Heartfelt condolences to you all on a very doleful day. Today is the 25th of the month of Shawwal, the day on which the 6th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was forced to leave the world, a martyr, at the age of 65 years in Medina, through a fatal dose of poisoning given on the orders of the self-styled Abbasid caliph in Baghdad.
Now we have a special feature on the life and times of Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) to whom we are all indebted for having bequeathed to posterity the fiqh or code of jurisprudential laws which are actually the pure and pristine Sunnah and Seerah of his ancestor, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
"If you cannot see the created, how can you expect to see the Creator?"
This is the reply of Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) to a person who when asked to look directly at the blazing sun, admitted it was blinding to do such a thing, but had asked out of ignorance why God cannot be seen.
Today we are commemorating the martyrdom of the Greatest Sage of his age, who on another occasion to a query of an agnostic had made him admit the Omnipresence of the Omnipotent Creator, Whom the eyes of the created cannot encompass. The Imam presented a very rational argument by saying:
Have you been at sea? Were you ever caught in a whirlpool? Didn’t you fervently appeal for rescue? Who saved you from definite death? Thus, don’t you think that the Power that has kept you alive is God the Almighty Creator?
Born in Medina on the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 83 AH on the 136th birthday of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), and martyred on the 25th of Shawwal 148 AH at the age of 65 Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) needs no introduction. The period of his imamate or divinely-decreed authority was 34 years, during which he unraveled for the seekers of truth the bezels of wisdom in all and every field. At his feet sat 4,000-odd scholars in the famous academy of Medina – founded by his grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and strengthened by his father, Imam Mohammad al-Baqer (AS). Perhaps, the ignorant might think that Imam Sadeq (AS) had laboured like ordinary persons to acquire such a vast knowledge, after trial and error. No, this is not the case. Only those lacking faith or following the schools of jurisprudence of those who merely conjectured about legal issues without any certitude, whether about the holy Qur’an or the Prophet’s Sunnah and Seerah, and even about the attributes of the One and Only God, might hold such an erroneous opinion. As a matter of fact, the knowledge of Imam Sadeq (AS), like the rest of the Imams of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, was God-given.
Here is an incident from his life, during the imamate of his grandfather when he was a boy of mere 11 years. Once, on entering a session where scholars were discussing astronomy, the beardless boy pointed out to the surprise of grey-bearded scientists that the earth cannot be flat, in view of the way the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; along with the fact that daylight and night complete a day’s cycle every 24 hours. Thus, he continued, the earth has to be round and spherical, or else, this would not have happened in such a precise manner.
All the scholars were astonished, while his father, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS) smiled in affirmative silence. This account has been mentioned in a book compiled by French scholars at Strasbourg in France with the title, “The Heart of the Sh’ite Scholarship”.
No wonder, the Father of Chemistry, Jaber Ibn Hayyan (Geber to medieval Europe) learnt the basics from Imam Sadeq (AS), to whom he remained loyal throughout his life, even if it meant persecution at the hands of the tyrannical Abbasid regime.
A brief radio programme cannot do justice to the dynamic role of Imam Sadeq (AS) in guiding the ship of humanity. He lived at a crucial juncture of history, when the Omayyads had reached their peak of power under the tyrant Hisham Ibn Abdul-Malik with Arab armies terrorizing people from southern France till the western borders of India and China. Soon, the Omayyads would decline, hit rock-bottom, and be replaced by the Abbasids. But before being cast into the dustbin of history, they committed more and more crimes against the progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). For instance, the 6th Imam’s pious and brave uncle, Zayd ibn Ali, was martyred after an abortive revolt in Iraq to avenge the innocent blood of his grandfather, Imam Husain (AS), the Martyr of Karbala. Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) endured this calamity, followed by another one when his cousin, that is, Zayd’s equally brave son, Yahya, was martyred in distant Jowzajan in what is now Afghanistan – but was then part of Khorasan – in an uneven struggle against the Omayyad regime.
Next was the treason of the Abbasids, who although part of the Hashemite clan, deceived the masses, especially the Iranian Muslims, in the name of the Ahl al-Bayt to seize the caliphate, and turn against the Prophet’s progeny. Mohammad Nafs-e Zakiyah, who was a second cousin of Imam Sadeq (AS) was martyred by the 2nd Abbasid caliph, the infamous Mansour Dawaniqi, near Medina in 142 AH. In the next year, the latter’s brother, Ibrahim was martyred during another revolt in Kufa. In addition, Mansour, who martyred many male members of the line of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (AS) – burying most of them alive – committed the treason of calling the Shi’ites or devoted followers of the Ahl al-Bayt as “Rafidhoon” (or rejecters). He also coined a new term “Ahl as-Sunna wa’l-Jama’ah” for those who had no idea of what the real Sunnah and Seerah or practice and behavior of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was. It should be noted that no such sect had ever existed before in Islamic history. Under such circumstances, when pseudo jurisprudents were being promoted by the regime, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) did not spare any effort to hold aloft the torch of genuine Islamic teachings. He bequeathed to posterity the fiqh al-Ja’faria, which is the actual shari’ah or code of jurisprudence of his ancestor, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
Unable to diminish the popularity of Imam Sadeq (AS) among the Muslim masses, an exasperated Mansour, resorted to another plot by naming his worthless son as ‘Mahdi’ in order to further mislead simple persons. Eventually, the usurper caliph martyred through poisoning the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir, little knowing that it is God’s Will to keep the torch of divine guidance glowing forever, until the advent of the Prophet’s 12th and Last Successor, Imam Mahdi (AS), to establish the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice. Today, the blessed tomb of Imam Sadeq (AS) has been destroyed by the Wahhabi cult in Medina, but the faithful continue to salute the site from near and far, and promote throughout the world the immortal legacy of the 6th Imam.
We again offer our heartfelt condolences on the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), and here is a poem composed by Iran’s English language poet, Dr. Hassan Najafi on the 6th Imam.
All the graces of the Prophet you own
You too felt for the good of man alone,
Your trumpets of knowledge spread loud alarms
The Prophet’s teachings spring from your arms.
True Islam was nurtured by you, today to bloom
Though your destroyed grave remains without a tomb,
Your school with students overflows
Today we trace your toil in your scientific glows.
When all over a general dullness rose
And all to the Prophet’s words became foes.
You got up against ignorance,
Dissipated the truth with exuberance,
Where smiling spring its visit paid
Students in thousands gathered under your shade.
The learning’s cultivated farm
Attracted each with its charm,
In your gentle hours you bade wisdom to bloom
And set the cumbrous ignorance to doom.
It is you behind the seven veils of the Qur’an’s page
Yet, springs your merit to charm the distant age,
In tempests shall shade each in his cell
In tender thought on you shall dwell.
When howling winds and beating rain
Blow the dust of your grave from plain to plain,
The lawns of faith of your love extend with pride
The streams of belief in your love glide.
In your name divine blessings appear
In you are those charms that dazzle and endear.
Your name mind to mind is dear
Upon it honour forms to remove all fear
Teach the children, to the Imam’s enemies’ despise,
In faith two contrasts cannot be allies.
Beyond its term this day my fate extends
To lament once again for you are my life ends.