Imam Reza's(A.S.) Character
As for the solemnity of Imam Reza(A.S.); faces were humbled in fear of it, for it was similar to that of the prophets and the testamentary trustees (of authority) whom Allah clothed in His light. All those who saw him respected him. An example of his solemnity was that when he sat with the people or rode off with them, none was able to raise his voice because of his great solemnity.
The reporters have said: "When he (i.e. Imam Reza, peace be on him) came to al-Ma'mu`n, the chamberlains and the servants hurried to raise the curtain for him. When they heard that al-Ma'mun wanted to pledge allegiance to him, they said to each other that if he (the Imam Reza(A.S.)) came, they would not honor or magnify him as they would do. The Imam(A.S.) came as usual, and his solemnity moved them, so they honored him as they would do. Then they blamed one another and swore (by Allah) that if he returned they would not honor him. When the Imam, peace be on him, came on the following day, they stood for him and greeted him, but they did not raise they curtain for him, so a wind came and raised it for him. When he wanted to leave, the wind also raised the curtain for him. As a result they said to each other: 'Surely this man is of great importance, and Allah takes care of him, so return to your serving him."
Inscription Engraved in the Ring of Imam Reza(A.S.)
As for the inscription and words engraved in ring, they more likely represent one's inclinations and desires. The following (words) were engraved in the ring of Imam Reza(A.S.) Wali Allah (the Friend of Allah).
He had another ring in which it was engraved: Al-'Izzah Lillah (Might belongs to Allah).These inscriptions represent the Imam's great devotion to Allah, the Most Exalted, and his clinging to Him.
As for the qualities of Imam Reza(A.S.),they represent all virtues. All noble qualities gathered in him. Allah endowed him with all outstanding qualities just as He endowed his great fathers. He endowed him with nobility and made him an eminent figure for the community of his grandfather (the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family). So the Imam guided the perplexed and the straying (to the truth), and he enlightened minds. They following are some of his noble qualities:
As for the noble traits of Imam Reza(A.S.), they were part of those of his grandfather, the greatest Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, by which he was distinguished from the rest of the prophets. Through his exalted manners, (the Prophet), may Allah bless him and his family, was able to develop man and saved him from the ill traits of those who lived in the pre-Islamic period. As for Imam Reza(A.S.),he had the high noble qualities of his grandfather. Concerning his noble traits, Ibra`hīm b. al-'Abba`s has said:
"I have never seen nor have I ever heard that there is a person more meritorious than Abu` al-Hasan Imam Reza(A.S.).He never turned away from anyone; nor did he interrupt anyone; nor did he refuse to do someone a favor he was able to do; nor did he ever stretch out his leg before an audience; nor did he ever lean upon something while his companion did not; nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name ; nor did he ever spit or burst into laughter; rather, his laughter was just a smile. When he was ready to eat, he seated with him all his attendants, including the doorman and the groom. He slept little at night. He spent most of his nights from begging to end (in praying or reciting the Qur'a`n). He did abundant charity, most of which was at dark nights."
These words display the Imam's noble moral traits, which are as follows:
A. He did not turn away from any of the people, whether they were his friends or his enemies; rather, he received them warmly and smiled at them.
B. He did not interrupt anyone while he was speaking; rather, he let him talk until he finished his talking.
C. Among his exalted morals is that he did not stretch out his legs before those who sat with him; rather, he sat politely.
D. He did not lean upon something while his associate did not.
E. He did not call any of his retainers or attendants a bad name even if they mistreated him.
F. He did not show haughtiness toward them; rather, he seated them with him when he was ready to eat.
G. He prayed abundantly and spent his nights in praying and reciting the Book of Allah.
H. He did a lot of good for the poor; he gave alms to them at dark nights lest none should recognize him.
These are some of the Imam's noble moral traits which Ibra`hīm b. al-'Abbas had witnessed. Another example of his morals is that when he undertook regency, the most exalted office in Islamic state, he did not order any of his supporters and retainers to carry out his many affairs; rather, he himself carried them out. The narrators have said:
"When he was in need of taking a bath, he hated to order anyone to prepare the bath for him. He went to the public bath-house in the city. The owner of the bath-house never thought that the deputy (of al-Ma'mu`n) would come to a public bath-house and wash in it; rather, he thought that the kings would take a bath in their own houses. When the Imam entered the bath-house, there was a soldier in it. The soldier removed the Imam from his place and ordered him to pour water on his head, and the Imam did. Then a man who recognized the Imam entered the bath-house, and he shouted at the soldier, saying: 'You have ruined yourself! Why have you ordered the son of the daughter of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, to give you a massage?' So the soldier felt extremely embarrassed; he kissed the Imam's foot and apologized to him, saying: 'O Son of Allah's Messenger, why did you obey me when I ordered you?' However, the Imam smiled at him and said to him gently. 'It is a reward. I did not want to disobey you in what I was rewarded.' 1"
Another example of his exalted morals is that when he was ready to eat, he seated with him his retainers even the doorman and the groom. In this manner he taught them that there was no color discrimination among men, and that they were equal. Ibra`hīm b. al-'Abbas has said: " I heard 'Ali b. Mu`sa` al-Reza` saying: 'I swear by emancipation and when I swore by it, I would emancipate one of my slaves till I emancipated each and everyone of them that I do not see myself as better than that (and he pointed to a black slave of his who remained in his service) on account of my kinship to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, except if I do a good deed which would render me better."
