Martyrdom of Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha (as) | 17th Safar
مؤسسة الامام المهدي ( عج ) للمرجعية
مؤسسة الامام المهدي ( عج ) للمرجعية
Imam Ali al-Ridha was brought up under the holy guidance of his father for thirty-five years. His own insight and brilliance in religious matters combined with the excellent training and education given by his father made him unique in his spiritual leadership. Imam al-Ridha was a living example of the piety of the great Prophet and the chivalry and generosity of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim was well aware of the aggressive designs of the government in power against the Imamate and therefore, during his lifetime he declared Imam al-Ridha as his successor in the presence of hundred and seventy-one prominent religious divines and called upon his sons and his family to submit to him and refer to him in all matters after him. He also left behind a written document declaring the succession of Imam al-Ridha duly signed and endorsed by not less than sixteen prominent persons.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim was poisoned while he was still in prison and expired on 25th Rajab 183 AH, and on the same day Imam al-Ridha was declared as the Eighth Imam of the Muslim world. Imam al-Ridha had the great task before him of coming out with the correct interpretation of the Holy Qur'an; specially under the most unfavorable circumstances prevailing under the government of Haroon al-Rashid. Many belonging to the faith were imprisoned and those who were free and could not be jailed faced untold atrocities and sufferings. Imam ar-Ridha, of course, stamped his impression upon his age by carrying on the mission of the Great Prophet in a peaceful manner even during the most chaotic periods, and it was mostly due to his efforts that the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his descendants became widespread.
Imam al-Ridha, had great popularity, love, loyalty and respect from who ever saw him or heard him speak. al-Ma'mun, the king, was conscious of the fact that his rule will not survive for long if he also did not express his loyalty to the great Imam. al-Ma'mun was a very shrewd person. He made a plan to invite Imam al-Ridha and to offer him the heirship to the throne. The Imam was summoned by a royal decree and was compelled, under the circumstances, to leave Medina - where he was living a quiet life - and present himself at the royal court of al-Ma'mun.
On his arrival, al-Ma'mun showed him hospitality and great respect, then he said to him: "I want to get rid of myself of the caliphate and vest the office in you." But al-Ridha refused his offer. Then al-Ma'mun repeated his offer in a letter saying: "If you refuse what I have offered you, then you must accept being the heir after me." But again al-Ridha refused his offer vigorously.
al-Ma'mun summoned him privately and he said threatening, "Umar ibn al-Khattab made a committee of consultation (shird) (to appoint a successor). Among them was your forefather, the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib. (Umar) stipulated that any of them who opposed the decision should be executed. So there is no escape for you from accepting what I want from you. I will ignore your rejection of it."
In reply, al-Ridha said: "I will agree to what you want of me as far as succession is concerned on condition that I do not command, nor order, nor give legal decisions, nor judge, nor appoint, nor dismiss, nor change anything from how it is at present." al-Ma'mun accepted all of that.
Even after the declaration of succession when there was every opportunity for the Imam to live a splendid worldly royal life, he did not pay any heed to material comforts and devoted himself completely to imparting the true Islamic conception of the Prophet's teachings and the Holy Qur'an. He spent most of his time praying to God and serving the people.
Taking full advantage of the concessions given to him by virtue of his elevated position in the royal court, he organized the majalis (meetings) commemorating the martyrdom of the martyrs of Karbala. These majalis were first held during the days of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, but Imam al-Rida gave the majalis a new impetus by encouraging those poets who wrote effective poems depicting the moral aspects of the tragedy and the suffering of Imam Hussain and his companions.
al-Ma'mun had been very scared of the growing popularity of the Imam and he had appointed him as his heir to the throne only for the fulfillment of his own most ambitious and sinister designs to get the Imam's endorsement to his tricky plans. But the Imam naturally refused to give his endorsement to any such plans which were against the teaching of Islam. al-Ma'mun therefore became very disappointed with him and decided once and for all to check his growing popularity and ensuring his own survival by killing the Imam. Wanting to do it in a more subtle manner, he invited the Imam to dinner, and fed him poisoned grapes. The Imam died on the 17th of Safar 203 AH, he was buried in Tus (Mashhad) and his Grand Shrine speaks well for the great personality the Imam possessed. Myriads of Muslims visit his Shrine every year to pay their homage to this Imam.
al-Imam al-Ridha, peace be on him, said:
"Doing seven things without doing the seven other things is self-mockery: asking for forgiveness from Allah verbally without repenting with the heart; asking for Allah's help without undertaking any effort; making a firm resolution to do something without taking due precautions; asking Allah for Paradise without enduring the related hardships; beseeching deliverance from the Hell-fire without refraining from lusts; remembering Allah without anticipating to encounter Him."