Who Was Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad? (1)
Imam Jawad was born in Medina on 10th Rajab 195 A.H. His name was Muhammad, Patronymic Abu Jafar and his well-known appellatives were Taqi and Jawad.
Name and Lineage
His name was Muhammad, kunniyat Abu Jafar and his well-known appellatives were Taqi and Jawad. Hence, he is generally known as Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS). Since prior to him Abu Jafar had also been the kunniyat of Imam Muhammad Baqir (AS), he is called Abu Jafar the second, and Jawad which was his second appellative. His esteemed father is Hazrat Imam Reza (AS) and the name of his revered mother is Janab Sabika or Sakina.
He was born in Medina on 10 th Rajab 195 A.H. At that time Ameen, son of Harun Rasheed, was on the throne in the capital city of Baghdad.
Rearing and Upbringing
It is a very heart-rending fact that at a very early age Hazrat Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) had to prepare himself to face the hardships and sufferings of life. For a very short time, he could pass his days under the loving and instructive shadow of his father. It was in the fifth year of his age when his father, Hazrat Imam Reza (AS) was forced to leave Medina for Khurasan. After separation from his father at that age, Imam Muhammad Taqi did not get the opportunity to meet him again in his lifetime.
Mamun martyred Imam Reza (AS) The world must have been under the impression that there were now no means left for Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) whereby to gain access to the heights of knowledge and accomplishments and, thereby, the seat or learning of Imam Jafar Sadiq (AS) would remain unoccupied from now onwards.
Nevertheless, the amazement of the people knew no bounds when after some time they witnessed this young child taking his seat by the side of Mamun, engaging himself in disputations with eminent scholars on jurisprudence, traditions, exegesis, reasoning, and compelling them to accept his viewpoint. Their astonishment was not to end until they were prepared to admit that against physical means there was also a divine system to impart knowledge and training. Without such a realization, the puzzle could not and cannot be solved.
First Journey to Iraq
When Mamun appointed Imam Reza (AS) as his heir apparent the imperatives of his diplomacy demanded that leaving aside Bani Abbas he should level up his relations with Bani Fatima in order to gain the favor of the followers of the Ahle Bait. He felt that, beside the demonstrations of his sincerity and solidarity with them, it was necessary that the old bonds that already existed between them by virtue of their belonging to the same Hashimite clan should be revived and the foundations of a new relationship should be laid.
Therefore in the same ceremonial function in which Imam Reza (AS) was made his heir apparent, Mamun also solemnized the marriage of his sister Umme Habiba with Imam Reza (AS) and announced the engagement of his daughter, Ummul Fazl, with Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS). Most probably, he was under the impression that he would thereby be able to bring Imam Reza (AS) completely to his side. But when he realized that the Imam (AS) would not at any cost be prepared to relinquish the obligations that devolved upon him in his capacity as the successor of the Prophet (SAW) and now, being a pillar of the Abbassid State, his continued adherence to those principles was much more dangerous than when he was living a life of seclusion in the locality of Bam Hashim in Medina, with a view to safeguarding the interests of his rule, found it necessary to end the life of Imam Reza (AS) through poisoning.
In so far as the constraints behind the appointment of Imam Reza (AS) as the heir apparent were concerned i.e., to keep the Iranians and the Shiite community under his control, they were still there. Therefore, on the one hand he exhibited extraordinary sorrow and grief on the demise of Imam Reza (AS) to show that he had nothing to do with the unjust killing of the Imam (AS) and, on the other hand, he deemed engagement of his daughter with Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) With this end in view, he called Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) from Medina to Iraq as after the demise of Imam Reza (AS) he himself had shifted from Khurasan to his old dynastic capital, that is, Baghdad. He was determined to get Ummul Fazl married to Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) without any delay.
Disputation with Religious Scholars
The very act of Mamun's nomination of Imam Reza (AS) as his heir apparent was intolerable to the Bani Abbas. With the demise of Imam Reza (AS) they heaved a sigh of relief. They even prevailed upon Mamun to notify the appointment of his brother, Mutaman, as heir apparent to the throne. He was later acknowledged as the caliph and became known as Mutasim Billah. Besides, during the tenure of Imam Reza's (AS) heir-ship the special mark of Bani Abbas, the black attire was replaced by the green, which was gaining general currency all around.
This practice was abrogated and the wearing of black clothes was made compulsory so that the old traditions of Bani Abbas could be preserved. All this had convinced the Abbasids that they now had complete hold over Mamun. Now they had complete hold over Mamun. Now Mamun's intention to make Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) his son in-law again became a cause of worry for them. They were so upset that that they could not restrain their feelings and in the form of a deputation they waited on Mamun and gave vent to their sentiments. They told him plainly that they did not relish his very manner of dealing with Imam Reza (AS) However, at least with respect to his age, his attributes and accomplishments, he could be considered as worthy of honor and esteem.
However, Muhammad, his son was only a child of quite a tender age. To give preference to a mere child over great scholars and respectable personalities and to pay him so much respect did not at all behoove the caliph. They further asked what benefit had they gained from the marriage of Umme Habiba with Imam Reza (AS) that Ummul Fazl was now being given in wedlock to Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS)? The reply of Mamun to their protests was: “No doubt Muhammad is of tender age, but I have fully assessed his capabilities and have found that he is the perfect successor of his father with respect to his attributes and accomplishments. These august scholars of the Islamic world whom you are referring to cannot compete with him in the field of knowledge and learning.
You can test his capabilities if you like but then only perfectly reasonable but was in fact a sort of a challenge that obliged the deputationists to agree to a competition. Amongst the Abbasid rulers, Mamun occupied a special status and the historians have recorded that he was himself reckoned amongst great jurists. For that reason, his own judgement in this respect did not carry any lesser weight. Nevertheless, they were not satisfied with that and selected the greatest scholar of Baghdad Yahya bin Aktham, to argue with Imam Muhammad Taqi.
For holding this disputation, Mamun arranged a grand function and gave wide publicity to it. Everybody was eager to witness a seemingly strange and unequal competition in which there was an eight-year-old child on one side and, on the other, a veteran and renowned chief justice of the regime. The result was that a mammoth gathering turned up to witness the spectacle. Historians have stated that besides the nobles of the court and other prestigious personalities, nine hundred chairs were reserved only for the outstanding scholars and men o learning.
There is nothing surprising in this because this was the time when the Abbasid regime was in the prime of its glory and, and more particularly, with respect to the advancement of knowledge and learning, it was its golden era. Baghdad was the capital where specialists in various branches of knowledge and art, drawn from all parts of the world, had gathered. Keeping this in view, this number does not seem to be based on any exaggeration.