Martyrdom of the 4th Imam
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).
The following is a feature on the great-grandson and 4th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
He was the victim of the accursed self-styled Omayyad caliph, Waleed I, who afraid of doing open physical harm to the Prophet’s Heir, took his life by administering a fatal dose of poison through his agents in Medina. Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) was 57 years old when he departed from the mortal world and was laid to eternal rest in the sacred Baqee Cemetery besides his uncle and father-in-law, Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS), the elder grandson of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Before we present a special feature, titled “Martyrdom of the 4th Imam”, we invite you to listen to a unique supplication in the Divine Court:
“For the sake of Yaseen (Prophet Muhammad) and the Wise Qur’an;
“And for the sake of Ta-Ha (Prophet Muhammad) and the Great Qur’an;
“O He Who has the power to grant the needs of the beseechers;
“O He Who knows what is in the heart;
“O Provider of relief to the sorrowful;
“O Dispeller of grief from the distressed;
“O Merciful toward the aged;
“O Sustainer of infants;
“O He Who needs no explanation;
“Shower blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny and grant me… (mention your wishes)”
The supplication to God which you heard is self-explanatory. It shows the certitude of the suppliant when beseeching the Lord Most High, Who is nearer to us than our own jugular vein and Whose infinite power saves us from despondency through strengthening of faith and sowing of satisfaction regarding Divine Wisdom and whatever providence has decreed for us.
The narrator of these wonderful keys to Divine Mercy is none other than the Survivor of history’s most heartrending tragedy, who, during his 34-year mission, left no stone unturned to nurture the sapling of Islam back to life.
This dynamic supplication was bequeathed to him at a very critical juncture, when he was sick and bedridden on the epic day of Ashura (10th Muharram 61 AH). His father, Imam Husain (AS), yearning for martyrdom on the battlefield after having drawn the permanent line between truth and falsehood, sat beside him, held his hand, pressed it against his own chest, and bade him farewell, with the words:
“O son! I am teaching you a du’a which you should remember. Archangel Gabriel brought it to my Grandfather the Messenger of Allah (SAWA) who passed it to my mother Fatema (SA). Whenever you have a special need or are faced with any calamity or crisis, or are inflicted with any grief or hardship, then recite this supplication.”
This supplication indeed proved an impenetrable shield for Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) throughout the agonizing days of his captivity following the Tragedy of Karbala, giving him strength to endure with patience the hardship of the arduous journey to Kufa and thence to Damascus in chains, with the heads of the martyrs mounted on lances, and with the noble women and children of his household in fetters.
First and foremost, it saved his life on the equally tragic evening of Ashura when, after torching the encampment of the Prophet’s Ahl-al-Bayt, some of the bloodthirsty killers of his father unsheathed their swords to shed his blood as well, but were prevented thanks to prevailing of wiser counsel.
What a sorrowful moment it was, when on the 11th of Muharram his captors tied him on a camel and deliberately took him to the spot on the battlefield where his father’s headless body lay without burial.
It was indeed a heartbreaking moment for the 23-year old youth; but for his profound faith in God Almighty it seemed as he would die of a shock.
The next day death again loomed large when in Kufa the main perpetrator of the Tragedy of Karbala, Obaidullah ibn Ziyad, the Omayyad governor of Iraq, on learning the son of Imam Husain (AS) had survived the bloodbath, wanted to kill him, but was dissuaded.
In Damascus, Yazid mocked at the noble captives and blasphemously poked a stick at the teeth of the severed head of Imam Husain (AS), before yielding to the demand of the court to allow the sole grown-up male Survivor of the Tragedy of Karbala to speak. When the young Imam delivered an eloquent sermon that exposed Omayyad villainy, the tyrant threatened to kill him, but was unable to carry out his threat.
On release from captivity in Syria, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) returned to his hometown Medina and busied himself in his own novel way of enlightening the masses and holding aloft the torch of guidance, as caliphs rose and fell in Syria, 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 – once attempting to burn alive all male members of the Hashemite clan, but was foiled in his attempt.
The 4th Imam, however, dauntlessly discharged his divine duties, often through the medium of supplications in the Divine Court. 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.
This was Imam Ali Zayn al-Abedin (AS), the Ornament of the Worshippers, the son and successor Imam Husain (AS) and the grandson of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). If his mother was Shahrbano, the virtuous Princess of Persia, his grandmother was the noblest ever lady of all times, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA), whom the holy Qur’an calls “Kowthar” (Spring of Perpetual Abundance.
No wonder, poets have hailed him as “Ibn al-Khiyaratain” or Son of the Two Most Excellent Ones.
Although Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) always remembered with tears the bloodcurdling martyrdom of his father and kith and kin, he was neither a recluse from the society nor spent his life in despondency and disappointment. He used to say:
“We, descendants of the Noble Prophet of Islam, have been trained from childhood to face afflictions and sufferings. We know that those who are loved by Allah are tried by Him and if they remain steadfast and true to their faith in Him, then only He bestows His Divine favors on them in the life hereafter which is permanent and not transitory like this worldly life.”
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 magnanimously 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.
Without the least doubt, his immortal legacy to the seekers of truth remain the prayer-supplication manual “Sahifat-as-Sajjadiya” and the Treatise on Rights titled “Risalat al-Hoqouq” which modern scholars consider more perfect that the UN Charter of Human Rights. If the “Sahifat-as-Sajjadiyya”, whose flawless Arabic, timeless wisdom, scientific realities, the Almighty’s Majesty and mankind’s humility, continues to captivate the hearts of even those whom circumstances made unacquainted with the dynamism path of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, the “Risalat al-Hoqouq” gives a diligent definition of all kinds of rights, including the rights of our bodily organs upon us.
In this way, the 4th Imam waged a unique Jihad that continues to inspire the seekers of truth.