The Great Innocent Leaders of Islam
IMAM 'ALI AL-SAJJAD (AS)
The policy of al-'Imam 'Ali al-Sajjad (AS), during his Imamate, is divided into two different parts which correspond as a whole to the general policies of other Imams (AS), for the Imam (AS) was in the company of his great father in the tragic event of Karbala and took part in the movement of al-'Imam al-Husayn (AS). After the martyrdom of his father, when the Imam (AS) was taken captive and was taken to Kufah from Karbala and from Kufah to Damascus , he never used taqiyyah and asserted the truth and reality without any fear. Whenever the occasions suited, he informed the individuals and the public of the rightfulness of the Members of the Household of the Holy Prophet (SA) and their glories and virtues through his lectures and statements. He brought the innocence of his great father and the cruel and oppressive atrocities of the Umayyads to the surface and aroused the outburst of the feelings and sentiments of the people.
But Imam (AS) returned to Madinah after he was released from captivity and the atmosphere of self-sacrifice turned itself into the atmosphere of tranquillity. He sat in the seclusion of his house, closed the door on strangers, and engaged in worshipping Allah. He began to train and educate the individuals who were the followers of truth and reality. During the 35 years of his residence there, the Imam (AS), directly and indirectly, educated a great number of people and imprinted the Islamic culture on their hearts.
Only the prayers that the Imam (AS) had indited in his divine tone and through which he silently prayed to Allah form a complete set of the sublime Islamic learnings and sciences. These prayers have been compiled in a form of book which is popularly known as "Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah" (meaning a book of al-'Imam al-Sajjad).
AL-'IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-BAQIR (AS)
During the Imamate of al-'Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS), the way was somewhat paved for the dissemination of Islamic sciences. Owing to the oppression of Umayyads, the ahadith regarding Islamic jurisprudence by the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) were lost. Although thousands Of ahadith are required for Islamic precepts, nevertheless, not even more than 500 ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA) had remained, that too, from among those which were narrated by the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA).
In short, during that period, because of the very tragic event of Karbala and as a result of the 35 years of efforts of al-'Imam al-Sajjad (AS), a great number of Muslims [supporters of Ahl al-Bayt (AS)] emerged but they had no Islamic jurisprudence based on the ahadith of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS ).
Since the government of the Umayyads was weakened due to internal differences and the self-indulgence and inefficiency of government authorities and because the signs of weakness had grown in its governmental structure, the Fifth Imam (AS) took advantage of this opportunity and began to disseminate the sciences of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the Islamic jurisprudence and provided the society with many scholars of his school of thought.
AL-'IMAM JA'FAR AL-SADIQ (AS)
During the time of the 6th Imam (AS) the conditions were more apt and the circumstances were more favourable for the dissemination of Islamic sciences, because, on the one hand, as a result of the propagation of the ahadith of al-'Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS) and owing to the tablighat by those who were educated in his school, the people had realized their need for Islamic sciences and the Islamic knowledge of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and were more thirsty for obtaining the ahadith.
On the other hand, the government of the Umayyads was overthrown and the government, of the Abbasids had not yet been firmly established when, in order to fulfil their intentions and to undermine the government of the Umayyads, the Abbasids used the tyranny against the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the blood of the martyrs of Karbala as a pretence and thus tried to be apparently good to the Ahl al-Bayt (AS).
The Imam (AS) embarked on teaching and disseminating different branches of knowledge. Scientists, 'ulama' and scholars rushed to the Imam's (AS) house from every direction and were welcomed by the Imam (AS). They asked many questions concerning various branches of Islamic sciences, the Islamic ethics and life-history of the prophets, the history of Ummahs, the wisdom, the tabligh, etc and received the answers accordingly.
The Imam (AS) held discussions with people from different strata and held debates with various peoples and sects. He educated students in different Islamic sciences. Hundreds of books were compiled which recorded the ahadith and scientific lectures of the Imam (AS) which are known as "fundamentals".
By taking advantage of this brief period, which came handy in the suffocating atmosphere of those days, al-'Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS) educated and trained thousands of learned scholars. As his memorial, the Imam (AS) left many precious treasures of sciences and education in the field of Islamic culture. The number of scholars who had benefited from the Imam's (AS) vast knowledge and wisdom exceeded 4 000.
Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (AS) had ordered his students to write down his lessons and to preserve their books and writings. He stated: "A time will come when a chaos will prevail and many of these works will be destroyed. Then you will be in need of these books and writings and these books will serve as the only scientific and Islamic references of Muslims". For this reason, the students of the Imam (AS) used to bring with them pen and inkpot and put down whatever they heard in his class.
Other than his necessary rest, the Imam (AS) taught the people secretly and publicly round-the-clock and made the treasury of his infinite knowledge available to all.
In short, his sublime remarks and valuable guidances removed ignorance and illiteracy and re-established the true Islam of the Holy Prophet (SA). Thus, he is known as the founder of "Shi'i Islamic jurisprudence". Shi'ah religion was later called as the "Ja'fari Jurisprudence" after his name.
