Rafed English

The Life of Imam ALI bin Muhammad AL-HADI

The Life of Imam ALI bin Muhammad AL-HADI

by :

Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi

To the pioneer of wisdom and social justice in the earth,
To the thinking mind of humanity,
To the guardian of the Messenger of Allah (blessing and peace be upon him), his companion and friend Ameerul Mo’mineen, peace be on him,
I offer, with all pride and faith, this humble work that I have had the honor of studying the life of his grandson Imam Ali al-Hadi (peace be upon him), the renovator of Islam, hoping it will be accepted to be a supply to me on the day when I shall meet my Lord.

The Author


We are before an imam of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) who filled the world with their virtues and sciences, devoted their lives to Allah, and were loyal to the truth in the full sense of loyalty. He is the tenth imam; Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) whose name is like his grandfather’s; Ameerul Mo’mineen (a.s.), the pioneer of wisdom and social justice in the earth. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was like his grandfather in asceticism and in giving his back to the material pleasures. It was never mentioned that he had followed any fancy or submitted to any desire that was away from the truth. He had preferred the obedience of Allah to everything else. He was so fond of his Lord that he spent his nights worshipping, supplicating, and invoking Allah the Almighty.

His faith in Allah reacted inside his deep and essence until it was one of his most prominent qualities and constituents. Many exalted supplications, wise invocations, and wonderful maxims in monotheism were related from him showing that he was one of the first leaders who raised the torch of guidance and faith in the earth.

Allah had endowed the imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) with knowledge, wisdom, and virtues that He had never endowed anyone else of His people with at all. The great knowledge and sciences that were transmitted from them were a source of pride. The young and old of the infallible imams (a.s.) have been distinguished with this phenomenon. Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) assumed the religious leadership and the general authority of the nation since his early years. He was just seven years and some months of old. He was asked about the most complicated philosophical, theological, and jurisprudential questions and he answered them all as if he was an expert scholar though he was a child yet. Of course, there is no justification for that except that which the Twelver Shia believe that Allah has endowed the infallible imams (a.s.) with extraordinary powers of knowledge and sciences as He has endowed His Arch-Prophets with.

As Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) was the wonder of the world with his talents and geniuses, so was his son Imam Ali al-Hadi (a.s.). Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was yet too young when he was afflicted with the death of his father. The ulama and jurisprudents of the Shia, who were so cautious in the matter of imamate, referred to him and researched as far as they could and with utmost accuracy on the matter of imamate. When they found the definite proofs on his imamate, they believed in him. They did not let themselves be carried away by passions or fancies in that, but they saw that they were responsible for that before Allah because imamate for them is one of the bases “usul” of religion.

Anyhow, the ulama and jurisprudents of the Shia asked Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), while he was yet too young, about different branches of knowledge and he answered them with answers of an expert that made them believe in his imamate. This made them more faithful and certain of what they believed that an imam must be the most knowledgeable one of his time with no difference whether young or old.

The knowledge, virtue, and delving into the sciences of the Qur’an and the Sunna of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) astonished the minds and made meetings and sessions in all sides of the Muslim world busy talking about his unlimited scientific treasure.

Great numbers of Muslims believed in the imamate of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and found it obligatory on them to follow and obey him. Great monies of legal dues that must be given to the imam were carried to him besides presents and donations Muslims offered to him. Investigators and policemen reported that in detail to al-Mutawakkil, the Abbasid caliph, who was the bitterest enemy of the Alawids and their followers the Shia. The caliph became so angry and was filled with grudge. He ordered Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) to be carried to “Surra Men Ra’a”. 1 He imposed house-arrest on him there to watch all his activities, know his followers, and prevent monies from coming to him. He prevented scholars and narrators from associating with him. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) suffered too much during the reign of al-Mutawakkil who ordered his men from time to time to search the house of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and carry the imam (a.s.) however he was. Once, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was brought to the meeting of al-Mutawakkil while glasses of wine were here and there, songsters and songstresses sang with their musical instruments and al-Mutawakkil, the caliph, was drunken and surrounded by groups of singers and dalliers. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) neither respected him nor feared his authority but began advising and reminding him of the afterlife and criticizing the state of dalliance, amusement, and pleasure he was in. We shall detail that later on inshallah.

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was the only representative of the front of opposition to the Abbasid rule, and one of the prominent leaders of the nation who struggled against tyranny and oppression. He took a brave, strict situation against the kings of his age. He did not associate with anyone of them and he preferred to be away from them. Therefore, they had grudge and enmity against him and faced him with severity and violence.

If Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had humored or flattered the kings of his age, they would not have imposed house-arrest on him in Surra Men Ra’a, or the economical blockade that had led him to critical insolvency, or prevented him from meeting his followers. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) preferred the consent of Allah and the advantage of the nation to anything else; therefore he turned away from those kings who imposed their authorities by force and oppression. We shall give in this book a clear picture on their policies and lives quoted from the most reliable sourcebooks of history.

Not only Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was afflicted with the Abbasid kings of his time, but all Muslims were afflicted with them. The Abbasids played with the principles of religion and no shadow of Islam remained as it was during their reigns. They exploited the economy of the nation to satisfy their pleasures. They spent the wealth of Muslims wastefully on singers and dalliers. Their red nights in Baghdad and Samarra’ were full of all that which Allah had prohibited. They absolutely turned their backs to the Islamic principles and indulged in pleasures and lusts.

The study of an age is one of the systematic researches in studying the life of one who lives in that age, because it uncovers the important sides of the intellectual, social, and political life of that age. In the light of this fact, we have to study the age of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and cover all its sides because it had influence on the life of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.).

The age of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was rife with terrible events, the most prominent one of which was the dominance of the Turks over all the affairs of the state and their possessing of the general economy to a degree that the Abbasid kings had no influence and were away from all the interior and foreign affairs of the state. When the Turks were pleased with the Abbasid caliph, they kept him in his position and when they were not, they deposed or killed him. Due to that, the nation faced dangerous crises because the Turks were not well-qualified to rule and to run the political affairs of the state for they were nomads with no civilization or administration.

