Imam al-Sadiq Confrontation with the Tyrants of his Time


The Imam spent 21 years of his Imamate under the tyrannical rule of the second Abbasid caliph, Mansur. The struggle strategies the Imam recommended to his followers included adopting a non-violence policy, covert and overt struggle and defensive policies, showing the Shias the appropriate policy of not cooperating with the government, supporting the Shia uprisings while not helping those who wanted to align Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) with themselves.
(Wasaael al- Shia, Hurr Ameli, vol. 18, p. 99, Hadees no. 1)
Each above-mentioned strategy is beyond the constraints of this paper. However, part of the Imam’s struggle was based on not recognizing any illegitimate government. According to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), a legitimate government has its roots in Allah’s order, not in social contract, coercion, and the like.
For example, consider the following valid narration reported by Umar ibn Hanzhalah. It is considered accepted (maqbul) by some scholars due to the reliability of its chain of authorities; some others consider it a sound hadith. Umar ibn Hanzhalah related:
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about two Shias who had a dispute over debt and inheritance, and turned to the illegitimate ruler or judge for a verdict on it. He was asked if this (turning to them) was allowed.
The Imam (a.s.) replied,
“Whoever turns to the illegitimate ruler or judge whether rightfully or not and asks him for a verdict definitely asks taghut (false deity)

Muhammad Nasir Husayni Ala’i
for a verdict. Also, it is wrong that he should accept something by the verdict of Taghut even though it is his vested right because he enjoys it by the judgment of Taghut. Allah has ordered people to disbelieve in Taghut. He said in the Hoy Quran:
“They want to turn for judgment [in their disputes] to Taghut, though they were ordered to disbelieve in him,”
The Imam (a.s.) was asked again, “So what should
they do?”
He (a.s.) responded,
‘They should turn to somebody who narrates our hadees, takes our halal and haram into account and knows our injunctions. Whatever verdict he gives, they should be content with it because I have appointed him a judge. So if they belittle his verdict which is based on our injunctions, they definitely underestimate the verdict of Allah and deny us. Whoever denies us actually denies Allah and this is tantamount to associating somebody with Allah.’
(Nisa, 65)
In the above-mentioned narration, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.)’s saying is well- documented by his referring to the divine word.1
Considering the verses before and after it, that is,
1 The example of Signs on the Occasions of the Revelation of the Quranic verses, Dr. Muhammad Baqir Muhaqqiq, pp. 215-216; Nemuneh Quranic Commentary, vol. 3, pp. 429, 453, 445.

verses 58-68, the Qur’anic verse Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) mentioned enjoys a unique theme. If we consider all 10 verses together, it will be made completely clear that the rule of Taghut and turning to him are illegitimate and unlawful. In some parts of these verses,1 Allah even swears by Himself, and He sees those who ask somebody other than the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) for a verdict on their disputes as faithless. In some other part, He views the faith of those who accept the judgment of Taghut as imaginary. In a nutshell, Allah regards turning to taghut and submitting to him as false and wrong.
In this narration, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) extended this Qur’anic verse beyond the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)2 to the future. Thus, when Shia have dispute over an issue and there in no Infallible (a.s.), they should turn to a jurisprudent because three characteristics, namely narrating hadees, taking halal and haram into account and knowing the injunctions, are not consistent with qualities of anybody but jurisprudents. Therefore, as for the time when there is an Imam but he is inaccessible or when he is in occultation, the permanent ruling has been made clear.
The word ‘taghut’ from the root of ‘tughyan’, means rebelling against Allah and breaking divine laws, or any means of revolt and rebellion against Allah.
(Usul Kafi, Kulayni, vol. 1, p. 186, Hadees no. 3)
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) is also quoted as saying, “Whoever does not judge by right and truth, and people seek his judgment, is considered a taghut.”
(Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and the Four Islamic Sects, vol. 2, p. 21)
Another hadees by the sixth Imam reads as follows, “We are those obeying whom Allah has made obligatory, while you obey the one for whose ignorance people cannot provide any pretext before Allah.”
(Wasaaelush Shia, vol. 12, p. 129, Hadees no.6)
The sixth Imam also warned jurisprudents and hadith narrators against having any tie with the illegitimate government of that time, saying,
“Jurisprudents are the trusted agents of the Prophets. If you see them turning to the kings and intimately cooperating with oppressors, be suspicious of them and do not trust them.”
(Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 47, p. 184)
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) prevented his companions from associating and cooperating with the court of the caliphate. Once a companion asked him, “Sometimes Shias become poor and short of money, and they are offered to build houses and dig a canal for the Abbasids. What do you think of this job?”
The Imam (a.s.) replied,
“I do not like to tie a knot or to put a lid on water-skin for them even though they pay a high wage, because those who help the oppressors will be thrown into a tent of fire until Allah gives His verdicts on all servants.”
(Nemuneh Quranic Commentary, vol. 3, p. 456)
Once Abu-Ja‘far Mansur wrote to the sixth Imam (a.s.), “Why don’t you come to us like others?”
In response, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) wrote,
“We do not have anything worldly to be fearful of you for it. You do not have anything otherworldly either so that we pin our hopes on you for it. You do not enjoy any blessing so that we congratulate you on it, nor do you find yourself in an affliction and catastrophe so that we offer you condolence. So why do we come to you?”
Mansur wrote in response, “Come and give us advice.”
The Imam (a.s.) responded,
“The people fond of this world do not give you advice, and the Godly people who care about the hereafter do not come to you either.”
(Irshad, Shaikh Mufid, vol. 2, p. 170)

⦁ Nemuneh Quranic Commentary, vol. 3, p. 443.
⦁ ibid.