Al-Ma'mun Martyrs Imam Reza (a.s.)
23rd of Zilqa'dah is the narrative of Martyrdom of Imam Reza (a.s.) and his Pilgramage Day.
Al-Ma'mu`n feared that the people came to know that the Imam Reza, peace be on him, was virtuous and spiritual, that he would be able to establish political and social justice in their regions, and that the 'Abbasids were not entitled to the leadership of the community and the authority over the Muslims.
Al-Ma'mu`n reflected for a long time on (this affair) and summoned his advisers in order to get rid of the Imam Reza(A.S.), so he took the following decisions:
Firstly, he held scientific conferences which included the greatest scholars of the world in order to test the Ima`m and to render him incapable of answering their questions, that he might use that as means to defame the personality of the Ima`m and disprove the creed of the Shï'ites who maintained that the Ima`m should be the most learned of the people of his time. Meanwhile, if the Ima`m had been unable to answer their questions, al-Ma'mu`n would have able to remove him from regency.
But this plan came to nothing, for the Imam answered all the questions of the scholars who afterwards admitted his huge scientific abilities and his excellence over them.
Secondly, he surrounded him by dense forces of security in order to keep an eye on him. This task was entrusted to Hisham b. Ibrahim al-Rashidi al-Hamada`ni
The narrators say: "Ibra`him was a scholar and an author. He undertook all the affairs of al-Reza, peace be on him, before he was sent to Khurasan. He received all the properties which were sent to the Imam. When the Ima`m was sent to Khurasa`n, Ibra`him communicated with Dhu al-Riyasatayn. Dhu al-Riyasatayn enticed Ibrahim with an office and money.
So Ibrahim followed his caprice, abandoned his religion, deviated from the truth, and spied on the Ima`m. He transmitted all the stories and affairs of the Imam to al-Fadl and al-Ma'mun. He was appointed by al-Ma'mu`n as a chamberlain for Imam Reza(A.S.). So he thoroughly straitened the Ima`m, prevented all the people from reaching him except those whom he loved, and reported all his words to al-Ma'mu`n and his minister al-Fadl."
Thirdly, he prevented the Shï'ites from attending the assemblies of the Ima`m and listening to his talks. He entrusted this task to his chamberlain Mohammed b. 'Amru` al-Tusi, and he prevented them from meeting the Ima`m. He treated the Imam rudely, and he, peace be on him, became angry with him.
So the Imam rose, performed two rak'as, and said in his personal prayer (qunut):
"O Allah! O Possessor of inclusive power, wide mercy, uninterrupted kindnesses, successive boons, beautiful benefits, and overflow grants! O He who is not described by description; nor is compared to any like! O He who creates (men) and provides (them), inspires (them) and makes (them) speak, originates and legislates, has risen high and become lofty, ordains and does well, shapes and masters, provides arguments and makes them conclusive, grants and bestows lavishly upon (men)!
O He who is exalted in might, so He escapes swift eyes! O He who is close in subtlety, so He passes through thoughts! O He who takes care of the kingdom by Himself, so there is no rival in the kingdom of His authority! (O He who) is One in magnificence, so there is no opposite in the invincibility of His station!
O He by whose magnificence of awe the intricacies of the subtlest of imaginations are bewildered, before whose tremendousness the swift eyes of mankind fail! O He who knows the thoughts of the hearts of those knowers and sees the glances of beholders' eyes! Faces are humble in awe of Him; necks are lowly before His majesty; hearts are afraid out of fear of Him; limbs shake with fright of Him!
O Originator! O Innovator! O Powerful! O Invincible! O All-high! O Exalter! Bless him through whom prayer is honorable when blessing is called down upon him (i.e. the Prophet)! Take vengeance upon him who has wronged me, made little of me, and dismissed the Shï'ites from my own door! Let him taste the bitterness of abasement and disgrace; make him ousted among the dirty and homeless among the unclean!"
responded to the Ima`m's supplications, for the mobs revolted against al-Ma'mu`n and were about to put an end to him, and he faced terror and disgrace which none can describe.
Al-Ma'mu`n dismissed the Shï'ites again and tried to annoy the Imam. When the Imam came to know of that, he washed, performed two rak'as, and said in his personal prayer (qunut):
"O Allah! You are Allah, the Living, the Self-subsistent, the Creator, the Provider, the One who gives life (to the dead), the One who makes (men) die, the Originator, and the Innovator. To You belongs munificence; to You belongs praise; to You belongs kindness; and to You belongs the command. You are One with no associate with You. O One, O Unique, O Single, O Eternal Refuge! O He who has not begotten; nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not any one! Bless Mohammed and the family of Mohammed!"
Then he supplicated Allah to drive away that which concerned him, and He removed from him al-Ma'mu`n's trickery and oppression.(Hamish al-Musbah, p. 293).
The Imam does not praise al-Ma'mun
The Ima`m, peace be on him, did not praise al-Ma'mu`n; nor did he flatter him. Rather he adopted toward him an attitude distinguished by earnestness, frankness, and bitter criticism for some of his works. As for al-Ma'mu`n, he burst with anger and hid that in order to follow the Ima`m, peace be on him. The following are some of the Ima`m's attitudes toward al-Ma'mu`n:
1. When al-Ma'mu`n presented the caliphate to the Ima`m and said to him: "I want to rid myself of the caliphate, vest the office in you, and pledge allegiance to you."
Now, reflect on this frankness of the Ima`m in his response to al-Ma'mu`n. He, peace be on him, said to him: "If this caliphate belongs to you and Allah has made you possess it, then it is no permissible for you to take off the garment in which Allah has clothed you and to give it to other than you. If the caliphate does not belong to you, then it is not permissible for to give me that which does not belong to you."
Have you reflected on this profluent logic and undeniable argument which flows with truth and truthfulness? So al-Ma'mu`n lost his mind; he did not know what to say, and then he sought refuge with silence.
2. When the Ima`m refused to accept the caliphate, al-Ma'mu`n presented regency to him, so he answered him with this decisive answer, saying: "Through that you want the people to say: 'Surely 'Ali b. Mu`sa` (al-Rida`) has not renounced the world; rather it is the world which has renounced him. Do you not see that he has accepted regency and craved for the caliphate?'
