Jafar bin Muhammad bin Ali
, sixth Shia
Imam, theologian and jurist
. He was born in Medina
on April 20, 702, and died on December 4, 765. His legal judgments laid the foundations for what will eventually become the Shia Jafari
school of jurisprudence. He was well respected by both Sunni
Jafar's eldest son, Ismail, died before Jafar. After Jafar's death, a dispute arose in Shia community concerning the rightful successors. Although Ismail died, a new branch of Shiaism split from mainstream Shiaism, calling it self the Ismailites and the Aga Khan
family line was established. On the other hand, Jafar's second son, Musa Al-Kazim
, led predominant Shias.
Jafar was a direct descendant of the prophet of Islam through Muhammad's daughter, Fatima
. Additionally, Jafar's mother Farwah bint Al-Qasim was the great granddaughter of Abu Bakr
, first Calpih
of the early Islamic state.
As a child, Jafar studied under his grandfather, Ali bin Husain
. After Jafar's grandfather died, he studied under his father, Muhammad Al-Baqir, 5th Shia Imam. In 743, the 5th Imam died, and Jafar succeeded him.
Jafar was famed for depth and breadth of knowledge. In adition to being versed in Sunah, Hadith, and Quran, he also learned mathematics
, and many subjects.
The famous Islamic alchemist, Jabir bin Huyan
, known in Europe
, studied under Jafar. Other famous students included Abu Hanifa
, and Malik bin Anas
, the founders of the 3 most prominent schools of Sunni jurisprudence. Wasil bin Ata
, founder of the extinct Mutazilite
jurisprudence also learned from Jabir.
Jafar approached learning liberally, and was delighted to debate with other scholars of different beliefs and faiths. Abu Hanifa stated, "My knowledge extends to only two years. The two I spent with Jafar al-Sadiq". Some scholars went to the extent of calling Jafar as the root of most of Islamic jurisprudence, having influence on both Sunni and Shia school of thought.
In the violent times that Jafar lived under, he was noted to have emphasized the Imam as the responsible in the spiritual sphere rather than the physical, where the Caliphs were responsible. Yet, because of his powerful position, he attracted the attention of the political divisions rising near the end of the Ummayad
Jafar's family had seen extreme persecution for four generations. Jafar's uncle, Zaid bin Ali
, led a rebilion against the Umayyad. Jafar did not participate, but many of his relatives did, and many died or were severely punished. Many other rebellions continued as the Ummayad dynasty began to fall, giving rise to the Abbasid
Despite the existence of many factions, all wanting to gain power, and all having rival claims, making numerous requests to Jafar to endorse them, Jafar ignored them. Jafar adopted Taqqiya (Quietism
), where he remained in a state of calmness and non violence.
Jafar once famously stated, "This man is not from me and cannot give me what is in the province of Allah." This response was sent to an Abbasid leader requesting support from Jafar and promising Jafar a position as a Caliph.
Although he abstained from politics, he was regularly harassed by Abbasid rulers because of his popularity and was subsequently jailed a few times. Jafar died in December 4, 765 from poisoning, he was buried in Janat Al-Baqi
, in Medina.