The versatile genius of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq in all branches of knowledge was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world, which attracted students from far-off places towards him till the strength of his disciples had reached four thousand. The scholars and experts in Divine Law have quoted many ahadith (traditions) from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq. His disciples compiled hundred of books on various branches of science and arts. Other than fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), hadith (tradition), tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Qur’an), etc., the Holy Imam also imparted mathematics and chemistry to some of his disciples. Jabir ibn Hayyan at-Tusi, a famous scholar of mathematics, was one of the Imam’s disciples who benefited from the Imam’s knowledge and guidance and was able to write four hundred books on different subjects. It is an undeniable historical truth that all the great scholars of Islam were indebted for their learning to the very presence of the Ahlu’l-bayt who were the fountain of knowledge and learning for all.
al- Allamah ash-Shibli writes in his book Siratu’n-Nu`man: “Abu Hanifah remained for a considerable period in the attendance of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, acquiring from him a great deal of precious research on fiqh and hadith. Both the sects -Shi’ah and Sunni – believe that the source of Abu Hanifah’s knowledge was mostly derived from his association with Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq.”
The Imam devoted his whole life to the cause of religious preaching and propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet and never strove for power. Because of his great knowledge and fine teaching, the people gathered around him, giving devotion and respect that was his due. This excited the envy of the Abbasid ruler al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi, who fearing the popularity of the Imam, decided to do away with him. Read more
Muslims ought to give wide publicity to the works of Imam Jaafar Sadiq (as), not so much for trumpeting our past but in order to excite our youth into becoming top scientists and thinkers. Our love and respect for the Prophet and the Imams, peace be on them, should surely put us at an advantage when tapping into the treasures of their knowledge.
Some of Imam Sadiq’s theories have been proven to be true more than a thousand years later, confirmed by science in the last few hundred years once science developed the needed tools like the telescope. Is it not possible that there are many others waiting to be confirmed as science develops further capabilities. We urge all to read the excerpts from a French thesis and from the Tradition of Mufaddal (see links below) and to contribute other materials they may be aware of.
Pearls of Wisdom from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (`a), narrated by his companion Mufaddal ibn `Umar . As recorded by ‘Allamah Majlisi (d. 1110 AH) in Bihar al-‘Anwar, volume 3, page 57, chapter (bab) 4, tradition (riwayah) no. 29. Read more
Excerpts from the book “The Great Muslim Scientist and Philosopher”, an English translation by Kaukab Ali Mirza of the famous Persian book “Maghze Mutafakkir Jehan Shia”, which is a translation from a French thesis published by The Research Committee of Strasbourg, France, about the contribution made by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (A.S.) to science, philosophy, literature and irfan (gnosticism). Read more
Contribution in Physics
One of the laws worked out by him is about opacity and transparency of materials. He said that materials which are solid and absorbent are opaque, and materials which are solid and repellent are more or less transparent. When he was asked about the thing which is absorbed by an opaque material, he replied “Heat”….today this theory is one of the Laws of Physics….
Composition of the Human Body
The Imam said that while all human beings were made from the earth, which was a known fact, he also said that whatever is in the earth is also in the human body, but all elements are not in the same proportion. Four elements are in very large quantity, eight elements in small quantities and eight elements in minute quantities. This theory was proved to be correct as late as the 18th century with the dissection of the human body. Results of these analysis show that the ratio of the major elements in human bodies is the same throughout the world as Imam Jafar as-Sadiq had said. The four elements which are in large quantities in the human body are: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen. The eight elements which are in small quantities are : Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Iron, and Chlorine. The other eight elements which are in very minute quantities are : Molybdenum, Cobalt, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Fluorine, Silicon and Iodine.
