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Muhammad al-Jawad


Muhammad al-Jawad

Muhammad al-Jawad
محمد التقي الجواد  (Arabic)

9th Imam of Twelver Shia Islam
Born c. (811-04-12)12 April 811 CE[1]
(10 Rajab 195 AH)
Medina, Abbasid Empire
Died c. 29 November 835(835-11-29) (aged 24)
(30 Dhul Qa`dah 220 AH)[2][3]
Baghdad, Abbasid Empire
Cause of death Death by poisoning according to most Shi'a Muslims.
Resting place Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, Iraq
Other names Muhammad al-Taqi
Term 819 – 835 CE
Predecessor Ali al-Ridha
Successor Ali al-Hadi
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Sumānah[4]
Children Ali al-Hadi
Musa al Mubarraqa
Hakimah Khātūn
Parent(s) Ali al-Ridha

Muhammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Mūsā (Arabic: محمد ابن علی ابن موسی ) sometimes called Abu Ja'far was known as al-Jawād (The generous) and al-Taqī (the pious).He was a descendant of Prophet Muhammad and the ninth Shia Imam after his father Ali al-Ridha and before his son Ali al-Hadi. After Ali al-Ridha's death, the Abbasid Caliph, al-Ma'mun, summoned al-Jawad to himself, and to keep him in Baghdad, he got his daughter to marry him. Later on, al-Jawad was allowed to return to Medina, where he devoted his life to teaching. After Al-Ma'mun's death, however, he was summoned to Baghdad again, and according to Shiite accounts was poisoned by his wife, the daughter of al-Ma'mun, at the instigation of the new caliph Al-Mu'tasim. Dying at the age of 25, he was the shortest-lived of the Twelve Imams.[5][6]

Quotations related to Muhammad al-Taqī al-Jawād at Wikiquote


  • Birth and early life 1
  • Al–Jawad 2
  • Early maturity and his Imamate 3
  • Marriage and lifestyle during Abbasid rule 4
  • Selected sayings 5
  • Death 6
  • Notes 7
  • See also 8
  • Footnotes 9
  • References 10
  • Timeline 11
  • External links 12

Birth and early life

Muhammad (ibn Ali) known as al-Jawad and al-Taqi was also called Ibn al-Ridha (the son of al-Ridha), though his father would call him with the name Abu Ja'far;. In order not to be confused with Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Imam, who was also called Abu Ja'far, historians have mentioned this Imam as Abu Ja'far the Second. He was born in Medina, and according to Kulaini, his mother was a bondmaid from Nubia whose name was Habibi. However, some say that she was Khaizaran, a girl from the Byzantine Empire, and some others believe she was of the household of Maria al-Qibtiyya who was the slave mother of Muhammad's little son Ibrahim.[5][7]

Al-Jawad's father, Ali al-Ridha, used to tell his companions that he expected a son who would take the position of Imamate after him. However, it took Shiites a long time before they could see the mentioned son with their own eyes. He was only four years old when his father left him behind in Medina to respond al-Ma'mun's summon who asked him to go there and be his successor. The Shiites could not help asking whether a child at that age could take on such a responsibility if something happened to Imam Ali al-Ridha; and al-Ridha used to illustrate the story of Jesus who had become a prophet at a younger age.[8]


Muhammad al-Jawad was called al-Jawad (the generous) due to his benevolence to people. It is said that even in his early life when his father was away in Khorasan (Iran), his companions used to make him leave his house through a gate where he would not be bothered by those who used to gather at his door in the hope of being helped. It is said that upon hearing this his father, Ali al-Ridha, wrote a letter to him from Khorasan advising him not to listen to those who would tell him not to enter and leave (the house) through the main gate, explaining that it was because of their stinginess in that they feared someone may receive some goodness (alms) from him, "Whenever you want to go out, keep some gold and silver with you. No one should ask you for anything without your giving it to him. If one of your uncles asks you to be pious to him, do not give him less than fifty dinars, and you may give him more if you want. If one of your aunts asks you, do not give her less than twenty-five dinars, and you may give her more if you want...." wrote Ali al-Ridha.[9]

