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Stories from the Life of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (a)

Stories from the Life of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (a) Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (the word Baqir meaning he who cuts and dissects, a title given to him by the Prophet) was the son of the Fourth Imam and was born in 57/675. He was present at the event of Karbala when he was four years old. After his father, through Divine Command and the decree of those who went before him, he became Imam. Imam Al-Baqir managed to collect the teachings and reforms of the Holy Prophet and his AhlulBayt in the form of books. His pupils compiled books on different branches of science and arts under his instructions and guidance. In the excellence of his personal purity and godly traits, Imam Al-Baqir was a model of the Holy Prophet and his great grandfather, Ali ibn Abi Talib. His admonitions created a spiritual sensation among the Muslims in general. He was not only hospitable even to his worst enemies but also used to continually exhort them to the right path. He urged people to earn their livelihood by their own hard work. The Holy Imam gave much importance to convening gatherings in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn.

Charity

Hasan ibn Kuthayr reports: I was complaining about indigence and unkindness of
brothers-in-faith to Imam al-Baqir (a.s) who said, “A brother who is fond of you
when you are rich, but cuts off his relations with you when you are in need, is
a bad brother!” Then the Imam ordered his slave to give me a purse of seven
hundred Dirhams, saying, “Spend this for the moment and inform me when it comes
to and end.”[1]

Benevolence

The companions of Imam al-Baqir (a.s) report: the Imam allowed us to give away
between five hundred and six hundred thousand Dirhams and he was never tired of
giving gifts to brethren, emissaries and those who had set their hope on him.[2]

Forbearance With A Christian

Imam Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn al-Husayn had the title of Baqir, that is to say ‘One
who analyzes’. He was called Baqir al-`Ulum meaning one who analyzes the
knowledge. A Christian, in a mockery and ironic way playing on words of Baqir,
misinterpreted to Baqara called him, “You are Baqara (cow)!” Without expressing
any annoyance or anger, the Imam replied calmly, “No, I am not baqara but I am
Baqir.” The Christian said, “You are the son of a lady-cook.” The Imam said in
reply, “It was her job, which is not considered an insult or disgrace to her
personality.” The Christian said, “Your mother was black, immodest and had an
abusive tongue.” The Imam said, “If whatever you attribute to my mother is true,
I pray Allah to forgive her and absolve her sins, and if it is a lie, may Allah
forgive you for your lies and slander.”

Observing such a clemency from a person who had the authority to submit a
non-Muslim to different persecutions was sufficient to provoke a revolution in
the soul of the Christian and invite him towards Islam. Later on, he embraced
Islam.[3]

Hospitality

Salma, a slave-girl of Imam al-Baqir (a.s), reports: the Imam’s
brothers-in-faith would always come to visit him and the Imam too, received them
with the best food, gave them a good garment and Dinars. I said to the Imam,
“You will become needy as a result of this generosity!” The Imam would say, “O
Salma! Good deeds are but giving gifts to brothers-in-faith and praiseworthy
deeds. Imam al-Baqir would allow between five and six hundred thousand Dirhams
to be given away to brothers-in-faith. He would never get tired of associating
with his brethren, saying, “Recognize the actuality of the friendship of your
brothers-in-faith from the feelings you have in your hearth towards him.” He was
never heard calling anybody with disgraceful names; he would rather call them
with their best names.[4]

Wife’s Rights

Hasan Zayyat of Basrah reports: My friend and I went to the presence of Imam al-Baqir
while he was sitting in a well-decorated room with a purple mantle on his
shoulder. He had trimmed his beard and blackened his eyes with kohl. I was full
of questions. Realizing this, the Imam said, “Hasan! You and your friend may
come to me tomorrow.” I said, “Very well, may I be your ransom!” The next day,
we went to see him. He was sitting on a mat and wearing coarse clothes. He
turned to my friend and said, “O brother of Basrah! When you came to me
yesterday, I was in my wife’s room. It was her turn. The room was hers as well
as all the articles. She had made up herself for me and I had to make up myself
for her. Don’t give way to gloomy thought about me.” My friend said, “May I be
your ransom. By Allah, something passed in my mind but Allah removed it now and
I know that truth lies in what you said.”[5]

Praying Together

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) has reported: Any time an event saddened my father, he would
gather women and children and then raise his hands in prayer and they would say
Amen.[6]

Surrender To Allah

A group of people went to the presence of Imam al-Baqir (a.s). This visit
coincided with the illness of one of his children. They found him sad and
restless. They said, “By Allah, if anything happens to him, we might see from
him what we do not approve of.” It was not long time when they heard the Imam
wailing. He came back to his friends with open face. They said to him, “May we
be your ransom! We were afraid that if something happened we would see you more
sorrowful.” The Imam said, “We would like to see one whom we love safe and sound
but there is Allah’s decree, we will surrender to what He loves.”[7]

Prayer At Night

Quoting Imam al-Sadiq (a.s), Ishaq ibn `Ammar has reported: I was spreading my
father’s bed and waiting for him to come. When he would go to his bed and sleep,
then I would go to mine. One night, he was late. I went to the mosque to look
for him. While all people had gone home, I found him alone in the mosque in
prostration. I heard his lamentation, saying,

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبِّي حَقّاً حَقّاً. سَجَدْتُ لَكَ يَا رَبِّ تَعَبُّداً
وَرِقّاً. أللَّهُمَّ إنَّ عَمَلِي ضَعِيفٌ فَضَاعِفْهُ لِي. أللَّهُمَّ قِنِي
عَذَابَكَ يَوْمَ تَبْعَثُ عِبَادَكَ، وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ إنَّكَ أنْتَ التَّوَّابُ
الرَّحِيمُ.

Glory be to You, O my Lord, with true glory! I am prostrating myself before You,
O my God, worshipping and serving You! O Allah! My deed is weak; (please) double
its reward. O Lord! Preserve me from Your punishment when You resurrect Your
servants. Accept my repentance for You are the best Accepter of repentance and
the most Merciful.[8]

Notes:

[1] Al-Irshad by al-Mufid: 166/2.
[2] Al-Irshad by al-Mufid: 167/2.
[3] Al-Manaqib: 207/4.
[4] Kashf al-Ghummah: 118/2.
[5] Al-Kafi: 448/6, H 13.
[6] Al-Kafi: 487/2, H 3.
[7] Al-Kafi: 226/3, H 14.
[8] Al-Kafi: 323/3, H 9.

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