Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was the last messenger of Allah Almighty sent to human beings to guide them towards a more prosperous and meaningful life: "O Prophet! Indeed, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and as a warner. and as a summoner to Allah by His permission, and as a radiant lamp." (33:45-46).
You might be interested to know more details on his delegation (be' tha). So, follow us to find out more.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was born into the tribe of Quraysh, one of the prominent tribes of Mecca. He was known as an honest and faithful man such that he was called Al-Amin [i], meaning trustee.
He used to spend some hours alone out of town in Hira cave to worship, contemplate and reflect the state of people of that time and the aspects of creation. It was during one of these occasions that he received the divine message of prophethood. He was nearly 40 at that time. It was Rajab the 27th on 610 CE that the Archangel Gabriel (Jibreel) appeared before him and said: "Read." Muhammad (PBUH&HP) replied: "I am not able to read." This was repeated two more times. Then, the angel Gabriel recited the first verses of the Quran:
"Recite in the name of your Lord who created -
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous –
Who taught by the pen -
Taught man that which he knew not." (96:1-5)
And, his mission started there.
According to Imam Ali (AS), Allah Almighty sent Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as a warner (against vice) for all the worlds and a trustee of His revelation. That was while the people of his time were following the worst religion. They resided among rough stones and venomous serpents, drank dirty water and ate filthy food, shed each other's blood, and did not care about their relationships. They worshiped and respected Idols, and sins were clinging to them .
Imam Ali (AS) sometimes accompanied Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when he went to Hira cave. And, the day that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before the Prophet (PBUH&HP), Imam Ali (AS) was there, too. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said to Imam Ali (AS) that: "O Ali, you see all that I see and you hear all that I hear, except that you are not a Prophet, but you are a vicegerent and you are surely on (the path of) virtue." .
Afterward, being perplexed by this happening, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) went home to describe what has happened to his wife, Khadija (AS). She (AS) was the first woman who testified to the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH&HP). And according to the authentic resources, the first man was Ali (AS) . Imam Ali (AS) has described the situation like this: "In those days Islam did not exist in any house except that of the Prophet of Allah (PBUH&HP) and Khadijah (AS), while I was the third after these two." .
In the beginning and according to divine guidelines, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) did not reveal his revelations publicly. Still, it was confined to a small circle of his family, close friends, and whoever he thought was eligible. In this period, the aim was to find real loyal fellows, although few. Of course, polytheists found about it, but they did not take it seriously .
Three years later, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) began to preach to his clan members by receiving the command to "Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk" (26:214). But he mostly received ridicule and mockery. Allah Almighty ordered him not to give up and make his mission publicly known: "So proclaim what you have been commanded, and turn away from the polytheists" (15:94).
The rich people of Mecca saw their power and wealth in danger with the ideas that Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) new religion proposed like social equality, sharing the wealth with needy people, and rejecting idols. On the contrary, people of the lower classes, slaves, and women were those who embraced Islam very soon .
According to the details above, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was chosen by Allah almighty at the time when humanity was at its dawn, and morality was long disappeared among humankind. He was the one who once more reminded human beings of the concept of humanity and the reason for creation.
[i] In the "Age of Ignorance" (before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)), people did not trust each other much and did not care about the safekeeping of others' affairs. But, everyone in Mecca trusted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and when they went to business travels, they entrusted their valuable goods to him. So, he was given the nickname "Al-Amin." And, this title continued to be used for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) after the emergence of Islam, too, although some people had become against him since he fought idolatry.
- "Nahjul Balaqah", Sermon 26.
- Allamah Amini, “Al-Ghadir”, vol. 3, p. 236.
- "Nahjul Balaqah", Sermon 192.
- Jafar Morteza Amoli, “Al-Sahih Min Sirat Al-Nabi Al-Azam”
At times of hardships over which we have no power, sometimes we find no remedy other than turning our face toward our Creator, the One who is aware of the manifest and the hidden. For sure, not everyone is able to endure difficulties and keep his/her faith; we might break easily and lose our hopes. However, those whose heart is dedicated to a Higher power and trust in His will find peace and hope in every difficult moment of their lives. Imam Sajjad (AS) is the perfect example of such people. His sincere worship to Allah at times when he was most distressed and under pressure, not only gave him the strength to deal with the problems but also left a legacy for generations after him to learn how to survive through putting trust in Allah.
