2020 - Reflections on Imam Sajjad (as)
by Sayyid Mohsen Rizvi
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُ وَأَوْرَثَنَا الْأَرْضَ نَتَبَوَّأُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ نَشَاءُ ۖ فَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ
When the name Ali Ibn Al-Husain (as) is uttered before us, our eyes overflow with tears, our heart sinks in grief, we cannot help but envision the culmination of tragedies in a single divine being where our observation, reason, imagination or assumption cannot scratch the surface of the fortitude of Imam Sajjad (as). However, there is another facet to the life of Imam Sajjad (as) that demands our attention. The facet of his merits that manifests the absolute divine authority of Imam Sajjad (as) over the creation of Allah (swt). In this brief writeup I would like to share one merit of Imam Sajjad (as) that manifests his authority on the heavens and the earth.
Allah (swt) talks about His servants at several places in Quran, referring to Dawood as my servant at on place, or ordaining the believer to remember Ayub as His servant, and then mention about Is’haaq, Yaqub Lut and Ibrahim as His servants, and so on. Then Allah (swt) mentions those who are at noble ranks of divine leadership -
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ
And We made them Imams who guided (people) by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of the alms, and Us (alone) did they serve;
So, there is a stage of servanthood (Abdiyyat) with various ranks and stations, viz. Prophethood (Nabuwat) and Divine leadership (Imamat). Among all the representatives of Allah (swt) from Adam (as) to Imam Mehdi (ajtfs), the only one who is given the title of Zain ul Abideen is held in reserve for only Ali Ibn al-Husain (as), the meaning of this title is, the one who is the crown of all the worshippers. There are personalities like Prophet Mohammed (saw), who identified himself as the servant (Abd) of Allah (swt). There is Ameer Ul Momineen (as) who said –
أنا عبد من عبيد محمد
I am a servant from many servants of Mohammed (saw)
Among all the titles of the infallibles (as), the one that shines like a diamond in a crown is the title Zain al-Abideen, and this title is exclusive for Imam Sajjad (as). We have heard this title many times but today we want to share some additional nobility and merits of the position of Imam Sajjad (as). One of the best tributes written for Imam Sajjad (as) was by a scholar by the name Sheikh Abul Hasan al-Mirandi, who said:
الصلوات الزاكيات على كعبة الاماني
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who is the axis (Kabaa) of aspirations & hopes.
وعلي الثاني الذي ليس له ثانٍ
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who is the like of Ali ibn Abu Talib, whose like doesn’t exist.
All the hopes of saving the religion of Islam rested on the shoulders of Ali Ibn Abu Talib (as) after the migration to the city of Madina. Similarly, all the hope of saving the religion of Islam rested on the shoulder of Ali Ibn Al-Husain (as) after the tragedy of Karbala. Hence all the hopes and aspiration circumambulate around the grandfather and grandson.
The introduction of Imam Sajjad (as) as the Imam of the time began when the head of Imam Husain (as) was raised on the lance, and the head of Imam Sajjad (as) fell on the ground in prostration. It was a time when the eyes have witnessed a feeble, sick, desolated man who is unable to even bury his father or protect his four-years old sister from constant beatings, until she died. But know, that no intellect can comprehend the position of Imam Sajjad (as), and no assumption or image painted by the ever-doubting intellect can grasp the reality. The eyes see a helpless man, but the heart sees a man on the highest stage of servitude and sublime patience. The stage of sublimity in patience is achieved when absolute authority is on the tip of one’s fingers but he has restrained himself in exercising that authority for the sake of seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt), even it means to witness the trampled body of his father. So, what is that authority of Imam Sajjad? Sheikh Abul Hasan al-Mirandi continues -
ومن هو للعليين بانٍ
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who established the ‘illiyin.
Quran talk about the stage of ‘illiyun, the loftiest stage as follows –
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ
And what will make you know what the highest Iliyin is?
