A short biography of The Imam Musa al-Kazim ('a)
The Imam was son to the sixth Shiite Imam, Ja’far al-Sadiq, and Hamidah. He was born in Abuwa, a small city on the outskirts of Medina, in the year 128 Hijri. The Imam held the title al-Kazim which he was more commonly known by.
The Imam assumed the divinely appointed position of Imamah in the year 148, when his father was martyred, making him the seventh Shiite Imam. He himself was martyred in either the year 183 Hijri or 186 Hijri.
The Imam al-Kazim lived during the time of the following rulers:
- Mansur Dawaniqi (136-158)
- Muhammad, popularly known as Mahdi (158-169)
- Hadi (169-170)
- Hārūn (170-193)
Imam al-Kazim’s (‘a) method of dealing with Hārūn
Hārūn was extremely unhappy by the fact that even with all his power and influence, he felt the hearts of the people were still with Imam al-Kazim. He tried tirelessly and desperately to eradicate this spiritual influence and penetration of Imam in the people’s hearts. It was unbearable to him that he was getting daily reports of the people secretly paying their religious dues to the Imam Musa al-Kazim, and through this action were showing their opposition to the Abbasid government and recognizing the right of the Imam to rule. It was for this reason that when he saw the Imam by the Ka`ba he said to him “Is it you that the people secretly pay allegiance to and take as their leader?” The Imam (‘a) replied “I rule over the hearts of the people, while you rule over their bodies”.
Hārūn would openly claim a relationship to the Holy Prophet (saw) and used every opportunity to express his claims. On one occasion he entered the city of Medina and went to visit the grave of the Prophet (saw). When he arrived at the shrine of the Prophet he saw a group of people from amongst the Quraysh and other tribes had gathered there, Hārūn used this opportunity and turned towards the grave of the Prophet (saw) and said “Salutations on you O Prophet of God! Salutations on you O cousin!” He had intended to make it known to the people present that he was related to the Holy Prophet (saw) as a cousin, and this was a source of pride for him. It so happened that The Imam Musa ibn Ja`far happened to be amongst the crowd of people and he understood what Hārūn was trying to do, so he approached the grave of the Prophet (saw) and said loudly “Salutations on you O Prophet of God, Salutations on you O father!”. This infuriated Hārūn so much so that he became red in the face and without thought said “this is truly something to be proud of”. By constantly reminding people of his family relation to the prophet, Hārūn was not only trying to win their hearts but also simultaneously trying to discredit the Imams. Once he said to Imam Kazim: “How can you claim to be from the children of the Prophet when in reality you are from the children of Ali, and every person’s lineage returns back to their paternal grandparents, not their maternal”. Imam Kazim (‘a) replied using a verse from the Holy Qur’an ‘...and from his (Ibrahims) offspring, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron, Thus do We reward the virtuous. And Zechariah, John, Jesus and Ilyas, each of them among the righteous. He went on to explain the verse sighting that in it Jesus had been counted amongst the children of the previous Prophets, even though he was related to them through his mother, not his father. In the same way, he explained, we (the Ahl al-Bayt) are related to and counted as the children of the Prophet (saw) through our mother Fatima (s). Hārūn could say nothing in the face of this Qur’anic reasoning. In another similar debate where Hārūn asked the same question, the Imam replied using a different method, he asked Hārūn “If the Prophet were to come back to life and ask for your daughters hand in marriage, would you accept?” to which Hārūn replied “Not only would I accept, but I would boast of this honor to all the Arabs and non-Arabs” The Imam stunned him by continuing as such “However, this is not true for us, nor would the Prophet (saw) ask for our daughters in marriage, nor would we give them to him”, when asked why? He replied “Because i am from the lineage of the Prophet, so such a marriage would be unlawful, however you are not from his lineage, hence it would be lawful for you.”
In another encounter between the seventh Imam (‘a) and Hārūn Rashid took place in one of the caliph’s grand palaces in Baghdad. Hārūn in trying to show off to the Imam about his palace asked him about the owner of this majestic building, the Imam without showing any attraction or giving any importance to the grandness of the building replied “this is the home of a corrupt person, it is about such people that God speaks about in the Qur’an saying ‘Soon I shall turn away from My signs those who act arrogantly on the earth: though they should see every sign, they will [still] not believe in it, and if they see the way of righteousness they will not s e l e c t it as [their] way, and if they see the way of error they will take it as [their] way. That is because they deny Our signs and are oblivious towards them .’” Hārūn became so enraged that he almost lost his composure, in spite he asked again who the palace belonged to, the Imam (‘a) not backing down from his stance said this time “This house belongs to our partisans and followers; however others have forcefully and oppressively taken it from them” Hārūn replied “if it belongs to your followers than why doesn’t the owner of this building...” to which the Imam quickly replied “This house was snatched from its original owner, and whenever the original owner is able to do so, he will take it back”.
There are more about Imam al-Kazim's noble life here: