Imam Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Jawad (a)
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|Muhammad b. 'Alī al-Jawad|
9th Shi'a Imam
c. April 12, 811 CE |
(Rajab 10, 195 AH)
|Beginning of Imamate||29 Safar 203/ 9 September 818|
|Duration of Imamate||17 years|
c. 29 November 835 (aged 24) |
(Dhu l-Qa'da 30, 220 AH)
|Cause of Death||Death by Poisoning|
|Place of Burial|
|Successor||'Ali b. Muhammad al-Hadi|
|Father||'Ali b. Musa|
|Spouse(s)||Samana, Umm al-Fadl|
|Other Titles||Abu Ja'far al-Thani, al-Jawad (Arabic for the Generous)|
'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, al-Sajjad, al-Baqir, al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Jawad, al-Hadi, al-'Askari, al-Mahdi
Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Mūsā (Arabic:محمد بن علي بن موسی) known as ʾImām al-Jawād (a) (امام الجواد) was the ninth Imam of Shia. He (a) was born on Rajab 10, 195/April 12, 811 in Medina and was Imam for 17 years. He was martyred when he (a) was 25 years old and was buried in Kadhimiya beside the grave of his grandfather Musa b. Ja'far (a). He was the youngest Imam when he was martyred.
After Imam al-Rida (a) was martyred, some Shi'a called his brother, 'Abd Allah b. Musa, as the next Imam. Some others followed Waqifids, but most Shi'a accepted the Imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a) even though he (a) was an 8-year-old child. At that time, due to restrictions made for Imam (a), his connections with Shi'a were mostly made through agents.
Scientific debates of Imam al-Jawad (a) with religious scholars of different Islamic sects in theological issues such as the position of caliphs and in jurisprudential issues such as Hajj rituals are among well-known debates of Imams (a).
- 1 Lineage, Kunya and Titles
- 2 Birth and Martyrdom
- 3 Wife and Children
- 4 Proofs of Imamate
- 5 His Imamate
- 6 Virtues and Merits
- 7 Martyrdom
- 8 His Companions
- 9 Words of Sunni Figures about Him
- 10 Tawassul (Entreaty) to Imam al-Jawad (a)
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
Lineage, Kunya and Titles
Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Musa b. Ja'far b. Muhammad is the ninth Imam of Twelver Shi'a who is known as al-Jawad.
His father Imam al-Rida (a) was the eighth Imam of Twelver Shia. His mother was Sabika from the family of Mariya al-Qibtiyya, the wife of the Holy Prophet (s). In some sources, the name of his mother is mentioned as Khayzaran and Rayhana.
His most famous title was Jawad and they have mentioned other titles for him such as Taqi, Murtada, Qani', Radi, Mukhtar, Mutawakkil, and Muntajab.
|Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)|
Birth and Martyrdom
According to the report of historians, Imam al-Jawad (a) was born in 195/811 in Medina. However, there is a disagreement about the day and month of his birth. The famous and unique report is Rajab 10 which has been mentioned by al-Shaykh al-Tusi in Misbah al-Mutahajjid, but most sources have regarded Imam's (a) birthday as Ramadan 15.
Wife and Children
Imam al-Jawad (a) married the daughter of Ma'mun al-Abbasi, called Umm al-Fadal in 215/830 (or 214/831). This marriage took place following the request of Ma'mun and Imam (a) expressed his consent with this marriage after specifying the dowry similar to that of Fatima al-Zahra (a) which was 500 Dirhams. Imam (a) did not have any children from this wife and all his children are from his other wife Samana al-Maghribiyya.
Some sources have said that during Imam al-Rida (a)'s stay in Khorasan, Imam al-Jawad (a) went to see him and that was when Ma'mun asked him to marry his daughter.
According to Ibn Kathir, the marriage contract of Imam al-Jawad (a) and Ma'mun's daughter was made at the time of Imam al-Rida (a) but the marriage ceremony was held by the permission of Ma'mun in 215/830 in Tikrit, Iraq. According to this report, there is no conflict between the report that some have said that the marriage happened in 202/817 and that some reported in 215/830, but it is not in complete agreement with the famous story of a debate between Yahya b. Aktham and Imam al-Jawad (a) in Baghdad.
According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Imam al-Jawad (a) had four children with the names, 'Ali (Imam al-Hadi (a)), Musa, Fatima and Amama. However some sources regarded three daughters for Imam (a) with the names of Hakima, Khadija and Umm Kulthum.
