IMAMAT: 8th Imam from the silsila-e-Imamaat
TITLE: Reza, Al-Raza, Badshah-e-Khorasan
FATHER: Imam Musa-e-Kazim (AS) - 7th Imam
MOTHER: Hazrat Bibi Najma (s.a.)
BIRTH DATE: 11th Ziqaadah year 148 Hijrah Medina
AGE: 55 Years
DIED ON: 17th Safar, 203 Hijrah
DEATH PLACE: Iran
HOLY SHRINE: Mashad – IRAN
BRIEF ABOUT IMAM ALI REZA (A.S.)
Ali al-Ridha's morality narrated by Shaykh Saduq
Ali al-Ridha is considered an infallible Imam according to Shia Islam. Below are some historical notes about him.
Shaykh Saduq narrates through the words of Ibrahim ibn Abbas that, "I never saw Ali al-Ridha committing excess over anyone in talking and interrupting anybody's speech before its coming to the end. He did not stretch his legs in the presence of others. When the meal table was laid he invited the servants to it, and took his meals with them. After taking rest in the nights he got up and made himself busy with the prayers to Allah. Similar to his fore fathers he carried food to the houses of the afflicted ones at the mid of nights."
Muhammad ibn Abi Ibad says about Ali al-Ridha, "He used mats of palm date leaves, straws and marsh reed in the summer season, and woolen carpets in the winter."
He led a simple life in his home, but when he went out he used to decorate himself and put on new and clean dress. He respected and honored the guests to the extent that one night a lamp of the house went out of order, the guest got to his feet to put it right. Ali al-Ridha made him sit and he set the lamp right, and said, "We do not employ our guests (exploit) upon work."
Yasir, the servant of Ali al-Ridha says, Ali Ridha said to us, "Whenever you are busy taking your meal, if I call you, do not get up till you have finished up eating." Another friend of Ali al-Ridha says, "One day a stranger came Ali al-Ridha's house and said, I am one of your friends and I am also not a poor man but my money has finished up and I do not have the expenses to return. You give me an amount and when I return to my city I will give it out as alms on your behalf." Ali al-Rida got up and went to another room, brought an amount of two hundred dirhams and gave it to him from behind the door and said, "Take this and go and it is not necessary to give it away as alms on my behalf."
They asked the Ali al-Ridha, "Why did you do it this way that he may not see you."
He said, "So that he does not catch my sight and get ashamed (embarrassed)."
Sulaiman, one of the friends of Ali al-Ridha says, "I went along with the Ali Ridha to the house. The labors were busy at work. There was a stranger among them whom the Ali al-Ridha did not recognize." He said, "Who is this man?" They said we have brought him from outside, so that he may help us. He said, "Have you concluded an agreement with him and fixed his wages?" They said, "No, he is a good man, whatever we pay him he accepts it and does not utter a word."
Ali al-Ridha was angry and annoyed and said, "I have always told you that when you employ someone for a job first of all fix his wages. Because, when his wages are fixed and you give more than that to him, he will become happy. But if you do not fix his wages and give him three times the amount, he thinks you have not given him the correct wages."
Imam Reza (Ali ibn Musa) was the son of the seventh Imam and according to well-known accounts was born in 148/765 and died in 203/817. The eight Imam reached the imamate, after the death of his father, through Divine Command and the decree of his forefathers. The period of his imamate coincided with the caliphate of Harun and then his sons Amin and Ma'mun. After the death of his father, Ma'mun fell into conflict with his brother Amin which led to bloody wars and finally the assassination of Amin, after which Ma'mun became caliph. Until that day the policy of the Abbasid caliphate toward the Shi'ites had been increasingly harsh and cruel. Every once in a while one of the supporters of Ali (alawis) would revolt, causing blood wars and rebellions which were of great difficulty and consequence for the caliphate.
The Shi'ites Imams would not cooperate with those who carried out these rebellions and would not interfere with their after. The Shi'ites of that day, who comprised a considerable population, continued to consider the Imams as their religious leaders to whom obedience was obligatory and believed in them as the real caliphs of the Holy Prophet. They considered the caliphate to be far from the sacred authority of their Imams, for the caliphate had come to seem more like the courts of the Persian kings and Roman emperors and was being run by a group of people more interested in worldly rule than in the strict application of religious principles. The continuation of such a situation was dangerous for the structure of the caliphate and was a serious threat to it.
Ma'mun thought of finding a new solution for these difficulties which the seventy-year old policy of his Abbasid predecessors had not been able to solve. To accomplish this end he chose the eighth Imam as his successor, hoping in this way to overcome two difficulties: first of all to prevent the descendants of the Prophet from rebelling against the government since they would be involved in the government themselves, and secondly, to cause the people to lose their spiritual belief and inner attachment to the Imams. This would be accomplished by having the Imams become engrossed in worldly matters and the politics of the caliphate itself, which had always been considered by the Shi'ites to be evil and impure. In this way their religious organization would crumble and they would no longer present any dangers to the caliphate. Obviously, after accomplishing these ends, the removal of the Imam would present no difficulties to the Abbasid.
In order have this decision put into effect, Ma'mun asked the Imam to come to Marw from Medina. Once he had arrived there, Ma'mun offered him first the caliphate and then the succession to the caliphate. The Imam made his apologies and turned down the proposal, but he was finally induced to accept the successorship, with the condition that he would not interfere in governmental affairs or in the appointment or dismissal of government agents. This event occurred in 200/814. But soon Ma'mun realized that he had committed an error, for there was a rapid spread of Shi'ism a growth in the attachment of the populace to the Imam and an astounding reception given to the Imam by the people and even by the army and government agents. Ma'mun sought to find a remedy for this difficulty and had the Imam poisoned and martyred. After his death the Imam was buried in the city of Tus in Iran, which is now called Mashhad. Ma'mun displayed great interest in having works on the intellectual sciences translated into Arabic. He organized gatherings in which scholars of different religions and sects assembled and carried out scientific and scholarly debates. The eighth Imam also participated in these assemblies and joined in the discussions with scholars of other religions. Many of these debates are recorder in the collections of Shi'ites hadiths.
[Oyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha]