Um Abbas

Sometimes feeling out of this world.

Imam Muhammad (Taqi)

Son of Imam Ali (eighth Imam)
The Ninth Imam

Imam Muhammad (ibn Ali) Taqi (sometimes called Jawad and Ibn al-Rida) was the son of the eighth Imam. He was born in 196/809 in Medina and according to Shi’ite traditions was martyred in 220/835, poisoned by his wife, the daughter of Ma’mun, at the instigation of the Abbasid caliph Mu’tasim. He was buried next to his grandfather, the seventh Imam, in Kazimayn. He became Imam after the death of his father through Divine Command and by the decree of his forefathers.

At the time of the death of his father he was in Medina. Ma’mun called him to Baghdad which was then the capital of the caliphate and outwardly showed him much kindness. He even gave the Imam his daughter in marriage and kept him in Baghdad. In reality he wanted to keep a close watch upon the Imam from both outside and within his own household. The Imam spent some time in Baghdad and then with the consent of Ma’mum set out for Medina where he remained until Ma’mun’s death.

When Mu’tasim became the caliph he called the Imam back to Baghdad and, as we have seen, through the Imam’s wife had him poisoned and killed.

Imam Ali (al-Ridha, al-Reza)

Son of Imam Musa (seventh imam)
The Eighth Imam

Imam Ridha/Reza (Ali ibn Musa) was the son of the seventh Imam and according to well known accounts was born in 148/765 and died in 203/817.

The eighth Imam reached the Imamate, after the death of his father, through Divine Command and the decree of his forefathers. The period of his Imamate coincided with the caliphate of Harun and then his sons Amin and Ma’mun. After the death of his father, Ma’mun fell into conflict with his brother Amin which led to bloody wars and finally the assassination of Amin, after which Ma’mun became caliph. Until that day the policy of the Abbasid caliphate toward the Shia had been increasingly harsh and cruel.

Every once in a while one of the supporters of Ali (‘alawis) would revolt, causing bloody wars and rebellions which were of great difficulty and consequence for the caliphate. The Shi’ite Imams would not co-operate with those who carried out these rebellions and would not interfere with their affairs. The Shia of that day, who comprised a considerable population, continued to consider the Imams as their religious leaders to whom obedience was obligatory and believed in them as the real caliphs of the Holy Prophet (sawas). They considered the caliphate to be far from the sacred authority of their Imams, for the caliphate had come to seem more like the courts of the Persian kings and Roman emperors and was being run by a group of people more interested in worldly rule than in the strict application of religious principles.

. The continuation of such a situation was dangerous for the structure of the caliphate and was a serious threat to it. Ma’mun thought of finding a new solution for these difficulties which the seventy-year old policy of his Abbasid predecessors had not been able to solve. To accomplish this end he chose the eighth Imam as his successor, hoping in this way to overcome two difficulties; first of all to prevent the descendants of the Prophet (sawas) from rebelling against the government since they would be involved in the government themselves; and secondly, to cause the people to lose their spiritual belief and inner attachment to the Imams. This would be accomplished by having the Imams become engrossed in worldly matters and the politics of the caliphate itself, which had always been considered by the Shia to be evil and impure. In this way their religious organisation would crumble and they would no longer present any dangers to the caliphate. Obviously, after accomplishing these ends, the removal of the Imam would present no difficulties to the Abbasids.

In order to have this decision put into effect, Ma’mun asked the Imam to come to Marw from Medina. Once he had arrived there, Ma’mun offered him first the caliphate and then the succession to the caliphate. The Imam made his apologies and turned down the proposal, but he was finally induced to accept the successorship, with the condition that he would not interfere in governmental affairs or in the appointment or dismissal of government agents. This event occurred in 200/814.

Soon Ma’mun realised that he had committed an error, for there was a rapid spread of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt. Increasing growth in the peoples attachment to the Imam, even from the army and government agents. Ma’mun sought to find a remedy for this difficulty and eventually had the Imam poisoned and martyred. The Imam was buried in the city of Tus in Iran, which is now called Mashhad.

