Ja'far Ibn Muhammad  (The Founder of the Shia School of Law)

Ja'far Ibn Muhammad

"I had regularly been visiting Imam Assadiq for a long time. I never saw him, except in one of these conditions: (1) praying, (2) fasting, or (3) reading the holy Quran. I never saw him narrating a hadith from the holy Prophet without a formal purification (Taharat). He was one of the most God fearing, pious, and most learned scholars after the time of the holy Prophet, Muhammad (p.b.). "No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no mind has ever thought of someone exceeding Ja'far Ibn Muhammad in worship, piety and knowledge." Malik Ibn Anas, Tahdhib Al Tahdhib. Vol. 2: 104. "I never saw a jurist of greater understanding than Ja'far Ibn Muhammad". Imam Abu Hanifah said. During a discourse, Mansoor, the ruler of the time, tried to convince Abu Hanifa that people were very much attracted towards Ja'far Ibn Muhammad because of his knowledge and That he (Abu hanifah) should prepare some difficult questions to ask him (Ja'far Ibn Muhammad) in a debate. Mansoor had planed to defeat Ja'far Ibn Muhammad in this way and to prove to the people that he did not know much.

Abu hanifa has said, "Mansoor called me while I was in Hirah (a city in Iraq). When I entered his Court, I saw Ja'far Ibn Muhammad sitting besides Mansoor. Seeing Ja'far Ibn Muhammad, my heart almost dropped from its place out of the fear that overcame me, more so of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad than of Mansoor. After salutations and greetings, Mansoor asked me to sit down and he introduced me to Ja'far Ibn Muhammad who said," Perhaps he dislikes people's words, "Abu hanifah knows the 'man"' (Probably Ja'far Ibn Muhammad noticed the feelings of Abu hanifah that appeared on his face). Abu hanifah has said, "Then Mansoor turned to me saying, 'Ask Ja'far Ibn Muhammad your questions.' I began asking him questions, one after another and he answered them one by one, explaining not only each of the view of the jurists of Iraq and Medina, but also his own view and whether he agreed or disagreed with the views of others until hc had answered all of the forty most difficult legal questions that I had arranged".

Abu hanifah has said, "Don't we say that in the matters of Law, the most Learned person is the one whose knowledge of others' views is greater?" After this experience, Abu hanifah has said, "I never saw a jurist of greater knowledge and understanding than Ja'far Ibn Muhammad." Manaqib of Abu hanifah by Muwaffaq Vol. 1. P. 173, Jami'ul Asanid of Abu Hanifah P. 222., Tadhkirat 'ul Huffaz by Dhahabi Vol. 1. P. 157. "In all times, God through a person from us, the Ahl al Bait (family of the Prophet), leaves no excuse for mankind to say that they did not know His laws. In our time that person is my nephew, Ja'far; one who opposes him will never find guidance." Zaid Ihn Ali, Manaqib of Shahr Ashub. Vol. 3. P. 147. "Ja'far Ibn Muhammad established the principles of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence and it is said that Abu Hanifah and Sufyan Althury were among his pupils." Abu Bahr Al Jahiz, Risa'il al Jahiz by Sadubi P. 106. "Ja'far was of those about whom God has said, `Then we give the Book in inheritance to those whom We choose from among our servants'. Ja'far was of those whom God had chosen, and of those who exceeded others in good deeds. From the family of the Prophet there had always been a scholar who knew the whole tradition of the Prophet and taught it to others.

In our time that person is Ja'far Ibn Muhammad. Mansoor Al Dawaniqi, History of Ya`qubi Vol. 3. P. 117; Al Manaqib of Shahrashub Vol. 3: 302. "During the time of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad learning became greatly popular, this set the minds free from wrong beliefs. Philosophical discourses became public in all the great cities of the Islamic world. The grandson of Ali Ibn Abu Talib, called Imam Assadiq, was a leading personality in the propagation of knowledge. He was a man of powerful reason and of deep and wide thought. He, in fact, is the founder of the Islamic school of philosophy, jurisprudence and the schools of Law. Among his pupils were many scholars and young men who had come from distant lands to learn from him. Sayyed Amir Ali Hindi. "This is not a man. If in the world there had been a spiritual personality who could appear in physical or spiritual form whenever he wanted, he would have been no other than this". Pointing to Imam Assadiq said, Ibn Abil 'wja, History of Arabs P. 179.

(1) Responsibility

Responsibility is a sign of honor and respect from God to man. God has given him reason and the power to purify his soul, discipline his instincts and undertake responsibility. This quality is the reality that makes man distinct from the other beings around him. If he fulfills his responsibility, God will give him due reward.

