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Imprisonment of Imam Al-Kazim [peace be upon him]
By: Isa bin Ali Abdellah
Imam Musa Ibn-e-Jafar al-Kazim, peace be upon him, seventh infallible successor of Chief of Prophets Prophet Muhammad Ibn-e-Abdellah, peace be upon him and his progeny, suffered from different kinds of painful ordeals and misfortunes in the time of tyrants of his era. Among them was the tyrant, Harun, who spared no effort to wrong and punish him. Imam, peace be upon him, spent his youth till his martyrdom in Harun's prisons.
According to the narrators "One of the reasons which moved Harun to imprison the Imam is that he (Harun) surrounded by the nobles, eminent figures, ministers, and high-ranking officials of his state went to pay a visitation to the tomb of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, saying: 'Peace be on you, Apostle of Allah! Peace be on you, cousin.'"
Using these words “…cousin”, he was seeking to show his proud position over the others by his blood relation with the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, as Imam Musa al-Kazim, peace be upon him, was standing beside him. Imam greeted the great Prophet, saying: "'Peace be on you, Apostle of Allah! Peace be on you, father!" Harun al-Rashïd lost his mind. The expression on his face changed and the anger in it became transparently obvious. That is because the Imam was closer than him to the Prophet and more adjacent to him than others. Harun became asked the Imam: "Why did you say that you were closer to Allah's Apostle, peace be upon him and his progeny, than me?"
The Imam, peace be upon him, gave to him a definite, undeniable proof, saying: "If Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him and his progeny, was resurrected and asked you for your daughter's hand, would you respond to him?" Harun retorted: "Glory belongs to Allah…I seek to show my proud position over the Arabs and non-Arabs through this (deed)."
The Imam, peace be upon him, continued to establish proofs against him regarding his being closer to the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, than him, saying: "However, Allah's Messenger does not ask me for my daughter's hand; nor do I marry (her) to him, for he is our father, not your father; therefore, I am nearer to him than you."
Harun al-Rashïd found no way to refute the Imam's argument. Accordingly, he harbored malice against the Imam, went to the tomb of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, and said to him hypocritically: "May my father and mother be your ransom, O Apostle of Allah, I apologize to you for something I want to do. I want to imprison Musa Ibn-e-Jafar because he is intending to bring division into your community and to cause the shedding of its bleed."
Harun thought that his apologizing to the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, for committing a crime would profit him and release him from this responsibility on the day when the wrongdoers would be losers.
Next day he issued orders for Imam’s arrest, and his men arrested the Imam while he was standing and praying by the head of his grandfather, the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny. They interrupted his prayer and did not give him any respite to complete it. They shackled him and took him out of that holy place while he was weeping bitter tears, complaining to his grandfather, and saying: "I complain to you, O Allah's Messenger!"
They put him in chains and arranged two camel-litters, made him sit on one of the two, which was placed upon the camel, placing the other one on another camel. With the camel-litters Harun sent some horsemen who were divided into two groups outside Medina .One group left for Baghdad and the other one left for Basra. Imam was in the second group and this was Harun’s wish for, he did not want people to know anything about Imam’s destination (Whether he goes to Baghdad or Basra) and no one could realize his accompanying horsemen. On his way to Basra, the Imam met 'Abd Allah, son of the late al-Azdi. He gave him a letter and ordered him to hand it over to his successor Imam al-Reza`, peace be on him, and told him that he (Imam al-Reza`) was the Imam after him.
Harun ordered the horsemen to deliver Imam to Isa Ibn-e Ja’far Ibn-e Mansoor, head of the prisons who lived in Basra.
Imam Kazim, peace be upon him, in various prisons:
1- In Isa Ibn-e Ja’far’s prison
Arriving Basra, the horsemen delivered Imam Kazim, peace be upon him, to Isa Ibn-e-Jafar. That was on the seventh day of Zul-Hijja. Imam spent one year in Basra in his prison. Harun wrote a letter to Isa Ibn-e-Jafar to kill Imam. Having received Harun’s letter, Jafar summoned some of his close friends and reliable ones, read the letter to them and sought for their advice. “Do not kill Imam and ask Harun to exempt you from this duty”, said they to him.
Isa wrote a letter to Harun mentioning that “ It has been such a long time since Imam has been in my prison during which I have tested him and my spies were watching his every movements, but I could not find anything about him except this fact that he was always praying. Even I arranged so that one of my secret guards could listen to his praying.
According to my secret guard Imam was not cursing you and me, and was not calling out our names badly and also was asking for nothing but God’s forgiveness and blessing. Now send someone to here so that I can deliver Imam to him or I will set him free for I suffer a lot keeping him in prison.”
It is said that one of the spies reported about the praying which he had heard from Imam, peace be upon him, during his imprisonment .The praying was “O God! You know that I had been asking you to spare me time to devote myself to Your service. You have done that. Praise be to You."
2- In Fazlibn-e Rabi’s Prison
Receiving Isa’s letter, Harun sent someone to Basra to receive Imam, peace be upon him, and sent him to Baghdad and to deliver him to Fazlibn-e Rabi’ (One of the ministers).
Rabi’ did not detain him in the public prisons because he feared that a discord would occur and the public opinion would run in disorder because of the Imam's exalted position and his great personality. Imam was in Baghdad for a long time in Rabi’s prison.
The Imam, peace be upon him, devoted himself to the acts of worship and obedience to Allah. Fazl admired his acts of worship. 'Abd Allah al-Qazwïni has narrated: "I (i.e. 'Abd Allah al-Qazwïni) visited Fazlibn-e-Rabï'. While he was sitting on the top of his house, he said to me: 'Come nearer to me.' I went nearer to him to the extent that I (stood) beside him. Then he said to me: 'Overlook the house.'"
'Abd Allah towered over the house, and Fazl asked him: What can you see in the house?
-I can see a garment thrown (on the ground)
'Abd Allah considered, looked carefully, and said: A man prostrating himself in prayer.
-Can you recognize him?
-No, I can't.
-That is your master.
-Are you pretending not to know of 'Ali?
-I'm not pretending, but I don't know that I have a master.
-That is Abu` al-Hasan, Musa Ibn-e-Jafar.
'Abd Allah was one of those who adopted Imam al-Kazim's Imamate. Then Fazl told him about his acts of worship, saying: "I (i.e. Fazl) visit him day and night. I did not find him at any time but in the state about which I am telling you. He prays the dawn prayer, then he says his personal prayers at the end of his prayer for an hour until the sun rose. He remains prostrating himself until the sun comes near to descending (from its midday zenith). He has ordered a retainer to tell him about the sun's coming near to descending. I do not know when the retainer says: 'The sun has come near to descending.'
"Suddenly, he stands and begins praying without renewing his ritual ablution, so I come to know that he does not sleep during his prostration; nor does he slumber. He continues praying until he performs the afternoon prayer. When he has performed the afternoon prayer, he performs one prostration. Then he continues praying and his personal prayer until he performs the evening and night prayers. When he has performed the evening and night prayers, he breaks the fast by eating roasted meat which is brought to him. Then he renews the ritual ablution and prostrates himself in prayer. Then he raises his head and slumbers. Then he stands and renews the ritual ablution and continues praying until day dawns. I do not know when the retainer says: 'Day has dawned!' abruptly, he performs the dawn prayer. This is his behavior since he has been handed over to me."
These are the acts of worship of Imam al-Kazim, the master of the Allah-fearing and Imam of those who turn to Allah in repentance. He showed love for Allah, served and obeyed Him.
When 'Abd Allah came to know that Fazl admired the Imam's acts of worship, he warned him against carrying out Harun's order regarding killing the Imam, saying: "Fear Allah! Do not bring about an event removing blessing. You know that when someone does evil for someone, his blessing perishes."
Fazl confirmed 'Abd Allah's statement, saying: "They sent for me more than one time and ordered me to kill him, but I did not respond to them." Fazl did not kill the Imam; nor did he expose him to a detested thing because he was afraid of Allah's wrath and punishment in this world and the next.
Harun through a letter ordered Fazl to deliver him to Fazlibn-e Yahya.
3- In Fazlibn-e Yahya Barmaky’s prison
Fazlibn-e Yahya received Imam and let him be in one of the rooms of his house having hired the watchmen controlling him. They reported that Imam was always praying and he connected day with night through praying and reciting Quarn, busy with praying and he was fasting so many days and he was not turning his face away from the direction of praying.
By observing Imam’s behavior, Fazl respected him a lot. Harun had received news about all these. At that time he was in a nearby city in Baghdad. He wrote a letter to Fazl demanding that he had to kill Imam not respect him. Fazl did not obey Harun and he did not kill Imam. Harun received the news regarding the issue. He became very angry and summoned Masroor Khadim (One of his cruelest men) immediately to go to Baghdad to Musa Ibn-e-Jafar. "If you find him comfortable, you will give this letter to Abbas Ibn-e Mohammad and order him to do as the letter dictates to him” he said.
4- In Sandi Ibn-e Shahak’s prison
Harun gave another letter to Masroor Khadim demanding that the letter must be handed to Sandi Ibn-e Shahak (a cruel Jewish jailer). It was included in the letter that Sandi Ibn-e Shahak must obey Abbas Ibn-e Mohammad in anyway.
Masroor Khadim went to Baghdad and entered Fazl Ibn-e Yahya’s house. No one knew the reason of Masroor’s presence there. He directly went to Imam and as he was told, Imam was convenient. So, he went to Abbas Ibn-e Mohammad and Sandi Ibn-e Shahak and handed them Harun’s letters.
Shortly after that, Abbas’s delegate came hurriedly to Fazl’s house. Fazl got nervous and accompanied Abbas’s delegate to his house. Abbas asked for several whips and board -like objects. Then he ordered to bare Yahya and Sandi Ibn-e Shahak whipped him for one hundred times during which Abbas was personally witnessing the event. After that, Fazl left Abbas’s house. Masroor Khadim wrote a letter to Harun through which he explained all the event regarding the issue. Having recognized Sandi Ibn-e Shahak as a suitable person for killing and torturing Imam Kazim, peace be upon him, Harun ordered Khadim to deliver Imam to Shahak. So was it.
According to reports, poison was inserted into some dates and presented to the holy Imam. Shortly after eating these, Imam, peace be upon him, felt the symptoms due to consuming poison in him. He suffered for three days and on the third day he returned to God and was martyred. It was 25th Rajab.
Then, Harun ordered to put the chained holy corpse of infallible Imam Musa al-Kazim, descendant of the Chief of Prophets, on Baghdad Bridge.
Sheikh Mohammed Mulla has said: “Error (Baatil) has become delighted at his death; and right (Haq) has held a funeral ceremony for him!
His coffin has been placed on the Bridge of al-Rasa`fa; the angels have surrounded him in magnifying!”