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Publisher: www.winislam.com
ISBN: 81-87793-26-0


1st Edition 1998

2nd Edition 2000

3rd Edition 2005

ISBN: 81-87793-26-0

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Reprinted with the kind consent and permission

From Al-Balagh Foundation

The original publisher Distributed free of charge seeking Allah’s pleasure

Table of Contents

Introduction. 5



1. His Birth and Upbringing: 8

2. His Social Status: 9


1. Uprising of Zaid (121 A.H.): 13

2. Collapse of the Umayyad State (132 AH): 16

3. Uprising of Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan (al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah) (145 A.H.): 19


1. Scientific and Cultural Climate in Imam’s Era: 21

2. Imam’s Scientific Role: 21

3- Imam Sadiq’s School: 24

First: Defending Islamic Beliefs: 25

Secondly: Spreading Islam: 26


1. Knowledge: 28

2. Authenticity of Traditions: 28

3. Monotheism: 28

4. Guidance and Guidelines: 29

His Death: 30

Endnotes: 32

 “Never has the eye seen, nor the ear heard, nor the heart of a human being thought of anyone more virtuous, knowledgeable, devout, or pious than Ja’far al-Sadiq.”

Imam Malik bin Anas

In Manaqib Aale Abu Talib of Ibne Shahre Aaashob

“Whenever I looked at Ja’far bin Muhammad, I knew he was from Prophet’s ancestry.”

Umar bin al-Miqdam

Al Hilya of Abu Nai’m

This book is dedicated for the Isale Sawaab of

Adam Ali Mulla Ibrahim Jee

Fatima Bint Ali Bader

Batul Bint Shaikh Mohammed Ali

Alibhai Adam Ali

Sugra Bint Adam Ali

Please recite Surah Fateha for the Departed Soul


Praise be to Allah, the One and only God. Peace and the blessings of Allah be on Muhammad, the Lord of His servants, Ahlul-Bait, the Boat of salvation, the leaders of guidance from among his companions, and all those who supported and helped him, treaded the right path, and did not deviate.

The care the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w) lavished on his household, expressed in their education and upbringing, was not an emotional concern so much as an implementation of a decisive Divine order which he received from the Lord of the Worlds. He communicated the message, and brought mankind out of the darkness of atheism and polytheism into the light of monotheism and faith. Allah ordered His Messenger (s.a.w.) to say to the successive generations of mankind,

“...say (Muhammad): I demand not of you any recompense for it save the love of (my) relatives...”

Holy Qur’an (42:23)

Alas, they were compensated by being killed, tortured, and made homeless. Patiently and steadfastly they, along with their followers, faced tribulations and bitter trials in a heartrending way.

Some people stood against them out of ignorant spite, personal interests, trivial worldly gains, and in revenge for the killing of Abu-Jahl and Abu-Lahab. Up to now, the grandsons of the enemies of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) are still harbouring ill intentions against them. They may express their deep-seated hatred for Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) with their writings or through their followers. There were people who pretended to be loyal to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). At the same time, they fabricated myths and lies and attributed to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) fables and incredible stories about the unseen, which they were innocent of, until the Imams (a.s.) frankly said:

“By Allah, those who opposed us out of their hatred are not more harmful for us than those who ascribed to us what we never said about ourselves.”

The greatness of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) is manifested in their possession of “the honour of Islam.” They are of noble birth, descending from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). They were the most knowledgeable, being educated in the Prophetic school. And they had the honour of jihad, as they were patiently victimized and martyred.

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.), a branch of this big tree, the symbol of this pure household, perpetuated the message of his grandfather the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), by spreading Islamic sciences, and teaching fiqh and traditions.

 In the life of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) one can clearly see the call to justice before the tyrants, the announcement of right before the unjust and falsehood, and the heroic, wonderful steadfastness against the horrors of deviation and darkness.

In spite of all this, the flow of his knowledge filled the great scholars of Basrah, Kufah and central Hijaz with enlightenment. He illuminated the minds of such great leaders as Malik bin Anas, Abu-Hanifah, Ibn Uyaynah, Ibn Jurayh, Yahya bin Sa’d al-Ansari, Ayyub al-Sajistani, and many others who lived at that time.

As Al-Balagh Foundation presents, to its dear readers, this fragrant glimpse of the life of the Apostle’s grandson, the standard - bearer of his message, the renewer of Islam, the perpetuator of the originality of his call, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.). We beseech Allah to grant us success to call people to obey Him, lead the way in preaching the faith until Islam prevails, by which He may reward us with honour in this life and the hereafter. He is the Hearing and the Knowing.

