Chapter 1 : Imam Ali Bin Husain (a.s.): Childhood
Imam Ali bin Husain (A.S), more known by his title Zainul Abidin than his actual name, is fourth Imam from the progeny of the Prophet Hazrat Muhammed (S.A.W.W). Like his father Imam Husain (A.S), his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and his grandfather Imam Ali (A.S) and the Prophet (S.A.W.W), he was a Masoom (He did not commit any mistake or sins).
He was born on 5th Shaban (or on 15th Jamadi-ul-Awaal) 38 A.H. (658 A.D) in Medina (some historians say he was born in Kufa).
His father was Hazrat Imam Husain (A.S) and his mother was Hazrat Sheherbanu. She was a princess from Iran. She was the daughter of Yazd gard II, the last king of Pre-Islamic Iran. Thus he was called "Ibn Al-Khiyaratyn". or the son of the best two meaning: The Quraysh from the Arabs and the Persians from non-Arabs.
The Muslims, at the time of Umar Khattab, captured Iran in 21 A.H. The ruler, however, was able to run away from Muslims; later he was killed. Several years later his two daughter's, Sheherbanu and Gayhanbanu were brought as prisoners-of-war at the time when Imam Ali (A.S) was the Caliph of the Muslims. They were sent to Imam Ali (A.S) by his governor, Haris bin Jabir Joafi.
Imam Ali (A.S) freed the two sisters. The elder one Sheherbanu (who was also known as Shahzanan, Sulafa, Ghazala and Sheherbanuya) was given in marriage to Imam Husain (A.S). The younger sister was given in marriage to Muhammed bin Abubakr. Sheherbanu gave birth to Imam Zainul Abidin (A. S) where as Gayhanban gave the birth to Kassim, whose daughter was later married to Imam Mohammed Baqr (A.S).
After her marriage to Imam Husain (A.S), she became very pious. She was regularly praying and g Allah for having brought her to a house in which mercy of Allah was coming every second.
It is reported that once a maid in her house showed pity to Sheherbanu saying that it must have been very hard for her to live in the house of Imam Husain (A.S), she having first lived the life of princess of Persia.
Sheherbanu replied, "You should never talk like that for you do not know where I was and where I am now. I was in the Hell fire and I came to Paradise. I left the house of fire worshippers and came to the house of the worshippers of one Allah...".
Sheherbanu died a few days after giving birth to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S). She was not present in Kerbala. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was taken care off, as a child, by a maid whom he came to love and respect like his own mother.
When he was born, Imam Ali (A. S) was still alive and he remained in company of his grandfather for another two years. It is said that time and again Imam Ali (A.S) would hug him and say, "My son you are Zainul Abidin."
One day when Imam Ali (A.S) was praying, the young Zainul Abidin, who then was only one and half years old, started imitating his grandfather. He prayed the same way Imam Ali (A.S) did. On completing his prayers, Imam Ali (A.S) said, "How truthful was the Prophet when he said our young and our old are all the same, all being Muhammed." As a young boy till when he became 12 years of age, he spent a lot his time with his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S).
There after he stayed with Imam Husain (A.S) till 61 A.H. At the time of Imam Husain's martyrdom, Imam Zainul Abidin was a youth of 22 years. His childhood was not free from trouble. His mother died when he was only an infant. He lost the care and love of his grandfather when he was only two. As a young boy he saw the injustices that were done to his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S).
As a young boy of 12, he saw his Uncle's bier being hit with arrows. It must have pained him to see his Uncle's last wishes of wanting to be buried next to his grandfather, the Prophet (S.A.W. W), being unfulfilled. All these disturbed him and made him sad but, they never shook his faith in Allah. As a matter of fact, the incidents that we are about to describe show how peaceful he was in his mind and how strong his love was for Allah.
As a young boy, he showed great love and respect As a young boy for the sick people. Once, someone in his neighbourhood fell sick, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) spent a lot of his time caring and comforting him. When the sick man became well, he was so pleased with the young Imam that he wanted to pay him back in any way that the Imam wanted.
Ali bin Husain (A.S), and that he came for Hajj in this manner every year.
Imam Hasan (A.S that for the time Ali Bin Husain (A.S) stayed with him, though still only a child, he showed great love for prayers. He would get up in the midst of the night and pray till dawn.