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The 8th Imam His Holiness Imam Reza (AS)


The 8th Imam

His Holiness Imam Reza (AS)

The Man of Divinity and the Materialistic Spirit, the Supreme Helper and the Full Moon of Darkness and Source of Guidance, the Sultan Ali bin Musa-al-Reza. His blessed name Ali and respectable patronym Abu al-Hassan and auspicious titles Saber and Vafee and Morteza and his famed title is Al Reza. The birth of the essence of his auspicious attributes was in Holy Medina and his date of birth has been mentioned in disagreement and according to the most correct narration was on the 11th Dhu Al Qaeda 148 Hijri (766 AD). Some also say it was in Rabi al-Awwal 153 Hijri (770 AD). His honorable father was His Holiness Musa Bin Jafar and his paragon-exalted mother was a Omme Walad,[1] according to sayings she was called Shaghara and Alnowbiyyah and Kanitash ummul Banin and according to the most correct sayings she had the name Toktam or Najmah and her title was Tahereh.

After the martyrdom of his honorable father in the year 183 Hijri (799 AD) His Holiness sat on the throne of spiritual guardianship and the true throne of succession of His Holiness the Best of Men[2]. This was during the time when his respectable age was more than thirty years and less than forty years according to the disagreement in narrations of his birth date. His Holiness according to the commands of his honorable father sat in his house for the first four years of his Imamate and closed the door onto the people, after expiration of this period, opened the door to address the people and associate with the them and gave the Shiites the permission to socialize and started to guide the people and manifested miracles and extraordinary habits. Some of the companions brought to his attention and said that to show and manifest this divine manifestation we fear the rebellions of Haroun’s time on your life. He said: be sure that he does not have access to me. Till the year 186 Hijri (802 AD) began; and Haroon Rashid the caliph of the time with his two sons Mohammad Amin and Abdullah Mamoon went to Mecca and in Mecca and Medina in three turns bestowed presents and gifts to the people. One time for himself and the two other times in the names of his sons and again for allegiance of successorship of Mohammad Amin and after him Abdullah Mamoon took allegiance from the people. Then he divided Islamic towns and cities, which were in his possession between them. From Baghdad to Arabia (Hijaz) and Egypt to Mohammad Amin and gave Khorasan and its suburbs from Kermanshah to Kabul and Zabol to Abdullah Mamoon. And in regards to this wrote a mandate for each one and had it signed by religious authorities, learned and notable personalities of the Bani Hashem and advised his sons to be united and abstain from opposition and clash with each other’s regions and share of each one of them will belong to his brother after the death of one brother. Then he returned back from Mecca and in the year 189 Hijri (805 AD) suddenly suppressed the Barmakids who were firm pillars of the kingdom and had high ranking ministerial positions and controlled the wheels of the caliphate apparatus and were his particular and permanent companions, and killed Jafar bin Yahya Barmaki and burned his body with oil and marsh reeds and imprisoned Yahya who he used to address as his father in his speech with his other son Fazl bin Yahya and held them in prison for a long time till Yahya in the year 190 Hijri (806 AD) and Fazl in the year 192 (808 AD) died in prison. And whoever he found killed from the preeminent relatives of the Barmakids, and plundered their properties and demolished their houses.

