Thul-Hujjah: Martyrdom of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him)
A Glimpse into his Life
From Birth until Imamate
Both of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir's parents were grandchildren of Lady Fatima
(peace be upon her). His father was Ali son of Hussein, and his mother was
Fatima daughter of Hassan. He lived for four years with his grandfather, Imam
Hussein (peace be upon him), and he was present at Karbala and witnessed all of
the stages of that tragedy. He also beheld the heroic stands of his father and
Lady Zainab (peace be upon her), his father’s aunt.
He spent 35 years in proximity to
his father and learned from him until he became an intellectual figure whom
everyone acknowledged- even those who were not among his followers. They
resorted to him for 19 years which were the duration of his Imamate.
The Relation of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon
him) with the Caliphs
The first phase of the life of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon
him) which he spent with his father Imam Ali Al-Sajjad (peace be upon him) was
marked by the Umayyads' oppression of people.
The Imamate of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) commenced during the
reign of Al-Walid Ibn Abdul Malik. This Caliph was succeeded by Omar son of
Abdul ‘Aziz whose demeanor was characterized by some fairness toward the
Household of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his Household). He
prevented the practice of cursing Imam Ali (peace be upon him) on platforms
which the Umayyad dynasty had followed by the order of Mu’awiyah. The subsequent
Caliph was Yazid Ibn Abdul Malik who occupied himself with living a life of
ostentation, levity, and dissipation.
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) guided and directed the Caliphs.
Likewise was the relation of Imam Ali son of Abu Talib (peace be upon him) with
the Caliphs during his time. The Imam exchanged many letters with Omar Ibn Abdul
‘Aziz in which he enclosed political guidelines and important instructions.
He advised Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan who consulted him concerning the issue of the
circulation of Byzantine currency by Muslims, and which the Byzantines made use
of as a means to put pressure on the Caliphate. Abdul Malik had quarreled with
the Byzantine ruler who threatened to inscribe phrases of insult to Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him and his Household) on the coins if Abdul Malik did
not acquiesce to his orders and consent to fulfill his wishes. Abdul Malik was
unable to bear with this issue and did not know what to do. Thus, Imam Muhammad
Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) directed him to produce Islamic coins. This saved
the Muslims from dependence on the Byzantines and they ensured their own
The Scholarly Role of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be
If we want to know the scholarly role of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon
him), we should refer to his famous title: “Al-Baqir” which was given to him by
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his Household). Jaber son of Abdullah
Al-Ansari, the venerable companion of Prophet Muhammad, said: “The Messenger of
God (peace be upon him and his family) said to me: “It is imminent that you will
remain alive until you meet a descendant of mine through Hussein. He will be
called Muhammad and he will tear knowledge [open]. When you meet him, give him
my salutation [of peace].”
When Jaber grew very old, he feared that he would die before meeting Imam
Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him). He would say: “O Baqir, O Baqir! Where
are you?” When he finally met him, he fell at his feet kissing the Imam’s hands
and feet, saying: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you. You are
similar to the Messenger of God (peace be upon him and his Household)! Your
father gives you [his] salutation of peace.”
The Role of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him)
Every Imam strove to preserve Islam, spread the teachings of religion, and
expose truths to people as much as the surrounding circumstances allowed. Imam
Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him) proceeded on this path through following a
series of measures:
1-Intellectual and Doctrinal Reform: The
Imam (peace be upon him) refuted the concepts which the deviant groups spread in
his time such as the Ghulat and the Heretics. This contributed to making some of
them repent. He also arranged gatherings for discussion with people of other
religions and with Muslim scholars with different viewpoints such as Hassan Al-Basri.
2-Establishment of the Seminary of the Household (peace be upon them):
The Imam (peace be upon him) was able to clearly display in front of all people
– even those who did not believe in his Imamate- that the Household of Prophet
Muhammad were the True Source of knowledge. He established a seminary for
teaching Islamic jurisprudence. Thousands of scholars from different Islamic
sects and the most prominent of Shiite transmitters of narrations – such as
Zurara Ibn A’yan, Muhammad son of Muslim Al-Thakafi, and Jaber son of Yazid Al-Ju’fi
among others – graduated from this seminary.
3-Political Activity: The Imam (peace be
upon him) pursued an indirect method in opposing the ruling political system. He
did this through teaching people to know their roles and duties in their current
circumstances. He followed the process of enjoining righteousness and forbidding
evil through spreading correct political concepts such as forbidding giving aid
to oppressors and revealing the deviation of the authority from the path of
The Imam did not express his point of view concerning the military revolts
against the ruling system because he assessed that those revolts would not
succeed in bringing change.
The Martyrdom of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon
When Hisham Ibn Abdul-Malek assumed command, his rule was a return to terror and
oppression. The policy of persecution and torment led to the revolt of the
Martyr Zayd son of Imam Ali Al-Sajjad (peace be upon him) who was martyred with
his companions and his body was burned.
Hisham also persecuted the students
of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be upon him), but those unjust measures did not
prevent the increase in Islamic awakening and religious awareness among people.
Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik ordered the poisoning of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (peace be
upon him). Thus, the Imam was martyred in the path of Allah - a patient man, a
struggler, and a martyr.
 Rayshahre, Muhammad, The
Balance of Wisdom, volume 1, 162