By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Deliverance is thirty months after the death of Mamoun.”
True to his words, exactly two-and-a-half years after the death of the murderer of his father, Imam Reza (AS), he was relieved of the trials and tribulations he had successfully passed during the 17 years of his mission as the 9th Infallible Heir of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Today on the last day of the month of Zil-Qa’dah, while commemorating the martyrdom anniversary of the 25-year-old Imam Muhammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), let us cast a glance as to why Mu’tasim, the 8th self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, decided to cut short the life of a venerable descendant of the Prophet in the prime of youth.
Volumes would be required to pen the virtues of the 9th Imam whose funeral procession this day in 220 AH in Baghdad was attended by tens of thousands of mourners lamenting the great loss inflicted on Islam.
The sight of such a huge gathering stunned the courtiers, and the criminal caliph fearful of public anger if his complicity in the murder through poisoning administered by his niece (the victim’s treacherous wife, Umm al-Fazl, daughter of Mamoun), became known, joined the funeral procession as it made its way to the northern outskirts of Baghdad to lay to rest Imam Taqi (AS) beside the latter’s grandfather, Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS).
I have no intention to detail those last moments of the 9th Imam writhing in pain on partaking of the poisoned food, as his sadistic wife watched in delight and prevented the maids and servants from providing any antidote to her victim.
I need not elaborate on the well-documented evil character of Mu’tasim (son of the Turkic slave-girl, Marida, whom Haroun had taken as a concubine to satisfy his illicit desires), who has earned lasting notoriety for splintering the Ummah into four court-imposed jurisprudential sects – Hanafi, Maleki, Hanbali, and Shafei – by prohibiting Ijtehad, in a bid to keep the masses away from the genuine Muhammadan Fiqh, promoted by the Prophet’s progeny, Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) in particular.
Neither is it necessary to repeat the historical facts of the base-born caliph’s open enmity for the Arabs and his scorning of the Iranians, while entrusting all state affairs to his mother’s kinsmen, the Turkic slave soldiers, imported to Baghdad in tens of thousands from Central Asia – many still clinging to Shamanist practices without any idea of Islam, let alone reverence for the Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt.
Nor do I think, this brief newspaper column allows me to recount the role of the chief court-mullah, Abu Dawoud, in the murder of the Prophet’s heir after his verdict to severe a thief’s palm from the wrist or the entire hand itself from the elbow was overturned by the rational ruling of the 9th Imam.
Imam Taqi (AS) had said that a habitual thief, after due warning should have four fingers severed leaving the thumb and the palm intact, so that the culprit, who is after all a human being and in need of God’s Mercy, should be able to perform the daily ritual prayer in the correct manner – a dynamic verdict that aroused the jealousy of Abu Dawoud, who told the caliph to get rid of the Prophet’s heir, since the masses would now question the legitimacy of the Abbasids to rule Muslims.
The sole matter on my mind is to answer the question that may rise as to why Mamoun married his daughter to the son of his victim, and how the 9th Imam consented to the marriage?
It is obvious, Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) had no choice, when the tyrannical ruler forced him to marry his daughter on a variety of crafty pretexts including the desire to be the maternal grandfather of a direct descendant of the Prophet – in the same manner that years earlier he had forced Imam Reza (AS) under implicit death threats, to agree to become his heir apparent.
Mamoun, the son of a Persian concubine, was known for his crafty and cunning nature. Having realized the failure of the brutally aggressive policies of his father, Haroun, and great-grandfather Mansour Dawaniqi, against Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS) and Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) respectively, he resorted to diplomacy to try to undermine the unsullied character of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt.
Although his subterfuge had been defeated by Imam Reza (AS), he thought the tender age of Imam Taqi (AS) was a factor in his favour and the young boy would be dazzled by the glamour of the court to succumb to his ploys. Moreover, his daughter would be providing him precise information on the Imam’s activities and actual contacts with the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt.
The 9th Imam, however, defeated all such stratagems, a hint of which he had given during the famous debate with the Mu’tazalite ideologue, Yahya ibn Aktham that won admiration from the audiences and made the court mullahs spellbound.
Contrary to what Mamoun had planned, it was God’s Will that like the treacherous wives of the Prophets of the past, such as Noah and Lot, as well as certain spouses of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) – refer to Surah Tahrim for their plots – Umm al-Fazl would remain barren.
Thus, by courting martyrdom, Imam Muhammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), saved Islam and the Ummah from a very intricate plot. In the process he paved the way for the eventual reappearance in the end times of the 12th and Last Successor of the Prophet to root out oppression and corruption from the face of the earth through establishment of the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice.
Here I quote a dialogue between the 9th Imam and Seyyed Abdul-Azeem al-Hassani, whose shrine in Rayy, southern Tehran is an important pilgrimage centre:
“I said to Muhammad bin Ali (AS), ‘I wish you were the Qa’em of the Ahl al-Bayt, who will fill the earth with justice and fairness as it has been filled with injustice and oppression.”
Imam Jawad (AS): “O Abu’l-Qasim, every one of us is Qa’em (Executor) of the orders of Allah the Almighty and a guide to the creed decreed by Allah, but the Qa’em through whom Allah will purify the earth from the people of unbelief and atheism and who will fill the earth with justice and fairness is he whose birth will be unknown to people and who will disappear and it will be impermissible for people to call him by his name. His name and surname are those of the Prophet of Allah (SAWA). The earth will submit to him and every difficulty will be easy to him. His companions, who will be three hundred and thirteen men as the number of the men of (the Battle of) Badr, and will join him from the farthest parts of the world, as Allah says (“wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power over all things”). When this number of loyal men will join him, Allah will make him appear.”