Imam Musa bin Ja'far al-Sadiq bin Muhammad al-Baqir bin Ali Zain al-Abideen bin Hussein bin Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) is the son of the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and the man who was born into a family known for its honour and lofty glory. His father, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.), was the Imam of Muslims, the mas ter of ulama' and fuqaha', and the leading unchallenged master of the descendants of Imam Ali (a.s.).
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) inherited his father's Imamate and great stature. He is the seventh Imam of the Imams of the Ja'fari (twelve Imams) school of thought. His mother, Hamidah, was a freed slave-girl, who hailed from Andalus. It is said she was a Berber, or, as others maintain, a Roman, but she was most likely of an Andalusian extraction. She was nicknamed "Lu'lu'ah" (Pearl). Imam Muhammad al-Baqir bought her and presented her as a gift of his son al-Sadiq, who married her. She gave birth to Imam Musa bin Ja'far al-Kadhim (a.s.). Abu-Abdullah Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) paid special attention to Hamidah's education. As a result she became a leading faqih. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) assigned her to educate women, and steer them to Islam's teachings, beliefs, and concepts.
Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) was born under the caliphate of the Umayyad tyrant Abdul-Malik bin Marwan, at al-Abwa', the very place where the mother of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.), Aminah, the daughter of Wahab, had passed away and was buried. It is located midway between the cities of Makkah and Madinah.
On Sunday, Safar 7, 128 A.H., little Musa opened his eyes to the world. The good news of his birth was given to his father while having lunch with a group of his companions. Happy and overflowing with paternal love and kindness, he rushed to see his newborn son. Not long after that Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) left al-Abwa' to Madinah. According to Arab tradition on the birth of a child, he invited people to a great feast for three days. People flooded to the presence of the Imam (a.s.) to congratulate him. He couldn't resist making public his overwhelming love for his child. He welcomed him by saying, "I wish I had no son other than him, so that nobody would share my love for him."
The father knew how great the baby would be, and what a leading role he would play in the world of Islam. He would be a great Muslim leader who would do his best to serve the Divine Message.
Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) lived under the care of his father, and learned from the school of his father, to which the scholars, jurisprudents, philosophers and preachers flocked. He inherited from his father his knowledge, manners and morals.
He came to epitomize high morals, generosity, asceticism, patience, bravery, perseverance and jihad. During the Imamate of his father he directed his attention to acquiring knowledge, and after his father's death, he shouldered the responsibility of leading the ummah.
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) emphasized this fact, and praised his son by saying, "Praise is due to Allah Who made you a substitute for my parents, a source of delight among my sons, and a replacement for my friends."
Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) earned many nicknames for his great status among the people and his unique refined character. He was called al-'Abd al-Salih (The Good Servant) for his perfect character and manners, Zain al-Mujtahideen (The Ornament of Toilers) for his lengthy worship and supplication, al-Kadhim (The one who curbs his Anger) for his extreme endurance, patience and bravery in the face of adversities, his curbing of pain and anger, and for being kind to those who harassed him, Bab al-Ha-wa'ij (The Gateway to Satisfaction of peoples' needs) for his great position in the sight of Allah, and the fulfillment of one's desires and needs when one beseeches Allah, invoking his name. He was called also Abul-Hassan al-Awwal (Father of Hassan I) and Abu-Ibrahim (Father of Ibrahim).
People described him as being fair-skinned, handsome and thin.
He lived twenty years, or nineteen years according to another version, in the shade of his father, but remained, as Imam of the ummah, thirty-five years after his father. He first took on that responsibility at the age of 20.
His sons and daughters were numerous. His sons were Ali al-Ridha, Ibrahim, al-Abbas, al-Qasim, Isma'il, Haroon, al-Hassan, Ahmad, Muhammad, Hamzah, Abdullah, Ishaq, Ubaydullah, Zayd, al-Fadhi, and Sulayman.
His daughters were Fatimah al-Kubra, Fatimah al-Sughra, Ruqayyah, Hakimah, Umm-Abiha, Ruqayyah al-Sughra, Kaltham, Umm-Ja'far, Lubabah, Zainab, Khadijah, Aliyyah, Aminah, Hassnah, Burayhah, A'ishah, Umm-Salamah, Maymoonah, Umm-Kulthoom.
Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) were a school and a well-connected chain. It appears purely transparent to the researcher, if studied from the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) to the Mahdi of the ummah. The history of Islam, with its values, its war against its enemies concepts about life, rule, politics, and shari'ah, points to this fact, and outlines this school. That is why any of the Ahlul-Bait Imams (a.s.) appoint the Imam who succeeds him. Likewise, Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) appointed his son Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.), as his successor. Numerous statements concerning this appointment exist, but we have chosen the following:
"Mansoor bin Hazim went to see Imam Abu-Abdullah, and asked him to specify the Imam who would succeed him. 'May my father and mother be your ransom', said he, 'souls shall certainly taste death. If that is to be, then who will succeed you? said the Imam, pointing to , 'This is your man', Abul-Hassan Musa. Then he placed his hand on the shoulder of his son, as a gesture of emphasis. Musa was, at the time, five years old."
Yazid bin Saleet al-Zaydi is reported to have said; "On our way to Makkah, we, a number of travellers, met Abu-Abdullah (a.s.). 'May my father and mother be your ransom', said I to him 'You are the purified Imams. And nobody can escape death. So tell me something which I may convey to sons and relatives. 'Yes', replied he, 'these are my sons, and this one is their master. And he pointed to Musa (a.s.), his son.nll The period during which he assumed Imamate was the worst, the most brutal and troublesome for Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and the downtrodden. But the Imam endured all the atrocities with his perseverance, patience, and courage. For his ability to contain his sorrow, pain and suffering, he won the nickname of al- Kadhim.
The Devoted Worshipper
When a Muslim knows little about Allah, and has no idea about his relationship with his Lord, he ends up confused, troubled, uncertain which way to take, with no stable and satisfactory relationship with Allah. Such condition is expressed in laziness, the lack of desire to perform the religious obligations, the disrupt of one's tie with Allah, the emergence of a troubled, confused character, torn apart by low desires and the values and ideals of Islam. To the contrary, the man who is near to Allah, enjoys a strong desire to keep himself close to Him, as He is the source of grace and perfection in this world. Such a man knows the path he treads, holds firmly to monotheism, faithfully worships his Lord, and his Lord alone. He feels he is above worldly gains, and trivial pleasures, tied to the Exalted Allah.
The secret behind the greatness of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) and their perfection, which sets them aside from the rest of people, is their divine knowledge, and their absolute devotion to the One and Only Allah, the embodiment of grace and absolute, pure perfection. They were whole-heartedly devoted to Allah, fully grasping the monotheistic concepts which were reflected clearly in their conduct, attitudes, and deeds. It isn't surprising then to see them refrain from enjoying this world's pleasures, thinking little of them, when they contradict the principles of right and the march of the Imams towards perfection. It comes as no surprise also to see devotion to Allah, and true humbleness encompass the heart of the Imam, and direct his feelings, desires and aspirations. Is it a surprise then that Imam Musa bin Ja'far won the nicknames of Zain al-Mujtahideen and al-Abd al-Salih. He who spends his days and nights in worship and deep thought, risking being thrown in the terrible prisons, overlooking the pleasures of life, giving out himself and his wealth so as to win Allah's pleasure, working hard to save humanity and guiding it on the right path?
History portrays the relationship between Imam al-Kadhim and Allah, his worship, asceticism and unique spiritual character. He was, as his father and grandfathers were, educated and brought up to love the Qur'an and live it, as it is the Book of Allah, the "container. of the revelation, and the source of every good and guidance.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) was in the habit of reciting the Qur'an. He was at pains to learn it by heart, recite it, act in accordance with its teachings, and hold onto its message and methodology.
He was impressed by the Qur'an whenever he read it. The verses would move him to tears.
It was said that: "He was the best one among the memorizers of the Book of Allah, the Exalted. He had a mellifluous voice when he recited the Qur'an. When he recited the Qur'an, those present would be so moved that they would break into tears for merely listening to him. People in the city of Madinah called him 'The Ornament of the Toilers.'"
