A Glance at the Biography of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s)
The sixth Imam, Abu 'Abd Allah Ja'far, the eldest son of Muhammad al-Baqir, was born in Medina either in 80/690 700 or 83/703-704. On his father's side Ja'far was of course a Husaynid descendant of the Prophet, and like his father he had a doubly strong relationship to 'Ali, since Muhammad al-Baqir was an 'Alid on both his father's and his mother's sides.
On his mother's side Ja'far was the great-great-grandson of Abu Bakr, and thus he was the first among the Ahl al-Bayt who combined in his person descent from Abu Bakr as well as from 'Ali. His mother Umm Farwa was the daughter of Al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr. Qasim married the daughter of his uncle 'Abd ar-Rahman b. Abi Bakr, and thus Umm Farwa was the great-granddaughter of Abu Bakr on both the father's and the mother's sides.
For the first fourteen years of his life Ja'far was brought up under the guardianship of his grandfather Zayn al-'Abidin. He observed the latter's acts of charity, his love for long series of prostrations and prayers, and his withdrawal from politics. At the same time, Ja'far noticed his grandfather's claims to the Imamate and his efforts, though meagre and limited, to collect around himself some devoted followers who resisted the popular appeal of the Imamate of Muhammad b. al- Hanafiya and then the latter's son, Abu Hashim.
Ja'far also saw the respect with which Zayn al-'Abidin was held by the famous lawyers and scholars of Medina and elsewhere. In his mother's house young Ja'far saw his maternal grandfather, Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, considered by the people of Medina as one of the most erudite and esteemed traditionists of his time.
Outside the family the childhood of Ja'far coincided with a rapidly growing interest in Medina in the acquiring of knowledge of Prophetic traditions and of seeking explanations of the Qur'anic verses. His boyhood also witnessed the culmination of Umayyad power, the final establishment of their administrative imperium, a period of peace and plenty, but hardly of religious fervour, as will be elaborated below. It seems probable that an environmental background of this kind in the life of a boy of fourteen may have influenced his thinking and personality, giving his future work a certain direction.
With the death of Zayn al-'Abidin, Ja'far entered his early manhood and spent about twenty-three years under his father Muhammad al-Baqir. In all these years not only did Ja'far see his father's efforts to establish himself as the Imam of the House of the Prophet, but as the eldest son he participated in these activities. When Al-Baqir died, Ja'far was thirty-seven or thirty-four years old and was destined to live for a period of at least twenty-eight years as the head of the Shi'a following the elder line of the Husaynid Imams-a period longer than any other Imam of the House attained.
CHARACTER AND VIRTUES
Imam Ja'far as Sadiq (A. S.) was one of those Infallible souls who were created by the Almighty to be models of moral excellence. But the particular virtues of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (A.S.) which were recorded by the historians included hospitality, charity, the helping of the needy in secrecy, the fair treatment of the relatives, forgiveness, patience and fortitude.
During the days of scarcity the Imam had no reason to worry since there was a large quantity of corn to sustain them over a long period of time. But he sold the corn out and directed: "Pure wheat flour shall not be used in my kitchen. Let it be mixed with an equal quantity of oat flour. We must share the misfortune with the needy as long as it takes".
He used to respect the poor more than the rich and esteem their hard work. Trade was his occupation and he liked to do manual work in his gardens too. One day while wielding the spade and sweating profusely from top to toe, someone offered to do the work for him, but the labor-loving leader said: "It is no insult to bear the heat of the summer sun for the sake of my household".
DISSEMINATING KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING
His profound knowledge of religious and other sciences was famed throughout the entire Islamic world. People came from distant regions to learn from him. The number of his students reached once four thousand. Among them were scholars of jurisprudence, Tafsir (exegesis), Hadith... etc. Even important Sunni Scholars such as Sufyan Thawri, Abu Hanifah, the founder of the Hanafi school of law, Qazi Sukuni, Qazi Abul Bakhtari and others had the honour of being his students. The numbers of traditions preserved from the fifth and sixth Imams is more than all the hadees that have been recorded from the Holy Prophet(S.A.W) and the other ten Imams combined. Heads of other religions also came there to expostulate with his students. When they went away vanquished and defeated, the Imam used to explain to his students their own weak points so that they might be careful in the future.
Sometimes he himself argued with the opponents especially the atheists. Apart from religious sciences, He used to teach some students mathematics, chemistry, medicine.. etc. Jabir ibn Hayyan of Tarus, the famous pioneer of physics, chemistry and mathematics, was his disciple who wrote about four hundred treatises based on his mentor's instruction. The jurists who learned from him and authored several volumes of books on jurisprudence can be counted by the hundreds.
"I never saw a jurist of greater understanding than Ja'far Ibn Muhammad (A.S.), said Abu Hanifah. This statement has been recorded in Manaqib of Abu Hanifah by Muwaffaq Vol. I P. 173, Jamiul Asanid of Abu Hanifah p.222. Similarly, Malik Ibn Anas in Tahzib Al-Tahzib(Vol.II, page 104) says: No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no mind has ever thought of someone exceeding Ja'far Ibn Muhammad(A.S.) in worship, piety and knowledge.
People used to be astounded seeing the glory of his worship. Thus once Abu Hanifah saw him praying and was left perplexed by it. When the Imam completed the prayers he said, “O Aba Abdillah! How torturous is your prayer!” Imam (a.s) replied, “Don't you know that among all the worship acts, prayer is the greatest cause of divine proximity?”
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) used to prolong the recitations of his bowing (ruku) and prostration (Sajdah) so much that sometimes he recited them more than sixty times. The narrator says: One day I went to Imam (as.) to inquire something from him. I found him lying in prostration in the Prophet's mosque. I sat down near him thinking that when he completes his prayer I can ask him the question. The Imam prolonged the prostration so much that I was fed up sitting there. I thought up of some idea to somehow convey to him that I was present there. I decided to also go into prostration and recite the recitation of prostration loudly so that the Imam would hear my voice and complete his prayer. Thus I began to pray and when I went into prostration I recited the recitation loudly. When I had recited it more than 360 times I realized that the Imam has concluded his prayer. I also concluded my prayer then addressed the Imam, “Master, if this is the level of your prayer, what is the worth our prayers?” He said, “More or less, both are accepted from our Shias (followers)”
One day the Imam was passing by the orchards of Kufa. After walking for sometime he sat under a date palm. There he performed the ritual ablution and began to pray. He prolonged the recitation of his prostration so much that it exceeded five hundred times.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (‘a) had a large family. Obviously, his domestic needs were also proportionately greater. He decided to invest some capital in trade, so he (‘a) called his serving man Musaddaf, and handing him 1000 dinars, told him to go to Egypt with tradable goods and sell them there. Musaddaf did as told, and joined a caravan of traders going to Egypt.
On their way they met a group coming back from Egypt. They told them that the goods they were carrying to sell were in great demand there, and would fetch them a good price.
On reaching Egypt they found the information they had received to be absolutely correct. They held a meeting and decided they would not sell their goods for less than double its price, a 100% profit. They pledged not to let each other down, and refused to supply the needs of their fellow Muslims in Egypt. They emerged successful and sold all they had with double the amount of capital they had invested in stocks.
On his return, Musaddaf triumphantly placed two pouches of dinars before the Imam (‘a). The Imam (‘a) said, ‘What is the meaning of these two?’
He replied, all smiles, ‘One contains your capital, the other your profit. Both amounts are equal.’
‘What?’ said Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (‘a).
‘Yes, I mean it. We made a 100 % profit with your money.’
‘What? You certainly need to explain.’
‘Well, we learnt that the goods we had bought to trade in Egypt were direly needed by them, so we all joined hands to sell them for double the price. All of us remained united and the people became helpless and paid the amount for what they needed badly.’
‘You mean you united together to black market your goods?’ SubhanAllah! You black market your goods and expect me to enjoy its profit. I’m afraid, I cannot accept such money.’ He (‘a) then picked up one pouch of 1000 dinars and said,
‘This is my hard earned lawful money. Pick up the other pouch. I refuse to have anything to do with it.’
He then addressed his serving man thus, ‘Musaddaf! It is much easier to wield the sword than earn lawful money. In other words, earning lawful money is much more difficult than wielding the sword.’
Abdur Rahman ibn e Sayaba Kufi was a young man who had recently lost his father. Besides his father’s death, his family was also a victim of poverty and unemployment. In short, he was miserably unhappy. One day, while he sat distraught, somebody knocked at the door. It happened to be his father’s friend.
After offering his condolence he asked, ‘Did your father leave some money behind?’
‘Here are 1000 dirhams. Invest them in a business; consider them as your principal amount. Use only the profit on domestic needs.’ Handing him the money, he bade farewell and left.
Abdur Rahman was very obliged and relieved. He took the money and related the entire incident to his mother. Following his patron’s advice, he converted the money into stock and began to trade his goods by placing them in a shop in the marketplace. In a short period, his business brought great profit. He spent the profit with great care and increased his merchandise. He met with greater success and the profit money increased, so much so that he decided that Hajj was now obligatory upon him. He spoke to his mother about his decision. She advised him to return the 1000 dirhams, that had brought so much prosperity, to their generous donor.
