Throughout the life of our Imams, there have been some situations that raised many questions about their actions. Actions that were based on reason and wisdom, unknown for many people, which would make the actions very logical moves.
One eyebrow-raising moment in the life of Imam al-Jawad is his marriage to Ummul Fazl, the daughter of Al-Ma’mun, the man who poisoned his father. This marriage changed some of the Shi‘as’ opinion about the Imam. However, by looking deeply into the imam’s words in different situations, it could be understood that there were some reasons behind him accepting the marriage. Qutb Rawandi quoted Husayn Makkari as saying, “While Imam al-Jawad was living in Baghdad wealthily, I went there, thinking that he is living prosperously and dignified by Ma’mun, and that he would not return to Medina. The Imam read my mind, lowered and then raised his head while he turned yellow, and said, “O Husayn! I prefer barley bread with half-ground salt in the city of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) to this situation.”1
So what is the ,story behind this marriage? Being a leader is not like how one might imagine, it is a vital responsibility where a leader has to be selfless and put in many sacrifices for the sake of protecting his followers and aiding what he believes in. This very fact was regarded by the Imams(a.s), for they do only what Allah is satisfied with.
The idea of marriage would give Ma’mun the chance to monitor the Imam through his daughter and allow him to control the Imam’s relations more closely. In addition to that, it would damage the Imam’s reputation by having him attend frivolous gatherings. Thus, Ma’mun’s pressure left him no choice, to prevent from what could have been potentially worse such as his martyrdom at a young age with no offspring. This move from the Imam (a.s) also prevented the government oppression on Shias to some extent. It also opened for the Imam many doors to spread his teachinga and brought wealth to his household and the Shia community.
1) Al-Khara’ij WA Al-Hara’ij, vol.4, p. 383