Ninth lesson

9) Imam al-Kazim

Musa b. Jaʿfar (b. 128/745 – d. 183/799) titled as Imam al-Kazim  and Bāb al-Hawaʾij was the seventh Imam of Shi’a, born in Abwa’ (a village between Mecca and Medina). After his father Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a) was martyred he (a) became the Imam of Shi’a. The thirty-five years of his imamate coincided with the caliphate of al-Mansur, al-Hadi, al-Mahdi, and Harun al-Rashid. He was repeatedly imprisoned by al-Mahdi and Harun and was finally martyred in 183/799 in al-Sindi b. Shahik’s prison. After his martyrdom, he was succeeded by his son, ‘Ali b. Musa (a), as the next Imam.

Imam al-Kazim’s (a) life coincided with the peak of the Abbasid caliphate. He practiced taqiyya (precautionary dissimulation) with regard to the government and recommended the Shi’as to do the same.

Some debates and dialogues between Musa b. Ja’far (a) and some Jewish and Christian scholars have been reported in sources of history and hadiths. His dialogues with the scholars of other religions have been collected in Musnad al-Imam al-Kazim, some of which have been transmitted by People of Consensus. His life also coincided with some divisions within Shiism as well. At the beginning of his imamate, Isma’iliyya, Fatahiyya, and Nawusiyya were formed, and after his martyrdom, the Waqifiyya came to existence.

Shiite and Sunni sources have praised his practice of worship, patience, and generosity, referring to him as “al-Kazim” and “al-‘Abd al-Salih”. Prominent Sunni figures honored the Seventh Shiite Imam as a religious scholar and visited his grave along with the Shi’as. Imam al-Kazim’s (a) resting place and the mausoleum of his grandson, Imam al-Jawad (a), are located near Baghdad and is known as the Shrine of Kazimayn. It is visited by Muslims, and in particular, the Shi’as.