1) His Position in the silsila
Sayyiduna Abu al-Hasan Ali, Imam Zain al-‘Abideen is the fourth Imam and Shaykh of the Silsila Aaliyah Qaadiriyah Barakaatiyah Razviyah Nooriyah.
He was one of the greatest Aabids of his era. Imam Zuhri (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) says, (In my era) I have not seen any Quraish more excellent than Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho). Hadrat Ibn Abbas (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) used to look at Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) and refer to him as the Beloved of the Beloved.
He was born on a Thursday the 5th of Shabaan 38 Hijri in Madinah Munawwarah. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen, Vol. 1, Page 207]
Hadrat Imam Hussain kept most of his children names attached to the name Ali. This was due to his love for his father Sayyiduna Ali (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho). He was thus also named Ali. He was also known as Abu Muhammad, Abul Hassan, Abul Qaasim and Abu Bakr. His titles were Sajjad, Zain al-‘Abideen, Sayyidul Abideen, Zakki and etc.
He spent ten years with his grandfather Sayyiduna Ali (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho), ten years with his uncle Sayyiduna Imam Hasan (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) and eleven years with his father, Hadrat Imam Hussain (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho).
5) Blessed Mother
His mother was known as Umm-e-Wulad, and was also known as Shahar Banu Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha. She was very pious and Allah fearing.
6) His Features
He was the image of his grandfather Sayyiduna Ali (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho). He was tan in complexion and not very tall. He had a full beard on which he used henna (mehndi).
7) Predictions of his birth
Hadrat Jaabir (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) says, I was in the blessed court of the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) and Imam Hussain (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) was in the blessed arms of the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam). The Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) said, O Jaabir (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho)! A son shall be born to him, whose name shall be Ali. Then he will have a child, whose name shall be Muhammad (Imam Baaqir). O Jaabir! If you meet with him, then you should pass my salaams to him.
8) His Character
Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) was blessed with beautiful character, which he definitely inherited from his illustrious forefathers. He was very eloquent and very respectful. He was always willing to assist those in need. Umar Abu Nasr writes that Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) purchased various slaves, and then set them free. He would be kind even to those who were his personal enemies. Once he heard that there was a certain person who always spoke ill of him. Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) went to him and treated him with such respect and kindness, that he repented from his bad behaviour and affiliated himself to the great Imam. Many great poets have written numerous Qasidas in praise of his kindness and generosity. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen, Vol. 1, Page 208]
9) His Excellence
Abu Haazim says, I have not seen any Jurist more exalted than him.
Zahbi and Ainiyah have said, We have not seen any Quraish more exalted than him.
Hadrat Imam Maalik (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) says, He is from the Men of Excellence
Ibn Abi Shaiba says, In Hadith, the most exalted chain of transmission is that which is narrated from Imam Zain al-‘Abideen, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) where he narrates from his father Imam Hussain (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho).[Masaalik as-Saalikeen]
Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) was always prepared to sacrifice everything he had for Islam. He sacrificed all his wealth twice for Islam. He was a very generous person. He used to discreetly send money to the poor people living in Madinah Shareef and none of them knew that the money was coming from him. The only time this became known to them, was after his wisaal. [Tarikh al-Khulafa]
10) His Patience
He was a person with great patience. After the Battle of Karbala, HE was marched to Damascus in chains and in the time of Abdul Malik bin Marwan , he was arrested and chained. He was then forced to walk from Madinah to Syria in chains. With all this, he never complained or said one word about his condition in the Court of Allah . He instead remained patient and made Shukr (thanked Allah ) on every step. Imam Zain al-‘Abideen’s most loyal student Sayyiduna Imam Zuhri could not bear to see the Imam in this condition, so he went to Abdul Malik bin Marwaan, and had the great Imam released. He then took him back to Madinah Shareef with great respect. [Khazinat al-Asfiyah, Vol.1, Page 31/32] Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen had a very soft heart and always thought of the sacrifice that was given by his Father Imam Hussain and all the other Martyrs on the plains of Karbala. Once, he was walking in the blessed streets of Madinah Munawwarah, when he saw a person placing a goat on the ground, and was sharpening the knife before making the animal