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Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq

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Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq

Ja'far al-Sadiq

6th Imam of Twelver and Mustaali Shiaa
Al-Baqi' in Saudi Arabia
Born c. (702-04-23)23 April 702 CE[1]
(17 Rabi' al-awwal 83 AH)
Medina, Umayyad Empire
Died c. 7 December 765(765-12-07) (aged 63)
(15 Shawwal 148 AH)
Medina, Umayyad Empire
Cause of death Death by poisoning
Resting place

Jannatul Baqi, Saudi Arabia
24°28′1″N 39°36′50.21″E / 24.46694°N 39.6139472°E / 24.46694; 39.6139472

Other names Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn Ali
Ethnicity Arab (Quraysh)
Term 733 – 765 CE
Predecessor Muhammad al-Baqir
Successor Musa al-Kadhim
Religion Islam
Denomination Shia

Fatima bint al-Hussain'l-Athram

Hamīdah al-Barbariyyah[3][4]
Parents Muhammad al-Baqir
Farwah bint al-Qasim
a 5th Imam of Nizari Ismaili Shia

Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq (Arabic: جعفر بن محمد الصادق‎) (702–765 C.E. or 17th Rabī‘ al-Awwal 83 AH – 15th Shawwāl 148 AH) was a descendant of Ali from his father's side and a descendant of Abu Bakr from his mother's side and was himself a prominent Muslim jurist. He is revered as an Imam by the adherents of Shi'a Islam and as a renowned Islamic scholar and personality by Sunni Muslims. The Shi'a Muslims consider him to be the sixth Imam or leader and spiritual successor to Muhammad.[5] The internal dispute over who was to succeed Ja'far as Imam led to schism within Shi'a Islam.[5] Al-Sadiq was celebrated among his brothers and peers and stood out among them for his great personal merits.[6] He is highly respected by both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims for his great Islamic scholarship, pious character, and academic contributions.

Shi'a Islamic fiqh, Ja'fari jurisprudence is named after him.The books on Ja'fari jurisprudence were later written by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (864- 941), Ibn Babawayh (923-991), and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274).

As well as being considered an Imam of the Shi'a, he is revered by the Naqshbandi Sunni Sufi chain.[7]

He was a polymath: an astronomer, Imam, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, writer, philosopher, physician, physicist and scientist.[8] He is also reported to be the teacher of the famous chemist, Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber).[9][10]

Birth and family life

Ja'far al-Sadiq was born in Madinah on 24 April 702 AD (17 Rabi' al-Awwal, 83 AH), to Muhammad al-Baqir (son of Zayn al-‘Ābdīn, son of Husayn son of Ali) and Umm Farwah (daughter of Al-Qasim son of Muhammad son of Abu Bakr).

Aishas brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr raised by Ali.[11] When A'isha's brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Umayyad Empire,[11] she raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Qasim's mother was from Ali's family and Qasim's daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim was married to Muhammad al-Baqir and was the mother of Ja'far al-Sadiq. Therefore, Qasim was the grandson of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq. Ja'far's grandfather from his mothers side Qasim was raised and taught by A'isha, after his father was killed by the Umayyads.

Ja'far ibn Muhammad has three titles; they are as-Sadiq, al-Fadil, and at-Tahir.[2]

Ja'far al-Sadiq was 34 years old when his father was poisoned upon which, according to Shi'a tradition, he inherited the position of Imam.


Marriage and offspring

Ja'far married Fatima Al-Hasan, a descendant of Hasan ibn Ali, who gave him two sons Isma'il ibn Jafar (the Ismaili Imām-designate) and Abdullah al-Aftah.

Following his wife's death Al-Sadiq purchased a slave named Hamidah Khātūn (Arabic: حميدة خاتون‎), freed her, trained her as an Islamic scholar, and then married her. She bore Musa al-Kadhim (the seventh Imam) and Muhammad al-Dibaj and was revered by the Shī‘ah, especially by women, for her wisdom. She was known as Hamidah the Pure. Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq used to send women to learn the tenets of Islam from her, and used to remark about her, "Hamidah is pure from every impurity like the ingot of pure gold."[12]

Scholarly attainments

As a child, Ja'far Al-Sadiq studied under his grandfather, Zayn al-Abidin. After his grandfather's death, he studied under and accompanied his father, Muhammad al-Baqir, until Muhammad al-Baqir died in 733.

