LIVES OF THE TWELVE IMAMS FROM THE AHLE BAIT (The Custodians of The Message of Islam)

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LIVES OF THE TWELVE IMAMS FROM THE AHLE BAIT (The Custodians of The Message of Islam)

Author: Syed Haider Husain Shamsi
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LIVES OF THE TWELVE IMAMS FROM THE AHLE BAIT (The Custodians of The Message of Islam)

LIVES OF THE TWELVE IMAMS FROM THE AHLE BAIT (The Custodians of The Message of Islam)

Author:
Publisher: www.al-huda.com
English

www.alhassanain.org/english

And the Message of Islam Continues

LIVES OF THE TWELVE IMAMS FROM THE AHLE BAIT

(The Custodians of The Message of Islam)

By

Dr. Syed Haider Husain Shamsi

Published By

Al-Huda Foundation

35 West Demarest Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631

First USA Edition 1999

Library of Congress Number: 98-093953

ISBN Number: 1-885140-03-7

To Order:

Khatoons Inc.

6650 Autumn Wind Circle, Clarksville MD 21029

Tel: 1 800 667 7884 / Web: www.khatoons.com

www.alhassanain.org/english

Notice:

This version is published on behalf of www.alhassanain.org/english

The composing errors are not corrected.

Table of Contents

In Memorium 8

Preface 9

Introduction 11

Dedication: 14

The First Imam: Ali ibne Abi Talib (AS) 15

LIFE OF ALI DURING THE TIMES OF THE PROPHET 15

ALI IS THE IMAM OF GUIDANCE 21

THE PROPHET'S AHADITH ON IMAM ALI 22

On Relationship of Imam Ali with the Prophet (pbuh) 22

LIFE OF ALI DURING THE TIMES OF THE FIRST THREE CALIPHS 23

LIFE OF IMAM ALI AS A CALIPH 25

THE BATTLE OF JAMAL (CAMEL) 25

THE BATTLE OF SIFFEEN 25

EMERGENCE OF THE KHARJITES 26

THE BATTLE OF NAHRAWAN 26

THE SEQUELAE OF SIFFEEN AND NAHRAWAN 26

THE MARTYRDOM OF IMAM ALI 27

REFLECIRIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI 27

NAHJUL-BALAGHA (Peak of Eloquence) 28

THE DEWAN (COLLECTED POETRY) OF IMAM ALI 29

GNOSIS OF ALLAH ACCORDING TO IMAM ALI 29

IMAM ALI, THE ORIGINATOR OF FIQ (ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE) 30

