz.
This is a plot of land not far from where the mosque of the prophet stood and the houses of his companions around it were built as living quarters. This land was used as a cemetery for the Muslims.
The famous writer Mustafawi writes in Nuzhatul Qulub, “The cemetery of Madina called Baqii lies to the west of the town and here is seen the grave of Ibrahim, Prophet’s only son and also the grave of his daughter Fatima. There are graves of Prophets grand son Imam Hasan, Imam ‘Ali Ibnul Husayn Zainul Abedeen, Imam Muhammad Baqir and Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) .
For centuries there has been a marble slab over their graves and on this is written:
In the name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate
Praise be to God Who sustains the nations and Who gives life to dead bones.
Here is the tomb of Fatima, the daughter of the apostle of God and the queen of the women of the world.
Here is also the tomb of Hasan Ibne ‘Ali;
Here is also the tomb of ‘Ali Ibnul Husayn;
Here is also the tomb of Muhammad Ibne ‘Ali al Baqir;
Here is also the tomb of Ja’far Ibne Muahammad As-Sadiq.
May God favor them all.
The cemetery of Baqii was destroyed by the Wahabis in 1932.
. A modern writer describes the scene as such: 1.
When I entered the Baqii the sight which I saw was as if it were a town which had been raised to the ground. All over the cemetery nothing was to be seen but little indefinite mounds of earth and stones, pieces of timber, iron bars, blocks of stone and a broken rubble of cement and bricks strewn about.
It was like the broken remains of a town which had been demolished by an earth quake. All was a wilderness of ruined building material and tombstones, not ruined by a casual hand, but raked away from their places and ground small.”
The writer of this book also visited Baqii in 1995 and found that the authorities have erected a wall around the whole area of Baqii incorporating also the jewish part of the cemetery in it to make it into one huge cemetery.
A platform was built just outside the wall where people can stand and see the graves of the Holy Ma’sumeen and shed a tear or too. People were allowed to enter the inner circle of the wall after the Fajr prayers for two hours but were not allowed to go near the graves.
They had to stand about 30 feet away from the place and can see the outlines of the graves. Besides 5 Ma’sumeen, there was a mark for the grave of Hazrat Fatima Bine Asad, mother of Imam ‘Ali (as) .
This is Jannatul Baqii where the most beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet together with her children and grandchildren lie in wilderness without even a tomb stone over them.
It was Friday 13th of Rajab 30 Amulfeel Hazrat Fatima binte Asad, the wife of Hazrat Abu Talib entered the precincts of the Kaaba and prayed to Allah saying O’my protector ease my pain.’All of a sudden the wall of the Kaaba opened up and she, as if by some unseen force went inside the Kaaba and the wall closed.
‘Ali (as) the youngest son of Abu Talib was born inside the Holy Kaaba. She stayed inside for three days. On the 3rd day she came out through the door and Muhammad was waiting outside. She told Muhammad (S) that the boy had not taken any milk. Muhammad gave him the first feed from his mouth and afterwards asked his uncle Abu Talib that he wished to adopt the baby.
‘Ali entered the house of Muhammad from the very first day of his birth. ‘Ali’s mother Fatima binte Assad Also lived there who looked after his own son as well as Muhammad (S) so much so that later the Holy Prophet used to say that she was like his own mother.
Shah Waliullah, Mohadith-e-Dehlvi writes in the book “Izalatul Kholafa” giving reference from Imam Hakim in his Mustadrak Part 3, Page 483. Qud Tawatarul Akhbar Inna Fatimah Binte Asad woledat Aliyan Fi Jaufil Kaaba”. Another writer of the old school Sibtel Jauzi in his book Tazkeratul Khawas ul Umma, page 7 mentions the same fact that ‘Ali was born inside the Kaaba.
Khawja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri mentions this fact in his famous Quartet saying that when ‘Ali was born inside the kaaba the Sky and the earth was filled with a light and Angel Gabriel announced that a child was born in the house of God.
Maulana Rumi in his Mathnawi writes, “ O’one who travels to Najef to visit the tomb of ‘Ali must know the fact that the pearl of the Kaaba lies there to give us security because of our intense love for him.”
Masoodi the famous historian writes in his book of history Muruj el Zahab, that ‘Ali was born inside the Kaaba on the orders of Muhammad the Messenger of God.
It was after the adoption of ‘Ali (as) that he lived with the Holy Prophet in his house.
Wherever Muhammad (S) went ‘Ali (as) was with him all the time. Even in the Mountain of Hira when Muhammad (S)went for meditation ‘Ali (as) went with him most of the time. Sometimes they stayed on the mountain for 3 or 4 days. Sometimes ‘Ali (as) took his food there. In Nahjul Balagha ‘Ali (as) said that “ I used to go with the Holy Prophet like the baby camel goes with his mother.”
Some historians try to show that when Muhammad (S) declared his prophet hood ‘Ali (as) was the first among male children who accepted Islam. The implication here is that both Muhammad (S) and ‘Ali (as) were non -believers before this declaration.
This is against the Qur'anic verdict which says that Ibrahim was a Muslim and he taught his children to be Muslims so that when the Prophet was born among the descendants of Ibrahim through the line of Ismael he was born a Muslim and so was ‘Ali. The correct thing to say would be that when Muhammad (S)declared his prophet hood openly ‘Ali (as) immediately adhered to the declaration without hesitation.
The three persons seen in prayers in the Kaaba were Muhammad, Khadija and ‘Ali before anyone else accepted Islam. For 3 years young and poor persons of Makka were accepting Islam secretly. The first open declaration came when the Qora'nic verse tells the Prophet to "come out openly and warn the people of your own clan."
Invitations were sent to leaders of the Banu Hashim to come to the house of Muhammad (S)for Dinner. Forty of them came, ate food and then heard Muhammad (S)about his mission of ‘ No god but Allah and Muhammad (S) as the messenger of Allah and whoever offers his help to propagate this religion will be his deputy and successor.
No one stood up except ‘Ali (as) . After announcing this 3 times Muhammad (S) declared that ‘Ali (as) will be his deputy to his mission and will be his successor after him. People thought it as a joke that a 13 year old boy was to be a deputy of this prophetic mission.
Even Abu Lahab jokingly told Abu Talib, go and obey your son to which AbuTalib smilingly accepted. ‘Ali (as) promised to help Muhammad (S) in his mission and kept this promise all his life.
The next thing which we see in the life of ‘Ali (as) is the reflection of this promise he gave at this place in front of the leaders of the Quraish.
We see ‘Ali (as) protecting Muhammad (S) from the abuses of the enemies of Islam. When Muhammad (S)went to Taif a nearby town to preach Islam children of Taif hurled stones and it was ‘Ali (as) who protected the Prophet and drove the stone throwing children away from the Prophet.
As a youth ‘Ali (as) was strongly built, strong arms, wide chest and a very strong brave and shining face. Children of his age and even older to him were frightened of him and whenever they tried to mock the Prophet, they always ran away when they saw ‘Ali (as) standing by for protection.
Time passed and hostility of the Quraish increased so much so that Muhammad (S) was ordered by Allah to leave Makka. ‘Ali (as) slept on Muhammad’s bed without hesitation and when the non-believers entered the house of Muhammad (S) to kill, they found ‘Ali (as) who was not afraid at all at the site of 40 swordsmen entering the house.
When they questioned ‘Ali: ”where is Muhammad” he bravely replied, did you leave him in my custody? When after 3 days of Muhammad’s departure ‘Ali returned all the goods entrusted to Muhammad to their owners, he set out to leave Makka for Madina with the rest of the family.
‘Ali (as) had with him his mother Fatima binte Asad, His aunt, the wife of Hamza, and Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (S) and many other ladies. Non-believers of Makka tried to stop ‘Ali (as) from his departure but ‘Ali (as) fought back, drove the infidels away and safely reached Madina. Muhammad (S) was waiting for the family outside the precincts of the town. He entered the city with ‘Ali (as) and the rest of the family.
The Holy Prophet created a bond of brotherhood between the Muslims, making ‘Ali (as) as his Muslim brother saying O’’Ali, you are my brother in this world as well as in the next.
Once the family settled in the newly adopted city of Madina their first task was to complete the mosque around which their houses were also built. ‘Ali initially stayed with his mother but when he married Fatima the daughter of the Prophet he was given a house next to the Prophet by the side of the mosque. He had been betrothed to her several days before the battle of Badr.
But the marriage was celebrated three months later. ‘Ali was about 23 years old and Fatima was 18. This was most happy and celebrated marriage. The distinctiveness of their respective characters blended so well with each other that they never quarreled and complained of one another and led a happy and most contended life.
Materially the couple did not possess much, spiritually they were at the highest level of assent. They had no worries if they go hungry or their clothes had patches. They would be more concerned if an orphan goes away from their door without receiving any food.
History records ‘Ali’s life in Madina with the Holy Prophet for the next ten years as the busiest in defending Islam against the attackers from Makka. ‘Ali (as) was always the standard bearer of the Flag of Islam in all such battles and his bravery became legendary.
Ibne Abil Hadid, the Motazelli commentator of Nahjul Balagha says that: ‘Ali (as) had a personality in which opposite characteristics had so gathered that it was difficult to believe a human mind could manifest such a combination. He was the bravest man that history could cite and such brave men are always hard hearted, cruel and eager to shed blood.
On the contrary ‘Ali was kind, sympathetic, responsive and warmhearted person, qualities quite contrary to the other phase of his character and more suited to pious and God fearing persons.’Ali’s bravery and piety both became legendry. Life in Madina while the Holy Prophet was alive was the busiest for ‘Ali. But he remembers these times as the best times of his life. He says in Nahjul Balagha ‘Life with my brother was a life of ease and happiness.’
The battles of Badr, Ohud, Khandaq and Khyber were fought in the defense if Islam and won on the hands of ‘Ali (as) . He was not only the standard bearer of the Flag of Islam in these battles, but always led the forces of Islam against Kufr and came out victorious. Khyber was the climax of these battles when ‘Ali’s victory brought prosperity in the Muslim ranks.
Ayesha the wife of the Prophet said once that until the victory of Khyber we in the house of the Prophet spent days without food. It was only after Khyber that life at home became a little easier. Thus ‘Ali (as) brought an end to the hostilities of Quraish in three encounters of Badr, Ohud and Khandaq.
Their best warriors were killed, their unity against Islam was crushed, their pride was humiliated and their prestige before Arab clans was lowered by him and by him alone. Khyber saw an end to the hegemony of Jews in Arabia at the hands of ‘Ali (as) .
The peace agreement of Hodaibiya was written by ‘Ali (as) and at the time of the peaceful victory at Makka, the idols of the Kaaba were demolished by the Holy Prophet with the help of ‘Ali (as) .Details of these battles were shown in the life of the Prophet.
The Victory of Makka brought many non believers into the fold of Islam. Broadly speaking there were three types who embraced Islam. Fear, greed and the true understanding of Islam and its principles. Some of the Makkans became Muslims for fear of their lives, they were afraid that the Prophet would kill them, others were simply frightened that the Holy Prophet with the help of Angel Gabriel would bring the wrath of God on them.
Then there was greed that Islam was now victorious, so if they joined in the good life would be theirs for free. Very few of them truly understood Islam and accepted it as a true faith. The Test of their true faith came immediately after the fall of Makka while Muslims were still in the sweet pleasure of this bloodless victory, that various tribes outside Makka gathered an army of 20,000 in Taif to fight the Muslims.
The hostile tribes decided to attack at a vantage point at Hunain and selected two prominent places where they concealed their archers. The Muslims were proud of their success in Makka, but their behavior during the encounter was timorous and cowardly. The Qur'an tells us this in (9:9):
“God came to your help on so many occasions, on the day of Honain, your vanity in the number of your soldiers and your arrogance did not prove any avail to you, you were badly defeated and could not find any place of shelter, you started running away without shame.”
This encounter took place in the month of Shawwal 8th Hijri (Jan 630 AD). When the Muslim army marched towards the place where archers were concealed the enemy opened the campaign with such a severe onslaught that the Muslim army could not stand it.
Their assault was fierce and confusion in the Muslim ranks made the archers bolder and they came nearer and attacked from both flanks and from the front. The Muslims could not stand the attack and started running without putting any resistance and where not concerned to leave the Prophet alone, (see Saheeh Bukhari).
The first battalion to run was the one in the command of Khalid ibne Waleed(Rauzathus Safa vol II page 137) This was followed by such a disorderly and tumultuous flight that only 10 people were left out of an army of 15,000 with the Holy Prophet. Eight of them were of Bani Hashim,(.Abbas, two of his sons, ‘Ali and three other cousins of the Holy Prophet)
Abbas was shouting to the Muslims to come back, reminding them of the oath of allegiance taken and promises made, but it was to no avail. Those who accepted Islam for greed , wealth and power were not willing to risk their lives.
Many of them who had carefully hidden their enmity from the rising power were happy at the defeat. They gathered round Abu Sofian, started congratulating him and saying, "The magical circle of the lying Prophet is broken,” They were praying for the return of Polytheism. 1.
Once again it fell to the lot of ‘Ali (as) to save the Holy Prophet and the Islam. Armies of Bani Hawaazen and Banu Saqeef under cover of their archers were rushing the hillock and were getting ready for a fierce onslaught.
‘Ali (as) divided the small band of faithful true Muslims in three divisions; to Abdullah Ibne Masood, Abbas ibne Abdul Muttalib and Abu bin Harris has assigned the duty of protecting the Holy Prophet, to three he ordered to guard the rear and he himself faced the onslaught with only three warriors with him.
He fought, wounded at many places, but continued fighting when he faced the commander of the hostile army, Abu Jerdal in hand to hand fight and killed him with one stroke of his sword. He alone killed over 30 of the enemy and with this bravery his aids also fought bravely and enemy was defeated.
The day was saved, the commander of the enemy’s army was killed, their ranks were broken they had no courage to face ‘Ali (as) and they started retreating. The sight of the powerful army in retreat, made the fleeing Muslims bold and they came back as victory was won for them 2.
The defensive battles were over and the peaceful spread of Islam began. ‘Ali (as) was again in the forefront. He brought the whole tribe of Bani Hamdan to Islam by preaching . Similarly when he was sent to Yemen he brought the whole country in to the fold of Islam by his sermons.
This news so pleased the Holy Prophet that he bowed down in Sajdah to thank God three times and said loudly, peace be to Bani Hamdan and to ‘Ali. Again in the year 10th of Hijra ‘Ali’s sermon and preaching proved so effective that the whole province embraced Islam as one man.
In the 9th year of Hijra the famous event of Mobahela took place. Najran was a city in the province of Yemen. It was the center of Christian Missionary activities in southern Arabia. The Holy Prophet had written to the Chief Priest of the City to realize the blessings of Islam.
In reply he wrote that he personally would like to discuss the teachings of this new religion. His name was Haris. He was invited and came with a group of 14 priests.
These priests as guest of the Holy Prophet. Long discussions took place during the course of 4 days of their stay in Madina. When Sunday came the Chief priest wanted to go out of the city to have their Sunday Service. Prophet Islam said that they all have permission to conduct their religious service inside the mosque of the Prophet which they happily did.
Long discussions continued about monotheism verses trinity and it was realized that these priests were not open minded, on the contrary they were prejudiced against monotheism. The Almighty Lord ordered the Holy Prophet to explain to that:
“Verily Jesus is as Adam in the sight of God. He created Adam from dust. He said unto him, Be, and he was. This is truth from thy Lord. be not therefore one of those who doubt, and whoever shall dispute thee, say unto them, “come let us call together our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our Selves and your Selves, then let us make imprecations and lay the curse of God upon those who lie.” (3:61)
According to Bibi Ayesha when the above verse was revealed to the Apostle of God, he called ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn and said, “Lord, this is my family (Ahlul Bayt). The Holy Prophet took this small family with them to the open land outside the city where they all assembled to bring the curse of God on those who lie.
When the Chief priest saw these faces, he told his companions that he was looking at the faces that if they call the mountain, the mountain will go them. Do not have Mobahela with them or you will be destroyed. On hearing this they all agreed to pay homage to the Holy Prophet and an annual tax for living in the Islamic State and withdrew from the scene.
In history there were numerous occasions when the Holy Prophet designated ‘Ali as his Deputy and successor after him. From the moment of Zulasheera to the time of the conquest of Khyber and the occasion of the battle of Tabuke the Holy Prophet made it abundantly clear that no one deserved more than ‘Ali to be his Deputy and successor. But at the time of Ghadeer this was clearly ordered by Allah through a clear verse revealed on the Prophet. The Verse said,
"O’ apostle; proclaim the whole of that which hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord, for if thou dost it not, it will be as if thou hast not at all performed the duty of His Prophethood. And God will protect thee from evil men, verily God guideth not the unbelievers.” (5:67.)
The occasion was after the last pilgrimage in 10th Hijri. The Prophet delivered his Sermons on Mount Arafat, had the final rounds of the Kaaba and left for Madina. More than 120,000 pilgrims were coming out with him from Makka going to the North.
Half way through their journey where the routes were separated for various pilgrims, the Holy Prophet ordered the whole caravan to halt. All those who went ahead were called back and for those who were behind they waited for them to arrive.
The place was Ghadeer, near the pool of water. That is why it was named Ghadeer-e-Khom. When all assembled at this place the Holy Prophet stood up on top of the pulpit and said, "People, shortly I shall be called towards my creator where I shall have to give an account as to how I have conveyed His message to you and you in your turn will be asked as to how you have accepted and carried out the teachings. Now tell me what you will say”.
Thereupon all the pilgrims declared as one man, "Apostle of God, we testify and declare that you have conveyed the message of God fully, you have strived your utmost to guide us to the Right Path and taught us to follow it. You were most kind to us and you never wished for us but our good, may God repay you for all that."
After that the Prophet said, "Do you not testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His creature, His servant, and His apostle, that there is the Heaven and the Hell, that death will overtake every one of you, that you will be brought back from your graves that the Day of Judgement will surely dawn and human beings will be resurrected from their graves to account for their deeds.
The whole crowd declared in unison, "We believe and testify all this." Hearing this the Apostle declared, "I am leaving amongst you two most important things worthy of obedience, the Qur’an and my progeny (Ahlul Bayt). Take care how you treat them, they will not separate from each other till they reach me at the fountain of Kauser.”
Then he said, “The Almighty God is my Lord (Maula) and I am the Lord of all Muslims and have more right and power on their lives than they themselves. Do you believe in this assertion of mine?" They all in one voice replied “Yes O’Apostle of God. Three times he asked the same question and three times he received the same affirmative reply.
At this solemn affirmation he said, “Hear and remember that to whomever I am Lord or Maula, ‘Ali is the Lord and Maula to him. He is to me what Aaron was to Musa. The Almighty God is a friend to his friends and a foe to his foe, help those who help him and frustrate those who betray him.
While saying this he raised ‘Ali High over his shoulders in order to be seen by all the Muslims assembled there. Thereupon the Holy Prophet received the final revelation:
"This day I have perfected your religion for you and have filled up the measure of my bounties upon you and I am pleased with Islam to be your Deen," (5:3).
After performing this ceremony and receiving the above revelation the Holy Prophet came down from the pulpit and ordered a tent to be erected. In this ‘Ali (as) was made to take his seat and all Muslims were ordered to pay homage to him and address him as Amirul Momeneen (Lord of the faithful) The first person to congratulate and address him as such was Omar Ibne Khattab saying, “I congratulate you, O’’Ali, today you have become my Maula and Lord and Lord of every Muslim man and woman. 1.
The event of Ghadeer was on 18th of Zilhijja 10th Hijri, immediately after the last pilgrimage by the Holy Prophet. He then arrived back in Madina and lived only for 70 days after the event.(130 Prominent Companions of the Holy Prophet narrated this Hadith including the first three Kholafa-e-Rashidoon)
The year 11th AH was the saddest year for ‘Ali. (as) He lost two of his best friends. One of whom he loved and venerated like a father, like a master and like a dearest friend, the Holy Prophet(S) who died on 28th Safar 11th Hijri, exactly 70 days after the event of Ghadeer. His death followed by the death of his dearest companion his wife Fatima, the Lady of Light.
Immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet who was buried by ‘Ali (as) with the help of his uncle Abbas and all the family of Bani Hashim, the news was given to ‘Ali (as) about the events at the Saqeefa that Abubakr was made Caliph. Abu Sofian heard the news came to ‘Ali (as) and told him that his Right was taken away from him.
If he wishes, Abu Sofian would fill the city of Madina with horsemen to defend ‘Ali’s Right of Khilafat. ‘Ali’s reply was typical, he said,” since when you have become friends of Islam”, you want to create serious dissension amongst the Muslims. You have always tried to harm Islam I do not need your sympathies or help.”
‘Ali realized that any serious dissension at this stage would harm the cause of Islam. He had before him the example of Hodaibiya and he had been foretold by the Holy Prophet of all that would happen. Allama ‘Ali Ibne Mohammed (630 AH) in his book Usdul Ghaba Vol iv page 31 says, The Holy Prophet had told ‘Ali, your status is like that of Kaaba.
People go to Kaaba but that August house never approaches anybody. Therefore after my death, if people come to you and swear the oath of allegiance you accept it and if they do not come to you then you do not go to them.”
‘Ali’s love for Islam was so intense, he could not, for the sake of worldly rule, endanger Islam. He knew fully well that a civil war at this stage would give chances to the Jewish tribes of Banu Nuzair and Banu Qoraiza on the one side, and the Byzantine armies in the north with the Munafiqoon (hypocrites) the new converts on the third side to simply take advantage of the situation.
When they would find the Muslims busy killing each other they would literally cut them to pieces and Islam would totally disappear as a message of peace. ‘Ali’s utmost desire was to see Islam and the Arabs in one piece and wanted the enemies of Islam to realize that Islam was strong enough to defend itself as “Deen”. even after the demise of the Apostle of God.
He had another important job to complete that is the completion of the collection of Qur'an with its Tafseer (explanations) according to the instructions of the Holy Prophet. Qur'an as a book was already completed by the Holy Prophet, many copies were made and circulated among the Muslim communities all over the Islamic world.
What ‘Ali did in the next six months after the demise of the Holy Prophet was to collect all the explanations of the various verses, reasons behind their revelation and their full context. This monumental job he completed in six months and brought before the Muslims in the city of the Prophet.
Unfortunately this was ignored by the ruling party and ‘Ali (as) took it back with him. Their comment was "this is too bulky and people will not understand it.”
The original remained with ‘Ali (as) all his life and then passed on to his son Hasan (as) and then to Husayn (as) which then continued with the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. It is now with the 12th Imam (as) .
During the time of the three Kholafa, although ‘Ali (as) did not take part in any of the battles, he was always available when they sought his advice on religious matters. His position as the jurist was on the top of the list among the companions of the Holy Prophet.
Omar Ibne Khattab the 2nd Caliph had given clear instructions that when ‘Ali was present in the mosque of the Prophet no one should take precedence over him in answering questions on religious matters.
In one such encounter during the time of the 2nd Caliph, a group of Jewish scholars approached the caliph and said, “ We have a few questions. If we get the answers to these questions correctly, we will accept the Islamic faith. “Ask whatever you want to ask," said the caliph. They asked the following questions.
1. What are the locks and keys of heaven?
2. Who was the messenger who was neither of the human nor of the jinn and who warned his people?
3. Which are the 5 beings that were created without the aid of ovaries?
4 What are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve?
The caliph thought over these questions for a time, then said, I do not know the answers to these questions. I will take you to a man who is most knowledgeable in the commandments of God and the Prophet and the greatest among us. The caliph then brought the Jewish scholars to ‘Ali (as) . They asked the same questions to him. ‘Ali (as) answered thus:
1. The locks of the heavens are beliefs in more than one God, and its keys are the letters of “La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammad-Ur-Rasulallah.”
2. The messenger who warned his people is the ant who, when Solomon’s army was passing by, said to his people, “ Enter your houses so that the army may not stamp you out (without intention)”. So God states in the Holy Qur'an,
“Until they came to the valley of the Ants, said an ant (addressing the other ants of the valley) O” you ants’ enter into your dwellings, so that Solomon and his hosts may not crush you while they know it not”. (27:18)
3. The five beings that were not born of ovaries are: Adam, Eve, the staff of Moses which used to change into a python, the camel of Saleh, and the sheep of Ibrahim (which was sent by God to become a ransom of the life of Ibrahim’s son Ismael).
4. One is God who has no partners, two are Adam and Eve, three are the substances ( i.e. non-living matter, plants and animals), four are the Heavenly books: Torah of Moses, Bible of Jesus, Zubur of Dawood and the Qur'an of Muhammad (S).
Five are the daily prayers. Six are the days of creation of the heavens and earth, as per the verse of the Qur'an:
“And indeed We created the heavens and the earth and what is between them two, in six periods and touched us not any fatigue.” (Surah 50:38). Seven are the seven heavens, in the light of the Qur’anic Verse: “And we have erected above you the seven strong ones.” (78:12)
Eight are those angels who bear the heavens, as per the Qur'anic Verse:
“And the angels shall be on the side of it; and above them shall bear that day ‘Arsh’(the throne of authority). of your Lord, eight of them (69:17)
Nine are the nine signs given to Moses as stated by God:
“And indeed we gave Moses nine clear signs (miracles); so ask the children of Israel when he came to them, Pharaoh said to him; “Verily I deem you O’Moses one bewitched.”
Ten are the ten days, i.e. God had promised Moses that he would stay on the mountain of Toor for thirty days, and later added ten more days to this duration, as it is stated in the Qur’an.
“And we made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and completed it with ten more;” Thus was completed the term of his Lord, forty nights, and (before he went up) Moses said to his brother Aaron: You take my place among my people, act rightly and follow not the path of the mischief-makers.” (7:142).
Eleven are the brothers of Joseph, son of Jacob, as the Qur'an states,
“When said Joseph to his father, O’my father; Verily I did see (dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon,, I saw them all prostrating to me.” (12:4).