He went to the gracious friend and after greeting him, placed the pouch of money before him saying, ‘I came to return your money.’
The friend thought the money was being returned because it was not sufficient. He said, ‘If the money was insufficient I’ll increase the amount.’
‘They were truly blessed. I wanted to thank you for your help and return your amount to you. With this money I have expanded my business and earned so much profit that I am now able to return your amount and perform Hajj.’
Abdur Rahman returned home and starting making preparations for Hajj. After performing Hajj, he went to Medina and accompanied the large group of people going to pay their respects to Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (‘a). He sat down quietly in a corner and watched people interact with the Imam (‘a), present questions and receive answers. After the crowd decreased, the Imam (‘a) signaled to him to come near. When he was close enough, the Imam (‘a) asked, ‘Is there something you need?’
Abdur Rahman introduced himself. The Imam knew his father and asked about his welfare. On learning of his demise he said, ‘Sad, very sad! May he receive Allah’s blessings.’
After that he enquired, ‘Did you inherit money from your father?’
‘No. There was nothing at all.’
‘How have you performed Hajj, then?’
‘A friend of my father gave me 1000 dirhams to invest in some business, which I did. Thanks to Allah, I made great profit and..’
The Imam (‘a) interrupted him and asked, ‘What did you do about the 1000 dirhams that you received from a friend?’
‘My mother advised me to return the money before performing Hajj. I went to return the money to him myself.’
‘Well done! Would you wish me to counsel you here?’
‘It will be my good fortune if you do.’
‘Remember, honesty and integrity is obligatory upon you. A man’s credibility makes him a shareholder of others’ wealth.
The price of grain and bread was rising gradually in Medina. Everyone was busy trying to gather a whole year’s stock of grain, and he who had it was preserving it. Among the population were the poor, who earned their daily bread.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (‘a) enquired from M’utab, his incharge of essential items, ‘Do we have grain in the house?’
‘Yes, enough to last a few months, Ya ibn e Rasool Allah.’
‘Take it to the market and sell it to the people.’
‘Ya ibn e Rasool Allah, there is a lack of grain in Medina, if we sell all our grain we will face difficulty in purchasing more.’
M’utab did as ordered and, after selling all the grain, came and reported to the Imam (‘a).
He (‘a) instructed him, thus: ‘From today onwards, our bread will be bought daily from the baking oven. There should be no difference between my bread and the bread available to others. It must contain 50% grain and 50% barley. Thanks to Allah, I can afford to eat whole grain bread for a whole year, but I will not do anything that makes me answerable for being insensitive to the collective needs of the population.’
Generosity Of Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a.s)
e Imam's special servant Moalla (r.a.) says that one day he saw the Imam going towards the Bani Saada neighborhood. “I also followed him. On the way something dropped from the hands of the Imam. I tried to pick it up, and saw that many loaves of bread were strewn on the ground. I picked them one by one and handed them over to Imam who began to insert them in the bag flung over his arm. I asked him to hand over the bag to me, but he refused. Upon reaching the Bani Saada area we saw that some people were lying asleep. The Imam kept one loaf of bread near the head of each person. I asked the Imam if they were his Shias. Imam replied, 'If they had been our Shias I would have brought for them curry to eat the bread with. O Moalla! Remember the charity of the night cools down Divine anger and makes the accounting easy and the charity of the day prolongs ones life and increases wealth. O Moalla! Charity must not be limited to human beings. Animals too are deserving of it. Thus when Isa (a.s) once reached the riverside he took out a loaf of bread from the loaves he was carrying for himself and threw it in the river. Someone remarked that he was wasting the sustenance of Allah in this way. He said: The marine creatures would consume it. And I would get its reward.'”
Abu Ja'far Khashyami says that once the Imam handed him a bag of money and told him to deliver it to such and such Hashemite man and tell him that so and so has sent it. And the Imam told him a fictitious name. So he took the money and delivered it as directed by the Imam. The recipient was very happy on getting the money and he said, “May Allah give him good rewards, he always sends us this amount, which lasts us for a whole year. But Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s), in spite of having so much money does not help us.”
It is narrated from Fuzail Ibne Abi Marwah that one day he saw that the Imam had spread his cloak and many bags containing loaves of bread were kept on it. The Imam was picking up one bag after the other and handing them over to his servant instructing him: Give this to so and so, this to so and so and say this has come to you from Iraq. When the servants returned after distributing the bread they reported that the recipients were complaining about the Imam. Hearing this, Imam (a.s) went into prostration and said, “Humble my head for the descendants of my father, that when I hear my criticism from their tongue I don't feel bad about it.”
It is reported in Biharul Anwar that once Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) was in Mina and he has partaking some grapes when a beggar came asking for alms. The Imam picked up a bunch of grapes and offered him, but he refused saying he didn't need them. So the Imam took them back. Just then another beggar arrived and the Imam gave him only three grapes. The man thanked the Almighty and the Imam gave him as many grapes his hands could hold. The beggar thanked the Almighty again and the Imam this time gave him 30 dirhams also. Once more the beggar thanked Allah and Imam took off his cloak and handed it over to him. Now the fellow said, “May Allah reward you!” The narrator says that if that beggar had again thanked Allah and not prayed for the Imam, he (the Imam) would have bestowed him something more.
One day a person came to him soliciting charity and the Imam ordered his servant to give him 400 dirhams. The servant obliged and the petitioner thanked and moved ahead. The Imam told the servant to recall the man who thought that may be the Imam intended to take back the money. But when he came to the Imam he said, “The best charity is that one makes the eligible petitioner self-sufficient. Whatever I have given you is less in my view. So I also give you this ring worth 10,000 dirhams that you may sell when need arises.”
Imam’s Patience and Kindness
Once a pilgrim visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, fell asleep. On waking up, he hurriedly searched his belongings and found his purse which contained 1000 dinars was missing. Looking around he saw the Imam was praying in one corner of the Mosque. He accused the Imam of having picked his purse. The Imam asked about its contents and was told that it contained 1000 dinars. The Imam then asked the man to follow him to his house where he gave the man the same amount.
When the stranger came back to the mosque satisfied, once more he checked his property and found that his purse was intact in another bundle. Greatly ashamed of his conduct, he came back to the Imam, apologised and asked him to take his money back. Imam replied with these words, “We never take back what we once give away, but if you feel guilty about it, give it to the poor of the town.” The traveller gave all the money in charity to the poor of Madinah.
The Founder of Ahl ul-Bait University in Madinah
Imam Sadiq (A.S.) lived at a time when there was a deep and active interaction between Islamic thought and knowledge and the peoples of other nations. During that era, numerous works from different scholars and thinkers were widely translated into various languages. Sciences, philosophies and thought from other nations, too, were translated from their native languages into Arabic. Muslims studied these sciences, added to them, enriched them, and broadened their scopes. As a result, an active, ideological and scientific movement emerged. Muslims indulged in the sciences of medicine, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, among other ones. Philosophy, logic, the fundamentals of reasoning and other sciences were translated especially from Greek and the Persian languages.
It was during these times that the Muslims were also introduced to a new line of philosophical thought. This cultural interaction and intrusion that had both its pros and cons did not pass without drawing reactions from the Muslims. Consequently, a current of suspicion, complication, and unbelief rose in the Muslim community. Groups of people started adopting dialectics and embracing deviant views. But after a long and bitter struggle as well as long drawn out ideological fighting, the solid Muslim domestic front succeeded in stopping the cultural invasion, and exposing its flaws and weaknesses.
In addition to these scientific and cultural developments, during Imam Sadiq's (A.S.) times, there was a remarkably great movement in many fields. New political, economic, and social events and problems surfaced which needed to be settled according to Islamic laws. The consequent result was the emergence of new, unheard-of views and schools of thought. Scholars (ulama) became actively involved in trying to deduce the right answers for the new problems.
Amid these hard conditions and the scientific and cultural activities, after the emergence of alien schools of thought, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) lived and carried out his responsibilities, as a scholar and an unmatched teacher in the cultural and religious domains. Hard, though the rulers and their hired writers tried to obliterate the image of this great man, he remained a shining star in the sky of Islam, and a rich spring of Islamic knowledge.
During his father Imam Baqir's lifetime, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) helped in the establishment of the Ahl ul-Bait University, the the First Grand Islamic University in the Masjid un-Nabi (S.A.W.) in the holy city of Madinah. Both these Imams spread pure knowledge throughout the Islamic homeland - among the circles of jurisprudents (fuqaha), preachers, philosophers - and other scholars highly praised Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and his firm scientific background.
In the words of Sheikh Mufid: "From among all his brothers, (Imam) Sadiq, Jafar bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Husain (A.S.) emerged as the successor to his father Baqir, Muhammad bin Ali (A.S.), and as his trustee and the next Imam after him. He was distinguished among his people by his virtues. He was the cleverest, the greatest in stature, and the most venerated among the scholars and the common people. People took from him so much knowledge that men conveyed it to the remotest areas. He was well known in all parts of the Islamic lands. No other member of the Ahl ul-Bait matched him in being the conveyor of so much scientific knowledge. No other member of the Ahl ul-Bait was also remembered and praised by the historians and biographers as he was. Nor had the historians ever quantitatively reported from anyone as they had done from Abu Abdillah (Imam Sadiq) (A.S.). Scholars concerned with the Prophetic Traditions (Ahadith) made a list of the authoritative narrators from different schools of thought who reported from Imam Sadiq (A.S.)- they amounted to 4,000 men.
