Thursday, 26 July 2012

Imam Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Baqir (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Parts of the following were adapted from an article by Brother Muhammad Jamaal al-Din ibn Abdul Wahid al-Hanafi.

A king requested the presence of a sayyid in his court, but with the intent of destroying him.  When the sayyid appeared, the king sought his forgiveness, bestowed many gifts upon him and then dismissed this Hashimite in a very courteous manner.  When asked why he acted in such a manner, the king replied, “When he came in, I saw two lions; one on his right and one on his left, who threatened to destroy me if I should attempt to do him harm.”  The wali Allah (s.w.t.) Protected in this story is Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir (q.s.).  This tremendous conveyer of ‘ilm was a great asset of the ummah, though very few know of him.

His full name and lineage is Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Abu Thalib al-Qurayshi al-Hashimi.  He was born in the city of Madina in 57 AH.  His father and teacher was Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, survivor of the tragedy of Karbala, son of the Sayyid ash-Shuhadah, Husayn ibn ‘Ali, (r.a.).  His mother was Sayyidah Fathimah bint al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (r.a.).  From this marriage, was born the first generation of the Ahl al-Bayt who was both al-Hasani and al-Husayni.  Both the paternal and maternal sides were connected to ‘Ali ibn Abu Thalib (r.a.) and Fathimah az-Zahrah (r.a.).

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) had three brothers: Shaykh ‘Abdullah (q.s.), Shaykh al-Hasan (q.s.), and Shaykh al-Husayn (q.s.), in addition to being the half-brother of Imam Zayd ibn ‘Ali ash-Shahid (q.s.).  Imam Zayd (q.s.) and Imam Muhammad (q.s.) shared different opinions in light of the political situation that existed in their time.  While Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) chose not to become involved in political matters, Imam Zayd ash-Shahid (q.s.) marched against the Umayyad to claim the Khalifat, but fell victim to a Shi’ah conspiracy.  He became a martyr, similar to his grandfather, being betrayed and deserted in Karbala.

The kunya for Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (q.s.) was “Abu Ja’far”, though his was given many titles, such as “Abu ‘Abdullah”, “Imam Muhammad al-Baqir”, and “Mawlana al-Baqir al-‘Ulum”.  The most commonly used title is “al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir.”  “Baqir” literally means “to rip open or cut open.”  In the case of Imam al-Baqir (q.s.), he split open knowledge, so that is scrutinised and examined to the limits of it so that it could be spread to all people.  Therefore, his title also meant, “The Expounder of Knowledge.”  Those who were fortunate to be in his presence have unanimously reported that he would rip knowledge down to its very root, reaching its origin, and then convey that knowledge to the people.

Shaykh Ahmad ibn Hajr al-Makki (q.s.) wrote in his book, as-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa: “al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir has disclosed secrets of ‘ilm and hikmah and unfolded the principles of spiritual and religious guidance.  Nobody can deny his character, his God-Given knowledge, his Divinely-Gifted hikmah, and his obligation and gratitude towards the spreading of knowledge.  He was a sacred and highly-talented spiritual leader and for this reason, he was popularly titled al-Baqir, which means the expounder of knowledge.  Kind in heart, spotless in character, saved by soul, and noble by nature, the Imam devoted all his time to Allah’s ‘ibadah.  It is beyond the power of a man to count the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithful.  His saying in devotion and abstinence, in knowledge and wisdom and in religious exercise and submission to Allah are so great in number that the volume of this book is quite insufficient to cover them all.”

Shaykh Shibli Nu’mani (r.a.) wrote in his book, Swirat an-Nu’mani that “the Ahl al-Bayt were the fountainhead of hadits, fiqh, and in fact, all religious learning,” and because of this truth, many seekers of Islamic knowledge sought Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) as he possessed great knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and the sunnah of Sayyidina Rasul al-Akram (s.a.w.).  Many of the tabi’in, taba at-tabi’in, fuqaha’ and mujtahidin related and reported numerous Islamic sciences on the authority of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) as he was distinguished for his extensive knowledge of Islamic science and for his subtle indication as to the meanings of the ayat of the Holy Qur’an.  Because of the great knowledge of hadits Allah (s.w.t.) Blessed him with, his name is found in the isnad of many swahih ahadits collections.  He was also known for his conveying the history and life of Nabi al-Akram (s.a.w.) and his family.  He became recognised as one of the fuqaha’ of Madina who many learned men would come to for answers to questions of jurisprudence.  A famous quote from him that describes this station held by the Ahl al-Bayt came from the question he was asked regarding Allah’s (s.w.t.) ayat in Surah an-Nahl: ‘Ask the Ahl adz-Dzikr if you do not know,’ he answered: ‘We are the Ahl adz-Dzikr.’

