The 17th of Rabi al-Awwal, 1438 AH.

Saturday, December 17th, 2016, marks the birth anniversaries of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (p), 17th of Rabi al-Awwal, 1438 AH.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Name: Muhammad
Title: al-Mustafa; Rasul Allah
Kunya: Abu al-Qasim
Father: Abdullah ibn Abdul Mutallib
Mother: Amina bint Wahhab
Born: 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal, Year of the Elephant/570 CE in Makkah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula
Died: 28th Safar, 11 AH/632 CE
Age at Death: 63
Buried: Madinah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula

Meet Prophet Muhammad

“A man from our people has risen claiming that he is a messenger sent by God… He insults our gods and considers our ancestors to have been fools! He’s corrupted our young ones and created a divide in our community!”

These were the words of Utbah, a resident of Mecca, to a visiting tribal chief named As’ad.

“Who is he?” As’ad asked.

“He’s the son of Abdullah…someone ordinary in social status, but from a well-known family.”

“Where is he?” As’ad continued to inquire.

“There… But don’t listen to what he has to say, don’t even speak to him – for indeed, he is a sorcerer who will bewitch you with his words!”

After some contemplation, As’ad decided that he couldn’t go back to his people before finding the truth about this man.

As’ad proceeded toward the mysterious man and said, “Good morning”.

Muhammad, son of Abdullah, then raised his head and replied,

“God has replaced this greeting with an even better one – a greeting for the people of heaven: ‘May the Peace be upon you’…”

As’ad responded,

“Indeed, this is something new. What is it that you call for, oh Muhammad?”

Muhammad then said,

“To witness that there is no god except God, and that I am the Messenger of God.”[i]

The Call

Sixth century Arabian culture held the concepts of trust and valor in high regard. As a people, the Arabs were known for their eloquence and exceptional poetry. But the light of these shining qualities could not pierce through the layers of rust on many Arabian hearts. Incessant tribal warfare impeded civilized development… Widespread superstition curtailed intellectual growth… That age of ignorance even popularized the heinous act of burying baby girls alive![ii]

Muhammad was an orphan for most of his life, as his father passed away before he was born, and his mother died when he was five. Muhammad spent the remainder of his youth under the care of his grandfather and then his uncle.

Muhammad’s upright character distinguished him, even at an early age. He participated in tribal agreements which aimed at ensuring the welfare of the oppressed and defended such agreements throughout his life. Muhammad worked as a forbearing shepherd and then later as a successful merchant. He quickly became known as, “The Honest One” and “The Trustworthy One”.

Muhammad was also a man of deep reflection. If Muhammad could not be found at the workplace or at home, then he was likely busy in contemplation and worship on the mountain of Hira. He climbed up to a nearby cave and would spend hours, days, and even months at a time, pondering the Truth of existence. Muhammad witnessed the reality that God is the radiating Sun of Existence… Without the Light of God, everything in the heavens and the earth would simply be in darkness – utterly nonexistent.[iii]

One day, an angel appeared to Muhammad and said,

“Oh Muhammad, read…”

The unschooled Muhammad replied,

“And what should I read?”

The angel then revealed the first verses of what would become known as the Quran,

“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen; taught man what he did not know.”[iv]

Muhammad realized the grave responsibility that was on his shoulders. Under God’s command, he was to deliver the most complete prescription for success – the Divine Law by which God perfects the body, spirit and mind of humanity. This was the remedy to his society’s ailments and the good tidings of Mercy to the worlds.

Muhammad’s spiritual station as a prophet and messenger of God was aided by the rationality of his principles, his sublime character, and the miraculous nature of the newly revealed Qur’an. The eloquence, depth and grandeur of the Qur’an baffled the Arabian poets. The Arabs could not fathom how any man could produce such perfection – let alone a man with no formal education. As an interconnected reality of principles, the Qur’an would also remain a miracle available to every nation, for ages to come.[v]

The Struggle

For thirteen years, Prophet Muhammad called the people of Mecca to the principles which God had revealed: Oneness, Divine Guidance, and Judgment Day. He invited the world to Islam: the path of submitting oneself to the Truth. Prophet Muhammad prayed that people would follow God’s directives because they were founded in God’s Absolute Knowledge of what was best.  But in an idolatry-based economy, Oneness was bad for business. Moreover, blind loyalty to ancestors caused many Meccans to fight the changes Prophet Muhammad called for. Prophet Muhammad and his fellow Muslims were persecuted and attacked until God commanded that they migrate. They sought refuge in the city of Yathrib (which later became known as Medina, City of the Prophet).

