On Thursday, July 7, 2022, on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.), the webinar “Role of Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.) in the Unity of the Islamic Ummah” was held by the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly in collaboration of Velayat TV, in the conference hall of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.
At 6 p.m., Mr. Shafiee as the host started the program:
We seek refuge in Allah from the Satan the cursed one
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Dear viewers, brothers, and sisters
Salam (peace) and blessings of Allah be upon you
You are watching an English webinar which is broadcast live from AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, discussing about the role of Imam Baqer (a.s.) in the unification of the Islamic Ummah. Today is the martyrdom anniversary of this Imam and we have to emphasize on the fact that he had a great and important role in the unification of the Islamic Ummah.
At the time of Imam Baqer (a.s.) there was a focus and a kind of movement towards the recording the Hadiths of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). At that time Imam (a.s.) paid great attention and gave emphasize on collecting the Hadiths and retelling them to his students in the university he established in that time. He founded and put the bases of the Islamic and Shiite civilization.
Considering the fact that in that time there was a kind of divergence among different denominations and there were disputes and battles among the denominations, there was a pseudo-denomination which rose up at that time and were addressing Islam from wrong angles and giving sometimes fraudulent interpretation of Islam so that Imam Baqer (a.s.) use the opportunity at that time in which the Umayyad dynasty was about to weakening and they were not so powerful as it was in the beginning.
So instead of leading a political movement, Imam he started a movement and emphasized on building up the civilization and establishing the foundations of Islamic thought and he started teaching and raising students in different fields of Islamic sciences. He also started a new era and movement in “جدال الأحسن”, good disputes and negotiations based on theology and ideology which was the case before, and continued and reached its peak at the time of his progeny: Imam Reza (a.s.), and Imam Javad (a.s.).
Besides, as a sign of unification of the Ummah we see that Imam (a.s.) was very hopeful to the scholars from the other Islamic sects, and although there were some disputes among them, but the followers of other denominations were allowed to participate in his school and classes. So, everyone was allowed to enter his teaching sessions and use the light of Imamate at that time whether he was a follower of Imam (a.s.) and Shiite, or belong to other Islamic sects.
So, considering what is said, we are going to have a webinar, and with me are Sheikh Dr. Barati, a Hawza scholar who is specialized in different fields of theology and ethics, as well as Sheikh Dr. Sabouri, who is an Islamic scholar too, and he is going shed light upon different angles of Imam’s role in advancement of Islamic unity.
First, we start with Sheikh Dr. Barati.
Hojat al-Islam Dr. Barati:
Assalumu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah
I offer my condolences to all lovers of the Household of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) on the seventh of Dhul Hijjah, the martyrdom anniversary of the Shiite Imam Baqer (a.s.).
I ask the viewers to notice this important issue, that is, the role of Imam Baqer (a.s.) which is discussed here, and in my turn, I’ll try to shed light on life and his role, as much as possible for me.
Imam Baqer (a.s.) was not the first Imam from AhlulBayt (a.s.) who played this role. But what makes his role important is that he had a great range of students, a lot of students who participated in the school of Imam Baqer (a.s.). Because before him the AhlulBayt (a.s.) were under strict control of the regime who did not let AhlulBayt (a.s.) to meet and discuss Islamic issues with people or teach them. But it had been started in the time of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) in Medina that people were noticing the role of AhlulBayt (a.s.) and their role in transmission of the knowledge of the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h) to explain about meaning of Islamic teachings, interpretation of the Holy Quran, or transmission of the Sunnah, that is the conduct of the Prophet (p.b.u.h). Somehow Imam Sajjad (a.s.) with his long range of Imamate time, about 34 years, had started this. But as it is mentioned, in that time, the Umayyads regime was strong, and they dictatorship did not let Imam Sajjad to his role freely and completely.
But, because later the Umayyads became a little weaker and the clash between them and Abbasids started, and because the long time that Umayyads kept people in ignorance, they were not to learn the Sunnah of Prophet (p.b.u.h), and there were even a hundred years of ban on the Sunnah of the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h), to be compiled, recorded, or to be taught. From the first Khalif to the Umar bin Abul Aziz the Sunnah narration was banned, and even when they lift the ban nothing happened but after two or three decades later. Even the conduct and behavior of the Prophet was forgotten. People did not know how the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h) perform his prayers or pilgrimage and so on. Because Umayyads left people in ignorance completely. Even when you look at the hadith and records of Sunnis, the sources like Sahih Muslim, you find that they narrate Hajj pilgrimage of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) - which is very important, and people should learn from him because he said “خذوا عنّی مناسککم” (learn from me how you practice your rituals) – so they (Sunnis) wanted to know about the Hajj of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) because they don’t know how to narrated. So, they came to Imam Baqer (a.s.) and Imam ordered Jabir ibn Abd Allah al-Ansari and helped him to draw the specification of the pilgrimage of the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h). You can find this Hadith in collection of Muslim – Sahih Muslim. This made a kind of unification in the Muslim world. For example, how they should perform their duty in Hajj, all of them (the Sunnah and instructions for performing rituals) came from Imam Muhammad Baqer (a.s.). Different denominations and schools which we mentioned all of them who perform this (rituals) they have learned it from Imam Baqer (a.s.).
