The unique Jihad of Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBUH)
Condolences to you on a doleful day. According to a version the 12th of Muharram is the day on which the Survivor of the heartrending tragedy of Karbala, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), attained martyrdom because of a fatal dose of poisoning in the year 95 AH, 34 years after the tragic martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS). Now we have a feature on the great-grandson and 4th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) as follows:
“Woe to you, O son of Adam. You are negligent but not neglected. Your death is the hastiest to you. It is approaching you with sure steps. It is targeting you and is about to hit you and you will soon take your age in full; the angel of death seizes your soul, and you will be alone in your grave. There, your soul will be given back to you and the two angels, namely Munkar and Nakeer, will enter your grave to examine and interrogate you…”
The passage which we recited to you is indeed food for thought. It reminds us of our eventual fate, even if we were to live for over a hundred years, because death is decreed for every living thing. Death, however, is not the end of existence, especially of the human soul. It is the path to “Barzakh” or the intermediary period in afterlife before Resurrection of the physical body on the Day of Judgement for the final fate. In other words, it is the passage traversed by all, and could be called the bridge to either the eternal bliss of paradise or the eternal damnation of hell. That is the reason the two angels interrogate every person immediately after death.
“Barzakh”, of course, has its own state of prosperity and perfidy. The All-Merciful God has made it the period of Grace for mankind, where rewards could be increased, faults could be forgiven or commuted, depending on the good works a person may have left behind, or anything good done on his/her behalf by offspring and friends.
These words of certitude were spoken by a person, who in a matter of a few hours had seen his brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, and finally father, gloriously court death in armed combat with the forces of evil, rather than give in to the illegal demands of an illegitimate regime.
The reason he himself did not meet death on the Day of Ashura, 61 AH, was because of the fact he was severely sick and bedridden, and thus unable to enter the battlefield for armed Jihad. Divine Providence had, however, kept him for another kind of Jihad, which he so admirably performed that to this day he is known as Zain al-Abedin or Ornament of the sincere worshippers of the One and Only God.
Born in the year 38 AH in Medina to the virtuous lady, Princess Shahrbano of Persia, that is, Iran, and named Ali by his father Imam Husain (AS) in honour of his own father, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), he was a youth of 23 years on the fateful day of Ashura in Karbala, when almost all male members of the Prophet’s Household were massacred by the bloodthirsty Omayyad hordes.
On the equally tragic evening of 10th Muharram 61 AH, he was taken prisoner by the Omayyad army, along with his wife, small son, sisters, young cousins, and aunts, including Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her), the indomitable granddaughter of the Prophet of Islam.
On the day following the bloodcurdling tragedy, he had a brush with death when it seemed his soul would depart from his body, as he motionlessly watched the dismembered and unburied corpse of his father, Imam Husain (AS), but could not do anything since he was bound with chains and fetters.
He lamented his helplessness to his aunt, who soothed and consoled him, for he was chosen by God for carrying the battle to the enemy camp. Thus started a novel way of Jihad for Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) that would soon rock the court of the tyrant Yazid in Damascus, where his sermons before audiences which included the Byzantine Christian ambassador, unnerved the self-styled caliph and made him release the Ahl al-Bayt from bondage in the Syrian capital.
For 34 years, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), as the 4th Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) held aloft the torch of guidance, as caliphs rose and fell in Damascus, while in Hijaz the imposter Abdullah Ibn Zubair made life torturous for the Prophet’s Household for ten long years from 63 AH to 73 AH – even once attempting to burn alive all male members of the Hashemite clan.
His supplications in the Divine Court and his “Munajaat” or Whispered Prayers, are indeed a treasure trove of wisdom that strengthens faith through proper cognizance of God Almighty and His Infinite Mercy, as well as matters pertaining to the wonders of creation, such as the weight of light, which were unthinkable those days and which modern science is beginning to discover in our own times with the help of technology and electronic gadgets. The 4th Imam was, however, no ascetic, and when the regime in Damascus was helpless in the face of pressures from the Byzantine Empire regarding supply of coins that were stamped with emblems of the Christian creed, he sent his son and eventual successor, Imam Mohammad al-Baqer (AS) to Syria to give the necessary advice and make arrangements for setting up of the first-ever mint in the Islamic realm, thus saving the faith of the Muslims and the drain of the bullion.
In 95 AH, the Survivor of the Tragedy of Karbala was eventually martyred – through poisoning – by the wretch Waleed ibn Abdul-Malik who masqueraded as caliph in Damascus. The 4th Imam left the mortal world, but not before ensuring that the pure and pristine legacy of the Prophet passed to his son Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS) and after him to his grandson Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS), who was 12-years old at the time of death of his grandfather.