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Ali ibn Ḥusayn (approximately 6 January 659 - 20 October 712) is a great-grandson of Muhammad as well as the fourth Shī‘ah Imām. His mother was Shahrbānū and his father was Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī. His brothers include ‘Alī al-Aṣghar ibn Ḥusayn and ‘Alī al-Akbar ibn Ḥusayn. He is known as Zayn al-Abidīn "Beauty/Best of the Worshippers". He is also referred to as Imām al-Sajjad "the Prostrating Imām" and Sayyid as-Sājjadīna wa r-Rāki‘īn "Leader of Those who Prostrate and Bow". He dedicated his life to learning and became an authority on ####prophetic traditions and Sharia. He is regarded as the source of the third holiest book in Shī‘ah Islam after the Qur'ān and the Nahj al Balagha: the Saḥīfa al-Sadjadiyya, commonly referred to as the Psalms of the Household of Muhammad. ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn had many supporters such as Sa‘īd ibn Jubayr. He was beside his father right from the moment of his migration towards Karbala and followed his father. Hussain ibn Ali step by step so that, when his father asked for help on ‘Āshūrā got up to extend help to his father. Zaynab (Ali’s daughter)) stopped him and said: You are the only memorial remnant of this family and the Imam after Hussain ibn Ali and you are the guardian of all of us. Your divine mission is to convey the message of the martyrs to the people.
Although a segment of the people who are unaware consider Ali ibn Hussain to be a sick, invalid, handicapped, and a weak person. But they are seriously mistaken because the illness of Ali ibn Hussain was an expedience and policy of Allah, so that he may remain safe from the harm of the enemy's sword, and become the living history of Karbala. Therefore, after the death of Hussain ibn Ali and his companions, Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawshan came into the encampment of the Prophet’s household along with a group of his soldiers so that he may kill the remaining ones of the camp of Hussain ibn Ali. Since he was ill, Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawsha's companions objected upon him and Umar ibn Sa'ad came after them and reprimanded Shimr ibn Dhil-Jawsha regarding this decision and turned him out of the encampment and said, "Ali ibn Hussain is an ill man and because of that he cannot do a thing, leave him alone." One of the special features of Ali ibn Hussain character was his piety and abstinence.
Attention to the life and training of people
‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn, like his grandfather, cultivated land and palm date orchards. All the human qualities and attributes were collectively present in his personality. He was the complete specimen of tolerance, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. During the prayers he would get himself so absorbed that he did not have any attention towards anything except God. He traveled to Mecca, on foot, twenty times and continuously guided and conducted people through the attractive melody of the Qur'anic verses. As the son of Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī, he was under great scrutiny and could not directly guide those who secretly followed the household of Muhammad. But he conveyed his understanding of the relationship between human and God by the prayers and supplications that he offered God during his extensive nighttime vigils in the mosque of the Prophet in Medina. These prayers and supplications were written down and then disseminated by his sons and the subsequent generations. Among them is the Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is known as the Psalms of Islam. He looked after and administrated hundreds of houses of the poor and hunger stricken. Daily a number of goats were slaughtered in his house and he distributed all their meat among the afflicted. He dressed the naked and the destitute ones and paid their debts and loans. But he himself took simple meals and put on simple dress. When the nights would become dark and all the people went to sleep, ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn would get up put the food in a sack and on his shoulder. He covered his face so that he is not recognized. Then he took that food to the houses of the inflicted and have-nots and gave it to them. He administrated and looked after nearly a hundred guardians-less family in Medina; most of them comprised indigent, helpless and crippled, handicapped and paralytic ones. None of these families knew that ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn was the one who managed and run their lives. But after his death, when the aids were discontinued they came to know that Ali ibn Husayn was their helper and friend. Abu Hamza ath-Thumali, who was one of the friends of ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn, asked his servant to briefly define the character and morals of Ali ibn Hussain. He said: "I am at his service for so many years. Whatever I saw was righteousness, piety and purity. My lord helps and assists the people and solves their problems, with all the difficulties worries and preoccupations that he himself faces. At the Battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura, Hussain ibn Ali and most of his family were killed. Ali ibn Hussain survived because he was too sick to fight, and was bedridden. Afterwards, he was taken prisoner by the Umayyad forces and transported to Damascus where he was made a prisoner of the Caliph, Yazid I. After some years, he was freed, and returned to Medina where he lived a quiet life as a scholar and a teacher. It is said that for forty years, whenever food or water was placed before him, he would weep.
Alī ibn Ḥusayn resided in Medina until his death on 25th of Muharram, 95 AH (approximately 23 October 23, 712). He was poisoned by Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik. He was buried in Jannatul Baqee', the cemetery in Madinah where other important figures of Islamic history are buried. The period of his Imamate is 33 years.
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