The way of learning from al- Sadiq and discussing for evidence was not as the way we find today in the Islamic theological centers. Rather, his students, except some of them, believed in his Imamate. As we have mentioned earlier, the Imamis believe that the knowledge of the Imam did not depend on the idea and ijtihad (capability for issuing a verdict according to Islamic Law).
So, the Imam was asked about the reference. Rather, his knowledge was inherited and divine. Yes, he was sometimes asked about the reason for the rule. Such questions were asked for learning and advantage, not for discussion.
The non- Imamis learned from al- Sadiq because they believed in his greatness, his excellency, and his Imamate.(163) They regarded their learning from him as a virtue.(164)
Ibin Abu al- Hadid attributed the knowledge of the four juristic doctrines to him.(165)
The questioner came to al- Sadiq to ask him about the difficult matters he met. Most of al- Sadiq's students brought sheets of paper and ink pots to write what al- Sadiq dictated to them to report it carefully.
If you want to know the degree of al- Sadiq's knowledge, then think about the great number of those who learned from him. Their number was over four thousand students. Why did they all reported from al- Sadiq and did not report from other than him though there were many scholars during his time?
Imam al- Sadiq, from whose school that great number graduated, did not teach those sciences for reputation and boasting and honor.
In the mean time, his students learned those sciences to serve religion and the Islamic Law. Whoever broke these aims, al- Sadiq dismissed him from his school.
His Teaching for His Students:
Al- Sadiq had many teachings, lessons, and advice. We will devote special chapters for them. The following are teachings, lessons, and advice for the students of knowledge.
Amru b. al- Muqdam(166) said: "When I came to him for the first time, Abu Abd Allah peace be on him, said to me: "Learn truthfulness before the speech."(167) I (the author) say. How valuable this advice is!
He (al- Sadiq) advised his followers to adopt truthfulness and to pay the trust. These things are important for the person to live happily in this world, to be rich and famous. And people will trust him and accept him for judgment among them.
As for seeking knowledge, al- Sadiq has many directions. He, peace be on him, sometimes said: "I like to see the young men of you following two states: either a scholar or a learner. If he does not do (these two states), then he wastes (his time); if he wastes, he loses; and if he wastes, he commits a sin."(168)
And he sometimes said: "Seek knowledge and with it adorn yourselves with clemency and respect."(169) Al- Sadiq not only urged his students to seek knowledge, but also urged them to adopt clemency and gravity." Concerning humbleness, he, peace be on him, said: "Be humble for him whom you teach knowledge, be humble for him from whom you seek knowledge, do not be haughty scholars, so, your falsehood removes your right."(170)
I (the author) say: How exact this advice is! And how high for teaching it is! That is because knowledge does not avail its owner nor people unless it is accompanied by humbleness, whether the person who has knowledge is a teacher or a learner. And men abandon the haughty person, then haughtiness removes his right.
Advising those who seek knowledge, al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: "And do not seek knowledge for three (things): for dissembling, for boasting, and for disputing.
And do not seek it (knowledge) for three (things): for seeking ignorance, for abstaining from knowledge, and for feeling shame of people. And preserved knowledge is like the lamp."(171)
I (the author) say: Indeed, al- Sadiq, peace be on him, wanted seeking knowledge for knowledge and for advantage of the nation. If the person seeks knowledge for hypocrisy or boasting or argument, he will not avail himself nor people. Rather, he will harm himself and people. And if the person leaves knowledge for ignorance and abstaining from knowledge, he will show his foolishness. Also there is no need in shamefulness which leads you to the vice and prevents you from getting the virtue. And people do not avail themselves with knowledge unless it is spread.
Because knowledge is very dear, al- Sadiq urged people to seek it at any cost. In this respect, he said: "Seek knowledge even if you sacrifice your hearts and cover the depth of the sea."
As knowledge maybe taken from various people, so al- Sadiq prevented his students from taking it from inappropriate people. He, peace be on him, said: "Seek knowledge from the origin of knowledge. And beware of those who intrude upon knowledge because they prevent you from Allah."
I (the author) say: We see with our own eyes that the learner adopts the thoughts of his teacher. So, if the teacher is deviated from what is right, surely he will mislead his student. And if the teacher is righteous, he will lead his student to righteousness. That is because the student imitates his teacher by nature.