The book mentions the companions of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), his disciples, and the narrators of his traditions. I think I am the only one who has studied the lives of the infallible imams (a.s.) in this way, because the modern studies have paid no attention to this side or ignored it at all. As I think, studying this side completes the study of the life of the imam because it shows the aspects of his intellectual and cultural life and the extent of his relation with people and people’s relations with him. At the same time, there is important information about the imam that has not been mentioned in the books of biographies that have studied his life but mentioned within the biographies of his companions.

This book is not the first that has been written on the life of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). Allama Sheikh Thabeehullah has written in detailed about him. He has assigned the third volume of his encyclopedia “Ma’athir al-Kubara” on Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) when talking about the city of Samarra’. Also Professor Abdurrazak Shakir al-Badri ash-Shafi’iy has written a book called “The life of the tenth Imam Ali al-Hadi”. I think that what has been written on this great imam, including this book, does not cover all his virtues, works, and concerns but it sheds lights upon the aspects of his great personality that was the continuity of the lives of his fathers who had all virtues and nobilities of the world.

I find it my duty, at the end of this introduction, to acknowledge the favor and record my great appreciation to His Eminence, my brother, grand Allama Sheikh Hadi Sharif al-Qurashi (may Allah bless him) for his sincere help in writing this book. He reviewed many sources including some encyclopedias such as “Wassa’il ash-Shia” and others and offered me much information on the life of Imam Abul Hasan al-Hadi az-Zakiy (a.s.). I pray Allah to reward him with the best as sincere prayer from a brother for his brother.

Holy Najaf
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi


His birth and upbringing

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was a pure branch from the tree of prophethood and a shiny bough from the tree of imamate. By him and his fathers Allah has consolidated Islam and exalted monotheism. Before talking about the aspects of his great personality, we talk about his pure origin, birth, and upbringing.

The origin and the birth

His father

The father of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was Imam Muhammad al-Jawad bin 2 Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Ali bin al-Husayn bin Ali bin Abu Talib (peace be upon them). It is the most exalted lineage in Islam. Humankind, throughout all its ages, has never had a lineage more honorable and more exalted than this lineage that has lit the world with the essence of Islam and faith. From this great, honorable family Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) came to the existence. His father, Imam al-Jawad (a.s.), was the wonder of the world through his talents and geniuses. He, after the death of his father Imam ar-Redha (a.s.), assumed the general religious authority and leadership of the nation while he was seven years and some months. The Abbasid government seized this opportunity and charged Yahya bin Aktham, who was one of the great ulama at that time, to test Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) and refute him so that the fact that the imam was the most knowledgeable one of his age, which was and is one of the basic elements in the Shiite doctrine, would come to nothing. Yahya asked Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) before a big crowd of scholars, viziers, and officials of the Abbasid government about a jurisprudential question and Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) ramified the question into many branches. Yahya was astonished and he felt a failure and acknowledged the exceptional scientific abilities of Imam al-Jawad (a.s.). The news of this event and of others circulated in the meetings of Baghdad and everywhere.

His mother

Before we talk about the mother of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) we would like to say, as we have said many times before, that Islam has adopted the unity of society and struggled against all the means that might lead to disagreement or break that unity. In the light of this fact, the imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) walked. They did not differentiate between the White and the Black. They got married to bondmaids in order to do away with all kinds of racial segregation. Imam Ali bin al-Husayn Zaynul Aabidin (as-Sajjad) (a.s.) got married to a bondmaid who gave birth to Zayd the eternal martyr, and Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s.) got married to a bondmaid who gave birth to Imam Ali al-Hadi (a.s.).

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) bought this bondmaid and he himself educated her. She lived in the house of imamate with the Alawid women, the daughters of the messenger of Allah (a.s.), who were the example of honor, chastity, and purity. She was affected by their conducts and devoted herself to worship Allah. She spent her nights worshipping and reciting the Book of Allah. 3

It sufficed her that she had given birth to a master from the masters of Muslims and an imam from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) whom Allah has made safety and deliverance for people.

Historians disagreed on her name. Here are some of the names as mentioned by historians:

1. Sumana al-Maghribiyya 4 and known as Lady Ummul Fadhl 5

2. Mariya al-Qubtiyya 6

3. Yadash 7

4. Haweet 8

There are other sayings but the detailing in this point is not so important to the subject.

Great newborn baby

Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) was born in Siriya 9 in Yathrib (Medina) 10 and by this birth the world was delighted. No one had ever been born in that age more pious, more devoted, or more knowledgeable than him at all. He inherited all qualities of good, honor, and nobility.

Ceremonies of the birth

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) performed the certain rituals for his blessed newborn son. He performed azan in his right ear and eqama in the left, circumcised him on the seventh day after the birth, cut the hair of his head, gave silver, as much as the weight of the hair, to the poor, and slaughtered a ram as aqiqa 11 as it was usual for the imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) with their children when being born.

Birth date

Most of historians agreed that Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was born in 212 AH 12 and it was also said that he was born in 214 AH 13 but they disagreed on the month and day of birth. Here are some of their sayings:

1. He was born on the twenty-seventh of Thul Hijja. 14

2. He was born on the thirteenth of Rajab. 15

3. He was born on Monday, the third of Rajab.

4. Some sources mentioned that he was born in Rajab but without mentioning the day. It has been mentioned in some du’as (supplications) that, “O Allah, I ask You by the ones born in Rajab, Muhammad bin Ali the second and Ali bin Muhammad al-Muntajab”.

Some historians did not mention the month and the day of his birth but said he was born in Medina. 16

His name

His father Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) named him Ali like the blessed name of his two great grandfathers Ameerul Mo’minin Imam Ali (a.s.) and Imam Ali bin al-Husayn Zaynul Aabidin (a.s.). He resembled his grandfather Imam Ali (a.s.) in eloquence and rhetoric and his grandfather Imam Zaynul Aabidin in piety, worshipping, and asceticism.

His surname

Giving a surname to a child was a kind of honoring which helped his personality grow well towards perfection. The infallible imams (a.s.) noticed this important fact and therefore, they surnamed their children in their early childhood. The Arabs were proud of surname.