Al-Balagh Foundation


Writing about Imam al-Sadiq bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.), the Imam of Muslims, the master of jurisprudence (fuqaha) and preachings, and the authority of scholars and intellectuals, is writing about a leading man from Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). He is a link in the chain of Imamate and the political and ideological leadership in the life of Muslims.

Introducing the Imam (a.s.) to the readers, specially those who know nothing about him, is part of the process of acquainting them with Ahlu-Bait (a.s.). A study of the life of any of the Imam (a.s.), from the household of the Prophet (a.s.w.), would disclose the common denominator in their lives and harmonious continuity of their role as the choice of Muslims’ Imams.

This brief study emphasizes, for the researchers interested in the lives of the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), that they have made a single history with clearly defined dimensions and roles perfectly assigned across successive periods of time throughout their lifetimes. Their mission was aimed at keeping the originality of Shari’ah and defending its entity. This will become crystal-clear through the concise study of the life of Imam Ja’far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.).

Since the study of any of the Islamic personalities, such as that of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), centers on the practical value of his personality, its ideological and historical role in the lives of Muslims in particular, and mankind in general, we have focussed, our study on this fact. We have tried to present a good, clearcut portrait of Imam Ja’far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.). We have divided the study into three main areas: Character, political conditions, and scholarly Status.


1. His Birth and Upbringing:

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is the son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir bin Ali al-Sajjad bin Hussein (a.s.) bin Ali Abi-Talib (a.s.). The Imam is a descendent of Fatimah al-Zahra, the daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) and Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, through Imam Hussein, the martyred grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).

The mother of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is Fatimah[1] , the daughter of al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi-Bakr. That is why Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: “Abu-Bakr begot me twice.”

As most authentic books insist, he was born in the city of Madinah, on the 17th day of the lunar month Rabi’ul Awwal[2] , in the year 83 A. H, during the rule of the Umayyad caliph, Abdul-Malik bin Marwan.

Imam Ja’far bin Muhammad (a.s.) was born and brought up under the care of his father, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), and his grandfather Imam Ali bin Hussein (Zain al-Abideen) (a.s.). From both men he learned the sciences of religion and the teachings of the Islam.

After the martyrdom of Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.), Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) was the Imam of Muslims. Before his martyrdom, he passed the Imamate to Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.). He became the authority of judges, scholars and preachers.

He graduated hundreds of scholars versed in Islamic sciences and Prophetic traditions. He made the mosque of Madinah a university to spread Islamic ideology. Scholars and preachers gave their testimonies in acknowledgement of his great standing and abundant knowledge.

On the authority of Ata’, a well-known scholar from the second generation, Sibt bin al-Jawzi says in his book Tadhkirat al-Khawas (Admonishing Prominent people):

“Never have I seen scholars less knowledgeable in the presence of a man like Abu-Ja’far al-Sadiq...”.[3]

Ibn Sa’d says:

“He was trustworthy, knowledgeable and the communicator of a plethora of traditions”.[4]

If we understood the status of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), under whose care Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was brought up and from whom he learned the teachings of Islam, and if we understand, through our study of the lives of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), that Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), was brought up and taught Islamic sciences by his father, Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.), that Imam al-Sajjad (a.s.) was nurtured by his father, Imam Hussein (a.s.), and that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was brought up and taught Islamic sciences by his father, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), and that Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib was brought up and taught by the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), we could see a greater meaning in his saying:

“I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate. Whoever seeks knowledge, let him enter through the gate.”[5]

Imam Ali (a.s.) is also praised by A’ishah, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), with these words:

“...He is certainly the most well-versed man in the Sunnah of the prophet” (reported by Abu-Umar).”[6]

If we could understand the transfer of knowledge from one Imam to the next, we would realize knowledge, one from the other, from the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.), and that their family life was framed with the same abundant knowledge, deep faith and morals. This understanding would lead us to the following facts:

A. The authenticity of the traditions, beliefs, teachings, Qur’anic exegesis, philosophy, etc., which the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) had conveyed to the people.

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) explained this truth in these words:

“I heard the traditions I communicate to you from my father. My father heard them from my grandfather. My grandfather heard them from his father. His father heard them from Ali bin Abi-Talib. Ali bin Abi-Talib heard them from the Apostle of Allah. And what traditions the Apostle of Allah had conveyed are the exact words of Allah, the Almighty and Most High.”[7]

B. Their lives, a chain of connected, interacted links, with no gap in between or a foreign factor piercing it, are directly tied up with the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).Thus, their lives were, in fact, a school and a vivid experience in which Islam was personified, its teachings implemented, and its principles defended. That all adds up to the authenticity of the source from which they took their knowledge and the originality of the thought of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).

