Imam Abu Ja‘far (al-Baqir), peace be on him, grew up in the House of the message, the place of descent of the revelation, and the source of radiation in the world of Islam. His grandfather, Imam Husayn, peace be on him, and his father, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, fed him with noble ideals. They taught the ways of good and guidance that settled in themselves. Moreover, they taught him bright behavior and a sound direction to be an example to this community. The following is an account of his early life under the wing of his grandfather and his father.
Imam Husayn, peace be on him, took care of educating his grandson. He bestowed upon him rays of his holy soul that illuminated the horizons of this world. The historians narrated that he seated him on his lap, kissed him very much, and said to him: “Indeed, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, sends you his greetings.”1
This was a hint from the grandfather to his grandson that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, wanted him to practice his leading role for his community. In other words he wanted him to split open the fountains of wisdom in the lands of his community, to proclaim knowledge all over them, and to guide his community to the right path. In his early life, Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, saw his grandfather, Imam Husayn, peace be on him, facing the critical situation.
That was when his grandfather was afflicted by the tyrant of his time and the pharaoh of this community, namely, Yazid b. Mu‘awiya, who endangered Islam, summoned Imam Husayn to pledge allegiance to him, and to yield to his rule. Thus, Imam Husayn, peace be on him, cried out at his face and continued his immortal movement to raise Allah's word high in the earth and to carry out his Islamic message with honesty and loyalty.
So, he sacrificed his life, the members of his house, and his companions to establish the glory of Islam, and to destroy his enemies and his opponents. His sacrifice was full of noble values and high ideals. It moved the people's sentiments and their feelings. It was abounding in positive results. It offered the most wonderful lessons about the sacrifice for the truth and the duty. It will be immortal forever. Moreover, it will represent man's honor and his high purpose.
The stages of that immortal tragedy took place before Imam al-Baqir while he was in his early life. He, peace be on him, said: “My grandfather was killed while I was four years of age. Indeed, I remember his murder and what hit us during that time.”2
Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, reported many of its stages. Al-Tabari reported some of its pictures on his authority. A group of the prominent Companions (of the Prophet) wrote a book. They called the book ‘Maqtal al-Husayn’. In it, they have written what they heard from him and from other than him about the tragedies of Karbala'. Ibn al-Nadim has mentioned many of them in his book ‘al-Fihrast’. However, that immortal tragedy left great pain and sorrow in his soul. Its sorrows accompanied him throughout his life.
Imam Abu Ja‘far (al-Baqir), peace be on him, lived for more than 34 years under the care of his father, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him. He accompanied him throughout that period. He did not leave him. He was impressed by his bright guidance that represented the guidance of the prophets and of the apostles. The people did not see the likeness of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin in his God-fearingness, his piety, his asceticism, and his strong cleaving to Allah. We will mention some of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin's affairs and conditions. That is because his behavior had great influence on Imam al-Baqir's deep soul. They are as follows:
The intellectuals and the scholars admired and glorified Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin. They preferred him to others. The following are some of their words concerning him:
The solemnity of the Imam and his greatness astonished Sa‘id b. al-Musayyab. Thus, he said: “I have never seen (a person) better than ‘Ali b. al-Husayn. I have never seen him but I detest myself. I have never seen him laughing.”3
Zayd b. Aslam said: “I have never seen (a person) similar to ‘Ali b. al-Husayn.”6
When ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz heard of the death of the Imam, he said: “The lamp of the world, beauty of Islam and adornment of worshipers passed away.”7
Abu Hazim said: “I have never seen a Hashimi better than ‘Ali b. al-Husayn.”8
Malik said: “There was nobody similar to ‘Ali b. al-Husayn in the members of the House of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family.”9
Among those who adored the Imam was the great Companion (of the Prophet), Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari, who said: “I have never seen a boy of the Prophets similar to ‘Ali b. al-Husayn.”10
Al-Waqidi said: “‘Ali b. al-Husayn was the most wonderful of all the people in worship and the most pious of them for Allah, the Great and Almighty.”11
These words denote the impressions of these great figures concerning the Imam. They have unanimously agreed that he was at his time the best of all the family of the Prophet in knowledge and outstanding merits that represent man's absolute perfection.
As for his high morals, they were gifts from Allah. The perplexed person follows the right way with them. The straying person is guided by them. In this phenomenon, the Imam imitated his grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family who was distinguished from the prophets by his high morals.
The historians have unanimously agreed that the Imam, peace be on him, treated kindly those who mistreated him. He forgave them and bestowed liberally upon them to uproot from them aggression against others. The following are some of his attitudes towards them:
A. The historians said: “Isma‘il b. Hisham al-Makhzumi was the governor of Yathrib (Medina). He harbored hatred against the members of the House, peace be on them. He hurt Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin very much and abused his grandfathers on the pulpits to approach the rulers of Damascus. When al-Walid b. ‘Abd al-Malik became caliph, he removed Hisham from office because of a previous enmity. Then he ordered the people to take their rights from him. Hisham was very afraid of the Imam, peace be on him, for he mistreated him very much. So, he said: “I am afraid of no one but of ‘Ali b. al-Husayn. He is a righteous man. Thus, the ruler will hear his words concerning me. “However, the Imam ordered his companions and followers not to mistreat him. Rather, he went to him, smiled at him, asked him about his need during his critical situation, and then said to him: “Cousin, my Allah forgive you. Indeed, what has been done towards you has displeased me. So, summon us to what you like.”
