Disseminating knowledge and learning
- :S.M.R. Shabbar
Adopted from the book : "Story of the Holy Ka’aba And its People" by : "S.M.R. Shabbar"
His profound knowledge of religion and other sciences was famed throughout the entire Islamic world. People came from distant regions to learn from him. The number of his students reached over Four Thousand. Among them were scholars of Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Haidth such as Imam Noman bin Thabit Abu Hanifa and Imam Mali Ibn Anas. Heads of other religions also came there to discuss with the Imams students many matters of dispute and on many occasions returned home embracing Islam. Sometimes he himself argued with the opponents especially atheists. Apart from religious sciences, he used to teach to some students mathematics, chemistry, medicine and astronomy. Jabir Ibn Hayyan, the famous pioneer of physics, chemistry and mathematics, was his disciple who wrote about four hundred treatises based on his mentor’s instructions. The jurists who learnt from him and wrote several volumes of books on jurisprudence can be counted by the hundreds.
Perhaps the most interesting of all his pupils was Abu Hanifa who gave public lectures at Kufa that attracted much attention. In giving decisions, he claimed the right to exercise the privilege of deduction (Qiyas) and of using his own judgement (Ra’y) to supplement the traditions and for this departure he was severely criticised by the scholars in Makka and Madina. His decisions were on the point of law of Islam, however he steadfastly refused to enter the service of the Government as judge. Thus it was as a literary or academic jurist that he was able to carry on his work in Kufa under both the Ummayads and the Abbasids. It is probable that he strongly sympathized with the Alids and resented the way in which they had been set aside. Masudi mentions in his history that once he had sent 10,000 Dinars to Zaid Ibn Ali to help him against the Ummayads.
One is surprised to observe that these two contemporary scholars were able to carry on teaching in their respective cities, Abu Hanifa in Kufa and Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS) in Madina. The two men were on friendly terms with each other and often Abu Hanifa accepted the advice of his teacher Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS)
Ibn Khalikan relates a story about an anecdote that the Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS) had with his contemporary jurist of Kufa. The Imam asked, “ What would you say is the proper fine for one who breaks the front molars (Rubaiyat) of a deer”? Abu Hanifa answered, O’son of the Apostle of God I do not know the answer. To this the Imam replied, “ Can you then pretend to learning and scholarship when you do not know that a deer has no front molars, but only the incisors" (Thanaya).
On another occasion, Abu Hanifa remarked that if the Imam did not teach three things he would be able to accept him.
1. Good is from God and evil is from the deeds of men, “ whereas I say that men have no choice but both good and evil are from God.
2. In the final judgement the devil suffers in the fire,” whereas I say that the fire will not burn him, in so much as the same material will not injure itself (the Devil being from fire) “
3. it is impossible to see God in this world or the next, whereas I say that anyone who has existence may be seen, if not in this world, then in the next”. At this point Shaikh Buhlul who was one of Imam’s companions, but pretended to be a simple minded person, picked up a clod of earth and hit Abu Hanifa on the head, declaring as he made the hasty exit, that all three points are refuted. Abu Hanifa made a complaint about him to the caliph who called Buhlul before him and asked him, why did you throw the clod of earth at Abu Hanifa. He answered, “I did not throw it”. Abu Hanifa protested, “you did throw it” . But Buhlul replied, “ you yourself have maintained that evil is from God that men have no choice, so why do you blame me? And you have also said that the same material will not injure itself. The devil is from fire and fire of hell would not hurt him. Accordingly you are from dust of the earth, tell me how it could injure you? You have also claimed that you can see God as a proof of his existence. Show me the pain you are complaining about that exists in your head ?"
Abu Hanifa had no answer to that and he eventually agreed to what Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS) taught about these things.
