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Imam Ja'ffar As-Sadiq (a) 

The Great Teacher, the Scientist & the Philosopher

Courtesy:Ali hassan Jarchavi, CA and "Mohamedraza H. Janmohamed 

   Imam Ja'ffarSadiq [a] was born in the year 83 AH on 17th of Rabi-ul-awwal in Madina, during the period of his grandfather's Imamate. He spent his childhood upto 12 years under Imam Zainul Abedeen [a] and the next 19 years under his father Imam Muhammad Baquir [a] before he undertook the responsibility of Imamate himself and served the cause of Islam for the next 34 years guiding muslims, prior to himself being martyred in the year 148 AH on the 25th of Shawaal in Madina.

As we discuss this eminent personality who was multi dimensional, we also need to look into the circumstances prevalent at the time of this Imam and his works and contributions to society in general and the entire humanity.

Imam Sadiq [as], born as the first child of Imam Mohamed Al-Baqir [a] and Umme Farwa, who was the daughter of Qasim ibne Mohamed ibne Abibakr. A notable fact here is that his father's grandmother and mother's grandmother were two sisters, who were the two princesses of Yazdgird Choesroe of Persia.

Imam Sadiq [as] grew up and guided muslims at a time, when the Banu Ummayya and Banu Abbasi were fighting for the khilafat and the throne of the Muslim empire and thus left the Ahlul Bait [a] for a while in peace`, an opportunity that led to teaching the general masses various subjects and removal of ignorance.

Whilst many zakireen and Ulema discuss the various aspects of Imam's life, it is our intention today to throw light on a few of the Imam's discoveries that he taught. Imam's life and contributions to science, physics, mathematics, religious laws and disciplines are simply too vast to be able to cover all in a short time like we have today.

During his childhood, Imam has been noted for two major contributions, even before he had reached the age of ten. 

First, he created playing games with children in two formats viz. bringing fruits and naturally grown items and discussing its properties as a group in a playing atmosphere within the children and the other game was the vocabulary calling out including synonyms and antonyms, rhyming words, etc all as a game. These games, though within children that he played with created an increased sense of acquiring knowledge within his contemporaries from a young age.

The second major contribution during his childhood was his physical participation in the construction of the extension of Masjide Nabawi, during the Ummayad reign and the Madinite governorship of Omar bin abdul aziz in the years 88 - 90 AH.
[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 30-33]

Imam Sadiq [as] in his youth used to attend the lectures and classes conducted by his father Imam Mohamed Al-Baquir [a], who is famously known as Al-Baquir-al-Uloom, meaning the one who split and opened doors of knowledge, and himself also taught various subjects during this period. However, after the martyrdom of Imam Muhammad al-baquir [a], the Abbasids and the ummayyads engaged in bitter rivalry and battle over the khilafat of the Muslims. This gave the Imam of the time, ample opportunity of disseminating knowledge about the realities of life and the wonders of the Creator, without fear of persecution. And as we 
are all aware, the Imam had more than 4000 students learning various subjects from him. 

Some very notable scholars, who learnt from the Imam are:

1. Nu'man bin Thabit, very well known as Abu-Hanifa, one of the four Imams of Ahle Sunna, whose famous saying "Were it not for the two years [studied under Imam Sadiq [a]], al-Nu'man would have perished". 
2. Malik ibne Anas, a founder of one of the four sunni doctrines 
3. Aban bin Taghlub, commonly known as Abu Sa'ad, a highly respected narrator of ahadith from Imams Zainul Abedeen, Baquir and Sadiq [as] and considered most reliable by both the Shias as well as the Sunnis. 
4. Al-Sikuny 
5. Abu Hamzah Shumali 
6. Al-Jammal 
7. Ibne Yaqteen 
8. Jabir ibne hayyan, and 
9. Al-Biruni

The Imam opened the doors to thinking in his teachings and always opined that shais should have an intellectual base, so that they may not be obliterated by any change of leadership. He supported that the strength of the shias lay in a rich literature which was more important than a standing army of soldiers. An army could be defeated by a superior force, but a rich and vast literature 
cannot be destroyed.[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 97-99]

It may be of interest to us, that a research committee of about 21 prominent professors and lecturers of the University of Strasbourg, France have prepared a comprehensive thesis on Imam Sadiq [as]. This thesis concludes that major scientific progress in modern times are solely based upon and are due to the discoveries made by Imam Sadiq [a], despite the fact that they have expressedly said that they do not believe in the divine knowledge of the Imams as the Shais believe. This thesis also reports that the Imam had a small laboratory wherein he conducted experiments and thus introduced the system of proving theories practically.

Now let us briefly look at some the Imam's works to enable us appreciate his contribution to modern science and technology.

Imam Sadiq [as] challenged the Aristotle theory of four elements, which was the accepted norm then at the age of 12. This theory said that there are only four elements, the earth, water, Fire and Air. Imam Said, each is a mixture of elements. He said, the earth contained many minerals and metals and thus it was not an element. As for the air, it was Imam's discovery of various gases in 
the air that led to the research of separating oxygen from the air by Lavoisier in the year 1794, almost a thousand years after the Imam. Imam had specified that there were many elements in the air and that all of them were essential for breathing. However, Lavoisier had said that only oxygen was required for life support, which has now been contradicted and the Imam's theory accepted.[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 59-61]

" Al-Sikuny 
" Abu Hamzah Shumali 
" Al-Jammal 
" Ibne Yaqteen 
" Jabir ibne hayyan, and 
" Al-Biruni 

The Imam opened the doors to thinking in his teachings and always opined that shais should have an intellectual base, so that they may not be obliterated by any change of leadership. He supported that the strength of the shias lay in a rich literature which was more important than a standing army of soldiers. An army could be defeated by a superior force, but a rich and vast literature cannot be destroyed. [The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 97-99]

It may be of interest to us, that a research committee of about 21 prominent professors and lecturers of the University of Strasbourg, France have prepared a comprehensive thesis on Imam Sadiq [as]. This thesis concludes that major 
scientific progress in modern times are solely based upon and are due to the discoveries made by Imam Sadiq [as], despite the fact that they have expressedly said that they do not believe in the divine knowledge of the Imams as the Shais believe. This thesis also reports that the Imam had a small laboratory wherein he conducted experiments and thus introduced the system of proving 
theories practically.

Now let us briefly look at some the Imam's works to enable us appreciate his contribution to modern science and technology.

Imam Sadiq [a] challenged the Aristotle theory of four elements, which was the accepted norm then at the age of 12. This theory said that there are only four elements, the earth, water, Fire and Air. Imam Said, each is a mixture of elements. He said, the earth contained many minerals and metals and thus it was not an element. As for the air, it was Imam's discovery of various gases in the air that led to the research of separating oxygen from the air by Lavoisier in the year 1794, almost a thousand years after the Imam. Imam had specified that there were many elements in the air and that all of them were essential for breathing. However, Lavoisier had said that only oxygen was required for life support, which has now been contradicted and the Imam's theory accepted.
[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 59-61]

Whilst Galileo, a renown astronomer of the 17th century accepted the Imam's theory that the earth rotated around the sun, he could not believe in Imam's theory of the earth rotating around its own axis, which was recently proved when astronauts landed on the moon, they observed this practically and thus it is now an accepted fact that the earth rotates on its own axis and completes the 
cycle in 24 hours resulting in the formation of day and night.

The Imam also had said that "the Universe was born out of a tiny particle, which had two opposite poles. This particle produced Atom. In this way matter came into being. Then the matter diversified. This diversification was caused by the density or rarity of the Atoms." 

This theory of atoms and opposite poles in each atom, has recently been proved and is an undisputed fact of modern science and electronics. Besides these discoveries, the Imam had also proved that materials were either opaque or transparent based on their property of being either absorbent or repellant to Heat respectively. This fact has led to the modern findings about Heat, 
Electricity and Magnetic properties of materials.[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 
90-95]

This Research Committee of the University of Strasbourg of France also concludes an extremely important aspect of Shiaism. 

Quote:
"Shia religious code, which was formulated by [Imam] Jaffar as-Sadiq [a], was much superior to the religious codes of other Muslim sects, because it allowed free discussion of religious matters. "[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 102]

Imam taught and emphasized the teaching of Philosophy, which is part and parcel of the Shia Jurisprudence. The Imam laid the foundation of these teachings and the principles of logic and reasoning thus dismissing the separation of religion and science as viewed by Judaism and Christianity as well by certain sectors of the Sunnis. The Imam laid the principle of 'no-force' of views even 
upon students by their teachers and encouraged 'free will' in acceptance and logical debates with reasoning and thus put dynamic thinking as a focal point in Islam.

