This chapter reviews the life of Imam Javad (AS) and provides an
overview of his social, scientific, and political achievements. It also
highlights the unique aspect of the Imamat of Imam Javad, which was
that his Imamat was at a very young age.

9-1-During the Government of Amin
Imam Muhammad ibn Ali (AS), also known as Javad or Taqi, was born
on the 15th of Ramazan in the year 195 Hijri in Medina. He was given
the title of Abu-Ja’far by his father Imam Reza (AS), which was
originally the title of Imam Baqir (AS). To distinguish him from Imam
Baqir, he would also be called Abu-Ja’far al-Thani, or “The Second
Abu-Ja’far”. He was the only child of Imam Reza. His mother was Lady
Sabikeh who, before marrying Imam Reza, was a slave. Similar to
Najmeh Khatoon, the mother of Imam Reza, Lady Sabikeh was also
originally from an area in Africa that is between modern day Egypt and
Sudan. She belonged to the same tribe as Maria al-Qibtiyya, the
Prophet’s wife and the mother of Ibrahim, who passed away in early
childhood during the life of the Prophet. To purge bad memories from
the period of her captivity, Imam Reza also called her by the name of
Khayzuran. She was unique in piety among the other women of her
time. She had such great status that, years earlier, before Imam Kazim’s
imprisonment, Imam Kazim had asked someone to pass his greetings
to her.
9-1-2-Difficulties of Late Fatherhood
Imam Javad was born when his father Imam Reza was 46-years old,
when 12 years had passed from the start of Imam Reza’s Imamat.
During these 12 years, many doubted if Imam Reza was the true Imam
of the time, as he did not have a son to inherit the Imamat. Among the
skeptics were the Vaghefi Shias, who did not believe in the Imamat of
Imam Reza, and were looking for any excuse to challenge his Imamat.
Imam Reza was patient with the accusations against him. He would
confidently respond with a prophecy that God will certainly bless him
with a son who will inherit the Imamat after him.
Even after Imam Reza’s prophecy became a reality and Imam Javad was
born, the accusations against him did not stop. Some doubted and
spread rumors that Imam Javad was not really Imam Reza’s son. This
9- Imam Javad (AS): The Imam of Generosity
went so far that even some of the Imam’s close relatives were also
influenced by the rumors. They came to the Imam and questioned
Imam Javad’s darker complexion, which was rare in the family. They
asked the Imam to allow them to bring some experts who could
confirm that Imam Reza was the biological father of Imam Javad, by
matching their faces and body gestures. Due to their insistence, the
Imam finally agreed. The experts came and verified that Imam Reza was
indeed Imam Javad’s biological father.
9-1-3-Honorable Childhood
The Imam Javad’s birth brought great joy to Imam Reza and his family.
This was not only because Imam Reza had become a father at an old
age, but also because it verified his Imamat. The Shia community gained
trust and confidence in their belief in the Imamat of Imam Reza, as he
now had a son to become his successor. Imam Reza described Imam
Javad as a newborn more auspicious and blessed for the Shias than any
other newborns. The Imam would stand by Imam Javad’s cradle and
speak to him in private for a long time. When Imam Reza was asked
about their conversation, he responded that he was giving his son the
benefits of his knowledge.
Imam Reza had frequently introduced Imam Javad as his successor in
the Imamat, to his companions and representatives, despite Imam
Javad’s very young age. Once, one of Imam Reza’s companions asked
him whom he should refer to after the Imam. Imam Reza revealed
Imam Javad as his successor. The companion reacted with surprise at
Imam Javad’s very young age, who was just 3 years old. Imam Reza
responded that age is not a limitation for the Imamat. Imam Reza then
continued with the example of Prophet Jesus from the Quran, who
began his Prophethood as a newborn.
Imam Reza had special honor and respect for his only child, Imam
Javad. He would always call Imam Javad by his title of Abu-Ja’far
instead of his original name Muhammad, which in Arab culture, shows
respect. Also, when Imam Reza travelled to Merv, he would address
Imam Javad with his title of Abu-Ja’far in his letters.