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) surnamed his son Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) as Abul Hasan which was the same as the surnames of his two grandfathers Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) and Imam ar-Redha (a.s.). Narrators differentiated between these three imams in this surname by saying Abul Hasan the First (Imam Musa al-Kadhim), Abul Hasan the Second (Imam ar-Redha), and Abul Hasan the Third (Imam Ali al-Hadi).

His epithets

His epithets expressed the high qualities he had. His epithets are as follows:

1. An-Nasih (loyal); he was called so because he was the sincerest advisor to the nation.

2. Al-Mutawakkil (reliant on Allah); he disliked this epithet and ordered his companions not to call him with it. I think he hated this epithet because it was the epithet of the Abbasid caliph Ja’far al-Mutawakkil who had bitter grudge, spite, and enmity towards the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

3. At-Taqiy (pious, devout); he was called so because he feared Allah and turned to Him. Al-Mutawakkil, the tyrant Abbasid caliph, tried his best to attract Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) to the fields of amusement and debauchery but he failed.

4. Al-Murtadha (being pleased with by Allah); it was his most famous epithet.

5. Al-Faqeeh (jurisprudent); he was the most aware of his age in jurisprudence and he was the authority that jurisprudents and scholars referred to.

6. Al-Aalim (knowledgeable); he was the most knowledgeable one of people at that time not only in the Islamic laws, but all branches of knowledge and sciences.

7. Al-Ameen (trustee on religion and life)

8. At-Tayyib (generous, good-hearted, good-natured …)

9. Al-Askari (military); he was called so because he resided in Surra Men Ra’a (Samarra’) which was called al-Askar. 17

10. Al-Muwadhdhih (explainer of the verdicts of the Holy Book and the Sunna)

11. Ar-Rasheed (wise, prudent); he was called so because he was the wisest and most prudent of his time.

12. Ash-Shaheed (the martyr) because he was martyred at the hands of the enemies of Allah.

13. Al-Wafiy (loyal); he was the most loyal of his people, and loyalty was an element of his personality.

14. Al-Khalis (pure from every defect and bad)

His lineaments

He was brown18 like his father Imam al-Jawad and grandfather Imam ar-Redha (peace be upon them). Narrators described that he was black-eyed, with thick hands, wide chest, hooked nose, pretty face, and good body odour. He was stout in body like his grandfather Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (a.s.), neither short nor tall, with wide shoulders, big organs 19 …straight stature.20

His charm

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) resorted to Allah the Almighty to protect his son Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) from troubles and adversities of time and from every evil. Every day he charmed him with this du’a that showed his devotedness to Allah:

“In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, there is no power save in Allah, the Exalted, the Great. O Allah, the Lord of angels and Gabriel, prophets and messengers, the Omnipotent over the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, and the Creator and Possessor of everything, protect me from the harm of our enemies, and whoever wants to do us wrong from the jinn and human beings. O Allah, blind their eyes and hearts and make between us and them screen, guard, and defender. You are our Lord and there is no power and might save in Allah. On Him we have relied and to Him we have turned and He is the Mighty, the Wise. O our Lord, save us from every evil, and from the evil of every living creature you have control on, and from the evil of everything that calms down on the day and the night, and from every bad, and from the evil of every evildoer. O Lord of the worlds and the Lord of messengers, have blessings on Muhammad and all his progeny and favor Muhammad and his progeny with the best of everything, and there is no power save in Allah, the High, the Great. In the name of Allah, and in Allah I believe, and from Allah I seek protection, and to Allah I resort, and with Allah I seek refuge, and by the glory and might of Allah I seek protection from the devils of the humans and the jinn, and from their footing, knighting, and running, and from their cunning and evil, and from the evil of what they do under night and under day, from far and from near, and from the evil of the present and the absent, and of the witness and the visitor alive or dead…and from the evil of far people and close people, and from the evil of my self in its obsession, and from the evil of the devils, and the sense, touch, and dubiosity, and from the envy of the jinn and the humans.

And by the name, which the throne of Balqis 21 shook for, I protect my religion and self, and all those under my care from the evil of every figure or imagination, whiteness or blackness, statue or appearance, ally or not ally of whatever dwells in the air, cloud, darkness, light, shadow, hot, cold, seas, plains, badlands, ruins, building, hills, marshes, moors, churches, graveyards (of Christians), deserts and cemeteries, from the emanating who appear in the night and disappear on day, evening and morning, afternoon and sunset, and from the suspicious and accusers, and the talebearers in the night, the devils, the Pharaohs, Satan, and from their soldiers, wives, tribes, and clans, and from their backbiting, slandering, expectoration, maligning, magic, beating, playing, deceit, and from the evil of every wicked of magicians, the jinn, their wind, and all what they generate…and from the evil of every wicked coming or going, accidental or resisting, calm or moving, and the beating of a vein, and headache and fever…and from the evil of every living creature you have power on, You are on Right Path. O Allah, have blessing on Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad and much peace…’

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) fed his great newborn son with this du’a so that he would receive live with confidence that the power which ran and managed this universe was but Allah the Almighty, the Creator of everything and the Maker of life and whatsoever else than Him had no power. Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) planted in his son the absolute faith in the powers of Allah, and taught him that resorting must be only to Allah Who saved from all misfortunes and distresses.

His upbringing

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) grew up in a family different from all families in its noble conducts, high morals, and lofty virtues. Their young revered the old and the old respected the young. Historians mentioned wonderful pictures from the high conducts of the members of this great family. They said that Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) did never talk before his brother Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) as a kind of reverence. They said that Imam Zaynul Aabidin (a.s.) did not eat with his mother or nursemaid for fear that he might eat something that his mother or nursemaid had looked at to pick and then he might be undutiful to her. These morals were like the morals of the prophets that were and are not found in other than this great family. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) grew up under the wing of his father Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) who was the wonderful example of virtues and high morals. Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) shed lights from his soul on his son and planted his virtues into him. He always praised his son and showed his admiration of his talents and geniuses. Historians said that when Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) wanted to go to Iraq, he seated Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), who was six years then, in his lap and said to him, ‘What do you like as present from the masterpieces of Iraq?’

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) smiled and said, ‘A sword like a flame.’

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) turned to his son Musa and said to him, ‘And you! What do you like?’

Musa said, ‘Some mats.’

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) did not hide his admiration and he said to his son al-Hadi (a.s.), ‘Abul Hasan (al-Hadi) is like me…!’ He was delighted because this showed courage and valor which were from his and his fathers’ qualities.

His early genius

The intelligence, geniuses, and talents Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had in his childhood astonished the minds and amazed the intellect. He had a strong memory, excessive intelligence, and sharp wit. Historians have mentioned many examples on his intelligence. They mentioned that al-Mu’tasim, the Abbasid caliph, after he had assassinated Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s.), charged Umar bin al-Faraj to go to Yathrib (Medina) in order to choose a teacher for Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) who was six years and some months then. He asked him to choose a teacher that must be one of the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) so that he would feed him with hatred towards the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). When Umar arrived in Yathrib, he met the wali there and informed him of his task. The wali and some others directed him to al-Junaydi who had intense grudge towards the Alawids. Umar sent for al-Junaydi who accepted the task. A monthly salary was assigned to al-Junaydi and he was charged to prevent the Shia from visiting or contacting with Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). Al-Junaydi began teaching Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) but he was astonished at the sharp wit and acute intelligence of him. One day, Muhammad bin Ja’far met al-Junaydi and asked him,

‘What about this boy (Imam al-Hadi) whom you teach?’

Al-Junaydi said to him angrily, ‘Do you say “this boy” and not “this sheikh”? I ask you by Allah; do you know anyone in Medina more aware in knowledge and literature than me?’

Muhammad bin Ja’far said, ‘No!’

Al-Junaydi said, ‘I mention some matters of literature and think that I have elaborated upon them, but he (Imam al-Hadi) opens sections of literature where I myself learn from him. People think that I teach him, but, by Allah, I learn from him …’

After some time Muhammad bin Ja’far met al-Junaydi again and asked him, ‘What about the boy?’ Al-Junaydi said to him, ‘Let you not say so! By Allah, he is the best of the inhabitants of the earth and the best of the creatures of Allah. Many a time, when he wants to enter his room, I say to him, ‘You do not enter the room until you recite a sura.’ He says, ‘Which sura you want me to recite?’ I ask him to recite long suras and he recites them in a way that I have heard no recitation better than his. He recites the suras with a voice nicer than the pipes of Prophet David (a.s.). He has memorized the Qur'an from its beginning until its end and he knows its revelation and interpretation…’ Al-Junaydi added, ‘This young boy grew up in Medina between black walls. How did he get this wide knowledge? Glory be to Allah!’

Al-Junaydi gave up his enmity towards the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and believed in them and in their imamate.’ 22

Of course, there is no justification to this phenomenon except that which the Shia believe that Allah has endowed the infallible imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), whether young or old, with knowledge, wisdom, and virtue that He has not endowed anyone of His people with at all.

His gravity and reverence

He inherited gravity and reverence from his fathers. The mien of prophets and brightness of guardians appeared on him, and no one of his enemies or followers met him unless he revered and respected him highly. Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Ashtar al-Alawi said, ‘One day, I was with my father at the door of al-Mutawkkil (the Abbasid caliph) among a crowd of people. While we were waiting there, Abul Hasan (al-Hadi) came and all the people dismounted revering and honoring him until he entered the palace. Someone denied this reverence towards Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and said, ‘Why do we dismount to this boy? By Allah, he is neither the noblest nor the eldest of us. By Allah, we do not dismount to him when he comes out.’

Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari replied to him, ‘By Allah, you shall dismount to him with meanness and lowness.’

When Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) came out, people began crying out with takbir and tahlil 23 and all of them stood up glorifying him. Abu Hashim turned to people and said, ‘Did you not claim that you would not dismount to him?’

They said, ‘By Allah, we could not control ourselves until we dismounted.’ 24

Hearts revered and honored him, and this reverence did not come out of authority or rule, but it resulted from his devotedness to Allah, asceticism in the worldly life, and utmost piety. He came out of the meanness of disobedience of Allah to the honor of obedience. From the great reverence of people towards him, was that whenever he came to al-Mutawakkil in his palace, everyone in the palace hastened to serve him. They competed to raise the curtains, open the doors, etc., and they did not ask him to do anything by himself. 25

The Alawids’ reverence towards him

All the Alawids agreed on revering and honoring Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and acknowledging his leadership and virtue. Among them was the uncle of his father Zayd the son of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) who was a respectable old man. One day, Zayd asked Umar bin al-Faraj, who was the doorkeeper of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), to ask permission for him. He was permitted to come in to have honor of meeting Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). Zayd came in to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), who was in the front of the meeting. He sat before Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) as a manner of honoring, glorifying, and believing in his imamate. The next day, Zayd came to the meeting of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) who was not present yet. Zayd sat in the front of the meeting. When Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) came, Zayd jumped and seated Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) in his place, although Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was too young then and Zayd was too old. 26

Relation of the People of the Book to him

The reverence towards Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was not limited to Muslims. People of the Book other than Muslims believed in his high position near Allah. When they faced a misfortune, they carried gifts to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and took him as means to relieve their misfortunes. Hibatollah bin Abu Mansor al-Musily said that Yousuf bin Ya’qob the Christian had had relation with his father. Once, he came to his father as guest and his father asked him why he had come to Baghdad. He said, ‘It was sent for me to meet al-Mutawakkil and I did not know what for, but I bought myself with one hundred dinars that I gave to Ali bin Muhammad bin ar-Redha (Imam al-Hadi).’ Hibatollah added, ‘My father congratulated him, and then he left Baghdad towards Surra Man Ra’a. 27 He stayed there for some days and then came back delightedly. My father asked him about his travel and he replied, ‘I arrived in Surra Man Ra’a, which I had not visited before. I liked to take the one hundred dinars to the son of ar-Redha (Imam al-Hadi) before I would go to meet al-Mutawakkil. I asked about him and it was said to me that al-Mutawakkil had prevented him from going out and that he kept to his house. I feared to visit him and refrained from asking about him. It came to my mind that I would ride on my sumpter and go to the town so that I might know something about him without asking. Walking in the streets and markets, I got to a house that it came to my mind it might be the house of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). I asked my servant to see whose house it was. The servant asked and it was said to him that it was the house of the son of ar-Redha. My servant knocked the door and a black servant came out towards me and said, ‘Are you Yousuf bin Ya’qob?’ ‘Yes!’ I replied. He said, ‘Dismount!’ I dismounted from my sumpter and he took me into a vestibule. He went in and then came out asking me, ‘Where are the one hundred dinars?’ I gave them to him and he took them to the imam. After a while, he came and permitted me to come in. I came in. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was alone. He looked at me kindly and compassionately and said, ‘Is it not yet for you?-he meant (to be guided).’

