Musa al-Kadhim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Musa al-Kazim)
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Twelver Shī‘ah scholar, see Musa al-Sadr. For the African-American Muslim activist, see Abdul Alim Musa.
Musa al-Kadhim
موسى الكاظم  (Arabic)

7th Imam of Twelver Shia Islam
Born c. (745-11-10)10 November 745 CE[1]
(7 Safar 128 AH)
Al-Abwa, Medina, Umayyad Empire
Died c. 4 September 799(799-09-04) (aged 53)
(25 Rajab 183 AH)
Baghdad, Abbasid Empire
Cause of death
Death by poisoning
Resting place
Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, Iraq
33°22′48″N 44°20′16.64″E / 33.38000°N 44.3379556°E / 33.38000; 44.3379556
Other names Musa ibn Ja'far
Ethnicity Arab, Berber
Term 765 – 799 CE
Predecessor Ja'far al-Sadiq
Successor Ali al-Ridha
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Ummul Banīn Najmah[5]
and 3 others
Parents Ja'far al-Sadiq
Hamīdah al-Barbariyyah[2][3]

Mûsâ ibn Ja‘far al-Kâdhim (Arabic: موسى بن جعفر الكاظم‎), also called Abul Hasan, Abu Abd Allah, and Abu Ibrahim is known for his nickname al-Kadhim (the forbearing), and is the seventh Shiite Imam after his father Ja'far al-Sadiq. He is regarded by Sunnis as a renowned scholar and was contemporary with the Abbasid caliphs, Al-Mansur, Al-Hadi, Al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. He lived in very difficult times, in hiding, until he finally died in Baghdad in the Sindi ibn Shahak prison through poisoning. Ali al-Ridha, the eighth Imām, and Fatemah Masume were among his children.[2][11][12][13]

Birth and early life[edit]

Being born during the fight between the Abbasids and Umayyads, Musa al-Kadhim had only four years when the first Abbasid Caliph, As-Saffah, came to the throne. His mother, Hamidah, was formerly a Berbery or Andalusian slave. With nine sisters and six brothers Musa brought up in a large family. Ismail, his oldest brother died before Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, and Musa was chosen by "Divine providence" to come after his father as the next Imam.[13] He was fully conversant with the Divine Knowledge even from his early life. Muhammad Baqir Majlisi relates that once Abū Ḥanīfa called on the house of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq for some religious question. While he was waiting at Imam's door to get permission to enter, his son Musa who was five years old then, came across him. When Abu Hanifa knew he was al-sadiq's son, asked him about the question he had prepared for his father, saying: "Boy, from whom does disobedience (issue)? Does it issue from Allah or from the servant?" Musa answered him, saying: "Either it issues from God and not from the servant at all, so God does not punish the servant for what he does not do; or it issues from the servant and God, and God is a stronger partner. Therefore, the stronger partner has no right to punish the weak for a sin in which they are equal; or it issues form the servant and not from God. So If He wills to pardon (him), (He will pardon him), and If He wills to punish (him), (He will punish him); and God is He whose help is sought." upon hearing this, It said, that Abu Hanifa left there saying that the answer had been good enough for him.[a][14]

It is also related that once Abū Ḥanīfa complained to Imam al-Sadiq, saying: "I have seen your son, Musa, pray while the people were passing before him. He did not prevent them from that." Imam ordered his son to be brought: “O My little son, Abu Hanifa says that you pray and the people pass before you.” Asked imam sadiq. "Yes, father," replied Musa, "the One to Whom I pray is nearer to me than them; Allah, the Great and Almighty, says: We are nearer to him than the jugular vein."[b] Upon hearing this the Imam rose for him, hugged him, and said: "May my father and mother be your ransom, O he in whom secrets have been deposited!"[15]

His Imamah[edit]

