Nov 08, 2018 06:55 UTC

Today, as we wind up the two-month period of mourning for Imam Husain (AS) and the immortal martyrs of Karbala, we also commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Imam of the blessed household of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). We have prepared for you an exclusive feature on the Imam who reposes in peace in Khorasan, in northeastern Iran.

Today, holy Mashhad is the cynosure of all eyes. Millions of people from all over Iran and from other parts of the world have converged on this city in Khorasan to pay homage at the most blessed spot in the country. They are the honoured guests of the Prophet's 8th Infallible Successor, whose martyrdom anniversary we are commemorating today. Millions of others who could not make the journey have their hearts glued to the sprawling golden-domed shrine, where angels descend from heaven to salute Imam Reza (AS) and to give tidings to the true believers who make the pilgrimage from far and near. Surely, the glory of those exalted by God Almighty cannot be the least marred even if vandals and terrorists desecrate their shrines and bar the faithful from visiting them.

Imam Reza (AS) needs no introduction. His name was Ali (AS), and he was born on the 11th of Zil-Qa'dah in the city of Medina in the year 148 AH, 16 days after the martyrdom through poisoning of his grandfather, Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (AS), who had predicted that his grandson Ali ibn Musa (AS), will be laid to rest in the distant land of Khorasan. Similar sayings are also related from Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) regarding the resting place of Imam Reza (AS), and the rewards, both in this world and in afterlife, for pilgrims visiting his shrine.

The mother of Imam Reza (AS) was the most virtuous lady of her time. She was originally from Nubia in Africa and her name was Taktoum. She was also called Najma.

Imam Reza (AS) was 35 years old, when his father, Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS) was martyred in the prison of Baghdad by the Abbasid tyrant, Haroun Rashid. For the next ten years, the 8th Imam had to endure the reign of terror of Haroun, at whose death the empire was split up between his sons Amin and Mamoun. For five years the impetuous Amin made a mockery of Islam and the laws of God, before he was killed by his crafty brother Mamoun in the war to become the supreme ruler.

Imam Reza (AS) spent 17 years of his 20-year imamate in Medina enlightening the Muslims, a factor that alarmed the articulate Mamoun, whose capital was in distant Khorasan in the city of Marv, which is presently in the Republic of Turkmenistan.

Mamoun, afraid of the popularity of the 8th Imam, forced him to come to his capital, and there against his will declared him as heir-apparent, in an act that was designed to deceive the Ummah. He even struck coins in the Imam's name as part of his vain plot to tarnish the image of imamate.

Imam Reza (AS) was the least perturbed and in the almost three years he was in Khorasan, he admirably maintained the simple lifestyle of the Ahl al-Bayt and endeared himself to the people even more.

According to Ibrahim bin Abbas, an official of the Abbasid caliphate, who has left an eyewitness account of the impeccable character of Imam Reza (AS): He never irritated others by verbal or practical teasing; he did not interrupt others’ speeches and waited till they finished speaking before speaking himself; he never turned down the requests of others; he never stretched his legs in the presence of others; he was never angry at his servants; he never spit his saliva out in the presence of others; at meals all his servants including porters and even the stablemen were served in his attendance; he used to stay up all night invoking Allah the Almighty; he used to fast most of the days, and would always gave alms in secret.

It is not possible for a brief radio programme to focus on the memorable life of a personality as immortal as Imam Reza (AS). Here we cite an account given by Ibn Sekkit, a great literary scholar of his era, who was to be martyred in a most cruel manner by the Godless Abbasid caliph Mutawakkel.

Ibn Sekkit says: "I once asked Imam Reza (AS), as to why Allah decreed different miracles for each prophet? (For instance) He sent Moses with miracles of the staff and the white palm; Jesus with the power to heal; and Muhammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) with the miracle of eloquence?"

Imam Reza (AS) replied: “When Allah appointed Moses as a Prophet, magic and supernatural acts were common among people rather than science. Moses, therefore, was given a miracle that people had never seen before and could not comprehend it. With this miracle, he was able to expose the works of the magicians -- as mere trickery -- and give them convincing proof (of God's monotheism). In the days of Jesus, diseases without cure were widespread. Science and medication were in high demand. So Jesus was granted the miracle of healing all diseases, a power not known to the people, for he restored the dead to life, and healed genetic blindness as well as leprosy. However, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) was appointed at a time when poetry and eloquence in language was at its peak among the people. With the revelation of the Holy Qur'an and its teachings, Allah established the undeniable proof of His Majesty.

The crafty Mamoun, who was terrified of the popularity of the 8th Imam amongst the Muslims, fatally poisoned him through a bunch of grapes. As a result, the Imam left the mortal world in the year 203 AH, and was laid to rest at the spot which soon grew into a centre of pilgrimage as Mashhad ar-Reza or the Place of Martyrdom of Imam Reza (AS). Over the centuries it has been shortened to Mashhad, and is the most holy spot in Iran.

Today there is no sign of Mamoun and the Abbasids, while Imam Reza (AS) reigns supreme from Mashhad where millions of pilgrims from all over Iran and the world have assembled at the sprawling golden-dome shrine to felicitate his birth anniversary, and seek his intercession with God on the Day of Resurrection when every nation will be raised with their Imam(s).