Imam al-Rida (a.s) declared the imamate of his son al-Jawad and appointed him as
the successor after him and the general authority to whom Muslims would refer in
their religious affairs. Many narrators have narrated the appointment of
al-Jawad as the imam after his father. We mention here some of these narrations:
1. Muhammad al-Mahmoori
Muhammad al-Mahmoori narrated from his father as having said, “Once, I was
standing near Imam al-Rida (a.s) in Tooss1 when one of his companions
asked him, ‘If something happens (to you), to whom shall we refer?’ He asked
about the next imam after him so that they would know to whom they should obey
and submit. Imam al-Rida (a.s) said, ‘To my son Abu Ja’far.’
Imam al-Jawad (a.s) was yet a child. The man said, ‘I think he is very little as
Imam al-Rida (a.s) replied, ‘Allah sent Jesus the son of Mary (as a prophet)
though he was even younger than Abu Ja’far will be when he shall become the
The answer of Imam al-Rida (a.s) was a decisive evidence that Allah the Almighty
had chosen Jesus Christ (a.s) as a prophet and given him knowledge while he was
still a child and younger in age than Imam al-Jawad (a.s). Prophethood and
imamate are from one source, and they are not entrusted to a young or an old
man, but rather, they are in the hand of Allah Who chooses for them whom He
likes from amongst His people.
2. Safwan bin Yahya
Safwan was among those who narrated traditions of the appointment of Imam
al-Jawad (a.s) by his father as the imam after him. He narrated, “Once, I said
to al-Rida: we often asked you, before Allah granted Abu Ja’far to you, about
the imam after you and you would say ‘Allah will give me a boy.’ Now, Allah has
given you a boy and has delighted our eyes. If something happens (to you), to
whom shall we refer? He pointed to Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad) who was before him and
who was at that time three years old. I said, ‘He is a three-year-old child!’ He
said, ‘It does not matter. Jesus Christ (a.s) was entrusted with prophethood
while he was less than three years.’”3
3. Ma’mar bin Khallad
Ma’mar narrated the traditions of Imam al-Rida (a.s) about the appointment of
his son al-Jawad as the imam after him. He said, “I heard him (Imam al-Rida)
saying to his companions after having mentioned something to them, ‘What else do
you want? This is Abu Ja’far. I have seated him in my place and made him my
successor…We are the people of a house whose young inherit from the old, one
after the other and each one is equal to the other.’”4
4. Abdullah bin Ja’far
Abdullah bin Ja’far said, “One day, Safwan bin Yahya and I went to Imam al-Rida
(a.s) while Abu Ja’far, who was three years old then, was before him. We said,
‘May Allah make us die for you! If something happens5 – Allah forbid
– who shall be the imam after you?’ He said, ‘My son.’ He pointed to his
son al-Jawad. We said, ‘Even though he is of this age!?’ He said, ‘Yes! Allah
the Almighty has given Jesus Christ (a.s) as an argument though he was but two
5. Muhammad bin Abu Abbad
Muhammad bin Abu Abbad narrated from his father who said, “I heard Imam al-Rida
(a.s) saying: Abu Ja’far is my guardian and successor in my family after me.”7
And there are many other traditions related from Imam al-Rida (a.s) declaring
the imamate of Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s) after his father and his being one of the
caliphs of the Prophet (a.s) for his Umma.
* The Life of Imam Muhammad Al-Jawad. By: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi.
Author: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi. Translator: Abdullah al-Shahin. Publisher:
Ansariyan Publications – Qum
1- In Khurasan.
2- Ad-Durr an-Nadheem, p.218, a manuscript in Ameerul Mo’mineen Library.
3- Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah by ibn al-Sabbagh, p.251, Usool al-Kafi, vol. 1 p.379.
4- Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p.251, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 12 p.103.
5- They mean “if you die”.
6- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 12 p.117.
7- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 12 p.104, Ithbat al-Hudat, vol.6 p.161.