Taavus Yamani was a scholar and famous character that lived during the lifetimes of Imam Sajjad and Imam Baqir (PBUT).  He had companions who were known as the companions of Taavus.

Abu Basir narrates: My friends and I were sitting with Imam Baqir (PBUH) beside the Ka’ba.  Taavus Yamani and a group of his companions came up to Imam Baqir (PBUH) and said, “May I ask you a few questions?”

Imam Baqir (PBUH) agreed.  Taavus Yamani asked, “Tell me, when did one-third of the people die?

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “O Sheikh! You are mistaken, instead of saying, ‘when did one-fourth of the people die, you said one-third.’  During the time when Cane killed Abel, four people existed on Earth, which were Adam, Eve, Abel and Cane.  When Abel was killed by Cane, one fourth of them were destructed.”

Taavus Yamani: “Who were the people that attested to the truth but were liars?”

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “They were the hypocrites who said to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP), ‘When the hypocrites come to you, they say: We bear witness that you are most surely Allah’s Messenger; and Allah knows that you are most surely His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.’1

Taavus Yamani: “Who was the messenger that was neither man, nor Jinn, nor angel, but was referred to in the Quran by Allah?”

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “It was the crow, which Allah sent to Cain to teach him how to cover up the body of his brother Abel.2

Taavus Yamani: “What creature, not of man, Jinn, or angel, scared its nation, and the Lord has spoken of it in the Quran?”

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “That creature was an ant, which said to (the other ants), ‘O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving.”3

Taavus Yamani: “What creature, not of man, Jinn, or angel, did they accuse of lying, and which the Quran reminds us of?”

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “That creature was a wolf, whom the brothers of Joseph lied about, saying: the wolf devoured him.”4

Taavus Yamani: “What is partly lawful (halal), but mostly unlawful (haram), which is also referred to in the Holy Quran?

Imam Baqir (PBUH): “That was the prohibition of Talut (the representative of the prophet of his time), who said to his forces, to not drink from this river except for just a small amount (a palm of the hand).”5

Imam Baqir (PBUH) had responded to the very difficult questions of Taavus, without a moment’s hesitation.6   With his proficiency in the verses of the Holy Quran, Imam Baqir (PBUH) had astonished those present.

Selection taken from the book A Look into the Life of Imam Baqir (PBUH) by Hujjatul Islam Muhammad Mohammadi Ishtihardy

On behalf of Roshd Website, we send our condolenses to you dear friend, and to all Muslims for the martyrdom of the inheritor of Quran sciences and the infallible representative of the Merciful, the fifth Shiite Imam, Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir (PBUH).

References:

1.    Holy Quran 63:1

2.    Holy Quran 5:31

3.    Holy Quran 27:18

4.    Holy Quran 12:17

5.    Holy Quran 2:249

6.    Ihtijaj Tabarsi, vol. 2, pp. 328-330

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