Imam Jawad (PBUH)
Imam Muhammad Al-Jawad or Muhammad Al-Taqi (Arabic: الإمام محمد التقي الجواد) is the ninth Imam of Shia. His given name was Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Musa, and among his titles, al-Taqi and al-Jawad are the most renowned. Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (PBUH) was the shortest-lived of the Twelve Imams, he martyred at the age of 25.
He was born on the tenth of Rajab, 195 AH. His mother was Khaizaran, also known as Sabika, a woman from the family of Maria al-Qibtiyya.
Hakima, the sister of Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH), is reported saying that on the night of al-Taqi’s birth her brother advised her to be present beside his wife. According to a tradition, al-Taqi at his birth looked at the sky and uttered confirmation of the Oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and succession (ولایت) of Imam Ali (PBUH).
He undertook the responsibility of Imamate at the age of eight years.
He was a child when his father was killed. He did not act upon childish or whimsical impulses and he accepted adult responsibility and behaviors at an early age. His possession of extraordinary knowledge at a young age is similar to that of the Islamic tradition of Prophet Jesus (PBUH), a figure called to leadership and prophetic mission while still a child.
The story of Ma’mun al-Rashid’s first meeting with Imam Muhammad Jawad (PBUH) is interesting. Once, Ma’mun was passing a street in Baghdad with his soldiers. When the other children saw the caliph, they ran away but Imam Jawad (PBUH) did not.
So, Ma’mun al-Rashid stopped his carriage and asked: “Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?”
Imam Jawad replied calmly: “For the following two reasons: Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked, and your horses may go around me.”
Ma’mun al-Rashid was surprised with this mature reply and asked: “What is your name?”
“Muhammad,” he replied. “Whose son are you?” asked Ma’mun al-Rashid.
“The Son of Ali”
“Ali son of who?” said Ma’mun, “Son of Musa, son of Jafar, son of Muhammad, son of Ali, son of Hussain, brother of Hassan, son of Ali the cousin and successor to Prophet Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (PBUT)”
Ma’mun al-Rashid became even more surprised at the latter answer and rode on. During his hunt the hawk returned to him with a small fish in its beak. He returned toward the city. Once again, he found this young man who said he was Muhammad son of Imam Ali Ridha (PBUH) who remained where he was left.
Ma’mun stopped his carriage near Imam Jawad (PBUH) and said, “What does this hawk do for me?”, then he changed his mind and hid the fish in his fist and said “No, instead tell me, what is there in my fist?”
Imam Jawad (PBUH) replied, “Allah has created tiny fish in the river. The hawks of kings sometimes catch fish from there and bring it to the Kings. These kings hide it in their fist and ask a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt of the Prophet, “Tell me what is there in my fist.”
Ma’mun al-Rashid said, “Truly, you are the worthy son of Imam Ali Ridha (pbuh)”Ma’mun al-Rashid took the young Imam Jawad with him, and let him live in a nearby house next to the Royal Palace.
For the consolidation of his empire, it was realized by al-Ma’mun, the Abbasid king, that it was necessary to win the sympathy and support of the Iranians who had always been friendly to the Ahl Al-Bayt. Yet the exigency which directed him to nominate Imam Ali al-Rida (PBUH) as his heir and successor still continued. Hence, he desired to marry his daughter Umm Al-fadhl to Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH), the son of Imam Ridha and with this object in view, he summoned the Imam from Medina to Iraq. The Banu Abbas were extremely disconcerted when they come to know that Ma’mun was planning to marry his daughter to Imam Muhammad al-Jawad. A delegation of some leading persons waited on him in order to dissuade him from his intention. But Ma`mun continued to admire the learning and excellence of the Imam. He would say that though Imam Muhammad al-Jawad was still young, yet he was a true successor to his father in all his virtues and that the profoundest scholars of the Islamic world could not compete with him. When the Abbasids noticed that Ma’mun attributed the Imam’s superiority to his learning they chose yahya Ibn Aktham, the greatest scholar and jurist of Baghdad, to contend with him.
Al-Ma’mun issued a proclamation and organized a grand meeting for the contest which resulted in huge gathering of people from all parts of the kingdom. Apart from noble and high officials, there were as many as nine hundred chairs reserved for scholars and learned men only. The world wondered how a young child could contest with the veteran judge in religious laws and the greatest scholar of Iraq. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) was seated beside Ma’mun on his throne face to face with Yahya Ibn Aktham, who addressed the Imam thus: “Do you permit me to ask you a Question?”