Imam Javad was also very attached to his beloved father. Before Imam
Reza was taken to Merv, he had taken Imam Javad to Mecca for
pilgrimage. The Imam, at such a young age, had realized that his father
was performing his farewell prayers around the Ka’ba as if it were his
last visit. Imam Javad was extremely saddened and did not move from
his place until Imam Reza asked him to do so.
9-2-During the Government of Ma’mun
9-2-1-Ma’mun in Power
After multiple battles that took place over a course of more than two
years, Ma’mun was finally able to defeat and kill110 his brother Amin.
With Amin’s death, Ma’mun officially became the only Abbasid Caliph.
Instead of returning to the original Abbasid capital of Baghdad,
Ma’mun decided to stay in Merv, present day Mary in Turkmenistan,
and made it the capital of his government. However, his government
was unstable, and various uprisings and riots threatened his power. The
main threat to his government was led by the Alavids, who viewed the
Abbasids as an illegitimate government from its very beginning. The
term Alavids refers to the children of Imam Ali (AS), which also include
the Prophet’s descendants from his daughter, Lady Fatimah (SA). The
Alavid uprisings were initiated in Kufa by one of the descendants of
Imam Hasan (AS), known as Ibn Tabataba. The uprising in Kufa
quickly spread to other cities including Mecca, Medina, Yemen, Basrah,
Madain, and Ahvaz, and became a serious threat for Ma’mun’s newly
established government. After around ten challenging months, Ma’mun
was finally able to defeat these widespread uprisings.
9-2-2-Ma’mun’s Plot for Imam Reza
Although Ma’mun was able to defeat the widespread Alavid uprisings,
he could not put an end to the long years of conflict between the
Alavids and the Abbasids. Thus, Ma’mun, who is known as the most

strategic caliph among the other Abbasid Caliphs, decided to find an
innovative solution to deal with the potential threat of the Alavids. He
decided to associate the Alavids with his government. He chose Imam
Reza for his plot, who was the most well-known character among the
Alavids. Imam Reza was famous among the Muslims for his divine
knowledge, due to years of scientific work and contributions in Medina.
Imam Reza was also the spiritual leader and the Imam for Shia Muslims.
To implement his plot, Ma’mun sent invitations and insisted that the
Imam travel to Merv and meet him. The Imam rejected all of Ma’mun’s
invitations, but could not change his decision. Finally, Ma’mun sent
military delegates to Medina to bring the Imam to Merv. Imam Reza
realized that Ma’mun would not stop, and was finally forced to travel
to Merv along with Ma’mun’s delegates111.
Before leaving Medina, Imam Reza held the hand of his beloved fiveyear old son, Imam Javad, and visited the tomb of the Holy Prophet.
He sought the Prophet’s protection for his son. Imam Reza then asked
his companions and representatives to obey Imam Javad, and revealed
him as his successor to the Imamat.

9-2-3-Imam Reza in Merv
After Imam Reza was brought to Merv112, Ma’mun finally informed the
Imam about his real intentions. Over a course of about two months,
there were multiple discussions between Ma’mun and the Imam about
having the Imam take a role in the government. The Imam rejected all
of Ma’mun’s offers. Eventually, Ma’mun lost his patience and
threatened to kill the Imam. It was then that the Imam accepted
Ma’mun’s offer to be the Crown Prince, with certain conditions113. The
Imam emphasized that his role would only be to observe governmental
affairs from a distance and serve strictly as a consultant. With these
conditions, the Imam prohibited Ma’mun from making any

governmental decision using the Imam’s name or influence on the
hearts of the people.
Part of Ma’mun’s plot in bringing Imam Reza to Merv was to isolate
him from the people and his Shia followers. Thus, Ma’mun put the
Imam’s life under intense surveillance. A year after the Imam’s arrival
in Merv, Ma’mun proposed that his daughter, Um-Habib, marry Imam
Reza, and insisted that the Imam marry her. Through this marriage,
Ma’mun was able to monitor all aspects of the Imam’s private life.
Furthermore, Ma’mun, who knew that Imam Reza already had a
beloved son, decided to promise his other daughter, Um-Fazl, to Imam
Javad while both Imam Javad and Um-Fazl were very young. He made
this decision in Imam Javad’s absence, whom he had never even met.
When Imam Reza was in Merv, he missed his beloved son and
communicated with him through letters. In one letter, Imam Reza
advised Imam Javad to use the main entrance of his house, despite the
opinion of his caretakers. They wanted Imam Javad to use the other
door of the house to avoid any contact between him and the needy,
who would wait in front of the main entrance of the Imam’s house in
hopes of receiving charity. In the letter, Imam Reza also specified a
minimum amount of charity for Imam Javad in his donations. With this
advice, Imam Reza wanted the title of ‘Javad’, which means generous,
to shine in his son’s character. Thus, Imam Javad was well known for
his generosity even before his Imamat.