Father: Ali s/o Musa Al-Ridha, the eighth Imam of the Shiite Sect.
Most Famous Titles: Al-Jawad, Al-Taqi, Babul-Murad
Nickname: Abu Jaafar, the Second
Place & Date of Birth: Madinah on the 10th Rajab, 195 A.H., approx. the 8th April, 811 A.D.
Lifetime: 25 years.
Duration of Imamate: 17 years.
Date of Martyrdom: 29th Thil-Qi’da, 220 A.H., approx. 24th Oct., 835 A.D.
Cause of Death: poisoned to death by his wife with instigation from Al-Mo’tasim, the Abbasid caliph.
Place of Burial: Quraish Cemetery (currently, Kadhimiya District), just beside his grandfather Imam Musa Al-Kadhim, Baghdad, Iraq.
For some time, Ahlul-Bait followers experienced years of unrest and anxiety. Imam Al-Ridha [A.S.], though over forty, had not yet had his successor. The birth of Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.] was late, while Imam Al-Ridha continued to promise and assure his companions that his successor who would undertake the responsibilities of imamate was undoubtedly coming. However, the time of his birth had not been permitted by Allah yet, for reasons He only knows.
He was born on the 10th Rajab, 195 A.H. The face of Imam Al-Ridha glowed with joy. The new born baby, immediately after delivery, fell down in prostration, admitting the Oneness of Allah and the Message of Mohammed [SAWW].
Imam Al-Ridha had already asked his sister Hakeema to stay beside his wife Khaizuran (Imam Al-Jawad’s mother), when signs of delivery on her became clear.
Hakeema, the sister of Imam Al-Ridha, was astounded with the light that fell down in prostration to Allah at the moment of coming into this world. In fact, such an event was something usual by the Infallible Imams assigned by Allah for people.
They do not resemble other people in their behaviors, even when they are still in the wombs of their mothers. It is not surprising to see an imam fall down in prostration on his birth, starting the first moments of his life with the announcement of Shahadatain (the two testimonies), for such a behavior implies the authenticity of his imamate before the public.
Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.] was the unprecedented miracle of his time. He undertook the responsibilities of imamate after his father when he was only nine. It was a matter that required meditation and wonder even by the followers of Imam Al-Ridha [A.S.] when he was asked about his successor and he pointed to his young child. It is true that they knew about the stories of Jesus Christ [A.S.] and John s/o Zakariya [A.S.] before, through the Holy Quran. But one is accustomed to believe what one sees and feels by oneself what is usual and familiar. Seeing with their very eyes the sign of Allah that they cannot argue against, they had no alternative but to believe.
That was one of the features that made Imam Al-Jawad distinguished among other Infallible Imams. First, his birth was late, a matter which made the followers anxious. Secondly, he undertook the imamate when he was still young in age, so miraculous in arguments, wisdom and knowledge. Finally he died when he was only twenty five.
Although his son, Imam Al-Hadi [A.S.], also undertook the responsibilities of imamate when he was a child, the news about the imamate of Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.] in an early age widely spread, since the station that transmitted this news was the palace of Al-Ma’amoon, the caliph, when the famous public debate was held between Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.] and the Chief Judge of his time, Yehya Bin Aktham.
He was known for more than one title. The most famous were Al-Jawad and Al-Taqi. To his neighbors in Al-Kadhimiya District where he was buried, he is known as Babul-Murad (The Gate to fulfilling wishes), as they believe that their prayers to God are responded to, when they pass through this gate.
Males: Ali Al-Hadi, the Imam who was his successor in imamate & another one named: Musa.
Females: Fatima, Umama, Hakeema & Zainab.
He did not have children from his wife Ummul-Fadhl who assassinated him.
His Life and the Rulers of His Time:
Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.] lived the last part of Al-Ma’moon’s reign and two years of Al-Mo’tasim Caliphate.
Al-Ma’moon who was accused of murdering Imam Ridha [A.S.], tried hard to win over Imam Al-Jawad, his son, in an attempt to drop this charge and prove that he was innocent of that crime.
He sent for Imam Al-Jawad who was in Medinah and offered him to marry his daughter Ummul-Fadhl, in the hope that such a marriage would make him forget his father’s death. Such a decision was confronted with a rage by Al-Ma’moon’s retinue. Such a decision would fill them with unrest and fear for the future of the Abbasid throne, especially they had already experienced the appointment of Imam Al-Jawad’s father as the crown-prince of Al-Ma’moon, a decree which brought similar fears.
They tried in many ways to convince him to renounce his decision, but he did not respond to their pressures.
They retreated a little and claimed that he was still young, lacking knowledge, Fiqh and education in general, and suggested that he would let him for a while acquire the qualifications required for a man to be the Caliph’s son-in-law.
Al-Ma’moon laughed at the excuses they gave to make him give up his decision, or at least postpone its execution, being clever and mindful of the glorious position of Ahlul-Bait and aware of the fact that their knowledge is not acquired through conventional ways of education.
He offered them the chance to subject him to a test on various fields of knowledge they wished. If he could not pass the test, he would take their advice. He, however, would go on with his decision without protests from their sides if he succeeded.
The men of the court agreed on Al-Ma’moon’s offer and started preparing for the test day. They sent for the Chief Judge of his time, Yehya Bin Aktham, and asked him to prepare questions hard enough to foil the plans of the caliph and fulfill their objectives to prevent such a marriage.
