Short Biography of Imam Musa Kazem AS
Imam Musa Kazem AS was born on 7th of Safar, 128 hijri (12th November 745) in the village of Abva’, in the distance between the two cities of Mecca and Medina.
His name had been Musa and he was also known as the patient, the trusted, Kazem (the tolerant), etc. he was most popular as Kazem, literally meaning, one who overcomes his anger, since he was patient and tolerant towards all the troubles that the government caused for him. His enemies also described him as one who was kind, even to those who had harassed and tormented him.
His mother was named Hamideh, and she was a learned and pious woman, to the extent that Imam Sadeq AS had assigned her as the teacher and preacher for women.
Imam Musa Kazem’s martyrdom happened on 25th Rajab 183 hijri (31 August 799). He was 55 years old at the time of his death. Imam Musa Kazem AS became imam when he was 20 years old, and was an Imam for 35 years, but most of his Imamat time, was spent in prisons and under confinement. His Imamat was in the time of Banu Abbas caliphates. Imam was spent the first years with Mansur’s caliphate, who did not do any harms to imam or imprison him. After Mansur’s death, Mahdi, became the new caliph and in the ten years that he coincided Imam Musa Kazem’s Imamat, he imprisoned Imam in Iraq. Due to witnessing Imam’s several miracles and piety, he never dared injuring or killing imam, and finally returned Imam back to Medina. After Mahdi, Hadi became the next caliph, for one and a half year, in which he as well could not do any harms to him. Hadi as well had summoned Imam and imprisoned him, but had a vision in dream, in which Imam Ali AS admonished him. Therefore, Hadi released Imam, but intended to imprison him again after a while. Fortunately, death afflicted him and Hadi did not find the chance to do any more harms. After Hadi, Harun AlRashid became the new caliph, who again imprisoned Imam and killed him by poison in the 14th year of his caliphate.
The causes and manner in which Harun killed Imam Musa Kazem AS is noteworthy because it involves certain personages and families that are intermingled with the history of Persia and Arabic world:
In the time of Haroun AlRashid, since he wanted to assign his successor, he chose three from among his 14 sons: The first option for successor and heir was, Amin, Zobaideh’s son; next, Mamoun; and the third had been Ghasem. Amin’s tutor and consulter had been Jafar bin Mohammad bin Ashas. Yahya Barmaki, who strengthened the Barmakiyan dynasty and who was Haroun’s minister, thought that if Amin would become the next caliph, Jafar, his consulter, would have total authority, and as a result, his own family and dynasty would be omitted from the kingdom. Therefore, he plotted against him by falsely propagating that Jafar had been a devote Shiite and that he met Imam Musa Kazem AS constantly, and knows the Imam as the true caliph of the time, and that he sends one fifth of his revenues (Khoms) to Imam Kazem AS. Therefore, Yahya made Haroun suspicious. Harun then asked him and his other trustees if they knew anyone close to Imam Musa from whom they could investigate the case, and Yahya recommended Ali bin Ismail bin Jafar, Imam Musa’s nephew, whom Imam had helped a lot and who knew about Imam’s personal relationships. Therefore, Harun sent for Ali bin Ismail and summoned him to Baqdad.
When Ali reached Baqdad, Yahya reached him first and told him about his plot, and promised him fortune if he cooperated. When Yahya and Ali entered upon Haroun, and Haroun started questioning him about Imam Musa Kazem AS, Ali lied, “he is the caliph in Medina and you are the caliph in Baqdad, and two caliphs cannot coincide in one time. People pay him taxes in Medina, and he (Imam) is going to buy a residence worthy of thirty thousand Dirhams there and has named it Yasireh. Haroun raged by the incident, and grateful of Ali, paid Ali two hundred thousand Dirhams, but Ali bin Ismail died a short while after he reached his hometown and the money was returned back to the caliphate’s treasury.
A short while after this incident, Haroun sent Fazl bin Rabi to arrest Imam and bring him from Medina to Baqdad. Fazl arrested Imam, and disrespected him by dragging him outside Prophet’s mosque while he was saying his prayers. When Imam reached Haroun’s palace, Haroun also disrespected him and cursed him and imprisoned him in Basrah in the house of Isa bin Abi Jafar Mansour, Haroun’s cousin and the ruler of Basrah. Imam was imrpsioned there for one year, but Isa did not dare kill imam despite Haroun’s insistence, especially since Imam Musa was always only praying and worshipping God and did not meddle in the political trends of the timeTherefore, Haroun ordered that Imam be sent to Fazl bin Rabi’s house and be imprisoned there, but Fazl bin Rabi also did not dare murder Imam. Haroun then transferred Imam to Fazl bin Yahya Barmaki’s house (the son of his own minister Yahya, who had plotted against Imam in the first place), but Fazl, son of Yahya, also could not do any harms to Imam. Haroun, was disappointed with the Barmaki dynasty because of this disobedience and jailed Fazl and instead hired Sendi bin Shahak to murder imam. Sendi poisoned Imam by poisonous dates.
The Barmakian dynasty, which started by Khaled bin Barmak, the son of Barmak, Bani Umayyad’s caliph, Abdol Malek Marvan’s doctor. Khaled participated in the revolt of Abu Moslem Khorasani against the Banu Umayyad dynasty and was one of the chief leaders in Abu Moslem’s army. Their revolt against the Umayyad dynasty resulted in the killing of all the family. Banu Abbas, became the new caliphate afterwards, who used the Barmak family in their chief political positions; therefore, making the Barmaks a powerful authority in both Persian and Arab worlds. Howver, despite their struggle to maintain power, they diminished after Haroun’s disappointments in the family. Haroun imprisoned and later killed Yahya and his son Fazl in prison, and chose Fazl bin Rabi as his minister.