Mohammad al-Baqir

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Mohammad al-Baqir
Native name
محمد بن علی بن حسین بن علی بن أبی طالب‎
BornRajab 1, 57/May 10, 677
Medinah, Hijaz
DiedDhu l-Hijja 7, 114/January 28, 733
Resting placeAl-Baqi' cemetery
Known for5th Imam of the Shia
Spouse(s)Umm Farwa, Umm Hakim
ChildrenJa'far, Ibrahim, 'Ali, 'Abd Allah, 'Ubayd Allah, Zaynab, Umm Salama
RelativesHussain ibn Ali (fatherly grandfather)

Mohammad B. Ali B. Hussain B. Ali B. Abi Taleb, known as Mohammad al-Baqir, is the fifth imam of the Twelver Shiʿites.

Lineage[edit | edit source]

Mohammad al-Baqir, the fifth imam of the Twelver Shiʿites was the son of Ali ibn Hussain. His mother was Omm ʿAbd-Allah Fatima, Hasan b. Ali’s daughter, who is described as a saintly woman.

Name and Epithets[edit | edit source]

His honorary name al-Baqir is commonly held to refer to his “splitting open knowledge (Baqir al-ʿelm),” signifying his erudition in the religious sciences. It was said that the Prophet Mohammad named him so when he predicted the birth of his great-great-grandson and charged the long-lived companion Jaber Ansari (d. 73/692) with conveying his salutations to him.

Birth and Death[edit | edit source]

According to most Shiʿite sources, he was born in Medina in 57/677 and died there in 114/732 at the age of 57. The preference for these dates seems to rest partly on the parallelism of 57. According to another Shiʿite report, he predicted correctly his death at 58 years, just as his ancestors Ali, Hussain, and Ali b. Hussain had all been killed, or died, at 58. According to Waqedi, he died in 117/735 and, according to Khalifa b. Khayyat, in 118/736[1] . These dates seem more likely since the reports about the rising of his brother Zayd in 120-22/738-40 suggest that he had died only recently so that the question of the succession was still open among his Kufan followers. The death date mentioned by Mas’udi[2] , 125-26/743-44, is definitely too late. Equally unacceptable is the birth date 44/664 implied by Waqedi, since his father is known to have been 23 years old at the battle of Karbala in 61/680. Other dates given for al-Baqir’s birth are 54/676 and 59/678-79.

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Most of his life he stayed in Medina. As an infant he was present at the battle of Karbala. According to Madaʾeni[3] , his father sent him and his brother ʿAbd-Allah together with the wife and family of Marwan b. Hakam to Taʾef just before the siege of Medina under Yazid in 63/683. This was done for the safety of his sons, who were still minor children, and of Marwan’s wife as is evident from the parallel report of Abu Mekhnaf[4] in which, however, only ʿAbd-Allah is mentioned not his brother, al-Baqir.

In Sunni Sources[edit | edit source]

Sunni and Shiʿite sources agree in describing him as an eminent religious scholar. Tabari quotes al-Baqir in his history frequently about details of the life of Mohammad and Ali and cites a detailed report of his about the events leading up to the death of Hussain at Karbala. He is invariably considered a trustworthy transmitter by the Sunni hadith experts. Nasaʾi mentions him as one of the early legal scholars (foqahaʾ) of Medina. Abu Dawud included a hadith transmitted by him in his Sonan. Numerous edifying sayings of his were narrated in Sufi circles.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

In Shiʿite tradition, al-Baqir appears as the inaugurator of the religious and legal teaching that was further elaborated by his son Jaʿfar al-Sadiq and formed the basis of Imami Shiʿism. Here he stood within the tradition of the radical wing of the Shiʿites, repudiating the caliphate of Abu Bakr, ʿOmar, and ʿOthman and endowing the Shia imams with supernatural qualities and knowledge. He shunned, however, revolutionary activity and espoused the principle of taqiya, precautionary dissimulation. He is quoted as stating: “Taqiya is part of my religion and the religion of my fathers. Whoever has no taqiya has no faith.” Al-Baqir’s views on legal and ritual questions are frequently quoted in Imami and Zaydi works. It is clear that some of the basic characteristics and specific rules of Twelver Shiʿite law, like the permission for the temporary marriage (motʿa) and the prohibition of the ritual wiping of the shoes (mash ʿala’l-ḵoffayn), go back to him. A commentary on the Koran attributed to al-Baqir was transmitted by his disciple Abu’l-Jarud Ziad b. Monder and is quoted frequently in the Tafsir of Ali b. Ebrahim Qomi. It reflects a strictly predestinarian theology[5] . Al-Baqir appears often as the author of apocalyptic prophecies, transmitted from him mostly by the Shiʿite traditionist Jaber Joʿfi. In spite of their Shiʿite character, such prophecies were taken over and transmitted by Sunni traditionists. Although some elements of this material may go back to al-Baqir, most of it consists of later elaborations posterior even to Jaber[6] . The Shiʿite biographical sources narrate numerous stories of a legendary character about al-Baqir’s debates with religious leaders and scholars like Tawus, Qatada b. Deʿama, Mohammad b. Monkader, Abu Hanifa, ʿAmr b. ʿObayd, Nafeʿ b. Azraq and his son ʿAbd-Allah b. Nafeʿ, whom he stunned by his religious learning. They ascribe many miracles to him, like his conversing with ring-turtledoves and a wolf, his answering questions of jinnis on religious law and his being served by a jinni, his being visited by Khezr and the prophet Elias, his restoring youth to the aged Habbaba Walebiya and giving temporary eyesight to the blind Abu’l-Basir, and his causing an earthquake by lightly moving a thread brought by the angel Gabriel from heaven. According to some anachronistic stories he died poisoned by the caliph ʿAbd-al-Malek (d. 86/705) with a poisoned saddle or by the caliph Ebrahim b. Walid (ruling in 127/745).

