which means ‘river’ and it is also the name of a great river in Paradise, through which Providence wanted to imply that through the Imam’s knowledge and perfections a world is going to benefit and the vastness of his sciences are like gardens of Paradise and one who really benefits from the Imam is like one who is in Paradise.
In the Name of Allah, the most Beneficent the most Merciful. InshaAllah, in this article I want to take us through a quick journey, a meraj if you will, through the life of our Sixth Imam, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (as). I have split up the speech into 7 small parts, a biography of the Sixth Imam (as), the Khalifa Mansur Dawaniki and his soft war against Islam, the Sixth Imam’s (as) defense of Islam through knowledge and learning, three short stories, three miracles, a few quotes of the Imam (as), and my conclusion. InshaAllah, we will have a quick view of this illustrious Imam’s (as) life.
Allamah Zeeshan Haider Jawadi writes in his book, the Life Sketch of Imam al-Sadiq (as) the name of the sixth Imam was Ja’far (as), which means ‘river’ and it is also the name of a great river in Paradise, through which Providence wanted to imply that through the Imam’s knowledge and perfections a world is going to benefit and the vastness of his sciences are like gardens of Paradise and one who really benefits from the Imam is like one who is in Paradise.
The Sixth Imam (as) was born in Madina on Friday, the 17th of Rabiul Awal 82 or 83 A.H. Depending on the date, his Imamat lasted 34 years. He is buried in Jannatul Baqi in Madina.
Some of his titles were Faazil meaning excellent, Tahir meaning pure, Qaim meaning steadfast, Saabir meaning patient, Kashiful Haqaeeq meaning revealer of truths, and the most well knows of Sadiq meaning truthful. His kunya were Abu Abdullah and Abu Musa.
Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) was 15 years of age when his grandfather the Fourth Imam (as) was martyred and 34 years old when his father the Fifth Imam (as) was martyred.
His father as mentioned was Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as). His mother was Fatima also known as Ume Farwa. She was the daughter of Qasim bin Abi Bakr who was one of the close companions of Imam Zainul Abidin (as). He was also one of the seven jurisprudents of Mecca.
Umme Farwa was a greatly respected lady, most pious and most generous. Therefore, the Sixth Imam (as) is also called the Son of the Great Lady. The Sixth Imam (as) says about his mother, "My mother was one of the pious, faithful and devoted women."
And regarding the Sixth Imam (as), his mother Umme Farwa has said that when he was in the womb he used to speak to her regularly and even after his birth the first words that he uttered were the two testimonies of Muslim faith and once more clarified to all that the Imam does not embrace Islam, he brings it with himself.
Sheikh Mufeed says that the Sixth Imam (as) had 10 children.
Mansur Dawaniqi, the second Khalifa of Banu Abbas sent poisoned grapes to Muhammad bin Sulayman, the governor of Madina, ordering him to poison the Sixth Imam (as) and as a result of the poison the Imam (as) was martyred in the month of Shawal, year 148 A.H. He was 65 years old.
The Sixth Imam (as) stood out among his peers for his great merits. He (as) was the most celebrated personality of his time, the greatest in rank and the most illustrious in the eyes of both the Shia and non-Shia Muslims.
The learned scholars have transmitted more traditions on the authority of the Sixth Imam (as) than any other member of Ahl al-Bayt (as).
The sixth Imam (as) was also a contemporary of seven Caliphs.
During the period of his Imamate, a more favorable climate existed for the propagation of the Ahlul Bayt’s (as) religious teachings. This was a result of revolts within the Islamic realm, in particular the uprising which was aimed at overthrowing the Umayyad Khulafa, and the bloody wars which finally led to the fall and extinction of the Umayyad dynasty, to be replaced by the Abbasid dynasty.
Salu ala Muhammad wa ale Muhammad
The second section of our article concerns Mansur Dawaniqi. In Life Sketch of Imam al-Sadiq (as), Allama Zeeshan Haider Jawadi writes that, Mansur Dawaniqi was the second ruler of the Bani Abbas dynasty and he ruled for 22 years. Mansurs administration and rulership is much praised by historians, but along with this praise, all historians are unanimous that Mansur was extremely cruel and the secret of his success is that he used have people killed on mere suspicion.
