Imam Muhammed al-Baqir (a.s)
Imam Muhammed al-Baqir (a.s)
The fifth Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) was born on the 1st of the month of Rajab, 57th Hijrah, in the city of Madina. Because of the resemblance that he had with his grandfather he was named Mohammad and because of it that he analyzed the knowledge and made manifest its secrets he became known with the title of "Baqir". His father was Hazrat Sajjad (A.S.) and mother Fatimah who was one of the daughters of Imam Hassan (A.S.). He was the first Imam (A.S.) whose lineage ascended and reached the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) both from the paternal and maternal sides. His life history can be divided into two parts.
1. The period before his Imamate which is nearly 35 years and was the peaceful part of his life, led in Madina.
2. The Period of Imamate, which stretched, up to twenty years and is counted as the duration of the propagation and dissemination of Islamic knowledge and wisdom.
The Salient Features of Imam's Character
Imam Mohammad Baqir always put on new and clean dress. He perfumed himself and walked very comfortably, slowly and steadily. One day, some narrow minded ones criticized him saying your grandfather Ali (A.S.) used old and cheap clothes so why do you put on clean and new ones? He replied, since in those days all the people were poor Ali (A.S.) ought to have used old clothes and simple food. But today the people are leading their lives in comfort and luxury; hence, I should not use those clothes. The act of my grandfather in those days, was according to justice and leadership and my action and way of life today is also in accordance to the (norms of) Justice and leadership. About his manners and training, it is written that he never laughed loudly and always spoke in a calm and respectable way. He never became furious and enraged and with whosoever he met he would give him respect and shook hands with him and said, "this act (shaking hands) brings the hearts close to each other and puts an end to the enmities and hostilities." Although Imam (A.S.) wept much during his confidential conversation with God, but he did not weep loudly. Whenever he spoke he would start and end his talk with the name of God. He had gardens and fields in abundance and large number but he himself visited them like a farmer and shared the work with the cultivator and workers, took food with them, and talked to them. He was a master who had close working relations with his servants. Whatever agricultural products he received from his gardens and fields he would give it in the name of God. He fulfilled all the needs and requirements of his workers to such extent that he was one of the most generous men of his time in Hijaz. Sheikh Mufid writes about Imam (A.S.), "he had access to and acquaintance with all the branches of knowledge and intuitive learning. He led his life busy in the obedience of God. He was strong and balanced at the station of piety and rigidly honored his word, promises, and commitments. His piety, open heartedness, spiritual purity, and humanly conducts made all and sundry love him. And he trained them in Islamic ethics.
Ibn-e-Hajar, who is a prejudiced Sunni scholar, writes about the character of Imam (A.S.) "Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) had a clean, pure heart. His speech and talk was harmonies and in accordance with his practice. His conduct and dealing with people was humanly and Islamic. He was a great Gnostic and unmatched worshiper. He was so very ornamented and decorated with human qualities that I do not have the means and capacity to praise him." One of his slaves said about him, "Once I accompanied his graciousness to Mecca. When Imam (A.S.) sighted the house of God (Kaabah). He wept so much that he got feeble and nerveless I said to him, "Why do you weep so much?" He said, "Perhaps God may become kind to me because of these tears and tomorrow (on justice day) He may bless me with salvation. Then Imam stood for his prayers and lengthened the prostration. When he picked his head up, the place of prostration was wet with tears from his eyes."
Mohammad bin Mankadir, who was a silly pious looking person, says, "Because of this that Imam (A.S.) worked too hard I said to myself he is after the material and I must stop and admonish him. So one day I saw him exhausted and perspiring due to ample hard work in the hot scorching weather. I went near him, saluted him, and said, "Oh son of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), why are you so much after the wealth of the world? If death comes to you in such a condition what would you do then?" He said, "This is the best of my times because I work in it so that I do not become needy towards you people and others, and do not eat from the earnings of others. If God gives me death in this condition I will be much happy since I am busy in his prayers and obedience." I got informed about this point and knew that I was wrong. I apologized him, saying, "I wanted to admonish and advise you, but you admonished and informed me." Kulayni writes, "A group of the friends of Imam (A.S.) stated that one day we went to his house to offer him compliments. After salutation and enquiring after his health we found the Imam (A.S.) very sad, pensive and afflicted. When we asked about the reason of that sorrow. We came to know that the son of Imam (A.S.) was very much ill. We told ourselves if this son dies what a distress would Imam (A.S.) have to face? We bade farewell, and went back and on the next day returned back to enquire about the welfare of Imam. Fortunately, we saw the Imam (A.S.) in happy mood we told ourselves God has done a favor and cured the son and so Imam is happy. But then we learnt that the son had passed away. We enquired about the matter from him personally, as to why he was so troubled and pensive before the death but after it he was happy. Imam replied to us, "my son was ill and by virtue of human and paternal duty I was sad and uneasy and put in endeavor and efforts to get him cured and was asking God to get him cured. But since God deemed expedient that he dies and freed him off the pain and calamity, I submitted to His will and thanked God. We are agreed and contented upon His will and we love and like whatever he loves and wishes.
The Knowledge Status of Imam
Sheikh Tusi writes a man from among the Syrians visited Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) and said, "Since you are a man of knowledge and learning your assembly is fruitful, valuable and worthy for me and so I attend your teaching session but I have enmity with you and your lineage." Imam did not reply him. After a few days that man fell ill. Imam (A.S.) visited him along with his friends and sat by his bed, and enquired after his health. When the Syrian man saw this graciousness and magnanimity of the Imam he extremely repented about what he had said, and was ashamed. He did not know what response to give to the Imam (A.S.). Imam (A.S.) gave orders about his food, treatment to his family members and prayed for him and got up. Not very long had passed that he got cured and left the ailment bed. Next day, he made it a point to reach the assembly of Imam (A.S.) and expressed repentance over what he had said and asked for apologies and became one of the permanent and everlasting friends of Imam (A.S.)
Jabbir faces the Imam (A.S.)
The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) told one of his pious friends named Jabbir bin Abdullah, "Oh Jabbir! You will live and will see my son Mohammad Bin Ali Bin Al Hussain whose name in Torah (The Old Testament) is Baqir, convey my compliments (Salam) to him." The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) passed away and Jabbir remained alive for long times to come. One day, he visited the house of Imam Zain-ul-Abidin (A.S.) and came across a small child. He asked lmam Sajjad (A.S.), "Whose is this child?" He replied, "He is my son Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) who is the Imam of the Muslims next to myself." Jabbir got up and kissed the foot of Imam (A.S.) and said, "My life be sacrificed upon you, oh the son of Prophet (P.B.U.H.) accept the compliments (Salam) of your grandfather the Prophet of God (P.B.U.H.). He conveyed his compliments through me." Imam's (A.S.) eyes were filled up with tears and he said, "compliments and benediction be upon my grandfather the Prophet of God (P.B.U.H.) until the Sky and Earth are stable (firm) and upon you too, Oh Jabbir, that you conveyed his compliment to me."
The Training mode of Imam (A.S.)
Since the knowledge and wisdom of Imam (A.S.) like the other Imams originated from the revelation therefore, he never failed to give a response. His personality of knowledge and wisdom had so graciousness greatness grandeur and magnificence that in his assembly the scholars were like children before a teacher. Whenever Imam (A.S.) sat in the session of teaching he shed the drops of knowledge and wisdom upon the hearts of his students like a saturated cloud. Every one benefited from it according to his own capacity and capability. In the year 106 Hijrah Hasham (the well known poet) went to Mecca and a group of Syrians were accompanying him. After the Hajj ritual was over, he sat in a corner of Masjid-ul-Haram to relax. Suddenly, he sighted Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) sitting in a corner and people had surrounded him asking him questions about their problems and difficulties and listening to his response. Hasham became furious and inflamed and sent Nafey, one of the wise men, to ask questions from Imam (A.S.) and according to his idea enfeeble and debilitate him, and devalue him in the eyes of the people. The court scholar came forward, saluted and asked for his permission to make queries and interrogate him. Imam (A.S.) replied, "Do ask what ever you wish!" Nafeh asked him, "What was the length of the duration of period between Christ Essa (A.S.) and Mohammad (P.B.U.H.). Imam said, "In our opinion Five Hundred years." Nafeh asked, "The verse of the holy Qur'an which says "va-as-al" "you ask". Who was the one Prophet interrogated? Imam (A.S.) replied, "From the God's eternal table, wherein all the things were present."
