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Kaum Pasukuan "Bujang Sambilan" dari Muaro Paneh Kubuang XIII di Bayang Nan VII – Pessel

Zaid bin Ali (Imam Syiah Zaidiyah terakhir)

Zayd ibn ‘Alī (Arabic: زيد بن علي‎, also spelled Zaid; 695-740) was the grandson of Husayn ibn Alī, the grandson of Muhammad. Zayd was born in Medina in 695. His father was the Shī‘ah Imam ‘Alī ibn Husayn “Zayn al-Abidīn”. Zayd’s mother of Sindhi origin named Jaydā, who is said to have been presented to his father by the Shī’ī rebel leader al-Mukhtār.[1]

Hadith Prophesising his Birth

The prophet once looked at Zayd ibn Harithah, cried, and said “The martyr in the sake of Allah, The crucified of my people, The oppressed from my progeny, his name is thus.” Then the prophet pointed at Zayd ibn Harithah and said “Come closer to me, your name became more dear to me because it is the same as my dear child (Zaid.)”[2]

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir narrated: “The Holy Prophet put his sacred hand on Husayn bin Ali’s back and said: ‘O Husayn, it will not be long until a man will be born among your descendants. He will be called Zaid; he will be killed as a martyr. On the day of resurrection, he and his companions will enter heaven, setting their feet on the necks of the people.'”[2]

His Imamate

The Zaidis claim that Zaid was the rightful successor to his father, rather than his half-brother Muhammad al-Baqir.

The death of Imam Ali Zayn ul Abidin triggered the struggle for leadership between his two sons, Muhammad al Baqir and Zayd…Zayd rejected the principle of hereditary succession to the imamat, and asserted his own right to it on the ground that he was better qualified for it, because he fulfilled all the necessary conditions for this purpose including the one that the Imam must rise in revolt against the unjust, oppressive rulers.
—Abdul Ali in Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times[3]

Zayd rebelled against the Umayyad Caliph he felt was unjust. It is here where many parallels with the life of his more famous grandfather, Husayn, begin. Imam Zayd, following the foot steps of his grandfather Husayn, thought that an Imam should fight oppression. Instead of watching the Muslims stay under a ruler he considered oppressive and ignorant (Hisham), he called for many people to follow him and fight.He ,however ,accepted the Imamate of Imam Baqar,his brother and all the Imams have praised him.He rose in the time of his Nephew Imam Jaffar al Sadiq who had informed him of his fate,

Zaidi Revolt

Rafidha desertion of Imam Zaid

Zaidis accounts state the term Rafida was a term used by Zayd ibn Ali on those who rejected him in his last hours for his refusal to condemn the first two Caliphs of the Muslim world, Abu Bakr and Umar.[4] Zayd bitterly scolds the “rejectors” (Rafidha) who deserted him, an appellation used by Sunnis and Zaydis to refer to Twelver Shi’ites to this day.[5]

A group of their leaders assembled in his (Zayd’s presence) and said: “May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar?” Zayd said, “I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing them both nor saying anything but good about them…when they were entrusted with government they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah”[6]

Contemporaries opinions of Zayd ibn Ali

Zayd was a revered and respected member of the Ahl ul Bayt, the family bloodline of the prophet Muhammad. Scholars, Saints, Sufis and Imams alike, all spoke of him in respectable terms.

Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid the writer of the famous Shi’ah book Kitab al Irshad described him as, “…a devout worshipper, pious, a jurist, God-fearing and brave.” [7]

When describing Zayd, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq said: “Among us he was the best read in the Holy Qur’an, and the most knowledgeable about religion, and the most caring towards family and relatives.”[8] Hence his title “Ally of the Quran” (Halef Al-Quran)

Zayd’s brother Imam Muhammad al-Baqir spoke of him reverentially, “No one of us was born to resemble ‘Ali ibn Abi Taleb more than he did”[9]

Imam Ali ar-Ridha spoke of him respectfully:

