Imam Musa Kazim (alaihis salaam), a brief look into his Life
Name: Musa bin Ja'fer.
Titles: Al-Kadhim, Faqih, Aalim, Abdus-Salih-Virtuos slave, Babul Hawaaij.
Kuniyya: Abu Ibrahim.
Birth: 7th Safar 128 a.h. in Abwa (a place between Mecca and Madina).
Mother: Hamida Al-Barbariyya.
Father: Imam Ja'fer Sadiq (a.s.).
Death: 25th Rajab 183 a.h. Baghdad.
Buried: Kadhmain, Iraq.
His Parents & Birth:
Umme Hamida was a slave girl who was brought to Madina and bought by
the 5th Imam for his son for 17 dirhams. The first thing that he told her
was : "You are Hamida (the praised one) in this world and Mahmuda
(praiseworthy) in the hereafter". When the women of Madina used to come to
the 6th Imam to ask masails he used to send them to Umme Hamida saying: "Her
answers will be those given by me". Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (a.s.) was born in
Abwa (a place between Mecca and Madina). It is here that Bibi Amina (Prophet
Muhammad's (S.A.W.) mother) is buried. Imam was born when his parents were
returning from Mecca. As soon as he was born he did Sajda reciting Kalima
and bearing witness to the Imaamate of all the other Imams including his
He is one of the Imams whose miracles in childhood are reported
extensively. Imam Ja'fer As-Sadiq (A.S.) repeatedly pointed out Imam Musa
Al-Kadhim (a.s.) as his successor because he knew of the people who after
his death would differ. (N.B. The Ismailis say Ismail (Imams eldest son who
died whilst Imam Ja'fer Sadiq (a.s.) was still alive) was the 7th
Imam. One of the 6th Imam's other sons - Abdullah also claimed Imaamate.)
Yaqub Al-Saraaj visited the 6th Imam once who told him to greet his son
Musa who was a week old in his cradle. Imam Musa replied to the salaam and
told Yaqub to change his daughters name (Humayra) as it was a name not liked
Safwan (a companion of the 6th Imam) once saw the young Imam Musa
teaching the lamb he was playing with to prostrate to Allah.
Once when Imam was 5 years old, Abu Hanifa came to visit the 6th Imam.
He asked Imam Musa (a.s.): "O son of the Prophet! What is your opinion about
the deeds of man? Does he do them on his own free will or does God make him
do them?". The 7th Imam replied : "The doings of man can have three
1.God compels a man to do them whilst he is helpless.
2.Both God and man share the commitment.
3.Man does them alone.
If the first is true than God cannot punish man for sins he did not
If the second is true than too God cannot punish man for he is an equal
Then, we are naturally left with the third, that man is absolutely
responsible for his own doings".
(These were used to avoid using Imams name as the very mention of it
would lead to arrest, torture, harassment and/or death.) Babul Hawaaij (Door
of fulfilment of needs). Even after his death people have their needs
fulfilled and do not return empty handed from his shrine (Ask especially for
cure of physical illnesses, especially eyes). Kadhim (One who swallows his
anger). Imam Musa (a.s.) lived in an era when the rulers were the cruellest
ever. Their hatred for the Ahlul Bayt and their followers was intense.
Imam's followers were constantly harassed and tortured. The last 19 years of
his life was spent in prison. Despite all these hardships, he was always
patient spending entire nights in the worship of Allah. His character
even converted the prison wardens towards him.
His Life & Works (Imamate)
When his father was martyred (poisoned by the ruler Mansur Dawanaqi),
Mansur asked the governor of Madina to
behead all the trustees Imam had left. The governor (called Sulayman) wrote
back to say that the 6th Imam had left 5
trustees of whom he (Mansur) was the first and Sulayman the second followed
by Abdullah, Umme Hamida and Imam Musa (a.s.). Mansur kept quiet. After
the 6th Imam's death Mansur encouraged the Ismaili sect to develop although
he knew that Ismail had died 20 years before. At the same time the 6th
Imam's other son Abdullah claimed Imamate (however he only lived 17 days
after that). Mansur was busy building Baghdad after that (although the
torture and killing of the followers of Ahlul Bayt continued) and left Imam
Musa (a.s.) for a while in which Imam had a little time to teach true Islam.
When Mansur died his son Mahdi came to power in 158 a.h. He increased the
atrocities on the family and followers of Ahlul Bayt. Imam Musa (a.s.)
advised his followers to practise Taqiyya (meaning not to show ones faith
outwardly). Mahdi called Imam to Baghdad and imprisoned him releasing him
after a while.
After Mahdi came his son Musa who assumed the title Haadi. He only
ruled for 15 months but the atrocities continued.
After the death of Haadi came his brother Harun Rashid. It was he who
introduced Backgammon, Chess and Music as Islamic culture (they are Haraam).
Harun was told of the popularity of Imam Musa (a.s.) by Muhammad bin Ismail
(Imam's nephew) and about the collection of khums.
Harun was furious and wanting to prove his relationship to the Prophet
went to the Prophets grave and greeted the Prophet addressing him as his
uncle. Imam Musa (a.s.) was there and he addressed the Prophet as his
grandfather. Imam then asked Harun that if the Prophet were to come and
ask Harun for his daughters hand in marriage would he agree? Harun said
"Yes". Imam said "That is the difference between you and me - my daughter
would be haraam for the rophet (mahram)". Harun had Imam arrested in the
Prophet's mosque whilst Imam was praying. He was handcuffed and shackled and
sent to Basra. A similar caravan was sent to Baghdad to fool Imam's
followers. Imam was put into prison under the custody of Isa bin Ja'fer.
After a year Isa wrote to Harun saying he could no longer imprison Imam as
he could find only piety and righteousness in him. Harun had Imam moved to
Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi who too became a follower of
Imam. The prisons were so small that there was no room to stand and the food
was a cup of water and two pieces of dry bread a day. Imam remained patient.
Harun also hired people to kill Imam (It is reported that they were from
England). They too on seeing Imam cried and refused to murder him even
though they were paid to do so. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of
Sindi bin Shahak (a very cruel man). Imam remained in prison for the last 19
years of his life.
The 19 years of imprisonment gave the Shia population a little relief
as the rulers concentrated on Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from
Arabia to Iran, India etc. thus spreading Islam and it was one of the
factors towards the popularity of the 8th Imam.
Summary of his Life Works
In a situation in which the family and followers of the Ahlul Bayt were
being murdered and tortured Imam taught the true word of Allah. Through his
character and piety he showed the meaning of tabligh living up to the hadith
of the 6th Imam: "Acquire a true Muslim character and that shall spread
In 183 a.h. Sindi had Imam killed with poisoned dates. Another
narration says Imam was wrapped in a carpet and he was suffocated and
stamped on. His body was left on the bridge of Baghdad and an announcement
was made for all to come and see him.
N.B. It was a ploy to encourage Shias to come out in anger so they
could be identified.
When Harun Rashid's brother Sulayman heard of this he was furious and
arranged for his burial in a Quraysh cemetery outside Baghdad (the 8th Imam
gave ghusl and kafan). A town grew around the tomb of Imam called Kadhmain
(meaning the two Kadhims) since the 9th Imam is also buried there.
He had 19 sons & 18 daughters. The most famous of his sons is his
successor, Imam Ali Ar-Ridha (a.s.) and the most famous of his daughters is
Fatima Kubra known as Masuma Qum who is buried in Qum.