Chapter 1: A Quick Glance At Imam Al-Sajjad’s (‘A)

1. The Milieu And The Purified Family

His name was ‘Ali Ibn Al-Husayn (‘a). He was the fourth Imam of the Shi’ahs from the Ahl Al-Bayt (‘a). His grandfather was Imam ‘Ali (‘a) who was the successor of the Holy Prophet (S) and the first person to believe in his prophecy.1

Imam ‘Ali (‘a) was the person who, according to Manzilah Hadith, held the same rank in relation to the Holy Prophet (S), that Aaron had with regard to Moses (‘a).2

His grandmother was Fatimah Al-Zahra (‘a), who - in the words of the Holy Prophet (S) was the part of his body3 whom the Holy Prophet (S) cherished and who is leader of women in the world and the hereafter.4

His father’s name was Husayn Ibn ‘Ali (‘a). Husayn (‘a) was the second Imam of the Shi’ahs and the brother of another Imam, Imam Hasan (‘a).

He is the person about whom the Prophet (S) said: "Husayn (‘a) is because of me and I am due to him."5

He is the person who was martyred in the land of Karbala defending the values of Islam on the tenth day of Muharram.

Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) is one of the twelve Imams (‘a) who were clarified by the Holy Prophet (S) for his Ummah. The words of the Prophet (S) can be still found in the Sunnites’ famous books such as Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari:

"My successors will be twelve Imams and all of them will be from Quraish."6

He was born in the year 38 Hijrah. According to some other historians, he was born a year or two years before.7 He died at the age of fifty- seven. He spent the first four years of his life under the shelter of his grandfather, ‘Ali (‘a). After the martyrdom of ‘Ali (‘a), he was nurtured under the shelter of his father and uncle, the two Imams (‘a) of their time. There, he learned, from them, the knowledge of the Holy Prophet (S).

2. The Imamah And The Religious Leadership

After spending several years with the two Imams (‘a), Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) also became a religious leader of the Shi’ahs and a scientific beacon of his era. People consulted him for their religious matters. He was a great symbol of chastity, worship and piety. All the Muslims accepted his knowledge and greatness and bowed their heads in honour of his immense wisdom regarding religious matters.

The people at Imam Al-Sajjad’s (‘a) time had a strong feeling of respect for their Imam. His religious preaching had spread all over the Islamic world. The famous Hajj event, when Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik journeyed to Makkah, noticing the great fame of the Imam (‘a) among the people is a notable example.8

Despite all conflicts and disagreements regarding the acceptance of Islamic castes, the people of Imam Al-Sajjad’s (‘a) time strongly believed in the Imam (‘a). This acceptance was not only in the fields of religious matters, but they believed that, like his father and forefathers (‘a) before him, Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a), was their leader in every phase of life and in all sorts of difficulties. In fact, they thought of Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) as their shelter during hardship.

When Roman coins gained popularity in Islamic markets prompting Muslims to use them, the Roman king was placed in a position of being a potential threat to Muslim rulers and common people alike. In order to cope with this problem, Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan appealed to Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a), to ask for his suggestions9.

3. His Imamah, The Feature Of His Era And His Achievements

After the third Imam of the Shi’ahs, Imam Husayn (‘a), was martyred in the land of Karbala, Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) took on the post of religious leadership of the Shi’ahs and all the Muslims of the time. He started his duty in the second fifty years of the first Hijry century which was a most dangerous and sensitive period. The Muslims were still conquering different parts of the world, and their continuous powerful conquests made the strongest kings and emperors, like Caesar and Qaiser, tremble in fear. The Muslims were busy enhancing the Islamic borders and, after conquering them, they brought many small and large lands and territories into the Islamic world. After a struggle of fifty years, they were able to take control of a great part of the developed and civilized areas of the period.

During the Era of Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a), the Islamic Ummah faced Two Serious Challenges:

The First Challenge

The first challenge and danger which posed a threat to the establishment of Islam as well as to the Muslims was the influence of new thoughts and ideologies, which were increasing as a result of continual victories by the Muslim Ummah. The possibility occurred that newly imported ideas and thoughts, from assimilated religious cultures, could infiltrate to weaken the pure Islamic identity and learning.

The need for a scientific movement capable of both preserving core Islamic thought and discourse while simultaneously halting the influence of non-Islamic ideologies was imperative. It was also necessary that this particular movement, be based on the holy verses of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (S) to control the newly introduced cultures and save Islamic ideology, implemented by necessary efforts.

Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) took on this responsibility. He commenced his classes of Islamic teaching in the Prophet’s (S) mosque. There, he taught and spread pure Islamic thought and ideology in the form of interpretation of the holy Book, the science of Hadith, Fiqh, the practical sciences, meditation and Mysticism which he had gained from his father and forefathers (‘a).

A number of students, taught in these classes, developed complete knowledge of Islamic science and in later years became pioneers of Islamic Fiqh; thus providing a strong basis for a successful and continuous Islamic movement.

The Second Challenge

The second challenge and potential threat to the Islamic society during this period was the possibility of Muslims abandoning Islamic values, the consequence of which could have expressed itself in materialistic values and a disproportionate use of worldly luxuries.

To fight this great danger that threatened to destroy Islamic values and prevent the Islamic society from practicing its religiosity, the Imam (‘a) chose the weapon of prayers. This is why one can say that "Sahifah Sajjadieh" is a great social movement which developed in response to the social needs prevalent during the Imam’s (‘a) time.

On the other hand, this book was a great Divine Inheritance, which will guide lost ones until the Day of Judgment; the book, also, teaches Islamic ethics and the method of becoming civilized. The whole of mankind needs this book; the book which is a chain from the knowledge of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) and ‘Ali (‘a). It also contains solutions to all problems which have been caused due to satanic thoughts and worldly desires.10

  • 1. Shaykh Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi 8/338, Musnad Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 1/331, Fada’il Al-Sahabah p.13.
  • 2. Shaykh Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi 8/107, Musnad Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 1/170; Sahih Bukhari 4/208, Sahih Muslim 7/120.
  • 3. Musnad Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 4/326; Sahih Bukhari 4/210; Sahih Muslim 7/141.
  • 4. Kamal Al Din wa Tamam Al-Ni’amah 257; Musnad Abi Da’ud Al-Tayalisi 197; Al-Musannaf 7/527.
  • 5. Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab Al-Irshad 2/127; Musnad Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 4/172; Sunan Ibn Majah 1/51.
  • 6. Dalai'l Al-Imamah 19; Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal narrated it in his Musnad 5/87; with slight difference. Bukhari narrated it in his Sahih 8/128; Muslim Al-Nayshaburi in Sahih Muslim 6/3.
  • 7. Ibn Shahrashub, Manaqib Ali Ibn Abi Talib (‘a) 256; Ibn Khallikan, Wafiyat Al-A'ayan, 269; Sharh Ihqaq Al-Haqq 28/24.
  • 8. Ikhtiyar Ma'rifat Al-Rijal 129 to 132, Hadith no. 207; Al-Bayan wa-Tabeen 1/286; Al-Aghani 14/75 and 19/40; Ibn Khalkan, Wafiyat Al-A'ayan Iran offset, 2/338; Mustadrak Al-wasal 9/383; Sharh Al-Akhbar 3/263; Shaykh Al-Mufid, Al-Ihtijaj 191; Ibn Shahrashub, Manaqib Ali Abi Talib 306.
  • 9. See: Research and Studies of Sayid Murtadh Al-'Amili 1/127-137.
  • 10. Sayyid Muhammad Al-Baqir Al-Sadr (‘a), the preface to Al-Sahifah Al-Sajjadiyya hadith.