Sadr uprising (1980)

Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr.jpg
Born(1935-03-01)March 1, 1935
DiedApril 9, 1980(1980-04-09) (aged 45)
Baghdad, Iraq
Resting placeWadi-us-Salaam, Najaf
SectUsuli Twelver Shia Islam
Muslim leader
Based inNajaf, Iraq
PostGrand Ayatollah

Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (Arabic: آية الله العظمى السيد محمد باقر الصدر‎) (March 1, 1935 – April 9, 1980) was an Iraqi Shia cleric, philosopher, and the ideological founder of the Islamic Dawa Party, born in al-Kadhimiya, Iraq. He was father-in-law to Muqtada al-Sadr, a cousin of Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr and Imam Musa as-Sadr. His father Haydar al-Sadr was a well-respected high-ranking Shi'a cleric. His lineage can be traced back to Muhammad through the seventh Shia Imam Musa al-Kazim. Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr was executed in 1980 by the regime of Saddam Hussein along with his sister, Bintelhuda.


Early life and education[]

Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr was born in al-Kazimiya, Iraq to the prominent Sadr family, which originated from Jabal Amel in Lebanon. His father died in 1937, leaving the family penniless. In 1945, the family moved to the holy city of Najaf, where al-Sadr would spend the rest of his life. He was a child prodigy who, at 10, was delivering lectures on Islamic history. At eleven, he was a student of logic. He wrote a book refuting materialistic philosophy when he was 24.[1] Al-Sadr completed his religious studies at religious seminaries under al-Khoei and Muhsin al-Hakim, and began teaching at the age of 25.

Later life and execution[]

Al-Sadr's works attracted the ire of the Baath Party leading to repeated imprisonment where he was often tortured. Despite this, he continued his work after being released.[2] When the Baathists arrested Ayatollah Al-Sadr in 1977, his sister Amina Sadr bint al-Huda made a speech in the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf inviting the people to demonstrate. Many demonstrations were held, forcing the Baathists to release Al-Sadr who was placed under house arrest.

In 1979–1980, anti-Ba'ath riots arose in the Iraq's Shia areas by groups, who were working toward an Islamic revolution in their country.[3] Saddam and his deputies believed that the riots had been inspired by the Iranian Revolution and instigated by Iran's government.[4] In the aftermath of Iran’s revolution, Iraq’s Shiite community called on Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr to be their “Iraqi Ayatollah Khomeini”, leading a revolt against the Ba'ath regime.[5][better source needed] Community leaders, tribal heads, and hundreds of ordinary members of the public paid their allegiance to al-Sadr.[5] Protests then erupted in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite provinces of the south in May 1979.[5] For nine days, protests against the regime unfolded, but were suppressed by the regime.[5] The cleric’s imprisonment led to another wave of protests in June after a seminal, powerful appeal from al-Sadr’s sister, Bint al-Huda. Further clashes unfolded between the security forces and protestors. Najaf was put under siege and thousands were tortured and executed.[5]

He was finally arrested on 5 April 1980 with his sister, Sayedah Bent Al Huda.[6] They had formed a powerful militant movement in opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime.[7]

On 9 April 1980, Al-Sadr and his sister were killed after being severely tortured by their Baathist captors.[2] Signs of torture could be seen on the bodies.[7][8][9] The Baathists raped Bint Houda in front of her brother.[9] An iron nail was hammered into Al-Sadr's head and he was then set on fire in Najaf.[2][6] It has been reported that Saddam himself killed them.[7] The Baathists delivered the bodies of Baqir Al-Sadr and Bintul Huda to their cousin Sayyid Muhammad al-Sadr.[7] They were buried in the Wadi-us-Salaam graveyard in the holy city of Najaf the same night.[6] His execution raised no criticism from Western countries because Al-Sadr had openly supported Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.[8]


The most notable of his first works were Iqtisaduna on Islamic economics, and Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy). They were detailed critiques of Marxism that presented his early ideas on an alternative Islamic form of government. They were critiques of both socialism and capitalism. He was subsequently commissioned by the government of Kuwait to assess how that country's oil wealth could be managed in keeping with Islamic principles. This led to a major work on Islamic banking [title missing], which still forms the basis for modern Islamic banks.

Using his knowledge of the Quran and a subject-based approach to Quranic exegesis, Al-Sadr extracted two concepts from the Holy text in relation to governance: khilafat al-insan (Man as heir or trustee of God) and shahadat al-anbiya (Prophets as witnesses). Al-Sadr explained that throughout history there have been "...two lines. Man's line and the Prophet's line. The former is the khalifa (trustee) who inherits the earth from God; the latter is the shahid (witness)".[10]

Al-Sadr demonstrated that khilafa (governance) is "a right given to the whole of humanity" and defined it as an obligation given from God to the human race to "tend the globe and administer human affairs". This was a major advancement of Islamic political theory.