He had Malik ibne Anas, one of Sunni Imams, lashed only because at some point in time Malik had supported the Saadaat. And Mansur had Abu Hanifah, another one of the Sunni Imams, imprisoned because he had given allegiance to Zaid bin Ali and in the end Mansur had Abu Hanifah poisoned. Mansur Dawaniki would mercilessly kill countless Saadaat, burying them alive in walls and using their blood in the concrete of his buildings. Even today on the northern side of the Tigris River near the Old Bridge lies an inscription on a wall that reads, “in the building material of this wall, many descendants of Imam Hasan bin Ali (as) were buried alive.”
Mansur was so cruel that when the Saadaat died in his prisons he did not even allow their last remains to be taken out; and in this way the air of prisons had the stench of dead bodies. How can the Muslims consider people like Mansur Dawaniki as a Khalifa of Allah? Doesn’t make any sense to me.
Regardless, the Saadaat endured these conditions and through recitation of the holy Quran they estimated the times for prayers and continued to endure a painful life in dungeons. Truly, we have received the Islam through severe trials and hardships. May Allah swt bless all those that have died for the safety of Islam.
The Abbasi Khulafa and especially Mansur Dawaniki consistently teased and annoyed the Imams and religious leaders. The Sixth Imam (as) was under severe stress, surveillance, and pressure during the age of Mansur because of the Sixth Imams (as) acclaim and popularity among the people.
Mansur even arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and killed many of the friends of the Sixth Imam (as). Many times Mansur decided and tried his best to martyr the Imam, but each time by the miracle of Allah, Mansur would be defeated. But eventually Mansur succeeded in poisoning our 6th Imam (as).
The third section of our article deals with Mansur Dawaniki’s soft war against Islam. The cultural school of thought of the Sixth Imam (as) considered human beings effective in their fate and told them it is you who form a society. It is you who make yourselves prosperous or unfortunate and miserable. Only you provide the grounds for your progress or your fall.
Meaning, it is you who can dismiss the rulers from the seat of power and do not accept cruelty and hand over the ruler ship to men who are capable and are sympathizers to the Ahlul Bayt (as).
The propagation and spread of this belief and idea, which was the same Quranic belief of the Muslims, displeased and annoyed Mansur Dawaniki. This idea posed a very serious threat to the power of Mansur.
So Mansur tried his hardest that he might arrest and stop the flow of this belief by propagation of negative values through sell out scholars, spreading falsehood about morality, and corruption of ideas and practices. Thus Mansur tried his best to stop and prevent the people from joining the school of thought of the Sixth Imam (as), which is the school of information, knowledge, consciousness, enlightenment, wisdom, and movement.
It is interesting to note that the Bani Umayya and Bani Abbas Khulafa trained and employed scholars of jurisprudence and fikh for the implementation of their evil aims and to shield their corrupt actions. Also, these court scholars would make the people believe in a religion of suppression and constraint. That is to say, they wanted to mold the belief of the people and make them believe that whatever poverty, misfortune, oppression, and even the excesses of those in power, are all pre-ordained from God and human beings do not have any control or choice to reshape it.
This ideology was spread so that opposition, revolt and uprisings were stopped. This was done so that people would tolerate the excesses and cruelties of the tyrant rulers and bear the punishments and whips of their criminal masters and falsely believe that these evil actions were sanctioned by the religion. Mansur Dawaniki during his corrupt reign continued to create and strengthen these court scholars spreading Mansurs soft war on Islam.
Clearly the Sixth Imam (as) could not sit by and watch the propagation of such a wrong and dangerous belief, which was given to the people and taught in the name of Islamic culture and beliefs. If the Sixth Imam did not defend Islam, the plans of the usurping Khulafa, like Mansur, would have meant that Islam would have been sold away for a cheap worldly profit.
So Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (as) continued the efforts started by his illustrious father, the Fifth Imam, and strengthened and grew the foundation of the Islamic University to combat against this dangerous imperialistic belief.