Twelve are the Twelve water-springs manifested by the staff of Moses, as God states,
“And (remember) when Moses sought water for his people; said We, ‘Strike the rock with your staff’ Then gushed out therefrom twelve springs; each people knew their drinking place; “Eat and drink God’s provision, and commit not evil in the earth acting mischievously.” (2:60)
When the Jewish scholars heard the replies of ‘Ali (as) they said, “We bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (S) is His Messenger and ‘Ali (as) is the “Wasi” and successor of the Messenger of God as Aaron was the Wasi of Moses. They all embraced Islam, went back to their tribe and converted all of them to Islam.(Kaukabe Durri).
After the death of Osman the 3rd Caliph ‘Ali (as) was elected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as the 4th Caliph. He was reluctant to accept the office of the caliph but when pushed by the majority , accepted it by saying that he was taking the reins of worldly authority only to bring back the Ummah of the Prophet on the Right Path, though the value of this worldly khilafat is less than the sneeze of a goat.
His position as an Imam and guide was already established during the period of three earlier khulafa, with worldly power he began the daunting task of establishing the type of rule the Messenger of God had established during his time.
Imam Bukhari mentioned in his Saheeh that the very first prayers which ‘Ali (as) led in the mosque of the Prophet as the Caliph, many companions of the prophet said that “today we have prayed as the Messenger of God used to pray”.
But during the past 25 years many companions of the Prophet had, due to excessive wealth coming in from the conquest of the foreign lands, changed into the habit of living like feudal lords of the period of Jahiliya of pre-Islamic days. ‘Ali (as) as caliph warned them of the dangers of excessive wealth by these words. " Beware of the intoxication of wealth”.(Masudi,Muruj el Zahab).
The path of ‘Ali (as) was full of thorns and as soon as he tried to establish the austere path of the Messenger of God, he created many enemies. The first and foremost was the Governor of Syria Moawiya ibne Abi Sofian.
He persuaded Talha and Zubair,when they were denied the Governorship of various provinces by ‘Ali (as) , to start a revolt against ‘Ali. (as) Both of them left Madina, arrived in Makka and somehow persuaded bibi Ayesha the widow of the Prophet to start a fight against ‘Ali. (as) They left Makka for Basra and assembled an army against ‘Ali. (as) .
He warned them of the dangers of war against the caliph upon whose hand they had taken the oath of allegiance, but persuasion from Moawiya and promises of Governorship of various provinces was so strong that they would not hear any advice. ‘Ali (as) left Madina in pursuit of these deviants and two Muslim armies faced each other near Basra.
When many companions of the Prophet saw this they questioned the validity of this war and cast doubt as to which party was on the right path. ‘Ali (as) replied in the most subtle way to these doubters. “ Truth cannot be identified from men, find the truth and you will find the deserving person”.
The battle of Jamal was fought, ‘Ali ‘s army was victorious, both Talha and Zubair were killed by their own men and bibi Ayesha was sent back to Madina under the escort of her brother Muhammad ibne Abibakr. She always repented this venture and asked forgiveness from God.
When with the connivance of Moawiya her brother Muhammad ibne abi bakr was killed and his body was put into the body of a dead camel and burnt, she cursed Moawiya five times a day after every prayer, throughout her life..
The Battle of Siffin was also fought due to the deviant action of Moawiya against the Islamic State. Some companions of ‘Ali’s army deserted him by accepting bribes from Moawiya and due to this deceitful action the battle of Siffin remained indecisive, no one won and no one lost.
In the meantime this deviant group which was later named as “Khawarij” meaning deviant, began to spread trouble within the Islamic State by looting and burning villages and killing women and children that ‘Ali (as) fought against them and the battle of Nahrwan took place.
On the way to Nahrwan ‘Ali (as) passed a monastery. An old Christian monk who also claimed to be an astrologer of some repute called out, “ O’ army of Islam, ask your leader to come to me. Upon hearing this ‘Ali (as) turned his horse towards the monastery and approached the monk. Where do you go ask the monk. To fight the enemies of Islam, replied ‘Ali (as) .
Do not fight now, because at this moment the stars do not favor the Muslims. Wait for a few days when the stars will become favorable for you. ‘Ali (as) replied, do you defy Allah for this action we are taking on the orders of Allah and for His Deen.
‘Ali (as) said, “ since you profess knowledge of the stars, tell me about the movement of such and such star.” The old man said, By God, I have never heard the name of this star. ‘Ali (as) asked him another question about the skies and when the old man failed to reply said “It is now known that you do not know about the skies.
Shall I ask you about the earth? Tell me what is buried beneath your feet at the spot where you stand. I do not know said the old monk, “There is a vessel filled with so many silver coins and the coins bear such and such emblem. How do you know enquired the monk”.
“By God’s grace.” said ‘Ali (as) . Then ‘Ali proceeded to say that in the ensuing fight, less than ten persons of Islamic army would be killed whereas less than ten persons from the opposing army would escape. The old monk listened astonished. As per ‘Ali’s command, when the earth beneath the feet of the monk was dug, a vessel filled with silver coins was found exactly as described by ‘Ali (as)
‘Ali (as) proceeded to Nahrwan and in the ensuing fight, the Khawarij were thoroughly defeated. Out of the four thousand men of the Khawarij only nine escaped and only nine men of the Islamic army were killed in this battle. (Rawdhatul Shuhada, Kaukab el Durri )
Returning from the battle ‘Ali (as) passed the monastery and when the monk heard the full story he embraced Islam immediately.
‘Ali (as) also admonished him about his belief in astrology. He said “ do you think you can tell the hour when a man goes out and no evil befall him. Whoever testifies this falsifies the Qur’an and becomes unmindful of Allah in achieving his desired objective and in warding off the undesirable.”
Then ‘Ali (as) addressed to his own soldiers and said “Beware of learning the science of stars except that with which guidance is sought on land or sea, because it leads to divining and an astrologer is a diviner, while a diviner is like the sorcerer, the sorcerer is like the unbeliever and the unbeliever’s place is in hell.”(Nahjul Balagha)
The four years and ten months of the Khilafat of ‘Ali (as) has been regarded by many historians as the best example of Islamic State after the Prophet of Islam’s death, in spite of the fact that the family of Abu Sofian tried their best to destroy it.
Imam Abu Yousuf the famous disciple of Imam Abu Hanifa in his book about the history of Kholafae Rashedun declares above the title of his book that ‘Ali’s (as) time of Khilafat was the best in the management of the Islamic State and most just.
Many European historians mentioned ‘Ali’s name with love and affection. Carlyle writes in his Heros and Heroworship that” ‘Ali had such a personality that he was liked, loved and venerated by everybody. He was the man of excellent character loving and lovable, so intensely brave that if anything stood against his bravery it was consumed as if by fire, yet he was so gentle and kind that he represented the model of a Christian Knight.”
The famous Egyptian scholar Mohammad Abdoh relates a story about the time of the conquest of Alexandria during the reign of the 2nd caliph. They found a great library there and did not know what to do with it.
Orders were issued from Madina that ‘if these books are according to the Holy Qur'an, then we do not need them and if they say anything contrary to the Holy Qur'an then we do not want them. Therefore, in any case they ought to be burnt. (Akhbarul Ulama wa Aakhbarul Hukama of Ibne Quftee, pages 232 and 233,Printed Cairo).
When ‘Ali (as) heard the news of this, he tried to pursuade them to refrain from issuing such order. He told them, “These books are treasures of knowledge and they cannot say anything against the Holy Qur'an.
On the contrary the knowledge contained therein would act as commentaries of the Holy Book and would assist and help in further explanations of the knowledge as presented by the Holy Prophet. Knowledge is an asset for human beings and a birth right of man. It should not be destroyed.”
It was 19th of Ramadan 41 Hijri while ‘Ali (as) was leading the morning prayers and was in the second Sajdah of the 2nd Rakaat that Ibne Muljim’s sword fell and the life of the greatest warrior saint was taken away to his merciful Lord.
The famous christian writer of Lebanon George Jurdaq writes in his books on ‘Ali (as) that with this one blow of the sword of Ibne Muljim the world was deprived of the person who, if had lived a few more years would have given the world a system of administration that future generations would have benefited for a long time to come.”
In fact the letter to his Governor of Egypt Malike Ashter advising him of the “Do’s and Don’ts for a successful administration of the State is the hall mark in the annals of history”. We can only say that ‘Ali’s supreme wisdom provides the guidance of a stature that mankind can aspire to.
‘Ali (as) injured with the wound from the poisonous sword lived for two days. In these two days he dictated his Will and last testament to his son Hasan (as) which is again a brilliant part of literary history.
He advised his eldest son to love God and obey Him and to live for the service of the people in the way of God. “And then do not forget to set apart the best of your time for communion with God, although every moment of yours is for Him, provided it is spent sincerely in the service of your people.”
‘Ali's (as) sermons, collected by Sayyid Razi in the 4th century (AH) are the examples of the most brilliant piece of Arabic literature that after the Holy Qur’an and the authentic Hadith of the Prophet of Islam, ever produced.
What Sayyid Razi could compile in Nahjul Balagha does not contain all the Sermons, letters and sayings of ‘Ali (as) . Masoodi (d.346) in his famous book of history Muruj-al-Zahab says that the only Sermons of ‘Ali, (as) which have been preserved by various people, number more than 480.
These were extempore orations, people have copied them from one another and compiled them in the book forms’ they have cited them and quoted passages from them in their books. The famous companion and pupil of ‘Ali (as) Hasan al Basri had made such arrangements that one of his own friends would memorize the sermons delivered in the mosque of Kufa and relate the same in the next Friday prayer in Basra. This shows the deep interest people of his own time had in these sermons and sayings.
Apparently out of these 480 sermons some were lost and Sayyid Razi could lay hands on only 245 sermons. Besides them he has collected about 75 letters and 489 sayings. Almost every one of the sermons, sayings and letters collected in Nahjul Balagha is to be found books of authors who died long before Sayyid Raza was even born.
Here we quote a few selected sayings of ‘Ali (as) from Nahjul Balagha, The numbers given as they appear in the English translation by Sayyid ‘Ali Raza from Pakistan.
1. During civil disturbance be like an adolescent camel that has neither a back strong enough for riding nor udders for milking.”( 1, page 568)
2. He who adopts greed as a habit devalues himself, he who discloses his hardship agrees to humiliation, and he who allows his tongue to overpower his Nafs debases the Nafs.(2 page 569)
5. Knowledge is a venerable estate, good manners are new dresses and thinking is a clear mirror. ( 5, page 569)
7. Charity is an effective cure, and actions of people in their present life will be before their eyes in the next life.( 7, page 570)
10.Meet people in such a manner that if you die they should weep for you and if you live they should long for you.( 10, page 571)
27." Keep walking in your sickness as long as you can."(27, page 576)-A simple cure through exercise and ignoring the sickness as much as possible)
31. Faith stands on four supports: on endurance, conviction, justice and Jihad.(31 page 576)
40. The tongue of the wiseman is behind his heart and the heart of the fool is behind his tongue.(40 page 579)
45. Even if I strike the nose of a believer with this sword for hating me, he will not hate me, and even if I pile all the wealth of the world before a hypocrite for loving me he will not love. This is because it is pronounced by the tongue of the beloved Prophet. O’’Ali, a believer will never hate you and a hypocrite (Muslim) will never love you.( 45 page 580)
54. There is no wealth like wisdom, no destitution like ignorance, no inheritance like refinement and no support like consultation.(54 page 584)
64. The people of the world are like travelers who are being carried while asleep. 64, page 584)
67. Do not feel ashamed for giving little, because refusal is smaller than that.( 67, page 584)
90. The perfect jurist of Islam is he who does not let people lose hope from the mercy of Allah, does not make him despondent of Allah’s kindness and does not make him feel safe from Allah’s punishment.( 90 page 589)
117. Two categories of persons will face ruin on account of me; he who loves me with exaggeration and he who hates me intensely. (117 page 594)
146. Protect your belief by charity, guard your wealth by paying Allah’s share, and ward off the waves of calamity by praying.(146 page 600)
334. Beware of disobeying Allah in solitude, for the witness is also the judge.(334. page 648)
The famous French historian and Orientalist Gabriel Enkiri writes in his famous book ‘Le chevalier de Islam’, In the extremely superfine, grand and noble character of ‘Ali, there were two traits which, it is difficult to believe that can be united in one man.
Besides ‘Ali, history cannot show any other man who has displayed these two qualities at one and the same time, and each one, in such a marked way that none can surpass him.
1. He was the greatest marshal of his time (even of all time) and , 2. He was the wisest man who could explain and expound religion, philosophy, science, sociology and ethics, in a style which was not and which cannot be improved; what is more, he was such a great speaker that his speeches enchant you even fourteen centuries after his death”.
Read the book called Nahjul Balagha and find out yourself.
Born in Madina 15th Ramadan 3rd year of Hijri. Elder son of ‘Ali and Fatima, grandson of the Prophet of Islam. When he was born and the news of the birth of a grandson was conveyed to the Holy Prophet he came to the house of Fatima, took hold of the baby in his arms, said Azan and Iqamah in his ears and said, this is a beautiful child, I name him Hasan.
He will keep Islam and Muslims safe from the hands of its destroyers. Historians note that this child looked like his grandfather the Holy Prophet in looks and in manners.
Under the blessed shadow of the Holy Prophet Hasan was receiving his training from the most blessed parents on earth. Coming to the mosque of the Prophet, listening to the Sermons of his grandfather and seeing Islam prosper was the lesson one can never forget.
Whenever he came to the mosque, the Holy Prophet would pick him up, would let him sit beside him and let the attentive companions see and behold who this boy was. They all loved his presence in the mosque and cared for him.
Time soon passed and Hasan (as) was hardly 8 years old when his grandfather died and soon after his mother also died. The next 25 years of his life in Madina was with his father ‘Ali (as) and with his younger brother Husayn (as).
This was the period in which conquests of many lands took place and the city of Madina and its people prospered. His father or any member of the family of the Prophet did not take any hand in these conquests. They remained aloof but not from the growing Muslim society. Their main aim was to teach and prepare this fledgling into a mature Muslim society for harder times ahead.
Wealth was pouring in from the conquests of Egypt and Persia and many companions of the Prophet did not know what to do with it or how to spend it properly. Many companions built large houses for themselves with stables and servants. What ‘Ali (as) and his family did was to form a Trust and whatever share of prosperity came to them they put all into this Trust.
It is through this Trust those who did not have much to gain from this prosperity were given to have a decent life. Both children of ‘Ali (as) were the Trustees of this holy trust and with the help of many senior companions of the Holy Prophet the workings of this trust prospered and many new converts were helped to settle themselves in this new society.
Every evening food was served to many of those who were not in a position to provide for themselves. While the family of ‘Ali (as) lived in small house and without any pomp or luxury for themselves. This was the example they were setting for all to see and follow that even when you have become rich you share your bounties with other Muslim brothers and sisters to make the society equally prosperous and happy.
In these 25 years Hasan (as) has seen the Islamic State grow into a much larger and more powerful Muslim nation. After the death of the 3rd Caliph Osman his father ‘Ali (as) was elected caliph by a popular vote of the companions of the Holy Prophet. But soon there emerged those who wanted a lot of favor from ‘Ali (as) and when they did not get it they stood against him.
The battle of Jamal was fought and won by ‘Ali (as) and the capital of the Muslim state was removed from Madinah to Kufa. Kufa was established during the reign of the 2nd caliph as a garrison town and was much more central to the vastly growing Muslim Empire than Madinah. This was a very prudent move to give a better control over all corners of this growing Muslim state which stretched from North Africa in the West, to Persia and Azerbaijan in the East.
‘Ali (as) has appointed his own trustworthy Governors of the provinces but none of them from his own family. All his children stayed with him at the center or in Madinah to control the Trust he had formed earlier or to join in the battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrwan fought during the life of the Khilafat of ‘Ali (as) Hasan (as) took part with his father in all these battles and shown the customary Hashemite bravery and skill in defeating the enemy.
In these battles the real adversary of ‘Ali (as) and his family was Moawiya ibne Abu Sofian who challenged ‘Ali’s authority and fought with him to remain the governor and later the ruler of the province of Syria.
His atrocities against the rule of ‘Ali (as) continued even after the near defeat at Siffin. After the martyrdom of ‘Ali (as) in the mosque of Kufa in 41 Hijri and the election of Hasan (as) as the next caliph was a thorn in the heart of Moawiya.
His propaganda machine against the House of ‘Ali (as) , in fact against Islam, began its work in earnest. Large sums of money and fraudulent promises of vast properties and governorships of provinces were given to many commanders of Hasan’s (as) army who deserted and left Hasan (as) without much power.
One salient feature one must remember when reading about the lives of these Ma’sumeen that they never waged war for acquisition of worldly power. It was therefore the hallmark of Imam Hasan ‘s (as) life that making peace was his share in the same manner as the Prophet of Islam did in Hodaibiya. Some unfortunate companions of the Prophet doubted even him of his wisdom to make peace to which the Prophet replied," he was the messenger of God and his instructions always come from God."
When people in Madinah disagreed with Imam Hasan’s attitude and questioned his wisdom he replied that his actions were similar to that of Prophet Khidhr who acted to save on three occasions the lives and property of Orphans and many believers of God. Even Prophet Musa was unable to comprehend the wisdom of those actions until this was explained to him.
As the tradition tells us that" in the blood of martyrs lays the ink of history "and often bedazzled by the heroic splendor of their sacrifices, we forget the many occasions when the greater Jihad has lain along the path of peace than war.
His confrontation with Moawiya demanded a treaty rather than blood and Imam’s victory lay in that treaty and in the preservation of those faithful Muslims whose premature death in battle at that time would have extinguished the light of Islam original.
It was the life of Imam Hasan (as) that paved the way for his younger brother’s glorious stand. They were two sides of the same coin, one on living the Jihad of peace and the other the Jihad of martyrdom.
Both acted out their paths fully, bearing the banner of their blessed grandfather, in uncompromising defense of Right and in denial of evil. They joyfully praised their creator in happiness and in adversity, submitting to His Divine laws and leaving for us an example of correct behavior both in peace and in war.
Here were two brothers who from their cradle breathed the air of pure spirit of Islam, nurtured by the love of the Prophet in whose close company they spent their early years. It was the Holy Prophet who said that both “Hasan and Husayn are the chiefs of the youth of paradise”.
Several traditions from his mother and from Umme Salemah, the wife of the Prophet, clearly indicate that Imam Hasan (as) was one of those five who were included in the Verse of purification (33-33)” Certainly Allah wants to keep away all abomination from you, members of the house, to keep you pure and spotless.”
The Prophet then covered them with a garment and said,” these are the members of my house. Allah, keep away abomination from them and keep them pure and spotless.” It was also during the occasion of Mubahela that the Prophet took these five with him to show the world who were the members of his household (Ahlul Bayt).
It is reported on the authority of Anas bin Malik that no one was more like the Prophet of God than Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali. (as)
The Treaty agreed upon between Moawiya and Imam Hasan (as) tells us the following salient points:
1. That Moawiya should rule strictly according to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunna of the Prophet.
2. That Moawiya should not appoint or nominate anyone to the Khilafat after him but that the choice should be left to the Muslims.
3. That the people should be left in peace, wherever they are in the land of God.
4. That the persecution of the companions of Imam ‘Ali (as) should immediately be stopped; their lives and properties and families guaranteed safe conduct and peace.
5. That the cursing of Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpit should stop immediately.
6. That no harm should be done secretly or openly against Imam Hasan and his brother Imam Husayn or any of the Ahlul Bayt. (as)
This agreement concluded, Imam Hasan (as) went to Kufa, shortly followed by Moawiya who came there to take the allegiance of the people. In a speech delivered in front of Moawaiya, Imam Hasan (as) explained the situation clearly:
“O’People, Allah has guided you through our elders (Muhammad and ‘Ali) and spared you from bloodshed through those who followed (referring to himself). Indeed this (the Khilafat) is nothing but a passing phase, these worldly possessions keep shifting and changing hands."
For inasmuch as Moawiya desired the sovereignty in this world, so Imam Hasan’s concern was not with worldly leadership for its own sake, but as a tool whereby he might guide the people towards God and His true commandments.
After his abdication he retired to Madinah where he spent the remaining ten years of his life teaching the Qur’an and knowledge of true Deen to all seekers of truth that came to him. Imam Hasan (as) had never relinquished the position of an Imam and guide as appointed by God.
History tells us that from day one Moawiya did not comply with any one of the terms of the treaty agreed upon between him and Imam Hasan (as) He trampled the treaty under his feet saying to the people of Kufa,”do you think I have taken power to teach you about Islam.
No, I have taken power for the sake of it and if any one of you tries to disagree with me shall pay a costly price of losing his head.(Tarikul Kholafa, Jalaluddin Soyuti)
Moawiya carried out his ambition of keeping the power in his family by nominating his son Yazid after him as the ruler of the Kingdom. This demanded that Imam Hasan (as) should predecease him, an unlikely event considering their discrepancy in their ages.
Hence Moawiya bribed Ju’da bint Ash’ath, to poison him in 50 Hijri. Imam died with the effect of poisoning on 28th of the month of Safar. He was 47 years old.
In his last will and testament Imam asked his brother Imam Husayn (as) to take his body to the grave of their grand father the Prophet of Islam and then bury him by the side of the grave of his mother Fatima (sa) in Jannatul Baqii, for he knew that people who are against the family of the Prophet would not let him bury by the side of his grandfather.
Imam knew of the animosity of the Banu Umayya with the Prophet and his family. He did not desire to have any dispute or fight over his burial. But unfortunately when the body of the Imam was taken towards the grave of the Holy Prophet in the mosque, the same enemy about whom Imam had warned, came out and prevented the mourners to reach the grave of the Prophet.
When Imam Husayn (as) realized that if he insists on taking the body of his brother nearer the grave of the Prophet there will be bloodshed, he refrained from it and took him away and buried him in Jannatul Baqii next to the grave of his mother.
Imam Hasan’s (as) 3 sons, Qasim, Abdullah and Hasan-e-Muthanna, were in Karbala’ and took part in the Jihad with their uncle Imam Husayn (as). Qasim and Abdullah died of their wounds but Hasan-e-Muthanna survived. He was among the wounded and was taken out alive by the Banu Asad Tribesmen. They treated his wounds and once he was better he returned back to Madinah.
It appears that he stayed with the Banu Asad for over a year and when the family of the Prophet were released from captivity and returned to Karbala’ he joined the caravan and returned with them to Madinah after the Arabeen in the year 62 Hijri. He was about 17 years old at that time. Later, he married Imam Husayn ‘s (as) daughter Fatima Sughra. It is from this marriage that the descendants oImam Hasan (as) take their line in the family tree.
Hasan-e-Muthanna’s son Abdullah had four sons, Muhammad Nafse Zakiyya, Ibrahim ,Sulaiman and Idris. Nafse Zakiyya rose against Mansur the 2nd Abbasid Caliph and received martyrdom, in the year 142 Hijri, 762 AD. Ibrahim fought Mansur in Baghdad and was martyred. This was in 143 Hijri 763 AD(See Hitti,History of the Arabs) Two other great grandsons of Imam Hasan, Sulaiman and Idris migrated to Iran and Tunisia respectively.
Descendents of Imam Hasan from Idris flourished in North Africa and brought Islam in the Maghrib. From Sulaiman, who settled in Kirman, many of his descendents spread Islam in Persia and some of them later migrated to India. The writer of this book is also one of the descendents of Imam Hasan (as) from the line through Sulaiman.
Imam Hasan’s (as) life was one of hardship and trial. like the lives of his grandfather tProphet of Islam, his father ‘Ali (as) , his mother Fatima (sa) and many members of the Ahlul Bayt after him. Life is a test as Qur’an tells us. For some,the difficulties of life make him arrogant or agnostic but not the people of the household of the Prophet.
They endured all sorts of hardships with thanks to God all the time. He saw his mother brutally injured and died at an early age. He saw his father martyred in the mosque of Kufa. He saw the people who had been given the clear signs from his grandfather, abandon the” Deen” for wealth and power. He saw his own supporters turn against him.
Yet his dying request to his brother was not to have any quarrel over his burial. His life is a sign and a reminder that for the people of the Household of the Prophet there will be adversity but they take all in complete submission to God and His commandments.
A famous saying of Imam Hasan is “In regard to the world be as if you were going to live forever. With respect to the Hereafter, be as if you were going to die tomorrow.”
This is an invitation to action, care and attention and avoidance of negligence and indifference, whether it is in respect of the work of this world or the Hereafter. This further confirms the saying of the Holy Prophet who said, “The Momin is a person who attends the affairs of this world as well as of the Hereafter in the most perfect way,”
Second son of Fatima (sa) and ‘Ali (as) Husayn (as) was born on 3rd Shabaan, 4th year of Hijri (10.1.626 AD) When he was born the Holy Prophet was given the news of the birth of his 2nd grandson. He arrived at the house of his daughter, took the little baby in his arms, said the Azan and Iqamah in his ears.
People around the Prophet saw tears in his eyes. Fatimah asked what was the reason for this, he told her that this boy of hers will achieve martyrdom, but consoled her by adding that God will create a nation who will mourn Husayn till the Day of Judgement. Another famous saying of the Prophet at the same time became synonymous with the name of his grandson Husayn.
“Hussian-o-Minni wa Ana Minul Husayn”. Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn. One can explain this Hadith that Husayn, being the grand son of the Prophet was from him biologically. How a grandfather was from his grand son needs to be explained. Prophets of God speak spiritually rather than materially.
He was talking about Islam the Deen he was assigned by God to propagate God's religion.. He was for Islam and his whole life was for Islam and its establishment on earth. Any break in this mission would subvert this mission which was the purpose of his creation.
The message of the Holy Prophet in this saying was that Husayn will, in some near future save this mission from destruction, hence the very purpose of his being will be saved by the sacrifice of his grandson. He was giving the news of a future occurrence. The story of Karbala’ unfolds.
Shah Usto Husayno Badshah Usto Husayn
Deen Uato Husayno Deen Panah Usto Husayn
Surdad, Nadad Dust Dur Dueste Yazid
Haqqa Ke Benate La Ilah Husto Husayn
Husayn is the king , indeed he is the king of kings,
Husayn is Deen and also the protector of Deen,
He gave his head but not his hand of allegiance in the hand of Yazid.
Indeed he was the founder (Like his grandfather) of the concept of One God.
