By: Mohammed Baaqir and Abbas Ali Merchant
As the time of the death anniversary of our great Imam is upon us, we should remember what he accomplished during his lifetime and take lessons from them. One thing in particular that the Imam (as) was known for was his expertise in science. He had many famous students and he taught them many things that were not known to man until many years later. His exemplary character was also an inspiration for us all. With the opportunity given to us by Allah (swt), let us learn about his life and try to emulate his principles in our daily lives.
The Imam (as) had many great students. The greatest of them all was our seventh Imam, Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (as). Other notable students were:
- Jabir ibn Hayyan: known in Europe as Geber, a great alchemist
- Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as): his son, the seventh Imam according to the Ithna Ashari (Twelver) Shias
- Isma’il ibn Jaffar: his son, the seventh Imam according to the Ismaili Shias
- Abu Hanifa: reported founder of Sunni Hanafi school of thought, although in modern times many religious scholars have changed their opinion and claim he was not actually the student of Imam Jaffer As-Sadiq (as)
- Malik ibn Anas: founder of the Sunni Maliki school of thought
- Wasil ibn Ata: founder of the Mu’tazali theological school of thought
- The Imam (as) had his own school where he had over 4000 students!
- Imam Jaffer As-Sadiq (as) made many scientific advancements when he lived over a thousand years ago!
The Rotation of the Earth
- When our sixth Imam (as) was a mere 11 years of age, he did not believe in Aristotle’s theory that the sun, moon, and other planets rotated around the Earth. This was a theory that was believed to be true for approximately 1800 years! He also said that the Earth was rotating around it own axis. This theory was mocked in the 1900s by a scholar named Poincare. Just imagine that people in the 1900s did not believe this theory when Imam knew it over 1000 years before! All at the tender age of 11 years!
- Theory of the four elements—earth, water, air, fire—found wrong
- Theory that everything revolves around the Earth found wrong
- Discovery of Hydrogen in water and Oxygen in air: The fifth and sixth Imams (as) knew how to separate hydrogen from water without the use of electricity. One reason why it did not become “published” or known to common people was that there was not any need for it. Even now, there is no useful reason for separating hydrogen from water other than the hydrogen bomb which has the potential to destroy the human race!
- Theory that the earth revolves around its own axis
- The Imam (as) said the human body was composed of certain elements in specific proportions. He gave the proportions and those were proven to be correct in the 18th century!
- Theory of matter and antimatter
One incident that shows the character of this great Imam (as):
“Once a pilgrim visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, fell asleep. On waking up, he hurriedly searched his belongings and found his purse which contained 1000 dinars was missing. Looking around he saw the Imam was praying in one corner of the Mosque. He accused the Imam of having taken his purse. The Imam asked about its contents and was told that it contained 1000 dinars. The Imam then asked the man to follow him to his house where he gave the man the same amount. When the stranger came back to the mosque satisfied, once more he checked his property and found that his purse was intact in another bundle.
Greatly ashamed of his conduct, he came back to the Imam, apologized and asked him to take his money back. Imam replied with these words, “We never take back what we once give away, but if you feel guilty about it, give it to the poor of the town.” The traveler gave all the money in charity to the poor of Madina.”
– Story of the Holy Ka’aba and Its People (S.M.R Shabbar)