The Second Imam
He is .asan son of !Al: ibn Ab: ھ"lib (a.s.) and F"Uima al-Zahr"v (a.s.) daughter of the Prophet Mu9ammad (N). He is the grandson of the Messenger of Alla>h (N) and the second of his successors and the leader (im"m) of the people after his father !Al:, Amir al- Mo’mineen – the Commander of the Faithful. He was born in the enlightened city of Medina on a Tuesday, the 15th of the month of Rama+"n in the second or third year of the 9ijra or migration of the Prophet (N), that is 2/3 A.H. or 624/625 C.E. He died as a martyr to poison on Thursday the 7th of the month of £afar 49 A.H (17th March 669 C.E.). His funeral was undertaken by his brother Imam .usayn (a.s.) and he was buried in the cemetery of Baq:! in Medina where he lies to this day. He was the most devoted to Alla>h of his peers and the most knowledgeable and virtuous of them. He most resembled the Prophet (N) of all people and he was the most generous of the Prophet’s household in his time and he was the most clement of people.226 An example of his generosity is that one of his maidservants presented him with a bouquet of fragrant herbs so he said to her: ‘You are free for the sake of Alla>h.’ Then he said:
‘Such has Alla>h taught us, for He has said: eAnd when you are greeted with a greeting then greet with a better one or return itf.227 An example of his clemency is that a Syrian once saw him riding and began to curse him but Imam .asan did not reply to him. When the Syrian had finished Imam .asan approached, greeted him and laughed and said: ‘O master, you seem to be estranged and you may have mistaken me for another. Were you to seek favour and goodwill we would show you favour and goodwill, and were you to ask of us we would give you, and were you to ask us for directions we would direct you, and were you to ask us for a mount we would give you a mount, and if you are hungry we will let you eat your fill, and if you have no clothes we will clothe you, and if you are in poverty we will enrich you, and if you are in exile we will give you sanctuary, and if you have any need we will fulfil it.’ When the man heard these words he wept and said: ‘I testify that you are Alla>h’s vicegerent (khal:fa) on earth, eAlla>h knows full well where he places His missionf.229 230
Hadith from Imam Hassan (AS)
‘He who claims he does not like wealth is, to me, a liar, and if his truth is established in this respect, then, to me, he is stupid.’ ‘Have you seen an oppressor who is more like an oppressed one? The Imam was asked: ‘How is that O son of Rasulollah?’ The Imam (A) replied: ‘He is the jealous person who is in perpetual anguish whereas the envied is in comfort.’
Imam Hassan (A) used to encourage the people to gain more and more knowledge, and used to say: ‘Teach others and learn from others’ knowledge, in this way you would have perfected your knowledge and learnt things you did not know . . . and to ask a question is half of the knowledge.’
‘He who does not have intellect, does not have etiquette, and he who does not have determination, does not have goodwill, and he who does not have a belief does not have morality. The peak of intellect is to socialise with, and treat the people nicely and kindly. Through intellect you can achieve the prosperity of both worlds and without it you would loose all.’ Someone asked Imam Hassan (A) about politics, the Imam replied ‘Politics is to attend to the rights and duties of Allah and to protect the rights of the people; dead or alive. As for the rights of Allah, it is to fulfil what He ordered and abstain from what forbade. And as for the rights of the living it is to discharge your duties towards your Muslim brethrens and not to hesitate serving your community, to be sincere towards leader as long as he is sincere to the Ommah, and to raise your objection to him if he deviated from the straight path. As for the rights of the dead, it is to commemorate their good deeds and conceal their bad deeds, for they have their Lord to deal with them.’ ‘There is no poverty like ignorance.’
‘The peak of wit and intelligence is the good conduct with the people.’
‘The distance between right and falsehood is (the width of) four fingers (i.e. the distance between the eye and the ear). What you see with your eyes is the truth, whereas you could hear many false things.’ ‘The people who practice consultation are guided (towards perfection).’ ‘(The beneficences of) both worlds are achieved through reasoning.’ ‘Do not hasten punishment for offence, and allow room for reason for the offence.’