Al- Sadiq not only urged his students to seek knowledge, rather he wanted them to apply it, peace be on him said: "Learn whatever you want of knowledge, indeed Allah does not avail you with knowledge unless you apply it, because the concern of scholars is to protect (knowledge) while the concern of the foolish is to report (it)"(172) Also he said: "The knowledge which is not put into practice is like the treasure from which (nothing) is spent. (The person) makes himself tired through collecting it (the treasure) while he does not avail himself of it."(173) He said:
"The person who knows good but does not apply it is like the lamp which gives light for people while it burns itself."(174)
He (al- Sadiq) said: "If the scholar does not put his knowledge into practice, his preachment slips from the heart as rain slips from the rock."(175)
Al- Sadiq showed his students how to memorize what they learned. He, peace be on him, said: "Write (what you learn) down because you do not memorize (it) unless you write (it) down."(176)
Some of what he said to al- Mufaddal b. 'Amr is: "Write and spread your knowledge among your brothers. If you are about to die, let your children inherit your books because the time of commotion will come, when they will not like to be with anything except their books."(177)
He said: "Keep your books because you will be in need of them." Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, did not want the virtue of knowledge for the people of his time only. Rather, he wanted it for every generation and time. Also he advised his students to add all virtues to knowledge. You will know this through his commandments. Also you will know this through his following words: "If the man of you becomes pious in his religion, becomes truthful in his speech, pays the trust, behaves in a good manner towards people, it will be said that such a person is Ja'fari. Such qualities of his please me; otherwise displeases me. And it will be said that these are Ja'far's manners."(178)
Indeed, al- Sadiq, his grandfathers, and his children did their best to urge the Muslim community to adopt virtues and to prevent them it from practicing vices with various means. But people refused to follow the righteous way.
Al- Sadiq urged Muslims to take care of scholars and have pity on them. So, he, peace be on him said: "Surely, I have mercy on three (persons) and people should have mercy on them: the dear (person) whom abasement has hit, the rich (person) whom need has hit, and the scholar whom his people and the ignorant have scorned."(179)
Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: "Three (persons) complain to Allah, the Great and Almighty. the empty mosque where its people do not pray, the scholar among the ignorant, and the hanging Koran on which dust has fallen, and which no one reads."(180)
Ishaq b. 'Ammar al- Sayrafy(181) said: "I said to al- Sadiq, peace be on him: What about standing up for the man?' He, peace be on him, said: 'It is reprehensible except for the man in the religion.' And he, peace be on him, said: 'Whoever respects a Muslim juriseprudent, Allah will be pleased with him on the Day of Judgment. And whoever insults a Muslim juriseprudent, Allah will be angry with him on the Day of Judgment."(182)
Over four thousand persons reported traditions from al- Sadiq, peace be on him. Writing down (traditions) was before him and it (writing down) became very much during his time. And the traditions which were reported on his authority were about all sciences.
The Shi'a learned traditions from al- Sadiq as those who learned them from the Chief of the prophets, may Allah bless him and his family. That is because the Shi'a thought that al- Sadiq did not create those traditions. Rather, the Prophet had said them. For this reason, the Shi'a learned them from him without any doubt or objection. Also, they asked him about every thing which they needed. So, his reported traditions have every thing.
If the reporters were over four thousand persons, then what would be the number of the traditions? The biographers have mentioned that Aban b.Taghlub reported thirty thousand traditions from him, Mohammed b. Muslim reported sixteen thousand traditions from him, and thirty thousand traditions from al- Baqir, and Jabir al- Ju'fy reported a lot of traditions from al- Sadiq. Then can you count the traditions reported on his authority? Many of these traditions have been lost, and some of them have been neglected. Still, the traditions which were reported on the authority of al-Sadiq are very many.
From the four books Al- Kafi, Man La Yahdarahu Al- Faqih, Al-Tahdhib, and Al- Istibsar, I have collected a part of those traditions which have been reported on the authority of al- Sadiq, his grandfathers, and his children. These traditions are about ethics, manners, and rules only. Then Mulla Muhsin al- Fayd al- Kashany(183) has collected them in the book Al-Kafi.
Al- Hur al- 'Amily(184) found other suitable books for Islamic rules. He has added their contents to those of the four books mentioned- above. So, he has written his book called 'Tafsil Wasai'l Al- Shi'a'. So, he has reported eighty tradition books from al- Sadiq with out means and seventy tradition books with means.
Finally, al- 'Allama (the scholar) al- Nury Mirza Husayn(185) studied many books. He found them good for issuing Islamic rules. So, he has written his book called Mustadrak Al- Wasa'il.
The above- mentioned books have been specialized to Islamic rules. Ethics and manners have not been collected in the four books except al-Kafi. Most traditions which have been mentioned in these books are on the authority of al- Sadiq, peace be on him. And if you want to count the books on the traditions on the authority of al- Sadiq, his grandfathers, and his children, you will be tired of counting. For example, Shaykh al- Saduq Mohammed b. 'Ali b. Babawayh has written tens of books which contain the traditions of ahl al Bayt.
