Imams of the Shi'a(Redirected from Imams (a))
- This article is about the twelve Imams of Shi'a. For the principle of Shi'a school, see Imamate.
Imāms (a) of the Shi'a are twelve men from the progeny of the Prophet (s) who are, according to Shi'a teachings, successors of the Prophet (s) and the guardians and leaders of the society after the Prophet (s). The first Imam (a) is Imam 'Ali (a) and the other Imams (a) are his and lady Fatima's (a) sons and grandsons.
These Imams (a) are appointed by God and have divine knowledge, infallibility and the right of intercession [for people] and one can get closer to God through making tawassul to them. In addition to religious authority, Imams (a) have the political leadership of the society. Verses of the Qur'an have discussed the issue of imamate without mentioning the names of the Imams (a); such as the verses of Uli al-Amr, Tathir, al-Wilaya, al-Ikmal, al-Tabligh and al-Sadiqin.
In some narrations from the Prophet (s), the qualities, the names and the number of Imams (a) have been mentioned; such as Hadith al-Thaqalayn, Hadith of Manzila, Hadith of Safina, Hadith of Yawm al-Dar, Hadith of Madinat al-'Ilm, Hadith al-Tayr al-Mashwiy, Hadith al-Rayat, Hadith al-Kisa', Hadith of Jabir and Hadith of the Twleve Caliphs. According to these narrations, all of Imams (a) are from Quraysh and they are the Ahl al-Bayt (a) (household) of the Prophet (s) and the last Imam (a) is the Promised Mahdi (aj).
Also, there are many hadiths from the Prophet (s) in hadith references about the imamate of Imam Ali (a) who is the first Imam (a). Also, there are hadiths from the Prophet (s) and Imam Ali (a) which have explicitly mentioned the imamate of the second Imam (a). Afterwards, every Imam (a) explicitly has introduced the Imam (a) after himself. According to these explicit mentioning, Imams (a) and the caliphs after the Prophet (s) are twelve.
|Name||Titles||Kunya||Day of Birth||Year ofBirth||Birthplace||Day of Martyrdom||Year ofMartyrdom||Place ofMartyrdom||Imamate||Duration ofImamate||Mother's name|
|'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)||Amir al-Mu'minin||Abu l-Hasan||13 Rajab/10 October||30 'Am al-fil/599||Ka'ba||21 Ramadan/28 January||40/661||Kufa||11/632-40/661||29 years||Fatima bt. Asad|
|al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a)||Al-Mujtaba||Abu Muhammad||15 Ramadan/1 March||3/625||Medina||28 Safar/27 March||50/670||Medina||40/661-50/670||10 years||Lady Fatima (a)|
|al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a)||Sayyid al-Shuhada'||Abu 'Abd Allah||3 Sha'ban/8 January||4/626||10 Muharram/10 October||61/680||Karbala||50/670-61/680||10 years|
|'Ali b. al-Husayn (a)||al-Sajjad, Zayn al-'abidin||Abu l-Hasan||5 Sha'ban/6 January||38/658||25 Muharram/19 October||95/713||Medina||61/680-95/713||35 years||Shahrbanu|
|Muhammad b. 'Ali (a)||Baqir al-'ulum||Abu Ja'far||1 Rajab/10 May||57/677||7 Dhu l-Hijja/28 January||114/733||95/713-114/733||19 years||Fatima|
|Ja'far b. Muhammad (a)||al-Sadiq||Abu 'Abd Allah||17 Rabi' I/20 April||83/704||25 Shawwal/14 December||148/765||114/733-148/765||34 years||Fatima|
|Musa b. Ja'far (a)||al-Kazim||Abu l-Hasan||7 Safar/8 November||128/745||25 Rajab/1 September||183/799||Kadhimiyya||148/765-183/799||35 years||Hamida al-Barbariyya|
|'Ali b. Musa (a)||al-Rida||Abu l-Hasan||11 Dhu l-Qa'da/29 December||148/765||End of Safar/5 September||203/818||Mashhad||183/799-203/818||20 years||Najma|
|Muhammad b. 'Ali (a)||al-Taqi, al-Jawad||Abu Ja'far||10 Rajab/8 April||195/811||End of Dhu l-Qa'da/25 November||220/835||Kadhimiyya||203/818-220/835||17 years||Sabika|
|'Ali b. Muhammad (a)||al-Hadi, al-Naqi||Abu l-Hasan||15 Dhu l-Hijja/6 March||212/828||3 Rajab/28 June||254/868||Samarra||220/835-254/868||34 years||Samana al-Maghribiyya|
|al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a)||al-Zakiyy, al-'Askari||Abu Muhammad||10 Rabi' II/4 December||232/846||8 Rabi' I/1 January||260/874||254/868-260/874||6 years||Hudayth|
|Hujja b. al-Hasan (a)||al-Qa'im||Abu l-Qasim||15 Sha'ban/29 July||255/289||Samarra||Narjis|
Position among Shi'a
The belief in the imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) is among fundamental beliefs of the Twelver Shi'a and many reports from the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) in available hadiths references support it. Shi'a exegetes and theologians believe that the Qur'an has referred to this belief implicitly in the Uli l-Amr, al-Tathir, al-Wilayah, al-Ikmal, al-Tabligh, and al-Sadiqin verses.