The history of the Shiite Imams generally demonstrates their constant struggle against oppression, which sometimes included practicing taqiyya, a form of religious dissimulation. As for Imam al-Kadhim, when his father, the sixth imam, was poisoned, Mansur further wanted to put an end to the whole question of imamah so he wrote to the governor of Medina commanding him to go to the house of the deceased Imam on the pretext of expressing condolences to the family, and to ask for the Imam’s testament and read it. Whoever was chosen by the Imam as his successor should be beheaded. Reading the testament, however, the governor of Medina saw that the Imam had chosen four people rather than one: the caliph himself, the governor of Medina, the Imam’s older son Abdullah al-Aftah, and Musa, his younger son. Accordingly the plot of Mansur failed. Nevertheless, Unlike his father who lived in an approving climate in which he was able to teach freely in Medina, Musa al-kadhim lived with intense restriction set by Abbasid caliphs such as al-Mansur and Harun al-Rashid.[16]


After the death of Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, the majority of Shiites followed his son Musa al-Kazim while another group, followed Isma'il, the older son of Ja'far al-Sadiq, who had died while his father was still alive. This latter group separated afterwards from the majority of Shiite and became known as Ismailis. Others accepted as Imam either Abdullah al-Aftah or Muhammad, both sons of the Ja'far al-Sadiq. Finally, another group stopped with the sixth Imam himself and considered him as the last Imam. After the death of Imam Musa al-Kazim, however, the majority followed his son, Ali al-Ridha, while some stopped with the seventh Imam and became known as the Waqifiyah. From the eighth Imam to the twelfth Imam, whom the majority of the Shiite consider him as the promised Mahdi, no important division took place in Shiism.[c][17][18]


  • Harun al-Rashid, the opponent of the Imam, has admitted that Imam Musa had the true qualities of a true Imam and that he was more deserved to inherit the Caliphat from Muhammad than other than him. He declared that when his son al-Ma'mun had asked him about the reason why he magnified the Imam, said that Musa al-Kadhim was "the Imam of the people, the Proof of Allah's mercy to His creation and His caliph among His servants". "I am", Harun said "outwardly the Imam of the masses by force and through oppression, while Musa ibn Ja'far is the Imam in truth." In spite of that, however, he said that he would not deliver the Caliphat to the Imam: "by Allah, If you yourself attempt to take such caliphate from me, I shall take it away from you even if that means gouging your eyes, for power is blind." However, he advised his son to get true knowledge from the Imam saying: "This (Musa al-Kadhim) is the inheritor of the knowledge of the Prophets ... If you desire sound knowledge, you will find it with this."[19] It Is interesting to note that afterwards when al-Ma'mun inherited the Calaphit from Harun, he was insisting to give it to Musa al-Kadhim's son, Ali al-Ridha, the eighth Shiite Imam, arguing that he fond "no person on the face of earth more learned than this man (i.e. Imām al-Ridā)"[20]


With Harun al-Rashid[edit]

It is said that once al-Rashid and the Imam were together before the tomb of Muhammad in Medina, when, to show his family ties to Muhammad, Harun had said, "Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of God, unto thee who art my cousin!" However they faced the tomb, the Imam said, "Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!" which made Harun furious. "Abul-Hasan, such glory as thine is truly to be vaunted of" said Harun.[13] Later on he found the opportunity to question him asking why he had permitted people to ascribe him to Muhammad and to call him: "O Sons of Allah's Apostle", while he was the son of Ali, and that one is ascribed to his father, and that Fatimah, his mother, was a container, and that Muhammad was his grandfather on the side of his mother. The Imam replied him asking "If the Prophet was raised from the dead and proposed to your daughter, would you respond to him?" "Rather I would through that pride myself on the Arabs, the non-Arabs, and Quraysh." answered Harun. "But he would not propose (to my daughter) and I would not marry (her) to him." said the Imam. "Because he begot me and did not beget you." Harun, however, was not satisfied with this answer insisting that "the progeny belongs to the male and not to the female", and that the Imams were Muhammad's daughter's children.[21]

