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

Chapter 3 : Imam Ali Bin Husain (a.s): Life in Medina After the Tragedy of Kerbala


It will be recalled that Yezid had given the Imam his freedom to return to his home in Medina not out of love but out of fear. The Imam, therefore, was still not out of danger. The Imam, therefore, had to find out a way to preach the true message of Allah without appearing to be working against the government.

This problem became even more difficult as Muslims throughout the empire began to rise against Yezid. For example, Abdullah Ibne Zubair declared himself the ruler of Mecca. In A.H 63 the Muslims of Medina drove away Yezid's governor from Medina and appointed a man of.their own choice in hisplace.

To save his crown, Yezid turned to using force. He decided to kill anyone who opposed him. The Imam had to place himself in such a position that no one could say that he was also amongst those plotting to overthrow Yezid. Otherwise, the Imam would not be able to complete the mission of saving Islam from its enemies. He would either be imprisoned again or even be killed. Who would then be there to serve Islam the way Allah wished it to be served?


When martyrdom was necessary to keep Islam alive, Imam Husain (A.S) publicly opposed Yezid and gave. his life. When silence became necessary to keep Islam alive, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) retired in his house to serve Islam in the best way possible.

From A.H. 62 to A.H. 95 when he left this world, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) led a quiet life, preaching the Islam in two ways.

Firstly, he kept alive the message of Imam Husain (A.S) regarding Islam trough mourning. There was not a day that passed without the Imam crying in memory of his father Imam Husain (A.S) and others who gave their lives in Kerbala. He encouraged his followers also to regard it as their duty to remember the martyrs of Kerbala as often as they could.

The first time he entered Medina when returning from Damascus, he laid down the tradition of mourning for Imam Husain (A.S). He pitched a tent outside Medina and moUming dress he let the Muslims of Medina what was expected of them from then onwards.

A man by the name of Noaman went to Medina three years after the events of Kerbala. He saw the Imam standing near the grave of the Prophet weeping and complaining to the Prophet about the III-treatment that Imam (A.S) and the other members of the Prophet's family had received from the Bani Umayyah. The Imam (A.S) remained in this position until when he fainted and was then taken by his followers to his house.

Noaman went to Imam's house. Then asked the Imam what was the most difficult time he had to face in Kerbala and during his imprisonment to Kufa and Damascus. The Imam said, "A-Sham, A-Sham, A-Sham" and then explained that in Sham the family of the Prophet was treated like animals and presented to the court of Yezid like slaves.

In this way people of Medina were to see him mourning for his father from then till his death some thirty five years later.

It is reported that when the Imam saw water he would weep, remembering the thirst of the martyrs of Kerbala. When he saw a goat or sheep being slaughtered, he would ask the slaughter if he had fed the animal and given it water. On being assured that this had, indeed, been done, the Imam would weep, saying that his father and other martyrs of Kerbala were slaughtered hungry and thirsty of three days.

He held regular mourning session in his house. Those who attended these sessions would then be served with food in the name of his father, Imam Husain (A.S)

One day somebody told him. "O son of Allah's Messenger!. Up to when would you weep like this?"

The Imam replied "'O servant of Allah. Prophet Yakub had twelve sons but only one of them (Yusuf) was taken away form him, he wept so much and for such long that his eyes turned white, his head turned gray and his back was bent although his son Yusuf was still alive. Whereas I watched my father, my brother and seventeen members of my family being slaughtered all around me. How could my sorrow come to an end?".

Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) through such mourning sessions let the world know the reason why it was necessary for Imam Husain (A.S) to sacrifice his life but not accept Yezid as the rightful ruler of the Muslims.

The plot of Yezid and his family of Bani Umayyah to destroy Islam was brought out in the open through the Imam's weeping for his father.

The second most important thing that the Imam did after returning from Damascus was to spend a lot of his time praying to Allah. His prayers were not only in the form of "Namaz" but also in the way of "Duas" or supplications.He would read these supplications and then teach them to his sons Hazrat Muhammad Baqir (A.S) and Hazrat Zaid. These supplications were later complied in a book called SAHIFA KAMILA.(The complete book).

This book is also known by other names such as SAHIFA SAJJADIA (the book ofSajjad; Sajjad being another name of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S); Sajjad means one who spends a lot ofhis time in "Sijda"), or ZABURE ALE (PsalmsofthehouseholdofM ed). The SAHIFA as we know it, today is made of 54 Duas, 14 additional 'Duas' and 15 'Munajat'. Over and above the SAHIFA, there are many other supplications of the Imam which appear under different covers.

With the help of these 'Duas', Imam Zainul .Abidin (A.S) taught Muslims not only how to pray to Allah but also what is the essence of Islam. Also the major elements of religion are contained in these Duas. Moreover, the Duas teach us who Allah is and who the Prophet is and what kind of life we should lead. For example, in the Dua called "AKHLAQ" (The excellence of character), the Imam looks at different types and qualities of behaviour which make a man's character and personality, and tells his followers to have those qualities.