Hisham was astonished. Thus, he said with admiration: “Allah knows where to put His mission.”12
Among his high morals is the following attitude that raises him to the level which no reformer has reached except his grandfathers. It also indicates his Imamate.
The historians reported that he slaughtered every day a ewe. He cooked the ewe and divided it among the poor and the deprived. One day his retainer carried a bowl of broth. The broth was boiling because of the intense heat. The retainer stumbled over a child of the Imam. Thus, the child died at once. So, the ‘Alid women wept loudly. The Imam was praying. When he had finished his prayers, he was told about the death of his child. However, he, peace be on him, hurried to the retainer. He found him shaking with fear. He met him with kindness and affection, and said to him: “You have doubts about ‘Ali b. al-Husayn. You have thought that he will punish you. Go, you are free for Allah. These are four thousand dinars as a gift for you. Excuse me for the fear that has hit you because of me.”13
How wonderful this soul is! It is superior to the good servants whose hearts Allah tested with belief. The Imam inherited these great morals from his grandfather, the great Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, who established the standard of manners in the earth.
C. Among his high morals was that while he was going out of the mosque, a man from those who hated him began cursing and abusing him. Some of the Imam's companions and followers became angry with the man. However, the Imam, peace be on him, calmed them, and then he treated the man kindly, saying: “You do not know our affair completely. Do you have a need to help you against it?”
The man felt shame. He wished that the earth would hide him. Defeat and regret appeared on his face. The Imam, peace be on him, walked towards him. He gave him a shirt. Besides he ordered one thousand dinars to be given to him. Thus, the man said: “I bear witness that you are among the children of the prophets.”14
These are some of his attitudes that are full of mercy, clemency, and self- denial. Indeed the morals of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on him, are a school that is based on honor, nobility, and on everything through which man becomes high.
After the tragedy of Karbala', Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, devoted himself to proclaiming knowledge among the people. He did not confine himself to the science of tradition and jurisprudence. Rather, he took care of ethics, literature, philosophy, and wisdom. Moreover, he supplied the Islamic thought with large abilities of knowledge, wisdom, and etiquette. His book called ‘al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya', his treatise on rights, the encyclopedias of tradition, and the books of ethics are full of them.
He, peace be on him, urged the Muslims to seek knowledge. He summoned them to strive to study knowledge because it is the creative means for their development and the prosper of their life. He, peace be on him said: “If people knew what is in seeking knowledge, they would seek it even through shedding blood and wading into the depth of the sea.”
He, peace be on him, advised some of his companions to spread knowledge. In addition he ordered them not to be proud towards the teacher. He, peace be on him, said: “Indeed if you are good in teaching the people and do not show pride towards them, Allah will increase you from His favor. If you prevent them from learning your knowledge, then it is incumbent on Allah, the Great and Almighty, to deprive you of knowledge and its splendor and to drop your position from the hearts.”15
He, peace be on him, took care of the seekers of knowledge and raised their position. When he saw one of them, he said: “Welcome to the will of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family. “Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, said: “When my father, Zayn al-‘Abidin, looked at the young men who sought knowledge, he made them nearer to him, saying: ‘Welcome to you, you are the deposits of knowledge. If you are the young men of people, you are about to be the elders of others.'”16
The readers of the Quran devoted themselves to Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin to learn from him sciences, knowledge, and manners of conduct. Sa‘id b. al-Musayyab talked about their cleaving to the Imam, saying: “Indeed, the readers of the Quran did not go to Mecca till ‘Ali b. al-Husayn went there. He went there and a thousand riders went with him.”17
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, felt pity for slaves. Thus, he bought them and their women. Then he released them all to enjoy freedom and dignity. When he released them, he gave them enough money to be in no need of people.
