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Life of Imam Sajjad (A.S)

The Imam with his father at the massacre in Karbala
Imam Sajjad (A.S) was present in Karbala and endured the psychologically scarring event of watching his father, brothers, uncles and near relatives massacred by Yazid’s army. The Imam therefore serves as a pivotal eye-witness to the events at Karbala.
Although being the successor to Imam Hussein (A.S), Imam Sajjad (A.S) still wished to defend his father. Despite being overcome and afflicted by a very severe fever, he was still prepared to leave the camp and defend his father. However, Imam Hussein (A.S) did not give his son permission to leave, knowing that he needed to protect the future Imam from harm.

The Imam’s scholarly activities
One of the qualities that the Imam possessed, which can be observed through the surviving writings from the Imam’s letters and sayings, is his courage in advising other scholars to carry on the Islamic duty of calling to good and forbidding evil.
In a letter which survives as an example of the Imam’s advice to the scholars, the Imam harshly rebukes one of the scholars of the Muslims known as “Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri”. The Imam condemns him for having offered his position as a scholar to be used knowingly by corrupt authorities.
“You have been the propagandist of their temptation when you took their courses. They have employed you as the means through which they aroused doubts against the scholars and dragged the hearts of the ignorant to them. The best one in their government and the most powerful of them could not achieve success like that which you have attained through showing their corrupt affairs as honest and attracting the attentions of the celebrities as well as the ordinary people to you.”
The Imam was particularly critical of scholars who openly supported the government as they were in a position to be able to speak out against the regime. He also condemned common Muslim scholars whose silence tended to lend the government legitimacy.
The Imam’s greatest scholarly contribution, however, is a very unique work which comparably has no equal in classic Islamic texts - a unique genre, called the “Treatise of Rights” (Risalat al-Huquq).
The Treatise of Rights is a document which highlights the uniqueness of the intellect of the Imams. It builds upon the general rights prescribed in the Qur’an and offers unique guidance for believers as to the rights of God, the rights of slaves, parents, rulers and those ruled over. As a document it highlights just how visionary the thoughts of the Imam were given the era that his Imamate took place.
The document remains very unique, even by the standards of modern day charters of rights in that the document highlights numerous objects which have rights, for example, the rights of the ear, the rights of the eye etc.

Death of the Imam (A.S)
In the year 95 A.H, Imam Sajjad (A.S) was poisoned under the instructions of the Caliph Walid b. Marwan. The Imam left behind a vast collection of devotional supplications and written documents and as such his legacy was enshrined in the corpus of Shi’a devotional literature.

Taken from: Center for Islamic Shia studies

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