Posted on July 30, 2008 by

Martyrdom of Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.)

The 25th of Rajab marks the day of martyrdom of Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.), the seventh Imam in the Progeny of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W.). He was the son of Imam Ja’far-e-Sadiq (A.S.) and Lady Hameedah Khatoon (S.A.). He was born on the 7th of Safar, 128 AH in Abwa between Makkah and Madinah.

Courtesy: Syed Awn Husain Rizvi

Family Tree

Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.), son of Ja’far-e-Sadiq (A.S.), son of Muhammad-e-Baqar (A.S), son of Ali Zain-ul-Abideen (A.S.), son of Husain (A.S.), son of Ali (A.S.) and Fatimah (S.A.), son-in-law and daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W.) respectively.

Name, Kunniyat and Title

Imam Musa-e-Kazim was named Musa by his father. One question that arises is why was he named Musa when all the other Imams had names that had either never been used before or used only by the Bani Hashim (A.S.). The reason will be explained in a later post.

His Kunniyat was Abul Ali. Abul Hasan and Abul Ibrahim are also stated. His titles include Kazim (The Restrained or Calm One) and Abdus Sualeh (The Virtuous Slave of Allah).


Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) spent 20 years of his sacred life under the gracious patronage of his father. His inherent genius and gifted virtues, combined with the enlightened guidance and education from his father, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (A.S.), was manifested in his personality. He was fully versed with Divine Knowledge in his childhood as are all Imams (A.S.).

Allamah Majlisi relates that once Abu Hanifa happened to call upon the holy abode of Imam-e-Sadiq (A.S.) to ask him about some religious matters. The Imam was asleep; so he was kept waiting outside till the Imam’s awakening. Meanwhile, Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.), who was 5 years old, came out of the house. After offering him his best regards, Abu Hanifah inquired, “O son of the Prophet (S.A.W.W.)! What is your opinion about the deeds of a man? Does he do them by himself, or does Allah make him do them?”

“O Abu Hanifa!”, the 5-year-old Imam replied. “The doings of a man are confined to three possibilities:

  • That Allah alone does them while the man is quite helpless
  • That both Allah and the man equally share the commitment
  • That the man does them alone

Now, if the first assumption is true, it obviously proves the injustice of Allah who punishes His creatures for sins which they have not committed. If the second condition be accepted, even then Allah is unjust if He punishes a man for sins in which he is equally a partner. But the undesirability of both these conditions is evident in the case of Allah. Thus, we are naturally left with the third alternative to the problem that men are absolutely responsible for their actions.”


Imam Ja’far-e-Sadiq (A.S.) was martyred on the 25th of Shawwal, 148 AH by Abassid Caliph Mansoor-e-Do-Anaqi (L.A.). Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) succeeded him in the Holy Office of the Imamate as the seventh Imam. The period of his Imamate lasted 35 years. In the first decade of his Imamate, Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of his sacred office, propagating the teachings of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W.). But soon after, he fell victim to the ruling Caliphs and a greater part of his life passed in prison.

Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) lived under the most trying times of the regimes of the despotic Abassid (L.A.) caliphs who were known for their tyrannical and cruel rule. He witnessed the reigns of Mansoor-e-Do-Anaqi (L.A.), Mehdi (L.A.), Hadi (L.A.) and Harun Rashid (L.A.). Mansoor (L.A.) and Harun (L.A.) were the despotic caliphs who put a multitude of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W.) to the sword. Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive or put into horrible dark prisons. Many a Syed youth were “built” into the walls of the city of Baghdad. These depraved caliphs knew no pity or justice; they killed and tortured for the pleasure they derived from human suffering.

The Holy Imam (A.S.) was saved from the tyranny of Mansoor (L.A.) because, being occupied with his project of constructing the new city of Baghdad, the caliph did not have time to turn towards inflicting suffering on the Imam (A.S.). After Mansoor (L.A.), his son Mehdi (L.A.) ascended the throne. For a few years he remained indifferent towards the Imam (A.S.). When in 164 AH, he came to Madinah and heard about the great reputation of the Imam (A.S.), Mehdi (L.A.) could not resist his jealousy and the spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahle-Bayt (A.S.) was rekindled. He somehow managed to take the Imam (A.S.) along with him to Baghdad and got him imprisoned there. But after a year he realized his mistake and released the Imam (A.S.) from prison.

Hadi (L.A.), who lived only for a year, succeeded Caliph Mehdi (L.A.). In 170 AH, the most cruel and tyrannical of these caliphs, Harun Rashid (L.A.), appeared at the head of the Abasside Empire. It was during his reign that the Holy Imam (A.S.) passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison, until his martyrdom.

The Reason For The Tital “Kazim”

Regarding Imam’s (A.S.) morality and ethical excellence, Ibne Hajar remarks, “The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) was such that he was given the title of Al-Kazim (one who swallows his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of Allah, and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did him wrong.”

A servant of Imam (A.S.) was heating a metal rod for some reason. Imam’s young son came out playing and the heated metal accidentally dropped on his head. The accident was fatal.

The servant was captured. When he was being brought before the Imam (A.S.), he was trembling and sweating profusely at the impending death sentence to be given to him.

When he looked at the Imam (A.S.), he saw tears streaming down the Imam’s (A.S.) face and his son’s body in his arms. Imam looked at him and said:

“I free you in the name of Allah.”

Such was the state of Imam’s forgiveness and generosity.


Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) had 18 sons and 18 daughters. The most famous of his sons is his successor, Imam Ali-e-Raza (A.S.) and the most famous of his daughters is Fatimah Kubra known as Masuma-e-Qum who is buried in Qum, Iran.

Literary Achievements

Time and circumstances did not permit the Holy Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) to establish institutions to impart religious knowledge to his followers, as his father, Imam Ja’far-e-Sadiq (A.S.), and his grandfather, Imam Muhammad-e-Baqar (A.S.), had done. He was never allowed to address a congregation. He carried on his mission of preaching and guiding people quietly. He also became the author of a few books, the most famous of which is “Masnad of Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.)”.

His Martyrdom

Harun Rashid (L.A.) sent his armies to Madinah to arrest the Imam (A.S.) and bring him to Baghdad. The houses of the Saadat (descendants of the Prophet [S.A.W.W.]) were burned. Women and children ran out of the houses towards the shrine of the Prophet (S.A.W.W.).

Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.) was arrested from the shrine of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W.) and many other Syed young men and boys were captured. Imam was taken to Basra while the rest were taken to a dungeon in Naishapur (Nieshabur), Iran and cut to pieces.

Imam was then moved to Baghdad where he spent 13 years of his life in a prison with no light, so low that one could not stand inside and with only a small hole for air. He became weak and frail, such that he could be described as only skin over bones.

One of the followers of Imam (A.S.) wanted to see him. His enthusiasm was so great that he convinced one of the guards, also a secret follower of the Imam (A.S.), to help him.

The guard arranged for him to secretly peek into the dungeon through the small hole mentioned above. The man looked inside, turned back to the guard and said there was no one inside.

“What do you see?”, asked the guard.

“Only a white sheet spread flatly on the ground”, replied the man.

“That sheet is spread over Imam Musa-e-Kazim (A.S.)”, replied the guard.

On the 25th of Rajab, 183 AH, Harun Rashid (L.A.) poisoned the Imam. Four laborers were brought to take the body of Imam (A.S.) to the bridge of Baghdad on a wooden board and leave it there.

Imam’s (A.S.) burial rites were performed by his son Imam Ali-e-Raza (A.S.), also his successor as Imam, and he was buried in Baghdad. The place is now known as Kazmain. Imam’s (A.S.) grandson Imam Muhammad Taqi (A.S.) is also buried there.

Some Pictures of Kazmain