As a result al-Ma'mu`n was indignant with the Ima`m and shouted at him, saying: "You always face me with what I hate! You have felt safe from my penalty! I swear by Allah, you should accept regency or I will force you to (accept) it! You should do that; otherwise, I will strike off your head! "('Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 140.).
Through all his steps and works, the Ima`m, peace be on him, preferred Allah's good pleasure (to the worldly pleasures); he did not praise anyone; nor did he flatter any creature. If he had flattered al-Ma'mu`n, sought nearness to him, and satisfied his feelings, al-Ma'mu`n would not have assassinated him.
3. Yet another example of that the Ima`m, peace be on him, was frank with al-Ma'mu`n and did not praise him is that al-Ma'mu`n said to him: "O Abu` al-Hasan I though a bout a thing and concluded correctness from it. I thought about our ancestry and your ancestry, so I have found that they have the same excellence and that our Shï'ites have differed over that because of caprice and fanaticism."
So the Imam said to him: "There is an answer to this statement. If you like (it), I will mention it to you; if you dislike (it), I will keep silent."
"I did not say it except to know what you have regarding it," retorted Al-Ma'mu`n.
The Ima`m established an argument that the 'Alawides were more entitled to the Prophet than the 'Abba`sids and nearer to him than them, saying: "O Commander of the faithful, I adjure you before Allah! If Allah, the Exalted, resurrected His Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W.), and he came out to us from behind one of those hills and asked you for your daughter's hand, would you marry her to him?"
"Glory belongs to Allah!" replied al-Ma'mu`n, "is there anyone who turns away from Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family?"
"Do you think that it is permissible for him to ask me for my daughter's hand?" asked Imam Reza(A.S.).
Al-Ma'mu`n kept silent and did not find any way to justify his closeness to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. That is because the Ima`m established an undeniable argument which is that he was among the children of Fa`tima al-Zahra`', peace be on her. Accordingly, al-Ma'mu`n said: "By Allah, you are closer to Allah' Messenger (than us)."( Kanz al-Fawa'id, p. 166.).
The members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, were entitled to the caliphate not because of their nearness to Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, but because of their abilities, their talents, and their knowledge of what the community needed in administrative and economic fields.
The Imam refuses to appoint Governors
Al-Ma'mu`n asked Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him, to choose and appoint some governors over some Islamic regions, but he refused to respond to this request, saying:
"Surely I have entered in what I entered on the condition that I should not command, nor order, nor dismiss, nor counsel until Allah advances me before you (in death). By Allah, the caliphate is a thing about which I have not told myself. I was in Medina and frequented through its streets riding my own mount. The people of Medina and other than them asked me to accomplish their needs and I did. So they were like uncles to me; my letters are valid in the cities. If you increase me in favor, then my Lord has bestowed it upon me."(Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, pp. 166-167.).
The Ima`m vigorously refused to interfere in any of the affairs of the state in order to indicate that the state of al-Ma'mu`n was illegal, and that he was forced when he joined it.
The Imam predicts that he will not enter Baghdad
Al-Ma'mu`n told Imam al-Reza`, peace be on him, that he would enter Baghdad and told him about what he would do in it, so he asked him: "Shall we enter Baghdad?"
"You will enter Baghdad," the Ima`m, peace be on him, replied.
A Shï'ite heard this statement and became frightened, for he came to know that the Ima`m would not enter Baghdad. He was alone with the Ima`m and said to him: "I have heard a thing which has saddened me." He mentioned the statement, so the Ima`m, peace be on him, said to him: "I will not go to Baghdad. I will not see Baghdad; nor will it see me." 'Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, pp. 224-225).
This is one of the proofs of his Ima`mate, for he did not leave Khurasa`n for Baghdad until al-Ma'mu`n assassinated him.
The Imam and al-Fadl Bin Sahl
As for al-Fadl b. Sahl , he was the most remarkable personality in the state of al-Ma'mu`n. He enjoyed wide-range powers, for he dominated all the organs of the government. So his role in the state of al-Ma'mun was like that of the Baramika during the days of Harun al-Rashïd. He was very skillful with political affairs, so concerning him, Ibra`him b. al-'Abba`s says: And if the battles become hot, I will send for them an opinion through which their phalanxes will be defeated.
When the swords become blunt, a resolution is carried out by the opinion, so it quenches the thirst of their edges.
It (the opinion) will establish for a group (of people) its state and install in another (state) its mourners.
These poetry lines give an account of the skill of al-Fadl at political affairs; they show that he through his own opinion could put an end to a state and establish another in the place of it, just as he did when he overthrew the state of al-Amïn and established the state of al-Ma'mu`n.
Any how, al-Fadl was one of those who negotiated with Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him, about regency. He threatened the Ima`m when he vigorously refused to accept it. We will mention some of the Ima`m's affairs with him as follows:
A false Suggestion for assassinating al- Ma'mun
Al-Fadl b. Sahl and Hisha`m b. Ibrahim tried to deceive Imam al-Reza, peace be on him, and to destroy him. They came to him and asked him to ask the people to leave his assembly, that they might secretly negotiate with him. The Ima`m asked the people to leave his sitting-place, then al-Fadl took out an oath written in release and divorce and that for which there was no religious expiation, saying:
"We have come to you to say the truth. We have come to know that the authority belongs to you, and the right is yours, O son of Allah's Messenger. Our consciences bear (witness) to what we say through our tongues. What we possess will not be released; our wives will be divorced; we will make thirty pilgrimages (to Mecca) on foot, on the condition that we should kill al-Ma'mu`n and make the authority pure for you, that the right may return to you."
The Ima`m was fully aware of their deception and their false statement. If they had been honest in their statement, they would have carried that out before their negotiations with the Ima`m, for they had come to know that he refused to accept all those attempts which Islam did not adopt, of which was assassination.
Any how, he scolded them, saying: "You are ungrateful for the blessing; if I accept what you have said, then neither you nor I will be safe (from al-Ma'mu`n's punishment)."