A couplet written above his head where the Imam stood to give his lectures, shows how much importance the Ahlul Bait [as] give to acquiring of knowledge and thinking, which makes the base of reasoning and logic and the only weapon for survival of religion. The couplet is quoted:

"Someone who has no father is not an orphan.
An orphan is one who has no knowledge of science or literature"
[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 102-107]

Brothers and Sisters we need to look deep into this saying of the Imam, albeit within context, and ponder over it as to where we the muslims stand.

The Imam in his quest of giving optimum benefit of knowledge during his time, also gave an important composition of the human body, 

The Imam said:

"Whatever is in the earth is also in the Human body, but all elements are not in the same proportion. Four elements are in very large quantities, eight elements in small quantities and eight elements in minute quantities."

However, it was only during the 18th Century that scientists in France and Austria started doing experiments by dissecting human bodies and after a long period of 150 years proved the analysis of the Imam and today it is a proved fact that the Human body consists of Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen in large quantities, whilst there are eight elements in small and eight more in 
minute quantities.
[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 125-126]

We can see from the above that it is simply impossible to enumerate all the works of this Imam in just one session as this Imam has opened several doors of science, physics, Chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, Gnostics and many other subjects, the basis of which have become the pivotal nucleus for modern science and research. Some of these being the Discovery of Hydrogen, Theory of Light, Time and Space, Universe and Stars, Relativity of Time and Heat, and the list is quite long.

Whilst the Imam gave ample importance to the learning and discoveries of sciences, he also gave more if not equal, importance to religious principles and jurisprudence based on the Qur'anic injection that there is never a change in the system of creation of Allah.

Some of the jurisprudence basis that govern the Shia Fiqh are well documented and still form the basic principles of our Faith. We can only glance at a few of them.

Imam Sadiq (a) tabulated that earnings are in four categories namely: 
governmental and service which includes from the ruler to the last individual job. Second, is trade and all sorts of deals including vending and purchase. The third was industries of all kinds and finally the contracts of lease. Imam has explained comprehensively, the legalities and illegal aspects of each. In this masterpiece document, Imam has also categorized legal expenses into 24 parts. 
Seven of these are personal which are food, drink, dress, marriage, services, defraying of wages, and domestic and personal needs. This is followed by five that are socially obligatory, they cover one's needs, the children, the parents, the wife, and the slaves whether in luxury or hardship. 

This is followed by religious obligatory expanses which are zakat, hajj, and jihad in its proper time. The next category of five expenses is building good relations, spending for higher ranking people, the relatives, the believers, and spending in charity and procuring freedom from bondage. The final four ways of amicable spending are settling of debts, loans, borrowing, and 
hospitality. 

This comprehensive document of the Imam also covers the halal foods and drinks as well as the acceptable dress and legal forms of matrimony. [Tuhaf-al-Uquool, Pages 393-402]

In discussing and refuting the Sufis' principle of abstaining from the World, the Imam has comprehensively answered to their wrong interpretations of the verses of the Holy Qur'an and began with the following words:

" tell me whether you have any knowledge of the distinction between the repealing and the repealed verses of the Holy Qur'an and the decisive and allegorical ones, about which many people deviated and many others perished."[Tuhaf-al-Uquool, Pages 410-411]

This sentence of the Imam is the principle basis of interpreting of the Qur'an that condemns conjecture and speculation of Allah's commandments without thorough knowledge. Imam herein has also reconfirmed that it is impossible to understand the Qur'an without the teachings of the Ahlul Bait [as], which are the two thaqalain left behind by the Holy Prophet Muhammad [saww].

Imam's wisdom and sincere advise to us the believers and muslims as well as the entire humanity stand out and need not only to be pondered upon and practiced, but also propagated, which will alleviate the current negative image of Islam that has been portrayed by the extremists, who have played directly into the hands of the enemies by misinterpreting the Qur'anic commandments.

One such example of the Imam's wisdom, which has an ocean of depth is:

"Knowledge is protection, honesty is glory, ignorance is humility, understanding is honor, open-handedness is success and good manners achieve affection." [Tuhaf-al-Uquool, Pages 420]

Imam's advise to his shias include fearing Allah, the Great the Almighty, to cleave to piety in religion, to make every effort for Allah, to be truthful in talking, being trustworthy, performing long worship, treating of neighbors kindly, keeping close relations, escorting the deceased, visiting the ill, fulfilling of each one's rights, and having good manners.