IMAM ALI ON KNOWLEDGE 31

Selected Sayings of Imam Ali 31

The Second Imam: Hasan ibne Ali (AS) 33

LIFE OF HASAN (as) DURING 33

THE TIMES OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD 33

LIFE OF HASAN DURING THE TIMES OF IMAM ALI 33

THE LIFE OF IMAM HASAN AS A CALIPH 34

THE PEACE TREATY 35

THE MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HASAN 36

REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE OF IMAM HASAN 37

THE TABLE OF IMAM HASAN 37

The Third Imam: Husain ibne Ali (AS) 38

THE LIFE OF HUSAIN 38

DURING THE TIMES OF THE PROPHET 38

THE LIFE OF HUSAIN DURING THE TIMES OF IMAM ALI AND IMAM HASAN 39

THE CONFRONTATION WITH YAZID BIN MUAWIYAH AND THE TRAGEDY OF KARBALA 39

CHRONOLOGY OF IMPORTANT EVENTS 42

Rajab, 60 AH 42

Rajab 28,60 AH 42

Sha'ban 3,60 AH 42

Zil Haj 8,60 AH 42

Zil Hajj 9,60 AH 42

Muharram 1, 61 AH 42

Muharram 2 43

Muharram 3 43

Muharram 4 43

Muharram 5 43

Muharram 6 43

Muharram 7 43

Muharram 8 44

Muharram 9 44

The Eve of Muharram 10 44

Muharram 10: Morning 45

Muharram 10: Mid-day 45

Muharram 10: Evening 46

Muharram 11 46

Rabi-ul Awwal 16, 61 AH 46

Safar 20, 62 AH 46

Rabi-ul Awwal 8, 62 AH 46

ZAINAB BINTE ALI, THE SISTER OF IMAM HUSAIN 46

ZAINAB'S ADDRESS IN THE COURT OF YAZID 50

REFLECFIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM HUSAIN 51

The Fourth Imam: Ali ibne al-Husain (AS) 53

THE LIFE OF ALI IBN Al-HUSAIN 53

FROM BIRTH TO THE TRAGEDY OF KARBALA 53

THE JOURNEY OF THE CAPTIVES OF KARBALA 53

RETURN OF THE CAPTIVES TO MADINAH 54

THE LIFE OF IMAM ZAIN AL-ABIDEEN DURING OTHER UMAYYAD CALIPHS OF HIS TIME 54

THE MARTYRDOM OF IMAM ALI IBN Al-HUSAIN 56

AS-SAHIFAHAS-SAJJAIYYA (The Book of as-Saijad) 57

RISALE-E HUQOOQ (The Testament of Rights) 57

The Fifth Imam: Muhammad ibne Ali (AS) 59

THE LIFE AND THE TIMES OF IMAM MUHAMMAD BAQIR 59

REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD BAQIR 60

THE INSTITUTION OF MAJALIS 60

Selected Sayings 61

The Sixth Imam: Ja'far ibne Muhammad (AS) 62

THE LIFE AND THE TIMES OF IMAM JA'FAR AS-SAADIQ (as) 62

Selected Sayings: 65

REFLECFIONS ON THE LIFE OFIMAM JA'FAR AS-SAADIQ 66

FIQH JAFARIYYA (The Ja'fariyya School of Islamic Jurisprudence) 66

RISALA E TAWHEED MUFADHAL (The Epistle on the Unity of Allah) 68

The Seventh Imam: Musa ibne Ja'far (AS) 69

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF IMAM MUSA AL-KAZIM 69

REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND CONDUCT OFIMAM MUSA BIN JA'FAR 70

Selected Sayings: 71

The Eighth Imam: Ali ibne Musa (AS) 72

THE LIFE AND THE TIMES OF IMAM ALI BIN MUSA 72

REFLECRIONS ON THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI AR-REZA 73

Selected Sayings: 74

The Ninth Imam: Muhammad ibne Ali (AS) 76

THE TIMES AND LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD TAQI 76

The Imam's first contact with the Caliph: 76

The Imam's Second contact with the Caliph: 76

The Imam's Contest with the Chief Kadhi of Baghdad: 77

REFLECTIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD TAQI 78

Selected Quotes: 78

Selected Sayings: 79

The Tenth Imam: Ali ibne Muhammad (AS) 80

THE TIMES AND THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI NAQI 80

REFLECRIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI NAQI 82

Selected Quotes: 82

Selected Sayings: 83

The Eleventh Imam: Hasan ibne Ali (AS) 84

THE TIMES AND LIFE OF IMAM HASAN AL-ASKARI 84

REFLECTIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM HASAN AL-ASKARI 85

Selected Quotes: 85

1.He told his followers: 85

2. He told one of his companions: 86

Selected Sayings: 86

TAFSEER-EASKARI (The Commentary on Holy Qur'an By Imam Hasan Askari) 86

The Twelfth Imam: 88

THE TIMES AND LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-MAHDI (as) 88

