A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)
A brief look at the lives of the second, third, fourth and fifth Imams.
Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current series is an introduction to the 14 Infallibles of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).
In this lesson, we will be continuing with the lives of the infallibles. We have so far covered Imam Ali (as) and Fatima al-Zahra (as). Here will continue by briefly discussing the lives of Imam Hasan (as), Imam Husayn (as), Imam Zayn al-Abideen (as) and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as).
As this is only a ten minute lecture, our coverage will naturally be limited. Please tune into the further reading list of this lecture for more information.
BODY OF TEXT
Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. (Chapter 33, verse 33 of the Holy Qur’an)
Imam al-Hasan (as)
Let us begin with Imam al-Hasan (as). Imam Hasan (as) was born in 625 A.D and was the second Imam in the line of 12 Imams. His father was Imam Ali (as) and his mother was Fatima al-Zahra (as). Naturally, his grandfather was none other than the Messenger of Allah (s).
One of the features of Imam Hasan (as) that stood out was his striking resemblance to the Prophet (s) himself. The resemblance was so striking that the Prophet Muhammad (s) once stated that “Hasan has my form and my nobility.”
Imam Hasan (as) grew up being raised by Imam Ali (as) and the Prophet Muhammad (s). In addition to knowledge, he inherited much of the compassion, mercy and wisdom of his father and grandfather.
This wisdom became useful during his short tenure as Caliph. Muawiyah, Imam Ali’s archenemy, had given an ultimatum to Imam Hasan (as) to step down from the Caliphate and hand it over to him after bribing his followers to betray him. Imam Hasan, in his compassion for Muslim lives, gave up power in order to avoid bloodshed.
Imam Hasan (as) died in the year 670 A.D after being poisoned by his wife. His wife was hired by Muawiyah to assassinate with the false promise of having the opportunity to marry his son Yazid.
Imam al-Husayn (as)
Imam Husayn (as) was the brother of Imam Hasan and the third Imam. Like Imam Hasan, he was the son of Fatima al-Zahra and Imam Ali (as) as well as the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
Some of the outstanding traits he inherited from the Prophet Muhammad (s) was his generosity and bravery.
The most distinguishing feature of Imam Husayn’s (as) life was the event of Karbala. Karbala was where Imam Husayn (as) refused to bow down to the tyrant of his time, Yazid, son of Muawiyah.
Unlike his predecessors who subverted Islam behind the curtain, Yazid was subverting Islam publically. He murdered, led prayers drunk, and would even recite poetry against the Prophet Muhammad (s). With all this, Yazid wanted to force Imam Husayn (as) to give allegiance to him, but Imam Husayn (as) refused.
As a result, Imam Husayn (as) was killed along with most of his family. He died in 680 A.D. See one of our later lectures on a larger account of Karbala.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as)
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) was the son of Imam Husayn (as) and was the fourth Imam. Zayn al-Abidin means “adornment of the worshippers.” He was also known as Imam al-Sajjad, the prostrating Imam. He was called such because of his intense devotion to prayer.
The Imam was born in 658 A.D and his real name was Ali ibn al-Husayn. He had wanted to take part in the Battle of Karbala, but having been afflicted with a severe sickness, he could not participate. In this way Allah save his life and kept a living Imam for the Muslim community.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) lived mostly a quiet life, knowing that involvement in politics would kill him and jeopardize Imamah on earth. Instead, Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) spent his time teaching Muslims the true nature of Islam and making sure that it took hold on the grass roots level.
The Imam could not do this too outwardly, so he taught much through Du’as or supplications instead, where all of the major teachings of Islam about God or the religion in general could be found. The most famous compilation of this Du’as is called al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) died in 713.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as)
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) was the son of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) and was the fifth Imam. He was born in the year 676 A.D. Al-Baqir is a title given to him meaning the “one who opens knowledge.”
Like his father, Imam al-Baqir (as) had taken a step back from involvement in politics. He knew that at this point it was futile and his arrest or assassination would be a disaster for Islam. The Imam took the necessary approach of staying quiet and teaching Islam to the masses.
What was unique about what he started was that he began training people to become scholars of Islam so that they could carry on spreading the authentic version of its message to the Muslim community.
As Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) taught much about correct worship and relations with Allah, Imam al-Baqir (as) focused a lot on the law, making sure that people understood Islamic law well in a world where so many distortions of the Shariah had taken place.
As such, Imam al-Baqir (as) is credited for laying the foundations of a self-contained school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that was to preserve and teach Islam in all its fullness. For this reason, when one of the companions of the Prophet (s), Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari (ra), asked about the names of the Imams who would succeed him, the Prophet (s) replied:
“O Jabir, you will have a long life, and although you will go blind, but you will meet the 5th in line of my descendants whose name will be my name, who will walk like me and who will be the 5th Imam of the time. When you will meet him, give my salaams to him”.
The hadith thus demonstrates the important role Imam al-Baqir (as) was to play in Islam.
In our next lesson, we will cover the 6th Imam until the 11th insha’Allah.
Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir
Imam Zayn al-Abidin