Parents & Birth
He was the only son of the eighth Imam Ali Riza (a.s.)
The Prophet (pbuh&hf) had said:
father be sacrificed on the mother of the 9th Imam who
will be a pure and pious Nubian."
Musa Kadhim (a.s.) had told one of his companions that
his daughter-in-law (Sabika) would be one of the most
pious of women and to give her his salaams. She came
from the same tribe as the Prophet's(pbuh&hf) wife -
Maria Kubtiya who bore the Prophet his son Ibrahim (who
died in infancy).
Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) was born when his father was 45
years old. Till then Imam Ali Riza (a.s.) had constantly
been taunted that he had no children. When the 9th Imam
was born, a brother of Imam Ali Riza(a.s.) was angry
because he would lose out in inheriting the Imam's
property and in his jealousy spread a rumour that Imam
Ali Riza(a.s.) was not the father. He was eventually
proved wrong by a person who could tell parentage.
The 9th Imam was 5 years old when his father was called
to Baghdad by Mamun Rashid to be his 'heir apparent'.
When Imam Ali Riza (a.s.) was leaving he saw his son
putting sand in his hair. He asked why and the young
Imam replied that this was what an orphan did. Imam
Riza(a.s.) was fully aware of the treacherous character
of the ruling king and was sure that he would not return
to Medina. So before his departure from Medina he
declared his son Muhammad al-Jawad(a.s.) as his
successor , and imparted to him all his stores of Divine
knowledge and spiritual genius.
Ali Riza(a.s.) was poisoned on 17th Safar 203 AH and
with effect from the same date Imam Muhammad
al-Jawad(a.s.) was commissioned by Allah to hold the
responisbility of Imamate . At the tender age of eight
there was no apself chance or means of the young Imam
reaching great heights of knowledge and practical
achievements . But after a few days he is known not only
to have debated with his contemporary scholars on
subjects pertaining to fiqh ( Islamic jurisprudence ) ,
hadith ( tradition ) , tafsir ( Qur'anic exegesis ) ,
ect . and outwitted them , but also to exhort their
admiration and acknowledgment of his learning and
superiority . Right from then the world realized that he
possessed Divine knowledge and that the knowledge
commanded by the Holy Imam was not acquired , but
granted by Allah.
titles, life & works
The ruler of the time, Mamun Rashid, thought that as all
the rulers before him had oppressed the Imams and their
schemes had backfired that he would try to bribe the
Imams. He tried to make the 8th Imam his heir apparent
and give him power and wealth but that also backfired.
tried to use power and wealth with the 9th Imam again
but from a much younger age thinking that he would be
able to influence him. His main purpose was also to make
sure that the 12th Imam (whom he knew would bring
justice to the world) would be from his progeny and
therefore intended to give his daughter Ummul Fadhl to
the Imam for a wife. Mamun still continued oppressing
the family and followers of the Ahlul-bayt (a.s.).
called the young Imam (a.s.) to Baghdad from Madina and
offered his daughter. This infuriated his family (Banu
Abbas). To prove to them the excellence of Imam even at
a young age he arranged a meeting between Imam and the
most learned of men at that time - Yahya bin Athkam.
a grand occasion with some 900 other scholars present.
Imam (a.s.) was first asked by Yahya:
is the compensation (kaffara) for a person in Ehraam who
hunted and killed his prey?"
replied that there were many more details required
before he could answer the question:
the Muhrim (one in Ehraam) hunt in the haram or outside?
Did the Muhrim know Sharia or not? Did he hunt
intentionally or not?
Did he hunt for the first time or was this one of many
Was he free or a slave? Was his prey a bird or an
Was it big or small?
Had he hunted by day or by night?
Was he baligh or not?
Was he repentant or not?
