Imam 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a)

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'Ali b. Musa al-Rida
8th Shi'a Imam
ضریح امام رضا.jpg
Beginning of Imamate Rajab 25, 183/September 5, 799
Born c. January 2, 766 CE
(Dhu l-Qa'da 11, 148)
Duration of Imamate 20 years
Martyrdom c. 9 September 818(818-09-09) (aged 52)
(Safar 29, 203)
Deathplace Tus, Iran
Cause of Death Death by Poisoning
Place of Burial

Mashhad, Iran,

36°17′16.6″N 59°36′56.65″E / 36.287944°N 59.6157361°E / 36.287944; 59.6157361
Successor Muhammad b. 'Ali
Father Musa b. Ja'far
Mother Najma Khatun
Brother(s) Ahmad, Hamza, Muhammad, ...
Sister(s) Fatima, ...
Spouse(s) Sabika, Umm Habib
Son(s) Muhammad
Other Titles Al-Rida (the Pleased one)
The Twelve Imams
'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, al-Sajjad, al-Baqir, al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Jawad, al-Hadi, al-'Askari, al-Mahdi

ʿAlī b. Mūsā (a) (Arabic: علي بن موسی الرضا) (b. 148/766 – d. 203/818) is the eighth Imam of Twelver Shia. His Kunya was Abū l-Ḥasan (Arabic: أبو الحسن) and his most famous title was al-Riḍā (Arabic: الرضا). He (a) was Imam for 20 years. Imam al-Rida (a) was born in Medina and was martyred in Tus.

Al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi brought Imam al-Rida (a) to Khorasan by force and despite Imam's will made him crown prince. The debate sessions al-Ma'mun al-Abbasi held between Imam al-Rida (a) and personalities of other religions and schools of thought are famous.

The holy shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) is in Mashhad and every year millions of Muslims from different countries visit it.

Lineage, Birth, Martyrdom and Family

Lineage, Kunya, and Title

His lineage is mentioned as 'Ali son of Musa son of Ja'far son of Muhammad son of 'Ali son of Husayn son of 'Ali b. Abi Talib. His kunya was Abu l-Hasan (أبوالحسن). His most famous title was al-Rida (الرضا). Some sources said al-Ma'mun gave him this title but Imam al-Jawad (a), in a hadith, said Allah gave his father this title (al-Rida). Al-Sabir (الصابر), al-Radi (الرضي), and al-Wafi (الوافي) are among his titles.

Birth and Martyrdom

Shi'a
Usul al-Din (Beliefs)
Main Beliefs TawhidProphethoodResurrection'AdlImamate
Other Beliefs 'IsmaWilayaMahdawiyya: Occultation (Minor Occultation, Major Occultation), Intizar, Zuhur, and Raj'aBada'
Furu' al-Din (Practical Orders)
'Ibadi Orders PrayerFastingKhumsZakatHajjJihad
Non-'Ibadi Orders Forbidding the EvilEnjoining the GoodTawalliTabarri
Sources of Ijtihad Qur'anSunnaReasonIjma'
Ethics
Virtues ForgivenessGenerosityGenerous help
Vices Greater SinsKibr'UjbGhururJealousy
Sources Nahj al-BalaghaAl-Sahifa al-SajjadiyyaLetter of Imam 'Ali to Imam al-Hasan
Challenging Issues
Succession of the Prophet (s)Shafa'aTawassulTaqiyyaMourningMut'aCompanions
Figures
Shi'a Imams Imam 'Ali (a)Imam al-Hasan (a)Imam al-Husayn (a)Imam al-Sajjad (a)Imam al-Baqir (a)Imam al-Sadiq (a)Imam al-Kazim (a)Imam al-Rida (a)Imam al-Jawad (a)Imam al-Hadi (a)Imam al-'Askari (a)Imam al-Mahdi (a)
Companions

Men: HamzaJa'far b. Abi TalibSalman al-FarsiMiqdad b. AswadAbudhar al-Ghifari'Ammar YasirMalik al-AshtarMuhammad b. Abi Bakr'Aqil'Uthman b. HunayfAbu Ayyub al-AnsariJabir b. 'Abd Allah al-AnsariIbn 'Abbas'Abd Allah b. Ja'farKhuzayma b. ThabitBilalYasir

