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Mu'min al-Taq

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Companion of Imam (a)
Mu'min al-Taq
Full Name Muhammad b. 'Ali b. al-Nu'man b. Abi Turayfa al-Bajali al-Kufi
Companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a)Imam al-Kazim (a)
Kunya Abu Ja'far
Epithet Mu'min al-Taq • Muhammad b. al-Nu'man • al-Mawla al-Ahwal
Religious Affiliation Shi'a
Place(s) of Residence Kufa
Death/Martyrdom 160/776-77 or (according to another report) after 180/796
Works Al-Ihtijaj fi imamate Amir al-Mu'mininal-Rad 'ala al-Mu'tazila fi Imamate al-MafzulIthbat al-wasiyya etc.

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Nuʿmān b. Abī Ṭurayfa al-Bajalī al-Kūfī (Arabic: ابوجعفر محمّد بن علي بن نعمان ابن أبي طريفة البجلي الکوفي), known as Muʾmin al-Ṭāq ( مؤمن الطاق), was a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Shiite theologian in the 2nd/8th century.

Abu Ja'far was an expert in theology (kalam) and apologetic debates. Most of the works attributed to him are theological. However, he is reported as having debates in fiqh (jurisprudence) with Abu Hanifa. Moreover, some poems have been attributed to him. Some of his opponents attributed non-monotheistic beliefs to him and alleged that he had established the Nu'maniyya sect. Shiite scholars have rejected this claim and have praised him and considered him as reliable. He directly narrated hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) and indirectly from Imam al-Sajjad (a) and Imam al-Baqir (a).

Birth and Lineage

Shiite scholars of 'ilm al-rijal did not mention Mu'min al-Taq's dates of birth and death, but Zirikli took his date of death to be 160/776-77 (and Isma'il Pasha Baghdadi took it to be after 180/796-97).

His kunya (teknonym) was Abu Ja'far, and his epithets were "al-Ahwal", "al-Taqi" , "Sahib al-Taq", and "Shah al-Taq". He had received these epithets since he had an exchange shop in "Taq al-Mahamil", a neighborhood in Kufa. And since he was an expert in his job and detected fake money, he came to be called "Shaytan al-Taq". It is also said that when he defeated Abu Hanifa in a debate, Abu Hanifa called him "Shaytan al-Taq" (Satan of taq) for the first time. And when Hisham b. al-Hakam heard this, he was the first person who called him "Mu'min al-Taq" (faithful of al-Taq). He was sometimes called Muhammad b. al-Nu'man (al-Nu'man being his grandfather).

According to Arabic lexicons, such as Taj al-'arus and Qamus, "Taq" is a place in Tabaristan, where Muhammad b. al-Nu'man resided. But Mamaqani rejected this account, and held that they resided in Kufa. Mamaqani disagrees with other biographers, such as al-Najashi, who believed that he was called "Shaytan al-Taq" because he was an expert in detecting fake and impure money. He believes that he was called so because of his debates with opponents of Shiites.

In the middle of the 2nd/8th century, he lived in Kufa. According to some hadiths, he was highly respected by Imam al-Sadiq (a). His father's uncle, Mundhir, and his son, Husayn, narrated from Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a).

Scientific Position

Expertise in Theology

A debate between "Mu'min al-Taq" and "Abu Hanifa"

- Abu Hanifa: Do you believe in raj'a?

- Mu'min al-Taq: Yes.

- Abu Hanifa: So lend me 500 dinars so that I give it back to you when I return in raj'a.

- Mu'min al-Taq: I will accept to do that, provided that you guarantee that you return in a human form. I fear that you return in a non-human form, so that I will not know you and cannot get my money back from you.

In his al-Fihrist, al-Shaykh al-Tusi took him to be a professional scholar of theology who quickly replied to his opponents in debates. There was a man from Syria who was referred by Imam al-Sadiq (a) to different people on each issue; with regard to issues of theology he was referred to Mu'min al-Taq. His debates with Abu Hanifa are very well-known. In al-Ihtijaj, al-Tabrisi collected his debates.

According to some hadiths, he debated Zayd b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn with regard to the Imamate of Imam al-Sadiq (a). Also his debates with Abu Hanifa, Ibn Abi Khidra, Dahhak Shadi from Khawarij, Ibn Abi l-'Awja', and others are cited.

In addition to theology, he was also an expert in fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadith. He had a debate with Abu Hanifa regarding divorces and temporary marriage (mut'a).

Hadith

According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi, he was a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Imam al-Kazim (a). He narrated hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) both directly and indirectly through Abu 'Ubayda al-Hadhdha', Zakariyya Naqqad, and Sallam b. Mustanir. He narrated hadiths from Imam al-Sajjad (a) through two people (Sallam b. Mustanir from Thuwayr b. Abi Fakhta), and through one person, (Durays and Sallam b. Mustanir), from Imam al-Baqir (a).

His name has been mentioned is in a total number of 30 hadiths. These hadiths address beliefs (Imamate and virtues of Imam Ali (a)), fiqh and morality. In his will to Mu'min al-Taq, Imam al-Sadiq (a) made some recommendations regarding taqiyya (dissimulation), love for Ahl al-Bayt (a), avoidance from polemic quarrels and the like.

Some people narrated hadiths from him, including: Hasan b. Mahbub, Aban b. 'Uthman, Muhammad b. Sinan, Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman, and Abu l-Fadl Makfuf, Ibn Udhayna.

Shiite scholars of 'ilm al-rijal, such as Najashi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi, praised Mu'min al-Taq and considered him to be a reliable narrator of hadiths. Al-Kashshi cited two hadiths reproaching him, but according to Ayatollah Khu'i, those hadiths are not reliable.

Poems

In his book, al-Shu'ara, Marzbani cited a poem from Mu'min al-Taq.

Works

  • Al-Ihtijaj fi imamate Amir al-Mu'minin
  • His viewpoints against Khawarij
  • Debates with Abu Hanifa and Murji'a
  • Al-Imamate
  • Al-Ma'rifat
  • Al-Rad 'ala al-Mu'tazila fi Imamate al-Mafzul
  • Al-Jamal fi amr Talha wa Zubayr wa 'A'isha
  • Ithbat al-wasiyya
  • "If'al la taf'al": in this book, he pointed to the most important Islamic sects, such as qadiriyya, khawarij, Sunnis and Shiites. He believed that Shiism is the only right and saved sect. Al-Najashi saw the book with Ibn al-Ghada'iri and said that some later scholars distorted the book, adding hadiths regarding contradictions in the speeches of Sahaba and their vices.

Rumors About Him

Mu'min al-Taq, also known as Muhammad b. al-Nu'man, has also been taken to be the head of the Nu'maniyya or Shaytaniyya sect. Some non-monotheistic beliefs are attributed to him, including the beliefs that:

  1. God has no knowledge of the world before creating it
  2. God is an immaterial light in a human form.

Shahristani has attributed to him the beliefs of Mushabbiha (those who liken God to creatures) and non-monotheistic views. Ibn Hazm maintains that Mu'min al-Taq has said in his book, al-Imama, that 40th verse Sura al-Tawba is not in the Qur'an.

However, Shiite scholars reject such attributions. Al-Najashi said that they attribute to him things that are not true. Abd Allah Mamaqani rejects the view that he was from Tabaristan and that he was affiliated with the Shaytaniyya sect. In his book, A'yan al-shi'a, al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin says that Ibn Hazm does not know his name, so how can he know about his life and beliefs? He takes the Shaytaniyya sect to be a sect that never existed and Mu'min al-Taq is exonerated from these accusations.

References