This is an account of the Imam after al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on them, the date of his birth, the evidence for his Imamate, the age he reached, together with the period of his succession, the time and cause of his death, the place of his grave, the number of his children and a selection from the reports about him.
(This is) an account of the Imam after al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on them,
the date of his birth, the evidence for his Imamate, the age he reached,
(together with) the period of his succession, the time and cause of his death,
the place of his grave, the number of his children and a selection from the
reports about him.
The Imam after al-Husayn b. Ali, peace be on them, was his son, Abu Muhammad Ali
b. al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin, peace be on them. He also had the kunya Abu al-Hasan.
His mother was Shahzanan daughter of Yazdigard b. Shahriyar b. Choesroe. Her
name was also said to be Shahrbanawayh. The Commander of the faithful, peace be
on him, had appointed Hurayth b. Jabir al-Hanafi over part of the eastern
provinces. The latter had sent to him two daughters of Yazdigard b. Shahryar b.
Choesroe. Of these he had given his son al-Husayn, peace be on him, Shahzanan
and she bore him Zayn al-‘Abidin (Ali b. al-Husayn), peace be on him. He had
given the other to Muhammad b. Abi Bakr and she bore him al-Qasim b. Muhammad b.
Abi Bakr, so that these two (Zayn al-Abidin and al-Qasim) were maternal cousins.
Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, was born in Medina in the year 38 A.H.
(658/9). He lived with his grandfather, the Commander of the faithful, peace be
on him, for two years, with his uncle, al- Hasan, peace be on him, for twelve
years, and with his father, al- Husayn, peace be on him, for twenty-three years.
After his father, he lived a further thirty-four years and he died in Medina in
the year 95 A.H. (713/4). At that time he was fifty-seven years of age. His
Imamate was for thirty-four years. He was buried in al-Baqi with his uncle, al-Hasan
b. Ali, peace be on them.
His Imamate was confirmed in several ways. One of these was that he was the most
meritorious (afdal) of the creatures of God, the Most High, after his father in
traditional knowledge film) and practice (‘amal). The Imamate belongs to the
most meritorious (afdal) to the exclusion of the less meritorious (mafdul) by
rational proofs. Among these there was the fact that he was more appropriate for
authority by virtue of his father, al-Husayn, peace be on him, and more entitled
to his position after him through his merit and lineage. The one who was
entitled through the last Imam has more right to his position than anyone else
through the evidence of the verse of next of kin (dhu al-arham) and the
(Qur’anic) story of Zacharia, peace be on him.
Another of (the facts which confirms his Imamate) is the necessity according to
reason of the Imamate existing in every age. The claim of every (other) claimant
to the Imamate during the time of Ali b. al- Husayn, peace be on them, was
invalid and the impossibility of there being any time without an Imam is
confirmed by him (being the Imam). Another (of the facts which confirms his
Imamate) is the fact that the Imamate is established in the offspring (itra) (of
the family of Ali exclusively by rational deduction and by a report on the
authority of the Prophet, may God bless him and his family. Invalidity of the
arguments of those who claim it for Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, may God be pleased
with him, through him (also) belonging to the offspring is established by the
absence of the designation of it to him. Therefore it is established that it
belongs to Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, since there was no claim for it
for any other member of the offspring (of the family) except Muhammad, may God
be pleased with him; his exclusion from it was on account of what we have
Another (of the facts which confirmed his Imamate) was the designation of the
Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, of him for the Imamate, in the
tradition which is related concerning the tablet (lawh) which Jabir reported on
the authority of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family. Muhammad
b. Ali al- Baqir, peace be on them, (also) related it on the authority of his
father, on the authority of his grandfather, on the authority of Fatima,
daughter of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family.
His grandfather, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, designated him
during the life-time of his father, al-Husayn, peace be on him, according to the
reports which include that. The testamentary bequests (wasiyya) (were made) by
his father, al- Husayn b. Ali, peace be on him, and they were deposited with Umm
Salama for him. He received them when his father died. His father made the
request (for these) from Umm Salama, the sign of the Imamate of the one who
should request them among men. This part may be known by the examination of the
reports and we do not intend in this book to speak about its significance for we
will study it thoroughly separately.