The conclusive day arrived and everybody was present. The Chief Judge asked Al-Ma’moon for permission to ask Imam Al-Jawad some questions in Fiqh, and the caliph, in turn, referred him to the Imam to ask him for permission to start. The Chief Judge stepped forward to have permission, looked at the face of the child, quite uncertain about the practicability of addressing such major questions in Fiqh to a child of such an age. He, however, was obliged to yield to the orders of those men who called him for that public debate, and perhaps, promised him luxurious presents if he fulfilled their wishes in striking the Imam dumb and foiling the caliph’s plans.
Yehya: I request your permission to ask a question.
Imam [A.S.]: Ask as you wish.
Yehya: Tell me about (the penalty imposed on) a pilgrim who killed an animal for hunting.(1) Imam [A.S.]: Did he kill it while being in a state of Ihram, or not? Did he do it on purpose or by mistake? Was the pilgrim free or a slave? Was he still young or an adult? Did he do it once or more? Was the prey of bird species or another species? Was it a young or an adult prey? Did he feel repentant about his sin or not? Was the prey killed at night or during the day? Was the pilgrim in the state of Ihram for Umra or Hajj when he killed the prey?
It was a question answered by the Imam with a shower of questions. The Imam’s answer implicitly referred to the ignorance of the man who addressed such a question, and that he was not mindful of how much details such a question include. The questioner should have been more precise in his question and identified exactly what he wanted to ask about, for that issue included so many divisions and subdivisions of cases that it was difficult to give a general answer that could be applied to every case.
Moreover, the Imam did not answer in a usual way, since he knew that the questioner did not mean to understand an ambiguous rule of the Islamic teachings; rather, he sought for challenge and prove whether the Imam was knowledgeable about the Islamic teachings or not. Therefore, the Imam’s answer came sufficient and comprehensive as it fulfilled the intended purpose. Not only did the answer prove the wealth of knowledge that the Imam acquired, but also proved the ignorance of his opponent of the details of his question. To the Chief Judge, that answer was dumbfounding. He was perplexed and did not know what to say. The men of the court were even more perplexed and nobody could utter a word. Al-Ma’moon felt triumphant and immediately asked the Imam to start the matrimonial procedures.
Completing the procedures of marriage, Al-Ma’moon asked the Imam [A.S] to give details on the question asked by the Chief Judge with all possibilities. The Imam gave the details on every case of the question.
And in order to convince his men of their wrong idea about the Imam, he asked the Imam to address a question to his opponent as a test. The question was perplexing and the chief judge admitted that he failed to answer and asked the Imam to answer it himself.
The men of the court reluctantly accepted the new status, anxiously predicting the loss of the throne that would eventually be won by a non-Abbasid dynasty.
The Imam took his bride to Medinah. His major concern was to continue the march of his noble fathers to spread the knowledge of the Prophet [SAWW] and Ahlul-Bait [A.S], and then returned to Baghdad to find the eminent scholars and faqeehs waiting for him to benefit from his knowledge.
Then Al-Ma’moon’s reign was over, and the throne was ascended by his brother Al-Mo’tasim.
The esteem that Al-Ma’moon and the Imam’s companions felt for Imam Al-Jawad did not please Al-Mo’tasim. He always recalled what his Abbasid ancestors experienced with the members of Ahlul-Bait that had always been a source of unrest to their thrones.
Al-Mo’tasim ascended the throne in 219 A.H. following the death of his brother Al-Ma’moon and kept looking for a chance to murder the Imam.
The awaited chance came when he knew that the Imam’s wife Ummul-Fadhl, who was his niece (Al-Ma’moon’s daughter) had some misunderstanding with her husband, being jealous of his second wife. Al-Mo’tasim asked her to serve him poisoned grape and she did. When she saw the Imam struggle because of poison, she regretted her crime and burst into tears. Regret was useless because she murdered the Imam who was assigned by Allah.
His soul ascended to join his grandfather, the Prophet Mohammed [SAWW] and his pure fathers who ended in similar ways. He was buried beside his grandfather Imam Musa Al-Kadhim in Kadhimiya District, which was known in the past as Quraish Cemetery.
Legacy of Imam Al-Jawad [A.S.]:
A great number of the Imam’s companions and students passed on his legacy. In his book (Imam Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Jawad), Sheikh Mohammed Hasan Aal-Yaseen enlisted over 100 persons of them and mentioned for them so many books and compilations covering what they studied. Those products were then passed on to the four major books of Hadith of the Shiite sect, Al-Kafi, Al-Tahtheeb, Al-Istibsar & Man La Yahdharuhu Al-Faqeeh. Those books compiled the significant part of Ahlul-Bait’s intellectual legacy.
Some of the Imam’s Sayings:
• The learned suffer from loneliness when they live among masses of ignorant people.
• Beauty lies in (expressing) tongues, while perfection lies in minds.
• Revealing something (to the public) before it is mature ruins it.
• He who witnesses a situation that he disapproves shall be treated as if he were absent. He who is away from a situation that he approves shall be treated as if he were present.
1. Ahmed Bin Abi-Ya’qoob, History of Ya’qoobi.
2. Sheik Al-Toosi, Al-Tahtheeb.
3. Al-Majlisi, Bihar Al-Anwar.
4. Al-Kulaini, Al-Kafi.
5. Sheikh Mohammed Hasan Al-Yaseen, Imam Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Jawad.
6. Ibn Shu’ba Al-Harrani, Tuhaf Al-Uqool An Aal Al-Rasool.
7. Sheikh Al-Mufeed, Al-Irshad.
8. Ali Bin Al-Hussein Al-Mas’oodi, Ithbat Al-Wasiyyah.
9. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Mustadrak Awalim Al-Uloom.