His Patience ("sabr") and Forgiving- Nature
Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was similar to his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and his grandson Imam Musa Kazim (A.S) (Our 7th Imam) by showing a lot of pat, ience to their enemies.
You will remember that after the events of Kerbala, he went through very bad times in the hands of his enemies, but at no occasion did he show sign of anger or impatience. Whenever necessary, he replied to his enemies bravely but without showing any anger or loss of patience. Consider the following incidents.
* When the Imam was a prisoner of Yezid in Damascus and was being taken to the court, a Syrian came forward and abused the Imam saying, "Tell me who has come out successful you or Yezid?"
Without getting angry the Imam replied, "When you hear the Azan you make your own decision as to who is and who a failure." In the same way, another old man of Syria addressed the Imam saying "Praise be to Allah who destroyed you, who killed your brought peace in the country by giving victory to the caliph of Muslims."
The Imam first the verse of Qur'an (42:23) meaning: "O Prophet to them "I do not ask to be paid back for my services except they you should love my verses?"
The old man replied that, indeed, he had read those verses but he did not know how these verses had anything to do with the Imam. The Imam then read two more verses from the Qur'an, meaning:
"Know o you believers'. Whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for the Prophet and for the Prophet's family (8:41). And "Allah wishes to keep you away from uncleanness, O you the people of the house, and to purify you with complete purification. (33:33) Then the Imam told the that he prisoners were the family of the Prophet in these verses and they were the ones for whom the Prophet had asked for respect and love.
The old man then felt very sorry and apologized and the Imam forgave him.
* Hisham Bin Ismail, the governor of Medina used to give a lot of trouble to the Imam. As time went by, he was removed from his position by Walid, the king. As his punishment, he was made to stand at a public place. People were given permission to do whatever they wished to him. Imam (A.S) had suffered the most from his hands and the chance to take his revenge. Instead, the Imam now was (A.S) went to him and greeted him with respect and kindness knowing that if he did so then others would follow him and save Hisham from insults and injury.
Together with his patience was his forgiving nature and his kindness. The following incidents from Imam's life show this very clearly.
* Once a slave girl, while serving him, dropped on him a heavy jug full of water and cut his face. She said to him, ," Allah, the most high says:
those who control their anger." "Before she could complete this verse of the Qur'an, he said, "I have controlled my anger."
She continued, saying, "And those who forgive the people .." He replied. "'May Allah forgive you." She went on, saying, ", Allah loves those , who do good. "He replied, "'Go, you are a free person in the presence of Allah, The High, The Mighty."
* Once the Imam called his slave but the slave did not reply him. The Imam called him two more times; only then he replied. The Imam asked him if he did not hear being called. The slave replied that he did hear but he ignored to answer because he knew that no harm would come to him from the Imam (A.S).
When the Imam heard this he said, "Praise be to Allah who made my slave safe from me."
During the times of the Imam (A.S) slavery was common. Slaves would come from wars. The Imam used to get them as "Khums" from those who took part in these wars. Also the Imam used to purchase some slaves and then set them free.
He treated his slaves very well and would never beat them for any mistakes. Instead, he would record all their mistakes. At the end of the month of Ramadhan, he would call them and let them know of all their mistakes. He would then tell them to pray to Allah to forgive the Imam the way the Imam forgave them (the slaves). He would then set free all slaves and give them generous gifts.
It is said that one of his such slaves whom the Imam had set free progressed so much that on one occasion he loaned 10,000 dinars to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S). The Imam (A.S) later repaid this loan.
* A person once spoke very harshly to the Imam and wrongly blamed the Imam for things he had never done. The Imam listened to all these quietly and without answering him. The man got tired and went away.
After he had gone the Imam asked his followers to go with punish the person. They all went with the Imam (A.S). On his way the Imam started reading the following verses of Qur'an:
"'Those who control their anger and forgive the people, Allah loves those who do good." (3'133). His companions immediately knew that the Imam would forgive the person.
When they arrived at the person's house and when the person saw them all, he was sure, the Imam had come to punish him. However, the Imam addressed him very gently saying, "Brother, you said things about me, if truly I have those faults, then I pray to Allah to forgive me. If, however, I do not have those faults, I pray to Allah to forgive you."