For Haroon’s anger on the Barmakids, several reasons has been mentioned which maybe all of them put together was a cause of their fall and annihilation. One such issue is Yahya bin Abdullah Alavi who after the departure of Yahya from Deylam, Haroon gave him assurance by means of Yahya bin Barmaki and Yahya with Fazl came to Baghdad and after sometime Haroon seized him and handed him over to Yahya Barmaki to imprison him in his house and make the situation hard on him. Yahya secretly treated kindly the aforementioned imprisoned and at nights made him attend on his table for food. One night Yahya Alavi expressed fear and worry from Haroon’s guards and begged Yahya Barmaki to let him escape. Yahya Barmaki was affected by his condition; secretly let him escape with a slave. Informers reached this news to Haroon. Next day, Haroon asked Yahya Barmaki how the imprisoned Yahya was. Yahya Barmaki said: he is still imprisoned, Haroon asked him to swear on his life and tell the truth. Yahya Barmaki understood that Haroon was aware of this matter. Said: No, O’ caliph of the people, because I saw there is no source of opposition from him and he is from the Prophet’s family, so I freed him for the health and success of the caliph. Haroon did not say anything but kept this violation in his mind. Another famous matter was that Haroon’s sister Abbaseh and Jafar Barmaki that various stories have been told and is well known. Another is, informers said to Haroon that Jafar at a drunken night party with his special associates praised the bravery and excellence of Abu Muslim in transfer of caliphate from a family to another family and in his drunkenness had said through killing one hundred and seventy thousand persons the transfer of caliphate would not be important, if someone can perform such affairs with diplomacy and compromise and without bloodshed would be capable of praise. Haroon on hearing these sayings from Jafar fell into anguish on the Barmakids and their friendship with the Alavians became suspicious. Another reason was power and growth of the influence of Barmakids in all respects of the country, even in the palace of the caliph and their endless generosity and forgiveness, which all put together, was the causes of Haroon’s hatred and dread from Barmakids and did what he did and happened what happened. Anyhow, in the year 193 Hijri (809 AD) Haroon from Rakkah came to Baghdad. Rafeh bin Lais bin Nasr Sayyar who was ill came to Khorasan to ward off sedition. Fazl bin Sahl who was serving Abdullah Mamoon, at this time said to him: Your father is sick and en-route to Khorasan and if an attempt is made you will not be safe from your brother Amin, it is better to request your father so that you be at his service. Mamoon requested his father’s permission in the journey to Khorasan. His father accepted his request and took him to Khorasan with himself. Haroon’s illness became severe in Jorjan. So he dispatched Mamoon before himself to Marv and after some days came to Khorasan and on the 3rd Jumada al-awwal 193 (123 AD) after forty seven years of age and twenty three years and some months of caliphate left this world. He was buried in the house of Hamid bin Qahtabah the previous governor of Khorasan.

Mamoon after hearing the news of the death of Haroon gathered the people in the city Mosque in Marv and announced Haroon’s death and invited people to renew allegiance with Amin. Mohammad Amin also after hearing this matter took allegiance from the people of Baghdad again.