A man said to him: "By Allah, no person on the face of earth is nobler than you in father." He, peace be on him, said: "Reverential fear made them noble and obedience to Allah preserved them."
Another person said to him: "By Allah, you are the most meritorious of the people."
The Imam Reza(A.S.) answered him, saying: "Do not exaggerate; he who fears Allah and obeys Him is better than me. By Allah this verse has not been abrogated:
'O men! Surely we have created you of a male and female, and made you nations and tribes that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the most Allah-fearing of you; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware."
His Renunciation the World
An example of the qualities of Imam Reza(A.S.) is that he renounced the world and turned away from its pleasures and embellishments. Mohammed b. 'Abbad tells us about the Imam's ascetic conduct, saying: "Al-Reza` used to sit on a leaf mat during the summer and on a straw sack during the winter; he used to put on coarse clothes, but when he went out to meet the public, he put on his very best. "
The narrators have said: "Imam Reza(A.S.) used to wear a silk cloth. Sufyan al-Thawri met him and blamed him for wearing such a cloth, saying: "I think that you had better wear a cloth cheaper than this one.' However, the Ima`m took his hand gently and put it into his sleeve; suddenly, there was a coarse clothe under that silk one; and he, peace be on him, said to him: 'Sufyan, the silk is for men and coarse clothes are for the Truth (Allah)"
Renouncing the world was the most prominent quality in Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him. The narrators have unanimously agreed that
when he became the heir apparent (of al-Ma'mun), he paid no attention to any of the aspects of the authority and of magnification which men showed toward their kings.
There was nothing more lovable with the Imam Reza(A.S.) than doing kindness to men, and especially the poor. The historians have mentioned numerous examples of his munificence. The following are some of them:
1. When the Imam was in Khurasan, he spent on the poor all what he had on the Day of 'Arafa, so al-Fadl b. Sahl criticized him for this, saying: "Surely, this is a loss!" "Rather it is a profit," the Imam answered, "you do no damage when you spend something for reward and generosity."
2. A man came to the Imam Reza(A.S.), greeted him, and said to him: "I am one of those who love you and your fathers. I have returned from the hajj. My money has finished. I have nothing with me to reach a stage, so I ask you to send me back to my homeland. When I arrive in it, I will give what you have given to me as alms to the poor on your behalf." The Imam said to the man: "Sit down, may Allah have mercy on you." Then he turned to the people and spoke to them until they scattered. None stayed with him except Sulayma`n al-Ja'fari and Herthama.
The Imam asked them for permission and entered the house. Then he came out, closed the door, and said: "Where is al-Khurasani?" Al-Khurasani stood for him. The Imam, peace be on him, said to him: "Take this two hundred dinars, spend it on your need, and do not give it to the poor as alms on my behalf." The man went away with happiness because the blessing of the Ima`m had included him. Then Sulayma`n al-Ja'fari turned to the Imam and asked him: "May I be your ransom, you gave to the man a lot of money and had mercy on him, but why did you cover your face from him?"
He, peace be on him, replied: "I did that less I should see the abasement of begging on his face because of my accomplishing his need. Have you not heard the tradition of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family: 'He who secretly does a good deed is like him who performs the hajj seventy times; and he who openly performs an evil deed is abandoned.' Have you not heard the statement of the poet: 'When I someday come to him in order to seek my need, I return home without losing face."
3. Yet another example of his munificence is that he ordered the most delicious food to be put on a tray and to be given to the poor, and he recited this verse: "But he would not attempt the uphill road." Then he said: "Allah knows that not everyone is able to emancipate a slave, so He has regarded munificence as a path leading to the Garden."
4. Another example of his munificence and generosity is that a poor man said to him: "Give me according to the extent of your kindness."
The Imam answered him: "I cannot afford that."
The poor man paid attention to his own mistake, so he said again: "Give me according to mine."
The Imam smiled at him and said: "Yes, I will do this."
Then he ordered two hundred dinars to be given to the poor man. The Imam's acts of munificence cannot be counted. If the Ima`m had given to the poor man all his money, he would have felt that such a gift was not equal to his munificence and mercy, which was an extension to that of his grandfather, the greatest Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family.
5. Another example of his exalted acts of munificence is what has been narrated by Ahmed b. 'Ubayd Allah on the authority of al-Ghaffa`ri, who said: "A man from the family of Abu` Ra`fi', the retainer of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, called so- and-so, had me in his debt. He demanded payment from me and insisted on my paying him. When I realized that, I prayed the morning prayer in the mosque of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, and I set out to see Imam Reza(A.S.).
On that day, he was in the valley of al-'Arīd. When I got near his door, he came out. He was wearing a shirt and a clock (rida'). When I looked at him, I felt ashamed before him. When he reached me, he stood and looked at me. I greeted him.It was the month of Ramadan. I said: 'May I be your ransom, your retainer so-and-so has me in his debt. By Allah, he has spread reports of me around.'
