MUHARRAM SERIES – The Sermon of Imam Sajjad in Kufa

SHAFAQNA – Following the tragedy of Karbala, Imam Hussain’s surviving family members were taken prisoners to Kufa, where Ibn Ziyad awaited, keen to claim his victory over the Holy household.

His name today is remembered for the ignominy his deeds bought him; he, who rejoiced at the sight of holy blood.

With Imam Hussain gone, Imam Sajjad (Ali ibn Hussain Zainul Abideen) became the Fourth Imam of Islam.

When young Ali took the mantle of Imamate, times were hard on the AhlulBayt of the Prophet. His is the saddest story of all time. On the 10th of Muharram at the time of Asr Prayers, when his father Hussain was alone in the battlefield ready to do battle, he withdrew to the camp of his ailing son, came beside his bed, woke him and told him that the story of Karbala was over – that he was about to go to sacrifice his own life for the cause of Islam.

It was at that time that Hussain son of Ali transferred the Imamate – the Word, to his son, so he would lead the Muslim ummah towards righteousness. His mother was Shahr Bano the daughter of Yazdjurd II, the last of the Persian Kings before Islam.

Imam Sajjad was only two years old when his grandfather Imam Ali was martyred in Kufa.

In 60 Hijri when his father Imam Hussain had to leave Medina for Mecca and then for Karbala, he was with him. In Karbala all male children of Imam Ali and Imam Hussain were killed except for Ali Ibn Hussain who with providence became so ill that he was unable to participate in the Jihad and thus survived the massacre.

It is through him that the lineage of Hussain ibn Ali survived. It is through him that the legacy of the Prophet Muhamad endured the perfidy of man.

He became the 4th Imam on the 10th of Muharram 61 Hijri -brought to Kufa and then to Damascus in chains.

In Kufa the Fourth Imam addressed the people with a powerful sermon.

“O people! Whoever knows me knows me, and he, who does not know me, should know that I am the son of that person, who was dishonoured and whose entire belongings were looted and plundered, and whose women and children were made prisoners……… ”

It is important that at the time the news of Karbala had not yet reached the people – at least not to the extent that they knew of the violence, cruelty, and abuses the household of the prophet was put through. It is again Truth which Islam’s Imams came to speak as they laid bare treachery.

Ibn Ziyad’s men were so despicable that they went as far as plunder Imam Hussain’s dead body.  Sheikh Mufid and Tabari wrote that whatever dress was there on the body of the Imam was plundered after his martyrdom. The Imam’s shirt was removed from his body by Ishaq ibn Haiwa. His vest was taken away by Bahr ibn Kab Tamimi. His turban was taken by Akhnas ibn Marthad. His sword was taken by a man belonging to the tribe of Bani Darm. Qays ibn Ashath ibn Qays took possession of his Qatifa (mantle). Qays was later known in Kufa as Qays of Qatifa.

The Imam’s shoes were removed from his feet by a man named Aswad, who belonged to the tribe of Awd. Then the tents were plundered and everything including clothes and camels were taken away.

Men stooped as low as to force the women to remove their veils …

Sheikh Mufid, Tabari as well as other historians have written that Ibn Sad reached the tents just as some soldiers were about to murder the Fourth Imam.

He, however, ordered that none should molest Hussain’s ailing son or inconvenience the bereaved women in the tents.

To comply with Ibn Ziyad’s orders, Ibn Sad called on volunteers to trample upon the sacred body of the Imam.

It was recorded that ten men volunteered … They mounted their horses with great enthusiasm and performed the job according to Ibn Ziyad’s wishes.


If not for the courage of Imam Sajjad, Lady Zainab’ determination, or lady Umme Kulsum’s strength it is likely the tragedy of Karbala, the shame of Ibn Ziyad and the Evil of Yazid would have eluded us – buried under mountains of lies.

But the events of Karbala were to be made known. So well in fact that they have inspired a movement after Imam Hussain.

Imam Sajjad continued: “I am the son of the man who was beheaded on the bank of the Euphrates although he had not shed the blood or usurped the right of anyone. (he was killed without any offence committed by him). I am the son of the man who was attacked by a huge number of people and martyred when he was no longer capable of fighting and had fallen on the ground owing to weakness. This is sufficient honour for us.

It is a sufficient honour for us that our blood was shed, our property was looted, we were insulted and our women and children were made prisoners.

O people! I put you on your oath to tell me in the name of Allah, whether you know that at one time you wrote letters to my father and then deceived him. You made firm promises with him and then rose to fight against him. May Allah destroy you, may you reap the harvest of your misdeeds in both the worlds, and may you be disgraced for the indecent policy which you have adopted. How will you face the Prophet of Allah when you are brought before him on the Day of Judgment and with which eyes will you look at him? At that time the Holy Prophet will tell you: “You have killed my children and behaved towards me dishonourably. You are not my followers”.

This brief address brought about such a turn in the minds of the people that they cried: “O son of the Prophet of Allah! All of us will hear what you say and obey your orders. We will u the promises made with you. We will not forsake you and will not side with anyone else. We are ready to act upon whatever you say. We will fight with him, against whom you fight, and will make peace with him, with whom you make peace. We are prepared even to take steps to arrest Yazid. We hate those who oppress you.”

The Imam went on: “O unfaithful and inconstant people! You will never succeed. Do you want to have towards me in the same manner in which you behaved towards my forefathers? NO, it cannot be so. I swear by Allah that the wounds of my heart have not yet healed up. Yesterday my father and his companions met martyrdom. I have not yet forgotten my being bereaved of the Holy Prophet, my father and my brothers have not overcome this grief. What I want you to do is that you should neither support us nor oppose us. Hussain ibn Ali’s being martyred is also not surprising. Was not his father Ali better than him and was he not assassinated? O Kufians! It was you, who killed Ali. May I be sacrificed for my father who was martyred on the bank of the Euphrates. The punishment for his killers is Hell.

We shall be perfectly satisfied with you if you give up the practice of siding with us on one day and opposing us on another day”.

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna

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