Ja'far Al-Sadiq became well versed in Islamic sciences, including Qur'an and Hadith. In addition to his knowledge of Islamic sciences, Ja'far Al-Sadiq was also an adept in natural sciences, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, anatomy, alchemy and other subjects.

The foremost Islamic alchemist, Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber, was Ja'far Al-Sadiq's most prominent student. Ja'far Al-Sadiq was known for his liberal views on learning, and was keen to have discourse with Scholars of other views.

In the books actually written by these original jurists and scholars, there are very few theological and judicial differences between them. Imam Ahmad rejected the writing down and codifying of the religious rulings he gave. They knew that they might have fallen into error in some of their judgements and stated this clearly. They never introduced their rulings by saying, "Here, this judgement is the judgement of God and His prophet." [13] There is also very little text actually written down by Jafar al-Sadiq himself. They all give priority to the Qur'an and the Hadith (the practice of Muhammad). They felt that the Quran and the Hadith, the example of Muhammad provided people with almost everything they needed.

Ja'far Al-Sadiq is also cited in a wide range of historical sources, including al-Tabari, al-Yaqubi and Al-Masudi. Al-Dhahabi recognizes his contribution to Sunni tradition and Isma’ili scholars such as Qadi al-Nu'man[14] recorded his traditions in their work.[15]

  • Scholars believed to have learned extensively from Ja'far Al-Sadiq:
  1. Jābir ibn Hayyān – known in Europe as Geber, a great alchemist.[16]
  2. Musa al-Kadhim – his son, the seventh Shi’ah Imam according to the Twelvers
  3. Isma'il ibn Jafar – his son, the sixth Ismaili Imam according to the Ismailis.
  4. Ali al-Uraidhi ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq- his youngest son.
  5. Mufadhal ibn Amr- his Gate keeper and a prominent student.
  6. Abū Ḥanīfa - founder of Hanafi school of thought.
  7. Malik ibn Anas – founder of the Maliki school of thought.
  8. Wasil ibn Ata – founder of the Mu'tazili school of thought.

Under the Umayyad rulers

Ja'far Al-Sadiq lived in violent times.[17] Ja'far Al-Sadiq was considered by many Shia (follower) of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib to be the sixth Shi'a imam, however, the Shi'ahs were considered heretics and rebels by the Umayyad caliphs. Many of Ja'far Al-Sadiq's relatives had died at the hands of the Umayyad.

After Hussein ibn Ali was betrayed, the people of Kufa called Zayd ibn Ali the grandson of Husayns over to Kufa. Zaydis believe that on the last hour of Zayd ibn Ali, Zayd ibn Ali was also betrayed by the people in Kufa who said to him: "May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab?" Zayd ibn Ali said, "I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing them both nor saying anything but good about them...when they were entrusted with government they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah"[18][19][20][21]

Ja'far Al-Sadiq did not participate, but many of his kinsmen, including his uncle, were killed, and others were punished by the Umayyad caliph. There were other rebellions during these last years of the Umayyad, before the Abbasids succeeded in grasping the caliphate and establishing the Abbasid dynasty in 750 CE, when Ja'far Al-Sadiq was 48 years old.

Muhammad al-Baqir and his son, Jaffar al-Sadiq, explicitly rejected the idea of armed rebellion.[22] Many rebel factions tried to convince Ja'far al-Sadiq to support their claims. Ja'far Al-Sadiq evaded their requests without explicitly advancing his own claims. Al-Sadiq declared that even though he, as the designated imam, was the true leader of the ummah, he would not press his claim to the caliphate.[23] He is said to burned their letters (letters promising him the caliphate) commenting, "This man is not from me and cannot give me what is in the province of Allah". Ja'far Al-Sadiq's prudent silence on his true views is said to have established Taqiyya as a Shi'a doctrine. Taqiyya says that it is acceptable to hide one's true opinions if by revealing them, one put oneself or others in danger.[17]

The incidents and difficulties, which come into human life can, measure and find out the extent of his energy and faith. The difficulties, which cropped up in the life of Ja'far Al-Sadiq and the patience and forbearance, which, he showed towards them, illuminated his personality and worth. Howsoever they (enemies) abused and teased him he showed patience and forbearance and admonished them. He never cursed or used foul language about them.

