Adapted from : "The Life of Imam ‘Ali al-Hadi, Study and Analysis" by: "Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi"
One of the prominent qualities of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was his generosity. He was the most liberal and generous person of his time. He was like his fathers, who gave food out of love for Him to the poor, the orphan, and the captive. They gave food to others until no food remained for their families and themselves, and gave clothes to others until no clothes remained for them. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) gave food and clothes to people until nothing remained for his family.11
Historians mentioned many examples on the generosity and charity of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) to the poor and needy. We mention some of them here:
1. Once, Abu Amr Uthman bin Sa’eed, Ahmad bin Isaaq al-Ash’ari, and ‘Ali bin Ja'far al-Hamadani went to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). Ahmad bin Isaaq complained of a debt of his. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) turned to his agent Amr and said to him, ‘Give him thirty thousand dinars and to ‘Ali bin Ja’far thirty thousand dinars.’
He also gave a sum like that to his agent. Ibn Shahrashub commented on this noble trait by saying, ‘This is a miracle that no one can perform except kings. We have not heard of such a gift.’12 Doing this, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) secured comfortable living to these notable persons and saved them from the distress of neediness.
2. Isaaq al-Jallab said, ‘On the Day of Tarwiya13 I bought many heads of sheep to Abul Hasan al-Hadi (peace be upon him) and he distributed them among his relatives.’14
3. Historians mentioned that one day Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) went from Samarra’ to a village he possessed. A nomad man came to him but did not find him in his house. His family told the nomad that Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had gone to his garden. The nomad went and found Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) there. He said to him with faint voice, ‘O son of the messenger of Allah, I am from the nomads of Kufa who believe in the guardianship of your grandfather ‘Ali bin Abu Talib. There is a heavy debt on me and I have no one to go to except you…’
Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had pity on him but he himself was in lack of money and did not have anything to help this nomad with. He wrote on a piece of paper with his handwriting that he was in debt to the nomad and he mentioned a certain amount. He said to the nomad, ‘Keep this paper with you. When I go to Surra Man Ra’a (Samarra’) and when some people come to my meeting, you come and ask me to pay back your debt. You are to insist upon this from me and mention that I have not paid you your debt. Do exactly as I say to you!’
When Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) went to Surra Man Ra’a and a group of people, among whom were some officials and secret policemen, attended his meeting, the nomad came, showed the piece of paper, and asked Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) to pay back the debt mentioned in the paper. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) apologized that he could not pay back the debt and the nomad insisted. When people left the meeting, the policemen went to al-Mutawakkil and told him about this matter. Al-Mutawakkil ordered his men to send thirty thousand dirhams to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and they did. When the nomad came, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) said to him, ‘Take this money and pay back your debt and spend the rest on your family!’
The nomad found that great and said to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), ‘My debt is less than the third of this amount…but Allah is more aware where He reveals His mission.’15 The nomad left for his family delightedly while praying Allah for Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) who had saved him from poverty and neediness.
4. Historians mentioned that once Abu Hashim al-Ja’fary underwent a severe state of neediness and he resorted to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). When Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) saw his wretchedness, he wanted to comfort him. He said to him, ‘O Abu Hashim, which blessing of Allah you want to be grateful for? Allah has endowed you with faith that saves your body from fire, endowed you with soundness that helps you in obedience, and endowed you with satisfaction that keeps you away from degradation.’ Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) gave him one hundred dinars.16
11. Sifat as-Safwa, vol.2 p.98.
13. The first day of the hajj. Tarwiya means watering.
14. Bihar al-Anwar.
15. Al-Ittihaf Bihubil Ashraf, p.67-68, Sharh Shafiyat Abu Nu’as, vol.2 p.167, Jawharat al-Kalam, p.151.
16. Amali of as-Saduq, Bihar al-Anwar.