Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) – The Door to Fulfilling One’s Needs

Imam Mūsā b. Jaʿfar (a.s.) titled as al-Kāẓim and Bāb al-Ḥawāʾij was the seventh Imam of Shi’a, born in 128 (AH)/745 (AD) in the village of Abwa’ (between Mecca and Medina). After his father Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) was martyred he (a.s.) became the Imam of Shi’a.

The thirty-five years of his imamate coincided with the caliphate of al-Mansur, al-Hadi, al-Mahdi, and Harun al-Rashid. He was repeatedly imprisoned by al-Mahdi and Harun, and was finally martyred in 183/799 in al-Sindi b. Shahik’s prison. After his martyrdom, he was succeeded by his son, ‘Ali b. Musa (a), as the next Imam.

Imam al-Kazim’s (a) life coincided with the peak of the Abbasid caliphate. He practiced taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation) with regard to the government and recommended the Shi’as to do the same. Thus, there is no report of him taking explicit positions against the Abbasid caliphs or with regard to Alids uprisings, such as the Uprising of Fakhkh. However, in his debates and dialogues with Abbasid caliphs and others, he tried to question the legitimacy of the Abbasid caliphate.

Some debates and dialogues between Musa b. Ja’far (a) and some Jewish and Christian scholars have been reported insources of history and hadiths. His dialogues with the scholars of other religions have been collected in Musnad al-Imam al-Kazim, some of which have been transmitted by People of Consensus. He also expanded the Wikala network (network of deputyship), appointing people as his representatives or deputies in different areas.

Shiite and Sunni sources have praised his practice of worships, patience, and generosity, referring to him as “al-Kazim” and “al-‘Abd al-Salih”. Prominent Sunni figures honored the Seventh Shiite Imam as a religious scholar and visited his grave along with the Shi’as. Imam al-Kazim’s (a) resting place and the mausoleum of his grandson, Imam al-Jawad (a), are located near Baghdad and is known as the Shrine of Kazimayn. It is visited by Muslims, and in particular, the Shi’as.

The Best of the Best

God does not haphazardly choose His representatives. God does not simply choose the oldest son of a prior Imam to be his successor. That would be tantamount to monarchical inheritance, which may or may not elect the most qualified individuals. Rather, God chooses and promotes the best of the best of His creation, in accordance with His comprehensive knowledge of all His creatures.

Granted, it may be that the most righteous humans descended from one family tree, and that may be explained by Divine wisdom. However, the Almighty would only choose His representatives based on the qualities of perfection which He knew of and which manifested through His creation. It has been narrated that the sixth Imam, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, advised his close companions with the following:

“Treat Musa, this son of mine, well. For indeed, he is the best of my offspring, and the one I leave behind as my successor. After me, he is the one who holds my position and (he is) the proof in support of God – the Glorious and Exalted – (as a witness) upon the entirety of His creation.”

The sixth Imam distinctly noted that his son, Musa, was the most excellent among his children and the rest of creation. This distinguished feature made Musa, the son of Ja’far, the Divine representative on earth after his father. Musa, the son of Ja’far, was the seventh immaculate Imam.

Imam Musa continued the noble mission of safeguarding the Truth, in word and action, as did the preceding Imams. However, the oppression of the Abbasid rulers curtailed the Imam’s mobility, placing him in prison for years. For his exceptional endurance, Imam Musa became known as al-Kadhim (the one who holds back his anger and grief).

Al-Kadhim: The Seventh Imam

After Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq’s passing, the Ja’fari university continued to prosper under the leadership of the seventh Imam, Imam Musa al-Kadhim. Imam Musa was respected for the light of his brilliance as well as the profundity of his character. Scholars of Islam, across the board, have been humbled before Imam Musa’s moral and spiritual standing.

The well-known Sunni scholar, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, has written the following in describing the Imam:

“Musa al-Kadhim is the inheritor of his father’s knowledge,

awareness, perfection, and virtue. He was called al-Kadhim for the multitude of his (granted) pardons and his forbearance. He was known amongst the people of Iraq as the ‘door at which God fulfills needs.’ He was the most devout amongst the people of his time; the most knowledgeable and the most generous amongst them.”

The Holy Imam used to pray at night until sunrise. He would then prostrate, placing his forehead on the ground out of humility before God – sometimes not lifting his head off the ground until just before noon. This Divine representative used to tremble and cry due to his intense awareness of God, such that his beard would become drenched with his tears.

Imam al-Kadhim was unique in the extent to which he maintained positive relations with his family and relatives. The Imam’s kindness also extended to his neighbors, both near and far. The poor of Madinah used to enjoy the fruits of Imam al-Kadhim’s generosity, not knowing that the Imam had been their secret benefactor. But even in light of these incredible traits, Imam Musa al-Kadhim used to pray, “Immense is the fault of your servant, so beautiful let the pardon be from You.”