..he (Zayd bin Ali) was one of the scholars from the Household of Muhammad and got angry for the sake of the Honorable the Exalted God. He fought with the enemies of God until he got killed in His path. My father Musa ibn Ja’far narrated that he had heard his father Ja’far ibn Muhammad say, “May God bless my uncle Zayd…He consulted with me about his uprising and I told him, “O my uncle! Do this if you are pleased with being killed and your corpse being hung up from the gallows in the al-Konasa neighborhood.” After Zayd left, As-Sadiq said, “Woe be to those who hear his call but do not help him!”.
—Imam Ali ar-Ridha[10]

Imam Jafar Sadiq’s love for his uncle Zayd ibn Ali was immense. Upon receiving and reading the letter of Zayd ibn Ali’s death he broke down and cried uncontrollably, and proclaimed aloud:

From God we are and to Him is our return. I ask God for my reward in this calamity. He was a really good uncle. My uncle was a man for our world and for our Hereafter. I swear by God that my uncle is a martyr just like the martyrs who fought along with God’s Prophet (s) or Ali (s) or Al-Hassan (s) or Al-Hussein(s)
Uyun Akhbar al-Reza- The Source of Traditions on Imam Ali ar-Ridha [11]

Abu Hanifah once said about Imam Zayd, “I met with Zayd and I never saw in his generation a person more knowledgeable, as quick a thinker, or more eloquent than he was.”[12]

The Sufi scholar, Mujtahid and mystic, Sufyan al-Thawri respected Imam Zayd’s knowledge and character, saying “Zayd took the place of Imam Al-HUssain. He was the most versed human concerning Allah’s holy book. I affirm: women have not given birth to the likes of Zayd…”[13]

The famous ascetic Caliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was the then Governor of Madinah during the reign of al-Walid and Suleiman and was also an associate of Zayd ibn Ali. Zayd continued to correspond and advise him when he became khalifah.[14]

It is worth mentioning that he is also the first narrator of the famous as-Sahifah as-Sajjãdiyya of Imam Zainul ‘Abidin.

Several works of hadith, theology, and Qur’anic exegesis are attributed to him. The Mu‘tazilite school of theology is believed to have adopted many of Zayd’s teachings, and therefore followers of the Zaidiyyah sect were initially close to Mu’tazilite school of theology because of their founder Wasil ibn Ata being the student of Zayd, but they later progressed into two very distinct schools of thought.

He was an excellent orator and spent much of his life learning and educating others. It is said of his brother Imam Muhammad al-Baqir wanted to test his brother on the Quranic knowledge, asking him various questions for which he received answers beyond his expectation, causing to him to remark, “For our father and mother’s life! You are one of a kind. God grace your mother who gave you birth, she gave birth to a replica of your forefathers!”[15]

Hadith Prophesising his Death

The prophet Muhammad prophesied his death, as narrated by Imam Husayn:

“The Holy Prophet put his sacred hand on my back and said: ‘O Husayn, it will not be long until a man will be born among your descendants. He will be called Zaid; he will be killed as a martyr. On the day of resurrection, he and his companions will enter heaven, setting their feet on the necks of the people.'”
—Syed Imam al Husayn[16]

His Death

Historians of both Shi’is and Sunnis recorded that when Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik became the caliph, he committed many atrocities. With regard to the Bani Hashim, he was particularly cruel. At last, Zayd ibn ‘Ali, well known as a great scholar and a pious theologian, went to see the caliph to seek redress for the grievances of the Bani Hashim. As soon as Zaid arrived, the caliph, instead of greeting him as a direct descendant of the prophet, abused him with such abominable language that it can not be repeated. Because of this disgraceful treatment, Zayd left Syria for Kufa, where he raised an army against the Bani Umayyad. The governor of Kufa, Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Thaqafi came out with a huge army to face him. Zayd recited the following war poem: “Disgraceful life and honourable death: both are bitter morsels, but if one of them must be chosen, my choice is honourable death.”

Although he fought bravely, Zayd was killed in battle on the 2nd of Safar in 120 or 122 A.H. (740 A.D.) at the age of forty-two by Yusuf ibn ‘Amr ath-Thaqafi (the Umayyad governor). His son, Yahya, took his body from the field and buried him away from the city near the river bank, causing the water to flow over it. However, the grave was discovered and, under Yusuf’s orders, the body was exhumed, Zayd’s head was cut off and sent to Hisham in Syria. In the month of Safar, 121 A.H., Hisham had the sacred body of this descendant of the Prophet placed on the gallows entirely naked. For four years the sacred body remained on the gallows. Thereafter, when Walid Ibn Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan became caliph in 126 A.H., he ordered that the skeleton be taken down from the gallows, burnt, and the ashes scattered to the wind.

