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Al-Imam Sayyid Muhammad bin Ali al-Bâqir
by M. Jamaal al-Din Abdul-Wahid al-Hanafi

   A king requested the presence of a Sayyid in his court, but with the intent of destroying him. When the Sayyid appeared, the king sought his forgiveness, begged his pardon, bestowed many gifts upon him, and then dismissed this Hashimite in a very courteous manner. In response to the inquiry as to why he acted in such a manner, the king said “When he came in, I saw two lions, one on his right and one on his left who threatened to destroy me if I should attempt to do harm to him.” The Wali whom Allah Ta’ala protected in this story is Al-Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali al-Baqir, Radhi Allahu ‘Anhu. This tremendous conveyer of ‘Ilm is a great asset of Al-Islam, though very few know about him.

   His full name and lineage is Muhammad bin Ali bin al-Husayn bin Ali bin Abu Taleb al-Qurashi al-Hashimi, born in the Holy City of Madinah in the year 57 A.H. His father and teacher was Hazrat Imam Ali Zaynul-Abideen, survivor of the tragedy of Karbala, son of the Sayyid of Shuhadaa, Sayyidina Husayn bin Ali, Radhi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu. His mother was Sayyidah Fatimah bint al-Hasan bin Ali (Radhi Allahu Anha). From this marriage was born the first generation of the Ahlul-Bayt that was both al-Hasani and al-Husayni, therefore both the paternal and maternal sides were connected to Sayyidina Ali bin Abu Taleb and Sayyidah Fatimah az-Zahra, may millions of Salaams be upon them.

   Hazrat Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu Anh) had three brothers, Abdullah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, in addition to being the half-brother of Imam Zayd bin Ali al-Shaheed (Radhi Allahu Anh). Hazrat Zayd and Hazrat Muhammad shared different opinions in light of various political situations that existed in their time. While Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu Anh) chose not to become involved in political matters, Imam Zayd al-Shaheed (Radhi Allahu Anhu) marched against the Umayyads to claim the Khalifat, but fell victim to Shi’ah conspiracy, thus becoming a martyr, similar to his grandfather’s being betrayed and deserted in Karbala.

   The kunya for Hazrat Muhammad bin Ali (Radhi Allahu Anh) was Abu Ja’far, though his was given many titles, such as Abu Abdullah, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, and Maulana al-Baqir ul-‘Uloom. The most commonly used title is “Al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir.” Baqir literally means to rip open or cut open, and in the case of Imam al-Baqir, he split open knowledge, that is scrutinized it and examined the depths of it so that it can be spread to all people, therefore, his title also meant “The Expounder of Knowledge.” Those who were fortunate to be in his presence would unanimously report that he would rip knowledge down to its very root, reaching its origin, and then convey that knowledge to the people. Hazrat Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Makki, Rahmatullahi alayh, wrote in his book, As-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa:

“Al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir has disclosed secrets of Ilm and Hikmah and unfolded the principles of spiritual and religious guidance. Nobody can deny his character, his God-given knowledge, his divinely-gifted Hikmah, and his obligation and gratitude towards the spreading of knowledge. He was a sacred and highly talented spiritual leader and for this reason, he was popularly titled al-Baqir, which means the expounder of knowledge. Kind in heart, spotless in character, saved by soul, and noble by nature, the Imam devoted all his time to Allah’s Ibadah. It is beyond the power of a man to count the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithful. His saying in devotion and abstinence, in knowledge and wisdom and in religious exercise and submission to Allah are so great in number that the volume of this book is quite insufficient to cover them all.”
   Hazrat Shibli Nu’mani, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh, writes in his book, Sirat-e-Nu’mani that “the Ahlul Bayt were the fountainhead of Hadith, Fiqh, and in fact, all religious learning,” and because of this truth, many seekers of Islamic knowledge sought after Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, Radhi Allahu 'Anh, as he possessed great knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of Sayyidina Rasul-e-Akram Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam. Many of the Tabi’een, Taba at-Tabi’een, fuqaha, and mujtahideen, related and reported numerous Islamic sciences on the authority of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, Radhi Allahu 'Anh, as he was distinguished for his extensive knowledge of Islamic science and for his subtle indication as to the meanings of the Ayats of the Holy Qur’an. Because of the great knowledge of Hadith Allah blessed him with, his name is found in the isnad of many Sahih Ahadith collections. He was also known for his conveying the history and life of Nabi Akram, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, and his family. He became recognized as one of the Fuqaha of Madinah who many learned men would come to for answers to questions of jurisprudence. A famous quote from him that describes this station held by the Ahlul Bayt came from the question he was asked regarding Allah’s Ayat in Surah an-Nahl: “Ask the Ahl al-Dhikr if you do not know,” he answered: “We are the Ahl al-Dhikr.