In what follows, we will learn more about the life of this significant Muslim figure and a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
Ali ibn al-Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), known as Imam Sajjad (AS) and Imam Zayn al-Abidin (AS), is the son of Imam Hussain (AS) and Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdgerd, king of Persia . He is the fourth Imam of Shias. He was born on January 6, 659 A.D in Medina. He had many children, the most famous among whom was Muhammad al-Baqir (AS), the fifth Imam of Shias.
After being invited by Kufa people to help them rise against their tyrant ruler, Imam Hussain (AS) and his family, including Imam Sajjad (AS), set on a journey from Mecca toward Kufa, today's Iraq. On their way, Imam Sajjad (AS) was inflicted with high fever and became severely ill. His illness became even worse on the day of the battle of Karbala, to which Imam Hussain (AS) was forced, and couldn't even stand on his feet.
However, he constantly got the news of the events on the battlefield from his aunt, Lady Zaynab (AS), and others. When all of Imam Hussain's (AS) companion got martyred, he tried to guide Yazid's army one last time and called out: "Is there anyone who would defend Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny? Is there anyone who would worship the one and only Allah, who would fear Him and be on our side? And is there anyone who would help us for the sake of Allah?" On hearing this touching words of his father, Imam Sajjad (AS) got up from his sickbed with all his remaining strength, hold out to his walking stick, and started for the battlefield to help his father despite his severe condition. However, when Imam Hussain (AS) saw him, urged Lady Zainab (AS) to take him back to the tents so that he wouldn't get martyred like others and preserve the legacy of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny.
After Imam Hussain's (AS) martyrdom, Imam Sajjad (AS) along with lady Zaynab (AS) and other children and women from Imam Hussain's (AS) camp were treated utterly disrespectfully by Yazid's army and taken as captives. It's been said that since Imam Sajjad (AS) was ill and unable to sit on the camel, he was tied to it while in the chain. They were then transferred to Kufa.
When they reached Kufa, to belittle them more, Yazid's soldier took them right in the middle of the town and in front of people to witness their pitiful condition. However, Imam Sajjad (AS), despite his bodily weakness, found it the best chance to talk to people and inform them of what had befallen on them. He then stood in front of people and invited them to silence. First, he praised Allah and His Prophet (PBUH&HP). And then gave this moving speech:
"O' people! For the ones who don't know me, I should say that I am Ali, son of Hussain (AS), who was martyred beside the Euphrates, without being guilty of any crime from which he would be taken revenge, I am the son of the one who has been dishonored, whose property has been plundered and whose wife and children were taken as captives, I am the son of the one who has been killed painfully, yet we are honored and proud. O' people! Do you remember the letters you have sent to my father and deceived him, then took an oath of allegiance with him, yet went into war with him and left him alone? Woe to you! What have you stored [for your afterlife]! How would you face Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when he enquires: "Did you kill my progeny and dishonor me? Aren't you my Ummah (followers)?" 
People were ashamed and wanted to make promises to Imam Sajjad (AS), yet he didn't accept their oaths. Then, they were taken to Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's [i] palace. He first meant to kill Imam Sajjad (AS); however, with lady Zainab's (AS) strives, he changed his mind. After some days, by order of Ibn Ziyad, they were transferred to Damascus. They had a tough time in this city and were kept in the ruins of Damascus. Once, they attended Yazid's palace, where Imam Sajjad (AS) gave another persuasive speech in defense of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny. He introduced himself, his father, and his grandfather to people and told the people of Damascus that what Yazid and his agents have propagated are not valid. His father was not a rebel and did not want to disturb the Muslim community and make mischief in Islamic lands. He rose for truth and by invitation of Muslims to remove heresies brought up in religion and bring the simplicity and purity it had at the time of his grandfather. This speech proved the rightfulness of Imam Hussain (AS) and his movement at the face of Yazid's corrupt rule .
The leadership of Imam al-Sajjad (AS) began after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) on the day of Ashura and lasted for 34 or 35 years. During this time, the Islamic society, as the result of the corrupt governing system, was full of injustices and went totally against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
Being fully aware of the dire social and political conditions of the society, Imam Sajjad (AS) knew very well that he couldn't overtly invite people toward truthfulness and rise against the false strategies of the ruling government. Therefore, he chose to follow a wise and discreet policy in fighting against the oppression in society. Also, he meant to preserve the invaluable legacy left to him by his fathers and pass it safely to the following generations.
