(Excerpted from Dr. Syed Haider Hussain
The Lives of the Twelve Imams of Ahle-Bait "
(available for online reading in the Book
Section of this website.)
THE TIMES AND LIFE
OF IMAM MUHAMMAD TAQI
Muhammad (Taqi) was
only about five years of age when his father,
Imam Ali Raza (a) was called away from Madinah
by the caliph Mamoon Rashid, never to return
home alive. He was only eight years of age when
he received the sad news of the martyrdom of his
father at the hands of the Caliph.
Although, by having
Imam Ali Raza killed, Mamoon was able to win
back the confidence of his Abbasid kinsmen, he
lost his trust among the followers of the Imam.
He succeeded to play his cards again, and
summoned the young Imam Muhammad Taqi to Baghdad
but he did not see the youth for a long period
The Imam's first
contact with the caliph:
Once, on his way to a
hunting trip, Mamoon passed through that part of
the city where the young Imam was staying. He
saw some children playing in the street with his
peers. When they saw the callph's entourage,
all but the Imam ran away. The caliph
approached the Imam and asked Imam why he was
not one of those who had run away from there.
The Imam was cool in his demeanor. He said that
the street was wide, and that he was not making
it any narrower; and that he had not committed
any crime for which he would be afraid; and that
he believed that the caliph would take the path
of justice and not harm an innocent bystander.
The reply impressed
the caliph. He asked the Imam who he was. When
the Imam told him who he was, the caliph felt
ashamed. He suddenly remembered having sent for
him but not having granted him audience for such
a long time.
Imam's Second contact with the caliph:
On his way back from the
hunting trip, the caliph hid a fish in his hands
and asked the Imam what he was carrying. The
Imam said that his hawk flew in the skies, but
found his prey in the waters. He had a fish in
his hand and was now testing the Imam for his
knowledge. The caliph was dumb founded at both
these encounters with the Imam and took him
along with him to his palace.
He declared his
intentions to his kinsmen that he was so
impressed with the child. He decided to give
his daughter Umme Fadhl in marriage to him.
They were unhappy at the possibility of
repetition of the story of his father Imam Ali
Raza. Mamon said that the youth was no ordinary
person and that they all had already seen his
courage, knowledge and mannerism which was no
match with any one of them. In order to obtain
an upper hand over Mamoon's decision, they
proposed that a contest be held with the chief
Kadhi Yahya bin Aktham.
Imam's Contest with the Chief Kadhi of Baghdad:
In the contest, Yahya
bin Aktham asked the Imam on the penalty for man
who hunted while in ahram, (the state of purity,
also applied to a body wrap of white cloth used
by the pilgrims). The Imam said that his
question was incomplete and that he should
complete it before the correct answer could be
given. Yahya requested that the Imam complete
the question for him. The Imam asked:
(i) Was the hunting
done within the holy precinct or outside it?
(ii) Was the hunter
aware of the religious law concerning the hunt?
(iii) Was the hunting
done with intention or was it an accident?
(iv) Was the hunter
a free man or a slave?
(v) Was the hunter
of age or was he under-age in the religious law?
(vi) Was the hunting
done for the first time or was a repeated act?
(vii) Was the prey a
bird or was it some other animal?
(viii) Was the prey
young of age or was it of an age allowed for
(ix) Was the hunter
repentant on his act or was he defiant?
(x) Was the hunting
done at night or was it an act of the day?
(xi) Was the ahram
for Haj or was it for Umra?
The Imam then further
elaborated the significance of these
circumstances concerning the question to qualify
for an appropriate answer! They all were
flabbergasted at the details offered by the
Imam, and accepted his completion of the
question, followed by his answer. Mamoon was
very pleased to see his own arrogant kinsmen
being beaten in the contest.
Mamoon then asked the
Imam to pose his question. Even before the Imam
could pose his question, Yahya apologized. He
said that he would try to answer Imarn's
question, but if he could not find an answer, he
would have to ask the Imam to answer it himself.
The Imam asked, on
what four conditions would one woman be legal
and illegal for marriage for the same
individual. Neither Yahya nor any one else in
the audience had any answer to this question.
The Imam then detailed the four conditions
concerning his question and made the puzzle seem
easy to solve:
was a slave-girl of another man, so it was
illegal for this man. When he paid her price to
her master, she became legal for him;
he freed her she was no longer legal for him.
