Glance at the Life of Imam Sadiq (A.S.)
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
On 17th Rabi al-Awwal 83 AH, amidst celebrations on the 136th birth anniversary of the Almighty's Last and Greatest Messenger, the joy was doubled in the house of Prophet Muhammad's (SAWA) great grandson and great granddaughter – Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), the son of Imam Husain (AS), and his wife Hazrat Fatema (SA), the daughter of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (AS) – with the birth of a radiant grandson to them.
The father of the newborn was the Prophet's first namesake among his Ahl al-Bayt (Blessed Household), Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (AS), while the mother was the pious lady, Umm Farwa (SA) the daughter of Qasem.
It would not be out of context to say that the grandmothers of the proud 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 (SA), was the wife of Imam Husain (AS), while Kayhan-Bano, the mother of Qasim was the wife of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, the adopted son of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
The boy was named Ja'far (AS), in honour of the of the Prophet’s martyred cousin, Hazrat Ja’far at-Tayyar (AS) – Imam Ali's (AS) 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, the Splitter and Spreader of Sciences (Baqer al-Uloum).
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 as-Sadeq (AS) lost his two aged grandaunts, Imam Husain's (AS) daughters Hazrat Fatema (SA) – wife of Imam Hasan's (AS) son Hasan al-Muthanna and ancestress of the Hasani branch of Saadaat – and Hazrat Sakina (SA), who remained a spinster throughout her pious life, since her betrothed (another son of Imam Hasan [AS] had achieved martyrdom in Karbala. Both were laid to rest in the Sacred Baqie Cemetery of Medina. Along with their youngest sister, Hazrat Ruqayya (SA) 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 memories of his paternal grandmother Hazrat Fatema (SA), the noblest lady of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba's (AS) family and the Siddiqa or the Most Truthful Lady of her times, who had played a pivotal role in Karbala and its equally torturous aftermath in supporting her husband Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and protecting her young son, Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (AS).
Of the 34-year imamate of Imam Sadeq (AS) during which he revived the seerah and sunnah of 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 of the jockeying for the power of the Islamic realm by the Omayyads and the Abbasids, he spurned the offer of caliphate by a military commander – by burning the letter in the flame of a lamp without bothering to open it – since his own Wilayah or God-given authority, was far above political scheming. He concentrated on spreading in society the pristine teachings of Islam to the extent that to this day the term Fiqh al-Ja'fari denotes the genuine jurisprudence of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) which remains unsullied by qiyas or guesswork in which the pseudo jurists of his times used to indulge.
The 6th Imam, whose students include all-time greats of 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 ad-Dawaniqi, I 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, Zaid 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 him 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 (AS) during the Hajj and got a fitting riposte from the poet Farazdaq – had forced Imam Baqer (AS) and Imam Sadeq (AS) to come to Damascus and imprisoned them. However, to his horror when father and son reformed the inmates, 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 in distant Jowzajan (in present-day Afghanistan then part of Khorasan) of his cousin Yahya, the son of Zaid the Martyr. He 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 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 as-Sadeq (AS), whose tomb although in a dilapidated state 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 – the Thaqalayn along with the Holy Qur'an – that are the true guides.