To this purpose, he made perfect use of indirect ways of teaching people and informing them of the vices which prevailed in the society. Praying was one of these strategies. Through his famous prayers to which we have access in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, he not only taught people about how to connect with Allah and trust Him in helping them to overcome their problems but also posed his opposition against the present situation.
Moreover, despite severe pressures of the government of the time, Imam Sajjad (AS) managed to train some Islamic scholars to whom he transferred the knowledge he inherited from his fathers and the words and deeds of his great grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his true teachings.
As his name suggests, Imam Sajjad (AS) was one of the most ardent worshippers of Allah after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He used to pray thousands of Rak'as of Salat in a matter of a day, which made him prostrate very much; thus, he is called Sajjad, meaning the person who prostrates much . His prayers and supplications recorded in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya were sincere and straightforward, which made them even more touching and impressive. Through these prayers, he revealed the perfect manner of calling out to Allah and finding our way to Him in every breath and whatever difficulty we are dealing with. Also, he used his prayers to covertly show his opposition against the tyrants of his time and make people aware of the situation.
Imam Sajjad (AS) following his father, Imam Hussain (AS), grandfather, Imam Ali (AS), and great grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), was fully observant of his manner toward people and treated them with his unbound compassion and generosity. Many accounts narrate this singular attitude of Imam Sajjad (AS) in his social and personal life.
For instance, once he was riding on his horse when he saw a group of lepers who were eating breakfast. When they saw Imam Sajjad (AS), they invited him to join them. Imam Sajjad (AS) said: "I would be glad to eat with you if I weren't fasting." As soon as he reached his house, he ordered his servants to cook some good food of the best things they had. Then he invited all those lepers to his house and joined them to eat dinner together .
In another account, it's been said that he used to fast during the day and cooked food himself while fasting. Then he would divide all the food among people and break his fast with some bread and dates .
His forgiving and humble character is recounted in many narrations, which reveals him to be the best role model for all humankind. In one instance, one of Imam Sajjad's (AS) adversaries insulted and cursed Imam in front of other people. Imam's servants came to punish the one who offended him, yet Imam ordered them to leave him alone, saying, "there is something more behind his manner toward us." Then he addressed the man and said, "Is there anything you need?" the man felt ashamed and didn't answer. Imam gave his own clothes to him and ordered to provide him with a hundred Dirhams. The man feeling regretful called out, "I witness that you are the son of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)." The same thing happened again with one of Imam Sajjad's (AS) relatives who met Imam and insulted him. Imam (AS) didn't answer him at the time. Then he went to his relative's house and while the man was expecting to get an angry response from Imam (AS), heard him saying, "My dear brother, a few minutes ago you stood in front of me and told whatever you wanted. Now, if what you said about me is true, then I seek pardon from Allah and ask for His forgiveness, and if what you said is not true about me, then I pray for you to be forgiven by Allah." The man became utterly ashamed and expressed his regret for accusing Imam Sajjad (AS) falsely .
He was also very famous for his secret charities to the people in need, many of whom found out about this unknown helper just after his martyrdom. He used to put a bag full of bread on his back and carry it to give out to the poor at night. It is narrated that he would gather whatever food remained in his own house, covered his face, and gave them all to the destitute of Medina .
Imam Sajjad (AS) was one of the most knowledgeable and learned personalities of his time. Muhammad ibn Muslim al-Zuhri, one of the Islamic scholars, said about him, "I found no Hashemite [ii] greater or more knowledgeable than him in fiqh [iii]." He was an expert in all the matters of his time and had access to the sciences, which wasn't available to the majority of people.
The legacy of Imam Sajjad (AS) had preserved through the centuries by the books compiled by the Islamic scholars from his supplications and prayers. The two most well-known of these books are Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya and Risalat al-huquq (Treatise on Rights).
Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya is the collection of Imam Sajjad's (AS) supplications, which also reflects the social status at that time, especially in Medina. The supplications present "his aversion to bad behaviors and speech of people at that time, taking refuge to God from what he saw and heard and clarifying the right path under the guidance of religion and the Quran and purification of souls from pollutions". This book has been translated into several languages.
