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The Generous and Pious

Even at a young age, Imam Jawad held a level of piety, knowledge, forbearance, and justice only known to the divinely appointed Prophets and Imams. He was thus able to challenge even the most learned in Islamic sciences.

Forty years of the life of Imam Ali ar-Ridha (peace be upon him) had passed, and he still had no son to inherit the Imamate. On the tenth of Rajab, in the year 195 AH, the followers of Imam Ridha were blessed with the auspicious birth of the sole heir to their Imam. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad’s (peace be upon him) birth helped ease the anxiety that many Shias were having at the time with regards to who would continue the Imamate after Imam Ridha.

His Blessed Lineage

Imam al-Kadhim (peace be upon him) had spoken highly of the virtue and great status that belonged to Imam Jawad’s mother. Lady Sabika (also known as Khaizarun) was from the same family as Maria Qutbiya, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). The Prophet himself sent blessings upon the pious Lady Sabika. He told his companions, “My father be sacrificed on the mother of the ninth Imam, who will be a pure and pious Nubian.” The parents of Imam Jawad were both granted a great status among the believers and were recognized for their piety, fear of Allah, and worship.

His Titles

The Imam was characterized by many epithets that accurately reflected His sublime virtues, among them being:

Al-Jawad: The generous, which is an accurate reflection of Imam Jawad’s many acts of kindness and charity. The life of our ninth Imam exemplified benevolence and generosity. The door of Imam Jawad was always open to the poor who would come to him for food. The Imam would also seek the poor people of Medina at night and bring to them whatever items he could.

Al-Taqi: The Pious. Imam Jawad was married to Umm Fadhl, the daughter of Caliph Mamoon ar-Rashid. However, he continued to lead a simple life, opting for poverty instead of the deceiving wealth that his wife was attached to. The Imam also resisted the plans of the Abbasid caliph who tried to stray him off the righteousness with material items. Instead, Imam Jawad found refuge in Allah, and these acts of piety also earned him the title Al-Mutawakkil (The Reliant on Allah).

Al-Qani’ and Ar-Radhi: The Content. Imam Jawad used to lead a life of simplicity, free from the shackles of greed. His clothes used to be made from a very basic fabric that was anything but extravagant. One day, when someone approached the Imam about his dress and asked why he didn’t choose to don more expensive dress, Imam Jawad replied, “We Ahlul Bayt are content on whatever we get, and we do not allow greed to approach us.”

The Miraculous Imamate

At the time of Imam Ridha’s death, Imam Jawad was only 9 years old. Naturally, there were those that believed that due to his youth, the Imam could not inherit something as significant and great as the Imamate. However, it soon became apparent to even the most learned of Islamic scholars that Muhammad Jawad possessed a level of knowledge that no fallible could claim. Imam Ridha had declared his son as next Imam, and when his companions inquired about Imam Jawad’s tender age, Imam Ridha told them, “Allah sent Jesus the son of Mary (as a prophet) though he was even younger than Abu Ja’far (Imam Jawad) will be when he shall become the Imam.”

Even at a young age, Imam Jawad held a level of piety, knowledge, forbearance, and justice only known to the divinely appointed Prophets and Imams. He was thus able to challenge even the most learned in Islamic sciences. One such example would be his encounter with Yahya ibn Akhtham, who was at the time considered among the most learned of scholars. He had attempted to humiliate the Imam (who was at the time very young) by asking him: “What is atonement for a person who hunts while he is dressed in the pilgrimage garb (Ahram)?” The prodigious Imam calmly replied to the question posed, “Your question is utterly vague and lacks definition. You should first clarify whether the game killed was outside the sanctified area or inside it, whether the hunter was aware of his sin or did so in ignorance, did he kill the game purposely or by mistake, was the hunter a slave or a free man, was he adult or minor, did he commit the sin for the first time or had he done so before, was the hunted game a bird or something else, was it a small animal or a big one, is the sinner sorry for the misdeed or does he insist on it, did he kill it secretly at night or openly during daylight, was he putting on the pilgrimage garb for Hajj or for the Umra? Unless you clarify and define these aspects, how can you have a definite answer?!”