I said, ‘O my master, a sufficient proof has appeared to me!’

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) said, ‘How far! You will not be a Muslim, but your son will and he will be from our Shia. O Yousuf, there are some people claiming that our guardianship does not benefit ones like you. Go to what you have come to! You shall see what you like.’

Yousuf was astonished at the miracle he saw from Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). He went to al-Mutawakkil and got all that he wanted. Hibatollah said, ‘Yousuf died and I met his son who was a good Muslim following the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). He told me that his father was still Christian when he died, and that he (the son) became a Muslim after the death of his father. He often said, ‘I am the good tiding of my master’’. 28

The people of the Book believed in Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and found in his life a continuity to the lives of prophets and saints.

What authors say about him

All those, who wrote the life of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), saw honor, dignity, knowledge, piety, and charisma in his great personality and showed their admiration and high regard to him. Here are some sayings of historians and scholars about him:

1. Abul Falah al-Hanbali

Abdul Hayy Abul Falah al-Hanbali says, ‘Abul Hasan bin Ali al-Jawad bin ar-Redha bin Musa al-Kadhim bin Ja’far as-Sadiq al-Alawi al-Husayni, who is known as al-Hadi, was a jurisprudent, worshipping imam. He was one of the imams whom the Shiite exaggerators believe to be infallible like prophets…’ 29

2. Al-Yafi’iy

Al-Yafi’iy says, ‘Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was worshipful, jurisprudent, imam…’ 30

3. Abul Fida’

He says, ‘Ali at-Taqiy (pious) is one of the twelve imams of the Shia. He is Ali az-Zakiy bin Muhammad al-Jawad…’ 31

4. Ibn as-Sabbagh al-Maliki

He says, “Someone of scholars said, ‘The virtue of Abul Hasan has established its domes on the galaxy, and stretched its ropes on the stars. No excellence is counted, unless to him is its end and no nobility is mentioned, unless to him are its details and totality, and no high quality is regarded, unless his proofs appear on it. He deserved all that due to the essence of liberal qualities that he alone had, and glory that governed his lofty nature which was purified from any blemish, and so his nature and morals were pleasant, his conducts were fair, and his qualities were virtuous. His gravity, calmness, certainty, chastity, honesty, and wit were like the Prophet’s and Ali’s. He had a pure soul and high determination that no one of men resembled him in, and he lived a coarse life of asceticism that no human participated him in or looked forward to it. 32

5. Ibn Shahrashub

He says, ‘He (Imam al-Hadi) was the best and most truthful of people. He was the wittiest from near and the most perfect from far. When he kept silent, gravity appeared on him, and when he spoke, splendor appeared on him. He was from the house of prophethood and imamate, and the abode of guardianship and caliphate. A branch from the lofty tree of prophethood was he, and a fruit from the tree of the mission was he…’ 33

6. Al-Qutb ar-Rawandi

He says, ‘As for Ali bin Muhammad al-Hadi, all qualities of imamate have gathered in him. His virtue, knowledge, and good merits have been perfected. All his morals were extraordinary like the morals of his fathers. He spent the night worshipping towards the Qibla wearing a wool garment and sitting on a mat. If we mention his high qualities, the book shall be prolonged with them.’ 34

7. Ath-Thahabi

He says, ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Zaynol Aabidin bin as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Alawi al-Husayni was jurisprudent and one of the twelve imams. The Twelver Shia call him al-Manari.’ 35

8. Ibn Hajar

He says, ‘Ali al-Hadi was the heir of his father’s knowledge and generosity.’ 36

9. Ibn Anbasah

He says, ‘Ali al-Hadi is surnamed as al-Askari because he lived in Surra Man Ra’a which was called al-Askar. His mother was Umm Walad (bondmaid) who was absolutely virtuous and noble…’ 37

10. Muhammad bin Talha

Muhammad bin Talha ash-Shafi’iy says, ‘As for the qualities of Ali al-Hadi, ears did never receive more pleasant than them that they surrounded him as precious pearls in their shells. What witnessed for Abul Hasan Ali al-Hadi was that his soul was described with invaluable descriptions, and that it was in the position of prophethood in its honor of ranks and honor of roots…’ 38

11. Aagha Buzurg at-Tahrani

This great researcher says, ‘Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was the best of his brothers. He inherited the knowledge and generosity of his fathers. The imamate moved and was limited to him from among his brothers because he had all the conditions of imamate. The conditions of imamate are knowledge, justice, qualifiedness, soundness of senses and organs that does not affect one’s determination and action, being Arab from Quraysh, besides being from the Hashemites …’ 39

12. Khayruddeen az-Zarkali

He says, ‘Ali al-Hadi bin Muhammad al-Jawad bin Ali ar-Radhiy bin Musa bin Ja’far al-Husayni at-Talibi was the tenth of the twelve imams for the Shia and one of the pious virtuous …’ 40

These are some words said by scholars and ulama showing their admiration towards Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and some of his high qualities for he was the highest religious authority in the Islamic world.
1. Samarra’, the capital of the Abbasid State at that time.

2. Bin means “son of” and bint means “daughter of”.

3. Refer to Uyoon al-Mu’jizat.

4. Tathkiratul Khawas, p.39.

5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13 p.126, ad-Durr an-Nadheem.

6. Bahr al-Ansab, p.35.

7. Mir’at az-Zaman, vol.9 p.553 (manuscript).

8. Tareekh al-A’imma, p.16.

9. A village established by Imam Musa al-Kadhim (s) about three miles from Medina.

10. Al-Ittihaf bihubil Ashraf, p.67, Jawharatul Kalam fee Madh as-Sadah al-A’lam, p.151.

11. Aqiqa is the name of the sacrifice on the seven day after the birth of a child.

12. Usul al-Kafi, vol.1 p.497, al-Irshad, p.368, A’yan ash-Shia, vol.4 p.252.

13. Al-Ittihaf bihubil Ashraf, p.67, Jawharat al-Kalam, p.151, Mir’at al-Janan, vol.2 p.159, Tareekh al-Khamees, vol.2 p.321.

