Home Archive Lectures Imam Al-Rida(a.s.): A Role Model in Piety, Worship, knowledge and Morals

Imam Al-Rida(a.s.):
A Role Model in Piety, Worship, knowledge and Morals

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The Religious Authority H.E. Sayyed M. H. Fadlullah delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque Safar, 18th 1430 H - February, 13th 2009, Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.

The First Sermon

Allah says in His Holy Book: Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.

One of the members of this House and one of their Imams is Imam Ali bin Musa Al-Rida(a.s.) whose death anniversary is on the seventeenth of the month of Safar, and on the 29th in another story. This great Imam whom it is said that he was poisoned while some scholars do not accept this story… In this occasion, we have to pause and review the life of this Imam whose father, Imam Musa Al-Kazim, told his children about him.

"Ali bin Mousa, your brother, is the learned scholar of the Descendants of Muhammad; therefore, you may ask him about your religion, and memorize what he tells you." Al-Abbass says: I have never seen Al-Rida asked about anything he did not know. And I have never seen any one who knew more about the previous times as well as contemporary times. Al-Maroun used to test him by asking him about every thing and he would always answer. And he always used to answer by citing verses form the Quran, since he, as his fathers and sons, knew all the secrets and connotations of the Quran, and he used to read it all in three days.

And he could have read it in a lesser time hadn't he, as he said: "thought about every verse I read", including when it was revealed and about what it means. Ibrahim bin Al-Abbas describes the morals of Imam Al-Rida(a.s.) by saying: I never saw Abul-Hassan al-Rida(a.s.) angering anyone by something he said, nor did I see him interrupting anyone, or refusing to do someone a favor he was able to do, nor did he ever stretch his legs before an audience, nor leaned upon something while his companion did not, nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name, nor did I ever see him spit or burst into laughter;  rather, his laughter was just a smile. When he was ready to eat and he sat to be served, he seated with him all his attendants, including the doorman and the groom. He adds, "Do not, therefore, believe anyone who claims that he saw someone else enjoying such trails", and he used to sleep little at night spending most of his nights in prayer. He also used to fast a lot, and would always fast for three days in a month and saw that this is the fast of the entire life time. He also was very charitable but in absolute secrecy. During the dark nights he would go round the houses of the poor giving them charity without letting them knowing him. Thus, do not believe who claim that they have seen anybody as pious as him.

The Imam's Piety

A man once said to the Imam: "By God! There is nobody on the face of earth who is more honorable than your forefathers". The Imam responded by saying: "Their piety secured their honor, and their obedience of God made them fortunate.

Another man said to him: "By God! You are the best of all people! "He said to him: "Do not swear so. Better than me is the one who is more obedient to God and more pious. By God! The following verse was never abrogated: And We have made you nations an tribes so that you may know each other; verily the best of you in God's sight is the most pious.

The Imam is evidently the best of people because he is the most pious, but he is explaining the principle so that the people would know that piety is what makes man closer to Allah.

Ibrahim bin Al-Abbass says: I heard Ali bin Musa Al-Rida say: "I have sworn that I'll free a slave. And I have never sworn to do so, without freeing a slave and then freeing all those whom I own. I have sworn that if he sees that I am better than him (and pointed to a black slave), because I am related to the Messenger, then he is wrong, unless I have good deeds that make me better than him.

Thus, all those who are related to the Prophet should not feel that they are at a higher position just because of their lineage. Piety is the means that makes people close to Allah and loved by Him.

Abu Al-Salt Al-Harawi says: "I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable than Ali bin Musa Al-Rida'. Every scholar who saw him has come up with the same testimony. Al-Ma'moun gathered a number of scholars, theologians, and jurists of all religious sects, and asked them to ask him any questions they wanted. The Imam (a.s.) answered each question on the basis of the school of the inquirer. And he was able to overcome all of them, until they all admitted that he was more knowledgeable.

When Ma'moun offered him to become his successor, he refused, then when the feud aroused between Al-Mamoun and his brother, he could no longer refuse but made many conditions to accept. Then, he benefited from his new position to fulfill the people's needs, and to call people to return to the straight path of the Messenger (p.) and the Imams, correcting any mistake or deviation they have fallen into.

The Gold Chain

On his way to Tous, where Al-Mamoun lived, he reached the city of Marrow where the people, especially those who narrated the Prophet's hadith, used to gather around him and ask him to narrate some of Muhammad (p.)'s sayings. He narrated once this hadith that has become to be known as the Gold Chain: "My father Mousa al-Kazim(a.s.) narrated to me from his father Jafar al-Sadiq(a.s.) from his father Muhammad al-Baqir(a.s.) from his father Ali Zaynul-Abidin(a.s.) from his father, the Martyr of Karbala(a.s.), from his father, Ali bin Abu Talib (a.s.) saying: "My loved one, and the pleasure of my eyes, the Messenger of God, narrated to me once that Jibrail (Gabreil) told him that he had heard the Lord of the Throne, Glorified and Praised be His Name, saying, 'The kalmia (testimony) of LA ILAHAH ILLA-ALLAH is My citadel; whoever said it would enter My citadel, and whoever entered My citadel was safe from My retribution'.

