Short Biography of Imam Mohammad Baqer AS
He was born on 3rd of Safar of the 57th year of hijri (14 December 676) in Medina. He was 4 years old in the event of Ashura in Karbala. His mother was called Fatemeh, the daughter of Imam Hasan Mojtaba AS, the second Imam.
He was also named Baqer-ol-olum by Prophet Mohammad, meaning, the delver into science, since in his time great attention was dedicated to science and teaching of science.
Imam Mohammad Baqer co-lived with 5 Ummayad caliphates:
1. Valid son of Abdolmalek (86 – 96 hijri)
2. Soleyman son of Abdolmalek (96 – 99 hijri)
3. Omar son of Abdolaziz (99 – 101 hijri)
4. Yazid son of Abdolmalek (101 – 105 hijri)
5. Hisham son of Abdolmalek (105-125 hijri)
In Imam Baqer’s final years, Hisham summoned Imam Baqer from Medina to Sham in Syria, with the aim of disrespecting and killing him. Imam Baqer and his son, Imam Sadeq AS arrived at Sham. But Hisham did not allow them to visit him in his palace in the first four days to disrespect them. And after they entered upon Hisham, he did not pay attention to them or let them take a seat at first, but frightened by Imam’s anger changed his behavior. Hisham tried his best to disrespect imam and tease him by asking him questions, but Imam who was the repository knowledge and patience, answered him solemnly and Hisham got belittled himself. The story of their visit and the events that happened afterwards is interesting; therefore, I quote them fully here, taking advantage a book named Montah-al-Amal by Sheikh Abbas Qomi, a Shiite scholar (quotations are summarized):
Hisham asks imam: “Aren’t we are both the sons of Abd-e-manaf (Abd-e-manaf had been the great grandfather of Ummayad and Prophet Mohammad)? Then why do you believe that you know all there is to know of different sciences and about the occult?
Imam Baqer replied: “yes, we are. But God chose us (the preceding imams and the ones coming afterwards) as his anointed, and taught us His sciences... God commanded Prophet Mohammad to let us learn his sciences, therefore, Prophet Mohammad taught Ali (his Godly anointed friend and only true supporter) all he had learned from God’s sciences. Then, Ali AS said, “Prophet Mohammad taught me sciences as if he taught thousands of doors leading to the city of science, in which each door led to thousand other doors.” Likewise, when you want to share your secrets with one of your trusted friends, and you wouldn’t let any other person to hear your conversation; Prophet Mohammad’s trusted friend and relative had been Ali AS, to whom he taught his sciences and secrets… Ali AS, also taught those sciences to his own progeny who became imams after him, because they were his only trusted people.” Imam then continued, “therefore, God demanded from prophet Mohammad that Ali AS should learn all there was to know about sciences that God had taught Prophet, and prophet demanded that Ali AS would collected the Quran after his death, and to wash his body and dress him in Kafan (garment in which the dead are wrapped and buried) himself, and that no other human is illegible to see prophet’s naked body and private parts other than Ali AS, and that Ali would afterwards possess all that belonged to Prophet, and Ali would be responsible for all prophet’s debts and promises.” Prophet then warned his followers that Ali would be forced to lead several battles with the infidels in his struggle to explain Quran, the way I was forced to battle with them in my struggle to prove its revelation from God.”
After such discussions, Hisham, feeling helpless and foolish, asks Imam Baqer AS if he had any wishes, and Imam asks Hisham to let him go back to his own city and country. Therefore, Hisham lets him leave, without finding an opportunity to kill him.
On their way out of Sham, Imam Baqer and Imam Sadeq AS see a group of people sitting. Imam Sadeq asks his father who they were, and Imam Baqer replies that they were a group of Christian priests and followers that were waiting to visit their chief scholar to ask him their questions and learn from him. Therefore, by Imam Baqer’s suggestion, they cover their heads, to disguise their faces and join the crowd. When they reach the Christian priest’s residence, they unveil themselves.
The Christian leader recognizing they being Muslims, asks them: “are you one of the followers of the deceased (Prophet Mohammad) or one of us?”
