Translator: The Islamic Ahl Al-Bayt ('a) Foundation
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
Category: Imam al-Jawad
ISBN: 978-964- 529- 789-1


Author: Editorial Board
Translator: The Islamic Ahl Al-Bayt ('a) Foundation
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

ISBN: 978-964- 529- 789-1
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Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
ISBN: 978-964- 529- 789-1


Imam Jawad (as) was a contemporary of two caliphs; al-Mamun and al-Mu'tasim.

1. Al-Mamun Abbasi

Just as he had showed great respect for Imam al-Rida (as) and other Alawis - though it was all fake - al-Mamun continued to show the same feeling for Imam Jawad (as) which was once again the result of his cunning. He married his daughter to Imam Jawad (as) so that he could become nearer to Imam Jawad (as). While he displayed great respect and friendship towards the Household (as), and especially towards Imam Jawad (as), at the same time he was trying to degrade Imam Jawad (as) by any possible means. Also, he wanted him to be under the control of the caliph. This is what we can find in al-Mamun's behaviour with Imam al-Rida (as). Actually, al-Mamun's behaviour towards Imam Jawad (as) was the same adverse behaviour which he showed towards his father Imam al-Rida (as). A noticeable crack in the relation of Imam Jawad (as) and al-Mamun is something which we will study in this chapter.

Imam Jawad (as) Marries al-Mamun's Daughter

Historians have mentioned the reaction of the Abbasid family to the marriage of Imam Jawad (as) with al-Mamun's daughter: When al-Mamun decided to marry his daughter, Umm al-Fadhl, to Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali (as), he let the Abbasids know of his intention. For the Abbasid family it was very hard to accept al-Mamun's action and they started criticizing him. What the Abbasids were afraid of was the caliphate, which they thought would be seized by Imam Jawad (as), and the story of his father (as) would be repeated. They discussed this many times. At last a group of al-Mamun's relations went to him and said:“O Amir al-Muminin, we adjure you by Allah to give up marrying your daughter to the son of al-Rida. We fear you will take a matter that Allah has endowed us with away from us and remove the honour which Allah has bestowed on us. You have known what has been there between us and these people in the past and now and how the caliphs have exiled them and belittled them. We are in fear of what you have done with al-Rida. We ask you by Allah not to take us back to a distress that has abated. Give up your intention with the son of al-Rida and choose one from your family who would be more suitable.”

Al-Mamun said to them:“As for that which is between you and the family of Abu Talib (the Alawis), the fault is yours. If you had done justice to them, it would have been better for you for they are closest to you. And as for that which those before me have done to them, they cut kinship and I seek the protection of Allah from that. By Allah, I have not regretted my appointing him as my heir apparent. I had asked him to undertake the matter (the caliphate) and I would retire but he refused; and the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute.”

And as for Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali (al-Jawad), I have chosen him because he is the best of all people in knowledge and virtue though he is still young and I have admired this in him. I hope that which I have known in him will appear to people and then they will know that what I have done is right.

Then the Abbasids asked al-Mamun to delay the marriage until Imam al-Jawad (as) had grown older and become more aware of religion.

Al-Mamun replied“Woe unto you! I know this young man better than you. He is from people of a house whose knowledge is from Allah who has inspired them. His fathers have been rich in the knowledge of religion and sciences and have not been in need of imperfect people. If you like, you can test Abu Ja’far to discover what I have described about him.”

The Abbasids said to al-Mamun: O Amir al-Muminin, we agree to test him. Let us alone with him and we shall appoint someone to question him in your presence on some subjects in Sharia jurisprudence. If he answers correctly, we shall have no objection to his marriage and the opinion of Amir al-Muminin will appear right to people, and if he fails to answer we shall have the right to object.[245]

The Abbasids went looking for a scientific personality that would be able to test Imam al-Jawad (as) and confute him.

The Abbasids had agreed to choose Yahya bin Aktham, who was the head of the judges of Baghdad and one of the prominent jurisprudents at that time, to test Imam Abu Ja’far (as). They offered their suggestions and told him that they would give him much money if he tried Imam al-Jawad (as) and confuted him. Yahya responded and left for his house looking in books of jurisprudence and Hadith for the most complicated questions to test Imam al-Jawad (as). The Abbasids went to al-Mamun and told him that Yahya had accepted the offer and they asked him to select a day for the test.

When the day of the test came, the Abbasids hurried to the palace of al-Mamun. Notables, scholars and people of all classes attended the meeting. It was a memorable day. The meeting hall was full of people. Imam al-Jawad (as), who was nine years and a few months old at that time, took his seat at the front as al-Mamun had ordered, Yahya sat before him and al-Mamun sat beside him.

The attendants paid attention and Yahya asked al-Mamun permission to begin testing Imam al-Jawad (as). Yahya turned towards Imam al-Jawad (as) and said to him, 'Would you permit me - may I die for you - to ask you a question?'

Imam al-Jawad (as) smiled at him saying, 'Ask whatever you like.'

Yahya asked, 'May Allah make me die for you! What do you say about a muhrim who killed game?'

Imam al-Jawad (as) said: 'Did he kill the game while being in his ihram or not? Was he aware of that or not? Did he kill it intentionally or not? Was the muhrim a free person or a slave? Was he a child or an adult? Was the game from birds or another animal? Was it young or adult? Did the muhrim insist on doing this and did he repent? Was it at night or by day? Was the muhrim in the major hajj or in the minor hajj?'

When al-Mamun saw that Yahya had failed, he turned to the Abbasids and said, 'Praise be to Allah for this blessing and for the success of my opinion do you now know what you have denied?'

