Ahl Al-Bayt Biography
Lady Fatimah (pbuh)
Lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) (Arabic: فاطمة ) was the only daughter and the only child of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Lady Khadijah; wife of Imam Ali (pbuh) and mother of Hassan(pbuh) and Hussein(pbuh) , and one of the members of Ahl Al-Bayt. In some sources it is mentioned that Lady Fatimah (pbuh) had siblings, but in fact they were children of Lady Khadijah’s sister who prophet Muhammad (pbuh) adopted and brought them up. Lady Fatima (pbuh) became the object of great veneration by all Muslims, because she lived closest to her father and supported him in his difficulties, because of the historical importance of her husband and her two sons, and because she is the only member of Muhammad’s family(pbut) that gave him descendants (Imams)
For Muslims, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) is an inspiring example and the name Fatimah is one of the most popular girl’s names throughout the Muslim world.
She was involved in three significant political actions, each recorded in almost all sources. after prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s Martyrdom, she defended Imam Ali (pbuh)’s cause, fiercely opposed the election of Abu Bakr, and had violent disputes with him and particularly with Omar; Third, she laid claim to the property rights of her father and challenged Abu Bakr’s categorical refusal to cede them, particularly Fadak and a share in the produce of Khyber.
She died a few months after her father’s martyrdom, but the exact location of her grave is unknown. She died as a result of her injury caused by Omar, incurred while defending Imam Ali (pbuh) against Abu Bakr.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh) was born in Mecca to Lady Khadijah, the first prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s wife. There are differences of opinion on the exact date of her birth, but the widely accepted view is that she was born five years before the first Quranic revelations, during the time of the rebuilding of the Kaba in 605, although this does imply she was over 18 at the time of her marriage. Twelver Shia sources, however, state that she was born either two or five years after the first Quranic revelations, but that timeline would imply her mother was over fifty at the time of her birth.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh) is given many titles by Muslims to show their admiration of her moral and physical characteristics. The most used title is “al-Zahra”, meaning “the shining one”, and she is commonly referred to as Lady Fatimah Zahra (pbuh). She was also known as “al-Batul” (the chaste and pure one) as she spent much of her time in prayer, reciting the Quran and in other acts of worship.
Following the demise of her mother, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) was overcome by sorrow and found it very difficult to come to terms with her demise. She was consoled by her father, who informed her that he had received word from angel Gabriel that God had built for her a palace in paradise.
Many of Muhammad (pbuh)’s companions asked for Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s hand in marriage, including Abu Bakr and Omar. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) turned them all down, saying that he was awaiting a sign of her destiny. Imam Ali (pbuh), prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s cousin, also had a desire to marry Lady Fatimah (pbuh). When he went to see Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he could not speak about his intention but remained silent. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood the reason for his being there and prompted Imam Ali (pbuh) to confirm that he had come to seek Lady Fatimah (pbuh) in marriage. He suggested that Imam Ali (pbuh) had a shield, which if sold, would provide sufficient money to pay the bridal gift (mahr). prophet Muhammad (pbuh) put forward the proposal from Imam Ali (pbuh) to Lady Fatimah (pbuh), who remained silent and did not reject the proposal. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) took this to be a sign of affirmation and consent.
The actual date of the marriage is unclear, but it most likely took place in first day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The age of Lady Fatimah (pbuh) is reported to have been 9 or 19 (due to differences of opinion on the exact date of her birth) at the time of her marriage while Imam Ali (pbuh) was between 21 and 25. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told Imam Ali (pbuh) that he had been ordered by God to give his daughter Lady Fatimah (pbuh) to Imam Ali (pbuh) in marriage. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to Lady Fatimah (pbuh): “I have married you to the dearest of my family to me.” Imam Ali (pbuh) sold his shield to raise the money needed for the wedding, as suggested by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). However, Othman Ibn Affan, to whom the shield was sold, gave it back to Imam Ali (pbuh) saying it was his wedding gift to Imam Ali (pbuh) and Lady Fatimah (pbuh). prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself performed the wedding ceremony and two of his wives, Aisha and Umm Salamah, prepared the wedding feast with dates, figs, sheep and other food donated by various members of the Medinan community. According to Hussein Nasr, their marriage possesses a special spiritual significance for all Muslims because it is seen as the marriage between the greatest saintly figures surrounding Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Their marriage lasted about ten years and ended when Lady Fatimah (pbuh) martyred. Imam Ali (pbuh) did not marry another woman while Lady Fatimah (pbuh) was alive.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh) marital life
After her marriage, Imam Ali (pbuh) had built a house not too far from prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s residence where he lived with Lady Fatimah (pbuh). However, due to Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s desire to be closer to her father, a Medinan (Haritha bin al-Numan) donated his own house to them.
For several years after her marriage, she did all of the work by herself. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen and the hand with which she worked the hand mill to grind corn where often covered with blisters. Lady Fatimah (pbuh) vouched to take care of the household work, make dough, bake bread, and clean the house; in return, Imam Ali (pbuh) vouched to take care of the outside work such as gathering firewood, and bringing food. Imam Ali (pbuh) worked to irrigate other people’s lands by drawing water from the wells. Their circumstances were akin to many of the Muslims at the time and only improved following the Battle of Khyber when the produce of Khyber was distributed among the poor. When the economic situations of the Muslims become better, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) gained some maids but treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.
Another reference to their simple life comes to us from the Tasbih of Lady Fatimah (pbuh), a divine formula that was first given to Lady Fatimah (pbuh) when she asked her father for a kaneez (servant girl) in order to help her with household chores. Her father asked her if she would like a gift instead that was better than a servant and worth more than everything in the world. Upon her ready agreement, he told her to recite at the end of every prayer (Salat, نماز) the Great Exaltation, Allahu Akbar 34 times, the Statement of Absolute Gratitude, Alhamdulillah 33 times and the Invocation of Divine Glory, Subhan’Allah 33 times, totaling 100. This collective prayer is called the Tasbih of Lady Fatima (pbuh).
Imam Ali (pbuh) has sworn to the God that:” I never did any act that makes Lady Fatimah (pbuh) angry and she never made me angry too”
On the battlefield
Following the Battle of Uhud, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) tended to the wounds of her father and husband, and took it upon herself to regularly visit the graves of all those who died in the battle and pray for them. Lady Fatimah (pbuh), along with her husband, was also called upon by Abu Sufyan to intercede on his behalf with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) while attempting to make amends following the violation of the Treaty. Abu Sufyan also asked for Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s protection when she went to Mecca while it was under occupation which she refused under instruction from her father.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh) in the Quran
Some verses in the Quran are associated to Lady Fatimah (pbuh) and her household by classical exegetes, although she is not mentioned by name. According to J. D. McAuliffe, two of the most important verses include the verse of purification, which is the 33rd verse in Surah al-Ahzab and the 61st verse in Surah Al-i-Imran. In the first verse, the phrase “people of the house” (Ahl Al-Bayt) is ordinarily understood to consist of prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Lady Fatimah (pbuh), her husband Imam Ali (pbuh) and their two sons (al-Tabari in his exegesis also mentions a tradition that interprets “people of the house” as prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s wives; for Ibn al-Jawzi, the order of these options is reversed). The second verse refers to an episode in which prophet Muhammad (pbuh) proposed an ordeal of mutual adjuration (Mubahala) to a delegation of Christians. Lady Fatimah (pbuh), according to the “occasion for the revelation” of this verse, was among those offered by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as witnesses and guarantors.
Muslim exegesis of the Quranic verse 3:42, links the praise of Mary (pbuh), the mother of Prophet Jesus (pbuh), with that of Lady Fatimah (pbuh) based on a quote attributed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that lists the outstanding women of all time as Mary (pbuh), Asiya (the wife of Pharaoh), Lady Khadijah and Lady Fatimah (pbuh) (the all Muslim commentaries insists upon the absolute superiority of Lady Fatimah (pbuh)).
Life after the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
For the few months that she survived following the martyrdom of her father, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) found herself indirectly at the center of political disunity. Different events which had surrounded the issue of the Caliphate were the cause of the Shia and Sunni split. According to the Sunnis the majority of Muslims at the time of prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s death favored Abu Bakr as the Caliph while a portion of the population supported Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s husband, Imam Ali (pbuh) . On the other hand, prophet Mohammad had been determined Imam Ali (pbuh) as his successor in Qadir Khum. Thus Shia believes there was no need to consensus because Imam Ali (pbuh) was established as Caliph by Prophet Mohammad, before.
Following the selection of Abu Bakr to the caliphate after a meeting in Saqifah, Abu Bakr and Omar with a few other companions headed to Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s house to obtain allegiance from Imam Ali (pbuh) and his supporters who had gathered there. Then Omar threatened to set the house on fire unless they came out and swore allegiance with Abu Bakr.
According to Denise L. Soufi (Middle Eastern Cataloger):
“…traditions discussing her involvement in the events which took place after the death of the Prophet seem to contain some truth despite their partisan biases. This is due to the fact that the Sunnis were unable to completely suppress what was so obviously detrimental to their reconstruction of religious history: namely, that Lady Fatima (pbuh) quarreled with Abu Bakr over his seizure of the Caliphate and the Prophet’s properties, that she never forgave him for his actions and that her death was kept secret for some time, probably at her request, in order to prevent him from presiding over her funeral rites. What is ironic is that this small window into the character of Lady Fatima (pbuh) has been downplayed or ignored by Sunnis and inflated and overemphasized by Shia…”[
Lesley Hazleton describes the events as follows:
«Short of actually following through on his threat and killing all of prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s closest family, Omar was left, as he saw it, with only one option. If Imam Ali (pbuh) would not come out, then he, Omar, would have to force his way in. He took a running leap and threw his whole weight against the door […] either way, some overture might have been warranted from Abu Bakr, or at least from Omar, but there was none. Indeed there was less than none. To add insult to the injury that had already been done to her, Lady Fatima (pbuh) would now lose the property she considered hers (Fadak). »
Shia historians hold that Omar called for Imam Ali (pbuh) and his men to come out and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr. When they did not, Omar broke in, resulting in Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s ribs being broken by being pressed between the door and the wall and causing her to miscarry Muhsin (pbuh) which led to her eventual martyrdom. Then he set fire to the house.
Following the Farewell Pilgrimage, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) summoned Lady Fatimah (pbuh) and informed her that he would die soon, and also told her that she would be the next of his household to die. After prophet Mohammad’s passing, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) was grief-stricken and remained so until her herself died less than six months later, on 10th, Jumada al-awwal . Sunnis believe that Lady Fatimah (pbuh) reconciled her differences with Abu Bakr prior to her martyrdom, while Shia Muslims believe that her anger with him remained.
Shia and Sunni beliefs about her death diverge widely:
Sunni scholars say she died as a result of separation from her beloved father. But Shia scholars say that Lady Fatimah (pbuh) died as a result of injuries sustained after her house was raided by Omar Ibn al-Khatab who threatened to set fire to the house. Fearing death of her small sons, Lady Fatimah (pbuh) approached the door to open it. The door was rammed open by one of the assailants knocking Lady Fatimah (pbuh) to the ground. This attack is said to have cracked her rib-cage whilst she was pregnant, causing her to miscarry. According to Shia tradition, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) appeared in a dream and informed Lady Fatimah (pbuh) that she would be passing away the next day. Lady Fatimah (pbuh) informed her husband Imam Ali (pbuh) of her impending death, and asked him not to allow the oppressors to be involved in her ceremonial prayers (prayer performed in congregation after the death of a Muslim) or take part in the burial.
Some sources have stated that her two sons were the first family members to learn of her death and immediately proceeded to the mosque to inform their father. Upon hearing the news, Imam Ali (pbuh) fell unconscious. After recovering he followed Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s wishes. He buried her during the night on 13 Jumada al-awwal (about 630 AD), also making three false graves to ensure her real grave could not be identified. With him were his family and a few of his close companions.
Shia, especially Iranians, hold ceremonies every year for 20 days in Jumada al-awwal to commemorate the anniversary of the martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (pbuh). Mourners march in procession through the streets to reaffirm their allegiance to the ideals of Lady Fatimah (pbuh).
The Sunnis state that on the morning of her death, she took a bath, put on new clothes and lay down in bed. She asked for Imam Ali (pbuh) and informed him that her time to die was very close. Upon hearing this news, Imam Ali (pbuh) began to cry but was consoled by Lady Fatimah (pbuh) who asked him to look after her two sons and for him to bury her without ceremony. After her martyrdom, Imam Ali (pbuh) followed her wishes and buried her without informing the Medinan people.
Lesley Hazleton ) British-American author whose work focuses on the intersection of politics, religion, and history, especially in the Middle East) describes Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’ martyrdom as follows:
«But perhaps most painful of all in those months after the loss of her third son was the ostracism she suffered ordered by Abu Bakr to force Imam Ali (pbuh) into line. […] When she knew death was close she asked Imam Ali (pbuh) for a clandestine burial […] Abu Bakr was not to be informed of her death she said. He was to be given no chance to officiate at her funeral. »
Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s burial place is a disputed issue among Muslims from different sects. It is said that Imam Ali (pbuh) buried his wife in an unknown location, because it was Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s decision. The secret burial was done with the aim of avoiding the presence of Caliph Abu Bakr. Different locations have been mentioned as the possible burial place of Lady Fatimah (pbuh) some of which are said to be nearer to fact. Al-Baqi’, her house and between the Prophet’s tomb and his minbar (the place that the prophet was sitting on to preach) are the possible place of her grave.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh) had two sons, Hassan (pbuh), Husain (pbuh), and two daughters, Zaynab (pbuh), Umm Kulthum (pbuh), And her third son who was aborted, Muhsin(pbuh). Shia and some Sunni scholars say that she miscarried following an attack on her house by Abu Bakr and Omar, while other Sunnis insist that Muhsin died in his infancy of natural causes.
Modern descendants of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) trace their lineage exclusively through Lady Fatimah (pbuh), as she was the only surviving child of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had no sons who reached adulthood.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s descendants are given the honorific titles Sayyid (meaning lord or sir), Sharif (meaning noble), and respected by both Sunni and Shia, though the Shia’s place much more emphasis and value on the distinction.
Muslims regard Lady Fatimah (pbuh) as a loving and devoted daughter, mother, wife, a sincere Muslim, an exemplar for women. It is believed that she was very close to her father and her distinction from other women is mentioned in many Hadith. After Lady Khadijah, Muslims regard Lady Fatimah (pbuh) as the most significant historical figure, considered to be the leader (Arabic: Sayyidih) of all women in this world and in Paradise. It is because of her moral purity that she occupies an analogous position in Islam to that Mary (pbuh) occupies in Christianity. She was the first wife of Imam Ali (pbuh), the mother of the second and third Imams, and the ancestor of all the succeeding Imams.
Lady Fatimah (pbuh), regarded as “the Mother of the Imams”, plays a special role in Shia piety. She has a unique status as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s only surviving child. The Surah of Quran “kowsar” (‘Abundance’) mentions significance of her birth and recognizes her as the only surviving child of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She was immaculate, sinless and a pattern for Muslim women. Although leading a life of poverty, it is narrated about her compassion and sharing of whatever she had with others.
Shia greatly respects and adores her sublime personality. In fact her character outshines as one of the most brave and courageous personality in Islamic history. Lady Fatimah (pbuh) stood as the lone defender of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s declaration of Qadir. She forwarded her arguments to prove Fadak as her right and undisputed property, amongst those who had killed her unborn child Muhsin.
The suffering and martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (pbuh) was the first tragedy of Islam. She spent her last days mourning at the martyrdom of her father. Lady Fatimah (pbuh) eternally weeps at the martyrdom of her two sons, who were murdered by the Umayyad. Shia share in Lady Fatimah (pbuh)’s suffering by weeping for her sorrows. The tears of the faithful are also believed to console Lady Fatimah (pbuh). Shia believe that Lady Fatimah (pbuh) will play a redemptive role as the mistress of the Day of Judgment in the hereafter as a reward for her suffering in this world
Book of Lady Fatimah (pbuh)
There are Shia Muslim traditions that can be found in Usul al-Kafi about a book called “Mushaf of Lady Fatimah (pbuh)”, which speaks of Lady Fatimah (pbuh) upon the passing of her father, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). There are several versions of this tradition, but common to all are that the angel Gabriel appeared to her and consoled her by telling her things (including future events regarding her offspring) that she wrote in a book. During these revelations, Imam Ali (pbuh) acted as the scribe for Lady Fatima (pbuh). According to one tradition they were prophecies. The book, if it was ever physical, did not survive, and was seen to be something that the last Imam, Imam Mahdi (pbuh) will reveal in the last days (to see more about Imam Mahdi (pbuh), refer to Imamate, Imam Mahdi (pbuh)).
Amir al Momenin (Imam of believers), Imam Ali (pbuh)
(Shia view: Successor of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Sunni view: Fourth rightly guided Caliph)
Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) (Arabic: علي بن أبي طالب) was the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Ali (PBUH) was also the first man who accepted Islam. Sunnis consider Imam Ali the fourth and final Caliph , but Shia believes Imam Ali (PBUH) is the first Imam after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Prophet Muhammad, all of whom are members of the Ahl Al-Bayt. This disagreement split the Ummah (Muslim community) into the Sunni and Shia branches.
Many sources, especially Shia ones, record that Imam Ali (PBUH) was the only person born in the sacred sanctuary of the Kaba in Mecca, the holiest place in Islam that was built by the prophet Abraham (PBUH) and his son Ishmael. His father was Abu Talib and his mother was Fatima bent Asad, but he was raised in the house of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who himself was raised by Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle and Ali’s father. When Prophet Muhammad reported receiving a divine revelation, Ali (PBUH) was the first male to accept his message and first to convert to Islam at the age of 10, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.
Imam Ali (PBUH) migrated to Medina shortly after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. It was there that Prophet Muhammad told Ali (PBUH) that Allah had ordered him to give his daughter, Lady Fatimah (PBUH), to Ali (PBUH) in marriage. For the ten years that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led the community in Medina, Ali (PBUH) was extremely active in his service, leading parties of warriors in battles, and carrying messages and orders. Imam Ali (PBUH) took part in the early caravan raids from Mecca and later in almost all the battles fought by the nascent Muslim community. He encountered defiance and civil war during his reign. In 661, Imam Ali (PBUH) was attacked one morning while praying in the Great mosque of Kufah, and martyred two days later.
In Muslim culture, Ali (PBUH) is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Prophet Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies. Imam Ali (PBUH) retains his stature as an authority on Quranic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and religious thought. Imam Ali’s influence has been important throughout Islamic history.
Imam Ali’s father, Abu Talib was the custodian of the Kaba and a sheikh (patriarch) of the Banu Hashim, an important branch of the powerful Quraysh tribe. He was also the uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Ali’s mother, Fatima bent Asad, also belonged to Banu Hashim, that it makes Ali (PBUH) a descendant of Isma`il (Ishmael), the son of Abraham (PBUH). Many sources, especially Shia ones, attest that Ali (PBUH) was born inside of Kaba in the city of Mecca, where he stayed with his mother for three days. According to a Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the first person whom Ali saw as he took the newborn in his hands and named him Ali, meaning “the exalted one”. The prophet (PBUH) had a close relationship with Ali’s parents. When Muhammad (PBUH) was orphaned and later lost his grandfather Abdul Muttalib, Ali’s father took him into his house. Ali (PBUH) was born two or three years after Prophet Muhammad’s marriage. When Ali (PBUH) was five or six years old, a famine occurred in and around Mecca and affected the economic conditions of Ali’s father, who had a large family to support, thus, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took Ali (PBUH) into his home to raise him.
Acceptance of Islam
The second period of Imam Ali’s life begins in 610 when he declared Islam at age 10. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reported that he had received a divine revelation, Ali (PBUH), was only about 10 years old and believed him and professed to Islam. According to Ibn Ishaq and some other authorities, Ali (PBUH) was the first male to embrace Islam. Some historians and scholars believe Ali’s conversion is not worthy enough to consider him the first male Muslim because he was a child at the time. Hence, Shia doctrine asserts that in keeping with Imam Ali’s divine mission, he accepted Islam before he took part in any pre-Islamic Meccan traditional religion rites, or polytheistic or paganistic rites . Shia believes Ali (PBUH) never sullied by prostrations before idols. He was never an idol worshipper like the people of Mecca. He was known to have broken idols in the mold of Abraham (PBUH) and asked people why they worshipped something they made themselves.
After declaration of Islam
For three years, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) invited people to Islam in secret, and then he started inviting publicly. According to the Quran, When he was commanded to invite his closer relatives to come to Islam he gathered the Banu Hashim clan in a ceremony. According to Al-Tabari, Ibn Athir and Abu al-Fida, Muhammad (PBUH) announced at invitational events that whoever assisted him in his invitation would become his brother, trustee and successor. Only Ali (PBUH), who was thirteen or fourteen years old, stepped forward to help him. This invitation was repeated three times, but Ali was the only person who answered the Prophet (PBUH). Upon Ali’s constant and only answer to his call, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared that Ali was his brother, inheritor and successor and people must obey him. Most of the adults present were uncles of Ali (PBUH) and Muhammad (PBUH), along with Abu Lahab laughed at them and declared to Abu Talib that he must bow down to his own son, as Ali (PBUH) was now his Emir, This event is known as the “Hadith of Warning”. During the persecution of Muslims and boycott of the Banu Hashim in Mecca, Imam Ali (PBUH) stood firmly in support of the Prophet.
Migration to Medina
In 622, the year of the Prophet’s migration to Yathrib (now Medina), Ali (PBUH) risked his life by sleeping in Prophet Muhammad’s bed to impersonate him and thwart an assassination plot so that the Prophet (PBUH) could escape in safety. This night is called “Laylat al-Mabit”. According to some Hadith, a verse was revealed about Imam Ali (PBUH) concerning his sacrifice on the night of Hijra which says “And among men is he who sells his Nafs (self) in exchange for the pleasure of Allah.”
«وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یشْرِی نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغاءَ مَرْضاتِ اللَّهِ وَ اللَّهُ رَؤُفٌ بِالْعِبادِ
Surah Al Baqarah, verse 207
Ali (PBUH) survived the plot, but risked his life again by staying in Mecca to carry out the Prophet’s instructions: to restore to their owners all the goods and properties that had been entrusted to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for safekeeping. Ali (PBUH) then went to Medina with his mother, the Prophet’s daughter, Lady Fatimah (PBUH) and two other women.
In 623, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told Ali (PBUH) that Allah ordered him to give his daughter Lady Fatimah Zahra to Ali (PBUH) in marriage. The Prophet said to Lady Fatimah (PBUH): “I marry you to the dearest of my family to me.” This family was glorified by Muhammad (PBUH) frequently and he declared them as his Ahl Al-Bayt in events such as “Mubahala” and Hadith like the Hadith of the Event of the Cloak. They were also glorified in the Quran in several cases such as “the verse of purification” (Surah Ahzab, verse 33).
Ali (PBUH) and Lady Fatimah (PBUH), who was the only child of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to have surviving progeny, had four children. Their two sons, Hassan and Hussain (PBUT), were cited by the Prophet to be his own sons, honored numerous times in his lifetime and titled “the leaders of the youth of Jannah” (Heaven, the hereafter.)
