“Woe to you, O son of Adam. You are negligent but not neglected. Your death is the hastiest to you. It is approaching you with sure steps. It is targeting you and is about to hit you and you will soon take your age in full; the angel of death seizes your soul, and you will be alone in your grave. There, your soul will be given back to you and the two angels, namely Munkar and Nakeer, will enter your grave to examine and interrogate you…”
What you heard is indeed food for thought. It reminds us of our eventual fate, even if we were to live for over a hundred years, because death is decreed for every living thing. Death, however, is not the end of existence, especially of the human soul. It the path to “Barzakh” or the intermediary period in afterlife before Resurrection of the physical body on the Day of Judgement for the final fate, and the bridge to either the eternal bliss of paradise or the eternal damnation of hell. That is the reason the two angels interrogate every person immediately after death.
Of course, there is prosperity and perfidy in “Barzakh” as well, although the All-Merciful God has made it the period of grace for mankind, where rewards could be increased, faults could be forgiven or commuted, depending on the good works a person may have left behind, or anything good done on his/her behalf by offspring and friends.
These words of certitude were spoken by a person, whose martyrdom anniversary we commemorate – according to a narration – on the 12th of Moharram. He was the Survivor of the heartrending Tragedy of Karbala, who in a matter of a few hours had seen his brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, and finally father, gloriously court death in armed combat with the forces of evil, rather than give in to the illegal demands of an illegitimate regime. The reason he did not meet death on the Day of Ashura, 61 AH, was because of the fact he was severely sick and bedridden, and thus unable to march into the battlefield for armed Jihad. Divine Providence had, however, kept him for another kind of Jihad, which he so admirably performed that to this day he is known as Zain al-Abedin or Ornament of the sincere worshippers of the One and Only God. He was taken prisoner by the Omayyad army, along with his wife, small son, sisters, young cousins, and aunts, including Hazrat Zainab (peace upon her), the indomitable granddaughter of the Prophet of Islam.
On the day following the bloodcurdling tragedy, he had a brush with death when it seemed his soul would depart from his body, as he motionlessly watched the dismembered and unburied corpse of his father, Imam Husain (PuH), but could not do anything since he was bound with chains and fetters. He lamented his helplessness to his aunt, who soothed and consoled him, for he was chosen by God for carrying the battle to the enemy camp. Thus started a novel way of Jihad for him that would soon rock the court of the tyrant Yazid in Damascus, where his sermons before audiences which included the Byzantine Christian ambassador, unnerved the self-styled caliph and made him release the Ahl al-Bayt from bondage in the Syrian capital.
For 34 years, Imam Zain al-Abedin (PuH), as the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Successor, held aloft the torch of guidance, as caliphs rose and fell in Damascus, while in Hijaz the imposter Abdullah Ibn Zubair made life torturous for the Prophet’s Household for ten long years from 63 AH to 73 AH – even once attempting to burn alive all male members of the Hashemite clan.
In 95 AH, the Survivor of the Tragedy of Karbala, was eventually martyred by poisoning. He was the victim of the wretch Waleed ibn Abdul-Malik who masqueraded as caliph in Damascus, but not before ensuring that the pure and pristine legacy of the Prophet passed to his son Imam Mohammad Baqer (PuH) and after him to his grandson Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (PuH) – who was 12-years old at the time of death of his grandfather.
Today, the Wahhabi heretics, may have desecrated and destroyed his tomb, along with that of his son, grandson, and uncle, Imam Hasan Mujtaba (PuH), but they have utterly failed in distracting people from the glorious teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, on how to live a life of faith and die with dignity for earning the bliss of the Hereafter.
No wonder, among the immortal legacies of the 4th Imam is the prayer-supplication manual titled “Sahfifat as-Sajjadiya” and the Risalat al-Hoqouq or Treatise on Rights, which is more perfect that the UN Charter of Human Rights.
Since today is Monday, we present you a few passages from the 4th Imam’s special supplication for this day:
“Praise belongs to God, Who allowed none to witness when He created the heavens and the earth, and Who took no helper when He authored the spirits!
He has no associate in Divinity and no support in Unity.
Tongues fall silent before the limit of describing Him, intellects fail before the core of knowing Him, tyrants fall low in awe of Him, faces are humbled in fear of Him, and everything mighty yields to His mightiness!
O God, make the beginning of this day of mine righteousness, its middle prosperity, and its end success! I seek refuge in You from a day whose beginning is fright, whose middle is anxiety, and whose end is pain!
O God, I pray forgiveness from You for every vow I have vowed, every promise I have promised, and every pledge I have pledged and then failed to keep for Thee.
O God, give me on every Monday two favours from You: the felicity to obey You at its beginning and the favour of Your forgiveness at its end!
O He who is God and none other than whom grants forgiveness for sins!”