zibah. On seeing this, he became very saddened and thought of the martyrdom of his father. He then began to weep bitterly and asked the man, “My dear Brother! Did you give the goat some food and water or not?”The man replied that he had fed and given water to the goat for the past three days and had also fed it water just before laying in down. On hearing this, Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen let out a sigh of pain and said, “It is sad, that the people of Kufa did not even care for him like (you care for) the goat. They starved him for three days and nights and then martyred him in this state.” [Masaalik as-Saalikeen] He used to perform one thousand rakaats of nafil salaah every night. One night whilst he was performing his nafils, his house caught on fire. The people were rushing around trying to put of the fire, but he continued his Namaaz with total sincerity. After he completed his salaah, the people told him that his house had caught on fire and yet he continued reading his salaat (Namaaz) without any showing any sign of panic. He said, “You were trying to extinguish this fire, and I was trying to extinguish the fire of the hereafter.” [Khazinat al-Asfiyah, Vol.1, Page 31] A person once swore at Imam Zain al-Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) and made slanderous remarks to him. In response, Imam Zain al-Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) said to him: ‘If the attributes, you accuse me of, are found in me then I repent to Allah Azzawajal and ask for forgiveness. If the attributes are not found in me then on your behalf I ask Allah Azzawajal for forgiveness and repentance.’ The person saw Imam Zain al-Abideen’s patience and was overwhelmed by it. He stood up, kissed Imam Zain al-Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) on the forehead and said: ‘May my soul be sacrificed for you! Whatever I accused you of was wrong. I seek forgiveness from you and I request you to pray to Allah Azzawajal for the acceptance of my repentance.’ Imam Zain al-Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) agreed to pray to Allah Azzawajal on his behalf.
11) Recitation Of The Holy Qur'an
Hadrat Imam Jaafar Saadiq (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) says, When my grandfather, Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) used to recite the Quran, then the beauty of his recitation attracted the people towards him and all those listening to him would become so overwhelmed with the fear of Allah, that one did not know the condition of the other.
12) Return From The Battle Of Karbala
When Imam Zain al-‘Abideen was returning to Madinah after the Battle of Karbala, he said a few stanzas. A few stanzas are being presented for blessing. “O Winds! If someday you pass by the sacred land, then pass my salaams before the Rawda al-Aqdas where the most exalted Nabi rests The Sadness of separation from Madinah feels like a sword stuck deep into my liver How fortunate are the people of that city in which is the Exalted and Beloved Prophet O Rahmatulil Aalameen! Assist Zain al-‘Abideen. Who is standing alone and in difficulty amongst the tyrants.” Once a person asked Imam Zain al-‘Abideen about who will be looked upon as pious and good on the last day and he said,“That person, who when he is happy, his happiness does not drive him towards wrong and that person, when he is angry, then his anger does not remove him from what is right.” In other words, when you are happy, you should not let your happiness take you towards bad deeds and when you are angry, then you should not allow your anger to blind you from that which is right. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen]
13) Respect For The Khulafa
Once some people from Iraq, came to visit Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho). During their visit, they began to say disrespectful words concerning Hadrat Abu Bakr, Hadrat Umar and Hadrat Uthman (Ridwanullahi Ta’aal Alaihim Ajma’een). When they had completed saying what they wished to, He said, Tell me, are you from amongst the first Muhajireen, concerning whom Almighty Allah says, “Those who were driven out from their homes and their possessions seeking the grace of Allah and His Pleasure, and helping Allah and His Messenger. They are the truthful.” [Surah Hashr verse 8] They replied in the negative, by saying that the verse did not refer to them. Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) then asked if they were from amongst the Ansaar, concerning whom Almighty Allah says in the Quran, And those who had established their homes in this city, with faith, from inception, They, (who) show love to those, who migrated towards them, and who find no need in their hearts, for that which has been left, and they give preference to them over their lives, even though they are in great need. [Surah Hashr verse 9] Again, they answered in the negative. He then said, I swear, that you are not even worthy of this verse of the Quran wherein Allah says, And those who came after them say, O Allah! Pardon us and our brothers, who brought faith before us, And keep not in our hearts hostility towards those with Imaan. O Our Lord, Verily you are most Compassionate, Most Merciful. After saying this, he asked them to leave his presence. In other words, he showed them that they were not from amongst the Muhajireen, or the Ansaar, or even from amongst the believers. He therefore shunned them for being disrespectful to the Khulafa-e-Thalaasa.
