In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful
All praise to Him, He who gave everything its nature, then guided it aright. All peace and blessings be upon those whom He has chosen to be the guides of His creatures, especially the Seal of the Prophets and the Chief of the elite Messengers, the divinely chosen Prophet Abu’l- Qasim Muhammad, and the members of his Household, the blessed and well- selected ones.
As Allah the Almighty created man, He furnished him with the two elements of intellect and volition. By intellect, man can perceive things in order to detect the truth and distinguish it from falsehood. By volition, man can choose what is good for him in order to achieve his goals and purposes.
Allah the Almighty then decided intellect to be an argument against His creatures and helped them make use of their intellects through many aspects of His guidance. It is thus Allah Who taught man what he had not known:
عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
“Taught man that which he knew not.” (Surah Al-’Alaq, 96:5).
And showed him the way that takes him to his most proper perfection:
اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ
"Guide us (O’ Lord) on the Straight Path." (Surah Al-Fatihah, 1:6).
صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
"The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy bounties, not (the path) of those inflicted with Thy wrath, nor (of those) gone astray." (Surah Al-Fatihah, 1:7).
And appraised him of the goal of his creation:
وَأنَّ إِلَی رَبِّكَ الْمُنتَهَی
“And that to your Lord is the return of all”. (Surah An-Najm, 53:42).
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلاّ لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me”. (Surah Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56).
And caused him to exist in this world for the purpose of achieving this goal.
Through clear-cut texts, the Wise Qur’an clarified the signs, horizons, requirements, and ways to the divine guidance. It also demonstrated the causes and effects of this guidance and revealed its fruits and outcomes. In this way, the Holy Qur’an has provided us with a perfect view of divinity and its methods.
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
“The Lord who created death and life so that He may test you that which of you is better in deed. And He is the Omnipotent, the Oft-Forgiving”. (Surah Al-Mulk, 67:2).
In many of the texts of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has revealed the reality, principles, characteristics, ways, epitomes, and outcomes of divine guidance. Some of these texts are as follows:
إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ
"... Say: Verily, the guidance of Allah, that is the (true) guidance." (Surah Al-An’am, 6:71).
وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
"... For Allah guides whom He will to a path that is straight." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:213).
وَاللَّهُ يَقُولُ الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ يَهْدِي السَّبِيلَ
"... But Allah tells (you) the truth, and He shows the (right) way." (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:4).
وَمَنْ يَعْتَصِمْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ هُدِيَ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
"... Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown that which is straight." (Surah Aali- Imran, 3:101).
قُلِ اللَّهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ ۗ أَفَمَنْ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّنْ لَا يَهِدِّي إِلَّا أَنْ يُهْدَىٰ ۖ فَمَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ
"... Say thou: Allah alone guides towards the Truth. Is then He more worthy to be followed, or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you? How judge ye?" (Surah Yunus, 10:35).
وَيَرَي الَّذِينَ اُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ الَّذِي اُنزِلَ اِلَيْكَ مِن رَبّـِكَ هُوَ الْحَقَّ وَيَهْدِي اِلَي صِرَاطِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيدِ
“And those who have been given the knowledge see that what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth, and guides to the path of the Mighty, the Praised.” (Surah Saba’, 34:6).
وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًي مِنَ اللَّهِ
“…...And who is more astray than he who follows his own low desire without any guidance from Allah?.....” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28:50).
The source of true guidance is exclusively Allah the Almighty, Whose guidance must be the all-true guidance. It is thus Allah the Almighty Who holds man’s hand and guides him to the straight path and the flawless truth. These facts are supported by science; therefore, knowledgeable people realize and submit to these facts from top to bottom.
Allah the Almighty has placed in human beings the instinct for perfection and seeking beauty. He then showed him grace by guiding him towards proper perfection and loaded him with the favour of identifying the way to perfection.
The Almighty says:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلاّ لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me.” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56).
As true worship cannot be achieved without recognition, thus both recognition and worship have become the sole unique way, and the channel through which one reaches the peak of perfection.