According to Twelver Shi'a beliefs, the imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) began with demise of the Holy Prophet (s) in 11/632 and the imamate of Imam 'Ali (a) and have continued until now without interruption. Since 260/874, after Imam al-'Askari's (a) demise and transition of Imamate to his son, Imam al-Mahdi (aj), the imamate turned from apparent state to occultation and the long term imamate of Imam al-Mahdi's (aj) has been in occultation.
Shi'a believe that Imams (a) are infallible and have knowledge of the unseen; and also believe that one can get close to God through making tawassul to them. Visiting the graves of Imams (a) is among Shi'a traditions and they are known to have the position of making shafa'a (intercession).
Proofs of Imamate
- Main article: Imamate of the Twelve Imams (a)
Proofs for Imamate have always been an important topic of books for Twelver Shi'a and Shi'a scholars have many works with different approaches about that. Kitab Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali's written in late 1st/7th century is among the oldest works in which the Twelve Imams (a) are mentioned.
About the explicit mentioning of the Twelve Imams (a), there are works such as Ibn 'Ayyash al-Jawhari's Muqtadab al-athar (d. 401/1010) and al-Khazzaz al-Qummi's Kifayat al-athar (late 4th/10th century) in which their authors have made efforts to collect narrations about the explicit mentioning of the Twelve Imams (a) from different Shi'a and Sunni sources.
In addition to the books of nusus (explicit references), other works under the general title of "Dala'il al-Imama" (proofs for imamate) about the Imams' (a) acts of wonder and miracles can be mentioned such as Dala'il al-imama attributed to Ibn Rustam al-Tabari (printed 1383/1963, Najaf), or works under the general title of "al-Wasiyya" which explain the transmission of deputyship in the chain of the Twelve Imams (a) such as al-Mas'udi's Ithbat al-wasiyya (printed Najaf, Haydariyyah library).
Proving the imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) based on hadith has also been a focus of Twelver Shi'a theologians and many important theological works have been dedicated to this topic. Among the most famous of these hadiths are Hadith al-Thaqalayn, Hadith al-Manzila, Hadith al-Safina, Hadith Yawm al-Dar, Hadith Madinat al-'Ilm, Hadith al-Tayr al-Mashwiy, Hadith al-Rayat, Hadith al-Kisa', Hadith of Jabir, and Hadith of the Twleve Caliphs.
Hadith of the Twelve Caliphs
- Main article: Hadith of Twelve Caliphs
In addition to Shi'a hadiths, there are certain hadiths narrated in Sunni sources referring to twelve caliphs or imams after the Prophet (s). During the 1st/7th century, there are hadiths narrated from some of the Companions of the Prophet (s), giving the good news about twelve imams (a) after the Prophet (s) which were being circulated in various meetings. Among those hadiths, the hadith narrated by Jabir b. Samura which is mentioned in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim is the most famous one. In this hadith, it is mentioned that emirs (imams or caliphs) after the Prophet (s) are 12 from Quraysh. This hadith which is among the most famous hadiths in the Islamic world, was first mentioned in Sunni sources and then in Shi'a sources.