Was his ehraam for Hajj or Umra?
was stunned. He looked down and started sweating.
asked the young Imam(a.s.) to answer the question, which
he did, and then Imam(a.s.) asked Yayha a question which
he could not answer. Then Ma'mun addressed the audience
thus : ``Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family
which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of
knowledge and learning ? Is there any one in the world
who can match even the children of this family ?'' All
of them shouted , ``Undoubtedly there is no one parallel
to Muhammad ibn `Ali al - Jawad .'' In the same assembly
Mamun wedded his daughter Ummul Fadl to the Imam(a.s.)
and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his
subjects as a mark of rejoicing . Imam (a.s.) read his
own Nikah (the khutba of which is used today) with the
Mehr of 500 dirhams. Imam(a.s.) wrote a letter to Mamun
that he would also give Ummul Fadhl Mehr from the wealth
of Aakhira. This was in the form of 10 duas which were
for fulfilling any hajaat (desires) [Chain of narrators
upto Prophet - Jibrail - Allah]* . Thus his title
Al-Jawad (the generous one).
* These duas are found in Mafatihul Jinaan (pg 447 - In
Imam(a.s.) lived for a year in Baghdad with Ummul Fadhl.
She was very disobedient to Imam(a.s.). When she found
out that Imam(a.s.) had another wife (from the progeny
of Ammar-e-Yasir(a.r.)) and that there was also children
she was jealous and angry realizing that her father's
plan had failed. She complained to her father who also
realized that his plan, to keep the 12th Imam in his
progeny, had failed. He was enraged and in his rage he
drank heavily and went to the 9th Imam's(a.s.) house and
attacked the Imam(a.s.) with a sword. Both Ummul Fadhl
and a servant saw the attack and believed that the
Imam(a.s.) was dead. Mamun, on waking next morning,
realized the consequences of his attack and was thinking
of arranging the disposal of Imam's(a.s.) body when he
saw Imam(a.s.) well without even a scratch on him. He
was confused and asked Imam(a.s.) who showed him an
amulet which is called Hirze Jawad. Imam(a.s.) told him
it was from his grand mother Bibi Fatima Zahra (s.a.)
and kept the wearer safe from all except the angel of
death. Mamun asked Imam(a.s.) for it and Imam(a.s.) gave
Mamun was scared and tried a new tactic. He tried to
deviate Imam(a.s.) by sending him beautiful girls and
musicians. When he realised nothing was working he let
Imam(a.s.) return to Madina.
Imam(a.s.) used this time to prepare the masails of
Taqleed and Ijtihaad in preparation for the 12th
Imam(a.s.) knowing that both the 10th and the 11th
Imams(a.s.) would spend most of their lives in prison.
He also prepared the people of Madina teaching true
Islam knowing that this would be the last time they
would be able to receive guidance directly from an
Imam(a.s.) for a long time.
Fadhl continuously complained of Imam(a.s.) to her
father who sent her letters back.
died in 218 a.h. and was succeeded by his brother
Mo'tasam Billah. He openly announced that all Shias were
non-Muslims. He said it was required for people to kill
and prosecute Shias, and to destroy property belonging
Fadhl now started complaining to her uncle who was
sympathetic to her. Mo'tasam called the Imam(a.s.) to
Baghdad. He asked him to pass judgement of how to punish
a thief. Imam(a.s.) said only fingers could be cut as
the palms were for Allah (as in Qur'an - it is one of
the wajib parts to touch the ground during sajda). As
this decision was contrary to the decision of the other
'Ulema' it strengthened the position of the Shias. The
other 'Ulema' complained to Mo'tasam.
With instigation from both the 'Ulema' and Ummul Fadhl,
Mo'tasam sent poison which Ummul Fadhl put in
Imam's(a.s.) drink and gave it to him. Imam(a.s.) died
on 29th Dhulqa'ada at the age of 25 years and is buried
near his grandfather in Kadhmain. His son the 10th Imam,
Imam Ali Naqi(a.s.) gave him ghusl and kafan.
Summary of Imam's Work
It is he who prepared and wrote books for the masails of
Ijtihaad and Taqleed which were essential to prepare
believers for the ghaibat of the 12th Imam.