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Ebn Saʿd, V. pp. 235-38.
  • Balāḏorī, Ansāb al-ašrāf III, ed. ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz Dūrī, Beirut, 1398/1978, p. 116.
  • Yaʿqubī, Taʾrīḵ, pp. 365-66, 384-85.
  • Anonymous, Aḵbār al-dawla al-ʿabbāsīya, ed. ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz Dūrī and A. Moṭallebī, Beirut, 1971, p. 132, 169, 184-85, 204-05.
  • Nawbaḵtī, Feraq al-šī‌ʿa, ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1931, pp. 52-55 and index.
  • Ṭabarī, index s.v. Mohammad b. Ali b. al-Hussain. Abu Jaʿfar Mohammad Kolaynī, al-Oṣūl men al-kāfī, ed. Ali-Akbar Ḡaffārī, Tehran, 1388/1968-69, I, pp. 303-04, 469-72.
  • Aḡānī 1 I, p. 13; VIII, p. 43; XV, pp. 123, 126; XVI, p. 88; XX, p. 147.
  • Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Mohammad Mofīd, al-Eršād, ed. Kāẓem Mūsawī Mīāmavī, Tehran, 1377/1957-58, pp. 245-54, tr. I. K. A. Howard, London, 1981, pp. 393-407.
  • Abu Noʿaym Eṣfahānī, Ḥelyat al-awlīāʾ, Cairo, 1932-38, III, pp. 180-92.
  • Abu Ali Fażl b. Ḥasan Ṭabresī, Eʿlām al-warā be-aʿlam al-hodā, ed. Ali Akbar Ḡaffārī, Beirut, 1399/1979, pp. 259-65.
  • Abu’l-Faraj b. al-Jawzī, Ṣefat al-ṣafwa, Hyderabad, 1389/1969, II, pp. 60-63.
  • Ebn Ḵallekān (Beirut), IV, p. 174.
  • Erbelī, Kašf al-ḡomma fī maʿrefat al-aʾemma, Qom, 1381/1961, II, pp. 329-66.
  • Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Mohammad Ḏahabī, Sīār aʿlām al-nobalāʾ IV, ed. Maʾmūn Sāḡerjī, Beirut, 1401/1981, pp. 401-09.
  • Ṣalāḥ-al-Dīn Ḵalīl Ṣafadī, al-Wāfī be’l-wafayāt IV, ed. S. Dedering, Wiesbaden, 1394/1974, pp. 102-03.
  • Ebn Ḥajar ʿAsqalānī, Tahḏīb al-tahḏīb, Hyderabad, 1325-27/1907-09, IX, pp. 350-52.
  • Mohammad-Baqir Majlesī, Beḥār al-anwār, Tehran, 1376-1405/1956-85, XCVI, pp. 212-367.
  • Aʿyān al-šīʿa IV/2, pp. 3-28.
  • D. M. Donaldson, The Shiite Religion, London, 1933, pp. 112-19.
  • M. G. S. Hodgson, “How Did the Early Shiʿa Become Sectarian?” JAOS 75, 1955, pp. 10-13.
  • S. H. M. Jafri, Origins and Development of Shīʿa Islam, London, 1979, index s.v. Muḥammad al-Bāqir.

Source[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Taʾrikh Khalifa b. al-Khayyat, ed. A. Ḏ. ʿOmari, Beirut, 1397/1977, p. 349
  2. Morūj VI, p. 17
  3. Aḡani, p. 13
  4. Ṭabarī, II, pp. 410, 420
  5. see W. Madelung, “The Shiite and Khārijite Contribution to pre-Asḥʿarite Kalām,” in P. Morewedge, ed., Islamic Philosophical Theology, Albany, 1979, pp. 136-37 n. 51
  6. see Madelung, “The Sufyānī between Tradition and History,” Stud. Isl. 63, 1986, esp. pp. 10-11, 34-35