A Brief Survey of the Reports about Ali b. al-Husayn, Peace be on them.[Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. Muhammad b. Yahya informed me: my grandfather (Yahya
b. al-Hasan) told us: Idrss b. Muhammad b. Yahya b. Abd Allah b. Hasan b. Hasan,
Ahmad b. Abd Allah b. Musa, and Ismail b. Yaqub, all told me: Abd Allah b. Musa
told us on the authority of his father (Musa b. Abd Allah), on the authority of
his grandfather (Abd Allah b. al-Hasan), who said:]
My mother, Fatima, daughter of al-Husayn, peace be on him, used to tell me to
sit with my maternal uncle, Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them. I never sat with
him without rising with some good which I had derived from him, whether it was
fear of God which occurred in my heart when I realised (what) fear of God (was)
or some traditional knowledge (ilm) which I acquired from him.
grandfather (Yahya b. al-Hasan), on the authority of Muhammad b. Maymun al-Bazzaz,
who said: Sufyan b. Uyayna informed us on the authority of Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri,
Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, who was the best Hashimi we ever met, said:
"Love us, for it is love for Islam. May your love for us never cease even if it
becomes a public disgrace."
I heard my father say: "I have never seen a Hashimi more meritorious (afdal)
than Ali b. al-Husayn."
b. al-Hasan) told me Abu Muhammad al- Ansari told me: Muhammad b. Maymun al-Bazzaz
told me: al-Hasan b. Alwan told us on the authority of Abu Ali Ziyad b. Rustum,
on the authority of Sai’d b. Kulthum who said:]
I was with al-Sadiq Jafar b. Muhammad, peace be on them. He mentioned the
Commander of the faithful, Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be on him, and praised and
extolled him with (praise) which he was worthy of. Then he said: "O God, Ali b.
Abi Talib, peace be on him, never ate anything forbidden in this world until he
passed along his (final) road. Two alternatives were never presented to him,
when God would be pleased with both, without him taking the more religious of
them. No dispute occurred about the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his
family, without him being summoned as a reliable authority. No one else of this
community was able to do the work of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and
his family; for if he enjoined (such a) man (as Ali) to work, his position would
be between Heaven and Hell, hoping for the reward of the former and fearing the
punishment of the latter. He freed a thousand slaves with his own money in his
desire to seek the face of God and to escape the fire of Hell, (money) which he
had laboured for with his own hands and for which his own brow had sweated, even
though it had been to provide his family with oil, vinegar and dates. He did not
have (many) clothes except white cotton fabrics since when there was any sleeve
left over his arm, he called for scissors and cut it off.
None of Ali’s children or his family was more like him and nearer to him in
manner of dress and understanding than Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them. (One
day) his son, Abu Jafar (Muhammad al-Baqir), peace be on them, came to him. He
had carried out in worship what no one had ever carried out. He saw that his
colour had gone yellow from weeping all night; his eyes had used up all their
water from being awake all night; his forehead was bruised and his nose squashed
from prostrating; and his legs and feet were swollen from standing in prayer.
Abu Jafar, peace be on him, reported:
I could not control myself from weeping when I saw him in that state and I wept,
may God have mercy on him. Behold, he was thinking and he turned to me a short
time after I had come and said: ‘My son, give me some of those parchments in
which there is the (practice of) worship of Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be on him."
I gave them to him and he read something from them for a while. Then he let them
go from his hand in exasperation and said: ‘Who is strong enough to perform the
worship of Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be on him?’
When Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, used to perform ritual ablutions, his
skin would turn yellow.
"What is it that has afflicted you?" his family asked him.
"Don’t you know Whom you are preparing to stand before?" he asked.[Amr b. Shamir reported on the authority of Jabir al-Jufi on the authority of
Abu Jafar, peace be on him:]
Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, used to pray a thousand rakas during the day
and the night. The wind would bend (his body) forward like an ear of corn.
