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Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and the Collapse of the Umayyad State (132 AH)

The second momentous event which took place du ring the Imamate of Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) was the fall of the Umayyads and the establishment of the Abbasid rule. The revolution against the Umayyads raised under the slogan of supporting Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and furthering their cause. But, the Abbasids were actually working to monopolize the caliphate. First, they called for the leadership of Ibrahim bin Muhammad al-Abbasi. Before his assassination, he had called the people to give their pledge of allegiance to his brother, Abul-Abbas Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Abbasi. When Abu-Salamah al-Khallal heard of the assassination of Ibrahim and the emergence of Abul-Abbas as the new leader, he feared the turn of events and wrote a letter in two copies. The first copy he sent to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and the second to Abdullah bin al-Hassan,' 22 one of the well-known chiefs and leading men among the Alawites. In his letter to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) he urged him to go to Kufah to receive the pledge of allegiance from the people. He also ordered the messenger to demand clear answer from Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.). If the answer was positive, he should seek no other man, because he was the Imam and the qualified man for leadership. Otherwise, he (the messenger) should go to Abdullah bin al-Hassan. The messenger took the letter and rushed to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.). He explained his mission to him. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said nothing to him, but took the letter and burned it in front of the messenger. "Tell your master of what you have seen," said the Imam. Then he recited a line of poetry quoted from al-Kumayt bin Zaid al-Asadi:

"O you who builds a fire, its light benefits other than you! O you who gathers firewood, you would only till it with someone else's rope" 23

The messenger left him and went to see Abdullah bin al-Hassan. He gave the copy of the letter to him. Abdullah was greatly pleased by it. But he could not make up his mind. He was unable to make such a critical decision without the Imam (a.s.). He thought that the Imam (a.s.) would welcome and approve of the offer. Much to his disappointment, the Imam (a.s.) told him about the letter he had received and how he had set it on fire. He forbade Abdullah to accept the offer and warned him of the grave consequences.

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) knew the turn of events and had no doubt about what would follow. His father al-Baqir (a.s.), had told him, depending on the traditions reports from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), all about it. It is reported that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) once said to the members of his family:

"We are a family for whom Allah preferred the hereafter over this life. Indeed the members of my family shall certainly be tribulated, made homeless and dismissed out of their homeland. That shall go on until some people come from the East raising black standards. They shall ask the right but shall be denied it. They shall fight helped by others, and shall be given what they seek They shall not accept it until they give it (the leadership) over to a man from my family who shall fill the earth with justice after being filled with injustice. Whoever is lucky to live at that time. Let him join them even if it is hard for him to do so, as hard as crawling over a snowy land." 24

Abdullah bin al-Hassan did not want to listen to Imam al-Sadiq's (a.s.) advice, "The people want my son, Muhammad, to be their leader as he is the Mahdi of this ummah," Abdullah protested, "'By Allah," replied the Imam (a.s.),"he is not the Mahdi of this ummah. And if he draws his sword he will be surely killed." Abdullah, by this time, was furious, "By Allah," he said angrily "It is the envy that makes you deny this. "'The Imam (a.s.) confirmed his good will by saying," I By Allah. I am only offering you m. y advice ..." 25

Imam al-Sadiq's words came true. Abul-Abbas al-Saffah was given the pledge of allegiance even before the messenger had returned to Abu-Salamah al-Khallal.

The Abbasids seized power and trampled on the promises they had given to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the people. After alluring the people, by pretending to be loyal to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), fighting to restore their right to the caliphate, they showed their true colours. The Alawites, as well as other people, suffered terribly at the hands of the Abbasids. The first Abbasid ealiph, Abul-Abbas, earned the niekname "'al-Saffah" (bloodshedder) because of the countless number of people he had put to the sword. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) bore the burnt of Abbasid's brutalities.

As a precautionary measure Abul-Abbas al-Saffah sent for Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and forced him to live in al-Hirah under his watchful eye. That was only for a short time. The Imam (a.s.) returned to Madinah and resumed his educational activities.

After the ascension to power of Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor, his fears of the Imam (a.s.) deepened, his envy intensified due to the fact that the Imam (a.s.) was held in high esteem by the people. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was known everywhere across the Islamic homeland, and his name, as a religious and political leader, eclipsed all the known intellectuals and politicians of the time. Such considerations made Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor call Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) several times to Iraq to interro him, so as to know if the Imam (a.s.) was leading an anti-Abbasid underground organization. It was an undeniable fact that the ummah was rallying around the Imam. Imam's strong character and high qualifications were widely acknowledged. But, above all, al-Mansoor knew that the Alawites were working to put an end to the Abbasid hegemony, and restore the leadership of the ummah toAhlul-Bait (a.s.).

Many times Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor tried to woo Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) to his side but to no avail. The Imam (a.s.) actually boycotted the Abbaside rule, knowing that his attitude represented the right legal one that should be adopted by the people, and exposed the regime's deviation. As a result the image of the authorities gradually tarnished in the minds of the people, the "'legitimacy" of the rule was stripped, and the way paved for its overthrow.

Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor wrote a letter to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) asking his eloseness. He wrote: "Why do you not visit us as others do?". In response, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) wrote back: "We have nothing for which we may fear you, nor do you have anything to do with the hereafter for which we may seek your companionship. You have not acquired a new favour for which we should congratulate you, nor a tribulation has befallen you so that we should console you"

"Keep us company so as to offer us your advice," wrote al-Mansoor insisting. ""The one who seeks this life would not counsel you," replied al-Sadiq (a.s.).'" And the one who desires the hereafter would not associate with you." 26

Abu-Ja'far al-Mansoor was boiling with anger, envying Imam's social position and uprightness. Al-Mansoor was even helplessly hesitant as what attitude he should to have once said,"' This is the sorrow that stocks in the throats of the caliphs. He cannot be exiled, and it is haram to kill him. If I and him were not of the same tree, whose roots were good, branches high, fruits delicious, and whose offspring were blessed and hallowed in the divine books, I would have dealt with him cruelly, for his harsh criticism, and his bad judgements of us." 27

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22. It is said also that he wrote a letter to Amru al-Ashraf an Alawite chief.

23. Murooj al-Dhahab, al-Mas'oodi, vol. 3, pp. 254- 255.

24. Sunan Ibn Majah (lbn Majah's Book of Traditions), vol. 2., p.1366.

25. Murooj al-Thahab, al-Mas'oodi vol. 3, pp. 254-255.

26. Al-Imam al-Sadiq, Muhammad Abu-Zahra, p.139.

27. Ibid, p.138.

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