"By Allah, I was thinking to myself, that he would tell him to leave me alone. By Allah, I had not told him how much I owed nor had I given specific details about anything. He told me to sit down until he came back. I was still there at the time when I prayed the sunset prayer. I had been fasting and I had become troubled and wanted to leave. Suddenly, he came. There was (a crowd of) people.
"Beggars were begging from him and he was giving them alms. Then he retired from them and went into his house. He came out and called me. I rose and went in with him. He sat down and I sat down with him. I began to talk to him about the governor of Medina. When I had finished, he said to me: 'I do not think that you have eaten yet?' 'Yes,' I replied.
"He called for food for me and it was put in front of me. He told the servant to eat with me. The servant and I had our fill of food. When we had finished, he said: 'Raise the cushion and take what is under it.
"I raised it and there was (many) dinars. I took them and put them in my sleeve. He told some of his servants to accompany me to my house, and they did. I went to my house and called for a lamp. I examined the dinars and they were forty-eight dinars. I only owed the man twenty-eighty dinars. On a dinar of them it was engraved: 'The debt to the man is twenty-eighty dinars and the rest is yours."
These are some acts of his generosity, and they show his noble soul which was created for kindness to people.
His Entertaining Guests
The Imam Reza(A.S.),entertained guests, bestowed liberally upon them, and he himself served them. One day a person stopped at him and he spoke to him at night. When the lamp changed, the guest hurried to set it right, but the Imam went ahead of him and he himself set it right and said to his guest: "We are the people who do not employ their guests."
His Releasing Slaves
The most lovable thing to Imam Reza(A.S.) was releasing slaves and freeing them from slavery. The narrators have said: "He (Imam Reza(A.S.)
released one thousand slaves."
His Kindness to Slaves
Imam Reza(A.S.) did a lot of good and kindness for the slaves. 'Abd Allah b. al-Salt reported on the authority of a man from the people of Balakh, who said: "I was with Imam Reza(A.S.) during his journey to Khurasan. One day he called for food and gathered his black and non-black retainers around it. Hence I asked him: 'May I be you ransom, could you please isolate food for these (retainers)? As a result, he blamed me for this and said: 'The Lord, the Blessed and Exalted, is One, the mother is one, and reward will be according to deeds."
Surely, the Ima`ms of the Household (of the Prophet), peace be on them, behaved in such a manner in order to abolish color discrimination among men and to show that they were in one mosque, and that nothing discriminated one person from another except reverential fear and good deeds.
Imam Reza(A.S.) thoroughly encompassed all sciences and knowledge. The historians and the narrators have unanimously agreed that he was the most knowledge of the people of his time, the most meritorious of them, and the most learned of them in the precepts of religion and other sciences such as philosophy and medicine. Talking about the Imam's abundant knowledge, 'Abd al-Salam al-Harawi has said:
"I have never seen a person more knowledgeable than 'Ali b. Mu`sa` al-Reza. When a religious scholar sees him, he bears witness for him (as being the most knowledgeable) as I do. Al-Ma'mun gathered for him in assemblies a number of the scholars of religions, the jurists of Islamic law, and theologians. However, he overcame them to the extent that they acknowledged his excellence (over them) and confessed their feebleness before him. I heard him say: 'I used to take my place at the theological center (rouda) and the number of the learned scholars in Medina was quite large. Yet when a question over-taxed the mind of one of those scholars, he and the rest would point at me, and they would sent me their queries, and I would answer them all."
Imam Reza(A.S.) was the most learned of the people of his time and was the highest authority in Islamic world; religious scholars and jurists would send to him their questions about Islamic precepts.
Ibrahīm b. al-'Abbas has said: "When al-Reza was questioned about a certain thing, he answered it. I have never seen that there is a person more knowledgeable than him. Al-Ma'mun examined him with questions about all things, and he answered them."
Imam Reza(A.S.) was the most eminent Muslim thinker, so he was able to develop the cultural and scientific life of the Muslims.
Al-Ma'mun has said: "I think that there is no person on the face of earth more learned than this man (i.e.Imam Reza(A.S.).
His (i.e. Imam Reza's(A.S.) debates in Khurasan, Basrah, and Ku`fa give evidence for his being the most knowledgeable on the face of earth. During those debates he was questioned about the most difficult problems and he answered them, so all the religious scholars of his time yielded to him and acknowledged his excellence over them.
His Knowledge of all Languages
Another example of his being the most knowledge person is that he could speak all languages. Abu` Isma`'īl al-Sindi has reported: "When I was in India, I heard that Allah had an Arab proof, so I went out to seek him. I was guided to al-Reza` (peace be on him), and I went to him. I could not speak Arabic. I greeted him in Sindhi, and he greeted me in my own language. I asked him in Sindhi, and he answered me in it. I said to him: 'I have heard that Allah has an Arab argument, and I have gone out to seek him. He, peace be on him, said to me: 'It is I; ask (me) about whatever you desire.' I asked him about my questions, and he (peace be on him) answered them in my own language."