This quartet of Shah Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri is the exact meaning of the Hadith of “Husayno Minni” as mentioned above.Imam Husayn (as) has saved Islam from oblivion by offering his timely sacrifice to draw the line of demarcation between Truth and Falsehood, between good and evil, between Right and Wrong, that after this event in Karbala’ in 61 Hijri, no one inside or outside Islam dare to challenge the truth of the Holy Qur'an or try to subvert its meanings.
The story of Karbala’ begins with the birth of Husayn. The Holy Prophet had shown affection and love for his grandson as any grandfather should show,but there was something more positive and profound in this love.
Several times when Husayn entered the mosque as a small child the Holy Prophet will put him in his lap and tell his companions that this is Husayn, look at him and remember him. The Prophet’s insistence to remember Husayn shows that those who will forget this event will cause trouble in Islam.
It was just seven years of his life with his grandfather that the Holy Prophet died and soon after,Husayn’s mother Hazrat Fatima (sa) also died.. The next 25 years of his life in Madinah was with his father ‘Ali,his brother Hasan and many other brothers and sisters in the family. He grew up to be loved by the companions of the Holy Prophet.
During the period of 2nd Khilafat-e-Rasheda, Omar Ibne Khattab had always shown his love and respect for Husayn. Whenever Husayn entered the mosque, the Caliph would let him sit beside him and tell the companions to listen to what this young man says. They all valued his advice even at that young age.
His main activity in Madinah was to see that the people there know true Islam. He also managed the Trust set up by his father, to help the poor of the city by giving them food and many necessities of life. This was the true Islamic Welfare State in progress where every hungry mouth must have food, every naked person must have clothes and a shelter over his head.
Apart from administering the Trust set up by his father ‘Ali (as) , Husayn's (as) main occupation during these 25 years in Madina was to teach the newly converted Muslims real Islam through the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet.
He has performed Hajj 24 times during this period. He has also travelled to Yemen and most of the southern part of Hejaz and Najd. It is clear that he did not take any part in any of the expeditions by the Muslim forces under the directions of the three Kholafa.
After the death of the 3rd Caliph Osman, Husain’s father ‘Ali (as) was compelled by the people of Madinah overwhelmingly to take the reigns of power. ‘Ali (as) was reluctant and waited for three days before accepting the mantle of worldly power along with the authority of Imamah. (see life of Imam ‘Ali ) (as) .
Circumstances changed rapidly and within the first 6 month of ‘Ali’s Khilafat he had to leave Madinah for Basra and the battle of Jamal took place. We see that Husayn (as) who took no part in any battles before was a commander of ‘Ali’s forces in this first battle under his father’s leadership. Fighting began and ended in just one day, the battle was over, ‘Ali (as) performed funeral prayers on dead of both sides and buried them. Victors and vanquished were treated the same way.
Hazrat Ayesha was returned to Madina under the escort of her brother Muhammad Ibne Abibakr and 40 other men. She repented her participation in the battle all her life and never forgave Talha and Zubair who deceived her into this battle against ‘Ali (as).
She also realized that the true instigator of this battle was Muawiya under whose directions both Talha and Zubair started this whole adventure against the legitimately elected Caliph of Islam.
It was to destabilize the power base of Islam which was the Khilafat of ‘Ali (as) . When he did not succeed in this he began other tactics to do thsame. His bands of soldiers raided many parts of Iraq to burn and loot villages and destroy communities. ‘Ali (as) had no choice but to prepare for battle with Muawiya.
The battle of Siffin took place in the 2nd year of ‘Ali’ (as) Khilafat and Husayn (as) took full part. He was the commander of a garrison of 10,000 men along with his elder brother Hasan (as) and Muhammad (Hanafiya). It was ‘Ali’s practice to put his other son Muhammad-e-Hanafiya in the forefront and save the lives of these two grandsons of the Prophet. Nevertheless they took full part in these battles and fought with great bravery.
The 3rd battle during the Khilafat of ‘Ali (as) was the battle of Nehrwan fought against the Khawarij. This was also over in just one day with total defeat of Khawarij. ‘Ali (as) returned to Kufa and the main administration of the Islamic Welfare State began. Both brothers were the chief administrators of this Welfare State where they would seek out those poor adestitute within the state and provide them with the necessities of life.
While living with his father in Kufa, Husayn (as) visited various northern part of the Islamic State. One story goes to say that he visited Azerbaijan and part of Iran of that time.
Four years and 10 months of his father’s Khilafat were over quickly and his life with his elder brother Hasan (as) began in Madina. They still have the Trust state which was established by his father and both brothers administered it jointly.
Husayn (as) visited Makka and performed Hajj 9 times during the life time of his brother. After the martyrdom his brother Hasan (as) Husayn (as) took the mantle of Imamate and spiritual guidance of the Ummah. It is during this period that during one of his journeys to Makka for pilgrimage, his famous Duas (Supplication) of Arafah became famous.
This is a Dua which at the place of Arafat during the Hajj ritual that Imam recited and many pilgrims heard it and instantly memorised it as was the practice of the people of that time. Qur'an was also memorised in the same manner and many Sermons of Imam ‘Ali (as) were also memorised by people.
This Dua of Arafa became famous because of its deep insight into the realms of spirituality of Islam and its total dependence upon Allah’s Will and Power. This also gives insight into the reasons why Imam Husayn (as) left Makka for Karbala’. The following extract shows this feeling of the Imam towards reform of the Umma of his grandfather,
“O’God: you know that our struggle, moves, protests, and campaigns have not been, and are not, for the sake of rivalry and for obtaining power, neither are they for the sake of personal ambition nor for worldly ends, nor for the purpose of accumulating wealth and acquiring worldly advantages. “ Then what is their purpose? Imam states the purpose in these words.
“To establish the landmarks of Your Deen, to make reforms manifest in Your lands, so that the oppressed among Your servants may have security, and Your laws, which have been suspended and cast into neglect, may be reinstated.”
Further on in this same Dua the Imam calls upon his creator to show his total dependence upon Him.
O’He, upon whom I called when I was sick and He healed me, when naked, He clothed me, when hungry He fed me, when thirsty He gave me drink, when abased He exalted me, when ignorant, He gave me knowledge, when alone He provided companion, when away from home He returned me home, when empty handed He enriched me, when in need of help He helped me, when rich He took not from me”.
This kind of complete dependence upon God which is the Hallmark of Islamic teachings, was taught by the Imam to the people of Madinah and Makka, and the whole of Hejaz he visited..
Once a Bedouin asked Imam what is the best thing to do. Imam replied,” Belief in God”. He asked again, what is the best means of deliverance from destruction, Imam said, “Trust in God”. The man asked, what man’s ornament is, Imam replied,” knowledge associated with intelligence”.
The man insisted, if this be not available, what then, Imam replied,” Wealth accompanied with generosity”. What if this is out of reach, Imam said, “Poverty allied with patience”. What if this be not practicable?, Imam smiled and said, let the lightening consume the man to ashes. He then gave whatever money he had with him to fulfill his needs.
It was in the month of Rajab 60 Hijri that Moawiya died and his son Yazid succeeded his father on the throne of the Arab Empire with Damascus as its capital. Moawiya in his cleverness had told Yazid that” whatever you do when you become ruler after my death, do not ask Husayn Ibne ‘Ali for the oath of allegiance. Leave him where he is and you will have no problems.”
But Yazid in his arrogance of power did not bother to remember the wishes of his father. The very first thing he did was to write a letter to his Governor in Madinah informing him of his succession to the throne of his father and ordering him to take the Oath of Allegiance from Husayn Ibne ‘Ali (as).
Yazid realized that although he had full temporal power and is the virtual ruler of the Arab Empire, but he has no spiritual strength unless the grandson of the Prophet accepts him as such. People in Makka and Madinah would still regard Husayn (as) as their leader if only spiritually. Walid Ibne Ataba the Governor of Madinah receives this letter on 26th of Rajab 60 Hijri.
It was dusk and people were getting ready for Maghrib prayers. Walid immediately sent a messenger to Imam’s house and called him to the palace. Imam realized the seriousness of the situation and took his brothers and sons with him.
When they arrived at the gate of the palace Imam asked to stay outside and wait and only enter the gates when they hear Imam speak loudly. After these instructions Imam entered the palace. There was Walid sitting in his high chair with Marwan Ibnul Hakam by his side. Imam asked, “What is the matter that I was called at this hour”.
Walid mentioned Moawiya’s death, Yazid’s accession to the throne and the demand for Imam’s oath of allegiance. Imam replied that this is not the matter which can be done in the solitude of the palace, let this matter be brought before the people of Madinah next day in the mosque of the Prophet.
Imam stood up to leave while Marwan who was listening to this conversation did not like it and warned Walid that if he lets Husayn go he will loose him. Take the oath now or cut his head off as Yazid suggested in his letter. Imam after hearing this remark from Marwan told Walid loudly, ”A person like me would not give the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid who had violated all tenets of Islam”. As Imam said these words loudly, his brothers and sons entered the palace and they all left safely.
Imam realized after consulting his friends and relatives that the life of peace for them in Madinah was over.
A question is asked sometimes, that why Imam Husayn (as) had not chosen to come to terms with Yazid as his elder brother, Imam Hasan (as) had done earlier while dealing with Moawiya. The question does not take into account the difference in the situations of the two brothers. ‘Ali (as) as the Imam left his elder son the mantle of Imamate which he at the time of his death passed it on to his brother Imam Husayn (as).
Imam Hasan (as) had also been installed as the Caliph. Finding that Moawiya had succeeded in,secrertly, sowing the seeds of discord and dissent among the Muslims, and had induced the feeling of great insecurity by undermining the machinery for the maintenance of peace, law and order, Imam Hasan (as) had deemed it expedient to enter into a treaty with him under which the Imam abdicated in favor of his adversary only the adjuncts of worldly power.
He did not dissociate himself from the spiritual primacy at all and continued to be the spiritual leader and the Imam of the Ummah.
Second point which is equally important is that when Yazid enforced his oath of allegiance over the Muslims, he insisted the people must swear allegiance to him which was totally different from the oath of allegiance of Kholafae Rashidoon. Previously they swore the oath of allegiance that the Khalifa should rule according to the verdict the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet.
But Yazid’s impertinence and arrogance made it an abject acknowledgement by the swearer that he was the slave (ABD) of Yazid who would dispose off his life, property and offspring in any manner deemed fit. One of the companions of the Prophet in Madinah named Ibn Rabia Al Aswad was prepared to swear allegiance to Yazid in accordance with the old practice but refused to swear allegiance in the form proposed. He was summarily executed. This happened inside the city of Madinah.
Where then was there any point in Imam Husayn (as) trying to make up to Yazid. This is where Imam Husayn (as) found himself placed in circumstances which were markedly different from those which confronted his elder brother who had abdicated only his temporal power in favor of Moawiya for the restoration of peace and order on the domain of Islam.
This kind of oath was entirely out of question for Imam Husayn (as) to accept. This would have totally degraded Islam as ordained in the Qur’an and as it was practiced by the Prophet of Islam. When settlement with Yazid being wholly out of question, the only alternative course open to Imam Husayn (as) was to oppose Yazid to save and protect the values of Islam from further degradation and to protect the faith itself from destructive inroads of pre-Islamic revivalism.
He could, however, have entertained no illusions about the kind of support he could hope to enlist for himself in any conflict with Yazid. The exceedingly unhappy position in which his elder brother had found himself through the treacherous withdrawal of the support given to him in his confrontation with Moawiya, Imam Husayn (as) therefore thought of entirely new strategy of war with Yazid, for in any case war it had to be.
He made no attempt to meet Yazid’s military might with his own martial strength. He built no hopes on numerical strength for the success of his cause which was entirely the cause of Islam and saving Islamic values. Imam decided to battle with Yazid on the spiritual plane, to oppose Yazid’s might with his nobility of character, confront power with powerlessness, meet multitudes with want of material support and defy oppression with suffering and martyrdom.
The proof of this line of thought became so clear in Imam Husayn’s sermons and letters to his brother Muhammad-e-Hanafiya when the Imam was leaving Makka for Iraq.
Imam, after leaving Madinah in the month of Rajab, stayed in Makka for about 5 months. It was in the month of Zilhijja 60 Hijri when he noticed that there were Yazid’s soldiers in Makka in the garb of Ahram to kill the Imam inside the Masjidul Haram. Imam changed the rituals of Hajj into Umra and decided to leave Makka. The date was 8th of Zilhijja 60 Hijri.
When people saw the Imam leaving before completing the Hajj they began to ask questions as to why he was leaving in such a hurry. Some doubted his motives, saying that he might be leaving Makka for Iraq to confront Yazid and take power into his hands. To quell these doubts he left a letter with his brother Muhammad-e-Hanafiya which clearly states his purpose of leaving Makka.
He wrote in the letter, “I have not come out to stir emotions, to play with discontentment, to provoke dissension or to spread oppression. I wish to bring the Umma back to the path of Amr-bil-Ma’arouf and Nahyi Unil Munker. I wish to bring them back to the path of my grandfather the Messenger of Allah and of my father ‘Ali Ibne Abi Talib”.
The momentous journey of Imam Husayn (as) begins from Makka towards an unknown destination which eventually ended at Karbala’.
The Map on the next page showing the Route of Imam Husayn (as) from Makka to Karbala’ was prepared by the writer of this book in 1984 and was presented at the Imam Husayn Seminar organized by the Muhammadi Trust. This map has been regarded as a pioneering effort and a land mark in Islamic history.
The journey which began from Makka on the 8th of Zilhijja 60 Hijri ended in Karbala’ on 2nd of Muharram 61 Hijiri and took about 22 days in all. Imam stopped at 14 places on his way to Karbala’. He met various people and delivered various sermons. What the Imam talked about to these people he met and said in his sermons at various places reflects the true motives he had in his mind.
The names of these places Imam passed were mentioned in history books but their exact locations were not traceable in modern geographical maps. After searching in the archives of the British Museum Library a map of 9th Century Hijri was found in which all these names were clearly shown.
The reader will see in the following pages the exact map of Hejaz and Iraq of that time and the exact route the Imam and his Caravan took in 60 Hijiri.
Map of Hejaz and Iraq showing the Route of Imam Husayn from Makka to Karbala’.
There were 14 places in all where the Imam was known to have passed during this journey.
The first place was called Saffah. Here the Imam stayed for the night. The next morning when he was preparing to leave for his next Manzil that he met the famous poet Farazdaq who was coming from Iraq and was going to Makka for pilgrimage.
When he learnt that Imam was proceeding for Iraq he tried to persuade him not to go there. Imam asked Farazdaq about the conditions in Kufa and the poet replied,” People’s hearts are with you but their swords are against you.” Imam told him, “Allah does what he wishes, I leave it to Him who proposes the just cause”. Farazdaq left the place for Makka and Imam’s caravan proceeded towards its next Manzil. The 2nd Manzil was Dhatul - Irq.
Here the Imam stayed the night. Here he met Abdullah Ibn Jaafar who was Imam’s cousin and husband of his sister Hazrat Zainab. Abdullah brought his two sons Aun and Muhammad to accompany the Imam. Abdullah also tried to persuade the Imam to postpone his journey and return to Madina.
But Imam replied,” my destiny is in the hands of Allah” These words which mention his destiny were repeated at many places during this journey and clearly indicate that he had a mission in his mind and he was proceeding towards that mission without fail.
The 3rd stage in the Imam’s journey was the small town called Batn-ur-Rumma. From here the Imam sent a letter to one of his friends in Kufa asking about the situation there. Qais Ibn Mushahir took the letter for the Imam. He also met Abdullah Ibn Mutee who was also coming from the troubled land of Iraq.
He also tried to persuade the Imam not to proceed any further. He said that Kufans were not faithful to anyone -” Al Kufi La Yufi “- they could not be trusted. But Imam continued with his fateful journey with the same words that his destiny is in the hands of Allah.
The 4th Stage of Imam’s journey took him to Zurud. This was a small town just over the hills of Hejaz separating from the province of Najd. From here the mountains change into arid desert. At this place Imam met Zohair Ibne Qain. Zohair, until that time, was not the follower of Ahlul-bayt.
He was undecided and considered himself as a person in middle not able to decide which side was the right one. Imam saw Zohair’s tent pitched in the distant and sent his emissary with a note. Zohair read the note, realized for the first time in his life that time for decision to choose the right path has arrived. Something happened to him inside that has changed his entire life.
What was written in the note is not clear, but Zohair told his friends to take his wife and children back to his tribal lands, and he himself set out to join the Imam and his caravan.
Here it is important to mention that when the Imam was leaving Makka he was trying to persuade the hordes of people who wanted to come out with him, to go back to their homes.. Imam was telling them that there is no reward of worldly goods at the end of the journey. But at the same time he wrote letters to some people inviting them to accompany him to the end of his journey.
One of them was Zohair as mentioned above. Imam wrote another letter to his childhood friend Habib Ibn Mazahir al -Asadi in Kufa inviting to join him in his journey of destiny. Habib was an old companion of the Prophet, was much o then the Imam. Some historians mention Habib’s age at 82.
Another important point worth mentioning here is that these additional people invited by the Imam were each from different tribes of Arabia. Out of total number of 72 male warriors with the Imam, 18 were from his own family, all descendants of Abu Talib. But the rest of the martyrs were from all places and all creeds, almost from all Islamic lands of that time.
There were men from Sham (Syria), from Jaba el Amul (Lebanon), from Armenia, from Azerbaijan, from Yemen, Abyssinia and Egypt. It appears that Imam was taking special care that whoever is martyred with him on the Day of Ashura comes from different tribes and different lands, different culture and creed so that the message reaches all corners of the Islamic lands through their relatives and friends.
The 5th stage of Imam’s journey was a small town called Zabala. Here the Imam learnt from two tribesmen coming from Kufa, about the death of Hazrat Muslim Ibn Aqeel. Imam uttered the words,”InnLillahe wa Inna Ilaihe Rajeoon”, loudly that all around him hear these words and know that something momentous has happened.
When all his companions gathered around him he said,”Indallah Nahtasib Unfosana”, which means that before God we all are accountable to our actions and deeds”. Asadi Tribesmen tried to dissuade the Imam from proceeding any further, but to no avail. He told his companions of the death of his cousin Hazrat Muslim.
In a very touching way he told Hazrat Muslim’s 4 year daughter of the death of his father. He called her, put her on his lap and gave her a pair of ear rings to put on. She asked why? then she replied herself, it looks like that her father has died and that she is an orphan now. Imam hugged her, consoled her and told her that he will look after her in place of her father.
There was a commotion inside the ladies camp as they all realized that Kufa cannot be their destiny any longer. They also learnt that with Hazrat Muslim, his two small children and his friend Hani were also killed along with many friends of Ahlul Bayt.
Hoards of tribesmen who were still with the Imam's party left him as they all realized for sure that there was not going to be a war for victory over Yazid but the purpose was something else. By this 5th stage only about 50 people were left with the Imam and many of them were women and children.
Imam left Zabala and arrived at Batn-e-Aqiq at his 6th Manzil. Here the Imam met a man from the Tribe of Akrama who told him that Kufa was not a friendly town, that Yazid’s army has surrounded this garrison town, no one was allowed to leave or enter the town. But Imam carried on toward his destiny.
The 7th Manzil was Sorat. Imam stayed the night here and in the morning after Fajr prayer he asked his companions to store as much as water as possible in all possible containers and sheep skins they had. The Wells were underground, and the Imam’s companions filled all possible containers, jars, sheepskins with water.
The next day they arrived at a place called Sharaf. While the Imam was passing from this valley that one of his companions called out that he could see the approach of any army through the dust storm. Imam asked for a safe place, preferably a hill at their back. A guide took them near a hill where Imam asked everyone to dismount while kept the hill at their back. The name of the place was Zuhasm. It was here that Imam met Hur’s army of 1000 men.
They were coming from Kufa and appeared to be without water for sometime. Imam asked his companions to give them water in spite of the fact that they were hostile to Imam’s party. Everyone drank to their fill, even horses and camels drank. One soldier was so thirsty that he was unable to drink the water himself and the Imam went to him and poured water in his mouth.
Hurr who was the leader of that brigade from Kufa came to the Imam and wanted to get hold of the reins of his horse to which Imam replied not to be impertinent. Hur then refrained from doing that, but told the Imam he will take him to Kufa under escort to which Imam did not agree.
While they were discussing these matters that the time for the Zohr arrived and all of them, friends and enemy alike stood behind the Imam to complete their prayers. After the prayers Imam told Hurr and his soldiers that he had received many letters from Kufa inviting him to go there as an Imam and guide in all matters religious or secular. The actual words of Imam’s Khutba as mentioned by Tabari is as follows.
“ O’people of Kufa, you sent me delegations and wrote me letters that you had no Imam and that I should come to unite you and lead you in the way of God. You replied that we Ahlul Bayt are more qualified to govern your affairs than those who claim things to which they had no rights and act unjustly., But if you have changed your mind, have become ignorant of our Rights and have forgotten your promises, than I shall turn back”.
But the Imam and his companions were denied by Hur’s soldiers to turn back. Imam did not wish to go to Kufa now, and Hur’s army did not want them to return to Madina. So a compromise was reached by both parties to bye- pass Kufa and turn towards north. Imam and his party was leading and the Hur’s army was behind them. In two days journey they arrived at a place called Baiza.
Baiza was the 10th Manzil. At Baiza Imam delivered his most memorable sermon. History recorded this sermon fully. The words of this sermon clearly indicate the very purpose of the Imam for leaving Makka and his reasons of opposing the oath of allegiance to Yazid.He said,
O’People,The Prophet of Islam has said that if a believer sees a tyrannical ruler transgressing against Allah and his Messenger and oppressing people, but does nothing by word or action to change the situation, then it will be just for God to place him where he deservingly belongs.
Do you not see to what low level the affairs have come to.., do you not observe that truth has not adhered and falsehood has no limits. And as for me, I look upon death but a means of attaining martyrdom. I consider life among the transgressors an agony and an affliction”.
This Khutba of the Imam at Baiza is a landmark in history. This was 60 Hijri, about 681 AD. Twelve hundred years later in Gettesburg Abraham Linclon delivered a speech in which he said,
“To suffer in silence while they should protest makes cowards of men”. These words of Lincoln reflect exactly what Imam said some over 1200 years ago that oppressors and transgressors from the true path of justice will emerge all the time.
If there remains no one on earth to object over their transgressions that they will go unchecked. One should always point out to these tyrants of the Right path of justice. This is the lesson we should all learn from Imam Husayn (as).
The next Manzil was Uzaibul Hajanat. Here Imam stayed away from the escorting army of Hur. He met Trimmah bin Adi. After having known about the Kufan abandonment of his envoy Hazrat Muslim, it became clear that Imam had no hope of support or even survival in Kufa.
Nevertheless, he refused an offer of safety extended to him by Trimmah bin Adi. Ibn Adi was the leader of a powerful Tribe of Adi in the area. He pleaded the Imam to accept his offer of 20,000 armed soldiers from his Tribe to help him if he wishes to go to Kufa to fight with the army of Yazid.
Adi even offered the Imam and his small entourage to a hideout in the Tribal hills away from Kufa. But Imam rejected all such offers of safety and indulgence in war.Imam replied to Ibn Adi,”Allah will bless you and your people for your good intentions. I cannot go from my word.Things are destined”.
It is clear from this reply that the Imam was fully aware of the impending dangers he and his family and friends would face if he continues with his journey without any help from outside forces. He had a certain strategy and plan in his mind to bring about a revolution in the conscience of the Muslim Ummah.
He did not mobilise military support which he could easily have mustered in Hedjaz, nor did he try to exploit whatever physical strength was available to him. On the othand he was discouraging any such suggestions of an army to fight physically.
Imam’s twelvth Manzil was Qasre- Bani Maqatil. It was evident here that Kufa was no more his destination. As Hur did not want him to leave for anywhere else, a compromise was reached and they bye passed Kufa and took a new route. Resting in the heat of the afternoon, Imam uttered a sentence which is said in circumstances when someone hears of death.
His elder son ‘Ali Akber came forward and enquired about this sentence. Imam replied that while he was half a sleep he saw in his dream that some one was shouting loudly that this caravan was destined towards death. ‘Ali Akber asked, are we not on the Right Path.
An unusual question so it seems. But when the Imam replied that they were indeed on the Right Path, his son’s reply was again typical of this family of the Prophet. Father, when we are on the Right Path,” we have no worries whether death takes us or we fall upon death”.
The young son of the Imam was satisfied as long as their Paths were Right. Death meant nto them for they were fully aware that death of this kind trans forms into the glory of martyrdom.
Their Thirteenth Manzil was Nainawah. At this place a messenger from Ibn Ziad the Governor of Kufa came to meet the army of Hur and told them not to leave the Imam and his party under any circumstances. The battered Caravan passed through Ghaziriyah and arrived at a place by the river Banks of the Euphretes.
Imam asked the name of this place and he was told the name “KARBALA’”. Imam replied, this is the place of Kerbin-wa-bala, i.e. the place of torture and pain. Let us stop here, Imam ordered to dismount. We have reached our destination. Tents were pitched near the River Bank. The date was 2nd of Muharram 61 Hijiri (3rd October 681 AD).
Hurr’s soldiers surrounded the Imam’s camp. but no one knew what was going to happen until two days later on the 4th of Muharram that another contingent of 4000 men arrived from Kufa. The next day Shimr arrived with another 10,000 men to fight an army of about 40 people, among them were men of over 80 and children of 13 and 11 and even a 6 month old baby, the youngest son of the Imam who was only a month old when Imam left Madina in the Month of Rajab 5 months ago.
Shimr ordered the Imam and his entourage to leave the River Bank and pitch their tents away from it. Imam’s brother Abbas and others refused,but Imam told them to move the tents. The tents were moved about 200 yards away from the River Bank and the river was immediately occupied by the soldiers of Yazid newly arrived from Kufa.
Next day 7th, All water supply was stopped for the Imam’s party and soon the cry of thirst heard from the children in the camp. ~Whatever water they would have stored was finished within a day and by the 8th there was no water left in the camp. In the scorching heat of the desert even a few hours without water was impossible yet for three days these people were without water.
