An Account of Imam Musa Kazim (as) Martydom

The reason for al-Rashid detaining Abu al-Hasan Musa, peace be on him, imprisoning him and killing him is (contained in what is mentioned in the following tradition).

[Ahmad ibn Ubayd Allah ibn 'Ammar reported on the authority of 'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nawfah on the authority of his father; and Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Sa'd (reported); and Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Yahya: on the authority of their teachers, who said:]'
The reason for the arrest of Musa ibn Ja’far, peace be on them, was that al- Rashid had put his son in the care of Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath and Yahya. ibn Khalid ibn Barmak was jealous of that. He said (to himself): “If the caliphate passes on to (the son), my dominion and that of my son will be destroyed.”
Therefore he deceived Ja’far ibn Muhammad - and the latter used to maintain the belief in the Imamate - so that he managed to gain access to him and establish friendly relations with him. His visits to his house were frequent and he became acquainted with his affairs, which he would report back to al-Rashid and he used to add to these reports that which would make (al-Rashid) feel hatred towards him.
One day (Yahya ibn Khalid) asked some of those he trusted: “Would you discover for me a member of the family of Abu Talib who is not in comfortable circumstances, and then he would let me know what I need?”
He was directed towards 'Ali ibn Ismail ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad. Yahya ibn Khalid took him some money. Musa, peace be on him, was friendly with `Ali ibn Isma'il ibn Ja'far ibn Muhammad and he used to bring him gifts and treat him well.

