MUHAMMAD AL-BAKIR (94-114/713-733)

Abu Jafar Muhammad bin Ali, known as al-Bakir was born on 1st Rajab, 57/October 15, 677. He was about two years and half old during the event of Karbala, and assumed Imamate at the age of 37 years. He was noted for his generosity, devotion in piety and was peaceful by nature. He possessed extensive knowledge in religion matters, and because of that, according to Yaqubi, he was nicknamed al-Bakir (split open, or revealer of secret science), as it is said, "tabaqqara al-rajulu fi'l aw fi'l mal"means "the man became abundant in knowledge" or "he enhanced himself in knowledge." But according to Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282), he was so called because he collected an ample treasure or fund (tabaqqar) of knowledge. Thus, he was also called Baqir al-ulum (opener of the knowledge). Many jurists attracted by the fame of his learning. Among them were Muhammad bin Minkadir, Abu Hanifah an-Noman, Qatada bin Diama, Abdullah bin Muammar al-Laythi and Nafi bin Azraq etc.

The period of Muhammad al-Bakir is noted for the rule of the Umayyad caliph Suleman (96-99/ 715-717), Umar bin Abdul Aziz (99-101/ 717-720), Yazid II (101-105/720-724) and Hisham (105-125/724-743). He did not take part in the politics and passed most part of life calmly in Medina.

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