‘I am surprised at one who takes care at what he eats, but does not do so about what he believes in. He avoids that which hurts him from entering his stomach, but allows that which makes him inferior to enter his heart (and mind).’ What others have said about Imam Hasan Anas ibn M"lik, one of the Prophet’s companions said: ‘There was no-one among them who more resembled the Messenger of Alla>h than .asan.’231
AbY Hurayra said: ‘I always loved .asan ever since I saw how the Messenger of Alla>h used to treat him.’232 !Abdull"h ibn al-Zubayr said: ‘Let me tell you of the person from his [the Prophet’s] family who most resembled him and who was most beloved to him - it was .asan son of Al:.’233 Ibn S:r:n said: ‘Often .asan ibn !Al: would reward a single person with one hundred thousand coins.’234
W"Nil ibn !AU"v said: ‘.asan ibn !Al: had the mark of a prophet and the aura of a king.’235 Abul-Fid"v ibn Kothayr said [of him]: ‘If only they [the Muslims] knew, they would have venerated the blessings of Alla>h upon them when they swore allegiance to the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Alla>h and the chief of the Muslims and one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent of the companions.’ 236
The Third Imam
He is .usayn son of !Al: ibn Ab: ھ"lib (a.s.) and F"Uima al-Zahr"v (a.s.) daughter of Mu9ammad (N). He is the grandson of the Messenger of Alla>h (N) and the third of his successors and the progenitor of the nine Imams who came after him and the leader (im"m) of the people after his brother Hasan (a.s.). He was born in the enlightened city of Medina on the 3rd of the month of Sha!b"n within a year of the birth of his brother .asan and was killed unjustly by the sword and in dire need of water at the battle of Karbala on the day of !wshYr"v (Ashura), Saturday the 10th of the month of Mu9arram in the year 61 A.H. After three days, his son Imam Zayn al-!wbid:n (a.s.) undertook his funeral and buried him at Karbala in Iraq where his shrine is to this day. His virtues are countless. He is the Messenger of Alla>h’s rayh}a>nah or (blessed) flower, as he is quoted as saying regarding .usayn and his brother .asan (a.s.): ‘Those two are my favourite blessed flower of this world.’237 Allah’s messenger also said: ‘.usayn is from me and I am from .usayn.’238 He also said: ‘.asan and .usayn are the chiefs of the youths of Paradise.’239
He also said: ‘.asan and .usayn are two Imams whether they rise up it or not.’240 .usayn (a.s.) was the most knowledgeable of the people and the most worshipful of Alla>h and he used to pray one thousand units of prayer every night as did his father Imam !Al: (a.s.). He often used to carry sacks of food at night to the poor, which left their marks on his body and they were visible after his death. He was noble, generous, and clement, and he could not bear that Alla>h be disobeyed.
By his brave and unique uprising he revivified the way of Islam and the religion of his grandfather the Messenger of Alla>h (N) which had become corrupted so soon after his death. Indeed, he revivified the entire world until the day of resurrection. He is the Masters of the Martyrs and the best of mankind after his brother. Hadith from Imam Hussain (AS)
‘I do not see death except prosperity and life along with the oppressors except anguish.’ ‘O Allah! You know that all there was from us was not in competition to seek power, nor to gain refuse of the world (i.e. wealth), but it was nothing other than to present the signs and essence of Your religion, and to promote reform in Your land, (so that) oppressed members of your servants find safety and security, and Your laws, orders and obligations are acted upon.’
‘I have not arisen for the purpose of exuberance, arrogance, corruption, or oppression, but I have done so in order to seek reform in the nation of my Grandfather, Muhammad (S). I want to enjoin Good and forbid Evil, and I want to go down the path and tradition of my Grandfather, Muhammad (S), and the path of my father Ali ibn Abi Talib (A).
‘There are people who worship Allah out of desire (for reward), and this is the worship of traders, and there are people worship Allah out of fear (of punishment), and this is the worship of slaves. Whereas certain people worship Allah out of gratitude, and this is the worship of the free, and this is the best of the worships.’ ‘There are seventy benefactions for saluting, sixty nine for the one who initiates it and one for the replier.’ ‘Do not say about your brother in his absence other than that which you would like him to say about you in your absence.’ ‘(O Allah) . . . How can You be reasoned about with that that is in need of You in its existence? ‘(O Allah) . . . What did he find he who lost You? And what did he loose he who found You? Truly he has failed who is contented with other than You.’
What others have said about Imam Husayn
!Umar ibn al-KhaUU"b said to Imam .usayn: ‘It is Alla>h and then you that have made us what we are today.’241 AbY Hurayra said: ‘.usayn ibn !Al: entered the room wearing a turban and I thought that the Prophet himself had been raised from the dead.’242 !Abdull"h ibn !Amr ibn al-!wN said when Imam .usayn passed by him once: ‘Whoever wishes to see the most beloved of the people of the earth to the people of the heavens then let him look at this man who is passing by.’243 Mu!"wiya said: ‘I cannot fault .usayn. I swear by Alla>h that there is no fault in him.’244
Ibn Sirin said: ‘After John son of Zechariah, the heavens never wept for anyone except for .usayn (a.s.). When he was killed the sky became dark and the stars appeared during the day and red dust fell.245 “On the day of the martyrdom of al-Hussein (AS) the sky rained blood . . . .”246 “There was not a stone which was not lifted but underneath it was found blood . . . . ”247 Records show that the skies wept blood for Imam Husayn throughout the globe. Christian monks in Britain recorded the following: “685. In this year in Britain it rained blood, and milk and butter were turned into blood.”248
The Fourth Imam
He is Imam !Al: son of .usayn (a.s.). His mother was Sh"hezan"n, daughter of the Persian king Yazdegird. He was born in the enlightened city of Medina on the 15th of the month of Jam"d" I in the year 36 A.H. (9th November 656 C.E.) the day that his grandfather the commander of the faithful !Al: (a.s.) captured the town of Basra in Iraq.