As Allah the Almighty equipped man with the senses of anger and lust in order to supply him with the fuel of movement towards perfection, man became well qualified for having a hold over his anger as well as the other way round, i.e. that anger, lust and desires, resulting from these two instincts would take control over him. As a result, man, aside from his intellect, enlightened knowledge, amongst other tools, is in need of what guarantees him perfect insight, genuine intuition, and the right course so that it would be possible for him to achieve perfection.
Once all these tools are accessible for man, the Creator would easily question him as to why he/she failed to achieve perfection, since the Creator has provided him with absolute guidance. All means to choose with full volition the way to happiness and goodness are available to him; therefore, nothing coerces man to opt for the way towards evil and misery.
Based on the above mentioned explanation, we may grasp the philosophy behind supporting man’s intellect, by means of divine revelation with easily understood dictations and trustworthy distinguished figures to follow. These persons are embodied by the guiding leaders, whom Allah the Almighty has chosen to undertake the duty of directing His servants to the right guidance. Thus, the Almighty has designated these persons as leaders of true guidance and made it possible for all human beings to recognize these leaders, whom the Almighty also provided with all directions required in all domains of life.
The prophets and their divinely guided successors have always carried the banner of divine guidance since the dawn of human history, continuing to carry it throughout the ages of human civilization and the generations that followed.
The Almighty has never left His servants without appointing for them an illuminated, enlightened guide, and director. This fact is supported by clear- cut texts of the Divine Revelation. Some of these texts, which are supported by excellent reasoning, state that the earth will never be devoid of a person, representing conveying and defending the Divine arguments for the Almighty’s creations:
رُّسُلاً مُّبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ
"(We sent) messengers as givers of glad tidings and as warners, so that people might have no argument against Allah after the (invitations of) the messengers,…..” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:165).
Thus, a representative perfect divine figure existed before the creation and with the creation, and will endure to remain after the termination of the creation.1 Moreover, even if only two beings remain alive on this globe, one of them must be appointed by the Almighty to be His Divine representation against the other.
This fact has been undoubtedly stated by the Holy Qur’an that reads:
إِنَّمَآ أَنتَ مُنذِرٌ وَلِكُلّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ
“…..You are only a Warner, and there is a guide for every people.” (Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:7).
The prophets, messengers, and their guiding divinely appointed successors, undertake the mission of guidance at all levels. This process of guidance can be summed up in a set of correlated and integral missions, which can be put in the following points:
1.) They receive the divine revelation in a perfect way and assimilate the divine mission in the most accurate manner. This process of reception stands for their perfect readiness for receiving the divine mission. For this reason, the divine selection of the Messengers must be one of the affairs that are related to Allah, the Almighty, alone. Revealing this fact, the Holy Qur’an declares:
اللّهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ
“...Allah knows best where to place His apostleship....” (Surah Al-An’am, 6:124).
وَلَكِنَّ اللّهَ يَجْتَبِي مِن رُّسُلِهِ مَن يَشَاء
“…but Allah chooses anyone He pleases from His Messengers (to acquaint with unseen)…” (Surah Aali- Imran, 3:179).
2.) They convey the divine message to the people to whom they have been sent. The conveyance of the divine message is conditional upon the ideal competence of these Messengers, which is the result of their perfect comprehension and understanding of the divine message’s details, goals, and requirements. Likewise, the Messengers’ conveyance of the divine message is conditional upon their inerrancy, meaning they are too infallible to fall into mistakes, errors, and deviations.
In reference to this point, Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ
"(All) Mankind was but a single nation, then Allah raised Prophets as bearers of good tidings and warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the Truth that it might judge between people on that wherein they differed…” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:213).
قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَإِلاَّ عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُـخْلَصِينَ
“(Iblis) said: ‘Then by Your glory, I shall pervert them all together, Except Your servants among them that are sincere.” (Surah Sad, 38:82-83).
