Imam Mohammad Baqir (AS) and Enthusiasm for Teaching
Imam Mohammad Baqir (AS) and Enthusiasm for Teaching
Mohammadibn Ali al-Bāqir (AS) was the fifth imam to the Shi‘ite people. His father was Imam Ali ibn Hussein (AS) and his mother was Fatimah bint al-Hassan. He is revered by the Shi’ite Muslims for his religious leadership and is highly respected by Sunni Muslims for his knowledge and Islamic scholarship as a leading jurist of Medina, the City of the Prophet (P.B.U.H). Mohammad al-Baqir (AS) was born on the 1st of Rajab in 57 A.H. in the city of Medina. Because of his resemblance to his great-grandfather Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H), he was named Mohammad, and because he analyzed knowledge and manifested its secrets, he became known with the title of al-Baqir. He was the first Imam whose lineage ascended and reached the Islamic Prophet Mohammad from both the paternal and maternal sides.The Shiite historians allege a Hadith that one of the companions of Mohammad Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari was in the presence of Mohammad. He asked Mohammad about the names of descendants from his daughter Hazrat Fatimah (SA) and Ali (AS). Hazrat Mohammad (pbuh) told him, “O Jabir, you will have a long life, and although you will go blind, but you will meet the 5thImam in line of my descendants whose name will be my name, who will walk like me and who will be the fifth Imam of the time. Give my peace greetings to him when you meet him.” As predicted by Mohammad Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari had a long life and became blind in old age. But he devoutly waited for the time when he would meet the fifth Imam. Each morning he would come out of his house, sit by the road side and wait for the sound of the footsteps to recognize the fifth Imam. One such day while he was waiting in the streets of Medina, he heard someone walking towards him, the sound of footsteps reminded him of the way Mohammadused to walk. Jabir stood up, stopped the man and asked his name. He replied, "Mohammad”, Jabir asked, whose son? He replied “Ali ibn Hussein (AS)”. Jabir immediately recognizedthat he was talking to the fifth Imam. He embraced him and told him Mohammad’s messageand that that the prophet hadsent his greetings to him. Imam took him to his house, asked his friends to gather as many people as they can. When they all assembled in his house, the Imam asked Jabir to tell the whole story again. Jabir narrated the story to the companions, they all attested in unison of the Imamate of the fifth Imam and also the names of the other seven imams in his line up to the twelfth Imam. Imam's life history can be divided into two parts: the period before his Imamate, led in Medina that is nearly 35 years and was the peaceful part of his life. And the second phase is the Period of Imamate, which stretched up to 19 years and is counted as the duration of his propagation and dissemination of Islamic knowledge and wisdom.
After the death of the fourth Imam in 95 Hegira, the caliphs in Damascus were so preoccupied with conquests of foreign lands that they did not have time to worry about the loyalties orhostilities of people ofMedina. They were also satisfied that the Imams of the Ahlal-bayt would not divulge in any rebellion against them. They left the people of Medina to their activities in peace. This was the time that Imam of Ahlal-bayt was waiting for. Imam opened a school to teach Qur'an and Hadith as it was taught by the Holy Prophetand Imam Ali (AS).
Imam Mohammad al-Baqir (AS) was said to have been highly esteemed for his learning and eloquence, as well as on account of his noble birth. According to Ibn Khalikan, Imam received the title of Baqir (Splitter of knowledge) due to his ample knowledge and his enthusiasm for teaching other people.
Imam and His Teachings
Imam discoursed comprehensively on many topics such as the nature of the soul and Nafs (ego), the nature and attributes of God, the qualities of the Ulemas (scholars). He discouraged arguments about the divine nature, saying that it was not possible for men to understand it.
It was during the caliphate of Umer Ibn Abdul Aziz the Umayyad caliph, that the Prophet’s descendant enjoyed a brief period of peace which lasted for only two years and five months which is the period of his government. He lifted from them a great deal of atrocities and prohibited the cursing of Imam Alion the pulpit on Friday, substituting it with reciting a verse from the Holy Qur’an. Imam Mohammad al-Baqir’s son, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (AS), was his student and benefited from his knowledge. He founded the precursor of Shiite jurisprudence.During his respectable and scholarly retirement at Medina, Imam was frequently called upon to explain particular teachings in regard to Imamate, while in Medina, Imam Mohammad al-Baqir (AS) continued to promote the schools of theology. It is noted by many historians that until the death of the 5th Imam there were 25000 students in these schools learning Fiqh, Theology and Islamic science. It was at this time that 400 books of Hadith were compiled by the students of these schools under the guidance of Imam Mohammad al-Baqir (AS).
Despite Imam's aversion to politics, the Umayyad rulers harassed Mohammad al-Baqir (AS) for fear of his popularity and influence. At about this time the early discussions and differences in the community surrounded the question of who has the right to rule. Numerous Shiite individuals and delegations from Kufa traveled to Medina under the cover of the Hajj ritual to attend al-Baqir's teaching and to ask him specific questions.
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