Imam Jawaad

Our Youngest Imam Who Debated With The Chief Qadi While Yet A Young Child

Safwan ibn Yahya was a special student of Imam Ali Reza (a.s). One day he asked Imam (a.s), “Who is our Imam after you?” Imam Reza (a.s) gestured towards his young son who was sitting besides him. Safwan said, “This one? But, may I be sacrificed for you, he is only a child of three.” The Imam said, “Yes, he would be. His young age is no obstruction in his elevated station. Isa (a.s) was a prophet when his age was even less than three years.”

The Imam also told Muammar ibn Hammad, “Our family is one which has received the position of guidance of the creatures by way of inheritance, whether it be young or old, each of us is capable of fulfilling the duty of successorship.” Imam Reza (a.s) used to tell those who opposed the Imamate of Imam Jawwad (a.s) due to his less years, “The Almighty Allah bestowed prophethood to Isa (a.s) when he was aged less than three years.”

Mualla ibn Muhammad says, “After the passing away of Imam Reza (a.s) when I came to Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) for the first time I was closely observing his physique so

that I could describe it to others. The young Imam, who was aware of this, came and sat down. Then he said, “The Almighty Allah appoints the Imams on the position of Imamate even in young age like He appoints the prophets. The Almighty Allah says:

We granted him wisdom while yet a child.[1]

When Imam Reza (a.s) passed away in Khorasan, his son, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) was in Medina . During this period, seeing his capabilities, his brilliant face, the qualities of leadership and knowledge and intellect the Shias of Ali used to accept him as their leader. They used to obtain from him rulings about their religious duties and other matters. When Mamun, the Abbaside caliph came to Baghdad he summoned Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) also to Baghdad so that he could keep a close watch on the successor of Imam Reza (a.s). The Imam came to Baghdad but he did not introduce himself.

One day Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s), then aged nine, was standing with some boys in a lane of Baghdad . Seeing the entourage of Mamun all the other boys ran away, but as was his habit, Imam (a.s) continued to stand at his place. Mamun came forward and asked him, “Boy! Why did you not run away?” He replied, “O Chief! The passage was not narrow. There was no expectation that you would punish an innocent person. Then why should I run away?” Mamun liked this explanation and he asked the name of this boy and that of his father. He said, “I am Muhammad and Imam Reza (a.s) was my respected father.”


[1] Surah Maryam 19:12

Mamun was moved by his condition and he spurred his horse forward. At that time he was going for hunting and he had some falcons with him. When he left the habitations he released a falcon to pursue a partridge. The falcon disappeared and returned after sometime carrying a small fish in its beak. Mamun was greatly astounded. On his return he found the same boys playing. All ran away except Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s). Mamun approached him and asked, “Tell me, what I hold in my hand?” He replied, “The Almighty Allah has created little fishes in the sea of His power that the falcons of the kings prey upon and inform the sons of the Ahle Bayt of the Prophet.”[1]

Later, Mamun invited the nine-year-old Imam to his palace and seated him besides himself with respect and honor.

After that, under advice of his consultants he invited the learned people and scholars to have discussions with Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s). Some of them advised against it, as, according to them, the Imam was very young and first he should be sent to a teacher and only after he has been educated should he be presented for discussion. Mamun however did not pay any heed to this objection but instead invited the Chief Judge of his kingdom, Yahya ibn Aksam to speak with the Imam. Other nobles, officers and dignitaries were also invited for the occasion.

Mamun had a couch placed for Imam Jawwad (a.s) near him and also made suitable arrangements for Yahya ibn Aksam, befitting his status.


[1] Sawaiqul Mohreqa

Yahya asked, “If you allow me, can I pose a few questions to this lad?” Mamun said, “Good manners demand that you seek his own permission.” Yahya sought the Imam’s leave, which was granted immediately.

