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The Ninth Imam, ‘Mohammad Taqi (a.s) Ibn Ali (a.s.)

 

Name
Imam Mohammad Ibn Ali (a.s.)
Father’s name
Imam Imam Ali Reza (a.s.)
Mother’s name
Janabe Sabika (S.A.)
Date of Birth
10th Rajab, 195 A. H.
Place of Birth
Madinah Munawwarah
Kuniyyat
Abu Jafar al-Saani
Titles
Jawad, Taqi
Age
25 years
Martyrdom
Last day of Zilqad, 220 A. H.
Buried
Kazmain

 

“Surely, I will make him (Imam Reza (a.s.)) happy through his son Mohammad who is his successor after him and the inheritor of his knowledge. He is the treasure house of My knowledge and the stronghold of My secrets and My proof upon My creatures.”

Imam Taqi (a.s.) was born on the eve of Friday, 10th of Rajab 195 A.H. His mother’s name was Sabika. He spent his first 8 years with his holy father, Imam Reza (a.s.). In 203 A.H., after the martyrdom of Imam Reza (a.s.), he succeeded him as the Imam. His agnomen (Kuniyyat) was ‘Abu Jafar.’

The concern of the Imam being a minor had never appeared earlier in the chain of Imamate. Hence this became an issue for the first time in the case of Imam Taqi (a.s.). On one hand, there was a group of people who questioned how Allah, the Almighty could grant the exalted status of Imamate to a young child and hand over the reins of guidance of the community to him. We can realize this matter by observing the questions which were raised about the Imam (a.s.) during his father’s time. During the period of Imam Ali Reza (a.s.), those who were enquiring about his Imamate at a young age were told to consider and study the appointment of Isa (a.s.) who was raised to the position of Prophethood while he was still in the cradle. Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) indicated this fact in a simple sentence saying,

“We are a family in which our young inherit each and everything from their elders.”

On the other hand, Mamoon who suffered heavy defeats in confronting the learned personality of Imam Reza (a.s.) thought that after his martyrdom, there would be no further obstacles in his path. When the message of the Imamate of Imam Taqi (a.s.) reached him, considering the young age of the new Imam (a.s.), he considered repeating his wicked plan (which he had carried out against Imam Reza (a.s.)) to crush the holy personality of Imam Taqi (a.s.). However, history witnessed how Mamoon had to face disgrace in his plans yet again. Mamoon organised for group discussions and debates by calling known scholars of the era such as Yahya Ibn Aktham and instigated them to pose difficult questions to Imam (a.s.). But when these scholars were confronted by the Imam (a.s.) regarding their own questions and the various facets thereof, they were bewildered and left the gathering with their heads hanging in shame.

When Yahya Ibn Aktham was the Chief Justice, he, on Mamoon’s instructions, sought the opinion of the Imam (a.s.) about a person who hunts while in the state of Ehram. Imam (a.s.) while explaining the eleven aspects of this question, asked him as to which aspect he wanted. On hearing this, Yahya Ibn Aktham was stunned. In a state of visible discomfort, his helplessness was obvious to all. After everybody had left, Mamoon requested Imam (a.s.) to answer the question from all the aspects and the same was done by the Imam (a.s.) in great detail.

Many such incidents had made Mamoon’s ego bite the dust. Imam’s tremendous knowledge had made such an impression on Mamoon’s mind that whenever anyone would speak ill of Imam (a.s.) for any reason and bring forward the matter of the young age of the Imam (a.s.) as an excuse, Mamoon would rebuke them saying, “He is more knowledgeable than any of you and more acquainted with the Shariat of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet than you. He is better versed than all of you about the Quran. If you desire you can test him, and if you find him as I have described, then accept my word.”