The Imam, hence gave him some proof from the Quran stating that God had said in his book: "and of his descendants, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron; and thus do We reward those who do good. And Zachariah and John the Baptist, and Jesus and Elias: All in the company of the righteous"[d] "Who is Jesus's father, O Commander of the faithful?" asked the Imam. "Jesus had no father." Said Harun. The Imam argued that God had ascribed Jesus to the descendants of the prophets through Mary; "similarly, we have been ascribed to the descendants of the Prophet through our mother Fatimah," said the Imam.[21] Nevertheless, Harun asked Imam Musa to give him more evidence and proof, So he put forward another proof from the Quran, reciting the verse: "But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come, let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars."[e] Then he said: "None claims that the Prophet made someone enter under the cloak when he challenged the Christians to a contest of prayer to God (mubahala) except Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn. Therefore the explanation of the verse is: Our sons are al-Hasan and al-Husayn; our women is Fatimah; ourselves is Ali."[f][21]

With Bishr al-Hafi[edit]

It is been related that Bishr al-Hafi led a corrupt life spending his days and nights in impudence. Once in the midst of the noise, music, alcoholic drink and frivolity Musa al-Kadhim happened to pass by his house in Baghdad. Meanwhile al-Kadhim saw a slave girl coming out of his house carrying some sweepings. He turned to the slave and asked her: "Is the owner of this house free or a servant?" "He is free," she replied. "You are right," responded Musa al-Kadhim, "if he was a servant, he would fear his Lord."[22] The slave girl came into the house while Bishir was still at the wine table: "What delayed you?" asked Bishr. She informed him of what had happened between her and the Imam. It is said that Bishr rushed to the door barefooted but the Imam had already left, so he left in search of the Imam and when he found him asked him to repeat his words and he did. Bishr was so taken aback by his words that he fell on the ground and began to cry. "No I am a slave, I am a slave." From then on he would walk without shoes and people would call him Bishr al-Haafi (The bare footed one). When been asked why he did not wear shoes, he would say that he was guided while he was barefooted so he would remain in that condition till death.[22]

With a Monk[edit]

It is said that Al-Abbas b. Hilal al-Shami said to Musa al-Kadhim that people admired him who ate simple food, wore coarse clothes, and showed reverence. Thus the Imam reminded him of Joseph who had been a prophet still he had used to wear silk mantles decorated with gold and sat on the thrones of the Pharaohs and ruled. "The people were in no need of his clothes, but they were in need of his justice." said the Imam. "An Imam is required to be just and fair; when he says something, he says the truth; when he promises something, he fulfills his promise; when he passes a judgement, he judges equitably. Allah has not forbidden wearing a particular type of clothes or eating a particular type of food earned through a lawful way; rather He has forbidden the unlawful, little or much." Then he recited the verse: "Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah which He has produced for His servants, and the agreeable things of the sustenance."[g][23]

Selected Sayings[edit]