His closeness to Allah, his longing to meet Him and his endeavours to please Him, made him journey to the Sacred House of Allah on foot. It was reported that he had gone to Makkah, along with his brother, Ali bin Ja'far, four times on foot. It took 26 days for him to reach Makkah the first time, 25 days the second time, 24 days the third time, and 21 days the fourth time.
As for his prayer, he was unmatched. The devoted and pious ones followed his example. It is said that "When he stood in the presence of Allah, to perform his prayer, tears would roll down his face."
He used to ask Allah's for giveness and thank Him for his graces. Ibrahim bin al- Bilad said, "Abul-Hassan said to me; 'I ask Allah 's forgiveness five thousand times a day.'"
Hisham bin Ahmar is reported to have said: "I was riding with Abul-Hassan (Musa bin Ja'far) on a street in Madinah when he dismounted and prostrated. He remained so, motionless, for a lengthy period of time. Then he raised his head and remounted. "May I be your ransom", asked I. "I saw you going down in a long prostration?" He replied; 'I remembered a grace which Allah favoured me with. I loved to thank my Lord for it."
Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) was a pious, monotheistic saint. His heart was brimming with love for Allah. The most of Allah's beloved things for him was worship and the remembrance of Allah. He (a.s.) wished that Allah would grant him an opportunity to serve Him. One of the spies placed in the prison with the Imam, to keep a watchful eye on him, reported to the governor Isa bin Ja'far, that he had heard the Imam (a.s.) saying, "O my Lord, You know that Ihad been asking you to spare me time to devote myself to Your service. You have done that. Praise be to You."
The Imam (a.s.) would not think much of jails. Nor would he get bored by them. He simply didn't fear the rulers, his opponents. He was towering over this life, lofty and high, no jail would deter or intimidate him. He had given up the pleasures of life, for a more sublime goal, to defend the right, and serve his Lord.
He considered prison life a divine favour. It is reported that al-Rasheed would sit in a place overlooking the prison. He saw the Imam in prostration. "What is that garment?", al-Rasheed asked al-Rabi', "which I see everyday on that spot?" Al- Rabi' replied; 'It is not a garment. That is Musa bin Ja'far. He prostrates every day from sunrise until noon'".
It was no secret that the Imam (a.s.) loved to serve Allah devotedly and wholeheartedly. Historians and biographers wrote about his worship and prayer.
"It became widely known among people that Abul-Hassan Musa was the highest in status from among al-Sadiq's sons, the most devoted in his faith, and the most fluent in expressing his mind. Not only was he the most devoted in his worship among the people, but he was also the most well-versed man in Islamic sciences and jurisprudence. It is reported that he would perform the optional prayers of the night until the morning prayer. He would perform it and remain awake reciting some supplications until sunrise. He then would go down in prostration during which he praised, thanked and glorified Allah, and would not lift his head until it was noon. He said, in his prostration: "The sin of your servant is shamefully ugly. Let your forgiveness and pardon be bountiful"
Quoting al-Irshad (guidance), a book authored by Sheikh al-Mufid, the author of Bihar al-Anwar (Seas of Lights), adds:
"He used to weep out of his fear of Allah until his beard got wet. He was distinguished by his care for his family and relatives, whom he would visit and help if they needed him. In the dead of night, he used to call on the poor people of Madinah, carrying to them, in a basket, gold Dinars and ordinary Dirhams, flour and dates. He would deliver all that to them without letting them know who he was, or who the donor was."
His foe and jailer acknowledged his religious devotion and piety. Al-Fadhl bin al- Rabi' quoted Haroon al-Rasheed as saying, "This is certainly a saint from the Hashimites; 'Then,' enquired I, 'why have you harassed him by throwing him into prison?' "Alas," replied he, "This is something I cannot resist doing."
Hafs reported from a number of tradition-transmitters, the following: "I have never seen a man more god-fearing than Musa bin Ja'far. Nor have I seen a man more hoping for Allah's kindness than he. His recitation of the Qur'an aroused sorrow (on the part of the listener.) It was as if he was addressing a human being when he read the Qur'an."
What a high-minded, devoted man was Imam al-Kadhim!
