by Jonathan Azaziah
This past weekend marked the 1,208th birthday of Imam Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Moussa al-Jawad (A.S.), the 9th Imam in the Jaafari Shi’a tradition and the youngest of the Infallibles (A.S.), with his life only lasting 25 years before he was martyred. Known also as Al-Taqi (the pious), Al-Qani and Al-Radhi (the content and the satisfied, as in content/satisfied solely with ALLAH [SWT]), Al-Zaki (the pure) and Bab al-Mourad (the Gate of Hopes and Dreams), the Imam (A.S.) was, as Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, said on June 13th, 2011, “the epitome of fighting falsehood. He strove for the rule of ALLAH (SWT). He fought for ALLAH (SWT) and the Holy Quran. He did not fear any power. He was in fact the leader, role model and forerunner of the movement followed by the entire Iranian nation today.” Which makes his life all the more important to study. Moreover, Sayyed Khamenei said in a May 15th, 1981 sermon that Imam al-Taqi (A.S.) “was a sign and symbol of resistance; a great man who fought against the pretentious and hypocritical influence of the Abbasid caliph Ma’moun and he never withdrew an inch. He endured all the arduous conditions, while employing every possible means to fight against falsehood.” It is this exemplification of truth in which we derive our analysis that Imam Jawad (A.S.) was also a reflection of Jesus Christ (A.S.), who is described by ALLAH (SWT) as His Word in the Holy Qur’an (3:45 and 4:171). And what is His Word but truth?
Indeed, from his earliest years when he inherited the Imamate at the tender age of seven from his father Imam Ali ar-Reza (A.S.) who had been poisoned to death by Al-Ma’moun (L.A.), Bab al-Mourad (A.S.) exuded HAQQ from his aura and his pores, displaying what can only be described as a mind that eclipsed the straospheric apogees of genius. Allamah Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi, on page 35 of his excellent volume “The Life Of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad”, notes an incident that saw scholars and jurisprudents flocking to his residence upon him taking over the Imamate and pounding him with an astronomical 30,000 questions. The objective, undoubtedly, was to cast doubt on his holiness, godliness and Divine-mandated authority, and, thus, grant credence to the illegitimate, tyrannical rule of Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) The session, which last several exhausting days, couldn’t have gone more miserably as the Imam answered not some, not half, not most, but ALL the questions, intellectually thrashing his detractors. The only conclusion that the subversive “scholars” could arrive at was that this boy, this youngling, had been endowed with the knowledge and righteousness of Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) The entire episode reminds us of Ayat 29-33 in Surat al-Maryam when Isa al-Masih (A.S.) spoke from his cradle, smashing the naysayers by ALLAH’s (SWT) leave.
Al-Radhi’s (A.S.) youth aside, he was such a towering, mountainous intellect that Sayyed Ali ibn Jaafar (A.S.), the brother of Imam Moussa al-Kazim (A.S.) and one of the greatest Islamic legal minds in history, called him “master” and referred to his own person as “just a slave” to Imam Jawad (A.S.) Again, this was all while he was still a boy who hadn’t even reached puberty yet. Companions of Imam ar-Reza (A.S.) were unsure about the youth of Al-Jawad (A.S.), and it was none other than the example of Christ (A.S.) that the 8th Shi’a Imam would invoke to put their hearts at ease and set them straight, declaring, “ALLAH (SWT) sent Isa (A.S.), the son of Maryam (A.S.), as a Prophet, though he was even younger than Abou Jaafar (A.S.) will be when he shall become the Imam.” Muhammad al-Mahmouri (R.A.), Safwan ibn Yahya (R.A.) and Abdullah ibn Jaafar (R.A.) all confirm this tradition.
As Isa al-Masih (A.S.) said from his cradle (Holy Qur’an 19:32), “And [ALLAH made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.” Imam Jawad (A.S.) too, like Christ (A.S.) was to Maryam (A.S.), was dutiful towards his mother, a Nubian bondwoman named Sukaynah al-Nawbiyyah (A.S.), who had freed by his father, Imam ar-Reza (A.S.) Her virtuousness and dignity were unparalleled by any other women of the era and she was the Imam’s strength–akin to his backbone even. And of course Al-Taqi (A.S.) was no tyrant but the challenger and resistor of such persons. He was the devastator of despots. The demolisher of dictators. The astounder of autocrats. The mauler of monarchs. The trouncer of totalitarians and the overturner of oppressors. Most especially, to once again echo Imam Khamenei, Bab al-Mourad (A.S.) was a champion against falsehood and degeneracy.
When Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) tried to force vain entertainment on the Imam (A.S.) with the long-bearded, philandering, despicable musician Moukhariq, Al-Taqi (A.S.) shouted him down, “Fear ALLAH (SWT), o’ long-bearded man!”, causing him to drop his tambourine and his lute and preventing him from ever using his hands again. Moukhariq even told Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) that the thunder in Imam Jawad’s (A.S.) voice left him so frightened that he remained fearful of never recovering until his dying day. Like the miracles of Christ (A.S.), this was one of the miracles of Al-Zaki (A.S.) by the blessings and mercy of Al-Moussawir (SWT).
The Abbasid ‘elites’ were petrified of him from that point onward. They pleaded with Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) not to marry his daughter Umm al-Fadl (L.A.) to the Imam (A.S.) as a means of gaining some sway over him. For this man, the Peak of Godwariness, could not be bought. He went through with it anyway while continuing to replicate the scenario with Moukhariq, trying to get the Imam (A.S.) to drink liquor, engage in lewd acts with heavily jeweled women, spend his time pursuing worldly goals, etc. Al-Jawad, having erudition and sagacity beyond measure, knew that the marriage to Umm al-Fadhl (L.A.) was a sham, but played the game to prevent fitnah and essentially run counter-surveillance on his enemy. This is reflected by the fact that he never once slept with Bint al-Ma’moun and gave every bit of his salary from the “royal” regime, estimated at 1 million dirhams annually, to the orphans and the poor–testaments to the Imam’s (A.S.) piety, love of the Holy Qur’an and categorical rejection of the Dunya.
With the pleasures of the flesh and ear and pocket failing, the Abbasid tyrant tried a different method, taking the Imam (A.S.) to task in public, and sicced prominent Baghdadi jurist Yahya ibn Akhtam–who would later clash with Al-Jawad’s (A.S.) son, Ali al-Hadi (A.S.), as well— on him with a series of open debates. But this too blew up in the face of Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) as Akhtam proved himself to be no match for Al-Qani (A.S.) The decisive and decimating intellectual triumph sent shockwaves throughout Mesopotamia. Wherever Imam Jawad (A.S.) walked, people followed him; adored him; loved him; wanted to be near him, feel his presence and learn from him. Allamah al-Qurashi, on page 217 of his aforementioned book, called it “a halo of honoring and glorification”. Despite all of Al-Ma’moun’s (L.A.) cunning efforts to ingratiate himself with Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) and appear as their friend whilst he gathered information on the Abbasids’ dissident citizens, the popularity of Al-Taqi (A.S.) brought out his true feelings and caused him to hate the Imam (A.S.) immensely and intensely. So much so in fact that he was plotting to kill the Imam (A.S.) when he himself died.
Al-Mou’tasim (L.A.) took over. He was an Arab-hater and Turk-loyalist, not to mention a murderous, foolish drunkard that enjoyed killing his political opponents and who despised knowledge so much that he reveled in his own illiteracy. It was for these reasons that he abhorred Imam Jawad (A.S.) even more than Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) and vowed to do what his predecessor could not: Kill the 9th Imam. Al-Jawad (A.S.) knew it was coming anyway and, through his connection to the Unseen, predicted following the death of Al-Ma’moun (L.A.) that he would not live more than 30 more months. He was only 22 at the time and he nailed the timing down precisely, subhan’ALLAH. Now, while some historians attribute his assassination to Umm al-Fadhl (L.A.), who certainly hated Al-Qani (A.S.) for opposing her father’s tyranny and never succumbing to her materialist desires nor ever making love to her, there are even more historians, as Allamah Qurashi’s sources display, that say it was one of Al-Mou’tasim’s (L.A.) viziers that was responsible. Oddly however, Allamah Qurashi and others who have tackled this matter don’t explicitly say the name of this assassin. Perhaps because–no disrespect meant even in the slightest–they weren’t looking in the right place.
We find the devil who is the ABSOLUTE most likely culprit responsible for slaughtering Imam Jawad (A.S.) not in an Islamic history book… Nor an Arab, Turkish, Iranian or general, Orientalism-driven “Middle Eastern” work… but in the confines of Judaica. In the second edition of Kevin Alan Brook’s “The Jews Of Khazaria”, pages 183-184 reveal a forgotten and disturbing fact of history–one which solves the mystery of Al-Qani’s (A.S.) terrible and tragical assassination. Al-Mou’tasim (L.A.) purchased a Khazar youth from a slave market named Itakh al-Khazari (L.A.) who he would have trained to be part of his private army. Itakh would then become the Abbasid despot’s personal cook. Al-Mou’tasim (L.A.) would go on to purchase even more Khazar-Yahoudi youths, renowned for their ruthlessness, as soldiers to reinforce his rule over Samarra.