The great scholar, Allamah Sayyid Muhsin Amin in his book, Manaqib Aal Abi Talib (Virtues of the Family of Abi Talib) says that Bin Shahrashub quotes Abu Naim as writing in his book Al-Hilyah, "The Ornament", as follows:
"Umar bin Muqdam said: Whenever I looked at Jafar bin Muhammad (A.S.), I would know that he was a descendant of the line of the Prophets (PBUT). Never did a book on Prophetic Traditions, wisdom, asceticism, or morals, contradict his words. They said: Jafar bin Muhammad Sadiq (A.S.) said an-Naqqash, al-Thalabi, al-Qishri and al-Qizwini mentioned him in their Qur'anic exegeses."
The famous historian, Al-Yaqubi described him in these words:
"He was the best of men, and the most knowledgeable about the faith. The famous intellectuals who learned from him would refer to him, when quoting him as, `The Scholar told us....'."
Muhammad Farid Wajdi, the compiler of Dairat Ma'arif al-Qarn al-Ishrin (the 20th Century Encyclopedia) writes thus about Jafar bin Muhammad Sadiq (A.S.), the sixth Imam of the Shi'as:
"Abu Abdillah Jafar bin Muhammad Sadiq bin Muhammad Baqir bin Zain al-Abidin bin Husain bin Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S.) was one of the leading men of the Household of the Prophet (A.S.). His words were always true hence the title "Sadiq". He was one of the most virtuous among people. In the field of chemistry, he wrote and expressed views."
In his book Al-Milal wa al-Nihal (Religions and Creeds) Abul Fath Shahristani writes:
"Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.) was a man of immense knowledge in religion; complete competence in wisdom; extreme asceticism in life; and thorough piety; thus, protecting him against committing sins. He settled in Madinah, benefiting the Muslims who followed him; and conferring on the trustworthy ones, the secrets of sciences. He then went on to Iraq and stayed there for sometime, during which he never got involved in fighting over the right to caliphate. He who is drowned in the Sea of Knowledge, never covets a seashore, nor does the one who attains the pinnacle of truth fear falling."
The founder of the Malikis (an Islamic School of Thought), Sheikh Malik bin Anas describes Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.) as follows:
"Occasionally, I met Jafar bin Muhammad (A.S.). He had a smiling disposition and a sense of humor. When the Prophet (A.S.) was mentioned, his face would turn pale. For some time that I visited him regularly, I would see him doing one of these three things: Praying, fasting or reciting the Qur'an; He would first make ablution before citing Prophetic Traditions. He never talked about anything that did not concern him."
In his introduction to the book, Imam Sadiq (A.S.), Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zahrah, writes:
"With the help and blessings of Allah, we had decided to write about Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.). We had already earlier written about seven of the honorable Imams (A.S.). We have not delayed writing about Imam as-Sadiq because he is less meritorious than them. On the contrary, he matched the seven Imams in his virtues. He is distinguished from the great men by his outstanding merits."
Abu Hanifah has been quoted saying: "He (Imam Sadiq) believed he was the most knowledgeable man among people, though diverse their opinions were. He was the most well versed faqih. Malik used to call on him as a scholar and a narrator of Traditions. He was the teacher of Malik and Abi Hanifa, and even if that were his only credit it would be enough for him. Nor would there be a man who could exceed him in his virtues. And above all that, he was the grandson of Zain Abidin (A.S.), who was the master of the city of Madinah in his time; due to his virtues, honor, faith, and knowledge. Among his students was Ibn Shihab Zuhri and others from the later generations of Muslims. He is the son of Muhammad Baqir (A.S.) who slashed the `knowledge' open and got its kernel. He was the one on whom Allah, the Exalted, bestowed great personal honor and the additional honor of being from a noble lineage of the Household of Muhammad (A.S.).
Thus was the great Imam of the Muslims, the Master of the Fuqaha and the Eloquent, and the worthy Scion of Prophethood - Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.) - May Allah bless him.
Hisham ibn al-Hakam
Another one of Imam al-Sadiq’s students was Hisham ibn al-Hakam who was superior to the theologians of his time (I say all these based on what Sunni books testify). Abu al-Hadhil ‘Allaf was a powerful Iranian theologian. Shibli al-Nu‘mani wrote in his book entitled, “the History of Theology”, “No one could debate with Abu al-Hadhil on any topic. The only person he was afraid of was Hisham ibn al-Hakam.”
Nazzam, who was regarded as one of the geniuses of that time and who had some theories which are in accordance with some of the new theories of our time (for example with regards to smell and color, he believed that color and smell are separate from the object. This overrides the presumption that smell and color are fortuitous for an object. Especially, in the case of smell, he believes that smell is something that spreads in the air). He was one of Hisham’s students (it has also been written that he got this theory from Hisham ibn al-Hakam) and Hisham was one of Imam al-Sadiq’s students.
Now, you can see from this entire collection the cultural foundation which was made ready for Imam al-Sadiq. Such foundations were not prepared for any other imam before or after him. However, similar grounds were prepared for Imam al-Rida, in the case of Imam al-Kazim, the conditions were worse when issues such as imprisonment and the like came about. The rest of the Imams died in their prime as a result of being poisoned.
They were not allowed to live; otherwise, the situations would have been better to some extent. As for Imam al-Sadiq, both of these features were present. He had a long life (nearly seventy years) and his time and the conditions surrounding him were to his favor.
Now, how many of these features prove the differences between the time of Imam al-Sadiq and the time of Imam al-Husayn? In other words, what foundations were prepared for Imam al-Sadiq that were not present during the time of Imam al-Husayn? The Doyen of Martyrs [Sayyid al-Shuhada] must have either stayed at home all his life, worshipped Allah or in fact be a prisoner, or he must have gotten killed. This was not the same for Imam al-Sadiq (that he should either get killed or be in isolation). Rather, he would have either been killed or he could have used the constructive conditions of his surroundings to the utmost.
We cannot fathom the fact that subsequent Imams proved and clarified the values of Imam al-Husayn’s uprising. If there was no Imam al-Sadiq, there would be no Imam al-Husayn just as if there was no Imam al-Husayn, there would be no Imam al-Sadiq. That is to say, if Imam al-Sadiq was not there, the values of Imam al-Husayn’s uprising would never have been proven or clarified.
At the same time, Imam al-Sadiq made no objection to the caliphate when everyone knew that Imam al-Sadiq never came to terms with the caliphs and that he would campaign against them surreptitiously. A kind of cold war was in the midst. News of the faults, cruelty and tyranny of the caliphs had spread in the Muslim World by Imam al-Sadiq. In this connection, Mansur made an incredible connotation about Imam al-Sadiq7 (‘a), “Ja‘far ibn Muhammad is like a bone stuck in my throat. I can neither take it out nor can I swallow it. I cannot find any evidence against him nor can I tolerate him as I am actually informed that this neutralized ideology he has adopted is against us. This is because those trained under ideology are all against us. However, I cannot find any evidences against him.”
Yes. This is Mansur’s definition: a bone stuck in the throat. Neither can I take it out, nor can I swallow it.
The factors affecting scientific enthusiasm during the time of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a)
We said that an enthusiasm for scientific research appeared during the time of Imam al-Sadiq which intensified the war on beliefs. It was necessary for pious Muslims to get involved in this war in favor of Islam in order to defend it. What factors influenced this scientific enthusiasm?
There were three influential factors involved. Firstly, the one hundred percent religiously motivated community of people who had been encouraged by the Prophet to seek knowledge, the invitations and encouragements of the Holy Qur’an to learn, think and contemplate were the main factors causing this enthusiasm and keenness. Secondly, the admission of various racial groups into the Muslim World who had previously experience in the field of science and thought.
The third factor which prepared these foundations was the idea of a universal Islamic homeland. Islam had fought the homelands of water and soil and gave a new definition to the world homeland. Wherever Islam was, the homeland was there. The outcome of this was the relative destruction of racial prejudice in a way that people of different races were coexisting with one another and felt brotherhood and fellowship towards one another; for example, a student from Khorasan and a teacher from Egypt or vice versa.
The lecture session would be established and the one sitting as the teacher would be, for example, a barbaric slave, such as Nafi‘ or ‘Ikramah, slaves of ‘Abd Allah ibn Abbas. This barbaric slave would see Iraqis, Syrians, Hijazis, Egyptians, Iranians and Indians participating in his lecture. This was a major factor in preparing the foundations for this progression.
And above all was what we today call religious coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims, especially with the People of the Book [ahl al-kitab]. This means, in order to coexist with the People of the Book, Muslims tolerated them and did not consider this against their religious principles. In those days, the People of the Book were learned. When they joined the Islamic society, Muslims welcomed their arrival and obtained their knowledge during the very early period of their arrival. In the second era, Muslims were at the pinnacle of the scientific society.
