7th Imam- Musa Kadhim (PBUH) – Shia Muslim

Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH)

Imam Musa Ibn Ja‘far Al-Kadhim (Arabic: موسى بن جعفر الكاظم‎), also called Abul Hassan, Abu Abd Allah, and Abu Ibrahim is known for his nickname Al-Kadhim (the forbearing), Generosity was synonymous with his name and no beggar ever returned from his door empty handed. Even after his martyrdom, he continued to be obliging and was generous to his devotees who came to his holy tomb with prayers and behests which were invariably granted by Allah. Thus, one of his additional titles is also “Bab Al-Hawaij” (the door to fulfilling needs).he is the seventh Shia Imam after his father Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH). He is regarded by Sunnis as a renowned scholar and was contemporary with the Abbasid caliphs, Al-Mansur, Al-Hadi, Al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. He lived in very difficult times, in hiding, until he finally martyred in Baghdad in the Sindi Ibn Shahak prison through poisoning. Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), the eighth Imam, and Lady Fatimah Masumah (PBUH) were among his children.


Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH) was born during the struggle between the Umayyad and the Abbasids, and had only four years when As-Saffah the first Abbasid Caliph came to the throne. His mother, Lady Hamidah, was originally a slave who was bought by his father, Imam Sadigh (PBUH), and was learnt and trained by him. With six brothers and nine sisters Musa (PBUH) grew up in a large family. Ismail, his oldest brother died at a young age and Musa was chosen by Divine providence to succeed his father as the Imam. He passed twenty years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his holy father. His inherent genius and gifted virtues combined with the enlightened guidance and education from the Holy Imam Sadiq (PBUH), showed in the manifestation of his future personality. He was fully versed with the Divine Knowledge even in his childhood. Muhammad Baqir Majlisi relates that once Abu Hanifa happened to call upon the house of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) for some religious question. While he was waiting at the Imam’s door to get permission to enter, his son Musa who was then five years old came across him. When Abu Hanifa knew he was Imam sadiq’s son, asked him about the question he had prepared for Imam Sadiq (PBUH), he said: ” Boy, from whom does disobedience (issue)? Does it issue from Allah or from the servant?” Musa answered him: “Either it issues from Allah and not from the servant at all, so Allah does not punish the servant for what he does not do; or it issues from the servant and Allah, and Allah is a stronger partner. Therefore, the stronger partner has no right to punish the weak for a sin in which they are equal; or it issues form the servant and not from Allah. So If He wills to pardon (him), (He will pardon him), and If He wills to punish (him), (He will punish him); and Allah is He whose help is sought.” It said that, upon hearing this answer, Abu Hanifa got up to return home saying that the answer was good enough for him.


The history of the Shia Imams generally demonstrates their constant struggle against oppression, which sometimes included practicing Taqiya (it is acceptable to hide one’s true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger). Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the despotic ‘Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel administration. As for Imam al-Kadhim, when his father, the sixth Imam, was poisoned, Mansur further wanted to put an end to the whole question of imamate so he wrote to the governor of Medina commanding him to go to the house of the deceased Imam on the pretext of expressing condolences to the family, and to ask for the Imam’s testament and read it. Whoever was chosen by the Imam as his successor should be beheaded. Reading the testament, however, the governor of Medina saw that the Imam had chosen four people rather than one: the caliph himself, the governor of Medina, Abdullah al-Aftah (the Imam’s older son), and Musa Kadhim, his younger son. Accordingly the plot of Mansur failed. Nevertheless, unlike his father who lived in a favorable climate in which he was able to teach openly in Medina, Imam Musa al-kadhim (PBUH) lived with severe restriction placed upon him by such Abbasid caliphs as al-Mansur and Harun al-Rashid. The period of his Imamate continued for thirty-five years.

After the martyrdom of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), the sixth Imam, the majority of Shia followed his son Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH) while another group, followed Isma’il, the older son of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), who had died while his father was still alive. This latter group separated afterwards from the majority of Shia and became known as Ismailis. Others accepted as Imam either Abdullah al-Aftah or Muhammad, both sons of the Imam Sadiq (PBUH). Finally, another party stopped with the sixth Imam himself and considered him as the last Imam. After the martyrdom of Imam Musa al-Kazim (PBUH), Shia Muslims followed his son, Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), while some stopped with the seventh Imam and became known as the Waqifiyah. Just real Shia Muslims also consider from the eighth Imam to the twelfth Imam, who is the last one and the promised, Mahdi (PBUH).