Ma’mun displayed great interest in having works on the intellectual sciences translated into Arabic. He organised gatherings in which scholars of different religions and sects assembled and carried out scientific and scholarly debates. The eighth Imam also participated in these assemblies and joined in the discussions with scholars of other religions. Many of these debates are recorded in the collections of Shi’ite hadiths.

Imam Mosa (Kazim)

Son of Imam Ja’far (sixth imam)
The Seventh Imam

Imam Musa ibn Ja’far Kazim, the son of the sixth Imam, was born in 128/744 and was poisoned and martyred in prison in 183/799. He became Imam after the death of his father, through Divine Command and the decree of his forefathers.

The seventh Imam was a contemporary of the Abbasid caliphs, Mansur, Hadi, Mahdi and Harun. He lived in very difficult times and in hiding, until finally Harun went on the Hajj. In Medina, he had the Imam arrested while praying in the Mosque of the Prophet (sawas). He was chained and imprisoned, then taken from Medina to Basra and from Basra to Baghdad where for years he was transferred from one prison to another. Finally he died in Baghdad in the Sindi ibn Shahak prison through poisoning and was buried in the cemetery of the Quraysh which is now located in the city of Kazimayn.

Imam Jafar (Al-Sadiq)

Son of Imam Muhammad (Fifth Imam)
The Sixth Imam

Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad Al-Sadiq, the son of the fifth Imam, was born in 83/702. He died in 148/785 according to Shia tradition, poisoned and martyred through the intrigue of the Abbasid caliph Mansur. After the death of his father he became Imam by Divine Command and decree of those who came before him.

During the Imamate of the sixth Imam greater possibilities and a more favourable climate existed for him to propagate religious teachings. This came about as a result of revolts in Islamic lands, especially the uprising of the Muswaddah to overthrow the Umayyad caliphate, and the bloody wars which finally led to the fall and extinction of the Umayyads. The greater opportunities for Shia teachings were also a result of the favourable ground the fifth Imam had prepared during the twenty years of his Imamate through the propagation of the true teachings of Islam and the sciences of the Household of the Prophet (sawas).

The Imam took advantage of the occasion to propagate the religious sciences until the very end of his Imamate, which was contemporary with the end of the Umayad, and beginning of the Abbasid caliphates. He instructed many scholars in different fields of the intellectual and transmitted sciences, such as Zararah, Muhammad ibn Muslim, Mu’min Taqi, Hisham ibn Hakam, Aban ibn Taghlib, Hisham ibn Salim, Hurayz, Hisham Kalbi Nassabah, and Jabir ibn Hayyan, the alchemist. Even some important Sunni scholars such as Sufyan Thawri, Abu Hanifah, the founder of the Hanafi school of law, Qadi. l Sukuni, Qadi Abu’l-Bakhtari, and others, had the honour of being his students. It is said that his classes and sessions of instruction produced four thousand scholars of hadith and other sciences. The number of traditions preserved from the fifth and sixth Imams is more than all the hadith that have been recorded from the Prophet (sawas) and the other ten Imams combined.

Towards the end of his life the Imam was subjected to severe restrictions by the Abbasid caliph Mansur, who ordered such torture and merciless killing of many of the descendants of the Prophet (sawas) who were Shi’ite that his actions even surpassed the cruelty and heedlessness of the Umayyads. On his order they were arrested in groups, some thrown into deep and dark prisons and tortured until they died, while others were beheaded or buried alive or placed at the base of or between walls of buildings, and walls were constructed over them.

Hisham, the Umayyad caliph, had ordered the sixth Imam to be arrested and brought to Damascus. Later, the Imam was arrested by Saffah., the Abbasid caliph, and brought to Iraq. Finally, Mansur had him arrested again and brought to Samarrah where he had the Imam kept under supervision, was in every way harsh and discourteous to him, and several times thought of killing him. Eventually the Imam was allowed-to return to Medina where he spent the rest of his life in hid-ing, until he was poisoned and martyred through the intrigue of Mansur.