He adopted a group of slaves. Then he taught them various kinds of knowledge and sciences. A large group of them graduated from his school. They were among the great scholars at that time. That was the reason why the slaves headed the scientific movement during those times. That was also the reason why they followed the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, and joined every political movement that summoned the people to get rid of the Umayyad government and to return the caliphate to the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, who were the refuge for every poor and deprived person.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was among the monks of this community in his worship and piety. He was given the nick-name of Dhi al-Thafanat (the one with calluses). That was because of his many prostrations (in prayer). He was also given the nick-name of al-Mujtahid (the hardworking one), Zayn al-‘Abidin (the ornament of the worshipers), and Sayyid al-‘Abidin (the Lord of the worshipers).18 The nick-name of al-Sajjad refers to his constant worship and his great cleaving to Allah. The historians reported that when he used to perform ritual ablutions, his skin would turn yellow. Thus, his family said to him: “What is that which hits you during the ablution? “He said to them: “Do you not know before whom I want to stand?”19
His son, al-Baqir, came to him. He found him worshipping Allah to the extent that he turned pale because of staying up at night, his eyes had white secretion because of weeping, his forehead festered because of much prostration (in prayer), and his legs swelled because of praying at night. So, his son burst into tears. However, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was praying. When he saw his son, he ordered him to give him the parchments in which there was the (practice of) worship of his grandfather, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be on him. His son gave him those parchments. He considered them carefully. Then he left them out of boredom and said: “Who is strong enough to perform the worship of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib?”20
When he, peace be on him, rose to pray before Allah, he turned toward the Great Creator with his heart and his feelings. No affair of this life made him busy. Imam al-Baqir said: “When my father rose to pray, he did not busy himself in other than it and did not hear anything, for he devoted himself to it. “One of his children fell and broke his hand. His family cried. Then they sent for the bone setter. He set the hand of the child who was crying because of the intense pain. The Imam did not hear anything. When he entered upon morning and saw the boy's splint hand, he asked about that. So, his family told him about that.21
Worship strained him very much. Indeed he overexerted himself for it. Thus, his family feared for his safety. They begged him to decrease his worship. However, he refused that. Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, said: “When Fatima, the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, saw her nephew, ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, overexerting himself in worshipping, she went to Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari and said to him: “O Companion of the Apostle of Allah, indeed, we have rights with you. Among our rights with you is that when you see one of us overexerting himself, you must make him remember Allah and ask him to relieve himself. The nose of ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, the rest of his father, al-Husayn, has been torn. His forehead, his kneels, and his palms (of the hands) have become swollen. That is because he has overexerted himself in worshipping.”
So, Jabir went to Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin. He found him overexerting himself in worshipping at his mihrab. The Imam rose to receive Jabir. He seated him beside him and asked him very much about his condition. Then Jabir asked the Imam:
“O Son of the Apostle of Allah, do you not know that Allah has created Paradise for you and for those who love you and created Fire for those who hate you and show enmity towards you? So, why do you overexert yourself?”
The Imam answered Jabir with kindness and affection: “O Companion of the Apostle of Allah, do you not know that Allah has forgiven my grandfather, Allah's Apostle, his past and following faults? Still he overexerted himself for Allah. May my father and mother be ransom for Allah's Apostle, he worshipped Allah till his leg and his foot became swollen. It was said to him: ‘do you do that while Allah has forgiven you your past and following faults?' Thus, he said: ‘should I not be a grateful servant?' ”
When Jabir knew that the Imam insisted on overexerting himself, he said to him: “O Son of the Apostle of Allah, spare your life. That is because you are from the family through whom the tribulation is driven away, through whom the illness is cured, and through whom the sky rains.”
The Imam replied him with a faint voice: “I will continue the way of my father and of my grandfather. I will follow their example till I meet them.”
Jabir was astonished. Thus, he said to those who were around him: “No child of the prophets was like ‘Ali b. al-Husayn except Joseph, the son of Jacob. By Allah, the children of al-Husayn are better than the children of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Indeed one of them will fill the earth with justice as it had been filled with injustice.”22
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was the Imam of the pious and the repentant. Indeed he overexerted himself in his worshipping. He was loyal in his obedience. He cleaved to Allah to the extent that even saints did not do that.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was the kindest of all the people to the weak, the gentlest of them to the needy and the most merciful of them to the miserable. He preferred the poor to himself and his family. The historians have unanimously agreed that he carried a bag of bread on his back and divided it among the poor as alms. He said: “Indeed the secret alms put out the Lord's wrath.”23 He maintained one hundred families in Medina.24 He had kissed the poor person before he gave him the alms.25 He did that lest the poor should feel abasement.
The historians said: “When Imam Abu Ja‘far (al-Baqir) washed his father, some of those who attended his washing saw that his kneels and the outside of his feet were like those of the he-camel. That is because the Imam prostrated (in prayer) very much. Meanwhile they looked at his shoulders and saw that they were similar to his knees and feet. Thus, they asked Imam al-Baqir about that. He, peace be on him, said: “If he was living, I would not tell you about that. Every day, he as far as possible fed a needy person up wards. When the night came, he looked at what remained from the food of his family at that day of theirs. He put the food into the bag. When the people became calm, he put the bag on his shoulder. He went through (the streets) of Medina. He intended to reach a group of people who did not ask the people for alms. He reached them while they did not know him. No one of his family knew that except me. I knew that he wanted to give alms secretly with his own hand. He said: “The secret alms put out the Lord's wrath.”26
Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, reported some of his father's alms, saying: “Perhaps my father bought a silk garment for fifty dinars. He spent the winter wearing it. He entered the mosque wearing it. When the summer came, he ordered the garment to be given as alms or he ordered it to be bought to give its price as alms.27
Indeed Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was unique in the history of mankind. That is because his moral criteria and his psychological merits raised him to the level which nobody reached except his grandfathers.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, went to the Sacred House of Allah to perform the pilgrimage. Meanwhile Hisham b. ‘Abd al-Malik went there for the same purpose. The latter did his best to touch the Black Stone but he was unable to do that, for the people overcrowded around it. A pulpit was installed and he sat on it. He began looking at the circumambulation of the people. Then Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin came to perform his circumambulation. When the pilgrims saw him, they were astonished at his solemnity that was similar to the solemnity of his grandfather, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. The people were shouting loudly: “There is no god but God! Allah is great!” They made two queues for him. Happy was he who saw him, kissed his hand, and touched his shoulder. That is because the Imam was the rest of Allah in his earth. The Syrians were astonished when they saw that situation. That is because the pilgrims did not received Hisham, who was the nominated caliph after his father, warmly though the Syrians honored him and the policemen surrounded him.
