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Published on 9th September, 2002

Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi ('a)

By S.Abidin

Shrine of Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (a) in Samarra, Iraq.

"Better than the good deed is the one who performs it. And more beautiful than the beauty (of speech) is the sayer of it (decent words). And superior to the knowledge is it's bearer and carrier. And worse than the evil is it's attracter. 
And more horrible than the horror is the one who rides it." 
- Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (a)

The beautiful words of our Holy Imam abu'l Hasan Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi ('a) have inspired the Shi'ah from the time he was born until today, and will continue to do so. His words are the words of Allah's Apostle (s) and his descendents, the Holy Ahlul Bayt ('a). 

As his titles indicate, the Holy Imam ('a) is a Pure One (Naqi) and a Guide (Hadi). He is the son of Imam Mohammad al-Jawad al-Taqi and his Mother's name is Sumanah. He was born in Surya, Medina, on the 2nd Rajab in 212 AH (the disputed date being 15th Zul Hijah) and he continued to live in the Apostle's city, Medina, for the first half of his life.

At the age of 6 years, his Father ('a) was martyred, leaving Imam an-Naqi ('a) as the next divinely chosen guide. As the Imam of his age, he and his family were left in relative peace by the ruling Abbasid Caliphs, al-Wathiq and Mutawakkil for about 10 years. This changed when Mutawakkil, who was the 10th Abbasid Caliph, began to harass the Imam ('a) as a result of the jealousy and enmity felt towards this righteous descendent of Rasoolullah ('s). 

Samarra in Iraq

To achieve his sinful goals, Mutawakkil summoned Imam an-Naqi ('a) to Samarra in Iraq. The Imam (a) was more than fully aware of the evil intentions of the Caliph, but considered the dangerous consequences of his not accepting the summons, and prepared to leave Medina.

Pleasant Gardens and Flowing Rivers

Upon his ('a) arrival in Samarra, the Imam ('a) was put into the Inn of al-Sa'alik for one day. On this day, Salih bin Sa'id visited Imam an-Naqi (a) and said:

"May I be your ransom, in every matter they are only concerned to extinguish your light and to diminish you so that they have put you to stay in this hideous inn - the Inn of al-Sa'alik."

The Imam ('a) replied: "Here you are, Ibn Sa'id" and indicated with his hand. Suddenly, Ibn Sa'id found himself amid pleasant gardens and flowing rivers and gardens in which were perfumed plants and beautiful maidens like veiled pearls. He has stated that his sight became confused and his amazement was great.

The Imam continued:

"This is where we are. This belongs to us, Ibn Sa'id. We are not in the Inn of al-Sa'alik."


Shortly after his arrival in Samarra, the Imam ('a) was imprisoned under the cruel, stone-hearted Zurafah, who to the Caliph's displeasure, soon grew to love the Imam ('a) and became a devoted follower of the Ahlul Bayt ('a). This man was then replaced by another custodian who was a cruel man named Sa'id. In this prison, the Imam ('a) experienced years of cruel treatment and torture.

After some time, the Caliph Mutawakkil, obtained a new advisor, Fath ibn Khaqan, who was Shi'ah. This Shi'ah could not bare to see the holy Imam ('a) imprisoned any longer and arranged for his release and his comfortable residence in a personally purchased house. Mutawakkil was still greatly displeased with this and continued with his malicious intended actions against the Imam ('a).

Mutawakkil stated that as "beasts are prohibited to eat the flesh of the descendents of Imam Husayn ('a)" then he would throw Imam an-Naqi ('a) to the beasts to test if he was truly a descendent of Imam Husayn ('a). He did so, and to all amazement, it was witnessed that the beasts prostrated their heads before the Imam ('a).

Miraculous Cure

Imam Naqi ('a) received a message that the Caliph had fallen extremely ill almost to the point of death, suffering from boils covering his body. His advice was sought as to the cure for the Caliph's illness and his reply message was:

"Take the dregs of the fat from a sheep. Mix it with rose-water and put it on the boils. It will be beneficial, if God permits."

The Caliph's Mother had promised that if her son was preserved, then she would give of her wealth to the Imam (a). Upon receiving the Imam's ('a) suggestion for the treatment, the people scoffed and laughed, however they did follow the directions. The solution was placed over the boils, which caused them to open and expel their contents, resulting in the full cure of the Caliph's illness. His Mother was delighted at the news and sent 10,000 dinars to the Imam (a) as was her promise. 

Of the numerous ahadith quoted from the holy Imam Naqi ('a), he is quoted as having said:

"Remember when you are on your deathbed and your body is lying before your family members, then there is no physician to prevent you (from death) nor a friend to avail you". (Bihar-ul-Anwar, Vol. 78, p370)

The Holy Imam (a) remained living in Samarra until his martyrdom on the 3rd Rajab, 254 AH after 35 years of Imamate. Like his many forefathers, he was poisoned by the ruling Caliph, al-Mu'tazz, and died at the age of 42 years, with his funeral rights being conducted by his son, Imam Hassan al-Askari (a) who was the Imam after him ('a). 

The children Imam Naqi ('a) left were Imam Hassan al-Askari ('a), al Husayn, Muhammad, Ja'far and his only daughter Aisha.

Other ahadith quoted from the Imam (a) are:

"Beware of Jealousy for its effect will appear upon you and shall not effect your enemy." (Ayan u Shia, Vol 2, p39.)

"People are respected in this world for possessing wealth and in the Hereafter for possessing righteous deeds." (Bihar-ul-Anwar, Vol 78, p368.)

"Whosoever has the fear of Allah, people fear him and the one who obeys Allah, people obey him." (Tuhful Aqool, p472.)


  • A Group of Translators (2000) A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles, Ansariyan Publications, Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Ayatullah Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani (1998) A Bundle of Flowers, Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a) Library, Isfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Islamic Propagation organisation [Turkey] (1373 AH) Fascinating Discourses of 14 Infallibles (a), Ansariyan Publications, Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Shaykh al-Mufid (1981) Kitab al-Irshad, Muhammadi Trust, London, England.

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