Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH)
Imam Ja’far Ibn Muḥammad Al-Ṣadiq (Arabic: جعفر بن محمد الصادق) (PBUH) was a descendant of Imam Ali (PBUH) from his father’s side and a descendant of Lady Fatimah (PBUH) from his mother’s side and was himself a prominent Muslim jurist. He is revered as an imam by the adherents of Shia and as a renowned Islamic scholar and personality by Sunni Muslims. The Shia Muslims consider him to be the Sixth Imam or leader and spiritual successor to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was celebrated among his brothers and peers and stood out among them for his great personal merits. He is highly respected by both Sunni and Shia Muslims for his great Islamic scholarship, pious character, and academic contributions.
Shia Islamic “Fiq’h”, “Ja’fari” jurisprudence is named after him. The books on Ja’fari jurisprudence were later written by Muhammad Ibn Ya’qub Al-Kulayni (864- 941), Ibn Babawayh (923-991), and Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi (1201-1274).
He was a polymath: an astronomer, imam, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, writer, philosopher, physician, physicist and scientist. He is also reported to be the teacher of the famous chemist, Jabir Ibn Hayyan (Geber).
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) was born in Medina on 24 April 702 AD (17 Rabi’ al-Awwal, 83AH), to Imam Baqir (PBUH) and Umm Farwah (daughter of Al-Qasim son of Muhammad, whose biological father was Abu Bakr, but was adopted and raised by the family of Imam Ali (PBUH))
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq has three titles; they are Al-Sadiq, Al-Fadil, and Al-Tahir
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was 34 years old when his father was poisoned, upon which, according to Shia tradition, he inherited the position of Imam.
As a child, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) studied under his grandfather, Imam Sajjad (PBUH). After his grandfather’s martyrdom, he studied under and accompanied his father, Imam Baqir (PBUH), until Imam Baqir martyred.
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) became well versed in Islamic sciences, including Quran and Hadith. In addition to his knowledge of Islamic sciences, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was also an adept in natural sciences, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, anatomy, alchemy and other subjects.
The foremost Islamic alchemist, Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber, was Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq’s most prominent student. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was known for his liberal views on learning, and was keen to have discourse with Scholars of other views. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (PBUH) himself, published several books, most notably Islamic Law: According to Ja`fari School of Jurisprudence
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) is also cited in a wide range of historical sources, including Al-Tabari, Al-Yaqubi and Al-Masudi. Al-Dhahabi recognizes his contribution to Sunni tradition and Isma’ili scholars such as Qadi Al-Nu’man recorded his traditions in their work.
Marriage and offspring
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq married Fatimah bint Hassan, a descendant of Imam Hassan (PBUH), with whom he had sons, Isma’il Ibn Jafar (the Ismaili Imām-designate) and Abdullah al-Aftah.
Following his wife’s death, Imam Sadiq purchased a slave named Hamidah Khatoun (Arabic: حميدة خاتون), freed her, trained her as an Islamic scholar, and then married her. She bore Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH) (the seventh Shia Imam) and Muhammad al-Dibaj and was revered by the Shia, especially by women, for her wisdom. She was known as Hamidah the Pure. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH) used to send women to learn the tenets of Islam from her, and used to remark about her, “Hamidah is pure from every impurity like the ingot of pure gold.”
Under the Umayyad rulers
Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq lived in violent times. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) was considered by many Shia to be the sixth Shia imam, however, the Shias were considered heretics and rebels by the Umayyad caliphs. Many of Imam Sadiq’s relatives had died at the hands of the Umayyad. Many of his kinsmen, including his uncle, were killed, and others were punished by the Umayyad caliph. There were other rebellions during these last years of the Umayyad, before the Abbasids succeeded in grasping the caliphate and establishing the Abbasid dynasty in 750 CE, when Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH) was 48 years old.
Imam Baqir (PBUH) and his son, Imam Sadiq (PBUH), explicitly rejected the idea of armed rebellion. Many rebel factions tried to convince Imam Sadiq to support their claims. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) evaded their requests without explicitly advancing his own claims. Sadiq (PBUH) declared that even though he, as the designated Imam, was the true leader of the Ummah (Muslims), he would not press his claim to the caliphate. He is said to burned their letters (letters promising him the caliphate) commenting, “This man is not from me and cannot give me what is in the province of Allah“. Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq’s prudent silence on his true views is said to have established “Taqiya” as a Shia doctrine. Taqiya says that it is acceptable to hide one’s true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger.
