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Online Quran Academy - Islamic Mentors

Imam Zain ul Abideen (RA): A Life of Patience and Piety

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Biography

Hazrat Zain-ul-Abideen (RA) was born on 5th Shaban, 38 AH in Medina. His full name is Ali ibn Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, but he is also known as Zain ul Abideen (RA). He experienced many sorrowful events in his life, including witnessing the martyrdom of his father and many family members during the battle of Karbala.

Imam Zain ul Abideen (RA) was taught the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from a young age. He was known for being very smart, pious, and outstandingly characterful. His upbringing in a spiritual environment shaped him into a knowledgeable and righteous individual. He became committed to understanding and practicing his faith.

Family Tree

Here is a simplified family tree of Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA):

  • Father: Hazrat Imam Husayn ibn Ali (RA)
  • Mother: Hazrat Shahrbanu (RA)
  • Grandfather: Hazrat Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA)
  • Grandmother: Hazrat Fatimah Zahra bint Hazrat Muhammad (SAW)
  • Great-Grandfather: Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
  • Great-Grandmother: Hazrat Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (RA)
  • Uncles: Hazrat Imam Hasan ibn Ali (RA)

Siblings: Hazrat Zain ul Abideen had several siblings, though many were martyred at Karbala. Notable siblings include:

  • Hazrat Ali al-Akbar (RA)
  • Hazrat Ali al-Asghar (RA)
  • Hazrat Jafar (RA)
  • Hazrat Fatimah (RA)
  • Hazrat Sakinah (RA)

Wife: Hazrat Zain ul Abideen married multiple times. His notable spouse Hazrat Fatima bint Hasan bin Ali (RA). She was the daughter of Hazrat Imam Hasan (RA).

Children: Imam Zain ul Abideen had between fifteen children, perhaps eleven boys and four girls.

Sons:

  • Hazrat Muhammad al Baaqir (RA)
  • Hazrat Zaid (RA)
  • Hazrat Imran (RA)
  • Hazrat Abdullah (RA)
  • Hazrat AL Hassan (RA)
  • Hazrat AL Hussain (RA)
  • Hazrat AL Hussain Asghar (RA)
  • Hazrat Abdur Rahmaan (RA)
  • Hazrat Sulaiman (RA)
  • Hazrat Ali (RA)
  • Hazrat Muhammad (RA)

Daughters:

  • Hazrat Khadija (RA),
  • Hazrat Fathima (RA),
  • Hazrat Aliyah (RA),
  • Hazrat Umm Kulthoom (RA)

Titles of Hazrat Ali bin Husayn (RA)

Hazrat Ali bin Husayn (RA) had many titles, but two of the most common are:


Zainul Abideen (The Adornment of the Worshippers)

He earned the title “Zainul Abideen” due to his strong devotion to worship and righteousness. His deep spirituality and commitment to worship made him a role model for others. He was known not only for his prayers but also for his humble, merciful, and honest behavior. Hazrat Zainul Abideen’s (RA) life was a testament to his continuous remembrance of Allah (SWT) and his firm commitment to Islamic principles. This dedication led to significant respect within the Muslim community.


Al-Sajjad (The Prostrating One)

He is also known as Al-Sajjad, which means “The Prostrating One.” He earned this title because of his regular and frequent prostrations (sujood) during prayers. His faith was evident when he stayed in this position, demonstrating his strong connection to Allah (SWT). The marks on his forehead from regular prostrations showed his sincere and regular worship. His deep commitment to this aspect of prayer highlighted his spiritual strength and earned deep respect among Muslims.


The Battle of Karbala

Zain al-Abideen (ra) was sick during the Battle of Karbala, and due to illness, he did not take part in the Battle. Historical accounts mention that Hazrat Hussain (RA) visited his sick son, who was asleep during the battle. Hazrat Hussain (RA) woke up Zain al-Abideen (RA) and told him that the Battle of Karbala was almost over. He said he was going back to martyrdom for the sake of Islam. In these last sensitive moments, Hazrat Hussain (RA) transferred the Imamate (spiritual guidance of humankind) to Zain al-Abideen (RA).

For more information about the Battle of Karbala, visit this link: The Battle of Karbala: A Tragic Chapter in Islamic History.


Speeches of Hazrat Zain ul Abideen

In Kufa

After the Battle of Karbala, Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) and Hazrat Zainab (RA), along with the surviving family members, were taken, imprisoned, and brought to Kufa. As they entered the city, the residents seemed surprised by their appearance. Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) noticed that the residents of Kufa did not recognize them, which surprised him because they were usually not so lighthearted. He gestured for silence with his hand, and everyone quieted down to listen. Then, Imam Zain ul Abideen (RA) spoke out:

“People of Kufa! I am Ali, the son of Imam Husayn (RA), the grandson of Hazrat Ali (RA) and Hazrat Fatimah (RA), and the child of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I am the son of the Imam whose sons were killed, whose belongings were taken, and whose family is now held captive before you. You invited my father here, only to betray and kill him. What will you say to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (SAW) on the Day of Judgment? Your actions have dishonored the Prophet (SAW) and wronged his spirit. Woe unto you, for your deeds are disgraceful.”

