At the time of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), the city of Medina had a different look. The general massacre of its residents by the soldiers of Muslim ibn Uqbah left the survivors with a feeling of hopelessness, to the extent that those with weak faith turned to musical performance to overcome this feeling. In fact, Medina became a center for exporting professional singers between the years 65 and 80 AH. However, as time passed, this situation changed, people turned to religious matters once again, and the narrators of Hadith and religious jurists came into power.
On the other hand, the weakening and overthrowing of the government of the Umayyads not only brought political freedoms which leaded to religious uprisings against the government throughout the Islamic nation, but also created an open floor for religious discussions in various branches. Therefore, a bit of relief occurred in the era of Imam Baqir (PBUH), and the era of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) (114-148 AH) was the era of spread of the Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) of the Progeny of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), or in other words, the era of teaching and learning the Ja’ffari school. This relief, which occurred in the beginning of the third decade of the second century after Hijra, let the people refer to Imam Sadiq (PBUH) freely, and they asked him to solve their juristic and non-juristic problems.
Hence, as the author of Kashf al-Ghummah states, the scholars have narrated Hadiths from none of the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT) as much as they have narrated from Imam Sadiq (PBUH). Also, none of the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUT) has had students as much as Imam Sadiq (PBUH) had, and the number of Hadiths narrated from none of them is comparable to those narrated from Imam Sadiq (PBUH). The scholars have mentioned the number of the narrators of Hadith from Imam Sadiq (PBUH) to be four thousands. These evident signs of his Imamate are astonishing, and they prevent the opponents from any doubts or reproaches (1).
On this basis, the status of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) in terms of knowledge is evident even to the eminent Sunni scholars. Ibn Hajar has stated the following in regards to Imam Sadiq (PBUH), ”The people have narrated about his knowledge so much that its fame has reached all the cities. Great people such as Yahya bin Sa’eed, Ibn Jurayh, Maalik, Sufyan bin Uyaynah, Sufyan Thouri, Abu Hanifah, Shu’bah, and Ayyub Sakhtiaani have narrated Hadiths from him (2)”.
Maalik ibn Anas, who is the founder of one of the four Sunni schools, has said about Imam Sadiq (PBUH), ”I have not seen anyone greater than him in grace, knowledge, and piety (3)”.
Abu Hanifah, the founder of another Sunni school, respected Imam Sadiq (PBUH), even though he considered himself a great jurist. Thus, Dhahabi has narrated from Abu Hanifah that, ”I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable than Ja’far ibn Muhammad (4)”. Moreover, Ibn Shahr Ashub has narrated from Hassan ibn Zyiad that once Abu Hanifah was asked, ”Who is the most knowledgeable person you have met?” He replied:” Ja’far ibn Muhammad. When Mansur (the Abbasid caliph) sent for him (Ja’far ibn Muhammad), he sent me the message that “People have become attracted to Ja’far ibn Muhammad. Prepare some complicated questions to ask him”. I prepared forty questions. Mansur ordered Ja’far ibn Muhammad, who was in Hirah (a city near Kufah) at that time, to be brought to his place. Then, I entered to Mansur and found Ja’far sitting to his right. I felt reverence towards him more than Mansur. Then, Mansur gave me permission to have a seat, and said, ”This is Abu Hanifah”. Ja’far ibn Muhammad replied,” I know him”. Then Mansur asked me, ”Tell Abu Abdullah (Imam Sadiq (PBUH)) the questions you have in mind”. I started asking my question one by one, and he responded by saying “Your opinion is so-and-so; the people of Medina’s opinion is so-and-so; and our opinion is so-and so. In some issues, we accept your opinion; in some other, we accept theirs; and in some, our opinion is against that of yours and theirs”. I asked him all the forty questions and he did not leave any of them unanswered. Then, Abu Hanifah said, ”Is the most knowledgeable of the people not the one who knows the differences (in opinions) the best?” (5)
Overall, whoever explores the history of Shia jurisprudence would find that the Hadiths narrated from Imam Sadiq (PBUH) on various jurisprudential issues is a vast collection. That is why the Shia school of though is called the Ja’fari School.
(Selection taken from “The Life of Imam Sadiq (PBUH)”, by Late Dr. Sayyid Ja’far Shahidi (with some changes))
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 25th of Shawwal, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the treasurer of Divine knowledge and the leader of school, Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (PBUH).
1. Kashf al-Ghummah, vol. 2, p. 166
2. Sawa’iq al-Muhraqah, p. 201
3. Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashub, vol. 4, p. 275
4. Tazkirah al-Huffadh, vol. 1, p. 166
5. Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashub, vol. 4, p. 255