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Confused Behaviour of al-Rashid Towards His Sons

Al-Rashid seemed to sense deep inside his soul the psychological gap which separated his son al-Amin from him when he detained the messenger his son had dispatched to Khurasan in the pretext of bringing him back news about his father's health conditions whereas in reality he was carrying secret letters to army leaders and civilian notables to be delivered to them immediately after the death of his father al-Rashid. The letters contained orders to carry out the duties the recipients were expected to perform. The objective was to depose his brother al-Mamoon from actual authority vested upon him by his father. Al-Rashid tried to extract an admission from the messenger that he was carrying secret letters from al-Amin to army leaders and civilian notables, but he did not succeed even when his patience reached its limit and he threatened the messenger to have him killed, and he almost did so before death overtook him whereupon the messenger was subsequently released and the letters were delivered as planned. The result was the army leaders and their troops reneging on the promises they swore to al-Rashid, causing a great deal of political chaos.85 

We can easily discern the confusing ordeal which dominated the conduct of al-Rashid regarding his arrangement of the issue of his own succession by his sons. He was not satisfied with just securing assurances and taking the most serious of oaths from his sons al-Amin and al-Mamoon, so he went during the hajj season to Mecca to require his sons to write down their pledges, then he hung what they wrote down on the walls of the sacred Ka'ba in the presence of a multitude of people so that those who did not witness the event would be told by those who did so on that day.


85 Ibn al-Athir, Vol. 5, pp. 134-135. 

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

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