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Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Published on 3rd May, 2003

Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Imam Ali Al-Ridha ('a) 

By Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadhlullah

Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadhlullah

Praise be to Allah Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be on our master, Muhammad, his purified progeny, his selected companions and all God’s Messengers.

One of the Imams whom Allah (swt) has purified is the eighth Imam Ali bin Musa Al-Ridha ('a), whose death anniversary is, the last day of Safar.

Imam Ridha ('a), the infallible Imam who represents the extension of the Message through the call as well as through the response to all their practical spiritual and cultural needs, gained the trust and respect of the Islamic world of his time. He witnessed extraordinary events that none of the other Imams encountered.

When Al-Mamoun was victorious in his conflict with his brother Al-Amin, he decided that the caliphate should be removed from Al-Abbasids who stood against him and asked the Imam to be his heir apparent. The Imam refused, because his legitimacy as an Imam was not derived from the Abbasids, but rather by the Divine Will of Allah (swt). But he then decided to accept, having seen that he might be able to serve the Muslims in a better and more comprehensive way, and preserve the followers of the Members of the House. He opted to accept but in accordance to certain conditions.

Unification is the Basis

Al-Mamoun wanted him to come to Toos where he lived. On his way to Toos he was welcomed in every town and village in an unprecedented manner, which made Al-Mamoun’s supporters worry. In any case, he was asked by those who used to memorize the traditions wherever he stopped to recite some of them. At one place he started by what was known as the "Golden Chain":

My father Musa Ibn Jaafar ('a) told me that his father, Jaafar Ibn Muhammad ('a) told him that his father Muhammad Ibn Ali told him that his father Ali Ibn Hussein told him that his father Hussein Ibn Ali ('a) told him that his father Ali Ibn Abi Talib ('a) told him that the Messenger told him that Jibrail said that Allah has said:

“The phrase ‘there is no god except Allah’ is My fort, whoever enters My fort will be safe from my punishment.”

In choosing this tradition the Imam wanted to underscore the fact that the oneness of Allah (swt) is the basis of Islam. Meaning that Muslims worship and obey Allah alone. If they want to be associated with any sacred person it will be through Allah (swt). One cannot be attached to them separately, for they are Allah's creation like all other human beings. If Allah loves them more it is because they were faithful and dedicated to Him.

Thus, asking them directly and separately to fulfil your needs is an act of ascribing partners to Allah (swt). Nevertheless, we can ask them to intercede for us, knowing that Allah accepts the intercession of whomever He pleases. He is the Sustainer, the Creator, and the Divider. He is everything and all those who drew near to Him did so as a result of their obedience and piety. We should always remember this point to remain free of the exaggerations that undermine our religion.

The Imam had a big reception when he arrived at Toos, which almost threatened the caliphate. For they were not used to see an heir apparent of this sublime morals devotion, piety and knowledge. Once, Mamoun asked him to perform the Eid prayer, he went to the mosque barefooted and bareheaded as the Prophet ('s) used to with people running behind him saying Allahu Akbar. Mamoun was so afraid of the scene that he sent somebody to tell him to return home with the excuse that it was a very tiresome task.

This is the tragedy that the Members of the House have lived: They did not assume a ruling role, as was their right, yet the actual rulers were afraid from them as a result of the confidence the people had in them.

The Commitment to the Members of the House to the Message

This is Imam Al-Ridha ('a) who filled his era with knowledge and piety, goodness and justice. When we remember this Imam as well as all the others, we have to recall their recommendations and teachings. They are the Imams of Islam in all times and not just the era they lived in:

That is what Imam Al-Ridha ('a) said: 

"Revive our cause; may Allah have mercy on one who revives our cause". 

When asked how to do that he said: 

"Keep our cause alive. May Allah have mercy on those who keep it alive by learning our sciences, and spreading them among the people. If they know that we call for the good they will follow us."

Thus, all Muslims and especially the followers of Ahl Al-Bayt ('a) should study the scientific religious heritage of Ahl Al-Bayt ('a), and their sayings that have to do with man's relation with himself, his household, his community, and all the positions and actions he takes in his life.

Some might feel that the important thing is to cry in the Ashura ceremonies, but they do not care about learning the lessons of what happened.  They also think that what matters is the speaker’s beautiful voice, but if he does not make us cry, we will consider him unsuccessful regardless of the content of his address. What is important is to make us cry even if the speech tends to be fictitious and fantastical.

All the Imams have time and again explained to us that to be lawful to them and to follow their line of thought is to fear Allah (swt) and obey Him. Imam Al-Baqir ('a) also added that they should be known by their humbleness and trustworthiness.

This is what we should understand as we prepare ourselves to visit Imam Al-Husayn ('a). Visiting the Imam does not mean kissing his shrine or reciting some of the supplications that you might understand. It is to remember his teachings and everything he stood for and consider them as a role model to emulate.

May Allah grant us His blessings.

Walhamdo Lillahi Rabbil Aalameen

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