At the beginning they were extremely poor. For several years after his marriage, Lady Fatimah (PBUH) did all of the household work by herself. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen and the hand with which she worked the hand mill to grind corn was often covered with blisters. Fatimah (PBUH) vouched to take care of the household work, make dough, bake bread, and clean the house; in return, Ali (PBUH) vouched to take care of the outside work such as gathering firewood, and bringing food. Their circumstances were akin to many of the Muslims at the time and only improved following the Battle of Khyber when the wealth of Khyber was distributed among the poor. When the economic situations of the Muslims became better, Lady Fatimah gained some maids but treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.
Their marriage lasted until Lady Fatimah’s martyrdom ten years later. Although polygamy was permitted, Ali (PBUH) did not marry another woman while Fatimah (PBUH) was alive, and his marriage to her possesses a special spiritual significance for all Muslims because it is seen as the marriage between two great figures surrounding the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH).
Military career of Ali
With the exception of the Battle of Tabouk, Ali (PBUH) took part in all battles and expeditions fought for Islam. As well as being the standard-bearer in those battles, Ali (PBUH) led parties of warriors on raids into enemies.
Ali (PBUH) first distinguished himself as a warrior in 624 at the Battle of Badr. He defeated the Umayyad champion Walid Ibn Utba . According to Muslim traditions Ali (PBUH) killed between twenty and thirty-five enemies in battle, most agreeing with twenty-seven.
Imam Ali (PBUH) was prominent at the Battle of Uhud, as well as many other battles where he wielded his famous sword known as “Zulfiqar”. He had the special role of protecting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when most of the Muslim army fled from the battle of Uhud and it was said “There is no brave youth except Ali and there is no sword which renders service except Zulfiqar.” He was commander of the Muslims army in the Battle of Khyber. Following this battle the Prophet gave Ali (PBUH) the name “Asadullah”, which in Arabic means “Lion of Allah”. Ali (PBUH) also defended the Prophet in the Battle of Hunayn in 630.
Missions for Islam
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) designated Ali (PBUH) as one of the scribes who would write down the text of the holy Quran, which had been revealed to the Prophet during the previous two decades. As Islam began to spread throughout Arabia, Ali (PBUH) helped establishing the new Islamic order. He was instructed to write down the “Treaty of Hudaybiyah”, the peace treaty between Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Quraysh tribe in 628. Ali (PBUH) was so reliable and trustworthy that the Prophet asked him to carry the messages and declare the orders. In 630, Ali (PBUH) recited to a large gathering of pilgrims in Mecca a portion of the Quran that declared Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic community were no longer bound by agreements made earlier with Arab polytheists. During the Conquest of Mecca in 630, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked Ali (PBUH) to guarantee that the conquest would be bloodless. He ordered Ali (PBUH) to break all the idols worshipped by the Banu Aus, Banu Khazraj, and those in the Kaba to purify it after its defilement by the polytheism of the pre-Islamic era. Ali (PBUH) was sent to Yemen one year later to spread the teachings of Islam. He was also charged with settling several disputes and putting down the uprisings of various tribes.
According to Hadith collections, in 631 an Arab Christian envoy from Najran (currently in northern Yemen and partly in Saudi Arabia) came to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to argue which of the two parties erred in its doctrine concerning Jesus (PBUH). After likening Jesus’ miraculous birth to Adam’s creation, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) called them to “Mubahala” (conversation), where each party should bring their knowledgeable men, women and children, and ask God to curse the lying party and their followers. Prophet Muhammad, to prove to them that he was a prophet, brought his daughter Lady Fatimah, Ali and his grandchildren Hassan and Hussain (PBUT). He went to the Christians and said “this is my family” and covered himself and his family under the shade of a cloak. According to Muslims sources, when one of the Christian monks saw their faces, he advised his companions to withdraw from Mubahala for the sake of their lives and families. Thus the Christian monks vanished from the Mubahala place. Allameh Tabatabaii explains in Tafsir Al-Mizan that the word “Our selves” in this verse refers to Prophet Muhammad and Ali (PBUT). Then he narrates that Imam Ridha (PBUH), eighth Shia Imam, in discussion with Ma’mun, Abbasid caliph, referred to this verse to prove the superiority of Prophet Muhammad’s progeny over the rest of the Muslim community, and considered it the proof for Imam Ali’s right for caliphate due to Allah having made Ali (PBUH) like the self of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Refer to “Shia, Sunni, differences”, “what is Islam?”.
Life after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Another part of Imam Ali’s life started in 632 after the demise of the Prophet and lasted until Othman Ibn Affan was assassinated, the third caliph of Sunnis in 656. During those 24 years, Imam Ali (PBUH) neither took part in any battle or conquest, nor did he assume any executive position. He withdrew from political affairs, especially after the martyrdom of his wife, Lady Fatimah Zahra (PBUH). He used his time to serve his family and worked as a farmer. Ali (PBUH) dug a lot of wells and planted gardens near Medina and endowed them for public use. These wells are known today as Aabaar Ali (“Ali’s wells”).
Imam Ali (PBUH) compiled a complete version of the Quran, Six months after the demise of the Prophet (PBUH). It was included Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s interpretations and it was sorted by the revelation time of each verse. The volume was completed and carried by camel to show to other people of Medina. However, this book was rejected by several people such as Othman. Afterward, Othman changed the order of verses and compiled another version of Quran; also he omitted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s interpretations. Both Qurans of Imam Ali (PBUH) and Othman are the same by the number of verses but different in ordering. The Quran of Imam Ali (PBUH) remained in the progeny of Prophet Muhammad and it will be manifested by 12th Imam (Imam Mahdi) (PBUH) when he comes. (To know more about 12th Imam, refer to “Imam Mahdi (PBUH)”, “Imamate”)
Election as Caliph
Imam Ali (PBUH) was caliph between 656 and 661, during one of the most turbulent periods in Muslims history, which also coincided with the First sedition.
Othman’s assassination meant that rebels had to select a new caliph. This met with difficulties since the rebels were divided into several groups comprising the Muhajirun, Ansar, Egyptians, Kufans. There were three candidates: Ali (PBUH), Talhah and Zubayr. First, the rebels approached Ali (PBUH), requesting him to accept being the caliph. Some of Prophet Muhammad’s companions tried to persuade Ali (PBUH) in accepting the office, but he turned down the offer.
Talhah, Zubayr and other companions also refused the rebels’ offer of the caliphate. Therefore, the rebels warned the inhabitants of Medina to select a caliph within one day, or they would apply drastic action. In order to resolve the deadlock, the Muslims gathered in the Mosque of the Prophet on June 18, 656 to appoint the caliph. Initially Ali (PBUH) refused to accept, however, when some notable companions of Prophet Muhammad, in addition to the residents of Medina, urged him to accept the offer, he finally agreed. According to Abu Mekhnaf‘s narration, Talhah was the first prominent companion who gave his pledge to Imam Ali (PBUH), but, Talhah and Zubayr later claimed they supported him reluctantly.
While the overwhelming majority of Medina’s population as well as many of the rebels gave their pledge, some important figures or tribes did not do so. The Umayyad, kinsmen of Othman, fled to the Levant or remained in their houses, later refusing Imam Ali’s legitimacy. Sa’ad Ibn Abi Waqqas was absent and Abdullah Ibn Omar abstained from offering his allegiance, but both of them assured Imam Ali (PBUH) that they would not act against him.
Reign as Caliph
Imam Ali (PBUH) inherited the Rashidin Caliphate (Abu Bakr, Omar, and Othman)—which extended from Egypt in the west to the Iranian highlands in the east—while the situation in the Hejaz and the other provinces on the eve of his election was unsettled. Soon after Imam Ali (PBUH) became caliph, he dismissed provincial governors who had been appointed by Othman, replacing them with trusted aides. Muawiyah, the kinsman of Othman and governor of the Levant, refused to submit to Imam Ali’s orders; he was the only governor to do so.
When he was appointed caliph, Imam Ali (PBUH) stated to the citizens of Medina that Muslim polity had come to be plagued by dissension and discord; he desired to purge Islam of any evil. He advised the populace to behave as true Muslims, warning that he would tolerate no sedition and those who were found guilty of subversive activities would be dealt with harshly. Ali (PBUH) recovered the land granted by Othman and swore to recover anything that elites had acquired before his election. Imam Ali opposed the centralization of capital control over provincial revenues, favoring an equal distribution of taxes and booty amongst the Muslim citizens; he distributed the entire revenue of the treasury among them. Imam Ali (PBUH) refrained from nepotism, including with his brother Aqeel Ibn Abu Talib. This was an indication to Muslims of his policy of offering equality to Muslims who served Islam in its early years and to the Muslims who played a role in the later conquests.
What shows Imam Ali’s policies and ideas of governing, is his instruction to Malik Ashtar, when appointed by him as governor of Egypt. This instruction, which is considered by many Muslims and even non-Muslims as the ideal constitution for Islamic governance, involved detailed description of duties and rights of the ruler and various functionaries of the state and the main classes of society at that time.
Imam Ali (PBUH) wrote in his instruction to Malik Ashtar:
“Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects. Be not in face of them a voracious animal, counting them as easy prey, for they are of two kinds: either they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation. Error catches them unaware, deficiencies overcome them, (evil deeds) are committed by them intentionally and by mistake. So grant them your pardon and your forgiveness to the same extent that you hope Allah will grant you His pardon and His forgiveness. For, you are above them, and he who appointed you is above you, and Allah is above him who appointed you. Allah has sought from you the fulfillment of their requirements and He is trying you with them.”
Since the majority of Ali’s subjects were nomads and peasants, he was concerned with agriculture. He instructed to Malik to give more attention to development of the land than to the collection of the tax, because tax can only be obtained by the development of the land and whoever demands tax without developing the land ruins the country and destroys the people.
On the 19th of Ramadan 40 AH, which would correspond to January 25/26, 661 CE, while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, Imam Ali (PBUH) was attacked by the Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Muljam. He was wounded by Ibn Muljam’s poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Morning Prayer. Imam Ali (PBUH) ordered his sons not to attack Ibn Muljam, if he survived; Ibn Muljam would be pardoned whereas if he died, Ibn Muljam should be given only one equal hit.
Imam Ali (PBUH) died a few days later on January 31, 661 CE (21 Ramadan 40 A.H). Hassan fulfilled Qisas(equal punishment) and gave equal punishment to Ibn Muljam upon Imam Ali’s martyrdom.
Ali (PBUH) did not want his grave to be desecrated by his enemies and consequently asked his friends and family to bury him secretly. This secret gravesite was revealed later during the Abbasid caliphate by Imam Ja’far Sadiq, his descendant and the sixth Shia Imam. Imam Ali (PBUH) is buried at the Tomb of Imam Ali (PBUH) in the Imam Ali (PBUH) Mosque at what is now the city of Najaf, which grew around the shrine.
After Imam Ali (PBUH)
After Imam Ali’s martyrdom, Kufi Muslims pledged allegiance to his eldest son Imam Hassan (PBUH) without dispute, as Imam Ali (PBUH) on many occasions had declared that just Progeny of Prophet Muhammad (Ahl Al-Bayt) were entitled to rule the Muslim community. At this time, Muawiyah held both the Levant and Egypt and, as commander of the largest force in the Muslim Empire, had declared himself as caliph and marched his army into Iraq, the seat of Hassan’s caliphate. (To know more, refer to “Imam Hassan” ,“Imamate”)
Except for the Prophet (PBUH), there is no one in Islamic history about who as much has been written in Islamic languages as Ali (PBUH). In Muslim culture, Ali (PBUH) is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies, and therefore is central to mystical traditions in Islam such as Sufism. Imam Ali (PBUH) retains his stature as an authority on Quranic exegesis, jurisprudence and religious thought. Imam Ali’s influence has been important throughout Islamic history.
Shia regards Imam Ali (PBUH) as the most important figure after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to them, the Prophet suggested on various occasions during his lifetime that Ali (PBUH) should be the leader of Muslims after his demise. This is supported by numerous Hadiths which have been narrated by Sunnis and Shias, including Hadith of the pond of Khum, Hadith of the two weighty things, Hadith of the pen and paper, Hadith of the Cloak, Hadith of position, Hadith of the invitation of the close families, and Hadith of the Twelve Successors.
Imam Ali (PBUH) as the successor of the Messenger of Allah, not only ruled over the community in justice, but also interpreted the Sharia Law (Islamic laws) and its esoteric meaning. Hence he was regarded as being free from error and sin (infallible), and appointed by Allah by divine decree (nass) through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is believed in Twelver that “Aql” (divine wisdom), was the source of the souls of the Prophets and Imams and gave them esoteric knowledge called “Hikmah” (wisdom, philosophy) (حکمت) and that their sufferings were a means of divine grace to their devotees. Although the Imam was not the recipient of a divine revelation, he had a close relationship with Allah, through which Allah guides him, and the Imam in turn guides the people. His words are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result it is a source of sharia law.
Shia pilgrims usually go to Shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) in Najaf for Ziyarat (pilgrimage), pray there and read “Ziyarat Amin Allah” or other Ziyaratnamehs (special pray for a divine Prophet or an Imam). Under the Safavid Empire, his grave became the focus of much devoted attention, exemplified in the pilgrimage made by Shah Ismail to Najaf and Karbala.
Sunni Muslims regard Imam Ali (PBUH) with great respect as one of the Ahl Al-Bayt and the last of the Rashidin caliphs, as well as one of the most influential and respected leaders in Islam. Also, he is one of the Al-Asharatu Mubashsharun, the Ten Companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whom the Prophet of Islam promised Paradise. But they don’t believe in Imam Ali’s right being successor of the Prophet (PBUH).
Non-Muslim quotations about Imam Ali (PBUH)
Edward Gibbon (British 18th century historian):
“The zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by any recent proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist, in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and velour. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the apostle was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses.”
Washington Irving (American author and essayist):
“He was of the noblest branch of the noble race of Quraysh. He possessed the three qualities most prized by Arabs: courage, eloquence, and munificence. His intrepid spirit had gained him from the prophet the appellation of The Lion of God; specimens of his eloquence remain in some verses and sayings preserved among the Arabs; and his munificence was manifested in sharing among others, every Friday, what remained in the treasury. Of his magnanimity, we have given repeated instances; his noble scorn of everything false and mean, and the absence in his conduct of everything like selfish intrigue.”
Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer):
“As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble-minded creature, as he shows himself, now and always afterwards; full of affection, of fiery daring. Something chivalrous in him; brave as a lion; yet with a grace, a truth and affection worthy of Christian knighthood.”
Sir William Muir (Scottish scholar and statesman):
“Endowed with a clear intellect, warm in affection, and confiding in friendship, he was from the boyhood devoted heart and soul to the Prophet. Simple, quiet, and Non-ambitious, when in after days he obtained the rule of half of the Moslem world, it was rather thrust upon him than sought.”
Simon Ockley (British Orientalist and Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge):
“One thing particularly deserving to be noticed is that his mother was delivered of him at Mecca, in the very temple itself; which never happened to anyone else.”
Khalil Gibran (poet):
“In my view, ʿAli was the first Arab to have contact with and converse with the universal soul. He died a martyr of his greatness; he died while prayer was between his two lips. The Arabs did not realize his value until appeared among their Persian neighbors some who knew the difference between gems and gravels.”
Imam Hassan Mojtaba (PBUH)
Imam Hassan Ibn Ali (Arabic: الحسن بن علي بن أبي طالب) (born March 4, 625 CE (Ramadan 15th, 3 AH) – martyred March 9 or 30, 670 CE (Safar 7th or 28th, 50 AH) is an important figure in Islam. He is the son of Imam Ali (PBUH) and Lady Fatimah (PBUH). After his father’s martyrdom, he briefly succeeded him as the Caliph and leader of Muslims. Hassan ibn Ali (PBUH) is 2nd Imam of Shia Muslims. Imam Hassan is also highly respected by the Sunni as the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
According to Shia and Sunni sources, the Prophet (PBUH), upon the birth of his first grandson, was ordered by the archangel Gabriel to name him Hassan – a name not used in the pre-Islamic period. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also honored his grandson by reciting the Adhān in his right ear, the Iqāmah in his left ear, shaving his head, and sacrificing a ram for the sake of his birth. He grew up in a unique family, his mother was the best woman in the world and his father was the greatest man after the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), so he was taught best morals.
As a growing youth, Hassan (PBUH) saw his father on the battlefield defending Islam as well as preaching to a vast congregation of believers on the occasion of hajj and as a missionary of Islam to Yemen before retreating to a passive role in the matters of the state during the period of the first three caliphs after the demise of his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad. There are also Hadith that state that Hassan (PBUH) and Hussain (PBUH) are the Masters of the youth in paradise and Hassan (PBUH) and his brother Hussain (PBUH) are Imams “whether they sit or stand”. Imam Hassan (PBUH) is one of five persons included in the Hadith of the Cloak. He is said to have been the first of the Prophet’s family to enter Yemeni Kisa after Prophet Muhammad and to have walked hand in hand with the Prophet as a child to testify to the truth of Islam at Mubahila.
Hassan (PBUH) was one of the guards defending Othman Ibn Affan when the attackers climbed a wall and went around him and killed Othman Ibn Affan.
When the third caliph was murdered by protesters in his palace in Mad’mah, finally people understood no one couldn’t be better than Imam Ali (PBUH) to lead them, thus, Imam Ali was elected to lead the Muslims. Hassan (PBUH) assisted his father: he went to Kufa and raised an army against the dissenting Muslims, then participated actively in the battles of Basra, Siffin and Nahrawan alongside his father, demonstrating skill both as a soldier and a leader.
Upon the martyrdom of Imam Ali (PBUH) in Kufa a new caliph had to be elected. According to Imam Ali’s appointment before his martyrdom the choice was restricted to Hassan (PBUH) and his younger brother Hussain (PBUH). So Kufi Muslims gave their allegiance to Imam Hassan (PBUH) without dispute. Shia believes in Imam Hassan (PBUH) as the second Imam, However, many Sunni Muslim historians, such as Suyuti, Ibn al-Arabi, and Ibn Kathir accept Hassan Ibn Ali (PBUH) as the last such caliph.
however, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, who had a long-running dispute with Imam Ali (PBUH), and always have been against the truth and verity not only didn’t give allegiance to Imam Hassan (PBUH), but summoned the commanders of his forces in Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan to join him in preparation for battle against Imam Hassan. There was no choice, thus the Imam gathered his army to defend. The two armies faced each other near Sabat. Imam Hassan (PBUH) wanted his men to follow his orders even if they did not agree with them. Some of the troops, taking this as a sign that Imam Hassan was preparing to give up battle, rebelled and attacked him. Imam Hassan (PBUH) was wounded but loyal soldiers surrounded him and managed to kill the mutineers. On the other hand, since Muawyah was so miscreant, offered large sums of money and promises of vast properties and governorships of provinces to commanders of Imam Hassan’s army. Those commanders, who hadn’t deep faith, fooled by properties and not only they left the Imam but also they took their army and just some companions of Imam stayed beside him.
In this situation, fight was not the right choice. Imam Hassan (PBUH) knew his army is not enough to fight against Muawyah, in addition, engagement of Muslims in a battle against each other would mean a loss of many: Muawiyah also had his concerns about being forced into a battle thus, he sent two men from the Quraysh tribe to negotiate a settlement. It is mentioned in Sahih Al Bokhari, Volume 3, Book 49 (Peacemaking), Number 867: Narrated by Al-Hassan Al-Basri
Muawiya sent two Quraysh men from the tribe of ‘Abd-i-Shams called ‘Abdu Rahman bin Sumura and Abdullah bin ‘Amir Bin Kuraiz to Imam Hassan “Go to this man (i.e. Imam Hassan (PBUH)) and negotiate peace with him and talk and appeal to him.” So, they went to Imam Hassan and talked and appealed to him to accept peace. Imam Hassan (PBUH) said, “We, the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib, have got wealth and people have indulged in killing and corruption (and money only will appease them).” They said to Imam Hassan, “Muawiya offers you so and so, and appeals to you and entreats you to accept peace.” Imam Hassan (PBUH) said to them, “But who will be responsible for what you have said?” They said, “We will be responsible for it.” So, what-ever Imam Hassan asked they said, “We will be responsible for it for you.” So, Imam Hassan (PBUH) concluded a peace treaty with Muawiya. Hassan Al-Basri said: “I heard Abu Bakr said, “I saw Allah’s Apostle on the pulpit and Hassan bin Ali was by his side. The Prophet was looking once at the people and once at Hassan bin Ali saying, ‘This son of mine is a Sayid (i.e. a noble) and may Allah make peace between two big groups of Muslims through him.”
Imam Hassan (PBUH) therefore made the Imam Hassan–Muawiya treaty with Muawiyah but under some conditions.
Shia scholars quote Hadith from later Shia Imams to the effect that Imam Hassan lacked the support to fight and win, so he ceded power to Muawiya.
Muawiyah did not comply with the terms of the treaty, saying to the people of Kufa, “do you think I have taken power to teach you? No, I have taken power and if any one of you tries to disagree with me he shall pay the costly price of the loss of his head.” He carried out his ambition of keeping the power in his family by nominating his son Yazid as caliph after him.
Some conditions of agreement
Imam Hasaan asked Muawiah to follow Quran and the tradition of the prophet. However, when Muawiyah returned to Kufa said to the people:
إني واللّه ما قاتلتكم لتصلّوا ولا لتصوموا ولا لتحجّوا ولا لتزكوا إنّكم لتفعلون ذلك. وإنّما قاتلتكم لأتأمّر عليكم، وقد أعطاني اللّه ذلك وأنتم كارهون
“I didn’t sign agreement to make you pray, pay Zakat, go Hajj, no, but just to rule and patronize you.”
كل شرط شرطته فتحت قدمى
“Now, All conditions (between him and Imam Hassan) is under my feet (have no value anymore)”
Imam Hassan (PBUH) said Muawiyah is not permitted to state Caliph after himself and Caliphate belongs to Imam Hassan. However after awhile Muawiyah stated Yazid as next Caliph by forcing, treating and killing people.
Imam Hassan (PBUH) said Muawiyah ought not to insult or dishonor Imam Ali (pbuh). But Muawiyah in his first travel to Medina ordered to insult Imam Ali (pbuh) after each prayer and made it a tradition among Muslims.
Imam Hassan (PBUH) wants Muawiyah to respect to the Shia (Muslim followers of Imam Ali (PBUH)) rights and leave them in peace and safety.
As it was expected, Muawiyah ordered to kill shia Muslims wherever they were found, even if two people testify someone is shia, that person should be killed. Also he ordered to kill every baby or child who was named Ali.
Imam Hassan (PBUH) returned to Medina. He lacked his moral support and had a hard time during his stay there after the peace treaty, with taunts and abuse from some of Muawiyah’s followers and the anger of his supporters for having relinquished the caliphate.
He donated all his belongings completely twice in his lifetime. Also, he divided his property between himself and the poor people equally three times. He was famous in modesty, generosity, munificence, science and knowledge, bravery and many positive moral points.
Hassan ibn Ali (PBUH) martyred in Medina either on Safar 7th or 28th, 50 AH. He is buried at the famous Jannat Al-Baqee cemetery across from the Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet). According to historians, Muawiyah wished to pass the caliphate to his own son Yazid, and saw Imam Hassan as an obstacle. According to the Shia sources and some Sunni sources he secretly contacted Imam Hassan’s wife, Ja’da bint al-Ash’ath Ibn Qays, and incited her to poison her husband. Ja’da did as Muawiyah suggest, giving her husband poison mixed with honey when he came back home for Iftar(Muslims Iftar to finish fast).