On the afternoon of the 9th, Yazid’s army moved forward in a formation of attack. Imam was informed and he sent Abbas and ‘Ali Akber to enquire about this. The reply was that orders were from Kufa to commence fighting and finish off with the family of the Prophet. Imam asked them to give them a stay of one night for they all wished to spend their last night in meditation and prayers to God.
The night was dark and horrible, flickering lights from the Camp of the Imam was showing few people busy in prayers. The sound of their prayers in unison was coming out of the camp as if Honey bees were busy to build their nest. Whereas on the enemy side music and dancing had gone on all night. Many soldiers from Yazid’s army saw this difference and realized in awe who was on the path of God and who was not.
Some soldiers slipped away from Yazid’s camp towards the Imam’s camp knowing fully well that if fighting started the next morning they would surely perish. About 30 such people moved to Imam’s camp. Imam held a meeting of his battered and thirsty companions and told them that the enemy wanted only his life. They have no animosity with anyone else.
When no one moved Imam asked that the candles should be put off, in case some of them were ashamed to show themselves running away from the Imam. The Imam also said that he was taking away the burden of the Oath of allegiance from them and made them free to go. “Take few of my relations with them” But when the candles were lit again, all were there, no one moved.
One of the older companions named Muslim Ibn Awsajah came forward and declared that they were all one solid rock to fight for the Imam. If they were killed 70 times and then were made alive again they would still prefer to achieve martyrdom with the Imam rather than live with the oppressive rulers like Yazid.
Morning appeared and before Sunrise ‘Ali Akber gave the Azan and all of them completed their morning prayers behind their Imam.
Imam made his brother Abbas as the flag bearer of the tiny army of 70 persons in all when all of a sudden two more soldiers defected from Yazid’s army. One was Hur who was the leader of the contingent who brought the Imam’s party to Karbala’ and also his son. Both of them arrived with their hands tied to apologize to the Imam for what they had done and asked his permission to fight for them and become first martyrs.
Imam did not give orders to commence fighting until arrows came from the enemy camp. Then Hur went out to fight. Overwhelmed by the numbers on the other side, he soon died. His son went and he also died.
Then one by one each companion of the Imam went and died until Zohr time when Saeed ibn Abullah al Bijilly came forward and informed the Imam that it was prayer time for Zohr. Battle was raging, arrows were coming towards the Imam’s camp, how could they have formed lines for prayers.
But they stood in single foil to perform their last prayers while two companions of the Imam Saeed and Zohair stood in front of this line to hold back all the arrows that were coming towards them. Once the Imam finished the last words of the prayers these two soldiers died of exhaustion. The Last of the companions of the Imam died and only the relatives remained.
First to go was Imam’s son ‘Ali Akber who fought bravely but thirst for three days was the most important factor in the fall of these martyrs. He was also killed and then Imam’s nephew Qasim went and was killed. Then four of his brothers, Osman, Jafar, Abullah and Abbas were killed. Imam then brought his 6 month old son ‘Ali Asgher. He brought him in his arms under the shade of his cloak. He told the audience, "this baby has not done any harm to you.
He is thirsty, give him some water." The Commander of Yazid’s army ordered Hurmula who was the best marksman to kill the baby. Hurmula pulled the bow and the arrow killed the baby instantly. Imam brought the baby near the camp, informed his mother of the martyrdom of the baby. He then buried the baby in the sand. Afterwards Imam himself went for battle.
But before that he introduced himself again that he was the grandson of the Prophet in case anyone had any doubts about him and that his guilt was only to refuse to accept the Oath of allegiance of the Tyrannical ruler Yazid.
The enemy was thirsty for the blood of the Imam, they were blind in their eagerness to kill the last of the family of the Prophet. They fell upon his injured and tired body like blood hounds and soon the Imam was also killed. The battle ended in one day.
The evening of the 10th was the darkest for the women and children of the family of the Prophet. Camps were set alight and burnt, their possessions were looted. It was Late at night while they were huddled together waiting for further tortures from the enemy side, that they saw the wife of Hur coming towards them with food and water.
They were hungry and thirsty but none of them was keen to take anything, not even the youngest of the children. Imam Husayn’s youngest daughter Sakina took the tumbler of water and ran towards the open field. Her aunt Zainab asked where was she running to and she replied, her little brother ‘Ali Asgher was thirsty, she was taking some water for him, not knowing that little ‘Ali Asgher was already dead, being the victim of Hurmula’s arrow.
Night passed and the morning came with more pain and grief when they saw that the bodies of the enemy were buried but the grandson of the Prophet with all his sons and brothers and companions lie unburied on the desert sand. The Women and children were taken prisoners with the ailing son of Imam, the 22 year old ‘Ali, leading this battered caravan towards Kufa as the Imam of the family. He was now the 4th Imam.
The Bodies of these Martyrs were buried on 3rd day by tribesmen of Bani Asad, guided by the fourth Imam who was with them miraculously while in prison in Kufa.
When the young ‘Ali took the mantle of Imamate, times were hard on the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. His is the saddest story of all time. On the 10th of Muharram at the time of Asr Prayers, when his father Husayn (as) was alone in the battlefield ready to do battle, he withdrew to the camp of his ailing son, came beside his bed, woke him and told him that the story of Karbala’ was over, that he was about to go to sacrifice his own life for the cause of Islam.
It was at that time that the father transferred the mantle of Imamate, the spiritual guidance, to his son to lead the Muslim Ummah towards the Right Path.
He was born in Madina some 22 years ago, on 5th Shabaan 38 year of Hijra. In some history books his date of birth is shown as 15th Jamadiul Awwal 38 AH. His mother was Shahr Bano the daughter of Yazdjurd II, the last of the Persian Kings before Islam.
She was taken prisoner when Muslim armies conquered Persia. When she was brought in Madina Imam ‘Ali (as) spoke to her and she embraced Islam and was married to his 2nd son Imam Husayn. (as) She had died after giving birth to her only son. He was only two years old when his grandfather ‘Ali (as) was martyred in the Mosque at Kufa. After that the whole family of the Prophet returned to live in Madina.
For the next 10 years under Imam Hasan (as) as Imam and after his martyrdom, his father Imam Husayn (as) as the Imam, the young ‘Ali was growing in their shadow and watching the workings of the Imamate without the worldly authority. People knew they were the grand sons of the Holy Prophet and followed them by their hearts but outwardly because of the fear of the Ummayad ruler in Damascus, there was very little following of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet.
In 60 Hijri when his father Imam Husayn (as) had to leave Madina for Makka and then for Karbala’, he was with him all the time. In Karbala’ all male children of ‘Ali (as) and Husayn (as) were killed except ‘Ali Ibn el Husayn who with providence became so ill that he was unable to participate in the Jihad with his father and survived the massacre.
His life and with that the line of descendants of Husayn (as) survived because the Imamate had to go on. He became the 4th Imam on the 10th of Muharram 61 Hijri. He was taken captive and was brought to Kufa and then to Damascus in chains.
In spite of his illness and humiliating position in front of Yazid the Ummayad ruler, when Yazid addressed him in an insulting manner saying that his father wasted his life by refusing to give the oath of allegiance to Yazid, Imam replied, it was to save Islam. They were wondering how Islam was saved. When time for Azan came and the Moazzin screamed from the minaret” I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Imam shouted to Yazid, this is the way Islam was saved.
People would have forgotten the name of Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah if his grandson would not have shown the world that you were a ruler by default. Yazid ordered his swordsman to kill this young man, but by the intervention of his aunt Zainab his life was spared. He remained in prison for one year with the whole family.
There was turmoil in all parts of the Islamic empire on this brutal killing. In the end Yazid was afraid that if he kept the family of the Prophet in prison any longer, he will lose his kingdom. So he sent orders to bring the family before him and told him that he was releasing them. He also asked what they wish to do now.
In reply to this His aunt Zainab said that they would wish to hold a gathering in Damascus so that she can tell the people what happened in Karbala’. Yazid agreed and the first Majlis was held in Damascus. In this Majlis most of the women of Damascus took part who were secretly following the path of Ahlul Bayt which included Yazid’s wife Hind.
Then they all returned to Karbala’ to pay homage over the graves of their beloved father, uncles and brothers. It was on the 20th of the month of Safar 62 Hijri that they arrived back in Karbala’. The first Majlis of Arbaeen was held in Karbala’ in which his aunt Zainab and all the surviving family attended.
It was at that time that one of the companions of the Prophet Jabir Ibn Abullah Ansari visited the grave of Husayn (as) who later narrated the whole story of Karbala’ to many of his listeners in Madina and many other towns he visited. The message of Husayn (as) was spreading from town to town and from country to country.
The whole family then returned to Madina except the wife of Imam Husayn (as) . Her name was Umme Rabab. She said that she would not return back home, for her home was here where her husband lay buried. She stayed in Karbala’ until she died a few years later. A small town flourished for the up keep of pilgrims who began to visit the grave of Husayn (as) and all the martyrs of Karbala’.
Having being released from confinement in Damascus, Imam came to live in Madina with his family and to lead a quiet life. But the city was in revolt against the cruel regime of Yazid. Many tried to persuade the Imam to join them, but Imam knew their unreliability and he declined. So when Yazid’s army invaded Madina, they left the Imam’s family alone.
Yet he was greatly shocked to see how for three days the invading army led by Muslim Ibn Aqaba who was charged with invading Madina, tied their horses in the Prophet’s mosque, turning the sacred place into a filthy stable, killing hundreds of innocent people and playing havoc with chaste women.
For three continuous days these beasts from Damascus ravaged the city and destroyed it. Imam had so much control over his emotions that he kept quiet. When different revolutionary parties rose to avenge the blood of Imam Husayn, he wisely kept aloof from them whose uprisings he deemed untimely.
No doubt Sulaiman Ibn Surad al-Khuzai and Mukhtar ibn Obaidah ath-Thaqafi avenged Imam’s precious blood. Imam Zainul Abedeen had compassion for them; he prayed for them and for their success and often enquired about those who were captured and executed by Yazid’s cruel regime. Certainly Mukhtar relieved the Imam’s wounded heart by punishing the culprits.
But the Imam was so cautious that his outward appearance gave the impression that he was indifferent, so much so that the cruel Government could not implicate him of any subversion.
Times were hard in Madina for the family of the Prophet. Imam ‘Ali Ibn el Husayn(Sajjad became his title because of his intense prostrations in prayers) lived for another 35 years after the event of Karbala’.
He was the Imam of the time and it was his duty to spread guidance to the people. But how he would do that when a single word in favor of the Ahlul Bayt would have meant certain death. No one dared to say that he followed the family of the Prophet.
The Imam survived with the sheer will power and providence. He used to go to the mosque of the Prophet and sometimes prayed there all night. These were special prayers in the shape of supplications with great significance than mere ritual. These prayers were memorized by his companions, written down by his two sons, Mohammad and Zaid.
Mohammad became the 5th Imam after the death of his father while Zaid rose against the rulers of his time and was martyred in Kufa. All these supplications were later collected by his companions in the shape of a book which was named “Al Saheefa el Sajjadiya”. Several copies of the book were made and distributed among the followers.
Normal teachings of the Qur’an by the family of the Prophet were not allowed. With these supplications Imam taught his followers the relationship between God and the people. In ordinary language it is not possible to enhance the knowledge of God.
But in the language of prayer, when one bows down before the creator, one realizes one’s own meager self, in comparison with the immensity of the universe. All vanity or ego disappears. All thoughts of self indulgence vanish. He relates himself with his creator in all humility and sublime self.
His true self awakens which only exists to help others for they are all creatures of God. Emotions that were attached to his own Self disappear. He feels alone in the wide world. His only hope rests with his creator.
God alone gives him hope and meaning of existence on earth. Side by side these supplications also gave the human race their Rights and duties with each other. In the name of “Risalat- el- Huqooq” which was an addition to Saheefa, completed the meaning of Islam as a Deen of deeper spiritual understanding as well as the ways and means of lion this planet earth with other people.
Imam’s whole life was spent in helping all the people in the city of Madina. He was seen going during the darkness of the night with a sack full of bread for the hungry people of the city.
They never knew the identity of the person who gave them food night after night, but Imam’s own companions knew the fact and they passed it on to the later generation to know and to learn. It was after his death that those hungry souls came to know the identity of their benefactor.
Imam performed thirty pilgrimages in all after the event of Karbala’. Sometimes he would go for Hajj on the back of a camel, but sometimes on foot for 250 miles to Makka. Once he was travelling with a companion. When they reached the outskirts of Makka, the crowd of pilgrims going towards Makka was enormous.
His companions shouted, "There is a lot of crowd for Hajj this year." Imam replied, "There is only you and me and this camel, the rest are animals. " He was again teaching the meaning of Hajj which was to reach out for God with all your heart and do not just regard it as another ritual.
An incident occurred that is said to have provoked the jealousy of Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik who was heir apparent to his father and arrived in Makka with great pomp and a retinue of servants. But in spite of this, he was not able to reach for the Black Stone in the Ka’aba. In pilgrims garb Hisham was unrecognizable.
He sat down on a high place waiting for the crowd to move so that he could also kiss the black stone. While he was waiting he saw an old man arrive and watched the crowd give way for him. He reached the Black stone , kissed it and returned back to his place. Hisham, being the son of the caliph was astonished and enquired about the identity of the person.
Farazdaq the famous poet was standing right there. He composed a Qaseeda in praise of the Imam to introduce him to the Heir apparent of the throne. He said, “ He is who that the whole Makka knows him, Every stone in the Ka’aba knows him. He is the son of the grandson of Fatimah and ‘Ali and of the Holy Prophet. Hisham, in his arrogance of power, imprisoned the poet who died in prison some years later.
In another incident while the Imam was about to begin his prayers a man came round and began to use abusive language against him. Imam ignored the man first. But when he repeated the abusive language pointing to him directly, Imam said to him, "what you are saying about me, if it is true then I ask God’s forgiveness, but if it is not true, then only God can forgive you.”
The man was thoroughly ashamed of his behavior and apologized. Later on he became a great devotee of the Imam.
Some people say that the Imam spent his life after Karbala’ in weeping and crying for the atrocities committed to his family. Indeed it was true that he wept profusely and that sometimes the glass of water he drank would soil with tears so that he would not be able to drink that water. And when people said why you weep so much, for martyrdom is the inheritance of the Ahlul Bayt.
He would say, "Yes indeed, I do not weep for the killing of my family, but for the humiliation we the whole family faced on the way to Damascus which was beyond description. I weep for that disgrace of women and children." He would then call the people around and tell them the story of Karbala’ and the plight of the captives after Karbala’.
People would also weep and cry loudly. The message spread. This was the means to tell the people otherwise people would not want to know. Through tragedy the message reached the hearts of the people and that message is still alive after 1400 years. And with this the line of demarcation drawn in Karbala’ between truth and falsehood is still visible.
Imam’s aunt Hazrat Zainab was organizing gatherings in the city of Madina to tell the assembled ladies in the majlis the events of Karbala’ and these participants spread the message to all corners of the town and in Makka and other cities of the province of Hejaz.
This method was so successful that the Governor of Madina wrote to Yazid about it and on the orders from Yazid, Hazrat Zainab was escorted back to Damascus. She lived there for a while then she was moved to Egypt on the orders of the monarch because even in Damascus her speeches in private gatherings were successful in spreading the story of Karbala’.
Hazrat Zainab stayed in Egypt for few years but then she was brought back to Damascus where she was martyred. Her mausoleum is in Damascus, just outside the City and pilgrims visit the place all the time. Many many miracles have appeared at this place and people suffering from incurable diseases have come to pray on her grave and have found good health.
Imam (as) in Madina through his silent teachings left many pupils, the most prominent of them was Abu Hamza-e-Thumali, who remained to spread the teachings of Ahlul Bayt in the Islamic world. Abu Mikhnuf was also one famous pupil of the Imam who later on the instructions of the fifth Imam wrote the story of Karbala’ in the narrative form which became the part of the Majlis all over the world.
The calm and peaceful life of the Imam was not to be tolerated by the Ummayad’s cruel regime. They realized that the Imam was succeeding in his mission of spreading the message of his father Husayn (as) The Syrian monarch Walid Ibn Abdul Malik had him poisoned. He died in Madina on the 25th of Muharram 95 Hijri. His eldest son Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali al Baqir arranged the burial and laid him to rest in the grave yard of Jannatul Baqii beside his uncle Imam Hasan. (as)
• Harassed by the Ummayad Government.
• Some sayings of the Imam.
Born in Madina on Ist Rajab 57 Hijri, died in Madina on 7th Zilhijja 114 Hijri (31.1.733AD) at the age of 57 years. Period of Imamate 19 years.
On the evidence of the most authentic Hadith narrated by Sunni and Shia historians, one of the companions of the Holy Prophet Jabir Ibn Abdallah Ansari was in the presence of the Holy Prophet. He asked the Prophet about the names of descendants from his daughter Hazrat Fatima and ‘Ali (as) . The Prophet told him,
“O Jabir, you will have a long life, and although you will go blind, but you will meet the 5th in line of my descendants whose name will be my name, who will walk like me and who will be the 5th Imam of the time. When you will meet him, give my salaams to him”.
As predicted by the Holy Prophet Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari had a long life and became blind in his old age. But he devoutly waited for the time when he would meet the 5th Imam. Each morning he would come out from his house, sit by the road side and wait for the sound of the footsteps to recognize the 5th Imam.
One such day while he was waiting in the street of Madina, he heard someone walking towards him, the sound of footsteps reminded him of the way Holy Prophet used to walk. Jabir stood up, stopped the man and asked his name. He replied, “Muhammad”, Jabir asked, whose son?, he replied “‘Ali Ibnul Husayn”.
Jabir immediately recognized the man he was talking to was the 5th Imam. He kissed his and told him the message from the Holy Prophet and that the Prophet sent his salaams to him. Imam took him to his home, asked his friends to gather as many people as they can. When they all assembled in his house, the Imam asked Jabir to tell the whole story again.
Jabir narrated the story, they all cried and attested in unison of the Imamate of the Fifth Imam and also the names of the other Seven Imams in his line up to the Twelfth Imam.
After the death of the 4th Imam in 95 Hijri, the caliphs in Damascus were so preoccupied with their conquests of foreign lands that they did not have time to worry about the people in Madina, their loyalties or their hostilities.
They were also satisfied that the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt would not divulge in any rebellion against them due to the most peaceful and quite life of the 4th Imam Zainul Abedeen (as) . They left the people of Madina to their activities in some peace. This was the time Imams of Ahlul Bayt were waiting for. Our 5th Imam opened a school to teach Qur’an and Hadith as it was taught by the Holy Prophet and Imam ‘Ali AS).
Imam Muhammad el Baqir was said to have been high esteemed for his learning and eloquence as well as on account of his noble birth. According to Ibn Khalikan, the Imam received the title of Baqir (Splitter of knowledge) due to his ample knowledge of Deen and his enthusiasm to teach to other people.
Many historians like Yakubi asserts that the Imam split open knowledge, that is scrutinized it and examined the depths of it so that it can be spread to all people truly and correctly.
In his life of respectable and scholarly retirement at Madina, the Imam was frequently called upon to explain particular teachings in regard to Imamate. A synopsis of his teaching in the Ma’athirul-Baqir is given in Cannon Sell’s Ithna Ashariya, an interesting part of which may well be quoted, as it shows the emphasis at this early period on the intellectual and spiritual character of the Imamate.
A man one day said to the Imam, “Was the Prophet heir to all the knowledge of the Prophets?" He replied, “Yes” then he was asked whether he had inherited it. He said he had. He was then asked if he could raise the dead to life, restore sight to the blind, and cleanse the leper.
He said yes, by valor of God, the most high. He therefore put his hand on the blind eyes of a man sitting next to him and prayed. The next moment the blind man’s eyesight was restored. Many more such stories were told by various historians of the time.
The Imam discoursed fully on many topics such as the nature of the soul and Nafs, the nature and attributes of God, the qualities of the Ulemas. He discouraged arguments about the divine nature, saying that it was not possible for men to understand it.
One day a mu’tazili leader Wasil bin Ata asked the Imam what the anger of God meant. He said, it was simply punishment, but that this anger was not to be compared to the anger of men. God’s nature did not change. He defined a Rasul as a prophet who hears the voice of the angel(of revelation) and sees the angel in a bodily form.
A Nabi, he said, is a Prophet who also hears the voice of the angel under the same conditions, but does not see him, and the Imam’s condition is like that of the Nabi but not like that of the Rasul. He said that the Imams were pure and that the Ahlul Bayt were free from sin.
The Imam Baqir (as) in defending his claims to the Imamate before the caliph Hisham quoted this verse, “This day have I perfected your religion unto you and fulfilled my mercy upon you and accepted Islam to be your Deen.” (Qur’an,S.5 V5) He went on to say that the open revelation being thus perfect, the Prophet had made known other secret matters to ‘Ali (as) .
From amongst men of the Ahlul Bayt ‘Ali (as) had appointed a special person as his confidant, to whom this heritage of knowledge of secret things came down. Hisham replied that as God allowed no partner in the matter of knowing the secret things, how could ‘Ali (as) make such claims?
In reply the Imam quoted many sayings of the Prophet showing a mutual relationship between him and the high position accorded to ‘Ali (as) . On hearing all this Hisham was silent and then permitted the Imam and his companions to return home .Neither the pomp nor the power of the caliph influenced the Imam, who boldly and without fear answered all the questions put to him.
As counselor to the Government of the day, to rule and to administer the Muslim world was certainly the right of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, but as common people who had no such right succumbed to the temporal power, The Imams had to lead calm and quiet lives. As such, they could have refused to give any advice or counsel to the Government of the day.
But the moral height of these noble Imams rose above the standards of commoners. Like Imam ‘Ali (as) who cooperated with the contemporary caliphs and offered sound advice concerning the affairs of the Muslims, all the Imams followed the same example and never hesitated to give well balanced pieces of advice to their contemporary rulers. Imam Baqir (as) was no exception.
The Ummayad Government had till then no currency of its own. The Byzantine currency of the Eastern Roman Empire was valid tender in Damascus as well. But during the reign of Walid Ibn Abdul Malik, there rose a rift between him and the byzantine ruler when the later decided to stamp a new currency with the phrase which was considered derogatory to the Holy Prophet.
This created suspense among the Muslim Ummah. Walid convened a committee in which prominent Muslim scholars participated. Imam Baqir (as) expressed his opinion that the Government ought to strike its own currency on one side of which it should stamp the statement “La Ilaha Illallah and on the other side “Muhammad Rasul Allah”.
The opinion of the Imam was unanimously approved and for the first time an Islamic coin was minted. Some of these coins were exhibited at the British Museum in 1988 at the event of the Islamic Art exhibition in London and a note shown that these coins were minted at the time of Walid Ibn Abdul Malik on the advice of the 5th Imam of Ahlul Bayt.
It was during the caliphate of Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz the Ummayad caliph, that the Prophets’ descendants enjoyed a brief period of peace which lasted for only two years and five months which is the period of his Government.
He lifted from them a great deal of atrocities and prohibited the cursing of Imam ‘Ali (as) on the pulpit on Friday, substituting it with this verse from the Holy Qur’an;
“God commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.”
When the Imam met the caliph Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz, he found him weeping for the injustice inflicted by his predecessors upon the Ahlul Bayt. The Imam admonished him with pieces of wisdom till the caliph sobbed, knelt down and begged for more. Then the Imam asked Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz what wrong doing he was brought here to rectify?
It was none other than fadak which the messenger of God gave to his daughter Fatimah as a gift and to her descendants. As quoted in Biharul Anwar, v.4, “Umer took some writing pad and pen and wrote,’ In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is what Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz had handed back to Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali to rectify the wrong doing with regard to Fadak.”
After this event the land of “Fadak” was handed back to the Ahlul Bayt. It was from the income from these lands and orchards that Schools were opened in Madina by the Fifth Imam where thousands of students came to learn the Qur’an and its true meanings. Hundreds of narrators of Hadith came out of these schools, experts in the art of Hadith and Islamic Law.
Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik succeeded Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz. He was a stone hearted, immoral person and racist. His prejudice against non- Arab Muslims caused him to double the taxes they had to pay, and his reign was a replay of the bloody days of Yazid Ibn Moawiya and Hajjaj Ibn Yousuf Thaqafi. It was then that the revolution of Zaid Ibn ‘Ali bout as a continuation of the revolution of Imam Husayn (as) and Imam ‘Ali AS).
Imam Baqir (as) never expressed any interest nor participated in political matters except when the ruler invited him. Since his peaceful living was devoted to people’s spiritual guidance, he was not tolerated by the Government. Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik wrote to his Governor of Madina instructing him to send Imam Baqir and his son Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) to Damascus intending to humiliate them in front of an audience.
When they reached Damascus, he kept them waiting for three days. On the fourth day he called them in his presence. He sat on a throne surrounded by his armed guards. In the center of the courtyard, a target was set on which the elite were shooting arrows. Immediately the Imam entered, Hisham bluntly asked him to shoot arrows with others.
Imam Baqir tried to evade Hisham’s order, but the latter kept insisting and he planned to ridicule the Imam. Since the Imam led a secluded life, Hisham thought he might not have any connection with martial arts.
He did not know that each descendant of the Prophet had inherited the might of Imam ‘Ali (as) and the courage of Imam Hu (as) . He could not realize that their calm and quiet life was lived in fulfillment of the demands of Divine Providence.
Compelled by Hisham, Imam Baqir (as) took the bow, handling it skillfully, he shot a few arrows continuously, all sitting straight in the very heart of the center spot. A shout of praise burst from the throats of astonished elites standing right and left of the caliph. Hisham outwitted, began to discuss the problems of the Imamate and the virtues of Ahlul Bayt.
He clearly saw that the Imams stay in Damascus might lead to popular respect for Ahlul Bayt. So he permitted them to return home to Madinah. Inwardly his enmity of the Prophet’s family had increased,
While in Madinah Imam Baqir (as) continued with the progress of the schools of theology opened up on his advice and with the support of the companions of Ahlul Bayt. It is noted by many historians that until the death of our 5th Imam there were 25000 students in these schools learning Fiqh, Theology and Islamic science. It was at this time that 400 books of Hadith were compiled by the students of these school under the guidance of Imam Baqir (as)
Now was the time to bring out books on Hadith, true sayings of the Prophet and also to show people in practical terms how duties were performed by the Prophet himself. It was because of this deeper and truer spread of knowledge that he became known as Baqir.