Responsibility and Rights:

If we take responsibility in its philosophical sense, apart from what we understand it as a legal term, it means that it is a means to protect and to safeguard oneself from danger. Obviously, to be able to protect oneself from danger is one's unquestionable right. This makes it difficult to make a distinction between a 'responsibility' and a 'right'. A complete account of the difference between these two terms can only be found in the subject that deals with the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. Here for the convenience of the readers it should be observed that RIGHTS are mostly concerned with the section of the Law dealing with contracts, property and social relations while RESPONSIBILITY has its application in almost all the branches of the Law. Is a right something natural and responsibility something imposed by the Law, or do both of them have the Law as their source? The answer for such a question is beyond the scope of this outline. In brief, one of the differences between the two terms is that 'Right' is something that one is entitled to give up or use, while in matters of responsibility one has no choice, because of the Law, but to fulfill that responsibility. For instance, one has the right to take back what he may have given to someone as loan or decide to give it to the borrower as a gift. On the contrary the borrower because of his responsibility of paying his debts has no choice but to pay back what he has borrowed. Another difference is that in the case of 'rights' no qualification is required on the part of the person entitled to it, while this is not true of responsibilities. For example, a child may have property and have the right to be considered the owner, but he is not responsible to fulfill the terms of a contract or complete certain worship acts, because he does not have the qualifications required for responsibilities such as age, reason, etc.

(2) Qualifications:

The general requirements of responsibility are these qualifications:

(a) Maturity as regards age is fifteen lunar years in the case of a male and nine years in the case of a female. A person who does not have this qualification is not responsible on the Day of Judgement for the violations of the Law, such as drinking wine or not praying the daily prayers. This however, does not mean that the guardians of such people have no responsibility to educate or prevent them from doing wrong. The holy Quran says, "Man, save yourselves and your family from the fire in which people and stones will be burnt as fuel" 6. 66. Children will not be punished for what they may have done against the Law, but this does not mean that their good deeds also will not be of any value. All that is recommended for a mature person to do is true of a child, provided, it is not harmful for the child. It is recommended that the child should begin praying at the age of seven and fasting at nine or should fast part of the day if not the whole. There, however, are cases in which a child too will be held responsible for the damage which he may have done to someone property.

(b) Reason, the natural ability that enables one to discern between right and wrong and realize responsibility.

(c) Ability and power to fulfill the responsibility. "God does not hold one responsible for what is beyond his ability." Ch. 2. 284. There is no responsibility for those who cannot complete certain worship or fulfill a social duty such as a person who is sick or cannot avoid what he has been forbidden to do; a person who is drowning and has no power to avoid the danger. Sometimes one has the ability but the act performed through such ability may endanger his life. In such a case, he will not be considered responsible except in these cases:

(a) When one's life is lost in an armed expedition that is carried out by the state, duly authorized by the Law, the duty is more important than life.

(b) When one has enough power to kill someone is forced to kill an innocent one, in this case too, he is not allowed to kill the innocent person even if it may cost him his own life. Sometimes one may face two obligations to be fulfilled at the same time, and may only have the ability to fulfill each at a time, not both of them together. For example, at a time that one has to say his prayer, a fire starts to burn some valuables. In such a case, only what is of greater significance is required to be fulfilled. There is no difference in ignoring an obligation directly or creating a situation which would cause one to miss a duty. For instance, when the time for a prayer has already come, to start a journey by train wherein the prayer cannot be said is to disobey the Law and it must be avoided.

To be a Muslim is not among the general qualifications required for responsibilities. The Legal responsibilities equally apply to both a Muslim and a non Muslim except for the remedy for the prayers and fasts that are missed in the case of a non Muslim before he accepts Islam. A non Muslim at the time of prayers is also considered responsible by the Legislator, not for a remedy of the same.

Signs of Maturity

Maturity, as we noted, is one of the general requirements for a person to be considered responsible for an obligation. Besides the limit of one's age as described before, there are two other ways to know if one has become mature or not:

(a) Discharge of semen (the genital fluid) through having sex, or in a dream or for some other reason.
(b) Growing of the hard hairs around the genital organs. Soft hairs are not considered as the signs of maturity. If one doubts whether he has become mature or not, he has to wait until his maturity is certain. If one doubts about one's ability to fulfill a responsibility, he should not dictate to himself that he does not have it. He must do his best, but if hc still is not able to fulfill the duty, he is not responsible.

(3) General Effects of Responsibility

(a) Once the responsibility comes into being all the means that are required to fulfill that responsibility also become obligatory to acquire, that is, if the duty is prayer, to have a formal purification such as Wudu, and cleaning one's clothes and body also becomes obligatory. (b) If one is not allowed to do certain things, another person also is not allowed to make him do what he himself is not allowed to. For example, a person after having sex and before having Ghusl is not allowed to enter a Mosque. As a result, another person also is not allowed to make him enter the Mosque. (c) If one is certain that something has become his duty to do, but doubts whether such a duty was fulfilled or not, he must fulfill that duty again, provided, there is enough time.

(d) If after fulfilling the responsibility one doubts whether the duty was fulfilled as it was required or not, if the doubt has come into being alter the act, it is not necessary to do it again. This is either because the duty performed cannot be fulfilled in the same way again or because the time for the same no more exists. For example, if one doubts whether a certain prayer was said in the proper way or not; in fact, in such a case, it is not possible to complete the same prayer. What can be done is to say another prayer as a remedy for that prayer and this is not the prayer said before. Or if in the ease of Adhan which is supposed to be said before the Eqamah, if when saying Eqamah, one doubts whether Adhan has been said or not, in this case, since the time for Adhan no more exists, he does not have to say it again.

