"If you make a promise to children, then do not break it. Indeed, they see you as their sustainers, and Allah the Exalted does not anger over anything as He angers for women and children."
These are some words attributed to the 7th Imam, whose birthday is observed during this Islamic calendar month of Safar.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (peace be upon him) was born on Safar 7th, 128 AH, in the holy city of Medina. His father is the 6th Imam, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him), and his mother’s name is Hameeda.
The Imam spent most of his early life with his father and benefited from his knowledge until about the age of twenty. There are many narrations that describe Imam as-Sadiq allowing the young Imam al-Kadhim to demonstrate his knowledge to questioning scholars.
Imam as-Sadiq said of the Imam, "and he has the knowledge of wisdom, understanding and generosity; and the knowledge of what people need in what they dispute about in the matter of their religion."
It is narrated that the prominent Sunni jurist Abu Hanifa said to Imam as-Sadiq, "I saw your son Musa praying, and people were walking right in front of him, and he didn't forbid them from that." Imam as-Sadiq called for Imam Musa al-Kadhim and said, "My son, Abu Hanifa is mentioning that you were praying and people were walking right in front of you?"
Imam Musa al-Kadhim responded, "Yes, my father, and the One whom I was praying to was closer to me than those people. Allah the Exalted says 'and We are closer to him than the jugular vein.'"
By the time Imam al-Kadhim became the active Imam, the Abbasid government in power had substantially overcome the internal instability it once suffered from. Under the leadership of Harun ar-Rasheed, the fraudulent Abbasid government was strong enough to abandon the pro-Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) façade it once upheld.
This was a time when the Ahlul Bayt's followers were persecuted throughout the Muslim world. For the rest of his life, Imam Musa al-Kadhim was taken from prison to prison, ending up in the Abbasid capital Baghdad in close proximity to Harun. The word al-Kadhim ("one who suppresses anger") is actually a nickname attributed to the Imam for his patience and impeccable character despite the oppression he suffered.
The Imam once wrote to Harun: "There will not pass a day from my troubles without a day passing from your comforts until we both perish…only to reach a Day which does not end – and there, the fraudulent will lose."
Imam Musa al-Kadhim was known by his prison guards for his extensive worship of the Almighty. Imam al-Kadhim used to say, "Oh Allah, I had always asked you to give me time to worship you, and you have responded to my call, so all thanks to you for that!"
With most of his years spent in prison, it is fortunate that there are still many narrations safely transmitted by close companions of the Imam that reach us now in the 21st century. The following narrations attributed to the Imam help us understand the importance of reason and intellect.
"For everything there is a proof; the proof of the mindful is reflection; the proof of reflection is silence."
"Allah has two proofs over people: one is external, and the other is internal. The external is that of the Prophets, Messengers, and Imams. The internal is that of the intellect."
Harun ar-Rashid ordered for the Imam to be poisoned when the Imam was about 55 years old. Imam Musa al-Kadhim was martyred on the 25th of Rajab, 183 AH, in Baghdad. The Imam's shrine in Kadhmiya (in Baghdad) continues to attract millions of visitors to this day.