Infallibles > Imam Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Jawad (a.s.): The Miraculous Imamate (partI)

Imam Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Jawad (a.s.) The Miraculous Imamate(partI)  

One of the members of Ahl el-Beit is Imam Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Jawad (a.s.) whom when we talk about his life, we aim at learning how to live Islam through this noble elite of Ahl el-Beit (a.s.) and how to face our present through the luminous lines of our past in order to build our future according to Allah's revelation and the teachings of the Prophet (a.s.) to which the Imam's of Ahl el-Beit were committed. Those Imams (a.s.) have embodied, in their words, teachings, actions and their behavior, the teaching of the Holy Book and the Sunna.

Imam Al-Jawad (a.s.): The Miracle of the Imamate:

Imam Al-Jawad (a.s.) was open early on the line of the Imamate, in a way that what was said about Yahiya (a.s.) can be also said about him (a.s.) “and We granted him wisdom while yet a child”. After the death of his father, Imam Ali bin Mussa al-Rida (a.s.), al-Jawad lived the responsibility of the Imamate, and thus we can call him "the miraculous Imam", because his Imamate was open on all the reality while he was still young. Hence, he (a.s.) has amazed the people with his rich education, his ability to address the most complicated issues and his ability to show Allah's rulings in the Islamic Shariaa…

Although he was young, the Imam (a.s.) was able to show the firmness and steadiness of the Imamate. Hence, Muhammad Bin Talha narrated that: A year after the death of Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.), the caliph Al-Ma'mun came to Baghdad. One day, when the young Imam (Al-Jawad) was only nine years old, Al-Ma’mun went out hunting. The Imam was standing silently by the roadside where some children were playing. The caliph's entourage came that way. Seeing the soldiers of the caliph all the children ran away, but the young Imam remained standing in his place. Noting this, Ma’mun stopped and asked, “Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?”

The Imam replied calmly, “Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have to run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked."

These rational and wise words indicate that the Imam (a.s.) was aware of the things that can hurt man when facing the authority and make him feel afraid and thus run away from it. Why does the Imam (a.s.) have to be afraid if he had not committed any crime to be punished for? Why does he have to leave his place if there is enough room for others to pass without blocking the way? If the ruler was just in his rulings and in his relations with people, and if one did not do any wrong, why should he be feared? That is in addition to the Imam's (a.s.) courage, fearlessness and strong will. Hence, his actions and behavior were not that of a boy, but they revealed that the Imam had a rational mind that was open on the reality through possessing a divine and sacred ability … such ability has imposed his respect on the Ma'mun as well as on the people around him, as we will see later…

Muhammad bin Al-Hussein bin Asbat says: “One day I saw Imam Jawad (a.s.) who was coming towards me. I watched him carefully so that I could describe him for his devotees in Egypt. I wondered how could such a young person answer the most difficult jurisprudential and scientific questions and provide solutions to them. Then Imam Jawad came closer to me, sat down and said: “O Ali Ben Asbat, God Almighty brings proof to the Imamate of Imams as He has brought proof to the prophethood of prophets. Then he read verse 12 of Surah Maryam which says:” O Yahya! Take hold of the Book with strength, and we granted him wisdom while yet a child.”

Then Imam Jawad (a.s.) said to me: "God may grant wisdom in childhood as He may grant it at the age of 40."

In his book "Al-Irshad", Sheik Al-Mufid narrated that:

Al- Ma'mun had a great affection for Abu Jaa'far (Al-Jawad) (a.s.), because of the great merit he saw in him despite his age because of his attainment in philosophy and literature and because of his intellectual maturity which none of the scholars of the time equalled.  Therefore, al-Ma'mun married him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl. Abu Ja'far al-Jawad took her to Medina with him. Al-Ma'moun was generous in his honoring and extolling of him and giving him rank and position.

Al-Hassan b. Muhammad b. Sulayman reported on the authority of Ali b. Ibrahim b.Hashim, on the authority of his father, on the authority of al-Rayyan b.Shabib, who said:

          When al-Ma'moun wanted to marry his daughter Umm al-Fadl to Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali (al-Jawad) (a.s.), this news reached the Abbasid family, and shocked them and they were greatly concerned about this. They were afraid that the affair (of the caliphate) would finish up in the same way it finished with Al-Rida (a.s.). They were very concerned about that. He met the close members of his family and they said to him. "Commander of the Faithful, we adjure you before God against preserving in this plan you have decided upon, of marrying the son of Rida (to your daughter). For we are afraid that you will take away from us the power which God has made our possession, and strip away what He has clothed us in. You know what is between us and these people, both of old and recently, and the policy of rightly guided caliphs before you to isolate them and belittle them. We were greatly afraid of your action with al-Rida until God was sufficient for us in that task. O God, do not bring back to us that pain that we had escaped. Turn aside from your opinion about the son of al-Rida and turn towards someone you think appropriate from your own family to the exclusion of anyone else."