The 400 books of Hadith that were written and later confirmed by his son Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) when he became Imam after the death of his father, that Kulaini compiled his monumental books of Traditions named Al-Kafi, during the period of the Twelfth Imam.
As mentioned earlier the Ummayad Caliph Hisham ibn Abdul Malik was not happy with the progress our 5th Imam was making in reaching out to the people of not only Madinah but throughout the Muslim Lands. This spiritual influence would change into political influence and this would jeopardize the Caliphs own position as head of the state.
The more the Ummayad Government learnt about Imam’s prestige and popularity, the more intolerable his existence became. At last they resorted to the same soundless weapon, poison which used to be applied by the cunning monarchs quite often to eliminate their opponents or suspects.
A saddle was presented to the Imam in which poison was applied most skillfully. When he mounted on it the poison affected his whole body. After few days in pain the Imam expired on 7th of Zilhijja 114 Hijri.
According to his Will he was shrouded in three pieces of cloth. These included a Yamani sheet which he used to put on Friday prayers and a shirt which he always wore. He was laid to rest underneath the same dome in Jannatul Baqii where Imam Hasan and Imam Zainul Abedeen were buried.
Imam said, "Our followers are of three kinds, one who follows us but depends on others, one who is like a glass involved in his own reflections, but the best are those who are like gold, the more they suffer the more they shine.
Another famous saying of the Imam is, “I admonish you regarding five things; if you are wronged, do not commit wrong doing to others, if you are betrayed, do not betray anyone, if you are called a liar, do not be furious, if you are praised, do not be jubilant, if you are criticized do not fret and think of what is said in criticism, if you find in yourself what is criticized about you, then you are falling down in the eyes of God; when you are furious about the truth, it is much greater calamity then your falling down in the eyes of the people. And if you are opposite of what is said (in criticism) about you, then it is a merit you acquired without having to tire yourself in obtaining it.”
Our 5th Imam was succeeded by his son Ja’far Ibn Muhammad el- Sadiq (as) as the 6th Imam.
The 6th Imam, Ja’far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq (as) was Born in Madinah on 17th Rabiul Awwal 83 Hijiri (23.4.702 AD). Died in Madinah on 15th Shawwal, 148 Hijri (7.12.765 AD) at the age of 63. Period of Imamate 34 years.
It is known from various history books and various sources of Hadith that when Imam As-Sadiq was a young boy, he used to come to the schools and Madrasas founded by his father the 5th Imam and instead of learning as many other youngsters and older pupil did, he used to discuss serious matters of Fiqh and Jurisprudence with much older students of the Madrasas.
In one such discourses when he was only 11 years old, when he entered a class room where pupils were discussing on the subject of astronomy, he pointed out to the surprise of everyone except his own father, that the earth cannot be flat, because of the way the sun rises in the East and sets in the west and day and night change in 24 hours, it cannot be possible.
In his opinion the earth must be round, otherwise this would not have happened in such a precise manner. All the students were astonished but his father smiled and said nothing.
The above story was mentioned in a book compiled by Five French scholars at Strasbourg in France with the title, “The heart of the Shia Scholarship.” The book has been translated in Persian and Urdu and it is now being translated in English with possible references.
Up to the age of twelve years, Ja’far (as) was brought up under the guidance of his grandfather Imam Zainul Abedeen whose main concern was to worship his maker and reflect on the tragic events of Karbala’ and whose main avenue of teaching was through supplications.
Twenty two years had lapsed since then, yet the remembrance of the tragedy of Karbala’ was still fresh in his memory. So, as soon as Imam Ja’far (as) gained understanding, he was profoundly impressed by the continuous grief of his grandfather, so much so that he felt as if he himself was present during that tragedy.
He also contemplated on the presence of his father Imam Baqir (as) , who was only three years old, at that tragic time. Imam As-Sadiq (as) considered it his duty to convene the recitation gatherings (Majalis) about the sorrowful event of Karbala’.
He was twelve year old when his grandfather expired. Then up to the age of 31 he passed his time under the guidance of his father Imam Baqir (as) . It was the time when Ummayad politics was tottering and Muslims were approaching Imam Baqir (as) in thousands. Their need for knowledge was fulfilled by the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt.
In 114 Hijri(732 AD) Imam Baqir (as) died, and the responsibilities of Imamate devolved on the shoulders of Imam Ja’far Sadiq. Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik was still ruling in Damascus and political disturbances were afoot. The passion of taking revenge on Bani Ummaya was strong and several descendants of Imam ‘Ali (as) were preparing themselves to overthrow the regime.
Most prominent among them was Zaid, the respected son of Imam Zainul Abedeen (as) His religious zeal and piety were known throughout Arabia. He was Hafiz of the Qur’an and he had taken upon himself the stand of removing the tyranny of the Ummayads.
This was a very precarious juncture for Imam As-Sadiq (as) in regards to the tyranny of the Ummayads, he agreed with his uncle Zaid for whom he had a great deal of respect. But due to his far sighted judgement Imam could clearly see that Zaid’s rising against the well-organized Ummayad forces will be of no avail. He therefore advised him not to start this venture.
But Zaid was too far out in his zeal and he would not stop. Many thousands of Iraqis had sworn their allegiance to Zaid and he was quite optimistic about his success. He took his forces to Kufa, gave a great battle but was killed in the end. The Ummayads were as brutal as ever. They hung the body of Zaid on the gates of the city of Kufa which remained there as a reminder for several years.
One year after Zaid’s death, his son Yahya gained the same path and received the same fate. Imam As-Sadiq (as) was aware of all this but realized that this was not the time to take any such active part. His main occupation was to spread the religious sciences of Ahlul Bayt as much as possible while time was on their side.
The last days of the Ummayads were ruffled by political disturbances. Changes in Governors were many and Imam As-Sadiq (as) witnessed the rise and fall of many kings. After Hisham, Walid, then his son Yazid, then Ibrahim, then Marwan al-Himar came to the throne. The capture of the latter terminated the monarchy of the tyrannical Ummayads.
During the last phase of the tottering Ummayad rule, the Abbasids were actively engaged in their anti Ummayad activities. They took advantage of the situation and formed an association with the slogan that “ Right to rule is for the family of the Holy Prophet.”
They pledged in one of their meetings in Madina in which Muhammad Nafse Zakiya, the great grandson of Imam Hasan (as) was present, that when the Ummayads state topples, the Khilafat will be reverted to the Ahlul Bayt. It is clear that to rule the Islamic world was not the job of every Hashemite or Abbasid.
It was the right of those divinely appointed descendants of the Holy Prophet whom God had chosen to lead humanity. But these high-thinking souls never wished to take undue advantage of the situation with the aid of cunning tactics. In short, the Imams, the descendants of ‘Ali (as) never tried to acquire power through political trickery.
But the Abbasids no doubt took the opportunity of the situation. Availing themselves of the silence shown by the Imams and of the compassion people had for the Hashemites (the Abbasids too were Hashemites) they saw their chances to rise to power.
But when they established themselves on the throne, they became the enemies of Ahlul Bayt, in the same degree or more than that which had been adopted by the heartless Ummayads.
One of the prominent agents of this revolution was Abu Salma al-Khallal who was especially compassionate towards the Ahlul Bayt. When he gained power in Iraq he wrote letters to Imam As-Sadiq inviting him to accept and share the royal power.
In political struggles, such opportunities are considered golden, but the Imam who was an embodiment of selflessness and self respect, declined the offer and remained devoted to his duties of imparting knowledge.
The supporters of the Abbasid cause and the followers of Abu Muslim Khorasani then took the oath of allegiance at the hand of Abul Abbas as Saffah on 14th Rabiusani 132 Hijri (30.11.749AD) he was acknowledged as the ruler and caliph of the Muslim world. In the year 136 Hijri Saffah died and his brother Abu Ja’far Mansur succeeded to the throne.
It has already been indicated that the Abbasids took advantage of the popularity of the Ahlul Bayt and had made their slogan to stand and protect the rights of Ahlul Bayt. They gathered the public around them on this pretext. But when they came to power and destroyed the Ummayads, they turned against the Ahlul Bayt, particularly the descendants of Imam Hasan (as).
Abu Salama who was known for his love of the Ahlul Bayt, was killed by Saffah. Abu Muslim Khorasani whose armies marched into Iraq leading to the Abbasids gaining power was also murdered by Mansur. He then turned all his tyranny against the descendants of Imam Hasan.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) was watching all this with great sadness but was unable to do anything about it. He expressed his sorrow for them in these words.
“The early Madinites (Ansars) had invited the Holy Prophet to Madinah under the oath that they would protect him and his descendants just as they would protect their own kith and kin. But today the descendants of those very Ansars act as silent onlookers and none stands up to protect the Prophet’s offspring.”
Having said these words, the Imam returned to his house and fell ill, and was unable to move for twenty days.
Among the prisoners of Mansur was also the aged Abdullah-e-Mahedh, the grandson of Imam Hasan (as) . His son Muhammad Nafse Zakiyah rose against the oppressive regime and fell fighting near Madinah in 142 Hijri. The head of the young warrior was sent to his aged father in prison who died at the sight of this atrocious act. Another son Ibrahim rose in Kufa and was killed in the year 143 Hijri.
Many Sayyids, the descendants of Imam Hasan were killed and many of them were buried alive as part of the building walls in the city of Baghdad. Even today a wall exists on the northern side of the River Tigris near the Jisre Atiq (the Old Bridge) with an inscription on the wall in Kufic script "In the building material of this wall many descendants of Imam Hasan Ibn ‘Ali were buried alive.
In spite of all these atrocities against the Descendants of Imam Hasan (as), Imam As-Sadiq (as) went on silently propagating the teachings of Ahlul Bayt. As a result, even those who did not acknowledge him as an infallible Imam, nor knew his prestige or lineage, bowed before his knowledge and prided in being counted among his students.
Mansur the Abbasid Caliph wanted to remove the esteem in which the Imam was held by the people. He tried to bring scholars to compete with him but all of them proved incapable of arguing and succeeding even with his own students.
These so called Ulemas of the Durbar all admitted that their counterparts had acquired the religious learning from the descendants of the Prophet. The arrogant caliph ignored them and continued to undermine the popularity and respect of the Imam by other means. Failing this he decided to harass, arrest or to murder him. In every town and city hired agents were posted to monitor the activities of the followers of the Imam.
It was at this time that these followers were given the name of Rafidhoon, i.e. the rejecters. It was Mansur who coined the word Ahlal Sunna wal Jama’ah to promote a sect against the followers of Ahlul Bayt (See Amir ‘Ali, the Spirit of Islam). Anyone who was found supporting the Imam would be arrested, imprisoned or killed.
The Imam himself was summoned from Madinah to Baghdad, the newly founded Capital of the Abbasid regime. Until then it was Kufa, when transferred from Damascus after the fall of the Ummayads. Five times he was taken away from Madinah to Baghdad, questioned or harassed in one way or the other.
Mansur could never find sufficient grounds to order his imprisonment or assassination. On the other hand the consequent stay of the Imam in Iraq only expanded the circle of those who wanted to learn the teachings of Ahlul Bayt from him. Perceiving this, Mansur sent him back to Madinah. Even there, the Imam was not spared from persecution and harassment.
Imam As-Sadiq (as) was one of those infallible Nufus who were created by God to be models of moral excellence. The character and conduct of all those sages in different stages of their lives was the standard of excellence. The particular virtues of the Imam which were recorded by the historians included hospitality, charity, the helping of the needy in secrecy, the fair treatment of poor relatives, forgiveness, patience and fortitude.
Once a pilgrim visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, fell asleep. On waking up, he hurriedly searched his belongings and found his purse which contained One Thousand Dinars was missing. Looking around he saw the Imam was praying in one corner of the Mosque.
He accused the Imam of having picked his purse. The Imam asked about its contents and was told that it contained one thousand Dinars. The Imam then asked the man to follow him to his house where he gave the man the same amount. When the stranger came back to the mosque satisfied, once more he checked his property and found that his purse was intact in another bundle.
Greatly ashamed of his conduct, he came back to the Imam, apologized and asked him to take his money back. Imam replied with these words, “We never take back what we once give away, but if you feel guilty about it, give it to the poor of the town. " The traveler gave all the money in Charity to the poor of Madinah.
During the days of scarcity, when people tried to hoard food and other goods, Imam asked his household manager Trenchab, “The price of corn is rising day by day. How much corn is there in our warehouse," Trenchab replied that the Imam should not worry as there was a large quantity of corn in store.
The Imam replied, “Give it away to the poor and let us face the situation along with others.” Then he ordered that pure white wheat flour should not be used in his kitchen, and should be mixed with equal quantities of oat flour. “We must share misfortune with the needy and the poor as long as it takes."
His profound knowledge of religion and other sciences was famed throughout the entire Islamic world. People came from distant regions to learn from him. The number of his students reached over Four Thousand. Among them were scholars of Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Haidth such as Imam Noman bin Thabit Abu Hanifa and Imam Mali Ibn Anas.
Heads of other religions also came there to discuss with the Imams students many matters of dispute and on many occasions returned home embracing Islam. Sometimes he himself argued with the opponents especially atheists. Apart from religious sciences, he used to teach to some students mathematics, chemistry, medicine and astronomy. Jabir Ibn Hayyan, the famous pioneer of physics, chemistry and mathematics, was his disciple who wrote about four hundred treatises based on his mentor’s instructions.
The jurists who learnt from him and wrote several volumes of books on jurisprudence can be counted by the hundreds.
Perhaps the most interesting of all his pupils was Abu Hanifa who gave public lectures at Kufa that attracted much attention. In giving decisions, he claimed the right to exercise the privilege of deduction (Qiyas) and of using his own judgement (Ra’y) to supplement the traditions and for this departure he was severely criticized by the scholars in Makka and Madina.
His decisions were on the point of law of Islam, however he steadfastly refused to enter the service of the Government as judge. Thus it was as a literary or academic jurist that he was able to carry on his work in Kufa under both the Ummayads and the Abbasids.
It is probable that he strongly sympathized with the Alawids and resented the way in which they had been set aside. Masudi mentions in his history that once he had sent 10,000 Dinars to Zaid Ibn ‘Ali to help him against the Ummayads.
One is surprised to observe that these two contemporary scholars were able to carry on teaching in their respective cities, Abu Hanifa in Kufa and Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) in Madina. The two men were on friendly terms with each other and often Abu Hanifa accepted the advice of his teacher Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as)
Ibn Khalikan relates a story about an anecdote that the Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) had with his contemporary jurist of Kufa. The Imam asked, “ What would you say is the proper fine for one who breaks the front molars (Rubaiyat) of a deer”? Abu Hanifa answered, O’son of the Apostle of God I do not know the answer.
To this the Imam replied, “Can you then pretend to learning and scholarship when you do not know that a deer has no front molars, but only the incisors" (Thanaya).
On another occasion, Abu Hanifa remarked that if the Imam did not teach three things he would be able to accept him.
1. Good is from God and evil is from the deeds of men, “ whereas I say that men have no choice but both good and evil are from God.
2. In the final judgement the devil suffers in the fire,” whereas I say that the fire will not burn him, in so much as the same material will not injure itself (the Devil being from fire) “
3. it is impossible to see God in this world or the next, whereas I say that anyone who has existence may be seen, if not in this world, then in the next”. At this point Shaikh Buhlul who was one of Imam’s companions, but pretended to be a simple minded person, picked up a clod of earth and hit Abu Hanifa on the head, declaring as he made the hasty exit, that all three points are refuted.
Abu Hanifa made a complaint about him to the caliph who called Buhlul before him and asked him, why did you throw the clod of earth at Abu Hanifa. He answered, “I did not throw it”. Abu Hanifa protested, “you did throw it”.
But Buhlul replied, “you yourself have maintained that evil is from God that men have no choice, so why do you blame me? And you have also said that the same material will not injure itself. The devil is from fire and fire of hell would not hurt him. Accordingly you are from dust of the earth, tell me how it could injure you? You have also claimed that you can see God as a proof of his existence. Show me the pain you are complaining about that exists in your head ?"
Abu Hanifa had no answer to that and he eventually agreed to what Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) taught about these things.
Nevertheless Abu Hanifa was highly respected by those friends of Ahlul Bayt for they heartily endorsed a remark made by Abu Hanifa concerning Mansur and all such oppressors whether of the Banu Umayya or Banu Abbas. Abu Hanifa eloquently declared that if such men would build a Masjid and command him to the simple task of counting the bricks, he would not do it, “for they are dissolute (Fasiq) and the dissolute are not worthy of the authority of leadership (Majlisi,Tarikhul Aiemma).
Ultimately Mansur heard this remark and cast Abu Hanifa into prison where he remained until his death. Abu Hanifa’s remarks were based on the Verse in the Qur'an (Surah II,V 118) where God said to Abraham,” I am about to make thee an Imam to mankind”, and Abraham asked, “of my offspring also”, but God answered, “My covenant embraceth not the idolaters”.
On the question of the freedom of will (Irada) which was much under discussion at the time, the Imam taught, “that God has decreed some things for us and He has likewise decreed some things through our agency, What He decreed for us or on our behalf He has concealed from us, but what He has decreed through our agency He has revealed to us. We are not concerned, therefore, so much with what he has decreed for us, as we are with what he has decreed through our agency.”
As to the question of the power (Qadr) of directing one’s own actions, the Imam took a middle position, which is neither compulsion (Jabr) nor committing (Tafviz) the choice to ourselves. He was accustomed to say in prayer,”O’ God, thine is the praise that I give thee, and to thee is the excuse if I sin against thee. There is no work of merit on my own behalf, or on behalf of another, and in evil there is no excuse for me or for another”.
Yakubi in his Tarikh remarks in regard to Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that , “it was customary for scholars who related anything from him to say 'the learned one informed us'.” When we recall that Malik ibn Anas (94-179) the author of Mawatta was a contemporary of the Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) , at least a century before the time of Bukhari and Muslim, it is significant to find that it is the Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) who is credited with stating what came to be regarded as the most significant and important principle to observe in judging traditions: “What is in agreement with the Book of God, accept it, and whatever is contrary, reject it”.
Yakubi also relates another saying of the Imam as follows;
"There are two friends, and whoever follows them will enter paradise”, Someone asked, “ Who are they?” He said, “The acceptance of that which you dislike when God likes it, and the rejection of that which you like when God dislikes it.”
Masudi, the famous historian, wrote one of the most important sayings of Imam As-Sadiq (as) ascribed through Imam ‘Ali (as) who is said to have related that when God wished to establish the creation, the atoms of creatures and the beginning of all created things, He first made what he created in the form of small particles.
This was before the earth and the heavens were created. God existed alone in His authority and power. So He cast forth a ray of light, a flame from His splendor and it was radiant. He scattered this light in the midst of invisible atoms, which He then united in the form of our Prophet. God most high then declared unto him, “you are the first of those who shall speak, the one with power of choice and the one chosen.
To you I have trusted my light and the treasure of my guidance. For your sake I will form spacious channels, give free course to the waters, and raise the heavens. For your sake I will give rewards and punishments, and assign men to Paradise or to the Fire. I will appoint the people of your household (Ahlul Bayt) for guidance.
I will bestow upon them the secrets of my knowledge. No truth will be hidden from them and no mystery concealed. I will designate them as my proof to mankind, as those who shall admonish men of my power and remind them of my Unity (Tawheed)”.
“The light descended,” the Imam Ja’far continued, “upon our most noble men, and shown through our Imams, so that we are in fact the light of Heaven and of Earth. To us is salvation committed, and from us are the secrets of science derived, for we are the destination that all must strive to reach.
Our Mehdi will be the final proof, the seal of the Imams, the Deliverer of the Imamate, the Apex of the Light, and the Source of all good work. Those who follow us will have our support in the hereafter.”
Imam died in the 10th year of the reign of Caliph Mansur, 148 Hijiri(765 AD). He had worn a signet ring with the inscription,“ God is my master and my defense from His creation.” He lived to be 65 years old. It is mentioned by historians that on Caliph’s orders he was given poison in grapes which caused his death.
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) was buried in the cemetery of Baqee in Madina by the side of his father Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) . Before the destruction of the Baqee cemetery by the Wahhabis, the inscription on the tomb said, “Here is the Tomb of Imam Ja’far Ibn Muhammad al Sadiq.”
Born in Madina on 7th Safar 128 Hijri (10.11.745AD). Died in Baghdad Iraq 25th Rajab 183 Hijri (4.9.799 AD) Period of Imamate was 35 years.
Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far was born during the struggle between the Ummayads and the Abbasids. He was only four years old when Abul Abbas “Saffah”, “The Shedder of Blood”, came to the throne as the first Abbasid caliph. For twenty years he was under the authority of his father, who died ten years before the end of the long reign of Mansur.
The Imamate of the 7th Imam extended through the ten remaining years of the caliphate of Mansur, and included the ten years of the rule of Mahdi, one year and some months of Hadi and about twelve years of the reign of Harun al- Rashid. Thus for thirty five years he was the Imam. He held this coveted distinction as the longest period of Imamate of the Eleven Imams.
With six brothers and nine sisters Imam Musa (as) grew up in a large family. Ismail the oldest brother died at a young age and Musa was chosen by Divine providence to succeed his father as the Imam. There were those among the followers of the 6th Imam who thought that Imamate should be hereditary and therefore the eldest son of the 6th Imam should succeed.
They misunderstood the whole concept of Imamate which was neither hereditary nor mandatory for any one person. It was divinely selected and the Imam at his death bed reveals the name of the next Imam.
The Abbasid caliphs were always on the alert with this distinctive source of Imamate and our 7th Imam was fully aware of this danger. The Caliphs were on the alert to discover any real or imaginary disloyalty with the Imam or his followers and they would immediately put them under arrest.
This natural anxiety, however, does not appear to have seriously interrupted his life as an Imam. He continued to disseminate Qura’nic teachings as his father Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) used to do through the Islamic schools opened in Madina during the life of the 5th Imam.
Ibn Khalikan related that caliph Mansur saw in his dream Imam ‘Ali (as) who was reciting the verse from the Qur’an, “O’Muhammad, were you ready therefore, if you had been put in authority, to commit evil on the earth and to violate the ties of blood.” Mansur sent for his favorite companion Ibn Younus at night and told him of his dream.
He then said,” bring me Musa Ibn Ja’far.” The Imam Musa ibn Ja’far was brought in all the way from Madina to Baghdad. When he arrived Mansur embraced him and said to him, “Abul Hasan, I have just seen in a dream ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as) who was reciting this verse.
Give me your assurance that you will not revolt against me or against any of my children. Imam replied, By Allah I have no such intentions. The caliph then gave him a thousand dinars and restored him to his family in Madina.
This story give us some idea how these Abbasid caliphs were so afraid of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt that in spite of their total lack of evidence for any kind of revolt against their earthly power, they would not leave them alone.
From time to time the Imams were brought in from Madina, kept in Baghdad either on house arrest or inside prisons under the most difficult of conditions. But it was the Imams great Divine Characters that managed to keep them going in the most severe of conditions. It is because of these uncertain times that the Imam said,
“How base is the world for a people, unless God give them joy; and how great is this life , if God is not angry with them.” Total submission to the Will of God in all circumstances.
It was widely known that Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far had been given powers of healing. Once he was passing by a house and heard little children weeping. He enquired as to why they were crying. He was told that they were orphans and their mother had just died and now they had no one to look after them.
He went inside the house, made two prostrations and prayed to God for her life. Moments later the woman stood up well and in good health. People who saw this and cried out, “Behold it is Jesus son of Mary.”
Once Harun al Rashid was visiting Madina. He went to the mosque of the Prophet near his grave and said, My Salaams to you O’cousin of our fathers. Imam Musa was there who saluted the grave of the Prophet with the words, My Salams to you O’our grandfather. At this Al-Rashid was disconcerted and went away angry.
This occurrence was sufficient to explain his first summons from Al Rashid to come to Baghdad. There he was kept in prison. But after nearly a year in prison Harun saw in a dream that an Abyssinian slave was rushing towards him with a javelin and telling him to release Musa Ibn Ja’far or he will slay him.
Harun immediately called the head of the prison and told him to release the Imam and give him thirty thousand Dirhams. When this man reached the door of the prison he found Imam was waiting for him and welcomed him, saying how quickly he had come to release him. The man said how did he know.
Imam replied “I saw the Holy Prophet in my dream who told me to recite these words and then I will be released from prison for I had been put here unjustly." The man asked what were those words, Imam replied,
“O thou who hearest every voice,
O thou who lets no opportunity escape;
O thou who clothes the bones with flesh
and who wilt raise them up after death;
I invoke thee by thy Holy name, and by that great and splendid name which is treasured up and closely hidden, by that name which no created thing shall ever know;
O thou who art so mild and whose patience is never equaled;
O thou whose favors never cease and cannot be numbered, set me free. (Masudi, Muruj el Dhahab)
So you see what happened. The superintendent of prisons was flabbergasted and released the Imam immediately, organized an escort for him to take him to Madinah.
Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (as) was one of the illustrious Imams who God had set a paragon of moral excellence. Each member of this noble family possessed cardinal virtues. Naturally in some individuals a particular virtue is dominant and more conspicuous. The seventh Imam excelled in tolerance and forgiveness, so much so that he was entitled al-Kazim, the suppressor of anger.
Never was he heard speaking roughly or harshly to anyone. Even in the most unpleasant situations, he was seen smiling bearing the pain gracefully. This was in accordance with the saying of his ancestor Imam ‘Ali (as) that the faithful keeps his grief confined in his heart with a smile on his face.
One State official of Madina was a persistent source of harassment to the Imam. He even used abusive language regarding Imam ‘Ali. (as) But our 7th Imam always directed his followers not to retaliate in the same abusive manner.
When his manner became too rude to be tolerated, Imam’s followers sought permission from the Imam to retaliate against him. The Imam appeased them, promising to decide the matter in his own way.