In Medina, Prophet Muhammad was able to establish a society founded on the principles of Islam. It was a society based on kindness and justice, with every peaceful individual.[vi] Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived, as many groups forced the Muslims into defensive battles for several years. One benefit of these struggles, however, was that they eventually led the Muslims back to Mecca. The Prophet and his followers entered the city without any combat.[vii]

When the Muslim army entered Mecca, Prophet Muhammad told his former enemies,

“I say to you as my brother (Prophet) Joseph said (to his brothers):

‘There shall be no reproach on you today. God will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.’[viii][ix]

The Legacy

Before Prophet Muhammad left this world, he reminded people of the principle of Divine Leadership. He emphasized that the message of Islam would not be complete without the Divine appointment of a leader to preserve that message. Muhammad was the Seal of All Prophets, but the gateway of Imamah (Divinely appointed leadership) would remain open. Prophet Muhammad declared on numerous occasions that Ali, son of Abu Taleb, and eleven of his descendants were the Divinely selected Imams. These twelve Imams would live to preserve the Message, channel Divine Mercy to the worlds and guide seekers of Truth along the path.[x],[xi]

The legacy of Prophet Muhammad is one of Universal principle. Let us recall the account of Utbah and As’ad. If it were not for the insistence of As’ad to seek the truth, he may have been left in the dark about the guiding light of Muhammad. There may be many like Utbah in our day. Our challenge is to revive this legacy of principle in our daily lives. Prophet Muhammad continues to remind humanity with the eternal Word of God,

“So where are you going? It is just a reminder for all the nations; for those of you who wish to walk straight. But you do not wish unless it is wished by God, the Lord of all the Worlds.”[xii]


Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (p)

Name: Ja’far
Title: al-Sadiq
Kunya: Abu Abdullah; Abu Musa
Father: Muhammad ibn Ali (p)
Mother: Ummu Farwah
Born: 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal, 83 AH/702 CE in Madinah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula
Died: 25th Shawwal, 148 AH/765 CE, after being poisoned by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur
Age at Martyrdom: 63
Period of Imamate: 32 years
Buried: Jannat al-Baqi’, Madinah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula

The Truthful One

Imam al-Baqir, the fifth Imam, once said:


“…This is your Imam after me, so follow his example and benefit from his knowledge. By God, he is al-Sadiq (the Truthful One) – the one whom the Messenger of God (Prophet Muhammad) described to us (in prophecy). Indeed, his followers are aided (by God) in this world and in the Hereafter…”[xiii]


Imam al-Baqir was referring to the sixth immaculate Imam – Ja’far al-Sadiq. Under this Imam’s guidance, the Shia school became widely-known. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq also taught the teachers of various schools of thought which developed in later generations.


Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq lived in the transition period between the corrupt ‘Umayyad and the tyrannical Abbasid governments. The unique political circumstances at that time helped limit the extent of persecution which the Imam and his followers were subjected to. Thus, Imam al-Sadiq instructed the Shia to take advantage of the situation by increasing their educational and academic activities throughout the Muslim world.[xiv]


It was in recognition of this infallible Imam that the term Ja’fari refers to the Shia school of thought. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq used to tell his companions, “When the man among you is conscious in regard to his faith, is honest in his words, delivers the trusts (to their rightful owners), perfects his manners with people, it will be said, ‘He is Ja’fari (a follower of Ja’far),’ and that would bring joy to me. But if (the man among you) is (in a condition) other than this, his ordeal and disgrace would (falsely) become attributed to me, when it is said that, ‘these are the manners of Ja’far…’”[xv]


The Sixth Imam

During the sixth Imam’s time, various ideologies emerged. While some of these schools remained within the folds of Islam, others were blatantly at odds with core principles of the Islamic faith. But each school had the freedom to make its case and defend its ideas.


The Islamic university that had been developing during the fifth Imam’s days was now coming to complete fruition with Imam al-Sadiq’s guidance. This great school quickly became the hub of academic discourse for over four thousand students whose thirst for knowledge was quenched by none other than Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq. The sixth Imam’s lessons ranged from the sciences of Qur’an and Prophetic tradition to chemistry, as witnessed by his student and renowned chemist Jabir ibn Hayyan. [xvi], [xvii]


The famous Abu Hanifah, head of the Hanafi School in jurisprudence, used to say,

“I have not seen (anyone) more knowledgeable than Ja’far, son of Muhammad.”[xviii]

As another example, Malik, head of the Maliki School in jurisprudence once said:


