Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s) displayed signs of intelligence and genius in his early years that astonished people and filled them with admiration and high regard. Historians have mentioned many signs of his intelligence. Here are some of them:
1. Umayya bin Ali narrated, “I was with Abul Hasan ar-Redha in Mecca in the year that he went on pilgrimage to bid farewell to the Sacred House (the Kaaba) when he intended to travel to Khurasan (in Iran). His son Abu Ja’far al-Jawad was with him. Abul Hasan bid his farewell to the House and went to the Sanctum (of Abraham) and offered prayer there. Abu Ja’far was carried by one of Imam ar-Redha’s servants to circumambulate the Kaaba. When he (with the servant) reached the Rock of Abraham, he sat there and remained for some time. Muwaffaq, the servant, asked him to get up so they could leave, but he refused and was very sad and depressed. Muwaffaq went to Imam ar-Redha (a.s) and told him about the state of his son. Imam ar-Redha (a.s) came and asked him to get up. He responded to his father with sighs and tears saying, ‘How can I get up O father, while you have bid farewell to the House in such a way as if you shall never come back to it…?’
A wave of pain occupied Imam ar-Redha (a.s). He begged his son to come with him and the son responded to his father.”
This event shows the intelligence of Imam al-Jawad (a.s) because he understood from the farewell of his father to the Sacred House that it was his last farewell. He saw the fear and grief in his father’s expressions that made him perceive it was the end of his father’s life. Indeed it was so, because Imam ar-Redha (a.s), after his travel to Khurasan, did not come back to the sacred lands (Mecca and Medina). He was martyred at the hands of al-Ma’moon, the Abbasid caliph, with poison.
2. Once, al-Ma’moon with his official procession passed by some children playing in a street in Baghdad, amongst whom was Imam al-Jawad (a.s). When the children saw the procession of al-Ma’moon, they ran away except Imam al-Jawad (a.s) who remained standing in his place. Al-Ma’moon, who did not know this child, became astonished and asked him, “Why did you not run away with those children?”
Imam al-Jawad (a.s) answered with a wonderful reason that affected al-Ma’moon. He said, “O Ameerul Mo’mineen, the street is not so narrow that I should clear it for you and neither have I any guilt that I should fear you. I trust that you do not harm a guiltless one.”
Al-Ma’moon was astounded and asked the child about his lineage, to which Imam al-Jawad (a.s) responded accordingly. Al-Ma'moon prayed to Allah to have mercy on Imam al-Jawad’s father.We shall discuss this point later on.
3. One of the signs of his incredible intelligence is that when he was in his early childhood, scholars and jurisprudents asked him thirty thousand questions and he answered them all. There is no way to justify this phenomenon except to say that Allah the Almighty has endowed the Ahlul Bayt (a.s) with great powers of knowledge that He has endowed to no one except His Arch-prophets.