Imam Mohammad Baqir (AS) was born in the year 57 Higri, in the city of Medina. He was 39 years old at the time of the death of his father, Imam Zayn al-abedin (Ýa) (who passed away in 94 Hijri). His name was Mohammad, while his kunya was Abu Jafar, and his agnomens were Baqir and Baqir al-olum.
His mother was Umm Yabdullah, the daughter of Imam Hassan Mujtaba (Ýa). He was the first person who was a Faoimi and an ÝAlawi from both his mother and father. Imam Baqir (Ýa) passed away in the year 114 Hijri, in the city of Medina, and he was buried in the famous graveyard of Baqei. He was buried next to the grave of his father and grandfather. The period of his Imamate was 18 years long. The 5th Imam (Ýa) lived contemporaneously with the following caliphs:
1- Walid ibn ÝAbd al-Malik (86-96 Hijri)
2- Sulayman ibn ÝAbd al-Malik (96-99 Hijri)
3- Ýumar ibn ÝAbd al-ÝAziz (99-101 Hijri)
4- Yazid ibn ÝAbd al-Malik (101-105 Hijri)
5- Hisham ibn ÝAbd al-Malik (105-125 Hijri)
These caliphs, with the exception of ÝUmar ibn ÝAbd al-ÝAzÐz, who was relatively just and inclined towards the family of the Prophet (Ò), were all tyrannical, despotic, and self serving. They were no less tyrannical and oppressive than their forbearers, and they were especially severe on Imam BÁqir (Ýa).
Although he lived in unfavorable and restrictive times, Imam Baqir (Ýa) engaged in disseminating the reality of Islam. He is famously known for analyzing and explaining various intellectual issues. He brought about an extensive movement in learning and science, and laid the foundations for an Islamic university, which reached its zenith in the time of his son Imam Nadiq (Ýa).
The scientific works of the 5th Imam (Ýa) and the students which his school delivered to the Muslim nation also gave fulfilment to a prediction from the Prophet of Islam (Ò). The narrator of the following tradition is Jabir ibn ÝAbdullah Anoari, the famous personality from the early days of Islam’s revelation.
JÁbir, who was one of the great companions of the Prophet of Islam (Ò), and one who possessed a special affection for the family of the Prophet (Ò), has written: One day the Prophet of Islam (Ò) said to me: ‘After me, you will see an individual who is from my family, whose name is (the same as) my name, and whose appearance will be similar to mine. He will open the doors of knowledge to the people.’
The Prophet (Ò) foretold of this event at a time when Imam BÁqir (Ýa) had not yet been born; years passed from this foretelling, and the era of the 4th Imam (Ýa) arrived. One day during this time period, Jabir was passing through the streets of Medina, when his eye fell on Imam Baqir (Ýa). When he paid careful attention, he noticed all of the signs exactly which the Prophet (Ò) had mentioned. He asked: What is your name? The Imam (Ýa) replied: My name is Muhammad ibn ÝAlÐ ibn al-Íusayn (Ýa). JÁbir began to kiss his forehead and said: Your grandfather, the Prophet (Ò), sent you his greetings through me.
From that day on, in respect of the Prophet (Ò) and as a sign of the greatness of Imam BÁqir (Ýa), he would visit the Imam (Ýa) twice a day. In addition, when he was in the mosque of the Prophet (Ò), he would sit amongst the crowd (and in response to those who would criticize him with impure intentions) he would narrate the prediction of the Prophet of Islam (Ò).
Imam BÁqir (Ýa) was also superior in his knowledge, ascetism, eminence, and virtue over all of the rest of the HÁshimÐs. The eminent status of his knowledge and actions were verified by friend and foe alike. A great many traditions have remained from him in the fields of Islamic rulings, commentary on the Quran, the history of Islam, and various other fields of learning… The distinguished scholars of that day, along with a number of the companions of the Prophet of Islam (Ò) who were still alive at that time, benefitted greatly from the presence of Imam BÁqir (Ýa).