Giver of Forgiveness and Freedom:
"Those who spend in ease as well as in adversity and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon people. And Allah loves the doers of good (to others)." Holy Qur'an (3:133)
Islam aimed at liberating man, and making slaves enjoy the favour of freedom. For this grand civilized goal, Islam presented a set of concepts and values, teachings and laws. Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) contributed effectively to this cause. Imam Ali bin Hussein bin Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), for example, was called 'The Liberator of Slaves' due to the great number of slaves he bought and set free. Fatimah (a.s.), daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), the mother of the twelve Imams, sold her necklace and with the money she got she bought a slave and emancipated him for the sake of Allah. Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), likewise, set free numerous slaves. Historians narrated that once a young black slave, burdened with the shackles of slavery, and troubled by the yoke of bondage, longed for the fragrance of freedom, and the life of the free men. He found none to relieve him of his trouble other than the son of prophethood, al-Kadhim Musa bin Ja'far (a.s). Tongue-tied, the slave couldn't express his demand, so he presented a modest gift to the Imam (a.s.), The story is as follows:
"Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s.), accompanied by his entourage and some of his sons, left Yathrib (Madinah) for his farms at Sayah.
Before reaching their destination, they stopped to have some rest at a spot nearby. It was extremely cold. They were still resting when a black slave, speaking good Arabic, carrying a boiling pot on his head, approached them. He saw the servants of the Imam (a.s.) and asked them:
"Where is your master?"
"Over there" said they pointing to the Imam (a.s.).
"Abul-Hassan," said they.
They he stepped forward and imploringly said to Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s.):
"This is sweetmeat. It is my present to you, sir."
Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s.) accepted his present and asked him to hand it to the servants. The black slave did so and went away. It was not long before he returned carrying a bunch of firewood. He went over to the Imam (a.s.) and said:
"This is firewood. It is my present to you, sir."
The Imam (a.s) accepted his present and ordered him to bring fire. The man instantly carried out Imam's order, whereupon the Imam (a.s.) ordered his name and the name of his master to be written down. He recommended that the name be kept at hand. Then, they proceeded to the farms where they stayed for a few days. From there they went to the Holy House of Allah. Having finished his umrah (Minor pilgrimage), the Imam (a.s.) ordered Sa'id to look for the master of the black slave.
"Should you find his house, tell me, so I may call on him. I hate to send for someone while I need him."
Sa'id went out. He searched for the man, and finally found him. He recognized him and learned that he was a Shi'ite. Sa'id approached and greeted him. The man asked if the Imam (a.s.) had come to Madinah, to which question Sa'id replied 'No.' The man then asked why had he come to the city. Sa'id told him that he had some business to do. Unconvinced, thinking that the Imam might be in the town after all, the man followed Sa'id who had bid him farewell. Sa'id felt the man following him, but tried in vain to evade him. Resigned, Sa'id walked with the man until they reached the Imam's residence. When both men went in, the Imam (a.s.) severely blamed Sa'id for telling the man about his arrival in Makkah. Sa'id apologized but said that he didn't tell the man about that, but the man himself had followed him, against his will. When the man seated himself, the Imam (a.s.) welcomed him and asked:
"Do you sell your slave?"
"May I be your ransom," said the man, "the slave, the farm, and all my property are all yours."
"As for the farm, I do not want to strip you of it," replied the Imam (a.s.).
The man pleaded with the Imam (a.s.) and entreated him to accept both the farm and the slave. The Imam (a.s.) turned his offer down. But finally he bought the slave's freedom and gave him the farm. With the blessing of the Imam (a.s.) Allah made the slave's business prosper until his sons became among Makkah's most wealthy men and money- changers."
The Imam (a.s.), history testifies, once bought a whole family of slaves, then he emancipated them.
Allamah al-Majlisi reports in his famous book 'Bihar al-Anwar' on the authority of al-Kafi, from a chain of transmitters:
"Muhammad bin Yahya reported on the authority of Muhammad bin Ahmad, on the authority of Ali bin al-Rayyan, on the authority of Ahmad bin Abi-Khalaf, a slave of Abul-Hassan whom the Imam (a.s.) had bought, along with his father, mother and brother and set them all free. Then he made a contract with Ahmad by which Ahmad became Imam's steward."
