The Imam (AS) was born in a period replete with political developments, conflicts, and the tensions between Amin and Ma’mun, the two sons of Harun AL-Rashid of the Abbasid caliphate.
Those political events and conflicts going on between the two brothers of Abbasid lineage, never ended without reflecting their effects on the life of Imam Reza (AS) and attracted the attention of the Muslims including religious scholars, jurisprudents, governors, and common people. Thus, the political view of the caliph, Ma’mun, was directed towards him and, therefore, summoned him to the capital city of Merv in the year 200 AH appointing him as heir so that the caliphate would be transferred to him after Ma’mun’s death.
Imam Reza (AS) was forced to leave Medina and leave for Merv to accept Ma’mun’s invitation after much refusal. Before moving to Merv, he took with him, his son, Imam Muhammad al-Javad (AS), then, he set out from Medina towards Mecca in order to pay a visit to Kaaba and also to say farewell to the House of God.
Imam Reza (AS) performed the hajj pilgrimage with his son, Imam Javad (AS) who was only four years at that time.
Indeed, the young Imam expressed his adherence and love for his father by his insistence to stay under the care of the holy embrace. It was difficult for him to return home (Medina) alone and depart from his father, who wrote, in his farewell letter to the Sacred House, that he would not return.
The moments of farewell ended and the hour of departure approached; the young Imam Javad (AS) returned home, bearing the yearnings of love, the adherence of a son for his father, while his father moved towards the city of Merv.
Arriving in the city of Merv, the then capital city of Abbasid caliphate, Imam Reza (AS) rested there while his heart still inclined towards his son. From there, he (AS) began to correspond, address, advise, guide and take care of his son. Historians state the fact that Imam Reza (AS) used to address his son Imam Javad (AS), with honor and glory in his correspondences and call him by his surname "Abu Jafar".
Imam Javad (AS) played his role and shared in enriching the scholarly school during the period of his leadership, which lasted nearly 17 years, and also safeguarded its patrimony. That period (of the Holy Imam) was distinguished by two things: Dependence on text and narration of the Messenger (pbuh) of Allah and also on an accurate understanding and deduction of both the Book (the Quran) and Prophet’s traditions (Sunnah).
Imam Javad (AS), like his forefathers, used different means to carry out his scientific procedures, among them are the means of teaching and instructing those students and scholars and urging them to write and record and also sustain what comes from the Holy Imams of Ahl ul-Bayt (AS) or by bidding them to the art of writing, publishing, and classifying.
Sheikh Tusi in his book "Rijal", mentioned the number of the close companions of Imam Javad (AS) and his narrators, who studied and were educated under his care to be about one hundred, including two women.
Indeed, all these religious scholars quoted Imam Javad (AS) and wrote many books in different fields of Islamic sciences and knowledge. They enriched Islamic schools with true, original researches and thoughts.
This fact is proved in the books of "Rijal" which mentioned the close companions of Imam Javad (AS) and, in which, they explained their conditions, their publications and writings.
Second in his scientific approach mention may be made of the means of appointing deputies and commanding them to spread out in different parts of the Muslim lands in order to be true callers to Islam, follow it and convey its divine laws.
Books of history have recorded the correspondences of Imam Javad (AS) with his deputies who were spread in different parts of the Muslim world in order to convey Islamic faith and what they learned from the jurisprudence of the Household of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and their knowledge. Thirdly, the means of scholarly debates and discussions are also part of his scientific approach. The books of traditions and narrations, have recorded for us, richly, discussions and debates in different kinds of sciences and knowledge and defending Islam and fixing its pillars in the fields of monotheism, jurisprudence, interpretation, and narrations and so on.
These discussions contained different researches. Among them were: Defending Islam and countering perverse ideas and deviated philosophies and ideologies which existed among the Muslims. And, also, correcting the ideological deviations which existed among certain Muslims, such as: Exaggeration and incarnations and others or discussions to explain Islam and clarify its diverse fields.
When Ma’mun died, Mu’tasam ascended the throne. Like his Abbasid ancestors, he was worried about the leadership of Ahl ul-Bayt (AS) and their political and scholarly status. Therefore, he exiled Imam Javad (AS) from Medina to Baghdad in the year 219 AH, for fear of his popularity and extending his influence. He did this, in order to draw the Holy Imam near the center of power and scrutiny and isolate him from practicing his popular, political and scholarly role. Imam Javad (AS) was exiled to Baghdad from Medina and stayed there until in the year 220 AH he was martyred by poisoning at the instigation of the ruling Abbasid caliph Mu’tasam.
His short life was full of historical, ideological and scholarly struggle and achievements.