Wives and children

Muhammad al-Bakir had four wives, the first being Umm Farwa bint Kassim bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr, who gave birth of Jafar Sadik and Abdullah al-Fatah. The second wife, Umm Hakeem bint Asad bin Mughira Thaqafi had two sons, Ibrahim and Abdullah. The third wife was Layla, who gave birth of Ali and Zainab. While Umm Salma was the daughter being born by the fourth wife.

Ibn Hajar writes in his "Sawaik'l Muhriqa" (p. 120) that, "Imam Muhammad Bakir has disclosed the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and unfolded the principles of spiritual and religious guidance. Nobody can deny his exalted character, his God- given knowledge, his divinely-gifted wisdom and his obligation and gratitude towards spreading of knowledge. He was a sacred and highly talented spiritual leader and for this reason he was popularly titled al-Bakir which means the exponder of knowledge. Kind of heart, spotless in character, sacred by soul and noble by nature, the Imam devoted all his time in submission to God. It is beyond the power of a man to count the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithfuls. His sayings in devotion and abstinence, in knowledge and wisdom and in religious exercise and submission to God are so great in number that the volume of this book is quite insufficient to cover them all."

Much has been recorded about Muhammad al-Bakir's person and extraordinary qualities. Once he said, "The height of perfection is excellence in the understanding of the religion" and "The scholar who derives benefit from his knowledge is better than seventy thousand devotees." He strove to impress people by his extensive knowledge on religion as well as science. Himself a student of science had once said: "Air contains a combustible energy, and if it is isolated, and comes in our hand in its purest form; it will cause a big combustible energy that can even melt away an iron." Firstly, he indicates an existence of oxygen in air, which constitutes approximately 20% of the atmosphere. Oxygen was first isolated by a clergyman and chemist, Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) in 1774, and independently by Karl Scheele (1742-1786) at about the same period, and it was recognised as fire-air to be the promoter of combustion. But Lavoisier (1743-1794), a French chemist was the first to demonstrate the true nature of combution as an oxidation reaction and to give oxygen its modern name. Secondly, Muhammad al-Bakir indicates its power to melt an iron. There are some 40 variants of melting an iron. The oxy-Acetylene Gas is a dominant process for welding and melting an iron, and therefore, the oxyacetylene torch was invented in 1901 by Edmund Fouche.

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