A Brief Biography of Ali Ibn Husain (a.s)

Chapter 2 : Imam Ali Bin Husain (a.s):- Adulthood


All the Twelve Imams who were the true successors of the Prophet were born Imams, they did not become Imams. They did not attend any school or centre of learning. Their knowledge was directly from Allah. However, there was certain training and information that an Imam got from his father and grandfather who themselves were Imams. In this manner Imam Zainul Abidin's life was influenced by three Imams: Imam Ali (A.S), Imam Hasan (A.S) and Imam Husain (A.S).

So far as his father was alive, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) spent significant part of his life in prayers and in service of human beings. He was the champion of the poor and the sick.


When his father, Imam Husain (A.S) left Medina for Iraq in A.H. 60, Imam Zainul Abidin went together with him. Because the world cannot survive even .for one atom of a second without the presence a "Masoom" Imam, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) could note join his farther and other male members of his caravan in becoming martyrs of Islam on the day of Ashura. Allah made a special for that. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.s) was very on the day of Ashura and he could not take part in the Jihad.

Even then, when his father, Imam Husain (A.S) came to visit him, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) requested his father to allow him, too, to give his life fighting in the way of Allah. Imam Husain (A.S) told him that for Islam he had a more difficult "Jihad" to fight than the one he was wishing to do at that time, namely taking responSibility of the womenfolk from the family of the Prophet and staying with them to Kufa, and then to Damascus and then return with them to Medina.

Truly speaking, for him, it would have been very easy to die on the battle field as a martyr than to be taken as prisoner of war and see all the insult and humiliations thrown on him and on the womenfolk of the house of the Prophet. However, he did what Allah wished him to do.

After the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S), the survival of Islam depended on Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S), and that also at a tender age of twenty two. He had a very hard job of letting the world know the mission of Imam Husain (A.S.) and exposing the evil intentions of Yezid and the Bani Umayyah. He had to keep the message of Islam alive and save it from being confused by the evil Bani Umayyah.

The Imam As Prisoner of War

Although the army of Yezid did not kill him because he was sick, they treated him very badly by putting him in heavy chains. As a prisoner, he was made to travel on the open back of a camel in burning sunshine from Kerbala to Kufa and then from Kufa to Sham (Damascus) - a distance of about 750 kilometres. Sometimes, he would be made to walk on the burning sands of the desert.

This was not all. Women and children belonging to the family ofthe Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W), too, were hand-cuffed and treated like they were slaves. The daughters of Imam Ali (A.S) and Hazrat Fatima (A.S) were treated worse than criminals, their Hijab having been taken away from them. A caller would accompany them introducing them to the passers by as "Those who had disobeyed the Muslim ruler, Yezid". They were then presented as prisoners, first to Ibne Ziyad in Kufa and then to Yezid in Damascus.


Yezid's governor ofKufa, Ibne Ziyad, was known for his cruelty and his enmity towards Imam Ali (A.S) and his family. In order to show the people ofKufa how powverful he was, Ibne Ziyad asked how come Ali Bin Husain was not killed by Allah.

Any one else in the position in which Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was, would have kept quiet and bear the insult. But not Imam Zainul Abidin. As the Imam of the time he knew when it was proper for him to show the patience (Subr) of his uncle Imam Hassan (A.S) and when to show the bravery of his father, Imam Husain (A.S) and to face his enemies like a soldier. Without any fear, he replied Ibne Ziyad saying "I had another brother by the name .of Ali and he was martyred by being killed by your soldiers"

His short but strong reply was enough- to let people know what kind of liar and a beast Ibne Ziyad was. Ibne Ziyad became very angry by the young Imam's bravery. He ordered his soldiers to kill the Imam. Hazrat Zainab (A.S) challenged Ibne Ziyad, saying his soldiers would first have to kill her before they could get hold of her nephew, Zainul Abidin. She then took the Imam (A.S) in the fold of her arms. There was such an uproar in the court, all blaming Ibne Ziyad, that Ibne Ziyad could not do any harm to Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S).

But even then the Imam replied Ibne Ziyad saying, "Do you frighten me with death, O Ibne Ziyad? Don't you know that to be killed is our tradition and martyrdom is an honour from Allah?"


Following the instructions of his master, Yezid, Ibne Ziyad sent Imam and the ladies and children of the house of the Prophet (S.A.WW) as prisoners to Damascus.