Harun al-Rashid, the opponent of the Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH), has admitted that Imam Kadhim had talents and remarkable deeds, and that he was more entitled to the Caliphate than other than him. He declared that when his son al-Ma’mun asked him about the reason why he admired and magnified him, said to him: “My little son, this is the Imam of the people, the Proof of Allah’s mercy to His creation and His caliph among His servants. I am outwardly the Imam of the masses by force and through oppression, while Musa Ibn Ja’far is the Imam in truth. And surely he, by Allah, is more worthy of being the successor of the Messenger of Allah as the caliph than I am and anyone else among all the people. And by Allah, if you yourself attempt to take such caliphate from me, I shall take it away from you even if that means gouging your eyes, for power is blind.” He has added: “O my little son, this is the inheritor of the knowledge of the Prophets; this is Musa Ibn Ja’far. If you desire sound knowledge, you will find it with this.”

Hisham Ibn Salim, a Shia master related about how he and his companions resorted to Imam Musa Kadhim (PBUH) after the martyrdom of his father, he said:

“I (i.e. Hisham Ibn Salim) and Muhammed Ibn Nu’man (known as) Sahib al-Taq were in Medina after the martyrdom of Imam Sadiq (PBUH). The people had agreed that Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far was the leader of the affair and the one who would undertake the office of the Imamate after his father. My companions and I came in to him. When we sat down, we asked him the following questions:

– How much poor-tax (zakat) should be paid on two hundred dirhams?

– Five dirhams.

– How much on a hundred dirhams?

– Two and a half dirhams.

They were astonished at this religious decision that has no relationship with the Islamic Law. That is because the minimum amount of dirhams (Arabic currency) is two hundred dirhams; and there is nothing on that which is less than it. Hisham sneered at this religious verdict that has no concept:

– By Allah, you are declaring the doctrine of the Murji’ah.

– By Allah, I do not know the doctrine of the Murji’ah.

Hisham and Muhammed left him while they could not see the way out of pain and sadness, for they did not come to know the Imam who would undertake the office of the Imamate after Abu Abd Allah (Imam Sadiq). Then Hisham said: “(Shall I go) to the Murji’ites, the Qadarities, the Mu’tazilites, to the Zaydites, to the Kharijites?” While Hisham and Muhammed were roaming in a current of suspicions and thoughts and were reflecting on a doctrine to follow, they saw an old man indicating with his hand to Hisham to follow him. Hisham thought that the old man was among the spies of al-Mansur and could understand their speech. He fearfully turned to his companion and ordered him to go away from him, that only he might be punished. He followed the old man, and he took him to Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (PBUH). When he came in to him, he became tranquil. When he sat down, the Imam turned to him and said to him with kindness and affection: “To me, not to the Murji’ites, nor to the Qadarities, nor to the Mu’tazilites, nor to the Zaydites….” Hisham became happy, for he found his objective when the Imam told him about what he had in his inner self. This is one of the marks and signs of the Imamate. Then Hisham asked him the following question:

– May I be your ransom (i.e. your life is more valuable than mine), Has your father really gone?

– Yes.

– Whom shall we follow after him?

– If Allah wills, He will guide you to that man.

– May I be your ransom, your brother Abd Allah claims that he is the Imam after his father.

– Abd Allah intends that Allah should not be worshipped (properly).

– Who is in charge of us after him?

He answered him with an answer similar to his first one, and Hisham asked him:

– Are you him?

– I am not saying that.

Hisham made a mistake in his speech, and he corrected his mistake, he said:

– Do you have an Imam over you?

– No.

– May I be your ransom, May I question you like I used to question your father.

– Question. You will be informed but do not spread (the answer) around. For if you do spread it around, then slaughtering (killing the Imam) will take place.

Then he asked him many questions, to the extent that he came to know that the Imam was a sea of knowledge which could not be exhausted out of his abundant knowledge and merit. After he had come to know him and being sure of his Imamate, he asked him:

– May I be your ransom, the Shia of your father is lost (without a leader). May I put this matter to them and summon them (to follow) you? For you have taken (a promise of secrecy from me).

– Tell those of them whose righteousness you are familiar with, but take (a promise of) secrecy from them. For if it gets spread around, there will be slaughtering.” And he pointed to his neck with his hand.

