- Category: Ahl al-Bayt
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The negative stance of the Emams was an obvious call for the nation to be aware of its Islamic mission and principles, a loud cry to wake it up from its slumber to witness the corrupt reality lived by such Islamic "caliphs" due to the reckless and corrupt behaviour of those rulers and their followers who were at the helm of leading the nation.
These are some of the characteristics and qualities which provide us with some of the outlines of the portrait of Emam al-Rida (A.S.), and the picture presented here is not complete in its pristine components which represent the actual context for it, for such a task requires the researcher to rise to grasp the Emam's loftiness which is impossible to attain by any writer, and nobody can ever describe it no matter how hard he tries.
18 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rata, Vol. 2, pp. 180-183. 19 Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 49, p. 211, as quoted by Ibn Maskawayhi's book Nadeem al-Tareef.
20 Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 49, p. 100. It is narrated from al-Hakim by Abu Abdullah, the hafiz of Naishapur.
22 Al Irshad by al-Mufid, p. 291.
23 Manaqib Aali Abi Talib, Vol. 4, p. 300.
24 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 1, p. 203.
25 Ibn al-Athir, Vol. 5, p. 183.
26 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 184.
27 Al Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 203.
28 Al Manaqib, Vol. 4, p. 362.
29 Al Kafi, Vol. 4, p. 81.
30 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 226.
31 Al Hujurat:13.
32 Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 174.
33 Al Kafi, Vol. 4, p. 23.
34 Al Hujurat:13.
35 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 237.
36 Al Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 298.
37 Kashf al-Ghumma, Vol. 3, p. 147; Surat Al A'raaf:32.
38 Al Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 516.
39 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 178.
40 Al Kafi, Vol. 1, pp. 316-319.
41 Kashf al-Ghumma, Vol. 3, p. 143.
42 Al Kafi, Vol. 3, p. 502.
43 Al Kafi, Vol. 4, p. 24.
44 Al Manaqib, Vol. 4, p. 361.
45 Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 360.
46 Al Balad:11.
47 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 264.
48 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 8.
49 Al Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 297.
50 Al Kafi, Vol. 5, p. 288.
51 Qurb al-Isnad, p. 222, and Al Kharaij wal Jaraih, p. 237, with a slight textual variation.
52 Al Kafi, Vol. 5, p. 111.
His life in Madinah
Before traveling to Marv, Imam Reza(A.S.) lived in Madinah; city where the shrine of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and his father’s grave exists. He was occupied with guiding people, indicating Islamic educations and Prophet’s (S.A.W.) Sirah (manner and behavior). People of Madinah loved him and assumed him as their father. Although he had spent most of his life in Madinah, he had many followers throughout the Islamic counties. He points out this fact on a discussion about succession: “In fact succession didn’t make a distinction for me. When I was in Madinah, people in east and west obeyed me and nobody was superior to me. They told me their requirements and I granted their requests and they treated me as a magnate.”
His Imamate was announced repeatedly by his father, grandfathers, and Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Especially Imam Kazem(A.S.) mentioned him as the Imam after himself several times. For instance, one of his followers narrates, “One day Imam Kazem(A.S.) came to us, holding his son’s (Ali) hand. We were 60 people. He said:” Do you know me?” I said: “You are our leader.” He said:” Say my name and title.”
I said:” You are Mouse bin Jafar bin Muhammad. ”He said:” Who is this guy with me?”
I said: “Ali bin Mouse bin Jafar.”He said: “So profess that he is my representative during my life and my successor after my death.”4 He is further introduced as the eighth Imam in a saying of Prophet (S.A.W.) narrated by Jaber. Also, Imam Sadegh(A.S.) told Imam Kazem( A.S.) that the knowledge of Prophet’s(S.A.W.) progeny is of your sons and he is your successor.
Imam Reza’s(A.S.) Imamate lasted eight years, which can be divided into three periods:
1-The first ten years was contemporary to Haroon’s caliphate.
2-The next five years was contemporary to Amin’s caliphate.
3-The last five years was contemporary to Ma’moon’s caliphate.
It was during the first period that great disasters, especially the martyrdom of Imam Kazem(A.S.), happened to the Alavi people (the children of Imam Ali(A.S.)). Haroon was instigated to kill Imam Reza(A.S.), but had not found the opportunity. After Haroon, Amin became the caliph. At that period, the government was weakened. Amin was drowned in his corruption and paid no attention to Imam and his followers. This period was peaceful for Imam and his followers.