“Ask me whatever you wish“. Said the Imam in the typical tone of his ancestors. yahya then asked the Imam, “O what is your verdict about a man who indulges in hunting while he is in the state of Ehram (one of Hajj laws, during Ehram, hunting is supposed to be forbidden for a pilgrim.)
The Imam at once replied, “Your question is vague and misleading. You should have definitely mentioned whether he hunted within the jurisdiction of the Kaba or outside; whether he was literate of illiterate; whether he was a slave of a free citizen; whether he was a minor or a major; whether it was for the first time of he had done it previously; also whether, that victim was a bird or some other creature; whether the prey was small or big; whether he hunted in the day or at night; whether the hunter repented for his action of persisted in it ; whether he hunted secretly of openly ; whether the Ehram was for Umrah Hajj. Unless all these points are explained no specific answer can be given to this question.”
The judge, Yahya was staggered in listening to these words of the Imam and the entire gathering was dumbfounded.
There was no limit to Ma’mun’s pleasure. He expressed his sentiments of joy and admiration thus, “Bravo! Well done! O Abu Ja`far! Your learning and attainments are beyond all praises.” As Ma’mun wanted that the Imam’s opponent be fully exposed, he said to the Imam, “You may also put some question to Yahya Ibn Aktham.” Then Yahya also reluctantly said to the Imam,“Yes, you may ask me some questions. If I know the answer, I will tell it; otherwise, I shall request you to give its answer.” Thereupon, the Imam asked a Question to which Yahya could not reply. Eventually, the Imam answered his question.
Then Ma’mun addressed the audience: “Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning? Is there anyone in the world who can match even the children of this family?” All of them shouted, “Undoubtedly there in no one parallel to Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Jawad.” In the some assemble Ma’mun wedded his daughter Umm al-Fadhl to the Imam and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his subjects as a mark of rejoicing.
According to Twelver Shia, the Imams are perfectly able to give judgment on all matters of religious law and his judgment was always legally correct. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (PBUH) like the other Imams of Ahl Al-Bayt and the Prophets of Islam were born with extraordinary knowledge.
Marriage and lifestyle during Abbasid rule
After Ma’mun had poisoned Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) to death he endeavored to show that the death had come by a natural cause. Ma’mun also brought al-Jawad (PBUH) from Medina to Baghdad with the plan of marrying him to his daughter, Umm Al-Fadhal. Although the Abbasids made strenuous attempts to forestall it, the marriage was duly solemnized.
After living in Baghdad for eight years, Imam Jawad and Umm al-Fadhal returned to Medina. There he found his relationship with his wife strained and upon the death of Ma’mun in 833 his fortunes deteriorated. Since Umm al-Fadhal did not have any children, Imam Jawad (PBUH) also married Soumanah, who gave him a son and successor, Ali Al-Hadi. The successor of Mamun’s caliphate was Al-Mu’tasim. With the new Abbasid ruler in power Imam Jawad (PBUH) was no longer protected and his interests and position were imperiled by the dislike that Mu’tasim had for him.
In 835, Mu’tasim called Imam Jawad (PBUH) back to Baghdad. The latter left his son Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) (the tenth Shia Imam) with his mother Soumanah in Medina and set out for Baghdad. He resided there for one more year, becoming a well known scholar and popular in debates.
Ibn Shahr Ashoob records that Mu’tasim encouraged Umm Al-Fadhal to murder her husband Imam Jawad (PBUH). She duly poisoned him to death on the twenty-ninth of Dhu al-Qi’dah, 220 Hijra (the 26th year after his birth).
Imam Muhammad Al-Taqi Al-Jawad (PBUH) is buried beside the grave of his grandfather Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH) (the seventh Shia Imam) within Al Kadhimiya Mosque, in Kadhimayn, Iraq , a popular site for visitation and pilgrimage by Shi’a Muslims.
Imam Jawad, peace be Upon him, said:
“The trust in Allah is the price of everything that is precious and the ladder to every goal which is high and sublime. One, who follows his desires, concedes to the wishes of his enemy. Do not be an apparent friend of Allah in open and a secret enemy of His in private.”