Ja’da was promised gold and marriage to Yazid. Seduced by the promise of wealth and power, she poisoned her husband, and then hastened to the court of Muawiyah in Damascus to receive her reward. Muawiyah reneged on his promises and married her to another man.
Also Sadi Khazraji has quoted that Tabari has narrated:
وفي تاريخ الطبري أن الحسن بن علي رضي الله عنهما مات مسموما في أيام معاوية وكان عند معاوية كما قيل دهاء فدس إلى جعدة بنت الأشعث بن قيس وكانت زوجة الحسن رضي الله عنه شربة وقال لها إن قتلت الحسن زوجتك بيزيد. فلما توفي الحسن بعثت إلى معاوية تطلب قوله فقال لها في الجواب أنا أضن بيزيد.
“It is written in Tarikh Al-Tabari that Hassan ibn Ali (PBUH) was poisoned in Muawieh era. Muawieh who was clever sent syrup to Ja’da bint al-Ash’ath, Imam Hassan’s wife, secretly and told her if you kill Hassan (PBUH), I will take you to marry with Yazid.
When Hassan (PBUH) passed away, she sent someone to Moawieh to fulfill his promise, Moawieh respond her: I’m jealous about Yazid( I don’t give him to everyone)”
(Al-Sadi Al-Khazraji, Oyoon Al-Anba fi Tabaghat Al-Atba, volume1, page 174)
However, unfortunately, this narration does not exist in new prints of the book Tarikh Al-Tabari and it is omitted from it by some Sunni depositaries.
Imam Hassan (PBUH) had asked for his body to be taken to the prophet’s grave, so that he could pay his last respect, and then to be buried near his mother Lady Fatima (PBUH) (the daughter of the Prophet). This caused armed opposition. As the funeral proceeded towards the grave of Prophet Muhammad some Umayyad mounted on horses obstructed it. Aisha bint Abu Bakr (one of the Prophet’s wives) appeared, riding a mule and shouting that the grave of Muhammad (PBUH) was in her house and she would not allow the grandson of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (the first wife of the Prophet and mother of Lady Fatimah) to be buried beside the Prophet. Then a shower of arrows fell on the coffin.
Marwan was the governor of Medina at the time and objected on the grounds that Othman had not been allowed to be buried.
There is a detailed account of the events in Ibn Katheer’s book Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah:
“It is narrated that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah saw Hassan Ibn Ali (PBUH) on the day of his martyrdom. Conflict almost broke out between Hassan Ibn Ali (PBUH) and Marwan Ibn Hakam after Imam Hassan (PBUH) instructed his brother to bury him with the Messenger of Allah, but if some battle or mishap were to occur because of it then he should be buried in Janat Al-Baqi. Marwan objected to allowing Imam Hassan (PBUH) to be buried with the Messenger. In fact Marwan never ceased to be the enemy of the Banu Hashim tribe until his death. As Jabar recalls:”That day I spoke to Hussain bin Ali (PBUH), I said: O Abu Abdullah! Fear Allah for your brother did not like to see conflict. Therefore bury him in al-Baqi with his mother, so he did”
Imam Hussain (PBUH), fulfilling the last wish of his brother, turned the procession of the funeral towards Jannat al-Baqi, the general graveyard of Medina, where he was buried. According to one version Marwan asked Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha also to allow his relative Othman ibn Affan to be buried beside the Prophet, but Aisha refused Marwan’s request. No one else was buried beside the Prophet in Aisha’s house.
“Marwan Al-Ḥakam, who had been deposed the year before, swore that he would not allow Imam Hassan to be buried next to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) with Abu Bakr and Omar as long as Othman was buried in al-Baqi … Muawiyah eventually rewarded Marwan for his stand by reappointing him governor of Medina ”
After Imam Hassan’s martyrdom his Iraqi followers wrote to Imam Hussain (PBUH) pledging allegiance and proposing to remove Muawiya. However, Imam Hussain refused, choosing to abide by the treaty between Hassan Ibn Ali (PBUH) and Muawiyah, which could not be broken at that time.
The shrine containing Imam Hassan’s tomb was destroyed in 1925 during the conquest of Medina by Al-Saud tribes (Wahabis). This was part of a general destruction of memorials in cemeteries for religious reasons. In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage “shirk” (the sin of idolatry or polytheism) and should be destroyed.
But it’s provable that keeping these memorials and pilgrimage them not only isn’t Shirk but it is a sort of prayer.
Imam Hussain (pbuh)
Imam Hussain (pbuh) (Arabic: حسين ); sometimes spelled Hussein, was the son of Imam Ali (pbuh) (fourth Rashidun Caliph of Sunni , and first Imam of Shia Islam) and Lady Fatimah Zahra (pbuh) (daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) and the younger brother of Imam Hassan (pbuh). Imam Hussain (pbuh) is an important figure in Islam, as he is a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt (the household of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) and Ahl al-Kisa, as well as being the third Shia Imam.
Imam Hussain (pbuh) is highly regarded by Shia Muslims because he refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid the Umayyad caliph, because he considered the rule of the Umayyads unjust. As a consequence, he left Medina, his home town, and traveled to Mecca. There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, asking his help and pledging their allegiance to him. So he traveled toward Kufa. At Karbala his caravan was intercepted by Yazid’s army. He was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala in 680 (61 AH) by Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, along with most of his family and companions. The annual memorial for him, his family, his children and his companions is called Ashura (tenth day of Muharram) and is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims.
The tragedy in Karbala has had an impact on religious conscience of Muslims beyond its sacredness among Shia. In the long term, the cruel killings at Karbala became an example of the brutality of the Umayyad and fueled the later Shia movements. Anger at Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s martyrdom was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine and ultimately overthrow the Umayyad Caliphate.
According to most reports, Imam Hussain (pbuh) was born on 10 January 626 CE (3 / 5 Sha’aban 4 AH).
Imam Hussain (pbuh) and his brother Imam Hassan (pbuh) were the last descendants of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) living during his lifetime and remaining after his death. There are many accounts of his love for them which refer to them together.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said that whoever loves them has loved him and whoever hates them has hated him. A famous narration declares them the “Masters of the Youth of Paradise”; this has been particularly important for the Shia Muslims who have used it in support of the right of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants to succeed him. Other traditions record Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with his grandsons on his knees, on his shoulders, and even on his back during prayer at the moment of prostrating himself, when they were young.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) loved them and declared them as his Ahl al-Bayt very frequently. Shia popular view is the members of the Prophets family that were present at the incident of Mubahala. According to Muhammad Baqir Majlisi who compiled Bihar Al-Anwar, a collection of Hadith, Chapter 46 Verse 15 (Al-Ahqaf) and Chapter 89 Verses 27-30 (Al-Fajr) of the Quran are regarding Imam Hussain (pbuh).
Imam Ali (pbuh) was assassinated by Kharijites (to know more about Kharijites, refer to section “Deviant Sects”) in 661. Six months later in 661, in the interest of peace, Imam Hassan (pbuh) highly regarded for his wisdom and as a peacemaker, the fifth Rightly Guided Caliph for the Sunnis and the Second Imam for the Shia and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), made a peace treaty with Mu’awiyah (to see more, refer to Imamate, Imam Hassan(pbuh)). In the Imam Hassan-Mu’awiyah treaty, Hassan (pbuh) handed over power to Muawiya on the condition just to keep the people safe and secure. Imam Hassan (pbuh) and Imam Hussain (pbuh) then moved to Medina. Following this, Muawiyah broke the conditions of the agreement and began the Umayyad dynasty, with its capital in Damascus. This brought to an end the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs for the Sunnis and Imam Hassan (pbuh) was also the last Imam for the Shias to be as a Caliph. On his deathbed Mu’awiyah appointed his son Yazid to succeed him. Yazid was oppressive, and Imam Hussain (pbuh) felt that it was his duty to confront him.
The state that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established was in accordance with Islamic economic jurisprudence. As the state expanded, the rights of the different communities, as they existed in the Constitution of Medina still applied. The Constitution of Medina instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jews, Christian and pagan communities of Medina, bringing them within the fold of one community. The Constitution established: the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, and a judicial system for resolving disputes where non-Muslims could also use their own laws. All the tribes signed the agreement to defend Medina from all external threats and to live in harmony amongst them. The same rights were later applied to all the communities as the state expanded outside Medina. The Quran also gave rights to the citizens of the state and these rights were also applied. But Yazid was oppressive and Imam Hussain (pbuh) felt that it was his religious duty to confront him and send a message to the future generations that oppressive rulers who take away the rights of people should not be given allegiance.
Imam Hussain (pbuh) left Medina with his sisters, daughters, sons, brothers, and the sons of Imam Hassan (pbuh). He took a side road to Mecca to avoid being pursued, and once in Mecca Imam Hussain (pbuh) stayed in the house of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and remained there for four months.
In Mecca Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr, Abdullah Ibn Omar and Abdullah Ibn Abbas advised Imam Hussain (pbuh) to make Mecca his base and fight against Yazid from Mecca. Imam Hussain (pbuh) opposed Yazid and declared that Umayyad rule was not only oppressive, but also religiously misguided. In his view the integrity and survival of the Islamic community depended on the re-establishment of the correct guidance. Imam Hussain (pbuh) also believed that the succession of Yazid was an attempt to establish an illegitimate hereditary dynasty.
The religious attitudes of the Umayyad also inspired the people of Kufa to believe that leadership of the Muslim community belonged to the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), so they urged Imam Hussain (pbuh) to join them, come to Kufa to establish his Caliphate since they had no Imam and help them to be released from cruel rulers. As he prepared for the journey to Kufa, Abdullah Ibn Omar and Abdullah Ibn Abbas argued against his plan and, if he was determined to proceed to Kufa, asked him to leave the women and children in Mecca.
Imam Hussain (pbuh) sent one of his companions, Moslem Ibn Aqeel to Kufa to check the situation and see how many people want Imam Hussain (pbuh) to be their caliph.
In Kufa Yazid replaced Noman Ibn Bashir with Ubayd-Allah Ibn Ziyad, ordering the latter to disperse the crowd supporting Muslim Ibn Aqeel. Ubaid-Allah treated people and killed some of them to dissuade them about Imam Hussain (pbuh). Then Ibn Aqeel was found and delivered to Ubayd-Allah, and while Muslim bin Aqeel was going to send a message to Imam Hussain (pbuh) with the following: “return with your family, and don’t be deceived by the people of Kufa. They have misled you and me”, Ubayd-Allah bin Ziyad killed him. However, the message was not received to Imam Hussain (pbuh) when he decided to leave Mecca.
Battle of Karbala
Imam Hussain (pbuh) in his path toward Kufa encountered the army of Ubaydllah Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, led by Hurr Ibn Yazid Riyahi, a top commander in the Umayyad army who later changed sides. It is said that when Hurr and his one thousand men army initially encountered Imam Hussain (pbuh) on the day of 4th Muharram, Hurr and his army were thirsty as they had been on the way to capture Imam Hussain (pbuh) for many days. Imam Hussain (pbuh) offered his storage of water to Hurr, his army, and their horses. It is said that if Imam Hussain (pbuh) had not offered the water to Hurr and his army, the water in Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s camp would have lasted until 19th day of Muharram. Hurr did not arrest Imam Hussain (pbuh), but told him to set a camp in Karbala and stop his journey to Kufa. Imam Hussain (pbuh) and his family were also not allowed to set up tents close to the bank of the Euphrates. On the 7th day of Muharram, the water storage in Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s camp was finished. Imam Hussain (pbuh) requested Ibn Ziyad’s army to allow him and his family members’ access to water, but his request was denied. Imam Hussain (pbuh) sent his brother Al-Abbas Ibn Ali (pbuh) to the river bank to bring water, but Ziyad’s army fought with Abbas, cut off both his arms, hit his head and killed him. Abbas (pbuh) was half-brother of Imam Hussain (pbuh) but always Abbas have been respecting his brother who was his Imam and have been calling him my lord. When Abbas (pbuh) fell down from his horse while his head was bloody and his hands were cut off, called Imam Hussain (pbuh): “O! My brother” He called Imam Hussain (pbuh), my brother for the first and last time. Imam Hussain (pbuh) came to him and held his head but Abbas (pbuh) put his head on the ground and said:”no, don’t hold me because when they kill you, I am not there to hold you”
Ibn Ziyad’s army also killed Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s his six month old son, when Imam Hussain (pbuh) asked for water for his little son, but the army launched arrows toward Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s son, the arrow torn the throat of little Ali Asghar (pbuh).
Imam Hussain (pbuh) lost his sons, his brother’s sons, his companions in this battle which was forced to him and his family and finally the enemy killed him by many arrows and sword, at last they cut his head and crossed on his holy body by horses. At the Battle of Karbala it is recorded that seventy two people were killed, the whole companions of Imam Hussain (pbuh).
When Imam Hussain (pbuh) clashed with Yazid’s army, he said:
… Don’t you see that the truth is not put into action and the false is not prohibited? The believer should desire to meet his Lord while he is right. Thus I do not see death but as happiness, and living with tyrants but as sorrow.
On 13 October 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH), he and his small group of his followers and family members, who were between 72, fought with a large army under the command of Umar Ibn Sa’ad, son of Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas. Imam Hussain (pbuh) and all of his men were killed and beheaded. The bodies were left for forty days without burial and survivors from Husain’s family were taken as prisoners to al-Sham (Syria and Lebanon today) to Yazid.
Part of his speech on Ashura:
“Behold; the illegitimate, son of the illegitimate [by birth], has settled between two, between unsheathing [the sword]and humiliation, and how impossible is humiliation from us! Allah refuses that for us, and his messenger, and the believers, and laps testified and purified, and zealous noses [expression: heads that do not bow in humility], and repudiating souls [who repudiate/refuse oppression], that we desire obedience to the mean ones, than the killings of the honorable [martyrdom]. Behold that I move slowly with this family, despite the little number and deserting of helpers.”
Today, the death of Imam Hussain (pbuh) is commemorated during every Muharram by Shia Muslims, with the most important of these days being its tenth day, Ashura. However, Ashura is commemorated by some Sunni Muslims for reasons of martyrdom of Imam Hussain (pbuh).
Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s body is buried in Karbala, near the site of his death. His head is said to have been returned from Damascus and interred with his body. Shia believe that Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s head was first buried in the courtyard of yezid mahal (Umayyad Mosque) than transferred from Damascus to Ashkelon to Cairo.
Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s grave became the most visited place of pilgrimage (Ziyarat) for Shias. The Imam Hussain (pbuh) Shrine was later built over his holy grave. In 850 Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil, destroyed his shrine in order to stop Shia pilgrimage. However, pilgrimage continued.
Return of the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) to his body
Several Shia and Sunni sources confirm the return of Imam Hussain’s head to his body in Karbala. According to Shaykh Saduq, Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s son, Imam Ali Ibn Hussain (pbuh) (the only man who survived from Karbala, because during the battle he was sick and he couldn’t fight), took it back from Sham and returned it to Karbala. Fetal Neyshabouri and Majlesi have confirmed this in their books, Rouzato-Waisin and Bihar al-Anwar respectively. Sharif al-Murtaza also mentions this in his book Rasaa’el. Ibn shahrashub verifies Sharif al-Murtaza stating the same thing about the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh). He also narrates Shaykh Tusi that this event, i.e. returning the head to the body, happened forty days after Ashura and that is why there are specific rituals for this day. This day is recognized by Shias and is known as Arba’een. Similar statements are documented by famous Shia scholars e.g. Ahmad Ibn Tawoos and Muhaqeq Helli. Among Sunni scholars, Abu Rayḥan al-Biruni in his famous work The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries has stated that Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s head was returned to his body and was buried altogether on 20th of the lunar month of Safar (Arba’een). Similar statement is mentioned by Sunni scholar Zakariya al-Qazwini, in his book ʿAja’ib al-makhluqat va ghara’ib al-mawjudat. Qurtobi narrates from Shias on the return of the head to the body on Arba’een.
On the second day after the battle of Karbala, the forces of Yazid raised the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) on a lance. They took it to Kufa to present it to Ubayd-Allah Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, leaving behind the mutilated body of Imam Hussain (pbuh). The headless body was thus buried there by the tribe of Bani Assad, who were living in the vicinity of Karbala. After the exhibition and display of the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh), Ibn Ziyad dispatched it to Damascus to be presented to Yazid as a trophy.
Yazid celebrated the occasion with great pomp and show by displaying the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) in his crowded and decorated court. The head was then buried in a niche of one of the internal walls of Jame-Masjid, Damascus, Syria. Afterwards, the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) remained confiscated and confined in Damascus by the order of the Umayyad monarch, Sulayman Ibn Abd al-Malik, in this condition for about two hundred twenty years.
When the Abbasids took power from the Umayyad, in the garb of taking revenge of Ahl al-Bayt, they also confiscated the head Imam Hussain (pbuh) and proved to be worse enemies than the Umayyad. It was the Abbasid emperor Al-Muqtadir (d. 295/908), an enemy of the Ahl al-Bayt He attempted many times to stop the pilgrimage to the head, but in vain. He thus tried to completely eliminate the sign of the sacred place of Ziyarat; he transferred the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) to Ashkelon (located 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Gaza Strip and 58 km (36 mi) south of Tel Aviv, Israel) in secrecy, so that the pilgrims could not find the place.
It was Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz Billah(d.386 AH/996) who traced the site of the head of his great-grandfather through the office of his contemporary in Baghdad, in 985. In the city of Ashkelon, Israel, it remained buried at “Baab al Faradis”, for a long time (about 250 years up to 1153).
Commander of the Fatimid forces Dai Badrul’jamali (d. 487/1095) conquered Palestine, during the period of Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah (d. 487/1094). He assigned him to discover the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) Ibn. The Dai, in 448 (A.H) discovered the place of the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh).
Under the instructions of the Fatimid Imam Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah, Badr al-JamImam Ali (pbuh)constructed a mosque and donated several huge properties to meet the expenditure of the ‘Trust’, so as to maintain the affairs of the Mashhad the place of burial. He also prepared a wooden minbar (pulpit) and placed it in the mosque, where Raas al Hussain (pbuh) was buried. This minbar bears the historical account which is engraved in Arabi Fatemi Kufic script about the Raas al Hussain (pbuh).
The shrine was described as the most magnificent building in Ashkelon. In the British Mandate period it was a “large maqam on top of a hill” with no tomb but a fragment of a pillar showing the place where the head had been buried.
After the 21st Fatimid Imam At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim went into seclusion, his uncle, Abd al Majid occupied the throne of the Fatimid Empire. Fearing disrespect and the atrocities of the traitors and enemies, the Majidi-monarch, Al-Zafir, ordered the transfer of the head to Cairo. The ruler of the city of Ashkelon, Al Amir Sayf al Mamlaka Tamim along with the custodian of the Mashhad, Qazi Mohammad bin Miskin, took out the buried casket of Raas al Hussain (pbuh) from the Mashhad, and with due respect and great reverence, on Sunday 8 Jumada al-Thani, 548 (31 August 1153) carried the head from the city of Ashkelon to Cairo, Egypt. Sayedi Hassan bin Asad (Hir’az, Yemen) discussed this event in his Risalah manuscript as follows: “When the Raas (head) al Hussain (pbuh) was taken out of the casket, in Ashkelon, drops of the fresh blood were visible on the head of Imam Hussain and the fragrance of Musk spread all over.”
Historians, Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad al-Qalqashandi, and Ibn Muyassar (d.1278) have mentioned that the casket reached Cairo on Tuesday 10 Jumada al-Thani (2 September 1153). Ust’ad Maknun accompanied it in one of the service boats which landed at the Kafuri (Garden). Buried there in the place known “Qubbat al Daylam” or “Turbat al Zafr’an” (currently known as “Al Mashhad al Hussain (pbuh)”. This place is also known as “B’ab Makhallif’at al Rasul” and located in Al-Hussain Mosque.
During the golden era of the Fatimid Caliphate, on the day of Ashura, every year the people of Egypt from far and near used to gather and offer sacrifices of camels, cows, goats in the name of Allah, recite Marsiyah-elegies on the Ahl al Bayt and the companions of Imam Hussain (pbuh) and pronounced L’anat (curse) loudly on Yazid, Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, Ibn Ziyad and other murderers of Imam Hussain (pbuh). During the tenure of Saladin, all mourning commemorations for Imam Hussain (pbuh) were declared officially banned.
The burial place is now also known as Imam Hussain (pbuh) shrine and it is visited regularly by all Shia. In the shrine, around the holy grave there is a silver netted wall that is named Zarih. The presentation of the Zarih is also unique in the history of loyalty and faithfulness. The Zarih of Raas (head) al Hussain was originally constructed for the Abbas (pbuh) (Imam Hussain’s brother) Mosque at Karbala, Iraq. When this Zarih reached the mosque of Abbas Ibn Ali (pbuh) it would not fit on the place. The size of the Zarih and the site of the fitting place differed at the time of fitting, although every technical aspects and measurements of the site were taken into account very precisely. The engineers were astonished, as what had happened, although every minute detail was handled very professionally. The loyalty of Abbas Ibn Ali (pbuh) was also witnessed on that day too, as it had been witnessed on the day of Ashura. There a divine guidance came to the effect by way of intuition that a sincere, faithful, loyal and devoted brother could not tolerate, that the head of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain (pbuh), buried in Cairo, Egypt, should be without a Zarih, thus how could he accept this gift for himself. Hence even after martyrdom, Abbas Ibn Ali (pbuh) paid his tribute to Imam Hussain (pbuh) and presented his own Zarih for Raas al Husain (pbuh). When this above-mentioned Zarih was brought from Karbala, Iraq, to Al Moizziyat al Qahera, Cairo, Egypt, it fitted upon the original position of the grave known as Mashhad of Raas al Hussain in such a manner, as if it had been fabricated for Raas al Hussain itself.
Arab traveler Ibne Batuta also wrote in his itinerary (rihla) that, after the incident of Karbala the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) was in the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus. From there it was taken and buried in Ashkelon. During the crusade the Fatimid ruler of Egypt exhumed the head and brought it to Egypt. Thereafter the head of Imam Hussain (pbuh) was buried again in the al Qarrafa graveyard in Cairo. The site of the graveyard became the mausoleum called Raas Al-Hussain (inside Imam Hussain (pbuh) Mosque).
During the period of Saladin, and by his order, the minbar made by Dai Badr-ul Jamali was transferred from Ashkelon to the Mosque Khalil al Rahman (Cave of the Patriarchs), Hebron in the West Bank, Palestine. Saladin did not know that this minbar contained an inscription showing the history of Imam Hussain (pbuh). The 51st al Dai al Fatemi/Dawoodi Bohra, Taher Saifuddin (d.1385/1965) got the honor to visit Mosque Khalil al Rahman, and he discovered the Fatamid minbar, one thousand years after the seclusion of the Fatamid leaders.
The Mosque of the Ashkelon known as “Masjid Al Mashhad al Hussain” was blown up deliberately as part of a broader operation of defense force in 1950 at the instructions of Moshe Dayan, but the devotees of Ahl al Bayt did not forgotten it.
A few years ago, the 52nd Fatamid/Ismaili/Mustali/Dawoodi Bohra Dai Muhammad, built a marble platform, as per traditional Fatimid architectural design, at the site, on the ground behind the Barzilai Hospital, Ashkelon and since then thousands of devotees have come from across the world, year round to pay tribute to Imam Hussain (pbuh).
