When Imam Jafar as-Sadiq was still in his infancy some people following the example of the Christians spread the belief that Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Imams had two natures – the nature of man and the nature of God. They were partly human and partly divine. This belief posed a great danger to their sect. The Imam fought against this thought and saved Shi’ism from disintegration. He realised that it would create differences, split the people into factions, weaken the Shia movement and finally destroy it totally.
The Imam knew the history of the Christians. He knew the origin of the Orthodox and Catholic churches and the main cause of differences among Christians and their division into so many sects. In reply to those who propagated that idea, he said that all of them were human beings and had no essence or elements of God in them. But they were God’s most favoured servants and were chosen by Him to lead and guide mankind. He announced that anyone who believed or confessed that they had an essence of God in them will be believing in many gods and would not remain a muwahid (monotheist). They would become a mushrik (polytheist).
Another great danger threatening Islam was Monasticism which the Muslims wanted to adopt from the Christians. The Imam fought against that tendency and saved Muslims from a great catastrophe.
In the first half of the 2nd century Hijra, many Muslim sects were inclined to borrow Monasticism from the Christians and introduce it in Islam. They believed that one should give up worldly life and spend his time in seclusion and prayers. The leaders of those sects had arranged some solitary places where they and their followers could go and spend their lives in prayers. Some of them said that in Islam there was nothing better than Salaat (Namaaz), while others said that fasting was better than prayers and if someone had withdrawn from the world he should fast everyday throughout his life and think of nothing but Allah. Shias also, like others, were also attracted to Monasticism. This philosophy appealed to those who did not want to work and earn their own living.
At the beginning of the 2nd century Hijra Muslims were attracted not only to Monasticism, but they also wanted to follow another Christian practice which was Baptism.
The Imam opposed Baptism among Muslims just as he had opposed Monasticism. He told the Muslims : “We have customs which were practised by non-Muslims before Islam, but the Prophet of Allah approved them and thus they became part of Muslim customs and traditions. Although the Holy Quran has praised and exalted Christ and him mother Mary, it is not permissible for us to follow Christian customs and traditions.”
Another Christian practice, which was being followed by the Muslims, was celibacy. Considering it as a means of purification of the soul many Muslims did not marry. Addressing the Muslims, the Imam said : ” Do not follow the example of Christians. Celibacy is against the Commandments of Allah and tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). Not only it hurts a man intellectually and spiritually, it endangers the Muslim nation as a whole. It would reduce the number of Muslims. If celibacy was useful, the Holy Prophet of Allah would not have married at all. Since our Prophet himself married, it is the duty of every Muslim to follow his example and get married so that he may save himself from intellectual and spiritual degeneration and also help increase the Muslim population.”