Nafeh asked, "From when and how long God has been present?"
Imam (A.S.) said, "Woe to you, God is the creator of age. He is not a body and has not been born from anything so that he might need age and time."
Nafeh was ashamed and said, "By God, you are the wisest man out of the people of your age."
A man asked a question from Abdullah Ummer, he could not reply him so he said, "This child is Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) go to him and describe your problem whatever response he gives come and let me know too. That man went near him and enquired and got the correct answer. Then he came to Abdullah Ummer and reproduced the answer of the Imam (A.S.) before him. Abdullah Ummer replied, "These (men) are a family whom God has decorated with the ornament of knowledge and wisdom." The splendor and grandeur of the knowledge of Imam (A.S.) was so sublime and glittering that whosesoever there would be the talk about the Prophet's family. People said he is the sole heir of the knowledge and perfections of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.).
Imam's (A.S.) Conversation with a Christian Scholar
Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said, "one day myself and my father came out of the assembly of Hasham. We happened to pass by a place where a group of Christians had come to ask questions from their scholar. We too went there to see what was the affair. We saw an old man with gray hair and gray eyebrows sitting among them. We also sat among the aggregation. The followers of Jesus Christ were sitting before him like worthless children, and were asking him questions. The old man's eye caught the sight of my father Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) and he said, "Are you from among us or from among the followers of Mohammad (P.B.U.H.)." My father answered from among the followers of Mohammad (P.B.U.H.). He said, "Are you from among the scholars or the ignorant"? My father said, "I am not from among the ignorant." The old man said, "Shall I ask you question or you will ask me." My father said, "You question me." The aged man was surprised. He had a look upon my father and said, "Oh servant of God, let me know about the time which is neither day nor night."
My father replied, "Between the dawn and the sunrise."
He asked, "From which time is it?"
My father said, "From the times (hours) of the Paradise and the ailing ones gain their senses in this hour (time) and the pains become relieved and that one who had sleepless night goes to sleep at this time. The man said, "The people in paradise eat and drink but do not excrete anything is there any thing in the world similar to them?" My father said, "Yes the embryo which eats in the mother womb but nothing segregates from whatever it eats." The man said, "Let me know if there is anything in the world similar to your claim that the people in paradise eat and drink but nothing is lessened and shortened and that returns to its original shape." My father said, "Yes it is candle that if a hundred other candles are lit by it nothing gets lessened out of it." The Christian scholar got up from his place and said, "This man is wiser then me." When he knew that he was Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) he embraced Islam.