Women: KhadijaLady Fatima (a)ZaynabUmm KulthumAsma' bt. 'UmaysUmm AymanUmm Salama
Scholars LitterateursScholars of UsulPoetsScholars of RijalFaqihsPhilosophersBibliographersExegetes
Shrines
Mecca: Al-Masjid al-Haram
Medina: Al-Masjid al-NabawiAl-Baqi'
Al-Quds: Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa
Najaf: Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a)Masjid al-Kufa
Karbala: Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Kadhimiya: Shrine of al-Kazimayn (a)
Samarra: Shrine of al-'Askariyyayn (a)
Mashhad: Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a)
Damascus: Zaynabiyya
Qom: Shrine of Lady Fatima al-Ma'suma
Shiraz: Shah Chiragh
Rey: Shrine of 'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani
Eids
Eid al-FitrEid al-AdhaEid al-GhadirMab'athProphet's birthdayImams' birthdays
Mournings
FatimiyyaMuharram (Mournings of Muharram), Tasu'a, 'Ashura and Arba'in)
Events
MubahalaEvent of GhadirEvent of Saqifa Bani Sa'idaFadakEvents of Lady Fatima's HouseBattle of JamalBattle of SiffinBattle of NahrawanEvent of KarbalaHadith al-ThaqalaynAshab al-Kisa'Tathir VerseKilling Shi'as
Literature
Qur'anNahj al-balaghaal-Sahifa al-SajjadiyyaThe Four Books: (al-Istibsaral-KafiTahdhib al-ahkamKitab man la yahduruh al-faqih) • Mushaf of Fatima (a)Mushaf Imam 'Ali (a)Asrar-i Al-i Muhammad (s)Wasa'il al-Shi'aBihar al-anwaral-GhadirMafatih al-jinanMajma' al-bayanal-MizanOther Books
Sects
Ithna 'AshariyyaIsma'iliyyaZaydiyyaKaysaniyya

Imam al-Rida's (a) birthday has been reported to be on Thursday or Friday, Dhu l-Hijja 11, Dhu l-Qa'da, or Rabi' I of 148/766 or 153/770. Al-Kulayni reported Imam's (a) birthday in 148/766, which is agreed by most historians.

Imam al-Rida's (a) martyrdom has been reported on Friday or Monday of the end of Safar or Safar 17, Ramadan 21, Jumada I 18, or Dhu l-Qa'da 23, or the end of Dhu l-Qa'da of 202/817, 203/818 or 206/821.

Al-Kulayni mentioned Imam's (a) martyrdom in the month of Safar of 203/818 at the age of 55. According to most scholars and historians, Imam (a) was martyred in 203/818. Al-Tabrisi mentioned his martyrdom at the end of Safar.

According to above disagreement, Imam's (a) age at the time of martyrdom is reported to be between 47 and 57 years old; however, the mostly agreed opinion about his age upon martyrdom is 55 years old.

Mother

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq wrote about Imam's (a) mother that, "she was a concubine called Tuktam when Imam al-Kazim (a) owned her. When Imam al-Rida (a) was born, Imam al-Kazim (a) named her Tahirah." Al-Saduq says, "Some have said that the name of Imam al-Rida's (a) mother was Sakan al-Nawbiyya, she was also called al-Arwi, Najma, and Samana; and her Kunya was Umm al-Banin.

In another account it is mentioned that Imam's (a) mother was a pious concubine called Najma who was bought by Hamida, Imam al-Kazim's (a) mother, and gifted to Imam al-Kazim (a) who called her Tahira after she gave birth to Imam al-Rida (a). It has been said that Imam al-Rida's (a) mother was from Nawba.

Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Khadija
 
 
 
Muhammad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lady Fatima
 
 
 
Imam Ali
 
 
 
 
Umm al-Banin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Husayn
 
Imam al-Hasan
 
Lady Zaynab
 
Umm Kulthum
 
Muhsin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Al-'Abbas
 
Abd Allah
 
Uthman
 
Ja'far
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad
 
'Awn
 
Ali
 
Al-'Abbas
 
Umm Kulthum
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Al-Hasan
 
Al-Qasim
 
'Abd Allah
 
Fatima
 
Zayd
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'Abd Allah
 
Zaynab
 
Ibrahim
 
Al-Hasan
 
Hasan
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad
 
 
Ibrahim
 
 
Idris
 
 
 
Nafisa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Sajjad
 
'Ali al-Akbar
 
 
'Ali al-Asghar
 
 
Fatima
 
Sukayna
 
Ruqayya
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Baqir
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zayd
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Sadiq
 
'Abd Allah
 
Ibrahim
 
'Ubayd Allah
 
'Ali
 
Yahya
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Kazim
 
Muhammad
 
Ali
 
Ishaq
 
Umm Farwa
 
'Abd Allah
 
Isma'il
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Rida
 
Ma'suama
 
Hamza
 
Ishaq
 
Ahmad
 
Ibrahim
 
Muhammad
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Jawad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Hadi
 
 
Musa
 
 
 
 
Fatima
 
 
 
Amama
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari
 
 
Husayn
 
 
 
 
Muhammad
 
 
 
Ja'far
 
 
 
 
 
Imam al-Mahdi
 
 


Wives

Imam al-Rida (a) had a wife named Sabika who is reported to be from the family of Maria, wife of the Prophet (s).

