Chapter 14 : THE EARLY 'ABBASID CALIPHS
Riding on the disenchantment of the people due to the atrocities perpetrated by the Ummayad aristocracy, the ‘Abbasid manipulated the people’s desire for religious justice as propounded by Islam, to gain power for themselves. Deceiving the masses into believing that they were the ‘Ahl al-Bayt referred to by the Holy Qur’an, Abu’l-‘Abbas received pledges of allegiance from the Khurasanian chiefs in Kufa and named himself as-Saffah or the Bloodsheder, before proclaiming himself Caliph.
Once in power as-Saffah immediately began distancing himself from the revolutionary sectarians who had propelled him to office. He also killed the ‘Abbasid representative of Kufa, Abu Muslim Marzawi and massacred the Ummayad.
During this transitional period of consolidation of ‘Abbasid rule, the Imam of the time, Ja’far as-Sadiq, who maintained the quiescent policy of his father, was not an immediate threat to the ‘Abbasid and was left alone. Imam Ja’far continued to propagate the true teachings of Islam and taught his disciples Fiqh or Islamic Jurisprudence, Hadith or Traditions, Tafsir or Exegesis of the Qur’an as well as Mathematics and Chemistry and firmly established and explained the doctrine of Imamate as mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith.
In 136 AH / 753 CE, after just four years of as-Saffah’s rule, Al-Mansur took over the Caliphate. Another prominent Arab of the
Although Malik b. Anas was flogged and Abu Hanifa imprisoned until his death by the Caliph, Mansur did not attack the other traditionist because he thought that he could establish through them the foundation of a theocratic state with him as the vicegerent of God to whom obedience was Fard or an absolute religious duty. Through a policy of blandishment or coercion, Al-Mansur tried to gradually bring the reconciliation of most of the jurist of Medina and Kufa and the representative groups of the Jama’a, with the caliphate.
To save, strengthen and consolidate his Caliphate, Mansur also continued to justify the rights of his House to the office, on grounds that they were descendants of the Prophet’s uncle, ‘Abbas and since the ‘Abbasid also held to the view that the Imamate and Caliphate were inseparable, Mansur thus asserted himself to be the Imam-Caliph.
By the principle of Islam as upheld by Imam Ja’far however, the Imamate and Caliphate can exist, due to the circumstances, as
Despite the quiescent policy of the Imam, al-Mansur arrested him and had him brought to Samarra where Imam Ja’far was kept under supervision. Al-Mansur eventually allowed him to return to Medina but sent his governor of Madina to poison the Imam. On the 25th Shawwal 148 AH/ 765 CE Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq died and was buried in Janatu’l-Baqi in Madina. Some groups regard Imam Ja’far's eldest son, Isma’il as his successor. Ismail however died before Imam Ja'far. To the Shi'a Imamiah Muslims though, Imam Ja’far had designated his third son, Musa al-Kazim to become the Imam.