Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.)
Kunniyat (Patronymic): Abu al-Hasan
Laqab (Title): Al-Kazim
Birth: He was born at Madina in the year 129 A.H.
Martyrdom: He was poisoned in the prison of Harun
al-Rashid at Baghdad in the year 183 A.H. He is buried in Kazimiyyah in
The 7th Holy
Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) was the son of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.), the Sixth
Imam . The name of his mother was Hamidah , the daughter of a noble man
hailing from the States of Barbary.
Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.)
passed twenty years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his
holy father . His inherent genius and gifted virtues combined with the
enlightened guidance and education from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.), showed in
the manifestation of his future personality . He was fully versed with the
Divine Knowledge even in his childhood. al-`Allamah al-Majlisi(a.r.) relates
that once Abu Hanifah happened to call upon the holy abode of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.)
to ask him about some religious matters ( masa'il ) . The Imam(a.s.) was
asleep and so he kept waiting outside till the Imam's(a.s.) awakening .
Meanwhile , Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) , who was then five years old , came
out of his house . Abu Hanifah , after offering him his best compliment ,
enquired: ``O the son of the Holy Prophet ! what is your opinion about the
deeds of a man ? Does he do them by himself or does God make him do them ?''
``O Abu Hanifah'' , the five years old Imam(a.s.) replied at once , in the
typical tone of his ancestors , ``the doings of a man are confined to three
possibilities . First , that God alone does them while the man is quite
helpless . Second , that both God and the man do equally share the
commitment . Third , that man does them alone . Now , if the first
assumption is true , it obviously proves the unjustness of God who punishes
His creatures for sins which they have not committed . And if the second
condition be acceptable , even then God becomes unjust if He punishes the
man for the crimes in which He is equally a partner . But the undesirability
of both these conditions is evident in the case of God . Thus , we are
naturally left with the third alternative to the problem that men are
absolutely responsible for their own doing .''
The Holy Imam
Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.) breathed his last on 25th Shawwal 148 AH , and with
effect from the same date Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) succeeded the holy office
of Immamate as the Seventh Imam . The priod of his Imamate continued for
thirty - five years . In the first decade of his Imamate , Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.)
could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of his sacred
office and carried on the propagation of the teachings of the Holy
Prophet(pbuh&hf) . But soon after , he fell a victim to the ruling kings and
a greater part of his life passed in prison.
Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.)
lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the despotic `Abbasid
kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel administration . He
witnessed the reings of al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi , al-Mahdi and Harun ar-Rashid
. Al-Mansur and Harun ar-Rashid were the despotic kings who put a multitude
of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) to the sword .
Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into
horrible dark prisons during their lifetime . These depraved caliphs knew no
pity or justice and they killed and tortured for the plessure they derived
from human sufferings.The Holy Imam(a.s.) was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur
because the king , being occupied with his project of constructing the new
city of Baghdad , could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam.
By 157 AH the city of Baghded was built . This was soon followed by the
death of its founder a year later . After al-Mansur , his son al-Mahdi
ascended the throne . For a few years he remained indifferent towards the
Imam(a.s.) . When in 164 AH he came to Medina and heard about the great
reputation of the Imam , he could not resist his jealousy and the spark of
his ancestral malice against the Ahl-al-bayt(a.s.) was rekindled . He
somehow managed to take the Imam(a.s.) along with him to Baghdad and got him
imprisoned there . But after a year he realized his mistake and released the
Imam(a.s.) from jail . al-Mahdi was succeeded by al-Hadi who lived only for
a yaer . Now , in 170 AH , the most cruel and tyrannical king Harun ar-Rashid
appeared at the head of the `Abbasid Empire . It was during his reign that
the Holy Imam(a.s.) passed the greater part of his life in a miserable
prison till he was poisoned. Harun had the Imam(a.s.) arrested in the
Prophet's)pbuh&hf) mosque whilst Imam was praying. He was handcuffed and
shackled and sent to Basra. Imam(a.s.) was put into prison under the custody
of Isa bin Ja'fer. After a year Isa wrote to Harun saying he could no longer
imprison Imam(a.s.) as he could find only piety and righteousness in him.
Harun had the
Imam(a.s.) moved to Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi who too
became a follower of Imam(a.s.). The prisons were so small that there was no
room to stand and the food was a cup of water and two pieces of dry bread a
day. Imam(a.s.) remained patient. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of
Sindi bin Shahak (a very cruel man). Imam remained in prison for the last 19
years of his life.
The 19 years
of imprisonment gave the Shia population a little relief as the rulers
concentrated on Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from Arabia to Iran,
India etc. thus spreading Islam and it was one of the factors towards the
popularity of the 8th Imam.
and Ethical Excellence
his morality and ethical excellence , Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks : ``The
patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) was such .hat he was
given the title of al-Kazim ( one who swallows down his anger ) . He was the
embodiment of virtue and generosity . He devoted his nights to the prayers
of God and his days to fasting . He always forgave those who did wrong to
him , His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he
used to patronize and help the poor and destitutes of Medina and provide for
them cash , food , clothes and other necessitities of sustenance secretly .
It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the
Imam's(a.s.) lifetime as to who their benefactor was , but the secret was
not revealed until after his death.
circumstances did not premit Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) to establish
institutions to impart religious knowledge to his followers as his father ,
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.) and his grandfather , Imam Muhammad al-Baqir(a.s.)
had done . He was never allowed to address a congregation . He carried on
his mission of preaching and guiding people quietly.
In 179 AH ,
Harun ar-Rashid visited Medina . The fire of malice and jealousy against the
Ahl-al-bayt(a.s.) was kindled in his heart when he saw the great influence
and popularity which the Holy Imam(a.s.) enjoyed amongst the people there .
He got the Imam(a.s.) arrested while he was busy in prayer at the tomb of
the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) and kept him in prison in Baghded for a period of
about four years . On the 25th Rajab 183 AH , he got the Imam(a.s.) martyred
by poison . Even his corpse was not spared humiliation and was taken out of
the prison and left on the Bridge of Baghdad . When Harun Rashid's brother
Sulayman heard of this he was furious and arranged for his burial in a
Quraysh cemetery outside Baghdad (the 8th Imam gave ghusl and kafan). A town
grew around the tomb of Imam called Kadhmain (meaning the two Kadhims) since
the 9th Imam is also buried there.