However, Ma’moon killed his brother, Amin, and became the caliph. He suppressed the objectors and gained the control of all the Islamic countries. He gave the leadership of Iraq to one of his agents and settled in Marv. He then chose Fazl ibn Sahl, who was a great politician, as his minister. But the Alavi people were a threat to his government. After suffering murder, plunder and torture for a century, they had found the opportunity to object the government and to overthrow it. They were successful in gaining people’s support, because they also had suffered great losses from the Abbasid Caliphate. Therefore, Ma’moon decided not to confront them and wanted to bring back peace and security to strengthen his government.
So, after consulting Fazl, he came up with a treacherous plan. He decided to offer the caliphate to Imam Reza(A.S.) and withdraw himself. Because whether the Imam accepted or not, it would still be a victory for Ma’moon. If Imam accepted, and became Caliph allowing Ma’moon to be the vice-caliph, that would guarantee the legitimacy of Ma’moon’s government. Thus, Ma’moon decided to force the position of Caliph on Imam. It was then easier for him to eliminate
Imam Reza(A.S.) and become the legal leader. In this case, the Shiites would consider his government legitimate and would be satisfied with it and accepted him as Imam’s successor. Furthermore, the risings made against his government would lose their attraction and legitimacy.
However, if Imam did not accept the caliphate, he would then oblige Imam to be his successor and guarantee the legitimacy of his government through this to weaken the uprisings. On the other hand, he could make Imam settle near himself to control Imam and suppress his followers. In addition, Imam Reza’s(A.S.) Shiites and followers would criticize him for not accepting the caliphate and he would lose his respect among them.
The journey to the Khurasan
To accomplish his mentioned goals, Ma’moon sent some of his special agents to Imam Reza(A.S.) in Medina to force him to set on a journey to Khurasan. He also ordered to take Imam Reza(A.S.) through a path that has the least number of Shiites. The main roads in those days were the roads to Kufa, Jabal, Kermanshah, and Qom, which were all mainly Shiite cities. It seemed probable to Ma’moon that Shiites may get excited when they see Imam and prevent him to continue his travel to stay with them instead. To prevent these troubles, Ma’moon made Imam Reza(A.S.) travel through the paths of Basreh, Ahvaz, and Fars to Marv. His agents also watched Imam continuously and reported to Ma’moon on all of Imam’s activities.
Succession to Caliphate
When Imam Reza(A.S.) entered Marv, Ma’moon welcomed him royally and publicly through a speech in front of all the key characters of government. He said: “All should know that I do not know anyone better and more deserving on succession than Ali ibn Musi al-Reza in descendants of Abbas or Ali(A.S.)”. After that he turned his face to Imam and said: “I have decided to dethrone myself and announce you as the Caliph”. Imam Reza(A.S.) said: “If Allah has specified Caliphate for you then it is not permitted to give it to another one and if it is not yours then you do not have the authority to give it to another one.”
Ma’moon insisted on what he wanted but Imam said: “Never will I accept that”. When Ma’moon got disappointed, he told Imam: “Then accept to be the Caliph after me, and successor of me”. The insistence of Ma’moon on his wants and Imam Reza’s(A.S.) refusal lasted for two month. He did not accept and said, “I have heard from my fathers that I will die before you and will be martyred with poison and angles of the earth and skies will cry for me and I will be buried in the land of nostalgia beside Haroon al-Rashid”. But Ma’moon insisted on succession of Imam Reza(A.S.) in such way that he threatened Imam to death in a secret and private ceremony. Thus Imam said: “Now, since I am obliged, I accept it but on the condition that I do not appoint or depose anyone and do not change any custom or rule and control affaires imperceptibly”.
Ma’moon had no choice but to accept this condition. After that Imam raised his hands and said: “O, my God, you know that they opposed me under duress and I chose it by force. So please do not take me to task just as your two prophets, Yousef and Danial, when they accepted the leadership position of the kings of their time. O! My God, there is no vow except yours and no Mastership except of yours. So please help me to establish your religion and to follow your prophet’s custom. Indeed, what a good master and a good assistant you are”.