In some historical sources, it is reported that Imam al-Rida (a) had another wife beside Sabika; that al-Ma'mun suggested to Imam al-Rida (a) to marry Umm Habib, al-Ma'mun's daughter, and Imam (a) accepted. Al-Tabari mentioned this marriage in the events of 202/817-818. They say that al-Ma'mun's goal from this action was further closeness to Imam al-Rida (a) and having reports about his plans from inside his house. Al-Yafi'i mentioned the name of al-Ma'mun's daughter as Umm Habiba. Al-Suyuti has also mentioned the marriage of al-Ma'mun's daughter with Imam al-Rida (a), but he did not mention the name of al-Ma'mun's daughter.

Children

There is a disagreement about the numbers and names of the children of Imam al-Rida (a). Some have reported them as five sons and one daughter with the names of Muhammad al-Qani', al-Hasan, Ja'far, Ibrahim, al-Husayn, and 'A'isha. Sib b. al-Jawzi said that Imam (a) had four sons with the names of Muhammad (Abu Ja'far al-Thani), Ja'far, Abu Muhammad al-Hasan, Ibrahim, and one daughter he did not mention her name. It has been said that one of the children of Imam al-Rida (a) who was 2 years old or less is now buried in Qazvin known as Imamzada Husayn (a) and Imam al-Rida (a) had been to that city in 193/808-809. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid did not mention any children for Imam al-Rida (a) other than Muhammad (a). Also, Ibn Shahrashub and al-Tabrisi have the same idea. Some have mentioned a daughter for Imam (a) called Fatima.

Imamate

The period of imamate of Imam al-Rida (a) after his father was 20 years (183/799 - 203/818) which was contemporary with the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, Muhammad al-Amin (approx. 5 years) and al-Ma'mun [20 years; of which, the first 5 years was contemporary with Imam al-Rida (a)].

Proofs of Imamate

Some of those who have narrated Hadiths from Imam Musa b. Ja'far (a) regarding the imamate of his son, 'Ali (a) are: Dawud b. Kathir al-Raqqi, Muhammad b. Ishaq b. 'Ammar, 'Ali b. Yaqtin, Na'im al-Qabusi, al-Husayn b. al-Mukhtar, Ziyad b. Marwan, al-Makhzumi, Dawud b. Sulayman, Nasr b. Qabus, Dawud b. Zirbi, Yazid b. Salit, and Muhammad b. Sinan. Some of these Hadiths are mentioned below.

Dawud al-Raqqi said that, "I asked Imam al-Kazim (a), 'who is imam after you?' He (a) pointed at his son Abu al-Hasan (a) [Imam al-Rida (a)] and said, 'this is your imam after me.'"

Muhammad b. Ishaq b. 'Ammar said that, "I asked Imam al-Kazim (a), 'Do not you guide me that of whom I should ask about [the issues of] religion?' He (a) answered, 'This, my son, 'Ali (a).'"

In addition to many narrative proofs, Imam al-Rida's (a) popularity among Shi'a and his moral and scientific superiority proved his imamate and although the issue of imamate was very difficult and complicated at the end of the life of Imam al-Kazim (a) but most companions of Imam al-Kazim (a) accepted the imamate of Imam al-Rida (a) after him.

Tendencies of Shia

Main article: Waqifids

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Kazim (a), most Shia accepted the Imamate of Imam al-Rida (a), son of Imam al-Kazim (a) because of his will and other reasons and evidences. These people including the great companions of Imam al-Kazim (a) are called Qat'iyya (قطعیة). But, another group of the companions of Imam al-Kazim (a) did not accept the Imamate of Imam al-Rida (a) for some reasons. They said that, "Imam al-Kazim (a) was the last Imam and did not mention anyone as Imam or at least we are not aware of it." They were called Waqifids.

Position of Imam (a) in Medina

Imam al-Rida (a) lived 17 years of his Imamate in Medina (183 – 200/815-816 or 201/816-817) and had a great position among people. In a conversation with Ma'mun about the position of the crown prince, Imam (a) described his life in Medina as follows,

"Surly, being the crown prince did not add any value to me. When I was in Medina, my order was obeyed in the east and the west and when I passed the alleys of Medina riding on my conveyance, no one was ever more honorable than me."

About Imam's (a) scholarly position in Medina, he (a) said,

"I sat in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and the scholars of Medina referred to me for their problems when they could not solve a problem and I answered them."

Journey to Khorasan

It is said that the immigration of Imam al-Rida (a) from Medina to Merv was happened in 200/815-816 or 201/816-817. The book Hayat-i fikri wa siyasi-i Imaman-i Shi'a (a) says that "Imam al-Rida (a) was in Medina until 201/816-817 and entered Merv in Ramadan of that year."

It is mentioned in the Tarikh al-Ya'qubi that al-Ma'mun brought Imam al-Rida (a) from Medina to Khorasan and al-Ma'mun's representative to take Imam to Khorasan was Raja' b. Abi Dahhak, a relative of al-Fadl b. Sahl. Imam (a) was brought to Merv from the the way of Basra. The route, al-Ma'mun chose for bringing Imam al-Rida (a) to Merv was specifically planned so that Imam (a) does not pass from Shi'a cities because al-Ma'mun was afraid of Shi'a gathering around Imam al-Rida (a). He ordered not to pass Imam (a) from Kufa, instead they brought Imam (a) from Basra to Khuzestan and Fars to Neyshabur. The path as reported by Atlas of Shi'a is: Medina, Naqara, Nabaj, Hafr Abu Musa, Basra, Ahvaz, Behbahan, Estakhr, Abarquh, Dah shir (Farashah), Yazd, Kharaneq, Robat Posht Badam, Neyshabur, Qadamgah, Deh Sorkh, Tus, Sarakhs, Merv.

The most important and most documented event of this path happened in Neyshabur where Imam al-Rida (a) made a speech and said the famous hadith of Silsilat al-Dhahab.

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid said, "al-Ma'mun summoned a group of people from the family of Abu Talib from Medina including Imam al-Rida (a)." Contrary to al-Ya'qubi, he introduced Juludi as al-Ma'mun's representative and said that they were brought to al-Ma'mun from Basra. He accommodate them in a house and Imam al-Rida (a) separately and paid him great respect.

Telling the Hadith of Silsilat al-Dhahab

اللَّه جَلَّ جَلَالُهُ یقُولُ لَا إِلَهَ‏ إِلَّا اللَّهُ‏ حِصْنِی‏ فَمَنْ دَخَلَ حِصْنِی أَمِنَ مِنْ عَذَابِی
قَالَ فَلَمَّا مَرَّتِ الرَّاحِلَةُ نَادَانَا بِشُرُوطِهَا وَ أَنَا مِنْ شُرُوطِهَا
al-Shaykh al-Saduq, K. al-Tawhid, p. 49

Ishaq b. Rahawiyya said, "when Imam al-Rida (a) arrived in Neyshapur during his travel to Khurasan, some hadith scholars told him, 'O son of the Prophet (s)! Are you going to leave our city without telling us any hadiths?' Then, Imam (a) put his head out of the carriage and said,

"I heard from my father, Musa b. Ja'far (a) who said that he heard from his father Ja'far b. Muhammd (a) and he heard from his father Muhammad b. Ali (a) and he heard from his father Ali b. Husayn (a) who heard from his father al-Husayn b. Ali (a) and he heard from his father Ali b. Abi Talib (a) who said that he (a) heard from the Prophet (s) who said that he heard from the angel Jabra'il (a) that he heard from God, Glorious and Almighty, 'the word 'La ilah-a illallah' is My fortress. So, anyone who enters My fortress, will be safe from My punishment.' So, when the conveyance of Imam (a) moved, he loudly added, '…with all its conditions and I am one of its conditions.'”

Mentioning this hadith in Neyshapur is considered as one of the most important and most documented events of the travel of Imam al-Rida (a).

Crown Prince Position

After Imam (a) settled in Merv, al-Ma'mun sent an agent to his house and told Imam (a) that "I want to depose myself from Caliphate and leave it to you!", and asked Imam (a) about his opinion. Imam (a) seriously opposed his idea. So, al-Ma'mun asked him to accept to be the crown prince after him. Imam (a) again disagreed, then al-Ma'mun summoned Imam (a) to his house and in a session, where there was no one except him, Imam (a) and al-Fadl b. Sahl, and told Imam (a), "I want to leave Muslims' affairs to you and unburden myself from this responsibility and leave it to you."