The issue of religious coexistence was a very important factor. This, itself has of course a root in traditions. We have numerous traditions in this regard. Even the late Ayatullah Majlisi quotes in Bihar (which is also in Nahj al-Balaghah) that the Prophet said (hikmah here means correct scientific saying), “Learn the correct scientific sayings even from a pagan.” The meaning is “hikmah is the long lost of the faithful”. What is meant by hikmah here is its definition in the following ayah, “He gives wisdom to whomever He wishes, and he who is given wisdom is certainly given an abundant good. But none takes admonition except those who possess intellect.”8
This carries the meanings convincing, valid, solid and correct sayings. This is an excellent definition: the long lost. If an individual has something in possession but loses it, how is it that he looks for it whereve he goes? If you have a priceless ring which you are really fond of and it gets lost, you will go through every hardship and focus on every corner that comes to your mind in order to find what you have lost.
This (hikmah is ‘the long lost’ of the faithful) is one of the best and most honorable Islamic definitions. The faithful will grab it wherever he finds it, even if it is in the hands of a pagan. This means if you lost your property, and your lost property is in the hands of a pagan, would you say “I want no business with it” or would you say “this is mine”?
‘Ali says, “The faithful sees knowledge in the hands of pagan as a trust and himself as the main owner and would say, ‘The pagan is not worthy of it. I am the one worthy of it’.”
Some have put the issue of religious coexistence with the People of the Book on the account of the caliphs. They say that the tolerance of the caliphs demanded Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and others to include fellowship into their cultures and benefit from one another. But it was not because of the tolerance of the caliphs. It was the order of the Prophet. Even Jurji Zaydan directs this affair towards the tolerance of the caliphs. He quotes the story of al-Sayyid al-Radi and says, “Al-Sayyid al-Radi is an amazing man. He is on the same level as the religious jurists. He is al-Sayyid al-Murtada’s brother.” When Abu Ishaq Sabi9, his contemporaneous scientist, dies he recites an ode in praise of him,10
Did you see who they were carrying upon the coffin?
Did you realize the light of our circle has gone out?
This was a mountain that collapsed…
Some criticized him and said, why a sayyid (a child of the Prophet), a great Islamic scholar praised a pagan man this way! He replied, “Yes, I wailed his knowledge. He was a knowledgable man! (In these days if somebody does such a thing, they throw him out of the city.)”
After narrating this story, Jurji Zaydan11 says, “Look at the tolerance! A man of such a great spirit and an exalted position as well as knowledge praises a pagan this way.” Later, he says, “These all initiate from the caliphs’ imperial courts who were people with vast tolerance.”
This is not related to the imperial courts of caliphs. Al-Sayyid al-Radi was the student of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and he was the one who gathered Nahj al-Balaghah. He is more familiar than anyone with the commandments of his ancestors, the Prophet, and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, who have said, “Knowledge and hikmah are respectable everywhere.”
These were the factors that created this scientific enthusiasm which inevitably created the foundations for Imam al-Sadiq.
Our discussion, therefore, is that even though the basis for Imam al-Sadiq’s leadership were not laid down—if they had been prepared, they would have been the best of all prepared foundations—another ground was laid down for the Imam and he used it in a way that can certainly be named a scientific movement.
imid12 Shi‘ahs. All the rest of the Sunni schools branched from this university and they all result from Imam al-Sadiq’s use of the situation of his time.*The Muslim World, including both Shi‘ahs and Sunnis, is linked to Imam al-Sadiq. This is noticeable in the Shi‘ah school of thought. The Sunni schools also initiated from Imam al-Sadiq since the chief and head of Sunni schools, the University of al-Azhar, was established thousands of years ago by the Fat
These questions are at minimum forwarded at the problem of whether or not it was better for Imam al-Sadiq to let go of these foundations, fight and get killed in combat against oppression? Islam is not only about fighting oppression. Islam consists of other issues as well. Therefore, I just mentioned this issue in order to compare the differences between the time of Imam al-Sadiq and the time of other Imams.
If Imam al-Sadiq had not used this opportunity, this question could have been asked: did the Imam not want the caliphate for the sake of spreading Islam? Why did he not use this opportunity and get himself killed? The answer is: if the grounds were suitable, they would not have disregarded it. The suitable opportunity for Imam al-Rida was also to find a way into meetings of the faithful [mu’minin] and to raise his voice from there. Imam al-Ridamay have spent a year or two with Ma’mun but from everything narrated by him during that time may not have been narrated from any other period.
Debates of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A.S.)
Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, had many strong proofs with which he revealed the truth and refuted the proofs of others. We will tell you something about them, for they are a part of his scientific life full of lessons and sermons which the Muslim must study.
We have already mentioned something of the speech of al- Sadiq, peace be on him, on Oneness of Allah. Among his speech were some debates. Here, we will mention additional debates.
Some of these debates have been reported on the authority of Hisham b. al- Hakam, who said: "There was an unbeliever in Egypt. The unbeliever heard something of Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him. He went to Medina to debate with Abu Abd Allah, but he did not find him there. It was said to him: 'He (Abu Abd Allah) has been in Mecca.' So, he went to Mecca.
We (Hisham b. al- Hakam) were with Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him. While we were performing the procession around the Kaaba, he (the unbeliever) met us by chance. His name was Abd al- Malik. His kunya was Abu Abd Allah.
His shoulder hit the shoulder of Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him. So, he (al- Sadiq) said to him: 'What is your name?' 'Abd al- Malik', answered the unbeliever." 'What is you kunya?' asked al- Sadiq. 'Abu Abd Allah,' answered the unbeliever. So, Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: 'Who is this king (Malik) whose servant is you? Is he among the kings of the earth or among the kings of the heavens? Then tell me about your son, is he the servant of the God of the heavens or the servant of the god of the earth? Say whatever you like.'
Then al- Sadiq said to the unbeliever: 'When I have finished the procession a round the Kaaba, come to me.' When Abu Abd Allah (al-Sadiq), peace be on him, finished that, the unbeliever came and sat before Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him. We (Hisham and His companions) were sitting in the presence of al- Sadiq. Then, Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq) said to the unbeliever" Do you know that the earth has upper part and lower part?' 'Yes,' said the unbeliever.' 'Have you come in its lower part?' asked al- Sadiq. 'No,' answered the unbeliever.
'Do you know that there is something in its lower part?' asked al- Sadiq. The unbeliever answered: 'I do not know. However, I think that there is nothing in its lower part.' Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: 'Mere thinking is feebleness. Why aren't you certain?' Then, Abu Abd Allah (al-Sadiq), peace be on him, said: 'Have you ascended to the sky?' 'No,' answered the unbeliever.
Al- Sadiq ask: 'Do you know that it has something or not?' 'No,' answered the unbeliever. So, al- Sadiq said: 'How wonderful! You have not reached the east nor the west, you have not descended to the lower part of the earth nor have you ascended into the sky, nor have you gone any further to know what is beyond them. However, you have denied what they have, then does the wise man deny what he does not know?'
The unbeliever said to al- Sadiq: 'No one has told me about that except you.'
Then, Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said to the unbeliever: 'Then you have doubt about that (the Creator). Perhaps, He is existent, and perhaps He is nonexistent.' The unbeliever person said: 'Maybe.' So, Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said:
'The person who does not know has no proof over him who knows. The ignorant person has no proof Brother of the people of Egypt, understand my words: We never doubt Allah. Do you not know that the sun and moon, day and night come successively, while they do no mistake, nor do they come back? They have been forced to do that. They have no place except their palaces. If they were able to leave their places, then why do they come back? Besides the one who has forced them to do that is wiser and greater than them.' So, the unbeliever said: 'You are right.'
Then Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: 'Brother of the people of Egypt, you think that the time forces them (the sun and the moon, day and night) to come successively, then why does the time not force them to come back? And if the time was able to force them to come back, why does it not take them away?
Brother of the people of Egypt, if they are forced (to do that), why is the sky raised? Why is the earth set? Why does the sky do not slope down the earth? Why does the earth do not slope down its layers? Why do the sky and the earth do not stick together? Why does what's on the earth not stick together?' The unbeliever person said: 'Their Lord and Master has prevented them (the sky and the earth) from sticking together.'
He (Hisham b. al- Hakam) said: 'So, the unbeliever believed in Allah with the help of Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him.'" Then, Hamran b. A'yun said:
"May I be ransom for you, the unbelievers believed in Allah with the help of your father, too." Then the unbeliever who believed in Allah with the help of Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said to al- Sadiq: "Make me among your students." So, Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: "Hisham, the teacher of the people of Sham (Syria) and Egypt, teach him belief." So, the inner self of the unbeliever became good. Then Abu Abd Allah (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, was satisfied with him.
Another unbeliever came to al- Sadiq and asked him about something. The following are some extracts of them. The unbeliever asked him: "How do the creatures worship Allah, while they do not see Him?" Abu Abd Allah, peace be on him, said: "The hearts have seen Him through the light of belief Reason has proven him through its attention as the faculty of sight. The eyes have seen Him through His good formation and firm regulation.