In a lower level, a hadith narrated from Ibn Mas'ud can be mentioned which implies that the number of caliphs after the Prophet (s) are 12 as the same number of the chiefs of Banu Israel. Sunni scholars give a different interpretation of these 12 imams and introduce people other than the Imams (a) of Shi'a.
Introducing the Imams (a) of Shi'a
Imam Ali (a)
- Main article: Imam 'Ali (a)
Imam Ali (a), was son of Abu Talib, uncle of Prophet (s) and an important leader of Banu Hashim. Abu Talib adopted the Prophet (s) in his childhood and raised him in his house. He was alive until after beginning of the Prophet's (s) mission and supported the Prophet (s) and protected him against the threats posed by Arab disbelievers and especially Quraysh.
At the time of the Prophet (s)
|Imam 'Ali (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b.3 BH/600 - d.40/661)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 11/632 - 40/661||Abu Bakr'Umar b. Khattab'Uthman b. 'Affan|
|Imam al-Hasan (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 3/625 - d. 50/670)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 40/661 - 50/670||Abu Bakr 'Umar b. Khattab 'Uthman b. 'Affan Imam 'Ali (a) Mu'awiya|
|Imam al-Husayn (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 4/626 - d. 61/680)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 50/670 - 61/680||Abu Bakr 'Umar b. Khattab 'Uthman b. 'Affan Imam 'Ali (a) Imam al-Hasan (a) Mu'awiya Yazid b. Mu'awiya|
|Imam al-Sajjad (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 38/658 – d. 94/713)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: b. 61/680 – 94/713||Imam 'Ali Imam al-Hasan (a) Mu'awiya Yazid Mu'awyia b. Yazid Marwan b. Hakam 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik|
|Imam al-Baqir (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 57/677 – d. 114/733)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 94/713 - 114/733||Mu'awyia b. Yazid Marwan b. Hakam 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'AzizYazid b. 'Abd al-MalikHisham b. 'Abd al-Malik|
|Imam al-Sadiq (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 83/704 – d. 148/765)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 114/733 - 148/765||'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'AzizYazid b. 'Abd al-MalikHisham b. 'Abd al-MalikWalid b. YazidWalid b. 'Abd al-MalikIbrahim b. WalidMarwan b. MuhammadAbu l-'Abbas al-Saffahal-Mansur al-Dawaniqi|
|Imam al-Kazim (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 128/745 - d. 183/799)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 148/765 - 183/799||Marwan b. MuhammadAbu l-'Abbas al-Saffahal-Mansur al-Dawaniqi al-Mahdi al-'Abbasial-Hadi al-'AbbasiHarun al-Rashid|
|Imam al-Rida (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 148/766 – d. 203/818)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 183/799 - 203/818||Al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi Mahdi al-'AbbasiHadi al-'AbbasiHarun al-RashidAmin al-'AbbasiMa'mun al-'Abbasi|
|Imam al-Jawad (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 195/811 - d. 220/835)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 203/818 - 220/835||Amin al-'AbbasiMa'mun al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tasam al-'Abbasi|
|Imam al-Hadi (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 212/828 - d. 254/868)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 220/835 - 254/868||Ma'mun al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tasam al-'Abbasial-Wathiq bi Allahal-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasial-Muntasir al-'Abbasi al-Musta'in al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi|
|Imam al-'Askari (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 232/846 - d. 260/874)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 254/835 - 260/874||al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasial-Muntasir al-'Abbasi al-Musta'in al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi al-Muhtadi al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tamad al-'Abbasi|
|Imam al-Mahdi (a)ـــــــــــــــــ (b. 255/869 - alive)ـــــــــــــــــ Duration of Imamate: 260/874 - alive||al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi al-Muhtadi al-'Abbasi al-Mu'tamad al-'Abbasial-Mu'tadad al-'Abbasial-Muktafi al-'Abbasial-Muqtadir al-'Abbasial-Qahir al-'Abbasial-Radi al-'Abbasi ...|
'Ali (a), (based on the most famous reports), was born ten years before the beginning of the Prophet's (s) mission. Six years after the famine which struck Mecca and its suburbs, 'Ali (a) moved to the house of the Prophet (s) following the Prophet's (s) request and since then was adopted and raised by him (s).