Al-Mamun turned to Imam al-Jawad (as) and said, O Abu Ja’far, do you propose (to my daughter)?'

Imam al-Jawad (as) showed acceptance and then al-Mamun said to him, 'May I die for you! I have accepted you. Propose and I will marry my daughter Ummul Fadhl to you even if some people object to that.'

Then Imam al-Jawad (as) made the speech of engagement saying, 'Praise be to Allah as an acknowledgment of His blessing, and there is no god but Allah as loyalty to His oneness, and the blessing and peace of Allah be on the master of His people and the choice of his progeny. Among the favours of Allah on His people is that He has satisfied them with lawful (marriage) rather than unlawful (adultery). He, glory be to Him, has said:

وَأَنكِحُوا الْأَيَامَىٰ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْۚ إِن يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّـهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۗ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٣٢﴾

“And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want by His grace; and Allah is All Bountiful, All Knowing.” [246]

Thus Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa proposed to Umm al-Fadhl the daughter of Abdullah al-Mamun and offered her a dowry equal to the dowry of his grandmother, Fatima the daughter of Muhammad: five hundred dirhams and horses. O Amir al-Muminin, do you accept marrying your daughter to me with this dowry?'

Al-Mamun said, 'Yes, I marry her to you, O Abu Ja’far, with the mentioned dowry. Do you accept the marriage?'

Imam al-Jawad (as) said, 'Yes, I accept it and am satisfied with it.'

Al-Mamun ordered the attendants with their different ranks and classes to sit and not to leave the meeting. Raian says:“It was only a little later that we heard voices like those of sailors and captains. Suddenly we saw slaves pulling a [small] boat made of silver with ropes made of silk; the boat was on the back of a horse. This boat was filled with perfume. Al-Mamun ordered the gentlefolk to tinge dye their beard with it. Then the boat was placed before the rest of the people and they also applied perfume from it. Then the tablecloths were spread and everyone ate. Then everyone was given prizes by the caliph according to their posts.

When the people left and only a group of gentlemen remained with the caliph, he said to Abu Ja’far: May I die for you, it will be better if you explain in detail the jurisprudential problem which was asked earlier so that we will understand and benefit from it. Imam al-Jawad (as) said, 'If a muhrim kills game while being free from his ihram and the game is an adult bird, he has to pay one sheep as penance. If he does that during his ihram, the penance is doubled. If he kills a chick while being free from ihram, he has to pay a weaned lamb and does not have to pay its price because he is not in ihram. If he kills it in his ihram, he must pay a lamb and the price of the chick. If the game is an animal, he has to pay a cow or a camel for killing a wild donkey or an ostrich. If he kills a deer, the penance will be a sheep. If he kills the game while being in ihram, the penance is doubled as an offering to be brought to the Ka'aba. He must slaughter the animal (of the penance) in Mina where people slaughter their sacrifices if he is on the great hajj and he must slaughter it in Mecca in the yard of the Ka'aba if he is in the minor hajj. There is no difference in paying penance when it comes to whether the man is learned or uneducated. Whether a muhrim kills game knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, he has to pay penance for it. If a slave commits the act, his master must pay the penance. A child who is not yet adult does not have to pay penance; but rather the penance is paid by his guardian. He who kills game (during his ihram) intentionally and insists on that shall be punished in the afterlife even after paying the penance in this life. One who shows repentance after paying the penance shall not be punished in the afterlife.”

Al-Mamun praised Imam Jawad (as) and asked him to question Yahya bin Aktham. Imam al-Jawad (as) turned to Yahya and said to him, 'May I ask you?'

Yahya said politely, 'It is up to you, may I die for you! I may know the answer to your question; otherwise, I shall benefit from you.' Imam (as) then asked:“Can you describe the situation in which a man looked at a woman at dawn while it is forbidden (haram) for him to do so; but then at sunrise, it was permissible (halal) for him to look at her? Then at noon, it became haram for him to look at that woman; but in the afternoon, it became permissible for him to look at her? Then at sunset, it became haram for him to look at that woman; but at night, it became halal for him to look at her? Then at midnight, it became haram for him to look at her; but at dawn, it became halal for him to do so?”

Yahya bin Aktham said,“By Allah! I do not know the answer to this question. We would, however, benefit from your answer.”

The Imam explained the answer as follows:“At dawn, the woman was the slave of someone else; however, by sunrise, the man had already bought her for himself and so it became halal for him to look at her.

“At noon, he set her free, and so she became haram for him; but by afternoon, he had married her, so she became halal for him.

“At sunset, he did zihar by which one's wife becomes haram for a person; but by night he paid the penalty for zihar, and so she became halal for him again.

“At midnight, he divorced her; but by next morning, he revoked his divorce, and so she became halal for him.”

Then al-Mamun turned to his relatives, who had opposed his decision of marrying his daughter to Imam al-Jawad (as), and said to them, 'Can any one of you answer this question in this way?'

They answered, 'No, by Allah, we cannot - even the judge. O, Amir al-Muminin, you are more aware of him than we are.'

Al-Mamun said to them, 'Did you not know that the people of this House (Ahl al-bayt) are creatures unlike other creatures? Did you not know that the messenger of Allah (sawas) paid homage to al-Hasan and al-Husayn while they were still children and he had not paid homage to any child other than them? Did you not know that their father, Ali (as), believed in the messenger of Allah when he was just nine years old and Allah and His messenger accepted his faith and no faith of a child other than him had been accepted, and the messenger of Allah had not prayed to Allah for a child other than him? Did you not know that they are a progeny, one from the other, and that that which the last of them has (of knowledge and virtues) is as that which the first of them has had?'