“I used to frequent Ja’far, son of Muhammad, for a while – indeed, I did not see him except in one of (these) three conditions: either praying, fasting, or reciting Qur’an. I never saw him narrating on behalf of God’s Messenger (Prophet Muhammad) except in a state of (ritual) purity. He did not speak of that which did not concern him…No eye had seen, nor ear had heard, and no heart of mankind had thought of (someone) more virtuous than Ja’far, son of Muhammad, in knowledge, worship, and piety.”[xix]

Proof of the Creator

At one point, a man asked Imam al-Sadiq, “What is the proof that you have a Creator?” Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq responded with the following:


“I found myself subject to one of two options: either I created myself or something other than myself created me. If I created myself, I am also subject to one of two options: either I created myself while my self already existed – but then I would not need to create it since it already existed – or I created my self while I was nonexistent, but you already know that the nonexistent cannot bring about anything. Therefore, the third meaning is proven – that I have a Creator, Who is Lord of the Worlds.”[xx]


This argument leaves no other possible option if one assumes that being created is a given. Another man challenged that thought, however, and told the Imam, “I am not a created (being).”


Imam al-Sadiq said, “Then describe for me – if you were a created (being) – how would you be (what qualities describe a created being)?” The man thought for a while, and then paid attention to a piece of wood that was near him. “Long, wide, deep, short, moving, stationary…all of these are qualities of being created.”

Imam al-Sadiq then said:


“If you do not know (how to differentiate) qualities of the created (being) as opposed to the not (created being), then consider yourself created due to these things which you see coming about in your own self.”[xxi]


In other words, the descriptions of length after being short, of changing width and depth, of motion after stillness, all point to different states of being. Humans are subject to these changes all the time. The next state exists only after the previous one. Since change is taking place at every moment, all changing things are essentially being created continuously. Every instant, there is a new proof of us being created. iv

With the Corrupt Ruler

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq had a number of bold confrontations with the corrupt rulers of his day. The Imam stood up and spoke the words of truth without fear or hesitation. One day, the Abbasid ruler Mansur was in the presence of Imam al-Sadiq. Mansur had been shooing away a fly which kept bothering him. As the corrupt ruler became annoyed he asked the Imam, “…Why did God create the fly?” Imam al-Sadiq replied, “To humiliate the arrogant ones.”


Mansur remained silent because he knew that, had he spoken, Imam al-Sadiq would have responded with an even more critical statement.  But this same ruler chose to write to Imam al-Sadiq one day asking, “Why don’t you approach us as the people approach us?” The Holy Imam answered:


“There is nothing for which we fear you, nor do you have anything of the Hereafter that we would seek you for. Neither are you in a blessing such that we should congratulate you, nor do you see it as a burden such that we should send you our condolences. So what would we do at your place?”


Mansur wrote back, “You would accompany us to advise us.” Imam al-Sadiq’s response was decisive, “The one who wants this world would not advise you, and the one who wants the hereafter would not accompany you.”[xxii]


Mansur soon sought to relieve his worrisome thoughts about Imam al-Sadiq once and for all. The tyrant had the immaculate Imam poisoned in Madinah. On his deathbed, Imam al-Sadiq reminded his followers of an essential duty. The sixth Imam opened his eyes and looked into the faces of those around him saying,

“Indeed, our intercession does not extend to one who takes the prayers lightly.” With these words, Imam al-Sadiq emphasized the significance of prayer and its relation to the intercession of Divine Mercy. The sixth holy Imam was buried in the Baqi’ cemetery of Madinah.[xxiii]




[i] Pg. 51 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[ii] Pg. 38, 46, 68 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[iii] Pg. 319-320 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[iv] Quran 96:1-5

[v] Pg. 428-431 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[vi] Quran 60:8-9

[vii] Pg. 200 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[viii] Quran 12:92

[ix] Pg. 202 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[x] Pg. 238-240 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xi] Pg. 4-6 of Al-A’immah Al-Ithna Ashar by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xii] Quran 81:26-29

[xiii] Pg. 15, Vol. 47 of Bihar al-Anwar by ‘Allamah Majlisi

[xiv] Pg. 311 of Sirat al-A’immah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xv] Pg. 187, Vol. 1 of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar

[xvi] Pg. 313 of Sirat al-A’immah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xvii] Pg. 180, Vol. 1 of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar

[xviii] Pg. 308 of Sirat al-A’immah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xix] Pg. 309 of Sirat al-A’immah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani

[xx] Pg. 169, Vol. 1 of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar

[xxi] Pg. 170, Vol. 1 of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar

[xxii] Pg. 115, Vol. 1 of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar

[xxiii] Pg. 102, Vol. 1 of of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq by Sh. Muthaffar