Yahya ibn Khalid sent to ('Ali ibn Ismail) requesting him to visit al-Rashid and drawing his attention to the kind treatment which he had given him. So he decided to do that. Musa, peace be on him, was concerned and summoned Ali.
“Where are you going, cousin?” he asked.
“Baghdad,” was the reply.
“Why are you doing that?” he enquired.
“I am in debt and I am poor,” he answered.
“I will pay your debt and act for you and carry out (what you need),” Musa, peace be on him, told him.
He did not pay attention to that and began to set about (preparations for his) departure. Abu al-Hasan, peace be on him, asked him to come and said to him: “Are you leaving?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I must do that.”
“Look, cousin,” he said to him, “fear God and do not give away any confidences against my children.”
He ordered him to be given three hundred dinars and four thousand dirhams. (When he stood up in front of him, Abu al-Hasan Musa, peace be on him, spoke to those who were present: “By God, he will strive against my blood and he will confide against my children.”
“May God make us your ransom,” they said to him, “did you know this from his state when you were giving him gifts and being generous to him?”
“Yes,” he said, “my father told me on the authority of his ancestors, on the authority of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, that when kin cut themselves away, then they should be brought back, for if they cut themselves away, God will cut them off. I wanted to bring him back after he had cut himself off from me for if he cuts me off, God will cut him off.)
'Ali ibn Ismail set out until he reached Yahya ibn Khalid. He gave him news of Musa ibn Ja’far, peace be on him, and (Yahya ibn Khalid) reported to al-Rashid and added additional material to it. Then he took him to al-Rashid. The latter asked him about his uncle and he gave information against him to (al- Rashid).
He told him that money was being brought to him from east and west and that he had bought an estate named al-Yasir for thirty thousand dinars. Its (former) owner had said when he had brought him the money: “I will not accept this kind of currency. I will only accept such-and-such a kind of currency.” Then he ordered that money be brought and then he gave thirty thousand dinars of the currency whose coinage he had asked for.
Al-Rashid listened to that from him and then ordered him to be given two hundred thousand dirhams, with which he sought to make a living in one of the areas. He chose one of the provinces of the east.
His messengers were sent to bring the money and he waited there for its arrival. One day he went into the toilet, when he was suffering from dysentery and as a result of it the whole of his stomach came out. He fell down. They tried to put it back but they could not. He was aware of his situation when the money was brought to him while he was in the pangs of death. He said: “What can I do with it? I am about to die.”
That year al-Rashid went on the pilgrimage. He began it at Medina and there he had Abu al-Hasan Musa, peace be on him, arrested. It is reported that when he came to Medina, Musa, peace be on him, received him with a group of the nobles. They had gone out to meet him and then Abu al-Hasan, peace be on him, had gone on to the mosque as was his custom.
Al-Rashid waited until night and then went to the tomb of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family. He said: “Apostle of God, I apologise to you for something I want to do. I want to imprison Musa ibn Ja'far because he is intending to bring division into your community and to cause the shedding of its blood.”
Then he ordered him to be taken from the mosque and brought before him. He had him put in chains and called for two awnings to be brought He had (Abu al-Hasan) put in one of them on a mule and he had the other awning put on another mule. The two mules left his house carrying the two awnings which were closed. With each one went cavalry. The cavalry divided and some of them went with one of the two awnings on the road to Basra and the other on the road to Kufa.
Al-Rashid only did that in order to confuse the people about what had happened to Abu al-Hasan, peace be on him. He ordered the men who were with the awning in which was Abu al-Hasan to hand him over to 'Isa ibn Ja’far ibn al-Mansur, who was governor of Basra at that time.
He was handed over to him and he kept him in detention with him for a year. (Then al-Rashid wrote to him demanding (Abu al-Hasan's) blood. 'Isa ibn Ja'far summoned some of his close associates and trusted colleagues and sought their advice about what al-Rashid had written to him. They advised him to hold back from doing that and to ask to be excused from it. 'Isa ibn Ja'far wrote to al -Rashid saying:
The affair of Musa ibn Ja’far and his stay under my detention has been going on for a long time. I have become well-acquainted with his situation. I have set spies on him throughout this period and I have not found him (do anything except) open his mouth in worship. I set someone to listen to what he said in his prayers. He has never prayed against you or against me. He has never mentioned us with malice. He does not pray for himself except for forgiveness and mercy. Either you send someone whom I can hand him over to or I will let him free. I am troubled at detaining him.
It is reported that one of the spies of 'Isa ibn Ja'far reported to him that frequently he used to hear him say in his prayers while he was detained:
O God, You know that I used to ask you to give me free time to worship You. O God, you have done that. To You be praise.