They said: You are right, O commander of the faithful!

Then they stood up and left the gathering.

On the second day, after the bond of marriage had been concluded, people came to the palace of al-Mamun. At the head were the leaders of the army, officials of the government and the other classes of people. They came to offer congratulations to Imam al-Jawad (as) and al-Mamun on this happy occasion. Al-Mamun ordered the donations and gifts to be brought. Three silver trays full of small balls of musk and saffron were brought. Inside the balls were pieces of paper in which prizes of precious donations were written. Al-Mamun ordered these balls to be scattered on his train and other gifts to be scattered on the leaders and the other attendants. People left taking with them precious prizes and gifts. And then, al-Mamun gave charity to all the poor people. During his whole life, he magnified Abu Ja’far (as), respected him and preferred him over his sons and other relatives.[247]

The Nature of al-Mamun and Imam Jawad's (as) Relationship

We have just mentioned the event of Imam Jawad's (as) marriage with al-Mamun's daughter, the conditions of this relationship and the discussions and criticisms which took place in this regard. Now we will discuss the points which clarify the cracks in the relation between Imam Jawad (as) and al-Mamun:

Al-Mamun knew very well that Imam Jawad (as) was the real heir of Imamah and religious leadership of the nation of his forefather the Prophet of Allah (sawas). That is why al-Mamun made a very serious plan regarding how to deal with him while preparing his political programs; he knew that Imam Jawad (as) was playing a very important role in Islamic politics. Al-Mamun knew that Imam (as) was not only accepted by the prominent persons of the Islamic nation as a leader but he was also accepted and highly respected among the common people. Abbasids criticized the marriage of al-Mamun's daughter with Imam Jawad (as). They went to al-Mamun and said to him:“O Amir al-Muminin, are you marrying your dearest daughter to a young child [of nine years] who has not yet understood the religion of Allah; who does not distinguish between halal and haram and compulsory [wajib] and recommended [mustahab]? It will be better if you wait for him to gain knowledge, learn the Qur'an and distinguish between halal and haram!

This was when al-Mamun let them know about what he had come to know about Imam Jawad (as), his value among the people and great virtues. He said to them: “Certainly he is more learned than you and knows more about Allah, His Prophet (sawas), and Sunnah and Islamic rules. He recites [and knows] the Book of Allah better than you; and he is more learned about clearly defined and allegorical verses, about abrogating and abrogated verses, about appearance and the inner being, about special and common and about revelation and interpretation of the verses than you.” [248]

Al-Mamun's reaction reveals that he had studied Imam Jawad's (as) every movement very carefully. Then the commanders, the curtain holders, the gentlemen and the people who were very near to the caliph would come to know about how much al-Mamun cared for Imam Jawad (as).

As we read previously, al-Mamun was just pretending to have great respect for Imam Jawad (as). Actually, in ostensibly supporting him, he had two main targets:

Firstly: To attract the attention of the majority of Muslims, partisans and companions of the Household (as). For this, it was necessary for him to pretend to be among those having respect for the Household (as) if he wanted to achieve his goals;

Secondly: By showing feelings of respect and honour towards Imam Jawad (as) he wanted to erase the memories of how he martyred Imam al-Rida (as) from the minds and hearts of the people. Let us not forget that he was successful enough to betray the people by doing this.

Al-Mamun's relation with Imam Jawad (as) was like his relation with Imam al-Rida (as) which was full of political interest. Apparently, he showed exemplary behaviour towards Imam (as), but he had bad intentions for him in his heart. He made plans and conspired against Imam Jawad (as); but he could never act upon his plans and was not able to degrade Imam (as) in the eyes of the people. That is why, as a last option, he married his daughter to so that he would show that Imam Jawad (as) had hunger for power.

Muhammad ibn al-Raian narrates,“al-Ma'mun did all he could to prove that abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida (as) was only a young man of worldly desires. However al-Ma'mun was not able to succeed. When he became frustrated, he gave his daughter in marriage to Abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida (as). For the ceremony he sent two most beautiful entertaining girls each with a bowl in her hand with a precious pearl in it to welcome Abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida (as) when he would sit on the special seat prepared for him. They, however, were not a distraction to the Imam (as). There was a man called Mukhariq who had a voice, musical skills, a stringed instrument and a long beard. Al-Ma'mun called him and he said, “O Amir al-Mu'minin, if he is a worldly man, I will prove myself by dealing him deadly blows on your behalf.” He sat before abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida (as) and began to bray a hee-haw that made all the people of the house gather around him. He began to play his instrument and sing. He did this for an hour but Abu Ja’far (as) did not pay any attention. Then he (as) raised his head and said,“O you, tall bearded one, be pious before Allah.” The narrator says that the musical instrument fell from his hands and from that time he lost the use of his hands for the rest of his life. When Al-Ma'mun asked him about his condition he said,“When Abu Ja’far (as) expressed his disappointment in me it struck me with a huge degree of fear from which I have not been able to relieve myself ever since.” [249]

This story clearly shows al-Mamun's intentions and conspiracies against Imam Jawad (as). He benefited from every single chance to degrade Imam Jawad (as) in the eyes of the people and show him to be a weak person having no ability for the Imamah and leadership of the Islamic Ummah and - God forbid - introduced him as unfit, and showed his preference over the Imam (as) for the post of Imamah and caliphate. However, he was never successful in his attempts. Then he thought of another plan for keeping Imam (as) under observation which was to marry his daughter to Imam (as). Obviously, al-Mamun did not do so, from his heart, for he had no respect towards Imam (as) but just wanted Imam (as) to be under his observation. However, we will discuss this in detail in consequent chapters.