Pacifying his followers, the Imam went to that man on his Farm and treated him with such noble benevolence that the man felt ashamed of his conduct and subsequently changed his attitude and altered his conduct. Explaining his policy to his followers, the Imam asked,“ Was my behavior better than the methods you suggested?”
They admitted that it certainly was. He thus carried out the instructions of his great ancestor Imam ‘Ali (as) which is recorded in Nahjul Balagha to subdue the enemy with benevolence since it is more effective than trying to defeat them with the same methods. No doubt this requires a correct judgement of your adversary’s nature. Imam ‘Ali (as) has therefore warned not to use this policy with the vile and mean, or they will be encouraged to do more mischief.
To vanquish the enemy with goodness certainly requires the foresight the Imam possessed. Strictness is permissible only when the enemy’s continuous vile conduct justifies retaliation or the use of force. If not, these dignified Nufus preferred to deal with that kind of person gently so as to have a valid pretext against the opponent and leave no ground for him to justify his aggression.
This was the noble method usually adopted by all members of Ahlul Bayt. Imam ‘Ali (as) even on his death bed behaved liberally with Ibn Muljim who had dealt him a mortal blow only the day before. Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (as) showered his generosity on many of his relatives even when he knew that some of them were envious of him and conspired with the ruler of the time Harun al-Rashid.
As to what may have led to his final imprisonment, we find that it is stated by Al-Fakhri that there were some of the relatives of Musa Ibn a’afar who were envious of him and carried false reports about him to Al-Rashid, saying, “The people paying him the Khums, or one fifth of the property, are accepting the Imamate and he is about to revolt against you”.
They brought this report to Al-Rashid so frequently that it made him anxious and agitated. He gave the accuser some money to keep bringing him more information. But it is related through authentic sources that this relative of the Imam did not have the chance of enjoying that reward for espionage, for as soon as he reached Madinah, he suffered a serious illness and died from it.
It was in that year that Al-Rashid went on the pilgrimage, and when he arrived in Madina, he arrested the Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far, brought him to Baghdad and imprisoned him under the care of al-Sindi ibn Shahik. (Al-Fakhri-Ibnul Tiktika)
This agrees with Majlisi’s comment in Bihar al Anwar that “Harun took him from Madina ten days from the end of the month of Shawwal 177 Hijiri. Then Harun set out for Makka and took the Imam with him when he returned to Basra and had him imprisoned with Issa. About one year later he was taken out of the Basran prison and taken to Baghdad.
He was put in prison there under the watchful eye of the cruelest person named al-Sindi. Majlisi goes on to say that the Imam died in his prison and was buried in the cemetery of Quraish on the south side of Baghdad.
Al-Fakhri adds,” Al-Rashid was at Rakka and sent orders that he should be put to death. They then brought a number of so called reputable men to Karkh to act as coroners and to testify publicly that the Imam died a natural death.
The place he was buried was a cemetery of the Quraish. But soon this place became the focus of pilgrimage on the grave of the Imam. A town grew around the grave yard. The name of the town became Kazimiya, the town of the Imam Kazim (as) A reputed school of theology was founded in this town which is still a source of learning for many students from all over the world.
Born in Madina 11th Zeeqaad 148 Hijri (1.1.766 AD). Died in the city of Tus Iran on 17th Safar 203 Hijri (26.5.819 AH) Period of Imamate 20 years.
His grandfather Imam Ja’far Al-sadiq (as) died one month before the birth of Imam Ridha’ (as) The family must have been consoled by his birth which took place after such a great loss. He was brought up and instructed by his affectionate father under whose supervision he passed his boyhood and youth. He availed himself of the instructions of his learned father for thirty one years, till the later was taken to Baghdad to suffer the hardship of imprisonment for four years till his death.
Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (as) could foresee that the hostile Abbasid ruler would not allow him to live peacefully and circumstances would take such a turn that his followers would not be able to see him or enquire about his successor prior to his death.
So while free and undisturbed in Madinah he felt the need to introduce his successor to his followers. He, therefore, assembled seventeen prominent dignitaries from the descendants of Imam ‘Ali (as) and proclaimed that his son ‘Ali Ibn Musa (as) would succeed him.
He also wrote his will on which 60 respected elders of Madinah signed as witnesses. Such elaborated arrangements were never made by any other Imam and they proved to be most appropriate due to the controversy about the Imamate which ensued after the death of Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (as) .
Imam Ridha’ (as) was 35 years old when his father died in prison of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad and the responsibilities of the Imamate devolved on him. At that time Harun Al-Rashid was the absolute ruler of Baghdad and the descendants of Imam ‘Ali (as) were passing as ever, through trials and tribulations because of the tyranny of the Abbasid ruler.
Yet Imam Ridha’ (as) carried on the responsibility of administering the Divine Law of Shari’ah as taught by the Holy Prophet and Imams of the Ahlul Bayt after him.
After putting an end to the life of Imam Musa Ibn Jaa’far (as) Harun al-Rashid lived for ten years. He had less tolerance for the existence of Imam ‘Ali Ridha’ (as) , then he did for his revered father. But he also knew that his Government had already lost face due to its prolonged maltreatment and eventual assassination of Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (as) or perhaps the tyrant felt the stings of conscience which kept him from harassing the 8th Imam.
It is said that once Yahya Barmaki, his Prime Minister, in order to gain the ruler’s favor, informed Harun that Imam ‘Ali Ibn Musa (as) claimed Imamate in the same way his father had done, Harun coldly replied, “We have already inflicted cruelties on his father, do you expect me to annihilate this family altogether.
Still, Harun was antagonistic towards the Prophet’s descendants and persisted in maltreatment of most of them in Madina. The local Governors of Madina who wished to please the ruler could not afford to be fair to Ahlul Bayt. People could not visit the Imam freely seek his knowledge, and he had little chance to teach his followers openly, for the eyes of the agents of Caliph focused unceasingly on the activities of the Imam.
Political wranglings in Baghdad between the two sons of Harun were rocking the Empire. His elder son Amin who had an Arab mother had the support of the Arabs and most of the Abbasid elders, while the younger son Mamun had a Persian mother and was supported by the Persians.
To console both factions Harun took a pledge from both his sons that after his death Amin will rule the Arab part of the Empire while Mamun will rule the Persian side.
When Harun died in faraway Tus, the most northern town of his Persian Empire, Mamun was with him and buried him there. Amin in Baghdad immediately proclaimed himself the Caliph of the whole empire and immediately deposed Mamun from the rulership of the Persian Province. Mamun’s main concern was to subdue the Persian province under any circumstances.
He realized that the majority of Persians favored the teachings of Ahlul Bayt and if somehow he could persuade the Imam of the Ahlul Bayt in Madina to side with him, he could confirm his rule there. Once he felt secure on that side of the Empire, he would then rise against his brother and easily depose him.
So the orders were sent out for the Imam to leave his home in Madina and go to the Abbasid ruler in faraway Tus. Imam, as if by some miracle knew what was to come. So he left his wife and only son Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali al Jawad, later known as Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) in Madina.
He also called many elders of Madina mostly from Banu Hashim and told them of his call to go to the outpost of the Empire to see Mamun. The date of his departure was in the month of Rajab 200 Hijri. It was a long journey to Merve and the Imam set out on this momentous journey with some of his friends who were loyal to him throughout his life.
His journey began from Madina to Makka where he performed the Umra, then he took almost the same route as Imam Husayn (as) took in 61 hijri towards Karbala’. Half way through the hills of Hejaz when he crossed over to the desert of Najd his route changed to that of Imam Husayn (as) and his caravan moved towards the eastern side and reached the town of Basra in the month of Shawwal.
From Basra he crossed over the Shatt-al-Arab and reached the Persian soil heading towards the town of Qum. It was in the month of Zilhijja that he reached Qum where he stayed for a while. The month of Muharram the 8th Imam spent in Qum where it is said that he established for the first time a Majlis to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (as).
This was the first Muharram in 201 Hijri that set the tradition of Majlis, beginning in Persia the way the Imams of Ahlul Bayt had wanted it and the way it was observed in Madina and Makka and throughout the province of Hejaz and Najd and to some extent in Iraq where people thronged for pilgrimage to the Shrine of Imam Husayn (as) .
After spending the Month of Muharram in Qum the Imam proceeded towards the northern part of Persia crossing the Alburz mountains to the town of Merv where Mamun had settled with his army to secure his empire for him.
It is thought in some historical circles that the 8th Imam involved himself in politics while his ancestors up to the 7th Imam after the martyrdom of Imam ‘Ali (as) refrained from this journey. Outwardly it looks like the Imam was abandoning the policy of his predecessors for the Imam could not be the heir- apparent to the caliphate without becoming involved in the politics of the day.
The Imam took pains, however, to indicate that it was not his desire, but that he was acting only in accord with the summons he had received from Mamun. He seemed to have no choice but to proceed on this hazardous journey.
Indeed if he had refused to proceed or shown any reluctance, force would surely have been used which would have been more humiliating for the Imam and his family.
Yakubi in his history gave some details of this journey. From Qum the Imam moved north to the town of al-ray, the Greek Rhages, which is near the site of the present city of Tehran. From this place the caravan continued its journey until it reached the city of Tus. From Tus they travelled on to the city of Merv, in what is now modern Turkistan.
On his arrival in Merv, Mamun welcomed him with great ceremony and pomp. Mamun treated the Imam with great honor.
It is mentioned by various historians, Both of Shia and Sunni schools of thought, that when Mamun initially offered the Imam his throne, the Imam declined the offer firmly and resolutely. After several attempts to bring the Imam to accept the offer failed, Mamun told him to accept the offer of being his heir- apparent to succeed him after Mamun’s death.
Imam replied to this offer, “ I will accept this to console you, but this will never happen for I will leave this world before you.” Once Mamun achieved his desire to get the consent of the Imam as his successor, he declared this openly to all in order to see the reaction of the Abbasid clan who were favoring his half-brother Amin.
According to Yakubi it was on the 27th of Ramadan, in the year 201 Hijri that the Imam was officially designated as Mamun’s “heir- apparent,”( Wali’ahd,) and the Imam’s name was included with his own on gold and silver coins. The inscription on these coins is well worthy of notice: “The King of God and the faith, Al-Mamun, Amir and Khalifa of the faithful, and Al-Ridha’, the Imam of the Muslims.”
This meant more than that the Imam was to be official chaplain to him for Mamun summoned the descendants of Abbas, men and women to come to Merv. It was an assembly of thirty three thousand and when they all assembled, the caliph Mamun called for ‘Ali al- Ridha’ (as) and gave him a place of honor among the greatest of the Abbasid nobles.
He then announced to those he had summoned, that he had carefully considered all the descendants of Abbas and also the descendants of ‘Ali, and that he had not found in his search anyone more worthy or more fit to be his successor than ‘Ali al- Ridha’.
He therefore took him by the hand and publicly acknowledged him as his successor(Kulaini). He then gave his daughter Umme Habib in marriage. He also sent abroad the command that the wearing of black flags which was the symbol of Abbasid rule after the destruction of the Ummayads, should be discontinued and that hereafter the use of green should be substituted. Green being the color of Ahlul Bayt and the House of ‘Ali (as) was the order of the day.
Once this story of succession was announced Mamun’s political ambition was achieved. He secured the help of the Persians fully behind him. With their help his army invaded the capital of the Abbasid empire, Baghdad, Amin was killed and his head was sent to Mamun to see for himself that he had become the sole ruler of the Abbasid Empire.
But Mamun was still not secure on his throne. The Arab party who sided with Amin, never liked the appointment of Imam ‘Ali al- Ridha’ (as) as the successor of Mamun, no matter how dubious it looked to them on the face of it.
The chiefs of the Abbasid family in Iraq perceived that by this appointment the principal authority in the empire would very likely be taken from them. They got together, therefore, and proclaimed that for bequeathing the Caliphate after his death to the Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as), who was not their immediate family, Mamun himself was declared deposed.
They swore allegiance to Ibrahim al Mehdi, Mamun’s uncle as their new caliph. This proclamation took place on the 5th of Muharram 202 Hijri.
While Imam Ridha’ was with Mamun in Merv, his Prime Minister Fadl ibn Sahl arranged a conference on religions to which he invited the leaders of different sects, including Zoroastrians and Christians and Jews, that they might hear what the Imam of the Ahlul Bayt had to say to impress them of their spiritual abilities and excellences.
It was in these discussions with leaders of other faiths that the Imam clarified the position of sinlessness of the Prophets and of the guided Imams. These conferences were so successful that at one stage Mamun was fearful of the increasing influences of the Imam on the people as a whole.
In one such incidence on the occasion of the Eidul Fitr, the whole strategy of Mamun and the shear hypocrisy of the drama he was playing was exposed. He had asked the Imam to lead the Eidul Fitr prayers at the end of Ramadan that year. First the Imam declined, but when Mamun insisted, he agreed on the condition that he will direct the occasion as he would deem fit.
On the morning of the Eidul Fitr, when the military and civil leaders assembled outside the door of the Imam to come out and lead the prayers, they saw the Imam come out of the house bare foot, wearing a white shirt and white headgear. Imam also advised his companions to follow him in the same manner. He came out on the Road to the mosque outside the city of Merv.
All the citizens who saw the Imam in this fashion copied him and all walked barefoot. Even the military chiefs and civil judges walked bare foot. A huge crowd followed the Imam. He was saying Takbir loudly and all were following him and shouting Takbir (God is great).
The situation became so tense that when Mamun was informed of this huge following of the Imam he immediately sent a request to the Imam to withdraw from leading the Eid prayers. Imam withdrew and it was a great show down for the Emperor and exposed his trickery to the full.
It was after about a year’s stay of the Imam in Merv that Mamun decided to do something about the situation in Iraq. He knew that his uncle Ibrahim al Mehdi had been proclaimed as Caliph there in his place. This was a thorn in his heart.
He decided that it was time for him to return from Khorasan and assert his rights in person. He had already strengthened his position due to the help of the Persians. With a huge army beside him Mamun prepared his journey back home.
He was accompanied, as Yakubi mentions it in his history, by Imam al Ridha’ (as) as his heir apparent and by his prime minister Fadl ibn Sahl, who was known as the holder of two offices, civil and military, being the Prime Minister as well as the chief of the Army.
But when they reached the town of Sarakhs, Fadl ibn Sahl was assassinated in his bath by two persons, Ghalib al Rumi and Sarraj al Khadim. They were found out by Mamun who immediately put them to death immediately that if there was any implication of Mamun in this murder it should not be exposed.
Mamun had his suspicions about his Prime Minister who was secretly gaining favor with the Abbasids in Baghdad. Historians did mention the name of Mamun in disposing off Fadhl ibn Sahl.
Within two days of this murder when the army reached the town of Tus, Imam Ridha’ fell ill and died within three days of his illness. Yakubi reported that “his sickness was no more than three days and it was reported that Ibn Hisham, Mamun’s favorite henchman had given the Imam poison which caused his death.
He mixed poison in grapes and when Imam had eaten the grapes he became ill in the same manner as Imam Hasan did and died within three days.”
Ibn Babawaih relates various reasons that have been assigned to Mamun for poisoning the Imam and shows also the circumstances in which Imam ‘Ali Ridha’ (as) is said to have designated his son Muhanmmad ibn ‘Ali as his successor to the Imamate.
Imam ‘Ali Ridha’ (as) died and was buried far off from Madina, the home of his forefathers of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. In Sanabad, about a mile from the village where he died, they placed him in a grave inside the tomb of Harun al- Rashid who was buried there ten years ago.
Mamun’s ambitions to get the Empire under his feet was almost accomplished for he knew that the army under his command would not run away from him at this juncture. So he cleverly killed off the Imam and reached Baghdad with the declaration that the Caliphate of Banu Abbas would remain in the family. Ibrahim al Mehdi was deposed and later killed and Mamun became the supreme leader.
Usually, the poor who cannot afford to enjoy the pleasures of life are held in contempt or just tolerated by the society. But those who assume a hermits’ simple austerity in spite of wealth and power are the real saints.
The Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet adopted a peculiar policy. Those whose means were limited dressed nicely because otherwise their adversaries would taunt them as destitutes which would injure the dignity of their piety.
But blessed were those who by chance became wealthy, and who assumed simplicity and austerity so their simple life became a source of consolation for the poor and a model for the rich. This can be illustrated from the life of Imam ‘Ali (as) . For nearly five years he ruled the Muslim world as caliph. He ate and dressed himself as a hermit would.
Imam ‘Ali al- Ridha’ (as) too, led a simple life, though he was the heir- apparent of the vast Arab Empire compared to which the Roman Empire or the Persian territories would certainly not be a match. A vast chain of countries whose caliph's upon watching a passing cloud, would arrogantly assert: “Go and pour your waters anywhere you please; the revenues of that land shall ultimately be brought to us”.
The appointment of Imam ‘Ali al -Ridha’ (as) as heir apparent demonstrated to the world how the saints fare when the treasures of the world are put at their feet. He felt he was morally bound to abandon riches and pomp. History repeated itself, and the austerity of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) once more was shown in the calm and content personality of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as).
He did not like to decorate his house with expensive carpets, instead he covered its floor with rough mats during the winter and grass mats during the summer. When food was served, he would call all his servants, including the gatekeeper to sit and eat with him.
Majlisi in Biharul Anwar V 49 Page 101, writes that our 8th Imam insisted on eating his meals only after the entire members of his family, young and old, servants and grooms were present. One day someone who was fonder of royal formalities than the fraternity of the Ahlul Bayt, suggested that it would be better to make separate eating arrangements for the servants, The Imam replied, "All are created by God, Adam is their father and Eve is their mother. Everyone will be dealt with by God according to his deeds. Why should there be any discrimination in this world."
Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’’s (as) life contains countless anecdotes of this sort. Once a man said to him, "By God, there is none who is superior to you in the nobleness of your ancestry.” The Imam said to him, “My ancestors are honored merely for their Godliness, piety and worship.” Another man once declared,” By God, you are the best in the world.”
The Imam checked him by saying: “Don’t you declare an oath. Any man who is more pious than me can be better than me.” Imam several times declared the Hadith of the Prophet that a black negro slave can be better than a person from my own family if his deeds are better.
As mentioned earlier, when Imam ‘Ali Al-Riza was on his journey to Khorasan he stayed in the city of Qom for a few months and there he established these commemorative Majalis. In Tus where he stayed for over a year as heir apparent to the Emperor, Imam re-established these Majalis there too. This tradition was initiated by Imam Muhammad al Baqir (as) and then continued by the 6th Imam. But during those times, only those who came to visit the Imams in their homes were narrated these stories.
But Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) was respected both as Imam and heir apparent. Merv, the capital and a central city of Persia of that time, was the meeting place of people from all walks of life and from all corners of the earth. As soon as the crescent of Muharram was sighted, Majalis of Karbala’ began. Everybody was expected to recite the sad events that befell the Prophet’s descendants and maintain a serious atmosphere of sorrow and grief.
Imam himself convened these Majalis in which he recited first, then allowed others to read the story of Karbala’. Abdallah ibn Thabit and D’bil al Khuzai were the poets who asked to recite poems narrating the tragic events.
At the end of such a majlis the Imam bestowed on the poet a costly shirt. The humble poet refused to accept such a precious gift, requesting that the Imam be gracious to grant him his used shirt instead. The good natured saint insisted on granting him both shirts, the new one and his own old shirt.
This incident proves two things: First, that the speaker in these majalis must not decide or demand any payment for his address, second that if the convener presents something as a gift or payment, the speaker may accept it.
To get an insight into the lives and activities of the Imam, let me give a few anecdotes from the pages of history to establish his manner and his behavior with other people.
One day a man approached the Imam and said, “ I am one of your followers and have love for the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. I am now returning from pilgrimage to Makka and I am now penniless and have no money to return home.
If you think it proper, please give me enough money so that I can reach home. After reaching home, I will give the same amount to the poor in your name. I am not poor at home, it is during my travels that I have spent more than I should have and become penniless.
Imam got up, and went inside the house. He then called the man to the door, extended his hand from behind the curtain and handed him the required amount, saying, “Take these two hundred Dinars. These are your travel expenses, and may this bring you the blessings of God. There is no need to give equivalent money to the poor but if you feel you must then you may give it to the orphans and the widows of your town.”
The man took the money and left. The Imam came out from behind the curtain and resumed his seat. People asked, “Why did you adopt such a way that the man could not see you while you were giving the money.” Imam replied, “ I did not want to see the shame of supplication on his face.” (Ayoun Akhbar al Riza)
Mohammed ibn Sinan reports that during the caliphate of Haroun, they once warned the Imam about declaring his Imamate as the caliph would try to harm him. The Imam replied, “ What gave me courage are the words of the Prophet when he said, “ If Abu Jehl can harm even a hair of my head, then be witness that I am not the messenger of God.”
And I say that “ if Haroun can harm even a hair of my head, then be witness that I am not a true Imam." (Kafi)
Abu Salt Harvi reports that Imam left Nishapur and reached a village called Din-Surkh, it was the time of Zohr prayers. Imam descended from the horse he was travelling and asked for water to perform the Zohr prayers. No water was found. Then the Imam with his holy hands dug some earth and a spring gushed out Imam and all his companions performed the wuzu.
This place near Nishapur is now called Qadamgah. It is a small hillock. The spring still gushes and people who visit this place drink from the spring for blessing and for obtaining cures from sickness and skin diseases. The place preserves the Holy foot prints of the Imam on a black stone. (Akhbar al Riza)
One of the famous saying of Imam ‘Ali Al-Riza is,
“ This world is a prison for a momin and a paradise for the unbeliever.”
This means that a true believer always aspires to leave this prison of his body and his Nafs and Ruh wants to get away to the nearness of God, but those who do not believe have nothing further than their mortal lives and they aspire to make it a paradise.
But in the process they create their own hell on earth for their aspirations are never ending desires for accumulating material wealth.
Born in Madina, 10th Rajab 195 Hijri (12.4.811 AD). Died in Baghdad Iraq 29th Zeeqad 220 Hijiri (27.11.835, aged 25 years, Period of Imamate 17 years.
At the time of the death of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) our 9th Imam was only 9 years old. Some people from among the followers of Ahlul Bayt and others, doubted Imam’s eligibility to become Imam at this young age. Kulaini in his Kafi relates that the Mutawalli of the Holy Ka’aba questioned Imam for several days before he was satisfied and accepted him as the Imam of the Time.
It is an undeniable fact that the whole episode of the call for Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) to Tus, and his appointment as heir apparent to Mamun was a game played for political convenience to get the sympathies and support of the Persians to get his empire back from his step brother Amin. Once this was achieved Mamun had the Imam poisoned to get him out of his way.
But the fact is that Mamun being the most learned among all the Abbasid rulers, was aware that the family of the Prophet had a special type of knowledge which should be appreciated and be known to other people as long as power remained in Mamun’s hands and his authority remained supreme. This became apparent when he arrived in Baghdad victorious.
He began a policy of reconciliation with the Abbasid elders and also with those who had inclinations towards the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. He reappointed Hasan ibn Sahl as Governor of Iraq who had openly supported the cause of Ahlul Bayt. Ibn Sahl being a scholarly person, co-operated handsomely in the literary and cultural interest in the Emperor’s Court.
For in spite of the fact that there was warfare and political turmoil in all directions during the reign of Mamun, the period marks perhaps the apex of the oriental renaissance. There was freedom of speech and expression which resulted in open discussions on many issues which were taboos previously.
Most significant for the life of Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) was the fact that Mamun’s favors towards the Ahlul Bayt did not cease because of their scholarly and intellectual approach to Islam. Although after arriving in Baghdad Mamun replaced the Hashemite Green color to the black color of the Abbasids on flags and court dresses, he still encouraged the intellectuals to engage in open discussions about the concept of power and authority.
Indeed he took that action as political necessity for he did not want to alienate his Persian friends and supporters. For not only prominent friends of Ahlul Bayt were appointed to responsible positions, but particular public favor was shown to the family of the deceased Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as).
One of the Imam’s brothers was chosen to preside at the annual pilgrimage in Makka, and it was but a short time until Mamun married his own daughter Umme Fadhl to Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) According to Yakubi, Mamun bestowed upon the bride groom one hundred thousand Dirhams, and said, “Surely I would like to be a grandfather in the line of the Apostle of God and of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as).
It is a well-known fact that the Imam gave all this money to the poor rather than spend it upon himself, which his wife Umme Fadhl, who was the daughter of Mamun did not like at all and complained to her father about this. But Mamun knew the ways of Ahlul Bayt, rejected her complaints and told her to live like the wife of an Imam of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet.
The story of Mamun’s first meeting with the young son of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) is interesting. One day, when the young Imam was only nine years old, the caliph Mamun went out hunting. The Imam was standing silently by the road side where some children were playing. The caliphs entourage came that way. Seeing the soldiers of the caliph all the children ran away, but the young Imam remained standing at his place.
Noting this, Mamun stopped his carriage and asked, “Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?”
The Imam replied calmly, “ Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked."
Mamun was surprised with this mature reply and asked, “ What is your name?”
“Muhammad,” came the reply. Whose son are you? asked Mamun. "Son of ‘Ali ibn Musa (as) ."
Mamun rode on. During his hunt the hawk returned to him with a fish in its beak. Mamun was surprised. He returned back toward the city. Once again, he found children playing on the same spot, who ran away seeing the caliph’s soldiers, except this young man who said he was Muhammad son of ‘Ali ibn Musa (as) who remained where he was.
Mamun hid the fish in his palm, stopped his carriage near the Imam and said, “Tell me, what is there in my fist?” The Imam replied, “God created clouds between earth and sky. The hawks of kings sometimes catch fish from there and bring it to the Kings. They hide it in their fist and ask a member of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, “Tell me what is there in my fist.”
Mamun said, “ Truly, you are the worthy son of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) (Bihar-al Anwar ,Majlisi). Mamun took the young Imam with him, and let him live in a nearby house next to the Royal Palace.
It was during this stay of the 9th Imam nearby that Mamun had the chance of seeing him closely and gaining an insight into the intellectual abilities of this pious household.
Mamun convened many conferences during this period in which many intellectuals and scholars assembled in order to listen and learn from the Young Imam. Mamun told the Abbasid hierarchy that Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’’s son was no doubt a boy of tender age, but he had inherited his father’s virtues and qualities in full.