   The Saliheen from amongst the Ahlul-Bayt of Sayyidina Rasul-e-Akram, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, never chase after Dunya, nor do they have any regards for this worldly life. They devote their time and efforts to the service of the Ummah, seeking the pleasure of only Allah Ta’ala. This was the case with Sayyidina Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) as he was not only well-known for his vast knowledge, but also for the immense Ibadah he would put time into. Imam Abul-Hasan Ali bin ‘Uthman al-Hujweri (Rahmatullah alayh) and Qadi Abu Fazl Iyad bin Musa al-Yahsubi (Rahmatullah alayh) relate in their works, Al-Kashf al-Mahjub and Al-Shifa, respectively, that Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) was a very devout Muslim and spent very much time performing ‘Ibadah. He would spend much of his nights glorifying Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. As a result of his devotion to Allah Ta’ala, he was endowed with ‘Ilm of many sciences of the Nafs, thus endowed with knowledge of both the exoteric and esoteric sciences of the Deen.

   Sayyidina Rasulullah, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, related that his Ahlul Bayt will be faced with adversities. Such was true for Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh), because he lived in a time of much internal strife amongst Muslims, where the period of bloodshed of Muslims at the hands of Muslims took place. In addition, there was much friction between Bani Hashim and Bani Umayya. Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) lived in the period of the Umayyad Dynasty of Sulayman, Hazrat ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-‘Aziz, Yazid II, and Hisham bin Abdul-Malik. The period of the Khalifat of Hazrat ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-‘Aziz was a positive one for the Ahlul Bayt because not only did he bring and end to the bad-mouthing of Sayyidina Ali bin Abu Talib (Karam Allah Wajhu) and his descendants, but he also gave the orchard of Fadek to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) out of his tremendous respect for and devotion to the descendants of Sayyidina wa Mawlana Muhammad, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, which was well-accepted by Imam Abu Ja’far (Radhi Allahu 'Anh).

   Imam Abu Ja’far (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) married the great grand-daughter of Khalif Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (Radhi Allahu 'Anh), Hazrat Umm Farwa bint al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr. From this marriage to Hazrat Umm Farwa, he was the father of another great Sayyid Imam of Ahlus-Sunnah, Hazrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (Radhi Allahu 'Anh), who much ‘Ilm was passed on to, becoming another great Faqih (and Wali) of Madinah.

   The contributions to Al-Islam by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and his progeny are very great, and one such example of that is found with the Hanafi Madhhab. It is safe to say that The Madhhab of Ahlul-Bayt (or most directly linked to Ahlul-Bayt) is the Hanafi Madhhab. Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah Nu’man bin Thabit (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) gained much knowledge from Al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, as well as his son, Al-Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq. In Sirat-e-Nu’man, it is written that “Abu Hanifah sat for a long time at Imam Muhammad al-Baqir’s feet and acquired from him much valuable knowledge of fiqah and Hadith not available anywhere else.” Even Shi’ah books fully attest to this fact and much more. Ibn Mutahhir al-Hilli, a famous Shi’i scholar, wrote in his books Nahjul-Haqq and Al-Minhaj al-Karamah Fi Tariqat al-Imamat that Imam Abu Hanifah learned from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) as well as from his son, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (Radhi Allahu 'Anh), attaining high grades in his company. Al-Hilli also brings forth the fact that Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) was given ijaza to give fatwa and perform ijtihad by at least three members of the Ahlul Bayt: 1.) Al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, 2.) his half-brother, Al-Imam Zayd bin Ali Shaheed and 3.) his son, Al-Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq. In light of this fact, Abdullah Suwaydi writes in his book, An-nahiyatu an-ta’ni Amir al-mu’minin Mu’awiya that

