Ali Salami

Discourse on Jafar Sadiq b. Muhammed from Attar’s Hagiography of Muslim Saints

Imam Jafar Sadiq was born into a lineage of profound Islamic scholars, being the great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He received his early education from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, and was exposed to diverse schools of thought, laying the foundation for his extensive knowledge and wisdom.

Imam Jafar Sadiq’s scholarly contributions encompass various fields such as theology, law, astronomy, medicine, and chemistry. He is notably credited with founding the Ja’fari school of thought, which has significantly shaped Shia Islamic jurisprudence. His teachings emphasized the rationality of faith, moral ethics, and the pursuit of knowledge, which remain pivotal in Islamic education today.

Discourse on Jafar Sadiq b. Muhammed

Jafar Sadiq bin Muhammad, the Sultan of the Mustafa religion, the proof of prophethood, the truthful one, the true scholar, the fruit of the heart of the saints, the closest companion of the prophets, the heir of Ali’s knowledge and the heir of the Prophet. The Lover and Knower, Abu Muhammad Jafar Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him) (148/765).

If we were to engage in a discourse on the esteemed Prophets, their companions and the revered Ahl al-Bayt, it would truly require the writing of an entire tome. As indicated earlier, this particular endeavor is about outlining the state and conditions of a select group and the shaykhs who succeeded them. Nevertheless, let us begin this work by invoking the name of Jafar Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him) and thus invoke divine blessings on this humble endeavor. For he was the successor of the famous companions and the most vocal advocate of the Sufi path within the Ahl al-Bayt. There is a wealth of tradition about his revered character. Therefore, I will now present a brief account of His Eminence. However, it is my duty to emphasize that they, the Ahl al-Bayt, are indivisible in their essence. To mention one is to embrace them all.

Are those who faithfully adhere to the school of his thought not considered followers of the revered Madhhab of the twelve Imams? Obviously, the axiom “One is twelve” and “Twelve is one” is true. If I endeavored to describe only his noble qualities, mere words would not suffice to capture their greatness. He was at the pinnacle of knowledge, endowed with extraordinary signs and expressions, without any pretense or guile. He served as the preeminent leader for all the sheikhs and enjoyed the unwavering trust of all. He was the supreme leader, the Sheikh of the Sufis, the Imam of the Muslims, the model of insight for people of refined taste, the guiding light for ardent lovers, the vanguard of worshippers and the esteemed role model among ascetics. His profound influence extended into the esoteric realms of truths. He was a master of subtle interpretation and exegesis without equal. Bakir (may Allah be pleased with him) was credited with countless profound utterances that attest to his incomparable wisdom and insight.

It is indeed confusing to contemplate a distinction between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah, the followers of the Prophetic tradition and consensus, and the Ahl al-Bayt, the noble family of the Prophet and their faithful followers. Verily, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah includes the Ahl al-Bayt in its embrace. I cannot fathom what leads a person into such erroneous delusions. However, I maintain that the one who professes faith in Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) but does not recognize his cherished family and progeny has not truly grasped the essence of faith in Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).

Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah’s mercy be upon him), driven by his deep love for the Ahl al-Bayt, was wrongly imprisoned because he was falsely associated with the term “Rafida [1]”, which is often used pejoratively for the Shia. He expressed his feelings eloquently in poetic verse:

“If it is Rafidism to love the family of Muhammad,

Then I testify, both man and jinn, that I am a Rafidi.”

Let us assume that familiarity with the Prophet’s family and companions is not an essential prerequisite for faith. However, countless facets of knowledge are acquired even though they have no immediate practical benefit. Indeed, it is only fitting that if one recognizes Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) as the ruler of both this temporal world and the eternal hereafter, one must also recognize the rightful positions of his viziers, companions and family members. Thus, one can truly wrap the mantle of a Sunni with an immaculate creed. Unless there are legitimate reasons not to, one should not harbor prejudice or animosity towards close associates of the ruler, be they companions or family members.

