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

One of the members of the Household is Imam Muhammad bin Ali Aj- 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.

 The Miracle of the Imamate:

Imam Aj- Jawad (a.s.) was open on the line of the Imamate at an early stage, in a way that what was said about Yahya (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.), Aj-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 Law…

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 Aj-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, Al-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 forty."

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

Al- Ma'mun had a great affection for Abu Jaa'far (Aj-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 equaled. Therefore, al-Ma'mun married him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl. Abu Ja'far aj-Jawad (a.s.) 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 ben Muhammad ben Sulayman reported on the authority of Ali ben Ibrahim ben Hashim, on the authority of his father, on the authority of al-Rayyan benShabib, who said:

When al-Ma'moun wanted to marry his daughter Umm al-Fadl to Abu Ja'far Muhammad ben Ali aj-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 Ar-Rida (a.s.). 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 Taliben 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 ar-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 (aj-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 (aj- 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,” they 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 ben Aktham. He was, then, the (outstanding) judge of the time and he would be able to ask a question which (Abu Ja’far aj- 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 ben Aktham. Al-Ma’mun ordered a seat of honor to be put for Abu Ja’far (aj- Jawad) (a.s.), and leather pillows with to be put on it for him. That was done. Abu Ja’far (aj- 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 ben 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 ben Aktham asked al-Ma’mun.

Seek permission from him for that,” al-Ma’mun relied to him then Yahya ben 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 (aj- 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 (aj- 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 ben 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 (aj- 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 (aj- 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 ben 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 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. “Indeed the Commander of the faithful knows better about the decisions he makes.”

This is what makes us say that Aj- 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 the Household (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 (a.s.) 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 Aj- 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 Aj- 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, 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.): “Everyone 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.

Al-Irshad says: “Abu al-Qasim Ja'far ben Muhammad informed me on the authority of Muhammad benYaqub, on the authority of al-Khayrani, on the authority of his father, who said: “I (al-Khayrani's father) was standing in front of Abu al-Hassan al-Rida (a.s.), in Khurasan. Someone asked him: “My Lord, if something happens to you, to whom (will the authority belong)?” “To Abu Jaafar aj- Jawad, my son,” he (a.s.) replied.

The speaker indicated that the age of Abu Ja'far was too young. So, Abu al-Hassan (al-Rida) (a.s.), replied: “God, may He be praised, sent Jesus, son of Mary, to be an apostle, a prophet, the bringer of a revealed law (sharaia), to begin (his mission) when his age was younger than that of Abu Ja'far (aj- Jawad) (a.s.)."

Abu al-Qasim Ja'far ben Muhammad (a.s.) informed me on the authority of Muhammad benYaqub on the authority of Muhammad benYahyah, on the authority of Ahmad ben Muhammad ben Isa, on the authority of Mu'ammar ben Khallad, who said:  “I (Muhammar benKhallad) heard al-Rida (a.s.), say when I mentioned something (about al-Imam's characteristics): “What need have you for that? Here is Abu Ja'far, whom I have brought into my meetings and whom I have made my successor.” Then he added: “We are the Family of the House. Our young inherit from our old.”

Through these narrations, we notice that Imam ar-Rida (a.s.) used to emphasize that Imam aj- Jawad (a.s.) has reached the level of the Imamate although he was still young. That was because ar-Rida wanted to show people who used to ask him about his successor that in the Imamate there is an unseen characteristic that did not follow the normal rules that are known to people.

It is quoted in Al-Kafi on the authority of Muhammad ben Al-Hassan ben Ammar, who said: “I was visiting Ali Ibn Ja'far ibn Muhammad in Madina, recording what he nar­rated from his brother - Musa Ibn Ja'far al-Kadhim. Abu Ja'far, Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Rida entered the mosque of the Messenger (p.) of Allah, where we were sitting, Ali Ibn Ja'far at once sprang up, barefooted and without his cloak, to receive him and kissed his hand with great respect. Abu Ja'far told him: “O uncle, sit down, may Allah have mercy on you.” He said: “O my Lord, how could I sit while you are still standing?” When Ali Ibn Ja'far returned to his seat, his friends chided him for his too humble behavior, telling him: “How could you do this, while you are his father's uncle?” “Stop it! He said, Allah, the Exalted, did not endow this old man- seizing his own beard - but endowed this youth and placed him where he is, could I deny his merit? May Allah protect me from what you say! Nay, I am just a servant to him.”

The testimony of the honorable Ali bin Jaa'far proves that the Imamate of aj- Jawad (a.s.) was clear and that the senior men of Banu Hashim used to recognize this Imamate. The most important proof on that was glorifying Aj- Jawad (a.s.) and being too humble to his Imamate's position through saying: “I am just a servant to him”, through his uncle.

Ar-Rida (a.s.)'s letters to his son aj- Jawad (a.s.)

When al-Rida (a.s.) was in Kharasn and aj- Jawad was in al-Medina, al-Rida (a.s.) wrote to him (a.s.) saying: "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. May Allah prolong your life and protect you from your enemy my son. May your father be a sacrifice for you. I gave you my money and the choice of spending it as you see fit, while I am still alive. I hope that Allah will bless …. Allah, the Most Exalted, says in His Holy Book: "Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? It is Allah that giveth (you) Want or plenty, and "to Him shall be your return" (2:245) and "Let him who has abundance spend out of his abundance and whoever has his means of subsistence straitened to him". (65:7)

This letter reveals that Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) wanted his son aj- Jawad, although still young, to hold the responsibility of kinship, play the role of his father (a.s.) when he was absent from Al-Medina and follow up the news and send them to him. We also notice through Ar-Rida's saying: “May your father be a sacrifice for you”, a great love and passion towards his son, especially that aj- Jawad was his only son who used to fill his heart….

In another letter to his son aj- Jawad (a.s.), Imam ar-Rida (a.s.) said: “May my soul be sacrificed for you, I have heard that when you ride, the retainers make you go out of the small door of the garden; this is a sign of miserliness in them lest anyone should attain good from you. So I ask you though my right over you that you should go out and come in through the big door, and if you ride, Allah willing, keep with you gold and silver. When someone asks you for something, you give him. When one of your uncles asks you to give him, then do not give him less than fifty dinars; as for more than this amount, that is up to you. When one of your aunts asks you to give her, then do not give her less than fifty dinars; as for more than this amount, that is up to you. And when one of Quraysh asks you (to give him), then do not give him less than twenty-five dinars as for more than this amount, that is up to you. Surely I want Allah to give you success, so fear Allah. Give and do not fear miserliness from the Master of the Throne."

Through this message, Ar-Rida called upon Imam aj- Jawad (a.s.) not to respond to the servants and people around him who used to be bothered when people, especially that aj- Jawad's relatives used to ask him (a.s.) for their needs. That was because the retainers wanted him to be far away from the humanitarian relationship that connects him to his followers. Allah wanted Aj- Jawad to rebel against those retainers and be open on people with bestowing, based on his trust on Allah Who will compensate for the givers-who give money for the poor-and will raise their ranks.