Whatever was needed for elevated righteous training was provided for Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a). This arrangement had not been prepared for anyone else. The training had a vital effect on the Imam’s personality, placing him at the top rank of Muslim leaders, in the sense that he was the most trustworthy among them, for the Prophet (S) called him the trustee of his prophecy.
Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) was trained in the house of inspiration, the highest of houses. In the Qur’an, Allah refers to the house in this way:
فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ
"(Such a Light is lit) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour, for the celebration, in them, of His Name. In them He is glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again)”. (Surah Al-Nur, 24:36).
رِجَالٌ لَا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ
“By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the remembrance of Allah, nor from regular prayer, nor from the practice of regular charity: their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a wholly new world)”. (Surah Al-Nur, 24:37).
In his childhood, he was under the pure protection of his great- grandfather, ‘Ali Ibn Abitaleb (‘a), whose fragrance of intellectuality encompassed the world. His son was also the same as his grandfather in personality and spiritual structure.
After this, he lived for a long time with his uncle, Imam Hasan (‘a), master of the noblemen of heaven. He was the grandchild of the Prophet (S) who rained affection and kindness on him. He planted high character and great standards in his soul and body. This coincided with being under his noble father’s training and education. His father, Imam Husayn (‘a), master of the martyred, had seen the development of prophecy and standards of Imamah in his face and this caused him to pay him more attention in relation to his other children and so, most of the time, he was with his father.
Imam Zayn Al-’Abidin (‘a) was born on 36 Hijry1 in the day of the conquest of Basrah. Imam ‘Ali (‘a) had not yet changed the capital of government from Madinah to Kufah. He died at year 94 or 95 Hijry in Madinah.
Some historians have written the birth date of Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) as 38 of Hijry in Kufah because that year Imam ‘Ali (‘a) changed the capital of his government to Kufah from Madinah after the Jamal war. It is natural that in this situation Imam Husayn (‘a) would have stayed with him and his family in that city.2
His mother’s name was Shahrabanoo, Shahrabanooyeh, or the "queen of ladies", daughter of Yazd Gerd, who was the last king of Iran.3
His Famous Names
"Zayn Al-’Abidin", "Thul-thafanat", "Sayed Al-’Abidin", "Qadwatol-zahedin", "Sayid-almottaqin", "Imam Al-moammenin", "Al-Zaki", "Zayn Al-Alsalehin", "Menar-Al-Qanetin", "Al-’Adl", "Imam-Alommah", "Al-Bakka". "Sajjad" and "Zayn Al-’Abidin" are the two most important of his nicknames.
People called him by these nicknames when their imagination was inspired with enthusiasm for him, upon understanding this verse:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلاَمًا
“And the servants of the Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth humbly; and when the ignorant address them, they answer; ‘Peace’. (Surah Al-Furqan, 25:63).
Some say these nicknames of his did not come from his followers and were not even of shi’ah origin, but that those naming him could not ignore those traits in his personality.
Historians have expounded on possible causes for the profuse quantity of his nicknames in this way:
1. It is narrated from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansary, the great companion of the Prophet (S): "I was sitting near the Prophet (S). Imam Husayn (‘a) was sitting in his arms and the Prophet (S) was playing with him. The Prophet (S) told me that: He will have a son called ‘Ali. When Resurrection Day occurs, a voice will call out, "Sayidal’abidin"; the master of obedience and servants will stand. He will stand then and he will have a son called Muhammad. Give my regards to him if you see him."6
2. Whenever Zahry talked about ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (‘a) he said: "Zayn Al-’Abidin ‘Ali Ibn Husayn (‘a) told me, Sofian Ibn Eineh asked me, "why are you called Zayn Al-’Abidin?" He said: I heard from Sa’id Ibn Mosayyeb who narrated from Ibn Abbas saying: the Prophet (S) stated: when Resurrection Day occurs, a voice will call; where is Al’Abidin, the most beautiful of servants and obedience? It seems I see my son, ‘Ali Ibn Husayn Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, come to the front amongst the queues."7
3. It is narrated from Abu- Ja’far Imam Al-Baqir (‘a): "My father had some patches in the place of his prostration and every two years cleaned those patches to the extent that, every time, five patches were removed from five places and this way they called him "thu- Al-thaffanat" the owner of patches."8
4. Again, in other places narrated from Imam Al-Baqir (‘a) about the high number of prostrations of Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a), he did not mention any blessing of Allah unless he prostrated. The signs of prostration were clearly noticeable in any part of the prostration places. Because of this he was called Sajjad.9
- 1. Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab Al-Irshad 137/2; Ibn Shahrashub, Manaqib Ali Ibn Abi Talib 4/189; Al-Iqbal p. 621; Mesbah Al-Kaf'ami p. 511, Al-Anwar Al-Bahiyya p. 107 said in the year of 36 the day of conquest of Basrahadith
- 2. Tarikh Ahl Al-Bayt for Ibn Abi Thalj Al-Bagadadi, 325/77.
- 3. Most historical writers believe that Imam Al-Sajjad's (‘a) mother was the daughter of Yazd Gerd, king of Iran; while others hold this to be no more than legend. Refer to Life of Ali Ibn Hussain (‘a) by Sayyed Ja'far Shahidi. Islam and Iran by Shahid Motahhary pp. 100-109. The article "Talking About Al-Sadat Shahrabanu" by Shaykh Yusuf Gharawi in Risalat Al-Hussain (‘a) magazine 24/14-39. However, everyone believes that Imam Al-Sajjad's (‘a) mother was a captive lady from Fars and nothing further is proved.
- 4. Sirat Al-Rasul wa Ahl-Bayt (s) 2/189; Al-Majmm'a Al-‘Alami Ahl Al-Bayt (‘a) first edition, 1414 Hijri.
- 5. Ayat Al-Imam Zayn Al-'Abidin Derasha Wa Tahlil 390.
- 6. Ihqaq Al-Haqq 12/13-16; Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah 9/106.
- 7. Shaykh Al-Saduq, ‛Ilal Al-Shara’i 1/233; Al-Amali 331; Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar 2/46 Hadith 1 and 2.
- 8. Shaykh Al-Saduq, ‛Ilal Al-Shara’i 1/233, Ma’ani Al-Akhbar 65; and Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar 46/6
- 9. Shaykh Al-Saduq, ‛Ilal Al-Shara’i 1/273; Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar 46/6 Hadith 10.