Yahya: What is the penalty for the one who hunts in the condition of Ehram.[1]

Imam: (Smiling) This question is absolutely absurd. First tell me, where this person hunted? In the surrounding area or inside the holy sanctuary? Whether he was aware of this matter or ignorant? Whether he did it willingly or by mistake? Whether he was a slave or a freeman? A matured person or a child? Did he do it for the first time or he had done it before also? Whether the hunted one was a bird or a quadruped? Small or big? Was the hunter regretful of his action or elated? Was the hunt conducted during the night or in the day? Was he wearing Ehram for Hajj or for Umrah?

Just as the Qadi heard these words he became speechless and the color of his face paled. Darkness appeared below his eyes and he continued to sit shocked. When the silence prolonged, Mamun could not restrain himself. He said to the Imam, “Now that you have told this, please also throw some light on its solution.”

Imam: If a person in Ehram hunts in the surrounding area and the prey is a bird, even if it is big, the penalty of the same is a goat. If he hunts a similar prey in the sanctuary, the penalty is two goats. If a young one of a wild animal is hunted in Ehram a ram is to be given as penalty. It should be one that is no more suckled by its mother. If the hunt is


[1] Ritual dress of one who performs Hajj or Umrah

that of a deer, a goat is to given as penalty and all these penalties apply for hunting wild animals in the surrounding areas. However, if it is done in the sanctuary the penalty would be doubled. And one who gives the penalty has himself to take the animals to the Ka’ba. If this person is wearing Ehram for Hajj he should slaughter these animals in Mina, if he is wearing Ehram for Umrah, he should slaughter them in Mecca . The aware and the ignorant are equally liable. One who does it willingly and knowingly is a sinner. Although in event of ignorance there is no sin. For a freeman the penalty is liable on himself, and the penalty of a slave is obligatory upon his master. There is no penalty on a small child. Penalty is incumbent on a matured person. One who regrets this hunting would be saved from the punishment of the Hereafter. And if he is elated at his deed the punishment of the Hereafter is also there for him.

Hearing the reply the whole gathering was astounded and accolades and congratulations arose from everywhere. Mamun was so happy that he continued to repeat again and again, “Allah best knows where to place His message.”

After this Imam (a.s) said to Qadi Yahya, “Now let me ask you a question.” Mamun said, “Ask him, indeed.”

Imam said, “What do you say regarding this problem? A man looked towards a woman while she was prohibited for him. She became lawful at sunrise, unlawful at noon, again lawful in the afternoon, unlawful at sunset and lawful at night. Again unlawful in the middle of the night and then finally lawful in the morning?

Since Yahya was helpless, the Imam explained, “She was a slave-girl whom he purchased in the morning and she

became lawful for him, at the noon time he freed her and she became unlawful for him. In the afternoon he married her. At Sunset he recited the words of Zihar (that she is to him like the back of his mother) and she became unlawful for him. In the night he paid the penalty and she became lawful for him again. During the night he gave her a revocable divorce and she became unlawful for him and finally he took her back nullifying the divorce in the morning, making her lawful for himself.”

Mamun addressed all those present in the court and said, “Is there anyone among you who can solve these religious problems like this young boy?” They all replied in unison, “There is none among us capable of it.”

Mamun said, “May be you people do not know that the members of the family of the Prophet are the owners of excellent qualities. That is why young age is not an obstacle in their perfection. Don’t you remember that Ali (a.s) was only ten when he harkened at the call of the Prophet towards Islam? Don’t you know that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had designated Hasan and Husain (a.s) as Imams when they were even less than six years old?

As long as Mamun was alive he continued to accord honor and respect to the Imam. He considered respecting him as his duty. So much so that he even married his daughter Ummul Fadl to him. But the times changed. After the death of Mamun, his brother Mutasim came to the throne who had Imam Jawwad (a.s) martyred with poison while he was yet in his youth. He was only twenty-five at that time.[1]


[1] A'laamul Wara of Tabarsi Pg. 331-338, Manaqib,Ibn Shahr Ashob Vol. 4, Pg. 388

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