(4) Kinds of Obligations

(a) Worship acts. (b) Non worship acts. The difference between these obligation can be described as follows: In general, all kinds of obligation have some conditions. Among the conditions of the Worship acts the most important one, not necessarily found in the other obligations, is 'intention'. A non worship act is valid without intention and identifying the kind of worship that one is going to complete. The meaning of intention is to decide to complete a certain worship in obedience to God's order, and thereby get nearer to Him, which means to discipline oneself and have the ability of receiving reward from God. Intention must purely be for this purpose alone. If other things are also included in the intention in the sense that in completing a worship, besides the aim mentioned, other purposes are also intended, such as to show off and become popular thereby, such association invalidates the worship and the person will he considered a sinner.

Another difference is that the worship acts have a definite form and all its particulars are described in the Law. On the other hand, other obligations do not have such limits. What is required in the non worship obligatory acts is to achieve the purpose. For instance, one is required to maintain his dependents but no definite form is needed. It can be fulfilled by means of business or any of the other ways of earning.

(5) Other Division of Obligations

(a) Personal obligations (b) Social obligation (c) Replaceable obligation (d) Irreplaceable obligation (e) Independent obligation. (f) Introductory obligations (g) Obligations of limited time. (h) Obligation of no time limit, of a longer period. (i) The Original obligations. (j) Obligation that are a replacement or a remedy.

Personal obligations are those that one himself has to fulfill. Social obligations are those that are obligatory for mankind in general but even one person may fulfill it on behalf of the others. For example, if different kinds of social needs as teaching medical studies are undertaken by a few people, it will set the others free from such social duties. Replaceable obligations are those in which one has the choice to do one out of several forms. For instance, a murderer may pay blood money or accept capital punishment. Irreplaceable obligations are those which one is required to fulfill without having other choices, such as daily prayers. The introductory obligations are those that in themselves have no purpose, or if there is some benefit it is not re4required. Such obligations are required to be fulfilled as a means to achieve the purpose behind another obligation such as the obligation of cleaning one's clothes for prayer. Wudu by itself is not obligatory but is re4required for prayer, although by itself also is not without benefit.

(6) Major Sections of the Law

Although the rules in the Law are inter related, they can be classified under the following sections:

(a) Rules of worship that consist of Formal purifications, Prayer, Fasting, hajj, 'umrah and the remedies, in case some such obligation is missed.
(b) Rules of public properly such as Zakat, Khums and the rules pertaining to private property and its various precepts, such as the means of ownership, the means of earning and the rights of the owner.
(c) The rules of the properties used in trade and different forms of contracts.
(d) Personal laws:

  • (1) The rules of family relations and marriage.
  • (2) The rules of food, clothing and places to live.
  • (e) The Social Laws, the Administrative System and Leadership. Worship acts have various forms. Every worship act besides its form has certain conditions and rules. Most of the worship acts in their forms are acts. Only one thing regarded in worship is not an action. It is 'intention', the attitude of one's mind. As mentioned before, in worship one's intention must be to obey God alone. If anything else is included in one's intention his whole act or worship will be considered void. The intention must not be hypocritical which means that one worships God and at the same time intends to be praised by the people.

    After a worship is complected, to include something else in one's intention will be considered of no effect to the validity of the worship. If people think of one as careless towards worship, and to remove people's doubts one may need to worship in public, this also will be considered of no effect to the validity of his worship. It is undesirable, not forbidden, to tell people about one's worship in obedience to God. There is, however, a case in which it is not even undesirable. Thus, if one thinks that telling people about one's obedience to God may encourage them to worship, there is no harm to tell the others about it.

    If one is worshipping with the intention of obeying God but because of someone presence he feels happy that someone has seen him worshipping, this situation too, will be considered of no effect to the validity of one's worship. To be proud of one's worship and to think that one has done God a favor, although a sin, has no effect on the validity of one's worship. However, just to feel happy because of one's worship does no harm.

    If one's worship may have some physical benefit and one's intention is strong enough to make him worship even without the worship's physical benefit but one is only aware of such benefit, his worship will be considered valid. However, if the situation is such that one is not ready to worship without the physical benefit, his worship will be considered void.

    Belief is the most important condition for the validity of a worship act. No worship will be considered valid without belief. It is not necessary to pronounce one's intention. If one's mind is made up to worship God alone, this will be considered enough for the validity of one's worship. If one knows that a certain act is not acceptable to God, hc is not allowed to do it or else it will be an innovation in the

    Dissimulation and Insincerity

    Dissimulation takes place when something is done to help make one popular among the people or to make them think of one's act with greatness. To assume such an attitude in one's worship is illegal. The worship act performed with such an attitude is invalid and the person committing such an act is a sinner, no matter whether it is done to please both God and the people or the people alone.

    In some of the Ahadith from the Prophet, dissimulation is considered as Shirk (considering things equal to God). Worship is a private matter between one and his Creator. It is not valid to complete a worship on behalf of a living person.