The Fourth Imam: Ali Ibn Al-Husayn Zaynu'l-`Abidin (Peace be on him)
Agnomen: Abu Muhammad.
Father's name: al-Husayn Sayyidu'sh-Shuhada'.
Mother's name: Shahr Banu, daughter of Yazdeger III, the King of Persia.
Birth: In Medina, on Saturday, 15th Jumadi '1-ula 36 AH.
Death: Died at the age of 58, in Medina; poisoned by al-Walid ibn `Abdi'1-Malik
ibn Marwan on 25th Muharram 95 AH; buried in Jannatu '1-Baqi', in Medina.
The Holy Imam `Ali Zaynu'1-Abidin is the Fourth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Muhammad and was popularly titled as "Zaynu'1-Abidin". The mother of this Holy Imam was the royal personage, Shahr Banu, the daughter of King Yazdeger, the last pre-Islamic Ruler of Persia.
Imam Zaynu'1-`Abidin spent the first two years of his infancy in the lap of his grandfather `Ali ibn Abi Talib and then for twelve years he had the gracious patronage of his uncle, the second Holy Imam al-Hasan ibn `Ali. In 61 AH, he was present in Karbala', at the time of the gruesome tragedy of the wholesale massacre of his father, his uncles, his brothers, his cousins and all the godly comrades of his father; and suffered a heartless captivity and imprisonment at the hands of the devilish forces of Yazid.
The Holy Imam Zaynu'l-'Abidin lived for about thirty-four years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and supplication to Allah and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being in prayers to A11ah, mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was popularly called "Sajjad".
The knowledge and piety of this Holy Imam was matchless. az-Zuhri, al-Waqidi and Ibn `Uyaynah say that they could not find any one equal to him in piety and godliness. He was so mindful of Allah that whenever he sat for ablution for prayers, the complexion of his face would change and when he stood at prayer his body was seen trembling. When asked why this was, he replied, "Know ye not before whom I stand in prayer, and with whom I hold discourse?"
His charity was unassuming and hidden. After his passing away, the people said that hidden charity ended with the departure of this Holy Imam. Like his grandfather Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ali Zaynu'l-'Abidin used to carry on his own back at night bags of flour and bread for the poor and needy families in Medina and he so maintained hundred of poor families in the city.
The invaluable collection of his edited prayers are known as as-Sahifah al-Kamilah or as-Sahifah as-Sajjaddiyyah; it is known also as az-Zabur (Psalm) of Aal Muhammad. The collection is an invaluable treasury of wonderfully effective supplications to the Lord in inimitably beautiful language. Only those who have ever come across those supplications would know the excellence and the beneficial effect of these prayers. Through these prayers the Imam gave all the necessary guidance to the faithful during his seclusion.
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al-Imam `Ali ibn al-Husayn, peace be on him, said:
"Refrain from lying in all things, big or small, in seriousness or in jest. For when one starts lying in petty matters, soon he will have the audacity to lie in important matters (also).
"A man need not fear Allah except on account of his own sins, and should place his hopes only with his Lord. When about something one does not know, one should not be ashamed of having to learn about it. And patience is to faith what the head is to the body; one who does not have patience also lacks faith."
A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles
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