One of the missions of the Messengers is to create a nation that believes in the divine message, also preparing the individuals of this nation to support the guiding leaders for the purpose of realizing and putting into effect the goals of the divine message. Using the two terms of tazkiyah (purification) and ta’lim (education), many Qur’anic verses have referred to these two terms, summarizing the mission. For instance, the Holy Qur’an reads:
وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ
“…to foster them and absolve them of polytheism and discord, and teach them the Heavenly Book and Wisdom…” (Surah Al-Jumu’a, 62:2).
The Qur’anic term (tazkiyah) stands for the appropriate education toward perfection, which suits human nature. On the other hand, education requires the existence of a righteous archetype, possessing all elements of perfection. In this respect, Allah the Almighty says:
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ اُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً
“Indeed in the messenger of Allah you have an excellent pattern (of conduct) for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:21).
3.) The Messengers are also required to protect the divine message from deviation, divergence, and digression throughout the period, which is valid for it has been decided by the Almighty. Once again, this mission requires scientific and mental competence, matching with the requirements in implementing this great mission.
4.) Another mission of the Messengers is to fulfil the spiritual goals of the divine message and implant the moral values in the mentalities of humans, by way of putting into action the divine program and applying the laws of the religion to the human community. This is achieved through the establishment of a political entity, assuming administration of the affairs of the community, in accordance to the divine message sent to them.
Achievement of these goals requires the existence of a wise and excellently courageous leader who must enjoy great perseverance and full acquaintance with the psychologies of the people, their social classes, their different ideological, social, and political tendencies, as well as the laws of administration, education, and norms.
These qualities can be summed up in two features; namely, competence and infallibility. The achievement of these goals requires a scientific and practical competent leader, one experienced in running the affairs of a global and religious state. Infallibility, which is identical to mental competence, is also required for protecting the religious leadership against any aberrant behaviour or misdeed that could negatively affect the progress of the leadership and mislead the masses in a way that is incompatible with the goals and purposes of the divine message.
Throughout generations, the prophets and their divinely selected successors have embarked boldly upon the course of guidance despite difficulties, suffering unbearable agonies for the sake of educating the people, as required by God.
They have thus undergone various plights in order to carry out their mission, sacrificing their most precious things for their principles and beliefs. They have not retreated for a moment nor have they ever lagged.
Allah, the Almighty crowned the relentless efforts of all of the prophets and their successors throughout the generations with the message of the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdullah (S).
The Almighty thus imposed on Prophet Muhammad (S) the greatest responsibility of guidance with all of its ranks and ordered him to work on putting into practice, the goals of the divine mission.
The Holy Prophet took this rugged course with amazing steps and in the shortest period, achieved the greatest effect in the history of revolutionary uprisings and divine messages. The outcome of his blessed efforts in a period of twenty years can be summed up as follows:
1) He provided for mankind a perfect program resplendent with all elements of perpetuity and endurance.
2) He supplied mankind with all factors that save from aberration and deviation.
3) He created a Muslim community that believes in Allah as the one and only Lord; Islam as the chief principle, Muhammad (S) as the leader, and the religious law as the formula of life.
4) He established a Muslim state and a political entity that carries the pennon of Islam and implements the laws of God.
5) He demonstrated the brilliant feature of divine leadership, represented by his wise leadership.
In order to completely bring to fruition the goals of the divine message, it was necessary that:
a.) The competent leader continuously applies the message, and protects it from acrimonious individuals awaiting calamities.
b.) The process of the sound education endured throughout generations at the hands of scientifically and mentally competent educators who, just like the Holy Prophet, represented the most excellent exemplars in both morality and behaviour, comprehending and embodying the divine message in all of their activities.