At the beginning of the Prophet's (s) mission, when he (s) returned from the cave of Hira to his house, 'Ali (a) and Khadija (s), the wife of the Prophet (s) accepted Islam as the first Muslims. At the beginning of the Prophet's (s) public mission, at the event of Yawm al-Dar, 'Ali (a) was the first and only person who expressly announced his faith in that gathering. He (a) never worshiped anything other than One God.
'Ali (a) always accompanied the Prophet (s) until the Prophet (s) emigrated from Mecca to Medina and on the eve of his immigration, when disbelievers besieged the house of the Prophet (s) and rushed in to kill him in his bed, 'Ali (a) slept in the Prophet's (s) bed to save the Prophet's (s) life and the Prophet (s) went to Medina. The occasion of the revelation of the al-Ishtira' verse is this sacrifice.
'Ali (a) accompanied the Prophet (s) in Medina too, where he (a) married lady Fatima (s), the Prophet's (s) daughter. When the Prophet (s) was establishing the oath of brotherhood with his companions, appointed 'Ali (a) as his brother.
'Ali (a) participated in all the battles the Prophet (s) attended except the battle of Tabuk when the Prophet (s) had ordered 'Ali (a) to stay in Medina in his own place. 'Ali (a) never retreated in any battle or turned away from any enemies and did not disobey the Prophet (s) in any issues, as the Prophet (s) said, "'Ali (a) never separates from the truth and the truth never separates from 'Ali (a)".
After the Prophet (s)
On the day the Prophet (s) passed away, 'Ali (a) was 33 years old. He (a) was superior to anyone in all religious merits and was distinguished among the companions and on several occasions, such as the event of Ghadir, when the Prophet (s) introduced him as the caliph after himself, but people him aside from caliphate with the excuse that he (a) was young and had spilled much blood in the battles of the Prophet (s) which had earned him numerous enemies. Thus he was completely removed from all public affairs. After some objections, he (a) was isolated for 25 years (which lasted to the end of caliphate of the third caliph). During these 25 years he compiled the Qur'an and trained some individuals. After the Third Caliph was killed, people gave allegiance to 'Ali (a) and chose him as the caliph.
He (a) was engaged in three wars during his caliphate which lasted almost four years and nine months:
- The Battle of Jamal: Some of the companions of the Prophet (s) who were led by Aisha, Talha, and Zubayr used the pretext of claiming the blood of the Third Caliph and rebelled and waged the battle of Jamal near Basra.
- The Battle of Siffin: It took place on the border of Iraq and Syria with Mu'awiya. It lasted one year and half.
- The Battle of Nahrawan: The last great mischief of his time was the battle with Khawarij.
Most of the time of his caliphate was spent to solve internal conflicts. Soon afterwards, he was hit on the head at the dawn of 19th of Ramadan 40/661 in the Mosque of Kufa when he was praying and passed on in the eve of 21st of the same month.
As witnessed in the history and reported by his friends and enemies, Imam 'Ali (a) did not lack anything in human perfections and in Islamic merits, he was a perfect exemplar of the Prophet's (s) education.
In knowledge, 'Ali (a) was the most knowledgeable person among the companions of the Prophet (s) and all other Muslims. He (a) was the first Muslim who used reasoning in his scientific opinions and made philosophical discussions in theological teachings and spoke about the interior of the Qur'an and to preserve its exterior, he (a) established the rules of Arabic syntax and was the most competent Arab in speech.
In bravery, he (a) was an exemplar and he was unique in piety and worshiping God. There are many stories about him showing mercy to his subordinates and showing sympathy and generosity towards the poor.
Imam al-Hasan (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Hasan (a)
Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a) and his brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), were two sons of Imam 'Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (s). The Prophet (s) frequently is quoted saying, "al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) are my children".