The same man committed a similar atrocity to the body of Yahya ibn Zayd of Gurgan (or Jowzjan[17]), who was martyred in Juzjan and buried in Gurgan.[18] This noble man also opposed the oppression of the Bani Umayyad. He too was martyred on the battlefield. His head was sent to Syria and, as in the case of his revered father, his body was hung on the gallows – for six years. Friend and foe alike wept at the sight. Wali al-din Abu Muslim al-Khurasani, who had risen against the Bani Umayyad on behalf of Bani ‘Abbas, took his body down and buried it in Gurgan (or Jowzjan[17]). In Sarakhs however, there is a site of pilgrimage at Miyami.[19]

When a survivor of the initial battle of Zayn bin Ali came to Medina to report the death to his nephew, the Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq he reported the devastation of the Imam upon hearing the news:

I went to see Imam As-Sadiq there. I thought I should not tell him about Zayd getting killed since the Imam might get upset. When I saw the Imam, he said, “What did my uncle Zayd do?” I got so upset I could hardly talk. I said, “They killed him.” He said, “Did they kill him?”I said, “Yes. By God, they killed him.” He (s) asked, “Did they hang his corpse on the gallows?” I said, “Yes. By God, they hung his corpse on the gallows.”The Imam started to cry and his tears were flowing down his face like pearls. Then the Imam said, “O Fudhayl! Were you present there in the battle with the people of Syria along with my uncle?” I said, “Yes.” The Imam asked, “How many people did you kill?” I said, “Six of them.” The Imam said, “Did you have any doubts about shedding their blood?” I said, “No, I would not have killed them if I had had any doubts.” Then I heard the Imam say, “O God! Please give me a share of the reward for this battle! I swear by God that my uncle and his companions were martyrs just like Ali ibn Abi Talib and his companions!”
Uyun Akhbar al-Reza- The Source of Traditions on Imam Ali ar-Ridha [20]


There are two shrines for Zayd, One is in Kufa, Iraq, the other is in Karak, Jordan. The shrine in Jordan is believed to be the final resting place of the head of Zayd ibn ‘Ali ibn Al-Husayn.[21]

Inspiration for Ahlul bayt

All schools of Islam Sunnis and Shias, regard Zayd Ibn Ali as a righteous martyr (Shaheed) against what was regarded as the corrupt leadership of an unjust Caliph. It is even reported that Mujtahid Imam Abu Hanifa, founder of the largest school of Sunni jurisprudence, gave financial support to Zayd’s revolt and called on others to join Zayd’s rebellion.

Zayd’s sect, the Zaydiyya were separated from the Kufan influence of the Imamiyah and flourished in North Africa and Yemen as a prominent Shi’ah sect.

Of all the Shia sects the Zaydis are the most moderate and tolerant as well as the nearest to Sunni Islam. They differ fundamentally from other Shia sects, especially the twelvers and the seveners, on the issue of Imamat.
—Abdul Ali in Islamic dynasties of the Arab East: state and civilization during the later medieval times[22]

Imam Zayd ibn Ali’s rebellion became the inspiration for the Zaidiyyah sect. The Zaidiyya school of Shia Islam holds that any learned descendant of Imam’s Hasan or Hussain can become an Imam by asserting and fighting for his claim as Zayd Ibn Ali did. They thoroughly reject the notional belief of infallibility of the Imam as well as the belief in divine appointment.[23] By contrast the more later founded Ismaili and Ithna Ashariya Shi’as claimed that the Imam must be divinely appointed, something Zaidis absolutely reject. In fact Zayd himself criticised the validity of the notion of divine appointment, rejecting it completely.[24]
Zayd’s rebellion inspired other revolts by members of his clan, especially in the Hejaz, the most famous among these being the revolt of Imam Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya al-Mahdi against the Abbasids in 762.


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