Upon hearing the news of the imam’s martyrdom, Mansur wrote to the governor of Medina instructing him to go to the house of the Imam on the pretext of expressing his condolences to the family, to ask for the Imam’s will and testament and read it. Whoever was chosen by the Imam as his inheritor and successor should be beheaded on the spot. Of course the aim of Mansur was to put an end to the whole question of the Imamate and to Shi’ite aspirations. When the governor of Medina following orders, read the last will and testament. He learnt that the Imam had chosen four people rather than one to administer his last will and testament: the caliph himself, the governor of Medina, ‘Abdallah Aftah., the Imam’s older son and Musa, his younger son. In this way the plot of Mansur failed.

Imam Mohammad (Al-Baqir)

Son of Imam Ali (Fourth Imam)
The Fifth Imam

Imam Muhammad ibn Ali Baqir (the word Baqir meaning he who cuts and dissects, a title given to him by the Prophet (sawas)) was the son of the fourth Imam and was born in 67/675. He was present at the event of Kerbala when he was four years old. After his father, through Divine Command and the decree of those who went before him, he became Imam.

In the year 114/732 he died, according to some Shia traditions poisoned by Ibrahim ibn Walid ibn ‘Abdallah, the nephew of Hisham, the Umayyad caliph. During the Imamate of the fifth Imam, as a result of the injustice of the Umayyads, revolts and wars broke out in some corner of the Islamic world every day. Moreover, there were disputes within the Umayyad family itself which kept the caliphate busy and to a certain extent left the members of the Household of the Prophet (sawas) alone. From the other side, the tragedy of Kerbala and the oppression suffered by the Household of the Prophet (sawas) of which the fourth Imam was the most noteworthy embodiment had attracted many Muslims to the Imams. These factors combined to make it possible for people and especially the Shia to go in great numbers to Medina and to come into the presence of the fifth Imam.

Possibilities for disseminating truths about Islam and the sciences of the Household of the Prophet (sawas), which had never existed for the Imams before him, were presented to the fifth Imam. The proof of this fact is the innumerable traditions recounted from the fifth Imam and the large number of illustrious men of science and Shia scholars who were trained by him in different Islamic sciences. These names are listed in books of biographies of famous man in time.

Imam Ali (Zayn-Al-Abideen)

Son of Imam Hussein (Third Imam)
The Fourth Imam

Imam Sajjad (Ali ibn Husayn entitled Zayn al-‘abedin and Sajjad) was the son of the third Imam and his wife, the queen among women, the daughter of Yazdigird the king of Persia. He was the only son of Imam Husayn to survive, for his other three brothers Ali Akbar, aged twenty-five, five year old Ja’far and Ali Asghar (or ‘Abdallah) who was a suckling baby were martyred during the event of Kerbala.

The Imam had also accompanied his father on the journey that terminated fatally in Kerbala, but because of severe illness and the inability to carry arms or participate in fighting he was prevented from taking part in the holy war and being martyred. So he was sent with the womenfolk to Damascus. After spending a period in imprisonment he was sent with honour to Medina because Yazid wanted to conciliate public opinion. But for a second time, by the order of the Umayyad caliph, ‘Abd al-Malik, he was chained and sent from Medina to Damascus and then again returned to Medina.

The fourth Imam, upon returning to Medina, retired from public life completely, closed the door of his house to strangers and spent his time in worship. He was in contact only with the elite among the Shiites such as Abu Hamzah Thumali, Abu Khalid Kabuli and the like. The elite disseminated among the Shia the religious sciences they learned from the Imam. In this way The Followers of Ahlul Bayt spread considerably and showed its effects during the Imamate of the fifth Imam. Among the works of the fourth Imam is a book called Sahifa al-Sajjadiyah. It consists of fifty-seven prayers concerning the most sublime Divine sciences and is known as “The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet (sawas).”

The fourth Imam died (according to some Shia traditions poisoned by Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik through the instigation of the Umayyad caliph Hisham) in 95/712 after thirty-five years of Imamate.