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 Muhammed, 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 inheritor of Ali’s knowledge, and the heir of the Prophet. The lover and the knower, Abu Muhammed Jafar Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him) (148/765).

If perchance we were to embark upon a discourse concerning the esteemed prophets, their companions, and the revered Ahl al-Bayt, verily it would necessitate the composition of an entire tome. As it has been previously alluded, this particular endeavor concerns itself with expounding upon the state and conditions of a select group and the sheikhs who succeeded them. Nevertheless, let us commence this labor by invoking the name of Jafar Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him), thereby invoking divine blessings upon this humble effort. For he succeeded the illustrious companions, and within the Ahl al-Bayt, he was the most vocal proponent of the Sufi path. A plethora of narrations have emanated from his revered being. Thus, I shall now present a brief account of his eminence. Yet, it is incumbent upon me to emphasize that they, the Ahl al-Bayt, are indivisible in their essence. To mention one is to embrace them all.

Behold, those who faithfully adhere to the school of his thought, are they not regarded as adherents of the revered madhhab of the twelve imams? Manifestly, the axiom “one is twelve” and “twelve is one” rings true. Were I to endeavor solely to depict his noble qualities, mere words would fail to aptly encapsulate their magnitude. He resided at the pinnacle of knowledge, endowed with extraordinary signs and expressions, devoid of any pretense or artifice. He served as the preeminent guide for all sheikhs, commanding unwavering trust from all. He was the supreme leader, the sheikh of Sufis, the imam of the Muslims, the paragon of discernment for people of refined taste, the guiding light for ardent lovers, the vanguard of worshippers, and the esteemed exemplar among ascetics. His profound influence extended to the esoteric realms of truths, unparalleled in his mastery of subtle interpretations and exegesis. Countless profound utterances have been attributed to Bakir (may Allah be pleased with him), further testifying to his unparalleled wisdom and insight.

Perplexing indeed is the state of one’s mind when entertaining the notion of a distinction between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah, the adherents of the Prophetic tradition and consensus, and the Ahl al-Bayt, the noble family of the Prophet and their devoted followers. Verily, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah encompasses within its embrace the Ahl al-Bayt. What leads one astray into such fallacious delusions, I cannot fathom. However, I do assert that whoever professes belief in Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) yet fails to acknowledge his esteemed family and progeny, has not truly grasped the essence of belief in Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him).

Behold, Imam Abu Hanifa (may the mercy of Allah be upon him), driven by his profound love for the Ahl al-Bayt, found himself unjustly imprisoned due to erroneous associations with the term “Rafida[1]” often used pejoratively to describe the Shi’a. In poetic verse, he eloquently expressed his sentiment:

“If loving the family of Muhammad is Rafidism,

Then I bear witness, both humans and jinn, that I am a Rafidi.”

Let us assume that familiarity with the family and companions of the Prophet is not an essential prerequisite for faith. However, innumerable facets of knowledge are acquired despite their lack of immediate practical utility. Indeed, it is only fitting that when one acknowledges Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) as the ruler of both this temporal world and the everlasting Hereafter, one must also acknowledge the rightful positions of his viziers, companions, and family members. Thus, one may truly embrace the mantle of a Sunni with an unblemished creed. Unless legitimate reasons dictate otherwise, one ought not harbor prejudice or enmity towards any close associates of the ruler, be they companions or family members.

Allow me to draw an analogy to elucidate this matter further: Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him) was once posed with the query, “Among those close to the Prophet, who holds superiority?” He aptly replied, “Among the elder companions, it is Abu Bakr and Umar; among the younger, 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 narrated that one night, Caliph Mansur, in a moment of misguided intent, commanded his vizier, “Go forth, apprehend Sadiq, and bring him before me, that I may execute him.” The vizier, wise in his counsel, responded, “He has secluded himself, devoting his existence to worship and withdrawing from worldly affairs. No harm can befall the Commander of the Faithful from him. Disturbing his solitude would yield no benefit.”

The vizier’s words seemed to hold no sway, as he departed without bringing Sadiq as instructed. In that moment, Mansur, the caliph, turned to his servants and commanded, “Upon Sadiq’s entrance, I shall remove my hat and then proceed to slay him without delay,” such were his orders. When the vizier presented Sadiq before Mansur, the caliph promptly rose from his seat and hastened towards Sadiq, taking him by the hand and seating him in the place of honor, while he himself humbly knelt and sat before him. The servants stood in astonishment, witnessing this unexpected turn of events. Mansur addressed Sadiq, saying, “What is your request? Ask of me whatever you desire.” Sadiq replied with humility, “My request is that you never summon me again and grant me the freedom to devote myself to the worship and obedience of the Almighty Allah.” The caliph acquiesced to his plea, treating him with utmost respect and hospitality, bidding him farewell.