For some time, there was kindness and agreement between the brothers till Mohammad Amin thought of disposing Mamoon from succession and elect his son Musa as crown prince, and consulted in this matter with government officials and those close to him. His advisors told him that by the presence of Mamoon in Khorasan among his friends, disposing him is not advisable, it would be better to request him to come to Baghdad on the pretext of consultation in the affairs and when he comes to Baghdad and gets far away from his army, settle this important case. Amin wrote a letter to Mamoon requested him to come to Baghdad for assistance and cooperation. Mamoon consulted with Fazl bin Sahl Zolriyasatain. He said: undoubtedly your brother does not have good intention by summoning you. Mamoon said: How can I oppose his command when we do not have properties and riches and army and equipped soldiers, while he has boundless properties and numerous soldiers in his authority. Fazl asked for one night time in this matter and because he was skilled in astrology he studied the horoscope of both brothers and the next day said to Mamoon: The conditions of the stars and celestial orbits shows for sure your predominance over Amin, don’t fear from resistance and leave the work to God. Mamoon decided to stop and wrote to Amin that if at this time I stay far from Khorasan, there is fear that if I won’t be able to abolish the significant sedition, it will turn to a new event and meanwhile I expect the caliph of the people not to see the abolishment of the pledge and agreement which the standing Imam established and secured between us in the mirror of the mind and accept the excuse of this brother. He sent the letter and himself intended to mobilize the army. When the letter reached Amin, he gave the letter to his dignitaries and said: I need to talk to Mamoon and his coming to Baghdad is necessary for the interests of the caliphate and he has refused to come to Baghdad; in your opinion what should be done? Every one said something but most of them guided to compromise and peace except Ali bin Isa bin Mahan who recommended him to harshness and severity. Finally, Amin sent Ali bin Isa towards Khorasan with an army of sixty thousand, but commanded that to conciliate with Mamoon as much as possible and treat him with kindness and assure and make him hopeful of Amin’s good will and affection, and send him to Baghdad. But, Mamoon took precedence over him and sent Tahir bin Al Hussain Zolyaminain with a part of the army to Rey to keep the roads and ways under attention and assigned spies around the borders to not be attacked unawares. Ali bin Isa travelled the way and reached Rey. Tahir was informed of his coming and with his army came out from Rey to encounter and in a location called Fulous set up an army base. The two armies reached each other and confronted. After battling for some time, Ali bin Isa’s army disintegrated and Ali bin Isa was killed and the army of Baghdad ran away and their weapons and ammunition fell into the hands of the Tahir’s army. Tahir wrote a letter of victory to Mamoon that Ali bin Isa’s head is with him and his ring in my fingers. Since the defeat of the army of Baghdad reached Khorasan, the people gathered around Mamoon and saluted his caliphate. Amin after being informed of the defeat and slaying of Ali bin Isa again sent Abdul Rahman Anbari with an army of thirty thousand to encounter Tahir and in Zahirshahr of Hamadan they reached Tahir’s army. The army of Baghdad as soon as they saw the army of Khorasan without fighting fled and in the city of Hamadan sought asylum and Tahir surrounded the city and after one month Abdul Rahman and his companions sought respite from Tahir surrendered the city and with the army left the city and by the side of Tahir’s army used to pass and Tahir did not interfere with them, and used to move parallel to them with his army. Slowly, socializing and interchange established between the two armies. When they reached Asadabad, Abdul Rahman doubled crossed and abruptly rushed and attacked Tahir’s army who were at ease and used to pass through and a severe battle took place. Again, the army of Baghdad ran away and Abdul Rahman was killed. When the news reached Amin, he was panic-stricken and with haste sent the army with the commandership of Hassan bin Ali bin Isa to fight with Tahir. And Mamoon also sent Harsamah bin Aayon with thirty thousand to help Tahir. Tahir advanced till he reached Ahwaz and Basrah and wherever he used to pass appoint officials and governors and with the intention of conquering Baghdad used to move forward with haste and at times would confront with the dispatched army of Amin and there used to be a battle between them and all used to end up with the victory of Tahir and the army of Khorasan till Harsamah bin Aayon and Zahir bin Mosayyeb, the two persons from the commanders of Tahir came into view of Baghdad and Amin sought sanctuary in Baghdad and Baghdad was surrounded and with ballista and catapult made work for the inhabitants of the city difficult, in such a way that those close to Amin asked Tahir for peace and used to join them and Amin was forced to give a message to Harsamah that he desisted from the caliphate and ready to swear allegiance to Mamoon with the condition of preservation of his life. Harsamah said: The damage has been done and Tahir is furious and I cannot acquire his approval. It is best that you come to see me so that I can send a messenger to Mamoon and get assurance for your security. Amin was compelled to sail on a ship with a group of his bondswomen and relatives so that he could go to Harsamah. Tahir bin al Hussain was informed of this matter and sent a group so that as soon as Amin steps down from the ship to kill him. And that same night Tahir sent Amin’s head to Mamoon and this incident took place in the year 198 (814 AD). The period of Amin’s life was twenty-seven years and his caliphate four years and eight months.

When the news reached Khorasan that Amin was killed, the people renewed their allegiance with Manoon as caliph. When he was firmly established on the caliphate, he separated the authority of governorship of Iraq and Fars and Ahwaz and Yemen and Hijaz which were conquered by Tahir and handed it over to Hassan bin Sahl brother of Fazl who was his minister and wrote to Tahir to go to Raqkah and govern over Syria and Island. The people, especially the Bani Hashem and aristocrats were displeased from Tahir’s farewell which indicated Fazl’s dominance on Mamoon and as they did not obey Hassan bin Sahl as they should and disturbances were started. In the year 199 Hijri (815 AD) Ibn Tatba revolted. After him, Abolsaraya emerged and provoked great sedition. Hassan requested from Harsamah who previously held the position of general commander in chief and on the order of Mamoon that position had also been handed over to Hassan, that he go with the position of commander of the army to repel Abolsaraya. Harsamah declined first, but on insistence and request of Hassan went to fight Abolsaraya and killed him and sent his head to Mamoon. Then he himself set out to Khorasan to inform Mamoon the lack of eligibility of Hassan bin Sahl and the turbulent situation. Hassan informed his brother Fazl the intention of Harsamah. And Fazl backbited Harsamah with Mamoon in such a way that Mamoon, as soon as he arrived, imprisoned him and he remained in prison till he died or was killed. Also Zeid ibn Musa known as Zeid-a-Nar the brother of Imam Reza (AS) revolted and was captured and was granted respite and Ibrahim bin Musa in Yemen and Hussain Afatshi Alavi in Mecca revolted.