Then they went to al-Ma'mu`n and told him about the statement of the Ima`m, and he rewarded them well. As for the Ima`m, he went in a hurry to al-Ma'mu`n and informed him of the matter. Accordingly, al-Ma'mu`n came to know that the Ima`m did not harbor evil against him. It is more likely that it was al-Ma'mu`n who made this plan in order to know the Ima`m's intentions toward him.
His informing against the Imam
The researchers who are aware of Islamic history say that al-Fadl was not a 'Alawide in thought,( Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 167) for he took against Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him, terrible steps of which is that he informed al-Ma'mu`n of him, saying: "Surely you have entrusted regency to Abu` al-Hasan (al-Reza`) and taken it out of the children of your father. The populace, the scholars, the jurists, and the family of 'Abba`s are not satisfied with that, and their hearts have turned away from you." Have you seen how al-Fadl provoked al-Ma'mu`n against the Imam and informed him against him? Surely he made al-Ma'mu`n harbor malice and hatred against the Imam, peace be on him.
His Opposing the Imam
Al-Fadl vigorously opposed the Imam. He opposed the Imam when he suggested a certain idea and summoned al-Ma'mu`n to cancel it. The narrators have mentioned that al-Ma'mu`n visited the Ima`m and recited to him a letter regarding that some of his (military) forces had conquered some villages in Cabul. So the Ima`m asked him: "Are you pleased with conquering one of the villages of the polytheists?"
"Isn't there any pleasure in that?" retorted al-Ma'mu`n.
The Ima`m turned to him and guided him to the place of the pleasure which he had to follow, saying: "O Commander of the faithful, fear Allah with respect to the community of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, this authority which Allah has entrusted to you and singled you out with it, for surely you have wasted the affairs of the Muslims and vested them in other than you, while he has ruled them with something other than the rule of Allah.
You have resided in this country (i.e. Khurasa`n), left the land of immigration and revelation. The Muha`jirï~n and the Ansa`r have been wronged besides you. The believers have badly been treated. The wronged will someday overexert themselves, but they will be unable (to earn) their expenses, to find someone to complain to him of their conditions, and to reach him.
"So, O Commander of the faithful, fear Allah regarding the affairs of the Muslims, return to the house of the Prophet and the source of the Muha`jirï~n and the Ansa`r. Do you not know that the ruler of the Muslims is like the pole in the middle of a tent, whoever wants it takes it?"
These words give an account of the Ima`m's frankness and sincere advice; in them there is neither praise nor complying with al-Ma'mu`n's feelings and inclinations. Al-Ma'mu`n turned to the Ima`m and asked him: "O my master, what do you think?"
The Ima`m advised him to follow the truth whereby was his salvation, saying: "I think that you must leave this country for the place of your fathers and grandfathers, take care of the affairs of the Muslims, and do not entrust them to other than you, for Allah will question you about your followers."
Al-Ma'mu`n responded to the Ima`m's view and said to him: "Excellent is your saying, O my master! This is the viewpoint."
Then he ordered the armies to prepare themselves to leave (Khurasa`n) for Medina (Yathrib). When al-Fadl heard of that, he became sad, went in a hurry to al-Ma'mu`n, and said to him: "What is this view which you have been ordered to follow?"
Al-Ma'mu`n told him about the Ima`m's view concerning taking Medina as a capital for his government. As a result al-Fadl spared no effort to disprove this view advising him to follow the opposite of what the Ima`m had suggested, saying:
"O Commander of the faithful, this is not the correct (view); yesterday you killed your brother and removed the caliphate from him; the children of your father, all Iraqis, your household, and the Arabs are your supporters. Then you have done this second event; surely you have entrusted regency to Abu` al-Hasan (al-Rida`) and taken it out of the children of your father. The populace, the jurists, the scholars, and the family of al-'Abba`s are not satisfied with that, and their hearts have turned away from you.
"I think that you must reside in Khurasa`n, that the hearts of the people may relay on this (situation) and forget what was regarding the affair of your brother. In this country there is a group of shaykhs who have praised (your father) al-Rashï~d and come to know of the affair; therefore, consult them regarding that. If they advise (you to follow) that, then you carry it out."
"Who are they?" asked al-Ma'mu`n.
"Such as 'Ali b. Abu` 'Umra`n, Abu` Yunus, and al-Julu`di," answered al-Fadl.
It is worth mentioning that it was these persons who were indignant at the pledge of allegiance to Abu` al-Hasan (al-Reza`) and were not satisfied with it.
At last al-Ma'mu`n responded to al-Fadl's viewpoint and turned away from the Ima`m's in respect of taking Medina (Yathrib) as a capital for the kingdom. (Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 160).
Shortly after Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him, assumed the position of heir apparent, al-Ma'mu`n vigorously turned away from him, hid evil and treachery against him, sought evil deeds against him, schemed against him in the darkness of night and by the brightness of day, imposed intense watch over him, imprisoned him in his house, prevented the scholars and the jurists from communicating with him and taking his sciences, and prevented all the Shï~'ites from having the honor of meeting him.
Al-Ma'mu`n burst with anger and rage because of the Ima`m's remarkable position in the hearts of the Muslims, which firmly established and increased when regency was entrusted to him, for the Muslims saw that he led a simple life, refrained from temptations of life, renounced the world, understood the people's sufferings, showed affection toward the weak, sympathized with the miserable, had abundant knowledge, encompassed what the community needed regarding all its affairs, strongly turned to Allah, the Exalted, in repentance, feared Allah, and other high moral traits before which reason is bewildered, and which he derived from those of his grandfather the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, who developed life, put an end to all kinds of backwardness and deviation (from the truth) in the world of the Arabs and Muslims.
The people saw those 'Alawide moral traits standing in Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him, so they adored him and believed in his Ima`mate, while al-Ma'mu`n and the rest of the 'Abba`sid kings were distinguished by qualities contrary to those of the Ima`m. For no laudable deed or an excellence has been ascribed to them throughout their assuming the caliphate.
In other words they followed their desires and pleasures and spent millions of the money of the Muslims on their red nights. Abu` Fira`s al-Hamada`ni, an inspired poet, may Allah have mercy on, revolted against oppression and tyranny. In his wonderful, immortal poem, he has made a comparison between the 'Alawides' exalted life and the 'Abba`sids' low life, which was full of sins and offenses. He says:
(The Qur'a`n) is recited in their houses in the evening and in the early morning, while in your houses are the strings and the tones.