Imam al-Rida (a) replied, "O Amir al-Mu'minin! For the sake of God! For the sake of God! I neither can tolerate this, nor do I have the capabilities to do it."

Al-Ma'mun said, "I leave princehood to you after myself."

Imam (a) said, "Exempt me from this, O Amir al-Mu'minin!"

At this time, al-Ma'mun said something threatening: "'Umar b. al-Khattab put the council among six people, one of whom was your forefather Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and made this rule that if anyone of them opposed, he would be beheaded. There is no choice except that you accept what we want you and I see no escape from it."

Imam (a) said, "So, I accept only if I do not give command and do not prohibit, I neither give Fatwa, nor do I judge, I neither assign anyone to any task, nor do I change anything's position."

Al-Ma'mun accepted his condition.

This way al-Ma'mun gave allegiance to Imam (a) as his crown prince on Monday, Ramadan 7, 201/April 2, 817 and made people wear green instead of black (which was the color of Abbasids, and the green being the sign of Alawids). Al-Ma'mun also wrote the decree for allegiance to surrounding regions and asked them to give allegiance to Imam (a). They began their sermons on the pulpits with Imam's (a) name and coined Dinar and Dirham in his name and there was no one wearing other than green except Isma'il b. Ja'far b. Sulayman b. 'Ali al-Hashimi.

Al-Ma'mun called lecturers and poets and made celebrated this occasion. Among the poets attended in that ceremony was Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i to whom Imam al-Rida (a) gave a gift.

Al-Ma'mun sent the order of allegiance with Imam al-Rida (a) to 'Isa Juludi in Mecca. At that time, Mecca was ruled by Ibrahim b. Musa b. Ja'far and he called people to al-Ma'mun and when Juludi came to him with green flag and the allegiance of Imam al-Rida (a), Ibrahim rushed to welcome him and people of Mecca gave allegiance to Imam al-Rida (a) and wore green.

Analysis of the Princehood

Al-Ma'mun had given the rule of the state of 'Arab Iraq to al-Hasan b. Sahl and he himself stayed in Merv. Some of Alawis rebelled as they were wishful to win the caliphate and since the people of Iraq were not pleased with al-Hasan b. Sahl, many of them followed and obeyed Alawis. Al-Ma'mun became distressful upon hearing this news and consulted with al-Fadl b. Sahl and as he suggested, al-Ma'mun chose Imam al-Rida (a) the crown prince in order to make other Sayyids obey his government.

The position of being crown prince was among important issues of the political life of Imam al-Rida (a). To analyze this issue, one needs to make research about Islamic history as well as the history of Umayyad caliphs and the way Abbasids reached caliphate. The general situation of the lands of Islamic caliphate until 203/818 (Imam al-Rida's (a) martyrdom) is given as following: Umayyad caliphs were generally cruel and did not understand anything from caliphate but ruling. The only exception among them was 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz whose rule did not last long. Following these caliphs' cruelty rebellions and revolts against government emerged from anywhere which mostly had religious backgrounds. Muslims pursued revival of the Islamic tradition and followers of other religions who lived in Islamic lands wished for justice and equity and their only hope was the Ahl al-Bayt (a). Abbasids abused this hope of people in their own favor. At the beginning, they said that they had come to rescue people from Umayyads' evil. But then they made revolts in favor the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in several steps:

  1. Their call in favor of Alawis
  2. Calling people to Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  3. Calling people to "the pleasant one from the family of Muhammad (s)"
  4. Claiming the heritage of caliphate for themselves

Abbasids broke all their promises when they established caliphate in their own family with deceit and began mistreating people, especially Alawis and persecuted them, imprisoned them and killed them whenever they found anyone of them with any excuse. Finally, their mistreatment of Alawis annoyed people of them and rebellions emerged anew against the government. They grew up more at the time of al-Ma'mun and many uprisings were made in different states and cities in favor the family of 'Ali (a). Al-Ma'mun learned that he had to do something in order to rescue from those troubles including the following measures:

  1. Suppressing Alawis' rebellions
  2. Forcing Alawis to admit to legitimacy of Abbasids' rule,
  3. Ruining the increasing love and respect the people had about Alawi families and eliminating this foundation of deep emotional relationship among people and devalue the position of Alawis before people in a way that it does not rise any questions and especially about Imam al-Rida (a) that they wanted to show Imam (a) incompetent for caliphate before people.