Abu` al-Salt al-Hurawi has said: "Al-Reza`, peace be on him, spoke to people in their own languages. I asked him about this (quality), and he replied: 'O Abu`` al-Salt, I am Allah's proof over His creatures. Allah does not appoint over a people a proof who does not speak their own language. Have you not heard the words of the Commander of the faithful: 'We have been given sound judgment. Is this not his knowledge of languages?"
Ya`sir al-Kha`dim (the retainer) has narrated: "Abu` al-Hasan (al-Reza`), peace be on him, had in his house Byzantines and Slavs. He was close to them. He heard them speak in Slavic and Romanian, saying: 'We are visited in our homeland every year, but we are not visited here.' In the following morning he (al-Rida`) sent someone to visit them.''
Shaykh Mohammed b. al-Hasan has composed a poem concerning this quality, saying:
And his knowledge of all languages is the clearest miracle and sign.
His Acts of Worship and Reverential Fear
One of the most prominent qualities of Imam Reza(A.S.) is his devotion to Allah, the Exalted, and his clinging to Him. We can clearly see this quality in his acts of worship which represent great part of his spiritual life standing on light, Allah-fearingness, and piety. One of his companions has said: "When I saw him (al-Reza`), I mentioned these words of Him, the Exalted: They used to sleep but little in the night." Concerning his acts of worship, al-Shibra`wi has said: "Throughout the night he (al-Reza`) performed ablutions, prayed, and slept. In this manner he (continued) until the morning came."
Imam Reza(A.S.) was the most Allah-fearing of the people of his time and the most obedient of them to Allah, the Most High. Al-M'mu`n sent Raja`' b. Abu` al-Dahha`k to Medina in order to bring the Imam to Khurasan. The latter went and accompanied him on the road from Medina to Maru. He has reported the following about his acts of worship: "By Allah, I have never seen a man more (earnest) than him in seeking protection in Allah (the Great and Almighty), mentioning Him in all his times, and fearing Him. When he rose in the morning, he performed the morning prayer. When he finished his prayer and said the taslīm, he sat in his place of prayer and (began) glorifying Allah, praising Him, saying: 'Allah is Greater! There is no god but Allah! O Allah bless the Prophet and his family, may Allah bless him and his family.' He continued these phrases until the sun rose. Then he prostrated himself in prayer for a long time. Then he went to the people to speak to them and to preach to them until it was forenoon. Then he renewed his ablution and returned to his place of prayer. When the sun came near to descending (from its midday zenith), he stood and prayed six rak'as. In the first rak'a he recited the sura al-Hamd and the sura qul ya ayyuha al-kafirun. In the second rak'a he recited the sura al-Hamd and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad.
In every rak'a of the four-rak'a prayers he recited the sura al-Hamd lillah and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad, and then he recited the taslīm. Then he recited his personal prayer in the second rak'a before the kneeling and after the recitation. Then he said the adhan (the call to prayer). Then he prayed two rak'as. Then he said the iqama (the declaration of standing for prayer) and performed the noon prayer. When he recited the taslīm, he glorified Allah, praised Him, and said: 'Allah is Greater! There is no god but Allah!' He continued these phrases for a long time. Then he performed Salat al-Shukr (the prayer for giving thanks). In it he said: 'Thanks be to Allah,' for one hundred times. When he raised his head, he stood and prayed six rak'as.
In each rak'a he recited the sura al-Hamd lilla`h and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad. After each two rak'as he recited the taslīm. Then he said his personal prayer in the second rak'a before the kneeling and after the recitation. Then he said the adhan (the call to prayer). Then he prayed two rak'as and said his personal prayer in the second rak'a. When he recited the taslīm, he stood and performed the afternoon prayer. When he recited the taslīm, he sat in his place of prayer, glorified Allah, praised Him, and said: 'Allah is Greater! There is no god but Allah!' Then he prostrated himself in prayer and said one hundred times: 'Thanks be to Allah.'
"When the sun set, he performed the ritual ablution, said theadhan and iqama, and performed the three rak'as of the evening prayer. Then he said his personal prayer in the second rak'a before the kneeling and after the recitation. When he recited the taslīm, he sat in his place of prayer, glorified Allah, praised Him, and said: 'Allah is Greater! There is no god but Allah.' He recited these phrases for a long time. Then he performed Salat al-Shukr (the prayer for giving thanks). Then he raised his head and did not say anything until he stood and prayed four rak'as, finishing each two rak'as with the taslīm. Then he said his personal prayer in the second rak'a before kneeling and after the recitation. In the first rak'a of these four rak'as, he recited the sura al-hamd and the sura qul ya ayyuha al-kafirun.
In the second rak'a he recited the sura al-hamd and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad. Then he recited the taslīm. Then he sat and recited personal supplications until he entered into evening. Then he broke the fast. Then he stayed until about third of the night passed. The he stood and performed the night prayer in four rak'as. Then he said his personal prayer in the second rak'a before kneeling and after the recitation. When he recited the taslīm, he sat in his place of prayer mentioning Allah, the Great and Almighty, glorifying and praising Him, saying: 'Allah is Greater! There is no god but Allah!' He said these phrases for a long time. After saying his personal supplications, he performed Sala`t al-Shukr, and then he went to bed.