Qur’an says it is the rank that only the most righteous of Allah’s servants can achieve. The scholar says that Imam Sajjad is the founder of ‘iliyeen. You might think that these are just words of devotion that was spoken out of passion. Absolutely not! These are words based on a very strange incident that took place in Medina once. It is mentioned in the book “Madinah Mu`ajiz” by Sayyid Hashim Bahrani that -
العاشر ارتفاعه- عليه السلام- إلى علّيين
جمهور بن حكيم، قال: رأيت عليّ بن الحسين- عليهما السلام- و قد نبت له أجنحة و ريش، فطار، ثمّ قال: رأيت الساعة، جعفر بن أبي طالب- عليه السلام- في أعلى علّيين، فقلت: و هل تستطيع أن تصعد.
فقال: نحن صنعناها و كيف لا نقدر أن نصعد إلى ما صنعنا
Jamhoor ibn Hakeem said that once I witnessed Ali Ibn Al-Husain (as) abruptly ascending to the heavens with wings and feathers, I asked the Imam: how can you ascend to (illiyin)? The Imam said: we are the makers of iliyyin and how can we ascend without authority on it, except that we created it?
This miraculous incident forced the witness to question, and the Imam (as) answered his question by manifesting his authority over the heavens and the earth, and to tell the world that ‘don’t take my forbearance as my helplessness, I am the divine grace of Allah (swt) by which everything exists’. Sheikh al-Mirandi continues in praise of Imam Sajjad (as) –
مُقَيَّد الأعداء و مُقَيِّد امر القدر و القضاء
The word Muqaiyad means one who is apprehended or constrained, and the meaning of Muqaiyid means the one who apprehend or constraint someone. The scholar says –
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who is apprehended by his enemies when he can apprehend the Al-Qadr (divine plan) and Al-Qada (divine judgment) in his hands.
In one of the relatively simple explanation of the terms Al-Kursi and Al-Arsh, Allamah Tabatabai writes (not verbatim): When the creation of the immaterial world are known by unlimited knowledge, that is, when they exist without any limitation attached to them, that knowledge is called al-Arsh; and when the creation exist in the world of limitations and known with those limitations, that knowledge is called al-Kursi.” In other words, al-Kursi refers to knowledge and decree of the existents of the universe, while Al-Arsh refers to knowledge and decree of the existents of the transcendent world”. Imam Sajjad (as) says that we are the bearers of Al-Arsh and al-Kursi,
نحن حملة العرش و الكرسيّ ثم أعطاني طلعا في غير أوان
It means that the Imam of the time is the executioner of the will of Allah (swt) and responsible to issue the decree over all the creations from the eternal past to the eternal future. The world is still debating if Imam Ali (as) have prayed behind other people, or not? The one who administer the system of creation in the heavens and the earth has become a subject of debate by the rotten intellect. When the world witnessed Imam Sajjad (as) on a praying mat crying in prostrating, they assumed it as a helpless man pleading to Allah (swt) for salvation. The scholar culminated his praise by saying -
الساجد الداعي على المصلى
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who is prostrates in supplications on the praying mat.
الآمر الناهي على العرش المعلى
The best and the purest of salutations be upon the one who decrees at the extreme of al-Arsh al-Mu’alla
The truth of the matter is, that our intellect, our knowledge, our words and our expression is helpless and can never carry the weight of one speck of the merit of Imam Sajjad (as).
Our lives be ransom on Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (as), who is the owner of such authority and divine proximity that every creation shall crave for on the day of judgment. The verse that I have chosen for this article is the verse which Imam Sajjad (as) have recited on that day Imam (as) has left the mortal world. The verse says -
And they shall say: (All) praise is due to Allah, Who has made good to us His promise, and He has made us inherit the land; we may abide in the garden where we please; so goodly is the reward of the workers.
Imam Sajjad (as), who lived through the most difficult times of the history of Ahlul Bayt (as) has given a new life to the religion of Islam after the tragedy of Karbala, carried innumerable scars, the scars of the physical and the emotional trauma, the scars to the honor of his family, the scars on the esteem of his self. But at the time of death Imam Sajjad (as) is declaring that I am the inheritor of the earth and the heavens, possess such authority over creation that the expanse of imagination cannot encompass it.
مجمع النورين - الشيخ أبو الحسن المرندي (Majmu’a al-Noorayn by Al-Sheikh Abu Al-Hasan Al-Mirandi)