Birth and Imamate
Imam Muhammad Baqir (pbuh) was born in the 57th year of the Hijra, on Friday the first day of the month of Rajab, in the city of Medina. His honored father is Imam Sajjad (pbuh) and his revered mother, Fatima, daughter of Imam Hasan (pbuh). He was the only Imam who was Alawiite from both the side of the Mother and the Father. Imam Sajjad (pbuh), according to the command of Allah and the decree of the Prophet (pbuh), appointed his son, Imam Muhammad Baqir (pbuh), to Imamate and leadership of the people in the 95 A.H. He remained Imamfor the rest of his life until 114 A.H. and the total period of his Imamate is 19 years. Allama Hajr Makki writes in Sawa’eq-e-Moharaqa (Page 120) that He was the true copy of his father Imam Sajjad (pbuh) in knowledge, piousness and prayers & supplications.
Meaning of Baqir
Baqir is a derivate of the word “Baqara” which means to open up or to expand. Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) was named as such since he introduced and spread the knowledge and teachings of various dimensions and implemented the knowledge streams in a manner which had never been seen earlier. Allama Noor Allah Shostri says in Majalis-al-Momineen (Page 117) that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said that Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) will introduce, spread and open up knowledge just like the ground is opened up for cultivation. Imam MuhammadBaqir (pbuh) instructed people in percepts of religion, taught exegesis of Quran, taught them the ethics of life, and used to strive very hard to educate culture and guide the people. During the course of his life, he taught the people thousands of theological and religious principles, as well as scientific subjects, and his teachings have been handled down to us.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (pbuh), like the other Imams, in knowledge and science had no equal. Great learned men benefited from his knowledge and science and used to ask him to solve their problems.
Karbala Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) was about two and a half years old when he had to accompany ImamHosein (pbuh) and the rest of his family members on the journey to Karbala. After the tiring journey from Medina to Karbala, he witnessed the shocking and tragic events ofKarbala and then the heart-rupturing events inSyria and Iraq. After one year of detention in Damascus he returned in 62 A.H. to Medina when he was 4 years.
His traditions and students
During the Imamate of the Imam Baqir, as a result of the injustice of the Umayyads, revolts and wars broke out in some corner of the Islamic world every day. Moreover, there were disputes within the Umayyad family itself which kept the caliphate busy and to a certain extent left the members of the Household of the Prophet alone. From the other side, the tragedy of Karbala and the oppression suffered by the Household of the Prophet , of which the Fourth Imam was the most noteworthy embodiment , had attracted many Muslims to the Imam. These factors combined to make it possible for people and especially the Shiites to go in great numbers toMedina and to come into the presence of the Imam. Possibilities for disseminating the truth about Islam and the sciences of the Household of the Prophet, which had never existed for the Imams before him, were presented by Imam Baqir. The proof of this fact is the innumerable traditions recounted from the Fifth Imam and the large number of illustrious men of science and Shiite scholars who were trained by him in different Islamic sciences. These names are listed in books of biographies of famous men in Islam.
Meeting with Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari
It is a proven fact that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had informed about the birth of Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) about 64 years before his birth. Sheikh Saduq states in his book Amali (page 353) – Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) narrates that one day Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said to Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari “you will stay alive until you meet my son Mohammad bin Ali bin Hosein bin Ali bin Abi Talib (pbuh)who is mentioned in the Torah as Baqir. Give him my salutation (salam) when you meet him”. One day when Jabir visited Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (pbuh), he saw the young boy sitting next to the Imam (pbuh). He addressed the young boy and asked him to come closer and show his back. Then he proclaimed that by God, that young boy had the features and traits of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Then he asked Imam Sajjad (pbuh) who the young boy was and Imam (pbuh) replied that he was his son and the successor to the Imamate and his name was Mohammad Baqir (pbuh). Hearing this, Jabir rose up and kissed the young Imam and said “Son of Prophet (pbuh), may I be taken ransom for you, accept the salutation (salam) of Prophet (pbuh). He asked me to convey it to you”. Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) states that his father burst into tears on hearing this and said “Jabir my salutation to my grand father until this sky and earth survives. You conveyed the salam of my grandfather to me so I convey my salam to you as well”.
Imam Mohammad Baqir and Abu Hanifa
The founder of the Hanafi School of thought, Imam Abu Hanifa was a disciple and student of Imam MohammadBaqir (pbuh) for a long period. He used to study fiqh and ilm-e-hadees and other branches of knowledge from theImam (pbuh) and both Shiite and Sunni scholars agree that most of his knowledge was derived and obtained fromImam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh). Allama Shabrawi Shafaee writes that on several occasions Imam Mohammad Baqir(pbuh) tested Abu Hanifa on matters of fiqh and Abu Hanifa could not answer them and then Imam Baqir (pbuh) explained the reasoning and logics to him.
Abu Hanifa was also an associate of his son Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) and benefited a lot from his knowledge as well.
His Death and burial
In 100 A.H., Hasham bin Abdul Malik became the Caliph. He was a known enemy of the Ahle Bait (pbuh) and he did not waste any opportunity to bring hardship to the Ahle Bait (pbuh). Allame Majlisi writes that during the last days of his caliphate, Hasham came toMecca for Hajj. Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) and his son Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) were also present. Hasham was informed that Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) delivered a sermon among the Hajis that he and his father were the Allah”s vicegerent and His command on earth and whoever was their friend and well wisher will go to heaven and whoever is their enemy will be destined to hell. This infuriated Hasham and when he reached Damasacus, he ordered the governor ofMedina, Ibrahim bin Walid to send the two Imams (pbuh) to his court. Hasham had planned to malign the Imams in his court but the Imams (pbuh) overturned his plans which further ignited his enmity and he ordered the Imams (pbuh) to be jailed. While in the jail, Imam MohammadBaqir (pbuh) gave sermons to the other prisoners which created an atmosphere of great enthusiasm and devotion towards the Imam (pbuh) and against Hasham and sensing the gravity of the situations and the risk of a revolt, Hasham ordered the release of the Imam (pbuh). He then ordered the governor of Medina that Imam MohammadBaqir (pbuh) should be poisoned as he is becoming a constant threat (Jala-ul-Ayoon Page 262). The governor ofMedina – Ibrahim bin Walid carried out the orders and poisoned the Imam (pbuh) in 114 A.H.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (pbuh), lived in this world for a period of 57 years, and in the 114th year of the Hijra, on the seventh day of the month of Zil-Hijjah, in Medina he left this world. His body was buried in Baqi cemetry alongside the graves of Imam Hasan (pbuh) and Imam Sajjad (pbuh) inMedina.
His last will and instructions
Before his martyrdom, Imam Mohammad Baqir (pbuh) instructed his son Imam Jafer Sadiq (pbuh) about several issues and said to him that he is hearing the voice of his father who is calling him (Noor ul Absar Page 131). He gave special instructions for his kafan and burial since only an Imam can say the prayers of an Imam (Shawahi-un-Nabowah page 181). Allama Majlisi states that in his will, he also mentioned that 800 Dirhams should be spent on his mourning and arrangement should be made thatthe Hajj pilgrims would commemorate his martyrdom inMedina for the next 10 years. scholars also mention that in his will, the Imam (pbuh) also mentioned that his kafan should be opened after his burial and his grave should not be higher that 4 fingers.