"At the last third of night he got up glorifying and praising (Allah), saying: 'Allah is greater! There is no god but Allah!' And he asked Him for forgiveness. Then he cleaned his teeth with the miswa`k (cleaning stick for teeth). Then he performed the ritual ablution. Then he stood and performed the late night payer. He said eight rak'as. After each two rak'as, he recited the taslīm. In the first two rak'as of them, he recited the sura al-hamd and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad thirty times.
"Then he performed the prayer of Ja'far b. Abu` Ta`lib, which is four rak'as. After each two rak'as, he recited the taslīm. After the second rak'a of each two rak'as, he said his personal prayer before kneeling. He regarded it as (part) of the late night prayer. Then he performed the other two rak'as. In the first rak'a he recited the sura al-hamd and the sura al-mulk. In the second rak'a he recited the sura al-hamd and the surahal ata 'ala al-insan. Then he stood and performed the two rak'as of al-Shafa'. In each rak'a he recited the sura al-hamd one time and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad three times. He said his personal prayer after the second rak'a. Then he stood and performed (the prayer of al-witr), which is onerak'a. In it he recited the sura al- hamd, the sura qul huwa Allah ahad three times, the sura qul a'u`dhu bi Rab al-falaq one time, and the sura qul a'udhu bi Rab al-nas one time. Then he said his personal prayer before the kneeling and after the recitation. He would say (the following) in his personal prayer:
"'O Allah, bless Mohammed and the Household of Mohammed. O Allah, guide us through him whom You guided, make us well through him whom You made well, attend to us through him to whom You attend, bless us in that which You have given, protect us from the evil of what You decreed, for You decree and none decrees against You. Verily he whom You befriend is not lowly, and he toward whom You show enmity is not exalted, blessed are You and high exalted!'
"Then he said seventy times: 'I ask Allah's forgiveness and seek repentance from Him.' When he recited the taslīm, he sat and recited supplications for a long time. When the dawn approached, he stood and prayed the two rak'as of the dawn. In the first rak'a he recited the sura al-hamad and the sura qul ya ayyuha al-kafirun. In the second rak'a he recited the sura al-hamad and the sura qul huwa Allah ahad. When the dawn broke, he said the adhan and the iqama and performed the prayer of the early morning in two rak'as. When he recited the taslīm, he sat and recited supplications until the sun rose. The he performed Salat al-Shukr (the prayer for giving thanks)1. "
This tradition in detail displays: the obligatory prayer of Imam Reza(A.S.)
his supererogatory prayers; the suras of the Holy Qur'an which he recited in them; and the supplications which he recited after his prayers. This means that he was always busy worshipping Allah, the Exalted.
The love for Allah dominated the Ima`m's heart, sentiments and feelings, to the extent that it was one of his qualities.
His Supplication during his Personal Prayer (qunut)
Imam Reza(A.S.) would supplicate with this supplication during his personal prayer (qunut): "The flight is toward You, O Possessor of presence and desire. The desire is for You, O He through whom is pride. You, O Allah, can see the whisperings of souls, observe the movements of hearts, and know of hidden secrets without affectation and tyranny; and You, O Allah, can see all things; but toward Your clemency they have shown audacity, disobedience, arrogance, and obstinacy; (and You can see) what Your friends suffer out of effacing the tracks of the truth, obliterating its marks, the increase of ill-deeds, the continuation of their people toward them, the appearance of falsehood, the generality of unjust and mutual consent on that (regarding) dealings and sundries; it (unjust) has become familiar and become as one of the obligatory and legislated things.
"O Allah, hasten toward him whom you help is successful, and him whom You support is not afraid of the blame of anyone, and severely punish the unjust; be neither merciful nor affectionate to them.
"O Allah, so rush toward them!
"O Allah, be quick toward them!
"O Allah, grant them not a respite!
"O Allah, punish them early in the morning and at midday, in the early dawn and by night, when sleeping, in the forenoon while playing; scheme against them when scheming; and take them by surprise while safe!
"O Allah, scatter them; disperse their helpers; decrease their aids; defeat their soldiers; reduce their limits; uproot their glory; and weaken their determinations!
"O Allah, grant us their sides; make us possess their districts; change their blessings; replace with peace our caution of them and their aggression (against us); make use control them thoroughly! O Allah, so do not withhold Your punishment, which if occur among people, evil shall then be the morning of the warned one! "
This supplications gives an account of the vengeance of the Ima`m, peace be on him, on the oppressive and tyrannical rulers of his time who drowned Islamic world in hardships and tragedies and forced the Muslims to performed what they hated. This is one of the political supplications which narrate the conditions of that time.
His Supplication during the Prayer for giving Thanks (salat al-Shukr)
Sulayma`n b. Ja'far has narrated: "We visited Imam Reza(A.S.) while he was performing the prayer for giving thanks (salat al-Shukr). He lengthened his prostration in prayer. Then he raised his head and we asked him about his long prostration. He told us that he prayed with the following supplication. He urged us to (supplicate) with it. Then he ordered us to write it, and we wrote it." The supplication is as follows:
"O Allah, curse those who altered Your religion, changed Your favor, accused Your Messenger (may Allah bless him and his Household), opposed Your religion, turned away from Your way, were ungrateful for Your boons, returned Your words to You, disdained Your Messenger, killed the (grand) son of Your Prophet, distorted Your Book, denied Your signs, sat in the assembly which was not appropriate for them, and which the people carried on the shoulders of the Household of Mohammed!