Under the Abbasid rulers
The new Abbasid rulers, who had risen to power on the basis of their claim to descent from Prophet Muhammad’s uncle ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, were extremely suspicious of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), whom many considered to have a better claim to the caliphate. Many followers of Zayd Ibn Ali were ready to listen to Imam Sadiq after being prosecuted ruthlessly by the Abbasids. Imam Sadiq was watched closely and, occasionally, imprisoned to cut his ties with his followers, he endured the persecution patiently and continued his study and writing wherever he found himself.
The downfall of the Umayyad and the rise of the ‘Abbasids constituted the two principal plots in the drama of Islamic history. This was a most chaotic and revolutionary period when the religious morals of Islam had gone down and the teachings of the Holy Prophet were being neglected, and a state of anarchy was rampant. It was amidst such deadly gloom that the virtuous personage of Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq stood like a beacon of light shedding its luster to illuminate the ocean of sinful darkness around. The world got inclined towards his virtuous and admirable personality. Abu Salamah al-Khallal also offered him the throne of the caliphate. But the Imam keeping up the characteristic tradition of his ancestors flatly declined to accept it, and preferred to content himself with his devotional pursuits and service to Islam. On account of his many debates with the priests of rival orders like Atheists, Christians, Jews, etc.
The versatile genius of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH) in all branches of knowledge was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world, which attracted students from far-off places towards him till the strength of his disciples had reached four thousand. The scholars and experts in Divine Law have quoted many Hadith from Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH). His disciples compiled hundred of books on various branches of science and arts. Other than “Fiq’h” (Islamic jurisprudence), Hadith, tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Qur’an), etc. the Holy Imam also imparted mathematics and chemistry to some of his disciples. Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber), a famous scholar of mathematics, was one of the Imam’s disciples who benefited from the Imam’s knowledge and guidance and was able to write four hundred books on different subjects.
It is an undeniable historical truth that all the great scholars of Islam were indebted for their learning to the very presence of the Ahl Al-Bayt who were the fountain of knowledge and learning for all. Allamah Ash-shibli writes in his book Siratu’n- Nu’man: “Abu Hanifah remained for a considerable period in the attendance of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, acquiring from him a great deal of precious research on Fiq’h and Hadith. Both the sects – Shia and Sunni – believe that the source of Abu Hanifah’s knowledge was mostly derived from his association with Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq.” The Imam devoted his whole life to the cause of religious preaching and propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet and never strove for power. Because of his great knowledge and fine teaching, the people gathered around him, giving devotion and respect that was his due. This excited the envy of the ‘Abbasid ruler al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi who fearing the popularity of the Imam, decided to do away with him.
Scholars believed to have learned extensively from Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (PBUH):
Jābir ibn Hayyān : known in Europe as Geber, a great alchemist.
Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) : his son, the seventh Shia Imam
Isma’il Ibn Jafar : his son, the sixth Ismaili Imam according to the Ismailis.
Ali al-Uraidhi Ibn Ja’far al-Sadiq: his youngest son.
Mufadhal Ibn Amr : his Gate keeper and a prominent student.
Abū Ḥanīfa : founder of Sunni Hanafi school of thought.
Malik ibn Anas : founder of the Sunni Maliki school of thought.
On 25th Shawwal 148 AH, the governor of Medina by the order of al-Mansur, got the Imam martyred through poison. The funeral prayer was conducted by his son Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), the Seventh Imam, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery of Jannat Al-Baqi.
Imam Sadiq, peace Be Upon Him, said:
“One who has these five characteristics is the choicest of men: one who feels joyous when he does something good; one who repents when he does something bad; one who is grateful when he receives something from Allah; one who patiently endures Allah’s trials; one who forgives when he is done some injustice or wrong.
closer to Allah: forgiving one who has wronged him; being generous to one who had deprived him; being kind to a kinsman who has not observed his rights of kinship.”
“The true believer does not transgress the limits of fairness in a fit of anger; he does not do anything unjustifiable for the sake of favor to some; neither does he take more than his due share, though he may have the power.”