It is not unrealistic or an exaggeration to call the teaching system of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) a University. This University had a great scientific legend, and it trained numerous specialists who became noble intellectuals and professional scholars.
The great Ja’fari University guided the nation towards discovering rules of interpretation, criticizing narrations, compilation, and categorization of Islamic laws. Despite all the attempts to inhibit the progress and fame of this school, it became a focal point for scholars and students.
The teachings of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) were so popular that even passengers narrated Hadith from him. In fact, his views were studied in all scientific centers around the world, and intellectuals referred to his views in their reasoning.
Shaykh Mufid says,” The narrators among all different sects with different views who are considered to be trustworthy and have narrated Hadith from Imam Sadiq (PBUH) were four thousand people”(1).
Shahid Awwal has also said,” Four hundred authors have compiled four hundred books about the answers Imam Sadiq (PBUH) provided to questions. Four thousand people have been counted as narrators and students of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) from Iraq, Syria, and Hijaz.” (2)
Among those narrators are individuals who later became leaders of Islamic sects, such as:
1. Abu Hanifah (Nu’maan bin Thaabit), the leader of the Hanafi sect. There is a famous quote from him:” There is no one more knowledgeable than Ja’far ibn Muhammad. He is the most knowledgeable one among Muslims” (3). He had several meetings with Imam Sadiq (PBUH) in Medina and Kufa; however, he used to stay in Medina for two consecutive years to learn from the Imam (PBUH). He has said,” If it was not for the two years that I benefited from the knowledge of Ja’far ibn Muhammad, I would have perished” (4).
2. Malik ibn Anas, the leader of the Maliki sect. He had a good connection with the Imam (PBUH) and has narrated Hadith from him. He has been quoted to say,” No one has found a person who has preceded Ja’far ibn Muhammad in terms of knowledge, deeds, and piety” (5).
3. Sufyan Thuri. He is among the most famous narrators and scholars. He is the founder of an Islamic sect which was around up to the fourth century. Sufyan has narrated numerous Hadiths from Imam Sadiq (PBUH), including several Hadiths regarding rituals, morals, and advises.
In addition to the aforementioned narrators, there are other people who were in contact with the University of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) and have taught and narrated Hadith from him.(6)
As for the special students of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) and those who propagated his jurisprudence system, several people have been mentioned who entered social and political fields, opposed the atheists and dualists, and had debates with those with deviated ideas; they fought against the oppressors and condemned them.
The most famous ones among such people are Aban ibn Taghlab, Mu’min Taaq, Hisham ibn Hakam, Zurarah ibn A’yan, Ali ibn Yaqtin, Ammar Duhani, Umar ibn Hanzalah, Fudail ibn Yasar, Abu Basir, Muhammad ibn Muslim, Muawyiah ibn Ammar, Mufaddal ibn Umar, Hisham ibn Salim…
The University of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) had unique characteristics: such as intellectual independence, disagreement with the government, avoiding any interference from the rulers in its affairs, and in general, prohibiting the government from governing the University or planning for it. Because of this, the rulers were never able to misuse this school for their personal purposes or force it to cooperate with the government.
Mansoor (the oppressor Abbasid Caliph) did his best to attain Imam Sadiq’s (PBUH) attention and cooperation, yet he failed to do so, and in fact, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) completely disconnected from him and advised his students to do the same.
For example, Mansoor sent a message for Imam Sadiq (PBUH) asking why he would not go to visit Mansoor. Mansoor expected a favorable answer from the Imam (PBUH) since he was the ruler of the time. However, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) replied,” We do not have anything from the worldly properties so that we would fear you, and you have no share of the Hereafter so that we would have hope in you; you are not blessed so that we would congratulate you for it, neither you consider it (government) a disaster so that we would offer condolences to you. So why should we visit each other?”
Mansoor could not tolerate this response; however, he knew the position of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) and his truthfulness. Therefore, he used another way to approach the Imam (PBUH). It was difficult on him to see Imam Sadiq (PBUH) would not visit him and overlook him from a higher position. Therefore, he sent a message for the Imam (PBUH) saying,” Accept our companionship so that you would advise us”. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) knew the intention of Mansoor, so replied by saying,” Whoever is after this world would not accept to advise you, and whoever is after the Hereafter would not give in to your companionship”(7).
Based on these characteristics, the Ja’fari school was able to preserve its intellectual independence, gain that great fame, and leave behind that precious legacy.
As such, not only this school did not give up on opposing the oppressors, but also its animosity with the oppressors increased constantly, and this was dangerous for this University.
Nevertheless, to this day, despite all the attempts of the oppressors to remove this school and their indescribable harms towards it, the Ja’fari school is still alive and firm. In fact, the eternity and transformation of Islamic civilization is indebted to this school.
(The above is a selection taken from “Imam Sadiq (PBUH) and the Four Islamic Sects”, by Assad Haydar)
The Roshd offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 25th of Shawwal, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the sixth Imam of Shiites, the discoverer of realities and the truthful Imam, Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (PBUH).
1. Irshad, vol. 2, p. 179
2. Al-Zikra, p. 6
3. Jami’ Asanid Abu Hanifah, vol. 2, p. 222
4. Al-Tufah al-Ithna Asharyiah, p. 8
5. Tahzib al-Tahzib, vol. 2, p. 104
6. For example, among Sunni scholars, Ibn Hajar in three of his books named “Tahzib al-Tahzib”,”Lisan al-Mizan”, and Taqrib al-Tahzib”, Zahabi in two of his books named “Mizan al-Itidal” and “Tazkirah al-Huffaz”, Jazri in his book “Al-Khulasah”, and Ibn Abi Hatam in his book “Al-Jarh va al-Tadil” have mentioned this narrators.
7. Kashf al-Ghummah, vol. 2, p. 208