Early maturity and his Imamate

Muhammad al-Jawad, who was also called al-Taqi, (meaning "the Pious") was nine years of age (some say seven) at the time of his father's death in Korasan (Iran), however, he did not act upon childish impulses. His possession of extraordinary knowledge at a young age is said to be similar to that of the Islamic tradition of Jesus who was called to leadership and his prophetic mission while still a child.[1][7]

The Shiite account of al-Ma'mun's first meeting with Muhammad al-Jawad is interesting. Once when al-Ma'mun was out hunting with his hunting birds he passed through a road where boys were playing. Among them was Muhammad al-Jawad. When al-Ma'mun's horsemen approached the boys ran away except al-Jawad who remained there. Noting this al-Ma'mun stopped his carriage and asked, "Boy, what kept you from running away with the others?" Al-Jawad replied, "The road was not so narrow that I should fear there would not be room for you to pass, and I have not been guilty of any offence that I should be afraid, and I considered that you were the sort of man who would not injure one who had done no wrong." The Caliph was very delighted, after he had gone on a short distance one of his hunting birds brought him a small fish, which he hid in his fist and returned and asked the boy, who was still standing there "What have I in my hand?" The young Imam answered that the "The creator of living things has created in the sea a small fish that is fished by the falcons of the kings and caliphs to try with it the progeny of al-Mustafa.[7][10] Al-Ma'mun was much pleased and asked the child about his lineage, to which Imam al-Jawad responded accordingly. It was soon after this that the Caliph called together a great gathering in which all kinds of questions were asked from the young Imam, who astonished them all with his judgment and learning. After which al-Ma'mun declared formally that he gave him his daughter in marriage thereby.[7]

It is said that Yahya ibn Aktham, the Chief Justice of the Abbasid empire, who was also present at al-Ma'mun's assembly, was ready to try the Imam in presence of al-Ma'mun by asking a question concerning the atonement for a person who hunts a game while he was dressed in the pilgrimage garb (Ihram), to which the young Imam responded by asking first:"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 on purpose 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 Umrah?..." which astonished Abbasid who were critical of al-Ma'mun who wanted to marry his daughter to al-Jawad.[7][11]

Another assembly was held in Medina when a number of prominent men (who took account of al-Jawad's youth and were in doubt as to whether he was really the Imam) from all over the Islamic world came to the annual pilgrimage; and it is said that they were so impressed with him that their doubts were eliminated. Kulaini narrates that the superintendent of the Shrine gave him a test that "lasted for several days, in which he answered thirty thousand questions to their great amazement!"[7]

Marriage and lifestyle during Abbasid rule

According to Shiite traditions, after al-Ma'mun poisoned Ali al-Ridha,[12] he summoned his son, al-Jawad, from Medina to Baghdad in order to marry his daughter, Ummul Fadhl in spite of the Abbasid's strenuous attempts to forestall it. According to Ya'qubi he bestowed upon the bridgroom, one hundred thousand Dirham , and said, "Surely I would like to be a grandfather in the line of the Apostle of God and of Ali ibn Abu Talib."[7] However, the next Imam Ali al-Hadi was not the son of Ummul Fadhl, the daughter of Ma'mun, but was born from a slave girl named Sumaneh,[4] who was originally a Berber (from the Maghreb i.e. Northwest Africa). Nevertheless, al-Ma'mun showed his continued interest and regard for the Shiites and the young Imam would come to the Ma'mun's palace for conversation with the learned men he would meet there from time to time.[7][10]