When al-Ma'mun was criticized by Hamid b. Mihran and some other Abbasids why he gave Imam al-Rida (a) the position of princehood, he answered them, "This man was hidden from our eyes. He calls people to himself. Therefore, I wanted her to become our crown prince so that all the people he (a) attracts to himself would be in our favor."

Imam al-Rida (a) knew about al-Ma'mun's intention and told him, "you want that people say, 'Ali b. Musa (a) is not uninterested in the world and leadership, but it is the world which is uninterested in him. Do not you see how he (a) has accepted to become the crown prince greedy for caliphate?". He (a) answered those who asked him why he (a) accepted to be the prince, "I accepted that unwillingly and under pressure." The conditions Imam al-Rida (a) declared mentioned for accepting this position were in fact his withdrawal from cooperation in the government of al-Ma'mun, because Imam (a) said that he (a) neither would assign anyone to work, nor would depose anyone; he neither would break a custom, nor would he change anything in the current situation. Even with all the conditions, soon Abbasids rose against al-Ma'mun in Baghdad and gave allegiance to Ibrahim al-Mahdi. On the other hand, Alawis knew that al-Ma'mun did not do this out of faith. Rebellion broke out again and al-Ma'mun had no choice to remove Imam (a).

Debates

After al-Ma'mun brought Imam al-Rida (a) to Merv, held many scientific meetings with the presence of different scholars. In these sessions, many discussions were made between Imam (a) and others which were mostly about ideological and jurisprudential issues. Al-Tabrisi has brought a part of these discussions in his al-Ihtijaj. Some of these debates [or Ihtijajat] are as follows:

Analysis of Debate Sessions

Al-Ma'mun wanted to draw Imam al-Rida (a) into debate and ruin people's belief about Imams (a) having special knowledge including God-given knowledge. Regarding this issue, al-Shaykh al-Saduq said, "al-Ma'mun brought high level scholars of different schools against Imam (a) in order to devalue Imam's (a) reasoning and this was out of his envy towards Imam (a) and his scientific and social position. However, none of those scholars met Imam al-Rida (a) except they admitted to his scientific superiority and accepted the proofs Imam (a) brought against them."

These sessions gradually made problems for al-Ma'mun. When he noticed that holding such sessions is dangerous for him, he began to restrict Imam (a). 'Abd al-Salam al-Hirawi is quoted reporting that once al-Ma'mun was informed that Imam al-Rida (a) has held theological sessions and this has made people attracted to him. Al-Ma'mun sent Muhammad b. 'Amr al-Tusi to scatter people from Imam al-Rida's (a) session. Then, Imam (a) cursed al-Ma'mun.

Prayer of Eid

After the princehood of Imam al-Rida (a) (on Ramadan 7, 201/April 2, 817), upon the Eid (apparently Eid al-Fitr of the same Ramadan), al-Ma'mun asked Imam (a) to lead the Eid prayer, but Imam (a) declined due to the conditions he (a) had specified for accepting princehood. Al-Ma'mun insisted and Imam (a) accepted inevitably and said, "So, I will go to prayer the way the Prophet (s) did." And al-Ma'mun accepted. People expected that Imam al-Rida (a) to exit his house in the special manner of caliphs, but surprisingly saw that Imam (a) came out bare-footed reciting Takbir. Upon seeing this, commanders who had come to this event with their official uniforms quickly got off their horses and took off their shoes and walked after Imam (a) while they were saying Takbir and crying. Imam (a) said Takbir three times upon every step.

It is reported that al-Fadl told al-Ma'mun, "If Imam al-Rida (a) continues this manner and reaches the gathering place for holding prayer, people will become so attracted to him! It is better you ask him come back." So, al-Ma'mun sent a person to ask Imam (a) come back. Imam (a) asked for his shoes, put them on, got on his horse and returned.

Martyrdom

According to Tarikh al-Ya'qubi, al-Ma'mun went to Iraq in 202/818 and took Imam al-Rida (a) and al-Fadl b. Sahl with him. When he arrived in Tus, Imam al-Rida (a) passed away after three days of illness in a village called Nawqan at the beginning of 203/818. It is said that 'Ali b. Hisham gave Imam (a) a poisoned pomegranate and al-Ma'mun expressed so much grief over the incident." Al-Ya'qubi continues, "Abu al-Hasan b. Abu 'Ibad told me and said, 'I saw al-Ma'mun wearing a white cloak and (in the funeral) following the body al-Rida (a) was walking between the two poles [carrying the body] bare-headed and said, 'O Abu al-Hasan (a), upon whom shall I rely after you?' He stayed near his grave for three days and they brought him a loaf of bread and a little salt everyday as his food each day and he returned on the fourth day."