JÁbir ibn YazÐd JaÝfarÐ, KaysÁn SajistÁnÐ (from the TÁbiÝÐn) and jurisprudents such as: Ibn MubÁrak, ZuhrÐ, AwzÁÝÐ, AbÙ ÍanÐfah, MÁlik, ShÁfiÝÐ, and ZiyÁd ibn MÙndhar NahdÐ all benefited from his knowledge and narrated his words both through intermediaries and without any intermediaries. The books and compilations of scholars and historians of the Ahl al-Sunnah, such as ÓabarÐ, BalÁdhÙrÐ, SalÁmÐ, KhatÐb BaghdÁdÐ, AbÙ NaÝÐm IÒfahÁnÐ, and books such as MuwaÔÔaÞ MÁlik, Sunan AbÐ DÁwÙd, Masnad AbÐ ÍanÐfah, Masnad MarwazÐ, TafsÐr NaqqÁshÐ, TafsÐr ZamakhsharÐ, as well as tens of others like them (which include some of the most important books of the Ahl al-Sunnah), all contain the words of the 5th Imam (Ýa). All throughout these works, the words ‘QÁla MuÎammad ibn ÝAlÐ’ or ‘QÁla MuÎammad al-BÁqir’ can be seen.
The books of the Shia are also (naturally) full of the words and traditions of Imam BÁqir (Ýa) and these pertain to many various fields and subjects.
Imam BÁqir (Ýa) According To the Scholars
The reputation of the knowledge and breadth of learning of Imam BÁqir (Ýa) filled the various corners of the Muslim nation to such an extent, that he was given the title ‘BÁqir al-ÝØlÙm’ (The opener of the doors of knowledge, and the solver of the problems of science).
Ibn Íijr HaytamÐ has written: ‘MuÎammad BÁqir opened many hidden treasures of science, learning, and religious law, as well as various wisdoms and subtleties. These are all very apparent, except for someone who is lacking in intelligence or is of bad character. It is for these aspects that he was called the splitter (of knowledge), the compository of learning, and the flag bearer of learning.’
ÝAbdullah ibn ÝAÔÁÞ, who was one of the prominent personalities and scholars during the time of the Imam (Ýa), has said: I never saw the scholars of Islam as being so lowly and humbled in terms of their learning, as when they were in the gatherings of MuÎammad ibn ÝAlÐ (Ýa). I saw Íakam ibn ÝUtaybah, who was known in all corners of the nation for his knowledge and jurisprudence, in the service of MuÎammad BÁqir, like a child in front of his high ranking teacher; he was on his knees, captivated and absorbed by the words and character (of the Imam (Ýa)).
In his speeches, Imam BÁqir (Ýa) would predominatly reference the verses of the Holy Quran, and he would bring evidence from the Book of God. He would say: Whatever I say, ask me where the related verse is found in the Quran, so that I may present it to you.
The Students of Imam BÁqir’s (Ýa) School
Imam BÁqir (Ýa) educated many prominent students in the fields of fiqh, tradition, commentary, and various other Islamic sciences; each of these students was counted as a heavyweight in respect to their learning and knowledge. Prominent personalities such as MuÎammad ibn MÙslim, ZarÁrah ibn Ayn, AbÙ BaÒÐr, Burayd ibn MÙÝÁwÐya AjalÐ, JÁbir ibn YazÐd, ÍamrÁn ibn Ayn, and HishÁm ibn SalÐm were all trained in the school of Imam BÁqir (Ýa).
The sixth Imam (Ýa) has mentioned: ‘Our school and the traditions of my father were kept alive by four individuals. These four are: ZarÁrah, AbÙ BaÒÐr, MuÎammad ibn MÙslim, and Burayd ibn MÙÝÁwÐya ÝAjalÐ. If it were not for these four, no one would have benefitted from the teachings of the religion and the school of thought of the Prophet (Ò). These individuals were the preservers of the religion. From amongst the Shias of our time, these individuals were the first who became acquainted with our teachings, and on the Day of Resurrection, they will be j o i ned with us sooner than the others.’ The students of Imam BÁqir’s (Ýa) school were the heads of jurisprudence and tradition during their time, and they were considered superior to their non-Shia counterparts.