The fourth Holy Imam, Ali ibn Husayn Zain-ul-Abedin (AS) was born in Medina on 5th Shaban 38 A.H. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as “Zain-ul-Abedin”. The mother of this Holy Imam was the royal personage, Shahr Banoo, the daughter of King Yazdjerd III, the last Sasanid emperor of Iran.
The Holy Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin (AS) spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS) and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle, the second Holy Imam Hasan Ibn Ali (AS). In 61 H.A. he was present in Karbala, at the time of the gruesome tragedy of the wholesale massacre of his father, his uncles, his brothers, his cousins and all the godly comrades of his father; and suffered a heartless captivity and imprisonment at the hands of the devilish forces of Yezid.
The Holy Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin (AS) lived for about 34 years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and supplication to God and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being in prayers to God, Mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was popularly called “Sajjad”.
His recorded Du’as in a book known as “As-Sahifatus-Sajjadiyah” and “As-Sahifatul-Kamilah”; and also called “Psalm of ‘Ale Muhammad” and “Injil of Ahlul Bait”, indicates that these invocations were not just a prayer, but also a means of guidance for the Muslims.
How could anyone tell him not to ask his wants from Allah? How could anyone come between Allah and His servant, when raising his hands he called his Lord in a heart-rending voice to come to his aid and to help him out of his difficulties. But those recorded duas are a treasure of Islamic knowledge. One finds in them almost all theological and ethical questions answered eloquently and eruditely. Reading them, the heart is filled with true belief and sincere love of Allah; and the light of virtue and nobleness illuminates the character.
When this book “As-Sahifatus-Sajjadiyah” was shown to Egyptian scholars, they were thunderstruck and awed by its beauty. They were amazed and stunned by the purity of thought and perfection of character to which this book irresistibly leads its reader.
The renowned scholar, late Al-Tantawi wrote:
“I have studied this book with utmost care. I have gone through the Du’as (invocations) and Munajats (supplications) with a searching eye. I was stunned by the lofty meanings and deep sense contained therein. I was deeply impressed by the value and magnificence of these invocations. I wonder how the Muslims all along been ignorant of such valuable treasure. They have been in deep slumber all these centuries.
They could not even feel that Allah had supplied them with such a precious store of knowledge.
The invocations in this book have two distinct approaches: the one seeks for the knowledge and guidance to keep away from sins and evil things, while the other persuades and exhorts one to enable one’s ‘self’ by performance of virtuous deeds. We may say that these Invocations, full of knowledge and guidance, are a wonderful treasure of secrets, and contain hints regarding self-reproachment, admission of shortcomings, with tears and self-purification, warding off vicissitudes and difficulties, safe-guarding oneself from the tyrannies of the enemy, recovery from various diseases and so on. All such Du’as are found mostly in the first part of the book, while the later part consists of the loftiness and grandeur of Allah, His creation and other wonders of His power and might.
Is it not wonderful? Does not it show that these holy personages are unveiling many secrets of learning and unravellirig many mysteries of knowledge for Muslims, who happen to be completely ignorant of it. It is a fact that the affairs of human beings are divided into two parts: The one is to keep away from evil, the other to acquire good traits together with the knowledge of Divine existence, which is essential for self-purification and spiritual perfection.”
Then he goes on expounding these points with help of many invocations. In another article, he compares an invocation of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin(AS) with the prayer of the Prophet Nuh (Noah). Just to give an example of the high religious and ethical standard taught by our Holy Imam, I am quoting here extracts from a Du’a, known as Makarim-ul-Akhlaq (Noble Character). This Du’a is enough to lead the reciter on the right path, making him a perfect Muslim and a virtuous believer.
O Lord, Thou art my shelter if I grow sad, and Thou art my resource if I am in need and unto Thee I cry for help, when deeply afflicted, and with Thee is recompense for what is lost, and reformation for what is corrupted, and alteration for what Thou disapprovest:
Therefore, favour me with security before calamity, and bounty before begging (for it) and right direction before error and spare me from bearing me peace on the day of resurrection and favour me with hand some guidance.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and ward off (evil) from me with Thy grace, and nourish me with Thy blessing, and reform me with Thy graciousness and cure me with Thy goodness and hide me in the shelter of Thy mercy and clothe me with Thy approbation, and help me, when matters grow difficult about me, (to choose) the most righteous of them, and when actions become dubious, (to select) the purest of them, and when the creeds conflict, (to adopt) the most praiseworthy of them.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and crown me with sufficiency and adorn me with the grace of Thy love and grant me true guidance and do not try me with prosperity and confer on me the beauty of comfort and do not make my life a succession of trials, and do not reject my prayer with repulsion; for, I do not recognise any as Thy rival, and I do not call upon any as Thy equal.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his Al (family) and restrain me from extravagance and preserve my subsistence from waste and increase my possessions by giving blessing therein and let me walk along the path of benevolence; in whatever I spend my (wealth).