"O Allah, curse them with curses following each other, gather them and their followers blue-eyed in the Hell-fire!
"O Allah, we seek nearness to You through cursing them and renouncing them in this world and the next!
"O Allah, curse those who killed the Commander of the faithful and al-Husayn b. 'Ali and Fa`tima, daughter of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his Household.
"O Allah, increase them in chastisement to chastisement, humiliation to humiliation, abasement to abasement, and disgrace to disgrace!
"O Allah, drive them away to the Fire with violence and return them to Your painful chastisement with a return!
"O Allah, gather them and their followers in the Hell-fire in group! O Allah, divide their gathering; scatter their affair; make their words disagree with each other; disperse their unity; curse their Ima`ms; kill their leaders, their masters, and their eldest ones; curse their heads; break their banars; spread terror among them; and leave not any dweller of them!
"O Allah, curse Abu` Jahl and al-Walīd with curses following one another! O Allah curse them with a curse through which curse every angel brought nigh, every prophet sent out, and every believer whose heart You examine for faith!
O Allah curse them with a curse from which the inhabitants of the Fire seek refuge, and which does not come into anyone's mind! O Allah, curse them in Your hidden secret and Your manifest openness, chastise them with a chastisement in the ordination, and let their partners be their followers and their lovers! Verily You hear supplication!1"
This supplication shows that the Ima`m was indignant with some Caliphs who controlled without any right the general authority of the country, and hence they brought about woe and destruction to Islamic world through preventing the pure Household of the Prophet from undertaking authority while they were the most learned of others in the affairs and precepts of Isla`m. This great supplication is one of the political supplications.
The Imam uses Supplication as Weapon
Yet another quality of the Ima`m's spiritual life is that he practiced supplication as a weapon through praying to Allah and referring to Him in all his affairs, for he found in it (supplication) a spiritual enjoyment which none of the enjoyments of life equaled it. We will mention his statements concerning the importance of supplication before we present some of his supplications.
Supplication is the Weapon of the Prophets
The Imam urged his companions to supplicate Allah and said to them: "Adhere to the weapon of the prophets!"
"What is the weapon of the prophets?" he was asked.
"Supplication," he replied.
Imam Reza(A.S.) advised his companions to conceal supplication, and that man should supplicate his Lord secretly, that none may know of him. He, peace be on him, has said:
"A servant's secret supplication equals seventy open supplications."
Slowness in Answering Supplication
Imam Reza(A.S.) spoke about the reasons for the slowness in responding to supplication. Ahmed b. Mohammed b. Abu` Nasr has narrated: [ I (i.e. Ahmed) said to Abu` al-Hasan (i.e.Imam Reza(A.S.): May I be your ransom, I have asked a need from Allah since so-and-so year, and something have entered my heart because of slowness (in answering it). He, peace be on him, declared:] "O Ahmed, beware of that Satan makes a way against you in order to make you despair (of Allah's mercy). Abu` Ja'far (i.e. Ima`m al-Ba`qir), the blessings of Allah be upon him, said: 'The believer asks his need from Allah, the Great and Almighty, but He delays responding to him out of love for his voice and listening to his wailing.'"
Then he said: "By Allah, what Allah, the Great and Almighty, sets behind the believers in this world is better than what He sets before them therein. What a thing is the world? Abu` Ja'far would say: 'The believer's supplication during ease should be similar to that of his during hardship. He should not flag (in supplicating) when he is given. Therefore, be not tired of supplication, for it is of great position with Allah, the Great and Almighty. Adhere to patience, seeking the lawful, and tightening your bonds of kin. Beware of showing open enmity toward men, for we, the members of the House, tighten ties with him who cut us and treat kindly him who mistreats us, hence we, by Allah, see through that the good final result. If the possessor of a favor (strives for gathering) sample funds, then he is not satisfied with anything. When favors become abundant, the Muslim is in danger because of the duties incumbent upon him and the trial through them.'"
"Tell me, if I say some words to you, will you trust them?" asked Imam Reza(A.S.)
"May I be your ransom, if I do not trust you, then whom shall I trust?" retorted Ahmed, "You are the proof of Allah over His creatures."
"Therefore, have more confidence in Allah, for you will meet him, replied the Imam, "don't Allah, the Great and Almighty, say: And when My servants ask you concerning me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on me ; don't He say: do not despair of the mercy of Allah; and don't He say: and Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. Therefore, have confidence in Allah more than you have in other than Him. Place nothing in your soul except good, and you will be forgiven. "
The Imam has mentioned the causes which hold back supplication and delay response and, in addition, he has urged (Muslims) to follow the morals of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them.
His Amulet (hirz)
The Ima`m, peace be on him, would use this holy supplication as weapon: "In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. O He to whom there is neither likeness nor similitude! You are Allah!
There is no god but you; nor is there a creator except You! You perish the creatures and You remain! You are clement toward him who disobeys You! And Your good pleasure is in forgiveness!"