However he got married to her, and thus she
became legal for him. (iii) He reckoned her like
his mother, making her illegal for him again,
but on paying the penalty for such an act, she
became legal for him again. (iv) He then
divorced her, making her illegal for him, but
before saying the third talaq, they made up
again, making her legal again.
They acknowledged the
uncommon depth of the Imam's knowledge, and
agreed on Mamoon's decision to give his daughter
in marriage to the Imam. Mamoon offered the
Imam to stay in Baghdad and be declared his
successor, but the Imam declined to have any
thing to do with the heirship to the caliphate,
or on staying in the palace in Baghdad. He
requested the Caliph to allow him to return home
to Madinah. Mamoon did not force the Imam to
stay, and allowed him to leave with his wife.
Umme Fadhl was a
princess. She had lived a life of luxury. She
had no concept of what her life style would be
in Madinah with material deprivation compared
with the luxury of her father's palace. She was
miserable and made it no secret to the Imam.
She wrote letters to her father complaining
bitterly about her predicament, but he took no
Furthemiore, there was
no progeny issued from this relationship. When
the Imam manied Sumana Khatoon, the jealousy of
Umme Fadhl reached its heights, but her father
still did nothing.
Mamoon died in 218 AH,
and his brother Muítasim Billah succeeded to the
throne. Umme Fadhl started writing letters to
her uncle, the new caliph in Baghdad to get her
back to Baghdad. Since the Abbasids were no
friends of the Alyds, and with the constant
complaints of Umme Fadhl, the Imam was summoned
to Baghdad and put in jail. Finally,he was
given poison in jail and killed in 220 AH at the
young age of only twenty-five years.
The Imam appointed his
son Ali Naqi al-Hadi to follow him as the next
Imam before he left for his second and last trip
to Baghdad. Ali Naqi al-hadi was also only
eight years of age when he was appointed to the
position of leadership of Islam.
THE LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD al-TAQI
The Imam was deprived
the patronage of his father at a tender age of
five, and when he learnt of his martyrdom he was
only eight years of age. He was the youngest
Imam who was also killed at the youngest age
compared with the others. He was only
twenty-five years when he was killed by
As detailed above, the Imam,
at a very young age demonstrated unusual
courage, knowledge and presence of mind in the
circle of his aristocratic adversaries in the
court of Marnoon ar-Rashid. In addition to the
constant pressures from the government, he had a
considerable trouble at home from his wife, the
Abbasid princess. Despite these difficulties,
the Imam made his lasting impression with
examples of exceptional tolerance, superior
conduct, and advice to his followers and many
1. Bolster your
conduct with forbearance, be content during
deprivation, refrain from lust, and
antagonize temptation. Remember that you are
neither far nor hidden from your Lord.
2. Refrain from
friendship of the mischievous, for his likeness
is that of a sharp dagger: beautiful to behold
but deadly in action.
3 . Do not show
animosity to someone until you have assessed
his, relationship with the Lord, for if the
person is good, the Lord will not hand him over
to you; and if he is bad, then suffice it for
him that you do not be his enemy.
4. Make early
an amendment of a matter before it deteriorates,
for then you would repent. Beware, lest years
add to your life and your heart hardens.
5 . Do not
pretend to be a friend of the Lord in the open
while you have doubts about Him in your heart.
6. Be thankful to
the Lord for what He has granted you, lest you
desire for something that would drag you towards
7. Do not delay in
repentance, for the delay in doing so is
equivalent to defiance.
Offering excuses to
justify a bad deed would make you lose fear of
the Lord and invoke His anger.
1. Dependence on the
Gracious Lord is the true value in all the
precious things and in all heights of
2. The respect of a
believer is in his independence from others.
3. All believers
need three things:
(i) Help from the
(iii) Ability to
listen to good advice given by others.
4. Obedience and
remembrance of the Lord from the depths of your
heart is superior to the toils of rituals.
5. How can that
(thing) go waste whose guarantor is the Lord,
and how can that (person) escape who is sought
by the Lord. One who sells himself to other
(deity) than the Lord, the Lord relinquishes
that to his chosen deity.
6. One who falls for
his desires, fulfills the alms of his sworn
enemy (Satan), and cannot escape from
7. One who takes an
action without prior knowledge, could do more
damage than good.
8. The tyranny of
the rulers forestalls their downfall.
9. When the hour
(i.e. death) comes, the environs tend to shrink.
10. There is no
additional danger in the anger of the tyrant.