One of Hisham's companions asked him: “Who is that man whom the people have honored very much?
Hisham burst into anger, shouted at the man, saying: “I do not know him!”
He claimed that he did not know the Imam lest the people should know him. Al-Farazdaq was there. He did not control himself. Thus, he said to the Syrians: “I know him.” “Who is he, Abu Firas?” asked the Syrians. Hisham shouted at al-Farazdaq, saying: “I do not know him!” “Yes, you know him,” replied al-Farazdaq.
Then he rose and composed the following poem whose effect was stronger than the hitting of the swords and the stabbing of the spears against Hisham. He said:
This is the son of Husayn and the son of Fatima the daughter of the Apostle through whom the darkness dispersed.
This is he whose ability the valley (of Mecca) recognizes, and whom the (Sacred) House (as do) the sanctuary and the area outside the sanctuary (al-hill).
This is the son of the best of Allah's servants. This is the pure pious man, the pure eminent man.
When Quraysh saw him, their spokesman said:
Liberality terminates at the outstanding qualities of this (man).
He belongs to the top of glory which the Arabs of Islam and non-Arabs fall short of obtaining.
When he comes to touch the wall of the Kaaba, it almost grasps the palm of his hand.
He takes care to be modest and he is protected from his terror. He only speaks when he smiles.
There is a cane in his hand. Its smell is fragrant from the hand of the most wonderful (of all the people), who is proud.
The prophets yielded to his grandfather's favor. The nations yielded to the favor of his community.
The light of guidance emanates from the light of his forehead. He is like the sun whose shining disperses darkness.
His tree belongs to the Apostle of Allah. Its elements, its natures, and its qualities are good.
This is the son of Fatima if you do not recognize him. The prophets of Allah were ended by his grandfather.
Allah honored and favored him from antiquity.
Your words ‘who is this?’ do not harm him. The Arabs and non-Arabs recognize him whom you deny.
Both his hands are relief. Their advantage has prevailed. The hands are equal. Nonexistence does not befall them.
He is the carrier of the burdens of the people when they are oppressed.
His qualities are good. The ‘yes’ is sweet with him.
He does not break the promise. His soul is blessed. His courtyard is wide. He is clever when he decides.
He is from the people whose love is religion, whose hate is unbelief, whose approach is refuge and protection.
If the God-fearing are numbered, they are their Imams. If it is said who are the best of the earth, it is said they are.
No generous man can reach their far purpose. No people, though generous, can compete with them (for generosity).
They are rain when a crisis happens. They are lions when fear becomes intense.
Poverty does not decreases the relief from their hands. That is the same, whether they are rich or poor.
Misfortune and tribulation are driven away through their love.
Kindness and the blessings are regained through it.
In every affair their praise is after the praise of Allah. The speech is ended by it.
Abasement refuses to stop at their space. Their natures are noble, and their hands are full of liberality.
None of mankind has within their souls such primacy as he does nor such grace as he does.
Whoever knows Allah, knows His friend. Religion is from the House of this man.
Hisham burst into anger. He wished that the earth would swallow him up. He was displeased to hear this poem called al-‘Asma'. That is because it indicated the high social rank of the great Imam. Besides it made the Syrians recognize him, for they did not recognize him nor did they recognize his grandfathers. Accordingly, Hisham ordered al-Farazdaq to be imprisoned at a place called ‘Asfan between Mecca and Medina. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin heard of that, so he sent al-Farazdaq twelve thousand dirhams. However, al-Farazdaq returned them. He refused to accept them and said: “I said that concerning you as anger for Allah and His Apostle.” The Imam returned them and al-Farazdaq agreed to accept them. Then al-Farazdaq began dispraising Hisham.28
In this world nobody was afflicted with disaster as Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him. That is because he suffered from the fears of the disaster of Karbala'. He saw the stages of that tragedy that is immortal in the world of grief. He was ill, for illnesses and diseases attacked him. Those sad sights melted his heart. Thus, they moved him to weep continuously. His deep sadness increased in the course of days. So, sadness melted him. His sadness for his father became great to the extent that he mixed his food with his tears.29
Thus, some of his followers begged him to be patient, saying: “We are afraid that you will be among the perished. “However, the Imam answered them kindly: “I express my grief and my sadness before Allah. I know what you do not know. Indeed Jacob was a prophet. He had twelve children. Allah concealed on of his children. Jacob knew that his child was living. Still, he wept over him to the extent that his eyes became white because of sadness. For me, I looked at my father, my brothers, my uncles, and my companions. They were killed around me. So, how does my sadness end? When I remember the murder of the son of Fatima (Imam Husayn), I burst into tears. When I look at my aunts and my sisters, I remember the day when they escaped from tent to tent at the Battle of Karbala'. Nevertheless, the caller of the people shouted: ‘Burn the tents of the oppressive. ' ”
Those painful sights that occurred at Karbala' motivated his sadness and sorrow. So, he is numbered as one of the five weeping persons who have represented sadness and weeping in the arena of life for centuries.
Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, witnessed that exhausting sadness that befell his father. Thus, he became very impatient. Perhaps he shared his father his weeping and his grief.
The great Imam supplied his son al-Baqir and all his children with educational commandments full of high manners and noble values. They achieve safety, rest, and tranquility to those who put them into practice. The following are some of them:
1. He, peace be on him, said to his son, al-Baqir: “O My little son, do not make friends with five (persons), and do not talk with them. Do not make friends with the sinner, for he sells you for a meal or less than it. I (al-Baqir) said: ‘My father, what do you mean by less than it?' He replied: ‘He wishes for it, then he will not obtain it. 'Do not make friends with the miser, for he abandons you when you are in need of him. Do not make friends with the liar, for he is like the mirage. He makes the near (things) far for you, and he makes the distant (things) near for you. Do not make friends with the fool, for he wants to avail you but he harms you. It was said: ‘A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend. 'Do not make friends with him who abandons his close relatives, for he is cursed at three places in Allah's Book: in the Chapter of Muhammad, Allah, the Most High, said:
In the Chapter of al-Ra‘d, Allah, the Exalted, said:
In the Chapter of al-Ahzab, Allah, the Most High, said:
In these commandments the Imam, peace be on him, warned Muslims of making friends with the above-mentioned persons whose morals are bad, for the psychological illnesses of such people pass along their friends. Indeed friendship has a great effect on forming the personal behavior of the individual.
2. He, peace be on him, recommended his son, al-Baqir, with these valuable commandments. He said to him: “Do good for everybody who asks you for it. If he is appropriate for it, then you are right in giving it. If he is inappropriate for it, then you are appropriate for it. If a man abuses you on your right hand and then the man moves to your left hand and apologizes to you, then accept his apology.”31
These commandments are full of the noble ethics which the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, adopted. They urged the Muslims to do good and asked them to forgive those who mistreated them. These are the most prominent qualities of them.
3. Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, said: “My father, ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, said to his children: ‘Be careful of small and big lies during seriousness and joking. That is because if the person tells a small lie, he will tell a big one.’”32
The Imam, peace be on him, urged his children to adopt good deeds. He planted noble qualities in themselves. He prevented them from practicing the deeds that corrupt man's behavior.
4. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, recommended his son, Imam al-Baqir, to cleave to the following excellent commandments. He, peace be on him, said: “My little son, intellect is the guide of the soul. Knowledge is the guide of the intellect. Intellect is the translator of knowledge. Know that knowledge is more surviving, the tongue is more prattling, and that the reform of all the world is in two words- cleverness and heedlessness.33 For man does not neglects what he has already recognized. Know that the hours decrease your lifetime. You do not obtain a blessing but through leaving another blessing. Beware of the long hope.”34
These are some of his commandments. They are full of high morals, valuable wise sayings, and sound directions. The Imam did not put them for his children only. Rather he put them for all people regardless of their nationalities and their religions.
As for all his supplications, they represent an origin bright side of the sides of Islamic education. They are the best ways to educate souls and to improve morals.
The great Imam knew that black clouds of social, moral and religious deterioration prevailed in the community during his time. So, he put his supplications known as ‘al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya'. Through them he wanted to cure psychological diseases and to renew the mental and spiritual qualities of the community. The supplications are among the most valuable Islamic works after the Holy Quran and Nahjj al-Balagha.
Indeed Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin's supplications are full of knowledge, wise sayings, and spiritual Islamic belief. They supply the community with the teachings necessary to achieve its individual and social balance. Among his holy supplications for his children is the following. He, peace be on him, said:
O Allah, be kind to me through
The survival of my children,
Setting them right for me,
And allowing me to enjoy them!
O Allah, make long their lives for me,
Increase their terms,
Bring up the smallest for me,
Strengthen the weakest for me,
Rectify for me their bodies,
Their religious dedication,
And their moral traits,
Make them well in their souls, their limbs,
And everything that concerns me of their affair,
And pour out for me and upon my hand
Make them pious, fearing, insightful, hearing,
And obedient toward You,
Loving and well-disposed toward Your friends,
And stubbornly resistant and full of hate
Toward all Your enemies!
