SHAFAQNA- How did Imam Sajjad (AS) keep the message of Islam alive during the difficult times after his father’s martyrdom?
After the Ashura event, the Shia were in the worst condition in terms of quantity and quality, as well as their political and religious situation. Imam Sajjad (AS) accepted the leadership secretly and with intense dissimulation and in a difficult time. The strategies of Imam Sajjad (AS) to preserve and strengthen the school of Ahlul-Bayt (AS) in this very difficult time can be summarized in a few headings: keeping the memory of Ashura alive, dissimulation, spreading knowledge through prayer, training students, training slaves and then releasing them. Recounting of about three hundred narrations from him in The Four Books and works such as Treatise of Right and Sahar Dua and Ziyarat of Aminullah, and most importantly, the valuable collection of “Al-Sahifah Al-Sajjadiyyah“, indicate the extent of the cultural activities of the Fourth Shia Imam (AS).
Shia Islam After Ashura
Imam Sajjad (AS) held the position of leadership for 34 years from the Muharram of 61 Hijri, when his father was martyred, to the Muharram of 95, when he died (1). In these years, the Islamic society was involved in various political, moral and social crises.
After Ashura event, the Shias were in the worst condition in terms of quantity and quality, as well as political and religious situation. Kufa, which was the center of Shia orientations, became a center for the suppression of Shia.
A number of Ahlul-Bayt (AS) Shia were martyred in Karbala and those who remained did not have the courage to express themselves. In such a situation, when it was assumed that the Shia could no longer survive, and the destruction of the basis of Shiism was supposed, Imam Sajjad (AS) should have begun the things from scratch and motivated people towards Ahlul-Bayt (AS).
Imam Sajjad (AS) revitalized Shia Islam
In this way, Imam achieved great successes and was able to revitalize Shia Islam (2) and even during this period, Shia Islam entered Iran and with the spread of Shiism in Qom, this city gradually became the first base of Shiism in Iran. (3)
Most of the events in this period of time were more political than intellectual; Because the severe pressure of a rulers like Hajjaj bin Yusuf Thaqfi (who was the absolute ruler of Iraq and Hejaz of Iran from 75 to 95) and the military conflicts of Al-Zubayr and Bani Umayya and the consequences of the Ashura event, had destroyed the opportunity for ideas and intellectual currents to emerge.
Political and intellectual movements
The most important political and intellectual currents in this era were: the movement of people of Medina led by Abdullah bin Hanzala, which led to the Harrah insurrection in 63 H and was severely suppressed by the army sent from Syria; (4) Tawabin who revolted in 65 H under the leadership of Suleiman bin Sard; Mukhtar and his followers who rose up in 66 H for the revenge of Imam Hussain (AS) and were killed in 67 H; (5) the religious-intellectual movement of people who believed in the leadership of Muhammad bin Hanafiyah after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.); (6) and Al-Zubayr, who claimed the caliphate after Karbala event and gained control over Hijaz, Iraq and other parts of Islamic lands.
In their enmity with Ahlul-Bayt (AS), they were not on a par with Umayyads. (7) But the most important of all, were the Umayyads, who, although in order to reduce the disgrace caused by the crimes of Karbala and also due to the commitment of Imam Sajjad (AS) to dissimulation, they would harm him less. But they did not put aside the enmity with Ahl al-Bayt (AS), and they even continued cursing of Imam Ali (AS), which was established by Muawiyah. The contents of many remaining prayers of Imam Sajjad (AS) are considered a kind of response and confrontation with this intellectual-political trend. (8)
Strategies of Imam Sajjad (AS) to preserve the school of Ahlul-Bayt (AS)
The strategies of Imam Sajjad (AS) to preserve and strengthen the school of Ahlul-Bayt (AS) in this very difficult time can be summarized in several headings: Keeping alive the memory of Ashura, dissimulation, spreading knowledge through prayer, training students, training slaves, and then releasing them.
Imam Sajjad (AS), by narrating the event of Ashura and constantly crying over these sufferers, did not let the oppression and crimes of the Umayyads be forgotten, and thus, he was the perpetuator of that bloody insurrection, and at the same time, he kept dissimulation.
