Imam Zain Al-Abideen a.s: His Great Role in the Mission of Islam

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SHAFAQNA-

INTRODUCTION:

Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) said: “O People contemplate, meditate and practice for that which you have been created, for ALLAH (swt) did not create you in vain and useless at all”. (Tuhaf Al-Uquul, p.274)Â

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In the month of Muharam, which is full of tragedy for all the believing Muslims of the world, we must surely all reflect on the enormous loses that Islam endured during this month throughout its extensive history. Our tears flow, our cries are heard and our supplications are abundant. Naturally such great names and their tragic stories; such as Imam Hussayn (a-s), Sayeeda Zaynab (s-a), Abbas Ibn Ali (a-s), Ali (Akbar) Ibn Hussayn (a-s), Abdullah Ali Asghar (a-s), Qasem Ibn Hasan (a-s), Fatimah Bint Hussayn (a-s), Sukayana (a-s), etc… and of course we think of the successor of Imam Hussayn (a-s); Imam Zaynul- ‘Abidin (a-s), who not only survived to tell all mankind about this horrific event and its great inner meanings (Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) was fatally sick and could not assist in the battle field and taste Martyrdom on this day as did most of his family members (surely an act of ALLAH (swt) in order to keep him alive in order to accomplish his (a-s) most important Mission as we will see in this short article), but he (a-s) also played a most crucial role of the re-establishment of the true Islam, he (a-s) had a role that only an infallible imam could achieve, Imam Hussayn (a-s) re-planted the seeds of monotheism in the  hearts and minds of all true believers and Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) had the responsibility to make those seeds grow into great forests of  monotheism, knowledge, worship, wisdom, love, understanding, etc… which would once again allow mankind to re-open the great treasure chest left by our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (saww) and seek perfection in the way of ALLAH (swt) and achieve complete salvation on the Day of Judgment and felicity and happiness for all eternity.

Truly it is no wonder that this most beautiful and infallible Imam (a-s) would leave this transient world by Martyrdom (by poison) on the 25th of Muharam, some 34 years after his beloved father Imam Hussayn (a-s).  Surely Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn (a-s) at the very second that he started to feel the effects of the deadly poison, thought to himself of the great words of his father Imam Hussayn (a-s) who said: “Verily death is bound with the sons of Adam (a-s) as a necklace around the neck of a maiden. How I desire and long to meet my ancestors similar to Nabi Ya’qoob (a-s), who was desirous of meeting Nabi Yusuf (a-s). Verily I proceed towards the place of my martyrdom, which has been selected for me”. (Nafasul Mahmoom by Shaykh Abbas Qummi (r-a), Al-Malhuf 25, Imam Hussayn (a-s) and the tragic saga of Karbala, by Ali Nazari Munfared). Because Imam Zaynul-Abidin’s (a-s) longed days and nights by the side of his beloved family, he (a-s) lived with the tragic horrors and terribly shocking atrocities of Karbala and the cruel and ferociously cold hearted captivity that followed. Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) dedicated the rest of his life so that we may know the truth, seek the truth, live by the truth and die for the truth, Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) continued spreading the Message of ALLAH (swt), which was brought to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saww), promoted and propagated by Amir Ul-Mu’mineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a-s), Imam Hasan (a-s) and  Imam Hussayn (a-s) who would shed his blood on the fiery sands of Karbala to re-light the flame of monotheism.
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IMAM ZAYN UL-‘ABIDIN SUCCESSOR OF THE CLOAK.
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Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) said: “He who has no clement one to guide him gets straying, and he who has no impudent one to help him gets lowly”. (Al-Ithaf bi Hub al-Ashraf p.75)
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Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn (a-s) had the most important role of being an infallible link for all true believers of Islam and faithful followers of the Ahlul-Bayt (a-s) between the 5 first Infallibles (a-s) who were together under the cloak and the Holy Imams (a-s) who would continue to spread the most important Message for all mankind.
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In other words when the tragic Martyrdom of Imam Hussayn (a-s) happened, he (a-s) was the last of the survivors of the Hadith of cloak. (حَديث الكِساء) (This is the great Hadith that talks about the event of the Holy Prophet (saww) who gathered with him: Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a-s), Sayyeda Fatimah Az-Zahra (s-a) and their two sons Imam Hasan (a-s) and Imam Hussayn (a-s) under a cloak, in which ALLAH (swt) sent Angel Jibreel to the Holy Prophet (saww) with the revelation of the verse of the Glorious Qur’an: “ALLAH intendeth but to keep off from you (every kind of) uncleanness, O’ye the people of the house (Ahlul-Bayt) and purify you (with) a thorough purification”. (The Holy Qur’an 33-Al-Ahzab-33). As well following this historical event the Holy Prophet (saww) was always heard giving such statements as:  “My Ahlul-Bayt and I are immune from sins”. “May ALLAH’s Mercy and benevolence be on you, O Ahlul-Bayt (a-s)!” “People of the house! ALLAH (swt) wants to remove all kinds of un-cleanliness from you and purify you thoroughly; I am in a state of war with him, who fights against you, and I am in a state of peace with him, who is at peace with you”. (Majma’uz Zawa’id, vol.9, and Tafsir Suyuti, vol.5) Therefore ALLAH (swt) blessed Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) before his birth with the great honor and the vast responsibility of Imamate (Please note: Often it is mistaken that an Imam (a-s) becomes an Imam (a-s) after the death of the previous Imam (a-s), this, however, is not the case, all the Imams (a-s) were chosen as Imams (a-s) by ALLAH (swt) before their birth to this world. Ex: Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn (a-s) was indeed an infallible and Imam even before the Martyrdom of his father Imam Hussayn (a-s), however the power of being the guide to the Islamic Ummah is only given to the Imam when the previous Imam has left this transient world. There are countless articles, books and volumes that have been written on this subject and I ask all my beloved readers to refer to them for a deeper and more precise explanation), in order to continue to proliferate the great message of Islam. And it was by Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin’s (a-s) Infallibility and most perfect behavior that made the believers of ALLAH (swt) follow him on the right path. Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) was the living link that would bind those who were under the Cloak (his great-grand father; Prophet Muhammad (saww), his grand father Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a-s), his grand mother Sayyeda Fatimah Az-Zahra (s-a-w-s), his uncle Imam Hasan (a-s) and his father Imam Hussayn (a-s)) to the 9 Divinely chosen Holy Imams (a-s) from the Ahlul-Bayt (a-s) that followed him, for he was the standard bearer for Islam after the tragedy of Karbala and it was through him by the Greatest of Power of ALLAH (swt) that the true Islam lived for future generations.

