Muhammad al Baqir
A noble descendant of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and an eminent figure of history. The sweet scent of his sublime character and the piercing light of his knowledge follows us into this chapter. Muhammad al Baqir ibn Zayn al ‘Abidin ‘Ali ibn Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I ask of you dear reader to read this chapter with an attentive heart. This Imam deserves a place deep in your heart and soul.
He was born in the 56th year of the hijrah in the city of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Madinah Munawwarah. He was an ardent worshiper of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. His views in the divine sciences, particularly in the exegesis of the Qur’an is well noted and referenced by scholars of the past and present. He is counted amongst the great scholars in the era of the Tabi’in. He is an authority in Islamic law and lines up with the great lawmakers in Islamic history. An avid reciter of the Qur’an. The scholars of hadith unanimously accept him as strong and trustworthy, one who can be trusted upon in establishing laws based on his narrations. Giants of knowledge in his era would sit at his feet as students and would perceive their need of his expertise. His title, Baqir (cleaver) was an attestation to him having cleaved open the metaphorical body of knowledge, taking out its secrets and wisdoms.
The poet says:
وخير من لبّى على الأجبل
يا باقر العلم لأهـل التقى
O the cleaver of knowledge for people devout, the best to raise Talbiyah over the plains.
Together with having attained tremendous amounts of knowledge, he was a devout worshipper who practiced abstention from worldly riches. He was truly, a leader of the people of the monotheistic faith. He would perform one hundred and fifty units of prayer in a day and night. He did not take solace in his lineage nor did he use it as a means of being lax. Rather he doubled his efforts and lived as an ascetic. These words would often be on his lips, “This world is a conveyance that I have alighted upon or a garment that I have worn.”
Al Dhahabi says, “He is of those special ones who managed to master the art of reconciling between knowledge and worship, power and nobility, poise and confidence, and was worthy of khilafah.”
Muhammad al Baqir married into the family of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. His wife is Umm Farwah bint al Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Whilst going through the pangs of death he said, “O Allah, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma are my forerunners. If there is anything besides love for them in my heart, then deprive me of prophetic intercession.”
The reverence he had attached to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma is narrated in traditions that are many and successive, contrary to the false propaganda emerging from Iraq. He once said to Jabir:
O Jabir news has reached me of the people in Iraq who claim to love us harbour ill feelings towards Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. They believe that I have instructed them so. Let it reach their ears and hearts, I absolve myself of their claims. By the being in whose hand the life of Muhammad lies! If it was not for my prayer and seeking forgiveness on the behalf of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, I would not attain the intercession of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Surely those that are unaware of their status are enemies of Allah. [In another statement he says]: Let the people of Kufah know, I absolve myself from him who harbours ill feelings towards Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.
Dear reader, though Imam Baqir had such a grand standing, he was extremely humble. He would despise the haughty and say, “The amount of pride a person has in his heart is relative to the amount of intelligence snatched from his mind.” His level of patience and contentment with the decision of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala too is worthy mention. His son once fell ill, which he dealt with by crying unto Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, however as soon as his child had passed away he immediately discontinued crying and displayed patience. When he was asked about this strange behaviour he said, “When he fell ill I prayed for him, once he had passed away I did not oppose Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in that which he loved. I was patient and content.”
The life of Imam Baqir and by extension the lives of the Ahlul Bayt are like guiding stars for the lost traveller. Their lives are embodiments of sublime character, high aspirations, and respect. Who knows not of Muhammad al Baqir has been left oblivious of a great man. How can one be unaware of a man who has an entire era of history dedicated to him by way of books and journals. He is a guide for the people of abstinence, the light of the authorities in Islamic law, and the role model for those to come after.
Malik ibn A’yun says:
كانت قريش عليه عيالا
|اذا طلب الناس علم القران|
|نلت بذالك فرعا طوالا||
و ان قيل ان ابن بنت الرسول
جبال تورث علما حبالا
تحوم تهلل للمدلجين
When people seek knowledge of the divine book; they are at lost without the Quraysh.
If it were said, the grandson of the prophet; took great strides in the sciences,
Those that seek out knowledge would swarm; this luminary upon the mountain of knowledge.
Muhammad al Baqir distinguished himself from others by virtue of his devotion to praying before Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. His father Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin would often say:
O Allah, you say:
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيْدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِيْ لَشَدِيْدٌ
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe
And you say:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُوْنِيْ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ يَسْتَكْبِرُوْنَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِيْ سَيَدْخُلُوْنَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِيْنَ
And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.
