Heartiest congratulations to you all on the auspicious 17th of Rabi al-Awwal, the day of double rejoicing. As you know today the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), also happens to be the birthday, exactly 137 years later, of his 6th Infallible Heir and Reviver of his Sunnah and Seerah, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS). Now we have a special article in this regard as follows:
Born in Medina in 83 AH, to Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS), the grandson on both the maternal and paternal sides, of the Prophet’s two grandsons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them), he was 12 years old, when his own grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), the Survivor of the Tragedy of Karbala, was martyred through poisoning in 95 AH. In the next 19 years till 114 AH, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), stood beside his father in preaching the pristine teachings of Islam to the ummah. Thereafter, on Imam Baqer’s martyrdom through poisoning, he started his mission as the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Successor. It was a crucial period in Islamic history. His 34-year imamate that coincided with the Omayyad and Abbasid struggle for power, resulting in the collapse of the former and the emergence of the latter as the new breed of usurper caliphs, provided a golden opportunity for the spread of the teachings of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt. The several years of respite from persecution, enabled the Imam to enlighten the people on the genuine teachings of Islam that had become distorted as the political realm of Muslims spread deep into Asia, Africa, and Europe, but became devoid of the spirit of Islam. It was a period when minds had become bewildered with the influx of new philosophical ideas from the conquered lands, while the tyrannical caliphs had prohibited the quoting of Hadith from the Prophet.
Thus for several years, the open political atmosphere afforded Imam Sadeq (AS) the vital time to expand the horizon of Islamic teachings in order to remove doubts from the minds of Muslims and to acquaint them with the genuine Sunnah and Seerah or practice and behavior of his ancestor, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). In the 6th Imam’s famous academy of Medina, as many as four thousand scholars studying different branches of science and fields of knowledge, sat at the feet of the Prophet’s righteous successor. The disciplines taught by the Imam were meaning and exegesis of the holy Qur’an, Hadith, jurisprudence, theology, ethics, history, rhetoric, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, and so many other subjects. Among those attending the Imam’s classes to become accomplished scholars were Hisham ibn al-Hakam in the field of theology and rhetoric, Aban ibn Taghlab in the field of jurisprudence, and Jaber Ibn Hayyan uin the field of chemistry. So thoroughly did Jaber learn this science from Imam Sadeq (AS) that he became known as the Father of Chemistry. Medieval Europe used to call Jaber ‘Geber’ and translated into Latin many of his chemical books. The most interesting point is that the Imam would asked these scholars for their comments and debated them in the most rationally convincing manner to remove misunderstanding, or to further enlighten their minds and souls. Among the jurisprudents who learned from the 6th Imam were Malik Ibn Anas, the descendent of the Prophet’s servant Anas Ibn Malek, and Abu Hanifa, the son of an Iranian convert to Islam from Zoroastrianism. Unfortunately, both these scholars, instead of heeding the words and warnings of Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS), started new schools of jurisprudence of their own through innovations and guesswork.
These academic, cultural, scientific activities of Imams Sadeq (AS) alarmed the new regime of the Abbasids. When Mansour Dawaniqi took power as the 2nd self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, he put obstacles in the way of the Imam, and virtually closed down the famous academy of Medina. Once he ordered Abu Hanifa to prepare a set of most complicated theological questions and pose them to the Imam. But to horror of the caliph and Abu Hanifa, the debated was rationally won by Imam Sadeq (AS). Abu Hanifa used to say “But for the two years (I spent as student of the Imam), I would have perished. The fame of Imam Sadeq (AS) spread far and wide. Even people in distant India which had not yet come under the rule of Islam, were in touch with Imam Sadeq (AS) in Median, and would regularly receive guidance from him. The rationality and truth explanation of the Qur’an, Hadith and the sciences, convinced all. Once a man famous for his piety, stealing two pieces of bread and then stealing two pomegranates from a fruit vendor, before giving these things to a poor man to eat. The Imam saw this and asked him why he was committing such a sin. The man answered: I took two pieces of bread and two pomegranates. So I committed 4 sins and God says in the holy Qur’an that whoever does an evil deed will be punished accordingly. Meanwhile God says that whoever does a good deed it will be rewarded ten times and since I granted the two bread and two pomegranates to the poor man, so I did 40 good deeds. If the four sins that I committed were to be reduced from the 40 rewards I earned, I will still have 36 rewards and no punishment.
In answer to this absurd logic of the thief, the Imam recited ayah 27 of Surah Ma’edah that says:
"Allah accepts only from the Godwary"
The Imam then enlightened him saying that you have failed to properly understand the Qur’an. How can you give in charity the things you have stolen from others, and moreover God accepts the deeds of the Godwary and pious and not of the sinners –even if they give in charity the money and property of others they will have no rewards but only punishment for their crimes and sins.
The 6th Imam was patient, prudent and kind to all others. At the same time he cautioned his followers from falling into extremism regarding their attribution exaggerated ideas and false things to the Ahl al-Bayt. The Imam used to say that these extremists, or the Ghullats, are a great danger to the peace and harmony of the ummah. He said these extremists, who claim love for the Ahl al-Bayt, try to belittle God Almighty and attribute divinity to the creatures of God. On 25th Shawwal, Imam Sadeq (AS), who never submitted to the dictators of his time, finally achieved martyrdom in the path of God at the age of 65 years.
We congratulate you once again on his blessed birthday of Imam Sadeq (AS), present you tribute to him in verse from Iran’s English language poet, Dr. Dr. Hassan Najafi:
Creation’s mildest charms in you combined
As Reviver of the Prophet’s Sunnah glows your mind.
Serene over your bosom the Qur’an holds its state
With crystal clear aims, exceptionally great,
Lofty the house where angels inspired
Where celestial mirth, ethereal smile retired,
Beyond the vast meadows of thought
Who can estimate your toil which can’t be wrought,
Your name Ja’far, Truthful as Muhammad,
He was Sadeq, you also Sadeq, the Heir of Ahmad.
Your voice was heard; soft, clear and close,
At your feet springs of knowledge rose.
You the Heir of Ghadeer, reason you applied,
Qiyas, the legacy of Saqifa, you exposed as falsity reviled,
The Omayyads and the Abbasids faded at your light
You promulgated the Prophet’s path, dazzling and bright
The caliphate they stole and led people into wilderness
You gave Muslims life, meaning and sense.
You regulated them in Islam
And your jurisprudence restored the norm.