Arguments With Harun al-Rashid

It is said that on an occasion al-Rashid took umbrage at an apt retort from the Imam when they were together before the tomb of the Prophet in Medina. With the desire to show his own family relationship to the Prophet, Harun had said,“Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of Allah, unto thee who are my cousin!” But as he faced the tomb, the Imam said, “Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!” At this Harun was disconcerted and remarked, “Abul-Hassan, such glory as thane is truly to be vaunted of.” Later on Harun found the opportunity to question the Imam:

-Why have you permitted the non-Shia (al-a’mmah) and the Shia (al-khassah) to ascribe you to the Prophet and to call you: O Sons of Allah’s Apostle, and you are the sons of Ali, and one is ascribed to his father, and Fatimah was a container, and the Prophet is your grandfather on the side of your mother?

– If the Prophet was raised from the dead and proposed to your daughter, would you respond to him?

– Glory belongs to Allah! And why do I not respond to him? Rather I would through that pride myself on the Arabs, the non-Arabs, and Quraysh. – But he would not propose (to my daughter) and I would not marry (her) to him.

– Why?

– Because he begot me and did not beget you.

– Well-done, Musa! Why have you said that you are the Prophet’s progeny, while the Prophet had no progeny, the progeny belongs to the male and not to the female, and you are his daughter’s children?

– I ask you, by the right of the kinship, to exempt me (from that). Job – No, you should tell me about your proof …I do not exempt you.

– Will you give me permission to answer?

– Give (me the answer).

– Allah has said in his book: and of his descendants, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron (PBUT); and thus do We reward those who do good. And Zachariah and John the Baptist, and Jesus and Elias: All in the company of the righteous Who is Jesus’s father, O Commander of the faithful?

– Jesus had no father.

– Allah has ascribed him to the descendants of the prophets through Lady Mary (PBUH); similarly, we have been ascribed to the descendants of the Prophet through our mother Lady Fatimah (PBUH).

Nevertheless, Harun asked Imam Musa (PBUH) to give him more evidence and proofs. So he responded to him: “Allah, the Great and Almighty, has said to the Prophet: But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come, let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars. None claims that the Prophet made someone enter under the cloak (kisa) when he challenged the Christians to a contest of prayer to Allah (Mubahala) except Imam Ali, Lady Fatimah, Imam Hassan, and Imam Hussain (PBUT). Therefore the explanation of the words of Him, the Exalted, is: Our sons are Al-Hassan and Al-Hussain; our women is Fatimah; ourselves is Ali.

Imam and Bishr al-hafi

It is been narrated the story that Bishr Al-Hafi spent his nights and days in impudence and once in the midst of the noise, liquor, music and frivolity, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was passing by his house in Baghdad. Meanwhile Imam Kadhim (PBUH) saw a slave girl coming out of his house carrying some sweepings. He turned to the slave and asked her: “Is the owner of this house free or servant?”

“He is free” she replied.

“You are right,” retorted Imam Kadhim, “if he was servant, he would fear his Lord.”

The slave girl came into the house while Bishir was at the wine table, so he asked her: “What delayed you?” She gave him an account of what took place between her and the Imam. It is said that Bishr quickly jumped to his feet and headed to the door barefooted but the pious man had already left. He left in pursuit of the man and when he finally caught up with him asked him to repeat his words and he obliged. Bishr was so taken aback by his words that he fell to the ground and began to cry. “No I am a slave, I am a slave.” From then onwards he would walk without shoes and people began calling him Bishr al-Haafi (The bare footed one). When he was asked why he did not wear shoes, he would reply “My master Allah guided me when I was barefooted and I will remain in this condition till death”.

Imam and a Monk

Al-Abbas Ibn Hilal al-Shami has narrated: “I said to Musa al-Kadhim: Men admire him who eats the simplest food, wears coarse clothes, and shows reverence.”So the Imam (PBUH) said: “Did you not know that Yousif (Joseph) was a prophet, son of a prophet? (However) he used to wear silk mantles brocaded with gold. He sat on the thrones of the Pharaohs and ruled. The people were in no need of his clothes, but they were in need of his justice. An Imam is required to be just and fair; when he says something, he says the truth; when he promises something, he fulfills his promise; when he passes a judgment, he judges equitably. Allah has not forbidden wearing a particular type of clothes or eating a particular type of food earned through a lawful way; rather He has forbidden the unlawful, little or much. And most certainly Allah has said: Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah which He has produced for His servants, and the agreeable things of the sustenance.”

