Intellectual Accomplishments of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) - Part I
The knowledgeable status of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) had earned such fame that people used to visit him from far-off places. He had many discussions and debates with unbelievers, polytheists, apostates and heretics. If all these were to be collected they would constitute a voluminous book. We shall mention some of them in the following pages.
Debate With An Atheist
Juad Ibne Dirham, a leader of atheist sect had kept some mud and water in a glass bottle. After some days worms grew in it and he claimed to be their creator. One day he came to Imam (a.s) and also claimed thus. Imam (a.s) said, "If you are their creator, tell us how many of them are male and how many female?" He said, "I don't know." Imam said, "If you can't do that, command the worms going one way to crawl in the opposite direction." He said, "I cannot do it." Imam said, "All right, then tell us what is the weight of each of them?" He replied, "I do not know." Imam said, "When neither you have any knowledge about them, nor any control over them, then how can you be their creator?"
Question Of Abu Shakir Disani
Abu Shakir Disani who denied the existence of God told Hisham, a companion of the Imam, "There is a verse in Quran that is according to our belief and which goes against your faith." Hisham asked, "Which verse is that?" He replied,
And He it is Who is God in the heavens and God in the earth…( Surah Zukhruf 43:84)
This according to him clearly showed that there are different gods for the earth and the heavens. Since Hisham had not pondered on this verse, he remained silent. When he came to Medina, he mentioned it to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) who said, "If he says to you now, you ask him what his name is. He would tell you. Then ask him what his name is in Basra? He would mention the same name. At that time you tell him: Our God is also like that. He is God in the heavens and also God on the earth. He is God in the sea and on the land, in the plains and on the hill." Hisham did as bidden. Abu Shakir said, "It is not your reply, it has come loaded on the camels from Hijaz."
Another Debate With Abu Shakir
One day Abu Shakir came to the Imam and said, "Prove to me the existence of God." Imam (a.s) told him to be seated. At that time a boy passed by holding a hen's egg. Imam (a.s) called him, and taking the egg from him kept it on his palm. Then he told Abu Shakir, "See, it is such a strong fort that has no doors. On its outside is a hard skin and below it is a thin membrane, inside which flow two seas of gold and silver. But neither can the yellow mix with the white nor the white can merge with the yellow. Neither can a repairer enter it nor a destroyer comes out of it. No one can even know whether the newborn would be a male or a female. Then all of a sudden it cracks and a beautiful chick emerges from it. Can your reason agree that all this happened without a designer or a maker?" Hearing this Abu Shakir bowed down his head and said, "I repent for my beliefs today and accept the religion of Islam."
Debate With An Egyptian Atheist
One day an atheist from Egypt came to Imam (a.s) who asked his name. "Abdul Malik," replied he. Imam (a.s) asked what his agnomen was. "Abu Abdullah," he replied.
Imam: The kingdom whose slave you are, is it from the kingdom of the heavens or from the kingdoms of the earth?
Atheist: I have never reflected on it.
Imam: Have you ever gone below the earth's surface?
Imam: Do you know what is below it?
Atheist: I have no knowledge of it.
Imam: Have you ever ascended to the sky?
Imam: Do you know what exists there?
Imam: Have you visited east and west? Do you know what lies beyond the limits?
Imam: It is surprising that when you do not have any knowledge about the earth or the sky, the east or west, how can you deny the existence of God? How can an ignorant man make such a great claim? Just ponder upon it; the moon, the sun, the night and the day, which all move in a particular way, are they not helpless and captive in their orbits? If they had not been so, they would not have returned after passing away once. If they are not helpless, why is it not that sometimes there is night instead of day? Don't you ever reflect on the earth and the sky that why the sky does not crash on the earth? Why the earth does not sink below itself? Who has made them stable? One who has done this is our and their absolute powerful God." Hearing these words, he was astonished and at that very moment recited the dual testimony of Islamic faith and became a Muslim.
Debate With Christian Scholars
Once some Christians came to Imam (a.s) and said, "Prophet Musa, Isa and Muhammad are equal in rank, because each of them got one book and one Shariat (Divine Law). Imam (a.s) said, Prophet Muhammad was higher to them in rank due to the knowledge and superiority Allah had given him exclusively. The Christians asked this to be proved by a verse of Quran. Imam (a.s) said, "It is mentioned regarding Prophet Musa: And We ordained for him in the tablets admonition of every kind and clear explanation of all things; (Surah Araaf 7:145)
And regarding Isa (a.s) He says,
I have come to you indeed with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in; (Surah Zukhruf 43:63)
Regarding the Messenger of Allah (S), it says,
… and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything… (Surah Nahl 16:89)
Queries Of A Mutazalite And The Imam’s Replies
Umar bin Ubaid Mutazali, who was then the Imam of Mutazalite sect came to Imam (a.s) one day and recited the following verse of the Quran: And those who shun the great sins and indecencies… (Surah Shuara 42:37)
Then he (Amr Ibne Ubaid) paused.
