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.
Human beings by nature are social creatures, in need of companions and friends. Most of our lives depend on interactions with others, and man is therefore compelled to live in society and with other individuals. Friendship in Islam is considered one of the Divine blessings through which one overcomes loneliness and solitude.
Islam has placed tremendous importance on sociability and friendship. In the Quran [i], great emphasis has been placed on the concept of friendship because maintaining good company plays a pivotal role in shaping the life of the individual and it influences the path that will be chosen in life. Likewise, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS) on different occasions had clearly stated its importance, criteria for choosing a friend, characteristics of a good friend and the rights of a friend .
Friends are an integral and important part of our social life as they contribute greatly to the development of one’s personality and they affect many aspects of our lives. Islam, in complete harmony with man’s nature, deals extensively both in the Quran and the narrations (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) with the issue of friendship in Islam.
In the Quran, Allah says:
“On that day, friends will be one another’s enemies, except for the Godwary.” (43:67)
The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) while explaining the impact of friends says:
“Man is influenced by the faith of his friends. Therefore, be careful of whom you befriend.”
Similarly, the commander of the faithful; Imam Ali (AS) says:
“Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes” 
Islam attaches great emphasis on the choice of a friend to be selected in life. For this purpose, it is expected that one should employ his/her judgment in a manner free from emotion and try to set aside the criterion for assessing his/her real worth. “One must know his/her inadequacies and weak points, his/her ideas, feelings, dislikes and infirmities. Ultimately, one must discover the human merits and desirable qualities that he/she carries in the depth of his/her spirit so that one may benefit from his/her outstanding virtues.”
Therefore, for the great good or bad influences friends can have on the characters and personality of each other, it is important for every man of reason to choose friends that are characterized by good mannerism and behavior.
Meanwhile, in accordance with the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS), a Muslim must avoid certain sets of people as friends: transgressor, hypocrites, foolish, liar, sinful, stingy, and disregardful to his/her relatives. Similarly, non-Muslims should not be taken as intimate friends or allies .
However, there is no hindrance for a boy having a girl as a friend or vice versa, so far as the Islamic regulations (such as the Islamic Hijab, avoidance of indiscriminate touching, etc.) are observed and they avoid any sinful act.
In Islam, the followings are some of the characteristics to be looked forward to in a friend:
Uprightness and well mannerism
Following some narrations (Hadiths) , friendship entails certain trusts and duties. The one who observes them is a true friend while one who breach them is unworthy of friendship in Islam. Here are some of the rights of friends:
Respecting them and their personality 
Rendering material supports in the time of need 
Advising them when they need your advice 
Forgiving their shortcomings 
Concealing their lapses and faults from others 
Visiting them when they are sick 
Participating in their funeral when they die
Concisely, friends are integral parts of our social life, and it is important to be selective in the choice of companions and friends. The righteous ones who lead one to righteousness in this world and prosperity in the Hereafter should be considered as friends.
In contrast, hypocrites and ill-mannered individuals who are sources of plights in this world and in the Hereafter should not be taken as friends. Similarly, Islam teaches the Muslims to observe certain matters in friendly relations. This is because immoderation in this regard may lead to deplorable consequences and bring regret and pain.
[i] (9: 71), (25: 27-29), etc.
- Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 177; Mustadrak Wasa’il, Vol. 5, chapter 42
- Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 74, P. 192.
- Mahdi as-Sadr, The Ahlul-Bayt; Ethical role models, P. 290.
- Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Ethics and Spiritual growth, P. 211.
- (3: 28); (4: 144); (5: 51); (9: 23) etc.
- Imam Ali Zayn al-Abideen, Treatise on Rights, Right 33 (The right of the companion)
- Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 198, Hadith No: 8.
- Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 775
- Ibid, P. 707
- Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 16, P. 233, Hadith 35
- Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, P. 173.
When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was writing letters to the Heads of neighboring states, he referred to Jesus Christ (PBUH) as the messenger of Allah and then invited them to Islam. In his letter to Nagaci, the king of Ethiopia, he wrote:
“… He, the King, the Holy peace insured dominant, and I bear witness that Jesus son of Mary, the Spirit of Allah and his speech was delivered to the Virgin Mary the good bunker. Allah created Jesus from his soul, just as he created Adam with his hand, and I invite you and your soldiers to Allah Almighty, has reached and advised receive my advice, and peace be upon those who follow guidance”.
Insisting on the fact that he knew Jesus (PBUH) and that he was the son of Mary, he wanted them to know that Islam is no different from true Christianity. The Quran, on the other hand, insists on this and reveals the fact that his name was stated before in the holy books:
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful." (7:157)
But is that true?
Here we are going to discuss some of those verses and words.
“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”(18:18)
Al-Samawal Al-Maghribi was a Jewish mathematician who converted to Islam and had interpretations of the verses of the Old and New Testament. He interprets this verse as referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The description given in this verse about the future prophet is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) since it’s similar to the description given before about the children of Esau (Jesus). There is another verse that is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in his point of view:
"The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.” (33:2)
Al-Maghribi states that in this verse, Mount Sinai refers to Moses, Mount Seir refers to Jesus, and Mount Paren refers to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). 
This chapter is shared between the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In verses 1 to 4 of this chapter, we read:
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” (42:1-5)
According to the verses above, a prophet was coming from the children of Qedar, the second son of Ishmael , and also the nomadic Arab tribe, which was known as the most significant organized Arab tribe . He is also sent to the same tribe to guide them on the right path. The other point about the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) mentioned in this verse is that his religion was universal, willing to stand against gods and goddesses. Everyone waited for his coming, and different tribes would follow him.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “ (14:16-17)
Muslims’ interpretation of this verse states that the two words meaning comforter and famous, were used interchangeably and Jesus in prophesying the coming of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).  They also relate these verses to a verse of the Quran about Jesus Christ, telling his people about the coming of the next prophet:
“And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidence, they said, "This is obvious magic.” (61:6)
According to this verse, the name Ahmad is given for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and it means the praised one. According to the translations of the holy bible, the word periklutos means the celebrated or praised one means Ahmad. The word is repeated in John 14, John 15 and 16.
According to the verses above, the coming of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was prophesied by the former prophets. And many Jews and Christians were aware of the coming of a new prophet. However, many of them rejected his invitation. Why?
You will find out in the next article.
- al-Maghribi, Al-Samawal; Confutation of the Jews (in Arabic). Syria: Dar Al Qalam, 1989, 75-77
- Besharat Ahdein
- Stearns and Langer, 2001, p. 41.
- Zepp, Ira G. A Muslim Primer: Beginner's Guide to Islam. Vol. 1. University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 50-51