Zarara bin Ayun
He was an outstanding Moslem. He was a signpost of the religion. He was among the greatest jurists and scholars. We will take about some aspects of his excellent character:
Zara`ra was a Roman. His father, A'yun b. Sansan, was the Roman slave of a person from the Banu (sons of) Shayban. He learned the Koran. So, his master released him. He asked him to join his (master's) lineage. However, A'yun refused that. He said to his master: "Let me follow my lineage." Sansan was a monk in the country of the Romans.
As for Zara`ra, his real name is 'Abd Rabah. Zara`ra was his nick-name. He was given the kunya was Abu` al-Hasan.
His Scientific Rank
Zara`ra was the most famous of all the Moslem scholars in outstanding qualities, piety, and cleaving to the religion. The historians said that he had excellent abilities in jurisprudence. No one of the scholars of his time had such abilities. He was among the founders of the jurisprudence of the members of House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them.
The jurists rely on his narrations. They prefer them to other narrations. They resort to them when they want to conclude religious precepts. Zara`ra's narrations are not confined to a certain jurisprudential chapter. Rather, they include all the jurisprudential chapters such as worship and dealings.
His Narration from Ima`m al-Ba`qir
Zara`ra was the most prominent student of Ima`m Abu` Ja'far. He reported 1236 traditions on his authority. He also narrated 449 traditions on the authority of Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him.
Who narrated from Zara`ra?
A large group of scholars and jurists narrated on his authority. Among them was Abu` Ayyu`b, Abu` Basir, Abu` Jumayla, Abu` Zyya`d al-Hindi, Abu` al-Safa`'ij, Abu` 'Ayniya, and the like.
His Talents were praised.
Zara`ra's talents are outstanding. A large group of thinkers and scholars lauded them. The following are some of them.
A. Jamil Darra`jj
Jamil b. Darra`jj praised Zara`ra's talents and abilities. It was said to him: "Who is the best one in your presence? Who is the adornment of you assembly?" We were about Zara`ra as the young boys were around the teacher," he replied.
jamil Darra`jj was among the prominent scholars. He was among the numbered jurists. He admitted that he was nothing before Zara`ra. Rather, he was the same as the young boy before his teacher.
Al-Naja`shi said: "Zara`ra bin A'yun b. Sansan was the retainer of the Banu (sons of) 'Abd Allah. He was the shaykh of our companions at his time. He was the foremost of them. He was a reciter of the Koran. He was a jurist, a theologian, and a poet. The excellent religious qualities gathered in him. He was truthful in what he said.
C. Al-Kashi said:
The Shi'ites agreed on the truthfulness of the early companions of Abu` Ja'far and of Abu` 'Abd Allah, peace be on them. They relied on them in jurisprudence. They (the Shi'ites) said: 'The most knowledgeable of the early people in jurisprudence are six persons. They are Zara`ra, Ma'ruf b. Kharbudh, Barid, Abu` Basir al-Asadi, al-Fudayl b. Yasa`r, and Mohammed b. Moslem al-Taa`ifi.' They (the Shi'ites) said: 'The most knowledgeable of the six persons in jurisprudence is Zara`ra.
D. Ibn al-Nadim
Ibn al-Nadim said: "Zara`ra is the greatest Shi'ite in jurisprudence, traditions, theology, and Shiism.
These words show that Zara`ra had outstanding scientific abilities. These abilities made him occupy the first position in knowledge.
Ima`m al-Sa`diq and Zara`ra
Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him, respected and admired Zara`ra. For Zara`ra was among the main scholars and jurists who studied under his (al-Sa`diq's) father and preserved his cultural scientific wealth. Many traditions reported on the authority of Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him. In the traditions, the Ima`m praised and lauded Zara`ra. The following is some of the traditions:
A. Al-Fadl b. 'Abd al-Ma`lik reported. He said: [I heard Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, say:] "The most lovable people, dead or living, with me are four (persons). They are Barid b. Mu'a`wiya al-'Ajali, Zara`ra, Mohammed b. Moslem, and al-Ahwal.
This narration shows the sincere love of the Ima`m, peace be on them, for these four persons. For they raised the banner of Islam and enlightened the life of Moslems through their sciences and morals.