Imam Hussain (pbuh) was the son of Imam Ali (pbuh) (Prophet Muhammad’s cousin) and Lady Fatimah (pbuh) (the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)). Imam Hussain (pbuh) and his brother Imam Hassan (pbuh) were regarded by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as his own sons due to his love for them and as they were the sons of his daughter Lady Fatima (pbuh) and he regarded her children and descendants as his own children and descendants, and he said “Every mothers children are associated with their father except for the children of Fatima (pbuh) for I am their father and lineage” Thus only the descendants of Lady Fatima (pbuh) are the descendants and progeny of the Prophet and his Ahl al Bayt.
Commemoration of Imam Hussain (pbuh)
The Day of Ashura is commemorated by the Shia society as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (pbuh), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the Battle of Karbala. The commemoration of Imam Hussain (pbuh) has become a national holiday and all ethnic and religious communities participate in it.
It is said by later Imams that a pilgrimage to Karbala and Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s shrine there in has the merit of a thousand pilgrimages to Mecca, of a thousand martyrdoms, and of a thousand days fasting.
The effect of the events in Karbala on Muslims has been deep and is beyond the passion in Shiaʿism. While the intent of the major players in the act has often been debated, it is clear that Imam Hussain (pbuh) cannot be viewed as simply a rebel risking him and his family’s lives for his personal ambition. He did not pledge allegiance to Yazid, who had been chosen as successor by Moawyah in violation of his treaty with Imam Hassan (pbuh). Yet he also did not actively seek martyrdom and offered to leave Iraq once it became clear that he no longer had any support in Kufa. His initial determination to follow the invitation of the Kufan Shias in spite of the numerous warnings he received depicts a religious conviction of a mission that left him no choice, whatever the outcome.
Historian Edward Gibbon was touched by Imam Hussain (pbuh), describing the events at Karbala as “a tragedy”. Mahatma Gandhi attributes the historical progress of Islam, to the “sacrifices of Muslim saints like Imam Hussain (pbuh)” rather than military force.
The traditional narration “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala!” is used by the Shia as a mantra to live their lives as Imam Hussain (pbuh) did on Ashura, i.e. with complete sacrifice for God and for others. The saying is also intended to signify that what happened on Ashura in Karbala must always be remembered because in each land always there is right and wrong sides and every day we have to choose between them and fight with the opposite one.
Dhuljanah (Arabic: ذو الجناح) was the horse of Imam Hussain (pbuh). The original name of Dhuljanah was Murtajiz and Maymoon and the reason for it being named that way was because of its sound of neighing being sweet, furious and high making it different from other horses. It was purchased by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from an Arab called Haris. It features prominently in the traditional narrating of the story of the Battle of Karbala and it is thought to have been a white stallion.
According to the narrations, when Imam Hussain (pbuh) was a mere child and learning to crawl, he used to go to the stable of Dhuljanah and look at it. Once the Prophet of Islam said that his grandson was curiously looking at the horse as if some mysterious conversation was taking place, so the Prophet asked the child if he wished to ride the horse and on being answered the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ordered the horse to be mounted and when Imam Hussain (pbuh) approached the horse it amazingly lowered itself to the ground allowing the child to mount him.
The Role of Dhuljanah in the Battle of Karbala
In the battle of Karbala, Imam Hussain (pbuh) used the horse and went to the battlefield. According to a collection of Hadith, Dhuljanah on its own killed 60 enemies of Imam Hussain (pbuh) in the Battle of Karbala.
It is also believed that Dhuljanah wept in sorrow of Imam Hussain (pbuh)‘s martyrdom.
After the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (pbuh), Dhuljanah went to the camps of Lady Zaynab (pbuh) (the daughter of Imam Ali (pbuh) and Imam Hussain’s sister) and then went to the Euphrates River never to be found again.
The practice of taking out the replica of Dhuljanah is still prevalent in processions during Muharram.
Shia Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, India, Bahrain and Iraq decorate a replica of Dhuljanah and take it along with them in an Azadari/Maraseem (mourning) procession. This replica reminds them of the real Dhuljanah and people often feed the replica with their own hands.
Arba’een (Arabic: الأربعين, Persian: چهلم, Urdu: چہلم) “the fortieth day”, is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashura to commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (pbuh), the grandson of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad which falls on the 20th day of the month of Safar. Arba’een is also observed 40 days after the death of a family member or loved one. Forty days is the usual length of the time of mourning in many Islamic cultures. Arba’een, is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which over 17 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq.
The occasion reminds the faithful of the core message behind Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s martyrdom: establishing justice and fighting injustice, no matter what its incarnation—a message that strongly influenced subsequent Shia uprisings against the Umayyad and Abbasid rule.
In the first Arba’een gathering in the year 62 AH, Jabir Ibn Abd-Allah, a companion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was one of the people who performed a pilgrimage to the burial site of Imam Hussain (pbuh). Due to his infirmity and probable blindness, he was accompanied by Atiyya bin Saad. His visit coincided with that of the surviving female members of Prophet Muhammad’s family and Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s son and their Imam Zain al-Abideen, who had all been held captive in Damascus by Yazid, the Umayyad Caliph. Imam Zain al-Abideen had been too ill to participate in the Battle of Karbala. He later devoted his life to mourning and spreading the message of Imam Hussain (pbuh)’s supreme sacrifice.
The city of Karbala in Iraq, the third holy place of Shia Islam, is the center of the proceedings. Many pilgrims travel miles on foot to reach Karbala.
Observance of Arba’een in Karbala was banned for many years when Saddam, was president of Iraq. For nearly 30 years under Saddam’s regime it was forbidden to mark Arba’een publicly in Iraq. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the observance in April 2003 was broadcast worldwide.
Arba’een is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in history. In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on Karbala to commemorate Arba’een. However, in 2009, the number of people visiting Karbala on Arba’een significantly increased. According to the official website of BBC News and Press TV, over ten million people had reached the city of Karbala one or two days before Arba’een. The number of pilgrims was expected to rise to 18 million during the next two days. in Arba’een 2014, over 20 million pilgrims reached to the Karbala, Iraq.
Imam Sajjad (PBUH)
Ali ibn Hussain (PBUH) (Arabic: علي بن الحسين) known as Zain al-Abidin (the adornment of the worshippers) and Imam Sajjad (The Prostrating Imam), is the fourth Shia Imam, after his father Imam Hussain (PBUH), his uncle Imam Hassan (PBUH), and his grandfather Imam Ali (PBUH), the Prophet’s son-in-law. He survived the Battle of Karbala and was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph in Damascus. Eventually, however, he was allowed to return to Medina where he led a secluded life with only a few intimate companions. Imam Sajjad’s life and statements were entirely devoted to asceticism and religious teachings mostly in the form of invocations and supplications. His famous supplications are well known as “Al-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiya”.
Ali ibn Al-Hussain (PBUH) was born in Medina, according to most sources in the year 38/658-9. He may have been too small to have remembered his grandfather Ali (PBUH), but was brought up in the presence of his uncle Imam Hassan (PBUH) and his father Imam Hussain (PBUH), the Prophet’s grandchildren. He was related through his mother Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdegerd, to the last Sassanian King of Persia (Iran). Thus he was said to be Ibn Al-Khiyaratayn, the “son of the best two (the Quraysh among the Arabs and the Persians among the non-Arabs)”. According to some accounts, his mother was brought as a captive to Medina during the caliphate of Omar, who wanted to sell her. Imam Ali (PBUH) suggested instead that she be offered her choice of the Muslim men as husband and that her dower be paid from the public treasury. Omar agreed and she chose Ali’s son, Hussain (PBUH).
In 61/680, Imam Hussain (PBUH) and nearly all male followers were massacred by the forces of the Umayyad caliph Yazid at the Battle of Karbala. Imam Sajjad (PBUH) accompanied his father on the march toward Kufa and was present at the Battle of Karbala, but survived the battle due to his illness. Once the Umayyad troops had mass murdered Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his male followers, they looted the tents and took the skin upon which Imam Sajjad (PBUH) was laying. It is said that Shemr was about to kill Imam Hussain (PBUH), but his aunt Lady Zaynab (PBUH) was present to make Omar Ibn Sa’ad, the Umayyad commander, let him alive. Imam Sajjad (PBUH) was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph, and eventually was allowed to return to Medina. During this journey he delivered speeches in the towns of Kufa and Damascus, and informed the people of his father’s intentions.
Several accounts are narrated concerning Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (PBUH) deep sorrow over this tragedy. It is said that for twenty years whenever food was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, “O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?” He replied, “Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom, though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?”
After tragedy of Karbala and His Imamate
They were Kufa‘s people who invited Imam Hussain (PBUH) to themselves to be their Imam, so they saw themselves responsible for the tragedy of Karbala and tried to compensate for it by throwing themselves into the struggle to obtain vengeance for Imam Hussain‘s blood. They chose Sulayman Ibn Surad al Khuzaii as their leader and called themselves Tawwabin (penitents). They were seeking for an opportunity for action, until Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi came to Kufa and soon gained the authority of a leader and took a sudden vengeance on those who were involved in killing of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Omar Ibn Sa’ad and Shemr were executed. Ibn Ziad was also killed in the battle and his head was taken to the very place in Kufa where Ibn Ziad had received the head of Imam Hussain (PBUH).
Imam Sajjad (PBUH) had been designated by his father, Imam Hussain (PBUH), as the next Imam. However, Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah (Imam Hussain’s half brother) said that he was more worthy as he was the son of Imam Ali (PBUH). But Zayn Al-Abedin (PBUH) replied to his uncle: “Fear Allah and make no such claim”. After the death of Ibn zubayr, the governor of Medina, Imam Zany Al-Abedin (PBUH) and Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah agreed to go to Mecca and appeal to Black Stone(a stone from hevean that was put in Kaba wall by the prophet Abraham) to see if they could determine which one of them was the true successor. They went to Kaba where black stone was placed. Muhammad prayed for a sign but no answer came. Afterwards Zayn al-Abedin (PBUH) prayed and this time the stone became so agitated that it nearly fell off the wall and came the answer in eloquent Arabic that he was the true Imam after Hussain (PBUH), to which decision Muhammad consented. After this settlement Imam Sajjad (PBUH) returned to Medina with his companions.
Imam Sajjad (PBUH) was held in great respect not only by his followers who considered him as the fourth Imam, but also by the learned circle of Medinan scholars who considered him as an eminent traditionist. The famous lawyer, Ibn Al-Musayyib, and the great jurist and traditionist Al-Zuhri (though attached to the court of the Umayyad), were among his admirers. Perhaps the most famous evidence for his high position among people is the ode that the well-known Arab poet “Farazdaq”. This ode refers to the occasion where the Caliph Hisham Ibn Abd Al-Malik was overshadowed by the respect people showed to the Imam. It was the time of Hajj when both of them were trying to reach the Black Stone through the crowd turning around the Kaba. The people gave way to Imam Sajjad (PBUH) while Hisham struggled desperately. This deeply offended the Caliph, and sarcastically asked who the person had been to whom the people had shown such respect. Farazdaq, who was present there, thereupon composed an ode addressing Hisham’s question; an ode which is a masterpiece of Arabic literature; and that must be considered as the most reliable contemporary document describing Imam Sajjad (PBUH).
It is related to the Imam that when he saw a beggar weeping, said: “If the world was in the hand of this person and then it dropped from it, he had not to weep for it”. The Imam renounced worldly pleasures, but at the same time he did not give way to poverty and feebleness, rather he was “pious with what Allah prohibited.” However, As the Imam was self-denying and turned away from the world, the Sufis considered him as one of their kind and wrote biographies about him. However the Imam led a life different from that of the Sufis as his asceticism was internal and psychological and internal rather than otherwise. It is narrated from the Imam that while circumambulating the Kaba, he heard a man asking Allah for patience, so he turned to him and said: “You are asking (Allah) for tribulation. Say: O Allah, I ask you for well-being and gratitude for it.” It is also related that a person questioned the Imam about asceticism, he replied: “Asceticism is often degrees: The highest degree of asceticism is the lowest degree of piety. The highest degree of piety is the lowest degree of certainty. The highest degree of certainty is the lowest degree of satisfaction”. As for Imam Ridha (PBUH), the eighth Shia Imam, when he was appointed a successor to Al-Ma’mun, a Sufi objected him: “The Imam should eat rough food and wear coarse garments.” The Imam refuted his view, saying: “Yousif Ibn Ya‘qub (Joseph, son of Jacob) was a prophet; nevertheless he wore silk-like garments embroidered with gold. Allah did not prohibit clothing nor did he prohibit food. However, He wanted the Imam to be fair and just.” Then he recited this verse: “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment which He has brought forth for His creatures.”
The “Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya” is the oldest prayer manual in Islamic sources. Shia traditions esteem/considers this book with great respect, ranking it behind only the Quran and Imam Ali’s Nahj Al-Balagha. This prayer book deals not only with Islamic spirituality, but also provides teachings on different levels, from the theological to the social. The Imam also refers frequently to the domain of Islamic practices emphasizing the necessity of following Quran and the Hadith‘s guidelines and the necessity of establishing justice in society.
The Fifteen Whispered Prayers
The Fifteen Whispered Prayers also known as The Fifteen “Munajat”, is a collection of fifteen prayers attributed to Imam Sajjad (PBUH) which some researchers regard it as a supplementary part of the latter collection. These Prayers enable a person to recite the prayer which is in most accordance with his present mood and feeling. The prayers start with ‘repentance’, as repentance is the first step towards a genuine communion with Allah.
Supplication of Abu Hamza Al-Thumali
Abu Hamza Al-Thumali has related that during the month of Ramadan, Imam Zayn Al-Abidin (PBUH) used to spend a greater part of the night in prayers and when it used to be the time of beginning of the fast he recited a supplication which later known as “Du’a Abi Hamzah Al-Thumali” (The supplication of Abi Hamzah al-Thumali). This supplication has been recorded in the book Misbah Al-Mutahijjid of Shaykh Tusi.
Treatise on Rights
Imam Zain Al-Abidin’s “Risalah Al-Huquq “(Treatise on Rights) is written by him besides supplications or relatively short sayings and letters. Huquq (Arabic: حقوق) is plural of “Haq” (Arabic: حق) and is best translated as “rights”. However, other words such as justice, truth, obligations, duties, responsibilities have meanings closely related to Haq. This treatise is especially important for the manner in which it deals with many of the same themes as the Al-Sahifa in a different style and language. As the Imam makes eminently clear in this book, a hierarchy of priorities must always be observed: The individual comes before the social, the spiritual before the practical, and knowledge before action. Each human being has a long series of social duties, but these depend upon his more essential duties, which are first, faith in Allah, and second, placing one’s own person into the proper relationship with the Divine Reality.
The introduction section describes the rights briefly and begins with the following paragraph:
“Know -Allah have mercy upon you – that Allah has rights incumbent upon you and that these encompass you in every motion through which you move, every rest which you take, every way station in which you reside, every limb which you employ, and every instrument which you use. Some of these rights are greater than others. And the greatest of Allah’s rights incumbent upon you is what He has made incumbent upon you for Himself – the Blessed and the Exalted – from His rights: that which is the root of all rights from which others branch out. Then there are those that He has made incumbent upon you in yourself, from your crown to your foot, according to the diversity of your organs.”
(To see more and download the book, refer to “Islamic books for download”)
Conclusion by Imam Sajjad (PBUH)
At the end of the treatise, there are the conclusion comments of Imam Sajjad (PBUH) as follows:
“These are the fifty rights that surround you and you cannot evade under any circumstances. It is incumbent upon you to observe them and exert all efforts to fulfill them. You should seek Allah the Majestic’s help in this respect. And there is no power or strength but in Allah. And all praise is due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.”
Imam Sajjad (PBUH) was the only son of Imam Hussain (PBUH) who survived the Battle of Karbala in 680 when he was twenty three years old. For, he could not take part in the battle due to his illness, and was thus saved from the general massacre. Once again when he was led as a prisoner before Obayd Allah Ibn Ziyad in Kufa, the latter ordered his execution but left him alive at the entreaty of his aunt, Lady Zaynab (PBUH). Later on, however, he was poisoned by Umayyad ruler Walid through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham Ibn Abd Al-Malik in Medina. He was buried next to his uncle, Imam Hassan (PBUH), in the cemetery of Al-Baqi in Medina. After his Martyrdom many people found out that their livelihood had come from him. He would go out with a sack of food on his back, knocking at the doors of more than 100 families, and gave freely to whoever answered while covering his face in order not to be recognized.
Imam Baqir (PBUH)
Imam Muḥammad Al-Baqir (Arabic: محمد الباقر ) also called Abu Ja’far was Known as Baqir (the one who splits open knowledge). He is the fifth Shia Imam after his father Imam Sajjad (PBUH). His mother was the daughter of Imam Hassan (PBUH). Thus, he was the only Imam who was connected with Lady Fatimah (PBUH), both from his paternal and maternal sides. Imam Baqir (PBUH) was brought up in the holy lap of his grandfather Imam Hussain (PBUH), for three years. Many traditions and abundant knowledge were reported on his authority. He is revered by Shia Muslims for his religious leadership and highly respected by Sunni Muslims for his knowledge and Islamic scholarship as a leading jurist of Medina.
He was born about 56/676 in Medina, around the time when Muawiyah was trying to secure the oath of allegiance for his son and future successor Yazid. While he was still a child, his family was afflicted by the Battle of Karbala and he is said to have been three or four years old on the day his grandfather, Imam Hussain (PBUH), was killed. According to Ya’qubi, Imam Baqir (PBUH) was actually present at Karbala. As a young man he witnessed the struggle for power involving the Umayyad, Abd Allah Ibn Al-Zubayr (عبدااله ابن زبیر) and the various Shia groups, while at the same time he saw his father remaining aloof from all political activity.
Imam Baqir (PBUH) is a shortened form of Baqir Al-Oloum, (He who split open knowledge). Imam Baqir (PBUH) is said to have been highly esteemed for his learning. According to Ibn Khallikan, he received the appellation “Baqir” (the Ample) because he collected an ample fund of knowledge but Ya’qubi says that he was called Baqir because he split open knowledge, that is, he scrutinized it, and examined into the depths of it. For the Shia in general, Baqir Al- Oloum was no ordinary title, for it was, in their view, given by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to an account recorded in al-Kulayni, Jabir Ibn Abd Allah, the oldest surviving companion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), would sit in the mosque wearing a black turban and call out: “Ya Baqir Al- Oloum, Ya Baqir Al- Oloum.” People in Medina thought that Jabir was talking nonsense, but he reassured them that he was acting in this way because he had heard the Prophet say: “O Jabir! You will meet a man from my family who will have the same name and the same characteristics as mine. He will split open knowledge extensively”. On the question of how Jabir met Imam Baqir (PBUH), al-Kulayni reports that one day while Al-Jabir was walking in the streets of Medina, he came across the Quran School which Imam Baqir attended as a child. When Jabir saw the Imam, he asked him to come near, which the child did, then to withdraw, which Imam Baqir also did. At this point Jabir explained: “Characteristics of the Messenger of Allah; by Him in whose hands is my soul, O boy, what is your name”. When Imam Baqir (PBUH) replied that he was Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (PBUH), Jabir approached him, kissed his head and swore by his father and mother that the Prophet (PBUH) had recited greeting upon him.
A famous scholar belonging to the Sunni School says: “Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (PBUH) has disclosed the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and unfolded the principles of spiritual and religious guidance. Nobody can deny his exalted character, his Allah-given knowledge, his divinely-gifted wisdom and his obligation and gratitude towards spreading of knowledge. He was a sacred and highly talented spiritual leader and for this reason he was popularly titled “Baqir” which means “the expander of knowledge”. Kind of heart, spotless in character, sacred by soul and noble by nature, the Imam devoted all his time in submission to Allah (and in advocating the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his descendants). It is beyond the power of a man to count the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithful. His sayings in devotion and abstinence, in knowledge and wisdom, and in religious exercise and submission to Allah are so great in number that the volume of this book is quite in- sufficient to cover them all.” (as-Sawa’iqu ‘I-muhriqah, p. 120)
The Holy Imam managed to collect the teachings and reforms of the Prophet and his Ahl Al-Bayt in the form of books. His pupils compiled books on different branches of science and arts under his instructions and guidance. In the excellence of his personal purity and godly traits, Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (PBUH) was a model of the Holy Prophet and his great grandfather, Imam Ali (PBUH). His admonitions created a spiritual sensation among the Muslims in general. He was not only hospitable even to his worst enemies but also used to continually exhort them to the right path. He urged people to earn their livelihood by their own hard work. The Imam gave much importance to convening majalis (meetings) in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (PBUH).
During the Imamate of the fifth Imam, as a result of the injustice of the Umayyad, revolts and wars broke out in some corner of the Islamic world every day. Moreover, there were disputes within the Umayyad family itself which kept the caliphate busy and to a certain extent left the members of the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Ahl Al-Bayt, alone. From the other side, the Battle of Karbala and the oppression suffered by the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH), of which Imam Sajjad (PBUH) was the most noteworthy embodiment, had attracted many Muslims to the Imams. These factors combined to make it possible for people and especially the Shia to go in great numbers to Medina and to come into the presence of the fifth Imam. Possibilities for disseminating Islam, which had never existed for the Imams before him, were presented to the fifth Imam, as shown by numerous traditions recounted from the fifth Imam and the large number of scholars who were trained by him.
After martyrdom of Imam Sajjad (PBUH) the majority of the Shia accepted as Imam, his son, Muhammad Al-Baqir (PBUH), while a minority followed Zayd ibn Ali, another son of Imam Sajjad (PBUH), and became known as Zaydis. According to Ibn Khallikan, Zaid, the brother of Imam Baqir (PBUH) came forward in his own behalf and summoned the people to espouse his cause. Al-Masudi, however, says that he consulted with his brother, Imam Baqir, who warned him not to put any reliance on the people of Kufa, with details of how they had treated Ahl Al-Bayt formerly. Zaid, however, did not heed his brother’s warning but led the people of Kufa in a vain rebellion. Shahrastani mentions that a disagreement had arisen between Zaid and his brother Muhammad Al-Baqir because Zaid had been following the teaching of the Mu’tazilite, Wasil Ibn Ata. He had also asserted that the status of an Imam was conditional upon his appearing publicly to claim his rights. And in answer, Imam Baqir (PBUH) said to Zaid, “Your faith then is merely in your father, as such, for according to your theory he was not an Imam, for he certainly never came forth to assert his claims.”
“Ma’athiru’l-Baqir” is a book in which the Imam discoursed fully on many topics, such as the nature of the soul of man, the qualities of the Ulama (the learned) and the nature and attributes of Allah. He discouraged arguments about the divine nature, and that it was not possible for men to understand it. To illustrate, one day a man asked him: “Should I think of anything (to understand Allah)?” The Imam replied: “Yes, but you have to imagine a thing which the mind cannot contain and which is without limit. He is unlike whatever comes into your mind. Nothing resembles Him nor can any thought reach Him. How can He be perceived when He is totally different from whatever is conceived and is the reverse of whatever is imagined? Certainly, the thing which cannot be encompassed by the mind and which is without limits is that which should be imagined.” It is among his saying that: “Talk about the creation of Allah, but do not talk about Allah Himself, for that increases the owner of the talk nothing except perplexity.” He defined a Messenger as a prophet who hears the voice of the angel (of revelation) and sees the angel in a bodily form or in a dream; Prophet, he said, is a prophet who also hears the voice of the angel under the same conditions, but does not see him; and ‘the Imam‘s condition is like that of the Prophet and not like that of the Messenger. He said that the Imams were pure and that the men of the House were free from the sin; that all the world was under their rule, that through them the eye of Allah mercy falls on men; and that, if they did not exist, men would perish, and that they should not fear though worthless fellows might deny all this. The Imam was frequently called upon to explain particular teachings in regard to the Imamate, which is also explained in Ma’athiru’l-Baqir, a synopsis of which is given in Canon Sell‘s Asna Ashari or The Twelver Shia Imams.