In brief, most of the people of the cities were disordered and chaos was predominant everywhere and Fazl bin Sahl used to present these circumstances to Mamoon as intense craving and greed of the Alavians to revolt and for appeasing the rebellion and establishing orderliness in the affairs of the cities, used to give advice in such a way that Mamoon appoint one person from the Alavians as successor to his caliphate so that anger and uproar of the Alavians dampens and agitation of the government removed and also brought about the bonds of relationship and in the eyes of God and His Prophet (S) be rewarded and liked. Finally Mamoon liked his verdict and after thinking and consultation appointed His Holiness Ali Ibn Musa-al-Reza (AS) as successor to his caliphate and in the year 200 Hijri (816 AD) sent his maternal uncle Eja bin Zahak to Medina so that he could bring His Holiness Reza with a group of his disciples to Marv respectfully, and invited a group of Bani Abbas to Marv; it is said that there were thirty thousand of them who gathered. That time His Holiness Reza (AS) departed from Medina, and travelled the way till he reached Baghdad. In Baghdad Tahir bin al Hussain made a praiseworthy welcome for His Holiness and rendered hospitality as he should; and at night met His Holiness and informed Him about the letter of Mamoon who had written and commanded Tahir to swear allegiance to His Holiness as successor of the caliphate. In the beginning, His Holiness refused to accept this dictate. Tahir said there is no way out except to obey and execute this mandate of Mamoon. His Holiness was compelled and accepted and took out his hands so that Tahir can swear allegiance. Tahir extended his left hand. His Holiness said: Why are you giving your left hand? He said because my right hand is in allegiance with Amiralmomenin Mamoon. His Holiness was pleased from his loyalty and fortitude and afterwards in the meeting with Mamoon narrated this event. Mamoon also said bravo to Tahir and said: I have named that left hand that had reached your hand as “right” and from that day Tahir was entitled as Zolyaminain.

Briefly, His Holiness Reza (AS) travelled from Baghdad by the way of Basra and Ahwaz till reached Nayshabur. The people of Nayshabur gave a unique welcome to His Holiness. His Holiness mounted on a mule in a palanquin. The curtain of the palanquin was cast down so that the heat of the sun would not irritate. A group of those who had welcomed His Holiness said to him loudly. O son of the Prophet (PBUH)! We are desirous to see your blessed charm and to hear from your holy tongue a narration from your immaculate fathers and forefathers. His Holiness pushed aside the curtain of the palanquin. The people wept to see him, and raised a tumult and threw themselves on the ground. Then His Holiness took his head out from the palanquin and said: My father Musa Ibn Jafar narrated me that my father Jafar bin Mohammad narrated me that my father Mohammad bin Ali narrated me that my father Ali bin Hussain narrated me that my father Hussain bin Ali narrated me that my father Ali bin Abitalib narrated me that my brother and my cousin the Prophet of God said that Gabreil said to me that I heard from the glorious God who says: “The verbatim THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH is my castle and whoever enters into this castle will be immune from my chastisement”. Then His Holiness remained silent for a moment, then again said: according to condition and stipulations, and indicated towards his blessed chest and said: I am of the conditions. It is said that twenty four thousand pen cases came out of sleeves to record this narration. In short, His Holiness with perfect honor and respect travelled till reached Marv and lodged in a luxurious house which was prepared for His Holiness. Since reposed from the discomfort of the journey, Mamoon and Fazl bin Sahl went to meet His Holiness and Mamoon greeted and welcomed His Holiness with sincerity and affection and engaged in conversation with each other with full warmth. After mentioning preliminaries of his purpose, Mamoon presented his wish to transfer the caliphate, if not, the successorship of the people to His Holiness. His Holiness refused to accept the caliphate and was compelled to accept successorship conditioned to that he would not be requested to interfere in the kingdom and judicial and Fatwa (religious decree) and dismissal and setting up of ministers and functionaries affairs.