Discovery of Hydrogen
According to the Western world, the greatest miracle of the Imam was his revelation of the presence of oxygen in the air… Imam Baqar had said about the presence of hydrogen in water and that water can be turned into fire, as hydrogen was a highly inflammable gas. The discovery of these two gases depended upon their separation from air and water….. Pure oxygen is available in the air, but pure hydrogen is not available anywhere. Hence hydrogen could not be obtained till sufficient power was developed and water was hydrolysed. The world amazes as to how both our Imams could reveal the presence of hydrogen in air which was a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas and does not exist freely in nature. They could not have identified this gas and found out its properties without separating it from water through the process of hydrolysis, which was impossible without a strong current of electricity….The first person who was able to separate hydrogen from water in modern times was the English scientist Henry Cavendish, who died in 1810. …He was also able to confirm that hydrogen gas was highly inflammable as a result of a freakish accident that he had while doing his experiments, which resulted in his house catching fire. It was eventually Lavoisier, the French chemist, who gave the name of hydrogen to this gas…
Theory of Light
Another great contribution to science of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq was his Theory of Light. He said that light reflected by different objects comes to us, but only a part of the rays enter our eyes. That is the reason why we do not see distant objects clearly.If all the rays of light which come from them entered our eyes, objects would appear near to us. If we make a device through which all the rays of light coming from the camels grazing at a distance of 3000 zirah (one zirah is 40 inches) entered our eyes we would see them grazing at a distance of only 60 zirah ie. All these objects would look 50 times nearer to us.It was this theory, which helped Lippershey of Flanders to make his first binoculars in 1608. Galileo made use of this and invented his telescope in 1610….. When Galileo was asked why his telescope made heavenly bodies look so near that they could see the mountains of the moon, he repeated the words of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq and said : “This telescope collects all the rays of light coming from the heavenly bodies. When all the rays of light coming from the heavenly bodies are concentrated, the objects which are at a distance of 3,000 feet away appear to us as if they were at a distance of only 60 feet.”
Before the time of the Imam, it was believed that light from our eyes falls upon different objects so that they could be seen. He was the first to have said that ” the rays of the light from different objects come to our eyes and enable us to see them. The rays of light from our eyes do not go out and fall on other objects, otherwise we would be able to see them in the darkness also.” The Imam also put forward a very interesting theory about the speed of light. He has said that light is a kind of motion which is very fast. This is in harmony to the modern theory of light.The Imam had once said during the course of his lectures that a powerful beam of light could move heavy objects. The light which Moses saw at Mount Sinai was of that kind. It could have moved the mountain if God had so desired. It can be said that by making this statement, he laid the foundation of the theory of the laser.
Theory of Matter and Anti-Matter
… One of the unique theories of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq is that everything except Allah has its opposites, but this does not result in a conflict, otherwise the whole universe would be destroyed. This is the theory of matter and anti-matter. The difference between matter and anti-matter is that in matter the electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged. But in anti-matter, the electrons are positively charged and protons are negatively charged. Scientists have concluded that if one kilogram of matter collides with one kilogram of anti-matter, so much energy will be released that the whole world will be destroyed…..
Theory of the Light of the Stars
…..< Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has said that among the clusters of stars which we see at night, some are so bright that our sun, in comparison, is quite insignificant.Because of man’s limited knowledge, many people during the Imam’s time and centuries after him, considered this theory to be illogical, irrational and unacceptable. They could not believe that these small specks of light which are called stars, can have more light than the light of our big bright sun. About twelve and a half centuries later, it was proved that what he said was quite correct. It has been discovered that there are stars in the universe, which are billions of times brighter than the sun. They are called quasars. The light of quasars is about quadrillion times (ten thousand billion times) the light of our sun. Some of them are at a distance of about 9000 million light years from the earth. The first such quasar was discovered in 1927.Another important theory was that there are many worlds other than our own, that we cannot even count them. Their number is only in the knowledge of Allah (swt). Just as we have living beings on this planet, there are living beings on many other planets in the universe where conditions are suitable…..
Pollution of Environment
…… Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has said that we should not pollute our environment otherwise it would become impossible to live on this planet. Definitely he had our times in mind when he made those remarks. Pollution was not a problem in his time. There was not a single factory in existence and metals were smelted in small furnaces by burning wood. This was not a theory but a scientific fact which cannot be refuted. It is estimated that if air pollution increases at the present rate for 50 years more, 50% of plankton will die and the quantity of oxygen in the air would be reduced by the same proportion….