However, at that very moment, Mansur was suddenly seized by trembling, his head bowed low, and he lost consciousness. This state persisted for three days, or according to another account, for a duration encompassing three prayer times. When Mansur regained consciousness, his vizier inquired, “What has befallen you, my lord?” The caliph recounted, “When Sadiq entered, I beheld a fearsome dragon, spanning the hall from floor to ceiling. It warned me, saying, ‘If any harm comes to him, I shall devour both you and this entire hall.’ Overwhelmed by the presence of this dragon, I pleaded for forgiveness from Sadiq, yet my faculties were also ensnared in its grip!”

It is narrated that on one occasion, Davud Tai approached Sadiq and beseeched, “O Grandson of the Messenger of Allah! Offer me guidance, for my heart has become shrouded in darkness.” Sadiq responded in the following manner:

“O Davud! You are renowned as a righteous individual of your era. What need do you have for my counsel?”

“O Grandson of the Prophet! Your lineage grants you superiority over all, and it is incumbent upon you to offer guidance to all.”

“O Davud! I fear that on the Day of Judgment, my ancestor Muhammad (peace be upon him) will take hold of my hand and question, ‘Why did you not fulfill the obligations of following in my footsteps?’ This matter extends beyond mere relation or lineage; it demands a conduct befitting the Divine Presence!” Upon hearing these words, Davud Tai 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 awe, how then can Davud boast about his own actions and conduct?”

It is narrated that one day, while seated among his companions, Sadiq proposed, “Let us make a pact among ourselves that whosoever among us is saved on the Day of Judgment shall intercede for the rest of us!”

“O Descendant of the Messenger of Allah! What need have you for our intercession? Surely, your ancestor is the intercessor for all of creation!”

“As the possessor of such and such virtues, I myself feel ashamed to even gaze upon the countenance of my Lord on the Day of Judgment.”

It is narrated that for a period of time, Jafar Sadiq withdrew into seclusion and refrained from venturing outside. Sufyan Sevri came to his abode and inquired, “Why have you secluded yourself, depriving people of the blessings and benefits of your presence?” Sadiq responded, “The times have declined, and the true nature of people’s words has been laid bare.” He then recited the following couplet:

Like a fleeting day, loyalty has vanished,

Some chase illusions, others chase vain hopes.

They exhibit friendship and loyalty outwardly,

Yet their hearts conceal the venom of scorpions!

It is also recounted that Sadiq was once seen donning a valuable garment, and someone remarked, “O Descendant of the Messenger of Allah! This attire does not befit your association with the Ahl al-Bayt (Household of the Prophet).” In response, Sadiq grasped the questioner’s hand and placed it beneath his cloak, revealing a coarse garment beneath, and he said:

The attire worn for the people is apparent,

While the one worn for the Divine remains concealed.

It is narrated that someone said to Sadiq, “You possess asceticism, inner generosity, and numerous virtues, yet you display great pride.” Sadiq replied, “It is not I who am proud, but rather pride originates from the Divine and His magnificence. When I rid myself of my own pride, His magnificence arrives and assumes its place. It is not fitting for me to be proud with my own pride, but it is fitting for me to be proud with His magnificence!”

It is narrated that Sadiq posed the following question to Abu Hanifa: “Who is considered intelligent?” “The one who discerns between good and evil,” he responded. Sadiq then replied, “Even animals can distinguish between the one who beats them and the one who feeds them. So, in your view, who is truly intelligent?” Abu Hanifa inquired further. Sadiq answered, “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.”

Furthermore, it is narrated that a man who had lost his bag of gold approached Sadiq, clutching his collar and accusing 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 to his house and counted a thousand gold coins into his palm.

Later, the individual who had discovered the gold coins he mistakenly took returned them to Sadiq, acknowledging his error. Sadiq, firmly holding his principle, stated, “We do not retract what we have bestowed.” Subsequently, the man inquired about the identity of another person. When Jafar Sadiq received the response, he experienced a renewed sense of satisfaction.

An account narrates that Sadiq was traversing a solitary road, engrossed in his contemplation of the divine, repeatedly uttering, “Allah Allah!” A distressed individual trailed behind, echoing the same invocation. Sadiq beseeched, “O Allah! I lack a cloak. O Allah! I lack a garment,” and astonishingly, a splendid attire materialized, which Imam Jafar gracefully donned. Witnessing this spectacle, the troubled person approached and implored, “Sir, I bear witness that Allah is your companion. Kindly bestow upon me your former clothing.” Sadiq found solace in this act of humility and offered his previous attire to the individual.