Allow me to draw an analogy to further clarify this matter: Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him) was once asked the question, “Which of those who are close to the Prophet is the superior?” He answered aptly: “Among the older companions, it is Abu Bakr and Umar; among the younger ones, it is Uthman and Ali; among the daughters, it is Fatimah; among the wives, it is Aisha (may Allah be pleased with them all).”

It is reported that one night, in a moment of error, the caliph Mansur ordered his vizier: “Go out, arrest Sadiq and bring him to me so that I can execute him.” The vizier, wise in his counsel, replied: “He has retired, devoted his existence to worship and withdrawn from worldly affairs. No harm can come from him to the Commander of the Faithful. Disturbing his solitude would bring no benefit.”

The vizier’s words did not seem to hold water, for he left without bringing Sadiq as ordered. At that moment, Mansur, the caliph, turned to his servants and ordered, “If Sadiq enters, I will take off my hat and then kill him immediately,” was his order. When the vizier introduced Sadiq to Mansur, the caliph immediately rose from his seat, rushed to Sadiq, took him by the hand and placed him in the place of honor, while he himself humbly knelt and sat before him. The servants were astonished at this unexpected turn of events. Mansur turned to Sadiq and said, “What is your request? Ask me for anything you want.” Sadiq replied humbly, “My request is that you never summon me again and give me the freedom to devote myself to the worship and obedience of Almighty Allah.” The caliph agreed to his request, treated him with the utmost respect and hospitality and bade him farewell.

But at that very moment, Mansur was suddenly struck by a tremor, his head drooped and he lost consciousness. This state lasted for three days, or according to another tradition, for three prayer times. When Mansur regained consciousness, his vizier asked: “What has happened to you, my lord?” The caliph reported: “When Sadiq entered, I saw a terrifying dragon spanning the hall from floor to ceiling. He warned me with the words: ‘If anything happens to him, I will devour both you and this entire hall. Overwhelmed by the presence of this dragon, I begged Sadiq for forgiveness, but my powers were also caught in his grip!”

It is reported that Davud Tai came to Sadiq on one occasion and pleaded with him, “O grandson of the Messenger of Allah! Offer me guidance, for my heart is shrouded in darkness.” Sadiq replied as follows:

“O Davud! You are known as a righteous person of your time. What need do you have for my advice?”

“O grandson of the Prophet! Your lineage gives you superiority over all, and it is incumbent upon you to advise all.”

“O Davud! I fear that my ancestor Muhammad (peace be upon him) will grab my hand on the Day of Judgment and ask, ‘Why did you not fulfill the duty of following in my footsteps?’ This matter goes beyond mere kinship or lineage; it demands behavior befitting the divine presence!” When Davud Tai heard these words, he wept and exclaimed, “O Divine One! If a person whose essence is interwoven with the waters of prophethood and whose maternal grandmother is the Pure Fatima feels such reverence, how can Davud boast about his own actions and behavior?”

It is reported that one day, as Sadiq was sitting with his companions, he suggested: “Let us make a pact that the one of us who is saved on the Day of Judgement will intercede for the rest of us!”

“O descendant of the Messenger of Allah! Why do you need our intercession? Your ancestor is the intercessor for all of creation!”

“I, who possess such and such virtues, am ashamed to even see the face of my Lord on the Day of Resurrection.”

It is reported that Jafar Sadiq withdrew into seclusion for a while and no longer ventured outside. Sufyan Sevri came to his house and asked, “Why did you withdraw and deprive people of the blessings and benefits of your presence?” Sadiq replied, “Times have deteriorated and the true nature of people’s words has been exposed.” He then recited the following couplet:

Like a fleeting day, loyalty has vanished,

Some chase illusions, others vain hopes.

Outwardly, they show friendship and loyalty,

But in their hearts lies the poison of scorpions!