The learned scholars of the Islamic world could not compete with him. If they doubted, they could put the young Imam to the test. This reply, though totally said in jest, amounted to a challenge. Impulsed by Mamun’s taunts they consented to judge the boy’s knowledge in a contest with the most learned authority then, namely Yahya ibn Aaktham.
Mamun convened a magnificent gathering for this open contest. There was anxiety to see this unequal match where a boy of Twelve was to contest with the seasoned and renowned Chief Justice of the Abbasid Empire. People crowded from every quarter. Historians have recorded that apart from dignitaries and nobles, 900 seats were reserved for scholars only. Mamun’s’ reign was described as the golden age of learning.
Experts of every trade and profession assembled in that great capital from every corner of the Empire. Mamun had a carpet laid by the side of his throne to seat Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) . In front of him was accommodated the Chief Justice Yahya ibn Aktham. There was a pin drop silence among the audience who waited to hear the arguments.
Silence was broken by Yahya who said, “ Will His Majesty allow me to put some questions to Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) Mamun replied, “ You may seek permission from the Imam himself.”
Yahya said to the Imam, “ Do you allow me to put some questions to you?” “Yes, you may” replied the Imam. Yahya began by asking a question, “What is atonement for a person who hunts a game while he is dressed in the pilgrimage garb (‘Ahram).” The question itself indicated that Yahya underestimated the scholarly attainments of his opponent.
Drunk with the pride of position and knowledge, he thought that the young man might well be aware of simple daily routine problems of prayer or fasting, but the possibility that he might be totally ignorant of the statutes of pilgrimage or of the atonement of sins or mistakes committed by a pilgrim never entertained his mind.
The sagacious young Imam was clever enough for the seasoned enquirer. Instead of giving a general or a vague reply, he analyzed the different aspects of the problem so dexterously that the audience immediately had a true estimate of the Imam’s knowledge and of Yahya’s shallow mindedness. Yahya too was puzzled and felt humiliated when the Imam addressed him in the following manner:
“Your question is utterly vague and lacks definition. You should first clarify whether the game killed was outside the sanctified area or inside it; whether the hunter was aware of his sin or did so in ignorance; did he kill the game purposely or by mistake, was the hunter a slave or a free man, was he adult or minor, did he commit the sin for the first time or had he done so before, was the hunted game a bird or something else, was it a small animal or a big one, is the sinner sorry for the misdeed or does he insist on it, did he kill it secretly at night or openly during daylight, was he putting on the pilgrimage garb for Hajj or for the Umra? Unless you clarify and define these aspects, how can you have a definite answer?”
Whatever Yahya’s knowledge might have been, he was undoubtedly a well-read man in Jurisprudence. While the Imam was unfolding all such details of the problem, he had judged that he was no match for his ingenious opponent. His face lost color and the audience realized the situation well. His lips were sealed and he made no reply. Mamun fully assessed his condition and thought it was useless to put any further pressure on him.
He then requested the Imam to solve all the aspects of the question. Yahya silent and puzzled, gazed at the Imam. But Mamun was bent on carrying the matter to the end. He therefore requested the Imam to put some questions to Yahya if he liked. The Imam then said to Yahya, “ May I ask you a question? Disillusioned, Yahya who now had the true estimate of the Imam’s capacity and had no misunderstanding about his own worth, said in a humble tone,”
Your grace can ask, I shall reply if I can or I shall get it solved by your own self.” Then the Imam put a question in reply to which Yahya admitted his ignorance. The Imam explained it too. Mamun's joy knew no bounds. What he had asserted came true.
Addressing the audience he said, “Did I not tell you that the people of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet have been gifted by God with limitless knowledge? None can cope with even the children of this elevated House.”
The excitement of the gathering was great. All unanimously exclaimed that Mamun’s guess was correct and that the Imam Muhammad Taqi al Jawad (as) was a matchless person. The Emperor then thought it advisable to marry his daughter to Imam there and then.
The Imam himself recited the marriage Khutba. This address (Khutba) became so famous that as a remembrance, it has been recited at weddings everywhere throughout the Muslim world ever since. Over joyed at this auspicious occasion Mamun displayed his full generosity, giving away millions in charity to the poor.
When the people departed and a few of the courtiers remained including the Chief Justice Yahya ibn Akhtham, Mamun asked the Imam to tell them the law concerning the aspects into which the killing of the animal was done by a Muhrim. (Meaning a pilgrim in Aahram)
“Yes,” replied the Imam. “ If he had killed the animal outside the sacred ground and it was winged and large ,an atonement of sheep would have been necessary for him. If he had struck it down in the sanctuary, the penalty required of him would be doubled.
If he killed a young bird outside the sacred ground, then the atonement of a lamb which had been weaned off milk would have been required of him. If he had killed it in the sanctuary, then he would have been required to sacrifice a lamb and the value of the young bird. As for wild animals, if it was a wild ass, he would have been required to sacrifice a cow.
If it was an ostrich, the sacrifice of a camel would be necessary. If it had been a deer, then a sheep would have been necessary. If he had killed any of those in the sanctuary, the penalty would have been doubled. Imam continued to describe all avenues of penalties for the Muhrim to the astonishment of the audience.” ( Al Irshad by Mufid) “You have done well Abu Jaafar and God has adorned you,” said Mamun to him.
Imam Muhammed Taqi (as) occupied the highest position in human virtues and moral attainments as this was the marked feature of the Prophet’s family. It was customary for the Imam to meet everyone humbly, fulfill the needs of the poor, maintain Islamic requisites of equality and simplicity, help the poor secretly, treat even foes fairly, extend hospitality, impart true Islamic knowledge to all and specially to the scholars of religion and the like, marked his saintly life-in full conformity with other members of this sacred series of infallible Imams.
Common people who could not appreciate such heights of moral excellence, might have thought the new relationship, i.e. to become son-in-law of the most influential monarch of his time, must influence the pattern of life of the Imam and change his manners altogether.
Mamun too, might have thought on the same lines because spiritualism which was the chief characteristic of this household was against the practices of worldly rulers. It could be said that neither the Ummayads nor the Abbasids had any personal grudge against the Prophet or his family, the Ahlul Bayt, but they were at war with the moral standards set by them.
They always tried to destroy the center of moral excellence and human values which was shown as the polar star of ideal spiritual perfection, overshadowing their royal glory.
In order to uphold their imperialistic and luxurious norms of life, these monarchs wanted to do away with these godly saints who demonstrated righteousness, compassion, faith, piety, fraternity and justice as the main teachings of Islam. Yazid’s demand of obedience from Imam Husayn (as) or Mamun’s appointment of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) as his heir-apparent were two different aspects of the same desire.
The procedures were different but the end purpose was the same. Imam Husayn (as) did not bow to pay homage, so he was slain in the battlefield. Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) did not serve the cause of Abbasid imperialism, so he was silenced with poison.
Mamun, however, took it as a great opportunity to serve his objective to patron the Imam who was only a young man. The political sagacity suggested that it would be far easier to cast a young man into the desired mold and thus it would be possible to demolish the center of the Prophet’s teachings in Madina or elsewhere in the Islamic world which, although working silently, was dangerous to the imperialistic designs of the antithesis called Muslim Monarchy.
No doubt Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) did not conform to Mamun’s designs, or to his desires, but this could not disappoint him. Imam Ridha’’s mature way of thinking and simple way of life could not be changed.
But there was the hope that in all probability a man of a tender young age, who was brought up in the luxurious atmosphere of a Royal Palace would grow into an ambitious merrymaking prince, altogether against his ancestral ways and views.
With the exception of a few enlightened persons, everybody would think on the same lines. But the world stood aghast to see that the young son-in-law of the most distinguished monarch of his time refused to stay in the royal palace and lived instead in a small house, thus maintaining the Islamic values of virtue and ethics of a simple and humble life.
It is usually seen that if the bride’s people are comparatively rich, they wish that the groom might live with them, if not in the same house, at least in the same town and in a house of the same standard.
The Will power of the Imam can be judged from the fact that he lived in a separate dwelling and of a humble standard in Baghdad. After one year when Mamun realized that the Imam was not pleased with staying in Baghdad, he allowed the couple to go to live in Madina.
On his return to Madina the Imam maintained the same ancestral unimposing behavior: no body guards, no pomp, no restrictions on people meeting him, no visiting times, and no discriminations against anyone meeting the Imam and learning from him.
He spent most of his day time sitting in the Mosque of the Prophet where Muslims came to avail from his knowledge and preaching. The narrators of Hadith and other students of theology came to enquire about religious sciences and the Imam guided them by explaining every complicated matter. All the world saw that Imam Ja’far Sadiq’s successor, seated on the same mat, was guiding the people towards piety which was the hall mark of Islam.
Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) allowed the same amount of freedom to his wife Umme Fadhl and imposed the same restrictions on her as his ancestors had done in the case of their wives. He did not care much about the fact that Umme Fadhl was a princess.
Although she lived with him, he married another lady who was a descendant of Ammare Yasir. God had intended to continue the line of Imamate through her and she gave birth to Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) the tenth Imam.
Imam Muhammad Taqi’s speech was very charming and effective. Once during the Hajj season he addressed a gathering of the pilgrims and stated commandments of the Divine Law of Sharia’a. The audience included learned scholars who admitted that they had never heard such an eloquent and comprehensive speech.
Many scholars came to learn the teachings of Ahlul Bayt. A collection of brief and wise sayings is also left by the Imam, resembling the wisdom of his ancestor Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) Some profound discourses on theology and monotheism are also to his credit.
Mamun died in 218 Hijri (833 AD). As long as he lived no harm came to the Imam. Mamun was succeeded by his brother Mu’taman, the second heir-apparent after Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) . He came to be known as Al-Mu’tasim billah Abbasi.
His niece Umme Fadhl now began to write to him complaining more than she did during the reign of her father because Mamun always rejected her complaints. But Mu’tasim was jealous of Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ (as) from the very beginning. He had also opposed the marriage of Umme Fadhl to Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) .
Al- Mu’tasim now got a chance to settle his differences in this matter. Imam Muhammad Taqi’s (as) fame as a great scholar and the constant gathering of people around him as well as the fame of his world renown noble character annoyed him.
The failure of the political tactics too, intensified his resentment. All these factors irritated him into enmity. In the second year of his reign he summoned the Imam from Madina to Baghdad, ordering his Governor in Madina expressly about it. Imam was compelled to set out for Baghdad leaving his son ‘Ali ibn Muhammad (Naqi) with his mother in Madina.
For one year after the Imams’ arrival in Baghdad, Mu’tasim did not do anything. He was hoping that the Imam would conform to the Royal ways of living and then this would be a source of infamy for the Ahlul Bayt. But when he realized that the man was becoming more popular in Baghdad with his scholarly discourses with the scholars there, he had to act to stop this as all his ancestors did before him and use the silent weapon of poison to eliminate that thorn in his heart.
The Imam died of poison on the 29th of Zeeqa’ad 220 Hijiri (24.11.835 AD). He was buried by the side of his grandfather Imam Musa ibn Ja’far. It is because of the two Imam’s who were famous for their suppression of anger that the place was called Kazemain, the two Kazims, the enduring ones.
It is a fact that all Sayyids known as Razavi are actually Taqawi. Imam Ridha’ (as) had no son other than Imam Muhammad Taqi. Had he other sons then the Imam Muhammad Taqi then their offspring should have been called Razavi Sayyids. But as Imam Ridha’ (as) came to Iran and died in Tus many descendants of his son Imam Muhammad Taqi were also called Razavis.
One famous saying of the 9th Imam Muhammad Taqi al Jawad (as) follows:
Someone asked, “was the Messenger of God Muhammad ibn Abdullah an illiterate.” Imam replied, “No, the Messenger of God knew 72 languages in which he could read, write and speak.”
Someone asked the Imam about the Angels. What are they? The Imam replied, “ They are the powers of God that regulate the Universe.”
Born in Madina 5th Rajab 214 Hijri ( 8.9.829 AD). Died in Samarrah, Iraq 3rd Rajab 254 Hijri (1.7.868) aged 40 years. Period of Imamate 34 years.
The period of Imamate of our 10th Imam coincided with the decline of the power of the Abbasid Empire. They were threatened by the Turks and had to move the Capital from Baghdad to Samarrah. He was only 6 years old when his father Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) was martyred in Baghdad when poisoned by Mu’tasim Billah Abbasi.
Our Imam lived in Madina for the remaining 8 years of the reign of Mu’tasim and 5 years of the reign of Wathiq Billah. It was when Mutawakkil became caliph in 236 Hijiri (847 AD) the Imam was called over to the Abbasid capital Baghdad. Mutawakkil, was the cruelest and deadly enemy of the Ahlul Bayt (as) , who tried to drown the Grave of Imam Husayn (as) in Karbala’ by diverting the waters of the Euphrates River.
But by a miracle the river water encircled the grave and did not go over it in spite of the fact that the surrounding ground was higher. When the Caliph failed in his action of drowning the grave he ordered that the whole area should be turned into farmland but when horses failed to take the plough over the grave, he realized his folly.
Eventually he left the hallowed ground as it was but as long as he lived he forbade any pilgrimage to the Shrine of Imam Husayn (as) . History tells us that pilgrims to the grave of Sayyidush Shohada (as) did continue to go in spite of the danger to their lives. Indeed many were killed on their way to the Shrine but the enthusiasm to visit the grave never subsided.
It was during the reign of Mutawakkil that our 10th Imam was brought to the presence of the Caliph from Madina to Baghdad. Yakubi writes in his history of the time that once the raiding party of soldiers found the Imam on his prayer mat and took him away to the caliph in the same state. Mutawakkil was engaged in his nightly drinking and frolics and asked the Imam to join him. Imam declined replying, “A liquor such as that was never yet combined with my flesh and blood”.
The half-drunk caliph asked the Imam to read some poetry. Imam said that he did not indulge in such habits. But when the caliph insisted, the Imam recited the following lines (Ibn Khalikan narrated the story word for word).
“Protected by valiant warriors they passed the night on the summit of their mountains but these mountains did not protect them. After all their power and pomp they had to descend from their lofty fortresses to the custody of the tombs. O’what a dreadful change their graves had hardly received them when a voice heard exclaiming, “Where are the thrones and the crowns and the robes of State?
Where are now the faces of the delicate, which were shaded by veils and protected by curtains. To this the tomb replied. The worms are now reveling upon these faces. Long were these men eating and drinking, but now they are eaten by the worms in their turn.”
Many wept listening to these words uttered by the Imam. Caliph left the Imam alone for a while, but still kept him under house arrest. In the end Mutawakkil died in the hands of his protectors, the Turkish guards, and his son Muntasir became the next caliph.
Mutawakkil died in 250 Hijiri and Muntasir Billah assumed the caliphate. He ruled only 6 months. On his death Musta’een was enthroned. But soon he was also beheaded and succeeded by Mu’ta’z Billah. All this time our 10th Imam was either in Madina, or called by the Caliph to Samarrah where he spent the last days of his life under house arrest.
Caliph Mu’tasim remained preoccupied with war against the Byzantines and also with the troubles created by the Abbasids tribesmen in Baghdad. But he did not harass the Imam who carried his responsibilities peacefully. After Mu’tasim, Wathiq Billah too, treated the Imam fairly. But later when he was succeeded by his brother Mutawakkil, son of Mu’tasim, the period of persecution and tortures began in full scale for the Imam and for all members of his family. This ruler exceeded all his predecessors in bearing animosity towards Ahlul Bayt.
Our 10th Imam’s main occupation in Madina, whenever he was left in peace by the Caliphs in Baghdad, was to impart his knowledge to the people. He attracted pupils in large numbers from the provinces where adherents of Ahlul Bayt were strongest, namely Iraq, Persia and Egypt.
During the Eight years of the Caliphate of Mu’tasim and throughout the period of Wathik we do not hear that the Imam was molested. One of the most famous traditions he is said to have related, that had been written in the Sahifa by the hand of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as) at the direction of the Apostle of God, and inherited by the Imams from generation to generation is related.
It was that the Prophet had defined faith (Iman) as contained in the hearts of men, and that their works (A’amal) confirm it, whereas surrender (Islam) is what tongue expresses which validates the union. (Masudi,Muruj’l Dhahab.V.vii p 382).
Although the person of the Imam was not touched by the tyrannical caliphs for a while, they were always suspicions about his activities. Masudi narrates one such occasion when our Imam was called by Mutawakkil who was not happy about the methods of teachings in the schools in Madina.
Mutawakkil asked the Imam a question. “What does a descendant of your father have to say in regard to Al-Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib?” Imam answered, “What would a descendant of my father say O’Amir, in regard to a man whose sons required his people to obey, and who expected his sons to obey God.” Caliph was pleased with this reply and let the Imam go.”
And in the same connection Masudi quotes another incident, which Ibn Khalikan has incorporated in his description of our 10th Imam ‘Ali Al-Hadi (as) “Secret information had been given to Mutawakkil that the Imam had a quantity of arms, books and other objects for the use of his followers concealed in his house, and being induced by malicious reports he was led to believe that the Imam aspired to the Empire.
Once Mutawakkil sent some soldiers of the Turkish guard to break in on him when he least expected such a visit. They found him quite alone, locked up in his room, clothed in a hair shirt, his head covered with a woolen cloak and his face in the direction of Makka. He was reciting Verses of the Qur’an expressive of God’s promises and threats, and having no other carpet between him and the earth than sand and gravel.
He was carried off in that attire, and brought in the depth of the night, before Mutawakkil. When the caliph asked his captors about the arms and ammunitions found they said, there was nothing in the house which presents a threat to the throne. The caliph was ashamed of his misdeeds and let the Imam go.
During the Sixteen years of the Imamate, Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) had become famous throughout the Islamic world. Those who loved to learn the teachings of Ahlul Bayt always flocked around him. In the 4th year of Mutawakkil’s reign the Governor of Madina Abdallah ibn Hakim started harassing the Imam. He sent hostile reports against him to Baghdad.
He wrote to the Caliph that the Imam was assembling lot of supporters here which could be a danger to the security of the State. Imam became aware of this animosity and in order to counteract, he wrote a letter to Mutawakkil explaining the personal enmity of the Governor of Madina against him. As a political step Mutawakkil was quick to dismiss the Governor. At the same time he sent a regiment under the command of Yahya ibn Harthama who explained to the Imam in a friendly way that the caliph wished him to stay in Baghdad for a while.
He can then come back to Madina. The Imam knew well the motives behind this request. He realized that the polite invitation meant his banishment from his ancestral city. But to refuse to go was equally impossible for it would have resulted in forcible departure. Leaving the sacred city was painful to him as it had been for his respected forefathers, i.e. the Imam Husayn (as) in 60 Hijri, Imam Musa ibn Ja’far in 170 Hijiri and Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha’ in 200 Hijri and also of his father Imam Muhammad Taqi in 220 Hijri.
This type of harassment had almost become a heritage. Mutawakkil’s letter was respectful to the Imam and the military detachment which was sent to escort the Imam was actually a deceitful show. So when the Imam reached Samarrah and the Caliph was informed, he neither arranged for any reception no for his stay.
He was ordered to be accommodated in the wilderness of the city with beggars. Although the Ahlul Bayt as the descendants of the Prophet were gladly associated with the poor and the destitute, and they did not covet luxurious living, Mutawakkil meant to insult the Imam. The Caliph him over to the custody of his Secretary Razaqi and prohibited his meeting with others. It was almost a house arrest for the Imam.
It has been seen during the imprisonment of Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (as) that his moral charm had softened the cruel hearted guard’s attitudes towards the Imam. In the same way Razaqi was also impressed by the greatness of the Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) and began to provide for his comfort.
This leniency could not remain hidden from Mutawakkil who transferred the Imam to the custody of Sa’id, a cruel and ruthless man in whose imprisonment he spent twelve years. In spite of all the hardships he had to suffer there, the Imam passed his time in Ibadah.
He prayed during the night and fasted during the day. Although confined within the four walls of the house in Samarrah, his fame spread rapidly throughout the Provinces of Iraq. Every household in the city of Samarrah seemed to know the whereabouts of the Imam and somehow they got knowledge of Islam and of Ahlul Bayt from him.
Fadhl ibn Khaqan, a secret follower of Ahlul Bayt , had risen to the post of Minister in the cabinet of Mutawakkil solely by virtue of his intellectual and administrative merits. On his recommendation, Mutawakkil ordered that the Imam’s imprisonment be changed to a house arrest.
He granted him a piece of land and allowed him to build a house and live there. Sa’id was directed to keep a close watch over the activities of the Imam. His house was often searched for subversive activities but nothing was ever found.
During this period too, Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) set an admirable example of trust in God, ignoring all worldly gains. In spite of permanent residence in Samarrah, the Imam neither made a protest to the Caliph, nor did he ever ask for any favors. The same worshipping and hermit-like life that he led during his imprisonment was passed in this state of house arrest.
The tyrant changed his behavior but the saint had maintained his own. Even in such circumstances he was not allowed to live peacefully. His followers were not allowed to approach him openly to gain the true Islamic knowledge from the Imam. But he endured all hardships for the sake of giving knowledge to all who sought that from him. Mutawakkil knew that and continued with persecuting the followers of the Imam.
Another event of these wretched times was equally painful. Ibn as-Sakkit of Baghdad, the acknowledged scholar of lexicography and syntax, was tutor of Mutawakkkil’s son. One day the cruel ruler asked him: “Are my two sons more respectable than Hasan and Husayn?” Ibn Sakkit was a true follower of Ahlul Bayt. On this question he could not control his feelings and flatly replied, “Not to speak of Hasan and Husayn (as), Imam ‘Ali’s slave Qamber is more respectable than both of your sons”.
Hearing these words Mutawakkil was outraged and ordered that Ibn Sakkit’s tongue should be cut off. The order was carried out immediately leading to the death of the most excellent artist of the time and a true follower of Ahlul Bayt. Imam ‘Ali Naqi, was not himself physically connected with these events, but each of these was a like a blow of the sword not striking the neck but torturing the soul.
Mutawakkil’s cruelties caused common hatred and even his own children set their hearts against him. One of them Al-Muntasir, conspired with his slave Al-Rumi to murder his father while he was asleep using his own sword, thus the world had a sigh of relief. The death of the tyrant and the caliphate of al-Muntasir were proclaimed. After the assuming of power, Al-Mustasir revoked the unjust orders of his father.
The Visiting of the Shrines of Najaf and Karbala were permitted without any restrictions. The tombs received minor repairs. The Caliph’s conduct towards Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) was also fair. But this Caliph’s life was short and he died after a brief rule of only six months. After him, Al-Musta’een too displayed no maltreatment towards the Imam.
As stated, Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) had built a house in Samarrah and did not go back to Madina either of his own free will or under the orders of these rulers. Due to his continued stay there and the lack of interference by the regime, the students, thirsty for knowledge, thronged around him to learn the teachings of Ahlul Bayt.
This alarmed Al-Mu’taz so much that he decided to end the sacred life of the Imam. He arranged through some courtiers to mix poison in his food. The Imam died soon after eating the poisonous food.
Imam ‘Ali Naqi’s conduct and moral excellence were the same as those displayed by each and every member of this sacred house. Whether in Imprisonment, confinement or freedom, in every case these sacred souls were engaged in worship and in helping the poor and the needy.
Totally refraining from desire, greed and worldly ambitions, they lived dignified in misfortune, dealt fairly even with their foes. To help the destitute, were the qualities marking their conduct. The same virtues were reflected in the life of Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) .
During imprisonment, the Imam had a grave dug up ready by the side of his prayer mat. Some visitors expressed concern or surprise. The Imam explained, “ In order to remember my end I keep the grave before my eyes.”
The Imam died in Sarammara, the funeral was attended only by his son Imam Hasan al Askari who led the funeral prayers and arranged his burial, laying him to rest in his house.
Born in Madina on the 10th of Rabuil Akhar 232 Hijri ( 6.12.846 AD) Died in Samarrah Iraq on 8th of Rabiul Awwal 260 Hijri (4.1.874) aged 28 years. Period of Imamate 6 years.
Samarra (Surre Mun Ra’) was a garrison town about 60 miles north of Baghdad. River Euphrates flows in the middle of the town, and because of the surrounding hills a cool breeze keeps the area cooler in comparison to Baghdad. The word ‘Asker’ in Arabic is used for army. Our 11th Imam’s title became known as Askari, the one who lived all his life in a garrison town.
There is another story related with this name by many historians. Once the Caliph called him in his palace and ordered his army to march past before him. The Caliph wanted to boast or to impress the Imam of his power or to dissuade the Imam from any thoughts of revolution against the Abbasid Caliphate.
When the march past was over, Imam asked the Caliph to gaze between two of his fingers. What the Caliph saw was a huge army of lancers and swords men marching past, a much bigger crowd than the Caliphs army. He was astonished at this miracle and named him Askari, i.e. the man with a big army.
Imam Hasan al Askari’s (as) life from childhood to adulthood was spent in this house where his father Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) was to remain under house arrest. But despite this close guard on the Imam, he conducted his duties as Imam from inside the house.
He taught people Qur’an and instructed his followers the true teachings of Islam as taught by the Prophet of Islam and his Ahlul Bayt. In fact Imam Hasan al-Askari wrote a complete Tafseer of the Qur’an which was mentioned by many scholars, historians and exegetes, including Kulaini and Saduq.
Imam’s life in Samarrah was not in peace even under house arrest. From time to time he was taken to Baghdad, questioned and put in prison there. On one such occasion, the Imam was taken by the Turkish guards to Baghdad where he was kept in prison during the short reign of the Caliph al-Muktadi and al-Mu’tamid afterwards.
While he was a prisoner in Baghdad there was a severe draught. Rain had not fallen for some time and crops were drying up. People were facing a famine. They did not know what to do. A Christian priest came to the rescue. He lifted his hands in prayer and rain fell. The Caliph became concerned lest for this reason people would forsake Islam and become Christians.
When the Imam was consulted, he said that when people assembled to see the so called miracle performed by the Christian priest, he would remove their doubts. The Imam was allowed to leave the prison to go where the crowd assembled to see the miracle performed by the priest.
Imam stood there with the crowd and when the priest raised his hands for prayer and rain began to fall, Imam told one of his companions to seize the hands of the priest and bring the piece of bone hidden in his hands.