Imam and Abu Hanifa

Abu Ḥanifa visited Imam al-Sadiq (PBUH), and said to him: “I have seen your son, Musa, pray while the people were passing before him. He did not prevent them from that.” Imam Sadiq (PBUH) ordered his son to be brought before him. “O My little son, Abu Hanifa says that you pray and the people pass before you.” Imam Sadiq Asked. “Yes, father,” replied Musa Al-Kadhim (PBUH), “the One to Whom I pray is nearer to me than them; Allah, the Great and Almighty, says: We are nearer to him than the jugular vein.” When he heard these words of his son, he rose for him, embraced him, and said: “May my father and mother be your ransom, O he in whom secrets have been deposited!”


Imam Musa (PBUH) was called Kadhim (the forbearing) due to his immoderate pardoning those who aggressed against him. He was mild and patient in his temperament. It is narrated that once a man wronged Imam Musa (PBUH) and cursed his grandfather Imam Ali (PBUH). One of the Imam’s followers intended to kill him, but the Imam prevented him deciding to solve the problem in another way. The Imam asked some people about the man’s place and they led him to the outskirts of Medina. He found him on his farm and went towards him. The man shouted at him and said: “Do not walk on my plants!” The Imam paid no attention and when reached him, sat beside him and treated him with kindness and asked:

– How much have you paid to sow your land?

– One hundred dinars.

– How much do you hope to acquire from it?

– I do not know the unknown.

– I only asked you about what you hope it would bring you.

– I hope that it will bring me two hundred dinars.

The Imam gave him three hundred dinars and said: “these three hundred dinars is for you and your plants are as they are. Then he headed for the Mosque of the Prophet. He found the man was sitting there. When he saw the Imam walking towards him, stood up for him and called out: “Allah knows best where to put his (prophetic) mission.” His companions jumped (in surprise) towards him criticizing him for this change in his attitude. He disputed with them and recited to them the achievements and noble deeds of the Imam and invoked Allah for him. So the Imam turned to his companions and said: “Which was better, what you wanted or what I wanted? I have put right his attitude to the extent you have now become acquainted with.”

Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was also called “Abd al-Salih” (the Holy Servant) In illustration of his religious rather than political interest, which was characteristic of all the Imams. He used to tie up in packets sums of two hundred, three hundred, or four hundred dinars and distribute them in the city of Medina.” His purses were proverbial, so his family said: “We wonder at him to whom Musa’s purses come while he complains of paucity and poverty.”


Moral and Ethical Excellence

As regards his morality and ethical excellence, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks:“The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) was such that, he was given the title of ‘al-Kadhim’ (one who swallows down his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of Allah and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did wrong to him.”His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and help the poor and destitute people of Medina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessitates of sustenance secretly. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam’s lifetime as to whom their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his martyrdom.


Imprisonments and martyrdom

First Imprisonment

It may have been this generosity which brought him under suspicion when the, Caliph of the time, had him arrested and brought to Baghdad. But as Ibn Khallikan relates: “This Caliph had a dream in which Ali ibn Abu Talib (PBUH) appeared to him and said, ” O Muhammad, were you ready therefore, if you had been put in authority, to commit evil in the earth, and to violate the ties of blood?” Al-Fadl ibn al-Rabi’ relates in these terms what followed: “He sent for me at night and that put me in great dread. I went to him and found him chanting the above verse and no man had a finer voice than he. He said to me, “Bring me Musa Ibn Ja’far.” I did so and he embraced him, seated him by his side and said to him, “Abul-Hasan, I have just seen in a dream the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abu Talib, and he has recited to me such and such a verse; give me the assurance that you will not revolt against me or against any of my children.” He answered, ” By Allah, I am incapable of revolting.” “You say the truth!’ Replied the Caliph:”give him three thousand pieces of gold and restore him to his family in Medina.” I arranged the affair of his departure that very night, lest some obstacle might turn up, and before morning the man was on his journey.

Second Imprisonment

In the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid the Imam was also repeatedly subject to suspicion and disfavor. It is said that once al-Rashid took umbrage at an apt retort from the Imam when they were together before the tomb of the Prophet in Medina. With the desire to show his own family relationship to the Prophet, Harun had said, “Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of Allah, unto thee who are my cousin!” But as he faced the tomb, the Imam said, “Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!” At this Harun was disconcerted and remarked,“Abul-Hassan, such glory as thane is truly to be vaunted of.”