AL-'IMAM MUSA AL-KAZIM (AS)
Having overthrown the Umayyads and having taken the position of khilafah in hand, the Abbasids turned to Sane Fatimah and tried to annihilate the Members of the Household of the Holy Prophet (SA) with all their might. They beheaded a group, buried another alive, and placed yet another group of people under the foundations and in the walls of the buildings. They set the house of the 6th Imam (AS) on fire and summoned the Imam (AS) to Iraq several times. In this way, the taqiyyah was more intensely practised during the last days of the life of the 6th Imam (AS). Since the Imam was under strict surveillance, he did not meet anyone except a few particular Shi'ahs. Finally, al-'Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS) was poisoned and martyred by al-Mansur, the Second Caliph of the Abbasids. Thus, during the 'Imamah of the 7th Imam, al-'Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the oppression of the antagonists became more severe and intensified day by day.
In spite of an environment of intense taqiyyah, the 7th Imam (AS) began to disseminate the Islamic knowledge and ma de a large number of ahadith available to the Shi'ahs. It can be said that the ahadith pertaining to Islamic jurisprudence by al-'Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) stand third in number after those by the 5th and the 6th Imams (AS). Owing to prevailing conditions of intense taqiyyah, in most of the ahadith related by the Imam (AS), he has been referred to by the narrators as "an 'alim" or as "a righteous worshipper of Allah", or the like without an explicit mention of his name.
The Imam (AS) was the contemporary of four Abbasid khulafa' al-Mansur, al-Hadi, al-Mahdi, and Harun, and was always the target of their oppression. Finally, under the order of Harun, he was imprisoned and was transferred from one prison to another for years. At last, al-'Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) was poisoned as well as martyred in the prison.
AL-IMAM 'ALI AL-RIDA (AS)
A consideration on the circumstances during that time makes it clear for every clear-sighted person that no matter how much the contemporary khulafa' and opponents of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) tried to torture and tyrannize the Imams (AS) of Guidance and made the life difficult for their Shi'ahs, the number of the followers of Islam increased day by day and their faith in Islam became stauncher. The Institution of khilafah was a wicked and filthy system in their views.
And this matter was an internal conviction which constantly kept the khulafa' contemporary with the Imams (AS), in agony; and in fact rendered those khulafa' helpless and despicable.
After killing his brother al-Amin and becoming the khalifah, al-Ma'mun, the 7th 'Abbasid caliph, who was also the contemporary of al-'Imam al-Rida (AS), decided to relieve himself of this internal distress and constant anxiety and put an end to Shi'ah faith by some means other than coercion and oppression.
The policy which al-Ma'mun adopted in order to carry out this plan was to offer his succession to al-'Imam al-Rida (AS) in order to defame the Imam (AS) in the eyes of the Shi'ahs by accusing him of entering the corrupt system of khilafah and to wash away people's minds the faith in the eminence and the immaculateness of the Imam (AS). In this way, he thought, no distinction would be left out for the position of Imamah which is the basis of Shi'i faith and the very foundation of this religion would be automatically collapsed.
The implementation of this policy would also bring another success, that is, it would stop the successive movements of Banu Fatimah which were pursued to overthrow the khilafah of the Abbasids; because when the Banu Fatimah would see the transfer of khilafah to themselves, they would naturally refrain from carrying out bloody uprisings. Certainly, after this plan was implemented, the killing of al-'Imam al-Rida (AS) would not be a difficult task for al-Ma'mun.
Al-Ma'mun, primarily, invited the Imam (AS) to take over the khilafah and after that he invited him to accept the succession. After al-Ma'mun's accentuation, insistence, and finally threat, the Imam (AS) accepted the succession conditionally, provided that he would have nothing to do with dismissals, appointments, and interference in high positions and matters.
In such a situation, the Imam (AS) embarked on guiding the people and held discussions with men of different faiths and religions as far as he could. He also gave valuable statements and explanations concerning the Islamic sciences and the facts of religion (al-Ma'mun was also excessively interested in religious discussions.) The speeches delivered by al-'Imam al-Rida (AS) on the principles of Islamic knowledge and sciences are equal in number to those delivered by the Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (AS) and exceed the number of speeches delivered by all the other Imams (AS) in these fields.
One of the blessings of the Imam (AS) was that he was presented with a large number of ahadith by Shi'ahs, which had reached them through the Imam's reverend fathers (AS), and among these under the direction of the Imam (AS) some of the "ahadith" which were forged and fabricated by wicked people, were identified and eliminated.
When the Imam (AS) travelled from Madinah to Marw as the "successor of the khalifah" he aroused an amazing enthusiasm among the people all through his journey, particularly in Iran . The people rushed from everywhere to meet him, eagerly surrounded him, and learned the teachings and precepts of Islam.
By the unprecedented and surprising attention that the people paid to the Imam (AS), al-Ma'mun found out that his policy was erroneous. In order to make reparation for his political failure, al-Ma'mun poisoned and martyred al-'Imam al-Rida (AS). Afterwards, the old policy of the khulafa' towards the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and their Shi'ah followers was again pursued.