B. Jamil b. Darra`jj reported. He said: [I heard Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, say:] "Give good news to the humble about the garden. They are Barid b. Mu'a`wiya al-'Ajali, Abu` Basir (layth b. al-Bakhtari al-Mura`di), Mohammed b. Moslem, and Zara`ra. They are highborn persons. They are the trustees of Allah over His lawful and unlawful. Were it not for them, the traditions of the Prophet would be obliterated.
These Mujahideen rendered excellent services to Islam and Moslems. For they preserved the traditions of the Ima`ms of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. Such traditions represent the guidance and essence of Islam.
C. Da`wu`d b. Sarha`n reported on the authority of Ima`m Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, who said: "My father's companions were ornaments before and after their death. I mean Zara`ra, Mohammed b. Moslem, Layth al-Mura`di, and Barid al-'Ajali. It is they who are just and truthful.
These chosen persons were ornaments for the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. For they had good behavior and high moral standards. They were a good example for those who wanted to follow them. After their death, they are also ornaments for the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on him. For they have left behind them scientific knowledge.
D. Sulayma`n b. Kha`lid al-Aqta' reported: [I heard Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, say:] "No one has enlivened our fame and our traditions except Barid b. Mu'a`wiya al-'Ajali, Abu` Basir (layth b. al-Bakhtari al-Mura`di), Mohammed b. Moslem, and Zara`ra. Were it not for them, no one would conclude (religious precepts). They are the preservers of the religion. They are the trustees of my father over the lawful and unlawful of Allah. They are close to us in the world. They will be close to us in the next world.
These jurists were the preservers of the religion. They were sincere custodians over the lawful and the unlawful of Allah. Had it not been for them the traditions of the Prophet and of the Ima`m would have been extinguished. It was they who maintained the traditions of the Ima`ms when they recorded them. So, their services to Islam are wonderful.
E. Jamil b. Darra`jj reported. He said: [I entered the house of Abu` 'Abd Aallah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him. He asked me:] "Have you seen the person who has just left the house?" "Yes," I replied," He is among our Kufan companions." He, peace be on him, said: "May Allah not hallow his soul nor may He hallow those who are like him. He mentioned persons whom my father appointed as trustees over the lawful and the unlawful of Allah. He said that they were the container of my father's knowledge, and that they were the store of my secret.
As for the real companions of my father, Allah removes evil from the people of the earth through them. They are the stars of my followers (Shi'ites), whether they are dead or living. They enliven my father's reputation. Through them, Allah discloses all heresies. They purify this religion from the claims of the liars and the interpretation of the extremists.
Then Ima`m Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, wept. Jamil b. Darra`jj was astonished. So, he asked the Ima`m: "Who are they?
The Ima`m, peace be on him, answered: "The blessing and mercy of Allah be on them, whether they are dead or living. They are Barid al-'Ajali, Zara`ra, Abu` Basir, and Mohammed b. Moslem. Jamil, you will know the affair of this man, who disparaged Zara`ra. He belongs to the companions of Abu` al-Khattab.
This tradition show that Zara`ra and his learned companions were of great importance. For they were the store of the secret of the Ima`mate. They were the trustees of Ima`m Abu` Ja'far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him, over the lawful and the lawful of Allah. They did their best to bring the community to Allah.
F. Ima`m Abu` 'Abd Allah (al-Sa`diq), peace be on him, said: "May Allah have mercy on Zara`ra b. A'yun. Were it not for Zara`ra and his companions, my father's traditions would be extinguished.
Traditions similar to these praised Zara`ra's outstanding qualities. The showed his rank and position with the Ima`ms of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. They denoted that he was in their hearts and feelings of the Ima`ms of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, for they loved him very much.
Zara`ra is Immortal
Zara`ra faced many difficulties and misfortunes for his faith and doctrine. Yet he was loyal to the Ima`ms of guidance. He recorded their sciences and jurisprudence. He related that to the scholars and jurists. He strengthened the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. For he had outstanding merits and high moral standrads.
The historians said: "Zara`ra became ill. He suffered from great pains for several days. Then he passed away delighted. For rendered matchless services to Islam. He died in the year 150 A. H. That was a month before the death of Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him. So, the Moselms lost a signpost of knowledge and culture."
May Allah be please with him. Peace be on him on the day when he was born, on the day when he died, and on the day when he will be raised from the dead.
2. Mu'jam Rijal al-Hadith
3. Tanqih al-Maqal
4. Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist
5. Al-Tusi, Fihrist