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Attempts to Eliminate the Imam ar-Ridha (a.s.)

Ja'fer ibn Yahya says: "I heard Isa ibn Ja'fer say to Haroun (al-Rashid) upon leaving al-Riqqa for Mecca, `Remember your oath by the dignity of the descendants of Abu Talib that should anyone after Mousa (al-Kazim, A.S.) claim Imamate, you would strike his head with the sword. This Ali, his son, claims so, and people are addressing him in the same way they used to address his father.' He looked at him angrily and said, `Why? Do you expect me to eliminate each and every one of them?'" Mousa ibn Mahran says that when he heard Ja'fer ibn Yahya say so, he went to him (i.e. to Imam al-Rida) and told him what he had heard. Al-Rida (A.S.) responded by saying, "What do I have to do with them? By God, they cannot hurt me in the least." 

Such incitements were not confined within a reasonable limit but went beyond it to dangerous ones where instigation might cause al-Rashid to pay serious attention, for the Barmakis were most antagonistic towards the Descendants of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the most cruel among them in their grudge, so much so that it is reported that Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki was the one who ordered the murder of Imam Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.)69 when the Abbaside caliphate was under their mercy.70 Imam al-Rida (A.S.) rendered God's retribution against the Barmakis to their persecution and oppression the worst of which was suffered by Imam al-Kazim (A.S.).71 Suffices for proof is the fact that Yahya ibn Khalid was the one who plotted the ugly plot against Imam al-Kazim (A.S.) after causing Haroun al-Rashid to be angry with him, instigating al-Rashid against the Imam (A.S.) and using some naive weaklings among the Alawides to achieve his goal.72 

It was, indeed, an attempt which spelled the extent of grudge felt by Yahya ibn Khalid whose purpose was to pressure al-Rashid into murdering Imam al-Rida (A.S.) and make him join his father. He said to him one day: "This Ali, his son, has seated himself in place and claimed the matter (Imamate) for himself." He (al-Rashid) said: "Is it not enough for us what we have done to his father? Do you wish that we should kill them all?"73 Al-Rashid's answer points out to the extent of anguish he was suffering deep inside, and it reveals the bitter struggle exploding deep inside him. Suffices him to live carrying the guilt of murdering the pure soul of the Imam's father whom he subjected to numerous types of trials and tribulations till he joined his Lord well-pleased and satisfied after having faithfully executed the responsibilities of Imamate which were entrusted to him honestly and faithfully, while the tyrant's soul was no longer able to bear any bigger sin anymore.


69 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 226. 

70 'Umdat al-Talib, p. 185, 1st edition (Najaf, Iraq). 

71 Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 48, p. 249, quoting Al Kafi. 

72 Shaikh al-Toosi's Al Ghayba, p. 22. 

73 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 2, p. 226. 

Adapted from: "Imam al-Ridha (a.s.), A Historical and Biographical Research" by: "Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah"

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