Even though there are countless Ahadith about the succession of the 12 Holy Imams (a-s) we must remember that the mass of the populace of that time had decades of false teachings, heresies and innovations forced on them, to the point that the average Muslim of that time knew little or nothing about Islam and just lived and practiced a very small part of Islam mixed in with the futile ideas and desires of ignorant rulers and despot tyrants. Just as Imam Hussayn’s (a-s) great sacrifice re-ignited the torch of true Islam and monotheism; it was also vital and urgent to have a pure and infallible leader for the Muslims to continue the burning of the great torch of Islam. The progression to human perfection and salvation, along with the education of mankind, depends on this very logical fact, Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) was divinely chosen to be the great link for all mankind, that leads directly to ALLAH (swt) and to the accomplishment of the trust given to mankind, in order to achieve nearness to ALLAH (swt) and a most lofty place in Paradise on the Day of Judgment for all of eternity.
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There are many authentic Ahadiths about the fact of the 12 Imams (a-s), however, in order to keep this article brief I will only quote 2 of them:
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The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saww) said: “One who would like to live and die as I do and be in peace in Paradise that is made by my LORD should follow Ali (a-s) and his successors and Imams (a-s) after me; since they are my Ahlul-Bayt (a-s). They are created from my disposition and given knowledge and understanding. Woe betide those who deny their relation to me! May ALLAH (swt) deprive them of my intercession!” (Hilyat Al-Awliya’, vol. 1, p.86)
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The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saww) said: “O my companions! The like of my Ahlul-Bayt (a-s) among you is Noah’s Ark and the Gate of Repentance of the Israelites. So after me, hold fast to my Ahlul-Bayt (a-s); the followers of truth from my progeny. Surely you will never go astray”. The Holy Prophet (saww) was asked: “O Messenger of ALLAH! What is the number of the Imams (a-s) after you?” Prophet Muhammad (saww) replied: “They will be twelve from my Ahlul-Bayt (a-s)”. (Musnad Al-Firdaws)
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EVERYDAY IS ASHURA AND EVERY LAND IS KARBALA.
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Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) said: “The best worker in ALLAH’s (swt) sight is he who puts the Prophet’s (saww) Sunnah into practice”. (Al-Wafi, vol 1, p.67)
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When we study the events, the sacrifice and the tragedy of Karbala, we quickly understand that Imam Hussayn (a-s) stood up for the protection and defense of Islam and its principles, he said in his last testament: However my denial of Yazid Ibn Mu’awiya is not for creating sedition, corruption, entertainment, or self-absorption and personal gain, but it was for the betterment of my Grandfather’s (saww) Ummah’s affairs. I’ve willed to enjoin the good and dissuade from the evil and to follow the way of life of my grandfather (Prophet Muhammad (saww)) and my father (Wali Amr; Amir Al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a-s)). (Imam Hussayn (a-s) and the tragic saga of Karbala, by Ali Nazari Munfared). Therefore the great struggle of ‘enjoining the good and dissuading from evil’ had to be continued after Imam Hussayn’s (a-s) Martyrdom.

Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) did not only continue the Message of Karbala and the sacrifice of Ashura, he lived it until his (a-s) own Martyrdom. Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) took on this great responsibility, despite the numerous obstacles in his path; darkness, cold heartiness, hate and love of the world had found its way deep in the soul of the Islamic Ummah of that time, long gone was the divinely moral conduct and ethical teachings from revelation, which our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saww) struggled and suffered so much to establish. Therefore just as the great sacrifice of Imam Hussayn (a-s) shocked the Islamic Ummah into realizing the differences of good and bad in all the spheres of human behavior, Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) had to re-fill and re-educate with the Message of Prophet Muhammad (saww) and the Divine Mission of Islam sent to all mankind from ALLAH Azz wa Jall to the sudden re-opening of the Islamic Ummah’s hearts and minds.

In order to complete this great responsibility, Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) wrote the most precise and perfect treaties on rights, basing himself only on the divine teachings of the Glorious Qur’an and the Mission of his grand-father Prophet Muhammad (saww). In fact, to date this very treaty on rights is envied by all civilized societies and has never been matched by any individual, group, organization, etc… for it fits mankind’s needs perfectly and has not left out an appropriate answer to any possible question, its essence is indeed from the Most High and Most Knowing Creator of all existence; ALLAH (swt).

The greatest scholars, scientists, researchers, politicians, leaders, clerics, philosophers, jurists, etc… have used it as a guide and have referred to it on numerous occasions. Just as Imam Hussayn (a-s) preached to his death the most important and mandatory duty of all mankind was to turn to ALLAH (swt), to know ALLAH (swt), to worship ALLAH (swt), to be completely submitted and dedicated to ALLAH (swt) and HIS Cause, Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) also called mankind to this as their priority in this life. I’m asking all my readers to please read his treaties on rights and to study it and most importantly to strive to live by it.
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Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) wrote in his treaty of rights: “The greatest right of ALLAH is that you worship HIM without associating anything with HIM. When you do that with sincerity, HE has made it binding on HIMSELF to give you sufficiency in the affairs of this world and the next and to keep for you whatever of them that you like”. (A Divine Perspective on Rights, by Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn Zayn Ul-‘Abidin As-Sajjad (a-s))

Imam Hussayn (a-s) said on the eve of Ashura in Karbala: “I glorify ALLAH with the best of glorification, and praise HIM in times of prosperity as well as misfortunes”. (Kitab Al-Irshad by Shaykh al-Mufid (r-a) /  Kitab Maqtal Al-Hussayn by Abu Mikhnaf / Kamil ibn Athir 57.4 / Nafasul Mahmoom by Shaykh Abbas Qummi (r-a) / Imam Hussayn (a-s) and the tragic saga of Karbala. By: Ali Nazari munfared).
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ALLAH (swt) Says: “I have only created jinn and men that they may serve ME”. (The Glorious Qur’an 51 Al-Dhariyat-56)
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Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) lived and put to practice the true Islam, in order to teach us the true and divine nature of Islam, he (a-s) was one of the Purified Infallibles and despite this fact, he spent most of his life in captivity. He filled his days with fasting and teaching the true Islam to all who wanted and needed to know the truth, his (a-s) nights were filled with worship which would be some of the greatest lessons about true Islam left to us. Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) was a living Martyr of Karbala on earth, his depth could never be explained in this short article or even in all the books written about him. Life for him (a-s) was difficult and trying, he showed nothing but patients, piety, the highest of moral and ethical conduct, generosity, etc… Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin truly lived everyday as Ashura and everywhere he went, the land was Karbala, for he (a-s) was a continuous living example of sacrifice in the path of ALLAH (swt), he (a-s) was the purest and truest of slaves to ALLAH (swt).
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IMAM ZAYNUL-‘ABIDIN (a-s) WORSHIP IS KNOWLEDGE.
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Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) said: “The richest of people is that who is satisfied with what ALLAH (swt) has chosen for him”. (Tuhaf Al-Uquul, short maxims of Imam As-Sajjad (a-s) #5)
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As I mentioned above, much of the life of Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin was spent either in captivity in the prisons of the evil tyrants or under house arrest. Therefore Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) had to get the true Message of Islam out to the faithful followers and in order to do that he taught the knowledge through his Du’aa (supplications), in this way he could at all times deliver this vital knowledge. His (a-s) anthology of supplications called: As-Sahifat Ul-Kamilat Us-Sajjadeeyah (الصَّحِيفَةُ الْكَامِلَةُ السَّجَّادِيَّةُ) is without doubt the most recognized and cherished compilation of Du’aa ever written in Islam. Not only because of their great divinely essence, but also because of their wide resource of divine knowledge and teachings, which originate from the ‘Great Golden Chain’. (Golden Chain is: the knowledge that was passed down from Imam (a-s) to Imam (a-s) going back to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a-s), who received it from Prophet Muhammad (saww), who received it from Angel Jibreel, who brought it from ALLAH (swt).)

