Imam Reza's Titles
“Or do they envy the people for what Allah has given them out of His grace? We have certainly given the progeny of Ibrahim the Book and wisdom, and we have given them a great kingdom”. (4:54)
Imam Ja’ffar as-Sadiq (as) was asked, “Who are these people mentioned in this verse, whom Allah (SWT) has favoured but people are jealous of them?” Imam (as) replied, “We are those people upon whom others are jealous”. (Tafseer-e-Namoona)
In other words, it is the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (saww) upon whom people were jealous! Why? Because Allah (SWT), out of His grace, gave them Mulk an- Azeemah meaning ‘great kingdom’ and this kingdom is in reference to the ‘Imamate’ (Divine Leadership) of our Aimma (as).
Imam Reza's Mother
Imam ar-Reza (as) was born on the 11th of Dhul-Qa’dah in the year 153 AH in Madinatul-Munawwarah. He (as) is the son of our seventh Imam, Imam Musa ibn Ja’ffar al-Kazim (as) and Ummul-Baneen, who is also referred to as Bibi Najma (as) or Kheizraan (as). History tells us that the mother of our eighth Imam (as) was a non-Arab and in her days, she was well known as Afdhalun-Nisaa meaning ‘ the best of all women’. There are two incidents that have been related about this great lady:
[Hameeda Khatoon (as), the mother of our seventh Imam (as) purchased a slave girl and named her Takattum. This slave girl was very intelligent, religious and she also possessed highest level of decency and bashfulness in herself. She always used to accord highest degree of respect to her mistress- Bibi Hameeda (as) so much so that she never even sat with her on account of her respect for her. Bibi Hameeda (as) was extremely satisfied with her and proposed her son, our seventh Imam (as), to take her into a relationship because she was confident that she would bear him good offspring. Our seventh Imam (as) accepted her and our eighth Imam (as) was born from her womb.] (Ahsanul-Muqaal)
[Bibi Hameeda Khatoon – the mother of our seventh Imam (as) – saw the Holy Prophet (saww) in her dream who instructed her to marry her son Musa (as) with Bibi Najma (as) and also added that: “She will soon give birth to a son, who will be the best of his time on the face of this earth”. When our 8th Imam (as) was born, Imam al-Kazim (as) came and congratulated his wife for being chosen as the mother of an Imam…and then recited Adhan and Iqamah in the ears of his child and named him ‘Ali (as).] (Chauda Sitaare)
Imam Reza's Titles
In history, he (as) is popularly known as Abul-Hasan ar-Reza meaning ‘the father of al-Hasan – one with whom Allah (SWT) is extremely pleased’. It is narrated that our eighth Imam (as) was called ar-Reza because throughout his life, his Muwaafiqeen and Mukhaalifeen (friends and foes) were generally satisfied and pleased with him.
[Once during the days of our ninth Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (as), some people spread the rumour that the title of his father ar-Reza was given to him by Mamun. When the Imam (as) heard this, he (as) said,
“This is not true! This title was bestowed upon my father in view of the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and His prophet (saww).My father earned this title because all the people – friends and foes alike- were pleased by his personality”.] (Ahsanul-Muqaal)
The other most popular title of our eighth Imam (as) is that of Imam al-Thaamin al-Zamin meaning ‘the eighth Imam – who is the guarantor’. We Shia’hs have this practice that whenever we travel, we tie some money in a band around the right arm and call it the money of Imam Zamin. This is in reference to our eighth Imam (as) whom we consider as our guarantor in safety and success during our travels. Where did this concept come from?
Once a thief was brought to the court of Mamoon for Judgement. The king immediately ruled that his hands should be chopped off. But the thief protested and said that the king could not do this due to three reasons:
Firstly, the king was responsible for creating such an economical climate whereby poverty was on increase and that he had no choice but to steal to feed his family. Secondly, the thief claimed that he was a Sayyid (a descendant of the prophet) and he accused the king, rightly so, of stopping ‘Khums’ from reaching him. And thirdly, he said that he was a free man whereas the king was a slave! And as such a slave cannot punish free men.
When the king heard this, he was extremely infuriated and asked the thief about this riddle that he was a slave whereas the thief was a free man. The thief said, “Your father had bought a female slave from public treasury (and not his personal wealth) and you were born from her womb. This means that you remain as a slave and are considered as public property”. All this was too much for the king so he sought the help of Imam ar-Reza (as). Imam (as) said, “The thief was correct and his hands cannot be cut”. Hence, it was the Zamanat of Imam (as)’s knowledge and wisdom that saved the poor thief’s hands from being cut.
Once Imam (as) was passing by through wilderness when a deer, which was being followed by a hunter came running to Imam (as) and said something to him. Indeed a divine Imam (as) understands and speaks all the languages including that of the birds and animals. Imam al-Baqir (as) has said,
“We have been taught the language of the birds and we have been given of everything”.
As soon as the deer spoke to Imam (as), Imam (as) interrupted the hunter and said, “The deer has requested that it be spared for the time being as it had to go and feed her two kids. She has promised to return to the same spot and then you can killer her and sell her flesh”. The hunter was puzzled and asked, “How can you understand its language and what’s the guarantee that the deer will return?” Imam (as) said, “I will give the guarantee and I will stand at the spot until it returns”. The hunter let the deer go and meanwhile, many people gathered around to see the spectacle. After feeding its two kids, the deer returned and stood at the same spot. It also asked the Imam (as) to take care of her two kids and that she was ready to be killed. People were amazed by this miracle. Even the hunter gave up the idea of killing that deer and this started off the tradition of Imam-e-Zamin, which means ‘ the Imam who guards’.