A Glance at the Life of Imam Ja'far Sadeq (AS)
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate --
Salaam, and once again we extend our heartiest congratulations to you on a day of double joy.Today the 17th of the month of Rabi al-Awwal, the auspicious birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), also happens to be the blessed birthday of his 6th Infallible Successor, Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (AS), who was born 136 years later in 83 AH. Please stay with us for a special feature on the life and times of the Reviver of the Behaviour and Practice of his ancestor, the Last and Greatest of all Divine Messengers.
Amidst celebrations on the 136th birth anniversary of the Prophet, the joy was doubled in the house of his Infallible Progeny, with the birth of a radiant son in the blessed household. The proud grandparents of this blessed boy were none other than the Prophet of Islam's great-grandson and great-grand daughter, Imam Zain al-Abedin the son of Imam Husain, and Fatema the daughter of Imam Husain (peace upon them all). The father of the newborn was the Prophet's first namesake among his Ahl al-Bayt, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS), while the mother was the pious lady, Umm Farwa (SA) the daughter of Qasem ibn Mohammad. It would not be out of context to say that the paternal grandmothers of the happy couple who were blessed with the person destined to be the Prophet's 6th Infallible Heir, were sisters, or to be more precise, the two princesses of Persia. Hazrat Shahr-Bano and Kayhan-Bano.
The boy was named Ja'far, in honour of the of the Prophet’s martyred cousin, Ja’far at-Tayyar – Imam Ali's elder brother who died in jihad during the Prophet’s lifetime in defence of Islam against the Byzantine attack at Mouta (presently in Jordan). During those dark days of Omayyad tyranny, in the aftermath of the tragedy of Karbala, he grew up into a paragon of virtue, having spent 12 years under his grandfather Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), and the next 19 years under his father, whose epithet Baqer al-Oloum means Splitter and Spreader of Sciences. In the process, like the Prophet, he acquired the epithet "Sadeq" or the Most Truthful, which means his veracity was beyond an iota of doubt. Such was his honesty and credibility that even his opponents vouched the truthfulness of his words. Whenever a scholar would quote him, he would refer to him as the Legatee of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). In 117 AH, in the 3rd year of his imamate, Imam Ja'far Sadeq (AS) lost his two aged grandaunts, Fatema and Sakina, the daughters of Imam Husain (AS). Fatema was married to her first cousin, Hasan al-Mosanna, the son of Imam Hasan Mojtaba and she subsequently became the ancestress of the Hasani branch of Tabatabie Saadaat. Sakina, for her part, remained a spinster throughout her pious life, as her betrothed, who was her cousin and son of her uncle Imam Hasan had been martyred in Karbala. Both were laid to rest in the Sacred Baqie Cemetery of Medina. Along with their youngest sister, Ruqayya, who was martyred in prison in the Syrian capital at the tender age of 4 years, they had witnessed the tragedy of Karbala and suffered imprisonment in its aftermath in Kufa and Damascus.
The 6th Imam used to cherish the memory of his paternal grandmother Fatema, the daughter of Imam Hasan Mojtaba, who had played a pivotal role in Karbala and its equally torturous aftermath in supporting her husband Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and protecting from the bloodthirsty Omayyad hordes, her young son, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS). Of the 34-year imamate of Imam Sadeq, during which he revived the genuine seerah and sunnah or behaviour and practice of his grandfather the Prophet, and took his academy to its peak with 4000 scholars studying different branches of science under him, 18 years were under the Omayyad usurpers and 16 years under the new breed of usurpers, the equally oppressive Abbasids. During the crucial years when the Omayyads and the Abbasids fought over the control of the Islamic realm that belonged to neither of them, the 6th Imam spurned the offer of caliphate by one of the military commanders, since his own Wilayah or God-given authority, was far above political scheming. He knew the fickleness of faith of the people, and instead concentrated on spreading in society the pristine teachings of Islam through scholarly discussions, to the extent that to this day the term Fiqh al-Ja'fari means the genuine jurisprudence of the Prophet that has remained unsullied by qiyas or guesswork in which the pseudo jurists of his times indulged.