To show his power and to frighten others, Yezid treated these prisoners very badly. They were first taken from one bazaar to another. The women and children were tied by one rope and treated very badly. The Imam was to remember this incident for the rest of his life. With tears in his eyes he used to say "In Sham (Damascus) we were insulted and treated like we were slaves whose master was not there (to protect them)" They were then put in prison.

Yezid would regularly call Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) to insult him in front of the public. On one such occasion, apreacher who was employed by Yezid went on the 'Mimber' (pulpit) of the Mosque and abused the Imam Ali (A.S) and his family.

When the preacher finished his lecture, the Imam turned to him and said, "Be ashamed of yourself, you evil speaker. With your words you have displeased Allah so as to please people". Then the Imam (A.S) asked Yezid to let him talk to the people. Yezid refused to do so. The people of Syria, however, forced Yezid to allow the Imam to go on the Mimber.

Once on the Mimber, Imam Zainul Abidin first praised Allah and His Messenger. After that the Imam gave along and very powerful speech letting the Syrians know the great position of Imam Husain (A.S) to Allah, and how evil Yezid and his family were. Part of the speech is summarised below: "O listeners I Allah has given us (Ahle Bart) six things which no one else has. He has given us special Wisdom, Patience, Dignity, Power of speech, Courage and Respect.

He gave us special benefit of belonging to the family of his Prophet. To us belong Hamza and Jafar. To us belong Asadullah (The lion of Allah, Imam Ali (A.S)). To us belong the leader of the youths of paradise (Imam Hassan (A.S) and Imam Husain (A.S)).

"Those who blow me, know me. Those who do not, then know that I am the son of Mecca and Mina. I am the son of Zamzam and Safa. I am the son of he who gave Zakat to the poor. I am the son of the best of those who have ever put on Ihram and performed ceremonies of Hajj. I am the son of he who was taken on the night journey from house of Allah to the Mosque of Aqsa and then to Miraj. I am the son of he who was taken around by Gibrael to the Lote-tree of the boundary (Sidratul Muntaha).

"I am the son of Muhammad Mustafa (S.A.WW). I am the son of Ali Al-Murtaza who fought the polytheists in the battle till they submitted to Islam and fought in the presence of the Prophet until his sword was broken and to whom Zulfikar was given. I am the son of he who had the honour to migrate twice in Islam. I am the son of Fatima the best women of the world...".

The effect of the speech was so powerful that everybody in the Mosque began to weep and to blame Yezid. Yezid was afraid that if the Imam continued his speech, there would be a revolution. At the same time Yezid could no more stop the Imam and get him down from the Mimber. He therefore ordered a "Muazzin" to give Azan, knowing that this would automatically cut the Imam's speech. But he underestimated the Imam , s bravery and intelligence. The Imam stopped his speech but did not get down from the Mimber.

When the Muazzin said " Allahu Akber" the Imam testified Allah's greatness. When the Muazzin said, "Ash hadu anna Muhammaddan Rasulullah", the Imam stopped the Muazzin from going any further. He then turned to Yezid and asked him.

"Tell me o Yezid, was Muhammad (S.A.W W) your grandfather or mine? If you say he was your grandfather it will be an open lie and if you say he was my grandfather then why have you killed his son and imprisoned his family? Why have you killed my father and brought his women and children to this city as prisoners?"

Yezid had no reply to give.

The effect of this was to turn Syrians against Yezid. Everyone of them now found out about Yezid's crimes that he had committed against the Prophet (S.A.W W) and his family. They began to blame him and ask for the release of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) and the womenfolk of the house of the Prophet. Yezid was now afraid that if he did not act fast his ruler-ship would be lost from him. He therefore freed Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) and let. him return to Medina with full honour and respect.


Having spent not less than one year in the prison of Yezid in Damascus, Imam Zainul Abidin returned to Medina. On reaching Medina, he camped outside the town and let the people of Medina know that he was back. When people came to meet him, without fearing the governor of Kufa, he let people know of all the injustices that were done to the family of the Prophet.

Dressed in mourning dress, he sat on a chair and addressing the people of Medina, he said, "'Praise be to Allah at all times. He gave us strength to bear great hardships. A great loss has taken place in Islam. My father, Aba Abdillah, his dear ones and his friends have been killed. His women and children were taken as prisoners. My father's head was cut and put on the edge of a spear and paraded from one Islamic city to another.

"O people! We were treated like we were non- Muslims and Kafirs, although we had committed no crime or sin and had not in any way wronged Islam. By Allah! If the Prophet of Allah had ordered them to fight against us, they would still have done nothing more than what they did".