He wanted to say that unifying God is the fundamental principle of the Message that calls to worship one god and not ascribe partners to Him.

This is the unification that was emphasized by the Quran and the Prophet and the Imams.

Thus, we have to, when we ask Allah to heal us and to provide for us, to adhere to the unification of Allah, since there are some people who do not ask Allah and ask instead the Prophets and the Imams.

This contradicts with the unification of Allah and is nearer to ascribing partners to Him. Allah says: And the places of worship are for Allah (alone): So invoke not any one along with Allah.

 It is true that we ask them to intercede with Allah, as in the supplication of Thursday that asks Allah to accept their intercession on the Day of Judgment, but asking (for support) should be addressed to Allah alone. The members of the House have been given by Allah the grace of intercession. I ask the Prophet (p.) and Ahl el-Beit to intercede, but Allah is the one Who gives, and he said in the Quran: And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)":

His Moral and Doctrinal Guidance

Of the moral guidance of Imam Al-Rida is this story narrated by Ali bin Shuaib:

I, once, visited Abul-Hasan Al-Rida (a.s.). He asked, "O Ali, do you know who is the best earner of livelihood among people?" I answered, "You, my master, is more knowledgeable than me." He (a.s.) said:

"The best earner of livelihood among people is that who improves others' livelihoods out of his livelihood.

Imam Al-Rida (a.s.) asked Ali bin Shuaib, "O Ali, do you know who is the worst earner of livelihood among people?" "You are more knowledgeable?" answered Ali. The Imam (a.s.) said:

"The worst earner of livelihood is that who deprives others of improving their livelihoods through his earnings. O Ali, use good neighborhood with the graces, for they are wild- they will not return if they leave. O Ali, the evilest of people is that who deprives others of his aid, eats alone, and lashes his slave. Have a good opinion in Allah, for he who has a good opinion of Allah, Allah has a good opinion of him. He who is satisfied with a little provision, his little work is accepted. He who is content with a little lawful thing, his provision is light, his family leads a life of ease and comfort, Allah makes him see the malady of the world and its medicine, brings him out of it sound and (sends him) to the Abode of Peace."

A man asked Imam Al-Rida (a.s.) while he was in Tawaf (circumambulation) tell me about the generous". The Imam said: If you are asking about the created (man) then he is the one who gives what Allah has ordained, while the miser is the one who does not. But if you are asking about the Creator then He is generous if He gives or if He withholds.

Because if He gives, He will be giving His servant what is not his, and if He withholds, He will be withholding what is not from His servants.

  Describing faith, Imam Al-Rida(a.s.) quotes the following tradition of the Messenger(p):

"Faith is a knowledge of the heart, admission by the tongue and application of the pillars ( of Islam)."

There are some people who criticized his acceptance to become Heir Apparent. And we know that there are those who believe that the Imams are better than the Prophets, but the Imam deals with his matter in the following story (Oyoun Akbar Al-Rida, volume 2):

Al-Hassan bin Musa said: A man came to Al-Rida(a.s.) and said: "May Allah guide you to the straight path. How have you come so close, as you are, to Al-Ma'moun".

Imam Al-Rida told him, "who is better, the Prophet(p.) or the guardian (wasi)? And the man said, "The Prophet(p.). "Then Abu Al-Hassan Al-Rida(a.s.) asked him again, "and who is better a Muslim or an unbeliever?"

The man said, "The Muslim." Al-Rida then said, "The king of Egypt (Aziz) was an unbeliever and Youssef(a.s.) was a prophet, while Al-Ma'moun is a Muslim and I am a guardian (wasi).

Moreover, Youssef(a.s.) asked Al-Aziz to make him a ruler… while I was forced to (accept)."

Imam Al-Rida(a.s.) was the apex in knowledge, worship, morals and closeness to God. So, we have to adhere to his example and follow all his sayings and deeds and those of his fathers and sons, that represent Islam as a whole. When you visit Imam Rida(a.s.), you have to take a moment to think about all his life and take it as your guide and model, for Ahl el-Beit(a.s.) are the best example concerning what God requires from us regarding His unification and obedience. Peace be upon Imam Al-Rida(a.s.) the day he was born, the day he passed away, and the day he will be brought back to life.

The Second Sermon

Re-producing Racism in the Israeli Elections

In occupied Palestine, the results of the Zionist elections came out as an additional proof that the Jews have, once again, chosen the path of confrontation with the Arabs and moving forward in besieging the Palestinian people's land, man, and economy, for the Jews have chosen the parties and personalities in accordance with the rule which says that the priority is for choosing the most aggressive towards Arabs and Palestinians.

