Political Corruption

These issues reflect the condition of those days; in addition to "intellectual" and "moral" decadence, "political" corruption was another characteristic of this period. Most of the luminaries were deeply involved in fulfilling their own material desires, which was possible through establishing links with the government officials. A great personality like Muhammad ibn Shahab Zuhri who was earlier a disciple of Imam Sajjad (as), had so deteriorated that Imam Sajjad (as) writes a letter to him, reminding him of his attachment to undesirable things.

There were a number of people like him. The late Allameh Majlesi quotes Jabir as saying: Imam Sajjad (as) said: "WE do not know how to behave these people: when we narrate what we have heard from the Prophet (S) for the people, they laugh; if we decide to keep silent, we cannot." Then quoting Ibn Abi al-Hadid, the late Majlesi says that one day Imam Sajjad narrated a tradition for a group of people. One of them ridiculed and did not accept it.

He then explains the accounts of Sa’id ibn Musayib and Zuhri, calling them among the depraved figures -- of course, I do not agree that Sa’id ibn Musayib was depraved; there are certain reasons indicating that he was among the disciples of the Imam. However, his idea about Zuhri and many others is correct.

Then he says: Ibn Abi al-Hadid has named a number of the luminaries and officials of the time who had turned their back to the Ahl-ul-Bayt (the Progeny of the Prophet Muhammad (S)). He also quotes a tradition attributed to Imam Sajjad (as), saying: "There are not even twenty people in Mecca and Medina who are our cordial friends."

This was the situation when Imam Sajjad decided to undertake his great task. Describing this period later, Imam Sadiq (as) said: After the episode of Karbala only three persons remained [faithful]; Abu Khalid al-Kabuli, Yahya ibn Umm al-Tawil, Jubair ibn Mut’am.

However, Allama Shushtari believes that the third one was not Jubair ibn Mut’am, rather he was Hakim ibn Jubair ibn Mut’am. Some historians have mentioned Muhammad ibn Jubair Ibn Mut’am as the third person. However, there are some traditions in Bihar-ul-Anwar mentioning names of four to five persons. Imam Sajjad (as) started his task in such a bare desert.