14. A’yan ash-Shia, vol.4 p.252.

15. Tareekh al-Khamees, vol.2 p.321, Mir’at al-Janan, vol.2 p.159.

16. Al-Ittihaf Bihubil Ashraf, p.67.

17. It is mentioned in Umdat at-Talib, p.188 and Ilal ash-Sharayi’, p.241, that the quarter where Imam al-Hadi (s) lived was called Askar and therefore he was called al-Askari.

18. Noor al-Absar, p.164, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13 p.127, Jawharat al-Kalam, p.151.

19. Ma’athir al-Kubara’ Fee Tareekh Samarra’, vol.3 p.20.

20 Jawharat al-Kalam, p.151.

21. She was a sovereign on Yemen.

22. Ma’athir al-Kubara’ fee Tareekh Samarra’, vol.3 p.95-96.

23. Takbir is the saying “Allahu Akbar-Allah is great” and tahlil is the saying “la illaha illallah-there is no god but Allah”.

24. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 13, p.131, A’yan ash-Shia, vol.4 p.274-275.

25. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13 p.129.

26. Ma’athir al-Kubara’, vol.3 p.94.

27. Samarra’, the capital of al-Mutawakkil the Abbasid caliph.

28. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13 p.133.

29. Shatharat ath-Thahab, vol.2 p.128-129.

30. Mir’at al-Janan, vol.2 p.160.

31. Tareekh Abul Fida’, vol.2 p.47.

32. Al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p.268.

33. Al-Manaqib, vol.4 p.401.

34. Al-Kharayij.

35. Tareekh al-Islam, vol.5.

36. As-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah.

37. Umdat at-Talib fee Ansab Aal Abi Talib, p.188.

38. Matalib as-Sa’ool.

39. Shajarat as-Sibtayn, (manuscript).

40. Al-A’lam, vol.5 p.140.

The qualities of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) were like the qualities of his fathers who were distinguished by them over all people. All elements of honor and dignity met together in him. He got all virtues and excellences. It sufficed him that he was one of the infallible imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) whom Allah had purified and kept uncleanness away from them. Here we shall talk in brief about some attributes of his honorable personality:


Imamate is a kindness from Allah to His people that He does not give except to His loyal slaves whom He has tried by faith, and purified from all kinds of injustice and defects. In our books on the lives of the infallible imams we have discussed “imamate” in details in some of them and in brief in others. In this book we talk in brief about imamate and refer to some of its sides.

The need to imamate

Imamate is an affair from the affairs of the Islamic life. Without imamate the Islamic life does not go on properly; not only because it runs the religious life, but also it runs the economical, political, and social life, and achieves to the nation independency and freedom and secures safety, ease, and peace.

Perhaps, the most important reason behind the need to imamate is to make spiritual powers dominate and to spread virtue and good between people and resist bad tendencies of selfishness, haughtiness, greed, envy and other kinds of deviation. All good powers in the world are based on the faith in Allah, because this is the only way that protects the world from destruction and disasters of wars. The faith in Allah is the strongest weapon in the earth that keeps the world safe from misfortunes.

The infallible imams cared much for this side. They raised the banner of faith high, and struggled in the way of Allah too hardly. They left luminous works in the way of inviting to Allah. Nahjol Balagha of Ameerul Mo’mineen (Imam Ali) is full of fragrances of true faith. It invites people to ponder on the creation of everything in the world that leads to the inevitable faith. It also invites to good morals and high qualities and warns of evil tendencies that lead to backwardness and deterioration. We also find spiritual nourishment in as-Sahifah as-Sajjadiyya of Imam as-Sajjad (a.s.) which is considered as the Bible of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and it is a fertile source to faith. In all supplications transmitted from the infallible imams (a.s.) we find this spiritual nourishment that purifies the soul from the dregs of ignorance and pride.

In the books of argumentation you find irrefutable evidences the infallible imams offered on monotheism that confuted the enemies of Islam who denied the Creator. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) praised the jihad of his fathers in the fields of faith and the invitation to Allah in his Ziyarah called “al-Jami’ah”. He said,

“Peace be on the propagandists to Allah, the guides to the contentment of Allah, the residents in the command of Allah, the absorbed in the love of Allah, the loyal in monotheism, the manifesters of the mission of Allah…’

He added, ‘You honored His glory, exalted His standing, glorified His generosity, kept His mention, assured His covenant, confirmed His obedience, were sincere to Him secretly and openly, called unto His way with wisdom and good exhortation, sacrificed your selves to please Him, were patient with what afflicted you for Him, offered prayers, gave zakat, enjoined the good, forbade the wrong, struggled truly in the way of Allah until you announced His mission, declared His obligations, spread His laws, fixed His verdicts, and became by that in the eye of His contentment, submitted to His fate, and believed in His past prophets…’

These wonderful lines expressed the struggle that the infallible imams undertook to raise the word of monotheism and defend the values of Islam and faith. They offered their lives as pure sacrifice to Allah looking forward just to His reward.

Infallibility of the imams

The infallibility of the twelve imams (a.s.) is an important element in the Shiite doctrine. Some people deny this concept claiming that it cannot be realized. In our studies on the lives of the infallible imams (a.s.) we have confuted the deniers of this concept and proved the reality and possibility of infallibility. He, who reads the lives of the infallible imams, does not doubt their infallibility at all. They had never committed any kind of sin or disobedience whether intentionally or unintentionally. No one of them had ever deviated from the right path or sound conducts. All of them were absolutely pious. Al-Mutawakkil, the Abbasid tyrant, tried his best with all the means he had to deceive Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) in order to make him walk in his own deviate way and enter into the fields of amusement and debauchery, but Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) abstained from all that and at last al-Mutawakkil failed to tempt him. With his great situations, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) proved his and his pure fathers’ infallibility that the Twelver Shia believe in.