The Divine Planning For The Endurance Of The Divine Guidance After The Departure Of The Holy Prophet
For this reason, it was mandatory upon the Holy Prophet, according to the divine plan, to prepare the elite individuals from among the immaculate members of his household, for leadership after his departure. He thus referred to these individuals by name and expressed the roles that they should play.2
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلاَّ مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَن تَسْتَقْسِمُواْ بِالأَزْلاَمِ ذَلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
"Forbidden to you (for food) are carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, what has been (slaughtered) in the name of any other than that of Allah, and the beast strangled, beaten to death, killed by a fall, the gored to death by a horn, and that which a wild beast has begun to eat, (all are unlawful), except what you slaughter (in accordance with the prescribed law). And (also forbidden is to you) what has been slaughtered before idols, or that you divide by the arrows; (all) that is ungodliness. Today those who disbelieve have despaired of your religion, so do not dread them but dread Me. Today have I perfected your religion for you, and completed My favour on you, and I have chosen for you Islam as a religion. But, whoever is helplessly forced by hunger, without inclining to sin, (can enjoy the forbidden food), then verily Allah is forgiving, Merciful." (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:3).
وَإِذاً لَّآتَيْنَاهُم مِّن لَّدُنَّـا أَجْراً عَظِيمًا
"And then We would certainly have given them from Our Own accord a great reward." (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:67).
This was in order for them to continue with the great march of prophethood and remain divinely guided by Allah the Almighty, to protect the divine message continued by the Almighty against the distortions of the misleaders and plots of the traitors.
They were responsible in raising the next generations on the values determined by Allah the Almighty and concepts of the blessed religious law. Therefore, these individuals undertook the mission of explicating the features of these laws, revealing their secrets to humanity, to continue until Allah inherits the earth and all His creations are returned to Him.
The divine plan can be seen in many of the words of the Holy Prophet, like his famous saying: "I am leaving amongst you the two weighty (i.e. precious) things with which you shall never go astray, as long as you hold fast to them: the Book of Allah and the members of my household. They shall never separate from one another until they both join me at the Divine Pond."3
The Holy Imams of the Ahl Al-Bayt (i.e. the Holy Prophet’s household) have always been the best example of leadership and the real representatives of the divine plan. On many occasions, the Holy Prophet introduced them, by the command of the Almighty, as his successors, who should assume the leadership of the Muslim community after him.
The behaviour of these twelve Imams represented actual Islam and the best examples of the divine message in the times that followed that of the Holy Prophet’s era. In view of this fact, it is necessary to study their lives in detail and as comprehensively as possible, because their behaviour and approach to life brought to light an all-inclusive portrait of the Holy Prophet’s movement of propagation for Islam, forcing its way deep in the community, despite the breach that occurred following the passing of the Holy Prophet.
The Infallible Imams, although experiencing multiple attempts of elimination and dismissal from the political and social scene of the Muslim community, worked inexorably to awaken the masses directing them towards the divine message through self-application of the laws of the religion, representing the manners of the Holy Prophet, attracting all mankind to his blessed message and its goals, without deviating from the universal institutions that control the progress and development of all human societies.
The lifestyles and manners of the orthodox Imams embodied in the best way the principle of steadfastness in the Holy Prophet’s conduct; therefore, the masses began to gradually follow them and take their path in spite of the obstacles that were deliberately placed in their way.
Moreover, the masses looked upon them as epitomes of true guidance and lanterns that lit up the path for those who sought the way of truth and believed in their divinely ordained leadership. Thus, the Holy Imams have always been the guides chosen by Almighty Allah and pioneers in winning His approval. They were steadfast in carrying out His commands and loved Him greatly being eager to fulfil His will in defending the message of the Messenger of Islam, and other elevated and distinguished figures pursuing perfection.
Their lives were full of troubles and they were devoted in their obedience to Allah. They dealt with the antipathetic ones with such tolerance, that they provided the best examples of steadfastness and self-sacrifice, dedicated in establishing the practice of the laws of Allah the Almighty. They preferred martyrdom with dignity, as opposed to survival with humility; and in doing so they fulfilled Allah’s will upon enduring great struggle, severe tests and unbearable sufferings.
No historian or man of letters can ever touch on all of the inspiring aspects of their lives - taking into consideration the attempts to eliminate their effective roles in the protection of true Islam - nor could anyone claim to study their lives as perfectly as required. Thus, in this encyclopaedia, we can only attempt to reveal a few features of their lives and present snapshots of their historically recorded ways. However, we have done our best to introduce to the readers an all-inclusive view of the lives of the Holy Imams, in the hope that the Almighty will reward us. Surely, He is the patron of every success.
