By Saira Naqavi
Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad (as) is the ninth Imam of Twelvers. He was born on 10th Rajab 195 Hijri in Medina. His father was called childless by the opponents as it was presumed that the chain of Imamate will be broken and Imam Ali Reza (as) will be left without any linage. At his birth, Imam Ali Reza (as) introduced him as a “Blessed Child.” He said:
“This is a child, more blessed than him is not born for our followers.”1
In this article, the leadership and diplomatic status of Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad (as) will be discussed.
As a Leader
Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad (as) was eight and not accepted as “next in line” after the martyrdom of his father, Imam Ali Reza (as). Other than his followers, a few people considered the age of puberty as one of the requirements of Imamate. Hence, both father and son referred the verses of the Holy Quran to confirm this status.
“And We gave him*2 judgment while still a child.” 3
Speaking of the Prophet Isa (as) in the first days after birth 4
The opponents believed in the imamate of Imam Taqi’s uncle “Abdullah ibne Musa” but later they denied him after he got failed to answer their questions regarding Hajj. It was Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad (as) whose satisfactory answers promoted his certainty as an Imam amongst Shiites.
Imam Taqi (as) was contemporary with two Abbasid caliphs: the first was Ma’mun and he spent twenty-three years of his life at the time of his caliphate. The second was Mu’tasim al-Abbasi; two years of his caliphate were contemporary with his Imamate. According to some researchers, the earlier had some political motives and he requested Imam Taqi (as) to marry his daughter “Umm ul Fazl.” In this way, he wanted to control Imam Taqi Al-Jawad (as) and his relation with his followers or to show himself interested in Alavis and prevent them from making uprising. Imam married Umm ul Fazl but did not have any child from her. As he was directly monitored by the then government, so his political activities remained restricted. Anyhow, he was much intelligent to deal with such circumstances, made a huge network of his spokespersons in different parts of Islamic world and was in connection with his followers through it. A noticeable thing is that this strategy was also adopted by keeping in a view of the challenges of upcoming Imam(s). Imam Taqi (as) contacted his followers through letter writing as well and answered their questions.
During his Imamate, other sects like Hadith, Waqifids, Zaidis and Ghulat were also active. People of Hadith believed in the embodiment of God, while Waqifids and Zaidis were narrated similar to Nasibis. Imam prohibited his followers to follow earlier in congregational prayer and paying zakat to them; he also prohibited them to follow later sects in congregational prayer. He cursed Ghulat (exaggerators).
As a Debater
The debates of Imam Muhammad Taqi Al-Jawad (as) can be marked “victorious” in which he proved his scholarly and intellectual strength. His worth mentioning debates are on Hajj, Caliphs and cutting the hand of a thief. Despite of being restricted, he continued teaching Islamic beliefs, jurisprudence and interpretation of the Holy Quran.
It is said that Ibn Abi Da’ud, the judge of Baghdad slandered against Imam after his opinion about cutting the hand of a thief was accepted and Ibn Abi Da’ud and many other jurists and courtiers were discredited. After getting influenced by the words of the judge, Mu’tasim al-Abbasi used one of his ministers and poisoned Imam and martyred him. However, some believe that Imam was poisoned by Umm ul Fazl, daughter of Ma’mun. He was just twenty-five at that time. His holy shrine is in Kazmain, Baghdad. Taqi, the Pious and Jawad, the Generous are his famous titles.
1. Al-Kafi: vol1 pg321
2. him* (Hazrat Yahya as)