The great merit (fadl) of Ali b. Husayn, peace be on them, was mentioned to him
but he replied: "It is sufficient for us that I should be one of the righteous
members of our people."
grandfather (Yahya b. al-Hasan), on the authority of Salama b. Shabib, on the
authority of Ubayd Allah b. Muhammad al-Taymi who said: I heard a shaykh from
(the tribe of) Abd al-Qays say: Tawus said:]
I (i.e.Tawus) went into the hijr one night and there was Ali b. al-Husayn, peace
be on them. He had come in and was standing praying. He prayed as God had wished
then he prostrated. I asked a righteous man from the family of goodness whether
I might listen to his prayer I heard him saying during his prostration:
Your little servant is at Your courtyard; Your miserable one is at Your
courtyard: Your poor one is at Your courtyard; Your beggar is at Your courtyard.
(Tawus added:) I have never prayed with these words at any tribulation without
me being freed from it.
grandfather (Yahya b. al-Hasan), on the authority of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Rafi’i,
on the authority of Ibrahim b. Ali on the authority of his father (Ali b. Abi
Rafi’i), who said:]
I (i.e. Ali b. Abi Rafi’i) made the pilgrimage with Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be
on them. The camel carrying him was moving slowly. He pointed toward it with his
stick and then said: "Woe if there was no retaliation (in the next world) !" And
he moved his hand away from it.
Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, made the pilgrimage on foot and he took
twenty days to travel from Medina to Mecca.
told us: Ammar b. Aban told us: Abd Allah b. Bukayr told us on the authority of
Zurara b. A’yan who said that:]
He (Zurara b. Ayan) heard a voice calling in the middle of the night: "Where are
those who abstain with regard to this world out of desire for the next?" A voice
called out in answer from the region (of the cemetery) of al-Baqi – he heard its
voice without seeing the person
"Such a man is Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them."[Abd al-Razzaq reported on the authority of Mamar on the authority of al-Zuhri,
I have never seen any of that House, meaning the House of the Prophet, may God
bless him and his family, more meritorious (afdal) than Ali b. al- Husayn, peace
be on them.
told me: Abu Yunus Muhammad b. Ahmad told us: my father and another of our
companions told me:]
A young man from Quraysh was sitting in an assembly with Sa’d b. al-Musayyib and
saw Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them.
"Who is that, Abu Muhammad?" the Qurash; asked Sa’id b. al- Musayyib.
"That is the lord of worshippers (abidin), Ali b. al-Husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib,
peace be on them," he answered.
told me: Muhammad b. Jafar and others told me:]
A man from his House stood in front of Ali b. al- Husayn, peace be on them, and
made him listen to him and cursed him. However, he did not reply. When (the man)
had gone away, he said to those who were sitting with him: "You heard what that
man said? I want you to come with me so that you may hear from me my reply to
"We will do that," they replied, "we wanted you to answer him while we were
He took his shoes and went, while reciting:
Those who refrain from anger and those who forgive the people, God loves those
who do good. (III 133)
Then we knew that he would not say anthing to him.
He went along until he came to the house of that man who had screamed at him.
"This is Ali b. al-Husayn," they told him.
He came rushing out towards us with evil intent. He had no doubt that (Ali b.
al-Husayn) had come to him to repay him for some of the evil which he had given
"Brother," said Ali b. al-Husayn, "you were standing proudly over me and you
said this and that. If you have said what is (really) in my (character), I seek
God’s forgiveness for it. If you have said what is not in my character, may God
The man kissed him between the eyes and replied: "Yes, I said what was not in
your character, may I be worthy of it (i.e. God’s forgiveness)".
be pleased with him. [Al-Hasan b. Muhammad informed me on the authority of his grandfather, (Yahya b.
al-Hasan) who said: A Shaykh from Yemen who was some ninety years old, told me:
A man called Ubayd Allah b. Muhammad informed me: I heard Abd al-Razzaq say:]
A maid-servant of Ali b. al-Husayn began to pour water for him so that he might
perform the ritual ablutions for prayer. The maid-servant became faint and the
jug dropped from her hand and struck him. He raised his head towards her and the
maidservant said to him:
"God, the Most High, says: Those who restrain from anger."
