|Born||10 May 676 |
01 Rajab 57 AH
|Died||28 January 732 (aged 57) |
07 Dhu al-Hijjah 114 AH
|Cause of death||Poisoning by Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik according to most Shia Muslims|
|Resting place||Jannat al-Baqi cemetery, Medina, Saudi Arabia|
|Other names||Muhammad ibn 'Al? ibn Husayn|
|Predecessor||Ali ibn Husayn|
|Umm Farwah bint al-Qasim |
Umm Hak?m bint Usayd ibn al-Mugh?r? al-Thaqaf?
Muhammad al-Baqir (Arabic: ) full name Muhammad bin 'Ali bin al-Husayn bin Ali bin Abi Talib, also known as Abu Ja'far or simply al-Baqir ("the one who opens knowledge") (677-733) was the fifth Imam in Shia Islam, succeeding his father Zayn al-Abidin and succeeded by his son Ja'far al-Sadiq. His mother, Fatima Umm Abdallah, was the daughter of Hasan ibn Ali, making him the first Imam descended from both grandsons of Muhammad: Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. in Naqshbandi order, he is revered as the father of Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sheikh of the Golden Chain.
Muhammad al-Baqir was born in Medina, about the time when Muawiyah was trying to take the oath of allegiance for his son, Yazid. As a child, al-Baqir witnessed the Tragedy of Karbala, in which all his male relatives, except his father who was ill, were killed. As a young man, Baqir was observing the struggle of power between the Umayyads, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and various Shia sects; meanwhile, al-Baqir observed how his father preferred to resign from political issues.
Al-Baqir is revered by both Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims for his religious leadership, and respected for his knowledge and Islamic scholarship as a jurist in Medina. Al-Baqir lived in the city his entire life, though most of his disciples lived in Kufa, Iraq. Like his father, he tried not to be engaged in the conflicts fueled against the Umayyad Caliphs, and even tried to convince his half-brother, Zayd ibn Ali, not to engage in conflicts.
Al-Baqir spent his time elaborating the theory of Imamate. According to Arzina R. Lalani, he laid the foundation of Imami Shi'ism, which was elaborated later by his son and successor, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
Al-Baqir had a prominent seyyid lineage. His father was Ali ibn Husayn "Zayn al-Abidin", and his paternal grandfather was Husayn ibn Ali, while his mother was Fatima Umm Abd Allah, and his maternal grandfather was Hasan ibn Ali. His grandfathers Hasan and Husayn were the two eldest surviving sons of Ali through his first wife Fatimah, the youngest daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
|Ancestors of Muhammad al-Baqir|
Al-Baqir is an abbreviation of Baqir al-'ilm, which means either "he who opens knowledge"(brings it to light), or "the one who possesses great knowledge", as he was known for his knowledge. According to Ibn Khallikan, he received the nickname "al-Baqir" (the ample) due to the "ample fund of knowledge" he collected. However, Ya'qubi believed that he was called al-Baqir because he "split open knowledge", examining its depths.[a] The Shiites believe that Baqir al-'ilm was not an ordinary title, because it was given to him by Muhammad. According to al-Kulayni, Muhammad's only living companion Jabir ibn Abd Allah would sit in the mosque and cry: "Ya baqir al-ilm, Ya baqir al-ilm". Although Medinans thought that Jabir was insane, he assured them that Muhammad had told him: "O Jabir! You will meet a man from my family who will have the same name and the same characteristics as mine. He will split open knowledge extensively."  According to al-Kulayni, Jabir ibn Abd Allah met al-Baqir when passing a Quran school. Abd Allah saw that Baqir was still a child, and examined him to see if he had the features which Muhammad had described. Jabir asked, "Characteristics of the Messenger of Allah; by Him in whose hands is my soul, O boy, what is your name?"  When al-Baqir answered that he was Muhammad ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn, Jabir "approached him, kissed his head and swore by his father and mother that Muhammad had recited greeting upon him."
About the question of whether Baqir was known by this name, during his life or after that, there is narration in which, the Caliph, Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, asks Zayd, Baqir's half brother, about his brother al-baqara (the cow) implying al-baqir. Zaid answers Caliph by saying that the prophet Muhammad, called his brother al-baqir (he who splits open knowledge) while you call him al-baqara (the cow). Now you apposed Muhammad, so the prophet would appose you in the of resurrection when you would go to hell while he(al-baqir) would enter heaven. This narration suggests, Arzina R. Lalani says, that al-baqir was known by this name even before his lifetime.
Al-Baqir was born in Medina around 56 AH (676 AD), when Muawiyah I was trying to ensure that his son Yazid I could inherit the caliphate. When Al-Baqir was a child, his family was affected by the Battle of Karbala; he was three or four years old when his grandfather, Husayn, was killed. According to Ya'qubi, al-Baqir was present at Karbala. In his youth he witnessed the struggle for power among the Umayyads, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and a number of Shiite parties, whilst his father maintained a distance from local political activity.  