When they recite a verse, your Ima`m (leader) sings: "Stop by the house which no foot has effaced."
Does 'Ali belong to you or to them? Does the Shaykh of the singers belong to you or to them?
There is no winepress in their houses; nor is there in their houses a shelter for evil;
Nor is there a hermaphrodite who spends the night to drink with them; nor have they an ape which has servants.
Their houses are al-Rukn (the corner of the Ka'ba) , the (Sacred) House, the curtains, Zamzam, al-Safa, (the Black) Stone, and al-Harm (the Sanctuary).
Surely the life of the 'Alawides is as bright as the sun due to the light of faith, whereas the life of their 'Abba`sid opponents is as dark as night; there is no glow of faith and of Islamic guidance in it. Any how, al-Ma'mu`n spared no effort to show Islamic society that Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him, did not renounce the world when he assumed regency, but all his attempts came to nothing, for Islamic world came to know that the Ima`m was the most brilliant personality in Allah-fearingness, piety, clinging to obedience to Allah and to acts of worship, and refraining from all political fields.
The Ima`m gives Sincere Advice to al-Ma'mu`n
The Ima`m, peace be on him, gave sincere advice to al-Ma'mun
The advice was void of all political hardships. He advised him to exempt him from regency and to exempt al-Fadl from the ministry, and through that he would save himself from the scheme and oppression of the 'Abbasids against him. However al-Ma'mu`n did not exempt them both; he assassinated them, as we will display.
Al-Ma'mun decides to return to Baghdad
For a long time Al-Ma'mu`n reflected on returning to Baghdad, the capital of his fore-fathers and embellishment of the east, but two factors prevented him from achieving this valuable wish:
The first: The existence of Ima`m 'Ali b. Musa al-Reza`, peace be on him, his heir apparent, against whom the 'Abba`sid family vigorously harbored malice. This family had already broken the pledge of allegiance to him, and pledged allegiance to Ibn Shakkla, the Shaykh of the singers, as a sign of taking vengeance upon him because of his entrusting the Ima`m with regency.
The second: The existence of his minister, al-Fadl b. Sahl, on the area of politics. The 'Abba`sids were indignant with al-Fadl, for they thought that it was he who urged al-Ma'mu`n to entrust regency to Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him.
Accordingly, al-Ma'mu`n had to get rid of both the Ima`m and al-Fadl through assassinating them, that he might be free from worry, please the 'Abba`sids, and rid himself of their wrath and vengeance; this is what we will demonstrate.
The Public Bath-house of Sarakhs
Al-Ma'mu`n thought that he had to get rid of Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him, and al-Fadl b. Sahl at the same time, that the 'Abba`sid family might be loyal to him. So he ordered a criminal band of his hirelings to assassinate Imam al-Reza` and al-Fadl in the public bath-house of Sarkhas. He had asked both the Ima`m and al-Fadl to enter the bath-house together. He also decided to go with them, that he might cover the matter and that none might come to know of it.
The Ima`m was fully aware of this trickery, so he refused to respond to al-Ma'mu`n. Al-Ma'mu`n sent another letter and the Ima`m wrote him: "I will not go into the baths tomorrow. Last night, I had a vision of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family. He told me: ''Ali, do not go into the baths tomorrow.' Therefore, Commander of the faithful, I do not think that it would be wise for you and al-Fadl to go into the baths tomorrow."
Al-Ma'mu`n wrote back to him: "You are right, my master, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, is right. I will not go into the baths tomorrow. However, al-Fadl will make up his own mind."
The deception of al-Ma'mu`n regarding al-Fadl has become clear. He let him make up his own mind, and he was killed by his band of hirelings.
Al-Fadl is struck down
Al-Fadl went in a hurry to the baths. When he went into it, he was struck down by the swords of that criminal band. Shortly after that he became a motionless body. In this manner al-Ma'mu`n was able to achieve part of his task.
When al-Fadl was killed, his companions went in a hurry to al-Ma'mu`n in order to take vengeance upon him, for they had come to know that it was he who ordered him to be killed. The guards of al-Ma'mu`n's palace hurried to close the gates lest the revolutionaries should attack al-Ma'mu`n. However, the revolutionists carried torches of fire that they might burn the gates of the palace. When al-Ma'mu`n came to know of that, he became frightened, so he sought refuge in the Ima`m and asked him to protect him. The Ima`m, peace be on him, went out to the revolutionaries.
He ordered them to depart, and they responded to him, so al-Ma'mun was saved by the Imam's blessing.As for those who murdered al-Fadl, they were five persons from among the personal entourage of al-M'mu`n. Among them was Gha`lib, al-Ma'mu`n's uncle. The police captured them and brought them before al-Ma'mu`n, and they (the murderers) said to him: "You had ordered us to kill him." So he said to them: "I will kill you because of your confession. As for that which you have claimed that I had ordered you to kill him is a groundless claim." Then he ordered their heads to be struck off, ordered them to be sent to al-Hasan b. Sahl, and showed false sadness for him (al-Fadl).
Imam Reza(A.S.) is assassinated
Al-Ma'mu`n assassinated Ima`m al-Reza`, the Ima`m of the Muslims and grandson of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. He put poison into grapes or pomegranates.In this manner al-Ma'mu`n put an end to the most brilliant personality in Islamic world, namely Ima`m al-Reza`, who was the source of awareness and thought in the world of Islam.
Any how, most historians have unanimously agreed that it was al-Ma'mu`n who poisoned the Ima`m, for he had killed in this manner a group of the great figures of his time out of fear of them.
To the Shelter Garden
The Ima`m was intensely tried during assuming the position of heir apparent, for al-Ma'mu`n vigorously straitened him, imposed intense watch over him, and encompassed him with huge security forces. The Ima`m was tired of life, so he supplicate Allah to move him form this world to the Abode of Everlastingness, saying: "O Allah, if my relief of that in which I am is through death, then hasten the hour for me (i.e. take me unto Yourself)."