"I have restrained my anger," he replied.
"And those who forgive the people," she went on.
"May God forgive you," he said.
"God loves those who do good," she said.
"Go, you are a free woman before the face of God, the Mighty and High," he
Hisham b. Isma’il used to harm our neighbourhood. Ali b. al- Husayn, peace be on
them, received severe hardship from him. When he was dismissed, al-Walid ordered
that he should be made to stand before the people. Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on
them, walked past him and greeted him. Ali b. al-H. usayn, peace be on them, had
come especially so that no one should harm him.
It is reported that Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, called his slave twice
and the latter did not answer him. At the third time, he answered.
"Didn’t you hear my voice?" asked (Ali b. al-Husayn).
"Yes," was the reply.
"What was on your mind so that you did not answer me?" he asked.
"I was safe (from any harm) from you," he answered.
"Praise be to God," he said, "Who has caused my slave to be safe (from any harm)
al-Hasan) toid me: Yaqub b. Yazid told us: Ibn Abi Umayr told us on the
authority of Abd Allah b. al-Mughira, on the authority of Abu Ja’far al-Asha, on
the authority of Abu Hamza al-Thumali, on the authority of Ali b. al-Husayn,
peace be on them, who said:]
I (i.e. Ali b. al-Husayn) went out until I came to that wall and leaned against
it. There was a man wearing two white garments who was looking at me directly in
the face. Then he said: "Ali b. al-Husayn, why do I see you sorrowful and sad?
Is your sorrow on account of the world, since God provides for both the pious
and the profligate?"
"I am not sad on account of that though it is as you say," I replied.
"Is it on account of the next world, for it is a true promise that there
conquering angels will give judgement?" he asked.
"I am not sad on account of that. though it is as you say," I answered.
"Then why are you sad?" he asked.
"I am fearful of the discord (caused) by Ibn al-Zubayr," I replied
He laughed and said: "Ali b. al-Husayn, have you ever seen anyone who trusted in
God and God was not sufficient for him?"
"No," I replied.
"Ali b. al-Husayn," he said, "have you ever seen anyone who feared God without
God saving him?"
"No," I replied.
"Ali b. al-Husayn," he asked, "have you ever seen anyone ask (for something) of
God without God giving it to him?"
"No," I replied. Then I looked and suddenly there was no one here .[Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. Muhammad informed me: my grandfather (Yahya b. al-Hasan)
told us: Abu Nasr told us: Abd al- Rahman b. Salih. told us: Yunus b. Bukayr
told us on the authority of Ibn Ishaq, who said:]
There was in Medina such and such a family. Their provisions used to come to
them without them asking for them. They did not know >From where they came to
them. However, when Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, died, they stopped
told me: Abu Nasr told us: Muhammad b. Ali b. Abd Allah told us: my father told
me: Abd Allah b. Harun told us: Umar b. Dinar told me:]
Death was close to Zayd b. Usama b. Zayd and he began to weep.
"What makes you weep?" asked Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them.
"What makes me weep," he said, "is the fact that I owe fifteen thousand dlnars
and I have not left anything to fulfil the debt for them."
"Do not weep," Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, told him, "they are my debt
now and you are free of them." So he paid them for him.
When Abd al-Malik b. Marwan succeeded to the caliphate, he returned the
(proportion of) taxes (sadaqat) given to the Apostle of God, may God bless him
and his family, to Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, and also (the proportion
of) taxes (sadaqat) given to Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be on him. They were both
written down (in the diwan as going to Ali b. al-Husayn). Umar b. Ali went to
Abd al-Malik and complained to him on behalf of himself. Abd al-Malik replied,
"I can only use the words of Ibn Abi al-Huqayq:
Indeed when claims of desire are put forward, the listener listens to the
The people wrestle with their hearts but we are judging with a just and decisive
We do not make the false true, nor do we deny the true in favour of the false.