Another account portrays someone seeking Sadiq’s presence and requesting, “Reveal to me Allah.” Sadiq promptly responded, “Are you not aware that Moses was informed, ‘You cannot perceive Me’ (Quran 7:143)?” The individual acknowledged, “Indeed, I am familiar with that statement, but this is the faith of Muhammad. Behold, one proclaims, ‘My heart has beheld my Lord,’ while another vehemently declares, ‘I shall not worship a Lord whom I have not seen.'” Sadiq sternly commanded, “Bind this person and cast him into the river.” Consequently, the individual was bound and thrown into the waters of the Tigris. Initially, he sank and vanished beneath the surface, only to resurface moments later. Desperately, he cried out, “Help, O descendant of the Prophet! Help!” In response, Sadiq directed, “O water, engulf him!” The water submerged him. When he resurfaced again, he cried out, “O descendant of the Messenger of Allah, help, help!” Sadiq once again commanded, “O water! Submerge him.” The man was submerged once more. This cycle of submersion and resurfacing repeated several times, as the individual clung to life.

As the individual began losing hope, he called out, “Assist me, O Divine One, assist me!” Moved by this plea, Sadiq proclaimed, “Retrieve him.” Consequently, the man was rescued from the water and allowed some time to regain his composure. Subsequently, he was questioned, “Did you perceive Allah?” He responded,

“As long as I sought refuge and relied upon worldly means, seeking aid from them, the veils remained intact. However, when I found myself in a state of utter despair and wholeheartedly turned to Him, a window opened within my heart, and I beheld that which I was in search of! As it is stated, ‘Who answers the distressed when they call upon Him?’ (Quran 27:62). This state of realization did not manifest until I reached a state of absolute helplessness.” Sadiq addressed him, saying, “O sincere individual, as long as you expressed what you did, you were in a state of falsehood. Now, focus your attention on that window. The realm of the Sublime and Exalted Allah exists therein, in the profound depths. Anyone who claims that the Mighty and Majestic Allah is ‘upon something’ or ‘in something’ or ‘a thing’ is deemed a disbeliever.”

Sadiq articulated the following statement:

“Every sin that originates from fear and culminates in repentance guides the servant towards Allah. Conversely, every act of worship that commences with complacency and concludes with arrogance distances the servant from Allah. The self-righteous and obedient individual is, in fact, rebellious, whereas the repentant rebel is truly obedient.”

When Sadiq was asked about the superiority between a patient poor person and a grateful wealthy person, he responded:

“Undoubtedly, the patient poor person holds a higher rank. While the wealthy person’s heart remains attached to their material possessions, the heart of the impoverished individual is devoted to Allah.”

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

He further stated, “To mention repentance during the remembrance of Allah is to be heedless of remembrance.” True remembrance of Allah entails forgetting everything else in His presence, so as not to associate anything with Him.

Regarding the verse, “I shall bestow My mercy on whom I wills,” he emphasized that his mercy is specifically attributed to whomever He wills, without any intermediaries, causes, or means, in order for people to recognize it as a pure gift.

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

He also advised, “Whoever struggles against his ego for his ego, achieves miracles, and whoever struggles against his ego for the sake of Allah, reaches Allah.”

He stated, “Inspiration is among the qualities of the accepted ones, whereas seeking argumentation without inspiration is a sign of the rejected ones.”

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

He proclaimed, “Divine love is divine madness, beyond condemnation or praise.” He affirmed this realization when others considered him insane.

He shared, “It is fortunate for a person whose opponent is wise.” Additionally, he warned against the company of five individuals: a habitual liar, whose deceit will constantly lead you astray; a fool, who unknowingly harms you at opportune times; a miser, who takes the best from you when you need it most; a malicious person, who abandons you in times of need; and a transgressor, who sells you out for insignificant gain.

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

He explained, “Allah Almighty encompasses both paradise and hell in this world. Paradise manifests as well-being, while hell manifests as affliction. Well-being is attained by entrusting Allah with one’s affairs, while affliction arises when one’s ego takes control.”

He expressed, “Those who have no secrets suffer harm. If the conversations of enemies were harmful, the friends of Allah would have been harmed by Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. Likewise, if the conversations of the friends of Allah were beneficial, the enemies would have benefited from the wives of Noah and Lot. However, these conversations merely bring restriction or expansion.”

He concluded, “These are just a few of his teachings; his words are numerous, but we have presented a glimpse.”

[1] The term “Rafida” is used to refer to Shia Muslims who reject the rulership of the first two Rashidun Caliphs, Abubakr and Umar. However, it is important to note that the usage of this term varies among Islamic scholars. Some scholars specifically associate it with certain extremist sects within Shia Islam, known as the ghulat, who not only reject the first two caliphs but also openly revile them. In Sunni Islam, Abubakr and Umar are highly revered companions of the Prophet and hold a significant place. There is a profound discourse among Sunni scholars regarding the extent to which the term “Rafida” can be applied to Shia Muslims in general. Notable Sunni scholar Ibn Taymiyyah strongly condemned the Rafida, considering them as individuals who follow their desires, possess ignorance, and promote oppression, thereby deeming them the worst in these aspects. It is important to approach these discussions with an understanding of the historical and theological context, as well as recognizing the diversity of beliefs and practices within the Shia community.

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