AL-'IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-TAQI (AS), AL- 'IMAM 'ALI AL-NAQI (AS),'AND AL-'IMAM AL-HASAN AL -'ASKARI (AS)
The environment in which these three honourable Imams (AS) lived was identical. After the martyrdom of al-'Imam al-Rida (AS), al-Ma'mun summoned al-'Imam Muhammad al-Taqi. (AS), who was the only son of al-'Imam al-Rida (AS) to Baghdah and treated him kindly and affectionately and allowed his daughter to marry the Imam (AS) and kept the Imam (AS) in his own house with full honour.
Although this conduct seemed friendly, but, through this policy, al-Ma'mun had actually placed the Imam (AS) under his strict control in all respects.
Similar circumstances and living conditions continued for al-'Imam 'Ali al-Naqi (AS) and al-'Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (AS) in Samarra', which was the capital of khilafah during their Imamah; they were in fact in prison.
The period of Imamah of these three reverend Imams (AS) is fifty-seven years altogether. The number of Shi'ahs, who were residing in Iran , Iraq , and Syria at the time, was considerably large and had reached hundreds of thousands, among whom there were thousands of scholars of Hadith. In spite of this, the ahadith related from these three Imams (AS) are very few. Also, the lifetime of these three Imams (AS) was short. The ninth Imam (AS), the tenth Imam (AS), and the eleventh Imam (AS) were martyred when they were twenty-five, forty, and twenty-seven years, respectively. All these points serve as a clear evidence that the control, surveillance, and sabotage of the antagonists was very strict during their period and that these great Imams (AS) were unable to perform their duties freely. Nevertheless, valuable ahadith have reached us from these three great Imams (AS) on the Usul al-Din (the fundamental principles of Islam for believing in) and the Furu' al-Din (the secondary principles of Islam for actions).
IMAM AL-'ASR, MUHAMMAD AL-MAHDI AL-MAW'UD (AS)
During the time of al-'Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (AS), the institution of the khilafah had decided to kill the successor of the Imam (AS) by all the ways and means possible in an effort to put an end to the subject of Imamah and consequently to Shi'ah faith. In addition to other aspects, al-Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (AS) was also under surveillance from this point of view.
It was for this reason that the birth of al-'Imam al-Mahdi (AS) was kept secret. Until he became six, till his honourable father was alive, al-'Imam al-Mahdi (AS) was kept out of sight and no one could see him other than a few devoted and trustworthy Shi'ahs.
After the martyrdom of his father, al-'Imam al-Mahdi (AS) had al-Ghaybat al-Sughra (the Short Occultation of al-'Imam Muhammad al-Ma'hdi [AS]) by the order of Allah and answered the questions of the Shi'ahs and resolved their problems through Al-Nuwwab al-Arba'ah (the Four Deputies of Imam al-'Asr (AS) who had successively attained the eminent position of being the Imam's (AS) Deputy.
The Imam (AS) then had al-Ghaybat al-Kubra (the Great Occultation of al-'Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi [AS]) until the time when he will appear by the order of Allah to administer justice in the whole world after it gets overwhelmed with injustice and oppression.
A large number of ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the Imams (AS) have. been related by both Sunnis and Shi'ahs regarding al-'Imam al-Mahdi (AS) and the characteristics of his absence and appearance. Also, a great number of Shi'ah dignitaries had met the Imam (AS) during the lifetime of his honourable father and had seen his unique personality and had received the good tidings of his Imamah from his honourable father.
Furthermore, in the sections on Nubuwwah and Imamah we have arrived at this conclusion that the human world could never exist without the religion of Allah and an Imam who is the supporter and guardian of the religion of Allah.
THE MORAL CONCLUSION DERIVED FROM THE POLICY OF THE LEADERS OF RELIGION
In sum up, it becomes evident from the history of the prophets of Allah and the religious leaders that they were realists and followers of truth and used to invite the human world towards realism and adherence to truth. They did not refrain from any self-sacrifice and self-indulgence in this regard.
In other words, they tried that both individuals and human society be brought up and developed as ought to be. They also wanted to see the people adorned by a series of correct thoughts and beliefs without being governed by ignorance or a series of superstitious thoughts. They wanted to see the people accustomed to the especial human disposition without blemishing human purity with an animalistic disposition and by thinking of nothing but devouring one another and filling their belly like beasts and grazing animals. They intended to make men apply the treasure of humanity to their lives in order to gain prosperity in favour of humanity.
Thus, they were the people who did not look for their own prosperity alone, rather they recognized no other duty for the cause of the prosperity of the society and for the world of humanity.
They saw their own welfare and prosperity (the man does not want anything other than this) in being benevolent to others and wanted other people to be so as well; that is, they wanted everybody to like for all whatever they liked for themselves and not to desire for others whatever they did not desire for themselves.
It was due to this realism and adherence to truth that these great men found out the significance of this general human duty (benevolence) and other minor duties which are its ramifications and were endowed with the epithets of self-denial and self-sacrifice. For this very reason, they did not hesitate to offer their lives and properties for the cause of truth. They cut the root of any attributes which resulted malevolence. They did not have stinginess for the lives and properties of others. They were disgusted with egotism and stinginess. They did not tell lies, nor did they slander other people. They did not transgress upon the honour and prestige of others.