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid narrated from 'Abd Allah b. Bashir that al-Ma'mun ordered him not to clip his nails to become longer than usual; then, he gave him something like tamarind to rub it into paste form. Then, al-Ma'mun went to Imam al-Rida (a) and called 'Abd Allah and asked him to squeeze pomegranate's juice and gave it to Imam (a) and that killed him after two days.

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq narrated some hadiths with similar meanings in some of which the poison in grapes is mentioned and in some, the poison is mentioned both in grapes and pomegranate. Ja'far Murtada Husayni has mentioned six different opinions about the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a).

Ibn Hibban, a hadith and Rijal scholar of 4th/10th century, wrote under the entry of 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a), "'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a) was martyred by the poison al-Ma'mun gave him. This happened on a Saturday in 203/818."

After Imam's (a) martyrdom, al-Ma'mun buried the body in the house of Humayd b. Qahtaba al-Ta'i (Buq'at al-Haruniyya) in the village of Sanabad. Today, the holy shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) is located in Mashhad, Iran.

An Analysis of the Reason for which al-Ma'mun killed Imam (a)

One of the reasons that al-Ma'mun agreed to killing of Imam al-Rida (a) was Imam's (a) victory over different scholars in sessions of debate.

Another reason mentioned is going of Imam al-Rida (a) to the prayer of Eid. Regarding people's great reception of Imam (a) upon the prayer of Eid, as mentioned above, al-Ma'mun felt the danger and thought that existence of Imam (a) does not only solve any problems of him but it will inflame the situation so much against him. Therefore, he appointed surveillance agents for Imam (a) to prevent him do anything against al-Ma'mun.

Imam (a) was not afraid of al-Ma'mun and most of the time answered him in a way that annoyed him. This made al-Ma'mun angry and increased his enmity towards Imam (a), even though he did not showed it explicitly. It is narrated that when al-Ma'mun was expressing happiness upon one of his military victories, Imam al-Rida (a) told him, "O Amir al-Mu'minin! Fear God about the people of Muhammad (s) and what God has trusted to you. You have spoiled Muslims' affairs…"

Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a)

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a), Ma'mun ordered to bury the body of Imam (a) in the house of Humayd b. Qahtaba al-Ta'i (Haruniyya mausoleum) in the village of Sanabad. Today, the Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) is located in the holy city of Mashhad in Iran and is visited by millions of Muslims from different countries every year.

The Conduct of Imam al-Rida (a)

His worshiping manner: It is mentioned that in the middle of scientific debates in which great personalities of different religions and denominations participated, Imam al-Rida (a) left the sessions as soon as he (a) heard the call of Adhan and answered to the request of the people for continuing the debates, saying that, "I will pray and come back." There are numerous reports about his worships at night and vigils. When Imam al-Rida (a) gifted his shirt to Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i, told him, "take care of this shirt with which I have prayed a thousand rak'as every night for a thousand nights and wearing which, I have finished recitation of the Qur'an for a thousand times." Long prostrations of Imam (a) have also been reported.

Moral Conduct: There are many reports about the good manner of Imam (a) when associating with people. His kind manner and eating with servants even after being the crown prince are among these reports. Ibn Shahr Ashub narrated that one day Imam (a) went to a public bath. A person who did not know Imam (a), asked him to massage and wash his body and Imam (a) accepted and began to do what he asked. Others who saw this, introduced Imam (a) to that man and the man was very embarrassed and ashamed and apologized. Imam (a) calmed him down and continued massaging and washing him.

Educational conduct: In the conduct of Imam al-Rida (a), the role of children in the family was emphasized and cases such as the necessity of marriage with righteous spouse, good caring during pregnancy, naming children with good names and respecting them. Regarding Imam al-Rida's (a) care about associating with relatives, it is mentioned that whenever Imam (a) had a free time, gathered his relatives and spoke to them.

Scientific conduct: When Imam al-Rida (a) was in Medina, he (a) used to sit in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and those scholars who had scientific problems asked their questions from Imam (a). After Imam (a) went to Merv, he (a) answered many questions in debates. Moreover, Imam (a) held scientific gatherings in his house and in the mosque of Merv; but when his gatherings became crowded, Ma'mun ordered to shut them down and Imam (a) cursed him.