The 6th Imam, whose students include all-time greats in different branches of Science, such as the Father of Chemistry, Jaber ibn Hayyan, needs no introduction. His legacy is immortal. Since much has been written of his sufferings and eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Abbasid caliph, the turncoat Mansour Dawaniqi, we intend to summarize here the gargantuan task his imamate faced during the Ommayad era. In 121 AH, he saw the tragic martyrdom of his uncle, Zayd in Kufa by the army of the tyrant Hesham bin Abdul-Malik – the killer of his father Imam Baqer (AS) earlier in 114 AH in Medina, through a crafty gift of a poisoned saddle, following the failure of the plot to humiliate the 5th Imam in Syria. Hesham – a sworn enemy of the Prophet's Household, who years earlier while governor of Mecca tried to mock Imam Zain al-Abedin during the Hajj and got a fitting riposte from the poet Farazdaq – had forced Imam Baqer and Imam Sadeq (peace upon them) to come to Damascus where he imprisoned them. However, to his horror when father and son reformed the inmates and made them good Muslims, he released them and subsequently sent them back to Medina, especially after the leading Christian priest of Syria along with his followers embraced the truth of Islam after a debate with the 5th Imam.
In 126 AH Imam Sadeq (AS) heard the news of the tragic martyrdom of his cousin Yahya the son of Martyr Zayd, in distant Jowzajan which is in present-day Afghanistan and was then part of Khorasan. The young Yahya was the victim of the lecherous Waleed bin Yazid bin Abdul-Malik, a caliph whose other acts of sacrilege during his brief year-long rule includes the order to his drunk and ritually unclean concubine to lead the morning prayer in the Mosque of Damascus; his shooting of a volley of arrows at the holy Qur'an after flinging it to the ground; and the vow to drink wine atop the holy Ka'ba – an intention that was aborted with his sudden death. In the next six years three more debauchees – Yazid, Ibrahim, and Marwan al-Hemar – took turns as caliphs and spared no efforts to put obstacles in the divine mission of the 6th Imam, before the Omayyads were thrown into the dustbin of history in 132 AH.
Undoubtedly, it is truth and certitude that prevails, as taught by Imam Ja'far Sadeq (AS), whose tomb though in a dilapidated state in Medina because of the sacrilege committed by the Wahhabis at the Baqie Cemetery, is a testimony to the fact that it is the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt that are the true guides of the Muslims, and not the Omayyads, the Abbasids, and other tyrannical regimes that have terrorized Muslims, including the Wahhabi heretics presently ruling Arabia.
Before his martyrdom through poisoning at the age of 65 years in 148 AH, as is evident, the 6th Imam practically promoted all positive values and so perfectly did he revive the Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet that till this day the genuine shar'ia of Islam is known as the Ja'fari code of fiqh or jurisprudence. The founders of the four schools of jurisprudence of what later came to be known as the Sunni sect were directly or indirectly indebted to Imam Sadeq (AS). Abu Hanifa, whose real name was Noman bin Sabet and who was the son of a Zoroastrian convert to Islam from Kabul, has said of his two years of study under the Imam, before differing with the Prophet's heir and discontinuing his studies because of undue insistence on qiyas or analogy: "If not for those two years, Noman would have perished." Malek ibn Anas, the descendant of the Prophet's servant Anas bin Malek and founder of the Malekite School has hailed Imam Sadeq as among the most knowledgeable persons of all time. In view of these facts, we should consider ourselves to be fortunate to be adherents of his straight and unwavering path that has enabled the Islamic Republic of Iran to stand steadfast against Global Arrogance for the past three decades in order to achieve its national and Islamic goals. For the benefit of our listeners, we present two bezels of wisdom from the 6th Imam as a guide to success in our life:
"For a true believer, knowledge is his companion, clemency is his supporter, patience is the commander of his army, lenience is his brother, and charity is his father."
"As for those who control themselves in rage, desire, fear, and lust, Allah will prevent Hell from burning their bodies."