Imam Muhammad b. Ali al Baqir (as)
Imam Muhammad b. Ali al Baqir (as)
(Taken from Kitab al Irshad By Sheikh al Mufid)
Al-Baqir Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on them, was out of
(all) his brothers the successor of his father, Ali b. al-Husayn, his testamentary trustee
(wasi), and the one who undertook (qaim) the office of Imam after him. He surpassed all of
them through his outstanding merit (fadl) in traditional knowledge (ilm), asceticism and
leadership. He was the most renowned of them, the one among them who was most esteemed by
both non-Shia (amma) and Shia (khassa), and the most able of them. None of the sons of al-
Hasan and al-Husayn, peace be on them, showed the same ability in knowledge of religion,
traditions, the sunna, the knowledge of the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet (sira), and
the techniques of literature, as Abu- Jafar (Muhammad al-Baqir) showed. The surviving
Companions (of the Prophet), the leading members of the next generation (tabieun) and the
leaders of the Muslim jurists reported the principal features (ma'alim) of religion on his
authority. By virtue of his outstanding merit he became a signpost (of knowledge) to his
family. Proverbs were coined about him and reports and verses were written to describe
He, peace be on him, was born in Medina, in 57 A.H. (676/7). He died
in 114 A.H. (732) at the age of fifty-seven. He was a (leading) member of the Hashimite
family within the Hashimites. He was a (leading) descendant of Ali among the descendants
of Ali. He was buried in (the cemetery of) al-Baqi'i in (Medina) the city of the Apostle,
may God bless him and his family.
In the testamentary bequest (wasiyya) which the Commander of the
faithful, peace be on him, made to his children, mention was made of Muhammad b. Ali b.
al-Husayn and of his trusteeship. The Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family,
named him and caused him to be known as the one who split open (religious) knowledge
(ulum) as the narrators of tradition (ashab al-athar) report.
- Thus it is reported on the authority of Jabir b. Abd Allah in a
direct (mujarrad) tradition:
The Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, said to me:
- It will happen that you will live until you meet one of my
children descended from al-Husayn, peace be on him, called Muhammad, who will split wide
open knowledge of religion. When you meet him, recite my greeting to him.
The Shia give an account of the tablet which Gabriel, peace be on
him, brought down to the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, from heaven.
(The Apostle) gave it to Fatima, peace be on her. In it are the names of the Imams after
(the Apostle) and in it is Muhammad b. Ali, the Imam after his father.
The Shia also report that God, the Mighty and High, sent down to His
Prophet, the blessings and peace of God be on him, a document sealed with twelve seals. He
ordered him to give it to the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, and to tell him
to break the first seal, and he should act according to what is in (that part of the
document). At the time of his death, he should pass it to his son, al-Hasan, peace be on
him, and tell him to break the second seal and act according to what is in (that part of)
the document. At the time of his death he should pass it to his brother al-Husayn, peace
be on him. He should tell him to break the third seal and act according to what is below
it. Then at his death, he should pass it to his son, Ali b. al-Husayn al- Akbar (the
elder) and he should instruct him in a similar way. Then Muhammad should pass it to his
son right down to the last of the Imams.
They report also numerous designations (nusus) of him for the
Imamate after his father on the authority of the Prophet, may God bless him and his
family, on the authority of the Commander of the faithful and on the authority of
al-Hasan, al-Husayn and Ali b. al- Husayn, peace be on them.
The people report (accounts) of his outstanding virtues and
accomplishments which would be too numerous to include. We will mention what will be
sufficient in meaning for our purposes, if God wills.
Abu Jafar, peace be on him, recounted reports of the beginnings of
history (mubtada') and reports of the prophets. Stories of the campaigns of the Prophet
(maghazi) were written on his authority. (Men) followed the practices of the Prophet
(sunan) on his authority and relied on him with regard to the rites of the pilgrimage
which he reported on the authority of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his
family. They (also) wrote a commentary of the Qur'an on his authority. Both the Shia
(khassa) and the non-Shia (amma) report traditions on his authority. He debated with the
exponents of individual reasoning (ahl al-ara') and the people learnt a great deal of
theology (ilm al-kalam) from him.
- Reports have come down that Nafi b. al-Azraq came to Muhammad b. Ali,
peace be on them, and sat before him to ask him questions about what was permitted and
what forbidden. Abu Jafar, peace be on him, said in the course of his answer:
- Say to these deviators (from the true course): How did you make
separation from the Commander of the faithful (Ali), peace be on him, lawful when you had
earlier shed your own blood on his behalf and in obedience to him and (you were then
close) to God through helping him? Then they will answer you: He allowed arbitration with
regard to the religion of God. Say to them: God, the Exalted, allowed arbitration in the
law (sharia) of His Prophet, may God bless him and his family, between two of His
creatures. For He said:
- Send an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her
family if they want reconciliation (to take place) between them with the agreement of God
- The Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, appointed
Sad b. Muadh as an arbitrator over the tribe of Qurayza. He judged them according to what
God had accomplished. Did you not know that the Commander of the faithful, peace be on
him, ordered the arbitrators only to judge according to the Qur'an and not to go beyond
it? He stipulated the rejection of any of the laws of men which opposed the Qur'an. They
said to him: 'You have appointed as arbitrator over yourself, men who will judge you.' He
replied: 'I have not appointed a creature as an arbitrator. I have only made the Book of
God an arbitrator. Therefore where do the deviators find the wrong-doing in the matter of
arbitration by the Qur'an, when he stipulated the rejection of whatever opposed it, unless
they are persisting in a false accusation?
- "By God", said Nafi b. al-Azraq, "these are words
which I have never heard before and which have never occurred to my mind. It is the truth,
He, peace be on him, used to say: "The people cause us
great trouble. We summon them but they do not answer us. If we abandoned them, they would
be guided by no one."
He, peace be on him, (also) used to say: "What is it that
the people hate in us who are the family of the House of Mercy, the Tree of Prophethood,
the Source of Wisdom, (the people) frequented by angels and (those upon whom) inspiration
He, peace be on him, died and left behind seven sons. Each of his
brothers had great merit, even though they did not attain his merit because of his
position with regard to the Imamate, because of his rank with God with regard to closeness
and love (wilaya), and because of his position with regard to succession (khilafa) of the
Prophet, may God bless him and his family. The period of his Imamate and of his
undertaking the position of his father in the succession (on behalf of) God, the Mighty
and High, over His servants was nineteen years.