The man was put to shame. He said, "You are free from all those faults. May Allah forgive me for making those false claims against you." * Once a man abused the Imam (A.S) in his presence. The Imam acted like he did not hear it. Then the man shouted, "I mean you." The Imam (A.S) replied, "And from you I am turning away." By this the Imam (A.S) was acting according to the Qur'an which says "'Go to what is honourable and turn away from the ignorant" (7:199).
His acts of piety did not end with only spending his time communicating with Allah. He spent a lot of his time 34 serving human beings also. He regularly visited the poor and the sick and provided for their necessities of life without their knowledge. In the darkness of the night, he would carry on his back bags of bread and food, cover his face so that no one could recognize him and go from door to door of the needy and serve them food.
None knew that this person was Imam Zainul Abidin(A.S) until his death Zuhir says that once when it was raining heavily at night, he saw the Imam carrying a heavy load on his back. He offered to help. The Imam said he was on his way to a journey.
The next day Zuhir still saw the Imam in Medina. Had the Imam postponed his journey? No. The Imam explained that he was preparing for the journey of the next world. He was on his way to feed the poor and did not want Zuhir to go with him as this could lead to the poor to recognize who their benefactor was.
Sheikh Mufid records that Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) paid a visit to Zaid Bin Uthama Bin Zaid who was very sick. Zaid was weeping because he had debt of fifteen thousand dinars. The Imam promised Zaid that he would pay the full debt immediately and he did so.
These acts of generosity were not meant for the poor and for the Imam's friends only. It was extended even to - his enemies. As will be illustrated in the following incidents.
You will recall that in A. H 64 the people of Medina removed Yezid's governor from his post of governorship in Medina, Fearing for their lives, the Bani Ummayyah started running away from Medina. Marwan Bin Hakam had a large family of women and children and could not run away for his life unless he could find someone who would agree to house his women and children. Marwan approached several people including Abdullah Bin Omar Bin Khattab but all refused to help him.
Finally Marwan turned to Imam Zainul Abidin for help.
Marwan was enemy number one of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) and his family. As a matter offact, the Prophet (S.A.W W) had ordered Marwan and his father Hakam Bin Aas to leave Medina as unwanted persons. It is the same Merwan who had fought against Imam Ali (A.S) in the Battle of Jamal. Merwan also was one ofthose who prevented Imam Hassan to be buried next to his grandfather's grave. Again, it was Merwan who had told Walid, the Governor of Medina in A.H. 60 to force "Bayah" from Imam Husain (A.S) in the court or to cut-off his head if he refused.
Despite this, the Imam (A.S) agreed to help Marwan. Merwan's family stayed with the Imam in Imam's house for as long as they wished. The Imam then arranged for them to go to where Merwan was.
In fact, Imam's house was open for anyone who came seeking for protection at this time.
To put down the rebellion in Medina, Yezid sent a strong army under the one-eyed general called Muslim Bin Aqaba. Muslim brought back Medina under the control of Yezid but before he could do the same to Mecca he died.
Hasin Bin Namir took-over from Muslim and went to Mecca, to deal with Abdullah Ibne Zubair whohad taken control of Mecca from Yezid. Before Hasin could win back Mecca, he got the news that Yezid had died.
Hasin hurried back to Damascus with whatever that he was left without food was left of his army. On the way and water. He and his army were about to die in the desert out of thirst and hunger. Then he saw a man coming in his direction. The man had a camel loaded with food and water. Hasin begged the man to sell to him the food and water which he had with him for any price. The man replied that his provisions were not for sale. However, as Hasin needed them so badly he could have it all for free.!
In his conversation with the stranger, Hasin recognized the stranger as being no other person than Ali Bin Husain (A.S). Thinking that the Imam had not recognised him, Hasin asked the Imam if he knew to whom the Imam was extending his generosity.
The Imam replied, "I know that you are the murderer of my brother and father and that you denied my father water and food till his martyrdom but that shows who you are and my generosity shows what I am".
Hasin offered to help the Imam take control of Damascus. The Imam refused saying, all that he did for him was because he was a human being needing help. The Imam needed no reward or thanks. Saying so he went away - leaving behind Hasin to bite his figures in disbelief Such was the generosity of our fourth Imam, Ali Bin Husain, Zainul Abidin (A.S).