The Imam was moved from prison to prison because none of those ordered to kill the Imam were able to carry out such a brutal act. At last, Harun al-Rashid found someone heartless enough to carry out the task. Imam Kadhim was held in Baghdad for four years when he was poisoned by Sindi, the atrocious police chief of Baghdad.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (peace be upon him) was born in Abwa, a city between Mecca and Medina, on the 7th of Safar in the year 128 AH. The life of Imam al-Kadhim was one of valor and piety. Much as they tried, the enemies of Ahlul Bayt could not prevent him from acting as God’s representative on Earth. The miraculous nature of the Seventh Imam’s life was found in the fact that although his imprisonment at the hands of the various caliphs of his time spanned such a great length, he continued to guide his followers away from falsehood. Imam Kadhim had entered the Abbasid prisons a young man, and died inside one at the age of 55.
Heir of His Father’s Knowledge
The impeccable character of Imam Kadhim personified piety and knowledge. At the time of his life, there was no scholar or scientist of equal caliber to the Imam, a fact proven by the many debates he had with intellectuals of his time. For any layman, such a vast amount of wisdom would have been miraculous; however, Imam Kadhim was the son of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, who had thousands of scholars as his students, most notably the Father of Chemistry, Jabir bin Hayyan (Geber).
The Seventh Imam’s mother was Lady Hamida, who was the daughter of a nobleman from present-day Algeria. The 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (peace be upon him) is reported to have told Lady Hamida, “You are Hamida (the praised one) in this world and Mahmuda (praiseworthy) in the hereafter.” Imam as-Sadiq used to direct the questions of his female followers to the mother of Imam Kadhim, because he was certain her knowledge was more than sufficient to guide them as his answers would have.
The high status of Imam al-Kadhim among the believers can be found in the many epithets that he held among them.
Al-Kadhim: Restrainer of His Anger. Imam Kadhim lived during a time of intense cruelty and torture at the hands of the Abbasid caliphate. Despite the efforts of his enemies, Imam Kadhim was patient and would spend his nights praying and in worship of God. Contrary to the manner in which others treated him, Imam Kadhim was known for treating all those who came to him with great humility and granting the request of the needy with the utmost sincerity. Due to his ascetic character, even his enemies would be in awe at the divine nature of Musa ibn Jafar. During his captivity by Yahya Barmaki, the most cruel and unjust guard was appointed to watch the Imam. He would repeatedly insult the Imam and use the most foul of words towards him. However, and as was nature for a prince of Bani Hashim, Imam Kadhim would only speak to the guard in most kind and respectful ways. The guard soon realized the spiritual excellence of Imam Kadhim, changed his way, and eventually became one of the most loyal followers of the Imam. When the caliph found out about the change of heart the guard had, he demanded an explanation. The guard replied, “Under no circumstances can I be harsh to this Chosen Guide. I can sacrifice my life but I cannot bear anything against my Imam.”
Bab Al-Hawa’ij: The gateway to fulfilling needs. Over 1300 years have passed and to this day, hundreds of thousands of believers annually make their way to the shrine of Imam Kadhim with their prayers and seek his intercession to God. Similarly in his lifetime, Imam Kadhim would never return a beggar empty-handed and was renowned for his generosity. Regardless of the fact that he was constantly under assault by the tyrannical rulers, Imam Kadhim continued to grant the wishes of the needy. One day a man came to the Imam and pleaded to him that he was indebted 400 Dirhams, his clothes were worn out, and he had no horse to travel on. The Imam gave him 400 Dirhams, his own clothes, and a horse. Finally, the man told then Imam, “Master! I have no need for all these things. I had only come to test the generosity of Ahlul Bayt. I am actually a very wealthy man, and I have brought these 5000 Dirhams for you. It is by way of Khums payment.” Imam Kadhim took the money and distributed it among the needy believers. Even after his death, the believers go to the Imam’s shrine with prayers for cures for their illnesses, and their supplications are granted by God.
The Honorable Leadership
During Imam Kadhim’s era, the Abbasid caliphate began to introduce music and other social ills as part of Islamic culture; however, they also knew that as long as Imam Kadhim was alive, people would be able to realize that they were wrong. As a result, they sought to kill the Imam due to his nobility and spiritual status. There was no doubt that the Seventh Imam was the most religious, knowledgeable in Islamic law, pious and the most generous of his time.
For a period of time, Imam Kadhim was imprisoned in Basra under Isa, who penned a letter to the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid. In the letter, he wrote, “It has been a while that Musa ibn Ja’far is in my jail. I have been watching him all the time and I have put some guards to look over him; however, he has done nothing but worship. I assigned someone to listen to his prayers, but he was never heard cursing us; and as for himself, he asked for nothing but forgiveness and mercy from Allah. I request that you send someone to take Musa ibn Ja’far from me; otherwise, I will set him free, since I cannot keep him in jail anymore.” The guards who watched the Imam reported having heard him constantly uttering the following words in his prayer, “O Allah! You are aware that I had asked for a private place to worship You, and You have provided me with such a place; praise shall only be to You.”
The 25th of Rajab
The Imam was moved from prison to prison because none of those ordered to kill the Imam were able to carry out such a brutal act. At last, Harun al-Rashid found someone heartless enough to carry out the task. Imam Kadhim was held in Baghdad for four years when he was poisoned by Sindi, the atrocious police chief of Baghdad. He would be martyred three days later on the 25th of Rajab in the year 183 AH at the age of 55. Continuing their policy of hatred towards the Family of the Prophet, the Abbasid leaders ordered the Imam’s body to be placed on a bridge. The devotees of the Imam, however, managed to bury him in Baghdad.
The blessed shrine of Kadhimiya houses the bodies of Imam Kadhim and his grandson Imam Muhammad Jawad (peace be upon them). Allama Majalisi described the miraculous nature of the shrine, “In every period there have been so many miracles (mu’jizaat) and demonstrations of power (karamat) at the tomb of these two saints that there is no need to describe cases of the past. In our own times there are so many instances occurring and recurring that to recount them would be a lengthy process.”