Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Jawad (a)
Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Taqi al-Jawad (a) was a prominent figure in Islamic history and the ninth Imam in the line of Shia Imams. Born in the city of Medina on Rajab 10, 195 AH, he was a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s). Throughout his life, Imam al-Jawad was known for his exceptional knowledge, wisdom, and character and played a significant role in spreading and preserving the teachings of Islam. Despite facing opposition and persecution, he continued to lead a virtuous and exemplary life, earning the love and respect of his followers. In this article on Islam4u, we will delve deeper into the life and legacy of Imam al-Jawad (a).
Birth of Imam al-Jawad (a)
More than 40 years had passed since the life of Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (peace be upon him), the eighth Imam, but he did not have a son. This was a source of sadness and concern for Shiites, as they believed, based on the narrations from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and his family and grant him peace) and the infallible Imams (peace be upon them), that the ninth Imam would be the son of the eighth Imam. They were eagerly awaiting the birth of a son from Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) and would sometimes approach him and ask him to pray to Allah Almighty for a son. The Imam (peace be upon him) would kindly respond by saying, “Allah will bless me with a son who will be my heir and the Imam after me.”
The Son Is Born
Finally, Muhammad al-Jawad (peace be upon him) was born on the tenth day of the month of Rajab in the year 195 after Hijra. He was named “Muhammad,” and his kunya was “Abu Ja’far,” and his most famous titles were “al-Taqi” and “al-Jawad.”
The news of his birth brought joy and happiness to the Shiite community and strengthened faith and belief. This was because the uncertainty that had arisen in the hearts of some Shiites due to the delayed birth of this noble Imam had finally ended.
It is narrated by al-Kulayni from Yahya al-San’ani that he said:
“I entered upon my father, Abu al-Hassan al-Rida (peace be upon him), while he was in Mecca, and he was peeling a banana and feeding it to Abu Ja’far (peace be upon him). I said to him, ‘May I sacrifice myself for you. Is this the blessed newborn?’ He said, ‘Yes, O Yahya, this newborn is the greatest blessing for our Shiite community.’ “
Hakima, the sister of Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him), says, “When the birth of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (peace be upon him) took place, my brother asked me to be by the side of “Khayzuran.” On the third day of this baby’s birth, he opened his eyes and looked at the sky, then turned to the right and left and said, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” When I saw this amazing thing, I was frightened and agitated, and I went to my brother and told him what I had seen. The Imam said, “What you will see from him in the future will be greater than what you have seen so far.”
The Lineage of Imam al-Jawad (a)
Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (peace be upon him) is from the Prophet’s family, the most renowned and honored family in human history. He is the son of Imam Ali al-Rida, the son of Imam Musa al-Kazim, the son of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, the son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, the son of Imam Ali al-Sajjad, the son of Imam al-Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household). He is also the descendant of Imam Ali, the son of Abu Talib (peace be upon them).
Imam al-Jawad’s Mother
She was from the family of Maria al-Qibtiyya, a Coptic Christian who converted to Islam. Her name was Sabika, Rayhana, or Durra. Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) called her Khayzuran, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) described her as the best of virtuous women. Imam al-Askari (peace be upon him) said: “She was pure, cleansed, and the mother of the son of Lady Umm al-Mahdi, Lady Umm al-Hasan, and she was the best woman of her time.”
Some General Information About Imam al-Jawad (a)
Birthplace and Date:
Medina, 10th of Rajab, 195 AH (equivalent to 8th of April 811 AD).
Age: 25 years.
Duration of Imamate: 17 years.
Date of Martyrdom: 9th of Dhil-Qa’dah 220 AH, equivalent to 24th of October 835 AD.
Cause of Death: He was poisoned and thus martyred at the hands of his wife (Umm al-Fadl) under the instigation of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu’tasim.
Burial Place: Graveyard of Quraish (currently al-Kazimiya) near the tomb of Musa al-Kazim in Baghdad, Iraq.
Teknonym: Abu Ja’far, which is also the teknonym of his grandfather, Imam al-Baqir (a). To distinguish between them, he is also referred to as Abu Ja’far al-Thani. A secondary nickname for him is Abu Ali al-Khass. Some later scholars explain that his special nickname was simply “Abu Ali,” not “Abu Ali al-Khass” as the wording in some sources suggests.
Nicknames: “The Generous” for his great kindness and good deeds towards people.
“The Righteous” for being pious, devoted to Allah, and never yielding to temptations.
“The Door of Desire”
Ring’s engraving: The ring’s engraving symbolizes his strong devotion to Allah, as it reads, “Glory is to Allah.”
Wives and Children of Imam al-Jawad (a)
He married Umm al-Fadl, daughter of al-Mamun. He had children from his other wife, Samana al-Maghribiyya, including Ali al-Hadi (the Imam after him), Musa, Fatima, and Khadija. Umm al-Fadl did not have any children.