Another trick which al-Mamun used in order to degrade Imam (as) was to compel his chief justice, Yahya bin Aktham, to prepare tough jurisprudential questions and pose them to Imam Jawad (as) so that, by this means, al-Mamun could decrease his level of honour and respect and thereby achieve his own goals. Al-Mamun said to Yahya bin Aktham:“Is it lawful for a man to marry a woman after he has committed fornication with her? The Imam (as) answered:

He should leave her for a while until she is cleansed from his and others' unlawful sperm. Just as she has committed fornication with that man, she may have committed fornication with others. After that, he can marry her. Such a woman is like a date palm from which a man has unlawfully plucked fruit rather than buying fruit lawfully.[250]

Hence, Yahya could say nothing.”

So on such occasions, al-Mamun failed to achieve his targets. However, he very cunningly pretended with great political experience to be happy so that he could show that whatever was asked was a personal and individual attempt by Yahya bin Aktham.

Such tricks are very useful for betraying the common and simple people who do not have the ability to ponder the problems. However, the real friends and companions of the Imam (as) who were enjoying his great knowledge were never trapped in such snares. According to al-Kulayni, some political parties of that era were not deceived by al-Mamun's deceitful attempts. They knew it was only a political machination for al-Mamun to marry his daughter to Imam Jawad (as).

Muhammad bin Ali al-Hashimi said,“I went to Abu Ja’far in the morning following his marriage to the daughter of al-Mamun. The previous night I had taken a drug and therefore I was thirsty. I did not like to ask for water. Abu Ja’far looked at my face and said, 'I see you are thirsty.' I said, 'Yes, I am.' He said to one of the servants, 'O boy, bring us some water.' I said to myself, 'Now they will bring poisoned water.' I felt distressed. The servant came with water. Abu Ja’far smiled at me and asked the servant to give him the water. He took the water and drank from it and then gave it to me and I drank.” [251]

Muhammad bin Ali was among those few people aware of al-Mamun's enmity towards Imam Jawad (as). Therefore, every moment he was expecting something unpleasant for Imam (as). He feared that al-Mamun would martyr Imam (as) at the first opportunity. That was the reason that he was sorry for asking for water.

Al-Mamun's Motive behind his Marrying his Daughter to Imam Jawad (as)

There were two motives behind al-Mamun's relationship with Imam Jawad (as):

Firstly, it could be a good propaganda tool for al-Mamun by which he could make the people believe that he had a great respect for the Household of the Prophet (as). The second motive, which is more important, was to appoint a full-time spy who would report Imam's (as) every move to al-Mamun. This was something performed by al-Mamun's daughter, Umm al-Fadhl, in the most perfect manner.

The Positioning of Abbasids

The positioning of the Abbasids against al-Mamun's action was based on their hatred, prejudice and unawareness; because of al-Mamun's apparent good conduct towards Imam Jawad (as), they were very angry with him. They did not understand the reality and depth of this relationship, neither did they know anything about al-Mamun's targets which he was about to achieve through his relationship with Imam Jawad (as). On the other hand, al-Mamun also benefited from the Abbasids' lack of awareness in this regard and, by rejecting and refusing their ideas, pretended that he was really a friend and well-wisher of the Household (as).

Imam Jawad's (as) Positioning against Ibn Aktham

As we mentioned before, Imam Jawad (as) entered a jurisprudential discussion with Yahya bin Aktham so that Yahya's scientific weaknesses would be manifest to the people. Through these debates, Imam Jawad (as) was seeking targets which were as follows:

Firstly: Imam Jawad (as) was living in a society where an opponent group was always trying to put forward propaganda against him, saying that Imam Jawad (as) was ignorant about religion and was merely a young child. Therefore, by entering the debating sessions with the greatest scientific people of his era, Imam Jawad (as) let the people become about his Imamah and great knowledge.

Secondly: Since Yahya bin Aktham was chief justice and the leading jurisprudent of al-Mamun's government, defeating him meant defeating the whole system. This is why Imam Jawad (as) debated with him about scientific matters and, despite his young age, showed his supremacy over Yahya.

Thirdly: By taking part in such debating sessions, Imam (as) spread awareness among the people and let them gain the correct wisdom and knowledge.

Imam Jawad (as) in the Reign of al-Mamun

After Imam al-Rida's (as) martyrdom in 203 A.H. during the time of al-Mamun's rule, the post and responsibility of the nation's leadership was given to Imam Jawad (as). Al-Mamun died in 218 A.H.[252] in“Badandun” in Rome. His body was then taken to Tus for burial.[253]

Therefore, Imam Jawad (as) was a contemporary of al-Mamun during the first fifteen years of his life. In fact, he spent most of his life as Imam (as) in the ruling period of al-Mamun.

2. Al-Mu'tasim Abbasi

According to al-Thahabi, Abu Ishaq, Muhammad bin Harun al-Rashid, known as al-Mu'tasim, was born in 180 A.H. However, according to Sauli, al-Mu'tasim was born in the month of Sha'ban in 178 A.H. His mother was Umm Walad [a slave girl] whose real name was Marida. She was very dear to Harun.

