Birthday of Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS)
Heartiest congratulations to you on a day of double joy. It is obvious the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal is the auspicious birth anniversary of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). For your information this blessed day also happens to be the birth anniversary of the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) in 83 AH, exactly on the 136th birthday of his illustrious ancestor, the Prophet of Islam.
What a blessed coincidence, so let us listen to a special feature that we have prepared in this regard. Let us first contemplate on a gem of an advice given by the 6th Imam to one of his followers:
“O son of Jundab, regard him who ruptured relations with you, give him who deprived you (of his bestowals), treat kindly him who mistreated you, greet him who reviled you, be just to him who disputed with you, and pardon him who wronged you in the same way you like others to pardon you. Take lessons from God’s pardoning you; do you not see that His sun is covering the pious and the licentious and His rain is falling on the virtuous and the wrongdoers?”
This above gem of an advice was given to a person named Abdullah ibn Jundab, and it speaks volumes of the dynamic spirit of Islam. It is the formula for building bridges in society so as to ensure a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere for attracting others to the universal message of Islam.
The person who bequeathed these bezels of wisdom to posterity was none other than the Reviver of the Prophet’s Sunnah and Seerah (i.e. behaviour and practice), who was born in Medina in the year 83 of the Hijra.
It was indeed Divine Providence that the birthday of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger should also be the birthday, 136 years later, of his 6th Infallible Heir, who like the Prophet, has also earned lasting fame as “Sadeq” or the Most Truthful.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) needs no introduction. Born in 83 AH, 22 years after the heartrending tragedy of Karbala where his great-grandfather, Imam Husain (AS) – the grandson of the Prophet – was martyred, he spent the first dozen years of his life with his grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), and another 19 years with his own father, Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (AS), whom he succeeded to the imamate at the age of 31 in 114 AH.
He lived in a crucial period of history when the Godless Omayyad tyrants were on their way towards the dustbin of history, while the equally ungodly Abbasids were emerging as the new breed of usurpers of the right of political leadership of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt.
The first 18 years of his imamate saw the tyrannical rule of the Omayyads Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik, Walid II ibn Yazid II, Yazid III ibn al-Walid II, Ibrahim ibn al-Walid II, and Marwan II al-Hemar (literally the Donkey) – all of whom had no pretension to religiosity and were notorious for their open violation of the laws of God and the teaching of the Prophet.
In the next 16 years of his imamate, the Prophet’s Successor shouldered a graver responsibility. First, after the overthrow of the Omayyads, there was the offer of caliphate by one of the victorious generals of the uprising, and the Imam whose authority was God-given, burned the sealed envelope of the offer in the flame of a lamp.
Imam Sadeq (AS), whose own God-given authority as Heir of the Prophet’s historical proclamation of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as the divinely-designated vicegerent, was beyond the grasp of any usurper, desisted from any rash decision when one of the victorious commanders of the anti-Omayyad uprising sent him a letter offering the caliphate.
The Imam coolly burned the sealed letter in the light of a lamp because he knew that a caliphate which is offered by someone else than God is not legitimate authority, as was the case with the scandalous gathering of Saqifa Bani Sa’dah in Medina when a deviant group selected a caliph from themselves after a fist fight amongst themselves, while the Prophet’s rightful heir, Imam Ali (AS), was busy in the funerary seminary of the Seal of Messengers.
Once an Iranian chieftain from Khorasan, named Sahl bin Hassan came to Medina and asked Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), as to why he wasn't actively fighting for his denied political rights, in spite of the truth being on his side, when there were thousands of supporters ready to fight with him.
The Imam asked him to sit down and wait. In the meantime, a servant came and was asked by the Imam whether the fire had been kindled. On receiving the reply in the affirmative, the Imam took Sahl bin Hassan with him and went to the oven. The fire was blazing red. The Imam turned to Sahl and told him to jump into it. Sahl trembled and begged forgiveness. At this moment, Haroun al-Makki, a devoted follower of the Ahl al-Bayt came, and was told by the Imam to jump into the oven. Haroun leapt into blaze without a second thought.
The Imam then turned to Sahl bin Hassan, and as if nothing unusual had happened, started to brief him about the circumstances prevailing in Khorasan, while the eyes and the mind of the Iranian chieftain were occupied with the fate of the person who had jumped into the oven . After a while, the Imam took Sahl toward the oven to show him what had transpired for Haroun al-Makki. To his surprise, Sahl saw Haroun al-Makki sitting cross legged safe and sound in the blazing oven without being scorched or scalded by the fire.
Imam Sadeq (AS) then asked the Iranian chieftain as to how many of his followers in Khorasan were like Haroun al-Makki. Sahl replied: “No one O Master".
In the social and jurisprudential fields, it was thus prudence on the part of Imam Sadeq (AS) that saved Islam and the Sharia’h of the Prophet of Islam from suffering the fate of Prophet Jesus’ mission that was completely distorted by Paul the Jew to become Christianity as it is known today.
In the intellectual fields, so thoroughly did the Imam revolutionize sciences and academic learning that at one time 4000 scholars from various parts of the Islamic World – Asia, Africa and Europe – sat at the feet of the heir of the Prophet to learn various disciplines, including jurisprudence, theology, rhetoric, ethics, hadith, exegesis of the holy Qur’an, accounts of the past Prophets (history), and natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, botany, etc. Among its proud products was the Father of Chemistry, Jaber ibn Hayyan (known as Geber to medieval Europe).
Next was the devilish plot of Mansour Dawaniqi, the 2nd self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime. Originally a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt, he had memorized thousands of hadith on the merits of Imam Ali (AS), but became a turncoat on assuming rule of the Islamic realm. He not only tormented Imam Sadeq (AS), whose God-given authority he had acknowledged in his days as a persecuted fugitive during Omayyad rule, but labeled the Shi’a or devoted followers of the Ahl al-Bayt as “Rafidhoon” or rejecters of the caliphate.
It was a seditious act since no such sect had ever existed before in Islamic history.
In the face of such intricate plots, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), during his 34-year mission as the Righteous Heir of the Prophet of Islam, bequeathed to the seekers of truth the jurisprudence known as “Fiqh al-Ja’fari”