Allah responded to the supplication of His great friend. He moved him from the world, which was surrounded by adversities and sufferings, to the Abode of the Truth. Now, we will show how he died. The Ima`m, peace be on him, summoned Harthema b. A'yun in the darkness of the night. When Herthama came, the Ima`m said to him:
"O Herthama, this is the time of my departure to Allah, the Exalted, and of my joining my grandfather and my fore-fathers, peace be on them; the fixed term has come; this tyrannical one (i.e. al-Ma'mu`n) has decided to kill me with squeezed grapes and pomegranates. He will have needles prodded into the grapes at the place of their storks; he will put some poison on the hand of one of his retainers and order him to knead pomegranates with it, that they may be stained with poison. He will summon me on the next day, bring the grapes and pomegranates near to me, and ask me to eat them. I will eat them, so the decision is valid and the decree is present.
"When I die, he (al-Ma'mu`n) will say: 'I will wash him with my hand.' When he says that, be alone with him and say to him on my behalf: 'He (al-Reza`) said to you: 'Do not wash, shroud, and bury me. For if you do that, He (Allah) will hasten for you the punishment which He has delayed from you, and the painful thing of which you are cautious will befall you.' So surely he will refrain (from doing that)."
The Ima`m added, saying: "When he (al-Ma'mu`n) let you wash me, he will sit on one of his lofty houses in order to tower over the place where I will be washed. So, O Herthama, do not wash me until you see that a white tent is installed beside the house. When you see that, then carry me (while I am wearing) my garments in which I am, place me from behind the tent, and stop behind it; someone other than you will be with you; do not remove the tent from me lest you should see me and be destroyed.
"He (al-Ma'mu`n) will tower over you and say to you: 'O Herthama, do you not claim that none washes the Ima`m except an Ima`m like him? So who will wash Abu` al-Hasan 'Ali b. Mu`sa` (al-Reza`) while his son Mohammed is in Madinah, in the country of al-Hija`z, and we are at Tu`s?
"If he says that, say to him: 'We say: Surely none must wash the Ima`m except an Ima`m like him. If an aggressor transgresses and washes the Ima`m, the Ima`mate of the Ima`m will not be invalid because of the transgression of the one who washes him, nor will the Ima`mate of the Ima`m after him be invalid because he is prevented from washing his father.
If Abu` al-Hasan 'Ali b. Mu`sa` al-Reza`, peace be on him, had been allowed (to live) in Medina, his son Mohammed would have washed him apparent and uncovered. None will now wash him except a hidden one.' When the tent is raised, you will see that I have been wrapped in my shrouds. Then put me into my coffin and carry me. When he (al-Ma'mu`n) wants to dig my grave, he will make the grave of his father Harun al-Rashïd as qibla for my grave, and that will never occur.
When they strike the ground with the picks, they will dig nothing of it even the clipping of a finger-nail. When they do their best and it was difficult for them to do that, then say to them: 'He (al-Rida`) has ordered me to strike one pick in the qibla of the grave of his (al-Ma'mu`n's) father, Ha`ru`n al-Rashïd.'
When you strike (with the pick), you will make it reach a dug grave and a standing shrine. When the grave is open, then do not lay me in it until the white water gushes out of the shrine wherein and it becomes full of water.
When the water sinks, then lay me in that grave and bury me in that shrine. "
(Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 247. Nur al-Absar, p. 145.)
The Ima`m ordered Herthama to memorize his words, and he responded to what the Ima`m wanted. On the following day, al-Ma'mu`n sent for the Ima`m. When the Ima`m came, al-Ma'mu`n rose for him, embraced him, kissed him on the forehead, seated him beside him, conversed with him, ordered one of his retainers to bring him grapes and pomegranates.
Herthama said: "I became impatient and shook (with fear)." Al-Ma'mu`n gave a bunch of grapes to the Ima`m and said to him: "O son of Allah's Messenger, I have never seen grapes better than these."
"Perhaps, there are grapes better than them in the Garden," retorted the Imam.
Al-Ma'mu`n asked the Imam to have some grapes , and he refrained from having them, so al-Ma'mu`n shouted at him: "Perhaps, you are accusing as of something."
The Ima`m ate three grapes, then he threw them away and rose, so al-Ma'mu`n asked him: "Where are you going?"
"To my house," replied the Ima`m.
The Ima`m went in a hurry to his house. The poison acted on all parts of his body, and he was sure of the coming down of the fatal misfortune. Al-Ma'mu`n sent for him and asked him for sincere advice, and he, peace be on him, said to his messenger: "Say to him (al-Ma'mu`n): He (al-Reza`) advises you not to give anyone anything for which you must repent. "
The poison circulated through all parts of the Ima`m's body, and he suffered from severe aches. He came to know that he was about to meet his Lord. So he recited some verses of the Holy Qur'a`n, asked Allah's forgiveness, and supplicated for the believers, male and female. The narrators have said:
"When he was in a critical condition, his household and his companions refrained from having food and drink."
So he, peace be on him, turned to Ya`sir and asked him: "Have the people eaten anything?"
He answered him with a faint voice with sad tones, saying: "Who can eat while you are in a critical condition?"
He, peace be on him, rose, and then he said: "Bring me the food; he seated all his servants around the food; and reviewed them one by one. When they had finished eating, he ordered them to carry him to his womenfolk. When they had finished eating, he fainted.(Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 241).
In the darkness of the night, the Ima`m recited some verses of the Holy Qur'a`n, and the last verse which he recited was these words of Him, the Exalted: Say: Had we remained in your houses, those for whom slaughter was ordained would certainly have gone forth to the places where they would be slain. And the command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute.
Then his pure soul set out for its Creator ; it was surrounded by the angels of the Merciful (Allah) and was received in the Gardens of Everlastingness by the souls of the prophets and the testamentary trustees.
The world became dark because of losing him and the hereafter became bright on account of his arrival. His death caused a misfortune to the scholars, the jurists, and the thinkers who took from his sciences; likewise, his death caused a misfortune to the populace, for they lost the one who took care of their interests and strove for their affairs.
The Ima`m moved to the Domain of Holiness after he had delivered the message of his Lord, for he did not take part in any positive work for the government of al-Ma'mu`n, and refused all kinds of cooperation with it, so he was able to prove that it was illegal, and that it was not standing on the law of Allah, the Most High; therefore, he subjected himself to all kinds of persecution, to the extent that al-Ma'mu`n put an end to him.