And before thee also the messengers We Sent were but men, to whom We Granted Inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. (Surah an-Nahl:43)

The swalihin from amongst the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet, (s.a.w.) never chase after dunya nor do they have any regards for this worldly life.  They devote their time and effort to the service of the ummah, seeking the Pleasure of only Allah (s.w.t.).  This was the case with Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) as he was not only well-known for his vast knowledge, but also for the immense ‘ibadah he would put time into.  Imam Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn ‘Utsman al-Hujwari (q.s.) and Qadhi Abu Fadhl ‘Iyadh ibn Musa (q.s.) relate in their works, Kashf al-Mahjub and ash-Shifa', respectively, that Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) was a very devout Muslim and spent very much time performing ‘ibadah.  He would spend much of his nights glorifying Allah (s.w.t.).  As a result of his devotion to Allah (s.w.t.), he was Endowed with ‘ilm of many sciences of the nafs, thus Endowed with knowledge of both the exoteric and esoteric sciences of the Diyn.”

Rasulullah (s.a.w.) related that his Ahl al-Bayt would be faced with adversities.  Such was true for Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.), because he lived in a time of much internal strife amongst Muslims, a period of bloodshed of Muslims at the hands of Muslims.  In addition, there was much friction between Bani Hashim and Bani Umayyah.  Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (q.s.) lived in the period of the Umayyad Dynasty of Sulayman, ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (q.s.), Yazid II, and Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.  The period of the Khilafat of ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (q.s.) was a positive one for the Ahl al-Bayt because not only did he bring an end to the bad-mouthing of ‘Ali bin Abu Thalib (k.w.) and his descendants, but he also gave the orchard of Imam Fadik to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) out of his tremendous respect for and devotion to the descendants of Prophet Muhammad(s.a.w.) which was accepted by Imam Abu Ja’far (q.s.).

Imam Abu Ja’far (q.s.) married the great grand-daughter of Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.), Umm Farwa’ bint al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (q.s.).  From this marriage to Umm Farwa’ (q.s.), he was the father of another great Sayyid Imam of the Ahl as-Sunnah, Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.).  He succeeded his father and become another great faqih and wali of Madina.

The contributions to Islam by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) and his progeny are great.  One such example is found within the Hanafi madzhab.  It is safe to say that the madzhab of the Ahl al-Bayt or most directly linked to them is the Hanafi madzhab.  Imam al-A’azham Abu Hanifah Nu’man ibn Tsabit (r.a.) gained much knowledge from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) as well as his son, Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.).  In Swirath an-Nu’man, it is written that “Abu Hanifah sat for a long time at Imam Muhammad al-Baqir’s feet and acquired from him much valuable knowledge of fiqh and hadits, not available anywhere else.”  Even Shi’ah books fully attest to this fact and much more.  Shaykh ibn Muthahhir al-Hilli (r.a.), a famous Shi’ah scholar, wrote in his books, Nahj al-Haqq and Minhaj al-Karamah fi Thariqa’ al-Imamat that Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) learned from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.) as well as from his son, Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.), attaining high grades in their company.  Shaykh al-Hilli (r.a.) also mentioned the fact that Imam al-A’azham Abu Hanifah (r.a.) was given ijazah to give fatwa and perform ijtihad by at least three members of the Ahl al-Bayt: Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.); his half-brother, Imam Zayd ibn ‘Ali Shahid (q.s.); and his son, Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.).

Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (q.s.) returned to Allah (s.w.t.) on the 7th of Dzu al-Hijjah in the year 114 AH in Madina.  He is buried in al-Baqi’ cemetery where many other members of the Ahl al-Bayt, shuhadah, and swahabah rest.

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