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Imam Sajjad (as) in the Court of Ibn Ziyad

When Ibn Ziyad ordered that Ali ibn Husayn should be killed, Lady Zaynab said: “O son of Ziyad! If you want to kill him kill me along with him”. The Imam, however, said: “Dear aunt! Be calm, I shall give him a reply myself”. Then he said: “O son of Ziyad! Do you threaten to kill me? Don’t you know that being killed is our legacy and martyrdom is an honor for us.

Imam Sajjad was brought to Ibn Ziyad’s court and made to stand before that tyrant. “Who are you?” He asked the Imam. The Imam replied: “I am Ali ibn Husayn”. He said: “Did Allah not kill Ali ibn Husayn?” The Imam replied: “I had a brother whose name was also Ali and the people killed him “. (The Imam meant to tell Ibn Ziyad not to attribute sin to Allah and not to say something irrelevant, because it was the people and not Allah who killed Ali ibn Husayn in Karbala). Ibn Ziyad said: “It is not so. Allah killed him”. In reply to this the Imam recited a verse of the Qur’an: Allah takes the souls when the time of their death comes, (Surah al-Zumar, 39:42) but He is not their killer.

When Ibn Ziyad saw that the young ailing prisoner had given back replies time and again to what he said he got annoyed and said: “Do you still have courage to resist what I say?” Then he said to his men: “Take him away and chop off his head”.

On hearing this lady Zaynab got very much worried and disturbed. However, the only reply which the fourth Imam gave to Ibn Ziyad was this: “If you kill me with whom will you send these women?” Then he added: “After killing me you should send with them a pious Muslim, who should behave towards them according to the orders of Islam”.

The fourth Imam did not utter a sentence requesting Ibn Ziyad to spare his life. He only said: “When I am killed do not send with these sacred women a man, who is impious and a non-Muslim”.[1]

In Syria also Imam Sajjad got some such opportunities and availed of them to the maximum possible extent. When Imam Sajjad was a captive in Damascus a man named Ibrahim bin Talha bin Ubaydullah Taymi came before him in the Bazaar and said tauntingly: “O Ali bin Husayn! Who was victorious in this battle?” He meant to say that the Ahlul Bayt suffered a crushing defeat and their enemies won a glorious victory.

The Imam said to him in reply: “Now that the time for prayers is approaching you should pronounce Azan and Iqamah so that you may come to know and understand clearly as to who has been victorious”. The Imam meant to tell him this: ‘As you belong to the Taym tribe of Quraysh you are perhaps happy for some reasons that Bani Hashim had suffered defeat. However, so long as you are a Muslim it is necessary for you to pronounce in Azan as well as Iqamah: “I testify that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”.

We and not others are the descendants and heirs of Prophet Muhammad without mentioning whose name and invoking Divine blessings for him the prayers’ of any Muslim are not acceptable. Hence, so long as Islam exists the honor and glory belonging to us, the descendants of Muhammad, will also remain established and confirmed’.

The Imam uttered these brief but fascinating words in reply to one person and perhaps uttered it in a low tone, but these very words uttered in low tones continue to resound in history. At times it so happens that only one sentence becomes the cause of coming into existence of many important books, speeches and articles.

At that time neither Ibrahim, nor Talha nor anyone else could assess the importance of these brief words and pay attention to its essence overlooking its form, but the Imam knew that even if he had come to Syria to utter only this brief sentence and to say nothing else during this journey, it would be sufficient to achieve the object he had in view, and those who could not make the requisite assessment at that time would shortly later applaud the plan chalked out by Imam Husayn and his companions and Ahlul Bayt.

Imam Sajjad got another opportunity when the Ahlul Bayt were made to stand by the gate of the Masjid of Damascus, the place where the prisoners were usually kept. An old man, who was a Syrian, came there and said: “I thank Allah that He has killed and destroyed you and annihilated seditious people like you”. Then he began abusing the Ahlul Bayt.

The fourth Imam kept quiet and let him speak on till he became silent. In his reply, however, he did not say any improper thing nor complained to the old man of using abusive language. At that time the fourth Imam was ill and was also a traveler and had experienced the hardships of the journey from Kufa to Damascus.

He was also bereaved and afflicted. Furthermore, he had arrived in a city which was at that time the center of the enemy of Ahlul Bayt. The Syrian used abusive language, expressed pleasure and thanked Allah for what had happened. When all these causes of annoyance and fury are present who can keep calm and not lose temper or give a harsh reply? It is not possible for a person to control himself in such circumstances, whoever he may be.

However, the Imam behaved towards the old Syrian like a kind and sympathetic teacher, as if he had experienced nothing from him except kindness and respect and asked him mildly: “Have you read the Qur’an?” He replied “Yes, why not?” Thereupon the Imam said: “Have you not read the verse: Say, O Muhammad! I do not want from you any recompense for my preaching to you except that you should love my kin.