“Imam Abu Hanifah’s requirements of ijazat is testified by the faultless A’immah. To speak ill of Al-Imam al-A’zam would mean to deny the testimony of the twelve Imams, who were sinless people. And this in its turn would be disbelief, according to the Shi’ah credo. Since there is not a Ma’soom Imam today, is it not especially fardh now for all Shi’ah to join the Madhhab of Imam al-A’zam?”
And the Madhhab he speaks of is known as the Hanafi Madhhab.

   In Sirat-e-Nu’man, it is written that “both the Ahlus-Sunnah and the Shiites are in agreement that Imam Abu Hanifah derived much of his learning from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir.” It is related in Al-Majmua az-Zuhdiyya that Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) looked at Abu Hanifah (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) and said:

“When those who defile my ancestor’s Shari’ah are on the increase, you will enliven it. You will be the savior of those with taqwa and the refuge of those with taqwa and the refuge of those who are confused! You will bring heretics round to the right path! Allah Ta’ala will help you!”
The purpose of the information of Imam Abu Hanifah’s interaction and studying under the Ahlul Bayt is not to brag about the virtues of the Hanafi Madhhab. Rather, we are bringing to light important aspects of the Hanafi Madhhab in relation to its connection to the Ahlul Bayt: 1.) Ijaza was given to Al-Imam al-A’zam by Imam al-Baqir and other members of Ahlul Bayt. 2.) Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) made it clear to Imam Abu Hanifah (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) that he would be one who would bring heretics and those lost souls back to the straight path. 3.) In light of the fact that neither Imam al-Baqir nor Imam as-Sadiq founded a Madhhab, their teachings are preserved in the Hanafi Madhhab. Therefore, those who claim that they “only follow Ahlul-Bayt” have no excuse for not being a Hanafi in light of their absence of  Saliheen from Ahlul Bayt who are capable of giving ijtihad, instead of attributing falsehood and heresy in the name of the Sayyid A’immah.

   It is a shame how the enemies of Ahlul-Bayt have taken the statements of Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-Baqir out of context, but have even went to the extent of fabricating statements attributed to him. Such blasphemous statements proclaiming heresy on behalf of the Sahabi Ikram (Radhi Allahu 'Anhum) have been fabricated and with the name of Imam al-Baqir (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) attached to them. In reality, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir never promoted schisms, nor advocated any factions, thus separating from the Ummat-e-Muhammadi, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, known as Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'at. Proof of this can be found in the Ahadith found with ancestral succesion to Hazrat Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu), where the advice was given to not have relation with schismatic groups as they will spoil your religion.

   Hazrat Abu Ja’far (Radhi Allahu 'Anh) returned to Allah on the 7th of Dhul-Hijjah in the year 114 A.H. in the Holy City of Madinah. He is buried in Al-Baqi cemetery where many other members of the Ahlul-Bayt, Shuhadaa, and Sahabi (May plenty of Salaam be upon them all) rest. The world benefitted from this Imam of exalted memory as he was an educator for many of the Ulama of Al-Islam as well as a preserver of the Sunnah of Nabi Muhammad, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam. It is unfortunate that not many know about him. The well-respected scholars of Al-Islam have had nothing but good to say about Hazrat Abu Ja’far al-Baqir and to sum it up, Muhammad bin Khavendesh bin Mahmud wrote in Rauza-tus-Safaa that “neither pen nor tongue can describe the merits and the traditions of Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali al-Baqir.” May millions of most perfect Salaams be upon Sayyidina Rasulullah, his progeny, and his descendants. Aameen.

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