Once again, the Zionist elections have brought to power parties and personalities who are stricter towards the so-called "peace process", for they do not agree on dismantling the settlements and the isolating wall, or letting go of Jerusalem as the capital of their entity, and they absolutely refuse the return of the Palestinian refugees.

The new, yet old formula, that the enemy is getting ready to present to the Arabs is based on exchanging peace for peace, after the Jews have discarded the formula of "land in exchange of peace" and laughed out loud at the Arab initiative launched in the Beirut summit. That is because they have witnessed an Arab world living in the fatal emptiness and moving in the whirl of political death, especially concerning the complicated disputes between its countries at the level in which personal issues intertwine and intersect with the international lines aiming at confiscating the Arab reality, eliminating its elements of strength, and driving it towards accepting the Israeli conditions which aims at ending the Palestinian cause and presenting it in the context of war on terrorism, instead of dealing with the  cause from the angle of putting an end to the occupation that represents the most hideous form of terrorism and the premier source of violence and fighting.

We warn that the enemy will start a new round of pressure on the Palestinians to disperse their demands, squander their causes, and kill their ambitions in the lost time, so that the only choice ahead of them would be a kind of limited autonomy that aims at preserving the security of the Hebrew entity and conclusively withdrawing from the political circulation the issue of a viable independent state, as a result of the facts the colonization has generated and which the Zionist elections have confirmed.

When will the Arabs make their Peace?


Facing this reality, we call all Arabs to break with the unsacred alliance that is still turning away from the resistance in all its factions. We also call on the Palestinian Authority to return to its people instead of flinging in the laps of international and Arab axes that harbor no good for the Palestinian cause, especially now that the so-called peace has been left behind and the image of destruction in Gaza is meant to reign over the entire Palestinian reality and the whole Arab political scene, because the slogan that the Israeli officials keep mentioning is that the strength of their army- and nothing else- is what imposes peace on the Arabs. We do not know when the Arabs will bet on a peace that relies on their own Islamic and Arab force instead of going for the peace of humiliation and disgrace prepared for them in the international and Zionist spheres of arrogance.

Not far from that, the current studies, conducted by Israeli research centers, have shown that the weakness of the Arab world will grant Israel a huge accomplishment and expand its abilities in manipulating the international arena. These studies also warned that reuniting the Arab world will be "for the benefit of the radical camp" which is a new evidence that what is required, from the Israeli perspective, is weakening the security, economical, and political Arab abilities and creating divisions among the Arab countries to consecrate the reality of disunity and the policy of axes within the Arab arena. Accordingly, we wonder about the guards of these divisions and the mobilized parties that work for the enemy claiming that they are the most devoted to the Arab cause, while they actually plan to grant Israel in peace what it has not earned in war.

However, what distresses us more is what the Arab League has decided, via its Secretary General, to hold meetings next month to go through the political changes and developments subsequent to the results of the American and Israeli elections. Perhaps this is to emphasize that the Arabs always fall behind and to go back to the policy of the swaying statements that fear the withdrawal of the Arab initiative, even after Israel had pulled the carpet from under the feet of the League, its countries, and leaders.

Arabs, including the Arab League that completely collapsed before the experience of aggression in Gaza as it had collapsed in other past experiences, should realize that they are facing a critical and dangerous phase threatening their roles, fates, and even their existence. So, they ought to prepare for a survival strategy if they had entirely given up the idea of the strategy of building their strength, at least, to follow the trail of the neighboring nations and peoples.

The Discourse of Fanaticism in Lebanon

As for Lebanon, we are hearing voices driving the official and religious leaders represented by some of their symbols out of the sphere of being a general reference to their communities to the narrow and sectarian tracks bringing them forward as personalities who do not feel relieved for opening up on everyone. This emphasizes what we have feared which is that the religious personalities have fallen- in their turn- in the whirl of functional belonging to this category or that, and have quitted being an element of reconciliation and agreement among all parties… We are afraid that Lebanon, which lacks many references on the general political level, is facing the same problem on the religious level; which shakes the citizen's confidence in this or that leader and creates a new element of disturbance on the general national level.

Moreover, the image gets even darker because of the political rhetoric that evokes fanaticism as a prelude for the elections and witnesses continuous preparations armed by political money to consecrate leaderships and benefit from the economic situation of people sunk in their living problems. All this coincides with a rising talk that this country is ready to pay more and that that axis is moving forward in buying votes and evoking all the sectarian, confessional, and personal elements; which renders the citizen a hostage of instincts and fanatic acts, and a slave for money and for confessional, sectarian, and factional leaders who exploit the people's need for the benefit of external interests that might intersect with the interests of leaderships here and there… Nevertheless, they still talk about freedom and independence! Oh freedom, how many principles and slogans are victimized on your altar and under your slogans and titles!

The true political freedom that should appear in its right place is represented by having the citizen affirm his political stand and express his electoral opinion away from political, fanatic, and financial pressures here and there.