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Imam ar-Ridha (a.s.) as Saviour

The only hope those leaders had had to save the deteriorating situation was to request Imam al-Rida (A.S.) to disclose the reality of the situation to al-Mamoon since he was the only one who could not be harmed by al-Fadl nor could anyone incite al-Mamoon against him. Ibn Khaldun writes:

"When these discords took place in Iraq because of al-Hassan ibn Sahl, and due to people's resentment of his and his brother's excessive influence over al-Mamoon, then the nomination of Ali ibn Mousa al-Rida (A.S.) and the transfer of the caliphate from the Abbasides, al-Fadl ibn Sahl was concealing all of that from al-Mamoon, and he was going to extremes in such concealment, for fear al-Mamoon might change his heart about him and his brother. When Harthama came, he knew that he was going to tell al-Mamoon about all of that, and that al-Mamoon trusted the advice of Harthama; so, he perfected his incitement against him with al-Mamoon till he made him change his mind about the man and kill him, and he did not even listen to what he wanted to say; therefore, the displeasure of the Shi'as there as well as of the residents of Baghdad increased against him, and dissensions became widespread. The commanders of al-Mamoon's army started talking about it, but they could not inform him of it, so they approached Ali al-Rida (A.S.) and asked him to convey the matter to al-Mamoon. And so it was. He informed him of the rioting and killing in Iraq and that people criticized him for the favourite status of al-Fadl and al-Hassan, and for his (al-Rida's) nomination. Al-Mamoon asked, `Who else besides you knows all of that?' He said, `Yahya ibn Ma'ad, Abdul-Aziz ibn Imran and other prominent army leaders.' So he called them to him, and they did not reveal anything except after he had pledged for them their own security, and they told him exactly what al-Rida (A.S.) had already told him."127

Tabari provides us with a clear and more precise picture of Imam al-Rida's situation; he says:

"It was rumoured that Ali ibn Mousa ibn Ja'fer ibn Muhammad the Alawide told al-Mamoon about the dissension and inter-killing among people, that since the assassination of his brother, al-Fadl was concealing the news from him, that his own family and the public criticized him for certain reasons and said he was a bewildered madman, and that since they saw that he was doing all of that, they swore the oath of allegiance to his uncle Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi as the caliph. Al-Mamoon said, `They did not swear the oath of allegiance to him; rather, they accepted him as a governor ruling them in the way al-Fadl had instructed him.' He informed him that al-Fadl had indeed lied to him and that he cheated him as well, adding, `The war between Ibrahim and al-Hassan ibn Sahl is raging; people criticize him for the status you gave him (al-Fadl) and his brother, and they criticize your nomination of myself as your successor.' He asked, `Who else in my army is aware of that?' He said, `Yahya ibn Ma'ad, Abdul-Aziz ibn Imran, and a number of prominent military commanders.' So he called them to his court, and they were Yahya ibn Ma'ad, Abdul-Aziz ibn Imran and Mousa and Ali ibn Abu Sa'id who was son of al-Fadl's sister, and Khalaf the Egyptian, and he asked them about what he had heard, but they refused to tell him anything unless he guaranteed their safety against the threat revenge of al-Fadl ibn Sahl. He guaranteed that for them, and he wrote each one of them a statement in his own handwriting to that effect. Then they told him about the discords among his subjects, about the deliberate misinformation he heard from al-Fadl regarding Harthama, and that Tahir ibn al-Husayn had done an excellent job serving him and opened many lands to his government and strengthened his caliphate, and when he accomplished all of that, he was rewarded by banishment to Riqqa where he was not permitted to receive funds from anyone, till his authority was weakened and his troops mutinied, that had his caliphate been in Baghdad, he would have had a better control and nobody would have dared to mislead him as al-Hassan ibn Sahl had, that the land from one end to the other was shaking under his feet, that Tahir ibn al-Husayn had been forgotten that year since the murder of Muhammad in Riqqa without being utilized in these wars while someone who was a lot less qualified was in charge..."128

Notes:

127 Ibn Khaldun, Vol. 3, p. 249

128 Tabari, Vol. 8, p. 564

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

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