This occurrence would be sufficient to explain his first summons from Harun al-Rashid to come to Baghdad. There the Imam was kept in prison, and al-Khuzai, the chief of the palace guards, has related a vision the Caliph had which led him to release the Imam: “A messenger came to me from al-Rashid,” he said, “at an hour in which I never before received his visits; he pulled me from the place where I was and would not even allow me to change my clothes. This put me in great fear. When I arrived at the palace, I found the caliph sitting up in his bed. I saluted him, but he kept silent for some time; so my mind was much troubled and my fears greatly augmented. At length he said, ‘Do you know why I sent for you at such an hour?’ I answered, ‘ By Allah, I do not, Commander of the Faithful.’ ‘Know,’ said he, ‘that I just had a dream in which it seemed to me as if an Abyssinian came to me with a javelin in his hand and said to me: “set Musa Ibn ja’far free this very hour, otherwise I shall slay thee with this javelin.” Do you, therefore go and set him free.’ I replied, ‘ Commander of the Faithful, shall I then release Musa the son of Ja’far?’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘go and set Musa Ibn Ja’far free. Give him thirty thousand dirham and say to him in my name, If you would like to remain with us you will obtain from me whatever you desire, but if you prefer going to Medina you have permission to do so.’ I went to the prison and found the Imam waiting for me saying how quickly you had come. Whilst I was asleep,” he said, “behold the Apostle of Allah came to me and said, “O Musa, thou hast been imprisoned unjustly; so recite the words I am going to repeat to thee, for assuredly thou shall not pass all this night in prison.”

Final Imprisonment

As to what may have led to his final imprisonment, it is said that it is stated by al-Fakhri that “there were some of the relatives of Musa Al-Kadhim who were envious of him and carried false reports about him to al-Rashid, saying, ‘The people are paying him the Khums (Khums is one of Islamic laws, one-fifth of the property) and he is about to come forth against you.’ They brought this report to al-Rashid so frequently that it made him anxious and agitated. In 179 AH, Harun al-Rashid visited Medina. The fire of malice and jealousy against the Ahl Al-Bayt was kindled in his heart when he saw the great influence and popularity which the Holy Imam had amongst the people there. He got the Imam arrested while he was busy in prayer at the mosque of the Holy Prophet and kept him in prison in Baghdad for a period of about four years. On the 25th Rajab 183 AH, he got the Imam martyred by poison.

Al-Fakhri adds; Al-Rashid was at Rakka when he sent orders that the Imam should be put to death. They then brought a number of reputable men to Karkh to act as coroners and to testify publicly that he had died a natural death. He, then, was buried in the cemetery of Quraish on the south side of Baghdad. The place he was buried was a cemetery, but soon this place became the focus of pilgrimage on the grave of the Imam. A town grew around the grave yard. The name of the town became Kadhimiya, (the town of the Imam Kadhim (PBUH)) A reputed school of theology was founded in this town which is still a source of learning for many students from all over the world.


Selected Words of Imam Kadhim (PBUH)

–         Allah has two proofs over men: outward proof and inward one. As for the outward proof, it is the messengers, the prophets, and the Imams. As for the inward proof, it is reason.

  • Little work from a scholar is doubly accepted; much work from the men of low desire and ignorance is refused.
  • Try hard that your time may be four hours: one hour is for worship Allah, one hour for the affairs of the livelihood, one hour for associating with the brothers (friends) and the reliable ones who let you know your defects and who are inwardly loyal to you, and one hour for that you are alone with yourselves (and) for non-forbidden things. Through this hour you have power over the three hours.
  • Tell yourselves of neither poverty nor a long lifetime, for whoever tells himself of poverty becomes miserly. Whoever tells himself of a long lifetime becomes greedy.
  • The generous and polite is under the protection of Allah; He does not leave him until He makes him enter the Garden. Allah sends out none as a prophet except the generous.
  • Misfortune is one for the patient and two for the impatient.
  • Silence is among the doors to wisdom; it brings about love and is a proof of all good things.
  • Good neighbor is not refraining from harm, but good neighbor is showing patience toward harm.
  • When Harun al-Rashid, threw him into the dark cells of prisons, he thanked Allah and said: “O Allah, you know that I used to ask you to give me free time to worship you. O Allah, You have done that. To you be praise.

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