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Imam of Twelver Shia Islam
Calligraphy of Ja'far al-Sadiq
|Rank||6th Twelver/Musta‘lī Imām
5th Nizārī Imām
|Name||Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Alī|
|Birth||17th Rabī‘ al-Awwal 83 AH
≈ 24 April 702 C.E.
|Death||15th Shawwāl 148 AH
≈ 8 December 765 C.E.
|Buried||Jannatul Baqī‘, Medina|
|Life duration||Before Imāmate: 31 years
(83 – 114 AH)
- 12 years with his grandfather Imām as-Sajjād
- 19 years with his father Imām al-Bāqir
Imāmate: 34 years
(114 – 148 AH)
(Farwah bint Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr)
Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq (Arabic: جعفر بن محمد الصادق) (702–765 C.E. or 17th Rabī‘ al-Awwal 83 AH – 15th Shawwāl 148 AH) was a descendant of Ali from his father's side and a descendant of Abu Bakr from his mother's side and was himself a prominent Muslim jurist. He is revered as an Imam by the adherents of Shi'a Islam and as a renowned Islamic scholar and personality by Sunni Muslims. The Shi'a Muslims consider him to be the sixth Imam or leader and spiritual successor to Muhammad. The internal dispute over who was to succeed Ja'far as Imam led to schism within Shi'a Islam. Al-Sadiq was celebrated among his brothers and peers and stood out among them for his great personal merits. He is highly respected by both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims for his great Islamic scholarship, pious character, and academic contributions.
Shi'a Islamic fiqh, Ja'fari jurisprudence is named after him. Like many other Imams of that period Jafar al-Sadiq (702-765) did not write anything down, wanting people instead to concentrate on the Quran. The books on Ja'fari jurisprudence were later written by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (864- 941), Ibn Babawayh (923-991), and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274).
Ja'fari jurisprudence worked along side many Muslim scholars of his time, including Abu Hanifa and Malik Ibn Anas. As well as being considered an Imam of the Shi'a, he is revered by the Naqshbandi Sunni Sufi chain. He is included in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain of Sufi masters after his grandfather Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and his great great grandfather of Abu Bakr.
He was a polymath: an astronomer, Imam, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, writer, philosopher, physician, physicist and scientist. He is also reported to be the teacher of the famous chemist, Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber).
Birth and family life
Ja'far al-Sadiq was born in Madinah on 24 April 702 AD (17 Rabi' al-Awwal, 83 AH), to Muhammad al-Baqir (son of Zayn al-‘Ābdīn, son of Husayn son of Ali) and Umm Farwah (daughter of Al-Qasim son of Muhammad son of Abu Bakr).
Aishas brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr raised by Ali. When A'isha's brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Umayyad Empire, she raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Qasim's mother was from Ali's family and Qasim's daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim was married to Muhammad al-Baqir and was the mother of Ja'far al-Sadiq. Therefore, Qasimwas the grandson of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq. Ja'far's grandfather from his mothers side Qasim was raised and taught by A'isha, after his father was killed by the Umayyads. Qasim's mother was from Ali's family and Qasims daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim was married to Muhammad al-Baqir and was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq. Therefore Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr was the grand son of Abu Bakr the first caliph and the grand father of Jafar al-Sadiq. The Twelvers Shia do not accept Abu Bakr as the first caliph but do accept his great-grandson Jafar al-Sadiq.
Ja'far ibn Muhammad has three titles; they are as-Sadiq, al-Fadil, and at-Tahir.
Ja'far al-Sadiq was 34 years old when his father was poisoned upon which, according to Shi'a tradition, he inherited the position of Imam.
- Ja'far al-Sadiq s/o Muhammad al-Baqir s/o ‘Alī s/o Husayn s/o Ali (husband of Fatimah, the daughter of Prophet Muhammed) s/o Abu Talib
- Ja'far al-Sadiq s/o Muhammad al-Baqir s/o Fatimah d/o Hasan s/o Fatimah d/o Muhammad
- Ja'far al-Sadiq s/o Umm Farwah d/o Al-Qasim s/o Muhammad s/o Abu Bakr (biological father)
- Ja'far al-Sadiq s/o Umm Farwah d/o Al-Qasim s/o Muhammad s/o stepson and adopted son of Ali
Marriage and offspring
Following his wife's death Al-Sadiq purchased a slave named Hamidah Khātūn (Arabic: حميدة خاتون), freed her, trained her as an Islamic scholar, and then married her. She bore Musa al-Kadhim (the seventh Imam) and Muhammad al-Dibaj and was revered by the Shī‘ah, especially by women, for her wisdom. She was known as Hamidah the Pure. Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq used to send women to learn the tenets of Islam from her, and used to remark about her, "Hamidah is pure from every impurity like the ingot of pure gold."