In order to counter the plans of the Khulafa there was only one way out; to train pious, staunch and sincere jurisprudents and fuqaha who were well versed in Islamic law and Islamic Sciences that would stand up to the tyrants and oppose any and all of their deeds which ran counter to Islam.
In a short span of time, the Sixth Imam (as) trained four thousand students in the fields of Islamic culture, Islamic beliefs, and a variety of sciences. He also chose the best of men, trained them, and spread them among the people to diffuse and neutralize the effects of the propaganda of the agent scholars.
And we must remember, brothers and sisters, that this soft war against Islam continues to this very day. And we must do our best to fight this soft war through knowledge, learning, and wisdom.
The next section, brothers and sisters, is the Imam’s (as) defense of Islam through knowledge, wisdom, and learning. One of the main areas dealing with the life of Sixth Imam (as) is the same Islamic University mentioned earlier and the thousands of students that attended this university from places far away.
The Sixth Imam Jafar (as) decided to strengthen the foundation of Islamic University in Madina. The gushing spring of knowledge of the Sixth Imam (as) was so evident that it attracted knowledge seekers from all the directions of the world. Hundreds of thousands of people thirsty for knowledge from all over the world came to Madina to join the classes of Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as). The Sixth Imam (as) trained famous and well-known men in various fields of knowledge and science. Just to name a few we have
1. Zurara and Mohammad Bin Muslim in jurisprudence.
2. Hisham and Momin ut Taq in beliefs and kalam (discourse).
3. Muffazil and Safwan in Gnosticism, Islamic learning, and theology.
4. Jabbir Bin Hayyan in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.
Of the Imam’s (as) students, Hisham ibn Hakam wrote thirty one books and Jabir ibn Hayyan authored about four hundred treatises.
The Imam (as) taught many other glorious men, each of whom became the founder of various Islamic sciences and arts so that for many years their books had been translated and taught in Europe. The same Europe that is today attacking Islam beliefs is indebted to Islam and the Sixth Imam (as) for its foundational progress.
Upon the Sixth Imam’s (as) authority, the religious sciences were transmitted and his students in turn took to teaching the real Islamic thought among the people. Now gradually a talented and learned group emerged from the Sixth Imam’s (as) school who became a force in defending the religion from the onslaughts of both foreigners and enemies within. They were sent out by the Imam (as) throughout the cities and towns of the region and various nations.
The Imams (as)students mingled with the people and awakened and educated them on day-to-day issues, as well as in Islamic legal codes. Thus the wisdom, piety, and knowledge of the Imam became well known and respected even in other lands. The presence of these pious scholars among the people led to their being freed from ignorance to a great extent and large numbers of people becoming true Muslims.
Another interesting thing to note is that many well-known Sunni lmams of jurisprudence were directly or indirectly the Imam’s (as) students such as Abu Hanifa (Noman ibn Sabit) Imam of the Hanafi's, Malik ibn Anas, Imam of the Maliki's , Ibrahim bin Saad Zahri, the teacher of Ahmed bin Hambal, Imam of Hambali's, and Saad bin Muslim Awii, teacher of Imam Shafei.
Foremost among these leaders is Abu-Hanifah who studied under the Imam (as) for two years. He talked of these two years as the foundation of his knowledge, saying, “Had it not been for those two years, Nu‘man (Abu-Hanifah) would have been destroyed.”
The muslims of the world despite reading in their history books that the leaders of their schools of thought were the students of the 6th imam, decided to cast the teacher aside and follow the students. So my question to the Muslims is, who follows the student, when the teacher is present?
And about the ethical value and virtue of the Sixth Imam (as), it is sufficient that out of four thousand students not even a single one objected or criticized or found fault upon the moral character, knowledge, and conduct of the Sixth Imam (as). Out of four thousand students, not even one. Allahu Akbar.
In this section we learned that the most powerful thing that the Sixth Imam (as) did in defending Islam was the spreading of knowledge, learning, and wisdom. This, brothers and sisters, is the way to defend Islam.
The next section is about some stories from the Sixth Imam’s (as) life. I will briefly relate only two short stories about the Sixth Imam (as).