It was not the only role that Imam Baqer (a.s.) played to revive and reappear the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), but it was just one of them. Another role which was mentioned by you (the host), was that Imam Baqer (a.s.) drew people’s attention to aspects of Islamic culture and civilization which were neglected by the government of the time (Umayyads). They ignored them. They practiced a (deviant) version of Islam, which is violent religion, seeking only for conquest, and wants to take territories and govern, and still this kind of picture and depicting is dominating the thought of Europeans and non-Muslims in many parts of the world. Why? Because the regime of the Caliphate acted like this, who introduced them as the successor of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and were treating like this – only concentrating on the conquest and expanding the territories of the Caliphate and neglecting other aspects of Islam which are seeking knowledge, having human moral, respecting rights of the others, and bringing new lifestyle for the world. All of them were neglected (by caliphs). So, Imam Baqer (a.s.) concentrated on these aspects of Islam. For example, system of rights in Islam and legal system of Islam were revived by Imam Baqer (a.s.). The humanitarian aspect of Islam was revived by Imam Baqer (a.s.). For example, in a hadith by him it is narrated that there are three acts which are the best before God: to feed a hungry Muslim – this is the best of deeds – to give him cloths, or to, for example, make a kind of peace of mind for a Muslim. These are the best deeds in Islam. So, it means that Islam is not the religion of killing, fighting, Jihad in that wrong meaning that they are propagating it. Jihad has another meaning. Because of that, they (Imams) ordered their followers and close friends not to participate in those conquests which the regime (Umayyad Caliphs) was doing them. It (the conquests and territorial expansions) was started in the time of Imam Ali (a.s.) and following Imams (a.s.), and Imam Baqer (a.s.). You can find the in collections of Shia Hadiths like Wasa'il al-Shia that this kind of conquest, Jihad and fighting is not accepted by God. We don’t want to just fight, and to control the countries and regions, and put force on people to accept Islam. This is not the intention of Allah (s.w.t) and the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h). Yes, there is Jihad in Islam, but Jihad is self-defense or defending your territory your country and lands, not to attack on the neighbors, safe and immune nations and put force on them. Now the same concepts exist today in DAESH, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and some other (deviant thoughts). It exists in this kind of (deviant) Islam today. They think “Jihad is to fight; you should fight until the day of Judgement! Fight everybody! And force them either they accept Islam, or you kill them!” Never, it is not the concept of Jihad in Islam.
So, Imam Baqer by his behavior and deeds, showed people that Islam came for knowledge; the Prophet of Islam came for knowledge; the first verse which revealed to the Prophet was about knowledge: “إقراء!” Read, recite, not kill. But they (deviant perceptions of Islam) gave another concept of Islam to people that Islam came to kill! No, by their deeds, Imam (a.s.) and close people to him showed another version of Islam that is the real Islam, the religion of God, which came for a good life for people in this world; even for non-Muslims. Islam came to serve the whole mankind. There is Quranic verse about the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h) which says, “وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ” (We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures.) (Holy Quran, Surah: al-Anbia, Verse: 107). (God addresses the Prophet) that you are only a mercy for the whole mankind or for all the wise beings – the beings which have intellect, either Muslims and non-Muslims, obedient or disobedient, enemy or friend, you are the mercy to all of them. Imam Baqer (a.s.) and the AhlulBayt (a.s.) – the Household of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) showed this face and version of Islam. But in the time of Imam (a.s.), the Islam of conquest reached to the three continents: Asia, Africa and even Europe. Iberian Peninsula was captured in the time of Imam Baqer (a.s.) by Umayyads not according to the teachings of the glorious Prophet (p.b.u.h). Other narration of Imam Baqer (a.s.) also shows that he was concentrating on this type of Islam (genuine): “الکمال، کل الکمال، التفقه في الدين، و الصبر علي النّائبة، و تقدير المعيشة” if you are looking for perfection – which is the goal of Islam for the mankind, for the individuals and collectives and societies – “الکمال، کل الکمال” the highest level of perfection is in three things: “التفقه في الدين” to learn your religion very well, deeply, correctly, not popular religion, not the religion of the regime, the religion of people around you; “و الصبر علي النّائبة” To be patient when some miseries or misfortunes come to you, you keep patience – this is religion, the climax of religion; the climax of faith is to have patience; And “و تقدير المعيشة” To plan for your life. Your economical, educational, and political life should have plans and programs, and wisely prepared. This is Islam, this is perfection.
As you said, the time that the Umayyad dynasty and caliphs about to decline there was an open era and some sort of crisis so that Imam was able to gather some people and turn them against Umayyads. But he didn’t do that and he emphasized on the fact that he had to build up the Islamic civilization, and he didn’t even allow his followers to do such a thing and never interfere and never even accepted any of those movements as well in this era that you said that the Imam portrayed a new face, actually not new but real face of Islam which was existed at the time of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) but it was forgotten during the time, and he revived that Islam.