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Imam Sadeq’s (AS) explanation of the authority of the Ahl al-Bayt in the holy Qur’an


Today, the 25th of Shawwal is that tragic day in history, when Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), the 6th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), was martyred in the year 148 AH – corresponding to 765 AD – through poisoning by Mansour Dawaniqi, the 2nd self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime.
He was 65 years of age, and was laid to rest in the sacred cemetery of Jannat al-Baqie in Medina, which alas has been desecrated by the Wahhabis, who 90 years ago, destroyed the grand mausoleum housing his tomb and the tombs of his father, Imam Mohammad Baqer, grandfather, Imam Zain al-Abedin, and Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (peace upon them). Now we have a special feature in this regard as follows:
Born in the year 83 AH on the auspicious 17th of Rabi al-Awwal, the birth anniversary of his ancestor, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), he was 12 years old when his grandfather, the Survivor of the Tragedy of Karbala, was martyred through poisoning, and 31 years old, when his own father was subjected to the same fate by the tyrannical Omayyad regime. In 114 AH, the divine mantle of imamate came to rest on his shoulders, and for the next 34 years, until his own martyrdom this day, he guided the Ummah in reviving the genuine sunnah and seerah or practice and behavior of his ancestor Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Of this period, 18 years coincided with the rule of the hated Omayads and 16 years during the rule of the new regime of the Abbasids, who turned out to be equally tyrannical, despite their propaganda of returning the rule of the Islamic realm to the Prophet’s progeny. It was indeed a critical era in Islamic history, as is evident by the 6th Imam’s rejection of the offer of caliphate by one of the victorious generals of the anti-Omayyad uprising, and this action by Imam Sadeq (AS) made it clear that real authority is from God and does not depend on the whims and inclinations of the people.
The era of Imam Sadeq (AS) saw the influx into the Islamic world of philosophical ideas of other cultures, such as the Greek, the Indian, the Egyptian, the Persian, and the Chinese. It was the era when Muslims had begun to acquire and expand various branches of science. Such tendencies naturally led to distortion of ideas propagation of false beliefs that were detrimental to the divine teachings of Islam. At that sensitive juncture, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) rose to the occasion by properly guiding the Muslims and imparting to them the genuine teachings. As a result a scientific atmosphere was created. Moreover, the political climate when the Omayyads were on the decline and the Abbasids were fighting to seize and consolidate powers, provided the 6th Imam with the necessary condition to promote in peace, without harassment by the regime, the true teachings of Islam. The result was the flourishing of the famous academy of Medina, where some 4,000 students, studying the different branches of science, sat at the feet of the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Successor to acquire the bezels of wisdom including practical sciences such as chemistry. Among them was Jaber Ibn Hayyan, who is considered as the Father of Chemistry, and was known to medieval Europe as Geber through the translations of his works into Latin.
At the same time, Imam Sadeq (AS) emphasized on morals and the necessity to resist against oppression. Among his famous saying in this regard is: Whoever praises an oppressive ruler and is humble before him in pursuit of his worldly gains, will be in the company of that oppressive ruler in the fire of hell.
Regarding the fundamental principle of Wilayat-al-Mutlaqa or Divinely-decreed authority, after Monotheism, Divine Justice, and Prophethood, Imam Sadeq (AS) as the holder of this authority from God, which was entrusted by Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) on the historic day of Ghadeer to Imam Ali (AS), used to say: Wilayat is superior to prayer, fasting, Zakat and Hajj pilgrimage, for; it is the key to all these.
When asked whether the holy Qur’an includes all human sciences, Imam Sadeq (AS) has been quoted as saying: God Almighty has expressed everything in the Qur’an. By God that everything which mankind needs to know has been mentioned in the holy Qur’an. Imam Sadeq says: The Book of God contains everything from the beginning of creation till the day of resurrection. It contains news of the earth and heaven, paradise and hell, as well as the past and present, and I know all of them well.
Imam Sadeq (AS), when was asked how the Qur’an is always up-to-date despite the passage of centuries since its revelation, replied: It is because God Almighty did not sent the Qur’an for a specific time or place, but made it universal – for all periods and all places till the day of resurrection. On the recitation of the holy Qur’an, the 6th Imam said: By God recitation of the Qur’an is not just to read and memorize its ayahs but the goal is to ponder on the meanings of the ayahs.
A person asked Imam Sadeq (AS) the explanation of ayah 59 of Surah Nisa which reads:
“O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those vested with authority among you.”
The Imam said that those vested with authority means we the Ahl al-Bayt, and the believers have been commanded to obey us till the day of resurrection. When asked why the name of Imam Ali (AS) and other Imams of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt has not been mentioned in the holy Qur’an, he explained in a thought-provoking and rational manner by pointing to several ayahs of the holy Qur’an, saying: For instance, in the Qur’an God commands us to pray but does not mention whether the prayer is 3 or 4 Raka’ats, which means it was the duty of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) to clarify the exact number of Raka’at, for each of the five daily prayers. Another instance is the ayah on Hajj which does not mention that the pilgrims should circumambulate the holy Ka’ba seven times in order to complete a Tawaf, and it was Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) who determined the number of rounds by the command of Almighty God. Thus ayah 59 refers to the authority after the Prophet of Imam Ali, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (AS), although it does not mention their names.
Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) then pointed to the famous saying of the Prophet on the Day of Ghadeer while returning from his Farewell Hajj pilgrimage; “For whoever I am Master (Mowla), Ali is his Master (Mowla)”
The Imam said that this is ample proof of the authority vested by God Almighty in Imam Ali (AS) and his Infallible Descendants as Leaders of mankind. He then went on to cite the famous Hadith Thaqalayn, in which Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) explicitly says: “
“I am leaving behind among you two precious things (thaqlayn): the Book of Allah (i.e. the holy Qur’an) and my progeny, my Ahl al-Bayt; hold fast to them, for the two will never part with each other even when they return to me at the Pool (of Kowthar on the Day of Judgement).”
The Prophet also said: Do not try to teach anything to the Ahl al-Bayt since they are more knowledgeable than you and they never mislead you. Thus, as the holy Qur’an says in ayah 33 of Surah al-Ahzaab:
“Indeed Allah desires to keep away all uncleanness from you Ahl al-Bayt and preserve you thoroughly purified.”
Once when a person asked Imam Sadeq (AS) to give a rationally convincing proof of God, he said: Have you ever boarded a ship. The man said yes. The Imam said: Were you caught in a storm at sea with no hope of being rescued? He replied in the affirmative. The Imam then said, the power that saved you from certain death and destruction is God when there was no hope of survival.
The guiding role of Imam Sadeq (AS) was an anathema to Mansour Dawaniqi, the second self-styled caliph of the new Abbasid regime, who ironically before seizing political authority was an insignificant person claiming to be a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt. He very well knew that Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) was the rightful successor of the Prophet, and for this reason, on usurping political rule of the Islamic state, he starting harassing the 6th Imam. Mansour pressured the Imam to close the famous academy of Medina. Finally, on this day he had the Imam martyred through a fatal dose of poison.

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