Proofs of Imamate
Imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a) lasted 17 years from 203/818 until 220/835. There are many reports and proofs for Imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a) including the report that one of the companions of Imam al-Rida (a) asked about his successor, and Imam al-Rida (a) pointed with his hand towards his son Abu Ja'far (Imam al-Jawad (a)) who was standing in front of him.
In another narration, Imam al-Rida (a) said, "This is Abu Ja'far I have seated in my place and I have left my position to him. We are the family, the children of whom inherit like their old ones." (which means that the same way our old ones inherit and receive knowledge, our children inherit knowledge from the old ones.)
In another report, Abu l-Hasan b. Muhammad (among the companions of Imam al-Rida (a)) said that, "I heard Imam al-Rida (a) said, 'Abu Ja'far is my successor among my people.'"
A Blessed Child
Imam al-Jawad (a) was born in last years of Imam al-Rida's (a) life. They have said that before his birth, Imam al-Rida (a) had no children and some enemies spread this rumor that Imam al-Rida (a) is not going to leave any lineage after himself and the chain of imamate will be broken. According to narrative sources, when Imam al-Jawad (a) was born and they brought him to his father; Imam al-Rida (a) said, "This is a child, more blessed than him is not born for our followers." Also, a report narrated by Ibn Asbat and 'Ubbad b. Isma'il said, "We were at the presence of Imam al-Rida (a) that they brought Abu Ja'far (Imam al-Jawad (a)). We asked, 'Is this that blessed child?' Imam al-Rida (a) said, 'This is the child, no more blessed than him is ever born."
Imamate and Childhood
Imam al-Jawad (a) became Imam in childhood when he (a) was 8 years old and thus a number of Shi'as did not accept his imamate and turned to other people. Another group were wandering in his childhood until the issue of imamate would become clear, however they gradually followed his imamate. This is one of the issues which was risen by some people at the time of Imam al-Rida (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a) and these two Imams (a) gave answers to them from the Qur'an. One of these answers is about the prophethood of Prophet Yahya(a) (John), where the Qur'an says: "And We gave him judgment while still a child" (19:12)
Another answer was speaking of the Prophet 'Isa (a) (Jesus) in the first days after birth. Verses 30 to 32 of Sura Maryam narrates this issue from Jesus (a), "'Indeed I am a servant of Allah! He has given me the Book and made me a prophet. (30) He has made me blessed, wherever I may be, and He has enjoined me to [maintain] the prayer and to [pay] the Zakat as long as I live, (31) and to be good to my mother, and He has not made me self-willed and wretched." (19:30-32)
Shi'a after the Martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a)
Imam al-Rida (a) was martyred in 203/818 when his son, Imam al-Jawad (a) was only 8 years old and became Imam and this caused disagreement among Shi'a so that some of them followed 'Abd Allah b. Musa b. Ja'far, brother of Imam al-Rida (a); but since they did not want to accept imamate of a person without any reason, some of them asked 'Abd Allah some questions and after they found him unable to answer, they abandoned him. Some other Shi'a joined Waqifids. According to al-Nawbakhti, the reason of such a division was that they considered the age of puberty as one of the requirements of imamate.
However, even though most Shi'as mentioned the young age of Imam al-Jawad (a), but they followed him while Imam (a) answered to this question by mentioning the successorship of Prophet Sulayman (a) (Solomon) after Prophet Dawud (a) (David) and said, "When Prophet Solomon (a) was still a little child and took the sheep out for grazing, Prophet David (a) made him his successor."
According to some hadiths, when Imam al-Jawad (a) became Imam at a young age, some people from Baghdad and other cities went to see him in Medina during Hajj. In a meeting they had with 'Abd Allah b. Musa (Imam al-Jawad's (a) uncle), they asked him some questions, but his answers did not seem right and they became disappointed and sad. Then they went to Imam al-Jawad (a) and asked him the same questions and he (a) gave them answers which made them happy, praised Imam (a) and prayed for him.
Imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a) was contemporary with two Abbasid caliphs: the first was Ma'mun (193/809 to 218/833) and Imam (a) spent 23 years of his life at the time of his caliphate. The second was al-Mu'tasim al-Abbasi (218/833 to 227/842) two years of his caliphate were contemporary with imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a). Imam al-Jawad (a) went to Baghdad twice following the request of these two caliphs. His first trip at the time of Ma'mun was not long. In the second trip, Imam al-Jawad (a) stayed longer in Baghdad and was martyred there.