  • "Allah has two proofs over men: outward proof and inward one. As for the outward proof, it is the messengers, the prophets, and the Imams. As for the inward proof, it is reason."[24]
  • "little work from a scholar is doubly accepted; much work from the men of low desire and ignorance is refused."[25]
  • "Try hard that your time may be four hours: one hour is for supplicating Allah, one hour for the affairs of the livelihood, one hour for associating with the brothers (friends) and the reliable ones who let you know your defects and who are inwardly loyal to you, and one hour for that you are alone with yourselves (and) for non-forbidden things. Through this hour you have power over the three hours."[26]
  • "Tell yourselves of neither poverty nor a long lifetime, for whoever tells himself of poverty becomes miserly. Whoever tells himself of a long lifetime becomes greedy."[26]
  • The generous and polite is under the protection of Allah; He does not leave him until He makes him enter the Garden. Allah sends out none as a prophet except the generous.[27]
  • "Misfortune is one for the patient and two for the impatient."[27]
  • "Silence is among the doors to wisdom; it brings about love and is a proof of all good things."[27]
  • "Good neighbor is not refraining from harm, but good neighbor is showing patience toward harm."[28]
  • "O Hisham, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, has said: 'Allah is not served through a thing better than reason. Man's reason is not perfect unless it has various qualities: unbelief and evil from him are safe. Reason and good from him are hoped. The surplus of his money is spent. The surplus of his speech is prevented. His share of the world is only daily bread. ... Abasement along with Allah is more beloved to him than exaltedness along with other than Him. Humbleness is more beloved to him than high rank. He regards as much the little good from other than him and as little his own good. He sees all men better than him, and that he is the most wicked of them in his soul."[29]
  • "When Harun al-Rashid, threw him into the dark cells of prisons, he thanked Allah saying: "O Allah, you know that I used to ask You to give me free time to worship You. O Allah, You have done that. To You be praise."[30]
  • "How base is the world for people, unless God give them joy; and how great is this life, if God is not angry with them."[13]


Imam Musa al-Kadhim was of a gentle manner and was tolerant in his nature. He was called Kadhim (the forbearing) due to his extreem pardoning those who violated him. Concerning his generosity and tolerance Ibn Khallikan says "that when a man had spoken ill of him he sent him a purse of money."[13] The most famous story of this kind is about a man who wronged Imam Musa and cursed his grandfather Imam Ali. the Imam's followers intended to kill him, but the Imam prevented them deciding to solve the problem in his own way. He asked people about the man's place and they led him to the outskirts of Medina, where he found the man on his farm. He approached him but the man shouted at him not to walk on his plants. The Imam paid no attention and when reached him, sat beside him and treated him kindly asking how much had the man paid to sow his land. "One hundred dinars." said the man. "How much do you hope to acquire from it?" asked the Imam. "I do not know the unknown." Said the man. "I only asked you about what you hope it would bring you." insisted the Imam. The man answered "two hundred dinars", and the Imam gave him three hundred dinars saying "This three hundred dinars is for you and your plants are as they are."[31]

Then the Imam headed for the Mosque of the Prophet, where he saw the man was already sitting there. When he saw the Imam stood up for him and called out the verse: Allah knows best where to put his (prophetic) mission.[h] His companions were surprised at this change, but the man recited to them the noble deeds of the Imam and invoked Allah for him. Hence, the Imam turned to his companions and said: "Which was better-what you wanted or what I wanted? I have put right his attitude to the extent you have now become acquainted with."[31] Musa al-Kadhim was also called Abdu' al-Salih, (the Holy Servant) In illustration of his religious rather than political interest, which was typical of all the Imams. He used to wrap in packets sums of two hundred, three hundred, or four hundred dinars and distribute them in the town of Medina.[13] His purses were well known, thus his family said: "We wonder at him to whom Musa's purses come while he complains of paucity and poverty"[32]

Imprisonments and Death[edit]

First Imprisonment[edit]

It may have been this generosity which brought him under suspicion when the, Caliph al-Mahdi had him arrested and brought to Baghdad. But as Ibn Khallikan relates: "This Caliph had a dream in which Ali ibn Abu Talib appeared to him and said, 'O Muhammad, were ye ready therefore, if ye had been put in authority, to commit evil in the earth, and to violate the ties of blood?'"[i] Al-Fadl ibn al-Rabi' relates in these terms what followed: "He sent for me at night and that put me in great dread. I went to him and found him chanting the above verse and no man had a finer voice than he. He said to me, 'Bring me Musa ibn Ja'far.' I did so and he embraced him, seated him by his side and said to him, 'Abul-Hasan, I have just seen in a dream the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abu Talib, and he has recited to me such and such a verse; give me the assurance that you will not revolt against me or against any of my children.' He answered, 'By Allah, I am incapable of revolting.' 'You say the truth!' replied the Caliph, 'give him three thousand pieces of gold and restore him to his family in Medina.' I arranged the affair of his departure that very night, lest some obstacle might turn up, and before morning the man was on his journey."[j][13]

