Imam's reply to Hisham's question

In 106/725, caliph Hisham visited Mecca on pilgrimage when Muhammad al- Bakir was also in the city. Hisham found al-Bakir sitting among his followers, therefore, he sent one amazing question in the presence of al-Bakir, so that he might not give its answer and become discredited before his followers. Hisham's question was "What will the people eat and drink on the day of judgement, till the time their reckoning is finished?" Imam replied that, "There will be abundance of fruits and rivers on that place, from which they shall continue to avail till such time as their reckoning is finished." Hisham had intended thereby to bring censure on al-Bakir in the open assembly. He was mighty gratified at this answer, thinking that it would provide him with an excuse for his designs. He therefore sent a counter-question that, "Due to the fear of their accounts, how it is possible that the people will have the sense of eating." Imam said, "Go, and tell to Hisham that the sense of eating and drinking will be also among those people, who had been already cast into the hell. Does Hisham not read the Koranic verse, in which it is mentioned that, "And shall call the inmates of the (hell) fire unto the inmates of the garden (of paradise), saying: Pour on us of the water or of what God hath provided you with; They shall say: Verily, God hath forbidden both to the infidels." (7:50) On hearing this, Hisham was dumb founded and in his mind he had to admit the merits of al-Bakir.

Al-Bakir articulated the implication of the doctrine of taqiya in Shiism, and we may attribute the rudiments of its theory to him. But it was left to his son and successor, Jafar Sadik to give it a final form and make it an absolute condition of the faith.

Many leading jurists used to visit al-Bakir to discuss the legal problems. Among them were Muhammad bin Minkadir, Abu Hanifah an-Noman, Qatada bin Diama, Abdullah bin Mu'ammar and al-Laythi etc. He greatly emphasised also on the importance of knowledge and its romotion. Kulaini quotes in "al-Kafi" (1st vol.,p. 89 and 104) that he said, "Acquire knowledge and adorn it with forbearance and reverence. Be humble to those whom you give knowledge and also to those from you acquired it. Never be among the harsh tempered scholars. Lest you should forfeit your title because of your wrong and harsh demeanour." He also said, "The divine tax on knowledge is to teach it to God's creatures."

Mirkhwand (d. 903/1498) writes in "Rawzatus Safa" that, "Neither the pen can write, nor the tongue can describe the merits and the traditions of al-Bakir." Shibli Nomani writes in "Sirat-i Numan" (Lahore, 1972, p. 28) that, "Abu Hanifah sat for a long time at Imam Baqir's feet and acquired from him much valuable knowledge of fiqah and hadith not available anywhere else. Shiahs and Sunnis are agreed that Abu Hanifah derived much of his learning from Baqir."

Muhammad al-Bakir died in 117/735, and was buried in the Baqi cemetery near his father's grave.

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