Debate in the Meeting of Ma'mun
Imam al-Jawad's (a) debate with Yahya b. Aktham was among the important debates of Imam (a) which took place at the time of Ma'mun al-'Abbasi in Baghdad. According to some Shi'a sources, the cause for happening this debate was Ma'mun's proposal for the marriage of Imam (a) with Umm al-Fadl. After Abbasid noblemen were informed of that, they objected to Ma'mun. To justify his decision, Ma'mun suggested to them to test Imam al-Jawad (a) and they accepted and arranged a debate to test Imam (a).
In the debate, first Yahya mentioned a question about a Muhrim (one who perform rituals of hajj) who hunts an animal. Then, Imam (a) explained different aspects of the issue and asked Yahya to define which aspect he meant. Yahya could not answer and the people there were surprised. Then, Imam (a) himself answered the question regarding different aspects. After hearing Imam's (a) complete answer, Abbasid scholars and courtiers admitted to his competence in Fiqh. It is said that upon seeing this, Ma'mun said, "Praise to God that what I had thought happened."
Debate about Caliphs
According to Shi'a hadith sources, in a session where Ma'mun and many jurists and courtiers were present, Imam al-Jawad (a) had a debate with Yahya b. Aktham about the merits of caliphs (Abu Bakr and 'Umar). Yahya turned to Imam (a) and said, Gabriel conveyed the message of God to the Prophet (s): "Ask Abu Bakr if he is pleased with me? I am pleased with him." Imam (a) answered, I do not reject merits of Abu bakr but anyone who has narrated this hadith needs to pay attention to other hadiths of the Prophet (s) and that he (s) said, "when you receive a hadith from me, present it to the Book of God and my sunna; if it is in agreement with them, accept it and if it is not, do not accept it because liars and forgers of hadiths will increase." Then, Imam (a) continued that this hadith is not in agreement with the Qur'an because the Qur'an says, 'We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.' (50:16) Then, was not God aware of Abu bakr's satisfaction that had to ask him?"
Then, Yahya asked about this hadith which said, "Abu bakr and 'Umar on the earth are like Gabriel and Michael in the skies." Imam (a) answered, "this hadith is not true because Gabriel and Michael have always served God and have not committed a sin while Abu bakr and 'Umar have long been polytheist before they become Muslims."
Cutting the Hand of a Thief
When Imam (a) was living in Baghdad, events happened which promoted the position of Imam (a) among people such as his ruling about thieves. Once there was a disagreement over the question that from where the hand of a thief has to be cut; some said that it needs to be cut from wrist and some said that it needs to be cut from elbow. Mu'tasim, the Abbasid caliph asked Imam al-Jawad (a) to give his opinion in this regard. After caliph insisted, Imam (a) said, "Only the fingers of a thief have to be cut and the rest of his hand needs to remain. He referred to the following verse of the Qur'an as his reason, "The places of sajda belong to Allah, so do not invoke anyone along with Allah." (72:18) Mu'tasim liked Imam's (a) answer and ordered to follow his ruling.
Manner towards ِDifferent Sects
People of hadith
Like the time of other Imams (a), at the time of Imam al-Jawad (a), there were sects which were active in different fields and tried to promote their thoughts and beliefs in the society and draw away Shi'a from their authentic beliefs. People of hadith were among such sects who believed in the incarnation of God. To guard authentic Shi'a beliefs, Imam al-Jawad (a) rejected connection with them and ordered Shi'a not to pray behind them and not pay Zakat to them.
- Main article: Waqifids
Waqifids were another active sect contemporary with Imam al-Jawad (a) who stopped over imamate of Imam Musa b. Ja'far (a) and did not accept imamate of Imam al-Rida (a). When Imam al-Jawad (a) was asked about praying behind Waqifids, he (a) prohibited Shi'a from doing so.
- Main article: Zaydiyya
Zaidiyya were among other groups contemporary with Imam al-Jawad (a) who had originally branched from Shi'a. Their animosity with Twelver Shi'a and slander toward Imams (a) led to harsh positioning of Imams (a) towards them. For example, Imam al-Jawad (a) referred the address of the verse "Some faces on that day will be humbled, wrought-up and weary" (88:2-3) to Zaidiyya and regarded them similar to Nasibids.