Imam Jawad’s responses caused both laymen and clerics alike to be astounded by his endless knowledge in jurisprudence, Qur’anic exegesis, and the science of traditions. At this point, it had become obvious to everyone, including the Caliph, that God-given knowledge was not bound by age and did not depend on material resources.

Pearls by Imam Jawad

Imam Jawad’s character and piety occupied the highest position possible for a human, and his traditions are a testament to his moral excellence:

Having reliance in God is more of (value or worth) and more precious of anything and is a traddle towards perfections.

Don’t be among those that apparently are friends with God, but His enemy in behind!

And do know that indeed Allah is the All-Clement and All-Knowing, and His wrath is upon the one who does not accept His pleasure. And verily the one who does not accept His grant is refused that. And the one who does not accept His guidance goes astray.

Tending rewards God by hearts is more impressive than tiring members by deeds.

Increase of blessing is not interrupted by God, unless thanksgiving is interrupted by slaves.

The Martyrdom of Imam Jawad

Imam Jawad was murdered by his wife Umm Fadhl, who poisoned his food when the Imam was only 25 years of age. The Imam returned to his Lord on the 29th of Dhil Qa’ad, in the year 220 AH. His Imamate had only lasted 17 years, but however short his leadership was for the Muslims, his life continues as an example of forbearance and generosity. Imam Jawad, like the rest of the Infallibles, lived a life in which they were tyrannically opposed for being sources of guidance and justice for the Muslims against a corrupt leadership.

References:

(1) Akhlaq al-Aimma: Morals of the Imams

(2) The Infallibles: Imam Muhammad al-Taqi

(3) The Life of Imam Muhammad al-Taqi

About Huda Jawad

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  • SM

    A very informative and well-researched article. I particularly like the quotes of the Imam (as); may Allah give us the ability to reflect upon each one and implement it in our lives. Keep up the great work, sister! 😀

  • Zaynab

    Masha’Allah!! great article, well researched and the effort certainly shows. You’ve done a great justice to the Imam and islamic insights should be very proud :-):-)

  • Sadiq

    Very well written – Keep up the good work!

  • Muslim

    May Allah bless you

  • Mahassin

    [quote]Lady Sabika (also known as Khaizarun) was from the same family as Maria Qutbiya, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny)[/quote]

    Wow, didn’t know that fact! thanks for sharing. This article is perfectly timed, tomorrow is the 10th of Rajab! The world reallyneeds more articles like this !

  • Zzzz

    Salam
    Masha’Allah GREAT article! Sister Huda, I look forward to your articles EVERY edition. May you be rewarded along with all the other II staff insha’Allah.
    Jazak’Allah!

  • Shia_2008

    A nice clear and concise article!

  • Zahir Abbas

    jazakallah Sister , a well composed piece of artical ,may Allah bless you !
    We are proud of and Thank to Allah for Such a pure and Knowledgable Imams(A.S)
    he has sent for the mankind .

  • Ali Abidi

    If he was 9 years at time of shahadat of 8th Imam (as), then he would not have reached the legal (shariah) age of maturity.. which implies he could not have even led prayers at the time .. let alone bigger tasks. Would it not be more appropriate to say that he was an Imam-in-waiting until he reached the age of maturity at which point he became full-Imam? Historically many, if not most, of the shia of the time took this position. It was the rational, sensible position and it fit the Shariah.

  • SNRizvi

    [quote]Imam ‘Ali ar-Ridha died in 203 A.H.; and Muhammad at-Taqi became the Imam at the age of eight. The age of the Imam caused a concern in the minds of some elder members of the Shi‘a community because no Imam had reached the position of imamate at this young age. Mu‘alla bin Muhammad narrates that after the death of Imam ar-Ridha, he saw Imam at-Taqi and closely observed his physical size and age in order to report it to others. At that moment, Imam at-Taqi said, “O Mu‘alla, All?h has argued about imamat just as he argued about nubuwwat when He said, ‘And We gave prophethood to him [i.e., Yahya] when he was still a child.’”[/quote] ([i]Islam: Faith, Practice & History[/i])

    Prophet ‘Isa, Prophet Yahya and Prophet Sulayman (as) are some examples of others who officially started their Prophethood before reaching the [i]shar’i[/i] age of maturity. Not only did the 9th Imam start his Imamat before reaching the age of maturity, but even the 10th and 12th Imams did as well.