O Allah, through them strengthen my arm,
Straighten my burdened back,
Multiply my number,
Adorn my presence,
Keep alive my mention,
Suffice me when I am away,
Help me in my needs,
And make them loving toward me,
Affectionate, approaching, upright,
Obedient, never disobedient, disrespectful
Opposed, or offenders!
Help me in their upbringing, their education,
And my devotion toward them,
Give me among them from Yourself male children,
Make that a good for me,
And make them a help for me
In that which I ask from You!
Give me and my progeny refuge from the accursed Satan,
For You have created us, commanded us, and prohibited us,
And made us desire the reward of what You have commanded
And fear its punishment!
You assigned to us an enemy
Who schemes against us,
Gave him an authority over us
In a way that You did not give us an authority over him,
Allowed him to dwell in our breasts
And let him run in our blood vessels;
He is not heedless though we are heedless,
He does not forget though we forget;
He makes us feel secure from your punishment
And fill us with fear toward other than You.
If we are about to commit an indecency,
He gives us courage to do so,
And if we are about to perform a righteous work,
He holds us back from it.
He opposes us through passions
And sets up for us doubts.
If he promises us, he lies
And if he raises our hopes, he fails to fulfill them.
If You do not turn his trickery away from us,
He will misguide us,
And if You do not protect us from his corruption,
He will cause us to slip.
O Allah, so defeat his authority over us through Your authority,
Such that You hold him back from us
Through the frequency of our supplication to You
And we leave his trickery
And rise up among those preserved by You from sin!
O Allah, grant me my every request,
Accomplish for me my needs
Withhold not from me Your response
When You have made Yourself accountable for it to me,
Veil not my supplication from Yourself,
When You have commanded me to make it,
And be kind to me through everything that will set me right
In this world and the next,
In everything that I remember or forget,
Display or conceal,
Make public or keep secret!
In all of this, place me through my asking You among
Those who set things right,
Those who are answered favorably
When they request from You
And from whom is not withheld
When they put their trust in You,
Those accustomed to seek refuge in You,
Those who profit through commerce with You,
Those granted sanctuary through Your might,
Those given lawful provision in plenty from Your bound less bounty
Through Your munificence and generosity,
Those who reach exaltation after abasement through You
Those granted sanctuary from wrong through Your justice,
Those released from affliction through Your mercy,
Those delivered from need after poverty through Your riches,
Those preserved from sins, slips, and offenses through reverential fear toward You,
Those successful in goodness, right conduct, and propriety through obeying You,
Those walled off from sins through Your power,
The retainers from every act of obedience toward You,
The dwellers in Your neighborhood!
O Allah, give all of that through Your bestowal of success and Your mercy,
Grant us refuge from the chastisement of the burning,
And give to all the Muslims, male and female,
And all the faithful, male and female,
The like of what I have asked for myself and my children,
In the immediate of this world
And the deferred of the next!
Verily You are the Near, the Responder,
The All-hearing, the All-knowing,
The pardoner, the Forgiving,
The Clement, the merciful!
And give to us in this world good,
And in the next world good,
And protect us from the chastisement of the Fire!35
Indeed the great Imam put the methods of education and the ethics of Islam through this holy supplication, which is among the gifts of Prophethood, the fragrant smells of the Imamate, and the bright pages of the heritage of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them.
The Imam took care of this supplication to educate the morals of his children and to purify their souls from deviation from the right path and sins. He prayed for Allah to set right their religion, to protect them from committing what he prohibited, and to set right their conduct so that they would be the delight of his eye and a help for him to achieve the affairs of this life. It is natural for the father to be happy when his child is righteous. When the child deviates, he turns his parents' life into an unbearable inferno.
The great Imam overexerted himself in worship. He was very loyal to Allah. The people saw nobody like him in piety and intense cleaving to the religion. His life was a school for piety, belief, education, and reform. The people admired him very much, for he was the rest of the Prophethood and of Allah in His earth. Thus, they were happy to see him, to sit with him, and to talk with him.
This was difficult for the Umayyads who were the most malicious of all the people towards the Prophet's family. They were afraid of the Imam, for the people admired him very much, and talked about his vast knowledge. Among the most malicious towards him was al-Walid b. ‘Abd al-Malik. Al-Zuhri reported that al-Walid said: “I have no rest as long as ‘Ali b. al-Husayn is in this world.”36 When this spiteful person became caliph, he decided to kill the Imam.
Al-Walid committed the most dangerous crime in Islam. He sent deadly poison to his governor of Medina (Yathrib). He commanded him to give the poison to the Imam to drink.37 His governor carried out that order. When the Imam was given the poison to drink, he suffered from severe pains. He remained alive for some days on the death bed expressing his grief to Allah. The people crowded to visit him. However, he, peace be on him, was praising Allah for granting him martyrdom at the hands of the worst of His creatures.