Al-Ma'mu`n showed false sadness and impatience for the death of the Ima`m. He went out bare-footed and headed. He struck his head, seized his beard, wept, and said at the top of his voice: "By Allah! I do not know which of the two calamities is greater: losing you and parting from you, or people's accusation that I assassinated and killed you.(Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2, p. 241.).
Al-Ma'mu`n displayed sorrow for the death of the Ima`m, peace be on him, in order to rid himself of the accusation of assassinating him, but, shortly after that, the people came to know of his pretense and became fully aware of that it was he who assassinated him.
Concealing the Martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S.)
Al-Ma'mu`n hid the death of the Imam, peace be on him, for a day and a night. I (i.e. the author) think that he prepared himself for emergencies and was afraid of a popular revolt against him. Accordingly, he ordered his security forces and his military forces to prepare themselves for every emergency.
The Body of the Imam is escorted
The people escorted the body of the Ima`m in a manner of which Khurasa`n had never witnessed throughout its history. For all official departments and commercial shops were closed, and all classes of people went in a hurry to escort the Ima`m's holy body; they were either weeping or silent. Black flags were hoisted; tears flowed abundantly; and crying became aloud everywhere for the late Ima`m, who was like a shelter to them. Al-Ma'mu`n was in front of the coffin while he was bare-footed and headed, and behind him were the high ranking statesmen and the military commanders who mentioned the outstanding merits of the Ima`m and the heavy loss which befell the community out of his death.
At his Final Resting Place
The holy body was brought to its final resting place under a halo of exclaiming, 'Allah is great!' and magnification. His grave was dug beside the grave of Ha`ru`n, who killed the Ima`m's father. Then al-Ma'mu`n buried the Ima`m in the grave and buried along with him all excellent qualities and noble inclinations through which people become sublime.
Then the people came and condoled with al-Ma'mu`n, the rest of the 'Alawides and the 'Abba`sids on their painful misfortune. Sadness and sorrow melted all hearts of the people, for they lost the Ima`m of the Muslims, the master of the Allah-fearing and those who turned to Allah in repentance. It is worth mentioning that al-Ma'mu`n asked the people about the reason for burying the Ima`m beside the grave of his father, and they answered him:
"Because Allah will forgive Harun on account of his neighboring Ima`m al-Reza`, peace be on him." However, the inspired poet, Di'bil al-Khaza`'i, has disproved this justification, saying:
If you have a need in religion, then stop at Tu`s by the grave of the pure one wherein.
The nearness to the pure one does not benefit the unclean one; nor does the nearness to the unclean one harm the pure one.
How far! Everyone is hostage to that which his own hands earn, so take or leave whatever you desire.
Two graves are at Tu`s: (The grave) of the best of all people and the grave of the wickedest of them; this is among moral lessons.
Al-Ma'mun stays at the Grave of the Imam
Al-Ma'mu`n resided by the holy grave of the Ima`m for three days. He fasted by day, recited the Holy Qur'a`n, and asked Allah to have mercy on the Ima`m, peace be on him. That is because he wanted to show that he did not assassinate the Ima`m, that he was loyal to him and loved him. However the garment of pretense is transparent, for all the people came to know that al-Ma'mu`n showed false sadness for the Ima`m.
Al-Ma'mun and Herthama
Al-Ma'mu`n summoned Herthama and asked him to tell him about what he had heard of the Ima`m and what he had said to him regarding his being poisoned by the grapes and the pomegranates. Herthama began telling al-Ma'mu`n about that, and his face sometimes turned yellow and sometimes turned red, and he said with tones dripping regret and sorrow for what he had committed with regard to the Ima`m, saying:
"Woe upon al-Ma'mu`n from Allah! Woe upon him from Allah's Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family! Woe upon him from 'Ali b. Abu` Talib! Woe upon al-Ma'mun from Fatima al-Zahra`'! Woe upon al-Ma'mun from al-Hasan and al-Husayn! Woe upon al-Ma'mu`n from 'Ali b. al-Husayn! Woe upon al-Ma'mun from Mohammed b. 'Ali! Woe upon al-Ma'mun from Ja'far b. Mohammed! Woe upon him from Musa b. Ja'far! Woe upon al-Ma'mu`n from 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida`! This is, by Allah, the clear loss!"
Al-Ma'mu`n ordered Herthama to conceal what the Ima`m had said to him, and not to announce it, and then he recited these words of Him, the Exalted:
They hide themselves from men and do not hide themselves from Allah, and He is with them when they mediate by night words which please Him not, and Allah encompasses what they do.
Woe upon al-Ma'mu`n because of the great sin which he committed! For he assassinated the master of the Muslims, the Ima`m of the Allah-fearing, and the piece of the liver of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family.
Poets lament for the Imam
The news of the death of the Ima`m astonished the Muslims, for they received the painful news with sorrow and deep sadness, and for they lost through his death what they hoped for and dreamed of such as returning the Islamic caliphate to its original source, getting rid of the wicked persons, the Ima`ms (leaders) of oppression and tyranny, establishing in their quarters political and social justice. The death of the Ima`m disappointed the Muslims, made their tears flow abundantly, and melted their hearts. So a group of poets lamented for the Ima`m through its melted souls. The following are some of it:
1. Ashja' Bin 'Amru al-Salami
Ashja' b. 'Amru al-Salami lamented for the Ima`m through a poem called 'Asma`', which gives an account of his deep sadness for losing the Ima`m of the Muslims and displays the heavy loss which befell Islamic world. The poem says:
O possessor of the camels, (O he who is seizing) their reins, urging them forward, and singing! Make (him) hear; listen, O possessor of the camels! Tomorrow recite (my) greetings to the grave at Tu`s; recite neither greetings nor blessings to Tus.
For therein a terror has befallen the hearts of the Muslims, and therein the terror of Iblis has disappeared.
And (for) it has abducted the unique one and master of the world, so what a man is he whom (the world) has abducted!
If death appeared when it circulated through (his body), it would face before it the faces of bold men.
May Tu`s be miserable! For his houses were not among that through which the days terrify him with misery.
