The motives of the assassination of Imam Mohammad al-Baqer (peace be upon him)

Under the reign of Hisham, Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him) was summoned to Damascus. The tyrant Hisham had been plotting to curtail the positive influence and prestige of Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him). Hisham knew that his corrupt supporters could not challenge the Imam’s knowledge or piety, so he planned another type of challenge. Hisham attempted to surprise Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him) with an archery match. The match would surely portray the elderly Imam in a humiliating position – or so the tyrant thought.

“O Muhammad, hit the target, along with the chiefs of your people,” ordered Hisham. “I am too old for archery, perhaps you can excuse me,” replied Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him). Hisham insisted and would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him) was handed a bow and arrow. He then aimed at the target…The Imam hit the target on the bullseye. He took another arrow, released it…and split the arrow! As the Imam continued to amaze the spectators, Hisham was extremely frustrated – this was happening in Hisham’s very own court.

After exchanging some words, Imam al-Baqer (peace be upon him) responded to Hisham’s questions about the ability of the Imams to perform such matters, saying, “Indeed, we inherit the perfection and completion which God descended upon His Prophet, in His words (from the Holy Qur’an), {Today I have perfected your religion for you, I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.} And the earth is never empty of those who perfect these matters – which others fall short of (perfecting).

After the attempts of Hisham to undermine the Imam’s position utterly failed, Hisham was infuriated. He continued to receive news about the people’s high regard for Imam al-Baqer’s knowledge and virtue… Hisham thus resorted to assassination and had the Holy Imam poisoned. He then planned to kill the Imam (peace be upon him) by poisoning him. Hisham prepared a special saddle and skillfully filled it with poison. The saddle was sent to the governor of Medina with instructions that the Imam (peace be upon him) should be made to sit on this saddle fixed on a horse. The effect of the poison was immediate. The Imam (peace be upon him) became very sick and left this world three days after that he was poisoned. He became martyr on 7th Dhu Al-Hijjah 114 AH. At that time he was 57 years. He was buried in the grave-yard of Baqi' in Medina.
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