He, peace be on him, charged his son, al-Baqir, with the Imamate after him and designated him as the Imam. Al-Zuhri said: [I went to him to visit him. Then I said to him:] “If Allah's unavoidable order occurs, whom shall we follow after you?”
The Imam looked at me kindly and said to me: “This son of mine, pointing to his son al-Baqir, for he is my trustee, my inheritor, and the container of my knowledge. He is the origin of knowledge and the one who will split it open. ”
“Will you not designate your eldest son?”
“Abu ‘Abd Allah, oldness and youngness do not concern the Imamate. In this manner, Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, nominated us. Thus, we have found it written in the tablet and the parchment. ”
“Son of the Apostle of Allah, did your Prophet entrust you to be the trustees (of authority) after him?”
“We have found twelve names in the parchment and the tablet. Their Imamate, their fathers' names, and their mothers' names have been written in the tablet.” Then he said: “Seven of the trustees will come forth from the back of Muhammad, my son. Al-Mahdi will be one of them.”38
Some prominent Shi‘ites came to him. He told them about the Imamate of his son al-Baqir. He appointed him as the authority and leader for the community of his grandfather. Then he gave him a basket and a box in which were the prophets' heritage and the weapon and the books of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family.39
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, peace be on him, entrusted his trustee and the Lord of his sons, Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, to carry out his bequests that are as follow:
1. He said to him: “Through this she-camel of mine, I performed the hajj twenty times. I have never whipped it. When it dies, bury it so as the beasts of prey do not eat its meat. That is because Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, said: “Allah numbers the camel from the blessings of Heaven when the pilgrim performs the hajj seven times through it. And He makes blessed its progeny. ”Imam al-Baqir carried that out.40
2. He advised him to carry out the following valuable bequest that denote some bright qualities of the members of the House (ahl al-Bait), peace be on them. He said to him: “I advise you with what my father advised me when death came to him. He said to me: “My little son, beware of oppressing him who has no supporter against you but Allah.”41
3. He entrusted him to wash and shroud him and to take care of all his affairs till he buried him in his final resting place.42
The Imam was in a critical condition, for the death pangs became more serious. The members of his House were told that he would move to Paradise in the darkness of the night. He fainted three times. When he got well, he read the chapter of al-Waqi‘a and the chapter of Inna Fatahna, and then he, peace be no him, said: “Praise belongs to Allah, Who has made good to us his promise, and has made us inherit the land; we abide in the garden where we please; so goodly is the reward of the workers.”43
Then that great soul ascended to its Creator as the souls of the prophets and of the apostles ascended. The angels of the Merciful surrounded it. Allah's favors, greetings, and pleasure surrounded it too. His soul ascended to Heaven after it had enlightened the horizons of this universe and the worlds of this world had shone through it. That is because it had left behind it noble practices through which the perplexed one and the straying one follow the right way.
Imam Abu Ja‘far (al-Baqir) prepared his father's body. When he washed his body, the people saw the places of his prostration (in prayer). They were similar to the camel's kneels because of his many prostrations for his Creator. The people looked at his shoulders. They looked like the camel's kneels too. Thus, the people asked al-Baqir about that. He told them that his father's shoulders were so because of the food bag he carried on them for the poor and the deprived.
After al-Baqir had washed his father's body, he shrouded it and prayed over it.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin was escorted to his final resting place in the manner which Medina (Yathrib) had never seen before. The pious and the sinners paid him the last hours. All the people wept over him, for they lost much good at his death. Moreover, they lost that high soul of which no soul was created. The people crowded around that holy body. They were happy to raise it. It was strange that Sa‘id b. al-Musayyab, one of the seven jurists in Medina, did not escort the Imam and did not pray over him. Hushrum, Ashja‘s retainer, blamed him for that. Sa‘id said to him: “To pray two raq‘as in the mosque is more lovable for me than to pray over this good man from the good House.44 Sa‘id was deprived of escorting the Imam who was the most pious human being Allah created after his pure grandfathers.
The people were around the great body praising and glorifying Allah. They brought it to the (cemetery) of Baqi‘al-Gharqad. They dug a grave for it beside the grave of his pure uncle, Imam al-Hasan b. ‘Ali, the Lord of the youth of Heaven. Imam al-Baqir buried his father's body in its final resting place. He buried with it kindness, piety, clemency, and the spiritual qualities of the prophets and of the pious.
Then the people hurried toward Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, to condole him. The Imam, his bothers, and all the Hashimites thanked them for that.
After he had buried his father at the (cemetery) of Baqi al-Gharqad, Imam Abu Ja‘far (al-Baqir), peace be on him, went home weeping The Hashimites, the children of the Companions (of the Prophet), and the notable Muslims surrounded him. They were weeping over Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin and mentioning his traits and his deeds. They were also mentioning with great sorrow the heavy loss that befell the Muslims at his death.
