Imam Musa al-Kazim (as) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the

despotic `Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel

administration . He witnessed the reings of al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi , al-Mahdi and

Harun ar-Rashid . Al-Mansur and Harun ar-Rashid were the despotic kings who put a

multitude of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to the sword .

Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into horrible dark

prisons during their lifetime . These depraved caliphs knew no pity or justice and

they killed and tortured for the plessure they derived from human sufferings.The

Holy Imam (as) was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur because the king , being

occupied with his project of constructing the new city of

Baghdad , could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam. By 157 AH the

city of Baghded was built . This was soon followed by the death of its founder a

year later .

After al-Mansur , his son al-Mahdi ascended the throne . For a few years he remained

indifferent towards the Imam (as) . When in 164 AH he came to Medina and heard

about the great reputation of the Imam, he could not resist his jealousy and the

spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahl-al-bayt (as) was rekindled . He

somehow managed to take the Imam (as) along with him to Baghdad

and got him imprisoned there . But after a year he realized his mistake and released

the Imam (as) from jail. al-Mahdi was succeeded by al-Hadi who lived only for a


Imam (as) gets arrested


Now , in 170 AH , the most cruel and tyrannical king Harun ar-Rashid appeared at the

head of the `Abbasid Empire . It was during his reign that the Holy Imam (as)

passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison till he was poisoned.

Harun was aware, as he told his son, of Imam's virtues: "Had the nation known what

we know regarding the virtues of Musa bin Jaa’far they would not have kept us in our

place not even for a moment". Harun had the Imam (as) arrested in the

Prophet's (pbuh) mosque whilst Imam was praying. He was handcuffed and shackled

and sent to Basra.

His Martyrdom and burial


Al-Rashid, Kept the Imam in jail and he used to transfer him from one jail to

another. First the Imam (as) was put into prison under the custody of Isa bin

Ja'fer. After a year Isa wrote to Harun saying he could no longer imprison

Imam (as) as he could find only piety and righteousness in him. Harun had the

Imam (as) moved to Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi who too became a

follower of Imam (as). The prisons were so small that there was no room to stand

and the food was a cup of water and two pieces of dry bread a day. Imam (as)

remained patient. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of Sindi bin Shahak who

ultimately poised the Imam (as) on order of al-Rashid on 25th Rajab 13 A.H. Even

his corpse was not spared humiliation and was taken out of the prison and left on

the Bridge of Baghdad .

When Harun Rashid's brother Sulayman heard of this he was furious and arranged for

his burial in a Quraysh cemetery outside Baghdad (the 8th Imam gave ghusl and

kafan). A town grew around the tomb of Imam called Kadhmain (meaning the two

Kadhims) since the 9th Imam, Imam Mohammad Taqi (as), is also buried there.

Imam remained in prison for the last 19 years of his life. The 19 years of

imprisonment gave the Shia population a little relief as the rulers concentrated on

Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from Arabia to Iran, India etc. thus

spreading Islam and it was one of the factors towards the popularity of the 8th


The Imam (as) was known for his tolerance, prudence, the spirit of forgiveness and

a tight control of his temper, even against those who hurt him. He was like his

grandfather, the Messenger (p.), of great morals. He had a soft heart and a soft

tongue; he was a role model in his ethics just as he was a model for others inb belief