Under the Abbasid rulers

The new Abbasid rulers, who had risen to power on the basis of their claim to descent from Muhammad's uncle ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, were extremely suspicious of Ja'far al-Sadiq, whom many considered to have a better claim to the caliphate. Many followers of Zayd ibn Ali were ready to listen to al-Sadiq after being prosecuted ruthlessly by the Abbasids[23] . Al-Sadiq was watched closely and, occasionally, imprisoned to cut his ties with his followers.[17][23] Ja'far endured the persecution patiently and continued his study and writing wherever he found himself.

He died on 8 December 765. He was poisoned by Al-Mansur.[17] He is buried in Medina, in the famous Jannatul Baqee' cemetery.


After Ja'far al-Sadiq's death during the reign of the ‘Abbāsids, various Shī‘ī groups organised in secret opposition to their rule. Among them were the supporters of the proto-Ismā‘īlī community, of whom the most prominent group were called the "Mubārakiyyah".

There are hadīth which state that Ismā‘īl ibn Ja‘far "al-Mubārak" would be heir to the Imamate, as well as those that state Musa al-Kadhim[4][24] was to be the heir. However, Ismā‘īl predeceased his father.

Some of the Shī‘ah claimed Ismā‘īl had not died, but rather gone into hiding, but the proto-Ismā‘īlī group accepted his death and therefore that his eldest son, Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl, was now Imām. Muḥammad remained in contact with this "Mubārakiyyah" group, most of whom resided in Kūfah.

In contrast, Twelvers don't believe that Isma'il ibn Jafar was ever given the nass ("designation of the Imamate"),[25][26] but they acknowledge that this was the popular belief among the people at the time.[27] Both Shaykh Tusi[25] and Shaykh al-Sadūq[26] did not believe that the divine designation was changed (called Bada'), arguing that if matters as important as Imāmate were subject to change, then the fundamentals of belief should also be subject to change. Thus Twelvers accept that Mūsá al-Kāżim was the only son who was ever designated for Imāmate.

This is the initial point of divergence between the proto-Twelvers and the proto-Ismā‘īlī. This disagreement over the proper heir to Ja‘far has been a point of contention between the two groups ever since. The split among the Mubārakiyyah came with Muḥammad's death. The majority of the group denied his death; they recognised him as the Mahdi. The minority believed in his death and would eventually emerge in later times as the Fāṭimid Ismā‘īlī, ancestors to all modern groups.

Another Shia branch that emerged around the figure of Ja'far al-Sadiq was the Tawussite Shia. Following the death of al-Sadiq, the Tawussite's denied that he died and instead believed in his Mahdism.

Another Shia branch claimed that al-Sadiq's eldest surviving son Abdullah al-Aftah was the Imam to succeed his father. This branch was known as the Fathites. There is little evidence of them surviving beyond al-Aftah’s death, since he is commonly believed to have left no descendants.[28]


Ja'far al-Sadiq
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Quraysh
Born: 17 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 83 AH 24 April 702 CE Died: 15th Shawwāl 148 AH 8 December 765 CE
Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Muhammad al-Baqir
6th Imam of Shia Islam
Succeeded by
Musa al-Kadhim
Twelver successor
Succeeded by
Isma'il ibn Jafar
Ismaili successor
Succeeded by
Abdullah al-Aftah
Fathite successor

See also


Further reading

  • Muhammed Al-Husain Al-Mudaffar, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq.
  • Sayyid Mahdi as-Sadr, THE AHLUL-BAYT Ethical Role-Models.
  • Mohammad Hussein il Adeeb, The Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibales.

External links

  • Ja'far ibn Muhammad, an article of Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  • Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's life according to a Sunni Sufi source (Naqshbandiya Mujaddidiya Khalidiya Haqqaniya Tariqa of Sufism)
  • Imam al-Sadiq by Shaykh Mohammed al-Husayn al-Muzaffar
  • Tawheed al-Mufadhdhal – as dictated by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq to Al-Mufadhdhal
  • The Sixth Imam
  • Sheikh al-Mufid

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