Nevertheless Abu Hanifa was highly respected by those friends of Ahlulbayt for they heartily endorsed a remark made by Abu Hanifa concerning Mansur and all such oppressors whether of the Banu Umayya or Banu Abbas. Abu Hanifa eloquently declared that if such men would build a Masjid and command him to the simple task of counting the bricks, he would not do it, “for they are dissolute (Fasiq) and the dissolute are not worthy of the authority of leadership (Majlisi,Tarikhul Aiemma). Ultimately Mansur heard this remark and cast Abu Hanifa into prison where he remained until his death. Abu Hanifa’s remarks were based on the Verse in the Qur'an (Surah II,V 118) where God said to Abraham,” I am about to make thee an Imam to mankind”, and Abraham asked, “of my offspring also”, but God answered, “My covenant embraceth not the idolaters”.
On the question of the freedom of will (Irada) which was much under discussion at the time, the Imam taught, “that God has decreed some things for us and He has likewise decreed some things through our agency, What He decreed for us or on our behalf He has concealed from us, but what He has decreed through our agency He has revealed to us. We are not concerned, therefore, so much with what he has decreed for us, as we are with what he has decreed through our agency.”
As to the question of the power (Qadr) of directing one’s own actions, the Imam took a middle position, which is neither compulsion (Jabr) nor committing (Tafviz) the choice to ourselves. He was accustomed to say in prayer,”O’ God, thine is the praise that I give thee, and to thee is the excuse if I sin against thee. There is no work of merit on my own behalf, or on behalf of another, and in evil there is no excuse for me or for another”.
Yakubi in his Tarikh remarks in regard to Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS) that , “it was customary for scholars who related anything from him to say 'the learned one informed us'.” When we recall that Malik ibn Anas (94-179) the author of Mawatta was a contemporary of the Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS), at least a century before the time of Bukhari and Muslim, it is significant to find that it is the Imam Ja’afar Sadiq(AS) who is credited with stating what came to be regarded as the most significant and important principle to observe in judging traditions: “What is in agreement with the Book of God, accept it, and whatever is contrary, reject it”.
Yakubi also relates another saying of the Imam as follows;
"There are two friends, and whoever follows them will enter paradise”, Some one asked, “ Who are they?” He said, “The acceptance of that which you dislike when God likes it, and the rejection of that which you like when God dislikes it.”
Masudi, the famous historian, wrote one of the most important sayings of Imam Sadiq (AS) ascribed through Imam Ali (AS) who is said to have related that when God wished to establish the creation, the atoms of creatures and the beginning of all created things, He first made what he created in the form of small particles. This was before the earth and the heavens were created. God existed alone in His authority and power. So He cast forth a ray of light, a flame from His splendour and it was radiant. He scattered this light in the midst of invisible atoms, which He then united in the form of our Prophet. God most high then declared unto him,“you are the first of those who shall speak, the one with power of choice and the one chosen. To you I have trusted my light and the treasure of my guidance. For your sake I will form spacious channels, give free course to the waters, and raise the heavens. For your sake I will give rewards and punishments, and assign men to Paradise or to the Fire.I will appoint the people of your household (Ahlulbayt) for guidance. I will bestow upon them the secrets of my knowledge. No truth will be hidden from them and no mystery concealed. I will designate them as my proof to mankind, as those who shall admonish men of my power and remind them of my Unity (Tawheed)”. “ The light descended,” the Imam Ja’afar continued, “upon our most noble men, and shown through our Imams, so that we are in fact the light of Heaven and of Earth. To us is salvation committed, and from us are the secrets of science derived, for we are the destination that all must strive to reach. Our Mehdi will be the final proof, the seal of the Imams, the Deliverer of the Imamat, the Apex of the Light, and the Source of all good work. Those who follow us will have our support in the hereafter.”
Imam died in the 10th year of the reign of Caliph Mansur, 148 Hijiri(765 AD). He had worn a signet ring with the inscription,“ God is my master and my defence from His creation.” He lived to be 65 years old. It is mentioned by historians that on Caliph’s orders he was given poison in grapes which caused his death.
Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (AS) was buried in the cemetery of Baqee in Madina by the side of his father Imam Muhammad Baqir (AS). Before the destruction of the Baqee cemetery by the Wahabis, the inscription on the tomb said, “Here is the Tomb of Imam Ja’afar Ibn Muhammad al Sadiq.”
Share this article