The knowledge of the imams

The knowledge of the infallible imams was like the knowledge of the prophets with no difference between them. As the knowledge of the prophets and messengers of Allah was inspirational that Allah had endowed them with to be the authority on His people, so was the knowledge of the infallible imams (a.s.).

Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) talked about the great treasures of knowledge the infallible imams (a.s.) had and how they got that knowledge when saying, ‘Our knowledge is ancient, primordial, beating in hearts, and knocking in ears. We have the red jafr, the white jafr, the book of Fatima (peace be upon her), and al-Jami’ah (compilation), in which there are all what people need…’

He was asked to explain what he had said and he replied, ‘The ancient knowledge is the knowledge of what shall happen, and the primordial knowledge is the knowledge of what had happened. The beating in hearts is inspiration and the knocking in ears is the talk of angels that we hear their speech but we do not see their figures. As for the red jafr, it is a container having the weapon of the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) and it shall not appear until Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.) reappears. The white jafr is a container having the Torah of Moses, the Bible of Jesus, the Book of Psalms of David, and the first Books of Allah. The Book of Fatima (peace be upon her) has accounts of all events and names of those who rule in the world until the Day of Resurrection. As for the jami’ah, it is a book of seventy cubits long having the dictation of the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) written down by Ali bin Abu Talib (a.s.). By Allah, it has all that which people need until the Day of Resurrection even the amount of blood money of a scratch, a whip, half a whip…’ 1

What proves this fact is the different kinds of knowledge and sciences transmitted from the infallible imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). As an example, Imam Ali (a.s.) the gate of the Prophet’s town of knowledge, had opened many sections of knowledge and sciences which were about thirty-two sciences as al-Aqqad 2 says. It was he who had informed about the technological progress and scientific development that would appear on the stage of life. He said, ‘A time will come where the people in the East can see the people of the West, and the people in the West can see the people in the East.’ He also said, ‘A time will come where the people in the East can hear the people of the West, and the people in the West can hear the people of the East.’ This saying came true by inventing the TV and the Radio. He also said, ‘A time will come to people where iron will move.’ It came true by inventing trains, cars, and other means of transportation. There are many other examples like these that Imam Ali (a.s.) had informed of. 3 It was he who had said, ‘Ask me about the Book of Allah! By Allah, there is no verse, unless I know whether it has been revealed in the night or day, in a plain or a mountain.’ 4

From the imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), who had spouted springs of knowledge and wisdom in the earth, was the miracle of knowledge and intellect in the world Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.). He foretold about the pollution in space and seas and its bad effects on man. He also told about the existence of life on some planets. It was he, who had established the bases of anatomy and peculiarities of man’s organs and the wonders in them. All that was mentioned in the book Tawhid al-Mufadhdhal. He was the first founder of physics and chemistry. He established their bases through his disciple Jabir bin Hayyan the pride of the East and the pioneer of the human development in the earth.

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was not more than seven years when his father Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) died. Still in his early years yet, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had knowledge that astonished others’ minds. Great scholars tried him by most difficult and complicated questions in jurisprudence, philosophy, and theology but he answered them all as if he was an expert jurisprudent. Therefore, ulama and scholars believed in his imamate, and thus it was a clear evidence that Allah had endowed the infallible imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) with knowledge, wisdom, and virtue that He had never endowed other than them with at all.

Announcing his imamate

The Shia paid much attention to the matter of imamate because it was one of the bases of Islam. They often asked the present imam about the imam after him so that they would refer to him in their religious and worldly affairs, obey and follow him. Many reliable Muslims narrated the assigning of Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) as the imam by his father Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (a.s.). Here are some of them:

1. Isma’il bin Mihran

When Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) went to Baghdad in his first travel, Isma’il bin Mihran visited him and said to him, ‘May I die for you! I fear for you in this travel (from the Abbasids). Who is the imam after you?’

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) smiled at him and said, ‘It is not as you thought. It is not in this year.’

When al-Mu’tasim (the Abbasid caliph) sent for Imam al-Jawad (a.s.), Isma’il went to the imam to know the imam after him. He said to Imam al-Jawad (a.s.), ‘You are going. To whom will the matter (imamate) be after you?’

Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) cried and was anxious in his travel and thought that he would not go back again to Yathrib. Therefore, he appointed his son Ali al-Hadi as the imam after him. He said, ‘Now, it is to fear for me. The matter (imamate) after me is to my son Ali…’ 5

What Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) predicted came true. Al-Mu’tasim, the Abbasid caliph, assassinated him while he was in the bloom of his youth yet.

2. Al-Khayrani

He was one of the narrators who narrated the appointment of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) as the imam after his father. We shall mention that in a coming chapter.

3. As-Saqr bin Abu Dalf

As-Saqr narrated, ‘I heard Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali ar-Redha (Imam al-Jawad) saying, ‘The imam after me is my son Ali. His Command is my command, his saying is my saying, and his obedience is my obedience. Imamate after him is to his son al-Hasan…’ 6

4. Some of the Shia

When Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) traveled to Baghdad, he said to some of his followers, ‘I am going 7 and the matter (imamate) will be to my son Ali. He will have rights on you after me as I had on you after my father.’ 8

5. Ahmad bin Abu Khalid

Ahmad narrated that Abu Ja’far (Imam al-Jawad) had recommended to his son Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) to be the imam after him. We shall mention the terms of this will later on. 9

These are some of the narrators who narrated that Imam al-Jawad (a.s.) had appointed his son Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) as the imam after him. The texts on this matter were successive. The Shia believe that the appointing of imams was not out of passions or tendencies, but it was according to the command of Allah Who chose and appointed them through the Prophet (a.s.) who carried out what he was ordered by his Lord. The Prophet (a.s.) announced that the caliphs (successors) after him would be twelve ones, whom Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was one of. The texts on this matter are successive and true. 10

His generosity

From the prominent qualities of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) generosity was. He was the most liberal and generous one in 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 cloths to others until no cloths remained for them. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) gave food and cloths 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 on him. 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 his agent like that. Ibn Shahrashub commented on this noble trait by saying, ‘This is a miracle that no one can do except kings. We have not heard of such a gift.’ 12 Doing this, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) secured comfortable livings to these notable persons and saved them from the distress of neediness.