Connection with Shi'as
Through appointing agents in different parts of the Islamic world, Imam al-Jawad (a) was connected with Shi'as. That he (a) was not connected with Shi'a directly and benefited from agents had some reasons, one was that Imam (a) was under serious surveillance and control of ruling government and another was that he (a) wanted to make preparations for the Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a).
Also, the connection of Shi'a with Imam (a) was through sending letters (See: Tawqi'). Much of the teachings remained from Imam al-Jawad (a) are mentioned in his letters to Shi'as. In their letters, Shi'as mentioned their questions which were mostly jurisprudential issues and Imam (a) answered them. In most cases, the name of the one who has written letter to Imam (a) is mentioned and few cases, the name of the author is not mentioned.
In Mawsu'at al-Imam al-Jawad (a), except the names the father and son of Imam al-Jawad (a), the names of 63 people with whom Imam (a) had correspondences are collected from hadith and Rijal sources; however, some letters have been written to a group of Shi'as.
Imam al-Jawad (a) also wrote some letters to his agents in different cities such as Hamadan and Bost and also some Shi'as of Iran went to visit him in Medina. These visits are in addition to visits which took place during the days of Hajj between Imam (a) and Shi'as.
Hadiths from Imam (a)
Since Imam al-Jawad (a) was martyred at the age of 25 and also he (a) was under surveillance and pressure of the government, he (a) did not have much time to promote Shi'a beliefs. However, even in this short period, he (a) made great efforts for educating students and explaining hadiths about jurisprudence, exegesis, theology and supplication. What we have received from his time is around 250 hadiths in different Islamic fields.
Virtues and Merits
Numerous merits have been reported for Imam al-Jawad (a) in different sources among the most important of which is his superiority in debates and scientific discussions with his contemporary scholars while he was a child. Examples of such merits were mentioned in previous sections. Numerous acts of wonder have also been reported about Imam al-Jawad (a) including:
Acceptance of Prayer
Dawud b. Qasim said, "One day, I went with Imam al-Jawad (a) to a garden. I told him, 'May I be sacrificed for you! I am greedy to eat mud. Please make a Du'a for me!' (so that I give up this habit). Imam (a) did not answer and some days later, he (a) told me, 'O Abu Hashim! God removed [the habit of] eating mud from you.'" Abu Hashim says that, "Since then, there was nothing I hated more than mud."
Fertility of Trees
Upon the return of Imam al-Jawad (a) from Baghdad to Medina, a group of people accompanied Imam (a) out of Medina to see him off. By the time of Maghrib prayer, they arrived in a place where an old mosque was located. Imam (a) went to that mosque to say his prayer. There was a cedar tree in the yard of that mosque which had not yielded any fruits until that time. Imam (a) asked for some water and made Wudu beside that tree and then led a congregational prayer there and after the prayer made a Sajda of gratitude. He (a) then said goodbye to people and went away. The next day, the tree yielded so much fruit and people became so surprised of that. It is narrated from al-Shaykh al-Mufid that he has seen this tree many years later and has eaten from its fruits.
Al-Mu'tasim, the Abbasid caliph summoned Imam al-Jawad (a) from Medina to Baghdad. On Muharram 28, 220/February 5, 835, Imam (a) entered Baghdad and passed away in Dhu l-Qa'da/November of the same year.
The day and month of his martyrdom have been mentioned in some sources as Dhu l-Hijja/December 5 or 6 and in some other sources as the end of Dhu l-Qa'da.
About the cause of his martyrdom, it is said that Ibn Abi Duwad, the judge of Baghdad slandered against Imam (a) after Imam's (a) opinion about cutting the hand of a thief was accepted and Ibn Abi Duwad and many other jurists and courtiers were discredited. After caliph was influenced by the words of the judge, he decided to kill Imam (a) while he (a) was just 25 years old. Mu'tasim used one of his ministers and poisoned Imam (a) and martyred him. However, some believe that Imam (a) was poisoned by Umm al-Fadl, daughter of Mu'mun.
Al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022) said, "Even though some have said that Imam (a) was martyred by poison; however, this has not been proved to me so that I can swear about it." But Mas'udi (d. 346/957) said, "Al-Mu'tasim and Ja'far b. Ma'mun (brother of Umm al-Fadl, wife of Imam al-Jawad (a)) were always thinking about killing Imam (a). Since Imam (a) did not have any child from Umm al-Fadl and his son 'Ali (a) was from his other wife, Ja'far induced his sister to poison Imam (a). This way, they poisoned grapes and Imam (a) ate from them." Mas'udi continues that afterwards, Umm al-Fadl became so regretful of her work and cried so much and Imam (a) cursed her and she was afflicted with a severe illness."