After living in Baghdad for eight years, al-Jawad along with Umul Fadhl 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) Muhammad al-Jawad married a slave girl who gave him a son and successor, Ali al-Hadi. Ummul Fadhl remained spiteful towards al-Jawad until she assassinated him with poison, as some historians say.[13] The successor to his father-in-law was Al-Mu'tasim who imperiled al-Jawad's position with the dislike he had for the young Imam. In 835 the Caliph called him back to Baghdad. The latter left his son Ali al-Hadi (the tenth Shiite Imam) with his mother Soumaneh and set out for Baghdad, where he resided for one more year before he died.[13]

Selected sayings

  • "Turning to God with the deep of the heart is much better than tiring the organs."[14]
  • "Do not anticipate matters before their time that you may regret. Do not live just with wishes that your hearts may be hard. Be merciful to the weak and ask for mercy from God by being merciful yourselves!"[14]
  • "Knowledgeable persons are strangers because of the many ignorant people around them."[14]
  • "Do not make an enemy of anyone until you know what there is between him and God! If he is good, God will not leave him to you, and if he is bad, then your knowing of his badness will make you safe from him and so you do not need to make him your enemy."[14]
  • "Man's death by sins is more than his death by fate and his life by charity is more than his life by age."[14]
answer to hussein ibn bashar's letter about marriage
  • "If the ignorant keep silent, people will not disagree."[14]
  • "People are brothers. The brotherhood that is not in the way of Allah turns into enmity, for Allah says, Friends on that day will be foes one to another, save those who kept their duty[2] (to God)."[14]
  • "Showing something before it becomes complete spoils that thing."[14]
  • "The blessing that is not thanked becomes a sin that is not forgiven."[14]
  • "He, who does not know the entries, the exits will fail him."[14]
  • "Trusting in God is a price to every dear thing and a ladder to every high thing."[14]


After marriage with al-Ma'mun's daughter, al-Jawad was allowed to return to Medina with his wife. His married life, however, is said to have been unhappy as the manner of his wife was not favorable. In order to create enmity against him she used to write to her father disapproving letters about her husband saying that he associated with slave girls. Nevertheless, al-Ma'mun did not heed her complaints declaring that if she ever came to see him again with complaints against her husband, he would refuse to see her.[7] The Imam al-Jawad, therefore, was not arrested or harassed during the rule of Ma'mun. After the death of Ma'mun, his brother, Al-Mu'tasim, sent for the Imam to come to Baghdad. This was in the beginning of the year in which the Imam died.[7] There are various accounts of the circumstances of his death. According to Ibn Sheher Ashoob it was al-Mu'tasim who encouraged al-Ma'mun's daughter, Umul Fazal, to poison him. He died, thus, in the year 220/835 and was buried beside the grave of his grandfather Musa al-Kadhim (the seventh Shitte Shi’ah Imam) within Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, in Kadhimayn, Iraq– a popular site for visitation and pilgrimage by Shiite Muslims.[7][15]


  1. ^ Quran, 5:110
  2. ^ Quran, 43:67

See also


  1. ^ Shabbar, S.M.R. (1997). Story of the Holy Ka’aba. Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. p. 145. 
  3. ^ a b c Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, p. 31
  4. ^ a b A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. p. 151. 
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Ansariyan Publications. p. 146. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Donaldson, Dwight M. (1933). The Shi'ite Religion: A History of Islam in Persia and Irak. BURLEIGH PRESS. pp. 190–197. 
  8. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, p. 53
  9. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, p. 52
  10. ^ a b Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, p. 206
  11. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, pp. 210–212
  12. ^  
  13. ^ a b Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, p. 221
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, pp. 116–124
  15. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi 2005, pp. 230–232


  • Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir (2005). The Life of Imam Muhammad Al-Jawad. Translated by Abdullah al-Shahin. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 


Muhammad al-Jawad
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 10th Rajab 195 AH 8 April 811 CE Died: 29th Dhul Qi‘dah 220 AH 24 November 835 CE
Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Ali al-Ridha
9th Imam of Twelver Shi'a Islam
Succeeded by
Ali al-Hadi

External links

  • The Life of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad
  • The Ninth Imam
  • Imam al-Jawwad
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