If we understand all this, we would come closer to the atmosphere, environment, and the school in which Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) studied. We would know beyond doubt that his life, the services he rendered to the Muslims, and the knowledge he imparted, including hadith, exegesis, and Islamic beliefs, was faithfully and objectively handed down from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).

This would explain to us the great standing of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), his ascension to Imamate after his father Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), and his determination to take up that heavy burden throughout his blessed life.

2. His Social Status:

No other man had won the same great and high position that Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) had won during that time.

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) had a special and unique status in the eyes of the people at the time. The common people looked at him as a descendant of the Apostle of Allah (a.s.), chief of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), and the symbol of the opposition to the injustice and tyranny of the Umayyad and Abbasids. These common people believed that it was an obligation for every Muslim, loyal to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), to love him and be faithful to him.

The men of knowledge and piety saw in Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.), a leader, scholar and an unmatched educator. The politicians and rulers knew full well the Imam, particularly at the time of the Abbasid revolt against the Umayyads. He was, in their sight, a great social personality, an effective political force, and a leading political magnet which could not be ignored. These are facts no one can deny or undermine.

During the life of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), at the closing years of the Umayyad rule, the ruler got more tough and unjust. People’s rage rose. It was only natural, as history asserts, that Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) was at the fore, being at the vanguard, and the motto on the banners of the masses in every uprising against the Umayyads and Abbasids. That is why the anti-Umayyad action began in the name of Ahlul-Bait (a.s). The leaders of the opposition announced that they were calling for the restoration of the caliphate and Imamate to their legitimate people, the members of the pure Prophetic household. They called for the restitution of the caliphate to the qualified and competent descendants of Fatimah, the daughter of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w). But, while the struggle was on, and the tensions were mounting between the two parties, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) distanced himself from the battlefield. He withdrew from open confrontation because he knew in advance, the final outcome. The slogans were false, the call was unreal, and Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) would fall victim to them. Certain as he was of the real intentions of the Abbasids. He advised the Alawites not to follow the raised slogans rashly.

Events turned out exactly as he had said. What he had been warning the Alawites of took place. Though he was refraining from taking part in the struggle, the concerned people kept themselves close to him. The people were all waiting for him to take part. The leaders of the Abbasids couldn’t ignore him or overlook his social position. That is why they took him into consideration while planning their strategy.

Abu-Salamah al-Khallal, a key leader of the revolt against the Umayyads, sent a messenger to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) offering him his pledge of allegiance. Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) burned his letter and turned down his offer. Al-Khallah tried many times to offer his loyalty to the Imam to no avail. The Alawites offered him the caliphate and kept pressurising him, but he resisted all those temptations in spite of the Alawites’ persistence. Naturally, the concern the people showed to the Imam (a.s.) emphasized his great political stature and the prominent social role he played.

Abu-Ja’far al-Mansoor, the Abbasid caliph, was an avowed enemy of the Imam (a.s.). He maltreated him, sent for him many times and accused him of acting against the Abbasids and conducting a covert conspiracy against him. In spite of all that, this caliph could but admit the great status of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.). In his response to a letter sent by the Alawite revolutionary, Dhil-Nafs al-Zakiyyah Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al-Hassan bin al-Hassan bin Ali bin Abi-Talib - in which he explained his outstanding merits which made him outrank al-Mansoor as more qualified to be the caliph than him due to his closeness to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and as a descendant of his daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra’, al-Mansoor said:

“...the best sons of your father, and those with outstanding merits are certainly the sons of the bondsmaids. After the demise of the Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.) nobody better than Ali bin al-Hussein was born in your family. He was the child of a bondsmaid. And certainty he is better than your grandfather, Hassan bin Hussein.[8] After him you had nobody like Muhammad bin Ali (Imam al-Baqir) whose grandmother was a bondsmaid. He is surely better than your father.

Nor had you anybody like his son, Ja’far (Imam al-Sadiq) whose grandmother is a bondsmaid. He is better than you...”[9] Isma’il bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Abbas is reported to have said:

“One day I called on Abu-Ja’far al-Mansoor. Tears were flowing down his beard. He said to me: ‘Have you heard of what happened to your family?’ ‘And what is that, O commander of the faithful, I queried? Their chief, the scholar and the best of the remaining pious among them has passed away. And who is that, commander of the faithful’ I queried?’. ‘Ja’far bin Muhammad, he said.”[10]

And so we understand from historical documents how great the political and social position of the Imam was. He stood at the top of the social hierarchy and was the central force and the magnet of his era.