Father: Imam Musa Kazim (AS)
Mother:Ummul Baneen Najma
Kunniyat (Patronymic): Abdul Hasan
Laqab (Title): Ar-Reda / Ar-Reza
Birth: He was born in Medina on Thursday, 11th of Zil-kad 148 A.H
Martyrdom: He was poisoned by Mamoon the Abbaside Caliph on the 17th Safar 203 A.H, and died at the age of 55 at Meshad in Khorasan.
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Birth & Upbringing
Hazrat Imam Ali Reza was born at Medina on the 11th Zil-kad 148 A.H, and is known as Abdul Hasan.
Imam Ali Reza was brought up under the holy guidance of his father for 35 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 Reza was a living example of the piety of the great Prophet and the chivalry and generosity of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Successorship
Imam Musa Kazim was well aware of the aggressive designs of the government in power against the Imamate and therefore, during his lifetime he declared Imam Reza as his successor in the presence of 171 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 Reza duly signed and endorsed by not less than sixteen prominent persons.
All these necessary steps were taken by the great Imam to avoid any confusion that may have arisen after his death.
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Imamate
Imam Musa Kazim was poisoned while he was still in prison and expired on 25th Rajab 183 AH, and on the same day Imam Reza was declared as the Eighth Imam of the Muslim world.
Imam Reza had the great task before him of coming out with the correct interpretation of the Holy Qur’an; specially under the most unfavourable circumstances prevailing under the government of Harun Rashid.
Many belonging to the faith were imprisoned and those who were free and could not be jailed faced untold atrocities and sufferings.
Imam Reza, 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 Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Great Qualities
Imam Reza had inherited great qualities of head and heart from his ancestors. He was a versatile person and had full command over many languages. Ibene-Asir Jazeri penned very rightly that Imam Reza was undoubtedly the greatest sage, saint and scholar of the second century (AH).
Once, on his way to Khurasan, when he (the Imam) was brought by force by the guards of Mamoon from Medina, he arrived on horseback at Nayshabur. Myriads of people gathered round him and all roads were over crowded as they had come to meet and see their great Imam. Abu Dhar’ah ar-Razi and Muhammad ibn Aslam at-Tusi, the two great scholars of the day, stepped out of the crowd and begged the Imam to halt there for a moment so that the faithful may be able to hear his voice. They also requested the Imam to address the gathering.
The Imam granted the request and in his brief address told the mammoth gathering the real interpretation of ‘La ilaha illa Allah’.
Quoting Allah, he continued to say that the kalimah is the fortress of Allah and whoever entered the fortress saved himself from His wrath. He paused for a moment and continued that there were also a few conditions to entitle the entrance to the fortress and the greatest of all conditions was sincere and complete submission to the Imam of the day; and very boldly and frankly explained to the people that any disloyalty to the Prophet and his descendants would withdraw the right of the entrance to the fortress.
The only way to earn Almighty Allah’s pleasure was to obey the Prophet and his progeny and that was the only path to salvation and immortality.
The above-mentioned incident speaks clearly of the great popularity of Imam Reza, and the love, loyalty and respect the Muslims gave their beloved Imam
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Political Condition
Mamoon, the king, was conscious of the fact that he would not survive for long if he also did not express his loyalty to the great leader and his intelligence department had made it clear to him that the Iranian people were truly and sincerely loyal to the Imam and he could only win them over if he also pretended to give respect and sympathetic consideration to Imam Reza.
Mamoon was a very shrewd person. He made a plan to invite Imam Reza 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 Mamoon.
On his arrival, Mamoon gave him a royal reception and offered him the heirship, commenting in no uncertain terms that he (Mamoon) was a usurper of the rights of the Imam, and begged him to accept the offer.
The Imam at first rejected the offer saying that he was not interested in holding worldly power and he was quite satisfied in carrying on the missionary work and living a quiet life in Medina.
Mamoon knew that the final rejection of his offer by the Imam would lead him to extreme unpopularity and pestered the Holy Imam to accept.
Imam Reza then very reluctantly agreed to the demand and wrote the following remarks on the document of succession:
“I accept the heirship of Mamoon on the condition that he admits our rights to the direct succession of the Prophet. I can foresee that that there is a catch in it but do not want to disappoint the mover of the proposal until he proves to be unworthy of his commitment.”
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Wordly Successorship
Imam Reza was the Eighth Imam and Mamoon could not help holding him in great esteem because of the Imam’s piety, wisdom, knowledge, modesty, decorum and personality.
Therefore, he decided to nominate him a the rightful heir to the throne. Earlier in 200 AH he had summoned the ‘Abbasids. Thirty-three thousand ‘Abbasids responded to the invitation and were entertained as royal guests.
During their stay at the capital he very closely observed and noted their capabilities and eventually arrived at the conclusion that not one of them deserved to succeed him.
He therefore spoke to them all in an assembly in 201 AH telling them in categorical terms that none of the ‘Abbasids deserved to succeed him. He demanded allegiance to Imam Reza from the people in this very meeting and declared that royal robes would be green in future, the color which had the unique distinction of being that of the Imam’s dress.
A Royal decree was published saying that Imam Reza will succeed Mamoon.
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.
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Remembrance of Karbala
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 Baqir and Imam Jafar Sadiq, but Imam Reza 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.
Imam Ali Reda / Reza (AS) Wafat / Martyrdom
Mamoon 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 and getting 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.
Mamoon therefore became very disappointed with him and decided once and for all to check his growing popularity and ensuring his own survival by acting according to the old traditions of 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 17th Safar 203 A.H, he was buried in Toos (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.