"Why have you become silent?" asked the Imam (a.s),
"I would like you to derive the Greater Sins from the Holy Quran." he replied.
The Imam said, "O Amr, the Greatest of the Greater Sins is Shirk (to attribute partners) with Allah. The Almighty Allah says,
Certainly whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the Garden (Paradise)… (Surah Maidah 5:72)
2) After this, is "to despair from the Mercy of Allah." As the Almighty Allah says,
Surely none despairs of Allah's mercy except the unbelieving people... (Surah Yusuf 12:87)
3) Then, "not fearing the retribution of Allah." The High and the Mighty Allah remarks,
But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish. (Surah Araaf 7:99)
4) One of the Greater Sins is to disobey ones parents because the Glorified Allah has said,
And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient. (Surah Maryam 19:14)
Here the disobedience of the parents is considered a form of insolence or transgression.
5) To kill a believer is prohibited by Allah. Because Allah (A.J.) has informed,
And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His Wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement. (Surah Nisa 4:93)
6) To slander a believing man or a woman of adultery (or sodomy) is a Greater sin as proved by this statement of Allah: Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement. (Surah Nur 24:23)
7) The usurpation of an orphan's property is a Greater sin, as is clear from the following verse: (As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire. (Surah Nisa 4:10)
8) It is a Greater sin to retreat from Jihad (Holy war) as the Divine verse says: And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company- then he, indeed becomes deserving of Allah's wrath, and his abode is Hell; and an evil destination shall it be. (Surah Anfal 8:16)
9) One of the Greater Sins is to take usury. Allah, the Almighty informs: One who swallows down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. This is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. (Surah Baqarah 2:275)
10) And magic is a Greater sin. Thus Allah (A.J.) says,
And certainly they know that he who bought it (the magic) should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls; had they but known this. (Surah Baqarah 2:102)
11) Among the Greater Sins is Adultery (fornication). Allah says in the Holy Quran,
And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay a soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication. And he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement. (Surah Furqan 25:68-69)
12) One of the Greater Sins is taking a false oath. Allah says regarding it: (As for) those who take a small price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-Surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the day of resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement. (Surah Aale Imran 3:76)
13) Among the sins, which are specifically graded, as Greater is a sin of "betrayal of trust", or to act unfaithfully. Allah the Greatest has informed thus: And it is not attributable that he should act unfaithfully; and he who acts unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the day of resurrection; then shall every soul be paid back fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is Hell; and it is an evil destination. (Surah Aale Imran 3:161-162)
14) Failure to pay the Zakat is a Greater sin. Allah says regarding it: And (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's ways, announce to them a painful chastisement. ( Surah Tawbah 9:34)
15) To bear a false witness is also a Greater sin. Allah says,
…and avoid false words. (Surah Hajj 22:30)
16) Do not conceal evidence, as it is a Greater sin. Allah says: …and do not conceal testimony and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do. (Surah Baqarah 2:283)
17) Drinking of wine is a Greater sin. As it is prohibited by Allah in the following verse of the Holy Quran: They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. (Surah Baqarah 2:219)
18) To willfully avoid the prayers is a Greater sin.
19) The failure to perform any obligatory religious act is a Greater sin. The Holy Prophet (S) says:
One who willfully avoids the prayers is away from the protection of Allah and His Messenger.
20) Breaking an oath is also a Greater sin. Allah has stated: Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut as under what Allah has ordered to be joined, (that is mutual relationships) and make mischief in the land; these it is that are the losers. (Surah Baqarah 2:27)
21) To break ties with the relatives is one of the Greater Sins. In the Quranic verse quoted below, Allah says, and cut asunder what Allah has ordained…(Surah Raad 13:25)
When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) concluded his tradition the narrator, Amr Ibne Ubaid rose up and while going out stopped and said, "Certainly, one who does not follow the guidance of the Imams (a.s) and gives his own opinion is doomed."
Share this article