He also clung to this great supplication: "I have submitted, O my Protector, to you; I have submitted my own soul to You; I have entrusted the whole affairs of mine to You! I am Your servant, son of Your servant. So hide me in Your cover from the evil from among Your creatures, protect me from every harm and evil through Your kindness, and spare me the evil of every possessor of evil through Your power!
"O Allah, I seek protection in You from him who schemes against me or desires ill for me! Close the eyes of the oppressive from me, for You are my helper! There is no god but You, O Most Merciful of the merciful and Lord of the worlds! I ask you to be sufficient against harm, (to give me) well-being, recovery, help against the enemies, and success for what You love and accept, O Our Lord! O Lord of the worlds! O All-compeller of the heavens and earth! O Lord of Mohammed and his good, pure Household! Your blessings be upon all of them!"
The Imam, peace be on him, submitted himself and all his affairs to the One, the Subducer who has power over all things. He clung to the above-mentioned supplication, that Allah might turn away from him the trickery of aggressors and oppression of wrongdoers.
Some of his Supplications
Some holy supplications have been reported from Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him. They are as follows:
1. The following is his supplication in seeking security and faith: "O He who gives me evidence for Himself and humiliates my heart through certainty in Him, I ask from You security and faith in this world and the next!"
This supplication, though short, contains a proof of the Oneness of Allah; the proof is that Allah makes His creatures profess His existence through the wonders of this universe.
2. He, peace be on him, would supplicate with this great supplication: "O Allah, give me guidance; make me steadfast toward it; muster me according to it; make me safe with the safety of him upon whom there is neither fear nor sorrow nor impatience; You are worthy of reverential fear and worthy to forgive!"
3. He taught the following holy supplication to his companion and student, Musa b. Bukayr. He said to him: "Memorize what I write to you. Supplicate with it during every hardship of which you are afraid." The supplication is as follows: "In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. O Allah, my many sins have made me lose face before You, prevented me from being worthy of Your mercy, and kept me away from deserving Your forgiveness! I have adhered to Your boons and clung to supplicating You, for You have promised those who are like me in acting extravagantly (against their own souls), making errors, and despairing of Your mercy through Your words:
Say: O My servants who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surly Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. You have warned those who despair of Your mercy and said: And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord but the erring ones. Then You have summoned us through Your mercy to supplicate You, thus You have said: Call upon me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My mercy shall soon enter hell abased.
"O my Lord, hopelessness has covered me, and despair of Your mercy has wrapped me! O my Lord, You have promised to reward him who has good opinion in You and to punish him who has bad opinion in You! O Allah, my eye has been seized by good opinion of You in releasing my neck from the Fire, covering my slips, releasing (me) from my stumble! O Allah, Your words, which have neither alteration nor change, are true: (Remember) the day when We will call every people with their Imam.
That is the Day of Resurrection when the trumpet shall be blown and what is in the graves shall be raised. I believe, witness, confess, do not deny, do not renege, conceal, announce, manifest, and hide that You are Allah, there is no god but You, One with no partner with You, that Mohammed is Your servant and messenger, may Allah bless him and his Family, and that 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, master of the testamentary trustees, inheritor of knowledge of the prophets, emblem of religion, destroyer of the hypocrites, the fighter against the Renegades (Mariqīn), my Ima`m, my proof, my handle, my path, my guide, and my argument.
I do not trust my deeds though pure; nor do I see that they will save me though righteous but through (showing) friendship to him, following his example, acknowledging his great virtues, accepting from those who delivered them, and submitting to those who narrated them. I confess that his testamentary trustees from among his grandsons are Ima`ms, arguments, guides, lamps, guideposts, lighthouses, masters, and pious. I believe in their secret, their openness, their outward, their inward, their present, their absent, their living, and their dead. In that there is neither doubt nor suspicion nor change when You turn away (from that).
"O Allah, summon me on the day of my mustering and my resurrecting through their Ima`mate, and save me, O My Protector, from the heat of the Fires through them, and supply me with the repose of the Gardens! Surely, if You release me from the Fire, I will be one of the achievers. O Allah, I rose in the morning of this day of mine (while) I have neither confidence nor hope nor asylum nor place of flight nor shelter except those through whom I seek access to You, seeking nearness to Your Messenger Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his Family, then 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, al-Zahra`', the mistress of the women of the worlds, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, and the one after them who will pave the way for the hidden proof from among his children, hoped for the community after him.
"O Allah, make them in this day and after it my fortress against detested things and my stronghold against fears; save me through them from every enemy, tyrant, oppressor, sinner, the evil of what I know, what I deny, what has hidden from me, what I see, and the evil of every crawling creature that You have taken by the forelock! Surely You are on a straight path.
"O Allah, through my seeking access through them to You, seeking nearness to You through showing love for them, fortifying myself with their Ima`mate, open for me the doors to Your provision; spread upon me Your mercy; make Your creatures love me; turn me aside from their detest and their enmity! Verily You are powerful over everything.
"O Allah, there is reward for everyone (who) seek access (through them to You); there is right for all the possessors of intercession, hence by him whom You have appointed as Your friend and placed ahead my request, I ask You to make me recognize the blessing of this day of mine, this month of mine, and this year of mine!