The Dua also teaches how Muslims should link themselves with the house of the Prophet, the Ahlul-Bayt. These ideas, if preached in any other form, would without and doubt, invite the government of Bani Umayyah to put the Imam in trouble. But who would complain if the Imam addressed his creator, Allah using "Duas"?

In this way through mourning for his father and praying to Allah, Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) kept the true message of Allah alive from the evil-minded Bani Umayyah.

Effect of The Imam's Approach To Preach Through Prayers

The greatest result of the Imam's decision to lead a quiet life was: the government became sure that he was not going to be dangerous to them. They, therefore, left him alone. For example, when Muslim bin Aqaba attacked Medina in A.H. 63, he did no harm to the Imam. Whereas Muslim showed complete disrespect for the Mosque of the Prophet, he did no harm to Imam Zainul Abidin's house. Those who sought shelter of the Imam's house also remained safe from the army's cruelties. In fact Muslim Bin Aqaba called Imam to his headquarters and treated him with courtesy and respect.

All this was because the Imam (A.S) had shown no sign of wanting to overthrow the government. What the government failed to understand was that Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was establishing the foundations of truth which would, in future, provide strong basis of Islam which would live for ever.

By being left on his own, not only did Imam (A.S) widened the horizons of Islam, but al so found a place for himself to let the Muslims community see for themselves who truly was the representative of the Prophet.

This was a very important job to be done by the Imam. This IS because the rulers of his time Yezid, Marwan, Abdul Malik bin Marwan and Walid bin Abdul Malik all lead very un-Islamic lives yet they presented themselves as the representatives of the Prophet (S.A.W.W). The presence of the Imam was a continuous lesson for Muslims. The Muslims could compare the excellent life of the Imam with that of the rulers and decide for themselves who was the true successor of the Prophet and therefore the leader of the community.

The effect of the teaching and the pure life-style of the Imam was such that he came to be regarded as an excellent person and an authority of the religion of Islam. At his time, there were seven scholar in Medina who were called ""The seven lawyers of Medina", and who were considered to be the best authorities on Islamic traditions and law. Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) was not only one among these seven scholars, he was the best of them all.

One of these seven lawyers called Said bin Al -Musayyab considered the Imam with highest respect: the respect that a lesser pe son shows to a higher person. Another very famous and knowledgeable lawyer, Al-Zuhri, gave the title of Zainul Al Abidin to the Imam!.

Sufyan Suri says that he once asked Zuhri as to why he always called the Imam by the name of Zainul Abidin. Zuhri replied: "On the Day of Judgement a caller will say. Where is Zainul Abidin? Then Husain's son Ali, will come forward."

By the time the Bani Umayyah realised the wisdom of Imam Zainul Abidin's approach to establish Islam through the memory of his father and prayers of Allah, it was too late. Without the knowledge of the government the Imam had raised his position in the Muslims community so high that none of the rulers could reach, with all their wealth and power. The following incident illustrates this point very well.

Hasham, the Bani Umayyah prince, went to Mecca for pilgrimage. After completing his Hajj he wanted to kiss the "Hajare Aswad" but there was such a big crowd that he could not reach there. He was therefore waiting for the crowd to decrease so that he could then get near "Hajare Aswad". With him were standing his royal attendants.

Then came a person dressed in simple clothes. He was approaching the Kaaba very slowly when the crowd saw him they all scattered, making way for him. The man slowly and with ease went round the "House of Allah" (Kaaba) seven times, kissed the "Hajare Aswad" and went away Hasham, the prince of the Muslims empire, could not believe what he saw. wasn't he the prince? Why had he to wait and a stranger be shown such respect? Who was he after all? He asked his attendants who the stranger was that he should enjoy such a respect with people that even the prince could not.

The attendants said they did not know who the person was, though they knew very well that the person was Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) but were afraid that if they said the truth Hasham would be offended.

However, the famous poet Farazdaq, who was being paid by the king to write poems in praise of the royal family could not keep quiet. He read long poem in praise of Imam Zainul Abidin (A.S) the most important part of which is ...

"..This is Ali (Bin Husain) whose parent is the Prophet, This is the son of Fatima, if you do not know who he is.

Whoever recognizes his God knows also the greatness and importance of this man, Because the religion has reached the nations through his house."

Hisham burned with jealousy. He got Farazdaq in prison for praising the Imam (A.S).

When the Bani Umayyah rulers realised their mistake they decided to kill the Imam. By the instructions of Walid Bin Merwan, the governor of Medina poisoned the Imam (A.S). The Imam (A.S) died from this poison on 25th Muharram A.H 95 (A.D. 713).