Umm Al-Kitab or The Archetype of the Book is in the form of a conversation between Imam Baqir (PBUH) and three of his followers. From the start it is clearly reminiscent of the Gospel of the Infancy, already making it evident how Imamology is homologous to Gnostic Christology. Among principal motifs of this book is the mystical science of letters. The central idea in the work is the psychological and philosophical interpretation of cosmological symbols, and the faithful are asked to engage themselves in acts of inner purification and transformation. Throughout the work, the theology of light pervades every doctrine. An extraordinary number of colors are displayed to symbolize different theories and the corresponding levels of consciousness that man must realize within himself.
“Tafsir Al-Baqir” (Imam Baqir’s interpretation) or “Tafsir Abul Jaroud” is Al-Baqir’s exegesis of the holy Quran. Ibn Al-Nadim mentioned this book in his book “Kitab Al-Fihrist” when he mentioned the books written on the exegesis of the Quran. He says Abul Jaroud Ziyad Ibn Abi Ziyad, the head of the Jarudiyya, reported the book of Imam Baqir (PBUH). According to Sayid Hassan Al-Sadr a group of the reliable Shia, reported the book from him (Abul Jaroud) from the days of his righteousness, among them was Abu Basïr Yahya Ibn Al-Qasim al-Asadi. Ali Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Hashim Al-Qummi has also mentioned it in his book Al-Tafsir on the authority of Abu Basir.
There is uncertainty, however, about the cause as well as the time of the martyrdom of Imam Baqir (PBUH). Some say that he was poisoned by Ibrahim Ibn Walid Ibn Abdollah, nephew of Hisham, the Umayyad caliph. But according to the ordinary account, another Zaid, his cousin, the son of Imam Hassan (PBUH), quarreled with the Imam over the question of his inheritance, but agreed that they should go to the judge. When the judge gave his decision in favor of the Imam, Zaid carried the case to the Caliph Hisham. Influenced by Zaid’s false accusations, Hisham sent a present of gold to the Governor of Medina, with instructions that he should secure the Imam’s inheritance, or the documents involved, and send the same to him. Apparently the Imam was ready for such an emergency, however, for he gave the Governor a box that contained spurious documents. These were sent to the Caliph, but when they were shown to Zaid he recognized that they were not genuine. According to the Shia narrations, the Caliph gave Zaid a saddle that had been treated with poison, and Zaid managed matters so that this saddle was given to the Imam, who used it and martyred from the effects of the poison. He was laid to rest underneath the same dome in the cemetery of Baqi where Imam Hassan (PBUH) and Imam Sajjad (PBUH) were buried.
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH)
Imam Ja’far Ibn Muḥammad Al-Ṣadiq (Arabic: جعفر بن محمد الصادق) (PBUH) was a descendant of Imam Ali (PBUH) from his father’s side and a descendant of Lady Fatimah (PBUH) from his mother’s side and was himself a prominent Muslim jurist. He is revered as an imam by the adherents of Shia and as a renowned Islamic scholar and personality by Sunni Muslims. The Shia Muslims consider him to be the Sixth Imam or leader and spiritual successor to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was celebrated among his brothers and peers and stood out among them for his great personal merits. He is highly respected by both Sunni and Shia Muslims for his great Islamic scholarship, pious character, and academic contributions.
Shia Islamic “Fiq’h”, “Ja’fari” jurisprudence is named after him. The books on Ja’fari jurisprudence were later written by Muhammad Ibn Ya’qub Al-Kulayni (864- 941), Ibn Babawayh (923-991), and Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi (1201-1274).
He was a polymath: an astronomer, imam, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, writer, philosopher, physician, physicist and scientist. He is also reported to be the teacher of the famous chemist, Jabir Ibn Hayyan (Geber).
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) was born in Medina on 24 April 702 AD (17 Rabi’ al-Awwal, 83AH), to Imam Baqir (PBUH) and Umm Farwah (daughter of Al-Qasim son of Muhammad, whose biological father was Abu Bakr, but was adopted and raised by the family of Imam Ali (PBUH))
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq has three titles; they are Al-Sadiq, Al-Fadil, and Al-Tahir
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was 34 years old when his father was poisoned, upon which, according to Shia tradition, he inherited the position of Imam.
As a child, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) studied under his grandfather, Imam Sajjad (PBUH). After his grandfather’s martyrdom, he studied under and accompanied his father, Imam Baqir (PBUH), until Imam Baqir martyred.
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) became well versed in Islamic sciences, including Quran and Hadith. In addition to his knowledge of Islamic sciences, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was also an adept in natural sciences, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, anatomy, alchemy and other subjects.
The foremost Islamic alchemist, Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber, was Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq’s most prominent student. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was known for his liberal views on learning, and was keen to have discourse with Scholars of other views. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (PBUH) himself, published several books, most notably Islamic Law: According to Ja`fari School of Jurisprudence
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) is also cited in a wide range of historical sources, including Al-Tabari, Al-Yaqubi and Al-Masudi. Al-Dhahabi recognizes his contribution to Sunni tradition and Isma’ili scholars such as Qadi Al-Nu’man recorded his traditions in their work.
Marriage and offspring
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq married Fatimah bint Hassan, a descendant of Imam Hassan (PBUH), with whom he had sons, Isma’il Ibn Jafar (the Ismaili Imām-designate) and Abdullah al-Aftah.
Following his wife’s death, Imam Sadiq purchased a slave named Hamidah Khatoun (Arabic: حميدة خاتون), freed her, trained her as an Islamic scholar, and then married her. She bore Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH) (the seventh Shia Imam) and Muhammad al-Dibaj and was revered by the Shia, especially by women, for her wisdom. She was known as Hamidah the Pure. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH) used to send women to learn the tenets of Islam from her, and used to remark about her, “Hamidah is pure from every impurity like the ingot of pure gold.”
Under the Umayyad rulers
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq lived in violent times. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was considered by many Shia to be the sixth Shia imam, however, the Shias were considered heretics and rebels by the Umayyad caliphs. Many of Imam Sadiq’s relatives had died at the hands of the Umayyad. Many of his kinsmen, including his uncle, were killed, and others were punished by the Umayyad caliph. There were other rebellions during these last years of the Umayyad, before the Abbasids succeeded in grasping the caliphate and establishing the Abbasid dynasty in 750 CE, when Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) was 48 years old.
Imam Baqir (PBUH) and his son, Imam Sadiq (PBUH), explicitly rejected the idea of armed rebellion. Many rebel factions tried to convince Imam Sadiq to support their claims. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) evaded their requests without explicitly advancing his own claims. Sadiq (PBUH) declared that even though he, as the designated Imam, was the true leader of the Ummah (Muslims), he would not press his claim to the caliphate. He is said to burned their letters (letters promising him the caliphate) commenting, “This man is not from me and cannot give me what is in the province of Allah“. Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq’s prudent silence on his true views is said to have established “Taqiya” as a Shia doctrine. Taqiya says that it is acceptable to hide one’s true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger.
Under the Abbasid rulers
The new Abbasid rulers, who had risen to power on the basis of their claim to descent from Prophet Muhammad’s uncle ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, were extremely suspicious of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), whom many considered to have a better claim to the caliphate. Many followers of Zayd Ibn Ali were ready to listen to Imam Sadiq after being prosecuted ruthlessly by the Abbasids. Imam Sadiq was watched closely and, occasionally, imprisoned to cut his ties with his followers, he endured the persecution patiently and continued his study and writing wherever he found himself.
The downfall of the Umayyad and the rise of the ‘Abbasids constituted the two principal plots in the drama of Islamic history. This was a most chaotic and revolutionary period when the religious morals of Islam had gone down and the teachings of the Holy Prophet were being neglected, and a state of anarchy was rampant. It was amidst such deadly gloom that the virtuous personage of Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq stood like a beacon of light shedding its luster to illuminate the ocean of sinful darkness around. The world got inclined towards his virtuous and admirable personality. Abu Salamah al-Khallal also offered him the throne of the caliphate. But the Imam keeping up the characteristic tradition of his ancestors flatly declined to accept it, and preferred to content himself with his devotional pursuits and service to Islam. On account of his many debates with the priests of rival orders like Atheists, Christians, Jews, etc.
The versatile genius of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH) in all branches of knowledge was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world, which attracted students from far-off places towards him till the strength of his disciples had reached four thousand. The scholars and experts in Divine Law have quoted many Hadith from Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH). His disciples compiled hundred of books on various branches of science and arts. Other than “Fiq’h” (Islamic jurisprudence), Hadith, tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Qur’an), etc. the Holy Imam also imparted mathematics and chemistry to some of his disciples. Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber), a famous scholar of mathematics, was one of the Imam’s disciples who benefited from the Imam’s knowledge and guidance and was able to write four hundred books on different subjects.
It is an undeniable historical truth that all the great scholars of Islam were indebted for their learning to the very presence of the Ahl Al-Bayt who were the fountain of knowledge and learning for all. Allamah Ash-shibli writes in his book Siratu’n- Nu’man: “Abu Hanifah remained for a considerable period in the attendance of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, acquiring from him a great deal of precious research on Fiq’h and Hadith. Both the sects – Shia and Sunni – believe that the source of Abu Hanifah’s knowledge was mostly derived from his association with Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq.” The Imam devoted his whole life to the cause of religious preaching and propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet and never strove for power. Because of his great knowledge and fine teaching, the people gathered around him, giving devotion and respect that was his due. This excited the envy of the ‘Abbasid ruler al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi who fearing the popularity of the Imam, decided to do away with him.
Scholars believed to have learned extensively from Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH):
Jābir ibn Hayyān : known in Europe as Geber, a great alchemist.
Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) : his son, the seventh Shia Imam
Isma’il Ibn Jafar : his son, the sixth Ismaili Imam according to the Ismailis.
Ali al-Uraidhi Ibn Ja’far al-Sadiq: his youngest son.
Mufadhal Ibn Amr : his Gate keeper and a prominent student.
Abū Ḥanīfa : founder of Sunni Hanafi school of thought.
Malik ibn Anas : founder of the Sunni Maliki school of thought.
On 25th Shawwal 148 AH, the governor of Medina by the order of al-Mansur, got the Imam martyred through poison. The funeral prayer was conducted by his son Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), the Seventh Imam, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannat Al-Baqi.
Imam Sadiq, peace Be Upon Him, said:
“One who has these five characteristics is the choicest of men: one who feels joyous when he does something good; one who repents when he does something bad; one who is grateful when he receives something from Allah; one who patiently endures Allah’s trials; one who forgives when he is done some injustice or wrong.
closer to Allah: forgiving one who has wronged him; being generous to one who had deprived him; being kind to a kinsman who has not observed his rights of kinship.”
“The true believer does not transgress the limits of fairness in a fit of anger; he does not do anything unjustifiable for the sake of favor to some; neither does he take more than his due share, though he may have the power.”
Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH)
Musa Ibn Ja‘far Al-Kadhim (Arabic: موسى بن جعفر الكاظم), also called Abul Hassan, Abu Abd Allah, and Abu Ibrahim is known for his nickname Al-Kadhim (the forbearing), Generosity was synonymous with his name and no beggar ever returned from his door empty handed. Even after his martyrdom, he continued to be obliging and was generous to his devotees who came to his holy tomb with prayers and behests which were invariably granted by Allah. Thus, one of his additional titles is also “Bab Al-Hawaij” (the door to fulfilling needs).he is the seventh Shia Imam after his father Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH). He is regarded by Sunnis as a renowned scholar and was contemporary with the Abbasid caliphs, Al-Mansur, Al-Hadi, Al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. He lived in very difficult times, in hiding, until he finally martyred in Baghdad in the Sindi Ibn Shahak prison through poisoning. Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), the eighth Imam, and Lady Fatimah Masumah (PBUH) were among his children.
Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH) was born during the struggle between the Umayyad and the Abbasids, and had only four years when As-Saffah the first Abbasid Caliph came to the throne. His mother, Lady Hamidah, was originally a slave who was bought by his father, Imam Sadigh (PBUH), and was learnt and trained by him. With six brothers and nine sisters Musa (PBUH) grew up in a large family. Ismail, his oldest brother died at a young age and Musa was chosen by Divine providence to succeed his father as the Imam. He passed twenty years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his holy father. His inherent genius and gifted virtues combined with the enlightened guidance and education from the Holy Imam Sadiq (PBUH), showed in the manifestation of his future personality. He was fully versed with the Divine Knowledge even in his childhood. Muhammad Baqir Majlisi relates that once Abu Hanifa happened to call upon the house of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) for some religious question. While he was waiting at the Imam’s door to get permission to enter, his son Musa who was then five years old came across him. When Abu Hanifa knew he was Imam sadiq‘s son, asked him about the question he had prepared for Imam Sadiq (PBUH), he said: ” Boy, from whom does disobedience (issue)? Does it issue from Allah or from the servant?” Musa answered him: “Either it issues from Allah and not from the servant at all, so Allah does not punish the servant for what he does not do; or it issues from the servant and Allah, and Allah is a stronger partner. Therefore, the stronger partner has no right to punish the weak for a sin in which they are equal; or it issues form the servant and not from Allah. So If He wills to pardon (him), (He will pardon him), and If He wills to punish (him), (He will punish him); and Allah is He whose help is sought.” It said that, upon hearing this answer, Abu Hanifa got up to return home saying that the answer was good enough for him.
The history of the Shia Imams generally demonstrates their constant struggle against oppression, which sometimes included practicing Taqiya (it is acceptable to hide one’s true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger). Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the despotic ‘Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel administration. As for Imam al-Kadhim, when his father, the sixth Imam, was poisoned, Mansur further wanted to put an end to the whole question of imamate so he wrote to the governor of Medina commanding him to go to the house of the deceased Imam on the pretext of expressing condolences to the family, and to ask for the Imam’s testament and read it. Whoever was chosen by the Imam as his successor should be beheaded. Reading the testament, however, the governor of Medina saw that the Imam had chosen four people rather than one: the caliph himself, the governor of Medina, Abdullah al-Aftah (the Imam’s older son), and Musa Kadhim, his younger son. Accordingly the plot of Mansur failed. Nevertheless, unlike his father who lived in a favorable climate in which he was able to teach openly in Medina, Imam Musa al-kadhim (PBUH) lived with severe restriction placed upon him by such Abbasid caliphs as al-Mansur and Harun al-Rashid. The period of his Imamate continued for thirty-five years.
After the martyrdom of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), the sixth Imam, the majority of Shia followed his son Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) while another group, followed Isma’il, the older son of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), who had died while his father was still alive. This latter group separated afterwards from the majority of Shia and became known as Ismailis. Others accepted as Imam either Abdullah al-Aftah or Muhammad, both sons of the Imam Sadiq (PBUH). Finally, another party stopped with the sixth Imam himself and considered him as the last Imam. After the martyrdom of Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH), Shia Muslims followed his son, Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), while some stopped with the seventh Imam and became known as the Waqifiyah. Just real Shia Muslims also consider from the eighth Imam to the twelfth Imam, who is the last one and the promised, Mahdi (PBUH).
Harun al-Rashid, the opponent of the Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH), has admitted that Imam Kadhim had talents and remarkable deeds, and that he was more entitled to the Caliphate than other than him. He declared that when his son al-Ma’mun asked him about the reason why he admired and magnified him, said to him: “My little son, this is the Imam of the people, the Proof of Allah’s mercy to His creation and His caliph among His servants. I am outwardly the Imam of the masses by force and through oppression, while Musa Ibn Ja’far is the Imam in truth. And surely he, by Allah, is more worthy of being the successor of the Messenger of Allah as the caliph than I am and anyone else among all the people. And by Allah, if you yourself attempt to take such caliphate from me, I shall take it away from you even if that means gouging your eyes, for power is blind.” He has added: “O my little son, this is the inheritor of the knowledge of the Prophets; this is Musa Ibn Ja’far. If you desire sound knowledge, you will find it with this.”
Hisham Ibn Salim, a Shia master related about how he and his companions resorted to Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH) after the martyrdom of his father, he said:
“I (i.e. Hisham Ibn Salim) and Muhammed Ibn Nu’man (known as) Sahib al-Taq were in Medina after the martyrdom of Imam Sadiq (PBUH). The people had agreed that Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far was the leader of the affair and the one who would undertake the office of the Imamate after his father. My companions and I came in to him. When we sat down, we asked him the following questions:
– How much poor-tax (zakat) should be paid on two hundred dirhams?
– Five dirhams.
– How much on a hundred dirhams?
– Two and a half dirhams.
They were astonished at this religious decision that has no relationship with the Islamic Law. That is because the minimum amount of dirhams (Arabic currency) is two hundred dirhams; and there is nothing on that which is less than it. Hisham sneered at this religious verdict that has no concept:
– By Allah, you are declaring the doctrine of the Murji’ah.
– By Allah, I do not know the doctrine of the Murji’ah.
Hisham and Muhammed left him while they could not see the way out of pain and sadness, for they did not come to know the Imam who would undertake the office of the Imamate after Abu Abd Allah (Imam Sadiq). Then Hisham said: “(Shall I go) to the Murji’ites, the Qadarities, the Mu’tazilites, to the Zaydites, to the Kharijites?” While Hisham and Muhammed were roaming in a current of suspicions and thoughts and were reflecting on a doctrine to follow, they saw an old man indicating with his hand to Hisham to follow him. Hisham thought that the old man was among the spies of al-Mansur and could understand their speech. He fearfully turned to his companion and ordered him to go away from him, that only he might be punished. He followed the old man, and he took him to Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (PBUH). When he came in to him, he became tranquil. When he sat down, the Imam turned to him and said to him with kindness and affection: “To me, not to the Murji’ites, nor to the Qadarities, nor to the Mu’tazilites, nor to the Zaydites….” Hisham became happy, for he found his objective when the Imam told him about what he had in his inner self. This is one of the marks and signs of the Imamate. Then Hisham asked him the following question:
– May I be your ransom (i.e. your life is more valuable than mine), Has your father really gone?
– Whom shall we follow after him?
– If Allah wills, He will guide you to that man.
– May I be your ransom, your brother Abd Allah claims that he is the Imam after his father.
– Abd Allah intends that Allah should not be worshipped (properly).
– Who is in charge of us after him?
He answered him with an answer similar to his first one, and Hisham asked him:
– Are you him?
– I am not saying that.
Hisham made a mistake in his speech, and he corrected his mistake, he said:
– Do you have an Imam over you?
– May I be your ransom, May I question you like I used to question your father.
– Question. You will be informed but do not spread (the answer) around. For if you do spread it around, then slaughtering (killing the Imam) will take place.
Then he asked him many questions, to the extent that he came to know that the Imam was a sea of knowledge which could not be exhausted out of his abundant knowledge and merit. After he had come to know him and being sure of his Imamate, he asked him:
– May I be your ransom, the Shia of your father is lost (without a leader). May I put this matter to them and summon them (to follow) you? For you have taken (a promise of secrecy from me).
– Tell those of them whose righteousness you are familiar with, but take (a promise of) secrecy from them. For if it gets spread around, there will be slaughtering.” And he pointed to his neck with his hand.
Arguments With Harun al-Rashid
It is said that on an occasion al-Rashid took umbrage at an apt retort from the Imam when they were together before the tomb of the Prophet in Medina. With the desire to show his own family relationship to the Prophet, Harun had said, “Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of Allah, unto thee who are my cousin!” But as he faced the tomb, the Imam said, “Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!” At this Harun was disconcerted and remarked, “Abul-Hassan, such glory as thane is truly to be vaunted of.” Later on Harun found the opportunity to question the Imam:
-Why have you permitted the non-Shia (al-a’mmah) and the Shia (al-khassah) to ascribe you to the Prophet and to call you: O Sons of Allah’s Apostle, and you are the sons of Ali, and one is ascribed to his father, and Fatimah was a container, and the Prophet is your grandfather on the side of your mother?
– If the Prophet was raised from the dead and proposed to your daughter, would you respond to him?
– Glory belongs to Allah! And why do I not respond to him? Rather I would through that pride myself on the Arabs, the non-Arabs, and Quraysh. – But he would not propose (to my daughter) and I would not marry (her) to him.
– Because he begot me and did not beget you.
– Well-done, Musa! Why have you said that you are the Prophet’s progeny, while the Prophet had no progeny, the progeny belongs to the male and not to the female, and you are his daughter’s children?
– I ask you, by the right of the kinship, to exempt me (from that). Job – No, you should tell me about your proof …I do not exempt you.
– Will you give me permission to answer?
– Give (me the answer).
– Allah has said in his book: and of his descendants, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron (PBUT); and thus do We reward those who do good. And Zachariah and John the Baptist, and Jesus and Elias: All in the company of the righteous Who is Jesus’s father, O Commander of the faithful?
– Jesus had no father.
– Allah has ascribed him to the descendants of the prophets through Lady Mary (PBUH); similarly, we have been ascribed to the descendants of the Prophet through our mother Lady Fatimah (PBUH).
Nevertheless, Harun asked Imam Musa (PBUH) to give him more evidence and proofs. So he responded to him: “Allah, the Great and Almighty, has said to the Prophet: But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come, let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars. None claims that the Prophet made someone enter under the cloak (kisa) when he challenged the Christians to a contest of prayer to Allah (Mubahala) except Imam Ali, Lady Fatimah, Imam Hassan, and Imam Hussain (PBUT). Therefore the explanation of the words of Him, the Exalted, is: Our sons are Al-Hassan and Al-Hussain; our women is Fatimah; ourselves is Ali.
Imam and Bishr al-hafi
It is been narrated the story that Bishr Al-Hafi spent his nights and days in impudence and once in the midst of the noise, liquor, music and frivolity, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was passing by his house in Baghdad. Meanwhile Imam Kadhim (PBUH) saw a slave girl coming out of his house carrying some sweepings. He turned to the slave and asked her: “Is the owner of this house free or servant?”
“He is free” she replied.
“You are right,” retorted Imam Kadhim, “if he was servant, he would fear his Lord.”
The slave girl came into the house while Bishir was at the wine table, so he asked her: “What delayed you?” She gave him an account of what took place between her and the Imam. It is said that Bishr quickly jumped to his feet and headed to the door barefooted but the pious man had already left. He left in pursuit of the man and when he finally caught up with him asked him to repeat his words and he obliged. Bishr was so taken aback by his words that he fell to the ground and began to cry. “No I am a slave, I am a slave.” From then onwards he would walk without shoes and people began calling him Bishr al-Haafi (The bare footed one). When he was asked why he did not wear shoes, he would reply “My master Allah guided me when I was barefooted and I will remain in this condition till death”.