Below are 3 examples of the greatness of these Supplications and the Mighty knowledge contained within them, for they are true lessons. Aside from the greatest book of all, the Holy Qur’an, this is the greatest Miracle for all mankind until the Day of Resurrection. We the Shi’a consider As-Sahifat Ul-Kamilat Us-Sajjadeeyah (الصَّحِيفَةُ الْكَامِلَةُ السَّجَّادِيَّةُ) as one of the most important books of Islam, I again ask you all my dear readers to read this book, as well for its enlightenment as it is truly a blessing from ALLAH Azz wa Jall.

Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) taken from: ‘Praise of ALLAH’: “Praise belongs to ALLAH, the First, without a first before HIM, the Last, without a last behind HIM. Beholders eyes fall short of seeing HIM, describers’ imaginations are not able to depict HIM. HE originated the creatures through HIS power with an origination; HE devised them in accordance with HIS will with a devising. Then HE made them walk on the path of HIS desire, HE sent them out on the way of HIS love. They cannot keep back from that to which HE has sent them forward, nor can they go forward to that which HE has kept back. HE assigned from HIS provision to each of their spirits nourishment known and apportioned. No decreaser decreases those whom HE increases; no increaser increases those whom HE decreases. Then each spirit HE strikes a fixed term in life, for each HE sets up a determined end”. (As-Sahifat Ul-Kamilat Us-Sajjadeeyah, Du’aa # 1)

Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) taken from: The people of the frontier: “O ALLAH, bless Muhammad and his Household, give them knowledge of that which they are ignorant, teach them what they do not know, and show them what they do not see! O ALLAH, bless Muhammad and his Household, make them forget when they meet the enemy the cheating delusions of their world, erase from their hearts the thought of enchanting material possessions, place the Garden of Paradise before their eyes, and display to their sight that part of it which THOU has prepared for them, the homes of everlastingness and mansions of honor, the beautiful Houris, the rivers gushing forth with all sorts of cool drinks, the trees hanging low with all kinds of fruits”. (As-Sahifat Ul-Kamilat Us-Sajjadeeyah, Du’aa # 27)

Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) taken from: Asking for the best : “O ALLAH, I ask from THEE the best in THY Knowledge, so bless Muhammad and his Household and decree for me the best! Inspire us with knowledge to chose the best and make that means to being pleased with what THOU has decreed for us and submitting to what THOU has decided! Banish from us the doubt of misgiving and confirm us with the certainty of the sincere!” (As-Sahifat Ul-Kamilat Us-Sajjadeeyah, Du’aa # 33)
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We can truly and fully understand the important role that Imam Ali Ibn Hussayn Zaynul-‘Abidin As-Sajjad (a-s) had in the advancement of morality, ethical conduct, human rights, rites of worship, piety, patience, knowledge, Islamic sciences and of course his vital role of continuing the recall to the true Islam, for which ALLAH (swt) sent the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saww) who is the grand-father of Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin, to all mankind, in order to establish Islam on earth as the only true path to salvation.
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Just as Imam Hussayn (a-s) was martyred by the enemies of ALLAH (swt) in the month of Muharam while defending Islam. Imam Zaynul-‘Abidin (a-s) would also be martyred during the same heartbreaking month of Muharam defending Islam, some 34 years after the tragedy of Karbala. May ALLAH (swt) bless Muhammad (saww) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a-s).

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