Next day, people gathered in the palace of the caliph and asked for His Holiness; and Mamoon in a general gathering announced the succesorship of His Holiness and ordered the people to swear allegiance to His Holiness and ordered that black flags which was the emblem of the Bani Abbas to be changed to green flags and to mint His Holiness’ name on Dinars and Dirham. When this matter finished and the successorship of His Holiness announced, Mamoon said: O son of my uncle! Now your Holiness would need a minister and secretary for performing the affairs and obligations of services, whoever you want you can choose for these two positions. He said: Fazl bin Sahl is suitable and worthy for performance of my affairs and Ali Saeed the secretary of the caliphate is enough for writing my letters. Mamoon was happy and ordered both to be at the services of His Holiness. From this day, Fazl was called Zolreyasatain and Ali Saeed as Zolqalamain. His Holiness according to customary practice would come in the presence of Mamoon everyday; till a day of Eid, Mamoon requested His Holiness to go to the public prayer place and recite the Eid prayer on his behalf. His Holiness said to be excused from this work. Mamoon insisted. His Holiness said: If I am compelled to recite the Eid prayer, thus will recite according to what my great grandfather the Holy Prophet (S) and my other great grandfather Ali Morteza (AS) did. (Mamoon) said: in whatever way you desire, perform it. The people who were informed of His Holiness going to the public prayer place, gathered at the door of His Holiness’ house. His Holiness came out of his house while wearing white clean and shrunken short clothes on his blessed body with an elegant turban on his head and folded up trousers to his blessed ankles and with bare foot with heavenly awe and divine manifestation went towards the public prayer place and every moment with a loud voice was calling: Allah-o-Akbar (God be glorified) and inviting people. When people glanced at his luminous face and divine grandeur, all took their shoes off and the sound of their wailing and weeping increased and in saying the glorifications of God were harmonized with Him and with every step the sound of glorification of God would shake the city as though the doors and walls would become harmonized with them. Thus, in the city there was such enthusiasm and clamor that Mamoon was upset and fearful lest the people would be enticed by His Holiness and this prayers ends in dethroning or killing him, so he sent a message with haste for His Holiness that Mamoon exempts you from reciting the prayers; return back to your house and I will send someone else. His Holiness asked for his shoes and put it on and returned back from halfway of the prayer place.

Briefly, in the year 202 Hijri (818 AD) Mamoon was inclined to matrimonial relationship with His Holiness and arranged a gathering and got one of his daughters Ummul Habib married to His Holiness and got his other daughter Ummul Fazl married to son of His Holiness Imam Mohammad Taghi (AS).

Proposition of Governmental Successorship

The proposition of governmental successorship to His Holiness was a cause that more and more Alavians from Hejaz (Arabia) came towards Khorasan to benefit from the material favors and blessings and from the inner kindness of His Holiness. But in Iraq, Bani Abbas who were furious and annoyed from the successorship of His Holiness understood that the caliphate got out of hands of the Abbasid, created disturbances and dethroned Mamoon from the caliphate and swore allegiance with Ibrahim bin Mahdi Abbasi uncle of Mamoon and gained dominance over Baghdad. When the news of Iraq, which by reason of prohibition of Fazl from circulating news about the actual affairs there, in a vague manner reached the ears of Mamoon; he questioned Fazl that what is the matter about Iraq. Because of fear from the remorse of Mamoon from successorship of His Holiness Reza and the return of affairs already happened, concealed the real facts and said: the people of Baghdad were not pleased with government of my brother Hassan and have made Ibrahim as the ruler and it is not so important and if something else has been reaching the ears of Amiralmomenin, it is a lie; moreover, he would not give the chance to the authorities who were aware that they could tell Mamoon the truth. Till one day Mamoon was alone with His Holiness who told the circumstances as it was. Mamoon said, Fazl said something else. His Holliness said: Fazl conceals the truth. Mamoon investigated secretly from those around him and the authorities who were aware and the lies and hypocrisy of Fazl was proved to him and decided to kill Fazl (that the Bani Abbas were all treacherous) but did not pretend and left Marv with the intention of Baghdad and took His Holiness Reza (AS) and Fazl with himself and when reached Sarakhs Fazl went to take a bath for venesect, because he had heard from an astrologer that his blood will be shed between water and fire in such a year. He wanted to turn destiny with venesection in the bath, but destiny did its own work. Mamoon secretly missioned a few persons to kill Fazl in the bath secretly. Then he made a big commotion saying “Alas on Fazl” and also killed the murderers to remove accusation from himself.