In order to keep a close eye on Imam (a.s.), despite the stiff opposition of his advisors, Mamoon gave the hand of his daughter Ummul Fazl to him so that he may be aware of the activities in Imam’s (a.s.) house. Thus, despite lack of any apparent external pressure, Imam (a.s.) was kept under strict surveillance. The uneasiness that Imam (a.s.) experienced from this forceful living can be observed from his statements. Once while replying to a question from one of his companions, Abu Talib-e-Qummi, Imam (a.s.) wrote, “Write an elegy for my father as well as for me.” This reveals that behind the veil of an apparently independent life, Imam (a.s.) was living under strict observation and afflictions and desired that his companions should write elegies to spread the news of his captivity in the society.

In the 17 years of Imamate, Imam (a.s.) saw the reigns of two rulers of Bani Abbas – Mamoon and Mo’tasim. During the reign of Mo’tasim, Imam (a.s.) was forcibly brought from Madinah to Baghdad in Moharram 220 A.H. Despite all the restrictions, Imam (a.s.) fulfilled all his responsibilities in the best possible way. While advising the powerful governor of Seestan, Husain Ibn Abdullah Nishapoori, about his duties and responsibilities, he wrote,

“Behave well with your brothers (the people under your rule and your religious brothers) and know that Allah the Almighty would question you about each and every small deed.”

And when he intended to advise those who were always justifying their wrongdoings, i.e., those who were believers outwardly but were actually assisting the rulers, he would say, “Suffice it is for a believer to have committed treason by being trustworthy for those who are treacherous.”

While inviting his friends towards self-control, character building and self-purification, he advised, “Forgetting others shortcomings and paying attention towards reforming one’s own defects are the signs of a sound human being.”

With regard to the above-mentioned ethic, when he wanted to train the Muslims in accepting the useful advice of others, he used to say, “A believer requires three characteristics – a divine grace, an advisor from within his own self and the acceptance of the one who advises him.”

Undoubtedly if such incidents are dealt in detail then we will require several more pages to narrate all such episodes. It is sufficient to know that during the 17 years of his Imamate, Imam Taqi (a.s.) protected the luminous light of Imamate while during this period, Bani Abbas tried their best to create a hostile environment and spread false propaganda that at the time of the death of Imam Reza (a.s.), there was no mature son and that a minor cannot fulfill the responsibilities that come with the position of Imamate. During these times, Imam (a.s.) trained self-sacrificing friends such as Ibn Abi Umayr Baghdadi, Abu Jafar Mohammad Ibn Sanaan Zaheri, Ahmad Ibn Abi Nasr, Bazant-e-Kufi, Abu Tamaam Habeeb Ibn Aws Taell, Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Mahziyar-e- Ahwaazi, Fazl Ibn Shazaan Nishapoori etc. Thus, he created the ground for further propagation of Shiite teachings despite the stiff opposition of the Abbasside government. Although Imam (a.s.) did not adopt a policy of openly opposing the government Bani Abbas, he maintained this advice to his friends – “The inclination with heart towards Allah (life and a moment based on deep-rooted and basic aim) is much more expressive than employing (putting into hardship) the body.” (implying an action which is not based on thinking)

Ultimately on Saturday, the last day of the month of Zilqad, 220 A.H. on the command of Mo’tasim, Imam (a.s.) was poisoned by his wife Ummul Fazl (daughter of Mamoon – perhaps, it was for this reason that Mamoon had married his daughter to Imam (a.s.)) which led to his martyrdom at the age of 25 years. He was buried next to the grave of his grandfather Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.). This area was later known as Kazmain and even today it remains the center of attraction for thousands of followers of Imams (a.s.).

To end the chapter, we reproduce below two wise and thoughtful saying of Imam Taqi (a.s.):

If we observe that society is plagued by controversies and differences of opinion, we should realize that it is because of the interference of ignorant.

“If the ignorant remain silent, people will not differ.”

The above tradition widens the path in our lives and advises us to
avoid useless discussions.

Man in his social life should try not to be attached to those who are wicked in character and whose thoughts are not correct. Imam (a.s.) says,

“Do not associate yourselves with a wicked person. Surely he is like a naked sword which looks good but has evil effects.”

We hope these sayings of Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.) will change our mind, heart, spirit, and conscience for good and help us develop as better human beings. Inshallah.