Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the embodiment of virtue and generosity
Generosity was synonymous with his name and no beggar ever returned from his door empty-handed. Even after his death, he continued to be obliging and was generous to his devotees who came to his holy tomb with prayers and behest which were invariably granted by God. Thus, one of his additional titles is also ``Bab ul-Hawaij'' (the door to fulfilling needs). He was the son of Imam Ja`far Sadiq, the sixth Imam. The name of his mother was Hamideh, the daughter of a noble family.
Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) lived under the most crucial times in the regimes of the despotic Abbasid kings who were marked for their tyrannical and cruel administration. He witnessed the reigns of al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi, al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. Al-Mansur and Harun al-Rashid were the despotic kings who put a multitude of innocent descendants of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to the sword. Thousands of these martyrs were buried alive inside walls or put into horrible dark prisons during their lifetime. These depraved caliphs knew no pity or justice and they killed and tortured for the pleasure they derived from human sufferings. The Holy Imam was saved from the tyranny of al-Mansur because the king, being occupied with his project of constructing the new city of Baghdad, could not get time to turn towards victimizing the Imam. By 157 AH the city of Baghdad was built. This was soon followed by the death of its founder a year later. After al-Mansur, his son al-Mahdi ascended the throne. For a few years, he remained indifferent towards the Imam. When in 164 AH he came to Medina and learnt about great reputation of the Imam, he could not resist his jealousy and the spark of his ancestral malice against the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) was rekindled. He somehow managed to take the Imam along with him to Baghdad and got him imprisoned there. But after a year he realized his mistake and released the Imam from jail. Al-Mahdi was succeeded by al-Hadi who lived only for a year. Now, in 170 AH, the most cruel and tyrannical king Harun al-Rashid appeared at the head of the Abbasid Empire. It was during his reign that the Holy Imam passed the greater part of his life in a miserable prison till he was poisoned. Harun had the Imam arrested in the Prophet's mosque whilst he was praying. He was handcuffed and shackled and sent to Basra. The Imam was put into prison under the custody of Isa bin Ja'far. After a year Isa wrote to Harun saying he could no longer imprison Imam as he could find only piety and righteousness in him.
Harun had the Imam moved to Baghdad under the custody of Fadhl bin Rabi who too became a follower of Imam. Harun finally moved Imam in the care of Sindi bin Shahak (a very cruel man). Imam remained in prison for the last 19 years of his life which gave the Shia population a little relief as the rulers concentrated on Imam. It enabled the Shias to disperse from Arabia to Iran, India etc. thus spreading Islam and it was one of the factors towards the popularity of the 8th Imam.
As regards his morality and ethical excellence, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami remarks: “The patience and forbearance of Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) was such that he was given the title of al-Kazim (one who swallows down his anger). He was the embodiment of virtue and generosity. He devoted his nights to the prayers of God and his days to fasting. He always forgave those who did wrong to him. His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronize and help the poor and the destitute of Medina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessities of sustenance secretly. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam's lifetime as to who their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his death.”