Despite his non-involvement in political activities, the Umayyad rulers harassed Muhammad al-Baqir. Many Shia individuals and delegations came to Medina from Kufa to hear al-Baqir's teachings and ask him questions, among which was who had the right to rule. He was also distrusted because of the uprising of his brother Zayd ibn Ali and other relatives.
It is said that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan consulted Muhammad al-Baqir about the threatening letters he received from Roman emperor. It was because Abd al-Malik forbade the papers and clothes with Christian motto (the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit) on them. Roman emperor wrote to Abd al-Malik, threatening him that he should change his mind, otherwise he(Roman emperor) would engrave insulting words to Muhammad on the coins engraved in Roman empire. When Abd al-Malik consulted al-Baqir, he proposed making coins, so that Muslims won't need to use Roman coins.
According to Kohlberg, in a narration propagated by anti-Alids, and recorded by Ibn Sa'd, al-Baqir identifies the Caliph Umar II as the Mahdi. According to Shia, however, Baqir prophesied that Umar will be Caliph, will do his best to spread justice and will be honored by people, upon his death. According to this account, the inhabitants of the Earth will weep upon Umar's death, while the inhabitants of the heaven will curse him, since he usurped Imam's right to be Caliph, after all.
According to Kohlberg, al-Baqir summoned several times to Damascus, at least once he kept there as a prisoner. Then he was sent to Madina, along with escorts who were ordered to give him neither food nor water on the way.
According to a more detailed account, Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik made a pilgrimage to Mecca, where Mohammed al-Baqir and his son Ja'far al-Sadiq were present. At a gathering, al-Baqir delivered a sermon: "We are the favorite and chosen servants of God, and His vicegerents on the face of the earth. One who obeys us is successful and one who opposes would be evil and wretched." His statements were conveyed to Hisham, who wrote to the governor of Medina instructing him to send al-Baqir and his son to Damascus. When they arrived, he kept them waiting for three days; on the fourth he called them to court, where he was practicing archery with his officials.
There is disagreement on the date of al-Bagir death. It is ranged from 114/732 to 118/736.
According to one account, Al-Baqir was poisoned by Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik. Another account says Hisham died before managing to have him poisoned. A third account says al-Baqir's death was during the rein of al-Walid. Another account cited by Al-Shaykh al-Saduq says al-Baqir was poisoned by Umayyad Ibrahim b. al-Walld, during his brief rein.
According to another account, Zaid ibn al-Hasan(al-Baqir's cousin) had tried unsuccessfully to get hold of prophet's inheritance which belonged to al-Baqir. After which he placed poison to al-Baqir's saddle which caused his death.
According to the Shi'i account, the Caliph gave Zaid a saddle treated with poison; Zaid gave it to al-Baqir, who used it and died. Al-Baqir was laid to rest under the dome in al-Baqi', where Hasan ibn Ali and Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin were buried.
According to both main branch of Shia Islam, Twelver and Isma'ilis, al-Baqir inherited Imamate from his father, Zayn al-Abidin. According to al-Kulayni, Baqir received a full chest of the weapons and book of Prophet, which symbolizes authority, from his father, in presence of his brothers.
During the imamah of Muhammad al-Baqir, riots erupted throughout the Islamic world due to the Umayyad Caliphate's oppression. Disagreements within the Umayyad party kept them occupied, and they left members of the household undisturbed for some time. However, tyranny in the Battle of Karbala had attracted many people to the imams. These conditions had permitted people (particularly the Shiites) to travel to Medina in large groups and visit al-Baqir freely. The possibility of spreading Islam (which had not existed for the previous imams) was available to the fifth imam, indicated by a number of traditions about al-Baqir and scholars trained under him.[b]
Some miracles are attributed to al-Baqir. He could converse with animals, make the blind see, and foretell future events such as death of his brother Zayd, defeat of Umaayads and the accession of the Abbasid Caliph, al-Mansur.
After the death of Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (the fourth Imam), most of the Shiites agreed upon his son al-Baqir as the next imam; a minority favored another son of Zayn al-Abidin (Zayd ibn Ali), and became known as Zaidiyyah. According to Ibn Khallikan,[c] Zaid (Muhammad al-Baqir's brother), appealed for people to support his cause. According to Al-Masudi, he asked for advice from Muhammad al-Baqir; al-Baqir advised him not to rely on the people of Kufa, explaining how they had previously behaved toward the members of his household. Zaid did not listen to his brother's advice, and led the people of Kufa in a fruitless riot.