The first story brothers and sisters is when one of the friends of Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) named Moally Bin Khunais says, "On a dark and rainy night, I saw that the Sixth Imam (as) was carrying a heavy sack on his back in the streets of Madina. I followed him to find out as to where he was heading. A quantity of bread fell on the earth and I collected it and went towards the Sixth Imam (as) and saluted him and gave that to him.
Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) took the bread and placed it back in the sack, and continued walking on. Not very long after that, he reached a point where a group of oppressed people were sleeping. The Sixth Imam (as) put two breads underneath the head of each one and turned back. I asked the Imam (AS) "were they your shias?" He said, "No, if they were our shias I would have attended them better than that."
And the second story. Once a pilgrim was visiting the holy Prophet’s (saw) mosque in Madina and fell asleep. When he woke up, he hurriedly searched for his belongings and realized that he lost a small purse which had 1,000 dinars in it. He looked around and saw the Sixth Imam (as) praying in corner. He accused the Imam (as) of stealing the purse.
The Imam (as) asked the man to follow him to his house and then the Imam (as) gave the man 1,000 dinars. The man returned to the mosque and realized that his original purse was with him all along. He returned to the Imam ashamed and asked him to take back the money he had given him. The Sixth Imam (as) replied, “We never take back what we once give away, but if you feel guilty about it, give it to the poor of the town.” The traveler gave all the money in charity to the poor of Madina.
And the third story brothers and sisters is about Shakrani. Shakrani was a young man who performed bad deeds stealthily. Since his grandfather was a slave freed by the Holy Prophet (saw), therefore, people thought him to be associated with the Holy Prophet (saw). One day he found out that "Mansur Dawaniki" was distributing the wealth of the State Treasury, the Baitul Mal.
Shakrani went to the court to seek some help. Since, he did not know anyone in the court, he was not able to get anything. During this span of time he happened to see the Sixth Imam(as). He went rushing towards him and requested him to become a medium for him and get him a share from the caliph. The Sixth Imam (as) accepted his request, and went to get his share and brought it to him.
When the Sixth Imam (as) gave him the money, he (as) said to Shakrani, "A good deed is good from everyone but it is better to occur from you, who is associated to us. And a bad deed is bad from every one, but it is worse from you who is associated with us."
The Sixth Imam (as) said this and went on his way. Shakrani getting hold of the money started pondering deeply about what the Imam had just said and he realized that the Sixth Imam (as) had come to know about his bad deeds and by these words he meant to stop him from it. Shakrani got very ashamed by this noble conduct of the Sixth Imam (as) despite the Imam knowing of his evil deeds. He decided to abandon his misdeeds and so he did.
Brothers and sisters, we are also associated with the Ahlul Bayt (as) and the world knows us to be associated with the Ahlul Bayt (as). And as the Sixth Imam has said so beautifully, because we are associated with the Ahlul Bayt (as), our good deeds are better than others and our sins are worse than others. Let us promise ourselves to never shame the Ahlul Bayt (as) by our sins and let us promise ourselves to make the Ahlul Bayt (as) proud of us by our good deeds.
We are reaching the end of our article, brothers and sisters. I our holy journey, our meraj through the life of this beautiful Imam (as) is almost over. I’m sure that the angels are praying for you at this moment, praising your patience for the sake of the Sixth Imam (as).
In the next section I would like to list just three miracles of the Sixth Imam (as) out of the many miracles that he performed. In the book, Life Sketch of Imam al-Sadiq (as) by Allamah Zeeshan Haider Jawadi we find these three miracles.
The first miracle. Mansur Dawaniki once gathered a hundred persons in his court and instructed them to attack and finish off and kill the Sixth Imam (as) as soon as he entered. But Providence arranged it in such a way that when the Imam entered, all threw down their swords and fell at the Imams (as) feet. Mansur perceived a threat and had the Imam (as) returned to his hometown the same night.
The second miracle. The Sixth Imam (as) once told Yunus Ibne Zabyan, that the treasures of the earth and heavens were under his control and saying this he kicked at the ground and extracted a treasure chest full of gold from the earth. Yunus said: Despite such discretion, your followers are always in a bad condition. The Imam said: This world is not for them; Paradise is for them.
And the third miracle. While going for Hajj, a person gave ten thousand dirhams so that the Sixth Imam (as) could arrange a house for himself for the time he was at Hajj. On his return the Imam (as) told him: I have arranged a house for you in Paradise and gave him the map of the house in Paradise. The man made a will that the paper should be placed inside his grave. After his death and burial, the next day the same paper was seen on the grave and on the other side of it was written: His Eminence, Ja’far Ibne Muhammad (as) has fulfilled his promise.
This next section is the last section before our conclusion. It seems I have been doing all the writing, so let us make this next section interactive. In the next section I have selected a few ahadith from the Sixth Imam (as). This is the part of our article where I would humbly request all of us to note down some of these quotes from the Sixth Imam (as). These are pearls of wisdom, the wealth of knowledge, the ocean of truth. They are our heavenly treasures given to us by the Imam (as). For our own sake, lets write some down.
The first quote. The best piety is that one should refrain from the prohibited; not harass the believers and does not backbite.
The best life is that one should be the owner of the best morals and manners.
The most beneficial wealth is contentment and the worst ignorance is selfishness.
The second quote. We the Ahle Bayt (as) like those who are intelligent, understanding, deeply contemplative, forbearing, good natured, patient, truthful and loyal, as all these qualities belong to the prophets and messengers. And the one who has these qualities should thank the Almighty and the one who is deprived of these qualities should supplicate the Lord while weeping to bestow them.
The third quote. In Kitab al-Irshad, Sheikh Mufeed quotes the Sixth Imam (as) about repentance. The Sixth Imam (as) said: "To delay repentance is to be heedless; to lengthen the time of putting off religious duties is to create confusion in one's mind.
To attempt to justify oneself before God is (to bring about one's own) destruction; persisting in sin makes a person feel secure from God's devising. And only people who are lost feel secure from God's devising.
The fourth quote. Be benevolent to your father and mother so that your children may as well be benevolent to you.
The fifth quote. The fruit (result) of love and attachment with the world is inconvenience, trouble and sorrow. The result of piety and purity in the world is the comfort of body and soul.
The sixth quote. The person moving to help his Momin brothers is like the person who is walking between Safa and Marwa.
The seventh quote. The desire for the worldly pleasures causes grief and sadness. Abstinence from the worldly pleasures brings about the rest of both heart and body.
The eighth quote. A Muslim always has three characteristics: knowledge about the religion, good management of life, and perseverance in the faces of calamities.
The ninth quote. Shake hands, because this will confiscate malice.
The tenth quote. Knowledge is the comrade of the faithful believer, clemency is his supporter, patience is the commander of his army, leniency is his brother, and charity is his father.
We love those who are intelligent, knowledgeable, perceptive, expert, clement, courteous, patient, veracious, and loyal. Allah gave the noble characters exclusively to the prophets (as). He who enjoys such characters should thank Allah for them. He who does not enjoy them should supplicate to Allah for them.
As he was asked about these noble characters, Imam al-Sadiq (as) said: The noble characters are piety, satisfaction, patience, gratefulness, clemency, prudency, generosity, bravery, enthusiasm, veracity, charity, fulfillment of the trusts, conviction, good mannerism, and chivalry.
The eleventh quote. The world is the believer's jail, patience is his fortress, and Paradise is his abode. The world is the disbeliever's paradise, the grave is his jail, and Hell is his abode.
The twelfth quote. Whenever you see a servant of Allah pursuing people's flaws and neglecting his own flaws, you should then realize that he has been trapped by the Shaitan.
The thirteenth quote. Allah gives the worldly pleasures to those whom He loves as well as those whom He dislikes, while He gives the faith only to whom He selects among the creatures.
The fourteenth quote. You will not be regarded as true believers before you see misfortunes as graces and luxury as disaster.
