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Ethical and Humane Conduct of Imam al-Rida (a.s.)

Good manners constitute a significant part of ones personality. They unveil the innermost nature of the individual, highlighting the extent of its purity of origin when it translates belief into action. The Imam was characterized by a most noble personality which won him the love of the commoners as well as the elite, by extraordinary humanity derived from the spirit of the Message itself one of whose custodians he himself was, a person who safeguarded it and inherited its innermost secrets.

Ibrahim ibn al-Abbas al-Suli is quoted saying: I never saw Abul-Hassan al-Rida (A.S.) angering anyone by something he said, nor did I ever see him interrupting anyone, nor refusing to do someone a favour he was able to do, nor did he ever stretch his legs before an audience, nor leaned upon something while his companion did not, nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name, nor did I ever see him spit or burst into laughter; rather, his laughter was just a smile. When he was ready to eat and he sat to be served, he seated with him all his attendants, including the doorman and the groom. He adds, Do not, therefore, believe anyone who claims that he saw someone else enjoying such accomplishments. A guest once kept entertaining him part of the night when the lamp started fading and the guest stretched his hand to fix it, but Abul-Hassan (A.S.) swiftly checked him and fixed it himself, saying, We are folks who do not let their guest tend on them. Al-Manaqib states that al-Rida (A.S.) once went to the public bath-house and someone asked him to give him a massage, so he kept giving the man a massage till someone recognized him and told that person who that dignitary was. The man felt extremely embarrassed; he apologized to the Imam (A.S.) and gave him a massage. Muhammad ibn al-Fadl narrates the following anecdote regarding the Imams simple personality. He says:

Al-Rida (A.S.), on the occasion of Eidul-Fitr, said to one of his attendants, May God accept your good deeds and ours, then he stood up and left. On the occasion of Eidul-Adha, he said to the same man, May God accept our good deeds and yours. I asked him, O son of the Messenger of God! You said something to this man on the occasion of Eidul-Fitr and something else on the occasion of Eidul-Adha; why? He answered: I pleaded God to accept his good deeds and ours because his action was similar to mine and I combined it with mine in my plea, whereas I pleaded God to accept our good deeds and his because we are capable of offering the ceremonial sacrifice while he is not; so, our action is different from his. Thus does Imam al-Rida (A.S.) become in total harmony with his message in the area of ethics, personifying the latter into action derived from the spirit of the message whereby he ascends to the summit of human perfection, rising thereby to the shores of the individuals own real greatness. It is through this and similar means that the sincerity of faith and loftiness and dignity of the self are recognized.

Adapted from the book: "Imam al-Rida (a.s.)"

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