He is resident where no residence is vague. What long remoteness and residence these are!
Surly the claws of death could reach him while before him was an army with many phalanxes.
Death came to him in the place of his brave sons, and death meets the father of cubs (i.e. the lion) in his place.
He was still taking from the light of his father, who belonged to the family of the Prophet, light which was not taken (from others); in a nursery where their branches rose in high (trees) planted in the plains of the kingdom.
And the branch ascends on nothing except on firm bases and foundations in the world.
No days is worthier of tearing at clothes nor striking at cheeks nor cutting off nose than the day of Tu`s through whose terror the mourners called out to us ( as did) the mouths of the sheets (of paper).
Indeed the time destroyed him; death seeks none except those precious. During these two minutes and two days, he is lying down in a grave; he is similar to a (person) who was buried two days ago.
During sunrise death came to him; the day of death was not withheld from him.
O he who has dwelled in a grave (in a place) other than his house! O victim of the day and not being killed!
You have been blessed by Him whom you served during midday heat in those deserts.
Were it not for that the world contradicted its own beauties, men of measures would not measure it.
Allah has made you dwell in an everlasting abode; in an abode with which Allah's Messenger is familiar.
Have you seen this painful grief which befell Islamic world out of losing the unique one and master of the world, the great Ima`m?
In his wonderful poem, Ashja' has pictured the heavy loss which befell the Muslims, and which is worthy of tearing garments and striking cheeks, for the time concealed the leader, master and Ima`m of the community.
This poem spread and the people memorized it. Ashja' was afraid of this spread, so he changed the words of the poem and composed them regarding Ha`ru`n al-Rashïd.
2. Di'bil al-Khaza'i
Di'bil al-Khaza`'i the poet of ahl al-Bayt, peace be on him wept bitter tears for Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him, and lamented for him, to the extent that his soul melted with sorrow and sadness. This is one of the poems which he has composed regarding lamenting for him:
He (al-Rida) is my own soul and, in addition, I hide in my heart love for the family of Mohammed.
The legacy of the Prophet has harmed them, so death has taken part in it.
(Men like) wolves from among the Umayyads have summoned them; successive crisis and years have lent on them.
The 'Abba`sids have caused mischief to the religion with a mischief; a wrongdoer and suspicious one have dominated it (the religion).
They have called (this) Rashï~d (wise) not because of his wisdom among them; and (they have called) that Ma'mu`n and that Amïn.
So no care has been accepted from them through wisdom (rushd); nor has religion been accepted from a ruler (from among them) through the Ima`mate.
Their Rashïd (wise) is errant, and his two sons after him (are errant too); misfortunes belong to this; apart from that is dissoluteness.
O grave whose place is strange at Tu`s, the columns weep bitter tears for you.
I doubt, so I do not know whether you were given a drink (of poison), so I will weep for you, or the suspicion of death, so it is easy (for me).
Which of them have you said? If you say that it is a drink (of poison) or (natural) death, then it is worthy (of weeping).
Are you amazed at the rude when they hide the principal features of religion while they are very clear?
Certainly, you have preceded them through your excellence. I have a verse (regarding that), but there was no certainty.
Another example of what he has composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m is these poetry lines:
Why has my eye shed tears? If it looses the water of the veins, then it will be delighted with him for whom the earth weeps, and for whom the heads of the high mountains have been brought back and they have become lowly.
The sky has mourned over missing him; the stars have wailed for him and become tired.
Allah is pleased with our late one, the grandson of our Prophet. The world had opposed (him) and turned away from him.
So today we are worthier of weeping over him because of a misfortune we regard as difficult and great.
The world after the family of Mohammed is not good; we must not pay attention to it when it vanishes.
The misfortunes of the time have become manifest, but I do not see that our misfortune regarding the chosen ones has become clear.
Another example of what he has composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m is these poetry lines:
O regret which frequents and tear which does not come to an end,
(I weep) over 'Ali b. Mu`sa` b. Ja'far b. Mohammed, who passed away strange at Tu`s (and was) like the unsheathed sword.
O Tu`s, you are blessed! Certainly, you have become the grave of the son of Ahmed.
Shed tears, O my eyes! And flame, O my heart!
Another example of what he has composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m is these poetry lines:
('Ali) b. Mu`sa` and exaltedness have departed; noble knowledge and religion have followed him just as the intimate, bosom friend does.
O delegation of generosity, old and young, come back with light bags!
We hoped that the Ima`m of guidance, who had wise opinions, would subsist.
You see his conditions and say: (They are) excellent and under his calmness is exalted excellence.
He has generous ones (who carry) his gifts and go early in the morning every day, and (he has generous ones who) roam by night.
So the decreed death has given as a gift to his soul a remote shrine.
Say to those who gloat over him: Slowly, death will let none walk; you have become delighted with the death of the young man over whom Allah's Messenger and the True Religion weep.
Yet another example of what he has composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m is these poetry lines:
O calamity who has come from the east! You have not left nor retained (anything) of me.
The death of 'Ali b. Mu`sa` al-Rida` is of Allah's wrath upon the creation.
Islam has wept over a gap which cannot be closed easily.
Heavy rain has watered the strange one whose grave has been built at Tu`s.
My eye has prevented (me) from sleeping, and my bowels have become fond of disorder.
This elegiac poetry gives an account of Di'bil's deep sadness for the death of the Ima`m of the Muslims, master of the Allah-fearing, Ima`m al-Rida`, peace be on him, whose death has left a cut in Islam.
3. Ibn al-Mushayya' al-Medeni
Among those who were burnt by the fire of sadness for missing the Ima`m, peace be on him, is Ibn al-Mushayya' al-Medeni, who has composed on lamenting for the Ima`m:
O spot wherein is my master; there is no master like him among the people.
Guidance and generosity died after him, so death has gotten ready to deaden (all good manners).
O his grave, the rain of Allah still frequents you from Him. He was for us (like) rain with which we quench (our thirst), and he was like the star through which we find the right way.
Surely 'Ali Bin Mu`sa` al-Rida` and righteousness have rested in one grave.
So O my eye, weep blood over the extinction of glory and righteousness after him!