"O Allah, they are my place of flight and my help during my hardship, my ease, my well-being, my tribulation, my sleep, my wakefulness, my departure, my residence, my difficulty, my facility, my openness, my secret, my morning, my evening, my movement, my habitation, my secret, and my publicity! O Allah, through them, disappoint me not of Your favor; cut not my hope from Your mercy; disappoint me not of Your repose; tempt me not with the closure of the doors to provisions and of the ways to them; open for me an easy opening from You; appoint for me a way out from every hardship and a road for every plenty! Surely, You are the Most Merciful of the merciful. May Allah bless Mohammed and his pure Household! Amen, Lord of the world!"
This supplication gives an account of the firm clinging of the Ima`m to Allah, the Exalted, and his absolute obedience to Him. Also it gives an account of the outstanding merits of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on him, who are the emblems of religion and gatekeepers of the wisdom of the Master of messengers.
4. The Ima`m, peace be on him, would recite this supplication for seeking provision and plentiful livelihood. He would recite it after each obligatory prayer. It is as follows: "O He Who possesses the needs of the askers and knows the minds of those who are silent! There is a present hearing and ready response to every request from You. There is encompassing, inner knowledge of all those silent before you. I ask You by Your truthful promises, Your generous benefits, Your boundless mercy, Your conquering authority, Your everlasting kingdom, Your perfect words, O He whom the obedience of the obedient does not profit nor does the disobedience of the disobedient harm, bless Mohammed and his Household; provide me with some of Your bounty; and give me that through which You provide me with well-being, through Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful!"
5. This is another example of his holy supplications: "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. O Allah! O Possessor of comprehensive power, boundless mercy, uninterrupted kindnesses, successive boons, beautiful benefits, and great gifts! O He who created (men) and provided (them) with the means of subsistence, inspired (them) and made (them) utter, originated (them) and made laws (for them), is exalted and high, ordained and did well, formed and did excellently, advanced an argument and delivered (it), bestowed lavishly upon (men), gave (them) generously, granted (them) and did a favor for (them)! O He who is exalted in mightiness, so swift sight escapes Him, and is close in gentleness, so misgiving thoughts pass Him! O He who is unique in kingdom, so there is no equal for Him in the kingdom of His authority and is One in magnificence, so there is no rival in the invincibility of His station.
He by whose magnificence the subtlest of imaginations are bewildered, and the swiftest of the eyes of mankind fall short of knowing His might! O He who knows the thoughts of the hearts of men and sees the glances of beholder's eyes! Faces are humble in awe of Him; necks are submissive to His mightiness and majesty; hearts are afraid out of fear of Him; and limbs tremble in terror of Him! O All-apparent! O All-hearing! O All-high! O Exalted! Bless him who makes prayer honorable through calling down blessings upon him; take vengeance on him who has wronged me, made light of me, dismissed the Shī'ites from my door; let him taste the bitterness of abasement as he has made me taste it; make him outcast among those who commit abominable acts and those who are impure! Praise belongs to Allah! May Allah bless Mohammed and his good, pure Household!"
This supplication is abound with praising and lauding Allah with the most beautiful kind of laudation. Also it is filled, especially at the end of it, with oppression, harm, and persecutions which were brought about to the Ima`m by al-Ma'mu`n, the 'Abba`sid Caliph, who dismissed the Shī'ites of the Ima`m, and made light of him. That was when Islamic world admired the position of the Ima`m and his great personality, and when it came to know that al-Ma'mu`n had an insignificant character void of morals which were necessary for the office of the caliphate over the Muslims. This supplication demonstrates that the Ima`m was so displeased with al-Ma'mu`n that he invoked Allah against him.
6. Yet another example of his holy supplications is following: "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. O Allah, to You belongs praise for repelling afflictions which come down, the misfortunes of adversity, calamities, and the continuous rush of the lavishness of favors! To You belongs praise for Your wholesome bestowal and Your praiseworthy trial! To You belongs praise for Your great beneficence, Your dear good, Your easy imposing, and Your repelling difficulties! To You belongs praise for Your making fruitful little gratitude, Your giving abundant reward, Your lessening the weight of heavy sins, Your accepting narrow excuse, Your lifting up burdensome time, Your making easy difficult places, and Your preventing Your decisive command! To You belongs praise for driving away tribulations, abundant favor, repelling fearful things, and abasing the tyrannical! To You belongs praise for little obligation, plentiful reduction, strengthening the weak, and aiding the troubled! To You belongs praise for your abundant disregard, Your lasting bounty, Your taking away the barrenness of land, Your praiseworthy acts, and Your uninterrupted gifts! To You belongs praise for delaying immediate punishment, leaving sudden chastisement, making easy the paths of return (to You), and sending down the rain of clouds! Verily, You are All-gracious, All-Bestower!1 " This supplication contains a group of phrases which laud and praise Allah, the Exalted, the Creator of the universe and Giver of life.
These are some of the Ima`m's supplications which reveal part of his spiritual life, namely he devoted himself to Allah, communicated with Him, and held fast to His cord. With this supplication we will end our speech about some qualities of the Imam's holy character.