Al-Mu'tasim was very brave and courageous, but he was illiterate. He was called ‘Mu'tasim’ [holding fast the string of Allah] while he was far away from this. He was morally corrupt. He had a slave named ‘Ujayb’ to whom he was emotionally attached.[254]

He continued the way of his brother regarding the creation of the Qur'an and passed his life in testing the scholars about this issue. He had letters written to every part of the country and ordered the teachers and coaches to teach this issue to the children and students. The people suffered in this regard. He killed many scholars who did not listen to him about the issue in question. One of the scholars punished was Ahmad bin Hanbal, who was tortured because he had disagreed with the issue of the creation of the Qur'an. It has been said that he [Ahmad] was beaten so badly that he became unconscious and the skin of his body was removed. He was then made captive and imprisoned.[255]

Mu'tasim was a dogmatist and very cruel in his behaviour towards his political and other opponents. He had little experience in governing the country. His government experienced great chaos and there was discord throughout the country.[256]

Al-Mu'tasim, whose mother was a Turk, assembled a Turkish army and gave them a large amount of money. The Turks took the charge of government into their own hands. By this action, al-Mu'tasim raised the feeling of resentment among the Arabs and developed the issue of tribalism in Islamic society. These politics were the greatest challenge the Abbasid government had ever experienced. After al-Mu'tasim came to power, the situation became worse and the danger from the Turkish army increased daily. Every caliph who tried to limit his authority faced military revolt.

Al-Mu'tasim and Alert Forerunners

The acute intellectual contradiction, caused by different spiritual loyalties and understanding between, on the one hand the Imams (as) with their faithful Shia believers and, on the other hand, the Abbasid government and their followers, became the cause for the continuation of enmity between the dual guidelines of the Household (as) and the Abbasids. This enmity kept changing its face and appeared in a new shape in every era; sometimes it became strong and on other occasions it appeared to weaken depending on the circumstances. Al-Mu'tasim also continued vengeful politics against the members of the Household (as) as had his father and forefathers before him. He set up a battlefield against Islam and its rightful path. However, he had to face direct opposition from the Household (as) and their Shia believers. The revolts led by the Alawites will be studied in subsequent chapters.

Imam Jawad (as) and al-Mu'tasim

Imam Jawad (as) lived only two years of his life under the reign of al-Mu'tasim. Finally, he was, also, martyred by the same distorted governing system. It seems necessary here to study the relationship between Imam Jawad (as) and al-Mu'tasim:

1. Calling Imam Jawad (as) to Baghdad

Imam Jawad's (as) living in Madinah was making al-Mu'tasim concerned because he perceived Imam Jawad (as) as a great danger to himself. That was why he ordered Imam Jawad (as) to come to Baghdad so that he could watch his every move. Imam Jawad (as) left for Baghdad when he heard of al-Mu'tasim's order. He arrived in the capital of al-Mu'tasim's government only two days before the end of the month of Muharram in 220 A.H; and passed from the world in the month of Dhil-Qa'dah in the same year.[257]

2. Planning for Imam's (as) assassination

The useful leadership of Imam Jawad (as) had turned him into a great danger for al-Mu'tasim's government because the governmental system was considering the possibility of a link between all the movements of the Islamic Ummah and Imam Jawad (as). Therefore, they wished to be rid of the Imam (as).

Zarqan, a close friend of Abu Dawud, said, 'One day, he (Abu Dawud) returned from al-Mu'tasim in distress. I asked him what the matter was and he said, 'A thief confessed that he had committed a theft and the caliph wanted to purify him by punishing him. He gathered the jurisprudents together and sent for Muhammad bin Ali (al-Jawad). He asked us how the thief's hand would be cut. I said, 'His hand should be cut from the wrist because Allah has said when talking on Tayammum:

فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ

“…And wipe your faces and your hands.” [258]

Some jurisprudents agreed with me on that and others said, 'The hand must be cut from the elbow.' Al-Mu'tasim asked what their evidence was and they said, 'Allah has said:

...فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ

“…Wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows…” [259]

Then, al-Mu'tasim turned to Muhammad bin Ali and asked him, 'O Abu Ja’far, what do you say on that?

He said, 'O Amir al-Mu'minin, the jurisprudents have talked about that.'

Al-Mu'tasim said, 'Leave what they have said aside. What do you have to say?'

Imam al-Jawad (a.s) said, 'O Amir al-Mu'minin, would you exempt me from that?'

Al-Mu'tasim said, 'I adjure you by Allah that you tell what you have.'

Imam al-Jawad (a.s) said, 'Now, since you have put me on oath, I will say. They (the jurisprudents) are mistaken. Only the fingers should be cut from the joints of their origins and the palm should be left safe.'

Al-Mu'tasim asked about the evidence and Imam al-Jawad (a.s) said, 'The messenger of Allah (sawas) said, 'Prostration is on seven organs; the face, the two hands, the two knees and the two feet.' Then, if his hand is cut from the wrist or the elbow, he shall not have a hand to prostrate on it and Allah has said,“The places of worship (prostration) are for Allah” meaning these seven places that one prostrates on:

فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّـهِ أَحَدًا

“So pray not unto anyone along with Allah.” [260]

What is for Allah is not cut.' Al-Mu'tasim approved this answer and ordered the hand of the thief to be cut from the joints of fingers without the palm.

Zarqan added that Abu Dawud said,“After three days, I went to al-Mu'tasim and said to him, 'Being loyal to Amir al-Mu'minin is obligatory on me. I will tell you about something that I know for which I may go to Hell (if I do not tell it).' Al-Mu'tasim said, 'What is it?' I said, Amir al-Mu'minin had gathered in his meeting the jurisprudents and ulama of his subjects for a serious matter of religion. He asked them about the verdict on it and they told him of the verdict they had. Your family, leaders, viziers and scribes had attended the meeting and the people outside had also heard of it. Then all the sayings of these jurisprudents and ulama were brushed aside just for one man's word; a group of the nation believe in his Imamah and claim that he is worthier of your position than you, and then his suggestion is followed and preferred to the verdicts of the jurisprudents.' Al-Mu'tasim changed colour and noticed what I drew his attention to. He said, ‘May Allah reward you with good for your advice.’”