2. Isaaq al-Jallab said, ‘On the Day of Tarwiya 13 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 tone, ‘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 what to help this nomad with. He wrote in 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 on 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 on him. 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.’ 15The nomad left to 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 distress 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

His asceticism

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) turned his back to all pleasures of this worldly life and lived absolutely an ascetic life. He kept to worship, piety, and asceticism. He paid no attention to worldly pleasures and preferred the obedience of Allah to everything else. His house in Yathrib and his house in Surra Man Ra’a had no any furniture. Once, the policemen of al-Mutawakkil broke into his house and frisked it but found nothing of worldly furniture. They also frisked his House in Surra Man Ra’a and found him wearing a wool garment and sitting on sand and pebbles. Nothing was between him and the ground.

As-Sibt bin al-Jawzi said, ‘Ali al-Hadi had no interest in this worldly life. He kept to the mosque. When they frisked his house, they did not find in it save copies of the Holy Qur'an, books of du’a, and scientific books.’

He lived in the light of the noble life his fathers lived; in asceticism and turning away from the material pleasures of this life except that which concerned the truth. His grandfather Ameerul Mo’minin (a.s.) was one of the most ascetic men in this life. During his rule as the caliph of Muslims his shoes were from the fibers of palm tree and he himself mended them with his hands. His belt also was from fibers of palm tree. He suffered hunger out of asceticism and in order to comfort the poor. His wife the head of the women of the world Fatima az-Zahra’ (a.s.) also turned away from the worldly life and lived in a small house with no furniture and her hands hardened by the quern. In this way all the infallible imams walked. They divorced this life and turned their backs on its pleasures. They turned to Allah devotedly and did all that which took them nearer to Allah.

Working in his farm

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was free from every material tendency. He was free from any kind of selfishness and he did not submit to any pleasure or fancy. Historians say that he worked in his farm to secure the living of his family. Ali bin Hamza said, “Once, I saw Abul Hasan the third (Imam al-Hadi) work in a farm while his feet were soaked with sweat. I said to him, ‘May I die for you! Where are the men?’

He said, ‘O Ali, one, who was better than me and than my father, worked with spade in his farm.’

I said, ‘Who was he?’

He said, ‘The messenger of Allah (a.s.), Ameerul Mo’minin, and all my fathers worked with their hands. It was the work of prophets, apostles, and good saints…” 17

Work was the sign of prophets. Every prophet worked in some filed. We have quoted this holy tradition in our book “Work and the rights of workers in Islam” to prove the importance and honor of work and that it was from the conducts of the holy prophets.

Guiding the deviant

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) cared much for guiding the deviant who digressed from the truth. From among those, whom Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) had guided, was al-Hasan al-Basri known as al-Mallah who was a waqifite. 18 Once, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) met him and said to him, ‘Until when is this sleep? Is it not yet for you to awake?’

This word affected him too much and then he turned back to the truth and guidance. 19

Forbidding from associating with the Sufis

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) warned his companions and all Muslims from associating and mixing with the Sufis because they were a source of error and deviation to people. They showed asceticism to seduce simple and naïve people.

Al-Husayn bin Abul Khattab said, ‘One day, I was with Abul Hasan al-Hadi (a.s.) in the mosque of the Prophet (a.s.) when some of his companions, among whom was Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari, came to him. Abu Hashim was an eloquent man and had a high position near Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). While we were standing, a group of Sufis came into the mosque. They sat in a corner of the mosque and began saying “la ilaha illallah; there is no god but Allah”. Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) turned towards his companions and said to them, ‘Do not pay attention to these deceivers for they are allies of the Devils and destroyers of the bases of religion. They become ascetic to relieve their bodies and watch to hunt cattle…they do not practice rites except to deceive people, and do not decrease food except to…cheat the fool…their worships are but dancing and clapping, and their praises are but singing. No one follows them except the stupid, and no one believes in them except the fool. Whoever went to visit any of them alive or dead as if he went to visit Satan and idolaters, and whoever supported any of them, as if he supported, Mo’awiya, Yazid, and Abu Sufyan…’

One of the companions said, ‘Even if he acknowledges your rights?’

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) scolded him and shouted, ‘Do not say that! He, who acknowledges our rights, does not disobey us. Do you not know that they are the worst group of Sufis, though all Sufis are dissentient to us and their way is contrary to ours? They are but Christians and magi of this nation. They do their best to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse…’

Honoring the ulama

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) honored people of intellect and knowledge, welcomed and preferred them to the rest of people because they were the source of light in the earth. Once, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was informed that one of the Shiite ulama had argued with an opponent of the Ahlul Bayt (s) and confuted him. He was delighted for that. When that scholar came to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), he welcomed him warmly in his meeting which was full of Alawids and Abbasids. He seated him on a sofa and began talking with him eagerly and respectfully. The Hashemites in the meeting became angry and said to Imam al-Hadi (a.s.), ‘Why do you prefer him to the masters of Bani 20 Hashem?’

Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) said to them ‘Beware to be from those whom Allah has said about, (Have you not considered those (Jews) who are given a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of Allah that it might decide between them, then a part of them turn back and they withdraw). 21 Do you accept the Book of Allah as a judge?’

They all said, ‘O son of the messenger of Allah, we do.’

He began proving his opinion by saying, ‘Has Allah not said, (O you who believe! when it is said to you, Make room in (your) assemblies, then make ample room, Allah will give you ample, and when it is said: Rise up, then rise up. Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees; and Allah is Aware of what you do) 22? Allah does not accept for a knowledgeable believer but to be preferred to an unknowledgeable believer as He wants a believer to be preferred to an unbeliever. Allah has said, (Allah will exalt those of you who believe and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees). Has He said, ‘Allah will exalt those, who are given honor of lineage, in high degrees’. Allah has said, (Are those who know and those who do not know alike?) 23 Then, how do you deny my honoring him for what Allah has honored him? His defeating that opponent of the Ahlul Bayt (s) with the proofs that Allah has taught him is more honorable than every honor of lineage.’

The attendants kept silent after this reply, but one of the Abbasids said, ‘O son of the messenger of Allah, you have prefe

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