Our fourteen-volume encyclopedia of "Epitomes of True Guidance" examines the emissary movement of the Fourteen Infallibles, beginning with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) and ending with the seal of the successors; Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-’Askari, the awaited Imam, may Allah hasten his relief and light up the earth with the luminosity of his justice and the sheen of his equity.
The common features to studying the life of each of these Fourteen Infallibles is to emphasize on their individual and social emissary activities, reveal the social features and demands of their eras, and introduce the feats that were achieved under their leadership and some samples of their sayings.
As the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly (ABWA) undertook the task of publishing and introducing this encyclopaedia, abiding by presenting it in the most proper form, it has become a role-model of scientific study, according to the associative methodology founded on the guidance of the Holy Qur’an and the most reliable reference books of historiography, which are indeed a splendid scientific treasury although people have neglected the majority of these reference books due to the premeditated plots that were hatched against the message of Islam and its blessed leaders.
In the current age of wakefulness, it seems important for humanity in general and Muslims in particular to be acquainted with many hidden facts, although these facts are too bitter to accept and too shocking to believe. However, it seems appropriate to introduce these facts according to the Qur’anic method of propagation for Islam and "enjoining truth and enjoining patience."
The current book is dedicated to studying the life of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn Zayn Al-’Abidin; the sixth of the Twelfth Imams, and the sixth in the list of the Fourteen Infallibles and the epitomes of true guidance during the age of the sealing divine message. Through his manners and conduct, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn Al-Sajjad (‘a) represented perfectly and flawlessly the principles of the divine message and put into practice a good number of its goals as much as time could serve him and as much as those companions and Muslims could carry. Thus, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Husayn Al-Sajjad (‘a) left the human society, in particular the Muslim generations, a huge heritage in order for humanity to gain illumination from it and attain glory by applying its manners, if they only comprehend it.
Finally, the (ABWA) Team is pleased to express gratitude to the author of this book, Sayid Mundhir Al-Hakim, Mr. Wissam Al-Baghdadi who helped in writing this part of the encyclopaedia, Mr. Sayid Farhan an-Nur Al-Musawi who edited and assessed the documents of this fifth reprint, also to proofread and re-check the text. We must also thank our distinguished brother Husayn Al-Salehi for checking the text and comparing it with the original manuscript with our brother Jawad Al-Tahir and dear brother Quassim Al-Baghdadi.
We give thanks to all of our brethren who contributed to the introduction of this book and worked for achieving the intended goal of the (ABWA) in publishing such material. Finally, we, the (ABWA) Team, pray the Almighty grant them all success and an excellent reward. Verily, He is the patron of success and reward.
Cultural Affairs Department
The Ahl Al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly
- 1. Muhammad Ibn Al-Hassan Al-Saffar, Basa'ir Al-Darajat, pp. 507-8, hadith 3, S.11. Al-Nu‘mani, Kitab Al-Ghaybah, pp. 139, S.9.
- 2. Ref: Surah Al-Ma'idah, 5:3 & 5:67, This holy verse reveals the divine command of designating to the next leadership of the Muslim community the person whose leadership would complete the divine message and who would fulfil the divine mission so that the sealing divine religion would be flawlessly perfect. Through the leadership of this divinely chosen person, God's grace of guidance that He conferred upon humanity would be perfect in all of its ranks and thus the all-comprehensive and perfect religion of Islam would be the everlasting religion approved for all human beings.
- 3. See: Al-Saffar, Basa'ir Al-Darajat p. 433/hadith 3; Al-Maghribi, Da‘a'im Al-Islam 1/28; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Fada’il Al-Sahabah p. 15; Musnad Ahmad 3/14-17; Al-Hakim Al-Nayshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala Al-Sahihayn 3/148. Moreover, this prophetic saying has been recorded in the majority of the most reliable reference books of both Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims with differences in texts and through various ways of narration.