When the fourth day came, he ordered one of his ministers to invite Imam Jawad (as) to his home. However, Imam Jawad (as) did not accept his invitation and said:“You know that I do not come to your gatherings.”

The minister said:“I am inviting you only for food. I wish you had come to our house and walked on our carpet so that with your feet in our house both our house and my body would become blessed. Then a certain minister [whose name he mentioned] would like to see you.”

Imam (as) accepted the invitation of the minister; went to his house and sat at the tablecloth. He had just eaten some food when he realised the food was poisonous. At that time, Imam (as) asked for his horse so as to leave the place. The owner of the house insisted he did not leave. Imam (as) said to him:“It is better for you if I leave the place now. Then he passed the day and night in illness and at last passed from the world.[ 261]

Imam Jawad (as) knew very well that he would be martyred after this invitation. Ismail bin Mihran says: When Imam Jawad (as) was taken to Baghdad from Madinah for the first time, I said to him:“I am afraid for you during this journey. If something happens to you, who will be the next Imam (as)?

Ismail bin Mihran says: “Imam looked at me with a smile on his face and said: “What you have thought about is not going to happen this year.” But when Imam was (as) taken to Baghdad for the second time by Mu'tasim, I met him and asked:“May I be ransom! Now that you are going, please tell us who will be the next Imam? I observed that Imam Jawad (as) started weeping. He wept so much that his beard and moustache became wet. Then he looked at me and said: “This time you should be afraid for me. Therefore, you should know that after me the Imamah will belong to my son Ali.” [262]

Imam Jawad's (as) presence was a great danger to the Abbasid caliph. al-Mu'tasim, who thought him to be the greatest danger to his government, was looking to remove him with the least loss. After much thought he chose Umm Fadhl, the daughter of al-Mamun and wife of Imam Jawad (as), as the best option for fulfilling his evil plan. According to al-Mu'tasim, Umm Fadhl was the one who could easily kill Imam Jawad (as) without fear of the people's revolt or complaining. Al-Mu'tasim was seeing in Umm Fadhl two things which could turn out to be very useful motives for Umm Fadhl to kill Imam Jawad (as):

Firstly: Umm Fadhl had a strong relation with the Abbasid dynasty; because, on one hand, she was the daughter of al-Mamun and, on the other hand, the present caliph al-Mu'tasim was his uncle. Also, she was not so strong in her religious beliefs as to be able to neglect any kind of relationship for the truth. Therefore, she would easily accept al-Mu'tasim's offer and would make it practicable about Imam Jawad (as).

Secondly: she was very jealous of Imam Jawad (as); because she did not have any children. On the other hand, Imam Jawad (as) had other wives, one of whom had given birth to Imam Hadi (as). Also her jealousy was not unknown to the people. The historians have said in this regard: It is said that Umm Fadhl wrote a letter to her father, in which she complained about her husband Imam Jawad (as). She said:“He has other wives while I am his wife and this is what making me jealous of him.”

Al-Mamun wrote back to his daughter:“I did not marry you to him to make lawful things unlawful for him. Do not write such things to me any more.”

Certainly in this age, Imam Jawad (as) was a target of degrading and governmental encroachments an example of which is given in the following:

Amr bin Faraj Rakhji was a vengeful person towards the Household (as) of the Prophet (sawas). He had a post in the Abbasid government. Historians have quoted him from Muhammad bin Sinan as saying: Once I went to see abu al-Hasan (as). He said,“O Muhammad, has something happened to the family of al-Faraj (the governor of al-Madina)?” I said,“Yes, 'Umar (a member of al-Faraj family) has died.” The Imam (as) said,“All thanks and praise belongs to Allah.” He said it twenty-four times. I then said,“My Master if I had known it would make you this happy I would have come running barefoot with the news (to congratulate you).” The Imam (as) said,“Do you not know what he - may Allah condemn him - once said to Muhammad ibn Ali, my father?” The narrator said that I said,“No, I do not know it.” The Imam (as) said,“He spoke to my father about an issue and then said to him, “I think you are drunk.” My father then said,“O Lord you know that I have been fasting this day, so make him taste a war, and the humiliation of captivity” . By Allah, in just a few days his belongings were looted and he was captured and dead - may Allah deprive him of His mercy.[263]

Imam Jawad's (as) Martyrdom

We have already talked about al-Mu'tasim's motives in martyring Imam Jawad (as) and Umm al-Fadhl's part in this great crime. In addition to the above reasons which were put into effect by al-Mu'tasim, another thing which made Umm al-Fadhl kill her husband, Imam Jawad (as), was the motivation of her father al-Mamun.

Abu Nasrani writes: Hakima, the daughter of Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far (as) [the paternal aunt of Imam Hassan Askari (as)] said to me:“when Muhammad bin Ali al-Rida (as) passed from the world, I went to Umm Isa, the daughter of al-Mamun to express my condolences. She was very sad and was anxious about Imam Jawad (as). She was crying so much that I feared she would not live any longer and would die. Then we talked about his generosity, good morals, honour, sincerity and respect which Allah had given him. Suddenly Umm Isa said: Should I say something more wonderful, great and unspeakable?

I said: What is that?

She said: I always kept an eye on him and kept him under my observation. Sometimes, he said something for which I complained to my father, but he said to me: “O my daughter! Be good to him for he is a part of the Prophet's (sawas) body.”