While Al-Sadr identified khilafa as the obligation and right of the people, he used a broad-based explanation of a Quranic verse[11] to identify who held the responsibility of shahada in an Islamic state. First were the Prophets (anbiya'). Second were the Imams who are considered a divine (rabbani) continuation of the Prophets in this line. The last were the marja'iyya (see Marja).[12]

While the two functions of khilafa and shahada (witness; supervision) were united during the times of the Prophets, they diverged during the occultation so that khilafa returned to the people (umma) and shahada to the scholars.[13]

Al-Sadr also presented a practical application of khilafa, in the absence of the twelfth Imam. He argued that khilafa required the establishment of a democratic system whereby the people regularly elect their representatives in government:

Islamic theory rejects monarchy as well as the various forms of dictatorial government; it also rejects the aristocratic regimes and proposes a form of government, which contains all the positive aspects of the democratic system.[14]

He continued to champion this point until his final days:

Lastly, I demand, in the name of all of you and in the name of the values you uphold, to allow the people the opportunity truly to exercise their right in running the affairs of the country by holding elections in which a council representing the ummah (people) could truly emerge.' [15]

Al-Sadr was executed by Saddam Hussein in 1980 before he was able to provide any details of the mechanism for the practical application of the shahada concept in an Islamic state. A few elaborations of shahada can be found in Al-Sadr's works.

In his text Role of the Shiah Imams in the Reconstruction of Islamic Society, Al-Sadr illustrates the scope and limitations of shahada by using the example of the third Shi'i Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (the grandson of the Prophet), who defied Yazid, the ruler at the time. Al-Sadr explained that Yazid was not simply acting counter to Islamic teachings, as many rulers before and after him had done, but he was distorting the teachings and traditions of Islam and presenting his deviant ideas as representative of Islam itself. This, therefore, is what led Imam Hussein to intervene challenging Yazid in order to restore the true teachings of Islam, and consequently laying down his own life. In Al-Sadr's own words, the shahid's (witness – person performing shahada or supervision) duties are "to protect the correct doctrines and to see that deviations do not grow to the extent of threatening the ideology itself".

Al-Sadr has one son, Jaafar, who completed his Islamic studies in Qum and went on to become a politician. He is said to reject the concept of a religious state, instead advocating that a "civil state" in Iraq should not contradict religion but instead states that "a fair and just regime should be able to earn the blessing of religions".[citation needed] He dismisses the notion of taking revenge for his father's death stating, "Re-building a unified, democratic and stable Iraq is the only way for taking that revenge".[citation needed]

List of works[]

Al-Sadr engaged western philosophical ideas, challenging them as necessary and incorporating them where appropriate, with the ultimate goal of demonstrating that religious knowledge was not antithetical to scientific knowledge.[16] The following is a list of his work:[17]


Fundamentals of the law[]





Qur'anic commentaries[]


Islamic culture[]


Notable colleagues and students[]


See also[]


  1. ^ Baqir Al-Sadr, Our Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, 1987, p. xiii
  2. ^ a b c Al Asaad, Sondoss (9 April 2018). "38 Years After Saddam's Heinous Execution of the Phenomenal Philosopher Ayatollah Al-Sadr and his Sister". Modern Diplomacy. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  3. ^ Karsh, Efraim (25 April 2002). The Iran–Iraq War: 1980–1988. Osprey Publishing. pp. 1–8, 12–16, 19–82. ISBN 978-1841763712.
  4. ^ Farrokh, Kaveh. Iran at War: 1500–1988. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78096-221-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e [1]
  6. ^ a b c Al Asaad, Sondoss (10 April 2018). "The ninth of April, the martyrdom of the Sadrs". Tehran Times. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Ramadani, Sami (24 August 2004). "There's more to Sadr than meets the eye". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b Aziz, T.M (1 May 1993). "The Role of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in Shii Political Activism in Iraq from 1958 to 1980". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 25 (2): 207–222. doi:10.1017/S0020743800058499. JSTOR 164663.
  9. ^ a b Marlowe, Lara (6 January 2007). "Sectarianism laid bare". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  10. ^ Muhammed Baqir Al-Sadr, Al-Islam yaqud al-hayat, Qum, 1979, p.132
  11. ^ Quran 5:44
  12. ^ Baqir Al-Sadr, Al-Islam yaqud al-hayat, Qum, 1979, p.24
  13. ^ Faleh A Jabar, The Shi'ite Movement in Iraq, London: Saqi Books, 2003, p.286
  14. ^ Muhammed Baqir Al-Sadr, Lamha fiqhiya, p.20
  15. ^ Muhammed Baqir Al-Sadr, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, London: ICAS, 2003, p.15
  16. ^ Walbridge, Linda S. (2001). The Most Learned of the Shi'a: The Institution of the Marja Taqlid. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-19-513799-6.
  17. ^ The Super Genius Personality of Islam
  18. ^ This has been translated into English twice: by Roy Mottahedeh as Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence (2005) ISBN 978-1-85168-393-2 (Part 1 only) and anonymously as The Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence according to Shi'i Law (2003) ISBN 978-1-904063-12-4.