When this bone was brought before the Imam, he said that it was the bone of a Prophet of God. It was the effect of this holy bone when lifted in prayers to God that brought God's mercy and brought rain to the land. This way the Imam lifted the doubts from the minds of the people. After this the Imam himself spread his prayer mat and performed two Rak’ats of prayers then lifted his bare hands to God for rain to come to the land and wipe out the draught.
The Imam’s prayers were heard by the Almighty and rain fell so much that the land became fertile again and crops began to grow. (Kulaini, Akhbarus Alam)In recognition of this service the Imam was allowed to leave the prison in Baghdad and live in his house in Samarrah, still under house arrest. He was still not allowed to go to Madina.
A detailed account of the marriage of Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) was told by Majlisi in Biharul Anwar. His father Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) entrusted this important matter to his friend Bashir ibn Sulaiman. First the Imam wrote a letter in the script of ‘Rum’ and sealed it with his own noble seal. He placed the letter in a red purse, with 220 Dinars and then said to his friend, “Take this letter and go to Baghdad. Go to the ferry at the River Tigris when the boats from Syria are being unloaded. Look out for the ship owner whose name is Amr.
Observe when he exhibits a slave girl who would be with two silk garments and a veil to protect her from being seen or handled by the buyers. You will hear her call out in the language of ‘Rum’, ‘even if you have the wealth and glory of Solomon the son of David, I can never have affection for you, so take care lest you waste your money in purchasing me.’
And if a buyer approaches her, she will say, ‘ Cursed be the man who unveils my eyebrow’ Her owner will then protest, ‘But what recourse have I, I am compelled to sell you? You will then hear the slave answer, ‘ Why this haste, let me choose my purchaser, that my heart may accept him in confidence and gratitude.’
“ You are to go then O Bashir, and tell the trader Amr that you have a letter written in the script of Rum by a certain nobleman, and that this letter shows his kindness, appreciation and liberality. You must give this letter to the slave girl to read, that she may agree to be bought by the man who has passed this letter to you.
Bashir reported later, “ When I carried out these instructions and the girl received the letter, she began to cry as she read the letter. Then she said to Amr, “ Sell me to the writer of this letter, for if you refuse I would surely be very unhappy and you will never be able to sell me to anyone else.” I therefore talked over the price with Amr, until we agreed on the 220 Dinars my master had given me. When I paid the money, and received the girl.
She came with me without protest. In fact she was smiling and looking very pleased. In her excitement she took the letter from the Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) from her pocket and kissed it, put it on her eyes and then put it back into her pocket. I told her I was amazed that she should act this way when as yet she did not know the writer. She answered, “May the descendant of the Prophet dispel your doubts.” Afterwards she gave me the following account of herself.
“ I am a princess, the granddaughter of the Emperor of Rum. My mother was a descendant of the disciple Simon, the vicegerent of Jesus. My grandfather the Emperor was anxious to marry me to his nephew. I was 15 years old. At his castle he gathered a great assembly, including 300 monks and hermits, 700 of the nobility and 4000 of the officials of the army.
I had a special throne made for me where I sat with the man I was about to wed. Christian priests were ready to pay us honor. They opened the Injil (Bible), and immediately all the images around us fell to the ground and broke. My cousin also fell down on the ground and fainted.
All the great officials were overcome with fear and said,” O’ king, preserve us from witnessing this ill-fated day, for this sort of thing is a proof of the decline and disappearance of the Christian religion as we know it.” At this my grandfather was very angry and he ordered that all images should be brought back and put in their places.
Once again they all fell down and a great storm blew the lights all around. At this second occurrence people were frightened and left the assembly hall. My grandfather fell himself and the whole occasion was cancelled for some other day.
One night after this I saw a dream, in which Jesus appeared with his disciples at the palace where the throne was erected. Their they built a pulpit of light, and behold, Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his wasi ‘Ali (as) and all his exalted descendants came into the palace. Jesus went forward to embrace Muhammad,(S) who said, O’Spirit of God, I have come to seek the daughter of your Wasi Simon for my son Hasan al-Askari.”
Jesus (as) looked to Simon who was with him and said, “ Nobility and glory has come to you in this chance to unite mercy with that of the family of Muhammad (S).” To this Simon assented and all of them assented to the pulpit of Light while Muhammad (S) conducted the wedding service. After the dream, when I woke up I was afraid and dared not repeat the story to my father or my brothers for fear that they would kill me.
While I kept the secret, love of Hasan al-Askari found its place in my heart and constrained me to give up drinking wine and I did not want to eat. As a result of not eating I grew thin and became ill. All possible treatment was available for me but without success. In the end my father told me, “ O’you who have seen a light, tell me what is wrong with me.
The doors of pleasure are closed for me. A voice replied, " if you set some of your prisoners free, it is possible that Jesus and his mother may help you.” I told my father of this dream and requested that some of the prisoners should be set free. My father granted my request, and after that I took food and felt better.
A few days passed and I had another vision, when Fatima the daughter of the Prophet and Mariam, the mother of Jesus came to me and explained that Hasan al-Askari could not come to me unless I should become a Muslim and declare, that there no God but One God and Muhammad is the last apostle of God. This I accepted and after that I saw Hasan al-Askari in my vision.”
But how did you come to fall among the prisoners? asked Bashir. She replied, “ Hasan al-Askari told me that my father was planning to send an army against the Muslims and that I should disguise myself and some of my women servants and arrange to go along with the army. I did this and before long some of the Muslim army guards captured us, and now you see how it all turned out.”
Bashir related that when they reached Samarrah he went to the Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) who received the party gladly. The Imam asked the girl if he should give her Ten Thousand Dinars or a bit of good news. When she chose the latter, he informed her that she was to be given to his son Hasan al-Askari as she has seen in her dreams and that she was to be the mother of the one who was to cause justice to reign upon the earth. She was then committed to ‘Ali Naqi’s sister Hakima who was to look after her.
Such is the account of the wedding of Hasan al-Askari to Nargis Khatoon as Majlisi recorded it in such detail in Bihar-al-Anwar.(The same account was found in Shaikh Tusi’s book ) A few days later the wedding took place between Imam Hasan al-Askari and Nargis Khatoon, the granddaughter of the Emperor of Rum.
Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) lived a short life, only Twenty Eight years and in this short life he had to endure great sufferings by the hands of the Abbasid caliphs. But in spite of all that suffering and confinement under house arrest in Samarrah, many students of Islam benefited from his God gifted knowledge and later became scholars in their fields.
He discussed with agnostics of that age many times about the existence of God and the reasons for the necessity of the Prophets and Imams and many atheists changed their minds and converted to Islam. One of those was Ishaq al-kindi who was writing a book about contradictions in Qur’an. Imam invited some of his students and taught them lessons from the Qur’an.
These students of Al-kindi confronted their teacher and rejected his arguments about the contradictions in the Holy Book. Al-Kindi realized that these arguments could not have come from the brains of these young students. He asked them about the secret of their extensive knowledge of the Qur’an. In the end they confessed that Imam Hasan al-Askari taught them.
Kindi himself became the disciple of our Imam, burnt his own writings on atheism and later wrote many treatises on Islam.
Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) also dictated many Traditions of the Holy Prophet and recorded many explanations of the verses of the Holy Qur’an.
One of the famous traditions people learnt from Imam Hasan al-Askari was, “ The wine drinker is like an idolater.” Ibn al Jawzi in his book “Tehrim al Khamr” mentioned this tradition from the Imam from the most reliable narrators of Hadith.
Historians have noted many names of the Imam’s students who became scholars of their time
One of the famous students of the Imam was Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn Khalid who prepared a commentary of the Holy Qur’an which should be considered the work of the Imam himself. The Imam used to dictate its contents to Abu ‘Ali who went on writing the commentary. Scholars indicated that the book consisted of 1920 pages.
In spite of the fact that the Imahad never given any cause for concern to the Caliphs of his time, their guilt in this matter was so great that they did not leave these pious personalities in peace. If they had no fear of their throne they were afraid of the excellence and knowledge of the Imams.
In the case of Imam Hasan al-Askari, the same type of jealousy led to the poisoning of the Imam to end this life of a saint whose only activity was to teach Qur’an as the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt taught before him.
During the rule of Al-Mu’tamid poison was given to the Imam mixed in some fruit and he died on 8th Rabi-al-Awwal 260 Hijri. He left only one son, whose name was Muhammad who was only five years old when his father died.
The Caliph Al- Mu’tamid himself attended the funeral prayer. When they all lined up and were ready to commence the prayers, Imam Hasan al-Askari’s brother Jaafar stood in front of the people to lead the prayer. Before he could commence the prayer, a five year old boy came out of the house, went near his uncle.
Shook his mantle and told him, “set aside uncle, only an Imam can lead the funeral prayer of an Imam”. His uncle Jaafar stepped aside and this five year old boy lead the prayers. Immediately after the end of the prayer he went inside his house and was not seen by his pursuers, led by the caliph Mu’tamid himself.
Our Eleventh Imam was buried in the same house where he had died, by the side of his father Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) . By the passage of time, the place was transformed into a great mausoleum and pilgrims from all over the Islamic lands came to pay their homage to the two Imams of Ahlul Bayt who were buried there.
“The world will not come to an end,” said the Prophet Muhammad, “ until a man from my family (Ahlul Bayt) and of my name shall be master of the world, When you see a green ensign coming from the direction of Khorasan, then join them, for the Imam of God will be with the standards who will be called al-Mahdi.”
“The Mahdi will be descended from me, he will be a man with an open countenance and a face with a high nose. He will fill the earth with equity and with justice, just as it has been filled with tyranny and oppression.” (Biharul Anwar, Majlisi)
Imam Muhammad Abul Qasim (al Mahdi) (as) , the last in the line of the Twelve Ithna Ashari Imams was born on 15th Shaban 255 Hijri in Samarra, Iraq. His father was the Eleventh Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) and his mother was Nargis Khatoon, granddaughter of the Emperor of Rum.
It was 8th Rabiul Awwal 260 Hijri when our Twelfth Imam led the funeral prayer of his father Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) . He was only Five years old, yet the whole crowd of Muslims including the Abbasid caliph of that time Al-Mu’tamid followed the young Imam without question.
Once the prayers were over and the Imam went inside the house, that the Caliph realized the full implication and significance of the occasion and he immediately ordered his soldiers to enter the house and search for the young Imam.
They did not find any one inside the house. The Caliph was very angry at this incompetence of ministers and other officials who were unable to find a boy of five who had just led the prayers and had just disappeared. The caliph had no inkling of the secrets that God did not want to reveal. He went back to his palace and into the luxurious life of a playboy king while the world around him squeezed his empire into oblivion.
The Imam’s period of lesser concealment began immediately after he led the funeral prayers and disappeared inside the house. This was in the year 260 Hijri.
The doctrine of ‘Ghaiba’ or concealment, declares simply that the Imam has been withdrawn by God from the eyes of people, that his life has been miraculously prolonged, that he has been seen from time to time, has been in correspondence with others, and has maintained a control over the guidance of the followers and the believers and the safety of Islam from its enemies.
In the following few pages we shall try to bring some evidence from the Qur’an and the authentic Hadith of the Prophet to prove the point to interested readers.
This is an essential belief that Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (as) Sahibuz zaman, is alive and guide's his followers whenever such need arises. This is based on the verses of the Holy Qur’an that express the idea of Divine Guidance through the Prophets and Imams.
“And among those whom we have created are a people who guide others with truth, and in accordance therewith act justly.” (7:180)
“We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2:155)
A great Hanafi scholar Muhammad ibn Muslim cites Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) explaining the meaning of the above Verse. Imam indicated that there would be signs indicating the coming (reappearance) of al-Mahdi (as) which are the means whereby God tests the faithful.
“Something of fear” is a reference to masses perishing by contagious diseases; “hunger” is a reference to high prices of foodstuffs; “Some loss in goods” is a reference to scarcity and famines; “Lives” is a reference to mass destruction of human lives, probably global wars; “Fruits” is a reference to lengthy periods of draughts; so when all that happens, then give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere.”
“This is its interpretation,” continued the Imam , quoting Verse 7 of Sura 3, which indicates that “only those who are firmly grounded in knowledge are capable of interpreting the verses of the Holy Qur’an”, adding, “ We the Ahlul Bayt are the ones firmly grounded in knowledge”.
In the book “Yanabi al Muaddah”, the Hanafi scholar and Mufti of Istanbul during the Osmani Caliphate in Turkey writes on page 321, quoting Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) interpreting Verse 83, Sura III of the Holy Qur’an comments as follows:-
“When the Qa’im al-Mahdi reappears, there will be no land on earth where the Kalima is not said. “This could be a reference to the fact that by the time al-Mahdi reappears, all continents of the world will have Muslim populations. They already do now.
After presenting the above proofs from the Qur’an, the following are authentic traditions from the Prophet of God regarding Imam Mahdi (as) .
At the end of Vol.2 of Fara’idh al-simtain and on page 269 Ibn Khaldun’s ‘Mukaddimah’ , it is related from Ibn Abbas, that the Holy Prophet said, “ ‘Ali is Imam of my nation and my successor therein after me, and among his offspring is the awaited Qa’im who shall fill the world with justice and equity as it was filled with injustice and oppression.
The Prophet further elaborates, “ beware of doubting, for to doubt the order of God, the Mighty, the Sublime, is apostasy (Kufr). Ibn Khaldun also states that “ When imprisoned with his mother in the house, he entered a sort of well or pit in the house that his family occupies at Samarrah, Iraq, and there he disappeared, but he is to come forth at the end of the age to fill the earth with justice”.
Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti quotes in his book Jalalul- Oyun Vol.6 page 50. “ The Hour shall not come till Al-Mahdi takes charge on earth on my behalf,” said the Messenger of God. Allama Suytu also quotes Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal that famous companion Abu Said Khadhri quoting the Messenger of God saying, “I bring you glad tidings of al-Mahdi, God shall send him to my nation, in a time different from your own, and after a series of earthquakes, and he shall fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with injustice and oppression.
He shall distribute the wealth equitably among the inhabitants of the earth. In the manual in which he sets forth the many duties and privileges of pilgrims, Majlisi has given an accepted form for a short letter in Arabic, which anyone can write, and sent to his Imam of the age.
It may be placed on the tomb of any of the Imams, or it may be fastened and sealed, and covered with clean earth and cast into the sea or river or a deep well. In any case it will reach the Hidden Imam and he will give his personal attention.
There is a famous saying of Imam Husayn (as) about the twelfth Imam. “The Ninth of my descendants is the Imam who will rise with the Truth. God will grant life to earth through him after its death. The true faith will supersede all religions through him.
His absence shall be lengthy during which many people will go astray. Only a few will remain on the Right Path. They shall suffer pains, people will put pressure on them, saying,” let us know when this promise of the Return of the Mahdi is fulfilled”. Those who will bear the pains and denials patiently will get the same rewards as those who accompanied the Prophet during his expeditions for Jihad.”
Imam Zainul Abedeen (as) has said, “ Of us one will be born whose birth will remain secret so much so that the people will say that he was not born at all.”
Imam Muhammad al Baqir (as) is quoted by Kulaini in Al-Kafi, “ Nine Imams after Husayn are destined, the last of them will be al-Qaim.”
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) is quoted in Ilal al-shara’i saying, “ The fifth of the descendants of my son Musa will be the Qa’im a descendant of the Prophet (S).
Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (as) was asked once, “ Are the Qa’im with the truth?” The Imam replied, “ I also rise truthfully, but the real Qa’im is he who will remove the enemies of God from earth and will fill it with justice. He shall be my fifth descendant. His absence will be lengthy during which multitudes will turn away from the faith while only a few will uphold it”.
Imam ‘Ali al-Ridha’ (as) in the above saying of Imam Husayn (as) that due to the excessive the length of the concealment of the 12th Imam many believers will have doubts about his existence. Many will question the very longevity of his life and the usefulness of his presence as an Imam. Ridha’ said, “O Da’bil, my son Muhammad (as) will come when I am gone.
After him, his great grandson will be named Muhammad (as) who will be the Qa’im. He will be awaited during his absence. When he appears, the world shall bow down before him.”
Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) has said “ The Qa’im will be from amongst us the third of my descendants”.
Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) said, “ My successor will be my son Hasan; but what will be your condition during the reign of Hasan’s successor”? Those who were present asked, “Why, what do you mean by that”?
Imam replied, “you will not have the chance to see him, later you will not be allowed to mention his name”. Then the Imam was asked as to how they should mention him. Imam replied, “ You may say that he is the last of Muhammad’s (infallible) descendants. “
Some people asked Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) , “ your forefathers have said that the earth would never be without knowing the sign of Allah (Hujjatullah) till Doomsday, and he who dies without knowing the Imam of his time will die the death of ignorance”. Imam replied, “ That was as true as the shining day.
They inquired as to who would be the Imam who would be the sign of the Mercy of God after his death, Imam replied, “ He will be my son, the namesake of the Holy Prophet (Muhammad Abul Qasim). He who died without knowing him will die the death of ignorance.
His absence will be so lengthy that the ignorant will wander puzzled and would surely stray from the Right Path. But the Righteous shall remain steadfast and pray for their Imam to appear within their life time”.
All these predictions were recorded since the time of the Holy Prophet who himself prophesied the advent of the Mahdi. (Read this Hadith in the story of the 5th Imam).
As in the above saying of Imam Husayn (as) that due to the excessive length of the concealment of the 12th Imam many believers will have doubts about his existence. Many will question the very longevity of his life and the usefulness of his presence as an Imam.
To the question of existence, we have seen above the many Verses from the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet and all the Eleven Imams. We have also read quotations from the Books of Ahlul Sunna wal Jama’a and many scholars and philosophers from the earliest times to the present.
As far as the longevity of his life, in Qur’anic terms it is not difficult to explain. Prophet Jesus is alive and will come out with the 12th Imam. Prophet Sheeth and Prophet Khidhr are still alive according to the Verdict of the Qur’an. If God keeps his guided ones alive for a certain purpose there should not be any doubt.
As for the usefulness of his concealed existence, there are numerous occasions when the Imam miraculously helped those who called him for help.
During the period of Ghaibate Sughra (the period of lesser concealment) from the time of the death of his father Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) in the year 260 Hijri, our 12th Imam was seen only by a few people who were appointed his ambassadors (Safeer) on his behalf to convey his teachings to the believers. These Four Ambassadors were as follows:
1. Abu Amr Uthman ibn Sa’id al Asadi. He was a deputy of 10th Imam ‘Ali Naqi (as) and after his death, of the 11th Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) and after his death, of our 12th Imam.
Having performed these duties of conveying the messages from the Imam to the believers and the teachings of Ahlul Bayt, he died in Baghdad and was buried there.
2. Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Othman al Amri, the son of the first Ambassador was appointed the 2nd Safeer of our 12th Imam. He died in 305 Hijri (917 AD) .
3. Abul Qasim Husayn ibn Rauh Nawbakhti was appointed the Imam’s 3rd Safeer. He was a top ranking scholar and Faqeeh, renowned for his knowledge of all Islamic sciences. He was also a very pious man. Under the directions of the 12th Imam, his 3rd Safeer Husayn ibn Rauh performed his duties as Safeer for the next 15 years. He died in the year 320 Hijri
4. Abul Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samari. He was the last Safeer of the 12th Imam, succeeding Husayn ibn Rauh as directed by the Imam. He performed his duties for 9 years and died on the 15th Shabaan 329 Hijri (May 15, 941 AD) Having being asked on his deathbed as to who would succeed him, he replied: Providence now wishes to give the matter another shape the duration of which is known to God alone.”
After Abul Hasan there was no Safeer. In this sorrowful year, i.e. 329 Hijri, many scholars such as ‘Ali ibn Babwayh Qummi and Muhammad ibn Yaqub Kulaini, the learned compiler of al-Kafi also died. Besides these events, an extra ordinary phenomenon was also witnessed. In the sky so many stars did shoot that it seemed as if Doomsday had come.
That year was named as the year of the dispersal of stars. After this, followed a dark period because no saffeer was left to directly approach the Imam al Mahdi (as) . It is also related that Imam himself told his last Safeer that there will not be any more appointments of Sofara.
When asked what the believers would do, the Imam replied, “follow the Foqaha of our Deen, those who have knowledge of Qur’an, who protect Deen and would not follow their own desires”.
In answering those who question the usefulness of the Imam in concealment, there are numerous occasions mentioned in books of many Ulemas, such as Shaikh Mufid (d413 Hijri) Allama Hilli (d. 726) /shahid Thalith Noorullah Shoostry (d.1019). They have mentioned in their own period as to how the 12th Imam was approached and gave help. All these stories are mentioned in their own books.
Here in this book I would like to mention two such occurrences that happened to those who have told their experiences to me personally. Both of them are now dead and it is important for me to tell these happenings before my own death.
I lived in Najaf in the fifties and during my stay there I used to visit Karbala’ nearly every week. In the town of Karbala’ there was a Dispensary run by the Pakistan Government. The Pharmacist there was one Mr.Rizvi who not only distributed medicine to the poor of Karbala’ but also looked after the patients and sometimes even prescribed medicine for them.
There was no qualified doctor to attend to the patient. Mr.Rizvi used to go to Baghdad on Friday to get stocks from the Hospital there. On one such occasion when he was coming back by Minibus, the Bus driver stopped at Mehmudiya, half way Karbala’. It was late in the evening. The Bus Driver told the passenger’s that there was something wrong with the Bus engine and he could not proceed until next morning.
The passengers would have to provide for their own Board and lodging themselves for the night. Mr.Rizvi was very upset. He had a box load of medicine with him and if he would not be in Karbala’, the next morning his patients would be disappointed and some of them might have to go without any medicine. He was standing by the Road side, in this little town Mehmudiya, some 40 miles from Karbala’.
Night was getting darker. People were sitting in dark coffee houses drinking coffee or playing card games etc. As time passed his worries increased. He realized that if he does not move from there soon, some youngsters might come and vandalize his goods and stocks of medicine. So he prayed to God and the words uttered were “Ya Sahebuz Zaman Udrikny” O’Imam of the Time, help me.
Moments later, he saw a jeep car stopped right there where he was standing and a very good looking young Arab gentleman got out of the Jeep and told him, “Do you want to go to Karbala’”? He was astonished at this help and said yes, of course I want to go to Karbala’. He said, “put your box in the car and sit beside me”.
The man drove the car and arrived in Karbala’ an hour later. Without asking him the address of his destination he took him straight to the door of the Dispensary and stopped. Mr.Rizvi got down, brought his box of medicine down and started to look for some money in his pocket to give something to the Driver of the Jeep.
When he turned to look for him, there was nothing there. There was no jeep car, no man, nothing. The road was completely empty. He bowed down on the dust of Karbala’ to thank God for sending the help through the Imam of the Time. He told me this story personally and he had no doubt in his mind that the help came from the 12th Imam.
From that time onward his devotion towards helping the people of Karbala’ had increased a hundred fold. He died some years later while still helping his patients in that little Dispensary in Karbala’.
My second story was from the lips of an Englishman, Col.Abdullah Baines. During the 2nd World War he was stationed at the Royal Air Force Base at Habbaniyah, a town some 22 miles south of Baghdad. During the height of the war there was some scare in Britain that Hitler might invade Iraq to grab oilfields.
It was 1942 that the Commander of the Base decided to evacuate families of the people living at the base. Col.Baines was given the task of leading the caravan of jeep cars full of women and children from Baghdad to Damascus. They had to pass through the Desert where there was no road and they had to find their way by looking at the stars as Captains of the ship sail in the sea and find their way to their destination.
Col.Baines was a Christian but he was well versed in Islamic history and especially the history concerning the lives of the Imams. He had read many books about the 12th Imam and was well aware of the stories of those faithful who believe who receive help from the Imam in their distress. They call the Imam and help comes to them. All the women and children with Col.Baines were all Christians and not Muslims.
Half way through their journey of this caravan of five jeeps through the desert, they lost their way in a desert storm. They were hopelessly lost, going round and round in the desert, not knowing where to go and how to find their way to Damascus. They decided to camp there. Made a circle of jeep cars and all travelers sat down on the ground to await a miracle to get them out of that endless desert. They did not know what to do.
One day and one night passed like that and when the next day’s sun came scorching, all of them were in despair. Water stocks had gone and thirsty children began to demand for water. Col.Baines did not know what to do. Then he remembered that he read somewhere that if you are in such distress, call the Imam of the time for help.
He put up his hands in the shape of prayer, closed his eyes and asked in his heart for the Imam to help. He said, “we are all Christians and we may be sinners, but these children with me are innocent , they do not deserve to die in this manner. O’Imam of the Time, help them get out of this desert”. His prayers had not even ended when he saw that two horsemen were coming right through the eye of the storm.
They came near the circle of jeep cars, approached Col.Baines, and asked, “ Do you all wish to go to Damascus”. He said “yes of course”. They said, “follow us”. The jeeps lined up and followed the horsemen. They had gone a few miles until the way became clear for them. Their guides told them to go straight to the West and they will reach Damascus.
In a few days they all reached Damascus and safety. Col.Baines realized that his prayers to the 12th Imam were heard and help arrived from the Imam.
Once the war was over, Col.Bains embraced Islam, changed his name to Abdullah Baines and after his retirement from the Army, settled in Kent. He has himself told me his story before his death in 1965. He also told me to publicize this as much as possible for this is the truth and people should not refrain from telling the truth.
There are numerous experiences of this kind of help given by the Imam to people in distress who call him for help. Ayatollah al-Jazaeri told us two such stories of his own experiences in Iran when help came from the Imam to people.
Although absent and unrepresented, Imam al-Mahdi (as) still guides people and defends the faith. Even though unseen, the Imam supervises the world affairs and guides it. This curtain will exist as long as Providence deems it necessary.
The time will come, which may be too late for many of us, but when the curtain of absence will be removed, Imam al-Mahdi (as) will reappear and as predicted by the Prophet, fill the world with justice and equity, discarding the prevailing injustices and oppressions. May God bring about his early reappearance and ease his coming.
Wal-hum- do— lillahi- Rabbil- Alameen. Wassalato- Wassalamo Ala -Rasulehil Karim.