According to Masoudi, Imam Sajjad (AS) began the leadership secretly and with intense dissimulation and in a difficult situation. (9) The fact that he refrained from direct involvement in Mukhtar insurrection and showed himself to be neutral in this event, and that he did not interfere in the event of the Harrah insurrection, and his position in other similar events, all were due to his dissimulation. The fact that he was able to survive safely during the attack of the Umayyad army on Medina and during the suffocating period of Al-Zubayr’s rule over Hejaz and during the difficult and terrible rule of Hajjaj bin Yusuf Thaqafi over this region, was also due to his dissimulation.
But Imam’s dissimulation did not mean silence and inattention to the guidance of people. The recounting of about three hundred narrations from him in the Four Books and works such as Treatise of Rights and Sahar Dua and Ziyarat of Aminullah, and most importantly, the valuable collection “Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah“, indicate the extent of cultural activities of the Fourth Shia Imam (AS). Examining the content of such texts and especially Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah shows that Imam Sajjad (AS) wrote the best training program to face the political, social and moral corruption that had spread to the Islamic society due to the rule of the Umayyad domination, in the form of these prayers. (10)
Scientific activities of Imam Sajjad (AS)
The scientific activities of Imam Sajjad (AS), despite the political pressures and torments and abuses of the Umayyad system, was in a way that his scientific fame spread everywhere, so that Abdul Malik Marwan, the Umayyad caliph, also sought guidance from him to respond the threat of the Roman Empire.
The scholarly references of Medina jurists to him show his outstanding scientific face, and for this reason, people from all over the Islamic lands came to him and benefited from his scholarly character. Thus, in addition to activities that had a general aspect, he also trained special people. Abu Khaled Kabuli, Yahya bin Umm Tuwail, Abu Hamza Thomali (narrator of the famous prayer in Ramadan), Saeed bin Musayyib, Muhammad bin Jubair bin Mutaim and his brother Saeed bin Jubair are among the students of Imam Sajjad (AS), each of whom played a role in spreading the teachings of Ahlul-Bayt (AS) and transmitting Imam’s knowledge. (11)
Buying slaves and training and then releasing them was another method of Imam in the direction of spreading knowledge, so that the house of Imam can be called an educational center. (12) The attention to this case was so extensive and remarkable that some people wrote the number of slaves freed by him as one hundred thousand people. (13) A large number of them had spent some time in the Imam’s house, they were closely acquainted with the Imam’s great scientific and moral character, and naturally they themselves were among the promoters of his thoughts and teachings.
In summary, the period of the leadership of Imam Sajjad (AS) is one of the most difficult times in the history of leadership. But he was able to lead the Shia and spread religious knowledge in this era by dissimulation and through ways such as publishing prayers and training students and remembering the event of Ashura.
1. Yadullah Moghadasi, Re-studying the History of the Birth and Martyrdom of the Innocents (PBUH), p. 348.
2. Rasul Jafarian, The Intellectual and Political Life of Shia Imams, pp. 264-265 (with a summary and a little change)
3. Asghar Montazer Al-Qaim, History of Imamat, Qom, MaarifPublishing House, 1384, pp. 157-159.
4. See: The detailed history of the rise and death of Sayyed al-Shahada, vol. 2, pp. 248-251.
5. Asghar Montazer Al-Qaim, History of Imamat, pp. 149-155.
6. Moghadasi, Motahar bin Taher, Al-Bad’i and al-Tarikh, vol. 5, p. 131, Pur Saeed, School of Al-Taqfah Al-Diniya, Beta.
7. See: Rasul Jafarian, Political History of Islam, Volume 2 (History of Caliphs), pp. 575-577.
8. See: Rasul Jafarian, Intellectual and Political Life of Shia Imams, Ansarian Publications, Qom, 5th edition, 2011, pp. 272-276.
9. Masoudi, Proof of Will, Najaf, Al-Matababa Al-Haydriya, 1373 AH, p. 167.
10. Montazer al-Qaim, Asghar, History of Imamate, Ma’arifPublishing House, second edition, 1384 Hijri Shamsi, pp. 161-162.
11. Montazer Al-Qaim, Asghar, ibid., pp. 159-161.
12. Peshwai, Mahdi, Sire Peshwayan, Qom, Imam Sadiq (AS) Institute 22nd edition, 1389 AH, pp. 302-300.
13. Rasul Jafarian, Intellectual and Political Life of Shia Imams, Ansarian Publications, Qom, 5th edition, 2011, p. 280.
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