After the martyrdom of his father, he became the Imam following the God's command and the will of Imam 'Ali (a) and for six months, he managed Muslims' affairs as the caliph of Muslims. During his caliphate, Mu'awiya who was a great enemy of 'Ali (a) and his family and had fought for years (seeking caliphate firstly through claiming revenge for the Third Caliph's death and then overtly claiming caliphate itself), moved his army towards Iraq which was the capital of Imam al-Hasan's (a) caliphate and waged a war against him.
Mu'awiya gradually lured commanders of Imam al-Hasan's (a) army by giving them substantial amounts of money and tempting offers and made Imam's (a) army revolt against him so he (a) had to make the peace with Mu'awiya and to hand the caliphate to Mu'awiya under the conditions that after the death of Mu'awiya, caliphate would return to Imam al-Hasan (a) and that his family and followers would be safe from any type of harm or offence.
At the beginning of his caliphate, Mu'awiya broke his promise for observing the conditions. During Mu'awiya's caliphate which lasted 10 years, Imam al-Hasan (a) lived having great hardships and not being safe even in his own house. He was finally poisoned and martyred in 50/670 by his wife who was encouraged by Mu'awiya.
Imam al-Husayn (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Husayn (a)
Imam al-Husayn (a), known as "Sayyid al-Shuhada'" (English: Master of the martyrs), the second son of Imam 'Ali (a) and lady Fatima (s), was born in 4/626 and became Imam after martyrdom of his brother, Imam al-Hasan (a), following the order of God and the will of Imam al-Hasan (a).
Imam al-Husayn (a) was Imam for 10 years and except the last 6 months, his imamate coincided with the caliphate of Mu'awiya, during which he (a) lived under great hardships and severe conditions. During the last 6 months of Imam al-Husayn's (a) imamate, Mu'awiya tried to establish the caliphate of his profligate son, Yazid. In the middle of 60/680, Mu'awiya died and his son acceded to power.
Imam al-Husayn's (a) Journey from Medina to Karbala
- Main article: Imam al-Husayn's (a) Journey from Medina to Karbala
Quickly, Yazid ordered the governor of Medina to take Imam al-Husayn's (a) allegiance with Yazid, otherwise sends his head for him. When the governor of Medina delivered the message of Yazid to Imam al-Husayn (a), he (a) asked for time to think about that and moved towards Mecca at night and took refuge in al-Haram al-Makki (which is the common refuge in Islam) for four months.
Meanwhile, the Imam (a) received a stream of letters from Iraq and especially from Kufa, who were asking him to go there and lead the people and rise up against injustice. During the rituals of hajj, Imam (a) was informed that some of the agents of Yazid had entered Mecca wearing the clothes of hajj pilgrims and were ordered to kill the Imam (a).
In the gathering of people, Imam (a) delivered a short speech and informed them of his travel towards Iraq, mentioned his martyrdom and asked them to help him in his goal and to spend their blood on the way of God. The next day, he (a) moved towards Iraq accompanied by his family and some of his companions.
Some of the distinguished people tried to stop him on his way advising and reminding him of the risk of such a movement, but in reply, the Imam (a) told them, "I would not give allegiance and do not approve the government of injustice and I know that wherever I go, they will kill me. And I leave Mecca to save it from being disrespected by spilling of my blood in it. "
- Main article: Event of 'Ashura'
Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions were besieged by the army of Yazid about 70 kilometers away from Kufa in the desert of Karbala. During these eight days, the siege became tighter and tighter and the number of the enemy's army increased. Soon, Imam al-Husayn (a), his family and his few companions were surrounded by circles of 30,000 armed soldiers.