Kindness and Generosity:
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) is widely known for his kindness, altruism, generosity and his tendency to help the poor secretly and publically. He helped the people to solve their problems, set the slaves free, paid the debts of the indebted, and kept good relations with his relatives.
Sheikh al-Mufid, may Allah be pleased with him, explains, in his book "al-Irshad", Imam's attributes:
"Abul-Hassan was the most devoted worshipper among the people of his time, and the most versed in fiqh. He was the most generous, and the kindest of all people..." "He was very kind to his family and relatives, ready to help them when they needed him", added Sheikh al-Mufid. "In the dead of night, he used to call on the poor of Madinah, give them money and food secretly so that they did not known who he was."
Historians maintain that when someone reviled him or said something bad about him, the Imam (a.s.) would send a bag stuffed with 200-300 Dinars. Thus he returned the bad with good, lavishing his kindness on all people. Such bags were sent to the needy and indebted. The money- bags of Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) became proverbial."
About the generosity of Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) Muhammad bin Abdullah al- Bikri says:
"I came to Madinah seeking someone who would lend me some money. I found none. Why not go to Abul-Hassan and complain to him about my trouble?" I said to myself. Accordingly, I went to see him at a place called Niqma
where he had a farm. He came out with one of his servants carrying a sieve filled with veined, cured meat. I saw nothing else to be eaten. He set out eating and I followed suit. Then he asked me about my trouble, and I narrated my story. He went into the house, and returned shortly. 'Get off,' said he to his servant. He put out his hand with a bag of money. There were 300 Dinars in it. Then he rose to his feet and left me. I stood up, mounted my animal and left."
He used to forgive the wrongdoers, returning their bad behaviour with goodness. "When he heard someone talking evil of him, he sent him a moneybag filled with Dinars. Each bag contained nearly 200-300 Dinars."
An excellent instance of his tolerance and forgiveness is detailed in the following story:
"There was a man who used to revile Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) when he met Imam Musa bin Ja'far. He missed no chance of annoying him whenever he saw him. Some of Imam's servants and followers asked him to permit them to kill the man, but the Imam rejected this. Then he mounted his donkey, and went across the farm of the man, crushing the grass. 'Do not trample on the grass!' cried out the man. The Imam (a.s.) did not answer him. Drawing near the man, he dismounted, sat down and began talking kindly and humorously to the man. 'How much did you spend on this farm?' asked the Imam (a.s.). 'One hundred Dirhams,' replied the man, 'And what profit do you hope to gain?' inquired the Imam. 'I do not know,' said the man. 'I have asked you: how much do you hope to get?' repeated the Imam. 'An extra one hundred Dirhams,' answered the man. "The Imam (a.s) got out 300 Dinars from his pocket and handed them to him. The man, moved by Imam's gesture, rose to his feet and kissed the Imam (a.s.) on the head. When the Imam (a.s.), afterwards, entered the mosque, the man sprang up, greeted him, and said, Allah knows best whom to entrust with His message' 'What is that?' the friends of the man rebuked him. The man reviled them.
From that time on, the man began to stand up as a sign of reverence and greet Imam Musa (a.s.) whenever he entered the mosque. Imam Musa (a.s.) said to those who wanted to get rid of the man 'what was better, what you wanted or what I did?'"."
Such was Ahlul-Bait's (a.s.) manners, and their tolerance. This is one anecdote of numerous which reflects Imam's forgiveness, and the curbing of his anger. He was not called al-Abd al-Salih, Zayn al-Mujtahideen and al-Kadhim for nothing.
"We feed you, for Allah's pleasure only- We desire from you neither reward nor thanks."
Holy Qur'an (76..9)
Such generosity, forgiveness, openhandedness and love of freedom are different when they issue from the Imam (a.s.). Other people spend liberally, give lavishly, and grant boundlessly, but they do this only in pursuit of fame, social status, and the buying of other people's conscience.
As for the Imam (a.s.), his self is too serene and perfect to seek praise, social position and reputation. He did good, gave lavishly, helped the needy, and emancipated the slaves for the sake of Allah, demanding nothing in return.