It is also reported that Sadiq was once seen wearing a valuable garment and someone remarked, “O descendant of the Messenger of Allah! These clothes do not fit your belonging to the Ahl al-Bayt (House of the Prophet).” Sadiq then grabbed the questioner’s hand and slipped it under his cloak, revealing a coarse garment underneath, and he said:

The clothes worn for the people are obvious,

While the garment worn for the divine remains hidden.

It is reported that someone said to Sadiq: “You have asceticism, inner generosity and numerous virtues, but you show great pride.” Sadiq replied: “It is not I who am proud, but pride comes from the Divine and His greatness. When I free myself from my own pride, His magnificence comes and takes its place. It is not appropriate for me to be proud with my own pride, but it is appropriate for me to be proud with His magnificence!”

Poems by Rumi

It is narrated that Sadiq Abu Hanifa asked the following question: “Who is considered intelligent?” “The one who can distinguish between good and evil,” he replied. Sadiq replied: “Even animals can distinguish between the one who beats them and the one who feeds them. So who do you think is really intelligent?” Abu Hanifa inquired further. Sadiq replied: “The one who distinguishes between two goods and two evils and chooses the better of the two goods and the lesser of the two evils.”

It is also reported that a man who had lost his gold bag came to Sadiq, grabbed him by the collar and accused him of theft without properly investigating the matter. Sadiq asked, “How many gold coins were in your bag?” The man replied, “A thousand gold coins.” Sadiq then took the man into his house and counted a thousand gold coins into his hand.

Later, the person who had discovered the gold coins he had mistakenly taken returned them to Sadiq and admitted his mistake. Sadiq, sticking to his principle, explained: “We do not take back what we have given.” The man then inquired about the identity of another person. When Jafar Sadiq received the answer, he felt a new sense of satisfaction.

According to one account, Sadiq was walking on a lonely road, engrossed in contemplation of the divine, and kept shouting, “Allah Allah!” A distraught individual followed him, repeating the same invocation. Sadiq pleaded, “O Allah! I am missing a coat. O Allah! I lack a robe,” and amazingly, a magnificent robe materialized, which Imam Jafar gracefully donned. When the worried man saw this spectacle, he approached and pleaded, “Lord, I testify that Allah is your companion. Please give me your former clothes.” Sadiq found comfort in this act of humility and offered the person his former clothes.

Another account describes someone seeking Sadiq’s presence and asking him, “Reveal Allah to me.” Sadiq promptly replied, “Are you not aware that Moses was told, ‘You cannot recognize me’ (Qur’an 7:143)?” The man confirmed: “Indeed, I know that statement, but that is the belief of Muhammad. You see, one proclaims, ‘My heart has seen my Lord’, while the other vehemently declares, ‘I will not worship a Lord I have not seen’.” Sadiq sternly ordered, “Bind this person and throw him into the river.” The person was then tied up and thrown into the waters of the Tigris. At first he sank and disappeared under the surface of the water, only to surface again shortly afterwards. Desperate, he called out: “Help, O descendant of the Prophet! Help!” Sadiq then ordered: “O water, swallow him up!” The water submerged him. When he resurfaced, he called out: “O descendant of the Messenger of Allah, help, help!” Sadiq ordered again: “O water! Submerge him.” The man was submerged once more. This cycle of submersion and resurfacing was repeated several times as the man clung to life.

As the man began to lose hope, he cried out, “Help me, O Divine One, help me!” Moved by this plea, Sadiq announced: “Bring him back.” The man was then rescued from the water and had some time to recover. He was then asked: “Have you perceived Allah?” He replied,

“As long as I sought refuge and relied on the worldly means and asked them for help, the veils remained intact. However, when I was in a state of utter despair and turned to Him with all my heart, a window opened in my heart and I saw what I was looking for! As it says: ‘Who answers the desperate when they call out to Him? (Qur’an 27:62). This realization only came to me when I reached a state of absolute helplessness.” Sadiq turned to him and said, “O sincere person, as long as you have expressed what you have done, you have been in a state of falsehood. Now turn your attention to this window. The realm of the exalted and sublime Allah exists in it, in the deepest depths. Anyone who claims that the Mighty and Majestic Allah is ‘on something’ or ‘in something’ or ‘a thing’ is considered a disbeliever.”