The fifteenth quote. I advise you, and all my children, my relatives, and whosoever receives this message, to be conscious of Allah (SWT), to remove your differences, and to strengthen your ties. I heard your grandfather, peace be upon him, say: "Reconciliation of your differences is more worthy than all prayers and all fasting." [The Last Will of Imam Ali (as)]
The sixteenth quote. Ume Hamidah is quoted as saying, “On his deathbed, the holy Imam (as) gathered all his relatives. When everybody showed up, he said, ‘Our intercession does not go to somebody who belittles the daily prayers and is heedless to it.
The seventeenth quote. The most perfect of men in intellect is the best of them in ethics.
The eighteenth quote. Whoever attacks a matter without knowledge cuts off his own nose.
And one final quote from the Sixth Imam (as): "Either be a scholar, or try to seek knowledge or at least be a follower of the possessors of knowledge."
And finally our conclusion, brothers and sisters. Imam Jafar Sadiq’s (as) life was one of a constant and consistent struggle against those who were ignorant and evil. He protected Islam and Islamic culture and Islamic beliefs from extraneous influence and trespasses across its boundaries.
He (as) strengthened the first Islamic University and trained thousands of students that spread the light of the Ahlul Bayt (as) to other nations. And such an illustrious life came to an end when the Imam (as) reached the age of sixty-five.
He (as) suffered greatly at the hands of the Khulafa who sometimes sent him away to far distant places hoping that his influence may in this way wane and at other times took away from the Imam the very ordinary comforts of life with the intent to make life unbearable for him.
Finally, when he (as) died, it was not a death from natural causes. He (as) was cruelly poisoned and martyred by Mansoor dawaniqi on the 25th of Shawwal in the 148 A.H. And he is buried in the Baqee cemetery.
The muslims of the world despite reading in their history books that the leaders of their schools of thought were the students of 6th Imam (as), decided to cast the teacher aside and follow the students. Why would anyone follow the student, while the teacher is present?
The Imam (as) was the source of knowledge and the people ignored him. The Ahlul Bayt (as) are the true inheritors of knowledge, wisdom, truth, and light as Imam al-Sadiq (as) himself says, 'By Allah, certainly I know the Book of Allah from its beginning to its end, as if it is in my palm. In it is contained the information about the heavens and the earth, about all that existed and all that is to be. Allah, Mighty and Exalted, has said: "In it is clarification of all things."
So today we see that the muslims are confused, in chaos, under oppression, dying senselessly, and not following the teachings of Islam. The only way to fix this chaos is to return to the household (as) of the holy Prophet (saw). And a return to the household (as) is a return to the Prophet (saw). And a return to the Prophet (saw) is a return to Allah.
As the Sixth Imam (as) himself eloquently says, "My traditions are my father's traditions; my father's traditions are my grandfather's traditions; my grandfather's traditions are the traditions of Ali b. Abi Talib (as), the Commander of the faithful; the traditions of Ali the Commander of the faithful are the traditions of the Apostle of God (saw), may God bless him and his family; and the traditions of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, are the word of God, the Mighty and High.
Why don’t the muslims of the world learn from their thousand years old mistake of leaving the Ahlul Bayt (as). When they left the Ahlul Bayt (as), they left the word of Allah. And it is high time that the muslims of the world return to the rightly guided Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (as) named by the holy Prophet (saw) and appointed by Allah swt. Only then will Islam survive.
I end my article with one last heart breaking story about the sixth Imam (as). It is narrated that Hisham Bin Salem another friend of the Sixth Imam (as) says, "Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) had a peculiar manner of action, that he picked up food in the dark nights and carried it to the doors of the houses of the oppressed ones, delivered it to them, and did not let himself be recognized.
A long time passed and the Sixth Imam (as) was martyred and passed away. Since his help was discontinued, the poor and afflicted ones got to know that the unknown man who came in the night and helped them was Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) for this reason they became very sad and grief-stricken and mourned intensely.
Ya Allah…this is the household that gives the poor, food in the dark of the night, perhaps to not embarrass these people….oh our great and final 12th Imam (ajtfs), please provide us with the food of knowledge, wisdom, truth, and light. We are the spiritually poor and oppressed of this time.
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