The Birth of Imam Mahdi(as): 88

THE OCCULTATION OF THE TWELFTH IMAM 88

Ghaibat us-Sughra (The Lesser Occultation): 88

Ghaibat al-Kubra (the Greater Occultation): 89

THE TRADITION OF WRITING LETTERS TO IMAM-E ZAMAN (as) 89

GUIDANCE FROM IMAM AL-MAHDI (as) 89

THE RETURN OF THE TWELFRH IMAM AL-MAHDI (as) 90

THE TRUE CLAIM: 90

THE PRETENDERS AND FALSE CLAIMANTS: 90

The Fatimid Dynasty, and of the Ismailia Sect 91

The Muwahids of Morocco: 92

The Mahdawi Sect: 92

The Babi Sect: 93

The Bahai Sect: 93

The Ahmadiya Sect: 94

Bibliography 95

Source Books of Reference: 95

Books on the Philosophy and Facts on Itimate and Caliphate: 95

Books on the History of Islam: 95

Books on the Biography of the Twelve Imams: 95

Books on the Quotes and Sayings of the Twelve Imams: 96

Appendices 97

In Memorium

In Loving Memory of My Dear Husband

Syed Haider Hussain Shamsi was a distinguished educator whose unique intellect and example enriched the lives of those who came in contact with him. He pursued a life of moral and intellectual ideas as a teacher and mentor, and worked tirelessly to pass on the wisdom gained through his own experience to others. It was his firm belief that civilizations decline when they lose their capacity to recognize, understand, and absorb change. In this spirit, he dedicated much of his time educating Muslim youth on how to overcome the challenges of today's difficult and changing times. He continuously passed his message of how to live a meaningful life as he journeyed through his own life as a Momin and a human being.

Born in Pakistan and raised in Kenya, he received his early education in both countries. He completed his post graduate studies in England, where he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in recognition of his continued academic excellence. He moved to the United States in 1977 and worked at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, where he was appointed as the director of the Obstetrics and Residency Training Program. Later, he joined the faculty of Columbia University's Sloane Hospital for Women, where he trained residents and students, and worked on various outreach programs.

Haider passed away on April 21, 1999, a few months before this book was published. By Allah's grace, may his soul rest in peace.

Allaho Noorus-samawaati wal-arz, Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth.

Noorun ala noor!

Light upon light!

Yahillaahu li Noorehi man-yashaa

Allah guides whom He wishes to His Light.

Holy Qur'an (24:35)

Dr.Adiba K.Shamsi

(The readers are requested to recite Sura Fateha for the author )

Preface

Imamate is an important part of the Islamic guidance system, yet many parents and teachers have observed that very little has been written on the subject in the English language. I had the good fortune of participating at young age, in the learning and teaching of the subject in the English language under the guidance of my late father, Syed Muhammad Husain Shamsi in Nairobi, Kenya. For the last twelve years, I have been involved with Sunday School teaching to the youth of the Muslim community in Englewood, New Jersey, and recently in Queens, New York. I have collected my own notes on the subject and have arranged them into the form of this book. Honoring the suggestions of my reviewers, I have maintained a style of simplicity and brevity without compromising the necessary facts about each of the Imams.

While extensive reference literature is available on this subject in the Arabic, the Persian and the Urdu languages, there is a dearth of translated or original works in the English language. This book was designed specifically to address this deficiency. The information has been derived from popular books of biography, history, traditions of the Prophet of Islam, as well as al-Qur’an. A classified list of references is appended at the end of this book.

The title of the book, "And The Message of Islam Continues", was chosen after considerable thought. This was in keeping with the spirit and the intention of the Messenger of Islam. The Message of Islam had continued to be delivered to all nations of mankind through the messengers of Allah, ending with Muhammad, the last messenger. Allah, with His Divine Justice, instituted the faculty of Imamate to perpetuate His Message and to provide His continued guidance to mankind. This is attested by Allah in the Quran.

All Muslims generally accept the institution of Imamate. However, it is important to know that this institution actually evolved through two main systems of belief based on the methodology and the interpretation of the Islamic Law (Fiqh). Into one of these systems belong the Shiite Muslims who follow the Fiqh Ja’fariyya. This Fiqh was formalized as a School by Imam Ja'far us-Sadiq (the Sixth Imam) and hence the eponym Ja’fariyya. The methodology of its teaching and practice was carried out by each one of the Twelve Imams of the Ahle Bait without any change. The life histories of these Imams are covered in this book. Sunni Muslims, who follow one of four of other schools of Fiqh, belong to the other system. These are the Maliki Fiqh, the Hanafi Fiqh, the Shafi'i Fiqh and the Hanbali, Fiqh, each named after its founder. The life histories, the teachings and the works of the proponents of these Schools of Fiqh will be published separately.