In the Assembly of Hasham
Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said, "One of the years Hasham bin Abdul Malik traveled to perform Hajj. On that year, I too along with my father went to perform Hajj. I, in a congregation, said, "Praise is for the God who created Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) for the guidance of the people and made us revered and honorable by his existence. We are the selected ones of the God's creations and His caliphs on earth. Fortunate is the one who follows us and unfortunate is the one who opposes and has enmity with us." The brother of Hasham who was present among the people and was regarded as one of his special spies, reported what he had heard to Hasham. Hasham did not interrupt (molest) us in Mecca but when he reached back Syria he wrote to his representative in Madina, to send my father and me to Syria. The governor of Madina sent us to Syria. When we reached the assembly of Hasham we saw that all the Commanders had gathered over there. Hasham himself was seated upon the throne of authority and all the Commanders were standing before him. They had placed an aim at a distant place and all of them were aiming and shooting (arrows) at it. When we arrived in the court, Hasham held my father in respect, honored him then he said, "come close and you also take part in shooting." My father said, "I have grown old, excuse me." Hasham sweared and took oath that he would not let my father go. Obliged, my father held the bow and took aim. The arrow struck in the center of the point (aimed at). Again, he aimed another arrow at it. The arrow struck into the first arrow and split it into two and then struck the aim. He took a third arrow and took aim. The arrow struck the second arrow split it into two, and sat firm on the second place. Similarly my father continued up till the nineth arrow. Hasham said, "That is all, Oh Abu Jaffar (A.S.) you are the most expert of the people who shoot. Hasham was smoldering and burning in the fire of rage and had repented upon his action. Thereby, he took the decision to kill my father. And to get himself out of the condition he started saying with a glib-tongue (eloquently) "The tribe of Qureish should boast of it over the Arab and Ajam that they have got a person like you." Hasham enquired, "From where did you learn this expertise and mastery?" My father replied, "God has bestowed upon us completely every knowledge and perfection, as His favor."
Hasham was greatly enraged and inflamed with my father's words and his face glowed red with anger. He hung his head down for a moment. Then he raised his head and said, "Are we and you not from the lineage of Abdul Manaf?" Was the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) not from Abdul Manaf so that God sent him for the patronage of the people? From where did you inherit this knowledge?" My father said, "we are a family of revelation and God has given us the specialties which he has not given to others. So that the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) told secrets to his son in law Imam Ali (A.S.), which he did not tell to the others. Similarly Imam Ali (A.S.) said in Kufa, "The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) opened a thousand doors of knowledge before me, so that from each of the doors a thousand other doors are opened."
Oh Hasham, it is we who have inherited that knowledge and wisdom no other persons. Hasham remained silent and ordered that we be sent back to Madina honorably.
Islamic Coins introduced by Imam's (A.S.) Order
In the first century Hijrah the paper industry was monopolized by the Romans and when the Christians of Egypt learned from the Romans how to manufacture paper and they produced it they following suit of the Romans, marked it (currency notes) with father-son and Rooh-ul-Qudus (Holy Spirit) which was the slogan of the Christians. When "Abdul Malik Marwan", who was an intelligent and clever man, saw the mark of the paper and its meanings, he was very annoyed as to why Egypt, which was a Muslim country, used this mark. He at once wrote to his functionary and delegates in Egypt "From now onwards you must write upon them the slogan of monotheism." The new papers with the monotheism mark upon it was circulated and reached the cities of Rome. Caesar the King of Rome got informed about it. He wrote still other letters to Abdul Malik warning and threatening him that if he did not evade that mark he would issue orders to produce coins with abusive language about the Prophet of Islam (P.B.U.H.) When those coins would be ready there would be no honor and dignity left over for him (Abdul Malik). Abdul Malik thought if this thing happened I would be the dirtiest of all the Muslim rulers who caused such a thing to happen." He immediately called a meeting and consulted with the officials and dignitaries of his country for many long hours, but to no result. One of those present said, "The way out of this difficulty and its solution is this that we ask the answer to this problem and riddle from Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.)." Abdul Malik liked his suggestion and at once ordered his governor in Madina to send Imam (A.S.) honorably and respectfully to Syria, and he himself detained the delegate of Caesar in Syria till such time Imam (A.S.) reached Syria to solve that problem.
When Imam reached Syria they reported the matter to him so that a way is sorted out for its solution. Imam (A.S.) said, "Caesar has frightened you he will actually not do it. God will not allow him to do this work. But the solution of it is this that you get the industrialist gathered and orders them to produce a coin with the chapter (Quranic chapter of Tawhid on one face and name of the Prophet [P.B.U.H.] on the other). In this way we will not need the Roman Coins any longer. Then he gave the explanation about the weight and size of the coin. Then he said, "Engrave the name of the city where the coin is made and the year of its production upon it."