Imam’s manner and behavior
His moral virtues and piety was such that besides his followers and companions his enemies were attracted to him. He treated people as respectfully and kindly as possible and never separated himself from the people.
One of his companions say: “I never remember him, talk badly to anyone and interrupt someone while speaking. If he afforded to help, he would never reject any poor and never stretched his legs in front of people. I never remember him talk badly to his servants. He always smiled instead of laughing loudly. While having a meal, he invited all the servants to have the meal with him. He slept little at nights and was used to staying up and saying prayer during almost all nights. He always performed three fasts in the month. He helped the poor secretly in the dark nights.”6
One of his other companions says: “His carpet was of sackcloth in winter and a mat in summer. He wore rough and coarse clothes at home, but he wore nice clothes in public parties. (He wore nice and common clothes.)”7
One night while Imam was talking to his guest, there was a problem with the light. The guest wanted to correct it, but Imam did not let him to do so. He fixed it himself and said: ‘We are the ones who do not put our guests to work.’”8
A man told Imam: “By Allah I swear that no one on earth equals your ancestors in superiority and nobleness.’ Imam said:” Taqwa gave them nobleness and obedience to Allah gave them superiority.”9
A man from Balkh says:” I was with Imam Reza(A.S.) during the travel to Khurasan. One day while having a meal Imam invited all the servants including the Blacks to have the meal with them. I told Imam:” It is better they (the servants) sit somewhere else. Imam said:” Be quiet! The creator of everyone is the same. The father and mother of all are the same and reward is according to deeds.”10
The servant of Imam -Yaser – says:” Imam Reza(A.S.) had told us that if I was above your head (and ordered you to do something) and you were having a meal, do not stand up till you finish it. Therefore it frequently happened that Imam called us for a work, and he was responded that he (the servant) is busy having a meal; then Imam would say:” Let him finish his food.”11
One day a stranger came to visit Imam Reza(A.S.). He said hello and continued:” I love you and your fathers and ancestors. I have come back form Hajj and have run out of money. If it is possible give me some money so that I could go back to my house. I promise to spend the same amount there as Sadaghah, for, I am not poor in my city. Imam stood up and went to another room. Then he came behind the curtain and said:” Get this 200 Dinar and spend it for your travel, there is no need to pay the same back as Sadaghah. The man got the Dinars and went. Imam was asked for the reason of his secret help, he answered:” I did such, in order not to see the shame of need in his face.”12
Our infallible and great Imams guided their followers both by sayings and behavior. In other words by their behavior, they taught their Shiites the true way of behaving.
One of Imam’s companions said:” One day I was with Imam on the way to his home. At home his servants were busy repairing the house. Imam saw a stranger among them and asked of him. They answered:” He helps us and we pay him.” Imam asked:” Have you defined the amount of payment?” They answered:” No, but he accepts whatever we pay him.” Imam was disturbed and told me:” I have told them many times that before you bring anyone, define the amount of payment and contract. The one, who works without any contraction, thinks that you have paid him little, even if you give him three times more. But if you contract and give him according to the contraction, he will be pleased with receiving his right. Now if you pay more even just a little, he will understand you have paid more and will be thankful to you.”13
Imam’s servant says:” One day his servants were eating fruits. They ate some and through out the rest. Imam Reza(A.S.) told them:” Subhanallah! If you do not need it, give it to someone who needs.”
Ma’moon had told one of his servants not to cut his nails, and ordered him to put some poisons in his nails and prepare a pomegranate and pollute it with the poison. The servant obeyed his master and prepared the pomegranate. Ma’moon offered the poisonous pomegranate to Imam. Imam rejected, Ma’moon insisted and threatened Imam that he would kill him if he didn’t eat. Imam ate some pomegranate under obligation. After a few hours the poison polluted Imam’s body and he became ill. The morning of the next day (29th of Safar of year 203 H.G.) Imam Reza(A.S.) was martyred.
By divine will and power, Imam’s son, Imam Jawad(A.S.) washed his father’s body and said prayer for him. Imam’s body was buried in Mashhad with the accompaniment of many of his Shiites and followers.
Though centuries pass from the life of Imam Reza(A.S.), his holy shrine is the cause of blessing and honor for the Iranians.
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