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Chapter 3: Imam Al-Sajjad’s (‘A) Martyrdom

After the death of his father (Abdul Malik), Walid Ibn Abdul Malik became the next caliph. Masoodi, an outstanding historian says about him:1 in which ‘Jabbar’ means cruel and stubborn, ‘Unaid’ means "pertinacious", "obstinate" and "self- willed" who all knowingly fights against the truth. ‘Zuloom’ is the exaggerated form of ‘oppression’; translating as a person who is very cruel, while ‘Ghushoom’ also means cruelty.

Walid was so cruel that even Ummar Ibn Abdul ‘Aziz, who was also a caliph of his time from the Ummayyad dynasty, said about him: "He was one of those men who filled the Earth with cruelty."2

It was in the time of this vicious caliph that one of the great Islamic scholars, Sa’id Ibn Jubayr, was martyred by the cruellest worker of the Ummayyad dynasty, Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf.

For Walid, the most powerful enemy and opponent was Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a). According to him, his government was not safe nor complete unless Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) was also martyred.

Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) was enjoying great favour amongst the people to the extent that they were astonished about his knowledge, religious jurisprudence and prayers, and would mention the above qualities with respect and wonder. His stories of passion and other abilities were the only topics discussed ubiquitously in social gatherings.

Imam Al-Sajjad was so dear to the people that everyone considered himself fortunate who had met him or heard him speak. All these aspects, which were making Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) increasingly popular, were a cause of worry to the Ummayyads who could not sleep comfortably at night consumed, as they were, with jealousy. Walid Ibn Abdul Malik, in particular, became irate with the situation because he was dreaming of ruling the Muslims and being the next successor of the Holy Prophet (S). He was amongst the most revengeful enemies of Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a).3

Zahri reported Walid as saying: "There lies no peace and tranquillity for me while ‘Ali ibin Al-Husayn (‘a) is alive."4

Therefore, when he became ruler, he decided to martyr the Imam (‘a). He sent some deadly poison to the ruler of Madinah so that he could trap Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a) with it.5 The governor of Madinah did so. The great Imam (‘a) passed away, and a huge void in the world of knowledge, service and jihad (holy war against those who do not believe in Islam and Allah Almighty) was left.

Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (‘a) took upon himself the responsibility of his father’s funeral; and a huge number of people gathered to escort the funeral; such a huge volume of crowds had not previously been experienced by the city of Madinah. The holy deceased body of the Imam (‘a) was brought to the Baqi’ (graveyard). A grave was dug for him next to his uncle and leader of the youth in Paradise, Imam Hasan Al-Mujtaba (‘a). And thus, Imam Al-Baqir (‘a) left the holy body of Imam Zayn Al-’Abidin in peace.

The blessings of Allah be on him on the day he was born, on the time he was martyred and when he will be resurrected.

  • 1. Ibid, 3/96.
  • 2. Tarikh Al-Khulafa' p. 223.
  • 3. About Imam Al-Sajjad's (‘a) martyrdom, some historians say that his murderer was Husham Ibn Abd Al-Malik. He was the man who sent someone to poison Imam Al-Sajjad (‘a). Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar 46/153; we also can add both of these sayings and can say that Walid ordered Husham to do such an evil deed and Husham obeyed his order and poisoned the Imam (‘a).
  • 4. Ayat Al Imam Zayn Al-‘Abidin 678.
  • 5. Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar 46/153, taken from Sabbagh Maliki's ''Ibn Al-Sabbagh, Al-Fusul Al-Muhimmah' 194.