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Know Your Imam ('Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha)

March 16, 2006

As reported by the master of traditions, Mullah Muhammad Muhsin ibn al-Murtada al-Fayd al-Kashani (may Allah make his grave fragrant), Ibrahim ibn al-‘Abbas said:

“I have never seen al-Ridha (peace be upon him) being asked something but that he knew the answer, and I do not see another more knowledgeable than him. Al-Ma’mun would test him by asking about everything, and anything he said in reply would always be taken from the Qur’an. He would complete a reading of the whole Qur’an every three days, and would say, ‘If I wished to complete it in less than three days, then I would do so; but I never read a verse but that I reflect upon its meaning and in what circumstances it was revealed.'”

Ibrahim ibn al-‘Abbas also said, “I have neither seen nor heard anyone more excellent than Abu al-Hassan al-Ridha (peace be upon him), and I have witnessed things in his presence that I witnessed at the hand of no other. I have never seen him speak harshly to anyone, nor heard him interrupt anyone who was speaking to him. He would never refuse to see to the need of anyone if it were in his power; he would never stretch his legs, or recline in front of anyone sitting with him. I have never seen him rebuking any of his servants, nor spitting or laughing out loud — rather, his laugh was as a smile. When he retired to eat and the food was set down, he would have his servants sit down with him, and even the gatekeeper and the stableman. He would sleep little at night and would fast much. He would never miss fasting for three days every month, saying this was like fasting for a lifetime. He would always help people and give charity without others knowing about it, especially on dark moonless nights. Do not believe anyone who claims to have seen someone like him in excellence.” 1

It is related by Shaykh al-Muhaddithin (the greatest hadith scholar), Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Babwayh, known as Shaykh Saduq (may Allah shower mercy on him):

Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) said, “Imamate is the rank of the prophets, and the inheritance of the spiritual guardians. Imamate is the caliphate of Allah and the Messenger; it is the station of the Commander of the Faithful and heritage of Hasan and Husayn. The Imamate is like the guiding reigns of the din, and the government of the Muslims; it is righteousness in this world and the glory of the believers. Truly, Imamate is the root of a flourishing Islam and its wide-spread branches. Through the Imam prayer, alms-giving, fasting and pilgrimage are perfected, booty and charity become plentiful and the laws and punishments are executed. The Imam makes lawful what Allah has made lawful, and forbids what Allah has forbidden.” 2

Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) was poisoned by the ‘Abbasid caliph, al-Ma’mun, and died on the 17th of Safar, 203 A.H. He was buried in Mashhad, Iran.

1. Al-Muhajjah al-Bayda fi Tahdhib al-Ihya
2. ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha

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