The month of Safar includes many sad occasions recalling the calamities that befallen on Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), as On the second of Safar 121 AH was the martyrdom of the killed and crucified Abu Al-Hussayn Zayd Ash-Shaheed [The martyr] son of Imam Ali As-Sajjad son of Imam Aba Abdillah Al-Hussayn son of the Commander of the Faithful Ali son of Abi Taleb (Allah's prayers be upon them all).
His birth: He (peace be upon him) was born in the year 57 AH, and grew up in the House of prophecy in the lap of his father Imam Zayn Al-'Abideen (peace be upon him) learning from him, and some narrations stated that his name was given by the Messenger of Allah (Allah's prayers be upon him and his holy Household). He was given the title of "Haleef Al-Quran" [the ally of the Quran]. One of the narrators Abu al-Jarood stated: I came to Madinah, and whenever I asked about Zayd, I was told: There is the ally of the Quran in the Masjid, as he was permanently reciting Quran and reading his prayers in the Masjid.
His knowledge: He reached a supreme level of knowledge and he (peace be upon him) was one of the scholars of his time, as he learned from his father Imam Zayn al-'Abideen (peace be upon him), and from Imam al-Baqer and Imam as-Sadeq (peace be upon both of them), from whom he learned the secrets of the finest knowledge, and Imam as-Sadeq (peace be upon him) said: "Zayd was a scholar and was the most honest." He was pious, worshipper, eloquent, generous and courageous, raising his sword to enjoin what is good and forbade evil, and to avenge the martyrdom of his grandfather al-Hussayn (peace be upon him). And his eloquence in speeches sounded like the eloquence of his grandfather Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (peace be upon both of them).
His revolution and martyrdom: Historians recorded that when Hisham ibn Abdu'l-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 Zayd 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 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 at the age of forty-two by Yusuf ibn 'Amr al-Thaqafi (the Umayyad governor), he fell in battle to an arrow that pierced his forehead. The arrow's removal led to his death.
His son, Yahya, took his body from the field and buried him in secret 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 Abdu'l-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.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq's love for his uncle Zayd ibn Ali (peace be upon both of them) 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 (Allah's prayers be upon him and upon his holy Household), Ali, Al-Hassan and Al-Hussayn (peace be upon them all).