Al-Ma'mun replied: "You are the cause (of any friction) there is between yourselves and the family of Abu Talib. If you treated these people justly, they would be much close to you. As for what those who were before me have done to them, it was an act against kinship and I seek God's protection from it. By God, I do not regret the arrangement of succession which I made with al-Rida. I had asked him to undertake the affair and I was (ready to) give it up but he refused. The decision of God was a decree which had been decreed. As for Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad), I have chosen him because of his superiority to all men of merit in knowledge and merit despite his youth, and as a result of his miraculous nature in that. I hope that he shows the people what I know to be in him, and then they will understand why I hold this view regard to him."

          "This young man, even though he has amazed you, needs direction." They told him. "He is still a boy without knowledge and understanding. Therefore, act with circumspection towards him so that he may become educated and gain understanding in religion. Then, after that do what you think appropriate."

"Shame on you!" he retorted. "I know this young man in comparison with) you. He is from the family of the House whose knowledge is from God, of those who love Him and are inspired by Him. His ancestors were always rich in knowledge of religion and literature far (beyond) the populace which lacked the range of (their) perfection. If you wish, examine Abu Ja'far (al-Jawad) so that he may make clear to you his condition as I have described."

"We consent to examine him, Commander of the faithful, both for you and for ourselves,'' t hey answered.'' So let us assign someone to question him, in your presence, about some matter of jurisprudence. If the gets the answer to it correct, there will be no opposition from us to his affair and it will demonstrate, both to the elite and to the public, the sound view of the commander of the faithful. However, if the fails in that, we will have been able to give protection in a serious matter with regard to this idea.''

‘‘It is your affair and it (will take place) whenever you want to do it,'' al-Ma’mun told them.

They left him and agreed to ask Yahya b. Aktham. He was, then, the (outstanding) qadi of the time and he would be able to ask a question which (Abu Ja’far al-Jawad) would not be able to answer. They promised him precious valuables to do that. They returned to al-Ma’mun and asked him to choose a day for their meeting. He complied with their request. They gathered on the agreed day and with them came Yahya b. Aktham. Al-Ma’mun ordered a seat of honor to be put for Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) (a.s.), and leather pillows with to be put on it for him. That was done. Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) (a.s.) came out. At that time he was a boy of nine years and a few months. He sat down amid the leather pillows and Yahya b. Aktham sat opposite him. The people stood in their rank while al-Ma’mun was sitting in a seat of honor attached to Abu Ja'far (a.s.).

"Commander of the faithful, do you permit me to question Abu Ja’far?'' Yahya b. Aktham asked al-Ma’mun.

"Seek permission from him for that,'' al-Ma’mun relied to him then Yahya b. Aktham went forward to him and said: "May I be your ransom, do you permit me to question (you)?''

    ''Ask if u want to,'' Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) (a.s.), told him.

''What would you say about muhrim (a person in a state of ritual purification for pilgrimage) who killed an animal while hunting?''

 ''Did he kill it in the area not sanctified or in the sanctuary?'' asked Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) (a.s.). "Did the muhrim do the killing knowingly or in ignorance, deliberately or by mistake? Was the muhrim free or a slave, young or old, inexperienced in killing or practiced? Was the animal hunted, winged or otherwise, little or big? Was the man obstinate in his action or regretful? Was he in a state of ritual consecration for the lesser pilgrimage (umra) or the greater pilgrimage (hajj) when did he do the killing?''

  Yahya b. Aktham became bewildered. Inability and indecision were clear on his face. He began to stutter so that all the people at the assembly were aware of his predicament.

  ''Praise be to God for this blessing and the success of my judgment,'' said al-Ma’mun. Then he looked at the members of his family and said: ''Do you recognize now what you used to deny?''

    He went up to Abu Ja’far (a.s.) and asked him: ''will you address us, Abu Ja’far?''

  ''May I question you?'' Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad), (a.s.) asked Yahya.

''That is up to you but if you know the answer of what you asked me, then I will gain the benefit of it from you.

  Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) (a.s.) said: ''Tell me about man who looked at a woman at the beginning of the day, and his looking at her was forbidden to him. Yet as the morning continued, she was allowed to him. At noon she became forbidden to him yet in the afternoon she was permitted to him. At sunset she was forbidden to him but when the night came she was allowed to him. In the middle of the night she was forbidden to him but at dawn she was permitted to him. What was the state of this woman and why was she permitted and forbidden to him at different times?''

   ''God has not guided me to the answer of this question and I do not know the approach to it'', Yahya b. Aktham told him. ''Would you think it appropriate to benefit us with it?''

"This woman is a slave-girl of a man among the people, said Abu Ja'far (a.s.). "A foreigner looked at her at the beginning of the day and then his looking at her was forbidden to him. As the morning continued, he bought her from her owner and she became permitted to him. At noon, he gave her her freedom and then she was forbidden to him. In the afternoon, he married her and then she was permitted to him. At sunset he parted from her according to the disapproved formula (zihar) – You are to me like my mother's flesh (zahar) – and then she was forbidden to him. At night he made atonement for the (zihar) and she was permitted to him. Halfway through the night, he divorced her with the first declaration of the three-fold divorce and she was forbidden to him. At dawn, he renounced it and she was permitted to him.                                                                                                                                                           

Then Al-Ma'mun went forward towards those of his family who were present and said to them: "Is there anyone among you who could answer questions in the way this answer (has been given) or expatiate on the answer which has just been given?"

          "No, by God," they replied. "In deed the Commander of the faithful knows better about the decisions he makes."

This is what makes us say that Al-Jawad is the "miraculous Imam", since he was a miracle due to the wide knowledge Allah has specialized him with, to the extent that he was able to defeat the outstanding scholars of his age.

Based on these narrations, we make the following remarks:

          The first remark is: The Abbasids sought to keep the caliphate confined to them only. Therefore, they were very sensitive regarding any relation that might occur between the caliphate and any member of Ahl-El-Beit (a.s.), in order to prevent people from being attracted to this member… That is what Al-Ma'mun has faced his relatives with, since he told them about the value of Ahl-Beit and that they are superior to them in knowledge, spirituality, piety, and in being near to Allah, and such traits make them have the priority to take over the caliphate in its special vivid elements. Al-Ma’mun also told them that the previous caliphs used to oppress Ahl el-Beit and that was unjust. He also said that he is not going to do the same with Ahl e-Beit and he emphasized that he agreed to appoint Imam Ar-Rida as a caliph and he insisted on that, whereas Ar-Rida (a.s.) refused…

The second remark is: The stand of Al-Ma'mun indicates that Ahl el-Beit have imposed their respect on the society because of the great merits and morals they had, even on the level of the caliphate that does not see people except through their relation with the authority that surrounds them, and does not consider things objectively. The stand of Al-Ma'mun also indicates that Al-Ma'mun was right in his viewpoint regarding Imam Al-Jawad (a.s.) and he wanted to get rid of the near past in his relation with Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.), considering that he has caused his (a.s.) death.

The third remark is: Through his rich knowledge, Imam Al-Jawad (a.s.) wanted to emphasize to the society …, that he possess the unmistakable knowledge as well as the thorough jurisprudence, and that it was not difficult for him to answer any question, although he was young. That is because they thought that, since he was young, he did not have the ability of the intellectual analysis and was not able to answer any question. In addition, the Imam was characterized by guidance and morals for he was raised up in the house of Ahl-el-Beit, he was also characterized by the scientific knowledge that they thought it needs much time and education to be acquired… The surprise that shocked the Abbasids was that he (a.s.) defeated the biggest judge qaddi, although they had agreed with him (the judge) to prepare difficult issues that reveal the lack of the Imam's knowledge as they claimed. But, the Imam defeated him, and thus the challenging questioner was turned into a person who was questioned and was not able to challenge the Imam.

The fourth remark is: The Imams of Ahl el-Beit (a.s.) used to accept all challenges because they knew that they were able to stand them. Thus, they were open on dialogue and answered directly all questions that were posed on them, without the need to have much time to contemplate and think about these questions, and without having to resort to any books… This ability reveals that their knowledge enables them to answer all questions … that was also what made them the only ones who are competent to hold the Imamate and assume the leadership. Al-Farahidi said when he presented Imam Ali (a.s.): "Every one needs Ali, while is not in need for anyone. Therefore, that is an evidence to prove that Ali is the Imam (authority) of everyone."

All Muslim leaders must be characterized, in the cultural confrontation against the opponent educated persons, by possessing the rich knowledge that enables them to accept challenge in any dialogue or question, in order to emphasize the right evidence to validate their stands and the superiority in the struggle, for the sake of submitting others to the right through wide scientific pressure.