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Imam al-Sadiq's (a.s.) Scientific Role

Amid these hard conditions, and the scientific and cultural activities, after the emergence of schools of thought, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) lived and carried out his responsibilities, as a scholar, and unmatched teacher in the cultural and religious domains. Hard, through the rulers and their hired writers tried to obliterate the image of this great man, he remained a shining star in the sky of Islam, and a rich spring of Islamic knowledge.

During his father's lifetime, he helped in the establishment of Ahlul-Bait's university at the Mosque of the Prophet (s.a.w.). They both spread knowledge throughout the Islamic homeland among the circles of fuqaha, exegesits of the Qur'an, and scholars of traditions. Scholars (ulama), and knowledge-seekers from far-flung areas were calling on them, benefitting from their knowledge. No other Muslim Imams were so much visited and asked about the different sciences of Islam, especially Qur'anic exegesis, traditions, beliefs, ethics, etc..., as were Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) and his son, al-Sadiq (a.s.). So it comes as no surprise that Ulama', fuqaha, preachers, philosophers and other scholars highly praised Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and his scientific edifice.

Our booklet does not allow us to cite all that was said about the Imam (a.s.). But that won't prevent us from quoting some testimonies.

Shaikh al-Mufid, may Allah bless his soul, says:

"From among all his brothers, al-Sadiq Ja'far bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Hussein (a.s.) emerged as the successor to his father Muhammad bin Ali (a.s.), as his trustee as the next Imam after him.

He was distinguished among his people by his virtues. He was the cleverest, the greatest in his stature, and the most venerated among the scholars and the common people, people took from him so much knowledge that men conveyed it to remote areas. He was known in all parts of the Islamic homeland. No other member of Ahlul-Bait rivalled him as being the source of so much knowledge. No other member of Ahlul-Bait was also remembered and praised by the historians and biographers as he was. Nor did the historians have ever quantitatively reported from anyone as they had done from Abu-Abdullah (a.s.).

Scholars concerned with the Prophetic traditions made a list of the authoritative narrators from different schools of thought, who reported from him. They amounted to four thousand men." 31

The great scholar, Allamah Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin writes:

"Al-Hafidh bin Aqd al-Zaidi listed, in his biographical book, the names of four thousand worthy men, among others, who quoted from Ja'far bin Muhammad, and made a mention of their books ..." 32

He wrote also that: "Al-Najashi said in his biographical book, on the authority of al-Hassan bin Ali al-Washsha: 'I was lucky enough to meet in this mosque (the Mosque of Kufah) nine hundred old men, each one of them repeating: 'Ja'far bin Muhammad told me'. He (the Imam) (a.s.) would say:

"I heard the traditions I communicate to you from my father. My father heard them from my grandfather. My grandfather hears them from his father, his father heard them from Ali Ibn Abi-Talib. Ali bin Abi-Talib heard them from the Apostle of Allah. And what traditions the Apostle of Allah had conveyed are the exact words of Allah, the Almighty and Most High." 33

In his book Manaqib Aal Abi-Talib (Virtues of the Family of Abi-Talib), Ibn Shahrashoob quotes Abu-Na'im as writing in his book Al-Hilyah "The Ornament" the following, "Umar bin al-Muqdam said:

Whenever I looked at Ja'far bin Muhammad, I would know that he was a descendant of the line of the prophets. Hardly did a book on Prophetic traditions, wisdom, asceticism, morals, shun his words. They said: 'Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq said, 'or,' Ja'far al-Sadiq said.' Al-Naqqash, al-Tha'labi, al-Qishri and al-Qizwini mentioned him in their Qur'anic exegeses." 34

He further adds: "Abu-Na'im in his book Hilyat al-Awliya, lists the following scholars and prominent religious figures, who quoted Ja'far al-Sadiq; Malik bin Anas, Shu'bah bin al-Hajjaj, Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibn Jarih, Abdullah bin Umar, Rawh bin Al-Qasim, Sufyan bin Uyaynah, Sulaiman bin Bilal, Isma'il bin Ja'far, Hatam bin Isma'il, Abdul-Aziz bin al-Mukhtar, Wahab bin Khalid, Ibrahim bin Tahhan, and others,' Abu-Na'im goes on to say; and Muslim quotes him in his authoritative book of traditions to support his arguments. Others say: among those who quoted from him were Malik, al-Shafi'i, al-Hassan bin Salih, Abu-Ayyub al-Sajistani, Amru bin Dinar, and Ahmad bin Hanbal. Malik bin Anas said, 'Never had the eye seen, nor the ear heard, nor the heart of a human being thought anyone more virtuous, knowledgeable, devout, or pious than Ja'far al-Sadiq." 35

Al-Ya'qoobi, the famous historian, describes him in these words, "He was the beat of men, and the most knowledgeable about the faith. The learned men who learned from him would say, when quoting him' 'The scholar told us ...," 36

Muhammad Farid Wajdi, the compiler of Da'irat Ma'arif al-Qarn al-Ishrin (The Twentieth century Encyclopedia) writes about Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.), the Imam of Muslims, and says:

"Abu-Abdullah Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq bin Muhammad 37 bin Ali bin Abi-Talib is one al-Baqir bin Zain al-Abidin bin Hussein of the twelve Imams of the school of thought of the Imami Shi'ites. He was one of the leading men of the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.). His words were always true hence the nickname al-Sadiq. He was one of the most virtuous among people. About chemistry he wrote and expressed views." 38

He adds, "...His disciple, Abu-Musa Jabir bin Hayyan al-Sufi al-Tarsoosi, compiled a book with a thousand pages containing the letters of Ja'far al-Sadiq which were five hundred letters." 39

In his book Al-Milal wa al-Nihal (Religions and creeds) Abul-Fath al-Shahristani writes about Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) the following: "He was a man of immense knowledge in religion, complete competence in wisdom, extreme asceticism in life, and thorough piety preventing him against committing sins. He settled in Madinah, benefitting the Shi'ites who followed him, and conferring on the loyal the secrets of sciences.

Then he went to Iraq and stayed there for some time, during which he never challenged the Imamat (the ruling authorities), nor did he fight anyone over the caliphate. He who is drowned in the sea of knowledge, never covets a seashore, nor does the one who attains the pinnacle of truth fears falling ..."' 40

Al-Amin al-Amili quoted al-Hassan bin Ziyad as saying, "I heard Abu-Hanifah, being asked about the most authoritative faqih he had ever seen, saying: Ja'far bin Muhammad."

Abu-Layla is reported to have said: "I would never retract something I have said, or cancel a judgement I have made on the advice of anyone except one man; Ja'far bin Muhammad." 41

Malik bin Anas, the founder of the Malikis (an Islamic school of thought) phrases his view of Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq, in these words: "I occasionally met Ja'far bin Muhammad. He was smiling, with a sense of humour. When the Prophet was mentioned, his face would turn pale. For some time, I visited him regularly, I would see him doing one of these three things: praying, fasting, or reciting the Qur'an.

He would make his ablution before citing the Prophet's traditions. He never talked about anything that did not concern him ..." 42

The leader of Khaorasan says about Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq these lines of verse:

"You, Ja'far, are above the words of praise, which are tiresome. The honest men are but earth having you as its sky.

The one who is begotten by prophets is really beyond the power of words to praise." 43

In his introduction to his book Imam al-Sadiq, the Shaikh of al-Azhar, Muhammad Abu-Zahrah, writes:

"With the help and blessings of Allah we had decided to write about Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq. We have already written about seven of the honourable Imams. We have not delayed writing about him because he is less meritorious than them. On the contrary, he matches the seven Imam in his virtues. He is distinguished from the great men by his outstanding merits. Abu-Hanifah quoted him. He believed he was the most knowledgeable man among people, though diverse their opinions were. He considered him the most well-versed faqih. Malik used to call on him as a student and a narrator of traditions. He was the teacher of Abu-Hanifah and Malik, and if that only was to his credit it would be enough for him. Nor there would be a man who could exceed him in his virtues. And above all that, he was the grandson of Zain al-Abidin, who was the master of the city of Madinah in his time, due to his virtues, honour, faith and knowledge. Among his student were Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri and others from the later generations of Muslims.

He is the son of Muhammad al-Baqir who slashed the knowledge open and got its pulp. He was the one to whom Allah, the Exalted, gathered the personal honour and the additional honour, to the noble lineage, and closeness to the Hashimites and the household of Muhammad (s.a.w.)." 44

That is what the space allows us to say about the Muslims, Imam, the master of the fuqaha and speakers, and the scion of prophethood, Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.)


31. Al-Irshad (Guidance), Shaikh al-Mufid, p.270.

32. A'yan al-Shi'ah, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, vol. 1, p.661, Latest ed.

33. Ibid.

34. Manaqib Aal Abi-Talib (Virtues of the Family of Abu-Talib), Ibn Sharashoob, vol. 3, p.372,1275, A.H.

35. Ibid.

36. Tarikh al-Ua'qoobi, Ahmad bin Abi-Ya'qool bin Ha'far bin Wahab, vol. 3, p.119, 1964 ed.

37. In the Encyclopedia the name of Zain al-Abideen is written as "Zaid al-Abidin bin Hassan." It should be corrected to "Zain al-Abidin bin Hussein. Hassan is the brother of Hussein and the paternal uncle of Zain al-Abideen (a.s.).

38. Da'irat Ma'arif al-Qarn al-lshreen, Muhammad Farid Wajdi, vol. 3, p.109, 3rd ed.

39. Ibid.

40. Quoted from al-Muraja'at (correspondence between a Shi'ite and a Sunni Religious Scholar), Imam Sayyid Abdul-Hussein Sharaful-Deen, p.222.

41. A'yan al-Shi'ah, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, vol. l, p.664, Latest ed. The same is quoted by Counsellor Abdul-Hamid al-Jundi in his book Al-lmam Ja'far al-Sadiq, published by High council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt, p.161.

42. Al-Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq,Counsellor Abdul-Hamld al-Jundi, p.159.

43. Ibid.

44. Al-Imam al-Sadiq, Muhammad Abu-Zahrah, p.3.

Adapted from the book: "Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.)"

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