As a child, Ja'far Al-Sadiq studied under his grandfather, Zayn al-Abidin. After his grandfather's death, he studied under and accompanied his father, Muhammad al-Baqir, until Muhammad al-Baqir died in 733.
Ja'far Al-Sadiq became well versed in Islamic sciences, including Qur'an and Hadith. In addition to his knowledge of Islamic sciences, Ja'far Al-Sadiq was also an adept in natural sciences, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, anatomy, alchemy and other subjects.
The foremost Islamic alchemist, Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber, was Ja'far Al-Sadiq's most prominent student. Ja'far Al-Sadiq was known for his liberal views on learning, and was keen to have discourse with Scholars of other views.
After the passing of Muhammad, there was a need for jurists, to decide on new legal matters. In the years proceeding Muhammad, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq whose views most Shias follow and Imam Abu Hanifa and Malik ibn Anas whose views most Sunnis follow worked together in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. Along with Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, Muhammad al-Baqir, Zayd ibn Ali and over 70 other leading jurists and scholars. Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas was written as a consensus of the opinion, of these scholars. The Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas quotes 13 hadiths from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq. Aisha the wife of Muhammad, also a renowned scholar of her time, taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr was the grand son of Abu Bakr and the grand father of Jafar al-Sadiq. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and Muhammad al-Baqir taught Zayd ibn Ali, Abu Hanifa, Jafar al-Sadiq and Malik ibn Anas.
Much of the knowledge we have about Muhammad is narrated through Aisha, the wife of Muhammad. Aisha raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr the grandson of Abu Bakr and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq. Aishas also taught her nephew Urwah ibn Zubayr. He then taught his son Hisham ibn Urwah, who was the main teacher of Malik ibn Anas whose views many Sunni follow.
In the books actually written by these original jurists and scholars, there are very few theological and judicial differences between them. Imam Ahmad rejected the writing down and codifying of the religious rulings he gave. They knew that they might have fallen into error in some of their judgements and stated this clearly. They never introduced their rulings by saying, "Here, this judgement is the judgement of God and His prophet."  There is also very little text actually written down by Jafar al-Sadiq himself. They all give priority to the Qur'an and the Hadith (the practice of Muhammad). They felt that the Quran and the Hadith, the example of Muhammad provided people with almost everything they needed. "This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion" Quran 5:5.
The differences between the denominations in Islam are primarily political and amplified after the Safavid invasion of Persia and the subsequent Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam due to the politics between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire. Before that point Jafar al-Sadiq disapproved of people who disapproved of his great grand father Abu Bakr the first caliph.
Ja'far Al-Sadiq is also cited in a wide range of historical sources, including al-Tabari, al-Yaqubi and Al-Masudi. Al-Dhahabi recognizes his contribution to Sunni tradition and Isma’ili scholars such as Qadi al-Nu'man recorded his traditions in their work.
- Scholars believed to have learned extensively from Ja'far Al-Sadiq:
- Jābir ibn Hayyān – known in Europe as Geber, a great alchemist.
- Musa al-Kadhim – his son, the seventh Shi’ah Imam according to the Twelvers
- Isma'il ibn Jafar – his son, the sixth Ismaili Imam according to the Ismailis.
- Ali al-Uraidhi ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq- his youngest son.
- Mufadhal ibn Amr- his Gate keeper and a prominent student.
- Sunni scholars Abū Ḥanīfa and Malik ibn Anas worked with Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, Hisham ibn Urwah, Salim ibn Abd-Allah, Zayd ibn Ali, Ja'far Al-Sadiq and Muhammad al-Baqir
- Abū Ḥanīfa - founder of Hanafi school of thought.
- Malik ibn Anas – founder of the Maliki school of thought.
- Others who worked with Ja'far Al-Sadiq:
Ja'far al-Sadiq developed Ja'fari jurisprudence at about the same time its Sunni legal fiqh counterparts were being codified. It was distinguished from Sunni law "on matters regarding inheritance, religious taxes, commerce, and personal status."
Under the Umayyad rulers
Ja'far Al-Sadiq lived in violent times. Ja'far Al-Sadiq was considered by many Shia (follower) of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib to be the sixth Shi'a imam, however, the Shi'ahs were considered heretics and rebels by the Umayyad caliphs. Many of Ja'far Al-Sadiq's relatives had died at the hands of the Umayyad.