Imam and a Monk
Al-Abbas Ibn Hilal al-Shami has narrated: “I said to Musa al-Kadhim: Men admire him who eats the simplest food, wears coarse clothes, and shows reverence.” So the Imam (PBUH) said: “Did you not know that Yousif (Joseph) was a prophet, son of a prophet? (However) he used to wear silk mantles brocaded with gold. He sat on the thrones of the Pharaohs and ruled. The people were in no need of his clothes, but they were in need of his justice. An Imam is required to be just and fair; when he says something, he says the truth; when he promises something, he fulfills his promise; when he passes a judgment, he judges equitably. Allah has not forbidden wearing a particular type of clothes or eating a particular type of food earned through a lawful way; rather He has forbidden the unlawful, little or much. And most certainly Allah has said: Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah which He has produced for His servants, and the agreeable things of the sustenance.”
Imam and Abu Hanifa
Abu Ḥanifa visited Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH), and said to him: “I have seen your son, Musa, pray while the people were passing before him. He did not prevent them from that.” Imam Sadiq (PBUH) ordered his son to be brought before him. “O My little son, Abu Hanifa says that you pray and the people pass before you.” Imam Sadiq Asked. “Yes, father,” replied Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH), “the One to Whom I pray is nearer to me than them; Allah, the Great and Almighty, says: We are nearer to him than the jugular vein.” When he heard these words of his son, he rose for him, embraced him, and said: “May my father and mother be your ransom, O he in whom secrets have been deposited!”
Imam Musa (PBUH) was called Kadhim (the forbearing) due to his immoderate pardoning those who aggressed against him. He was mild and patient in his temperament. It is narrated that once a man wronged Imam Musa (PBUH) and cursed his grandfather Imam Ali (PBUH). One of the Imam’s followers intended to kill him, but the Imam prevented him deciding to solve the problem in another way. The Imam asked some people about the man’s place and they led him to the outskirts of Medina. He found him on his farm and went towards him. The man shouted at him and said: “Do not walk on my plants!” The Imam paid no attention and when reached him, sat beside him and treated him with kindness and asked:
– How much have you paid to sow your land?
– One hundred dinars.
– How much do you hope to acquire from it?
– I do not know the unknown.
– I only asked you about what you hope it would bring you.
– I hope that it will bring me two hundred dinars.
The Imam gave him three hundred dinars and said: “these three hundred dinars is for you and your plants are as they are. Then he headed for the Mosque of the Prophet. He found the man was sitting there. When he saw the Imam walking towards him, stood up for him and called out: “Allah knows best where to put his (prophetic) mission.” His companions jumped (in surprise) towards him criticizing him for this change in his attitude. He disputed with them and recited to them the achievements and noble deeds of the Imam and invoked Allah for him. So the Imam turned to his companions and said: “Which was better, what you wanted or what I wanted? I have put right his attitude to the extent you have now become acquainted with.”
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was also called “Abd al-Salih” (the Holy Servant) In illustration of his religious rather than political interest, which was characteristic of all the Imams. He used to tie up in packets sums of two hundred, three hundred, or four hundred dinars and distribute them in the city of Medina.” His purses were proverbial, so his family said: “We wonder at him to whom Musa’s purses come while he complains of paucity and poverty.”
Moral and Ethical Excellence
As regards his morality and ethical excellence, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks: “The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was such that, he was given the title of ‘al-Kadhim’ (one who swallows down his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of Allah and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did wrong to him.” His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and help the poor and destitute people of Medina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessitates of sustenance secretly. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam’s lifetime as to whom their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his martyrdom.
Imprisonments and martyrdom
It may have been this generosity which brought him under suspicion when the, Caliph of the time, had him arrested and brought to Baghdad. But as Ibn Khallikan relates: “This Caliph had a dream in which Ali ibn Abu Talib (PBUH) appeared to him and said, ” O Muhammad, were you ready therefore, if you had been put in authority, to commit evil in the earth, and to violate the ties of blood?” Al-Fadl ibn al-Rabi’ relates in these terms what followed: “He sent for me at night and that put me in great dread. I went to him and found him chanting the above verse and no man had a finer voice than he. He said to me, “Bring me Musa Ibn Ja’far.” I did so and he embraced him, seated him by his side and said to him, “Abul-Hasan, I have just seen in a dream the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abu Talib, and he has recited to me such and such a verse; give me the assurance that you will not revolt against me or against any of my children.” He answered, ” By Allah, I am incapable of revolting.” “You say the truth!’ Replied the Caliph:”give him three thousand pieces of gold and restore him to his family in Medina.” I arranged the affair of his departure that very night, lest some obstacle might turn up, and before morning the man was on his journey.
In the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid the Imam was also repeatedly subject to suspicion and disfavor. It is said that once al-Rashid took umbrage at an apt retort from the Imam when they were together before the tomb of the Prophet in Medina. With the desire to show his own family relationship to the Prophet, Harun had said, “Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of Allah, unto thee who are my cousin!” But as he faced the tomb, the Imam said, “Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!” At this Harun was disconcerted and remarked, “Abul-Hassan, such glory as thane is truly to be vaunted of.”
This occurrence would be sufficient to explain his first summons from Harun al-Rashid to come to Baghdad. There the Imam was kept in prison, and al-Khuzai, the chief of the palace guards, has related a vision the Caliph had which led him to release the Imam: “A messenger came to me from al-Rashid,” he said, “at an hour in which I never before received his visits; he pulled me from the place where I was and would not even allow me to change my clothes. This put me in great fear. When I arrived at the palace, I found the caliph sitting up in his bed. I saluted him, but he kept silent for some time; so my mind was much troubled and my fears greatly augmented. At length he said, ‘Do you know why I sent for you at such an hour?’ I answered, ‘ By Allah, I do not, Commander of the Faithful.’ ‘Know,’ said he, ‘that I just had a dream in which it seemed to me as if an Abyssinian came to me with a javelin in his hand and said to me: “set Musa Ibn ja’far free this very hour, otherwise I shall slay thee with this javelin.” Do you, therefore go and set him free.’ I replied, ‘ Commander of the Faithful, shall I then release Musa the son of Ja’far?’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘go and set Musa Ibn Ja’far free. Give him thirty thousand dirham and say to him in my name, If you would like to remain with us you will obtain from me whatever you desire, but if you prefer going to Medina you have permission to do so.’ I went to the prison and found the Imam waiting for me saying how quickly you had come. Whilst I was asleep,” he said, “behold the Apostle of Allah came to me and said, “O Musa, thou hast been imprisoned unjustly; so recite the words I am going to repeat to thee, for assuredly thou shall not pass all this night in prison.”
As to what may have led to his final imprisonment, it is said that it is stated by al-Fakhri that “there were some of the relatives of Musa Al-Kadhim who were envious of him and carried false reports about him to al-Rashid, saying, ‘The people are paying him the Khums (Khums is one of Islamic laws, one-fifth of the property) and he is about to come forth against you.’ They brought this report to al-Rashid so frequently that it made him anxious and agitated. In 179 AH, Harun al-Rashid visited Medina. The fire of malice and jealousy against the Ahl Al-Bayt was kindled in his heart when he saw the great influence and popularity which the Holy Imam had amongst the people there. He got the Imam arrested while he was busy in prayer at the mosque of the Holy Prophet and kept him in prison in Baghdad for a period of about four years. On the 25th Rajab 183 AH, he got the Imam martyred by poison.
Al-Fakhri adds; Al-Rashid was at Rakka when he sent orders that the Imam should be put to death. They then brought a number of reputable men to Karkh to act as coroners and to testify publicly that he had died a natural death. He, then, was buried in the cemetery of Quraish on the south side of Baghdad. The place he was buried was a cemetery, but soon this place became the focus of pilgrimage on the grave of the Imam. A town grew around the grave yard. The name of the town became Kadhimiya, (the town of the Imam Kadhim (PBUH)) A reputed school of theology was founded in this town which is still a source of learning for many students from all over the world.
Selected Words of Imam Kadhim (PBUH)
– Allah has two proofs over men: outward proof and inward one. As for the outward proof, it is the messengers, the prophets, and the Imams. As for the inward proof, it is reason.
Little work from a scholar is doubly accepted; much work from the men of low desire and ignorance is refused.
Try hard that your time may be four hours: one hour is for worship Allah, one hour for the affairs of the livelihood, one hour for associating with the brothers (friends) and the reliable ones who let you know your defects and who are inwardly loyal to you, and one hour for that you are alone with yourselves (and) for non-forbidden things. Through this hour you have power over the three hours.
Tell yourselves of neither poverty nor a long lifetime, for whoever tells himself of poverty becomes miserly. Whoever tells himself of a long lifetime becomes greedy.
The generous and polite is under the protection of Allah; He does not leave him until He makes him enter the Garden. Allah sends out none as a prophet except the generous.
Misfortune is one for the patient and two for the impatient.
Silence is among the doors to wisdom; it brings about love and is a proof of all good things.
Good neighbor is not refraining from harm, but good neighbor is showing patience toward harm.
When Harun al-Rashid, threw him into the dark cells of prisons, he thanked Allah and said: “O Allah, you know that I used to ask you to give me free time to worship you. O Allah, You have done that. To you be praise.
Imam Ridha (PBUH)
Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha (Arabic: علي بن موسى الرضا) was the seventh descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the eighth one of the Twelve Imams, His given name was Ali Ibn Musa Ibn Ja’far.
On the eleventh of Dhu al-Qi’dah, 148 AH (December 29, 765 CE), a son was born in the house of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) in Medina, who took over the position of the Imamate, after his father. He was named Ali and titled al-Ridha. He was born one month after the martyrdom of his grandfather, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH). Like his father and grandfather, his education came at the hands of his father. The mother of Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) was Najmah, who was considered to be the most notable and distinguished lady in the realm of wisdom and faith. Najmah was originally from the Maghreb i.e. Northwest Africa. She was purchased and freed by Hamidah Khatun, wife of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), and like Hamidah was also a notable Islamic scholar.
Right from his childhood, Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) accompanied his father, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), who repeatedly used to tell his friends, “Ali al-Ridha shall be the Imam after me.” As such, Makhzumi says one day Imam Musa al-Kadhim summoned and gathered us and said, “I invited you to be witnesses that this child (Ali al-Ridha) is my executor and successor.”
Yazid Ibn Salit says: “We were moving toward Mecca to perform the Hajj Umrah and we met Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) in the way. I asked him to inform us about his successor. Imam Musa al-Kadhim explained that the Imamate is a divine issue and the Imam is designated by Allah and his prophet, Muhammad (PBUH). Then he said that my son, Ali, whose name is the same as the First and the forth Imam, is the Imam after me. Since an extreme choking atmosphere and pressure prevailed in the period of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), he added, “What I said must remain (restricted) up to you and do not reproduce it to anybody unless you know he is one of our friends and companions.”
According to Ali Ibn Yaqtin, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) said:
“Ali is the best of my children and I have conferred on him my epithet.”
Imam Musa al-Kadhim was poisoned while he was still in prison and martyred and on the same day Imam Ridha (PBUH) was declared as the Eighth Imam of the Muslim world. Imam Ridha (PBUH) had the great task with the correct interpretation of the Holy Qur’an; especially under the most unfavorable circumstances prevailing under the government of Harun al-Rashid. Many belonging to the faith were imprisoned and those who were free and could not be jailed faced untold atrocities and sufferings.
Imam Ridha (PBUH), of course, stamped his impression upon his age by carrying on the mission of the Great Prophet in a peaceful manner even during the most chaotic periods, and it was mostly due to his efforts that the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his descendants became widespread. Imam Ridha had inherited great qualities of head and heart from his ancestors. He was a versatile person and had full command over many languages. Ibnu ‘l-Athir al-Jazari penned very rightly that Imam Ridha (PBUH) was undoubtedly the greatest sage, saint and scholar of the second century (AH). Once, on his way to Khurasan, when he (the Imam) was brought by force by the guards of al-Ma’mun from Medina, he arrived on horseback at Nayshabur.
Myriads of people gathered round him and all roads were over crowded as they had come to meet and see their great Imam. Abu Dhar’ah al-Razi and Muhammad Ibn Aslam al-Tusi, the two great scholars of the day, stepped out of the crowd and begged the Imam to halt there for a moment so that the faithful may be able to hear his voice. They also requested the Imam to address the gathering. The Imam granted the request and in his brief address told the mammoth gathering the real interpretation of “La Ilaha Illa Allah” (there is no God except Allah). Quoting Allah, he continued to say that the “kalimah” is the fortress of Allah and whoever entered the fortress saved himself from His wrath. He paused for a moment and continued that there were also a few conditions to entitle the entrance to the fortress and the greatest of all conditions was sincere and complete submission to the Imam of the day; and very boldly and frankly explained to the people that any disloyalty to the Prophet and his descendants would withdraw the right of the entrance to the fortress.
The only way to earn Almighty Allah’s pleasure was to obey the Prophet and his progeny and that was the only path to salvation and immortality. The above-mentioned incident speaks clearly of the great popularity of Imam Ridha (PBUH), and the love, loyalty and respect the Muslims gave their beloved Imam. al-Ma’mun, the king, was conscious of the fact that he would not survive for long if he also did not express his loyalty to the great leader and his intelligence department had made it clear to him that the Iranian people were truly and sincerely loyal to the Imam and he could only win them over if he also pretended to give respect and sympathetic consideration to Imam Ridha (PBUH). Al-Ma’mun was a very shrewd person. He made a plan to invite Imam Ridha (PBUH) and to offer him the heir ship to the throne. The Imam was summoned by a royal decree and was compelled, under the circumstances, to leave Medina – where he was living a quiet life – and present himself at the royal court of al-Ma’mun.
On his arrival, al-Ma’mun showed him hospitality and great respect, and then he said to him: “I want to get rid of myself of the caliphate and vest the office in you.” But Imam Ridha (PBUH) refused his offer. Then al-Ma’mun repeated his offer in a letter saying: “If you refuse what I have offered you, then you must accept being the heir after me.” But again Imam Ridha (PBUH) refused his offer vigorously. Al-Ma’mun summoned him. He was alone with al-Fadl Ibn Sahl, the man with two offices (i.e., military and civil). There was no one else in their gathering. Al-Ma’mun said to Imam Ridha, “I thought it appropriate to invest authority over the Muslims in you and to relieve myself of the responsibility by giving it to you.” When again Imam Ridha (PBUH) refused to accept his offer, al-Ma’mun spoke to him as if threatening him for his refusal. In his speech he said, “Omar Ibn Khattab made a committee of consultation (shura) (to appoint a successor). Among them was your forefather, the Commander of the faithful, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. (Omar) stipulated that any of them who opposed the decision should be executed. So there is no escape for you from accepting what I want from you.
“I will ignore your rejection of it.” In reply ,Imam Ridha said: “I will agree to what you want of me as far as succession is concerned on condition that I do not command, nor order, nor give legal decisions, nor judge, nor appoint, nor dismiss, nor change anything from how it is at present.” al-Ma’mun accepted all of that. On the day when al-Ma’mun ordered to make the pledge of allegiance to Imam Ridha (PBUH), one of the close associates of Imam, who was present, narrates, “On that day I was in front of him. He looked at me while I was feeling happy about what had happened. He signaled me to come closer. I went closer to him and he said so that no one else could hear, ‘Do not occupy your heart with this matter and do not be happy about it. It is something which will not be achieved.’” Quoting al-‘Allamah ash-Shibli from his book al-Ma’mun, we get a very clear picture of how al-Ma’mun decided to offer his leadership to Imam Ridha (PBUH). Imam Ridha was the Eighth Imam and al-Ma’mun could not help holding him in great esteem because of the Imam’s piety, wisdom, knowledge, modesty, decorum and personality.
Therefore, he decided to nominate him the rightful heir to the throne. Earlier in 200 AH he had summoned the Abbasids. Thirty-three thousand ‘Abbasids responded to the invitation and were entertained as royal guests. During their stay at the capital he very closely observed and noted their capabilities and eventually arrived at the conclusion that not one of them deserved to succeed him. He therefore spoke to them all in an assembly in 201 AH telling them in categorical terms that none of the ‘Abbasids deserved to succeed him. He demanded allegiance to Imam Ridha (PBUH) from the people in this very meeting and declared that royal robes would be green in future, the color which had the unique distinction of being that of the Imam’s dress. A Royal decree was published saying that Imam Ridha will succeed al-Ma’mun. Even after the declaration of succession when there was every opportunity for the Imam to live a splendid worldly royal life, he did not pay any heed to material comforts and devoted himself completely to imparting the true Islamic conception of the Prophet’s teachings and the Holy Qur’an.
He spent most of his time worshiping Allah and serving the people. Taking full advantage of the concessions given to him by virtue of his elevated position in the royal court, he organized the majalis (meetings) commemorating the martyrdom of the martyrs of Karbala’. These majalis were first held during the days of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), but Imam Ridha (PBUH) gave the majalis a new impetus by encouraging those poets who wrote effective poems depicting the moral aspects of the tragedy and the suffering of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and his companions. Al-Ma’mun had been very scared of the growing popularity of the Imam and he had appointed him as his heir to the throne only for the fulfillment of his own most ambitious and sinister designs and getting the Imam’s endorsement to his tricky plans.
Imam Ridha (PBUH) and Zayd
Once Imam Ridha (PBUH) was summoned to Khurasan and reluctantly accepted the role of being succession of al-Ma’mun that was forced on him, al-Ma’mun summoned his brother, Zayd, who had revolted and brought about a riot in Medina to his court in Khurasan. Al-Ma’mun kept him free as a regard and honor to Imam Ali al-Ridha and overlooked his punishment.
One day, when Imam Ridha (PBUH) was delivering a speech in a grand assembly, he heard Zayd praising himself before the people, saying I am so and so. The Imam asked him saying:
“O Zayd, have you trusted upon the words of the grocers of Kufa and are conveying them to the people? What kind of things are you talking about? The sons of Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) and Fatimah Zahra (PBUH) are worthy and outstanding only when they obey the command of Allah, and keep themselves away from sin and blunder. You think you are like Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), Ali ibn Hussain (PBUH), and other Imams? Whereas, they took pains and bore hardships on the way to Allah and prayed to Allah day and night. Do you think you will gain without pain? Be aware, that if a person out of us the Ahl Al-Bayt performs a good deed, he gets twice the reward. Because not only he performed good deeds like others but also that he has maintained the honor of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). If he practices something bad and does a sin, he has performed two sins. One is that he performed a bad act like the rest of the people and the other one is that he has negated the honor of the Prophet. O brother! The one who obeys Allah is from us the Ahl Al-Bayt and the one who is a sinner is not ours. Allah said about the son of Noah who cut the spiritual bondage with his father, “He is not out of your lineage; if he was out of your lineage, I would have (saved) and granted him salvation.”
Imam Ali Ibn Mousa al-Ridha (PBUH) was at the top of the scientists of his time in medical science. Religious scholars and jurists would ask him their questions about Islamic precepts. His treatise in medicine is regarded as most precious Islamic literature in the science of medicine, hence it has been called the Golden Dissertation. His treatise included scientific branches such as Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and Pathology when medical science was still primitive.
Political situation of his era
After the death of Harun al-Rashid in 809, Harun’s two sons began fighting for control of the Abbasid Empire. One son, Al-Amin, had an Arab mother and thus had the support of Arabs, while his half-brother Al-Ma’mun had a Persian mother and the support of Persia. After defeating his brother, al-Ma’mun summoned Imam Ridha to khurasan. Firstly, Ma’mun offered the Imam, caliphate. Imam Ridha (PBUH) who knew the real reason of this offer politely refused it and said:
“If this caliphate belongs to you, then it is not permissible for you to take off the garment in which Allah has clothed you and to give it to other than you. If the caliphate does not belong to you, then it is not permissible for you to give me that which does not belong to you.”
Then al-Ma’mun offers the role successor to him. According to Allamah Tabatabaii one of Shia scholars, Ma’mun summoned Imam Ridha (PBUH) to khurasan and offered him the role of successor to prevent the descendants of the Prophet from rebelling against the government since they would be involved in the government themselves, and secondly, to cause the people to lose their spiritual belief and inner attachment to the Imams.
Al-Ma’mun even changed the black Abbasid flags to green, the traditional color of the Prophet Muhammad and Shia’s flag and Imam Ali‘s cloak. Al-Ma’mun meant to appease the Shia factions by these decisions. Moreover, he gave his daughter, Umm Habib, to Imam Ridha (PBUH) and married another daughter, Umm al-Fadhl to Imam Ridha’s son. Al-Ma’mun ordered to mint coins with names of both Al-Ma’mun and Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH)
Imam Ridha (PBUH) did not outlive Ma’mun, having been given poisoned grapes by him while accompanying him in Persia, and died at Tous (in Khurasan) on May 26, 818. Imam Ridha (PBUH) is buried within Imam Ridha Mosque, in Mashhad, Khurasan, Iran. Al-Ma’mun had been very scared of the growing popularity of Imam Ridha (PBUH). After giving the Imam the role of succession of himself, he was hoping the popularity would decrease. In contrary, however, they were admiring the more than they used to. after the declaration of succession, and when there was every opportunity for the Imam to live a splendid worldly royal life, people were seeing that he did not pay any heed to material comforts and devoted his time to worshiping Allah and serving the people. The popularity, therefore, was growing day after day. Moreover Abbasids were bearing a grudge against Ma’mun who had appointed the Imam as his heir to the throne. Al-Ma’mun therefore became very disappointed. Imam advised him to dismiss him from his position but he had something else in mind. He decided once and for all to check his growing popularity and ensuring his own survival by acting according to the old traditions of killing Imams.
The night before Imam’s martyrdom, Harthama says: “Imam al Ridha called me so that I be present before him. He said to me, O Harthama! Listen carefully to what I tell you. Now it is time for me to return to Allah the Highest and join my grandfather and my forefathers. My life has come to an end. This rebel (al-Ma’mun) has decided to poison me with chafed grapes and pomegranates…The decree will come to happen and I will die. when I die, Al-Ma’mun will say, ‘I must perform the ceremonial burial ablutions of his body with my own hands.’ when Al-Ma’mun says that, you should privately tell him that I (Imam Ridha) told you to tell him (Al-Ma’mun) not to perform the ceremonial burial ablutions for me, shroud me or bury me; else the Divine Punishment that is to brought upon him later will be brought upon him sooner. And that which he is trying to avoid will rush towards him…Then Al-Ma’mun will appoint you to perform the ceremonial burial ablutions for me. Do not do anything related to my ceremonial burial ablutions until you see a white tent set up next to the house. when you see it set up, take me inside wearing the clothes which I had died. Stay outside and wait along with the others. ..Then Al-Ma’mun will come to you and ask, ‘O Harthama! Don’t you say that no one but a Divine Leader can wash a Divine Leader’s body? Then who will wash Ali Ibn Musa Al-Redha (PBUH) while his son Muhammad (PBUH) was in Medina that is one of the cities in Hijaz, and Al-Ridha (PBUH) is here in Toos?’ this time Al-Ma’mun says, you should answer him as follows, ‘No one needs to perform the ceremonial burial ablutions for a Divine Leader, except for the Divine Leader after him. However, if someone violates this principle and performs the ceremonial burial ablutions for the Imam, this act will not void the Imam’s Divine Leadership. It will neither void the Divine Leadership of the Imam succeeding him, even if someone forces him not to perform the ceremonial burial ablutions for his father’s body. If Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha (PBUH) was in Medina when he passed away, it is apparent that his son Muhammad (PBUH) would have performed the ceremonial ritual ablutions for him. However, this did not happen, but Muhammad (PBUH) performed the ceremonial burial ablutions for his father in secret. When the sides of the tent are lifted up you will see me in my shroud. Then lift up my body, place it in the coffin and carry me. When he (al-Ma’mun) decides to have my grave dug, he will try to dig it in such a position that the grave of his father Harun Al-Rashid is located in the direction of the Qibla from my grave. This, however, will never happen. No matter how hard they hit the ground with a mattock… tell Al-Ma’mun that I have ordered you to use a mattock and hit the ground at the location in the direction of the Qibla from the grave of his father Harun Al-Rashid just once. Then you do this, the ground will open up, a grave will be dug and a tomb shall be erected. When Al-Ma’mun accepts this and you see the grave appear, do not place me in it immediately. Wait until some clear water comes up and reaches the level of the ground. Then a fish as large as the grave will appear swimming there. Do not put me in it as long as the fish is moving. Then the fish will disappear and the water will be drained. Then take me to the grave and place me in it. Do not let anyone throw any dirt over my body. The grave will get filled and covered up by itself.’”