Al-Mou’tasim (L.A.) took quite the liking to Itakh and as a result, the Khazarian “chosenite” would have, as Brook puts it, an “illustrious career as a soldier, commander and administrator.” He was the chieftain behind the brutal, bloody takeover of the Byzantine town of Amorion and later became the governor of Yemen whilst still maintaining his high status in Iraq, famously putting down a Kurdish Shi’a rebellion and also ascending to security police chief in Samarra where he led his fellow Khazars in ops to keep the population in check. In other words… There is NOBODY Al-Mou’tasim (L.A.) trusted more with matters of repression and liquidating political opponents; nobody that could have attacked the Imam (A.S.) with such ease and without drawing attention, as the “mukhabarat” in the region were under his direct orders; and nobody as well-equipped and motivated (both by subservience to his overlord and Jewish hatred of Ahlul Bayt [A.S.] overall) to carry out this secret killing while leaving, in typical Judaic fashion, just enough false scents (i.e. Umm al-Fadhl) for researchers and historians to look elsewhere and everywhere but his direction. Conclusion: The Khazar Jew Itakh al-Khazari (L.A.), notorious tormentor of the people of northern Baghdad and Samarra, poisoned Imam Jawad (A.S.) with the go-ahead from the Abbasid despot.
Al-Mou’tasim’s (L.A.) staunch reliance on a Khazar Jew for his covert operations would explain, in tremendously clarion fashion, why one of his later successors, Al-Mou’tazz (L.A.), would also use Khazar Jews to murder Imam Jawad’s (A.S.) son and the 10th Imam of the Jaafari school of thought, Ali al-Hadi (A.S.) The Abbasid-Khazarian relationship, which Brook covers for a couple pages further following the elucidation of Itakh al-Khazari’s (L.A.) role in the Mou’tasim regime, deserves much, MUCH more scholarship especially vis-à-vis how it impacted resistance against tyranny stemming from the love of Ahlul Bayt (A.S.)
With his dying breath, Imam al-Taqi (A.S.) said, “We are a group of people who ALLAH (SWT) takes near to Him (SWT) if we don’t find this world pleasing–and we most certainly never do. We are a people who dislike the Dunya and are in love with the Akhira.” Reminiscent of Isa al-Masih’s (A.S.) famous Hadith, “The world is a rotting corpse and I ache to depart it.” So like Christ (A.S.) had his Prophethood and Messiahship gifted to him by ALLAH (SWT) as a baby, Imam Jawad (A.S.) had the Imamate passed to him as a little boy. Like Christ (A.S.) had a powerful closeness and friendship with his mother, the Virgin Maryam (A.S.), Imam al-Qani (A.S.) mirrored this with his mom, the angelic and defiant Sukaynah al-Nawbiyyah (A.S.) Like Christ (A.S.) confronted the falsehoods and idols of his era manifested by the Sanhedrin, Bab al-Mourad (A.S.) did the same with the decadent Abbasids. And like the Jews plotted to put Jesus Christ (A.S.) on a cross for his opposition to the hellish hypocrisy and deviance of the rabbinate, it was a Jew that would deal the death blow to Al-Taqi (A.S.)
Verily, Imam Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Moussa al-Jawad (A.S.) was a reflection of the Numinous Nazarene (A.S.) and through this transhistorical, ultra-ethereal bond, we can unite Muslims and Christians closer together–for our heroes, our faith and our enemies are one and the same. It is a sign from Al-Khaliq (SWT) that those who planned to kill Ibn Maryam (A.S.) and those who DID kill (either directly or indirectly) 11 different versions of Ibn Khadija (A.S.) are one and the same. Through the lens of Christ (A.S.) and his resemblances among the Progeny of Muhammad al-Moustafa (S.A.W.W.), we can see a future devoid of Pharisaic rule and move forward to make it more than a thought, but a reality. Happy 1,208th birthday Imam al-Taqi (A.S.) We shall strive to be nearer to your piety and work to forge deeper bonds with our Masihi brethren as per the Qur’anic directive of Surat al-Ma’idah, Ayah 82, all in your blessed, magisterial, Earth-shaking memory!