Imam (a) advised about health and medicine in his narrations. In these narrations, he (a) explained several concepts related to health and medicine and also discussed about preventing disease, proper eating habits, individual hygiene and treatments. Tibb al-Rida (a), also known as Risala al-Dhahabiyya contains pieces of advice in this regard.

Not hiding his opinion about Imamate: The period of Imam al-Rida's (a) Imamate did not need beliefs to be hid, because the events about emergence of Waqifid movement had seriously endangered Shia community. Moreover, the few remaining followers of Fathiyya were still active at the time of Imam al-Rida (a). Thus, Imam (a) kept away from the policy of taqiyya to some extent and explained about different aspects of Imamate more clearly. For example, the issue of obligatory obedience of Imam (a) was mentioned in religious and theological gatherings since the time of Imam al-Sadiq (a), but Imams (a) dealt with it by taqiyya. Imam al-Rida (a) introduced himself Muftarad al-Ta'a (obedience of whom is obligatory) without "fearing the oppressor" (as mentioned in hadiths). However, Imam (a) asked Shia to "be God-wary and do not spread our words in public."

Also in answer to a letter of Ma'mun, in which he had asked Imam (a) to write for him about the truth of Islam, Imam (a) began by discussing about the Unity of God and Prophethood of the Prophet (s), Imamate of Imam Ali (a) and the 11 Imams (a) after him and for them, he (a) used the phrase "al-Qa'im bi amr al-Muslimin" which means "upholder of the affairs of Muslims" for Imam (a).

Attributed Works

In addition to Hadiths and reports narrated from Imam al-Rida (a) and his answers to people who referred to him for understanding scientific issues (as mentioned in books such as 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida (a) which has mentioned many of such issues), some authors have mentioned and attributed some works to Imam al-Rida (a), attribution of which require sufficient proofs and authenticity of some of which is not verifiable.

Al-Fiqh al-Radawi is among such works which researchers and scholars have not accepted that this book may be written by Imam al-Rida (a).

Another work which has been attributed to Imam al-Rida (a) is Risalat al-Dhahabiyya in Medicine. It is said that Imam (a) sent this treatise to al-Ma'mun in 201/817, and to show its importance, al-Ma'mun ordered to write it by gold and keep it in the treasure house of Dar al-Hikma. This is why they call it Risalat al-Dhahabiyya (the golden treatise). Many scholars have written commentaries on this treatise.

Another work that is attributed to Imam al-Rida (a) is Sahifat al-Rida (a) in Fiqh, attribution of which to Imam (a) is not proved.

Another book which has been attributed to Imam al-Rida (a) is Mahd al-Islam wa shara'i' al-din and apparently there is no certainty that Imam (a) has written it.

Companions

Some authors have mentioned 367 companions and narrators for Imam al-Rida (a). Some companions of Imam al-Rida (a) were:

Sunni Scholars' Quotations

Ibn Hajar, "al-Rida (a) had a noble lineage and was a man of knowledge and great merits." Ibn Hajar mentions Abu Bakr b. Khuzayma (a leader of the people of tradition) and Abu Ali al-Thaqafi among other great Sunni scholars who visited the grave of Imam al-Rida (a). The narrator of this story (who narrated it for Ibn Hajar) said, "Abu Bakr b. Khuzayma paid so much respect to this shrine and humbly cried before it that we were surprised."

Al-Yafi'i, "The grand and dignified Imam, from the lineage of noble leaders, Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Musa al-Kazim b. Ja'far al-Sadiq b. Muhammad al-Baqir b. Zayn al-'Abidin 'Ali b. al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. Abi Talib is one of the twelve Imams (a), owners of merits and those Twelver Shia are attributed to..."

Ibn Hibban wrote, "His grave is in Sanabad, out of Nawqan beside the grave of Rashid and is being visited; and I have visited it many times and when I was in Tus and I faced no problem except that I visited the grave of 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a), may peace by upon him and his forefather, and called God there and my problem was solved and my supplication was answered. I have experienced this many times and I have found it this way. May God make us die having the love of al-Mustafa (s) and his household (a), may Allah's peace be upon him and all his family."

Ibn Najjar al-Baghdadi said, "He (a) had such a great position in knowledge and religion that when he (a) was twenty some years old, he (a) gave fatwa in the mosque of the Prophet (s)."

References