His eldest son was Imam Ali al-Hadi al-Naqi, peace be upon him. After him was Musa, known as “al-Mubarqa’, “also known as Abu Ahmad. It is said that he had other sons, including al-Hassan, Abu Ahmad al-Hussain, and Abu Musa ‘Imran.
A number of daughters have been mentioned for Imam al-Jawad, peace be upon him, including Fatima, Hakima, Ummama, Khadija, Umm Kulthum, Zainab, Maymuna, and Umm Muhammad. Hakima, the aunt of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari, peace be upon him, was well-known. She was the one who attended the birth of Imam al-Mahdi, may Allah hasten his noble arrival.
His close associates and loyal followers were Ayyub ibn Nuh ibn Darraj al-Kufi, Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Yunus al-Ahwal, al-Hussain ibn Muslim ibn al-Hassan, al-Mokhtar ibn Ziyad al-Abdi al-Basri, and Muhammad ibn al-Hussein ibn Abu al-Khattab al-Kufi. As for his companions, some of them numbered around 170 individuals, the most notable among them being Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Nasr al-Bazanti, al-Fazl ibn Shadhan, Abu Tammam Habib al-Tai, Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Mahziyar al-Ahwazi, Muhammad ibn Abu Umayr, Muhammad ibn Sinan, Ali ibn al-Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him), Ismail ibn al-Imam al-Kazim (peace be upon him), Zakariya ibn Adam, Yunus ibn Abdul Rahman, Abduljabbar al-Nahawandi, Khairan al-Khadim, Hisham ibn al-Hakam, and others.
His hadith was narrated by many people, including Ibrahim ibn Abi Bilad, Ibrahim ibn Abi Mahmoud, Ibrahim ibn Hashim al-Qummi, Ahmad ibn Abi Abdullah al-Barqi, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa al-Qummi, al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Washsha, al-Husayn ibn Imam Musa al-Kazim; his daughter Hakima, his sister Hakima, Abu Hashim Dawud ibn al-Qasim al-Ja’fari, Di‘bil ibn Ali al-Khazai, al-Riyyan ibn Shabib, al-Riyyan ibn al-Salt, Zakariya ibn Adam al-Qummi, al-Saqr ibn Abi Dulaf, al-Sayyid Abdul Azim ibn Abdullah al-Hasani, His son Imam Ali al-Hadi, Ali ibn Mehazir, Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Buzigh, Muhammad ibn al-Harith al-Nawfili, Muhammad ibn al-Fazil al-Sirafi, Mu’ammar ibn Khalad, al-Mufakk, Yasir al-Khadim, and others.
Imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a)
Al-Jawad (a) assumed the position of imamate at an early age of his noble life. He was eight years old when his father, al-Rida (a.s), passed away, which caused widespread amazement among people.
It is reported that Safwan ibn Yahya asked Imam al-Rida (as) about the caliph after him. The Imam pointed to his son al-Jawad (as), who was only three years old. Safwan said: “By Allah, this is a three-year-old son?!” The Imam replied: “What’s wrong with that? Jesus (as) performed miracles when he was three years old.” Imam al-Rida (as) used to address his son al-Jawad (as) with reverence, always referring to him as “my son Abu Ja’far.” He repeated this even despite his son’s young age to impress people with the fact that the caliphate had been passed on to a young child.
He also emphasized that age does not matter in the matter of imamate by quoting the verse about Prophet Yahya (as): “And We gave him judgment in his youth.” Al-Jawad (as) demonstrated his knowledge and power at a young age. People in Medina would ask him and seek his guidance, even when he was only nine years old. Those who follow the narrations and reports find that Imam al-Rida (as) worked to dispel doubts about al-Jawad’s (as) imamate by presenting evidence and arguments. He instructed his followers to salute and obey his son, as he said to Sanan ibn Naf’i: “O Sanan ibn Naf’i, salute and obey him, his spirit is my spirit, and my spirit is the spirit of the Messenger of Allah (s).”
Muhammed ibn Abi Abdullah also says: I heard Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) say, “Abu Jafar is my heir and successor from my family.” Al-Khayrani reports from his father that he said: I was with Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) in Khorasan when someone asked him: If something happens to you, who should we turn to? He said, “Turn to my son Abu Jafar.” It seemed that the person asking didn’t see the young age of Imam al-Jawad (thinking how a young boy could take on the leadership), so Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) said: “Allah sent Jesus with prophecy and message while his age was younger than Abu Jafar’s current age.” Abdullah ibn Jafar says: I went with “Safwan ibn Yahya” to Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him), and Imam al-Jawad was present at the age of three years. The Imam was asked: If something happens to you, who is your successor? The Imam pointed to Abu Jafar and said: “This is my son.” We asked: “At this age?” He replied: “Yes, at this age, and Allah made Jesus’ a prophet while he was not even three years old.”
