The Fifth Imam
He is Imam Mu9ammad al-B"qir (the splitter open of knowledge), son of !Al: (a.s.) and his mother was F"Uima daughter of Imam .asan (a.s.). He was born on a Monday the 3rd of the month of £afar (it is also said to be on the 1st of Rajab) of the year 57 A.H. (16th December 676 C.E.). He is the first of the Alids who is of Alid parents. He died of poison on a Monday the 7th of the month of DhYl-.ijja in the year 114 A.H. (28th January 733 C.E.) at the age of 57 years. His funeral was conducted by his son Imam Ja!far al-£"diq (a.s.) and he was buried in the cemetery of Baq:! in Medina.
He was extremely virtuous, noble, and religious. He had abundant knowledge, great clemency, and beautiful character, and he was worshipful, humble, generous, and tolerant. Once a Christian said to him: ‘You are a cow (baqar).’ He said: ‘Rather I am b"qir. The Christian said: ‘You are the son of a scullery maid.’ Imam B"qir said: ‘That was her profession.’ The Christian said: ‘You are the son of a licentious black negro woman!’
He said: ‘If you have spoken the truth then may Alla>h forgive her, and if you have lied then may Alla>h forgive you.’ At this, the Christian accepted Islam.256 He was a sea of knowledge and would answer any question posed to him without hesitation. Ibn !AU" al-Makk: said: ‘I have never seen anyone else before whom the scholars are so humbled more than before Mu9ammad al-B"qir (a.s.). I saw al-.akam ibn !Utayba, despite his greatness in the eyes of the people, before him like a child before his teacher.’257 Mu9ammad ibn Muslim said: ‘Whenever anything troubled my heart I would ask AbY Ja!far (Mu9ammad al-B"qir) until I asked him about thirty thousand traditions.’258
He was constantly remembering Alla>h. His son Imam £"diq said: ‘My father remembered Alla>h much. I would walk with him and he would remember Alla>h, eat with him and he would remember Alla>h, and even when he spoke to the people it would not distract him from remembrance of Allah.’259 He was much disposed to night prayer and worship and wept profusely.
Hadith from Imam Baqir (A)
‘The practice of Islam is founded on five matters: upholding of the daily prayers, purification of the wealth (giving the Khums and Zaka>h), performing the Hajj pilgrimage, Fasting during the holy month of Ramad}a>n, and allegiance to the authority (wala>yah) of the us the Ahl-ul-Bayt. Exceptions are given in four of them but none is given for the wala>yah. He who does not possess sufficient wealth, does not give Khums/Zaka>h. He who does not possess sufficient wealth, is not obliged to go to Hajj. He who is ill can perform the daily prayers in sitting mode, and does not fast during the month of Ramad}a>n. However the walayah is obliged upon him regardless of his health and wealth.’
‘Three are amongst the noble values of this world and the hereafter: To forgive he who transgresses against you, To bond ties with he who severs ties with you, To forbear he who insults you.’ ‘The most regretting individual on the Day of Judgement is he who preaches to others to do good but does not practices it himself.’
‘He who says the truth, his acts would be purified, and he whose intention is good, his sustenance will be increased, and he who is kind to his family his lifespan would increase.’ ‘He who teaches guidance, will have a reward similar to the rewards of all of those who act upon it without reducing anything from their reward. He who teaches misguidance, will have a punishment similar to the punishments of all of those who act upon it without reducing anything from their punishment.’
What others have said about Imam Muhammad al-Baqir
Ibn !Umar said indicating Imam B"qir (a.s.): ‘They, the people of the house, are endowed with [Allah given] understanding.’260 Whenever Jabir al-Juifi wanted to narrate traditions from the Imam he would say: ‘The trustee of trustees and the heir to the knowledge of the prophets, Mu9ammad ibn !Al: ibn al-.usayn, narrated to me . . .’261 Ibn Ab: al-.ad:d said: ‘Mu9ammad ibn !Al: ibn al-.usayn was the chief of the jurists of the .ij"z and it was from him and his son Ja!far that the people learned jurisprudence.’262
The Sixth Imam
He is Ja!far al-£"diq (The Truthful), the son of Mu9ammad al- B"qir (a.s.). His mother was F"Uima whose agnomen was ‘umm farwa’. He was born in Medina on Monday the 17th of the month of Rab:! I in the year 83 A.H. (20th April 702 C.E.) – the date of the Prophet’s (N) birthday. He died of poisoning on the 25th of the month of Shaww"l in the year 148 A.H. (14th December 765 C.E.) at the age of 65 years. His son MYs" al-K"dim (a.s.) conducted his funeral and he was buried in the cemetery of Baq:! in the city of Medina.
His knowledge and virtue, wisdom and understanding, abstinence and piety, truth and justice, nobility, generosity and bravery and all his other virtues are more than can be enumerated. Shaykh al-Muf:d said: ‘The learned scholars have transmitted on the authority of no other member of the House (ahl al-bayt) as much as they have transmitted on his authority. None of them met as many of the reporters of traditions as he did, nor did the latter transmit on their authority to the same extent as they transmitted on the authority of AbY !Abdull"h (Ja!far ibn Mu9ammad), peace be on him. The specialists in traditions have gathered together the names of those who narrated on his authority, who were reliable - despite differences in views and doctrines - and they were four thousand men . . .’263
Both AbY .anifa the Imam of the .anafite school and M"lik the Imam of the M"likite school were students of his. His abstinence was such that he used to eat [only bread with] oil and vinegar and would wear a very rough and thick shirt and would often wear patched clothes. He used to work by himself in his orchard. As for his worship of Alla>h, he used to pray a great deal and often fainted during prayer. One night he was summoned by the Abbasid ruler H"rYn al-Rash:d whose servant, when he went to his door, found him in solitude with his face and hands in the dust and the dust had left marks on his face and cheeks. He was very giving, of beautiful character, softly spoken, good company and a delight to be with.
Hadith from Imam Sadiq (A)
‘Nothing other than three matters continue to bring an individual rewards after death. A charity that Allah helped him establish during his life and this (charity) continues after his death, a good practice acted upon (by others), and an offspring who prays for him.’ ‘The right of a Muslim upon another is that he is not full when his brother goes hungry, and he does not quench his thirst when his brother is thirsty, and he is not clothed when his brother is naked; it is most great the right of a Muslim upon his brother.’ ‘Love for your Muslim brother what you love for yourself.’ ‘Amongst the manners of the ignorant is to answer before he hears (the argument), to oppose before he understands, and to give a judgement upon what he does not know.’ ‘He who acts not in accordance with a vision, is like he who is going down the wrong way, and then speeding does not give him anything other than distancing him further from the truth.’ ‘The most beloved of my brothers to me is he who presents me my mistakes.’
‘Seventy sins of the ignorant are forgiven before one is forgiven for the scholar.’ ‘Make bonds with he who sever ties with you, give to he who denies you, be kind to he who was bad to you, salute he who swore at you, be fair and just to he who fought you, forgive he who oppressed you just as you would like to be forgiven, learn from Allah when He forgives you; do you not see the sun shines upon the believers and the non-believers, and the rain comes down upon the good and the bad?’
What others have said about Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq
Fuv"d Sam!"n said: ‘Imam Ja!far al-£"diq was a teacher for the other leaders of the islamic juridical schools such as M"lik ibn Anas, A9mad ibn .anbal, AbY .an:fa, and al-Sh"fi!: and other leaders of sects.’ AbY .an:fa said: ‘I have never seen anyone more knowledgeable than Ja!far ibn Mu9ammad.’264 Mu9ammad AbY Zuhra said: ‘The Imams of the Sunnites who were his contemporaries received and took knowledge from him.’265 Ibn .ajar said: ‘The people transmitted knowledge from him far and wide and his fame spread to all lands.’266 Dr. A9mad Am:n said: ‘Imam Ja!far was one of the greatest personalities to have influenced his own time and afterwards.’267
The Seventh Imam
He is Imam MYs" al-K"dim, the son of Ja!far al-£"diq (a.s.). His mother was .am:da al-MuNaff"h. He was born at al-Abw"v which is a waystation between Mecca and Medina on Sunday the 7th of the month of £afar in the year 128 A.H. (8th November 745 C.E.), and died of poison in the prison of the Abbasid ruler H"rYn al- Rash:d after an unjust imprisonment of 14 years, on the 25th of the month of Rajab in the year 183 A.H. (1st September 799 C.E.). His funeral was conducted by his son !Al: al-Ri+" (a.s.) and he was buried at K"dim:yya, Iraq where his shrine remains to this day. He was the most knowledgeable of his peers and the most virtuous, generous and valiant. He had a beautiful character and fine qualities and was of obvious knowledge and virtue. He was high minded and was disposed to much worship of Alla>h and long prostrations to Alla>h. He was named ‘al-K"dim’ due to his containment of his anger, and because of his righteousness he was called ‘the righteous servant of Allah.’
The evidence of his knowledge in different fields is astonishing. An example of this is the tradition narrated by Burayha the prominent Christian who was defeated intellectually by the Imam and accepted Islam and became a good Muslim.268 Once a poor person asked him for one hundred silver coins. The Imam asked him a question to test his knowledge and when he answered correctly he gave him two thousand silver coins. He was the most beautiful of reciters of the Qurv"n and worshipped Allah and recited the Qurv"n more than anyone else and prostrated longer than anyone and wept for the sake of Allah more than anyone. He died in a state of prostration to Allah.
Hadith from Imam Kadim (A)
‘Allah has given the people two proofs, an apparent one and a hidden one. The apparent one is His messengers, prophets and Imams, and the hidden one is the intellect.’
‘Learn thoroughly the teachings of Islam for this learning is the key to the (correct) vision, perfect worship, the means to elevated stations, and honourable ranks in this world and the hereafter. For the merit of the learned scholar (Faqeeh) over the lifelong worshiper (Abid) is that of the sun over the planets. And he who does not seek knowledge about his religion, none of his achievements would be accepted by Allah.’ ‘Endeavour to divide your time into four categories: one for the supplication with Allah, another to make a living, the third for socialising with the brethrens and those trustworthy individuals who are honest to you and point out to you your mistakes in confidence, and the fourth to seek in seclusion non-forbidden pleasures, and with this you gain strength and vigour for the other three.’ 83 ‘. . . and the believer is the brother of the believer even if not born by the same parents. Cursed is he who accuses his brother, cursed is he who cheats his brother, cursed is he who does not admonish and advise his brother, cursed is he who backbites his brother.’ ‘He whose two days are equal is a looser, and he whose second day is worse than his first is cursed. He who does not observe progress in himself is in retreat and he who is in retreat, death is better for him than life.’ Addressing one of his disciples:
‘O Hisham! If you had a nut in your hand and the people said you have a pearl, it would be of no benefit to you and you know it is a nut. And if you had a pearl in your hand and the people said you have a nut in your hand, it would be of no detriment to you and you know that it is a pearl.’ ‘Any word of wisdom is sought after by the faithful Muslim, so always seek knowledge . . .’
What others have said about Imam Musa al-Kadim
The Abbasid ruler H"rYn said to his son [referring to the Imam]: ‘He is the leader (imam) of the people and Allah’s proof (9ujja) over his creation and His vicegerent (khal:fa) for His servants.’269 Ibn Khall"l the scholar of the Hanbalites said: ‘Whenever a matter concerned me and I sought out the grave of MYs" ibn Ja!far and asked Alla>h for a way (was:la) through him, Allah always made what I wanted easy for me.’270 Al-Sh"fi!: said: ‘The grave of MYs" al-Kadim is a tried and tested panacea.’271
The Eighth Imam
He is !Al: al-Ri+" (a.s.) son of MYs" al-K"dim (a.s.). his mother was Lady Najma. He was born on Friday the 11th of the month of DhYl-Qa!da in the year 148 A.H. (29th December 765 C.E.) in the enlightened city of Medina, Arabia and died of poisoning on the last day of the month of £afar of the year 203 A.H. (6th September 818 C.E.). His funeral was undertaken by his son Mu9ammad al- Jaw"d (a.s.) and he was buried in Mashhad (Meshed) in Khorasan, Iran where his shrine stands today.
His knowledge, virtue, nobility, generosity, good character, humility, and worship of Allah is very well known. The Abbasid ruler al-MavmYn requested of him that he assume the role of the Islamic Caliph in his place but he preferred to abstain from the things of this world and did not accept, understanding that it was not a sincere offer. Similarly, his grandfather before him, Amir al-Mo’mineen !Al: ibn Ab: ھ"lib (a.s.) had refused the Caliphate from the Council when it was offered to him because it meant he would have to lie and say: ‘I accept your allegiance on condition that I act upon the book of Alla>h (the Qurv"n), the way of the Messenger of Allah (N), and the way of the shaykhayn [i.e. the two sheikhs; AbY Bakr and !Umar].’ Whereas the Imam would have acted according to his own judgement after the Qurv"n and the Prophetic way.
When Imam Ri+" (a.s.) refused the caliphate, al-MavmYn coerced him into accepting the regency, so he accepted on condition that he would not interfere in any of the affairs of state.272 His great knowledge of religions and schools of thought and philosophies was made evident in the great debates that al- MavmYn and others hosted.
He used to keep vigil most nights and complete a recitation of the entire Qurv"n every three days. He would often pray one thousand units of prayer per day and prostrate to Alla>h for long hours. He also fasted often. He was very kind and giving and gave charity in secret especially in the dark of the night. He never spoke harsh words to anyone or insulted anyone, nor did he ever recline in front of anyone he sat with. He was not given to raucous laughter and never spat in front of anyone. When he sat at table he would invite all his family and servants and he would eat with them.
Hadith from Imam Rida(A)
‘Socialise with one another, so that you get friendlier.’ ‘He who repents is as he who has no sin.’ ‘Cleanliness and hygiene is one of the traits and manners of the prophets.’
‘The most superior knowledge is the knowledge of the self.’ ‘(In the Qur’an) Allah has commanded (us to do) three things which are linked to another three. He ordered (us to perform) the daily prayers and Zaka>h, and he who performs the prayers but not the Zaka>h, his prayers would not be accepted. He ordered (us) to be thankful to Him and to the parents, and he who is not thankful to his parents is not thankful to Allah. He ordered (us) to be pious and have fear of him, and keep close ties with the relatives, and he who does not keep close ties with his relatives is not pious.’
‘He who likens Allah to His creations is a Mushrik (polytheist), and he who attributes to Him something which He has forbidden is a Ka>fir (infidel).’ ‘The merit of Ema>n (faith) is a grade higher than that of Islam (Submission to Allah’s will), and the merit of Taqwa (Fear-of- Allah) is a grade higher than that of Ema>n, and the merit of Yaqeen (conviction) is a grade higher than that of Taqwa, and the sons of Adam (or human beings) are not given anything better than Yaqeen.’
‘Ema>n has four pillars: Trusting and relying on Allah, Contentment and pleasure with the will of Allah, Submittance to the ordinance of Allah, and Delegation and turning over (the affairs) to Allah.’ ‘Ema>n is to discharge the obligatory duties and to refrain from committing forbidden acts. Ema>n is recognition by heart, admission by tongue, and practicing, by all limbs, everything that has been ordered.’
‘The Qur’an is the sturdy rope of Allah and His firm grip, and His perfect road that leads to paradise, and delivers from the fire. It does not pall despite the passing of aeons, and does not dissipate despite being oft repeated, because it was not created for one time rather than another but it is the argument and proof for all humanity. Falsehood does not approach it from before or from behind, a revelation from The All Wise, The All Praised.’
A narrator reports, I asked Imam al-Rida(A) ‘What do you say about the Qur’an?’ Imam Rida(A) replied:
‘It is the word of Allah, and so do not surpass it, and do not seek guidance in anything else, for you will be deviated and go astray.’
What others have said about Imam Ali al-Rida
AbY al-£alt said: ‘I have never seen anyone more knowledgeable than !Ali ibn MYs" al-Ri+" nor has any other scholar seen him without testifying the same about him.’273 The Abbasid ruler al-MavmYn said: ‘He is the most knowledgeable of the Hashimites.’274
Rajav ibn .a99"k said: ‘I swear by Allah that I have never seen a man who was more mindful of Allah, nor remembered Allah more at all times, nor was more in awe of Almighty Allah than him.’275 Al-£Yl: said: ‘I have never seen or heard of anyone better than AbY al-.asan al-Ri+" and I have witnessed from him what I have not witnessed from any other . . . whoever claims to have seen the equal of him do not believe him!’276