It is hoped that this book will be of use to teachers, students and others to learn about the lives, the mission and the sacrifices of the Twelve Imams. We welcome their comments and suggestions to help improve future works of the subject.

I thank my wife Adiba for tolerating my long hours at the computer on the weekends and late nights researching the literature for this book. I am particularly indebted to her for her critique on the contents of the text.

I thank brother Nasir Shamsi and Dr. Nazir Hasan Zaidi for their meticulous review and critique of the substance of the book. Further, I must express my gratitude to many among our youth who read the manuscript and gave me valuable suggestions on keeping the language of the text simple, brief and suitable for the young reader. I am especially thankful to Zahra Mamdani, who undertook the task of proof reading my typescript. The encouragement and support obtained from these sources sustain me in my effort to continue my search in the areas of religious knowledge and make it available to the Muslim youth.

I am grateful to my brother Syed Hadi Husain Shamsi of Sheffield, England, too and Dr. Hameed Ghilak of New York for the pictures of the mausoleums of the Imams. Brother Tajul Imam of Graphics Media, Queen, New York, designed the elegant cover of this book.

Dr. Syed Haider Husain Shamsi

Demarest, New Jersey, USA: 1998

Introduction

Al-Qur’an is the Word of Allah, His Last Testament revealed to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. Muhammad was the Last Messenger and the Blessing of Allah for all mankind. The Quran contains commandments, laws and references prescribed by Allah for mankind to live a balanced and guided life on earth, and to prepare for the eternal life of fulfillment after the material death.

The Prophet of Islam lived his life in accordance with this Qur’anic code of law and interpreted this to the believers. His way of life changed the old ways, and became the new Sunna (the code of conduct) for the Muslims to emulate. The sayings and the quotes from the Prophet constitute al-Hadith (the Traditions).

Al-Islam, the Faith of all Muslims, was perfected and completed by Allah through His last Messenger. The Qur’an, very clearly and eloquently speaks about Huquq-ullah (the rights of Allah) and Huquq ul-ibad (the rights of people), and gives out details on how to regulate one’s personal life, manage personal assets, conduct business with others, observe human rights in peace and war, charitable giving, helping the orphans and the widows, distribution of one's estate after death and the methodology of making the last will. It is beyond comprehension that Allah would not have given specific instructions to His Last Messenger regarding the continuation of the Message after him. However, the Divine Justice did provide a specific certificate of completion of the Faith when the Prophet made a public announcement of his successor with the Last Revelation from Allah: "This Day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion” V:4.

It was that day the Prophet announced Ali to be his successor. Ali would be their Maula (lord), just as he himself had been to them. This event is recorded in all the books of Hadith and many classic writers have expounded it with details extracted from the authentic books of Hadith. Whereas most Muslim authorities agree that this event actually did take place, they disagree over its interpretation and implication. According to the Shiite interpretation, this event signified the appointment of Ali as the successor to the Prophet, as well as the lmam of the time.

However, on the death of the Prophet, Abu Bakr was elected the first Caliph in Saqeefa Banu Sa’ada under unusual circumstances. The supporters of the election considered it to be extremely important to obtain the oath of fealty from the Madinites. Ali was busy with the burial of the Prophet and could not participate in the conference held at the Saqeefa. Since Ali knew that the Prophet had intended him (Ali) to be his (the Prophet's) successor, he refused to acknowledge Abu Bakr as the successor to the Prophet. For his refusal, Ali had to endure hostilities.

Just before his death Abu Bakr nominated Umar to be his successor, and Ali was overlooked. Likewise, before his death, Umar appointed a committee that picked Uthman as the third Caliph and Ali was ignored once again inspite of his definite superiority over others on all grounds. When Uthman was murdered and the Islamic State was in a terrible mess, people came to Ali and begged him to assume the responsibility of the Caliphate, which he did.

The tenure of Ali's rule was plagued with bloody civil wars, the causes of which began with the election of the first Caliph and the associated developments that followed. The progeny of Ali, the chain of the twelve Imams, also continued to suffer from the consequences of the same rift in the politico-religious philosophy that has divided the Muslim Ummah (the nation of believers) into the Shiite and the Sunni Muslims. This rift widened especially after the battle of Siffin.