We fear that we would make our minds foolish and we would spend (our) time with
those without repute.
told me: Abu-Jafar Muhammad b. Isma’il told us:]
Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, made the pilgrimage and the people were
shouting about his comely disposition and looking at him. They began to question
each other: "Who is that? Who is that?"
(They were doing this) in magnification of him and in exaltation of his rank.
Al-Farazdaq was there and he composed the following, saying:
This is he whose ability the valley (of Mecca) recognises, and whom the (Sacred)
House recognises (as do) the sanctuary and the area outside the sanctuary
This is the son of the best of all God’s servants. This is the pure pious man,
the pure eminent man.
When he comes to touch the corner of the wall of the Ka’ba, it almost grasps the
palm of his hand.
He takes care to be modest and he is protected from his terror.
He only speaks when he smiles.
None of mankind has within their souls such primacy as he does nor such grace as
Whoever knows God, knows his friend (wali). Religion is from the House of this
When Quraysh saw him, their spokesmen told of the outstanding qualities of this
man which indicate (his) nobility.
grandfather, (Yahya b. al-Hasan) who said: Dawud b. al-Qasim told us: Al-Husayn
b. Zayd told us on the authority of his uncle, Umar b. Ali, on the authority of
his father Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them:]
(Ali b. al-Husayn) used to say: "I have never seen similar preference (given to)
a prayer (than this prayer). The worshipper will never pray without an answer
coming to him on every occasion."
It was one of the prayers learned from him, peace be on him, when it was learned
that Musrif b. Uqba was heading towards Medina.
My Lord, however much favour You have bestowed upon me, my thanks to You for it
have been little. However much testing You have given me, my endurance in the
face of it has been little. O He who receives little thanks from me for His
favour, let Him not deprive me. O He Who receives little endurance from me when
He tests me, let Him not desert me. O Possessor of unceasing kindness ! O
Possessor of incalculable favours, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad;
ward off the evil (of man) from me so that I may find protection through You
amid (man’s) slaughter. I seek refuge with You from (man’s) evil.
Musrif b. Uqba came to Medina. It was said that he did not have any hostility
towards Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them. He greeted him, honoured him, was
generous to him and gave gifts to him.
The account from another source is that when Musrif b. Uqba came to Medina, he
sent for Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them. The latter went to him. When he
came to him, he honoured him and said:
"The Commander of the faithful (i.e. Yazid) has enjoined me to show goodness and
generosity towards you, to distinguish you from the others."
So he treated him very well. Then he said to those who were around him: "Saddle
my mule for him.
Then he said to him: "Go to your family. I see that we have filled them with
fear when we made you come to us. If that with which we might increase your gift
according to your right, were in our hands, we would give it to you."
"Do not apologise for the ruler (amir) to me," said Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be
on them and rode away.
"That is the best of men," said Musrif to those who were sitting with him.
"There is no evil in him because of his position and rank from the Apostle of
God, may God bless him and his family.
The account has been reported that one day Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them,
was in the mosque of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, when
he heard some people describing God in terms of His creation. He became fearful
and frightened of that. He rose and went to the tomb of the Apostle of God, may
God bless him and his family. He stood before it and raised his voice to talk to
his Lord. He said in his conversation to Him:
My God, Your power has been shown but the form of Your Majesty has not been
shown. They are ignorant of You and they try to estimate You on the basis of
what You are not, and they make comparisons with You. O my God, I renounce those
who seek to discover You through human comparisons. My God, there is nothing
like You, and they have not become aware of You. It is clear that the favour
which they have is their evidence for You, if they would (choose to) know You in
Your creation, My God, I am free from the fact that they should give You (these
characteristics). Indeed they have pictured You according to Your creation. Thus
they do not know You and have adopted some of Your signs as (if they were their)
Lord. In that way they have attempted to describe You. May You be exalted, O my
God above the pictures of You of those who try to describe You in human terms.
This has been a sample of the accounts which are given about the virtues of Zayn
al-‘Abidin, peace be on him.