Second Imprisonment[edit]

In the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid the Imam was also repeatedly subject to suspicions, one of which aroused from the situation where the Imam and Harun were together before the tomb of Muhammad. To show his own family ties to Muhammad, Harun had said, "Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of God, unto thee who art my cousin!" The imam instead retorted "Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!" which made Harun say "Abul-Hasan, such glory as thine is truly to be vaunted of. Salutation unto thee, O Prophet of God, unto thee who art my cousin!" But as he faced the tomb, the Imam said, "Salutation unto thee, o my dear father!" At this Harun was disconcerted and remarked, "Abul-Hasan, such glory as thine is truly to be vaunted of."[k][13]

This incident would be enough to explain his first summon from Harun al-Rashid to come to Baghdad, where he was kept in prison. Al-Khuzai, the head of the palace guards, has related a dream the Caliph had supposedly had which made him to release the Imam: "A messenger came to me from al-Rashid," he said, "at an hour in which I never before received his visits; he pulled me from the place where I was and would not even allow me to change my clothes. This put me in great fear. When I arrived at the palace, I found the caliph sitting up in his bed. I saluted him, but he kept silent for some time; so my mind was much troubled and my fears greatly augmented. At length he said, 'Do you know why I sent for you at such an hour?' I answered, 'By Allah, I do not, Commander of the Faithful.' 'Know,' said he, 'that I just had a dream in which it seemed to me as if an Abyssinian came to me with a javelin in his hand and said to me: 'Let Musa ibn ja'far be set at liberty this very hour, otherwise I shall slay thee with this javelin.' Do you therefore go and get him set free.' I replied, 'Commander of the Faithful, shall I then liberate Musa the son of Ja'far?' 'Yes,' said he, 'go and set Musa ibn Ja'far at liberty. Give him thirty thousand dirhems and say to him in my name, If you would like to remain with us you will obtain from me whatever you desire, but if you prefer going to Medina you have permission to do so.' I went to the prison and found the Imam waiting for me saying how quickly you had come. 'Whilst I was asleep,' he said, 'behold the Apostle of God came to me and said, O Musa, thou hast been imprisoned unjustly; so recite the words I am going to repeat to thee, for assuredly thou shalt not pass all this night in prison."[l][m][13]

Final Imprisonment[edit]

As to what may have led to his final imprisonment, it is said that it is stated by al-Fakhri that "there were some of the relatives of Musa ibn Ja'far who were envious of him and carried false reports about him to al-Rashid, saying, 'The people are paying him the Khums, or one-fifth of their property, on accepting the Imamah, and he is about to come forth against you.' They brought this report to al-Rashid so frequently that it made him anxious and agitated. In that year al-Rashid went on the pilgrimage, and when he arrived in Medina, he arrested Musa ibn Ja'far, and brought him to Baghdad in a litter, and imprisoned him under the care of al-Sindi ibn Sha'hik."[n][13]

