Imam During al-Mamoon's Regime
As regarding the period of the Imam's life during which he was contemporary to al-Mamoon's regime, this may be the richest and most eventful of all his life, for his personality enjoyed a significant role in the turning of events and their reflection thereupon. But first we have to provide a general expose of the intricate events which caused Imam al-Rida (A.S.) to enjoy a significant role in the shaping of the events of that period. After that, we have to conduct a general study of the personality of al-Mamoon and of its distinctions, since he was the number one man around whom the contemporary political events revolved. Such a study may even lead us to research some other leading personalities of the time that played and assumed a large role in the political wheel of the time.
As regarding al-Mamoon, there is no doubt at all that he was one of the strongest personalities of the Abbaside caliphate during its first epoch, and one of the most moderate, highly intellectual and highly learned of its scholars. He encouraged scholarship during his regime and promoted free discussions out of his passion for increasing his own knowledge and expanding its spheres. He was also known to demonstrate an inclination towards Shi'aism, preferring Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (A.S.) to and recognizing his superiority over all other sahaba. Narrators of hadith have recorded lengthy dialogues with a number of narrators of hadith and scholars of the Sunnah and with orators which reveal a glorious intellectual depth and an absorption of his view which he strongly and enthusiastically advocated.
Adapted from: "Imam al-Ridha (a.s.), A Historical and Biographical Research" by: "Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah"
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