The Karaamats of Imam Zain al-‘Abideen are numerous, but a few are being quoted for attaining blessings.
15) Incident During Hajj
Two people where making tawaaf of the Kaaba and came to Hajr-e-Aswad. When they touched the Hajr-e-Aswad, both their hands became stuck on it. People tried very hard to release their hands, but it was not possible. Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen entered the Haram whilst this was happening. He said Bismillah hir rahmaan nir rahim and then placed his hands on the Hajr-e-Aswad. Immediately the two peoples hands were released. [Khazinat al-Asfiyah, Vol. 1, Page 34]
16) The Deer
Once Hadrat had gone into the jungle with his companions. As they sat to eat, a deer passed by them. The Imam called to the deer and asked it to partake in the meal with them. The Deer immediately came to the Imam and partook in the meal provided. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen, Vol. 1, Page 11]
17) A Deers Complaint
A deer once came to Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho), whilst he was in a jungle. The animal fell to the ground and began to say something. Those with the Imam asked what had happened. The Imam said that the deer was complaining about a man who captured her child. Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) summoned the man. The man brought with him the child belonging to the deer. Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) asked him to release the deer, which he gladly did. After some time, the deer took its young, and said something and then left. Those present were amazed and asked the Imam what the deer said as she left. The Imam said, She said, JazakAllahu fi Darain Khair. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen]
18) His Children
Almighty Allah blessed Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideen (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) with fifteen children. Their blessed names are as follows: Sons: 1. Hadrat Muhammad (Imam Baaqir), (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 2. Hadrat Zaid, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 3. Hadrat Imraan, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 4. Hadrat Abdullah, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 5. Hadrat Hassan, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 6. Hadrat Hussain, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 7. Hadrat Hussain Asghar, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 8. Hadrat Abdur rahmaan, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 9. Hadrat Sulaiman, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 10.Hadrat Ali, (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) 11. one more son whose name is not known. Daughters: 1. Hadrat Khadija, 2. Hadrat Fathima, 3. Hadrat Aliyah, 4. Hadrat Umme Kulthoom (Ridwanullahi Ta’ala Alaihim Ajma’een). Hadrat Imam Zain al-‘Abideens (Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anho) descendants are from Hadrat Imam Baqir, Hadrat Zaid, Hadrat Abdullah, Hadrat Hussain Ashgar, Hadrat Imraan and Hadrat Ali (Ridwanullahi Ta’ala Alaihim Ajma’een) All of them were blessed with numerous children. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen]
He was given poison by Waleed bin Abdul Malik and was thus made shaheed on the 18th of Muharram and according to some narrations on the 12th or 22nd of Muharram at the age of 57 or 58. He passed away in Madinatul Munawwarah and his Mazaar Shareef is in Jannatul Baqi. Few have said that his Mazar Sharif is in Egypt and there is a Mosque and Shrine of Imam Zain al-‘Adideen in Cairo, Egypt as well but the majority have accepted his Mazar Sharif being in Baqee al Garqad, Madina Munawwarah. ALLAH Knows the Best! After his wisaal, his camel placed its head on his mazaar shareef and cried. Hadrat Imam Baqir tried to move it away, but it refused. In the end, he said, “She will die in this exact place.” Eventually she did pass away at the Mazaar of Imam Zain al-‘Abideen. [Masaalik as-Saalikeen, Vol. 1, Page 207]