One day a woman came to me. I asked:“Who are you?”

She said:“I am one of the offspring of Ammar bin Yasir and I am the wife of your husband, Muhammad bin Ali al-Rida (as).”

I was so jealous of her that it was unbearable. I was about to leave the house and I wanted to degrade her because I was being misled by Satan. However, I controlled my feelings and did not show any kind of anger towards her. I respected her and gave her some clothes. When she was gone, I went to my father and mentioned everything to him. My father, who was drunk, shouted: O slave! Bring me the sword.” The sword was brought. My father sat on the back of his horse and said:“By God, I will kill him.”

I saw what was going on. I said:“We belong to Him and to Him is our return.” In what great danger have I placed myself and my husband? Then I started beating my cheeks. My father went to him [Imam Jawad (as)] and cut him to pieces. I also ran behind him in great fear. When the day came, I went to my father and said to him:“do you know what you did yesterday?”

He said:“What did I do?”

I said:“You killed the son of al-Rida (as).”

My father's eyes sparked and he fell unconscious. When he came to his senses, he said to me:“Woe unto you, what are you saying?”

I said:“O my father, by God the truth is what I told you. You went to him and killed him with repeated attacks of your sword.”

On hearing this, my father was very anxious. He ordered to call Yasir, the servant.

Yasir came. My father said to him:“Woe unto you for what my daughter is saying.”

Yasir said:“O commander of the faithful, she is telling the truth.”

When al-Mamun heard this, he started beating his face and chest saying:“We belong to Him and to Him is our return.” By God, now we have to face everlasting destruction, stigma and dishonour. Woe unto you, O Yasir! Just go and inquire about him. Then come and inform me because I am about to die.”

Yasir went out to do as he commanded. I was still beating my face. It was only after a while when Yasir came back and said to al-Mamun:“O commander of the faithful! I have good news for you!”

My father said:“What is the good news?”

Yasir said:“I went to see him. I found him wearing a cloth and a coverlet and he was brushing his teeth. I said my greetings to him and said: “O son of the Prophet (sawas)! I want you to give me your coverlet so that I offer my prayer on it and make my body blessed with it.” I asked him for it so that I would see whether or not there were signs of a sword on his body. He gave the coverlet to me and I saw his body was white and bright and just a little pale [and was completely fine].”

My father al-Mamun wept for a while. Then he said:“After this [miracle] there remains nothing [to reject]; and this affair is a lesson for me for the first and the last time. Then he said to Yasir: O Yasir, what I remember is that I asked for a sword to be brought and I sat on the back of my horse and went to him. Also I remember when I left him. However, I do not remember anything about what happened in between and about how I came back to my court. May Allah curse this girl ever after!

O Yasir, just go to her and say to her on my behalf: from now on if you come to me and complain about him [Imam Jawad (as)] or if you go out without his permission, I will take out his revenge on you. Then go to Ibn al-Rida (as). Take twenty thousand dinars from the treasure house along with the horse which I rode yesterday and give them to him. Then he commanded the Hashimites to meet Imam (as) and pay their respects to him.

Yasir said: “I informed the Hashimites about al-Mamun's command and accompanied them to Imam (as) and we paid our respects to him. Then I mentioned al-Mamun's greetings to him and put the dinars in front of him and I showed him the horse of al-Mamun. He looked at the horse for a while and then smiled. He said: “O Yasir! Has he attacked me in this way before? Does he not know that I have a defender who has protected me from his harm; and who will always be between me and him?”

I said:“O my Master! O son of the Prophet (sawas)! Let it go and forgive him. I swear upon Allah and I swear upon your grandfather the Prophet of Allah (sawas) that he did not know what he was doing and where he was on this earth [because of being drunk]. He has sincerely sworn and has distributed charity not to be drunk anymore because he has understood that wine is a snare of Satan. O son of the Prophet (sawas), when you go to him, do not mention anything about what has happened and do not reproach him for it.

The Imam (as) said: “By God I was going to do the same.”

Then he asked for his clothes, put them on and stood up. The people who were there also stood with him. Then he went to al-Mamun. When al-Mamun saw him, he stood and embraced him and welcomed him. Then al-Mamun did not allow anyone else to visit him and start talking with Imam Jawad (as) in secret. He asked Imam (as) to ask for anything and it would be provided. When their discussion was about to finish, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali al-Rida (as) said:“O commander of the faithful!

Al-Mamun said: “I am at your service, just order whatever you want.”

Imam (as) said:“I want to give you advice and I want you to accept it.”

Al-Mamun said:“O son of the Prophet (sawas)! You may to be praised. What is that advice?”

Abu Ja’far (as) said:“I want you not to come out of your home at night because I do not find you to be secure from these mean people's harm. And I have a prayer for you with which you will remain safe from all calamities, evils, pests, diseases and hardships; and even if you are among the Roman and Turkish forces and if they do their best, even then they will not be able to defeat you with the help of God; as Allah protected me from you the last day. If you like I will send it for you so that you will remain safe and sound from what I just said.”

Al-Mamun said:“Yes. Write it in your own handwriting and then send for me.” Abu Ja’far also accepted it.

Yasir says:“The next morning, Abu Ja’far called for me and when I arrived in his presence, he asked for a piece of deer's skin and wrote the prayer on it. Then he said: “O Yasir, take it for Amir al-mu'minin and say to him [on my behalf]: “Take a silver cylinder and write on it what I am going to say. Then whenever you want to tie it on your arm, take Wudhu first and offer four rak'ats prayers. During each Rak'at recite Surat Hamd once, Ayat al-Kursi [264] seven times, the verse “shah i d allah…[ 265] seven times, Surat Shams seven times [266] ,Surat Lail [267] seven times and Surat Tawhid [268] seven times. Then tie it on your right arm against hardships; and Inshallah it will protect you from whatever you fear. If you go to fight against the Romans, God willing it will bring you a triumph against them, too. [Do not forget] to bind it on your arm when the moon rises in “Qamar dar Aqrab”.

