Story of Safwan Jammal and Harun during Imam Musa Kadhim

SHAFAQNA – You have probably also heard the story of Safwan Jammal. Safwan owned what the today call, ‘transportation rental services’ which was an agency that rented out camels in those days. He was very reputable and his services were so abundant that the government would frequently ask him for transportation services.
One day, Harun wanted to go on a trip to Mecca and requested his services. He signed a contract with him for renting the transportation. Safwan, however, was one of the followers and companions of Imam al-Kazim.
One day he came to visit the Imam and said (or the Imam may have been informed previously): I have done such a thing. The Imam said, “Why did you offer your camels to such a tyrant man?” He replied, “I did not offer them out for a sinful trip! His trip was a pilgrimage to Hajj and a trip of obedience; that is why I loaned them; otherwise, I would not have.” The Imam asked, “Have you received your money yet? Or at least, is there any rent to be paid still?” He replied, “Yes, there is.” The Imam said, “Refer to you heart, now that you rented your camels out to Harun, do you not wish, deep down in your heart, that Harun stays alive at least until he comes back and pays the rest of your rent?” He said, “Yes.” The Imam said, “It is enough that you are contented with the survival of the oppressor and this itself is a sin.”
Safwan came out. Harun’s men were suddenly informed that Safwan had sold out all his camels. He basically left this job. When he sold them, he went to the other party of the contract and said, “We shall terminate this contract because I no longer want this job,” and tried to bring some excuses. Harun was informed and said, “Bring him here.” When they brought him, Harun asked, “What is going on?” He replied, “I have grown old. I can no longer do this job. I thought even if I want to work, it can be something else.” Harun realized and said, “Tell me the truth! Why did you sell your camels?” Safwan replied, “That was the truth.” Harun said, “No, I know what the story is. Musa ibn Ja‘far was informed you loaned your camels to me and he told you that this transgressed the law. Do not deny it. I swear to God, had it not been for the long years of acquaintance we have had with your family, I would have ordered your execution right here.”
So, these are what caused the martyrdom of Imam Musa ibn Ja‘far. Firstly, his presence was, in a way, what caused the caliphs to feel threatened. Secondly, they were publicizing against the caliphs and telling the stories of their oppression. They, however, dissimulated, which means they acted in a way that no evidence was left available for their opposition.
The conditions of their time demanded for them to do their jobs undercover and try not to leave any evidence behind for the other party or at least the least possible. Thirdly, they had an amazingly resistive spirit. As I said before, when they say, “Sir! You just become a little apologetic in the presence of Yahya,” and he replies, “My life is ending.” In another time, Haruns sent somebody to prison and wanted him to get the Imam’s confession, and repeated the same things, “We are very fond of you; we are devoted to you. It is to the best interest that you do not go to Medina; otherwise, we do not intend to keep you imprisoned.
We have ordered them to keep you in a safe place near my self. I sent you my special chef, as you may not be used to our foods, to prepare for you whatever you desire.” Who was this agent? It was Fadl ibn Rabi‘ in whose prison the Imam once was and he was one of Harun’s high ranking officers. He went to see the Imam in prison while he was wearing his official uniform and he was armed. The Imam realized that Fadl ibn Rabi‘ had come (now observe the soul power): Fadl is standing waiting for the Imam to finish his prayer so he could communicate the Caliph’s messege.

As soon as the Imam said the prayer salutations [salams] and he said, assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, he gave no chance and said Allah-u Akbar and stood up to pray. Again Fadhl waited. The Imam’s prayer finished again and as soon as he said, assalamu ‘alaykum, the Imam again gave him no chance to begin and said, “Allah-u Akbar.” This was repeated a couple of times. Fadl realized that this was being done deliberately. He thought at first the Imam has some prayers in which he has to read four, six, eight rak‘ah’s one after the other.
Afterwards, he found out that this was being done because the Imam had no desire to pay any attention to him. He did not want to accept him. He eventually figured out that he has to fulfil his mission and if he stays for long, Harun would become suspicious of him. This time he started talking before the Imam began to say his salams. He may have said salam first.
He said whatever Harun had said. Harun had also told him, “Don’t go there and say this is what Commander of the Faithful [Amir al-Mu’minin] has said; don’t use the term, ‘Amir al-Mu’minin’. Say this is what your cousin has said.” He said in the utmost courtesy and politeness, “Your cousin has said that it is proven for us that you have committed no faults and sins but it is to the best interest you stay in this place and not go to Medina. I have ordered a special chef for the time being to come, order whatever food you desire so he prepares it for you.” They have written that the Imam’s response to this was, [Allahu Akbar], “My own wealth is not here. If I want to spend, I will spend from my own licit wealth. The chef is coming so I give orders? I am not a kind of person to ask, ‘How much my ratio is or give my portion for this month.’ I am not also a man who begs.” As soon as he finished speaking, he said Allahu Akbar and stood for prayers.
This is how the caliphs realized that they can in no way force them to surrender and become obedient followers. Otherwise, the caliphs themselves knew how costly martyring the Imams would be for them. Their tyrannical policies, however, did not allow them to avoid this. They considered this the easiest way.

Source : Compiled by: Ayatullah Shaheed Murtadha Mutahhari

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