After Hussein ibn Ali was betrayed, the people of Kufa called Zayd ibn Ali the grandson of Husayns over to Kufa. Zaydis believe that on the last hour of Zayd ibn Ali, Zayd ibn Ali was also betrayed by the people in Kufa who said to him: "May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab?" Zayd ibn Ali said, "I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing them both nor saying anything but good about them...when they were entrusted with government they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah"
Ja'far Al-Sadiq did not participate, but many of his kinsmen, including his uncle, were killed, and others were punished by the Umayyad caliph. There were other rebellions during these last years of the Umayyad, before the Abbasids succeeded in grasping the caliphate and establishing the Abbasid dynasty in 750 CE, when Ja'far Al-Sadiq was 48 years old.
Muhammad al-Baqir and his son, Jaffar al-Sadiq, explicitly rejected the idea of armed rebellion. Many rebel factions tried to convince Ja'far al-Sadiq to support their claims. Ja'far Al-Sadiq evaded their requests without explicitly advancing his own claims. Al-Sadiq declared that even though he, as the designated imam, was the true leader of the ummah, he would not press his claim to the caliphate. He is said to burned their letters (letters promising him the caliphate) commenting, "This man is not from me and cannot give me what is in the province of Allah". Ja'far Al-Sadiq's prudent silence on his true views is said to have established Taqiyya as a Shi'a doctrine. Taqiyya says that it is acceptable to hide one's true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger.
The incidents and difficulties, which come into human life can, measure and find out the extent of his energy and faith. The difficulties, which cropped up in the life of Ja'far Al-Sadiq and the patience and forbearance, which, he showed towards them, illuminated his personality and worth. Howsoever they (enemies) abused and teased him he showed patience and forbearance and admonished them. He never cursed or used foul language about them.
Under the Abbasid rulers
The new Abbasid rulers, who had risen to power on the basis of their claim to descent from Muhammad's uncle ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, were extremely suspicious of Ja'far al-Sadiq, whom many considered to have a better claim to the caliphate. Many followers of Zayd ibn Ali were ready to listen to al-Sadiq after being prosecuted ruthlessly by the Abbasids . Al-Sadiq was watched closely and, occasionally, imprisoned to cut his ties with his followers. Ja'far endured the persecution patiently and continued his study and writing wherever he found himself.
After Ja'far al-Sadiq's death during the reign of the ‘Abbāsids, various Shī‘ī groups organised in secret opposition to their rule. Among them were the supporters of the proto-Ismā‘īlī community, of whom the most prominent group were called the "Mubārakiyyah".
There are hadīth which state that Ismā‘īl ibn Ja‘far "al-Mubārak" would be heir to the Imamate, as well as those that state Musa al-Kadhim was to be the heir. However, Ismā‘īl predeceased his father.
Some of the Shī‘ah claimed Ismā‘īl had not died, but rather gone into hiding, but the proto-Ismā‘īlī group accepted his death and therefore that his eldest son, Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl, was now Imām. Muḥammad remained in contact with this "Mubārakiyyah" group, most of whom resided in Kūfah.
In contrast, Twelvers don't believe that Isma'il ibn Jafar was ever given the nass ("designation of the Imamate"), but they acknowledge that this was the popular belief among the people at the time. Both Shaykh Tusi and Shaykh al-Sadūq did not believe that the divine designation was changed (called Bada'), arguing that if matters as important as Imāmate were subject to change, then the fundamentals of belief should also be subject to change. Thus Twelvers accept that Mūsá al-Kāżim was the only son who was ever designated for Imāmate.
This is the initial point of divergence between the proto-Twelvers and the proto-Ismā‘īlī. This disagreement over the proper heir to Ja‘far has been a point of contention between the two groups ever since. The split among the Mubārakiyyah came with Muḥammad's death. The majority of the group denied his death; they recognised him as the Mahdi. The minority believed in his death and would eventually emerge in later times as the Fāṭimid Ismā‘īlī, ancestors to all modern groups.
Another Shia branch that emerged around the figure of Ja'far al-Sadiq was the Tawussite Shia. Following the death of al-Sadiq, the Tawussite's denied that he died and instead believed in his Mahdism.
Another Shia branch claimed that al-Sadiq's eldest surviving son Abdullah al-Aftah was the Imam to succeed his father. This branch was known as the Fathites. There is little evidence of them surviving beyond al-Aftah’s death, since he is commonly believed to have left no descendants.
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the QurayshBorn: 17 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 83 AH ≈ 24 April 702 CE Died: 15th Shawwāl 148 AH ≈ 8 December 765 CE
|Shī‘a Islam titles|
|6th Imam of Shia Islam
Isma'il ibn Jafar
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