The Birth and Upbringing of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.)
- :Al-Balagh Foundation
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is the son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir bin Ali al-Sajjad bin Hussein (a.s.) bin Ali Abi-Talib (a.s.). Thee Imam is a descendent of Fatimah al-Zahra the daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) and Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, through Imam Hussein, the martyred grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).
The mother of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is Fatimah 1 , the daughter of al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi-Bakr. That is why Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Abu-Bakr begot me twice."
As most authentic books insist, he was born in the city of Madinah, on the 17th day of the lunar month Rabi'ul Awwal 2, in the year 83 A. H, during the rule of the Umayyad caliph, Abdul-Malik bin Marwan.
Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad (a.s.) was born and brought up under the care of his father, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), and his grandfather Imam Ali bin Hussein (Zain al-Abideen) (a.s.). From both men he learned the sciences of religion and the teachings of the Islam.
After the martyrdom of Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.), Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) was the Imam of Muslims. Before his martyrdom, he passed the Imamate to Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.). He became the authority of jurisprudents, scholars and preachers.
He graduated hundreds of scholars versed in Islamic sciences and Prophetic traditions. He made the mosque of Madinah a university to spread Islamic ideology. Scholars, and preachers gave their testimonies in acknowledgement of his great standing and abundant knowledge.
On the authority of Ata', a well-known scholar from the second generation, Sibt bin al-Jawzi says in his book Tadhkirat al-Khawas (Admonishing Prominent people):
"Never have I seen scholars less knowledgeable in the presence of a man like Abu-Ja'far al-Sadiq ...". 3
Ibn Sa'd says:
"He was trustworthy, knowledgeable and the communicator of a plethora of traditions". 4
If we understood the status of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), under whose care Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was brought up and from whom he learned the teachings of Islam, and if we understand, through our study of the lives of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), that Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), was brought up and taught Islamic sciences by his father, Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.), that Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.) was nurtured by his father, Imam Hussein (a.s.), and that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was brought up and taught Islamic sciences by his father, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), and that Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib was brought up and taught by the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), we could see a greater meaning in his saying:
"I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate. Whoever seeks knowledge, let him enter through the gate." 5
Imam Ali (a.s.) is also praised by A'ishah, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), with these words:
"... He is certainly the most well-versed man in the Prophetic Sunnah" (reported by Abu-Umar)." 6
If we could understand the transfer of knowledge from one Imam to the next, we would realize knowledge, one from the other, from the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), and that their family life was framed with the same abundant knowledge, deep faith and morals. This understanding would lead us to the following facts:
A. The authenticity of the traditions, beliefs, teachings, Qur'anic exegesis, philosophy, etc., which the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) had conveyed to the people.
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) explained this truth in these words:
"I heard the traditions I communicate to you from my father. My father heard them from my grandfather. My grandfather heard them from his father. His father heard them from Ali bin 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." 7
B. Their lives, a chain of connected, interacted links, with no gap in between or a foreign factor piercing it, are directly tied up with the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).Thus, their lives were, in fact, a school and a vivid experience in which Islam was personified, its teachings implemented, and its principles defended. That all adds up to the authenticity of the source they took their knowledge from and the originality of the thought of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
Understand all this, we would come closer to the atmosphere, environment, and the school in which Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) studied. We would know beyond doubt that his life, the services he rendered to the Muslims, and the knowledge he imparted, including hadith, exegesis, and Islamic beliefs, was faithfully and objectively handed down from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).
This would explain to us the great standing of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), his ascension to Imamate after his father Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), and his determination to take up that heavy burden throughout his blessed life.
1. She was also called Qaribah, and nicknamed Umm-Farwah.
2. It is also said that he was born in the month of Rahab, in the year 80 A.H.
3. Sirat al-A'immah al-Ithnay Ashar (Lives of the Twelve Imams), Hashim Ma'roof al-Hassani, vol. 2, p.198, 1st ed.
4. Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra (Great Classes of Men), vol. 5, p.324.
5. Mustadrask al-Sahihain (The Book that Collected the Traditions left out by the two Authentic Books of Traditions), al-Hakim, vol. 3, p.126. Usd al-Ghabah (Lions of the Jungle), vol. 4, p.22. Al-Jami'al. Saghir (The small collection - Book of Traditions), al-Suyooti, vol.l, p.93, the Yamani edition, or any other edition.
6. Dhakhair al-Uqbah fi Manaqib Dhawi al-Qurba (Traasuras of the Hereafter about the Virtues of the Kinsfolk), Al-Hafidh Muhibul-Deen al-Tabari, p.78, 1967 ed
7. A'yah al-Shi'ah (chiefs of Shi'ites), Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-Amili, vol. l, p.664, Last ed.
Adapted from the book: "Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.)"
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