Sadiq formulated the following statement:

“Every sin that arises from fear and culminates in repentance leads the servant to Allah. Conversely, every act of worship that begins with complacency and ends with arrogance removes the servant from Allah. The self-righteous and obedient person is in reality rebellious, while the repentant rebel is truly obedient.”

When Sadiq was asked about the superiority between a patient poor man and a grateful rich man, he replied:

“Undoubtedly, the patient poor person has a higher rank. While the heart of the wealthy person is attached to his material possessions, the heart of the poor person is devoted to Allah.”

He emphasized: “Worship without repentance is invalid”,” because Allah Almighty has made repentance a prerequisite for worship. Allah says: “The repentant, the worshippers” (Surah At-Tawbah, 112).

And further: “To mention repentance during the remembrance of Allah is to pay no attention to remembrance.” True remembrance of Allah means forgetting everything else in His presence so as not to associate anything with Him.

With regard to the verse “I bestow My mercy on whom I will”,” he emphasized that His mercy is bestowed explicitly on whom He wills, without intermediaries, causes or means, so that people recognize it as a pure gift.

He taught: “The believer is the one who fights against his own ego, while the knower is the one who stands with his Lord.”

He also advised: “He who fights against his ego for his ego attains miracles, and he who fights against his ego for Allah attains Allah.”

Poems by Hafiz

He explained: “Inspiration is one of the characteristics of the accepted, while the pursuit of arguments without inspiration is a sign of the rejected.”

He described: “The cunning of Allah in His servant is more hidden than an ant walking on a black stone in a dark night.”

He proclaimed, “Divine love is divine madness, beyond condemnation or praise.” He affirmed this realization when others thought he was mad.

He shared, “It is fortunate for a person whose opponent is wise.” He also warned against the company of five people: a habitual liar whose deception constantly leads you astray; a fool who unwittingly harms you in due time; a miser who takes the best from you when you need it most; a malicious person who abandons you in times of need; and an iniquitous person who sells you out for petty gain.

When asked what is meant by “less than a morsel,” he replied, “The greed for it.”

He explained, “Allah Almighty encompasses both Paradise and Hell in this world. Paradise manifests itself as well-being, while Hell manifests itself as misery. Well-being is achieved by entrusting one’s affairs to Allah, while misery comes when one’s ego takes control.”

He said: “Those who have no secrets suffer harm. If the conversations of the enemies were harmful, the friends of Allah would have been harmed by Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. If the conversations of the friends of Allah were beneficial, the enemies would have benefited from the wives of Noah and Lot. But these conversations only entail a restriction or expansion.”

He concluded: “These are only some of his teachings; his words are numerous, but we have given a glimpse.”

[1] The term “Rafida” is used to refer to Shia Muslims who reject the rule of the first two Rashidun caliphs, Abubakr and Umar. However, it is important to note that the use of this term varies among Islamic scholars. Some scholars specifically associate it with certain extremist sects within Shia Islam, known as Ghulat, who not only reject the first two caliphs but also openly denigrate them. In Sunni Islam, Abubakr and Umar are highly revered companions of the Prophet and occupy an important place. There is a profound discourse among Sunni scholars about the extent to which the term “Rafida” can be applied to Shia Muslims in general. The eminent Sunni scholar Ibn Taymiyyah strongly condemned the rafida, seeing them as individuals who follow their desires, possess ignorance and promote oppression, and thus considering them the worst in this regard. It is important to approach these discussions with an understanding of the historical and theological context and to recognize the diversity of beliefs and practices within the Shi’a community.

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