Then (people have known Allah) through the apostles and their proofs, the Books and their clear verses. And the scholars have limited themselves to what they have seen of His Greatness without seeing Him." The unbeliever said: "Is He not able to manifest Himself to people to know Him and to worship Him with conviction?" He (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: "There is no answer to the impossible things."
I (the author) say: The vision is proven for bodies. As Allah is not body, then seeing Him is impossible. The impossible thing cannot be achieved not because there is a defect in power but because of the defect in the impossible things.
Then, the unbeliever said: "How do you prove (the position of) the prophets and the Divine messengers?" He (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, answered: "As we have proven that there is One Creator for us, Who is far above us, and also far above all that has been created.
And that He is All-Wise, Most High, and the One who cannot possible be seen or sensed by His creatures so that there could be any direct relation between Him and His creatures or His creatures and Him, and so that He could argue with His creatures (to convince them) and His creatures could argue with Him (in their turn).
It is (therefore) proved that there are envoys (mab'uthin) to establish a relation between Him and His creatures to explain His purpose to His creatures and servants and to guide them towards what is good and profitable for them, and also towards that which preserves their existence and which, when it is abandoned, brings annihilation. Thus it has been proven that there are those among His creatures who command and forbid on behalf of (Allah), the All- knowing, the All- Wise, and who speak on behalf of Him, to whom belong Might and Majesty.
They are the prophets, the selected among His creatures, the wise who teach wisdom, and who are sent with wisdom (for His creatures). Although they have their form in common with (other) creatures, their states they do not share with them. They have been aided with wise proofs, such as giving life to the dead, healing the blind and the leprous, by (Allah) the All- Wise, the All- Knowing."
Then, the unbeliever said: "From which thing has He (Allah) created the things?" He (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: "From nothing." He (the unbeliever) said: "How is the thing created from nothing?"
He (al- Sadiq) said: "Either the things have been created from a thing or from nothing. If the things were created from a thing, then the thing would be eternal, and the eternal (thing) would not be originated or changed. Besides that thing would be one essence and one color, then from where have these different colors and many essences come in this world? From where has death come if the thing from which the things have been created is living? And from where has life come if that thing is dead?"
I (the author) say: Although this matter is very difficult, the Imam has clearly explained it according to logical reasons.
Then the unbeliever said: "From where have they (people) believed that the things are eternal?" He (al- Sadiq), peace be on him, said: "This is the thought of the people who denied the Creator of the things, accused the messengers and their thoughts of lying. They (people) called the Books of the prophets fables. They put religion for themselves according to their ideas and approval, while the things indicate their creation, such as the rotation of the orbit and what it has; they are seven orbits, the movement of the earth and what is on it, the change of time...."
Debate with Abu al- 'Awja'
Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, had many debates with b. Abu al- 'Awja'.
One of them is as follows:
One day, b. Abu al- 'Awja' and b. al- Muqaffa' were in al- Masjid al-Haram (the Holy Mosque in Mecca). Bin al- Muqaffa' said: "Look at those people, who are performing the procession a round the Kaaba. No one of them is worthy of the name of humanity except that Shaykh (he meant Abu Abd Allah Ja'far al- Sadiq, peace be on him) the rest are mere rabble and beasts. Bin Abu al- 'Awja' asked him: "Why have you excluded that Shaykh?"
Ibin al- Muqaffa' answered: "Because he has outstanding qualities of which none has." "I must test your words," bin Abu al- 'Awja' answered. Bin al- Muqaffa' said to him: "Do not do that, for I am afraid that he will abrogate your beliefs." "This is not your purpose. However, you are afraid that your opinion will be weak with me when I discover something contrary to his rank which you have described to me."
Bin al- Muqaffa' said: "Do not worry! Go and test him. Beware of giving free rein to your ideas so as not to overcome you." Ibin Abu Al- 'Awja' went to al-Sadiq. Then he came back and said: "Bin al- Muqaffa', woe unto you! This is not a human being." "What has happened to you?" asked b. alMuqaffa'. Bin Abu al- 'Awja' answered: "I attended his meeting. When there was no one there, he said to me: 'If the matter is according to what those believe, and it is according to their belief, then they will be saved, while you will be ruined. And if the matter is according to what you believe, and it is not according to your belief, then you and they are equal.'"
I (Bin Abu al- 'Awja') said: "May Allah have mercy upon you, what is the difference between their belief and ours? Their beliefand ours is the same." Al- Sadiq said: "How can your beliefand theirs be the same? They believe in Resurrection, the reward, the punishment. They believe that the sky has God, and it is inhabited, while you claim that the sky is destruction and has no one." He (Bin Abu al- 'Awja') said: "So, I seized the opportunity and said to him: 'If the matter is according to their belief, then what has prevented Him (Allah) from manifesting Himself to His creature to summon them to worship Him so as no two persons are disagreed on Him?
Why has he hidden Himself from them and sent the messengers to them? If He manifested Himself, people would believe in Him easily, "al-Sadiq said to me:
"Woe unto you! He Who has shown you His power in yourself, how has He hidden Himself from you? He has created you while you were nothing, made you grow up while you were a child, made you strong while you were weak. Now, think of your illness after your health, your health after your illness, your pleasure after your anger, your anger after your pleasure, your sorrow after your happiness, your happiness after your sorrow, your love after your hatred, your hatred after your love.... He (al- Sadiq) went on mentioning Allah's favors which are in myselfand which I cannot deny. So, I thought that He (Allah) would appear between him (al- Sadiq) and me."
Abu Shakir al- Daysany, an Arab unbeliever, sometimes debated with al-Sadiq, peace be on him, and sometimes with Hisham b. al- Hakam. However, Hisham went to al- Sadiq, peace be on him, when al- Daysany asked him a certain question. One day, al- Daysany said to Hisham: "There is a verse in the Koran, which is our saying, (that there are two gods)."
Hisham said: "What is it (the verse)?" Al- Daysany answered: "And it is He Who in heaven is God and in earth is God." Hisham said: "I did not know how to answer him. So, I went to perform the hajj and I told Abu Abd Allah, peace be on him, about the question." Al- Sadiq said: "These are the words of an unbeliever.
When you come back, ask him: What is your name in Kufa? Surely, he will say by such and such name. Then ask him: 'What is your name in Basrah?' Surely he will reply by such and such name. Then you tell him: 'Such is our Lord, Allah, Who in heavens is God, in earth is God, in seas is God, in deserts is God. Thus, He is God at every place.'" Hisham said: "I came back to Kufa and went to Abu Shakir and gave him the reply." So, he said: "These words have been brought from Hijaz."
The Outstanding Merit of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family:
Abu Khanis al- Kufi said: "I attended the meeting of al- Sadiq, peace be on him, and a group of the .Christians was in his presence. They (the Christians) said: 'The outstanding merit of Musa, 'Isa, and Mohammed is the same, for they, peace be on them, are the Owners of the Laws and the Books.' Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said:
'Mohammed is the best and the most knowledgeable of them, peace be on them. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has granted him knowledge of which He has granted none.' They (the Christians) said: 'Has any verse of the Koran been revealed in this respect?' Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: 'Yes.' These verse of Allah, the Exalted: 'And We ordained for him in the tablets admonition of every kind.' His words to 'Isa: 'And that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in.'
Allah, the Exalted, said to Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family,: 'And We will bring you as a witness against these- and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything.' 'So, that He may know that they have truly delivered the messages of their Lord, and He encompasses what is with them, and He records the number of all things.' Then, by Allah, he (Mohammed) is the most knowledgeable of them. If Musa and 'Isa attended in my presence and asked me, I would answer them, and I asked them, they would not answer."'
I (the author) say: As the Commander of the Faithful (Imam 'Ali) is the gate of the knowledge of the Prophet, and his sons has inherited his knowledge, then they (his sons) are the most knowledgeable of all men, the Prophets and the like.
Treating the Women with Justice:
An unbeliever said to Abu Ja'far al- Ahwal." Tell me about the following Words of Allah, the Exalted: Then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then marry only one.' and these Words of His: 'And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination.'
There is a difference between these two verses." Abu Ja'far al- Ahwal said: "I had no answer. So, I went to Medina and came to Abu Abd Allah, peace be on him, and asked him about the difference between the two verses." Al- Sadiq said: "As for the verse: But if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then marry only one, He (Allah) has meant the expenses. And as for the verse: And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), He (Allah) has meant love, for no one is able to do justice to two wives in love." Then Abu Ja'far came back to the unbeliever carrying the answer. But the unbeliever said: 'You have brought this answer from Hijaz."'
Imam’s Political Activities
The period of his Imamate coincided with the most revolutionary and eventful era of Islamic history which saw the downfall of the Umayyad Empire and the rise of the 'Abbasid caliphate. The internal wars and political upheavals were bringing about speedy reshufflements in government. Thus, the Holy Imam witnessed the reigns of various kings starting from 'Abdu 'l-Malik down to the Umayyad ruler Marwan al-Himar. He further survived till the time of Abu 'l-'Abbas as-Saffah and al-Mansur among the 'Abbasids. It was due to the political strife between two groups viz., the Umayyads and 'Abbasids for power that Imam was left alone undisturbed to carry out his devotional duties and peacefully carry on his mission to propagate Islam and spreading the teachings of the Holy Prophet. In the last days of the Umayyad rule, their Empire was tottering and was on the verge of collapse, and a most chaotic and demoralized state of affairs prevailed throughout the Islamic State. The 'Abbasids exploited such an opportunity and availing themselves of this political instability, assumed the title of "Avengers of Banu Hashim". They pretended to have stood for the cause of taking revenge on the Umayyads for shedding the innocent blood of the Holy Imam Husayn. The common people who were groaning under the yoke of the Umayyads were fed up with their atrocities and were secretly yearning for the progeny of the Holy Prophet to take power. They realized that if the leadership went to the Ahlul-Bayt, who were its legitimate heir, the prestige of Islam would be enhanced and the Prophet's mission would be genuinely propagated. However, a group of the 'Abbasids secretly dedicated their lives to a campaign for seizing power from the hands of the Umayyads on the pretext that they were seizing it only to surrender it to the Banu Hashim. Actually, they were plotting for their own ends. The common people were thus deceived into supporting them and when these 'Abbasids did succeed in snatching the power from the Umayyads, they tuned against the Ahlu 'l-Bayt
Revolution of the Martyred Zayd
The first 'Alid of the Husaynid line who rose against the tyranny of the Umayyads was Zayd, the second son of Zayn al-'Abidin. After the death of Zayn al-'Abidin, when his eldest son Al-Baqir, who became the legitimate Imam of the house, strictly followed his father's quiescent policy and restricted himself to the claims of religious leadership, Zayd proclaimed the principle of establishing good and prohibiting evil by force if necessary.
Zayd preached that if an Imam wanted to be recognized, he should claim his rights sword in hand. It was, in fact, an expression of the deeply felt feelings not only of the Shi'is of Kufa, but also of the majority of Medinese, which Zayd understood only too well.
Thus many followers of Zayn al-'Abidin left Al-Baqir and went over to Zayd. They were joined by a considerable number of those of the Shi'is who had previously upheld the Imamate of Ibn al-Hanafiya and Abu Hashim, but the moderate views of Zayd's followers could not be reconciled with the extremist doctrines of the Kaysanites.
At the same time, Zayd, by adhering to Wasil b. 'Ata' and his doctrines, gained the whole-hearted support of the Mu'tazilites, and his acceptance of the legitimacy of the first two caliphs earned him the full sympathy of the traditionist circles. These combinations reveal two fundamental points. Firstly, Zayd and his close followers rejected the ideas prevailing among other Shi'i groups. Zayd and his followers wanted no quiescent or hidden Imams, like Al- Baqir and Ibn al-Hanafiya.
The Imam, in their eyes, although he had to be a descendant of 'Ali and Fatima, yet could not claim allegiance unless he asserted his Imamate publicly. Secondly, Zayd realized the fact that in order to run for the caliphate, he must have the main body of Muslim opinion behind him, and must, therefore, accept the main body of Islamic traditions.
Thus he expressed this attitude by declaring his acceptance of Abu Bakr and 'Umar as legally elected caliphs. At the same time, he maintained the Shi'I belief that 'Ali was superior; nevertheless, he accepted the “Imamate of the Inferior” (Mafdul), that is, of Abu Bakr and 'Umar, as permissible in order to secure certain temporary advantages.
After the death of Al-Baqir, Ja'far maintained his father's policy towards Zayd and his movement and remained a rather passive spectator. Being the uncle of Ja'far, Zayd had the superior position and Ja'far could not dare to deny his merits outwardly. It does not mean, however, that Ja'far did not have a close group of his own followers whom he inherited from his father and who resisted the Zaydite viewpoint Moreover, the concession to non-Shi'is 'given by Zayd, especially his emphasis on the rights of the first two caliphs, raised objections and ultimately caused many zealous Shi'is to abandon him. They revoked their oath and transferred their allegiance to Ja'far.
According to one tradition Zayd said to the deserters: “You have abandoned me (rafadtumuni)” and zealous Shi'is have since been called Rafida.A party of Kufan Shi'is went to Medina and informed Ja'far of Zayd's ideas and activities. Maintaining his regard for his uncle, Ja'far simply said, “Zayd was the best of us and our master.”
Zayd's revolt took place in Safar 122/December 740 and was unsuccessful. He himself was killed, and many of his followers were massacred. The Caliph Hisham then commanded that all eminent Talibis should publicly dissociate themselves from the insurrection and condemn its leader. Among them were 'Abd Allah b. Mu'awiya and 'Abd Allah al-Mahd, but the name of Ja'far as-Sadiq is nowhere mentioned.
It shows that Ja'far must have shown himself distinctly and categorically opposed to the movements of the activist members of the family. It also recalls the time of Ja'far's grandfather, Zayn al-'Abidin, in the reign of Yazid, when, after the suppression of the Medinese revolt, all of Banu Hashim were forced to swear allegiance and declare themselves slaves of the Caliph, while Zayn al-'Abidin was exempted. Now Ja'far was spared in a similar situation, which indicates the continuity of the same policy in the legitimist line.
Zayd's son Yahya, however, continued his father's activities and managed to reach Khurasan in order to win the sympathies of the Kufan Shi'is, whom Al-Hajjaj and other Umayyad viceroys of Iraq had exiled to that distant province. But in 125/743, after three years' futile efforts, Yahya met the same fate as his father. Zayd's movement, in fact, was unable to captivate the hearts of the activist groups because he did not claim to be the Mahdi-an idea which had become so dear to the Shi'i masses.
Moreover, his moderate policy eventually deprived him of the popular support of the Shi'is. Yet his revolt left a very deep mark upon the development of the whole Shi'i movement. Numerous learned men of Kufa, among them the great jurists Abu Hanifa an-Nu'man and Sufyan ath-Thawri, the traditionist Al-A'mash, the Qadi of Mada'in Hilal b. Hubab, and others, along with other leaders from other cities, supported or at least sympathized with his cause.
The movement of Zayd, however, though it ended in failure, paved the way for other claimants and offered ready ground for a more effective revolt. His and his son's deaths, which created a vacuum for active leadership, enhanced the prospects of two of their relatives and hitherto rivals: Ja'far as-Sadiq and Muhammad an-Nafs az-Zakiya. Since the former adhered to the quiescent policy of his father and grandfather, he was not inclined to make a bid for the leadership of an active movement with political implication.
Here we should note that the whole of Shi'ism at this stage was divided into three doctrinal groups. Firstly, there were the extremist and messianic groups originating from the Kaysanites; secondly, there was the moderate group which emerged from the teachings of Zayd and was backed by the Mu'tazilites and the traditionists of Medina and Kufa; and finally, the third group was under the personal influence of Ja'far as-Sadiq, who had been quietly propounding and expressing his own views and theories about the Imam and his function, which had neither Messianic pretensions nor Zaydite conciliatory moderation, as we shall see later.
Thus there remained only Muhammad an-Nafs az-Zakiya, from the House of the Prophet, who could attract both the Zaydites and the pro-Shi'i Mu'tazilites as well as a number of extremists on account of his Messianic claims. Though the actual revolt of An-Nafs az-Zakiya took place long after, in the sequence of events it would be in order to note that his Messianic movement in fact originates at this point.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq's Attitude towards the Abbasid Caliphate
It appears that the members of the `Abbasid family who became part of the revolutionary movement against the Umayyads adhered to the belief, in common with the various groups of the Shi'a, that the first lawful caliph after the Prophet was `Ali, and that the caliphate must belong to the People of the House (Ahl al-Bayt).
The `Abbdsids preached against the Umayyads by calling for reform and justice. They invited the people to rally around the most suitable person from the progeny of Muhammad (al-Da'wa li-l-Riďa min Al Muhammad). Many Shi’ite thought that this slogan referred only to the descendants of Imam `Ali. Thus they joined the `Abbasid movement.
Some of the Shi'a, such as Abu Salama al-Khallal, reached high rank in the `Abbasid movement without cognizing the fact that the `Abbasids were the founders of the movement, and they aimed to monopolize the caliphate for themselves. When the propagandists overthrew the Umayyads in 132/749, Abu Salama al-Khallal, having discovered the reality of the `Abbasid's goal, endeavoured to transfer the caliphate to the `Alids by corresponding with Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, `Umar al-Ashraf and `Abd Allah al-Mahd, offering it to each of them, Imam Ja’far al-Sddiq rejected the offer bluntly by burning Abu Salama's letter, and he warned `Umar al-Ashraf and `Abd Allah al-Mahd against accepting it.
Al-Sadiq had already held a secret meeting with the leading personalities of the `Abbasid family, such as al-Saffah and al-Mansur at al-Abwa', near Medina, around the year 120/737, to discuss the situation of the People of the House (Ahl al-Bayt). At this meeting the attendants wanted to form an underground collusion to bring about the downfall of the Umayyads.