Al-Fakhri adds "Al-Rashid was at Rakka when he sent orders that the Imam should be put to death. They then brought a number of reputable men to Karkh to act as coroners and to testify publicly that he had died a natural death. He, then, was buried in the cemetery of Quraish on the south side of Baghdad." The place he was buried was a cemetery, but soon this place became the focus of pilgrimage on the grave of the Imam. A town grew around the grave yard. The name of the town became Kadhimiya, (the town of the Imam Kadhim) A reputed school of theology was founded in this town which is still a source of learning for many students from all over the world.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Al-Murteda, Amali, vol. 1, pp. 105-106, and Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 4, p. 1049
  2. ^ Quran, 50:16
  3. ^ Among the sects which separated from the majority of Shiites only Zaidiyyah and Ismaili continue to exist till now.[17]
  4. ^ Quran, 6:84,85
  5. ^ Quran, 3:61
  6. ^ For more information see the Event of Mubahala
  7. ^ Quran, 7:32
  8. ^ Quran, 6:124
  9. ^ Quran, 47:22
  10. ^ Ibn Khallikan, ap. cit.
  11. ^ See Ibn Khallikan, trans. de Slane, iii. p. 463. Cf. E. H. Palmer, Haroun ar-Rashid, p. 129.
  12. ^ This narration continues as follows:I replied, "For thee I should give up father and mother, what must I say?" "Repeat these words," said he: " 0 thou who hearest every voice! o thou who lettest no opportunity escape! o thou who clothest the bones with flesh and who wilt raise them up after death! I invoke thee by thy holy name, and by that great and awful name which is treasured up and closely hidden, by that name which no created thing shall ever know I o thou who art so mild and whose patience is never equalled! o thou whose favours never cease and can not be numbered, set me free!" So you see what happened.[13]
  13. ^ See Al-Masudi, Muruju'l-Dhahab, vi, p. 308; and Ibn Khallikan, op. cit.
  14. ^ See AI-Fakhri (Ibnu'l-Tiktil,ni), in the Adab .al-Sultaniyya, Chrestomathie Arabe, Silvestre de Sacy, i, text, p. 7, and translation, p. 6.


  1. ^ Shabbar, S.M.R. (1997). Story of the Holy Ka’aba. Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. pp. 135–143. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Infallibles Taken from Kitab al Irshad By Sheikh al Mufid". Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir. The Life of Imam Musa Bin Ja'far al-Kazim (as). Trans. Jāsim al-Rasheed. Najaf, Iraq: Ansariyan Publications, n.d. Print. Pgs. 59-60, 596, and 622
  5. ^ A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. p. 137. 
  6. ^ al-Irshad, by Shaikh Mufid [p.303]
  7. ^ Kashf al-Ghumma, by Abu al-Hasan al-Irbili [vol.2, p.90 & 217]
  8. ^ Tawarikh al-Nabi wa al-Aal, by Muhammad Taqi al-Tustari [p. 125-126]
  9. ^ al-Anwar al-Nu`maniyya, by Ni`mat Allah al-Jaza’iri [vol.1, p.380]
  10. ^ Umdat al-Talib, by Ibn Anba [p. 266 {footnote}]
  11. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 60
  12. ^ a b Tabatabai 1975, p. 181
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Donaldson, Dwight M. (1933). The Shi'ite Religion: A History of Islam in Persia and Irak. BURLEIGH PRESS. pp. 152–160. 
  14. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 69
  15. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 198
  16. ^ Tabatabai 1975, pp. 180–181
  17. ^ a b Tabatabai 1975, pp. 68–69
  18. ^ Corbin, Henry (2001). The History of Islamic Philosophy. Translated by Liadain Sherrard with the assistance of Philip Sherrard. London and New York: Kegan Paul International. p. 31. 
  19. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 134
  20. ^ Bāqir, Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imām 'Ali Bin Mūsā al-Ridā. Translated by Jāsim al-Rasheed. p. 81. 
  21. ^ a b c Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, pp. 200–202
  22. ^ a b Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 130
  23. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 214
  24. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 160
  25. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 165
  26. ^ a b Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 195
  27. ^ a b c Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 187
  28. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 188
  29. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 167
  30. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 120
  31. ^ a b Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 129
  32. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi2 2000, p. 125


External links[edit]

Quotations related to Mūsā al-Kādhim at Wikiquote

Musa al-Kadhim
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 7th Safar 128 AH 6 November 745 CE Died: 25th Rajab 183 AH 1 September 799 CE
Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Jafar al-Sadiq
7th Imam of Twelver Shi'a Islam
765 – 799
Succeeded by
Ali al-Ridha