Imam Ali ibn e Hussain(a.s.),generally known as Imam Sajjad(a.s.),was the eldest son of Imam Hussain ibn e Ali(a.s.).He was about 22 or 23 years old when the tragedy of Karbala occured.Since Allah mentions in his Holy Book that this world can not survive for a moment if there is no ”Imam” present at all times,therefore Allah arranged it such that Imam Sajjad(a.s.) became severely ill during the battle of Karbala and could not participate as a warrior.He asked the permission to fight in the battle but Imam Hussain(a.s.) told him that he had been assigned a different type of “Jihad” that was to start after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain(a.s.)-namely leading the women and children of the household of Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) in to the bazaars and courts of Kufa and Damascus.Imam Sajjad(a.s.) was made a prisoner of war together with the whole family of the Prophet(PBUH).
It was at this time that he was given the responsibility of Imamate and his was one of the most difficult times when any Imam was given that responsibility.It would have been very easy for him to die on the battle field as a martyr than to be taken as prisoner of war and witness all the insult and humiliations thrown on him and on the womenfolks of the house of the Prophet.However,he did what Allah wished him to do.After the martyrdom of Imam Hussain(a.s.),the survival of Islam depended on Imam Ali ibn Hussain(a.s.) and that also at a tender age of 22.He had to keep the message of Islam alive and save it from being confused by the evil Bani Umayyah.
The army of Yazid treated him mercilessly by putting him in heavy chains.As a prisoner,he was made to travel on the open back of camel in burning sun from Karbala to Kufa and then from Kufa to Damascus-a distance of about 750 kilometres.Sometimes,he would be made to walk on the burning sands of the desert.That was not all,women and children of the family of the Prophet Mohammad(PBUH),too,were hand-cuffed and treated as slaves.The daighters of Imam Ali(a.s.) and Bibi Fatima(s.a.) were treated worse than criminals,their hijab were taken away from them.They were then presented as prisoners,first to Ibn e Ziyad in Kufa and then to Yazid in Damascus.
In the courts of Ibn-e-Ziyad and Yazid,Imam Ali ibn-e-Hussain(a.s.) gave lion-hearted lectures and presented the true picture of Islam to the listeners.His lectures had such an impact on the listeners that despite several attempts to kill him inside the court of both Yazid and Ibn-e-Ziyad could not materialize.Bibi Zainab(s.a.) and other women became the front line protectors and were backed by the people in the court of Yazid who were still left with shame.
On the pulpit,Imam Ali ibn-e-Hussain(a.s.) first praised Allah and His Messenger(PBUH).After that the Imam gave along a very powerful speech letting the Syrians know the great position of Imam Hussain(a.s.),and how evil Yazid and his family were.Part of the speech is summarized below:
“O listeners,Allah has given us(Ahl-e-Bayt) six things which no one else has.He has given us special wisdom,patience,dignity,power of speech,courage and respect.He gave us special benefit of belonging to the family of his Prophet.To us belong Hamza and Jaffer.To us belong Asadullah-The Lion of Allah-Imam Ali(a.s.).To us belong the leaders of the youth of paradise-Imam Hassan(a.s.) and Imam Hussain(a.s.).
“Those who know me,know me.Those who do not,then know me that I am the son of Mecca and Mina.I am the son of Zamzam and Safa.I am the son of he who gave Zakat to the poor.I am the son of the best of those who have ever put on Ihraam and performed ceremonies of Hajj.I am the son of he who was taken on the night journey from house of Allah to the Mosque if Aqsa,and then to Mairaaj.I am the son of he who was taken around by Gibrael to the Lote-tree of the boundary(Sidratul Muntaha).
“I am the son of Mohammad Mustafa(PBUH).I am the son of Ali Al-Murtaza(a.s.) who fought the polytheists in the battle till they submitted to Islam and fought in the presence of the Prophet until his sword was broken and to whom Zulfiqar was given.I am the son of he who had the honour to migrate twice in Islam.I am the son of Fatima,the best woman of the world.” The effect of the speech was so powerful that everybody in the court began to weep and blame Yazid. Yazid was afraid that the Imam continued his speech,there would be a revolution and revolt.At the same time,Yazid could not stop Imam and get him down from the pulpit.He,therefore,ordered a caller of prayer to give Azaan,knowing that this would automatically cut the Imam’s speech.When the Muazzin said “Allahu Akbar”,the Imam testified Allah’s greatness.When the Muazzin said,”Ash hadu anna Mohammadan Rasoolullah”,the Imam stopped the muazzin from going any further.He then turned to Yazid and asked him,”Tell me O Yazid,was Mohammad(pbuh) your grandfather or mine?If you say he was your grandfather,it would be an open lie,and if you say he was my grandfather then why have you killed his son and imprisoned his family?Why have you killed my father and brought his family to this city as prisoners?”
Yazid had no reply to give.The effect of this sermon was to turn Syrians against Yazid.Everyone of them then found out about Yazid’s crimes that he had committed against the Prophet(pbuh) and his family.They started blaming him and asked for the release of Imam Ali ibn-e-Hussain(a.s.) and the womenfolks of his family.Yazid was then afraid that if he did not act fast his rule would be lost.He,therefore,freed Imam Ali ibn-e-Hussain(a.s.) and let him return to Medina with full honor and respect.