The Salient Features of Imam's Character
Imam Mohammad Baqir always put on new and clean dress. He perfumed himself and walked very comfortably, slowly and steadily. One day, some narrow minded ones criticized him saying your grandfather Ali (A.S.) used old and cheap clothes so why do you put on clean and new ones?
He replied, since in those days all the people were poor Ali (A.S.) ought to have used old clothes and simple food. But today the people are leading their lives in comfort and luxury; hence, I should not use those clothes. The act of my grandfather in those days, was according to justice and leadership and my action and way of life today is also in accordance to the (norms of) Justice and leadership.
About his manners and training, it is written that he never laughed loudly and always spoke in a calm and respectable way. He never became furious and enraged and with whosoever he met he would give him respect and shook hands with him and said, "this act (shaking hands) brings the hearts close to each other and puts an end to the enmities and hostilities."
Although Imam (A.S.) wept much during his confidential conversation with God, but he did not weep loudly. Whenever he spoke he would start and end his talk with the name of God.
He had gardens and fields in abundance and large number but he himself visited them like a farmer and shared the work with the cultivator and workers, took food with them, and talked to them. He was a master who had close working relations with his servants.
Whatever agricultural products he received from his gardens and fields he would give it in the name of God. He fulfilled all the needs and requirements of his workers to such extent that he was one of the most generous men of his time in Hijaz.
Sheikh Mufid writes about Imam (A.S.), "he had access to and acquaintance with all the branches of knowledge and intuitive learning. He led his life busy in the obedience of God. He was strong and balanced at the station of piety and rigidly honored his word, promises, and commitments. His piety, open heartedness, spiritual purity, and humanly conducts made all and sundry love him. And he trained them in Islamic ethics.
Ibn-e-Hajar, who is a prejudiced Sunni scholar, writes about the character of Imam (A.S.) "Imam Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) had a clean, pure heart. His speech and talk was harmonies and in accordance with his practice. His conduct and dealing with people was humanly and Islamic. He was a great Gnostic and unmatched worshiper. He was so very ornamented and decorated with human qualities that I do not have the means and capacity to praise him."
One of his slaves said about him, "Once I accompanied his graciousness to Mecca. When Imam (A.S.) sighted the house of God (Kaabah). He wept so much that he got feeble and nerveless I said to him, "Why do you weep so much?"
He said, "Perhaps God may become kind to me because of these tears and tomorrow (on justice day) He may bless me with salvation.
Then Imam stood for his prayers and lengthened the prostration. When he picked his head up, the place of prostration was wet with tears from his eyes."
Mohammad bin Mankadir, who was a silly pious looking person, says, "Because of this that Imam (A.S.) worked too hard I said to myself he is after the material and I must stop and admonish him. So one day I saw him exhausted and perspiring due to ample hard work in the hot scorching weather. I went near him, saluted him, and said, "Oh son of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), why are you so much after the wealth of the world? If death comes to you in such a condition what would you do then?"
He said, "This is the best of my times because I work in it so that I do not become needy towards you people and others, and do not eat from the earnings of others. If God gives me death in this condition I will be much happy since I am busy in his prayers and obedience."
I got informed about this point and knew that I was wrong. I apologized him, saying, "I wanted to admonish and advise you, but you admonished and informed me."
Kulayni writes, "A group of the friends of Imam (A.S.) stated that one day we went to his house to offer him compliments. After salutation and enquiring after his health we found the Imam (A.S.) very sad, pensive and afflicted. When we asked about the reason of that sorrow. We came to know that the son of Imam (A.S.) was very much ill. We told ourselves if this son dies what a distress would Imam (A.S.) have to face?
We bade farewell, and went back and on the next day returned back to enquire about the welfare of Imam. Fortunately, we saw the Imam (A.S.) in happy mood we told ourselves God has done a favor and cured the son and so Imam is happy. But then we learnt that the son had passed away. We enquired about the matter from him personally, as to why he was so troubled and pensive before the death but after it he was happy. Imam replied to us, "my son was ill and by virtue of human and paternal duty I was sad and uneasy and put in endeavor and efforts to get him cured and was asking God to get him cured. But since God deemed expedient that he dies and freed him off the pain and calamity, I submitted to His will and thanked God. We are agreed and contented upon His will and we love and like whatever he loves and wishes.