|c. 12 April 811 CE|
|Died||c. 27 November 835 (aged 24)|
(29 Dhul Qa`dah 220 AH)
Baghdad, Abbasid Empire
|Cause of death||Death by poisoning|
|Resting place||Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, Iraq|
|Other names||Muhammad at-Taqi|
|Term||819 – 835 CE|
Muhammad al-Jawād or Muhammad at-Taqī (Arabic: الإمام محمد التقي الجواد) (Rajab 10, 195 AH – Dhu al-Qi'dah 29, 220 AH; approximately April 8, 811 AD – November 24, 835 AD) was the ninth of the Twelve Imams of Twelver Shi'ism. His given name was Muhammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Mūsā, and among his titles, al-Taqī and al-Jawād are the most renowned. Muhammad al-Taqī was the shortest-lived of the Twelve Imāms, dying at the age of 25.
Birth and family life
Hakima, the sister of Ali ar Rida, is reported saying that on the night of al-Taqi’s birth her brother advised her to be present beside his wife. According to a tradition, al-Taqi at his birth looked at the sky and uttered confirmation of the Oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad and Walaya of Imam Ali.
He undertook the responsibility of Imamate at the age of eight years.
He was a child when his father was killed. He did not act upon childish or whimsical impulses and he accepted adult responsibility and behaviors at an early age. His possession of extraordinary knowledge at a young age is similar to that of the Islamic tradition of Jesus – a figure called to leadership and prophetic mission while still a child.
The story of Mamun al-Rashid's first meeting with Imam Muhammad Jawad (as) is interesting. Once Mamun was passing a street in Baghdad with his soldiers. When the other children saw the caliph, they ran away but Imam Jawad (as) did not.
Noting this, Mamun al-Rashid stopped his carriage and asked, "Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?"
Imam Jawad replied calmly, "For the following two reasons: Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked, and your horses may go around me."
Mamun al-Rashid was surprised with this mature reply and asked, "What is your name?"
"Muhammad," came the reply. "Whose son are you?" asked Mamun al-Rashid. "Son of Ali."
"Ali son of who?" said Mamun, "Son of Musa, son of Jafar, son of Muhammad, son of Ali, son of Husayn, brother of Hasan, son of Ali the cousin and successor to Muhammad the Messenger of God"
Mamun al-Rashid became even more surprised at the latter answer and rode on. During his hunt the hawk returned to him with a small fish in its beak. He returned toward the city. Once again, he found this young man who said he was Muhammad son of Imam Ali Ridha (as) who remained where he was left.
Mamun stopped his carriage near Imam Jawad (as) and said, "What does this hawk do for me?", then he changed his mind and hid the fish in his fist and said "No, instead tell me, what is there in my fist?"
Imam Jawad (as) replied, "Allah has created tiny fish in the river. The hawks of kings sometimes catch fish from there and bring it to the Kings. These kings hide it in their fist and ask a member of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, "Tell me what is there in my fist."
Mamun al-Rashid said, "Truly, you are the worthy son of Imam Ali Ridha (as). Mamun al-Rashid took the young Imam Jawad (as) with him, and let him live in a nearby house next to the Royal Palace.
Since Imam Muhammad Jawad inherited the responsibility of Imamate at a very small age, people became suspicious of his ability to lead the Muslim Ummah. To clear this misconception Yahya ibn Aktham who was serving as the Chief Justice of the Abbasid empire and was the most learned man of that time was called by Mamun al-Rashid to test his knowledge. Muhammad al-Taqi was asked a question concerning Islamic jurisprudence. The Imam was asked, "What is atonement for a person who hunts a game while he is dressed in the pilgrimage garb (‘Ahram)." Muhammad al-Taqi responded by saying, "Your question is utterly vague and lacks definition. You should first clarify : whether the game killed was outside the sanctified area or inside it; whether the hunter was aware of his sin or did so in ignorance; did he kill the game purposely or by mistake, was the hunter a slave or a free man, was he adult or minor, did he commit the sin for the first time or had he done so before, was the hunted game a bird or something else, was it a small animal or a big one, is the sinner sorry for the misdeed or does he insist on it, did he kill it secretly at night or openly during daylight, was he putting on the pilgrimage garb for Hajj or for the Umra? Unless you clarify and define these aspects, how can you have a definite answer?"
According to Twelver Shi’ah Islam, the Imams are perfectly able to give judgment on all matters of religious law and their judgment is always legally correct. To that end Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (as) like the other Imams of Ahl al-Bayt and the Prophets of Islam were born with extraordinary knowledge. To that end it is reported, that during his time in Baghdad he performed incredibly in a public debate with one of the leading scholars of the city, namely Yahya ibn Aktham, and publicly humiliated him.
Marriage and lifestyle during Abbasid rule
After Al-Ma'mun had poisoned Ali al-Ridha to death he endeavored to show that the death had come by a natural cause. Al-Ma'mun also brought al-Jawad (as) from Medina to Baghdad with the plan of marrying him to his daughter, Umul Fazal. Although the Abbasids made strenuous attempts to forestall it, the marriage was duly solemnised.
After living in Baghdad for eight years, al-Taqi and Umul Fazal returned to Medina. There he found his relationship with his wife strained and upon the death of al-Ma'mun in 833 his fortunes deteriorated. Since Umul Fazal did not have any issues (children) Imam Muhammad Jawad (as) married Soumaneh, who gave him a son and successor, Ali al-Hadi. The successor to his father-in-law, Mamun's caliphate, was Al-Mu'tasim. With the new Abbasid ruler in power al-Jawad (as) was no longer protected and his interests and position were imperilled by the dislike that al-Mu'tasim had for him.
In 835, al-Mu'tasim called al-Jawad back to Baghdad. The latter left his son Ali al-Hadi (the tenth Shi’ah Imam) with his mother Soumaneh in Medina and set out for Baghdad. He resided there for one more year, becoming a well known scholar and popular in debates.
There are various accounts of the circumstances of his death.
Muhammad at-Taqi is buried beside the grave of his grandfather Musa al-Kadhim (the seventh Shi’ah Imam) within Al Kadhimiya Mosque, in Kadhimayn, Iraq – a popular site for visitation and pilgrimage by Shi’a Muslims.