During those days, the Imam (a) strengthened the position of his companions and refined them. He (a) gathered them at night, made a short speech and said, "we have nothing ahead but martyrdom and they have nothing to do with anyone except me. Here, I waive my rights to your allegiance with me, so anyone can benefit the darkness of night and save his life from this horrible danger. "
At the end of 9th day of Muharram, the enemy gave the Imam (a) the final deadline and he (a) asked them for one more night and kept the night vigil and worshiped. The 10th of Muharram 61/680, the Imam (a) and his few companions (less than 90 people, 40 of whom were old companions of the Imam (a), thirty some others joined the Imam (a) from the enemy's army and the rest were Hashimi relatives of the Imam (a), including his children, nephews and cousins) stood against the countless number of enemy's army and the war began.
On that day, they fought from dawn to sunset and the Imam (a) and all his soldiers were martyred. Among the martyrs were two very young sons of Imam al-Hasan (a), a baby and Imam al-Husayn's (a) infant.
Captivity of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Imam (a)
- Main article: Captives of Karbala
The Battle of Karbala, captivity of women and girls, taking them from one city to another, speeches made by Imam al-Sajjad (a) and lady Zaynab (a), daughter of Imam 'Ali (a) who were among the captives disgraced Umayyads and neutralized Mu'awiya's previous propaganda, so that even Yazid publicly renounced the acts of his agents. The Battle of Karbala was so effective in the history of Islam in a way that in a long term it caused the government of Umayyads to be toppled. It also strengthened the roots of Shi'a. Among its short term effects were the revolutions and revolts which lasted 12 years and not a single person who participated in the murder of the Imam (a) were able to escape the revenge.
Imam al-Sajjad (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Sajjad (a)
Imam 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a) titled as "Sajjad" and "Zayn al-'Abidin" was the third child of Imam al-Husayn (a), whose mother was Shahr Banu, daughter of Yazdegerd III, the last emperor of the Sassanid dynasty of Iran. His other three brothers were martyred in the Battle of Karbala, but he (a) was very sick so he could not go to the war and was sent to Syria together with other the captives.
After passing the term of captivity, Imam al-Sajjad (a) was returned to Medina respectfully by the order of Yazid to avoid the public rage. He (a) was once again arrested and chained by the order of the Umayyad caliph 'Abd al-Malik and brought from Medina back to Syria and returned to Medina later again.
After returning to Medina, the fourth Imam (a) stayed at home, closed the door to strangers and engaged in worshiping God and did not accept to meet anyone except certain Shi'a such as Abu Hamza al-Thumali, Abu Khalid al-Kabuli and alike. However, these certain people circulated the teachings they learned from the Imam (a) among Shi'a and doing so, Shi'a was promoted so that it bloomed at the time of the fifth Imam (a).
Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya is a collection of 57 of his supplications. After 35 years of his imamate, Imam al-Sajjad (a) was poisoned and martyred in 95/713 by Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik following the inducement of Hisham, the Umayyad caliph.
Imam al-Baqir (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Baqir (a)
Imam Muhammad b. 'Ali (a), known as "Baqir al-'Ulum". This is a title the Prophet (s) had given him. Imam al-Baqir (a) was born in 57/733 and was 4 years old in the Battle of Karbala. After his great father, he (a) became the imam following the command of God and as his forefathers had mentioned. He (a) was martyred in 114/733 or 117/735. According to some hadiths from Shi'a, the Imam (a) was poisoned by Ibarahim b. Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik, the nephew of Hisham, the Umayyad caliph.
At the time of the fifth Imam (a), there were frequent fights and revolts due to oppressions of the Umayyads and these challenges kept the government busy and away from annoying the Ahl al-Bayt (a). On the other hand, the occurrence of the Battle of Karbala and that the Ahl al-Bayt (a) were oppressed, made Muslims attracted to them and brought the Imam (a) such good opportunities to distribute Islamic teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) that none of the Imams (a) had in the past and this is proved by the many hadiths narrated from him.
Imam al-Sadiq (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Sadiq (a)
Imam Ja'far b. Muhammad (al-Sadiq), son of the fifth Imam (a) was born in 83/702 and was poisoned and martyred by the inducement of Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur al-'Abbasi at the age of 65. Except for Imam al-Mahdi (aj) who is in occultation, Imam al-Sadiq (a) was the oldest imam.