According to Al-Shahrastani,[d] a dispute had arisen between Muhammad al-Baqir and Zaid because Zaid had been following the Mu'tazilite Wasil ibn Ata. Zaid had also announced that the position of imam was conditional on his appearing publicly to assert his rights. Muhammad al-Baqir replied, "Your faith then is merely in your father, as such, for according to your theory he was not an imam, for he certainly never came forth to assert his claims."
Less welcomed among Baqir's followers were the Ghulat who exaggerated the holiness of the Shia Imams. Mughira ibn sa'id al-Bajali, the founder of the sect Mughiriyya, who claimed the divinity of al-Baqir, was rejected by the Shia Imam. Bayan ibn sam'an was another exterismis who asked al-Baqir to recognize him as prophet and Imam. Abu al-Khattab, the founder of the sect Ghulat, and his followers were cursed by al-Baqir.
Al-Baqir succeeded by his son Ja'far al-Sadiq, who was accepted by Shias. According to some Sunni narrators such as Al-Shahrastani, a Shia sect, named al-Bakiriyya, did not believe in al-Baqir's death, considered him as a Mahdi, who would return in due time.
According to Lalani, al-Baqir was the first Shia Imam, from whom a vast corpus of Hadiths comes down, as the name al-baqir(he who splits open knowledge) shows this emergence of Knowledge in various matters, including exegesis of Quran, knowledge of ahadith of the Prophet, issues concerning law, and theological topics of both a worldly and spiritual nature. The interpretation of Quran, as the main concern of Baqir's time, was in need of some other fields of knowledge such as, philology and lexicography. Also sayings and actions of the prophet which had some relevance to the subject of Qurans text, should have been collected. Rules for daily life of Muslims, were also sought from practices of the prophet which was called Sunnah. These gave rise to the knowledge of Hadith, which itself, along with Quran, were basis of knowledge of Kalam and fiqh.
Baqir is known for establishing the school of Law, later recognized as the Ja'fari Madhhab after the name of his son, Ja'far al-sadiq, who expanded the school. Baqir brought back rituals like the expression Heyya ala al-salat (come to the best of deed) to Adhan; forbade wiping the soles of footwear, instead of feet, in the Wudu; and lifted prohibition from Nikah mut'ah.
Baqir's view around subjects relating Imamat, such as Islam, Imam and Ghaza wa Ghadar were distinguished among serious theological discussions took place between scholars. So al-Baqir was initiator of principles which later became distinctive tenets of Twelver Shia Islam, such as Nass (the Imam's explicit designation of his successor), Ilm (the special knowledge of the Imam), Ismah (the infallibility of the Imam) and Taqiya (precautionary dissimulation in order to avoid persecution).
According to al-Kafi, Baqir stressed the importance of intelligence saying that Allah will hold everyone accountable on the day of judgement according to the degree of intelligence they received in the worldly life.
Muhammad al-Baqir is known as the first Shia Imam who engaged in the systematic teaching. He was living in Medina, however most of his disciples were in Kufa, some others in Mecca and Basra. Most prominent, among them were Jabir ibn Yazid al-Ju'fi, Aban ibn Taghlib, Zurara ibn A'yan and Burayd ibn Mu'awiya al-ijli.
Basrah was considered to be a non-shi'i city however there are some disciple of al-Baqir, who were located there.
Other Prominent followers of Muhammad al-Baqir, that is not determined where they were living: Muhammad ibn Isma'il Bazi, and other members of Bazi's family, Abu Harun and his namesake, Abu Harun Makfuf, Uqba ibn Bashir al-Asadi, Aslam al-Makki, and Najiyy ibn Abi Mu'adh ibn Muslim.
Musnad al-Imam al Baqir is a six-volume book attributed to Baqir, consisting of Twelver law and Shia doctrine. It was collected by[clarification needed] Azizallah al-Utaridi, who compiled it mostly from twelver Shia works, but also from Ismaili, Zaidi, and Sunni sources. The book covers:
In Ma'athiru'l-Baqir al-Baqir discussed a number of topics, from the nature of the soul and the qualities of the Ulama to the attributes of God and the divine nature (explaining that it was impossible for humans to understand it). A man asked him, "Should I think of anything (to understand Allah)?" al-Baqir replied: "Yes, but you have to imagine a thing which the mind cannot contain and which is without limit. He is unlike whatever comes into your mind. Nothing resembles Him nor can any thought reach Him." He also said, "Talk about the creation of Allah, but do not talk about Allah Himself, for that increases the owner of the talk nothing except perplexity." He defined a Rasul as a prophet who hears and sees the angel in bodily form or in a dream. A Nabi is a prophet who hears but does not see the angel, and the imam is like the Nabi.[e] Al-Baqir was frequently asked to explain teachings about the imamate, which is also explained in Ma'athiru'l-Baqir (a summary of which is translated into English in Canon Sell's Ithna ?Asharíyya or The Twelve Shi?ah Imams.[f]
When asked about collective knowledge of the Quran, Imam al-Baqir would say that no one collected and memorized the Holy Book as Allah revealed it except Muhammad, Ali ibn Abu Talib and the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt after him. Further, no one is able to claim that they have knowledge of the entire Quran, its apparent and hidden essence, except the executors of the will of the Holy Prophet.