Risalat al-huquq is the title of a lengthy narration from Imam Sajjad (AS) compiled as a book. "This narration, which contains over 50 duties of any individual toward others, is, in fact, a treatise on moral conduct in both personal and social life. The rights discussed in this treatise address various social relations of any individual, like the duties toward parents, spouse, children, neighbors, teachers, students, believers, the leader of Congregational Prayer, the government, etc. Because of the particular position and the comprehensive content, several translations and commentaries have been written on this treatise" .
Imam Sajjad (AS) was martyred in 713 or 714 A.D. with a poison given by order of al-Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik . He (AS) was buried in al-Baqi cemetery in Medina beside his uncle, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS) .
Finally, looking at the fruitful life of Imam Sajjad (AS), one can find the perfect path toward pure humanity. The path offered to us by Allah, which, despite having its own challenges, leads us to the fullest and most meaningful experience of this short life. The leaders are our guiding lights that shine through the darkness of our confusions and fluctuations, show us the way to prosperity, and grant us the opportunity to find Allah in every moment of our lives.
[i] The famous Umayyad commander, the governor of Kufa at the time of the Tragedy of 'Ashura and one of the key persons in the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions.
[ii] A famous clan in Medina from which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his progeny are descended.
[iii] An Islamic science through which practical laws and religious duties of a person in his life are studied.
- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, vol. 2 p. 128.
- imam Sajjad (AS)
- Shadidi, Sayyid Ja'far. Zindigani 'Ali b. al-Husayn. p.75.
- Dhahabi, Muhammad b. Ahmad al-. Al-'Ibar fi khabar, vol. 1, p. 83.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, Kitab al-Kafi, vol.2, p.123.
- Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, Al-Mahasin, vol.2, p.396.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.3, p.296.
- Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, vol.2, p.145.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.3, p.292-3.
- Dhahabi, Muhammad al-. Tadhkirat l-huffaz, vol. 1, p.75.
- imam Sajjad
- Mas'udi, 'Ali b. Husayn al-. Muruj al-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar, vol. 3, p. 160.
- Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, vol.3, p.160.
On Dhu al-Hijjah the 18th AH (March 632 CE), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), while returning from his last pilgrimage of Hajj named “the Farewell Hajj”, stopped at Ghadir Khumm (a pond) to make an announcement to the pilgrims who had accompanied him in the pilgrimage.
Ghadir Khumm was a place where people (who were about 10 thousand in number) from different lands like Iraq, Syria, and Egypt would part ways. But before they do, Gabriel revealed to the Prophet (PBUH & HP) one of the last verses of Quran. The verse is now called the verse of al-Tabligh (propagation):
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ
O Messenger! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message (the whole message of Islam), and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot. (The Holy Quran 5:67)
After the verse was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH & HP), he ordered the caravan to stop and ordered those who have passed Ghadir Khumm return and wait until those who had not yet arrived there join them. (1)
After performing the noon prayer, the Prophet (PBUH & HP) made a speech that now is one of the most famous speeches of the Prophet known as Ghadir sermon. Zeid ibn Argham, one of the famous companions of the Messenger (PBUH & HP) said:
“Once, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH & HP) made a speech for us near a pond named Ghadir which is between Mecca and Medina. Firstly, he praised Allah and talked about God and then said: ‘O people! I’m only a human and it is possible that the Apostle of my God (The angel of death) comes to me and I shall accept his invitation (my life ends) and I am leaving you al-Thaqalayn (two great things). The first one is the book of Allah (Quran) in which is guidance and light so follow it and hold fast to it.’ he advised us about the Book and encouraged us to follow it. Then the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘and (the second one is) my close family. By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family, By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family, By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family’” (2)
The Hadith above is known as “al-Thaqalayn”. It is one of the most famous Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) which indicates that the most important things which the Prophet has left for all Muslims are Quran and the family of the Prophet.