Imam al-Jawad’s Interaction With Society
The Imam (peace be upon him) was not distant from his community but was always present among people, fulfilling their needs and aspirations. There are many examples that reflect this orientation among the Imams (peace be upon them). For instance, Imam al-Jawad (peace be upon him) did what his ancestors did one of these examples is:
Dawud ibn al-Qasim al-Ja’fari said: and Abu Ja’far gave me three hundred dinars in cash and ordered me to give it to some of his uncles and said: What if he tells you to take me to someone who can buy me something with it? So guide him to him. He said: I brought him the dinar, and he said to me: O Abu Hashim, guide me to someone who can buy me something with it, and I did.
This example shows that the Imam (peace be upon him) followed people’s needs and sought to fulfill them.
Imam al-Jawad (peace be upon him) was devout and pious. He had a strong love for Allah and feared him greatly. He was sincere in his obedience and worship and followed the example of the previous pure Imams (peace be upon them) who tried their best to draw closer to Allah. Examples of his devotion include his frequent acts of worship, such as praying two rak’ahs and reciting the surahs Fatiha and Ikhlas seventy times each. When a new month began, he would pray two rak’ahs on the first day and recite al-Fatiha and verses from the Quran to bring safety to the entire month. According to a tradition, Imam Abu Ja’far the second (peace be upon him) fasted on the 15th and 28th of Rajab in Baghdad and performed a prayer consisting of twelve rak’ahs, reciting al-Fatiha and surahs in each rak’ah, followed by four repetitions of al-Fatiha, four repetitions of Surah Ikhlas, four repetitions of the two protection verses, four repetitions of the statement of unity, four repetitions of “Allah Allah Rabbie,” and so on.
Imam al-Jawad and al-Mamun
Imam al-Jawad (peace be upon him) was six years old when his father, Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him), left Medina for Khorasan. After the assassination of Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him), Mamun went to Baghdad and summoned Imam al-Jawad (peace be upon him), in an attempt to contain and limit his activity in the city, where he used to go to his pulpit and address the people with the following words, “If it weren’t for the show of the people of falsehood, the state of the people of deviation, and the tribute of the ignorant, I would have said a word that would have amazed both the former and the latter. He put his noble hand on his mouth and said: “O Muhammad, be silent as your ancestors before.”
In Baghdad, Mamun pretended to honor the Imam and showered him with respect. He had him brought close to his own residence and housed him in his palace, and he determined to marry him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl. This was done in an effort to clear him of the accusations of being involved in the assassination of Imam Rida (peace be upon him), which had arisen from the loyalty of the people of Khorasan to him. He also exposed him to their uprisings that took place from time to time, and kept him close by and under security surveillance, fearing and wary of the actions of the high-ranking officials against him.
The Abbasid leaders were worried about the marriage of al-Jawad to the caliph’s daughter Umm al-Fadl because they feared it would end like his father’s, al-Rida’s governorship. They went to the governor and told him that al-Jawad was young and inexperienced and suggested he wait until he learned about religion. The governor responded by saying that he knows al-Jawad better than they do and that his knowledge and abilities come from Allah. The leaders then asked the judge Ya’qub ibn Akhtam to test al-Jawad. This shows their fear of al-Jawad and their recognition of his greatness despite his youth. In a crowded meeting, the judge asked al-Jawad a question about the killing of an animal during hajj, and al-Jawad gave a simple and confident answer that considered various factors, such as the circumstances of the killing and the status of the animal and the killer. The judge was unable to keep up with al-Jawad’s answers.
Imam al-Jawad (a) continued his reformist path until the death of the ruler. He was followed by an opportunist who represented the pinnacle of deviation from power. The activities of the reformist Imam were not tolerated, and he was summoned to Baghdad and placed under forced residency in order to limit his activities, but he continued to pose a threat due to his popularity and influence among the people.
The Abbasid usurper saw an opportunity to kill Imam al-Jawad (peace be upon him) by creating two things: 1) stirring up hate, anger, and vengeance within people, including the judge Ahmad ibn Abi Du’ad, and 2) having his sister, Umm al-Fadl, carry out the assassination on behalf of his uncle, the usurper. Her brother Ja‘far encouraged her to poison Imam al-Jawad (a). On a Saturday, the last day of the sacred month of Dhi al-Qa’dah in 220 AH, Imam al-Jawad (a) was martyred at the young age of 25 years and four months while he was fasting.
In the book “al-Manaqib” by Ibn Shuhra Ashoub, it is stated that Imam Jawad (peace be upon him) was poisoned in Baghdad at the end of the month of Dhi al-Qa’dah. It is said to be on a Saturday. He was buried in the graves of the Quraish tribe next to the grave of Musa ibn Ja’far (peace be upon him). The location is now known as “al-Kazimiyya” and is located near the city of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.
Imam al-Jawad (a), the ninth Shia Imam, was a remarkable figure in Islamic history as the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s). Known for his wisdom, knowledge, and devotion to Islam, he was widely respected by both Sunni and Shia communities. His teachings and actions continue to inspire countless believers around the world, making him a revered figure in the Shia community.
 (al-Kafi 6/361)