Umm al-Kitab, or The Archetype of the Book, is in the form of a discussion between the imam and three companions. Resembling the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, it illustrates the similarity between imamology and gnostic Christology. A major concept of this work is the description of the numinous experience. Its central motif is the psychological and philosophical explanation of spiritual symbols, with believers instructed to perform acts of self-purification and renewal. Colors are used to symbolize theories and levels of consciousness which one must recognize in oneself.
Umm al-Kitab is Baqir's answers to the questions of his followers. Jabir ibn Yazid al-Ju'fi is transmitter of some Hadiths in the book. In the main part of the book, al-Baqir reveales secrets to al-Ju'fi, such as how cosmos been created, how human soul fell into this world and how it could get deliverance from it.
Tafsir al-baqir, or Tafsir Abul Jaroud is al-Baqir's exegesis of the Quran. Ibn al-Nadim included this book in his list of exegeses of the Quran in his Kitab al-Fihrist, writing that Abul Jaroud Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad (the head of the Jarudiyya) reported al-Baqir's book. According to Sayyd Hasan al-Sadr, "A group of the reliable Shiites reported the book from him [Abul Jaroud] from the days of his righteousness"; among them was Abu Basïr Yahya bin al-Qasim al-Asadi. Ali bin Ibrahï~m bin Hashim al-Qummi also mentioned it in his book Kit?b al-B?qir ("The book of alB?qir"), by the authority of Abu Basïr.
In Sunni works, al-Baqir is eminent as a Faq?h (expert in jurisprudence), for his knowledge of Tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), and theology. He is also known as Thiqa, the most trustworthy in transmitting ahadith of Prophet Muhammad. However he is occasionally blamed for transmitting Hadiths from companions whom he never met. Al-Baqir is cited by Ibn Ishaq for some Prophetic biography and by Al-Tabari for some version of Battle of Karbala story.
Abd Allah ibn Ata al-Makki says he had never seen scholars feel so small in presence of anyone as they felt before al-Baqir. He adds; even the famous traditionist, al-Hakam ibn Utayba, despite his age and eminence, behaved al-Baqir, as so he was a pupil before a teacher. Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir says that he had not seen anyone who excel Ali ibn al-Husayn, until he met Muhammd al-Baqir.
Shia sources describe a meeting between al-Baqir and Abu Hanifa in a rather negative light. Sunni sources, on the other hand, describes Abu Hanifa as a prominent disciple of al-Baqir, who had prophesied that Abu Hanifa would revive the prophet's Sunnah.
In Sunni view, a hadith, if traced back to companions of prophet,is reliable. In Shia view, however, the companions of the prophet, are capable of error, so the infallible Imams are true transmitters of hadith.
Muhammad al-Baqir is not recognized by Zaidis as Imam, however he is a prominent figure among them; as his traditions appear in some Zaidi works like Am?l? al-Im?m A?mad b. s?. According to Kohlberg, al-Baqir appears in Zaidi works as "acknowledging Zayd's superior knowledge and so, by implication, Zayd's claims to the Imamate."
Al-Baqir is Ismaiilie's fourth Imam, and an authority in Ismaili law. According to Al-Qadi al-Nu'man, the reliability of al-Baqir was such that an ethnically Maqtu (interrupted or broken) Hadith was regarded as Mawsul (linked) and was mentioned as Marfu (traceable to Prophet) when narrated by him.
Muhammad al-Baqir is a well known figure among Sufi, who frequently mentioned him in their biography books as being an expert in the intricacies of the (esoteric) sciences (daqiq al-?ul?m), the subtle allusions of the Quran (al-ish?r?t), spiritual path (al-sul?k), and gnosis (marif ). Baqir is also known as performing well-known miracles (kar?m?t), radiant signs (?y?t), and distinct proofs (bar?h?n) among Sufies, and is said he gained the spiritual stations of the gnostics (maq?m?t al-rif?n). Al-Baqir has defined Sufism as "goodness of disposition: he that has the better disposition is the better Sufi".
Among the extremists who claimed the got their knowledge and authority from al-Baqir, were Abu Mansur al-Idjli, and reportedly al-Mughira ibn Sa'id al-Idjli, who said al-Baqir was a prophet and consider themselves a designated successor to al-Baqir.