You have thus attached asking of you a worship and not asking of you a sign of pride, which will guarantee a person’s entry into hell.
Where are the Muslims of today in relation to their asking of and begging to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala? Where are the ill, widowed, and depressed? Are they praying to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala?
Muhammad al Baqir was clear in his stance that Dua is the best form of worship. He was once asked, “What type of worship is the most superior?” He replied:
There is nothing more noble in the sight of Allah than a person asking of him what Allah has by him. And there is nothing more despicable in the sight of Allah than one who is too proud to worship and ask of him.
Why is it that we do not turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in Dua? We complain of our worries to people not raising our hands to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. We exhaust all other avenues before turning our attention to the creator of the skies and earth, one who does not turn back hands that are raised to him empty handed. Ponder over the saying of Imam Baqir, “There is nothing more superior in the sight of Allah than asking of him.”
It is no wonder than that he would sincerely beg of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in the last portion of the night when men are asleep, knowing full well that this act of his is a worship like none other. He would beg in sweet words and rhythms to his creator:
اللهم لك الحمد يا رب أنت نور السماوات والأرض فلك الحمد وأنت قوام السماوات والأرض فلك الحمد وأنت جمال السماوات والأرض فلك الحمد وأنت صريخ المستصرخين فلك الحمد وأنت غياث المستغيثين فلك الحمد وأنت تجيب دعوة المضطرين فلك الحمد وأنت أرحم الراحمين فلك الحمد اللهم بك تنزل كل حاجة فلك الحمد وبك يا إلهي أنزلت حوائجي الليلة فاقضها لي يا قاضي الحوائج اللهم أنت الحق وقولك الحق ووعدك الحق وأنت ملك الحق أشهد أن لقائك الحق وأن الساعة آتية لا ريب فيها وأنك تبعث من في القبور اللهم لك أسلمت وبك آمنت وعليك توكلت وبك خاصمت وإليك حاكمت فاغفر لي ما قدمت وأخرت وأسررت وأعلنت إنك الحي الذي لا إله إلا أنت
All praise is to You my Sustainer the Light of the heavens and earth; praise is to You, the Keeper of the heavens and earth; praise is to You, the Beautifier of the heavens and earth; praise is to You, the Object of the caller’s; praise is to You, the Helper of the helpless; praise is to You, the Answerer to the coerced; praise is to you, the Most Merciful of those who show mercy; praise is to You. O Allah, all needs are fulfilled through You; praise is to You, to You I present my needs of this night I beg of You to fulfil my needs. O Allah, You are true, Your Word is true, Your promise is true, You are the true Supreme Being. I bear witness that meeting You is true and the Last Day is true in which there is no doubt. You will resurrect the dwellers of the grave. O Allah, I submit to You, believe in You, place my trust in You, fight by You, and judge through You. Forgive my past and future sins, those committed openly and those committed in secret. You are truly alive, there is no deity besides You.
With these words of praise Muhammad al Baqir would call unto his Lord. When dawn would rise he would say:
The morning has come, and my Lord is praiseworthy. The morning has come and do not ascribe partners to Him, nor do I beseech anyone but Him. Besides him no one is my Helper.
These are some pearls from the life of this noble saint. Character and mannerisms that mirror those of prophethood, inherited by Imam al Baqir from his grandfather Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This was his life until he bid farewell to this temporary abode in the year 114 A.H. in Madinah having instilled these qualities into his son, Jafar al Sadiq.
NEXT⇒Jafar al Sadiq
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 45 pg. 271.
 Tarikh al Islam, vol. 7 pg. 464.
 Hilyat al Awliya’, vol. 3 pg. 182; Ibn Abi al Dunya Dhamm al Dunya, 385; Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 405.
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 402.
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 45 pg. 286.
 Hilyah al Awliya’, vol.3 pg. 185.
 Ibid; Ibn Abi al Dunya: Al Tawadu’ wa al Khumul, pg. 226.
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 54 pg. 271.
 Surah Ibrahim: 7.
 Surah al Ghafir: 60.
 Al Sahifah al Sajjadiyah, pg. 294.
 Al Wasail, chapter on selecting Dua over other forms of desirable worship, vol. 7 pg. 30.
 ‘Awali al Laali, vol. 4 pg. 19; al Kafi, vol. 2 pg. 466, Book of Dua, what should one say in the morning and evening.
 Al Kafi, vol. 2 pg. 388