He was born on Tuesday the first of Rajab, A.H. 57, at Madinah and died at the age of 57, on Monday the 7th Zilhijja 114 A.H.
The Holy Imam Muhammad al-Baqir is the fifth Apostolic Imam. His epithet was Abu Ja’far and he was popularly titled “al-Baqir”. His mother was the daughter of Imam Hasan (A.S.). Thus was only Imam who was connected with Hadrat Fatimu‘z zehra, both from his paternal and maternal side”. Brief History of Fourteen Infallibles, Ansariyan Publications, Qum Iran., p.117
HIS EARLY UPBRINGING
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir was brought up in the holy lap of his grand father Imam Husayn (A.S.), for three years. For thirty four hears he was under the gracious patronage of his father, Ali Zaynu‘l-Abidin.
Al-Baqir Mohammad b. Ali b. Husayn, peace be on them, was out of (all) brothers of his father, Ali b. Husayn, his testaimentary trustee (Wasi), and the one who undertook (qaim) the office of Imam after him. He surpassed all of them through his outstanding merit (fadl) in traditional knowledge (ilm) asceticism and leadership. He was the most renowned of them, the one among them who was most esteemed by both non-Shia (amma) and Shia (Khassa), and the most able of them. None of the sons of al Hasan and al Husayn, peace be on them, showed the same ability in knowledge of religion, traditions, the sunna , the knowledge of the Quran and the life of the Prophet (sira) and the techniques of literature, as Abu Jafar (Muhammad al-Baqir) showed. The surviving companions (of the Prophet), the leading members of the next generation (taabiun) and the leaders of the Muslim Jurists reported the principal features (ma’alim) of religion on his authority. By virtue of his outstanding merit he became a sign post (of knowledge) to his family. Proverbs were coined about him and reports and verses were written to describe him
Concerning him al-Qurazi says :
O (you) who split open (baqir) knowledge(making available to the people of piety and the best of those who seek to answer the call of the Exalted.
Malik b. S’yan al-Juhni said in the praise of him, peace be on him : When the people seek knowledge of Quran, Quraysh rely upon him.
Kitab-al-Irshad Shaikh Mufid. p. 393.
In the testamentary bequest (Wasiyaya) which the Commander of the faithful peace be on him, made to his children, mention was made of Mohammad b. Ali b. al-Husayn and of his trusteeship. The Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, name him and caused him to be known as the one who split open (religious) knowledge (Ulum) as the narrators of tradition (ahshab al-athar ) report. Ibid. p. 394.
“The Shia give an account of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, from heaven (The Apostle) gave it to Fatima, peace be on her. In it are the names of the Imams after (The Apostle) and in it is Muhammad b. Ali, the Imam after his father.
The Shi’a also report that God, the Mighty and High, sent down to His Prophet, the blessings and peace of God be on them, a document sealed with twelve seals. He ordered him to give to the Commander of the faithfully, peace be on him, and to tell him to break the first seal, and he should act according to what is in (that part of the document). At the time of his death, he should pass on to his son, al-Hasan, peace be on him, and tell him to break the second seal and act according to what is in (that part of) document. At the time of this death he should pass it to his brother al-Husayn, peace be on him,. He should tell him to break the third seal and act according to what is below it. Then at his death, he should pass it to his son, ‘; Ali b. Husayn al-Akbar (the elder) and he should instruct him is a similar way. Then Muhammad should pass it to his son right down to the last of the Imams”. Ibid. p..395.
(Muhammad b. Ali was asked) about God’s words : Ask the people of remembrance (ahl-al-dhikr) if you do not know (XVI 43). He said we are the people of remembrance (ahl-al-dhikr)”
The shaykh from al-Rayy said: I asked Mohammad b. Muqatil about these (words). He spoke about them according to his opinion and he said: “The people of remembrance (ahl-al dhikr) are all the religious scholars (Ulema).”
I mentioned that to Abu Zura. He was astounded at his words. Then I put before him what Yahya b. Abdal Hamid had told me. He said : “Mohammad b. Ali, peace be upon them, speaks the truth. They are the people of remembrance (ahl-al dhikr). By my life, Abu Jafar, peace be upon him, is one of the greatest scholars (Ulema). Kitabal Irshad,S. Mufid. p.397.
“Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, a famous scholar belonging to the Snnite School says : “Imam Muhammad al-Baqar 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 Baqir‘ which means ‘the exponder of knowledge’. Kind of heart, spotless in character, sacred by soul and noble by nature, the Imam devouted all his time in submission to Allah (and advocating the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his descendents). 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 faithful”. A brief History of Fourteen Infallibles, Ansarian Publications, Qum, Iran, p. 118.
“The Holy Imam managed to collect the teachings and reforms of the Holy Prophet and his Ahlu-l-Bait in the form of books.His pupils compiled books on different branches of science and arts under his instructions.
In the excellence of his personal purity and godly traits, the Holy Imam Muhammad al-Baqir was a model of the Holy Prophet and his great grandfather, Ali ibn Abi Talib. His admonitions created a spiritual sensation among the Muslims in general”. Ibid. p. 119.
The Holy Imam gave much importance to convening majalis (meetings) in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. Kumayt ibn Zayed al-Asadi, one of the most famous and hi9ghly talented poets of that time used to recite the elegy of Imam Husayn in those majalis. Ibid. p. 119
Abu Jafar, peace be upon him,recounted reports of the beginings of history (mubtada’) and reports of the prophets. Stories of the compaigns of the Prophet (maghazi) were written on his authority. (men) followed the practices of the Prophet (sunan) on his authority and relied on him with regard to the rites of the pilgrimage which he reported on the authority of the Apostle of God, amy God bless him and his family. They (also) wrote a commentary of the Quran on his authority. Both the Shia (Khasa) and the non Shia (amma) report traditions on his authority. He debated with exponents of individual reasoning (ahl al-ara) and the people learnt a great deal of theology (ilm al-kalam), on the authority of his father, peace be upon them, that the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, used to say : “The best works are three: Looking after brothers with money; giving the people justice on your own account; and mentioning God in every circumstances”. Ibid. 401.
“It is reported on his authority, peace be on him, that he was asked about traditions which he put forward and did not support with a chain of authorities. He said: “If I report a tradition without giving it a chain of authorities then my chain of authorities doe it is in fact my father on the authority of my grand father on the authority of his father on the authority of his grand father, the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, on the authority of Gabriel, peace be on him, on the authority of God, the Mighty and High”. Ibid. 401.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir contnued his preachings peacefully till 114 AH. On 7th Dhi’l-hijja when he was fiftyseven years old, Hisham ibn Abdi’l-Malik ibn Marwan, the then ruler, got him martyred by pioson. The funeral prayers of this Holy Imam were conducted by his son Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, the Sixth Imam, and his body was laid to rest in Jannatu’l Baqi in Medina.
THE ACCOUNT OF THE CHILDREN OF IMAM ABU JAFAR (peace be upon him). He left seven children.
Source: Kitab-al Irshad (English) P. 406.