Imam Baqer: “I am one of them.”
Christian leader: “are you one of their scholars or one of their unlearned?”
Imam Baqer: “I am not unlearned.”
Christian leader: “should I ask you questions, or do you want to ask me questions?”
Imam Baqer: “you ask.”
Christian leader surprised by the answer accosted his followers: “it is strange that a believer of Mohammad wants me to ask him question, therefore, I should ask him a few question!” and he in fact wanted to ask some questions, to which he was certain, the Arab would not know the answer to! He then continued: “tell me about the hour which is not part of day and not part of night?
Imam Baqer: “It is the hour between Fajr and sunrise. It is a heavenly hour. The unconscious come round in that hour, and those unable to sleep at night will fall peacefully into sleep in that hour. God had made this hour an opportunity for the believers to pray to God.”
Christian leader: “Indeed you are right. You believe that those that go to heaven eat and drink but that they would not have any discharge. Do we have such a condition in earthly life?”
Imam Baqer: “Yes, we do. Like an infant in her mother’s womb, that is nourished there but does not discharge anything.”
Christian leader: “you believe that the fruits and foods in heaven are not consumed no matter how much it is eaten from them. Does it have an example on earth?”
Imam Baqer: “yes it has, like the light of a candle that does not finish, no matter how much candles are lit using it.”
Christian leader: “I will ask you one final question that I’m sure you would not be able to answer: tell me about the children that were given birth to, the twin brothers were born on the same time and died on the same time together, but one aged 50 at the time of his death, and the other 150?”
Imam Baqer: “the brothers were Ozayr and Ozare. Ozayr was a Jewish prophet, who died when he was 30 years old, but was resurrected 100 years later and lived another 20 years with his brother and family and died at the same time with his twin brother.”
The Christian leader then rose up in protest and said to his followers, you have brought to me a man that is more knowledgeable than me, I swear to God that I will no longer talk to you as long as this man is in this city. You should go and ask him your questions”.
Afterwards Imam Baqer and Imam Sadeq left Syria towards their city, Medina. Meanwhile, Hishm’s spies had informed him of such a meeting between imam and the Christian scholar. Hisham used the opportunity and spread the rumor in all cities specially Medina, that Imam Baqer and his son, had reverted from Islam and changed their religion to Christianity, therefore any trades and connection with them is illegal.
Upon imam’s arrival to the city gates, the people in Medina closed the gates to them, and said that you are infidels now, and you and your animals should stay outside the city till you rot and perish. Imam Baqer warned them against the conspiracy, but they seemed dead, and did not listen to imam. Imam, angry by their foolishness and readiness in accepting such lies, got off from his horse, and ordered the others to remain where they were. He ascended a hill nearby that overlooked the city of Medina, on which a prophet called Shuaib (or Shu’ayb) had once stood and cursed his people. Imam Baqer AS stood upon the hill , covered his ears with his fingers and recited the verses Shuaib had recited in his own time, till he reached the part which said: “the remainder of God on earth is better for you if you were believers” )Hood – verse number 86). The city was then covered with a dark wind, which made all those in the city to hear the verse Imam Baqer AS had recited. People were terrified, and went over their roofs. An old man that saw imam on top of the hill warned the people that Shuaib had stood on the same place when he was cursing his people and beware that this man intends to do the same. People, frightened, opened the gates and imam and his friends entered Medina.
Imam Mohammad Baqer AS was murdered by poison on 7th Dhul-Hijjah 114 (28 January 733) when he was 57 years old.
There are two narrations on the person exactly responsible for poisoning Imam by the order of Hisham. It is said that Imam Baqer AS was poisoned either by Zeyd-ibn-Hasan (one of the sons of Imam Hasan AS who thought he was superior to Imam Baqer AS for the position of being Imam, since he had been the son of the elder son of Imam Ali AS (Imam Hasan was older than Imam Hossein AS), and that Imam Baqer who had been the grandson of the younger son of Imam Ali AS) did not deserve to be Imam); or by Ibrahim-ibn- Valid-ibn-Abdolmalek.