Theory of the Four Elements
He remarked : “I wonder how a man like Aristotle could say that in the world there are only four elements – Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. The Earth is not an element. It contains many elements. Each metal, which is in the earth, is an element…. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq proved that Water, Air, and Fire were also not elements, but a mixture of elements. This he said 1,100 years before the European scientists discovered that air was not an element and had separated its constituents. …..
He said that there are many elements in the air and that all of them are essential for breathing….It was only in the 18th century, which was considered the golden age of science, after Lavoisier separated oxygen from the air and demonstrated the important role it plays in breathing and combustion that they accepted that it is not an element. However, even then they were of the opinion that other elements do not play a part in breathing. In the middle of the 19th century scientists changed their views about the part played by other elements in breathing. By that time it was also proved that although oxygen purifies blood, it also burns combustible materials, which come in contact with it. If living beings breath pure oxygen for a long time, their breathing organs would be oxidised. Oxygen does not damage them because it is mixed with other gases. Therefore, they concluded that the presence of other gases which are in very minute quantities in the air is also essential for breathing.
Moreover, oxygen being the heaviest of all other gases in the air would have settled at the bottom and covered the surface of the earth up to a certain depth. As a result, breathing organs of all animals would have been burnt and animal life would have become extinct. Moreover it would have cut off the supply of carbon dioxide, which plants need so badly, and made it impossible for them to grow on the surface of the earth. Presence of other gases in the air does not let oxygen settle down to the bottom and destroy animal and plant life.At last, after more than 1000 years, the theory of Jafar as-Sadiq (a) that presence of all gases in the air is essential for breathing was proved to be correct. He was the first person to discover that oxygen produces acidity.
Origin of the Universe
…. When modern scientists read this theory they confirm that it totally agrees with the modern theory, which has not yet become a law of physics. However, it has the unique distinction that it was enunciated 12 centuries ago. The theory reads as follows ” The universe was born out of a tiny particle, which had two opposite poles. That particle produced an atom. In this way matter came into being. Then the matter diversified. This diversification was caused by the density or rarity of the atoms.” The most significant point in this theory is the description of two opposite poles. The importance of this point was realised when the presence of two opposite poles was proved by modern science. Today it is an undisputed fact in atomic science and electronics.
Another of his interesting theory was that the universe is not always in one and the same condition. In one periods it expands and in another it contracts….This phenomenon was considered for centuries as inconceivable and the theory remained quite incomprehensible to the leading astronomers. After the 18th century more and more powerful telescopes were built and astronomers could see beyond our solar system. It was in 1960 that it was observed and confirmed by astronomers that distances between our galaxy and the neighbouring galaxies are increasing. These observations have provided sufficient proof that the universe is in a state of expansion. We do not know when this expansion started. The discovery of black holes has proved his other statement that the universe sometimes contracts was also proved true. Hence the Imam’s theory was proved to be correct.
The Imam also stated that everything in the universe including inanimate objects, is always in motion although we may not see it….This theory, which was unacceptable in his time, is a scientific fact today.
Good Advice for Mothers
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has advised mothers that they should put their new born babies to sleep on their left side. For centuries this advice was considered by many as meaningless and absurd since no one could see any use in putting babies to sleep on the left side of mothers….In 1865, Ezra Cornell founded the Cornell University in NYK. In this university he set up under the department of medicine, an institute for the Research on New Born and Suckling Babies. A research scholar of this institute who travelled to different parts of the world, observed that mothers in every country carried their babies in the left arms. Doctors in this institute observed that babies who are put to sleep on the left side of their mothers sleep more soundly and peacefully but those who are put on the right side, wake up every now and then and cry….After the invention of holography, holographic pictures of unborn babies were taken which revealed that the mother’s heartbeat reached the ears of the baby in the womb. Experiments were made of different mammals to find out the reaction of the foetus. All experiments showed that whenever the heart of the mother stopped beating, the foetus became restless and agitated, because it feeds on the blood, which comes to it with each and every heartbeat…. Heartbeats mean to them a constant supply of food…They depend so much upon the heartbeat that even after they are born, they become restless, if they do not hear it.