Having given this advise to us through Zayd al-Shahham, Imam emphasizes: 
"This is the education of Ja'far" whereby if the contrary is true, the disgrace will also be attributed to the Imam.[Imam Al-Sadiq by Sheikh Al-Muzzaffar, Page 214]

On friendship, the Imam exhorts us and says: "Adjust yourself to good friendship to him whom you make friends with." And warns us "Do you not know that whoever accompanies a believer for forty steps, Allah will ask him about the believer on the Day of Judgment."[Imam Al-Sadiq by Sheikh Al-Muzzaffar, Page 223]

Fortunately, there is a lot of literature on this Imam's life both by the Shias and Sunnis as well the non-muslims and the works of this Imam cannot be compiled and narrated during such short gatherings. Brothers and Sisters, it is compulsorily important and indispensable that we inculcate the trend of reading so that we can gather much more of the life, works and contributions of our 
Aeimmah [as] not only to the muslims and shias in particular but to the general Humanity as well. This will illuminate our entire outlook and thus avail us a position to be with our Imam of the Time, Insha-allah.

Having seen this extremely brief account of the life Imam Jaffar as-Sadiq [a], which is much less than even five percent of the reported facts, we can very clearly conclude many things. First and foremost is that the dynamism that he created in the outlook of the followers of the Ahlul Bait [as], which became the basis of Ijtehad also, makes our religion a 'live' religion and very 
progressive exhorting us to be ahead of the times and serve humanity. The extensive sacrifices of the Imam also earned us our title of being called the 'Ja'faaris'.

We can also conclude that by acquiring in-depth knowledge of the various bounties of the Almighty, we can get closer to our Lord and understand HIM better, a duty of every believer, rather every human being.

Finally, we can see that Imam Sadiq [a] was one of the flowers of the gate of the city of knowledge, and given some peace, he managed to open more than 500 sciences for the benefit of humanity and for centuries to come. This reminds us that had Amirul Mu'mineen [as], the gate to the City of Knowledge had that peace in his time, how much this entire race of humans would have benefited; and if The Holy Prophet, the City of Knowledge himself, was not continuously engaged in battles and opposition, can we even imagine the state of the World today?

We collectively say, Ya Allah condemn and curse the first tyrant who unjustly and wrongfully usurped that which rightly belonged to Muhammad and his Progeny, and also curse those who after him, followed in his footsteps. May the Almighty's curse be on Abu Sufyan, Muawiya and Yezid ibne Muawiya for having tortured and killed and set the pace and precedence of the usurpation of the rights of the Holy prophet and his descendants.

Very often the Banu Abbas have been wrongly accredited that they were the pioneers of the Muslim awakening. The French scholars in their thesis have vehemently and emphatically denied this and have said that "the family of the Holy Prophet, who worked hard under very hostile conditions and made great sacrifices to bring about that golden age of knowledge".

"It is an irony of fate that blood thirsty Banu Abbas, who were never interested in knowledge, took the credit for the intellectual awakening of Muslims. The Standard of morality, knowledge and intelligence of that tribe can be judged by the heinous and horrid acts of savagery they perpetrated. They murdered in cold blood thousands of innocent muslims, men, women and children. They 
feasted merrily amid moaning and groaning of their guests, who they had invited and than cut into pieces. They accumulated wealth and were interested only in luxurious life, worldly pleasures and satisfaction of their carnal desires."[The Great Muslim Scientist & Philosopher - Imam Sadiq, French thesis, Page 12]

Both the clans of Banu Ummayya and Banu Abbas focused on strengthening their power base, wealth, luxury and sexual indecencies, under the banner of leading Muslims and in the process always felt threatened by the Family of the Holy Prophet (s), whose sole aim was spreading of knowledge to be able to worship the Almighty in absolute sincerity. These clans therefore hatched and executed various plans and plots of annihilation and destruction of the Ahlul Bait [a] and their followers. They both created milling machines of false ahadith, which crept into the annals of history vide their state sponsored cronies and in the process created terrorists, who were handsomely rewarded for their atrocities against the Ahlul Bait [a] and their Shias.

Mansur Dawanki, the third Abbasid Caliph in less than five years, could not bear the importance of Imam Sadiq [as] and was jealous and suspicious because of the Imam's sincere efforts in spreading knowledge. Mansur therefore poisoned the Imam and thus closed the Medina Academy.

 

 

 

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