    The Imams are not like us that they go through the process of mental development before reaching the age of maturity. They are bestowed with divine knowledge and don’t learn as we do (i.e. learning more as we grow older). Thus there would be no difference in the Imam before and after the [i]shar’i[/i] age of maturity, except for physical differences.

    Furthermore, there has never and will never be a time when we will be left in this world without a divinely appointed leader. Therefore it would be impossible that there be no official Imam in the time between the 8th Imam’s death and the 9th Imam reaching the age of maturity. So the 9th Imam (as) cannot be called an “Imam-in-waiting” instead of officially being an Imam.

    The Imam’s young age goes to show that piety is what counts for Allah (swt), and not necessarily the age of a person. The example of the 9th Imam (as) also prepared the [i]ummah[/i] for the final Imamat which started at an even younger age.

    By the way, just because “most of the Shi’a of the time” took a certain position, that does not make it the right position. 🙂

    And Allah (swt) knows best.

    • Ali Abidi

      Thank you Sr.Nabila for your comments. Nonetheless, the examples of Prophets Isa, and others do not apply because they were not bound by the Sharia of Prophet Muhammad (sawa). To claim that the Imams are not bound by the Sharia of Muhammad (sawa) would be a major break from foundational Islamic principles. Irrespective of one’s knowledge and taqwa, everyone must be bound by the Sharia. Besides, if the Imams cannot be bound by the Sharia, then they cannot demonstrate how to live by the Sharia – which would also unravel their mission. W/s.

      • najafi110

        There are certain issues in which the laws of Shariah do not apply to the Infallibles [as] or apply differently. For example, as you know very well, believing men are only allowed to have four wives at a time, but this restriction did not apply to the Prophet [saww]. Salat al-Layl is recommended for everyone else, but for the Prophet [saww], it was obligatory. And so on.

        • Ali Abidi

          Salaam. Granted. But we are still at the same point. The issue here is not about Prophet Muhammad (sawa) or earlier Prophets. It is about the Imams. I dont think this discussion will reach anywhere. Lets just say there are two kind of Shia: Those who believe that the whole Ummah (nation that follows Muhammad) including Imams are bound by Shariah, and that Prophet Muhammad was the last one to receive Wahi (revelation) for guiding people. And a second kind of Shia who believe that Imams are not bound by Sharia like other Ummatis, and that they receive wahi (revelations) to teach them for guiding people.

          • najafi110

            WS

            Brother, you are being unnecessarily hostile. Let’s not divide ourselves into this type of Shia and that type. Let’s just talk about this in an academic way. 🙂

            If we accept your contention that “If he was 9 years at time of shahadat of 8th Imam (as), then he would not have reached the legal (shariah) age of maturity.. which implies he could not have even led prayers at the time .. let alone bigger tasks”, then how do you explain the fact that Imam Mahdi [atf] very famously told his uncle Ja’far to step aside and himself led the prayers of his father Imam Hasan al-Askari [as], despite being a child of five years?

        • Abu Hamza

          The Prophet saw was not the same as the Imams, both had different status. Therefor it is batil for you to come and compare the Prophet saw with any Imams, unless for you there are the same???!!!

          [quote name=”najafi110″]There are certain issues in which the laws of Shariah do not apply to the Infallibles [as] or apply differently. For example, as you know very well, believing men are only allowed to have four wives at a time, but this restriction did not apply to the Prophet [saww]. Salat al-Layl is recommended for everyone else, but for the Prophet [saww], it was obligatory. And so on.[/quote]

          • also known as .

            What’s your point? The prophet had the highest status of any person who ever lived, but there were other prophets also and we respect them. Furthermore, Imam Mahdi, who all Muslims believe will come and bring peace to the world, is not a prophet but he will have many miracles.

            To sum it up, just because Prophet Muhammed was the greatest person ever does not mean there aren’t other people with high status also. 8)

  • Azar Ali Zain

    Nice read.

  • leila

    thanks for these article it was very good. I would you people to add somethings about the wifes of the Imam so that we can learn something of live from them. Thanks again for your work