Bara’ ibn Azib, another famous companion of the Messenger, narrates the continuation of the Hadith:
“Then the Prophet raised Ali’s hand (so that all people can see it) and said: ‘don’t you know that I am more deserved to the leadership of the believers than themselves?’. People said: ‘yes, we know’. The Prophet said again: ‘don’t you know that I am more deserved to be the leader of every believer than themselves?’. People said: ‘yes, we know’. Then the Prophet said: ‘anyone whose Mawla is me, then Ali is his Mawla. O God! Be friends with his friends and be enemy of his enemies’. Then, Umar ibn Khattab (the second Caliph) met Ali and told him:
‘Congratulations to you, Congratulations to you, you just got the Mawla of every believer, men or women’”
Arna’oot, one of the most important religious Sunni researchers admits that this historical record is right and trustable. (3)
The word “Mawla” in Arabic language has lots of meanings. Shias and Sunnis disagree on the meaning of the word used in this hadith.
Sunni scholars mostly refuse to believe that the word “Mawla”, used in the Hadith, means “Leader” or “Prior in making decisions for somebody”. They rather suggest it means “friend or helper”. They argue that this word is never used in this meaning (Leader).
Shiites, in reply to Sunni scholars, say that this world have actually been used in this meaning (“the prior”) and some Sunni scholars have admitted that. (4) also, some experts in Arab literature admitted so too like Ghiyath Barghuth, Ajjaj (5), Yahya ibn Ziad al-Farra, Akhfash and so forth. (6)
To prove that the word Mawla in this Hadith means “Leader” and not “friend”, there are many evidences but we mention just one in this text.
The congratulation of Umar ibn Khattab can be a good evidence to prove that “Mawla” here doesn’t mean “friend”. Because, as we said before, Umar says: “Congratulations to you, you just got the Mawla of every believer, men or women” while Imam Ali was the friend of every believer before the Ghadir event, and it doesn’t make sense that he just got the friend of believers in there.
Ghazali, one of the most important reflective Sunni scholars in this regard, says:
“(After the sermon) Umar said: ‘Congratulations O Aba al-Hassan (Imam Ali (AS) ), you just got my friend and every believer’s friend’. So this shows submission and satisfaction (that Imam Ali is the successor of the Prophet) but after this event, due to his desire and love for power, he made himself Caliph and leader” (7)
People had not scattered yet, when Gabriel one more time came to the Prophet and revealed another verse to him:
الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.
The Hadith is that which is frequently narrated by different people and historians that no one can deny its authenticity.
The family of the Prophet i.e. Imam Ali himself, Lady Fatima, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain are among the narrators of this Hadith. Also many of the companions of the Messenger narrated this Hadith. Kattani, one of the Sunni scholars, says that about 30 companions of the Prophet narrated this story including: Umar ibn Khattab, Zeid ibn Argham, Abi Hurairah, Sa’d ibn Waghas and etc. (8)
Due to this fact that this Hadith is so frequently narrated, it is called “Mutavatir”, meaning that this Hadith is undeniable.
Shi'as have always regarded the Day of Ghadir as one of the greatest Eids and this day is known to them as Eid al-Ghadir. Imam Sadiq (AS) says that the Eid al-Ghadir is the greatest Eid of Allah. Its name in skies is “the day of Promise” and in the earth “the day of Covenant”. (9)
Shiites believe that this day was the day that Imam Ali (AS), our first Imam, was officially announced to be the successor of the Prophet (PBUH & HP). So this day is a great holiday for them and fasting in it is so recommended. In this day, Shiites go to the house of Seyyed people -the descendants of Imam Ali and Lady Fatimah- and congratulate them. In return, Seyyed people give them gifts. It is highly recommended to conduct parties in this day and give food to the needy ones.
For more information about Ghadir Khumm, you can read the book al-Ghadir, by Allamah al-Amini (Arabic).
- At-Tafsir, al-Ayyashi, vol.1, Pg.332
- Sahih al-Muslim, vol.4, Pg.1873
- Musnad ibn Hanbal, published by ar-Risalah, vol.30, Pg.430
- Sharh al-Maqasid, al-Taftazani, vol.5, Pg.273
- Al-Shfi, Sharif al-Murtaza, vol.2, Pg.270
- At-Tafsir al-Kabir, Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi, vol.29, Pg.227
- Sir al-A’lamin, al-Ghazali, vol.1, Pg.18
- Nazm al-Mutanathir, al-Kattani, vol.1, Pg.194
- Vasa’il ash-Shiah, Sheik Hurr al-A’meli, vol.5, Pg.224