With these powerful words, Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) initiated a sense of righteousness for those present. His speech hit their hearts, bringing tears and changing the celebration atmosphere among the Umayyad rule’s supporters into sorrow and guilt.


In the Court of Ibn-e-Zaid

Following their arrival in Kufa, the surviving family of Imam Husayn (RA) was brought before the governor, Ibn Ziyad. The son of Ziad, known for his unclean and showy manners, gathered all the nobles of Kufa to claim his power and threaten them. He wanted to silence the argument and set an example of what would happen to those who opposed him. When the remaining family of Hazrat Husayn (RA) was brought in, everyone present stared at them in wonder, ignoring Ibn-e-Ziad.

Ibn-e-Ziad was furious, but he couldn’t show his anger openly. Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) addressed him, saying,

“Oh, son of Ziad! Today, you sit in power while the Prophet’s (SAW) children stand before you. Know that you hold no value in our eyes.”

These words greatly affected Ibn-e-Ziad, leaving him shocked and started their threats. He even ordered Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) to be killed, but objections from the prisoners and those present stopped him. Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (ra) calmly told him, “Do not frighten me with death. Know that martyrdom is our honor and destiny.”

Ibn-e-Ziad, confused and unsure of his next move, finally ordered the prisoners to be removed from the Kufa as quickly as possible.


In the Court of Yazid

The family and relatives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who were tired and sorrowed, were all brought into the court of Yazid. They behaved towards Yazid as they had behaved towards Ibn-e-Ziad, paying him no attention. In response, Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (ra) raised his head and said,

“You, who claim to be Muslim, tell us, what would the Prophet (SAW) do and say if he saw us in this condition, being held prisoners by you?”

This strong sentence of Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) made those present weep, and Yazid was ashamed.

And that woke him up from the deep sleep of drunkenness. He knew that if he detained the remaining family of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for a few more moments, a revolt would start. This would ultimately lead to his life to an end. He looked this way and that way to find a way out to get himself cleared of the crimes.

Suddenly, he shouted and said, “Curse of God be upon Ibn-e-Ziad. I was not in favor of killing Hazrat Husayn (RA) and taking his remaining family as prisoners. But then it was all over; water had crossed the bridges, and everyone knew he was the real criminal.


Return to Madinah and His Contribution

After being released from imprisonment, Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) returned to Medina, where he lived for the rest of his life. His return marked a new chapter dedicated to spiritual and educational efforts. Despite the significant personal losses and the events of Karbala, he committed himself to the betterment of the Muslim community and the preservation of Islamic teachings.


Sahifa Sajjadiya (The Psalms of Islam)

Hazrat Zain ul Abideen’s most significant contribution was compiling a collection of supplications and prayers known as “Sahifa Sajjadiya.” This work is considered a masterwork of Islamic spirituality and theology. The prayers cover many topics, including thankfulness, repentance (Tawbah), seeking guidance, and social justice. The Sahifa Sajjadiya remains an essential spiritual resource for Muslims, reflecting the deep wisdom and righteousness of Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA).


Maintaining the Legacy of Karbala

Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) made significant efforts to keep Karbala’s memory alive. Through his teachings and personal example, he conveyed the principles of sacrifice, opposition against injustice. The commitment to faith—the same principles that his father, Hazrat Husayn (RA), and the martyrs of Karbala represented.

He ensured that the lessons of Karbala were passed down to future generations, supporting the values of justice and righteousness.


How Did Imam Zain ul Abideen Die?

Hazrat Ali bin Husayn passed away on the 25th of Muharram in the year 95 AH (approximately October 713 CE) in Medina. He was around 57 years old at the time of his death. It is widely believed that his death was a result of poisoning, reportedly produced by the Umayyad caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik. This belief is strongly held among Shia Muslims. Imam Zain ul Abideen (RA) was laid to rest in the Jannat al-Baqi graveyard in Medina, which also houses the graves of many Sahaba and other members of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) family.


Conclusion

The life and legacy of Hazrat Zain ul Abideen (RA) serve as a timeless example of living a life rooted in faith, strength, and mercy. His ability to transform personal suffering into a source of spiritual strength and guidance for others displays his unique character. His contributions continue to inspire Muslims worldwide, providing hope and motivation.

Imam Zain ul Abideen’s (RA) life reminds us of the ongoing power of faith and highlights the significance of standing up for justice. His commitment to spiritual and moral principles deeply impacted the community. His legacy encourages us to seek a deeper connection with our faith. It inspires us to represent the principles of compassion, humility, and integrity in our daily lives.

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