Then he travelled and arrived in Khorasan. Since it was apparent that the opposition of Bani Abbas and Iraqis with him is due to the successorship of His Holiness Reza (AS), planned to even martyr His Holiness. Till in the month of Safar 203 Hijri (819 AD) called His Holiness to himself. It has been narrated from Aba Salat who said: When Mamoon’s messenger came to call His Holiness, His Holiness’ disposition changed and told me: Come with me. When I come out of Mamoon’s room, if you see my robe is over my head just don’t talk to me. Anyway, His Holiness went to meet Mamoon. He (Mamoon) after showing courtesy ordered to bring in a dish of grapes or a dish of poisoned pomegranate, and said to His Holiness to eat fruits from this dish. His Holiness said: if possible excuse me for not eating, but with insistence and compulsion he compelled His Holiness to eat a few grapes or poisoned pomegranate. His Holiness immediately left there. Mamoon said: Where are you going in such a hurry? His Holiness said: To the same place that you sent me. His Holiness entered his house with an upset disposition and the effects of poison had manifested on his sacred body and according to the most correct news, on the day of 25th or end of the month of Safar 203 Hijri (819 AD) passed away. At the time His Holiness Imam Mohammad Taghi Jawad ul Aemmah (AS) was outwardly in Medina, but according to correct narrations during the time of the death of his father was besides his father with divine power that Aba Salat had the honor of seeing His Holiness. The blessed age of His Holiness Reza (AS) during his death was between fifty to fifty five years according to differences on the date of his birth and duration of his spiritual guardianship (Imamate) was twenty years.

Marriage and Children of His Holiness

His Holiness’ only non-bondswoman wife was Umme Habib daughter of Mamoon and as it is said she was non-intercoursed (virgin). The other mates were bondswomen and the most virtuous of all of them was the honorable mother of His Holiness Imam Mohammad Taghi (AS), by the name of Sabikah Nubiyah or Kheizaran or Samana according to the differences in narrations. Although some historians have mentioned five sons with the names of Mohammad and Ghane and Hassan and Jafar and Hussain for His Holiness, but most of the historians know His Holiness’ son to be only His Holiness Mohammad Taghi (AS) and say even if there were other children, they had died before and at the time of martyrdom except His Holiness Imam Taghi, he did not have any other son.

Miracles and Generosities of His Holiness

Miracles and generosities of His Holiness are too many that to mention them all would be a large volume and out of the capacity of this book, and all of them with explanation and expansion have been recorded in biography books such as the case during the time of departure from Medina, although with honor and grandeur he moved, he commanded his own family to cry and weep for him and specifying that I would not return back from this journey. Next is to state explicitly that the mission of his successorship will not have a good end. Next pointing out to his martyrdom to Aba Salat at the time he was going to meet Mamoon; and other cases. But, his full of wisdom speeches are so many that to mention them several books are required.

Some Notable Famed Companions of His Holiness

1) It is mentioned in the book of Bihar: Mohammad bin Rashid was the door keeper of His Holiness.

2) Mohammad bin Isa bin Abdullah bin Saad

3) Sheikh Marouf Karkhi, special doorkeeper of His Holiness

4) Ibrahim bin Abi Mohammad al Khorasani

5) Ibrahim bin Saleh Anmati

6) Ismael bin Mehran

7) Azram bin Matar

8) Hassan bin Ali bin Yaqtin

9) Raiyyan bin Salt Heravi

10) Hussain bin Ibrahim bin Musa

11) Hamzih bin Bazia

12) Hassan bin Ali bin Fazal

13) Jamad bin Isa abu Mohammad al Jahni

Contemporary Caliphs and Commanders during the Time of His Holiness

1) Haroon al Rashid

2) Mamoon al Rashid

3) Fazl bin Sahl Zolreyasatain

4) Hassan bin Sahl

5) Tahir bin al Hussain Zolyaminain

6) Harsamah bin Aayon


[1] When a free man marries a slave woman (bondswoman) and she bears a child. The mother is called Omme Walad and becomes a free woman.
[2] His Holiness Best of Men refers to His exalted Holiness Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).