He died of poison on Saturday the 25th of the month of Mu9arram in the year 95 A.H. (20th October 713 C.E.) at the age of 57 years. His funeral was conducted by his son Mu9ammad al-B"qir (a.s.) and he was buried in the cemetery of Baq:! In Medina, Arabia. He was, in knowledge, worship of Alla>h, virtue, abstinence, and helping the afflicted the foremost of his age. Jurists have used him as a source for abundant traditions and he gave many sermons and taught a great many supplicatory prayers.249
He used to go out in the dark of the night and carry a sack on his back containing gold and silver coins as well as food and fuel until he went to each door in turn of the poor people’s houses where he would knock and give to whoever came to the door. He used to cover his face so that the poor would not recognise him. When he died, the people of Medina realised that it was him that was the bearer of the sack. He used to love to host the poor and the orphans and the sick at his table.
Among his fine moral traits is that every month he would call his maidservants and say to them: ‘Whoever wishes that I marry them off I will marry them off; and whoever wishes that I sell them I will sell them; and whoever wishes that I free them I will free them.’ Whenever someone came to ask him something he would say: ‘Welcome to he who bears my provision to the afterlife.’ His piety was such that he would pray one thousand units of prayer every day and whenever the time for prayer came he would get goose bumps and turn white and shake. Among his names was ‘he of the calluses’ because of the effects of prolonged prostration to Alla>h on his forehead and palms and knees.’ Once a man swore at him and said awful things to him but he was calm and didn’t reply. After a moment he went over to the man and those present supposed that he was going to give the man a taste of his own medicine. But he recited the Qurv"nic verse: eAnd those who contain their anger and forgive the people and Alla>h loveth those who do goodf250 Then he stood before the man and said: ‘My brother, you stood before me before and spoke and spoke. If you said what is true about me then I ask Allah for forgiveness; and if you have said what is not true about me then may Alla>h forgive you.’251
Hadith from Imam Zayn al-A idin (A)
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A) said to his son, al-Ba>qir (A): ‘Do good to whoever seeks it from you. For if he deserved it then you have achieved your goal, and if he did not deserve it, you are the kind to do so. If someone swore at you, and he is on your right hand side, and he then turns to your left and apologised to you, accept his apologies.’ On the subject of trustworthiness and honesty, Imam Zayn al- Abidin (A) says:
‘By He who sent Muhammad (S), with the Truth (I swear that) if the killer of my father al-Hussain (A) entrusts me with the sword which he killed him (A) with, I would return it back to him.’ ‘Contemplate and strife for what you have been created for, for Allah did not create you in vain.’ ‘Do not have animosity towards anyone even if you thought he would not harm you, and do not fail to befriend anyone even if you thought he would not benefit you.’ ‘Indeed the ultimate knowledge and the perfection of the religion (and way of life) of a Muslim is to avoid talking about things which do not concern him, lack of his boasting, his forbearance, perseverance, and well-manners.’
‘Do not stop from refraining from evil even if you have been known to commit it.’ ‘The best keys to (one’s) affairs is truthfulness, and the best endings is faithfulness and loyalty.’ What others have said about Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin AbY ."zim said: ‘I never saw a Hashimite more meritorious than !Al: ibn .usayn nor more knowledgeable than him.’252 Al-Zuhr: said: ‘I never saw anyone more knowledgeable than Zayn al-!wbid:n.’ If !Al: ibn al-.usayn was mentioned he would weep and say: ‘The adornment of the worshippers.’253 M"lik ibn Anas, the Imam of the Maliki sect, said: ‘He was named “Zayn al-!wbid:n (the adornment of the worshippers)” because of the great amount of his worship of Alla>h.’254 The Ummayad Caliph !Umar ibn !Abd al-!Az:z said after he had just left his presence: ‘Who is the most noble of people?’ Those around him said: ‘You.’ He said: ‘Not at all, the most noble of people is he who has just left my presence.’ N"fi! said addressing Zayn al-!wbid:n: ‘You are the chief of people and the best of them.’255