Ismail ibn Ja’far, part 1



Some websites have edited their old articles to add information from this article onto it. However, the research presented in my article is fully original

An article reconstructing aspects of the life of Ismail, son of Imam al-Sadiq.

This is part 1 of my series on Ismail, the future parts will discuss more controversial aspects inshallah.


  • Ismail ibn Ja’far was alive in the time of his grandfather, Imam al-Baqir (a), and taught the affirmations of faith in Shi’ism by the Imam who compassionately referred to Ismail as “my son”

(Sayyid Ibn Tawus’ al-Aman min Akhtar al-Asfar, p 52)

Ismail ibn Ja’far said to me: Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir, peace be upon them both, said to me: “O my son, he who had awakened in the morning and had an aqeeq ring, stamped with it in his right hand. Then, before he saw anyone, he turned his lobe to the sole of his palm and recited: We sent it down on the Night of Decree to the end of it.” 

Then he said, “I believe in God alone, without partner, and I disbelieve in al-Jibt and al-Taghut, and I believe in the secrets of Al Muhammad, and what they publicized, their outward and inward, the first and the last of them”.

God will protect him on that day from the evil ..”

قال لي إسماعيل بن جعفر قال قال لي أبو جعفر محمد بن علي الباقر عليهما السلام يا بني من أصبح وعليه خاتم فصه من عقيق متختما بهفي يده اليمنى فأصبح من قبل أن يرى أحدا فقلب فصه إلى باطن كفه وقرأ انا أنزلناه في ليلة القدر إلى آخرها ثم قال آمنت بالله وحده لاشريك له وكفرت بالجبت والطاغوت وآمنت بسر آل محمد وعلانيتهم وظاهرهم وباطنهم وأولهم وآخرهم وقاه الله في ذلك اليوم من شر ما ينزلمن السماء

  • Ismail was loved by his father Imam al-Sadiq (a) more than his brother Imam al-Kadhim (a):

(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 315) 

[Rasul Allah tells Imam al-Kadhim in a ru’yah (vision)]:

If choice of Imam was based on love, then Ismail was more beloved to your father than you [O Musa ibn Jafar].But that (your choice for Imamate) was from Allah.” 

ولو كانت الإمامة بالمحبة لكان إسماعيل أحب إلى أبيك منك ولكن ذلك من الله عز وجل.


A) In relation to Imam al-Sadiq

  • Ismail, the right-hand of his father

Reaching adulthood and being Imam al-Sadiq’s eldest son, Ismail became increasingly deputized by his father and accompanied him in his trips (such as one to Hira, Iraq)

It would seem that at this time, Ismail became involved in anti-government activities - seemingly with Imam al-Sadiq’s approval, which resulted in two attempts made against his life by the Caliph al-Mansur.

  • Imam al-Sadiq deputizes Ismail to perform qisas (execution) on the killer of Imam al-Sadiq’s representative al-Mu’ala ibn Khunays:

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 675)

When the death of al-Mu’ala was reported to Aba Abdilah [al-Sadiq] he went entered upon Dawud ibn Ali (the governor) with Ismail his son (i.e, al-Sadiq’s son) behind him).”

Upon knowing the details of the killer of his representative, the Imam told his son Ismail:

O, Ismail. Take care of the matter (qisas):

Ismail left, taking his sword and killed him (the killer of al-Mu’ala) in his majlis.”

قالفلما بلغ ذلك أبا عبد الله عليه السلام خرج يجر ذيله حتى دخل على داود بن علي، وإسماعيل ابنه خلفه

قال يا إسماعيل شأنك به قالفخرج إسماعيل والسيف معه حتى قتله في مجلسه.

  • Trip to al-Hira, Iraq with Imam al-Sadiq

(Kamil al-Ziyarat, page 83)

Abu Abdillah [al-Sadiq] said - while he was in al-Hira -: Do you not want what I promised you? 

I said: “Yes - meaning going to the tomb of the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him).”

So he (the Imam) rode, and Ismail his son rode with him and I rode with them, until he passed Al-Thuwayya, and he was between Al-Hira and Najaf at the Dhakwat Beidh, and Ismail came down and I went down with them, so he prayed and prayed Ismail and I prayed.

And he (the Imam) said to Ismail: Get up and greet your grandfather Al-Husayn ibn Ali (peace be upon them).

And I said: May I be your ransom - is Al-Husayn not peace be upon him) in Karbala? He said: Yes, but when they carried his head to Sham, a slave of ours stole it and buried it next to the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him).”

قال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام) - وهو بالحيرة -: اما تريد ما وعدتك، قال:

قلتبلي - يعني الذهاب إلى قبر أمير المؤمنين (عليه السلام) -، قالفركب وركب إسماعيل ابنه معه وركبت معهم، حتى إذا جاز الثوية (1)،وكان بين الحيرة والنجف عند ذكوات بيض نزل ونزل إسماعيل ونزلت معهم، فصلى وصلى إسماعيل وصليت، فقال لإسماعيلقم فسلم علىجدك الحسين بن علي (عليهما السلام)، فقلتجعلت فداك أليس الحسين (عليه السلامبكربلا، فقالنعم ولكن لما حمل رأسه إلى الشامسرقه مولى لنا فدفنه بجنب أمير المؤمنين (عليه السلام)

  • Conflict with Caliph al-Mansur & assassination attempts

In the aforementioned trip to al-Hira with Imam al-Sadiq, Ismail was arrested along with Imam al-Sadiq’s companion Bassam al-Sayrafi.

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 514)

I was with Ja’far ibn Muhammad, peace be upon him, at the door of the Caliph Abu Ja’far (al-Mansur) in Al-Hira, when Bassam and Ismail ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad were brought.

So Bassam was taken out killed, and Ismail ibn Jaafar ibn Muhammad was taken out (alive).

So Ja’far raised his head to him (Caliph al-Mansur) and he said: Did you really do it, you fasiq (wicked man)? Await your fate in hellfire.

كنت مع جعفر بن محمد عليه السلام بباب الخليفة أبي جعفر بالحيرة، حين أتي ببسام وإسماعيل بن جعفر بن محمد، فادخلا على أبي جعفر قال: فأخرج بسام مقتولا، وأخرج إسماعيل بن جعفر بن محمد قال، فرفع جعفر رأسه إليه، قال: أفعلتها يا فاسق أبشر بالنار

It seems that al-Mansur’s intention was to kill Ismail.

This is made clear by the following narration cited by Shaykh al-Mufid in Kitab al-Fusul:

Abi Abdilah [al-Sadiq] said:

Allah (swt) decreed death upon my son Ismail twice - so I asked Him (Allah) to save him (Ismail) from this fate (and He accepted).

Indeed, Allah did not perform badaa’ on anything, like He did with Ismail

عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: " إن الله عز وجل كتب القتل على ابني إسماعيل مرتين، فسألته فيه فرقا (1)، فما بدا له في شئ كمابدا له في إسماعيل 

Considering that Bassam al-Sayrafi and Ismail were brought to Caliph al-Mansur, and one was killed while the other (Ismail) was not.

It is likely Ismail survived his fate in this scenario due to Allah saving him after imam al-Sadiq’s dua. And that another assassination attempt was made on Ismail, which Imam al-Saduq’s dua saved him from.

Why did al-Mansur attempt to kill Ismail? Is it because Ismail was involved in Imam al-Sadiq’s secret movement and subsequent anti-government activities?  Is it because Ismail was reputed to be the Imam’s heir? 

In my 2nd part of the series on Ismail - I will discuss aspects such as badaa, Imamate claims regarding Ismail, claims he drank alcohol, etc.

Wa Allahu A’lam