With the passage of time, the Caliphate became a purely political and administrative position. Most caliphs in the dynasties that followed, were quite impious and unworthy of being the representatives of the Messenger of Islam. The religious guidance of the Ummah had to come from the legitimate representatives of the Prophet. This representation came from the Imams from among the Ahle Bait, the progeny of Ali and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet of Islam.

Following the example of their patriarch Ali, the Imams of Ahle Bait did not contest the rulers of the time for their political standing, but continued to uphold the Truth, and to represent and guard the Message of Islam with their lives. For this, they had to suffer persecution, internment and martyrdom at the hands of the caliphs of the time.

The word Imam has generally been used in different contexts. For example an Imam is one who leads a prayer in a congregation. An Imam could be a learned man of the Faith. Many renowned authors of religious books and jurists have also been called Imams. The rulers of certain Muslim states even today are known as Imams. However, the concept of Imamate as held by the Shiite Muslims has a specific meaning and significance.

According to the Shiite Muslims, there are ahadith quoted from the Prophet himself, saying that the Imam of guidance were to be from among his Ahle Bait. He had predicted their number as being no less than or greater than twelve. These Imams could neither be self-proclaimed nor elected or appointed by a popular vote. The appointment of the Imai-n is a divine ordinance and must be affected according to the Will of Allah. These criteria include the elements of piety and infallibility. This further means that the personality of the Imam has to be that of a Perfect Human being (Insaane Kamil).

According to the Sunni Muslims, the Imam need not belong to the Ahle Bait of the Prophet. Whereas such a person should be pious, his appointment need not come from the Prophet or Allah, and the Ummah may choose or elect any pious person to be their Imai-n. Here, although piety is an essential pre-requisite, the human fallibility cannot be excluded.

The twelve Imams from the Ahle Bait carry an unbroken chain of custodianship of the Message of Islam, and link themselves to the Messenger through his daughter Fatima, and her husband, Ali. They all conveyed the same uniform message to the believers, the same tradition and the same methodology in the spiritual and ritual practices of the faith. They had declined to accept the rulers of the time as U-lul Amr (the ones vested with authority by Allah).

Each one of the twelve Imams got his appointment as the successor before the preceding Imam passed away. Because of the nature of their appointment, they did not accept the caliphs of their times to be the U-lul Amr (the ones vested with authority from Allah). For this, they had to endure unrelenting persecution at the hands of the caliphs. None of them could lead a peaceful life. Eleven Imams were either slain or poisoned, the Twelfth Imam (Muhammad al-Mahdi) is in Ghaibat (hidden). For the believers, the Twelve Imams are the means of Salvation. They are the "Rope o 'Allah " that would lead mankind from earthly errors to heavenly piety. Allah says in al-Qur’an: "And hold fast, all together, by the Rope which Allah stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves: and remember with gratitude Allah’s favor on you” III: 103.

"Nor does he (Muhammad) say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than revelation sent down on him.'He was taught by one Mighty in Power." Llll: 3-5

The Prophet is quoted having said "I am leaving behind you Something, that if you take hold of it you would not be misguided after me, (that is) Thaqalayn (two precious things). One of them is higher than the other, the Book o 'Allah, which is a Rope extended from the heaven to the earth, and my kindred (Itrat), my household (Ahle Bait); for indeed the two of them will never separate until they return to me by the Hawd al-Kawthar (the Pond).

The famous jurist Imam ash-Shafii composed a lively poem on Islamic Unity, and expounded on the Rope of Allah thus:

When I saw the people carried off

Their departure to the sea of errors and ignorance

In the name of Allah, I boarded the Ark of Salvation

This is Ahle Bait of Mustafa., the Seal of Prophecy

And I caught hold of the Role of Allah, that is their love

As He commanded us to hold fast to the Rope".

Dedication:

This book is dedicated to my parents whose love,

nurture and sacrifices shaped my personality and career.