What al- Majlisy has collected in his book Bihar Al- Anwar denotes the plentiful traditions of Ahl al Bayt.
Although this book has strong and weak traditions as the other big books have, you will find their plenty when you read some volumes of it.(186) It is strange that this comprehensive book does not have all the traditions of ahl al- Bayt So, the great scholar Mirza Mohammed al- Tehrani collected many traditions of ahl al- Bayt in his book called 'Mustdrak al-Bihar'.
Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, encouraged his companions to report the tradition. In this connection he said to Mu'aawiya b. Wahab,(187) the reporter of the tradition: "Whoever is knowledgeable in the religion is better than a thousand worshippers who have neither knowledge nor a report."
I (the author) say: I do not think that you are astonished at this preference because Allah, the Exalted, wants His servants to avail each other and reform each other. The worshipper is righteous. And the knowledgeable traditionalist is a righteous reformer.
Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is the knowledge of the branch rules beginning from tahara (ritual purity) to diya (blood money). These rules are taken from the four proofs. The most important one of these four proofs is the Sunna. The Sunna simply means the traditions of the Prophet and of the members of his House. Of course, this is a Shi'te definition for the Sunna. So, the Shi'te juristic books are taken from these four proofs. Al-Sadiq had more traditions than the members of the House. So, his traditions helped the Muslim scholars to conclude most of the Islamic rules.
Not only the Shi'te jurisprudence depended on al- Sadiq, but also many Sunni jurisprudence, who lived during his time, learned jurisprudence from him. Some of them were Malik, Abu Hanifa, the two Sufyanis, Ayyub, and so on. Besides, in his book 'Sharh Nahjul Balagha, vol. 1, p. 6, b. Abu al-Hadeed has attributed the jurisprudence of the four doctrines to al- Sadiq. And in his book 'Mukhtasar Al- Tuhfa Al- Ithna 'Ashariya, p.8, al- Alusy says: "And this is Abu Hanifa, who was among the Sunnis, boasted and said with the most eloquent tongue: 'Were it not for the two years, al-Nu'man (Abu Hanifa) would have perished.' He meant the two years which he (Abu- Hanifa) spent to learn jurisprudence from Imam Ja'far al- Sadiq, peace be on him."
For this reason, it was natural for Abu Abd Allah, peace be on him, to be the unique jurisprudence in Islam. Many reports and reporters justify his much jurisprudence. And whoever studies carefully the tradition books will know al- Sadiq's many traditions and reporters. Many jurisprudence lived during al- Sadiq's time. But their reporters were very few. And no one of them reached al- Sadiq's knowledge and jurisprudence. So, al- Sadiq was ready to answer any question.
Fiqh (jurisprudence) is the general system for men. Without it, religion is not known. From here, al- Sadiq ordered his followers to understand religion deeply. He, peace be on him, said: "The tradition about the lawful and the unlawful which you learn from a truthful person is better than this world and the gold and the silver where in."
Also, al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: "Seeking your life in this world should not busy you from seeking your religion. That is because the person who seeks life in this world may achieve it or it may escape him. So, he will be perished by what has escaped him of it (life)."
To urge his companions to understand religion carefully, al- Sadiq said: "Would that the whips were over the heads of my companions to understand the lawful and the unlawful deeply!"
Also, al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: "Understand religion deeply. That is because whoever does not understand it deeply then is I'rabi (nomad)."(188)
He (al- Sadiq) was asked about the word hikma (wisdom) in the following words of Allah, the Exalted, "And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good."(189) So, al- Sadiq said: "Indeed wisdom is knowledge and understanding religion deeply."(190)
Al- Sadiq thought that the jurisprudent was the person who understood the tradition deeply. So, he, peace be on him, said: "Know the position of our Shi'a (followers) through their good reports from us because we do not regard the jurisprudent of them as a jurisprudent unless he becomes a traditionalist."(191)
Ethics was not classified in the beginning. Rather, ethics were derived from the verses of the Holy Koran,(192) from the traditions of the Chief of the prophets and trustees of authority, and from their wise children, peace be on them. The Shi'a began writing books about ethics during the last years of the second century (A.H.). During those years, Isma'il b. Mahran b. Abu Nasir al- Suküny, a Companion of al- Rida's (peace be on him) and a reliable reporter, wrote a book about ethics. He has called the book 'Sifat Al- Mu'min wa Al- Fajir.'