A proposal also was made to support the Hasanid claims put forward by `Abd Allah al-Mahd on behalf of his son Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, but al-Sadiq refused to have anything to do with it. Although the `Abbasids present at this meeting made a nominal pledge to Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, al-Sadiq seems to have been aware of the possibility that their involvement with the revolutionaries, particularly the Kaysaniyya or its Hashimiyya branch; would be successful and that they would replace the Umayyads. Also al-Sadiq knew he was the true divinely appointed Imam of the Muslims and he achieved the Imamate by the testament of his father, Imam al-Baqir. Thus people should rally around him to recover his right in the caliphate. Al-Sadiq's view did not please the `Abbasids, so, they carried out their underground activities against the Umayyads without his participation.
When the `Abbasids succeeded in seizing the reins of power in 132/749 they were naturally aware of the danger from their kinsmen, the `Alids, whose claims to succession would be greater than their own if `Ali's right to the caliphate were to be accepted by the general populace. As a result the `Alids now faced `Abbasid oppression more severe than that of the Umayyads.
The motives for this oppression seem to have been first of all doctrinal. The early members of the `Abbasid family, such as `Abd Allah b. `Abbas, had confirmed `Ali's right to the Imamate (the political and religious authority) by relating many traditions attributed to the Prophet supporting it. They had also supported `Ali against the first three Caliphs and participated in the Caliphate of `Ali, and they gave some support to his son al-Hasan.
In the eyes of the `Alids by taking over the Caliphate the `Abbasids became usurpers of the political authority of the Imamate. Hence the `Abbasids became suspicious of the `Alid attitude toward their authority. Secondly there were economic motives for the `Abbasid oppression since Imam al-Sadiq continued to collect the khums secretly from his followers, an act which the `Abbasids considered as a preparatory step towards some conspiracy to overthrow them. These two factors obliged the `Abbasids to keep al-Sadiq in Medina and to hold his followers, especially in Iraq and later in Egypt, under close scrutiny as measures to ensure the security of the state.
Thus al-Sadiq maintained an externally quiescent policy towards the `Abbasids. Yet at the same time he spread traditions amongst the Shi’ite narrators of traditions stating that the Imamate was a prerogative bestowed by God upon one of the descendants of al-Husayn, who, before his death and at the Prophet's order, had transferred it to his successor by a clear stipulation (al-Nass al-Jali).
Al-Sadiq held that it was not necessary for the divinely appointed Imam to rise in revolt immediately in order to recover his rights to political authority. He should be satisfied with the spiritual leadership and perform its duties until the time when the community is sufficiently aware of his right to political power. Then God will assist him in his quest.
In accordance with his quiescent policy al-Sadiq announced openly that al-Qa’im al-Mahdi and not himself would achieve political power.
Al-Sadiq's quiescent policy did not satisfy a considerable body of his adherents. Their political ambitions caused schism amongst the Imamites. The instigator of this political movement was called Abu al-Khattab. At first he was trusted by al-Sadiq and nominated as agent (wakil) of the Shi’ite group in Kufa. But al-Sadiq then repudiated and denounced him because of his extremist theological view, which he had endeavoured to enforce by militant means. It seems likely that Abu al-Khattab wanted to circumvent the influence and the interference of al-Sadiq by propounding his political and revolutionary ideas to al-Sadiq's son Isma'il, who was more inclined to such thoughts than his younger brother Musa. Thus Abu al-Khattab hoped to give his revolutionary ideas religious legitimacy under Isma`il's name.
Although the rebellion of Abu al-Khattab was easily subdued at Kufa, his failure and al-Sadiq's continued insistence on a quiescent policy forced Abu al-Khattab's followers to resort to underground activities under the leadership of Muhammad b. Isma`il. This event led the adherents of al-Sadiq to split into the Isma'ilis and the Musawiyya. After his death, they split into Musawiyya, who held the Imamate of Musa al-Kazim, al-Fatthiyya, who held the Imamate of the eldest son of al-Sadiq, Abd Allah al-Aftah; al-Muhammadiyya, who held the Imamate of Muhammad b. Ja`far al-Sadiq, the Waqifa, who thought that al-Sadiq had not died but was al-Qa’im al-Mahdi; and the two Isma`ili sects who held the Imamate of Isma'il and his son Muhammad respectively.
Imam Sadiq (A.S.) during Mansurs Era
What was discussed above is related to the first stage of Imam Sadiq's (as) life. There are a number of clues that indicate those developments belonged to this period. The second stage begins when Mansur comes to power. After Mansur assumes power, the restrictions and repression are once again imposed and the conditions similar to those of Imam Baqir's (as) era prevail. Various pressures are exerted on his holiness and the Imam is frequently exiled to Hireh, Vaset, Romailah, and other places. He is also summoned several times. The Caliph takes outrageous measures against him and addresses him angrily. Once the Caliph says: "God May kill me if I do not kill you."
Once the Caliph asked the ruler of Medina: "set the house of Ja'far ibn Muhammad on fire." But the Imam passed through the flames safely and through his pounding remarks demonstrated a strange scene: "I am the son of a mighty Imam; I am the son of Abraham, the Friend of God (who also passed through the flames safely)."
The Imam's remarks frustrated most of the opponents. The confrontations between Imam Sadiq (as) and Mansur were often harsh. Mansur frequently threatened the Imam. Of course there are a number of traditions implying that his holiness had expressed his humbleness and meekness to Mansur! Without any doubt none of these traditions are correct. I have conducted research on these traditions and come to the conclusion that none of them are authentic.
These traditions are often traced back to Rabi' Hajeb who is definitely a corrupt figure and a close ally of Mansur. Ironically, some people have said that Rabi' was a Shiite and a lover of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (the Progeny of the Holy Prophet)!
How can Rabi' be a Shiite? Rabi' was a servant, subservient, and a bondman of Mansur. He is one who had entered the Abbasside system in his childhood, served them and had become the confidante of Mansur. He had served them a lot and attained the rank of minister in the Abbasside system.
Had not it been for Rabi's efforts, the Caliphate would not have remained in Mansur's family after his death and most probably his uncles would have inherited it. Rabi', who was the only person on Mansur's bedside at the time of his death, counterfeited a will and testament for him in which Mansur's son Mahdi was named as his successor. Fazl ibn Rabi', who became a minister in the administrations of Harun and Amin, was son of this man (Rabi’). Of course there are a number of traditions implying that his holiness had expressed his humbleness and meekness to Mansur!
Without any doubt none of these traditions are correct. I have conducted research on these traditions and come to the conclusion that none of them are authentic. These traditions are often traced back to Rabi' Hajeb who is definitely a corrupt figure and a close ally of Mansur. Ironically, some people have said that Rabi' was a Shiite and a lover of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (the Progeny of the Holy Prophet)!
How can Rabi' be a Shiite? Rabi' was a servant, subservient, and a bondman of Mansur. He is one who had entered the Abbasside system in his childhood, served them and had become the confidante of Mansur. He had served them a lot and attained the rank of minister in the Abbasside system.
Had not it been for Rabi's efforts, the Caliphate would not have remained in Mansur's family after his death and most probably his uncles would have inherited it. Rabi', who was the only person on Mansur's bedside at the time of his death, counterfeited a will and testament for him in which Mansur's son Mahdi was named as his successor. Fazl ibn Rabi', who became a minister in the administrations of Harun and Amin, was son of this man (Rabi').
The members of this family are well known for their loyalty to the Abbasside. They were not loyal to the Progeny of holy Prophet (S) at all, and what Rabi' has said about the Imam are all lies and fabricated. The objective of these fabrications was to project the Imam as a person who expressed his humbleness to the Caliph so that other people also be frightened and obey the tyrant caliph Mansur. However, the Imam's confrontations with Mansur were very harsh until they led to the Imam's martyrdom in 148 hijra.
Imam and al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah
One of the important events which took place during the Imamate of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was the uprising of Muhammad Dhil-Nafs al-Zakiyyah against Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, who assumed power in 136 A.H. succeeding his brother, Abul-Abbas al-Saffah. He was more hostile to and spiteful of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
Muslims, in general, suffered from his repression, a fact which urged Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan, a cousin of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) to revolt against al-Mansoor. We have explained Imam's attitude toward the attempt of Abdullah bin al-Hassan and his son to assume the caliphate Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was sure that any of the Alawite attempts to seize power would fail. Thirteen years earlier, he met Abdullah bin al-Hassan and told him that the Abbasids would seize power, and his son, Muhammad, would be killed by al-Mansoor.
"This one (Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor)." the ?mam (a.s.) said to him," will murder him on the oily stones. Then he will kill his brother after him at al-Tufoof whole his horse is wading through the water.
The Imam angrily rose to his feet. dragging his clock. Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor who was present, followed him and asked: .'Do you know what have you said, O Abu-Abdullah?" "Certainly, I know, it." "By Allah. This shall certainly be" 28
"When Abu-.Ja'far al-Mansoor assumed the caliphate he nicknamed Ja'far al-Sadiq" (The Truthful). Whenever he mentioned him afterwards, he would say: 'Al-Sadiq Ja'far bin Muhammad said to me such and such.' He became to be known by this name." 29
When Muhammad Dhul-Nafs al-Zakiy Tyah revolted against the injustices and oppression of Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) had the same feeling and the very desire for change which Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan had. Rut there was a difference. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) clearly saw the future. He knew full the failure to overthrow the regime, while his cousin, Muhammad, was ignorant of it. Because of the failure of the attempt and the grave consequences it would entail regarding Ahlul-Bait, the Imam disapproved of the revolt.