After his father's death, Imam al-Baqir, peace be on him, undertook the spiritual leadership and the general authority of the Muslim world. The Imamate and the religious leader with the Shi‘ites passed to him.45 From that moment, he began to proclaim knowledge and to teach the scholars special lessons about the affairs of Islamic Law and the rules of religion. Most historians mentioned that he lived for 39 years under the protection of his father.46 The orientalist Roait M. Reynolds made a mistake when he mentioned that the Imam's age was 19 years when the Imamate passed to him.47 That has occurred because of the paucity of the studies on the affairs of Islamic history.
In his book ‘al-Tarikh', b. ‘Asakir reported some fabrications on the authority of Muhammad b. Ja‘far al-Samiry, who said: I heard Abu Musa, the educator, say: Qays b. al-Nu‘man said: “One day I went to some graveyards of Medina. Suddenly, I found a boy. The boy was sitting beside a grave and weeping loudly. Rays of light were coming out of his face. I walked toward him and said: “O Boy, what has made you sad to the extent that it has made you lonely at the graveyards and weep over the deed while you are in the inexperience of boyhood paying no attention to the difference of the times and the longing of grief? The boy raised his head and lowered it. He kept silent for an hour without giving an answer. Then he raised his head and said:
Indeed the boy is he whose intellect is young.
Neither youngness nor oldness has abased the wise from us.
Then he said to me: You have no ability to think. Your bowels are free from sorrow. You feel safe from the approach of death through the long hope. Indeed the thing that has made me lonely at the graveyard reminds me of the Words of Allah, the Great and Almighty: ‘And the trumpet shall be blown, when lo! From the graves they shall hasten on to their Lord. ‘So, I said: May my father and mother be ransom for you, who are you? He said: ‘The unhappiness of the fools is that their knowledge of the children of the prophets is little. I am Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. al-Husayn. This is the grave of my father. Which sociability is more sociable than his nearness? Which loneliness is with him? Then he composed, saying:
When my tears decrease at a misfortune,
I make weeping a cause for it.
Qays said: ‘I went away. I did not leave the visitation of the graves from that time.48’” This report was fabricated, for it denotes that the Imam was still young after his father's death. However, the historians have unanimously agreed that his holy age was 39 years. Thus, when we consider carefully this report, we understand that it is among the fabrications.
With this our talk about Imam Muhammad al-Baqir under the wing of his father and of his grandfather is over. He inherited from them the greatest thing which the branches inherit from the origins. He inherited from them knowledge, wisdom, and sound judgments.
- 1. Tarikh Dimashq, vol.51, p.38. Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol.4, p.241
- 2. Al-Ya‘qubi, Tarikh, vol.2, p.61
- 3. Ibid, vol.2, p.46
- 4. Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol.7, p.305
- 5. Hulyat al-Awliya’, vol.3, p.309
- 6. Tabaqat al-Fuqaha’, p.34
- 7. Al-Ya‘qubi, Tarikh, vol.2, p.48
- 8. Hulyat al-Awliya’, vol.3, p.141
- 9. Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol.7, p.305
- 10. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, p.73
- 11. Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, vol.9, p.104
- 12. Wasilat al-Mal fi ‘Ad Manaqib al-Al, p.208
- 13. Saffwat al-Safwa
- 14. Wasilat al-Mal fi ‘Ad Manaqib al-Al, p.208
- 15. Radi al-Din al-Tubrisi, Makarim al-Akhlaq, p.143
- 16. Al-Dur al-Nazim, p.181. Al-Anwar al-Bahiya, p.103
- 17. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.2, p.83
- 18. Al-Dur al-Nazim, p.179
- 19. Durr al-Abkar fi Safwat al-Akhyar
- 20. A‘lam al-Wara, p.360
- 21. Al-Dur al-Nazim, p.179
- 22. Ahmed Fahmi, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, pp.72-73
- 23. Hulyat al-Awliya’, vol.3, p.136
- 24. Ibid
- 25. Ibid
- 26. Da‘a’im al-Islam, vol.2, p.188
- 27. Ibid, p.156
- 28. Nihayat al-Irab, vol.21, pp.327-331
- 29. Hayat al-Imam al-Husayn, vol.3, p.327
- 30. Al-Ithaf bi Hub al-Ashraf, p.282
- 31. Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, p.282
- 32. Wasa’il al-Shi‘a, vol.3, p.232
- 33. Many authors ascribed these golden words to Imam al-Baqir
- 34. Al-Khazzaz, Kifayat al-Athar, p.319
- 35. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya, supplication no.25
- 36. Hayat al-Imam ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, p.426
- 37. Ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p.233
- 38. Ithbat al-Hudat, vol.5, p.264
- 39. Ibid, p.268
- 40. Al-Barqi, al-Mahasin, vol.2, p.635
- 41. Al-Khisal, p.185
- 42. Al-Khara’ijj, p.20
- 43. Roudat al-Kafi
- 44. Al-Kashi, Rijal, p.76
- 45. Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol.5, p.204
- 46. Ibn Abi al-Thaljj al-Baghdadi, Tarikh al-A’imma, p.5
- 47. ‘Aqidat al-Shi‘a, p.123
- 48. Ibn ‘Asakir, Tarikh, vol.51, pp.44-45