In the third century (A.H.), great figures wrote books about ethics. Some of them were Abu Ja'far b. Mohammed b. Khalid al- Barquqy. He was among the reliable reporters. His father Mohammed was among the companions of al- Rida, peace be on him, and among his reliable reporters. The book of Abu Ja'far was one of the best books. He (Abu Ja'far) died in Qum in the year 273 or 280 (A.H.).
And al- Hasan b. 'Ali b. Shu'ba has written a valuable book about ethics. He has called the book 'Tuhaf al 'Uqul'. The book has wise sayings, preachments, and ethics. Then writing about ethics spread. So, the reliable person in Islam al- Kulainy, may his grave be fragrant, spent many years writing a book about ethics.
He has chosen the most correct traditions in this field. Finally, he was able to write the best book on ethics. He has called the book 'al- Kafi.' If you read this book, you will know the Islamic ethics, the knowledge of al- Sadiq and of ahl al Bayt in this field.
Also if you read this book carefully, you will know that it is the best reference for ethics after the Holy Book (Koran), and that it has the words of the very polite Prophet and the words of those who inherited all knowledge and virtues from him. You will know this truth when you read the chosen words of al- Sadiq, peace be on him, in this book.
There are many sources for exegesis in the words which we have already mentioned about ahl al Bayt. Some exegetes have mainly depended on traditions to explain the Holy Koran. If you want to know something about the words of al- Sadiq, peace be on him, in exegesis, then read the book, 'Majma' Al- Bayan'. Some traditions of al- Sadiq and the ideas of ahl al Bayt about exegesis have been mentioned in this book.
Also, there are several books about the verses of rules. The authors have commented on them using the traditions of ahl al Bayt. We can understand the knowledge of ahl al Bayt in the exegesis of the Koran when we read traditions such as: "I am going to leave among you al- thaqalayn, the Book of Allah and my family the members of my House.
If you hold fast to them, you will never go astray after me, because they will not leave each other till they come to me at the hawd (the river in Paradise)". Al- Sadiq himself says: "By Allah, surely I know the Book of Allah from the beginning to the end as if it were on the palm of my hand, in it, there is the news of the sky and of the earth, the news of what had happened, and the news of what will happen, Allah, the Great and Almighty, said: in it (the Koran) "There is explanation for every thing."(193) Also, al- Sadiq said: "By Allah, we have all knowledge of the Book."(194)
Definitely, an expert in the Koran should be at every time as the tradition of al- thaqalayn denotes this truth. That is because the Koran is a silent Imam. It has clear and difficult verses, abstract and obvious verses, abrogating and abrogated verses, public and specific verses, unlimited and limited verses, and other verses which people cannot understand.
Every Muslim sect claims that the Koran is the source of its beliefs and that it has understood its meanings and objectives. Also, every sect produces evidence for that. According to the claim of the followers of these sects, the Koran is the source of the differences among them. Then, who is the decisive arbitrator whose words are able to answer the claims of these sects? Worth mentioning, the tradition of al-thaqalayn has denoted that the scholars of the Koran were ahl al Bayt.
So, al- Sadiq, peace be on him, was the scholar of the Koran during his time. Besides, there is no person who claim that there was among ahl al Bayt more knowledgeable than al- Sadiq in the exegesis of the Koran and other sciences during his time.
Theology means the science which studies the existence of Allah, His oneness, and His attributes, in addition to Prophethood, the Imamate, and the return. All these matters are studied through the rational proofs based on the correct logical rules.
Theology does not mean the debate through which people have lost their way when they depend on some illogical ideas. Some people use such ideas to defeat their opponents when they debate with them. They do not depend on a firm proof nor do they take knowledge from its real origin.
Some traditions dispraise theologians. However, they do not mean them all. Rather, they mean those who learn debate for boasting and overcoming, do not learn knowledge from its original source, and paid no attention to the corrupt results of their debates. However, such traditions praise those who learn knowledge from its original source, build it on right foundations and strong pillars.
Also the traditions describes them as the tongues and guides for the truth and the leaders and propagandists of belief.
Amir al- Mu'minin (Imam 'Ali), peace be on him, was the first to produce rational and material evidence for the existence of Allah. Those who ignored or were ignorant at the knowledge of Abu al- Hasan on Allah were about to doubt his orations about the above- mentioned matters, claiming that people at that time had no knowledge to prove such matters. But they forgot that Imam 'Ali learned his knowledge directly from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, who said: "I am the city of knowledge and 'Ali is its gate."