The day after, Harthama added, “Al-Ma’mun told me: ‘Go to Musa Al-Ridha, express my greetings to him and tell him, ‘Come to us if it is not difficult for you. Else I will come to see you.’ If Al-Ridha (PBUH) accepts to come, insist that he comes sooner.’ When coming, He offered Imam Ridha (PBUH) the bunch of grapes he was holding in his hands and said:
“O son of Allah’s Prophet! I have never seen a grape like this”, he said.
Imam rejected it:“There must be better ones in heaven”
“You must eat. Why don’t you eat? Perhaps you are suspicious of me.” Shouted Al-Ma’mun. Then he picked up the bunch of grapes, had a few grapes and then offered the bunch to Al-Ridha. Al-Ridha ate three grapes put down the bunch and stood up.
“Where!?” said Ma’mun.
“Where you sent me!” Imam answered, looking at Al Ma’mun. Then Imam pulled his cloak over his head and left. He walked to his room and laid down on his bed. Ma’mun sent someone to him to ask whether he has a will or advice to give.
Imam said “tell him: don’t ever give anything to a person when you regret afterwards!” Following the martyrdom of Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) a revolt took place in Khurasan. Al-Ma’mun wept and beat upon his head to show that he was a mourner. Despite this, A wave of despises and noise awn against al-Ma’mun. So that he did not allow the funeral to be carried out for a day and a night. Because, he was afraid that the disturbance may expand and the angry hostile and flared up masses may annihilate all the set ups and organizations. While some others like Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi thought that Abbasids had poisoned him as they did not want the Imam to be the Caliph after Al Ma’mun’s death. The thing however is that most historians agree that Al-Ma’nun has killed the Imam as he did the same about some other great mans who he was afraid of them.
Imam Ridha Shrine
Today the Imam Ridha shrine in Mashhad occupies a total area of 107,764 m2, seven courtyards surrounding the shrine. Thus it is the largest mosque in the world, even larger than Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi.
The courtyards also contain a total of 14 minarets, and 3 fountains. From the courtyards, external hallways named after scholars lead to the inner areas of the mosque. They are referred to as “Bast” (Sanctuary), since they were meant to be a safeguard for the shrine areas.
The Bast hallways lead towards a total of 21 internal halls “Riwaq” which surrounding the burial chamber of Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH).
Imam Ridha (PBUH), peace be Upon him, said:
“Doing seven things without doing the seven other things is self-mockery: asking for forgiveness from Allah verbally without repenting with the heart; asking for Allah’s help without undertaking any effort; making a firm resolution to do something without taking due precautions; asking Allah for Paradise without enduring the related hardships; beseeching deliverance from the Hell-fire without refraining from lusts; remembering Allah without anticipating to encounter Him.”
Imam Jawad (PBUH)
Imam Muhammad Al-Jawad or Muhammad Al-Taqi (Arabic: الإمام محمد التقي الجواد) is the ninth Imam of Shia. His given name was Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Musa, and among his titles, al-Taqi and al-Jawad are the most renowned. Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (PBUH) was the shortest-lived of the Twelve Imams, he martyred at the age of 25.
He was born on the tenth of Rajab, 195 AH. His mother was Khaizaran, also known as Sabika, a woman from the family of Maria al-Qibtiyya.
Hakima, the sister of Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), is reported saying that on the night of al-Taqi’s birth her brother advised her to be present beside his wife. According to a tradition, al-Taqi at his birth looked at the sky and uttered confirmation of the Oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and succession (ولایت) of Imam Ali (PBUH).
He undertook the responsibility of Imamate at the age of eight years.
He was a child when his father was killed. He did not act upon childish or whimsical impulses and he accepted adult responsibility and behaviors at an early age. His possession of extraordinary knowledge at a young age is similar to that of the Islamic tradition of Prophet Jesus (PBUH), a figure called to leadership and prophetic mission while still a child.
The story of Ma’mun al-Rashid’s first meeting with Imam Muhammad Jawad (PBUH) is interesting. Once, Ma’mun was passing a street in Baghdad with his soldiers. When the other children saw the caliph, they ran away but Imam Jawad (PBUH) did not.
So, Ma’mun al-Rashid stopped his carriage and asked: “Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?”
Imam Jawad replied calmly: “For the following two reasons: Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked, and your horses may go around me.”
Ma’mun al-Rashid was surprised with this mature reply and asked: “What is your name?”
“Muhammad,” he replied. “Whose son are you?” asked Ma’mun al-Rashid.
“The Son of Ali”
“Ali son of who?” said Ma’mun, “Son of Musa, son of Jafar, son of Muhammad, son of Ali, son of Hussain, brother of Hassan, son of Ali the cousin and successor to Prophet Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (PBUT)”
Ma’mun al-Rashid became even more surprised at the latter answer and rode on. During his hunt the hawk returned to him with a small fish in its beak. He returned toward the city. Once again, he found this young man who said he was Muhammad son of Imam Ali Ridha (PBUH) who remained where he was left.
Ma’mun stopped his carriage near Imam Jawad (PBUH) and said, “What does this hawk do for me?”, then he changed his mind and hid the fish in his fist and said “No, instead tell me, what is there in my fist?”
Imam Jawad (PBUH) replied, “Allah has created tiny fish in the river. The hawks of kings sometimes catch fish from there and bring it to the Kings. These kings hide it in their fist and ask a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt of the Prophet, “Tell me what is there in my fist.”
Ma’mun al-Rashid said, “Truly, you are the worthy son of Imam Ali Ridha (pbuh)” Ma’mun al-Rashid took the young Imam Jawad with him, and let him live in a nearby house next to the Royal Palace.
For the consolidation of his empire, it was realized by al-Ma’mun, the Abbasid king, that it was necessary to win the sympathy and support of the Iranians who had always been friendly to the Ahl Al-Bayt. Yet the exigency which directed him to nominate Imam Ali al-Rida (PBUH) as his heir and successor still continued. Hence, he desired to marry his daughter Umm Al-fadhl to Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH), the son of Imam Ridha and with this object in view, he summoned the Imam from Medina to Iraq. The Banu Abbas were extremely disconcerted when they come to know that Ma’mun was planning to marry his daughter to Imam Muhammad al-Jawad. A delegation of some leading persons waited on him in order to dissuade him from his intention. But Ma`mun continued to admire the learning and excellence of the Imam. He would say that though Imam Muhammad al-Jawad was still young, yet he was a true successor to his father in all his virtues and that the profoundest scholars of the Islamic world could not compete with him. When the Abbasids noticed that Ma’mun attributed the Imam’s superiority to his learning they chose yahya Ibn Aktham, the greatest scholar and jurist of Baghdad, to contend with him.
Al-Ma’mun issued a proclamation and organized a grand meeting for the contest which resulted in huge gathering of people from all parts of the kingdom. Apart from noble and high officials, there were as many as nine hundred chairs reserved for scholars and learned men only. The world wondered how a young child could contest with the veteran judge in religious laws and the greatest scholar of Iraq. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was seated beside Ma’mun on his throne face to face with Yahya Ibn Aktham, who addressed the Imam thus: “Do you permit me to ask you a Question?”
“Ask me whatever you wish“. Said the Imam in the typical tone of his ancestors. yahya then asked the Imam, “O what is your verdict about a man who indulges in hunting while he is in the state of Ehram (one of Hajj laws, during Ehram, hunting is supposed to be forbidden for a pilgrim.)
The Imam at once replied, “Your question is vague and misleading. You should have definitely mentioned whether he hunted within the jurisdiction of the Kaba or outside; whether he was literate of illiterate; whether he was a slave of a free citizen; whether he was a minor or a major; whether it was for the first time of he had done it previously; also whether, that victim was a bird or some other creature; whether the prey was small or big; whether he hunted in the day or at night; whether the hunter repented for his action of persisted in it ; whether he hunted secretly of openly ; whether the Ehram was for Umrah Hajj. Unless all these points are explained no specific answer can be given to this question.”
The judge, Yahya was staggered in listening to these words of the Imam and the entire gathering was dumbfounded.
There was no limit to Ma’mun’s pleasure. He expressed his sentiments of joy and admiration thus, “Bravo! Well done! O Abu Ja`far! Your learning and attainments are beyond all praises.” As Ma’mun wanted that the Imam’s opponent be fully exposed, he said to the Imam, “You may also put some question to Yahya Ibn Aktham.” Then Yahya also reluctantly said to the Imam, “Yes, you may ask me some questions. If I know the answer, I will tell it; otherwise, I shall request you to give its answer.” Thereupon, the Imam asked a Question to which Yahya could not reply. Eventually, the Imam answered his question.
Then Ma’mun addressed the audience: “Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning? Is there anyone in the world who can match even the children of this family?” All of them shouted, “Undoubtedly there in no one parallel to Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Jawad.” In the some assemble Ma’mun wedded his daughter Umm al-Fadhl to the Imam and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his subjects as a mark of rejoicing.
According to Twelver Shia, the Imams are perfectly able to give judgment on all matters of religious law and his judgment was always legally correct. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) like the other Imams of Ahl Al-Bayt and the Prophets of Islam were born with extraordinary knowledge.
Marriage and lifestyle during Abbasid rule
After Ma’mun had poisoned Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) to death he endeavored to show that the death had come by a natural cause. Ma’mun also brought al-Jawad (PBUH) from Medina to Baghdad with the plan of marrying him to his daughter, Umm Al-Fadhal. Although the Abbasids made strenuous attempts to forestall it, the marriage was duly solemnized.
After living in Baghdad for eight years, Imam Jawad and Umm al-Fadhal returned to Medina. There he found his relationship with his wife strained and upon the death of Ma’mun in 833 his fortunes deteriorated. Since Umm al-Fadhal did not have any children, Imam Jawad (PBUH) also married Soumanah, who gave him a son and successor, Ali Al-Hadi. The successor of Mamun’s caliphate was Al-Mu’tasim. With the new Abbasid ruler in power Imam Jawad (PBUH) was no longer protected and his interests and position were imperiled by the dislike that Mu’tasim had for him.
In 835, Mu’tasim called Imam Jawad (PBUH) back to Baghdad. The latter left his son Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) (the tenth Shia Imam) with his mother Soumanah in Medina and set out for Baghdad. He resided there for one more year, becoming a well known scholar and popular in debates.
Ibn Shahr Ashoob records that Mu’tasim encouraged Umm Al-Fadhal to murder her husband Imam Jawad (PBUH). She duly poisoned him to death on the twenty-ninth of Dhu al-Qi’dah, 220 Hijra (the 26th year after his birth).
Imam Muhammad Al-Taqi Al-Jawad (PBUH) is buried beside the grave of his grandfather Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) (the seventh Shia Imam) within Al Kadhimiya Mosque, in Kadhimayn, Iraq , a popular site for visitation and pilgrimage by Shi’a Muslims.
Imam Jawad, peace be Upon him, said:
“The trust in Allah is the price of everything that is precious and the ladder to every goal which is high and sublime. One, who follows his desires, concedes to the wishes of his enemy. Do not be an apparent friend of Allah in open and a secret enemy of His in private.”
Imam Ali Al-Hadi Al-Naqi (PBUH)
Imam Ali Al-Hadi Al-Naqi (Arabic: علي الهادي النقي), also known as Ali Al-Naqi is the tenth Imams. His full name is Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali (PBUH). The exact date of his birth and martyrdom are unknown, but it is generally accepted that he was born between 827–830 CE (2nd Rajab, 212 AH-214 AH) and he martyred in 868 CE.
Imam Hadi was born in Medina to the ninth Shia Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (PBUH), (also known as Imam Muhammad al-Jawad), and Lady Sumanah. His father bestowed upon him the surname Abu’l-Hassan, after the surnames given to his grandfather Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) and his great grandfather Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH). Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) assumed the official role of Imamate at a very young age of 7 or 8 years. At that age, he had become a point of reference for the Muslims. People would refer to him and seek his guidance in almost everything pertaining to their lives. When the enemies of Ahl Al-Bayt saw this, they were displeased with the situation. So, in conjunction with the government of the time, which was in opposition of Ahl Al-Bayt, they began looking for a person who was the most knowledgeable of the time yet a sworn enemy of Ahlul-Bayt, so that Imam Hadi (PBUH) is put under his care for training and the Muslims, particularly the Shia do not get any access to him. Finally, Ubaydullah Junaydi, a prominent scholar from Iraq and a sworn enemy of Ahl Al-Bayt was appointed for the task. Ubaydullah took the Imam into his care and did not allow any Shia to visit him. This way, the guidance of Imam Hadi (PBUH) was suspended for his Shias. One day a person came to Ubaydullah Junaydi and asked him, “How is the Hashimite servant doing?” Junaydi, a sworn enemy of Ahl Al-Bayt became extremely furious with the man and said to him, “Do not call him a Hashimite servant for he is not a servant but a leader of Banu Hashim. By Allah! Despite his young age, he is more knowledgeable than I am. People think that I am disciplining him but the truth is that he is disciplining me. I swear by Allah! He is not only the Hafidh of Quran (someone who has Quran verses in memory) but also possesses its knowledge. To be precise, he is the best of all on the face of this earth”. (Al-Dam’ah al-Saakibah)
According to Shia accounts, after his father’s assassination at the will of Mu’tasim, the Abbasid caliph ordered Omar Ibn al-Faraj to find a teacher in Medina for the young Imam who would preach hatred toward the Ahl Al-Bayt. He found al-Junaydi to perform the task. However, al-Junaydi often reported on the Imam’s intelligence. Imam Hadi (PBUH) often provided perspectives on literature that al-Junaydi hadn’t thought of, and at his young age he had even developed a comprehensive understanding of the Quran and the revelations within. Al-Junaydi, impressed and astounded by the young boy, concluded that it could only be by divine causes that the Imam could be so knowledgeable, and so he dropped the animosity he had held towards the family of the Prophet.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) utilized the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina as a place to teach people about knowledge, principles, and morals that could be derived from Islam. The Imam was dedicated to teaching, so much that he would pay for students’ supplies if they needed it (in addition to the regular charity he gave to the poor). Due to his kindness, most people in Medina that interacted with him were loyal to him.
Despite the general population’s love for the Imam, one man despised the Imam for the support he had amongst the people. Abdullah bin Muhammad was the guardian of Medina, and he told Mutawakkil that Imam Hadi was dangerous because some Islamic nations were giving him money with which he could buy weapons; those weapons could then be used to revolt against Mutawakkil. When Imam Hadi (PBUH) learned of what Abdullah bin Muhammad had told the caliph, he sent a letter to Mutawakkil assuring him that the warning had no bearing, and that it was merely a product of a grudge he had held against the Ahl al-Bayt.
Mutawakkil responded to the letter with another, stating that he had deposed the guardian and that the Imam should come to Samarra and be under house arrest so that the caliph could “protect” him. At the same time, Mutawakkil ordered Yahya Ibn Harthama to go to Medina both to investigate Abdullah’s claims and to bring Imam Hadi (PBUH) to Samarra. When the Imam received the letter, he knew that in being invited to live in Samarra, he was actually being banished from Medina. While he hated to leave, he also knew that if he rejected the invitation, he would eventually be forcibly removed, it was a situation which he wished to avoid. Yahya then searched the Imam’s house and found nothing more than copies of the Quran; afterward he had but one task left.
Yahya thus forced the Imam and his family to leave Medina for Samarra. Their caravan stopped off in Bahgdad, where Yahya visited the governor Isaaq bin Ibrahim adh-Dhahiri. The two talked, and the governor warned Yahya that if he were to say anything about the Imam that was negative, Mutawakkil would have the Imam killed; the blame would thus be on Yahya’s shoulders for the death of a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt on the Day of Judgment. After arriving at Samarra, Yahya met Mutawakkil and spoke only good things about the Imam, and he told him that he didn’t find anything in his home that supported Abdullah’s claims. Mutawakkil dropped his anger towards the Imam and met him. Even though the caliph had no reason to be suspicious of Imam Hadi (PBUH), he insisted upon his staying in Samarra under house arrest. While the Imam was under house arrest, Mutawakkil maintained a strange relationship with the Imam. The caliph turned to and trusted the Imam over his own personal jurisprudents when he was presented with legal problems; however, part of the caliph still held resentment toward him.
On one occasion, Mutawakkil organized a conference to be held in his palace. He had asked Ibn as-Sakkit to ask the Imam a question that he didn’t think the Imam would answer, so that Mutawakkil could embarrass and defame him before the theologians and jurisprudents he had invited. Not only was the Imam able to answer as-Sakkit’s question, but he also answered the questions that Yahya Ibn Aktham had been told to prepare as backup. Despite Ibn as-Sakkit’s acceptance of the task, he actually ended up dying at the hands of Mutawakkil; the caliph asked him “Are my sons more respectable than Hassan and Hussain?” To which as-Sakkit replied,”…Imam Ali’s slave Qamber is more respectable than both of your sons.” In addition to this attempt to humiliate the Imam, Mutawakkil imposed penalties upon anyone who was found giving the Imam gifts, giving him money, or trying to obtain knowledge about Islam from him. Furthermore, even with the Imam suffering under the caliph’s house arrest, Mutawakkil order on several occasions the arrest of the Imam and the searching of his house on suspicion of having money and weapons with which he could revolt; each time the Imam was cleared of the charges.
Failed assassination and the death of al-Mutawakkil
Mutawakkil had tired of people preaching of the knowledge and piety of Imam Hadi (PBUH), but mostly he was angry about hearing the Shia talk of how the Imam was more worthy of the caliphate. It was at this point that the caliph hired several non-Muslims to kill the Imam. After explaining what he wanted to do, Imam Hadi (PBUH) arrived with several palace guards. When Mutawakkil saw him, he started to reflect on what he had ordered, and became afraid for his fate in the afterlife. He immediately embraced the Imam, addressed him as “my master,” and kissed him on the forehead. His actions confused the men he had hired, and so they refrained from killing the Imam. The caliph, having given up on killing Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH), decided he would try to humiliate him instead. He ordered that the officials, notables, and the Imam (so it wouldn’t look like the act was intended for him) would have to travel on foot during a hot summer day while the caliph remained mounted on his horse. The Imam, having almost suffered a heat stroke, recited the Quranic verse, “Enjoy yourself in your abode for three days that is a promise not to be belied.” Another account of this prediction stated that the Imam was imprisoned by the caliph, and it was that act which provoked the Imam to foretell of his death. Within three days of that event, plotters assassinated the caliph; one of the assassins was actually his son, al-Muntasir.
The Abbasid caliph felt the same way that his predecessor al-Mutawakkil did about Imam Hadi (PBUH). He was jealous of how people talked of the Imam’s virtues and knowledge, and he had him poisoned in 868 C.E. The poison reacted violently and caused great amounts of pain upon the Imam until his martyrdom. His son and successor, Hassan al-Askari (PBUH), performed the purification rituals and buried his father in a grave outside the house he had been confined to during his house-arrest under al-Mutawakkil. His burial spot is now the al-Askari Shrine, one of the holiest Shia shrines.
Epithets given to the Imam
Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) was given a vast number of descriptive names throughout his life, each with a specific meaning. He was called An-Nasih (loyal), to describe his dedication to his nation. He was called Al-Mutawakkil (reliant on Allah), however he disliked this name because it was the same as the epithet for Ja’far al-Mutawakkil, a known critic of the Ahl al-Bayt. Imam Ali al-Hadi was given other epithets such as at-Taqiy (pious), al-Murtadha (being pleased with Allah), al-Faqeeh (jurisprudent), al-Aalim (knowledgeable), al-Ameen (trustee of religion and life), at-Tayyib (generous), al-Askari (military), al-Muwadhdhih (explainer of the verdicts of the Quran and the tradition), al-Rasheed (wise), al-Shaheed (the martyr), al-Wafiy (loyal), and al-Khalis (pure from defect). These epithets were both characteristic of the way the Imam presented himself and the way the Muslims in the 9th century perceived him.
There were many times throughout the Imam’s life that he exhibited extreme generosity. In one instance, two men came to the Imam, with one complaining of the other’s debt to him. To solve the problem, the Imam gave to both men 30,000 dinars. Another account described how a nomadic man came to Imam Hadi (PBUH) to tell him of how he was heavily in debt and in need of assistance. Imam Hadi (PBUH), being short of money himself, gave the man a note saying that he was in debt to the nomad, and instructed him to meet the Imam in Samarra, where he had a meeting, and to insist that the Imam pay back the debt. The nomad did as he was told, and the Imam apologized to the nomad in front of those at the meeting for being incapable of paying him back. The officials at the meeting reported the Imam’s debt to the caliph, al-Mutawakkil, who then sent the Imam 30,000 dirhams, with which he then presented to the nomad. Essentially, the way in which the Imam lived his life gives enough evidence to understand exactly why he was given the epithet at-Tayyib.
According to Twelver Shias, he is described as being endowed with the knowledge of the languages of the Persians, Slavs, Indians and Nabataeans in addition to foreknowing unexpected storms and as accurately prophesying other events. In the presence of al-Mutawakkil, he unmasked a woman falsely claiming to be Lady Zaynab, daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH), by descending into a lions’ cage in order to prove that lions do not harm true descendants of Imam Ali (a similar miracle is also attributed to his grandfather, Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH)). A theological treatise on human freedom and some other short texts and statements ascribed to Imam Hadi (PBUH) are quoted by Abu Muhammad al-Hassan Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hussain Ibn Shuʻbah al-Harrani.