Many of his companions who were also among the companions of his father and his son (Imam al-Hadi (a)) had written works in Fiqh and theology and were known as influential people in their own communities. Companions of Imam al-Jawad (a) and narrators of his hadiths were about 120 people who have narrated about 250 hadiths from him. These hadiths are about different subjects in Fiqh, exegesis and theology. The small number of hadiths narrated from Imam al-Jawad (a) is due to his surveillance and his young age at the time of martyrdom. Among his famous companions are 'Ali b. Mahzyar, Ahmad b. Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Zakariyya b. Adam, Muhammad b. Isma'il b. Bazi', Hasan b. Sa'id al-Ahwazi and Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Barqi. His companions and narrators of his hadiths were not exclusive to Shi'a and there were people from other sects including Sunni sects among them as well.
Introducing some of His Companions
'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani
- Main article: 'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani
'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani was one of the companions of Imam al-Jawad (a) who has narrated some hadiths from him. 'Abd al-'Azim settled in Rey and made great efforts to promote hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and due to his efforts, the number of Shi'a in that region increased.
'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani went to Rey and passed away there and his shrine is well known and visited by many people.
Ibrahim b. Hashim al-Qummi
- Main article: Ibrahim b. Hashim al-Qummi
Ibrahim b. Hashim was one of the companions of Imam al-Jawad (a) who has been referred by scholars of Rijal (biographical evaluation) with titles such as Jalil al-Qadr (highly respectable), Thiqa (reliable) and among the great hadith scholars.
Ibrahim was from Kufa and moved to Qom and promoted hadiths and narrations there. The books Nawadir and Judgments of Imam 'Ali (a) are among his works. He was among students of Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman (a companion of Imam al-Rida (a)). He has narrated hadiths from Imam al-Jawad (a) in different topics such as merits, proofs, companions and Zakat.
Words of Sunni Figures about Him
Imam al-Jawad's (a) scientific dialogues and debates at the time of the government of al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim which solved many scientific problems and issues in Fiqh made Islamic scholars and researchers including Shi'a and Sunni ones surprised so that many of them considered Imam (a) an outstanding figure and praised him, some cases of which are mentioned below:
- Sibt b. al-Jawzi said, "He followed his father's approach in knowledge, piety and generosity.
- Ibn Hijr Haythami wrote, "Al-Ma'mun chose him to become his son-in-law because even with being young, he was superior to all scholars in knowledge and forbearance."
- Fattal al-Nayshaburi said, "Al-Ma'mun became fond of him (Imam al-Jawad (a)) because he saw that even though he was young, he had reached such a great position in knowledge, wisdom, manner and intellectual perfection that none of the great scholars of that time had ever reached."
- Jahiz 'Uthman, a mu'tazili, who was among the opponents of the family of 'Ali (a) has mentioned Imam al-Jawad (a) among 10 Talibids (family of Abu Talib) about whom he has said, "every one of them is knowledgeable, pious, worshiping, brave, generous, pure with pure origin."
Tawassul (Entreaty) to Imam al-Jawad (a)
According to consults of some Shi'a scholars, some Shi'as make Tawassul to Imam al-Jawad (a) for increase in their daily sustenance and solution of their material problems and call him Bab al-Hawa'ij [Gate of Requests]. An example of such consults is quoted by the Second Majlisi from Abu l-Wafa' Shirazi who claimed that the Prophet (s) advised him in his dream to make Tawassul to Imam al-Jawad (a) in material issues.
Al-'Allama al-Majlisi narrated from Abu l-Wafa',
"I was once arrested by son of Ilyas, governor of Kerman and was imprisoned for a while. After a while, I recognized that they are plotting for killing me. I was worried and did not know what to do to free from such a plot. One night I made entreaty to Imam al-Sajjad (a) while I was praying before God and I asked God for freedom. Instantly I fall asleep and I dreamed the Prophet (s) who said, 'Do not make entreaty to me, my daughter, al-Hasan, al-Husayn or others; but for the increase of daily sustenance and solving problems make entreaty to my son al-Jawad (a), through whom God will answer your request.'"
- See also: Tawassul
- The material for this article is mainly taken from امام محمد جواد علیه السلام in Farsi Wikishia.