Birth and Martyrdom

Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) was born on fifteenth or nineteenth of Ramadan in the year 190 A.H. in Medina. His name was Muhammad, his father was Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.), and his mother was called Sabikah or Khiyzaran.1 His nickname was Abu Ja’far Al-Thani (the second), and his titles were Qani’, Murtaza, Jawad, and Taqi.2 He was seven years and eight months when his honorable father was martyred. His Imamate lasted seventeen years.3

Mu’tasam, the Abbaside caliph, called Imam Taqi (a.s.) and his wife, Ummul Fazl, the daughter of Ma’mun, to Baghdad. Imam (a.s.) went to Baghdad on twenty eighth of Muharram in the year 220 and was martyred in Zul Qa’dah in the same year in Baghdad. He was buried in the Quraysh tomb beside his grandfather’s grave, Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (a.s.). He was 25 years and some months then.4

Texts Proving His Imamate

Shiykh Mufid has written, “Some people have narrated traditions from Imam Abul Hasan Ridha’ (a.s.) about the Imamate of his son, Abu Ja’far (a.s.), including Ali Ibn Ja’far Ibn Muhammad Sadiq, Safwan Ibn Yahya, Mu’ammar Ibn Khalad, Husayn Ibn Yasar, Ibn Abi Nasr Baznati, Ibn Qiyama Wasiti, Hasan Ibn Jahm, Abu Yahya San’ani, Khiyrani, Yahya Ibn Habib Ziyarat…”5

Ali Ibn Ja’far Ibn Muhammad has said, “I took the hand of Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Ali Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) in my hand and told him, ‘I testify that you are the Imam from Almighty Allah.’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) wept and said, ‘O Uncle! Did you hear from my father that the Messenger of Allah (S) said, ‘May my father sacrifice for the son of the best female slave, Nuwbiyah Tayyibah, from whose generation an Imam will be expelled from his home and take revenge of his father and uncle. He will have a long occultation, in a way that it will be said that he has died or gone to another land.’ ’ I said, ‘May I sacrifice you! You are right.’”6

Safwan Ibn Yahya has said, ‘I told Imam Ridha’ (a.s.), ‘Before the Almighty Allah granted you your son, Abu Ja’far, I came to you and you said, ‘The Almighty Allah will grant me a son soon.’ Now Allah has granted you a son. If, Allah forbids, an event happens tos you, who should we refer to?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) pointed to his son, Abu Ja’far, and said, ‘Refer to him!’ I said, ‘May I sacrifice for you! How is it possible while he is only three years old?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) replied, ‘His little age does not contradict his Imamate. Prophet Jesus (a.s.) was Allah’s Messenger too, while he was younger than three.’’7

Mu’ammar Ibn Khallad has said, ‘I heard from Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) some issues about the signs of Imamate. Then he continued, ‘Why do you need these signs? I appoint my son, Abu Ja’far, as my successor and caliph after me.’ Then he stated, ‘We are a Household whose children are exactly like its elders.’ ’8

Husayn Ibn Yasar has said, “Ibn Qiyama wrote in a letter to Abul Hasan Ridha’ (a.s.), ‘How can you be an Imam, while you have no son to be your successor?’ Imam Abul Hasan (a.s.) wrote in reply, ‘How do you know that I will have no son? By Allah that He will grant me a son in a few days and he will separate the truth from untruth.’”9

Ibn Abi Nasr Baznati has said, “One day, Ibn Najashi told me, ‘Who will be the Imam after your master, Imam Ridha’ (a.s.)? Ask it and tell me about the answer.’ I went to Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) and asked the question of Ibn Najashi. Imam (a.s.) answered, ‘The Imam after me will be my son.’ Then he continued, ‘Who can talk about his son when he has no son?’ Abu Ja’far (a.s.) was not born at that time, but he was born a few days after that.”10

Ibn Qiyama Wusta –who was a Waqifi11– said, “I went to see Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) and told him, ‘Can two people be the Imams at the same time?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) replied, ‘No, except in case one of them is silent.’ I asked again, ‘Do we have a silent Imam now?’ Imam (a.s.) answered, ‘By Allah that He will grant me a son who will support the truth and its followers and will try to abolish the untruth.’ At that time, Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) had no son, but his son, Abu Ja’far, was born after one year.”12

Hasan Ibn Jahm has said, “I was with Imam Abul Hasan (a.s.). He called his little son, sat him on my lap, and said, ‘Take his garment off!’ I did so. Then Imam (a.s.) told me, ‘Look between his two shoulders!’ I looked at it and saw something like a signet between his two shoulders. Then Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) said, ‘My father had the same sign.’”13

Abu Yahya San’ani has said, “I was with Abul Hasan Ridha’ (a.s.) when his little son, Abu Ja’far, was brought. Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) said, ‘He is a great blessing for my Shi’ahs and no one has been born like him.14‘”

Khiyrani has narrated from his father, “I was with Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) in Khurasan. A man asked him, ‘If something bad happened to you, who should we refer to?’ Imam (a.s.) replied, ‘To my son, Abu Ja’far.’ That man wondered about Abu Ja’far’s little age. So Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) stated, ‘The Exalted Allah appointed Prophet Jesus (a.s.) to prophet hood when he was younger than Abu Ja’far.’”15

Muhammad Ibn Abi ‘Abbad –the ascribe of Imam Ridha’ (a.s.)– has said, “Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) always called his son, Muhammad, with his nickname, Abu Ja’far. Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) always treated his son so politely, while he was a child. Abu Ja’far’s (a.s.) letters to his father, Imam Ridha’ (a.s.), was written very eloquently and sent to Khurasan. I heard from Imam Ridha’ (a.s.), ‘Abu Ja’far is my successor and caliph.’”16

Musafir has said, “Abul Hasan Ridha’ (a.s.) told me in Khurasan, ‘Go to Abu Ja’far! He is your Imam and master.’”17

‘Ibrahim Ibn Abi Mahmud has said, “I was with Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) in Tus when a man said, ‘If something happens to you, who should we refer to?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) stated, ‘To my son, Muhammad.’ Perhaps the questioner considered the age of Abu Ja’far little. So Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) said, ‘The Almighty Allah appointed Jesus, son of Mary, to prophet hood, when he was younger than Abu Ja’far.’”18

Ibn Bazi’ has said, “Abul Hasan Ridha’ (a.s.) was asked, ‘Is the Imamate position devolved to the Imam’s uncles too?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) answered, ‘No.’ He was asked again, ‘Is it devolved to the Imam’s brother?’ ‘No,’ Imam (a.s.) answered. He was asked, ‘Who is the Imamate devolved to?’ Imam Ridha’ (a.s.) answered, ‘To my son.’ At that time, Imam (a.s.) had no son.”19


As proved in previous sections, the Imam is a perfect human, possessing all humane virtues and void of any vices or imperfections. This is, in fact, one of the signs and necessities of infallibility.

After someone’s Imamate is proved using certain reasons, his innate virtues are also proved. Therefore, knowledge, piety, worships, virtue, and being away from vices are necessities of every Imam and there is no difference among the Imams in this regard. All of them are perfect humans with all virtues. Childhood, adolescence, youth, or old age does not affect these good qualities. If it is observed that less information has reached us from some of the Imams or fewer traditions are cited in history books about the worship or virtues of some of them, it does not mean that they have been less perfect than other Imams. Rather, socio-political situations, the length of their lives, and their time and place conditions have made such different accounts of their lives.

Though many traditions have been narrated from Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) and recorded in tradition books, these traditions are less than those of his father and grandfathers. Not many traditions are cited about his worship, piety, alms-giving, and virtues.