Muhammad Dhul-Nafs al-Zakiyyah called the people to support him in his bid to seize power. For some time he went in to hiding. No sooner were his father, his family and the sons of his uncle arrested, then he revolted in the city of Madinah. The uprising failed and Muhammad was killed. Later, his son, Ali, was murdered in Egypt. So was his son Abdullah in al-Sind. His son al-Hassan was arrested in Yemen and thrown into prison where he died. Poisoned, Idris, his brother, died in Morocco. Yahya, another brother declared war on the regime in Basrah. Heading a small army of his followers, he moved toward Kufah, but was slain before entering it. And thus ended the Alawite revolution, which brought so much woes and disasters on Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was not spared. Al-Mansoor, the Abbasid caliph, who was haunted by fear and doubts about Imam's activities, thinking him to be the driving force behind every hostile anti-Abbasid act, sent for Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), when the movement of Muhammad Dhul-Nafs al-Zakiyyah gained ground. He accused the Imam (a.s.) of supporting Dhul-Nafs al-Zakiyyah. Al-Mansoor harassed the Imam (a.s.), and put him on trial. After hearing the answers of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) al-Mansoor became sure that the reports and complaints about Imam's alleged hostile activities were false. He eventually released him. Once more, after Muhammad Dhul-Nafs al-Zakiyyah's death, al-Mansoor sent for him. He accused him of collecting money and weapons, and gathering followers in preparation for a revolt. Al-Mansoor brought the spy who had made up these false reports about Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) so as to repeat his allegations in the Imam's face. When the man came, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) asked him to swear that what he had told al-Mansoor about him was true. "By Allah.'" said the man," who there is no god but Him, the All- Powerful, the Living and the Eternal one...'"
"Do not hasten in your oath, I adjure you.."
Interrupted the Imam (a.s.), "What wrong do you see in this oath?"', al-Mansoor asked Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Allah is so merciful and bountiful, that when a servant of Him praises Him, He dose not hasten him with punishment," replied the Imam (a.s.), "but, O man, say, I renounce Allah's power and authority and resort to my own power and authority and what I have said is true..."
'Take the oath which Abu-Abdullah has just asked you to take," al-Mansoor ordered the man. No sooner did the man swear the oath than he dropped dead. Al-Mansoor, witnessing all that, trembled and fear gripped him.
"O Abu-Abdullah." he said to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), "you can take your departure from me and go to the sanctuary of your grandfather, if you choose so. But if you like to stay with us, we will not hesitate to be generous and kind to you. By Allah, I will never believe anything said about you by anybody henceforth."30
In such an atmosphere filled with animosity, terror, spying and persecution, the Imam (a.s.) lived, But, turbulent, though the political scene was, he succeeded in carrying out his great task of spreading knowledge and teaching, and graduating a whole generation of scholars, jurisprudents, and preachers.
Martyrdom of Imam Sadeq (AS)
Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), the 6th Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was martyred on 25 Shawwal in the year 148 AH.
"O Musadif! It is easier to fight with a sword than to earn the livelihood lawfully, or Rizq al-Halaal, to use the Islamic term. This is what Imam Ja'far Sadeq (AS) told to one of his disciples. These words are food for thought. Indeed, the more we delve into their meanings, the better our minds become perceptive of the timeless wisdom of the Revealed Word of God Almighty – the Holy Qur'an – and the dynamism of the Ahadith or sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahl al-Bayt. That was the reason these Immaculate Personages had emphasized the benefits of lawful livelihood and the dangers to the body and soul from a life fed and nourished by unlawful sustenance. Alas, the person whose aphorism has been quoted at the start of this brief column was the victim of those fattened on doubtful and dubious sustenance. Today, on the 25th of Shawwal we commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ja'far Sadeq (AS) with a public holiday in Islamic Iran so that the faithful by pondering on the exemplary life of the Prophet's 6th Infallible Successor, enlighten their minds and souls.
It would be tedious to say how after the Prophet's departure from the mortal world, the ones who masqueraded as his political heirs, left no stone unturned in violating the letter and spirit of the message of Islam, to the extent that his divinely-designated vicegerent Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) was martyred with a poisonous sword while in prayer in 40 AH, and two decades later in 61 AH, his son – the Prophet's grandson Imam Husain (AS) – was mercilessly cut to pieces along with his steadfast family members and companions by those whose bellies were stuffed with all things haraam or religiously prohibited. It is thus clear that the caliphate was never a Godly system but a rule of opportunistic elements who at times donned the garb of hypocrisy to feign religious sentiments in order to deceive simple-minded Muslims, more accustomed to wielding their swords for the greed of the mortal world, rather than using their brains to discern between right or wrong or between the lawful and unlawful means of sustenance. In fact, Imam Sadeq (AS) was indicating at this reality through his thought-provoking statements.
Born in 83 AH, 21 years after the tragedy of Karbala, Imam Sadeq (AS) spent 12 years with his grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), the Survivor of history's most heart-rending massacre, and was 31 years old when his father, Imam Muhammad Baqer (AS), fell victim to the poison given by the Omayyad despot, Hesham bin Abdul-Malik. Within the next 18 years, the Godless Omayyads made their ignominious exit from the scene with four more caliphs following the tyrannical Hesham in quick succession to the netherworld, that is, Waleed II, Yazid II, Ibrahim, and Marwan al-Hemar. The equally ungodly Abbasids now seized power of the Islamic state through unlawful means, and subjected the Prophet's 6th Heir to all sorts of pressures including imprisonment (at least five times in Iraq) despite the fact that as an offshoot of the Hasehmite clan they were fully aware of his pristine purity as a member of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt.
Power erodes faith and conviction. Mansour Dawaniqi – the second Abbasid caliph and the founder of Baghdad – in spite of the fact that he had memorized since his childhood thousands of sayings of the Prophet on the unrivalled merits of Imam Ali (AS), now created a deep chasm in the Islamic ummah by coining for the first time the divisive term Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l-Jama'ah for the scattered masses who had the least idea, other than conjectures circulated by court mullahs, as to what actually was the Prophet's Sunnah or Practice, and Seerah or Behaviour. The next seditious step taken by the knave Mansour to mislead naïve Muslims was to brand the followers of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt as “Rafedhoun” or 'Rejectors' for their logical refusal to endorse the rule of the first three caliphs, although he himself and his whole Abbasid ilk knew very well that neither there was any ayah in the Holy Qur'an nor a Hadith from the Prophet to support their seizure of political power.
Thus, in such trying times, it was left to Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (AS) to revive the genuine Shari'ah and the real Sunnah of the Prophet to guide the ship of Islam to the shores of salvation – the more so since it was the time when self-styled jurists used to indulge in qiyas or syllogism while dealing with religious matters. No wonder, the Imam firmly said in this regard: “The practice of qiyas in deriving laws would lead to the obliteration of the Deen (religion)”.
A brief article is not the place to quote the words of his one-time student, Abu Hanifa – son of a Zoroastrian convert from Kabul – or that of Malek bin Anas – a descendant of the Prophet's no so obedient servant Anas bin Malek. Both of whom were his students before deviating from his ways and coining schools of jurisprudents of their own, on the basis of mere guess work. Neither does time allow us to mention how the Father of Chemistry, Jabr ibn Hayyan (Gebr to medieval Europe) was taught the fundamentals of science by the 6th Imam, or how, while still a boy of 11 years, Imam Sadeq (AS) astonished scholars of his time by saying that the earth cannot be flat and is spherical, because of the way the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and the day and the night change in 24 hours.
As said earlier, if these bezels of divine wisdom were beams of guidance to those who earn their livelihood through lawful and legal means, they were anathema to those who led their life and built their power on haraam or religiously forbidden sustenance. May God damn Mansour Dawaniqi for administering the fatal dose of poison to the Prophet's 6th Infallible Heir, and may Divine Wrath befall the schismatic Wahhabis for destroying in 1925 the Holy Mausoleum in Jannat al-Baqie that used to house the sun-baked tombs of Imam Sadeq (AS), his father, Imam Baqer (AS), his grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), and the latter's uncle, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS). During the 34 years he was at the helm of spiritual affairs of the Ummah, the 6th Imam bore with patience 18 years of Omayyad tyranny and 16 years of Abbasid atrocities, but left no stone unturned in enlightening the Muslims with the real behaviour and practice of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), codifying the genuine Shari’ah as Fiqh al-Ja’far or the Ja’fari School of Jurisprudence, which remains rationally dynamic to this day.
Here let us refer to the 6th Imam’s simple but logically beautiful description of God the Omnipresent, Who has no form or place and is outside the limits of time and space, and whom imagination cannot encompass, since whatever that comes to the human mind, cannot be God. When he was asked to show God, he said, first look at the sun. The man replied that he could not look at the sun because it was too bright. The Imam replied: "If you cannot see the created, how can you expect to see the Creator?"