Abdul Malik materialized the orders of the Imam (A.S.) and sent a circular to all the Islamic cities that from, now onwards all the business affair in the Islamic cities should take shape on the basis of the new coins, and the Roman Coins are invalid. Whosoever possesses them may change them for new Islamic coins. Then he informed the delegate of Caesar about what had been done and sent him back. Caesar was informed about the affair. The courtiers demanded from him to materialize his threat. Hut he replied, "This is a futile thing to do. Because, the roman coins are no more used in the Islamic cities." Imam by this amazing action put a constraint and checks upon the influence of imperialism and the plans of the imperialists of that day.
The Friends of Imam (A.S.)
Since Imam (A.S.) was living in an age where in the Marwani Caliphs (Bani Omaiyd) were busy with their own affairs and they were spending their time in a struggle against Bani Abbas, therefore, more chances and possibilities of the propagation of Islamic learning's got available for him. Imam (A.S.) started laying the foundations of educational and research assemblies and trained students of his school of thought, each one of whom was unmatched and incomparable.
A number of them consisted of:
1. Abban Bin Taghlib: Who had been present in the office and company of Imam Sajjad (A.S.), and was counted to be one of the important personalities of knowledge and learning and was an authority over the jurisprudence, exegesis, Hadith, and language. To the extent that Imam said "Oh Abban sit in the mosque of Madina and pronounce judgments to the people.
2. Zurara: This person had been present before Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) and Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and he had ample expertise in the fields of Hadith, Jurisprudence, and Shiite leanings. So that Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said about him "If Zurara and his companions were not there the effects of the Prophets (P.B.U.H.) would have finished (ceased to exist).
3. Kumait Asadi: He was an expert and capable poet and he was unparallel and unmatched regarding the language and literature and the statement of facts and criticizing the cruel and brutal rulers. He used to stand up to the defense of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.) by virtue of his language, which was in the mould of beautiful and attractive verses. Sometimes he was threatened to be slain by the usurper rulers. In the age of Bani Omaid it was very dangerous and perilous to state the effects and virtues of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.). But this freedom-loving poet had bought all the risks and dangers at the cost of his life, for the sake of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.). Kumait was the enamored and infatuated of Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.). One day, he recited a number of nice rhymes before the Imam (A.S.), so Imam (A.S.) turned his face towards Kaabah and said, "Oh God do bless Kumait."
4. Mohammad Bin Muslim: Who was titled as the "jurisprudent of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.)" was one of the true friends of Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) and Imam Sadiq (A.S.). He was one of those about whom Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said, "The knowledge and learning of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.) remained living and was established through him.
Martyrdom of Imam (A.S.)
Finally, Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) after years of troubles, grief's, labor, and service to the Islamic culture was poisoned and martyred by the order of Hasham on the 7th of Zil Hijja 114 Hijrah at the age of 57 years. His pure and sublime body was buried beside the graves of other Imams in the graveyard of Baqi.
Imam Brief Sayings
1. To lie is from the desolation and depravity of faith.
2. The faithful does not become coward, greedy and miser.
3. God is the friend of modest, tolerant and forbearing person.
4. The scholar whose existence is fruitful and useful his worth is more than seventy thousand silly, witless ascetics (worshipers).
5. God does not like the scurrilous.
6. Avoid languidness (extenuation) because it is the key to every indecency and ruins and spoils the religion and the world (worldly affairs) of man.
7. Whosoever commits excesses over the servants of God, will not be from our Shias.
8. Avoid envying and being jealous of each other keep away from selfishness (egotism), do not adopt cruelty, be vigilant and watchful about your prayers, be the friend of oppressed ones.
9. Whoever tries to perform the errands and works of the Muslims and eases their difficulties is like the Muslim martyr who might have martyred in the battle of Bader and Uhud.
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