The children of Imam 'Ali had the same degree of knowledge about the existence of Allah. So, they taught people what they wanted about the existence of Allah. That is because it is illogical for people to worship the Lord whom they do not know, obey the prophet whom they do not know, and follow the Imam whose position they do not understand deeply. So, to know Allah is the first and the best science. Al- Sadiq, peace be on him, said: "The best worship is to know Allah."(195) Hearing is not one of the rules and fundamentals adopted to know the existence of Allah. That is because the wise men say it is not right for people to copy others in the rational matters.
People may use Koranic verses and traditions as evidence for the existence of Allah. But such verses and traditions guide man to use his intellect or they indicate the instinct like this verse: "Is there doubt about Allah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth?" Such a verse does not force you to believe in the existence of Allah. Rather, it draws your attention to that through showing Allah's creatures like the sky and the earth.(196)
When the Prophet and his family produced evidence for these fundamentals, they urged man to adopt the judgment of intellect. Now listen to the following words of al- Sadiq ,peace be on him, in this respect: "Intellect is the guide of the believer. The pillar of man is intellect. He who does not think does not succeed."(197)
If you read what al- Kazim, peace be on him, told Hisham b. al- Hakam about intellect and the wise, you will know that (ahl al Bayt ) knew the reality of intellect. So, they guided and urged men to make use of its light.(198)
Ahl al Bayt produced much evidence for these fundamentals (i.e. the existence of Allah, His Oneness, etc.).
We may find such evidence in books like 'Nahj al Balagha' by Imam 'Ali, 'Al- Ihtijaj' by al- Tubrisy, 'Isul al- Kafi', 'Al- Tawhid' by al- Saduq, the first and the second volumes of 'al-Bihar', and so on.
163 Tahdhib Al- Asma' wa Al- Lughat. Yanabi' Al- Mawada.
164 Matalib Al- Sa'ul.
165 Sharh Nahj Al- Balagha.
166 We will mention him with his famous reporters.
167 Al- Kafi.
168 Shaykh al- Saduq, al- Majalis, Majlis no. 11.
169 Al- Kafi: 1/36/1.
170 Shaykh al- Saduq, Majlis no. 17, Bihar Al- Anwar 2/41/2.
171 Al- Kafi: 1/35/5.
172 Bihar Al- Anwar: 17/270.
173 Ibid: 2/37/55.
174 Ibid: 2/38/56.
175 Ibid: 2/39/68.
176 Al- Kafi: 1/52/9.
177 Ibid: 1/52/11.
178 Ibid: 2/636.
179 Al- Saduq, al- Khisal, 87.
180 Bihar Al- Anwar: 92/195.
181 We will mention him in the chapter: The Famous Reliable Reporters of Al- Sadiq.
182 Bihar Al- Anwar: 47/44/13.
183 He has many valuable books. It is said that they are about a hundred books. Some of them are Al- Wafi, Al- Safi, Al- Shafi, Al- Mahjja al-Bayda" Al- Haqa'iq, Mafatih Al- Sharai', 'Ilm al- Yaqeen,
and so on. He died in the year 1091.
184 His name was Mohammed b. al- Husayn b. ''Ali al- Hur al- 'amily. His book Al-Wasa'il is the most valuable book in classification. He finished the book on Rajab 15th, in the year 1082 A. H. He has another book called Amal Al- amal. He was born at Mashghara village at Jabal 'Amil on Rajab 8th in the year 1033 A.H. And he died in Kurasan on Ramadan 21st, in the year 1104 A.H.
185 He has many valuable books. He used to collect and write. He died in the year 1320 A.H.
186 He was the Shaykh of Islam. He was Shaykh Mohammed Baqir b. Shaykh Mohammed Taqy al- Majlisy, may his grave be fragrant. He was an influential figure during the state of the king Husayn al- Safawy. His theological center had a thousand students. He has great books other than Bihar Al- Anwar. He was born in the year 1037. He died in Asfahan in the year 1110 or 1111 A.H. people visit his grave there.
187 Apparently, he was al- Bajali al- Kufi. He was a great, reliable figure. He reported traditions on the authority of al- Sadiq and al- Kazim, peace be on them. He had a book. A group of the great figures has reported the book.
188 Bihar Al- Anwar. 1/215/19.
189 Al-Baqara: 269.
190 Bihar Al- Anwar: 1/215/25.
191 Ibid: 2/82/1.
192 I have collected many moral verses and explained them briefly in a book. I have called the book Al- Koran Ta'limahu wa Irshadahu.
193 He wanted to refer to this verse: "And We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly every thing."
194 Al- Kafi: 1/229/5.
195 Bihar Al-Anwar: 21/21