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The Social Status of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.)

No other man had won the same great and high position that Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) had won during that time.

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) had a special and unique status in the eyes of the people at the time. The common people looked at him as a descendant of the Apostle of Allah (a.s.), chief of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), and the symbol of the opposition of the injustice and tyranny of the Umayyad and Abbasids. These common people believed that it was an obligation for every Muslim, loyal to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), to love him and be faithful to him.

The men of knowledge and piety saw in Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.), a leader, scholar and an unmatched educator. The politicians and rulers knew full well the Imam, particularly at the time of the Abbasid revolt against the Umayyads. He was, in their sight, a great social personality, an effective political force, and a leading political magnet which could not be ignored. These are facts no one can deny or undermine.

During the life of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), at the closing years of the Umayyad rule, the ruler got more tough and unjust. People's rage rose. It was only natural, as history asserts, that Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) was at the fore, being the vanguard, and the motto on the banners of the masses in every uprising against the Umayyads and Abbasids. That is why the anti-Umayyad action began in the name of Ahlul-Bait (a.s). The leaders of the opposition announced that they were calling for the restoration of the caliphate and Imamate to their legitimate people, the members of the pure Prophetic household. They called for the restitution of the caliphate to the qualified and competent descendants of Fatimah, the daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w). But, while the struggle was on, and the tensions were mounting between the two parties, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) distanced himself from the battlefield. He withdrew from open confrontation because he knew in advance, the final outcome. The slogans were false, the call was unreal, and Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) would fall victim to them. Certain as he was of the real intentions of the Abbasids. He advised the Alawites not to follow the raised slogans rashly.

Events turned out exactly as he had said. What he had been warning the Alawites of took place. Though he was refraining from taking part in the struggle, the concerned people kept themselves close to him. The people were all waiting for him to take part. The leaders of the Abbasids couldn't ignore him or overlook his social position. That is why they took him into consideration while planning their strategy.

Abu-Salamah al-Khallal, a key leader of the revolt against the Umayyads, sent a messenger to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) offering him his pledge of allegiance. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) burned his letter and turned down his offer. Al-Khallah tried many times to offer his loyalty to the Imam to no avail. The Alawites offered him the caliphate and kept consulting with him over it, but resisted all those temptations in spite of the Alawites' persistence. Naturally, the concern the people showed to the Imam (a.s.) emphasized his great political stature and the prominent social role he played.

Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, the Abbasid caliph, was an avowed enemy of the Imam (a.s.). He maltreated him, sent for him many times and accused him of acting against the Abbasids and conducting a covert conspiracy against him. In spite of all that, this caliph could but admit the great status of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.). In his response to a letter sent by the Alawite revolutionary, Dhil-Nafs al-Zakiyyah Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib - in which he explained his outstanding merits which made him outrank al-Mansoor as more qualified to be the caliph than him due to his closeness to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and as a descendant of his daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra', al-Mansoor said:

"...the best sons of your father, and those with outstanding merits are certainly the sons of the bondsmaids. After the demise of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) nobody better than Ali bin al-Hussein was born in your family. He was the child of a bondsmaid. And certainty he is better than your grandfather, Hassan bin Hussein. 8 After him you had nobody like Muhammad bin Ali (Imam al-Baqir) whose grandmother was a bondsmaid. He is surely better than your father.

Nor had you anybody like his son, Ja'far (Imam al-Sadiq) whose grandmother is a bondsmaid. He is better than you ..." 9 Isma'il bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Abbas is reported to have said:

"One day I called on Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor. Tears were coursing down his beard. He said to me: 'Have you heard of what happened to your family?' 'And what is that, O commander of the faithful, I queried? Their chief, the scholar and the best of the remaining pious among them has passed away. And who is that, commander of the faithful' I queried?'. 'Ja'far bin Muhammad, he said." 10

And so we understand from history documents how great the political and social position of the Imam was. He stood on the top of the social hierarchy and was the central force and the magnet of his era.

8. This text is wrong. It should be written: Hassan bin the Prophet (s.a.w.). Imam Hussein had no son with the name of Hassan.

9- Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (The complete Accounts of History), Ibn al-Atheer, vol. 5, p.539, 1965 ed.

10. Tarikh ah-Ya'qoobi (History of al-Ya'qoobi), Ahmed bin Abi-Ya'qoob bin Ja'far bin Wahab, vol. 3, p.119, 1394 A.H

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

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