Among the poets who lamented for the Ima`m, peace be on him, is 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah al-Khawa`fi, who says:
May Allah water you with mercy, O land of Tu`s!
What has you contained of the blessings, O Tu`s!
Your spots have become good in the world, and they have been made good by a person buried at Sana`ba`d.
A person, whose demise is difficult for Islam, is immersed in and plunged into the mercy of Allah.
O his grave, you are a grave embraced by clemency, knowledge, purity, and sacredness.
You pride yourself (upon him), for surely you are delighted with his corpse, and you are guarded by the pious angels.
This is one of the good poems which have been composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m.
Shaykh al- Sadu`q said: "I have found the poem in a book which belongs to Mohammed b. Habïb al-Dabi." It is more likely that it belongs to him, for he has mentioned that in the last lines of the poem:
In the grave at Tu`s has resided an Ima`m to whom visitation is obligatory and general.
The grave in which the Peace has resided, to which greetings and salam are given as a gift.
The grave whose flashing lights remove blindness and through whose earth maladies are repelled.
The grave which represents to eyes that Mohammed, his testamentary trustee, and al-Ma'mu`n are standing.
Eyes are lowly before this and that (i.e. Mohammed and his testamentary trustee) out of dignity; understandings are bewildered by their essences.
When visitors stop at the quarter of the grave and depart, their sins are forgiven, they supply themselves with security against punishment, and they are safe from that execution will not befall them.
Allah gives security to them (visitors) through it, and because of it the pens have become dried to them.
Had it not for it, no cloud would water the country, though it is in no need of the watering of rain.
'Ali b. Musa has resided in the grave of whose earth boast the sanctuary and the area outside sanctuary (al-hill).
The running (al-sa'i) to it has been made obligatory just as the (Sacred) House, which has, apart from it, the right of magnification.
If one visits it recognizing its right, then it is forbidden for the Hellfire to touch his body, his rank, without doubt, is praiseworthy tomorrow, he will have a place in the Gardens of Everlastingness, and he has, regarding that, Allah the Most Faithful Guarantor; (this is) an oath which all oaths reach.
Allah blesses the Prophet Mohammed and 'Ali, who supported Islam.
Likewise, al-Zahra' is eternally blessed by the Lord, Who knows her obligatory right.
He blesses him ('Ali), and then He starts with al-Hasan, and (blesses) al-Husayn, may Allah honor him.He blesses 'Ali al-Taqi, Mohammed, and every gallant Sayyid.Even though the dwarfs may be averse (to blessing), He blesses with the best blessing the educated, pure one, Ja'far al-Sa`diq (the truthful one), from whom your knowledge is reported and to whom peoples cling.
Similarly, He blesses Mu`sa`, your father, and after him, He blesses you with a permanent blessing.
He has doubled blessing for Mohammed al-Zaki; He blesses 'Ali as long as a speech continues.He blesses al-Rida` b. al-Rida` al-Hasan because of whose missing darkness has dominated the country.And He blesses his (i.e. al-Rida`'s) successor through whom the system has become complete and perfect.
For it is he who is the hoped one through whom guidance will return fresh and the (religious) precepts become firm.
Had it not for the Ima`ms, Islam would become effaced and submissive.
Each (Imam) takes the place of his predecessor until the days end in al-Qa`'im.
, if an Ima`m from among you disappears, his place is taken by his successor through whom maladies are cured.
Surely the Ima`ms are equal in excellence and knowledge when old-aged and young.
You are the means and mediation to Allah; you have taught guidance (to men), so you are the Emblems of it.
You are the guardians of the religion, the world, and those who are respected and protected for Allah.
The people (are nothing) except those who acknowledge your excellence; the diners are beasts and livestock.
Rather they are straying farther off from the path because of their unbelief, and those from among them who follow them are featherless arrows (used by ancient Arabs in divination).
They claim regarding your world as if they (did you) favor through denying your favors.
O Allah's Blessing whom He bestows upon whom He, the Munificent, chooses from among His creatures.
If your body is absent from us, your soul constantly presents.Your souls themselves are present even if (your) bodies have been hidden from eyes.
The difference between you and the Prophet is prophecy, for after that feet are equal.
Two graves are at Tu`s: The Guidance is in one, and the Error is in a grave which he sees as a flame.
Two graves are connected with each other: This (grave) is a lovable garden 1 where the Ima`m is visited.
And likewise that (grave) is a pit of the Hellfire therein burning thirst renewed for the errant one (i.e. Harun al-Rashïd).
The nearness of the errant one to the pure one (i.e. Imam al-Rida) doubles his chastisement in spite of him.
Though he is near to him, he is far, and on him is a pile of robes of chastisement.
And likewise, you are not harmed by the unclean one who has been brought nigh to you by rocks and marble.
No, rather they show you that they are greater in regret for you when you are honored and the cursed one is subjected to severe, doubled torment throughout hours, days, and years.
I wish I knew: Will your Qa`'m be a sufficient sword for fighting tomorrow?
Through the sword, my hands will quench the thirst in the bowels (for revenging) you; I have not quenched my burning thirst yet.
Your graves excite me just as landmarks and tents excite those other than me.
If someone is very fond of praising the rich, then through praising you I have ardent love.I have given to Abu` al-Hasan al-Rida` the poem as a gift, which is pleasing and (which) understandings enjoy.
Take it from al-Dabi, your servant, who has found easy blames regarding you.
If I perform Allah's right regarding you, then I have the right of the entertainment of guest when he comes at night.
Therefore, accept my purpose, for I regard your accepting my purpose as a gain.
If one comes to know about love for you through teaching, then my love for you is an inspiration.
I (i.e. the author) have never read poetry better than this poem, which flows with the soul of friendship and pure affection toward the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, the summoners to Allah and guides to His good pleasure. The poem also contains clear words and a beautiful style, for, in this poem, there is no foreign word which one's ear rejects or from which one's nature turns away; rather all the words therein are harmonious, sweet, and light to temper. Moreover, the poem has a group of high values in which the Shï'ites have believed in respect of their love for the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them.
With this poem we will end our talk about what the poets have composed concerning lamenting for the Ima`m. Generally speaking, the poems display the heavy loss which befell the Muslims when they lost their great Imam.
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