THE TIMES AND LIFE OF IMAM MUHAMMAD TAQI
Muhammad (Taqi) was only about five years of age when his father was called away from Madinah by the Caliph Mamoon ar-Rashid, never to return home alive. He was only eight years of age when he received the sad news of the martyrdom of his father at the hands of the Caliph.
Although, by having Imam All ar-Reza killed, Mamoon was able to win back the confidence of his Abbasid kinsmen, he lost his trust among the followers of the Imam. He succeeded to play his cards again, and summoned the young Imam Muhammad Taqi to
but he did not seethe youth for a long period of time. Baghdad
The Imam's first contact with the Caliph:
Once, on his way to a hunting trip, Marnoon passed through that part of the city where the young Imam was staying. He saw some children playing in the street with his peers. When they saw the callph's entourage, all but the Imam ran away. The caliph approached the Imam and asked Imam why he was not one of those who had run away from there. The Imam was cool in his demeanor. He said that the street was wide, and that he was not making it any narrower; and that he had not committed any crime for which he would be afraid; and that he believed that the Caliph would take the path of justice and not harm an innocent bystander.
The reply impressed the Caliph. He asked the Imam who he was. When the Imam told him who he was, the Caliph felt ashamed. He suddenly remembered having sent for him but not having granted him audience for such a long time.
The Imam's Second contact with the Caliph:
On his way back from the hunting trip, the Caliph hid a fish in his hands and asked the Imam what he was carrying. The Imam said that his hawk flew in the skies, but found his prey in the waters. He had a fish in his hand and was now testing the Imam for his knowledge. The Caliph was dumb founded at both these encounters with the Imam and took him along with him to his palace.
He declared his intentions to his kinsmen that he was so impressed with the child. He decided to give his daughter Unnne Fadhl in marriage to him. They were unhappy at the possibility of repetition of the story of his father Imam Ali ar-Reza. Mammon said that the youth was no ordinary person and that they all had already seen his courage, knowledge and mannerism which was no match with any one of them. In order to obtain an upper hand over Mamoon's decision, they proposed that a contest be held with the chief Kadhi Yahya bin Aktham.
The Imam's Contest with the Chief Kadhi of
In the contest, Yahya bin Aktharn asked the Imam on the penalty for man who hunted while in ahram, (the state of purity, also applied to a body wrap of white cloth used by the pilgrims). The Imam said that his question was incomplete and that he should complete it before the correct answer could be given. Yahya requested that the Imam complete the question for him. The Imam asked:
(i) Was the hunting done within the holy precinct or outside it?
(ii) Was the hunter aware of the religious law concerning the hunt?
(iii) Was the hunting done with intention or was it an accident?
(iv) Was the hunter a free man or a slave?
(v) Was the hunter of age or was he under-age in the religious law?
(vi) Was the hunting done for the first time or was a repeated act?
(vii) Was the prey a bird or was it some other animal?
(viii) Was the prey young of age or was it of an age allowed for hunting?
(ix) Was the hunter repentant on his act or was he defiant?
(x) Was the hunting done at night or was it an act of the day?
(xi) Was the ahram for Haj or was it for Umra?
The Imam then further elaborated the significance of these circumstances concerning the question to qualify for an appropriate answer! They all were flabbergasted at the details offered by the Imam, and accepted his completion of the question, followed by his answer. Mamoon was very pleased to see his own arrogant kinsmen being beaten in the contest.
Mamoon then asked the Imam to pose his question. Even before the Imam could pose his question, Yahya apologized. He said that he would try to answer Imarn's question, but if he could not find an answer, he would have to ask the Imam to answer it himself.
The Imam asked, on what four conditions would one woman be legal and illegal for marriage for the same individual. Neither Yahya nor any one else in the audience had any answer to this question. The Imam then detailed the four conditions concerning his question and made the puzzle seem easy to solve:
(i) The woman was a slave-girl of another man, so it was illegal for this man. When he paid her price to her master, she became legal for him;
(ii) (ii) When he freed her she was no longer legal for him. However he got married to her, and thus she became legal for him. (iii) He reckoned her like his mother, making her illegal for him again, but on paying the penalty for such an act, she became legal for him again. (iv) He then divorced her, making her illegal for him, but before saying the third talaq, they made up again, making her legal again.
They acknowledged the uncommon depth of the Imam's knowledge, and agreed on Mamoon's decision to give his daughter in marriage to the Imam. Mamoon offered the Imam to stay in
Baghdad and be declared his successor, but the Imam declined to have any thing to do with the heirship to the Caliphate, or on staying in the palace in . He requested the Caliph to allow him to return home to Madinah. Mamoon did not force the Imam to stay, and allowed him to leave with his wife. Baghdad
Umme Fadhl was a princess. She had lived a life of luxury. She had no concept of what her life style would be in Madinah with material deprivation compared with the luxury of her father's palace. She was miserable and made it no secret to the Imam. She wrote letters to her father complaining bitterly about her predicament, but he took no action.
Furthemiore, there was no progeny issued from this relationship. When the Imam manied Sumana Khatoon, the jealousy of Umme Fadhl reached its heights, but her father still did nothing.
Mamoon died in 218 AH, and his brother Mu’tasim Billah succeeded to the throne. Umme Fadhl started writing letters to her uncle, the new caliph in
Baghdad to get her back to . Since the Abbasids were no friends of the Alkyds, and with the constant complaints of Umme Fadhl, the Imam was summoned to Baghdad and put in jail. Finally,he was given poison in jail and killed in 220 AH at the young age of only twenty-five years. Baghdad
The Imam appointed his son Ali Hadi to follow him as the next Imam before he left for his second and last trip to