During his imamate, due to revolutions in Islamic countries and especially the uprising of al-Musawwida (people in black clothin) made to overthrow the Umayyad caliphate, and bloody wars took place which led to the fall of the caliphate of Umayyads. Therefore, the good grounds that the fifth Imam (a) had prepared by distribution of Islamic teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) during the 20 years of his imamate, brought up more opportunities and better atmosphere to spread religious teachings.
During his 34 years of imamate, Imam al-Sadiq (a) distributed religious teachings and educated many scholars in different traditional and rational sciences such as Zurara, Muhammad b. Muslim, Mu'min al-Taq, Hisham b. Hakam, Aban b. Taghlib, Hisham b. Salim, Hariz, Hisham Kalbi Nasaba, Jabir b. Hayyan and others and even some Sunni scholars were honored to benefit from his classes such as Sufyan al-Thawri, Abu Hanifa (leader of Hanafi school), Qadi Sakuni, Qadi Abu l-Bakhtari and others. It is famously reported that 4000 hadith narrators and scholars were educated in his (a) classes. The hadiths narrated from al-Sadiqayn (the fifth and the sixth Imams (a)) are more than all hadiths narrated from the Prophet (s) and the other 10 Imams (a).
Al-Mansur al-'Abbasi ordered his agents to arrest Imam al-Sadiq (a) in Medina. Imam (a) was arrested once before by the order of the Abbasid caliph Saffah and brought to Iraq and before that, he (a) was also arrested in the presence of Imam al-Baqir (a) by the order of the Umayyad caliph Hisham and brought to Damascus. Al-Mansur kept Imam al-Sadiq (a) under surveillance for a while and wanted to kill him but finally let the Imam (a) return to Medina and the Imam (a) lived the rest of his life in isolation, practicing Taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation). He was finally poisoned and martyred by the order of al-Mansur.
Imam al-Kazim (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Kazim (a)
The seventh Imam (a) lived contemporarily with al-Mansur, al-Hadi, al-Mahdi and Harun, in a very dark and difficult time and practiced Taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation). When Harun went to Medina during the time of hajj, ordered to arrest and chain Imam al-Kazim (a) when he (a) was praying in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and prison him. Then he took him (a) from Medina to Basra and from Basra to Baghdad. He (a) was taken from one prison to another for many. He (a) was finally poisoned and martyred in the prison of Sandi b. Shahak and was buried in a place called "Maqabir Quraysh" which is now located in the city of Kadhimiya.
Imam al-Rida (a)
- Main article: Imam al-Rida (a)
He (a) became the Imam (a) after his father by the command of God and following the report of his forefathers. His period of imamate was partly contemporary with the Abbasid caliph Harun, then with his son al-Amin and later with Harun's other son al-Ma'mun.
After his father, al-Ma'mun had challenges with his brother al-Amin which led to bloody wars and al-Amin was finally killed. Until then, the policy of the Abbasid caliphate towards supporters of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) was aggressive and every once in a while one of the 'Alawi movements made an uprising and it was a trouble for the government. Even though the leaders of Shi'a did not cooperate with such uprisings, Shi'a who had a great population always regarded the Imams (a) as their religious leaders and considered the caliphate an impure system far away from the holiness of their leaders.
Continuity of such a condition was dangerous for the caliphate, therefore al-Ma'mun thought to put an end to these troubles that his forefathers could not solve in 70 years. He decided to announce Imam al-Rida (a) as his heir apparent, because when 'Alawis found a link to the caliphate, they would not make any uprising against it anymore. On the other hand, when Shi'a saw their Imam's (a) connection with the caliphate and its rulers that he (a) had regarded as impure before, they will lose their belief and spiritual love for Imams (a) and thus their religious organization would fall and there would be no more threats from their side for the caliphate. After such an achievement, killing Imam (a) would not be difficult for al-Ma'mun.
To actualize this plot, he summoned Imam (a) in 200/816 from Medina to Merv. He first offered caliphate and then succession to power to the Imam (a), but for both, the Imam (a) brought excuses and refused his offer. However, al-Ma'mun forced the Imam (a) to accept the latter, thus the Imam (a) accepted it provided that he (a) would not interfere in appoin