BIOGRAPHY OF IMAM MUSA ALKAZHIM (AS)

Name: Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.)

Mother : Hamidah

Kunniyat (Patronymic): Abu al-Hasan

Laqab (Title): Al-Kazim

Birth: He was born at Madina in the year 129 A.H.

Martyrdom : He was poisoned in the prison of Harun al-Rashid at Baghdad in the

year 183 A.H. He is buried in Kazimiyyah in Iraq.

BIOGRAPHY

The 7th Holy Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) was the son of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq

(a.s.), the Sixth Imam . The name of his mother was Hamidah , the daughter of a

noble man hailing from the States of Barbary.

Childhood

Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) passed twenty years of his sacred life under the

gracious patronage of his holy father . His inherent genius and gifted virtues

combined with the enlightened guidance and education from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq

(a.s.), showed in the manifestation of his future personality . He was fully versed

with the Divine Knowledge even in his childhood. al-`Allamah al-Majlisi(a.r.) relates

that once Abu Hanifah happened to call upon the holy abode of Imam Jafar as-

Sadiq(a.s.) to ask him about some religious matters ( masa'il ) . The Imam(a.s.)

was asleep and so he kept waiting outside till the Imam's(a.s.) awakening .

Meanwhile , Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) , who was then five years old , came out of

his house . Abu Hanifah , after offering him his best compliment , enquired: ``O the

son of the Holy Prophet ! what is your opinion about the deeds of a man ? Does he

do them by himself or does God make him do them ?'' ``O Abu Hanifah'' , the five

years old Imam(a.s.) replied at once , in the typical tone of his ancestors , ``the

doings of a man are confined to three possibilities . First , that God alone does

them while the man is quite helpless . Second , that both God and the man do

equally share the commitment . Third , that man does them alone . Now , if the

first assumption is true , it obviously proves the unjustness of God who punishes

His creatures for sins which they have not committed . And if the second condition

be acceptable , even then God becomes unjust if He punishes the man for the

crimes in which He is equally a partner . But the undesirability of both these

conditions is evident in the case of God . Thus , we are naturally left with the third

alternative to the problem that men are absolutely responsible for their own doing

.''

Imamate

The Holy Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.) breathed his last on 25th Shawwal 148 AH ,

and with effect from the same date Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) succeeded the holy

office of Immamate as the Seventh Imam . The priod of his Imamate continued for

thirty - five years . In the first decade of his Imamate , Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.)

could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of his sacred office and

carried on the propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) . But

soon after , he fell a victim to the ruling kings and a greater part of his life passed

in prison.

Political Condition

Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the

despotic `Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel

administration . He witnessed the reings of al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi , al-Mahdi and

Harun ar-Rashid . Al-Mansur and Harun ar-Rashid were the despotic kings who

put a multitude of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) to the sword

. Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into horrible

dark prisons during their lifetime . These depraved caliphs knew no pity or justice

and they killed and tortured for the plessure they derived from human

sufferings.The Holy Imam(a.s.) was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur because

the king , being occupied with his project of constructing the new city of Baghdad ,

could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam. By 157 AH the city of

Baghded was built . This was soon followed by the death of its founder a year later

. After al-Mansur , his son al-Mahdi ascended the throne . For a few years he

remained indifferent towards the Imam(a.s.) . When in 164 AH he came to Medina

and heard about the great reputation of the Imam , he could not resist his jealousy

and the spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahl-al-bayt(a.s.) was rekindled .

He somehow managed to take the Imam(a.s.) along with him to Baghdad and got

him imprisoned there . But after a year he realized his mistake and released the

Imam(a.s.) from jail . al-Mahdi was succeeded by al-Hadi who lived only for a

yaer . Now , in 170 AH , the most cruel and tyrannical king Harun ar-Rashid

appeared at the head of the `Abbasid Empire . It was during his reign that the Holy

Imam(a.s.) passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison till he was

poisoned. Harun had the Imam(a.s.) arrested in the Prophet's)pbuh&hf) mosque

whilst Imam was praying. He was handcuffed and shackled and sent to Basra.

Imam(a.s.) was put into prison under the custody of Isa bin Ja'fer. After a year Isa

wrote to Harun saying he could no longer imprison Imam(a.s.) as he could find

only piety and righteousness in him.

Harun had the Imam(a.s.) moved to Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi

who too became a follower of Imam(a.s.). The prisons were so small that there

was no room to stand and the food was a cup of water and two pieces of dry

bread a day. Imam(a.s.) remained patient. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of

Sindi bin Shahak (a very cruel man). Imam remained in prison for the last 19 years

of his life.

The 19 years of imprisonment gave the Shia population a little relief as the rulers

concentrated on Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from Arabia to Iran, India

etc. thus spreading Islam and it was one of the factors towards the popularity of

the 8th Imam.

Moral and Ethical Excellence

As regards his morality and ethical excellence , Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks :

``The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) was such .hat he

was given the title of al-Kazim ( one who swallows down his anger ) . He was the

embodiment of virtue and generosity . He devoted his nights to the prayers of God

and his days to fasting . He always forgave those who did wrong to him , His kind

and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and

help the poor and destitutes of Medina and provide for them cash , food , clothes

and other necessitities of sustenance secretly . It continued to be a riddle for the

receivers of gifts throughout the Imam's(a.s.) lifetime as to who their benefactor

was , but the secret was not revealed until after his death.

Literary Attainments

Time and circumstances did not premit Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s.) to establish

institutions to impart religious knowledge to his followers as his father , Imam

Jafar as-Sadiq(a.s.) and his grandfather , Imam Muhammad al-Baqir(a.s.) had

done . He was never allowed to address a congregation . He carried on his mission

of preaching and guiding people quietly.

Death

In 179 AH , Harun ar-Rashid visited Medina . The fire of malice and jealousy

against the Ahl-al-bayt(a.s.) was kindled in his heart when he saw the great

influence and popularity which the Holy Imam(a.s.) enjoyed amongst the people

there . He got the Imam(a.s.) arrested while he was busy in prayer at the tomb of

the Holy Prophet(pbuh&hf) and kept him in prison in Baghded for a period of about

four years . On the 25th Rajab 183 AH , he got the Imam(a.s.) martyred by poison

. Even his corpse was not spared humiliation and was taken out of the prison and

left on the Bridge of Baghdad . When Harun Rashid's brother Sulayman heard of

this he was furious and arranged for his burial in a Quraysh cemetery outside

Baghdad (the 8th Imam gave ghusl and kafan). A town grew around the tomb of

Imam called Kadhmain (meaning the two Kadhims) since the 9th Imam is also

buried there.