The continuation of the general movement of the Imams during the time of Imam
Kazim (Musa ibn Ja'far AS) is very venturesome and exiting. In my opinion, this
era marks the apogee of the struggles of the infallible Imams. Unfortunately we
do not have a proper, illuminating report on the life of Imam Kazim (a.s.).
There are certain events in his life that astonishes human beings. For instance,
some traditions indicate that for sometimes the Imam went underground and
conducted a clandestine life to rescue his life from the agents of the ruling
system. Although Haroun's government tried to find him, it could not discover
his hideout. The Caliph even tortured a number of people to disclose the hideout
of the Imam. This is unprecedented in the lives of the infallible Imams.
There is another tradition about Imam Kazim (a.s.), similar to which we have not
seen about other Imams: Ibn Shahr Ashub narrates a tradition in "Manaqib": "Musa
ibn Ja'far arrived in a village of Damascus in disguise while running away."
These facts are some sparks in Imam Musa's life, which can explain the reasons
for his frequent imprisonment and torture by the ruling system. At the beginning
of Haroun's caliphate the conditions was not so harsh. When Haroun came to
power, he went to Medina and as you have heard he cherished and respected the
Imam. Ma'moun narrated: "Imam Kazim (a.s.) was coming on a horseback when he
arrived the area Haroun was sitting. Imam decided to get down, but Haroun
pledged that the Imam should go to his site mounted on the horse. He respected
the Imam and exchanged views with him. When the Imam decided to leave, Haroun
asked me [Ma'moun] and Amin to help the Imam mount his horse." Interestingly,
according to this tradition, Ma'moun says: "my father presented 5,000 or 10,000
dinars or drachmas to everybody, but 200 drachmas to Musa bin Ja'far." This is
while he had asked about Imam's condition, and the Imam complained' about his
difficulties, harsh condition of life and great number of children. Such
statements and remarks of Imam Kazim (a.s.) in front of Haroun are very
interesting and understandable, particularly for those who have experienced
precautionary dissimulation during the struggles at our time. Imam tells a
person like Haroun that his condition is not good and adds that he cannot make
both ends meet. There is no humbleness or loss of face in such statements of the
Imam, because you as the combatants at the period of Shah of Iran - have made
such remarks during the repression and oppression of the tyranny of Shah. It is
but natural for activists to deceit the enemy about their activities, conditions
and works. Given these remarks, Haroun should have given the Imam some 50,000
drachmas to overcome his economic difficulties, but he gives the Imam only 200
drachmas. Ma'moun says: "when I asked the reason from my father, he said, if I
had paid him the large amount, possibly he would recruit hundred thousand
swordmen of his Shiites and friends to fight against me."
Haroun's conclusion was right. I think he had understood the Imam correctly.
Some thinkers argue that Haroun's conclusion was based on aspersion against the
Imam, but the fact is that he had realized the intention and contention of the
Imam. When Imam Musa was fighting against Haroun, there were a number of people
who were ready to stand on his side, but the Imam could not finance his
struggle. We have observed such armed struggles in the case of the sons and
grandsons of the infallible Imams. Definitely, the Imams could mobilize the
people better than their sons. Hence, the era of Musa ibn Ja'far (a.s.) is the
peak of struggle, which finally leads to his imprisonment.