It is said:when al-Mamun heard about the qualities of this amulet, he attacked Rome and with the help of God was victorious against the Romans. A large amount of war booty was gained through this war. He kept it with him in all his battles and wars and continued to enjoy the blessings of Allah. With Allah's blessing, he was victorious on every battlefield.” [269]

According to historians, by killing Imam (as), Umm Fadhl committed her greatest crime. History says:“al-Mu'tasim was looking for a plan to kill Abu Ja’far (as). Since he knew that Umm Fadhl disliked him and was very angry with him [because she knew about his other wives], he found her appropriate for this crime. Umm Fadhl also accepted his offer. She poisoned some grapes and placed them before Abu Ja’far. Abu Ja’far also ate some of them. At that time, Umm Fadhl felt sorry for what she had done. Therefore, she started weeping and crying. Abu Ja’far asked her: “Why are you crying? By God you will be the victim of irreparable poverty and diseases which you will not be able to hide.”

As was cursed by Abu Ja’far, disease attacked Umm Fadhl's lower body and she spent everything she had on curing her disease and became very poor. She was so poor that her relatives gave some money feeling sorry for her poverty. At last she died of the same disease.”[270]

After eating the grapes provided by Umm Fadhl, Imam Jawad (as) was poisoned and passed from the world as a martyr. Till the very end of his life, he did not forget Allah the Almighty even for a moment and kept mentioning His name. With his death, another shining star from the Household (as) went dark. Although it appeared to be the jealousy of a woman which was the cause of Imam Jawad's (as) death in fact it was the battle of right and wrong which made this crime become written in the pages of history. The idolatrous al-Mu'tasim could not tolerate the righteousness and truthfulness of Imam Jawad (as); therefore, he killed him. By martyring Imam Jawad (as), he removed another person from the Household of the Prophet (sawas) who was making thoughts shine and who was enlightening the whole world with the light of knowledge and virtue.

Funerals and Burial

The holy corpse of Imam al-Jawad (as) was prepared, washed and enshrouded. Al-Wathiq (later Abbasid caliph) and al-Mu'tasim offered the prayer (for the dead) on the holy corpse.[271] The corpse of this great imam was carried to the graveyard of Quraysh escorted by great crowds of people. It was a memorable day and Baghdad had not witnessed a day like it before. Tens of thousands had gathered in a sad procession mentioning the virtues of this great imam and mourning him and thinking of the great loss Muslims had had to suffer.

A grave was dug beside that of his grandfather Imam Musa bin Ja’far al-Kadhim (as) (in Baghdad) and he was buried in it and human values and high ideals were buried with him.[272]

Abu Ja’far Mashhadi narrated from Muhammad bin Raziiah who narrated it from the teacher of Imam Abu al-Hasan Hadi (as):“One day he [Imam Hadi (as)] had the tablet [a table or something made of leather] in his hand and was reading it. Suddenly, he threw it away and stood in great fear saying: “We belong to Him and to Him is our return.” By God, my father has just passed from the world.

I said to him: How did you know that he has passed from the world?

He said: With Allah's blessing, nothing is hidden to us.”

I said:“Then [it is for sure that] he has passed from the world.”

He said:“Leave these discussions and let me go into the room. I will return. And then ask me anything about the Qur'an and I will answer you.

Then he went into the room. I was very anxious about him. Therefore, I also followed him.

It was said that Abu al-Hasan went into the room and closed the door. He said to me: Do not let anyone in until I come back to you.

After a while, Imam came out of the room with a different situation. He kept saying: “We belong to Him and to Him is our return.”

I said to him:“May I be ransom, has your father died?”

Imam said:“Yes he has. I washed him and enshrouded him; and no one else has to do it except me.”

Then he said:“Leave these matters and ask me about the verses of the holy Qur'an. I will also interpret them if you want me to.

I said: “Recite Surat A'raf. He recited it after “Isti'aza”

وَإِذْ نَتَقْنَا الْجَبَلَ فَوْقَهُمْ كَأَنَّهُ ظُلَّةٌ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُ وَاقِعٌ بِهِمْ خُذُوا مَا آتَيْنَاكُم بِقُوَّةٍ وَاذْكُرُوا مَا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ﴿١٧١﴾


Saying: In the name of Allah; the Beneficent, the Merciful. When we plucked the mountain (and held it as if it were a canopy) and they thought it was about to fall on them. Hold on with power to what we have given you and remember that which is in it, so that you may be fearful of God. [274]

The Date of Death of Imam (as)

It is believed that Imam Jawad (as) lived for twenty years.[275] He was the youngest person among all Imams (as). He passed his whole life trying to bring honour and respect for Islam and the Muslims; also in calling the people towards oneness of God, faith and belief in Him and piety. He died with and for the same purpose. He met the High Comrade on Tuesday the fifth of Dhil-Qa'dah in 220 A.H. There are other traditions and narrations, too, which mention his death in the last days of the month of Dhil-Qa'dah, the sixth of Dhil-Hajjah and five days before the end of Dhil-Hajjah respectively.[276]

May peace be upon him on the day he was born, and on the day he took the responsibility of Imamah during his childhood and on the day when he was martyred; also on the day when he will be made alive once again in the court of his Lord.