The Imam worked on his farm to support and feed his family. Through working on the farm, he relieved himself and his family of any tendencies towards lavishness; whatever they needed they would provide for themselves. It was reported that when people would ask Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) why he worked on a farm, he would answer: “Who was better than I and my father, who worked with a spade on his farm.” When they would inquire as to whom he was talking about, he would tell them that he was referring to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); the fact that he emulated the Prophet so much that he lived in the same manner that he did helps in understanding why he was given the epithet of at-Taqiy.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) understood the importance of the teachings of the Prophet, and because of this he dedicated his time to obtaining them so that people could find guidance with regards to morals, disciplines, intellectual issues, and social issues. In addition to narrating Hadith, he narrated sayings from Imam Ali (PBUH), Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), and Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH). Imam Hadi thought it very important for people to comprehend and follow Hadith and the sayings of the infallible Imams, and he instructed those Muslims who understood them to adhere to them, and those who didn’t to approach their present infallible Imam and ask him to explain them.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) was dedicated to upholding Sharia law with regards to its verdicts, teachings, and principles. He was considered to be one of the most knowledgeable men of his time concerning the matter, and there were many occasions where even al-Mutawakkil would refer to him for help. To this day, some Shia practices are derived from that which was determined by the Imam. On one account, a man wanted to know that if a Shia Muslim died and there happened to be Murjites present (followers of Islamic school Murji’ah) while the washer wanted to wash the corpse, whether the washer should wash the body like the Murjites (no turban or palm branch) or not. The Imam determined that he should wash the body according to the way of the Ahl Al-Bayt, and that the palm branch should be put on secretly so the Murjites couldn’t see it happen. Another account detailed one man’s predicament concerning Shia jurisprudents regarding the clothes one could wear during prayer. It is unlawful to wear clothing during prayer made of animals whose meat Muslims aren’t allowed to eat, but this particular man lived in an area where those were the only clothes available; he feared that if he took them off for prayer, he would freeze. The Imam told him that if he needed to wear the fur of an animal, it should come from fennec or beaver, thus establishing a tradition whereby men could pray in the fur of only those two animals. The Imam also dealt with the question that some had about the validity of a prayer when someone walks in front of them. Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) replied that the prayers were indeed valid, and they would be accepted by Allah. The Imam was asked questions regarding the act of fasting during Ramadan. Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) decided and set into tradition that only when a Muslim first sees the sun do they have to begin fasting. He also stated that women who were breast feeding were not obliged to fast; only if a nurse could be employed is a woman allowed to fast. These are but a few of the many times that Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) was consulted in matters of jurisprudence, and they help to explain the epithet of al-Faqih that was given to him.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) lived during a time when people had grand misunderstandings about the theology surrounding Islam. As such, the Imam not only found it necessary to confute these misconceptions, but he contributed to the books of “argumentation” that were compiled by Shia scholars to further refute misguided beliefs about the religion.
One such issue the Imam dealt with was whether or not it was possible to see Allah. Imam Hadi (PBUH) said that it was impossible to see Him, because, “When the seer equals the seen thing in the cause of sight between them, sight takes place, but those who compare between the seer (man) and Allah, they are mistaken, because they have likened Allah to man… Essentially, to say that you can see Allah is to say that you have the same qualities as Allah, which, in this case, is the ability to be seen. Another issue that the Imam dealt with was the belief that Allah has a body (embodiment of God). Imam Hadi (PBUH) chastised those who believed it and stated that, “He, who claims that Allah is a body, is not from us, and we are free from him in this world and the afterworld…body (substance) is created, and it is Allah Who has created and embodied it.” To attribute Allah with embodiment is to characterize Him with need and to limit Him to a body. Essentially, it is wrong to equate Allah with created things due to His nature as our creator.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) also expressed strong feelings about the impossibility of describing Allah’s Essence. The rationale behind his objection was that Allah is so great that, as humans, we are incapable of conceiving how truly amazing He is, and that the only one that can truly describe Allah is Allah Himself. He then uses this as a segue into the belief that true Muslims, the Prophet, and the infallible Imams cannot be described either, because their obedience to Allah draws them closer to the Essence of Allah, and descriptions cannot wholly encompass their virtuous qualities that result from submitting to Allah.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) and Heretics
Ibn Hasakah preached to the people that Imam Hadi (PBUH) was in fact Allah. On top of that, he told people that he was a prophet sent by Imam Hadi to guide the Muslims, and with that declaration he also claimed that prayer, Zakat, Hajj, and fasting were no longer required. Upon hearing this, Imam Hadi (PBUH) immediately rejected what Ibn Hasakah had said and ordered that those who preach such blasphemy should be both rejected and killed. Muhammad bin Nusayr al-Fihiri an-Namiri was also a heretic claiming the Imam to be Allah. He claimed that it was permitted to marry close relatives, such as a sister or a daughter, and he permitted sodomy and promoted the idea of transmigration of the soul. Other heretics went as far as to claim that words such as “Zakat” or “prayer” didn’t mean praying or giving alms, but instead that the words referred to a man and not to an actual action. Again, Imam Hadi (PBUH) immediately rejected the claims and he ordered that Muslims reject them as well. In addition, he ordered their deaths, as made evident when he said, “…if you overcome any of them (extremists), break his head with a stone!” His commands act to show the extreme importance the Imam placed on making sure that all Muslims remained pure of blasphemy so that they wouldn’t be led astray into hellfire.
Imam hadi Al-Naqi was poisoned by Al-Motawakkil. He killed Imam Hadi (PBUH) by poisoned meal. The Imam martyred at 30 Rajab, 254 H. he was buried in Samerra where later his son Imam Hassan Al-Askari (PBUH).
On 22 February 2006, a bomb attack in Iraq badly damaged the shrine of Imam Hadi (PBUH) and his son Imam Hassan Al-Askari; another attack was executed on 13 June 2007, which led to the destruction of the two minarets of the shrine. Those attacks took place by Wahhabis.
His direct descendants are called Naqvis (also spelled as Naqhavi or Naqavi in Iran and the Arab world respectively). They primarily reside in Pakistan as well as a small but prominent minority in India.
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH)
Imam Hassan al-Askari (c. 6 December 846 – 4 January 874) was the eleventh and the penultimate Imam of the Twelver Shia Muslims. His title al-Askari is derived from the Arabic word Askar for army. He was given this title because he lived in Samarra, a garrison town. He was 22, when his father was killed. The period of his Imamate was six years and he martyred at the age of 28 and was buried in Samarra.
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH), whose ancestor was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), was born in Medina. His father was Imam Hadi (PBUH), the tenth Imam of the Shia. He was from the masters of the Ahl Al-Bayt. His mother was a bondmaid from an-Nawbah. Historians disagreed on her name. Some of them said her name was Saleel which was the most correct according to the previous tradition of Imam al-Hadi. Some said she was called Sawsan. Others said her name was Hadithah, and others said Haribah.
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) also had two other siblings, Muhammad Abu Ja’far, al-Hussain Ibn Ali al-Hadi and a sister named Aa’liyah or Aliyyah. Imam Hassan al-Askari and al-Hussain were called “as-Sibtayn” and were named after their two grandfathers Imam Hassan (PBUH) and Imam Hussain (PBUH).
Oppression by the Abbasid Caliphs
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) lived almost his entire life under house arrest in Samarra and under supervision of Abbasid caliphs.
Mutawakkil, son of Mu’tasim, was the first of these oppressive caliphs. He assumed the rule in 232 AH. In the same year the Imam was born. Mutawakkil had strong animosity towards the any members of the Ahl Al-Bayt and as such he ordered his men to bring Imam Hadi (PBUH) to Samarra from Medina. He imposed house arrest on the Imam and had detectives and policeman watching all his activities and preventing the Shia Muslims from having any contact with their Imam. The reign of Mutawakkil was ended by his son, Muntasir, who joined forces with the Turks to kill his father. After the coup Muntasir assumed the rule that once belonged to his father. He was not like his father, and during this time Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) felt freedom. This reign did not last long, as Muntasir died shortly thereafter. Most historians believe he was assassinated by the Turks, via poison, due to their fear that he might end their domination over the Islamic nation. After the death of Muntasir, Musta’in took control. He had little political influence and was considered by many to be a tool controlled by the Turks. He had bitter hatred of Imam Askari (PBUH) and feared that he might rise in a revolt against the Abbasid rule. He was thus again placed under house arrest. Eventually, Musta’in’s rule too was ended by the Turks and he was forced to hand the position over to Mu’tazz. Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) continued to live under house arrest under the reign of Mu’tazz, Muhtadi, and Mu’tamid, until his martyrdom. The cause of his martyrdom has largely been speculated to be due to poison administered by the last Abbasid caliph of his time, Mu’tamid.
Imam Hassan al-Askari’s imamate met difficulty even before the martyrdom of his father. Many felt that Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) became the eleventh Imam by default because his older brother had died and was considered the designated successor to his father during his lifetime. Some of those who refused to accept the imamate of Imam Askari, had instead chosen to follow his younger brother hereafter referred to as Ja’far (not to be confused with his deceased older brother). His right to succession was also challenged by this same brother.
Imam Askari (PBUH) represented the front of opposition to the Abbasid rule. He criticized the rulers for appropriating the wealth of the nation and extorting the people under their rule. He did so by not communicating with or cooperating with kings who took wealth unlawfully and used followers of Islam as slaves. Due to the domination of the Turks, the Imam had little effect on the Political life during his time. The state remained in a political crisis, as the Abbasid Caliphs were considered puppets of the Turks who ruled with terrorism.
The religious life during the time of Imam Askari’s imamate was also in shambles as well. Because the Imam was under house arrest for a majority of his life, many non-believers took advantage of this time and tried to misguide the Muslims. He did continue to speak out against those who questioned the Quran. It was in this case that a philosopher by the name of Isaaq al-Kindi wrote “The Contradiction of the Quran”. Historians have written that Imam Askari (PBUH) had a disciple relay a powerful message to the philosopher in which he stated
“If someone recites the Quran, is it possible that he means other meanings than what you think you understand? If he says it is possible say to him how do you know? He might mean other than the meanings that you think, and so he fabricates other than the Quran’s meanings”.
The claim that follows is that the Philosopher burned his book in light of the belief that no one besides a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt could say something like this and that he must truly be the eleventh Imam from this lineage. In this way the Imam had some influence on the religious lives of his followers. He would address them through the visitors he was permitted to receive.
He lived a majority of his life being mistreated under house arrest by the caliphs of the time; eventually, Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) martyred on the 8th Rabi’ al-awwal 260 AH.
After his martyrdom, his brother Ja’far Ibn Ali took it upon himself to seize what was left behind Imam Askari (PBUH). It is claimed by historians that he also took public possession of his late brother’s property and also tried to take his place in the eyes of his followers. It is also claimed that he made vicious insinuations against his late brothers followers and also began threatening them if they did not follow him.
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) is buried in the mausoleum containing the remains of his father, Imam Hadi (PBUH), The Al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Iraq. The site is considered a holy shrine for the Shias, though a bomb blast on 22 February 2006 destroyed much of the structure, and another bomb blast on 13 June 2007 destroyed the two remaining minarets of the Al-Askariya Mosque. It was done by wahabis.
Mahdi (PBUH), The Last Imam
After Imam Hassan Al-Askari (PBUH), his son Mahdi was his successor.
The world knows him as 12th Imam, The one who is in occultation to remain safe for the future. He is still alive by the command of Allah, just like Prophet Jesus (PBUH). Muslims believe he will reappear at the end of time to fill the world with justice and peace. (to see more, refer to “The 12th Imam, Mahdi (PBUH)”)
Imam Mahdi (PBUH)
ImamImamI Mahdi (PBUH) (Arabic: مهدي) is the 12th and the last Imam of Shia from the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and he is prophesied redeemer of the world in Shia and Sunni view who will rule for several years before the Day of Judgment (the Day of Resurrection) and will rid the world of evil.
Imam Mahdi (PBUH) was born at 15, the month of Sha’ban in the year 255 A.H. in the town of Samarra, and in 260 A.H., when his great father martyred; he reached the exalted position of the Imamate. His name (M.H.M.D) and his agnomen (Abu’l-Qasim) are the same as the Prophet’s. His father, the 11th Shia Imam, was Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH), and his mother, the lady Nargis. For various reasons, the twelfth Imam, from the first day of his life, did not appear publicly, and for about seventy years people were in communication with him through the intermediary of his special representatives, in order of succession: Othman Ibn Sa’id, Muhammad Ibn Othman, Hussain Ibn Ruh, and Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Samari. This period of seventy years is known as the minor occultation (Al-Ghaybat Al-Sughra), and at the end of that period the major occultation (Al-Ghaybat Al -Kubra) began. During the major occultation till the time of his reappearance, no one has been his special representative, and there will be no one in the future, and the people have the duty to refer to the “Fuqaha” (Jurist), those excelling in knowledge of the shariah, and the narration of Hadith who are specialized in the matters of the religion.
Believe in Imam Mahdi (PBUH) and Universal Reform
Believe in the reappearance of the expected Mahdi (PBUH) the universal reformer is not confined to the Shia Muslims. Other Islamic groups and even non-Islamic groups like the Jews and the Christians and some of the great world intellectual figures believe in the appearance of a great spiritual reformer. In Psalm 37 is written: “…Trust in the Lord and do well; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security. …For the wicked shall be cut off: but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land. …But the weak shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. …The Lord knows the days of the flawless, and their heritage will abide forever. …For those blessed by the Lord, shall possess the land, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off. …The righteous shall possess the land, and dwell upon it at peace forever…”
There are numerous Hadith (prophetic sayings) cited in Sunni and Shia sources from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his descendants (Ahl Al-Bayt) concerning the appearance of Imam Mahdi (PBUH), such as that he is of the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH) and that his appearance will enable human society to reach true perfection and the full realization of spiritual life. In addition, there are numerous other traditions concerning the fact that Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is the son of the eleventh descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH). They agree that after being born and undergoing a long occultation Imam Mahdi (PBUH) will appear again, filling with justice the world that has been corrupted by injustice and iniquity.
As an example, Imam Ridha (PBUH) (8th Imam of Shia, from the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) has said, in the course of a Hadith, “The Imam after me is my son, Muhammad, and after him his son Ali, and after Ali his son, Hassan, and after Hassan his son Hujjat Al-Qa’im, who is awaited during his occultation and obeyed during his manifestation. If there remain from the life of the world but a single day, Allah will extend that day until he becomes manifest, and fill the world with justice in the same way that it had been filled with iniquity. But when? As for news of the hour, verily my father told me, having heard it from his father who heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Ali (PBUH), that it was asked of the Holy Prophet, “Oh Prophet of Allah, when will the “the Risen” (Qa’im) who is from thy family appear?” He said, “His case is unknown like the the Resurrection day. He alone will manifest it at its proper time. It is significant in the heavens and the earth. It cometh not to you save unawares”
(holy Quran, Surah Al-A’raf, verse 187)
Saqr Ibn Abi Dulaf said, “I heard from Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (9th Imam of Shia, from the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) who said, ′The Imam after me is my son Ali; his command is my command; his word is my word; to obey him is to obey me. The Imam after him is his son, Hassan. His command is the command of his father; to obey him is to obey his father.′ after these words the Imam remained silent. I said to him, ′Oh son of the Prophet, who will be the Imam after Hassan? ′ the Imam cried hard, then said, ′Verily after Hassan his son is the awaited Imam who is “Al-Qa’im bi’l-haqq” (He who rise for the Truth).′”
Musa Ibn Ja’far Baghdadi said, “I heard from Imam Hassan Al-Askari (PBUH) (11th Imam of Shia) who said, ′I see that after me differences will appear among you concerning the Imam after me. Whoso accepts the Imams after the Prophet of Allah but denies my son, is like the person who accepts all the prophets but denies the prophet hood of Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Allah. And whoso denies “Muhammad” (PBUH) the Prophet of Allah, is like one who has denied all the prophets of Allah, obeying the last of us is like obeying the first and denying the last of us is like denying the first. But beware! Verily for my son there is an occultation during which all people will fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects.”
It is unquestionable that the idea of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) was projected upon several Imams in turn, but it could take definite shape only around the person of the twelfth, with whom the purpose of Imamate will be fulfilled. There is a considerable body of literature about him, both in Persian and in Arabic. The sources of this literature have been assembled by Saffar al-Qummi, reporter-witness of Imam Hassan Al-Askari (PBUH); al-Kulayni and his follower al-Nu’mani, fourth/tenth century; Ibn Babuyah, d. 381/991, who owed his information to a contemporary witness, Hassan Ibn Muktib; al-Shaykh al-Mufid; Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi. The principal traditions are collected in volume 13 of Al-Majlisi’s Encyclopedias.
In Shia Islam, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is a “hidden Imam” who has already been born and who will one day return alongside Prophet Jesus (PBUH) to fill the world with justice. The promised Mahdi (PBUH), who is usually mentioned in Shia by his title of “Imam Asr” (the Imam of the “time”) and “Sahib Al-Zaman” (the Lord of the Age). According to Shia Islam, Imam Mahdi (pbuh) was born in Samarra in 868 and until 872 when his father was martyred, lived under his father’s care and tutelage. He was hidden from public view and only a few of the elite among the Shia were able to meet him.
After martyrdom of his father he became Imam and by Divine Command went into occultation (Ghaybat). Thereafter he appeared only to his deputies (na’ib) and even then only in exceptional circumstances.
In Shia perspective, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) chose as a special deputy for a time Othman Ibn Sa’id Omari, one of the companions of his father and grandfather who was his confidant and trusted friend. Through his deputy Imam Mahdi (PBUH) would answer the demands and questions of the Muslims. After Othman Ibn Sa’id, his son Muhammad Ibn Othman Omari was appointed the deputy of him. After the death of Muhammad Ibn Othman, Abu’l Qasim Hussain Ibn Ruh Nawbakhti was the special deputy, and after his death Ali Ibn Muhammad Samari was chosen for this task.
A few days before the death of Ali Ibn Muhammad Samari in 939 an order was issued by Imam Mahdi (PBUH) stating that in six days Ali Ibn Muhammad Samari would die. Henceforth the special deputation of the Imam would come to an end and the major occultation (Ghaybat Kubra) would begin and would continue until the day Allah grants permission to the Imam to manifest himself.
So, the occultation of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is, divided into two parts: the first, the minor occultation (Ghaybat Sughra) which began in 872 and ended in 939, lasting about seventy years; the second, the major occultation which commenced in 939 and will continue as long as Allah wills it. In a Hadith upon whose authenticity Shia and Sunni agree, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said, “If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, Allah would prolong that day until He sends in it a man from my community and my household. His name will be the same as my name. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.”
The Purpose of the Hidden Imam
Allah appointed the Imam of the Age to be a guide amongst people; however it is the people who are the obstacle to his appearance, and whenever they are ready for a single, divine world rule, formed on true justice observing rights, truths and realities, putting into practice all the laws of Islam without any dissimulation or fear, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) will openly declare himself. So, with regard to Allah, the Merciful, there is not the slightest lack of favor or mercy, for the fault lies with the people that the Imam is hidden and the appearance of his rule is delayed. Still, it must be remembered that the benefits of the existence of the Imam are not limited to outward guidance among people, for the pure existence of the Imam has other benefits which are not necessarily evident among people.
The most important benefit of the Imam’s existence is that he is the intermediary for Divine Favor. For, one the basis of the evidence scholars have produced and also according to numerous Hadith which speak about the Imamate, if there were no Imam, the relation between the world and its creator would no longer exist, because all of the favors of Allah come through the Imam to the rest of humanity. In many Hadith it is said very clearly that the earth will not remain without an Imam. The Imam is the heart of the world of existence, the leader, the preceptor of mankind, and for this reason his presence or his absence makes no difference. What is more, the spiritual guidance of the Imam towards worthy individuals will always be there, although they may not see him, especially as it is mentioned in Hadith that Imam Mahdi (PBUH) comes and goes in among the people in the meetings of the believers without anyone understanding. Thus the guarding of Islam and the protection of the worthy is well undertaken by the Imam, even during the time of his occultation. In reality the hidden Imam is like the sun behind a cloud from whose light and heat existent things may profit, although the ignorant and the blind may not see it. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) (6th Imam of Shia) also said in answer to the question: “How can people benefit from a hidden Imam? – Just as they do from the sun when it is behind a cloud.”
The Jewish religion, finished prophet hood with Prophet Moses (PBUH), which was the relationship between Allah and the world of man, and do not acknowledge the prophet hood of Jesus (PBUH) or Muhammad (PBUH). The Christians, also, stopped with Jesus (PBUH), and the Sunni Muslims stood still with Muhammad (PBUH), but Shia sect is the only religion which maintains eternally the link of Divine guidance between Allah and his creation, and continually keeps alive the union of Succession (ولایت). With the seal of prophet hood among the latter, they admit of no further link being maintained between the Creator and creation. Only the Shia faith believes that the prophet hood ended with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but that Succession (ولایت), which is this link of guidance and progression, continues to live after him and forever. Indeed, only among the Shia does this reality between the world of man and the Divinity remain forever.”
Necessity of Existence of Imam Mahdi (PBUH)
In Shia philosophy the existence of the redeemer is rationally necessary. Muhammad Hussain Tabatabaii, one of the most prominent thinkers of philosophy and contemporary Shia Islam, addresses the issue as follows: “As a result of the law of general guidance which governs all of creation, man is of necessity endowed with the power of receiving revelation through prophecy, which directs him toward the perfection of the human norm and the well-being of the human species. Obviously, if this perfection and happiness were not possible for man, whose life possesses a social aspect, the very fact that he is endowed with his power would be meaningless and futile. But there is no futility in creation.”
In other words, ever since he has inhabited the earth, man has had the wish to lead a social life filled with happiness in its true sense and has striven toward this end. If such a wish were not to have an objective existence it would never have been imprinted upon man’s inner nature, in the same way that if there were not food there would have been no hunger. Or if there were to be no water there would be no thirst and if there were to be no reproduction there would have been no sexual attraction between the sexes.
Therefore, by reason of inner necessity and determination, the future will see a day when human society will be replete with justice and when all will live in peace and tranquility, when human beings will be fully possessed of virtue and perfection. The establishment of such a condition will occur through human hands but with Divine succor. And the leader of such a society, who will be the savior of man, is called in the language of the Hadith, the Mahdi (PBUH).
In the different religions that govern the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam there are references to a person who will come as the savior of mankind. These religions have usually given happy tidings of his coming, although there are naturally certain differences in detail that can be discerned when these teachings are compared carefully. The Hadith of Prophet Muhammad upon which all Muslims agree, “The Mahdi is of my progeny,” refers to this same truth.
The opponents of Shia Islam protest that according to the beliefs of this school the Hidden Imam should by now be nearly twelve centuries old, whereas this is impossible for any human being. In answer it must be said that the protest is based only on the unlikelihood of such an occurrence, not its impossibility. Of course such a long lifetime or a life of a longer period is unlikely. But those who study the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad and the Imams will see that they refer to this life as one possessing miraculous qualities.
Miracles are certainly not impossible nor can they be negated through scientific arguments. It can never be proved that the causes and agents that are functioning in the world are solely those that we see and know and that other causes which we do not know or whose effects and actions we have not seen nor understood do not exist. It is in this way possible that in one or several members of mankind there can be operating certain causes and agents which bestow upon them a very long life of a thousand or several thousand years. Medicine has not even lost hope of discovering a way to achieve very long life spans. In any case such protests from “peoples of the Book” such as Jews, Christians and Muslims are most strange for they accept the miracles of the prophets of Allah according to their own sacred scriptures.
The opponents of Shia Islam also protest that, although Shia Islam considers the Imam necessary in order to expound the injunctions and verities of religion and to guide the people, the occultation of the Imam is the negation of this very purpose, for an Imam in occultation who cannot be reached by mankind cannot be in any way beneficial or effective. The opponents say that if Allah wills to bring forth an Imam to reform mankind He is able to create him at the necessary moment and does not need to create him thousands of years earlier. In answer it must be said that such people have not really understood the meaning of the Imam. The duty of the Imam is not only the formal explanation of the religious sciences and exoteric guidance of the people. In the same way that he has the duty of guiding men outwardly, the Imam also bears the function of Succession of the Prophet and the esoteric guidance of men. It is he who directs man’s spiritual life and orients the inner aspect of human action toward Allah. Clearly, his physical presence or absence has no effect in this matter. The Imam watches over men inwardly and is in communion with the soul and spirit of men even if he be hidden from their physical eyes. His existence is always necessary even if the time has not yet arrived for his outward appearance and the universal reconstruction that he is to bring about.