Al-Rashid directed that he should be handed over by 'Isa ibn Ja'far and taken to Baghdad. There he was handed over to al-Fadl ibn al-Rabi'. He remained with him a long time. Then al-Rashid wanted him to carry out some matter in (Abu al-Hasan's) affair and he refused. So he wrote to him to hand over to al- Fadl ibn Yahya. He received him from the former. (He put him in one of the rooms of one of his houses and set a watch over him. He. peace be on him. was occupied in worship; he used to keep the whole night alive with formal prayer, recitation of the Qur'an, personal prayer and effort. He would fast most days. His face never turned away from the mehrab (which showed the direction of prayer towards Mecca.)
Al-Fadl ibn Yahya made him comfortable and treated him with honour. That was communicated to al-Rashid while he was at al-Raqqa. He wrote to him denouncing him for making Musa, peace be on him, comfortable and ordering him to kill him. He held back from doing that and would not carry it out. At that al-Rashid became very angry. He summoned Masrur, the servant, and told him: “Go by the messenger-service (barid) immediately to Baghdad. Then go directly to Musa ibn Ja'far. If you find him in comfort and ease, then deliver this letter to al-Abbas ibn Muhammad and order him to submit to what is in it.”
He handed another letter to him for al-Sindi ibn Shahik, ordering him in it to obey al-'Abbas ibn Muhammad. Masrur set out and arrived at the house of al- Fadl ibn Yahya without anyone knowing what he wanted. Then he went to Musa, peace be on him, and found him as al-Rashid had been informed. He went directly to al-'Abbas ibn Muhammad and al-Sindi ibn Shahik. He delivered the two letters to them.
The people did not wait long before the messenger went running to al-Fadl ibn Yahya. He rode back with him. He went along perplexed and shocked until he reached al-'Abbas ibn Muhammad. Al-'Abbas called for whips and two small platforms (aqabayn) to be brought.
Then he ordered al-Fadl to be stripped. Al-Sindi flogged (al-Fadl) in front of (al-'Abbas). (Al-Fadl) left with his colour changed completely from what it had been when he entered. He began to greet the people to right and to left.
Masrur wrote to al-Rashid with the news and the latter ordered that Musa, peace be on him, should be handed over to al-Sindi ibn Shahik. Al-Rashid had a large assembly. He said: “People, al-Fadl ibn Yahya has disobeyed me and opposed (giving) the obedience due to me. You have seen me curse him so you curse him.”
The people cursed him from every side until the room and the building shook with the (sound of) cursing him.
The news reached Yahya ibn Khalid. He rode to al-Rashid and entered by another door from that which the people used so that he came to him from behind without him being aware. Then he said:
“Commander of the faithful, look at me.” Al-Rashid heard him with great fear, he said: “Al-Fadl is only a young man and I will take care of him for you in the way you would wish.”
(Al-Rashid's) face brightened and he went forward to the people saying: “Al- Fadl disobeyed me in something and I have protected myself against him. Now he has repented and returned to obeying me. Therefore now take him as a friend.”
“We are the friends of those you befriend and the enemies of those whom you are against,” they answered. “We have made him our friend.”
Yahya ibn Khalid departed on the messenger-service and reached Baghdad. There the people were disturbed and spreading disquieting rumours. He gave the impression that he had come to improve the administration of the Sawad and to look into the affairs of the tax-collectors. He occupied himself with some of those matters for a few days. Then he summoned al-Sindi ibn Shahik and gave him his instructions with regard to (Musa). (He carried out his instructions.
What he commissioned al-Sindi to do was to kill him, peace be on him, with poison which he put in the food he brought him. It is said that he put it in dates. (Musa) ate some of them and then felt the effect of the poison. He remained for three days in a fever from it and died on the third day.
When Musa died, al-Sindi ibn Shahik brought the jurists and notable men of Baghdad in (to see) him. Among them were al-Haytham ibn Ali and others. They saw that there was no mark of any wound on him, nor (any evidence) of strangulation. (Al-Sindi) made them give testimony that he had died normally. They testified to that. He was taken out and he was put on the bridge at Baghdad. Then an announcement was made: “This man Musa ibn Ja'far, peace be on him, has died. So come and look at him”
The people began to come and look into (Musa's) face while he was dead. For a group had claimed during the life of Musa that he was the awaited Imam (al- Muntazar) who would continue to undertake the Imamate for the rest of time (al-qa'im). They made his imprisonment the period of absence (al-ghayba) which had been reported concerning the last Imam (al-qai'im). Yatya ibn Khalid ordered it to be announced at his death: “This is Musa ibn Ja’far whom the Rafidites claim is the last Imam (al-qa'im) who will not die. So (come and) look at him.”
The people saw that he was dead. Then he was carried away and buried in the cemetery of Quraysh at the Tin Gate. This cemetery had been used for Banu Hashim and the nobles of the people for a long time.
It is reported that when he was about to die, he asked al-Sindi ibn Shahik to bring him his retainer (mawla) from Medina who was staying at the house of al-Abbas ibn Muhammad at the cane-market (mashra at al-qasb). The latter should wash and shroud his body. (Al-Sindi) did that.

Al-Sindi (later) reported:
I (i.e. al-Sindi) asked him to permit me to shroud him but he refused. He said: “I am a member of the House (of the Prophet). The giving of dowries for our women, the performing of pilgrimages on behalf of those of us who have not made the pilgrimage, and the shrouding of our dead can only be performed by one of our retainers (mawlas) who is pure. I already have my shroud and I want the washing and preparation (of my body) to be carried out by my retainer so-and-so.”

That was done for him.