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Imam ar-Ridha's (a.s.) Patience and Perseverance

The patience and perseverance of the Imam manifest themselves clearly when he had to face psychological and emotional crises. When he went to say his farewell at the Ka'ba, Mecca, upon being ordered by al-Mamoon to be present at his court in Khurasan, he was faced with an emotional situation involving his only son Abu Ja'fer Muhammad ibn Ali al-Jawad, but he maintained with an iron will his self-control, solacing himself with a patient heart, submitting to God's Will and Decree.

Umayya ibn Ali states: "I was sitting with Abul-Hassan (A.S.) at Mecca during the year in which he performed the hajj prior to his trip to Khurasan, and Abu Ja'fer was with him when he was bidding the House (Ka'ba) good-bye. Having finished his tawaf, he went to the maqam and said his prayers there. Abu Ja'fer, accompanied by Muaffaq, was making his tawaf, till he reached the Stone. There he sat and he prolonged his sitting there. Muaffaq said to him: `May my life be sacrificed for yours! It is time you stood up.' He answered: `I do not wish to leave this place at all except by the Will of God,' and grief could easily be seen clouding over his face. Muaffaq approached Abul-Hassan and said to him: `May my life be sacrificed for yours! Abu Ja'fer is sitting by the Stone unwilling to leave,' so Abul-Hassan stood up, came to Abu Ja'fer and said: `Stand up, my loved one.' But his son said: `I do not wish to leave this place...' He said: `Do stand up, O my loved one.' After a while, he said to his father: `How can I stand up seeing that you have already said your farewell at the House never to return again?' He said: `Do stand up, my loved one.' He stood up and left with his father." 

The Imam (A.S.) patiently put up with numerous norms of persecution and injustice inflicted upon him during the reign of (Harun) al-Rashid starting with the tragedy of his father, passing by the tragedies to which the Alawides were subjected, and ending with the unfair instigations to al-Rashid by the Imam's opponents to kill him and eliminate him. The strength of the patience and perseverance of the Imam become manifest when we examine the thinly veiled political persecution from which he suffered during al-Mamoon's reign especially after the latter appointed him as his heir to the throne, fully knowing that al-Mamoon was not sincere in his intention but rather enacted a political act in which al-Mamoon played the major role solely to provide security to the shaky foundations of his regime due to the storming events the outcome of which was reflected upon the issue of who would succeed him on the throne. 

The extent of the suffering of the Imam, the degree of his bitterness and agony, and the amount of grief and sorrow which filled his heart due to the treatment meted to him by the government, can be assessed; yet he buried all of that in the depth of his mind with mute patience and perseverance. Yasir, his servant, said once: "Whenever al-Rida (A.S.) returned home on Friday from the mosque, with his face sweating and stained by blowing dust, he would raise his hands and invoke God saying, `God! If the only way I am relieved from my distress is by death, then I invoke Thee to hasten its hour.'" 

Suffices to assess the extent of his patience and perseverance to simply be aware of the fact that although he was God's Argument over His creation, he was powerless to do anything while seeing right being abandoned and wrong upheld.

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

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